T.G. Olson, Searching for the Ur-Plant: Solitary Brigade

Posted in Reviews on November 17th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

tg olson searching for the ur-plant

T.G. Olson is rarely far off from his next release. At this point, the Across Tundras frontman has settled into a steady rhythm where every few months, new songs will be recorded and presented for those who’ll have them as name-your-price downloads on Bandcamp. Sometimes — as in the case of his latest, Searching for the Ur-Plant — these DIY digital offerings will be complemented by limited, usually gorgeous and suitably organic-looking handmade CDRs pressed through the auspices of Olson‘s Electric Relics Records imprint. Sometimes not. Either way, the next thing always seems to be on the horizon. This has led to a remarkably productive few years and an increasingly complex narrative as to just what Olson‘s solo work encompasses in terms of style and craft.

Searching for the Ur-Plant was preceded this Spring by the full-length Foothills Before the Mountain (review here), which in turn followed a busy 2016 that produced La Violenza Naturale (review here), the From the Rocky Peaks b/w Servant to Blues single (discussed here) and the albums The Broken End of the Deal (review here) and Quicksilver Sound (discussed here), and the newer work follows a path distinct from its most immediate predecessor in a way that makes it more difficult to guess what Olson‘s next move might be. Other, of course, than (presumably) putting out another record. Because that’s kind of how he does. The question is how that record will be defined, and the reason that’s harder to determine as a result of the eight-song Searching for the Ur-Plant is because how much it strips down the approach taken on Foothills Before the Mountain.

On sheer sonic terms, the drone-folk arrangements of cuts like opener “On a High Like a Mountain” or the later “New Resistance Blues” aren’t necessarily new ground for Olson, but they represent a turn from what seemed to be more full-band-style fare his last time out toward a more distinctly “solo” feel. The story goes that the material was “handmade from scratch during one rainy week in October 2017. All songs were written new on the spot and recorded one by one until 33:32 minutes had been laid to bare to tape,” and having been completed on Oct. 11, Searching for the Ur-Plant found issue three days later: written, performed, recorded, produced, mixed, mastered and pressed by Olson himself.

At its most minimal, as on “Time Flies By and By,” the album carries that insular feel, but there’s also a good bit of reaching out done in these tracks, which from the early Paul Simon-style bounce of “The Old Brigade” to the later handclaps of the penultimate “Back on the Cross” seem to be in conversation with the human interaction at the root of Americana and folk traditionalism — the idea that songs were meant to be shared, sung by groups together, and so on.

t.g. olson

A big difference is in percussion and the general lack thereof, and where Foothills Before the Mountain was less shy about including drums, those handclaps in “Back on the Cross” are about it as far as outward timekeeping goes. Elsewhere, the key seems to be in call and response vocals — a theme “On a High Like a Mountain” sets early and which continues through the repetition-minded, harmonica-laced “A Constant Companion,” “Time Flies By and By,” “The Old Brigade,” “Trying to Take it All In,” “New Resistance Blues,” and closer “The Ur-Plant” itself — Olson answering his vocal lines in delayed time over acoustic and electric guitar that free-flows between drift and ramble, wistful and playful.

Given the timeline in which Searching for the Ur-Plant was put together — written and tracked in the span of a week — that such consistencies would develop makes sense. Sometimes an idea just gets stuck in your head and needs to be exorcised, and despite that steady element, the songs remain varied in their intent, whether it’s the classic melancholy of “A Constant Companion” with its echoes of airy slide guitar or the soft and swaying guitar and harmonica execution of “The Ur-Plant,” which rounds out in less chorus-focused fashion than cuts like “On a High Like a Mountain” or “The Old Brigade,” but with an absolute center based in the realization of its pastoralia, humble even as it brims with creativity and understated nuance. This too is familiar ground from Olson, but brought to bear with a fascinating patience that would seem to fly in the face of the urgency with which Searching for the Ur-Plant was written and constructed.

It would’ve been easy, in other words, for Olson to come across as rushed on a record that took a week to make. But he doesn’t. Instead, he harvests an eight-song/33-minute collection that sidesteps expectation while remaining quintessentially his in terms of atmosphere and overarching style, which is a balance that, so well struck as it is, defines Searching for the Ur-Plant and serves as the basis for its ultimate success. In intent and manifestation, Olson‘s work would struggle to be any less pretentious than it is, but it remains propelled by a fierce and apparently unyielding creativity, and though this particular outing makes it harder to imagine where Olson might go next — whereas after Foothills Before the Mountain he seemed so primed to continue working toward one-man-band-style arrangements — that unpredictability, met head-on by such depth of songwriting, only becomes yet another asset working in Olson‘s favor.

The discography he’s built at this point is something truly special, and whether one meanders through it as through tall, pathless grasses, or follows step by step as each installment arrives, journey and destination alike seem to satisfy with a warmth all their own. Searching for the Ur-Plant winds up in a lonelier place than some of Olson‘s other offerings, but its sense of longing is resonant, beautiful, and honest. Clearly the search continues.

T.G. Olson, Searching for the Ur-Plant (2017)

Across Tundras on Thee Facebooks

Across Tundras/T.G. Olson on Bandcamp

Tags: , , , , , ,

T.G. Olson, Foothills Before the Mountain: Streams of Life Below

Posted in Reviews on April 12th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

tg-olson-foothills-before-the-mountain

The latest in a long string of solo full-lengths from founding Across Tundras guitarist/vocalist T.G. OlsonFoothills Before the Mountain nonetheless represents a landmark in the prolific South Dakota-based songwriter’s steadily-expanding catalog. Where recent outings like 2016’s La Violenza Naturale (review here), From the Rocky Peaks b/w Servant to Blues single (discussed here) and The Broken End of the Deal (review here) and Quicksilver Sound (discussed here) long-players found Olson — who indeed works alone on most of these offerings, playing any and all instruments and recording and releasing DIY as he does here — dug into drone-folk meditations, working to bring together acoustic country blues authenticity and a pervasive experimentalism of form, Foothills Before the Mountain leans decidedly in a different direction.

In some cases, with a song like new-album centerpiece “Dust on the Wayside,” the change is mainly the inclusion of louder and distorted electric guitar and drums laid on top of a similar acoustic foundation, but from the opening title-track onward, Olson seems willing to shirk off minimalism in a way that feels like a significant shift, bringing in flourish of keys, flute, percussion, etc., in mindful arrangements or even just working to play the acoustic and electric guitar off each other more directly, as in “Dying on the Silver Screen,” the second track. Songs vary in structure and overall feel, some darker, some brighter, but all are marked by a production that, while raw, allows for depth enough to mostly bury the vocals in the mix, and all carry the rhythmic ramble and sway that has become perhaps the defining hallmark of Olson‘s songwriting style — or certainly wound up no less so than his Dylanesque approach to singing.

