Alternative Rock Round-Up: From Black Metal to Electronic Rock
Dean Blunt – Stone Island
In late August, the elusive Dean Blunt managed to astound his fanbase for the second time this year by abruptly releasing a follow-up to May’s The Redeemer. Stone Island was recorded entirely over the course of seven days in Blunt’s Moscow hotel room, and was made available to stream and download via the Russian website Афиша the following week.
The project’s title track is perhaps Blunt’s most breathtaking piece to date – a minute-long interlude made up of soaring synthesized string textures juxtaposed against a gritty urban field recording and a lamenting, soulful vocal sample. Although perhaps short-winded at just 25 minutes, Stone Island is ultimately a welcome continuation of the candid lyricism and lush compositional palette of its predecessor.
Aaron Dilloway – Opened Door
LA noise musician and ex-Wolf Eyes member, Aaron Dilloway, has a new cassette titled Opened Door available to stream and order via Chondritic Sound’s Bandcamp page. This new tape clocks in at just under 20 minutes – making for a much more manageable listening experience than Dilloway’s last proper offering, 2012’s tape-loop epic Modern Jester.
Moreover, Opened Door’s A-side might just be Dilloway’s most rhythmic piece to date. It actually has a discernible beat; oddly enough, it resembles Burial’s nocturnal two-step garage esthetic. On the other hand, the B-side is more along the lines of what one expects from Dilloway – an eerie, formless tape-loop soundscape – but it’s surprisingly mellow by his standards.
Ulver – Messe I.X-VI.X
Commissioned for Tromsø Kulturhus, Messe I.X-VI.X is an ambitious and eclectic collaboration between Norwegian black metal outfit Ulver, the Tromsø Chamber Orchestra, and the Arctic Opera and Philharmonic Orchestra.
Not surprisingly, Ulver delivers a brilliant blend of classical, dark ambient, and hard rock music. The LP is often haunting, particularly its 12-minute-long instrumental opener, which features a sparse arrangement of droning orchestral strings. However, Ulver is just as adept at crafting truly triumphant musical moments as well – for instance, the latter half of “Son of man,” with its amalgamation of a faint, blooping synth sequence, ascending strings, and rolling percussion.
Wormlust – The Feral Wisdom
Hailing from Reykjavík, Iceland, Wormlust is a band that produces a particularly outlandish brand of black metal. The band’s label, Demonhood Productions, describes its esthetic as “a nightmarish realm of spiraling, chaotic black metal of apocalyptic hallucinogenic qualities, interweaved with bleak astral dreamscapes.”
The above aptly describes the band’s latest effort, The Feral Wisdom – a swirling barrage of extreme arrangements that strive for a bewilderingly kaleidoscopic quality. As confusing as the end-of-the-world, fantasy-mania rhetoric can sound, The Feral Wisdom is ultimately a black metal odyssey that is well worth embarking upon, thanks to Wormlust’s eccentric performances and its ability to craft intriguingly distinctive soundscapes that not only hit the ears hard but also evoke a sense of wonder.
Perhaps – Volume 2
Last month, Boston “stargaze” trio Perhaps released its sophomore album, aptly titled Volume Two. It was made available to stream and buy for ‘name your price’ on Bandcamp, and quickly became the best-selling experimental release on the site.
Volume Two is comprised only of one instrumental track, which nears the half hour mark and features some incredibly tight, jazzy and progressive performances throughout. Notably, Cotton Casino, formerly of Japanese psychedelic act Acid Mothers Temple, contributes synth to the piece.
Syndrome – Colourful Cows
Electronic-rock group Syndrome recently released its debut EP Colourful Cows. This is apparently the first installment in a planned “Colourful Cows” saga written by the band.
Syndrome places a great emphasis on the technological side of music making, deservedly taking pride in programming its own virtual instruments and building new live performance tools. Frankly, the electronics throughout Colourful Cows don’t sound any more groundbreaking than what can be found in other electro-rock and post-rock acts. Still, the band has managed to create a pretty compelling, well-produced set of songs.