With their new release “Change”, Italian shoegaze artists In Her Eye on the path to refined harmony

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The third release from Milan, Italy’s In Her Eye is titled “Change” and the eight song album has progressed in ways since the days of their 2011 debut “Anywhere Out of the World”.  Their path to achieving refined harmony is obvious.

Since the beginning, In Her Eye’s sound has delivered a powerful mixture of 80’s new wave echoes (New Order, The Cure), shoegaze and sonic suggestions (Swervedriver, My Vitriol, Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr.); all filtered through a genuine rock attitude.

In Her Eye has dedicated “Change” to movement and transformation. In the last few years, original band members (Aldo Bernuzzi, Giuseppe Galotti, Stefano Schiavella) passed through a lot of changes: relationships, new births, life philosophies. The line-up has changed as well: with Raffaele Bocchetti (former Stella Diana) joining the band.  And with the addition, they’re convinced the In Her Eye classic sound has recreated and enriched itself with new hues and shades.  The album songs, featuring backing vocals by Antonia Chiara Ciancaglini (The Mystic Morning) is proof the signature sound is still there.  Sometimes it’s psychedelia, sometimes it’s pop. To them, it’s all a game of change.

The results are a satisfying balance of old and new.  Vocalist Giuseppe Galotti’s signature varied styles continue on the new album;  whether he’s fluctuating from Lawrence from Felt or Tom Verlaine to Adam Franklin of Swervedriver.  Whatever personal change they’re experiencing, the urge to dance will never cease, a reminder of where In Her Eye is positioned in the dancey/not dancey spectrum of the Italogaze universe.  And yet songs crafted like “Closer to Me”,”Bianca” and to an extent “Change” can arguably testify to some of its changes with its driving but subdued rhythmic direction, ideas that highlighted some of Swerverdriver’s 2015 release “I Wasn’t Born to Lose You” allowing more of its dreamy jangly guitar ambience to emerge.  That said, though not as raw and lacking in ambience as some of their early releases, it still hasn’t lost that loving feeling with unhinged grandiosity as demonstrated by “Neon Lights” and “Demons” before culminating with “As In A Dream”, catchy with its crispy riffs and punchy beats as if they were dreaming of an Oxford band in the city of Milan.  The reflective sounding “Life” closes out the album, returning to those changes and it seems appropriate, both songs stating their case at the crossroads.  

While “Change” their first release since 2015s Borderline is dedicated to their personal evolving, its title can also reflect the response their influence is receiving especially in Italy.  Only a few years ago nobody would have associated shoegaze to Italy; yet today Italogaze – as it has been dubbed – starting from an underground word of mouth, has gained a solid international credibility; shoegaze lovers are enthusiastic about bands like Be Forest, Stella Diana, Clustersun, Rev Rev Rev, and happily discover other outfits that animate the scene.   Their dedication to reconditioning that sound in the last seven years has paid off.

Since 2015 the band has been involved in a handful of tribute compilations (The Cure, Ride, Wire), while composing songs for the new album.  In Her Eye’s album “Change” is available for release on June 1st (2018).   Beforehand, check out the single “Closer to Me” on their bandcamp page or the embedded link below.

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Blade of Grass new single “Looks So Good” reveals their subtle manifestation towards the eerie

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Los Angeles based Blade of Grass have laid claim as the makers of a dark psychedelic swirling sound since their beginnings in 2015.   When playing live, the members build off of each other in a continuously intensifying loop.   Josh Murphy’s vocals are unexpected auditory hallucinations that collide with Mike Hurst’s lysergic rush of guitar fueled by Amos Przkaza’s furious drumming.   Yet both of their EPs, Skydream (2015) and Eyes Like Diamonds (2016) seem to have struggled to convert that.  Sure the spacey dub like inspirations are there sometimes, hints of their trippy vibes can be heard on songs such as “Skydream” and “Things Fall Apart”; in addition “The Day Will Come” and “Light in My Eyes” are songs that can lead to jittery yet blissful haphazardness.   Still and maybe the staff is projecting, but we sense that a hit record in the horizon subsides their potential to catch their pure emotions – the live performances – in a jar.

