Black Moon Circle to Release New Jams Collection Flowing into the Third Dimension

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

black moon circle

The Trondheim, Norway-based heavy psych jammers Black Moon Circle continue to evolve, and if you haven’t yet dug into that ongoing process, the two 20-minute-plus improvisations on The Studio Jams Vol. III — AKA Flowing into the Third Dimension — are as good a time to do so as either prior installment. Working once again as the four-piece of guitarist Vemund Engan, bassist Øyvin Engan, drummer Per Andreas Gulbrandsen, and synthesist Scott “Dr. Space” Heller (also of Øresund Space Collective), they set a course for 180 mark 0 and head about as far out as they’ve gone to-date, which bodes remarkably well for their impending full-length to come next year, on which they’ll also introduce organist/keyboardist Magnus. Intrigue abounds.

Note that Hans Magnus “Snah” Ryan of Motorpsycho sits in for The Studio Jams Vol. III as well. Because I guess if you’re going to happen to make your way into a new plane of reality — rest assured Black Moon Circle have spent time in multiple dimensions over the course of their offerings thus far — you should probably keep the best company possible as you go.

Info follows from the PR wire:

black-moon-circle-flowing-into-the-third-dimension

Black Moon Circle – The Studio Jams Vol III

MOON6CGR078 / LP

Black Moon Circle (BMC) is a psychedelic jam band from Trondheim, Norway. The band started off as a 3 piece (Vemund- Guitar, backing vocals; Øyvin- Bass, lead vocals; Per- Drums) in 2012 playing gigs in Trondheim, Oslo and Copenhagen.

In Copenhagen, they met Dr Space (Øresund Space Collective, Space Rock Productions) and a lasting collaboration started, and thrives and evolves to this day. The Plains EP was released on Space Rock Productions (2014) and included 2 songs from the bands set and one long in studio jam. The band did not sit idle for long and over the last 3 years the band has released 2 additional studio albums, a split 10”, split 7 and completed a trilogy of Studio Jam albums (Vols. 1-3). Most of these are released on the local, Crispin Glover Records label.

Vol 1 and 2 have been extremely well received and Vol 3 saw a further evolution in the band, with the addition of Snah, guitar player from Motorpsycho, who joined the band in the studio (he also played on the 10” record) for several jams.

2017 has seen the band expand into a five piece with the addition of Magnus on organ, mellotron, rhodes piano to further augment the bands sound. You will hear his contributions on the next studio album due in early 2018.

http://blackmooncircle.bandcamp.com
http://facebook.com/blackmooncircle
http://crispingloverrecords.com
https://www.stickman-records.com/

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Quarterly Review: Red Fang, Black Moon Circle, Druglord, Drone Hunter, Holy Serpent, Lugweight, Megaritual, Red Lama, Lacy, Valborg

Posted in Reviews on December 27th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk winter quarterly review

Feeling good going into day two of the Quarterly Review. The good news about how heavy music has become such a vast universe is that there’s always plenty to cover without having to really dig into stuff I don’t find interesting. Of course, the other side of that is feeling constantly behind the curve and overwhelmed by it all, but let’s not talk about that for the moment. Point is that as we make our way through this week and into the next — because, remember, it’s six days this time, not five — a big part of me still feels like I’m just scratching the surface of everything that’s out there. It still seems just to be a fraction of the whole story being told around the world in the riffiest of languages. We all do what we can, I guess. Let’s get started.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Red Fang, Only Ghosts

red-fang-only-ghosts

Four albums into one of the decade’s most successful and influential heavy rock careers, doesn’t it seem like Portland, Oregon’s Red Fang are due for a truly great record? Their 2013 outing, Whales and Leeches (discussed here), was rushed by the band’s own admission – their focus, as ever, on touring – and Only Ghosts (on Relapse) unites them with producer Ross Robinson and mixer Joe Barresi, two considerable names to bring heft and presence to the 10-track/42-minute outing. And I’ve no doubt that “Shadows” and the bigger-grooving “The Smell of the Sound” and opener “Flies” kick ass when delivered from the stage, and it’s true they sound more considered with the ambience of “Flames” positioned early, but Only Ghosts still comes across like a collection of songs united mostly by the timeframe in which they were written. Doesn’t mean they don’t build on Whales and Leeches, but now five years on from 2011’s Murder the Mountains (review here), and with their dynamic, charged and momentum-driven sound firmly established, Red Fang still seem to be at the threshold of some crucial forward step rather than stomping all over it as one might hope.

Red Fang on Thee Facebooks

Relapse Records website

 

Black Moon Circle, Sea of Clouds

black-moon-circle-sea-of-clouds

After releasing a self-titled debut (review here) and the follow-up Andromeda (review here) in 2014, 2016’s Sea of Clouds (on Crispin Glover/Stickman) is the third proper studio full-length from Norway’s Black Moon Circle – though at that point, define “proper.” In 2015, the trio/four-piece – Trondheim-based guitarist Vemund Engan, bassist Øyvin Engan and drummer Per Andreas Gulbrandsen, plus Scott “Dr. Space” Heller of Øresund Space Collective on synth – also released The Studio Jams Vol. I (discussed here) and in addition to the four tracks of Sea of Clouds, they’ve also had a Vol. II (review here) out this year. The definitions become fluid, is what I’m saying, and that couldn’t be more appropriate for the sound of “Lunar Rocket,” the outward-gazing space rock of “The Magnificent Dude,” “Moondog” and “Warp Speed,” which indeed offer enough kosmiche expanse to make one wonder where the song ends and the jam begins. Or, you know, reality. One has to wonder if Black Moon Circle might bridge the gap at some point between studio improv and more plotted songwriting, but as it stands, neither side of their dual personality fails to engage with its flow and drift.

