Friday Full-Length: West, Space & Love, West, Space & Love

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 6th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Go ahead and file under Øresund Space Collective, I suppose. And while you’re at it, pick up the pieces of my blown mind after realizing that it’s been six full years since the West, Space & Love album came out. Their self-titled debut (review here) was originally released under that banner, but immediately on its own wavelength. The uniting factor was the participation of synth specialist Scott “Dr. Space” Heller in the project, but actually, at the time, two-thirds of the outfit came from Sweden’s Siena Root — those being guitarist/sitarist KG Westman and drummer Billy “Love” Forsberg — so I suppose they were even more “file under” that band, if you want to go by the pure math. In terms of their approach though, well, I’ll say the album’s on the right Bandcamp. Perhaps the last song title says it best: “Sitars in Space.” The notion behind West, Space & Love as a project was that it should be a mostly acoustic psychedelic record. Of course, synth plays a heavy role, but with Westman‘s sitar, acoustic and electric guitars, and bass, as well as a variety of percussive instruments and more guitar helmed by Forsberg, there remains a strong undercurrent of the organic to the five included tracks on the ultra-manageable 44-minute LP. Though, you know, I say “LP” and I don’t think it was ever released on vinyl. Could it be time for a reissue?

Now’s as good as whenever, in that regard, though time doesn’t really matter with a release like this. It’s not like it’s going to go out of style. A spirit of exploration pervades — they take their improvisation-minded cues from their Øresund Space Collective parentage, to be sure; not that Siena Root at this point didn’t do their fair share of jamming — but again, the plane from which West, Space & Love‘s jams came was pretty much their own. And it was mellow. Extremely so. In my original writeup for the record, I talk about it behind a nighttime headphone record. I stand by that 100 percent, but I remember clearly the scenario I was talking about was being up late at night at Roadburn in the Netherlands when I first got this CD and listening to it there basically on west space and love west space and loverepeat for the whole weekend. It’s a freakout, but such a quiet one that it was just the perfect chillout to answer that kind of sensory overload. Six years later, the feeling is much the same.

Listening to “High Rise,” “Kafi (For Your Love)” and “Spirit Blues” on what would essentially serve as side A, the flow is impeccable. From the harder acoustic strum and percussive pulse of “High Rise” through the patient and graceful unfolding of “Kafi (For Your Love)” — every bit worthy of a comparison to Lamp of the Universe, and that’s not a line I’ll often draw — and the tracklist-centerpiece naturalism so prevalent in “Spirit Blues,” each player gets his moment to shine out from the three-piece. Whether it’s Love on “High Rise” and in the one-man-drum-circle during the second half of “Spirit Blues” or Dr. Space with the synth wash at the end of the opener or Westman‘s initial strum of sitar in “Kafi (For Your Love)” immediately taking my mind to The Beatles‘ “Love You To” — where it’s always a pleasure to go — the personality of each player is in full bloom throughout, and the manner in which they meld together to form something new is nothing short of remarkable.

And that continues into “Repetition” and “Sitar in Space,” both of which speak to a self-awareness on the part of their creators. It’s easy to imagine that the last two cuts, both utterly meditative in their approach and spacious beyond even what was brought to bear on the three tracks prior, came from later in the session. They seem to be that much more comfortable and settled into a methodology — especially the closer — but I know nothing about in what order these songs happened in the studio, so that’s just a narrative brought on by the evocative nature of the material itself. That is, that 22-minute stretch is so immersive and even unto its titles feels so conscious of what it’s creating that it’s easy to thread the story that it came after the initial explorations at the beginning of the record. For those interested more by general atmospheres than the circumstances of their creation, consider it emblematic of the pull West, Space & Love elicit generally, and the strength in terms of bringing ambience to life. Because while it is for the most part a quiet album, there’s no doubting the vibrancy of West, Space & Love from front to back. “Trippy” is overused as a descriptor, but there’s a genuine sense of journey in these songs for mind and spirit alike, and whether you let them wash over you or try and pick apart each hand-drum thud, synthesized swirl and sitar pluck, the resonance of the album’s entirety will continue long after play has stopped.

It was enough, I suppose, that Forsberg, Westman and Heller came together again in 2016 for West, Space & Love Vol. II (review here). It was a less acoustically-based session, and had the gag-track “Pig in Space” to pull the listener out of the otherwise hypnotic moment, but was still a worthy follow-up to the chemistry established here, and one hopes it won’t be the last time these three get together, however busy they might otherwise be. Forsberg remains with Siena Root, while Westman‘s contributions to 2009’s Different Realities (discussed here) would be his last with the band. He continues to focus on Hundusthani classical sitar music and has performances booked between next week and late September, when he’ll be in New York and Massachusetts both for select US appearances. His latest album, Sonashish, came out last year through Bihaan Music. Here’s a bonus raag from him just because I happened to be on his website and put it on:

Of course, Heller continues to pursue the outer reaches of the known cosmos with Øresund Space Collective, about whom writing has essentially become a means of doing myself a favor over the last several years, as I find their output always to be such a joy to put on and adventure with. I’ll say the same applies to West, Space & Love as well, which it’s been a thrill to revisit. I hope you feel the same way.

And as always, I hope you enjoy. Thanks for reading.

Pouring coffee in the dark at four in the morning? What could possibly go wrong?

Sometimes I feel like the late-night/early-morning process of decision making is its own beast entirely, separate from the entire rest of the day. And then I remember things like the fact that I drove out of lunch the other day with my wallet on top of the car, losing it — which only sucks because it was a customized gift from The Patient Mrs. — as well as my drivers license, credit cards, debit card, insurance info, cash in pounds, euro and dollars, and several checks made out to cash, etc., and I remember that, no, I’m a fucking moron all the time. Doesn’t matter if it’s four in the morning or four in the afternoon. Points for consistency, I guess?

In any case, I emerged from the coffee-pour unscathed, though I still consider the oh-no-I-can’t-turn-on-the-light-because-I-might-wake-the-baby-who-is-behind-a-closed-door theory specious and ill-examined at best. Fate may have its way with me next time, but it’ll have to wait: this was the end of the pot.

It will be missed.

