Monday, September 6, 2010

And Now For Something Completely Different – Featuring Megaphone ou la mort, The :Egocentrics, Noetics, and Silian Rail

Megaphone ou la Mort – Camarade Coma

Hailing from the world (Spain, Argentina, France) and recording in both English and French, Megaphone ou la Mort bring a vibrant brilliance to the often tepid world of modern rock.  While the influences are numerous, as if often the case with most things that emanate from France, these influences are mingled; cross-cultural tidbits are swirled into the mix, styles and genres blend and meld seamlessly to create an album unlike just about any other out there.

“La Poesie Du Travail,” showcases right off the bat that Megaphone ou la Mort got a style all their own and a secret weapon to make the whole thing combustible.   Beginning with a jazzy then funky drum and bass intro, John Martinez lays a French spoken intro on top.  Sorry, there’s nothing like a French spoken intro to set the mood and tone.  Exotic, romantic, stirring.  Then, as the guitar adds in, gently at first, Martinez brings his voice into full prominence.  By the time the guitars are charging full-speed, Martinez’s amazingly emotive vocal chords are soaring from his lower register spoken voice to the upper echelons of his range.  And what a voice it is.  Kinda reminds me of a mix of Bono and Robert Smith in terms of emotive delivery and tone.  While the musicians hammer away, taking the song on a charging path, Martinez’s voice is that secret weapon, utterly captivating.

Don’t let the French language aspect put you off this releases.  You don’t need to know what the words are to feel the emotion, the energy, to get caught up in the sweeping flow.  Besides, there’s something about Martinez’s voice when he’s wailing in French that is even more dynamic than the songs sung in English.

But those songs rock also. “Cherie,” the second English track on the album rides a brilliant post-punk bass to it’s sparkling, effect-laden guitar.  Martinez here channels his inner Bono perfectly, while the band pumps out a hand-clapping, crowd-dancing ditty of pop perfection. “Sunday Kid,” also in English reminds me of long-Ripple favorites War Stories for its emotional resonance and Martinez’s vocal gymnastics.  Whether in French or English, the band always manages to find the core of the song, the heart that resonates long after the song has finished.  “Pina Pellicer,” is a punchy little number that just cruises along non-stop.

Still, I prefer the French songs, if nothing else but for the difference of them all.  “Lutter,” with its punctuated walls of crashing guitars reminds me (for no good reason) of another famous French export, Trust.  Throughout, the band brings some soul, some post-punk, some hints of jazz and flamenco into the fray, with some tender guitar work and a hardworking rhythm section.

If you’re looking for something familiar, yet different at the same time, recognizable but exotic, give this one a shot.


The :Egocentrics – Love Fear Choices and Astronauts

I went way outta my way to sing the praises, high and low, of a nifty little demo CD that dropped into the Ripple office way back in Nov 2008.  The :Egocentrics Mystic Invitation was just the perfect blend of psychedelic, trippy guitars, some serious heaviness, and floods of effect-laden soundscapes.  It didn’t take me long to fall in love with these Romanian trippers.

Imagine my delight then, when a small package appeared at our door with another typically charming handwritten :Egocentrics note.  “Hope our album is better than you’d expected!”  That’s all.  No re-introduction.  Just an unspoken solidarity between me and my Romanian brothers that what I was about to pop into my player would rattle my world.

And it did.

Everything that made Mystic Invitation so appealing was still there, all the spaced-out trippiness, all the long-extended, mind-warping jams.  Even the unexpected build-up to moments of massive heaviness.  But there was something else as well.  Over the ensuing months, The :Egocentrics have refined their craft.  Sure the songs still wander off in any direction the cosmic winds blow, but beneath it all there’s a definite sense of purpose.  These are cosmic landscapes that tell a story, a collage of images, a world’s worth of rising and falls tides, mountainous eruptions, and deadly calm seas. 

Brenn’s guitar playing has also matured in ways that are just too hard to explain.  Here, he’s completely mastered his tones, his effects, the strength of his attack against his strings.  Pulling back when necessary, searing forward with vengeance when appropriate.  And through it all, Jess on bass and Hera on drums follow him effortlessly, creating the space platform he needs to explore his stratospheric travels.

The album consists of 4 separate 1-12 minute songs.  Excursions really into the upheaving world of psychedelic space jams and stoner rock heaviness.  And while that may sound like a mind-full of numbing tedium, never once does Brenn fail to captivate, leading me along willing to which ever world he’s choosing to explore.  I’m there with him.

Yes, the album is better than I expected.

Noetics – Delayed Back

We’ve reviewed plenty of downbeat electronic before here on the Ripple, but what makes Noetics so different is that we’re not listening to a producer/mixer driven studio creation.  Noetics are a live band mixing the energy of electronic beats and the intensity of live performance into a totally listenable instrumental, chill, dance orgy.

Beats merge, rise and fall, beneath the overhanging canopy of jazz, rock, dub, and psychedelia.  Songs like “Peninsolar,” sound totally fresh and spontaneous in their planned chill-trance.  “Vibrant Hydrant,” reminds me of some of the best of Kruder and Dorfmeister, but again this is live music, not studio overdubs.  And that’s pretty damn cool if  you think about it.

Throughout, bass and beats set the tone for whatever voyage each individual song wishes to explore.  Perfect music for your late night chill, your after-party party, your Sunday morning coffee, or just your moments when death metal sounds just a bit too much.

Silian Rail - Parhelion

If I was strapped down to a polygraph, my children held for ransom, my life on the line, and forced to answer a question truthfully, I'd probably say that I don't like instrumental rock music.  I'm good with jazz, fine with African, but instrumental rock music always seems to be lacking that one thing.  Oh yeah, vocals.  And if the band does manage to mutate and twist their sound around enough to keep my from falling asleep, the songs usually suffer from having their own head way too far up their own ass.

Silian Rail is different.

A two-piece on our friendly Parks and Records label, Silian Rail use guitar and drums, an occasional foot synth and the ever-desirable glockenspiel, to create wild, erratic, sweeping soundscapes.  Sure the guitar has a pleasant, warm tone, but it's the tension between the guitar and drum that drive these songs.  Somehow, Robin Landy and Eric Kuhn manage to flesh out the spaces with only these two instruments, without things ever sounding flat or empty.

And while my ear is instantly drawn to the wild, free-form meanderings of Robin's guitar, in truth, it's probably Eric's drums that drive this baby the most.  Time changes?  What time changes?  We're talking different time zones here.  Eric seems to be able to drop beats in at a dime, following the guitar, countering the guitar, sailing off on his own.  Heck, I don't really know what he's doing at all, but it's a clinic in drumming, I'll tell you. Pretty remarkable.

None of that is to diminish Robin's guitar work, which is tangentially riveting.  I never know where the guitar is going to take the composition, which path it's going to lead us down.  Sometimes dissonant, sometimes angular, always fascinating.

9 songs here of remarkable musical vision.  Instrumental music that's always interesting without being forced or pretentious.  Songs that aren't lost up their own ass.

Hmmm, I may need to change my answer.


Megaphone ou la Mort

The :Egocentrics


1 comment:

belman said...

Robin from Silian Rail is a woman.

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