Black Moon Circle on Thee Facebooks

Black Moon Circle at Stickman Records

Black Moon Circle at Crispin Glover Records

 

Druglord, Deepest Regrets

druglord-deepest-regrets

A one-sided 12” EP issued by STB Records in late 2015 as the follow-up to Richmond dirge-fuzzer trio Druglord’s debut album, Enter Venus (review here), the three-track Deepest Regrets represents the band’s final studio material with bassist Greta Brinkman (ex-L7) in the lineup, who’s since been replaced by Julian Cook. That distinction matters in no small part because so much of Druglord’s purposes on Deepest Regrets’ three component songs – “Regret to Dismember,” “Speedballs to Hell” and “Heaven Tonight” – is about reveling in low end. Rawer than was the album preceding, they find guitarist/vocalist/organist Tommy Hamilton, Brinkman and drummer Bobby Hufnell emitting an oozing lurch, blasting out thickened motor-riffing, and fortifying a darkly psychedelic drear – in that order. True to EP form, each song gives a sampling of some of what Druglord has to offer coming off the album, and with a recording job by Garrett Morris, who also helmed the LP, it remains a fair look at where they might head next, despite the shift in lineup.

Druglord on Thee Facebooks

STB Records webstore

 

Holy Serpent, Temples

holy serpent temples

Melbourne’s Holy Serpent return with Temples (on RidingEasy), their second full-length after 2015’s self-titled debut (review here), and continue to offer an engaging blend of well-blazed psychedelia and heavier-rolling groove. Especially considering they’ve still only been a band for two years, the four-piece of guitarists Nick Donoughue and Scott Penberthy (the latter also vocals), bassist Dave Barlett and Lance Leembrugen remain striking in their cohesion of purpose, and Temples opener “Purification by Fire” and ensuing cuts like the fuzz-wall centerpiece “Toward the Sands” and echo-laden “The Black Stone” only continue to stretch their intentions toward ever more acid-ic flow. They called it “shroom doom” last time out, and seem to have moved away from that self-branding, but however one wants to label Temples, its five tracks/43 minutes push ahead from where Holy Serpent were just a year ago and, rounding out with the slower churn of “Sativan Harvest,” still reminds that mind expansion and deeply weighted tonecraft are by no means mutually exclusive.

Holy Serpent on Thee Facebooks

Holy Serpent at RidingEasy Records

 

Drone Hunter, Welcome to the Hole

drone hunter welcome to the hole

Self-releasing Croatian instrumental trio Drone Hunter devise vigilantly straightforward riffing on their second album, Welcome to the Hole, finding room for some charm in titles like “Wine Dick,” “Crazy Ants with Shotguns” and the closing “A Burning Sensation,” the latter of which seems to draw particularly from the playbook of Karma to Burn. That comparison is almost inevitable for any riff-led/sans-vocal three-piece working in this form, but the crunch in “Fog Horn” and “Waltz of the Iron Countess” isn’t without its own personality either, and as with a host of acts from the Croatian underground, they seem to have a current of metal to their approach that, in the case of Welcome to the Hole, only makes the entire affair seem tighter and more precise while maintaining tonal presence. Fitz (guitar), Klen (bass) and Rus (drums) might not be much for words or last names, but their sophomore full-length comprises solid riffs and grooves and doesn’t seem to ask anything more than a nod from its audience. A price easily paid.

Drone Hunter on Thee Facebooks

Drone Hunter on Bandcamp

 

Lugweight, Yesterday

lugweight yesterday

Lugweight is comprised solely of Brooklyn-via-Richmond-Virginia transplant Eric Benson, and the project makes its full-length debut with the evocatively-titled drone wash of Yesterday following one EP and preceding another. Fair to call it an experimental release, since that’s kind of the nature of the aesthetic, but Benson demonstrates a pretty clear notion of the sort of noise he’s interested in making, and there’s plenty of it on Yesterday in “Sleeping on Cocaine,” on which one can hear the undulating wavelengths emanating from speaker cones, or the penultimate “Love Song for the Insane,” which features chanting vocals in echoes cutting through a tonal morass but still somehow obscure. A 33-minute five-tracker, Yesterday doesn’t overstay its welcome, but alternates between sonic horrors and warmer immersion in the shorter centerpiece “Bleed My Sorrow” and closer “Show Me Where the Shovel Is,” coming dangerously close in the latter to doom riffing that one might almost dare to put drums to. Solo drone guitar, even when this thick, is never for everyone, but one doubts Benson was shooting for accessibility anyhow.

Lugweight on Bandcamp

Forcefield Records website

 

Megaritual, Eclipse

megaritual eclipse

To hear Australia’s Megaritual tell it, the 25-minute single-song Eclipse EP was recorded on Mt. Jerusalem in New South Wales this past summer, the one-man outfit of vocalist/guitarist/sitarist/drummer Dale Paul Walker working with bassist/Monotronist Govinda Das to follow-up his prior two Mantra Music EPs, recently compiled onto an LP (review here) by White Dwarf Records. Whether or not that’s the case, “Eclipse” itself is suitably mountainous, building along a linear course from sea level to a grand peak with droning patience and gradual volume swells, lush and immersive psychedelia in slow-motion trails, a sparse verse, percussion, sitar, guitar, bass, and so on coming to a glorious vista around the 17:30 mark only to recede again circa six minutes later in a more precipitous dropoff. The digital edition (and that’s the only edition thus far) comes with a cover of Pink Floyd’s “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun,” which makes good company for the hypnotic titular exploration and the quick progression it represents after the other two short releases.

