Distant Satellites (2CD Tour Edition)

Special 2CD tour edition comes with a bonus Acoustic Sessions CD featuring 4 new interpretations, plus "Anathema" recorded at Liverpool Cathedral.

"It’s been quite a past few years for the incredible Anathema. Honors have been bestowed upon them, they’ve released an instant classic album in “Weather Systems”, and last year they released one of the best live concert films I’ve ever seen, “Universal”. Anathema is on top of the world, and they are only getting bigger. With all of this on their shoulders, they approach the world once again with their new album, “Distant Satellites”, a fitting name for a massive album. Again, with all of their recent success creating huge expectations, can this band meet such critical reception? Needless to say, Vincent Cavanagh on vocals, Danny Cavanagh on guitar, Jamie Cavanagh on bass, John Douglas on percussion, Daniel Cardoso on drums, and Lee Douglas with her wonderful vocals were all up to the challenge.

“Distant Satellites” is a very different album from “Weather Systems”, or anything else they’ve done, for that matter. It is different, yet somehow instantly familiar. It includes everything that makes them Anathema, but adds new and exciting elements to their already excellent formula. If you’ve never heard Anathema, their formula (in their last few albums, anyways) includes soaring guitars, amazingly catchy melodies, spiritual lyrics, and emotional flow both vocally and structurally. They are the masters of melody, and they remain complex and progressive even while being simple and accessible. They are truly masters of their craft.

This new album, then, is no different in those terms. The melodies return in force, such as the serene beauty of “The Lost Song” parts 1-3. And, yet, there is something different here. The melodic lines are somewhat more complex, less in-your-face, and more organic. This especially shows in the song lengths, most of them being over five minutes. This allows for more growth and more progression. Indeed, then, the melodies on “Distant Satellites”, while not being as instantly lovable or recognizable, are certainly more difficult and possibly will have a longer “shelf life” in my mind. Yes, the orchestrations seem to be lower key, as well, allowing the vocalists to express themselves more personally then ever.

There are other improvements, too. I feel that the musicianship is more fervent and on a higher plateau of difficulty than Anathema has tried. Drummer John Douglas, especially, plays amazingly well from start to finish, accenting the music with awesome pounding and fills. The rest of the band are at their peak, too, with Vincent and Lee being especially great with emotional and meaningful vocal performances.

“Distant Satellites” is different in more meaningful ways, too. Utilizing post-rock/metal structures is nothing new for Anathema, but they really do perfect them here, as on “Dusk”, a dark, climactic song. Yet, there is a sense of continuity between tracks, too. This is obviously the case between the three parts of “The Lost Song”, but it’s also apparent throughout the album, as if Anathema is telling us a story, convincing us of our true selves and our connection with the universe and with each other.

This album is wonderful in the first half, but my excitement reached new heights in the second half. Anathema has taken it upon themselves to change things up a bit. They wanted to progress their sound, but make it all seem so natural. So, in the second half, the album climaxes with one of the best songs, simply called “Anathema”. But then, we are thrown for a loop somewhat, as “You’re Not Alone” features a hefty portion of electronic vibe. It’s great, but the best is still to come.

Next, “Firelight”, a darkly ethereal instrumental track that is completely electronic, is thrust upon us, and is followed up by what may possibly be the best song Anathema has ever produced, “Distant Satellites”. This track combines everything that has ever made Anathema great: soaring melodies, climactic structure, gentle spirituality, amazing vocals, and now an electronic beat that is both complex and catchy. Vibrant, mesmerizing, and pure, this track elates me every time I hear it. It takes this album, and my heart, to new heights. The album finishes with a gentle ballad that just seems so fitting, yet it still has the strong electronic influence.

So, is “Distant Satellites” a winner? In every way! Is it their best album? I don’t know; it has the potential, but it might take time, just like “Weather Systems” did. What I can tell you is that this new album is more mature, more progressive, more interesting and eclectic, and less formulaic then anything Anathema has crafted yet. It does sacrifice some accessibility and some instant likability for these things, but I respect their decision massively, and I fully expect to see “Distant Satellites” at the tops of many lists at the end of 2014." - Progulator

