Sugary Sweet Machines
Tours of the Bleak


4.0
excellent

Review

by Funeral USER (36 Reviews)
April 30th, 2014 | 315 replies


Release Date: 04/26/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A journey through the process of understanding nothing at all.

The unknown is something that both fascinates and frightens us all. Whether the challenge is the latest job interview or staring into the jowls of a demonic fire portal we can’t help but to feel a not so organized mix of excitement, fear, and a craving for answers. Tours Of Bleak is just that, a trip of the unknown, a venture through the topsy-turvy roads of who knows where and its gripping narrative will leave more questions than answers. Although an imperfect journey I can’t help but to come back to it time and time again, there is something delightfully frustrating about the experience of figuring out this record.

This album is flat out strange, right from the get go there is no messing around, this album dives head first into the storm with a trance inducing sombre rhythm that bellows and shakes in the headphones like an approaching storm or earthquake. The following track Long Walk Home offers a little bit of everything there is to find in this record: choking stillness, crushing drum beats, sizzling noise and odd rhythms that have no right to sound so good. The song structures may be unconventional for an instrumental album to spend so little time riding the crescendo-coaster of slow, expansive movements but this album isn’t about convention, this album above all else makes the listener think and that is what is both so rewarding but also a fault of the album.

I found myself hypnotized by the vast oceans of harsh noise and sombre reflection but in the end it signifies very little, there are no answers just questions and that is part of the harshness that comes with this album. This is massive record, but one that manages to be weighty without resorting to typical heavy stereotypes and conventions like down-tuned guitars, lo-fi production or thick ass bass instead harshness comes in many different forms and each of them are intriguing enough to pull the listener forward. Ascend The Storm has a head-splitting chime, gong, drum beat thing going on that loops for the entirety of the song that at first seems insufferable but as the song progresses and walls of sound are added you quickly realize that among the uplifting waves that the drums are representing trouble afoot and preparation, it is a harsh dichotomy that works well to present something resembling a narrative. Long Walk Home has its brutal horn section that probably hits harder than anything I’ve heard this year, presenting a crushing lucid, in the now sort of violence.

Judging from the cover artwork and bellowing frontline of each song it could be easy to mistake this record as simply an exercise in blasting the listener with melodramatic trauma but the nuances and whirling variety of textures paint a much different approach for the album depending on where the listener chooses to place their focus which adds a lot of replay value. While the drum beats are almost always treacherously harsh, there are also milder textures to explore as well. Throughout the album there is quite consistently a subtle crackling sound that most commonly takes the forms of schmoozing like the crackling of a fireplace or sweeps the soundscape in what sounds like rushing water. The dichotomy between the softer textures and the harsh forefront drive the question of what is the truth behind all the violence and harsh noise? What is really going on? Permanent Shadows is a prime example of this contrasting interplay where the gorgeous, bluesy piano melody weaves throughout the headspace in the midst of static and bellowing horns as the beauty triumphantly is both washed away and recovered as the song progresses creating a desperate atmosphere.

This album drives the imagination that is one thing I can say for certain but this album can’t always speak for itself, it takes thought and listener input to get the best out of Tours Of The Bleak. Due to the context I’ve been exploring this album it could be easy to overlook some of the flaws as well. The songwriting at times can be questionable; layers are added and dropped at completely unnatural times just for the sake of adding more noise or forcefully driving the music in some direction that feels really jagged. My other gripe with this album is that it is too short. The creators of this fine album are clearly very ambitious and perhaps a bit too ambitious for their own good, this album features too many ideas in fact, songs can sometimes become over bloated forcing unnatural progressions just for the sake of fitting in the next great idea. Some ideas are better than others on this record, while some overstay their welcome and others are gone all too soon before they get to really shine.

Unlike most albums of similar genres this album is anything but passive; it grips you from the beginning and demands full attention. Although not a perfect record it is easily one of the most entertaining records I have heard from this style of music. This album is excellent at making you an active member of the tour, just hope that you can ever get out alive.

Rating: 3.8/5



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user ratings (34)
Chart.
3.9
excellent
other reviews of this album
Shane Ragland (4)
Welcome to a new plane of existence where the light from the bomb created permanent shadows....


Comments:Add a Comment 
Funeralopolis
April 30th 2014


11753 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is a post-rock/industrial/ambient album made by sputnik users judio! and laughingman222

the album can be streamed on their bandcamp here:
http://sugarysweetmachines.bandcamp.com/album/tours-of-the-bleak

Digging: Waxahatchee - Cerulean Salt

laughingman22
April 30th 2014


1905 Comments


Sweet another great review

"My other gripe with this album is that it is too short."

