Buried Treasure: Sólstafir, Ótta

Posted in Buried Treasure on February 26th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

solstafir-otta-cd

FEB. 26: It is fucking snowing again. This morning, I came downstairs and opened the blinds and no light came in, just that oozing gray that has passed for daytime for most of the last several months in Massachusetts. Yesterday there was blue sky, and I could’ve danced. The days are getting longer, I keep telling myself and The Patient Mrs., looking at the math and almost believing it. We had a little melt this past weekend, so the lowest points of snow are down to about three feet. Piles where the plows have been, in parking lots and places like that, are over 10 feet tall. Some of them look like houses.

fucking snowThey say this isn’t going to accumulate much, but it doesn’t even matter anymore. Snow’s just an excuse to stay inside out of the cold. Another foot. Who cares? I must have been feeling particularly hopeful last night when I took my copy of Sólstafir‘s Ótta upstairs last night to put it on the shelf. The album, which the Icelandic band released last year on Season of Mist, has been an integral soundtrack for this winter to the point where I got so bothered at not having a physical copy of it that I ordered the CD during one of our several blizzards. Yes, deliveries still come, even though from what I hear the trains don’t run anymore.

I had caught wind of Ótta last year, via the usual too-easily-ignored digital promo, and the Reykjavík outfit received heaps of praise around its release, all duly earned. Their fifth full-length, the eight tracks of Ótta make for an hour-long masterpiece of melancholic heft. The lyrics are in Icelandic, but the melody transcends language barriers, and whether it’s the surge near the end of the title-track, which makes for one of the most particularly memorable standout moments, the understated drums of Guðmundur Óli Pálmason grounding the string sounds and keys as vocalist/guitarist Aðalbjörn Tryggvason‘s croons become shouts, or the more frenetic vibe of “Miðdegi,” with Tryggvason‘s and Sæþór Maríus Sæþórsson‘s guitars interweaving over a tense bassline from Svavar Austman, the atmosphere remains pervasive. This is true as well as they push through the quiet lushness of the penultimate “Miðaftann.” Just because I’d make a fool out of myself if I tried to pronounce any of it doesn’t mean it’s not beautiful.

The ebow to organ shift in 11-minute closer “Náttmál” and the waves of blastbeatssolstafir otta that accompany the apex are something special, but for much of Ótta, it’s the softer stretches that create the ambience. Piano and subdued vocals start opener “Lágnætti,” which picks up soon enough but holds firm to a contemplative impression, and the wide spaces crafted by “Rismál” seem to bring to life the unceasing bitterness of winter’s cold. They don’t shout about it. It’s a kind of resignation, to which the subsequent “Dagmál” and “Miðdegi” add further emotional and sonic depth, Sólstafir holding onto a heaviness in sound but making an even more resonant impression with the album’s spiritual weight. To me, it just sounds like this interminable season, and I know that in years to come, that’s how I’ll identify it. Already it has proved a haunting presence.

So much so, that when the snow started to fall this afternoon, I had no choice but to go back upstairs and retrieve the Ótta CD, put it on and make my way toward and through the desperate thrust of “Nón” again. I’m sure it won’t be the last time before the snow melts. Yes, it’s brilliant and progressive and all that other shit “critics” say when they like something, but mostly, I’m glad to have the bit of comfort Sólstafir offer.

Sólstafir, Ótta (2014)

Sólstafir on Thee Facebooks

Sólstafir on Bandcamp

Season of Mist

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Buried Treasure: Big Scenic Nowhere, Big Scenic Nowhere

Posted in Buried Treasure on January 22nd, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

big-scenic-nowhere-cd-and-liner

The history behind Big Scenic Nowhere is nearly as complex as the desert ecosystem that gave birth to the project in the first place, and before I get into it, I want to send a personal thanks to Nick Hannon, bassist of the UK’s Sons of Alpha Centauri, who was kind enough to send me their demo. Hannon, who of course also plays in the just-reviewed Yawning Sons alongside Yawning Man‘s Gary Arce, and has appeared on split releases between Arce‘s WaterWays, Sons of Alpha Centauri and Australia’s Hotel Wrecking City Traders (who also had a collaboration with Arce out), as well as Yawning Sons and WaterWays, in different big-scenic-nowhere-cd-sleevepermutations of players working together and collaborating. Arce, whose guitar tone is one of the founding tenets of desert rock, is generally at the center, and that proves to be the case in Big Scenic Nowhere as well.

