Big Scenic Nowhere Complete Work on Debut EP Dying on the Mountain

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 24th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

As noted back in February, the new group Big Scenic Nowhere brings together guitarists Bob Balch of Fu Manchu and Gary Arce from Yawning Man. The band inherits its name from a past Arce project but ultimately doesn’t have much more to do with it than that. Fine. Over the last two months, more and more has been trickling out as progress on their first recordings has been made. Nick Oliveri was announced as playing bass, Bill Stinson was announced as drumming. Awesome.

Then came the guests. Thomas Jäger from Monolord. Tony Reed from Mos Generator. Lisa Alley and Ian Graham from The Well. Oh, and then fucking Per Wiberg is on keys? Come on. And Mario Lalli takes over on bass for the second of the two tracks? Seriously?

The finished result is called Dying on the Mountain and it will be released through Blues Funeral RecordingsPostWax subscription series, for which I’ll be writing the liner notes. Needless to say, there’s plenty to talk about. Most of it rounds out to “holy crap this is awesome.”

Balch announced the EP was done thusly:

big scenic nowhere

The first BIG SCENIC NOWHERE E.P. is all done! Should be out mid summer. Working on the full length now which should be out in the fall. More guest musicians too! From the BIG SCENIC NOWHERE instagram…

Our first EP is done! “Dying On The Mountain” features two songs. A 19 min space rock jam named “Dying On The Mountain (including “Altered Ages”)” featuring Gary Arce on guitar, Bob Balch on guitar, Nick Oliveri on bass and Bill Stinson on drums. Ian and Lisa from THE WELL sing the intro and outro, Tony Reed from MOS GENERATOR has a five minute track within the jam named “Altered Ages” and Per Wiberg from OPETH, SPIRITUAL BEGGARS, CANDLEMASS is on keys.

The second song, “Towards The Sun” is super heavy and hooky and features Gary Arce on guitar, Bob Balch on guitar, Mario Lalli on bass and Bill Stinson on drums. Tony Reed and Thomas Jäger from MONOLORD both sing on that track. Thanks to everyone involved on this EP! Should be out mid summer. Now on to the full length which will be released in the fall. More guest musicians on that one too!

https://www.instagram.com/bigscenicnowhere/
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Big Scenic Nowhere: Gary Arce & Bob Balch Unite in New Project

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 13th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

It’s a science-fact that any relationship based on a mutual enjoyment of tacos is bound to last, and so it is that Yawning Man‘s Gary Arce and Fu Manchu‘s Bob Balch enter into partnership as a double-guitar version of Big Scenic Nowhere, a one-time Arce offshoot from Yawning Man that featured that band’s bassist Mario Lalli as well as Lalli‘s Fatso Jetson bandmate, drummer Tony Tornay. There was a demo (discussed here) that floated around the interwebs and pieces of which can still be heard on YouTube and elsewhere, but that version of Big Scenic Nowhere eventually morphed into WaterWays and that would seem to have been that for the band.

No word on whether Lalli and Tornay are involved in the new incarnation of Big Scenic Nowhere with Balch and Arce, but the project will debut as part of the PostWax subscription vinyl series — for which I write the liner notes; full disclosure — and then follow-up with a standalone LP, so it looks like we’ll find out soon enough.

The PR wire has info:

big scenic nowhere

Bob Balch (Fu Manchu) and Gary Arce (Yawning Man) to debut heavy riff-psych project BIG SCENIC NOWHERE as part of the anticipated POSTWAX subscription series.

Duo gears up for two Big Scenic Nowhere releases, starting with an exclusive PostWax release in June, then a full album later in 2019.

Blues Funeral Recordings has confirmed that BIG SCENIC NOWHERE is the last band to land a spot on the inaugural year of PostWax, its ambitious series of exclusive stoner/doom/heavy psych records that launched with a massively successful Kickstarter last November.

The brainchild of Fu Manchu guitarist Bob Balch and Yawning Man guitarist Gary Arce, BIG SCENIC NOWHERE is a project built around massive riff-power and singular guitar atmospherics, like a soundtrack to vast canyons and endless highways that explodes with stratospheric fuzz and ambient delay.

Together, the two guitar gods are creating a heavy transmutation that’s certain to deliver for fans of both of their primary bands, and certainly to those who signed up for PostWax early on without knowing what was to come until now.

Talking about how Big Scenic Nowhere came together, Balch says:

“Gary posted a pic of Del Taco on his Facebook page, saying “it’s good to be back home” after a two month Yawning Man tour. I commented with my usual order, regular red with sour cream. I think that triggered something, because be called me minutes later saying he wanted to start a heavy rock band and wanted me involved. We jammed a few days later and it was gnarly. So many ideas. We started taking about other musicians and the list grew. I don’t want to jinx it, but this record will blow people’s minds. The riffs are super creative and the musicians involved are at the top of the genre.”

