Friday Full-Length: 16 Horsepower, Folklore

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 19th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

16 Horsepower, Folklore (2002)

I suppose the first question when it comes to 16 Horsepower‘s fourth and final long-player, Folklore, is whether it’s an album, since less than half of it is original material from the band. Based in Denver, Colorado, the band got their start in 1992 and would release Folklore a decade later through Glitterhouse and Jetset Records, even as frontman/principal songwriter David Eugene Edwards had already begun his next project, Wovenhand. With Folklore, Edwards and the original trio lineup of the band — drummer Jean-Yves Tola and bassist Pascal Humbert — came together to work seemingly in direct defiance to their preceding full-length, 2000’s Secret South, which had adopted a more modern style to what’s been lazily dubbed “alt country” but is really a much richer sonic pastiche, drawing from Americana, goth, folk, indeed country, rock and gospel. One might see Folklore as 16 Horsepower reclaiming their central influences in taking on traditional songs as well as Hank Williams‘ “Alone and Forsaken” and The Carter Family‘s rousing “Single Girl,” but they never fail to make any of this starting material their own, and their sound is one of such character and depth of arrangement that their take still remains original, whether it’s the accusatory “Sinnerman” late in the record or the stirring narrative of “Outlaw Song” earlier.

Of the 10 tracks, opener “Hutterite Mile,” “Blessed Persistence,” “Beyond the Pale” and the penultimate “Flutter” are 16 Horsepower compositions, credited to the band and Edwards specifically. “Outlaw Song,” “Sinnerman” and the French-language closer “La Robe a Parasol” are folk songs, and the other two inclusions are as noted above. What keeps Folklore from being an EP packed with covers, basically, is that the originals are spread across the two sides, with “Hutterite Mile” beginning the album with a deep sense of foreboding and downtrodden heart, while “Blessed Persistence” uses snare drum for tension amid strings later while its early moment jabs in jazzy fashion behind Edwards‘ vocals, keys, harmonies and so on fleshing out an arrangement that sounds minimal and isn’t at all. Elements come and go throughout — the organ on “Hutterite Mile,” the telltale banjo of “Outlaw Song,” the consuming cello in the chorus of “Alone and Forsaken,” and the chorus of voices on “Single Girl” on side A, piano and backward cymbals on “Beyond the Pale,” string drones on “Horse Head Fiddle,” acoustic guitar in “Sinnerman,” piano and strings on “Flutter” and accordion on “La Robe a Parasol” on side B — but the entire spirit of Folklore is about nothing so much as the songs themselves. That is, though Edwards is a significant presence on guitar, banjo, vocals, and so on, even he seems to approach this material with a sense of reverence. And fair 16 horsepower folkloreenough, since that goes back to 16 Horsepower returning to their roots, but the care and craft put into making these tracks still can’t be called anything other than progressive in the final result, whatever other genre tags with which one might want to saddle them. There are many that would apply, if incompletely.

Each half of Folklore ends in joy. “Single Girl” arrives after the gorgeous and sad “Alone and Forsaken” and takes the country strum of the Carter Family original and layers Edwards‘ vocals on top for a loyalist chorus effect that begs singing along. Likewise, “La Robe a Parasol” appears after arguably the darkest stretch of material 16 Horsepower ever produced in “Beyond the Pale,” “Horse Head Fiddle,” “Sinnerman” and “Flutter.” Certainly there’s a groove underlying “Horse Head Fiddle” and “Flutter,” but the emotional and atmospheric weight with which they’re executed is crushing, and “La Robe a Parasol” offers 2:15 of escapist snare-brush shuffle and accordion, drunkard’s French and backing woops and hollers to underscore the at-the-fair feel. Side A undergoes a similar shift, to be sure, as it heads toward “Single Girl,” but “Hutterite Mile” — the lines, “It’s only misery/It’s only ankle-deep,” some of the most efficient lyric-writing I’ve ever heard — and “Outlaw Song” and “Blessed Persistence” and even “Alone and Forsaken” aren’t as dark as what the second half of Folklore has on offer. It’s a question of ambience in some respect, but side B simply pushes further into whatever unseen reaches of the American plains the band are traveling. “Horse Head Fiddle” is perhaps the most experimentalist moment on Folklore, with flute, string drones, layers of noise and vocals all too obscure to be readily discernible, and by comparison, “Sinnerman”‘s interwoven dual-track verses are resoundingly straightforward. The underlying structure of Folklore, though, is a tapestry. Of originals and choice covers and folk songs all brought into a singular context the likes of which 16 Horsepower had never built before and never would again. My understanding is that when it came out, response was mixed, but of all the work 16 Horsepower did during their time together, Folklore has arguably held up best — though I won’t take away from Secret South or 1997’s Low Estate or ’95’s Sackcloth ‘n’ Ashes either, frankly — perhaps as a result of seeming so out of its own time in the first place.

