Setalight Festival 2016 Announces Lineup for Oct. 21-22 in Berlin

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 18th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

setalight festival 2016 header

The fall festival season kicks off in Europe before fall even starts. It’s like car companies rolling out next year’s models before we’re halfway through this year (though we are that now as well; you get my point). It seems like between August and November there isn’t a week when one if not multiple nations is playing host to a swath of quality bands, and Setalight Festival 2016 throws itself into the heart of the fray on Oct. 21 and 22, hosting an already-packed two-day lineup at the these-are-German-words Zukunft am Ostkreuz venue in Berlin.

I’m not sure if this is the complete lineup or not. It could be, easily. As of now, jam-prone Dutch trio The Machine, and Germany’s own Mother Engine — veterans of Freak Valley and Desertfest Berlin, no doubt among others — will also take part, as well as East-meets-West groovers Samavayo (based in Berlin), French mostly-instrumentalists Glowsun, uptempo rockers Phiasco and a host of others, some familiar — looking at you, Motorowl — and some less so. A couple names to investigate below, since if Setalight Records — which of course is putting on the festival — knows anything it’s how to pick bands.

The particulars came down the PR wire:

setalight festival 2016 poster

The Berlin based music label SETALIGHT presents the 4th time bands out of Stonerrock, Heavy & Hard Rock, Doom, Noise and Psychedelic Rock. Beside known bands of the scene, we will also present new or unknown bands.

For the lineup, we picked some great bands out of the dust, such as:

THE MACHINE
MOTHER ENGINE
SAMAVAYO
NEUME
OUZO BAZOOKA
PHIASCO
GLOWSUN
THIEVES BY THE CODE
BALG
MOTHERBRAIN
SWEDENBORG RAUM
KALAMAHARA
MOTOROWL
and many more.

When / where:

The SETALIGHT FESTIVAL will take place from 21st to 22nd of October 2016 in Berlin, (Club: Zukunft am Ostkreuz). The pre-sale just started. Get more information at the links:

www.setalight-festival.com
https://www.facebook.com/events/1671298366486172/

The Machine, “Coda Sun” official video

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Kadavar Post “Lord of the Sky” Video as Part of Berlin Visual Album

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 24th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

kadavar (Photo by Joe Dilworth)

It’s been a little more than a month since German heavy rock forerunners Kadavar posted the last installment of their series of videos for their 2015 third album, Berlin (review here). That clip was for “Filthy Illusion” (posted here) and was a distinct shift in vibe from the preceding “Pale Blue Eyes” (posted here), the band working on the stated intention of releasing a video for every song on the record within the next year. If they include the Nico cover “Reich der Träume” that closed the record, they’re on pace to finish by roughly next March — a year from when they started — so it could legitimately happen. I’ve never undertaken coordinating the logistics of making a music video, but it never struck me as something that would be particularly easy to do.

One has to imagine that when they’re done, Kadavar and director Nathini van der Meer will somehow put together a physical version of the clips to sell, whether it’s part of a deluxe Berlin reissue that Nuclear Blast does (no confirmation on that, this is just speculation) or with a live album, live show or some other kind of DVD release. Nothing against YouTube, but it seems like for as much effort is clearly being put into making these videos — van der Meer again gives a different look with the latest, for “Lord of the Sky” — they deserve some kind of physical issue. Maybe that’s me being old. Actually, no maybe about it. That’s definitely me being old. Not sure that makes me wrong.

I’ve been doing my best to keep up with these as they’ve come out and will continue to do so for the duration, however long that might actually last. If nothing else, it highlights the point of just how front-to-back Berlin was, in that every song on it stood out and was worthy of attention and focus. A year-long reminder of that would seem to be fitting as far as giving the record its due, so long as it doesn’t hold the band back from writing the next one.

Enjoy “Lord of the Sky” below, followed by more info from the PR wire:

Kadavar, “Lord of the Sky” official video

Together with long-time friend and collaborator Nathini van der Meer (http://nathinivandermeer.com), who has created artwork and videos for them in the past, they are working on their first “Visual Album”- 12 short films accompanying each of the albums’ songs, to be released once a month throughout the entirety of the year.

