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Gross Net

Gross Net Means Gross Net

    Gross Net is the project of Belfast-based artist Philip Quinn, guitarist of the now defunct Girls Names. A departure from the techno-driven sound of 2015's 'Quantitative Easing,' 'Gross Net Means Gross Net' bridges dark electronics, avant garde experimentation, and black humor. The album title is based on a remark made by British Prime Minister Theresa May "Brexit Means Brexit," and 'Gross Net Means Gross Net' is just that - whatever Quinn sanctions the project to be. What it is is truly unique. Shaken by the political upheavals in the US and UK in 2016, the refugee crisis, and the consequences of present-day capitalism, Quinn mined internal feelings of mental anguish and slowly pieced the album together starting with acoustic guitar sketches that would evolve into the carefully crafted compositions that comprise 'Gross Net Means Gross Net.'

    Throughout the album, melodies of rapture and unease duel, creating a dizzying anxiety ala the minimal electronic doom of Coil and Bish Bosch-era Scott Walker. The ethereal "Gentrification" alludes to the orchestral ambience of Popol Vuh, eventually entering unexpected pop territory with the arrival of a palpitating beat and Quinn's delicate croon. "Of Late Capitalism" demonstrates Quinn's range of instrumentation with combat-ready percussion and ominous textures wielded from both synths and guitars. The equally gorgeous and unsettling "Dust to Dust," with its melancholic beauty, builds to a dramatic conclusion that marks the album's cinematic climax. Conceived in the void of personal isolation and societal darkness, 'Gross Net Means Gross Net' is an eerily intimate affair that captivates with its originality. 

    Toronto trio Odonis Odonis merges pulsing electronics and foreboding textures to create a palpable sense of doom. Drawing on EBM and industrial influences, "Reaction" finds the band further refining the sound they carved out on 2017's "No Pop" LP. Noisy synths saturate the sonic space, cut with sharp, bruising rhythms. The band offers up club fare with the throbbing four-on-the-floor "Insect" lashed with whip-cracking drum breaks.

    A heavy atmosphere layered with taunting vocal provocations creep throughout the four-song EP, and by the final track "Rip", howling screams propel a crushing climax. The EP was written while the band was touring to support "No Pop", and the evolution between the two releases is seamless. During this time, the band perfected the songs by testing them out live, chiseling away to the core of each piece. Recording also took place simultaneously while writing, and much of what made the cut is comprised of or structured around first takes. Produced, mixed, and mastered by the band themselves, Reaction is a concise, focused collection of songs that perfectly captures the band's unrestrained energy and spontaneity.


    Chasms

    The Mirage

      Chasms was formed in 2011 by Jess Labrador and Shannon Madden. Following 2016's ‘On the Legs of Love Purified' and the recent "Divine Illusion" single, 'The Mirage' pushes the band's ethereal sound into the murky depths of dub. Marking a sonic shift for the project, 'The Mirage' finds the duo trading in chaotic bursts of noise for understated minimalism that's still characteristically melancholic and potent with emotion. Labrador's drum production is as deft as ever with an expanded range of electronic samples and tape-delay-induced polyrhythms.

      Layered with Madden's persistently dubby bass, Labrador's sparse guitar and gliding soprano float above a labyrinth of hypnotic sequences. These dub-laced dirges signify growth within the band, heard in their command of repetition, space, and effects to build a pervasive mood that's often utterly heartbreaking. The duo’s second LP for the Felte label, ‘The Mirage’ was conceived following major upheaval in the pair’s lives, including the loss of Madden's brother and a number of the band's friends in Oakland’s Ghost Ship warehouse fire in 2016. Compounded with the dissolution of a marriage, and leaving San Francisco after more than a decade to relocate to Los Angeles, the album is an exploration of grief and the multifaceted heartbreak that follows such events.

      What we think we see, what we think we know to be true, how we think life will turn out, the plans we make – all reduced to an illusion when someone you expected to be alive tomorrow is gone, when plans fail, when the mask is removed, and you are left simply to be. Mixed by Josh Eustis (Telefon Tel Aviv) and mastered by Rafael Anton Irisarri, 'The Mirage' tells candid narratives of a heavy heart but does not wallow in despair. At times, the album even offers danceable moments as in the entrancing, textural "Every Heaven in Between" with its restless techno and houseinspired four-on-the-floor beat. Sliding guitar chords and a smoky bass line wade between rhythmic pulsing and a booming kick in the narcotic "Shadow." A transformative assemblage of songs, 'The Mirage' is a powerful reflection on the events that shatter and shape our lives. 