As mentioned, it’s the band’s final studio outing. They would follow it with a compilation titled Olden the next year, but by then, Edwards already had two Wovenhand releases out in the 2002 self-titled debut (discussed here) and 2003’s Blush Music, and that band would ultimately take priority, going on to issue 10 albums moving in an increasingly heavy direction from their neo-folk beginnings. The latest of those albums, 2016’s Star Treatment (review here), is the most outwardly heavy work they’ve done, but it still retains a tie both to their earlier material and to 16 Horsepower‘s roots as shown on Folklore, with Edwards‘ inimitable style as a driving force. 16 Horsepower have had periodic releases out post-breakup, with two DVDs in the mid-aughts, as well as the excellent Live March 2001 collection in 2008 and a 2CD comp of greatest hits and rare tracks, respectively, titled Yours Truly in 2011. That latter would seem to be a true signoff on the part of the band, which is fair enough, but especially listening to Folklore, it’s clear that there was still so much exploring of these ideas to do when they called it quits, even if that creative growth was taken in different directions in the years since.

I love this record.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

It’s about five-thirty in the morning. I’ve already put up two posts of the six slated for today — yesterday wound up being seven, which is a lot — and I’m still getting caught up on stuff post-Roadburn. Man, what a trip that was. So good. Every year. So good.

It happens once or twice a year that in the span of a day or two you wind up getting what you immediately know will be some of the year’s best records. For my own future reference, I’d like to note that this week albums from Slough Feg, Sun Blood Stories, Kandodo3, Slomatics, Beastwars, Zaum and Yawning Man came in for future coverage. I’m not sure I’ve ever had a week where I’ve ended up so happy to check my email.

Ah, the baby’s getting up.

Okay, I’ll keep it short then. Notes for next week, cut and paste right from the document. Next week rules:

MON 04/22 LOS MUNDOS ALBUM STREAM/GETAWAY VAN VIDEO PREMIERE

TUE 04/23 ALTAR OF OBLIVION ALBUM STREAM

WED 04/24 WORSHIPPER TRACK PREMIERE

THU 04/25 STONE MACHINE ELECTRIC REVIEW/FULL STREAM

FRI 04/26 THE WELL VIDEO PREMIERE/REVIEW

As you can see, I have no set format for these things. I just put them in all caps and hope to remember them when the time comes. Being a one-man operation has its ups and downs. Doing the Weirdo Canyon Dispatch daily fanzine at Roadburn always brings those into relief, though I will note that this year particularly made me miss having a writing staff. I don’t think I could take one on here, but yeah. That’s a good bunch of people over there and I’m fortunate to work with them.

Looks like a permanent move back to New Jersey may be in the cards for this summer. I’ll keep you posted.

More on that later, I’m sure, but for now let me go grab this poor kid and start the day. I hope you have a great and safe weekend. Please don’t forget there’s merch at Dropout, and please don’t forget the forum and radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

The Obelisk shirts & hoodies

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Lord Vicar Premiere “Impact” Video from The Black Powder

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 19th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

lord vicar

As Lord Vicar prepare the ground for the release of their fourth full-length, The Black Powder, through The Church Within Records on May 3, the Scandinavian doomers unveil their first-ever official video. “Impact” is the shortest track on The Black Powder at a tidy 2:59 — by contrast, the album opens with “Sulfur, Charcoal and Saltpeter,” which runs 17:16 — and the clip accompanying compiles footage from the studio as the band were making the record. You can see guitarist Kimi Kärki, bassist Rich Jones and drummer Gareth Millsted playing through the instrumental tracks together and vocalist Christian “Lord Chritus” Linderson adding his voice afterward, but of course it’s all edited together to give a flow, which is fair enough since flow is a major factor throughout The Black Powder as a whole.

