Album Review: CHOTTO SUKI Mother Nature’s Silver Seed

Chotto Suki

Being a huge fan of No Problema Tapes, I often check out their new releases or releases I haven’t given a listen to yet.  That being said, Chotto Suki’s “Mother Nature’s Silver Seed” is the latest release from the Chilean label, so of course I had to give it a listen.  At first listen, this project by Suki himself is not what I would expect to hear from an ambient artist, based off the experience I have with the electronic music subgenre so far.  The use of real life action-based samples along with polarizing tracks and song structures gives a different take on the ambient, atmospheric sound No Problema Tapes artists usually show in their releases.  “Mother Nature’s Silver Seed” has many faces as the core sound of the project rapidly changes from track to track. I usually never break down an album track by track, but in this situation, it’s almost necessary to process this album by analyzing each individual song first then the entire project as a whole.

The album starts off strong with an instantly memorable song titled “Night Drive”.  “Night Drive’s” ominous sound made from steady bass lines and peculiar percussion, mixed with their sample of a guy getting in a car and the album art that depicts a Japanese city at night gives me a Bladerunner vibe while listening.  You instantly feel immersed in the music, artwork, and project as a whole, which instantly allows the listener to visualize multiple scenes while listening to this entire record.

“Landescape” quickly moves to a atmospheric, natured influenced track that imagines me getting out of the eerie city into a gorgeous, Amazonian landscape (pun intended) where all I hear is a calming synth, a beautiful guitar, and the nature around me.  I personally wish this track was longer as it is captivating, complex, artfully crafted, and above all, simply beautiful, and it’s mere 3:20 in playing time does not give it enough justice.  It’s hard to not declare “Mother Nature’s Silver Seed” as an instant classic ambient album, even after hearing just the first two tracks, and “Landescape” provides enough proof on its own that this release is not one to be overlooked.

The title track, “Mother Nature’s Silver Seed”, is very similar to “Landescape”, but the vibe transitions from a happy, nature atmosphere, to a more serene, atmospheric one. The new sound and vibe experienced allows me to visualize walking through the Amazonian land to now come across a deserted village that appears to be abandoned, with precious items left behind due to an abrupt desertion. The popping of what sounds like a vinyl record being spun heightens the pensiveness of this song and actually serves as a very smooth transition through this eclectic in sound album. The layered soundscapes also sound beautiful and help connect the use of similar sounding synths in the previous track to what you hear on this song, “Mother Nature’s Silver Seed”.

“On the Way Back” also finds a way to bridge the gap between two polarizing tracks. Moving from the abandoned village pictured in the self titled track to what I envision would be a song set to stargazing, “On the Way Back” uses more bass heavy soundscapes that embody a similar structure and sound to what is heard on the previous track, but when comparing them side by side, the difference between the two songs is very prominent. However, this is without a doubt one of the most mesmerizing songs heard on the album as I instantly imagine lying down on an empty field and looking up at the vast, never-ending universe above.

“Subterranean Homesick Feel” does a stellar job at transitioning from “On the Way Back” to itself as it uses the rain sample heard in the last minutes on “On the Way Back”, but instead as the track starts, the intensity of the storm greatly begins to increase. The track then takes on an almost horror like aspect as chilling effects, builds, and soundscapes are used along with a sample of two individuals interacting, giving the track a suspenseful feel. A lighter lead soundscape intertwines with menacing instrumental tracks that give a feeling of eminent danger. The change from a relaxing, stargazing scene instantly switches to that of distortion and paranoia as the mood switches to that of walking through the city in the artwork with an eerie feeling of being followed. “Subterranean Homesick Feel” is a track that could easily be heard in a modern suspense-filled horror movie.

As “Subterranean Homesick Feel” comes to an abrupt close, which is only fitting with it’s horror-esque sound, “The Wanderer” eases in with sounds of a crashing wave only to bombard you with a chugging distorted guitar that parallels its predecessor in album track list succession. The intensity soon mellows out and fades into a relaxing sample of motorcycles going by and other various city sounds. The eerie feeling of walking through the city heard before has now turned into walking through a club, being smothered by the crowdedness, and of course loudness of the environment, only to wind up outside in a more calm, peaceful environment of the city.  If you are still wondering as to how diverse this album is, just listening to “The Wanderer” alone will give you a great perspective as to how fast the mood can shift.

