Upcdownc EP review – Yeah Buddy! DIY
What are we talking about?
The new EP by Upcdownc (formerly Up-C Down-C Left-C Right-C ABC + Start) from Kent in the United Kingdom. They sport a freshly trimmed lineup and name, with just Chris Garth, James Bridges, and Dale Forster credited. This record takes a different approach to the songwriting of Up-C yore, and is an interesting listen that appears deeper after each listen.
On the surface, this record feels like it could be one of the classic, influential albums that preceded the genre of stoner rock or sludge rock, which is not to say that it’s plain or unimaginative, but rather, that it sticks quite firmly to the tenets of the style. Upcdownc doesn’t try anything too fancy, but reliably gets the job done. This release is your Paul Scholes of modern rock music (dependable, modest, and decisive, for those who don’t follow Premier League football).
The slightly sludgy, bassy guitar tone is something that’s always been present in Upcdownc’s music, particularly in Black Sea. Here that sound really takes the foreground, causing their post-rock sensibilities take a back seat, and emerge throughout the record in refreshing ways I’ve not heard before. Take the first 2 minutes of Slobberknocker for example. A track which, on first listen, is every bit the rough and ready fist fight the title informs, but on closer inspection Slobberknocker spends more time playing with dynamics and melody, in a typical post-rock fashion, than it does Slobberknockin’.
What Hooked Me?
A post-rock stalwart trying something different and pulling it off convincingly.
The dissonant last few minutes of Black Dracula, in which there is a haunting sample, lifted from a film I don’t know, played against overdriven static that fades away to a dulcet melody. After a diet of Godspeed You! Black Emperor and post-rock growing up, I’ve got a soft spot for these types of spoken word samples.
It’s an eye, removed, on a blue background. It’s minimal, stripped-back compared with earlier covers. Mirrors a lot of what this record is about.
Line From The Band
The E.P was born out of the Horror soundtrack “Faster Than Evil” that we had previously released and was also our first recordings since becoming a 3 piece. We wanted to do something Heavy and Sludgy but also quite sinister. Mainly to prove we could be just as loud and foreboding with only 3 people. The E.P itself is to be part of a 3 part series which will then go together to make one volume of work.
Upcdownc EP review – Keep it fast
This is a very dark path indeed. I suppose that the week of summer we had back in July is all we’re going to get as we descend into the realms of autumn. What better way then to soundtrack that by listening to something that will not only make you constantly look over your shoulder in fear and head-bang like a bastard. UpCDownC are that band. After a line-up shuffle (the band have now concentrated their numbers down to a three-piece), UpCDownC is their first release as a slimmed-down machine and is an altogether different and disturbing experience to what you might expect from a band that was firmly rooted in the post-rock camp.
There’s a gut-churning sense of foreboding on the first track, Sludge Hammer. Despite the name of the track suggesting a trip to detuned-land, with waves of gurgling, frothing guitars and huge drum crescendos, it’s eerily desolate and creeping. The initial burst of sound is that of someone either re-tuning a radio, whilst someone else is operating a metal detector nearby. The glitching, fuzzed-out wave of advancing code shimmers with a warped, distorted hum that gets progressively more sharp and menacing. At the 2 minute mark a guitar cuts through this sea of glitching noise like a buzzsaw, only to be joined by a steady drum pattern as UpCDownC shift into a Karma To Burn-esque groove that fizzles with raw stoner-rock energy and this chilling underlying buzz of apprehension.
The 13 minute pulse of Black Dracula is a complex and layered hydra of a track – the opening chimes are reminiscent of Mike Oldfield – an ethereal synth wave that morphs into a steady, rolling drum beat whilst the crackling static of guitars see-saw in the background. The mood then shifts – amps crackle into life and that synth grows and grows into a spectacular burst of white-noise; the drums are all but lost save for some frantic cymbal crashes as this rising, consuming drone grows louder and louder before dissipating into an grim vocal soundbite that states: “it’s faster than time itself…it’s faster than evil.” That’s when the riffs lurch back into the room as the crushing wave of grisly, determined sludge-metal floods forth. The last 2 minutes feature more of the eerie, shimmering synths, coupled with a harrowing and desperate sample of a distressed woman being asked to accept Jesus and exorcise the demons. Bleak.
Final track Slobberknocker, begins as a surge of shrill feedback and swirling, intricate keys that is soon replaced by a solemn bass strum, before launching back into the grizzled and meaty slab of dense stoner-rock, that has an almost black metal sheen to it – a punishing, sour and ominous display of menace.
This is an intriguing EP – difficult to predict where UpCDownC are going to go – from bending their sound through a wash of harsh noise, into tight instrumental jams, into minimalist, taunt doom metal and spaced-out electronics, there’s a lot on offer and to cherish from this release.
Upcdownc EP review -Echoes and Dust
It often seems like UpCDownC have been around forever but it has never really felt like they’ve had the credit they deserve for the amazing music that they make. Over the course of the 10 years or so that I’ve been aware of them they have moved forwards and evolved with every record they release and there are very few bands you can say that about. They have morphed slowly from the early crescendo-core post rock of And The Battle Is Won to the instrumental progressive metal of 2013’s Black Sea, constantly exploring the boundaries of their medium and constantly pushing those boundaries outwards.
Now as we enter the tail end of 2015 they’ve dropped, virtually out of the blue, an eponymous EP containing three heavy as hell tracks that border on doom metal; post doom maybe? It kicks off with the aptly named ‘Sludge Hammer’ and it does EXACTLY what it says on the tin. As a opening statement of intent it really could not be clearer; “Hi, we’re UpCDownC and we’re here to blow the fucking doors off”. Clocking in at under 5 minutes it’s the shortest of the three tracks on the record but it is no less for that. It opens with a sinister bass throb is underpinned by some weird electronic scratchings for the first couple of minutes and then, just as you’re starting to relax, it is smashed to pieces by an absolutely filthy low end guitar riff. Magnificent.
A moment of respite comes in the form of the intro to ‘Black Dracula’, the nigh on quarter hour long centrepiece to the EP. For a minute we are almost tricked in to thinking they had returned to their post rock roots with some lovely guitar and synth interplay that builds and builds but then, just as most bands would break out the crescendo, the hammer comes down once more with a downtuned riff that Monolord would be proud of that pounds away at the soul until the keys return in the third ‘movement’ of this epic, joined this time by a creepy as fuck dialogue sample. I can not tell you how much I love this track, one of the best I’ve heard this year for sure.
The closer is the fantastically named ‘Slobberknocker’, which apparently is a colloquialism for a spectacular punch in boxing or wrestling but sounds like it should be a euphemism for something far more adult. Again here they marry perfectly the styles and sounds of their past with the monstrous doomish riffing that, on the basis of this record, I sincerely hope is their future. Once the tune gets going it is an absolute animal. Faster paced than either of it’s companions it is as great a closing track as ‘Sludge Hammer’ was an opener, bookending ‘Black Dracula’ perfectly.
And then it’s over. If there is a criticism of this record it is its brevity, three tracks down and I’m just getting warmed up, but hopefully it stands as a precursor as to where this band is heading next and if so I am very excited for what they might produce. As it is, it is easily one of the finest ‘post rock’ records that 2015 has offered up so far.
Upcdownc EP review – Medway Jellyfish
As stalwarts of the Medway music scene, UpCDownC have always made people sit up and pay attention. With their infectiously dirty brand of fuzzy post rock they’ve been a prominent fixture in our locale over the past 15 years and out of all of the bands that came and then went, UpCDownC are the ones that never left us. In all their previous work they have never let us down and with their new self-titled EP being released on Friday 11th September they have delivered something truly wonderful yet again.
With an illustrious history of playing hypnotic and mesmerising post rock, it seems that UpC have elected to move in a slightly different musical direction. Now a three-piece, the band are hitting harder and stronger than ever, indulging in a ferocious audial assault that has previously only been hinted at. It is UpCDownC, but maybe not as you know it.
The EP kicks off with aptly named “Sludge Hammer“, rumbling ominously through an industrial soundscape into a gorgeously fat and heavy track. If there is one thing that has always characterised UpCDownC it was their ability to create a textured and rich atmosphere in their songs, and I’m delighted to say that none this wonderful talent has waned at all over the years. It’s may be that their new surroundings at Skingasm Records has helped them edge their sound towards the sludgier side, and while other bands might not be quite so comfortable in such a position with UpCDownC it just feels right; like an old friend visiting from uni, speaking and dressing ever so slightly different but still the same old mate; and my fuck does this new look suit them. ’Sludge Hammer’ hits hard and grooves harder, living up to everything that its name promises. There’s enough fuzz here to put even the most willing giver off head for life, and my only objection is that the song is over so quickly. Truly, this is an amazing track and UpCDownC are deserving of the highest praise for such an infectious work of art.
Moody and claustrophobic, Track 2 “Black Dracula” picks up in true UpC fashion with an film score opening that is worthy of Carpenter. The first few minutes of the track are tight and intense with that trademark arpeggiated riffing, plenty of synthy guitar to force home the sense of dread. The textures, sweeping and rich, fill the senses and overwhelm the listener; reminiscent of classic horror, dense and almost Lovecraftian in places. My decidedly obvious love of Horror may cloud my judgement through bias but as the tension of first half of the song builds up to such a climax, ending aptly enough with a quote from their impending ‘Faster than Evil’ project. It is here that UpC plunge into the second half of the track, with ‘Black Dracula’ picking up the sludgy stoner groove glory of ’Sludge Hammer’. The riff pounds the track onwards, with an immense beat drawing and enveloping the listener. It is an irresistible track and I find myself lost in it completely. The breakdown around 10 minutes is sublime and rumbling, everything I want from a great post rock track and everything I could crave from a band playing doom-laden sludge. The two sounds meld together perfectly and the horror overtones are welcome to horror nerds like me. My apologies if I sound like a gushing fan-boy, but when it’s this fucking good… Well, why wouldn’t I gush?
Final track of the EP is “Slobberknocker“, opening with a refreshingly ancient sounding riff; all tremolo picks and elegantly, openly different to what has come before. ‘Slobberknocker’ is unpredictable in how it drifts dynamically through a variety of vibrant sonic soundscapes. This song is gratifyingly heavy one moment and achingly light the next, seamlessly arcing from one to the other, rinse and repeat. 4 minutes in the track morphs again into a monster of a track, the rhythm’s cutting technicality blending into the deep dense brutality with unfathomable accuracy. It’s phenomenal how tight this band is, each track a testament to the years of love and nurtured talent that UpCDownC boast. “Slobberknocker” just keeps going strong, unrelenting until the very last note; just like the band themselves.
This self-titled EP is a joy to behold, a crash course in everything that an instrumental band should hope and strive for. Yes, it’s only three tracks. But the quality of these three tracks is phenomenal (and still clocks in at over 20 mins). The horror overtones and crushingly fuzzy grooves may also not be everyone’s cup of tea. But my fuck, when it is this good that point seems redundant, everyone can get lost in the rich textures that UpC craft. Once again, Skingasm have brought something truly glorious to the table, with UpCDownC the latest addition to their excellent roster of bands. The amazing production quality emphasises and showcases UpCs immense talent without compromise and after all these years Up C are as good as ever, if not better. It‘s truly refreshing to hear a band I grew up with are still so full of fantastic ideas and so confident in their abilities. Do not miss out on these tracks, UpCDownC are phenomenal. You should listen to this fantastic EP; you’ll thank me if you do!
