audiObelisk: Stream Ayahuasca Dark Trip’s “Manantial” from Falling Down IIV Compilation

Posted in audiObelisk on April 30th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

Much continued respect to the French ‘zine Falling Down and the good people behind the compilation series of the same name. The 2010 installment (review here) brought unreleased tracks from the likes of Ufomammut, White Hills and Across Tundras, and the follow-up, Falling Down IIV, expands on the already successful formula, incorporating exclusive collaborations like that between Year of No Light/Mars Red Sky along with previously unheard material from bands like The Flying Eyes, Monarch, Julie Christmas and Mouth of the Architect, among two discs’ worth of others.

What it lacks in proper Roman numerology, it more than makes up for in the diversity of its lineup. The full tracklist can be seen at Falling Down‘s website, and as it just so happens, Falling Down IIV is out as of today, April 30. If you caught the news of its release last year, then you know it’s been a while coming, but hopefully you got to order one of the limited-to-108-copies metal-box Endless Edition (pictured above), which features an extra disc of material from Pelican, Ahkmed, Hotel Wrecking City Traders, Alunah and others, as well as a DVD of performances from AmenRa, Ufomammut, Ethereal Riffian, and more, as well as the original comp itself, which boasts 20 bands from 11 different countries around the world. No small shakes, and I can’t imagine what a pain in the ass it must have been to put together.

In that spirit of diversity and cultural breadth, I’m fortunate enough today to honor the release of Falling Down IIV by streaming a track from the previously On the Radar-ized Ayahuasca Dark Trip, which features members living in Peru, Brazil, the Netherlands and the US. A compilation in and of themselves, the song they’ve donated to the cause is called “Manantial,” and it’s a ritualistic exploration of oozing lysergic psychedelia, subtle but moving all the while. You’ll find it on the player below followed by the release announcement for Falling Down IIV and a couple links.

Please enjoy:

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Falling Down IIV is available for purchase now from the ‘zine’s BigCartel store. The Endless Edition copies sold out on preorder, but the 2CD digipak is still available and limited to 1,000 copies. Full tracklist is posted there or on the comp’s info page, and a YouTube trailer has also been posted. Here’s the release announcement, posted to a Thee Facebooks event page earlier today:

Today is the day. We’re very thrilled to announce that our third volume is now officially released.

We’ve worked really hard everyday since one more year. This new volume contains a lot of amazing bands: we’re really proud to release their new previously-unpublished tracks. We’re still students, and we invested all our money in this volume. We wanted to try to create something unique made by music lovers for music lovers.

If you can, please, support us, this is the perfect moment. You can buy your copy on our BigCartel page. Your help would be truly appreciated.

If you can’t for any reason, please, help us to spread the word to your friends. Do we really need it? Absolutely.

Thanks to all the people who support us since several years! Thanks a lot for your interest!

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Pyramidal, Dawn in Space: The Big Bang

Posted in Reviews on April 30th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

Dawn in Space is the debut release from Spanish double-guitar heavy jam foursome Pyramidal. Issued on CD by Radix Records and limited gatefold 2LP with bonus tracks through Krauted Mind, the full-length mostly follows the guitars of Miguel Angel Sanz and Óscar Soler (the former also contributes synth and the latter the album’s sparse vocals) and like the architecture of the band’s native Alicante, there’s a vague Middle Eastern influence in the psychedelic ranging that works coincidingly with the modern heavy jam mindset. Tonally, even a minor-key cut like “Kosmik Blizzard” isn’t so viscous that it can’t move, and Pyramidal do well throughout to vary the pace and level of activity so as to hold attention for Dawn in Space’s 62-minute duration, or at very least not lull to sleep when it doesn’t mean to be hypnotic. The “chill” effect that a lot of European heavy psych has had to offer over the last year or two – thinking of bands like Samsara Blues Experiment, Electric Moon and their ilk of post-Colour Haze improvisers – comes across quite clearly through some of this material, and at over an hour long, it’s hard to believe that’s not on purpose, but there’s a space rocking musical influence as well to go along with the titles and artwork that comes through Lluís Mas’ drumming and Miguel Rodes’ bass; a sense of forward and outward push. For that, Pyramidal earn their requisite-for-space-rock Hawkwind comparison, but again, Dawn in Space has more going on stylistically than just following Dave Brocke’s chemtrails. To put a point on it, the hidden track that comes on about a minute after closer “Mars Lagoon” ends has more in common in terms of its ethic and execution with Yawning Man.