I’ve been up since two, which is pretty good, considering. Last night was 12:45, for example. I managed to go back to bed for an hour or so at five yesterday, and I may yet do the same this morning, but it’s basically an effort to be done with this stuff by the time The Pecan wakes up. That’s been sometime between five and six for the last month, and especially as we’ve been back and forth between Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Jersey — currently in the latter, until Sunday — my early-morning-get-up-at-4:30-or-five-or-six-and-write time has pretty much evaporated. I’ve made the best of it, and hopefully not too many typos along the way. Nothing is permanent. Someday, my son will wake up without screaming and make himself breakfast. Whether I’ll live to see it, well, let’s not be melodramatic.

By the way, in all the hubbub of traveling and dumbassery, I left my all my meds in Massachusetts. Remember last week when I talked about crying for no reason? Yeah. Tomorrow should be interesting.

Speaking of interesting, I’m kicking the can down the line again and pushing back the Quarterly Review another week. The reason? I’m just not ready. I don’t have Photoshop installed on The Silver Fox yet or a registered version of Word — the former used to making a banner, the latter for keeping track of word counts for the reviews so I don’t fly off the handle and do 500 words for everything — so that’s a thing, and I still have one or two more picks to include for a couple of the days. Getting that laptop stolen in the UK really fucked me up. I hope the dickweed who did the snagging got some decent heroin with whatever cash he got in exchange for it. I’d love to hear from (presumably) him.

So, with the Quarterly Review put off, next week has a lot of stuff up in the air. I’ll improvise like West, Space & Love, but here’s the basic formative plan I’m going from. I fully expect this will change:

Mon.: Saturnia review; Churchburn video.
Tue.: Great Electric Quest review.
Wed.: Black Moon Circle review.
Thu.: TBD.
Fri.: TBD.

Pretty vague. Sorry about that. I was hoping to pull it together on the Quarterly Review and just didn’t get there, so the stuff for the week after, which was half-planned as you can see above, has basically been bumped up. If I’m lucky, someone will feel like premiering something in all that. For what it’s worth, I’ve already got stuff planned as far out as July 31. Just not next week.

However, I remain certain this site won’t go without its due share of postery. There’s plenty out there to cover. To wit, I just checked my email and got asked to do two premieres next week. So things will shape up. I still need to look at Thee Facebooks messages as well. Oy.

Actually, why don’t I go do that. Plus it’s quarter after five, so The Pecan should be getting up imminently and I should put the first of today’s posts live.

And yup, there’s the call. Gotta run. Great and safe weekend, and please check out the forum and radio stream.

 

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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Øresund Space Collective, Chatoyant Breath: The Eyes, Open

Posted in Reviews on June 12th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Oresund Space Collective Chatoyant Breath

Every time the Denmark/Portugal/wherever-based outfit Øresund Space Collective put a record out, they’re basically sending their listenership and everyone else an invitation to share in a moment. I don’t want to make it sound too flowery, because the reality of the situation is it’s dudes in a room playing instruments, but what the band creates and has created now for well over a decade lives up to the cliché of reaching beyond the circumstances of its making. Always improvised at least to some extent — safe to say every now and then a riff someone thought of beforehand sneaks in there — their music spreads out as vast and as marvelously psychedelic as their runtimes often likewise find themselves extended. With an ever-fluid lineup and an ever-fluid sound, their latest collection, Chatoyant Breath, includes a stopover from guitarist Gary Arce, founder of Yawning Man and pivotal figure in the creation of Californian desert rock.

Issued on a limited CD and LP run via Space Rock Productions, the offering — the title of which refers to the cat’s-eye effect of gemstones; hence the French root, “chat” — comprises five extended pieces all recorded in a single day. As ever, the group is led by synth master and bandleader Scott “Dr. Space” Heller, whose custom box of wonders with its many mysterious plugs and wires is, also as ever, a galaxy-creator unto itself. Joining Heller and the core of Nick Hill (guitar), Jiri Jon Hjort (bass), Mogens Deenfort Pederson (synth) and Martin Bjerregaard (Gas Giant) on drums is returning player Nicklas Sørensen (guitar; also of Papir), and of course Arce, and together the group ranges beyond two hours and 15 minutes across two discs of positively molten spaced-out voyage. Arce, his tone inimitable and something of which the Palm Desert city council should erect a statue, plays on three of the five cuts, including opener “Peaceful Patterns” (28:37), the subsequent title-track (36:08), which together make up the entirety of disc one, and “Angular Ambrosia” (28:02) on disc two, which leads into the two final jams, “Turbulent Trepidation” (23:21) and “Celestial Sensation” (19:23).

Nick and Nicklas switch up who plays on what — though everybody seems to be all-in on the “Chatoyant Breath” itself — and whoever is involved in whichever given jam, the effect the album has is soothing enough to justify the title of its leadoff, and even as the most active moments of the title-track dip into a kind of upbeat kosmiche reggae or “Angular Ambrosia” rumbles a deeper low-end fuzz beneath the overarching airy guitar notes and copious effects swirl, the shift in the actual amount happening in any given stretch only makes the release more dynamic, rather than detracting from its atmospheric cohesion. One would expect no less from Øresund Space Collective at this stage in their tenure, and though their songs are sometimes carved out of longer jams — further editing is done to make them fit on LP — the group’s underlying mission never wavers: they are capturing the moment of creation as it happens and presenting it to their audience as pure and unrefined as possible. That said, their approach is pretty refined at this point. To my knowledge, Chatoyant Breath is the most recent studio session they’ve had, tracking with the full group in Jan. 2017 and Heller mixing over a period of months afterward.

Oresund Space Collective

Their preceding outing, Oct. 2017’s Hallucinations Inside the Oracle (review here), was put to tape in Nov. 2016, and they never seem to have a session that doesn’t result in at least one release, if not more than that. Accordingly, as this is the latest manifestation of their process, one can also see it as the latest step in their ongoing development. Chemistry at this point is a given — the band wouldn’t exist without it — but for followers of the band who may or may not keep up with their regularly-posted live free-download shows in their group on Thee Facebooks, the clearer realization of their methodology is like a status update from another world: “still here, still far out.” As “Celestial Sensation” winds down and seems to inadvertently (and somewhat ironically, given the album’s runtime and the band’s general longform ways) reference the lead in The Eagles‘ “Hotel California,” the confirmation comes through clearly of another successful endeavor and spirited collaboration. It doesn’t directly mirror the beginning in “Peaceful Patterns” or anything like that — somehow that would almost be too much structure — and the personnel has changed, but that ending nonetheless reaffirms the vitality at work behind an effort that remains serene at its heart.

