Buried Treasure: Sound Effect Records in Athens, Greece

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sound Effect Records website

Sound Effect Records on Discogs

Sound Effect Records on Thee Facebooks

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The Dive Release Second Album Zo’e on Spinalonga Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 28th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

There hasn’t been much word out of the camp of Athens rockers The Dive since they released their impressive self-titled debut in 2011 (review here), but it seems the band, which formed all the way back in 2000, have been active all the same. This weekend, they sent over notice of a limited vinyl issue of their first album through The Lab Records and nonprofit Greek collective Spinalonga Records and a mini-tour supporting the concurrent release of their sophomore outing, Zo’e, on the latter label. I guess sometimes a band can be busier than they appear.

News came down the PR wire, and you can find it and their current dates below, as well as the self-titled in full, in case anyone needs a refresher:

THE DIVE – ZO’E (new album out now!! + mini tour!!)

Primal, organic, instinctive playing. The Dive release their second full length album named Zo’e. Detecting the flow rather than defining it. Roaming rather than wandering.
Out now on spinalonga records!

At the end of May the band is hitting the road for a mini tour including stops in Germany, Netherlands Turkey and Greece.

Dates booked so far:
1/6 @ Rotormania Fest, Germany
6/6 @ Mukkes, Leeuwarden, Netherlands.
8/6 @ Kastanienkeller, Berlin, Germany
14/6 @ Peyote, Istanbul, Turkey
18/6 @ K44, Athens, Greece
..more info soon..

* Also, The Dive’s debut s/t album out now on limited edition of 275 copies in 180gr black vinyl. By The Lab records and Spinalonga records.

http://thedive.bandcamp.com
https://www.facebook.com/thediveband
http://www.soundcloud.com/thedive
http://www.twitter.com/thediveband
http://www.spinalonga.net

The Dive, The Dive (2011)

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Nightstalker Get Abducted in New Video for “Dead Rock Commandos”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 20th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

The only thing I don’t get about the new video for the title-track of Dead Rock Commandos — the 2012 Small Stone debut from long-running Greek rockers Nightstalker — is the kidnapping. Okay, so Nightstalker are getting chased through the woods by mysterious gasmasked paramilitary forces. I got that. But then they get kidnapped, the hoods over their heads and the whole bit, and marched single-file to an also-mysterious white room with instruments… and they start rocking out.

So the part I don’t get is, weren’t Nightstalker going to rock out anyway? Why would these commandos need to bring them into this room? And what is the room? Could it be that the volume from their heavy riffing output is being harvested to power some kind of sinister death ray? Or worse, that Nightstalker are being set up as some kind of exhibit in a terrible post-apocalyptic rock and roll zoo? Truly, there are many questions still to be answered.

What’s way clearer in watching “Dead Rock Commandos” is that Nightstalker have the stoner thing on lockdown. The video premiered today, and Nightstalker will bring the rock directly to the people starting May 31 with Ape Machine supporting. Dates follow the clip below:

Nightstalker, “Dead Rock Commandos” official video

Including an appearance at the 2013 Freak Valley Festival, Nightstalker will be heading out on a European tour in support of 2012’s Dead Rock Commandos. The ultra-catchy riff-fest was released by Small Stone last year and found the long-running Athens outfit right at home in classic heavy fuzz ‘n’ roll.

Nightstalker tour dates:
May 31 Munster, DE Rare Guitar
Jun 1 Netphen, DE Freak Valley Festival
Jun 2 Antwerpen, BE Antwerpen Music City
Jun 4 Paris, FR Les Combustibles
Jun 5 Leuven, BE Rockbar
Jun 6 Wild Rover Aachen, DE
Jun 7 Hasselt, BE Carpe Diem
Jun 8 Wurzburg, DE Immerhin
Jun 9 Salzburg, AT Rockhouse
Jun 11 St. Gallen, CH Rumpeltum
Jun 12 Feldkirch, AT Graf Hugo
Jun 13 Erfurt, DE Stadtgarten
Jun 14 Berlin, DE White Trash

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Bazooka Self-Titled Album Due out May 21

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 15th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Ah, crusty youth. Like the riff itself, the crusty youth are everywhere you could look. Bazooka hail from Athens as part of Greece’s fertile heavy underground and will release their full-length debut on Slovenly Recordings next week. If you find yourself so inclined, the album is available for streaming courtesy of the label’s Bandcamp, and you can hear it below, following the info, taken fresh off the PR wire.

If it says anything, I’d never heard Bazooka before, but checked out the album on a whim and dug the ultra-fuzzy looseness enough to post about them, so there you go. Here’s the news:

GREEK PSYCHEDELIC GRUNGE PUNK BAND BAZOOKA SELF-TITLED ALBUM OUT MAY 21ST THROUGH SLOVENLY RECORDINGS!

