VINYL WEEK: 35007, Especially for You, 35007 and Liquid

Posted in On Wax on September 18th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

During their time together, it was said that Netherlands-based progressive heavy rockers 35007 were “a state of mind.” That’s fair. A lot of bands have slogans. Looking back on their catalog now, nearly a decade after the 2005 release of their final album, Phase V (discussed here), their discography seems less a state of mind than a world to be explored. Germany’s Stickman Records, which was the band’s label home for most of their tenure, has continued to foster that exploration since 35007‘s dissolution, both in making their studio outings available to those bold enough to find it and in fostering other European heavy prog acts like Motorpsycho, whose legend and catalog seems to grow each year. In a grand gesture of reverence, Stickman has recently reissued three of 35007‘s albums on vinyl: 1994’s Especially for You debut, 1997’s sophomore long-player 35007, and 2002’s Liquid.

Each release is different, and it’s important to remember that we’re spanning eight years of the band, different lineups, a developing approach, but what unites all three is the bleeding-out passion with which the reissues are executed. Not just time, effort and money put into them, but love. It’s evident in the gatefolds of 35007 and Especially for You, or in the way the color of the vinyl matches the album artwork for all three — black and red on Especially for You, white on 35007 and blue on Liquid. These are 180g treasures for a group who, if they’d come along a decade later than they did, would still probably be considered among the forebears of modern European heavy psychedelia. In presentation and in the sound of each of these, the spirit of honoring the band is obvious and palpable, and while that might intimidate the novice or someone less familiar with 35007‘s work, the music itself is so consuming that one can’t help get immersed, first time listener or not.

A quick breakdown:

Especially for You (1994)

35007 especially for you

Their earliest work. Especially for You only barely represents the ground 35007 would cover and break in their time together. There are flashes of the progressive fluidity their heavy psychedelia would later accomplish on the late instrumental “Water,” which appears here on side C, leaving the second half of he second record to “Slide,” but much of 35007‘s first outing got its personality from its crunching riffs, and while they’d gain a reputation afterward as an instrumental unit, songs here are often distinguished by vocals, and that begins on opener “Zandbak,” which takes an early stoner rock nod and build off it with keys and samples in an nascent showing of experimentalism. The subsequent “Basiculo ad Cunnum” is more indicative of the atmospherics and blend of Krautrock texturing, tonal heft and patience that would develop in their sound, but it too has a younger intensity to it, 35007 figuring out their where their place is even as they come do define it, keyboards factoring in heavily throughout, even as side B’s “Bad Altitude” starts out all riff and swagger en route to one of the LP’s most satisfying blissouts.

Space funk joins heavy rock impulses on the later “U:mu:m’nu:” and “Cosmic Messenger,” hinting at some of the territory 35007‘s countrymen in Astrosoniq would cover in the years to come, and “Slide” closes Especially for You with prog-metal chugging — it was 1994, so Tool‘s Undertow might’ve been a factor in the rhythm and vocal shouts — and a kitchen-sink finale of noise, swirl and sampling. If anything’s a giveaway of the 20 years that have passed since its initial release, it’s the production, since the adventurousness and will toward progression at its heart is still very much evident in what they accomplish. It’s a hard record to dig into without thinking of what 35007 did afterwards, but that doesn’t makes the space-rocking “The Elephant Song” any less enjoyable as the centerpiece of side B, its wanderings both engaging and righteously trippy, buried-deep semi-spoken vocals calling throaty shots atop a deep swirl of lead guitar echo. There are bands out there today, more than a few, who are trying to sound like this and haven’t yet caught up to what 35007 did their first time out two decades ago. That sounds like hyperbole, but it’s also true.

35007 (1997)

35007 into the void we travelled

It would be difficult to mess with the low-end fuzz that underscores the breathing tension of 35007 opener “Herd,” and you won’t hear me try. I’ll again compare it to Astrosoniq‘s propensity for opening to a chorus, but it’s really just the tip of the weird futuristic submarine racing apparatus when it comes to 35007‘s second album, also known as Into the Void We Travelled. Issued three years after their debut as their first outing on Stickman, it’s immediately more cohesive stylistically, a bruiser riff in “Soul Machine” finding accompaniment in the keys and psychedelic undercurrents, the two sides playing off each other rather than competing as they sometimes seem to be on Especially for You. Of course, the ambient vibe isn’t absent either, as “Short Sharp Left,” which rounds out side A takes hold with a swaggering, almost Western, guitar line and drum stomp only after a stretch of ambience that picks up directly from “Soul Machine,” making it impossible to tell on the LP where one ends and the other starts. A lot of what 35007 accomplishes on this album is laid out in the first of its four sides, but the thrill of the journey and hearing where the band takes its now-more-solidified approach — be it the plus-sized riffing of “Big Bore” on side B or the subsequent Zeppelin-in-space acoustics of “Vein” — shouldn’t be discounted either.

