Review & Track Premiere: Summoner, Beyond the Realm of Light

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on April 27th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Summoner-Beyond-the-Realm-of-Light

[Click play above to stream ‘Into Oblivion’ from Summoner’s Beyond the Realm of Light. Album is out May 12 on Magnetic Eye Records.]

As they approach a decade of making music together, Boston four-piece Summoner bring forth the album which all that time seems to have been building toward. One can quibble on the “decade” figure depending on when they got going under their original moniker, Riff Cannon, but what’s undeniable is the mindful songcraft and crisp delivery across the two sides of Beyond the Realm of Light, released on Magnetic Eye Records as their third full-length. The basic elements at play aren’t all that different from what Summoner offered on 2013’s Atlantian (discussed here) or even their 2012 debut, Phoenix, but from the patience they bring to the post-rock textures early in “Skies of the Unknown” to the crushing roll in the apex of their near-eight-minute title-track, there’s a mature sensibility underlying this material that steers itself away from self-indulgence.

Instead, what bassist/vocalist Chris Johnson, guitarists A.J. Peters and Joe Richner and drummer Scott Smith conjure is a dynamic and efficient six-song/32-minute run that never stagnates and never overwhelms the listener with its technicality — though, as ever, Summoner tear it up; check the solo in “Into Oblivion” to confirm — at the cost of the impact either of a given track or the record as a whole. They pull together a brisk full-album flow that’s not overthought or hyper-cerebral, and while some will hear the initial vocal melody of opener “New Sun” and the subsequent “The Huntress” and compare them to Elder for their locality and proggy bent, Summoner emerge from Beyond the Realm of Light as their own entity driven by their own motivations toward their own ends.

That in itself is significant, as is the fact that Beyond the Realm of Light arrives four years after Atlantian, which itself came only one year after their debut. Summoner have played shows all the while, and no doubt a good portion of “real life” happens in a four-year stretch as well, but as “New Sun” and “The Huntress” unfold the okay-are-we-all-here-good-let’s-do-this-thing beginning of the album, the band displays a growth in their songwriting that simply can’t be faked. At four and five minutes, respectively, the opening duo are a pivotal introduction — not to mention a third of the tracklist, which is only six songs, remember — to where Summoner are at this stage in their tenure, and though they’re energetic and given to a thrust that’s long been present in their sound, the band themselves don’t actually sound hurried or like they’re in anything but total control of their direction.

In the sphere of modern progressive heavy rock, post-Baronesstodon, that’s important, but more so is the balance with which Summoner execute their prog influence, and the rocking start of “New Sun” and “The Huntress” leading into the longer, grander title-track is essential in establishing that. It affects the whole album following, so that when they do begin to unroll “Beyond the Realm of Light” itself, with its measured drum march, far-back echoing clean-sung verse and stomping largesse, the effect is that the palette is gracefully expanded rather than haphazardly thrown together. Summoner push further, and further still as “Beyond the Realm of Light” digs into a quick atmospheric midsection before resuming its roll toward a piano-topped apex and subsequent ambient epilogue, but because they’ve shown such mastery of their songwriting up to this point, there’s no question about the listener being able to follow them on the drifting fadeout that ends the record’s first half.

summoner

If there’s a narrative at work in Beyond the Realm of Light, one finds it growing richer on side B along with the band’s sound, a resolution perhaps in the melodic hook of “The Emptiness,” the multifaceted push of “Skies of the Unknown” and aforementioned bring-it-all-full-circle closer “Into Oblivion” that complements and builds on what the band accomplished with “New Sun,” “The Huntress,” and the title-track. One doesn’t want to speculate on their methodology in piecing the record together, but part of the front-to-back flow that proves so resonant across this still-brief span is a perceptible deepening of the exploration side A began.

To wit, “The Emptiness” is short at just over four minutes, but offers one of Beyond the Realm of Light‘s most engaging moments in its chorus, and the longer “Skies of the Unknown” seems to answer the title-track’s purposes with the winding course of its own, led as ever by the guitars through purposeful shifts in tempo and texture through its 6:42 that draw together the nuance thus far displayed and at about 4:30 in align them toward the solo crescendo of the album as a whole, which pulls back to the NWOBHM-style gallop and hook to finish ahead of the introductory crash of “Into Oblivion,” continuing the momentum with fist-raising righteousness. A last forward shove in “Into Oblivion” makes a fitting way to tie Beyond the Realm of Light together, but even this is just a part of the overarching and more complex trajectory Summoner have set for themselves.

Accordingly, when they hit into the last solo and around again through one last verse and chorus before a somewhat sudden, thudding stop, the sense of determination isn’t lost. It’s not that Summoner couldn’t say more or couldn’t keep going — Atlantian was 43 minutes, Phoenix 49 — but that they’ve come to know what best serves the purposes of the outing’s entirety, and the length of Beyond the Realm of Light becomes another aspect emblematic of that; less immediate than the progress they’ve made in songwriting or honing a flow between a given song’s parts and between the songs themselves, certainly, but important nonetheless. On the whole, Beyond the Realm of Light finds Summoner a more grounded, more engaging band than they’ve ever been, but among the most encouraging signals it sends is that even as they enter this new stage of their time together, they show no signs of slowing their creative development, and it is ultimately that will toward growth that defines them.

