July '14

Andrew Lemon rounds up the latest releases from Boxcutter, Sister Ghost and TOSKA

Boxcutter – Shea

Belfast's Barry Lynn, aka Boxcutter, remains an underrated gem of the local music scene. Shea, the fifth release on his own Kinnego Records imprint, maintains the consistency and vibrancy that we've come to expect from Lynn over the years. The EP's title track is perhaps the best example of this.

Leading with a seemingly amorphous bassline, 'Shea's brief vocal snippets and ethereal synths tease and skitter around before finally coming together for the song's climax – and the result is a track which feels more akin to the likes of Squarepusher or Four Tet than any  'traditional' dubstep artist. As with several of his full length releases, the first listen to Lynn's latest material can prove a little overwhelming, simply as a result of 'Shea' shifting from one influence to another; from one electronic music genre to the next. Then again, Lynn has always enjoyed filling his music with intriguing reference points, with the result being that us listeners are constantly kept on our toes. Long may it continue.

Sister Ghost – Scent

'Scent' is the debut single from Derry singer-songwriter Shannon O'Neill, aka Sister Ghost. Having previously fronted the now defunct Belfast-based grunge-pop trio Vanilla Gloom, O'Neill is now at the forefront of what is currently a one woman show in Sister Ghost, a new creative project which is so far building on all the promise from former Gloom single 'Lemons & Wine'. O'Neill's influences are apparent – the cymbal-heavy introductory lines and gloriously fuzzy guitars throughout nod to the Pumpkins and Bossanova-era Pixies. Elsewhere, O'Neill's vocals are particularly impressive on the track's rousing chorus.

Those who found something to enjoy in Vanilla Gloom will take easily to Sister Ghost's grunge stylings, then – but there's no doubting that the songwriting here is darker than on O'Neill's previous incarnation. The track's angst remains pent up throughout, and not even those guitar-heavy choruses are enough to provide catharsis . 'Scent' is a refreshingly gloomy punk track without a resolution or happy ending – just in time for the end of summer.

TOSKA feat. Aran Glover – Polyforms

Ambitious in its scope and accomplished in its execution, 'Polyforms' is the impressive new single from Belfast three piece Toska. Comprised of three members of disbanded post-metallers Annapurna, the trio are joined by Aran Glover of English metal band We Are Knuckle Dragger on a track which more than nods to our three protagonists previous projects.

Clocking in at a daunting ten minutes, 'Polyforms' is a track which traverses post-rock atmospherics, mind-bogglingly intricate instrumental tangents, progressive metal riffs and more – something which is exactly as difficult as it sounds, and even more difficult to do well.

That 'Polyforms' manages to touch all of these bases without either overwhelming or feeling trite is testament to the obvious technical skill and songwriting nous of the trio. Glover's snarling vocals are well-judged, too – adding bite to the track's early bruising blows and breaking up its latter instrumental sections as well. Exciting, thought-provoking and very loud new music from the Belfast three piece.