Friday, 11 September 2015

THE VIRGANCE – PARADIGM 3 (El Vals del Conejo CD, D/L). WARP TRANSMISSION – ACCIDENTS AND MADNESS (D/L)/TAMAM SHUD (Heavy Meditation Tapes Cassette, D/L). MOONPARADE – UNDER THE SWELL (D/L). HOT GLEW – MAY I COME IN (Custom Made Music Cassette, D/L). BLACK PANDA BEACH - §#&*µ (D/L).

In this month’s round up of Bandcamp freebies we have unearthed another batch of goodies you might dig……….it’s the usual mix of fantastic new bands, bedroom psychonauts armed with a guitar, FX pedals, a drum machine and a ton of great ideas that are still getting their sound together and weirdos doing a load of drugs, pressing the record button and seeing what happens. We think they are all worth a listen………download the tunes and make your own mind up, it won’t cost you anything.

The Virgance is the recorded work of Nathan Smith, a UK-based artist and another emerging talent that has been taken under the wing of renowned Canadian/Ukrainian Dreampop duo Ummagma. Following hot on the heels of the critically acclaimed second album Hiko Shrine, The Virgance returns with a third album of instrumental Shoegaze, Dreampop and Noise Rock on El Vals del Conejo titled Paradigm 3.
Building on the momentum gained from the first two releases, Smith demonstrates the strength of the album format as an art form and reminds us of the rewards of patient listening in this modern, digital age of instant gratification and short attention spans. This is perhaps the most balanced Virgance release so far, embracing the more emotional aspects of Shoegaze while retaining some experimental rock attributes, as well as the aesthetics of both beautiful noise and ambient music. As with his two previous albums, Smith’s distinctive, swirling guitar sound is at the forefront, in harmony with synthesized, ethereal female vocal sounds and he has successfully managed to avoid most of the Shoegaze ‘clichés’ that are evident in less accomplished hands…………however you can’t help feeling that one or two of the tracks really could do with a “real” singer and not just ambient vocal washes as they do sound  somewhat unfinished (the stand-out track here and no doubt the most complete is ‘Down The River’ features vocals by Ummagma’s Shauna McLarnon). Nit picking aside, this is an excellent record which fans of Slowdive and newer bands like Stargazer Lilies will love.
Paradigm 3 is available on CD or as a “name your price” download from The Virgance Bandcamp page http://thevirgance.bandcamp.com/album/paradigm-3.

Coming to you from Finland via the furthest reaches of the known galaxy is Warp Transmission, a six piece heavy Psych/Stoner/Space Rock caravan of cosmic travellers. For this band it's about riding blind the primal urge, living the archetype, and always rocking out with an excess of noise, burning some bridges and crossing a couple abysses along the way………..Fuck Yeah.
Originally released as a 7” single on the very tiny Finnish label Mikrofoni in 2014, Accidents And Madness is now available on the Warp Transmission Bandcamp page. This is two tracks of heavy Psychedelic Space Rock that sound like the Stooges and early Hawkwind fighting in a sack………it’s great stuff……..heavy riffing, skull pounding, mind melting Psychedelic Rock n Roll. ‘Freak Accident’ and ‘Confusion’ rock like absolute bastards……….a must listen if you like your Psychedelia as heavy as a supermassive black hole. Also available on the Warp Transmission Bandcamp page is Tamám Shud which is due for release on Heavy Meditation Tapes very soon. This is a demo/rehearsal/jam compilation tape of random material spanning the existence of Warp Transmission and is more of the same heavy Psych/Space Rock as before. It’s a bit lo-fi in parts but if you dig the Accidents And Madness download you also need to check this out.
Both Accidents And Madness and Tamám Shud are available as “name your price” downloads at http://warptransmission.bandcamp.com/

We stumbled across Under The Swell by Moonparade more or less by accident……we liked the album artwork (which is always a good place to start)…….and we think we have made a real discovery here. We know very little about who Moonparade are/is (there are no links for this to Facebook/Twitter which is a major quirk in the age of super connectivity) but after some serious Googling we have deduced that this is the work of Australian artist/musician Tim Goschnick. It’s kinda difficult to describe this album but we are going to go with “Electro-Acoustic Ambient Shoegaze” (if that’s a thing) as it is a gorgeous blend of drifting guitars, electronics and field recordings mixed with a minimal use of more traditional instrumentation such as piano, harmonium, violin and kalimba, having the feel of the post Eno/Cluster ambient soundscape explorations from the late 80s/early 90s.
Under The Swell is full of lush, predominantly beat free, sweeping soundscapes that combine shimmering guitars and electronica with an organic mix of found sounds and sparse instrumentation creating a vast ocean of sound. There are some really beautifully constructed tracks on this record………..the opening track ‘Skyscrapers In Earthquakes’ fuses drones with lush, swelling .guitars, the title track has the dynamics of ambient Shoegaze and is a swirl of spiralling guitars while ‘Spidersilk Flying Machine’ is full of swooping  electronica. The rest of the record is fantastic with a vibe that spans right through from early German electronica/soundscaping by the likes of  Popol Vuh, the “Fourth World” music of Eno and Jon Hassell, early 90s chill-out music all the way to current Electro-Acoustic sonic experimentation. We think you should give this a listen.
You can find Under The Swell on the Moonparade Bandcamp page http://moonparade.bandcamp.com/album/under-the-swell where it is available as a “name your price” download

Next up on our trawl though Bandcamp is May I Come In by Hot Glew, the solo project by Nashville musician Brett Keller.  May I Come In is the archetypal product of the bedroom psychonaut, full of lo-fi charm and great ideas but still in the process of getting a sound together on hardly no budget whatsoever. There are some very cool tunes here, however it sounds like a very well made demo tape……….it would be really interesting to hear the results of these songs after getting some serious studio time and being played by a full band. Nevertheless, there are enough great songs here to make this is well worth a listen and we think Hot Glew will be one to watch in the future.
Available now from the Hot Glew Bandcamp page at https://hotglew.bandcamp.com/ or as a very limited cassette release (50 copies only) from Custom Made Music at http://custommademusicva.com/release/may-i-come-in-cassette/

And finally, some seriously wtf, lo-fi psychedelic jams from sonic adventurers Black PandaBeach. Based in France (?) ……the spiritual home of Gong and Soft Machine……..Black Panda Beach cook up loose Psych/Post Rock Improvised jams with a dash of Krautrock thrown into their sonic stew. It’s not going to be to everybody’s taste but for enthusiastic listeners of warped modern psychedelic music/ Post Punk experimental soundscapes this may be your thing. Psychedelia is a broad church…………it embraces everything from Circus Maximus to Cabaret Voltaire.  
You can download §#&​*​µ from the Black Panda Beach Bandcamp page where it is a “name you price” freebie and make your own mind up.

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