Buried Treasure: Isis, Celestial Pre-Release Version

Posted in Buried Treasure on June 10th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

I’ve done my absolute best these last six months or so to buy as little music as humanly possible. As I’ve lost jobs and seen my income go from what it was last year at this time to half that, to less than half that, to nothing, it’s felt like the very least I can do to stop scrolling through online shops or thumb my way through record bins trying just basically looking for one more thing to own. Just out of fairness to The Patient Mrs., if the actual financial concern isn’t enough. I won’t lie: I’ve missed it. And it hasn’t been easy. Between new stuff that’s come out in the last year — I’ve got a running list on a post-it note on my wall and it goes back a ways by now — and the joy of actually going to a store and finding something used I never expected to see and sometimes didn’t even remember I wanted, I’ve felt like something that I used to really enjoy, I can no longer do because I don’t have the money to spend.

At least I ever did, right? I’m not saying I’ve got it tougher than anyone — ever — because basically I don’t. My point is that when I ran into the pre-release version of Isis‘ 2000 full-length debut, Celestial, yesterday at Armageddon Shop in Boston, it was something I knew I shouldn’t buy. I knew it was there. They had three of them at one point — Celestial, 1998’s preceding Mosquito Control (it might’ve been The Red Sea) and 2001’s subsequent SGNL>05 EPs — and I had seen them a few months back last time I was in the store, in the case at the counter in a small box of oddly-shaped or rare CDs. You have to ask to look. Yesterday, after perusing the wall of discs and feeling positive about a three-dollar copy of Cavity‘s On the Lam, I decided to take another gander at the Isis discs. I knew what they were, I didn’t imagine they were gone, and I knew how much they cost: $29.99. Not cheap for anything at this point, let alone an album I’ve already owned for more than a decade.

I suppose I could say that it was the fact that Mosquito Control was gone from the box that called me to action in buying Celestial – getting both that and SGNL>05 would’ve been absolutely out of the question, and given the choice, I’ll take the full-length — and maybe that was a factor, but the root of it was more that I miss buying records. I miss going to a store, picking up something like this and delighting at the prospect of making it mine. I wanted it. It was overpriced, but the inside liner confirms that, indeed, there were only 40 of them made (mine is number 24), and put out by Escape Artist Records in advance of the album itself. Yeah, the cover art hijacked from the self-titled Godflesh EP was also a factor, my enjoyment of that blatant acknowledgement of influence made only more fervent by knowing they used the same cover for these versions of the other releases as well. All three sitting there, daring anyone who’d look at them to recognize that face.

That’s not to take away from the impact of Celestial sonically. I think we’re probably still a couple years too close to post-metal’s overexposure — bands taking no small measure of influence from Isis‘ largely unfuckwithable first three long-players; Celestial, 2002’s Oceanic and 2004’s Panopticon — and just hammering those ideas into the ground, but Celestial still remains about as close to “atmospheric sludge” as anyone has ever come, an aggression metered out across varied, lurching cuts like “Deconstructing Towers” and the later “Collapse and Crush” interspersed with ambient interludes titled to maximize a theme that would soon enough tie in with the follow-up EP. A breath-stealing undertaking at over 51 minutes, the pre-release version advises, “Listen to this goddamm (sic) thing the whole way through for best results,” but with a record as densely packed and, at times, vicious as Celestial was at the time, they weren’t by any means making it easy. Then based on the East Coast, Isis were a direct answer to the Bay Area’s Neurosis at their most unbridled, and while their musical paths would diverge, that influence, as well as that of Godflesh, would remain a typifying factor throughout much of Isis‘ career, for better or worse.

So yeah, Celestial crushes, and it still crushes, and between that and the added nerdout factor of the swiped artwork, the limited release and my own wistfulness at the thought of leaving it there again, I picked it up. I won’t say I don’t feel guilty, because money really is tighter than would allow for such things, but cash comes and goes and this is mine now.

Got that Cavity too, so right on.

Isis, Celestial (2000)

Armageddon Shop

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The Obelisk Radio Adds: Wolves in the Throne Room’s Celestite, Milligram, A Sad Bada, Phant, Damo Suzuki Meets Øresund Space Collective

Posted in Radio on June 6th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Running a pretty wide gamut this week, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. This week is a pretty good example of one where there’s way more added than just what’s listed here, so make sure you check the updates page to see the full list of everything that went on the server. Next thing I knew, I turned around and there was a ton of awesome stuff waiting to go up. Tough times.

It’s been a few weeks doing the adds this way and I’m digging it so far, so I’m going to keep it up, at least until I think of something else or it gets to be a pain or whatever. Thanks for reading and checking out the radio stream.

Adds for June 6, 2014:

Wolves in the Throne Room, Celestite

The much-awaited follow-up to 2011’s Celestial Lineage finds Washington US black metal forerunners Wolves in the Throne Room not quite ready to let go of that album yet. Celestite is intended as a complement to its predecessor, and as the first release on the band’s own Artemesia Records imprint, it comes as a particularly bold move for a band clearly looking to shirk expectation. Its five included tracks are cinematic, ambient set-pieces — instrumental works that, when played at the same time as Celestial Lineage, enhance the atmospheres of those already dense songs. Of course, cuts like the 11-minute opener “Turning Ever Towards the Sun” and the centerpiece “Bridge of Leaves” have value on their own as well, but there’s little denying that the apex of Celestial Lineage in “Prayer of Transformation” is pushed further by Celestite closer “Sleeping Golden Storm” and vice versa. Anyone expecting forest screams or raging blastbeats is in for a surprise, but those who approach with an open mind will be rewarded, which has always been the case with Wolves in the Throne Room‘s work. On Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Milligram, Live on Pipeline (WMBR)


A band with a reach that has lasted much longer than their actual six-year run, Milligram retain a presence in heavy rock consciousness despite having really only gotten together to open for Kyuss Lives! in 2011 since calling it quits in 2002, prior to Small Stone‘s issue of their This is Class War full-length. Accordingly, the version of “Not Okay” included on this collection of live recordings from the radio station WMBR sounds like a blueprint for some of the soulful heavy vibes Lo-Pan would conjure in their early going. Also included are covers of the Misfits (“We are 138″) and Black Flag (“Jealous Again”), so in addition to hearing Milligram – which in 2000 when Live on Pipeline was recorded was comprised of vocalist Jonah Jenkins (see also Raw Radar War), guitarist Darryl Shepard (see also Hackman, Black Pyramid, Blackwolfgoat, The Scimitar, etc.), bassist Bob Maloney and drummer Zephan Courtney — tear into some of their own material, there’s also a look at their punkier roots. Shepard has begun a series of digital releases of his bands with this, so look out for more. All are available for name-your-price download through his Bandcamp. On Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Damo Suzuki Møder Øresund Space Collective, Damo Suzuki Møder Øresund Space Collective

