The Round Up Tapes // Volume XII

Former Worlds – Photos of Eve IX – XVI

Former Worlds use differing palettes of sound to create a landscape that is ravaged by the harshness of life. Soft, spinning drones echo in the quieter moments while filth-laden sludge bears the brunt of their rage in the opposing loud passages, all within one epic, seventeen minute track. Their first release, Photos of Eve IX – XVI, showcases the quartet’s ability to turn things on a head with barely any notice, yet it’s tight and cohesive and the inclusion of Erin Severson’s voice gives them a little leverage over other bands of this ilk.

Self-styled as sci-fi sludge, the band pass through traditional and doomier elements in the beginnings of this journey into the void before giving Severson the room to add a little beauty to the mix – her voice suddenly giving light to the darkness and the music falling into almost shoegaze-like territory as a result. Latter sections spin out the ambience into cosmic drones while contrasting voices vie for space. It’s an interesting shift but one that Former Worlds pull off with grace.

Listen and purchase here.

Gravetemple – Impassable Fears

Gravetemple’s Impassable Fears is a sonic journey of epic proportions. It’s a difficult listen and a challenge to dig through but spend some time with Sunn O)))’s members and their even more ritualistic project, and there’s some moments of stunning clarity to be found. Vocalist Attila Csihar uses his voice to create increasingly implosive chants that spiral into themselves and layer over one another, building a sense of terror around curious drum beats (almost jazz-like in their execution) and distorted guitars during opener “A Szarka (The Magpie)”. It’s a tactic employed throughout and despite only coming in at thirty five minutes, Impassable Fears feels much longer due to its incredible weight and frightening display of sound.

Impassable Fears isn’t a record made to be enjoyed – it’s something to be lost within, to fall into its rhythms and to be hypnotised. Gravetemple aren’t making music for the masses but instead for a select few who can somehow find peace within its terrifying walls. The looping gestures and improvisations only add to this alien effect and for Gravetemple, they achieve exactly what they intended – a spiritual movement.

Listen and purchase here.

The Holy Circle – The Holy Circle

Formed by Locrian’s Terrence Hannum, his vocalist wife Erica Burgner-Hannum and percussionist  Nathan Jurgenson, Baltimore’s The Holy Circle bring synthwave to life with expressive, sensual songs that touch on sadness and loneliness. Erica’s voice lends a coolness to the beating synths below, its rich melodies forming light around the hypnotic rhythms that pulse delicately around her. “Hearts Called” is simple in its execution yet emotion is built into the vocals and a wistfulness echoes around The Holy Circle and the not so subtle electropop that they’ve created.

“Early Morning” is gorgeous with a vocal that often takes flight into higher notes and synths that build a lush, but not overwhelming tapestry around strong and pulsing drum beats. The Holy Circle are not shy about their new romantic influences, but their music definitely feels modern – it’s slick, emotional, and beautiful and can easily be mentioned along acts such as Purity Ring or Zola Jesus – with a hint of darkness bubbling underneath giving them an edge and a depth that is clear on repeated listens.

Listen and purchase here.

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