Monday, July 30, 2018

Ethan Gold releases LP

Ethan Gold releases LP
With a cutting synthesized glare, Ethan Gold draws us into his enigmatic web of duality in Expanses (Teenage Synthstrumentals), a thirteen track collection of post-punk inspired ambient noise music that pushes sonic limits to their very brink to harness the sheer raw power of tonality. Though it doesn’t read as a concept piece, there is an anti-melodic cohesiveness that binds each track together to create a symphonic wall of sound that is as unforgiving as it is unrelenting. While this style of music is typically reserved for only the most refined of audiological palates, Expanses is nevertheless a record that even the most casual of noise enthusiasts should have no trouble connecting with and appreciating with a zealous fervor.
Following the brief into, “In Open Air At Last” grinds out the first bellowing howls of synth brutality with a delicate grandeur similar to watching a fire slowly ignite amongst burning embers. It’s the heaviest of salutations, but it’s only a taste of what Ethan Gold is capable of yielding when left to his own devices. The ominous “Departure” takes shape out of a shimmering haze, while the strutting “Concrete Sweat” defiantly adds a bit of drum machine inspired funk to the first half of Expanses. Trying to predict what lies behind every twist and turn of the album proves futile as we get lost in its eclectic structures and intricately arranged harmonies.
The contrast between the brooding synth triplets “Aqua Petal,” “Corrosion,” and the haunting “Lizards Enter the Rain Forest” would be far too complicated for anyone but Gold to have pulled off in a single space, but their inclusion together in such perfect succession just further displays how calculatedly brilliant this composer really is when he gets into the studio. Longtime fans of Gold’s work will notice his trademark reflective, almost atmospheric accent attached to every track, yet there is a decidedly different, almost neo-psychedelic flavor to Expanses than any of his previous work (the space age “On the North Sea” is an excellent example). It doesn’t compromise or interfere with the ambience though; every mesmerizing moment of Expanses is unblemished and untainted by external influences, and frankly, it’s nothing short of immaculate.
As someone who has spent most of his life in love with avant-garde music and the frequently misunderstood artists who make it, I feel a certain level of kinship with Ethan Gold. His work, and the great efforts he’s made to bring it to fruition, deserve a lifetime’s worth of praise and acclaim for their impossibly virtuosic competences, and it’s unfortunate that until now, the bulk of the mainstream music media had been skittish to embrace his eclectic, and at times abrasive, approach to pop. Expanses (Teenage Synthstrumentals) could be the album to finally garner him the widespread attention that he’s worked so hard for, and personally I couldn’t be more supportive of the notion. If you’re looking for new music that lives and breathes left of the dial, I highly recommend giving this instrumental set a listen.
Joshua Beach

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

The Merrymaker’s Orchestrina - Act 3

The Merrymaker’s Orchestrina - Act 3

Albums with this sort of charged, highly vivid musical creativity don’t often emerge from the modern popular music scene. New York City based singer/songwriter Ryan Shivdasani’s boundless musical imagination brings a number of different styles into play over the course of the band’s full length release Act 3. The thirteen song collection, produced by Russ Flynn and released in April of 2018, manifests a stronger personality through its songs than many performers/writers manage over the course of three albums and his accompaniment on the album, drummer Danny Wolf and bassist Jack Redford on ten of the album’s tracks, are extraordinarily sympathetic to aiding Shivdasani realize his imaginative vision for Act 3. He’s since recruited likewise fitting musicians for the band’s live lineup, but there’s undeniable chemistry between Shivdasani and his core collaborators on the studio recording.

The fleet-footed pace of opener “Together” clocks in at just over a minute and comes off sounding like a diamond hard blast of alternative rock. Redford’s busy, yet precise, bass line has a descending quality that maintains its timing despite the brisk tempo. One of the album’s early marquee numbers is “Particle Craze”, complete with accompanying video, and the slightly dissonant melodicism, uneasy yet crackling with energy, recalls alternative rock textures with an unexpected infusion of electrified folk guitar jangle suggested in the playing. The lyrics are spartan and cut to the bone without even a single extraneous syllable compromising the writing and Shivdasani’s vocal delivery accentuates the slightly topsy, idiosyncratic mood of the song.

The same melancholy spirit informs the album’s third track “Watched You Out My Window” – it is, perhaps, the most literary lyric included on Act 3 and comes off as a bit of a cross between thoughtful alt pop with a retro feel and folk-influenced singer/songwriter material. “Cowboys and Indians” breezes along with deceptively aggressive energy and has the same sinewy line of musical attack we heard with the album opener. Michael Feinburg’s contributions on bass are, thankfully, seamlessly indistinguishable from Redford’s and he generates tremendous energy with drummer Danny Wolf. The ominous undertow of the track “Enemy” makes it one of the darker cuts included on Act 3 with the low rumble of its main guitar motif and how Shivdasani’s voice dovetails into the sound without a hiccup.

Shivdasani’s skill invoking angst and alienation comes clearly through with the song “In This World, Not Of It” and he invests even more passion than usual into a finely crafted lyric supported by another stellar ensemble performance. Shivdasani has the chops to distinguish himself individually with each of these tracks but refrains to do and prefers to focus his efforts on serving each song rather than hogging some transient moment of instrumental glory. The acoustic strains of “Fade Into the Night” help the song achieve its woozy, one in the morning feel without ever obscuring the inherent melodic qualities of this song. The final gem on Act 3, “Blood Country”, revisits that same art rock thrust defining the album’s best songs like “Together”, “Enemy”, and “Cowboys and Indians” with lightly poeticized social commentary laid over the top. Shivdasani’s creativity is in full bloom for this release Act 3 gives him an impressive foundation to build on from here.