Captured live and largely improvised on Valentine’s Day 2013, the 3LP Damo Suzuki Møder Øresund Space Collective indeed proves a match meant to be. The Danish/Swedish space jammers and the krautrock legend — Damo Suzuki has released decades’ worth of solo output and collaborations, but is still best known for his contributions to Can — offer no single piece under 14 minutes long, so I guess as jams go, these worked out. The six inclusions are immediately exploratory, and while at just over two hours, the meeting of these expanded-mind entities can feel a bit like traveling through a wormhole where you snap back to consciousness on the other side and wonder how you got there, each piece also takes on a life and movement of its own, propelled by ceaselessly creative guitar work, engaging rhythmic nod and, naturally, a near-constant swirl of effects. Suzuki‘s voice echoes through “Dit Glimtende Øje” as though beamed in from another galaxy, and his first contact with Øresund Space Collective results in vibrant, cosmic jams that push through the psychedelosphere. On Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

A Sad Bada, White Rivers and Coldest Chains


Chilean four-piece A Sad Bada specialize in post-sludge that is lurching and atmospheric in kind. White Rivers and Coldest Chains is their first full-length, with it they offer five extended tracks of crushing density and grueling nod. They skirt the post-metal line — guitarists Gastón Cariola and Fernando Figueroa, who founded the band in 2008, keep a steady supply of airy echoes on hand throughout — but as a cut like the 11-minute “Hide and Grieve” shows, they’re never quite looking to get away from the sludgy churn of their slower-than-thou progressions, bassist Roberto Toledo and drummer Alejandro Ossandon expertly holding together the songs as Figueroa offers vicious, throaty growls over top. White Rivers and Coldest Chains (out on Australis Records) is intended as a slog, and it is one, but the soundscape that A Sad Bada enact over the course of the album has more appeal than just its tonal weight or extremity. There’s a darkness at its heart that comes from more than just the music itself, and that bleeds from the speakers with every oozing riff. On Thee Facebooks, Australis Records.

Phant, The Octophant Pt. II


Newcomer Swedish trio Phant return with their second self-released, digital-only EP in less than a year’s time, bringing their eight-armed elephant mascot deeper into a heavy-riff melee over two more extended tracks and an outro with The Octophant Pt. II. Like their predecessors on The Octophant Pt. I (review here), “Nativitas/Hakaisha” (13:53) and “Magna Cael” (9:31) blend cosmic doom and heavy rock tendencies, finding a cohesive balance of aggression and groove along the way, subtly adding effects amid echoing vocal interplay from bassist Jesper Sundström and guitarist Anton Berglind while drummer Elias Sundberg taps into reaches no less spacious via a constant-seeming wash of cymbals. Found sounds, samples and other sundry weirdness caps The Octophant Pt. II in “Outro Pt. II,” with tales of UFOs and government coverups. How long Phant might continue this series of EPs, I don’t know — they can at least get a trilogy out of it if they want; I’d take another 26 minutes of this no problem — but the heft the three-piece bring to bear across “Nativitas/Hakaisha” and “Magna Cael” also shows they’re more than ready to tackle their debut full-length, should they decide to go that route next. On Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Other adds to The Obelisk Radio this week include Novembers Doom, the four-way split between Naam, White Hills, Black Rainbows and The Flying Eyes, as well as Recitation, Sunwolf, Godflesh, Dylan Carlson of Earth‘s solo-project, Drcarlsonalbion. For the full list, check the updates page.

Thanks for reading and listening.

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Live Review: Fu Manchu, Electric Citizen and Gozu in Cambridge, 05.20.14

Posted in Reviews on May 21st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

The problem with reviewing a Fu Manchu show is picking highlights. “Uh, yeah, the best part was when Fu Manchu showed up and played. That kicked ass.” Review over.

With Ohio Sabbath devotees Electric Citizen and supporting and Boston’s own Gozu – who played with Fu Manchu their last time through as well, also at The Sinclair, if I’m not mistaken — as the opener, the evening promised a three-band bill with no filler. My first time at The Sinclair – getting to know venues has been both terrifying and exciting — it turned out to be a cool space. Pro shop. The location is all Harvarded-out. I laughed seeing a kid get on a college shuttle bus carrying a 30-pack of Keystone Light at the notion of “higher” education, but restaurants and bars and whatnot line kind of a side-street near the same square where one finds Armageddon Shop. You go up stairs outside to enter and a couple more to step up to the stage area. There’s a balcony in back that seemed like prime real estate, and the stage, high, well-lit, boasted solid sound even up front. It was a cool place to see a show, and a cool show to see. I felt like I’d won just by virtue of being there.

Of course, that feeling only amplified once Gozu went on. Back less than a month from a European tour that took them from Roadburn, where they destroyed, to Desertfest Berlin, they were still in excellent form, and while it was early, they got a hero’s welcome from the local types present as they ran through a well-oiled set that included the regulars “Irish Dart Fight” and the always-appreciated “Jan-Michael Vincent,” as well as the Locust Season closer “Alone” to round out. That song, slower, longer, distinct from a lot of Gozu‘s other material, seemed to show particularly how much fun bassist Joe Grotto and drummer Mike Hubbard are apparently having in the rhythm section. Their styles are well-suited to each other, Hubbard‘s seemingly inherent swing a vast departure from former drummer Barry Spillberg (Wargasm)’s metallized precision. Grotto rides those grooves well, and as Gozu are probably the band I’ve seen most since moving to the area last year, I’ve dug being able to watch that dynamic develop.

It wasn’t a particularly long set, but it was precise, and guitarists Marc Gaffney and Doug Sherman offered crunch tones and shredded leads to start the night off right. It was Tuesday — as one ultra-clever showgoer near the front would tell Scott Hill later, it was “Fu-Manchuesday” — so I don’t know how many people were in it for a party to start out, but Gozu laid the foundation for one anyway and their tightness gave Electric Citizen a heavy lead-in. The Ohio foursome had a different vibe, and after checking out their debut EP last year and their newer Light Years Beyond 7″ released for this tour ahead of their first long-player, Sateen, which is due in July, I was curious to see how their retro mindset would play out on stage. There aren’t a lot of bands in the States — at least not nearly as many as seem to be floating around Europe these days — who’ve picked up on what the likes of Graveyard have done to revitalize ’70s heavy. The model is less firmly planted here. I wondered how that might affect Electric Citizen‘s delivery.

