Saturday, May 10, 2008

Ampere & Sinaloa - Split Recording


HFN101.5 - teaching you about the amazingness of the split release. (technically, a .5 in a number means a split release between labels, not bands; that's the first thing you've learnt!) Following on from this and this.



"To the seven of us involved in the creation of this collection of sounds, images and words, it is more than just a record. It serves us as a individuals as a creative and expressive output, but more importantly this is an attempt at communication and a sharing of thoughts, feelings, and experiences. We have all been moved by records before, whether it be by a progression of notes, the strike of a drum, words to sing along to, writings on an insert, or better yet, all of the above. As it is a medium we can relate to we use it in attempt to continue the conversation, from record to record, and from person to person. In the end perhaps this will fall upon deaf ears, but hopefully we can spark further communication and continue together to create a shared space for discussion and growth."

There are so many amazing elements to this record, it's hard to know where to begin.

Just look at the pictures above, for a start: the rich fall colours, layered across the CD case, with artwork (by Sinaloa member Pete Zetlan) bearing more than a little resemblance to Scott Sinclair (Sinc's) work for Hot Water Music, especially that of the superb A Flight and a Crash; the case itself made of beautifully textured, woody paper, slightly glossy to the light and to the touch in parts, an inch too wide for an ordinary CD case; and on the back, the characteristic buzzsaw stamp of Ebullition Records.

If that seems a little superficial, then read the quote above. "more than just a record". To risk being clich├ęd, it's an experience. Primarily a sonic one, of course; it doesn't fall short in that regard. But there is also the multiplicity on inserts; lyrics sheets with, on Sinaloa's side, detailed explanations of each songs (as on all their releases, it seems); a little white booklet with writings from each band member, from each band - two of which are reproduced below.

The simple fact is, this is one of the most crucial records I've ever heard or bought (it came out in 2006 - same year as La Quiete, below - and I downloaded it from Zen and the Art of Face Punching in 2007, buying it not too long afterwards). So I'll skip straight to the sounds:

Ampere is a band I'd hesitate to call screamo, though not (I hope) for the usual inward-looking definitional reasons which characterise modern hardcore. I associate screamo with an epic sound, something that Ampere completely lacks except in a weird, totally compressed sort of way. They remind me more of early-to-mid 90s hardcore emo bands like Mohinder or Swing Kids, only more technically advanced; but at the same time, they have clear links to the later 90s screamo sound via Orchid. Confused? Don't worry, I don't know what I'm talking about either. Blend sums it up pretty simply in two sentences: "Blazing fast chaotic bursts of noise and frantic hellish screaming with unintelligable lyrics that are guaranteed smarter then you would ever be able to tell without reading the liner notes. Small doses of melody and harmony appear only to be wiped away clean by a complete hurricane of noise." Judging by the syntax, I'm guessing he might have been listening to the band as he was writing that...

Ampere and Orchid guitarist Will Killingsworth also founded the utterly brutal and conceptually amazing Bucket Full of Teeth, which is a bit like Pig Destroyer for '00s emo kids. Ampere did another excellent split with Wolves (who in turn did an excellent one with Sinaloa...), who are the closest thing to a second coming of the Swing Kids as I've ever heard. In general, you don't want to listen to this stuff for too long - a point I've made several times before - so half of a split album is almost perfect. Play this to anyone who thinks emo is for pussies (it still is, but it's for pussies who can rock out!)

If that description is completely useless and has left you dazed and confused after listening to fifteen minutes of grind/hardcore/insanely noisy punk, don't worry, Sinaloa is both a lot easier to explain and to listen to. Calmer, softer, but still passionate screamo and hardcore, they hark back even more so than the previous band to the 'origi-emo' sound; blend again -

"Sinaloa, on the flip side, are a much calmer brand of punk and hardcore. They more closely resemble the mid 90's brand of emo pioneered by bands such as Moss Icon and Native Nod. Dont get me wrong, they still inject their own dose of chaos, its just not a full on assault on the ears as much as Ampere is. They use a more tuneful approach, using jazzy signatures and solid rock drumming to make a perfect "Yang" to Amperes "Yin"."

If I was to also try and describe Sinaloa's sound in a more prosaic manner, it would be that they are a band that play their own unique style of surprisingly laid-back and yet impossibly anxious screamo, combining sonically some of the Lungfish churchbell heartbeat, the Moss Icon exposed bank, and even a little bit of the Drive Like Jehu aloha, luau. They are the kind of band which inhabit some kind of space between their own notes, so that every moment of their songs can be a sort of ephemeral, preternatural bliss. And so on.

Now, open your ears.


