Horror. It comes in many forms: thermonuclear war, quadratic equations, that bit with the baby in Trainspotting. The realisation that Madonna and Iggy Pop have the same body. The cat on Early Mammal’s artwork whose eyes are cut out and who nevertheless STARES INTO YOUR SOUL AND EXPOSES IT AS THE BLACK ABYSS IT IS. The London trio’s music has a nightmarish quality to it as well, albeit one that ultimately assumes you’ll find as much pleasure in its grit and grime as its practitioners do.
Their sleazy, bluesy psyche’n'roll is buried in more fuzz than a French porn star in the ’70s, and comes with creepy half-smothered spoken/snarled vocals that were presumably recorded in Beelzebub’s lavatory. (Top Terror Tip: turn off every light in the house; put on headphones; listen to “Resurrection Men” with its helpful refrain, “They look in through the window / Then they come in through the window.”) The record probably pours on the opacity a bit too thick, but there’s enough satisfying proggy jamming to make it worth the inevitable crawling sensation inside your skin.
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Chimera Music, 2013
The project of Sean Lennon and Deerhoof drummer Greg Saunier, this one time impromptu live band flesh out an album of instrumental jazz, prog-rock and ’60s rock. It’s certainly a bizarre endeavor, full of wild guitar sounds and quirky synth, but it also retreats to calm, almost cinematic piano work. Sometimes sounding spur-of-the-moment while other times clearly calculated, there’s a lot of unusual and interesting sounds here.
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Indie Recordings, 2013
Cult of Luna are cerebral, academic, and challenging. So prog they’re Quantum: each release measurable only by itself. In short, they do good things for music. Past albums explored male loneliness, the paradox of salvation, and the invention of insanity; Vertikal draws on Fritz Lang’s 1927 film Metropolis, a vision of a futuristic dystopia. Tangentially, it also references Blade Runner, Terminator, Inception, and The Matrix. The result is an album of existential curiosity, tangible yearning, and – special to this band – it questions our interpretations and associations within our own ‘Modern World’. An incredible band that are only getting better.
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Bright, proggy math-pop from Halifax; Kebnekaise serves as Wot Gorilla?’s debut full-length proper after a couple of EP releases. Given the band name (taken from a Genesis track), and math-rock’s often irreverent nature, it’s perhaps surprising to find a lot of heartfelt emotion in Mat Haigh’s delicate, almost Claudio Sanchez-like vocals. It’s a large reason why the album is as good as it is, besides the melodic intricacy, constant tempo-shifts, and infectious songwriting.
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Carnage Club, 2012
This Birmingham duo’s sound has been described as ‘stoner sludge’, but also has hints of a proggy sort of punk rock. Their debut EP is a brief affair, only nine minutes long, and as such doesn’t really get its teeth stuck in to any of the interesting ideas that pop up. “Special School” launches the EP with a Japandroids-esque energy, which subsequently turns into a swaggering masculinity – unconventional drumbeats over reluctantly coaxed guitar riffs. “Stinkin’ Ain’t Easy” is the most interesting track on the record, but there are still lots of ideas that go undeveloped.
Culled from their vast catalogue of songs, Area 52 reworks 9 of Rodrigo y Gabriela’s favourite tracks, recorded in Havana with seminal producer Pete Asher and a 13 piece Cuban orchestra. Two of the most proficient guitar players that exist today, the talent here covers salsa dynamics, Cuban jazz, prog-rock nods, and even some folk-like moments- all at a furious pace, almost like you’re listening to the soundtrack of an action movie set south of the US. Mostly known for their meshing of rock with flamenco, these artists are well versed in nearly every genre of music, all of which is illustrated here at blistering speeds. Here they take on their most daring adventure and walk away with an upbeat, cultured and highly sophisticated listening experience that twists and turns through unconventional instrumental acrobatics.