Friday, February 27, 2009


Name: Graf Orlock
Latest release: Destination Time Tomorrow [2007]
File under: Grindcore

Grindcore isn't the most dynamic genre. If I were to listen to 100 songs by 100 different grindcore bands, chances are I'd only be able to pick out one or two afterwards as being particularly unique. If Graf Orlock were in that century though, I'm pretty sure I'd be able to recall them.

Graf Orlock play a fusion of grindcore and... movie samples. From Aliens to Zoolander (don't quote me on that) they'll sample it. This movie theme is found in the album packaging and also their lyrics. It's not just a gimmick though - it fits in superbly with the music they create. The closer to Destination Time Tomorrow, "The Dream Left Behind", has an epic, beautiful finish that belies the image of the majority of grindcore. Well, you're not going to find Napalm Death using a sample from Jurassic Park...


Who are you, where are you from and what is your role in Graf Orlock?
Jason: "My name is Jason, I sing, play guitar and do samples. I am from the beautiful and completely destructive city of Los Angeles, particularly Studio City."

Who came up with the face-hugger and chest-burster designs for your album Destination Time Tomorrow?
Jason: "This was a thematic idea continuing on from Destination Time Yesterday to Destination Time Tomorrow, which would have to involve space. Aliens was deemed the best choice and executed by our drummer Alan who tends to hit a laptop screen until those things materialize."

Have you encountered any copyright trouble with your use of lyrics or samples?
Jason: "No. Those legal entities can eat shit and burn in an entertainment hell hopefully populated by "artists", lawyers and asshole managers lifting money out of their accounts.

Do you think there is a danger of you being known as just "that grindcore band with the movie samples" whereas you feel that there is a lot more to Graf Orlock than that?
Jason: "I feel like there is much more to it, considering I am in the band. I don't worry too much, we are separated from a lot of scenes in a lot of different ways and if people think it sounds like something else, or think it is stupid they can also burn in entertainment hell (see answer 3)."

If you could have written and played the soundtrack to any movie ever made, which would you pick and why?
Jason: "Personally I would do Platoon, that one is amazing. But as a band I would more than likely do Die Hard, or Return of the Jedi with the "Ewok Victory" song (the first version). I remember banging my head and trying to choke myself when I was 4 or 5 to the song, so it has a special place in my little black heart."

Don't fuck with Jason.


Name: Ghastly City Sleep
Latest release: Ghastly City Sleep [2007]
File under: Post-rock, ambient...

I really hate the term "post-rock" sometimes. It seems to be used to describe any band that utilise atmosphere and write songs over 5 minutes long. I'm at the point now where I'm not even sure what it is anymore due to the term being thrown around so much. The best way I can describe Ghastly City Sleep is ambient post-rock. Throw in some shoegaze too. Maybe. I just don't know anymore.

Anyway, GCS use a variety of instruments to create a very relaxing soundscape. Maybe that's what the Ghastly City is? The opener of their self-titled debut EP, "Ice Creaks" is the highlight of the release, a 9 minute jaunt through their post-ambient-gaze sound. The EP features the services of members from Gregor Samsa, and whilst the band may be similar in parts, clones they are not. GCS' debut full-length will be out later this year.


Who are you, where are you from and what is your role in the band?
Brandon: "Brandon Evans, Richmond, VA/Brooklyn NY,
singing/guitaring/synthesizing/keyboarding/stressing/depressing/struggling for the uplifting..."

What's the story behind the band name?
Brandon: "Originally Jeff Kane and I, when we were in City of Caterpillar, were contemplating starting our own label to put out our records and we decided to use the name "The Ghastly City Sleep"... we never got the chance to bring it to fruition. When City of Caterpillar split up, it just seemed right to continue on and use that as our name, though Kevin never really did make it to practices... and the band took about 17 lightyears to gel and cool and form... yet it still feels right as for our name. It's a state that we as humans naturally reside in... it's hard and rare to break through, it's just not in our surroundings most of the time... not in these societies we build."

Can you explain the EP sleeve; the format and what the text refers to?
Brandon: "The record sleeve contains the lyrics to the songs and other writings. They are broken up in fragments/shards of the whole, to give even less of a stable end-meaning, but more a means to apply emotions within each individual, to their own lives and stories... not mine as me so much... just states of flux and drift, struggle or triumph... set up like an old newspaper or classified, revolutionary propaganda flyer... you could pick it up and read any little bit to spark off personal interest/insight."

