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Review: Oppressed By The Line – Kiku (Drifting Falling)

May 12, 2009

Oppressed By The Line - KikuBeyond running Drifting Falling Records, Jonathan Thompson – who records under the moniker Oppressed by the Lineis a prolific artist too. It’s been less than a year since he delivered Soft Focus and now returns with a set of new songs that comprise his third album Kiku”. And there is no doubt that this release is Thompson’s most uplifting and heart – warming work to date.

As I read in the press release Thompson inspired Kiku by lovely sunsets, mountainous landscapes and city lights while on holiday in Japan. His experience in the Land of the Rising Sun is depicted in the opener Mountain Mist where a subtle Taiko drum beat and colorful xylophone ringings give way to warm organic melodies and glitchy sound effects. Sunset from the 16th Floor is a two minute instrumental piece of blissed-out ambience that nicely unrolls the carpet for the pop gem that is Paper Cranes. Displaying a nostalgic summery feeling Paper Cranes shines and sparkles with its joyful harmonies and a catchy chorus before ending up into a haze of swirling guitars. Imagine Field Mice meeting My Bloody Valentine, this track is dangerously infectious. Elsewhere Thompson’s echoed vocals add a spacey feel to the Shoegaze- laden synths of One Thousand Red Stars while the up tempo beats and textured electronic noises of Shinkansen find him venturing into dance territory.

Kiku also features two remixes by Taro Kawasaki and Winterlight. On Mountain Mist the Japanese composer abandons the minimal aesthetic of his debut ep for a lusher and playful orchestration while on Sunset from the 16th Floor, Tim Ingham (Winterlight) sticks to what he knows best: Creating aural dreamscapes that evoke a feeling of escapism.

By titillating both your ear and imagination Kiku calls you for repeated listening. Especially, for those who prefer music to be the equivalent of a green field full of poppies against a vivid blue sky where kids are cheerfully laughing and jumping this is a record they will fall in love with.

8,5/10

the greek version of the article is availiable here.

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Interviews: Engineers

May 4, 2009

I don’t want to start harping on about but I feel that if you are making or releasing genuinely exciting and moving music then you will find a way to survive in the industry

Engineers

Engineers

It’s been quite a long since we last heard from Engineers. Having capitalized their well received debut with a string of successful tour dates and festival appearances the band’s follow up was one step away from reaching wider audiences. But things took a different turn. Almost two years after, the band’s  sophomore album under the title  ”Three Fact Fader” will see the light through Kscope. In view of this release Stereoworld.gr caught up with Mark Peters of Engineers fame to talk about the past, present and future of Manchester’s finest band.

It’s four years since Engineers released their self titled debut album and finally the follow up ‘’Three Fact Fader’’ will hit the stores on 6th of July. I guess, all this period, you felt like a caged lion, did you?

Yes, we all have had a feeling of anti – climax that only now feels like it will be resolved. Although we were critically applauded, after touring the first album and putting in some great festival appearances in 2005/06 we felt that the band would take off once the new album came out. It’s no secret that Echo changed the way it worked with artists and we were lucky that we could make the 2nd album the way we wanted to, but when the time came for release, the label didn’t have available funding to give the record the promotion that they and we thought it deserved. Other labels offered to release the album but we felt that we should have a break, and wait for a time that felt right for putting the album out.

Your previous album was praised both by press and public. Does this release mark the beginning of a new era for Engineers?

To be completely honest, the public’s support is what has made it so important to get the album released. We seem to appeal to people in a really deep way – people tell us that our music has helped us through intense times in their lives and even grief in some cases. This has a huge resonance and means much more than the peripheral aspects of releasing records. It means that your ideas have a much more universal impact than merely a catchy tune on the radio, and you’re not just taking part in some crude popularity contest. So yes, this is something of a new era for us, and we can guarantee that we will only partake in events that we feel won’t tarnish what we and many others feel is special music.

After such a long absence do you feel you have something to prove to those who turned their back to Engineers due to your silence?

