Northwest is one of the most promising musical projects in the independent scene. They gained media attention because of their ethereal and cinematic sound, their nostalgic and mysterious image and their diverse blend of influences (from bands like Radiohead and Portishead to composers such as Debussy and Robert Wyatt).
Northwest was formed in 2015 in the UK by multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer Ignacio Simón and visual artist, composer and singer Mariuca García-Lomas They gained attention with three home recorded singles (Reflection, Wind and Look At Me) which were released independently and with very little promotion, accompanied by three artistic videos directed by Mariuca García-Lomas herself.
The duo Northwest moved from Spain to the UK and spent half of the year traveling around England and Scotland. Inspired by these trips, they started writing their debut album in 2016. This album has been almost entirely writen and recorded in less than a year while the artistic couple locked themselves in a country house outside of London.
Northwest has managed to create an original and otherwordly atmosphere thanks to their unique blend of experimental jazz rhythms, ethereal and enigmatic layered vocals, classical orchestration, delicate production and nostalgic lyrics. Their upcoming debut album is one of the most awaited and promising projects of the independent music scene.
NAAL is the surrealist, drone/rock project of Chicago native Dave Mantel. Characterized by a sonic journey taken between more traditional instrumental post-rock, and the fringe elements of ambient, noise, drone, and field recordings, NAAL is a project that wanders freely between elements of all of those genres, while juxtaposing their individual elements to create a unique sonic palate.
Formed in 2013 with the release of the debut project titled Wilderlands, NAAL has released 4 EP's, with a debut full-length announced for a 2017 release. Each of the past three releases, 2014’s “Compass” and “Chaos Monsters,” and 2015’s “TIME” EP, charted as best-sellers on Bandcamp. Beyond his recordings, NAAL has begun to bring a live show audio/visual experience that focuses on the mellower side of the project. Long, texturally complex soundscapes are complimented by an ambient visual experience aimed at exploring dark, metaphysical and surrealist themes.
A703 is a slow, intricate walk through several years worth of dark, complicated emotional landscapes, compiled together to create a listening experience that will both relax and challenge the listener. The slow drones and complex textures give voice to both a deep sadness, and a deep hope. Of the new album, Mantel says, “There's an idea in Japanese that has captured me- 'mono no aware'- which is an awareness of the impermanence of everything. But, at the same time, not letting that overwhelm or immobilize you. It's a gentle sadness of things. But that idea of simple awareness is not where I want this story to end... That is the concept for the album.”
The first full length album from NAAL, A703’s soundscapes are charged with the weight of their author's own emotional darkness. This album is unlike NAAL's past releases in both the volume of work, and the compositional and instrumental restraint involved in the process. Leaving behind the more traditional post-rock vibe of the project's previous releases, A703 fully embraces the “drone” side of the so called “drone/rock” genre Mantel has coined.
The slow moving chord structures made up of layers of guitar and synthesizer textures, combined with bits of field recordings taken over the course of some of these aforementioned defining emotional moments, create ambient and droning atmospheres that are at once intricately complex and utterly benign. Although these 7 tracks are, for their author, ultimately about mortality and the fleetingness of the temporal, in the depth of the music, there seems to be a glimmer of light. In the end, Mantel says, the interpretation remains up to the listener, “That's the beautiful thing about making the kind of music I make. I can write something out of the deepest feelings of sadness and pain, and someone can listen to those same lines and feel hope in the middle of that. That's really all I want from this project. Yes, there is sadness, there is death. But I have to believe that there is also life.” A703 releases on June 30th, digitally everywhere and physically at NaalMusic.com
Mixtaped Monk is a DIY music project by a journalist and music producer (Arka Sengupta) who believes in making music that soothes the mind. This project was started as an outlet for his creative expressions. Under the moniker of Mixtaped Monk, he not only expresses himself as a music producer but also as a writer and a visual artist.