“Urban Maze”, despite its name, has a composition of mostly isolation. Using primarily one hauntingly sounding soundscape throughout its short duration, gives a feeling as if the neon signs of the city are glaring down so intensely on the people walking below that the lights have almost become an artificial sun for the city streets. The idea of less is more is perfectly showcased in this song as a short composition with few tracks creates a powerful and memorable song.

“Looking For Corinthians”, like most tracks on this release, sounds nothing like the song before it. Using a combination of bells, lighter pads, and soundscapes, and of course smooth yet noticeable bass lines, helps create a peaceful atmosphere nothing like what was heard on “Urban Maze”. Even various arpeggiator synths help give this a lighter sound compared to the harsh noise heard in the previous track. You can picture the city in the artwork during the day and how the peaceful regularness of the environment can be therapeutic.

Not only do I think that “Landing Smoothly, Captain” should be the first song on the album, but I also believe that it should be an entirely separate project. Obviously each track is different from each other on “Mother Nature’s Silver Seed”, but the unique sound and atmosphere heard in this track is vastly different than the rest of the album as a whole, not to mention that “Looking For Corinthians” would be a fine closer to the project if “Landing Smoothly, Captain” was separated and made into it’s own release. The entire buildup with the samples of footsteps and the computer’s voice, the slowly rising synths and basses, and the entire sound that is reminiscent of soundtracks heard on fantastic movies like “Gravity” and “Interstellar” make me believe that a song this unique and absolutely beautiful should be rewarded with a separate release. Not to take away from the rest of the album, as there isn’t a bad song on this entire project, I just personally believe “Landing Smoothly, Captain” seems a little out of place on “Mother Nature’s Silver Seed”. Even the visualization, which greatly benefits from the computer’s narrated sample, depicts a futuristic space ship landing on a new, uncharted planet, which is extremely different than what is visualized throughout the rest of the album. “Landing Smoothly, Captain” is Chotto Suki’s “Palm Mall” and it has instantly become one of my favorite ambient songs I have ever heard.

In conclusion, “Mother Nature’s Silver Seed” truly is a musical journey. This album is without a doubt an example of not only how versatile ambient artists like Chotto Suki can be, but it also shows the complete power and beauty that ambient, atmospheric music can truly encompass when done right.  A lack of percussion really brings the pads, synths, basses, and samples to the forefront of the music and exemplifies the power that instrumental ambient and atmospheric projects can have.  Personally, I will definitely look into what else Chotto Suki has released in the past, and I really hope that he eventually writes the soundtrack to a major film one day, as I believe his superb songwriting and composing skills would result in another fantastic piece.  I give “Mother Nature’s Silver Seed” an 8.7/10 and I have attached the stream of the album below for those to check out to hear how stellar this project truly is.  If you would like to purchase this album on digital format or even cassette tape, a link to No Problema’s merchandise store is also attached below.  While you’re on this site, however, check out what other albums we’ve reviewed lately and check back in for more posts we will have on the site soon!

No Problema store:

https://noproblematapes.bandcamp.com/album/mother-natures-silver-seed

 

“Mother Nature’s Silver Seed”:

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Breaking News: A Lot Like Birds Release First Single of Upcoming Fourth Full Length Album “DIVISI”

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After four long years of waiting A Lot Like Birds have finally released new material.  On March 22nd, ALLB released the first single off the upcoming album called, “For Shelley (Unheard)”.  Their upcoming album, titled “DIVISI”, will be released on May 5th on Equal Vision Records and will be their fourth full length album and the follow up to the successful release, 2013’s “No Place”.

For those who might not follow the band that frequently, you might have missed the significance behind this upcoming record.  This will be the first ALLB record without Kurt Travis since 2009’s “Plan B” and will feature Cory Lockwood as the main vocalist with bassist Matt Coate adding some additional vocal performances.  Apparently, in the time between “No Place” and “DIVISI” Kurt Travis and the rest of ALLB had creative differences in how they would approach future releases under the moniker, A Lot Like Birds, and because of this, Kurt Travis ended up departing the band and the rest of the group pursued a less hardcore-influenced sound with Cory expanding on his vocal performance by switching from harsh vocals to “clean singing” vocals that required vocal lessons.  As a result, the first song as a product of this new direction has been released as “For Shelley (Unheard)”.

