Posted in Whathaveyou on February 7th, 2017 by JJ Koczan
Have I mentioned yet how much I’ve enjoyed watching the 2017 resurgence of German heavy psych rockers Samsara Blues Experiment take shape? I’d hope at least the sheer amount of posting I’ve done about it thus far would give some indication, but if not, it’s been one of my favorite aspects of this year so far, and no, I haven’t actually heard anything of their impending fourth album yet. A May release date has been confirmed — in all-caps, no less — by the Berlin trio, and they’ve just announced another round of European touring, this time alongside Kaleidobolt, to go with their previously-noted dates in South America and Germany, as well as slots at fests far and wide.
They give some indication below there might be more still to come, which is fair since as you’ll note a lot of this takes place before the record actually hits, but almost entirely write off the possibility of a return trip to the US. Sad and understandable both. I’ve wanted to talk to band-frontman Chris Peters about their experiences here for the last couple years and I’m hoping an interview for the upcoming LP provides that opportunity. We’ve got some time yet before the release, but needless to say I’ve already been bugging him about it. “Send me your record,” and so forth.
Here’s the latest from the band. The sShows with Kaleidobolt are presented by Sound of Liberation:
Friends of the blues,
This year we will do some touring which at some point will coincide with the release of our – new, fourth album – in MAY.
02.03. – 12.03. Chile, Uruguay, Argentina, Brasil dates! You know, you know, you know… 03/02 – Santiago, CL @ La Capilla 03/03 – Buenos Aires, AR @ The Roxy Live 03/04 – Montevideo, UR @ Bluzz Live 03/05 – Córdoba, AR @ Refugio Guernica 03/08 – Porto Alegre, BR @ RIFF.E Bar 03/09 – Florianópolis, BR @ Célula Showcase 03/10 – Belo Horizonte, BR @ Stonehenge Rock Bar 03/11 – São Paulo, BR @ Inferno Club 03/12 – Rio de Janeiro, BR @ Hocus Pocus Fest
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
— ACHTUNG uebelst HOT — 12.05. Berlin, Zukunft am Ostkreuz (Stummfilm-Special) 13.05. Berlin, Zukunft am Ostkreuz (Albumrelease Parteeey)
— MORE and more and more — 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
Athens (GR) is confirmed, yet to be announced!
11.08. Finkenbach, Finki Festival
…there may be more.
Still no US-dates tho. We are very sorry. Honestly. If at some point somebody who will be decent and honest enough offer his or her touring help ~ without just thinking of how many money he or she can make with us ~ I may be happy to share ideas and work it out, but for now our so far experience says: foggetaboutit.
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 1st, 2017 by JJ Koczan
A couple weeks ago when Desertfest Berlin 2017 announced Saint Vitus as its final headliner, the festival noted that it was in the process of partnering with other promoters on smaller shows to surround the fest proper and, ultimately, enrich it. I’m assuming that this teaming up with Italian imprint Heavy Psych Sounds to bring Farflung, Giöbia, Duel and Glitter Wizard to the bill is the first realization of that idea. Hard for them to pick a better first pairing, frankly. I’ve gone on at length about the depth of work Heavy Psych Sounds has done over the last however many years, so I’ll spare you that, but suffice it to say they’ve more than earned this showcase, and if anything, they could no doubt add to it easily.
Still, a cool addition for Desertfest Berlin 2017. From the PR wire:
We are thrilled to announce four more bands today, all invited by the Italian label Heavy Psych Sounds Records! Heavy Psych Sounds specializes in Heavy Psych, Stoner, Retro Rock, Vintage Rock, Proto Punk, Sludge, Acid Rock, Doom, Space Rock, 70 Rock, Garage Psych and Fuzz Blues. They released more than 50 albums with great bands such as Nick Oliveri, Karma To Burn, Black Rainbows, Farflung, Fatso Jetson, Mos Generator, The Freeks, Glitter Wizard, Wedge, Sgt Sunshine and many more!
