Archive for June, 2016

Hooded Fang

Venus on EdgeHooded Fang CD pic

DAPS Records, 2016

Review by Kent Manthie

Toronto’s Hooded Fang return with a new album. Venus on Edge is its name. I was pleasantly surprised when I listened to the album. Small confession: this is my introduction to Hooded Fang. So, I can’t put this new album in perspective to their previous releases. From what I’ve read elsewhere, gone are the lush instrumentation and the dreamy harmonizing which was a part of what main songwriter, Daniel Lee, was doing at an earlier point in their career.

The songs are great on here. They have a sound which is hard to pin down. I hear many things as the songs go by. The Damned, Gary Numan, The Fall, Suicide, even a little Devo, just to name a few of the most obvious.

There’s 10 songs on Venus on Edge. Each one is a delightful piece of work. From the opening, “Tunnel Vision” through gems like “Dead Battery”, “Impressions” and “Miscast”, to mention some standouts. Song number nine, “Vacant Light” is another bright, shining example of what they’re capable. The last cut, “Venus”, an almost-five-minute long closer, which is like saving the best for last. I was really quite taken with “Venus”. Well, I was “taken” with the whole album. Everything on Venus on Edge is new and shiny as well as loud, edgy – to a point (haha, NPI)- a great reason to give three cheers for indie music; indeed, a great act, no matter into what “box” one may put it.

So why is it that Hooded Fang are not, like, superfamous? Well, you know that old saying about “beware what you wish for!” – I think these guys are terrific and I do hope to get a chance to see them play live, someday soon. It appears that, as of the beginning of June, Hooded Fang completed a number of shows in Canada- home turf- they did one gig in Montréal, after which they went a little bit to the west, over to Ontario, where they did five shows there, including a hometown show in Toronto. Toward the end of next month (July), they’ll be on the East Coast of Canada, doing some shows in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. That’s all I know about their touring schedule, for now.

If I’ve piqued your interest, even a little bit, check out their page on the Daps Records website: https://dapsrecords.bandcamp.com/album/hooded-fang-venus-on-edge-2 – from there, one can also see what else is available and new on the label. -KM.

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Puro Instinct

AutodramaAutodrama CD Puro Instinct CD pic

Mexican Summer Records, 2016

Reviewed by Kent Manthie                                                                     

Puro Instinct is back. Yes, the Kaplan sisters are back. Hollywood-based Skylar and Piper Kaplan; they are the heart and soul of this outfit.

Their new album, Autodrama, is just out now, on Mexican Summer Records. This is their second full-length CD, which is a follow-up to their debut full-length, Headbangers and Ecstasy, from 2011. Their debut was 2009’s Something About the Chaparrals, an EP.

I thought that “avant-pop” was a perfect way to describe Puro Instinct. The music is light, airy; close your eyes long enough and you’ll feel as if you’re floating.

Autodrama is like a rush of energy; full of hooks, catchy vibes, beautiful, hypnotic, even angelic, voices, which, in some parts, might give you a flashback of the Cocteau Twins, with their heavenly melodies and celestial, gorgeous sounds.

When sisters, Piper and Skylar, started out, the younger sister, Skylar, was just a girl. Having caught the attention of someone with Mexican Summer Records, the label signed Puro Instinct. Soon, in 2009, MSR released the duo’s debut EP, Something About the Chaparrals. Shortly thereafter, they found themselves on tour with Ariel Pink; Skylar was just 15 and Piper, 22. Not long after the tour, they released their first full-length CD, Headbangers in Ecstasy.

After some time spent in Europe, with French techno producer, Strip Steve and appearing on a 12” single of his, they bounced around for a while, then ended up down under, in Perth, Australia, where they spent about a month. Their time in Australia was where Autodrama was born. It’s also seen, to the sisters, as a milestone in the evolution of their musical career: they felt that this was a chance for them to rising up from the “flames”…Autodrama is seen as “…about rising from the ashes of that experience, with the lessons intact, and our ‘demons’ working for us, instead of against us.”

With that said, Autodrama is one blissed out love affair. Whatever it was they overcame in order to get to this, I must say, the result is a good one. -KM

Synthetic ID

Impulsessynthetic-230x230

Castle Face Records, 2016

Review by Kent Manthie

This here, is an album that doesn’t come around every day. It’s like one of those really hip, modern art pieces – the kind where someone who doesn’t know what they’re talking about makes a crack about “well, hell, I coulda done that…” – but guess what, guy? You didn’t!! That’s why you’re pretending to be indignant and come across as if you were some sort of “art purist” (whatever the hell that is), when, the truth is, you just don’t understand what those artists, mainly the post-impression period, onwards, meaning, the early 20 years of the 20th Century. Then, in the 50s, you had even more bold, forward thinking art that spanned the gamut from abstract expressionism to pop-art, that is, from artists like Jackson Pollock and Jasper Johns as well as Roy Lichtenstein, to name three, in the 50s, to Andy Warhol, one of the (deservedly or not -that’s always been debatable).

