31.3. RUSSIAN CIRCLES / HELMS ALEE / SLEEPMAKESWAVES / SKY HARBOR / TIDES FROM NEBULA

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“We’ve always tried to balance our metal-influenced sounds with more nuanced, pretty, orchestral elements,” Cook says. “But this time, it’s far more polarized in that the heavy parts are much more blown out and exaggerated while the pretty moments are far more restrained, delicate, and atmospheric.” In the two years since Russian Circles released their landmark fourth album Empros, the Chicago trio toured worldwide nearly incessantly, encountering many heavy acts whose music seemed needlessly complicated. “We set out to make a straightforward, intense, heavy record,” Cook explains. “We subconsciously gravitated toward darker and more somber sounds. We wanted to get away from the overtly flashy.”

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To a degree, the monolithic, juxtaposed moods on Memorial is the band’s reaction to the proliferation of iPod culture affecting how bands write music. Today, most musicians are trying to mash together disparate elements with results sounding as unpalatable as cooking a meal blindfolded. Russian Circles wisely and deftly sidestep the trappings of genre amalgamation. “I want to hear a band with a broad palette,” Cook says. “But it should find that weird balance with breadth and width. We wanted to make a record with more extreme peaks and valleys. I’m hoping that we can get away with making a schizophrenic record.”

Those extremes are no more perfectly exemplified than on album opener “Memoriam”, which leads in with delicately plucked guitar notes and synth haze hovering in the background, vaguely reminiscent of Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here album. But the mood abruptly ruptures as the next song, “Deficit” forcefully kicks in with a wall of vicious, treble-bleached guitars blaring over Turncrantz’s half-time rhythm pummeling his drums with the sound of an industrial machine re-fabricating raw materials. Tension builds to a breaking point about halfway through, opening into a skull-thwacking chugging riff that becomes the foundation for multiple mutant variations slithering over the top. “1777” is possibly Russian Circles’ most epic and perfectly streamlined song of all time, incorporating both the physical dynamics of the studio in its sound — much like David Bowie’s emotive vocals on “Heroes”, but instead with drum beats and guitars jutting outward in dramatic fashion — while also developing a slow-burn build of elements purely focused on the emotional specificity of the song. Elsewhere, the uplifting melody of “Ethel” features a chiming finger-tapping guitar line that’s heavily treated with effects making it sound like a vintage synth laid over powerfully expressive drums and distorted bass notes cascading over the proceedings with the forceful cadence of a lead vocalist. Album closing title track, “Memorial” is a plaintive, somber ballad featuring Wolfe’s guest vocals. A hazy version of the album opening guitar notes hang in the distance as Wolfe’s reverb-soaked voice hovers above the dreamlike melody somewhat reminiscent of Julee Cruise’s Twin Peaks theme song.

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russiancirclesband.com

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Helms Alee‘s music is exactly the sort of mutant, fantastic hybrid that used to only occasionally erupt out of small, isolated scenes, uninformed by trends of the day instead inspired by the band’s own collective contributions. The Seattle trio’s unique amalgam of metal, art rock, pop and punk is charmingly reminiscent of the fertile creativity that groups once had before the Internet seemed to instruct bands to only copy one another. Helms Alee’s third album, Sleepwalking Sailors sounds like many styles combined into one, and none of it concerned with any notion other than creating vital, urgent and uniquely characteristic music.

Sleepwalking Sailors was recorded with engineer Chris Common (These Arms Are Snakes, Pelican, Chelsea Wolfe) in Seattle, with intentionally built-in limitations. “We recorded the album to tape in order to confine ourselves from ProTools refining every detail. We ended up with something that sounds really big, but also a bit more aggressive.” Helms Alee’s previous album Weatherhead was released in 2011 to much acclaim by their longtime label HydraHead just before it went under. Undaunted, and as a testament to the band’s strong fan base, Helms Alee originally crowdfunded Sleepwalking Sailors, eventually raising an impressive recording budget. Upon hearing Common’s early mixes, Sargent House quickly offered to bring the band onto their management roster and release the new album. Throughout the course of the album’s creation, the band’s independent aesthetic becomes clear: a dedication to truly representing themselves, regardless of trends and outside influence.

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Sleepwalking Sailors was released everywhere worldwide on LP, CD and download on February 11th, 2014 via Sargent House.

helmsalee.bandcamp.com

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 sleepmakeswaves have had a busy 3 years since the release of their debut album ‘…and so we destroyed everything’ in 2011. 8 Australian tours, 3 European tours and a trip to the USA including SXSW. They’ve toured with 65daysofstatic, Karnivool, Russian Circles, Dead Letter Circus, Boris, Tortoise & in 2012 were unprecedentedly nominated for an ARIA award.

In 2014, the band have released their most epic record to date – ‘Love Of Cartography’ signals their continued desire to map new creative directions.

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www.sleepmakeswaves.com

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From a file on a computer sitting in New Delhi, to a full-fledged touring band with members from around the world formed over the internet – Skyharbor have defied convention every step of the way. The debut album ‘Blinding White Noise’ was released worldwide in 2012 to critical acclaim, and earned the band a dedicated fan following across the globe. Since then, Skyharbor have been performing regularly around the world and making waves with their distinctive brand of sweeping, ethereal prog-rock, fronted by Daniel Tompkins’ powerful and emotional storytelling vocal style. Having played at some of the biggest festival stages in the world barely 20 shows into their career, Skyharbor continue to grow rapidly as a group and musical entity as they prepare to launch their second album ‘Guiding Lights’ in November 2014.

www.skyharbormusic.com

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Tides From Nebula from Poland have been making waves in the international Post Rock scene over the course of 3 LPs and countless gigs all over Europe.

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www.tidesfromnebula.com

THE EVENT WILL BE HELD ON 2 STAGES!

Arena Vienna / big hall & small hall / adv 20 € / doors 23 € / 19.00h

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