Posted in Whathaveyou on December 8th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
As far as band taglines go, ‘Fuck you, we’re Lucifer’s Fall!’ is pretty solid. Belonging to the Australian traditional doom outfit of the same name, it rather neatly sums up the drunk and misanthropic perspective from which their grit seems to emanate on a song like “Mother Superior,” which you can hear below and which opens their second album, II: Cursed and Damned, which is being released Dec. 12 — that’s next Monday in case you, like me, are working a month behind in your own I-think-it’s-this-date-not-this-date mental calendar — by Nine Records. Like Reagers-fronted Vitus with some of Orange Goblin‘s burning-alcohol-for-fuel momentum building. Makes for a pretty raw combination, but hey, you can hear it for yourself, so no need for me to prattle on.
The PR wire brings the attitude to the people:
LUCIFER’S FALL – II: Cursed & Damned – new album from Australian doom metallers!
NINE005, CD, Release Date: December 12th, 2016
Straight from South Australia, Lucifer’s Fall recorded Their second full-length album called “II: Cursed & Damned”.
Lucifer’s Fall was created in 2013 by Deceiver and Unknown Unnamed (members of Rote Mare). In 2014 they recorded their debut album, which was re-released in 2015 by Hammerheart Records. Lucifer’s Fall, worshiping a raw traditional doom metal, classic doom metal bands like Saint Vitus, Pentagram and Reverend Bizarre.
“II: Cursed & Damned” contains nine tracks with heavy catchy riffs, crushing sounds and brilliant vocals. No tricks, no bullshit, this is sense of DOOM!
“Bringing doom and death to you all — Fuck You We’re Lucifer’s Fall”
1. Mother Superior 2. Damnation 3. The Mountain of Madness 4. Cursed Priestess 5. (Fuck You) We’re Lucifer’s Fall 6. The Necromancer 7. Sacrifice 8. The Invocator / Cursed Be Thy Name 9. Homunculus
Total Running Time: 50 minutes
Lucifer’s Fall is: Deceiver – Apocalyptic Howls Unknown Unnamed – Hammer Of Doom Heretic – Abrasive Blasphemy Cursed Priestess – Cryptic Storms & Incantations The Invocator – Axe Of Satan & Demonic Summonings FUCK YOU! WE’RE LUCIFER’S FALL……
Posted in Reviews on December 2nd, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
A sophomore outing poses a significant challenge to Melbourne-based heavy blues rockers Child perhaps more than it does to some other bands. Their self-titled debut, self-released in 2014 and snagged by Kozmik Artifactz for a CD/LP release a year later, had an advantage in the element of surprise. Call it the “where’d these guys come from?” factor. That album took Child to Europe and announced their arrival beyond Australia’s borders. More over, it set a high standard of naturalistic groove and jammy vibes for its follow-up to meet. Blueside, Child‘s second offering through Kozmik Artifactz, can’t necessarily rely on that same ability to blindside. While it will no doubt be some listeners’ first exposure to the band, you only get one full-length debut.
The good news is it doesn’t need novelty. The trio of guitarist/vocalist Mathias Northway, bassist Danny Smith and drummer Michael Lowe don’t fix what wasn’t broken last time out, and there’s a lot in common between their two to-date offerings in style and substance. Both records have five tracks, both carry a feel of having been recorded at least mostly live, both play to heavy rock traditionalism and blue-eyed soul, both carry striking cover art by Nick Keller — who’s also known for his work with New Zealand’s Beastwars and whose emphasis on blues with Blueside is hard to miss — and both succeed in casting a memorable impression without necessarily leaning on their choruses to a point of sounding contrived.
The latter is especially true of Blueside, and indeed one of the crucial factors arguing toward Child‘s overall progression across the album’s 39-minute span is the balance they strike between open-sounding jams and the underlying purpose that drives them forward. That’s not to say opener “Nailed to the Ceiling,” “It’s Cruel to be Kind,” “Blue Side of the Collar,” “Dirty Woman” or the 11-minute finale “The Man” aren’t catchy in a get-stuck-in-your-head kind of way, just that what’s likely to get stuck in your head could just as much be a section of bluesy noodling from Northway on guitar as a soulfully-delivered hook, and that rather than one standout part or line or chorus, Blueside feels more determined to deliver a full-album flow and experience. Child take great steps to hone an organic, classic, but still crisp sound.
