Tag Archives: Nausea

Craft Spells: Nausea

Craft Spells: Nausea- In my research leading up to this review, I came across a list; a list consisting of 11 words from other languages that have no direct English translation. A few examples include the German word “waldeinsamkeit” (say that five times, fast) which describes the feeling of being alone in the woods or the Indonesian word “jayus”, which is slang for when someone tells a joke so poorly and is so unfunny that you can’t help but laugh. Another word featured on the list was “komorebi” which loosely translates to the interplay between the light and leaves as sunlight shines through the trees. Komorebi is also the title of one of the singles off of indie pop project Craft Spells‘ new effort, Nausea. The poeticism like the kind that went into naming said track can be found over every inch of the sophomore LP from Justin Vallesteros and crew. In the three years since Idle Labor, the band has matured sonically and has ventured into less obvious territory to create something that is just as charming as their previous body of work but with a refreshing new take.

In recent years, Brooklyn’s Captured Tracks have cornered the market on dreamy, bedroom pop. A great deal of their success has been in locating outstanding individual talents who, when joined by a supporting band, are a force to be reckoned with. Vallesteros holds his own alongside some other talented frontmen (Jack Tatum, Dustin Payseur, etc.). The great thing is that with each new release, we get to see each songwriter grow and discover more about their individual sound. In our recent interview, Vallesteros said of Nausea: “It’s more like my idea of composing an album rather than writing a record.” It shows. Vallesteros has looked past relying solely on hazy guitars and dreamy synths and has incorporated more varied instrumentation (flutes, strings, horns) to create sounds that are fuller and more broad on this new record.

The album kicks off with titular track, ‘Nausea’, which eases the listener in rather than diving in head-first. The mellow tone sets a precedent for what is to follow. Despite the obvious growth on the album, Vallesteros is smart enough to know that there are certain aspects of previous releases that fans really responded to and loved and has made a point to hold onto specific characteristics of his songwriting that make Craft Spells what it is. The relaxing nature of his music being one of those characteristics. Even tracks that have a bit more of an upbeat kick to them like ‘Laughing For My Life’ or ‘Twirl’ still manage to capture a peaceful element.

One of the tracks that stands out the most on the album, also happens to be the shortest. Clocking in at one minute and 47 seconds, the track is entitled ‘Instrumental’ and as you can guess, there are no vocals. What makes it stand out is exactly that. This is the first time Craft Spells have included an instrumental on an album and does everything a good instrumental track should do; it acts as a nice transition between songs and stays true to the overall sound of the album.

One of the big stand-outs on the release, other than the title-track, is the first single, ‘Breaking the Angle Against the Tide’. This is another song that ventures into new territory for Craft Spells with vocals layered in a way that is compelling to listen to and pairs a traditional indie rock guitar sound against some of those newly incorporated strings. With an album that, as a whole, moves at a relatively chilled out pace, ‘Breaking the Angle’ ends things with a bit more oomph.

With Nausea, Craft Spells have managed to strike the perfect balance between experimenting while staying true to a sound that made for a powerhouse debut. Soothing melodies, earnest lyricism, and well thought-out composition has made this sophomore LP a fine addition to the Craft Spells catalog and yet another building block to rising career in the world of indie music…9.7/10

‘Nausea’

Moodie Black: Nausea

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Moodie Black: Nausea- Nestling snugly in the annals of contemporary rap history between Anticon’s reinvention of hip-hop and Kanye’s postscript to the genre lies the formation of Arizona’s noise rap duo Moodie Black, whose minimalist-yet-massive industrial beats earned them a small cult following several months before Yeezus dragged their downtempo breed of racket to the mainstream. With their debut self-titled EP, Moodie provided a glimpse of their heavy-hitting post-rap which, though drenched in scuzz, proved club-friendly with its thumping beats and memorable choruses. Yet in what may have been an act of defiance to ‘Black Skinhead,’ the group’s newly released full-length Nausea takes another big step away from the mainstream by relying heavily on instrumental post-rock soundscapes for an overwhelming sense of claustrophobia, a feeling as alien to rap as your grandparents.

From track one it’s apparent that the duo has shifted to a slower, tamer, and more stripped down sound, and the unsettling sense of impending rapocalypse has lost its sheen for them. Similarly, the sobering subsequent ‘S K I E S’ overwhelms the listener with images of McCarthian bleak skies and circling vultures, almost as if the honeymoon phase of the apocalypse is over and slaying zombies (or hipsters) is no longer sufficient compensation for the fact that rap’s end is imminently nigh. Although significantly mellower and lyrically more abstract, Nausea’s flagrant evocations of 28 Days Later’s hysteria (and soundtrack) makes it the perfect companion piece to fellow Fake Fourer and former Anticonian Sole and his Skyrider Band’s cataclysmically prophetic debut.

