Friday Full-Length: Dragontears, Turn on Tune in Fuck Off!

Posted in Bootleg Theater on November 15th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

 

The cover art of Dragontears‘ third and final album, Turn on Tune in Fuck Off! (review here) — released in 2010 by Bad Afro Records — finds frontman and principle architect Uffe “Lorenzo Woodrose” Lorenzen standing maybe-naked among a trio of mostly-nude women clad in gasmasks and bulletbelts, their faces obscured save for their eyes but their automatic weapons very much in the foreground, aimed up at the downward-facing camera. Lorenzen, eyes obscured in sunglasses, his head tilted and mouth hanging slack, also looks up at the camera, and in each of his outstretched hands, there’s a bunch of pills, clearly being offered to whoever’s eye might’ve been caught by the striking, maddening pinks and blues surrounding. So is the title an invitation or a command? That exclamation point — encouraging or urging or demanding? Maybe pleading, even?

It’s hard to know listening to the record itself, the doomsday psychedelia of which pushed forward in concept and execution even from where Dragontears‘ two preceding LPs, 2007’s 2000 Micrograms from Home and 2008’s Tambourine Freak Machine saw it go. Lorenzen‘s main outfit, Baby Woodrose, for sure had its psychedelic aspects even back to its earliest, most garage-rocking days, but here again, Dragontears pursued another echelon of far out. And found it. Early on side A, “Two Tongue Talk” and the gleefully nihilistic “No Salvation” lead off with uptempo hooks and consummate swirl, engaging with a classic psych feel and prevalent depth of fuzz, while the three-and-a-half-minute “My Friend” marks a turning point to the next stage — or maybe “plane” is more appropriate, considering. The song itself doesn’t fill even that relatively brief runtime, instead drifting off into ethereal synth and keyboard dreaminess. But the real change is before that, as Lorenzen — perhaps in a foreshadow of the solo work he’s done in the last couple years — dons an acoustic guitar and the percussive push underlying “Two Tongue Talk” and “No Salvation” disappears in favor of a peaceful melodic wash. “Time of No Time” finds a middle ground between the two sides, lacing sitar alongside guitar and building on both the acid folk of the song before it and the more rocking feel of the two before that, all the while letting Lorenzen philosophize lyrically like the lysergic cult leader depicted on the front cover.

At just over six minutes, it’s the longest cut on the record to that point, but that doesn’t last, with the 13-minute drone-out “William” picking up in inner peace-inducing fashion, taking the catchiness that (re)emerged on “Time of No Time” and stretching it out across a vast drift with Lorenzen‘s vocals barely acting as a tether to the ground, molten as it is. I don’t know who William is or was, but the song that bears his name is long gone in a hand-percussed melodic expanse, intertwining lines of effects rising and fallingDragontears Turn On Tune In Fuck Off in the mix as Lorenzen does likewise, his lines somewhere between spoken hallucinogenic poetry and singing, dropping out before ceremonial-feeling bells jingle maybe to signal the close of mass or, maybe just to mourn for the planet, universe, self, whatever, all of it, who knows. On the vinyl edition of Turn on Tune in Fuck Off!, “William” and the subsequent “Mennesketvilling” (5:49) comprise the entirety of side B, and sure enough the one feeds right into the other, with the closer picking up from the drone and obscure sample playing and bringing some more forward layers of vocals forward in a chant that only seems to emphasize both the depth of the mix overall throughout the material and the obvious care that was put into the arrangement of elements therein. A freakout guitar solo takes hold and the sample returns, the song receding quickly into the fade before a final sweep seems to wipe everything out.

The title “Mennesketvilling” translates in a major internet company’s matrix from Danish to “dual man” in English, or “human gemini,” which is probably closer and still only barely getting at what the track is actually going for. Whether that’s supposed to just mean “twin” or be a statement on the duality of the human species, I can’t say and won’t waste time in speculating, but if it’s one last preach on the nature of mankind, it’s fairly enough earned and nothing if not welcome in rounding out the spirit of the proceedings.

Dragontears did play live around this time, with Lorenzen in the lineup that included Fuzz Daddy (aka Rocco Woodrose), Moody Guru (aka Riky Woodrose), Morton “Aron” Larsen and Henrik “The Hobbit” Klitstrøm alongside a purported host of others that presumably varied from show to show, but again, this was their final recording, with Lorenzen putting the project to rest with the intention to incorporate more of Dragontears‘ psychedelic aspects into Baby Woodrose. That’s a sonic progression that, in truth, had already been underway. The band’s 2009 self-titled had drawn in a fair share of the acidic, and it was hardly the first release to do so, but perhaps 2012’s Third Eye Surgery (review here) and 2016’s Freedom (review here) would follow this path even more. In 2013, Lorenzen and Klitstrøm and others whose history together stretched back to their days in underrated Danish psych rockers On Trial (if not longer) would reform Spids Nøgenhat for the Kommer Med Fred LP, but that seems to be the extent of that outfit’s work at least for the time being. One never knows, of course.

