Anna Von Hausswolff is a singer-songwriter who has always embraced a progressive attitude to creativity. Never unafraid to straddle genres as diverse as metal, Krautrock, and dark pop, and always remaining elusively undefinable, she has made waves over the past decade with her four previous albums and numerous illustrious collaborations. As well as following her own unique musical path, Von Hausswolff (to name just a few of her achievements and endeavours): runs a record label, has guested with Wolves in the Throne Room and Swans, has supported Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, and has hosted visual art exhibitions. Continue reading
Much-respected London psychedelic rockers Hey Colossus have released a new song, ‘Experts Toll’, from their forthcoming album The Guillotine, due out this June via Rocket Recordings. Hear ‘Experts Toll’ below. Continue reading
Texan duo Pinkish Black originally formed in 2005 as a three piece doom/jazz project called The Great Tyrant; however the tragic suicide of bassist Tommy Atkins in 2010 put a halt to the production of the band’s first album. Remaining two members Daron Beck and Jon Teague continued under the moniker Pinkish Black, producing music that refuses to be pigeonholed into anything genre specific. Fusing synth, industrial, doom and Krautrock, Pinkish Black are certainly not afraid to break the mould and latest opus Bottom of the Morning (Relapse) depicts their visionary approach to music.
This is not an album that resonates instantly; the complexities require time and thought but once deciphered come with great reward. Predominantly synth based, hypnotic swirls of sound consume the record, alongside monotone chant style vocals, creating mystery and intrigue. ‘Brown Rainbow’ radiates a horror movie soundtrack vibe with unsettling keyboards, while ‘Special Dark’ explores their more industrial side with a thumping bass line and clattering of harsh cymbals. ‘I’m All Gone’ is ethereal and hypnotic, drawing upon a more gothic influence. Instrumental conclusion ‘The Master is Away’ demonstrates a mesmerising juxtaposition of fuzzy distorted bass, psychedelic synth and elevating melodies. The variety of influences imbued and unorthodox approach to music is what makes Bottom of the Morning a fascinating record, however the vocals do start to wear thin after a few tracks, eventually, unfortunately, bordering on the monotonous.
Pinkish Black clearly approach their music with intelligence and progressive creativity, and Bottom of the Morning evidently embodies that, nevertheless a great deal of patience is required to really appreciate the multifaceted elements that form their soundscape.
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While preparing to launch her second band and release her second debut album in as many years, Johanna Sadonis, formerly of The Oath and now of Lucifer, spoke to Ghost Cult about the authentic sound of Lucifer I and why the music of yesteryear is at the core of her bands’ identity.
Lucifer I (Rise Above) has a very authentic, organic, warm 70’s sound to it. Was it difficult, in this age of Pro-tools and plug-ins to find place that would allow you to record in an older style way, and someone skilled enough to do it?
“I didn’t look in the places you would normally look for a band that plays rock and metal. I was working at a record store and there was a guy who plays session bass for a lot of different bands and he said he had to go to the studio to record something with guitar player from The Swans for a side project. He came back with 4 or 5 songs and he played them over the big system in the record shop. And I said “It sounds amazing. It sounds like a 1960’s Serge Gainsbourg record!”, so I asked how on earth did he do this in one day, and he said the guy they recorded with (Ingo Krauss) was a true wizard!”
“He actually used to run Conny Plank’s studio, the old hero of the Krautrock scene, and he told me it was full of vintage equipment, so I asked for the contact. It was good to take it out of the context of going to one of the normal metal studios.”
“It was a good thing to do. He did an amazing job and we were able to record live. You don’t have clicks so you have an organic flow to the music, and it can be a magic trick to have that. So, we went to an old studio with all this vintage equipment, and it sounds so much more organic, and you’re able to record live and you hear the little flaws. It’s not over-produced because that would take the life out of it.”
Occult rock is a very “in” scene to be involved in. Why do you think this is, and do you associate with the other bands coming from a similar vibe?
“I’m sure it’s popular for similar reasons. People realise where the real gems are lying. It’s hard in rock and metal to reinvent the wheel and (when people try to) there have been such abominations of style and sub-genres that have been looming over the last couple of decades that have been quite horrible, you know? Also the horrible productions…”
“You look, and you have to return to the roots. But a lot of bands do that, bands that have been around for a long time, maybe during the 90’s they had a horrible phase trying out other stuff that was in fashion then, but now they return to their raw roots, because they realise where it’s at.”