In short, it didn’t. I guess between acts like Blood Ceremony, Blues Pills, Jex Thoth, etc., there’s enough for a new band like the Cincinnati troupe to match with their own creative whims in terms of aesthetic. If there was any continuity from Gozu, it was in drummer Nate Wagner‘s swagger and swing, though Electric Citizen put it to more boogie-fied use. On stage, they came across as even more Sabbathian than their recorded material, to the point that I was somewhat surprised to see guitarist Ross Dolan playing through Oranges instead of Laneys, but he got his point across anyway. His leads seemed to do that Iommic double-layer effect, though of course he was only playing once, and well-fringed vocalist Laura Dolan carried the rush-grooves with more than capable melodicism. A more subdued presence, bassist Nick Vogelpohl was the anchor around which the rest of the band boiled, and in addition to “Shallow Water” from the new album, they made a highlight out of the single “Light Years Beyond,” ending their set with its memorable bounce and stomp. The vibe was a bit rawer without the organ that accompanies their recorded output, but Electric Citizen made plenty of new friends anyway.

And, well, Fu Manchu, right? I mean, if you know the band, you know what you’re going to get. For two decades, they’ve been among the top ranks of fuzz purveyors, beaming in riffs from the cosmos to vibe out earthlings everywhere. Their new one, Gigantoid (review here), was the occasion, but as with any band that has such a backlog of killer material, it was really just an all-around celebration of what they do. Highlights? Yeah, there were some. I’ll never, ever, complain about hearing “Boogie Van” live, or “Evil Eye” from 1997’s The Action is Go, or anything from 1996’s In Search Of…, from which “The Falcon Has Landed” and “Regal Begal” were aired, but seriously, it was Fu Manchu. Whatever they wanted to play, they’ve got more than enough to fill a set. Dudes up front kept yelling for “Hotdoggin'” from 2000’s King of the Roadguitarist/vocalist Scott Hill finally had to address it: “We’re probably not gonna play ‘Hotdoggin’,’ that’s right, I’m the asshole” — but who was about to argue with “Weird Beard” or “Hell on Wheels?” Nobody, if the crowd-surfing and moshing were anything to go by. Further proof that picking tunes for the set is best left to the professionals.

That said, there were a couple requests honored as the Fu tore through their planned set. “Weird Beard” was one, and “Superbird” from the band’s 1994 debut, No One Rides for Free (recently reissued on vinyl; review here), was another, and they broke it out like it was nothing. “Oh yeah, here’s a 20-year-old song that we had no intention of playing, watch us completely nail it.” So, playing in front of a backdrop of the Keiron Copper cover art and Peder Bergstrand logo for Gigantoid the band did leave a bit of room before closing out with “King of the Road,” leaving stage and coming back for an encore of “Saturn III” from The Action is Go, the song seeming in context like a jammy precursor to the new album’s finale, “The Last Question,” guitarist Bob Balch swirling out effects while Brad Davis and Scott Reeder held down the groove and Hill headbanged like a man with stock in Advil. They didn’t play “The Last Question” — no need to double up on the jam — but “Invaders on My Back,” “Dimension Shifter,” “Triplanetary” and “Anxiety Reducer” represented the new album well. I’d been hoping for “Radio Source Sagittarius,” but again, there’s that issue of there simply being too much Fu Manchu for one show. They should do two nights in every city they play.

Vinyl for Gigantoid, which the band has released on their own At the Dojo Records label, is reportedly forthcoming, though they had No One Rides for Free at the merch table. I bought a CD of the new record and made my way back out into a chilly spring night to walk down the block to where I parked. It wasn’t too long before I cracked open that copy of Gigantoid and put it on, either. Some bands, you just can’t get enough.

More pics after the jump. Thanks for reading.

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Live Review: Swans in Boston, 05.17.14

Posted in Reviews on May 19th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Outside Boston’s Royale, elaborately made-up young women in expensive-looking dresses stood waiting in a line while bearded-types smoked cigarettes on the sidewalk. Royale, which hosted Swans on Saturday, is a nightclub in what I guess was Boston’s theatre district. There are at least two rooms in the place, maybe more. Swans played upstairs, a larger hall, good lights, good sound, an elevated area in front of the stage that it took me a second to realize would become a dance floor as soon as 10PM hit and the weirdo contingent shuffled out to let the clubbers lang — if that can be a verb for what one does when clubbing at the risk of betraying my inexperience in this regard.

And indeed, 10PM. The show was even earlier than I anticipated it being from the Royale‘s website saying doors at 6, show at 7. In the rare and appreciated company of The Patient Mrs., I rolled in at about 6:50 and found Jenny Hval on stage, maybe halfway through her set. Who knew? A lot of people, judging by the crowd. I didn’t find out about that whole “out by 10″ thing until I was already there, and needless to say the evening made more sense afterwards. For Hval‘s part, the Oslo native and her accompanying duo of Håvard Volden and Kyrre Laastad ran a line between moody alternative pop and more experimental indie ambience. Probably not something I’d have gone to see were Swans not coming on next, but creative and well-presented from the few songs I saw. I wouldn’t have minded showing up earlier if I’d been so lucky.

Hval and Co. played in front of Swans‘ elaborate setup — a pedal steel was brought out later for Christoph Hahn, but drummer Phil Puleo and multi-instrumentalist Thor Harris already had their stations ready, and amps for guitarist/vocalist Michael Gira, bassist Chris Pravdica and guitarist Norman Westberg were prepositioned — and that made the changeover shorter than it probably would’ve been otherwise, but still, barely being 8PM, it hardly felt like they needed to rush. Supporting their newly-released third full-length since reactivating, To be Kind (review here), the Swans tour was newly begun. A night in D.C., a night in Philly, then Boston, followed by Manhattan and Brooklyn as a warmup for a longer stretch through the UK taking them through the rest of May into early June, with a longer summer US tour to follow mid-June into July.

My expectations for Swans were high. I remembered well the teeth-vibrating heaviness they conjured at Roadburn 2011, playing material from 2010’s don’t-call-it-a-comeback My Father Will Guide Me up a Rope to the Sky (review here) as well as some early versions of songs like “The Apostate,” which would appear on 2012’s The Seer. “The Apostate” was aired at the Royale as well, making it the oldest song in a set that included two-point-five from To be Kind in “Oxygen,” “A Little God in My Hands,” and a mutated take on “Bring the Sun,” which appears as the first half of the 34-minute “Bring the Sun/Toussaint l’Ouverture” on the record, and two new songs, “Frankie M.” and “Don’t Go.”

The impulse with Swans since they started playing again — Gira transitioning from Angels of Light back to Swans as he shifted in 1997 from Swans to Angels of Light — has been to think of how apocalyptic they sound, to delve into drone-as-shattering-consciousness hyperbole. I’ve done it too more than once. I think it says much more about who these people are as artists and the deep creative need at work that, the same week their new album is released, they’re already remolding the material and playing two brand new, yet-unrecorded cuts, one of them opening the set. I don’t know whether “Frankie M.” or “Don’t Go” will wind up on the next Swans studio outing, and if they do, I’d expect they’ll be retooled in one manner or another, but just the fact that that’s how Swans go about their business where they could just as easily be plugging the t-shirts and vinyl at the merch booth said a lot about their priorities and how passion-driven they are.

Most likely, two nights into what will be several months of shows, Swans would tell you the show will get tighter. Gira hinted at same in mentioning how the stuff was all pretty new after “Don’t Go,” before he put his guitar down and danced like the mad conductor Jim Morrison wanted to be when he grew up for the bulk of “The Apostate,” directing Harris to hit this or that effect, maybe go for the flute, the horn, the gong, the chimes, or any number of other of the instruments he had in the little box constructed around him next to Puleo‘s also-expansive drum kit, or matching eyes with Pravdica in timing out measures for the insistent slams that start “Bring the Sun.” This lineup of Swans, inexperienced though they may be with bringing To be Kind to the stage, have been playing together for a few years now and it shows. Gira‘s signals, whether it’s a reeled-back leg kick to time a hit for the whole band or a subtle eye-glance to one player or another around him, are well read, and the fullness of sound Swans craft when they choose to do so is as consuming as their reputation would have you believe.

“A Little God in My Hands” was the second song played, behind “Frankie M.,” and offered an early bit of accessibility for what would soon turn into an amorphous spread of builds and crashes. “Oxygen” has form, and so does “The Apostate,” but live the bleed from one piece into the next was only distinct when it came to a silent finish, and while “The Apostate” seemed when they were done like that was it, “Bring the Sun” justified its place as the finale by giving an interpretation of drone-as-ritual that few I’ve seen live could rival. Whatever that track is going to turn into by the time Swans are done doing shows for To be Kind remains to be seen, but hopefully some recording of it surfaces somewhere along the line. It was distinct from the album version not just for dropping the “Toussaint l’Ouverture” half, but also it seemed to be finding its way as it went on — not a jam exactly, but live exploration unfolding in real-time swells of volume and tension. A solid 90 minutes had passed when they were done. I was surprised to look at my watch and see it was 20 after nine.

Downstairs at Royale, thudding dance beats pumped through the wall and as the art students, aged-out goths, metal intellectuals, kids who Pitchfork told to be there, stoners, girlfriends, industrial heads and others poured out of the front door, I spied some sidelong glances from those waiting to go upstairs and… well, whatever it was. So be it. If palpable, willful deviance from the norm was to be the vibe given off, then Swans made perfect figureheads for the evening.

Some more photos after the jump. Thanks for reading.

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Live Review: The Body, Whitehorse, Rozamov and SET in Boston, 05.09.14

Posted in Reviews on May 13th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

It wasn’t a house show exactly, and it wasn’t a secret show exactly. Dragon’s Den is a studio/arts space in a building somewhere in South Boston that prefers its exact location to be kept quiet and that does shows sporadically with the hope of not attracting too much attention. It is decorated like an arts space and has a theatre-style stage, deep and wide, that, in the case of a show like this one with The Body, Whitehorse, Rozamov and SET, held audience and band alike. Still, it was a small, personal space, so while it wasn’t a house show, it had that vibe, and while it wasn’t a secret show, neither was it one promoted to bring out as many people as possible. It was somewhere in between.

The start time was listed as 7PM sharp, and fool that I am, I believed it. I left at 4:50 for what’s usually a half-hour trip and sat in two solid hours of traffic to get into town, thinking I was pushing it as I walked into the building. Not quite. Neither SET, nor Rozamov, nor half the people volunteering their time to run the gig were there yet. I found a chair and sat in it and killed time on my phone while The Body and Whitehorse loaded in their merch, set up on long tables to my left — The Body with a vinyl collection all their own and a tote bag to put it in and Whitehorse with a limited tape recorded on the other side of the planet in their native Australia. I thought about doing some shopping, refrained. I’d paid for parking already and cash is scarce.

A little over an hour passed before SET went on, shortly after eight. At that point, it was still less than a week since I’d last (and first) seen the Worcester four-piece at The Eye of the Stoned Goat 4 (review here) in their hometown, so although I hardly know their stuff, songs like “Valley of the Stone” and “Sacred Moon Cult” — Tom from Rozamov doing an impromptu guest spot on vocals for the latter — rang familiar nonetheless. They had left one of the Stoned Goat fest’s most favorable impressions, particularly as one of the few acts on that bill I’d never caught before, and Dragon’s Den found them no less impressive, a little more stoned-out than thrashing, maybe, but still with a subtly complex blend of Sleep-y impulse and more metallic tendencies. They’d struck me as a quality band the first time out and they did so again, which is always reassuring.

People were starting to fill up the room. Most of those who’d show up for the show were there by the time Rozamov went on, BYO’ing sixers in brown paper bags for liberal enjoyment on some found-looking furniture in front of the LED lightboard or off in some corner, otherwise standing around, chatting amiably about the shifting of this or that paradigm in the way that young white people do when they’re in it, of it. I flipped through photos and waited for Rozamov, who — also at Stoned Goat (review here) — had demonstrated trio proficiency the weekend prior and whose more brutality-minded metallurgy served as a fitting transition from SET‘s opening push into the two touring acts who’d cap the night.

Also making a highlight of “Famine” from their 2013 Of Gods and Flesh EP, Rozamov rounded out with the same new song that had left a mark the weekend prior, their blend of thrash, sludge and periodic stoner groove hitting like an adjustment of the balances at work in SET‘s aesthetic, both bands using two vocalists to their advantage, guitarist Matt Iacovelli and bassist Tom Corino – who traded out instruments smoothly mid-song after breaking a string — perhaps most effective in driving Rozamov as they worked in tandem screams on the aforementioned closer, drummer Will Hendrix holding a steady, quickened pulse behind. For an evening that held the promise of overwhelming volume, Rozamov fit right in.

My understanding is that Whitehorse were/are in-country to play Maryland Deathfest. So be it. I had missed them at Roadburn, and while I dig The Body, I’ve seen them before, so along with the locals, Whitehorse were what drew me to the show. Playing almost completely in the dark, the Melbourne six-piece unleashed a vicious, molasses-toned barrage of extreme sludge, lurching groove topped with burly growls. Their appeal was as immediate as their rumble, two guitars, bass, noise, drums, vocals all working toward a single goal of sonic annihilation. In decibels and extremity, they were every bit a match for The Body, and their huge, slow-running tones only made the material more consuming. Fucking heavy. Very fucking heavy.

There were three, maybe four photographers taking pictures up front, where I also was, most of them using flashes to do so. I’ll admit I turned mine on to try and get a couple shots as well, it was so dark. About three songs in, impressively-bearded Whitehorse vocalist Peter Hyde pointed to two or three photographers and me — literally, pointed his finger — and said they’d had enough of the flashes, told us we needed to leave so that people who actually wanted to see the show could move forward. It was belittling and humiliating, a first for me, and it felt utterly needless. I’d sat in an awful lot of traffic to show up an hour early for somebody who apparently didn’t want to see the show, and if the flash photography was a problem, an easy fix might’ve been to ask for no more flash. I guess that wouldn’t have been punk rock enough. Melbourne to Boston is a long way to go to make someone feel like an asshole for liking your band.

