beatastic – staticity

unnamedBrighton’s beatastic is the solo project of Nico (Nicolas Pierre Wardell). When I say solo project he performs, writes, produces and engineers everything himself.  This is quite a feat as their musical style encompasses; shoegaze, indie, grunge and electronica.  I have been listening to the latest album staticity and really enjoying the multi-faceted sound that is different in each track yet you can tell that it is from the same source.  I managed to catch up with beatastic supremo Nico and ask him a few questions.

What is beatastic all about? What are your main influnences?

it’s evolved a lot, it started as an electronic project,  the idea was to do something I’d never done before, something that wasn’t rock, a bit  like LCD Soundsystem, but little by little the rock elements came back and now the electronic touches are minimal. I would say The Cure for the way they build music, lego-like. Smashing Pumpkins for the scope, they could do anything they wanted , fearless and productive.

In staticity, you are the only writer, engineer, producer, and performer credited on the album.  Is beatastic really a one-man project? Is it really difficult arranging all the different instrumental parts and vocals back into a song? 

Sure is, music is lego, you just put blocks together. I would say writing a song is extremely simple, writing a good song is a lot more difficult and impossible to control. I’ve used guests in the past to do things I can’t do myself, like female vocals or rapping, anything else I can do or program.

Despite it seeming very difficult working alone, your output is prolific.  Three albums and four EPs since 2014.   What are you working on at the moment?

I actually find it easier, I don’t have to explain anything to anyone or compromise. I don’t have to wait for people. I remember being in a band before and having to record the bass player’s parts cause she was struggling with it, it wasn’t nice for her or for me, but it was the best solution for the band. I have about 40-50 songs ready for Beatastic, whether they will be used or not, I don’t know. I also have a side project called Xeresa (xeresa.bandcamp.com) which is mostly instrumental but there will be some guests like Thomas Himsworth of Guerraz (https://guerraz.co.uk/) and Krissy Vanderwoude of Whimsical (https://whimsical1.bandcamp.com/) . Billy Corgan wrote about a 100 songs for Mellon Collie, so it’s doable. Prince wrote about 200 songs each  year. So I’m still far from that level of productivity.

Before moving to Brighton, you hailed from France.  Did that help shape the beatastic sound? 

Well, I honestly don’t know. My influences aren’t french music, but environment is supposed to shape sounds. So maybe? but if it has I have no idea how

To be honest there is only a couple of French shoegaze bands around now that I have heard of; Hermetic Delight and Maria False.  I always had the stereotypical vision of French indie kids listening to Stereolab, Air and Daft Punk.  What is the French indie scene like?

I have no idea now, back when I was there the biggest band was Noir Desir and they weren’t shoegaze at all. There was 2 camps: the ones who wanted to sing in English and the ones who wanted to sing in French. The francophiles were really snooty about the anglophiles. I think it was Serge Gainsbourg who said: french music is some great lyrics with hopefully a good tune, English music is a good tune with hopefully good lyrics.  I’m all about the tune to be honest. Shoegaze has never been about the lyrics since you can barely hear them, so that certainly doesn’t make me very french in that respect.

There’s M83 as well, and they’re huge, he’s a posh southern boy and I’m a poor northern kid, so we don’t have much in common. He grew up by the sea, I grew up by an airport.  There’s lots of French shoegaze bands but they’re mostly on the black metal side of things, like Alcest or Les Discrets https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackgaze

The genre originated from France, no idea why

Are there any future plans? Or any last words?

I’m releasing new tracks with Xeresa when I feel like it, they’re all free downloads. There will be a new Beatastic album or EP at some point but no idea when since the last record only came out in August. There will be a Christmas song out in a couple of weeks, probably a free download on soundcloud to thank all the people who’ve supported me.

Advertisements

A Shoreline Dream – Whirlpool

a-shoreline-dream-without-logo
Originating in Barnum, Colorado, A Shoreline Dream is Ryan Policky (vocalist/guitarist/producer) and Erik Jeffries (guitar). They have been creating music for the last decade.  Whirlwind was conceived after recent death of singer Ryan Policky’s father, and a murder occurring right next door to where A Shoreline Dream writes, practices and records.

