Friday, December 28, 2012

Sea Oleena-Sleeplessness (2011)

Whether or not music contains lyrics, it is as much a medium of artistic expression as literature, dance, or sculpture.  It is my opinion that artists should try new ideas and to push the limits of genre classification.  The harder it is to classify a certain artist, the more artistic that artist tends to be.

Sea Oleena (otherwise known as Charlotte Oleena) has released two LPs that are, in my opinion, as a whole greater than the sum of their parts.  What you hear is ambient distortion, cool electronic production and silken, bluesy vocals that serve as the staples of the music. 

Oleena, of Montreal, calls herself an ambient blues musician, and while these two styles would seem to clash, creating a disjointed listening experience, the two mesh much better than one could imagine.  The music she writes and performs is about organic visual perception as much as it is an outward expression of inward emotion. 

Contrary to most ambient music, "Sleeplessness" contains both memorable and recognizable melodies that manage to shine clear through a misty wash of electronic reverb.  As the term suggests, the ambient portion of the music supplies the beautiful, sparse atmospherics, while Oleena's gloomy vocals provide a spark of blues-oriented rhythm and a simple melody.  Even on a casual first listen, the music is difficult not to sing along to.  In its own way it is catchy, but at the same time honest and soulful.

The textures present in this music are varied and deep.  The visuals are breathtaking and the emotions true and serene.  In many ways this is an incredibly unique listen.  It stays in the head of the listener for hours after the short seven tracks have faded to silence, leaving one comtemplative and restless.  It is this quality of all else that makes this record a standout.

While this album is not patently new, it was a recent new discovery for me.  Sea Oleena is a criminally underrated artist that deserves support.  Through her bandcamp page, she is offering both "Sleeplessness" and her 2010 self-titled debut as name-your-price downloads.  There is no minimum, but if you have the means, please donate a few bucks to help keep her producing new music. 

If you like music with no boundaries, you will love both of Oleena's albums.  I enjoyed both of them very much and can whole-heartedly recommend them to you.  Check out the full stream of "Sleeplessness" courtesy of the Sea Oleena bandcamp page below.  As always, thanks for reading and enjoy!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

If These Trees Could Talk-Red Forest review

Greetings, readers and listeners!  We hope you have enjoyed the holiday, whether it be Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or whatever other holiday you chose to commemorate.  If you don't celebrate any such holiday, then happy antipathy month!

Now that we're back from our mini vacation, it is time to review some more albums that I missed in 2012.  Today's color is from If These Trees Could Talk.  This is a newer Ohio band that is a promising talent in the post-rock genre.

"Red Forest" is in some ways a deviation on the standard post rock sound in that it fuses elements from both ambient and metal to create a unique sound that cannot be justly described by simply name-dropping other bands.  In some ways, "Red Forest" is similar to later works from Godspeed You! Black Emperor and in other ways comparable to Monochromie and Ana Never. 

With these release, ITTCT incorporate heavy low-end bass, off-kilter drum patters, and distorted, driving riffs into the usual looped and stretched guitar melodies and delicate atmospheric electronics.  This is a defining trait of this band.  Drawing influences from Pelican, ITTCT bring a brilliant wave of progressive metal riffing to the front of the mix.  This effect is neither drowned by nor overpowering to the post rock elements, which plays a fascinating role in defining the sound and emotion this band expresses. 

Throughout its nine tracks, "Red Forest" varies in both tempo and approach.  This content is what makes this album such a rewarding listen.  Don't ignore this album if you dislike metal, but also give it a listen if your musical tastes are not in tune with post rock.  This album is a non genre-specific listening experience and can be enjoyable to listeners who follow a variety of musical styles.  Check this album out via the full stream, courtesy of If These Trees Could Talk's bandcamp page.  Thanks for listening and enjoy!