      Gold Class

      Drum

        The week we started to write Drum, my relationship ended and I was left alone in a drafty, old house, which belonged to a friend of a friend. I’d been moving around from place to place for eight or nine months at that point, since just after our first album was released. When the band got together that week to write, the first thing that came out was the song “Get Yours.” written in one jam, just this hurricane of noise.

        In the house, I sat around with my notebook, the quiet hours cut with news from friends and the TV: the suicides of musicians and writers I’d known and queer kids I hadn’t; the systematic abuse of vulnerable people, the constant mockery of anyone on the outs. I knew what the purpose of the album would be when I wrote the repeated line in “Get Yours”: “There’s none left here and all I need.” I wanted it to be a record of defiance, a resistance to the idea of scrambling for a place at a table that wasn’t set for you. A sort of a love letter to anyone who not only can’t meet the standard but doesn’t want to. I wanted it to be a record of rage and ecstasy and endless nights and sex and dumb fun and ventures in solidarity. Not just an album of urgency and longing, but one of abandon and a reclaiming of a self beyond boundaries.

        But I couldn’t avoid what was immediately happening in my life, either, that the end of my relationship had uncovered a lot of the feelings of isolation I experienced growing up. And so it turned out that the album is also personal, and I think is in conversation with queer histories of silence and evasion and transgression, which I was revisiting through the writing of James Baldwin and Cocteau. Childhood imagery kept creeping into the lyrics. Maybe I was trying to come to some peace with the past and to stand up and find some agency in the present. I suppose it was the most defiant thing I could think to do: not to write as some act of catharsis but in an attempt simply to document and claim my existence; that I am here. It seems a worthwhile enough act when our existences are being further and further streamlined, turned into commodities unworthy of protections or acts of humanity, when some weird version of equality and not liberation is now the aim of even the left.

        I want to be the author of my words. My words are often still at the mercy of my day-to-day, but I can try to locate them in history and to look beyond myself, too. That’s what I’ve tried to do. The politics and the personal experiences were sticky and came out all tangled up. I couldn’t detach them. I can’t still, maybe because not enough time has passed since making the record, but maybe because those things simply can’t be detached. I suspect that last part is nearest to the truth. 

        RIYL: Liars, TV on the Radio, Caribou, Suuns. PVT, known as Pivot to anyone in the know, are an act that's embraced technology at every turn - gritty, new, confronting - and their uncompromised songwriting and musical understanding have seen their first four albums released to global acclaim. After years of touring, the band wound up cast far and wide, residing each in a different continent. 2017 sees members Dave Miller along with brothers Richard & Laurence Pike return home to Australia with their fifth album, New Spirit.

        This album contains that beautiful type of music written out of compulsion, a calling and an impulse to explore the new place that Australia has become -- a hotbed for political and cultural intolerance. The country has succumbed to divisive politics and irrational fear. Obvious fraud and immorality driven by a gutless media and an indifferent public. PVT's uncompromising approach to musical self-determination has never been this sharp, and especially never this political. The sound of the record itself is that of a stark digital future, but under the surface there's nostalgia for a different time, another way of thinking, another life. PVT are exploring. Expanding on expectations. They carry with them the bravery and courage of the old explorer with the tolerance and understanding of the new. And they want you to join them.