FARFLUNG (USA) Internationally recognized as torchbearers in the contemporary space rock scene, Los Angeles-based cult band Farflung is ready to bring the universe sound at DesertFest Berlin! Imagine, as if the bastard child of Amon Duul ii and Hawkwind arose from the ashes of America… stark and glimmering… bathed in the energetic glow of the Stooges… one last cup raised to the lunatics and wishing for wounds… They have set their course for the farthest reaches of the universe…
GIÖBIA (IT) Giöbia has been one of the most influential psychedelic bands in Italy over the last years. Seduced by the lysergic side of the ‘60s, by exotic mantras and the evocative power of space-rock, Giöbia is a band with many facets and one only faith, that is to turn every encounter with sound into a psychedelic experience.
DUEL (USA) Duel is heavy psychedelic stoner doom metal from Austin, Texas, hugely influenced by the darker sounds of early 70’s Proto-metal. The band features two ex Scorpion Child (Nuclear Blast) members. Their sound is menacing and brutally old school. Total purists, their tunes cut right to the bone with heavy, deep groove and blistering tone. Tough and Loud! Hard rock as it should be!
GLITTER WIZARD (USA) This band of California rifflords pillage the best of vintage hard rock while keeping their laser eyes on the future, creating a unique brand of oddball psychedelia. Their onstage performance is a glammed-up force to be reckoned with and they’ve been taking their act on the road from the West Coast all the way to Europe.
Previously confirmed for this year’s DESERTFEST BERLIN: SLEEP, JOHN GARCIA & BAND (playing songs from Kyuss to Slo Burn), SAINT VITUS, BONGZILLA, SAMSARA BLUES EXPERIMENT, MARS RED SKY, LOWRIDER, 1000MODS, STONED JESUS, TOUNDRA, ECSTATIC VISION, SUMA, MAMMOTH MAMMOTH, THE COSMIC DEAD, PONTIAK, TUBER, SATAN’S SATYRS, WUCAN, VENOMOUS MAXIMUS, THE WELL, GOLD, RIFF FIST, ODD COUPLE, TSCHAIKA 21/16.
DESERTFEST BERLIN 2017 will feature more than 50 bands in total! Remember that you have until Wednesday, February 1st to buy your tickets for 85€ (visit our Website, or use the links below in this release). After that, the weekend pass will be 95 €.
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 18th, 2017 by JJ Koczan
Let’s just assume that Berlin three-piece Cosmic Fall shook hands upon first getting together in June 2016 and immediately hit record to begin work on their debut full-length, First Fall, which surfaced in August. I’m not sure how else such a feat could’ve been accomplished and a drift as encompassing and molten as that of “Son of a Gun” executed by such a new band except as a result of off-the-bat productivity. To put anything together at that pace is impressive — and granted they’re jamming out; it ain’t exactly rock opera in terms of arrangements — let alone have it not fall completely flat upon its release. One might take being picked up by Clostridium Records as a definite sign that the plan, if there was one, worked out. Pretty much anything that makes you labelmates with Lamp of the Universe earmarks a win by my estimation.
The album is streaming in full now on Bandcamp and Clostridium has limited vinyl up for preorder now with patches and signed whatnots. Art, details and audio follow:
The band COSMIC FALL presents here their debut album “First Fall,” a mixture of classic Desert sound and original Psychedelic Stoner. Exciting and common are jam-like parts, which are attached to bands like COLOUR HAZE or EARTHLESS, with numerous guitar tunes, underpinned by their own charm. The trio, founded only in June 2016 in Berlin, already released their first work just two months later.
After the self-financed CD, the vinyl edition will now appear on Clostridium Records.
Cosmic Fall First Fall tracklist: 01 Sun of a Gun 02 Road to Ufa 03 I Must Obey 04 Jam I
COSMIC FALL “First Fall” Limited to 500 copies black poly-lined innersleeve hand-numbered 200 x black – 180gr 200 x coloured 180 gr 100 x splatter/ DIE HARD edition ( + patch & signed/autographed card ) ALL copies will have a A-2 „ poster pressed in Germany
Bio: Whatever fell from the cosmic sky, it landed in our home town Berlin. And is ready to take your mind on a beautiful journey. Bringing Earthless-level Heavy Psych into the local scene! Taking you into the endless universe, the lonely desert and the depth of the ocean as relaxing sounds and moody melodies will go along with you on this journey. Do you smell it? It’s time for another take off!