Already noted, the placement of Olson‘s vocals in the mix throughout these tracks — low, always under the guitar, usually coated in reverb; somewhat obscured by the surrounding instrumentation — comes across as entirely purposeful. So much so that as the somewhat intense guitar line of “Foothills Before the Mountain” gives way to the roll of “Dying on the Silver Screen,” which is probably as close as Olson has come in a solo context to sounding like his main outfit, and the drearier march of “No More Debts to Pay,” which is the longest cut on Foothills Before the Mountain at 5:38, one can’t help but wonder if the music itself isn’t intended as an aural representation of landscape. That is, if the fullness of sound around him isn’t the mountain and his own presence is at the foothills, lower, looking up, the way his vocals seem to be echoing to the higher altitude of the guitar laid over.

This impression holds through the moody “A Stones Throw,” and while even at their barest, Olson‘s songs always carry a sense of space with them, that space has yet to spread as wide as it does on Foothills Before the Mountain, and if the tracks are meant to tie together in this way, the theme of being made small by surrounding nature would fit not only with the starkness of the prairie that Olson calls home but also his long-running allegiance to conveying a sense of place in both his solo material and with Across Tundras, the post-Earth Americana rumble of “A Stones Throw” only providing further evidence of intent as it distant-thunder-rumbles some impending threat into “Dust on the Wayside” as the gateway to the record’s second half.

t.g. olson

The winding guitar line of the aforementioned centerpiece feels like a moment of arrival, with a steady build of guitar and handclap-easy punctuation of drums behind, but “simplicity” has proven to be a point of deception for Olson before and it is here again, as neither the elements at use nor their arrangement in the mix are at all haphazard or lacking consciousness behind them. Foothills Before the Mountain, while still sounding as organic as anything Olson has done as a solo artist in the last several years, brings forth an entirely different level of purpose in his songwriting.

I don’t think that’s overstating it, since the shift is one from doing the work of a one-man outfit to basically doing the work of a band. It’s a new mindset. The backing flute in “Leader of the New Death” might be an echo of the opening title cut, but the guitar, drums, drones, vocals and other elements at play around it seem geared toward conveying plurality, and likewise the rhythmic pickup of “What’s Mine,” which pushes the guitar even farther forward in an almost teasing verse progression, slow winding but over a straight-ahead percussive march. Olson‘s in there, a human presence in this wide-cast reach, but perhaps at his most vague, and the contrast between his obscurity and the clarity of definition in the acoustic and electric guitar, the bass and the drums is yet another example of the atmospheric crux of Foothills Before the Mountain: the evocation of landscape through soundscape and exploring where a person fits in that.

The Rocky Mountains are a humbling sight, to put it lightly, and with those foothills in mind it’s maybe not wrong to think of Olson as humbling himself before them in “What’s Mine,” ironic as that might make the title, but either way, the overarching impression of humanity as a small thing and nature as a big thing is the core of what the record presents conceptually, and it remains vigilant as side B heads toward its finale with “From Where You Came” and “Cut Losses.” The latter, the closer, is the shortest inclusion at 4:21 and it follows a tempo kick in “From Where You Came,” which boasts more stomp than just about anything before it, marked by an echoing snare, howling lead line and crisp strum. Also speedier than “What’s Mine” or “Leader of the new Death,” “Cut Losses” closes out instrumentally and comes fairly close to a genuine wash between its low and high ends, a current of drone playing out beneath energetic guitars and far-back percussion, tonal fuzz and acoustics melding together one last time against a backdrop of ghostly noise, culminating in a decisive but not necessarily cold finish.

When Olson first posted Foothills Before the Mountain — which, like all his releases, is available name-your-price from the Across Tundras and T.G. Olson combined Bandcamp page — I speculated that perhaps the fuller sound was itself the foothills and the mountain before it/them was the prospect of a new album from Across Tundras, whose last long-player, Electric Relics (review here), came out four years ago. Having dug further into Foothills Before the Mountain, I’m not sure I still feel that way. It’s certainly not impossible that’s Olson‘s intent, that this record should be a transition back into actually functioning as part of a complete-band lineup, but it seems more likely that the mountain in question here is creativity itself, and that, like all works in one way or another, these songs are telling the story of their own making even as their execution expands and in some ways redefines the scope of their creator’s aesthetic. I won’t guess at what Olson will do next, as to do so would simply be an opportunity to be wrong, but as much development as he’s shown as a singer-songwriter over the last several years, Foothills Before the Mountain feels like a crucial forward step for and from him, and whatever it leads to can only benefit from the lessons to be gleaned in its tracks.

T.G. Olson, Foothills Before the Mountain (2017)

Across Tundras on Thee Facebooks

Across Tundras/T.G. Olson on Bandcamp

Tags: , , , , , ,

T.G. Olson Releases New Album Foothills Before the Mountain

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 22nd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

T.G. Olson of Across Tundras steps away from the acoustic drone folk of his recent solo work with his latest album, Foothills Before the Mountain, and it doesn’t take long for one to notice the change. In addition to layers of acoustic and electric guitar, flutes, organ, vocals, tambourine, and so on, the opening title-track has a rhythmic heft and — wait for it — drums! It’s much more of a full-band vibe this time out, and it may indeed be that the mountain whose foothills we’re standing in is the much-awaited next offering from Across Tundras. If that’s the case, Olson is effectively drawing the line sonically in that direction here, as cuts like “Dying on the Silver Screen” and “What’s Mine” have that inimitable combination of swing and Americana ramble that has become the hallmark of Across Tundras‘ style.

I’m going to review the Foothills Before the Mountain hopefully sometime in the next couple weeks, so I won’t say much more about it than that for now. Olson, however, was kind enough to offer some comment on its making, and as ever, the album’s been released as a name-your-price download on the Across Tundras/T.G. Olson Bandcamp, and you can stream it and get the files at the bottom of this post.

Dig it:

tg-olson-foothills-before-the-mountain

T.G. Olson – Foothills Before the Mountain

New album of heavy sounds available for free/name your price download!

Played, recorded, and mixed by T.G. Olson in the months of December 2016 through March 2017. All instrumentation played by T.G. Olson.

Tanner Olson on Foothills Before the Mountain:

After finishing La Violenza Naturale and really all the recent solo albums which leaned towards the lighter folk/country side and followed a similar formula, I just knew wanted to do something drastically different. I actually wrote these songs and recorded the basic structure on organ first… which I had never done before. I had no idea what they would turn into from the outset. As I started recording and building the tracks the sound took shape and it was somewhere in between Across Tundras and T.G. Olson along with weird ’90s and other random influences. It’s a bit different than previous albums… but what the hell, Across Tundras and my solo stuff are all over the place musically as is… so I guess it keeps up with that unpredictable and changing nature.

