Tag Archives: folk

Cristobal And The Sea – Sugar Now

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I am really glad to be back on El Gore to talk about a debut album that I, as a huge fan of the London-based quartet, had been eagerly awaiting: Sugar Now by Cristobal and the Sea! I’m obsessed with their experimental approach to folk with Mediterranean influences, and this release has been a definite musical highlight of my year.

I know comparisons are tricky, but it’s less the musical similarity that makes me point it out and more the general vibe and feeling I got from the record – I was immediately struck by how much it reminds me of Fleet Foxes‘ spectacular Helplessness Blues. The folk element is way more pronounced than in much of their previous work, which was dunked in trippy reverb, delayed guitars, some auto tune and other spacey effects. It’s less crammed, more subdued, very organic, fairly stripped down yet still big-sounding, and somehow feels close to nature. The particular way the band melds their haunting chants and vocal harmonies, flute playing, Latin riffs and at times borderline bizarre melodies creates a mystical atmosphere and invites you to get lost in a panorama of colourful sounds.

Pretty much every piece of media I’ve read about Cristobal and the Sea makes mention of the members’ different European backgrounds. With reason, as this cultural variety definitely spills over into the album, most evidently in the form of parts sung in Portuguese, French and Spanish (the two singers’ and bass player’s respective native languages). The lyrics themselves – sometimes abstract, other times more concrete philosophical musings – support the instrumentals in painting vivid pictures.

There are upbeat moments, but there’s also an ever-present profundity, perhaps even slight melancholy, hanging over the album. Honestly, if I had to sum it up succinctly and in less descriptive terms, I’d just call it beautiful. You can feel the passion and emotional honesty of the musicians shining through. It’s a truly refreshing spin on indie folk music that will be a delight to everyone who digs the warm sounds of Latin America and the Iberian peninsula.

The band is active on Facebook and other social media platforms, and Sugar Now, which will be out on the 2nd, can be pre-ordered here, as well as on iTunes and Amazon.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vc87JzsT52o]

Tanya Tagaq – Animism

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I’ll be honest: today’s album is probably the weirdest shit I’ve ever listened to…but it’s good shit. Tanya Tagaq specializes in throat singing, a technique I had never ever heard of before this, which in itself is quite, for lack of a better word, special…but if you add eery and repetitive instrumentation to it, it reaches a whole new level of weird. After having a remarkable success in Canada, her album Animism is seeing a European release on January 26th…so let’s see what’s so special about it.

At the risk of sounding like an utter racist and offending an entire culture, let me say this: if I had to describe the Inuit throat singing, which is the core of these forty-nine minutes, I would compare it to a mixture of sounds that someone who suffers from severe lung cancer, coupled with extreme psychological disorders, while under the influence of strong narcotics, would emit. And I absolutely love it. In the process of discovering the album, I’ve looked into the technique a bit and it requires extreme skill as well as absolute mastery of one’s vocal chords, which I deeply respect and admire.

While the throat singing is definitely the major element of these eleven tracks, the instrumental backdrop is genuinely intriguing as well. It is comprised of several “classic” instruments, as well as electronic beats and while, or maybe because, it is fairly monotonous, it sucks you in and keeps you glued to your seat. Her regular singing is worth mentioning too, since it adds another layer to this multifaceted record.

While this review did turn out to be quite short, I honestly can’t tell you much more…because it’s really terribly difficult to describe what the listener of Animism is going through. Nevertheless, it’s one hell of a freaky “am I on acid or is this real?”-musical trip, provided you immerse yourself completely in what it has to offer. Be sure to visit her Facebook page and give the song below a listen, but be aware that it’s nowhere near the level of mind-boggling that can be experienced if you listen to the entire album!
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0o5StBRPOI0]

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Specter At The Feast

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It’s a a hard task to review the newest album of your favourite rock formation. It is even harder when you’re about to first see them live in a couple of hours at den Atelier. To me, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club are one of the most influential bands in the genre that I know and yet they manage to maintain themselves as a riddle; perceived by the masses but still handled as an underground phenomenon. I remember the first time I saw one of their videos of their debut album on music television at a time where Nu Metal was THE big thing and I was completely flashed by the dark, melancholic mood of the music. I charmingly describe their music as my personal soundtrack for my suicide with an overdose, but I’ve got do drugs first for that purpose…

Specter At The Feast could be easily described as a panoply of genres the band underwent during the whole career, but that’s not the whole truth. Songs like the opener Fire Walker are a surprise with the almost esoteric intro and the hypnotic bassline, the vocals add a soothing action to the listening experience. Let The Day Begin and Hate The Taste are a perfect example for Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’sease and serenity in songwriting. The fundament is rock solid and yet not self-evident to realize, which turns BRMC to the last remaining top dogs in their genre who managed to somehow survive for 15 years now.

Returning and Lullaby are two over-melancholic tracks that I could listen to in a hazardous endless loop, wallowing myself in self-pity. I personally feel myself catapulted back in 2005 when Howl was released. I might be the only one, but Peter Hayes’ voice so reminds me of John Lennon and this is not meant as an offense! BRMCflair for melancholic folk rock with an obvious retro taste is simply astounding. Therefor, Rival could be interpreted as a cool provocation for other bands to compete with BRMCfor rock’n roll olympus but I somewhat sense a defeat for each band who enters the arena. Teenage Arena is just the right soundtrack for the battlefield.

All in all, Specter At The Feastis a pleasant surprise because it shows no signs of fatigue in the trio’s songwriting. It’s challenging, dirty and mostly high paced, with a few exceptions (Fire Walkerbeing over the top but Sometimes The Lightis a bit too much calm after the storm). But who am I fooling anyway, I’ll stick to my opinion that Black Rebel Motorcycle Clubhave never released one bad album. I’m really looking forward in seeing them live and hyper nervous right now!


[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OfbxNAZQg-g]