OK, well, moving from painting to music, we have with us today, the new album, about to be released, shortly, by another San Francisco homegrown band. They are Synthetic ID and their album is Impulses, written about here and there, I’ve noticed, as “post-punk”. But, really, before even seeing those blurbs, here and there, as I listened to it, myself, I could feel more of a punk-punk or, at most, a peri-punk, but not a post-punk. Impulses has 13 tracks on it, with an average of 3:00 a song, though, some track are only 2 minutes, while others are three + minutes, and so forth, but when you do average it out, it comes to about a three-minute average.

The coolest description I’ve read of Impulses so far is one I read on the Resident website, http://www.resident-music.com/productdetails&product_id=41525, “…It’s a tight, fuzzy, underground treasure.” That certainly seems to encapsulate, in just a few, concise words, exactly my sentiments about this album.

Some songs worth checking out include: “Ciphers”, “Changing Frequencies” as well as the opening cut, “Blind Spots”, which starts off Impulses quite nicely. It sets the mood, sets up the scene and it’s about this early point in the album, that one can realize that they’ve scored.

The music on Impulses has a raw, punk ethos; a stripped down, no-wave type of sound, as in, James Chance & the Contortionists, but, then again, I would be remiss if I were to leave one with the impression that Synthetic ID sounds like James Chance & the Contortionists; all I meant to convey was that, since the labels “punk” or “post-punk” have been, over the past 30 years somewhat overused, I thought that something different might be appropriate. As I sat and tried to come up with something else to describe Yes, now that I think of it, “no-fi” might fit Synthetic ID better, rather than calling them “punk”, which, I think, gets overused a lot – or, rather, has gotten overused a lot over the past 20-25 years, not just in the past few years. That’s why I would rather use something else with which to label them, if I must; something that truly describes them, then I’d rather use something which would be more fitting.

Not as intense as, say, The Fall, like, in their earlier years,
but without the plastic-and-vinyl-lounge-style of James Chance. I guess, what I’m trying to convey here, is that Synthetic ID have this fast-and-loose style. They combine a number of musical devices that work well, the way they’ve done it. Just give it a listen and then you’ll know what I mean. -KM.

Here is yet another new video wonder from Lee Negin, whose new CD, Entheogenic Dharma Music is reviewed 2 entries back.

I like the music as well as the accompanying video for it.  Both are expressive and showcase a unique, cosmopolitan potpourri; a universal love letter to artistic expression, be it musical, visual, or whatnot.

Anyway, let me now introduce you to “Hungry Ghosts” and say “hope you enjoy it!”.  Let the video, the music within, be your gateway to a (temporary, at least) extra-dimensional space where you can escape all the chaos and mass insanity going around as if it were an epidemic of some contagion spreading fast.  Take this with you and let the audio/visual stimulation of it be your guide to a sort of inner space.  -KM.

Below, please check out two videos of two songs from Lee Negin’s new album, Entheogenic Dharma Music, out now (refer to my review of this album, the newest, most recently posted review, to read more about the album).  Both videos are intense with color and stunning graphic displays.
Anyway, here are two videos for your pleasure:  the 1st one is “Entheogenic Dharma Music (E.D.M.)” and the 2nd one is “Psychonautics 101 (Explore Inner Space)”.  Hope you enjoy them!  –KM.

Future Groove

Posted: June 8, 2016 in New Indie Music
Tags:

Lee Negin

Entheogenic Dharma MusicLee Negin Entheogenic Dharma Music (EDM) cover

Self-Released, 2016

Reviewed by Kent Manthie

The latest album to come out from the cosmopolitan Lee Negin, the enticingly mouthful of a title, Entheogenic Dharma Music, is another in a rich, musical journey; a rich, psychonautical juggernaut, capable of emptying the tables and the bar-stools within a few minutes of its charm, it’s seductive, mesmerizing, and quite gratifying as well, that is, it can be gratifying whether you’re in a trance, chemically or organically induced, or if you’re home, alone (and, let’s say, for the sake of argument, you live in an apartment building, one where excessive noise is frowned upon, you can make good use of headphones -earbuds, IMO, give me the best sound and when you have them pushed into your ear, like that, and you turn on some music, turn it up, nice and loud, you’ll soon have this feeling where it’s as if the music is coming right from your brain, especially if you’re caught up in something with elements of sonic virtuosity; that’s, for me, one of the advantages of tight-fitting ear buds.