Then again perhaps the 2016 EP Eyes Like Diamonds – with some of the stand out songs mentioned before – is the foundation away from the chase for the elusive, in that it has led to the new single “Looks So Good” (released April 20th) – as Blade of Grass reveals a glimpse of an even more eerie side. The song can be almost called a desert madness. The core forms long, dune like structures, the bass giving in from its ominous fascination to a groove with a faint surf rock vibe, almost commanding a ride for itself.  The electronics and vocals however are atmosphere forevermore, like a sandstorm, twirling and dancing ubiquitously. The tribal-esque drums mixed with the vocal echo finish recalls the heart of a desert madman who sees more than just the sand. With a more dub and lyric focused past, Blade of Grass’ new single “Looks So Good” almost seems like a natural progression, yet their experimental side really comes through in their other instrumentation.

In conclusion, the staff likes the new Blade of Grass single, specifically the direction towards the more use of experimentation the better.   And at times early Jane’s Addiction remnants are suggested throughout so there’s that.  The song is already in rotation on influential radio station’s KXLU Los Angeles and KCRW Santa Barbara.

Its their first release with independent Los Angeles and Washington DC based label Etxe Records.

 

UK noise-rock band Dose’s 7″ debut “Furniture” is worth the commotion

They are bringing you straight into their universe and on their terms. 

Debut single ‘Furniture’ by Newcastle, UK experimental noise-rock band Dose is due for release on vinyl on 27th April via cult indie label A Turntable Friend.

Their cinematic amalgamation of discordant melodies, intricate guitars and a strong rhythm– all blended together with an array of obscure effects and samples- has already earned them rave reviews on magazines such as DIY Magazine and The Line Of Best Fit.

 

And we at This is Chill # agree.  “Furniture” strikes like a portal to another dimension, with it’s looping, discordant guitar riffs leading the way.   Shattered choir voices apparently recall memories with atonal and whispered voices randomly uttered in between.  When its not warming up with sparring cadence,  jangling sounds and subtle ominous shrieks,  it blasts to levels worth testing the volumes, illuminating into the sky,  frantically casting its light over the dark footprints leftover in harmonious victory.

That is where the single really shines.  Layers and layers of spacey distortion and feedback are piled on top of each other like a MBV shoegaze marathon recording session.   To merely call it noise is to also ignore the coats of melancholic and sugary feedback washed over the others.  With “Furniture”, like its name Dose pushes the boundaries of its noise rock moniker, yet somehow keeps it together.   They are bringing you straight into their universe and on their terms.  Who are we to complain?

 

 

 

Machinedrum tour with Chrome Sparks and Ela Minus stops in Orlando – honors March for our Lives protesters

 

 

 

 

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On March 24th, the Machinedrum and Chrome Sparks tour made their stop at the Social in Orlando.   It was an early show.  Doors opened after 6pm and by the time i got there before 7pm, opening act Ela Minus was already on stage.  While she was setup amongst the later performances, i was impressed with the visuals of her keyboard setup.  On the side, it read “Brightmusic, Dark Times”.   Indeed.   I’d like to say her vocal stylings sometimes remind me of Bjork, driven by subtle, filtered down beats yet moving enough, with a cascade of synth sounds mixed with random noise that reminisce of days with a space age theme that is really more of a memory.   UPDATE: Live performance of her below.

 

During this show, Chrome Sparks actually went on second.  For all i know, this could be different in other cities but i didn’t ask.  This was the third time i’ve seen Chrome Sparks and i thought to myself this was unlikely – seeing Chrome Sparks three times, especially since 2016.  All three shows featured the Brooklyn based electronic musician touring as a duo with a drummer who doubled as producer also.  During Minus and Chrome Sparks performance, there was a covered table set up near the stage with guard rails protecting it.   Being familiar had its advantages, such as the transition to “Moonraker”.   Knew before the hard change.  They played some of the other well known songs too.  The crowd was enthusiastic and into it as was I.  During the performance, Jeremy Malvin gave props to the March for our Lives protesters who were out in Downtown Orlando that day.  Audience responded in kind.  UPDATE:  Live performance from Chrome Sparks.