Comments the band: “The song is about freedom, about watching your city and your life from a certain distance – from the bird’s-eye view. Just like we see our city from that perspective when we’re on tour. Problems and tasks just seem to vanish the more you recede from ground. At the same time you need to push your wings against the wind to gain altitude and not get off course. The hopes, memories and expectations with which you leave your city you will always keep.”

“The video is also about things that simply don’t change,” adds Nathini. That’s why we chose to use this old man who’s just doing his thing for like forever. He goes to work every day, does his job and probably doesn’t realize that his surroundings are changing and becoming crazier and crazier. He lives in the bird’s-eye perspective and keeps a certain distance to things.”

Kadavar on Thee Facebooks

Kadavar on Instagram

Nuclear Blast Records

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Surya Kris Peters, The Hermit: Intricate Experiments

Posted in Reviews on June 9th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

surya kris peters the hermit

To be withdrawn is the principal aspect of bring a hermit. One pictures a long white beard of someone living in a cave on a hillside, who has removed themselves completely from society and would rather be along. Introversion taken to its most extreme end. Hermits also traditionally have the assumption of some known wisdom. Think of Nietzsche’s Also Sprach Zarathustra. We believe the hermit knows something because, since they choose to eschew human contact, they must invariably spend all that time lost in deep thought. It’s an evocative title for Surya Kris Peters‘ first physically-pressed LP — that being The Hermit, on Electric Magic Records — and the cover of the album shows the figure from the tarot card of the same name, underscoring the notion of wisdom at work behind the pulling of one’s self out of the larger public sphere.

It’s easy to see or at least to read into why Surya Kris Peters — aka Christian Peters, also guitarist/vocalist/spearhead of the off-focus-but-not-entirely-defunct Samsara Blues Experiment — might pick the title. Surya Kris Peters has had a couple digital releases out over the last year, and Peters‘ prior solo-project, Soulitude, collected home recordings for the So Came Restless Night (review here) album in 2013, but still, one might understand The Hermit as a phase in a musical withdrawal into the self, Peters delving in its eight tracks/43 minutes deeply into the roots of his own influences, blending electronic and analog elements for rich, varied, almost-entirely instrumental soundscapes and mood pieces that, in some way, define who he is as an artist at this moment.

It can be a dark vision, as on the penultimate “Chandra Luna,” which starts out with a rare moment of whimsy before shifting into slow-rolling synth march, or on the contemplative grunge minimalist guitar work of the earlier, shorter “Winterbottom.” The lack of vocals across most of the board — something Peters also chose to keep out of 2015’s Status Flux digital-only long-player — adds as much to the evocative feel as it detracts. We aren’t told directly what the percussive start of opener “Eremitage” or its space-synth/sitar are expressing, so we put our own meaning behind it. In that way, The Hermit engages rather than repels, working against its title to bring the audience in, and that’s a thread that continues as the album progresses through “Ragamati”‘s East-meets-West krautrock blend, the melancholy drift of “Snow Feather” after “Winterbottom,” and so on.

surya kris peters

Peters seems to be worried less about tying these pieces together than making them complete individually, but The Hermit has a certain kind of flow all the same — one certainly assumes “Moonstruck Serenade” and “Chandra Luna” are related thematically, based on their titles and placement next to each other — and while some cuts are more built up, as is “Ragamati,” a song like “The Legend of Raja Shakuu” basically relies on synth with a background of effects wash for its nine-minute stretch, so the context is fluid depending on the song, and though he quite clearly knows what he’s doing, Peters keeps a sense of experimentalism underlying the material here, so that creative growth is a prevalent aspect of the album’s forward progression. Indeed, it might be the defining characteristic.

Some of the tradeoff there is that at times the experiments can feel more driven by the exploration than songwriting, leaving one to wonder as “Moonstruck Serenade” gives way to “Chandra Luna” what live drums might’ve brought to the proceedings alongside the percussion deep in the mix, or even another player to join in on the fun with the analog synth — how these pieces could continue to be built out. That’s not the mission of The Hermit, obviously, and it’s not as though this material hasn’t been worked over, I’d guess meticulously, in its layering and mix, just that by their very nature, they lead the listener into a creative sphere as well in terms of thinking of directions they could keep reaching further. “Chandra Luna” boasts the only vocals on the album, and they’re buried deep and echoing, chant-like, so not much of an anchor there, and closer “La Morriña” (“the nostalgia”) brings together suitably wistful guitar and underscores it with theremin-esque resonance, giving a sense of weirdness to what would seem to be otherwise unabashed emotionalism.

Maybe part of that undercutting is related to the process of making The Hermit so personal, a deflection of emotional seriousness with humor — one could write a thesis on the psychology of solo albums — but either way, it’s a last-minute moment of quirk to follow-up on the intro to “Chandra Luna” and show that Peters isn’t completely ingrained in the expression of darker sonic ideas. Being so self-contained, Surya Kris Peters as a project seems like the kind that could easily become prolific over the next several years — one might recall that Samsara Blues Experiment worked at a pretty good clip between records as well for a while there — but whatever happens going forward, as the first physical release, The Hermit represents Peters‘ creative breadth well and communicates far more to its audience than its antisocial title might indicate.

Surya Kris Peters, The Hermit (2016)

Electric Magic Records BigCartel store

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Earthship Premiere Lyric Video for “Valley of Thorns”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 4th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

earthship

To call Berlin’s Earthship (also stylized as Earth Ship) a sludge rock band is really only telling half the story. Maybe even less than half. I haven’t had the pleasure yet as regards their impending fourth full-length, Hollowed — out June 24 via Napalm Records — but to listen to “Valley of Thorns,” there’s sludge, yeah, but also metallic underpinnings that come through in the guitar periodically, a hint of Slayer here, some black metal, something more extreme in the middle, more progressive in the ending. Couple that with a shift into melodies brazenly born out of the self-titled-era Alice in Chains playbook, which is ground few dare to tread, and Earthship emerge four minutes later with a sound that seems less indebted to genre than built outward from it.

If sonic individuality isn’t enough to intrigue on principle, there’s also songwriting at work, and a sense of scope to “Valley of Thorns” as it moves between these elements, almost struggling against itself as it works out verses and choruses en route to a bleaker, chugging midsection. Growls back cleaner singing as they unleash the true hook in the nodding second half, and they finish with a torrent of a guitar solo before cutting “Valley of Thorns” short presumably to make way for what follows in the tracklisting (if you’re curious, it’s “Conjured”). How representative “Valley of Thorns” might be of Hollowed as a whole, again, I don’t know, but I wouldn’t be surprised to find Earthship changing up their approach, considering their past releases and the fact that a band so intentionally stylistically broad is rarely content to stand still.

You can find the premiere of a new lyric video for “Valley of Thorns” below, followed by some comment from the band on the track.

Please enjoy:

Earthship, “Valley of Thorns” lyric video

Earthship on “Valley of Thorns”

“VALLEY OF THORNS is one of our faster, a bit more progressive and cheerful tracks of the album but quite the opposite are the lyrics, mainly dealing with emptiness and despair. A sad and lonesome trip into oblivion but in a very colorful and metaphorical way. It shows you up somehow that we’re all running our private race against time before it’s all over and gone. Life is short, let’s get some shots!”

Earthship website

Earthship on Thee Facebooks

Napalm Records website

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Kadavar Continue Visual Album with “Filthy Illusion”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 2nd, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

kadavar filthy illusion video

It’s not strobes or anything, but if you’re sensitive to flashing lights or things like that, you might want to approach the new Kadavar video with some measure of caution. The clip for “Filthy Illusion” continues the German heavy rock forerunners’ intention toward representing each of the tracks from their 2015 third outing, Berlin (review here), with a video — they’re calling it a “visual album,” which is fair enough — and follows behind “Pale Blue Eyes,” which was posted in March. The three-piece also previously had videos for “The Old Man” (posted here) and “Last Living Dinosaur” (posted here), so they’re already well on their way toward a clip for all the songs on Berlin.

Kadavar just this weekend wrapped up a quick Australian tour that I believe was their second behind a run in 2013, and will spend much of the summer taking part in European festival season, with slots at HellfestGraspopCopenhell and many others slated. As to what the fall and beyond might hold, I don’t know. They worked pretty quickly between their first two records and there was only a two-year split between 2013’s Abra Kadavar (review here) and Berlin, so it’s entirely possible they’ll embark on putting together a new album for release sometime in 2017, but the response to Berlin has been considerable. They might just have more road-time to put in to make sure, you know, the entire planet is covered and whatnot.

Either way, the presumption is that the series of videos for Berlin‘s cuts will continue all the while, and between “Filthy Illusion” and “Pale Blue Eyes,” they’ve already established a pretty broad spectrum within which to work going forward. I guess we’ll see how the rest shakes out when we get there.

Enjoy “Filthy Illusion,” followed by more info from the PR wire, below:

Kadavar, “Filthy Illusion” official video

KADAVAR have released the second video for the Berlin visual album concept. Watch the video for “Filthy Illusion” on the Nuclear Blast YouTube channel!

Together with long-time friend and collaborator Nathini van der Meer (http://nathinivandermeer.com), who has created artwork and videos for them in the past, they are working on their first “Visual Album”- 12 short films accompanying each of the albums’ songs, to be released once a month throughout the entirety of the year.

Commented the band: “You lose ground under your feet. No crutch, no hope, only a plunge into the deep unknown. Life always challenges you and you either fail or you grow out of it. No matter what you do, to get on your feet again, in the end it’s just a ‘Filthy Illusion’ and just right around the next corner there’s a another black hole trying to suck you right in.”

For the second video for the visual album concept, Nathini did just that – more visuality than a story line. An optical illusion perfectly matching the song that aesthetically captivates the audience and puts them in a kind of ecstatic trance. A bit trippy, a bit poppy, a bit dirty, just as the song itself, the video was shot with old, analogue lenses. A studio set up that matches KADAVAR’s live performances because in those, in their sound and light show you can also easily lose yourself.

Kadavar on Thee Facebooks

Kadavar on Instagram

Nuclear Blast Records

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Nadja Announce North American Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 26th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

nadja

Now based in Berlin and hot on the heels of releasing their umpteenth studio outing, Sv, last month on Essence Music, dronegaze duo Nadja will return to North American shores in May and June for a handful of shows. The only one in the US will be at Brooklyn’s Saint Vitus Bar, obviously, and one imagines that playing other dates around Canada, where their roots are, will probably include stuff like seeing family, friends, bit of a homecoming and so on. If you can work in some live dates in that process, all the better.

Sv, which is comprised of the single, 41-minute track “Sievert,” is available now to stream in full and features companion artwork by Seldon Hunt. Info and show dates follow:

nadja saint vitus bar

Nadja North Am Tour Dates

Essence Music is proud to announce the release of Nadja’s new full-length album “Sv” or “Sievert” in full, which is a derived unit used to measure the ionizing radiation on the human body.

The much anticipated follow-up to the dreamgaze masterpiece “Queller”, was originally composed to be performed at a pair of music festivals in Berlin and is comprised of a long, single 42-minute track combining Nadja’s layered, textured noise ambiences with polyrhythmic drum patterns that, in structure, approach an industrial, almost danceable sound. Pounding, punishing machine-like hypnotic pulses, harsh cymbals and caustic textures grow together and collide in a massive metallic maelstrom of fierce doom-dirge heaviness. A surprising, yet rewarding departure from your typical Nadja dose of slow-blooming, nuanced ambient guitar constructions.

Featuring the stunning artwork of Seldon Hunt (Neurosis, Earth, Jesu, Isis, etc…) and mastered by James Plotkin (Khanate, OLD, etc…) “Sv” came out worldwide March 14th on limited-edition CD.

