Pale Mare Premiere “Voidgazer” from II EP out April 3; Announce Live Dates

Posted in audiObelisk on February 11th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

pale mare

The first time you put on the new single from Pale Mare, it becomes obvious why they chose to name it as they did. Not much else to call such a thing other than “Voidgazer,” which is the title they gave it. The track is shorter by two full minutes than the next shortest of its three compatriot inclusions on the Toronto-based trio’s new EP, Pale Mare II — out April 3 through Seeing Red Records (world) and Ancient Temple Recordings (Canada) — and after the initial charge of “House of War” and the gallop-over-your-head groove in “Zealot,” the intensity and focus on impact feels nothing if not earned. Intensity is the fuel that Pale Mare seem to be huffing, but their pummel isn’t just down to tonal weight and speedy riffs, though as “Zealot” winds its way through its apex, they offer plenty of both. Instead, across the 27-minute EP, Pale Mare cast forth a pummel that harnesses High on Fire-style drive without aping Matt Pike‘s style of guitar playing and calls to mind earlier-Neurosis‘ intertwining vocal patterns without being really at all post-metallic. And not for nothing, but I was listening to a track off the new Sepultura record the other day on a whim and “House of War” kind of feels like there’s a little bit of that going on as well.

But this metallic amalgam has been duly internalized by the trio of guitarist/vocalist Eytan Gordon, drummer/vocalist Kevin Richards and bassist James Tulloch to a degree of surprising individualism. The elements are familiar pale mare iienough, as one might tell from above, and “Voidgazer” has its spoken sample and nine-minute finale “Remains” has its EP-unto-itself vibe and maybe-you’re-imagining-it wisp of a keyboard line worked into its fading guitar finish, but amid the immediate onslaught and the subsequent unfolding across such a compact offering, Pale Mare find footing on ground that’s their own as much as it’s grown up from underlying roots of heavy metal and noise. It is, in its execution, neither and both of these things, and it’s sludge and not sludge, but most importantly, it’s performed with the self-assurance of a band who know that what they’re doing is what they want to be doing. I wouldn’t call it poised, if only because it’s so brash in style that the word doesn’t seem to fit, but in terms of aesthetic, there doesn’t seem to be any doubt on the part of Pale Mare that they’re able to make their songs go where they want, and thus, able to make their audience go where they want. A flash of melody in the guitar during the second half of “House of War” — shh, don’t tell anyone — speaks of more complexity to come, but Pale Mare II already brings plenty to bear, without compromising aggression to do it.

Further, the tendency is to think of a band’s early EPs as preludes to full-length albums — because usually they are — but the form suits Pale Mare remarkably well and gives Pale Mare II an almost punkish edge. I’m not sure they’d be well served by having a bunch of filler or trying to play to a sense of breadth in the way an LP might require, since part of what makes these songs work so well is the upfront manner in which they’re presented, but of course there’s no real way to tell what the three-piece would do with a longer-form record until they do it. Presumably they’ll get there in time, and if they handle that task with the same formidable sense of presence they bring to Pale Mare II, they’ll be fine either way. Anything in their destructive path, however, might not be able to say the same.

Pale Mare have newly announced a stretch of live dates alongside Mother Iron Horse. You’ll find those below, following the premiere of “Voidgazer,” which it’s my pleasure to host ahead of the EP’s April 3 arrival.

Please enjoy:

Pale Mare was born out of the desire to play music that is loud, aggressive and full of thick groovy riffs. They released their self-titled EP in November of 2017 through Medusa Crush Records which was met with high praise.

Having provided Canadian support for touring artists such as Eyehategod, Corrosion of Conformity, Windhand, Satan’s Satyrs, Mutoid Man, Weedeater, Serial Hawk, Black Wizard, King Buffalo, Set and Setting and even Perturbator – Pale Mare have established themselves in their home town of Toronto as a massive force to be reckoned with. Their sound has been likened by some in the same sonic territory as early Baroness, High On Fire, Mastodon and Black Tusk; full of fire, attitude, brimstone, tone and soul – and with a new EP (mixed by Andrew Schnieder, Mastered by Brad Boatwright) ready to be unleashed, Pale Mare prepare to take their sound to the masses full guns ablaze.

Recorded at Locust Ridge studios outside of Kitchener, Ontario.

Mixed by Andrew Schnieder (Converge, Mutoid Man, Ken Mode, Old Man Gloom)
(http://andrewschneideraudio.com/what)

Mastered by Brad Boatright (Sleep, COC, Yob)
(http://audiosiege.com/About/engineers.html)

Inspired by the track “Voidgazer” the EP is completed with jawdroppingly dark and twisted artwork by Toronto based tattoo artist Arthur Mills.

