The Top 20 of 2017 Year-End Poll is Now Open!

Posted in Features on December 1st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

top-20-of-2017-year-end-poll the obelisk

The Obelisk’s Top 20 of 2017 Year-End Poll is open! Cast your votes now for up to 20 of your favorite releases from the year and find out which ones make the final list on Jan. 1, 2018!

I say this every year — I know I do — but I feel like I’m especially curious to see what comes out on top when it comes to everybody’s picks this year. There was just so much, and all of it so varied. It was like an onslaught happening all the time from every angle. It never stopped — it’s December and it’s still going on! — and it seemed like no matter what kind of sound you were into, each week brought some highlight offering that could rightly be considered among the year’s best.

Nonetheless, it’s challenge time. Get your list together, dig out those favorite picks, and make sure you’ve got them in the right order because the Year-End Poll only comes around once a year. As ever, we’ll be using a system wherein a 1-4 ranking is worth five points, 5-8 worth four, 9-12 worth three, 13-16 worth two and 17-20 worth one. Raw votes are of course also counted, and the results from both counts will be posted on New Year’s Day, along with all the lists contributed.

I’ll be getting my list together and adding it as well, but whatever hit a nerve with you, whether it was an album, EP, split, single — anything — toss it in and see where it ends up. At very least it’ll be represented when your list is published on Jan. 1!

Maximum participation and sharing is encouraged and deeply appreciated.

Let’s have some fun:

As ever, I can’t thank Slevin enough for helping to put this all together, and thanks to you for reading and taking part in this ongoing experiment. I can’t wait to see how this one will turn out.

Look for the results and lists on Jan. 1, 2018!

Tags: , , ,

Pretty Lightning, The Rhythm of Ooze: Blue Liquefaction

Posted in Reviews on December 13th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Pretty Lightning The Rhythm of Ooze

Much to its credit, The Rhythm of Ooze inhabits the fluidity its title implies. Does it even need to be said that the rhythm of ooze is about something that flows? Something malleable to suit a given purpose? Something that can be changed in its direction and manipulated? Think about pouring viscous liquid into a vertical maze and watching it crawl its way toward the end. The 10 tracks of the third full-length from Saarbrücken, Germany, two-piece Pretty Lightning — issued by Fuzz Club Records — works not all that differently. A decade after first getting together, the self-recording/self-mixing duo of Christian Berghoff and Sebastian Haas embody a psychedelic and loosely progressive take on heavy blues rock, chic like Black Keys and geared at times toward a similar-feeling idea that they might at some point make skinny white people dance — “This Machine is Running” might do the trick if anything ever could — but more expansive ultimately than most indie-minded rock is willing to let itself be, stretching into a lysergic hypnosis of effects and an immersive swirl that, indeed, carries the audience smoothly from the top of that maze to the bottom.

As they follow-up 2015’s A Magic Lane of Light and Rain (on Cardinal Fuzz and Sound Effect Records) and their 2012 debut, There are Witches in the Woods (on Fonal Records), their sense of command is strong, but that does nothing to undercut the playfulness of arrangements like that of “Rainbow Fantasies,” with its interwoven layers of effects-soaked guitar and jingling bells, or the inclusion of organ on opener “Thunder Mountain Return” that complements the bounce of that 7:42 track that bookends with 7:57 closer “Born to Snooze” as being nearly twice as long than the bulk of what occurs between. To go with versatility in terms of the elements at play, Pretty Lightning offer a ready juxtaposition of tempos, showing early stomp as the quicker “Willow Valley Blues” picks up from the dreamy beginning “Thunder Mountain Return” uses to ease the listener into the record and sets itself to establishing the subtle momentum that pushes through one song and into the next among the eight shorter, three-to-four-minute pieces sandwiched by the start and finish.