They’ve never been a band for everybody, and their project remains something that not every listener is going to be able to connect with, but as the official and unofficial catalogs of Øresund Space Collective keep growing, it only becomes more apparent how special an outfit they are, and how much they’ve carved out their own place even among psychedelic jam bands. There are plenty of those around, and plenty who take the instrumentalist and improvisational approach as well, but the level of immersion that Øresund Space Collective emit is their own entirely, and the personality they inject into their grooves isn’t to be overlooked, even if they’re serving as a background or atmospheric listen — that is, even if one isn’t sitting down and analyzing every change or shift in “Angular Ambrosia,” it’s still possible to appreciate what’s happening there, and the same holds true for the rest of the record surrounding. The longer Øresund Space Collective go, the more sustainable their ideas seem, and with such an open sense of what they do behind them, their breadth only continues to move itself forward.

Arce‘s contributions, particularly to the title-track, which is the highlight here and practically a full-length unto itself, are a compelling factor, but there’s no question this is an Øresund Space Collective release. Part of that comes down to the mixing itself and the way it integrates Arce‘s guitar alongside the others and the synth, effects, bass, drums and whatever else, but really, it’s even more about the consuming whole of the jams playing out. Øresund Space Collective have their own kind of space rock, and it’s often less about thrust than it is about drift, and that’s the case with much of what’s made it onto Chatoyant Breath. Once again, the band has dug out its own place amidst the stars and cut the engine to see where gravity takes them. As it invariably must be, the answer to that question is it takes them forward. No doubt that will be the case next time as well, and no doubt there will at some point be a next time. Once you’ve left orbit, why come back?

Øresund Space Collective, Chatoyant Breath (2018)

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Øresund Space Collective website

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Øresund Space Collective, Hallucinations Inside the Oracle: Ever Explorers

Posted in Reviews on October 24th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

oresund space collective hallucinations inside the oracle

For those who’d enter the vast, dense and nebular quadrant of the galaxy occupied by the ever-expanding catalog of Øresund Space Collective, Hallucinations Inside the Oracle makes for a decidedly convenient jumping off point. Sure, its four tracks and 82 minutes are comprised of massive, improvised works of spacefaring heavy psychedelia, marked out on pieces like “The Oracle Pt. 2” by hypnotizing waves of slowly unfolding and undulating particle drift, a kosmiche cascade that those familiar with the amorphously-comprised outfit spearheaded by synthmaster Scott “Dr. Space” Heller will tell you is just how it goes, but it’s also marked out by a pretty accessible core concept, whereas some of the ultra-prolific outfit’s other recent work, whether that’s 2016’s Visions Of… (review here) and the drone-driven Ode to a Black Hole (review here, 2015’s 3LP Different Creatures (review here) or 2014’s we-made-you-look-up-a-word Music for Pogonologists (review here), might be more difficult to easily grasp.

Recorded in Nov. 2016, Hallucinations Inside the Oracle is nonetheless rich in context in that it would seem to be a logical follow-up to/expansion on two other Øresund Space Collective-related offerings — namely the full-lengths crafted by the trio of former Siena Root sitarist KG WestmanHeller and Siena Root drummer Love Forsberg under the moniker West, Space and Love: 2012’s self-titled (discussed here), recorded in 2009, and last year’s West, Space and Love II (review here).

Though Forsberg doesn’t make an appearance on Hallucinations Inside the Oracle, the release does bring Westman into the fold of Øresund Space Collective proper, and his presence on sitar, synth and guitar is quickly felt in the opener “Reflections in the Mind’s Eye,” which at 21:51 is the first of the four side-consuming jams featured, followed by “ESP (Extreme Spatial Perspective)” (19:35), “The Oracle Pt. 1” (22:24) and “The Oracle Pt. 2” (18:27), and it’s Westman‘s contributions that most stand Hallucinations Inside the Oracle out as a place for newcomers to Øresund Space Collective to dive into. The sitar, which isn’t the first thing we hear on “Reflections in the Mind’s Eye” but is pretty close to it and certainly leading the way, presents an organic core that holds together beneath the inevitable swirl that takes hold from the surrounding lineup of Dr. Space, guitarist/synthesist Magnus, bassist Jiri, drummer Tim, bassist/percussionist Hasse, and guitarist/bassist/violinist/etc. Jonathan, and as far out as the Collective go in these tracks, that core helps set a mood that has a classic East-meets-West (pun maybe 25 percent intended) psychedelic vibe that only makes the surrounding fare more immersive.

oresund space collective

Such is demonstrated when “Reflections in the Mind’s Eye” devolves late into a wash of synth noise ahead of the more Tangerine Dream-style synthesized beatmaking on “ESP (Extreme Spatial Perspective).” There’s no sitar on the second piece from what I can discern, but the synth-fueled thruster fire is complemented by fuzzy guitar and layers of various other lysergic noises, swelling in volume and falling back into the depths of the mix, the very sound of a solar system taking shape from gravity’s pull and the condensation of stellar matter. Circa six minutes, “ESP (Extreme Spatial Perspective)” seems to suddenly come apart, but Øresund Space Collective are able to regroup and salvage the jam, redirecting toward a linear build that pays off with surprising thickness as it approaches and passes its 18th minute, thoroughly living up to and beyond its title. And when it’s over? It’s that synth line that remains as the final element to fade out, ending side B with a message of underlying cohesion — a cosmic plan at work.

