Cosmic Fall Premiere “Haumea” in New Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 15th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

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Berlin jammers Cosmic Fall — guitarist/vocalist Mathias, bassist Klaus and drummer Daniel — formed last year but already have two full-lengths to their catalog in First Fall (discussed here) and Kick out the Jams (review here), and they’re showing no signs of slowing down as they move forward from the second of them. And aside from its ultra-mellow flow, 12-minute psychedelic sprawl and hypnotic outward vibe, what’s particularly cool about the new cut “Haumea” is how it’s being unveiled.

Essentially, what you’re getting in the video below is a personal invite from the German trio to spy on their creative process. It seems likely that some of the parts of “Haumea” were thought out beforehand, like its kind of bouncing, almost Southern rock-style beginning, but what that unfolds to at least has its basis in improvisation if it’s not being off-the-cuff, improvised at that moment, and as they play it, what you’re hearing is the studio version of the song being laid down live. Cameras document and capture the proceedings and it’s about as straight a line to being there as one could possibly ask for.

This, as I’ve been saying for years, is one of the deepest appeals of jam-based heavy psychedelia and/or space rock. It dispenses with what’s more commonly thought of as a “finished product” in favor of shifting the point of conversation between artist and listener to the moment of creation itself. That’s not an absolute truth, of course, but to look at outfits like Electric MoonØresund Space Collective, indeed Cosmic Fall and others of their ilk, that very much seems to be what’s happening. Cosmic Fall take it one step further with “Haumea,” letting us see as well as hear as the piece takes shape.

Of course, in-studio documentaries are nothing new at this point, but this is something less filtered, less compiled, and true to the nature of the jam itself, it gives the most direct glimpse at Cosmic Fall‘s methodology at work in their new rehearsal space.

Think about that while you make your way through. Some updates on releases follow, courtesy of the band.

Enjoy:

Cosmic Fall, “Haumea”

It’s recorded in our new rehearsal room (we have it since January, but this is the first time you can hear/see something from it).

We recorded the audio as always (same as the 2 albums) and it was during a normal rehearsal.

Our next release will be kick out the jams on vinyl, which will be in summer (via clostridiumrecords and white dwarf) and then later this year we will release a split lp with the band Aphodyl via psyka records.

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Interview: Christian Peters of Samsara Blues Experiment

Posted in Features on May 11th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

christian peters samsara blues experiment

This one’s been a while in the making. Like, years. And as Samsara Blues Experiment guitarist/vocalist Christian Peters says below in his answer, the question I’ve been waiting to ask him as well is the one about his band’s experience touring the US for their 2013 album, Waiting for the Flood (review here). I had been thinking of this as a tipping point for the group to enter into something of a semi-hiatus as they did after that record, touring some in Europe but ultimately stepping back for a few years as Peters pursued solo work, his Electric Magic Records label, and other creative outlets.

My narrative, as ever, was off. It was a long European run that set Samsara Blues Experiment to the task of reevaluating who they were and what kind of band they wanted to be, and as the Berlin-based trio make their return in 2017 via their fourth full-length, One with the Universe (review here), Peters seems nothing if not clearheaded in his feelings on the issue. Joined in the now-three-piece by drummer Thomas Vedder and bassist Hans Eiselt after parting ways with former bassist Richard Behrens (who nonetheless recorded the new album), Peters seems to be embracing the opportunity to refresh his band’s sense of purpose and direction, and as they’ve never sounded so much like themselves on tracks like “Vipassana,” “Sad Guru Returns” and the album’s title-track, so too do Samsara Blues Experiment come across as assured of the methods by which their creativity is brought to life.

As it turns out, that sense of being assured was hard-won, both on his part and that of the band as a whole, and that tour in the US did seem to be a factor in how they’ve wound up where they are, for better and worse alike. In talking to Peters about that trip and about the album in general, I wanted to get a sense of where they were and where they might be going, and though he was reluctant to speculate on the latter, the honesty and at times philosophical approach to everything his group has been through underscores his knowing how vitally important the band is to him. It’s not something he could just leave behind — it’s an ongoing work driven by passion and a shifting creative spirit.

And after a full decade together, one shouldn’t be surprised to find One with the Universe also is Samsara Blues Experiment‘s most mature offering to-date, but what seems even more resonant to me in reading Peters‘ answers about its making is just how much more a work of spirit it is than simply another batch of parts thrown together. Not every artist is brave enough to admit that about their own output; some like to pretend these things just happen by mistake. Granted a song can come about spontaneously, and often those results are among the most satisfying, but that doesn’t mean they don’t matter. To pretend otherwise is silly. This is important to Peters. Crucially so. Especially in light of the quality of the work they’re doing, it’s hard not to respect the hell out of that.

Complete Q&A follows here. Please enjoy.

samsara blues experiment

It’s been four years since the last Samsara Blues Experiment album. Tell me about what’s changed in the band over that time and where you feel you are today as a group as opposed to where you were when you did Waiting for the Flood?

The most evident change is the turn back to a three-piece, as it was already in the earlier days of the band. In November 2013 we did this one long EU tour which sort of set the tracks for what had to happen right after this. I for myself was at one point pretty close to a burnout situation then, not sure if everything in the rock ‘n’ roll circus really was made for me, and I had to take a time out from the whole thing then. So right after this tour we had a few weeks of no rehearsals or playing live, and when the four of us met, it was mostly for talking about where everybody wanted to go with the band and with his life.

It pretty soon turned out that Richard, in total contrary to my ideas, wanted to tour even more, play more, turn it all into this sort of a job. Which then was something like a worst-case scenario for me, also because I thought that the four-piece sound really had to be thought about and worked out much more than we did then. I was not always happy with two dueling guitars too. And also, you know, in my belief there has to remain some kind of freedom which probably cannot be maintained if my while life sort of depends only from what I do in the band. I wanted to play better songs, better shows, not necessarily more! But I also wanted something else, of which I wasn´t specific about… I needed to find that out for myself.