After Chrome Sparks finished, it was revealed that the table protected by a guard rail on the floor was Machinedrum’s set up.  So the stage was taken out of the equation cutting the size in half.  This wasn’t bad and it provide a more intimate feel.  After some technical difficulties, Travis started performing.  For the limited time he had, he was able to mix in a good portion of his releases and didn’t seem like he was limited to new stuff.  Correct me if i’m wrong though.  He started off with his IDM and glitch stuff and worked in his new release later.  Remembering how i missed him play in Miami and Atlanta two or three years ago, its safe to say a check mark can now be placed.  Decent performance. At the end he was disappointed by the limited time allowed, especially since he’s lived in Orlando for a couple of years before relocating.

 

Chill #38 features some footage from this stop on the the tour and will be uploaded this week.

 

 

 

 

 

Moogfest 2017 – A collection of performances, discussions, installations and workshops

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Honestly when the Moogfest 2017 line up was announced i felt underwhelmed.  The line up wasn’t as interesting or rare when taken at face value.  Some of the headliners of this event scheduled between May 18th to May 21st have played in the Southeast US a couple of times over the last five years like Flying Lotus and Animal Collective.  I suppose that’s good if youre a big fan of theirs and in the case of Flying Lotus it was a welcome surprise to be around at the right time as i didn’t see him live at other sizable venues in the past.  I am also aware the Moog Festival likes to invite back those artists that played in the past.   Personally to me that’s great if they’re playing in a smaller venue, but not so good if they’re headlining the big stage but thats just me.  Of course Moogfest is more than just the performances.  Its the discussions, the installation booths and if youre higher than VIP participation in workshops.  Unfortunately  i ended up fighting the flu and as a result ended up not showing up to half of the performances and other events scheduled at Moogfest…and the biggest regret about that was missing the Saturday afternoon performances at the First Presbyterian Church.   I made it to see Colleen, but the line up before her was promising to say the least.

Another big disappointment was the weather.  Last year it was near perfect in the 70s. Look at the dates between May 18 to 22, 2016.  This year the humidity was no help as those were the only days in the month of May North Carolina hit the 90s.  What can you say?  Its coincidence it happened that way.

First off i wanted to start off by saying Zola Jesus on Friday evening May 19th performance was powerful.   Although she did play in Florida a couple of years and my opinion of her was lukewarm which is why i didn’t see her then, i penciled her in as one of the interests.  Read more about it here.

After Zola ended, made it over to my first Moogfest 2017 appearance at First Presbyterian Church for Circuit Des Yeux – a last minute substitution for Ry X who actually cancelled this leg of his tour for personal reasons.  Except for the fans who wanted to see him, this really was more than adequate a back up you can get.  Plus its apparently an easy choice since they were already touring with Animal Collective.   That said one can argue its a step down from an up and coming media celebrated artist to another thats supporting a band on a limited tour.  Personally the substitution intrigued me more.  I never really could connect with Ry X and besides the hype would’ve made access to the church uneasy.  It was already unpredictable entering the Church throughout the event anyways – another story together.   This was like substituting one artist who writes emotional music for the dilettante for another who might possibly be swayed to do the same a couple of years later.   Fortunately the substitute is still experimenting with emotions unfriendly to the household rather than selling their talent to the highest bidder.  Thats what i took away from the substitute and the performance lived up to that.

Listening to Visible Cloaks has always been a struggle for me.  Even adding them to my podcast (chill #24) to promote Moogfest i had a difficult time connecting with their brand of electronic music…at times PC sounds on steroids until i realize their ode to vaporwave…but they got to play in a church and much excitement was made by others.  Keep in mind my illness.  By about the middle of their show, listening to tracks like Neume and Terrazo in the First Presbyterian Church was satisfying enough.

Afterwards i walked over to Pinhook to catch a little bit of Silent Servant.  His minimal hard techno/industrial performance was solid, had good energy but nothing memorable.  I was out in 15 minutes headed for the Surf Club to see Baltra.

