Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Olekksii-Iris review

When I first stumbled across Olekksii on the Fluttery Records website, I thought the name sounded familiar.  Indeed, this is the last name of a Ukrainian artist known as Endless Melancholy, only his last name is spelled with a single 'k'. 

The artist Olekksii is Alexey Krolevets.  Like Endless Melancholy, he is from Kiev, Ukraine.  Olekksii specializes in electronica, but his music can appeal to fans more diverse than the typical electronic music lover.  His new full-length album, "Iris" is an abbreviated eight-track album rich in classic electronic beats, smooth, atmospheric reverb, and piano.

This music is multi-layered.  While ambiance plays a crucial role in developing the dreary aspects of these tunes, it is sole focal point.  Olekksii builds upon that template with recognizable electronic beats, which provide tempo and depth the music.  Another key element of the mix is the piano.  Simple, catchy piano melodies play a thoughtful juxtaposition with the electronic beats, while various string arrangements cast rays of beauty into the mix.

"Iris" would be a strong modern classical performance without the electronics.  With those beats mixed in, it reflects on some latter film pieces.  These arrangements of multiple cellos and violins instead call to mind true classical music.  These arrangements are deep enough to sound cutting-edge and modern, but paced more like contemporary. 

The length of tracks does often matter to me.  As I said in yesterday's post about Funeral for a Friend's new disc, short tracks can lead to less variety in musical sound.  This is not the case with "Iris."  Though the average track length is nearly identical to the new FFAF album, the music is strikingly diverse.  This perhaps owes to the absence of vocals and the insistence of contemporary musicians need to create music devoid of catchy hooks or other sounds of repetitive nature.  Indeed, these eight tracks seem to stretch much further. 

This album is still short and I do feel that Olekksii would have been served well by including just one or two additional songs, but this is but a minor complaint. 

Fluttery records claims that this music is for people impressed with works by Olafur Arnalds, Max Richter, and several other lesser-known artists.  Having read this bio before I listened to a single note of the music, they had me at Olafur Arnalds.  Olekksii is indeed similar to Arnalds, and believe me that is a major plus.

I fully recommend purchasing "Iris".  This is a fantastic listen and an inexpensive download.  Check out the full stream, courtesy of the Olekksii bandcamp page below.  Thanks for listening and enjoy!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Funeral for a Friend-Conduit review

Recently I have been working with an electrician who is designing electrical conduit for a food processing facility.  There is a ton of conduit in this building, so finding out where each line is routing is time-consuming and complex.

Funeral for a Friend's latest album, on the other hand, is neither complex nor is it a time-consuming listening experience.  In some ways the band picks up where they left off with on the not-so-overwhelmingly received "Welcome Home Armageddon".  My own opinion of the previous album notwithstanding, "Conduit" is a good FFAF album, just not the best.

We are huge fans of FFAF here.  We own either CD or digital copies of every single full-length album they have released.  "Conduit" is every bit as good as "Welcome Home Armageddon," but not quite up to the standard set with "Hours" and "Memory and Humanity."  We believe this band to be bar-none the best Welsh rock band out there.  Granted, there are not that many heavy-hitters from the Kingdom of Wales, but FFAF is the best.

Whereas the previous albums were harmonic rockers, "Conduit" shows us a different aspect the band has been trying to incorporate more and more through the last two albums.  Listeners of metal, straight-up hardcore, and punk will identify with the subject matter and delivery of this album.  FFAF is still very much a rock band and indeed graces listeners with numerous harmonic hooks, but what "Conduit" truly is, is a post-hardcore release.  This is perhaps most similar to the earlier tracks from "Casually Dressed & Deep in Conversation." 

My only problem with this release is indeed a fairly major one, and complex at that.  The structures evident in the 11 tracks are the simplest melodies and riffs FFAF have ever constructed.  These 11 tracks more often than not render themselves so simple that the simplicity detracts from the creativity in the song-writing.  The tracks on this album average under three minutes apiece, with the longest just 3:39.  The shortness of the tracks leaves no room for extended vocal melodies, guitar leads, or solos.  These items have been FFAF staples for years, so having none of these to chew on leaves plenty to be desired.

"Conduit" is still a solid release that should appeal to both true fans and casual listeners.  The album is simply too short in my opinion.  Check out the title track and Spine below.  As always, thanks for reading and enjoy!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Elara-Soundtrack for a Quiet Place

Fluttery Records has just released a brand new EP from an Italian band called Elara.  The description of the band is what intrigued me the most, so I listened to the new EP.

"Soundtrack for a Quiet Place" is three brilliant cinematic post rock tracks.  I found this release to be extremely impressive.  For music with the usual post rock centerpieces of screeching guitars over ambiance, this album counters with a grand orchestral backdrop that brings to mind film scores.  When you try to envision what this sounds like, imagine a cross between Mono and If These Trees Could Talk. 

These three tracks generate an emphatic atmosphere that underscores guitar distortion with smooth, repetitive riffs.  The string arrangements permeate this atmosphere with a tangible quality almost reminiscent of later Romantic-era works, but emphasize epic cinematic qualities.

This is the best I can describe the music in this EP.  What I can tell you is that I was completely floored when I listened to it.  This was very impressive work that made me wish it was a full-length album rather than an EP.  Still, Fluttery Records is not asking for a ton of money on this one so it is worth it to check out.  "Soundtrack for a Quiet Place" is available through Fluttery Records' bandcamp page, as well as their website.  It is also available through Amazon if, like me, you prefer that route.  Check out the full stream of this glorious EP with the graceful wolves on the cover below.  Thanks for reading and enjoy!