Katana Splatter Combo – Risky Island – EP Review

Katana Splatter Combo is a solo project of Nikos Tsamasiros who hails from Athens, Greece. This is a look at his newly-released debut EP titled Risky Island, which is a visceral combination of math-tinged experimental rock and instrumental hardcore, composed entirely in MIDI sounds.

As you can tell by the considered approach – thank you once again Robbie for taking the time. If you have a band you just want to review, please feel free to drop me a note to tim @ emergingindiebands.com

Katana Splatter Combo

Katana Splatter Combo

With those varied elements it would be easy to make the mistake of overcomplicating things and producing a frantic mess. Thankfully, this is not a trap the artist falls into, as each composition contains a nice balance of energies which means no one track outstays its welcome.  From the beginning Risky Island proudly bears its homage to video games, with a 24-second “theme” designed to loop on the title screen of the best retro game that was never made. The first “proper” track, Stage 1 – Forest showcases the razor-sharp bite of the heavier influences, with angular and distraught riffs flying thick and fast. I found this track the catchiest off the album, love the way the song begins quietly before launching into the heavy MIDI guitars.

The album continues with Stage 2 – Underwater, which continues the frenetic proceedings with breakneck riffs before calming into a (relatively) relaxed groove, perfect music for the submerged shenanigans of an 8-bit hero.

At this point it would be good to reiterate out how catchy these songs are – these tracks get stuck in my head so easily! The next track is Stage 3 – Sky, a rapid succession of phrases compounded by percussion which would make Zach Hill sweat. In my mind’s eye I can see a level from a Mega Drive game playing out to this song, on some secret base set in the clouds.

Stage 4 – Beach is one song I can’t particularly imagine going well with the typical sun-and-sand coastline imagery, as it’s extremely dark and dissonant. It is however a compelling track which grows into a monster by the end.

Lastly we have Stage 5 – Volcano and Final Boss, the cacophonous finale to this hectic ride. Sustained bass notes play under a series of bouncy lead guitar to lend Risky Island a triumphant conclusion.


I really enjoyed this album, both for the music and the concept. After speaking to the artist his appreciation of bands such as Tera Melos, The Mars Volta and Hella began to show through in the music, though there is plenty of individuality in these compositions. Somehow, the lack of human performativity works well with the frantic musings of its math-rock inspirations, as this kind of music definitely has something robotic about it.

Turning the album into a videogame soundtrack completes this concept, and making it readily available on the internet will broaden its accessibility. Thank you Nikos Tsamasiros for bringing us Katana Splatter Combo and the chaotic statement that is Risky Island, I look forward to future releases from you.

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Samuel Organ – Y – EP review

Thanks to Robbie for yet another review.

This is a look at Y, the latest solo release from multi-instrumentalist Samuel Organ, best known for his work with the genre-defying Brighton (England)  group The Physics House Band. Unlike the largely chaotic output of the latter, this EP is a collection of laid-back electronic tracks all with unique personalities.

Samuel Organ

Samuel Organ

Y begins with Drench, which is for me the stand out track of the collection. The lazy, hip-hop groove and angelic synth pads make the song reminiscent of classic trance music, like the sonic embodiment of that post-euphoric rush after an eventful night out.


Next up is Slowww, which uses a series of sampled noises to create a dirty, industrial rhythm while various synths provide a really pretty melody throughout its short time span.

Finally there’s E/\/\ER/\LD, the (somewhat) hipster title for another slice of scuzzy electronica, at once clean and bright yet pleasingly jumbled and dirty.

Y weighs in at around the ten minute mark which left me wanting more, though there are two more Samuel Organ EPs to dig your teeth into. According to the artist there is an album in the works, in the meantime check out more of his work and everything by The Physics House Band as there’s a lot to explore and appreciate.

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Neonfaith – Eponymous – EP review

Neonfaith from New York in the USA have a new six track EP set for release on the 1st October.

Neonfaith

Neonfaith

Running at just under 25 minutes Neonfaith continue with their exploration of the luxuriant in this release.


Opening with Escape, a beautifully textured track that rings of the imagery that flows through the music put out by the trio (don’t be confused by the four heads in the artwork). The opener harks of ’70s funfair sounds which have been muted as though through the lens of time.

Next is Lowlands has reversed scratch reflecting in the pools of ebbing water as the band digs ever deeper into the sub-woofer stretching territory. A delightful four and a half minutes of dream electronica.

Tied Together is more percussion led which gives it a more stark and earthy feel and although it only runs for just under three minutes is my pick of the release as it demonstrates the ability Neonfaith to wrest the most out of the least.

Darkest Light heads back towards the opener and is a far lighter texture as the notes are dampened almost as-though recorded through a microphone in a soundproofed room. Superb.

Fifty Three 51 in contrast brings out big echoes and fuzzing to deliver a aurally intoxicating piece of music.

The concluding track Mercury was my introduction of the band almost a year ago and a pleasure to hear again on the EP.

Neonfaith are masters at creating evocative tracks that draw in the listener to settling back and dimming the lights to allow the ambient flickers to gently float around the brain.