Over the years, Lorenzen has grown into a kind of Danish LSD-guru figure, and his solo output, released in his own name with Danish lyrics and titles, bears that out with a sensibility that seems to draw from some of what Dragontears were doing on Turn on Tune in Fuck Off!, particularly, as noted, on “My Friend” and maybe even “William.” While Lorenzen doesn’t quite try to get away permanently from the hooky songcraft that’s made Baby Woodrose‘s offerings stand up so well to the test of time, both 2017’s Galmandsværk (review here) and 2019’s Triprapport (review here) portray this identity in their visual and aural presentation, and with his beard long and gray and his material more otherworldly than it’s ever been, it suits him. I wouldn’t fight if another Baby Woodrose record was in the offing for 2020 or if Lorenzen were to continue the solo work or something else, since no matter where he goes, he seems to take such a strong presence with him. Sometimes, that’s a voice out in the void of space itself.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

I was gonna go see Monolord at Vitus Bar on Sunday. I didn’t go to Ode to Doom last week and I’m already hemming and hawing on this, despite my desire to catch Blackwater Holylight and Monolord in that space, let alone the matinee beforehand that I’m co-presenting. Feeling worn out, down, down, down, and like cooking dinner so there are leftovers for the week ahead is probably the way to go. There’s like a seven-pound spaghetti squash sitting on the counter that I should probably throw in the oven now so it’s done in time for Monday.

Shit is large.

The Pecan is up. Early. It’s almost 6:30AM now — not an overly productive morning on my part, but the Dragontears was fun to write about as Lorenzo Woodrose’s stuff usually is — and he’s been up for like an hour. Brutal. I thought he had pooped so I got him from upstairs, but no. He still found time to wind up his legs and kick me while I was changing his diaper though, and that’s what would seem to matter.

He’s two. It’s very hard. We were friends for a little bit there. Not this week.

I tell him, “You’re in control of your responses.” “We can put on shoes easy or hard, it’s up to you.” Even if he doesn’t really know what I’m talking about in terms of actualization of self, I figure that’s good habit for me to say rather than, “Put on your fucking shoes you wretched thing-beast,” and good for him to hear from what’s basically the outset of him understanding words. There’s one corner of the room I don’t want him to go in. Every time I’m out of his line of sight, he’s there. By Wednesday, I felt like my brain was going to explode. Yesterday, which was Thursday, The Patient Mrs. worked from 7AM-6PM (oh, that easy college professor’s schedule; when you’re 80, maybe) and I had him all day and it was too cold to play outside. He bit, he hit, he kicked, he hugged, he pretended to sneeze and laughed, he ran, he ate a good lunch. We went grocery shopping and he sat in the cart. He went in that same fucking corner and I told him, “Okay, that’s cool, you hang out in there and I’ll just put away your toys since you’re not using them anymore. This puzzle looks fun, but if you don’t need it, I’ll put it away,” and he came out of the corner to play with the puzzle. Even if he doesn’t know all the words — and he might — he got the idea, and it was a solid hour before he was back over there playing with the power bar, which at that point was a win.

It was a day, in other words.

So, next week. It’s full. There’s a ton of shit, whether or not I go see Monolord, and if I’m saying that on Friday, I’m probably not going. We’ll see. But it’s a full week regardless, highlighted by a Solace track premiere rescheduled from this week and a War Cloud video premiere, the latter of which will be on Friday to round things out. I’ll review Vessel of Light in there too somewhere.

I’m sure you’re riveted.

Stay glued to your seat, computer, phone, whatever. More Obelisk coming soon.

Ugh.

Everyone have a great and safe weekend. Please be kind and have fun. You can do both.

FRM. Forum, radio, merch.

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Czar Premiere “A Loathing” Video; Debut Album out Jan. 31 on Black Bow Records

Posted in Bootleg Theater on November 15th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

czar

Early next year — on Jan. 31, like the headline says — Colorado’s Czar will make their full-length debut through the Jon Davis (Conan)-owned Black Bow Records. The label has stood behind any range of extreme sounds and darkened vibes, but with Czar, it’s something of a different take. As their lead single, “A Loathing,” demonstrates, their style is born of a distinctive ’90s flair, following an impulse to distill some of the progressive metal reach of Tool into more palatable, structured fare, keeping the melody and atmosphere and losing the flagrant self-indulgence and contempt-for-audience that came to define that band’s work. “A Loathing” is nothing if not accessible, as the four-piece pare down the nuance to its essentials and present a post-grunge hookiness with nascent moves toward vocal harmony and a chorus that stands very much as the centerpiece of the song.

As a flannel-toting product of the decade in question, even the self-victimized perspective in the lyrics rings somewhat familiar to my ears,czar A Loathing Single but to actually go back and listen to a lot of what’s driving Czar stylistically, it sounds dated, and thankfully, Czar themselves don’t. Vocals are prominent in the mix, but behind them, the groove is weighted in its tonality and playing between a chug and more open chords during the verse and the aforementioned chorus. This too is traditionalist in a way that makes me curious as to what else the band might be up to on the record — and hey, there we are. That’s the whole point of a lead single in the first place: teasing the album from whence it comes. Nice sometimes when things work out the way they’re supposed to.

I don’t have much more info on the album than the fact that it’s coming out in January, but Czar are a new band (formed last year), and they’re clearly looking to make an impression.

You can stream the video below. I hope you enjoy:

Czar, “A Loathing” official video premiere

Formed in 2018 and signed with Black Bow Records (Jon Davis / Conan) in 2019, Czar represents the dawn of a new scene in music. Blending a rock core with grunge tones Czar (Jonathan Mason/vocals, Kalen Mauldin/bass, Nate Wilson/drums, Scott Anderson/guitar & keys) have developed a sound that puts the song center stage. Melodic verses combined with memorable choruses leave listeners hooked and wanting more. Based in Colorado, Czar is breaking new ground and every conventional rule set in front of a band. Expect the debut album on January 31, 2020. Who is Czar? Czar is freedom from established norms. Czar is pure rock n roll. Czar is your new favorite band. The Age of Czar begins now.

