New Music

Listen: Match Fixer – II

angelee1Match Fixer is a side project of Angel Eyes’ Andrew Cowie. The first Match Fixer material released last July in the form of a (now removed) 2013 Cricket Scandal EP, but now we have news that an official release is in the works, namely a split cassette with Glass Bricks due later this year through Altered States Tapes.

The below embedded track, simply titled ‘II’, will feature on the split cassette. So far Match Fixer has demonstrated a darker and more dense alternative to Cowie’s Angel Eyes work and this is no exception. Its sampled choral vocals and distorted snares sound close to industrial in spirit, with a chilliness that stands in contrast with Angel Eyes’ warm and welcoming productions.

2014 also holds the promise of new Angel Eyes material, so keep an eye out for that.


New Music

Listen: Angel Eyes – Heave

Angel Eyes

This new Angel Eyes track comes with the warning that it won’t be appearing on any official releases and that it’s little more than a “muck around“. It’s still worth a listen though, if only because it reflects a little of the change we heard in Andrew Cowie’s live show during the second half of 2013. Not a huge resemblance really, but the sharpness of the beats stands in contrast with the dreamier album material we’ve heard before.

I’ve read Angel Eyes described as “cold” but I’ve always felt it was the complete opposite (Dire Dish sounded like it was melting, geez!) but the sounds here could easily be described as frosty. No idea whether this track signifies a new direction (I’m guessing it doesn’t) but I don’t expect the next Angel Eyes record to sound much like the last.

New Music

Listen: Angel Eyes project Match Fixer


Angel Eyes’ 2013 Bedroom Suck release Final Fare is an album that just keeps growing the more I listen: as time goes by its swollen, austere beauty reveals new details. Match Fixer is not Angel Eyes, but it’s Angel Eyes’ Andrew Cowie making instrumental music that isn’t too dissimilar. Since Cowie has threatened on the Angel Eyes Facebook page that he’s going to take these recordings down in a week you’d better download them quick smart, if only to digest later. There seems to be some kinda corrupt cricket theme here, which is hilariously at odds with the music itself, but y’know, consume it however you like. Keep in mind these are demos, though.


Photos: Angel Eyes, Blank Realm, Superstar and Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys in Newcastle

One of the biggest all-star line-ups of the century descended on Newcastle last Sunday for a quadruple album launch at White Records. Yasmin Nebenfuhr was there, and she kindly took some photos.

Check out our reviews of the new LPs by Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys, Angel Eyes and Blank Realm. Superstar soon.

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Angel Eyes – Final Fare (LP)

angeleyesfinalfareOn Final Fare, Angel Eyes captures the docile, captivated sensation of being a passenger; of having an endless supply of landscape scrolling to one side. Minimally cinematic life rushing by, with no requirement for you to engage. Movement without expenditure. An unfolding of potential events. Random and unrelated input.

I’ve tried to formulate why Andrew Cowie’s music affects me for years now, but it’s a slippery thing. Sometimes I think it’s simply and unashamedly gorgeous and nothing else. That’s fine, isn’t it? But then when I’ve come close to accepting that idea, I listen again and think… well, it cannot be that simple. It’s true that many of the textures Cowie trades in recall sentimental ‘80s pop music. I’m thinking specifically Berlin’s ‘Take My Breath Away’: beautiful deep oranges; shimmering distant globes; sounds that impart a renewed appreciation for sentimentality. A world in slow motion with a liberal spread of lens flare. That Berlin song is beautiful. So is Angel Eyes.

But that’s the problem. Angel Eyes on paper is nostalgic. The textures here: the spatial disorientation, the chorus and reverb, the synths, the muted pop sensibilities… maybe you could file Angel Eyes in a section for unusually dour chillwave (take a deep breath) and be done. But at best you’d be selling the artist short and at worst: you’d be an idiot! Angel Eyes, in practice, is something ineffable. It’s something personal. You cannot relate. You’ll blaze your own path.

To me, Final Fare sounds like a city. Final Fare reminds me of depictions of Manhattan, or Sydney, or Tokyo, in 1980s films. Brief, wide pans across a bewilderingly modern skyline, at sunset or sundown. A still vision of perfectly curveless architecture that betrays no evidence of organic life. The bays and quays shimmer, the lights along busy roads glow, but it doesn’t look like actual life is happening there. A city from a distance resembles a monument. A monstrously ornate, fairy-lit, but otherwise lifeless monument. It betrays virtually nothing from afar.

But then when you’re inside it, you forget where you are: it’s not a monument anymore: it’s a labyrinthine, echoing, busy series of avenues and routes. It’s ugly and busy, but we’re accustomed to being inside it, and so the full extent of its still exterior grandiosity never registers. It’s easy to forget how weird this is: how dense we are, how high we scale and wide we reach, until you sit on a hill some several kilometres away. We are the barely comprehensible horror looming just over the horizon. And that’s what Angel Eyes always sounds like to me: like watching something immensely complicated from a distance with a distorted sense of time and movement. Likewise, Angel Eyes’ music is beautiful from the exterior, but try to make sense of it from the inside and maybe you may get nowhere, like me.

Final Fare is the most ‘song-oriented’ record that Cowie has produced, but these pop songs feel like crowded halls of mirrors. Distinct notes in melodies linger longer than they should, they press against one another and melt into accidentally non-melodic yet achingly luminescent textures. Often, it feels like you hallucinate the melodies here. Some tracks here, like ‘A Light Distraction’, recall watching human systems – pedestrian traffic, train line arteries – at such a speed that all movement resembles a permanent blur of shifting colour. Cowie has done this before, such as on his debut Dire Dish, but that record offered a more pastoral setting. Here, his songwriting has become more complicated and strange as a result of averting his glare to a city.

It’s only the sound that betrays this new focus though. Cowie’s lyrics have always been so obscured in the mix that a song about preparing shitty meals, such as on the title track to 2009’s Dire Dish, can sound unintentionally profound. That’s definitely a jarring contrast – the startlingly beautiful knocking head with the mundane – but I can guarantee that you won’t register this when you listen to Angel Eyes. I cannot, and probably never will, accurately decipher what this record is actually about. If indeed it’s about anything. And I’ve tried – that’s my job, right now.

The songwriting, though. Structurally, sometimes it feels almost inappropriately advanced, and arcane, next to the sonic associations it’ll inevitably conjure. Because there’s probably gonna be a lot of people who will conflate Angel Eyes’ music with all manner of conditioned, 21st century nostalgia, and the drowned inexact pop tropes that zeitgeist trades in, but I don’t feel like that’s applicable here. There are sonic parallels, but they’re consumed by the execution. Just listen to it. I challenge anyone to call this record nostalgic in the way we’re conditioned to believe music is intrinsically nostalgic in 2012. Final Fare may be nostalgic for a sensation, a personal sense of childlike wonderment, maybe, but wholesale periodic pillaging? No! Rationalise it on those grounds – give it a go – and you’ll fail. This music provides no context beyond what your imagination will arbitrarily conjure for you. It’s like taking the back seat and having no obligation to chat to the taxi driver, even when he takes flight. Don’t even congratulate the guy, when he’s hurtling towards the stars, and you didn’t even ask for this. Final Fare is docile, blissful receptiveness. At a time when virtually anything remotely strange is ‘weird’, Angel Eyes is legitimately, and beautifully, weird. It’s up to you.

Label: Bedroom Suck
Release date: February 2013