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Golden Blonde – Gwen – LP review

Golden Blonde is a collaboration between Sydney (Australia) born musicians Adam Guzowski (vocals/guitar/clarinet/tenor recorder), Austin Buckett (Rhodes/Hammond/B-3, synths, Fujitone/percussion), Hugh Deacon (drums/percussion) and Joshua Becker (bass guitar), with vocal contributions from Amy Wilson on certain tracks. This is a review of their eleven track debut release, Gwen, which came out on the 2nd September 2013.

Golden Blonde - Gwen - LP review

Golden Blonde

The album begins with Lint, a track which juxtaposes thumping percussion and tormented vocals with a hint of OK Computer-era Radiohead about it. From here on this release takes a slightly more conventional approach, but is no less noteworthy for it. Guitar melodies overtake the digital in terms of presence but both exist comfortably within the mix.

Birch Bark is full of unsettling vocal harmonies and melodic passages and evolves nicely throughout its five minute timespan, leaving the listener wanting more.

You Lead Me is a particularly satisfying track, featuring raw rat-a-tat-tat percussion and gloriously hideous electronic samples played along to a smooth vocal drone. In fact, I think this song encapsulates the fabulous attention to detail Golden Blonde has, along with their ability to twist the listener’s emotions.

Relatively sparse and short at just over two minutes, Teeth in Open is an understated track which once again features those marvellous vocals and candid guitar work.

We Begin weighs in at a lengthy six minutes and succeeds largely in the captivating reversed electronic synth and that sweet percussion.

Oak and the first minute of Joan come across as little more than unusual fluff before the latter opens up into something far more than could have been expected. The fluttering piano gives way to eerie electronic sounds before the swaggering intro of Triage. Dual male/female vocals are joined by over-driven guitar chops and somewhat tribal drumming, which merge to form a fascinating track unlike anything I’ve heard this year… In a good way.

Clarinet opens out into a huge slab of sound, with indecipherable lyrics jostling for space amongst the beeps, whooshes and hip-hop percussion. Penultimate track Fuji begins with a polyphonic undertaking of 8-bit proportions accompanied by stripped-down vocals. The square-wave melancholy continues throughout the piece, before album finale Gwen wraps up the proceedings in a somewhat progressive and highly electronic affair which leaves the listener feeling satisfied.


This album was a great listen for me, as it offers experimentation alongside talented craftsmanship and tight instrumentalism. Sometimes bands try too hard to be “different” and end up producing little more than earache or a mixing disaster. Thankfully Golden Blonde have steered this project in the right direction and I look forward to subsequent releases with more than a little excitement.

Thanks again to Robbie for another great review. To find out more about his thoughts on the world in general join him on Twitter.

Golden Blonde website

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Singleton – Uncovered – LP Review

Singleton from Ukraine release their new ten track LP Uncovered on the 21st September 2013. There is an interesting music scene in The Ukraine and Singleton are a band I have followed since February 2012 with their melodic vocal led indie rock.

Singleton - LP cover for Undercover

Singleton – LP cover for Undercover

Breathe In Breathe Out has a video to run with it, which I featured just four days ago and it is fine opener to the release, providing familiarity to ease the listener into Uncovered.

Next is Drown which is a strong piece of work as it builds from a haze laden piece to a more powerful rock derivative with the vocal drowning in the instruments. Appropriately named and a well thought through composition.


Puzzle comes next which again shimmers into the room as cymbals are deployed to reflect the quizzical sentiments of the lyrics and deftly played quivering strings round off the context of a fine track.

Surprises has a more up tempo pace, which registers on the higher notes, providing a different sentiment to Uncovered than the opening three tracks with a more forceful and aggressive sound.

Closing out the first half of the LP is my pick of the release Northern Star which plays with chords and keys, providing Singleton the opportunity to showcase their undoubted abilities as musicians and composers.

Snowstorms and Hurricanes continues with similar creativity as the Singleton gain the confidence to extend the ranges of their sounds and once again the slightly accented voice of Alina Fedorova provides superb context with a softly delivered vocal which blends into the music.

Not Your Part opens with a sound that reminds me of Roxanne by The Police before veering into their own territory once again and building the track in progressive waves of sounds that gain force and direction as the track develops.

I particularly enjoyed This Train for its very jocularity as the audience is taken on a rock ‘n’ roll clippity hop as the quartet bring out the dancing shoes.

The penultimate track All The Words maintains the higher tempo with a more rock focus in which the band is able to deliver a new dimension to the sound of Singleton and a space in which they are able to deliver music of the highest quality as mesmeric guitar and percussion rolls stutter in rapid fire and a fine piece of work. It would be interesting to hear this direction explored further in future releases.

We reach the conclusion of forty minutes of Uncovered with I See The Land and this finds the band in the more familiar territory with the music building texture upon texture as they explore the atmospheric laden sound that is Singleton.

I recommend adding Uncovered to your playlist when it is available, as Singleton offer some very well composed music which is delivered with confidence and in context.

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