Tracklisting:
1. House of War
2. Zealot
3. Voidgazer
4. Remains

PALE MARE live (April 10-16 w/ Mother Iron Horse):
Friday April 10th: Brooklyn, NY: Gold Sounds
Saturday April 11th: Pittsburgh, PA: Gooski’s:
Monday April 13th: Wichita, KS: TBA
Tuesday April 14th: Denver, CO: Seventh Circle
Wednesday April 15th: Colorado Springs, CO: The Nickle
Thursday April 16th: Las Vegas, NV: TBA
Friday April 17th: Phoenix, AZ: YUCCA TAPROOM
Saturday April 18th: Psycho Smokeout 2020: Catch one: Los Angeles, CA
Sunday April 19th: San Fran, CA: The Knockout
Monday April 20th: Portland, IR: High Water Mark
Tuesday April 21st: SEATTLE, WA: The Funhouse

Pale Mare is:
Eytan Gordon – guitar/vocals
James Tulloch – bass
Kevin Richards – drums/vocals

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Review & Full Album Premiere: Kungens Män, Trappmusik

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on February 10th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Kungens Män trappmusik

[Click play above to hear the premiere of Kungens Män’s Trappmusik, out today on Adansonia Records.]

Ye weary souls in search of psychedelic serenity, look no further than the Trappmusik, the latest in a line of offerings from Swedish explorers Kungens Män. Issued through Adansonia, the seven-song/78-minute affair is a mostly-mellow blissout, well beyond the point commonly reserved for consideration as “manageable,” but who cares when the waters they wade in — or scuttle, since these kingsmen seem to have a thing for shellfish, and, one assumes, puns — are so warm? Take the 15 minutes of utter joy in “Vibbdirektivet,” a directive of vibe that’s not only easy to follow, but an utter joy in the doing, with unashamed guitar shimmer and a subtle rhythmic luster to match.

Its subdued take is enough to make even the snare and fuzz meandering of 10-minute opener “Fånge i Universum” seem active by comparison, topped with cosmic echoes of psaxophone (that’s a psychedelic sax for those who can dig it) as it is, and one supposes that cut is more active in its way, but in terms of general scale, it’s still much more about setting an atmosphere of patient, graceful flow than shoving its way into the vacuum of space. Dug in and jazzy in its spirit, Trappmusik is affecting in the manner in which it unfolds across its span, from that leadoff to the trip-hop-via-krautrock-and-more-sax progginess of the subsequent “Senvägen,” which leans harder on the bassline for more of a nighttime richness but still finds its way into the trance of the 2LP overall.

The album is a kind of semi-departure for Kungens Män, who were last heard from only months ago on Dec. 2019’s Hårt Som Ben (discussed here) — which itself followed Feb. 2019’s Chef (review here), which followed Aug. 2018’s Fuzz på Svenska, which followed July 2017’s Dag & Natt (review here), which followed 2016’s Stockholm Maraton, 2015’s Förnekaren (review here), and so on through a slew of live and studio offerings dating back to their start in 2012 — in that it tips the balance in their sound in this mellower direction, but it doesn’t seem like that should be read necessarily as a statement on the band’s part of some future direction.

Rather, Trappmusik appears to have been recorded during the same session in May 2019 as Hårt Som Ben, at Silence Studio in Värmland, Sweden. The band — a listed lineup of drummer/percussionist Mattias Indy Pettersson, synthesist/programmer Peter Erikson, guitarists Hans Hjelm, Mikael Tuominen and Gustav Nygren, with contributions as well from others — reportedly recorded 13 hours of improvised music over the course of three days with engineer Isak Sjöholm, so indeed Trappmusik as the second may not be the last LP to come from that session, but is less perhaps an indication of intent going forward in terms of the band’s growth than it is a question of how this particular release was whittled down from those expansive recordings.

Its purpose is contained, in other words, and thus the editing of the material becomes an instrument unto itself. The framing. The process of selecting and choosing to highlight moments like the shift from airy guitar adventuring into percussive chill in “Tricksen för Transen” and the folkish keyboard of “Främmande i Tillvaron” — the latter entirely appropriate in its position as the centerpiece; its sunbaked golden hue not only rests smoothly alongside “Vibbdirektivet,” which follows, but gives Trappmusik a manifestation perhaps even more fitting than its own 17:50 title-track, which closes in much jazzier and more generally uptempo fashion — plucking these pieces out from the hours of what was tracked speaks to a sense of meaning behind the sheer construction of Trappmusik itself.

Kungens Män

Inherently it is a record that seeks to tell a story or portray an idea, and that is not only rooted in the traditions of Swedish folk and progressive and psychedelic rock, but in the fleeting ambience of these moments as they’re captured — there and gone, sunlight or moonlight, in the flight of escapist fantasy from the rigors and anxieties of the day-to-day. They call it their “chill out album,” and fair enough, but that doesn’t necessarily encompass the entirety of the mission, and it’s also not as if Trappmusik is only doing one thing for all of its rather considerable span either.

