Trappist Afterland – Like a Beehive, The Hill Was Alive

Last June Melbourne based Trappist Afterland came out with one of the best records from 2013, creating a peculiar mix of oriental-flavored atmospheres and acid vibes. Recently, The Active Listener brand new digital label released the album, sharing this psych folk gem on its Bandcamp account and offering us the chance to enjoy this album once again.

Picture yourself sitting by the Ganges, staring at the horizon while the sun goes down: that’s exactly the way this full-lenght makes you feel. Filled with tons of ethereal sounds, this record offers a great introduction to the devotional folk music scenario: it’s easy to follow the never ending stream of sitar lines, with a choir of celestial voices guiding you throughout this journey.

Listen to Beehive to get an idea: the way the lysergic vibes melt with the ascending progressions of the background choir it’s simply stunning.

It’s also hard to avoid the impression of attending a liturgy; throughout the entire track list a hypnotizing mantra traps the listener into a land made of psychedelic soundscapes and circular vocal lines. All of this sustained by tribal percussions and airy acoustic guitars.

If you’re a fan of alt-folk music, there’s no reason to miss this record. Thanks to their experimental attitude, these musicians explored the borders of a genre, showing us how to reach the undiscovered world of religious psych folk.


The Dirty Diary – Taste The Quiet Bone EP

Hailing from Middelfart (Denmark) The Dirty Diary is an injection of dirty blues, western guitar riffs, croaked voices and lo-fi tones. This Kennet Sorensen’s one-man-band project shared a six track EP on Bandcamp last September: Taste The Quiet Bone is everything you want from blues nowadays.

Throughout the entire track list, blues music seems to be an itch to scratch: the expressive urgency of the slide guitar is spread on slow patterns in such a great way, that you wonder why this guy didn’t gain the noteriety he deserves. Offering an amazing mixture of Tom Waits-influenced compositions and hazy guitar lines, the songs count on a minimal arrangement, with just a basic beat sustaining the structures.

The vibrating sound of Sorensen’s guitar pictures a western landscape, with clear references to some well-known Morricone’s compositions. The Twang feeling this record gives is mixed with tons of fuzzy sounds and supported but a really appropiate singing: Sorensen’s voice perfectly fits the scenario he’s trying to describe.

Even if it’s easy to find a comparison with some White Stripes atmospheres, you should probably remind of what Royal Trux did: the chewed and spat out blues they created is the main source for this kind of music.

Hoping to hear more from this Danish artist, you can enjoy all the records he released on his Bandcamp account. Surely a good solution if your searching for some raw guitar playing.

Factotum – Knife Gun

On January 27, Bristol based duo Factotum will release Knife Gun via Stolen Body Records: a nine track album that melts lysergic blues with sweaty and savage rock’n’roll.

Counting on a powerful mixture of garage vibes and lo-fi tones, the tracks flow easily through a 23 minute streaming of croaked voices, hazy guitar licks and crashing drum patterns.

The surf-flavored Melt, the chromatic progression of Minute, the fuzzy’n’sloppy Hey Hey Hey: just some of the bright ideas showed on this release. You can enjoy the psychedelic atmosphere of Wurlitzer to enter a world made of hazy sounds and highly reverberated guitar lines.

Although there is a strong influence coming from the American garage scene, this record offers a peculiar mix of blues and acid riffs, avoiding the risk of a mere replica. The way they use the slowed down soundscapes of the 12 bar blues pattern found its climax in last track Gentleman: a five minute journey into the spookiest corner of garage rock.

A vibrating organ sound closes the records, giving the impression of an accomplished ritual: a complete immersion into Factotum sonorities completely came to an end.

Mr. Moods & Erik Jackson – Promenades Nocturnes

Mr. Moods and Erik Jackson last year’s collaborative five track Ep is now completely available on Bandcamp. You can both stream the record and have a free download here.

The smooth jazz atmosphere of the record perfectly melts with a fine sense of songwriting, showing the way to combine trip hop vibes with lounge and downtempo sonorities. All of this creates a really pleasant collection of jazzy compositions, easy to enjoy at night (especially thanks to the slow cadenced drum patterns).

Accompanied by a constant surface noise, this record gently flows through the entire track list, offering a relaxing 20min experience. This way you can easily reach the crossroad among trip hop, jazz and soul music.

These soft vibrations will bring you to a world made of delicate voices, lonesome trumpets, jazzy electric pianos and nocturnal soundscapes.

No matter how or when you choose to enjoy the record, you’ll get drown in a sea of pleasant soundwaves anyway.

Death and Vanilla – EP (Reissue)

On January 8th Death and Vanilla will release a vinyl reissue of their 2010 Ep. With three bonus tracks on the B-side, this Ep will celebrate Hands in the Dark Records third anniversary. Indeed, the Swedish duo’s Ep was the first record the label put out.