With only a pair of relatively short and spastic exceptions, Nausea’s tracks sprawl like any good post-rock album, making its seeming lengthiness entirely necessary (see: Swans). Though ten minutes shy of the one hour mark, the album still may not suit the impatient listener due to its somewhat-monotonous content, often crawling pace, and sparse cathartic payoffs, such as the aforementioned spastics (‘Mollyap’ and ‘White Buffalo’) and a few goosebump-inducing reverbial crescendos (as perfected on ‘Death in L.A. Pt. 2’). But for Michael Gira enthusiasts Nausea should feel like an exotic appetizer for which the spaghetti western guitar twangs of ‘Wolves’ appear particularly inviting.

With its post-rock ethos of finitude and barely audible yet undeniably (and verbosely) anti-establishmentarian lyrics, Nausea is commendable not only in trailblazing the young noise rap genre (yes, Moodie Black owns the rights to noiserap.com), but it also excels in countermanding rap’s mostly-established position within the world of music. Much like the raps of their labelmates and similar pioneering art rappers, Moodie proves hyperconscious in each of their tracks, as opposed to the mindless choruses often adorning such radio-friendly artists as Kanye and this year’s newest Lil’ and/or Young. From the vaguely-blasphemous ‘Christ’ (in which the lyrics “oh my god” may or may not seep into “I’m a god”) to the concluding surreality of ‘B’ (which boasts a violent chorus of “light me on fire in my fucking sleep!”), Nausea is exactly what its title suggests – a record documenting an existential sickness with ourselves. “Listen with caution,” warns Fake Four…9.4/10

‘Wolves’

Profile: Craft Spells

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The title of Craft Spells‘ new album is quite the anomaly. The second full-length LP from the dream pop group is entitled Nausea but the melodies featured are so serene and lovely, nauseous is the last thing you’ll be feeling upon listening. It has been three years now since the endearing debut, Idle Labor, with an equally accomplished EP shortly following. Fans have been eagerly awaiting the new album as well as a chance to see the Captured Tracks darlings live. Violent Success was lucky enough to catch up with frontman and founder Justin Vallesteros before their stop at Chicago’s Township and chat about shifts between albums, major influences, and his best live show experience.

Violent Success: Between albums, have you noticed any significant changes in your songwriting process?

Justin Vallesteros: Sure, sure thing. On the first record, I really didn’t own any of the recording equipment that I used. So after three and a half years I acquired a lot of recording equipment and the sonics are a bit more broad- more atmosphere to the songs. And three to four years of life in general, I have more to bookmark into songs. So lyrically, there’s a big change as well and just the tone of everything now that I’m 26 years old; in and out of Seattle and San Francisco and just kind of found myself in a place where I’m a bit more confident in what I’m doing and what I want musically.

VS: So what do you think sets Nausea a part from Idle Labor or Gallery?

Vallesteros: Well the whole tone is completely different. It’s a lot of atmosphere. It’s more like my idea of composing an album rather than writing a record- a rock record. So that’s the biggest difference, really.

VS: Who would you say are some of the artists or bands that have influenced you in your own music?

Vallesteros: In the old music?

VS: Yeah

Vallesteros: Oh yeah, a lot of that C86 stuff and you know, the Factory Records stuff. The Durutti Column, New Order, The Cure…stuff like that. Pretty obvious things. Not much of shoegaze. I do like shoegaze but people have called that record “shoegaze” and I don’t remember any of that record sounding like shoegaze.

VS: Do you have any dreams collaborations? Anyone you’d really like to work with?

Vallesteros: Yeah! There are two Japanese composers, I don’t know if it’ll ever happen, but there’s this dude named Cornelius, he used to be a part of this band called Flipper’s Guitar. He makes music by himself now. His Wikipedia says he’s influenced by The Beach Boys and Beck and he’s a part of the shibuya-kei scene which is like jazz and trip hop-sounding music or kind of like city music. And that’s like what I love and I would love to work with him. And in the same case, Ryuichi Sakamoto is this Japanese composer who’s a part of this band, Yellow Magic Orchestra. Greatest contemporary piano player, to me and it would be a dream, for sure, to work with someone brilliant like that.

VS: So when you are writing songs, do you tend to focus more on your own personal experiences or things that you observe happening in the world around you?

Vallesteros: Both. I mean that all exists together. From the beginning, everything that I’ve done recording-wise has been kind of like a bookmark to my life. Each song is something to remember eventually, and a record is a good representation of someone’s time over a certain amount of years.

