March 30, 2009

Femi Kuti - Africa Shrine

Band/artist - Femi Kuti
Genre(s) - Afrobeat (jazz, world music)
Origin - Nigeria
Album - Africa shrine
Year of release - 2004

...and now for something completely different. Afrobeat is an amalgam of jazz, rock, and African traditional music. Very uplifting music to say the least, and much more structured than regular jazz - it even has choruses, and catchy ones they are too! Tribal percussion is coupled to Western instruments like guitars, sax and Hammond organ, but still with characteristic African melodies
. As you may have guessed, Femi is the eldest son of the famous Fela Kuti, and has stepped into his father's footsteps as a saxophonist and activist. He blows a mean sax and has a strong, proud voice. He also shares his father's radical democratic, pan-African viewpoints that are being expressed clearly through the lyrics as a call for all Africans to step up to the plate and help build a self-sufficient, self-determining Africa. This live album was recorded in Nigeria and is hard not to enjoy: it crackles with energy and breathes the spirit of the continent. It paints you a picture, and then I don't mean of the wide plains drowning in sunset with giraffes striding along the horizon, but of a people, struggling for survival in a world wrecked by colonialism.
  1. Intro
  2. Dem bobo
  3. Oyimbo
  4. I wanna be free
  5. If them want to hear
  6. Eho
  7. 1, 2, 3, 4
  8. Yeparipa
  9. Can't buy me
  10. Bring me the man now
  11. '97
  12. Intro to Shotan
  13. Shotan
  14. Water no get enemy
Load it down (62.10 MB)

March 24, 2009

Summoning - Stronghold

Band/artist - Summoning
Genre(s) - Blackened medieval metal
Origin - Austria
Album - Stronghold
Year of release - 1999

Legendary metal band from Austria, with a rather distinct style.
At first glance there seem to be a million reasons I could hate this band: slow black(-ish) metal with strong Medieval undercurrents as provided, of course, by loads upon loads of synths, and with programmed drums that are supposed to resemble old battledrums. The production is rather outdated too, as far as I'm concerned, but few black metal enthusiasts would share my complaints. Somehow though, with Summoning, it all fits together quite satisfactorily. There is little I hate more than digital drums in black metal, and I think by dressing them up as quasi-Medieval percussion, Summoning avoid a major aesthetic flaw here. It's quite a find, really. The guitars and keyboards are near-inseparable to the naked ear, keeping the sound cohesive, and melodies that are potentially crude are layered in such a way as to create something epic. The Medievalism of the melodies makes this a comparatively easily digestable, even bright band for its style, and Stronghold I think epitomises this sound; the refrain of the mysteriously titled Like Some Snow-White Marble Eyes can be called positively jubilant.
  1. Rhûn
  2. Long lost to where no pathway goes
  3. The glory disappears
  4. Like some snow-white marble eyes
  5. Where hope and daylight die
  6. The rotting horse on the deadly ground
  7. The shadow lies frozen on the sky
  8. The loud music of the sky
  9. A distant flame before the sun
Load it down (57.91 MB)

March 22, 2009


Band/artist - Amesoeurs
Genre(s) - Black metal/post-punk
Origin - Avignon, France

Okay, so Amesoeurs released their full-length. And it is, of course, beautiful, and glorious, and magical. They split up too, for which I hate them a bit, but it's alright. When I founded this blog, I decided not to jump onto every new record being released, plenty of other blogs do that, so here's a little retrospection instead. Gotta say, though, that I'm super glad there's finally some more material available than just four short tracks.

Album - Ruines Humaines EP
Year of release - 2006

It's surprising how well-developed the Amesoeurs-sound was even on the EP: modernist black metal with harsh and female vocals, melancholic, clean melodies and influences from 80s new-wave and post-punk bands. The idea was to give an impression of metropolitan life and the grey spiritual emptiness it entails. In this sense it's a counterpart to Alcest, band leader Neige's other main project, which sounds more naturalistic and is consequently a lot brighter and hopeful. Ruines Humaines is a bit too standard for my taste, but both the other songs, especially Faiblesse des Sens, are simply gorgeous and they tear at the heartstrings with skilled, nimble fingers.
  1. Bonheur amputé
  2. Ruines humaines
  3. Faiblesse des sens
Load it down (17.98 MB)

Album - Split with Valfunde
Year of release - 2007

As for the split, I can't get into the Valfunde tracks at all, they are simply too odd and formless to be called music if you ask me. But the Amesoeurs track, fully post-punk this time and sung by the wonderful Audrey Silvain, is gutwrenchingly beautiful especially when at the end the totally depressing clean guitars make their doleful appearance.
  1. Valfunde - Hôpital
  2. Valfunde - "Sérénade" de Verlaine
  3. Amesoeurs - Les ruches malades
Load it down (19.60 MB)

March 21, 2009

Indigo Girls - 1200 Curfews

Band/artist - Indigo Girls
Genre(s) - Folk rock
Origin - Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Album - 1200 Curfews
Year of release - 1995

Amy Ray and Emily Saliers are two awesome women, deeply
entrenched in the Queer movement, the American Indian struggle for self-determination, and environmental activism. By the name of Indigo Girls they make awesome folk rock, in which these themes often recur, as well as frequent references to the Old Testament and more regular, romantic topics. This is a live album, of course, so it has a nice cross-section of their songs and sounds all the more dynamic. A backing band wielding drums, bass and electric guitar is present for that extra schwung. Some of their best songs are characterised by that sense of urgency that graces a lot of political folk. The most suitable example is the lyrically and musically intense This Train Revised, which is a MUST-listen even if you weren't planning on taking the album - so get it here. Such monumental interplay between vocals, electric guitar and drums, such powerful singing, such profound subject matter - a highlight on a release that knows no low points.

