Saturday, November 22, 2008

Bring Me The Head Of Orion

Hailing from Austin, Texas, Bring Me The Head Of Orion offers a musical experience as large as the state itself. This music contains a sprawling, open-ended quality that confounds expectations by being simultaneously evolutionary and completely static. The formal architecture is built on simple, clear cut melodic ideas and a minimalist type repetition that moves from idea to idea with a refreshing clarity. Depending on your point of view, you might consider the sonic result to accompany the beginning of the world or its end. As or myself, I relate more to it as a soundtrack to the eschaton, and frankly would be worried as to what type of world would produce these sounds from its point of origin.
This musical unit is one man. According to information I was made privy to, this project started in September of this year, after a run in a string of bands. Feeling the need for unfettered self-expression, Orion was born. The gentleman in question is driven by a type of mysanthropy which expresses itself in the music, a "deep-seeded" disgust for humanity in general.
The music itself is entirely instrumental, devoid of lyrics. There is a curious "symphonic" quality that runs through each of the songs, a sort of digital post-tonal "orchestration". The pacing of the songs is quite gradual, each unfolding within the confines of its sonic space with a quiet self-confidence, requiring the respective listener to actually listen to the music itself. What novel thinking, that music should be listened to.
Godflesh and Sunn O))) were listed among the influences called upon in the production of this work, and we can see the connection. The riff work itself calls to mind Streetcleaner at times, and the pacing of the songs definitely drives home the Godflesh association. Where Orion differs from Godflesh specifically is in its orchestral quality, and the fact that the architecture has a "sectional" feel at times, with each idea in a particular song being self-contained while giving impetus to the next. As I stated before, evolutionary yet static.
An example of this is track two of the demo, named "contagion Rite". The song begins with a distorted, ambient, lower register tonal wash that is accompanied by a repetitive figure of keyboard squelches. This gives way to a two part interplay between keyboard and bass with a highly minimalist drum beat, which eventually coheres into a more consistent beat driving the bass line. Eventually, after some melodic and rhythmic development in this section, everything dissolves into guitar and keyboard drones, which then coalesce into a more "metal" type feel. This last eventually dissolves into cadential keyboard figures, and the whole thing ends. Mind you, this whole process, which has been so imperfectly explained, expands for over eight minutes, and unfolds in that mood of slow and deliberate self-confidence described above. Your undivided attention is definitely required.
Overall, there is an intersting balancing of textures and solid architecture. At times it feels like a more somber version of the Residents, especially in the choice of keyboard timbres. Albeit, a version of the Residents in which all the playfullness has been exchanged for sober ruminations on life and death.
One of our personal favorite aspects of this man's vision is in the use of drums. There is an elemental, "on the beat" quality that suits these proceedings perfectly.
One might even go so far to say that the "primitivistic" quality of the drum beats forms the entire backbone for each of the songs. A more overt style of drumming
would interfere with the proceedings. This should make for some interesting discussions amongst the Gabriel Serbian fans in the world. We know it did for us, as we are big fans of The Locust. At times the drums fall out completely, which induces feelings of severe entropy. When the drums come back, so does the sense of forward motion.

check em out at:

Monday, November 3, 2008

These Modern Times

In the spirit of the times comes These Modern Times, a group composed of Swedes and Yanks. Hailing from Sweden and The United States simultaneoulsy might be a geographical impossibility, but now thanks to the advent of such technologies as Skype, international communication has a decidedly local flavor.
This is the deeper purport of the name. The world wide web has made this band, a sort of sonic cyborg in which technology has fused with human beings to allow information to flow across oceans, cultures, and lives.
First conceived in the winter of 2007-08, after a chance meeting between Carly and Ola in a jazz cafe located in the beautiful nothingness of Second Life, the core of the group is composed of three Swedish men and one American woman. And yes, the men are all beautiful in that roguish model way so naturally peculiar to Swedish men that would probably attract me as well if I were a woman or a gay man. Carly is pretty hot as well.
Lead singer and guitarist "Lars" has a nicely rounded vocal tone that gently underscores the quiet beauty of the proceedings. Overall the songs are nicely written, with each part unfolding logically into the next. I sense the possibility of a bright future.
The one area where some necessity of improvement is perceived is within the ensemble. Not being physically present with one another seems to obscure the rappour at times, and the downbeats do not always line up completely. Ultimately, however, these "feel" to be nothing more than growing pains exhibited by a group of obviously talented musicians learning to collaberate in a new and cutting edge environment.
Apart from the core of the group there are three other auxiliary members listed as "talented friends and inspirations". Their presence nicely enhances the group by providing more "orchestral color" of the type utilized by bands like Belle and Sebastian, with whom they seem to share certain aesthetic sympathies. This will definitely appeal to fans of Tigermilk, etc.
As of this writing, the Myspace page has a player containing six songs. Two of the songs so far posted deserve, in our opinion, especial mention. The first, La Vague, is an experimental work composed for what sounds like two basses in different registers playing melodic figurations underneath Isabelle, who is reciting something in French against sounds of the ocean lapping against the shore. All in all, it creates a very delicate and introspective atmosphere. And no, we are not even remotely fluent in French.
The second "standout" track is the last on the player, "Ysabel". In our opinion, this is the strongest and most clearly defined of the set. It is a song of lost loves, a lament for what may have been. Ah, the sweet sorrow of a woman's love.
The layering of guitar parts, bass and Lars voice with Carly on backing vocals is poignant and haunting. The song itself is nicely streamlined and moves towards its own destiny with a clearly defined internal logic.
As of the present moment this band has no other form aside from its incarnation online. It would be very nice to see this collaboration come to true fruition. However, this would more than likely require Carly to go to Sweden, as EVERYONE else is Swedish. Did we mention that already?
In short, while definitely needing some more time to mature and cohere, this "e-band" has great potential. As they grow and become even more tightly defined in terms of their collective vision and voice, they will acquire more and more interested people.

Check 'em out at: