Album Review: June 4-Pack (2)

I have got really behind with my reviews this year. It’s not that I’ve been particularly writing less, there just seems to be more to write about. It gets to the stage where there is do much that I want to bring to your attention that I have to periodically do a series of shorter reviews, not because I think any less of these albums… rather because it would be highly remiss if I didn’t feature them. Here then is the second of two ‘4-packs’ of eight brilliant albums that have been on my ‘to do’ list for a while now.

(04) by [BOLT]

Emerging out of oppressive silence and ending up in ecstatic noise and drone, [ B O L T ] create waving sounds and crushing riffs. The trio presents a set in between the genres of drone, doom and metal.

[BOLT] bandcamp page

Well actually that about sums it up. This is actually a release from late last year, but one I’ve only recently come across. For me it’s one of those recordings that you know that you are going to like from the very first few bars. Part of this is because the drone-like nature of this music means that there is not a lot that changes once you get into it, and that is absolutely fine. No, actually, it’s brilliant. The dark monotone (rather than monotonous) nature of this music is wonderfully exploratory and gives you a sense that it is really plumbing the depths.

[BOLT], as the above description suggests, are a trio; and are from Duisburg deep in the heart of the Ruhr region of Germany, the old industrial heart of the country. And it shows through the music. As Black Sabbath epitomised their industrial Birmingham roots of the 1970s, so you can see post-industrial decay seeping from every sonic pore here.

This, then is not an easy listen, especially when the blackest of black metal guitar bubbles up like an exploding volcano covering everything with its riffage of lava… leaving a steam of aural destruction in its wake bringing in some really effective juxtapositions of sound, a contrast essentially between black and blacker.

Aktivität by Verstärker

Man I’ve been wanting to write something about this for ages now and for some reason it never got to the top of the list. I’m correcting that wrong here now, and by saying that this is absolutely bloody brilliant. For anyone who likes their motorik this is a nailed on essential release from Tonzonen Records, who have picked this 2015 and preserved it in vinyl for posterity. If they hadn’t it would have been a great shame if this had been lost in the mists of time.

Verstärker are a three-piece from Kentucky in the USA, and through this record they have provided us with five massive chunks of music that to a greater or lesser extent pulses and hammers its way through the gears like one of those massive German saloons powering down the autobahn… if you get in the way you can expect to feel the full sonic force sandblasting your face as it blasts past.

That’s not to say that Verstärker are a one trick pony here either. There are plenty moments when the band stop for an acid fuzz break, or meander down more bucolic lanes, but overall feeling is one of the sort of modernity that we used to dream of. With Verstärker you can dream big!

Kräuter der Provinz by Datashock

…and the motorik beat keeps going at the beginning of this latest album from German collective Datashock, which was recorded even earlier than the Verstärker album, in 2014; but is thankfully seeing a release now on the always excellent Bureau B label.

I first came across Datashock with their 2014 release ‘Keine Oase in Sicht’, and should really have done something with the release in-between that and this, ‘HD_Trailer’… hopefully I’m making up for that now.

But this is not the same sort of album as ‘Aktivität’ and goes of more in directions that you would expect from Datashock. The result of a series of long improvised sessions this is music that is constantly on the move, developing and changing at dipping into areas that traverse many different types of rock and world music. We’re taken on a cook’s tour of many music genre happily following wherever these eight musicians from different parts of German want to lead us, and we are left guessing where we are going to be taken next.

There’s some Eno in here, some tribal music, there the native krautiness of Amon Düül, there’s drone, there’s jazz structures… hell there’s so much in here that you wonder how these guys can just get together and produce something so coherent and yet so different.

All in all this is a hugely satisfying album to listen to because the music on it is great, but mainly because there’s the potential here for it to be a different experience EVERY time you listen to it.

Estructuras de aire, colonias de soplo by ihä

I try to make these ‘4-Pack’ reviews like a evening’s listening, and here have started with something dark and foreboding and gradually working towards this album from ihä (a solo project by Chile’s Ignacio Moreno Fluxà) which is far more gentle and serene. This is the sort of album that you can just sit back and listen to, letting the ambient sounds flow over and through you.

To be released by Ce chemin est le bon (digital) and Necio Records (CD/ digital) it is music that at times almost isn’t there, in stark contract to the [BOLT] album above which emerges from ‘oppressive silence’. This is a near silence that is anything but oppressive. This is music that creates a wonderful listening space. A place to listen to the music, but also listen to yourself as you drift along on the subtle rhythms and gentle sonic waves.

I had not particularly though of the relationship between silence and this sort of near silence before, but it seems obvious now upon listening to this how this sort of subtle ambience can be such a catalyst for thought, in the way that listening to the waves when starting out to sea can. This, then, is like sitting on an imaginary beach starting out on a virtual sea and just being… and that is a beautiful place to be.



Thanks very much for reading my blog, I really appreciate this. I write it as a labour of love to help me enjoy music, and to give something back to the many talented people who put out these incredible sounds.

To make it as enjoyable as possible for others I do pay extra so there are, for instance, no ads on these pages; but it would be great if I could recoup that money back.

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