Black Sea Ep review – Noise Holes
Upcdownc is a post-rock/post-metal band from Medway, United Kingdom. I decided to write a couple of words about their album ‘The Black Sea EP’ which was released in September 2014 .
I have to admit, I never heard their entire discography but I fell in love with this particular album. First track – ‘The Black Sea’ – sounds really like a typical post-rock song but then you realize that it is something more. Feeling, amazing vocals and gradation until the end will make you speechless. I’m really glad they weren’t scared to use some electronic sounds. For example, I think the song ‘Brown Volvo’ is all about synthesizers and it sounds amazing.
The last two tracks, ‘Red Meat’ and ‘Drive’ are not from studio but played live at Kinky Star, Ghent and they are slightly different than the first two. I think it sounds more rock-like and song ‘Red Meat’ was the reason why I fell in love with this album. Pure raw rock without all that fancy studio stuff. I can listen to the final song ‘Drive’ over and over again and can’t get enough of it. Upcdownc is band I would definitely want to see and hear play live and I’m sure I wouldn’t be disappointed.
Translation of a Live Review from Dunk Festival, Belgium – Gonzo circus
With Upcdownc – Up-C Down-C Left-C Right-C ABC + Start’- We got a similar flavour as with And So I Watch you From Afar Yesterday : Decently charmed by the mighty ‘Firewolf” from 2009 (Black lodge!Dad rock!) but they lost us again with ‘Cavaleras’ and then we lost them out of sight, so we where very curious of what would be left from their terrific efficient mix of noiserock and sludge, Now a days they are making a mix of those heavy songs with pieces similar to Explosions in the Sky, but at their best when they rock hard. The climax of the evening was the not unexpected finishing song ‘Dad Rock’, a great song, completed with a postrockapetheosis and a tribial finale. A superb and decent show with a banging finale.
Live Review from Dunk Festival, Belgium – Postrocker.nl
These guys from the UK have a lot EP’s with a diverse catalog of tracks. True Postrock, heavy indie rock with some metal roots, but their show was surprisingly stable with some great tracks like “Drive” and “Dad Rock”. These cool guys put up a great show and it seems they really digged Dunk. I was lost in time and when the show was over, it felt too quick for me. I would have loved to listen to these guys some more. What a surprise and best show of Dunk until now. Check out “Drive” below. 9/10
Black Sea review – Inforty
The fifth album from perennial should-be-massive-ites Upcdownc, Black Sea opens with the massive, brooding instrumental ‘Twilight’, before throaty shouts and monolithic post-metal riffs welcome us to ‘Titan’, which hits as hard as any Isis track. It’s a blitzkrieg of an opening ten minutes, and indicative of a record whose huge ambitions are matched by the huge sound. Chiefly instrumental, the listener is given respite from the crushingly bleak atmospheres by gentler post-rock sections and some clean singing – and, most of all, an offbeat inventiveness that runs throughout. A big, bastardly joy.
Black Sea review – A Closer listen
Over the course of the past decade, UpCDownC have gotten together, broken up, realigned, gone digital and experimented with a longer name, but in all this time, they’ve never stopped rocking. Black Sea is the proof. With a host of classics already in their rear-view mirror (namely And the Battle Is Won and Embers), one might expect the band to rest on its laurels, but here we are in 2014, and the riffs are just as strong, if not stronger.
Black Sea even includes a “classic” post-rock single that seems simultaneously nostalgic and new; “End of Every Film” was first featured as the lead track of an EP, and thankfully finds its way onto the album proper. Tender and short (2:26), the piece ends with a light coating of violins. While listening, one can imagine the couple embracing, the villains defeated, the spaceship leaving, the credits rolling, the viewers dabbing their eyes. UpCDownC has typically drawn attention for its louder moments, so this sweet turn is a treat.
Not that the band has gone AOR. The Black Sea also includes builds and crescendos galore, from the extended opener “Twilight Sleep” (build, build, build) to the presence of four tracks in the 7-minute range (you know what might be happening there!). Highlights include the melodic “Drive”, which alternates between both poles before changing tempo late, foaming and churning to a satisfying conclusion, and the metal-tinged “Z-More”, whose electronic breakdown provides the album’s most contemporary moment. Four vocal tracks pose an unusual question, which is whether to bury the lyrics in the mix or allow them to move forward: a question the band will need to address on their next work. Another question involves the integration of electronics, which has worked well for former touring partners 65dos. Our recommendation is to increase the contrast, but to avoid becoming all things to all people; too many directions, and a band can lose its signature sound.
Longevity is a rare thing for a 21st century band, illustrated by the fact that ten years is already impressive. Personal factors, distribution hiccups, touring issues and the changing nature of the industry all provide roadblocks. UpCDownC has weathered the storm so far, and we hope that the band will continue to push its boundaries for years to come. (Richard Allen)
Black Sea review – Whisperinandhollerin
The promo blurb sets expectations high when it heralds the arrival of ‘Black Sea’, which finds upcdownc ‘conjuring up imagery of ship wrecks and sea storms, tranquil soundscapes to titan-sized juggernaut riffs’. What’s more surprising is that it still does little to prepare the listener for the enormously ambitious, and ambitious enormity of the album’s contents. ‘Black Sea’ is no mere brooding post rock album with a few riffs thrown in: oh, no, it’s much more. From deep rumbling atmospherics to meandering post-rock via squalling progressive metal, ‘Black Sea’ really does touch – and then kick and punch at – a vast array of genres.
The shouty vocal section of ‘Titan’ bears a passing resemblance to Future of the Left before it screams off on an epic rock riff workout. And that’s only the first track. This largely instrumental album that explores a host of styles and directions without loss of coherence. At times reminiscent of I Like Trains circa ‘He Who Saw the Deep’, at others more likely to evoke Queens of the Stone Age, upcdownc demonstrate a knack for both rock and post rock compositions of a rare quality. Opener ‘Titan’ moves effortlessly from a soaring post-rocker to a full-on rock epic; contrastingly, the short instrumental ‘End of Every Film’ is a delicate piece that meanders softly, chiming guitars and soft sweeping strings hanging in clouds of reverb to forge an atmosphere of calm.
‘Drive’ does just that, coming on like ZZ Top with a chunky, chugging riff powering through the Arizona desert. The title track sounds like a post-rock Simon & Garfunkel, melodic vocals in a (black) sea of reverb amidst a maelstrom of guitars that ebb and flow over the course of eight and a half minutes. The swirling atmospherics of psychedelic-hued ‘Z-more’ paves the way for the dual salvoes of ‘La Dolce Vita’ (not a cover of Ryan Paris’ 1983 synth pop smash, but a brooding, instrumental piece which finds a lonely piano stroll through bleak terrain) and the epic, expansive ‘Hunter Gatherer’.
In touching on so many different musical elements, ‘Black Sea’ demonstrates upcdownc’s capacity to touch so many different parts of the lister’s psyche. The album’s musical scope and ambition is matched by the depth and emotional range of the songs, and the end result is mighty impressive.
Black Sea review – Joyzine
Instrumental rock experimentalists UpcDownc unleashed their fifth studio album Black Sea earlier this week – an ominous, brooding behemoth of a record, whose dynamic twists and turns demand repeated listening.
The Medway four-piece, formed in 2003 (as all the best things were) describe themselves as ‘Lovers of noise, distortion, anger, quiet and sleep,’ and barring perhaps the latter, you’ll find plenty of each on the new album, out now on Field Records
Black Sea review – GIGgle pics
Reviewer on behalf of GIGgle Pics
While this reviewer’s opinions on the usefulness of genres should be reasonably well known by now I have to say from the outset here that I’m struggling to find a good label for this. That’s not to say it necessarily transcends genres but there are a good few influences here, ranging from hardcore styled vocals, clean sections that bring to mind Steven Wilson’s recent album “The Raven That Refused To Sing”, guitar sections that remind me of Nice Wings Icarus and others that bring to mind Baroness and early Kyuss, the atmospheric elements of post-rock… the list could probably go on. I guess if I had to label this album it would be post-metal but they don’t really sound like Isis so that is a little misleading as well.
So with that said, Upcdownc are a four-piece hailing from Medway in Kent and this album is ambitious if a little flawed. Bringing in elements of post-metal with their particular brand of instrumental tomfoolery to create a work drenched in atmosphere. From the outset it’s clear here that the emphasis lies with the overall feel of each track, and the album, rather than any member shining with flashy playing or anything of the sort. That, then, is really where the album shines as the distorted riffing mixes adeptly with delay-laden clean passages , each track has a definite feeling to it, particularly evident on the all-too-short “Vast Machine” where the title could not be more fitting. The synth sounds on that track in particular are very angular and distorted, adding up to the sensation that you could almost be listening to the sounds of high industry; giant rusty cogs grinding and driving some massive edifice.
Of course, no work is without it’s flaws and in this case I think it might be some of the odd mixing choices that are particularly evident while listening on earphones. Generally the guitar parts that could probably be called rhythm are mixed hard to the right and what is probably lead guitar is mixed hard to the left. Generally this isn’t too bad but there are some sections of the album where the fact that riffing is only in one ear leaves the mix feeling very oddly unbalanced. On a good sound system with real speakers in a room the effect is pretty much lost but, as I said, on headphones as I am listening right now the effect is not always good. Either a different panning choice or more dynamic panning that changes as the songs progress would be a better choice.
Over all though, this is a very good album; ambitious, polished, atmospheric and slightly flawed. More than that the work seems to be not a collection of songs but a cohesive whole. Recommending a single track to listen to would be to do this a disservice but if I were to be pressed I would suggest early track “Titan”, it has many of the elements that I believe make this worth listening to; atmospheric clean sections, delay-soaked guitars over interesting riffing, impassioned vocals.
I would, however, urge you to listen to the full album in one sitting, it deserves the attention.
Heartily recommended listening and a band who should definitely be watched carefully.
Black Sea review – Nine Hertz
Upcdownc have the weight of years behind them. Witnessing their set at this year’s ArcTanGent festival was one of my highlights so to hear their latest album reflects their live intensity is a nice reminder.
I’m not in a nice sun-hazed field near Bristol now though, rather peering through the darkness of a December evening. I can barely remember what the sun looks like.
Black Sea is an excellent introduction to what has been in the past, as far as I can tell, an instrumental band. With the addition of some pretty fervent screamed vocals it’s given them a more urgent and immediate feel.
Witness Titan for example, which throws itself immediately down the stairs, before entering a quiet, reflective passage and then evokes the post-metal majesty of Pelican et al. What you clearly realise very quickly is that Upcdownc are still a schizophrenic, twisting and turning beast of a band. Multi-layered and with a clear heads-down adherence to dynamics too, they even throw in glitch-ridden electronics to get their messy point across. But here’s the rub, it’s all very accurate too. In the same way that everyone wonders what powers the likes of Bez from the Happy Mondays or Shane McGowan from The Pogues, it just works despite being clearly screwloose.
Atmospheric sections that give away to the always-there chaos seem to be a recurring theme but you’ll never hear the same part twice. Upcdownc have also been able here to explore their self indulgence, the percussion and clean vocals on Red Meat clash perfectly with the Explosions In The Sky worship of End of Every Film.
