Colour Haze, Tempel (2006)
Wherever you might lie on the political spectrum, it seemed important to me to close out this week with something radiating love, and in the decade since it came out I’ve yet to put on Colour Haze‘s Tempel and hear or feel anything else from it.
One doesn’t generally think of a band’s eighth album as being a particularly landmark moment in their progression. By the time most acts get that far — and make no mistake, most acts don’t — they’ve probably settled into their sound or at least solidified their processes to a point where they’re kind of on autopilot, even if that autopilot involves a natural growth pattern. For Colour Haze, it was different. The Berlin trio’s seventh outing, their 2004 self-titled (discussed here) had served as a stunning follow-up to the preceding 2001 double-album, Los Sounds de Krauts, and thrust the band to the fore of what seems in hindsight to have been a nascent movement of heavy psychedelia they’d spearhead both aesthetically and through the contributions of guitarist/vocalist Stefan Koglek‘s label, Elektrohasch Schallplatten. The challenge before them was how to answer the warmth and the expanse of the self-titled without repeating themselves, losing the ultra-organic sensibility that made that outing such a joy, or sacrifice songcraft in the process. No small task.
I remember getting Tempel as a fan of the band, putting it on, hearing “Fire” for the first time and immediately knowing they’d done it. From the gentle opening of the winding “Aquamaria” (also the longest track on the album; immediate points) down through later liquefication of “Ozean” and the harmonized finale “Stratofarm,” Tempel presented a vision of psychedelic heft that seemed to need neither but fed off both. The chemistry between Koglek, bassist Philipp Rasthofer and drummer Manfred Merwald was all it needed to convey this — underscoring the point of just how special a group Colour Haze had become. To listen to “Mind” or “Gold and Silver” or the memorable instrumental title-track, they bring forth a varied approach that ties together with fluidity that few beyond Colour Haze can claim to have matched in the years since, classic in style but perhaps even more so now sounding fresh and like something that was genuinely new. One could hear shades of their earlier and more strictly desert rocking work in the later thrust of “Gold and Silver” and the subsequent shuffle of “Earth,” which follows, reminding of records like 1999’s Periscope, 2000’s CO2 or 2001’s Ewige Blumenkraft, but even these are met with shimmering organ and/or a depth of tone that were a definitive forward step even from where Colour Haze were two years earlier.
A couple weeks ago, I was having an email back and forth with someone whose opinion I greatly respect, and the conversation turned to Colour Haze. My thoughts were simple: People still don’t know how incredible this band is. I genuinely feel that way. As much as Koglek, Rasthofer and Merwald have helped to influence a generation of European heavy psych, played a large role in establishing what those words mean when placed in succession, they’re still somehow underrated. Their progression would continue from Tempel on through 2008’s spectacular All, 2012’s much-delayed but glorious 2LP She Said (review here), and late-2014’s surprise outing, To the Highest Gods We Know (review here), the touring for which also resulted in earlier-2016’s Live Vol. 1 – Europa Tournee 2015 (review here). I haven’t heard from them in a bit, but I wouldn’t be the least surprised if they had new stuff in the works for next year or 2018 as well. They never seem to stop, which of course is another part of the appeal. One hopes that if they keep going perpetually, they’ll finally get the recognition they deserve.
As always, I hope you enjoy.
Hug someone you love. Pet your dog or your cat. Write something on the internet. Smoke what you smoke. Drink what you drink. Eat what you eat. Do whatever you have to do to get by. I don’t really want to say much about politics in this space. Somehow I’ve become increasingly wary of doing so over the last couple years. When I was at The Aquarian I wrote a political column every week, often little more than a 700-800 word rant about something pissing me off. I was younger, and drunk. Apart from these posts, which have become half-personal update, half-music (not that music’s not personal), I don’t do that here, or really on Thee Facebooks either.
What I will note is that this election affected me on a personal and emotional level in a way no presidential contest has done in my 35 years. The anxiety beforehand — for months beforehand — and the shock and sadness at the result have been much, much deeper than I expected them to be. I’m actually a pretty political guy, comparatively. I keep up on issues, news of the day, who’s doing what and so on to the best of my ability. This isn’t the first time I’ve ever paid attention. But yeah, it’s been like nothing I’ve ever felt before, even during the Bush/Cheney years. Of course, as a straight white male, it ain’t like the Supreme Court’s coming to take away my rights or like my healthcare is less secure — though state funding for public higher ed., in which The Patient Mrs. works and from which our insurance comes, is more of a question in an arena of increased privatization and budget slashing — but there are people I love whose lives will change directly for the worse because of what happened in my country on Tuesday night. I have a niece whom I worship and adore who will enter her formative years under a president who has openly bragged about sexually assaulting women, and yes, that hurts. It should hurt.
That’s all I’ll say about it. For now. If shit goes full-on 2006-levels-of-despair, I may need to establish some kind of rant space around here just so I don’t lose my fucking mind. We’ll see.
Here’s what’s in the notes for next week. Subject to change:
Mon. – Full album stream/review of the new Borracho.
Tue. – Season of Arrows track premiere.
Wed. – Ice Dragon‘s new single reviewed.
Thu. – EYE‘s new album reviewed day before release.
Fri. – Full album stream/review of The Munsens.
That’s where we’re at for now. I have a couple fest writeups to work on as well, so will be busy over the weekend one way or another. But I’ve also got my best friend up from NJ for the next couple days, and I got my Playstation 4 Pro yesterday and a demo of Final Fantasy XV that I’m looking forward to digging into further, and The Patient Mrs. is very likely buying a new car today to replace the one that died en route to The Obelisk All-Dayer in August, so yeah, there’s kind of a lot going on. My sister also had a special birthday yesterday, which I’ll note because I love her deeply and was sorry to not be there for it. She’s also in Jersey, along with the rest of my family.
You should also know that revisiting Tempel has been inspiration enough to re-load the complete Colour Haze catalog into my iTunes — it’s been there previously but was removed; software stuff; long story — so I expect that will be a good portion of the weekend’s fare as well, which can only be to the benefit of the next few days.
I hope whatever you’re up to you have a great time and that you stay safe.
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