Black Midi’s bmbmbm

surprisingly, some fresh air aroused today from london city, offering a pounding noisy flavour to the brexit’s current bustle. conveyed by a young 4-head band named Black Midi, one of new British music’s hottest properties according to NME, this may be the opportunity to raise the tone of the debate. Black Midi evidently made quite an impression at 2018’s Great Escape Festival in Brighton, one of the best scouting festivals for batrachians who are hungry for fresh musical blood. bmbmbm demonstrates a certain level of rage and explosive temper. an obsessive guitar line sets the tone, supported by drums that quickly distort the linearity of the rising melody. the musical bed is dessicated, a voice appears, spoken words backed up by a woman’s screams taken probably from a film sequence. passions flare quite quickly and evolve in a noisy tornado of tempers, where the four gentlemen lose their nerves with a certain elegance.

no one seems to know yet much about Black Midi, with the exception maybe of the lads’ names, i.e. Greep, Picton, Kelvin and Simpson, that’s already something. the band starts precisely today a short British tour, among which six gigs are already sold out, so we assume we should hear very soon again from them. no dates outside the UK are announced yet but luckily enough, KEXP offers us a full session of the band’s performance, recorded in late november at Kex Hostel in Reykjavik during Iceland Airwaves 2018. this might be needless to say that your speakers should be at the maximum, of course.


Mogwai’s KIN soundtrack

the tireless and amazing Mogwai announce today the forthcoming release of KIN: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, which is due for release on 31st august via their Rock Action Records label. the band invites us to discover already two very appealing new songs, on one hand, the very shoe-gazing We’re Not Done, a new contagious, and cheerful, singalong melody,

and also the dreamlike, but very intense, Donuts that sees Mogwai carrying on their beguiling journey to the outer space.

the original score was made for Jonathan and Josh Baker‘s debut film, which release is also expected on 31st august. available on CD, digital and heavyweight black vinyl, this new soundtrack is available to pre order now at

Sällskapet’s Disparition

last evening we were rummaging about in one of our record shops, when the recommendation section appealed to us through an alluring cover. a black and white beauty showing punctilious geometrical sketches of buildings, strongly inspired by the darkest hours of humanity. a sticker displayed on the plastic packaging revealing the participation of german artist Andrea Schroeder convinced us that the discovery of Sällskapet would be the most remarkable finding of the day. and, as a matter of fact, it was.

founded in 2003 but kept secret until 2007, the brainchild of Joakim Thåström, Pelle Ossler and Niklas Hellberg, seem to have received almost an immediate critical acclaim, at least in their homeland, in sweden. Sällskapet (which may be translated by “a small group of people” or a “small society”) released the very same year a debut single Nordlicht, named after a bar in hamburg, and two ambient-industrial albums respectively entitled Sällskapet (2007) and Nowy Port (2013). it must be said that both of them evinced already a strong appetite for highly-enjoyable dystopian flavours and murky shadows. with 2018’s Disparition published a few days ago via BMG, the band that no longer consists of Thåström who appears however as guest singer, further widens the furrow of desperation and propounds a disquieting suburban wander in an oppressive, uninviting wasteland – served also by Andrea Schroeder’s eerie voice. Hellberg resides currently in berlin and this explains logically the relevant presence of Schroeder on this third album, and the singular hopelessness instilled through the nine meaningful pieces offered by Disparition.

the heart-rending (german) lyrics of this breathtaking songwriter and musician, whose discovery a few years ago had hooked us on for months, pair superbly with Sällskapet’s haunted airspace. together, they collide with the disruptive disappearance of both people and time, the fugacity of our lives that fly away like impatient birds, and the needfulness to enjoy each moment, as they arise.
all this might sound quite distressing and tragic, but the warmth of Andrea Schroeder’s undaunted voice suggests to withstand, even if time remains elusive eventually. in Die Zeit vergeht (time is flying by), the piano and violin notes, and Schroeder’s mellow lalalas magnified by Thåström’s upper voice,  make every effort to soothe the palpable tension but are quickly rejoin by sultry and threatening humming. the end of the song sets clearly the tone anyway, since “es ist zu spät” (it’s too late). an obvious magnificence emanates from this inescapable despair through Ossler’s roaring guitar, which howl acts as a cry wolf in a puzzling winsomeness.