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 13th, 2017 by JJ Koczan
As doom legends Saint Vitus join Sleep and John Garcia in headlining, things seem to still just be heating up for Desertfest Berlin 2017. The reason I say so is the fest has just announced plans to expand beyond the Astra Kulturhaus for the first time in its five-year history. It will now incorporate multiple spaces in RAW, including two other clubs near to the Astra at which affiliated shows will be hosted put on by local promoters. Pretty awesome news, quite frankly, and it gives those fortunate enough to be in attendance even more options for how to spend their time as Desertfest gradually takes over the whole area for the weekend.
The fest made the announcement thusly:
Desertfest Berlin 2017 We go BIGGER and BETTER: additional Venues / SAINT VITUS to Headline
2017 – DESERTFEST will conquer all of RAW !
That means, for all of you who don’t know, the wonderful RAW-Area where our main venue ASTRA is located. It is a former GDR train maintenance station with lots of now newly populated old factory buildings, lots of space to play and street art to enjoy. It means you get to roam freely in and outside of the Astra and go out and explore, as we will expand the festival to three more additional venues! Of course the traditionalists can enjoy the full program, eat & drink and get wild without leaving the premises – our main stage, our foyer stage, bingo-bongo bar and the beloved beergarden.
We are super stoked to have the venues CASSIOPEIA, URBAN SPREE and BADEHAUS BERLIN with us on board – three amazing clubs in three minute walking distance from Astra that will host special parties and more concerts. The events there will be curated by underground labels and promoters which we will introduce to you with several postings in the weeks to come.
Desertfest Berlin 2017 will feature more than 50 bands in total !!!
Also be prepared to welcome very special known people who are trading their instruments with turntables and deliver you exclusive DJ Sets!
In order to make things more fun we are forced to raise the ticket prices a tiny bit. But have no fear – until February 1st, you can still buy Tickets for 85 € (visit our Website, or use the links below in this release). After that, the weekend pass will be 95 €. We hope you like the news of our expanding ideas and you are looking forward to celebrate the biggest and best DESERTFEST ever ;)
SAINT VITUS TO HEADLINE DESERTFEST BERLIN 2017
On top of that great news, we are thrilled to tell you that SAINT VITUS will be our third headliner for this 2017 edition, alongside SLEEP and JOHN GARCIA ! BONGZILLA, STONED JESUS, MAMMOTH MAMMOTH and ODD COUPLE are also added to this year’s line-up !
SAINT VITUS (USA) Los Angeles titans Saint Vitus are over 36 years-strong and still bleeding black… Coming from the same school as Trouble or Pentagram, they are praised as one of the original instigators of doom metal. Even through the turmoil of personnel changes and re-formations, Saint Vitus have always held a position of respect in the underground heavy rock scene, and we are proud to have them headlining Desertfest Berlin 2017!!
BONGZILLA (USA) Before virtually any of these new jacks started claiming “weed metal” or anything of the like, there was Wisconsin’s Bongzilla. Formed in 1995 and devoted to all things green, the band infuses its homegrown, psychedelic sludge sound with a distinctive Southern feel. After several releases and lineup transformations, the band went on hiatus in the late 00s. But since 2015, Bongzilla are back to deliver their stoned out, tuned down, Sabbath inspired stoned music to the world, and have proven that their live shows are not to be missed!
STONED JESUS (UKR) It’s been half a decade since Ukrainian heavy trio released their second album, “Seven Thunders Roar”, and it would be hard to imagine they had any idea the audience it would find back then. This year at Desertfest Berlin, to mark the fifth anniversary of “Seven Thunders Roar”, Stoned Jesus will perform a set featuring their most famous album in its entirety!! They are at work on new material as well, so keep an eye out for more updates!
MAMMOTH MAMMOTH (AUS) Melbourne’s Mammoth Mammoth just emerged from the studio with a new album locked, loaded and ready to fire! Again, the recording was not without the usual disturbances that plague this foursome. Yes the police came (and not to jam a few tunes). Yes, there was a chemical fire. And yes, a little voodoo was practiced. And okay, the bass player did barely survive a motorcycle crash just before the final tracking. But nothing short of Armageddon was gonna stop MM from getting the job done and to launch this new album at Desertfest Berlin!!