Its nine songs run a willfully consuming 69 minutes, and if that sounds like a slog, welcome to doom. Now more than a decade removed from their debutLord Vicar The Black Powder album, Fear No PainLord Vicar have long since mastered their approach — a pedigree that includes Reverend BizarreCount Raven and Saint Vitus doesn’t hurt either — and they fill their time not with simple riff-and-nod drudgery, but with material that can’t help but be vibrant despite its so, so thoroughly doomed vibe. In that regard, as well as its lyrics, “Impact” is aptly named. It’s probably the speediest whole track on the offering, though you could get a yardstick out to measure it against “Levitation” or parts of “The Temple in the Bedrock” if you really wanted to, but more than that, it puts the emphasis on exactly what video depicts: the band, in the room, hitting it. Lord Vicar are obviously schooled in classic doom — Kärki and Chritus kind of helped shape it, especially in Europe — but don’t at all take that to mean they’re not also building something new from out of the past. In following up 2016’s Gates of Flesh (review here), the four-piece showcase a vitality that thrives in darkness and an organic doom that needs no posturing to make its aesthetic statement.

I’ll have a full review of The Black Powder on May 2 (if the current calendar holds), but in addition to the video premiere for “Impact,” Kärki was kind enough to send some comment on making the album along with the lyrics to the track. Again, there some stuff on the record that is much, much slower, so “Impact” doesn’t necessarily represent everything Lord Vicar do across that almost-70-minute stretch, but it sure is fucking righteous.

Please enjoy:

Lord Vicar, “Impact” official video premiere

Kimi Kärki on “Impact”:

I was born in Good Friday back in 1976, and have always appreciated the fact, so it’s a nice date for the video premiere.

It was a wonderful Finnish winter adventure to record our fourth album The Black Powder. Pretty much everything was done in February and March 2019, including mixing and mastering, again with Joona Lukala at Noise for Fiction. Everything is still fresh for us as well, and we can’t wait to get to play these monsters live in May! We have had a new bass player, Rich Jones, aboard for quite long now, but this is the first time he was in studio with us. We were able to hammer drums, bass and the first rhythm guitar live, and that adds a nice organic feel for the album. Gareth (Millsted, drums) was more involved in songwriting, and this time we arranged the songs quite carefully in Switzerland before hitting the studio. Chritus (vocals) lost his voice before his second studio day, but this medicine that is meant for snake bites healed him nicely!

We never did a proper video for Lord Vicar before, and decided to do it totally DIY for ’Impact’, the seventh track of the album. Studio live footage was an obvious choice for this kind of a hard rocking tune, but I also wanted to give a visual nod for the theme of mortality and how sometimes authors are forgotten and only receive proper fame post mortem. Nightmares feature heavily on this album, so this is a tribute to some artists who captured the darkness, shadows, and sheer horror in writing.

Have a Good Friday, up the hammers, down the nails!

Lyrics:
Can you feel the Earth approaching,
Red horizon turn?
Time has frozen between two worlds,
Frozen, empty mind

One thing you have surely lost,
The one thing you still yearn
Frozen people always want to
Leave this world behind

See the roof come falling down
Red horizon turning round
Broken people are earthbound
All of them will hit the ground

You were always first to go,
First to test your mind
People thought that you’d be strong
But you were first to burn

See the roof come falling down
Red horizon turning round
Broken people are earthbound
All of them will hit the ground

All of them will hit the ground
All of them supposed to heal
All of them without a sound
All of them are true and real

All of them, they will be found
All of them, they will be read
All of them below the ground
All of them will conquer death

Lord Vicar and Thronehammer live in May!
03.Mai Würzburg (D) @Immerhin
04 Mai Weikersheim (D) @Club W71
05 Mai Karlsruhe (D) @P8
06 Mai Hamburg (D) @Marx
07 Mai Szczecin (PL) @Jambar
08 Mai Berlin (D) @Slaughterhouse Moabit
09 Mai Halle (D) @Hühnermanhattan
10 Mai Oberhausen (D) @Helvete
11 Mai Tilburg (NL) @Little Devil Doom Days Festival

Lord Vicar is:
Chritus on vocals
Kimi on guitars
Milly on drums
Rich on bass

Lord Vicar on Thee Facebooks

The Church Within Records on Thee Facebooks

The Church Within Records website

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Saturnia Post “The Twilight Bong” Video from The Seance Tapes

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 17th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

saturnia

I said last time around when Saturnia posted a video assembled from studio footage during the making of their latest album, The Seance Tapes (review here), that it probably wouldn’t be the last clip they did in that fashion. For all I know the Portuguese heavy psych rockers have the entire session captured, but for now, “The Twilight Bong” follows “Gemini” (posted here) from the 2018 collection, which found Saturnia founder Luis Simões in the studio for the first time with very nearly a complete lineup, handling guitar, bass, sitar and vocals himself while keeping company with drummer André Silva and keyboardist Nuno Oliveira, essentially able to record live for the first time, and accordingly reworking material from Saturnia‘s prior six full-lengths.

