Wrapping up #VinylDay2017

Posted in Features on July 26th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Grooves and platters galore. My motivation behind doing Vinyl Day 2017 was simple: I felt like listening to records and sharing that process. It was kind of an off-the-cuff thing. Just an idea I had and ran with it. I figure it doesn’t need to be anything more than that, right? Isn’t putting on an album its own excuse for putting on an album? I tend to think so.

And yeah, I made it a hashtag. Because it’s the future, and hashtags. Instagrammaphone and whatnot. I’m a novice at best when it comes to the social medias, but it seems to me that if you’re going to share a full day’s worth of what you’re listening to, that’s the way to do it. So that’s what I did. If I clogged up your feed or whatever and it pissed you off, sorry.

For anyone who might’ve missed it, it turned out to be nine records of various sorts. Here they are, complete with accompanying audio when I could get it, because it’s the age of instant gratification:

There you have it. Had to be Sleep to end it. Pretty awesome day of music on the whole, and whatever was on your playlist yesterday, if it was this stuff or anything else, I hope you enjoyed. I’m gonna call Vinyl Day 2017 a definite win. Thanks for reading.

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Quarterly Review: Novembers Doom, Abrams, The Grand Astoria, Hosoi Bros, Codeia, Ealdor Bealu, Stone Lotus, Green Yeti, Seer, Bretus

Posted in Reviews on July 13th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-summer-2017

So, after kvetching and hemming and hawing and all that other stuff that basically means ‘fretting and trying to shuffle a schedule around’ for the last several days, I think I’ve now found a way to add a sixth day to this Quarterly Review. Looking at all the records that still need to be covered even after doing 50, I don’t really see any other way to go. I could try to do more The Obelisk Radio adds to fit things in, but I don’t want to over-tax that new server, so yeah, I’m waiting at the moment to hear back on whether or not I can move a premiere from Monday to Tuesday to make room. Fingers crossed. I’ve already got the albums picked out that would be covered and should know by tomorrow if it’s going to happen.

Plenty to do in the meantime, so let’s get to it.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Novembers Doom, Hamartia

novembers-doom-hamartia

Look. Let’s be honest here. More than 20 years and 10 records in, one knows at least on a superficial level what to expect from Chicago’s Novembers Doom. Since their first album arrived in 1995, they’ve played to one side or the other between the spectrum of death-doom, and their work legitimately broke ground in the style for a US band and in general. After a push over their last couple albums including 2014’s Bled White (review here) into more deathly fare, Hamartia (on The End Records) brings 10 tracks and 58 minutes of the melancholy dramas – special hello to the piano/acoustic-led title-track – and gut-wrenching, crushingly emotive miseries – special hello to “Waves in the Red Cloth” and “Ghost” – that have defined them. One doesn’t expect a radical departure from them at this point and they don’t deliver one even as they turn to another side of their overarching aesthetic, but whether it’s the still-propulsive death gallop of “Apostasy” or the lush nine-minute finale “Borderline,” Novembers Doom reinforce their position as absolute masters of the style and give their longtime fans another collection of vital woes in which to revel.

Novembers Doom on Thee Facebooks

The End Records website

 

Abrams, Morning

abrams morning

Not a hair out of place in the execution of Morning, the Sailor Records second long-player from Denver three-piece Abrams (interview here). That has its ups and downs, naturally, but is suited to the band’s take on modern progressive heavy rock à la newer Mastodon and Baroness, and with production from Andy Patterson (of SubRosa) and Dave Otero (Khemmis, Cephalic Carnage, etc.), the crisp feel is both purposeful and well earned. Their 2015 debut, Lust. Love. Loss. (review here), dealt with a similar emotional landscape, but bassist/vocalist Taylor Iversen, guitarist/vocalist Zachary Amster and drummer Geoffrey Cotton are tighter and more aggressive here on songs like opener “Worlds Away” (video posted here), “At the End,” “Rivers,” “Can’t Sleep” and “Burned” (video posted here), and “Mourning,” “In this Mask” and closer “Morning” balance in terms of tempo and overall atmosphere, making Morning more than just a collection of master-blasters and giving it a full album’s flow and depth. Like I said, not a hair out of place. Structure, performance, delivery, theme. Abrams have it all precisely where they want it.

Abrams on Thee Facebooks

Abrams on Bandcamp

 

The Grand Astoria, The Fuzz of Destiny

the-grand-astoria-the-fuzz-of-destiny

Dubbed an EP but running 29 minutes and boasting eight tracks, The Grand Astoria’s The Fuzz of Destiny is something of a conceptual release, with the St. Petersburg, Russia-based outfit paying homage to the effect itself. Each song uses a different kind of fuzz pedal, and as the ever-nuanced, progressive outfit make their way through the blown-out pastoralism of opener “Sunflower Queen” and into the nod of “Pocket Guru,” the organ-inclusive bursting fury of “Glass Walls” and the slower and more consuming title-track itself, which directly precedes closer “Eight Years Anniversary Riff” – yup, it’s a riff alright – they’re able to evoke a surprising amount of variety in terms of mood. That’s a credit to The Grand Astoria as songwriters perhaps even more than the differences in tone from song to song here – they’ve certainly shown over their tenure a will to embrace a diverse approach – but in giving tribute to fuzz, The Fuzz of Destiny successfully conveys some of the range a single idea can be used to conjure.

