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The last one was so late, it seemed only fair to get back on track and do this one early. Not that you’re sitting and waiting with baited breath for the next podcast, I know — not deluding myself to think otherwise — but it keeps me sane to stick to some imaginary/arbitrary feeling of timeliness that changes more often than not, so I’ll just say up front that I appreciate your indulgence. Wow. Sometimes these imaginary conversations get pretty heavy.
Speaking of heavy — and speaking of masterful segues! — the new podcast has plenty of it. The second hour actually gets pretty pummeling, what with the Ahab track and all, so I made sure a little extra psychedelic stuff got in at the front. Dig that Red Mountains track. Their album’s coming out on Nasoni, which should be all the endorsement you need. I’m also very much into the Pyramidal space jam, and if you get to hear it, that Brian Ellis & Brian Grainger record (El Paraiso is putting it out) is a gem. Think a more psychedelic Six Organs of Admittance, all instrumental.
Some killer samplings to be had here, so I won’t delay further. Hope you enjoy:
0:00:00 Tony Reed, “Still Born Beauty (Necromandus ’73)” from The Lost Chronicles of Heavy Rock Vol. 1
0:04:02 All Them Witches, “Dirt Preachers” from Dying Surfer Meets His Maker
0:07:43 Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, “Waiting for Blood” from The Night Creeper
0:12:33 Red Mountains, “Sleepy Desert Blues” from Down with the Sun
0:19:58 T.G. Olson, “Heavy on Your Head” from The Boom and Bust
0:23:18 Pyramidal, “Motormind” from Jams from the Sun Split with Domo
0:33:30 Brian Ellis & Brian Grainger, “Treesmoke” from At Dusk
0:37:53 Vinnum Sabbathi, “Hex II: Foundation Pioneers” from Fuzzonaut Split with Bar de Monjas
0:45:18 Spelljammer, “The Pathfinder” from Ancient of Days
0:53:41 Derelics, “Ride the Fuckin’ Snake to Valhalla” from Introducing
1:02:03 Ahab, “The Weedmen” from The Boats of the Glen Carrig
1:16:56 Lost Orb, “Low Ebb’s Lament” from Low Ebb’s Lament
1:34:10 Hotel Wrecking City Traders, “Droned and Disowned” from Split with Hey Colossus
King Crimson, In the Court of the Crimson King (1969)
An observation by King Crimson, and a brilliant one at that. The first time I heard King Crimson‘s 1969 debut, In the Court of the Crimson King was on the flight home from my honeymoon. I was 23, and while by some standards that was late to encounter the record, it’s a setting I wouldn’t have traded a decade for, returning from my first time out of the country, The Patient Mrs. sitting next to me as I loaded the disc into the bulky CD player I’d continue to use for years afterwards — 23-year-old me is a little disappointed every time 33-year-old me plays a song on my phone — the swells of the closing semi-title-track “Court of the Crimson King” matching the puffy whites and greys of clouds outside the aircraft window. It’s an association I’ll always have with the first King Crimson record, and that may well be part of why I consider it among the best albums I’ve ever heard, but sentiment aside, I think even the most objective observer would have to be taken aback by just how much ground the UK band — the lineup of Robert Fripp (guitar), Michael Giles (drums, backing vocals, percussion), Greg Lake (vocals, bass), and Ian McDonald (flute, clarinet, sax, keys, harisichord, piano, vibraphone, backing vocals, etc.) — were able to break on their debut release. Out through Island Records in the UK and Atlantic in the US for its original pressing, its 44 minutes continue to serve as a blueprint for the founding consciousness that typifies nearly every strain of progressive rock. It’s the higher consciousness that all those acid-heads were trying to attain.
