Lowered – Lost Seas (2013, Hibernate)

20130304-165057.jpg8.5 out of 10 stars

Consensus: Lowered’s debut abandons the trend of digitally-processed classical music by using a stripped-down organic mixture of field recordings, reductive playing processes, and experimentation with microphone placement and naturally reverberant spaces, making this one of the most forward-thinking albums in the genre.

Classical music is something that is often controversial among today’s generation. Without classical music, the theories and harmonies that pervade modern popular music would never exist. The Beatles famously allude to classical music through some of the string arrangements on “Revolver”, and even Zappa composed and conducted his own orchestral compositions alongside his outsider rock and jazz tunes. On the contrary, the theories that are often brought out are so repetitive that they either lose the interest of the listener completely, or so radical that they completely scare the listener out of their mind. Most would never listen casually to Mozart or Bach just as much as they would never listen to Messiaen and Schoenberg; Radiohead and Scott Walker nevertheless are popular and bring to the listener these surreal classical influences upfront. Therefore, when popular music seems to be the biggest thing, it seems as though classical music has nothing left to offer listeners. The ideas they set about hundreds of years ago have been the formula for music ever since, so where would anything new come into place?

The irony is that modern classical music is revealing more artistically and conceptually than what its predecessors brought to the table. Technology has helped to bring classical music out of the concert hall, and into listeners’s bedrooms, while also creating a surge in using technology in composition and performance. There are millions of examples, but perhaps the most distinct is Kyle Bobby Dunn, William Basinski, and Stars of the Lid. At the core of their works is traditional and classical instrumentation, but are processed digitally to create sprawling electroacoustic landscapes. Furthermore, there are even more schools teaching electroacoustic music, which shows that the genre is slowly expanding. However, even with technology, the ideas are what is important here, because without good conceptual justifications, then the music is rendered meaningless .

Lowered is a new project by London-based artists Chris Gowers and Katie English, who individually have gained recognition under various aliases on different labels. Their debut album, “Lost Seas”, which is also the first in a new vinyl series for Hibernate, consists mainly of the same modern classical music mentioned earlier. However, what makes “Lost Seas” stand out is that technology is heavily stripped down on this album. No digital effects processing was used, so therefore, the droning electronic soundscapes of the previously stated composers are not found here. There are drones here, though. Lots of it, but not in the way you would expect.

The opener, “Latitude 33 Degrees North, Longitude 40 Degrees West”, begins with the sound of the shore on Brighton Beach. The howling wind and the rough washes of waves across the sand helps to put the listener into a state of mind. A dissonant wash of sound weaves in and out of the mix before a lone cello sustains haunting notes, slowly revealing the melody over several minutes. The cello harmonizes with itself as well, creating a very melancholic mood before, in the end, it is swept up by the sea. The whole atmosphere surprisingly resembles any of Morton Feldman’s later long-form string pieces, or even one of the albums in Brian Eno’s Ambient series. “Movement of Slowly Dying Waves” is even more dramatic and somber, with a slowly evolving cello drone sustaining underneath like a storm in the distance. A piano then enters, playing soft chords and little melodies overtop, almost like in Arvo Pärt’s tinntabulation compositions. Later on, the waves slowly roll back in, which slowly swallow up the instruments, even as new lines in the piano play. “Low Tide” begins with the same dissonant drone that opened up the first piece, with a piano adding flourishes in the space between the cello and gong drones. The effect is pretty unsettling. “Adrift” begins with a clarinet and cello drone flowing overtop a field recording of crackling and percussive hits. The drones slowly move downward as the piece progresses. “Acceptance” is more or less the same piano-cello drone combo, except that it sounds more like some sort of melancholic church hymnal rather than trying to create an atmosphere. The final title track has another cello drone in it, but the piano plays out chords. The individual notes of these chords are then echoed by other layers of cellos, creating this ethereal reverberation that hasn’t been heard much in classical music before. Gongs silently add to the mix, which overall creates this beautiful ritualistic sound that sounds both ancient and futuristic, as though it is not of this world. What’s also delightfully strange is that the gong’s pitch sounds exactly like a distant buoy swaying in the ocean, which further gives meaning to why the album is called “Lost Seas”. It’s meditative, introspective, and yearns for longing and meaning as humanity is swept up day by day in these lost seas of depressive emotions. There’s furthermore upright bass and distant crash cymbals that further create an oceanic feel. Overall, the ending track is quite a harrowing composition.

Musically, “Lost Seas” sounds like any other droning modern classical album. Where Lowered draws the line, however, is in their decision to abandon digital effects. The album solely relies on compositional techniques, microphone placement, and natural acoustics to achieve similar soundscapes. All of this, however, adds up to an intricately textured album whose compositions delicately evolve. There’s no rush with what is going on musically. The compositions flow patiently and naturally like the waves of the sea. In the end, if listeners are willing to take the time to immerse themselves patiently in such an experience, then “Lost Seas” is certainly worth a listen. This is one of the most unique and forward-thinking albums in the modern classical genre to date, proving that technology cannot always put a gauze over raw compositional beauty. Nature must run its course, and Lowered lets classical music loose on that course.

Album: Lost Seas

Artist: Lowered

Genre: Modern classical/ambient/drone

To be available in a limited vinyl run of 150 this month. See Hibernate’s website for updates.

Matthew Collings – Splintered Instruments (2012, Fluid Audio)

20130303-153657.jpg 7 out of 10 stars

Consensus: On his debut album, Matthew Collings creates an electro-acoustic world of melancholically melodic and neoclassically-tinted ambient-noise rock soundscapes, which are also harrowingly intense and full of enough raw emotion that makes “Splintered Instruments” stand out slightly from the crowd.

The world can be a terrifying place. History has proven this time and time again. As humans, we have allowed ourselves to co-exist in societies and governments, working together to protect the lives and rights of one another. However, just as we can co-exist with one another, we despise one another. Mankind is inherently evil, as all men were born sinners, and just as we can show a force of compassion and love, an equally violent and reckoning force is waiting to cause the nuclear apocalypse of billions of innocent people around the world.

In the same way that these forces equal one another, so do the forces between ambient and rock music. Ambient music is often meant to be an indirect haze of emotion, devoid of rhythm and form. Whether these emotions are happy or sad, they mostly tend to have a calming, healthy effect on listeners, putting them in a better state of mind. Ambient music, though, is a niche genre, as most people do not want to spend a minute listening to something that calms themselves down. Instead, they want something upbeat and to the point. At its most accessible, rock music fills that void, as billions of listeners hear its direct lyricism and simple three-chord structures everyday. In the last few years, the two genres have somewhat coincided with each other, but they have never fully impacted one another to create something different.