I bummed out pretty quick and pretty hard, made my way to the back and would’ve headed out the door but for reminding myself of those two hours I’d spent getting to the show, so I stood instead and watched Whitehorse finish and waited for The Body to go on. I took a couple pictures of the Portland-by-way-of-Providence duo, stayed for maybe three songs and then left, feeling mostly like a jerk for having shown up in the first place. Still audible from the ground floor outside the Dragon’s Den building, The Body were delivering the aural punishment that has served as the basis of their well-earned reputation, but any chance I had of being into it had evaporated. I was glad I got to see SET and Rozamov again, Dragon’s Den was a cool space and if I caught wind of another gig there, I’d go. I guess that after the Stoned Goat fest and the Floor show earlier in the week I was behind on my quota of unnecessary bullshit, but whatever. Some you win, some you lose. At least the roads were clear on my way home.

Some more pics of SET and Rozamov after the jump. Thanks for reading.

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Roadburn 2014, Pt. 1: “…This Heart of Mine”

Posted in Features on April 8th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

04.08.14 – 8:42PM Eastern – Tuesday – Logan Airport, Boston, MA 

I knew when the guy behind the Icelandair check-in counter called me “dude” that everything was going to be okay. Actually, the first words out of his mouth when he saw my passport were, “You know about the delay, right?” Yup. Just an hour, though that in combination with the lack of traffic compared to what I thought I’d hit made me absurdly early. Security was a breeze, even carrying a bevvy of electronics. Still no idea how long it takes to get anywhere in Boston.

First to Reykjavik and then to Amsterdam, then to Tilburg. Have been sitting here two hours now and have two more to go until the new takeoff time. I don’t mind. The batteries on everything are charged, including the book I brought, and but for being warm and smelling the mass-produced whathaveyou being served at the restaurant to my left – some name I don’t know – it’s fine. A breeze from somewhere. Is Logan Terminal E big enough for wind?

Remembering travel stuff. Don’t look at anyone too long or they’ll look back. Put the computer in the back with the bottom facing out so that it and the camera can be upright in when the bag is laid down. Lessons already learnt, remembered situationally to no doubt be filed away again soon.

I enjoy people-watching as much as the next pseudo-creative, but it gets disheartening after a while, feeling very apart. In my head I hear cop voices in stern teenager-bound derision: “You think you’re special, son?” It’s the opposite. These people have made it. Front to back, they’re here, they’re in it, they’re human. They’re special. I’d be fooling myself if I thought I could ever do or be that thing. It just wouldn’t work. Some will tell you everybody feels that way, like they’re the muck. Maybe that’s true, but they don’t live it. Existence as an awkward-fitting pantsuit.

But the place I’m going is where it works at least well enough to pretend. To put me back into position of righteousness from which to designate the squares. Not the only congregation anymore, but maybe the most revered. It’ll be a quick few days at Temple Roadburn, but fucking hell I’m ready. Please, please get me there. Get me to no sleep and vicious tone. To the wind pushing on through Weirdo Canyon, the mad stench of the 013 on Saturday night. Get me there. In red block letters at my 12: “REYKJAVIK: Delayed.”

And with this we begin.

 

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Gozu Head to Europe; Tour Starts this Weekend

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 7th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

This week, Boston’s own Gozu fly to Europe to begin a tour that will carry them for the next two weeks from Roadburn to the Desertfest in Berlin. It’s an enviable trip with what’s sure to be extra-righteous beginning and endpoints, and though it will have only been about half a month since I last watched them play, I consider Gozu among my gotta-see Roadburn bands. Why? Because everybody brings it toRoadburn. Tired? Jetlegged? Whatever the circumstances are, if you’re ever gonna kill, you’re gonna kill there. I’m looking forward to it.

Dates and whatnots follow, as dictated by the PR wire:

GOZU: Massachusetts Riff Rockers To Embark Upon First-Ever European Tour; The Fury Of A Patient Man Limited Edition Vinyl Out Now

Massachusetts hellions, GOZU, will take their riffs overseas next week for their first-ever European takeover! Set to begin at the legendary Roadburn Festival, the band will wage a full-on volume ambush through ten select locales in the Netherlands, Germany, Slovenia and Italy, concluding with a performance at Desertfest in Berlin.

GOZU will be touting the fruit of their The Fury Of A Patient Man full-length released last Spring via Small Stone. The self-produced ten track monster earned widespread praise for its Chris Cornellian vocal swells and robust, heavy rock swagger.

A special deluxe edition of The Fury Of A Patient Man was recently released via Small Stone in celebration of the upcoming European journey. Limited to 500 copies, the 2XLP set comes on 180-gram wax with a wide spine jacket, poly-lined sleeve, and two colors – LP one is “clear green” while LP two is “solid purple.” Sides one, two and three feature tracks from the original album, while side four offers up exclusive vinyl-only numbers with one original tune (“Break You”) and GOZUed renditions of Simply Red’s “Holding Back The Years” and D’Angelo’s “Shit, Damn, Motherfucker.”

GOZU Spring Tour 2014:
4/12/2014 Roadburn – Tilburg, NL
4/13/2014 Hafenklang – Hamburg, DE
4/15/2014 Feierwerk – Munich, DE
4/16/2014 Channel Zero – Ljubiljana, SI
4/17/2014 Magnolia – Milano, IT
4/18/2014 E20 Underground – Montecchio, IT
4/19/2014 TBA
4/20/2014 TBA
4/22/2014 Das Bette – Frankfurt, DE
4/23/2014 Musicon – Den Haag, NL
4/24/2014 The Underground – Cologne, DE
4/25/2014 Astra Kulturhaus Desertfest – Berlin, DE

Order the vinyl edition of The Fury Of A Patient Man at THIS LOCATION.

http://www.facebook.com/GOZU666
http://www.smallstone.com

Gozu, The Fury of a Patient Man (2013)

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The Scimitar Premiere “World Unreal” from Debut Album Doomsayer

Posted in audiObelisk on April 3rd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Doomsayer is a fitting title for the forthcoming debut from Boston trio The Scimitar. The band build on the methodologies of Black Pyramid, the trio from which they splintered off last year with bassist Dave Gein and guitarist/vocalist Darryl Shepard picking up drummer Brian Banfield in the process, but craft their own identity as well in the blend of catchy songs and plodding, thudding doom. As a riffer and lead player, Shepard – also of Blackwolfgoat, Milligram, Hackman and too many others to count — sounds right at home on Doomsayer, though it might be the heaviest aesthetic in which he’s yet resided. Black Pyramid‘s 2013 outing, Adversarial (review here), which had Shepard and Gein in the lineup with drummer Clay Neely, is probably the closest comparison point, and Doomsayer is altogether a heavier album. Less bound by the expectations of stepping into someone else’s frontman spot, Shepard flourishes on cuts like “The Taker” and “World Unreal,” and the pummel the trio elicit only lets up on the acoustic interlude “Attrition.”

