So here’s this again, but with five instead of ten (too many).
Asva – A Game in Hell, Hard Work in Heaven
What You Don’t Know is Frontier (Southern Records 2008)
From the new record, this Asva song features clean guitar strumming, organ, bells of some kind, a female vocalist chanting in some language other than English, huge distorted guitars, and gentle sub-sonic bass. The guitars play the simple repeating melody in unison with the organ, punctuated by the slightest teases of cymbal. It’s not till halfway into the sixteen minute song that it ramps up to Asva-as-usual dynamics, the doom riffs deconstructing the established melody. Eventually it all falls into a big drum-led post-rock riff driving the song to its blissful conclusion.
The trick to Asva seems to be that unlike a lot of so-called “drone doom”, the riffs in Asva are forever resolving themselves melodically. Even when the sound is that of a star collapsing, it’s beautiful and emotionally engaging. It becomes not an endurance test – waiting to see when the shoe will finally drop – instead it’s a stream of cadences, with space to breathe after each one.
Or in layman’s terms, it kicks assholes in the face forever.
Do Make Say Think – The Universe!
You, You’re a History in Rust (Constellation Records 2007)
This band is just so damned good it’s perplexing. Sometimes they’re so horrendously noisy and loud, but at the same time melodic. This song is an example of that. It’s a train clattering along, stuttering and shuddering on the tracks, with all together too many instruments blowing out too many tunes at too many different angles. Cannot recommend it enough.
Robert Fripp – Disengage II
Exposure – Third Edition (DGM 2006 (1979, 1983, 1990))
This features Daryl Hall of Hall & Oates. This is apparently the original version of the song, which was unreleased due to a dispute with Hall’s label. Basically, it’s like a King Crimson song, but angrier, and with oddly shouted vocals. I love it.
Across Tundras – Two Black Clouds
Western Sky Ride (Saw Her Ghost 2008)
Got this album direct from the band. They’re pretty cool, although I haven’t really given it the attention it really deserves. They’re kind of sludgy and southern rock oriented, with a sound clearly designed to evoke the American frontier, dust-swept plains, fear of God and cattle skulls. This instrumental from the album features excellent steel guitar and just generally sounds exactly like what I just described. In fact, it’s barely audible under the sound of howling wind. This is music that intentionally buries itself under a weight of dust and cobwebs to make it appear older than it really is. And hey, it works.
Porcupine Tree – Feel So Low
Lightbulb Sun (Snapper 2000)
I’ve been a Porcupine Tree fan for almost seven years now (which is scary enough in itself), and in that time I’ve attained the entire catalogue. I can say with no doubt in my mind that this album is my least favourite of the PT-band releases (On the Sunday of Life… being basically solo Steven Wilson). Songs like Hatesong, Russia on Ice and Four Chords that Made a Million just don’t do anything for me. Regardless, this being Porcupine Tree, at least one half of the album is still great songs I enjoy, and none more so than Feel So Low.
Beautiful uniquely melancholy lyrics and vocals (Wilson’s speciality it seems) married to a minimal arrangement of guitar and mellotron, augmented with and actual string quartet.
If Tony the Tiger were here he’d say “Mmm, tastes like Antelope.”