Now comes Edinburgh-based producer and composer Matthew Collings, whose debut album “Splinted Instruments” addresses the distinction between neoclassical ambience and disturbing rock directness. Collings stated that he felt a violent force inside himself his entire life, and that he wanted to finally get it out of himself. Collings isn’t the first to feel this intense force; sound artists and musicians like Michael Gira (Swans), Ben Frost, Merzbow, and Lustmord have dedicated their lives to creating intense emotional soundscapes that sometimes transcends the relationship between sound and its physical properties. Collings, however, has created an album that is intensely emotional and sonically disturbing, but also creates a vein of melancholy and accessibility that ambient music rarely sees.

The soundscapes are vast and immense, partially helped by the contributing musicians and the post-production mastering taken by Ben Frost and James Plotkin on this album. Noisy shoegaze guitar, broken vocals, ethereal bells and strings, skittering percussion, and harsh electronic noise permeate most of the first half of the album. Whether it’s the rigid beat opening “Valisia”, the incredible strings and guitar textures in “Subway”, or the massive dissonant crescendo leading to the unnerving and literally bone-crushing crunch in “Crows”, Collings shows that his music is not a force to be reckoned with. Only the strong survive halfway through the journey. The second-half, however, is more beautiful and melancholic. Violins, vocals, piano, and a clarinet provide an excellent acoustic counterpoint to the rather icy electronics in “Pneumonia”. “Paris is Burning”, however, plays the same melancholic texture with upbeat rickety percussion and heavy guitar processing. If anything, this song should be the backdrop to an extended chase sequence that reveals something about the life of mankind. The last song, “Routine”, is even more sorrowful. The saddening electronic drone that opens the piece suggests a guilty state of mind. The prepared piano and resonant percussion later on even worsen the feeling. At it’s conclusion, the broken trumpet-trombone duo even further reveal that even at mankind’s more civilized nature, there’s still an animal inside, waiting to get out.

In conclusion, “Splintered Instruments” is an album that is certainly enjoyable and succeeds in its musical ideas and raw, unfiltered emotion. Collings proves himself to be a composer with a keen ear for sound design and melancholic melodies,smoke of which makes the album stand out slightly. Those who are already well versed in this niche, however, may find the album’s sound to only last for a few short listens before they want to hear something a little more extreme. For Collings, however, this is certainly a great stepping stone, and one that will hopefully lead him to explore more sonic textures and emotion. If an even deadlier force is eager to come out of him, then who knows what sort of music will come out next. Certainly worth a listen.

Album: Splintered Instruments

Artist: Matthew Collings

Genre: Neoclassical ambient industrial/noise rock

Now available to purchase either digitally or in a beautiful physical package via Matthew Collings’s official site.

My Bloody Valentine – m b v (2013, Self-Released)

10 out of 10 stars

Consensus: After 21 years, My Bloody Valentine delivers the long-awaited follow-up to their 1991 seminal masterpiece “Loveless”. It’s not only well worth the wait, but at times, it even exceeds “Loveless” and proves to be quite possibly album of the year.


Hopefully, My Bloody Valentine needs no introduction. The Irish alternative rock group has been around since 1983, and at a time, with only two albums under their belt, they became one of the most influential bands of the 1990s. In particular, 1991’s “Loveless” is considered by some to be the best album of the ’90s, with many preferring the album’s surreal hazy guitar work and psychedelic production over the simple punk rock tunes of Green Day, early Radiohead, and the Seattle grunge of Nirvana. “Loveless” literally raised the bar of what was previously thought possible in rock music, and was said to be the seminal album of a new genre called “shoegazing”.

“Loveless”, as said, came out in 1991…21 years ago. For a long time, there had been rumors of a successor to “Loveless”, but Kevin Shields, the founder of MBV, had driven himself insane trying to create something better than their critically acclaimed masterpiece. It’s said that he had recorded and shelved several albums’ worth of songs between 1996 and 1997, and every time he had prepared a deadline for the new album’s release, it would never show. The band broke up, but later reunited for a tour in 2008, gaining new fans. Around that time, Shields claimed that a new album was in the works, but it still left one question unanswered: When would it materialize?

Last November, Shields announced there would be a new album by the end of the year. It never happened. However, a Facebook post on December 21st claimed the album was fully mastered and ready for release, and last Sunday, Shields announced the album’s release to be within two or three days at a warm-up show in London. Since then, the excitement has grown, with everyone wondering if they will actually get to see the day when a new MBV album arrives.

Luckily, in our day and age, it’s very easy to announce and release an album without the help of a record label and traditional marketing. Radiohead and countless other artists have proved this with flying colors. Almost 24 hours ago, MBV announced they were preparing their new website and were releasing the album at midnight GMT. After several server crashes from hungry fans, petitions for the White House to fix the website, countless Twitter and Facebook rants, and the active competition for major music news publications to get on the action, the new album, “m b v”, finally materialized, 21 years later after “Loveless”.

Now with the new album finally out, several questions are emerging from fans and critics alike: Is this album worth the 21 year wait? Is “m b v” better than “Loveless”? Is this a good contender for the best album of 2013?

For me, it’s YES. A HUGE YES at best.

The opening track “She Found Now” is not at all the hard-hitting “Only Shallow” that opened “Loveless”, but rather a beautiful and blissful acoustic-like shoegaze ballad akin to “Sometimes”. To me, there is no better way to begin “m b v” than to start quiet. The next track, “Only Tomorrow”, still has a subdued mood, but the distorted glide guitar riffs, the angular chord progression, the quiet repeating drum loop, and Bilinda Butcher’s dreamy vocals sound as though it could have existed in the world of 1990s dreampop or a Slowdive album. Furthermore, the track feels as though it could be some sort of jazz fusion tune at times, with the strangely intriguing and evolving chord progression that occurs throughout. “Who Sees You”, however, is a huge reminder to audiences why MBV is so influential. The haunting vocal melodies, the warbling and jazzy summer-like guitar progression, and the distorted drumming…if anything, it reminds me a lot of Boards of Canada. MBV was a huge influence on BoC, but if listeners of both groups couldn’t pick out the direct influence before, then this song will make everyone see just how influential this band truly is on today’s musical landscape. Furthermore, it’s also one of my favorite tracks off the album, and I especially love how the track just ends unexpectedly, sort of like the opener track off of Portishead’s “Third”.

