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Demons – Contact High LP Review — June 26, 2014

Demons – Contact High LP Review



The Demons on Bandcamp; The Demons on twitter

I have to say that it is an inspired move to re-release Contact High on vinyl – and 2 slabs of vinyl to be precise – the album originally being released in 2009. It was released on 23 June 2014 by Cardinal Fuzz (CFUL013). It is available from Cardinal Fuzz online shop 

I have to be honest though, I’ve been living under a rock as far as Contact High is concerned because I haven’t heard it until now. But the good thing about coming out from under such a rock is that you get to appreciate this really is a brilliant album in every way. The guitar has great variety of tone, chunky riffs and solos; drumming is energetic; solid bass parts and the vocals fit the style really well, seeming to sit just off the beat in a lot of tracks. The result at times is that ‘don’t give a shit’ sort of sound which is energetic, quite edgy and some times almost manic, best described like teetering on the edge of a cliff. But Demons are equally at home with more acoustic sounds and more down tempo songs which is all part of their sound and shows a high level of accomplishment and togetherness you need to achieve this. There are definitely early Seattle influences and also a hint of Black Sabbath for me.

‘2009’ Opens the album with a distorted / feedback guitar which sets the scene very nicely then launches into a great groove with great riffs and solo parts. The vocals compliment the song very well and the whole song has an edge to it.

‘Nervous – Alive’ Raises the tempo with a killer opening riff which then changes to another equally chunky riff which really drives the song along and it maintains this energy throughout.

‘Alpha and Omega’ slows the tempo somewhat but maintains the chunky riffing throughout the song accompanied by a well played solo which sets up a solid groove.

‘The Recidivist’ Another solid opening riff, track has more of an edge to it, great effects and solo.

‘Out of Focus’ opens with a more acoustic feel but acts as a sort of prelude for the next song.

‘Jamming on the 13th floor’ has the same sort of feel to the opening, then develops a similar acoustic riff and groove. Just a hint of middle eastern flavour and the vocals feel more uptempo on this track.

‘Great Shakes Baby’ opens with a nice sounding wah-wah and again builds a groove based on a solid riff. Good vocals too.

‘Cruickshanked’ Another solid opening riff, great energy and groove and nice solo.

‘Prismatic Reflections’ This has a very laid back almost lonesome atmosphere to the opening, in fact it reminds me of Texas. The state, not the band. Riffs enter the track later on as the tempo gradually builds and a solo also enters the track. The solo and riff build and release tension culminating with a crescendo of feedback and a solo before relating the tension gradually, well sort of, to end the track.

‘The Plague’ Starts with a growl, a bass rumble like some imminent impending doom which leads into an acoustic riff and the track develops a solid groove but with an edge, building tension through the whole track to a crescendo and release.

New approaches, new perspectives — June 15, 2014

New approaches, new perspectives

If you’ve read previous blog posts, you’ll know I’m fairly minimal in terms of my ‘studio’.  And that suits me very well, I’m more than adequately equipped to make the sort of music I want to make.

But sometimes, it’s good to take a new perspective on your ways of working.

I recently saw an opportunity from Dr Existenz (@13lfo on twitter) to create a song purely by improvising to be included on his I Improvised 2 album (#II2). The idea was that this was meant to be all about the performance, no post production or processing allowed.

As usual I was late to the party but there was still time, or so I thought. I principally use Caustic for all my creation and production and whilst it is brilliant, it’s not really geared up for live recording. So I thought I’d give Ableton live lite 8 a proper go. I’ve not really used it for song creation before and quickly found the 4 vst limit crippling.

However, the overall experience was very liberating. I’ve not recorded like that since the days when I owned a 4 track tape recorder and it was great to be able to be spontaneous and improvise instead of creating a song from patterns. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, I really enjoy that too. But it shows that a change of approach can be a great way to try new ideas and open up loads of new sounds and possibilities. And it also highlighted two issues:
1- I need to practice a lot, and I mean a lot more to do it justice
2 – my studio needs an upgrade

Both of these present some significant challenges. The practicing is quite tricky because I have a M-Audio Oxygen 25 keyboard chosen for sequencing rather than playing and secondly I realised that I need a fully fledged DAW for this sort of recording. My first thought was this is going to be expensive and I can’t afford the full version of Ableton or any other similar product come to think of it. But then I remembered about Reaper.

Reaper is a fully fledged DAW but much, much cheaper than alternative versions costing 60 euros for a licence (other licenses are available but I think this would be the appropriate licence for most people in this situation). It’s very early days but so far I’ve had it up and running without reading the instructions which is always a good sign. I do need to sort out the recording inputs, although it plays the vst perfectly ok, when recording it seems to use the onboard mic and not just the vst. Hopefully this is very straightforward to resolve.

So it’s still very early days but showing a lot of promise. It means I can record performances and improvisations using all the same vsts I already use and in keeping with my minimal approach means it doesn’t cost a fortune.

It’s also lead to me looking at other ways of creating sounds for performances.  Apps like saucillator, Yellofier and virtual ANS open up new and interesting sound creation and manipulation opportunities.

It also means hardware options are more viable, a Kaossillator looks very tempting right now…


You can check out Dr Existenz on twitter and also his blog

Incidentally, the I Improvised 2 album was launched on Tracey’s EOP show on mixcloud

It is also available for free download from Bandcamp

The Oscillation – Cable Street Sessions review — June 1, 2014

The Oscillation – Cable Street Sessions review

THe Oscillation


The Oscillation website; The Oscillation on twitter

The Cable Street Sessions comprises of 4 live in session tracks scheduled for release on 23 June 2014 by Cardinal Fuzz (CFUL024). It is available from Cardinal Fuzz online shop 

The Oscillation was originally the brainchild of Demian Castellanos who is joined by Bassist Tom Relleen and drummer Valentina Magaletti. Their brand of liquid psyche is described as some of the heaviest and best kraut-a-delic music out there.

The Cable Street sessions consists of tracks All You Want to Be; Corridor (Parts 1 and 2); Somewhere to Go and Descent.

The Cable Street Sessions is an accomplished offering which has a great selection of songs to showcase The Oscillation’s talent. The rhythm section on each track has a very tight sound which really drives them along and generates a solid groove. The guitar playing accompanies this very well with a mix of heavy chunky riffing and solos. The chosen effects also work really well to create part of The Oscillation’s signature sound. The Cable Street Sessions is very impressive listening the first time but gets better and better the more you listen to it. There are some nuances and subtleties that you seem to hear on successive listenings. Just make sure you turn it up. And if you can get to see them live, on this basis of this release you certainly won’t be disappointed.

All You Want to Be opens the Cable Street Sessions with a very chunky riff and great groove which is maintained throughout the track. The effects add a psychedelic edge added to by the vocals. The guitar solo maintains the drive against the solid rhythm backing.

Corridor also has a great groove but has a heavier feel. Again great use of effects and vocals to create a heavy psychedelic sound. The groove slows somewhat to some great feedback effects followed by some great solo playing which rounds the song out.

Somewhere To Go is a cover of the classic song by The Deviants. The Oscillation do an outstanding cover version with drive and energy, sounding true to the original whilst maintaining their own unique sound.

Descent is the final track and opens with some great guitar effects which are hard to describe but somewhere between feedback, pick scrape, flanger and rotary speaker. This leads into a chunky riff which evolves slowly with great feedback and effects. There is an almost middle-eastern feel which builds and retains intensity throughout the song, releasing it towards the end.