Also much to The Rhythm of Ooze‘s credit, it does not lose its underlying sense of cohesion while engaging this fluidity. There’s no secret to accomplishing that — it’s the songwriting. Haas and Berghoff don’t necessarily lean overly hard on the making of hooks, but even the backwards loops and soloing near the end of “Tangerine Steam” — which lead, suitably enough, into the more percussively-forward “Loops” — provide a memorable impression, and when they do want to elicit a chorus, they’re certainly more than able to do so, as songs like “Willow Valley Blues,” “Loops,” the swaying title-track, “This Machine is Running” and the penultimate “Moles” demonstrate. This notion of craft meets and lives comfortably alongside the shifts in approach on display across the 45-minute span of the album, as well as the psych-blues aesthetic that at times listening can make one feel like they’re in a beer commercial. But good beer. Not some shitty macro.

pretty lightning

Pretty Lightning, in other words, offer style and substance with their oozy rhythm, and the dynamic turns Haas and Berghoff hone throughout are not to be understated. To wit, “Thunder Mountain Return” seems in its first minute to set up a hypnotic loop of plucked and echoing banjo, hypnotizing the listener as a subtle wash of effects builds up behind, and it ends with that same progression — mirroring the bookending nature of the record as a whole — but the back and forth conversation between shoegazing patience and get-up-and-move begins as soon as the shove of “Willow Valley Blues” starts, and that is immediate.

It’s almost a call and response from there from one side to the other: “Tangerine Steam” channeling Dead Meadow while “Loops” basks in some of the most satisfying movement-based fuzz I’ve heard since Elvis Deluxe‘s woefully underappreciated Favourite State of Mind LP; “The Rhythm of Ooze” finding some middle ground between the two sides to lead into the more energetic “This Machine is Running” which gives way to the instrumental exploration in “Rainbow Fantasies” and “Pale Yellow”‘s rambling technicolor-cowboy drift; “Moles” once again reviving the swagger before “Born to Snooze” purposefully leaves its structure behind and sets out in its second half on one final exploration that will ultimately bring the album to an improvised-sounding and willfully imperfect end of synth and drums. These changes can be drastic but are easily followed with the mindful direction provided by the band, who do little to play to the novelty rawness indulged by some duos and instead take full advantage of a laudable creative range.

One more aspect to the album’s credit? The tones. I noted above aspects of shoegaze at work and the fuzz of “Loops,” but it’s only fair to emphasize the point of how much work the consistency of tone and the depth of tone does to unite the material throughout The Rhythm of Ooze. Tone is a key ingredient, and along with the vocal echo manipulations, it is what lets so much of Pretty Lightning‘s bluesy pulsations carry a psychedelic aspect as well. By giving the record this sense of fullness, they’ve made it all the more enticing a listen, and though they take risks in terms of setting up the contrast of tempos, tone is as much a factor in holding everything together as is the foundation of songcraft beneath the stylistic interplay.

The Rhythm of Ooze does not come apart and does not separate into its constituent aspects despite refusing to hold its shape, and Berghoff and Haas not only make their way through the maze they’ve set before themselves, but they do so without once getting lost along the way or veering off course. As such, their third long-player is a neo-psych collection brimming with purpose and fueled by a clear enthusiasm for its own making, passionately executed but not rushed even at its most active, and only stronger on the whole for the diversity and the chemistry so obviously at its core.

Pretty Lightning, The Rhythm of Ooze (2017)

Pretty Lightning on Thee Facebooks

Pretty Lightning on Bandcamp

Fuzz Club Records website

Fuzz Club Records on Bandcamp

Tags: , , , ,

Mark Deutrom to Reissue The Silent Treatment in February

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 13th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Well, when Mark Deutrom signed to Season of Mist back toward the end of this summer, in addition to a forthcoming new album set for a tentative Fall 2018 release, there was some discussion of reissues in the works. I guess there’s no place to start like the beginning when it comes to that kind of thing, so off we go with a catalog revisit that by the time it arrives in February will look back 17 years to 2001’s The Silent Treatment, which was Deutrom‘s debut solo offering.

I’ll admit to having missed it the first time around, so as far as I’m concerned this is a cool chance to catch up to Deutrom‘s back catalog, and as someone who’s very much dug his recent work with Bellringer, that’s something I’ll look forward to. Feb. 9 is the release date, and Season of Mist is streaming the track “The Hobnail Paisley” ahead of that now. One can hear some shades of what Masters of Reality were doing around that time in some of the all-growed-up heavy/desert style, but of course Deutrom, even then, had a sonic personality of his own.

From the PR wire:

mark deutrom the silent treatment

MARK DEUTROM announce ‘The Silent Treatment’ reissues

MARK DEUTROM, the prolific musician from Texas and former MELVINS member has announced a reissue of his debut album ‘The Silent Treatment’. The critically acclaimed album will be reissued worldwide on February 9, 2018 as an expanded edition, featuring artwork and a bonus track. Pre-orders for the album are available now at the Season of Mist E-Shop.

