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Parts Of Speech (Awaiting Repress)From its first track, Dessa's new full-length Parts of Speech announces itself as something different. The Doomtree veteran and inveterate wordsmith - having proved her mettle in the fields of creative non-fiction, spoken-word and hip-hop - jettisons all genre expectations on "The Man I Knew" and croons a heartbreaking lament to a disintegrating relationship at an explosively-building clip.
From this moment on Dessa - oft-described as "Mos Def plus Dorothy Parker" for the wit and flow shown off on previous solo albums A Badly Broken Code and Castor, The Twin - proves she has truly coalesced as an artist, transcending the restrictions of genre to reveal an astonishing multi-platform voice.
"I wanted to investigate the idea that a cohesive record isn't always made cohesive by having twelve songs that sound the same. I figured when you make a mixtape for a friend, you can get away with a range of genres and a lot of dynamic change. Why can't I approach an album like that? The sequence has to be just right, and we worked hard to nail it, but the thing that holds this record together is the sensibility of the lyrics, rather than a uniform theme."
Track two kicks off a stunning hat-trick of the record's standout numbers. "Call Off Your Ghost" is an admittedly haunting dirge on the "struggle for grace in the wake of a long relationship." An arena-sized chorus tucked into a melancholy lullaby, "Ghost" has that unique ability to perfectly soundtrack new love or bitter breakup at the same time.
Dessa then puts her fists up for "Warsaw." The track boasts a beat like Azealia Banks playing Pacman, which provides a background for our emcee's confident, hypnotic flow. Narrative takes a backseat to mood here, as Dessa spits impressionistic one-ups like "I sleep with both eyes open, standing up," daring you to blink first.
"Skeleton Key" contains Parts of Speech's mission statement: "I haven't met a locked door yet." An ode to female self-reliance that doesn't waste ambiance for message, the track plays like a great, lost M. Night Shyamalan movie, calling forth an era out of time in the story of a woman, a key and a bottomless reserve of courage.
"This record involves multiple narratives. It explores the same themes of love, loss, connection and communion as a lot of my work, but the angle and lens through which they're explored sets this album apart from my previous ones. The production techniques were new for me too - we spent a lot of time crafting a record that could include live players, Doomtree production, and sometimes a blend of the two."
While the album is born of Dessa's artistic vision, it benefits from the collaboration of her varied friends. Parts of Speech owes much of its impact to its diverse production. Dessa got her start as a member of Minneapolis hip-hop collective Doomtree - eventually going on to help manage the group's business affairs as they launched their own label - and members Lazerbeak and Paper Tiger lend their production to several tracks.
The players in Dessa's live ensemble all contributed to the record, as did several top-flight Minneapolis musicians working in rock, folk, and opera. She even enlisted a cellist she found on Pandora to make the gorgeously-layered foundation of penultimate track "It's Only Me."1. The Man I Knew
2. Call Off Your Ghost
4. Skeleton Key
5. Dear Marie
6. I'm Going Down
7. Fighting Fish
8. The Lamb
11. It's Only Me
12. Sound the Bells$17.99Vinyl LP - LP Sealed AWAITING REPRESS Buy Now
Chime (Awaiting Repress)New album Chime from singer, rapper, essayist, Dessa, a member of the Doomtree crew. Includes large poster insert with full lyrics and a new poem printed on embossed cardstock.1. Ride
2. 5 out of 6
3. Fire Drills
5. Good Grief
6. Boy Crazy
9. Half of You
10. Say When
11. I Hope I'm Wrong$21.99Vinyl LP - LP Sealed AWAITING REPRESS Buy Now
The Garden Of Unearthly DelightsMighty Doom icons CATHEDRAL from Coventry, England for sure are one of the most unique and unpredictable acts around. These legendary merchants of slow-motion sound could care less about redundant genre restrictions and have so far incorporated everything from Doom, Psych, Folk up to Funk in their works. With their eighth album The Garden Of Unearthly Delights CATHEDRAL have achieved much more than simply living up to that reputation - the guys created timeless songs that couldn`t be farther away from standardisation, stagnation and convention.
Produced by Warren Ryker (DOWN, CROWBAR), The Garden Of Unearthly Delights is probably the most varied effort of the band so far. While a song like 'North Berwick Witch Trials' will bring back memories of such immortal riffs`n`groove as in 'Hopkins' or 'Ride', 'Tree Of Life And Death' simply tears everything to pieces with its ultra-heavy guitar sound and fierce vocals courtesy of Lee Dorrian.
The centerpiece of it all certainly is the 27-minute-long mammoth epos 'The Garden' that almost bursts with such a wealth of ideas and changes in atmosphere that other bands probably couldn`t come up with on a whole album. Using every stylistic device from female vocals up to violins and embedding it all in that typical CATHEDRAL brand of Doom, The Garden Of Unearthly Delights is a treat for every fan of the band, old and new alike.
Starting with quite sinister and ultra-slow songs on the 1990 EP In Memorium and the full-length album Forest Of Equilibrium, CATHEDRAL quickly gained cult status. The 1992 follow-up EP Soul Sacrifice brought changes soundwise and saw the band mixing traditional Doom with 70s - Hardrock and showed a first glimpse of the trademarks CATHEDRAL still represent nowadays.