ODD COUPLE (GER) Odd Couple are a Berlin duo with guitars, drums and hands. Together they play a fast paced, sweaty rock ‘n’ roll, wwhere it dwho is playing which instrument, it’s all about setting a room on fire – with limited resources. Another new edition of the Black Keys formula? Not at all!
Previously confirmed for this year’s DESERTFEST BERLIN: SLEEP, JOHN GARCIA & BAND (playing songs from Kyuss to Slo Burn), SAMSARA BLUES EXPERIMENT, MARS RED SKY, LOWRIDER, 1000MODS, TOUNDRA, ECSTATIC VISION, SUMA, THE COSMIC DEAD, PONTIAK, TUBER, SATAN’S SATYRS, WUCAN, VENOMOUS MAXIMUS, THE WELL, GOLD, RIFF FIST, TSCHAIKA 21/16.
Posted in Reviews on January 5th, 2017 by JJ Koczan
As was the case with Surya Kris Peters‘ first physically-pressed album, 2016’s The Hermit (review here), the key to Holy Holy Holy seems to lie in evocation. This solo-project from Christian Peters of Berlin heavy psych rockers Samsara Blues Experiment began with the 2015 digital outing Status Flux and subsequent Moonstruck, and working with his own Electric Magic Records imprint (distributed through World in Sound), Peters embraces a broad creative freedom across the included six songs, the last of which, “Modular Mono Logic,” consumes the whole of side B at a grand and exploratory 21 minutes of layered modular synth, Moog, guitar, keys, programming, and so on. I’m not sure I’d call the album as a whole more experimental than its predecessor, since if anything, Peters seems more assured of this creative process than he did last time — that is, he has a better sense of how to make this kind of kosmiche progadelia work — but it remains far, far out even in side A’s guitar-driven “Schorfheide Blues,” which is about as close as Holy Holy Holy comes to rock-based composition.
It could well be this openness and creative range that lets the title have such a strong presence in the listening experience of Holy Holy Holy, in that just as The Hermit seemed contemplative and insular, this new collection flows together more as a single, outward-looking statement of worship, but whatever the case, it remains very much a solo affair on Peters‘ part. He handles all instrumentation himself as well as the recording process — his adopted moniker for the project, Surya, being a reference to the Hindu sun deity, further underscoring the idea of worship — as he brings together the two sides, each drawn from a separately-issued 2016 digital EP, into an encompassing 42-minute long-player.
It’s not long into “Leise Versprechen” (“quietly promise”), which begins side A’s series of five tracks — two more were on the original Schorfheide Blues EP, presumably dropped from Holy Holy Holy for vinyl time constraints — before Peters has built up from a low rumble to a near-orchestral wash of synth. He establishes a simple keyboard line early, however, and holds to it throughout the opener’s five minutes, so that even as the song more completely comes to life, its swell of volume carries that intimacy forward. In some ways, that’s the story of the record itself, and of Peters‘ progression as a solo artist, but as “Tanz der Wasserläufer” (“dance of water runners”) beams itself in like some deep space transmission of modular bleeps and bloops — or maybe those are intended to be drops of water? or birds? — the krautrock vibe becomes all the more prevalent, as does the hypnotic intertwining of layers.
Accordingly, the clarion fuzz of “Schorfheide Blues” — which if I’m not mistaken (and I might be, as always) is Peters‘ first guitar-led solo track since Surya Kris Peters emerged from his previous project, Soulitude, which released a lone full-length, So Came Restless Night (review here), in 2013 — is somewhat jarring, but the song’s quick 4:20 run does much to ground Holy Holy Holy before moving into the plucked synth strings and Mellotron-style sounds of “Soirée à Lunéville” (switching from a German title to French), which revives the blend of background wash and a relatively simple forward line, this time with the already noted string sounds in the forward position, almost making it a shame Peters titled another song as a “Tanz.” “Soirée à Lunéville” is also brief.