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Sasquatch Premiere New Single “Rational Woman”

Posted in audiObelisk on April 18th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

sasquatch

Sasquatch will release their new single, Rational Woman, on June 7 via Red Sun Records. The Small Stone Records veterans are still officially based in Los Angeles despite having guitarist/vocalist Keith Gibbs and bassist Jason “Cas” Casanova having traveled across the country to record at Mad Oak Studios in Allston, Massachusetts; also home-base for Craig Riggs, the vocalist for Roadsaw who came aboard as a conveniently-located-on-the-opposite-coast drummer following an apparent split with Rick Ferrante (currently working with Aboleth) sometime since the fourth Sasquatch long-player, IV (review here), came out in 2013. The fact that it’s been four years since IV hit might have something to do with Rational Woman coming together, but whatever the motivation, new Sasquatch is invariably a win for anyone who likes their grooves locked in, their fuzz extra hairy and their hooks surgically implanted on their brains and ready for repeat listens.

That’s basically how “Rational Woman” — already I can’t get Gibbs‘ “She don’t like me anyway…” out of my head — finds Sasquatch operating. Another motivation for the single? This summer marks the second time in two years Sasquatch will head to Europe for a tour, and with slots booked at Stoned from the Underground,sasquatch rational woman SonicBlast Moledo and Red Smoke ahead of a return to the States and a gig lined up at Psycho Las Vegas in August, it’s all the more occasion to make it happen on the back of a new release, even if it’s just a two-songer. It’s not like anybody showing up at one or another of the above festivals is going to complain about new Sasquatch, and particularly with the careening central riff that provides the thrust of “Rational Woman,” the band is quick to let their audience know all cylinders are firing and they’re ready, as ever, to kick ass on any stage that thinks it might be able to contain them.

To that end, I expect Sasquatch will announce more European tour dates as we get closer to the summer, so keep on keeping an eye out for that. In the meantime, Rational Woman, which also features the B-side “In My World,” is set for a one-time-only pressing of 500 copies and available to preorder now from Red Sun Records through Bandcamp (linked below). I suppose the only real question is if there will be any copies left by the time the tour starts.

You can find the premiere of Sasquatch‘s “Rational Woman” on the player below, followed by more info on the release courtesy of the PR wire.

Please enjoy:

Sasquatch on “Rational Woman”:

We’ve never done a 7” before. At some point last year I was feeling nostalgic and remembered the glory days of the Sub Pop Singles Club. I’m not sure if it’s the smartest thing to do, but I wanted to jump off that bridge and put one out, just to say we did it once. Flashback to the year 2014, we ended up in Barcelona on a whim thanks to Red Sun. First time in Spain. We were rookies. I think Red Sun was just getting off the ground back then, but Marc and Lane, the couple who run the booking agency/label, were the nicest, most down-to-earth people. Showed us all of the local spots. They took good care of us and since that trip we’ve kept in contact regularly. Definitely feels like extended family whenever we get to see them. We knew that we wanted to do something exclusively for the Europe tour this summer, and Marc and Lane were the first that came to mind. We asked, and they were actually cool with the idea, so here we are, together… teeing off 2017… 45s or bust.

The Rational Woman 7” will be limited to a one-time print of 500 copies on black vinyl. Grab a copy before it’s too late because once they are gone, they are gone for good!!

Barcelona-based Red Sun Records will be exclusively releasing the album worldwide on June 7th. Pre-orders start today. Get it here: redsunrecordsbarcelona.bandcamp.com.

Track Titles:
Side A) Rational Woman
Side B) In My World

Sasquatch
Keith Gibbs – Guitar/Vox
Craig Riggs – Drums
Jason Casanova – Bass

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Review & Full Album Stream: L’Ira del Baccano, Paradox Hourglass

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on April 17th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

l'ira del baccano paradox hourglass

[Click play above to stream L’Ira del Baccano’s Paradox Hourglass in its entirety. Album is out now on Subsound Records.]

Roman heavy instrumentalists L’Ira del Baccano made their studio debut in 2014 with Terra 42 (review here), as a follow-up to their summer-2013 live offering Si Non Sedes iS …LIVE. It’s important to keep in mind as one makes their way through their second studio long-player, Paradox Hourglass, that the band’s roots are in playing live, and that when it came to what they wanted to put out into the world first, it was a live album rather than something more polished. Issued through Subsound RecordsParadox Hourglass is that something more polished, but it still maintains its core of live performance beneath its progressive overtones, and across its evenly-split two sides, four tracks and 39 minutes, guitarist Alessandro “Drughito” Santori, guitarist/synthesist Roberto Malerba, bassist Ivan Contini Bacchisio and drummer Sandro “Fred” Salvi don’t sacrifice one sensibility in emphasis of the other.

While Paradox Hourglass brings forward a proggier mindset than did Terra 42 — something the band credits in part to a Rush influence and I’m not inclined to argue — it keeps its tonal edge and strips away nearly 20 full minutes of runtime, so that the material is not only vinyl-ready, but all the more efficient in making its stylistic point known without lingering. That in itself isn’t to be understated as a recognized step forward for the band, as it shows an editorial mindset developing alongside these progressive tendencies, which is something all the more crucial for a group whose sound is only growing richer.

As to the origins of the title, it’s obviously harder to say without any lyrics to work from, but it’s another evocative element from L’Ira del Baccano, which seems to find its core in the partnership between Santori and Malerba. The two weave layers of riffs and synth and effects fluidly around each other throughout Paradox Hourglass, and while ultimately there isn’t much about the record that one might consider a paradox — that is to say, they’re not making it hard to figure out where they’re coming from or purposefully melding together disparate sonic elements — the new stage their approach has reached is plain to hear from the start of 11-minute opener. And, if we’re looking for clues as to where SantoriMalerbaBacchisio and Salvi are coming from this time around, it is telling that the first piece of the two-parter title-track is subtitled “L’Ira del Baccano,” eponymous to the band itself.

Across its span and that of the complementary eight-minute “Paradox Hourglass – Part 2: No Razor for Occam,” the band touch on psychedelic melody without losing their real-world footing tonally or their underlying crunch of riff. Salvi‘s drums hold together the proceedings as they no doubt did the jams that birthed them, but whether it’s the departure-to-drift in the second half of “Paradox Hourglass – Part 1: L’Ira del Baccano” or the guitar scale-work fleshed out by layers of keys and effects swirl in the follow-up, a sense of control remains prevalent in their approach. The digital version of Paradox Hourglass presents a 19:42 bonus track that brings these two pieces together as one entirety, and while there’s still an audible break between one part and the next, hearing them in that form only highlights the nuance developing in L’Ira del Baccano‘s sound and the manner in which the band is drawing from multiple sides as they stomp and roll their way through movements tied to each other through rhythmic flow and conceptual consistency.

l'ira del baccano

Side B brings a like-minded pair of tracks, also 11 and eight minutes, respectively, that push the aesthetic somewhat further out. “Abilene” leads off with a bit more patience than “Paradox Hourglass” and more of a psychedelic flourish to its beginnings, and unfolds to a blend of desert-style riffing and the progressive course-setting that the first half of the record had as its foundation — the notion that L’Ira del Baccano know where they’re headed even if they’re keeping it a surprise from their audience. They settle into a mid-paced chug at about two minutes into “Abilene” but have more spaciousness to offer from there, and the theremin-infused (or theremin-sounding, anyhow) reaches in which they wind up are perhaps the most satisfying stretch Paradox Hourglass has to offer in terms of immersing the listener in a hypnotic flow, pushing gradually toward an apex that brings together both sides — the breadth and the crunch — on the way to a clean, purposeful finish.

At 8:06, “The Blind Phoenix Rises” ends out with no less clarity of intent than its predecessor, synth and guitar once more working together to cast an impression both psychedelic and progressive. At about 4:45, there’s a turn toward straightforward riffing, and it seems like L’Ira del Baccano made a conscious decision at that point to let loose a little bit in the studio. No complaints. The uptick in tempo from the first half of the track is welcome and though to close out they fall back into the “chorus,” such as it is, the moment of airing out a more rocking impulse is welcome as an answer to the riff that started “Paradox Hourglass – Part 1: L’Ira del Baccano” and makes as fitting an end as one could ask.

They stretch a couple seconds of silence to get over the eight-minute mark, but with the clear drive toward symmetry, one is inclined to give that ground in service to the presentation of the album as a whole. With Paradox HourglassL’Ira del Baccano are less marking their arrival than they are establishing the path they want to take as a group, but the prevailing vibe toward direction is something of a landmark for them nonetheless, even if that landmark is in the shape of an arrow pointing toward the next one. I still won’t venture a guess as to what the overarching paradox here is, though, because from where I sit, it sure seems like L’Ira del Baccano have it all figured out as to who they want to be and what they want to accomplish as a band.

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Avon Premiere New Single “Six Wheeled Action Man Tank”; UK/EU Tour Starts April 26

Posted in audiObelisk on April 14th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

avon

Desert rock trio Avon begin their next round of tour dates in the UK and Europe on April 26. Anytime you can write words about a group like, “features former members of Kyuss/Queens of the Stone Age/Yawning Man,” that’s a noteworthy opportunity not to be missed, but Avon — which in addition to drummer Alfredo Hernandez, who played in the three landmark acts above at one point or another (as well as Brant Bjork‘s underrated and shortlived Che), also includes English transplant James Childs (Vic du Monte’s Persona Non Grata) and Waxy’s Charles Pasarell — prove to be more than the sum of their pedigree. Having made their debut in 2016 with the full-length Mad Marco on their own Spira Records, the band mark their return trip abroad this spring with a new single on H42 Records, given the righteous title Six Wheeled Action Man Tank.

Should you ever doubt that the roots of desert rock are in a grown-up version of punk: don’t. The hook of Avon‘s “Six Wheeled Action Man Tank,” catchy and as straightforward as it could possibly be, is a fervent reminder otherwise. Unpretentious in tone and straightforward in its structure, the song and its B-side counterpart, “The Kurgan” (like inavon six wheeled action man tank The Highlander!), both stand at right around three and a half minutes long, both are catchy as hell and neither neglects melody in their delivery of that catchiness. Taken one into the next, they demonstrate how unnecessary tonal trickery is when you have quality songcraft, and whether it’s the garage-style push of “Six Wheeled Action Man Tank” or the warmer vision of grunge in “The Kurgan,” ChildsPasarell and Hernandez give a quick showing of groove and push in these tracks that, while they probably don’t need to do much convincing anyway, should have no trouble lodging themselves in the frontal lobes of their audiences for the coming run in the UK, Germany and Belgium.

That tour, by the way, includes stops at Desertfest London and Desertfest Berlin 2017, and plenty of clubs besides, so while “Six Wheeled Action Man Tank” may or may not actually be about a plastic toy, the three-piece seem to be using it as a standard to live up to as well. Fair enough. May they roll over anything and everything in their path. You know, with rock and roll. Not actually with a tank. That would be weird and probably illegal.

