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SkyBurnsRed – Machines album review — April 28, 2014

SkyBurnsRed – Machines album review


SkyBurnsRed - Machines



Machines is the new album by SkyBurnsRed released on 16 May 2014 by Omniphonic Records, available on iTunes, Bandcamp, Google Play and Amazon. 

Skyburnsred are a rock band from Swindon.   They are described as ‘eclectic’ which is a good description, as long as your definition of eclectic means not being defined by one genre.

Machines is a 13 track album and all of them are solid tracks.  SkyBurnsRed not only have a great ability to balance elements such as acoustic guitar, violins and heavy riffing but are also excellent at building and releasing tension. Vocals are described as gritty, I don’t think that really does them enough justice. A bit edgy, at times tense,  create angst –  I could go on but basically they’re very, very good.

The album opens with ‘Human Malfunction’.  A solid opening track which introduces us to the Skyburnsred violin injected rock sound.   At times the guitar playing is quite heavy, balanced against acoustic parts.

Track 2′ Biting Hands’ has a similar sort of feel. Vocals really suit the style. The track builds and releases tension very well with a more acoustic orchestral section ending on a more tense note.

Track 3 ‘Pens down’ starts with a great riff and develops into a solid track with a feeling of anger / frustration. Again good use of building and releasing tension.

Track 4 ‘Lost at Sea’ opens with an orchestral section against an overdriven riff. Has a heavier feel than previous tracks but remains melodic and again vocals are excellent.

Track 5 ‘Constellations’ has a more acoustic feel.  It’s kind of a love song, sort of, but could easily be their anthem. Track builds nicely and has a great orchestral feel.

Track 6 ‘Riddle’ is then a stark contrast. Growling intro sounds kind of menacing and it maintains that sort of feel with heavy guitar playing and committed vocals. Orchestral parts are skilfully interwoven and the solo to end the track works very well.

Track 7 ‘Blah Blah Blah’ is a bit more uptempo but again has good tension and release elements.  This is one of the heavier tracks on the album.

Track 8 ‘Cowboys’ is a more melodic track, orchestration is subtle but keeps track moving.

Track 9 ‘Bring your bags’ starts with a ringing acoustic riff, building into another great song with build and release elements. It’s a song about getting back together and has a really good vibe.

Track 10 ‘Cat and Mouse’ then picks up the tempo again with a driving heavy rhythm.

Track 11 ‘It’s not me it’s you’ opens with orchestration with an acoustic feel before busting into heavy riffing. It’s a song about having something to say to someone and creates that atmosphere very well.

Track 12 ‘You can stop, just saying’ is another song with great drive and rhythm.

Track 13 little man has a ballad feel and is another great song. It ends with a subtle guitar solo which rounds the album off very well. This could also be an anthem. Well almost rounds the album off, after about a minute and a half of silence there’s a great little extra bit but you’ll have to listen to find out what it is.

Black Bombaim – Far Out LP review — April 24, 2014

Black Bombaim – Far Out LP review

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This is an LP scheduled for release on 12 May 2014 by Cardinal Fuzz (CFUL028) printed on transparent coloured vinyl. It will be available from Cardinal Fuzz online shop It is available now for pre-order.

Far Out is a 2 track LP by Black Bombaim, a Portuguese trio who describe themselves as Piri Piri spiced psychedelic rock.  The LP comprises of tracks Africa II and Arabia.

To put it simply, I was very impressed. This is a very accomplished offering in every way. The first thing that grabbed my attention was the artwork, it just drew me in. Then the playing, tone and production on the LP are all spot on.

Africa II starts by growling, like the sound of a slumbering animal being woke up. The bass is also reminiscent of a galloping animal. I’ll stop with those sort of animal comparisons now. The song builds with some great guitar playing which doesn’t just have great tone but great variety of tone too, from distorted to clean. The tempo slows a bit and a saxophone comes in around the 7 minute mark. I wasn’t expecting that. The track takes on an almost jazz improvisation sort of feel. The tension builds nicely as a prelude for the guitar coming back in with yet more cultured and expressive playing which backs off just a little to build tension for the completion of the track.  This is a very well played and produced track. Each element has skilful playing and great tone.

The second track, Arabia, starts with a delayed percussion like the rumble of thunder then explodes into a great 18 minutes of instrumental rock. As with Africa II there is great guitar playing propelled by bass and percussion with a subtle middle eastern flavour. The song maintains this drive and at about the 7 minute mark ‘The Astroboy’ complements the track very well with some subtle synth playing before another very accomplished guitar solo maintains the energy ending the section with a chunky riff.  A cleaner toned tremolo part follows building up to another solo followed by a return to the cleaner toned tremolo sound which rounds the song and LP off perfectly.

So to summarise, Far Out is a work of real quality and an excellent example of this genre. Highly recommended listening.

Anthroprophh – Precession EP review — April 22, 2014

Anthroprophh – Precession EP review



This is a 12″ EP scheduled for release on 06 May 2014 by Cardinal Fuzz (CFUL023) with a limited press of 350. It is available from Cardinal Fuzz online shop 

Anthroprophh consist of Paul Allen (The Heads) and now also includes Gareth Turner and Jesse Webb (Big Naturals).