At 2:29, it’s the shortest piece on the LP, but neither its standalone impression nor its function in serving as a bridge between “Soirée à Lunéville” and “Nachtschattenspleen” (“night shadows”) are to be understated, the side A finale seeming to be an extension of the evening hours the prior track put forth, but broader and more spacious, a low drone beneath reminding that indeed, we’re in the dark. The falling waters of “Tanz der Wasserläufer” seem to make a return as well, and they’re the last sounds to go before the first half of Holy Holy Holy ends and a platter flip brings “Modular Mono Logic,” which was recorded in Spring 2016 and originally presented in three movements on the summer-released EP of the same name: ‘Gong Zong,’ ‘Rumba Elektronika’ and ‘All-Ein-Sein.’ Where one might feed into the next exactly I won’t hazard to say, but there are distinct changes in feel as “Modular Mono Logic” moves from its opening low-end undulations toward the final spread of droning swirl that consumes it, ending on a long fade of residual noise.
On the original EP, it also came with another track — “Talk to the Devil to Find God” — but on its own as part of this LP, “Modular Mono Logic” still qualifies as Peters‘ most ambitious offering under the banner of Surya Kris Peters, and with all the nighttime contemplations, spiritual searching and aural experimentation, “offering” feels very much appropriate as a descriptor for what’s happening on Holy Holy Holy. Whether that’s true because of the title’s power of suggestion or something else ultimately doesn’t matter, since at very least it demonstrates a consciousness and a purpose behind Peters‘ work in this form. One can only hope that will continue to develop as it has thus far and that his penchant for finding quiet spaces within his own soundscapes remains as resonant as it is here.
Posted in Whathaveyou on December 29th, 2016 by JJ Koczan
I’ve been doing my best to keep up with the impending 2017 resurgence of Berlin heavy psychedelic rockers Samsara Blues Experiment, who by next Spring should be back in full swing after a couple years of relative inactivity. First came word in October they would play Desertfest London 2017 (info here). Just days later, the trio confirmed they were preparing a fourth album for release to follow-up on 2013’s excellent Waiting for the Flood (review here). After that, it was Desertfest Berlin 2017 (info here), Barcelona’s Riff Ritual Fest (info here) — also in April — and a South American tour presented by Abraxas to take place in March (info here).
By the time they’re done with it, I think Samsara Blues Experiment will have already had a pretty busy Spring, but as they bridge the gap from one run to the next, they now present a home-country weekender of German shows that will fall after their return from South America and before the trips to Spain and London/Berlin for Riff Ritual and the two Desertfests (not that Berlin is much of a voyage for them, but you know what I mean). It’s just three dates, but it carries them from March into April and centers around a slot at the Under the Black Moon Festival in Munich on April 1, where they’ll join the likes of Mantar, High Fighter, Dune Pilot, 1000mods and others.
Still no solid release date for the album so far as I know, and at this point that’s the news I’m waiting for, but it continues to be a thrill to see Samsara Blues Experiment coming to life again in such a big way and I hope it’s a theme for the rest of 2017 as well. Dates follow for the German and South American shows:
Samsara Blues Experiment – Osnabrück / München / Leipzig
Samsara Blues Experiment live!
Exclusive Germany Short Tour to the start of the fourth album announced for spring 2017.
31. March Westwerk Osnabrück 01. April Under The Black Moon Festival München 02. April Werk 2 Leipzig w/1000mods
Coming soon, let´s have a party…
SAMSARA BLUES EXPERIMENT – SOUTH AMERICA TOUR – MARCH 2017 03/02 – Santiago, CL @ La Capilla 03/03 – Buenos Aires, AR @ The Roxy Live 03/04 – Montevideo, UR @ Bluzz Live 03/05 – Córdoba, AR @ Refugio Guernica 03/08 – Porto Alegre, BR @ RIFF.E Bar 03/09 – Florianópolis, BR @ Célula Showcase 03/10 – Belo Horizonte, BR @ Stonehenge Rock Bar 03/11 – São Paulo, BR @ Inferno Club 03/12 – Rio de Janeiro, BR @ Hocus Pocus Fest
Posted in Reviews on December 28th, 2016 by JJ Koczan
Today is the day the Quarterly Review passes the halfway point. This will be 21-30 of the total 60 for the six days, so there’s still a ways to go — you might say 50 percent — but it’s a milestone nonetheless. Once again it’s another roundup of cool stuff, kind of all over the place a little more than the last two days were, but as we go further along with these things, it’s good to mix it up after a while. There’s only so many times you can throw the word “lysergic” around and talk about jamming. That said, you’re getting some of that today as well from Portugal, so when it pops up, don’t be surprised. Much to do, so no need to delay.