“Undo” explodes to start out side B prior to the farther-out method expansion of “Big Bore” and “Vein,” but it’s side C and D that seem in hindsight to show where 35007 were really headed, and among these albums, the divide between the two halves of the self-titled is most stark. Songs like “Herd” and “Soul Machine” and “Big Bore” have an experimental or proggy edge to them, no doubt about it, but with “66” and “Powertruth” on side C and “Locker” and “Zero 21″ bled together on side D, the band shifts first into organ-laced ’70s weirdness before moving into head-down prog chug and keyboard interplay on “Powertruth” — listening right after Especially for You, the song seems in direct conversation with parts of “Slide,” but it’s ultimately more straightforward — building to a rushing head before being carried out by its frenetic keyboard line. Similar impulses drive “Locker” and “Zero 21″ — a flair for capturing the “let’s try this” moment — but the closing duo come across most as the moment where 35007 found their niche in a psychetronic (now almost entirely) instrumental blend of heaviness and atmospherics, starting so quiet and patiently evolving the movement over the two songs to the record’s blood-stirring apex. This was a crucial transitional phase in the band, and in terms of harnessing where they were coming from and where they were headed, it brings together the best of both worlds.

Liquid (2002)

35007 LIQUID

Preceded by a 1999 Stickman reissue of Especially for You and 2001’s Sea of Tranquility EP, the 2002 Liquid full-length is as aptly-named as an album can get. Of the three new vinyl releases it’s the only one that fits on a single LP — it is a full 20 minutes shorter than the self-titled and has a printed record sleeve instead of a gatefold — but the expanses 35007 cover across its four tracks more than answers for any “Hey, where’d the rest go?” type questioning that might arise. Liquid is arguably 35007‘s most essential release. Phase V would expand on these ideas and concepts and delve further into ambience, but Liquid was the lightbulb moment in the narrative of band, certainly as pertains to these three outings and overall as well. The tonal warmth in the bass on “Tsunami” or the smoothness of the production, the patience in its completely instrumental transitions and the flow between one song and the next and within songs as well as parts shift into others, it’s fluid, lush heavy psych that’s neither one more than the other in an impeccable and beautiful balance. It made space rock new again, and unlike Especially for You and 35007, it was also clearly intended to be a vinyl release, its four component tracks breaking evenly into two halves and feeding into each other with an audible break between sides A and B.

Flip the band’s name upside down and it spells “Loose,” but I’m not sure they were ever tighter or more coherent than they are here, building with keys and riffs and effects as “Crystalline” morphs gradually out of “Tsunami” to jam its way forward and back again into its own mix, a strong current of synth remaining with volume swells to set a wave pattern from which the guitars, bass and drums burst in for the final stretch, their cold disappearance after the climax seeming to cut short a track that’s already reached toward eight minutes long. On side B, the shorter “Evaporate” recalls some of the progressive metal riffing of 35007‘s earlier days, but like the band’s approach overall, it is more clearheaded about what it wants to accomplish, toying with back-and-forth tension release in what might’ve been a verse and a chorus five years prior but here serve as a means to a more complex end, giving way somewhere in a wash of keyboards to closer “Voyage Automatique” as bass plays the pivotal role of anchoring the proceedings, not weighing them down necessarily, but making sure there’s solid ground somewhere beneath all the open space. Gradually, “Voyage Automatique” builds to a head in a patient linear execution, and Liquid ends with a fading keyboard line that seems to still be exploring, reaching further out from where the band decided to vacate the jam, leaving it and the listener alike to process the data uncovered by all this exploration.

From their beginning, 35007 was a progressive heavy rock act with an individualized take. The fact that they were then able to realize their potential and push themselves further into their own sound made them truly distinct among what was happening in heavy music at the time, and while they’re not around now to continue that journey — members can be found in Monomyth and Neon Twin — reissues like these show just how special their work was. Due reverence, through and through.

Recommended.

35007, Liquid (2002)

35007’s website

Stickman Records

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The Debate Rages: 35007 vs. Karma to Burn

Posted in The Debate Rages on April 23rd, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

Okay, so maybe these two bands are stand-ins for bigger ideas, but think about it this way: The central question in looking at defunct Dutch psych proggers 35007 (on my mind following their inclusion in this month’s podcast) and reborn West Virginian riff bashers Karma to Burn is what do you want from an instrumental band? Do you want extensive musical exploration born out of freeform or structurally open jamming, or do you want head-down, driving rock, just without some singer guy blathering on about motorcycles and hey whoa baby yeah?

By way of examples, let’s take 35007‘s 2005 swansong, Phase V, and what was then Karma to Burn‘s second album, 1999’s Wild Wonderful Purgatory, which was the record that established them as an instrumental act following their 1997 self-titled debut. The 35007 made a bed of odd time signatures and underlying experiments in synth, resulting in a varied, eclectic presentation, where Karma to Burn‘s sophomore outing is among the most straightforward stoner rock albums, period. If it was any more stripped down, they wouldn’t be playing.