We had around 30+ minutes of songs that didn't make it to the final album. A concern I had was that it would become too droney and too much to take in at one sitting. I wanted it to have a manageable run time and hit the all hight points quicker, maybe a judgement error by me

Digging: Einsturzende Neubauten - Lament

laughingman22
April 30th 2014


1905 Comments


also I like your 'recommended by reviewer' section

Judio!
Contributing Reviewer
April 30th 2014


6480 Comments


Woah, two amazing reviews in one night? Must be my birthday or something!

Seriously though this review was exceptional, hard pos. Extremely well-writte, I loved your criticisms especially. I had never even thought of some of the things you mentioned but I will really try to iron out those flaws in the future. Thanks for putting the time into writing this dude, and glad you enjoyed!

"My other gripe with this album is that it is too short."
-Well shit. This is a fair gripe for sure, but now I'm kicking myself because laughingman and I originally had a good hour's worth of material and decided to cut it down. Oh well, maybe later we'll release some kind of deluxe addition with a bunch of added tracks. Maybe we'll release it just for you, Funeral ;]

Digging: The Twilight Sad - Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters

Judio!
Contributing Reviewer
April 30th 2014


6480 Comments


Dammit laughingman, you beat me too it! I was suppossed to be the one who mentions how we cut down our
album's length!

Funeralopolis
April 30th 2014


11753 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Glad you guys liked the review, I look forward to hearing whatever else you guys come up with.

"Maybe we'll release it just for you, Funeral ;]"

;]

Judio!
Contributing Reviewer
April 30th 2014


6480 Comments


It's gonna happen bro. We'll call it Tours of the Bleak: Funeral Edition or something like that. And the cover will be the Grinch from your avatar, just you wait and see.

laughingman22
April 30th 2014


1905 Comments


I don't think including all the extra songs would be a benefit to the album. I think the order and length of the final product felt very natural and correct to both of us

Funeralopolis
April 30th 2014


11753 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

See my gripe is that there are so many ideas that not all of them have enough time to be fleshed out, if there were less ideas then the current run time would make more sense is what I meant. I agree that extra songs wouldn't really add anything to it.

Judio!
Contributing Reviewer
April 30th 2014


6480 Comments


I'm just joking around, I agree with what you guys are saying. The songs we cut out were all completely different ideas too, so including them probably would have done nothing but further validate your argument that we jumped around a bit too much.

laughingman22
April 30th 2014


1905 Comments


Im surprised how consistent it turned out considering we both let the other one run free with their creations. I feel the final version of this album gives it two distinctive parts. The first half is much angrier, with themes of bombings, wars and riots. The second half (starting with Judgement and Bliss so not exactly half) takes on a more retrospective style, the world is coming to an end what can we do to save our souls. Anyway thats just I felt and those themes were completely unintentional.

Judio!
Contributing Reviewer
April 30th 2014


6480 Comments


Yeah i love the overall result. Judgement and Bliss would've been cool at the beginning of the album, but I think it works great right in the middle. Like a transition between the two parts of the album.

fallenbird
April 30th 2014


4057 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I think the album's length is perfect. 45 minutes is the ideal time for me personally.

Digging: As Tall As Lions - As Tall As Lions

laughingman22
April 30th 2014


1905 Comments


@Funeral Do we really sound that much like Merzbow?

Funeralopolis
April 30th 2014


11753 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I would possibly recommend Merzbow fans to listen to this or vice versa but you don't sound the same no. Both this and that Merzbow album are filled with harsh instrumental soundscapes filled with nuances that people who like this would probably enjoy.

laughingman22
April 30th 2014


1905 Comments


ok I understand. Not one the bands I had in mind while recording this, but I will take it as a compliment

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
May 6th 2014


20063 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this is sounding really cool so far. Nice job judio and laughingman and great job on the review funeral

Digging: Trophy Eyes - Mend, Move On

laughingman22
May 6th 2014


1905 Comments


Thanks Atari!

Judio!
Contributing Reviewer
May 6th 2014


6480 Comments


Means a lot, Atari, thank you!

johnnydeking29
May 20th 2014


9444 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is awesome. I'm only two and a half tracks in, but I am hooked...

Digging: Warren of Ohms - The Wolf and The Fox



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