As my mother used to sing to me, ‘Que Sera Sera, whatever will be will be, the future’s not ours to see, Que Sera Sera’. Whatever your future brings, may your path always be lit by music and love. I wish you all a very happy Christmas and New Year.
The Red Paintings - You're Not One Of Them
Maudlin lyrical strings, prickled by tickle of picked guitar, weep into this dramatically cinematic, symphonic, folk inspired Indie classic. Evocative, charmingly accented , slightly twisted vocal, teasing tangle of tongues, interweaving melodies, swept up on whirling whoosh of sound, carried away on twisting tornado, transported with sprinkle of tingling xylophone magic dust, to dark fairytale place where classical white witch, lyrical violin, and impassioned vocal, spellbinding wizard, tangle with electric demons, prickling briar of picked guitar, throbbing bass and driving drums, trapped in gloaming of other dimensions, glowering with scudding clouds of electronica, fabric of reality juddering, dissolving, restored by respectful nod and bow to Irish jig. Whimsical whirlwind of Irish folk inflected Indie, twisted with luminous strands of chamber music, in rapturous ride, spiralling through Alice’s Kaleidoscopic Wonderland.
Andrew London - When I Saw Your Ghost
Emotionally charged love’s lament, vehemently ardent vocal riding billowing waves of churning glittering guitar, slipping down slide of sorrow drenched rollercoaster bass, sobbing with its heaving throb, drums flutter of agonised heart, ebb and flow of restless piano, unquiet, unsettled mind, desultory dejection lifted, hope emergent from haze of devout memory, in impassioned chant, soaring to skies on hint of ecstatically reverential, ecclesial organ; “...apparitions fly out of the walls... I can barely breathe... seeing you in front of me...”Anthemically arousing, passionately inflamed, earnest Indie, melodically moving, escaping sentimentality with candidly sincere delivery.In The Valley Below - Stand Up
Glorious indulgence; melodic marshmallow of lush sound and resonant, redolent vocal, unashamedly wallowing in predictable, yet ever arousing, musical and lyrical mixed metaphors, dealing nonsensical runic riddles “...oh mirror, mirror, you are the dealer ...who is it I’m supposed to be.... flesh blood and fire...saints on the wire ...”
Wrapped in shiny wrapper of chiming xylophone, mewling squall of strings, wail of eighties synth, swirled with billowing mists, rhythmically delivered nursery rhyme sayings, exactingly enunciated in earnest lilt, riding well worn, well loved cadences of dramatically melodramatic, dark tinted rock , drowned in glorious miasma of reverberating sound, buffeted by electronic winds, guitar swooping on progressive wings. This could all be too twee, were it not for invigorating musicianship and crunch of underlying grit in guttural growl of chained lion bass, rousing chant inciting rebellion, “...stand up!....” and rumble of vibrantly pert drums. Curious curio; conglomeration of hammer horror gothic nursery tale, eighties and progressive rock; whether this is supposed to be tongue in cheek I do not know, but in the way of ABC, it subverts taste and shoots that poison arrow to my heart; I know I shouldn’t like it but I do.
SCNTST - Self Therapy
Trawled out of the ether by my EP net, in error, this is actually an album but, as its fourteen tracks commutate seamlessly, lured by viper slink and rattlesnake rhythms, through mesmerizingly mutating, throbbing, pulsating, luminous electronic landscape, I am treating it as one very long single of enticing ambient, drum and bass, broken beat, trancey techno. Trembling, quivering, jumping with jittering, rhythmic spikes, hypnotised by metronomic Pied Piper beat, sucked into black hole by gravitational pull of deepest, darkest bass, spat out in scintillating phosphorescence of shattered stars, pummelled by pugilistic punch, cosseted by tender caress, fabric of musical dimensions, magnetised, stretched, pulled hither and thither by schizophrenically shifting moods; vibrantly fizzing with life, entirely enthralling electronica, dancing to new offbeat.
The Belle Game - River
Shivering in eddy of ionic winds, balefully billowing over astral plains, flickering with spirit shadows, muffled emanations from other dimensions, leaking through meniscus of time and space with their ghostly susurrations; electrifying, electronic atmosphere is set by swirling vortex of spectral sound. Expectation heightened to spine tingling anticipation, teased by taunt of tarnished glimmer of guitar, heaving with hot throb of bass and drum, quivering palpitation of percussion and clamouring tangle of oriental bells; still nothing prepares for intensity of siren vocal, mesmerising ebb and flow of liquid, languid chant, lightening rod, conduit for emotion, electricity crackling through ether, magnetised by its needle of piercing sound.
Tremulous yet vehement, vibrant collision of cultures, folk striated with strands of luminously gritty electronica, steeped in Oriental spirituality, illuminated by ancient enlightenment; seductively enthralling.