It seems unfair to call Big Scenic Nowhere a short-lived project considering that it involves Arce and bassist Mario Lalli, who’ve played together for over 25 years in Yawning Man, as well as drummer Tony Tornay, who doubles in Lalli‘s “other band,” Fatso Jetson, and could be heard last year propelling the formidable Napalm Records debut from Brant Bjork and the Low Desert Punk BandBlack Power Flower (review here). But while these three know and have worked together for a long time one way or another, as Big Scenic Nowhere, their tenure was brief. The band was born out WaterWays, which featured vocalist Abby Travis in addition to ArceLalli and Tornay, when the recordings for their debut album got tied up in legal issues. Big Scenic Nowhere went back into the studio, re-recorded the tracks instrumentally, and set about releasing tbig scenic nowhere liner 1hem on their own, posting them on YouTube, etc.

That was circa 2008/2009. In 2010, most of the WaterWays songs would surface on the aforementioned splits with Yawning Sons and with Sons of Alpha Centauri and Hotel Wrecking City Traders, so that material is out there. It exists. In the wake of that, Big Scenic Nowhere were just about done. Yawning Man, with Arce and Lalli, put out Nomadic Pursuits (review here) and Fatso Jetson, with Lalli (on guitar/vocals) and Tornay, put out Archaic Volumes (review here). That’s half a decade ago now, and the Big Scenic Nowhere CD was included as a bonus for anyone who purchased the splits. So far as I know, that and at shows were the only ways it ever officially came out, despite the fact that the original recordings of most of these songs, with Travis, have been released on those two split offerings.

Like I said, it’s a complex history.

But the end result is that Big Scenic Nowhere have wound up as this kind of hidden secret of Californian desert rock.big scenic nowhere liner 2 The CD — you might note the shadow of the famous “Welcome to Sky Valley” sign on the dry cracked earth on the disc itself– contains all the dynamic turns one might expect from a Lalli/Tornay rhythm section and the signature bliss of Arce‘s guitar, and in addition to the six prior-recorded songs that would be later released by WaterWays, there are also the original “Bows and Arrows,” a cover of “Somewhere over the Rainbow” and a live set from the Date Shed in Indio, CA, broken down into two separate jams and presented complete with a spoken introduction. All told, it’s a 57-minute collection that, particularly for fans of Yawning Man is probably worth being easier to track down than it is. Big Scenic Nowhere wound up in a strange position once the WaterWays stuff came out, but even instrumental, songs like “Waterways,” “Queen of the Passout Riders” and “Three Rivers” retain a memorable feel. Liner notes from Arce that explain the whole situation are included, so you can work your way through to how the tracks got to be what they are. Even out of context, however, they leave an impression, whether you heard the WaterWays splits or not.

Big Scenic Nowhere, “Memorial Patterns”

Big Scenic Nowhere on Thee Facebooks

Gary Arce’s Soundcloud page

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Buried Treasure: Glowsun, Eternal Season

Posted in Buried Treasure on December 30th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

glowsun-eternal-season-cd-cover

Some records just gnaw at you, and that’s the short version of the story of me and Eternal Season. The sophomore outing and Napalm Records debut from Lille, France-based trio Glowsun was released in 2012, and I got the usual digital promo of it at the time. I’d greatly enjoyed the 2011 split between Glowsun and German jammers Electric Moon, cleverly titled Sun and Moon (review here), but basically I didn’t want to dig into Eternal Season, wind up loving it and then have to chase down a copy. I kept up with the band as they did various fests — Keep it LowDesertfest — played shows alongside countrymen Mars Red Sky and released a video for “Lost Soul,” the third of the album’s eight tracks, but still never really sat with the record itself.

glowsun eternal season digipakFinally, just after Xmas, I saw their name somewhere again and popped onto Major Corporate Purveyor X™ to look for a deal, and there was one, so with a couple extra bucks in my account after the holiday, I finally decided to make it mine. It showed up in the mail today and as usual, I feel like twice the sucker for sleeping on it for so long. Glowsun — the trio of guitarist/vocalist Johan Jaccob (also responsible for the gorgeous artwork on the six-panel digipak), bassist Ronan Chiron and drummer Fabrice Cornille — proffer dense low end and airy psychedelics in kind, equally comfortable in long instrumental passages like those of “From the Sky” or “Dragon Witch” as they are in the chugging progressive rock of “Reverse” or the jabbing CD bonus track “No!,” which arrives after the closer of the album itself, “Money Time,” a song that could just as easily be named in homage to Monkey3 as for its primate samples.

