Empress, Wait ’Til Night review (Brilliant Emperor 2020)

Following up on their first album, Empress walks even deeper into the darkness.

In 2017, the Australian band Empress released their self-titled exploratory record. Their second, Wait ’Til Night, was recorded in 2018-2019 and is appearing now in the perfect historical setting for the mood the music establishes. The band is Chloe Cox (vocals and keys), Julian Currie (guitar), Jackson Tuchscherer (guitar), Shaun Allen (bass), and Ben Smith (drums and percussion).

There is a long list of tags associated with Empress including doom, shoegaze, alternative, indie, post-rock … and they all fit. The songs on the new album are mostly very quiet and subdued, and entirely infused with darkness. The recurring themes I hear are sadness and regret written into a variety of settings.

“Golden Orb” opens with a single guitar accompanying Chloe Cox’s pleading voice, joined in time by slightly off center rhythm and pace. The most aggressive vocals appear in this song, and here the music lives up to the band’s own description that its work is “a clash of emotional and musical contradictions, soft and harsh, calm and hysterical.” The next two songs – “Wait ’Til Night” and “Scorpio Moon” – share a sourness, a sort of clashing twinge in the composition that ties them together in my head. “Back To The Ground” is eerie, like a slow murder in the mist. “Void Share Void” is a study of emptiness where the sorrow eases quietly along, occasionally interrupted by punctuating bursts. “Curse” feels like a story of fate being imposed on you and “Where No Light Remains” has an ambient soft roar underlying the gentle singing and sympathetic piano that removes all resistance from your mind.

The album ends with “I Let You In,” which is the loudest in the set, beginning as it does with coarse, crossing instruments. Cox’s voice moves from its quietude to straining against the recurring theme of regret. The first song and the last song together create an ethereal border that holds all the music in the set together. I find this album to be solemn and darkly soothing. Recommended.

Wait ’Til Night is available now. The digital is an easy get at Bandcamp, and Brilliant Emperor has released a vinyl version as well as a merch bundle (shop link below).

Links.

Empress Bandcamp, https://empressempress.bandcamp.com

Empress Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/empress.band.empress

Label Shop, https://brilliantemperor.bigcartel.com

Label Bandcamp, https://brilliantemperor.bandcamp.com

Empress, Wait ’Til Night review (Brilliant Emperor 2020)

Ten Million Lights, Shine So Bright review (2020)

Portland, Oregon’s own Ten Million Lights reach out through the murk of 2020 to pass along new music with the five-song EP Shine So Bright.

Ryan Carroll and Eric Block starting putting together the band a little over ten years ago. After a few EPs and two full length albums, Shine So Bright is the latest entry in the well hewn house of Ten Million Lights. The lineup is completed by Russ Ellis (bass) and Paul Hardie (drums), and these four musicians have together created a sound that passes between the realms of action and lament, haunting them both.

The set opens with a tromping beat and a little feedback on “Better To Know.” Carroll’s vocals are sweet and far away, floating in the world the guitars and pedals create. The music has a buoyant pop feel in the first three songs, and starts to turn more serious on the last two.

Given the generally serene and layered arrangements, the single element that stands out most is the drumming, which is crisp and clicks off the occasional free radical. The bass lines raise a voice of their own sometimes too, standing out in my memory on “The Swirl,” the longest song and most dismal in tone – also the closer. These five songs then listen like positive reassurance in the shifting sands we all now walk and also cautionary acknowledgement of the gravity of the situation. Balanced, I would call it.

Out on Friday, October 2, Shine So Bright can be had at Bandcamp and through the band’s website at the links below. Along with the singles that have been released from this new one, traipse through the back catalogue and associated music you can find on the band’s website. You are sure to discover some shining kernels there. Recommended.

Links.

https://tenmillionlights.bandcamp.com/

tenmillionlights.com/

https://www.facebook.com/tenmillionlights

Ten Million Lights, Shine So Bright review (2020)

Watertank, Silent Running review (Atypeek Music 2020)

The new one from Watertank is a chronicle of entwined imagining and tangential observations related in a language from another world that, against all odds, makes perfect sense.

Watertank is from Nantes, France. Silent Running is the band’s third album, following Destination Unknown (2015) and Sleepwalk (2013). Tagged as post-hardcore and shoegaze, the music is persistent and loaded with creative guitar riffs. The musicians are Romain Donet on guitar, Jocelyn Liorzou on drums, and Thomas Boutet singing and playing both guitar and bass.

The cover image is something that looks like a Tardigrade Stegosaurus that has leapt through a pane of glass. That would be quite a feat for a microscopic organism. The layering of the unusual and the unexpected into an amalgam that you somehow accept is an excellent image of the music on the album, which is somewhat more complex and reaching compared to the band’s earlier releases.

The album opens with “Envision,” which warps in on a squeal that drops off a cliff to a tramping rock-pop riff driver that carries a crooked edge. It is a creative mixing of known devices to generate a different sound and, even more importantly, a feeling that shifts unexpectedly from goodtime to uneasy. “Suffogaze” starts with a nice Tony Iommi-inspired riff, and as with the first track, shifts and bends in a way that is not just a quirk. Some of time the music has a very heads-down resoluteness to it and at other times there are lively rock and heavy guitar moments. The vocals are melodic and often soft, even whispering. That quiet element pressed against disconsonant chords or heavy guitar pulses further enwarbles your thinking as the music works its way through you. By the time “Cryptobiosis” comes around at the end, you are willing to believe in the world you have heard.

Silent Running is out now. Bandcamp has the download and there is also a vinyl version available.

Links.

https://www.facebook.com/wtrtnk

https://watertank.bandcamp.com

http://atypeekmusic.com/Atypeek_Music.html

Watertank, Silent Running review (Atypeek Music 2020)