“Is This and Yes” is a mellow soundscape that brings the album back to a quiet state with an electronic organ drone, a soft drum beat, and Butcher’s haunting vocals. It sounds more like a filler track to me, but in all honesty, it’s a filler track that works wonderfully and sounds absolutely gorgeous. “If I Am” then brings back the smooth jamming of the second track, but with an awesome sounding wah-wah guitar that is unlike any other guitar sound I have ever heard in my life. It’s sounds as though it was taken from a funk record in the 70s, but with loads of reverb and distortion put on the guitar sound before the wah-wah pedal. It’s a pretty surreal effect, but ultimately a sonic effect that I enjoy a lot. The next track, “New You”, is a song many fans might recognize, as the band opened their warm-up gig in London last Sunday with this track. The driving, dance-able drum and bass groove is unmistakably 90s indie-dance sounding, with catchy vocal harmonies, subdued guitar effects, and a haunting flute-like melody. The whole track could technically be 2013’s “Soon”, except that the album doesn’t end here.

It’s important for me to note that at times, the first half of the album sounds as though it could have been released two or three years after “Loveless”. After all, how many of these tracks are actually new tracks from the past year or two? It’s hard to tell, but it’s very possible that some of these tracks are from 15 years ago, when Shields first tried to record the new album. Sound-wise, though, the mix sounds a little clearer, with the vocals more upfront and the drum beats cutting through the mix in comparison to having the guitar “layers” covering everything. Although, on “If I Am”, the mix sounds pretty similar to “Loveless”, which is pretty nice to hear considering that the album so far lacks any ground-breaking sounds. However, where it lacks sound-focused songwriting, it excels as far as progressions and melodies go. Regardless, this is some of the best music I’ve heard in a very long time.

“In Another Way”, however, is where the band starts to move past what they started on “Loveless”. The freaky high-pitched guitar noise at the beginning of the track is something I haven’t heard since MBV’s “Ain’t Anything” phase, and as a whole, the track is pretty piercing loud. Shield’s brand of glide guitar is present as ever, as is the loud drum beats and Butcher’s haunting melodies. However, the track also seems to evoke old Irish/Celtic folk tunes, with the main synth string melody sounding heroic, but at the same time possessing a sense of yearning and melancholy. I actually almost cried during this melody. It just brings out a lot of emotions in me. “Nothing Is”, however, is a MONSTER of a track. If you try to imagine how the looping drum beat and the guitar riff would sound live, well, then you’d probably see MBV moving into a direction akin to industrial noise groups like Swans (I’m specifically thinking of their “Mother of the World” track from last year’s “The Seer”) and the early hypnotic rock rhythms of The Velvet Underground. What’s important here, though, is the crescendo throughout the track. The last time I heard a crescendo this loud in music was in the works of Ben Frost, Glenn Branca, and Rhys Chatham. It’s just awe-inspiring.

Finally, we reach the end with “Wonder 2″…if “Soon” was one of the best endings to a rock album ever, then “Wonder 2” is about to beat it and all other album endings by a LONG shot. It’s rumored that Kevin Shields had made an album with drum and bass influences on it, but on this track, that rumor becomes true as day. The break-beat throughout is smothered with psychedelic flangers and phasers, as well as a TON of distortion. Also, it sounds as though there are several guitar layers on the track, just like what people thought with “Loveless”. When all these layers come together, along with Shields’s vocal melodies, the outcome is just an unexpectedly strange and beautiful conclusion to an already great album. I wouldn’t be surprised if Aphex Twin and a few other left-field DJs played this track out to audiences live at festivals, as it would certainly be a great fit to their sets. The final minute, however, is just insane, in that the track crescendos and the layers mutate together to create something completely mind-blowing and out of this world. Finally, the windy, resonant break-beat is all that is left, in that it continues to build until, like the third track, it suddenly stops, opening up a vacuum of silence to signify the album’s end.

Is it possible that “m b v” sounds as though it could have been released YEARS ago? Perhaps, but it’s understandable that Shields was determined to create an album that does not follow the third album trap of being worse than MBV’s previous works. Some people may think that “m b v” isn’t as strong as MBV’s albums 21 years ago, but to me, this album is a very logical progression of what the band is all about. For some people, “m b v” might not be better than “Loveless” and may not have been worth the long wait, but in my honest opinion, “m b v” is one of the best albums I’ve heard in a very long time. Where MBV doesn’t expand on their palette of sounds, instead, they improve on their songwriting and create hands-down the best songs of their career, and possibly some of the best songs ever written in rock and pop music. But when the band does expand on their sounds in the last half of the album, they absolutely kill the competition of creativity in rock music, and have once again raised the bar and sit high on a pedestal in the alternative rock scene.

“m b v” might not be an instantly memorable album for some listeners, and most regular rock and pop listeners will not understand the hype behind My Bloody Valentine, especially if they never understood “Loveless”. What’s important, though, is that My Bloody Valentine did not intend to make “Loveless 2”. They instead wanted to remind the world who they are as a band, and right at the end, they showcase in several new colors why they are one of the most influential rock bands in recent history. “m b v” fulfills all of that and more, and even if most people don’t understand it, the album is certainly the most unusual rock album of 2013, just as “Loveless” was the most unusual rock album of the 1990s. It’s quite simply not possible for any album released this year, nor any release of the past decade, to have the attention to detail, the amount of catchy musical moments, and the sheer mind-blowing and forward-thinking creativity that “m b v” already has. I can guarantee you all that.

This is without a doubt the best album of 2013 (note: I didn’t say that this the best of the year so far…I mean that literally, this is as good as music will probably get this year, and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who has put this album on a pedestal), and so far, the best album of the millennium. Every person should stop what they’re doing at this moment and listen to it. Even if they don’t understand MBV or like the album after listening to it, at least they took the chance to listen. This is an album that is worth 46 minutes of your time. Don’t hesitate on it.

Album: m b v

Artist: My Bloody Valentine

Genre: Alternative rock/shoegazing/dream pop/industrial post-rock/drum and bass (on the last track)

Self-released on February 3rd (UK) and February 2nd (US) via MBV’s official site.

2011 in Review for the Blog


I know, I haven’t posted any new reviews since September. I’ve simply been way too busy to keep up here! However, I can assure all of you that regardless of my lack of reviewing, I still have been listening to the latest releases…so many, in fact, that I’m not sure what albums I would post in my top 10 for this year! However, before 2011 ends, I wanted to share with all of you this annual report for the Death of CDs…this is how we did in 2011…the results are astounding.

Thank you all for making great music and keeping up on this site! Hopefully, next year, you can expect more reviews and, hopefully, more great music! Have a great New Year everyone!

