Chune’s social music distortion

Ever went to a party and desperately wanted to innocuously add some splash of your own taste to the music? (or just replace the music altogether)
So have I.

The makers of the little music box that is Chune apparently shared some of those sentiments and went out of their way by calling their creation a social music service.
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The main idea here is that every single guest with the free Chune app will be enabled to add personal playlists- and thus mood- to the device, so there’s a little bit accustomed to the most diverse tastes. A curation that is, supposedly, intelligent.
As the evening evolves, it lets you change the atmosphere accordingly by turning a switch on the back.

Everything taken into account, these are some smart features. However, no mention on the sound quality of that colorful square. It leads one to believe the preoccupations not to consist of a superior audio quality. For music enthousiasts this means a serious shortcoming.

So aside from happily distorting the current type of music with your own, expect Chune to distort some of your favourites with its own- allegedly- subpar audio drivers.

(Have some experience with Chune already? Feel free to share over at foolishlyproud.wordpress.com)

Rinoa – An Age Among Them

3581569An extraction of the restless inner self.

There’s just something about public transport. Somehow riding a train has a somewhat therapeutic effect on me. It can make me observe the matters I’d be shy of, opens me up to the delicate sounds of the human voice and mostly it allows me to dissect layer after layer whilst in the middle of listening to an album. I was writing this on one, during my 40 minute ride home with An Age Among Them enhancing my thoughts.

The sounds invading my ears were of the brutal kind, brutally honest and brutally heavy. Walls of sound testing the indulgence of my eardrums, emotion-soaked vocals digging up these that I’ve masterfully learned to bury deep inside. It’s quite peculiar how extreme music – and by all means, this is extreme in a wider spectrum – can abhor some and soothe others.

And although I’ve made a habit of reviewing mostly the obscurest of obscure albums, this one’s a little more well-known. And deservedly so. What the members of Rinoa do so well, is what we all want to but find us more often than not incapable of.  To evoke those feelings deep inside that others can only try to bring to words, but utterly fail.

Somehow, which is hard to describe, this music speaks to me. Yet, their formula is actually a really generic one: create walls of sound with hammering sludge effects and add a little post-hardcore tinged screams to that. Alternating with a little ambient and low-key guitar interplay, this delivers to the urge of a quick ‘feels’ fix. While the guitars don’t tread new paths, their dynamics and progression strike you at just the right moment. A quality that is neglected too often.

As with so many matters in life, sincerity also, is the secret ingredient here. The vocals resemble the inner scream that is perceptible on the outside. These unclean vocals aren’t perfect by any means: range is rather low and they are not as piercing as they could’ve been. But they preach, they preach a fight with oneself. A fight that’s safer to be placed outside your mind.

Each and every single human being has a wide range of emotions inside of them, shaped by our everyday encounters. For those a little familiar with the working of the human brain, our brain works energy-efficient and chooses to neglect those memories that harm us, where possible. Meaning, the most heart-wrenching emotions will linger beneath the surface of your explicit memory. Sigmund Freud was the founding father of the technique that therapists try to use their best, but never really succeed.

For me -and I refuse to speak for all of us, since there’s a basic habituation necessary to learn to appreciate certain sounds of the musical spectrum the way Rinoa crafted their music- this music provides the key to certain locks of my brain. It lets me bring forth the anger, sorrow and – yes- joyful hope that I’ve experienced. Granted, I was willing to.

An Age Among Them is an album surely to not leave you unaffected. Its ubiquitous almost bombastic tone circles you,  to embrace and slowly massaging you until you feel something. All to see the sun.

Aurore Rien – Sedative for the Celestial Blue

downloadNight owls and daydreamers alike are presented with a record to suit their moods.
Of all the diverse post-rock, ambient and other Hammocks and Explosions In The Sky out there, there aren’t a lot that combine the aforementioned genres in a compelling way. Mostly it is one or the other. In one possible way, a mixture of the two would involve the use of guitars as the main creators of melodic lines and several sound effects and maybe some reverb to back that up.

Of course this is my interpretation, and one could raise that it should be the other way around.
To be clear, Aurore Rien falls entirely under my view. With Sedative For The Celestial Blue, I present you a record that is able to change my perception of the ongoing in a blink, if I let it to.

Well, writing about matters that alter your perception is never easy, hence why I’m typing this with the curtains closed. A pitiful fact is that records like these often get overlooked or labeled as boring or even generic. When in fact, it only requires an extra look over the shoulder to see and appreciate its understated beauty. Like the girl in your circle of friends whom you’ve never deemed as a dreamgirl, until you develop the ability to look past the shallow beauty of others and go beyond that.
Maybe this is a weakness, more so than a merit, the fact that I can’t immediately appreciate the beauty that lies deeper. And the ones who can, they are truly blessed. For that they don’t require works of art to scream their value to make themselves notable.

In my case, some records just need a certain mood to be fully appreciated, I would even go further as to think these records were created solely for that lethargic, hazy-eyed type of mood. With Aurore Rien literally meaning ‘Daytime Nothing’ it appears so.
The kind where you feel you’re lazy but you’re actually not. You’re just waiting for something to happen in your monotone daily life.

And this, people, this is where the ambient sounds of Aurore Rien come in.
The concept they swear by is like a rock-band in the late night hours, when most of their energy is already gone as is their public. Yet they are still capable of creating beautiful sounds, only their fingers can’t uphold the tempo as they used to. So they choose to stretch these notes.
Every single note runs the thing for all it’s worth, the band members are never in a hurry to let their music go somewhere. They have an eye for the qualities they can extract from their instruments. When their drummer feels like it he will add some extra tempo in his wrists but never go all-in.