“The Twilight Bong,” for example, makes its sitar-laced way to The Seance Tapes via Saturnia‘s 1999 self-titled debut, and as the penultimate inclusion running a sprawling nine and a half minutes with keys and sitar, drums and percussion intertwining, it’s an especially vivid showcase of what the newer incarnation of Saturnia are able to accomplish, even though it digs back to a record that turns 20 this year. Simões has always been at the core of Saturnia, and to hear his sitar in conversation with Oliveira‘s Mellotron-style keys late in the track is an exciting twist on the character of the original track. The mission is still way trippy, but there’s a live dynamic in the recording throughout The Seance Tapes that a one-man-band would have an almost impossible time trying to capture.

Once again, I don’t think this will be the last time Saturnia put out a video from The Seance Tapes that was taken in the studio. I don’t know if they have footage for the whole record, but if they did and they were able to get it all together, it would only demonstrate the burgeoning, molten chemistry in development with the new lineup. One hopes that perhaps they’ll channel those energies toward further studio work on new material, but the truth of the matter is that if they want to let The Seance Tapes linger a little longer, “The Twilight Bong” is a pretty good example of why that would be just fine.

Please enjoy:

Saturnia, “The Twilight Bong” official video

Hope you are ready for a bit of sitar-Rock.

New video from The Seance Tapes. Enjoy.

Recorded at Colour Haze Studio, Reichertshausen.

Saturnia on Thee Facebooks

Saturnia website

Elektrohasch Schallplatten website

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Methadone Skies Premiere “Control” Video; Different Layers of Fear out May 10

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 9th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

methadone skies

Different Layers of Fear is the fourth full-length from Romanian atmospheric sludge/heavy rockers Methadone Skies. Issued through their own Haywire Records — an offshoot of Haywire Booking — the album brings the four-piece to an entirely different scale of work than they’ve gone before, following-up 2016’s Colosseus (discussed here) by pushing outward across a 71-minute 2LP that’s simply a new echelon for them. With the returning four-piece of guitarists Wehry and Casi, bassist Mihai and drummer Retea, the band embrace a psychedelic atmosphere constructed with clear ambient intent, melding together elements from post-metal and lysergic flow in a way that leaves one wondering how they got to be so separate in the first place. The seven-song instrumental offering brings a weighted tonal presence used for effect in moments like the last-couple-minutes crescendo in the 16-minute closer “Manos” — as in, “the hands of fate?” — and the lumbering earlier cut “Contra,” which is the shortest on the record at 6:10. Elsewhere, from opener “Where Were You When We Were into the Void?” through the extended duo of “God Help Us All” (12:55) and “Focus” (11:59), they balance that heft with an airy wash of effects to create a thoughtful and ethereal wholeness that’s engrossing even as it continues to dig deeper and deeper into itself.

Jams? Maybe. At least in some measure rooted in jams, but maybe Methadone Skies are more experimental than jammy. Not in the kitchen-sink sense of they’re-actually-banging-on-a-kitchen-sink — arrangements aremethadone skies different layers of fear largely straightforward despite added keys throughout from Marius Muntean — but in that their pieces seem to have an overall direction in mind, such as when “God Help Us All” follows its hypnotically repeating guitar line into an oblivion of noise wash, or when “Focus” turns from its sprawling fuzz into an uptempo post-rock progression in its second half. Some structure. Some master plan at work. “Contra” might be the most upfront of all the songs on Different Layers of Fear, and it comes paired with “Ol’ Painless,” which drifts through the early going of its linear build in order to provide due payoff ahead of the penultimate “A Glitch in the Sun,” which boasts a guest vocal from Davide Straccione (ZippoShores of Null, also head of Spikerot Records), who switches between crooning, whispers and harsher shouts over the 10-minute span of the track, adding to the emotional crux of the melodic guitar floating behind.

And when it comes around, “Manos” is almost an album’s flow unto itself, as Methadone Skies earn the added runtime through a patient execution that brings groove to bear even as it spaces out with intertwining guitar and synth in its earliest movement, right until the crushing central riff — yes, the one that comes back at the end — kicks in and sets up the essential back and forth of the finale. That moment too is well-earned, and though at an hour-plus, Different Layers of Fear is well past the line of what might be considered manageable, even if one has to take it in multiple sittings, it proves to be worth the effort of meeting them on their level.

The video for “Control” was filmed during the making of Different Layers of Fear, and I’m just going to assume that the wavy-vision on the footage captured of the band while they played is not, in fact, an effect put on the video, but actually how it appeared in the studio. Would only make sense. Also keep your eyes out for the dinosaur. He’s in there.