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 10,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Porter Robinson – Spitfire (2011, OWSLA)

Last year, a new face appeared in the electronic music world. He once had a past life as Ekowraith, making hands up and eurodance tunes that were having some success in the German club scene, but once that scene started to die, Ekowraith died with it and was reincarnated into something completely unexpected. His new persona had literally appeared out of nowhere with a single on Beatport, which had unexpectedly risen to #1 in the Electro House charts, which in turn already won the support of legendary producers like Tiesto, Paul Van Dyk, David Guetta, The Crystal Method and Armand Van Helden. The strange thing about this success? At the time, the young producer had never set foot into a club before, as well as he was still a senior in high school when the single had blown up worldwide. In the past year, he started touring with artists like Zedd and Skrillex, doing gigs at huge festivals such as Ultra Music Festival and Beyond Wonderland, already had done remixes for Lady Gaga and Innerpartysystem, and had most recently been signed to Skrillex’s record label, OWSLA.  His name is Porter Robinson, and his debut EP is called “Spitfire”. This is the moment thousands of Porter Robinson fans have been waiting for, and I can honestly say that Porter rarely disappoints with this release. If anything, he has delivered perhaps the biggest sought-over EP in the electronic music scene since Skrillex’s “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites”. “Spitfire” contains 6 original tracks and 5 remixes spanning electro house, dubstep, moombahton, progressive house, and even drumstep, and they are some of the dirtiest and most aggressive tracks I’ve heard in a long time. 19 year-old Porter shows an extremely keen ear for producing intense basslines, heavy beats, and euphoric synths, and the sounds he creates are extremely original. Not once will you hear a sound that has already been used in the EDM scene, and in many ways, it’s a very refreshing change. If Porter is creating material like this after graduating high school, who knows what kind of music he’ll be making after he graduates college?

The EP begins with a bang literally with the title track, as fluttering arpeggios, weird organ-like samples, and strings build up the suspense alongside bass hits, snare rushes, and noise sweeps before the drop, which showcases a massive wobble bass and dubstep beat, along with some synth flourishes here and there. The break features a music box melody and some vocal samples before reintroducing the arpeggios and building up to the second drop, which introduces an electro house beat alongside the glitchy synthesizers and massive basslines before heading back into dubstep territory. Overall, it’s one of the strongest openings possible for an EP, and I’m sure it will become more and more played by DJs everywhere. The second track, “Unison”, is an electro house track that is simply classic Porter Robinson, in terms of his hit “Say My Name”. A strong lead melody and huge sawtooth chords are dominant here, as well as more of the glitchy synths and huge basslines are showcased in both of the drops. There are also more of the stuttered vocal samples here as well. The third track, “100% in the B****”, is Porter’s first released venture into moombahton. With a reggae beat at 108 BPM, Porter shows his own style of the genre, with dutch house-like synths and dirty basslines and an explicit vocal sample that makes the track even more filthier. I haven’t liked what I’ve heard out of the whole moombahton scene myself, but this is one of the first moombahton tracks that actually does it for me. So, Porter, thank you for making moombahton sound great. It was a great idea in the first place, but you’ve taken it to another level that actually makes moombahton sound exciting and accessible. Kudos to you. The fourth track, “Vandalism”, features the vocals of Amba Shepherd, who does an amazing vocal performance over top of Porter’s swinging house beat, euphoric synths, and glitchy basslines. Until now, with the exception of the remixes he has made, Porter has never incorporated vocals into his work, but both Amba and Porter pull it off well. I also expect this track to do well in the clubs. The fifth track, “The State”, is purely a dirty dubstep banger, filled with more insane basslines, robotic vocal samples, as well as some Middle Eastern flair. There are also influences from video game soundtracks hidden in the mix as well, such as in the second drop, which features a lo-fi synth sample that sounds as though it could’ve been used in Super Mario Bros. back in the 80s. Porter has been dropping this track into his sets ever since its first appearance at Beyond Wonderland, and everyone has been going insane over it, so it’s already a hit of sorts, alongside “Spitfire” and “Unison”. The last original track of the EP, “The Seconds”, features another nice vocal performance, though this time by Jano, who gives the song an airy side that none of the other tracks show. Porter produces some progressive house synths similar to Skrillex’s “All I Ask Of You,” though his usual arsenal of basses and glitch elements are still present as ever, as well as at one point, some huge trance chords build up the track to soaring heights. It ends the original tracks section of the EP very nicely, and really has a great drop that matches or even betters the intensity of the previous tracks.

The other 5 tracks of the EP are remixes of Porter’s tracks on the EP. The first remix is by Knife Party, the duo of Rob Swire and Garreth Gareth McGrillen from Pendulum, of the track “Unison”, which features a sort of moombahton vibe of 108 BPM, and features the original synth melody rendered through their arsenal of synths and piano. However, the drop features swinging wobble basses and huge screaming leads that really brings another dynamic to the original track. The second remix is also of “Unison”, remixed by Mikkas. The track retains the same synths from the original while adding its own brand of glitched basslines and synths over an electro house beat. It also features huge trance leads with a new variation of the original melody over top of the complextro madness occuring, which gives a nice touch to the original. The third remix is of “100% in the B****”, remixed by the dubstep producer Downlink, which retains the vocal line and the moombahton beat while introducing huge wobble basses and crazy synth effects. The fourth remix is of “The State”, remixed by dubstep producer SKisM, starts out with a nice beat and ambient Middle Eastern sounding synths, as well as a great vocal sample that works well with the Arabic feel, before building up into an assault of sidechained synths and hectic basslines. The fifth and final remix is of “Spitfire”, remixed by Kill The Noise, who takes the original dubstep track, and speeds it up into drumstep territory, beginning with the famous arpeggio melody and some pads, before building up the track with a preview of the insane basslines that are to come, along with a filtered drum and bass beat. When the drop happens, it really pushes the original into new territories, with a dubstep beat, huge basslines, and the original chords playing in the background. The second drop also features more madness, with a drum and bass beat and more wobble bass madness occuring. Overall, each of the remixers have done a great job with reinterpreting the original songs into their own unique styles, and they really breathe new life into the originals as well at times.

In conclusion? Porter Robinson’s “Spitfire” is probably one of the most anticipated electronic music releases of the year. This 19 year-old producer is really putting his own spin on the EDM scene, with a completely original and intense sound that works great for the dancefloor. Not every track on the EP is great, I’ll admit, but all of them have completely blown away any expectations that I had for the EP, and as a plus, each track are potential singles overall. If you’re afraid that Porter Robinson has held anything back for this release, don’t be. If anything, Porter has pulled out all the stops, no holds barred here. Many legendary producers like Tiesto and BT are raving Porter’s music, and it’s understandable why on this debut EP. Porter has clearly spent an enormous amount of time into every note, every beat, and every detail on this EP, as have the vocalists and the remixers that are featured here as well, and in the end, he transcends the belief that electronic music takes no talent to make, and that all it takes is pressing the play button, and the computer does it for you. If anyone believes that and says it vocally, this EP is guaranteed to shut them up, perhaps for good. If you haven’t heard of Porter before, you’re about to, because he is about to become one of the biggest producers in the EDM world due to this release. It’s just that good. Highly recommended listening. 9.7 out of 10 stars.

