Wednesday, 9 February 2011

The Ciem Show - Lifelike Scenes

It sure has been a while since I've listened to metal. Aside from the usual death metal/grind peppered into my playlist, I barely listen to any "real" metal. Enter The Ciem Show.

Let's dive into the basics first. The Ciem Show are a progressive/experimental metal band (with hints of doom) based in New Jersey. I met one of the members (Chris) at the Boris/Torche/Russian Circles show in Brooklyn and he was nice enough to hook me up with Lifelike Scenes, The Ciem Show's debut full-length.

Right off the bat, without even listening to the music, you can tell that these guys have put a lot of work into this album. After checking out the extensive (and I mean extensive) artwork that came with the album, I just couldn't wait to put this on my iPod and listen to it. And I'm glad I did.

The album starts off with the sound of a projector. Very fitting, seeing as how the album is called Lifelike Scenes, but that would be taking it too literally. My personal interpretation is that the projector at the start symbolises some kind of...fuck, I'm really trying to avoid the term "dream theater" here but I can't help it, it fits perfectly! The entire album, lyrically at least, seems to me to be based in a "dream world". I checked out the booklet several times because I was so intrigued by the lyrics, which evoked themes of dreams, consciousness, the abstract et al. Very nice.

Musically, this album is solid. There are some excellent riffs in here, and are thankfully not your typical prog/experimental wankery. There are even a couple of excellent solos (the one in "Theme for Lost Children" comes to mind). The drumming does its job, but doesn't detract from the appeal of the album. It's very clear that the drums are not intended to be the focal point of this opus. If I had to pick, I would say the guitars do most of the work here, but it's a joint effort along with the keys. The keys, instead of sounding cheesy, actually create a very gloomy, surreal atmosphere (much like the atmosphere in my dreams). Cool beans. If any of you have keen ears, you will be able to pick out the myriad of other, slightly unconventional instruments on this record.

A guilty pleasure of mine (not really guilty but whatever) is to define a certain band on a scale that consists not of numbers but of other bands. For instance, The Ciem Show's Lifelike Scenes has elements that remind me a LOT of Devin Townsend's side-projects (Ocean Machine and the like) and maybe a little bit of Meshuggah. The Devin Townsend reference leads me on to my final point of this blog-post: the vocals.

Okay, so I'm very, very, VERY picky when it comes to vocals and, unfortunately, the vocals on Lifelike Scenes got a mixed reaction from me. At times they fit the mood perfectly and I was really feeling them, at other times they reminded me of Devin Townsend, which was cool but a lot of the time I just wasn't feeling them. Maybe that's just me but clean vocals in metal is a bit of an issue with me. I usually don't dig them and more often than not, they make or break the record for me. Luckily, in this case, I was so impressed by this seemingly amateur effort that ended up sounding incredibly professional to me, that I didn't really care about the vocals. The music did it for me and, I know I may be contradicting myself here, the lyrics are just too awesome. Can't one enjoy the lyrics without actually enjoying the vocals? I don't know, don't judge!

Download link beeeeeloooooow.

Some extra information on The Ciem Show:

They are currently lacking a drummer so if any of you are in the NJ area and know of a drummer who is into stuff like this, you should ask them to contact these guys anywhere on the following pages.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Swans- The Great Annihilator

This record seems to be hated by many and most Swans fans, probably because it pretty much marked the beginning of a gradual replacement, or a "deconstruction" and perhaps a "dilution", according to said fans, of the slow, heavy, at times brutally physical sound that typifies the early Swans sound.

Nevertheless, to me, with my limited knowledge of the Swans catalogue and my untrained ear, it seems that both Jarboe and Gira are more than capable of conveying, at times even evoking, deep, dark, complex and multi-layered emotions as with heavy use of samples and effects and as through the use of a simple, acoustic guitar. The sound may have changed, but the affects are very much still present, if not intensified.


Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Bassnectar - Wildstyle EP [2010]

Most people who know me know that I don't listen to electronic music much, if at all. This includes house, techno, trance and the rest of the usual club bullshit. If I hear some of it in a club/bar, it's a different story but I never really bought/downloaded any of it so I could play it on my iPod or whatever. As of late, however, my interest has been piqued by "dubstep" and pretty much everything related to it (S/O to all the good people BassFace UAE and some friends who keep me swamped with all the good stuff). As with most trends, I missed the boat on this one and actually started listening to dubstep only in the past 2 months or so. And Bassnectar might not even be considered "dubstep"; I'm that much of a noob.

I copped this EP after listening to a track called "Underwater" which caught my attention and was a pleasant surprise. I found myself playing the song over and over again, unable to get tired of the harmony between the surreal/angelic sounding vocals and the sheer power of the bass, made that much more intense by my Beats headphones (product placement kekek). Needless to say, I was hooked and simply had to get the Wildstyle EP.

The rest of the EP is actually pretty good. Notable songs include "Hot Right Now" (which is actually a remix of an Amp Live song of the same name), "Wildstyle Method", "The 808 Track", "Falling" and "Underwater". I've actually just named 5 of the 7 tracks on this EP so that should tell you something.

Content-wise, Wildstyle is something to be played in your car, at a house party or even at home . The interesting thing is none of these things are mutually exclusive in this case, but with a lot of other music they tend to be. This is very casual listening for the casual electronic/dubstep fan and I'm glad I indulged.

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