And so there is. That plan further shows itself as Westman‘s sitar returns for “The Oracle Pt. 1,” his utter mastery of the instrument once more on display in graceful, gradual surroundings that indeed divide naturally as they’re split up — which is to say, it’s not like the jam was just cut in half in a random place; there’s a lull there where the drums seem to end the first part and begin the second, which also finds Westman moved off sitar onto synth and/or guitar. It’s a noteworthy change because it mirrors the dynamic between “Reflections in the Mind’s Eye” and “ESP (Extreme Spatial Perspective)” back on the first LP, though admittedly, “The Oracle Pt. 2” is less beat-driven than the side B inclusion. Still, the complementary nature of one piece into the next isn’t to be understated, and that it essentially happens twice over the course of Hallucinations Inside the Oracle, albeit in different forms, only makes the album an easier foothold for listeners less familiar with the group’s work or the generally massive scope it encompasses. For those less indoctrinated, it is as much about process as outcome, at least from the point of view of one hearing it.

Øresund Space Collective, as ever, are propelled toward and their music seems to emanate from the very moment of creation itself, the live-captured improvisation serving to represent the root of that moment, the first spark of the Big Bang and all the galaxies it set in motion. “The Oracle Pt. 1” and “The Oracle Pt. 2” represent this as perfectly as any Øresund Space Collective piece I’ve heard since the 45-minute “20 Steps Towards the Invisible Door” from Different Creatures (on which Westman also appeared), because as flowing as they are, they’re also incredibly open, given to whatever the moment of their crafting might bring, whether that’s a sitar lead in the first part or the drone-backed guitar exploration in the midsection of the second.

By following these impulses, Øresund Space Collective continue to hone their singular sonic identity and the resonance of their output continues to thrill and entrance in like measure. Indeed, no matter who seems to be involved in a given release, Øresund Space Collective never fail to offer something nuanced amid their overarchingly raw process, and Hallucinations Inside the Oracle is no exception for its progressive and gorgeously executed, extended course. It’s another check-in from a place in the galaxy that teems with such vibrancy and yet seems to only have a single inhabitant — which is to say, they’re in a space all their own.

Øresund Space Collective, Hallucinations Inside the Oracle (2017)

Øresund Space Collective on The Facebooks

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Øresund Space Collective website

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audiObelisk Transmission 060

Posted in Podcasts on December 22nd, 2016 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk podcast 60

Click Here to Download

 

Consider this your usual disclaimer that, like any of this site’s coverage of year-end whatnottery, this podcast is by no means attempting to capture all of 2016’s best tracks. It is, however, over four hours long, and frankly that seems like enough to ask. If you decide to take it on and sample what I found to be some of the best material to come down the line over the last 12 months, please know you have my thanks in advance. For what it’s worth, it was a lot of fun to put together, and that’s not always the case with these.

But about the length. I’ve done double-sized year-end specials for a while now. It’s always just seemed a fair way to go. And the last few at least have been posted the week of the Xmas holiday as well, which for me is of dual significance since it just so happens four hours is right about what it takes to drive from where I live to where my family lives, so when I look at this massive slew of 34 acts, from the riff-led righteousness of Wo Fat and Curse the Son to the crush of Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard and SubRosa to the psychedelic reaches of Zun and Øresund Space Collective (who probably show up in podcasts more than anyone, oddly enough), I also think of going to see my family, which has become my favorite part of the holidays.

Whatever associations you might draw with it, I very much hope you enjoy listening. Thanks for taking the time.

Track details follow:

First Hour:

0:00:00 Wo Fat, “There’s Something Sinister in the Wind” from Midnight Cometh
0:09:35 Greenleaf, “Howl” from Rise Above the Meadow
0:14:57 Elephant Tree, “Aphotic Blues” from Elephant Tree
0:20:49 Brant Bjork, “The Gree Heen” from Tao of the Devil
0:26:27 Sergio Ch., “El Herrero” from Aurora
0:29:44 Child, “Blue Side of the Collar” from Blueside
0:35:31 Geezer, “Bi-Polar Vortex” from Geezer
0:43:59 Zun, “Come Through the Water” from Burial Sunrise
0:49:27 Baby Woodrose, “Mind Control Machine” from Freedom
0:54:11 Curse the Son, “Hull Crush Depth” from Isolator
0:59:31 Borracho, “Shot down, Banged up, Fade Away” from Atacama

Second Hour:

1:05:50 Scissorfight, “Nature’s Cruelest Mistake” from Chaos County
1:09:19 Truckfighters, “The Contract” from V
1:16:30 Spidergawd, “El Corazon del Sol” from III
1:21:24 Fatso Jetson, “Royal Family” from Idle Hands
1:26:13 Worshipper, “Step Behind” from Shadow Hymns
1:30:57 Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, “Y Proffwyd Dwyll” from Y Proffwyd Dwyll
1:39:42 Druglord, “Regret to Dismember” from Deepest Regrets
1:46:34 Moon Coven, “New Season” from Moon Coven
1:52:03 Gozu, “Tin Chicken” from Revival
1:59:49 Year of the Cobra, “Vision of Three” from …In the Shadows Below

Third Hour:

2:06:53 The Munsens, “Abbey Rose” from Abbey Rose
2:14:56 Lamp of the Universe, “Mu” from Hidden Knowledge
2:21:26 1000mods, “On a Stone” from Repeated Exposure To…
2:26:45 Church of the Cosmic Skull, “Watch it Grow” from Is Satan Real?
2:30:43 Vokonis, “Acid Pilgrim” from Olde One Ascending
2:37:35 Slomatics, “Electric Breath” from Future Echo Returns
2:43:02 Droids Attack, “Sci-Fi or Die” from Sci-Fi or Die
2:47:20 King Buffalo, “Drinking from the River Rising” from Orion
2:56:51 Comet Control, “Artificial Light” from Center of the Maze

Fourth Hour:

3:06:37 Øresund Space Collective, “Above the Corner” from Visions Of…
3:22:51 Naxatras, “Garden of the Senses” from II
3:33:14 SubRosa, “Black Majesty” from For this We Fought the Battle of Ages
3:48:23 Seedy Jeezus with Isaiah Mitchell, “Escape Through the Rift” from Tranquonauts

Total running time: 4:07:32

 

Thank you for listening.

