Saturday, September 26, 2009

Leaking an, as of yet, unpublished review.

The thing about leaking records that aren't out yet is, I get it, I really do. It's all so very exciting. Yet it's those people leaking the records that always have some disclaimer about supporting the bands and buying the release if you like it, as if this would absolve any responsibility.
As previously mentioned, to my shock, the new Portraits of Past record leaked from the Japanese CD version.
It's not about cutting into sales, whatsoever - but a record is supposed to be experienced with the packaging in hand, reading the lyrics, and appreciating the work involved. I just wanted and hoped that it wouldn't leak until after it was released, at that point, I wouldn't have cared at all.
With that said, I have posted some out of print records on this blog, that I actually own and more than appreciate. But these releases are out of print, sold out and no longer available. So they are there for archival purposes, and even more specifically for those that own the records but don't have the means to copy them to digital formats and want to listen to them on the go, mainly my friends (in particular people I was in bands with, and we geeked out on these records in the van or while hanging out). While I recognize the issue, and approach the situation completely aware of my/the contradictions and hypocrisies. Especially the often cited Marshall McLuhan phrase, "the Medium is the Message." (most of us know it from Born Against or Reversal of Man).
Walter Benjamin wrote an amazing essay, (in fact, his most cited work) the title of which is generally translated as "Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction." A free version is located here. Read that and update it to "art in the age of digital reproduction" and one could see just how far alienation has come into our everyday lives and removes us from experience. It's all quite disappointing to me, and hopefully yourself as well.

So. Funny thing is, I've already received a really nice glowing review of Portraits of Past's new release "Cypress Dust Witch" (despite the reviewers incessant and despicable use of the word Screamo) when there aren't even physical copies available in the United States. The review was emailed to me, therefore I wanted to share with those interested:

Often looked upon as one of the grandaddies of true Screamo, Portraits Of Past are remembered with the greatest respect. So last year, when they started gigging again after a 13 year hiatus, people began to get excited. An Ebullition records band of old touring again with new tunes in their repertoire? Surely that's enough to get anyone giddy.

"Cypress Dust Witch", the new 4 track EP released by Excursions Into The Abyss, is simply beautiful. Their sound has matured in the decade and a bit they've been busy doing other things. It's a more grown up and well rounded collection of pieces, all still retaining their trademark sound of passion and chaos. Amidst the fury of jangly riffs, erratic drumming and pained screams you'll also find wonderful sections of glassy almost-Post-Rock interludes which act as a perfect counterpoint to the insanity of the Punk. Like tender, frail thoughts between anguished realisations. This is what Screamo is meant to be!

Fire Song explodes into a cacophonous racket of blistering percussion and frantic guitars. Robert Pettersen snarls and spits violently when suddenly everything slows down. It gets peaceful. And then the beauty comes like a wave of soothing rest. The calm before the storm that lulls you into a sense of security. Then out of nowhere the track erupts again with passionate anger. That's the general theme throughout "Cypress Dust Witch" and it works to great effect. The highlight comes with the third song Through To An End which begins with all the idyllic twinkles and drones of a pretty lullaby. Even with the screams and shrieks, you still get lost in the attractive vibe of the song. It's a wonder that anyone could take an ugly format and transform it into something delicate and pretty. I absolutely love it!

The most remarkable aspect of the music is the effortlessness of each metamorphosis between angry and insane to calm and harmonious. The lack of stark change between ideas works well both on the individual tracks as it does with the EP as a whole. "Cypress Dust Witch" is about the most pleasurable aural kick in the face you'll receive in 2009!

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