Megaritual on Bandcamp

White Dwarf Records website

 

Red Lama, Dreams are Free

red lama dreams are free

Heavy psychedelic pastoralists Red Lama enter the conversation of 2016’s best debut albums with Dreams are Free, initially released on All Good Clean Records and subsequently picked up by Stickman. Leaning more toward the liquid end of psych-blues, the Danish seven-piece immediately transcend with opener “Inca” (video here) and quickly showcase a subtlety for build that only gets more potent as they move through “Sonic Revolution” and “The World is Yours,” unfolding due heft in the latter without losing the laid back sensibility that the vocals bring sweetly, melodically, to the material. The later “Mekong River” seems almost like it’s going to shoegaze itself into post-rock oblivion, but Red Lama hold their sound together even into the 10-minute closer “Dalai Delay” – aptly-titled twice over – and deliver with striking patience a languid flow with hints of underlying prog experimentation. How that will come to fruition will have to remain to be seen/heard, but Dreams are Free also dips into funkier groove on “Dar Enteha,” so while they probably could be if they were feeling lazy, Red Lama don’t at all seem to be finished growing. All the better.

Red Lama on Thee Facebooks

Red Lama at Stickman Records

 

Lacy, Andromeda

lacy andromeda

Lacy is an experimental solo-project from former Lord guitarist Stephen Sullivan, based in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and part of a deep sludge underground that goes back well over a decade. Andromeda is his third album with the outfit and the second to be released in 2016, though unlike the preceding Volume 2. Blue, its 12 tracks were recorded in a matter of months, not years. All instruments, arrangements, vocals and the raw recording were handled by Sullivan himself (he also took the photo on the cover) but cuts like “Gyre Hell” and the acoustic “Push Me Away” veer around self-indulgence or hyper-navelgazing – I’d call “Offal and the Goat Brains” experimental, but not narcissistic – and he seems more interested in writing songs than making a show of being outside this or that imaginary box. Still, Andromeda offers diversity of instrumentation and arrangement, unplugging once more for “Healer” before closer “Always” finishes the album as a rumbling and grunge-laden love song.

Lacy on YouTube

Lacy on Bandcamp

 

Valborg, Werwolf

valborg werwolf

After catching on late to German metallers Valborg’s 2015 fifth album, Romantik, I told myself I wasn’t going to miss whatever they did next. The single Werwolf (on Temple of Torturous and Zeitgeister) might be a quick check-in of just two songs – “Ich Bin Total” and “Werwolf” itself – but the classic European-style death-doom chug of the latter and the vicious crash of the former I still consider a reward for keeping an eye out. “Ich Bin Total” is less than three and a half minutes long, and “Werwolf” just over five, but both feature choice chug riffing, darkened atmospherics and art-metal growls that only add to the clenched-teeth intensity of the instruments surrounding. They spare neither impact nor ambience nor lives as Werwolf plays out, the title cut riding its massive progression forward to a sensory-overload of nod before finally offering some release to the tension in a second-half guitar lead, only to revive the brutality once more, repetitions of “werwolf” chanted in growls over it. Awesome.

Valborg on Thee Facebooks

Temple of Torturous website

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Black Moon Circle Post 24-Minute Single “The Sun is Coming Back”

Posted in audiObelisk on December 12th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

black-moon-circle-with-dr-space

Today, the sun will be up for well under five hours in Trondheim, Norway, from whence heavy psych rockers Black Moon Circle hail. As we approach the Winter Solstice, that will get down to about daylight for four and a half hours, so perhaps in the working title of their new 24-minute single “The Sun is Coming Back,” they’re looking as much to reassure themselves as their audience that, indeed, there will be a time once again that is not night. Constant darkness can do weird things to the brain, as science has shown over and over again.

“The Sun is Coming Back” follows Black Moon Circle‘s recent improv LP, The Studio Jams Vol. II (review here), which was released on Stickman/Crispin Glover Records, and works at least partially in the same sphere. Once again, guitarist Vemund Engan, bassist Øyvin Engan and drummer Per Andreas Gulbrandsen appear to be joined by Scott “Dr. Space” Heller of Øresund Space Collective on modular synth, and in its live feel, it echoes the spontaneity of the two longform jams that comprise the still-new full-length. A distinguishing factor, however, is that “The Sun is Coming Back” also features vocals, adding a human presence amid all that hypnotic swirl and instrumental wandering, creating a balance that seems to find middle ground between The Studio Jams Vol. II and the band’s 2016 song-based album, Sea of Clouds.

Not sure when exactly it was recorded — could very well have been the same session as The Studio Jams Vol. II — but “The Sun is Coming Back” arrives as part of the ‘Alternativ Julekalender,’ which I think whether or not you speak Norwegian you can probably piece together as an alternative holiday calendar. The project (on Thee Facebooks here) seems to line up a different Norwegian artist every day in December, releasing tracks one day at a time like those things you used to open the little cardboard doors of and find chocolates or whatever it was. Except every now and then you get a 24-minute heavy psych megasprawl. Happy holidays.

I asked Øyvin Engan for some details on that project and Black Moon Circle‘s plans for “The Sun is Coming Back,” and he was kind enough to oblige. His comments follow the track below.