Czar is:
Kalen Mauldin, Jonathan Mason, Scott Anderson, Nate Wilson

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Enslaved Post “What Else is There” Video; Re-Sign with Nuclear Blast

Posted in Bootleg Theater on November 15th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

enslaved

If you were Norwegian progressive black metallers Enslaved, why wouldn’t you re-up your deal with Nuclear Blast? And if you were the label, why wouldn’t you re-sign the band? It’s a pairing that’s worked for both sides, with the long-running Bergen outfit expanding their reach and influence across the globe while giving the imprint another act to hang its hat on and say, “fuck yes we put that stuff out.” Enslaved just finished a two-year touring cycle for their more-or-less-brilliant 14th album, E (review here).

That was their third long-player for Nuclear Blast behind 2015’s In Times (review here) and 2012’s Riitiir (review here) — they signed after issuing 2010’s Axioma Ethica Odini (review here) on Indie Recordings and in the meantime have established their own label, By Norse Music, which has stood behind reissues of their own work as well as the 2017 live album, Roadburn Live (review here) — and even as recent years have found bassist/vocalist Grutle Kjellson and guitarists Ivar Bjørnson and Arve “Ice Dale” Isdal recruiting new drummer Iver Sandøy and, crucially, keyboardist/clean-vocalist Håkon Vinje, their relentless sonic pursuit has pushed forward unabated. Plus, as evidenced by the two years they’ve just spent on the road, they tour like bastards.

Again, if you’re the label, they’re very much a band you want to continue working with.

It’s Vinje‘s vocals that are highlighted in the cover of Tromsø electro-duo Röyksopp “What Else is There” that was included as a bonus track on the limited edition of E, the band flirting with pop and new wave before blindsiding it with a bit of good old fashioned rippery. It’s a fun cut and worth highlighting, and while the video invokes Bergman and a looming sense of disaster, it’s not quite as dramatic as “The River’s Mouth” (posted here) from the album itself, which I suppose is fine too. Enslaved are certainly no strangers to changing things up. No reason that can’t extend to visuals.

With the deal in place and the E touring cycle complete, I’d expect the band to take some time off before getting back to work on LP number 15, but of course the underlying message of re-signing is that their intention is to continue on their current path, so it’s only fair to expect news sometime in the next year about stirrings and new songs, recording plans and so on. That will be welcome whenever it arrives, certainly.

Enjoy the clip:

Enslaved, “What Else is There” (Röyksopp cover) official video

There is ample reason to celebrate: ENSLAVED have once again joined forces with Nuclear Blast, to spread the music of the Norwegian avant-garde metallers all around the globe. With that, band and label renew a collaboration that has been ongoing for around ten years and two years ago produced the universally lauded album E.

Band founding member and guitarist Ivar Bjornson stated about the re-signing:
“It is with great pleasure we re-sign our record deal with Nuclear Blast worldwide! We have been working together for more or less a decade, and it has been an individed positive experience. They have both the heart to grasp our musical visions, and the business-muscles to spread them out into the world. When you add personal friendships with the wonderful people in America, U.K. and Germany it is simply an ideal situation for us to be in. Onwards, forwards and in all directions!”

To mark the occasion, ENSLAVED present a stunning new music video filled with atmospheric imagery for their interpretation of ‘What Else Is There’ by Norwegian electro-pop band RÖYSKOPP. The song is featured as a bonus track on the digital version of their latest album, E.

Enslaved is:
Ivar Bjørnson – guitar
Grutle Kjellson – vocals/bass
Ice Dale – guitar
Håkon Vinje – keys/vocals
Iver Sandøy – drums

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Denizen Premiere Video for “Shadow Dancer” from High Winds Preacher; Album out Nov. 29

Posted in Bootleg Theater on November 14th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

denizen

Later this month, French heavy rockers Denizen will release their third album and second on Argonauta Records, High Winds Preacher. After more than 15 years together, the band have been long enough set on a path toward individuality that it doesn’t seem unreasonable going into their latest work with some measure of expectation, and from the initial push of “Shadow Dancer” through the thicker-toned roll of “Among the Trees” and the let’s-make-the-riff-even-bigger “Ears Wide Opened” before the pure Orange Goblinery of “Chasing the Guru,” they take a familiar but distinct shape in following up their 2017 Songs from the Kraken: The Georges Sessions EP, and their two full-lengths, 2015’s Troubled Waters (review here) and 2011’s Whispering Wild Stories (review here), and the bulk of High Winds Preacher feels dedicated more toward conjuring those high winds via all-out thrust than doing much by way of preaching.

Either way, they do what they do in full awareness of what they’re doing while they do it. To wit, after the bit of slowdown in “Mandrake is Everywhere,” which follows the high-gear “The Beast,” the four-piece are back off and running denizen high winds preacheras they careen through “White Flamingo,” “Deaf Taint,” “Punch Out” and closer “Tomahawk” on what would be the vinyl side B, culminating — of course — in a big, big, big ol’ haymaker of a riff in the finale. Their style is playing to genre, let there be no doubt, but their songs make an impression just the same, and it’s through the sheer energy of their execution that much of that impression comes. Calisthenics as songwriting is a post-Truckfighters European specialty, but any number of bands can sound like they might jump around on stage. Denizen sound like they might jump around in the studio as well, and the fact that that’s the case after over a decade and a half is not a consideration to be taken lightly.

Reinventing the wheel? Nope. Fixing what ain’t broken? Nope. Asking to be anything more than the complement and maybe even some motivating fuel for your good time? Nope. Run with it. They are.

Again, “Shadow Dancer” kicks off the record, and you can see the video for it premiering below. Please note that a sample of the film clip that starts the video is actually in the audio version of the song as well, so kudos the Denizen cats on striving for accuracy.

High Winds Preacher is out Nov. 29.