I also thought it would be a good little tide over until the new Across Tundras album finally sees the light of day, which will hopefully be later this year. The songs are written and demoed, just waiting for everyone involved who are currently scattered around the country to come together and start playing again!

Tracklisting:
1. Foothills Before the Mountain 04:47
2. Dying on the Silver Screen 04:53
3. No More Debts to Pay 05:37
4. A Stones Throw 05:01
5. Dust on the Wayside 05:02
6. Leader of the New Death 05:02
7. What’s Mine 04:43
8. From Where You Came 04:55
9. Cut Losses 04:21

https://www.facebook.com/AcrossTundrasBand/
https://acrosstundras.bandcamp.com/

T.G. Olson, Foothills Before the Mountain (2017)

Tags: , , , , , ,

Tomorrow’s Dream: 200+ of 2017’s Most Anticipated Releases

Posted in Features on January 23rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

tomorrow's dream 2017

Looks like it’s going to be another busy 12 months ahead. It’s been a busy better-part-of-a-month already, so that stands to reason, but you should know that of the several years now that I’ve done these ‘Tomorrow’s Dream’ posts, this is the biggest one yet, with over 150 upcoming releases that — one hopes — will be out between today and the end of 2017.

Actually, at last count, the list tops 180. Do I really expect you to listen to all of them? Nope. Will I? Well, it would be nice. But what I’ve done is gone through and highlighted 35 picks and then built lists off that in order of likelihood of arrival. You’ll note the categories are ‘Gonna Happen and/or Likely Candidates,’ ‘Definitely Could Happen’ and ‘Would be Awfully Nice.’

Beyond that last one, anything else just seems like speculation — one might as well go “new Sabbath this year!” with zero info backing it up. The idea here is that no matter where a given band is placed, there has been some talk of a new release. In some cases, it’s been years, but I think they’re still worth keeping in mind.

Another caveat: You can expect additions to this list over the next week — probably album titles, band names people (fingers crossed) suggest in the comments, and so on — so it will grow. It always does. The idea is to build as complete a document as possible, not to get it all nailed down immediately, so please, if you have something to contribute and you’re able to do so in a non-prickish, “You didn’t include Band X and therefore don’t deserve to breathe the same air as me,” kind of way, please contribute.

Other than that, I think it’s pretty straightforward what’s going on here and I’ll explain the category parameters as we go, so by all means, let’s jump in.

— Tomorrow’s Dream 2017 —

Presented Alphabetically

1. Abrahma, TBA

Late last year, Paris heavy progressives Abrahma announced a new lineup and third full-length in progress. No reason to think it won’t come to fruition, and a follow-up to 2015’s Reflections in the Bowels of a Bird (review here) is an easy pick to look forward to. Even with the shift in personnel, it seems likely the band will continue their creative development, driven as they are by founding guitarist Seb Bismuth.

2. All Them Witches, Sleeping Through the War

all them witches sleeping through the warIf 2017 ended today, Sleeping Through the War would be my Album of the Year. Of course, there’s a lot of year to go, but for now, Nashville’s All Them Witches have set the standard with their second album for New West Records behind 2015’s Dying Surfer Meets His Maker (review here) and fourth overall outing. They’ve got videos up so far for “3-5-7” (posted here) and “Bruce Lee” (posted here). Both are most definitely worth your time. Out Feb. 24. Full review should be later this week.

3. Alunah, Solennial

Seems like UK forest riffers Alunah are on this list every year. Wishful thinking on my part. Nonetheless, their fourth LP and Svart Records debut, Solennial, is out March 17, and if the tease they gave already with the clip for “Fire of Thornborough Henge” (posted here) is anything to go from, its Chris Fielding-produced expanses might just be Alunah‘s most immersive yet.

4. Arbouretum, TBA

I asked the Baltimore folk fuzzers a while back on Thee Facebooks if they had a new record coming in 2017 and they said yes, so that’s what I’m going on here. The last Arbouretum album was 2013’s Coming out of the Fog (review here), and even with frontman Dave Heumann‘s 2015 solo outing, Here in the Deep (review here), factored in, you’d have to say they’re due. Keep an eye on Thrill Jockey for word and I’ll do the same.

5. Atavismo, Inerte

This is another one that already has a spot reserved for it on my Best-of-2017 year-end list. Spanish heavy psych rockers Atavismo up the progressive bliss level with their second full-length, Inerte, without losing the depth of style that made 2014’s Desintegración (review here) so utterly glorious. It probably won’t have the biggest marketing budget of 2017, but if you let Atavismo fly under your radar, you are 100 percent missing out on something special.

6. Bison Machine, TBA

In addition to the video for new track “Cloak and Bones” that premiered here, when Michigan raucousness-purveyors Bison Machine put out the dates for their fall 2016 tour, they included further hints of new material in progress. As much as I dug their earlier-2016 split with SLO and Wild Savages (review here) and 2015’s Hoarfrost (review here), that’s more than enough for me to include them on this list. Killer next-gen heavy rock.

7. Brothers of the Sonic Cloth, TBA

News of a follow-up to Brothers of the Sonic Cloth‘s 2015 Neurot Recordings self-titled debut (review here) came through in October, and it remains some of the best news I’ve heard about 2017 doings. Took them a while to get the first record out, so we’ll see what happens, but it kind of feels like looking forward to a comet about to smash into the planet and cause a mass extinction, and by that I mean awesome. Can’t get here soon enough.

8. Cloud Catcher, Trails of Kosmic Dust

cloud catcher trails of kosmic dustOkay, so maybe I jumped the gun and did a super-early review of Denver trio Cloud Catcher‘s second long-player and Totem Cat Records debut, Trails of Kosmic Dust, but hell, no regrets. Some albums require an early-warning system. Their 2015 debut, Enlightened Beyond Existence (discussed here), was a gem as well, but this is a band in the process of upping their game on every level, and the songwriting and momentum they hone isn’t to be missed.

9. Colour Haze, TBA

I’ve gotten some details on the upcoming full-length from Colour Haze. They do not include a title, artwork, audio, song titles or general direction. Less details, I guess, than word that the CD version of this answer to 2015’s To the Highest Gods We Know (review here) is set to come out next month, as ever, on Elektrohasch. That puts it out in time for Colour Haze‘s upcoming tour with My Sleeping Karma (announced here). Fingers crossed it happens. Colour Haze are perpetual top-albums candidates in my book.

10. Corrosion of Conformity, TBA

Signed to Nuclear Blast after being rejoined by guitarist/vocalist Pepper Keenan, North Carolina’s C.O.C. have been in the studio since last year. The lineup of Keenan, bassist/vocalist Mike Dean and guitarist Woody Weatherman and Reed Mullin on drums is the stuff of legend and last worked together on 2000’s America’s Volume Dealer, so no question this reunion makes for one of 2017’s most anticipated heavy rock records. They nailed the nostalgia factor on tour. Can they now add to their legacy?

11. Elder, TBA

I was incredibly fortunate about a month ago to visit progressive heavy rockers Elder at Sonelab in Easthampton, MA, during the recording process for their upcoming fourth album. I heard a couple of the tracks, and of course it was all raw form, but the movement forward from 2015’s Lore (review here) was palpable. That LP (on Stickman) brought them to a wider audience, and I expect no less from this one as well, since the farther out Elder go sound-wise, the deeper the level of connection with their listeners they seem to engage.

12. Electric Wizard, TBA

Could happen, could not happen. That’s how it goes. Announced for last Halloween. That date came and went. Word of trouble building their own studio surfaced somewhere along the line. That was the last I heard. Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if it showed up tomorrow, if it showed up in 2018, or if the band broke up and never put it out. They’re Electric Wizard. Anything’s possible.

13. John Garcia, The Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues

Out Jan. 28 on NapalmThe Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues (review here) is the first-ever acoustic album from former Kyuss frontman John Garcia, also of Unida, the reunited Slo BurnHermanoVista ChinoZun, etc. — basically the voice of desert rock. He does a couple Kyuss classics for good measure, but shines as well on the new/original tracks, and while it’s a piece for fans more than newcomers — that is, it helps if you know the original version of “Green Machine” — his presence remains as powerful as ever despite this new context.

14. Goya, Harvester of Bongloads

Riffs, dude. Goya seem to have them to spare. The Arizona-based wizard doomers have set a pretty prolific clip for themselves at this point, with at least two short releases out in 2016, one a 7″ of Nirvana covers (review here), and the The Enemy EP (review here). Set for a March 3 release through their own Opoponax Records imprint, Harvester of Bongloads continues the march into the abyss that 2015’s Obelisk (review here) and 2013’s 777 set in motion, finding the band coming more into their own as well. Creative growth — and bongloads! The best of both worlds.

15. Ides of Gemini, TBA

Ides of Gemini are set to record their yet-untitled third album with Sanford Parker early this year, and it will also mark their debut on Rise Above Records upon its release. They’ve also got a new lineup around vocalist Sera Timms and guitarist J. Bennett, so as they look to move forward from 2014’s Old World New Wave (review here), one can’t help but wonder what to expect, but to be honest, not knowing is part of the appeal, especially from a band who so readily specialize in the ethereal.

16. Kind, TBA

Three-fourths of Kind feature elsewhere on this list. Bassist Tom Corino plays in Rozamov. Drummer Matt Couto is in Elder. Vocalist Craig Riggs is in Roadsaw. And for what it’s worth, guitarist Darryl Shepherd has a new band coming together called Test Meat. How likely does that make Kind to release a second LP in 2017? I don’t know, but their 2015 Ripple Music debut, Rocket Science (review here), deserves a follow-up, and I know they’ve demoed some new songs. If it happens, great. If it’s 2018, at least these dudes will be plenty busy besides.

17. Lo-Pan, In Tensions

lo-pan in tensionsYes, Lo-Pan‘s In Tensions (review here) has already been released — CD/LP with an artbook on Aqualamb. It’s out. Limited numbers. You can get it now. Why include it on a list of most anticipated releases? Because that’s how strongly I feel about your need to hear it. The fruit of a shortlived lineup with guitarist Adrian Zambrano, it distinguishes itself from everything they’ve done before in style while still keeping to the core righteousness that one hopes the Ohio outfit will continue to carry forward. It’s more than a stopgap between albums. Listen to it.

18. The Midnight Ghost Train, TBA

It seems to have been a rough ride for hard-boogie specialists The Midnight Ghost Train since their 2015 Napalm debut and third album overall, Cold was the Ground (review here). They’ve never taken it easy on the road or in terms of physicality on stage, and between injuries and who knows what else, their intensity at this point veers toward the directly confrontational. Nonetheless, they’ve been writing for album number four, may or may not have started the recording process, and I expect that confrontationalism to suit them well in their new material.

19. Monster Magnet, TBA

I have it on decent authority that NJ heavy psych innovators Monster Magnet were in the studio this past autumn. I’ve seen no concrete word of a new album in progress from Dave Wyndorf and company, and I wouldn’t necessarily expect to until it was time to start hyping the release, but after their two redux releases, 2015’s Cobras and Fire (review here) and 2014’s Milking the Stars (review here), their range feels broader than ever and I can’t wait to hear what they come up with next.

20. Mothership, High Strangeness

A pivotal moment for Mothership arrives with High Strangeness, and the heavy-touring, heavy-riffing Texas power trio seem to know it. Their third record on Ripple Music pushes into new avenues of expression and keeps the energy of 2014’s Mothership II (review here) and 2012’s Mothership (review here), but thus far into their career, it’s been about their potential and what they might accomplish going forward. 2017 might be the year for Mothership to declare a definitive place in the sphere of American heavy rock.

21. The Obsessed, Sacred

On Halloween 2016, founding The Obsessed guitarist/vocalist and doom icon Scott “Wino” Weinrich announced a new lineup for the band, with his former The Hidden Hand bandmate Bruce Falkinburg on bass/vocals, Sara Seraphim on guitar and Brian Costantino continuing on drums. A genuine surprise. Their first album since 1994, Sacred (due on Relapse) was tracked as the trio of WeinrichCostantino and bassist/vocalist Dave Sherman, but clearly they’ve moved into a new era already. Wouldn’t even guess what the future holds, but hopefully Sacred still comes out.

22. Orange Goblin, TBA

When it was announced that London’s Orange Goblin were picked up by Spinefarm as part of that label’s acquisition of Candlelight Records last Spring, the subheadline from the PR wire was “Working on Ninth Studio Album.” I haven’t heard much since then, but even as 2014’s Back from the Abyss (review here) pushed them deeper into metallic territory than ever before, their songs retained the character that’s made the band the institution they are. Always look forward to new Orange Goblin.

23. Pallbearer, Heartless

pallbearer heartlessDoomers, this is your whole year right here. I haven’t heard Pallbearer‘s third album, Heartless (out March 24 on Profound Lore), but I have to think even those who haven’t yet been won over by the Arkansas four-piece’s emotive, deep-running style have to be curious about what they’ve come up with this time around. I know I am. These guys have been making a mark on the genre since their 2012 debut, Sorrow and Extinction (review here), and there’s little doubt Heartless will continue that thread upon its arrival.

24. Radio Moscow, TBA

Fact: Radio Moscow stand among the best classic heavy rock live acts in the US. They’re the kind of band you can watch upwards of 15 gigs in a row — I’ve done it — and find them putting on a better show night after night, in defiance of science, logic and sobriety. Word of their signing to Century Media came just this past week and brought with it confirmation of a follow-up to 2014’s stellar Magical Dirt (review here), and for me to say hell yes, I’m absolutely on board, seems like the no-brainer to end all no-brainers. Can’t wait.

