Benn Jordan-Pale Blue Dot

Benn Jordan Pale Blue Dot:

Dedicated to astronomer Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot is a trance inducing  album well suited to thinking about the universe, and your place in it. Significantly more ambient than most of Jordan’s output, his arrangements contain less of the hyper-edited drum parts, and flashy soloing often found in material released under Jordan’s various pseudonyms.  Jordan’s knack for writing beautiful melodies and crafting elegant synthesizer sounds take the forefront on this release. Overall the mood is contemplative, encouraging a state of mind in which you deal with the big questions, rather than many ambient releases which tend to induce a state of relaxation. The music also evokes the same state of wonder as looking up at the stars as a kid or watching one of those Discovery Channel specials about super novas.  As with most of his releases this album explores a lot of interesting territory and uses electronic music to evoke real human emotion in a way that few others can.

A Dark Orbit – The Voyager EP

A Dark Orbit The Voyager EP :

“Yawn, another dark wave band that should have stopped in the 90s.” I f that was your first thought when reading the name of the band and album, well I can’t blame you. But all is not what is it seems, rather this a metalcore band in the vein of Coalesce. The band plays well and the singer does a good job of matching the music. There is nothing earth shattering here, but it’s different enough so that I can tell this band from the thousand other metalcore bands out there. Though the last track does see the band effectively using drum machines and keyboards to create a sound that Curlupanddie flirted with briefly. This a good introduction to a band that maybe something big in the future.

Forever is Forgotten – The Architecture is Burning

Forever Is Forgotten The Architecture is Burning:

If one were to take Fantomas’ Suspended Animation album and shove the tracks together so they create 10 longish tracks, this the album you would get. The music jerks around constantly, unable to focus on one idea. The problem is that makes this album sound like it’s full of short demos crammed together, not thought out songs. There are glimmers of good ideas, but these quickly disappear to be replaced by something either annoying or just played out. The only consistent aspect of the album is the vocals that, regardless of song change, keep doing a monotonous growl. Hopefully their next release will be more thought out than this.

Across Tundras Interview

We were big fans of the latest Across Tundras album, so we were quite happy when Tanner Olson of the band answered a few of our questions. Check out their website and if you can catch em on tour, we encourage you to do so.

How did the band form? Know each other from other bands? School?

Across Tundras formed in Denver, CO with myself, Heath Rave, and Kyler Sturtz. We were all good friends who knew each other from growing up in Sioux Falls, SD. Our paths to Colorado were different; but once we were all there it was inevitable that we play music together. Those guys eventually moved off to pursue other careers, and I kept moving forward with Across Tundras. The lineup has shifted a bit over the years, but where we are at now feels the strongest its been.

I have been working with Shannon Murphy since “Dark Songs of the Prairie”, so I gotta give props to her for being there and putting up with me for along time!

When you started, did you know how you wanted the band to sound or did it just happen naturally?

The sound was very natural, but not neccesarily planned. We wanted to convey certain feelings through music and imagery; our hometown on the prairie, our new home in the mountains, roots, history, nature, ect. With those ideas in mind, it just started flowing.

How much was Denver and Colorado an influence on your music?

The majesty and history of the Wild West and Rocky Mountains is very powerful and important to me. Being in Denver made it easier to tap into those feelings and emotions. The influence of Colorado and the West in general, after spending my whole life in South Dakota was very strong on me personally and musically.

What bands influenced you when you started? What ones influence you now?

I was really lucky that Neurosis used to be regular visitors to Sioux Falls, SD when I was a teenager. I saw them when I was 14 and it knocked me on my ass in a big way. I got to see them many more times growing up and they had a huge effect on me then and still to this day. They showed me that heavy music could be so much more thoughtful and artistic than the blood, guts, violence, and anger that many of their peers were peddling.