MARK DEUTROM is streaming a track off the multi-faceted ‘The Silent Treatment’. The track, a blues-inspired rock song titled “The Hobnail Paisley” is streaming now, here.

The cover art and track list for ‘The Silent Treatment’ can be found below.
Track list
1. Toshiro Mifune
2. The Hobnail Paisley
3. El Morocco
4. One Thousand Delights
5. Chihuahua
6. Coffinmaker’s Complaint
7. Fat Hamlet
8. The Hottentot Venus
9. Borehole
10. Your Necklace
11. Revelator
12. A Catastrophe
13. Honey Drop
14. Gateau d’Amour
15. Van Diemen’s Land
16. Candlelight and Wisteria
17. OKC (Bonus Track)

MARK DEUTROM will release his 6th solo album via Season of Mist. More information about this new album will be available in the weeks and months to come.

https://www.facebook.com/markdeutrom
https://www.instagram.com/markdeutrom/
http://www.markdeutrom.com/
https://som.lnk.to/MarkDeutromSilentTreatment
https://shopusa.season-of-mist.com/band/mark-deutrom
https://www.facebook.com/seasonofmistofficial
https://www.instagram.com/seasonofmistofficial/

Mark Deutrom, “The Hobnail Paisley”

Tags: , , , , ,

Seedy Jeezus Premiere “Communication Breakdown” Video; New 7″ Available Now

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 13th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

seedy jeezus photo barry c douglas

In what will reportedly be a series of seven-inch offerings, Melbourne heavy psych rock trio Seedy Jeezus today issue a new single featuring a cover of Led Zeppelin‘s ‘Communication Breakdown.’ Born out of a languid jam between guitarist/vocalist Lex “Mr. Frumpy” Waterreus, bassist Paul Crick and drummer Mark Sibson, the new recording comes paired with “Bad Girl,” which was originally tracked for the band’s first record and never released. So basically it’s something brand new and something older and they’re both still new. Best of all worlds.

To mark the occasion — did I mention this was happening today? like, right now? okay, good — they’ve got a video together for the languid four-and-a-half-minute “Communication Breakdown” that pairs live shots of the band with manipulated footage from the 1967 Roger Corman movie The Trip, in seedy jeezus communication breakdown vinylwhich we see a drugged-out Peter Fonda running around basically looking for what in a clever twist turns out to be a Seedy Jeezus show. Very nice, gentlemen. I see what you did there. That’s a good bit of fun, but the highlight of course is the track itself, and as one awaits news of the next Seedy Jeezus long-player — which will hopefully arrive in 2018 amid however many 7″s the trio end up putting out — their take on the classic from Zeppelin‘s 1969 self-titled debut still manages to emphasize the personality of the Aussie outfit itself and how easily they make their way between straight-ahead aspects of heavy rock and trippier fare.

The numbers on the single are super-limited for those who’d chase down a physical version — the one with the obi strip, for example, is an edition of 50 — so if you’re hemming and hawing about picking one up, that would seem to be the wrong way to go. That’s not me trying to tell anybody how to live their life; I just don’t want to see you miss out if you don’t want to miss out. That’s all.

I’m thrilled to host the premiere of the “Communication Breakdown” video, which you can watch below, followed by more info on the 7″, how to get it, and of course the links to do so if you so choose.

Please enjoy:

Seedy Jeezus, “Communication Breakdown” official video

We are dropping a 7″ this Thursday. A cover of “Communication Breakdown.” The recording evolved from a spontaneous jam at Studio One B in Melbourne, and was recorded by Dave Warner. Lex went home and recorded some vocals on the jam and then it was handed to Tony Reed (Mos Generator) to mix and master at Heavyhead in Port Orchard. So we thought wed drop it to vinyl and threw “Bad Girl” (a track left from the debut album) on the other side. Tony engineered “Bad Girl” as well.

There will be only 50 Deluxe 7″ with an exclusive colour of vinyl, tarot style insert, Obi, insert poster and Stickers, and a Standard version of 7″ record, and insert.

Thursday midday these will be available for sale. Official Launch will be Friday Week at the B.East with Grasshole. So keep Dec. 22 free.

You can buy the 7″ and select the pick up at gig option to save postage.

Released on Blown Music in Australia and available from www.seedyjeezus.com until sold out.