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audiObelisk Transmission 059

Posted in Podcasts on November 23rd, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Click Here to Download

 

I’ve listened to it front to back and I can honestly say this is the best podcast I’ve made in the last five months. Truth be told, I know there are plenty of people who do podcasts as their primary outlet, talk on them and whatnot (hey, I tried it once and reserve the right to do it again at some point), but if it’s between crossfading feedback from one song to another and writing a review of a new record, well, crossfading falls into the same category as just about everything else: Write first.

Fortunately, a longer span of time between casts makes it that much easier to pick tracks. Existence does not hand you a 45-minute Øresund Space Collective jam every day, so I thought that was worth featuring, and I just got Megaritual’s new vinyl for review, so I thought featuring their more recent single-song EP would work well too.

I’m happy with the blend overall, and with Asteroid setting the tone. Be patient with it. Let it unfold. Even with a rocking start, it gets pretty psychedelic pretty quickly, and only continues to move further out. My advice is go with it and see where you end up.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

Track details follow:

First Hour:

0:00:00 Asteroid, “Them Calling” from III
0:05:02 Stinkeye, “Orange Man” from Llantera Demos
0:08:31 Hornss, “Prince of a Thousand Enemies” from Telepath
0:11:36 Ice Dragon, “Broken Life” from Broken Life
0:16:08 Wasted Theory, “Odyssey of the Electric Warlock” from Defenders of the Riff
0:20:59 Pelander, “True Colour” from Time
0:29:41 The Freeks, “Blow Time Away” from Shattered
0:34:26 Baby Woodrose, “Freedom” from Freedom
0:37:27 Comacozer, “The Mind that Feeds the Eye” from Astra Planeta
0:45:21 Mos Generator, “Outlander” from The Firmament
0:51:13 Megaritual, “Eclipse” from Eclipse

Second Hour:

1:16:25 Øresund Space Collective, “Visions Of…” from Visions Of…

Total running time: 1:58:36

 

Thank you for listening.

Download audiObelisk Transmission 059

 

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Øresund Space Collective, Visions Of…: Synesthetic Pleasures (Plus Full Album Stream)

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on November 21st, 2016 by JJ Koczan

oresund-space-collective-visions-of

[Click play above to stream Øresund Space Collective’s Visions Of… in full. Album is out Dec. 9 and available to preorder now.]

By their own count — and we’ll just have to take their word for it — Visions Of… is the 23rd release from Danish space-jammers Øresund Space Collective since their beginnings a decade ago. Not bad for 10 years of near-constant work. This latest studio 2LP comes from the same sessions as the amorphous outfit’s last two albums, the droning Ode to a Black Hole (review here) and last year’s 3LP Different Creatures (review here), and is reportedly the last of the material the group put together in Oct. 22-24, 2014 at Black Tornado Studio, improvising, playing and recording live, as always. What’s really remarkable about the trilogy as a whole is how Øresund Space Collective has been able to take material recorded within three days of each other and use it to sculpt three releases from it, each with a vastly different personality.

Duties might change depending on the jam in which they happen to be engrossed, but the personnel is essentially the same throughout the whole session with the lineup of keyboardist/synthesist Scott “Dr. Space” Heller in the captain’s chair alongside drummer Alex, bassist Hasse (also guitar, African drums), guitarists Mattias (also pedal steel), Jonathan (also violin, theremin and bass) and Mats (also bass, percussive acoustic), keyboardist/organist Jonas (also guitar), and keyboardist/synthesist KG, and yet Øresund Space Collective seem to don different personalities like planets orbiting the same improvisational star. Coming off the droning Ode to a Black Hole, with Visions Of…, they hone a funkier and markedly jazzier take.

Nothing’s universal (pun not intended, reconsidered, then intended), but that’s the impression Øresund Space Collective give in general across Visions Of…, beginning with the sprawl of the 42-minute opening title-track. At 42:12, “Visions Of…” is not only the longest song on the album that bears its name as well as the leadoff (immediate points), but second only to “20 Steps Toward the Invisible Door” (45:13) from Different Creatures as the longest piece from the session as a whole. That might be enough to make it a landmark on its own, but runtime is far from all the track has going for it, lurching to life around intertwining guitar and bass with an initial sense of foreboding that soon enough gives way to a varied wash of color, a bustling of smooth psychedelic exploration that builds and, like the best of Øresund Space Collective‘s output, finds its way as it goes, honestly portraying the roots of creation in the chemistry between the members at play and the textures they weave working as one.

The vibe that develops is bound to be immersive, but there’s dynamic to go with all that hypnosis, so that whether you want to chill and let it flow — I do — or sit and measure out every turn they make, the results are no less satisfying. There’s no shortage of dreamscaping across the considerable breadth of “Visions Of…,” but highlight solos pepper through and at times seem to lead the way through this liquefied plane, and though it’s not until they approach the 30-minute mark, when Jonathan‘s violin enters the serene sort of fray, it’s a special moment worthy of the emphasis it’s given here as the title and opening track. If these are the visions Øresund Space Collective are looking to cast, then they’re no less vivid than the Franz Waldhör painting that adorns the front cover, the two doubtless intended as complements. It is among the more lush proceedings the band has undertaken, and as such it takes a few minutes for them to pull it all apart at the end, the process beginning with a swell of volume and crash after 39 minutes in, and culminating in residual swirl and fading space noise that loses not one beat in being met by the snare roll that starts “Above the Corner.”

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Here’s where Visions Of… really gets down. Maybe part of it is coming out of the farflung kosmiche of the title-track, but the movement that “Above the Corner” seems to commence feels rawer, funkier than just about anything I’ve heard from Øresund Space Collective. “Above the Corner” (16:17) and closer “Around the Corner” (11:03) are two parts of the same jam — though, admittedly, two different-sounding parts — and the CD release divides them with the shorter, more percussive “Piece of Seven” (8:35), but the spirit of flow coming out of “Visions Of…” is never lost, especially with “Above the Corner” unfolding so fluidly and with such swagger in its guitar interplay. Space noise complements — jabs of theremin, maybe — but the prevalent theme is wah and guitars and bass alike are happy to partake, leaving the organ, keys and drums to ground the affair while the others go for a walk.

