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Desperate Times Call for Damning Juggernautical Anthems, Cardiff’s Columbia Answered That Call with Their Dark Psych Rock Hit, Disorder

Following the phenomenal success of their 2022 album, Embrace the Chaos, the Cardiff indie alt-rock innovators, Columbia, have unleashed the all-consuming furore of their post-punk-tinged post-Britpop single, Disorder. With the harbingering urgency of the swaggering vocals as they paint a damning depiction of our dystopic bleak modern age against the vortex of psych guitars, Columbia reached the pinnacle of visceral realism with Disorder.

I don’t think I’ve been this excited about a newly discovered band since I tuned into Desert Mountain Tribe for the first time. It comes as no surprise that their producer at Kings Road Studio described Disorder as the biggest sounding track he’s made with a band. It’s a juggernaut that makes no bones about dragging you into the dark disparaging societal view was born from.

Disorder is now available to stream on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Movment chose ‘VIOLENCE’ in their protestive post-punk call to arms

‘VIOLENCE’ is the serendipitously timely new single from the Irish indie post-punk outfit, Movment; the pit-worthy call to arms in the wake of widespread apathy is exactly what our society confounded in fear of failure and futility needs to hear.

The boisterous chugging basslines roll with the percussive punches to fuel VIOLENCE with the aggravated energy required to stand up to the forces which make no bones about oppressing us. Under the fiery duress of Martin Kelly’s angsty vocal lines, the galvanically pulsating furore of the stagnation-emancipating record heightens to the nth degree while affirming that if utilised properly, anger can be one of the most powerful driving forces known to man.

Now that John Lydon is a national embarrassment and the gloss has been taken off PIL, it is all too refreshing to have Movment on our radar.

Violence will officially release on November 18th. Watch the official music video on YouTube and check out Movment’s official website.

Lunar Paths dissected the creativity and compassionate consciousness of their darkwave post-punk debut EP, Fuse, in an A&R Factory interview

As the anticipation for Lunar Path’s debut EP was kicking in, A&R Factory caught up with the internationally scattered duo to discuss their poetic and philosophical lyrical themes and take on creativity in the digital age as we tried to contain our excitement that bubbled around speaking to the former members of the iconic UK acts, Cold Dance and Skeletal Family. 

Fuse is now available to stream across all major platforms. Delve in after reading the story of its conception.

Lunar Paths, welcome back to A&R Factory; we loved getting stuck into the dark ethereal alchemy in your single, Rise; does it set the tone of what is to come via your debut EP?

We were so thrilled with your review of Rise. Thank you! “Lunar Paths made the Bela Lugosi’s Dead of this era with Rise.” I mean, WOW. That blew us away! Rise is one of the five tracks on the EP, Fuse, but does it set the tone? Well, the release of the EP marks the occasion of Lunar Paths’ first birthday, and frankly, we are still in the process of discovering who we are and what our tone is! For sure, all of the tracks hang together really well; they are all driven by the percussion, they all have a fairly atypical song structure and mysterious vocal, and they all use an eclectic array of unusual instruments and distorted samples, so you could say that, with its rolling beat, haunting vocal, gamelan and warped Cretan lyra, Rise is fairly representative of what we do.  Two of the tracks on the EP have a faster tempo, and one of these is even a little bit playful, but we do seem to be leaning towards an enigmatic, ethereal, and evocative, atmospheric sound.

Releasing music in 2022 as opposed to when you were together making music in the 80s in the bands Cold Dance and Skeletal Family must be a vastly different experience – before you even consider the distance between your bases in America and Europe. How does it feel to be creatively reunited in the digital age of music?

It’s absolutely wonderful! We have said so many times how, if, back in the day, we had had the digital and virtual gear that we have at our disposal now, we could have done such a lot to realise our musical aspirations, both in terms of recording and playing live. We were early adopters of electronic drums, drum machines and sequencers, and they always created a bit of a stir onstage, but back then, the only bands that could afford the really cutting-edge digital technology had serious financial backing.

Similarly, recording and releasing on vinyl was such a big deal, in terms of time, effort and expense. Planning things to the minute so that you didn’t waste valuable time in the recording studio, there was much less room for experimentation, and it allowed for just a tiny margin of error. Now, it’s possible to take massive creative risks, take your time and really play around with ideas—and, of course, if you want a gamelan, you don’t have to travel all the way to Indonesia! The idea, too, of making videos to accompany and promote the music was beyond the wildest dreams of most bands back then, but now, thanks to platforms like Instagram, YouTube and TikTok, it’s something that is within the grasp of pretty much anyone with a smartphone.