Disc 1 - Load it down (64.78 MB)
  1. Joking
  2. Least complicated
  3. Thin line
  4. River
  5. Stranger fire
  6. Power of two
  7. Pushing the needle too far
  8. Virginia Woolf
  9. Jonas and Ezekial
  10. Tangled up in blue
  11. World falls
  12. Bury my heart at Wounded Knee
  13. Ghost
  14. Dead man's hill
Disc 2 - Load it down (76.09 MB)
  1. I don't wanna know
  2. Galileo
  3. Down by the river
  4. Love's recovery
  5. Land of Canaan
  6. Mystery
  7. This train revised
  8. Back together again
  9. Language of the kiss
  10. Chickenman
  11. Midnight train to Georgia
  12. Closer to fine
  13. Bury my heart at Wounded Knee
  14. Data

Voyager - Voyager

Band/artist - Voyager
Genre(s) - Doom metal, post-rock
Origin - United States of America
Album - Voyager
Year of release - 2008

Debut EP (just over half an hour) of a promising new doom metal band that blends post-rock arrangements with the urgent intensity of sludge, and the melancholy, and some of the riffs, of doom-death metal. Sludge has never been able to catch my attention but by tactfully describing this as post-deathdoom, they got me to try it out anyway. It's really good; especially for being the band's first attempt. The combination between doom and post-rock works well, perhaps better even than Caïna's attempt to try the trick on black metal. It adds tension as the riffs seem to somehow vibrate, allowing for a spectacular discharge according to post-rock tradition. You may wanna keep an eye on this band if you're into this kind of music, they seem to know what they're doing better than I know how to describe it.
  1. Crushing winds
  2. Static pulse
  3. Drifter
  4. Avulsion
  5. Surfacing
Load it down (44.67 MB)

March 19, 2009

Smorzando - Smrad

Band/artist - Smorzando
Genre(s) - Black metal
Origin - Switzerland
Album - Smrad
Year of release - 2008

Nature here is vile and base [...] the birds are in misery, I don't think they - they sing, they just screech in pain. So starts the fifth song of this demo, reflecting quite accurately the overall mood Smorzando tries to generate. Misery is the keyword here: the music is raw and oppressive, but has all kinds of warped, seemingly disembodied melodies and half-melodies, just barely noticable, floating among the claustrophobic haze. Disturbed shrieks and harsh rasping vocals betray a hatred of life and all it has to offer. It seems superfluous to say that the result is a hypnotic, yet very alienating soundscape that is deeply negative in nature and potentially harmful to your mental stability. "Favourites" - or better said, the most effective tracks - are the first and the last. This is roughly the audial equivalent of locking yourself up in the crawlspace and then chewing off your hands and feet. Please do enjoy.
  1. Lied 1
  2. Lied 2
  3. Lied 3
  4. Lied 4
  5. Lied 5
Load it down (47.35 MB)

March 16, 2009

Lunar Aurora - Zyklus

Band/artist - Lunar Aurora
Genre(s) - Black metal
Origin - Rosenheim, Southern Germany
Album - Zyklus
Year of release - 2004

What's in a day? You wake up reluctantly, go to work for some boss who doesn't pay you enough, eat your microwave meal in front of the TV and drink yourself into a stupor without getting off the couch in the meantime. I'm sure this isn't how Lunar Aurora mean it. Indeed, the passing of the day as a metaphor for the cycle ("Zyklus" in German, in case you wondered) of life is an ancient one indeed, as exemplified by the Sphinxes' riddle back when such creatures still walked the Earth. Night, then, symbolises death, and not without reason the last song is the longest and darkest section of the cycle. What makes a cycle, however, is that it doesn't know an end. And indeed, after all seems over and everything has gone quiet, there is a rebirth, and quite spectacularly so, I might add. Okay, but what about the music? If you know Lunar Aurora I don't have to tell you about their unparallelled ability to create a pitch black atmosphere, utterly relentless, utterly malignant and utterly mindwarping. Zyklus sounds most like a much more developed and consistent Elixir of Sorrow and it's the closest to ambient black metal that they have made. To those for whom Burzum, Vinterriket and Xasthur just don't cut it: this is for you.
  1. Der Morgen (The morning)
  2. Der Tag (The day)
  3. Die Abend (The evening)
  4. Der Nacht (The night)
Load it down (63.13 MB)

March 8, 2009

All Girl Summer Fun Band - All Girl Summer Fun Band

Band/artist - All Girl Summer Fun Band
Genre(s) - Twee pop
Origin - United States of America
Album -
All Girl Summer Fun Band
Year of release - 2002

With all the metal these last few weeks, you're probably dying for something a bit brighter right about now. And what music is more diametrically opposed to metal (except maybe power metal, itself the indie pop among the extreme music subgenres) than twee?? It's been way too long since this blog has featured some good sunny picknick pop anyway, so I present to you, the All Girl Summer Fun Band ("they're having fun again!").
How can you go wrong with a band like that, the name is enough to cheer you up! But of course it's what's inside that matters. Simple, bouncy, starry-eyed songs about boyfriends, life's tiniest problems, boyfriends, fun stuff and boyfriends, it doesn't get much more twee than this. With jangly guitars and lyrics such as "Canadian Boyfriend, I don't mind making the trip / Canadian Boyfriend, I wanna change my citizenship", they will conquer your heart. Too bad it's only March, this stuff makes you feel like eating icecream and playing badminton.
  1. Brooklyn phone call
  2. Canadian boyfriend
  3. Car trouble
  4. Later operator
  5. Cut your hair
  6. Somehow angels
  7. Theme song
  8. It's there
  9. Girl #3
  10. Stumble over my
  11. New in town
  12. Cutie pie
  13. Cell phone
Load it down (36.33 MB)

Blind Guardian - Imaginations from the Other Side

Band/artist - Blind Guardian
Genre(s) - Power/speed metal
Origin - Germany
Album - Imaginations from the Other Side
Year of release - 1995

I've always been more of an Iced Earth guy, but one cannot deny Blind Guardian's rightful place on the power metal firmament.
Out of the band's many albums, Nightfall in Middle Earth gets all the praise, but as far as I'm concerned, Imaginations is the band's pinnacle. Not hampered by annoying interludes and a storyline, this is straight up metal madness with blistering riffs, rousing choruses, and the great voice of Hansi Kürsch. Songs like The Script for my Requiem, Bright Eyes, Another Holy War and the title track are nothing short of epic. Okay, A Past and Future Secret is one of their more "bardic" songs that lent them the honourary title of ass-raping hobbit metal among the kvlt kids. It's true their ballads are generally horrible but fuck you, Blind Guardian has a lot more to offer than that.
  1. Imaginations from the other side
  2. I'm alive
  3. A past and future secret
  4. The script for my requiem
  5. Mordred's song
  6. Born in a mourning hall
  7. Bright eyes
  8. Another holy war
  9. And the story ends
Load it down (44.45 MB)

March 6, 2009

Caïna - Temporary Antennae

Band/artist - Caïna
Genre(s) - Post-black metal
Origin - United Kingdom
Album - Temporary Antennae
Year of release - 2008

Another runner-up to my Best of 2008; and like the leader of that list, another project flying the flag for inventive British black metal. Caïna was founded as a one-man raw but complex BM band but gradually turned more experimental, with especially post-rock influences seeping into the music. I've tried to describe the resulting soundscapes for hours, but it wouldn't work. Let's just say the music is at times sprawling like a hillside river, at times suffocating like a dungeon wall, and at times both. Temporary Antennae oozes avant-gardism in every direction, which I guess keeps the songs distinguishable, but also makes the album more exhausting that it should have to be, and it may overstay its welcome. That's why it fell short of the chart - also I think I liked 2007's Mourner better. But hey, it's black metal meets post rock, how can it not be awesome??
  1. Manuscript found in unmarked grave, 1919
  2. Ten went up river
  3. Willows and whippoorwills
  4. Tobacco beetle
  5. Larval door
  6. ...and ivy wound round him
  7. Them golds and brass
  8. Petals and bloodbowls
  9. Temporary antennae
  10. None shall die
Load it down (91.70 MB)

March 5, 2009

Draugnim - Northwind's Ire

Band/artist - Draugnim
Genre(s) - Pagan metal
Origin - Finland
Album - Northwind's Ire
Year of release - 2008

According to their page, the aim of Draugnim is "to bring light to the stories of old pagan past with strong melodies and raw expression, emphasizing on mood rather than technical boasting." I think we should congratulate them, because this is exactly what they do. Northwind's Ire is a tour de force of epic, folk-influenced guitar riffs that have been vainly structured into tracks - it flows together like one long ever-changing song. Slow, majestic keyboards function as a backdrop and never take the center stage. There's a constant and infectuous sense of warriors' pride and nostalgia present in the music's atmosphere, which is organic and warm enough to really dream away to. Vocals (harsh only) and drums don't really stand out but they do their job just fine. One of the band's best decisions is to keep to a midtempo pace. This, with the great flow of the melodies, gives a very oceanic feeling to the music. You really feel like you're sailing your drakkar on the wild and open sea, with the Northwind in your sails, waves pounding the hull and spray in your face. It didn't make it into my top-20 of 2008, but only just.
  1. Moonpath
  2. Craionhorn
  3. Fear of the fallen
  4. Towards the dusk
  5. Will dawn rise again
  6. Sworn to waves
  7. Archein
Load it down (72.96 MB)