Go ahead and get Avon‘s “Six Wheeled Action Man Tank” stuck in your head by streaming the premiere of the track on the player below. I hear tell they’ll have copies on hand from H42 Records by the time they get to Desertfest.

Comment from Childs on the track and the tour dates follow beneath.

Please enjoy:

James Childs on “Six Wheeled Action Man Tank”:

After getting back from our recent Mad Marco tour, right away we knew that we needed to record “Six Wheeled Action Man Tank” as the song killed it on every show! We are very excited about H42 Records releasing the track on 7″ limited vinyl and super stoked about being invited to Desertfest both in London and Berlin along with 18 more tour dates for us to smash out!

AVON UK & EU Tour Dates:
April 26 The Old Ham Tree Holt UK
April 27 The Greyhound Midsomer Norton UK
April 28 The Old Road Tavern Chippenham UK
April 29 Desertfest London UK
April 30 Desertfest Berlin DE
May 1 Jagerklause Berlin DE
May 3 Schaubude Kiel DE
May 04 Bambi Galore Hamburg DE
May 5 Chemiefabrik Dreden DE
May 6 Ragga Oelsnitz DE
May 7 Black Label Leipzig DE
May 8 Cosmic Dawn Jena DE
May 9 Alltra Chemnitz DE
May 10 Limes Cologne DE
May 11 Gerber 3 Weimar DE
May 12 Rare Guitar Munster DE
May 13 Freak Show Essen DE
May 14 JH Tijl Diest BE
May 16 Radio Benelux Paal BE

Avon are:
Alfredo Hernández (Ex-Kyuss, Queens Of The Stone Age, Che)
James Childs (Vic Du Monte’s Persona Non Grata, Airbus, Little Villains)
Charles Pasarell (WAXY)

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Review & Full Album Stream: The Sonic Dawn, Into the Long Night

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on April 14th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the sonic dawn into the long night

[Click play above to stream The Sonic Dawn’s Into the Long Night in full. Album is out April 21 on Heavy Psych Sounds.]

As a title, Into the Long Night might well stem from the circumstances under which the album was recorded. The second full-length from Danish psychedelic rockers The Sonic Dawn and their debut on Heavy Psych Sounds, the nine-track/36-minute offering follows 2015’s Perception (review here), which was released by Nasoni, and was reportedly written by day and tracked during the evening over the course of a month in an isolated house somewhere by the North Sea. Sounds like a nice vacation, and whatever the circumstances of its making, it’s easy enough to read a sense of isolation into the traditional psych-pop-rock elicited by guitarist/vocalist/sitarist Emil Bureau, bassist Niels Bird and drummer/percussionist Jonas Waaben, however welcoming some of their hooks might feel and however warm their tonality — bolstered throughout by guest Hammond work from Erik “Errka” Petersson (Siena Root) and solo vibraphonist Morten Grønvad — might otherwise be.

It’s a deceptively complex front-to-back trip, as The Sonic Dawn fluidly shift between late-’60s pop, mid-’70s fusion and more modern strains of retro-minded heavy, but in answering the potential of their debut, the three-piece craft a style of familiar elements that is immersive and decidedly their own, relying on a jazzy sensibility in Waaben‘s drumming that on a given track might pull them into Doors-style chaos, as with “Numbers Blue,” or propel a howling psych/kraut exploration like the earlier “On the Shore.” Wherever they go in this expression of varied influences, The Sonic Dawn hold fast to their own stylistic voice, resulting in a palpable spirit of progressiveness that never gets lost in its own meanderings.

That’s not to say it doesn’t meander. Indeed, that becomes part of the appeal. Beginning with a not-sure-it’s-necessary 33-second “Intro” wash of keys and psychedelic vocal melody before the clean guitar line of “Emily Lemon” gently unfolds the first of Into the Long Night‘s friendly, groovy impressions, the vibe is one that lets BureauBird and Waaben go where they will and they take full advantage with an underlying sense of glee. The opener, such as it is, “Emily Lemon” shifts into guitar soundscaping to close, leading to the jazzier bounce and further atmospheric drift of the aforementioned “On the Shore,” but even when they freak out, which they do a bit on the subsequent organ-laced rocker “As of Lately” — prime fodder for a lost 45 from ’66 and, “Intro” aside, the shortest inclusion at 2:45 — they keep firm control of their direction. Of course, this has its ups and downs, as there are moments where a listener might want them to let loose a bit, but as they round out side A with the longer “Six Seven” (5:07), the prevailing spirit is one of being consciously driven, and that holds true for the preceding three-plus cuts and the four still to come on side B as well.

the sonic dawn

The good news is it works for The Sonic Dawn, because they prove to be strong enough in their songwriting to stand up to the demands of the diverse sound they want to create, but even if they’re the ones making their own rules, they’re also the ones playing by them. Even as “Six Seven” moves into the apex of its key-and-flute-inclusive build, having departed at about four minutes in to an insistent and noisy section of free-jazz thrust, the drums still hold a steady beat beneath, and there’s never any danger of the track flying apart as it almost seems like it wants to do. They fade it out at the end and I can’t help but wonder if they might’ve been more duly served leaving the collapse of that jam intact for the listener to be a part of; a warts-and-all moment to share with the band that could only further the honesty of presentation so prevalent in these tracks.