The Grand Astoria on Thee Facebooks

The Grand Astoria on Bandcamp

 

Hosoi Bros., Abuse Your Allusion III

hosoi-bros-abuse-your-allusion-iii

Oh, they’re up to it again, those Hosoi Bros. Their 2016 full-length, Abuse Your Allusion III, from its Guns ‘n’ Roses title reference through the Motörhead riffing of “Saint Tightus” through the stoner punk of “Topless Gnome” and the chugging scorch of the penultimate “Bitches are Nigh” offer primo charm and high-order shenanigans amid the most professional-sounding release of their career. Across a quick 10 tracks and 36 minutes, Hosoi Bros. readily place themselves across the metal/punk divide, and while there’s plenty of nonsense to be had from opener “Mortician” onward through “Lights Out” (video premiere here) and the later swagger of “Unholy Hand Grenade,” the band have never sounded more cohesive in their approach than they do on Abuse Your Allusion III, and the clean production only seems to highlight the songwriting at work underneath all the zany happenings across the record’s span, thereby doing them and the band alike a service as they make a convincing argument to their audience: Have fun. Live a little. It won’t hurt that much.

Hosoi Bros on Thee Facebooks

Hosoi Bros. on Bandcamp

 

Codeia, “Don’t be Afraid,” She Whispered and Disappeared

codeia-dont-be-afraid-she-whispered-and-disappeared

There’s actually very little that gets “Lost in Translation” in the thusly-titled 22-minute opener and longest cut (immediate points) of German post-metallers Codeia’s cumbersomely-named Backbite Records debut album, “Don’t be Afraid,” She Whispered and Disappeared. With heavy post-rock textures and an overarching sense of cerebral progressivism to its wash underscored by swells of low-end distortion, the three-piece of guitarist/backing vocalist Markus L., bassist/vocalist Denis S. and drummer Timo L. bring to bear patience out of the peak-era Isis or Cult of Luna sphere, sudden volume shifts, pervasive ambience, flourish of extremity and all. Nine-minute centerpiece “Shaping Stone” has its flash of aggression early before shifting into hypnotic and repetitive groove and subsequent blastbeaten furies, and 16-minute closer “Facing Extinction” caps the three-song/48-minute offering with nodding Russian Circles-style chug topped with growls that mask the layer of melodic drone filling out the mix beneath. They’re on familiar stylistic ground, but the breadth, depth and complexity Codeia bring to their extended structures are immersive all the same.

Codeia on Thee Facebooks

Backbite Records website

Mountain Range Creative Factory website

 

Ealdor Bealu, Dark Water at the Foot of the Mountain

ealdor-bealu-dark-water-at-the-foot-of-the-mountain

“Water Cycle,” the 13-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) of Ealdor Bealu’s debut full-length, Dark Water at the Foot of the Mountain, introduces a meditative feel and a breadth of sound that helps to define everything that follows. The ostensible side B leadoff of the self-release, “This too Shall Endure” (11:04), offers no less depth of atmosphere, and the graceful psychedelic expanses of the penultimate “Behind the Veil” continue to add to the overall scope with interplay of tempo variety and acoustic and electric guitar, but even earlier, shorter cuts like the wistful indie rocker “Deep Dark Below” and the linear-building “Behold the Sunrise” have an underlying progressivism that ties them to the longer form material, and likewise the particularly exploratory feeling “Ebb and Flow,” which though it’s the shortest cut at just over five minutes resonates as a standout jam ahead of “Behind the Veil” and subtly proggy seven-minute closer “Time Traveler.” The Boise-based four-piece of guitarist/vocalist/spearhead Carson Russell, guitarist Travis Abbott (also The Western Mystics), bassist/vocalist Rylie Collingwood and drummer/percussionist/saxophonist Alex Wargo bring the 56-minute offering to bear with marked patience and impress in the complexity of their arrangements and the identifiable human core that lies beneath them.

Ealdor Bealu on Thee Facebooks

Ealdor Bealu on Bandcamp

 

Stone Lotus, Comastone

I can take spicier foods than I ever could before.

One might consider the title of “Mountain of Filth,” the second cut on Stone Lotus’ debut album, Comastone, a mission statement for the Southwestern Australian trio’s vicious ‘n’ viscous brand of rolling, tonal-molasses sludge. Yeah, the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Dave Baker, bassist Samuel Noire and drummer Reece Fleming bring ambience to the interlude “Aum,” the slower loud/quiet shifts in “Anthropocene” and the subsequent “Umbra” that leads into the creepy launch of the title-track – in fact, quiet starts are something of a theme throughout Comastone; even the thudding toms that begin opener “Swamp Coven” pale in comparison to the volume swell of massive distortion that follows closely behind – but it’s the rhythmic lumber and the harsh vocals from Baker that define their course through the darker recesses of sludged-out misanthropy. No complaints there, especially on a first long-player, but Stone Lotus are right to keep in mind the flourish of atmosphere their material offers, and one hopes that develops parallel to all the crushing weight of their mountainous approach.

Stone Lotus on Thee Facebooks

Stone Lotus on Bandcamp

 

Green Yeti, Desert Show

I'm not sure if that's an effect of dropping carbs or how it would be, but it's strange.

