The Upper Strata – Where the Monsters abound
There’s music that accompanies you around the house. And, then there’s music designed to scare you out of it. This Christmas if you want to bring some gentle haunting to your abode, you may want to give The Upper Strata’s Where the Monsters abound a try.
Unlike most singles, this is one where their focus isn’t on creating an immediate impression. The song doesn’t even feel finished so much as designed to be played on a long, mournful loop.
Musically this Swiss duo takes its cues from soundtracks that do their best to supplement the narrative of slow-paced, mysterious movies. There’s also an interest in post-rock’s ability to take apart and reassemble pop music. Where the Monsters abound just like the curse, it seems to detail. It seems easy to open, but difficult to turn off.
Asuna – I’ll Meet You on Cinnabar Island
My friend is taking shouting lessons. To be fair, that’s only what I call them. But, in recent times, especially, I’ve come to really respect the work and artistry that goes into producing the harshest sounding vocals. Before my friend can go into a room and shout bloody murder, he and the other screaming-pupils warm-up for an hour, do physical and breathing exercises, and practice scales. That’s the kind of commitment this requires.
Asuna is a group that seems to share that kind of commitment for their work. They are a post-hardcore band that is mining the shouted vocals’ potential as much as they can. Unlike my friend, though, they’ve already reached a tremendous level of proficiency. Their highly emotional I’ll Meet You on Cinnabar Island shifts seamlessly from vocals that sound like invoking demons, to vocals that sound like someone trying really hard to start a bar fight, to singing that that is positively heart-warming.
The work of the guitars and rhythm section is just as focused. The tone of the guitar riffs, in particular, is crisp, yet aggressive. Like the earliest hardcore groups, Asuna has energy to spare which, one would think, comes in handy in such a relentless sonic assault as is this single by the group.