Title: Spitfire

Artist: Porter Robinson

Genre: Electro House/Dubstep/Trance/Moombahton

Released September 13th, 2011 by OWSLA

You can buy the release on Beatport, as well as stream the new EP now until its release: http://grooveshark.com/#/theme/spitfire/390

Airplanes Over Johannesburg – These Figures In The Shadows, These Friends Of Mine (2011, Self-Released)

I hope everyone has been having a great summer. Even though I am still, as of now, very far behind on this site, I’m still very much in tune to the latest music, and have also been buying some music myself. As I said before, it is hard to respond to every submission. I know every reviewing site, even Pitchfork, claim that they get a lot of submissions, but now, I have a deep respect for each and everyone of them, seeing now how many submissions I have received. I am very grateful that you have chosen The Death of CDs to help promote your latest release, and I promise to get back to as many submissions that I can.

So, what woke me out of the long sleep of reviewing music? A new EP from the post-rock project Airplanes Over Johannesburg, “These Figures In The Shadows, These Friends Of Mine”. Airplanes Over Johannesburg is no stranger to The Death of CDs, as I reviewed his debut EP, and whereas I didn’t like it as much as I had hoped, the ideas on the EP were very strong, and as a whole, it made for a great introduction to his music. This new EP was written around the same period as the last EP, but there is something definitely new about this one. Whereas the last EP focused mainly on hypnotic, minimalist guitar riffs, with some variety in melodies, instrumentation, and harmonies, this EP adds even more instrumentation and layers of riffs, which sound altogether cinematic and emotional. Overall, it’s definitely an improvement to the last EP, even right from the first minute.

The EP begins with “D28K”, a delightfully cinematic and uplifting composition filled with piano, music boxes, synthesized strings, and fantasy-like percussion, also held together by a somewhat off-kilter guitar riff plays underneath. Distorted guitar hits and tremolo-picked, almost tabla-sounding clean guitar riffs enter later on, picking up speed near the end of the track and multiplying in layers, and ending out nicely. “Standoff In A Haunted House” has some of the same instrumentation, with the basic guitar riffs, music box hits, and more synthesized strings, but it also has a much darker tone, filled with ominous drones underneath and, whether or not it was intentional, some of the guitar riffs in the middle of the track sound out-of-tune, but as they are played, they sound more attuned to some exotic microtonal scale from another country than to simply have been bad tuning on the guitarist’s part, which in many ways makes the track a much more interesting listen. “Hello Child, Can You Hear Me?” begins with a haunting music box melody and soft string pads, before a very beautiful guitar melody and ringing chimes open the track up to a whole new sonic plane. Halfway through the track, more guitar riffs and variation occur before right around the end, a deafening screech of feedback gives way to heavily distorted guitar riffs that push the track to yet another sonic plane before segueing into the classically-influenced synth strings and beautiful guitar harmonies on “An End To A Beginning”. Here, the track dies down to minimal guitar riffs and huge reverberated drum hits, which over time with each layer of guitar and synthesized strings build up to become a very beautiful wall of sound, in which it dies down to end out this EP.

Overall, Airplanes Over Johannesburg’s “These Figures In The Shadows, These Friends Of Mine” shows great improvements over their debut EP. Whereas the former included very minimalist and hypnotic clean guitar loops (and some distortion), drums, and some string work here and there, this EP contains more variety in instrumentation, more harmonies, more effects, and a much clearer song structure, which makes much of this EP sound as close to being cinematic as possible. The minimalism is still here, in that the basic ideas for riffs sound great, but the ideas here are fleshed out, and are almost always built up by more melodies and riffs to make that idea sound even more gorgeous, instead of being looped in an hypnotic fashion on the last EP. I chose to follow Airplanes Over Johannesburg to see where it might head in the future, and I’m glad I did, because I am really enjoying this EP. 8.5 out of 10 stars.

Album: These Figures In The Shadows, These Friends Of Mine

Artist: Airplanes Over Johannesburg

Genre: Experimental post-rock

Self-released in 2011

You can download the EP here!: http://www.mediafire.com/?cr3fdc21dfdvmeg

Sorry for the lack of reviews…

I’m hoping that you are all having an enjoyable summer so far, and have been enjoying some great music. I know I have. I was expecting to get a lot of reviews done this summer, but unfortunately, I’ve only had about 3 done, and we’re halfway through already. Also, I have some submissions in my inbox which I have been listening to recently and will be getting reviews done for, but it may be a while. Some who have submitted music to me from back since who knows when have been very patient, and I thank them for that. I’m only asking for some more patience before I can get around to it. I’ve been very busy in my personal life with new jobs, errands, vacations, and even writing and releasing my own music as well (if you are interested in hearing it, click here). I’ve also been buying and listening to a lot of music as well, and have been trying to catch up and at the same time been gathering thoughts on the music as well. It will take me probably a few more weeks to get back into it, but eventually, there will be more reviews. I’m sorry again if I have kept you waiting. Then again, anticipation also makes waiting all the more fun. I will be returning within a few weeks with some more music reviews and so forth. Just be patient as I try to catch up. Also, for the time being, I ask that those who want to submit music to me for review please wait until I have caught up. I appreciate that you are looking for reviews, and I also hope to bring new and upcoming musicians more exposure. But for now, I am just way too busy trying to catch up with other reviews. In the meanwhile, please continue enjoying your summer! Hopefully, I will have some great music to share with you in the coming weeks! Thanks and take care!


Washed Out – Within and Without (2011, Sub Pop)