25. Roadsaw, TBA

Nearly six full years later, it’s only fair to call Boston scene godfathers Roadsaw due for a follow-up to their 2011 self-titled (review here). Granted, members have been busy in KindWhite Dynomite, and other projects, but still. Their upcoming outing finds them on Ripple Music after years under the banner of Small Stone Records, and though I haven’t seen a solid release date yet, my understanding is they hit Mad Oak Studio in Allston, MA, this past fall to track it, so seems likely for sooner or later. Sooner, preferably.

26. Rozamov, This Mortal Road

Speaking of albums by Boston bands a while in the making, This Mortal Road (out March 3 on Battleground Records and Dullest Records) is the debut full-length from Boston atmospheric extremists Rozamov. Haven’t heard it yet, but I got a taste of some of the material when I visited the band at New Alliance Audio in Aug. 2015, and the bleak expanses of what I heard seem primed to turn heads. I’m a fan of these guys, but in addition, they’ve found a niche for themselves sound-wise and I’m curious to hear how they bring it to fruition.

27. Samsara Blues Experiment, TBA

It’s been a pleasure over the last couple months to watch a resurgence of Berlin heavy psych trio Samsara Blues Experiment take shape, first with the announcement of a fourth album in October, then with subsequent confirmations for DesertfestRiff Ritual in Barcelona, and a South American tour. Reportedly due in Spring, which fits with the timing on shows, etc., the record will follow 2013’s righteous Waiting for the Flood (review here) and as much as I’m looking forward to hearing it, I’m kind of just glad to have these guys back.

28. Seedy Jeezus, TBA

Work finished earlier this month on Melbourne trio Seedy Jeezus‘ second full-length. As with their 2015 self-titled debut, the band brought Tony Reed of Mos Generator to Australia to produce, and after their blissed-out 2016 collaboration with Earthless guitarist Isaiah MitchellTranquonauts (review here), it’s hard not to wonder what experimentalist tendencies might show in the trio’s style this time out, and likewise difficult not to anticipate what guitarist Lex “Mr. Frumpy” Wattereus comes up with for the cover art.

29. Shroud Eater, Strike the Sun

Not to spoil the surprise, but Feb. 1 I’ll host a track premiere from Florida’s Shroud Eater that finds them working in a different context from everything we’ve heard from them to this point in their rightly-celebrated tenure. They also recently had a split out with Dead Hand, and their second long-player, Strike the Sun, will be their debut through STB Records. It’s been since 2011’s ThunderNoise (review here) that we last got a Shroud Eater album, so you bet your ass I’m dying to know what the last six years have wrought.

30. Sleep, TBA

If Sleep were any other band, they’d probably be in the “Would be Awfully Nice” category. But they’re Sleep, so even the thought of a new record is enough to put them here. The lords of all things coated in THC are reissuing their 2014 single, The Clarity (review here), on Southern Lord next month, but rumors have been swirling about a proper album, which of course would be their first since the now-legendary Dopesmoker. If it happens, it’ll automatically be a heavy underground landmark for 2017, but it’s one I’m going to have in my ears before I really believe it.

31. Stoned Jesus, TBA

Even as they tour playing their second album, 2012’s Seven Thunders Roar (review here), to mark its fifth anniversary and continued impact, Ukrainian trio Stoned Jesus are forging ahead with a fourth record behind 2015’s The Harvest (review here). The capital-‘q’ Question is whether or not looking back at Seven Thunders Roar and engaging that big-riffing side of their sound will have an impact on the new material, and if so, how it will meld with the push of The Harvest. Won’t speculate, but look forward to finding out.

32. Stubb, TBA

Since reveling in the soul of 2015’s Cry of the Ocean (review here) on Ripple, London trio Stubb have swapped out bassists, and they were in Skyhammer Studio this month recording a single that may be an extended psychedelic jam. I’ll take that happily, but I’m even more intrigued at the prospect of a third LP and what guitarist/vocalist Jack Dickinson, bassist/vocalist Tom Hobson and drummer Tom Fyfe might have in store as the band moves forward on multiple levels. Might be 2017, might not.

33. Sun Blood Stories, It Runs Around the Room with Us

sun blood stories it runs around the room with usIt Runs around the Room with Us seems to find peace in its resonant experimentalist drones, loops, open, subdued spaces, but there’s always some underlying sense of foreboding to its drift, as if Boise’s Sun Blood Stories could anticipate the moment before it happened. Toward the end of the follow-up to 2015’s Twilight Midnight Morning (review here), they execute the 90-second assault “Burn” and turn serenity to ash. Look for it in April and look for it again on my best of 2017 list in December.

34. Ufomammut, TBA

Any new offering from the Italian cosmic doom magnates is worth looking forward to, and while Ufomammut have left the 15-year mark behind, they’ve never stopped progressing in style and form. To wit, 2015’s Ecate (review here) was a stunner after 2012’s two-part LP, Oro (review here and review here), tightening the approach but assuring the vibe was no less expansive than ever. They started recording last summer, finished mixing in November, so I’m hoping for word of a release date soon.

35. Vokonis, The Sunken Djinn

Born out of Creedsmen Arise, whose 2015 demo, Temple (review here), offered formative thrills, Swedish trio Vokonis debuted with last year’s Olde One Ascending (review here) and proved there’s still life in post-Sleep riffing when it’s wielded properly. They signed to Ripple in November and confirmed the title of their sophomore effort as The Sunken Djinn, as well as a reissue for the first album, which will probably arrive first. I don’t know how that will affect the timing on this one, but keep an eye out anyway.

Gonna Happen and/or Likely Candidates

Obviously some of these are more likely than others. Some have solidified, announced release dates — Dopelord‘s out this month, Demon Head‘s out in April, etc. — and others come from social media posts of bands in studios and hints at upcoming releases and so on. A big tell is whether or not a band has an album title with their listing, but even some of those without have their new albums done, like Atala and Royal Thunder, so it’s not necessarily absolute.