The synergy between you is palpable for sure. How would you say you bring the best out in each other creatively?

I don’t think that we have ever responded to each other’s ideas in any way other than positively. That’s not because we are easily pleased, either! We are both incredibly driven, both perfectionists and we each set ourselves very high standards. It helps that we have always been on the same wavelength: though we were not necessarily tuned into the exact same stuff, we are always receptive to new and exciting material.

Chatting to each other for the first time in decades about music, it was astounding to discover how many bands we had developed a common liking for over our years apart. There were also equally large areas of music and culture that remained a complete mystery to one of us while the other had discovered, explored and completely fallen in love with it—but none of it was ever boring. I think that the most important thing is that we are both still very curious, open, receptive and adventurous, when it comes to what we make and what we consume. Because we are so much on the same page, and also so very open to new ideas, working together feels easy.

We never have to explain anything to each other or have lengthy debates about what should happen in a track; one of us brings something to the table, and it’s immediately obvious to the other one why it’s a great idea. Trust plays a huge part in what we do. We are never afraid to share our ideas with each other, plus, because of this mutual trust that we have, we can simply go with an idea, see where it leads us, and it is usually one that works.

What were the biggest challenges of creating music in different continents and different time zones?

Getting some sleep! When one of us is ready to chat, it’s usually four in the morning for the other one, but it’s just all too exciting and too much fun to resist having really lengthy conversations, regardless of the time of day. When you have this compulsion to make music, and you find someone who you so totally gel with creatively, being a bit sleep deprived the next day is such a small price to pay.

Being on different continents wasn’t that big a deal either, as I think a lot of us learned during the pandemic how working together remotely was actually more than possible. At first, we were concerned that, without a shared access to the same DAW, we wouldn’t be able to collaborate at all, but we quickly found ways around that. Wave files fly across the Atlantic at the speed of light, they get imported into a project, the project gets pinged back across the Atlantic, and so on. Finding solutions to the challenges just added to the fun and to the sense of achievement.

Have your music influences stayed the same, or are there contemporary darkwave outfits fuelling your inspiration lately?

Not just darkwave, and not just contemporary; we like a huge amount of wildly disparate stuff, across a range of genres, encompassing music being made today to music dating back hundreds of years. To give you an idea, we like: Avalanches, KLF, Dengue Dengue Dengue, The Creatures, Gang of Four, Boards of Canada, Pixies, Bjork, Killing Joke, Alessandro Striggio, Ministry, First Nation music, Joy Division, Yard Act, Roza Eskenazi, Idles, Skinny Puppy, The Veldt, Portishead, Bob Vylan, Radiohead, Underworld, Sun’s Signature, Chemical Brothers, The Streets, tAngerinecAt, Legendary Pink Dots, Coil, Basil Kirchin, Fred again.., Marxman, Earthlings, She Wants Revenge, Young Gods, NuKreative, The Soft Moon… and that’s just the tip of a massive iceberg. We could go on!

What lyrical themes are explored in the EP?

The name of the EP, Fuse, echoes what Lunar Paths do, bringing different elements together and uniting them, and it also evokes something that triggers an explosion or reaction. It also suggests being driven by an unstoppable and mysterious energy, as in “the force that through the green fuse drives the flower,” from the poem by Dylan Thomas.

Our lyrical themes are diverse overall, but some of the songs on this EP are political—Lunar Paths lean to the left—so Rise evokes a weary person dragging themselves to work every day, self-medicating every night, and asks how long they are prepared to put up with lousy pay and conditions. Dérive was inspired by the writings of the Situationists, who suggested that, instead of going shopping or going to work, setting out on long, purposeless walks through the city that you live in could be a subversive act, especially if you keep your eyes open and think about all that you see.