“Senvägen” and “Främmande i Tillvaron” could be different bands for the sonic disparity between them, and though the five-minute bass, guitar, drum mood-setting of the penultimate “Lastkajen” is hardly more than an interlude sandwiched between “Vibbdirektivet” and the expansive “Trappmusik” itself, its purpose in setting up that turn is further evidence of a master hand at work in terms of setting the overarching, grander progression of the album in motion even if the closer is inevitably going to consume an LP side on its own. That would be, presumably, side D, and with a more active bassline, far back toms and a returning saxophone in a suitable bookend to “Fånge i Universum,” the album finishes on maybe its most movement-based note.

The bass and drums bounce, and the guitar and brass seem to engage in a conversation based on mutual far-out-ranging. They go and go and go. It’s still trance-inducing to a degree, but one gets shades more of krautrock than the spaced procession of the opener, and it’s a palpable shift between the two. There’s still some tricky echoes working on the saxophone as it dissipates just before the seven-minute mark and lets the bass take the foreground — it gradually winds its way back and out again en route to the last slow-to-a-stop — but the general impression is more earthbound and less given to float than Kungens Män earlier on.

One wonders if perhaps that’s an indication the next offering will be their jazz record? If so, they’d hardly be the first to realize the connections between improvised psych and jazz, but as they have in the past, they make those connections their own as they round off Trappmusik with that gentle letting go, emblematic as it is of the soul and intention behind the collection as a whole and the underlying consciousness at work in making it. A gorgeous celebration waiting to be celebrated.

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Saturnalia Temple Premiere “Saturnalia Temple” from Gravity LP out Feb. 21

Posted in audiObelisk on February 7th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Saturnalia Temple (Photo by Fredrik Eytzinger)

Saturnalia Temple will release their third full-length, Gravity, through Listenable Records on Feb. 21. Checking in at 48 minutes of dark psychedelic cult heavy that’s alternately stripped to the core and manifesting a melt-brain churn of grim lysergic fluidity, it’s like a check-in from the Other Side on the behalf of the Stockholm trio, who were last heard from on 2015’s To the Other (discussed here and here), donning an experimentalism of substance and style that veers into multiple chasms of the delightfully, almost gleefully strange in songs like “Bitter Taste,” chanting vocals high in the mix over dug-in fuzz and willfully simple drums.

By that point in the record — that’s side B — the trio of guitarist/vocalist Tommie Eriksson, bassist Peter Karlsson and drummer Kennet Granholm have already trod through the soul-wrenching muck of the near-silent white noise intro “Tordyvel,” the deceptively catchy declarations of the eponymous “Saturnalia Temple” — on which Eriksson speaks the truth when he says, “In this temple we go beyond” — the organ-meets-buzzing-tone-and-gurgle-vocals of “Gravity” and “Elyzian Fields,” which I can only liken to F.O.A.D.-era Darkthrone in terms of the peeling back it does of any and all frills in cult doom.

That progression across Gravity‘s first four tracks is, to an extent, staggering in the shifts it presents, not the least because the band — who made their full-length debut with 2011’s Aion of Drakon — are so purposefully entranced by what they’re doing. Think of what Ramesses could do at their most dug-in, or other acts who readily give themselves over to the atmospheres they create. Saturnalia Temple is the vehicle by which, indeed, the band goes beyond.

Saturnalia Temple GravityAccordingly, Gravity is not ha-ha-hee-hee-let’s-write-a-song-about-the-devil cult rock. It’s exploration of sound itself as a ritual. The tones fill out somewhat as “Elyzian Fields” shifts into the 9:57 “Between the Worlds,” which is arguably the most liquefied of the inclusions here, building up slowly as it does into an extreme psychedelia cast in swirling shades of black set to a popping snare that seems like the only thing tying it to the earth at all. A long fade-out is prescient for what’s to come on the penultimate “Oannes,” but “Bitter Taste” takes hold in the immediate aftermath of “Between the Worlds” with a commanding, doomed severity in its riff and initial forward march, fuzz lead emerging before the otherworldly vocals, which are a far cry from the throaty incantations of “Gravity” and “Elyzian Fields” and the sort of mourning melody in “Saturnalia Temple,” but still fit with the album’s aesthetic overall, which, frankly, would allow for Saturnalia Temple to go just about anywhere and still be trapped in the murk of their own making.

In fact, that’s basically what they do. They create a world of consuming ambience and then populate it with various monsters and threatening figures, so much punishment and viciousness bleeding into the proceedings. “Oannes” brings the organ of “Gravity” back to the fore, but holds somewhat to the chanting style of the track before it, at least at the outset, and then shifts into full-on instrumental trance as it works its way through a solo and a long-fadeout instrumental march that probably could go another eight or nine minutes and be no less effective in sapping the listener of their consciousness. The closer, “Alpha Drakonis,” is something of an answer to “Tordyvel” in that it’s essentially an outro, but perhaps more-there, if that makes any sense.