Compounding their multi-genre assault is the Blanck Mass-like electronic sheen of Vast Machine which burbles away before a metallic intro signals Drive and it’s confident stomp. This actually then becomes a motorik, Neu!-esque journey into space, there’s some prog fans in this band for sure and if they ever hear the band Nisennenmondai they might just release a whole album of one, single flapping note and expect us all to lay down and give up.
The title track is like being hit by a large wave in slow motion. Simply massive.
This is followed by the slowburn of Z-more which sounds like robots breaking up icicles and then like someone trying to break through your door with a headless axe, planting the wood against wood until they collapse from sheer effort.
We’re not even done mate, as the shorter, but no less beautiful La Dolce Vita plays its way delicately across the landscape like a bird at dawn, heralding the closing effort Hunter Gatherer.
This is the jewel in Black Sea’s crown, combining the achingly warm clean vocals with sections of sheer post rock cerebral battering to create a rich tapestry.
This is nearly an hour of the band’s finest work to date, worth sectioning off a portion of time to fully absorb, this will probably make our top albums of the year lists.
Nine Hertz – ArcTanGent Live Review
UPCDOWNC meanwhile are contorting themselves sweaty on the Yokai stage, ripping the audience in half with their loud, electronics via guitar workouts. Riffs move logically but that’s no bad thing as the payoffs are massive, love it. The incredible drum tattoo from three of the band is also mesmerising, more group drumming in post rock I say.
Black Sea review – The Whiteboard Project
Upcdownc gives us Black Sea this week. Opener ‘Twilight Sleep’ bubbles with subterranean beeps, scrambled vocal samples and elongated notes of electric guitar before pounding drums enter the mix to up the ante. Follow up track ‘Titan’ develops this focus on heavy percussion and guitars to grind along with full-throated rough vocals. ‘Red Meat’ has a sparse rhythm with halting pauses that create a deep sense of menace. It uses clean, melodic singing with impassioned interjections of backing to create an impressive rock sound. ‘Vast Machine’ is just over a minute of feedback and fuzz, whilst ‘The Black Sea’ moves from gentle arpeggios of guitar and tom toms through stripped back layers of voices to full on metal grind and back to chiming guitar strings across its eight and a half minutes. Black Sea brings together elements of metal and prog to create a distinctive, rich collection.
Black Sea review – Wow Magazine
If you’ve ever been unfortunate enough to get stuck in a conversation with me about local music, I’ve probably banged on a lot about a band called UpCDownC. On balance, they’re one of my favourite band’s full-stop, made all the better by the fact that they live just around the corner and can often be seen treading the boards in a local drinking establishment.
However, as great as this is for me, I do find it bemusing that they aren’t headlining Europe-wide tours at 2,000+ capacity venues. They released their 5th album ‘Black Sea’ in October this year and a rather lovely vinyl version is released on 2nd December. ‘Black Sea’ is an impeccably crafted post-rock epic that impresses with its scale. Chiming guitar arpeggios and atmospheric melody, thundering bass lines and massive guitar riffs, ‘Black Sea’ is endlessly explorable and I can’t recommend it enough. Buy it for your nearest and dearest here http://fieldrecords.bandcamp.com/album/black-sea.
Black Sea review – Visions Magazine
What exactly are they actually doing? After over a decade as a band, Upcdownc throw themselves into a dirty sea battle somewhere between Post-Rock, Post-Hardcore and Alternative Rock.
Elements of fighting could always be found in their works; their debut album was released in 2005 and was called And The Battle Is Won, and the band was still called Up-C Left-C Right-C ABC+Start. Back then, when you still had to more or less search for Post-Rock bands, these Brits were clearly one of them. Even when they shortened their band name and were reduced to a quartet in with the release of their third album Firewolf. In the last year, Upcdownc released three EPs; in 2013, at the beginning of their fifth album Black Sea, they leave us in the dark for the entire five minutes of the opener Twilight, an atmospheric noisy intro with stomping drums. What follows is not Post-Rock, but a battle of genres of Rock: Distorted Post-Hardcore screaming in Titan, changing with stately and sung passages; apathetic singing (“The sky is on fire / Let’s watch him burn.”) in the Heavy-Riff-Rock-Ballad Red Meat, and melancholy beautiful and typically reverberant Post-Rock guitars at the beginning of End Of Every Film and La Dolcé Vita. About halfway through the album, the 80 seconds long interlude Vast Machine is noisily and threateningly wafting around, after that the title track is towering up into a roaring wave for two and a half minutes and opens up into a groovy Instrumental-Rock song. The thing all songs have in common ¬- at a certain time even the ones with a beautiful beginning – is their dirty, distorted sound. Upcdownc are a Rock band – and wherever they might navigate they will keep control.
Gent blog Live review – Kinky Star, Ghent, Belgium
Lovers of postrock last weekend were already well served in Music Kinky Star. On the bill Saturday: British band Upcdownc. The four members have already been running together for a good ten years and have been particularly active. Witness the discography: five full albums, more than twice as many EPs, singles and other digital releases. And in the meantime touring the shit out of it. On the Vlasmarkt the foursome from Kent, Saturday closed their European tour with a flawless set.
Their 5th album “Black Sea” available on CD, download and LP (vinyl) for the amateurs/collectors, will only be issued next week by Field Records. A bit of a bad timing in promotional terms, but that was not in the way. Razor-sharp concert
Upcdownc live, are a lot harder than expected. However, no room for vague noise or random put down guitar walls.
Violins, cellos, special effects and other samples – a fixture through the catalog – were all omitted altogether. Only measured guitar work supported by mighty drums. This approach proved to work well.
As if the band members were aware of the unfortunate timing, Black Sea was not dominating the playlist completely. For the title track Black Sea (free download via Bandcamp.com) there was no place. Do not worry though, because with such an extensive repertoire dominated probably more an embarrassment of riches as something else. A one hour Grab from their own back catalog, New Year from the debut, 8 years old but remarkably fresh sounding, the ultrashort Agent Cooper and the solid Dad Rock.
The new numbers showed again a band that is clearly looking to push the boundaries of the genre. There is more room for vocals and less classic post-rock, rave guitar haggling included. Red Meat sounds like it was recorded during the Desert Sessions with Josh Homme (QOTSA) in the lineup. You do not hear us complaining.
The show ended with a long drawn out and thunderous version of Cascades. A swirling finale – towards the end accompanied by three drums and a lot of sweat. An encore was unnecessary and was not there. Class!
Setlist: Twilight Sleep – Sons – New Year – Drive – Red Meat – Hunter Gottener – Agent Cooper – Rock Dad – Cascades.
Upcdownc is: Gary Dimes – Guitar, Chris Garth – Guitar / Vocals, Jim Bridges E – Bass, Dale Forster – Drums
Upcdownc (UK), live music at Kinky Star, Saturday, October 19, 2013
Black Sea – Ride with the Devil review
Tonight I had the chance to check out London’s Black Sea and their recent effort (upcdownc). From moment one on the track “Twilight Sleep” I am taken back with the wall ambient drone and marching drums that create some nice imagery of the ocean waves hitting the side of a ship in a storm at sea… I’d assume its a Black Sea as well. Moving on to “End Of Every Film” a track that is both beautiful & penitent in feel and mood. 3 tracks in and we meet the roaring track “Drive” which enters with a nice thick sludge riff heading toward some well placed layers of echo and texture which through out the record holds true. its 4 tracks in before the vocals come to life and their pulsing hark is a pleasant addition to the walls of ambience that leads to brilliant placement of bit crushed drums. Did I mention texture? This band is spot on when it comes to creating a genuine feeling and tone to their songs. A fantastic showing in contrasts & song structure. The exiting track “Hunter/Gatherer” puts the guitars in the forefront driving you to a quiet and graceful midsection that is trance inducing in the best way possible. I must say I am impressed with this effort from these Londoners.
Black Sea – Echoes and Dust review
Today I feel like if the world has decided to celebrate my birthday early. My gift is called Black Sea and comes from Up C Down C, one of the bands I love most. And I love also their weird name. You know that there’s music and music, musicians and musicians and records and records. Well, this record is one of the best music experiences you can have. The album title is quite interesting and definitely in line with the band’s music tradition – post rock lovers will remember, for example, their previous album titled Calaveras, name that is associated to the Mexican Day Of The Dead! . Black Sea is the follow up to Calaveras, and are both released by Field Records.
For those of you that till now had no occasion to get to know them, Up C Down C are a four-piece band from Kent, UK, formed in 2000. Their live performances are really famous and in they have played very extensively throughout Kent, London and the UK supporting huge bands like 65Daysofstatic, Oneida, Kinski and The Drones but also headlining and setting up their own shows and tours. I do invite you to their next tours and please manage to go. Your trip will be more than rewarded.
As post rock is my religion the new album of Up C Down C is going to be one of the milestones of my beliefs.
I’ve listened to this album again and again before starting with this review. Someone could think that I had no idea about what to write but the truth is exactly the opposite: I like this record so much that I really didn’t know where to start. So, I decided to introduce you into the world of Black Sea starting from ‘Drive’, the song that stands more or less in the middle of the album. The reason is because I’m simply in love with it. ‘Drive’ is for me the celebration and the elation of the post rock music genre; with its strong outbursts and tones that constantly change it generates its own voice and depth. The first thing I thought when I listened to it was that this song has everything inside including electronic playfulness and provokes an explosions of sensations. I could comment each moment of this work of art: have you noticed the guitar riff at approximately the minute 3:08? And what about the change in the rhythm at about the minute 2:37? This song is a paradise.
Going back to beginning, Black Sea is composed of 10 miracles of the music world and even if this journey only lasts a bit more than one hour, the experience you’ll have won’t leave you and it will be the soundtrack of your day. The opening ‘Twilight Sleep’ sounds like the perfect sound for a dark and gloomy science movie with its sinister undertones.
‘Titan’ starts so powerfully that you cannot understand where you are and after that a gentle decline in soft notes always guided by amazing guitar riffs. Awesome song that will please mainly post metal lovers.
The dark start of the following ‘Red Meat’ is impressive and full of tension – what do you expect from a song with a title like this? After a bunch of seconds amazing vocal will lead you in this great track full of tons of guitars, bass, drums and great build-ups.
Black Sea becomes more post rocky with ‘End Of Every Film’ that is an instrumental track and, despite the fact that the title could suggest something sad, I found it a joyful track and pretty close to Explosions In The Sky’s sound. Lovely track! Move on from this dose of sweet melody and get into the shortest track of the album. ‘Vast Machine’ with its less than two minute sound will blow your mind and works like an interlude to the great track ‘Drive’.
‘The Black Sea’ track – like the album title – represents one the peaks of this great album and maybe my favourite from it. The vocals create surprisingly melodic and epic atmospheres and are like an additional instrument and the combination is absolutely perfect.
The last twenty minutes of the album are absolutely amazing. Starting from ‘Z-more’ – I should like to ask about the idea behind this title – the experience is great: drum and guitar riffs create an heartbreaking vertigo. The following ‘La Dolce Vita’ – being Italian and living in the city where the concept “dolce vita” was inspired, I’m pretty curios about this idea and I’m sure that Fellini would appreciate it a lot. It’s a pretty melodic and really nice song.