Anyway, so, getting back to Lee Negin and his adventurous new work, Entheogenic Dharma Music, it’s another in a line of albums which Lee has released over the past five or six years: entrancing works of art, from the intricate designs on the covers to the complex, layered sounds which converge quite nicely. The beat is steady, though not too “up front”; the rhythm, the percussion, kind of stays…well, out of the foreground, at least. By no means, though, does that diminish that infectious beat, which drives the music.

As far as the title of the album, itself; well, I wanted to get some kind of definition or explanation of what “entheogenic” was and it was from Wikipedia that I found a great working definition of the word:

An entheogen (“generating the divine within”) is a chemical substance used in a religious, shamanic, or spiritual context that often induces psychological or physiological changes.

Entheogens have been used to supplement many diverse practices geared towards achieving transcendence, including meditation, yoga, prayer, psychedelic art, chanting, and multiple forms of music. They have also been historically employed in traditional medicine via psychedelic therapy

That was just the top paragraph of the entry for Entheogenic in Wikipedia. Anyway, I’m glad I checked up on the word itself because it then gave more meaning to Negin’s work.

A few songs worth mentioning here include the opening cut, “Dervish Dharma Dancing”, an 8 ½ minute pleasure trip that then, seamlessly goes right into the next cut, which is one of my faves on here “Psychonautics 101(Explore Inner Space)” which gives off a kind of transient, in a cosmic sense, sentiment. “Yamonote Line” is also a great ride. It’s a 10:37 trip into outer space via inner space. Great ending to it as well!

Also, when we talk about Entheogenic Dharma Music having, in part, a psychedelic tinge, we’re not talking about what many think of when they hear the word “psychedelic”: hippies, long hair, acid, and, by the late 60s, a dumbing down, at least by many, certainly not all, of the whole Timothy Leary/Richard Alpert school of LSD – but, hey, when you compare Leary and co.’s work – serious, academic research – to what the CIA as well as other intel agencies, like Army Intelligence, was doing in the 50s: doing their LSD research on unwitting subjects.

By the time I got to the second half of the album, I noticed that the music started to take on a different shape, so to speak. While still maintaining its neo-psychedelic colors, songs like “In the Lucid Moments” and the first half of “Last Acid Drop (Rev. 2)” had slowed the average tempo down a bit and mellowed out its initial intensity, but by the time you get to the latter part of “Last Acid Drop (Rev. 2)” the beats get more steady and lots of interesting, programmed sounds whistle on through until it has morphed into a dreamy, ethereal specter, which takes you to the edge of the song and then slowly goes out in a glowing halo of light.

That’s still not the end, though. Next there are two tracks left: “Crystal Shards Infuse My Tea” and the title track. The latter of which has this electric ambience to it, shape-shifting its sounds as we go through it. For a good comparison -or at least something not too far out from it, think of “Aumgn” from one of my favorite Can albums, Tago Mago, and you’ll see what I’m talking about. As for the title track, it’s got this swirling sound in the background that is made up of either a guitar or a synth programmed to sound like one. That, plus, some great drumming that also seems to go around in circles. I bet it’d sound really intense on headphones. It’s also the right tune on which to go out. As the title track goes on, it seems to envelop the listener in this, I don’t know, “industrial EDM”-? Or maybe instead of trying to pin a label on it, why not just say what it sounds like and then say that it’s electronic-based, DIY, done by someone who really knows how to put together a good package (of music) and it’s the stuff Lee did. So, let’s just call it future-electro-dance that happens to be quite good and shouldn’t necessarily be stuffed into one box, at the expense of others not getting to hear it because they base their music selections on the “genre” or “subgenre”.

Anyway, give it a try and see how it fits in with other, like-minded projects. If you’d like to see a video from this, check out: https://youtu.be/eJuKWZ51Kco to check out the video for the title track; the graphics are quite trippy! Don’t watch it if you’re likely to get an epileptic seizure, from all the flashing lights, etc.!! Also – if you want to catch another video from the new album, check out the one for “Psychonautics 101 (Explore Inner Space)”: https://youtu.be/2g0HA4lLtsE – that should give you a taste for what else is there. Enjoy! -KM.