Seedy Jeezus on Thee Facebooks

Seedy Jeezus on Twitter

Seedy Jeezus on Instagram

Seedy Jeezus website

Blown Music on Thee Facebooks

Blown Music website

Tags: , , , , , ,

Drive by Wire Announce Spellbound Album Details; Preorders Available

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 13th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

drive by wire danyel weideman

Netherlands-based heavy rockers Drive by Wire are set to release their new album, Spellbound, on Feb. 23. You might recall it was very nearly a year ago the four-piece announced they had signed to Argonauta Records and unveiled the single “Blood Red Moon” (posted here) in order to showcase where they were at coming off of their 2015 outing, The Whole Shebang (review here). The results were encouraging, and though I haven’t heard it yet, I’d expect no less from Spellbound when it arrives, as the band are no strangers when it comes to capturing a desert-style vibe with a marked impression of their own in their songwriting.

I was about to say “one more for the most-anticipated-for-2018 list,” and add them to that section of my notes, but it turns out Drive by Wire were already in there. Go figure.

Details and whatnots from the PR wire:

drive by wire spellbound

DRIVE BY WIRE, “Spellbound” cover-art and preorders

Dutch Desert Rockers DRIVE BY WIRE reveal cover art-work and track-list of their highly anticipated new album “Spellbound”.

“Spellbound” is a new massive effort of the band, a big step forward after celebrating their 10th year of activity with the recent reissue of the critically acclaimed album “The Whole Shebang”.

Drive By Wire are able not only to focus their sound into the best Heavy Rock tradition, yet also to blend it into an original and unique proposal made of psych interludes, desert vibes and bluesy attitude.

While you can already have a taste of it by the “Blood Red Moon” single, the band is currently working on a new video-clip.

DRIVE BY WIRE “Spellbound” will be released on CD edition by ARGONAUTA Records and available from February 23rd, 2018.

LP edition out via Minstrel Music.

TRACK-LIST:
1. Glider
2. Where Have You Been
3. Mammoth
4. Apollo
5. Blood Red Moon
6. Superoverdrive
7. Van Plan
8. Lost Tribes
9. Devil’s Fool
10. Lifted Spirit
11. Spellbound

Drive By Wire are:
Vocals/ Guitar: Simone Holsbeek
Leadguitar: Alwin Wubben
Drums: Jerome Miedendorp De Bie
Bassguitar: Marcel Zerb

https://www.facebook.com/drivebywireband/
https://twitter.com/drivebywire
https://www.instagram.com/drivebywireband
http://www.drivebywire.nl/
facebook.com/argonautarecords
www.argonautarecords.com

Drive by Wire, Spellbound album teaser

Tags: , , , , , ,

Dark Buddha Rising to Release II EP March 23

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 13th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Experimentalist conjurers Dark Buddha Rising have been lurking in the recesses since the 2015 release of their latest full-length, Inversum (review here), which was also their debut on Neurot Recordings and sixth album overall, but they’re back from the abyss on March 23 with a new two-songer that seems to be setting itself up as a sequel to their 2007 debut, I. Suitably titled II, it’s a proposition that leaves one wondering just how the group will relate the two records with such a span of time and so many other outings between., however, I’ll say that whichever way they go, I like the fact that they relate it to a gravitational slingshot, because, you know, Star Trek IV and all that.

“Admiral, there be whales here!”

Indeed, Mr. Scott. Indeed there be.

A vision of a darker future promised by the PR wire:

dark buddha rising ii

DARK BUDDHA RISING Opens A Portal With Their Latest Release II Set To Drop Via Neurot Recordings This March

Prepare your mind, body, and the deepest recesses of your soul: the black gates that DARK BUDDHA RISING unlocked a decade ago with I, open further in 2018, as the band announce the II EP, due for release via Neurot Recordings on March 23rd, 2018. II continues to traverse spiritual planes, exposing a vortex with their sonic calls from beyond.

For ten years, the Finnish band has convened in the now-famous Wastement studio space, set below their home city of Tampere, Finland, to roil in the sounds of the underground, to meet dark spirits, to breathe in time with rhythmic pulses sent from the skies, the stars, and the very dirt around them.

On the surface, the band emits the blackest of psychedelia. Deep down, their sounds are forged in the blue fires of the ancients; exhalations of gods, goddesses and demons alike. Of this new offering, V. Ajomo notes, “To drain our sonic temple, we wanted to record the new material which was made for 2016 shows in order to proceed towards the unknown with open minds and hearts. After the cleansing, we initiated our chamber with ambient meditation and opened the portals of inspiration for our future work.”