Atlum Schema - Bottom Line
Hope eviscerated, eradicated, stepping stone for others’ goals, trodden underfoot, sinking deeper into slimy sludge of eternal grind, drowning in mire; drained dry of desire, Atlum Schema’s resignedly etiolated, melancholic vocal blossoms pale fronds of emotion, reaching desperately for light, from gloaming depths of downcast life. “...Please sir, did I meet the bottom line or am I dispensable?... Did I toe your party line or was I reprehensible?...It seems I’m running late... Just leave your brain inside the drawer over by the gate...”
Deep throbbing sob of piano, inner despair, timekeeper drum machine, insidious sneer, vocal emollient sedation of fear, lilting with despondency, weeping, wrung with pain, growl of bass, decency deleted, sweep of synth compunction extinguished by selfish self advancement, xylophone trickling tumble of tears, drenching inner soul of ordinary man, head bowed, shuffling in shadows of “golden towers” Understated, yet emotionally loaded, emotively observant, electronically inspired folk, magical melody, vividly illuminated by luminous instrumentation and effects.
HARTEBEEST - Death
Like dose of psychotropic sedation, ‘Death’ washes over in billowing wafts of ethereal echo, angelic chorus caressing Vaseline smeared vocal, rhythmic, sinister, prickling patter of insane Deity at Elysium’s gates, sharp little teeth shredding lyrics, flashing gleam of pearly smile, needle glint in pulsing shine of eighties synth, bobbing on babbling mirage of burbling brook, floating on haze of reverberant bass, throbbing with good intent. Instrumentation sounding like eighties electronica classic, there is something disturbing about snappy, stilted rattle of vocal delivery, offering comfort with hint of hissing vipers tongue: “... I’ll clutch your hair when feel like death is coming for you ....hold you in my hands when you cross over to the other side...”
This strange juxtaposition of polar opposites, death on hallucinatory high, makes this an enigmatic oddity; I am not sure if that was the intent, but it is entirely enthralling, in a slightly perturbing way.
Jane Badler - Nursery Rhyme
Pure unadulterated pleasure of unashamedly sentimental ballad: lyrical piano and expressively eloquent ‘cello wrapping warm arms round touchingly tender vocal, pouring liquid gold balm over wounds scratched on souls, by thorns and briars of the world, bass trickle of tears sliding from unwary eyes; universal mother, riding white horse to rescue, on borrowed scrap of melodic line from ‘Nights in White Satin’, flowing gossamer slip sown together with silken threads of classical cadences. Dewy eyed melancholia, syrup cut with underlying bitter hint of edgy electronica; nursery rhyme with glimmer of attitude, perfect for Christmas.
Happyness - Happyness
Maybe there’s a clue in spelling gone awry, which lends a clue, but ‘Happyness’ turns out to be antithesis of what might be expected from its name, happiness twisted, torn at the edges, less than shiny; contradiction of conflicting emotions. Making the point most forcefully yet laconically, is second track, ‘Orange Luz’; flirtatious tease of psychedelic sleaze, which hints at Radiohead; wafting in psychotropic mists, wrapped in fragrant haze of dust mote drums; slinking snake of glimmering guitar and vocal, which brought an irrepressible twinkle to my eye with its disingenuous lyrics, lascivious leer playing on smiling lips “...you’re so ugly when you’re smiling... you’re back bone’s behind you...so is everybody else...”; erotically charged, sinuous sneer of an enigmatic track which enthrals.
‘Lascascades’ , which follows, intensifies intrigue with eloquently languid guitar, guiding thread of melody needled by insistent throb of bass and militarily precise off beat drums, interposed, barely interrupted, by merest scrap of interwoven, introverted, emaciated vocal. Topped and tailed by: ‘Happyness It’s On You’; more clamorous, moving at faster pace; churning, growling guitars, driving drums and bass, counterfoil for vaguely vocoded vocal, hint of dusky sun distorted through dirty pane, lemonade laced with bitter hint of arsenic, euphoria rift and ripped by contemptuous Velvet’s attitude. And ‘Montreal Rock Band Somewhere’, rolling out on lush river of melodic melancholia, darkly lustrous:; velvet cuffs bass, glimmering needle guitar, and pat on back drums, padded restraint for sedated, discombobulated, disconcerted vocal, “...what do you do when you hate all your friends?....”
A revelation of a revelatory EP, which radiates Radiohead sensibilities, happiness turned inside out, observant of life’s absurd vanities, traumatised by realisation; told in Happyness’s own unique tongue twisting style.