Then the stunning ‘Hunter Gatherer’ has the honour of closing this great album. It seems that this song collect all the elements of Black Sea: the vocals, the powerful drumming, the amazing guitar riffs, the melody, the pause in the middle of the song that comes back with a new original sound almost reinventing itself and mind blowing explosion of all these instruments together.
It’s a moment of celebration: Up C Down C are back and there’s no better way to celebrate!
Calaveras review -Drop-d
“…Upcdownc transition seamlessly from massive post-rock crescendos to heavy riffs…”
Sky Net opens Calaveras. It’s a short electronic intro that gives you time to prepare for what’s about to follow. Upcdownc transition seamlessly from massive post-rock crescendos to heavy riffs. Despite their predominantly instrumental disposition, they sometimes add a vocal line here or there. To good effect too. On (The Plains) Skeletal the introduce a clean and hypnotic vocal line. Then a minute later the vocal line is a lot screamed and is darker and more sinister. Then it bursts into a solo. Changes like that are common on Calaveras and yet they never seem out of place. Each song’s progression from start to finish feels natural rather than being forced and predictable (which is something you find a lot in any “post-” genres).
Sons of the Desert and Wall of Wolves display the heavier side of Upcdownc’s sound. The crescendos here crush rather than uplift. The latter contains another harsh vocal line and shifts gears from acoustic sections to massive guitars. The former, on the other hand, has a vocal line in the background that croons with “ooh”’s and “ah”’s.
Roman Horses a short dreamy acoustic song that follows Sons of the Desert and Wall of Wolves. It’s a welcome break after the unrelenting force of those previous two songs. It also brings us nicely into Monumental Mood Shift. It builds and builds until these huge sounds are cascading over you. It’s majestic.
Christmas ’86 is probably the most stereotypical post-rock song on the album but it’s a very well executed one. As each instrument is introduced it begins to weave in and out between the others. It reaches a beautiful peak and then winds down slowly.
Both Spectral Fires and Sky Net (Reprise) feel a bit like filler. Spectral Fires is a slow paced electronic track that has a dirty white noise beat. Sky Net (Reprise) opens sounding like a 8-bit soundwave and a internet connection dialing-up. The becomes an nice catchy ending to what is a fantastic listen.
Calaveras is a fine release from Upcdownc. There’s more than enough instrumental skill and mood shifts to keep listeners hooked throughout.
Drop-d Rating: 8.5/10
Tags: Calaveras, UpCDownC
Christmas 86 EP review – Ech(((o)))es & dust
Just as ‘Calaveras’ release from last year was my early Christmas present, so happy I was to hear I get to get another one from the same band this year! ‘Christmas 86’ (nomen omen) is a 5 track EP from Upcdownc, released not even half a year after their recent full album. The technical, boring details are: 5 tracks, 3 of them brand new, one live and the title track being an old friend from ‘Calaveras’.
The thing is, I would really love to find out what and whereabouts in the world happened during the title Christmas in 1986! I have to say that during reviewing ‘Calaveras‘ and cracking the Mexican death skull under-theme, that particular song, with this particular title, just didn’t really follow the whole thing. I guess the EP is the answer. And even though the band’s sound is still as distinctive, there’s something different about this release’s tone.
Call me crazy, but with this title in mind, I can really hear nostalgia. The guitar melodies just take me back a few years, creating an imaginary memory of some really good family times (imaginary is the key word here). Opening title track introduces the spacious, melancholic, high pitched melodies that start to paint the post-rock picture of the good old 80s. Apart from the band’s signature unique electronic guitar sound, we’ve got some cymbals and some bells… ‘Scott Jason Smith’ (sounds like a tribute to a fellow Kent born comic artist, also a child of the 80’s) follows the theme. ‘The Gun’, a teeny piece of music (a whole 00:21) is an intermission, reminding us of the soundtracks to spaghetti westerns. The jingling bells in ‘Omni Rock’ add this unbeatable 80’s kitsch factor, but they are placed and blended in so precisely that it simply makes perfect sense. ‘Dad Rock (live)’ obviously sounds a bit rough compared to the recorded and produced rest of the EP, but then again – we have a Dad joining the scene and the Christmas family picture is complete.
‘Christmas 86’ is then a yet another really well thought of release. Upcdownc’s sound is already known for it’s freshness thanks to how they use their guitars. This time around we’ve got some rather unique instrumental additions that help to paint the 80s nostalgic, winter musical landscape. After all you don’t get jingle bells in post rock every day do you?
Christmas 86 EP review – Nine Hertz
UpCDownC have been ploughing their own individual furrow since 2000, and with their fourth album ‘Calavera’ last year, this is a brief, but fantastic follow-up EP.
Reviews of post rock music or music that is simply instrumental often refer to epic crescendos, a sense of building emotion and the like and I’d love to make this one different, but UpCDownC play a Mogwai and This Will Destroy You-like sound so well, that’s exactly what occurs.
What I will say though is they do a lot more than the average instrumental and thoughtful band can normally be bothered to do. There’s sections of percussion taking over and the individual players are combining their efforts, rather than plodding along together with the same riff. The effect is a shimmering water ripple effect that brings to mind a passing shower, pleasant and reinvigorating.
They can turn it unpleasant too, the end of ‘Scott Jason Snith’ cranks up the distortion and unusual time signatures to create an off-kilter section that grabs your attention.
A special mention must also go to the 21-second track ‘the Gun’ which sounds like a burst of Ennio Morricone before the slow-burning and Boards Of Canada-esque ‘Omni rock’ kicks in.
It all ends with a live track to, the excellently-named ‘Dad Rock’ which is a bit more straight-ahead and angrily resonant. the stuttering staccato riffage on display here is probably more interesting than the calm of the EP, but the whole works together.
Another excellent release from Field Records, can’t wait to hear what they send us next.
Christmas 86 EP review – Music News
UpCdownC is a four-piece band that call Kent home. They’ve been making instrumental music together since 2000. The oddly named Christmas 86 is a follow up to Cavaleras, the quartet’s prior full-length. This new EP is named after a song of the same name, which clocks in at a long 8:49.
Sure, eight minutes is a long time for a song. And while it is the longest track on this five-song EP, UpCdownC is a group that seems to love extended instrumentals. “Dad Rock,” which was recorded live, lasts over seven minutes, while “Omni Rock” pushes the envelope to just over eight minutes. All of which makes one wonder whatever happened during “The Gun,” a kind of abbreviated spaghetti western snippet that takes a mere 21 seconds to complete. What, did the group just get bored with it?
There is a bit of the jam band mentality running through the collective UpCdownC mind, it’s true. However, something like “Omni Rock” includes repeated rhythmic/melodic guitar figures that sound a little like some of the classical pieces Philip Glass is famous for.
The fun thing about UpCdownC is that these musicians do not play typical rock & roll. You won’t hear many blues grooves or classic rock riffs. Only “Dad Rock” sounds like it might fit onto a typical rock radio playlist. Instead of doing what’s expected of them, they treat electric guitars as though they’ve never heard them played before. Therefore, the music comes off fresh. These instrumentals sometimes create the same sort of moods that classical music can. Instead of spelling things out, UpCdownC create music that causes the listener to use his or her imagination. Sadly, there is very little music like that in the world today. The best thing about Christmas morning is finding an unexpected gift under the tree. Christmas 86 is just such an unexpected treat.
Calaveras review – Lords of Metal
It happens rarely that I receive a post-rock record, so I was positively surprised when I got this disc in. With this disc, the quartet from Kent, England release their seventh record so far. I am a big fan of post-rock, but what is it exactly? The post-term might be the most vague way to describe a genre. Is it what came after rock? But what is it now then?
Ah well. Just for the sake of ease; for me this is the genre where giants like Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Gregor Samsa and others succeed in releasing a (usually) instrumental, grotesque wall of sound and varying this habitually with ambient-ish passages. Just as UpCDownC does. ‘Calaveras’, the title of this album, is a reference to the Mexican ‘Día De Muertos’, or the day of the dead, which is something that always fascinated me. I expected a darker tinted album, where the theme would have been customarily used but sadly this is not the case. It would have been wonderful! Luckily, these gentlemen succeed in lifting themselves above the gigantic pile or mediocre bands in this genre, which is quite impressive. Acoustic guitar is being combined with banjo and electric guitar tremolo work, electronic passages and the whole is a travel through sadness, joy, life, death and everything around it. A very impressive album and I will definitely listen to it more often.
Sir Blastalot speaks: 75/100
Calaveras review – Silent Ballet
The evolution of a band is a funny thing. Assuming that a group even sticks around long enough to have a career arc in the first place, and excluding trend-hoppers, it usually follows one of two well-trodden paths: do the same thing over and over until the band burns out, or slowly change from A into B. Then there’s Upcdownc, who doesn’t seem to give a damn about consistency or gradual change. I imagine many readers can remember Embers, and how it blew us away, how it seemed to signal at the time a rising star in the world of post-rock. Then we got Firewolf, which, while good, left us scratching our heads at the dramatic stylistic shift. Now there’s this, Calaveras. Long and short, those who didn’t like Firewolf probably won’t like this, but there’s no denying that there’s been a pretty tremendous growth in the the quality of that sound.
Unlike the band’s first two albums, which were clearly post-rock, Upcdownc’s Firewolf attempted to shift the focus to heaviness, or grit, or some other similar concept, and in the process most of what had made its predecessors successful records was sacked. Track lengths were trimmed, and the tracks themselves didn’t seem to be as fully fleshed out as they previously had been. New sonic elements – vocals, especially screamed, and extra heaviness – were off-putting to some of the post-rock faithful, and they won’t be coming back for this one either. Most of the other weaknesses that hampered Firewolf have been straightened out, though. Calaveras is still a heavy record with compact songs that shares little with ‘post-rock’ as we know it, but the songwriting is much improved. Opener ‘Sky Net’ is fairly disposable as a stand-alone track, but it functions well as a fully-composed opener: it sets the tone of the album and flows into the first proper track, ‘Sons of the Desert’. And here, a line break is necessary.
‘Sons of the Desert’ and ‘Wolves in the Walls’ will rock your face off.
The guitar sound makes it clear that, while indebted to metal in some form, neither of these tracks (nor the rest of the album, in fact) are interested in reproducing or participating in that scene. The first sounds like an alt-rock-tinged Mogwai piece at points before veering hard into Pelican-style twin-guitar riffing, yet neither reference really does justice to the way Upcdownc has distinguished itself in this case. These riffs are definitely imports from the world of hard rock, and the band’s use of effects – the importance of basic sound – helps them remake the riff in their own idiom. Like wise, ‘Wolves’ is straight metallic hardcore out of the gate before a really tasteful and excellent sounding acoustic transition shifts the mood. In fact, most of the band’s best moments seem to fall in this vein, and the easiest referent, awkward though it is, is the alternative rock scene of the early 1990’s, particularly grunge. There is sort of a refracted line of decent from Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Green River, and Melvins in a fair bit of the record, which could easily come off as nostalgic once it is recognized, but it instead seems to anchor the band and provides a base from which to launch Upcdownc’s various experiments.
