This is the lead single "Bless Your Heart" from In Light Of. The two member project lives in different cities without any mutual connections. They met when Sandy responded to a job posting and quickly bonded over a shared appetite for the kind of boundless sonic exploration found in post-rock (and the like). It's been a long-distance relationship ever since. They 're truly the perfect pairing and have a song writing formula that works perfectly. Light Of have never written a song together. That is together in the same room, or even the same city. Yet, all five songs on this debut EP, Little Treasures, were pieced together from ideas shared from one device to another, many kilometers away. And now for the first time, through the magic of technological advancement, it's in your hands to listen and consume.
« All Right Yellow Bird », is the new EP of the Astray project. In between electronica, ambient and experimental music, the 4 tracks of the new opus are built on aerial synthetic textures, heavy beats, and melancholic piano themes, punctuated of vocal samples, to offer an instrumental and contemplative sound.
In this review, I’ll be exploring ‘MAW,’ a rather compelling collection of experimental tracks by Givan Lötz that was released this last Friday, October 28. The elegantly presented record is actually available on vinyl, a rarity in the independent music scene. Clocking in with ten tracks, eleven if you count a secretive bonus one, ‘MAW’ is an endeavor unlike anything else. Is it good, though? Let’s dig into it and find out.
Lötz’s press-speak is most certainly fascinating. It details how Lötz utilizes the ‘potencies of space’ to craft sonic intricacies that ‘swell and distort’ and ‘shed waning light onto and into this post-scientific realm where meaning is unhinged.’ Ambiguity is Lötz’s game, which works both in his favor and to his detriment. ‘MAW’ is an experimental effort through and through in this regard, and it’ll likely only resonate with a very niche audience.
‘The Drowned’ introduces Lötz’s new sonic portrait as a heavily atmospheric escapade through unintelligible vocal croons and compositional meandering. It’s actually quite beautiful, though, and to be fair, that’s how one might describe Radiohead as well. ‘The Drowned’ offers a glimpse into a melancholy, mysterious landscape that Lötz occupies in a very Thom Yorke-esque fashion, melding traditional and electronic stylings into experimental aural themes.
In contrast, ‘Speak’ is a surprisingly intense journey. Lötz’s vocals are still entirely vague, but the composition is sharper than its predecessor. Walls of distorted fuzz rise up and down around a spine-tingling melody. Despite being a single performer, Lötz has the presence of an orchestra. The final moments of ‘Speak’ are sure to have listeners on the edge of their seat in bizarre anticipation for each elongated note.
‘The Last One’ is slightly more easier to understand, at least, vocally, and Lötz seems to toy with vocal distortion and key manipulation with increasingly regularity throughout the album. At times, Lötz’s vocals are reminiscent of Laurie Anderson’s dark, deep-throated manipulations on the iconic ‘Home of the Brave’ film and album. Around three minutes in, ‘The Last One’ reaches its stride with a waltz of sorts.
Something very important to note about ‘MAW’ is that it’s an album that seems to be designed to perfectly accentuate the backdrop of your life. It doesn’t command your attention in the way a gripping lyricist attempts to do so. It’s a sublime, even surreal experience that invites the listener to ponder their most introspective thoughts as it washes over them. Tracks like ‘Shame’ and ‘The Grandfather,’ for example, are very much like this. They’re droning in nature and very calming to listen to.
‘Tender’ is probably one of the more ambitious creations on ‘MAW.’ While atmospheric, the track moves along in a much snappier fashion as Lötz offers an intense vocal performance backed by bouncing electric guitars and some of the album’s more noticeable percussion. ‘The Wind’ then follows, a very short, but absolutely lovely acoustic track that highlights Lötz’s sound at its finest.
If one were to listen to The Velvet Underground’s ‘Ocean’ and then follow up that experience with Lötz’s ‘Sea,’ the parallel would likely be very noticeable. Even the percussion is similar, though ‘Sea’ is very much soaked in Lötz’s unique vocal presentation. It’s at this point in the record, though, that I came to the realization that a huge part of the experience is missing: written liner notes. ‘MAW’ needs liner notes that have the lyrics. Lötz is just too difficult to understand without them.
I’d also argue that one could fully experience ‘MAW’ without knowing the lyrics, though, because Lötz’s voice often acts as an instrument within the broad scope of the composition’s landscape. ‘The Ship’ for example, is a track where his actual lyrics are somewhat irrelevant in the scheme of the aural portrait he’s painting. Nevertheless, I’d love to know what he’s saying if I were to spend time with the album on a more regular basis, like many fans may.
‘Watchtower’ closes out the album with another minor key, experimental jaunt through Lötz murmuring with a very hefty vocal filter. To be blunt, though, I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Anyone who listens as far as ‘Watchtower’ clearly enjoys the atmosphere Lötz crafts with this style, and in that regard, it’s the perfect finale. The bonus track, ‘Return,’ is actually one of the easiest tracks to understand Lötz on, too. It would have made for a nice inclusion in the full cut.
‘MAW’ is truly a beautiful record. This is an album you could put the turntable each evening and listen to while drinking a glass of red wine and reading a classic novel. It’s non-intrusive, but compelling to listen to. Again, I’d love liner notes that give us Lötz’s lyrics, but I understand the argument for their irrelevance, too. Lötz feels like a full-bodied instrument on ‘MAW’ - he is the sound. It’s as organic and surreal as you get. It won’t be for everyone, but it’s a piece of music very much worth checking out.
Musings on childhood memories, human connection, anxiety, the joys and perils of solitude, death - what it means to be in the world. The songs were written over a span of ten years. There is a song Anna Atkinson wrote for her father seven years after he died. There is a song she wrote for her mother three years before she died. Anna Atkinson is fascinated by endeavours that take a long time. Slow moving, sometimes imperceptibly slow. Like quilting, writing a novel, making an album. Things for which there is no virtue in hurrying. Baking bread, snowshoeing up a mountain, knitting, gardening, growing up. In fact, they are processes we cannot hurry, try as we might. The album was recorded over a period of five months at CBC Studio 211 in Toronto, and features the playing of co-producer and guitarist David Occhipinti.
Snowshoe - 04:03 Water - 02:59 Lovers - 04:23 When We Were Young - 03:25 Nobody Knows You - 02:13 Silver - 03:59 I'll Buy You Lunch - 02:33 When The Night Has Passed - 02:09 In December - 03:25 Winter Wind - 04:12
Orellana is a neo-classical/post-rock collective hailing from Bristol, UK. Their new album “52”, released in late December, brought in the new year with it’s explosive and intricate sound. The project’s music transcends genre definitions in order to focus on a broad, diverse concept that is more emotional than tangible. This particular release is full of rich and diverse arrangements, but it is also a powerful exercise in minimalism, one that showcases the strength of very few notes placed in the right spots. The simplicity of the arrangement is actually one of the strongest aspects of this entire release: there’s a palpable stillness created by the long, drone notes in the background, which almost makes you feel like the world is happening in slow motion. When the chords and notes change, it feels quite monumental due to the beautiful contrast between the stillness of the background textures and the expressive sound of the guitar-based melodies.
Ali Murray is an ethereal folk songwriter/musician from the cold isle of Lewis in the north of Scotland. He writes dark atmospheric folk music with lush sweeping dreamy soundscapes and Celtic-twinged instrumentation. His new album LAND OF EVERGONE strikes a balance that is intimate and soaring, peaceful and haunting, sad and quietly joyful, delicately reverberating with Murray's dreamy voice and guitar playing.