By the end of “Above the Corner,” Øresund Space Collective have thoroughly funked out, and the switch to the rhythm-minded “Piece of Seven” (part of the seventh jam of the session, according to the CD liner) does well to break up the two “Corner” pieces, drums and percussion leading the way as the psychedelia wraps itself around and oozes in all directions, synth, keys, prominent bass and so on following the rolls and circulations of the drums, which start in with snare in the second half seemingly as a sign of winding down, though in reality it’s a while and a whole lot of cymbal crashes before they actually get there and when they do, the last remaining, held line of keyboard is met by a swirl and wah-bass return from “Around the Corner,” reprising the funktitude of its predecessor almost immediately and continuing to build on it for an initial few minutes until a guitar solo begins to lead the way into a more definitively space rock push. It seems to be the drums that finally decide on a straightforward thrust and everyone else joins in around that, but by five minutes in they’re all on full go, and they continue to work around a swinging gallop of one kind or another until “Around the Corner” caps its final build, crashes its last crash, and rounds out in a last wash of fading synth.

To say that at that point it’s been a hell of a trip is probably understating it. Visions Of… offers not only reinforcement of the spontaneity at heart in the conceptual mission behind everything Øresund Space Collective do — the explorations they undertake — but of the vitality they’re able to bring to the actual sessions in the same room with each other, the feeling of bringing the audience into that space (not to mention actual space), and sharing the heart of their creative processes in such an unadulterated, unfiltered form. Though they won’t play live much, they’ll reportedly be hitting the studio again in 2017, and while one can never be sure who might show up for any given session with Øresund Space Collective, it seems only fair at this point to expect the perpetually outbound motion to continue, because even if they could at this point, I don’t think Øresund Space Collective would have it any other way.

Øresund Space Collective on The Facebooks

Øresund Space Collective on Bandcamp

Øresund Space Collective website

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Quarterly Review: Spiritual Beggars, Øresund Space Collective, Goya, Black Shape of Nexus, Cough, Oranssi Pazuzu, Karma to Burn, Black Mood, Nebula Drag, Ommadon

Posted in Reviews on June 21st, 2016 by JJ Koczan

the-obelisk-summer-2016-quarterly-review

Day Two of The Obelisk’s Summer 2016 Quarterly Review — that’s an awful lot of capital letters. I’m not sure if it’s quite such a formal occasion, but perhaps that’s just an effect of staring at some of the names in this particular batch, who from classic heavy rock to post-black metal to stoner riffs, drone, doom and beyond offer a pretty vast range and more than a small measure of profile throughout. It’s a substantial swath, is what I’m saying. If you can’t find something here to dig on, well, I’d say look again, but of course there’ll also be another 10 reviews tomorrow, Thursday and Friday, and there were 10 yesterday as well, so I’m sure something will turn up if it hasn’t yet. Here we go.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Spiritual Beggars, Sunrise to Sundown

spiritual beggars sunrise to sundown

More than 20 years on from their self-titled debut, Sweden’s Spiritual Beggars release their ninth LP, Sunrise to Sundown (on Inside Out Music). They seem to have set themselves to the sole task of making the records that one wishes Deep Purple were making, full of righteous organ-laced classic heavy thrust, driven by top tier songwriting and performance on every level. Founding guitarist Michael Amott (also Carcass) has assembled a lineup of masters, and since 2010’s Return to Zero (review here), frontman Apollo Papathanasio (also Firewind) has provided the soaring voice to add to the keyboard majesty of Per Wiberg (ex-Opeth, Candlemass) on songs like “I Turn to Stone.” The album’s 11 cuts are catchy, universally structured, and varied in their feel enough to carry the listener through fluidly, bassist Sharlee D’Angelo (Mercyful Fate) and drummer Ludwig Witt (ex-Firebird) locking in weighted grooves and underscoring the flow of what comes across like an increasingly collaborative songwriting process. Sunrise to Sundown is the sound of a band knowing what they want to do and how they want to do it and then doing precisely that.

Spiritual Beggars on Thee Facebooks

Inside Out Music website

 

Øresund Space Collective, Ode to a Black Hole

oresund space collective ode to a black hole

How many records does Ode to a Black Hole make it for Danish improve spacelords Øresund Space Collective? I honestly don’t know. Their Bandcamp lists 52 releases. Granted, not all of them are full-length studio LPs, but they jam whether they’re live or in the studio, so after a point it’s kind of moot. However many in the ultimate tally, Ode to a Black Hole is somewhat unique among them, exploring the darker side of the cosmic reaches in a bleaker, droning psychedelia spread across two instrumental tracks put to tape at the same time as 2015’s triple-LP Different Creatures (review here). Of course, it’s Øresund Space Collective, so there is still plenty of synth and effects swirl to be had, but it’s a slower galaxial movement as “Ode to a Black Hole Part 1” feeds directly into “Ode to a Black Hole Part 2.” Whatever their method of getting there, Øresund Space Collective prove once again how apparently boundless their scope has become with nuance of guitar and key flourish beneath the surface of the mix to let the listener know there’s life out in the expanse.

Øresund Space Collective on Thee Facebooks

Øresund Space Collective on Bandcamp

 

Goya, The Enemy

goya the enemy

Phoenix, Arizona’s Goya continue their forward march with The Enemy EP (on STB Records). Still fair to say Electric Wizard are a primary influence, but as shown on their last full-length, 2015’s charmingly-titled Obelisk (review here), the trio are increasingly able to put more of themselves into their sound. In “The Enemy,” “Last” and “Light Years,” that shows in tighter songwriting, some vocal harmonies on “Light Years,” and a harder overall tonal impact than the tenets of post-Witchcult Today doomery might lead one to expect, reminding in parts of the raw in-room feel that Egypt have come to proffer, burly but more about groove than attitude. The EP closes with a nine-minute take on “The Enemy” itself, adding more harmonies, some screams at the end, and a lengthy midsection jam to flesh out its extra four minutes. Goya have been and still are a bright spot (existentially, if not in mood) in up-and-coming US doom, and The Enemy might be a stopgap coming off of Obelisk, but it reminds listeners of their growth very much still in progress.