Please enjoy:

Øyvin Engan on “The Sun is Coming Back”:

“The ‘Alternative Julekalender’ is a Christmas calendar that feature one song from a band/artist every day until the 24th. As for ‘The Sun is Coming Back,’ I am pretty sure it will be released on vinyl in August/September 2017. The title is not ready yet, we will finish the cover art in January/February and I guess I will decide on the title then.

So right now this is a digital project, something we just did for kicks (well, everything we do is for kicks), and in the meantime we will release The Studio Jams Vol. III in May.”

Black Moon Circle on Bandcamp

Black Moon Circle on Thee Facebooks

Crispin Glover Records website

Stickman Records website

Tags: , , , , ,

Black Moon Circle’s Psychedelic Lightshow Featured in “The Head” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on November 30th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

black-moon-circle-with-dr-space

Among the several thrills this year has held for me when it comes to watching bands on a stage, the chance to see Norwegian heavy psych rockers Black Moon Circle perform at Roadburn 2016 alongside their compatriot Scott “Dr. Space” Heller of Øresund Space Collective and with visual accompaniment in the form of a live psychedelic oil show from Simon W. Gullikstad is pretty high on the list. It was late at night, and the languid, trippy vibe at the smaller venue Extase was just the thing to cap a long day with a bit of go-ahead-and-get-lost-in-it wash effects wash and nod-ready groove. I’d say I was into it, but that would probably be underselling the experience. It was the right place to be and at the right time.

The Trondheim band’s improvisational side was highlighted with the recent release of The Studio Jams Vol. II (review here), which arrived under the subheading of “The Serpent” as a two-sided LP drawing forth from the well of a single extended jam. Like the aforementioned Roadburn set, the Stickman/Crispin Glover Records release too featured Dr. Space alongside the core trio of guitarist Vemund Engan, bassist Øyvin Engan and drummer Per Andreas Gulbrandsen, and its cover art was indeed a still of Gullikstad‘s work.

Sensing a theme? Good, because the band’s new video for “The Head” — the 24-minute A-side of The Studio Jams Vol. II — also features Gullikstad in his gooey element. Shot on a wall outside Black Moon Circle‘s practice space — I guess any wall would do, really — it’s a longform sampling of both the lysergic explorations the band has to offer and the visual immersion that’s made to accompany. Want to put it on fullscreen and just let it play out? Yeah, I think that might be a good impulse to follow.

Please dig in below, and enjoy:

Black Moon Circle, “The Head” official video

The track is taken from the album The Studio Jams Vol II by Black Moon Circle. The visual arts, water, oil & colors, were performed by Simon W. Gullikstad and the video was filmed by Eivind Stuevold in the hall outside of our rehearsal area.

Black Moon Circle on Bandcamp

Black Moon Circle on Thee Facebooks

Crispin Glover Records website

Stickman Records website

Tags: , , , , , ,

Black Moon Circle Stream The Studio Jams Vol. II in Full

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on November 11th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

black-moon-circle-with-dr-space

Today, Nov. 11, marks the release date of Black Moon Circle‘s The Studio Jams Vol. II. Offered on vinyl through Crispin Glover Records and Stickman Records, as the title hints, it’s the Norwegian outfit’s second such collection of improvised work, following behind a similar release last year (discussed here) and leading to one set to show up next May. That’s right, Vol. III, already confirmed. In the meantime, The Studio Jams Vol. II also follows the Trondheim trio’s song-based 2016 outing, Sea of Clouds, and once more pairs the core lineup of the band — guitarist Vemund Engan, bassist Øyvin Engan (who also mixed) and drummer Per Andreas Gulbrandsen — with synth wizard Scott “Dr. Space” Heller of Øresund Space Collective for an extended, 40-minute improvisation recorded this past January. It seems to have been laid down in one take, and it comes broken up into a pair LP tracks that give a complete description of the beast’s two sides in their titles: “The Head” (24:02) and “The Tail” (16:49). Each one, of course, consumes an entire half of the record, and I don’t think there’s any way to imagine Black Moon Circle would have it otherwise. At this point, they haven’t been around long — black-moon-circle-the-studio-jams-vol-iitheir self-titled debut (review here) and the follow-up, Andromeda (review here), both came out in 2014 — but they’ve proved prolific enough to make one believe they’re reasonably comfortable in Naultilus Studio, where Magnus Kofoed recorded. They certainly seem to spend enough time there.

Which, when it comes to jammed-out space rock, is what you want. If a group doesn’t exercise these muscles constantly, they atrophy, and as Øyvin‘s bass leads the way into the first minute or so of “The Head,” the immediate fluidity of what’s unfolding reassures that indeed that has not happened with Black Moon Circle. In classic form, bass and drums anchor the proceedings while the guitar takes flight, but the not-so-secret weapon here is Dr. Space, whose mastery of swirl from his custom synth comprised of knobs and keys and effects is second to none. Heller‘s time in Øresund Space Collective may be coming to an end — though they also have a new record on the way — but he continues to bring textures and flow and a sense of (dare I say it?) spaciousness to everything he touches. In combination with the chemistry on display from the Engans and Gulbrandsen, it’s little wonder that “The Head” and “The Tail” play out as smoothly as they do, the A side riding its low-end foundation to and through a build in its first 10 minutes only to give the drums a rest thereafter and dig into a psychedelic dronescape that’s as vast as it is hypnotic, bluesy guitar echoing out over slow-motion swirl. To think of a moment like that as something that just happened, that just came about when Black Moon Circle plugged in and went for it — even if they had some direction in mind beforehand — makes The Studio Jams Vol. II all the more worth preserving on vinyl, let alone the careful manner in which the bass and drums reintroduce motion to the track under a cover of synth, not upsetting the balance but clearly moving “The Head” into a next stage that, when the guitar rejoins, results in a near-Earthless-style cacophony pushing even the band’s own limits of psychedelia as Vemund tears into a righteous solo.