And if it doesn’t, maybe all the better, since that seems to be the context in which Saturnalia Temple most thrive on Gravity. They dirge their way out on the relatively minimal progression, and it’s as fitting an end to Gravity as anything could hope to be, the statement of their long-goneness already well made in their fuck-with-form experimentation and use of production as another tool to emphasize the amorphousness of their sound, their ability to shape it to what they want it to be, whether that’s pure aural rot or a roiling ocean of bleak tonal currents. One way or the other, Saturnalia Temple give their audience a glimpse at the “beyond” to which they’re going. Whether or not a given listener is up to making the trip there themselves, one suspects, depends on the individual.

Can you open your heart and let decay in?

Find out with the premiere of “Saturnalia Temple” below. More PR wire info, preorder link for Gravity and tour dates follow:

Tommie Eriksson on “Saturnalia Temple”:

“Saturnalia Temple is a song that sums up everything we are on all levels. It is a true keystone for all we stand for. The lyrics is an invocation of the alchemical initiation that this band expresses, and the hypnotic riffs echo this with a vengeance.”

Saturnalia Temple TO RELEASE NEW ALBUM ‘GRAVITY’ IN FEBRUARY 2020

Preorders: https://www.shop-listenable.net/fr/149_saturnalia-temple

TRACKLISTING:
1. Tordyvel
2. Saturnalia Temple
3. Gravity
4. Elyzian Fields
5. Between The Worlds
6. Bitter Taste
7. Oannes
8. Alpha Drakonis

SATURNALIA TEMPLE – European tour with WOLVENNEST and DREAD SOVEREIGN.
21/2 – Rotterdam – Baroeg – NL
22/2 – London – The Dome – UK
23/2 – Paris – Gibus – FR
24/2 – Aarburg – Musigburg – CH
25/2 – Vienna – Escape – AU
26/2 – Krakow – Zet Pe Te – PL
27/2 – Berlin – Nuke Club – GER
28/2 – Oberhausen – Helvete – GER
29/2 – Brussels – Ancienne Belgique – BE

Saturnalia Temple is:
Tommie Eriksson – Vocals, Guitar.
Peter Karlsson – Bass.
Kennet Granholm – Drums

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High Tone Son of a Bitch Premiere “Wicked Threads” from New Compilation Lifecycles

Posted in audiObelisk on February 6th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

high tone son of a bitch

You know the origin story of High Tone Son of a Bitch, right? It’s complicated and full of ups, downs, love and loss and all that other deeply human-type stuff. A life story, as it were. The band revitalized circa last year and spent much of the ensuing return period getting their lineup situated and getting their feet under them in terms of stage presentation, but they had a wealth of material to draw from in that regard that went even further than what actually ever saw proper release. On March 20, Tee Pee Records — which also stood behind brothers Paul and Andrew Kott for Kalas‘ lone studio album — will issue Lifecycles: EPs of HTSOB, a new compilation of songs that span the original era of the band from 2002 through about 2005, preceding Andrew Kott‘s death in 2007.

High Tone Son of a Bitch have two four-trackers currently available. Their Better You Than Me originally came out on CD through Shifty Records in 2003 and though Velocipede was recorded in 2004 it didn’t actually see proper release until 2018 when they put it up on Bandcamp. Last June brought the new single Death of a New Day / Eye in the Sky (discussed here) that was the band’s first proper offering in 16 years and preceded a stop at the opening night of thehigh tone son of a bitch lifecycles eps of htsob inaugural Desertfest NYC (review here) at Saint Vitus Bar. I don’t know how much if any of that material will be included in Lifecycles when it comes out, but there was still plenty more of stuff recorded that apparently never made it to the public, and thus we have the arrival of “Wicked Threads.”

As to what the original plan for the song might have been, I couldn’t say, but with a militaristic snare and wistful guitar and mellotron lines at the outset, the song sets an immediately brooding spirit. Gritty vocals arrive in emotive fashion and give direction to the arrangement, which remains dramatic if not theatrical in such a way as to pull back from the central regret being expressed. The title refers — no, not to your new jeans — to part of a concept that encompasses the entirety of the three-song progression from which the track comes. It’s not as immediately aggressive as they were on stage when I saw them last Spring or as noise-rocking as some of their other material is, but “Wicked Threads” gives some sense of High Tone Son of a Bitch‘s atmospheric resonance and the general breadth of what they used to do. Part of the story, much like this release itself is a part of their overarching narrative.

When it comes to what they’ll do next, however, I’ve no idea. I don’t know if they’re actually signed to Tee Pee or if there’s a new album or another EP or something else brewing, or to what or where their tour plans might take them and when, but even as they look back with Lifecycles: EPs of HTSOB, they make it clear they’re beginning that cycle anew, and moving forward.

Again, the release is March 20. Some more background follows the track below.

