Monday, 5 May 2014

Foxymoron / Massa Confuse / Eliza Smiles / The Montagues / Avast! Narwhals - Demo Reviews - NARC Magazine, June Edition

[2014.05.05] Tom Hollingworth, for NARC Magazine.
Foxymoron has given us a somber taste from his latest EP, 'USB,' with Pixel Memories. The initial keyboard motif emerges as if pressed through glass before the track explodes into synthesised melancholia, unleashing rigid half-time thrashing drums, and the ever-searching major IV- minor VI progression. A mix of higher pitched scales and broken-chords relive the pixels of the title in variations; dancing like stars in a rippling pond. A B-section predictably subdues proceedings before relinquishing once more to a fuller version of the central pattern. Foxymoron successfully creates digital recollections of a reflective mind but the experiences then feel like he has organised them into a mass-produced photo-album.

An arrested wind up the locrian modal scale on the guitar over a pedal bass drives Massa Confusa's 'Dream,' as the lyrics chart a stream of consciousness. The drums are mixed as tinny as stock loops from a casio keyboard but this tone is helpful in qualifying the monotony of the lyrics' list of experiences. At the choruses, muddy distorted guitars complement wonderfully bendy bass parts inspiring heads to conservatively mosh. The use of lyrical pedal-words and phrases, and a dynamically flat musical landscape, slowly hypnotises the listener into the insecurity and ever-changing world of this song.

Next we have Eliza Smiles' addition to the heritage of mid-nineties alternative-rock music. Their song You Better Run swaggers in the musing's of a self-confessed stalker. Lauren Amour seeks authority in an American accent to channel power in her vocal delivery, particularly in the mighty choruses, complete with nanana-ing in unison with a pentatonic guitar riff. Weak as... she is not! The recording captures the odd sloppy moment: the occasional unevenness in the drumming patterns, the guitar solo losing its way slightly amidst a phrase, but this serves the personality of the music more than it detracts.

Throughout 'Don't Go,' a track from The Montagues' latest EP, Silver Linings, Liam Dickman soaks every lyric he sings in desperation. Although this relentless approach marries the topic, the consistency of the delivery grates a little. Rich guitar tones have been sourced, and a sympathetic delayed electric lead-line adds rain to the tears of our tormented singer. Although the song is a bitter pill, the thrusting drum march and brevity of this track make Don't Go expressive rather than indulgent. A drum-stick semi-quaver motif at the fade of the track is a delicious, seemingly throwaway addition and paints the possibility: Perhaps the jilter concluded their dramatic departure exiting by horse and carriage? Hmm.

Finally, Avast! Narwhals give us sage advice with Never Fuck A Polar Bear. Rocking between time signatures, this recording captures the excitement of a band with a fine balance of absurdity and musicality. The nautically-themed trio blend their individual talents seamlessly in a style they label as shantycore, and this noise rides high and wild through various manifestations, and though there was once a blueprint to this track's construction, the performance captured here is one dancing far beyond compositional realisation; at every stage it reaches for something special.

And so - although Foxymoron runs in a close second for his luscious euphoria, this month's Demo of the Month goes to Avast! Narwhals. Listening to the focused interaction of these musicians performing this song is equivalent to watching Neptune expertly guiding his chariot through the challenging spirit of the mighty ocean. The joie de vive unleashed in the recording is not only palpable to the ears, but then contagious within the heart; a spirit that every good rock and roll song should embody.

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