Please enjoy:

Methadone Skies, “Control” official video premiere

Second track off ,,Different Layers Of Fear” set for release May 10th via Haywire Records. Footage filmed during the recording of the album at Consonance Studio in Timisoara, Romania. Music by Methadone Skies. Keyboards and synthesizers were added by Marius Muntean (The Thirteenth Sun, Black Water).

The artwork was illustrated by Mihai Manescu (Obsidian Nibs). Different Layers of Fear was recorded at Consonance Studio in Timisoara in October – November 2018 by Edmond Karban, Cristian Popescu & Andrei Jumuga (all members of dordeduh, Sunset in the 12th House), then mixed and mastered by James Plotkin in December 2018 – January 2019.

Methadone Skies are:
Wehry – Guitar
Casi – Guitar
Mihai – Bass
Retea – Drums

Methadone Skies on Thee Facebooks

Methadone Skies on Bandcamp

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Soldati Post New Single “El Fuego Quema”

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

soldati

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but it’s time for Soldati to hunker down and make their debut full-length. The three-piece led by Sergio Chotsourian, formerly of Los Natas and also of Ararat, and featuring Ararat drummer Alfredo Felitte and bassist Lucas Cassinelli (also Hospital) have issued a handful of singles at this point (discussed here, here and here) as well as their self-titled EP (discussed here), and “El Fuego Quema” works in defiance of everything they’ve done up to this point. Where until now they’ve decidedly been a rock band, “El Fuego Quema” pulls back on the distorted thrust and instead offers a bluesy acoustic guitar line accompanied by some percussion and harmonica. It’s more in line with something one might expect from Sergio Ch.‘s solo incarnation than what Soldati have heretofore put on offer, but then, the problem with that isn’t anything the band are doing or not — the problem is the limit of expectation.

Last time I posted about the band, I said much the same about their getting to work on album number one. Well, I don’t know what the plan is or when that’s happening or whether or not “El Fuego Quema” or any of the prior-posted tracks — “Aurora,” “El Nudo en la Soga,” or “El Latigo y las Riendas” — will be included when the time comes. At this point, there’s probably enough for an LP assembled from the prior digital one-offs and maybe a song or two from the EP if the band wants, but it could also be that there’s an entirely different batch of material that will be put together whenever they get there. What’s important for the moment, though, is that “El Fuego Quema” makes Soldati as a whole a less predictable outfit and greatly increases the scope of what they might do on that album. For those of us anticipating the arrival of such a thing, it’s good to know how far they can push Soldati and still be within the sphere of the band. Chotsourian has never been shy about sharing material between his songwriting incarnations — “Aurora” was the title-track on his second solo album — so who knows how it will all shake out with “El Fuego Quema,” but it certainly captures an atmosphere as presented here.

Please enjoy:

Soldati, “El Fuego Quema”

SOLDATI “EL FUEGO QUEMA”

SERGIO CH. – GUITARRA & VOCALS

GRABADO, MEZCLADO Y MASTERIZADO POR SERGIO CH. EN DEATH STUDIOS
ARTWORK POR SERGIO CH.
PRODUCIDO POR SERGIO CH.

SOUTH AMERICAN SLUDGE RECORDS

Soldati is:
Sergio Ch. – Guitar & Vocals
Lucas Cassinelli – Bass
Alfredo Felitte – Drums

Soldati on Thee Facebooks

Soldati on Bandcamp

South American Sludge Records on Thee Facebooks

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Stone from the Sky Premiere “Animal” Video; Break a Leg out May 3

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

stone from the sky

Stone from the Sky release their third album, Break a Leg, through More Fuzz Records on May 3. And once their video for the song “Animal” from the record gets to the point where the plane lands near the field of elephants in the African countryside, you immediately get a sense of where things are headed. They’re headed to dead elephants. Break a Leg is comprised of six tracks and runs 45 minutes of exploratory heavy post-rock instrumentalism, and yet there’s nothing standing in the way of its blatantly emotional expression, and where so much in the style seems to get lost in its own head — one could argue that’s the nature of it — and winds up cerebral to the point of emotional sterility.

Working its way in on a long fade of backwards guitar, animal noises and sparse percussion, “Vena Cava,” the opener and longest track (immediate points) of Break a Leg, readily counteracts that stereotype. Like Red Sparowes before them, Stone from the Sky take a personal approach to greater issues of environment and humanity’s place within it, but their sound isn’t always half as blatant as the video for “Animal” makes it seem, and as “Vena Cava” winds through loud/quiet tradeoffs with airy guitar and earthy bass working to fluidly counteract each other while serving the larger purpose of crafting the spaces in which the rest of the album plays out. “Agger,” which follows, is faster and more active in its forward push — also less than half the runtime at 4:17 — but still works with a similar tonal resonance that the leadoff lays bare and which becomes a running theme throughout the entire LP.