Even before it announces its heft, Green Yeti’s Desert Show casts forth its spaciousness. The second offering from the Athens-based trio in as many years dogwhistles heavy riffing intent even unto its David Paul Seymour album cover, but the five track rollout from guitarist/vocalist Michael Andresakis, bassist/producer Danis Avramidis and drummer Giannis Koutroumpis, as it shifts from the opening salvo of “Black Planets (Part 1)” and “Black Planets (Part 2)” into the Spanish-language centerpiece “Rojo” (direct homage perhaps to Los Natas? if so, effectively done) and into the broader-ranging “Bad Sleep (Part 1)” and 15-minute closer “Bad Sleep (Part 2)” builds just as much on its atmosphere as on its newer-school stoner rock groove and fuzz riffing. It is a 41-minute span that, without question, speaks to the heavy rock converted and plays to genre, but even taken next to the band’s 2016 debut, The Yeti has Landed, Desert Show demonstrates clear growth in writing and style, and stands as further proof of the emergence of Greece as a major contributor to the sphere of Europe’s heavy underground. Something special is happening in and outside of Athens. Green Yeti arrive at the perfect time to be a part of it.

Green Yeti on Thee Facebooks

Green Yeti on Bandcamp

 

Seer, Victims

seer victims

Let’s just assume that Seer won’t be asked to play at Dorney Park anytime soon. The Allentown, Pennsylvania, three-piece dig into largesse-minded instrumental riffing someplace between doom and sludge and do so on raw, formative fashion on the two-song Victims EP, which features the tracks “Victims… Aren’t We All?” and “Swollen Pit,” which is a redux from their 2015 debut short release, Vaped Remains. Some touch of Electric Wizard-style wah in Rybo’s guitar stands out in the second half of the opener, and the closer effectively moves from its initial crawl into post-Sleep stonerized idolatry, but the point of Victims isn’t nearly as much about scope as it is about Rybo, bassist Kelsi and drummer Yvonne setting forth on a stomping path of groove and riff worship, rumbling sans pretense loud enough to crack the I-78 corridor and offering the clever equalizer recommendation to put the bass, treble and mids all at six. Think about it for a second. Not too long though.

Seer on Thee Facebooks

Seer on Bandcamp

 

Bretus, From the Twilight Zone

bretus-from-the-twilight-zone

Doom! Horror! Riffs! Though it starts out with quiet acoustics and unfolds in echoing weirdness, Bretus’ new album, …From the Twilight Zone, more or less shouts these things from the proverbial cathedral rafters throughout its seven tracks. The Catanzaro, Italy, foursome weren’t shy about bringing an air of screamy sludge to their 2015 sophomore outing, The Shadow over Innsmouth (discussed here), but …From the Twilight Zone shifts more toward a Reverend Bizarre trad doom loyalism that suits the Endless Winter release remarkably well. Those acoustics pop up again in expanded-breadth centerpiece/highlight “Danza Macabra” and closer “Lizard Woman,” and thereby provide something of a narrative thread to the offering as a whole, but on the level of doom-for-doomers, there’s very little about the aesthetic that Bretus leave wanting throughout, whether it’s the faster-chug into drifting fluidity of “The Murder” or the nodding stomp of “In the Vault” (demo posted here) and crypto-NWOBHM flourish of “Old Dark House” (video posted here). Not trying to remake doom in their own image, but conjuring an eerie and engaging take in conversation with the masters of the form.

Bretus on Thee Facebooks

Endless Winter Records

 

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Sun Blood Stories, It Runs Around the Room with Us: Ghosts and Smoke

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

sun-blood-stories-it-runs-around-the-room-with-us

If Sun Blood StoriesIt Runs Around the Room with Us doesn’t demand a headphone listen, that’s only because it’s too classy, too subtle and too busy doing its own work to go around making demands in the first place. It is the third full-length from the Boise, Idaho-based Sun Blood Stories, following behind 2015’s Twilight Midnight Morning (review here) and their 2013 debut, The Electric Years, and its weighted high-desert shoegaze moodiness works in part to codify the experimentalism that has thus far been at root in the band’s sound. Emphasis on “in part,” because Sun Blood Stories still offer plenty of fare throughout these nine tracks/46 minutes, but where Twilight Midnight Morning nearly split itself in half between drone-outs and more traditional song structures, It Runs Around the Room with Us — a title that would seem to speak to the energy of its own creation — effectively bridges the gap between those two sides.

This lets the three-piece of Ben Kirby (vocals, guitar, synth, percussion), Amber Pollard (vocals, guitar, theremin, percussion) and Jon Fust (drums, keys, percussion, noise) gracefully unfold songs like opener “End of the Day” — on which the first singing heard comes courtesy of a guest appearance from Aubrey Pollard, presumably Amber‘s daughter — with ultra-immersive atmospherics before moving into the bluesier and more solidified “Step Softly Ghost” and “The Great Destroyer,” the spaciousness in the howling guitar of which does nothing to undercut the memorable nature of its hook. Whether they’re creating a wash of pastoral melancholy in the later ramble of the eight-minute “Time Like Smoke” or underscoring the minimalist outward impression of “Eclipse Theme” with layers of guitar, theremin and keyboard swirl, leading to the weirdo start of “Come Like Rain” with fading loops of guest whistler Brent Joel saying “K. Cool. Now I know,” across the whole span of It Runs Around the Room with UsSun Blood Stories offer some of the richest, most textured American psychedelia one is likely to encounter in 2017. In its progression from where they were two years ago, organic flow between tracks and in the raw performances of KirbyPollard and Fust, it is nothing less than breathtaking.