At the beginning of “Dirty Woman,” for example, we hear an engineer, presumably Dav Byrne, who recorded, mixed and mastered, calling out the beginning of the take, followed by what sounds like a radio signal being picked up by one of the amplifiers. As Child dig into a gorgeous psych-blues jam, that interference seems to pop up again later in “The Man.” Likewise, before “It’s Cruel to be Kind” starts, we hear Lowe play a measure on drums (the room mics sound great) and Northway gives an “okay” that he’s ready to begin the song. What these details do is emphasize the point that Child are basically inviting their listeners into the session itself, as it’s happening.
It’s not that they’re working toward being raw — “It’s Cruel to be Kind” and “Dirty Woman” feature a righteous backing vocal guest performance from Harmony Byrne, while both “Dirty Woman” and “Nailed to the Ceiling” bring in Joe Cope to add organ to the proceedings — but in their way, the songs push at the core of an ideal of capturing the spirit of a performance without sacrificing the in-the-moment spontaneity that can come when players lock in on stage. They’re not the first to do it, but from Buffalo and earliest AC/DC to today’s vibrant and varied Melbourne heavy underground, Child are the beneficiaries of the lessons a rich rock history can teach, and no doubt Blueside will help them further cast their own place in it after grabbing so much attention their first time out.
One more thing Blueside has in common with its predecessor is that the deeper it goes, the further out it goes. After a relatively straightforward roll in its first half, “Dirty Woman” breaks in the middle into a hard-fuzz jam, bolstered by organ and backing vocals, that sets the stage for Northway — who shines across the album in standout, emerging-frontman fashion — to loose a final solo before backwards guitar and amp noise finish out the song. That sets up the extended finale “The Man,” which takes its time in a satisfyingly classic way, starting almost before the listener realizes it with its tinge of Hendrixian blues, blown-out vocals (doubled in places) and steady but patient build. No rush.
Only after they pass the seven-minute mark do Child really dig into the full-boar tones of Blueside at its heaviest, so that “The Man” — a kind of lyrical answer to the earlier “Blue Side of the Collar” — gracefully makes its way to the album’s apex as it pushes toward its long fade, one last emphasis placed on the dynamic in development between Northway, Smith and Lowe, whose chemistry already is not to be understated. If Blueside is an indication of how Child will continue to grow as a band, settle in, because much like their sound itself, it seems like they’ve got more of a focus on exploring earthy vibes than willing themselves into forced-sounding leaps and bounds.
I can’t argue with the approach — it couldn’t be more fitting, actually — or with the results that come through in these five songs, and not to be discounted in Child‘s appeal is their lack of pretense and posturing. For a band who draw so much on the blues, it would be easy to get sidetracked into genre tropes and to lose individual identity for the sake of executing a cookie-cutter sonic idea. Child avoid this with a fluidity that is their own and so come out of their second offering with even more momentum than they went into it. An important step, and one they inarguably take in a commanding forward direction.
Posted in Reviews on November 30th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Foremost, the shamanic psychedelia of Megaritual would seem to be teaching. What are the lessons of the LP Mantra Music, released by White Dwarf Records in limited blue vinyl to match the sky on the record’s cover? First, that you don’t need personnel to make something sound lush. I’ve heard density conjured by one-pieces and six-pieces, but getting a genuine sense of space is harder. Megaritual is comprised solely of Australian multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Dale Paul Walker, also guitarist in Gold Coast metallic rockers Mourning Tide and reportedly in instrumental psych outfit Sun of Man as well, and through layered arrangements of guitar, sitar, bass, drums, chanting vocals, effects and so on, Walker (who also engineered, mixed and put together the aforementioned cover art) casts an enviable breadth and patience into the 44-minute/eight-track offering, while still making tradeoffs between quiet meditations and louder push, as on “Stormbringer.”
Second lesson? That when it comes to psychedelia, time can be rendered irrelevant. The two sides of Mantra Music are drawn from two separate releases — both EPs released by Walker to introduce Megaritual to a public audience. Mantra Music (Volume One) arrived in 2014 and brings the tracks “Is the Heart of the Mystery…,” “Top of the Mountain to You,” “Stormbringer,” and closer “Have You Seen the Sky Lately?,” as well as a manipulated version of the artwork, while 2015’s Mantra Music (Volume Two) featured “Is the Sound of One Hand Clapping a Tree Falling in the Woods?,” “Tatt Tvam Asi,” “Over Hill and Veil” and “Infinity” (listed as just its representative symbol: “?”).
