Fire!-She Sleeps, She Sleeps.

Back in Fenruary, Fire! released their fifth studio album She Sleeps, She Sleeps on Rune Grammofon. Just like previous albums by Fire! and the Fire! Orchestra the music on She Sleeps, She Sleeps was groundbreaking, influential and innovative. It was also captivating, progressive, genre-melting music.

The music on She Sleeps, She Sleeps veers between moody and broody, to dark and dramatic, through to hypnotic and mesmeric. Other times, the music is akin to a soul-baring confessional, where pain, hurt and heartache pours out of Mats Gustafson’s saxophone. Then his playing is akin to a musical equivalent of Primal Scream Therapy. Once he’s seemingly exercised of demons, it’s all change, and often, the music becomes beautiful and melodic. Always, though, Fire!’s potent and powerful musical cocktail continues to captivate, and proves to be just as progressive and innovative on their latest album She Sleeps, She Sleeps.

Key to the success of She Sleeps, She Sleeps is Fire!’s ability to seamlessly combine elements of avant-garde, experimental, free jazz, noise and psychedelic rock. Fire! are like a musical shaman, combining an eclectic and disparate selection of musical genres and influences. Playing a leading role in their potent musical potion, are mesomorphic rock rhythms and a braying free jazz saxophone. They compliment each other perfectly on She Sleeps, She Sleeps, which is Fire!’s finest hour.


Fire! Orchestra-Ritual.

For their fourth album Ritual, which was released by Rune Grammofon,  the Fire! Orchestra “slimmed” their lineup down to just twenty-one members. The newly slimmed down  lineup of the Fire! Orchestra . Still, The Fire! Orchestra features some of the most talented musicians Sweden, Norway, Denmark and France has to offer. This pan European supergroup recorded Ritual in just two days. 

The result was an album that sounds as if everything the Fire! Orchestra has been leading up to Ritual, It Ritual features the five part Ritual suite. It’s a captivating album where the Fire! Orchestra combine avant-garde, experimental, free jazz, funk, jazz and rock. The music veers between restrained and understated to urgent and dramatic. Other times, the music is mesmeric and hypnotic, before becoming melodic and soulful. Occasionally, the music becomes moody, wistful and cinematic. Always, the music is ambitious, experimental and progressive.

Just like previous albums, Ritual is imaginative, inventive and innovative. It’s also joyous and uplifting, with the Fire! Orchestra playing with freedom and spontaneity, as they examine mysteries and rituals, not just in life, but in music. This five suite exploration is a  musical tour de force from the Fire! Orchestra, Ritual which proves that when it comes to lineups, size isn’t everything.


Forastero-El Submarinista En El Tejad.

For the last few years, Forastero have been familiar faces on Madrid’s underground jazz scene. It offers alternative venues to the ones that are regularly frequented by the city’s more conservative jazz fans. They may have changed their mind after hearing Forastero’s debut album, El Submarinista En El Tejad. It’s a captivating musical adventure.

During El Submarinista En El Tejad, Forastero take the listener on a the musical equivalent of a magical mystery tour. Forastero fuse elements of avant-garde, dub, electronica, free jazz, funk, rock, sixties soul, ska, soul jazz and surf rock. To this, Forastero add a variety of musical influences, including The Doors, Jimi Hendrix and Sonic Youth. So does Ennio Morricone’s Spaghetti Westerns and the music of Brandt Brauer Frick. They play their part in El Submarinista En El Tejado’s cinematic sound. All this influenced Forastero album El Submarinista En El Tejado which was released on Lovemonk Records.

It’s an accomplished, cinematic and genre-hopping album. No wonder. Forastero have spent the last few years honing and perfecting their sound. This has paid off.  They’ve recorded a truly eclectic album, El Submarinista En El Tejado. It features the many sides of Forastero. El Submarinista En El Tejado and has the potential to introduce Forastero to a much wider audience,  and in the process, launch the career of the Madrid based musical adventurers, Forastero.


Frightened Rabbit-Painting Of A Panic Attack.

Three years after they released their previous album Pedestrian Verse, Glasgow based Frightened Rabbit returned recently with their fifth album Painting Of A Panic Attack. It was released on Atlantic Records, is a mixture of anthems and ballads. Mostly, though, anthems are to the fore on Painting Of A Panic Attack. 