Please enjoy:

Paul Kott on “Wicked Threads”:

The Wicked Threads EP is a concept album that spans the past 12,000 years of human history in three songs. It examines the impact of the emergence of class systems, including believing in gods and the development of organized religions, priesthoods, rulers and ruled, and economic classes, has had. The song “Wicked Threads” is set in the modern era of late-stage capitalism, in the wake of thousands of years of these systems of control holding sway over humanity. It’s viewed through the lens of my experience growing up in a dead textile mill town called Lewiston, Maine. Many generations of the people of who live and die in these towns all across America and the world have a long history of being fucked over by wealthy elites. Many of these same people (not everyone, mind you), having been exploited, sucked dry, and ultimately abandoned, seem to fawn over and venerate those who are exploiting them, to adore them. There is almost a worship of the idea of a return to the days when the mills were running full steam and the bosses rang bells to tell them what to do and when. It’s like Stockholm Syndrome, to love your captors, love your abusers.

iTunes: https://music.apple.com/us/album/lifecycles-eps-of-htsob/1496428597?ls=1&app=itunes
Apple Music: https://music.apple.com/us/album/lifecycles-eps-of-htsob/1496428597?ls=1
Download: http://amazon.com/dp/B08469W2FX
Unlimited: http://music.amazon.com/albums/B08469W2FX

Originally formed by brothers Paul and Andrew Kott from the ashes of Oakland prog/doom sludge masters Cruevo, and preceding the Matt Pike-fronted Bay Area metal “supergroup” Kalas, High Tone Son of a Bitch (HTSOB) is a “supergroup” unto itself. Since its founding, HTSOB has pulled together members and collaborators from bands like Noothgrush, Kalas, Hammers of Misfortune, Men of Porn, Melvins, Hawkwind, Neurosis, High on Fire, Sleep, Necrot, The Skull, Worshipper and more. When Andrew Kott died unexpectedly in a tragic fall in 2007, HTSOB disbanded – seemingly forever.

Paul Kott revived the band – at the urging of his Latin Grammy-winning nephew Juan Herrera (Andrew’s step-son) – in 2019. Through lineup changes and regular collaborations that have included some of the most important underground musicians of the modern era, Paul has allowed his brother’s inspiration to live on, carrying the psychedelic hard rock and post-doom vision of HTSOB forward – all the while remaining uncompromisingly true to the musical roots the brothers established years ago.

High Tone Son of a Bitch transcends not only genre archetype but death itself, to weave an essential portrait of the dualistic nature of our lives. This retrospective of 4 EPs simultaneously speaks to the fragility and resilience of the human experience as it spans the years covering the formation of the band, its musical growth, the death of Andrew Kott (one of 2 co-founding brothers), and the path to a rebirth and new life in music and beyond by surviving brother Paul Kott.

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Review & Full Album Premiere: Seven Planets, Explorer

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on February 5th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

seven planets explorer

[Click play above to stream Explorer by Seven Planets in full. Album is out Friday on Small Stone Records. Preorders available here.]

Seven Planets‘ third album and first for Small Stone Records, Explorer, is a simple-enough proposition on its face. The West Virginian double-guitar instrumentalist outfit on paper — things like “instrumental” and “West Virginia” — inherently bring to mind Karma to Burn, who are more or less the kings of the form of straightforward, (mostly) sans-vocal heavy rock and roll. But Seven Planets wind up on a different trip with Explorer, and the surface impression is really just the beginning point for what they have to offer on the eight-track/36-minute Explorer, a follow-up to their 2012 self-titled (review here) and 2008’s first LP, Flight of the Ostrich, both self-released. Eight years between records is no minor stretch, but with a recording credited to the band and mix helmed by guitarist Leonard Hanks, joined in the band by guitarist James Way, bassist Mike Williams and drummer Ben Pitt, Explorer‘s tracks by and large carry an easy groove marked by tonal warmth and fluidity between the players.

It may have taken Seven Planets eight years to put a record out, but whatever might’ve been behind that delay — life? — listening to the languid, semi-bluesy nod of the title-track, it’s easy to believe they’ve been jamming all the while. Beginning with “Vanguard,” they bring together elements out of heavy rock riffing and heavy psychedelic immersion, something that, for the first record, I compared to Clutch offshoot The Bakerton Group. The same applies to Explorer at least in the use of Tim Sult-style wah on lead guitar lines, but perhaps to a lesser degree than on the preceding release, since, as Explorer hints in its title, the band seem to be working here to find their own space and sound here in a progressive step forward from where they were those years ago. The drift of “Plain Truth in a Homespun Dress” shows a patience in unfolding its bluesy undercurrent and builds up over its first 90 seconds or so toward a momentary wash before receding again, cycling through with a solo overtop and shifting in its second half to a surprise bit of boogie before, in the last minute, the jam seems to take an improvised turn led by the guitar before coming apart.