“The Head” fades out, taking its time, of course, and “The Tail” black-moon-circle-the-studio-jams-vol-ii-backhowls its way in, picking up where its predecessor left off. Although it’s seven minutes shorter — a manageable 16 minutes — it’s basically a continuation of “The Head”‘s excursion into the ethereal. One might wonder at first why Black Moon Circle would break up the jam in such a manner, to make the A side so much longer than the B side, but I think the story gets told about four minutes into “The Tail,” when the swell of volume recedes and the drone exploration resumes for a stretch with the bass and drums quietly behind. Entirely possible the band wanted to keep the two similarly-minded movements apart in an effort not to repeat themselves too much in succession, though Gulbrandsen‘s echoing snare and toms about seven minutes into “The Tail” have a distinct jazziness that “The Head” simply doesn’t offer and the focus on the rhythm section that develops around them is likewise distinguished from the earlier cut. It’s easy to miss, but by the time they’re eight minutes in, Black Moon Circle have hit the ground level of what will serve as the final build in Studio Jams Vol. II, and as the guitar and synth continue to wash effects forward to the listener there’s a subtle and patient push happening that only gets more fervent as it goes. They peak across the 14th and 15th minutes, with cymbal crashes and full-on guitar howl and noise and general soaking-wet freakout madness all around, and with no place in the universe left to traverse — until next time, adventurers! — they dissipate into a spacebound current of residual amplified rumble that, if we’re lucky, will be picked up by aliens circa alpha centauri and used as our second-most-confusing-ever line of contact with an outside species.

With the pace that Black Moon Circle have thus far kept up in working on both sides of their jams-and-songs-built-from-them approach, I’m all the more thrilled to be able to host The Studio Jams Vol. II in its entirety for your streaming pleasure. Please find it on the player below, followed by some comment from the band and the brief announcement of Vol. III, the confirmation of which is so telling of the vibrant creativity at play in the band.

Enjoy getting lost in this one:

Øyvin Engan on The Studio Jams Vol. 2:

Free-jamming is all about losing control, narrowing down to the moment, where we try to let go of the past and not to worry about what is coming up next, then anything goes.

The Studio Jams series is all about that kind of free floating playing: no rules, no plans.

Of course, we also do a whole lot of jamming when we play the more regular songs, they will never be the same twice, and I think this has influenced the way we make our music. Now, we are both trying to allure the jams into the written songs, and we are forcing structure onto the jams, either way, that´s how we make new songs.

Norwegian psychedelic space rock group Black Moon Circle was formed by Øyvin Engan (bass/vocals) and Vemund Engan (guitar) in 2012. Rising out of the ashes of the fast paced garage punk rock band The Reilly Express, the lineup was completed with the addition of Per Andreas Gulbrandsen on drums. The sound of Black Moon Circle combines long jams with heavy riffage, the extensive use of effects on bass and guitar and analogue synths oscillating with echoes and delays created by Dr. Space.

These days BMC are in The Nautilus mixing The Studio Jams Vol III feat. guest guitarist Snah, due out in May 2017.

Black Moon Circle on Bandcamp

Black Moon Circle on Thee Facebooks

Crispin Glover Records website

Stickman Records website

Tags: , , , , , ,

Roadburn 2016 Audio Streams: Black Moon Circle, Inverloch, Galley Beggar, Usnea, La Muerte, Dead to a Dying World & Kontinuum

Posted in audiObelisk on August 11th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

black moon circle at roadburn 2016 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Sad as I was to miss Galley Beggar at Roadburn this year, I was just as thrilled to watch Black Moon Circle play later in the evening on Day Two (review here). The Norwegian outfit had made it to Tilburg supporting their third album, Sea of Clouds, and when the weekend was over, they’d be a highlight of the newest stage at the fest, making its first appearance as a part of Roadburn 2016, the Extase.

Actually, the Extase is a venue down the way from the 013 proper, which is still kind of home-base for Roadburn as the events tendrils spread outward into Tilburg. But it’s a small club. Reminds me of places in Manhattan and Brooklyn — it’s smaller than the Saint Vitus Bar, for example, especially in back where the bands are — and was suitably dark, but of course the shows there were top notch anyway. Black Moon Circle were joined onstage by Scott “Dr. Space” Heller, soon to be formerly of Øresund Space Collective, and his journeyman synth was a welcome addition to their already fervent swirl.

Their set is streaming in full below, as well as Galley Beggar‘s and full sets from Usnea, La Muerte, Dead to a Dying World, Inverloch and Kontinuum. Whether you were in the room when any of this was happening or not, please feel free to dig in and enjoy:

Black Moon Circle – Live at Roadburn 2016

Dead to a Dying World – Live at Roadburn 2016

Galley Beggar – Live at Roadburn 2016

Inverloch – Live at Roadburn 2016

Kontinuum – Live at Roadburn 2016

La Muerte – Live at Roadburn 2016

Usnea – Live at Roadburn 2016

Thanks as ever to Walter for letting me host the streams. To hear the first batch of Roadburn 2016 audio streams, click here, to hear the second one, click here, to hear the third one, click here, to hear the third one, click here, and for all of this site’s coverage of Roadburn 2016, click here.

