Posts Tagged ‘Jose Carlos Santos’

2016’s Most Inspirational Albums According To Roadburn

Posted on Saturday, December 31st, 2016

This year we wanted to mark the end of twelve months of fantastic music in a slightly different way to how we usually do. We are surrounded by “best of” and year end lists, and this is kind of another one…  but instead of ranking albums, peaking with the “best” one of the year, we have switched things up a little.

We have turned to a few of the contributors at (the word wizards who help us put together the announcements for the festival) and asked them about the albums that they’ve found most inspiring this year. They’re not strictly limited to albums that were released in 2016 – but a 2016 focus was encouraged.

Other than that there weren’t really any rules – inspiration comes in many forms and for many reasons. This isn’t about finding an explanation for why one album should rank above another, or even which album was listened to the most. Creativity and music as an art form is such a personal thing; what warms one soul from the inside out can leave another cold. This is not any kind of definitive list, more an opportunity to share a little bit of what has warmed our souls and made our jobs, lives, and musical discoveries feel that much more passionate and vibrant this year.

There’s no two ways about it – 2016 has been an incredible year for music. The wider world may have given us a bumpy ride, but the solace we can find in music is an ever-present comfort and, indeed, inspiration. For that, we are truly thankful! As another year comes to a close, preparations for Roadburn ramp up into the new year, so we’d like to take this opportunity to also mark another great year in the Roadburn history books.

We’d also like to thank you all for the incredible passion, support and enthusiasm shown towards us and the festival.
Walter, Becky & all at the 013 venue.

Walter / Roadburn:

SubRosaFor This We Fought The Battle of Ages
Profound Lore Records

As a huge supporter of creativity, whatever form it takes, SubRosa‘s For This We Fought The Battle of Ages, has been my main inspiration for Roadburn 2017. Here’s a band that proves that a leftfield approach, paired with sublime songwriting and a daring lyrical approach, can transcend an over saturated genre.

Like no other, SubRosa gave new lifeblood to sludge and post metal, and are on par with scene-greats like Neurosis, which is rare nowadays. Therefore, For This We Fought The Battle of Ages is synonymous for the direction Roadburn 2017 has taken. Thank you for this, Rebecca Vernon, as I can’t wait for SubRosa to perform the album in its entirety on Thursday, April 20 on the main stage.

Season of Mist

Semente has been the soundtrack for Roadburn Festival 2016. Though Sinistro‘s much lauded album has been released in March (only a few weeks before the festival), I had the privilege to listen to the Semente in its early stages – based upon the songs I heard throughout 2015, Sinistro was actually the first band that I approached for the 2016 festival.

Semente‘s drive, but also ethereal yet very concrete, unclassifiable journey made me realize that Roadburn always should embrace talented, young bands no matter what! Sinistro dared to push the envelope when it comes to doom, showcasing that you can couple hauntingly theatrical vocals with a doom metal approach, underpinned by the dynamics and the vibe of Massive Attack, or even Portishead. It was such a personal highlight to see the band taking Roadburn by storm.

Ivar Bjørnson and Einar Selvik’s SkuggsjáA Piece For Mind & Mirror
Season of Mist

Combining the best of both worlds, Enslaved‘s Ivar Bjørnson and Einar Selvik‘s (Wardruna) Skuggsjá celebrated the 200th anniversary of the Norwegian constitution by fusing past and present through metal instrumentation, old Norwegian and Scandinavian instruments, and Norse poetry.

Having headlined Roadburn 2015, it took until March 2016 for Skuggsjá‘s A Piece For Mind & Mirror to be released – having such a special project as THE main band for the festival, only based upon it’s premiere at Norway‘s Eidsivablot, was our humble way to simply honour Ivar and Einar‘s daring musical approach, and artistic growth. Roadburn has always been about creativity, and taking risks, the festival isn’t about bands presenting their latest albums – Skuggsjá capivatited a stunned audience, and the album did the same upon it’s release a year later.

On a personal level, Skuggsjá, and both Enslaved and Wardruna, helped me through an extremely difficult time back in 2014 / 2015, and Skuggsjá‘s A Piece For Mind & Mirror, for me, is the soundtrack of perseverance.

EyeVision and Ageless Light
Laser’s Edge

As an avid admirer (and collector) of 70s prog and psychedelica, Eye‘s Vison and Ageless Light is hands down one of the best prog-psych albums I have heard in long while. Though Vision and Ageless Light is firmly rooted in the 70s, this isn’t a throwback either – Eye shows that contemprary prog-psych is just as exciting as it was back then, and definitely contributes to the genre’s current ressurgance.