After having previously toured with MORBID ANGEL and SAINT VITUS, the band embarked on the legendary Gods Of Grind - Tour with ENTOMBED, CARCASS and CONFESSOR. „The Ethereal Mirror" featured alltime faves like 'Ride' and 'Midnight Mountain' and suddenly gave CATHEDRAL the reputation as „the next big thing in Metal".
Struggling with this label, the band started to experiment on the EP Statik Majik and probably tried out every single instrument they could lay their hands on to churn out a 20-minute-track like 'Voyage Of The Homeless Sapien'. After touring with BLACK SABBATH, the guys went on to record the landmark „The Carnival Bizarre" in 1996 that brought us immortal tunes such as 'Hopkins (The Witchfinder General)' and 'Utopian Blaster' - the latter featuring Tony Iommi on guitar. Supernatural Birth Machine was released in 1996 after touring in South America, Europe and Japan amongst others. The catchy songwriting on that album echoed on Caravan Beyond Redemption in 1998, but with a heavier twist to it. The next serious change in style occurred on the gloomy and sludgy Endtyme that went almost completely without sound experiments and concentrated on ultra-grim riffing. 2002`s The VIIth Coming combined catchiness with heaviness to form a well-balanced mixture between old and new CATHEDRAL.
Now that the English fourpiece has returned with The Garden Of Unearthly Delights it`s time to follow them for new adventures in sound1. Dearth AD
2. Tree of Life & Death
3. North Berwick Witch Trials
4. Upon Azrael's Wings
6. Fields of Zagara
7. Oro the Manslayer
8. Beneath a Funereal Sun
9. The Garden$24.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Rays of Darkness
"One of the most distinctive bands of
the 21st Century." - Pitchfork
"MONO have now well and truly
sealed their place in the pantheon of
rock history." - Rock Sound
When MONO began in 1999, they set out with a simple mission:
From bliss to bludgeon, no matter how long or winding the path
may be. Their debut album, Under The Pipal Tree, outlined that
mission in twisted, psychedelic fury. Subsequent albums would see
the band honing their craft, mastering their mission, and ultimately
abandoning that path in favor of more grandiose pursuits. Flanked
by increasingly larger orchestras, MONO performed live at some of
the most prestigious venues in New York City, London, Tokyo, and
Australia. MONO had become an orchestral rock band, a spectacle
of extreme melancholy and melodrama. By 2012's For My Parents,
the band had finally reached the logical conclusion of that era; it
was time to remember where they started, and to rethink where
they were heading. Less strings? No strings? Louder? Quieter?
Lighter? Darker? Yes.
The Last Dawn and Rays of Darkness are a pair of new albums by
MONO. Recorded simultaneously yet conceptually and creatively
disparate, the two act as both opposing and complementary sides
to a story. No strangers to narratives, the twin albums explore
familiar themes for the band: Hope and hopelessness, love and
loss, immense joy and unspeakable pain. Those elemental parts of
life and the complicated relationships they create have never been
more resonant through MONO's music than they are here.
Rays of Darkness is the first MONO album in 15 years to feature
no orchestral instruments whatsoever. That fact alone is
remarkable given the band's reputation for sweeping, dramatic
instrumentals that recall Oscar-worthy film scores. Instead, Rays of
Darkness more closely resembles a jet engine taking off inside a
small, crowded auditorium. It is MONO's blackest album ever, a
collection of scorched riffs, doom rhythms, and an unexpected
contribution from post-hardcore pioneer Tetsu Fukagawa of Envy.
The album ends with the smoldering wreckage of distorted guitars
and ominous drones playing out a eulogy to the days when MONO
shot blinding rays of light through seemingly endless darkness.1. Recoil, Ignite
3. The Hand That Holds The Truth
4. The Last Rays$19.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Paths To CharonFans of the current 1970's retro rock explosion can add another band to their list of pick-me-ups: Sweden's Skanska Mord are yet another Small Stone signee with a taste for the Nazareths and Atomic Roosters of old.
There is also something of the Seattle psychedelic scene in 'Paths To Charon'. Wah-wahing guitars (think Valis and Screaming Trees) open up the first track 'Dark Caves of Our Mind' on this sophomore record, while Jan Benggtson's bluesy howl owes a bit to the vocal work of Alice in Chains' Layne Staley and Soundgarden's Chris Cornell.
The band's lyrics range from the traditional doom'n'gloom of metal's pioneers, with tunes like the plodding 'A Black Day' making no bones about the terrible state of things, while 'Lords of Space and Time' and 'Alien Encounter' take the listener on excursions elsewhere. 'Laggasen' eases things back a bit for its intro, with some tootling keyboards parting briefly for some harder-edged guitar work.
Folks with Graveyard, Horisont and Kadavar on their playlist should check them out.
- Andrew Carver
Pennyblackmusic (UK) - March 27th, 20131. Dark Caves Of Our Mind
3. A Black Day
4. Lord of Space and Time
5. The Flood
7. The Ambas Sadeur
8. Alien Encounter
9. Rising$19.99180 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now