Nadja on tour:
26-05-16: Obey Convention, Halifax, NS
28-05-16: Le Ritz, Montreal, QC
29-05-16: St Vitus, New York, NY
03-06-16: The Garrison, Toronto, ON
05-06-16: The Handlebar, Toronto, ON (AB solo)

Aidan Baker – guitars, drum machine, piano
Leah Buckareff – bass

http://facebook.com/LuvNadja
http://www.nadjaluv.ca/
https://nadja.bandcamp.com/album/sv
www.essence-music.com

Nadja, SV (2016)

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Samavayo, Dakota: Crossing Lines (Plus Track Premiere)

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on April 25th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

samavayo dakota

[Click play above to stream Samavayo’s “Cross the Line” from Dakota. Album out May 6 via Setalight Records.]

Dakota is the fifth full-length from Berlin-based trio Samavayo, and it offers a distillation of hard and heavy rock, heavy psychedelia and Middle Eastern influences that results in a vibe not quite like anything else going. With seven songs and 45 minutes split up across two sides in an LP tradition, it offers a progressive complexity and clearheaded tonal push that even as it feels rooted in classic structures pushes beyond them with semi-metallic defiance. To look at the runtimes of the tracks, between five and seven minutes, roughly, there certainly would be space enough for variety in the material, but Samavayo bring together a diversity of influence beyond expectation and Dakota is that much richer as a a result.

Recorded at Big Snuff Studio by Richard Berhens (Heat, ex-Samsara Blues Experiment), it follows Samavayo‘s 2015 split with The Grand Astoria (review here), a 2014 split with One Possible Option, and their 2012 full-length, Soul Invictus, in presenting their forward-thinking crunch even as it marks the start of a new era for Samavayo, who work here as a trio for the first time on a long-player. That’s a significant change in dynamic, but in the end, Samavayo emerge from it with their identity intact, guitarist/vocalist Behrang Alavi leading the way on Persian-language opener “Arezooye Bahar,” a song with lyrics purportedly about freedom and arriving, of course, in the midst of Europe dealing with a migrant crisis.

That the decidedly Middle Eastern “Arezooye Bahar” should start off an album with the title Dakota — very American; taking its name from the native tribe, the word meaning “friend” or “ally” — from a band operating in the heart of Europe should give some sense of the melting pot scope of influence under which Alavi, bassist/vocalist/Moog-ist Andreas Voland and drummer/percussionist/vocalist Stephan Voland are operating. The tracks likewise are a cross-continental span of mood and resonance, “Arezooye Bahar” setting up the live-recorded feel that will ultimately tie seemingly disparate spirits together as the second-half apex of the opener gives way to the subsequent “Intergalactic,” the shortest track at 5:13 and among the most straightforward in its riff-led heaviness, all the more apparently so because it’s instrumental for its entirety, playing out like a more expansive Karma to Burn while serving to push the listener deeper into Dakota‘s broader context, full of thrust as much as emotional or social comment.

samavayo

“Kodokushi,” which follows, is the only other cut under the six-minute mark, and touches on some of the psychedelia that will show itself later, but keeps itself on a plotted course, taking in some of the Persian influence musically — think a less manic version of some of what Blaak Heat are getting up to these days, with more crunch — despite its English lyrics and offering one of Dakota‘s finest stretches of thrust as it moves toward its ending, Stephan getting the last word on toms as a transition into side A finale “Overrun” (premiered here), which also serves as the centerpiece of the album as a whole, rightly so for its added depth of melody, locked-in groove and the sense of command which Samavayo as a whole bring to it, shifting into a memorable and melodic chorus fluidly in the midsection before Alavi‘s wah-soaked lead and another run through the hook finish out.