That moment is important and feels particularly honest, if somewhat understated. The title-track follows in its own liquefied near-seven-minutes of flow, but the exploratory feeling is palpable at the culmination of “Plain Truth in a Homespun Dress,” and the fact that the band let the song follow its own path organically, even as it dissipates, is admirably honest and speaks to their ethic and lack of outward pretense overall. Not that their material can’t be thoughtful or planned out, as the initial unfurling of “Explorer” itself certainly seems to be, with hints toward prog structures and a spacier thematic as depicted on the Alexander von Wieding album art, but it’s the ability to move in either realm and to subtly shift between mindsets that gives Explorer as a whole its sense of character throughout its relatively brief runtime. As the title cut settles into its funky bounce moving toward the midpoint, with Pitt‘s drums and Williams‘ bass leading the way through the encompassing jam — something backwards layered in — it’s no challenge for the listener to go along with the groove as they make their way to the finish of the album’s longest track.

seven planets

The spirit of the material is nothing but warm and welcoming throughout, and certainly that’s emphasized in the title-track, which gives way to a quicker, solo-laced boogie in “206,” the presumed end of side A, as the two guitars hold sway over the creation of a swirl of effects and a central riff cutting through. Like “Vanguard” at the outset, “206” feels like something of a snippet, but it moves smoothly into “Seven Seas” — the only piece besides the title-track to reach over six minutes — and provides a buffer between the more psychedelic vibe of the two longer stretches when listening to a linear (CD/DL) format; a well-intentioned pickup in energy and momentum that, like the rest of what surrounds, asks little more of the listener than a nod-along. “Seven Seas” is particularly notable as the beginning point of side B as it leads to “Great Attractor,” which — and not just for the inclusion of organ (or organ sounds) lurking in the mix — makes for the most hypnotic one-two dive on Explorer. With the drums still acting as a grounding factor, Seven Planets are never in any real danger of floating away, but their drive toward meandering here and there in the guitars makes the later moments of “Great Attractor” a mirror for “Plain Truth in a Homespun Dress,” even if the ending works out smoother.

Shuffle blues guitar takes hold in the penultimate “Grissom” with a due sense of space, picking up at the end before dropping out and hitting on the beat into the rush of closer “The Buzzard,” which immediately begins the speediest movement on the record. Feeling more plotted than “Grissom” or some of the other material, the finale works around a winding riff with suitable rhythmic push and a summarizing feel in the interplay of lead and rhythm guitar, resolving itself in a last shove that, as they have at several points throughout, cuts away just as it seems to reach a head. Seven Planets never reach the same kind of jammy elevations as, say, their labelmates in Austin, Texas’ Tia Carrera, but neither do they seem to want to. Rather, their melding together of different styles and plays back and forth between constructed and off-the-cuff material and parts — sometimes, it seems, within individual tracks — is a distinguishing factor for their sound and ends up being the basis for much of Explorer‘s personality. Eight years after the first offering, it probably shouldn’t be a surprise to find that Seven Planets have progressed as a band, but they’ve also managed to hold onto the essential instrumental conversation between them that allows those improvisational stretches to shine through.

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Geezer Sign to Heavy Psych Sounds for Groovy LP May 22; Premiere New Track “Dig”

Posted in audiObelisk, Whathaveyou on February 4th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

geezer

Sincere congratulations to Kingston, New York, three-piece Geezer on inking a deal to release their new album, Groovy, on May 22 through Heavy Psych Sounds. I’ve been sitting on my excitement about the record, which is aptly-titled, for more than the last month at this point as they were kind enough to ask me to write the bio for the record, and while I don’t want to say too much about it even now because it’s early heading into the release, it’s their fifth album and it seems to coalesce the jammy impulses they’ve showed across their last couple of releases into pointed, excellently-crafted songs. They show some influence from Brant Bjork — now a labelmate — and by no means let go of those jammy impulses, but using them as a means to grow and move forward. Progress, people. I’m talking about progress.

They’re seven years out from their first record and growing. Not every band can say that.

“Dig” — of which I have the pleasure of hosting the premiere below — opens the record and lays it all out for you. Geezer. Groovy. “Dig.” This is a band stripping it down to the most essential components.

See? I’m getting ahead of myself.

More to come, stay tuned. I’m not wrong to be excited about this album. And we didn’t even talk about the cover art! Blacklight poster immediately!

Announcement from the PR wire, along with the bio I wrote:

geezer groovy

Geezer to Release New LP, ‘Groovy’, May 22

Underground New York Power Trio Signs with Heavy Psych Sounds Records

Preorder link: https://www.heavypsychsounds.com/shop.htm#HPS131

Kingston, New York acid rock band Geezer has signed with Heavy Psych Sounds Records (Brant Bjork, Nebula, Mondo Generator). The cosmic blues unit will release its new LP, ‘Groovy’, on May 22 via the Rome-based independent record label.

Known for its fuzz-fueled, groove-driven psychedelic blooze, Geezer’s sound has been described as “an application of psychedelic sensibilities” that draws inspiration in equal parts from Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters, to Bad Brains and Black Flag. Formed in 2014, Geezer has enjoyed a steady ascent over the course of multiple releases and a robust live show that has helped the group develop a following both in the U.S. and abroad, while sharing the stage with High on Fire, Acid King, Nebula, Earthless, Ufomammut and more.

