Exit 22 Music: “Last Goodbye” – one of the finest musical acts in the pop-rock underground

It seems almost impossible that an artist that has been around this long – 20 years in Chris Calamera’s case, can keep making records that stand up among the best that he has ever done. Let’s be clear: “Last Goodbye” is a great song. It’s poppy, with a big melody and an insistent rock rhythm, and it’s catchy as hell. Sounds like authentic Exit 22 Music to me. This is pure Calamera from his pop-rock songwriting style standpoint, and pure Exit 22 Music, considering the breathtaking vocals and high production-value quotient. The perfect, power-pop formula. Exit 22 Music has been keeping

Lake of the Lion embodies embody emotive sounds and textures

Lake of the Lion is the brand name and moniker for Luxembourg music composer and producer, Daniel Kohnen, who is steadily building up his catalog and increasing his fan-base with regular new releases. In recent years, ambient instrumental and soundtrack scores have been following a certain trend. Composers seem to have this motif of creating overblown pieces with harsh lead instruments blasting out from the blue and background strings creating suspense with their melodies. Sure it was fun for a while, but within that little span of time listeners were just begging for it to stop because composers had this

Natalie Jean and Levi Moore: “The Letting Go” speaks the language of the ordinary person

A good duet, in our modern age, is a rare thing. There are plenty of features, guest verses and co-writes, and the cameo drop-in is a dime a dozen. The number of genuine duets, where vocalists share verses and tell a story together in the space of a song, is very small. If your optimism fails you, as you wonder whether there are enough great acts to keep hit radio stocked with worthy pop music duets, it’s reassuring to find that Natalie Jean and Levi Moore have a first-rate single to carry us through the next few months, all by itself. The

MAKI: ‘Waking Up With The World On Fire’ – truly majestic — grandiose, slowly unfolding, and extremely cinematic

The world is a fragmented place, with fear and hate giving rise to isolationist movements around the globe and huge portions of the population turning inward rather than outward towards each other. As such waves of bigotry spread like wildfire, the music scene becomes extremely important, not just because it means more great music, but because it connects us all together on a wavelength that hits the human heart, soul and mind even harder, faster and deeper than anger can. A creative constant in the field of communicative contemporary Instrumental music, is MAKI who focuses his ample talents on a

3 Phase – ready for genre domination!

The names Chirag Shah, Prasham Deliwala and Melvin Saldana may in themselves not ring a familiar bell in your ear right now. Probably, neither will the moniker ‘3 Phase’, nor their 6 track self-titled EP. It’s logical, it’s the law of the industry’s hype machine – cast a light on the big label clones, and leave the independent creatives in the shadows. Luckily the internet has a different set of rules.  On hearing the 3 Phase EP, the lofty ambition, the focus and dedication of this creative collective of producers, songwriters and vocal talent, makes sense – its six tracks

Sy: “Get Out Of My Dreams” – grab this R&B and Soul extravaganza

The singer, songwriter and author, Sy, releases a brand new single produced by Rueben Wood. The track “Get Out Of My Dreams” is the first single release written by the artist in 2018, since writing two self-help books, “A Swan Among Ducks” and “Saying Yes to (No): Learning the Power of (No) before the end of 2017. This track soulfully captures the spirit and feel of the emotional journey of grown womanhood. It is juicy, dynamic, soulful, gorgeous, and it is nourishment for the soul…and mind, as it examines the intricacies of a relationship built on want and lust. As

IJK: “Johnny & June” – sounds invigorated!

Alternative rock artist Imad Jack Karam, known by his initials and stage name IJK, is a Dubai-based, Lebanese singer-songwriter, who has released critically acclaimed songs and recorded with internationally known music producers in prestigious London studios. Both his singles “Space Odyssey” and “Dancing Shadows” garnered a positive reception from fans and critics alike. IJK has a style that can move between edgy modern-day alt-rock and sixties rock n’ roll crooning.  He recently published his latest single and supporting, fully animated video, for the song “Johnny & June”. So, how does this new offering cope? Very well, in truth. “Johnny &

TRVP HIPPI3Z: “On Lock” – no lack of muscular skill-flexing!