Either way, while I’m spending your money, you might want to look into:

36. Against the Grain
37. Amenra
38. Atala
39. Attalla, Glacial Rule
40. Ayahuasca Dark Trip, II
41. Beastmaker
42. Beaten Back to Pure
43. Blackout
44. Bretus
45. Buried Feather, Mind of the Swarm
46. The Clamps
47. Cold Stares
48. Coltsblood, Ascending into the Shimmering Darkness
49. Come to Grief, The Worst of Times EP
50. Cortez
51. Cruthu, The Angle of Eternity
52. The Dead-End Alley Band, Storms
53. Dead Witches, Dead Witches
54. Dealer
55. Death Alley, Live at Roadburn
56. Demon Head, Thunder on the Fields
57. The Devil and the Almighty Blues, II
58. Devil Electric
59. Doctor Cyclops, Local Dogs
60. Dool, Here Now There Then
61. Dopelord, Children of the Haze
62. Doublestone, Devil’s Own/Djævlens Egn
63. Dread Sovereign, For Doom the Bell Tolls
64. Drive by Wire
65. Elbrus, Elbrus
66. Electric Age
67. Electric Moon, Stardust Rituals
68. Endless Floods, II
69. Five Horse Johnson
70. Forming the Void, Relic
71. Funeral Horse
72. Greenbeard
73. Green Desert Water
74. Greenleaf
75. Grifter / Suns of Thunder, Split
76. Hair of the Dog, This World Turns
77. Heavy Temple, Chassit
78. Here Lies Man, Here Lies Man
79. Hollow Leg, Murder EP
80. Holy Mount, The Drought
81. Hooded Menace
82. Horisont, About Time
83. Hymn, Perish
84. Lecherous Gaze
85. Magnet, Feel Your Fire
86. Mastodon
87. Merlin, The Wizard
88. Merchant
89. Mindkult, Lucifer’s Dream
90. Mirror Queen
91. Moonbow, War Bear
92. Mos Generator
93. The Moth
94. MotherSloth
95. Mouth, Vortex
96. My Sleeping Karma, Mela Ananda – Live
97. Orango
98. Papir
99. PH, Eternal Hayden
100. Psychedelic Witchcraft, Magick Rites and Spells
101. Royal Thunder
102. Saturn, Beyond Spectra
103. Season of Arrows, Give it to the Mountain
104. Siena Root
105. Six Organs of Admittance, Burning the Threshold
106. Six Sigma, Tuxedo Brown
107. Sólstafir
108. The Sonic Dawn, Into the Long Night
109. Spelljammer
110. Spidergawd, IV
111. Steak
112. Stinking Lizaveta, Journey to the Underworld
113. Sula Bassana, Organ Accumulator
114. Summoner
115. Sun Voyager, Sun Voyager
116. Sweat Lodge, Tokens for Hell EP
117. Thera Roya, Stone and Skin
118. Toke
119. Troubled Horse, Revelation on Repeat
120. VA, Brown Acid The Third Trip
121. Weedpecker
122. Youngblood Supercult, The Great American Death Rattle

Definitely Could Happen

Maybe a recording process is upcoming (Gozu, Cities of Mars, YOB), or a band is looking for a label (The Flying Eyes), or they’ve said new stuff is in the works but the circumstances of an actual release aren’t known (Arc of Ascent, Dead Meadow, High on Fire), or I’ve just seen rumors of their hitting the studio (Freedom Hawk, La Chinga, Ruby the Hatchet). We’ve entered the realm of the entirely possible but not 100 percent.

So, you know, life.

Dig it:

123. The Age of Truth
124. Ape Machine
125. Arc of Ascent
126. At Devil Dirt
127. Bantoriak
128. Bask
129. BCAD
130. BoneHawk
131. La Chinga
132. Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters
133. Cities of Mars
134. Crypt Sermon
135. Dead Meadow
136. Death Alley (Studio LP)
137. Dee Calhoun
138. Destroyer of Light
139. Devil
140. Devil Worshipper
141. Duel
142. Dustrider
143. Egypt
144. Electric Moon
145. Elephant Tree
146. Farflung
147. The Flying Eyes
148. Freedom Hawk
149. Gozu
150. The Great Electric Quest
151. Green Meteor, Consumed by a Dying Sun
152. High on Fire
153. Horrendous
154. Insect Ark
155. In the Company of Serpents
156. Iron Monkey
157. Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus
158. The Judge
159. Killer Boogie
160. King Dead
161. The Kings of Frog Island
162. Lords of Beacon House, Recreational Sorcery
163. Mangoo
164. Mondo Drag
165. Monolord
166. Mountain God
167. The Munsens
168. Naxatras
169. Never Got Caught
170. Ommadon
171. Orchid
172. Ordos
173. Pilgrim
174. Poseidon
175. Purple Hill Witch
176. Ruby the Hatchet
177. Sasquatch
178. Satan’s Satyrs
179. Serpents of Secrecy
180. Shabda
181. Shooting Guns
182. Sleepy Sun
183. Slow Season
184. Snowy Dunes, Atlantis
185. Spectral Haze
186. The Sweet Heat
187. Switchblade Jesus
188. Superchief
189. Tÿburn
190. YOB
191. Zone Six

Would be Awfully Nice

This last category is basically as close as I’m willing to come to rampant speculation. Endless Boogie have hinted at new material, and Queens of the Stone Age have talked about hitting the studio for the last two years. There were rumors about Om, and though Kings Destroy just put out an EP, they have new songs as well, though I doubt we’ll hear them before the end of 2017. I’ll admit that Across Tundras, Fever Dog, Lord Fowl, Lowrider and Hour of 13 are just wishful thinking on my part. A boy can hope:

192. Across Tundras
193. Eggnogg
194. Elephant Tree
195. Endless Boogie
196. Fever Dog
197. Fu Manchu
198. Halfway to Gone
199. Hour of 13
200. Kadavar
201. Kings Destroy
202. Lord Fowl
203. Lowrider
204. Masters of Reality
205. Om
206. Orodruin
207. Queens of the Stone Age

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading. Whatever this year brings, I hope it’s been great so far for you and I hope it continues to be so as we proceed inexorably to 2018 and all the also-futuristic-sounding numbers thereafter. At least we know we’ll have plenty of good music to keep us company on that voyage.

As always, comments section is open if there’s anything I’ve left out. I’m happy to add, adjust, etc., as need be, so really, have at it, and thanks in advance.

All the best.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

T.G. Olson, La Violenza Naturale: Over New Horizons

Posted in Reviews on December 16th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

t.g. olson la violenza naturale

A headphone listen reveals subtle layering in the vocals of the opener to T.G. Olson‘s latest album, La Violenza Naturale. Given the fact that he’s the same T.G. Olson who in 2013 put out The Complete Blood Meridian for Electric Drone Guitar, a six-disc drone soundtrack to Cormac McCarthy’s novel, it’s hardly the most experimental move he’s ever made, but in the context of his more folkish material, much of which is recorded live, it becomes a noteworthy bit of flourish to “Broken Trails,” however subtle it might otherwise be.

