Some mini-reviews

Regular readers will know that I’m constantly harping on about the backlog of things I have to review, and equally that I’m not making enormous headway. Here’s some mini reviews of some things that I’ve had for a while now.

SARAH JUNE – In Black Robes (Silber)
Sarah June (two forenames or is June her surname? Dunno, to be honest) is a singer-songwriter armed with an acoustic guitar. It’s a crowded field, to put it mildly. She definitely has something about her, though. The songs are pretty and pretty bare in the way Cat Power’s used to be. There is a freshness about the collection, and she has an endearing woman-child voice that’s not a million miles away from Cranes’ Alison Shaw. She seems to have a thing about skeletons too.

ALL YOU’VE SEEN – Mahali (no label)
I must admit my heart sinks when anyone still describes themselves as post-rock these days. All You’ve Seen did when they contacted me. They are a g/b/d instrumental trio from Switzerland, and Mahali is their first full-length album. It’s pleasant enough without being particularly distinctive or memorable. It feels like the tentative first steps of a band who’ve yet to establish their own identity. The album is free for download from their MySpace site, so you can make up your own mind.

LANGUAGE OF LANDSCAPE – Memories Fade Under A Shallow Autumn Snow (Phantom Channel)
The Phantom Channel website seems to have disappeared. I don’t know whether that means that the label has too. It would be a pity if it had as they’ve been responsible for some fine releases over the last couple of years. Memories Fade… is a collection of three lengthy pieces of gentle reflection put together by Chris Tenz and Cory Zaradzur. This is ambient music in its purest form, where things unfold at a slow pace and where silence is an integral part of the music. It’s soporific, but in a good way, with it’s own still beauty. The music’s still available for download at the Internet Archive here

IOSEB – The Ghost of Thirtythree (no label)
Ioseb are a quintet from Sweden who specialise in the epic, atmospheric end of the post-rock spectrum. The album’s title is derived from an eighteenth century tale of a supposed haunting at 33 Cock Lane near Smithfield Market in London, although the tracks themselves seem to have a World War 2 theme running through them (The Liberation of Paris, The Air Raids of Helsinki, The Planes Above etc). It’s partly instrumental, partly vocal, with the singer sounding uncomfortably close to Jonsi Birgisson. In fact, the imprint of Sigur Rós is all over this release. Still, it’s undeniably well executed.

MIDAS FALL – Eleven, Return & Revert (Monotreme)
The ghost of Bang Bang Machine hangs heavily over this Edinburgh five piece. They even have a singer called Elizabeth. Well played, well produced, well sung, and well put together, there is nevertheless something lacking here. A heart maybe? It just seems too slick and empty. There are the post rock flourishes, the odd cinematic moment, but in essence this is really just unadventurous AOR with a modernist twist. No doubt they’ll be huge, but I have to confess I found Eleven, Return and Revert terribly dull.


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