This EP consists of 2 tracks, Precession and Ebbe, totalling 32 minutes.

Precession has a drone quality to it, percussion builds gradually and pushes the track along.  It gives it a chanting, sort of tribal feel.  The track continues to build introducing other elements, hinting that maybe a solo part is coming.  We’re not disappointed, the solo duly arrives and it suits the track very well, building tension nicely towards a final crescendo which is very well controlled and ends with a fade out rather than allowing the track to go completely out of control.

Ebbe also has that drone sort of quality, but for me the intro has more of an edge to it.  There are some nice feedback elements in here.  When the percussion enters, the feel of the track changes somewhat.  The percussion has a good driving quality whilst a loop creates a chanting, maybe even middle-eastern feel.  These parts play against each other to a certain extent, working really well together.  The looping pattern gives way to a solo part which again suits the track very well, building on and complementing existing elements.  You can feel the tension building through the solo part but again it is always controlled with the track reducing the built tension gradually.

All in all Precession is a very well put together EP.  The two tracks complement each other very well, both creating tension and having an edge to them but not so much that it makes listening uncomfortable.  The EP is well produced, there is a very good use of layering of sounds, great distorted guitar tones and both tracks keep a good balance of different elements.  The dynamics are quite subtle –  but that’s because they have to be to maintain a drone / chant quality whilst retaining the interest of the listener. That’s not an easy task for longer tracks but is done exceptionally well on this EP.

Anthroprophh are playing the biggest European Psychedelic events of the year at Eindhoven Psych lab in June and Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia in September.  Festival goers won’t be disappointed.  And with an LP due in early Autumn on Rocket Recordings, Anthroprophh certainly have an exciting year ahead of them.

A list of unusual scales — April 14, 2014

A list of unusual scales

Sometimes a great way to create new and exciting sounds is to try using a scale type that you haven’t used before.  The only downside is that sometimes it can be difficult to get a sound you’re happy with because a lot of the more unusual scale types are not natively found in Western music so notes like a b2 or b5 can be difficult to work with.  However, they are definitely worth trying out and sticking with to see what you can create.

The following is a list of different scales from around the world that I’ve ‘collected’ over time.  By collected I really mean written down on a piece of paper.  There are some I’ve discussed before such as the harmonic minor and melodic minor but most are completely new.  They are presented in the Key of C but also related to the major scale so you can work them out for any Key you like.  I’ve also included the intervals so you get an idea of how they are formed.  I haven’t gone into them in any more detail at present, I’ll leave you to experiment for now.

List of Scales-page0001

Chord Inversions — April 5, 2014

Chord Inversions

There’s nothing really complicated about chord inversions.  It’s one of those subjects that often gets overlooked or ignored because the perception is it’s too complicated but really, they are quite straightforward.

Take an Amaj7 chord.  This has the notes of A C# E G# which is 1, 3, 5, 7

For an inversion, all we do is start the chord on a different note than the root but keep the rest of the subsequent notes in sequence.  So this gives us:

1st inversion : C# E G# A    3, 5, 7, 1

2nd inversion : E G# A C#   5, 7, 1, 3

3rd inversion G# A C# E      7, 1, 3, 5

They really are that simple.  Now you’re probably thinking that there must be a downside, well the only ones I can think of are that your fingers might not stretch far enough for some configurations and depending where you start, you might run out of frets.  That’s it, and certainly minor issues as far as I’m concerned.  Example fingering patterns for a Maj7 chord and its 3 inversions are shown below.  ‘n’ represents the starting fret number i.e. 1 for F, 3 for G, 5 for A etc.

Maj 7


1st inversion

2nd inversion
3rd inversion

Because you’re starting on a different note, they tend to have a different tonal quality and can be considered as different chords.  They are excellent for layering sounds and harmonies, I use this technique quite a lot in electronic music.

You can also use inversions as substitutes for the original chord.  This may sound a bit complicated but hopefully the following example makes this process easier to understand.

If we take the key of C : C D E F G A B C

C9 chord is 1, 3, 5, b7, 9 which is C E G Bb D.

Working through the inversions we have:

1st inversion  E G Bb D C

2nd inversion G Bb D C E

3rd inversion Bb D C E G

4th inversion D C E G Bb

If you know some music theory, you may see that these look like they could be chords from other Keys.  This is explored in more detail in the table below.


You can probably see that I have omitted the C note because it doesn’t really fit into these inversions so for this example we will omit the C root note.  You could argue that in this case by omitting the root we have the first inversion as our first chord, the subtle difference is that we are using a C9 chord shape and omitting the root, the Em7b5 chord typically has a different shape and position.  We also won’t use the 3rd inversion as as Bb6 (b5) chord is not the easiest to use.

We can use the following shapes:

c9 (no root)
Note this is not a full shape – it does not contain the Bb note




Using these as chord substitutes, you could for instance use a Gm(6) instead of a C9 and this would allow you to use a minor scale from a different Key over the top of that chord.  Just be aware of any notes that may sound ‘wrong’, as I demonstrated with the C note above which was omitted from the examples.

You can use the same principles and shapes given above to work out the inversions for F9 and G9 chords. for example. This would allow you to take a basic I IV V progression and then use layering and chord substitution to open up lots of interesting harmonic possibilities.