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Baltra at the Surf Club

During the anticipation for Moogfest 2017, one of the artists i became really interested in  was Baltra and his deep/lo-fi house set Friday night/early Saturday morning – well technically there was other performances happening but its where i ended up.   So interested in fact, it started an entire fascination in related lo-fi artists like DJ Boring and Ross From Friends and reading articles about whether underground house has finally run out of ideas.   While it didn’t utterly disappoint and switch up like Heathered Pearls did the year before, i can’t recall if he played any of his “hits” like “Never Let Go of Me” and “Fade Away”, plus his chilly and stoic set gave way to textbook DJ by the time closing time came around.

I will say one of the priorities i made to myself was to attend as much of the Durational Sound Installations as i can and i did despite how i felt.  Plus it was in the same building and right below the media room.  Moor Mother and Jas Shaw was part of the good line up.  Moor Mother didn’t divert from what i previewed about her in this article, but the performance that stood out was the droney collaboration of the Haxan Cloak with the hazy guitar sounds of  Hans Zinner.  At one point, you’re in a room where they were recreating Stars of the Lid recreating the Twin Peaks soundtrack.  If the Haxan Cloak didn’t live up to be a chilly performance to look forward to, it was memorable for other albeit equally good reasons.

Colleen on Saturday afternoon was a great show, but symbolic of the bittersweet experience i had at this years Moogfest due to illness.

As Saturday evening approached,  i was able to latch on to a couple of good performances.  As with the nature of a festival like this, even if i wasn’t ill a couple of artists were going to be missed. (Octo Octa, S U R V I V E, the performance of the Stranger Things soundtrack, Talib Kweli, David Graham and the nature of media during the Trump administration, Michael Stipe discussion, KING and the 808 State general performance from Thursday are good examples)

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Noveller at Pinhook courtesy of EricWaters_ericwatersphotography

Although Colleen ended hours ago, moving on to Noveller at the Pinhook was a slow transition and that was disappointing for me.  One of the better performances last year was from Grouper. Noveller which is similar in ways should have been no different.   Maybe Grouper had the cozy advantage of the Carolina Theater but regardless.   Towards the end the droney, drifting and echoing sounds won me over despite her issue with the tremolo from an earlier appearance, but the performance of Colleen beforehand combined with my illness were reasons it started off slow for me.  I would be open to seeing her again without all the distractions.

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Pharmakon credit – Caleb Smallwood at ig@calebbsmallwood

In previewing Pharmakon, i compared her energy to Japanese noise artist Masonna. Perhaps she’s a level below when it comes to matching mayhem, but her intensity couldn’t be denied during her 30 minute set.   She stormed around the Motorco Music Hall focused on whatever compelled her convictions.  Militant distorted drum beats and random sounds fluctuated from chaos to steady like a power electronics act from a Cold Meat Industry label.  She tested the audience that stood in her way, jumping from the stage, marching across the floor, emitting a bellowing rage, flipping the chord of her microphone like an endless cape.  The audience was not bothered by it.  There would be no fight with it.  They wanted to hear what she had to say, despite her voice buried in maddening distortion and fury, despite the chord’s incessant contact with whoever cared to be in proximity.

Flying Lotus was a last minute watch.  Pharmakon’s performance went less than 30 mins and by coincidence he was running late.  The last couple of times Flying Lotus played it was in bigger venues than what i believed was more appropriate.   I was thinking to myself is it because he collabed with Kendrick Lamar?  Has it been this way all this time?  The park was flooded from front to back as i witnessed from the VIP area above.  It was a far distance but better than dealing with the crowd like i did last year with Grimes and Odesza fans from Moogfest 2016.  I was expecting more of a power performance with singer/collaboraters commanding the stage.  Oddly it didnt happen as much.  I thought to myself are his followers comparable to Grateful Dead fans?  with music combed from hip hop to psychedelic and jazz influences modernized by electronic while flirting with radio accessible songs in between?  The verdict is out on this one.

The overall theme was my struggle to make it through the event because of illness.  There’s other interviews, installations and performances i checked but i either didn’t enjoy it or was in no mood to even try.     It hasn’t dampened my opinion of the concept and layout of Moogfest though.  To me its more than a festival set up in the middle of nowhere.  Here’s to many more of them in the future.  Oh yeah did i tell you that Hannibal Buress interviewed Syrinx and Animal Collective?  I didnt watch the whole discussion but whatever i caught was fun. #moogfest2017