Being socially awkward since childhood, he always loved solitude. And, in his solitude, the thing which he liked to do the most is discovering music. Be it the cassette of Pink Floyd's “Dark Side of The Moon,” which he discovered, in his uncle's old room, during his early teenage, or the first mixtape that he made for a girl when he was a little bit older, music has always been his sole companion. Gradually, he picked up playing the keyboard and the guitar, started experimenting with music and realized that there is a whole world of possibilities for him to explore. That is how the idea of Mixtaped Monk started.
Mixtaped Monk's debut album, "Urban Lonesome," is a very personal and emotional album to Arka. Through sounds, it talks about the different experiences a person has and what he feels when he finally comes back home after spending 5 years in various cities following his passion. The album tries to convey how the person feels when he finds out that the city, and the whole atmosphere around it has changed drastically. He feels like he is stranded in a deserted island; friendless, lonely and anxious.
The album is inspired by Arka's own experiences after he shifted to his hometown recently. Sonically, it borders around Atmospheric, Ambient, Post-Rock and Experimental music.
The Cruelest Animal has been a work in progress for Drummer / Guitarist / Producer Alex Crane since 2009. The band started as a recording project featuring guest performances by members of Intronaut, National Sunday Law, and The Great Wall. The music is inspired by a wide variety of styles including classic prog rock groups like King Crimson and Pink Floyd, as well as Trip Hop acts like Massive Attack, Dj Shadow, and Radiohead. Aspects of technical and spacey influences are blended into a sound rooted in early 90s metal.
The album Soothing Rays of Eternity represents a leap forward creatively. With the addition of Matt Boylan on bass (former Bear Baiting and Cuneiform), and use of Ableton Live looping software, what was once a recording project has developed into a live two-piece band.
The album is structured abnormal rhythmic cycles and features drums and bass as primary elements. The rhythm section is accentuated by heavy, yet spacey guitars, keyboards, and vocals. The song Unleash the Swine features David Timnick of Intronaut on Tablas, and Derek Donley of Bereft and National Sunday Law on Vocals.
Soothing Rays of Eternity was self recorded and mixed in our rehearsal space in 2016 and was released via Bandcamp on April 21, 2017.
Alex Crane: Drums, Guitar, Vocals, MIDI programming, Recording, and Mixing
Matt Boylan: Bass and Vocals
Grant Lewis: Keyboards
Derek Donley: Vocals on tracks 2 and 4
David Timnick: Tablas on track 4
William Paton: Vocals on tracks 5, 6, and 7 (We'll miss you, buddy)
French group BLVL’s new track “Internal Heights” expertly transitions between lush moments of patient pysch-pop and effervescent bursts of rock-led spaciousness, particularly at the 02:26 transition
The collective defines their music as "dark and atmospheric indie-rock". Their first video, "Internal Heights", was directed by KENDY TY.
Born in 2014 in the depths of Paris, BLVL generates a dense and atmospheric rock, with urban and contemplative influence tinted with electronic atmospherics. Strongly anchored in the ground, the quartet nevertheless keeps the ears in the stratosphere, oxygenating its ethereal melodies with a pure and euphoric air.
After playing some of the highlight venues and events in Paris underground rock (Divan du Monde, Flèche d’Or, Bus Palladium, International...), BLVL released their first EP, 'Empire Of Nights', in early 2017. "Internal Heights" is a cut from that EP.
Crafting a concept album is an incredibly difficult task. Tying together a cohesive narrative across a record’s worth of songs isn’t just daunting, it’s an endeavour that even some of the industry’s finest have failed to do memorably. This task, however, becomes notably more difficult when you’re dealing in the abstract via instrumental soundscapes. That is what Chronotope Project, the moniker of composer Jeffrey Ericson Allen, attempts to do with his latest project, ‘Ovum.’
NAAL is an eclectic music project led by Chicago composer Dave Mantel. This talented musician has a true passion for great melodies and haunting musical textures. His blend of ambient, shoegaze and experimental drone music feels personal and unique, echoing the work of artists such as Slowdive, Boards of Canada or Sigur Ros, just to mention a few.