So at some point it all seemed to have become a pretty tricky situation because everybody wanted to first of all find a “let’s stay together”-solution, but several other personal things led towards Richard leaving the band and Hans switching to bass. At some point it just happened kind of naturally, also because Hans was a bass player before, and btw one whom I always admired. We had to get used to this new situation and work a lot behind closed doors… So we spent the years 2014 and 2015 with shaping “the new band sound” and the new band as well. And besides from that I also got pretty deep into playing synthesizers and recorded a whole bunch of solo albums and EPs as Surya Kris Peters. I just needed to find other ways to be creative, I guess.

So after these weeks and months of “reshaping,” Thomas, Hans and I agreed that 2016 would be pretty much the year for coming up with new ideas for a new album, and not playing live at all. But since a year without one show can be long, at some point we decided to at least play one Berlin show and aside of that did what we needed to do to record One with the Universe in January 2017, again in Richard’s studio with him on the job, as a friend, now also a “hired studio technician” but sometimes still also a fourth creative input, not more on bass, more like a co-producer.

What’s the story behind “Sad Guru Returns?”

It started as a wordplay, because whenever I went through Berlin last summer I saw these Sadhguru-posters. I just like words, how words sound, how words interact, and I then made up this sad-guru thing and later found these samples of him speaking which could be pretty much be my own thoughts when he says, “we are the most comfortable generation ever, but we are not happy,” etc. — to me it’s like almost everybody seems to be looking for something but rarely anybody starts with him- or herself.

Life’s not about things you know. Not at all. In my humble opinion, it’s mostly about making real connections with people. Then there’s a lot of potential in each and every one of us, to be positive and loving and happy, to be creative, to be an even more important part to the whole thing than we are already. You know, I just don’t dig people dragging themselves and others down, especially if there seems to be no reason for that. All the negativity in people right now it seems to be just too much. At least that’s how I see it. Too much sadness in this world, way too much fear too these days… Everybody can make decisions, to a certain point at least. You can be happy and poor too. We all live, we’ll all die. Think about it. How do you want to spend your time on this planet?!

In the interim between records, you embarked on several solo outings as well. Did this affect your return to songwriting for Samsara Blues Experiment at all?

Well probably, because some of the songs have quite a lot of synths in them, like the whole intro-part of “Eastern Sun and Western Moon” or the title-track. I am just happy that both and Hans and Thomas share some of my enthusiasm for sounds from these “little keyboards,” as someone once described them…

What ultimately made you decide it was time to bring back Samsara Blues Experiment?

Honestly, I went through a really rough time from 2015 on. I lost contact to this once really important person. It was pretty much the first time I thought I had this love-relationship-thing sorted out, but then it turned out I knew nothing at all. I spent a long time in despair, in a dark room with nobody but myself. I was almost crazy and at some point nearly suicidal and I am not saying this to show off or something but it was just one of the darkest periods of my life for sure.

Then I heard of Rutger [Smeets] from Sungrazer committing suicide and it was really like a shock. I barely knew the guy, but we occasionally met and all the guys in Sungrazer were like these happy dudes, always sharing a good story, a BBQ, a bottle of limoncello (I didn´t forget.), whatever… I have no idea why Rutger finally did it, but at this point I pretty much just thought: WHAT THE F**K?! THIS IS JUST WRONG!!

I had a series of other not-too-happy-moments but then really felt like I needed to put myself together and started to finally look at the good things that remained there with me, and as one of the main things, there is this band. Honestly, at that period I also pretty much left Hans and Thomas in the dark, which wasn´t very nice of me to do but I just couldn´t handle it otherwise. Again, I canceled rehearsals and I even went out to play with other guys, just to find out where I belong I guess.

And I still belong with SBE, the band that Thomas and Hans I have formed in these last years and even earlier on, for all the songs we wrote when Richard wasn’t with us, when he was working his sound technician job and we already rehearsed or played live as a three-piece (we played one show in Kiev, Ukraine, as a three-piece when Richard wasn’t allowed into the country because he forgot to bring his passport… one of the many stories).

So to sum it up, I basically had to learn to appreciate thesamsara blues experiment band and to find again my place in the puzzle. I am a musician. Right now this is pretty much what I’d say to some stranger who’d ask me what I do in my life. I live music 24/7 now. Nothing else.

Oh, and at some point some of our fans helped as well to realize what we have here with this band. So, thank you there! We all are part of this picture.

Which came first, the album title or the song “One with the Universe” itself? Tell me about how that song came together, and how does it tie into the album (and, I suppose, the universe) as a whole?

Most times the music comes first, as it was also with this one. In 2016 we always did this one long jam session, based on two or three basslicks from Hans and a few parts from me, and it seemed almost impossible to bring all these pieces together to just one “proper song,” but after something like a half-year we miraculously did it. It was for sure among the hardest tasks in my almost 20-year-long career as a productive musician. I still refuse to learn too much about music theory, writing down notes or tabs or any of that. I know it’s maybe a bit stupid and limiting, but then I also often don’t have a lot of patience, nor a real interest for learning this to be honest.

The title “One with the Universe” just seemed to fit some of the overall topics that are connected with the album. In the first place maybe also that there is a new unity within the band. But also the idea that we all belong to a more “wholesome concept,” that no one really is nor should be isolated. That there is no “us versus them” as it is so often implied with the very cultivated society models we live in, and as it’s also projected even on artists, musicians and their work and recordings. Hey everybody: This is not a contest, you know?! And also, even while I am not a big philosopher or something, but also this man against woman thing, which seems to be part of “our culture.” To me all of this is just not right at all! Again, it’s also pretty much what Sadhguru says, and he is not my guru as more a person with whose thoughts I can partially identify myself.

How was it working with Richard as a producer/engineer as opposed to also having him in the band playing bass?

By now all or most the problems of the past seem pretty much solved. Richard seems to be very happy with his new role, and we are happy with the “new band.” It’s pretty much of a karmic relationship, but if you let all the ego-stuff aside, there´s a lot of great memories to share and a lot of good memories to be made for us still, if we want. You know, I could be angry for a whole lot of stupid reasons that lie back in the past, and so could be Richard or anybody else, but at some point you realize that you made a deep connection as friends and you either cherish that, or you go on bumping into the next karmic relationship. Simple as that, complicated as that.