Quarterly Review #21-30:
Bus, The Unknown Secretary
Athenian double-guitar four-piece Bus execute a stylistically cohesive, crisp debut with The Unknown Secretary (on Twin Earth Records), presenting classic heavy rock elements without going full-retro in their sound itself and marking songs like “Masteroid” as immediately distinct through the harmonized vocals of guitarist Bill City, joined in the band by guitarist Johnnie Chez, bassist Chob D’oh and drummer Aris. Together they run through a clean two sides that play back and forth between proto-metallic and doom shading – “Don’t Fear Your Demon” touches on slower Pentagram – while sounding perhaps most comfortable in rockers like “Withered Thorn” or the earlier stomper “New Black Volume,” which puts its two guitars to excellent use ahead of and between unabashedly poppy (not sure a full Ghost comparison is warranted) verse, and craft a highlight in the 7:38 arena-ready thrust of “Rockerbus” prior to the surprisingly nodding finale of “Jimi.” A strikingly efficient and clear-headed first full-length that would seem to hold much promise of things to come from yet another player in Greece’s emergent heavy scene.
With the start-stop riff of opener “As Fangs in Stone,” a mastering job by Mathias Schneeberger and the breadth of pop melodicism in cuts that one, the swinging “Made of Ghosts,” and the more percussive “Through the Sun,” Italian four-piece Them Bulls make a pretty strong beeline for early-Queens of the Stone Age-style heavy desert rock. Their self-titled Small Stone debut isn’t without individualized flourish, but the 10-track/41-minute offering makes it clear from the start what its intentions are and then sets about living up to them, whether on the careening Songs for the Deaf-ery of “Pot Gun” or the penultimate “We Must Live Up” itself. Vocal interplay from guitarists Daniele Pollio and Franscesco Pasi – joined by the rhythm section of bassist Paolo Baldini and drummer Giampaolo Farnedi – provides an opportunity for future growth, but it’s worth noting that for a band to take on such a specific stylization, their songwriting needs to be in check, and Them Bulls’ is.
What seems to be Stinkeye’s debut recording, Llantera Demos, arrives as a free download of four tracks and 16 minutes rife with thickened boogie and dense mecha-stoner fuzz, reminding of Dead Meadow immediately in the echoing vocals and rhythmic bounce of “Orange Man” but moving into some shuffle on the subsequent “Fink Ployd” and “Llantera,” the latter a well-earned showcase of bass tone. While out on the coast, ‘70s vibes reign supreme, the Phoenix, Arizona, trio are on a different tip, looser in their swing and apparently more prone to drift. For what it’s worth, they call it “hash rock,” and fair enough as “Pink Clam,” which closes Llantera Demos, rides more of a grunge-laden nod to an immersive but still relatively quick five-minute finish, building after three minutes in to a satisfying final instrumental push. Loaded with potential in tone, execution, vibe and dynamic between the three-piece, Llantera Demos immediately marks Stinkeye out as a band to watch and is just begging for the right person to come along and press it to tape.
Want to grab attention with your debut long-player? Calling a song “Louder than God” might be a good way to go. That track, at seven minutes, is the longest on Connecticut five-piece Buzzard Canyon’s Hellfire and Whiskey (on Salt of the Earth), and following a quiet initial stretch, it launches into Down-style Southern chug, the dual vocals of Amber Leigh and guitarist Aaron Lewis (the latter also of When the Deadbolt Breaks) veering into and out of more metallic impulses to build on the initial momentum established on the earlier “Highway Run” and “SomaBitch.” The two-minute “For the End” basks in some nightmarish vision of rockabilly, while “Red Beards Massacre” and “Wyoming” dig into more straightforward stylistic patterning, but if Buzzard Canyon want to get a little weird either here or going forward, that’s clearly not about to hurt them. Closer “Not My Cross” hints at some darker visions to come in how it moves into and out of a droning interlude, adding yet more intrigue to their deceptively multifaceted foundation.