King Crimson are probably more known for 1974’s Red, or their 1981 post-hiatus return, Discipline, which in many ways set the tone for everything that followed it, but In the Court of the Crimson King makes for an even more striking listen because it’s as much about its melodies as its experimentalism. From the jagged insistence of “21st Century Schizoid Man” — a landmark in itself and a defining moment for the band — through the closer’s spacious roll and minimalist interplay, King Crimson were beyond just freaking out. Every texture in the mellotron-infused “Moonchild,” and every pseudo-militaristic drum stop in “Epitaph” has its companion sense of melody, and the work as a whole is as gorgeous as it is complex. The dreamy wisps of “I Talk to the Wind” are much stronger for it, and while King Crimson would ultimately become more of a show of technicality and genre-defining progressive rhythms under various lineups incorporating the likes of guitarist/vocalist Adrian Belew, bassist Tony Levin and drummer Bill Bruford — nothing against that band, those players or anyone else who might have “I played ‘x’ in King Crimson” on their resumé — this earliest incarnation of the group was unafraid to complement all that distinguishing class with simple sweetness, and that was something that they’d never quite do in the same way again. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, listen to the early part of “Moonchild.”
Of course, that’s not to belittle the band’s subsequent accomplishments or what Greg Lake would go on to do with Emerson, Lake and Palmer, or what Fripp continues to do with the modern version of King Crimson — which if I recall correctly featured no fewer than three drummers on their most recent US tour; I was sorry I missed it — just to highlight the fact that In the Court of the Crimson King is something special and it was a shortlived moment in the band’s ultimate trajectory. I can’t imagine this post is anyone’s first time hearing it, but if it is or if you’re just revisiting, fair enough. I can’t imagine this version posted on YouTube will be there all that long before it gets taken down, so if nothing else, consider this a recommendation to take your copy off the shelf — CD, vinyl, whatever it might be — and give it another look, or if you don’t have a copy, to get one. It’s one of those records that goes a long way toward making a house into a home.
Either way, enjoy.
I’ve been thinking this week about the idea of curating. Announcing that I’m putting together that all-dayer for next August in Brooklyn has got me thinking about the various ways in which we curate our existence, the choices we make, the little things we do every day. My conclusion? I’m way fucking in favor. You know what the tradeoff is for all the privacy we’ve thrown out the window in the last two decades, all the data we’ve let be gathered and sold back to us, all the compromises we’ve made on our relationships to media and the relentlessly-cloying-yet-somehow-also-all-controlling corporatocracy in which we live? The tradeoff is the “I don’t want to see this” button.
It’s not quite my favorite thing in the world, but it’s definitely on the list. Imagine a real-life bullshit detector. I used to abhor willful ignorance, as though everyone should make an effort to expose themselves to everything, all the time — the least realistic of expectations. Our brains would explode. Fuck that shit. Life is short, and yeah, you should get out and see the world, but when you come across something you just know is garbage, “I don’t want to see this” comes in real, real handy.
The Patient Mrs. asks me all the time if I’ve seen this or that floating around, the latest horrific thing some Republican candidate said or did. There was a time where the answer would be yes, but now? Not a chance. I barely even pay attention to mass shootings, suicide bombings, war, greed, corruption, etc., anymore. Not when there are show flyers to check out! Is my being interminably beaten down by the needless cruelties we perpetrate on each other going to fix them? Nope. Am I improving myself by being upset by these things? Nope. Okay then.
I’m not saying compassion has no value — unless we’re measuring in terms of pure real-world productivity, which in most cases it does indeed have no value — or that the news isn’t worth keeping up with, but I’m saying that, like the news organizations, we’re fortunate to live in an age in which we’re also able to engage in what media studies calls “agenda setting.” I don’t know what Donald Trump said about Mexican immigrants. I don’t know how many people were blown up today in Baghdad. I do know Baroness have a new album coming out, and I know that the new Graveyard record kicks ass. And I’m perfectly okay with that balance. My agenda has been set.
Perhaps complemented by the revelation of a somewhat troubling tendency to gravitate toward ’90s television (Star Trek spinoffs, MST3K, etc.) and videogames, being able to curate my own life has proven a massive win, and it’s made me more conscious (again, for better and worse) of my decisions and habits, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. The rest? Well, I don’t know about it, because I choose not to know. Other people can fret over the fact that nobody’s willing to do anything about climate change, that people on the internet say, write and do stupid, racist, sexist shit, and so on. Other people can protest wars like that’s ever going to stop them. It’s not like meaningful debate is a thing that exists or anyone’s interested in having. So yeah, beat your head against the wall of someone else’s dumbassery. Let me know how many years that adds to your life.
Next week, stay tuned for a Funeral Horse track stream, an initial announcement from Desertfest, reviews of Thera Roya and Uncle Acid and an interview with Monster Magnet‘s frontman, the inimitable Dave Wyndorf. There’s copious news already to go up on Monday about a new record from Saviours and the Melvins‘ next European tour, and I hear there’s an announcement coming from the Borderland Fuzz Fiesta as well, so stay tuned. Much goodness en route.
And if this site is one of the things to which you choose to expose yourself on a regular basis, please know you have my thanks and best wishes.
Great and safe weekend. Please check out the forum and radio stream.
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 28th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
I don’t mind telling you I’m going to miss doubly-bassed Portland trio Lamprey. They played their final show on July 25 at what was apparently the birthday of bassist/vocalist Blaine Burnham, and they’ve newly released their last batch of recordings under the simple title of III. Their last album, EP, whatever, it follows behind 2012’s The Burden of Beasts (review here) and 2011’s Ancient Secrets (review here) and rounds out their tenure on a decidedly powerful note of low-end heavy sludge. Comprised of Burnham, bassist Justin Brown and drummer Spencer Norman, they worked in raw form throughout their time together, but III still sounds huge, and it’s an easy argument to say it’s the best work they’ve done.
From the unmitigated stomp-fest of “Iron Awake” (video here) on down to the leads that close “Gaea,” Lamprey remain a standout of Portland’s massively crowded sphere of heavy, and for more than just their extra helping of thick strings. As for the where-are-they-now thing, you won’t have to look too far to find Brown, as he’s stepped into the bassist role for Witch Mountain — they’re on tour this fall with a little band called Danzig — and Burnham is playing drums in Mane of the Cur. Seems likely Norman will resurface at some point too if he hasn’t yet. When, if and what I hear, I’ll let you know.
For now, bye Lamprey and all the best. Glad III got to come out.
Here’s the release info and stream:
They say you should always go out on a high note. Well, even our low notes were pretty fucking high…
Engineered, mixed, and mastered by Adam Pike at Toadhouse Recording Studios.
Cover photo and layout by Spencer Norman.
1. Iron Awake 01:36 2. Harpies 07:35 3. Golden Mean 05:59 4. Nokken 02:57 5. Lament of the Deathworm 06:03 6. Gaea 05:27
Blaine, Spencer and Justin would like to say THANK YOU!!! to JJ Koczan of The Obelisk, Adam Pike of Toadhouse Recording Studio, and June No of the Interwebs for being so excellent to us over these past five years.
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 28th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Hey, you know who saw Anathema earlier this year? Me. I did. It was frickin’ great. It wasn’t at a cathedral, but it was at Roadburn, which is about as close as I come to a house of religious worship, so there. The long-running, long-progressing UK outfit had played Liverpool Cathedral only about a month before, however, and it’s that show that will be released as A Sort of Homecoming on Oct. 30 via Kscope. The material is mostly recent, but they manage to sneak a couple older cuts in there too, and if the cover is anything to go by, it looks like the setting is half the point. Look at that ceiling. I’d record a live album too if presented the opportunity.
And the title? Well, they’re from Liverpool, so there you go. Also, I love that Vincent Cavanagh compares it to Erebor. Fantastic.
The PR wire brings copious info and a trailer for the release:
KSCOPE PRESENTS: ANATHEMA’S “A SORT OF HOMECOMING,” A CONCERT FILM BY LASSE HOILE FROM ANATHEMA’S LIVERPOOL CATHEDRAL SHOW
“A Sort of Homecoming” to be released on Blu-ray, 2CD + DVD-V, LP and digital download on October 30
Anathema, one of the U.K.’s most cherished and critically acclaimed rock bands, will release a live Blu-ray/audio collection entitled A Sort of Homecoming on October 30 via Kscope. Directed by Lasse Hoile (Steven Wilson, Katatonia, Opeth), A Sort of Homecoming is a stunning concert film of Anathema’s homecoming show on March 7, 2015 in the spectacular setting of the Liverpool Cathedral. The concert was described by Prog Magazine as “a once in a lifetime experience that words can barely do justice.”