In any case, they proceed onward with side B opener “Numbers Blue,” an upbeat guitar-led figure that would seem to put the pieces of “As of Lately” and “Six Seven” together into a progressive rocker that’s marked out by Waaben‘s tom work no less than the intermittent surges of Hammond or the guitar swirl that emerges in its second half. Here they begin to let go of the reins a bit, but it’s still a quick flash and then gone en route to the three-minute “Lights Left On,” a quiet guitar-key-vocal excursion that effectively showcases Bureau‘s singing, fragile but controlled, and revives the jazzy pulse of “On the Shore” in a fittingly subtle and complementary fashion. Here neither does one find The Sonic Dawn overstaying their welcome. They touch on these ideas, stop in for a quick expression of them, and get out. The exception to that might be seven-minute closer “Summer Voyage,” which is led into by the flowing psych-gaze of “L’Espion” — an execution of two organ-topped builds over the course of four minutes that still has time for backwards echoing at the finish; efficiency! — though with the inclusion of sitar from Bureau and the wandering mood of its ending jam, they’re frankly welcome to stay as long as they like as far as I’m concerned.

With hypnotic shoegaze guitar, background vocals and the sitar included as flourish in such a way that only makes me want to hear more of it from them over the longer term, The Sonic Dawn round out Into the Long Night via the delivery of yet another clear message: that they’re not at all finished growing yet. Carrying outward on dreamy keys (vibraphone?) and guitar on an extended drift, “Summer Voyage” reaches its destination peacefully and evokes a serenity rarely conveyed so well in something that might still fall under the umbrella heading of “heavy.” For what it’s worth, The Sonic Dawn, while operating under their own conventions as far as mood and ambience go, seem less concerned with the structural bounds others might place on genre, and that’s something that already serves them well here and can only continue to as they further their lysergic adventurousness in the years to come. There are moments on Into the Long Night where one wonders how they manage to keep their wits about them, but much to their credit, The Sonic Dawn never waver from their central purpose in progressive and pastoral melodicism.

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Review & Track Premiere: Brume, Rooster

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on April 13th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

brume rooster

[Click play above to stream the premiere of ‘Reckon’ by Brume. Their debut album, Rooster, is out April 20 on DHU Records and Doom Stew Records ahead of a UK tour (info here) including a stop at Desertfest London 2017.]

A dense fog comes to rest over the 51 minutes of Brume‘s Rooster. By the end of the 10-minute opening track, it has settled in despite — or perhaps because of — the pervasive thrust the San Francisco trio have conjured, and it remains a factor for the six-track duration. Fortunately, the three-piece of bassist/vocalist Susie McMullin, guitarist Jamie McCathie and drummer Jordan Perkins-Lewis chose the most capable of navigators, Billy Anderson (NeurosisMelvinsAcid KingSleep, need I go on?), to help guide them forward. Rooster, issued through Perkins-Lewis‘ own Doom Stew Records on CD, tape and download with vinyl forthcoming from DHU Records, winds up not so much getting lost in this fog as inhaling it, plugging in, and riffing out with marked force, thickness and presence.

Their 2015 debut EP, Donkey, was a showcase of promise, and Rooster is a longer one, but in stepping forward to give their building audience a first real chance to take in the scope of what Brume — who got together in 2014 — can and will be as a band, they do not flub the opportunity. With longer pieces “Grit and Pearls” (10:06) and “Tradewind” (11:48) as bookends at the outset and finish, the fervent plod of “Harold” (7:30), “Reckon” (9:13) and the rolling “Call the Serpent’s Bluff” (9:29) between, as well as the penultimate acoustic-based “Welter” (2:55) leading into the closer, Rooster realizes the potential of the prior EP and moves forward with it, successfully melding together influences into what Perkins-Lewis might call a “doom stew” of their own recipe.

For those new to the band, with the airy, soulful melodicism of McMullin‘s voice echoing spaciously over the molasses riffery, one might hear them at first as spiritual successors to the recently-defunct Uzala, but the turns of “Grit and Pearls” immediately widen this impression with rhythmic stops drawn from the post-YOB sphere of cosmic doom and Mike Scheidt‘s particular style of angularity. The key, though, is immersion. By the time “Grit and Pearls” has finished its 10-minute course, shifting from vast plod into quiet atmospherics and back through the faster ending that’s the source of the YOB comparison above, they’ve managed to hook the listener with a repetitive nodding groove. Their sense of pacing and willingness to vary tempos emerges as something of a theme throughout, but Rooster never becomes more monotonous than it wants to be. Monolithic, perhaps.

brume

“Harold” begins by teasing the lighter strum-and-pluck that “Welter” will later bring before crashing in at full weight and unfolding its first ethereal verse, slower and more doomed than “Grit and Pearls” before it — I keep hearing early Cathedral in McCathie‘s guitar progression, but I can’t place it exactly — and they settle into a consuming roll as they move past the halfway point, the last minute of the song being the real point of departure as the central rhythm gives way to feedback and ambient noise with Perkins-Lewis‘ drums behind, a grueling end that perfectly sets up the doom-gone-TwinPeaks-barroom-blues launch of “Reckon.” The third of Rooster‘s six cuts fascinates conceptually as McMullin plays off the country music trope of the cowgirl singing the tale of meeting a mysterious stranger, but instead of a sharp-eyed, all-chin guy on horseback, he’s got a beard and rides a beat-up motorcycle. Nonetheless, the vibe that results makes “Reckon” a standout, as does its more prevalent hook and open-feeling, drum-and-chanting midsection break that swells to an apex with a layered-over guitar lead that recalls “Grit and Pearls” in its intent without necessarily retreading what’s already been done.