Two summers ago, a young man named Ernest Greene moved back to his parents’ home in a peach grove in Perry, Georgia after obtaining a few college degrees, including both Bachelors and Masters in the field of library sciences. At 26 years old and unemployed, he spent the summer looking for jobs, e-mailing resumes to employers, and trying to save money for his wedding at the time of a falling economy. However, nighttime was a different story. When his parents were asleep, Ernest would stay up in his bedroom, making beautifully lo-fi ambient pop tracks with uplifting lyrics that were directed at trying to keep himself positive in hard times. He had been making tracks on his own for years, as well as having collaborated with others (including the popular Chaz Bundwick a.k.a. Toro Y Moi), but had always considered it a hobby. He posted the tracks on his MySpace, and wasn’t expecting any kind of popularity. No publicity, no record deals, nothing. However, in the following weeks, something extraordinary happened. Blogs started to pick up on Ernest’s woozy dance music, unofficial music videos of his tracks showing the uttermost perfect summer days began to circulate, the labels Mexican Summer and Mirror Universe Tapes released his first two EPs, and he had begun to perform live at venues, both solo and with backing band Small Black. He was even proclaimed to be one of the leading artists in the hugely debated chillwave genre, whose artists make psychedelic ambient dance-pop songs with a huge 80s influence. However, since 2010, nothing much had been heard about Washed Out. He still performed live, but as far as any news of more EPs or even an album, nothing had been said. That all changed earlier this year, when it was announced that Ernest had been signed to the hugely successful label Sub Pop, and that his debut album, “Within and Without”, would be released in July, smack dab in the middle of one of the hottest months of the year. It was also revealed that the album had been recorded with Ben H. Allen, who had also recorded Deerhunter’s “Halcyon Digest”, Animal Collective’s “Merriweather Post Pavilion”, and Gnarls Barkley’s “St. Elsewhere”. Suddenly, Washed Out’s debut album became the most anticipated album of the year. Singles became released, as well as one short teaser featuring scenes that seem to be influenced directly by David Lynch’s “Lost Highway”. How a humble Georgia guy who recorded in his bedroom for years turned into one of the biggest artists in recent years is certainly a surreal story, but it happened and now, Ernest happily has a job: making music and touring it in front of thousands of fans. However, his debut album, “Within and Without”, even with all of his success and popularity, still stays true to the music that started it all. There’s more instrumentation and complex arrangements, as well as a polished studio quality to the tracks instead of the lo-fi bedroom sound of his earlier tracks, but in spite of all of this, Ernest’s soft and beautiful vocal harmonies, the chilled atmospherics, the 80s style basses and synths, as well as the dance beats are no different than what we’ve heard before. They’re just merely enhanced. If you’re looking for the best album of the summer, Washed Out’s “Within and Without” will make you stop to look any further. It’s just that good.

The album begins with “Eyes Be Closed”, which is also the first single that was released from the album. It begins with huge, echoing synths and a smooth beat before exploding into warm basslines and complex ambient instrumentation filling every corner of the mix. Ernest’s vocal harmonies here are about as beautiful as always, perhaps even more than we’ve previously known them to be before. Tropical percussion and a sort of African atmosphere also seems to be present here, which only gives the song even more of that perfect summer sound. It is pretty much one of the best songs I’ve ever heard an album start out with. The next track, “Echoes”, contrasts with the light, uplifting atmosphere of the first track with dark synthesizer harmonies, huge dance beats, strange percussion samples, and almost unintelligible vocal harmonies, furthermore filled in a sort of dark reverb. However, it still fits in with the aesthetic of most of Ernest’s tracks, and still emerges as having that perfect summer mood. “Amor Fati” is pretty much a track that I could imagine being played at the beach. The uplifting atmosphere, the beautiful vocal harmonies, the smooth dance beats, and the 80s influence in the rhythmic, almost tropical-like synths and the moving basslines just work well during a gleaming and blazing hot summer day. It’s just perfect. “Soft” is about as ambient as it gets on this album. The psychedelic shoegazy pads that open it up is incredible, along with the reverberated vocal harmonies, the smooth bassline, and the highly energized beats that continue throughout the track. However, as energized as it gets, the song is still pretty chill and relaxing. The warped synth introduction of “Far Away” definitely shows that as polished as this album is, a bit of that lo-fi bedroom sound is still present in the mix. There is also, for the first time in Washed Out’s tracks, some beautiful xylophone and string melodies. It almost reminds me of some of Radiohead’s works, perhaps from either “In Rainbows” or “OK Computer”. Nevertheless, it is still a beautiful track, and certainly just makes the atmosphere even more chilled. “Before” begins with ambient synths and distant percussion before heading into a sort of hip-hop influenced beat, along with more of Ernest’s soft vocal harmonies. Hip-hop has influenced Ernest’s compositions in some way, and on this track, it’s no exception, even with as beautifully chill as the track is. “You and I” is a track that was released last year by Adult Swim, which also features Caroline Polachek of Chairlift contributing some vocals. However, Ernest remixed the song for this album, giving it a clearer studio quality in comparison to the lo-fi production that the track initially had. Nevertheless, this version of the song is just as dreamy and vague as the original, with its hip-hop beats, dub/reggae-like bassline, and of course, the ambient synths and the beautiful vocals. Also, it is nice to note that this version is longer than the original. It just means more to enjoy of Washed Out’s style. The title track “Within and Without” begins with downtempo beats, a smooth bassline, and what sounds to be the synths from “Amor Fati” slowed down a bit for this track. There is also a piano sample running throughout the track, along with Ernest’s very soft and emotional vocals. The end of the track also features some dreamy arpeggios, which was also previously heard in the teaser video for the album. The last track, “A Dedication”, begins with simply a warped piano melody along with Ernest’s spacious vocals, which proves that he can actually sing. There are also some beautiful vocal harmonies in the mix at times, along with this ambient stab that seems to intrude at times, giving the track more of that hip-hop influence. A beat does come in, but it never interferes with the introspective atmosphere that Ernest creates in this track. The track overall proves to be the perfect ending to this unfortunately only 40 minute long album.

Washed Out’s “Within and Without” is pretty much the best album of the summer. It’s chilled out atmosphere is the perfect contrast to a hot and humid day. It’s perfect listening for when you’re at the beach, riding around town in the car, laying by the poolside, or perhaps just to listen to while inside cooling off. It also proves to be at the same time a dance album that is meant for the clubs, and on big speakers, in terms of the deep basslines and highly energized beats, though it’s not exactly the kind of album you would expect to hear on the dancefloor. Ernest’s soft and beautiful vocal harmonies are fabulous on this album, the arrangement of ambient sounds and samples proves that Ernest is quite a great composer, and the production is spot on and polished, though some fans may wish that the lo-fi bedroom sound of Ernest’s past two EPs were still present on this album. I only have one complaint about this album: I wish it were longer! However, for a debut album, this is not that much of a problem. Just the fact that it’s a new Washed Out album, there are brand new tracks (with the exception of “You and I”) that each have their own distinctive quality and are pretty much all great throughout, and that it is released during the hottest time of the year is good enough for me. Highly recommended listening. 9.5 out of 10 stars.

Album: Within and Without

Artist: Washed Out

Genre: Alternative pop/ambient/”chillwave” (if you think it’s a real genre)

Released in 2011 by Sub Pop

Available now at all major retailers!