“I’m really happy that this night in particular has been preserved,” commented Anathema guitarist/vocalist, Vincent Cavanagh. “As anyone from Liverpool will tell you, to be given the chance to play the Anglican Cathedral is monumental and a huge honor. The place is absolutely huge. Just look at the cover, it was like doing a gig in Erebor!”
Having previously worked with Anathema on the acclaimed Universal concert film, Lasse Hoile captured the 100 minute acoustic set in high definition against the sensational backdrop of Liverpool Cathedral. Featuring 15 songs selected from the albums Distant Satellites, Weather Systems, We’re Here Because We’re Here, A Natural Disaster and Alternative 4, the ‘Anathema Acoustic’ trio of Daniel Cavanagh, Vincent Cavanagh and Lee Douglas were joined by rhythm section John Douglas and Jamie Cavanagh, alongside their very talented close friend David Wesling on cello who also played on Hindsight (2009) and A Moment In Time (2006). For this exclusive performance the band was also joined by the renowned violinist, Anna Phoebe, on a haunting rendition of “Anathema.” The audio has been produced and mixed by Christer-André Cederberg who worked on Distant Satellites, Universal and Weather Systems, with the cover and booklet artwork featuring the stunning photography from the show and behind the scenes by long time collaborator Caroline Traitler. This is the first Anathema live release to feature a 5.1 audio mix, engineered by Bruce Soord.
Kscope will release A Sort of Homecoming as:
– 4 disc box set: 2 CD concert audio (100 mins), DVD with full concert plus an additional behind the scenes film “A Temporary Peace” and concert on Blu-ray disc. In a deluxe rigid media book with 36 page booklet, presented in a slipcase
– 2CD + DVD-V: The set features the full 100 minute audio and DVD-V of the concert with 5.1 audio mixed by The Pineapple Thief’s Bruce Soord
– Blu-ray disc: The full 100 minute concert plus an additional behind the scenes film “A Temporary Peace” with 5.1 audio mixed by The Pineapple Thief’s Bruce Soord
LP: A gatefold triple 180g black vinyl LP including MP3 download code
1. The Lost Song Part 2 2. Untouchable Part 1 3. Untouchable Part 2 4. Thin Air 5. Dreaming Light 6. Anathema 7. Ariel 8. Electricity 9. Temporary Peace 10. The Beginning And The End 11. Distant Satellites 12. Take Shelter 13. Internal Landscapes 14. A Natural Disaster 15. Fragile Dreams
Anathema will continue to tour throughout the remainder of 2015. A full list of dates can be seen below.
Anathema live… 8/31 – Tokyo, Japan @ Liquid Room 9/01 – Tokyo, Japan @ Liquid Room 9/05 – Sao Paulo, Brazil @ Overload Music Festival 9/07 – Porto Alegre, Brazil @ Opiniao (w/ Paradise Lost) 9/08 – Rio, Brazil @ Circo Voador (w/ Paradise Lost) 9/11 – Atlanta, GA, USA @ Prog Power Festival 10/01 – Moscow, Russia @ Volta 10/02 – Minsk, Russia @ Re:Public 10/03 – St Petersburg, Russia @ Avrora 10/23 – Christchurch, NZ @ Dux Live 10/24 – Auckland, NZ @ Kings Arms 10/27 – Adelaide, AUS @ The Gov 10/29 – Brisbane, AUS @ Triffid 10/30 – Sydney, AUS @ Metro Theatre 10/31 – Melbourne, AUS @ Corner Hotel 11/01 – Perth, AUS @ Rosemount Hotel 11/04 – Manchester, UK @ Manchester Cathedral 11/05 – Paris, France @ Église Saint-Eustache (acoustic) 11/06 – Bochum, Germany (acoustic) 11/07 – Leipzig, Germany @ Täubchenthal (acoustic) 11/09 – Utrecht, Netherlands @ TivoliVredenburg 11/10 – Mannheim, Germany @ Capitol (acoustic) 11/11 – Sofia, Bulgaria @ Royal Bulgaria Hall (acoustic) 11/15 – 11/19 – Miami, FL, USA @ Cruise To The Edge
If it’s Uncle Acid‘s particular brand of threat and inescapable hooks you’re looking for, you’re probably not going to find it anywhere on their upcoming fourth album, The Night Creeper — out Sept. 4 on Rise Above Records — so much as on “Melody Lane.” Arriving after the instrumental “Yellow Moon,” it’s a fitting opener to side B of The Night Creeper, and among the record’s catchiest single choruses. I won’t take anything away from “Waiting for Blood” or “Murder Nights,” but it’s a highlight of the record.