These two shorter releases were recorded and issued within months of each other, but still, it would be easy for there to be some disparity between them. Rather, the sitar drone and acoustic blend of “Tatt Tvam Asi” and subsequent hugeness of the guitar wash that emerges later in the track make an excellent complement to the earlier swing and multi-tiered push of “Top of the Mountain to You,” and when listening to Mantra Music — the compilation — either split onto its component two sides or straight through in linear digital fashion, its headphone-worthy hypnosis flows regardless of the origin point of a given song. Granted, part of that no doubt stems from similar recording circumstances, similar intent, instrumentation, not that much time between, etc., but maybe Walker was making an album over the course of those months and didn’t realize it until afterward. That’s what Mantra Music feels like: A debut album.
From the introductory “Is the Heart of the Mystery…,” which unfolds drones and chants and ritual guitar and percussion over the course of less than two minutes, to the electronics-infused percussive thrust of “Have You Seen the Sky Lately?,” where it’s cymbals that do the washing more than guitar, which instead offers a celebratory flourish of lead work before the cold, surprisingly sharp finish, Megaritual keeps a watchful eye on the progression of the release as more than just the sum of its parts. That’s evident even in how the songs are arranged in the tracklisting, not merely split between the two EPs one-per-side, but with the acoustically-grounded “Is the Sound of One Hand Clapping a Tree Falling in the Woods?” pushed up next to the material from Mantra Music (Volume One) to provide a transition to the second EP tracks while “Have You Seen the Sky Lately?” closes. These decisions affect how one hears Mantra Music on the whole and make it a richer, deeper listening experience.
A third lesson might be that self-awareness doesn’t necessarily need to stop sonic exploration. Pun titles like “Top of the Mountain to You” or “Over Hill and Veil” (or “Dirty Black Summer of Love,” which closed Mantra Music (Volume Two) but was left out here for time constraints along with “…The Mystery of the Heart?,” which rounded out the first EP) would seem to indicate a wink and nod from Walker to his listenership, but the conversation goes further than that. Three of the eight cuts on Mantra Music are questions, and I have a hard time believing it’s a coincidence they appear at the beginning, middle and end of the tracklisting.
Walker is directly engaging his audience, and while both the moniker under which he’s operating — Megaritual — and the title of the long-player — Mantra Music — are apt descriptions of the aesthetics at play, the (expanded) consciousness at root does nothing to undercut that engagement. As “Over Hill and Veil” and “Infinity” push increasingly outward into Eastern-tinged acid folk and instrumentalist guitar-led cosmic monolithia, respectively, Mantra Music is intimate, not insular. By then, the invitation has long since been handed out and it’s up to the listener to answer, though the gloriously immersive and true-natured heavy psych of “Tatt Tvam Asi” doesn’t seem to brook much by way of refusal. Nonetheless, there isn’t a moment on Mantra Music in which Megaritual feels held back by the fact that Walker is no doubt carefully constructing its ambience one painstaking layer at a time, and if anything, the collection is even more impressive for that, since its primary impression is one of vibe, not structure — though certainly “Stormbringer” and “Over Hill and Veil” have their hooks — and it still manages not to lose its overarching purpose in indulgence of wash.
Does that make balance a de facto fourth lesson? Possible. While the sonic elephant in the room throughout Mantra Music has to be New Zealand’s Lamp of the Universe, who would seem to be a direct influence on Walker here, it is ultimately the balance between heft and expanse that distinguishes Megaritual from that other one-man outfit, and one can already hear that balance continuing to develop on the 2016 single-song EP Eclipse (featured here) that Walker has issued in the wake of Mantra Music itself. But I’d prefer to leave the fourth lesson up for interpretation, since if there’s anything one can take in the end from Mantra Music it’s that the growth Walker has begun to undertake is no less open in its possibilities than the actual sound is vast. Perhaps most important of all, as he’s teaching, he’s learning.