It seems likely that “Call the Serpent’s Bluff” will mark the start of the vinyl’s side B after “Reckon” finishes the album’s longer-by-two-minutes side A, and that break between the two songs feels somewhat essential as a factor in the flow throughout Rooster as a whole. That is, the effect of Perkins-Lewis‘ drums returning to start “Call the Serpent’s Bluff” is best experienced with the breath-catching moment provided to the listener by flipping a record. Even the digital version of “Reckon” has a couple seconds of silence at the end, and that feels very much on purpose and very correct. When it gets going, with the rumble of McMullin‘s bass and feedback from McCathie‘s guitar soon enough joining the tom runs to draw the listener into the patient groove, “Call the Serpent’s Bluff” swirls out hypnotic, doomedelic nod, an early lead giving way to more insistent pulse before spacious vocal melody transitions into slower riffing, a quiet introduction of the back-half hook and build back to the crawling, crashing finish recitations, ending with the vocals as a standalone element. That subtle moment of minimalism makes an effective transition into “Welter”; the shortest cut and starkest contrast to its surroundings, sonically if not in overall mood.

Backed by acoustic strum, McMullin echoes the bluesier feel of “Reckon” in another context, surrounded by a flourish of keys for a neofolkish stretch one might relate to Windhand but that serves all the same to further widen the breadth of Rooster ahead of “Tradewind,” which comes to life slowly over likewise quiet strum and cymbal wash before the full heft arrives at around two and a half minutes in to commence a series of loud/quiet tradeoffs that once again find Brume working in a varied structural context even as they reinforce the brooding feel of the record as a whole and offer one last deceptively catchy chorus. The nature of their craft, with a focus on longer songs meting out grueling and at times otherworldly doom, doesn’t necessarily lend itself toward the expectation of hooks, but Brume have a few throughout Rooster, as “Tradewind” duly reminds, and that seems an avenue where the trio might continue to grow as they take the lessons of their debut forward into whatever might come next. Along with the cohesive ambience and fluidity of their presentation on the whole, this underlying foundation of songwriting gives them another tradition to make their own as they begin to do in these tracks.

Brume website

Brume on Bandcamp

Brume on Thee Facebooks

Brume BigCartel webstore

Doom Stew Records website

DHU Records webstore

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Track Premiere: Brown Acid: The Fourth Trip Sampler Megamix by Ben Westbeech

Posted in audiObelisk on April 11th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

brown-acid-the-fourth-trip

It would’ve been really easy for the Brown Acid compilation series to go the way of many, many others in either becoming academic retreads or simply fizzling out. Much to its credit, it’s done neither. Brown Acid: The Fourth Trip, out April 20 via RidingEasy Records, is as the title suggests the fourth installment in the collection focused on the years immediately following the heyday of psychedelia — circa 1970-1975 — which it has alternately called the “comedown era” or, as on the cover here, the “Underground Comedown.”

Whatever the name given, it’s that vision of the early ’70s that we see Johnny Depp as Raoul Duke explain in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: the darker years that followed in the wake of the Summer of Love when the war kept going and distortion got meatier. Brown Acid: The Fourth Trip basks in this vibe in the heavy blues of “Carry Me On” by Headstones and “Oceans Inside Me” by Stone Garden and groups included like Bungi, Axas and Zekes — the latter who are making their second appearance in the series with the eight-minute, cowbell-infused, Leaf Hound-style raw jam “Comin’ Back” at the outset of side B — set up a flow across the 10-track/35-minute LP span that’s as much about feeding one groove into the next as it is giving its audience of the converted among the converted a “betcha never heard this before” challenge. To wit, the full tracklisting:

VA, Brown Acid: The Fourth Trip:
01. Kanaan, “Leave It”
02. Stone Garden, “Oceans Inside Me”
03. Headstones, “Carry Me On”
04. Wrath, “Rock ‘n’ Roll Fever”
05. Bungi, “Numbers”
06. Erving Forbush, “The Train”
07. Zekes, “Comin’ Back” (previously unreleased)
08. Bad Axe, “Coachman”
09. Ash, “Warrant”
10. Axas, “Lucifer”

As ever for Brown Acid, the prevailing sensibility throughout is one of careful curation made to sound like someone’s just putting on rad singles they found one after the other, like a DJ set where the guy actually out-obscures the room instead of just putting on Atomic Rooster‘s “Death Walks Behind You” and desperately looking around for knowing nods of approval. Working in tandem with Los Angeles’ Permanent RecordsRidingEasy sets up these rarities not to show them off as trophy acquisitions, and not as lessons for their audience in the origins of riffs — because damn it, by now the audience for this stuff knows where riffs come from — but as explorations of cool heavy vibes and songs that kick ass.

I’m not even sure how, but Brown Acid: The Fourth Trip manages to be the heavy ’70s “lost tracks” comp that doesn’t come across as self-important or over-inflating in terms of its celebration of its contents. Nobody’s claiming the wah-soaked leads of Kanaan‘s “Leave It” invented anything. Nobody’s shying away from how much Axas‘ “Lucifer” owes directly to Black Sabbath‘s “N.I.B.” All that stuff is right there for the listener to hear. Whether it’s the motor-chug of Wrath on “Rock ‘n’ Roll Fever” (they have pills for it now), or the crotch-thrust boogie of Erving Forbush‘s “The Train,” the progression of songs wants neither in energy nor flow, and that only serves to emphasize the underlying effort put into making this chapter in the apparently-ongoing series. They make it sound easy. One doubts it actually is.