Enjoy:

Denizen, “Shadow Dancer” official video premiere

DENIZEN formed in the south of France between Montpellier and Sète in 2003. After their demo debut Far From Common Strategy (2006), released on Prototype Records, the band participated in a split tribute to Black Sabbath with the bands Illtemper and Stuntman.

Following their first full length album, Snatches Into Uproar in 2009, DENIZEN moved towards a more rock groove with heavy sludge and stoner influences. With their 2011- release, Whispering Wild Stories, DENIZEN’s Classic Rock influences became assertive: 70’s typed riffing, the wah-wah and melodic vocals, took the band on higher levels and to tour Europe with acts alike Steak or Black Rainbows. The highly acclaimed, third album Troubled Waters (2014 on Argonauta Records) unleashed a heavy rock feeling with a healthy dose of the blues, but the band’s main concern has always been focused on the riff. DENIZEN’s brand new record, High Winds Preacher, will definitely preach the almighty riff again!

Recorded and mixed by Colin Trognée at Studio Mordor
Except drums, recorded at Buèges Valley Recording Service by Simon Pillard & Colin Trognée

Mastered by Kent Stump at Crystal Clear Sound

Artwork by Brice Cossu

DENIZEN is:
Fabien Aletto – Vocals
Yann Chinette – Guitars
Andreas Goumy – Drums
Colin Trognée – Bass

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Friday Full-Length: The Obsessed, Live at the Wax Museum

Posted in Bootleg Theater on November 8th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

First off, I like bootlegs. The act of putting yourself in the raw moment of seeing a band play via a sometimes rough recording from a microphone somewhere in the audience. You can hear people talking between the songs, and you can hear the band as they were from the stage — no cleanup, no mixing, nothing. Bootlegs are the truest of “warts and all” presentations for live music. I’ll take a soundboard recording, to be sure, and a good-sounding A+ boot is like a gift from the gods — thinking specifically of Black Sabbath‘s Asbury Park ’75 recording (discussed here), but of course there are many examples among live and studio unofficial releases — but there’s for sure an appeal to a harsher-audio bootleg. It’s a document of a moment that would otherwise be lost to time and memory.

They’re not for everyone, and that’s cool. If they’re not for you, you might want to move on, skip to the bottom part where I bitch about life or just go about your day or whatever. But if you count yourself among the number who can be entranced by such things, and you’re a fan of the band, then the pure aural force The Obsessed display on Live at the Wax Museum should be considered utterly essential. Recorded on July 3, 1983, it first showed up in 1992 as an unofficial release through Doom Records and it wasn’t until last year that The Church Within (fittingly enough) gave it its first official pressing, with a glow the dark cover and a CD encased in a DVD-style digipak, textured artwork and all. The Obsessed have had a few archival live offerings this decade, including Live at the Melkweg November 28th 1992 and Live Music Hall Köln December 29th 1992 in 2012 when the band first got back together, but Live at the Wax Museum has a different feel, its title giving it a sense of importance as a milestone for the band: that time they were in that place. Also distinguishing Live at the Wax Museum is the fact that it was recorded some nine years before those other shows, with guitarist Scott “Wino” Weinrich, bassist Mark Laue and drummer Dave Flood — who demolishes a drum solo in “Sister Sin” right around the middle of the set, igniting howls from the crowd — playing as intense as I’ve ever heard any incarnation of the band.

Across songs like “Concrete Cancer,” which is introduced during Wino‘s minimalist stage banter as an “old tune,” and “Touch of Everything” (a “dance tune”) and “Mental Kingdom” (a “brand new song”),

the obsessed live at the wax museum

along with 11 others for a total of 14 cuts plus an intro, The Obsessed absolutely tear into this show. There’s a minute-long intro from some preacher talking about how rock music is the devil and blah blah blah and then the three-piece rip into “Burning Gland” and there’s no going back. “Iron & Stone” and set-finale “Sodden Jackal” would show up in ’83 on the band’s first 7″ single following two should-probably-be-reissued demos — their 1984 Concrete Cancer demo was given a limited run by Relapse in 2017, so it’d be as simple as repackaging 1999’s Incarnate, I think — but what’s most striking about Live at the Wax Museum is the sheer intensity of it, and that’s something that comes through despite the rough audio. Because, let’s face it: it’s a bootleg. It ain’t a cleaned-up live record, or something that’s been remastered and remastered, the tape gone over with a fine-toothed comb to remove the static noise. It’s all there. You get to hear someone in the crowd after “Concrete Cancer” shout that “FM radio sucks!” — nothing changes — and someone else later call out for them to play some Sabbath after they nail “Mental Kingdom” — again, nothing changes — and if you’re in the right mindset listening, all of that feeds into the specific atmosphere of the release.

Maybe that’s an added academic or theoretical appeal, but Live at the Wax Museum has no shortage of highlight performance moments to go along with that, from the winding and chugging of “Failsafe” to the utterly indispensable “Neatz Brigade,” which is probably the catchiest hook Wino ever wrote — that’s a pretty vast pantheon of stuff between The ObsessedSpirit CaravanThe Hidden HandPremonition 13, and the sundry other units in which he’s been involved or led — but in terms of the way the verse builds tension for the chorus to open up and release, I can’t come up with a match for it. Especially not listening to it as it appears here. Certainly the catchiest The Obsessed tune, at the very least, and one that, 36 years later, you’re still pretty much guaranteed to see them play at every show. With good reason.