I wholeheartedly hope to welcome the band at Roadburn one day, as they will floor everyone, even if you’re more into black metal or sludge. Besides the band’s amazing intrumental pyrotechnics, Eye is also offering a massive psychedelic odyssey – don’t be bewildered if they turn you on to… Prog! Please don’t blame Eye, nor Roadburn….We’re only here to spark a fire!

Crippled Black PhoenixBronze
Season of Mist

Defying genre classification, Crippled Black Phoenix is breaking down musical and artistic boundaries on their latest album, Bronze. Justin Greaves proves to be such a versatile songwriter, whether it’s prog, punk, post-metal, classic rock, or psychedelica, Crippled Black Phoenix easily holds their own, and adds much emotion, too! It’s such a unique band, and Bronze has been the blueprint for Roadburn 2017 – together with SubRosa‘s For This We Fought The Battle of Ages.

It’s for musicians like Justin Greaves, and bands like Crippled Black Phoenix we keep evolving the festival in order to give them a platform to excel, as we want to fully embrace these amazing creators. Without the likes of Crippled Black Phoenix or SubRosa, Roadburn would come to a halt – plain and simple!

Becky Laverty:

SubRosaFor This We Fought The Battle of Ages
Profound Lore Records

I may as well start with a disclaimer: I worked with some artists on this list, but I can assure you that I have well and truly taken my PR hat off to write this. I feel really fortunate that I can choose to work with incredible artists in my job – people whose enthusiasm is infectious and their talent vast. I did try making a list without any of “my” bands on it, but it wasn’t truthful. The album that have inspired me most this year have done so for such personal reasons that to leave them out makes the list redundant.

In my opinion, this is a creatively bold and culturally important album, made by talented and impassioned human beings. For This We Fought The Battle of Ages has been the centrepiece to my year in many ways. Rebecca Vernon is a fantastic lyricist, musician and an incredibly engaging and compassionate human being. I am SO thrilled to see this performed live in full at Roadburn. If nothing else, this album inspired me to read the novel ‘We’ which gave me a lot of food for thought in the strange world we’re living in these days.

Emma Ruth RundleMarked For Death
Sargent House

The bravery and rawness laced through Marked For Death are what means that this album warrants being included in an “inspirational albums” list, for me. We should probably all be a little bit less afraid of showing the rawness of our true emotions, and oftentimes that takes bravery.

The sense of loss (or impending loss?) permeates this album, and it’s an emotion / sensation that we’re all familiar with on some level, meaning that this album offers a connection and an outlet.

40 Watt Sun Wider Than The Sky
Svart Records

The simplicity of this album is what makes it so stunning; the stripped back-ness of it all. And in terms of lyrical content, the same applies. Patrick Walker is “just” singing about the things we all go through, the same emotions we all feel, only he’s turning those experiences into something creatively beautiful and also something universal.

When asked about the impact that his music has on other people, Patrick said: “You can take what you need from it or you can try to understand it better; whatever you like” – and what I take from it is inspiration, and occasionally solace.

Carole KingTapestry

Very definitely not from 2016, but a record that impacted on my year. This summer I had the absolute pleasure of seeing Carole King perform this album in full – with my mum! One of my earliest musical memories is of my mum playing this album, and to go and see it performed live with her was really special to me.

I think my mum had a terrible time to be honest with you – too many people, too hot, nowhere to sit down, y’know (I also took her to see Abbath later in the year, and she seemed in much better spirits there – take from that what you will). There were quite a lot of mums and daughters there actually, so something tells me that my situation is mirrored elsewhere a thousand fold. So, listening to this album makes me think of not only my mum, but of the universal themes (there they are again) that can feel so personal and offer such comfort.

Prophecy Productions

So much of my time is spent at my desk, working. It’s great big vast swathes of time in which I wish I could listen to and absorb music – and yet I can’t. I find it nearly impossible to listen to music that is in any way challenging or complex when typing up press releases. So, when I work, I listen to pop music 90% of the time. Which means that when it comes time to listen to new /  heavy music, I have to specifically set aside the time for it. Which is no bad thing when it’s as emotionally driven as this album is.

Clearly the theme for me in 2016, as far as inspirational albums go, is the deeply personal being opened up to becoming accessible and relatable. Realms is a haunting album, one that is precise and considered, carefully constructed and beautifully delivered. It’s absolutely worth setting aside the time to dedicate to.