II sees DARK BUDDHA RISING return to its purest incarnation: J.Rämänen on drums, P. Rämänen on bass, and V. Ajomo on guitar, J. Saarivuori on synths and M. Neuman on main vocals. “We have done a full cycle of the orbit and now is the time for gravitational slingshot towards the new dimensions in sound, deliverance and vision,” says Ajomo.

The EP’s A-side was recorded and mixed in Space Junk Studio by K.Nyyssönen and B-side was recorded in Wastement by DARK BUDDHA RISING and mixed by S. Tamminen.

It has been two years since DARK BUDDHA RISING found a home amongst kindred spirits at Neurot Recordings, who released Inversum, the first album recorded in the band’s Wastement home AKA “the asylum of eternal feedback.”

II will be released on CD and vinyl formats via Neurot Recordings. Preorder info to be released in the new year. Stand by.

II Track Listing:
1. Mahathgata I
2. Mahathgata II

DARK BUDDHA RISING Live:
12/13/2017 Klubi – Tampere, FI

http://www.darkbuddharising.com
http://www.facebook.com/dbrising
http://www.twitter.com/drkbuddharising
http://www.neurotrecordings.com
http://www.facebook.com/neurotrecordings
http://www.twitter.com/OfficialNeurot

Dark Buddha Rising, European Tour Trailer

Tags: , , , , ,

Gypsy Sun Revival Release New Album Journey Outside of Time

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 12th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

gypsy sun revival

Some changes from Texas-based heavy psych rockers Gypsy Sun Revival since they made their self-titled debut (review here) last year via Nasoni Records. The band has become a five-piece with the addition of vocalist Mario Rodriguez and organist Tyler Gene Davis, and as they return with their second full-length, Journey Outside of Time, and a new recording helmed by Kent Stump of Wo Fat and mastered by wizard-of-all-things-psych John McBain (ex-Monster MagnetKandodo/McBain, etc.), those changes are apparent in the flourish even of relatively straightforward cuts like album-opener “Cadillac to Mexico,” let alone the later immersive trippery of the eight-minute “Pisces (Part 1).” Either way you go, there’s plenty to dig into.

And plenty to dig about it in the digging. Also pressed to vinyl by NasoniJourney Outside of Time is streaming in its entirety now via Gypsy Sun Revival‘s Bandcamp, and you’ll find it, of course, at the bottom of this post. I even used the big embed so you don’t scroll past by mistake.

Dig it:

gypsy sun revival journey outside of time

Gypsy Sun Revival – Journey Outside of Time

Blasting through the airwaves to tickle your auditory senses, comes the sophomore release from these Texas psychedelic pariahs. Take a Journey Outside of Time and experience the weirdness that can only come from an unwavering sense of pushing the possibilities of musical instruments. Guaranteed to blow you out of reality into new sonic realms of enlightenment, this is a release that you do not want to miss. Growing on their debut album, this Texas trio has grown into a 5 piece with a new vocalist and organist, and produced a new, refined sound that will open up doors to previously unconscionable auditory ideas. So join the journey and hang on for the ride.

Tracklisting:
1. Cadillac to Mexico 04:54
2. To the Sky 04:13
3. Indigo 05:40
4. Growing Shadows 04:25
5. Pisces (Part 1) 08:07
6. Pisces (Part 2) 06:34
7. Departure 08:53

Engineered and mixed by Kent Stump (Wo Fat) at Crystal Clear Sound, Dallas, TX
Mastered by John McBain (Monster Magnet) at JPM Mastering
Album Design by Robin Gnista

We would like to dedicate this album to the memory of Hans-Georg Bier, founder of Nasoni Records, who was a crucial pillar for this band and a true believer in underground music. He will be truly missed.