I don’t feel like anyone has turned their back on us. We have had a regular influx of messages telling us how much our songs mean to people, and how much they would love to see us play live, having picked up the 1st album quite a bit of time after it was released. This tells us that our music transcends trends, genres and scenes, and all that we want to do is have more people experience the shows that gave a very wide reaching and varied number of people such a special feeling the first time around. All we want to show is that we are together, playing live and enjoying it.

Three Fact Fader draws from a variety of influences including Indie – Rock (Sometimes I realize), and Shoegaze (Three Fact Fader, Brighter as We Fall). Either way the elements that characterize Engineers song structure and sound manipulation remain intact. Since it was recorded two years ago does it reflect the current ideas of Engineers or if you had to enter the studio now you would have come up with something totally different?

The bulk of the album was recorded two years ago as you say, but we felt the mastering wasn’t quite right and that two more tracks that for one reason and another didn’t get finished should be included on the album. We completed ‘Be what you are’ and ‘What pushed us together’ recently and even though we have never stopped creating music, (many things that have been written over the last few years will no doubt see the light of day at some point) we felt a massive rush from working on these tracks and ultimately knowing that the album would finally be presented as we wanted it to be has given us a new lease of life. I think your point about song structure and sound manipulation is the key to what makes the band what it is. Our collective tastes encompass an enormous amount of music, so to pander to the confines of a scene seems really limiting, and we would never want to be so exclusive as to not have memorable melodies and lyrics that you can relate to, but at the same time we love creating a sonic backdrop that is instantly captivating. We don’t consider ourselves as anything other than normal people, so we feel we are the best judges of the quality of our music, given that we are essentially the same as our fans. I do feel the next music we release will be markedly different though, but how, i can’t say at this point.

In an environment that majors severe ties with many artists, Independent labels are more vulnerable to drop of sales and illicit download. This decline in music industry initially forced your previous label to restructure the business and cut down most of the roster. Could you describe your feelings after being informed that you were parting company with the Echo Label?

We were fully aware of the situation at the label and in the industry in general, so our reaction was pragmatic. We never had an bad feeling with anyone there and we fully understood what had to happen. Lots of people lost their jobs there too, so we certainly weren’t victimized. I don’t want to start harping on about this sort of thing, as it is the vogue to be a talking head about it at the moment, but I feel that if you are making or releasing genuinely exciting and moving music then you will find a way to survive in the industry. If you are making conveyor belt or scene led music, be prepared to go back to the drawing board or do something else if it doesn’t work out.

What made you to sign up with Kscope?

The head of the label Tony Harris approached us without being aware there was a second album. He told me that he loved our first album and that he felt we would fit with the new identity he had in mind for the label. The label opened up the prospect of being viewed as a global band for us, and even though most of our fans are in the UK, we have a lot of appreciation all over the world, so creating more international awareness is something that the label are keen to help us with.

Also, being one of the more mainstream acts on the label is quite a new experience for us, so I feel we’re at home here.

With a crop of new bands emerging lately from both sides of the Atlantic there is a renewed interest for Shoegaze Music. Recently Drowned in Sound Magazine dedicated enough space for ‘The Scene That Celebrated Itself’. Talking about scenes, back in 2004 along with the likes of Radio Department and Amusement Parks on Fire you were covered by the NME as part of a Shoegaze revival. Thus, the term ‘New-gaze’ was invented and ever since follows you. Although your influences range from Spiritualized to Doves etc do you think that there is a common ground between your music and the many sub genres associated to Shoegaze?

I am generally positive about the whole shoegazing thing. It pleases me to see it finally being accepted as a genre rather than a flash in the pan or something to poke fun at. Mainly, I think it gives alot of very talented outsiders the chance to be heard, and it doesn’t really matter what the band looks like or what your politics are. The best type of music (shoegaze or otherwise) for me simply taps into the enigma of the human condition. I do see links with our music, some of which are and aren’t intentional, but listeners must remember that the most natural and enjoyable things happen when everyone is having a good time, and thinking too much about genres generally tends to put the mockers on creativity, so you just go with what pleases you regardless of where it came from.