JJ Koczan:

SubRosa – For This We Fought The Battle of Ages
Profound Lore Records

It almost got to the point with this album where I’d be hesitant to put it on because listening required such an emotional investment, but For This We Fought The Battle of Ages was nonetheless such a forward achievement that it would’ve been harder not to be affected by it.
For me, it was a reminder from SubRosa that there’s always new ground to cover in art and that even familiar forms can be redefined to suit individual expression.

King Buffalo – Orion
Stickman Records

Probably under a lot of people’s radar at least until it got picked up for release by Stickman, but for me, King Buffalo’s debut, Orion, was not only one of the finest albums of the year, but it was particularly encouraging as their first one. I was inspired by it in the sense of not being tentative.
A lot of the first albums I hear seem to kind of be feeling their way through their songs, not really sure of where they’re going. King Buffalo had a loose, heavy psychedelic sound, but there was never any question they knew exactly what they wanted to be doing and how to make it happen. It was the kind of record that made me want to remove safety phrases like “I think” or “it seems” from my writing and take most risks.

HexvesselWhen We are Death
Century Media

Speaking of risks, consider the leap in sound Hexvessel made with When We are Death. Not just in the jump to Century Media, but the deeply varied sound of the record itself. Almost a complete departure from their past work, it adopted multiple personalities but kept the songcraft so consistent that the audience had no problem following along its winding path.
From that, I took the lesson that so long as you have a solid foundation under you of quality work, you can feel free to break whatever rules you want, whether they’re real or just imagined.

Blacklight Media / Metal Blade

Simple inspiration: Good things can happen to good people who work hard. I know the cats from Gozu pretty well and I knew Revival was going to be something pretty special when they were still recording it, but to see the album come out, see them go on tour in Europe with Holy Grove, find them hook up with a Metal Blade imprint and US booking as a result of the response to it has been truly inspiring.

It’s not about playing politics or dicking people over, but about taking one thing into the next, progressing creatively, and knowing in what direction you want to move.

ZunBurial Sunrise
This was my morning album, plain and easy. Gary Arce’s shimmering guitar complemented by the vocals of Sera Timms and John Garcia continues to draw me back during the early part of the day.

I’ve had some genuine ups and downs this year on a personal level, but this record has consistently kept me moving, kept me engaged, and helped get me to work when I’ve needed to get to work. Aural coffee delivered in the most serene of forms.

José Carlos Santos:

Leonard CohenYou Want It Darker

I don’t know how to write about Leonard Cohen in a paragraph. I wouldn’t know how to do it in any number of words, in fact, which is why I have always avoided doing so throughout my entire writing career.

The man who inspired me the most to fully understand the power of words, the even greater power of words in a song, left us shortly after releasing his final album, one of the most deeply, quietly sublime of his long and unparalleled career.

I have listened to it every single day since then, still trying to figure out how to deal with a world without Leonard.

Nick Cave & The Bad SeedsSkeleton Tree
Bad Seed Ltd

Although Skeleton Tree isn’t as direct a result of the tragedy that befell Nick Cave‘s family as some seem to interpret it to be (most of the music was written before the events), the connection with that background is still inextricable from it, particularly after watching the amazing ‘One More Time with Feeling’ documentary.

A remarkable example of how art in general, and music in particular, can be a vehicle to comprehend, process or even abstract and transform unimaginable grief into something else. Also, on a more mundane – or perhaps the opposite? – level, also Nick Cave’s best collection of songs in many, many years.

40 Watt Sun Wider Than The Sky
Svart Records

Because no one else can quite do this trick, this apparent paradox, of turning introspection into something huge, of making intimacy stretch itself into something that is indeed wider than the sky, of taking long, meandering emotional journeys and extracting concrete, beautiful melodies out of them.
Patrick Walker does all this with the air of a man who just sat down and hummed out a few words off his chest for an hour or so. No other band sounds as effortlessly, naturally honest as 40 Watt Sun, and no other punches you so deep with such a soft, velvety glove.

pandonegligible senescence

pando should be an inspiration to any musician trying to break free from all the pre-determined moulds of the music business, artistic, stylistic or otherwise. A couple of dudes, without any pictures of them, with only a few dozen “likes” on Facebook and a Bandcamp page, have taken all those moulds, shattered them against the nearest wall, and dropped a little unassuming record in the beginning of the year which happens to be one of the most unusual, out-there records this side of the 21st century.
If Pyramids, Horseback, Earth or any other sonic conqueror of the sort has ever appealed to you, you need this. True to their spirit, since then they’ve dropped a gigantic, totally different fuck-you of a follow up, and who knows what’ll they do next.