And though that’s true – maybe it seems like a finer line than some, but it’s also more breadth than one finds in many acts – what’s really going to make any release like Dawn in Space is going to be the chemistry between the players involved. Sanz, Soler, Rodes and Mas give an ample showing in this regard, the patience of the build in the 10-minute “Pastikleuten (Part I & II)” being a prime instance, but it’s pretty clear from the whole of the album that it’s a case of development getting under way and what’s playing out across these seven-plus songs is the beginning stages of what will undoubtedly be a more protracted arc. Still, wah-drenched solos and transitional injections of synth from Sanz have their own appeal, and Pyramidal’s dedication to and strong sense of aesthetic carry them through much of this material, and whether it’s the verses that suddenly appear on the later “Tempel Iaru” or “Black Land,” which follows the brief and swirling opener “Intronauts,” or the longer instrumentals that make up the crux of Dawn in Space, one could hardly listen to the record and not come out of it thinking the band has no idea what they’re doing. Like doom for doomers, it’s heavy psych for heavy psychers, mixed so that Rodes’ bass stands out punctuating “Kosmik Blizzard” as much as the riff it’s feeding into, and so that Mas’ drums never quite leave the ground but never sound like they’re purposefully staying attached to it either, far-miked cymbals coming across naturally. Perhaps predictably, Pyramidal recorded the entirety of Dawn in Space live, and that warmth and vibrancy is there both in tone and performance. The guitars never quite shred, but the leads suit the mood well, and though the midsection of the title-track feels a bit like it’s lost its footing, there’s something about that sensibility that works well with Pyramidal’s overall approach.

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Frydee Death Row

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 27th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

“You can never win/Pay for all your sins.” I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t an interval this slow, unproductive afternoon where I felt like that was exactly my situation. Enough, actually, that the lines occurred to me before I even listened to the song, and it was in looking it up that I found the above clip of Death Row, who would shortly become the revived Pentagram, performing it in Virginia in 1983. If you’ve never seen photos or footage of the band from this era, that’s Victor Griffin (Place of Skulls, now returned to Pentagram) on guitar, his sub-Gene Simmons hair and makeup rife with early ’80s metallic evil.

Frontman Bobby Liebling also delivers a killer performance, and there’s a hiccup later into the video in the chorus, but it’s still well worth checking out. I was stoked to happen upon it earlier this evening, and it proved to be just what the day needed when I did. It’s been a really frustrating couple of weeks at work, and it’s probably best if I leave it at that, so I’ll take the small victories where and when I can get them. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how it is. If you’re reading this, if you’re watching and digging “All Your Sins,” you already know. Fucking Joe Hasselvander rules, and you don’t see much of him in the video, but Martin Swaney‘s bass sounds killer as well.

Today I interviewed former Monster Magnet guitarist Ed Mundell about The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic, his current power trio with Collyn McCoy of Trash Titan and Rick Ferrante of Sasquatch. They’re in the final stages of recording their debut album with Snail bassist Matt Lynch at his Mysterious Mammal Studios. Next week, I’ll have that interview posted (hopefully sometime before Friday at 7PM, unlike the Dave Chandler interview that went up earlier tonight) and a track premiere to go along with it, so definitely stay tuned for that, because it’s good stuff.

Also to come is some audio from the new Falling Down compilation and reviews of Pyramidal, which I wanted to get up today but didn’t end up with the time to give it its due, and Candlemass, among others, as well as the April numbers. Hopefully too the next installment of Tim Catz‘s “70 RPMs” column, which I’m very much looking forward to reading. Thanks to everyone who downloaded the podcast this week. I don’t really know to compare, but I think 120 downloads in five days is a new record as regards that, and especially after last month’s tanked, to have nearly as many downloads in a fraction of the time was pretty cool. Much appreciated.

I’m headed out for most of the day tomorrow, but I’ll still be around for much of the weekend and I hope to catch up on some emails over that time. I’m sorry if you’ve reached out for review or something like that using the contact form and I haven’t gotten back to you yet. There are some old-ass emails in my inbox by now and I wish I had more time to do a better job of keeping up with it, but it gets pretty overwhelming pretty quick.