Roadburn’s website

Marcel Van De Vondervoort on Thee Facebooks

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

audiObelisk Transmission 057

Posted in Podcasts on April 22nd, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Click Here to Download

 

Given my druthers, I’d have had this up more than a week ago, but there was a bit of a crunch last week as you may have seen, so here we are. Better late than something something. The important thing is here’s about two hours’ worth of new music from psych to drone to sludge and if I do say so myself, it’s a pretty good mix of all of it. The first hour gets pretty driving by the time you get down to Gozu and Domadora before the big chill out with New Planet Trampoline, and though I’m always happy to include audio from improv specialists Øresund Space Collective, their “Ode to a Black Hole Pt. 1” might be their most tripped-out affair yet. Darker for sure, but way, way gone.

As always, the theme is simple — new music — and the goal is perhaps you’ll hear something you didn’t know before. The impact of Elephant Tree’s “Aphotic Blues” forced itself into the playlist, and I’ve been digging the hell out of new Goya, Telstar Sound Drone and Gozu releases, so they had to be here too. I hear some Floor in Spotlights, but there’s more to them than just that, which I think you can hear in “The Grower,” and that’s really just the start of what gets to be pretty expansive by the time it’s finished. Hope you enjoy.

Track details follow:

First Hour:

0:00:00 Curse the Son, “Sleepwalker Wakes” from Isolator
0:05:58 Valley of the Sun, “The Hunt” from Volume Rock
0:08:14 Spotlights, “The Grower” from Tidals
0:15:27 Dunbarrow, “The Crows Ain’t Far Behind” from Dunbarrow
0:18:47 Goya, “Last” from The Enemy
0:23:27 Sourvein, “Avian Dawn” from Aquatic Occult
0:26:54 Gozu, “Nature Boy” from Revival
0:30:01 Domadora, “Rocking Crash Hero” from The Violent Mystical Sukuma
0:34:40 New Planet Trampoline, “Acts of Mania” from Dark Rides and Grim Visions
0:43:26 Telstar Sound Drone, “Dead Spaces” from Magical Solutions to Everyday Struggles
0:49:27 Samavayo, “Overrun” from Dakota
0:55:58 Elephant Tree, “Aphotic Blues” from Elephant Tree

Second Hour:

1:01:53 Black Moon Circle, “Warp Speed” from Sea of Clouds
1:14:54 Jupiter, “In Flux” from Interstellar Chronodive
1:28:43 Øresund Space Collective, “Ode to a Black Hole Pt. I” from Ode to a Black Hole

Total running time: 1:54:43

 

Thank you for listening.

Download audiObelisk Transmission 057

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

ROADBURN 2016 DAY TWO: Living with the Dead

Posted in Features, Reviews on April 15th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

roadburn 2016 day two (Photo by JJ Koczan)

04.16.16 — 00:40 — Hotel room, Tilburg

When I got in from the show last night, I triumphantly tore my wristband off in accomplishment of having put down day one of Roadburn 2016. Then I looked at the thing and saw it was for all four days. So first thing this morning, obviously enough, was to get a new pass. Needless to say, sheepish grins abounded, but as ever, the Roadburn crew was nothing but delightful and accommodating in the extreme. For the hours of fretting I did about it, was done in about five seconds, then off the finish putting together the second issue of Weirdo Canyon Dispatch, which you can read here.

hexvessel arktau eos 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)That process was less smooth, but better than yesterday, and I got excused from folding pages in time to catch the beginning of Hexvessel and Arktau Eos‘ collaborative set at Het Patronaat. On the Main Stage, it was the Lee Dorrian-curated ‘Rituals for the Blind Dead Pt. 1,’ but that wouldn’t be starting up for a while yet, so Hexvessel & Arktau Eos felt like it was snuck in as a bonus for anyone who showed up early. Plenty of people did, and were greeted by robe-donned, incense-burning ritualism, the group performing a special set called “Mirror Dawn” in honor of Arktau Eos‘ debut album, Mirrorion, and Hexvessel‘s debut album, Dawnbearer, from which it drew its source material.

Flourishes of ritual bowls, keys, violin, acoustic and electric guitar, synth, various bone-looking rattlers and percussion instruments, a carved horn of some sort, but the shrouded Arktau Eos, it was a deeply ambient beginning to the day, patient on the cusp of droning but with stronger currents running under the still-seeming waters. It was clearly a work of passion — I’d be interested to hear it recorded; will attend the hopeful arrival of the audio stream — and distinct completely from what Hexvessel brought to the Main Stage with their set yesterday (review here) in a way that only made it more engrossing to witness. Something special for Roadburn to start the afternoon.

When I left Patronaat, it was to begin a succession of one band into the next that would define the better part of a remarkably busy day. Mondo Drag were going on in the Green Room. Diamanda Galás would follow shortly after on the Main Stage, mondo drag 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)so I headed across the alley to the 013 and hit the Green Room on the quick to get a feel for what Mondo Drag were up to, and was struck almost immediately by the clarity of their tones, but the weight they still carry. I felt fortunate to have been familiar with their new RidingEasy album, The Occultation of Light (review here), since it features the current lineup of keyboardist/vocalist John Gamino, guitarists Jake Sheley and Nolan Girard (the latter also synth), bassist Andrew O’Neil and drummer Ventura Garcia, and the live versions of songs like “The Eye” and “Out of Sight” mirrored the chemistry the band as they are today showcased on the record.