And while the aforementioned opening salvo of the dreamily wistful “End of the Day,” the building languid shuffle-into-nod of “Step Softly Ghost” and the rolling heavy psych of “The Great Destroyer” isn’t to be discounted in how pivotal it is to setting the tone for It Runs Around the Room with Us as a whole, it’s also only one stage of the album’s breadth, which continues to widen as it moves into “Eclipse Theme,” “Come Like Rain” and “Time Like Smoke.” Pollard and Kirby intertwine vocals on “Eclipse Theme” over cymbal washes, while “Come Like Rain” and “Time Like Smoke,” the two longest inclusions at seven and eight minutes, respectively, act as a kind of conjoined centerpiece, the former no less righteous and pristine in its initial key-led drift than it is later in Pollard‘s “Come back/(Baby) Come back,” lyrical pleas as the build pays off, while the latter brings more of the ambient experimentalist side of the band into focus amid obscure chants, guitar soundscaping and an emergent grounded instrumental progression surrounded various drones, executed patiently and to hypnotic and fluid effect.

Sun Blood Stories, in this middle third of It Runs Around the Room with Us, dig further into what one might consider the core of the album, and push it about as far out as it will go between “Come Like Rain” and “Time Like Smoke” — even the two titles seem intended as complementary — but it’s worth noting that as they move through this vast landscape of their own construction, they never completely let go of the listener’s hand. That is, they never stop guiding the way through the fog. Even in “Time Like Smoke,” which is plenty foggy, Kirby‘s guitar provides something for the band’s audience to grasp onto as they seem to float along the track’s course, slowly unfolding but otherwise easy to get lost within. This speaks to the development of Sun Blood Stories as songwriters, but even more, it highlights the special balance they bring to It Runs Around the Room with Us and the lucidity at work beneath all of their ethereal crafting. When they seem to ooze outward in all directions, that’s still a direction.

sun blood stories

Soon enough, the last two minutes of the album will undo all of the serenity that KirbyPollard and Fust have honed all this time, as the caustic closer “Burn” sets itself toward willful, screamed abrasion from Pollard, discordant crashing instrumentation behind and a vicious extremity meant to surprise as much as it does in a statement as political as it is musical. Before they get there, however, “Echoer Approach” and “Nothing Sacred Will Hold” ease the way out of the middle third of the tracklist and back toward the balance of pieces like “Step Softly Ghost,” an atmosphere playing between solid and liquid states of matter. Led by dual layers of guitar, one drifting, one sliding, “Echoer Approach” is held together by the fluidity in Fust‘s drums, which offer jazzy snare play without veering into anything overly showy or self-indulgent. It’s an easy transition from there into “Nothing Sacred Will Hold,” a late-arriving highlight with Pollard at the fore vocally in airy soulfulness over a winding figure of guitar and keys, Fust building his way back in at around a minute and a half into the proceedings to mark the start of the heavier build which will noise itself out before settling on a weighted riff in its last minute and riding it to the finish at 5:00 flat and the immediate, threatening start of “Burn.”

That Sun Blood Stories would, after creating such a sense of warmth throughout It Runs Around the Room with Us, unleash something so violent at the end of the album is not an accident. It’s a forceful contrast, and the fact that “Burn” itself is nigh-on-unlistenable is the very reason for its being. Written reportedly as a reaction to the proliferation of the Confederate flag as a ‘historical symbol’ of anything more than white supremacy, the social charge echoes “Misery is Nebulous” from the previous album, but “Burn” is so clear in its one-word delivery and so unmistakable in its motive that it almost becomes the necessary culmination of everything before it. They’ve created and cultivated this ground across In Runs Around the Room with Us, brought the listener into this space with them, and at the finish, the only thing left to do is torch the place. So be it.

An apparently digital-only bonus track, “The Enemy,” attempts to undo some of the edge of “Burn,” with in-studio laughter, group-sung folkishness and a jovial air around the repeated lines, “We are the enemy/We are the enemy/Oh shit,” which gradually become, “Ben‘s a sea anenome,” and so on, but the damage is largely done and even the return of Sun Blood Stories‘ experimentalist droning doesn’t undercut the paranoia of the realization at play. Perhaps the sociopolitical context of “Burn” simply bleeds into “The Enemy,” but there’s something foreboding about the six-minute epilogue even though they’re clearly having fun with it that nonetheless darkens the outwardly shimmering atmosphere. Someone gets on mic to say, “If Ben were given an enema, he could be buried in a matchbox,” Pollard seems to provide half an answer, and the album ends.

The journey Sun Blood Stories undertake with It Runs Around the Room with Us — which seems so much more vast than a single room, so much broader than one might expect from a group working as a trio — does not cease to brim with creativity. In the sonic details of “End of the Day,” “Come Like Rain,” and even “Burn,” one finds a rare depth of approach and a level of engagement with and from the material in question that is boldly progressive without being overly cerebral and never loses its melodic crux until it makes a sacrifice of it at the finale. By the time it gets to that point, though, the impression honed across the previous eight tracks remains resonant, and among the scorched remains they leave behind, one thankfully does not find their own accomplishment.