Olson, founder and frontman of Across Tundras, continues his prolific stream of solo releases with the 35-minute collection, following earlier 2016’s single From the Rocky Peaks b/w Servant to Blues (discussed here) and full-lengths The Broken End of the Deal (review here) and Quicksilver Sound (discussed here) as well as the Across Tundras EP, Home Free (discussed here), and 2015 outings including albums The Wandering Protagonist (review here) and The Boom and Bust(discussed here), which themselves followed 2014’s The Rough Embrace (review here; vinyl review here) and  2013’s The Bad Lands to Cross (discussed here) and Hell’s Half Acre (discussed here), as well as the most recent proper Across Tundras long-player, Electric Relics (review here), which is well due for a follow-up. La Violenza Naturale — the title of which seems to have been shortened from La Violenza Naturale / The Natural Violence from when it came out in November, if the revised cover art is anything to go by — finds its release in the same sans-ceremony manner as all of the above: it wasn’t on Bandcamp, and then it was.

Physical release on limited CD and tape and the potentiality of vinyl have been floated for 2017, but for now, it follows in the string of digital offerings put out there waiting for those who would find them to do so. Albeit somewhat post-modern, there’s a kind of romanticism to the notion of making a bunch of sonic postcards and tossing them into the digital ether, and maybe the persistent Americholy that Olson fuses into his material plays to that. Hearing songs like “Lonely Bright Lights” and “Sights Set on Destruction,” not only do the layered vocals of “Broken Trails” become a theme alongside the blend of lap steel and acoustic guitar, effects, organ and synth, but even compared to some of his other solo work — that is, the output he plays, records and issues himself, even going so far as to construct the physical packaging when there is any — La Violenza Naturale carries a meditative feel.

This is the case even unto the penultimate take on the Peruvian folk song “El Condor Pasa,” perhaps best known from Simon & Garfunkel‘s 1970 album, Bridge over Troubled Water and the spacious wash of instrumental post-rock guitar that follows on the closing title-track, organ or other keyboard sounding like a pan-flute as it cuts through the breadth surrounding. These turns follow the wistful “Welcome to Anywhere U.S.A.,” which is stood out for its repetitive cycles of lyrics and the slow-motion ramble that’s an indelible mark of Olson‘s songwriting, and present here even when the guitar seems to be so minimally plucked and the organ so far off in the background as to make one unsure they’re not imagining its presence in the first place. Just as likely as not that’s the intent, but the point is that as one has come to expect from Olson‘s work, the more put into listening, the more is gained from that process.

One particular highlight here is “Imemine,” which seems to play off the George Harrison/Beatles refrain, reinventing it over a bed of slide and acoustic guitar as a centerpiece after “Sights Set on Destruction” and before “To the Simples Times…” [sic], which takes on a more drawn-out feel of essentially the same blend, adding organ to the mix as a low-end backdrop and departs from some of the catchier sentiments of “Broken Trails,” “Bearing Down” or the pointedly Dylanesque “Lonely Bright Lights” at the start of the album. There’s little reassurance to be found in these tracks, or in “Sights Set on Destruction” and “Imemine,” which is fitting or their all having been recorded in Fall 2016, but if Olson is speaking to current events however vaguely, he’s well within folk bounds in so doing, and flood of guitar effects behind him in “Sights Set on Destruction” as he begs, “Please don’t come undone,” would seem to speak to an underlying threat only beginning to come to fruition. I wouldn’t mind an album of protest songs, if it came to it, but whether or not he’ll get there I wouldn’t try to predict.

The surest bet to make when it comes to Olson‘s solo output to-date is that it will exist. Over the last three-plus years, he’s found himself as a singer-songwriter and worked relentlessly to refine and develop on that level while also keeping a strong element of experimentalism to go with the traditions with which he’s in conversation. By account of his track record over the same stretch, this would seem to be an ongoing process rather than one that has hit a point of arrival at which it will rest or otherwise stagnate. La Violenza Naturale is the latest realization of a tireless creativity, and while one invariably wonders how long Olson can keep up his multiple-albums-per-year pace, it’s worth appreciating while it lasts, especially when it results in outings as rich and immersive as this.

T.G. Olson, La Violenza Naturale (2016)

Across Tundras on Thee Facebooks

Across Tundras/T.G. Olson on Bandcamp

Tags: , , , , , , ,

T.G. Olson Releases New Single From the Rocky Peaks b/w Servant to Blues

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 5th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

It’s been what, days? since the last time we heard from Across Tundras frontman T.G. Olson with his solo album, The Broken End of the Deal? Granted, that review was hardly timed to the record’s release, but the fact of the matter is that Olson doesn’t give much by way of a heads up when he’s putting stuff out, so hopefully my being behind the times can be forgiven. Even in this case, the From the Rocky Peaks b/w Servant to Blues single — recorded at Ramble Hill Farm, in I believe Tennessee, I’m not sure when — has already been out for a few days. Some people are forever playing catchup, and by some people, I mean me. Makes me feel busy.

The A-side is an original, and features Olson on all instruments and vocals for an active full-band feel that anyone itching for a new album from Across Tundras (as I am, if I haven’t made that clear) might take as a sign of things moving in that direction, at least as much as anything is ever a sign of anything, and the B-side is a Wooden Wand cover that basks in slow, bluesy sway while keeping a firm grip on a discontented atmosphere. Vibe pervades both cuts, however, and even on a quick release such as this, Olson casts a personal stamp of melancholy Americana that many try to engage and fall woefully short. You’ll hear what I mean when you listen.

As ever, the download is name-your-price, so go ahead and name one:

tg olson from the rocky peaks-700

From the Rocky Peaks b?/?w Servant to Blues by T.G. Olson

New digi single from T.G. Olson with a Wooden Wand cover on the backside. Available now for free/name your price download!

1. From the Rocky Peaks 04:22
2. Servant to Blues (Wooden Wand cover) 03:02

Recorded, played, and mixed by T.G. Olson @ Ramble Hill Farm. Released August 31, 2016.

New Sounds of the Past. Old Sounds for the Future.

*Servant to Blues written by Wooden Wand. Support one of the best modern songwriters out there: woodenwand.bandcamp.com

*TGO cross stitch by Sheila Ausland. Love you Grandma. RIP

https://www.facebook.com/AcrossTundrasBand/
http://acrosstundras.bandcamp.com/album/from-the-rocky-peaks-b-w-servant-to-blues

T.G. Olson, From the Rocky Peaks b/w Servant to Blues (2016)

Tags: , , , , , , ,

T.G. Olson, The Broken End of the Deal: Distill and Ferment

Posted in Reviews on August 24th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

tg olson the broken end of the deal

The odd dichotomy that has taken hold in the output of T.G. Olson is that he’s just about completely reliable but you never quite know what you’re going to get. We’re now three years removed from Electric Relics (review here), the last full-length from Olson‘s main outfit, Across Tundras, but in that time the guitarist, vocalist, auteur and DIY packaging specialist has hardly kept still. To wit, he’s put forth no fewer than six solo offerings, including 2013’s The Bad Lands to Cross (discussed here) and Hell’s Half Acre (discussed here), 2014’s The Rough Embrace (review here; vinyl review here), 2015’s The Wandering Protagonist (review here) and The Boom and Bust (discussed here), and 2016’s Quicksilver Sound (discussed here), along with a 2016 Across Tundras EP, Home Free (discussed here).