The video covers familiar-enough feeling visual ground to go with the audio. Certainly for anyone who has caught the band’s clips for last year’s “Runaway Girls” single or the prior “Mind Crawler” from 2013’s Mind Control (review here) will recognize the form. The band themselves make fuzzy cameo appearances, standing in line for what I think turned out to be their latest round of promo pics — we don’t actually see photographer Ester Segarra in the video, but the window they’re in front of at one point looks familiar — and there is some grainy interspersion of The Night Creeper‘s cover art as well, so if there are any promotional bases to cover for the video, they’re covered.
As for the rest? Well, sort of a standard runthrough of the ’60s and ’70s hotties spliced with bouts of sexualized violence, knives as implements of penetration, and so on. But there’s also a few clips out of old film noir features, and if you had the chance to read the interview posted here last week with Uncle Acid guitarist/vocalist Kevin Starrs, that’s the thematic basis for more or less the whole album, so it’s not just a mishmash of hijacked footage set to the song. There’s a purpose looming behind all that psychosis, which I suppose is also what’s made Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats so effective over their entire run so far.
Their upcoming US tour dates follow under the video — I feel like I haven’t gone more than two days in the last three weeks without plugging that tour one way or another — along with more on the album itself courtesy of the PR wire. Enjoy:
Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, “Melody Lane” official video
Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats Share Music Video for New Track “Melody Lane”
The Night Creeper Out September 4 via Rise Above Records, Pre-Order Now
Touring the US This Fall + in NYC 9/12
The United Kingdom’s greatest cult band Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats are to return with their fourth full-length studio album The Night Creeper on September 4 via Rise Above Records.
Their newest single from the album is “Melody Lane” which has now been paired with a music video comprised of clips from classic B and exploitation films. It is an unprecedented peek into the brain of Uncle Acid himself and the inspirations that led to The Night Creeper. The album is available for pre-order now with an instant download of “Waiting for Blood” and “Melody Lane” on iTunes and Amazon.
Recorded at Toe Rag Studios in early 2015 with engineer Liam Watson (White Stripes, Tame Impala, Electric Wizard), The Night Creeper oozes louche evil. Hear flesh-melting riffs that creep like hot magma bubbling up through the earth’s crust combine with an ear for melody born out of the bands love for girl groups like The Ronettes and The Shangri-La’s. This is Sabbath-meets-Spector and it’s a heady combination. In support of the release they will also be embarking on their largest and longest tour to date, with a variety of US shows which can be viewed below.
Uncle Acid Tour Dates with Ruby the Hatchet and Ecstatic Vision 9/9 at Center Stage in Atlanta, GA 9/11 at Baltimore Sound Stage in Baltimore, MD 9/12 at Webster Hall in New York, NY 9/13 at Union Transfer in Philadelphia, PA 9/14 at Royale in Boston, MA 9/16 at Corona Theater in Montreal, QC 9/17 at Phoenix Theater in Toronto, ON 9/18 at Mr. Smalls in Pittsburgh, PA 9/19 at Metro in Chicago, IL 9/20 at Mill city Nights in Minneapolis, MN 9/22 at Summit Theater in Denver, CO 9/23 at Urban Lounge in Salt Lake City, UT 9/25 at Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver, BC 9/26 at El Corazon in Seattle, WA 9/27 at Wonder Ballroom in Portland, OR 9/29 at Slims in San Francisco, CA 9/30 at Slims in San Francisco, CA 10/1 at The Fonda Theater in Los Angeles, CA 10/2 at The Observatory in Santa Ana, CA
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 28th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Before German classic heavy rockers Kadavar kick off their Mexican, US and Canadian dates in support of their third album, Berlin (review here), which is out now on Nuclear Blast, the three-piece will be hitting South America for a run of shows in Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Chile presented by Abraxas Events. This will be Kadavar‘s first time on the continent, and they’ll arrive as headliners for Abraxas Fest on Sept. 20, which also features locals Muñoz Duo and Monster Coyote.
Dates and ticket links follow, along with some info sent over by Abraxas about what they’ve got going at the fest and Kadavar‘s recently-announced North American dates, which start directly after the South American run ends:
KADAVAR – South America
On September it is also our second anniversary as Abraxas and we do a (yet) small festival in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo to celebrate it, with a foreign band headlining and some local bands we book//manage on the bill as well. Last year we had Radio Moscow and now we’ll have Kadavar.
We have announced two bands so far (Monster Coyote and Muñoz) in addition to Kadavar and a 4th one will be announced next week. The 4 bands will play in Sao Paulo in the 19th, then I’ll get everyone inside a bus and drive to Rio de Janeiro to play the 20th.
KADAVAR tour dates: September 28 Mexico, City, Mexico El Plaza Condesa September 30 Brooklyn, NY Saint Vitus Bar October 2 Philadelphia, PA Ortlieb’s Lounge October 3 Pittsburgh, PA The Smiling Moose October 4 Chicago, IL Double Door October 7 Memphis, TN Hi-Tone Cafe
KADAVAR w/ The Sword: October 9 Dallas, TX Gas Monkey Live October 10 Austin, TX The Mohawk October 11 Houston, TX Fitzgerald’s October 13 Lawrence, KS Granada Theatre October 14 Madison, WI Majestic Theatre October 15 Iowa City, IA Gabe’s October 16 Minneapolis, MN Mill City Nights October 17 Omaha, NE The Waiting Room October 18 Tulsa, OK Cain’s Ballroom October 20 Mesa, AZ Club Red October 21 Las Vegas, NV Vinyl October 22 Solana Beach, CA Belly Up Tavern October 23 San Francisco, CA Slim’s October 27 Seattle, WA Neumos October 28 Vancouver, BC The Rickshaw Theatre October 29 Portland, OR Wonder Ballroom
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 27th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
It was announced earlier this year that Finnish death-doom malevolents Hooded Menace were recording their next album at Skyhammer Studio, and it seems that the rotten fruit of that effort will be released on Oct. 30. Out as close as possible to Halloween on Relapse Records, the offering is called Darkness Drips Forth, and it’s available to preorder now with a video trailer revealed. I doubt they’ll be long into the thing before it lives up to its name, but of course we’ll have to wait until we get there to find out for sure.
The PR wire gets drippy:
HOODED MENACE: Finnish Masters of Deathly Horror Announce Imminent Release of ‘Darkness Drips Forth’ via Relapse Records
Finland’s HOODED MENACE have returned with Darkness Drips Forth, their fourth full-length and most gruesome work to date. Recorded and mixed by Chris Fielding (Electric Wizard, Primordial) and the band´s usual sound engineer Mikko Saastamoinen, and graced by decrepit artwork from Justin Bartlett, the band employ a new approach on their latest effort, expanding their writing across four cataclysmically dense tracks, nearly all of which exceed ten minutes apiece. Cavernous vocals preside over mastermind Lasse Pyykko’s rumbling riffs, while the rest of the band’s unshakable rhythmic core provides a grim backbone for the record.
The hint of melody HOODED MENACE sought back in their earliest days has fully blossomed into an essential element of the band’s music; Darkness Drips Forth is as melodic as it is devastating and as emotionally disquieting as it is thematically stirring. Funereal, deliberate, and methodical, Darkness Drips Forth is sure to be an essential acquisition for fans of Winter’s crushing doom, the old-school death metal of Bolt Thrower and Asphyx, and the cruel, apocalyptic atmospheres of Dead Congregation and Coffins alike. Just in time for Halloween, Hooded Menace delivers a gruesome treat to chill your bones and crack open your coffin.
The record is slated for an October 30, 2015 release via Relapse Records, and will be available on digital, CD, and vinyl formats. Preorder the album on CD or special edition vinyl here, or preorder the digital version from Bandcamp here.
Tracklisting: 1. Blood For The Burning Oath / Dungeons of The Disembodied 2. Elysium of Dripping Death 3. Ashen With Solemn Decay 4. Beyond Deserted Flesh
Posted in Reviews on August 27th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
The odds have been overcome, the story has been told, and really all that’s left for Pentagram at this point is to keep the momentum going. Their return to Peaceville Records comes with Curious Volume, their second full-length after 2011’s Last Rites (review here) reunited one of the most pivotal pairings in American doom: vocalist Bobby Liebling and guitarist Victor Griffin, and one could easily argue that it finds Pentagram — Liebling, Griffin, bassist Greg Turley and drummer “Minnesota” Pete Campbell as the latest addition in place of Sean Saley, now in The Skull — with the highest public profile they’ve ever had. 40 tumultuous (to put it mildly) years later, Bobby Liebling is legitimately a rock star, headlining at festivals like Psycho California and touring to packed houses on both coasts and in between.
It’s worth noting that part of that notoriety is owed to the 2012 documentary, Last Days Here (review here), but the band having a back catalog of largely-underrated doom classics has helped them influence an entirely new generation of listeners and artists. It boasts few surprises, but the 43-minute/11-track Curious Volume works well within Pentagram‘s strengths and proves a solid outing that will keep them on the road as they continue to expand their fanbase. One wouldn’t go into it expecting or even wanting much by way of experimentalism, and accordingly, Pentagram deliver on the promise of blending classic doom and Liebling‘s charismatic persona — see “Misunderstood” — and do justice to the band’s decades-spanning underground legacy. Recorded by Mattias Nilsson with additional vocal tracking by Travis Wyrick, it draws together with professional clarity and poise the best of Pentagram as they are today.
In doing so, it bears a significant stamp of Victor Griffin‘s songwriting. Guessing when Pentagram material was written is a trap — they had more than a decade of material before their first album came out — but songs like, “Lay Down and Die,” “The Tempter Push,” “Dead Bury Dead,” “Curious Volume,” “Close the Casket,” “The Devil’s Playground” and the closing “Because I Made It” carry a distinct feel that one can trace back through Griffin‘s work in In~Graved and Place of Skulls to Death Row, so whether the parts are new or old, they’re his. Near as I can tell, the only cut on Curious Volume that previously appeared on a Pentagram release is “Earth Flight,” which showed up on 2003’s A Keg Full of Dynamite live outing (good luck finding it), recorded in 1978, but that’s hardly the only inclusion on Curious Volume with a classic feel.
Following the opening rush of “Lay Down and Die” — which seems to directly acknowledge the notion of a live audience in its lyrics — second cut “The Tempter Push” nods directly at Deep Purple‘s “Strange Kind of Woman.” Its tense intro marked by Campbell‘s steady kick, “Earth Flight” has a classic-style shuffle, and the doomly “Sufferin'” and speedy good-timer “Misunderstood” follow suit. They could be brand new and “Dead Bury Dead” could’ve been written by Liebling or original drummer Geof O’Keefe for Stone Bunny circa 1970, but in terms of feel there’s a fair amount of variety between tracks in their approach — on “Walk Alone,” more rocking, on the title-cut, more morose, and so on — but Griffin‘s best-in-class tone and Liebling‘s vocals both tie the songs together, so that the entirety of Curious Volume remains cohesive across its span, speaking the crowd on “Lay Down and Die,” “Curious Volume” and “Because I Made It” — the opener, centerpiece and closer — but keeping listeners engaged throughout with its quality of craftsmanship and performance.
More perhaps than any other song on Curious Volume, the closer sums up the band’s position. “Because I Made It” finds Liebling and Griffin both on the other side of addiction struggles, each party very much in need of the other, and while I won’t downplay the role Turley‘s low-end plays in setting the heavy vibe of “The Devi’s Playground” or “Dead Bury Dead,” or the job Campbell does in stepping into the drummer role right before entering the studio, no question the focuses for most listening are the vocals and guitar. As much as anyone can in doom, they have made it. With Last Rites, the question going into it was whether or not Pentagram would be able to carry a full-length record across after seven years and a yet-again revamped lineup.
On that level, Curious Volume is an even more difficult record to make, because unlike its predecessor, the simple fact that it’s coming out doesn’t automatically stand it up as a triumph. It’s fortunate, then, that Pentagram have been able to sustain the momentum from their live shows and bring that energy and presence to the recording. The reflecting point of view of “Because I Made It” — in some ways, it and a couple of the other songs here seem to be retelling “Amazing Grace” — feels justified, especially given the context of Last Days Here, and the band make their victory through the classic doom that Pentagram helped to shape. No question that spectacle is a factor post-documentary, but there’s nothing one could reasonably expect of a Pentagram record 30 years after Relentless first surfaced that Curious Volume doesn’t deliver.
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 27th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
If you know the record at all, it’s likely you already have the CD, but even if not, Bee and Flower‘s What’s Mine is Yours was released in 2003 on Neurot. It’s remained something of a curio since then in the Neurot discography, but in terms of the actual listen, it’s a deceptively rich experience, brightly experimental and melodic, but cohesive throughout and organic sounding in what was a moment right on the cusp of when that kind of thing actually started to matter. 12 years later, the material retains its individual identity. What’s Mine is Yours has just been reissued by Inherent Records as a 2LP, and to my knowledge it’s the first time it’s been out on vinyl.
The PR wire has it like this:
BEE AND FLOWER “WHAT’S MINE IS YOURS” 2X VINYL REISSUE
Bee and Flower and Inherent Records are pleased to announce for first time available on vinyl, the reissue of the band’s debut release, What’s Mine Is Yours,which originally was released on CD in 2003 on Neurot Recordings. Spanning the band’s discography of three albums, several singles, EP’s, films scores and compilation tracks, What’s Mine Is Yours has remained a personal favorite of the band and its fans for years. Here’s a vintage music clip directed by Josh Graham (Soundgarden, Sleep, Florence & the Machine, Neurosis, etc).
The vinyl comes as a 2XLP at 45 rpm w/ digital download. Included on the reissue is “Dust and Sparks,” a bombastic and terrifying track recorded at the original sessions at Martin Bisi’s BC Studios, but not included on the CD release. Newly mastered, the song is included as the final track on side D. Vinyl mastering was done by Doug Henderson (micro-moose studios Berlin) whose clients include Blonde Redhead, Swans, Antony and the Johnsons, and more.
Pressed at a limited quantity of 250 units, a very limited number of copies will have shards of the original silk lantern whose image graced the album’s cover. The lantern lived in singer/bassist/songwriter Dana Schechter’s apartment in Brooklyn and until its near disintegration, has illuminated, over the years, the same walls where the original cover photo was taken. The “Limited Edition” packages are provided at a first come, first served basis. There will be no additional reserves available and they can not be duplicated, ever.
BEE AND FLOWER was founded in New York City in 2000 by singer-songwriter, bassist, composer and producer Dana Schechter — who recently released the full length debut from her current project “Insect Ark — with Original members Roderick Miller, Lynn Wright, Jon Petrow, and Ani Cordero while a recording / touring member of Micheal Gira’s (Swans) band Angels of Light.
The band released three full-length studio albums, a split 10″, a 7″, two feature film scores, various compilation tracks, and two fully animated music videos. Collaborators in studio & stage have included members of Angels of Light, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, Swans, Calexico, and more. The core band moved from NYC to Berlin, from 2004-2008.
Side A 1) I Know Your Name 2) Twin Stars 3) Wounded Walking Side B 4) Riding on Empty 5) Let it Shine 6) On the Mouth Side C 7) Something Good 8) Carpenter’s Fern 9) Dupe Side D 10) This Time 11) Dust & Sparks * (*unreleased track)