Black Moon Circle, Flowing into the Third Dimension: Always Taking Shape

Posted in Reviews on November 1st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

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

It may well be that Black Moon Circle‘s Flowing into the Third Dimension will live up to its title. Not in the sense of adding depth to its length and width — the Trondheim, Norway, heavy psych explorers took care of that a long time ago — but in terms of marking the beginning of a next, and third, working methodology for the band. Whether or not it ultimately does, the Crispin Glover Records is alternately titled The Studio Jams Vol. III, so there’s a practical allusion as well to the more poetic name, and indeed it follows 2016’s Vol. II (review here) and 2015’s Vol. I (discussed here) in that regard.

Accordingly, while it could just be that guitarist Vemund Engan, bassist Øyvin Engan, drummer Per Andreas Gulbrandsen and synthesist Scott “Dr. Space” Heller (the latter also of Øresund Space Collective) got bored of the plain titles and decided to add something extra to this latest 49-minute improvisational outing, Flowing into the Third Dimension also represents a change in bringing an appearance from Motorpsycho guitarist Hans Magnus “Snah” Ryan, so it’s possible too that Black Moon Circle saw it as an opportunity to tie their jammier work with their more song-based outings, 2016’s Sea of Clouds (review here), 2014’s Andromeda (review here) and that same year’s self-titled debut (review here), or at least to take a forward step in a longer process of doing so. On the other hand, each vinyl side is consumed by a single track — “Barnard’s Loop” (23:27) on side A and “Waves” (26:15) on side B — with a prevailing vibe that’s nothing if not exploratory, it could entirely be the case that I’m reading too much into it. Pardon me while I completely undercut my own supposition. Won’t take a second.

Somehow though, one doubts Black Moon Circle — who, again, are working as a five-piece here, having started out as a trio in Trondheim before adding Heller to the mix — would be against multiple interpretations or different levels of thinking about the conceptual basis for their work. They are in three dimensions, after all, and “Barnard’s Loop” welcomes listeners into an unfolding fuzz mantra that seems to embrace any and all meditation. A record to get lost in for sure, Flowing into the Third Dimension also hits on a frequency of chemistry between its players that stands among some of the finest in heavy psych, a progressive instrumental mentality not unlike the get-on-stage-and-go approach of jazz artists, but of course interpreted through long-form psychedelia on its own journey into the heart of the creative process.

black moon circle

“Barnard’s Loop,” perhaps unsurprisingly, takes its time getting there, as rumbles of guitar back waves of synth forward and receding in the mix in an increasingly noisy first half, which seems to find a more plotted-seeming movement of wah in its midsection, giving way at about 15 minutes in to a lead that makes the most of the newfound dynamic between the two guitars. Multi-tiered — three-dimensional! — swirl is unfolded gracefully, and the resonance holds as they pass the 20-minute mark and a particularly memorable lead line is tossed out in a defining moment for the piece as a whole. I obviously don’t know if that was thought of beforehand or just an off-the-cuff lick, but it shimmers gorgeously like a moment of emergence and stands atop the chugging bass and punctuating drums as a high point of Flowing into the Third Dimension as a whole, whatever shred and wash is still to come. And by the way, there’s still plenty of both to come.

It might not be appropriate to say “Barnard’s Loop” is ever raucous, but it is most definitely vibrant, and it shares that in common with the subsequent “Waves,” which follows a more serene and linear path across its near-half-hour runtime. Black Moon Circle have never left anything wanting for fluidity in their instrumentalist work, but “Waves” might stand as a new pinnacle of immersion for them. Bass provides a foundation for an expanding soundscape of guitars and synth as drums come and go from the depths beneath, and as much of a wash as was to be found in the ending reaches of side A, side B finds itself even more aptly named as it courses through its undulations, lapping at the shores of consciousness with multi-colored textures patiently brought to bear in a first half of subtle movement that drifts into atmospheric sandscape pastoralism increasingly between its ninth and 13th minutes, only to find itself coming dangerously close to falling apart on several occasions before managing to right itself each time.

For those engaging a close listen, those are exciting moments of nuance, but of course with a release like Flowing into the Third Dimension, one might just as simply put it on — headphones justified, volume necessary — shut eyes and let go into a hypno-anesthetic trance, essentially letting the sound carry them for the duration. Both are valid ways to experience Flowing into the Third Dimension, and whether or not Black Moon Circle intended that the album should stand as the beginning of a new stage for them, perhaps with Ryan as a full-time member, perhaps not — they’ve also recently added keyboards and Mellotron, which will reportedly feature on the next release — it is a work of kinematic liquefaction underscored by coherence of purpose that speaks of increasing mastery of the form.

Black Moon Circle, Flowing into the Third Dimension (2017)

Black Moon Circle on Thee Facebooks

Black Moon Circle on Bandcamp

Crispin Glover Records website

Stickman Records website

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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/

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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

 

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

 

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