The success of this record for ALLB is crucial.  Not only is leaving behind one of the most prominent members of their band be a huge transition for fans, but abandoning their old influences to pursue a new, evolved sound is also be a risky path to pursue.  A Lot Like Birds have to present the best material they possible can as one unit to successfully pull this off, or else they could face the possibility of losing almost all of their fan base.  Luckily, this transition has created some of the best and most memorable material I’ve heard from them in their existence.  Personally, I am not a huge A Lot Like Birds fan, but I can definitely appreciate their material and influence in the post hardcore scene.  Not to mention that their debut full length, “Plan B”, is a catchy, experimental album that is highly underrated.  However, “Conversation Piece” and “No Place”, while they are good, don’t really have any memorable moments and I personally found it hard to really enjoy the releases, which could explain why the group has had such a hard time in growing in significance compared to other notable experimental post-hardcore groups like Dance Gavin Dance, Stolas, Hail the Sun, or even Slaves.  A Lot Like Birds truly needed a song like “For Shelley (Unheard)” to boost them back into significance and keep their status as one of the notable modern post-hardcore acts.

“For Shelley (Unheard)” is the most heart-wrenching, yet beautiful song you will hear all year.  An eerie rhythm guitar plays a few heavily distorted chords before a prominent, high pitched lead guitar pierces into the track crying with one of the catchy, bittersweet melodies that you will hear throughout the song.  From the moment Cory begins singing it is clear that his work on his vocal performance has produced great results and his new role in ALLB is nothing short of perfect.  If you read the description of the song you will see a tear-jerking, heartfelt letter from Cory himself explaining the meaning of the track and how his mom was the most important figure in his life and why he has dedicated this song to the superhuman mother that she was to him.  Knowing this background, you can literally hear the pain in Cory’s voice and stellar lyricism, and it’s shocking to say the least that Cory himself was still able to hit these high notes perfectly despite the fact that powerful emotions and memories were engulfing him during this point in his life.  The song structure goes between a verse that without fail builds up to the chorus every time it is heard.  The only thing I wish this song had was an anthemic section after the calm bridge.  I personally believe an emotion driven anthemic part would only intensify the raw emotion and musicianship heard from every member on this track, resulting in a practically flawless first single.  However, even without this, “For Shelley (Unheard)” is the single that A Lot Like Birds desperately needed in order to make “DIVISI” as important as it should be.

“DIVISI” will be a pivotal moment for ALLB.  Sure they will lose a lot of fans (as you can tell from the comment section on any other their recent videos, including the music video for “For Shelley (Unheard)”) due to the fact that their sound has drastically evolved to something a little closer to guitarist Michael Franzino’s project, alone., and they will also lose fans due to the fact that Kurt Travis is no longer apart of ALLB, but they will also gain a new era of fans as they go forward with this evolution of A Lot Like Birds.  The success and history of this Sacramento based group will be analyzed in two sections: before “DIVISI” and after “DIVISI”, with the post-“DIVISI” era, in my opinion, becoming the far more successful and influential era that puts ALLB into the spotlight in their respective scene.  The new sound exemplified so far will clearly fit them well, whether their older fans agree or not, and I guarantee this monumental transition will bring positive change for ALLB for years to come.

“For Shelley (Unheard)” is already an instant classic for A Lot Like Birds, but there is one song I absolutely cannot wait to hear.  The teaser below, which feature Cory recording the vocals for a pre-chorus and chorus of a song on “DIVISI” is addicting to say the least.  His powerful delivery, which becomes a borderline yell before the instrumental parts fade in, is captivating to say the least and makes me dying to hear the rest of this track.  As of right now I have no idea what the title of this song is, or if it will also be a single, but I can guarantee that it will be one of the greatest songs off of “DIVISI” and will be the Track of the Day Tuesday for sure!