These all arrived in much the same way as his latest outing, The Broken End of the Deal — via Bandcamp, name-your-price download with a possible follow-up physical pressing on tape, CD or vinyl, usually in a limited, dirt-cheap handcrafted package, tossed into the great digital ether almost completely sans fanfare. Perhaps the underlying truth of Olson‘s work is that he’s too busy writing new releases to promote the ones he’s already finished, but either way, the Sioux Falls, South Dakota, by way of Nashville, Tennessee, by way of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, native brings out some of his richest and most complex soundscaping on The Broken End of the Deal, effectively marrying two sides of his prior solo material that have grown together over time so that cinematic drone and barebones Americana almost impossibly coexist and flow in parallel across eight tracks/28 minutes that nonetheless keep a strong current of improvisation at their core.

In addition to helming the recording, Olson played all the instruments — some I wouldn’t even guess what they are — on The Broken End of the Deal, and he’s worked in this form enough times by now that it’s clear he knows what he’s going for sound-wise, though his process is still well open enough to let happy accidents happen when they will. Organ adds a gospel inflection to the end of the drone-folk opener “Tough Break” and the following “Hope Slivers,” as well as the closing duo of “Always Turning Away” and “Walk the Lonesome Valley,” and while one doubts that bookend is coincidental, it’s hardly the full tale when it comes to the scope of the album. And at 28 minutes, it is an album. In its construction, flow and ambient depth, The Broken End of the Deal builds a fluid full-length momentum, and though some tracks are barely more than on either side of a minute long, like “Green Sahara” (more organ there as well), the string-infused “Hum” or the aforementioned “Always Turning Away,” they add to what longer pieces like “Tough Break” and eight-minute album highlight “Blisslessness” accomplish in atmosphere and overall breadth.

tg olson

Tied together by a spirit of persistent twang, Olson‘s vocals, and overriding melancholy, as well as background drones that fill spaces that otherwise might give way to minimalism, The Broken End of the Deal allows its arrangements to wander, “Hope Slivers” blending acoustic and electric guitar, organs, drones, harmonica and voice, as well presumably as two or three other things Olson had in the room at that time. It’s the fact that nothing feels out of place or like it pushes too far that makes the songwriting such a standout. “Green Sahara” gives way to open-country psychedelia, an ethereal pastoralism that one wishes were more than 1:21, but “Blisslessness” hums in on guitar noise and flute and keys, and unfolds a full experimentalist dronescape almost completely departed sonically from “Tough Break” or even “Hope Slivers,” but still of the same spirit and among the most evocative of Olson‘s individual solo pieces.

The transition into “Hum” comes with a fade out and back in, and the briefest cut on The Broken End of the Deal at just 55 seconds long digging quickly into a foreboding swirl before the more immediate guitar/drone/vocal start of “Distilled to Nothing” begins, Olson‘s verse delivered quietly and still with plenty of effects, but nonetheless forward in the mix in a way it isn’t on earlier tracks. Repetitions of the title line, “Distilled down to nothing,” seem to hint at the root message of the record, but that this dirge should come with such a complex wash of sound is a contrast that shouldn’t be overlooked. Olson‘s done barebones before — though written and recorded completely on his own, this isn’t necessarily it. At 1:12, “Always Turning Away” breaks in half and plays out first forward and then apparently again backward as though to underline the experimentalist heart in the work overall, and closer “Walk the Lonesome Valley” brings prominent guitar strums, organ, far-back voice, drone and percussion, which I think might be a first since “Tough Break.”

Like its predecessors, “Walk the Lonesome Valley” is both familiar and captivating in being so out of place in this universe, an oddity that you already seem to know, like when you’re dreaming you have a hole in your head and that’s just always the way life has been. It makes its own sense. I’m not sure I’d call it an apex in the traditional sense, but the soulful kind of falsetto comes to a head later in the track with guitar and organ backing, and the end of The Broken End of the Deal comes with a quick fade, which no doubt is the result of Olson needing to get to work on the next album. All kidding aside, these tracks mark a pivotal next step in continuing to bridge the various facets of Olson‘s songwriting modus, and in so doing prove themselves to be anything but broken. I would not venture to guess what might come next for him as a songwriter, and I don’t think he would either, but whatever it might be, he never fails to move forward with each outing. Reliable, even if you don’t know what you’re going to get.

Across Tundras on Thee Facebooks

Across Tundras/T.G. Olson on Bandcamp

Tags: , , , , ,

T.G. Olson Releases New Album The Broken End of the Deal

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 23rd, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Some of T.G. Olson‘s work steers toward raw folk and blues, and some of it is flat-out drone experimentalism. With his new solo — and I do mean solo, since he performs everything on it, recorded and mixed — album, the Across Tundras guitarist/vocalist effectively brings the two sides together, resulting in a kind of ritualized soundscape Americana. There’s something lurking deep in the underlying hum of “Blisslessness,” but a steady acoustic strum there and in the earlier “Hope Slivers” that keeps the material grounded, leaving Olson‘s vocals free to become part of the ether, which they do, contributing either far-back lyrics or ambient melody, as on the aforementioned “Blisslessness,” the longest track on the album by far at over eight minutes.

The album just got released — like, an hour ago — so obviously there’s no word yet on whether or not Olson will put together a physical version. In the meantime, it’s available via the Across Tundras/T.G. Olson Bandcamp page in name-your-price fashion.

I know I’ve said this before, but if you don’t already keep up with that Bandcamp page, you should. Aside from being dirt cheap on the whole, Olson‘s physical releases are almost always gorgeously hand-made and come with extra tracks, individualized package designs, etc.

Still waiting on news one of these days about the next Across Tundras LP, but in the meantime, The Broken End of the Deal is Olson‘s second solo offering of the year behind January’s Quicksilver Sound (discussed here), so there’s been plenty to chew on:

tg olson the broken end of the deal

The Broken End of the Deal by T.G. Olson

Across Tundras & T.G. Olson just released The Broken End of the Deal by T.G. Olson.

1. Tough Break 05:11
2. Hope Slivers 03:34
3. Green Sahara 01:21
4. Blisslessness 08:15
5. Hum 00:54
6. Distilled to Nothing 03:14
7. Always Turning Away 01:12
8. Walk the Lonesome Valley 04:28

All instruments and soundscapes were improvised, played, distorted, recorded, and mixed by T.G. Olson in the Spring of 2016.

New Sounds of the Past. Old Sounds for the Future.

http://acrosstundras.bandcamp.com/album/the-broken-end-of-the-deal
https://www.facebook.com/ACROSS-TUNDRAS-67862323857/

T.G. Olson, The Broken End of the Deal (2016)

Tags: , , , , , , ,