There is not one song on side B that isn’t longer than everything on side A, but the three tracks on the back end of Dakota — “Dakota,” “Cross the Line” and “Iktsuarpok” — aren’t necessarily branching out beyond the point of recognition from what the likes of “Kodokushi” had to offer, even if they deepen the stylistic impact overall, the title-track adding percussion to the mix as it makes its way toward a sprinting riff-rock hook before opening to a chorus slowdown that makes an effective landmark and, as it’s repeated again at the end of the track, a suitable apex ahead of the drums-into-chug that starts “Cross the Line.” More of a swinging rhythm, but a lot of the underlying theme is the same, and when the full-toned hook kicks in, “Cross the Line” resonates with one of Dakota‘s most memorable impressions, shifting back through the verse and chorus again before spacing out a bit in the bridge and skillfully returning to the chorus to finish out, perhaps the best example here of Samavayo repurposing a classic structure to suit their own progressive purposes.

That sets up an admirable balance of intricacy and accessibility as the band makes their way into the airier opening of closer “Iktsuarpok” — from the Inuit; meaning a feeling of anticipation someone has that keeps them looking outside to see if someone is coming — which tips the balance again toward semi-psychedelia despite the earthy underpinnings of the bass and drums. I don’t know if it’s an added layer of guitar or what, but “Iktsuarpok” offers an even fuller sound than much of Dakota, and even as it chugs its way into a quiet (and momentary) break, it skillfully holds the tension that the prog metal grand finale will pay off, the last words, “You don’t know,” ringing out over a last crash of guitar, bass and drums. It’s as fitting a close as one could think of to an album so clearly intent on conveying a particular experience — of the melding of cultures, of emigrating, of seeking refuge — but perhaps most noteworthy of all, it is a fitting summary of all the things that make Samavayo who they are sonically, and it’s the clear expression of that which allows Dakota to work so engagingly as it does.

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Samavayo on Bandcamp

Samavayo at Setalight Records

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Earthship Release Hollowed June 24

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 11th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

earthship

After issuing their third album, Withered, on Pelagic Records in 2014, Berlin-based four-piece Earthship have signed to Napalm Records and will make their debut on the label with Hollowed on June 24. Their winding riffery touches on progressive territory in such a way that to call them “sludge” doesn’t really do the full scope of their mission justice, but there is for sure a dirt-under-the-fingernails sensibility to their songs, however melodically conscious they may ultimately be.

Interesting that the title Hollowed follows Withered in being a past participle. Not to mention the central idea of decay between them. I wonder if the two records are related thematically somehow. Only one way to find out:

earthship hollowed

EARTHSHIP – Announce Title, Track Listing, Artwork & Release Date Of Upcoming Album!

Behold the power of the riff in all shapes and sizes: It would be a serious understatement, even borderline ignorance to simply lump EARTHSHIP in with the rest of the sludge rock genre – a horribly abused and undefined tag.

Berlin based EARTHSHIP was born in 2010 and present an intriguing mix of heavy metal, fuzzy Stoner Rock & some of the finest sludge to date. The band has already released 3 full-length albums & toured all across Europe and the UK. Now it’s time to take the next step together with their new home at Napalm Records! This four-piece has announced the details of their upcoming album entitled Hollowed including the Album artwork, track listing & release date!

Hollowed track listing:
1 Reduced to Ashes
2 Hollowed
3 Valley of Thorns
4 Conjured
5 Monolith
6 In Fire’s Light
7 In the Arms of Medusa
8 Castle of Sorrow
9 Safeguard of Death
10 Red Leaves
11 The Edge of Time
12 Blood Candy (Bonus Track)
13 The Edge of Time – Acoustic (Bonus Track)

On Hollowed, these Berlins once more gracefully tackle the soft yet stronger dynamic of bands like Kylesa and Black Tusk, celebrating and crowning the whole thing with morbid melodies Alice In Chains would be proud of. Saturated with monolithic doom and hauntingly good! Hollowed is set to be released on June 24th via Napalm Records. Pre-Orders will be available shortly!

Hollowed available as:

LTD 4 Page Digipack CD (+2 Bonus Tracks)
1 LP Gatefold Edition
Upcoming tour dates will be announced soon! Stay tuned!

www.wearetheearthship.com
www.facebook.com/wearetheearthship
napalmrecords.com

Earthship, Withered (2014)

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