Author: subcastco

MANIPULANT – Single Review: “What Good Are the Stars?”

Brilliant review of the new Manipulant single from Eclectic Music Lover:

ECLECTIC MUSIC LOVER

Manipulant WGATS art

Lancaster, Pennsylvania-based artist Manipulant (aka David Speakman) is an imaginative and intensely creative multi-instrumentalist/composer of electronic music that he refers to as “scientific sound spaces.” In 2016, he released his debut album Méthode de Narration, and followed up a year later with the superb Eclectro, which I reviewed and you can read here.  On July 4th, he dropped his latest work, an EP of sorts with the single “What Good Are the Stars?” as the main track, plus three remixes.

“What Good Are the Stars?” is mysterious and sublime, with a glittery soundscape of swirling synths that seem to float above the subtle bassline. A gentle hypnotic drumbeat  keeps the languid pace, and a delicate but haunting repeating piano riff adds a sense of unease to the mesmerizing track. Manipulant’s smooth, echoed vocals have an otherworldly feel as he sings the lyrics that question his inability to…

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News from the Conning Tower: June releases

After the madness that was May, it has been a blessed relief to release a mere two albums in June, but blimey Charlie, what a pair of albums they are!

First out of the traps was the second installment of Martin Neuhold & Friends ‘Dialogue’ series, cunningly entitled ‘Dialogue 2’. Like the first Dialogue album, these pieces were initially solo improvisations recorded by Martin as part of February Album Writing Month (FAWM); these were then added to, remixed and repurposed by a veritable phalanx of leading ambient and experimental musicians. Artists on this album include Cousin Silas, Jaime Munarriz, Wilfried Hanrath, Volker Lankow and many more.

As with the first volume, Dialogue 2 is available as download or CD and all proceeds go to Médecins Sans Frontières.

 


Our other new release in June was ‘Irresistible Forces’, our debut release for the renowned sound designer and electronic musician, Andrulian. As with several of our roster, Andrulian’s music has a healthy disrespect for genres, but if we had to call it we’d say ‘Irresistible Forces’ straddles the ambient/dark ambient/experimental categories.

Andrulian’s work is big on atmospheres, textures and details, and this album uses these to great effect on a collection of pieces, some of which are unsettling to the point of scariness. Perhaps listen with an adult initially.

The album has been picking up great reviews and some significant plays on influential web radio shows, so do lend it your ears.

‘Irresistible Forces’ is available to purchase from Bandcamp, iTunes, Amazon and Google Play.

News from the Conning Tower: New Release Round-Up

It’s been super busy here at SBC for the past month or so, and we have snuck out a few releases with relatively little fanfare nor ballyhoo. So, let’s rectify that straight away.

Back at the beginning of May, we released the debut EP from the immensely talented singer/songwriter Sil Fiore, who performs under the name Sibilla. Here at SBC we pride ourselves on the variety on offer on our smorgasbord of delights, and Sibilla’s debut EP serves up some first-class songwriting, powerful blues-tinged emotive vocals and top musicianship, all with a slight lo-fi alt-pop sensibility. There’s also a blistering, ground-up reworking of the Bessie Smith classic ‘Long Old Road’.

 


At the opposite end of the conventional music spectrum is the new EP from We Do Not Exist. We Do Not Exist comprise Alan Morse Davies, of Truck Stop Rent Boy and GOATS fame, and Petridisch (also a one time TSRB collaborator, Bearsuit Records alumni and Vocaloid practitioner). Alan describes the EP as “a journey through challenges”. It’s experimental (as you might expect), but also accessible; it’s meditative, but also unsettling. All proceeds from sales go to Médecins Sans Frontières, so if you don’t buy it you are A Bad Person.

 


Mid-May saw the release of the first of Martin Neuhold & Friends’ Dialogue series. The origin of these pieces were solo improvisations recorded by Martin as part of February Album Writing Month (FAWM) that were then collaborated on by an army of like-minded ambient and experimental musicians.