Last time I started going through, I ended up finding more unanswered solicitations than I even knew I had, so I actually answered a handful and still wound up with more still to go than when I started. Good problem to have though, I guess. Better than people telling me to go fuck myself, or not emailing at all. As things have been pretty quiet around here lately in the comments — that post about me feeling old aside — once again, I’ll take what I can get.

Wherever you are or however backlogged with work you may or may not be, I wish you a great and safe weekend. I’ll see you on the forum and back here Monday.


Buried Treasure: Tlön and the World of Ideas

Posted in Buried Treasure on April 27th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

I seem to recall being in touch with Nasoni Records at one point in my life and reviewing their stuff, but these days, any chance I get to buy Nasoni releases at non-import prices is both a rarity a boon. As I perused the Exile on Mainstream merch area at a certain European fest in the Netherlands a couple weeks back that I think I may have already mentioned once or twice, I was able to pick up a few Nasoni discs without thinking twice, and one of them was the 2010 sophomore outing from Peru/Argentina heavy psych trio Tlön.

Called simply Tlön II, it’s a record that makes its bed on organic low-end warmth. Tlön was founded by drummer Walo Carillo, who was a member of early ’70s curios Tarkus, and so they come by the heavy rocking traditionalism honestly. Joined by Marcus Coifman of Reino Ermitano on bass and principal songwriter Christian Van Lacke on vocals and guitar, Carillo dutifully marches into echoing caverns of groove. Van Lacke is occasionally given to a classic falsetto as on opener “El Banquete De Los Niños” or the acoustic-led later cut “Ave Azul,” and it adds an oddly mystical element to his songwriting, but is never fully cartoonish. It’s just one more way in which Tlön present their ethereality.

The band take their name from the noun-less fictional world in the 1940 short story “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius” by Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges, and sure enough, Tlön II has an otherworldly feel to it. Its 10 songs vary some in mood, but all are presented as though from a distance, and even the doomed pacing of “El Día Aquel” or the crunch in Van Lacke‘s intro riff for closer “50 Siglos” seem beamed in from a sonic elsewhere. I don’t really have a full grasp on the vibe as yet — my sense is that to get one would take more than a little while — but it’s a record I’ve been digging since I first put it on, so I thought maybe I’d recommend it to anyone else who might be interested.

Tlön have two other albums to date: a 2009 self-titled debut and this year’s apparently-vinyl-only Tlön III, both on Nasoni, so if you’re up for it, there’s a bit of investigation to do. To get you started, the band have a track from each record on their Bandcamp, and the label’s site has notes about each release, including the different and varying limited editions of the LP versions, should you want to go all out. If you don’t feel like clicking off, here’s the live version of the band doing “El Día Aquel” in 2010:

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Saint Vitus Interview with Dave Chandler: Now They’re Near the Edge… Let Them Fall

Posted in Features on April 27th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

There are few figures as directly and personally responsible for the growth and progression of American doom metal as Dave Chandler. The guitarist and founding songwriter of Saint Vitus, Chandler‘s primordial riffing and unmistakable tone have endured for the better part of 30 years, and where fads and trends have come and gone around them, Vitus‘ music has existed almost in a vacuum of its own making. No one since has been able to capture the same kind of magic, and plenty have tried.

A European tour in 2009 that included a Roadburn stop brought back together the Vitus lineup that in 1986 released one of doom’s all-time most pivotal anthems, Born too Late. Alongside Chandler once more were bassist Mark Adams, vocalist Scott “Wino” Weinrich and drummer Armando Acosta, and though this same group had reunited in 2003 for a show in Chicago that subsequently was released on DVD, it was clear from the outset that in the intervening six years, something in the climate of the heavy metal underground had changed. It seemed right away that this time it might stick.

Certainly the interest was there on the part of fans and the band. Acosta bowed out following the 2009 touring on account of ailing health that would eventually take his life in November 2010. He was replaced by Henry Vasquez, who’d played with Chandler in Debris Inc., and as a major draw on earlier 2010’s inaugural Metalliance tour with Helmet, Crowbar, Kylesa, Red Fang and others, Saint Vitus not only proved that their doom had not diminished with age, but that it was perhaps the most vital and relevant it had ever been. Fueled by live performances of a song called “Blessed Night,” rumors began to swirl of a new studio album, and with the forthcoming May 22 release of Lillie: F-65 (review here) on new label Season of Mist, Saint Vitus will have their first set of new material since 1995’s Die Healing, long thought of as the swansong of one of metal’s most criminally underappreciated bands.

