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.
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 “Motorpsychoand 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.
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.
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: