Dysgeusia 28: Ambient Soundscapes and American Politics

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Uneven Structure (Credit: Artists Facebook page)

Dysgeusia returns with Getintothis Mark Davies exploring this month’s latest in ambience, dissonance and political affairs

And we’re back.

A bit of a quiet one this time around, not a great deal to report news-wise, it seems as though all the big bands got their album announcements out at the turn of the new year, so we’re in a bit of a slump. Fear not however, dear Dysgeusians, because there are still some tasty morsels left on the plate that we’re going to dig into soon enough.

Cast your minds back to 2011, during the height of this current wave of progressive metal (irritatingly) known as ‘djent’, spearheaded by the likes of Periphery, TesseracT and Monuments, a fairly unknown French band dropped one of the most superb slabs of ambient progressiveness to have graced our ears. That band was Uneven Structure, a six-piece monolith of a group, with their debut album Februus.

As is common in the scene (or at least it was back in ’11), the band has three guitarists which it uses to the fullest of effects, with layers of luscious e-bowed ambience reminiscent of how we think it might sound gliding through a nebula, rushing beneath sections of staccato’d polyrhythmic 8-string guitar riffs. Dissonance cast against a backdrop of unparalleled beauty. It was a concept album like no other, with wonderful art to boot, the thing is so enduring in fact, that it hasn’t really left rotation since it came out.

The band then did their tours and festival performances, a couple of years went by and they announced they were working on a follow-up sophomore album entitled La Partition, and that we should expect it soon. Then a couple more years went by, and things were beginning to look a bit grim.

With no news, and a few sparse live performances, it looked as though the band had lost any momentum they had had, and that they might not even be able to deliver the much anticipated sequel to Februus.

Boy, we were dead wrong, because just weeks ago the band unleashed a massive multi-faceted announcement upon our unsuspecting selves. The band were not only moving to a new music label from their debut album, from Basick Records to Long Branch, but that pre-orders for La Partition were available along with a glorious new track Incube with its own music video. New pants please.

Uneven StructureIncube (Long Branch Records)

 

Incube is a wonderful slice of what we know is going to be another conceptual masterpiece. The band have really refined their sound over those years, the riffs flow with intent and fluidity like the course of a river, as the vocals lilt in and out of focus, the percussion is as punchy as ever without being overbearing and those layers are as spectacular as ever. As with any concept album, we are just hearing a section, and as such it may sound a little strange as a stand-alone piece, but as part of a greater whole we know it’s going to constitute something greater than the sum of its’ parts. Expect La Partition on April 21.

Crossovers are a peculiar thing, and often very hit and miss.

Some are utterly terrible *cough Babymetal cough*, and some are just downright odd, like the 2014 album Soused which the indomitable Scott Walker did with drone legends Sunn O))).

Then, there are those that really do work, and we can think of no two opposing genres that work as well together as electronic music and metal. This is where Italian artist MASTER BOOT RECORD comes in. The artist’s identity is unknown, we know only that they are based in Rome, and that they communicate almost exclusively in computer code. That, and they are responsible for creating some of the heaviest electronic music in existence.

The fusion of metal and electro isn’t a new phenomenon by any means, French band The Algorithm have been doing it since the late 2000’s, and then there’s the entire industrial metal angle to look at. None have, in our opinion, managed to create music that sounds so inherently aggressive as what MBR is doing however, and in metal, that’s arguably what counts for a lot.

MASTER BOOT RECORDCLS.NFO (Self-released)

 

The track featured here is taken from their 5th release, only just put out via Bandcamp on  March 7, C:\>COPY *.* A: /V, and is a fine example of the grinding synths and robotic drumming MASTER BOOT RECORD are putting out into the world. Raise those robot horns in the air for electro-satan.

March brought great tidings for thrash fans too in the form of a new Havok album, as a follow up to their iconic 2013 effort Unnatural Selection, Conformicide was just released via Century Media Records for your expectant ears. The band, hailing from Denver, Colorado in the US, have been stalwarts in the new wave of thrash metal scene, with each album being as solid and catchy as the next, and Conformicide is yet another fine addition to their discography.

As with most thrash, politics and world affairs tend to weigh very heavily on the music’s lyrical content, with mentions of climate change affecting the global consciousness, corruption in the political world, and the prison of capitalism. Track titles such as Hang ’em High, Peace Is In Pieces, and Dogmaniacal should give away their views on a whole host of topics, all bound together with vocalist David Sanchez‘s signature high-pitched rasp, the galloping guitar riffs and insanely funky bass tone.

Havok Intention To Decieve (Century Media Records)

 

Intention To Decieve begins with a mock news-reporter announcing “and in the news today we cover trivial stories to distract you from what’s really going on, here’s what we want you to think”, which could not be any clearer in it’s pointedness towards the current political climate, particularly in the US. The track has a fairly long and almost self-indulgent intro considering thrash is known for it’s speed, but the guitar tones are crisp and that slap bass works wonders for them. Havok go from strength to strength, and Conformicide could be their most concise effort to date, check it out.

Metal, metal and more metal – check out the storied history of Dysgeusia here

We’ve spoken here before about the newer wave of instrumental guitar-based music, the Satriani and Vai for the new generation. Artists like Animals as Leaders and one of our Top-ten picks from 2016, Plini, are both pushing sonic boundaries in wonderfully melodic ways. Another name that should be cropping up alongside these artists is a young Serbian player, composer, and producer called David Maxim Micic, whose stunning body of work is some of the most eclectically mesmerising out there in the genre.

Having only released EPs for the majority of his solo career, Who Bit The Moon marks his debut into full-length territory, and what a ride!

The album is a trek across various reverb-dipped sonic landscapes, some wonderful orchestral pieces, tied together by Micic‘s buttery lead guitar and aggressive rhythm sections. There’s even room for some spoken word samples which you’ll find dotted around, but never intrusively so, his music is all about giving the instrumentation room to breathe, so it never feels cluttered. Much like Deftones‘ Stef Carpenter in many ways, Micic always knows the right amount of notes to use in order to evoke a certain feeling, and more often than not, less is more.

David Maxim MicicSomeone Else’s Hat (Self-released)

 

The featured track is a wonderful example of this concept, showcasing the various elements bound into the music, and the man has a lead guitar tone that would make even the greats envious. We reckon you’ll catch this guy doing some even greater things in a few years time, and he’d be more than deserving of everything that comes his way.

Another band we haven’t heard from in a little while are Boston’s post-metallers Junius, who seemed to have gone very quiet since they put out their Days of the Fallen Sun EP back in 2014. It turns out the band had a bit of a rough time, with half of the band’s members moving on to other projects leaving only the band’s founder Joseph E. Martinez to continue alone. Working alone, Martinez wrote and performed the band’s latest effort, the trilogy-capping Eternal Rituals for the Accretion of Light, which was just released via Prosthetic on 3 March 2017.

JuniusClean The Beast (Prosthetic Records)

 

And what a hulking mammoth of an album it is too. Majestic vocals, sung in what can only be described stylistically as being “very 80s” soar above distorted post-metal riffs and explosions of colour. The cleans make way for screams, augmenting the aggression inherent in the albums lyrical content, which, as has become a theme today, is critical of the state of the world, and humanity’s need to take and take, giving nothing back to the planet we feed from.

Our featured track is the very personification of this concept, the music video itself showcasing the horrors that we are both capable of and are subjected to. We aren’t sure what is in store for Junius‘ future, but if this is what Martinez can produce by himself we’d say it isn’t long before they hit the road to tour the hell out of this thing.

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