Anders Hansson and Nilsson Marleen’s project Death and Vanilla shows a huge love for horror sonorities, offering slight sci-fi references going hand in hand with a fine noir atmosphere. Revealing a dreamy and airy use of vocals and background sounds, this Ep gives an ethereal and foggy feeling, leading the listener to a land populated by spooky organ lines and highly reverberated guitar licks.

Even if the A-side is a remarkable sequence of dream pop jewels, the B-side surprisingly offers tunes way too far from being mere fillers. The “Clockwork Orange-flavored” Ascend and Descend turns into a delicate piece of jazz-noir, that masterfully combines the horror vibes of the band with a classy drum pattern.

The Dödens Vaniljsås Theme (another instrumental composition) is a delicate twist of arrangements: a sad and melancholic track that mix a dark surf atmosphere with a 70s french-noir way of composing.

The pleasant Between Circles brings everything to an end, containing the only lyrics you’ll find on this second half of the EP: a soft lullaby lying on long sustained organ notes.

Hoping to have tons of future great records from Hands in the Dark, we can enjoy this marvelous reissue.

By the way, the brand new artwork is very appropriate, reminding of the original dark cover and giving a fresh touch of colour at the same time.

Black Manila – Beach Parade

On December 18th Black Manila shared a brand new four track EP on their Bandcamp account, giving the possibility of a free download.

The London-based band offered a great mixture of surf vibes and fuzzy soundwaves, creating an exemplar garage-likely record. Starting with the 60s-flavoured Keep Your Head On, this Ep contains inspired guitar lines, catchy harmonies and lysergic atmospheres: all of this condensed in 4 short tracks.

The instrumental Beach Parade is filled with lots of highly reverberated guitar licks, reminding of the stunning early surf records.
Here you can stream the entire EP, enjoying the pleasant tones of the record.

The second half of this release is more inclined to a power-pop songwriting, referring to the well-known easy listening patterns of some 60s sound revival.
Anyway, the best of Beach Parade is to be searched in the first two tracks: a marvelous combination of garage-rock and acid riffs.

This British trio is strongly reccomended to all the lovers of surf and catchy melodies.

How to inflect the word “Drone”: five records to take stock of the situation

Coming from a branch of minimalism, drone music evolved in different ways since music pioneers as La Monte Young and John Cale started experimenting with clusters and long sustained notes. In 2013 we saw a lot of good releases in this genre (Tim Hecker’s Virgins as an example) but a fast growing underground scene still offers tons of material to listen to.

From ambient to shoegaze, from doom to glitch, drone music involves lots of different styles. Here a short list of exemplar records to discover what this music scenario recently offered. Each of these artists has a peculiar way to use drones and soundscapes. Find out how through this short article.

T.G. Olson

t.g.olsonT.G. Olson of Across Tundras offers a stunning mixture of dronescape and fuzzy guitar sounds that strongly reminds of some kind of desert rock sonorities. Last March he shared on his Bandcamp account The Complete Blood Meridian For Electric Drone Guitar: a collection of twenty-four compositions that masterfully lead into a land made of hazy vibes and harsh tones. This artist from Nashville surely knows how to combine western atmospheres and lysergic sounds. An essential record for all the fans of long sustained guitar feedback.


TalvihorrosScotland based composer Ben Chatwin recently released Eaten Alive under his stage name Talvihorros. Characterized by dark and neo-classical tones, his work combines guitar arrangements and electronic effects, creating dilated compositions and foggy atmospheres. The tracks are filled with lots of electronics beats and piano lines, constantly supported by a marvelous guitar phrasing. The whole track list shows a great ability in mixing the drone stereotypes with a peculiar interpretation of ambient music. Surely another great composer from Denovali‘s catalog.


ian-watson-glimmer-swefnIan Watson‘s project Swefn offers that kind of drone music that easily flows into glitch and field recordings. Latest release Glimmer (out December 30) contains six new tracks, showing the best way to put noise music into an ambient soundscape. Creating exquisite esoteric compositions, he found the way to get into an universe made of lo-fi samples, weird background rumors and cosmic-flavored sounds. All of this combined with a great use of glitchy drones and obscure keyboard patterns.

Hannah Hoch

hannah-hochMusique Concrete always had a main role in the growth of drone and ambient music. Hannah Hoch’s Floeberg stands in this land where sounds and loops aren’t any pre-recorded material. As this Chicago based artist says, all the loops and samples weren’t recorded in advance for the making of this record. Floeberg pictures a spooky and ethereal landscape with a glance to some early industrial releases. To have a taste of these vibes, stream here this six track album: going through the record is like drowning into an ocean of silent dark waves.


gnodAnd now a record that still has to be released but you can already stream online in its entirity. Gnod latest record The Somnambulist’s Tale (out February 2nd via Aguirre Records) offers two long compositions, with a constant loop in the background and sparks of conversations, guitar echoes, musique concrete creating an acid atmosphere. Probably more New Wave-oriented than the other records on the list, this album perfectly defines the border of some kind of drone music, melting the background effects with a ritual percussion line. No other way to discover the world they created but streaming the two tracks on their Bandcamp.