Westerplatte and Tiefenrausch, the both unspoken songs, confirms the inevitability of the verdict in a very beguiling spectral way. this might be the very end, but this is a very beautiful one. with Walzer, Schroeder breathes nerve, shows that all this is bearable, provided that you/she hold tight to someone – “an Dich” (to you), this very you that may be a lover, a friend, a compass, a lifeline, indeed something, someone of upper importance. in Wandler, Andrea Schroeder tells about her stroll in ghostly streets. she dreams about life, about death, she states that this is only a dream, yet it conveys a bitter aftertaste that this is an inescapable loophole.

in the end, it makes no difference whether you understand Goethe’s language or not, because Sällskapet’s music and surroundings, together with Shroeder’s cogent interpretation, speak for themselves and deliver the message intended quite plainly. unquestionably, Disparition is the ideal spacey companion till doomsday and has already entered the competition for the best album of the year. because never before had the quietus been so inviting.
Disparition can be purchased here.

Loscil’s Boreal

in 2016, Monument Builders, Loscil‘s 11th album to date, had shaken the pond with a boundless, high-spiritual beauty. Scott Morgan, who acts behind the moniker of Loscil and was also the drummer of the amazing indie band Destroyer, has been writing experimental, ambient music from his homeland in vacouver, canada, since 1998. unsurprisingly, his contemplative music is housed at Kranky, one of best labels, if not the greatest, dedicated to this very kind of music that scorns confined boundaries and wanders towards puzzling, yet appealing, unlimited landscapes.

Loscil has just released a graceful composition entitled Boreal. this beautiful piece of reverie and escapement was created using samples from Glenn Gould’s former Steinway Piano – CD318, which is currently housed at the National Arts Centre in ottawa. Boreal is an excerpt from a set created for Ryuichi Sakamoto’s Glenn Gould gathering held in tokyo in december of 2017 and we sincerely hope it may spark off a new captivating album.

Pale Grey

bosom friends of melancholy, heady bum-swinging melodies and musical experiments, they will for sure greatly rejoice to discover Pale Grey‘s music. the pond got hooked today by the band’s most recent song entitled Late Night featuring the terrific voice (and phrasing) of Serengeti, one of the pond’s favourite rappers.

the four-headed belgian band published last year a very elegant EP entitled Ghost via Jaune Orange and has just released Waves, a very inspired second album on which indie pop, electronica and groove pair admirably with hip hop, but also abstract notes and evident spleen. the band’s new album is a logical follow-up of their 2013’s Best Friends that contained already very valuable and peerless melodies. Pale Grey’s post-rock stimulus has been evidently eclipsed by more incisive shining indie tunes and thoughtful compositions.

Waves is a sparkling wonder, the perfect nonesuch to wait for the spring. you can listen to it entirely and purchase it here.

Jóhann Jóhannsson 1969-2018 — a closer listen, a tribute by Richard Allen

to commemorate Jóhann Jóhannsson’s early death, we invite you to read Richard Allen’s tribute on A Closer Listen. as you may know, the pond and A Closer Listen share more or less the same taste for music, especially when it goes to ambient and post rock music. and especially when Richard Allen takes up his pen to sublime the music we also enjoy.

One of our favorite composers, Jóhann Jóhannsson, passed away on Friday in Berlin at the age of 48, and we already miss him. In addition to producing some of the finest music of our time, he was also a wonderful conductor and humble performer. His notes speak directly to the heart, which is why our hearts []

the pond was devastated as we heard about the death that the wonderful, unique, magnificent Jóhann Jóhannsson. we had the great chance to meet him personally in 2004 in Reykjavik after the release of his very first, already brilliant, album, Engläborn, which had kept us company on our road tour in iceland.

the loss of this incomparable composer is pretty disheartening, but his music will keep our soul and body together, possibly until the end of time.

Mogwai’s eternal panther

while listening to a few albums on Temporary Residence’s bandcamp (that generously offer a free streaming of their almost entire roaster), we discovered the single of Party in the Dark released by Mogwai last summer prior to the release of Every Country’s Sun, which we didn’t know nor had heard of.

this single contains one of the most singalong melodies written by the band and is accompanied by Eternal Panther, a very interesting B-Side that doesn’t appear on Mogwai’s 9th album. for the first time, Stuart Braithwaite (guitarist/vocalist) sings well-hearty, uncovered, unfiltered, without special effect but his only voice. interpreted with an apodictic determination, the message provided by this seldom-heard voice is intensified by distorted, hasty guitars, heady keyboard notes and very frantic drums. 2 minutes and 43 seconds of eruptive la-la-la-rock, with a striking New Order touch.