DARK, HEAVY AND TWISTED ANTHEMIC SHAKERS FROM A GOD-LIKE MEDITERRANEAN ROCK ‘N’ ROLL SCENE!

It is with the filthiest of pleasures that Slovenly Recordings discharges the much anticipated full-length, self-titled LP from Greece’s BAZOOKA. A severely crusty unit from Volos, and now relocated to Athens, Bazooka, who is perhaps the most savage crew of an incredibly corrosive rock ‘n’ roll scene that includes Acid Baby Jesus and Gay Anniversary, has concocted an evil, grungy stomper of an album that Slovenly deems worthy of the grossly overused title of “epic”.

With just enough pop sensibility to keep it from being heavier than a death in the family, this surly, riff-heavy opus has been formulated for maximum distorto-crumble factor from a twin-guitar / double-drum onslaught with searing vocals as righteously delivered on their now classic “I Want To Fuck All The Girls In My School” single. But let it be known that the humor is null this time around – being the victims of a massive Greek financial crisis, there is no room for it.

From the fully pissed off screamer “Mr. George” to the smashing ‘”Koritsi Stin Akti” (sung entirely in Greek), “Bazooka” also resurrects the out-of-print and sought after single on France’s Inch Allah label, including the mentally tortured anthem “Shame Take My Brain”. Saturated with fuzzed out rumblers from a dark place we dare not glance at, this record somehow yields perfect melodies trying to claw their way out of Bazooka’s decimated destinies!

Bazooka, Bazooka (2013)

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Planet of Zeus Hit the Road Next Week

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 8th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

There’s promospeak and then there’s promospeak, and short of saying their lineup features James Brown, Greek burl-bringers Planet of Zeus are getting the job done. Fortunately they’re putting in road time to match. As they say in the PR wire-type update below, Planet of Zeus will begin a European tour next Friday night, April 19 at White Trash in Berlin that will see them stomp their way around the Continent, including a stopoff in the UK for a slot at Desertfest in London on April 28. Right on.

Here’s the info and vigorous self-promotion:

Greece. A country internationally known for its ancient history, democracy, sun, beaches, mustaches, olive oil, mousaka, tzatziki, bouzouki, souvlaki… Well, forget that. Open your arms and welcome the new heavy rock empire and its ambassadors, Planet of Zeus.

The hardest working rock band in the entire universe, who’ll fear nothing and overcome every obstacle emerging on their way to heavy, sincere and loud rock ‘n roll. Rumors about members of the band selling some of their parents’ vital organs to finance their career have not yet been confirmed.

Having the re-issue of “Eleven the Hard Way” in vinyl format, as well as “Macho Libre” re-issue in digipack cd on their luggage, they once again hit the European roads.

“Tonight We Hit The Road” Tour 2013
19.4 White Trash , Berlin, DE,
20.4 KB18 kødboderne, Copenhagen, DK
21.4 Logo Hamburg, Hamburg, DE,
23.4 Sonic Ballroom, Koln, DE
24.4 ACU, Utrecht, NL
25.4 Magasin 4, Brussels, BE
26.4 JUZ, Mannheim, DE
27.4 Litlle Devil, Tilburg, NL
28.4 Desertfest, London, UK
30.4 Pitcher, Düsseldorf, DE
1.5 Blue Devils officiel, Arras, FR,
2.5 Les Combustibles, Paris, FR,
3.5 Infrared, Orleans, FR,
4.5 Brin de Zinc, Chambery, FR
5.5 Rumpelthum, St Gallen, CH
7.5 Rote Frabrik, Zurich, CH
8.5 Rockhouse, Salzburg, AT
9.5 Metro Music Bar, Brno, CZ
10.5 Madness Club, Wroclaw, PL,
11.5 Vortex, Siegen, DE
12.5 Rockpool, Halle, DE
14.5 Spatif, Sopot, PL
16.5 Politeia, Patra, GR
17.5 Boxx, Ioannina, GR
18.5 8ball Club, Thessaloniki, GR
19.5 Vox Club, Volos, GR

Planet of Zeus, Macho Libre (2011)

www.planetofzeus.gr
https://www.facebook.com/planetofzeus
http://planetofzeus.bandcamp.com/

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The Dive, The Dive: Ryefield Ends to a Cliff

Posted in Reviews on October 18th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster

They formed in 2000 and released their self-titled debut full-length earlier this year through Spinalonga Records, but if you told me that Athens four-piece The Dive spent the whole of those 11 years working on the cover art for their album, I’d believe it. The 11-plus-track CD comes in a gorgeous fold-out digi-sleeve, six panels on each side, to unveil the full picture of which the running wildebeest cover art turns out to be only one-twelfth. The artwork is a narrative in itself, and with it, the band immediately sets a high bar for creativity. It’s not every album that has to live up to its cover, but The Dive’s The Dive is clearly working to attain a standard, and for the most part it does. The band specializes in a kind of progressive desert rock, at times inflected with a grown-up punk feel, as on the perhaps misplaced Social Distortion-esque opener “Fresh Blue Coffee,” and rounded out through the fuzz tones and interplay between guitarists Titos and Monkey J. – the latter also vocals – and the sometimes Toolish rhythmic churn of bassist Livy and drummer Taz. If it’s taken The Dive 11 years to put a record together, they’ve got a complex creative range to show for it. I don’t know the disparity in how old some of these songs are versus others, but despite a few missteps here and there, they by and large remain consistent atmospherically and in terms of quality.

The reason I say “Fresh Blue Coffee” is potentially misplaced because it works outside the tone of much of the rest of the album, which is more rock-driven than punk-based. Certainly those elements show up again later on “Plan 9 From Outer Space,” but even there, the effect is more like Totimoshi taking on Fatso Jetson than trying to shirk off the desert aesthetic as much as the opener does. Right from “Lockjaw,” The Dive takes a different turn, Monkey J. adopting a different hue for his melodic vocals – he stays clean for the most, though a few choice screams in “Fabio, Fabio…” to well to play up the dynamics – to better match the darker and more cerebral overall vibe of the music. His and Titos’ guitars complement each other well, and rarely get locked into the same riff or break when they don’t want to be. Noodling abounds on “Lockjaw” and continues through “Billie Jean” (not a Michael Jackson cover) and most of the record, adding to the prog feel. At times, they come off like a sped up Kyuss, and “Lockjaw” definitely has a ‘90s atmosphere, but particularly after “Fresh Blue Coffee,” it’s hard to get a handle on where The Dive are headed next stylistically. Maybe that’s the point. Either way, “Lydia and the Pigheads” finds Livy stepping to the fore as the guitars drop out, and his Justin Chancellor-style runs prove a solid foundation for the song, Taz filling the space creatively on his toms. The earthy tones of The Dive’s artwork suit well the deep atmosphere and the dark but by no means bleak vibes of the music, and though “Desden” is one of the more forgettable tracks on the album, that might be due in part to its being situated next to the standout “Fabio, Fabio…”

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On the Radar: The Dive

Posted in On the Radar on August 17th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster

They’re part of the burgeoning scene in and around Athens, Greece, and true to form, double-guitar four-piece rockers The Dive inject their heavy rock with a ’90s-style alternative feel. The band formed in 2000 — that’s about all the biographical info they’re willing to give — and their self-titled album (released on Spinalonga Records), is available for listening in full via their Soundcloud page.

Their influences are pretty well in order, and The Dive runs a gamut from Tool-style riffy churn to Monster Magnet‘s “how are they coming back from this one?” spacing out, never seeming to totally lose track of the rhythms driving the songs. Finale “Fresh Blue Coffee” even works in a little garage rock, reminding of Baby Woodrose or one of Eurostoner’s many like-minded acts. “Iguana”‘s cadence makes it something of a misstep, but the bassline in “Floating” makes up for a lot.

You can find The Dive on Thee Facebooks here, but I basically just wanted to post the tracks for anyone who might be into checking them out, so here you go:

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Brotherhood of Sleep, Dark as Light: Heralding an Eternal Dawn

Posted in Reviews on March 7th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster

Part of the expanding and unabashedly stoner-fied Greek scene, Athens trio Brotherhood of Sleep – who are not to be confused with Down’s moniker for their fans, “The Brotherhood of Eternal Sleep” – follow a 2009 self-titled with their second LP, Dark as Light (Catch the Soap Productions). The album, entirely instrumental, is comprised of four massive slabs of Orange-hued, mostly-fuzzed, riff-led heavy psych, semi-progressive in its sometimes-displayed angularity, and not given to the extensive jamming of some of the European psychedelic scene. Each of the four pieces, “Afterlife Unearthed,” “Naze,” “Aranian Gates” and “Dark as Light,” has a plotted construction, somewhere it’s on the way to being, and that greatly helps keep the listener hooked as Dark as Light progresses. Liner notes as heady as the music the three-piece concocts help to guide a narrative that plays out in the music but aren’t essential to the listening experience. As all of the songs top 11 minutes, there’s plenty of room for the audience to make up their own mind concerning themes and storyline.