I wasn’t there in 1983 for this show. I was going on two, so let’s assume I wouldn’t have been able to make it even if I’d been aware of it, or, say, anything. But having Live at the Wax Museum as not just proof that it happened but kind of a glimpse at who The Obsessed were at the time and how much their miraculously-not-punk grit and working-class disaffection flew in the face of the burgeoning grandeur of the NWOBHM is not only helpful in explaining who they were at the time and how they earned the reputation they’ve long enjoyed, but also just a badass-sounding recording of a raw three-piece working to shape what we now know as Maryland doom. Hell yes that gets multiple spins from me.

The history of The Obsessed is tumultuous and ongoing, but their long absence ended in 2012 and in 2017, they produced the LP Sacred (review here), their first new album in some 23 years. They’ve been touring steadily for it since. They did Muddy Roots in Tennessee in August, Descendants of Crom III in Pittsburgh in September, last weekend were at Cafe 611 — home of Maryland Doom Fest — with Spiral Grave and others, and will travel to California next Spring for Psycho Smokeout. So yes, keeping busy. I don’t know if they’re planning another record or what, but they’ve got plenty of time to keep aligned with their every-two-decades pace, and I’m happy to see them play whenever the opportunity presents itself. Hearing Live at the Wax Museum only underscores why.

As always, I hope you enjoy. Thanks for reading.

New merch is out. Including sweatpants.

Get it here: https://mibk.bigcartel.com/products

And thank you for your support.

Today is also a new episode of The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio. The first new one in more than a month. You hopefully already saw the playlist. It’s on at 1PM Eastern.

Listen on the Gimme app or here: http://gimmeradio.com

And thanks again for your support.

While I’m indulging shameless plugs, I’ll be at Ode to Doom tomorrow in Manhattan, presented in part by this site. Horehound, Thunderbird Divine, Mantismass and Iron Rider are playing.

Event page is here: https://www.facebook.com/events/298666037420426/

And hey, thanks for your support.

Before you say it, I know Slayer and Primus are at MSG tomorrow night. In the hallowed halls of the Knicks and Billy Joel. Cough. I won’t ever tell you not to go see Primus, and I get that it’s Slayer’s alleged farewell tour, but yeah. Seems like as regards Slayer, I’ve got my memories of seeing them destroy, and I’d rather make new memories than relive old ones. So I’ll be at Arlene’s Grocery. I’m not telling you you’re wrong for being nostalgic — Primus are one of my all-time favorite bands; I’ve loved Primus since I was single digits, and I’ve loved seeing them every chance I’ve had — or trying to get while the getting’s good, but yeah. I’ve never seen Thunderbird Divine, or Mantismass, or Iron Rider, and Horehound rule, so I’ll take the lower key option and be grateful for it.

This weekend is also my sister’s birthday, so we’re doing family dinner tonight because I’ll be out tomorrow — not at all the first time I’ve rescheduled such things for a show; these people are very indulgent, these relatives of mine — and then I guess other whatnot over the course of the next couple days that I’m sure will be good.

That’s fine. It was a shit week. They all are. I spent most of it overthinking food, yelling at a two-year-old, feeling bad for yelling at a two-year-old, getting hit, kicked and bit at various points, being wrong about fucking everything, going back and forth with homeowners insurance, waiting for the other shoe to drop that will make us have to move again and daydreaming about being dead. In any case, a little time out of my head is welcome.

Thanks to everyone who has added a list so far to the end-of-decade poll. If that’s not you, I humbly point you to the form to do so here. Include whatever you want. Have fun with it.

I think that’s the last of the plugs.

Well, unless you count all the stuff for next week. Monday is that Ode review, plus a stream of the new Midas EP. Tuesday a Canyon of the Skull album stream. Wednesday an Onhou album stream — dark, dark, dark that one is. Thursday a track premiere and review of the new Solace record that I should probably just start writing now to get it done in time. Next Friday a Czar track premiere. Whole week, nailed down. Most of the week after as well. Busy times for being the “off season” in rock and roll, but it usually is, so fair enough.

Gonna try to get my head into the day to come (still early as I write) and probably fail miserably, as I so, so often do.

Great and safe weekend. Forum, radio and NEW merch.

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Friday Full-Length: Lamp of the Universe, Heru

Posted in Bootleg Theater on November 1st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

 

On a pretty regular basis around here I speak about patience in songwriting as an asset on the part of bands and artists. I can think of few the world over who offer a master class in this idea on the level of Craig Williamson‘s Lamp of the Universe. The Hamilton, New Zealand-based one-man project has been more or less ongoing for the last 20 years, with a stream of regular output that has resulted in no fewer than 11 full-lengths, as well as — in just the last five years — splits with Kanoi (review here), Trip Hill and Krautzone (review here). Some work has veered into crafting a full-band sound as Williamson has come to split time over the course of this decade between creating with Lamp of the Universe and as part of the heavier-rocking cosmic trio Arc of Ascent, but Lamp of the Universe is always just him working in layers of sitar, guitar, synth, percussion, vocals, and a host of other instrumentation in order to create a psychedelic acid-folk immersion like nothing else I’ve experienced. From his 2001 debut, The Cosmic Union (discussed here) through earlier 2019’s Align in the Fourth Dimension (review here), his work has never wavered from its central purpose in exploring the self, the universe, and of course, how the two might be brought together through sound.

And when it comes to patience, one can point to any number of offerings from Lamp of the Universe as an example. Even when Williamson isn’t explicitly working in longer-form songwriting, he’s not exactly writing three-minute pop songs, but Heru is a special case. Released in 2005 on a limited CDR through Barl Fire and reissued in 2007 through Astral Projection — yes, Williamson‘s imprint — Heru is comprised of seven numbered parts that spread out as a single longform piece over the course of 61 minutes. It begins with a single sitar drone and that ends up being the bed for nearly the entire outing, and as each “Part” enters, “Part 1,” “Part 2,” “Part 3,” and so on, a different element is introduced or there’s some subtle shift in the flow. “Part 3” brings a fade-in of plucked sitar notes amid that drone and obscure voice swirl. “Part 5” seems to have cymbals washing in the farthest, deepest reaches of its mix. “Part 1” is the longest track at 12:20 (immediate points), but it’s really not until “Part 2” that the proceedings get underway.