You came to the US to support Waiting for the Flood. Tell me about that experience, what you learned from it and how you’ve been able to take that and move forward with this record. Will you be back at any point?

Well, this is the question I have been waiting for and it’s a tricky one to answer indeed. As you know we have been in the States as early as we had our first demo recordings, which back then seemed very naive and maybe a bit stupid, but the more the bravest thing a young band could do. Since my childhood I have been heavily influenced by the American way of life. I played baseball with a wooden stick when kids around me thought I’d gone crazy. I even fantasized of once going to US high school and college and becoming a professional in either baseball or basketball, or maybe the funniest: American football! I introduced all my friends to all these “cool things” from America, as in the GDR or the young reunited Germany we did not really have an idea what the real life in the USA would be like: All of it just seemed to be magical. So it was the first and greatest dream to come to the USA, and I made it not earlier than 2009 with the first long tour SBE ever did. It seemed all to be dreamlike still. We slept on dirty floors, we played for a few bucks for even fewer enthusiasts or music nerds or people who just came to the shows because they had some ancestor from Germany, I don’t know… it was okay back then, when most of us were like big kids in a candy store, basically.

Change of scenery, the band now has played a bunch of festivals and longer tours in Europe. We have grown up to adults in our early-to-mid 30s. Some of us have families and jobs and need to compromise on all the things that life brings along when you realize that not all of it is happening in candy stores anymore. Following the call of our not-so-few fans in the USA — as we had recorded three studio albums in the meantime since our first US tour — we found people to help organizing this return, as we thought, until a few weeks before this tour was supposed to happen all crashed down like a castle made of sand. I still have a lot of reason to be angry and frustrated here and I could name a few names, but there is no reason for that as more to say; we do not have very good and trustworthy contacts in your country. People whom we can rely on and who do this for the sake of the music and not because they need to earn their living from this, which just won’t work at all.

We are not a commercial act. We do not think very much in commercialist patterns. We are just not like most of the bands you know, we really basically play for the sake of expressing feelings though music, but when we travel we also expect to be treated with respect and honesty. We would love to return to the USA, but at this point it does not seem much practical or even possible. I am sorry for our fans there, but we will see what the future will bring, and not give up on trying to make “deeper connections.”

I hope this wasn’t confusing.

In the meantime, Samsara Blues Experiment toured South America already this year for the first time. How were those shows and how was that experience overall for you?

In one word: incredible!! People in South America seem to be starving for a good live show, even while we in particular always had quite many fans there, thanks to the miracles of the internet. I am just so grateful for having met Felipe [Toscano] of Abraxas booking, who started out as a fan of our music and now runs this amazing organization, in his free time from work and private life. What an amazing guy, really. What an overwhelming positive vibe on all shows on that continent. I still may be under the illusion of a first naive impact now, but I have rarely felt as welcome as there. It was just amazing, incredible, lovely.

You’ve now made four albums with Samsara Blues Experiment and it’s almost a decade since the first demo surfaced. How do you feel about what you’ve accomplished in that time? Where do you see the progression continuing to go?

I think we’ll just go with the flow, more or less. I am pretty much happy as it is now. I only would like to see us more widely exposed, like playing on more different occasions than just mostly stoner festivals, which isn’t wrong at all but I think we are much more than just another stoner group that likes Black Sabbath. Don’t get me wrong or so, I know where we belong the most, but then we also belong to the universe, and the universe is big. I would like to get things solved with the USA really, also in terms of distribution, but we are samsara blues experiment one with the universeworking on it and hopefully solving some of these issues.

You’ve just done Desertfest and have other festival dates coming up as well. Any plans yet for the Fall or anything else you want to mention?

Maybe we will be doing new songs then, maybe we will travel, or just be with the ones we love the most. Who knows? I think we’ll really try and go with the flow for a bit.

Samsara Blues Experiment, One with the Universe (2017)

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Samsara Blues Experiment, One with the Universe: Returning to the Path

Posted in Reviews on May 4th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

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With the release of their ambitiously-titled fourth album, One with the Universe, Berlin-based heavy psych rockers Samsara Blues Experiment provide the keystone of a resurgence that began late last year with a return to playing shows. Their last outing was 2013’s Waiting for the Flood (review here), and it was the most vivid realization to-date of their blend of progressive rock and psychedelic jamming, while continuing the momentum they’d built throughout their prior outings, 2011’s Revelation and Mystery (review here) and 2009’s Long Distance Trip (review here) debut, and with that behind them, it was easy to expect them to roll forward as they had for the half-decade since their demo (review here) surfaced in 2008. They didn’t.

By 2015, what had been a four-piece parted ways with bassist Richard Behrens (now of Heat), and after an increasing profile of tours and festival appearances, shows pretty much stopped as guitarist/vocalist Christian Peters embarked on a succession of solo outings exploring textures of synth and classic krautrock influences. In hindsight, the break makes some sense, particularly given the work Peters did in the interim, and really it hasn’t been egregiously long since the last Samsara Blues Experiment came out — four years isn’t eight, mathematically speaking — but as a fan of the band’s work, it’s hard to note the arrival of One with the Universe via Peters‘ own Electric Magic Records imprint with anything other than a sense of relief. Even before one digs into the five-track/43-minute outing rife with winding instrumental explorations, Eastern-minded inflections of theme and arrangement, and an overarching sense of celebration resonant from driving opener “Vipassana” (premiered here) through the swinging, pushing-outward finale of “Eastern Sun and Western Moon,” it’s awfully good to have Samsara Blues Experiment active again.

That’s about the least impartial statement one could make about the record beyond “duh, I like it,” so maybe take this review with the appropriate grain of salt, but the truth is that from their beginnings in the post-Colour Haze sphere of warm-toned heavy psych, Samsara Blues Experiment — now Peters, drummer Thomas Vedder and bassist Hans Eiselt — have become one of Europe’s leading underground presences in terms of the individualism they bring to their approach. One can hear it as rolling waves lead the way into “Vipassana,” a track that takes its name from the Buddhist concept of insight into reality’s true nature, Vedder‘s drums providing the transition into a progression marked by what ends up as an instrumental theme throughout: the use of keys and synth alongside the guitar, bass and drums.