“Geezer has been honored to work with some of the best record labels in the underground rock world. That being said, one look at the roster of Heavy Psych Sounds and it’s easy to see why they are the right label for us right now,” says the band in a statement. “Whether it’s legends of the genre like Brant Bjork, Nebula and Yawning Man, or a new generation of bands like Black Rainbows, Ecstatic Vision and Duel, Heavy Psych Sounds reputation speaks for itself. Geezer is looking forward to earning our place among these titans of the riff. Inhale the groove, keep it heavy. Dig.”

A first taste of what the new Geezer LP holds in store can be heard now as the band streams the new song “Dig.”

Track listing:

1.) Dig
2.) Atlas Electra
3.) Dead Soul Scroll
4.) Awake
5.) Groovy
6.) Drowning On Empty
7.) Slide Mountain
8.) Black Owl

Produced by: Pat Harrington
Recorded and Mixed by: Matthew Cullen
Asst. Engineers: David Daw & Robert Kelly
Recorded at Darkworld Studio, Kingston, NY
Mastered by: Scott Craggs
Album cover by: Ryan Williams (A Subtle Difference Design)
Photo by: Monik Geisel

Pre-order ‘Groovy’ AT THIS LOCATION. Heavy Psych Sounds Records is distributed in the USA by All That Is Heavy and Forced Exposure.

Geezer are:
Pat Harrington – Guitar/Vocals
Richie Touseull – Bass
Steve Markota – Drums/Percussion

Jeff Mercel: Keys on “Awake” & “Groovy”

https://www.instagram.com/geezertown/
https://www.facebook.com/geezerNY/
http://geezertown.bandcamp.com/
heavypsychsoundsrecords.bandcamp.com
www.heavypsychsounds.com
https://www.facebook.com/HEAVYPSYCHSOUNDS/

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Review & Full Album Premiere: OZO, Saturn

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on February 4th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

ozo saturn

[Click play above to stream Saturn by OZO in its entirely. Release is Feb. 7 on Riot Season Records. Preorders here.]

It seems fitting that OZO should make their debut roughly concurrent to scientists unveiling the highest resolution to-date images of the surface of the sun. The Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK, three-piece are ostensibly led by guitarist/bassist Mike Vest, known for his drone plunge in BONG and the spacey reach of Blown Out, among a slew of others. Joining Vest for the five-track debut album, Saturn (on Riot Season Records), are Ballpeen‘s Graham Thompson on drums/mixing/mastering, and alto saxophonist Karl D’Silva (a bandmate of Vest‘s in Drunk in Hell), and together, the trio burn through improvisational pieces of varied tenure but largely united purpose, as though someone flipped a switch and said, “okay, go,” and off they went. Entirely instrumental, the record wails through most of its 38-minute run, Thompson‘s drums not so much holding progressions to the ground as propelling them up from the surface into the airless ether, as heard on the shorter “Side Way,” just three-plus minutes, but a jazzy vibe that urges listeners to pick their favorite Coltrane for a comparison (Alice!) and roll with the heady, dug-in spirit. They are gone and gone and gone.

Would be almost unfair to call it self-indulgent, since that’s the idea. The exploratory go-ness of these pieces, especially as a first offering of any sort from OZO, are a clarion to free-fusion tweakers and anyone anywhere slightly out of phase with their surroundings, the just-don’t-fit feel comes through resonant through “Lifeship” at the outset and again in the resilient echoes and avant drum expressions of closer “Centuries.” Of course, an obvious focal point for the LP are its two broadest jams, “Saturn” (12:47) and “Nuclear Fuel” (11:06), which together comprise the majority of Saturn‘s runtime. While “Lifeship” and “Slide Way” burn out cosmic and “Centuries” harnesses an emergent wash of noise alongside its noteworthy rhythmic freakery, it is the drift and shove of “Saturn” and the encompassing howl of “Nuclear Fuel” that ultimately define the album, appearing in succession as they do after “Lifeship” as though OZO were aware of the challenge being issued to their audience — a sort of dare-you-to-keep-up mentality that seems as much a repellent for squares as a clarion to the lysergic converted. Come get down, come get obliterated. Fair.

The nature of extreme music is to seek not just a specialized listenership, but a that-much-deeper connection therewith on account of the rareness of the bond. One suspects that with OZO, those who can match wits with the band’s interstellar scorch will line up to do so again and again, which is fortunate since there’s already a second record in the works, titled Pluto. Walking through Saturn‘s fire unscathed is no easy feat, of course, but in addition to Vest loyalists, the jazzy appeal of these tracks should open as many minds to what OZO are doing as it might close. One way or the other, they’re doing it, and the resultant response feels like a secondary consideration at best.

the sun

That is, none of this material comes across as having been written with an audience in mind. I don’t say that as a dig against it, since I don’t think that’s what OZO wanted to do in the first place, and they stay true to their mission throughout. It just means they’re working on a different level and toward different ends. To go further, none of this material comes across as having been “written” at all. More like it was found, or perhaps pieced together out of elements floating in the air around the room where the instruments were set up. The inherent value of Saturn comes in capturing an expressive moment, the urgency of what’s being done and the traditionalism of free jazz as a forward-reaching reaction against form.