Ha! I always think of Paradise Lost when you talk about bands doing things like that. I loved the earlier stuff, then they took some musical decisions I didn’t like, and I lost touch, though I’m pleased to hear they’re supposed to be heading back to their earlier sound…
“I guess you have to do that if you play music for a long time because you don’t want to repeat yourself. But, hopefully after you make a horrible album you return to what’s right! But everyone does it – even Sabbath with the last album tried to re-invent the old feeling. Whether it worked or not is another question… Or Danzig, the last album is much more back to the roots and to a raw production.”
“I don’t compare Lucifer to other contemporary bands, even those in the same genre although I am friends with many of those bands. I respect their stuff, and we look back to the old influences. I’d rather have a band looking up to those old classics than trying to copy the copy of a copy.”
What is the attraction of a musical style and aesthetic that is older than you are?
“It’s part of a long journey. Being a metalhead for more than 20 years, and going through various different phrases I started with classic metal, of course, but then I went really into death and black and doom. But then when you get older and you start to open your mind a little more, you start to dig more into the historical paths of music.”
“When you’re a music nerd, you start digging, and I came to realize all the bands were based on these classic bands that have been there for 50 years, and you examine why have these bands been here for all this time. Why are Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Uriah Heep classic bands and so good? If you’re a music lover or musician you hear all that and it’s all genuine.”
“So, here I am, at this stage in my life and I have the taste of a 56 year-old man, you know!”
It’s weird, isn’t it, when you come round to listening to the same music as your parents did…
“Exactly! My Dad listened to Deep Purple, and my Mum was into rock n’roll. When I was 13/14, I thought this is not cool! You don’t want to listen to what your parents listen to, because you’re brought up with it. It’s not something you can find your own individual space, because your parents are there too. For me, it was Metallica and Danzig when I was 13. Later on you grow up and you realize “Oh shit! It’s amazing what my parents listen to! Give me all your records!!””
“So, now I listen to my parents records!”
Former …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead member Jason Reece is well known for being an Indie Rock enfant-terrible, destroying equipment and playing squalling discordant alt rock á la Sonic Youth. Yet with Midnight Masses, Reece has looked to produce more gentle, soulful material which still beats with the same black heart of his main act.
Manifesting in 2008, Midnight Masses have been labelled with many genres such as ‘Gothic Americana’ and ‘Grunge Gospel Folk Rock’. Truly there is no easy way to encapsulate this band into a catchy genre sound bite, and they are all the better for it. Singer Autry Fulbright’s take on his band’s multifaceted sound is “The sound of a city… In the middle of a desert” whatever that means.
Amassing over 14 members, Midnight Masses weave hazy psychedelic landscapes with some 1960’s atmospherics, Gospel vocal passages and Krautrock textures. Think Josh Homme, Neu! and Unkle jamming under an isolated desert sky and you’ll be close. As experimental as this all sounds, there are some very catchy tunes on Departures (Superball/Century Media),‘All Goes Black’ has a beautifully catchy chorus despite the melancholy overtones that permeate its every nuance. Since Fulbright wrote their debut to cope with the loss of his father, several other members of the group also experienced the loss of loved ones which accounts for the largely solemn feel.
Introspective and indulgent, painting with a myriad of styles Departures occasionally loses its way. When following the path of gothic alt rock on ‘Am I A Nomad’ or the surprisingly upbeat ‘Clap Your Hands’ provide a much levity from navel gazing to produce moments of true beauty. Undeniably talented, the overall impact is blighted by a lack of cohesion, leaving the mind able to wonder aimlessly when it should be focussed on the journey ahead.
Grief and loss have made some truly extraordinary records, yet the lack of clear direction towards either big city lights of earthy rural darkness leaves us somewhere in no man’s land.
Traversing the waters between electronics and post rock, described as Mogwai meets Aphex Twin, Sheffield’s 65daysofstatic are going strong for years. With a new record coming up, a big European mainland tour on the horizon and a fascinating project in an art gallery, Ghost Cult Magazine felt it was time for a chat with the band’s creative mastermind, Paul Wolinski. Continue reading
Chicago’s Disappears have been an interesting, if sometimes frustrating band to follow. Their garage rock sound, typically drenched in reverb, tremolo and plenty of distortion is fairly straightforward on the surface. But listen closely and there are subtle nods to everything from Krautrock, deathrock, shoegaze, psychedelia and funk. Suddenly they become a monstrously groovy prospect. Their first two albums, Lux and Guider set them apart as a band to watch. But the momentum was somewhat derailed thanks to a lacklustre third outing on Pre Language. Continue reading