Last year you provided mixing duties for up and coming Mancunian act Daniel Land and the Modern Painters. As an artist who spends hours in a studio do you consider this as a natural progression of your work and how about describing your experience working behind a mixing desk?

I absolutely consider this to be a natural progression of my work with Engineers, as both Ulrich Schnauss (who co-produced and mixed the single with me) and Daniel Land are both completely in-tune with the symphonic side to music making. We really wanted to translate the epic nature of Daniel’s live shows to a recording, and give the band’s shoegazing sound a modern twist, by distorting the drums and giving the overall mix a harder, larger sound than a lot of our contemporaries.

To me working behind a desk is the same as writing, recording or playing live. They are all great ways of expressing yourself.

What are your plans for the rest of the year as a band and personally?

Although we haven’t nailed down when and where we’ll play live yet, that is top of our list of priorities. Ulrich will join us on keys at a London show in July, and then hopefully some others, including a very exciting support slot that I unfortunately can’t announce due to it not yet being confirmed.

We have started to get some new ideas together between us, and I am constantly writing and recording because i’d go mad if I didn’t, so don’t expect such a long gap between records next time.

The greek version of the article is availiable here.

Albatross@pingpongradio:April09 Mix

April 30, 2009

Albatross@pingpongradio_April 09 MixHere is a mix of tracks played throughout April at Pingpongradio. Download

  • Kyte – The Smoke Saves Lives (Science For The Living, Rallye 2009)
  • Oppressed By The Line – Paper Cranes  (Kiku, Drifting Falling 2009)
  • Chapterhouse – Thrasher (Whirpool – The Original Recordings, Space Age Recordings 2009)
  • The Horrors – Three Decades (Primary Colours, XL 009)
  • Last Days – Fracture (The Safety Of The North, n5md 2009)
  • Gareth Dickson – Technology (Collected Recordings, Drifting Falling 2009)
  • Dean & Britta – White Horses (Sonic Boom Mix) (Sonic Cathedral Classics: Vol 1, Sonic Cathedral 2009)
  • Dead Leaf Echo – Half Truth (Truth Ep, Self Released 2009)
  • Engineers – Brighter As We Fall (Three Fact Fader, Kscope 2009)
  • Scarlet Youth – Sunshine Girl  (Breaking The Patterns Ep, Homesick Music 2009)
  • 93MillionMilesFromTheSun – The Times We Have Now (93MMFTS, Parallax Sounds 2009)

Artist Profile#5:Daniel Land & The Modern Painters

April 16, 2009
Daniel Land & The Modern Painters

Daniel Land & The Modern Painters

It needs strength to swim against the tide. That was my first thought when i discovered that Daniel Land & The Modern Painters are from Manchester,  a City that gave birth to baggy and always  mentioned as a reference point to the career of many influential artists. Well, the last thing i could have imagined is that somewhere there hides  a band that is not recycling the sounds of Joy Division, New Order, Oasis Elbow, etc choosing instead to follow the footpath traced by archangels of bliss noise like Slowdive, Ride, and Cocteau Twins.

Daniel Land And The Modern Painters formed  3 years ago  after Daniel Land found himself transcended – in a local gig – by the sonic manifesto of Ulrich Schnauss. But whereas the artistic view of the German composer slides over  heavy beats and textural loops, DL&TMP music take shape on chiming – chorus laden –  guitar effects highlighted by the vocal work  of Daniel Land.

Songs like the sublime  ”Within The Boundaries” or the sugar coated ” Off Your Face Again”  summon perfectly their flair for creating lush melodies. However, DL&TMP are not afraid to show their sensibility for country / folk music too. And they score a bull’s-eye since Daniel’s angelic voice could break the heart of even the most indifferent souls.

Having already released three singles (Voss Ep, Imagining October Ep for Saint Secilia Records, Within The Boundaries for Sonic Cathedral),  Daniel Land And The Modern Painters are already working  on  new material that will make their debut album. Although their music is not peppered with the swagger and arrogance of the North, its more than certain that the city of Manchester will be – very soon – proud for another one of it’s children.

The greek version of the article is availiable here.