With a recording job by ex-member Behrens and a wide-sounding mix that allows for shifts in volume and tone in “Vipassana” as much as for flourish of sitar on the centerpiece “Glorious Daze” and the bouncing ’70s organ work on the 15-minute penultimate title-track, Samsara Blues Experiment sound free to explore these spaces and well beyond, such that the earlier “Sad Guru Returns” — instrumental save for some samples at the beginning and end — and the trade between the push and crash of its hook and the sense of jammy-but-purposeful meandering in “Vipassana” set an immersive vibe more interactive than it is hypnotic.

That is to say, as “Glorious Daze” comes on to chill out the end of side A — not that it doesn’t build to its own crescendo around the aforementioned sitar and keys, because it most definitely does — One with the Universe sounds less about trying to draw listeners into an unconscious state than encouraging them to actively engage with what they’re hearing. Maybe “get up and dance” would be a too-strong interpretation, but at very least, Samsara Blues Experiment are asking those hearing these songs to remain present in the moment with them, whether that’s expressed through the thrust of “Vipassana,” the drift into swirl of “Sad Guru Returns” or the move from serenity to serenity in “Glorious Daze.”

samsara blues experiment

Of course, one can still get plenty lost in One with the Universe if so desired, and that’s especially true of the title-track. Starting out with a somewhat foreboding keyboard movement from Peters and bassline from Eiselt, the extended stretch is immediate in signaling its own patience and adjusting the expectation of the listener accordingly. Thus far, Samsara Blues Experiment have been fairly energetic in their delivery and they’ll be again as they move through this and “Eastern Sun and Western Moon” still to come, but the opening minutes of “One with the Universe” itself are given over to a languid unfolding that eases through the first half so subtly and fluidly that by the time vocals show up amid all the synth swirl, double-timed hi-hat, spacious guitar strum that turns to starts and stops, they’re more than nine minutes deep and one has all but stopped anticipating their arrival.

From that point on, the trio hit into a boogie-fied section that feels written for the stage and is the most prevalent example of the album’s celebratory mood — the lines, “Hey hey, want to be with you every day/Hey hey, think of all the promises we made,” defining the good-times atmosphere Samsara Blues Experiment are inhabiting in the back half of the song. Peters moves to layer keys and guitar (and vocals) as a verse takes hold, and a joyous, righteous jam ensues that’s as much fun to hear as it is an expression of the organic power trio construction between him, Vedder and Eiselt, vocals locking in note for note on a quick guitar lead before the song moves into its next verse playing off the “Hey hey, want to be with you every day/Hey hey, think of all the groovy times we’ve had,” lyrical foundation with added percussion behind.

They’re in full swing at this point, and at 14 minutes flat, they align to push “One with the Universe” to its conclusion, Vedder‘s crash becoming a wash in the process. That would seem to leave “Eastern Sun and Western Moon” as something of an epilogue, but in its lyrical theme and seven-minute linear build, it proves essential in tying One with the Universe together from start to finish, finding a place for itself between the thrust of “Vipassana” and the patience of the title-cut, bringing back the interplay of organ and guitar, and offering listeners a last chance to travel along with the band as they make their way toward a late-arriving peak in the song’s second half and close out the record with a bit of residual hum — sound waves rather than the ocean waves that started out the opener, but still undulating.

In addition to signaling their return after this four-year stretch, One with the Universe also marks a decade since Samsara Blues Experiment first got together in 2007. If one looks at the scope of what they’ve been able to accomplish over their tenure, the context in which this new collection arises is even broader and all the more worthy of appreciation. It’s been a significant creative journey up to this point, and whatever their future might hold in terms of releases, touring, etc., their fourth full-length confirms that no matter what might change for them or how their aesthetic might shift in the process of their continued becoming, their commitment to growth is unwavering and a crucial, defining aspect of who they are as a unit. Yet one more reason to be glad to have them back.

Samsara Blues Experiment, One with the Universe (2017)

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R.I.P. Hans-Georg Bier of Nasoni Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 14th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Sad news out of Berlin today in the announcement from Nasoni Records that founder Hans-Georg Bier has passed away. With Nasoni as his vehicle since 1996, Bier has been an instrumental figure in shaping the modern sphere of the heavy underground both in and out of Europe. Working with bands like Colour Haze, Vibravoid, Sula Bassana, Siena Root, Weltramstaunen, Causa Sui, Samavayo, Los Natas, Terraplane, Deadpeach, Stoned Jesus, Arenna, Space Invaders and countless others, his efforts contributed massively to the aesthetic of modern heavy psychedelia and particularly its loyalty to classic foundations in organic sounds and vinyl presentation. Under his tutelage, Nasoni Records became an absolute “can’t miss” label: all you needed to know going into a new release was that if Nasoni approved enough to put it out, it was going to be worth hearing.

I’ve said on multiple occasions that I consider Nasoni among the finest imprints worldwide, and their catalog over the last 21 years stands as evidence to back me up on that. In 2014, Dr. Rainer Präger’s From Farm to Space chronicled the accomplishments and releases of Nasoni, and the fact that the book (still available) included a limited-run 7″ with exclusive tracks from Wo Fat and The Re-Stoned emphasizes how completely unwavering the passion of the label has been. Bier, who reportedly suffered from long-term heart problems, was never anything but kind in my limited direct dealings with him years ago, and clearly someone for whom the music was paramount and everything else secondary.

The fact that Nasoni has never strayed from its initial principals and never forgotten to look forward to new fostering new bands and an ever-broadening reach is a huge part of what has made it so special as an imprint, and as listeners, we should be thankful to have had Bier at the helm for as long as we did. His accomplishments will continue to resonate for years and decades to come.