It’s almost like a second debut for Mondo Drag in that, but as they melded those cuts with “Zephyr” and “Plumajilla” from last year’s self-titled LP (review here), there was no less ownership of that material, which featured on record what would become the rhythm section of Blues Pills when it was recorded in the Midwest, where the band lived before moving to the West Coast. Either way, Mondo Drag have clearly worked out their niche sound-wise and are engaged in the process of developing that in the textures of the dual guitars and keys and the classic feel of their songwriting. I’d see a lot of psychedelia as the day went on, but catching Mondo Drag for the first time was a thrill for sure. They sound like a band that is going to keep growing.

During the latter portion of their set, I popped over to the Main Stage to bear witness to Diamanda Galás. The grand dame of the avant garde has a few ground rules for playing. They included: No photos (signs were posted), no bars open (they even turned off the lights), and no leaving until the song in progress was mondo drag 2 (Photo by JJ Koczan)finished. Far more free-thinking in her creative spirit, Galás took the stage alone, with a baby grand piano and proceeded to tear gaping holes in sonic convention, her astonishing range matched only by her will to push it to its limits, pulling elements from folk-blues and moving into and out of language for roughly 70 experimentalist minutes. It may have been one of the bravest sets I’ve ever seen at Roadburn — or at least the bravest since Wovenhand in 2011 (review here) — but she kept an impressive portion of the crowd with her for the entire hour-ten, while others waited for the song to end so they could switch out with those waiting on the other side of the door.

I myself went back and watched Mondo Drag finish their set, visited the merch area again when they were done, and still made it back in time to catch the end of Diamanda Galás. All of this was done in anticipation of the next stage in the afternoon/evening’s back and forth, which would see me push from Repulsion to Death Alley to With the Dead to Hills with nary a breath between before catching some of G.I.S.M. and closing out my night with Black Moon Circle and Peter Pan Speedrock, one into the next. There were moments of respite between some sets, but most of it was right in a row. Beats stopping, I guess. No regrets, in any case, though I did sacrifice catching solo sets from Neurosis‘ own Steve Von Till and Scott Kelly in the process, but I saw Kelly in Chicago back in November (review here) and I did some quick math and decided I’d be way likelier to run into Von Till again before Repulsion, so went that way.

Bassist/vocalist Scott Carlson was kind enough to let me have a look at the setlist, which consisted almost entirely of cuts from Repulsion‘s 1989 debut, only album and mega-classic, Horrified. You know why? Because when you fucking repulsion 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)have Horrified, you don’t need anything else. Repulsion was most definitely not closing any bars. In fact, I think a few new ones opened as they tore into the fleshy bits of classics like “Eaten,” “Slaughter,” “Six Feet Under,” “Repulsion,” and “Horrified” itself. Carlson remarked from the stage that Horrified was recorded 30 years ago (in 1986), and he and guitarist Matt Olivo seemed to relish the opportunity to bring them out again. Does it still count as nostalgia when the songs are about cannibals? These and many more important questions were answered.

With Chris Moore (formerly of Magrudergrind, among others) on drums, Repulsion was as filthy and raging as one could’ve possibly hoped, Carlson noting before “Bodily Dismemberment” that he and Olivo wrote the song in Death guitarist/vocalist Chuck Schuldiner‘s bedroom while Evil Chuck was out working at Del Taco. Easily the best story I heard from the stage today. When they were done, it was time for Death Alley in the Green Room, which was probably my most anticipated set of the day, foremost because I so very much dug their debut LP, last year’s Black Magick Boogieland (review here), but also because it was billed as Death Alley + Friends, which signaled to me a high potential for some psych weirdness to go with their driving heavy rock and proto-thrash. Add to that the fact that the first time I saw the band was at the Hardrock Hideout in 2014, and basically I wasn’t missing them for anything.

After a line check with all six parties on stage, they started the set with just the core four-piece lineup — vocalist Douwe Truijens, guitarist/backing vocalist Oeds Beydals, bassist/backing vocalist Dennis Duijnhouwer and drummer Ming Boyer — and dove headfirst into their cover of Hawkwind‘s “Motorhead”death alley 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan) (premiered here) to begin a kinetic thrust that would only increase in energy as it went along. They were fucking awesome, flat out. I could go on and on in overindulgent language about how righteous Death Alley‘s take on heavy has become, and how expansive, in the two years since I last saw them, but it boils down to the same thing. After the title-track from Black Magick Boogieland, “The Fever” and “Stalk Eyed,” they brought out guitarists Ron van Herpen (also of Astrosoniq, formerly of The Devil’s Blood, currently of ZooN) and Jevin de Groot, who was a bandmate of Duijnhouwer‘s in the wildly underrated — remind me sometime to tell you about how frickin’ underrated they were — cosmic doom outfit Mühr.

The resulting sextet incarnation of Death Alley brought extra fullness of sound and all-out swirl to two cuts that seemed newer, “II’s On” an “Feeding the Lions,” before rounding out with a triumphantly spacious rendition of “Supernatural Predator,” the band three-guitar, pull-the-earplugs-out psych-jamming their way farther out and out and out into the cosmos, utterly hypnotizing the Green Room as they went, BeydalsTruijens and Duijnhouwer sharing the vocal duties that Farida Lemouchi performed on the record — before, with nothing more than a few snare hits from Boyer, they masterfully turned the jam on its head and dug back into the space-rocking-push of the song’s central riff to finish out. A surge of electricity went through the room. They’d wind up being my band of the day, hands down, and the really good news is they play another set on Sunday, closing out the fest where it all began, at Cul de Sac.