VS: So what’s your favorite part of getting to perform the material live?

Vallesteros: When we played Brooklyn at the beginning of this tour it was a 1500-person capacity place and it was so nice that everyone didn’t touch their phones. I didn’t see one cellphone and that made me so happy. It was almost like we showed up and then all of a sudden, we took everyone out of that world that they’re in and brought them somewhere else and that was really special to me. So I guess that was something new for me. Really taking people out of the mundane and bringing them to a new, whimsical world.

VS: So you’re on Captured Tracks which has a lot of rising talents like Wild Nothing, DIIV, Beach Fossils. Have you noticed if any of your labelmates have been influencing you at all? Do you guys get ideas from each other or collaborate?

Vallesteros: No. There are definitely some instances where you chat each other on G-chat, or whatever. But we just send songs to each other, we never tell them “you should do this” or “you should do that.” And when we all got signed we were kind of on our own. We were found by Mike Sniper at different times and didn’t know each other really so we have our own sound. It’s cool though, the first releases for all of those bands- we had this aesthetic that was like this huge group of bands that really had this vision and sound that was kind of relative. Over the years- most of these bands have a singer/songwriter that does everything in the band- it’s cool to see everyone branch out by their second record and just push the sound. It’s nice, in that sense, everyone’s branching out to their own thing. So it’s groovy. No one’s ripping off anyone yet. Not yet. I’ll call ‘em out.

VS: When you first started out making songs in your bedroom did you ever expect this project to turn into what it is?

Vallesteros: No, no. I’m originally from a town called Lathrop, which is kind of near Stockton, and the only band that really came out of their was Pavement. So that set a pretty high standard where everyone really didn’t make plans to get signed one day or tour or whatever. Yeah, I never expected it. So I had about five songs on Myspace, when Myspace was still a thing, and Mike Sniper randomly messaged me for mp3′s. All he wrote was: “MP3′s?” After that, I had a record done and that was it. So it was very natural and I’m still weirded out by it today, so it’s pretty cool. It still makes me happy, which is groovy.

VS: Say you had to describe your sound to someone who’s never heard Craft Spells beefore, how would you do that?

Vallesteros: Yeah, I think it’s relative. I’m a normal dud like everyone else. I’m not a personality, like “that crazy songwriter guy.” A real dude with feelings and that’s something people can generally associate with in their mid-20′s or even when they’re younger, however they wanna interpret it. I think I’m just relatable in that sense. It’s hard to describe the whole sound in general, but it just feels like your world.

VS: What do you want fans to walk away with with when they listen to your music or say, come see a live show? What do you want them to get from the experience?

Vallesteros: I want them to feel relieved from the oversaturation of just everything in this world. Relieved that you got to escape for like 45 minutes and relieved that you can actually listen to a whole record and read to it or work on your art to it. Instead of trying to focus on, “is this hip enough?” or “is this cool enough?”

(Bottle breaks nearby)

Vallesteros: That’s so sick! I hope that’s on the recording.

VS: (laughs) Probably

Vallesteros: Groovy

VS: I’ll be sure to include it when I’m typing it all up: sound of glass smashing!

Vallesteros: Yeah, cool. Perfect! But yeah, I hope they’ll take it and feel relaxed, finally. No anxiety.

Craft Spells: Komorebi

When it comes to great music, patience is key. All good things are worth waiting for, and if the new single from dream pop mainstay Craft Spells is any any indicator, Nausea is going to be worth it and then some. ‘Komorebi’ is the second track released off the new album, due June 10, and it’s been a long time coming. Craft Spells began in the bedroom of founding member and frontman, Justin Paul Vallesteros, and have evolved into Captured Tracks favorites and one of the most exciting acts in the realm of indie pop. It’s been three years now since their critically-acclaimed debut, Idle Labor with a follow-up EP in 2012 that was equally masterful. Fans have been anxiously waiting to hear something new from Vallesteros and in recent weeks, that’s exactly what they’ve gotten.

‘Komorebi’ is soft and sweet, with mellow woodwinds opening the track and luring the listener in with its gentle melody. Vallesteros vocals are also quite sweet, taking on a slightly higher pitch than his usual baritone that fans have come so accustomed to. The track smoothly glides at a relaxing pace from start to finish and is an easy listen. Overall it is a perfect contrast and balance to the initial track released off Nausea, ‘Breaking the Angle Against the Tide’, which, while still relaxing, has a much more traditional indie rock feel to it. Both tracks have managed to show off the band’s chops and have us all eager to hear Nausea in its entirety.