But even when they do, it’s with patience as no less of a defining factor than that undercurrent of sitar woven across the whole thing. As the Lamp of the Universe Herusynthesizer/theremin/whatever-it-is begins to add to the liquefaction of consciousness on display, it becomes not just about doing one thing for a while over a loop and then moving on, adding one instrument on top of another, but of letting the song “Heru” become what it needs to be. It’s a different kind of communication between an artist and their work. I’m not saying urgency doesn’t have a place or isn’t admirable in its own right, or that something needs to be slow or fast to be either urgent or patient — there are patient three-minute pop songs, to use the earlier example — but most often, this seems to be something that’s either inherently understood by a songwriter or group or not. Maybe it’s dependent on the personalities of those doing the making. I don’t know. But the grace with which Williamson unfurls Heru is only enhanced by the fact that it feels so remarkably unforced, and its hypnotic aspect comes through as all the more sincere. As the band’s third album, it followed The Cosmic Union and 2002’s Echo in Light, which together made something of a holy duality, and it was surprising both in the three-year delay before its arrival and in the form it took when it came around.

One hates to use the word “straightforward” in this context, but to this point, Lamp of the Universe had at least had more of a structure to its root songwriting, and Heru left that behind and then some. There are vocals on Heru, in the later reaches of “Part 6” and then “Part 7,” when things get more active on this relative scale, but no discernible verses as such. Instead, they are obscure chants overwhelmed by electric guitar volume swells, synthesizer noise, various effects, and so on. It’s in “Part 7” that the most radical shift happens, and it’s the departure of that drone, the arrival of more upfront drumming, bass and guitar in jammy fashion. Of course it’s not like there’s a three-piece in a room together vibing out since it’s just Williamson on his own, but he presents a plausible facsimile of a trio hitting it in mellow style and brings Heru to an end on a long fade of drumming and bass that in turn gets swallowed by a swell of drone and hand-percussion — something of an epilogue for the offering as a whole; “Part 7.9,” maybe, since it’s so close to the end.

However one might want to consider that final movement, it’s a showing of symmetry on the part of Lamp of the Universe that highlights the mentality of the entire offering in terms of knowing where it’s heading and how it will ultimately piece together, making it seem all the more like a masterwork. Williamson has done numerous extended pieces since, from tracks on 2006’s From the Mystic Rays of Astrological Light the two-song Arc of Ascent outing in 2007 — of which I just bought a cassette on Discogs; why do these Friday Full-Length posts so often cost me money? — to the 22-minute space ritual “Doors of Perception” from the split with Krautzone in 2014, but Heru remains a standout in his discography as Lamp of the Universe and is something of a landmark out there in the galaxial vastness for how far his exploration has taken him to-date. I wouldn’t at all put it past him to do another single-song full-length — Align in the Fourth Dimension seemed to go in the other direction, but 2016’s Hidden Knowledge (review here) was bookended by tracks 13 and 14 minutes long, so you never know — but even if he gets there at some point, that does nothing to lessen the accomplishment of Heru in terms of its patience and its reach. It’s not going to be for everybody, but those who let themselves go with it will be all the more rewarded.

As always, I hope you enjoy. Thanks for reading.

Shortly after 6. Yesterday wasn’t so bad. First blood draw after The Pecan’s 2-year-old checkup at the doctor. They want to test him for lead because the house we moved into was built in the ’50s and his level was high when we lived in MA. I have no doubt there were lead pipes in MA. Working-class area shit on and screwed over by cheap builders? Yeah, that sounds about right? And here? Well, it’s what used to be middle-class, but still old enough that it’s not unreasonable to think the pipes in this house are lead. Some of the paint is, I think. I don’t know. It’s North Jersey. Something’s gonna fuck you up and give you cancer.

But he was okay yesterday. Rest of the week was hard. We’re in the grind of a tough first semester at The Patient Mrs.’ new job at William Paterson. They’re talking about the faculty going on strike or something? I bet that shit’s a lot easier to consider when you’ve got tenure. Guess we’ll see how it goes.

Pecan’s up. Hang on…

Alright, one chill diaper-change later he’s in with The Patient Mrs. for the time being. Fine.

This weekend is the Magnetic Eye Day of Doom nine-bander at Saint Vitus Bar. Woof that’s a lot of bands. Nine, to be exact. I’m DJ’ing the pre-party, which means I’ll be putting together a playlist today I guess, and then since I’ll have my laptop anyway I’ll probably just writeup the bands while I’m at the show. I don’t know if I’ll also have time to sort through photos there, so it might not be a live live-blog, but even if I get the text part done, put pictures together on Sunday and post on Monday, that’s a load off my mind for the weekend. We’ll see if I can pull it off.

The timing’s important because I’m also streaming the full new Devil to Pay record on Monday and I want to give it its due. So I’ll be reviewing that before I leave the house tomorrow morning to go to Brooklyn. Tuesday the poll for the best albums of the decade goes up, as well as a track premiere from the new Iguana record. Wednesday is doubled-up again with a Brume premiere — their record’s so good — and a Very Paranoia premiere, some ’70s punk-ish stuff on Who Can You Trust? Records, then Thursday I have a Lemurian Folk Songs review slated but I might honestly just skip it and fill out the day with other stuff, and then Friday is a Kamchatka track premiere. So yeah, busy. Busy busy busy.