So it’s heavy in heavy’s element. Fair enough. As the first audio to surface from Doomsayer in its finished mix, “World Unreal” sets up a lot of what works really well about the album, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. In the High on Fire-style thrash of “Babylon,” they heavy-rock-grooving centerpiece take on Motörhead‘s “Metropolis” and the thunder-weighted payoff of closer “Crucifer,” The Scimitar distinguish themselves from Black Pyramid and showcase a songwriting process that’s started from a position of considerable accomplishment and only likely to come further into its own. With lyrics criticizing a conspiracy-minded view of the world — the lines “You’re seeing patterns that don’t exist/You think that everyone’s an enemy” stand out — a steady, rolling groove and metallic undertone in the chorus, “World Unreal” makes a striking introduction to the outlook and heft of Doomsayer, and while the version of the song that I have the pleasure of premiering isn’t mastered, it should still be plenty loud enough to get its point across.

Please enjoy:


Doomsayer was recorded by Glenn Smith at Amps vs. Ohms Studios and mixed by Benny Grotto at Mad Oak. The Scimitar will release Doomsayer in the coming months through Hydro-Phonic Records. Shows are rare, but the trio will take part in the Eye of the Stoned Goat 4 festival, May 3 and 4 at Ralph’s Rock Diner in Worcester, Massachusetts. More info at the links.

The Scimitar on Thee Facebooks

Hydro-Phonic Records

The Eye of the Stoned Goat 4

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Ice Dragon Release New Single “Demons from Hell”

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 24th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Prolific Boston garage-doomers Ice Dragon have issued a new single called “Demons from Hell” in their traditional write-it-record-it-toss-it-out-there fashion. Word arrived last night of the cut, which steps back from some of the psychedelic experimentation of their latest full-length, 2013’s Born a Heavy Morning (review here), and follows in the nastier-riffing footsteps of their prior two-tracker, Steel Veins b/w Queen of the Black Harvest  (discussed here), taking a dark and metallic approach to axe-swinging heaviness.

Like everything they do, “Demons from Hell” was recorded by the band at their home studio, Ron’s Wrecker Service, and in addition to underscoring the breadth of sound they’re able to capture on their own — one probably wouldn’t listen to 2012’s Dream Dragon and think “Demons from Hell” was captured in the same room — the new track drives home just how much the lo-fi production sound has become an essential part of their aesthetic, whether it’s Ron‘s howling vocals or the sharp-edged turns of Joe‘s bass, Brad‘s drums and Carter‘s guitar. When the latter takes a noise-caked solo over steady tom runs, you can practically hear the tape hiss, even on the digital stream.

I don’t know whether or not “Demons from Hell” will be part of Ice Dragon‘s next full-length, which is reportedly in the works, or if its sound portends what that album might sound like — when it comes to these guys, any speculation is just setting yourself up to look dumb later — or if it will receive any kind of physical release to make the most of its Zé Burnay cover art, but it’s a catchy, raw cut that stands well with the band’s earlier outings, three of which are due for release on CD through PRC Music in May (plus Ingot Eye from ultra-bleak side-project Tentacle). As always, the song is available as a pay-what-you-will download from their Bandcamp page.

Enjoy:

Ice Dragon, “Demons from Hell”

Ice Dragon on Bandcamp

Ice Dragon on Thee Facebooks

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On Wax: White Dynomite & Hey Zeus, Split 7″

Posted in On Wax on March 21st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Even as far as 7″s go, the new Mad Oak Records/Wonderdrug Records split between riffy Boston punkers White Dynomite and heavy rock four-piece Hey Zeus is pretty brief. The two cuts included, White Dynomite‘s “Sweet Tooth” and Hey Zeus‘ “Stomach,” are done in under five minutes total, but the alliance of the two bands carries more substance than that might indicate. With members of Roadsaw and Wrecking Crew and Fast Acting Fuses in their lineup, White Dynomite are no slouches when it comes to pedigree. Recently signed to Ripple Music for a reissue of their 2013 self-titled full-length debut, they’ve also added guitarist Jay Fortin (currently of Supermachine, formerly of Scissorfight) to the ranks, and while he doesn’t play on “Sweet Tooth,” his presence is felt on the split anyway since he took the pictures of the bands on each side’s cover and handled the layout of the 7″ package, the liner card for which features a cigar-smoking chimpanzee and the cover(s) of which recall hardcore 7″s of days gone by. Eerily fitting for two bands made up of adults clearly having kid fun playing fast and brash rock and roll.

This split is the recorded debut of Hey Zeus, whose “Stomach” is the longer of the two tracks at just over three minutes. Fortin‘s photo on the cover comes from a show at the now-defunct-should’ve-been-sold-to-me Radio Bar in Somerville last July, a gig at which Hey Zeus shared the stage with The Scimitar and The Brought Low and covered Deep Purple twice (review here). Bassist Ken Cmar is the head of Wonderdrug Records, the logo of which it’s good to see again, guitarist Pete Knipfing and drummer Todd Bowman are veterans of Lamont, and vocalist Bice Nathan recorded “Stomach” at New Alliance Studios, and on the track, Hey Zeus make good on the experience of the players in question to proffer memorable, speedy, hook-minded songwriting. Less riotous than White Dynomite, they’re also tonally thicker — Cmar‘s bass has punch enough that one is tempted to duck — and take some cues from Lamont‘s Southern-on-speed methodology. They are not on swagger, which makes them all the more a match for White Dynomite, whose King Kong-size shenanigans are writ large all over “Sweet Tooth.”

Blink or misplace the needle on your turntable and you’re likely to miss the bass intro from Tim Catz that actually starts “Sweet Tooth” before John Darga‘s guitar and Craig Riggs‘ drums join in. No frills, no bullshit, White Dynomite offer sheer propulsion topped off with the classic punker vocals of Dave Unger. The four-now-fivesome recorded “Sweet Tooth” with Mad Oak StudiosBenny Grotto, and as one would expect the sound is natural and crisp  in just the right balance. For all the chicanery at work in what White Dynomite do, they’re also remarkably tight, the members channeling punk roots and donning white suits as they sprint toward and past whatever one might expect from them based on their other past and current outfits. If you can’t keep up with “Sweet Tooth” the first time, it’s easy enough to put it on again.

Two relatively newcomer acts comprised of veteran players, it’s not much of a surprise White Dynomite and Hey Zeus pair well here, and for both giving a first impression of what Hey Zeus conjure as far as driving riffs and for giving a sample of where White Dynomite are headed coming off their first album into the next stage of their tenure, it’s a 7″ that accomplishes an awful lot in less than five minutes. No substitute for efficiency.