On behalf of myself and this site, condolences to the friends, family, colleagues and to fellow fans of Nasoni Records. This is a significant loss not only on practical terms for the company Bier founded, but for Europe’s heavy psych underground as a whole, but in his honor, it’s all the more crucial to press on and keep the turntables spinning.

Rest in Peace, Hans-Georg Bier.

The announcement as posted on Nasoni’s website follows here:

hans-georg bier of nasoni records

We deeply regret, having to inform you that the founder of Nasoni-Records, Hans-Georg Bier, has passed away just recently.

However, the Nasoni Label is going to live on and will be continued in Hans’s entire sense, philosophy and terms.

One fifth of a century of Nasoni records — this is certainly a reason to celebrate and also a good opportunity to look back at the beginnings and the history of the label.

In 1996 the music industry started the attempt to eliminate the traditional vinyl LPs with the introduction of the newest fad called CD — this encouraged us with our rebellious minds to start our project to reach out to all friends of analogue sounds and release outstanding music on vinyl.

We were sure that there were plenty of humans who would prefer the exciting and adventurous trip into the underground to the easy available junk from the surface of the mainstream scrapyard. These people shared also our view that every now and then a bit of surface noise on a record is still better than the irrelevant offers of 16 or 24bit audio and sampling up to 44000 Hz. At that moment in time nobody was even thinking about the next abyss and the coming horrors of the not so far away future — where people would happily listen to hollow and tinny sounds of a mumbling Mickey Mouse singer from a portable telephone!

If in 2096 somebody pulls a Nasoni record from the shelf and cannot help a sympathetic smile turning up on his face — then we know that our fight against the dark forces of the digital age was not in vain. This label was and still is the honest attempt to document and emphasize our love for music.

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Samsara Blues Experiment Premiere “Vipassana”; Reveal Art and Tracks for One with the Universe out May 12

Posted in audiObelisk on March 20th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

samsara blues experiment

As they returned home to Germany this past week from a South American tour and made ready to head out over the next month on a slew of European dates including festival stops at Under the Black Moon, Riff Ritual, and Desertfest in London and their native Berlin, Samsara Blues Experiment came one step closer to the release of their fourth full-length, One with the Universe. The album — confirmed for a May 12 release through Electric Magic Records with cover art by Michel Bassot newly unveiled below — arrives four years after the third Samsara Blues Experiment outing, Waiting for the Flood (review here), and finds the band pared down to a trio for the first time on a studio offering, returning to activity after several years away following a prolific run between 2009 and 2013, and embarking on some of their boldest and most progressive arrangements to date.

I haven’t heard One with the Universe in its entirety yet — as of this weekend, the master was still being finalized — but today I have the extreme pleasure of hosting the premiere of the 10-minute opening track, “Vipassana,” for your (and my) streaming enjoyment. Obviously, its my basis for the assessment above about the arrangements, and as the song plays through its jam-based course, one can hear that coming through in the synth provided by guitarist/vocalist Christian Peters, joined in the three-piece by drummer Thomas Vedder and bassist Hans Eiselt. At the same time, to go along with the core warmth of low end and natural push of the toms at the start and the airy guitar and echoing vocals that accompany, there also emerges some weightier tonality in the chorus that hits with a more aggressive underlying vibe. Dare I say “doomly?” I won’t guess how it plays out across the span of One with the Universe, which runs just under 47 minutes, but along with the synth sprawl that starts at about the halfway point, it’s something that turned my head listening to “Vipassana.”

I’ll hope to have a review up sometime between now and the May 12 release date, so I’ll save some of the rambling for that, but the name of the song, if you’re wondering, refers to the Buddhist notion of insight into the true nature of reality. Not exactly a toss-off scale on which to begin an album. Such purposes are welcome from Samsara Blues Experiment, who recorded the likewise ambitiously-titled One with the Universe with former bassist Richard Behrens (also of Heat), who also helmed the last outing. One looks forward to hearing how this spiritual searching resolves itself, or if it does at all, throughout the rest of the tracks.

Peters was kind enough to give some background on the making of “Vipassana,” and you’ll find his words, the complete album tracklisting, upcoming tour dates and more info under the player below.

Please enjoy:

Christian Peters on “Vipassana”:

‘Vipassana’ is the first song we did after Richard had left the band. It came out from a series of jam sessions. Pretty much this is all we did in the first rehearsals after Richard left: jamming, jamming and even more jamming. The song topic seems to be about growing up, or maybe growing up responsibly. Kind of a coming of age thing wrapped in heavy riffs and Pink Floydish-psychedelia, plus some kind of Indian raga theme. It’s pretty much what one can consider as ‘classic SBE’-material already, I think.

It may be interesting to know that Richard, who did not play any instruments, but again recorded the album, also contributed some nice ideas in the process, like having me play the backward solo or putting in some vintage tape-effects. we are all very happy with the outcome of this song in particular and hope you will enjoy. there is much more on the album.

samsara-blues-experiment-one-with-the-universeSAMSARA BLUES EXPERIMENT’s fourth ‘full piece of wax’ “One with the Universe“ is a culmination of all their works and truly a hard hitting cosmic invitation for floating into their universe of spiritual progression. The most evolutionary development compared to previous albums is the cosmic usage of analog synthesizers, keyboards and effects, while not losing focus on catchiness and well-rendered songwriting.

These five new epics subtly integrate flashes from Jimi Hendrix´ “Electric Ladyland“, Pink Floyd and Black Sabbath, with Canterbury Prog elements à la Caravan and the fuzzed-out riffs of Kyuss. “One with the Universe“ can not be put just into one genre: it is a multifaceted heavy rock album with tons of soul, courage and originality!

The album will be released on May 12th through Electric Magic Records.