On the other hand, there is a clear resurgence of the more obvious post-rock style on tracks like ‘Monumental Mood Shift,’ ‘Christmas 86,’ and ‘(the plains) skeletal.’ Here, the guitars take on that hyper-clean, reverberating sound that groups like The Workhouse treat as gospel. The first of these tracks is virtually indistinguishable from the output of Maybeshewill – arguably this is Calaveras’ weakest moment. The other two tracks on that list are more distinct, but still less immediate or gritty. Even here, though, the band seems intent on reminding the listener this is not the same Upcdownc, so ‘Christmas 86’ nods vaguely at alt rock again and ‘skeletal’ doesn’t wait for the halfway point before kicking it into balls-out rock. Clean vocals grow into a scream, clean guitars become increasingly distorted, and cymbals get smashed with greater frequency as the latter track wears on.
The outlying tracks, ‘Roman Horses’ and closer ‘Sky Net (reprise)’ will probably be polarizing for their aesthetics, but both are well conceived, composed, and constructed, so a little forgiveness for their eccentricities isn’t unreasonable. The biggest takeaway from Calaveras is that Upcdownc is a very different band from what it was in 2008, and the records from that era a probably not a reasonable reference point either for comparison or for future expectations, and frankly, that’s okay. Calaveras – which means ‘skull’ in Spanish and refers to the Mexican Day of the Dead – is not as mesmerizing as Embers, but it is a thoroughly engaging record that improves on the blueprint of Firewolf and shows that Upcdownc is both anxious and able to adapt as creative circumstances demand. I for one will be happy to stick around for whatever that means in the future.
Live Review – Chameleon, Nottingham – Notts about Rock
With the clock almost striking midnight, Kent’s upcdownc (formerly upcdowncleftrightcabc+start, Google it if you don’t get the reference) close the night out for us. Since their last show at the Chameleon, the band have released another full length album, Calaveras, and so it is a good opportunity to see some new material from a band who have now been playing shows for several years. This fact shines through in the performance, which is confident, professional and emotional. The band has experimented with many different styles across their 4 albums, so in the space of a 40 minute set we were treated to gentle, ambient introductions, melodic keyboard parts, droning guitars and intense drumming, which concluded with an almost apocalyptic wall of noise and all 4 members of the band breaking drumsticks left, right and centre, in a scene more akin to a military tattoo than a rock gig. The set once again leaves those in attendance with very little doubt upcdownc are one of the premier bands in the UK Post-Rock scene, and quite simply you should go and see them whenever you can. The comment I heard from someone as they were leaving the show was ‘that has just rewritten the rulebook for how I rate gigs’. I think that says it all.
Calaveras review – Rocksound
‘We’ve long been championing UpCDownC here at Rock Sound Towers, and with good reason. Bolstering their eclectic post-rock with heavy riffs, the Kent four-piece have always been unafraid to kick down the barricades and push the boundaries. So when the dreamy Fleet Foxes-esque ‘Roman Horses’ plugs straight into the metronomic electro-pulse of ‘Sky Net’, it’s no great surprise. When they touch base with sorely-missed UK riff-monsters Capricorns in one song, then go all MÃºm with xylophones and crackle ‘n’ crunch electronics the next, it’s no great surprise. When UpCDownC put out another great album it’s no great surprise.’ 8/10
Calaveras review – Bearded magazine
Mixing elements of both post and stoner rock, UpCDownC (or to give them their full title upcdowncleftcrightcabc+start) return with their 4th album ‘Calaveras’. The previous four being well received by critics and fans a like, it would be damn shame if the latest offering from this 4 piece (previously 5) from Kent be anything less.
Thankfully being minus one in number has not adversely effected another strong effort. Both live drums and loops drive compliment the song structures well, and whilst the producton treads the boundary between under-produced and raw, thinly at times, it is refreshingly honest. The swirling synths & arpeggio guitar bring to mind a piece of apocalyptic science fiction written in the past but set in the future. A moron might call it post-futurism – and gritty post-futurism at that. Like that zone in the crystal maze. If you’re into that sort of thing.
And they will not sit still with an idea. As quick as one down tempo prog chord pattern settles, it’s replaced with a pounding simplistic riff. Because any one section rarely repeats itself, it can be tough to really latch onto a song, particularly during a casual listen. Equally however, it’s impossible to get bored when nothing average outstays it’s welcome, and anything good leaves you wanting more.
‘Wolves In The Walls’ is a prime example. Initially underwhelming, it undergoes a metamorphosis and becomes an aggressive powerhouse and probably the standout on the record. It’s a bit like standing in a corridor between Explosions In The Sky and Kyuss shows.
At first, it’s easy to wonder whether they are a bit confused, or overcomplicating things, but after a few tracks it becomes apparent that they know exactly what they’re doing and what’s more, UpCDownC are pretty damn good at it.
Calaveras review – Incendiary mag
A fine record made by a fine and long standing band, and this release is maybe the favourite of all the things I’ve heard of theirs. It’s a record of remarkable breadth, they have a magnificent track called (and sounding like a) Monumental Mood Shift and this could be the key phrase for this LP.
Starting off with the pulverising and relentless Sky (the drumming sounds like an operating an industrial pressing machine) and followed up by a sloth rock of Sons of the Desert – a mix of gargantuan gestures and growling, post metal chord shapes with reflective passages that get almost pastoral – the record only really starts to get unhinged and loose with the marvellous Wolves in the Walls, which starts of like a true hell raiser, driven by a mix of and some throat shredding screams. Suddenly we’re off to Led Zep III territory and I’m expecting someone to get a lute out. Luckily we get a battery of metal laying waste to any hippy dippy stuff. It’s obvious, overblown and very much the sort of revenge soundtrack for a bedridden gaming addict. And despite being momentarily packed off to a more subdued landscape, we are sent scurrying yet again as the record builds to a climax. The pastoral side gets an airing almost immediately in the raggle-taggle gipsy stylings of Roman Horses which comes straight out of the English Pastoral tradition, though there is a metal buzz that invades before the end. We love it.
Elsewhere a monumental noise and beauty is captured (almost to perfection) by Monumental Mood Shift and quiet reflections are beautifully played out with Spectral Fires and Sky Net. Christmas 86 is some track too, beginning in the same tremulous manner as British Sea Power’s True Adventures and becoming a wistful, dreamy essay that just keeps on going. Following that (The Plains) Skeletal is a dry and increasingly powerful work out that hits a high point midway through with a tremendous wall of guitar. Sky Net brings everyone down to Earth again.
Calaveras review – Scene point blank
At the rate I’m going, I’m going to seriously depreciate the value of the phrase ‘like Mogwai, only better.’ Then again, it’s not exactly my fault that it’s such an easy status to obtain (*zing*). The latest band to fall under this label, Kent-based post-rockers up-c down-c left-c right-c abc + start (thank god they’re now going by simply UpCDownC), continue to raise their bar with the release of their fourth studio album, Calaveras.
The best thing about this album is that Up C Down C are absolutely full of ideas, and each piece is crammed full of curve balls designed to throw you off. It feels like the band are trying to strike a balance between their earlier, more majestic and delicate works and their recent, drastically more compact and abrasive material. The spirit of the album is probably best captured with the aptly-titled track ‘Monumental Mood Shift.’ The song starts off with a brief, moderate march before turning into a heavy metal rocker, and then promptly shifts into a 5/4 buildup; the best part is that we’re still not even half way through the track. And it’s not isolated to that track alone, either; just try listening to ‘Wolves in the Walls.’ The piece starts out with guttural screaming and furious riffing (Ã la Firewolf, fittingly enough), but then drops out to almost nothing, rebuilding itself back up into the most oddly-placed-yet-still-effective talk box solos I’ve ever heard.
Of course, not all of the pieces are as chaotic as that – ‘Sky Net’ is a short, electronic-based sketch, and ‘Roman Horses’ is a simple, pastoral acoustic interlude. And of course, tracks like ‘Christmas ’86’ and ‘Sons of the Desert’ aren’t much more than your standard, sweet post-rockers; they would’ve sounded right at home on Embers or And the Battle Is Won. It’s good to know that even amongst their continued stylistic growth, these guys still have time to continue writing some of the music that made them popular in the first place.
UpCDownC have really exceeded expectations here. This is a truly well-done album that is not only incredibly rewarding to listen to, but gets better with every listen. If you enjoyed the styles they experimented with in Firewolf but resented the runtime, then you’ll definitely enjoy Calaveras. Actually, I highly recommend it for all fans of post-rock or indie rock alike. It’s not a good starter album, but anyone who’s listened to enough of the genre to have a good understanding of it will find Calaveras remarkable.
8.5 / 10
Calaveras review – Rough Trade
A four piece kent group, upcdownc have toured and shared influences with the likes of 65 days of static, oneida, kinski and damo suzuki while honing their own distinctive brand of drawn out doom and sheer eviscerating catharsis. ‘calaveras’ is the group’s fourth long player and shows a growth in the dynamics of the instrumental interplay. a lesson in high drama, upcdownc take the traditional guitar band formula and wrench new emotional depth from the strings and skins.
Calaveras review – Glasgow Podcart
When I noticed UpcDowncLeftcRightcabc+start’s album was up for review I picked it out as fast as I could. There are a number of reasons why; firstly, I love post-rock and everything associated with it. Secondly, UpcDowncLeftcRightcabc+start are one of my favourite band names, possibly because the video game geek in me gets the reference. ‘Tertiary’, I fucking love post-rock! So I was pretty excited to get going with ‘Calaveras’, the band’s third (fourth if you include ‘Embers’) album.
The album opens with the electro-infused ‘Skynet’, a nice Terminator reference but also sounds like it should be in the movie. This is followed by ‘Sons of the Desert’, which begins with something of a resemblance to Pelican’s more melodic efforts, but slowly builds to crashing intensification with much heavier, darker guitar riffs. Also surprisingly short, at a mere 4 minutes 15 seconds. In the very next song, however, UpcDownc (as they shall now be shortened to) really kick in to gear.
‘Wolves in the Walls’ grabs your attention instantly like a swift kick to the danglies. Some impressive screams of the title, surrounded by a pretty chunky bassline lure you in immediately. As with most post-rock songs, it’s all crescendos and diminuendos, but you’re still hooked in the slower parts and are thoroughly rewarded with the expertly polished second half of this song. I’m looking forward to hearing this live, because I’m sure it’ll sound incredible.
After that ball buster, the album takes a change in direction with ‘Roman Horses’. The delightful acoustic guitars, playful banjo and vocal harmonies prove there’s more than meets the eye (or ears) to these post-rock stalwarts. It doesn’t last however, and is followed by a tremendous change with the track ‘Monumental Mood Shift’. A song that does exactly what it says, and the juxtaposition between this and the previous track doesn’t feel forced, infact almost necessary. This track really epitomises the genre, and how a song can grow and create an atmosphere that is so absorbing you can’t help but get caught up in it.
We come next to ‘Spectral Fires’, a short yet whimsical effort with the returning electro feel, but combined with the heavenly guitar it’s far from pointless. This track is followed by ‘Christmas ’86’ which is, if not quite an ode, certainly a tip of the hat in the general direction of Explosions in the Sky. I know, I know, a comparison to Explosions was inevitable, but it certainly has that ambiance about it. That something can resemble Explosions is never a bad thing people.