Though “Atomic Rodeo” dips into some Queens of the Stone Age-style groove, Motherbrain’s third album, Voodoo Nasty (on Setalight Records), comes across as more defined by its nasty than its voodoo as the Berlin four-piece demonstrate a penchant for incorporating harsher sludge tendencies, especially in vocal shouts peppered in amid the otherwise not-unfriendly proceedings. That gives the nine-song/48-minute offering a meaner edge but does little ultimately to take away from the groove on offer in the opening title-track or “Ghoul of Kolkata,” and though it retains its raw spirit, Voodoo Nasty digs into some more complex fare later in longer cuts like “Baptism of Fire” and “Half Past Human,” having found a place in centerpiece “Dismantling God” where blown-out noise aggression and semi-psychedelic swirl can coexist, if not peacefully then at least for a while until Motherbrain decide it’s time to give Kyuss-style desert rock another kick in its ass, as on “Sons of Kong,” which, yes, does proclaim a lineage.
Sludge-rolling five-piece Elder Druid riff forth with their debut studio offering, the five-song/33-minute Magicka EP, which one might be tempted to tag as a demo were it not for a few prior live-tracked short releases that appear to have served that purpose, the latest of which, The Attic Sessions (discussed here), came out in Jan. 2016. The experience of putting that together as well as their prior singles clearly benefited the Northern Irish outfit on Magicka, and while they retain a shouty spirit on opener “Rogue Mystic,” middle cut “The Warlock” offers nod that reminds of The Kings of Frog Island’s “Welcome to the Void,” and that’s about all I ever need. Ever. Served up with bloated tones and geared toward establishing a blend of gruff vocals and consuming fuzz, Elder Druid’s first studio recording has a solid footing in what it wants to accomplish sound-wise and plainly showcases that, and while they have some growing to do and patience to learn in their songcraft, nothing I hear on Magicka argues against their getting there in time.
The Crazy Left Experience, Bill’s 108th Space Odyssey
The Crazy Left Experience – the moniker seeming to refer to the side of the brain at work in their processes – present Bill’s 108th Space Odyssey almost as an album within an album. The framework from the at-least-party-improvised Portuguese cosmic jammers on the seven-track/56-minute outing centers around William Millarc, who in 1955 was documented while taking part in LSD experiments. Samples of Millarc are peppered into opener “Subject Bill,” the later “Funky Meteor Drop” and the closing duo “Bill Sided Flashback” and “God of the Outer Rings,” but between the opener and the latter trio of cuts comes “Unarius,” a three-part excursion listed as “Part V” through “Part VII” that presumably is the representation of when our friend Bill has left his body behind. So be it. One can hardly call that departure incongruous either sonically or in terms of The Crazy Left Experience’s chosen theme – though there are some unrelated samples spliced into “Unarius – Part VII (Space Brothers)” that are somewhat jarring – and the entire flow of the record is so hypnotic that the band can basically go wherever they want, which of course they do.
Were it not for the context of knowing that vocalist Tim Narducci and bassist Cornbread hail from SpiralArms and White Witch Canyon, drummer Carter Kennedy from Orchid and guitarist Jeremy Von Eppic from Black Gates, the Sabbath Highway debut EP (on Ripple Music) from California’s The Watchers would be almost impossibly coherent for a first outing. Classic in form but modern in its presentation, the five-tracker – four plus the church-organ interlude “Requiem” between the opening title-cut (video here) and “Call the Priest” – makes the most of Narducci’s ‘70s-style vocal push, reminding of one-time Ripple troupe Stone Axe in his oldschool feel, but as “Today” (premiered here) makes plain, The Watchers are much more focused on learning from the past than repeating it. The straightforward songwriting and all-we’re-here-to-do-is-kick-ass sentiment behind Sabbath Highway might well prove formative compared to what The Watchers do next – presumably that’s a full-length, but one never knows; they sound ready to get down to business – but it makes its ambitions plain in its hooks and swiftly delivers on its promises.
I can’t speak to the present status of California’s Of the Horizon, since last I heard bassist Kayt Vigil was in Italy working with Sonic Wolves, but their self-titled five-track debut full-length arrives via Kozmik Artifactz no less switched on for the half-decade that has passed since it was recorded. Guitarist Mike Hanne howls out throaty incantations to suit the post-Sleep riffing of opener “3 Feet” and drummer Shig pushes the roll of “Caravan” forward into its final crashing slowdown effectively as Vigil ensures the subsequent centerpiece “Unknown” is duly thick beneath its spacious, jammy strum. The two longest slabs hit at the end in “Gladhander” (8:55) and the righteously lumbering “Hall of the Drunken King” (10:31) and feel somewhat like an album unto themselves, but when/if Of the Horizon make a return, they’ve established a working modus on this first full-length that should well satisfy the nod-converted and that demonstrates the timelessness of well-executed tonal onslaught.
