And here’s the second set of five bands I only came across due to picking up any free bandcamp codes I saw on Twitter. I didn’t check the genre before listening, and wrote these short reviews as I was listening or immediately after. Some of them, therefore, are a bit of a step out of my musical comfort zone, so apologies if the terms I use and my references are a bit skew-whiff.
Luckily, everything was pretty good 😉
DA4 by Dead Amps
It’s in the nature of an exercise like this, that you expect much of what you hear to be a bit average – after all, you get very little for nothing these days. So it’s been a pleasant surprise just how good everything I’ve listened to so far has been – at the very least listenable and often much better than that. Now and again, though, if you’re lucky, you come across something which is excellent in every respect; this is one such album.
Dream pop meets space rock, with echoes of everything from Ladytron to Galaxie 500, bursts of shoegaze and post-rock guitar, moments of art rock archness – it’s got it all. This is a band whose back catalogue I need to visit very soon.
Tokyo Story by Disco Sam
A single track of bass heavy IDM vaporware by a classically trained pianist and violinist (though there’s not much piano or violin on this!). Played loud through a set of club speakers rather than through the ones attached to my iMac, I can imagine this filling the dancefloor.
Chronic Lullabies by Take Me There
The album is tagged as ambient and dreamy, and the influence of acts like Stars of the Lid (and especially this wonderful album) is undeniable, but for me the best moments on this are those when the guitar takes over and everything goes nicely post-rock. It’s an album about living with chronic pain, so don’t expect a laugh fest, but also don’t be put off by the Spoken Word tag; the vocals are heavily distorted and lie underneath the instruments, acting as another layer of sound. This is one for the headphones and the lights off. Effective, impactful and heavy – that’s how I’d tag it.
Magna by Europaweite Aussichten
It starts like the sound of a wonky, warped VHS tape recording of the theme tune to a children’s series from the early 70s – Bagpuss, or something like that. That only lasts a few moments, but even accidental Bagpussery is guaranteed to take me well disposed to any record, and when this opens out into chirpy, upbeat electronica, I’m definitely on board. Apparently, this album was composed quickly, but there’s no sign of that, and it you’re looking for something chilled in an Eno ambient style, you could do worse than give this a spin.
rose quartz by Hackosef
As this started, I was immediately thinking of the Windham Hill and ECM labels – soft, mellow jazzy sounds with brushed drums, unobtrusive sax and a wordless vocal. But there’s actually more to this than just that (not that either of those labels are dull or sub-standard, I should add!). There’s a funkiness that takes over at times and, at others, an experimentalism, as muddy lo-fi instruments warp and bend, or tracks suddenly end without warning. One of the comments on the Bandcamp pages says that it’s the kind of thing that, when you’re done listening, you couldn’t pinpoint any particular piece of music, but you know you’ve experienced something otherworldly. I’m not sure either part of that is exactly true, but it is maybe more gorgeously mellow subconscious listening along the lines of Eno’s genuine ambient than something to which you’d sit down and give your full attention.
Apparently (according to a gif I saw on Facebook, to be fair) buying one album on Bandcamp is equivalent to 3 years of streaming revenue on Spotify for smaller bands – even if that’s not true, give these bands a listen and if you like any of them, consider buying something. It’s possibly the last Bandcamp Friday, and all revenue goes to the bands today.