Saturday, 17 September 2011

Rocket Recordings

Now here's a cracking label that I've received some promotional discs from over the last few months and who are absolutely deserving of having received a much prompter follow-up on this blog, since all of their releases are in their various ways, highly interesting to visitors and followers here. (At this point, a big shout out and hello to new readers – the traffic here has leapt up since the coverage of Leave No Star Unturned and Parallel Universe, and of the Steven Wilson playback actually, so hope you like the other stuff being covered here and will now have this blog in your RSS feed or are popping by regularly. It's great to have so many hits!).

Here we go. Annapurna IllusionLife Is An Illusion. Ah, well, this is less of a rocket recording, more of an engine on tick over. Repetitively hypnotic sounds and effects – very Tangerine Dream – reverberate and intone across the six tracks here. What it is, it's a melodic drone, oppressive and closed in on itself but still aurally permeable and approachable. It works on a shamanistic level, calling out an uneasy hymn to its Kosmische Krautrock forefathers. The accompanying press invokes "the highs of the Nepalese mountains ... the spirits of the dead ... their mantra's chant atop mossy ruined temples..." And it is that, in a way; a meditative or trace-like summons of those who've come before. As much as I hear someone hunched in concentration over a synthesiser or studiously and studiedly twisting electric guitar notes I also want to visualise the religious intensity of a Buddhist Monk in a meditative fervour, so that it both lifts you out of your surroundings and at the same time compels you into its absorption. It's an intriguing record indeed.

Oneida / Mugstar: Collisions 02. This, as the title suggests, is the second in a series of what I guess would have been double A-side 12" releases back in the day. Mugstar need absolutely no introduction here, as I've previously covered their Lime album and their involvement in the Hawkwind tribute collection In Search Of Hawkwind and, indeed, I've an earlier Mugstar album here that I also need to cover in a future posting. Here they've a nigh-on seventeen minute extravaganza, 'European Nihilism' which has a dark 'Angels of Death' undercurrent to it, certainly in the ominous, repressive, marching of its guitars and bass line against its punctuated drums and synths. This track is immense in its soundscape, really very powerful stuff, but it's not simply as dark as its first sections, or indeed its title, suggest, since the final third of the piece turns the theme on its head. It still has the robust, heavy, undertones but across the top we have some vocal intoning and instrumentation that reveals chinks of light, like the sun breaking through a storm cloud sky.

It's a game of two halves though, as well as having that double-sided concept to it and being from both sides of the pond with Mugstar coming out of Liverpool and their fellow contributors hailing from New York, because Oneida's 'Shahin's Bong', despite being similarly epic in its length and construction, didn't appeal nearly as much as Mugstar's track. It's a gratingly industrial discordance – could we say it's rather Einst├╝rzende Neubauten in its approach –a free-form cacophony that, for me, is just too experimental, too jarring ... just too much, really. 'Shahin's Bong' is all demolition sites and metal on metal, vibrations and buzzing, a real mesh of sounds and textures that I guess is quite cleverly put together. It just didn't work for me.

Those are imminent releases; the other Rocket Recordings promo that I've got here is one that I've had for a while and which was released, LP and download, back in June is one that's been receiving some very good notices elsewhere: Gnod's InGnodWeTrust. This one then doesn't have a track list as much as it has an Order of Service; it's two elongated tracks, 'Tony's First Communion' and 'Vatican', clocking in at twenty and thirteen minutes respectively. Visually it is provocative stuff; its cover seemingly representing a faceless Pope presiding over social breakdown and chaos. Aurally it reflects the darkness of those images, not with violent sounds but with introverted machinations, the single notes and beats of 'Tony's First Communion' repeating themselves with drone-like foreboding and drumbeats that almost call for the bringing out of the condemned and the fuzz-infused buzzing of 'Vatican' playing similar themes while playing with a screaming, hell-bound, rearrangement of Church organs. It's an extremely disorientating and disconsolate reconceptualising of religious tones, twisting and turning them into something malignant and malevolent. It works, but it's the most incredibly uncomfortable listening experience I've had for a very long time... but it works.


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