August Burns Red – Leveler (2011, Solid State)

Before I begin this review, I would like to thank all of you who have supported this site in one way or another. Those of you who have read the reviews, as well as those of you who have taken the challenge to actually submit music for review. I still have, as of this point, 6 or 7 submitted albums to check out, which have added up since April or May. I am also thanking those who have submitted for patiently waiting for me to get around to their stuff. It’s taken a long while, but I hope to be caught up by the end of the month. But for now, I have to yet again postpone some reviews because of this monster. Yes, it’s a monster. It’s probably one of the most anticipated albums of the year for me, at least in the metal genre. I love August Burns Red, the metalcore band from Lancaster, PA. Jake’s screamed vocals take metalcore to a new sonic plane, JB and Brent’s guitar playing are lightning fast and yet are so in sync that it’s insane, Dustin’s bass adds the perfect low end to the music, and Matt’s drumming is so technical but exciting that, well, his drumming in general is some of the best in the genre. Each release they’ve come out with has progressed tremendously, moving from general heavy metalcore into melodic guitar riffs that reference to post-rock bands such as Explosions in the Sky. The lyrics have matured, the musicality has become more technical and well thought-out, and as a whole, the band has pretty much pushed themselves to break as many rules as possible, but yet still make an accessible sound without letting the fame and fortune go to their heads. Now, their latest release, “Leveler”, which came out today, is pretty much their best record yet. It moves backwards into the heavier territory of “Thrill Seeker” and “Messengers”, but at the same time pushes forward the melodic post-rock riffs from “Constellations” and moves even further into territories that the band hasn’t even explored yet…until now. Most of the metalcore genre has gone downhill in the past few years, and besides perhaps Bring Me the Horizon’s last album, “There Is a Hell, Believe Me, I’ve Seen It. There Is a Heaven, Let’s Keep It a Secret”, which pushed the metalcore sound into more experimental territories such as glitched choirs and other elements, courtesy of Sonny Moore a.k.a. Skrillex, the metalcore sound seemed to become so general and predictable. “Leveler”, however, is metalcore’s salvation. August Burns Red are at their best here, and in my opinion, this is probably the best metal album of 2011. Read on to find out why.

The album begins with the distorted feedback and epic guitar riffs of “Empire”. This opener shows that after 2 years, ABR still has the heavy sound that they are known for. The insane double bass drumming, the hellfire fast guitar playing, and Jake’s screams are at their best here. However, the lyrics talk about standing firm against everyone else, decisions affecting the future, and changing history, which is exactly what this album does, and 2 minutes into the track, the whole band introduces a new element: the entire band gang-singing, followed by JB’s lightning fast guitar solos. Overall, this is about as strong as a metal album is going to get. If you’re going to show that you’re still a metal band, but can break rules and expand boundaries, how else would you do it than by starting with this insane track? A very strong opening. The second track, “Internal Cannon”, shows the band dipping further into experimentation, beginning with minor guitar work, more screams, and insane technical drumming, working into a heavy breakdown before more insane guitar work. Then, just when you think something big will happen, instead, what follows a minute into the track is a short acoustic interlude filled with Spanish-like guitar riffs and nice percussion, which is followed by even more metalcore madness. My favorite part, however, is the break two minutes in, where Spanish-sounding post-rock guitar riffs drenched in a nice reverb can be heard, followed by more percussion and acoustic guitars, before then opening up into yet another insane guitar solo. It is rare for a great track to follow the opener, but here, ABR delivers an amazing second track. The next track, “Divisions”, is more of a progressive metalcore track, filled with unusual time signatures, atonal guitar riffs, and some more great screaming from Jake, in which the lyrics reveal about speaking to God, saying how pain can devour people, and asking for forgiveness. The guitar solos here are great, and everything is top-notch. Though having heard this track before, and having not cared for it as much as most of the other tracks, this time around, it sounds just as great as most of their work. “Cutting the Ties” is another ABR track that pretty much throws back to their classic sound: the technically challenging drumming, low end guitar work, and some more insane solos occurring throughout. However, the thing that makes it different happens close to 2 minutes in the track, in which clean reverb guitars are heard for a while, before progressing into a slow, heavy, and distorted, but beautifully melodic section. Later in the song, the riffs actually enter a major and happier key that ends the song on a nice note. It shows yet again how ABR can keep the metalcore fans entertained, but can also infuse other textures into their music in order to make it interesting. I also love the lyrics here, which relate to how you can pray to God, but it doesn’t seem like he’s answering back. However, being patient is a great thing, in that he will answer back soon, but just not immediately. “Pangaea” begins with more insane guitar work and epic arrangements in the drumming. This is definitely ABR at their heaviest, fastest, and definitely their most melodic. Just when you expect a certain chord to be struck or a certain element to occur, instead, something else happens that totally blows you away. It is somewhat predictable in what sections will come next, but in terms of the musicality and textures, it always contains surprises around the bend. “Carpe Diem” starts with a droning guitar riff, along with more melodic guitar riffs following in, sort of in the same way that a post-rock song would progress. A strong drum beat keeps the song going before the distorted power chords eventually enter, along with Jake’s screaming vocals, as well as for a first, more backing screams from Dustin, in which they seem to speak to each other back and forth. There’s also in the clean break a beautiful slide guitar solo, which makes this song even more great. Yet again, ABR’s experimentation takes control, but yet still stays in check with the heavy sound that they are known for. This is also their most melodic and beautiful song to date, which shows much of the influence post-rock such as Explosions in the Sky has had on them. “40 Nights” returns to the classic ABR sound: raw, full of energy, and a lot of minor guitar riffs. However, the emotions that ABR cause here on me is unmatched by any other metal album I have heard. The tremolo picked guitar solos in this track are very melodic and beautiful, and to be quite honest, it almost brings me to tears every time I hear them. “Salt & Light” is pretty much the most optimistic track they’ve ever made. They are dealing with beautiful guitar chords here, along with some spoken word sections that seem to yell and scream, and overall, I would say that this is about as close to pop music as they have gotten. That isn’t to say that it’s at all a bad thing, though, because they handle the new direction on this track in a very nice way. The gang-singing  near the end of the track is also amazing. I would say that if you wanted to show that ABR is not a typical heavy metal band, show them this track. It’s one of the best on the album so far.