“Lost Soul” effectively blends the various sides at work throughout, but at least what I’ve found in listening so far is that like their labelmates in My Sleeping KarmaGlowsun‘s Eternal Season is better taken as a whole, without so much of a focus on individual turns as on overarching atmosphere — of which it has plenty. A creepy opening in “Thing” gives way to driving heavy rock with vocals emerging after three minutes in, and “Sleepwaker” assaults with noise up front only to provide both Cornille‘s most satisfying glowsun eternal seasonperformance but an apex that functions to payoff the record as a whole in stylized fashion. From the gradual unfolding of opener “Death’s Face,” Chiron‘s basslines are the foundation on which the songs play out, but the variety of direction and consistency of tone make the listening experience as immersive as it is entrancing. That is, you can dig as deep as you might want to go, and there’s still substance to be found.

Along with a slot at 2015’s Hellfest and no doubt others, Glowsun have a new full-length slated for release in 2015. Might be needless to say — I will anyhow — but letting one of their records slip by me isn’t a mistake I’m going to make twice. I’m glad I finally caved and picked this one up.

Glowsun, Eternal Season (2012)

Glowsun on Thee Facebooks

Eternal Season at Napalm Records

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Buried Treasure: Beast in the Field, The Astral Path to Satan’s Throne

Posted in Buried Treasure on November 10th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

beast-in-the-field-the-astral-path-to-satan's-throne-live-at-widr

I managed to buy just one CD while on tour recently and it was the new live album from Michigan instrumental destroyers Beast in the Field. Recorded in 2012 as an in-studio performance at the Kalamazoo-based radio station WIDR, it’s been given the cumbersome title The Astral Path to Satan’s Throne and coupled with a sans-dialogue comic book featuring the band’s two members, guitarist Jordan Pries and drummer Jamie Jahr. At first I thought I might’ve had it wrong it and it was a DVD because of the case, but no, it’s a CD. After seeing even half of the band’s amplifier stack in Lansing, it became quickly apparent they don’t do anything small.

beast-in-the-field-the-astral-path-comic-pagesLike their five studio albums, The Astral Path to Satan’s Throne is out on Saw Her Ghost Records, which has overseen everything the two-piece has done since their 2007 debut, Goat Isle Seance. That record is represented here by “Deep in the Caves,” which follows a noisy solo by Pries, and is preceded by “The Destroying Angel” and followed by closer “Through the Fires in all of Hell,” both of which come from 2011’s Lucifer, Bearer of Light. That would’ve been Beast in the Field‘s newest album at the time, though interestingly, the first three cuts they played at WIDR were “Hollow Horn,” “Altar Made of Red Earth” and “Wakan Tanka,” which also appear in that order following the intro “Great Watcher of the Sky” on 2013’s stellar The Sacred above, the Sacred Below (review here, stream here). Whether Pries and Jahr had recorded by then or were hammering out the flow of the album in a live setting, I don’t really know, but in hindsight it makes for some sound continuity from the record to the live outing and gives some sense of how the duo relate shows and studio work.

Unsurprisingly, they kill it. I’d be interested to know how many cabinets they didn’t bring to the radio station that day, but whatever balance they found, the audio is clear on both guitar and drums — or at least no more blown out than sounds cool — and the sheer density of their tone and impact of their crash are both captured. Speaking of “captured,” that’s pretty much the plot of the comic book as well. Pries and Jahr load up their gear and are in their van headed to, wouldn’t you know it, Kalamazoo, when all of a sudden they’re kidnapped by naked-lady demons and taken to some approximation of an underworld where they’re torn apart and fed to a beast-in-the-field-the-astral-path-back-and-comic-coverskeletal version of a four-horned goat beast. I won’t spoil the ending, if they get out of it or not. With art by Mark Rudolph, it’s an engaging complement to the recording itself, and puts The Astral Path to Satan’s Throne in different category of releases than it might otherwise reside in were it just a live album. It may still be a stopgap en route to whatever Beast in the Field do next, but there’s enough presence and force behind the band’s sound that whatever they’ve got, it’s bound to turn a few heads. Just far enough to hear a pop.

With bonus points earned for the smiling cartoon depictions of Pries and JahrThe Astral Path to Satan’s Throne is further proof of how ready Beast in the Field are for recognition outside regional borders. For now, they remain a secret kept all too well.