TRVP HIPPI3Z is a Canadian rap duo who just dropped their latest single entitled, “On Lock”.  Listeners beware. This product has been known to blow up and cause fires in a variety of stereo systems, due to the super-hot fire provided by this crew. TRVP HIPPI3Z is a team-up that has risen as great exemplars of righteous chaos. Their supersonic sound and hard-nosed imagery gives them a mysterious sheen, but the duo have grounded themselves via booming production, and a sonorous verbal presence, coupled with their willingness to fuck you up. Their chest-beating bravado is explosive on “IDGAF (Prod. THZ)”,

Eddy Mann: “Simple Things” will leave you breathless and in a state of euphoria

At first as a musician, I created music, then as an A&R executive I challenged it, now as a music reviewer, I explore it.  Of the three, the latter is the most difficult. Criticizing or appraising somebody else’s creation is no easy task. Enjoying it is one thing, understanding it another, and translating it is even more arduous. The funny thing is, I’ve always hated describing music. It’s such a volatile and subjective art, that nobody should really have the authority or the presumptuous audacity to judge the level of enjoyment or emotion any one piece of music is capable

Kitson Lau: “Be By Your Side” – an expressive paean to love’s transformative powers

Kitson Lau wears many hats – a musician, songwriter, singer and graphic designer, he is also a medical graduate. Initially without any musical background, Kitson became inspired by Norwegian record producer and DJ, Alan Walker. This passion drove him to learn music and song production. And soon, with dedication and focus Kitson Lau hit the top of the China Kanjian ING 10 Charts with his Mandopop albums. Since signing to Sony Music Entertainment Malaysia, Kitson has been encouraged to record English songs, so now he is making his official debut via Sony, with the song “Be By Your Side”, which

Black Malachite: “Nightfall” – a captivating series of musical sketches

The decision by any musical project to go without a vocalist will lead to either disaster or a determination to avoid redundancy. Add to that the fact that most bands live and die by the growth and maturity of their music. While niche music is a bit safer from this sort of unspoken principle, stagnation is still just one recycled hook away. With an instrumental band, that challenge becomes even more dubious. The onus for success in these situations lies solely in their music’s ability to provide an engaging, emotional narrative without the safety net of a vocalist’s easily delivered charisma.

Standouts group like Russian Circles, Mogwai, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and others have made their mark by challenging themselves to continually progress, discovering every possible space in which their music can thrive. But of the many underground instrumental acts that have managed this task, Black Malachite are perhaps the most impressive.

A current of vitality and renewal lights up the project’s latest up, “Nightfall”. Here, finally, is the next phase for Black Malachite. The album is thrillingly unpredictable yet familiar in its finest moments. The foregone-conclusion crescendos of sound have been replaced with luscious peaks and serene valleys. Their fundamental sense of grandeur hasn’t totally disappeared, but it has given way for increased elemental texture and serene warmth.

“Nightfall”, is more cohesive and focused than, for example, their self-titled release dropped at the beginning of the year, which stylistically darted in more diverse directions. Though this album also delves in the ‘opposites-attract-theory’ of acoustic and electronic elements playing against each other, the distinction of the differences is less marked and more fluid.

“Nightfall” proves that Black Malachite has a slightly different outlook when it comes to instrumental music. Instead of having the usual sprawling arrangements, and elongated moments lasting an eternity that most instrumental bands are addicted to, Black Malachite takes a different route.

For this Southern Californian solo artist, who has released three EPs, and four albums, it’s a matter of collapsing those expansive sonic narratives that are inside his head, into an equally captivating series of musical sketches – 12 to be exact, each lasting between 3 to 5 minutes – and each with its own story that is still fully capable of conjuring wonder and amazement.

Resonating guitars, rich pianos and dark ambience all reside together in songs that stretch from fully fleshed-out cuts like “NightFall” and “Daybreak” to the stripped down piano arrangements of “No Longer A Weapon” and “Eon”. In between, the songs mark a promising path for Black Malachite, most notably the guitar driven standouts “Just One More…” and “In Parting, We Trust”, which are my favorites.

All in all Black Malachite retains his vitality in strong melody and careful melodramatic disposition, added to meticulous layering and guitar lines that go straight for the heart on a couple of songs. This record captures a passionate artist finding bountiful new land to explore.

There’s plenty of dynamic songwriting, which is more than enough for a rewarding listening experience. Folks who are already fans of this project are likely to be very happy with yet another solid effort, while newcomers will have a twinkle in their eyes, for finding something truly interesting to listen to.

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