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  • "It all begins at the end of one man’s life. He hangs on the noose, lit by a single spotlight as a viscous clot of blood gradually oozes from his mouth. Misshapen, deformed and attired in archaic garments he dangles, suspended in death, as dark ambient shamans Ulver are hidden below him on a blacked-out stage.A piano plays a fragile lament while rumbling effects and growling samples ebb and flow. And a song that is one man’s coda becomes redefined as a sunrise is projected upon the screen behind the band, and Kristoffer Rygg steps up to the microphone to begin “EOS”. Thus begins Ulver: The Norwegian National Opera, the mesmerizing and stunning beautiful live DVD release from Norway’s masters of avant-garde and enigmatic electronica.Ulver of course know a few things about redefining expectations. At one stage they were a celebrated black metal band, but in the late ’90s they dispensed with the traditional accoutrements of black metal and morphed into an entirely different beast. Traces of their metal past remain fixed in their DNA, especially in their desolate iciness and forever-questioning aesthetic, but for many years now the band has been releasing acclaimed works that blend progressive electronica and glacial neo-classical treatments with shimmering, hypnotic rock.Aside from one show in 1993, Ulver had always been a studio-based outfit. But in 2009 the band was lured onto the stage for Norway’s Festival of Literature, which in turn led to them play a series of sold-out shows in some of Europe’s most renowned venues throughout 2010. Ulver: The Norwegian National Opera was recorded in Oslo at the end of that touring cycle, not long before the band went into the studio to record 2011’s highly rated Wars of the Roses album. Captured by 6 HD cameras, the show features guest appearances by electronics guru Christian Fennesz and performance artist Ian Johnstone (who plays the aforementioned role of the late Mr. Ark Todd, and look out for his inscrutable resurrection to end the show on an enigmatic note).The DVD features material from throughout Ulver’s electronic and experimental years, with tracks from the Perdition City, Svidd Neger, Blood Inside and Shadows of the Sun albums, and the Silence Teaches You How to Sing and A Quick Fix of Melancholy EPs. It’s best to think of the DVD in terms of an all-encompassing experience. Breaking the show down into constituent parts defeats its purpose entirely. I could obviously explain to you how the band’s performances of “For the Love of God”, “Funebre” or “Let the Children Go” play out in regard to the overall set, but there’s a clue on the DVD menu to remind you that plucking fragments from the show is inadvisable—there’s no ‘play all’ choice here, just one word: witness. That, more than any of the words I’m about to type, sums the DVD up perfectly.Spectacular visual accompaniments are projected on a mammoth screen behind the band. Ulver’s set is built atop waves of oscillating and juxtaposing currents, and as the rhythmic pulse shifts the imagery evolves. Varying images of mankind’s atrocities, nature’s majesty and preternatural mystery mimic the cadence of the show perfectly. The vast array of metaphoric, allegorical or representative imagery bolsters or offers a stark counterpoint to the tracks, and as the show progresses it becomes impossible to separate the visual from the musical.That’s not to suggest that taken in isolation the music is somehow lacking, it’s not, and a CD release of the soundtrack alone would be incredible. The vintage synths, creeping effects, droning guitar, dulcet vocals, piano and percussion that Ulver wield all fuse into a singularly mesmeric force. The set-list has obviously been assembled with a cinematic vision (perhaps operatic is more apt), and the music alone sets you on a path where the idea of stepping off is unfeasible. For 90-plus minutes the band unhurriedly manipulates and tweaks their sound. With many songs bleeding into one another, Ulver constructs a show that takes you on a skillfully paced, sweeping and euphonious voyage—where the pitch and sway, the crescendos and hypnotic undercurrents, guide you through a raft of emotive states.I had high expectations for Ulver: The Norwegian National Opera and I was not, for one second, anything less than enthralled. Expertly edited by Erlend Gjertsen, and mixed by the band at their own Crystal Canyon Studios in Oslo, the entire package is pristinely rendered, and is a sumptuous feast for the eyes and the ears. Ulver have always been a prime example of the transformative beauty of artists dedicated to producing work that is innovative and imaginative. And galvanized and inspired by celestial, terrestrial and otherworldly endeavors, Ulver: The Norwegian National Opera is a firm reminder of the transfixing (and yes, even transcendental) power of authentically progressive music. I couldn’t recommend it highly enough." - Hellbound.ca
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  • "Pin-Up Went Down are a new French duo…- let it start at the beginning.The whole story started with a myspace friend request. Nowadays I’m getting tired of them due to the continuous indie bands’ request; wanting me to be their fan. And these guys just appeared from the unknown. Oh my god…another one *click*….. OH MY GOD!…so this is it. I was sceptic and became surprised like hell, that this is a great band. I asked them for a promo and they sent me one. Thank you!-…a new French duo consisting Asphodel, the mistress of female activities and Alexis who is responsible for all the instruments can be heard in their music – guitar, bass, keys, electronics, etc. The project started less than one year ago as Carnival in Coal split up and former live drummer Alexis Damien launched this new project, called that time Esthete Piggie. Soon he was joined by Asphodel who can be known from Penubmra or Nowonmai.So I was surprised even more when I saw that big Ascendance Records banner on their profile, I couldn’t believe in my eyes. Ascendance Recs. is a label with the aim of collecting the progressive, experimental or just talented acts having a female voice. It’s a rather new label but already made deals with bands like Stolen Babies and unexpecT. So the name may sound familiar to some of you. - Get to the band!The name itself (which was created in the December 2007) evokes the era(s) of models who got into fashion and became covergirls posing in front of the camera. The words in the name can be considered as an oxymoron (up/down). And the second part of the name has the negative side, the final outcome is the fall of these beautiful creatures.The cover is unusual for an experimental/AG metal band but I suppose I just got used to weird, mindfucking artwork. 