Death To Ponies ( 小马之死 ) – Mangez – EP Review

It was back in September I introduced the China based outfit Death To Ponies ( 小马之死 ), they have just released an EP.

Death To Ponies ( 小马之死 ) - Mangez

Death To Ponies ( 小马之死 ) – Mangez

It may seem extravagant to title a one track release as an EP, however the nineteen and a quarter minutes of Mangez justifies the billing.

Originally intended as part of an LP, Death To Ponies elected to release the intended hour and a half double album as three EPs. Mangez being the second of the release series.

The extended psychedelic piece takes the listener on a journey of sound and imagination as the quartet combine electronic instrumentation, drums, vocal and dreamy synthetics. Although a track of three distinct parts, much like a play at the theatre, Mangez is best delivered in one sitting where nothing seems extraneous.

My advice, head over to bandcamp, pay what you like and add this to your playlist for those reflective moments.

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Pretty Solitude – Vanity – LP Review

The Swedish outfit Pretty Solitude have a new LP – Vanity – set for release on the 18th February.

Pretty Solitude - Vanity - artwork

Pretty Solitude – Vanity – artwork

Opening the ten track, forty minute release with Breathe With Me Now the sounds are immediately recognizable as the soft focus of a lens on the introversion that is the signature sound of Pretty Solitude floats gently around the room.

Next is the title track – Vanity – which has a lower register to it giving the band a more oppressive feel. The unmistakeable vocal of Rebecka Heijel adds a stark imploring perspective to the piece.

Scars is of a different refrain with a more nuanced piece as the instrumentation is given centre stage to deliver its bold statements that set the scene for a vocal that has two distinct styles inside the track, enabling the band to explore the central theme in considerable detail. A great composition.

Of a somewhat lighter note is Chance in which the band take a more rock derived song and temper it in their familiar vein.

Lost In Japan is steeped in atmospherics which allows the band to explore themes from a slightly different angle with considered emphasis on the activity off centre stage.

Of a completely different feel is Naked a track of spikey movements, almost robotic. An interesting direction of travel, which allows Pretty Solitude to deliver something which stands at variance to their normal sounds and it works well.

Patient is of more familiar territory, though the second half of Vanity does have a more outward reaching feel to it as the band once again produce a more rock derived piece.

Confirmation is my pick of the release as it is invested with the sounds at the heart and soul of Pretty Solitude, whilst simultaneously capturing the artistry of the musicians in a track that invests a mastery of composition.

The penultimate track, The Others, is acoustic led giving an opportunity for the vocal, which delivers the inflections and atmosphere, to sit in splendid isolation in a delightful soulful piece of writing.

Concluding the LP is Even Tuesdays, which rounds off a well put together album on a particularly strong note.

Pretty Solitude have put together an LP in Vanity which begins with the familiar and as it progresses so the band evolves, with the second half of the release offering a new and intriguing possible avenue for future material.

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The Imaginary Suitcase – Driftwood – LP review

From Belgium –  The Imaginary Suitcase – has a new eleven track LP – Driftwood – scheduled for release on the 10th March 2014.

The Imaginary Suitcase - Driftwood - artwork

The Imaginary Suitcase – Driftwood – artwork

An intense and introspective release offering a reflective on life.

Opening with the title track, Driftwood sets the scene and tone for the LP with sombre haunting summary of life’s experiences.

Bring On The Dancing Horses does lift the darker cloud to reveal a more uplifting chorus, though don’t be fooled into thinking this all smiles.

Next up is Second To None, with flats being used in the chord progressions of the opening guitar to lay down the sense of the song, which recalls the lost joyfulness of youth to be overcome by a life impinged by others in a growing sense of sadness. The Imaginary Suitcase deliver this six minute track as a warning beacon in a style very much of a story handed down through generations.

Half Of Myself changes inference with a fuller band sound to it as bass, percussion and electric guitar join in the storytelling of connectedness, which for the very emphasis of being something of a love-song, exacerbates the loneliness and introspective nature of Driftwood.

Marking the half way point of the LP is Like Rain, which reverts back to acoustics and the sharp contrast between this and the previous song sharpens the focus on the track which reflects on the ‘what ifs’ and ‘maybes’ of being alive.

Opening the second half of the release is Ashes To Ashes.

The seven and a half minute Holy Water brings in new instrumentation to the LP and a vaguely French ballad extraction, making for this and the previous track to stand as sharp contrasts to the earlier pieces and is my pick of the release.

Before I knocked is vocal only and Laurent Leemans is able to inject the emotional context of the piece using only rich voice and echo.

In immediate contrast comes the most up-beat sound on Driftwood, A Plausible Lie which has a rock-a-billy tempo prior to evolving into a theatrical commentary in a song dripping with cynicism. It is worth the price of the LP on it’s own.

The penultimate track Three Sisters brings the LP back to the opening sobriety and sombre nature of the opening parts of the release before mounting into anther prophetic conclusion.

Concluding with Full Moon Lullaby which calmly and appropriately rounds off a fifty minute LP I recommend getting hold of when it becomes available.

Driftwood is available for pre-order on bandcamp.

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Etches – The Charm Offensive – Single review

Etches, from England, haven’t been around for too long and once there is more material to hear I will post a full review of the quintet.

Etches - The Charm Offensive - review

Etches – The Charm Offensive – artwork

A new single The Charm Offensive is being released on the 24th February.

Sliding of the speakers leaving the listener feeling like a herpetologist with a specialism in Serpentes The Charm Offensive slithers across the room filling it with writhing shapes. The track which extends to just under five and a half minutes is an extrusion of continual textures melting one into the other leaving the listener mesmerised by the sheer elegance and delicacy contained within the muscular frame.

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Universal Thee – Aranis Natas – Single review

Universal Thee, from Scotland, have just released their latest single – Aranis Natas.

Universal Thee - Aranis Natas

Universal Thee – Aranis Natas

First reviewed in February of last year, Universal Thee, who also charted at number 17 in the New Year Ninety 2014, have created a song in Aranis Natas which has a darker texture, which gives the band a more alt-rock derived flavour.

A smartly structured bass line opens up the five minute track, setting a mood, with the percussion laying down a pivot point. The guitars are allowed to float in a spectral space, whilst the dual vocals provides further layering to the track.

It will be interesting to see if Aranis Natas marks a transition for Universal Thee towards a darker mood, which is certainly somewhere that they prove to be adept songwriters as testified by this new release.

Aranis Natas – Single – Universal Thee is available on iTunes*.

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