I’m not necessarily championing either as the best in the band’s catalog (though I’ll argue for Phase V in that regard), but looking to get a discussion going on what you want when you listen to instrumental heavy rock. Karma to Burn and 35007 — both pivotal and highly influential bands who got started around the same time in the early/mid ’90s — stand for very different things musically while still roughly residing in the same genre. So let’s do this:

Is it the expanded creative realm of 35007?

Or the balls-out, bullshit-free classicism of Karma to Burn?

You know the drill by now. These posts are always about having some fun, so wherever you stand, make sure you leave a comment below. I’m looking forward to seeing how this one turns out.

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2012 Adventure, Pt. 14: Beyond Figure Out

Posted in Features on April 11th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

04/11/12 — 22.41 — Wednesday — Hotel in Eindhoven

As a means of giving my wanderings some direction, I tried and failed twice this early afternoon to find the correct route to Memory Music here in Eindhoven. That whole no cellphone thing biting me in the ass really for the first time this whole trip. Embarrassed for myself to myself,  I stopped in at a sushi joint in the marketplace area and got a few rolls to drown my sorrows in. Crab and corn, tuna salad. Stuff you can’t get at home. Some gyoza, which were exceptionally good.

My lunch suitably devoured, I fired up the laptop to one more time give a shot at finding this record store, when, in a moment of distracted email checking, I saw a comment from a lovely couple named Chris and Maggie, whom I’d met at Desertfest and seen again at the show last night — it was Chris who told me Gentlemans Pistols were the best band in Britain — asking me if I’d made my way yet to Bullit Records Well, I hadn’t, but upon looking it up and finding out that it was closer than Memory Music and that I knew exactly where it was because of my wanderings looking for the other shop, I was back on my way in no time.

Right on my way to finding the store with no trouble whatsoever after about a five minute walk listening to Queens of the Stone Age (having gotten an itch to do so at The Rambler), I ran into said couple, who were just on their way out and full of praise for the goodies Bullit contained. They made it easy to get my hopes up, and sure enough, I did manage to find a few decent records. Actually, strike that. I found a ton of really good records, and if I was buying vinyl, I’d have been up a creek, but a lot of it was stuff I already owned or could otherwise get back in the US for far less than 18 Euro.

Still, I grabbed the Skraeckoedlan album that was reviewed a while back, a Space Probe Taurus self-titled on Buzzville, a 1996 UK reissue of Hawkwind‘s self-titled, an album called Soulful Man by young German four-piece Cliffsight (there was a sticker on it that cited Colour Haze, so I figured I’d take a chance and it’s not too bad as of the 10-minute opener) and the original issue of 35007‘s Especially for You, which I mark as the find of the day, definitely. Killer to get that CD in this place, 35007 having been so pivotal to the Dutch scene. 1994 that disc is from. Almost 20 years old.

Great find, great recommendation, and as I spoke to the dude behind the counter at Bullit — who was very kind as everyone I’ve encountered here as been and even gave me a tote bag that I will take home for The Patient Mrs., who enjoys a good tote — about Roadburn, Desertfest and whatnot (I guess he pegged me from my picks) it occurred to me just how much more present heavy rock is here than back home. Bullit was not a big store, and it was mostly metal and rock, but even so, you’d be hard pressed to find a shop like that open in the US that’s even heard of a band like Backwoods Payback, let alone one that has not one, but two of their CDs just sitting on the rack. I guess it’s getting better than it was a few years ago — thinking of places like Armageddon Shop in Providence/Boston, Rock ‘n’ Roll Graveyard in Maryland, to a certain extent Amoeba in California (though any of those three stores is much bigger) — but still, it seems more integrated here as something that’s just a given. At home, if I can go somewhere and find Goatsnake in a CD store, that’s an event. I suppose it depends on where you shop, too.

There ain’t shit for rock and roll in Jersey, is the problem. And New York’s a hipster-filled pain in the balls.

Keeping in line with my emergent tendency to heed comments on this website on issues like train connections, record stores, etc., when I found out noodly, crescendo-happy Norwegian prog rockers Motorpsycho were playing in town and that the venue was, you guessed it, a five-minute hike from the hotel here, I immediately considered going as an option for how to spend my evening. Yeah, I know I was going to relax tonight ahead of Roadburn starting up tomorrow, but seriously, what the hell. What was I going to do, sit here and watch tv on my computer for eight hours until I finally fell asleep later than I wanted to because I was all pissed at myself for not leaving the room and fidgety because I hadn’t moved in all that time? Better to just take the walk. I knew I wasn’t drinking, and I didn’t feel like getting dinner, so fuck it. I’ll go stand in a place for a while. Couldn’t hurt.