APTBS announce Pinned

oh joy, A Place To Bury Strangers released today a new song on their bandcamp page entitled Never Coming Back that announced Pinned, a new album coming out april 13rd via Dead Oceans. any enlightened ears will for sure notice the female voice contributing to Ackerman’s usual chocked (mesmerizing) phrasing – a voice that belongs to Lia Simone Braswell, APTBS’s new drummer.

explaining Braswell’s arrival in the band, Ackerman pointed it out (that)

“being a band for ten years, it’s hard to keep things moving forward. i see so many bands that have been around and they’re a weaker version of what they used to be. this band is anti-that. we try to push ourselves constantly, with the live shows and the recordings. we always want to get better. you’ve got to dig deep and take chances, and sometimes, i questioned that. it took really breaking through to make it work. i think we did that.”

Pinned‘s both LP and CD bundles can already be pre-ordered here and here. the tracklist so far is the following:

1. Never Coming Back
2. Execution
3. There’s Only One Of Us
4. Situations Changes
5. Too Tough To Kill
6. Frustrated Operator
7. Look Me In The Eye
8. Was It Electric
9. I Know I’ve Done Bad Things
10. Act Your Age
11. Attitude
12. Keep Moving On

as usual, the band will tour extensively in the USA and in Europe, with as essential stop at the pond on May 7th. all the tour dates are available on Dead Oceans website.

and, last but not least, Never Coming Back exists also under the form of a video directed by Oliver Ackermann himself and Ebru Yildiz.

No Age’s Send Me

No Age’s Randy Randall and Dean Allen Spunt unveiled Snares Like a Haircut, a new album released a few days ago on Drag City.

taken from this new upper-class noise-rock record, Send Me shows that No Age’s witty eloquence is still in great shape. the video was directed by Jonn Herschend and the connoisseurs will recognize both Spunt and Randall in the leading roles.

at the end of february, the band will start an extensive tour in both the USA and Europe, so be prepared to welcome them in the pond on march 22nd. Snares Like a Haircut can be purchased here, here and here.

top of the top: 2017

full of encouragements to fight the system and punch up big brother’s offer to experiment hatred of others and artificial cleverness, 2017 was a vindictive year indeed. and yet, our favourite albums of the year were made, again, of both tender and raging shades with, at the uppermost point, Algiers and their remarkable The Underside Of Power. apart from this latter, the following albums are our favourite ones and their order of appearance doesn’t suggest any position in class. enjoy this yearly review!

our favourite albums

— Algiers, The Underside Of Power

in 2015, when the band released their first eponym album, the pond was not ready yet to lend a favourable ear to gospel or soul resonances. we enjoyed quite a lot the sonority and complexity of it, but we simply left it aside, unjustly forgetting about it. in 2017, Cry Of The Martyr hooked us by surprise on the radio, and since then, the pond’s record deck has been passionately glued to The Underside Of Power. Algiers’ somophore remarkable album is a noisy, convincing invitation to struggle. the lyrics and stage performance of Franklin James Fisher compel respect due to the soundness of the words he writes. together with the rest of the band, Algiers demonstrate an indestructible cohesion and deliver a timeless and wondrous record at a breathless pace. Power To The People!
breathtaking: Cleveland + MME Rieux

— Idles, Brutalism

the title of Idles‘ first album tells everything about the hot-blooded music condensed by this exciting/excited band from bristol. Brutalism will provide any vegans with all the necessary proteins to smash the face of greedy carnivores, thanks to singularly catchy refrains that are supported by sumptuous stinging guitars, an amazing incisive bass and a thrilling sense of humour. Idles are edgy, resolute blokes; the band’s lyrics stick utterly to the gloomy british way of life (the best way to scare a Tory is to read and get rich, taken from Mother), and echo perfectly the bite and the frenzy of their music. the band deploys an abrasive punk that makes passes at noise and post punk without failing. the wildness of the record springs clearly from an understandable emergency state. na na na na na na, nothing ever happens, nothing but one of the best records of the year.
bombastic: Divide and Conquer + 1049 Gotho

— Slowdive, Slowdive

strolling at the record shop in late may, our hearts respectively exulted and crumbled at hearing both Star Roving and Sugar For The Pill. still uncertain to recognize Neil Halstead‘s voice, the frog’s eyes frowned at identifying Rachel Goswell’s, whose voice never really convinced its hard-to-please ears (until today). bloody hell, is this Slowdive? on the british shoegazing riviera, this shoegaze legendary band never really appealed to us as much as My Bloody Valentine, but with this unexpected comeback 22 years later, we were more than enthusiast at discovering this really enchanting new album soberly entitled Slowdive. the opening title Slomo sets the tone immediately, with the thick bed of guitars specific to shoegaze and an aerial, dreamy singing, which elevates with magnificence. alone the delicate looping piano notes, and the unison between Goswell and Halstead on Falling Ashing is a pure bliss. spleen, tenderness and goose-pimples are at their most with the aforementioned songs, and No Longer Making Time, the jewel of the crown, illustrates the renaissance of terrific high arpeggiated guitars. what a revival splendour.
dreamlike gazing: Star Roving + No Longer Making Time