Martin is the loveliest of people and an incredibly talented multi-instrumentalist and we’re so delighted that he’s chosen SBC as the netlabel for this work. There will be another two Dialogue albums released over the next couple of months.

Dialogue 1 is available as download or CD; again, all proceeds go to Médecins Sans Frontières.

 


The last releases in May were two space-themed albums.

The first of these was  ‘Citadels in Space’ by Dynamo Snackbar.

One of the pleasures of the Klang release was the number of positive comments about the two Dynamo Snackbar tracks (and yes, there are still a few Klang CDs left, but don’t hang around) and this new album is equally brilliant.

Dynamo Snackbar’s music is generally somewhat genre-defying. Comprising two long-form tracks, this album is part krautrock, part space-rock, part prog… if you like Ozric Tentacles, Quark/Levitation-era Hawkwind, Tangerine Dream,  Berlin school synths or Bill Nelson this is going to resonate with you. 


The second of the space-themed releases was ‘Distress Call from Life Raft 13’ by Tim Kays.

This unique album is part ambient meditation and part historical document. Everyone has heard the famous line ‘Houston, we have a problem’; Tim’s album traces the events of the hours that followed Jack Swigert’s fateful words.

Using genuine NASA recordings, juxtaposed against a hypnotic ambient soundscape, Tim’s album works for both active or background listening. Tim’s album is available as a free download.

News from the Conning Tower: Radio Transmissions

Blimey, do we have some exciting stuff for you this May! Yes, yes we do. It was rhetorical, hence no question mark.  But before we can tell you about that, here is some news that JUST CAN’T WAIT!

Firstly, our very own Manipulant will be featured on The Comfy Show, on Radio Woking, tomorrow between 20:00 – 22:00 BST. The Comfy Show is always chock full of new and brilliant music and this month looks like it will be a doozy. Listen along here: radiowoking.co.uk/listen and get the full details and commentary here.

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Then on Sunday, we’re delighted that Bunny & The Invalid Singers from our benefit album One String Inspiration will be featured on BBC 6Music on Stuart Maconie’s Freakzone, 20:00 – 22:00 BST. You can, as ever, listen live here:  https://www.bbc.co.uk/6music

 


And if that wasn’t enough, Sunday is also the day for the Unexplained Sounds show, The Recognition Test, which this week features Hans Castrup, who you will recall from the Exhibition:Red compilation.

You can listen to The Recognition Test here: http://mixlr.com/unexplained-sounds/ – if you want to play along at home, listen live 21:0022:00 UTC+02. Full details here.

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Exhibition 2018

So as we announced on the 11th April, Exhibition 2018 is released, and now all tracks are available for download or on CD. To recap:

“The Exhibition compilation is in three overlapping flavours: Red, Green and Blue. Very roughly speaking Red is the most experimental, this is where you’ll find the noise, the field recordings, the zero bpm and so on; Green is mostly ambient, dark ambient, neoclassical and melodic instrumentals; Blue is pop, rock, post-rock, synthwave, electro and other radio-friendly music.”

The final line-up is:

Red Volume 1

1. God Cancer – Traffic
2. Noise Cluster – Poor Little Hag
3. James Hoehl – All the Unheard Voices
4. CjaBand-uk – Ghosts on the Cilcennin Hillfort, Samhain
5. Cousin Silas – And That Very Day All The Metal Turned To Powder
6. Feasibility Study – Incubus
7. Hans Castrup – Phantrolyse
8. Lucidbeaming – Grizzl
9. Rauppwar – Bizarre Birds in my Home
10. Mean Flow – Drosoulites (The Ghosts Of Frangokastello)
11. Pisse-Larve – The Ghost Nose
12. Zumaia – Champ de Bataille