Alttahilili means ‘lullaby’, and it was the result of seeing harrowing pictures of refugee families shivering in the snow and from the idea that, wherever we come from, we all sing to our children to comfort them. MetaGoth#1 has hardly any lyrics at all, apart from a clip from a 1980s film about the evils of capitalism, along with a Siouxsie-ish refrain, all parts of the song being a playful nod to our post-punk roots. Lo Oa Soa was the result of an experiment to see what would happen if we wrote a fairly conventional song, then learned to sing it backwards! When we discovered that Lo Oa Soa actually means ‘you are dead’ in Sesotho, it appealed to the old goth in us! On every occasion, the music precedes the lyrics. So, for example, the drums in what eventually became Dérive sounded very urban, full of clashing trashcans and gunshots, so we knew that it was going to be about cities. The circling drone of Rise evoked a sense of weary, repeated activity, like a vicious circle, and Alttahilili sounds like the wind on a bitterly cold winter night. MetaGoth#1 is full of sounds from and after the post-punk era, and Lo Oa Soa sounds like a crazy, exciting journey into the unknown.

What’s next for Lunar Paths?

When we started this venture, all that we wanted was to make some music and have people hear it. That’s already happening, but we’d like to make more music and get heard by more people. We’ve been on SoundCloud for several months, where we recently got just under 20,000 streams of our latest track, Shine, and this inspired us to sign up to Distrokid, in the hope that being across all the major streaming platforms will help grow our audience and get us more airplay.

Our immediate plans are to release the rest of our back catalogue, together with some new songs, in the form of another EP in 2023. We both miss live performance, so a live stream could be fun to try. We’ve even talked wistfully about touring, and, though the vast geographical distance between us makes rehearsing tricky (to say the least!), it’s not beyond the realm of the possible. Nothing is. Did either of us ever think, this time last year, that we would be chatting to A&R Factory about our debut EP? Never say never!

Stream Lunar Paths on Spotify, check out their website and connect with them via Instagram and Facebook.

Interview by Amelia Vandergast

Siggy are harbingers of future in their proto-punk comeback album, 25th Century

Featuring a cover of Echo and the Bunnymen’s Lips Like Sugar which contains all of the salacious murky atmosphere of the original, it is safe to say that Siggy’s comeback album, 25th Century, arrived with a proto-punk bang.

After making their debut in 1999 with the album, Harlow’s Girl, which carried a Crampsy sense of killer off-kilter volition, 25th Century had a lot to live up to, but the rhythmic pulse is strong across the 10 singles which traverse the themes of hope, fury, and the rank psychic pathology of the 21st century.

The gothy Echo and the Bunnymen vibes carry across more than just the cover, along with hints of Television and bites of Splitter-Esque punk. But for me, the highlight had to be the title single, which truly embraces the stifled with strange nature of the 21st century while throwing back to the time when guitarists knew how to lick right into your soul. “If there’s going to be a 25th century there has to be 21st century morality” is a lyric I will never forget.

25th Century is now available to stream on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Post-Punk urgently bites back in Night Gallery’s single, Suddenly

Post-Punk is back with vengeance in Night Gallery’s new album, Caught Hiding, which features the standout single, Suddenly.

The Peter Hook-Esque stabbing basslines and chaotically kaleidoscopic sonics of Poison Ivy pull together to create the ultimate anthem for those ailed with the kind of off-kilter psyche that is so accurately portrayed in the lyrics. The portrait of the tendency of mental tilts creeping up on you at whiplash speed and the toll that takes is as striking as it is resonant.

Night Gallery found the perfect balance between emotionally raw and sonically finessed with Suddenly. Few post-punk revivals hit the mark as urgently and viscerally. Ben Nelson’s ability to vocally boomerang from Ian Curtis to Julian Casablancas-style energy is something no one will be quick to forget.

Caught Hiding will officially release on October 14th. Check it out for yourselves on SoundCloud.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

The alt-rock nomad, Charlson, moved into darker synth rock territory with his single, Night Sounds IV

Alt-rock nomad Charlson bravely extended his synth-dripping single, Night Sounds IV, across an epic 7-minute duration. While that track length may make Gen Z recoil in fear, this 00s indie-loving millennial was absorbed by every dark synth-dripping progression.

With a similar vibe to Johnny Marr’s debut album, Night Sounds IV from the independent artist’s forthcoming album, Night Sounds. It’s an energetic introduction to Charlon’s new venture into indie rock territory. One which pays a nuanced ode to Poison Ivy’s decadence and the Generation Terrorists era of the Manic Street Preachers in the crunchy guitars in the second segment of the enduring cry in the dark before it breaks into an orchestral laced outro.

