Unfamiliar Frequencies 1 - By Volume

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Unfamiliar Frequencies 1

Our first of many highlights on the unknown and unsigned, lifted straight from our inbox. In this feature, Take Berlin, Zebra Katz and more. Author: on June 28, 2013
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So yeah: here at By Volume, we really love music, and spend most of our time completely and totally engulfed in it as a culture. One could say we are practically drowning in it, and while we love praising our favourite established artists on high as much as every avid fan, sometimes we need to appreciate the upstarts.

Every month we are sent various albums, EPs and singles for our consideration from various artists who range from [Insert City]‘s  next big thing to that guy you know from your local bar who’s homemade EP is actually pretty fucking excellent. Safe to say we can’t spend all of our time covering these, but we’d nonetheless love to shine a little light on a few of these submissions for you.

Every few weeks we will gather up our musings and whimsical anecdotes concerning our lesser-to-completely-unknown artists and submit them for your consideration. Hopefully you’ll fall as hard as we have for these musicians and grant them some much needed attention. We identify with these mavericks; we’re new, just like them. And we’re both shiny.

Take Berlin – Lionize EP (8.0)

A chance meeting outside of Hamburg, Germany at the Baltic Soul Weekender in 2012. An unearthed, snow-covered cassette deck found on a Brooklyn street. A few trans-Atlantic trips to a humble NYC apartment. These moments encapsulate Take Berlin. Yvonne Ambree and Jesse Barnes may have met by happenstance, but the duo were quite obviously made for each other. Barnes’ airy acoustic strums glide along the backdrop set by Ambree’s luscious (albeit minimalist) Wurlitzer piano, the two harmonizing in tandem to give Lionize a shared intimacy. This EP feels lived in already, which surprising from such a young group, but Take Berlin are all about a steady hand and patient mind. 

After Jesse discovered the aforementioned cassette deck on a snowy night, he proceeded to use it to construct this EP. For a year he and Yvonne would retreat to his home in Brooklyn to record, and then track all the songs onto that very same tape deck. This economic approach can be heard through the entirety of Lionize — the band is extremely minimal in their execution, but they construct their songs with a skyward-bound excitement. The hooks to “Vermona”, “Sebastian” and “Eaves” soar effortlessly, while “Lionize” and “Kentucky” are constructs of eerie beauty, the former showcasing the finest moment of the pair’s band-and-forth vocal style. And then you have “Stranger”, the closing monster of a track, drenched in creepy horns. They blare in the background as though Take Berlin were being chased through a dark back alley by a vicious murderer, circa 1922. It’s all film noir and brooding tension, a true haunter of a song, and like Lionize it should stick with you for some time to come.

La Fin Absolute Du Monde – Descend (7.0)

San Francisco duo La Fin Absolute Du Monde are surprisingly captivating. From first glance their music can seem a bit meandering and self-serving – the slow buildups, the buried vocals and all that distortion. Thankfully there is a torrid emotional vein constantly streaming beneath all that window dressing. La Fin Abosolute Du Monde live and breathe within the realms they create, which says quite a bit about their potential, especially for such a young group; they can already create a world.

From the start Descend rips at your jugular. “Descent Into Madness” is a swirling, violent track — equal parts NIN and Rage-era Tom Morello (in a basic sense) with Chicky Myles mercilessly enveloped within the reverb. Her voice is barely discernible above the screaming, jagged guitars of Jason Myles, and her vocals end up altered and multi-tracked, like she’s arguing with herself as the song recedes into a burst. “Cavalier” on the other hand is a serene, fruitful marriage of a more beat-heavy Saint Etienne and Meanwhile, Back in Communist Russia. “Leave Me In Detroit” is reminiscent of less restrictive Portishead and even a little bit of Tangerine Dream. And while a lot of their music takes direct cues from their contemporaries, La Fin inject a certain eerie, earthy feel to their music. It is distinctly their own.

Zebra Katz – DRKLNG (7.3)

Ojay Morgan may not be the best rapper. His bars will probably not leave many salivating, his flow of the molasses variety: deep, sticky and predominantly snail-paced. But the joy in DRKLNG is to be found within its beats; the production crew assembled here surround Zerba Katz with jagged, deceptively colossal bass, and touches of modern dance music (DnB, dub and grime in particular) that befit his laissez-faire attitude towards rapping. Mostly he slinks along, attaching himself to the beats like a man hopping a train right at the last moment. Call it fashionably late: his timing works with the sludgy production that surrounds him.

Hopefully DRKLNG will get everyone talking less about his sexual orientation and more about the reckless abandon and truly joyful experimentation with which he approaches his songs — even if he could use a little more polish and a bit more effort with his lyric sheet.

The Winter Passing – Scrapbook EP (8.2)

It can be difficult to be simple, sometimes.  The innate minimalism of a finished product, for whatever incorrect reason, implies how much effort was put into its creation. It’s as if, when concerning music at least, plugging away note after note within a varying degree of over-complicated time signatures indicates a song’s worth. With Irish rockers The Winter Passing, all it takes is a quick glance at the individually numbered EPs they have in their possession to realize the effort is there. Five-hundred pressed copies of their excellent debut Scrapbook were each separately numbered, and while this action can seem inconsequential it is the dedication to their ethos that is most appealing about these inscribed digits. They didn’t do it out of practice one would assume, but more necessity. They believe each copy holds some weight of significance, to imbue the listener (in my case, prospective press) with their own affections. If you’re able to open your heart just a little,  Scrapbook will easily find its way in.

Scrapbook graciously raps away at the vestibule, awaiting entrance, but eventually patience will wain, and the door slightly ajar, bursts open wide with gang-vocals, jangly guitar lines and heaps of reverb.  This isn’t high-octane rock, but it would be foolish to refer to The Winter Passing as anything less than energetic. This is youthful rock with a DIY aesthetic but it would fit just as well blaring from a festival stage as it would from a garage around the block.

For such a seemingly young band, The Winter Passing have a damn good grasp on how to go about writing catchy guitar rock with enough lyrical fodder to give those enamored by their musicianship something to dig that much deeper in to. A Los Campesinos! (minus the glockenspiel) or a Johnny Foreigner (minus all the cheese) could be applicable comparisons for the band. Both bands also originating from the UK/Ireland, both distinctly of that redemption-via-distortion ilk, and both steeped in their independent ideals. Though, personally, The Winter Passing are more akin to a Feelies or Wrens – emotional discharge through seemingly high-flying chord progressions, though the guy-girl gang vocals add a separate aspect to all the emotional candor. This is a band direly worth keeping our eyes on and Scrapbook is a debut definitely worth just a fraction of your time – soon enough it may see fit to consume all of it.

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  • Ali Ashoor

    The Take Berlin song is beautiful.

  • Ali Ashoor

    (The first song of the EP.)

  • La Fin Absolute Du Monde

    Thank you guys very much for taking the time to listen to our music and write this review, and feature us with so many cool up and coming acts!!! We loved it, and we’re sharing the shit outta of it!!

  • Dylan Siniscalchi

    Jason and Chicky I thank you, as always <3.


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