Just like the ballads on Painting Of A Panic Attack, they feature lyrics that are variously cerebral, cinematic, dark, insightful and wistful. Lead singer and songwriter Chris Hutchison, brings these lyrics to life. He’s a storyteller who breathes emotion and meaning into the lyrics. That’s the case whether it’s on the ballads or anthems. There’s hooks aplenty on the anthems, which will be favourites when Frightened Rabbit play live. 

They’ve been doing a lot of that recently. That will continue to be the case. Frightened Rabbit are also well on their way to becoming one of the most successful current Scottish bands. They’ve also released one of the best albums of their thirteen year career. That album is Painting Of A Panic Attack, which is an assured and accomplished album from Frightened Rabbit who are equally comfortable delivering ballads as they are hook-laden anthems.


Hedvig Mollestad Trio-Black Stabat Mater

During July, the Hedvig Mollestad Trio released two albums on Rune Grammofon. This included their much anticipated fourth album Black Stabat Mater. It’s a glorious reminder of the golden age of rock. Indeed, it’s possible to imagine the Hedvig Mollestad Trio playing at the Whiskey A-Go-Go in Los Angeles or Fillmore East in New York. However, the similarities between some of the legends of music and the Hedvig Mollestad Trio is no coincidence.  

Hedvig Mollestad Thomassen who founded the Hedvig Mollestad Trio in 2009, grew up listening to Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Jimi Hendrix. Their influence can be heard throughout Black Stabat Mater. So can the influence of early Hawkwind, Cream, Santana and West, Bruce and Laing. Closer to home, maybe Moster! and Motorpsycho have influenced the Hedvig Mollestad Trio? These bands have a similar genre-melting sound to the Hedvig Mollestad Trio. 

To create this genre-melting sound, the Hedvig Mollestad Trio fuse elements of rock, psychedelia and space rock with avant-garde, improv and jazz. Sometimes, the Hedvig Mollestad Trio seamlessly switch between musical genres mid track. Other times, these disparate genres melt into one on Black Stabat Mater. Occasionally, the Hedvig Mollestad Trio spring a series of surprises, and take the listener on a magical mystery tour. Mostly, though, Black Stabat Mater is an album of über hard rocking music which is finest album of the Hedvig Mollestad Trio’s career. They reach new heights on Black Stabat Mater.


Hedvig Mollestad Trio-Evil In Oslo.

In July 2016, the Hedvig Mollestad Trio released two albums. This includes the live album Evil In Oslo. It was released by Rune Grammofon and is the Hedvig Mollestad Trio’s first ever live album. Evil In Oslo is a tantalising taste of the Hedvig Mollestad Trio live.

Evil In Oslo was recorded in two Oslo clubs, John Dee and Buckley’s. Playing in front of a hometown audience seemed to bring out the best in the Hedvig Mollestad Trio, They prove to be confident and assured performers on  Evil In Oslo. The Hedvig Mollestad Trio fuse elements of classic rock, psychedelia, progressive rock and space rock with avant-garde, blues, funk, improv and jazz. Sometimes, the Hedvig Mollestad Trio seamlessly switch between musical genres mid track. Other times, these disparate genres melt into one on the same track. However, for much of the time, the Hedvig Mollestad Trio showcase their hard rocking sound. 

Lead by virtuoso guitarist Hedvig Mollestad Thomassen, the Hedvig Mollestad Trio are one of the new breed of hard rocking groups that have sprung up across Europe.  However, Norwegian trailblazers the Hedvig Mollestad Trio, are without doubt one of the best of the new generation of hard rockling bands. Proof of that is Evil On Oslo, which is a tantalising taste of the hard rocking Hedvig Mollestad Trio at their very best.



I Have A Tribe-Beneath A Yellow Moon.

Patrick O’Laoghaire  had been working I Have A Tribe’s much anticipated debut album since 2015. It was recorded at Chem 19 studio, in Blantyre, Scotland with ex-Delgado Paul Savage. The resultant album Beneath A Yellow Moon was released on Grönland Records as summer dawned. 

Beneath A Yellow Moon featured captivating songs that are beautiful, cerebral, cinematic, melancholy, poignant, thoughtful and touching. They’re framed by arrangements that are understated. They don’t get in the way of the vocal. Instead, the vocal is allowed to breath and becomes the focus of your attention. That’s as it should be.  Patrick O’Laoghaire’s vocal veers between heartfelt, emotive and melancholy, to needy and hopeful. Other times, hurt and heartbreak shine through on Beneath A Yellow Moon. The result was an album that not only lives up people’s expectations, but surpasses them.