Posted in Reviews on November 28th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
It’s almost 100 percent certain that’s their origin, but I don’t think it’s appropriate to call the five tracks on Comacozer‘s debut LP, Astra Planeta, jams. There are moments that definitely give an air of spontaneity to the outing, whether that’s the initial unfolding textural nod of “Saurian Dream” or the guitar-led flourish that factors so significantly into closer “Hypnotized by Apophis,” but the course overall feels plotted, and with the blend of psychedelic and heavier impulses that the Sydney-based trio have on offer throughout the 41-minute HeadSpin Records LP, presented in clear/black or clear/purple gatefold vinyl with art by Fever Dog guitarist Danny Graham, there’s some measure of comfort in that.
Of course, Comacozer aren’t exactly entering into their first album blind. Astra Planeta follows behind two EPs in 2014’s Sessions and 2015’s Deloun that wound up combined and pressed to vinyl as — wait for it – Deloun Sessions, but where that was very clearly drawing a line between two early outings, Astra Planeta draws a significant amount of its purpose from exacting a linear flow across its two sides, split with three cuts on side A and two longer ones on side B, opting it would seem for maximum immersion at all times, whether the source of that is Rich Burke‘s willfully-meandering guitar, Richard Elliott‘s patient basslines or the steady push in Andrew Panagopoulos‘ drumming that seems to hold these proceedings together, giving a song like second track “The Mind that Feeds the Eye” a sense of build late and adding direction to the record as a whole.
The opening that “Saurian Dream” and “The Mind that Feeds the Eye” give to Astra Planeta is key to understanding that direction. In listening, I’ve been trying to determine the source of what I’m hearing so distinctly as an earlier My Sleeping Karma influence. It seems to be in some of the minor-key Easternisms early in “Saurian Dream,” blended with Western heavy psych impulses, and no doubt part of the connection stems from the fact that both groups are instrumental, but I think it has even more to do with the smoothness in Comacozer‘s tones. Layers of watery effects from Burke‘s guitar and the depths in Elliott‘s bass as heard just past the midpoint of the opener as it comes more to the forefront of the mix join together to craft a hypnotic impression that, while still figuring out some elements of its approach — one hopes that growth is a lifelong process for the band only beginning here — is marked in its effect on the listener in a similar manner as the German masters of the form.
Where Comacozer distinguish themselves is in their immediate drive to push beyond this root inspiration, drawing from it the fluidity from which their debut very much benefits and then suiting that to the purposes of their already-noted instrumentalist songwriting, whether that’s the linearity of “The Mind that Feeds the Eye” or the more rhythmically-minded, open structure of “Navigating the Mandjet,” which follows and closes out side A with Panagopoulos expanding the percussive scope amid more adventurous arrangements of guitar, tapping sitar-esque feel and wah-soaked bass as handclaps assure a duly human feel beneath and alongside the earlier ceremonial thrust that gives way to funkier terrain as the three-piece make their way into the second half of the song, which is the shortest on Astra Planeta at 6:21.
It’s fitting for the overarching progression of Astra Planeta that the two lengthiest pieces should follow. One might have a difficult time saying “Illumination Cloud” (8:18) and “Hypnotized by Apophis” (11:38) go further out than any of the first three tracks, since the basic cosmos-bound flow remains largely consistent, but with more time at their disposal, Comacozer do get a chance to show more of the aforementioned spontaneity. Burke‘s solo late in “Illumination Cloud,” which if it isn’t improvised is a close enough approximation over the steady groove offered by the bass and drums — Elliott‘s bass takes over circa 7:30 after that solo drops out and offers a moment to genuinely appreciate his tone shortly before the song ends — as well as in the thicker, early Natas-style fuzz of “Hypnotized by Apophis,” which settles into a march in its second half only after a satisfyingly exploratory midsection in which the low end again shines as the guitar noodles-out in trippy fashion.
Granted, it might ultimately be a familiar blend of styles — heavy, psych, some underpinnings of stoner and doom — but as with any encouraging debut, Astra Planeta presents a telling glimpse of where Comacozer are coming from sound-wise and gives listeners a chance to speculate on where and how they might develop going forward. As to that, the most engaging facets of Astra Planeta prove to be its ultimate immersion, its willingness to subtly engage with expanded layering and arrangements, its tonal warmth and the chemistry beginning to take shape between Burke, Elliott and Panagopoulos. So long as Comacozer can maintain those going forward, the rest should take care of itself naturally, and particularly as naturalism seems to be such a focus for them on Astra Planeta, there should be little to worry about in that regard.