The high energy of the release that comes complete with synthy blues motifs is an apt sonic reflection of those feelings that plague us when our heads hit the pillow. It certainly won’t help you sleep, but it’s a gregarious extension of solidarity for anyone with haunted self-awareness. Jack Kerouac’s quote of ‘the only people for me are the mad ones’ certainly springs to mind.

Night Sounds is due for release on October 14th. Hear it on SoundCloud.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Burrow exposed the fear masquerading as perfectionism in his shoegazey indie debut, Spiral

Boorloo/Perth-based musician Drew Kendell has broken away from the hardcore scene to reign melodiously supreme under the moniker Burrow in the indie rock arena. His debut single, Spiral, is an achingly intimate serenade which consumes you with the same sense of soul as The National while playing with shoegaze-y distortion and cutting post-punk tones.

Spiral acts as a grippingly honest and revelationary exposition on the fear that masquerades as perfectionist behaviour. Between the lines and the shimmering reverb, it is a reminder to connect with our inner child and an acknowledgement that being human is a process.

As someone who constantly turns to Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine for catharsis, my shoegaze bar is set pretty high; Spiral still took me to a new plateau of appreciation for the stirringly sweet innovation effortlessly exuded by Burrow.

The official music video for Spiral will officially release on October 7th. Check it out on YouTube.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Krautrock goes pop in RV Escape’s sophomore single, View-Master

With a similar tonal gravitas to Editors’ earlier records, RV Escape is here with their chillingly morose sophomore single, View-Master, taken from their forthcoming LP, Songs for Failure & Decay. Based on that title, the debut album is set to be the timeliest one of this era of dystopia.

The ethereally atmospheric synths, delay-distorted guitars, ragged basslines and harmonically drawling vocals envelop you in the hazy nostalgia of Krautrock that is cut with poppier inclinations to ensure View-Master is a release that you feel endlessly compelled to return to.

For any disillusioned existentialists looking for the ultimate escapism music that vindicates ennui while absolving the omnipresent bitterness, this artfully murky cry into the void hits the spot with beguiling precision.

View-Master will officially release on September 30th. Hear it on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Dan Zalles laments the monotony of modernity in his 80s-Esque alt-rock single, Email Hell

As digital domains dominate our existence, tracks such as Dan Zalles’ 80s rock-inspired single, Email Hell, feel almost inevitable. Between the atmospheric sonic nostalgia of the soaring guitar lines fed through effects that you’d expect to find on Will Sergeant’s (Echo and the Bunny Men) pedal board and the mundanity of modernity in lyrics, Email Hell is a feat of multi-era convergence that provides ample solace for anyone that doesn’t appreciate the technological advances which left human evolution in the dust.

Email Hell is is just one of the immersively sonorous singles found on the San Francisco Bay Area singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and film composer’s album, Emotionally. We highly recommend experiencing it in its entirety.

Email Hell is now available to stream on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

The Battery Farm – A Working Class Lad: Hell Hath No Fury Like a Modernity-Scorned Manchester Punk Powerhouse

‘A Working Class Lad’ is the first single to timely ooze from The Battery Farm’s forthcoming debut album FLIES. I say timely; it was the first song I listened to after hearing that Rishi Sunak had been sneaking money out of the budgets of deprived areas in the UK. We should all be PISSED. How pissed? Try matching the Manchester punk raconteurs of volition; there’s no one else on my radar that would make a better soundtrack for the overdue UK revolution.

Of all lyrical concepts, one that allows you to voyeur the conflict between identity, shame, confusion and class has to be one of the hardest to get right. There’s almost nothing more uncomfortable to me than the dissonance in celebrating the exploitation of our labour. Thankfully, The Battery Farm is about 100 IQ points above scribbling about working-class pride and becoming just another piece in the propagandist machine.

While the broiled and gnarled punk instrumentals and Ben Corry’s signature non-lexical rally cries bring the vexed energy, the simplicity of the lyrics triggers your oppressed contempt. I’m assuming everyone with a sense of sentience and a working-class status will have some; if not, I want the details of your lobotomist.

A Working Class Lad is out on all streaming platforms and a limited edition cassette on Rare Vitamin Records. The debut album FLIES is out on all platforms on Rare Vitamin Records on 18th November.

Review by Amelia Vandergast