Joshua Beach

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Lauria releases new single

Lauria releases new single

What do Leonard Cohen, Gino Vannelli, Celine Dion, Corey Hart, Chilly Gonzales, Rufus Wainwright and Terri Clark all have in common? Besides making their mark in music around the globe, they all hail from regal Montreal, Quebec. You can now add another name onto your radar of Montreal’s musical standouts: Florie-Laure “Lauria” Zadigue DubĂ©. Her debut single, “Losing Me” is a genre-defying ballad.

Lauria is a college student studying at Concordia University. Between her hectic studies she found time to record “Losing Me.” The overall production is crisp. What I loved about the music bed, I also sort of felt a little disappointed. It sounded very electronic and manufactured. But, after a few listens, I got over that. You can tell her artistry is looking ahead and she’s carving out her own path. I felt like this tune had a modern flare. While she certainly doesn’t have the range of her fellow countrywoman, Celine Dion, Lauria’s true talents may lie in her ability to transport her listeners to a dream pop soundscape. “Losing Me” is both hypnotic and exotic.

The lyrics “I don’t give a damn what people think about me / I don’t wanna live the life they want me to live” tiptoe along Lauria’s brooding, yet hopeful voice. She comes across as bashful. But, by the end of the song and especially during the chorus her reach and confident blossoms. It’s as if the crown has been placed atop her head.

The magic seems to happen about halfway through “Losing Me.” I liked the feisty use of “my heart is light as you walk away” and the humorous “this shit is crazy.” As a listener, I found myself in Lauria’s shoes, shaking my head the same way…we’ve been there! She doesn’t patronize like Katy Perry’s “Roar.” She keeps the listener in check and relates to the listener. I could imagine these lyrics in a journal. Is this Lauria’s healing song?

While your toes might not be tapping as much as your head moves to the groove, the underlying bass and overdubs are mysterious and unique. I didn’t feel like this song organically came about from an acoustic guitar, but it’s origins might have arose from the piano. There’s a softness to it, and you feel at times like Lauria’s vocals are isolating among the ambient undertone.

“Losing Me” has this filter feel – as if it were an Instagram photo with the Clarendon filter. Her chorus is the light. With so much hustle and chaos, it’s nice to sit down to a song and really listen. “Losing Me” cuts through the noise, the stress and delivers. It’s a pretty chill song. Yet, it percolates at the right times. The backbeat bubbles just slightly, like the thought process before breaking up with someone. You might feel like crying listening to Lauria, but by the end of the song, you’re cheering for her.

Overall, “Losing Me” is a standout song. I really dug the vibe and Lauria’s voice. Fans of Natalie Imbruglia, Nelly Furtado, Christina Perri and Tove Lo might take note of Lauria and her upcoming work.

Lori Reynolds

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Edenn “Thinking”

Edenn “Thinking”

The ocean of creative and social differences between the world of the established music industry and that of the left-field, independent underground hasn’t been as vast and in-depth prior to 2018, and that’s saying something if you can recall the turmoil and lackluster derision between the punks and the hair metal crowd back in the 1980’s in the United States. Now when I listen to someone like Edenn, an R&B/indie soul-pop artist based out of France, I can’t help but notice all of the nuances and micro sized flashes of exceptional grace without feeling resentful towards the figures in this business that are seeking to keep him off the airwaves.

No, this isn’t a conspiracy theory. Anyone who knows anything about the business side of western entertainment knows that there’s a corporate interest to have their say, and if you fall outside the lines of subordination, they’re not going to push you. You’re on your own. This happened in my career, I’ve seen it happen in ten thousand others just as well. Edenn is an artist who is committed more to his work than he is to the A&R man’s master plan for world domination, and you can tell as much when you listen to his track “Thinking” which is out now and kicking up quite a storm on Spotify. It’s a non-genre piece that works itself out like a teaser to a larger full-length album that’s possibly on its way to making delivery in the near future, but it’s also strong enough to be a one-off for this burgeoning young performer who already has a journalism career that’s going places just as fast. In a minor key descent that feels like a tumbling from the heavens onto the cold hard pavement of a grungy city below, “Thinking” takes a little time to get the engine revved up when it first commences play, but around the time that the first stanza of verses wraps up, it becomes pretty obvious that we’re climbing back up into the clouds and abandoning any notion of anti-realism in both the musical and lyrical approaches employed on this song.

Production wise I still have a few desires that aren’t satisfied completely in “Thinking,” chief among them the overabundance of echoing reverb on this track that makes it difficult for me to get into the opulence of Edenn’s amazing, evocative singing. It’s a shame, because I think that this man easily could possess one of the most melodic and unblemished set of vocal cords that I’ve heard since first listening to Usher in the late 1990’s. He’s just so… good. This man knows how to harmonize with himself to the point where a backing track almost seems a bit redundant in itself. I want to hear all of the little gradations and degrees within his range of ability, because “Thinking” shows me that he’s got the moves to do this for a long time to come. In his next track, I have a good feeling that we’ll see for sure just how big of a deal Edenn is really going to be, and if not, it would be rather sad for the future of R&B as we know it.

Thomas Patton III