TRACK LISTING:
1. Vipassana (10:43)
2. Sad Guru Returns (7:55)
3. Glorious Daze (6:01)
4. One with the Universe (15:03)
5. Eastern Sun & Western Moon (7:09)

– ARTWORK FROM MICHEL BASSOT –

EUROPEAN SHOWS:
25.03. Roma (IT), Defrag
31.03. Osnabrück, Westwerk
01.04. München, Under The Black Moon Festival
02.04. Leipzig, Werk 2
22.04. Barcelona, Riff Ritual Festival
29.04. Berlin, Desertfest
30.04. London (UK), Desertfest
12.05. Berlin, Zukunft am Ostkreuz (Stummfilm-Special)
13.05. Berlin, Zukunft am Ostkreuz (Albumrelease Parteeey)
14.05. Hamburg, Hafenklang
15.05. Wiesbaden, Schlachthof
16.05. Bielefeld, Forum
17.05. Nijmegen (NL), Doornroosje
18.05. Nantes (FR), Le Ferrailleur
19.05. Paris (FR), Backstage
20.05. Köln, Underground
11.08. Finkenbach, Finki Festival

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Samsara Blues Experiment on Instagram

Samsara Blues Experiment on Bandcamp

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Electric Magic Records on Bandcamp

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The Obelisk Radio Adds: REZN, The Fërtility Cült, Cosmic Fall, Oceanwake, Jenzeits

Posted in Radio on March 14th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk radio cavum

Granted, we’re still running on the backup server, but it’s been a couple weeks at this point anyway, so it’s time for a new round of adds to The Obelisk Radio. Some of this stuff is brand new, some isn’t out yet, and some is older, so it’s a pretty decent mix on that front, and between REZN, The Fërtility Cült and Cosmic Fall, I certainly think we’ve got heavy psychedelia covered. Fortunately there’s the longform doom extremity of Oceanwake and the kraut-worship electronics of Jenzeits (also longform, as it happens) to offer some balance, lest we go drifting off into the universe never to be heard from again. Can’t have that happening.

Before we dig in, thanks to Slevin as ever for his diligent work in keeping the Radio afloat. He’s got a drive recovery running now that will hopefully bring back everything that was there before. It’s been a whole thing, but progress is being made and I appreciate him tossing this stuff in with the backup material in the interim. Thanks to you as well for reading and listening.

The Obelisk Radio Adds for March 14, 2017:

REZN, Let it Burn

rezn-let-it-burn

All-caps Chicago-based newcomers REZN make their deceptively ambitious debut with Let it Burn, a self-released 10-songer checking in at a willfully sprawling 59 minutes that blends psychedelic drift, grunge fuckall and neo-stoner fuzz consumption to welcome effect. One gets shades of Mars Red Sky from opener “Relax,” but later doomer cuts like the blown-out cosmic smash of “Harvest the Void” or the rolling “Fall into the Sky” ensures the three-piece of bassist/vocalist Phil Cangelosi, drummer Patrick Dunn and guitarist/vocalist Rob McWilliams are working on their own wavelength, and flourish of sitar from McWilliams and Dunn on the dynamic raga-infused “Rezurrection,” as well as Dunn‘s percussion and Spencer Ouellette‘s modular synth in the two-minute interlude “Pipe Dream” that leads into the initial spoken sample of the Dead Meadow-style fuzzer “The Creature” only add further checked-out-of-life charm to the offering as a whole. “Relax” and “Wake” at the outset speak to some impulse on the part of the band to tie their material together, but that comes through even more as “The Creature” transitions into “Fall into the Sky” and the suitably-spacewalking “Orbit” leads to the noisy start of rumble-laden closer “Astral Sage” later on. REZN leave themselves room to grow into their approach in moments like these, and pieces like “Harvest the Void,” “The Creature” and “Wake” certainly speak to a memorable songwriting process in development, but Let it Burn already shows them a potent brew of weighted lysergics.

REZN on Thee Facebooks

REZN on Bandcamp

 

The Fërtility Cült, A Forest of Kings

the-fertility-cult-a-forest-of-kings

Nestled into the heavy hotbed of Tampere, Finland, The Fërtility Cült continue their progressive push into reverb-laden heft with late-2016’s A Forest of Kings, their third long-player behind 2013’s Heavenly Bodies and their 2011 debut, Eschatology (review here). In an admirably crowded scene, the five-piece are distinguished for their tonal breadth, use-not-overuse of echo-laden saxophone and organ and general willingness to meander without giving up an underlying principal of craft or direction. All of this is on display in the A Forest of Kings opener “Blood of Kings,” but the highlight of the album has to be the centerpiece “The City on the Edge of Forever” (taking its name from the highlight episode of the original Star Trek, written by Harlan Ellison), which successfully fuses jazzy rhythm with a patient, psychedelic execution to the sacrifice of neither. Also the longest inclusion at 10:58, it’s the umlaut-happy troupe’s most resonant melody and most singularly progressive stretch, but neither will I take away from the nod of “God of Rain,” which follows, or the manner in which the apex shuffle of closer “Cycles of Time” unfurls itself from the song’s initial subdued verses. Heady vibe throughout the total 46 minutes, as one might expect, but The Fërtility Cült‘s third is less self-indulgent than it might superficially seem, and their varied arrangements never fail to service what really matters to them, which of course is the material itself rather than the exercise of playing it. Rich and graceful when it wants to be, A Forest of Kings hones an endearing landscape without getting lost in it.

The Fërtility Cült on Thee Facebooks

The Fërtility Cült on Bandcamp

 

Cosmic Fall, Kick out the Jams

cosmic-fall-kick-out-the-jams

Mostly-instrumentalist trio Cosmic Fall — based in Berlin and comprised of guitarist/vocalist Mathias, bassist Klaus and drummer Daniel — formed in 2016 and worked quickly to turn around First Fall (discussed here), their first full-length of improv-based works. Kick out the Jams arrives with a fittingly quick turnaround and brings forth seven new pieces in its digital form, topping 93 minutes in its total space-bound push. More impressive than the quantity of the work — though I won’t take away from the sprawling appeal (or the delightful, influence-on-our-sleeve pun in the title) of the 21-minute “Earthfull” or 19-minute opener “Saturn Highway” — is the chemistry that seems to have immediately found root in Cosmic Fall‘s sound. They take a forward step in these tracks, to be sure, and there are more steps to be taken — a band like this, in the best case scenario, does not stop progressing, their material only comes to unfold more as a musical conversation between old friends; see Electric Moon — but as Kick out the Jams plays through its extended, immersive runtime, cuts like “Interstellar Junction” and “Stairway Jam” feel especially bold in how open they are in allowing the listener to hear that process happening. Songs are varyingly active — only “White Stone” (4:42) is under 11 minutes long — and allow for Mathias to lead the way into the spaciousness of “Purple Weed” while Daniel‘s toms propel “Cosmic Conclusion” at the album’s finish, but the core message behind Cosmic Fall less than a year into their tenure is one of ambition and the band’s deep motivation to develop the already palpable dynamic they have going. One can only look forward to hearing where their adventures take them and, indeed, where they take their audience.