There’s some psychedelic reconciliation in “Therapsida,” stone from the sky break a legthe side A closer and second of three inclusions over nine minutes long — the last is closer “Rataxès” at 9:07 — but its percussive opening and turns to and from a fuller, fuzzier style of riffing tie it to a heavy rock that sits well alongside the floating notes in the quieter stretches. They have no trouble moving back and forth between them, and make their way in the second half of the song through a lysergic meander and back to the central “chorus” riff that has served them ably to that point, more slowed-down Karma to Burn than anything that might be called post-rock, but still consistent in tone and mood.

“Animal” leads off side B with another patient opening and does a particularly effective job of bringing together a harsher sense of noise and drifting guitar, like a more biting My Sleeping Karma, but distinct for how far into the wash Stone from the Sky are willing to go. They work from shortest to longest on the second half of the record, letting “Animal” lead into “Atomic Valley” (7:38) and the aforementioned “Rataxès” with a suitable feeling of moving farther and farther out, the former resolving in a massive wall-of-fuzz nod and the latter taking a jammier-sounding approach initially but revealing its linear course later as it works to payoff its own stretch and that of Break a Leg as a whole; a task in which it is ultimately successful.

I don’t think anyone will accuse the Le Mans, France, trio of revolutionizing heavy post-rock, but neither should they be discounted for whatever elements of their work might prove otherwise familiar. Their ability to evoke a sense of purpose in their material alone is a distinguishing factor, let alone the manner in which they put those otherwise familiar elements to use, and they maintain a balance between the head and the heart in their work that is malleable while also being very much their own. A deep-dive conscious listen or two will unveil some of Break a Leg‘s more subtle individualism, and prove all the more rewarding for those willing to engage with the record on the level it demands.

Clip for “Animal” is below. Heads up if you don’t want to see dead elephants.

Otherwise, enjoy:

Stone from the Sky, “Animal” video premiere

Stone from the Sky on “Animal”:

Stone From The Sky stands against this cruel and useless practice that is hunting. Elephant poaching for the ivory trade is one of its most vile expressions. Getting together the exaltation of our dirtiest instincts, the murder of animals, the pleasure of the ultra-rich and the exploitation of local populations only to destroy their own environment.

When one of the most majestic species of this planet will have been annihilated, what gadget are we gonna invent to justify the murder of other rare wild animals?

Stone From The Sky is proud to reveal its new clip in anticipation of the release of their upcoming 3rd album, “Break A Leg” which will be out on More Fuzz Records on May 3rd.

Even if Stone From The Sky is a pure instrumental band, this doesn’t avoid them to transmit their opinion about our current society in their music. And with this clip of the song “Animal”, they’re clearly stating they’re against what is currently happening in Africa with the killing of thousands of Elephants to get their tusks and after sell them on the Chinese market.

Most of the footage you’ll see in this clip has been taken from a Netflix documentary called “Ivory Game” which depicts this horrible situation. Don’t hesitate to watch it entirely to get a sense a of the problem, and how some people are trying to protect those endangered species.

“Break a Leg” is currently available to pre-order on LP & CD on More Fuzz Records webshop and on Digital on Bandcamp.

Stone from the Sky on Thee Facebooks

Stone from the Sky on Bandcamp

Stone from the Sky website

More Fuzz Records webstore

More Fuzz Records on Thee Facebooks

More Fuzz Records on Bandcamp

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Friday Full-Length: The Machine, Solar Corona

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 5th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Some bands you go into seeing knowing nothing about them and wind up buying all their albums. That was the case with Netherlands trio The Machine and I. It was the Afterburner for Roadburn 2010 (review here), the chill comedown/get-back-to-reality ease-out that the festival used to have before its lineup also got too crowded and they gave up the ghost and just made it another day of the festival proper, Roadburnout be damned. The Machine had released Solar Corona — their second album — in 2009 through Nasoni Records, and I hobbled my long-since-defeated ass upstairs at the 013 venue to what used to be known as the Bat Cave before the place was redone. Lo and behold, there were guitarist/vocalist David Eering, bassist Hans van Heemst and drummer Davy Boogaard jamming away in unassuming fashion to a not-quite-packed room, absolutely killing it for those not watching Eyehategod next door.