In a little over a month, the most pivotal moment of ALLB’s career, the release of “DIVISI” on May 5th, 2017, will occur and their footprint in the post hardcore scene will not be the same.  In my opinion this new album will be A Lot Like Birds’ “Downtown Battle Mountain”, their “Saosin”, even their “On Letting Go”, and if you sleep on this record you will seriously be missing out.  Myself and the staff here at Erik’s Album Reviews will keep you posted with updates as we get closer to the release date, so stay tuned for more news about ALLB!  Also, check out the first single, “For Shelley (Unheard)”, below and while you’re on the site, see what other albums we’ve reviewed and what news stories you need to hear as well!

 

“For Shelley (Unheard)”:

500 Word Review: Homeshake “Fresh Air”

homeshake fresh air

If one thing is evident on the new Homeshake LP, “Fresh Air”, it’s that the man-behind-the-music, Peter Sagar, has come a long way from standing in the shadows of his friend and former employer Mac DeMarco. While I enjoyed a few tracks from this project’s last album “Midnight Snack”, it was admittedly a little lacking in focus and felt somewhat low effort. While this circle has never been know for producing works that were definitely slaved over for months, all of Mac DeMarco’s albums have been cohesive and mostly free of egregious flaws. While that was not the case on “Midnight Snack”, Sagar had definitely put in a sufficient amount of effort into “Fresh Air”. This seems to have catapulted his music to being more enjoyable and interesting than his mentor’s.

The album’s opener “Hello Welcome” is a short, jazzy, chord loop with a guitar melody over it. Already, Sagar’s ear for unique-yet-enjoyable tones is evident, as he creates an interesting tonal landscape all across the album with jazz guitar tones, hip-hop and soul synths, and mixture of live and synthesized drums. On top of all of this is Pete’s whimpering voice, which often flows into falsetto more smoothly and accurately than ever before. All of this makes for a very enjoyable open songs, with the three following-up the opener being especially stand-outish. “Call Me Up”, “Not U”, and “Every Single Thing” are all superb tracks that perfectly flow into each other, making for one smooth listening experience. In addition to the lush trip-hop sound of these tracks, Sagar throws in some interesting vocal samples and musical effects to transition between tracks. These perfectly fit the mood of the album and really set the stage for the tracks succeeding them.

Towards the middle of the album, Sagar starts to slip back into old ways. While “Wrapping Up” and “Getting Down Pt II” aren’t anything spectacular, they’re solid tracks. But starting with “Timing” he starts to slip into old ways. From this point on, many of the tracks are fairly bare or don’t really go anywhere. And while I am a fan of “TV Volume” and the Prince-like “Serious”, they don’t really go anywhere and are kind of stand out points in a small sea of obscurity. Things end interestingly with the easy listening jazz fusion-esque “This Way”. I hear this song and immediately think of one person: Pat Metheny, because it essentially sounds like a Pat Metheny song without the super out guitar solo. It’s not necessarily a bad way to end the album, but just a little bit of a lackluster end to a lackluster second half. That being said, the highlights of that half mixed with the on point-ness of the first half makes for a pretty enjoyable record, especially if you’re looking for something different.

 

Score: 7.4/10

 

Album Review by Ethan Lally, March 2017

“Fresh Air”:

The Thursday Ten: 12/29/16

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Even though we are a little late with posting this, here is this week’s “The Thursday Ten”!  This segment has been very rewarding to write this year and we’re glad to see that our viewers enjoyed reading these installments as much as we did with writing them!  This post is actually the last “The Thursday Ten” for all of 2016.  It’s amazing to see how many albums we gave ratings to this year and the staff here at Erik’s Album Reviews can’t wait to see what albums will make it onto “The Thursday Ten” next year!  Once again thank you for support and we will be back with more installments to “The Thursday Ten” next year!