Goya on Thee Facebooks

STB Records

 

Black Shape of Nexus, Carrier

black shape of nexus carrier

In a universe full of pretenders to the throne of Eyehategod, German six-piece Black Shape of Nexus prove there’s room for genuine creativity in sludge. Their fourth offering, Carrier (on Exile on Mainstream), finds them past the 10-year mark and lumbering their way through five varied originals, from the cavernous opener “I Can’t Play It” through the droning “Lift Yourself” and the utter spacecrush that ensues in “Facepunch Transport Layer” before the villainous laughter at the end of “Sachsenheim” leads to a 12-minute take on Hellhammer’s “Triumph of Death,” which closes. It feels like no coincidence that of the Black Shape of Nexus-penned inclusions “Sand Mountain” is the centerpiece; the tortured screaming, claustrophobic riff and blend of rawness and lush depth speak to the originality at the core of their approach. There’s a firm sense of fuckall here, and my understanding is making Carrier was something of a trial, but the results are perhaps only more vicious for that, and thus stronger.

Black Shape of Nexus on Thee Facebooks

Exile on Mainstream Records website

 

Cough, Still They Pray

cough still they pray

Six years and the ascent of an entire movement of similarly-minded acts later, Cough ooze back to activity with Still They Pray (on Relapse), their dirt-caked third full-length. That movement, by the way, includes fellow Richmonders Windhand, with whom Cough now share bassist Parker Chandler and whose Garrett Morris recorded here along with Jus Oborn of Electric Wizard, who remain a major influence in Cough’s grueling, nodding filth, brought to bear over eight tracks and a purposefully unmanageable 67-minute runtime. Stylistically it’s not so far from where Cough were on 2010’s Ritual Abuse (review here), the bleak anarchistic lurch and tonal immersion still very much at the fore of “Possession,” “Dead Among the Roses” and the organ-inclusive “The Wounding Hours,” but though they can play slow enough to make “Masters of Torture” seem positively thrashy by comparison, they never lose their sense of atmosphere, as the acoustic-led closing title-track makes plain in fashion no less heavy than the punishment meted out before it.

Cough on Thee Facebooks

Relapse Records website

 

Oranssi Pazuzu, Värähtelijä

oranssi pazuzu varahtelija

It feels factually inaccurate to call something so wilfully charred “vibrant,” but Oranssi Pazuzu’s fourth long-player, Värähtelijä (on Svart and 20 Buck Spin), not only finds light in its overarching darkness, but makes it a pivotal aspect of the album’s 69-minute course. Open structures, an enviable depth of mix between far-off guitar, keys, organ, various layers of screams, etc., songs like 12-minute opener “Saturaatio” and the later 17-minute chaoswirl of “Vasemann Käden Hierarkia” offer stylistic breadth as much prog as they are psychedelia or black metal, perhaps the next phase of the latter’s cosmic wing come to fruition. Relatively speaking, the more straightforward “Havuluu” offers listeners a moment to catch their breadth, but the organ-led experimentalism of 10-minute closer “Valveavaruus” gurgles in an exploration of ambient downward plunge. One of the most adventurous black metal releases of 2016, if you can still even tag a genre to it, which I’m not sure you can. A band doing pivotal and forward-thinking work.

Oranssi Pazuzu on Thee Facebooks

20 Buck Spin webshop

Svart Records webshop

 

Karma to Burn, Mountain Czar

karma to burn mountain czar

Though they just got off a lengthy US run, the fact that Karma to Burn’s webstore offers their new Mountain Czar EP in euro instead of dollars could easily be taken as a sign of where the band’s general priorities lie. I don’t know if founding guitarist Will Mecum is actually living abroad or remains in West Virginia, but their label, Rodeostar Records, is European, they maintain a close relationship with German artist Alexander Von Wieding, and their tour schedule keeps a definite continental focus. So be it. Mountain Czar brings five new cuts, three by-the-numbers Karma to Burn instrumentals, the highlight of which is patient, jangly-guitar closer “63,” and “Uccidendo un Sogno,” an Italian-language cover of Tom Petty’s “Runnin’ down a Dream” sung by guest vocalist Stefanie Savy and featuring Manuel Bissig of Switzerland’s Sons of Morpheus on guitar. Karma to Burn very much remain Karma to Burn throughout, Mecum joined by drummer Evan Devine and bassist Eric Clutter, but they’re changing what that means in interesting ways.

Karma to Burn website

Rodeostar Records

 

Black Mood, Squalid Garden

black mood squalid garden

Comprised solely of guitarist/vocalist Sleaze and drummer Izz, German Southern metallers Black Mood begin their seven-song sophomore outing, Squalid Garden (on Daredevil Records) with a sample of Cornelius from Planet of the Apes quoting the Lawgiver to “shun the beast man,” and so on. By the time they get around to the chugging and warbling “Ohh, save my soul” in second cut “IWNAR,” the Down/Crowbar vibe has been laid on so thick that it’s unmistakable. It’s been seven years since Black Mood made their self-titled debut in 2009 – they had an EP, Toxic Hippies, out in 2012 – but their chestbeating, dudely vibes are easily sourced, even in faster, more Pantera-style moments in “Reflected,” “100 Squalid Garden” or closer “Side,” making the album ultimately a matter of taste for anyone who’d take it on. For me, some aspects ring derivative, others show flashes of individualism, but it’s a very specific vision of Southern metal at work here, and it’s not going to be for everyone.

Black Mood on Bandcamp

Daredevil Records webshop

 

Nebula Drag, Nebula Drag

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Newcomers Nebula Drag join the ranks of a crowded heavy psych scene in their native San Diego via their self-titled, self-released debut, but the trio distinguish themselves immediately with a solidified underpinning of punkish intent, so that the airy vocals of “Sano” float over an insistent, noisy crunch. That blend is toyed with in one direction or another throughout the release, the five-minute “So Low” finding some middle-ground in grunge push, but as the subsequent “Up and Down”’s Melvins-style roll and the hardcore-style drive of “Lost Time” play out, Nebula Drag seem far less tied to any single approach. It’s a dynamic that serves them well throughout the album’s 10-track/37-minute run, and they maintain a sense of rawness in the almost thrashy breakdown of “I Can Not Explain” that speaks to a lack of pretense to go along with their potential for development. Will be curious to hear if one side or the other wins out in their sound over the long-term, but in a town where so many bands are geared on being the most laid back, it’s refreshing to hear a group with a more forceful tack.