Sun Blood Stories, It Runs Around the Room with Us (2017)

Sun Blood Stories on Thee Facebooks

Sun Blood Stories on Twitter

Sun Blood Stories website

Sun Blood Stories on Bandcamp

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Uzala Announce Breakup

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 26th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

UZALA

Sad news out of Boise, Idaho, in that atmospheric doomers Uzala seem to have broken up. The announcement came via a brief Facebook post from guitarist Chad Remains that went like this:

R.I.P. UZALA
2009-2017
Our sincere thanks to everyone who supported us along the way. We love you all.

What he or the trio — which at last check was Darcy Nutt on guitar/vocals, Remains and drummer Chuck Watkins — has not said is why. Uzala had been relatively quiet since the release of their early 2016 Live at Roadburn MMXV (review here) CD/LP through Burning World Records, and it now looks like that will serve as the band’s final recorded statement.

Their two prior full-length albums, Tales of Blood and Fire and Uzala (track premiere here), were issued in 2013 and 2011, respectively. Both earned the band significant acclaim, and especially the latter found them coming into an atmospheric individualism bolstered by the melodic range in Nutt’s voice and the tonal onslaught from Remains. These elements, set to the steady foundation from Watkins’ drumming, the low rumble of then-bassist Nick Phit (see also: Graves at Sea), and a recording job by Tad Doyle, positioned Uzala for remarkable forward momentum.

They toured the US alongside Mike Scheidt of YOB in 2013 (review here) before following up with the aforementioned trip to Europe for Roadburn (review here), where they were nothing short of spellbinding. Having been fortunate enough to stand in front of the Green Room stage and see that set in its entirety (as well as take the pictures on the cover of the subsequent live outing), it seemed Uzala were living up to and through the potential their work had shown up to that point, and whatever was going to come next from them would not be something to miss.

Whether or not they’ll ultimately make some statement, and whether or not the breakup sticks — I don’t want to speculate at reasons without anything concrete to go on, so I won’t — their output stands in testament to what they had to offer, and while they appeared to be on the cusp of reaching a new aesthetic level, the accomplishments under their collective belt remain substantial enough to resonate for years to come.

You hate to see good bands go, but Uzala never operated under any terms but their own, so there it is. Respect and best wishes to them.

Uzala, Tales of Blood and Fire (2013)

Uzala on Thee Facebooks

Uzala on Bandcamp

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Sun Blood Stories Post “The Great Destroyer” Video; Reveal It Runs Around the Room with Us Cover Art

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 12th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

sun blood stories

Boise, Idaho, psychedelic experimentalists Sun Blood Stories recently succeeded crowdfunding a vinyl release for their upcoming album, It Runs Around the Room with Us, raising over $1,300 in about eight hours. In the interest of full disclosure, I also contributed to it. Having previously heard the track “The Great Destroyer,” for which you can see their brand new video below, I knew it was a cause worth supporting, never mind the ongoing thrills their 2015 outing, Twilight Midnight Morning (review here), has on offer. Like I said, they met their goal handily, and decided to donate the overflow to the Sacred Stone Legal Defense Fund. Causes worth supporting all around, then.

To my chagrin, I haven’t heard the entirety of It Runs Around the Room with Us as yet, but as a first public taste, the band offered up the visceral “Burn,” expressing in suitably caustic measure a political disaffection and feelings of rage, helplessness and despair that, to say the least, arrived suited to the season. “The Great Destroyer” follows the rolling psych-rock pattern of some of the more hook-based material from Twilight Midnight Morning but still boasts an open feel marked out by spacious tones, a patient-but-forward rhythm from the now-trio, and the dual vocals of Ben Kirby and Amber Pollard, joined in the three-piece this time around by Jon Fust on drums and keys.

Might be needless to say, but I’ve become a genuine fan of this band, so as I hear more about a solid release date for It Runs Around the Room with Us, I’ll do my best to keep you posted. In the interim, you can check out the construction-paper animation for “The Great Destroyer” by Jason Sievers below and get a feel for why I’m so much looking forward to the record’s arrival in 2017.

Some comment from Kirby on the song and their update re: crowdfunding follow the clip below, along with copious linkage.

Enjoy:

Sun Blood Stories, “The Great Destroyer” official video

Ben Kirby on “The Great Destroyer”:

“The great destroyer is time. And no matter how fast you run or how high you jump, no one escapes it. A lot has changed since the election except for this: death is inevitable either way. You know, ‘time is a prison that holds us all,’ and all that bullshit.”

We want to keep this short and to the point. We’ve got a new album coming out in Spring 2017, It Runs Around the Room with Us, and we want to release it on vinyl. The bare minimum cost for that format is around $1600. We’re not into exploiting our friends and family so we’re asking y’all to donate as much as you’d like to help us a reach a portion of the funds we need. If we can raise $1,000 to $1,200 for wax, we’ll cover the rest.

UPDATE: Going forward, backers will be gratuitously gifted the merchandise that correlates with their contribution amount but we will be re-routing contributed money to the Sacred Stone Legal Defense Fund. We get vinyl, you get vinyl, and we all get to support the water protectors. This what we call a classic win-win-win scenario. THANK YOU!