Gypsy Sun Revival is:
Mario Rodriguez – Vocals, Hand Drums
Tyler Gene Davis – Organ
Ben Harwood – Drums, Synth
Lee Ryan – Bass
Will Weise – Guitar

https://www.facebook.com/gypsysunrevival/
https://gypsysunrevival.bandcamp.com/album/journey-outside-of-time
http://www.gypsysunrevival.com/
http://www.nasoni-records.com/GYPSY_SUN_REVIVAL_release_Journey_Outside_Of_Time.html

Gypsy Sun Revival, Journey Outside of Time (2017)

Tags: , , , , ,

Monster Magnet to Release Mindfucker March 28; Preorder Available

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 12th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

monster magnet

NJ heavy rock kingpins Monster Magnet will release their awaited new album, Mindfucker, via Napalm Records on March 28, 2018. Preorders are available now for what’s expected to be their last offering through Napalm Records, and their first proper studio outing since Last Patrol (review here) in 2013, though that record was followed by a pair of LP reduxes, 2014’s Milking the Stars (review here), which took on Last Patrol, and 2015’s Cobras and Fire(review here), which gave 2010’s Mastermind (review here) a much-needed weirding out. As to where Mindfucker might be headed in terms of sound, between the band’s more straightforward heavy rock approach and the psychedelic vibes that Last Patrol seemed to revamp in their style, your guess is as good as mine, but if it dares even by a fraction to live up to its title, it would seem Dave Wyndorf and company have some surprises in store.

They were playing the title-track live earlier this year on tour, and you can see a pretty good clip of “Mindfucker” below. Thanks to whoever happened to be filming that night in Leeds.

This just in from the PR wire:

monster magnet mindfucker

MONSTER MAGNET Announce New Album “MINDFUCKER” Coming Spring 2018 via Napalm Records

It’s been more than a year since the first rumors spread about a new MONSTER MAGNET album and that the band was preparing to enter the studio in Fall 2016. During the band’s European Summer tour it finally got confirmed what the fans around the world were so desperately hoping for to be true. Mastermind Dave Wyndorf stated that the long awaited new studio record is going to be (quote) “full-ahead Detroit-style, early 70s, MC5 and Stooges type of rock”. Sounded very promising back then! And now we know… he wasn’t lying!

MONSTER MAGNET puts the pedal to the metal with “MINDFUCKER”, their 11th record. “MINDFUCKER” is different, a step forward and a step back at the same time to the almighty roots of hard rock music, kindled by the unpretentious Proto-punk era. Up tempo, savage in both sound and spirit, “MINDFUCKER” is the real deal! The album has the potential to surprise and to whip up the love for the genre, while still giving the sludgies and stoner freaks exactly what they wish for in a new MONSTER MAGNET album.

“MINDFUCKER” will be released on March 23, 2018 and can be pre-ordered right HERE!

“MINDFUCKER is a fuzzed out, headbangin’ celebration of hard rock and 21st century paranoia” says Dave. “Ten fuel injected, nitro burning tracks of fiery rock ’n roll and garage psych madness, all done Monster Magnet style. It’s also an album that gets right to the point: the world is out of it’s fucking mind and I’m livin’ it….for better or worse. It’s simple, really. In these crazy times I’ve been wanting to just drive my car at 100 miles per hour and howl, you know what I mean? So I wrote songs I can do that with. And with lyrics that don’t deny the times we’re living in. Feels good, feels right. Rock is alive, baby!”

Watch out for further news and new music from mastermind Dave Wyndorf and MONSTER MAGNET!

“MINDFUCKER” track listing:
1. Rocket Freak
2. Soul
3. Mindfucker
4. I’m God
5. Drowning
6. Ejection
7. Want Some
8. Brainwashed
9. All Day Midnight
10. When The Hammer Comes Down

MONSTER MAGNET line up:
Dave Wyndorf (vocals, guitar)
Garrett Sweeny (guitar)
Phil Caivano (guitar)
Chris Kosnik (bass)
Bob Pantella (drums)

http://zodiaclung.com
https://www.facebook.com/monstermagnet/
https://www.instagram.com/monstermagnetofficial/

Monster Magnet, “Mindfucker” live in Leeds, May 23, 2017

Tags: , , , , ,

Telescope, Telescope: Truth and Revision

Posted in Reviews on December 12th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

telescope telescope

It’s a question of timing. We hear a lot about what’s commonly considered the Psychedelic Era, which ran roughly from 1966 to 1970 and could be considered the ground out of which the first movement of heavy rock was subsequently born. The succession isn’t so clean, of course. It wasn’t one right into the next. But trends came and went and different sounds were picked up at different times enough for a narrative to emerge, so that’s what it is. The Psychedelic Era.

