Monday, 28 March 2011

Archive - Noise [2004]

I have a feeling that of all great Archive albums Noise gets relatively the smallest attention. Usually when I ask people about their favourite I hear Controlling Crowds, You All Look The Same To Me, Lights or eventually Londinium. Well, is last album with Walker any worse than those? More difficult in understanding? Let’s wonder for a while.

(Think of it as a horse ride;))The trip begins with heavy, pessimistic Noise – one of lyrical highlights in Archive’s satchel – I said heavy, but the base is just acoustic guitar and Craig’s voice. The air gets thicker when drums appear and Griffith and Keeler introduce their toys. My favourite example of perfect growing.

Fuck U is next to Again the most famous Archive song. The question is why a simple counting-out game song gets so much more popular than much better musically, impressive, emotional songs? Well, to me answer is simple – honesty. Walker manages to recite so naturally that it seems like he’s coming up with all the names the moment he says them. And again – a great lyric, that everybody can “sing” when upset or angry.

After this shaky start Waste takes a little slowdown and gives us a 9minute peaceful, break (watching coutryside) with second part slightly rising. Sleep may be seen as a dreamy lullaby, but it is one of the more beautiful, calm – and despite all signs – optimistic tunes created by this band. After passing bridge Here we find ourselves about to be thrown out (Get out [!]) of our saddles by happily aggressive Walker. It’s a very nice song, but can be startling why one would be so enthusiastic with getting rid of people...

Yet we only come close to the real “ridding of” part – Conscience is a prayer-like (lyrically and musically) ask for God to take our conscience away “so we can float away” – well, looks like Archive doesn’t feel so good after kicking everybody out...

Pulse is my least favourite, very electronic song with unnatural –to me annoying – vocal. I guess they aren’t exactly fond of this song, since it’s always sing by girls on concerts and further releases. Wrong is another acoustic bridge, quite charming with – thank God! – natural Walker’s voice again. This atmosphere continues in Love Song – um, with exception for middle 2 minutes being another electronic-distorted variation – warm, optimistic tune.

After a long ride finally it’s Me And You /the hardest part/ - the beautiful part, when anger, fear, sadness and loneliness are overcame and we managed to deal with them somehow. Slowly developing song – from piano and soft vocals, through a waltz like passionate singing, to stunning instrumental outro with guitars in an untypical harmony. Perfection. Once again.

Noise isn’t the easiest way to get to know and enjoy Archive, but it’s such an amazing album, that all “fans” shall give it a couple of chances to grow on them – it can be very generous to old friends. Charming, admire!

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Millhaven [2010]

Today I focus not exactly on music, since  Millhaven is a short movie (or music video) prepared by polish young director - Bartek Kulas and a great singer - Katarzyna Groniec.
Together they created a variation on Nick Cave's song The Curse of Millhaven - unique both in picture and sound. It's a song from Murder Ballads and tells a story of 15-year old Loretta (or like she prefered - Lottie) who secretely pleasures herself by killing citizens of the town.

Animation is not the most common choice of presenting horror stories, but Kulas succeeded in creating a nice pressure. In fact the film is mainly about watching the girl's dance - changing, as she's becoming more and more cruel. Yet the small details like spiders surrounding her or madly spinning hair make it even more dramatic.
As for music - Ms Groniec wasn't called one of the greatest singing actresses in vain. Her voice, accompanied by simple, ascetic piano is really thrilling and makes me think she must have been aware of how could insane girl feel and speak. I also assume that choosing to sing the song in polish was a great decision - our susurrous language is perfect for mysterious, desperate monologues.

I enjoy this little 'horror' a lot and it gives me thrills every time I watch it, which is probably more than 10 times during last 3 days;) Serve yourself!

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Playground Noise - Playground Noise [2010]

Waking up today I reached for my ipod as usually, about to find something that will eventually help me get out of bed and – quite accidentally played Playground Noise’s debut longplay (self-titled). Not only did I wake up, but also found out I suddenly became an energy-bomb! As usual this album made me feel so good and so impressed with the band composing skills.

Playground Noise are a young greek band playing – simply calling – rock. It’s rather hard to define “which type” of rock that is, since they mix various styles. Mainly alternative, post rock and 80s new wave and post punk tricks. The most characteristic features are low guitars, strings, post-rock-like drums and (I guess) synthesizers. That already sounds great but after adding a vocalist that can passionately sing using different techniques of clean vocals, murmur, scare speaking lowly or praise with sweet voice – this record becomes an eargasmic journey in time!

The album opens with a sad but energetic April 24. It shows certain inspiration in The Cure (mainly keys+guitar) but with unique low male vocals (the phrase You, you make me real is surely one of the most easily remembered verses to me). Last cigarette is a much lighter, optimistic sound – strongly opposing to the following The Divers. This one is definitely my favourite – slowly increasing, with rich instrumental base (strings dominating the guitars) and again – highly emotional, expressive vocals. We can easily point 2 parts of this multilayered song, with a spoken bridge (it’s time...) in between. In the light of the title we should probably read this song as a struggle in diving to discover flooded wonders of ancient Hellada (perhaps even Atlantis!) – although to me it feels more like written while climbing on Olimp...

Today lyrically is a love song, praising life. Yes it is. But musically it shows less optimism and – again – more fight. You can literally feel the determination of the band, the depth of the belief in their own declaration. The Distance also goes this way – simple, characteristic riff and the vocals in the foreground. You can find a music video to this one on youtube.
Yet there is another surprise to come – Night-Blooming Cereus appears to be a dialogue between strings and piano – lovely but with a dark passenger tracing the blood. Honestly, I think they don’t like optimism – can it be a result of living in the fatherland of Helios god of sun? My theory would say – you may be happy with all the sun around, but it can also really tire you.

Hearts' Circus is a melancholic track that could easily belong to The Cure if it weren’t vocals. Covered with sun... heroes and brides! May I officially announce – yes, they can! They can make a song that is fulfilled with the joy of life! Beautiful, tomorrow I'll take my jacket and go have a nap in a snow smiling to the sharp, cold, polish sun!
Whisper In My Head another good, sad tune. Isolation is on the other hand an ethereal post-rock oriented composure growing slowly and leaving us in a delightful peace.

It’s hard to talk about this album. I gave it a plenty of listens past 3 months and I feel it really grew on me yet it still seems to hide more great surprises for later discover. Generally – really, really pleasant 52 minutes! I hope they’ll get some more attention and record many more interesting albums!