As I get older I find myself digging further in the history of music because we would be nothing without those who came before us. I would be less enlightened without these musical innovators/genius’ : Woody Guthrie, Cream, Hendrix, Jimmy Page, The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath, Hank Williams, Hawkwind, Neil Young, and so many more. I find new influences everyday!

What spurred the move to Nashville?

Things got stale in Denver both musically and personally. I couldn’t find steady and committed musicians to play with Across Tundras. I couldn’t find a decent job. My sweet and loving dogs were “illegal” because of a ridiculous Pit Bull ban in the city. The scene was pretty cliquey and unwelcoming because half of the town was “snowblind”. It just got to a point where Denver didn’t feel like the right place for me to be anymore. I want to always be moving forward, not backward. Moving to a new city and a new start seemed like the best plan.

Was it a radical change from Denver?

It was and is a very radical change, yet welcome! From the liberal West to the buckle of the Bible Belt. I did spend 21 years of my life in South Dakota though, and it feels alot like the simple country living I grew up in. So despite the differences from Denver, I love it here and it feels like home.

Was it easier to connect with musicians in Nashville than Denver?

I got lucky and found two kick ass musicians right away in Nashville. I thought I was in for a long “rebuilding” process, but musically it all clicked and took off faster than I could of ever hoped for. Big props to Nate and Micah for stepping up and never looking back!

Musicians in Nashville are professional and have their shit together. This is Music City USA and if you are a slacker without passion, your gonna end up running home with your tail between your legs because it is a very serious thing here. Music is a tradition and way of life in Nashville; and I feel very connected to that.

What differences have you noticed between “Lonesome Wails from the Weeping Willows” and “Dark Song of The Prairie”

I actually see and hear a lot of parallels in sound and emotion between the two records. “Dark Songs” is a bit more abrasive and grungy, where “Lonesome Wails” was just indulging more in the folk and country aspects we established on “Dark Songs”. The sound of the two records and instrumentation was quite different though.

My idea behind the recording of “Lonesome Wails” was to do the most stripped down and minimal recording possible. I decided to use a single, crappy SM57 microphone with no ‘hi tech’ rack gear at all. Much the way Robert Johnson did those first recording sessions in November of 1936. I wanted to hear what Across Tundras would sound like without todays advancements in pro audio. All of the tones on that record are analog from a variety of natural sources. Amplified acoustic guitars, slide, mandolins, air organs, analog phase, recording rain storms, ect.

How do you go about writing lyrics? How are you inspired?

I get inspired lyrically the same way I do musically; from reading the works of the great literary minds of the world! I love all the old gothic writers and poets of the past. I look at the beauty of their words and incredible stories told; and try to hold myself to that standard of writing. I don’t see any point in writing cookie cutter commercial lyrics. I want them to be something you can see and feel on a deeper level.

Sometimes the right words are already written for our music by someone else who lived a hundred years ago. From time to time, I “borrow” lyrics or a poem when it strikes me as the right words for our music and put it together. It’s the closest thing I can find to going back in time and collaborating with Percy Bysse Shelley!

How would you describe the sound for this Album?

Old and new, soothing and disturbing, challenging and rewarding.

Do you find it hard to connect with audiences because of your mashing up of different styles? Also does your style make you an outsider in the metal community? What about country scene?

It is very fuckin tough sometimes. We played after Caspian last nite, and literally the entire room of 100 people left before we even started. Its unfortunate because some of those people may of appreciated what we had to offer, but never gave us a shot for whatever reason.

We try to play indie shows and everyone complains we are too loud/heavy.

I wish we could play country/americana shows, but our bastardization of country and folk would probably send them all running to the hills… so we don’t even get asked.
The metal community is the one place I feel at home; even though we are not a typical metal band at all… so props to the metal community for being the most open minded of all!

What bands out there should more people know about?

U.S. Christmas, Wovenhand, Battlefields, Vernal Pool, Mondo Drag, I Am the Tower

What are you touring plans looking like?

We are gonna keep going hard til we run out of gas and money!