With the GCS members adept at so many instruments, do you spend much time deliberating over which instrument will play a certain section of a song?
Brandon: "Yeah, for sure, of course... it's quite the nature of the beast really, and it could be much more, if we were more adept at more instruments, or maybe simply if we had more... depends right... hah. However, we, for the most part, still stick to more standard rock instruments, whether it be guitar, bass, drums or keyboard, you know... but then experiment from there on out; adding whatever we feel like expanding out to in which the song may be calling for/or what spacial depth it contains to stretch... I think holding on to those instruments comes from our backgrounds, and the way we like things to feel in the live setting... but yeah. It's goddam nervewracking sometimes the amount of time we can waste when we get caught in one of our own snarls trying out a million different little ideas or tones that maybe just dont matter... or they do more than ever... who knows... it's just it happens for us."

How has the band evolved since the 2007 EP and how will this evolution be noticeable on your upcoming full-length?
Brandon: "Well, the most influential and noticeable impact effecting our songwriting for our upcoming full-length has been Pat adding a sampler into the gear mix... many of our new songs now involve as a starting focus in writing... electronic beats, and sometimes drones, that we then build upon; or spark the interesting skeletal-structure melodies... better yet, it is now a constant instrument added into the mix of songs, like bass or guitar or keys. It's become a staple... not just a flare or frequent additive. In addition to the sampler, I feel we are experimenting with minute little parts for more instruments now and the layering a trifle more than the last... the new songs feel more beatbacked moving... a sorta sexy slight bodydance sadness maybe. That, and we are sort of hoping to do a little more of a dubstyle mixing to the whole this time. With this new stuff, I get images of being in a blanketed, arctic white... spanning out, and deep below; a drift you can just keep holing and holing into its depths without a change; just sheer, glimmering shininess that evokes a loneliness where you become comfortable and reach moments of dancing to yourself without a care... just quick, fleeting moments that take forever to form, you know. That's my crazy head though..."

Thanks to Brandon for his time, and a shout-out to Janelle of GCS too for being really sweet. Visit the links below!

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Name: Foxtail Somersault
Latest release: Fathom [2007]
File under: Shoegaze

The first thing that attracted me to Foxtail Somersault was their name. It's so playful, happy and it just rolls off the tongue. It's also a good indication of their sound. Shoegaze is often a grumpy climate, but nobody told Foxtail this. Fathom is their only release so far, a very upbeat and dreamy set of songs with some very catchy melodies and lyrics. Influences are obvious but Foxtail have very much their own sound. It's impossible not to sing along to the likes of "Divingboard" and "Escalator" (in your head at least) and the journey ends with the very post-rockesque "A Love Song Part 1". The fact that they have remained in my top 10 most played artists on despite only having one official release (and just 5 songs at that) is testament to the quality contained within it. The band have undergone some line-up changes since, but hopes are certainly still very heady indeed for any upcoming material. Some words from the band themselves, then...


Who are you, where are you from and what is your role in Foxtail Somersault?
Seiken: "I'm originally from Okinawa, Japan, grew up in Los Angeles, and currently reside in San Francisco. I play guitar and write some of the songs."
Brian: "My name is Brian, I’m from Santa Cruz and I play bass for Foxtail."
James: "James, from San Francisco. My role in Foxtail is to provide comic relief, Dr. Phil services, artwork, accounting, and I’m also our backup lead guitar player."
Mark: "Mark. I'm originally from Syracuse N.Y. and now reside in Oakland. I provide beats, and being from Oakland, the street cred (just to perpetuate the stereotype)."

Shoegaze is obviously a huge part of the music you make. What is your personal favourite album and song from the genre?
Seiken: "Favorite song: a toss up between "Thorn" and "When You Sleep" by My Bloody Valentine, album: Loveless [My Bloody Valentine], I was blown away the first time I heard it, and it still amazes me everytime I hear it."
Brian: "It’s funny, I’m actually not really much of a shoegaze authority. I guess I’d still have to say that Souvlaki’s [Slowdive] my favorite overall shoegaze staple, and my favorite song off it would be "Country Rain"."
James: "It’s hard to zero in on a single album, but I think A Storm In Heaven by The Verve is one of best."
Mark: "Like Brian, I don't carry a huge knowledge base regarding shoegaze. I have been drawn to the more dreamy or experimental sound and the atmosphere it creates. I'd have to say the Godfathers of the guitar sound of shoegaze, The Jesus and Mary Chain, are up there, Catherine Wheel, and I really dig Curve's shoegaze-electronica mix. I think the most indelible for me though, was Lush's second album Spooky and "Nothing Natural". I'm struck by how that song can be all at once beautiful, pretty, powerful and angry."