The penultimate track on ‘Calaveras’ is ‘(The Plains) Skeletal’, complete with unnecessary parentheses. I wanted to avoid making comparisons to other bands, but I couldn’t help it, the opening of this has Red Sparowes all over it. Again, not entirely a bad thing. The lyrics are lost somewhat in the crashing symbols and catchy riffs; however it’s another fine example of why UpcDownc has lasted for over a decade in a pretty uncompromising genre. The album closes with ‘Skynet (reprise)’, complete with necessary parentheses. Back with the electro feel, it does round off the album with a sense that it’s gone full circle, tying it all up in a neat bow.
For post-rock lovers, it’s been an excellent year for new releases. From the previously mentioned Explosions in the Sky, to the deceptively dark cacophonies of ‘Tunnel Blanket’ by This Will Destroy You, and of course our very own sexy bastards Mogwai. All wonderful bands with outstanding albums, and whilst UpcDownc don’t quite have the same standing within the genre as they do, ‘Calaveras’ certainly doesn’t look out of place alongside them on your playlist.
Calaveras review – Echoes and Dust
There are rare moments in life when you receive an assignment that turns out to be as good as a Christmas present – that was precisely my case with the new Upcdownc album. My story with them is typical and proves that ‘last.fm’ as my religion choice on facebook is not an exaggeration. Every now and again I take whatever my last.fm homepage tells me to listen to for gospel and simply do it. That’s how I got addicted to Maybeshewill and that’s how I came across a new band with long and weird name with no spaces in it. I launched the artist’s radio every time I got stuck with no new sounds to nurture my ears and every single time when one of their songs came on I’d be thrilled. I remained an ignorant when it comes to their discography, probably due to the fact that last.fm scrobbles them as Upcdowncleftcrightcabc+start and this did not come up in any search engine I’ve tried. So when I saw ‘Calaveras’ in my Dropbox I got ridiculously overexcited. When I played the first track I got excited even more. And after a good few listens (last.fm will tell you exactly how many) I got stuck with what to *really* say about it – and then I discovered I’ve been listening to it in alphabetical song order and that answered the question of why it didn’t make too much sense!
There is a lot of sense behind it in fact. The clue comes from the title itself – Calaveras are associated with the Mexican Day Of The Dead, they are both the skulls and the poems about skeletons from Death’s Dance. The poems seem to be more crucial here as they mock the dead and tell funny stories about them as in Mexico the holiday is not sad at all, on the contrary – it celebrates life and the opportunity to get in touch with the lost ones. A typical meeting of life and death, joy and sadness, celebration and mourning. And that’s exactly how Upcdownc’s album seems to flow – opening ‘Sky Net’ brings uplifting electronic sounds but it soon merges into heavy riffs of ‘Sons of the Desert’ (wonder if was that inspired by the cult 1933 Laurel and Hardy movie?) bringing sounds rather dark and gloomy and showing off band’s grunge and classic hard rock inspirations.
It doesn’t get any less scary as ‘Wolves in the Walls’, an obvious tribute to Neil Gaiman and and Dave McKean’s book about little girl’s nightmares, brings some truly frightening growling to the repertoire. The nightmare gets soothed by the sounds of a Spanish guitar and soon ‘Roman Horses’ will take you to the place where you belong.
After that my favourite song from the album (even if just for the title) ‘Monumental Mood Shift’, introduces’¦ well, a monumental mood shift. The mood in question becomes more post-rocky, with ascending riffs, Explosions In The Sky-esque crescendos and this feeling that I love when I listen to a good post rock track that lifts you right up in the air and makes you feel like you’re flying (please don’t judge me). It just doesn’t get any better.
The brief ‘Spectral Fires’ is this tiny little gem with soft cymbals clashed with a dirty electronic beat and sparks up the atmosphere. And so it continues, with long intros, built up guitar sections, mood swings, everything that I love in good album. Listening to the part after the monumental mood shift makes me forget about looking for reasons to like it and browsing Google like crazy to find legitimate clues. They just sound great and create this post rock ambiance that simply makes me lose myself and forget about the world outside – highly recommended with headphones, preferably not in the middle of a busy road!
The Day Of The Dead theme comes back before the end, just to remind that ‘Calaveras’ as an album title didn’t appear out of the blue, however the sounds make the theme of Death’s Dance self explanatory – there’s a noticeable nostalgia and gloom hidden behind the notes of ‘(The Plains) Skeletal’ and the track brings back the grunge influences with some indecipherable singing, but it reminds one of the circle of life.
‘Sky Net (Reprise)’ finishes the album on the same note it began with, completing the cycle and bringing happy electro beats to override the sadness and look forward to the future with a smily face. After all calaveras laugh at Death in her face.
To cut the long story short – ‘Calaveras’, even though it took me a while to figure out why, is a very accomplished album, showing off not only the spectrum of Upcdownc’s possibilities and influences, but also their dry sense of humour and simply – balls. Last.fm as my chosen religion did a good job yet again sending me those guys. 4/5
Firewolf review – Medway gig guide
BY RICHARD BATCHELOR
UpCDownC have been making a name for themselves lately with a number of local performances. After seeing them live recently its great to hear that they have been able to take all the energy and sound that you hear live and place it onto a CD. Intro and following track ‘The Tavern’ and ‘Black Lodge’ set the tone for the album; thumping and chugging guitar riffs that want to break your speakers!
The Fantastically named ‘Def Zepplin’ and ‘Dad Rock’ also keep the album chugging along, the album is largely instrumental with a few screams bringing home the power. If you’re looking for a good musical way to spend 27 and a Â½ minutes you can’t go wrong with UpCDownC, extra kudos points for the great album artwork!
Rocksound – Firewolf review
Although on the outset tongues are firmly in cheeks (the album art looks like one of those wolf T-shirts you see over weight ramblers representing down the local tavern), Upcdownc’s music deserves to be treated with a bit of respect. There are moments of drawn-out doom that tickle the spine, such as the creeping riff of ‘Smiling bag’, but ‘Firewolf’ is at it’s best when the catharsis gives way to sheer anger. ‘Black Lodge’ explodes into fits of faraway screaming and the awesomely named ‘Def Zeppelin’ sounds like the onset of a gruesome tribal war. It’s an undeniably stirring offering.
Silent ballet – Firewolf review
It is always amazing to discover how easily preconceptions can subconsciously be created. Owning both pervious releases by Up-C Down-C Left-C Right-C ABC+Start (henceforth Upcdownc), I greeted this new album with much trepidation; I adore the band and was afraid it would be unable to capture the magic of its past efforts and would release a post-rock album that simply revisted old ideas. My worries never came to fruitation: Firewolf is anything but a repeat of things past. The first two proper releases by Upcdownc, And The Battle Is Won and Embers, received high praise from the press and established the band as one of the best new post-rock bands around. After such accolades, it seemed inevitable that the band would once again create an album of rising and falling crescendos. This, however, is very far from the truth.
Opening track ‘The Tavern’ is far removed from the band’s previous characteristic sound — the riffs coming out of the speakers sound more like a rock band than accomplished post-rockers, and it quickly becomes evident that the ‘post’ has been dropped and the rock has been pushed up to full. Following track ‘Black Lodge’ mixes more influences than Upcdownc previously disclosed and shows a whole new side to the band. Not only have they included beautiful vocals, delivered in much the same way as Oceansize, but they also sweep from structured soaring guitars into a full-on distorted movement that would make Torche fans sit up and take note. There are still moments of familiarity in ‘Black Lodge’: the tempo of the song drops from its soaring start and the guitars lead the build up. Just as a crescendo would be expected, however, the almighty distortion pedal is nailed firmly to the floor and the band proceeds to storm to the end, even throwing in some screaming.
Vocals, screaming, and heavy distortion sound like a bit of a departure from what many people liked about Upcdownc, but it really does them no harm to mix in these new features. It has taken away the predictability of the music and the listener gets a fresh surprise at the end of every build up. When someone becomes familiar with a band’s music, he generally knows what will happen next. Bands can only go so far with their sound and ideas. Upcdownc have taken their ideas from the previous album and given them an injection of steroids, highlighting the influence of rock music and making it hard to ignore the heavier sound they are creating. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that this is Upcdownc; post-rock bands are generally stubbornly opposed to massive shifts in their sound, but this is one band that’s not afraid of the risk.
There are still those moments of post-rock’s glistening guitar work on this album, particularly on the title track and also on the superbly done ‘Agent Cooper.’ At a running time of only one minute and thirty-nine seconds, ‘Agent Cooper’ goes through all the post-rock motions: build up, crescendo, and spiralling end. Harsh vocals are even added, and they help make this an outstanding creation and prove that plenty of emotion can be released from a song in a short span of time.
As with the majority of albums, there are a few moments that bring the overall package down. As mentioned, the short opening sounds like an average pub band. iI may be that Upcdownc use it to announce that they are going to offer a new sound. ‘Smiling Bag’ and ‘Def Zeppelin’ both do well to build up atmosphere, but they don’t really go anywhere; for fillers they show a great deal of promise, and it’s a shame they are not fleshed out further. The biggest let down of the album is that ‘Dad Rock’ is not a post-rock cover of Journey, and this shows just how far Upcdownc have progressed. Firewolf is an album that offers something different, but still seems familiar.
Kent Gig Guide embers review
Post rockers UpCDownC have come a long way to release the album ‘Embers’. The material has been ready for a year, but due to many difficulties arising between the band and record label; Tap ‘n’ Tin records, the album was only finally released in October 2008. It was worth the wait though… full of powerful post rock guitar anthems, Embers delivers on many fronts and the band should be more than proud of their achievements despite the difficulties.
‘Murmurs Part 2’ is a favourite stand out track of the album, full of beautiful melodies, it has an anthemic quality akin to the mastery of Sigur Ros. The band have already prepared a second album called ‘Firewolf’ due to be released soon. I for one am anxiously waiting to see what the next album will bring.
Kerrang and Rock Sound reviews for embers
Silent Ballet ’embers’ review
Almost two years ago I went to see Motivesounds label-mates Capulet play with Mt. and a band I had heard little about, upcdowncleftcrightcabc+start. I attended the show with the expectation to be thoroughly entertained by the Motivesounds roster, but I was completely surprised by the third band who actually ended up impressing me the most. Quickly I attained a copy of And the Battle is Won, and frequently relived the magic of that incendiary live experience.
Forward ahead two years and roughly 12,000 listens of And the Battle is Won, and we are eagerly awaiting the follow up from Kent’s mighty upcdowncleftcrightcabc+start (hereafter referred to as upcdownc). Sometimes a band can create a fantastic debut album and struggle to follow it with something that is even close in quality to the original. What makes this common situation even more difficult to overcome is when fans stir up the hype, attract more fans, and then those fans stir up even more hype…until somewhere along the way the band finally announces a new album, only to then have it eventually delayed a year in a strategy which seems to accomplish little more than to frustrate the heck out of loyal fans!
So, three years after And The Battle Is Won, expectations are high – but do they live up to the rather relentless hype? In short, the answer is yes. What upcdownc have done here is to take their trademark sound, a kind of stripped-down melodic heaviness, and to embellish it with all kinds of elaborate flourishes, without losing the immense appeal of the debut. Some of the beautiful timelessness evident in ‘New Year’ and ‘Sadako’s Fury’ from the debut is replicated in this instance, but amplified tenfold. ‘Get To The Chopper,’ for instance, begins the album proper, after a short introductory song. Drawing the listener in with beautifully panned delicate guitar notes over a droning bass part, the piece slowly crescendos into the crushing assault that immediately reminds you why we waited almost three years to hear this record.