Recorded by Stone Axe, Mos Generator and HeavyPink multi-instrumentalist Tony Reed — who spoke about the studio process back in DecemberLillie: F-65 plays out like a half-hour lesson in uncompromising. The seven component tracks are a pastiche of miseries that capture not only the classic Vitus tones, but also the mindset that drove the music in the first place. It’s a triumph for the band and the genre alike — just having Vitus back qualifies as such, let alone the fact that the record’s actually good — and Chandler excellently taps the vein of what made his earliest work so landmark without sounding like he’s trying to rehash former glories or doing an impression of someone he used to be.

In the interview that follows, Chandler discusses writing for Saint Vitus for the first time in more than a decade, what went into making the album, the band’s era on Greg Ginn of Black Flag‘s SST imprint in the ’80s, getting back into the touring lifestyle, living in New Orleans as he has for several years now, and much, much more. As he ended our last interview by exploring the possibility of a new record and saying, “I wouldn’t want to be one of those bands who has 50 retirement tours,” in Spring 2012, it seems like Saint Vitus are just getting started.

The complete 3,800-word Q&A is after the jump. Please enjoy.

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Here are Five Reasons I Wish I Went to Desertfest Berlin

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 27th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

True, my existence has been a diseased and stress-filled shambles ever since my return from Europe now nearly two weeks ago, but that doesn’t mean I don’t wish I’d stayed there another week. Quite the opposite. As documentation begins to emerge from Desertfest Berlin, it only seems to underscore how righteous the fest was and makes me even sorrier to have missed it. I found a few clips on the YouBigTruck — oh wait I’m sorry, it’s not a big truck, it’s a series of tubes — that emphasize the point, and figured I’d share in case you hadn’t seen them yet.

For fun, here are five reasons I wish I was there:

1. Greenleaf
Granted, I got to see Greenleaf — the Swede-rock heavy supergroup populated by members of Dozer and Truckfighters — in London, but here’s the thing about it: They were really fucking good. Blindingly so, and another opportunity to catch a set would’ve been greatly appreciated. It’s hard to argue  with “Alishan Mountain,” since it’s one of the catchiest songs I’ve ever heard, and this just looks like good times to me:


2. Wight
As their recorded output proves, the jam-heavy German stoner rockers aren’t messing around when it comes to riff worship, but as righteous as the guitar solo that leads this Desertfest jam is, it’s the bass runs underneath that have me totally hooked. Charm is half of Wight‘s game, and that’s clearly on display here as they jump headfirst into the recognizable blues rocking grooves of “You!,” a demo of which was previously streamed on this very site. This one would’ve been fun to watch live:


3. The Grand Astoria
If I live to be 100, I’ll probably never make it to Russia, and while I don’t know for certain, I’m pretty sure the St. Petersburg four-piece — who seem to be in the process of acquiring a new rhythm section — don’t have any plans to hit the US anytime soon, so this would’ve been a crime of opportunity as much as anything else. I’ve dug both their records that I’ve heard (see here and here), and if this clip is any indicator of the shenanigans they threw down on stage for the duration of their set, hard not to feel like I missed out:


4. The Machine
At this point, what’s a trip to Europe without seeing The Machine? I kept hoping the Dutch natives — whose new album, Calmer than You Are was reviewed last week — would add a show on the sly sometime in the week before Roadburn kicked off, but no such luck, and after seeing them two years in a row on their native shores (or at least at the 013), they only seem to have gotten better as a live act, as this clip of opener “Moonward” from Calmer than You Are proves:


5. Operators
I’ve got their self-titled record on deck for review sometime in the next couple weeks (or months, if my current pace is maintained), and as they’re Berlin natives and I don’t know the band all that well yet, I think it would’ve been cool to check out organ-ized six-piece Operators at Desertfest. If nothing else, there’s six of ’em! That’s like two trios! And part of being at any fest worthy of the name is finding new acts you hadn’t really been familiar with previously, so they probably would’ve filled that role well:

If we’re being honest with each other, there are way more than these five reasons I wish I’d been able to go to Desertfest Berlin, but some you win, some you have to go back to Jersey and spend two weeks staring at your computer monitor waiting for your work to finish itself. I think that’s how the song goes. Credit where it’s due, all these clips were shot by YouTube user MrJdelgadolopez, whose efforts and timely uploading are much appreciated.

