Each week the Hidden Shoal team pick a track from the catalogue and tell you why we love it so much and why you should love it too. Expect an equal mix of poetic ramblings and beautiful music.
With an acutely transcendent and atmospheric vibe, perth‘s ‘Drank and Kites and Tomorrow’ is a lucid and expansive slice of wave-gaze pop. Pulsing, agitated rhythms offset the cosmic streaming of synths, voice and guitars, eventually morphing into a kind of motorik ambient that counterbalances propulsion with serenity. – Wagner Hertzog
As soon as its tense, antagonistic beat kicks in, Arc Lab‘s ‘Through the Burning Glass’ begins to stretch out before the listener like a vivid, grey horizon. Its diffuse but expressively cadenced rhythms and melodic lines ascend and circulate the song’s atmosphere, creating an exquisite tension between the serenity of the synths and the aggression of the beats. This is a track that you cannot stop listening to over and over again. Lifted from Arc Lab’s 2016 release Anthem. – Wagner Herthog
On ‘Ex Nihilo’, the quicksilver opener to his superb 2015 album Hearing Things, Erik Nilsson‘s impressionistic deployment of the guitar is very much in the tradition of Talk Talk’s Mark Hollis: minimal notes, maximum impact. The track beautifully sets the stage for the album to follow, putting the listener in a receptive, contemplative mood that allows Nilsson to work his magic to best effect.
At the heart of The Star Department‘s superb debut album The Pea Green Boat lies ‘Stitches and Sleeves’. The track is bound together by a heartbreaking guitar line, a silvery waltz-time figure that sends shivers up the spine. Combined with shuffling drums, a muted yet ominous horn section, and Justin Commins vulnerable, almost defeated vocal, the song radiates melancholic pop magic.
‘The Heart That Hears Like A Bat‘ is a song as wonderful as its title, a gorgeously shadowy piece of film noir Bond pop. Tremolo guitars and vibraphone shimmer over the inimitable Hotels rhythm section like moonlight on a swimming pool, while Blake Madden intones a pulpy tale of young girls crying and young lovers dying . It s beautiful, effortlessly cool, and once again proves Hotels as kings of pop melody and mood. The track is lifted from Hotels brilliant sophomore album Where Hearts Go Broke.
Choosing a single track from any of Todd Tobias‘s shadowy instrumental albums offers a tantalising glimpse into his intoxicating universe of sound. In the case of ‘Night of the Clubfoot’, the opening track of Medicine Show, a distorted electric guitar weaves a gorgeous, unexpected melodic progression over a doomy dirge. If Medicine Show is a movie, then ‘Night of the Clubfoot’ is the curtain drawing back to reveal something horrible and hypnotic. This is atmospheric instrumental rock staggering through a glass darkly; a fantastical world that’s deep and dangerous enough to lose yourself in.
Everything about ‘Inventors’ is absolutely perfect: the chord sequence, in one of Kramies‘ usual weird tunings; the shimmering lead guitar work by David Paolucci; Todd Tobias’s production – and it’s all wrapped up in just over 3 minutes. I’m almost embarrassed to admit it, but I’m fondly reminded of ‘Spies’ from Coldplay’s debut album Parachutes, before they became one of the biggest bands in the world. ‘Inventors’ has a similar understated grandeur that’s subtly devastating.
It’s hard to believe Sicilian quintet HC-B released their masterpiece Soundcheck for a Missing Movie back in 2009. Those who thought this was the last great sonic document from the band will be pleased to know it’s not and that we have some exciting news on what’s to come from HC-B in 2015 (soon!). So what better time to reflect on one of the centerpieces of Soundcheck for a Missing Movie, ‘Hot Afternoon in The Bull’s Square’. Now I had planned to wax lyrical about this song as it excites me every time I listen to it, but then I stumbled on a quote from the awesome US college radio station WRUV that summed up everything I wanted to say,
“Quality Instrumental Post-Rock with a fierce emotion that will blast your face off for its entirety… The songs blend together to form a tsunami of shredding guitars, loud violins, free horns, booming basses and hammering drums… One of the greatest of its genre.” – WRUV
Now listen and hear why every word of that quote is spot on.
Al Smith, working under his DrAlienSmith moniker, makes big music and this is no further evidenced than on the track ‘Guth and Zeno’ lifted from his debut EP Under Songs. The scope of this song is not simply due to its broad, monolothic, yet layered sonic palette but also extends to the temporal and almost geophysical landscape it generates. The shifts between cavernous interstellar terraforming and atmos-laden solitude and reflection are incredibly striking and make for an emotive listening experience. This is a story too big for words and a film too visual for image. Stunning stuff!
I’ll make no bones about it, Craig Hallsworth is a songwriting genius in my book. From his work with the Bamboos back in the 80’s to the Healers, Outstation, The Slow Beings and to his current Tangled Star project, Hallsworth has continued to craft brilliant rock and pop music. This week’s feature sees us dig back to the epic alt-country title track from Tangled Star’s 2007 mini-album It’s Now or Later. Whilst it may sound trite there is something innately Australian about this song as it weaves and winds it’s way across a more than seven minute terrain. Hallsworth manages to takes known rock tropes and gently twist them into his own shapes and the exultant shifts and wandering detours in the song bear witness to this. To top it all off Hallsworth’s wonderful turn of phrase infuses the music with curling narratives that take the song to another level again. Sublime.
Hidden Shoal MixTape
- Paraphon “Soviet Cities on the Moon”
- Rewilding Feature at Anchorage Press
- Karl Blau & The World of Dust – “Blue Herons” Split 7″
- Brief Conversations: An Interview with Markus Mehr
- Liminal Drifter “Connected” Out Now!