There’s an element of Om-style spirituality in some of what Brotherhood of Sleep do within the time and volume shifts of “Afterlife Unearthed” and the subsequent material on Dark as Light, but ultimately the band probably has more in common with the likes of a vocal-less Sungrazer or their peers among the next generation’s Colour Haze-inspired ilk. As the title suggests, there’s a lot of playing off the contradicting dark and light atmospheres, perhaps mostly on “Naze,” which tops 14 minutes as the longest track on the album and begins slow, led by bassist Danis A. Throughout both that song and the record as a whole, though, the standout performance is by drummer Serafim G., whose bright, popping snare is like a call to attention across “Afterlife Unearthed,” and whose fills make all the difference selling the material. There are a couple points where I wish he’d open up a groove and really lock in with the riffs, settle into the song instead of seem so busy (8:17 into “Naze,” if you want a specific example), as he does late into the closer, but by and large he’s a good demonstration of the difference a drummer can really make in a band, as without his stylized play anchoring the rhythm section, Dark as Light would inevitably fall flat.

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Harvey Milk Take Their Turn

Posted in Reviews on August 9th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster

Some bands you listen to because you enjoy them, some bands you listen to because you think they’re interesting. Some bands you listen to because they’ve influenced others and you want to hear why, and some bands you listen to because you just have to find out what the fuck the big deal is. The latter is my experience with Harvey Milk, who since their 2006 reunion and subsequent releases on Hydra Head have officially become the rock the cool kids dig. When the chance came up for me to check out A Small Turn of Human Kindness, the latest from the Athens, Georgia, trio, I more or less popped it on just to see what it was all about. I remember seeing Harvey Milk open for Khanate in NYC a few years back, and I remember being neither over nor underwhelmed, but whatever, maybe something’s changed.

Not really. A Small Turn of Human Kindness sounds like a genuinely cerebral exercise, so it probably isn’t. Creston Spiers, Kyle Spence and Stephen Tanner present the album as one long piece, with various misanthropic titles spread across seven tracks, ranging from “I Just Want to Go Home” and “I Alone Got Up and Left” to the ominous “I Did Not Call Out.” As the vocalist and guitarist, Spiers leads the way through the songs, which lumber with a heavy foot in and out of doomed minimalism, feedbacked solos, and a spiritually downtrodden demeanor that feels genuine enough to get by tagged “authentic.” Tanner’s bass tone is low the way you think of trenches, and Spence’s drums are perfectly suited to accenting the best of both his bandmates. It’s not surprising, since Harvey Milk has been around long enough for A Small Turn of Human Kindness to be their seventh album with the band having broken up and gotten back together, but as power trios go, they more than earn their name. For its consistency of mood alone, A Small Turn of Human Kindness is unrelentingly heavy.

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Harvey Milk Make a Small Turn

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 3rd, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster

My, the children do love that Harvey Milk. The children in tight flannel shirts, anyway. But if you read the following PR wire release carefully, you’ll see that the band — or at least their label, the ever-suave Hydra Head — is well aware of their hipster appeal. You can tell with the “slumming it” line, which from where I sit is a direct shot to the center of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and any dig on those kids is fine by me. I’m getting sidetracked. Harvey Milk have a new record coming out, and it’s called A Small Turn of Human Kindness. Here’s the info:

A Small Turn of Human Kindness is as dense and as heavy temperamentally as it is musically. The seven songs so subtly bleed together that the listener has no choice but to view the entire album as a linear orchestration with a singular ebb and flow…. a rising and falling action, refined to hell and back. And so, all of these things lead me to believe that any and all true Harvey Milk fans will eventually argue this record as the band’s finest work. Or at least the vinyl version will become the quintessential mantle-piece for a generation of suburban children slumming it in the inner city… you know who you are!

Tracklisting:
1. *
2. I Just Want to Go Home
3. I Am Sick of All This Too
4. I Know This is No Place For You
5. I Alone Got Up and Left
6. I Know This is All My Fault
7. I Did Not Call Out

Harvey Milk Live:
3/5 Pittsburgh, PA @ Rex Theatre w/ Coalesce, Atlas Moth
3/6 Philadelphia, PA @ Kung Fu Necktie w/ Coalesce, Atlas Moth
3/7 Baltimore, MD @ Otto Bar w/ Coalesce, Atlas Moth
3/8 New York, NY @ Le Poisson Rouge w/ Coalesce, Atlas Moth
3/9 Boston, MA @ Middle East Downstairs w/ Coalesce, Atlas Moth
3/10 Montreal, QC @ Il Motore w/ Coalesce, Atlas Moth
3/11 Toronto, ON @ Wreck Room w/ Coalesce, Atlas Moth
3/12 Hamtramck, MI @ Small’s w/ Coalesce, Atlas Moth
3/13 Chicago, IL @ Subterranean w/ Coalesce, Atlas Moth
5/27 Nashville, TN @ Rockettown w/ Converge, Lewd Acts, Black Breath
5/28 Atlanta, GA @ The Masquerade w/ Converge, Lewd Acts, Black Breath

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