Red Volume 2

1. Hypercube and Mario Lino Stancati – Spectral Anomaly
2. Almark – Eclipse
3. Alwin van der Linde – Sprinkle Twit Of Unknown Love
4. Glenn R Sogge – Catacombs of Green
5. T. R. Hand – Red Shift Dragon (Amongst The Stars)
6. Devotionalhallucinatic – Swallowed a bird
7. Dream Sequins/Christopher Petkus/{AN} EeL – The Forest’s Other Entrance
8. Humanfobia – Talking with a Ghost Girl in Rancagua Cemetery
9. Zumaia – Nevar
10. Janusz Brudniewicz – Design – MZSO5841
11. precocious mouse – funayurei
12. Rauppwar – Guitar Player Dogs

Red Volume 3

1. Myrh & DesuEx – The Ride of the Valkyrs
2. idle potentiate – xH[5128AA]
3. Feasibility Study – Angel
4. Valerio Orlandini – Flows of Uncertainty
5. Rauppwar – Dark Home Memories
6. Glenn Sogge – Slow Slush of Red-Shifted Frogs
7. Zumaia – Ritual
8. Schtummm – Feed III Alien Psycho Blues
9. Glauber K. de Souza – Robot Ranger vs The Chupacabras
10. BlindººCoyote – Second Sight: Ancestors in Pantomime

Green Volume 1

1. ikjoyce – Cantre’r Gwaelod
2. Earthborn Visions – The Ninth Wave
3. Icy Rainbows – Slippery Slope
4. Mean Flow – Gionis Lament
5. 3SBAT – Impromptu 11.11
6. Cousin Silas – Memories from May
7. Raas – Water
8. LEZET – January Sun
9. Peri Esvultras – Fakir
10. Ryliss – Shaman’s Dream
11. Tim Kays – Auroral Kilometric Radiation

Green Volume 2

1. Baci Grigore & DesuEx – neoTransylvanian postBallad
2. Carbonates On Mars – Will-O’-The Wisp
3. Intersonic Subformation – Failed Prophecy
4. Phono Input – Dreamtime (悲しいモール周囲の蒸気 – Kanashī mōru shūi no jōki)
5. Andrulian – Onryo
6. Derek Soto – Red Sky
7. Ian Haygreen – The Black Dog
8. Somta – Mother Shipton’s Apparition
9. idle Devotee – i An [å3]
10. Martin Neuhold – Untersberg
11. Jaime Munárriz – no Nemo Dream
12. Raas – Salt
13. Mixtaped Monk – The Mermaid’s Tears

Blue Volume 1

1. Manipulant – SandS
2. Alan Morse Davies – The Grey Lads
3. Cja Band – Summer’s End
4. Cosmic Colonel – Mechanized Destruction
5. Cousin Silas – The Return Of The Son Of The Kidney Thief
6. Crayon Angels – Headed This Way
7. Feasibility Study – Orange
8. Mixtaped Monk – Legend of Finn and the Fianna
9. Bridget Wishart and The Band Of Doctors – If You Call
10. The Moth Poets – Black Squirrel Pelt Collector
11. Ruido – Santa Ana Do Barroso
12. Shice Squad – National Supply
13. Spartan Jet-Plex – Alright
14. The Blank Holidays – I Always Knew

Blue Volume 2

1. Hyperbiped – Pezedemuth B
2. Bridget Wishart & Everling – Hope
3. Merge – Free All
4. The Mild East – The Widow Maker [Alt]
5. The Black Hundred – Thought and Memory
6. ÆVEM & Pampered Fists – Seer
7. Myrh & DesuEx – When The Stars Shift
8. Nurse Predator – Apple Eyed Owl
9. Mangabros. – Weissmuller’s Ghost
10. Autonomaton feat. Chudomir – It’s none of my business, personally I’m not like that
11. m.t. Scott – bloom.bruise.heaven.hearse
12. Mixtaped Monk – The Morrigan’s Fate
13. Pork Bolters – Midsummer Tree

So, this is my opportunity to say a massive and heart-felt thank you to all the above artists who have given their time and their art so generously. This compilation is way bigger than any of our previous releases, and I would be lying if I said it was without difficulties and compromises along the way, but you know what… it’s a great body of work. There are some stunning tracks on there and I’m immensely proud of what everyone has achieved. I’m also delighted that we’ve widened our net and snagged some new talent – I hope we can do it again some time.