Cosmic Fall on Thee Facebooks

Cosmic Fall on Bandcamp

 

Oceanwake, Earthen

oceanwake-earthen

With Earthen on ViciSolum Records, Finnish progressive death-doomers Oceanwake complete a trilogy that began on their 2013 debut Kingdom and had its second installment with 2015’s Sunless (review here). I’m not entirely sure what the overarching theme tying the releases together is — perhaps hearing the debut would help, but it’s not easily tracked down — but Earthen expounds on the blend of extremity, poise and emotional resonance the Luvia five-piece proffered their last time out, arriving as two massive tracks, opener “A Storm Sermon” (21:09) and closer “In Amidst the Silent Thrones” (24:04), both of which work in movements that shift between crushing, grueling doom and gorgeous, airy melodies. A depth of emotionalism isn’t necessarily anything new in the style — countrymen from Skepticism to Swallow the Sun have been morose for a long time — but what Oceanwake bring is a fluidity in their transitions and a sense of purpose to their songwriting beyond the usual miseries. Thus, like Sunless before it, Earthen emerges to bring significant character to familiar elements, drifting at times and explosive at others, but always under complete control, never wandering without a reason, and basking in low end that has to be heard to be believed. Earthen might fly under a lot of radars, but it shouldn’t be missed by those with an affinity for the extreme ends of doom. One hopes the now-completed trilogy project won’t be the sum total Oceanwake‘s output together.

Oceanwake on Thee Facebooks

ViciSolum Records on Bandcamp

 

Jenzeits, Jenzeits Cosmic Universe

Jenzeits-Cosmic-Universe

Jenzeits may be a new incarnation, but the project stems from a familiar source. Relocated from North Carolina to San Francisco — also, apparently, to the cosmos itself — multi-instrumentalist Chad Davis (Hour of 13SetAnuThe Sabbathian, etc.) offers up two massive synthesized soundscapes on Jenzeits Cosmic Universe, as both “Alpha” (25:00) and “Omega” (21:53) channel krautrock exploration and progressive indulgence. A due amount of the release is given to hypnotics, as one might expect — that is, it’s an easy one to put on and zone out — but Davis isn’t without some sense of motion either as he makes his way through “Alpha” and the rightfully more foreboding “Omega,” the latter delving into a movement of key runs backed by wind swirl calling to mind any number of horror and/or retro-horror soundtracks, and even minor shifts in the elements at work at any given moment become more pronounced in the grand context of the whole work. Davis usually has his hands in a number of outfits (and a number of genres) at any given time — an Hour of 13 resurgence is pending, for example — but Jenzeits‘ debut is engaging in its textures and feels like a journey just beginning.

Jenzeits on Thee Facebooks

Jenzeits on Bandcamp

More to come as we get The Obelisk Radio back up and running at full capacity. I’ve purchased a new hard drive toward that end, so we’ll have even more room to work with as well. Will update when there’s an update.

Till then, thanks again for reading and listening.

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Samavayo Premiere “Cross the Line” Video; Tour and Festival Dates Announced

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 14th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

samavayo

Last spring, Berlin-based heavy rock three-piece Samavayo reinforced their willingness to cross genre lines with their fifth album, Dakota (review here). With a strong sense of drive behind their crunching tones, they brought together elements of noise rock, heavy riffing and flourish of Middle Eastern progressions that only further distinguished their material. Recorded by Richard Behrens (Heat, formerly Samsara Blues Experiment) and released through Setalight Records, it was angular in its purpose — that is, prone to sharp edges on a sonic level — but flowed smoothly throughout and brought the band to a place that emphasized the consideration put into their songwriting without coming across as navelgazing in its sound.

It rocked, in other words. I guess I’m trying to say it rocked.

The trio of guitarist/vocalist Behrang Alavi, bassist/vocalist Andreas Voland (also Moog) and drummer/percussionist/vocalist Stephan Voland haven’t been shy about getting out to support Dakota, and next month, they’ll hit the road on a tour through Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria and the Czech Republic ahead of showing up in the UK for a slot at Desertfest London 2017. Good gig to get, but it’s hardly their last. Summer festival season awaits in Europe, and July will find Samavayo back in action at the long-running Stoned from the Underground as well, and it seems likely more are to follow (also more precede, hello Hell over Esslingen).

At the same time, and perhaps to herald their departure, Samavayo have put together an artfully shot new video for the track “Cross the Line” from Dakota that is premiering today. You get to see the band playing as silhouettes and you get to see people with boxes on their heads — are they robots? — and other such fun whatnots, but of course the star is the song itself, which shows off where Samavayo are sound-wise and the penchant for working under a variety of influences that stands them out so much from their peers.

Please find it below, followed by their tour dates, and enjoy:

Samavayo, “Cross the Line” official video

Cross The Line is the first official video of the latest album Dakota from the German stoner rock band Samavayo. The song is currently also the first of their live set.
“The audience gets carried away by that song and its sound right at the beginning of our shows,” says singer and guitarist Behrang Alavi. “The song also has a message: We can’t cross the red line of humanity and decency, because there won’t be a way back from it. We need to find empathy and get rid of ruthlessness and greed.”

In cameraman and director Johannes Plank Samavayo found the perfect fit to visualize that message. He mobilized the antagonists of his upcoming movie “Eva Ost.” The “TV-Men,” whose heads are actual TVs, illustrate a society poisoned by consumption and ownership. In the video the tv screens show some cuttings that can be understood as political statements and therefore build up a new meta level. The message is: “Nobody can run from this change. Our brains are already poisoned.”