Another fine example of this depth of feeling is found in the grandiose ‘Murmurs Pt. 2.’ Segueing slowly into a beautiful acoustic guitar and layered with uninhibited violins and almost celestial chimes, it feels as though the piece could stay just the same way for over a week and not lose any of the charm it exhibits in these first few seconds. Before long, the oft-used but (surprisingly) never boring crescendo becomes apparent. Layering guitars over each other and slowly increasing the volume of the other parts sounds rather obvious, doesn’t it? It is, but in this case, it is done with such panache that it makes you wonder why everyone doesn’t take their time in doing these things.
One thing that I constantly allude to in many of my reviews is that a sense of continuity is absolutely vital to an album having that mass appeal, and because Embers shifts so much between opposite ends of the dynamic spectrum, it is a credit to them that they manage to maintain even a shred of cohesion throughout the album. Forget the shred, the shred is long gone, what we have here is a fully realized linear narrative, made even more impressive by the time it takes for this to become wholly apparent. As the album continues, the delicate intervals become fewer and the heavy sections become more pronounced, giving the feeling of a journey. The cadences become darker, and the guitars more scathing with each passing track, truly pummeling the listener with the light/dark contrast, and adding even more to the unimaginable depth of feeling portrayed with each movement.
As I mentioned before, making a follow-up so long after the original album is always going to be a hard feat to accomplish, but with Embers, upcdownc manage without a shadow of a doubt. This is an album steeped in inexplicably beautiful consonance, juxtaposed with crushing heaviness, and at no point does any of it feel labored. What could have so easily been a disappointing elegy has triumphed in a way that will have their fans (old and new) willing to wait as long as it takes for a follow-up.
Beacon Court, Gillingham by Chris Thomas KRNM
UpCDownCLeftCRightCABC+Start made a noise that really shouldn’t come from only four people. They managed the balancing act of sounding massive and delicate at the same time, drawing the crowd into their clutches and refusing to let go until they were done. As the members flailed around to their captivating brand of post-rock, you couldn’t help but wonder if they would collide with any of their equipment which dominated a good third of the stage. As it was, members darted between guitars, keyboards, samplers percussion instruments and more with ease, often within the same song and always seamless. A highlight came at the end when all three guitarists switched to drums, playing a marching beat which brought an unexpected end to an impressive set. The post-rock canon is beginning to look a little overcrowded but Up C Down C’s eclectic approach and lack of overindulgence, a failing of so many acts in the genre. Although it seems a crime an act of this caliber isn’t playing bigger venues, you couldn’t help but feel the confines of the Beacon were the kind of intimate setting them music should be enjoyed in.
Purple Turtle, Reading by Simon T Diplock, Rock Sound
Of all the five senses the last you’d expect a post-rock band to mess with is touch. But Kent quintet Upcdownc are all about contact. And it’s not just the confines of tonight’s tiny basement venue that means they get to cop a feel. From their very first note the band reach out, tickling the hairs on your neck with beautiful, hushed gentleness or punching holes in the foundations with massive, stirring volume and a double drum attack. They build songs that press on chests, shake brains, rattle teeth and posses the sort of riveting bass sound that should come with a health warning for folks with weak hearts. The oomph being one new tune in particular is like a suckerpunch to the gut. Sure they entertain your eyes and ears too, but there are moments here when it feels like the music could actually move you to a better place. Superb.
Purple Turtle, Reading by Victoria Hall
Have you ever watched a band and felt like you were intruding on a very personal, secret outpouring? That’s how I felt on Wednesday night at The Purple Turtle where UPCDOWNC performed.
It’s a bold statement, but UPCDOWNC are the best post rock, progressive act I’ve seen in over a year.
They opened their set by playing their guitars with bows. They were experimental, yet extraordinarily tight, throughout their entire performance. Vocals were absent from the set, but musical wealth was present in abundance. The band played for themselves and I felt like a voyeur. It was a passionate and honest display of musical flair that has been absent from all of the local gigs I’ve been to in recent months.
I literally stood watching this band either open-mouthed and in awe, or I was off on cloud nine with my eyes closed and letting their music wash over me… it’s been a long time since that’s happened.
UPCDOWNC were humbly confident in front of their audience and held a very alluring, personable aura about them throughout the set. They were smiling and enjoying themselves and had none of the haughtiness that many acts display nowadays.
Unfortunately for UPCDOWNC and the support acts (the somewhat average Last Days of Lorca and Polar Remote) the live performances were delayed by about 90 minutes! This meant that UPCDOWNC didn’t get onto stage until around midnight. Many punters (including some of my own ‘superlightweight’ friends) couldn’t wait around any longer and missed out on the headlining band. As such, the crowd was pretty small, but we gathered close anyway… in fact, any closer we would have been on their pedals!
So, if you were one of the imbeciles that left early, or simply didn’t go at all, make sure that you get to another UPCDOWNC gig as soon as you can… I promise you, you will not be disappointed!
Live review, Oxfordbands.com
If Flies Are Spies From Hell were akin to Kandinsky, UpDownCLeftCightCABC+Start reveal themselves to be Dali, Picasso and Monet all rolled into one (something I previously only thought possible from Battles). Their sound is exquisite, lush and transcendent. Last year’s release ‘And The Battle Is Won’ explored the more ethereal, warped side of post-rock and provides material from which they draw heavily tonight. The collective from Kent employ a twin drumming assault that reassuringly and upliftingly increases the dynamics rather than losing them to a chaotic mess, which seemed the initial potential. From the opening highlight of the rocktastic ‘Stand Shadowless Like Silence’ though to the glistening gem of ‘Sadako’s Fury’ and the final, seemingly-improvised crescendo, the pace is kept snappy and bathed in abstract, impressionistic verve. Barring one track, parts of which suspiciously bear an uncanny resemblance to Mogwai’s ‘Guardians Of Space’, UpCDownC… make the post-rock sound their own tonight and have the hellishly hot venue eating out of their hands throughout.
Amazon Reviewer rockthenchill, Glasgow
Yet another Instrumental Post-rock band? You won’t be complaining when you hear this album. It’s the Post/prog-rock music you’ve always known and loved, compiled into one neat little cd box under the very long name of ‘Upcdownc…’.
It’s like Mogwai, Explosions, Mono and 65daysofstatic all rolled into one – (except without the prolonged passages of annoying feedback) Plus, it would appear these guys have something extra up their sleeves: Talent!
Stunning intros and bridges of beautifully fingerpicked tunes will sooth your soul before blowing you to the firey underworld and back…and when Up C kick in, boy do they kick ass!! Some seriously meaty guitars will knock you to your knees – often more than once in the same song! Oh, and a couple of songs even feature string sections – something surprisingly uncommon in bands of a similar vein, though goodness knows why, because it sounds Awsome!
You will feel like you already know these songs when you hear them, but that doesn’t make ‘And the battle is won’ any less enjoyable – on the contrary it’s therefore more readily accessible.
Superb drumming (often with that classic marching snare sound), shrill flowing lead guitars, deep walking bass riffs, always melodic, always with oomph, and never tiresome.
You need this.
Kerrang! album review – 4/5
Once the last outpost of pedal junkies, post-rock has now grown and expanded into a diverse and healthy genre, with a lack of vocals and grandiose ambitions as the only real unifying factors. Leading the new vanguard are Up-C Down-C Left-C Right-C ABC + Start – it’s the cheat instruction for ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ – whose debut is a lesson in musical architecture. Segueing some stirring classical into layer upon layer of guitars that crash like the falling pillars of Pompeii, ‘Not Of The Fallen’ is indicative of Up-C’s deft way with creating high drama with guitars in new ways. Their future looks bright.
Voted number 6 out of the 50 Top post rock albums of the year on Decoymusic.com
After years of fine-tuning its sound, Up C Down C finally connects with And the Battle is One (appropriately titled). It’s albums such as this that make it truly a joy to partake in the post-rock genre. And the Battle is Won is the result of the last four years of song writing, and the selection of tracks on the album could not be any more diverse. At times you might liken the band to Pelican, and at others to Mono, and still at others you might describe them as a space-rock band. Each song adds it’s own unique flavour the to album, and no matter what your preferences may be–quiet, loud, long, short, epic, subtle–Up C Down C has it covered. It looks like all of Up C Down C’s hard work is beginning to pay off with And the Battle is Won, which shows a stunning drive in the band. It’s difficult to say where the band will embark from here, but they’ve shown that no matter the direction, they’ve got a good place to start.
Album review from Sounds xp
Here’s a true story: Cruising along in my modest automobile (my baby wasn’t beside me at the wheel at the time though) I was poised to place ‘And The Battle Is Won’ into my car stereo for the first time. Just as I placed the CD in, a car nosed out in front of me. Mildly narked for a brief moment and gradually quelling my rage, I stared in disbelief at the last three letters on the car’s number plate: ‘UPC’. And it wasn’t just any old car. It was a BMW Z4 Coupe. Now make of that what you will, but I saw it as a sign.
Hailing from the hotbed of Kentish musical talent that is the Medway towns, the Up-C Down-C boys deal in what pigeonholing types might call ‘instrumental post-rock’ but the rest of us would call quality shit-kicking music. Ignore their somewhat dodgy moniker, these five men are out to create some truly gargantuan cinematic tunes to soundtrack Armageddon (and we’re not talking about the rubbish Bruce Willis film here).
The record opens with the excellent ‘Stand Shadowless like Silence’, gentle guitar purrings giving way to a fat slab of skull-crushing guitar noise and a fluid, constantly shifting bass-line. Their penchant for splitting layered multipart riffs with paint-peeling chords reveals a fondness for art metal and hardcore as well as a nod to the complex rock of bands like Slint.
‘Not of the Fallen’ begins with a sumptuously arranged chamber orchestra lulling you into a false sense of tranquility until somebody stamps a jackboot on the pedal marked ‘instant sonic death’ and the elemental force of two drumkits rages out from the speakers like a brutal audio shockwave that entirely melts your ears and face. One of the album’s finest moments comes with ‘New Year’, which initially comes across like a plaintive Angelo Badalamenti score before morphing into what sounds like the soundtrack to a viciously deranged Martial Arts flick.
True, their music is not groundbreakingly original (other obvious reference points being Explosions in the Sky and Mogwai), nor does it pretend to be, but unlike many of their musical forebears, they know the value of taught economy. The majority of their songs are never longer than they need to be, often stopping way short of the wearying ten minute one-idea dirges occasionally peddled by the likes of Mogwai.
Only in the medieval-jig-on-steroids of ‘Shallows’ do they stretch a single idea to its monotonous breaking point and the wheels of the Up-C wagon start to loosen. But hey, it’s a tough bloody wagon and the superb closer, ‘I Think About Forever’ comes as sweet relief, featuring gently serene percussive chimes and a mournful intro likely to reduce even Vin Diesel to tears.
Up-C Down-C then – not quite the musical equivalent of a BMW Z4 Coupe, but on the evidence here, most definitely firing on all cylinders of a ruddy big V8 engine.
