Azalia Snail has been active as a music producer and underground film maker since the 1980s and in this time her fans & collaborators have included Alan Sparhawk and Beck to name but a few.
With ‘Celestial Respect’, Snail creates a hopeful space pop melodrama, that seeks to reignite human kindness through music that feels and sounds electronic and mechanical, creating an intriguing dichotomy to muse over while listening.
‘Solar Riser’ and ‘Space Heater’ are the first two examples of this juxtaposition, with warm and good natured lyrics performed over a backdrop of retro sounding keyboard loops. ‘Space Heater’ especially invokes a kitsch and laid back sound that cosmonauts would feel comfortable laying back to after a hard day aboard a space shuttle.
‘Burnt Cookies’ follows the relaxed lo-fi trend with Snail performing part of a duet with minimal keyboard loops and guitar riffs working in tandem with a subtle slice of smooth trumpet sounds, while ‘Loveydove’ does little more than add a cheap clap sound effect into the equation. Adding to the effect that, for better or worse, ‘Celestial Respect’ blends into one deliberately cheap lo-fi dreamscape, albeit a well meaning one.
If Azalia Snail’s record is guilty of anything it is of seemingly being a prototype recording, slightly stale in its development and offering little in terms of variation. That said the influence of Azalia Snail on acts such as Beck, who have made that lo-fi space pop sound a multi-platinum investment is enough to warrant a listen. It’s just a shame that between prototype and completed record something more did not evolve to create a more memorable experience.
Megaton Leviathan hail from Portland Oregon and as their name no doubt suggests are creating sounds of a loud and coarse nature.
Indeed Megaton Leviathan infuse occult sentiment with slow and sludgy doom, encapsulating that black magic feeling that has been married so well with groups of a similar ilk before.
So what does this behemoth named group offer that’s new and refreshing? Well to be fair this is pretty much staple diet stuff, ‘Water Weath Hell on Earth’ is heavy, slow and hypnotic, doing all the right things to be a great track but at risk of sounding too similar to bands that are already secure in the scene (Ramesses comes to mind, for example).
‘Guns and LSD’ meanwhile is entwined with old school doom sentiment while at the same time powerfully contemporary in its uncompromising volume, with ‘Time Fades’ showing off the group’s ability to create an impressive wall of sound with a whirlwind of guitar, ethereal vocals and drums.
It ain’t that these guy’s aren’t good, far from it; rather that while the scene is lavishly inundated with new group after new group, Megaton Leviathan may get lost in the abyss of obscurity. That said with the band releasing their material on their own label and being very much grass roots doom, Megaton Leviathan deserve all the adoration that comes their way and then some.
A blessing of a Remora album, ‘Scars Bring Hope’ sees Brian John Mitchell bring the solo guitar drone project out of lo-fi bedroom recordings and into the studio with Brian Lea McKenzie (Of Electric Bird Noise) at the producer helm, focusing three hours worth of demo tape into a sci-fi themed concept album.
‘Awake, Arise’, thematically based around the resurrection of a soldier, has all the eeriness and creep of previous remora tracks but with a fuller richer sound thanks to some studio magic, the melancholic atmosphere ploughing steadily into ‘Don’t let me Die with a Coin in my Pocket’.
‘Does the Music’ meanwhile provides us with a somewhat off kilter approach to a love song, with the repeated lyric “does the music make you feel close enough to God to want to fuck me” overlaying a haunting organ chime, helping the track stand out from other tracks on the album while staying true to the whole’s underlining experimental outlook.
Similarly ‘Let’s Fall in Love’ channels a whiskey soaked Americana approach to romance, with Mitchell channelling the musical drunken swagger and drawl of Johnny Dowd.
Taking influence from more esoteric elements, ‘We Come From the Sea’ muses acoustically over the Cthulhu mythos, remarkably creating a powerful and poignant track despite its pulp content while ‘Static is Motion’ expresses the end times via a straight forward ambient sound space of low tones and minimal percussion with the fantastically named ‘Angel Falling Through Water’ ending the album with a thirteen minute post apocalyptic soundtrack.
Silber has been releasing content and albums that have always proven them to be a good source of contemporary abstract music, with a sound and style similar to those halcyon days of Industrial Records, here’s hoping that ‘Scars Bring Hope’ helps shine a beacon on an underrated artist as well as an underrated label.