The dark inspiration is captured perfectly by the layers of filthy guitars and insistent drums.  What drew me to this duo was the comparisons to Bauhaus.  Despite the many layers within the song it has an unmistakable bleak 80s gothic style.

Stella Diana – Nitocris

unnamed
Italian shoegaze outfit that transports the listener to dark drone new wave 80s.  But it is not all about moping around in your long coat, there are glorious psychedelic guitar sweeps.  They wear their influences on their sleeve with a song titled Psychedelic Furs.

The album is named after an ancient Egyptian queen and the last Pharaoh of the Sixth Dynasty, Nitocris. Apparently very beautiful. The album artwork defines the album’s title – an abandoned woman, who is beautiful, but sad and suffering. Ethereal and elusive, without a face.

“It’s likely that “she” did not exist in native Egyptian inscriptions,” comments Stella Diana frontman Dario Torre. “This ‘not existing’ thing is very interesting and fascinating. Often you do something, you live, you breathe, you work hardly, you love. Nevertheless, for the people you don’t exist.”

Manon Meurt

Manon Meurt 4Manon Meurt are probably the first Czech Republic shoegaze band I have come across.  Apparently it has a thriving scene there. The dream pop quartet are Vojtech Pejša (guitar, vocals), Káta Elznicová (vocals, guitar), Jirí Bendl (drums) and Jana Karlíková (bass guitar).

They have just re-released their debut EP.  This was a self titled and self released record that was only available in their native country in 2014.  I was really surprised at the maturity and the well defined musical direction for their first record. but they have been playing since 2010 as Katie & The Accessories.

There is quite a mixed bag of songs. The first two sings are propelled by the insistent rhythm section.  To Forget has reverb drench guitars perched on top of the thumping drums, Glowing Cityscape has bold riffs with body and beautiful vocals.  ‘94 and Until You Can have a dark minimalism that is very reminiscent of The Cranes.  Both songs are slower but the latter culminates into a distortion saturated climax.  The last song Blue Bird is their epic closer slowly building up to to a heady finale

Soft Wounds

a0768899410_10The eponymous dazzling debut album released in late January this year; Soft Wounds standout in the blossoming Toronto shoegaze scene.  Slow-burning reverb drenched tunes that are well written and crafted.  A mass of juxtapositions; comfortable yet slightly awkward, warm yet unnerving and the scuzzy fuzzy guitars to Charlie Berger’s vocals.

Personally I think that the vocals stand out in this album.  In the majority of the album the vocals are pristine and at the forefront of the songs.  The content is undeniably shoegaze but Soft Wounds have not used unintelligible vocals and lyrics like their contemporaries.

Bloodhounds On My Trail – Escape II

Bloodhounds_1_smallThe second EP from the Melbourne’s Bloodhounds On My Trail, who have largely worryingly gone unnoticed by me until now.  It is really impressive that they have fully grasped shoegaze in a very English way, eventhough they are from Australia.  Straight from the Ride and Slowdive school of big soundscapes, they whisked me back to happier time in the early 90’s.

Bloodhounds On My Trail are Johnny Green (guitar, vocals), Chris Donaldson (guitar), Nik Donaldson (drums) and Ché Walden (bass). Rooted in their joint love of shoegaze bands, ranging from the late 1980s to early 90s, Bloodhounds On My Trail aim to fuse the rhythmic underpinnings of bands like the Velvet Underground and the Stooges with the infectious stylings of shoegaze luminaries such as Cocteau Twins and Slowdive.

The featured track Old Fools is a reverb drenched paradox of jangly chiming guitars and warped wobbly distortion.

The Virgance – Paradigm 3

The Virgance - Paradigm (album cover_)The third album from The Virgance is another serene and spectacular sonic outing.  It has been described as experimental drone and ambient but these labels conjure images of records that need multiple listens.  The listener can jump into the cinematic soundscapes from the first hearing.  But after multiple listens you can start to unravel the subtle layers.

The intricate nature of this is shown in the soft intensity of each sonic melody. On first listen I thought that the album was purely instrumental, but Shauna McLarnon of Ummagma has added vocals to the track Down the River.  The vocals have taken shoegaze ethereal lyrics to a different level.  4AD were the vanguard of having unintelligible vocals that you cannot make out the words.  In Down the River it is difficult to recognise the vocal, the voice is used almost like an instrument.