Though it’s fair enough in terms of runtime, it almost seems like Milano sludge-rollers Raj (also written stylized in all-caps: RAJ) do the six tracks of their 20-minute self-titled debut EP a disservice by cramming them onto a single LP side. Not that one gets lost or the band fails to make an impression – far from it – but just that sounds so geared toward largesse and spaciousness beg for more room to flesh out. That, perhaps, is the interesting duality in Raj’s Raj, since even the massive plod of closer “Iron Matrix” lumbers through its course in a relatively short 4:45, never mind the speedier “Magic Wand” (2:47) or drone interlude “Black Mumbai” (1:51) – gone in a flash. The release moves through these, the earlier “Omegagame” and “Eurasia” and the penultimate “Kaluza” with marked fluidity and efficiency, giving Raj a mini-album feel, and with the atmosphere in “Black Mumbai” and in the surrounding material, their rumble sets up a dynamic that seems primed for further exploration.
Posted in Whathaveyou on December 22nd, 2016 by JJ Koczan
Once the reunited Slo Burn had been announced for London, I had been wondering how Desertfest Berlin 2017 might manage to work them into the lineup despite what had been revealed previously as a German-exclusive show at Freak Valley 2017 just weeks later. We have our answer in the latest update that frontman John Garcia and his solo band will do a set spanning material from the Kyuss and Slo Burn catalogs for the Berlin-based festival, thereby avoiding conflict with the Freak Valley slot and giving Desertfesters something special in their own right. I recall seeing Garcia Plays Kyuss at Roadburn in 2010 and they did Slo Burn‘s “Pilot the Dune.” Sat pretty well next to the Kyuss material if I do say so myself.
As Garcia will be performing with Slo Burn the same weekend in London, I’d be very interested to know the lineup for this incarnation of his solo band, whether it’s the same players working under a different name or if anyone is swapping out from one show to the next. Everything’s politics, folks. Make no mistake.
In addition to this bit of intrigue, 1000mods, Suma, Pontiak and Riff Fist have been added to Desertfest Berlin 2017, who sent over this pre-holiday update:
JOHN GARCIA & BAND (playing from SLO BURN to KYUSS) to HEADLINE Desertfest Berlin 2017
DESERTFEST BERLIN 2017 – APRIL 28-29-30
Christmas is approaching, and before you all go away for the Holidays, we wanted to give you 5 more names confirmed for Desertfest Berlin 2017, including our second headliner. So we are proud to have for this sixth edition of the festival:
JOHN GARCIA (USA) The original and legendary voice of the desert pays us a visit with a suitcase packed with everything from Kyuss to Slo Burn.
SUMA (SWE) Doomy, sludgy and so heavy that the Berlin buildings will tremble for weeks after Malmös finest has destroyed all Desertfesters ears.
1000mods (GR) The Greek tornado will hit us with their energetic and fuzz loaded rock, it’s gonna be a show that will be remembered.
PONTIAK (USA) We’ve been able to lure them away from Virginia to perform their trippy and psychedelic tunes, then they’ll take us on a trip for a lifetime.
RIFF FIST (AUS) It’s always a pleasure to welcome back who defends the riff and Riff Fist are the true defenders.
Also confirmed for our 2017 edition of DESERTFEST BERLIN: SLEEP, SAMSARA BLUES EXPERIMENT, MARS RED SKY, LOWRIDER, TOUNDRA, ECSTATIC VISION, THE COSMIC DEAD, TUBER, SATAN’S SATYRS, WUCAN, VENOMOUS MAXIMUS, THE WELL, GOLD, TSCHAIKA 21/16.
There are still many more acts to be unveiled, including our last headliner, so stay tuned! And do not miss your chance to be part of the amazing DESERTFEST BERLIN experience… Check out our Website to get your tickets, or the links below in this release! We were sold out last year in February, so better be quick! Let’s turn all together the DESERTFEST BERLIN 2017 into another milestone when it comes to Berlin and festivals!