You recently parted ways with vocalist Catherine. How is the search for a replacement going, and do you think a male vocalist could work with Foxtail Somersault?
Seiken: "We're going into new uncharted waters moving forward, we now have two female vocalists, Becky Uline and Elizabeth Anderson (no relations with our bass player Brian Anderson). I've entertained the idea of a male vocalist, but was never serious about it."
Brian: "Well we’ve just now resolved our vocalist situation and have actually brought on two singers. We’re very excited about the potential. As far as a male vocalist goes, it’s simply hard for me to imagine it... we’ve featured female vocals even before I joined the band and it simply seems like the way it should be with us. When it comes to shoegaze, my preference is always for the material with female vocals."
James: "Finding a replacement is difficult and we’re admittedly a difficult band to audition for. We’re working on a situation now that could involve a pair of equals, vocally similar to Stereolab without the quirkiness. I think it would be hard for us to plug a male vocalist into the mix, the sound we’re looking for is “pretty” and/or “sexy” (... but not too sexy). It would be amazing to hear a male vocalist pull that off, but it might make for some long and awkward road trips."
Mark: "It was a difficult decision. She's [ex-vocalist Catherine] unflinchingly positive and upbeat. It's been quite a process replacing her, but in the long run, with two vocalists coming in, we quite serendipitously found something much more original than we could have imagined. As far as a male vocalist goes, the groups I mentioned, Catherine Wheel and The Jesus and Mary Chain, both have male vocals, but I wouldn't describe their sound as really that pretty. It's tougher to balance that aggressive guitar sound with a male vocal."

The band embarked on last year's Lollapalooza tour in Chicago. How was the experience and how were you received?
Seiken: "I had a wonderful time, it was unpleasantly hot in Chicago, but performing on a stage approximately 15 meters wide, with our backs to a great lake, and facing downtown Chicago was incredible. I could really crank up my amps with no fear. The people listening seemed to really enjoy it. One of the attendees was Marcus Collins who works for Apple, and we were offered to take part in an Apple sponsored itunes download."
Brian: "Lollapalooza was an absolute blast. It was the first time I’d ever done any extended travelling with a band – we drove there and back in a large Ford van that had its share of problems, but we made it in one piece with no theft, no drama between us, and no speeding tickets. We stopped by Kansas City on the way there and played a small show for a group of people who’d heard of us and were really excited to have us. As far as the actual gig went... well, we were the very first band to play and had the 11:30 am slot on Friday morning, so we didn’t have a huge crowd. But, it was nice to lure away a few people who were sprinting across the park to stake out a good spot on the lawn for Radiohead. It means a lot to me to think we might’ve cost a few people ideal vantage points for Radiohead – I don’t know if I’d be willing to risk it myself."
James: "Lollapalooza was as insightful as it was amazing. We were playing pretty early, so we didn’t get to play for thousands of people, but the experience of being there and playing on a big stage was invaluable. It was also nice to take a long road trip with the band, we’re all best friends and we had a blast."
Mark: "Lollapalooza was such a great experience. Even the adverse events of van break downs and my "rock and roll" moment backstage during Radiohead lent to great memories. While we were billed for early Friday, we can say that we opened Lollapalooza. Yep, the whole shebang! And while we played, virtually every music fan saw us as they ran to stake their place for Radiohead. So technically, we can say we played for as many people as Radiohead... just not all at once!"

In what ways does your upcoming full-length differ to Fathom, and when can we expect a release?
Seiken: "As much as we would love to do a full-length, the next release will be another EP. The difference mostly will be the composers behind the tracks. I was the lead composer of Fathom, but for this next release, we all contributed much more - James composed a couple of the tracks, and Brian another. I have over a half dozen tracks that need some attention for our next next release, which will most likeley be our first full-length."
Brian: "I think we’re hoping to get this thing wrapped up my mid-March. It’s going to be quite different from Fathom due in large part to our new singers – we’ll probably be trying to incorporate two vocal parts on everything we do and see how that works out. The songs have a slightly different feel... a bit more rhythmically driving and riff-based, maybe a bit more rocking than either "Divingboard" or "Motionland", but not quite as dark as "Call and Respond". And, "A Love Song Part 1" will finally have a sequel."
James: "Our next release will sound a little louder than Fathom, but sticking to the same set of formulas in terms of instrumentation. The vocals will obviously be different. We put two vocal tracks together as an experiment and it transformed one of our recordings into a completely different song. If that scenario works out consistently across the entire album, the vocals will be much more of a highlight on this release. Release date is TBD... we’re perfectionists. :-)"
Mark: There's still that trademark guitar sound, so that hasn't changed. Nor has the presence of an instrumental. There are a couple of more "groove oriented" tracks which lends to a nice change of pace, from one release to the next. As far as a release goes, your guess is as good as mine, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it's before my wife gives birth!"