— Run The Jewels, RTJ3

at the very beginning of 2017, El-P and Killer Mike aka Run The Jewels dropped a genuine bomb – a defiant reckoning, a riot manifesto, another invitation to resist against the oppression and regain the powers (Hey Kids feat. Danny Brown or Don’t get Captured). since RTJ1, their first album (2013), Run The Jewels have been addressing a powerful message to surrender, but this new record is by far the most (vindictively) fiery-tempered, and maybe also the best produced record. the production is in turns coldly dispassionate (Call Ticketron, Legend Has It Is), incredibly generous (Thursday In The Danger Room, feat. Kamasi Washington or the amazing A Report To The Shareholders: Kill Your Masters feat. Zach de la Rocha) and warmly beastie rocky (2100, Oh Mama), and it emphasizes with éclat the lyrics spouted in a round. on RTJ3, the band rejoined again the forces with BOOTS (2100) who already illuminated RTJ2 with his soothing soft voice that contrasts happily with the belligerent rapping flow. oh well, it may be easy to define this golden nugget as another jewel from RTJ, but this is another essential, meaningful album of the year.
killing: Call Ticketron + 2100

— Autism, Film Noir

concocted by a young-blood band called Autism, our favourite post-rock/post-metal album of the year comes from lithuania. Film Noir draws its melancholic/tempestuous inspiration from films (noirs), which dialogues accompany the band occasionally to unveil a clear necessity to rampage. Autism’s second album is a collection of brilliantly produced instrumental songs that explores contrasting emotional states, ranging from ominous pessimist temper to spleenful reflection. even if the band’s ill-tempered guitars may sometimes attempt to sooth the most profound despair, these guitars, precisely, tempt more to expel a fury de rigueur than indulging in melancholy. originally a one-man-band studio project headed by Tomhetas Hobitukas, the today four-headed line-up has a very bright future ahead, and it was not easy to classify Film Noir in our yearly review: best new comer, best album or best artwork (the LP includes superb pictures and a layout supervised by Eric Sageby). Autism is evidently one of our very favourite albums of the year.
mind-blowing: Humanity – Crescendo + Brittle Bones

— Mogwai, Every Country’s Sun

to the grumpy fellas who criticize the glasgow post-rock kings for their would-be repeating tunes, Mogwai gave in 2017 a substantial evidence of their knack for biting rock melodies – with a brilliant ninth studio album. alone the opening song Coolverine is a mordant introduction to one of the greatest records of the band. Martin Bulloch’s prevailing, amazing drums seem to be the guiding force as the album unfurls, alternating between musing landscapes and blisteringly rock parts. surprisingly, Mogwai also try their hands at shoegazing pop melodies with Party In The Dark – a genuine hit song. if Every Country’s Sun doesn’t turn away from the spacey atmosphere provided widely over the past years thanks to Barry Burns’ keyboards (through Les Revenants‘s soundtrack, among others), guitars are joyfully back in force (Battled At A ScrambleDon’t Believe The Fife, along with the eponym final title). this is probably the most unexpected album of the year – and a grandiose one.
monumental: Old Poisons + Every Country’s Sun

Fleet Foxes, Crack-Up

considering the pretty brutal songs which helped us to withstand and refuse to accept the society that is coming apart at the seams, we were a little shaken up to be stirred immediately by Fleet Foxes’ complex yet magnificent third album. most specifically by the devastating emotional six-minute opening, which title is an enigmatic incantation and resembles no other song written by Fleet Foxes to date. as Robin Pecknold’s muffled voice whispers I am all I need, and I’ll be, till I’m through, never before were his lyrics that movingly inward-looking, even if this emotion is swiftly contained as the guitars and the established, beloved, choral singing follows close behind. yet, the song reserves graceful surprises, delightful cracks up, when Pecknold’s voice interrupts the untroubled hymn flow to state a message admittedly personal but needful, a message that is also perceivable in the superb Cassius,- orNaiads, Cassadies. deeply beautiful and very poignant at times (irresistible If You Need To, Keep Time On Me and the breathtaking closing Crack-Up), luminous and pastoral (Mearcstapa, Kept Woman), Fleet Foxes show once again their virtuosity.
amazingly inspiring: I Am All That I Need / Arroyo Seco / Thumbprint Scar