So yes, it was imperative to pick up the records. Solar Corona followed the three-piece’s 2007 debut, Shadow of the Machine, and was the point at which they really began to move into their own place in terms of sound, finding a take on heavy rock that was warm in tone and jammy in a way that, a decade later, feels like an early-adoption of the mindset Colour Haze brought to their own work of that era, warm of tone and brimming with an exploratory spirit. The album ran 66 minutes long, and so was a considerable undertaking, but its most extended pieces “Caterpillar’s Mushroom” (14:41), “Jam No. Phi” (11:11) and the closing “Moons of Neptune” (17:03) — and even the opening title-track (9:55) — served up some of its most satisfying and immersive material. Eering‘s vocals came and went, but were mellow enough consistently to be part of the overarching flow the band brought together, and the uptempo desert rock kick of “X.” (2:47), the percussion-laced aside “Interstellar Medium” (4:20) and the subdued heavy blues of the penultimate “Infinite” (6:22) did much to balance out those larger pieces surrounding, cleverly interspersed between them as they were. This gave Solar Corona a more linear impression to its CD release, and whatever arguments one might want to make about analog warmth and this or that, the fact that you could put on Solar Corona and just drift for an hour certainly had an appeal. Still does, I’d happily argue. Kind of why we’re here.

The Machine were happening at what turned out to be a crucial point for European heavy psychedelia. The the machine solar coronagenerational turn had begun a few years earlier, but as it was advanced through social media, The Machine arose as part of a new crop of bands ready to take on the mantle of the style as the first of a new cohort to take influence from heavy rock and spacey jams. Their sound could be stripped down to essential hook-based rock structures or as expansive as the wind crying Mary on “Jam No. Phi,” and its tone therein was classic enough to nod to greats past and then-present even as the group brought their own personality and chemistry to the mix. It was a question of vibe, and Solar Corona had an hour-plus of vibe waiting for anyone who might come looking for it. Eering‘s solos led the way and van Heemst and Boogaard made for a classic rhythm section in holding down a central progression and letting the guitar meander as it did, while at the same time giving cuts like “Infinite” and the driving “X.” their sense of movement and the force of their impact. It was a special moment, and The Machine were a big part of why.

When I saw them, they were mere months away from signing to Elektrohasch Schallplatten in Oct. 2010 for the 2011 release of their third album, Drie (review here). They would be contemporary to fellow Netherlander trio Sungrazer on the label and end up putting out a split (review here) and touring together in 2013. By then, The Machine had proven themselves a highly productive band, releasing their fourth LP, Calmer Than You Are (review here), in 2012. It was easy to see the two at the forefront of a wave of heavy psych just beginning to make its mark on the greater European underground, and indeed maybe they were. Still, it was Solar Corona that stood as the foundation of making that happen, in combination with The Machine‘s ultra-engaging live performance and the burgeoning persona in their songs. Listening now to “Caterpillar’s Mushroom,” it doesn’t sound dated for the 10 years that have passed since its arrival, and if anything, I’d only be glad to have its meandering explorations come in for a review if it did today. I kind of feel like I’m doing myself a favor in writing about it, to be honest.

First time I heard this record was on the train to the airport back from Roadburn. I loaded it into my portable CD player, put on my headphones, and let fly from Tilburg to Amsterdam, and by the time I got to the wall of fuzz finish in “Solar Corona,” it was safe to say The Machine were onto something. They would ultimately move beyond the sound that defined Solar Corona and Drie, bringing in more elements from noise rock on Calmer Than You Are, 2015’s Offblast! (review here) and 2018’s Faceshift (review here), the latter of which was the first outing to be released through their own imprint, Awe Records, but still hold onto some of the jammier stylizations that were so prevalent in the sophomore LP, and though van Heemst would eventually leave the band and be replaced by Chris Both, they’ve retained a characteristic style even as they’ve expanded the parameters of what that style can encompass. They remain a band whose “new stuff” I always look forward to hearing, as well as one who consistently defy predictability. They might jam out their whole next album. I wouldn’t bet either way.

I haven’t seen word on a new one in the works — it’s early yet — but The Machine do have festival dates booked, from headlining at Esbjerg Fuzztival in Denmark next month to a slot at Keep it Low in Munich this October. No doubt more will be added as well, so keep an eye out, but I guess if there’s an underlying point here it’s that Solar Corona was just near the beginning of The Machine‘s creative growth, and not at all the end of it.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

It got really chaotic all of a sudden today. Orange Goblin announced US shows and then Psycho Las Vegas put out the details for their pool party and I basically put the two posts up at the same time. And it’s Friday afternoon. I got in from the YOB show last night in Brooklyn at about 1AM, was asleep soon enough thereafter and up at 5. Did some laptop-futzing and put up the Colour Haze at Høstsabbat announcement and started to sort pics for the YOB review, and then the baby got up, and from there the day has just kind of been a whirlwind.