Paira – The Barnacle Cordious

Paria The Barnacle Cordious:

There has been a movement lately in heavy music to throw everything at the wall and see what sticks. The logic being that if you cram your songs full of odd and different parts then they will be good. Truth is this writing style doesn’t work all that well. It makes songs feel half-finished and just incomplete. There are some bands who can make this style work, Lye By Mistake for example, and this isn’t one of them. It’s a shame because this band is technically very good and shows sings of good writing. The problem is these good parts disappear quickly into a haze of sweeping arpeggios and such. This is a decent album that’s marred by what feels like showing off. Hopefully future releases will show more cohesive writing.

The Blinding Light – Junebug

The Blinding Light – Junebug

It’s been awhile since The Blinding Light have released something. Yet age has not rusted this thrashing machine. Rather this is some of best material the band has put out ever. The musicianship has increased dramatically since The Glass Bullet EP. Brian Lovro still sounds like Scott Kelly of Neurosis. There are some neat audio tricks on the album, like the panning spoken word on “Void”, that add a unique touch and separates these guys from the thousand other metalcore bands out there. An album that’s taken like 5 years to write, but was defiantly worth the wait.

The Miracle Mile – The Future History EP

The Miracle Mile The Future History EP

Whenever I hear that a hardcore band is out of L.A. I’m slightly surprised. L.A. Always seems like a Hardcore ghost town to me. I know that’s bullshit, but offhand the only band I can think of is Terror. But hey here’s a second one I can identify! This album’s pretty generic. Yeah it’s angry, but still you can’t you haven’t heard it before. Think Blacklisted with a raspier singer. The songs blend together till the end song “Suburban Home” which is actually pretty cool. So nothing really challenging here, but you can still mosh out to this album. And in the end isn’t that what really counts?

Amesoeurs – Self Titled

Amesoeurs Self Titled:

Neige from Alcest got together with friends and made created this band. It was an attempt to fuse Black metal with shoe-gaze/post-punk, which seems like a bad idea on paper. Well, the actual results are more hit than miss. What really works on this album is when the music is very atmospheric black metal with female vocals over it. What doesn’t work is when the album goes into post-punk music with black metal screeches over it. Because it’s an ambitious album it’s an uneven affair. Yet the good parts are very good and even the bad parts aren’t that bad. So if you’re looking for something interesting from Black Metal, or any heavy music, and don’t mind not understanding a word (it’s all in French of course) then this is worth your time.

Isis – Wavering Radiant

Isis Wavering Radiant:

One could not be faulted for thinking of this disc as In The Absence of Truth part 2. That’s not a bad thing either. Rather it seems like the musical ideas that Isis developed on In The Absence have been better realized and executed on this disc. There are still heavy parts with the expected thundering growls, but these are tempered with atmospheric passages and singing. Aaron Turner may not be the best singer ever, but he uses his voice well and it compliments the music. One of the best aspects of the new album is the expanded presence of the keyboards. In previous releases the keyboards seemed to be regulated far back in the mix, but here they are up front like they are live. They even seem to be used as a third guitar. Also Adam Jones stops by on two tracks, which is pretty cool. Over all, an awesome, interesting album worth the purchase.

Into The Moat – The Campaign

Into The Moat The Campaign:

Into The Moat is band that a lot of people are calling the future of extreme metal. If so, Metal maybe in for some bad years. This is a World War 2 themed death metal album. Wait sorry Technical, Chaotic Death Metal album. That means the dudes have musical chops no doubt. Time signatures are changed abruptly and what not. The problem with this is that there is no real taste to it. It seems more like the band is showing off rather than composing a good song. The other problem here are the vocals. If your band is doing complex stuff, shouldn’t you change up your vocal style at least once in a while? The singer just stays with the same growl through out the songs. It works somewhat, but it also causes songs to sound the same. I hate to be so negative, but I can’t accept this as the future of Metal. You guys as a band can do better, I know you can.