“Poor Millionaire” is also another favorite of mine. This is more classic ABR, but the lyrics here, which speaks of a man who is very rich and pretty much has everything he could ever want, but spiritually, his relationship with God is very poor, well, it’s hard to deal with lyrical content such as this, but ABR handle this very well, and also deliver some great guitar work and drumming. This is such a fun song, in that the guitar solos just shine throughout the middle of the song, showcasing a lot of virtuosity and beautiful riffs, and the song as a whole is arranged very well. “1/16/2011” is a short clean interlude, which actually is made in remembrance to a local incident that happened on that date, in which 4 boys from Manheim Central High School were killed in a car crash. I live in the area, and it was a very tragic incident, so ABR is great for making it well known that we should never forget what happened, and the interlude as a whole is sort of a break just to remember these boys. It then leads right into “Boys of Fall”, which showcases more of the classic ABR sound, but still contains the sense of unpredictability, which is exactly what happens. The guitars pound across the stereo spectrum, the solos are just as beautiful as the rest of the album is, and overall, this is a great track. The last track, “Leveler”, ends the album out strongly, filled with some of the heaviest guitar work and drumming that the album has showcased. The lyrical content is great, and near the end, the drumming is about as technical as it gets, before it ends out the album with a bang. It is also worth mentioning that if you buy the deluxe edition, you get 4 bonus tracks: an amazing acoustic version of “Internal Cannon”, an insanely beautiful post-rock rendition of “Pangaea” performed by the Lancaster-based band Bells (which also features the original vocalist of ABR, Jon Hershey), a great and eccentric piano cover of “Boys of Fall” by Zachery Veilleux, and of all the funniest things that ABR could put on an album, an exclusive MIDI version of “Empire”, which shows how ABR composes their songs before going in to record it.

Overall, August Burns Red’s “Leveler” is a monster of an album. Basically, ABR had this vision for the album: backing off the emphasis on epic breakdowns, focusing more on melodies and texture, moving backwards into the heavy tones of their older albums, and moving forward into uncharted territories, all at the same time. My initial idea after hearing from many early reviews on this album, as well as the 4 singles they released ahead of time for this album, was that there weren’t going to be as many breakdowns as their previous works, but that they would focus more on experimentation and pushing their sound to as far as they were willing to go, in spite of their huge commercial success worldwide, as well as at a time when metalcore seemed to be dying. Here, “Leveler” delivers wholeheartedly, going way beyond any of my expectations, affecting me more emotionally than any other metal album has done before, and proving once and for all that heavy metal is not all about the epic breakdowns or dark content. This album delivers just the opposite: mature and sophisticated songwriting both lyrically and musically, some of the most technically drumming and melodic guitar riffs that ABR has composed to date, and above all, a positive attitude that differs from, say, the dark and almost Satanic-like ideology of bands like Burzum and such. If you thought that ABR let the fame and fortune go to their heads, prepare to be wronged on with this album. They could have gone anywhere with “Leveler”, but the direction they chose was a great one. This is definitely, for me, the best metal album of 2011. “Leveler” has set the bar for metal in general so high that I doubt that any other band will be able to break it. This is an album that makes me wonder why no other metal bands have done this in the past. Why haven’t others strayed away from the dark content that metal is so notoriously known for? Why haven’t others pushed the limits in metal? I know of a few that have, but they haven’t gone quite as far as this. If you expect this to be in my top 10 albums of this year, you’re pretty much going to be right so far. Highly, highly, highly, HIGHLY recommended listening. I can’t stress that enough. 10 out of 10 stars.

Album: Leveler

Artist: August Burns Red

Genre: Metalcore/post-metal

Released in 2011 by Solid State Records

Available now at all major retailers!

Airplanes Over Johannesburg – There’s Beauty In The Violence/There’s Beauty In The Silence (2011, Brainstream Records)

Airplanes Over Johannesburg is a new solo project from Ottawa, Ontario based-guitarist Curtis Berndt. His music consists of instrumental post-rock guitar symphonies that slowly take their time to reveal stunning melodic riffs, along with the presence of extremely distorted guitars and some strings here and there as well. His debut EP, “There’s Beauty In The Violence/There’s Beauty In The Silence”, just about describes the music perfectly by itself: a slowly evolving EP where textures and melodies in sound reign over the virtuosity and shredding abilities of the guitar.

The EP begins with “Don’t Fly Too Close To The Sun On Wings Of Wax”, which is a direct reference to the Greek myth of Icarus, with beautifully composed guitar riffs, alongside an underlying guitar pulse, which acts as the bass of the song. Later on in the song, string samples can be heard along with the slowly evolving guitar riffs, and near the very end, an explosion of ultra-distorted guitar occurs, along with tremolo-picked guitar riffs that immediately jar the listener out of the trance-like state that the rest of the song has set up. “Young At Heart/Old In Soul” is the next track, in which it begins with a slow drum beat, as well as riffs that seem to continue from right where “Don’t Fly…” left off. The song slowly builds up through minimally beautiful guitar riffs to a quiet section of distant tremolo-picked riffs and slow guitar arpeggios that act again as a sort of pulse for the music. The guitar riffs slowly become more and more complex until near the very end, they slowly die away into silence.

“Snow Angels In The Ashes”, the shortest track on the EP, begins with distorted feedback before very beautiful and melodic guitar riffs interplay with each other, along with more of the distant tremolo picking, before again slowly fading out 2 minutes later. “Airplanes of Johannesburg” ends the EP out with slowly evolving guitar loops, which interplay melodically with each other, and are enveloped in a slight delay effect. Yet again, low guitar drones make for a sort of pulse or bass in the song. In the middle, the melodies become more complex and beautiful, before eventually fading out into a drone, at which the EP ends.

Overall, Airplanes Over Johannesburg’s “There’s Beauty In The Violence/There’s Beauty In The Silence” has a great production for being so lo-fi, and showcases some great ideas. The combination of melodic guitar loops is beautifully arranged, and can pretty much prove itself to be post-rock material. Unfortunately, the thing that bothered me the most with this EP was the repetition. The ideas here are great, but they seem to repeat and drone on way too much for my liking. Post-rock usually progresses into huge climaxes, but here, there are only usually one or two changes in melodies and texture throughout each song. The ultra-distorted guitar at the end of “Don’t Fly…” definitely excited me, shocking me out of the trance that the song previously introduces, and kept me listening for more, as well as the drums in “Young At Heart/Old At Soul” kept things moving along for me. But otherwise, the melodies repeat themselves way too much, and at times make me want to hear something different happen in the song. Well, something different does happen, but not quite in the way I expected it. Then again, maybe it is supposed to be repetitive? Maybe it’s supposed to put me in a dream-like state of mind? Truthfully, I can’t tell. The production is great, and the melodies are very beautiful, especially in the way that they interplay with each other, but the arrangement of the songs overall fell sort of short of my expectations. If it weren’t too repetitive, I probably would have enjoyed this EP more. However, I would still like to hear more from Curtis in the future, because the way he layers guitar melodies is magnificent, and he certainly has a lot of great ideas in that aspect on this EP. I just would have wished that there was more progression in the tracks. 7 out of 10 stars.

Title: There’s Beauty In The Violence/There’s Beauty In The Silence

Artist: Airplanes Over Johannesburg

Genre: Post-rock

Released 2011 by Brainstream Records

You can download the EP for free here!: http://www.mediafire.com/?l8v63o989y4qk88