White Dynomite, “Sweet Tooth” simian video

White Dynomite on Thee Facebooks

Wonderdrug Records

Mad Oak Records

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Ice Dragon CD Releases Now Available to Preorder

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 13th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

If I have one regret about my anti-nonphysical media stance, it’s that it probably kept me from checking out Ice Dragon sooner. The Boston-based garage psych doomers will issue three of their earlier works, 2010’s The Burl, the Earth, the Aether, 2011’s The Sorrowful Sun and 2012’s Tome of the Future Ancients on CD via Quebecois imprint PRC Music on May 27, and they’re available now to preorderSeems likely the discs won’t last long upon their release — I don’t know how many of each are being pressed, but Ice Dragon stuff moves quick from what I’ve seen — and though everything the prolific outfit puts out is a name-your-price download at their Bandcamp, for somebody who’d rather hold an album in their hands, this is a chance that doesn’t always come along.

Word from the band and the label’s notes on the records follow:

NEWS ALERT!!! Pre-Orders are up for the cd versions of “The Burl, The Earth, The Aether”, “The Sorrowful Sun”, and “Tome of the Future Ancients” through PRC MUSIC. They’ll be out on 05/27. Heads up and what not. Very psyched for these!

ICE DRAGON The Burl, the earth, the eather CD (PRC27)

This cult Americain doom metal band will finally see its first 3 albums available on CD for the very first time! “The Burl” is a masterpiece of classic Doom Metal. Heavy, Dark, disturbing… think BLACK SABBATH’s very first album on a crash course collision with a slower, noisier ELECTRIC WIZARD and you are pretty close to the perfection that is this seminal debut album. Get this now.

ICE DRAGON The sorrowful sun CD (PRC28)

Once again PRC MUSIC invites you to immerse yourself in pure classical, drug induced, doom metal. From the school of Ozzy-era BLACK SABBATH, this second album is majestic and disturbingly heavy. Here is what INVISIBLE ORANGES had to say about “The sorrowful sun”: “Imagine if Black Sabbath combined their heavy and psychedelic sides – they tended to toggle between those modes rather than combine them – and took even more drugs, and turned everything up into screaming, red-lined peaks. They then came down hard and also wrote pretty acoustic songs – not those bullshit interludes, but real, actual songs.” Enough said. Get this now.

ICE DRAGON Tome of the futur ancients CD (PRC29)

This is PRC MUSIC 3rd re-issue. The battery of torn-paged suspicions and spells this album promotes are surely divined by some great and sinister power. It masterfully blends the witchy metal of Black Sabbath, the crushing curses of Electric Wizard, and the thick dope smoke of Sleep, but it also integrates a phantasmagoria of heavy psych-drone into that formula for an all-together eerier descent into the mouth of ritualistic madness. This is beautiful. Get this now.

http://www.prcmusic.com/store/index.php?route=product%2Fcategory&path=172
http://icedragon.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/icedragonofficial/

Ice Dragon, The Burl, the Earth, the Aether (2010)

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Gozu Announce European Dates; Indiegogo Campaign Launched

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 7th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Gozu have a busy spring planned, between the Small Stone showcases later this month in Boston and Brooklyn and their inaugural European tour, which includes slots at Roadburn and Desertfest in Berlin. Couple that with a vinyl release for 2013’s stellar The Fury of a Patient Man (review here) which includes no fewer than three bonus tracks, and it’s a hell of a lot for the Boston four-piece to take on. To help with expenses, they’ve started an Indiegogo campaign to allow supporters to, well, support them as they make their way across the capital-C continent. There are a smattering of cool rewards as well, up to and including spending time in the studio as they record their next album (sounds good to me), signed vinyl, a guitar lesson from Doug Sherman and more.

Check it all out here: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/gozu-european-tour-2014

Guitarist/vocalist Marc Gaffney smooth-talks his way into hearts and wallets alike in the video below, and if the style of the following PR wire info on the tour looks familiar, it’s because I wrote it.

Have at you:

GOZU Announce European Touring; Confirmed for Roadburn & Desertfest Berlin

The Fury of a Patient Man Vinyl Release Coming

Boston’s GOZU will be making their first trip to Europe this Spring, supporting their 2013 Small Stone release, The Fury of a Patient Man. The four-piece, who recently added drummer Mike Hubbard (ex-Warhorse) to their lineup, are slated to appear at April 12 at Roadburn 2014 in Tilburg, the Netherlands, and at Desertfest Berlin on April 15.

To mark the occasion(s), the band will release a limited 2LP edition of The Fury of a Patient Man through Small Stone and Germany’s Cargo Records, with 500 copies pressed and vinyl-exclusive tracks, including covers of Simple Red and D’Angelo. The LPs will be 180g vinyl and should be out in March.

Before they head overseas, GOZU will play two Small Stone showcases in Cambridge and Brooklyn, joining labelmates Roadsaw, Lo-Pan, Wo Fat, Neon Warship and others at The Middle East and the Saint Vitus Bar on March 28 and 29, respectively. All confirmed dates follow:

GOZU Tour Dates:
03/28 Cambridge, MA, The Middle East w/ Mellow Bravo, Wo Fat, Lo-Pan, Roadsaw, Neon Warship
03/29 Brooklyn, NY, Saint Vitus Bar w/ Wo Fat, Lo-Pan, Roadsaw, Neon Warship, Geezer
04/12 Tilburg, Netherlands, 013, Roadburn Festival
04/13 Hamburg, Germany, Hafenklang
04/14 Germany, TBA
04/15 Munich, Germany, Feierwerk
04/16 Ljubiljana, Slovenia, Channel Zero
04/17 Milano, Italy, TBA
04/18 Montecchio, Italy, E20 Underground
04/19 Italy, TBA
04/20 CH, TBA
04/22 Frankfurt, Germany, Das Bett
04/23 Germany, TBA
04/24 Cologne, Germany, Underground
04/25 Berlin, Germany, Astra Kulturhaus, Desertfest 2014

GOZU lineup:
Marc Gaffney: vocals/guitar
Joe Grotto: bass
Mike Hubbard: drums
Doug Sherman: guitar

http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/gozu-european-tour-2014
https://www.facebook.com/GOZU666
http://gozu.bandcamp.com/
http://www.last.fm/music/Gozu
http://www.reverbnation.com/gozu666
http://www.smallstone.com/
http://smallstone.bandcamp.com/

Gozu Indiegogo Campaign Video

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White Dynomite Sign to Ripple Music; Jay Fortin Joins on Guitar

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 3rd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Here comes shenanigans. Boston heavy punkers White Dynomite released their self-titled rager last year and have signed a deal to have Ripple Music deliver a vinyl version late this Spring. It’s the kind of record you listen to and have a hangover afterwards, as White Dynomite dress to kill and live up to the wardrobe. Squares be damned, the outfit — which already included Tim Catz and Craig Riggs of Roadsaw in addition to vocalist Dave Unger (Antler) and guitarist John Darga (Wrecking Crew) — have added former Scissorfight and current Supermachine six-stringer Jay Fortin on second guitar. His hollow-body gold-trim Gretsch is going to go really well with that suit.