Posted in Whathaveyou on November 25th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Squares take heed! Melbourne psych rockers Buried Feather leave no edges un-rounded on their second album, Mind of the Swarm! Announced today and set for release via respected purveyor Kozmik Artifactz and Cobra Snake Necktie Records on Feb. 10, 2017, the follow-up to the trio’s 2013 self-titled debut is a get-lost-in-it wash of post-gaze heavy wash, gorgeously laden in effects, upbeat when it needs to be — looking at you, “Sunshine” — and immersive in the extreme. Shades of Dead Meadow‘s tonal depth will be recognizable to those who’ve spent time inhabiting that particular semi-garage, but with the electronics of “Screen Dreamer” and “Endless C” and the early dreamscaping of lead-single “Dust” and the subsequent “The Stranger,” Buried Feather do plenty to make their influences their own as well.
More to come as we get closer to the release, I hope. Until then, you can stream “Dust” below, and I would suggest that you do, perhaps while perusing the following info from the PR wire:
Buried Feather announce new album “Mind of the Swarm”
With a sound built on fuzzy drone and swirling keyboards, Buried Feather’s live shows have built a loyal following, drawing regular comparisons to Dead Meadow and Spacemen 3. Their 2013 debut album was a woozy, atmospheric affair that was well loved on community radio right around Australia. The band toured regularly behind the record, including shows with NYC’s Endless Boogie and San Diego psych-metal titans Earthless.
Buried Feather are set to release their second full-length, Mind of the Swarm, out this February through Melbourne indie label Cobra Snake Necktie Records as well as the German stoner-rock imprint Kozmik Artifactz. Recorded by Paul Maybury (King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard) and mixed by Nick Franklin (The Grates, Deep Sea Arcade), the new record is a more dynamic realisation of the band’s hypnotic sound. First single “Dust” finds them solidly in kosmische territory, with a head-rush of phased guitars swirling around a locked groove. The record throws up some interesting surprises, with druggy rave-ups and dark, synth-driven slow jams sitting alongside the fuzzy rock tunes.
Mind of the Swarm will be available digitally on 10 February 2017 and on limited 180gm vinyl through Cobra Snake Necktie Records (Australia) and Kozmik Artifactz (Europe).
Posted in Whathaveyou on November 21st, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Melbourne heavy blues three-piece Child left little doubt to their boogie allegiance with their 2014 self-titled debut. So much so that respected German purveyor Kozmik Artifactz picked up the record for release early last year. Tracked live in its entirety and showcasing due vibrancy as a result, the follow-up is called Blueside, and it arrives via the same label on Dec. 2. You probably caught wind of the first record, because you’re hip like that, and I’d have sworn I reviewed it at some point but can’t find the link — hey, I’m human; sometimes a cool album falls through the cracks — but Blueside rolls out five new languid, jammy rockers marked out by the vocal performance of guitarist Mathias Northway and the rhythmic fluidity of bassist Danny Smith and drummer Michael Lowe in a manner no less grand than the Nick Keller (see also: Beastwars) cover art would suggest.
Shit is right on, is my point, and whether they’ve gone a-wonderin’ in a song like “It’s Cruel to be Kind” or the 11-minute closer “The Man” or get down on more straightforward vibes with centerpiece “Blue Side of the Collar” — for which you can see a newly-posted video at the bottom of this post — the flow holds up front to back for the 39-minute span. I’ll have a review up in the weeks to come, but preorders are up now through Kozmik Artifactz, and the short version is you might want to get on that.
CHILD ‘Blueside’ LP/CD out December 2nd
CHILD is a trio of jam-obsessed first-class musicians, who met in 2012 in the rock underground of Melbourne. Between the three working class Australians Mathias (guitar/vocals), Michael (drums) and Jayden (bass), who can best be described as a blues fanatic with liquid steel as blood, grew as strong a musical band as a group of Musicians can only cultivate and nurture themselves by the unabated urge for intense jam.
It quickly became clear that songs here would not be created simply as architectural objects on the drawing board, but as a result of a deep dialogue between three conspiratorial individuals who have given their instruments speech.
From this dialogue, the self-titled debut resulted in the winter of 2014, which, in addition to the CD, also received a top-notch vinyl copy of the well-known cult label Kozmik Artifactz. On the bandcamp page of the band, this blues-doom hammer has since then entered the hearts of the buyers, which is evidenced by a steadily growing number of supporter reviews.