— GrandBrothers, Open

the years have taught us to wait until the very end of december before wrapping up our best-of, because there is always an unexpected (fantastic) record that turns the whole ranking upside down. and this year, it took GrandBrothers only one song (Bloodlfow) to pick us up. it may be too easy to draw a parallel between GrandBrothers and the numerous piano projects that come from the pond (Hauschka or Nils Frahm, to mention just a few of them). however, the music of Lucas Voget (electronics) and Erol Sarp (piano) intertwines with perfection the notes of a prepared piano and captivating electronic loops. second album of the band, Open is an enlightening and happy-go-lucky album. Sarp and Voget are delicate magicians who know how to captivate the audience, oscillating between medidative melodies and downtempo constructions. fanciful, wholehearted but also surprisingly innovative, Open is a magnificent, paramount record.
mind-blowing: Sonic Riots + Bloodflow

— Do Make Say Think, Stubborn Persistent Illusions

any releases by Do Make Say Think (DMST) is an event en-soi. pretty skilled at making themselves scarce, the band is not a talkative one, nor a band who organises worldwide tours to promote their outstanding music – the perfect synthesis between post-rock, electronic, jazz and many other things. however, seeing Do Make Say Think in concert or discovering a new album is always comparable to a sacred or, at least, unforgettable experience. eight (everlasting) years separate Stubborn Persistent Illusions from Other Truths, their impeccable previous album which gave us a raging fever that is still manifest today. Stubborn Persistent Illusions preserves the role played by the band’s singular flair and aesthetic without never parroting itself. it is at once as beautifully familiar and uncommon (Horripilation) as anything DMST has produced to date. this new record offers no revolution, but a bucolic, shaking interlude of sixty minutes of artistry and blissfulness. another sensational album from one of our favourite bands.
outstanding: Bound / And Boundless

among the best songs
the most thrilling songs of the year were compiled with great care and passion in nothing more, our sampler of the year that also includes amazing songs by the none-less amazing Sleaford Mods, Amenra, Oneohtrix Point Never, Broken Social Scene and The National. remember that a simple click on any of the aforementioned bands/musicians will redirect you to their bandcamp page or website, where their music may be streamed freely. as usual, we dearly encourage you to purchase the songs and albums that you enjoyed the most to support the bands’ stunning work.

best concerts
Avec Le Soleil Sortant De Sa Bouche @ Monarch, february 2017
Nyos @ Überraschung, april 2017
Arab Strap @ POP-Kultur Festival, august 2017
James Wellburn + Moe + Dead @ Acud, october 2017
Algiers + HOPE @ Lido, november 2017

the killing surprise of the year
as we attended feverishly Nothing’s concert in late august at Cassiopeia, two belgian bands opened this fantastic evening: the contagiously overjoyed Cocaine Piss and the enjoyably noisy Kapitan Korsakov that captivated us at once. the band released this year a very handsome third album (produced by Steve Albini) entitled Physical Violence Is The Least Of My Priorities, which we warmly recommend. headed by Pieter-Paul Devos (voice and guitar), the band also includes Pieter Van Mullem (bass) and Bert Minnaert (drums), and the three of them compose both serious noisy bombs and very seductive melodies.


best newcomers
when opening for Algiers in late november, HOPE spellbound the audience with their intense musical performance, which dragged us towards the bottom of the deepest whirring waters. HOPE’s music was a perfect introduction to Algier’s and disseminated a thunderous and pleasantly disquieting atmosphere. the band’s lyrics are written and performed as a proclamation by Christine Börsch-Supan, whose feverish and athletic gestures first amused us smirkily before we finally succumbed to her voice, at the very moment when howling guitars and a mesmerising synthesizer invited us to close our eyes. soberly entitled HOPE, the band’s first album is as shadowy as bewitching – a certain kind of paragon.

best album artwork
the deluxe double vinyl edition of DMST’s Stubborn Persistent Illusions features 2×180 gram audiophile pressing from Optimal (germany) in a gatefold jacket with printed inner dust sleeves, 12″x12″ art/credit insert, 12″x24″ art print poster and side four vinyl etching, all printed on uncoated boards and papers. the record featured original commissioned artwork by Marianne Collins. the CD edition featured hereafter comes in a custom mini-gatefold jacket printed on 100% recycled textured paperboard with a printed inner dust sleeve and 5″x15″ fold-out credit insert.

the cherry on the cake
in 2017, Festsaal Kreuzberg, one of the frog’s favourite gig venues rose from the ashes, after being nullified by a destructive inferno in 2013. the old charming wooden venue is now a gorgeous industrial concert hall, including a fireplace, where we saw GY!BE in november. the word HOPE, which appeared behind Godspeed as the band opened the show was of great significance. a possible well-hearted invitation to carry on.