Album review from Decoy music.com
After a series of self-recorded EPs and albums, Up-C Down-C Left-C Right-C ABC + Start received a break from Tap n tin records and brings their new album, And the Battle is Won to the world with proper label backing. Paying tribute to the invincibility cheat in old-school Sonic the Hedgehog (Sega Genesis), Up-C Down-C Left-C Right-C ABC + Start should not be confused as a childish band. The sound created by this band challenges the hard-rock mentality of Pelican while remaining soft enough to dance with Mono without breaking any toes. Those who felt elation at the fragile composition of Pelican’s acoustic ‘-‘ will salivate for the smooth ride of Up-C Down-C Left-C Right-C ABC + Start ‘s tranquil ‘Comfort Me, I’ve Lost My Heart,’ who step up the ante by introducing a violin to the picture. Yet, on the same page, the band offers blistering rock in the form of ‘Sadako’s Fury’ and the heart-stopping ‘Silent Fire,’ which dives into a space-rock composition featuring a sharp breakdown that is so powerful it snaps itself literally in two as it progresses further into the track. Clearly the gem of the album, ‘Silent Fire’ is a bit of new taste for the band, as it brings together many of the different sounds the band is exploring into a concise five minute song that drives the point home with undeniable authority. ‘Shallows’ is a similarly attractive track, starting off slow and melodic and building towards an epic, loud finale. This is a song that the band has struggled with over the past three years, repeatedly attempting to perfect the song but always finding themselves unhappy with the final production. On And the Battle is Won, the band can claim just that–that the struggle with this song has finally ended, as it shines as brightly as the rest of this superb album.
Up-C Down-C Left-C Right-C ABC + Start accomplish a rare task with And the Battle is Won. They’re able to convincingly pull off an album that simultaneously taps into the pool of softer sounds of the instrumental genre, in all of its various ‘post-rock’ forms, and also the rich history of instrumental hard rock. Often these experiments result in oddly paced albums or create a disorienting experience through jarring transitions. However, Up-C Down-C Left-C Right-CABC + Start show that over the years they’ve found their unique blend of instrumental rock, and those who care to joint them on this adventure will be well rewarded.
Album review from Sound of violence (translated from French)
Several years after first getting together, the post-rock group Upcdownc, who hail from Kent, can be proud to have succeeded in their fight – they have found a record label on which to release their first true album ‘And the battle is won’
The first opus truly is a reflection of how the superb single ‘Shallows’ released on 12′ vinyl, managed to leave us last summer. Blending delicacy with powerful interludes highlighted by the use of two simultaneous drumkits, the post-rock music played by these five Englishmen is meant to be both catchy whilst knowing how to remain simple. In fact, the group rejects all use of electronics and they totally forsake vocals, all whilst attaching great importance to the use of guitars, even if a violin managed to find its way onto ‘Not of fallen’, ‘New year’ and ‘Comfort me, I’ve lost my heart’ too.
The majority of tracks on this CD don’t shine with originality, rather it is their effectiveness which makes them stand out. Those who appreciate this kind of music will not be able to stop themselves from tapping their feet and nodding their heads when listening to ‘Sadako’s fury’ or ‘Stand shadowless like silence’, to name just two tracks. Admittedly, the band do seem to have a few repetition problems, but the overall quality of composition counterbalances this slight downer perfectly.
Whilst it most probably won’t revolutionise a style of music which has got by perfectly well on its own for many years now, ‘And the battle is won’ does at least prove that Upcdownc now deserve to be taken notice of – much more notice than has been awarded them these last few years. One of this autumns most pleasant surprises!
Album review from Boomkat
What is it about the new generation of post-rockers that impels them to employ such spell-check crippling appellations? Last week we had 65daysofstatic and now it’s the absolute ball ache of Upcdowncleftcrightcabc+start. Moving away from their moniker for now (which we presume is a favourite computer game cheat code), UpcdowncÃ”Ã¸Î© indulge fully in all the orchestral stature and gale-force rock tendencies we’ve come to expect from the likes of Mogwai and Shellac. The kind of HUGE that caps lock simply can’t do justice to, tracks like ‘Not of the Fallen’ and ‘Stand Shadowless Like Silence’ broil upwards in an Eos-enhanced dawn of soaring strings, subterranean bass and sweaty riffage that could fell a marauding army. With the former single ‘Shallows’ still a soaring edict on the power of traditional post-rock (it essentially sounds like a Christmas song being torn to bits by Hades), ‘And The Battle Is Won’ proves that a silly name never stopped anyone.
Live review from pretentious heathens.co.uk
Upcdowncleftcrightcabcandstart (a reference to an old cheat on the mega drive I was told) Well, I was very impressed with them. Two drum kits, for a start! Performing instrumental rock music that was both musically complex, yet easily accessible. From the first few notes, I was entranced by their sound. There was a depth and scale to their songs that had me both physically, moving and emotionally ‘moved’ too. Strings were made much of in a few of the quieter passages of some of the songs played, and added a certain pastoral beauty that was elevated and extended, when the other instruments joined in and the songs evolved. Some of the songs played were epic in sound, and had an almost richly dark flavour.
A stunning start to the day…I rushed to buy their debut album ‘and the battle is won’, after the set.
Plan B featurette
‘Spiralling whirling guitars at the ready as the two-drumming, prog rock, math pop, formula known as Upcdowncleftcrightcabcandstart emergeth. With riffs as big as fillet steaks and pastoral passages straight outta Middlemarch, Upcdownc’s debut album, And the battle is won (tapntin), is a symphonic sprawl of bucolic tinkering and prolonged colossal feedback that has me reaching for my mathematical dictionary to make sense of it all. And it has me realising, to my chagrin, that I’ve never known a man who spoke the other universal language – that being, of course the mathematical tongue’ Nicola Meighan
Rock Sound Live Review (Notting Hill Arts Club, October 2005)
The Arts Club has never seen anything quite like it: two full drumkits sit atop the tiny stage, forcing multiple amplifiers and more pedals than there are in central Beijing onto the floor. Three-fifths of the Medway instrumental outfit stand at eye level, and an unusual intimacy is immediately assured as they trigger a combat sample and engage their gargantuan guitars – the band have our full attention from the very outset. Their music – both dynamic and replete with post-rock referencing repetition – owes a degree of debt to many an act before them, but Upcdownc’s live performance has to be seen to be believed; rarely has the skin been freckled by such tingling static and the soul shaken by continental plate-shifting switches in volume. ‘Sadako’s Fury’, for example, begins its seven-minute duration with considered calm but soon erupts into an Isis-rivalling controlled cacophony. Such comparisons aren’t made lightly.
And The Battle Is Won, Drowned In Sound – 4/5
It’s the collision of two worlds, expertly documented: the schools of instrumental elegance and metallic brutality entwined and embalmed for posterity by five men from Medway, each proffering as much of a nod to Karate as they do Khanate.
Up-C Down-C might not look the rock part, nor call a particularly rock locale their home, but they know their strengths and play to them: even the more immediate tracks here – those that bear similarities to songs written before them – are executed with expert precision. When Up-C Down-C truly hit their stride, such as on the awesome ‘Shallows’ (previously released as a limited-edition 10′), the sensory effect is phenomenal. Ears open acceptingly, the throat dries, eyes swell.
Consistently startling originality is not what makes And The Battle Is Won a worthwhile purchase for those enraptured by Sigur RÃ”Ã¸Î©s and Sunn O))) alike. What will are the more technical strengths: the band’s competency is astounding, their craft finely honed, and the overall feeling of satisfaction come closer ‘I Think About Forever’ is second to none. Repeat will frequently be engaged. This is deep nourishment served aurally, a banquet of riffs and double drum kit bombast, forever bound in subtle beauty. This is a rock that stands freely of post or prog prefixes.
This is a rock that requires a wider audience, today.
Medway Messenger album review, August 2005
On paper, an instrumental five-piece makes a limited visual experience. In the flesh, however, the Upcdownc live show – with two drummers – is hugely exciting and highly entertaining. Seeing the band work at its relentless musical onslaught is like watching Steve Irwin struggling with an angry croc. Brutal and loud, yet melodic and almost orchestral, Upcdownc’s sonic explosion feels massive in this tiny venue. In truth, it’d probably feel massive in any venue. Martin Kahl.
Shallows single review from DJ magazine
Sure player. 4/5. Like an unkempt, middle-aged man offering sweets to unsuspecting children in exchange for a ride in his Volvo, ‘Shallows’ might appear harmless on first impression, but give it half a chance and you realise its intentionsare less than honourable. Enticing you in with a gently plucked guitar motif and some conforting, military-style drums, it slowly drags you in further and further. By the time it’s finished with you, you’ve been assaulted by dense, heavy feedback, angry, growling guitars and enough post-rock to knock out a smack head. Great. (FS)
Shallows single review from Smallfish record shop
Bit of a gem, this. The A-side is a tremendously evocative piece of quiet/loud post-rock that’s almost like a slightly more pastoral/folky Mogwai! On side two, things head down a more State River Widening / Tortoise / Thrill Jockey dust-track, concluding with a more electronic John Amino remix (whose name rings a bell, but I’m not sure why, sorry… he adds a touch of Ulrich Schnauss to proceedings). Fans of Silver Ray will really go nuts for this. One to watch.
Shallows single review from Boomkat.com (independent music specialists)
Alongside Sheffield’s 65daysofstatic, Updownc (have none of these bands heard of parenthesis) are at the very vanguard of the British post-rock movement, looking up to Mogwai, Shellac, Slint etc. for riff teasing guidance. Following the dogmatic blueprint of these things, ‘Shallows’ begins with a genteel guitar part (in this case quite folky and very addictive), then incrementally batter it about with staccato rhythms and roaring, white noise riffs. Yes it may have been done before, but it still has the ability (if done well) to thrill and exhilarate. Updownc do it very well. On the B is the Smashing Pumpkin Xerox ‘Don’t Be Sad That I’m Gone Just Happy That I Was Here’, whilst ‘Sadako’s Fury-John Amino Remix’ is a brittle re-reading of the above, bolstered by some iron clad beats.
Shallows single review from Phonica records
A beautiful post rock record which has something truly uplifting about it, with a guitar sound reminiscent of Ariel M and hypnotic guitar lines such as that in the title track ‘Shallows’ which have a folk tinge. This is the follow up to an excellent 7′ from 2004.
From DMC Update magazine
This three tracker is gonna get a lot of play at the Big Chill and plenty of other events on a similar vibe. The opening title cut ‘Shallows’ starts with a riff that lands somewhere between The Velvet Underground and Lemon Jelly, other guitars start layering, including a Doors like one, whilst military drums build, then the whole thing explodes into a swirling ball of psychedelic distortion. Aaaaah! Bliss. ‘Shallows’ Ep is only the second release from Upcdownc and already there’s a big buzz about this band. 5/5.
Shallows single review from smallfish virtual record shop
Bit of a gem, this. The A-side is a tremendously evocative piece of quiet/loud post-rock that’s almost like a slightly more pastoral/folky Mogwai! On side two, things head down a more State River Widening / Tortoise / Thrill Jockey dust-track, concluding with a more electronic John Amino remix (whose name rings a bell, but I’m not sure why, sorry… he adds a touch of Ulrich Schnauss to proceedings). Fans of Silver Ray will really go nuts for this. One to watch.