        Chasms

        On The Legs Of Love Purified

        Debut album from this San Francisco, female based duo. Chasms is the San Francisco based project of Jess Labrador and Shannon Madden. The duo crafts percussive dirges that are at once beautiful and menacing. Labrador's haunting vocals and hypnotizing guitar work wade between rhythmic bass lines and bursts of Madden's stinging feedback, laid on a bed of pummeling drum programming. The band's affinity for industrial rhythms, swelling textures, precise minimalism, and chaotic eruptions of noise sounds as equally informed by shoegaze as drone and doom metal—to choose just one would be a disservice. On the Legs of Love Purified, the band's debut full-length album, will see the light of day on October 14th. Written over the course of several years, the album explores the healing force of love and the exorcism of pain that inescapably accompanies it. Light cannot exist without dark, bliss without suffering. …Love Purified conjures this atmosphere of duality as it drifts through an expanse of emotion. While this is Chasms’ debut, they’ve been an active duo since 2012. They’ve released the When It Comes (Dream, 2012), Riser (Dream, 2014) EPs and the "Bad Evolution" single (Sleep Genius, 2012). They then collected a majority of the two Eps on the Subtle Bodies compilation album (Sleep Genius, 2014). Why hasn’t it taken so long for a debut album? Labrador spent a year recording the album herself despite a hand injury that made guitar playing and production work difficult and physically painful. Recording between the band's illegally rented rehearsal space and a cramped apartment compounded a sense of tension and isolation as the two struggled to not only finish the album but to also stay afloat in a city that is increasingly hostile to artists, and where the threat of eviction constantly looms. This underlying uneasiness and discomfort can be heard in these recordings, and it works not to mar their beauty but rather to emphasize it by contrast. 

        RIYL: D.A.F., Nine Inch Nails, HEALTH, Metz. Toronto underground staple Odonis Odonis broke out in 2011 with their scrappy, blown out debut, Hollandaze. The dynamic trio instantly began turning heads with their signature "industrial surf-gaze" sound.

        On their Polaris Prize nominated follow up, Hard Boiled Soft Boiled, Odonis Odonis masterfully crafted a sonically divergent record that pushed their sound into new territory. Odonis Odonis' latest epic, Post Plague, delivers a powerful blend of industrial, electronic and Sci-Fi. Odonis Odonis' post--apocalyptic anthems construct scenes of sci-fi horror and saturate them with industrial strength synth beats. Dean Tzenos' vocals sit clear and upfront, delivered with a foreboding intensity accented by his synth motifs and soundscapes. Denholm Whale's carefully crafted bass figures / electronic percussions are strategically placed like demolition charges throughout the sonic foundations of each track that Jarod Gibson, like some futurist architect, constructs.

        On Post Plague, Odonis Odonis delivers the kind of hypnotic, pulsing destruction that you can't wipe away. Post Plague inhabits that impending reality of synthetic experience which forces us to realize what we are: vulnerable, frantic creatures yearning for an authentic present / future. Jeff Goldblum, in the acclaimed motion picture The Fly, reminds us that we must take a “deep penetrating dive into the plasma pool,” and take stock of ourselves before we lose something profound. Something that may be necessary to ward off a pending anthropogenic apocalypse. Recognize and take pleasure in our fucked up place in time as we have so many new worlds possible at once.

        Ashley Shadow

        Ashley Shadow

          With the release of her eponymous debut album, Ashley Shadow has at long last taken center stage after a decade of valuable contributions to highly regarded, diverse musical acts. Though bestowed with a strong voice both lulling and bracing in its quality, Ashley spent the first five years of her musical career playing bass guitar for rock-noir outfit The Organ before recording and/or touring with Bonnie Prince Billy, Pink Mountaintops, The Cave Singers and Lightning Dust. Her self-titled debut endeavors to find certainty amidst incessant change and ensures that her talent -- a secret long known around her home of Vancouver, British Columbia -- will be shared with the rest of the world's melody lovers.

          Enlisting the help of producer and multi-instrumentalist Josh Wells (Black Mountain), guitarists Ryan Beattie (Himalayan Bear) Peter Le Grand and Darcy Hancock, Ashley Shadow has asserted an independent stake in the musical community she has enriched for so long. Prior to focusing on her own songwriting, Ashley has given much of her heart and energy to working with the marginalized, at risk population in Vancouver. When she stepped back to reflect on these experiences, songs were inspired by both relationships during that time and the unique emotional work and struggles she involved herself in. 

          Brooklyn based duo Lushes have thought long and hard about the pros and cons of quitting their day jobs and they are confused. Don't you worry. They're not looking for an answer. They have an album for you, though - Service Industry - out October 16, 2015. The album is a rollercoaster through the maze of modern living. It was recorded and mixed by Sonic Youth's long time engineer Aaron Mullan at Echo Canyon, during a period of intense money, work and life stress. The record also includes some guest appearances from Zs front man Sam Hillmer, Justin Frye of PC Worship (Upright Bass on "You Only Have") and Jonathan Schenke (Parquet Courts' engineer and member of Eaters).