To herald the comp’s arrival — again, on April 20 — RidingEasy and Ben Westbeech have put together a 12-minute sampler platter of what’s in store on Brown Acid: The Fourth Trip, and today I have the pleasure of unveiling the thing, which runs through the included tracks and ties them together with old biker-movie samples (which are not actually featured on the comp itself). You can check it out in its entirety below, followed by more info from RidingEasy off the PR wire about the process of making this beast happen.

Hope you enjoy:

If you thought we were getting close to the end of the Brown Acid series with our last Trip, you were dead wrong…we’re only just getting rolling. The well of privately released hard rock, heavy psych, and proto-metal 45s is deep and we are nowhere near tapped out. Most of these records were barely released and never properly distributed so they ain’t easy to find, but they’re out there if you’re willing to dig…and we aren’t afraid to get our hands dirty. Hard calluses have formed from handling the shovel and we’ve sifted through a lot of dirt, but we’ve dug up another ten tremendous records to share with all the heavy heads out there. This volume brings together eight insanely rare and skull-crushingly heavy 45s as well as two previously unreleased bangers.

You may remember the Zekes’ jaw dropper “Box” from the First Trip. If you don’t, you better go back and refresh your memory, you stoner. That song rips! And so does this previously unheard recording we legally obtained from the Beverly Hills records vaults. “Comin’ Back” is the longest tune we’ve yet to include on this series and it’s a full-on rager! The only surviving copy of this recording came to us on the original 1/4″ master tape from Hollywood’s long-defunct Demars & Duffy Music. We did our best to preserve the recording and we think you’ll appreciate the rawness.

There have been numerous groups named Bad Axe over the years, but the one you hear here is the baddest. This five-piece fresh outta high school kicked out this jam (and a few others) in a Chicago studio in 1973 just for the hell of it. As a garage band, they were previously named The Burlington Express and they went on to be known as Bitch, but these dudes hit their stride as Bad Axe and “Coachman” is their crowning achievement. It went completely unreleased until 2014 when Permanent Records issued it and “Poor Man, Run” as a limited edition 45 with a killer picture sleeve. It’s long out-of-print and only obtainable now on Brown Acid.

The rest of the records included on this volume vary in rarity, but at least two of them were virtually unknown until we discovered them. You’ll win the lottery before you find copies of all of the original 45s in even the best record stores. Many of the records included in this volume are owned only by the members of the bands and some of the band members don’t even have personal copies. That’s just how hard these guys hit it back in the day! We’re lucky some of these guys are still alive and well enough to give us permission to use their masters.

RidingEasy Records website

RidingEasy Records on Thee Facebooks

RidingEasy Records on Twitter

RidingEasy Records on Soundcloud

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The Obelisk Radio Adds: Tia Carrera, Humulus, King Buffalo, Telekinetic Yeti, High Plains

Posted in Radio on April 10th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk radio cavum

You may or may not be overly concerned to find out, but we’re still running on the backup server for The Obelisk Radio while the data is transferred to the new hard drive. Judging by the number of listeners at any given point, you’re not. The numbers are still pretty good. Nonetheless, I cannot express the depth of my appreciation to Slevin for sorting out this mess. I had no idea when I hit him up on a Sunday to be like, “Uh, the stream is down” that it would be a project requiring more than a month of his valuable time. Dude is a godsend. I should send him a cheese basket.

Instead, he gets a zip file with the following releases to add to that temporary stream (they’ll go on the new server as well when that’s operational). Because I am a shitty friend, and because cheese baskets are expensive as hell. Let’s do this.

The Obelisk Radio Adds for April 10, 2017:

Tia Carrera, Laid Back (Frontside Rock ‘n’ Roll)

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It’s been a hot minute since last we heard from Austin, Texas, three-piece instrumentalists Tia Carrera. The last offering the heavy psych jammers had out with a 2013 vinyl edition (review here) of their 2011 full-length, Cosmic Priestess (review here). So upwards of six years, if you want to go by the original release date of what was their second album for Small Stone Records. They reportedly have a new one coming this Fall, so one might think of the nine-and-half-minute single “Laid Back (Frontside Rock ‘n’ Roll),” which was recorded live this past January with the lineup of guitarist Jason Morales, bassist Curt Christiansen and drummer Erik Conn, as a lead-in for that. True, Tia Carrera haven’t been completely absent — they played Psycho Las Vegas in 2016 and one sees their name on various SXSW bills each year — but either way, it’s a welcome studio return from a band who were ahead of the post-Earthless curve that has swelled further out West, and who, despite a kind of raw, garage-style recording here, nonetheless showcase the chemistry and fluidity that separated them from the pack to start with. As the title promises, the jam is laid back, rife with swirling guitar, winding basslines and drumming that, while propulsive doesn’t take away from the languid overarching vibe. They’ve made the song a name-your-price download, so all the better should you be inclined to dig in. And you should be.