Planes Mistaken For StarsPrey

You know that moment when one of your favourite bands, one of those ultra-underrated ones that few other people care about as much as you do, return from inactivity, do everything right, deliver their best album and proceed to finally start to reap the reward they have always deserved?

You probably don’t, because the universe very rarely lines up in such a perfect way, but in a 2016 full of horrible things, the discographic return of the amazing Planes Mistaken For Stars and the angsty, infectious depth of Prey‘s rock-outs were some of the very best things of the year.

Ben Handlemann:

David Bowie – Blackstar

The ever-changing nature of David Bowie’s career is something that has guided my musical taste and progress as a creative person for my entire life. To watch him write his own obituary in musical form and have it be the best release he’s made in decades is astonishing and tragic.

From the low, somber horns and strained guitars of ‘Lazarus’ to the unpredictably suave and off-kilter ‘Tis a Pity She Was a Whore’, there’s little territory that is easy here, but every song offers a challenge worth taking on. My initial reaction from this album was that there was so much more to say, but perhaps it’s the genius left unshared that excites my imagination the most.

Potential left undelivered is often the impetus for new sparks in young minds. Another thin white duke may be hard to see rising in this age, but innovators are everywhere if we only open our eyes. I have a feeling few folks knew this better than Bowie himself.

Caïna – Christ Clad in White Phosphorus
Apocalyptic Witchcraft

Perhaps change and pliability of sound were the driving factors for my musical selections this year. As somebody who has followed and loved Caïna for nearly a decade at this point, it was fascinating to see the newly expanded band follow up the hardcore-influenced Setter of Unseen Snares release with pure industrialized black metal fury and experimental noise.

A band initially pegged as “post-black metal” delivering its most painfully urgent release after ten years is uncommon to say the least, as many bands of such nature seem to grow ever prettier with time. Sadly, it appears that Christ Clad in White Phosphorus may be a swansong. If this is the case, what better note to end on than the cathartic and amazing exit provided by the ambiance of ‘Extraordinary Grace’ leading into the unexpected goth jam of the year in the title track?

Lacey Spacecake – Love Maps: Songs About Sex and Death

Some albums inspire more deeply than on just one or two levels. The wash of fuzz and layered vocals on each track here places me instantly at home, but this is more than just comfort listening. For one, each of these songs is a snapshot of something entirely separate from its peers, yet cut from the same cloth. Psychedelic rock structures and hummable melodies are apparent on the surface, but each song delivers more and more subtlety with repeated listens, making this a headphone album that would work just as wonderfully as a basement show.

Admittedly, the personal inspiration here stems heavily from the fact that I was invited to appear on one of these songs. In my early twenties I sang in a few bands but had come to view performance as something that was behind me. With the supportive but firm direction of sole member Automne Zingg, I was encouraged and inspired to return to creating music, beginning with a role on Lacey Spacecake’s ‘Three Blind Lives.’ I’m slightly embarrassed to include myself on a list of this nature, but what’s more inspiring than being pushed to chase one’s own creative impulse?

A Pregnant Light – Rocky
Colloquial Sound Recordings

While filling an EP with a single, massive song isn’t a first for A Pregnant Light’s sole member, Damian Master, it’s easily the most personal offering in his steady stream of releases. With Rocky, Master manages to take his self-described “purple metal,” a shape-shifting and impassioned amalgamation of hardcore, post-punk, new wave, and a black metal, and use it to guide the listener through the love, grief, and remembrance that surrounded the death of his father.

Grief as emotional fodder is often thrown out cheaply by artists looking to make a quick impression, but this hits hard and real. Six months after its release I’m still choking back tears every time it reaches its end. Give it a listen and you’ll understand why.

House of Mythology

It’s no secret that Ulver is one of my favorite bands on earth. While it’d be easy to write off my appreciation as fanboy status, I’m hypercritical of the missteps of artists I love. ATGCLVLSSCAP is anything but a misstep. As a very loose semi-live album, this is an incredible portrait of a band in a constant state of reinvention.

Old songs become entirely new and unfamiliar, save for trace elements at the core of the original compositions. New songs present themselves in varying shades of Ulver’s own past sounds, only to flow seamlessly into new territory. The entire thing feels like a direct glimpse into the oscillating core of one of the most innovative and daring groups on earth today.

Knowing that they’ll unveil new material at Roadburn 2017 has only made this album even more of a regular listen for me in recent days.

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