As Death Alley were spacing out in the Green Room, With the Dead took the Main Stage for what I think was their third show ever, the four-piece including the day’s curator Lee Dorrian, of Rise Above Records and Cathedral fame (to start with) as well as new drummer Alex Thomas (ex-Bolt Thrower), and new bassist Leo Smee (formerly of Cathedral) in addition to guitarist Tim Bagshaw, whose with the dead 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)tone was as grime-coated as I recalled it being when I saw him with Ramesses here in 2011. They played the bulk of their 2015 self-titled debut (review here), including “Living with the Dead” and “The Cross” and “Nephthys.” Come to think of it, it might’ve been the whole record. They had an hour and only have the one album, so, you know, you have to make the most of the time.

Even apart from their pedigree — and I’ll readily admit that it’s difficult to separate these guys from their pedigree — With the Dead‘s material is devastatingly heavy, and Dorrian‘s sneer was as true to the dirt coming from Bagshaw and Smee‘s amps as the riffs were raw and oppressive. Seemingly on the other end of the spectrum entirely, but really only back in the Green Room, after Death Alley finished with the aforementioned jam, Sweden’s Hills followed-up with ultra-groovy heavy psych of their own. The poorly kept secret is that they’re the same band as Goat (though whether all or in part, I don’t know), but if it’s Hills‘ brand of laid back kosmiche or Goat‘s afrobeat-inspired costumed throb, I’ll take the former every time. Sans pretense, they were in a fully molten state by the time they got around to the title-track from 2011’s Master Sleeps, having brought out Svensk Psych Aften label owner and promoter Sven Kruppa for a guest vocal spot earlier in the set that felt kind of random, but in such an open context could hardly be considered out of place.

There was a lot to dig about them, from the trance-inducing aspects to the custom visuals, but it was the peace-through-jam serene atmosphere they proffered that most struck me. At the same time, they weren’t quiet — or at least not all the time — and they had energy in their delivery.hills 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan) A lot to dig, but sadly no merch to buy. I was hoping to pick up a CD of last year’s Frid, which is sold out online, but no dice. Apparently you can believe what you read on the internet. While a take-home version of their mesmeric, pulsating and still definitively laid back space rock wasn’t forthcoming, the vibe they set was enjoyable in the moment, though it would soon enough be back to extremity as I got a sampling of G.I.S.M. on the Main Stage.

Granted, it was somewhat obligatory. G.I.S.M. were formed 35 years ago and this marked first show in 14 years and their first show ever outside their native Japan. Showing up wasn’t really optional. I didn’t have quite the same nostalgia factor as I did for Repulsion, but many, many others certainly did, and I watched as G.I.S.M. showcased punk extremity that underscored just how broad Roadburn‘s spectrum has become. I was waiting to close out the night with Black Moon Circle, at Extase, and Peter Pan Speedrock in the Green Room, so I went up to the balcony in the Main Stage room and sat back for the end of G.I.S.M., which of course was no less furious than the start had been.

I knew I was missing Pentagram, and that’s not nothing. But every Roadburn means hard choices, and since Black Moon Circle are Norwegian and Peter Pan Speedrock are playing their last shows — allegedly — ever on their current European tour, priority was given. No regrets. With Roadburn regular Scott “Dr. Space” Heller joining the trio, Black Moon Circle were a more grounded answer to Hills, but still plenty jammy when it came down to it. Dr. Space, whose synth is a swirl factory in itself, always helps in that regard — one recalls his set black moon circle 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)with Carlton Melton a couple years back — and while I was only there for a short while, and I spent a goodly portion of that trying to get my camera to focus in the mostly darkened Extase, which turned down its lights to allow for Black Moon Circle‘s psychedelic oil lightshow, as well as thinking about how I need to get a review up for their new album, Sea of Clouds, they were a pleasure to watch. I had a hard time pulling myself away.

Motivation in the end, though, was that Peter Pan Speedrock, the Eindhoven trio who’ve been blasting out mission-in-the-name heavy punk for over 20 years, are preparing to retire. They’ve got fest dates booked into the summer and more shows in the fall announced, so I don’t know when they’re actually doing that, but from what I hear, it’s true nonetheless. I’d never seen them before, but in about 20 seconds, the sprint was at full speed and guitarist Peter van Elderen seemed to be out to earn the two-decades of reputation again as quickly as possible, manic in his motion from front to back of the stage, foot up on the monitor, standing on the barricade to play directly to the audience, whatever it might’ve been as drummer Bart Nederhand and bassist Bart Geevers locked in grooves with no room left for questions.

Songs came and went in short, intense bursts, and if this, as my first indoctrination to Peter Pan Speedrock live, is also to be my last, then I’m glad at least I got to see the band once. I was clearly in the minority in that, by the way. Granted, Eindhoven’s only a few towns over from Tilburg, but between peter pan speedrock 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)singing along to the Hank Williams track that served as their intro to starting a mosh pit in the Green Room, it was abundantly clear that the majority in attendance were more experienced than I when it came to seeing the band. Fair enough for the near-hometown heroes. The last shows I saw booked for them are in November. Never say never, but if they are done, that’s a loss.

Hardly a bummer ending to the night, though. They were far too upbeat and kick-your-ass for that. There was more going on afterwards, but I needed to get back and get writing, so I made my way through the crowd and out, down a busy Weirdo Canyon and back to the hotel. Tomorrow starts bright and early and ends dark and late, but promises plenty of incredible sights and sounds between. Fortunately I kept my wristband on this time.

More pics after the jump. Thanks for reading.

Read more »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,