Nebula Drag on Thee Facebooks

Nebula Drag on Bandcamp

 

Ommadon, Ommadon

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After a series of numbered full-lengths, Glasgow consciousness-stompers Ommadon offer their self-titled sixth album through Dry Cough Records, Burning World Records and Medusa Crush Recordings. Doubtless the three labels were needed in order simply lift the 41-minute, single-song release, which is so unspeakably and ridiculously heavy as to warrant comparison to Buried at Sea’s Migration. Its retching lumber is superlative, and in giving it their name, Ommadon signal (and say outright) that it’s the work they’ve been driving toward all along. Fair enough. There is no moment of relenting from the abysmal intentions of “Ommadon” itself, and if this is to be the piece that ultimately defines the band, it’s one worthy of consideration for the outright extremity it brings to doom, sludge and drone, as well as the methodical nature in which it unfolds. Whatever its ultimate impact, Ommadon have pushed themselves forward and crafted an excruciating contribution that feels like a monolith bent to their will.

Ommadon on Thee Facebooks

Dry Cough Records webshop

Burning World Records

Medusa Crush Recordings on Bandcamp

 

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West, Space & Love, Vol. II: Building a Franchise

Posted in Reviews on June 14th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

west space love vol ii

A few years ago, in the always-curious and amorphous orbit of Denmark’s Øresund Space Collective there appeared lifesigns from an entity known as West, Space & Love. Further investigation revealed an album of improvised, richly organic space rock, pared down from some of the expansive jamming for which ØSC are known in favor of a naturalist experimentation. The record was called simply West, Space & Love (streamed here), and like any good science fiction tale, it easily warranted a sequel.

West, Space & Love Vol. II brings back the trio of percussionist Billy “Love” Forsberg and sitarist KG Westman — currently and formerly of Sweden’s Siena Root, respectively — and renowned synth specialist Scott “Dr. Space” Heller of the aforementioned Øresund Space Collective for seven tracks/44 minutes recorded last December in Stockholm, expanding the scope somewhat from the first outing by bringing in guests on violin (credited to Jonathan), delay pedal (credited to Mathias) and santoor (credited to Moa) to go along with the host of instruments handled by Westman, Forsberg and Heller themselves, be it sitar, Hammond, double-neck guitar, bass, cajon, ki-gonki, qaraqab, spring drum, cuica, Roland SH1000, Korg or Dr. Space‘s own custom-made analog synth. Despite this varied palette, Vol. II of the West, Space & Love saga flows together easily, and held mostly true to the first album’s ethic of recording live to analog equipment, having done basic tracks in two days with minimal, also-live overdubs following, in order to preserve as organic a feel as possible. Those efforts are audible in nearly every stretch of the record, which arranges its two sides longest to shortest (immediate points) and offers maximum immersion across the board.

Well, maybe not entirely across the board. I won’t say much for the experiment “Pig in Space” which ends side A by overstaying its welcome at 2:30, but clearly the trio were having a good time while making it. That parrot-in-CitizenKane-esque jarring moment aside, West, Space & Love sets a tone early of blending the earthly and the cosmic and holds to it for the duration, beginning with 11-minute opener “Floyd’s Dream.” Of course, the title is referencing Pink Floyd and Tangerine Dream, and the gracefully unfolding progressive guitar, electronic beats and space-drone that ensue reinforce that meld. The song follows a roughly linear motion, but its payoff remains somewhat understated — they never overdo it, in other words — and as sitar begins “Khaan Paan,” the vibe is immediately welcoming. For those who never heard Westman‘s work in Siena Root, he’s a player of significant ability and knowledge, and “Khaan Paan” demonstrates some of the form of his work as a whole, but winds up in an excellent call and response with violin in its second half, adding to the folkish impression.

oresund space collective logo

At five minutes, it feels short, but West, Space & Love still have a lot of ground to cover, as the space-swirling “2002” — another referential title — shows in its three-minute, synth-led course. Percussion pulses deep under the interwoven tones, but there’s no effort made to ground the proceedings, so they wind up that much more hypnotic, the trio lulling the listener in with this multifaceted approach and then surprising when “Pig in Space” starts out with its synth wash and oink-oink noises and moves into a funky groove with blown-out drums and more rhythmic oinking. It’s silly. It’s clearly supposed to be silly. I won’t begrudge West, Space & Love having fun. That’s obviously the point of their having gotten together again to start with.

Westman opens side B launch with meditative sitar on “Oscillations in D Minor,” an 11-minute companion-piece to “Floyd’s Dream” on side A that further emphasizes the increased breadth of West, Space & Love‘s second outing. One of the record’s most straightforward drum grooves takes hold late and provides a welcome and molten psychedelic apex, but “Oscillations in D Minor” is no less satisfying in its quiet moments, the group putting some of their richest sonics forward at the start of each half of Vol. II and still giving distinct impressions in each track. They keep expanding from there.

“Anybody out There” includes vocalizations — the only ones on the album, from what I can tell — and an overall softer touch of dreamy keys and drones, building to a wash of synth improvisation, suitably lonely in its vibe to warrant the title given but unremittingly progressive and feeding smoothly into closer “Time Compression,” which brings together both sides of West, Space & Love‘s approach in gorgeously textured space-prog, as though after all this exploring, the three-piece found a planet where all these things — plus Hammond — coexist in harmony. The prevailing vibe is perhaps more classic heavy rock with that addition of Hammond, but that hardly makes “Time Compression” out of place with the rest of the album before it. Rather, it adds to the context of the release as a whole, which builds on the considerable atmospheric accomplishments of the debut and establishes an aesthetic for West, Space & Love even more distinct from its members’ other outfits. One only hopes they decide to make it a trilogy. There’s certainly nothing here to make one think they don’t have more to say as a band.

West, Space & Love, Vol. II (2016)

West, Space & Love on Bandcamp

Sapphire Records

Øresund Space Collective website

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