Beast in the Field, Live at Dirt Fest, Aug. 9, 2014

Beast in the Field on Thee Facebooks

Saw Her Ghost Records

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Buried Treasure: Sound Effect Records in Athens, Greece

Posted in Buried Treasure on July 31st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

A couple weeks ago, when The Patient Mrs. was in Athens, Greece, on one of her I’m-brilliant-so-I-get-to-do-awesome-things field trips, she mentioned over Skype that she has passed by a record store. If there’s one thing I like, it’s record shopping on foreign soil, even vicariously, so I got the name from her — Sound Effect Records — and proceeded to look them up. The second I saw that owner Yiannis Andriopoulos had the nickname “Kaleidosmoker” I knew she had stumbled onto the right place.

Turns out Andriopoulos was a former ‘zine head with a long history in Greece’s heavy rock scene. Sound Effect also runs a label out of the store and has distributed cool stuff from Montibus Communitas and others, so I immersed myself in the thousands of selections on the Discogs page and started putting together a wishlist. I kept it to CDs — traveling with vinyl yourself is bad enough, let alone asking your wife to do it — and passed it on to her, with links, and told her when she went to the shop to ask for Yiannis, figuring that he’d be able to help her out with the stuff if she couldn’t find it.

Had to get a few Greek acts in there, and Planet of Zeus were on my mind for having recently checked out their Vigilante album (review here), so their first album, 2008’s Eleven the Hard Way, made the cut, as did Brotherhood of Sleep‘s 2009 self-titled debut. Both bands are native to Athens, and since I already had a copy of the new 1000mods, I was glad to dip back to some older, less available releases. There was also a ready stock of Nasoni Records stuff — not the first Weltramstaunen, unfortunately — but I asked her to grab Baby Woodrose‘s Dropout! collection of covers and a reissue of The Rising Sun‘s 1969 LP, Born to be Wild, as well as the 2CD Entering into the Space Country/Phaze Your Fears collection from Øresund Space Collective.

When she got home this weekend, she surprised me by bringing not only those, but the 2LP version of Los Natas‘ El Universo Perdido de Los Natas, filling both the Nasoni and the vinyl quotas in one fell I’m-the-luckiest-dude-ever swoop. I have the corresponding CD version that Oui Oui/MeteorCity released in 2007, but both the thought and the gatefold were beautiful, and if it’s another excuse to spend some time listening to Los Natas, I’m not going to lose. Apparently at some point in her trip to Sound EffectThe Patient Mrs. also let it slip that she was buying for her husband, explained who I was, and Andriopoulos gave her a copy of one of Sound Effect Records‘ releases, a joint issue with Nowhere Street Music from the band Drug Free Youth called A Message from Now.

And I’m glad he did, because apart from the Los Natas vinyl, the Drug Free Youth CD might be the find of the trip. A modded-out late-’60s-style psych rocker, it’s got plenty of garage organ and guitar jangle. It’s actually a message from eight years ago, having been released in 2006, but the sound and production date back way further than that. It’s got 15 tracks in about 45 minutes, and they keep things pretty simple structurally, otherwise, but the 7:47 closer “Visions of a Gypsy Queen” — Eastern European influence in the organ and all — the buzzsaw leads in “Time is Iced in an Instant,” and the steady wash of effects and echo overall provide plenty of nuance for those who’d dig below the raw retro veneer. It’s a cool vibe and I’m glad I got to hear it.

I probably won’t get to Athens anytime soon, but I hugely appreciated The Patient Mrs. keeping an eye out for some records on my behalf, and thanks to Yiannis from Sound Effect for steering her in the right direction on the stuff I’d checked out on his Discogs. There’s a ton of vinyl as well, and between that and the store’s website itself, plenty of fodder for perusal. Obviously no complaints from my end.

Drug Free Youth, Selections from A Message from Now (2006)

Sound Effect Records website

Sound Effect Records on Discogs

Sound Effect Records on Thee Facebooks

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Duuude, Tapes! Dozer, Universe 75 Demo

Posted in Buried Treasure, Duuude, Tapes! on July 23rd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

A band’s early days are often a mishmash of releases, songs cobbled together from rehearsal recordings and put out as demos with live tracks from shows or different sessions. A few songs are copied for friends one week, and the next a demo is professionally pressed under the same title. That’s just part of promoting a new band. You try and get as much out there as possible. As such, when I opened the mail and found this surprise copy of Dozer‘s 1998 demo, Universe 75 — the tape gifted to me unexpectedly by Lansing, MI’s Postman Dan, who’s come up around these parts a few times over the years and will again before the next week is out — it wasn’t a shock to discover that its tracklisting differed from what’s largely been settled on as being Universe 75.