The enthusiasm for CHILD became so international in a short time that the band escaped the red continent in 2014 and 2015 and also crashed European clubs and festivals with their brutal sound. In these few but very busy years, CHILD have already contested 145 shows, among others. Also a tour of Indonesia. There they appeared in some places as the first internationally active band at all, which led to partly adventurous events.
In April 2017 it will be time again, and this time especially the German-speaking area will pay a lot of attention.
In the spring of 2016 CHILD’s dialogue was resumed, but with a new bassist, Danny Smith, also recruited from the circle of friends.
On the self-imposed goal of the band, nothing had changed: the magical intensity of the CHILD-Liveshows was to be transferred intimally and unbuilt to the new recordings, and a sluggish, sonorous power that made the good old Doom Metal pale was a perfect protoplasm, which Mathias was able to inoculate many very lively blues cells with his singing and guitar playing after black swamp blues…
The two-month recording process, a liverecording with just enough space for bluestypic improvisations, resulted in a refreshing contrast to the currently booming heavy blues rock, because, irrishingly, “Blueside” creates a very primordial blues full of expressive power even more strongly in the foreground and still to speak also of true doomfans, which the underlying cause of all instruments plays directly into the entrails. Available as CD & limited vinyl
VINYL FACTZ – Plated & pressed on high performance vinyl at Pallas/Germany – limited 180g vinyl – 166x marbled (exclusive mailorder edition) – blue & black editions – 300gsm gatefold cover – special vinyl mastering
TRACKS 1. Nailed to the Ceiling 2. It’s Cruel to be Kind 3. Blue Side of the Collar 4. Dirty Woman 5. The Man
Child is: Mathias Northway – Guitars, Vocals Michael Lowe – Drums, Percussion Danny Smith – Bass Guitar
Recorded live at Iridium Audio and TVOG by Dav Byrne Mixed and mastered by Dav Byrne Produced by CHILD and Dav Byrne All songs written by CHILD
Original oil painting by Nick Keller Photography by Stephen Boxshall
Backing vocals by Harmony Byrne and Neil Wilkinson Organs by Joe Cope Layout by James Tom
Posted in Whathaveyou on November 8th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
I guess my only question as regards a new Seedy Jeezus album is when the hell they had time to write it. The Melbourne three-piece have hardly stopped since their self-titled debut came out last year, offering up singles, a 12″ EP, a live record and a newly-issued collaboration with Earthless‘ Isaiah Mitchell (review here), for whose Australian tour they also served as backing band in addition to traveling to Europe to tour on their own, so, what? Not big on sleep, I guess? Maybe they can catch a nap before tracking on what’s been tentatively dubbed Seedy Jeezus II begins in January, but somehow it seems doubtful.
Once again the trio will bring Mos Generator guitarist/vocalist Tony Reed to Australia to handle production duties. Reed worked with the band on the first full-length and has done various mixing and mastering for their subsequent releases along the way.
The band sent the following down the PR wire:
Seedy Jeezus announce recording of the follow up to the debut Seedy Jeezus album will happen in January 2017. Tony Reed (Mos Generator) again will be the man behind the dials capturing Seedy Jeezus.
Since the debut album was released in 2015 Seedy Jeezus have released two 7″ singles, a single-sided etched 12″, a LIVE album from their performance at Freak Valley 2015, and collaborative full-length album ‘Tranquonauts’ with Isaiah Mitchell (Earthless), and had the debut release reissued on Kozmik Artifactz in Germany.
“Seedy Jeezus are absolutely stoked to have Tony Reed on board for the recording of the second album,” said guitarist/vocalist Lex Waterreus. “Tony has great ears which you need when recording, a wealth of experience and an approach that suits us as a band. Tony gets exactly where we are coming from with our music and knows how to translate that to vinyl.”
The current working title for the album is Seedy Jeezus II, but that will no doubt change once the album is finished.
Posted in Reviews on November 1st, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Plucked from out of the cosmic ether and joining forces for Tranquonauts — maybe the name of the band, definitely the name of the album, possibly also the name of the sleepiest ’80s Saturday morning cartoon ever ported from Japan in order to sell action figures — the pairing of Melbourne heavy psych rockers Seedy Jeezus and Isaiah Mitchell isn’t overbearingly obvious. It’s not like the Earthless/Golden Void guitarist and the Aussie trio of guitarist/noisemaker/graphic artist Lex Waterreus, bassist Paul Crick and drummer Mark Sibson hang out on weekends, what with living on different continents at all.