          Service Industry extends the tensions begun with Lushes' debut album, What Am I Doing. In their first album, the themes of anxiety were often held back in pursuit of serene moments, brief escapes from our mundane lives. With Service Industry, Lushes give you something more raw, more guitar-and-drum driven, more primal.

          The album throws a wrench in things. It stands as a map of a crisis, a bleak and gorgeous snapshot of our world, and a question: why continue living like we do?

          Au.Ra

          Jane's Lament

          Sydney's Au.Ra, a duo composed of Tim Jenkins and Tom Crandles, are set to release their new full length Jane's Lament, a work which carefully envelops the listener in dreamy hues of sound. Made over the course of two years, the LP was birthed from improvised jams the pair play over droning guitars and looped drum beats. Tracks like “Sun,” and “Pyramid” emerge slowly out of interplays between simple melodies and layered, reverbed instrumentation.

          Au.Ra's “emotive soundscapes” perfectly encase their nontraditional pop songwriting, like on highlight “Morning,” where shimmering guitar riffs transport you to a serene, meditative realm. Their repetitive lyrics belie this easy transcendence, sometimes even verging on incantation. These songs evoke a languid drive along a bending highway in autumn, the scenery and light shifting ever so slowly out the windows. As the sun sets earlier, this is an album to savor with the dying light.


          Mysteries is just as it implies. A few months ago the felte label received an anonymous demo accompanied by a photo of 3 figures, faces covered like some sort of futuristic druids. To this day the label still doesn't know the group's origin, but the joy of discovering this music unimpeded renders this fact almost irrelevant.

          There’s a sense that the band would prefer to keep your focus on the music and not who they are, where they come from or what you might perceive them to be before hearing a single note. If you need glorious mug shots and preamble to capture your intrigue, then this is not for you. The album’s title, New Age Music is Here, could even be interpreted as a sarcastic shot at the new listening habits dictated by the constant noise all around us, but is more likely a simple invitation to engage with the music on its own terms, in its own universe. One thing is certain. New Age Music Is Here glows with exotic, crunchy, muscular, expressive pop music built around vocals and drums, rather than the big synth or guitar riffs prevalent today. Almost like a psych-rock, cyborg, 50's doo-wop Alice Coltrane if you will. Is it truly new age? We definitely haven't heard much like it.

          Listen with an open mind and heart and you too might believe in music once again strictly for music’s sake. Let’s get to it then, shall we?


          Detroit three piece Ritual Howls new album tells stories fit for Poe or Lovecraft. On their debut full length for felte, titled Turkish Leather, they incorporate a variety of styles into an ominously self-assured statement of intent, Ben Saginaw and Chris Samuels' sounds providing an imposing form for Paul Bancell's darkly alive lyrics to inhabit. Their influences range from English post-punk to Nick Cave to the industrial sounds of Skinny Puppy, and the band melds them expertly. Combining field recordings with electronics, this music is sound design turned pop. Many tracks here feel cinematic – whether it's the industrial clanging of “A Taste of You,” which brings to mind a Lynchian bar scene, or the gothy synths of “Take Me Up,” a slow burning track that escalates into full on melodrama. It's easy to imagine these twangy guitar lines gracing a scene in a Jarmusch film: their aesthetic owes as much to Tom Waits as it does Ennio Moriccone.

          Ritual Howls manages to take all these influences and come out sounding uniquely morbid, raw and unyielding – never derivative. It's a record that holds nothing back: the band announcing themselves to the world with all of the confidence of long time professionals. Their future audience will greet them with enthusiasm.


          Lushes are a band born of tensions – between art and math, order and chaos, planning and chance. You can hear it in their songs – taut, twitching art-punk that balance anxiety and elation, often within the space of a few bars. Album opener "Harsh" glides along slowly, feeling like a moody and measured art-rock meditation until you zero in on the words in the chorus: "Harsh on my ears, that's the way I like it." This is push-pull music, songs that temper the jagged fitfulness of groups like June of 44 and Slint with the soft-focus sweetness and open-ended song structures of The Sea & Cake and The Notwist. That moods so diametrically opposed can peacefully coexist is part of Lushes mystery and allure. That duality extends to the group's background. James Ardery and Joel Myers were living in worlds far removed from music, both working day jobs that neither of them enjoyed. Their personalities were different – James was outspoken and gregarious, Joel introverted and reserved. Their musical backgrounds were different: James grew up pillaging his father's record collection, getting turned on to Nirvana and Wu-Tang Clan by his older brother and attending hardcore shows by pioneering bands like Fugazi at 12 years old. Joel was formally trained, loving classical music but almost completely oblivious to rock and pop. The fusion of their disparate influences is what animates Lushes – the anarchy of punk and hardcore colliding with the precision of jazz to create music that is marvelously ordered while still feeling seconds away from detonation. That tension pulses throughout What Am I Doing, the group's warring influences making for music that feels brittle and vital.