Sun Blood Stories at IndieGoGo

Sun Blood Stories on Thee Facebooks

Sun Blood Stories on Twitter

Sun Blood Stories website

Sun Blood Stories on Bandcamp

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The Western Mystics Stream The Last Western in Full

Posted in audiObelisk on April 28th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

the western mystics

On my first listen through of The Western Mystics‘ new live release, The Last Western (Live at Treefort 2016), all I had to go by was the waveform. I didn’t know the names of the songs they played, or where one started and one stopped, and while I’ve since been able to garner that information, I think the other way has a certain appeal as well. Not knowing where one piece ends and the next begins, The Last Western flows as a single entirety, and I’ve no doubt that’s exactly how it was presented at Treefort Music Fest 2016 last month in the band’s native Boise, Idaho, lush and psychedelic in some places, showcasing encouraging depth of ambience in quiet stretches with vocals as much as keys and/or baritone guitars, and taking off on flights of classically-styled progressive rock. In short, this is a band capturing the process of finding their sound on stage, live, as it happened.

That’s a pretty bold move for a group who, to-date, hasn’t yet released a studio outing of any form, but neither is it The Western Mystics‘ first time putting out a “bootleg” where a demo might otherwise appear. Then working as the trio of drummer/vocalist Brent Joel and baritone guitarists Travis X. Abbott (rhythm) and Nik Kososik (lead; also of Sun Blood Stories), the western mystics live at treefort 2016they made their debut last fall with Once upon a Time in the Cosmos (discussed here), establishing a space-and-Western thematic blend that continues however many months later into the Treefort performance, which also introduces keyboardist/vocalist Riley Anne Johnson. Her work here is not to be understated in refining the textures of this material. The richness keys bring alongside the depth of tone from Abbott and Kososik is evident throughout, whether that’s organ keeping up with the guitars in “Running from the Living,” the opening movement, or Rhodes-style note droplets bolstering the drones of the penultimate “Sea that has Become Known.”

At this point, I could tell you where exactly where each track starts and ends between “Running from the Living” and “Running from the Dying,” which closes with an apex of Magma-style progressive bounce, but I honestly think you’re better off like I was, making your way through the entirety of The Last Western (Live at Treefort 2016) without knowing and then hitting up The Western Mystics‘ Bandcamp to find the runtimes and how it all divides up as the band work their way closer to where they want to be sound-wise and stylistically through this material. It’s only been a few months since Once upon a Time in the Cosmos (on which “Running from the Living” also appeared), and that leads one to hope it won’t be much longer before a studio recording of one sort or another surfaces from The Western Mystics, who even on stage show themselves as being able to pull elements from various genres — prog rock, heavy psych, post-rock, drone, etc. — in order to service an individualized intent. I look forward, in other words, to nerding out over their debut. Whenever it might arrive.

Stream The Last Western (Live at Treefort 2016in full below. You’ll find more info on the release beneath the player.

Please enjoy:

The Western Mystics on The Last Western:

As far as our plans go, we are constantly writing new material, especially due to our newest member, Riley Johnson, on the keys. We are going to play some out of town dates in Washington and Oregon this summer with other Treefort Alumni and hope to keep pushing out new material.

We as a band are definitely fans of improvisation and writing on the fly so we can guarantee our next batch of songs won’t be anything like the previous.

Recorded Live at Neurolux for Treefort Music Fest V on 03/23/2016

1. Running from the Living
2. See You In Space
3. The Scary Can Be A Psyche Place
4. Intramolecular Summit
5. Sea That Has Become Known
6. Running from the Dying

All songs written by Brent Joel, Riley Anne Johnson, Nik Kososik & Travis X. Abbott

Brent Joel – Drums, Vocals
Riley Anne Johnson – Keys, Vocals
Nik Kososik – Lead Baritone
Travis X. Abbott – Rhythm Baritone

Live mix by Eric Penney & Lawrence Van Bishop at Neurolux. Mastered by Travis X. Abbott. Special thanks to: Tyler Walker (lights & visual effects). Photo credit: Cameron Andreas.

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Quarterly Review: Sunn O))), Swallow the Sun, Beesus, Giöbia, Decasia, Sonic Mass, Wolvserpent, Delouners, Dead East Garden, Pearl Handled Revolver

Posted in Reviews on March 30th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk quarterly review spring 2016

The Wednesday of a Quarterly Review is always special to me. In the six, maybe seven, times I’ve done this now, Wednesday has always been the marker of turning to the second half of the week. Hump Day in a bizarre context. That said, I feel good about how it’s gone so far and I feel very good about the stuff that’s being written about in more than just that getting-it-out-of-the-way spirit. Still, we start today with something that should’ve been reviewed months ago, and I’ll admit to being glad to have such a formidable weight off my chest.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Sunn O))), Kannon

sunn kannon

Sunn O))) are without question among the most integral bands of their generation. I don’t feel like it’s going even remotely out on a limb to say that. With the three-song full-length, Kannon (on Southern Lord), they go back to exploring the waveforms and ritualistic atmospheres that helped their influence spread in the first place, after several years of collaborating with others like Scott Walker and Ulver. Kannon is the first Sunn O)))-proper LP since 2009’s orchestral Monoliths and Dimensions (review here), and while I understand any and everything I might have to say about it is barely a drop in the bucket compared to the from-all-sides laudits founding guitarists Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson have received, its three parts nonetheless demonstrate the fact that with Sunn O))), there is never any backward looking, and that even as they strip away elements that made Monoliths and Dimensions as expansive as it was in favor of the claustrophobic rumble and chants of “Kannon 3,” they move relentlessly forward. They remain necessary.