I know the story behind this tape, know that Dozer guitarist Tommi Holappa sent it to Dan when Dozer were putting out their early material, that it came with an orange flyer that had Han Solo on it firing a blaster the laser of which was the Dozer logo, and if you can’t trust Postman Dan, you can’t trust nobody, so its authenticity is without question as far as I’m concerned. I damn near wept when I opened the package and found it.
What’s commonly regarded as Universe 75 has six tracks, and this tape — dubbed onto a Maxell 100-minute blank cassette, though of course it reaches nowhere near that mark time-wise — has four. “Supersoul,” which opens, is the only song shared between the two. It and “Captain Spaceheart” — written in the liner here as “Captain Space Heart” — also appeared on Dozer‘s 2000 full-length debut, In the Tail of a Comet, while “Centerline” and “Tanglefoot” showed up later in 1998 on the first of the two Dozer vs. Demon Cleaner split releases.

At this point, Dozer was Holappa, guitarist/vocalist Fredrik Nordin, bassist Johan Rockner and drummer Erik Bäckwall, and these songs were recorded at the end of Jan. 1998 by Bengt Bäcke — here given the nickname “Action.” Of course, he’d come a long way by the time he was continuing to work with Holappa in Greenleaf and tracking that band’s albums, but even in ’98, Bäcke knew what he was doing. The sound of the tape is raw, and the bass is way, way high in the mix, but overall it’s clear enough to get a sense of the songs and where Dozer were coming from stylistically in some of their earliest days, Nordin sounding more directly indebted to Kyuss‘ John Garcia than he even would by the time In the Tail of a Comet was released, and the band seeming to work at full stonerly jamble on “Captain Space Heart” only to up the swing as “Tanglefoot” closes out.

As a longtime nerd for Dozer (obviously not as long as the Postman), I felt incredibly fortunate to hear these songs at all, let alone to be able to sit with them and think of them in context of the Borlänge four-piece’s pre-debut-LP progression. They were prolific as they solidified their sound, and over singles, EPs and splits with Demon Cleaner and Unida, they honed a reinvented — maybe “relocated” is the word? — take on what was then desert rock that of course would turn them into something different entirely over their years together, which hopefully aren’t done as they continue to play shows periodically. A snapshot of one of Sweden’s greatest contributions to heavy rock as a young band is something genuinely special, and I know I’ll cherish it in a cool, dry place for years to come and use it as fodder while I continue to campaign for a compilation of their pre-album material.

Dozer, “Centerline”

Dozer on Thee Facebooks

Dozer’s website

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Buried Treasure: Isis, Celestial Pre-Release Version

Posted in Buried Treasure on June 10th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

I’ve done my absolute best these last six months or so to buy as little music as humanly possible. As I’ve lost jobs and seen my income go from what it was last year at this time to half that, to less than half that, to nothing, it’s felt like the very least I can do to stop scrolling through online shops or thumb my way through record bins trying just basically looking for one more thing to own. Just out of fairness to The Patient Mrs., if the actual financial concern isn’t enough. I won’t lie: I’ve missed it. And it hasn’t been easy. Between new stuff that’s come out in the last year — I’ve got a running list on a post-it note on my wall and it goes back a ways by now — and the joy of actually going to a store and finding something used I never expected to see and sometimes didn’t even remember I wanted, I’ve felt like something that I used to really enjoy, I can no longer do because I don’t have the money to spend.

At least I ever did, right? I’m not saying I’ve got it tougher than anyone — ever — because basically I don’t. My point is that when I ran into the pre-release version of Isis‘ 2000 full-length debut, Celestial, yesterday at Armageddon Shop in Boston, it was something I knew I shouldn’t buy. I knew it was there. They had three of them at one point — Celestial, 1998’s preceding Mosquito Control (it might’ve been The Red Sea) and 2001’s subsequent SGNL>05 EPs — and I had seen them a few months back last time I was in the store, in the case at the counter in a small box of oddly-shaped or rare CDs. You have to ask to look. Yesterday, after perusing the wall of discs and feeling positive about a three-dollar copy of Cavity‘s On the Lam, I decided to take another gander at the Isis discs. I knew what they were, I didn’t imagine they were gone, and I knew how much they cost: $29.99. Not cheap for anything at this point, let alone an album I’ve already owned for more than a decade.