Newcomer Barcelona duo Telescope offer a reminder with their three-song debut short release that the story is never quite that plain, and that each detail has the potential to be hiding its own devil. Comprised of multi-instrumentalists Esteban Garós and Luis Pomés — the latter also of Lewis and the Strange Magics — the two-piece have an immediately deceptive modus, rife with aesthetic specificity that seems geared toward capturing the very moment when the British Invasion and the subsequent movement of pop-rock first began to take on psychedelic overtones.

In other words: when The Beatles started smoking pot. There’s proto-lysergic elements at work in Telescope‘s three initial tracks — “With Your Truth,” “Adrift” and “Not Your Game” — but no hint of anything like a bad trip taking place and Garós and Pomés, who also self-recorded while Pomés handled mixing and mastering, never lose the sunshiny pop flair that lies beneath the resonant fuzz of their tones.

The result of this effort may only be 11 minutes long, and it may ultimately lie somewhere between a demo and an EP when it comes to the actual reality of how it will relate to their work going forward — that is, one doesn’t want to read too much into it with the project being so new — but it’s a significant stylistic achievement that nestles itself warmly into a sonic place few bands inhabit or would dare to try inhabit. Telescope do this without snark, without irony, and with a sense of character in their songcraft strikingly developed for it being their first offering.

One might give partial credit as regards that songcraft to Pomés‘ prior experience in Lewis and the Strange Magics, whose twisted take on classic garage rock isn’t entirely divorced from the semi-retroist vibes Telescope bring to proto-psych in these three cuts, but in comparing approaches, the new duo is far less theatrical, and by focusing sonically on the years closer to ’64-’66 rather than ’67-’70, they also position themselves in a fascinating niche as regards how rock and roll began to use the studio itself as an instrument.

telescope

The drums on the straight-off-Help! bouncing closer “Not Your Game” are particularly Ringo-esque and sound recorded live, but along with that and the running bass, there’s a later flourish of synth and the vocal harmonies over top there and the Mellotron that pops up in the swinging “Adrift” speak to what were the very beginnings of studio experimentation that, in just a few years’ time, would produce records like Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Are You Experienced? and The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. That sensibility begins on “With Your Truth,” which opens and is also the longest track (immediate points) at 3:55.

A gentle guitar line swirls in backed by bright-tone fuzz and sets itself to easy-dreaming a quick verse that seems to hop into the volume swell of the hook, with a strut of low end that continues the smooth and crisp groove into the next verse and chorus, after which a short solo takes hold, leading back to the chorus and toward the couple quick instrumental measures that close. It is so forward, so traditionalist in its structure and so sincere and gimmick-free in its execution that one can’t help being swept up by it, and as “Adrift” cleanly takes hold with its opening bassline and the aforementioned Mellotron, the more blown-out vocals over the laid back instrumental progression give a feeling of variety to the EP that is no less subtle than the nuance of their style, Garós and Pomés showing an early chemistry between them in terms of performance as much as writing.

And I don’t know that I ever thought I’d find myself using a phrase like “the tambourine makes it,” but as regards “Not Your Game,” it also happens to be true. It is precisely the kind of touch that lets the listener know just how schooled in what they’re doing Telescope are, which seems all the more crucial their first time out, and it’s one more nod to the pre-psych age that also allows the band to sneak in more modern elements and weirdo touches, giving them, in essence, a familiar foundation on which to build a sound of their own. That they do so with yet another hook of such quality is all the more to their credit, but in line with the cheerful and sunshiny mood of the release overall and the temporal thematic, that quality is an additional aspect tying the EP’s tracks together.

In thinking of how a debut long-player might take shape, it’s important to keep in mind just how tight records from this (that) era were. As “Not Your Game” fades out, one is reminded of strong-handed producers keeping things radio-friendly with editorial tape-cutting and so on. A question Telescope will have to answer for themselves as they move forward from this debut EP is just where they want to put themselves in that balance, and how they can still manage to bring diversity of songwriting to a release while keeping individual pieces to such brevity.

Certainly it’s been done before — that’s the whole point. I’d love to hear Garós and Pomés take on a sentimental ballad, or an unabashed love song, or even the stuff of a mega-catchy toss-off single. There’s so much potential in their debut EP that it’s difficult to imagine the various directions in which they might grow, but they’ve set the task in front of them and they push through this introductory statement in such a manner as to make one think that wherever they end up, it will be a joy to follow along. Here’s looking forward to looking back.

Telescope, Telescope (2017)

Telescope on Thee Facebooks

Telescope on Bandcamp

Tags: , , , , , ,