Eurielle - The Incarnation
‘I’ll Be Waiting’ Fully orchestrated trancey ambient chill, reminiscent of Deepak Chopra and Demi Moore’s ‘Desire’; remixed in the inspirational hands of DJ River, this could be a Buddha Bar classic. Sweeping strings adrift in electronic space, buffeted by scintillating cosmic dust, heaving throb of velvet bass, ravenous for rapture, drums pounding heart of hot ardour; sweet soprano soaring, caressing, doused in echo of its passionately yearning self; lyrics unadulterated sentimental smooch, lessons of love, uninspired but nonetheless emotionally affecting. Though at first this reeks of classical diverted to cheese, inkling of glinting sassy steel kept me listening; could do with good mussing of abandoned electronic eroticism. I am sure there is DJ out there who would willingly reveal the inner good girl turned bad. ‘Waterfalls’ Vocoded high register descant as angel, hovering on fluffy floating clouds of echo, washed by rainbow haze, rocked by meekly melodramatic electronic thunder, heavens bells in artful disarray, droplets cascading from freshly washed hair; again, in isolation, immaculately unsullied, this could make me cringe, but hint of tarnish, crack in clarity, underlying grumble of electronica insinuated into sterility, provides touch of taint, intimates danger, darker recesses where waterfall tumbles, yet to be explored. ‘Gold’ Tentatively takes first steps, nudges towards that deeper place. More cacophonously clamouring, classical purity cut into snippets of stuttering, perforated, rhythmical vocal, overwhelmed by saccharin flow of silken soprano sentiment, “....your lips on my body...losing control...can’t stop myself....” reinforced by rather too obvious video; swirling sheets, silken underwear and well oiled tangled bodies; just about salved by hiss of baser desire, trickling tickle of rising arousal, in tick of torn vocal, in shivering shimmer of electronica, in hot blooded throb of spring creaking, bed bouncing bass.
At face value, lyrical chilled classical crossover, which, in itself might be appealing, in a pretty but limited way; however there is a wicked hint in this lady’s eyes, a mischievous edge which I hope dares to more fully emerge; the beast within beauty; now that would be very interesting.
Manraze - I Surrender
Featuring Phil Collen (Def Leppard), Paul Cook (Sex Pistols) and Simon Laffy (Girl); a band with impeccable credentials, leading expectation to great heights; concupiscently compliant with this conjecture, despite dipping deliciously deliriously into déjà vu, Manraze do not disappoint.
‘I Surrender’ surrenders itself to stalking, breathless bass of The Police, ‘Every Breath You Take’, before being shaken by scruff of neck by garrulous, gorgeously gruff Guns N’ Roses vocal, teasing its throb, in rhythmic cat and mouse counterpoint, with steady hearted drums; enticingly lyrical, slipping and sliding into slinky slush, glittering with glimmeringly effervescent guitar, extricating itself on wings of Pink Floyd soaring guitar, snake of stealthily sultry bass, and wondrously weeping ‘Woman In Chains’ wail; readymade classic. ‘All I Wanna Do’: Tongue tangling, tingling tantalisation of jazzy, crooning blues, oozing charismatic charm; cigar smoked vocal wrapped round wriggle of succulent, soulful seduction, lilting with gently persuasive, lascivious lust “...all I wanna do is get next to you...” heaving with hot breath of dusky bass, temptatious trickle of tantric guitar, tickle of wandering fingers, whooping at wonder of desire, mischievous glint in eyes; impossible not to smile. ‘Connected’ leaps into maelstrom of punky rock and roll, driving, rollicking drums, flashing, gritty guitar and spiky, insistently impassioned vocal in rumbustious raucous revelry; though slightly tethered, restrained, a little too well trained, brought to heel by passage of time, still vibrantly vital, straining at the bit.
Captivating cornucopia of enticingly erudite musicianship, brimming with zest for life; these guys can still seriously shake more than a leg.
The Moth & The Flame - &
‘Sorry’, ‘Winsome’, ‘Silver Tongue’, ‘Monster’, Holy War’ and ‘How We Woke Up’: six haunting, torrid songs drawn dangerously to flame, singed wings flitting mesmerised by flickering light, haunted, taunted inescapably towards self destructive incineration in wisp of acrid smoke. Anguished, gothic Indie, grief in restless woe of churning guitar, desolation in dusty drums, sobbing bass stricken, slinking like wounded snake, tormented, tattered vocal drinking deep of despair, drowning in gloaming sea of afflicted electronica and effects, inhabited by spirit voices; barrage of growling grit, battering sanity, hope torn to shreds.
Shine of life tarnished, made tawdry by reality, swaying between beauty and beast, dramatically disturbing, irresistibly mesmeric mixture of darkest Indie rock and enticingly evocative electronica; sparing yet entirely affecting, without affectation.
Reviews by Chumki Banerjee