I suppose I could say that it was the fact that Mosquito Control was gone from the box that called me to action in buying Celestial — getting both that and SGNL>05 would’ve been absolutely out of the question, and given the choice, I’ll take the full-length — and maybe that was a factor, but the root of it was more that I miss buying records. I miss going to a store, picking up something like this and delighting at the prospect of making it mine. I wanted it. It was overpriced, but the inside liner confirms that, indeed, there were only 40 of them made (mine is number 24), and put out by Escape Artist Records in advance of the album itself. Yeah, the cover art hijacked from the self-titled Godflesh EP was also a factor, my enjoyment of that blatant acknowledgement of influence made only more fervent by knowing they used the same cover for these versions of the other releases as well. All three sitting there, daring anyone who’d look at them to recognize that face.

That’s not to take away from the impact of Celestial sonically. I think we’re probably still a couple years too close to post-metal’s overexposure — bands taking no small measure of influence from Isis‘ largely unfuckwithable first three long-players; Celestial, 2002’s Oceanic and 2004’s Panopticon — and just hammering those ideas into the ground, but Celestial still remains about as close to “atmospheric sludge” as anyone has ever come, an aggression metered out across varied, lurching cuts like “Deconstructing Towers” and the later “Collapse and Crush” interspersed with ambient interludes titled to maximize a theme that would soon enough tie in with the follow-up EP. A breath-stealing undertaking at over 51 minutes, the pre-release version advises, “Listen to this goddamm (sic) thing the whole way through for best results,” but with a record as densely packed and, at times, vicious as Celestial was at the time, they weren’t by any means making it easy. Then based on the East Coast, Isis were a direct answer to the Bay Area’s Neurosis at their most unbridled, and while their musical paths would diverge, that influence, as well as that of Godflesh, would remain a typifying factor throughout much of Isis‘ career, for better or worse.

So yeah, Celestial crushes, and it still crushes, and between that and the added nerdout factor of the swiped artwork, the limited release and my own wistfulness at the thought of leaving it there again, I picked it up. I won’t say I don’t feel guilty, because money really is tighter than would allow for such things, but cash comes and goes and this is mine now.

Got that Cavity too, so right on.

Isis, Celestial (2000)

Armageddon Shop

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Buried Treasure: Monster Magnet, Love Monster

Posted in Buried Treasure on May 20th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

I only purchased two CDs at this year’s Roadburn festival. One was Rotor‘s 2, which I was far less than thrilled to discover later that I already owned (it was their first one I wanted), and the other was Love Monster, a 2001 compilation of Dave Wyndorf‘s pre-Monster Magnet demos, recorded in 1988. This one, which I didn’t already own, has been on my radar for a while, and though I was royally, epically broke at the fest, I used some of the Euros left in my wallet from 2013 to pay for the disc, which came out on Wrong Way Records basically as a fan-piece for Monster Magnet heads who maybe by then were missing the band’s more psychedelic side.

Remember, this was 2001, the same year Monster Magnet put out God Says No, right around the height of their commerciality, so in a way a release like this was bound to happen. 3,000 copies were made, and indeed, the seven tracks do capture some of the space-rocking spirit of Monster Magnet‘s earliest work — their landmark debut, Spine of God, would see US release in 1992, following a self-titled EP in 1990 — but there’s more to it than that. The material was recorded on a 4-track by Wyndorf himself, so it’s pretty blown out and raw, but there are shades of pre-industrial new wave on “Atom Age Vampire” and Wyndorf adjusts his attitude-drenched vocals accordingly, and “Brighter than the Sun” coats classic garage riffing in echo like the prototype for a psychedelic punk movement that never really existed. Rawness notwithstanding, a lot of what would prove so pivotal to Monster Magnet‘s sound is there on Love Monster, which if nothing else underscores the clarity of vision at work in the band from its launch.

There are seven tracks on the CD, with the penultimate “Five Years Ahead” a cover of obscure New York psych rockers The Third Bardo‘s 1967 single, and the closer “Snoopy” a 10-minute effects-laden noise-buzz freakout, but really, the appeal of Love Monster when it was new would’ve been the chance to hear where Monster Magnet came from some 13 years earlier. Now, another 13 years after that, the EP still has that appeal, however rough it might sound, and in the clever lyrics of “Poster” and the bright-toned bliss of “War Hippie” one can hear one of psych rock’s most accomplished songwriting processes beginning to take shape. What Monster Magnet would go on to accomplish and the influence they’d wind up having didn’t come solely from the songs on Love Monster, but they were a step on the way to getting there, and for that, I was more than happy to shell out a couple of my remaining Euros for the disc.

Monster Magnet, “Poster”

Monster Magnet on Thee Facebooks

Monster Magnet’s website

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