Credits:
Director / Camera / Editor / Production | Johannes Plank
Assistant Director | Florence Freitag
Gaffer | Yannick Spiess
Production Design | Mihan Torabi
Camera Assistant | Ranav Adhikari
Set Runner | Siddarth Thapa
Catering | Anne Berger
Drivers | Andreas Voland, Christian Schmalfuss
Musicians | Behrang Alavi, Stephan Voland, Andreas Voland
TV-Men (Berlin) | André Schröder, Ricardo Ziege, Richard Volkmer, Simon Höhne, Mustafa Bozbalak
TV-Men (Plauen) | Christian Dressel, Stephan Stumpf, Alexander Enskat, Rico Gemeinhardt

Many thanks to the venue “Zukunft am Ostkreuz.” MEKU Film © 2017

Samavayo “Cross the Line” tour:
Mar 16 Zentralcafé Nuremberg, GER *
Mar 17 Immerhin Wurzburg, GER *
Mar 18 Dirty+Dancing Osnabrück, GER *
Mar 24 Zukunft am Ostkreuz, Berlin, GER **
Mar 25 Spring Rocks! 2017, Wolfenbüttel, GER
Apr 03 AKK Karlsruhe, GER ***
Apr 04 L’Elastic Bar, Strasbourg, FR
Apr 05 Dr. Feelgood, Paris, FR ****
Apr 06 Café Faust, Stuttgart, GER ****
Apr 07 Gaswerk, Winterthur, CH ****
Apr 08 The Bruch Brothers, Luzern, CH ****
Apr 12 Alte Mälzerei, Regensburg, GER
Apr 14 Kramladen, Vienna, A ***
Apr 15 Kain Prague, CZ ***
Apr 16 Bajkazyl, Brno, CZ ***
Apr 28 Little Devil, Tilburg, NL
Apr 29 Desertfest 2017 London, UK
Apr 30 Hopla, Cologne, GER
May 11 Sabotage Dresden, GER
May 12 Hell over Esslingen, Esslingen Am Neckar, GER
Jul 13 Stoned from the Underground, Erfurt, GER
Jul 14 Steinbruchfestival 2017, Mühlheim, GER
* with Operators
** with Mother Engine
*** with Shotgun Valium
**** with Hellroom Projectors

Samavayo tour event page

Samavayo on Thee Facebooks

Samavayo on Bandcamp

Samavayo at Setalight Records

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Operators Announce New Album Revelers Due in May

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 10th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

operators

They’ve shifted from a six-piece to a five-piece since putting out their second album, Contact High (review here), late in 2013, but as this Spring finds organ-laced Berlin heavy rockers Operators making a return with their third outing, Revelers, that’s not the only change at hand. Not that I’ve heard it yet or anything, but the new record — the six tracks of which arrive half a decade after the band’s self-titled debut (review here) — feels immediately more textured in its intentions than anything they’ve done before.

Still plenty of riotousness happening, as “Pusher” demonstrates in the stream at the bottom of this post, and I don’t think you put a song called “Fuzz Muncher” on your record if you’re going full-prog, but there’s a sense of their approach maturing in “Leveled Reveler,” “Messina” and especially 10-minute closer “Rolling Hitch” that works to expand the dynamic of tempo changes throughout and the vibe of the songs overall.

René Hofmann from Wight recorded and contributes guitar and vocals on that last track, and the band has sent over copious other info on the forthcoming LP, for which they’re crowdfunding a pressing as we speak. Check it out:

operators revelers

Operators – Revelers

We are the heavy rock band OPERATORS from Berlin, Germany – loud guitars, organ, sweat ‘n pure joy! We run this band completely independently since 2009, have recorded two albums entirely on our own and played 140 gigs. Yes, we’re in it for the music! Now we want to publish our new album ‘Revelers’ for and with you – it is already recorded! (photo: Fabian Willi Simon)

We want to release our new album Revelers together with you, without taking any detours!

We’ve consciously decided for crowdfunding and not for a record label. It is important for us to have 100% control over the publishing of our record, just as we have over songwriting and recording. Also, contracts with labels often run over 7 or 10 years – we want to be independent. We have already built a strong and steady connection to you and our crowd through our shows and this next step is only logical now.

This is not about donations, about doing some album at some time, this is about an album that is already finished and is about to be printed and pressed as we speak. This very album can be pre-ordered now for reasonable prices.

Revelers – that’s one hell of a 38 minute Rock’n’Rollercoaster! The album’s diverse six songs shimmer in different colours. The interplay of drums, bass, guitar, organ and vocals shines in the 3 rollicking minutes of “Pusher” and fully unfolds in the 10 captivating minutes of “Rolling Hitch”.

Facts about the record:
– Recorded, mixed and produced by René Hofmann (Wight)
– René Hofmann also contributed backing vocals and a guitar solo (on ‘Rolling Hitch’)
– recorded October 27-30 2016 at Lui Hill Studio, Darmstadt, Germany
– additional vocals recorded in November and December in Darmstadt and Berlin
– mastered by Tony Reed
– 6 songs and 38 minutes strong
– release in mid-May
– artwork by Johannes Walenta/Kopfüber (organ player for Stonehenge)

Tracklist ‘Revelers’:
01 Leveled Reveler (7:50)
02 Pusher (3:04)
03 Messina (7:15)
04 Walkin’ On Air (4:54)
05 Fuzz Muncher (4:43)
06 Rolling Hitch (10:04)

Operators’ upcoming gigs:
March 16 – Nürnberg, Zentralcafé w Samavayo & Zen Meister
March 17 – Würzburg, Immerhin w Samavayo
March 18 – Osnabrück, Dirty Dancing w Samavayo & Isoptera
May – Berlin record release (to be confirmed)
July 16 – RED SMOKE FEST, Pleszew, Poland (Operators are announced on March 10)

https://www.startnext.com/en/operatorsberlin
https://operators.bandcamp.com/
http://www.facebook.com/OPERATORSberlin

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