And to go with that, The Toddlerian in all his glorious volatility. He’s mad. Why? Wrong question.

But anyway. Quick merch update: I’ve seen the new site that’s in progress. It’ll be run through Made in Brooklyn directly. Should be live next week I hope? There will be Obelisk sweatpants. I will purchase a pair. And wear them. In public. Whether or not you do the same is of course between you and your higher power, whoever/whatever that may be.

That’s enough out of me. If you’re at Vitus tomorrow — and you should be, what with Domkraft and Elephant Tree and Horsehunter and all — say hi. I may or may not be the guy in tye-dye pants, depending on how much laundry I get done today. Camera and cosmic backpack (and laptop) either way though, so yeah. That’s me. I’m old.

Have a great and safe weekend, whatever your plans. Forum, radio, merch.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

The Obelisk shirts & hoodies

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Earth Tongue Premiere “Probing the New Reality” Video; Australian & New Zealand Shows Announced

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 31st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

earth tongue

Recently enough back from a tour of Europe and already confirmed for a return to that continent in Spring 2020 for an appearance at Desertfest Berlin with presumably more dates to follow, the Wellington, New Zealand-based duo Earth Tongue released their debut album, Floating Being, this past summer through Stolen Body Records, and if their name is somewhat easy to overlook, their sound certainly isn’t. While rife with a heavy fuzz in the opening salvo of “Microscopic God” and “Probing the New Reality,” setting the tone both, well, tonally, and in terms of the album’s sci-fi we’re-all-robots-ish post-New Wave thematic that will soon come to further fruition, there are pop and electro showcases that take hold as the maddeningly catchy and surprisingly aggressive “Hidden Entrance” comes in to unveil a secret Nine Inch Nails influence — shh! don’t tell anybody! — before “Unseen Tormentor” finds a new echelon of vocal righteousness from the two-piece of Gussie Larkin and Ezra Simons, arranging in layers and setting up a duet dynamic that can be switched on and off that only adds character to the proceedings as the rest of the record plays out in chic and effective fashion.

Centerpiece “Astonishing Comet” builds on the sci-fi vibe while “The Well of Pristine Order” digs into deeper-mixed fuzz and melody while setting a forward push of snare for added proto-punk urgency. It’s got a hook, but the greater impression is the riff that Earth Tongue Floating Beingresolves itself in the second half, and like much of the half-hour-long LP, it’s over quick and on to “Portable Shrine,” which takes a bit more of a patient roll, but still refuses to waste any of its time, underscoring the tightness of Earth Tongue‘s craft and the unflappable nature of their sound, that fuzz and an earliest-Kadavar-style compression in the drums providing an excellent backdrop for the voices of Simons and Larkin. Floating Being caps with its two longest tracks in “The Dome” (3:52) and “Sentient Sediment” (5:21), with a winding course in the former hitting into a wall of more swinging starts and stops marked by standout drums and even more standout harmonies en route to fuzzo-blivion. It’s awesome. And “Sentient Sediment” backs it up with an almost post-rocking drift initially before finding its core riff around midway through and even slowing down to more of a nod by the time its five-plus minutes are up — a surprising and broad finale for a record that’s spent so much effort on being so efficient, but damned if it doesn’t work for them.

Earth Tongue will tour Australia and New Zealand in November and December, and once again, they’ll be back in Europe come Spring at least for Desertfest and likely more, so keep an eye out. Somehow I doubt this is the last we’ll be hearing from them. In the meantime, the video for “Probing the New Reality” is rife with charm and premiering below. I advise you to do the right thing and dig in accordingly.

Have fun:

Earth Tongue, “Probing the New Reality” official video premiere

Take a trip into Earth Tongue’s astonishing universe in their new music video for ‘Probing the New Reality’. Delicately balancing all-out pop hooks with mind-frying riff action, the New Zealand two-piece take stoner-pop to a new level in this track. ‘Probing the New Reality’ is the third single off their debut album ‘Floating Being’, released in June this year via Bristol-based label Stolen Body.

While killing time in Berlin between tours, Earth Tongue conceptualised and self-directed the video, alongside Alan Waddingham whose work includes music videos for GUM, Princess Chelsea and LarzRanda. The footage, shot on 33mm film stock was brought to life by animator Neirin Best, who has created videos for names such as The Pixies and Jane Weaver. The music video release follows a successful European tour, where Earth Tongue appeared at festivals from the UK to Poland alongside bands such as Monolord and Radio Moscow.

Created by Earth Tongue and Alan Waddingham
Director of Photography – Alan Waddingham
Animation – Neirin Best
Additional Animation – Ezra Simons
Edit – Ezra Simons
Assistance and BTS Photography – Joel Thomas

EARTH TONGUE AUSTRALIAN TOUR:
Friday 29th November – Adelaide, Wundenberg’s Recording Studios
Saturday 30th November – Melbourne, Sunburn Festival The Tote
Sunday 1st December – Sydney, The Vanguard Supported by Numidia & HEV?

Earth Tongue New Zealand tour:
6/12 – Wellington, SAN FRAN
7/12 – Auckland, WHAMMY
13/12 – Christchurch, DARKROOM
14/12 – DUNEDIN, THE COOK

The band consists of two human beings – Gussie Larkin and Ezra Simons.