  1. Deftones – Gore: 6/10
  2. Shokran – Exodus: 8/10
  3. Abbath – Abbath: 7/10
  4. Phantogram – Three: 6/10
  5. Zao – The Well-Intentioned Virus: 9/10
  6. Solange – A Seat At The Table: 8/10
  7. Norma Jean – Polar Similar: 8/10
  8. Emarosa – 131: 9/10
  9. Angelmaker/A Night In Texas – Split EP: 8/10
  10. Hodgy – Fireplace – TheNotTheOtherSide: 8/10

The previous “The Thursday Ten”:

https://eriksalbumreviews.wordpress.com/2016/12/16/the-thursday-ten-111516/

Breaking News: New Nine Inch Nails EP Out This Friday

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This Friday, iconic industrial rock titans, Nine Inch Nails, will be releasing a brand new EP.  The upcoming EP, titled “Not the Actual Events”, will be released on their website (http://www.nin.com) on December 23rd and is the group’s first release since 2014.  The new material will also be the first project to feature the group’s newest member, Atticus Ross.  The duo of Ross and Reznor have worked on numerous successful scores in recent years, like “Gone Girl”, “Before the Flood”, and “Juno” to name a few, so their collaboration on new NIN materials will be very interesting to hear!

Unfortunately a single for the upcoming project has yet to be released.  With the project recently being announced, it is very unlikely we will hear any previews before the EP’s release date Friday.  However, a review of the project will definitely be posted once the EP is out!  Visit the site regularly to see more updates about the new Nine Inch Nails EP along with all other music news and content!

Breaking News: Aphex Twin Plays First US Show in 8 Years and Releases a Surprise 12″ Record

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Over the weekend, one of the greatest electronic artists of all time, Aphex Twin, performed in the United States for the first time in 8 years.  Playing at Houston’s Day for Night Festival, Aphex Twin performed a two hour long headlining set to close out Saturday night.  The impressive live set is absolutely mesmerizing and easily makes up for the long gap between US performances.

What is even more notable to mention is that Aphex Twin released a surprise 12″ record at the festival.  Apparently, according to festival goers who bought a copy, the artwork and record sleeve is completely white and the only designs seen are on the vinyl disc’s inner label, which features the logos for Aphex Twin, Warp Records, and Day for Night Festival along with the date and location of the festival.  It is speculated that two songs are featured on the vinyl, but further information about the new vinyl has yet to be released.

If you picked up a copy, leave a comment and tell us more about this surprise 12″ record release and let us know how the festival went!  For those who weren’t in Houston, like myself, you can watch the first 30 minutes of Aphex Twin’s set below!  And lastly, If you love electronic music as much as we do at Erik’s Album Reviews, then make sure to check back in for more electronic music news and reviews to be released soon!

The Thursday Ten: 11/15/16

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For those who visit Erik’s Album Reviews regularly, you will know that the staff has been very busy for the last two weeks.  Because of this we unfortunately missed the last two “The Thursday Ten” segments.  However, last week we announced that in order to make up for this lack of album ratings, we will give 20 album ratings for this week’s installment rather than the usual 10!  This week’s post features various releases over multiple genres covering everything from Black Metal to EDM.  Even though twice as many releases are feature in this installment, the rules to “The Thursday Ten” haven’t changed, and of course, we encourage you to check out every album listed on any of the major music streaming platforms.  Let us know what you think of the ratings, which albums you want us to rate next, and don’t forget to check out the previous installment to “The Thursday Ten”.  Here is this week’s post:

  1. Skeletonwitch – The Apothic Gloom EP: 8/10
  2. The Acacia Strain, Thy Art Is Murder, and Fit For An Autopsy – The Depression Sessions: 9/10
  3. Power Trip/Integrity Split EP: 7/10
  4. Dan Mason – Summer Love: 7/10
  5. Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool: 7/10
  6. Aborted – Termination Redux EP: 8/10
  7. Lamb of God – The Duke EP: 7/10
  8. Jason Richardson – I: 8/10
  9. bl00dwave – Distance: 8/10
  10. Defeater – Abandoned: 8/10

 

  1. Mac Miller – The Divine Feminine: 8/10
  2. Blink-182 – California: 8/10
  3. Balance and Composure – Light We Made: 8/10
  4. Moose Blood – Blush: 8/10
  5. Wakrat – Wakrat: 4/10
  6. Tesseract – Polaris: 7/10
  7. A Day To Remember – Bad Vibrations: 6/10
  8. Adventure Club – Red // Blue: 5/10
  9. PZA – AMERICAN RITUALS: 9/10
  10. Vaerbitt – Tid: 9/10

The previous “The Thursday Ten”:

https://eriksalbumreviews.wordpress.com/2016/11/25/the-thursday-ten-112416/