Aug 202010

We first stumbled across an unsigned Oregon band called Arkhum about six weeks ago. We were intrigued by the striking cover art for a yet-to-be-released album and included the band in one of our occasional EYE-CATCHERS features (here). At that time, the only music we had available to us were rough mixes of two songs for the forthcoming album and an earlier 2009 track. But those three songs certainly grabbed our attention in  a big way.

Much has happened to Arkhum in those six weeks. Today, the band officially releases its debut album, Anno Universum, and we can now report that they have been signed by the Vendlus Records label (home to such talented bands as Agalloch and Wolves in the Throne Room), which will begin distributing the album worldwide later this fall.

Arkhum was kind enough to give us an advance copy of the eight songs on Anno Universum and we’re happy to report that our earlier instincts about the band have proven to be correct: Anno Universum is stunning — one of the best debuts we’ve heard in 2010.

We got so excited about the music that we pestered Arkhum for an interview, and brothers Stephen and Kenneth Parker patiently answered our meandering questions. In the post immediately below this one, you can read that interview, which turned out to be pretty damned interesting.

In this post, we’ll try to explain why Anno Universum has made such a strong impression on us and why we think you’ll be hearing lots more about Arkhum in the months to come.  (more after the jump, including a song from the new album . . .) Continue reading »

Aug 202010

Arkhum promo

ARKHUM (photo by Jessica Stover)

We were so excited about the just-released debut album by Oregon’s Arkhum — which we reviewed here — that after we got the chance for an advance listen, we asked if the band would subject itself to an e-mail interview.

Proving themselves to be kind-hearted as well as talented artists, guitarist Stephen Parker and his brother, vocalist and lyricist Kenneth Parker, agreed. They didn’t even try to back out after they saw our questions, which included such penetrating inquiries as what it’s like being in a band with your brother and whether they ever try to beat the hell out of each other.

In addition to getting the answer to that question, we also learned details about how Arkhum’s label-signing came about (which is breaking news all by itself), the science-fictional topics addressed in the album’s lyrics, Kenneth Parker’s recommendations about other bands, Arkhum’s future plans (including the next album), and more.

We thought the answers to our questions were interesting, and might be interesting to you, too. So, what follows after the jump is our interview of the brothers Parker from Arkhum. Continue reading »

Jul 022010

Yes, it’s time again for another installment in our irregular “Eye-Catchers” series. In case you’ve forgotten, this is both an ongoing experiment and a vehicle for discovering new music. The experiment is designed to test the completely illogical hypothesis that cool album art tends to correlate with cool music. There’s really no reason why the two should go together, but in our experience, they do go together more often than not.

Of course, our experience is completely random and anecdotal, with no statistical significance behind it at all, and undoubtedly the day will come when we’ll see a cool cover and then run for the vomitorium after we start listening to the tunes. But since we started this experiment back in April, most of our test cases have validated the hypothesis.

This experiment also provides a way for us to explore new music that we otherwise might not discover. We see eye-catching album art, and based on nothing but that, we go listen to the music.

As we explained in an earlier post, as a way of picking new music, it’s like throwing a dart at a dartboard or putting a quarter in a slot machine and pulling the handle. It makes no logical sense, except there’s so much new music from so many new bands out in the world that randomization sometimes seems as good a way as any to make choices.

Today we’ve got two test cases — two bands we had never heard before. The first one is a band from Poitiers, France, called Klone. They recently released their third full-length album, Black Days, on Season of Mist. The album cover is at the top of this post.

The second one is an unsigned band from Oregon called Arkhum, and they’re on the verge of releasing their first album, Anno Universum, in August.

How did these bands fare in our Eye-Catchers test? Read on after the jump to find out (and, for your trouble, we’ll have some music for you to hear . . .) Continue reading »