Sound Of Smoke, Tales (Tonzonen Records 2022)

You will understand the name of the band when you listen to their music. Sound Of Smoke’s Tales will take you away.

Formed in 2016 in Freiburg, Germany, Sound Of Smoke is a bluesy heavy psych band choosing their own path in a crowded lane. They previously released an EP called Eleutheromania, and Tales appears to be their first full-length album. The band is Isabelle Bapté (vocals, keys), Jens Stöver (guitar), Florian Kiefer (bass), and Johannes Braunstein (drums).

The set includes a cover of Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit,” “Devil’s Voice,” which was on the earlier release, and five more songs that appear to be originals.

“Witch Boogie” is my favorite track – I just love the way it eases into the atmosphere like gathering fog, then thickens and deepens while it envelops you. The voice of Isabelle Bapté is positively mesmerizing. The guitar is urging and the bass will not be denied. Incredible.

“Dreamin’” has a soul of doom and a wicked approach that you can see coming but you cannot avoid. It is a spellcaster. The lead guitar work is lyrical and lightens the tone a bit when it rolls out. “Human Salvation” is another notable track. It runs ten minutes and is the anchor piece for the album. Typically, in a song this long you have different, separate movements that are identifiable as essentially shorter individual songs. That is not true of “Human Salvation.” It is genuinely one entirety that would suffer if it were truncated. Each of the elements is essential, and they all work together to create the whole.

This album is the first music I have heard from Sound Of Smoke, but it won’t be the last. I will be watching closely and listening to whatever they create. Recommended.

Tales hits the streets on Friday, February 18th through Tonzonen Records. In the US, Bandcamp is a good place to pick up the record.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://soundofsmoke.bandcamp.com/releases

Sound Of Smoke website, https://www.soundofsmoke.de/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/soundofsmoke

Tonzonen Records, https://www.tonzonen.de/

Sound Of Smoke, Tales (Tonzonen Records 2022)

Moop, Ostara (Tonzonen Records 2021)

Dark jazz trio Moop reorganize for a second album that is heavy on the avant-garde and filled with twists and miasms.

Moop is from France and the band for the new album is Erwin Toul (drums), William Brandy (saxophone), and Julien Coupet (guitar). The first album came out in 2017 and kept to a more linear trajectory than Ostara. The free form nature of the new set might be thought of as representing the coming Spring, or maybe something more mutated or forlorn. The experience is in the ears of the listener.

When creating music with three principal instruments – sax, guitar, and drums – the apparent starting point is a jazz mentality. The feeling and themes however come across to me as very dark. I guess that could just be the way I am receiving it. Still, there is an acoustic doom resonance hereabouts, a persistent feeling of dread and calamity that never goes away.

There are four songs on the album, with two long ones on side one and a long and a short track on the flip side. The music never goes for the big heavy, and the saxophone is the most prominent voice throughout. Confusion and forlornity are the guiding lights. There are extended passages of what many would surely call avant-garde, and the chaos is often disorienting.

This album is very different from the music I usually listen to, and I mean that as broadly as possible. Rare is the day indeed that intentionality would bring this to my turntable. Somehow it hit me just right when I listened to it in the dead of winter in New England. If I had been naming this album, I would probably have gone with “Mabon” instead of the more optimistic “Ostara,” but whatever it might be called, it will set you off on a perpendicular path. Recommended.

Ostara becomes fully available on Friday, February 26th. Pre-orderers get one track in advance and the rest on the drop day. Bandcamp is the place to go for the cassette, CD, vinyl, or digital instantiations.

Links.

Bandcamp: https://moopercrew.bandcamp.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/moopercrew

Label: https://www.tonzonen.de

Moop, Ostara (Tonzonen Records 2021)