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Southern Lord Recordings

 

Swallow the Sun, Songs from the North I, II & III

swallow the sun songs from the north i ii iii

Hey, I like Swallow the Sun. I’ve dug the Finnish outfit since their debut, The Morning Never Came, but I gotta say, maybe a triple album, which Songs from the North I, II and III is, is a bit much? The concept is awesome – one record of light/dark, one record of light, one record of dark – but in practice it’s about a 160 minutes long and a considerable investment to ask of their audience. When it comes to repeat listens, I can’t help but continually go to Songs from the North III, the most extreme installment, which still has plenty of spacious guitar melodies to go with its death-doom emotional and tonal crush, and while I’m not sure that Swallow the Sun would’ve been doing themselves any favors if they spaced out three separate releases rather than bundling them together as they have, it’ll be years before a release of this scope can be properly digested, if it can at all, and for a band whose work is as complex and often lush as Swallow the Sun’s, one wants to absorb it in a way that such a massive offering doesn’t allow.

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Century Media

 

Beesus, The Rise of Beesus

beesus the rise of beesus

Italy’s heavy rock boom continues with the debut album from Roman riffers Beesus. The four-piece nod at desert grunge with “6 Ft. Under Box” and roll out thick, loosely-psychedelic vibes on the opening title-track, but The Rise of Beesus primarily tells its story in its plays of density and spaciousness – see “Waltzer” and the later “Sonic Doom/Stoner Youth” – and one is reminded a bit of Snail circa Blood in that, but a sense of variety brings moments like the quiet opening stretch of “Kusa” and the bass-led thrust of “Mata la Verguenza,” making The Rise of Beesus not as easy to predict as it might first appear. When it does indulge its heft, as on “Beesus in Dope,” it satisfies, but while consistent, it is by no means unipolar. It seems to set Beesus up for future expansion on any number of lines, but as their first outing, it also has a noteworthy sense of itself, carving out an identity from diversity of songcraft and an abidingly chaotic vibe.

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Beesus on Bandcamp

 

Giöbia, Magnifier

giobia magnifier

Fall 2015’s Magnifier (on Sulatron Records) is the fourth LP from Italian psych/space rockers Giöbia, who launch with the ominous cosmic thrust of “This World was Being Watched Closely” and make their grandest statement on side B with the 15-minute lysergic noise excursion of “Sun Spectre.” There and elsewhere in “The Pond,” “The Stain” and the closing “The Magnifier,” Giöbia pursue shroomy sonic enlightenment through soaking reverb and wah, Moog, synth, bouzouki and so on – a somewhat kitchen sink approach resulting in a joyous front-to-back wash of spirited energy and engaging depth. The follow-up to 2013’s Introducing Night Sound (review here), Magnifier finds synth-laden prog swing in “Lentamenta la Luce Svanirà” and pushes air with the low end of its finale title-cut, a right-on dripper that’s round enough to make the world seem square by comparison. The place Giöbia inhabit between psychedelia and space rock is fast becoming a planet all their own, and for ambassadorship of their sound, Magnifier thrills.

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Sulatron Records

 

Decasia, Decasia

decasia decasia title=

Recorded by the band in 2014 and issued in 2015 as their debut EP, Decasia’s Decasia flows more like a long-player, with five cuts that unfold from the tanpura and didgeridoo immersion of opener “Halo,” but I won’t argue. While rawer than what one might commonly expect out of European heavy psychedelia, the French trio nonetheless cull aspects of that sound into their own, so that centerpiece “Blue Love” is right at home with its Hendrixian guitar swing, and closer “Dive” feels within rights to demonstrate a touch of Colour Haze in its initial rhythm, though on the whole Decasia are less laid back and more grunge-informed, resulting in an intriguing blend that, from the burst at the open of “Sherpa” through the crashing finish of “Dive,” shows them as a group able to play to either side at will. They’ve already followed up with the jam “Moodoo Majja,” but I wouldn’t speculate which side will win out as they continue to develop, if indeed any single one does.

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Decasia on Bandcamp

 

Sonic Mass, You People Never Learn

sonic mass you people never learn

The second long-player from London sludgers Sonic Mass, You People Never Learn… would seem immediately to be positioning itself as punishment. Fair enough – there’s certainly some abrasive aspect to its overriding rawness and liberal feedback – but the huge groove that pays off the build in the second half of “Butcher of Brogdael” is more righteous inclusion than it is masochistic, and even faster, shorter cuts like the blown-out punk of “Biker Satania” or “Toga”’s unhinged dual-guitar thrust feels more about a raucous vibe than putting someone off. In the title-track, they move from a wash of distortion into some caustic feedback by the end, but by then the context of You People Never Learn… is such that the nodding push of eight-minute closer “Quadranoid” is more a celebration than a beating, even if it does round out with two minutes of amp crackle, effects and feedback. If it was coming from a stage, you’d raise a pint to it.

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Wolvserpent, Aporia:Kala:Ananta

wolvserpent aporia kala ananta

Longform material is nothing new for Boise, Idaho-based duo Wolvserpent. Both of their two full-lengths to-date, 2010’s Blood Seed and 2013’s Perigaea Antahkarana, have found the ritual drone-doomers working in extended contexts. However, the newly-issued Aporia:Kala:Ananta EP (on Relapse) pushes that line even further. It is a single-song work running 40 minutes of spacious, sometimes grueling, thrillingly challenging heft, marked by a cinematic sense of drama in its use of violin, blackened extremity and striking depth. Drummer/violinist Brittany McConnell and guitarist/vocalist Blake Green aren’t so much taking any huge stylistic leaps from what they’ve done before, but the scope of “Aporia:Kala:Ananta,” as well as the overarching flow of the piece, its patient execution, and the masterful hand with which they guide it, cannot be called anything but progression. The only question I have is why they’re not calling it an album. Considering both its runtime and its breadth, to consider it anything less feels like selling it short.