"We all have opinions and personal politics that tend to guide our lives and the decisions we nake. these are the ideas, concepts, or methodologies that we hold close. some we come up on our own, while others we may have adopted from other sources like books or people we respect. whether it is a seemingly minor decision like adopting a pet from a shelter; or something that you can carry with you daily, like pursuing a career for a non-profit organisation, these ideas have purpose at the time we incorporate them into our lives. as with anything else, over time as we learn new things and gain life experience which eventually changes our views. i feel that often times we don't go back and revalidate our personal politics as our views and goals change. it is important that we go through a revalidation and question why we do the things that we do. if someone asks you why hold an opinion close, you should be able to answer why with confidence. if you can't answer, then why do you feel so strong? maybe your view are dated or they were never truly yours to begin with. it doesn't make you a weak person if you decide to pull back on something that you previously felt strongly about. we all need to ensure that the decisions we make contribute to our ultimate goals and what we want to accomplish. take time to think about what you are doing and the impact you want to make. make sure that you exerting your energy in a way that is constructive in helping you accomplish these goals. we all have the power to accomplish a lot if we keep ourselves in check."

brendan campbell


"so much time is wasted. time is flying. days are passing like seconds, and months are passing like minutes. before you know it the years are passing you by... where did all that time go?

Make the most of the time that you have. Make every second count.

"And I guess that's what growing up really is, not the continuous aging or learning or movig on, it's the loss. It's forgetting exactly what made you a kid in the first place. It's the realisation of good things used to be..." - Mike, in Abandon #4

It's time we redefined what growing up is.

"It's not how old I am, it's how old I feel" - Minor Threat

I think at a young age an element of fear gets put into our heads about getting older: the fea that you are just getting closer and closer to death, that things start to go downhill, that the best years of your youth are the best years of your life. why not make each year the best year of your life?

Stay inspired. Stay motivated. Be your own inspiration

You are in control of your own life

Let's live our lives the way we want.

Have fun, stay punk.

Love, Meghan"


Ampere/Sinaloa - Split (from ZAFP)

Ebullition - Ampere, Sinaloa

Ampere/Sinaloa, Split at Interpunk


"Sinaloa is a state. Everybody sings"


gonzo said...

very nice blog, bookmarked some time ago.
feel free to check mine
cheers from croatia

Anonymous said...

once again a fantastic post, always a pleasure to read your blog. and why did I miss this one at zen? it´s fantastic!

and if you don´t mind, some spam:
after a lot of other stuff, I just started to post again some (post-/whatever) hardcore music, Standstill - memories collector, a milestone of european hardcore, make sure you check it out!

gonzo said...

double posted the same thing. sorry about that.
keep up the good work.

blend77 said...

awesome! im glad I have been instrumental in the spread of this record.

Ampere took me a bit to get into, namely because I couldnt keep up with what was happening in the songs. Sinaloa was the complete opposite. I found them instantly alluring and too this day they speak volumes to me, without even having to say anything. Of course their words are some of the best in the genre so its a win win situation.

When I finally opened up to Ampere, it was through this album. The first few songs have such and incredible amount of dynamics packed into just a few small minutes. Its really very intense, and the recording brings out the sound really well in comparison with their earlier works.

While I generally like all the Ampere I have heard, it is with ease that I say that this is the best offering of theirs. Not only in terms of song quality, but as you stated, in terms of length. Too much of an Ampere bludgeoning can leave you inured to the punch that these guys pack.

On a side note, Will has a new band called Failures. They are insanely good and nothing like Ampere or Orchid. Saw them two weeks ago at ABC No Rio. Look it up on Clean Plate Records...


gabbagabbahey said...

blend, of course you've been instrumental in the spread of this record. If I had to do a personal 'best of Zen' this would probably be top.

I agree with both things you say about Ampere: the more I listened to this album the more attuned I got to the melody of their half, and theirs being the first helped; the brevity works for both them (and conversely, makes The First Five Years such a ridiculous record!) and Sinaloa, who I think work best in concentrated bursts as well.

A shame Sinaloa didn't do too well in the poll, I switched my allegiance to them from La Quiete after posting this. I guess they aren't really screamo, but then again you can't seriously call something 'emo' in the Moss Icon/Indian Summer sense in 2008.

I shall keep an ear out for Failure, I heard he had something new and with his track record (or record track, ha) it oughta be good...

blend77 said...

ha. definitely. Failures. Plural. Very thrashy old school styled hardcore. Like Heroin on crack, if that make any amount of sense at all.

I voted for Sinaloa. I was the first Sinaloa vote. La Quiete falls close behind. But Sinaloa is can relate with easily. I know what theyre saying and I dont have to decipher the lyrics.

danielrey said...

Thanks !