Together with keyboardist Matt Murphy, the collaborative unit Seedy Jeezus with Isaiah Mitchell execute two 20-minute instrumental vinyl sides, flowing and jammy-feeling, with a story told in seven words across the two titles “The Vanishing Earth” and “Escape Through the Rift.” Hard to be more concise than that, and for two tracks — which check in at 19:57 (opening with the longest song; immediate points) and 19:17, respectively — given to such open-feeling flow and which show no concern with getting anywhere other than as far out as they can go, presumably through that rift, that efficiency speaks to some underlying purpose.
When the release of Tranquonauts through Blown Music and Lay Bare Recordings was announced here, the B-side had a different title, “King of the Lepers,” so it’s not as if these things have been thrown together haphazardly, and the same goes for the sonic makeup of the tracks themselves. While the prevailing vibe drips from being so coated in lysergic ooze, there always remains a sense of intention behind the interstellar exploration in these pieces.
That’s impressive on its own, but becomes even more so when one factors in that Tranquonauts was recorded on two separate continents as well, with Waterreus, Crick, Sibson and Murphy working in Melbourne and Mitchell in California. The two groups have some history together, having shared a stage at Freak Valley in Germany on separate Earthless and Seedy Jeezus European tours and met there, but for not having actually gotten in a room to play, “The Vanishing Earth” and “Escape Through the Rift” are remarkably cohesive, with Murphy‘s keys adding Woo-esque flourish beneath washes of lead guitar early in the opener, bass and drums ensuring the structural integrity of the material remains intact even as it seems most likely to come flying apart later on.
Sibson and Crick turn in showcase performances on both “The Vanishing Earth” and “Escape Through the Rift,” the latter of which begins with a description of a peyote trip sampled by Waterreus. Not so much for the flash in their playing, but for the class of it, how they balance pushing the jams forward with giving the guitars room to ride out the extended solos as the keys bring an added sense of dynamics and melody.
Likewise, the mix — Waterreus edited, Jason Fuller mixed and mastered — is gorgeous. “The Vanishing Earth” consumes with its depth, emphasizing the hypnotic repetitions at play, but it never gets boring or seems to lose its direction. The guitars step back late in the opener to some degree, and keys and effects come forward in a building wash that seems to signal the approaching end, and they ultimately finish quietly, setting up the drift to come on side B as the patient beginning of “Escape Through the Rift” gets underway following and coinciding with the aforementioned sample.
Here again, Murphy‘s keys shine, but the jazzy bass and guitar interplay accompanying isn’t to be undervalued. As one might expect, the two inclusions on Tranquonauts flow together pretty well — there’s no way they couldn’t given their makeup, frankly, unless the record was a complete failure — but there are distinctions in personality between them nonetheless. The opener takes a more active approach, has more push, particularly in its second half, while the closer holds to its subdued swirl into its organ-laced midsection and beyond, feeling even more psychedelic for it.
Granted, as they move through minute 14 and beyond, the freakout emerges until finally layers of what sounds like jet engines overhead bring the song to its conclusion, but even that is a gradual process — you’ll note a kick in the pace of Sibson‘s drums at 15:39 — and in the context of the prior jam, it feels like a natural progression from one to the other. Guitars and keys get fairly maddened by the end of “Escape Through the Rift,” but one assumes our heroes the Tranquonauts make it just in the nick of time and live to battle the forces of, what, squares?, for another day on some other planet, as amp noise rounds out the ending of the LP bearing the same name.
From Waterreus‘ holy-crap-inducing gatefold artwork, to the deluxe edition of the LP including a heavy rock-themed board game, to of course the songs that comprise it, Tranquonauts is a record that’s so clearly driven by the love of its creation that, if one can get down at all on the most basic level, it’s hard not to be won over by it. Will this be the first and only adventure of Seedy Jeezus with Isaiah Mitchell under the Tranquonauts banner? Seedy Jeezus served as the backing band for Mitchell‘s recent solo tour of Australia, so it would seem the plot only continues to thicken. If this is a one-off, though, it’s one bound to be treasured by those fortunate enough to snag it while the snagging’s good.