We’ve had a very respectable volume of downloads, and a reasonable number of purchases. As you probably know, we don’t keep a penny, all the proceeds go to our chosen charity, The Shaw Mind Foundation, who not only do fantastic work, but are also top people too (they’ve invited me to tea!) so please get out there and push this compilation and let’s raise some cold hard cash.

Rob
Submariner-in-chief

News from the Conning Tower: Exhibition 2018

Wednesday 11th April sees the release of our major compilation for 2018, Exhibition.

The Exhibition compilation is in three overlapping flavours: Red, Green and Blue. Very roughly speaking Red is the most experimental, this is where you’ll find the noise, the field recordings, the zero bpm and so on; Green is mostly ambient, dark ambient, neo-classical and melodic instrumentals; Blue is pop, rock, post-rock, synthwave, electro and other radio-friendly music.

Currently weighing in at approximately eight hours of music by more than sixty artists, the compilation will be available as seven individual volumes (3 x Red, 2 x Green, 2 x Blue). Each volume will be available as a ‘name your price’ digital download or as an inexpensive CD from our Bandcamp store, here. The cover art is once again by the lovely Glove of Bones.

As with our previous compilations, there is a charity benefitting from our work. On this occasion all proceeds will go to the international mental health charity, the Shaw Mind Foundation. We chose them as we wanted an international charity, to reflect the international constituency of our artists, and we liked the way Shaw Mind Foundation tackle not only mental health but also the stigma surrounding mental illness.

We’re using a new CD manufacturer for this project; they use a ‘just in time’ drop-shipping model which removes the requirement for us to hold inventory. It’s a bit of an experiment for us, but if it works it opens up a lot of flexibility for future releases. This does mean that much of the shipping is out of our control, but if customers do have any weird and wonderful requirements we will do our best to fulfil them.

Any questions?

 

I am an artist who submitted a track. Can I have a discount on the CDs? Email us and we’ll sort you out a discount code.

Does the CD purchase include the digital download? Yes

I accidentally bought the download when I really wanted the CD. Can I change my order? Probably. Email us and we’ll sort it out.

I represent a blog/radio station. Can I have some CDs for review or airplay? Probably. Email us to discuss.

I note you say Exhibition 2018. Does that mean you’ll do it again next year? Yes! No. Maybe

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New Releases: Manipulant, Cousin Silas and GOATS

It’s starting to get busy here at the Conning Tower, what with Exhibition and possibly Klang coming up, plus one secret project and two confirmed new artists. So, in our wisdom we decided to release three new works on the same day. You can thank us later. Anyway, we have pretty much something for everyone. Starting with…

We’ve been trailing the Manipulant EP for a while, but now it’s finally released. Manipulant is musician and singer David from Lancaster, Pennsylvania and had a lot of radio airplay with his previous Eclectro album. The new EP ‘perspective’ is a melodic slice of electro that ranges from funky to seductive to jazzy to dramatic. We’re pushing tracks like SandS and Shiveresque to the US university radio stations as we think they really stand up to mainstream radio exposure. You can buy ‘perspective’ from iTunes, Amazon and our Bandcamp store here:

Cousin Silas needs no introduction for fans of ambient music, and that makes it all the more pleasing that he has chosen to place another release with us. ‘Radio Galaxies’, as its name suggests is a collection of cosmologically-themed pieces. Long-form, and deliberately slow-paced and evolving, this is an album that needs to be wallowed in. ‘Radio Galaxies’ is available from our Bandcamp store:

GOATS is a brand new experimental project, comprising Alan Morse Davies (The Clock House, At Sea Records, Truck Stop Rent Boy), Ade Hodges and Declan Owen. The album, made up of five goat-themed titles, also features Neil Campbell of Vibracathedral Orchestra fame and Rene Kita. The music is experimental and ever-changing, challenging in places and accessible in others. The album is ‘name your price’ on Bandcamp but any money raised will go to Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) so we hope you’ll give generously.