Review: 93MilionsMilesFromTheSun-S/t (Parallax Sounds)

April 10, 2009
93MillionMilesFromTheSun

93MillionMilesFromTheSun

It’s not rare to find myself wondering what makes musicians choose a band name -a name that can sometimes make or break their career. Perhaps there is a higher meaning behind it? Or simply it’s something catchy and easy to remember? Difficult to say… All I know is that, no matter how long, funny, or weird a band name is, if the music sounds good in our ears we tend to love it anyway.

Equally difficult is trying to understand how 93millionmilesfromthesun came up with this awkward name! Ok,  the distance between Earth and the Sun is indeed 93 million miles but  living in the moody surroundings of the industrial Midlands had something to do with this too -after all, this is a place where you can easily  realize that the Sun is indeed far far away from the Earth!

But all these are small words when the music starts. And 93MMFTS’ first full album takes us to an ecstatic journey outside reality!Entering their official website, makes it clear that 93MMFTS’ music is well within the realms of shoegaze and dreampop -where vocals are “hidden” behind waves upon waves of distorted soundscapes. And 93MMFTS do not break this (successful) formula. Nevertheless, they manage to generate enough heat to melt the polar ice, and transform the barren landscapes of Everest into green heavens!

Album opener ‘’Step Into The High’’ is a psychedelic frenzy opus that – as the title implies – lifts you from the very first second, while at the same time bringing back memories from the best days of Spacemen 3 and Loop. In the 12 minutes long epic ‘’The Times We Have now’’ you find yourself transported to their music galaxy through seas of swirling layers and fairily vocals.This astral journey continues with the gorgeous “Yesterday Morning” where 93MMFTS remind us the art of Ride on building their compositions equally around melody and tones of distortion and tremolo effects, while the pounding drums and underwater guitars on ‘’Forever Soon’’ celebrate the landing to the heart of the solar system.

You can write much more about the 73 minutes this majestic trip lasts. So far Shoegaze music was all about looking at the sky or gazing at the stars tremble. On the contrary, with their debut album 93MMFTS, exhort us to spread our wings and soar towards the Sun without the danger of falling down like Icarus……

8,5/10

the greek version of the article is availiable here.

Label Zoom:Drifting Falling Recordings

March 15, 2009

Drifting Falling

I was first introduced to Jon Thomson four years ago in a Club AC30 night in London. That period Jon was singing and playing guitar in the – currently in hiatus –  4-piece Sleepless and was also making music for his own projects Oppressed By The Line an Of Normandy. I remember myself being very impressed by his modesty, cool attitude and strong passion for music.

Two years ago Jon returned back to his native home Texas. He still writes and releases his own music but also runs Drifting Falling, a label specializing in atmospheric, electronic and organic sounds.

Since we – at Stereoworld.gr – always admired the DIY ethos at music industry, we decided to get in touch with him as to tell us a few things about his Label.

Hi Jon could you please introduce Drifting Falling to the readers of Stereoworld.gr?

Hmm, well Drifting Falling is a tiny independent label that I started a couple of years ago while I was living in London.  I’d say that we specialize in intimate personal music with a heavy slant toward warm electronic, ambient folk, shoegaze and post-rock.  Music that has a soul, and has a transportive quality to it.”

What really motivated you to start the label; own fun and pleasure, unveil some great music, earn loads of money, anything else?

“Drifting Falling is very much a labor of love.  If you start a label expecting to make money, you’d be sorely disappointed.  I do it because I love it, it’s rewarding and I feel that the bands that I work with need to be heard. I do my best to make that happen.  I eat, sleep and breathe music, and I’m sure there are a lot of people out there that feel the same way, and without small independents a lot of outstanding music would toil in obscurity or wither on the vine.”

Label Dude Jon Thomson
Label Dude Jon Thomson

I guess this is an  ‘one man show’ running company. In brief what are the steps  required until a cd finds its position on a music stand and in case you are doing this all alone which is the most difficult to deal with?