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Asphodel is one of the most talented singers I have ever heard. She can sing rigidly, violently but on the other hand she has a definitive gothic background which teaches the girls to sing in a method can be recognized with ease (this style of singing can be heard near the end of the song). But. Yes…these buts. But she has a unique jazzy, though profile and another diverse which is something undefinable, smooth and soft disco styled one and not forget mentioning her childish one. And it’s just the tip of the iceberg. I can’t tell another girl who are able to sing in these ranges…and she combines it with continuous changing of the pitch. Alexis delivers aggressive guitars and drums along with male growled/shouted vocals. I would highlight one moment: under the bridge, Asphodel sings in her disco styled while Alexis growls in the backgrounds and the whole thing explodes as guitars and the shouted vocals come in to form the chorus.Some lyrics have allusions to the various parts of (music) history. Nearly Dead Bat Make up also has a reference to the band Kiss and the people who believed them Satanists and Nazis. Another interesting part of this song is the very beginning, with the lyrics of "Be (-shuuMuut-) obscene, be-be aggressive". It’s a reference to Marilyn Manson’s mOBSCENE which has almost the same female lines originally stolen from Faith No More’s Be Aggressive. (-shuuMuut-) = (shut up M arilyn M anson).On the other hand, some of the lyrics may seem absurd like Pussy Worship which is built around the question girls ask themselves: What is it like being a man while having sex?. 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  • "The Allman Brothers Band's fifth live release in 25 years, cut during 1994 in Raleigh, NC, and at the Garden State Arts Center in New Jersey, is a high-water mark in their Epic Records catalog. If anything, they're even better here than they were on the earlier Evening With the Allman Brothers Band, the old material getting fresh new approaches -- the band was on for both nights, and presented sets, including an acoustic version of "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed" and "Jessica" (which won a Grammy Award), that soared and flowed, especially Dickey Betts and Warren Haynes' guitars. What's more, the clarity of the recording and the volume at which it was recorded make this a most rewarding 70 minutes of live music on a purely technical level -- you can practically hear the action on the guitars during the acoustic set. It won't replace Live at Fillmore East or the live portions of Eat a Peach, but it deserves a place on the shelf not very far from them." - Allmusic
    $5.00
  • This release is part of the "Deep Jazz Reality" series that explores obscure jazz titles.  Often the music touches on modal, spiritual, and even psychedelic jazz.  While Japanese artists are often featured, the series is a bit wide open, touching on musicians from all over the globe.  These CD reissues are limited releases in mini-lp sleeves and often go out of print, at which point they sell for ridiculous prices.Toshiaki Yokota is a legendary jazz flautist in Japan that is apparently still going strong.  He was involved in four 1970 albums, three of which he was the leader.  All of his early albums sell in the "if you have to ask you can't afford it" range.  While Exciting Flute is the most conventional of them all it still has quite a bit of charm.  Its a fully plugged in set, in which his Beat Generation ensemble run through their interpretations of the current pop hits of the day - with Yokota's flute work at the fore.  Its all a bit campy now, listening to beat psych/big band interpretations of "Venus", and "Born To Be Wild" but still fun.
    $30.00
  • "You know how it is. You’re the Daughter of Satan, you fall in love, your lover dies, you kill some nuns, and then you destroy the world.All in a day’s work for Demon Lung, whose new album ‘A Dracula’ is the gleeful retelling of a gruesome story inspired by the 1977 horror film Alucarda.‘A Dracula’ is bigger, faster and more spectacular than its predecessor, the band’s excellent debut ‘The Hundredth Name’, and while it may not be a huge creative gamble for the Las Vegas quintet, it’s a step up in every department.Clad in white gown and sorrowful expression, singer Shanda Frederick in undoubtedly the band’s focal point. She particularly enjoyed writing the lyrics for this album, and that relish oozes through in her performance.Frederick’s voice sways and lilts with a delicately-controlled strength. It is at once tragic and snarling, dreamy and yet decisive. For all her gloomy power and vampiric passion, it would be great to hear even more variety from Frederick’s distinctive voice. She persists with a trademark slide at the end of almost every line, which becomes distracting.On the song ‘Raped By The Serpent’, she demonstrates that when her vocals are more positive and invigorated, then the song can really come to life. Other standout tracks include ‘I Am Haunted’, which is a slow and patient triumph, and the gloriously understated epic ‘Gypsy Curse’.Big, metallic riffs pummel and crash as the narrative proceeds to its striking conclusion, the guitars working in perfect partnership with Frederick’s Medusa-like charms.Demon Lung draw upon a sludgy heaviness and apocalyptic drumming to create a thunderous, stirring sound. And yet some songs stubbornly refuse to burst into life, as was the case on the band’s previous album. These Nevada wizards prefer to downplay their own epicness in order to maintain a relentless state of tension.‘A Dracula’ is consistently engaging and mesmerising work of creative misery from these stylish Las Vegas doomsayers." - Doom Metal Heaven
    $14.00