Review: Koniec Pola – Cy

KONIEC POLA - CY artwork

Label: Devoted Art Propaganda

Cy isn’t your typical release. The new album from Polish band Koniec Pola opens with the sound of bells, swirling winds, warped percussion, and, after several minutes, a burst of heavily twisted voices. It gets no easier from there. Stradling the lines between post-rock, post-black metal, traditional folk, and all wrapped up in a defiantly avant-garde mindset and psychedelic atmosphere, Cy is the kind of album that you might get if Negura Bunget and Einsturzende Neubauten decided to do a record together. Based around the concept of a place that is simultaneously real and imaginary, and making use of unique instruments crafted by the band themselves in addition to the traditional bass/guitar/drums set-up, Cy is a unique album, full of adventurous, experimental spirit.

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Review: Drowse – Cold Air


Label: The Flenser

The concept of creating music as self-care is hardly a new one, but sometimes, an album can strike you with just how powerful and important a concept that is. Such is the case with Cold Air, the new album from Drowse. Written during a spell of anxiety and depression, Cold Air is an album of interesting contradictions. At times, its hazy shoegaze is filled with warmth, and possesses a real power of emotional healing; and then at others, there is the feeling that something is desperately scratching at the walls, trying to get out with a life-threatening desperation. It makes Cold Air an intense listen, despite its often soothing sounds; and one that is filled with a unique sense of personality and intensity.

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夢遊病者 (Sleepwalker) – 5772


Label: Sentient Ruin ProductionsAnnapurnA Productions

It is a depressing paradox that, for a genre which started off in such incendiary, challenging fashion, black metal is now often one of the most musically conservative of genres, weighed down by insipid songs about Satan full of uninspired tremolo-picking and blasts. It’s this context which makes the emergence of a band like 夢遊病者 (Sleepwalker) all the more inspiring. The debut album from this multinational band, 5772, is a bewildering, awe-inspiring journey that, whilst owing a considerable debt to both raw and progressive black metal, also draws heavily full sources such as improvisational jazz and krautrock, as well as the violent energy of bands like G.I.S.M. As this might imply, it is a unique listen, and one of the more intriguing black metal releases of 2017.

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Aidan Baker / Simon Goff / Thor Harris – Noplace


Label: Gizeh Records

Recorded in a few short, improvised hours one day in May 2017 by the trio of Aidan Baker (Nadja), Simon Goff (Molecular), and Thor Harris (Swans, Thor & Friends), Noplace is an album that possesses the kind of depth that would never hint at the way it was created, even if it has been edited down from that improvised session. Hypnotic in the most wonderful of ways, Noplace is an album that creates a psychedelic haze, taking the listener to some place more relaxing and spiritually cleansing than whatever place you may find yourself physically within. This is music that is good for the soul.

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Heinali & Matt Finney – How We Lived


Label: The Flenser

Sometimes, there is comfort in the darkness. There are records out there whose content speaks of pain and misery, and wants you, the listener, to know that you’re not alone; to know that things will get better.

How We Lived isn’t one of those albums.

On their second full-length together, the duo of Heinali and Matt Finney have crafted something that may move with a damaged grace and sense of warped beauty; and there may be sounds that shimmer and dance in the haze; but more than that, How We Lived is an album heavy with the sounds of deep-seated sorrow, rooted in the everyday experiences that slowly build up until the burden feels insurmountable. It is a challenging listen, intense in a more emotional rather than musical sense, but it is also a deeply rewarding one, where the void in your soul may stare back at you, but if you’re strong enough to avoid looking away, How We Lived makes for one hell of an experience.

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Violent Magic Orchestra – Catastrophic Anonymous


Label: Throatruiner Records

Woe unto thee, underground record released in December. Such is the nature of music journalism and blogging that the last few months of the year are almost inevitably more focused on retrospectives and lists, rather than paying as much attention as usual to new releases. This is why the debut album from Violent Magic OrchestraCatastrophic Anonymous, passed me by. It’s a shame that this record wasn’t released at a time more receptive to coverage. Comprising Japanese metal band Vampillia, Paul Régimbeau (Mondkopf, Extreme Precautions, Autrenoir), and Pete Swanson (formerly of Yellow Swans), Violent Magic Orchestra have unleashed something that lives up to their name.

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2016 Mainstream Thoughts – David Bowie, The Pixies, Metallica

As discussed previously, whilst the focus of this blog is on the underground, it’s also important to remember that mainstream artists can also release music that’s more than worthwhile, or challenging in some way. With this in mind, I’ll be giving here my thoughts on three very different mainstream albums I spent some time with this year, taking in David Bowie‘s BlackstarHead Carrier by The Pixies; and Metallica‘s Hardwired… To Self-Destruct. This was initially planned as a short section on a previous End Of Year post, but grew in to its own beast; here it is, in all its chart-topping, special edition glory.

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