Review: Sombre Moon/Blurred Reality & Hereafter

Sombre Moon are UK-based electronic duo Amanda Jane Rogers and Steve Loxley.

Their first single ‘Blurred Reality’ received considerable acclaim on its release in October, and it’s easy to see why. It’s a delicious slice of synth-pop; the song is exquisite, with great melodic hooks. Of course, the electronica space is a crowded one at the moment, but the two key features that really set this single apart are the quality of arrangement – the track crams dozens of ideas into its sub-4-minute running time – and Amanda Jane’s dreamy vocals (stylistically she reminds me of Sarah Blackwood of Dubstar fame, and that’s high praise in my book).

The follow up ‘Hereafter’ is more driven; it’s a denser and darker affair. It’s still immediately accessible and every bit as catchy as ‘Blurred Reality’, but there’s an increased sense of directness; the synths are less ornamented here and Amanda Jane’s vocals have a note of urgency and perhaps some vitriol. It’s another great pop song, and like all great pop songs it’s able to connect at an emotional level.

‘Hereafter’ is the lead track of the eponymous EP, which also contains remixes of ‘Blurred Reality’ and the dancefloor-centric ‘Recovery’. Both ‘Blurred Reality’ and ‘Hereafter’ are available directly from Sombre Moon on Bandcamp.

Review: Pendro/Figmentland

Pendro is the name of Tim Jones’ experimental music and sound design project. He released his latest album, ‘Figmentland’, in March. It’s unapologetically experimental, but that’s no left-handed compliment; it’s a fiercely creative album, full of textures, cinematic sound-staging, and even emotion. It’s also an album that rewards repeated listens as familiarity with the basic shape allows some of the deeper layers to be exposed.

The album opens with ‘Stalking The Floating Brass Jaws’, brash, startling and uncompromising, effectively setting the tone for what is to come. The track includes repeating sequences of treated metallic clangs, one of several motifs that will re-appear several times during the course of the album.

The following track, ‘Black Moths’ is rhythmic and insistent, with burgeoning, distorted beats and almost dub-like echoes trailing off into the ether. The track ends with chilling synthetic wails and screams. Moths that flew too close to the flame maybe.

‘Over The Fire Glade’ that follows, starts all slow and swirling, with textures overlapping. It’s worth noting that the whole album warrants headphones to truly appreciate the ingenuity of Tim’s sound design, but particularly in this piece, as themes and motifs chase each other from side to side and front to back. The tone here is ominous, almost monstrous. This soundscape is teeming with wildlife, and possibly not all of it friendly.

The highlight of the album is the epic ‘Turquoise Lagoons’. The piece starts with a bed of gamelan-like bells, chimes and gongs, which are gradually blended with industrial scrapes and hisses. Several minutes in, the gongs give way to clarion alarms and bird-like shrieks, and the track starts to turn dark and foreboding. Like emerging from a tunnel, towards the end the gamelan starts again, this time backed by soothing major chords. The track ends peacefully enough but it’s definitely been a journey.

Just as the first track set out Tim’s stall, the final track ‘Descent To Silver Valley’ is a fitting close to the album. It’s probably the most accessible track on the album, a meditative flowing drone, with numerous textures all interweaving and rising to the surface. Then, just as you begin to think the album is closing with an air of optimism, apocalyptic bass chords fade in, unsettling and desolate. Happy ending denied.

This is an album that demands active listening; it’s not background music for cooking or dinner parties. But for the listener who can dedicate an hour, they will find their investment very well rewarded.

New Release: Somacopia DeFacto

Friday 16th March saw the publication of our latest release, ‘Somacopia DeFacto’ by experimental artists Anthony Donovan and {AN} EeL (Neale D. Retke).

By turns playful and brutal, Somacopia DeFacto is an uncompromising journey into the psyche and is strictly for the adventurous. Fiercely experimental, the album comprises three parts, each made up of multiple sequences. If you are comfortable with the later works of Scott Walker or some of the Beefheart albums, give this a try.