Tia Carrera on Thee Facebooks

Small Stone Records website

 

Humulus,Reverently Heading into Nowhere

humulus-reverently-heading-into-nowhere

With nodding groove, fuzzed tonality and, for good measure, flourish of psychedelia, Brescia, Italy, trio Humulus may be working amid familiar elements on their second long-player, Reverently Heading into Nowhere (on Taxi Driver and Oak Island Records), but the results are impeccably constructed. The album, which follows their 2015 Electric Warlrus EP (review here) and 2012 self-titled debut, offers six tracks that carefully balance atmosphere and heft, cuts like “Catskull” digging into classic desert rock sensibilities via the modern European approach of a band like 1000mods while longer pieces like opener “Distant Deeps or Skies,” “Anachronaut” and the 11-minute finale “Rama Kushna” save room for increasingly expansive jamming, the latter the most spacious of all with floating guitar over a satisfyingly warm bass in its midsection leading to an instrumental apex that, while predictable, is no less engaging for that upon its arrival. Even shorter pieces like “The Gold Rush” and “The Great Hunt” find a balance between rolling rhythm and broader psychedelic consciousness, and when guitarist/vocalist Andrea Van Cleef, bassist Giorgio Bonacorsi and drummer Massimiliano Boventi lock into a slowdown, as at the end of “The Great Hunt” or in the Snail-esque “Anachronaut” earlier, the effect is duly massive to fit with the rhinoceros on the album’s cover. Their reverence is palpable, and throughout the 43-minute outing, Humulus make it plain that wherever they’re actually heading, they welcome their audience to come along for the trip.

Humulus on Thee Facebooks

Taxi Driver Records webstore

Oak Island Records on Thee Facebooks

 

King Buffalo, Live at Wicked Squid Studios (6.16.16)

king-buffalo-live-at-wicked-squid-studios

It’s nothing more or less than a live set, but as King Buffalo have already wrapped a round of US touring and were recently announced as support for Stickman Records labelmates Elder on their next European run, it seems only fair to grab the name-your-price Live at Wicked Squid Studios (6.16.16) while the grabbing’s good and consider the four-track/29-minute release a document of their chemistry as a live band as they marked the release of their debut album, Orion (review here), last summer. Not everything they play comes from that record — “New Time” was featured on their 2015 STB Records split with Lé Betre (review here) — but in their tone, breadth and expanse, they represent the full-length all the same. The psychedelic wash of “New Time” leads the way out of opener “Orion” and into a one-two medley of “Kerosene / Goliath Pt. 2,” and they finish by setting the controls for the heart of a nine-minute rendition of “Drinking from the River Rising,” which also closed Orion and proves no less immersive in this setting than it did on the studio offering. I’ve made no secret of the potential that I think resides in the Rochester, NY, three-piece, and as they move further into becoming a touring band, they’re only doing the work of bringing that potential to life. It may be that at some point we’ll look back on Live at Wicked Squid Studios as a kind of primitive beginning — I don’t want to predict where they’ll go or how their sound will continue to develop — but even so, it’s fortunate that we’ll have it to look back on at all.

King Buffalo on Thee Facebooks

Stickman Records website

 

Telekinetic Yeti, Abominable

telekinetic yeti abominable

This shit is like catnip for riff-hounds. Iowan two-piece Telekinetic Yetstoner-march their way into the hearts and minds of the converted and onto the list of 2017’s best debuts with Abominable (on Sump Pump Records), a clean eight-track/41-minute long-player marked out by its tonal thickness and shifts between using it for Sleep-style roll and fuzzier fare, perhaps most directly and efficiently summarized on the single “Stoned and Feathered,” but in fluid proportion throughout cuts like the lumbering “Lightbearer” and the neo-stoner-delic chug of “Beneath the Black Sun” as well. Comprised just of guitarist/vocalist Alex Baumann and drummer Anthony Dreyer — though I’ll be damned if somebody isn’t playing bass on “Electronaut” — Telekinetic Yeti seem to burst out of the gate with a solid idea of who their audience is and what their audience wants, and to their credit, they deliver just that and have been met with a flurry of hyperbole for their efforts. I can’t really argue with the heft or cohesion of the material on Abominable, and the willingness on the part of Baumann and Dreyer to inject some atmospheric depth into the aptly-named nine-minute tour de force “Colossus” and closer “Himalayan Hymn” bodes well for their chances of leaving a mark over the longer term, even if there’s growing to be done before they get there. Still, as their first time out, Telekinetic Yeti‘s Abominable signals a righteousness of intent and wholly succeeds in capturing the attention it plainly seeks. The next few years will write their story, but if these guys take this show on the road, they could indeed turn into a monster.

Telekinetic Yeti on Thee Facebooks

Sump Pump Records on Bandcamp

 

High Plains, Cinderland

high plains cinderland

The story goes that Cinderland was recorded in Wyoming in a refurbished schoolhouse by the duo of ambient multi-instrumentalist Scott Morgan and classical cellist Mark Bridges — working together under the moniker High Plains — and composed very much with that high-altitude, utterly empty landscape in mind. Represented in a pervasive minimalism that makes every swell of volume on “The Dusk Pines” stand out and shifts between piano, cello, guitar, drone and electronics cinematic in their drama like the soundtrack to one of those foreboding Westerns where nobody talks because they’re afraid that if the earth hears them speak it will open up and swallow them whole — which it might — it is an immersive, resolutely melancholy execution across nine tracks and 36 minutes that is likewise stark and beautiful. “A White Truck” and “Hypoxia” carry some nuance of the paranoid, but there’s resolution in “Blood that Ran the Rapids” and “Song for a Last Night” that, like the high desert itself, teems with life while giving the impression of being a void for the lack of human presence. Mood-affecting in its atmospherics, Cinderland draws the listener into this world that is both gorgeous and threatening, and fits itself to the narrative that birthed it with resonance and depth. One hopes it is not a one-off collaboration between the Canadian Morgan and Wisconsin-based Bridges and that wherever their next trip together takes them — go to New Mexico! — they’re able to likewise capture the setting in such evocative fashion.

High Plains on Thee Facebooks

Kranky Records on Bandcamp

 

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