The above I wrote yesterday, basically swapping out that for doing the YOB review this morning, which I feel like only captured a fraction of how good that show actually was. Package tours, man. I guess they’re a logistical nightmare, but you could have a show with one badass band or you could have a show with three, it seems like an obvious answer to me. More heavy package tours. Make it happen, ye lords of booking. I wanna see Fu Manchu headlining with Elder and Wo Fat supporting by this Fall, or… well… or nothing, but that would be pretty rad.

No notes today. Next week is Roadburn. The note I’d post would only read “out to lunch.” I’ll be reviewing the fest as always and if you’re going, I’m the guy with the cosmic backpack. Might wear some hippie pants too. We’ll see how much laundry time there is this weekend. Still in NJ until Sunday morning and then back north to Massachusetts again. Fly out on Tuesday evening. Get in Wednesday morning. Crash, pre-show, review, sleep, wake up, Weirdo Canyon Dispatch, go, go, go until Sunday night when the universe collapses on itself and I go back to real life. By then I’ll be exhausted enough that it will feel like time.

But of course, I can’t wait to go.

So that’s where we’re at. I of course still have a ton of crap I need to get done before I get on the plane, but, you know, that’s pretty standard. Monday I’m reviewing Bible of the Devil. That’ll be fun. Check back in for it if you have time.

And even if not, thanks for reading. Have a great and safe weekend, and please don’t forget about the forum, radio stream and Obelisk shirts and hoodies.

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Stone Machine Electric Premiere “Circle” Video; Album out April 26

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 3rd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

stone machine electric

I’m going to try really hard in this post not to review Stone Machine Electric‘s new album, Darkness Dimensions Disillusion, which is out April 26 through Sludgelord Records. At this point, I think I’ve written about nearly everything the underrated Texas duo have put out, so I’m not trying to get around or anything, but if you check back in on April 25, I’ll be hosting a full stream of the record and reviewing it then. So we’ll get there, but in the meantime, I’m gonna not say everything I want to say about the four-track offering before, you know, it’s time to actually say it. Stone Machine Electric are a fun band to write about, but in almost all cases, reviewing stuff twice is a bummer. “Didn’t I already do this?” and so on.

That bit of procedural declaration aside, let’s talk about “Circle” instead. On Darkness Dimensions Disillusion, it’s an immediate standout for being about half as long as the next shortest track on the record. That is, it’s 4:44 and the preceding “SAND” is 8:19. The bookending opening and closing cuts — the names of which I’m not even going to mention because that’s how much I’m not reviewing the album right now — are both over 12 minutes. “Circle” might also be a standout in the band’s entire discography as well, though, for its straightforward structure. Intro, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, solo/bridge, chorus, end. While kind of standard for the rest of the various forms of rock and roll, it’s still a shift in approach on the part of Stone Machine Electric, who’ve traditionally been more about crafting spacious jams than hooks, though they’re not exactly strangers to the idea, as their past work has shown.

The tonal crunch of guitar comes accompanied by a more melodic vocal from William “Dub” Irvin, and the changes between the movements in “Circle” are driven fluidly by Mark Kitchens‘ drumming in a way that underscores the jammy foundations shown on the rest of the album — which, again, I’m definitely not going to review now. In fact, I should probably just leave it there until later in the month.

Instead of hearing me ramble (more), why don’t you just go ahead and dig into Kitchens‘ art in the video for “Circle” below and enjoy a little bit of the old elsewhere-rock as only Stone Machine Electric can provide.

Brief comment from the band, live dates and preorder link follow:

Stone Machine Electric, “Circle” official video premiere

Circle is about the monotony that is life as seen from a macro perception, and sometimes you just want something to come crashing into it in order to reset the cycle.

Upcoming Dates (more to come):
4/6/19 Anderson Mill Pub – Austin, TX
4/26/19 Division Brewing – Arlington, TX (Album Release Show)
5/17/19 Lost Well – Austin, TX
6/28/19 Tin Panther – Fort Worth, TX
6/29/19 Freetown Boom Boom Room, Lafayette, LA
8/31/19 Reno’s Chop Shop – Dallas, TX (Dallas Fuzz Rock Festival)

Preorder Darkness Dimensions Disillusion at: https://thesludgelord.bandcamp.com/album/darkness-dimensions-dillusion

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