That is the signal to raise the tempo, but only slightly so. The guitars playing catch-up tighten a little and the bass goes along. Often they’d throw in a sound effect or two, which I’m not an expert in, but are best to describe as those ‘noises’ that dwell close in your environment but somehow you always seem to forget about them. Like a television set that slightly hums or a breeze that partly slips under your door.
It sure has its desired effect, to even ooze the music further in your consciousness (or subconsciousness?) than it already has.

It should be noted that most of the material that is to be found here is completely void of vocal work, as it is common in the genre of post-rock or ambient electronica. While spoken word sections are not so atypical there are nevertheless vocal parts in the quaint meaning of the term.
If I’m not mistaken these vocals are delivered by Chris Schafer (who went on to form Lights Out Asia) and his voice is nothing less than angelical.
Ever so clear, pure and in tune. His delivery only adds to the experience, instead of the music concealing vocal imperfections. Present on tracks Between The View and You and Will You Write Too.., these become the tracks that lift the record to a higher level.
But perhaps that is too shallow of an ending note.

Imbroco – Are You My Lionkiller?

1680127A first glance up, through the broken covering.

Out of the ashes of the legendary Mineral a handful of bands have risen. The quickest of those to jump the bandwagon of the blossoming emo scene in the late nineties went by the name of Imbroco. Comprised of ex-Mineral musicians drummer G. Wiley and lead guitarist S. McCarver, the newly formed outfit had the asset to immediately be identified as a force to reckon with. The question remains however if the artistic differences that –supposedly- tore apart their former band could bring a positive influx now.

we’ve fallen down. I have now given in
Ironically enough the aforementioned lyrical line provides us with the perfect relationship towards the ex-project. To recognize the break and just move on. Not once does it seem like they were trying to be a successor of Mineral.

As an ensemble that clearly values tempo and straightforward lyrics, the music is undeniably very much delivered at face value here. Thus not much will be left to grow on you, luckily enough as flat as it lies as bright does it shine.
In the vocal department there’s an emphasis on whispered, lullaby like, soothing sounds that escape the mouth of vocalist R. Phillips. That is, until those minor guitar keys embody a more aggressive mental state and his vocal chords flex to a more uncompromised tone that holds the middle between singing off-key and screaming. Engaging to those who show ardour to the genre, sometimes cringe worthy to those who don’t.

Nevertheless here is a relatively easy way to get familiar with the wonderfully introspective offspring of hardcore punk. The mere fact that there’s little to be buried in the song structures and mix leads one, me for instance, to believe that the premise of this band had always been to smooth out the rough edges. To target a public reception less divided as its preceding band.
Were they searching- and therefore culpable for the demise of- to popularize the genre? Certainly not, the jury is still out on the issue of guilt. Imbroco remained true to their roots. The frantic drumming, the unpolished guitar lines and beautifully imperfect vocals all vouch for that.

Imbroco like to philander with the idea of unleashing a double punch full blown guitar distortion onto their willing listeners. Most notably on the track You’re My Lionkiller, that features a frenzied final chord after an already impressive portrayal of the soft-loud dynamics. (Go ahead, and join me in the crazy dance you wouldn’t dare do in public. )
Here’s an EP that mainly functioned as an artistic exploration of their members, that provided the necessary breathing space to establish their own take on the musical style most of them had been playing for years. Once this purpose seemed fulfilled, again members would part ways and move on to other projects. Pop Unknown to be the most ringing name.

Despite its musical wit though, a real impact from this project was not to be expected here, the limited length of the discography does not permit that. Only a minor footprint In the – then still to be solidified- definition of Midwest emo and with Calm Your Fears a place in quite a number of top lists.

Grace Cathedral Park – In the Evenings of Regret

413RaGs2SwLPost-rock for romantics who are not afraid to admit it
This is music for the broken ones and the tender hearted. Grace Cathedral Park are a post-rock outfit that focus on the more romantic side of the genre. As their name suggests, their style is actually a very graceful one. Unlike their peers the typical post-rock base structure is inapparent, in fact they choose to adapt a more gloomy style.
Gloomy is exactly what their product sounds like, slow and some lengthy tracks that leave you with a numbing effect. GCP uses acoustic elements as well as the traditional post-rock equipment which they steer to create a pseudo crescendo that keeps their cart on the rails and gives the impression that the songs speed up. They handle this fairly well, I could imagine myself coming back with the car on a rainy day with this playing while I drive faster and faster to the point where I abruptly would be awakened by horn signals.
The guitars often howl which adds to the dramatic, the folk elements (yes, acoustic guitars in post-rock) create the romantic touch.
This type of song structure isn’t quite easy digestible, with which I mean it can take a while to fully appreciate the layering and build-up of the music. Although those familiar with the genre will instantly notice that this isn’t your average post-rock band.

From the above, one could discard that ‘In The Evenings of Regret’ is an album that requires your full attention. Not really, it serves both as an attentive listen or as background music. It would take quite the apathetic person (and even I enjoy it fully) to not be immersed in the understated sound that has such a distinct effect on its listeners.
I would like to try and draw comparisons to other bands, but I can’t really think of anything else that sounds really similar. If you’d insist I’d say to try vision a more subdued Yndi Halda while Mark Kozelek brings his guitar to the crew.
If you’re a fan of post-rock , slowcore, neo-classical or any other form of dramatic music without a hint of tackiness, then be sure to look into these guys. They really are a treat.