That’s no surprise. Patrick O’Laoghaire, the man behind I Have A Tribe is a talented singer, songwriter and musician, who doesn’t so much deliver songs, but lives and experiences them. That is the case throughout Beneath A Yellow Moon, but is especially the case on After We Meet, Kamala. and Casablanca. These tracks just might be “the beginning of a beautiful friendship” with Have A Tribe and their debut album Beneath A Yellow Moon.


Jenny Hval-Blood Bitch.

Autumn 2016 saw Jenny Hval released  her new album, Blood Bitch, via Sacred Bones. It was the followup to Apocalypse Girl. However, Blood Bitch was a very different album and one of the most experimental and focused album’s of Jenny Hval’s six album career.

Before its release, Jenny Hval described Blood Bitch as: “an investigation of… blood that is shed naturally…the purest and most powerful, yet most trivial, and most terrifying blood.” Blood Bitch found Jenny Hval drawing inspiration  from everything from art and pop to vampire movies and artwork made of menstrual blood. 

Jenny Hval also incorporated  elements of poetry,  prose and absurdist dialogue into Blood Bitch. She also deployed a myriad of instruments, effects, noise, samples and added vocals that convey a variety of emotions.

They’re framed by arrangements that are understated. They tinkle, shimmer, glisten and quiver. Other times, they’re atmospheric, fuzzy and spacious. Sometimes, they bristle and crackle. Occasionally, the arrangements are elegiac ooze ethereal beauty. Never do they overpower Jenny Hval’s vocal which is the focus of the listener’s attention. Meanwhile, elements of ambient, avant-garde, electronica, experimental and pop combine on Blood Bitch. It’s variously  atmospheric, beautiful, challenging, cinematic, eerie, elegiac and ethereal.  There’s also an intensity to Blood Bitch, which is a ruminative and thought-provoking album. However, one thing Blood Bitch drives home and remind listeners is that blood isn’t something is a life force, a reminder of creation and  where men and women begin.


Jessica Sligter-A Sense Of Growth.

Although Jessica Sligter was born in Holland, Oslo is where she calls home. Despite that, her third album A Sense Of Growth, which was released by Hubro Music, was recorded in Seattle. It was the most ambitious and abstract album of her career. A Sense Of Growth was an album of abstract, genre-melting soundscapes which found Jessica: “deconstructing the format of song based music.”

Having done so, Jessica wrote captivating songs. She dawns the role of a storyteller, as she combines paeans, confessionals, and social comment with songs filled with hurt and pain. This includes the heart-wrenching title-track. Just like so many of the songs on A Sense Of Growth, it has a cinematic quality. Jessica dawns the role of director, and uses instruments and harmonies to help her tell these stories. This is hugely effective, and results in a truly compelling and innovative, genre-hopping album.

Everything from  avant-garde, country, folk, pop, psych-folk and rock feature and are fused on A Sense Of Growth. Similarly, Jessica uses combinations of instruments that seem unlikely bedfellows. They work well and play their part in songs that are beautiful, cinematic, dramatic, emotive and moving. Other songs veer between elegiac and ethereal; to emotive and melancholy and sometimes, poignant and wistful. Every song is guaranteed to stir an emotion and make the listener think. That’s why A Sense Of Growth is a career defining album from sonic innovator and explorer Jessica Sligter.


Joan As Police Woman and Benjamin Lazur Davies-Let It Be You.

Let It Be You was the much-anticipated collaboration between Joan As Police Woman and Benjamin Lazur Davies.  It was released by Reveal Records and found Joan and Benjamin fusing elements of electronica, indie pop and indie rock are combined with ambient, avant-garde and experimental music. Then there’s the influence of African music. That’s no surprise.

Both Joan and Benjamin journeyed to Africa to study traditional music. When they returned, and happened to meet that they realised they both shared an interest in African music. This lead to them record the genre-melting Let It Be You. There’s an African influence throughout  the album. Especially othe staccato bit-crushed guitar line that plays throughout Broke Me In Two. That sound reappears elsewhere on the album. However, care is taken not to overuse it. It’s a similar case with the various effects that are deployed.

Effects are used throughout to  sculpt carefully craft Let It Be You. It lasts just thirty-seven minutes, but it’s thirty-seven memorable and melodic minutes. The music on Let It Be You is variously beautiful, dreamy, elegiac and ethereal, but also dark and dramatic. Other times, the music is hypnotic and mesmeric, before becoming catchy and truly irresistible. It’s a case of don’t spare the hooks, as  Joan As Police Woman and Benjamin Lazur Davies weave their musical magic and continually captivate on  Let It Be You.


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