MAGIC MIX

avant . leftfield . post-rock . drone

WEEK STARTING 14 Apr

Genre pick of the week Cover of Zoetrope by King Of The Mountains.
If the scattershot ideas of Melodic Records’ schizophrenically brilliant Manchester experimentalists Working From A Nuclear City seemed to be aural metaphors for a galactic explosion, then King Of The Mountains, the new project of their songwriter, keyboardist and producer Phil Kay, hones in on a singular galaxy hurtling away from the blast’s initial impact into the cosmos. With his debut solo LP, the now-London-based artist detaches himself from his band’s tumult of sonic thoughts and sets a flight for more cohesive plains.

Of course, King Of The Mountains being a product of the creatively restless Kay’s own fertile mind means that proceedings are rarely static; built largely around electronics but with its creator embellishing these artificial sounds with a variety of live instrumentation – even teaching himself saxophone in one afternoon to add extra layers. There are wonderfully interwoven structures, ranging from swelling tempestuous dance floor filler (‘Undone’) to richly textured maps of gently bustling sound (‘Stranger Things Have Happened’) and ambient secretions (‘Airstrips’).

“The record was very nearly called Brutalism because I realised that what I was trying to do in music was similar to what brutalist architects were trying to do in the post-war period,” Kay explains. “There's a similarity in using these really hard edged electronic materials to try and create something human and meaningful, and the way the brutalists used concrete and steel to do the same. I'm more influenced by architecture than any other art form other than music. When you see a building like [Barcelona basilica] Sagrada Familia you realise the sheer potential of the creative mind. It gives you something to aim for.”

With that attitude, it’s no surprise that King Of The Mountains contains grandeur even among its more direct four-to-the-floor yearnings; tracks like the sprawling ‘Zoetrope’ are constantly looking for pathways out of their tightly-meshed digital fabric, while the likes of ‘Surrounded’ seek to stimulate the imagination, offering woozy half-light evocations. “A lot of what I do is just trying to create a place (existing or imaginary) that I'd like to be in,” says Kay. “Cities, nature, buildings... Sometimes it’s better to be in a city or a place in your head than actually be there.”

For a decade, Kay was part of the aforementioned Working For A Nuclear Free City – who produced three critically-acclaimed albums between 2006 and 2011 and saw their music included in numerous TV series, films and adverts (from the very first cook up scene in Breaking Bad, to the classic 100 years of Hovis advert that spanned over two minutes). However he found his and co-songwriter Gary McClure’s tunes were starting to drift further apart. “As a result, he released a very acoustic record last year, he really embraced that; my stuff’s been getting more electronic. One of the problems (and arguably one of the strengths) with Working For A Nuclear Free City was that it was very eclectic, which confused people. We wanted to see what would happen if we broke out the two key components of that sound instead of them battling each other.”

It’s true that there isn’t much battling to be found here, with each track as though a different world, like moving through levels on an old arcade computer game. What differs between this and WFANFC though is that there’s a thread holding them together – elements that recur and snaps of sound that come back to you. Kay does most of his electronic work on antiquated software, using Windows XP and the same software he has for the past decade, relishing in attempting to challenge their limitations.

FORMAT INFORMATION

Ltd LP Info: LP is limited to 300 copies.

Future Islands are a post-wave dance band from North Carolina - now residing in the fertile music capital of Baltimore. Future Islands play a terse yet passionate music wrought from a stripped back palette. Gerrit Welmer's cartwheeling synthesizer melodies tumble across the austere wilderness of William Cashio's post punk bass pulse, driven ever forward by Eric Murillo's ecstatic feel for rhythm. Perhaps the most striking aspect of the band's sound however takes shape in the form of Sam Herring's distinctive guttural vocal, delivered as Glenn Danzig if he ever found himself in a Shakespearean tragedy.

FORMAT INFORMATION

CD Info: Re-release.

New Heavy Sounds gives you the self titled debut album from London Doom/Sludge monsters Limb. Limb have been a band to catch by those in the know on the Doom/Sludge scene since their formation in 2011. The underground metal label 'Witch Hunter Records' was hooked enough to release the band's early demos, as well as a recent split EP with fellow sludge merchants Gurt, on which Limb cover and truly demolish Queen's 'Son and Daughter'. They are also a crushing live outfit, that have shared stages around the country with bands like Conan, Witchsorrow and label-mates Black Moth and Throne. Championed by Metal Hammer, Terrorizer and the rest, 'Gift Of The Sun', Limb's first release for NHS, even made onto BBC radio and that perhaps highlights Limb's singular vision. Their sound is shot through with an alternative twist on the Doom/Sludge theme. The record’s dynamics and approach are akin to Slint in many ways, though post rock it most certainly isn't. It's deliberately stripped-down. Stark, bleak and visceral. As dark and menacing as Joy Division 'de-tuned', though post-punk it most certainly isn't. There are moments of sleazy psychedelics, blasts of cosmic rock and brushes with hardcore. This is one heavy record. For this release we have some very special cover art, created by the super talented (and super hot) Richey Beckett, fresh from his work with Metallica and Mastodon. It's pretty special: intricately detailed and darkly beautiful.

FORMAT INFORMATION

LP Info: The super deluxe vinyl edition will come in a gatefold sleeve, with a heavyweight 180g, green and black vinyl record, plus an insert of the cover art and a free download of the whole album. Vinyl is limited to just 300 copies.

"The Seer took 30 years to make. It’s the culmination of every previous Swans album as well as any other music I’ve ever made, been involved in, or imagined. But it’s unfinished, like the songs themselves. It’s one frame in a reel. The frames blur, blend and will eventually fade.

The songs began on an acoustic guitar, then were fleshed out with (invaluable) help from my friends, then were further tortured and seduced in rehearsals, live, and in the studio, and now they await further cannibalism and force-feeding as we prepare to perform some of them live, at which point they’ll mutate further, endlessly, or perhaps be discarded for a while.

Despite what you might have heard or presumed, my quest is to spread light and joy through the world. My friends in Swans are all stellar men. Without them I’m a kitten, an infant. Our goal is the same: ecstasy!" - Michael Gira.

“For the last two years, one of the world’s most bellicose bands has paid respect to its legacy largely by leaving it alone and tried to expand it by testing its old limits … this is exactly the kind of forward-pointing roadmark Swans deserve.” —Pitchfork

“The Swans are currently the greatest rock band on the planet....” —The Quietus

“[Gira] is looking for beauty, pure and simple, unfettered by meaning or standard songwriting notions of emotional resonance.” —The Wire



STAFF COMMENTS

Darryl says: The mighty Swans return with 'The Seer'. From ribcage crushing noise to gentle acoustic passages, this has all the hallmarks of the classic Swans "sound"; intense, powerful and pure.


RT @naylor_tony: I hate football. Lacrosse, that's the game for me.
Wed 16th - 9:27
RT @WeArePins: We have signed 50 copies of our SHOOT YOU//ELEVENTH HOUR Record Store Day release, they will be available from... http://t.c…
Wed 16th - 9:06
RT @u_vband: Limited edition cassette of our new single 'Cuts' - available @PiccadillyRecs on RSD 19 April. Xx http://t.co/ZWahsOXngy
Wed 16th - 8:18
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