“Drifting Falling is mostly me with some assistance from Justin Burrow who does almost all of the mastering and is a great sounding board.  I also bounce ideas to my wife for her thoughts and accept envelope stuffing assistance from my daughter.  The hardest part I suppose is scheduling release dates, and allocating my time between my full time job, my family, the label, and working on my own music.  The thing that suffers the most is my sleep schedule.”

Drifting Falling has released so far albums from Kontakte, Televise, Matt Bartram, artists you did share the same stage in the past and also being your friends.  So is this a label dedicated to promote albums mostly from friends or just from artists you like? In addition what drives you to take the decision to release an album from a certain artist?

“The label is dedicated to releasing work from great artists, it just so happens that I am friends with some great artists, but there are artists on the roster that I’ve never met face to face.  As far as the decision making, it boils down to gut instinct.  I have what I like to refer to as the Holy Shit Rule.  If I’m listening to a demo and it makes me say “holy shit”, then that is an artists that I want to work with.”Kontakte - Soundtracks To Lost Road Movies

It is said that parents should have the same partiality for all of their children. However if you had to choose one among of your releases which would have been your favorite and why?

“I do love all of my children equally.  I’ve been asked that question in the past and have never come up with a satisfactory answer.  I guess if I have to choose one, I’ll say Soft Focus by Oppressed by the because it’s me and…well, I just kick so much ass.  Just kidding.”

There are available million of blogs that offer whole albums as a free download for evaluation purposes only. Do you agree with that concept and in what rate leaking and uploading on the net an album prior or shortly after it’s release, affects tiny labels like Drifting Falling?

“It’s pretty bad actually.  I have the utmost respect for the mp3 blogs that will post a track or two and write a review of an album.  I think that is great.. Outstanding.

The websites that will post the entire album and not even offer up a review or just repost the bio from the label website are the ones that really take the piss.  They often hide behind words saying that they are giving people an opportunity to listen to the music before buying, but in reality they don’t even post a link of where a listener could buy the album in most cases.  It’s quite transparent.

Having said that, none of that bothers me quite as much as finding Drifting Falling releases for sale on Russian website for $1.99 and such.  Taking music without paying for it is one thing, but taking and then selling the music without paying the labels and in turn the artists is the ultimate insult.”

What would have been your advice to people who d like to start their own label?

Oppressed By The Line - The Soft Focus“Love the music.  Be organised. Surround yourself with dedicated people to help you.  Be prepared to lose sleep if you have any financial responsibilities.”

So what’s next for Drifting Falling?

“We’ve got a great year unfolding, but I believe in tempting fate so I’m playing my cards close to the vest until I have master recordings in hand.  However, our next three releases are far enough down the pipeline that I feel confident in talking about them.  Our first release of 2009 will be a new Oppressed by the Line album entitled, “Kiku”.  I wrote it while on holiday in Japan.  I unearthed and finished it last autumn. Second up will be Gareth Dickson, beautiful ambient folk that brings to mind some of the greats like Nick Drake or Bert Jansch but with a certain etheral ambient quality the neither ever possesed. Also on tap is the second full length from Matt Bartram. It picks up where “Arundel” leaves off and takes it even further.  Matt’s really outdone himself on this one. There are alot of other great releases that we’ve got planned for this year, but alas the fates abide.”

The Greek version of the article is availiable here.

Albatross@pingpongradio [11.03.09]

March 11, 2009

Albatross @ pingpongradio [11.03.09Here is the tracklist of the latest show – now airing   – every Wednesday night (22.00 – 23.00 cet) on http://www.pingpongradio.com Download the podcast by clicking here:

1.The Appleseed Cast-As The little Things go 2. Dawn Chorus Ignites-Am I Here (Remixed By Luga) 3.The Charlottes-Liar 4.The Static Silence-Candles (Remixed By Jessica Bailiff) 5. The Sight Below-Already There 6.Jatun-Never Lose That Feeling 7.A Shoreline Dream-Seatlle 8.Maribel-Taste The Thrash 9.The Lea Shores-Fear SOS 10.Mountains-Millions Of Time 11.Asobi Seksu-Familiar Light 12.Popface-Dreams Burn Down 13.The Boo Radleys-The Finest Kiss