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On the Radar: Mamont

Posted in On the Radar on April 26th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

The world isn’t exactly lacking for Swedish groovy retro. In the wake of Graveyard‘s multinational footprint, a shift has taken place in Sweden’s already formidable heavy underground, toward vintage gear and old soul, and while you won’t hear me complain, there’s an element of familiarity amidst the fuzz. For Nyköping double-guitar foursome Mamont, however, there’s a blend with a more modern influence that comes through as well, so that you couldn’t strictly call their first, three-track EP retro any more than you could say it belongs to today’s heavy psych scene. Those elements are there, no argument, but they’re not alone.

Being something of a nerd for Swedish rock in general, I was anxious to check out Mamont‘s first outing, which they have streaming over at their Thee Facebooks, and whether it’s their reinterpretation of Black Sabbath‘s “The Wizard” for the opening riff of “Carnal Desire” or the Witch-esque moan guitarist Karl Adolfsson works into his vocals for “Blind Man,” there always seems to be substance behind the hooks and the by-now recognizable jangle in his and fellow six-stringer Jonathan Wårdsäter‘s riffing. Likewise, “Blind Man” breaks into a natural-sounding jam held firmly together by the rhythm section of bassist Victor Wårdsäter and drummer Jimmy Karlsson, and closer “Crack in the Sky” is even more focused on the instrumental side of their approach, working in a perfunctory verse before putting its head down and jamming out once more.

With so much happening on Europe’s heavy psych circuit at this point and Sweden’s already-noted retro leanings, there’s an interesting blend of sides playing out on Mamont‘s EP, and as it’s the precursor to a full-length reportedly due this fall on Ozium Records, it seems like a good time to get introduced. I wouldn’t be surprised if the album had even more jamming, but either way, it’ll be fun to see where the young band wind up with their explorations. They’re on Facebook, as noted, and Spotify, and they don’t have an embed-read player at this point, but you’ll find a live version of “Carnal Desire” set to still photos in the Vimeo clip below.

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audiObelisk: Adrift’s “Wolves Searching Dams” from Black Heart Bleeds Black Now Available for Streaming

Posted in audiObelisk on April 26th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

After a couple starter splits, singles and EP releases, Spanish four-piece Adrift made their full-length debut in 2008 with Monolito, an album that wore its winding post-Mastodon neo-prog metal influence on its sleeve. The complexity of rhythm and overall extremity finds further push in the forthcoming Alone Records follow-up, Black Heart Bleeds Black, which is darker atmospherically and more conscious of but not modeled after mid-period Neurosis‘ apocalyptic churn. Doomed in mood and guitar-led sensibility, its songs follow progressive structures to vicious ends and offer little hope to those who’d take them on.

More importantly, the overall impression Black Heart Bleeds Black gives is more individualized than was the first record, and Adrift work within a variety of forms that maintain their pummel even as they change the direction from which that pummel comes. Tonally, it’s metal, and I hear a bit of Converge‘s bombast in the screams of “Mallet Man,” but there’s more happening in these songs than any one band comparison can really convey, the two guitars of Macon and Jorge (the latter also vocals) working into and out of tandem stretches with an ease that skillfully undercuts the difficulty of what they’re actually doing.

And where a lot of prog (neo- or otherwise) seems to forgo its sense of songwriting to convey musicianship, even on the trace-state instrumental “Erich Zann Movement,” Adrift don’t lose the human feel to what they do — they’re just reeling back for the next blast, which of course arrives in the form of the 9:48 “Fury Roof.” In terms of giving a concise impression of what Black Heart Bleeds Black does, though, the seven-minute “Wolves Searching Dams” is densely packed with aggression and ambience in kind, relentlessly driven forward by frantic guitars, Jaime‘s drums and Dani‘s bass, as you can hear for yourself on the player below:

Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!

For CD and/or vinyl preorders of Black Heart Bleeds Black, click here. Much thanks to Alone Records for granting permission to host the stream, and to find out more about Adrift, be sure to hit them up on Thee Facebooks or their Something Called MySpace page.

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