          The Tower Of Light

          The Tower Of Light

          Beaming its sleep-walking sound from a bedroom in Brooklyn, The Tower of Light deals in the marriage of polarities on his self-titled debut album. At once delicate and severe, ecstatic then pensive, both sparse and lush, it follows a road that was paved by the early days of 4AD and its strange, beautiful diversity, while making unexpected stylistic detours as it winds its way through the ether. Though the general mood is hypnotic and arresting in equal measure and the sonic details reveal no allegiance to any genre in particular, one consistent thread is the pairing of thoughtful melodic/harmonic counterpoints against tense, elaborate atmospherics. Imagine a catchy pop song being hijacked, slowed to a narcotic pitch, its words turned to surrealist poetry, then all of it wrapped in a warm blanket of drone. It's these juxtapositions that consistently reveal the project's center of gravity. "Carrier" begins as a bittersweet lament; harmonies compound until a small chorus is pining an unnamed loss, when suddenly things turn eerie; booming drums, lilting swells of unrecognizable instrumentation, panicked breaths and an atonal breakdown later, the mood is very different- more sensual, definitely more ominous- what was lost now seems buried on purpose. The monomaniacal "New God" obsesses simply and cyclically over a strange yearning in a cold, empty place but steadily accumulates mass and ferocity until it transmutes altogether into a hot, pummeling fury that fans of Swans may find familiar. Comparatively, "Honey Resist" shimmers behind an opaque haze of rising melodies which careen into one another, intertwining sweetly, refocusing the listener on the light as opposed to the end of the tunnel. "Lightnet" feels sinister, it drives manic and white-knuckled toward whats seems will be an unavoidably violent climax only to pause, take a deep breath, and soar into space instead. Relentlessly unpredictable and effortlessly genre-defying, The Tower of Light can be difficult to pin down. And while some may read the aesthetics as more black-hole than shining sun, this is music that feels very aware that both are just different states in the same life cycle.

          A sense of place. It's a notion that has informed some of our most memorable works of art — everyone has a favorite book or painting or album that somehow has the power to immerse you completely in its world, so much so that you don't want to leave.

          This sense of creating art that can spirit you away somewhere else entirely is something that most definitely also informs the selftitled debut album from Brooklyn-based band ERAAS. In 2011, the band's founding members, Robert Toher and Austin Stawiarz, both ex-members of New England-based project Apse, were gravitating more towards ritualistic and darker themes not fully explored in their previous incarnation. In searching for a place to translate this mood to record, the duo settled on a rambling, atmospheric mansion in Western Massachusetts outside of Northampton. ERAAS decided to retreat to an area steeped in history and its own distinct atmosphere — all deserted hill towns and melancholy beauty — to make this record. The decision paid rich creative dividends — this is an album that's heavy with both an ominous mood and a certain orchestral grandeur.

          When you listen to these songs, the ambience of the house itself is palpable, its creaking boards and tenebrous hallways reflected in the claustrophobic, echo-laden production — from the mournful strings that introduce the opening "Black House" until the flurry of tribal percussion that brings final track "Trinity" to a conclusion, there's a real sense of mood that never relents. The album plays out more like a single coherent entity than a simple collection of songs, the tracks emerging ghost-like from the shadows and then receding into interludes of whispers and strange, abstract samples. The songs are built around insistent basslines and driving percussion, along with a distinctive, evocative vocal sound created with deft utilization of delays and reverbs. Tracks like "Briar Path" and "A Presence" sound like stumbling across secret rituals, all haunted vocal melodies and spidery guitar figures. Other songs see subtle elements drifting in and out of the mix— "Crescent" is adorned by a delicate piano melody that sounds like it was recorded from an old Victrola, strange whisperings lurk deep in the mix of "Ghost", while "Trinity" strips things back to percussion and an insistent, rasping vocal.


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