VestD’Silva and Thompson sound like people who find the conventional boring. Maybe that’s true and maybe it isn’t, but it’s the portrait they paint in the burning oranges and reds and yellows of Saturn, a sense of heat duly depicted on the album’s cover. However off-the-cuff it may be — I don’t know if it’s entirely improvised or if there were overdubs after the fact or what — the feeling of spontaneity in that moment is what’s most being sought, and it’s what’s most prevalent throughout the five pieces that comprise the album. The songs leave no room for compromise. The commitment to outward-directed freakery is unflinching, and for many if not most who take them on, OZO will simply prove too much. Like a machine burning overload. That, too, is a purposeful intent on the part of the band. They’re willful in abandoning normality for the swirling chaos that consumes “Nuclear Fuel” in its later reaches, and the dream-sequence distortion of “Centuries” that wraps up is high order psychedelic noir that is just as likely to melt minds as expand them.

Dangerous? To a point, maybe. I don’t know if OZO are ever at risk of really falling apart here, and if they did, it would be easy enough for it to become all part of the non-plan, but as they move through the liquefied abrasion of “Lifeship” into the title-track, the feeling of something unhinged and vital is palpable. Credit for that should and must go to Thompson, who instead of trying to harness some cohesion and structure from out of all this churning brew becomes part of the freakery, no less exploratory than D’Silva‘s channel-spanning horn echoes or Vest‘s effects-laced guitar. As noted, OZO are already working on their next full-length, which one can only imagine will continue their through-the-temple-into-the-brain plunge, and however the two works may ultimately relate, their debut burns with an intensity worthy of standing alone as it inherently does in sound and style. Saturn presents a vision of psychedelic and space rocking extremity rarely honed to such a degree, and its vibrancy borders on blinding, which is all the better for OZO to catch you off-guard with their next hairpin turn. Hu-mans beware.

OZO on Thee Facebooks

OZO on Bandcamp

Riot Season Records on Thee Facebooks

Riot Season Records on Bandcamp

Riot Season Records website

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The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio Playlist: Episode 27

Posted in Radio on January 31st, 2020 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk show banner

As I sit and type this, I just recorded (on my phone, because professionalism!) the voice tracks for this episode of The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio, and in the first of them I tried and probably failed to explain that the show’s moving. Instead of every other week on Friday at 1PM Eastern (which it is now), it’s going to be every week, Friday 5PM Eastern. New episodes will still be every other week, but it’s a dedicated spot to The Obelisk Show and that’s that. The Sunday replays will still air. Bullet points:

– Starting Feb. 14.
– Airing every week, Friday 5PM, plus Sundays at 7PM
– New episodes every other week
– Listen to The Obelisk Show at Gimmeradio.com or on the app.
– Thank you

Probably should’ve written that out before I tried explaining it off the cuff on the show itself. So it goes.

There’s a ton of killer, killer, killer new music in this episode, so, you know, business as usual. I know I’m biased. Anyone who says they’re not is playing pretend. I was glad to include new Goblinsmoker here, which I haven’t had the chance to write about yet, as well as Insect ArkThe RiverGrandpa Jack and Godthrymm. Look out for a full stream of the OZO record next Tuesday, if you like what you hear in the title-cut.

Which, of course, I hope you do.

The Obelisk Show airs 1PM Eastern today at http://gimmeradio.com

Thanks if you check it out.

Full playlist:

The Obelisk Show – 01.31.20

Lowrider Red River Refractions*
Elephant Tree Sails Habits*
Brant Bjork Jungle in the Sound Brant Bjork*
Big Scenic Nowhere Glim Visions Beyond Horizon*
BREAK
Orbiter Bone to Earth The Deluge*
Sleepwulf Misty Mountain Misty Mountain*
Grandpa Jack Imitation Trash Can Boogie*
Dirt Woman Lady of the Dunes The Glass Cliff*
BREAK
Goblinsmoker Let Them Rot A Throne in Haze, a World Ablaze*
Insect Ark Philae The Vanishing*
The River Vessels Vessels into White Tides*
Deathwhite Further From Salvation Grave Image*
Godthrymm The Sea as My Grave Reflections*
BREAK
SEA Dust Impermanence*
OZO Saturn Saturn*

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio airs every Friday 5PM Eastern, with replays Sunday at 7PM Eastern. Next new episode is Feb. 14. Thanks for listening if you do.

Gimme Radio website

The Obelisk on Thee Facebooks

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