Adding to that enthusiasm, Arce says:

“Bob and I just had a mutual respect for each other’s playing. We spoke a few times about jamming together and it finally happened, two completely different approaches to the guitar but a common ground was found… a musical sweet spot of heaviness and ambient, experimental power riffs!”

The pair promise several more incredible additions to the project that it’s too early to mention, but whatever they turn out to be, PostWax subscribers will be the first to hear it when Big Scenic Nowhere is unveiled as part of the series this summer.

PostWax year one will include exclusive new releases from psych-metal boundary-breakers ELDER, Brooklyn metalgaze trio SPOTLIGHTS, apocalyptic doomsters DOMKRAFT with a guest appearance from MARK LANEGAN, and desert rock progenitors LOWRIDER, among others, with 7 records total set to land during 2019.

More info on PostWax can be found via the label at bluesfuneral.com, with additional details on the project and Big Scenic Nowhere coming soon.

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Big Scenic Nowhere, “Demo 1”

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Buried Treasure: Big Scenic Nowhere, Big Scenic Nowhere

Posted in Buried Treasure on January 22nd, 2015 by JJ Koczan

big-scenic-nowhere-cd-and-liner

The history behind Big Scenic Nowhere is nearly as complex as the desert ecosystem that gave birth to the project in the first place, and before I get into it, I want to send a personal thanks to Nick Hannon, bassist of the UK’s Sons of Alpha Centauri, who was kind enough to send me their demo. Hannon, who of course also plays in the just-reviewed Yawning Sons alongside Yawning Man‘s Gary Arce, and has appeared on split releases between Arce‘s WaterWays, Sons of Alpha Centauri and Australia’s Hotel Wrecking City Traders (who also had a collaboration with Arce out), as well as Yawning Sons and WaterWays, in different big-scenic-nowhere-cd-sleevepermutations of players working together and collaborating. Arce, whose guitar tone is one of the founding tenets of desert rock, is generally at the center, and that proves to be the case in Big Scenic Nowhere as well.

It seems unfair to call Big Scenic Nowhere a short-lived project considering that it involves Arce and bassist Mario Lalli, who’ve played together for over 25 years in Yawning Man, as well as drummer Tony Tornay, who doubles in Lalli‘s “other band,” Fatso Jetson, and could be heard last year propelling the formidable Napalm Records debut from Brant Bjork and the Low Desert Punk BandBlack Power Flower (review here). But while these three know and have worked together for a long time one way or another, as Big Scenic Nowhere, their tenure was brief. The band was born out WaterWays, which featured vocalist Abby Travis in addition to ArceLalli and Tornay, when the recordings for their debut album got tied up in legal issues. Big Scenic Nowhere went back into the studio, re-recorded the tracks instrumentally, and set about releasing tbig scenic nowhere liner 1hem on their own, posting them on YouTube, etc.

That was circa 2008/2009. In 2010, most of the WaterWays songs would surface on the aforementioned splits with Yawning Sons and with Sons of Alpha Centauri and Hotel Wrecking City Traders, so that material is out there. It exists. In the wake of that, Big Scenic Nowhere were just about done. Yawning Man, with Arce and Lalli, put out Nomadic Pursuits (review here) and Fatso Jetson, with Lalli (on guitar/vocals) and Tornay, put out Archaic Volumes (review here). That’s half a decade ago now, and the Big Scenic Nowhere CD was included as a bonus for anyone who purchased the splits. So far as I know, that and at shows were the only ways it ever officially came out, despite the fact that the original recordings of most of these songs, with Travis, have been released on those two split offerings.

Like I said, it’s a complex history.

But the end result is that Big Scenic Nowhere have wound up as this kind of hidden secret of Californian desert rock.big scenic nowhere liner 2 The CD — you might note the shadow of the famous “Welcome to Sky Valley” sign on the dry cracked earth on the disc itself– contains all the dynamic turns one might expect from a Lalli/Tornay rhythm section and the signature bliss of Arce‘s guitar, and in addition to the six prior-recorded songs that would be later released by WaterWays, there are also the original “Bows and Arrows,” a cover of “Somewhere over the Rainbow” and a live set from the Date Shed in Indio, CA, broken down into two separate jams and presented complete with a spoken introduction. All told, it’s a 57-minute collection that, particularly for fans of Yawning Man is probably worth being easier to track down than it is. Big Scenic Nowhere wound up in a strange position once the WaterWays stuff came out, but even instrumental, songs like “Waterways,” “Queen of the Passout Riders” and “Three Rivers” retain a memorable feel. Liner notes from Arce that explain the whole situation are included, so you can work your way through to how the tracks got to be what they are. Even out of context, however, they leave an impression, whether you heard the WaterWays splits or not.

Big Scenic Nowhere, “Memorial Patterns”

Big Scenic Nowhere on Thee Facebooks

Gary Arce’s Soundcloud page

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