Earth Tongue on Thee Facebooks

Earth Tongue on Instagram

Earth Tongue on Bandcamp

Stolen Body Records webstore

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Stolen Body Records on Instagram

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Clouds Taste Satanic Post “Second Sight (The Seer)” Video; Album out Tomorrow

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 30th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

all that much.clouds taste satanic

Yeah, I’ll readily admit that I’ve largely slept on the progression of Brooklyn instrumental heavymakers Clouds Taste Satanic. No one’s fault but my own. Of course, I’ve seen their name bandied about the New York-region doomosphere for years, but the last time I actively wrote about them was 2015, and frankly, I didn’t write all that much. My loss? As usual, most definitely. The double-guitar four-piece played Maryland Doom Fest this year and made a splash — it was the venue I couldn’t get into because of a lost (misplaced, not DUI or anything) drivers license — to the point that people seemed genuinely excited about them, and I don’t think I’ve ever casually perused a record of theirs without being like, “Yeah, this is cool,” before going about my business. clouds taste satanic second sightWell, Second Sight is their sixth album overall and their second of 2019 behind April’s Evil Eye, and it’s out tomorrow to finish out the complementary Walpurgis and Halloween releases — spooky times indeed — and it brings together two extended, side-consuming tracks each broken into multiple parts that stand on their own almost as individual collections of ideas.

“Second Sight (The Seer)” is the new video, and with its righteous solo and driving Northeastern aggro groove beneath, it definitely makes an impression, but really it’s just the first stage of a larger movement. Positioned on side A — which itself is called ‘Lesser Magic’ — “Second Sight” (21:20) breaks down into ‘The Seer (Vision),’ ‘The Psychic (Mist),’ and ‘The Pythia (Blood)’ while side ‘Greater Magic’ is consumed by “Black Mass” (21:06), which in turn divides into ‘The Goat (Dawn),’ ‘The Demon (Star),’ and ‘The Devil (Templar),’ thereby ensuring that even though there aren’t lyrics or vocals to dig into, the proceedings are well complicated enough to keep listeners occupied until a follow-up seventh LP happens along. Bullet points and outline structure notwithstanding, what Clouds Taste Satanic do over the course of these pieces is bring together a progressive take on heavy riffing that’s both of doom and willing to look outside it when called for. Past its halfway point, “Second Sight” turns to a swaggering bluesy swing for just a moment and the resulting impression is that not only are there multiple parties contributing to the songs — something I don’t know for sure, so don’t quote me on it — but that their interest lies in building a sonic complexity to match that of their structural presentation.

Do they get there? Yeah, I think they do. It’s subtle, but as “Second Sight” shifts into what would seem to be its final movement with a sleeker, bass-led section of brooding, the build that ensues is both effective and accounting for the piece as an entirety as well as its own movement. The payoff, in other clouds taste satanic second sight tracklistwords, more than justifies the journey to it, and as “Black Mass” crashes in to start the second leg of Second Sight, the momentum has hardly subsided, carrying through a patient unfolding toward some classic stonerly fuzz-wah lead work and plays back and forth in tempo and roll as (perhaps) ‘The Demon (Star)’ takes hold amid more driving fare in the middle third of the track, eventually giving way to long crashes and dueling leads, post-Sabbath starts and stops and a long fadeout that has a due dirge vibe given the progression still underway. At two songs/42 minutes, it’s not a minor undertaking, but it’s clearly not supposed to be, and Clouds Taste Satanic live up to the weighty goals they’ve set for themselves, practically in terms of making two records in a year and creatively in terms of crafting something forward-thinking at the same time as it is heavy, doomed and all that other vibed-out stuff that essentially means “heavy” and “doomed.”

So yes, it’s to my regret that it took me this long to really dig into what Clouds Taste Satanic were up to. Better late than never, I guess? Despite the urgency created by Pokemon to do so, you can’t really ever catch them all, and I do the best I can. Bottom line is this is a cool record and I gave myself another reason to feel like a yutz today, so that’s one box ticked for my morning. Time to chase down some older records, I suppose.

They play a release show tomorrow in Brooklyn and the lineup is awesome, Eternal Black and a bunch of others. More info on thee social medias here.

Enjoy the video:

 

Clouds Taste Satanic, “Second Sight (The Seer)” official video

Guitarist Steve Scavuzzo states:

“Despite the mystical mellowness the name implies, Second Sight is actually the most aggressive Clouds Taste Satanic record to date. Not sure when that happened, but at some point the doom turned angry.”

CLOUDS TASTE SATANIC formed in Brooklyn, New York in 2013. These Post-Doom Instrumentalists have steadily built a reputation as one of the few truly great DIY riff-heavy underground bands playing today. Patiently and deliberately developing a unique sound that melds riff-dominated Stoner Rock with Heavy Doom, their live show is a multi-sensory atmospheric display, offering a true experience and companion to their albums.

In 2014, the band released their debut album, ‘To Sleep Beyond the Earth’. The debut, along with second album ‘Your Doom Has Come’ (2015), third album ‘Dawn of the Satanic Age’ (2016), fourth full-length ‘The Glitter of Infinite Hell’ (2017), and their most recent ‘Evil Eye’ (2019) all demonstrate the band has no intentions of slowing down. The band celebrated its fifth year anniversary in 2018 by releasing ‘In Search of Heavy’, a four CD Box Set.

In 2019, the band has retained solid footing without falter, soon to achieve a bold goal of releasing two albums in one year. ‘Evil Eye’ came out April 30th (Walpurgis Eve), and we now await ‘Second Sight’ on October 31st (Halloween).

Steve Scavuzzo – Guitar
Sean Bay – Bass
Greg Acampora – Drums
Brian Bauhs – Guitar

Clouds Taste Satanic website

Clouds Taste Satanic on Bandcamp

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Clouds Taste Satanic on Instagram

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