Many thanks to the band for their input. Keep an eye on their progress and check out the links below.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Name: Cloudkicker
Latest release: The Map is Not the Territory [2009]
File under: Technical instrumental metal

How ironic that after my opening salvo stating that I wouldn't be linking to full albums, the first artist I feature sees me doing just that. It's alright though, because Cloudkicker just loves music, not money. Freely available on Cloudkicker's website are 2 releases of hard, loud and melodic instrumentation akin to a vocalless Meshuggah. Highlights include The Discovery's eponymous epic and The Map is Not the Territory's opener "Hold On", something you'll need to do for the entire experience. Cloudkicker could easily package this formula up and sell it (I'd buy it), but that's not the aim of Cloudkicker's game...


Who are you, where are you from and what is your role in Cloudkicker?
Ben: "My name is Ben Sharp, I grew up in Los Angeles where I lived for 22 years before moving to Columbus, Ohio where I now live and work. My role in Cloudkicker is to write and record the music."

What was the reasoning behind making your releases free? You say they cost nothing to make - surely there were recording costs?
Ben: "It costs me absolutely nothing to create the music. Zero dollars. I record all the guitars and bass straight into my laptop and program the drums using this one sequencing program, then I mix and master everything myself. The only thing that costs money are guitar strings, but I have a full-time job so it's no big deal."

You are often likened to an instrumental Meshuggah - what are Cloudkicker's main inspirations?
Ben: "I guess Meshuggah is the only real "main inspiration"--you know, the whole odd time signature and polyrhythm thing. Other than that, the kind of music I listen to is really a revolving door of genres and styles. I actually try to keep whoever I'm listening to at the moment in my stupid little "top friends" thing. If you check it right now, there's not really that many "heavy" bands listed. I don't even think I've listened to Meshuggah for a few months, but I guess they're still the only band I can really point to and say "this is what gave me the idea for that"."

Did you ever consider adding vocals?
Ben: "No."

Finally, apart from the fact that the music is freely available, why should people listen to Cloudkicker?
Ben: "No reason. If people like what they hear, then that's awesome, if not, that's also awesome. I wouldn't expect anyone to listen to anything for any reason other than liking how it sounds."

Thanks to Ben for his time. A refreshing view on making music. Give Cloudkicker a digital spin.


Music can be a wonderful thing. I love music. A lot. In fact, I wrote the original draft for this introduction on paper from a handmade notebook sent to me by the wonderful Nikki King of Gregor Samsa, whilst using Mark Kozelek's lyric tome "Nights of Passed Over" as a makeshift desk. Seriously.

Music can evoke the most powerful emotions in me. I've imagined my wedding day, myself and my bride embracing as Jónsi soars through the verses of Sigur Rós' "Hafsol", and, slightly more macabre, I can see my coffin being lowered as mourners are subject to Efrim's cries in A Silver Mt. Zion's "There's a River in the Valley Made of Melting Snow". Whilst not everything I hear hits me as hard as these two examples, my love for music is such that I've decided to go down the well worn path of a music blog.

It's nothing new. There are thousands of music blogs out there. So what's different about this one? Firstly, I'm not going to be linking to .zip files of the latest leak. I still buy physical releases and this blog will aim to shift some albums of the artists it features. Anyway, if you're even slightly adept with Google, you can find pretty much anything elsewhere.

I'm not going to be reviewing anything. Reading reviews is boring. I'll be giving you facts, certainly an opinion here and there, but no wall-of-text reviews. You can read the facts, have a listen and make up your own minds.

So, I'll be featuring artists you may not have heard of, songs I love and words from the artists themselves. Give some new stuff a listen, you may like it. If you don't, so what? It's all relative.