It was a little after 20.00 when I walked in. I left both my camera and the iContraption at the hotel because I knew I didn’t want to task myself with reviewing the show and I knew that, if I had either, I wouldn’t be able to resist. Sure enough, I walked in, they came on stage at exactly the same time I got there, and I immediately regretted not bringing some picture-taking apparatus with me. For the best, though. The room at the Effenaar was packed out and people were nodding along. I wouldn’t have wanted to push my way through. The light show made me dizzy, which is something that’s never happened before. The program I was given at the door — because, yes, I was given a program at the door — billed it as “Motorpsycho and Ståle Storløkkken perform The Death Defying Unicorn.”

Turns out The Death Defying Unicorn is their new double-CD, their 14th album, and they were set to play it front to back. “Ambitious” would be one way of putting it. “Noodly” would be another. But the crowd ate it up. I guess you don’t normally attend that kind of thing unless you’re a fan, and if you’re into prog like that, you’ve already got a pretty high tolerance level for self-indulgence — seriously, the program has little bios for each band member like they’re doing a play — for me, I liked the part that was slow and heavy and some of the droney stuff, but the “let’s play scales while the drummer tries his hardest not to keep time” thing, yeah, you can keep that. They did it well and the audience loved it, but it just wasn’t my thing. After about 20 minutes in, I got antsy and wanted to go see something else, which I’m taking as a sign I’m ready for Roadburn to kick off. I remembered seeing Motorpsycho there briefly in 2009 and their not really doing it for me. At least I’m consistent.

However, I’ll say it was probably still a better option than sitting here in the hotel and stewing on not having gone, restlessly waiting for the baseball game to come on so I can stream it online and trying repeatedly and to no avail to call The Patient Mrs. on Skype (not that I can’t use Skype, she just doesn’t pick up her phone). Star Trek and Game of Thrones will still be there when I get back home. Eindhoven will not. I didn’t really dig what Motorpsycho and Ståle Storløkkken were doing, but hell, at least I went and found that out for myself. For a five-minute walk and a few Euros, I could’ve done a lot worse than I did.

Checkout of this hotel is at noon tomorrow, but I might try to get out a little earlier and catch the train to Tilburg, check in at the Mercure and give myself a little time to get settled before doors open at the 013 and Het Patronaat. We’ll see how that goes, but I’m looking forward to it either way. By now, I know what to expect, and the next four days are going to be absolutely insane, but this will be my fourth Roadburn and I’m absolutely stoked to be heading into it. If you’re going, hope to see you there.

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Buried Treasure: Into the Next Phase with 35007

Posted in Buried Treasure on May 27th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster

Although I now own all their albums, I still consider myself very much a novice when it comes to Dutch psychedelic instrumentalists 35007 (aka Loose). From 1994-2005, they released four full-lengths and one EP, and though I’d already coasted my way through everything but their final release — 2005’s Phase V — I didn’t quite understand what the big deal was. And it was one of those things where, all along, all I heard was, “You need to get the last album.” Well, last week, I did just that.

I’ve had my eye out for a reasonably-priced copy of Phase V for a while, and it’s taken a while to find one. Where their prior albums like 1994’s Especially for You and 2002’s Liquid are readily available for anyone who’ll have them, Phase V is more elusive. Finally, it was eBay that came through, and I wound up paying about $20 for it, which is just about as high as I was willing to go. Copies are around for twice that, when they’re around at all.

And now, I get it. From its elaborate braille digipak packaging to the oozingly jammed sound of its five tracks, Phase V is hands-down the definitive 35007 release. All of a sudden it makes sense that everyone I’ve spoken to about the band says this is where it’s at: because, legitimately, it is. The band is relaxed, confident, still rock-minded, but able to weave in and out of a given structure with jazz-like dexterity, and man, I’m digging it. On this sunny afternoon in late May, I must have been through this album three times already today, and I have the feeling I’m not done yet.

So basically you can consider this a note to both say thanks to everyone who planted the seed to check out Phase V and a recommendation passed along to anyone else who may not have checked it out or who, like me, is perhaps otherwise wondering why everyone’s so on 35007‘s junk. Heavy jams that are more than just jams, and now I too find myself wishing the band had done more.

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Get Your Feet Wet with 35007

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 28th, 2009 by H.P. Taskmaster

Whether you choose to call them 35007 or Loose (which is their numerical moniker flipped upside down), the Dutch psych rockers went underrated in their time together — which, according to their MySpace, is finished. I haven’t managed to get a copy of their final offering, Phase V, yet, but its predecessor, 2002’s Liquid EP is just right for unwinding on a quiet, rainy Friday evening in the valley. As such, I thought I’d share. Here’s “Tsunami,” the opening cut from Liquid, in all its YouTube-ular glory:

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