Shortcuts #4

ghold

Ghold – Pyr
Ritual Productions, RITE043CD
CD/LP 2016

This British power trio has a pretty noisy attitude, oriented on sludge and doom metal sounds, and fuzzy riffs played on deeply detuned guitars. Ghold takes all the time necessary to build a specific ambience or to repeat a theme over and over again until it induces a state of dumb trance on the listener. The average length of the tracks is high, but this doesn’t at all mean that they’re boring. On the other hand Ghold deploys an impressive range of tempo and time signature changes that brings their playing style closer to math and prog-rock, resulting in some spectacular riffs. Another notable thing is that while the heavier parts have a trademark sound that is reiterated all through the album, there are many atmospheric sections where their will for experimentation appears clearly. The 21-minute long “Despert Thrang” is a good example of that, beginning with some old-school noise generators and evolving into a solemn cadenza and later into an evocative monk choir. After an extenuating, heavy mid-section the song even moves into ritualistic/dark ambient territory with creepy effected vocals and long sustained sounds. [Damiano Lanzi]

christ_tower

Christ – Tower
BLWBCK, BLWBCK062
MC 2015

Surely not one of the easiest band names to find on Google, Christ is anyway a pleasant discovery. They’re from Montreal and their music proceeds on the path traced by compatriots Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Thee Silver Mt. Zion (the album has been recorded by Thierry Amar, bass player on both formations). “Tower” consists of four long instrumental compositions (except for some vocals with psychedelic effects towards the end of “Planar”, a lullaby reminiscent of Pink Floyd’s “Astronomy Domine”), centered on highly refined guitar sounds. The tracks are often built upon a low growl of detuned guitars, but there is never a sense of heaviness: even when the suite reaches its peaks, the mood remains suspended, glacial. They stay aside from the linear evolution of the song common to many post-rock acts (that has now become a cliché), in favour of a more static atmosphere that stands out anyway for its originality of sound. Probably the credit for that also belongs to the excellent mixing, but Christ is anyway one of the most elegant bands I’ve ever heard in the field of post-rock. [Damiano Lanzi]



leopard

Leopard Flowers – Isa
Kristallwald Tonträger, KRISTALL002
7′ Vinyl/CD 2015

Perhaps you remember “Autumn Glades Of Everlasting Peace”, the Leopard Flowers debut which I reviewed some time ago on Santa Sangre, as well as the fact that I wasn’t particularly impressed by that one. “Isa” is not a regular follow-up to that self-released debut, more like a teaser of such. Since it’s just less than seven minutes, the review won’t be very long either.

First of all, I have to say a bunch of warm words about how it looks – it’s a 7″ gatefold sleeve with both vinyl (white) and a CD. As you can see above, it has quite a nice cover picture and it also contains three postcards with other paintings by the same artist (Paulina). So for neofolk collectors it might be a little diamond that some of them would want to have on their shelf.
To be honest, it’s quite difficult for me to say if there’s any progress in Holger’s work. Both tracks are a bit more than three minutes long and they maintain the same style as the debut, which means simple acoustic melodies and synth backgrounds, heathen spirit and placing the emphasis on emotions rather that technical fireworks. And I have to admit that these short pieces of music pass very quickly and rather pleasantly; there’s not enough time to get bored. The songs are similar, one is like a reflection of the other. Personally I prefer the second one, “Valkyrja” where I somehow feel a Yule atmosphere, like in this lovely Of The Wand And The Moon song. Not in terms of composition, but rather its spirit.

This is winter music and I feel a bit strange listening to it while it’s so hot outside. It’s something that would fit in a little cottage in the Alps: a rocking chair, a cup of grog in your hands and long stories about German mythology heroes and fairies. Well, not that long, unless you play it on repeat. I think some of you might like it, as it’s a very unpretentious little piece of instrumental neofolk. [stark]

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