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Relapse Records

 

Delouners, Family

delouners family

Swapping back and forth between Spanish and English lyrics adds variety to Family, the 13-song/45-minute debut long-player from Uruguayan foursome Delouners, but they weren’t short on it anyway. Spacious, echoing guitars and a languid psychedelia-gone-heavy-blues carry across laid back blowout rolls like “Low” and the more uptempo “Secreto,” and all the more in the side A-ending “Mistery Caravan,” the lazy, hazy, take-it-way-down groove feels derived from an All Them Witches influence. There are more garage rock moments, as on the title-track, the earlier “Los Dormidos,” “Alain Delon” and closer “Mirtha Legrand,” and the shoegazing tropicality of “Sea/Side” furthers an individualized sensibility overall, but that naturalist spirit never departs completely. So be it. Delouners drench this central inspiration in their own sonic persona, and so come off influenced rather than derivative, setting themselves up to branch out their progression as they see fit on whatever they might do next.

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Dead East Garden, Dead East Garden

dead east garden dead east garden

There are five songs on the self-titled debut EP from Cleveland, Ohio’s Dead East Garden and three of them could be said to have something to do with cars – “Starting Line,” “El Camino Rock” and “Straight Burning Road.” That’s not a judgment, just a statement of fact. From the post-Pepper Keenan chug of opener “The Lurker,” one kind of knows what’s coming from the workingman’s heavy rockers, but “Mother’s Disease” fleshes out a less dudely aggro spirit with a more patient initial roll and satisfying lead work from guitarist Ryan Scheel. The beer-soaked vibes resume as “Straight Burning Road” comes on to close, vocalist Pat Homolish layering spoken and belted-out hooks as bassist John Roach (since out of the band) and drummer R.J. Drenski hold down one more straightforward groove, and Dead East Garden reinforce the plainspoken intent on display across the short release, as light on pretense as it is heavy on testosterone.

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Dead East Garden website

 

Pearl Handled Revolver, If the Devil Cast His Net

pearl handled revolver if the devil cast his net

As with their 2013 sophomore outing, This Mountain Waits (review here), the third album from UK heavy blues/classic rockers Pearl Handled Revolver, titled If the Devil Cast His Net, uses synth, Mellotron, electric piano and organ to explore a wide variety of moods, from the soft-guitar blues of “Someone Like You” to the rambling “Absinthe in Adelaide.” All throughout, the band reaffirm their mastery of these styles as they go, be it the boogie shuffle of “Loverman” or the side A closing title-track, which sets forth one of the record’s most engaging bass grooves under gravelly verse before moving into an extended instrumental jam, no less poised than anything preceding or following. That plotted feel is at the core of Pearl Handled Revolver’s approach – nothing is here by accident – and it makes their songcraft all the more inarguable, taking in a post-The Doors bounce on closer “Into the Blue” as they mirror the end of the album’s first half for another striking finish.

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Sun Blood Stories Post “Witch Wind” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on February 26th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

sun blood stories (photo by Jaclyn Hutchens)

Nope, it hasn’t been all that long since the last Sun Blood Stories video — only about a month — but whatever. They keep making ’em and I’ll keep posting ’em. Interesting too how utterly different “Witch Wind,” which you can see below, is from the preceding clip for “Misery is Nebulous.” That was a seven-minute journey through human tragedy, ecological and geopolitical, while “Witch Wind” is dancing silhouettes. Yup. From visuals that make you feel sad to be alive to dancing. That pretty much sums up the scope of the Boise outfit’s 2015 long-player, Twilight Midnight Morning (review here), which I put on the other day simply because — and this is 100 percent true — I missed it. True story.

As it happens, “Witch Wind” was an easy favorite from that record, the call and response in the hook from Ben Kirby and Amber Pollard making it an immediate standout. Catchy in itself, it also speaks to the fluidity that KirbyPollardNik Kososik and Jon Fust are able to conjure from the ether throughout while also evidently dwelling in that ether, getting more tripped out as the three-stage progression of the record unfolds. The band released a follow-up in the even-more-experimental Samhain Variations (review here) last Halloween, but they’re reportedly also debuting a new offering live next month at Treefort Music Fest in their hometown. I don’t know if that’s recorded yet or not, but I’ll take new Sun Blood Stories as good news one way or another.

More on that as I hear it. Until then, here’s the “Witch Wind” video and appropriate credits.

Enjoy:

Sun Blood Stories, “Witch Wind” official video

Witch Wind is the 4th track from Twilight Midnight Morning, released June 23, 2015 by Sun Blood Stories

Danced by PROJECT FLUX at MING STUDIOS in Boise, Idaho

Ben Kirby: Guitar, Vocals,
Amber Pollard: Slide Guitar, Vocals, Effects Pedals
Judah Claffey: Viola
Nik Kososik: Bass
Jon Fust: Drums
Dale Hiscock: Mixing

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Sun Blood Stories website

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