I’m a little behind on the news, which came out last week while I was gone, but here’s word off the PR wire about the vinyl and the band’s video for the song “White Dynomite,” which is about as exemplary an intro as you can get. Dig it:

WHITE DYNOMITE sign with RIPPLE MUSIC!

Boston’s “punk soul explosion” WHITE DYNOMITE have announced their signing with California-based label Ripple Music and the addition of a second guitarist.

Hard rock label Ripple Music, known for their excellent taste and quality of heavy rock music, have signed the super group and will re-release White Dynomite’s debut album in late spring of 2014. Pressed on white vinyl and including extra tracks, this dose of motor-punk soul will be an instant must-have for music fans who like it hard, fast-n-loud. White Dynomite have also officially announced the addition of Jay Fortin to the band. The ex-Scissorfight guitarist joins an already-heavy, veteran line up that includes former members of Roadsaw, Wrecking Crew and Fast Acting Fuses. With this twin-guitar front line in place, the group promises to pack more action than previously thought possible.

More details on the upcoming debut by White Dynomite to come this spring!

Find out more about the band at:

www.facebook.com/WhiteDynomiteBoston
www.ripple-music.com

White Dynomite, “White Dynomite” official video

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Cortez and Borracho to Release Split 7″ April 1

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 12th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Obviously the gag here is “no foolin’,” right? Well there it is. On April 1, Cortez and Borracho are set to pull a fast one on the universe. The Boston and D.C. natives have teamed up for a new split single on AM Records. For Cortez, this will be the first new material to come from the band since the 2012 release of their self-titled debut full-length (review here) and their first outing to feature their current five-piece lineup, whereas the riff-riding trio Borracho seem to be wasting no time in continuing the momentum of 2013’s sophomore outing, Oculus (review here), which was one of last year’s best records. Both bands contribute one song — Cortez has “Vanishing Point” while Borracho offers “Know My Name” — and the vinyl will be pressed in an edition of 500 in black as well as translucent purple or green.

“Vanishing Point” brings a different balance for Cortez‘s sound. Adding another player will do that, I suppose, but even more than just having Alasdair Swan‘s guitar to give Scott O’Dowd room to stretch out lead-wise — note that bassist Jay Furlo matches him note for note in the pre-solo lead section — the two seem to trade off before coming together for some quick harmonies before getting back to the motor-push of the verse, punctuated by Jeremy “How’s Your Elbow?” Hemond‘s snare and given an apex in large part thanks to his fills. The shift in overall feel can be heard too in Matt Harrington‘s vocals, which come through deeper in the mix than on the self-titled, given a sense of space through present-but-not-overdone reverb.

As Borracho continue to establish themselves as a trio, they seem to be doing so at the expense of no fullness of sound. Their “Know My Name” is just about a full minute longer than Cortez‘s track at 4:40, but that’s still pretty short for the three-piece overall. Either way, the time is well spent. Over an oozingly thick, rolling groove in Tim Martin‘s bass and Mario Trubiano‘s drums — not to mention his own guitar — vocalist Steve Fisher seems to be more confident in his approach, switching from cleaner verses to a throatier, gruff take for the chorus. A descending transition is put to good use, and as ever, Borracho sound right at home dug into a steady middle pace that shows off the meat of their tones. They make a good match for the speedier work of Cortez.

Both bands have a slew of notable appearances coming up. Cortez will play the lead-in spot for the Sixty Watt Shaman reunion at The Eye of the Stoned Goat 4 (info here) this May, whereas Borracho head to Desertfest London in late April (info here). The split will be out by then, but it’s available now too to preorder through Cortez‘s Bandcamp and Borracho‘s Bandcamp both, as well as AM Records‘ Bandcamp. A little friendly competition never hurt. It’s also streaming at either page and on the player below. Enjoy:

Cortez & Borracho, Vanishing Point/Know My Name Split 7″

Cortez on Bandcamp

Borracho on Bandcamp

AM Records on Bandcamp

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Duuude, Tapes! Space Mushroom Fuzz, Back from the Past

Posted in Duuude, Tapes! on January 30th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Exploratory heavy rockers Space Mushroom Fuzz may have decided to call their second tape boxed set Back from the Past, but it’s actually comprised of some of their most recent material. The prolific Boston space/jam/heavy rockers led by Adam Abrams (also Blue Aside) self-released four full-lengths last year between April and December, and all four — Man in the Shadow (April), A Possible Paradox (August), Stealing Some Time (November) and Burning the Almanac (December) — are gathered here, pressed DIY in an edition of only 20 copies (I got number 4, as I hope everyone does who winds up with one) and sold on the cheap for $8 through Space Mushroom Fuzz‘s Bandcamp. At two bucks an album, it seems fair to call Back from the Past a bargain even before one actually cracks it open and listens to the music, which upon play shows development over the course of the year and the band from the jammy sensibilities of their older material to a kind of garage space rock, Abrams a steady presence on guitar and vocals, as well as periodically working on drums and bass despite being joined in those roles by Clay Neely (Black Pyramid) and John Belcastro on drums, Scott Levine on bass for Burning the Almanac, and for a couple songs, Steve Melanson on saxophone.

More than anything, the mission of Space Mushroom Fuzz seems to be to weird out and have a good time. I can dig that. A studio project, that they’d have a slew of releases isn’t necessarily much of a surprise, and that there’s a glut of material doesn’t seem to take away from any kind of completeness in the songs — that is, sometimes when I band is geared toward putting out a lot of stuff, things can get rushed so they can move onto the next project. Abrams as the driving force of Space Mushroom Fuzz allows songs to develop to a natural point across these four albums, so that the layers of effects in “Gallopie” and “Wreckage” from Stealing Some Time are as much a part of the atmosphere as the root riffs and verses (at least verses in the case of the latter, since “Gallopie” is instrumental). In addition, I don’t know if it’s just because there’s so much of it all right next to each other, but it’s easy enough to read a sonic clarity coming into focus from one side of the tape to the next. The albums are positioned such that side one of tape one is the oldest album, Man in the Shadow — still less than a year old — and it runs through so that side two of tape two is the newest, Burning the Almanac. Finding a narrative arc there isn’t hard, and by the time Burning the Almanac comes around and Levine has joined his bass with Abrams‘ guitar and Belcastro‘s drums, Space Mushroom Fuzz sound that much more like the full band they’ve become.

That seems to be something the band acknowledge themselves on Burning the Almanac opener “The Cosmic Evolution,” though if I’m to be completely honest, I’ll say it’s an evaluation I made after hearing the digital version of that record, because when I flipped the tape over to listen to side two for the first time, my player promptly made a feast of it. Technical difficulties on my part notwithstanding, Space Mushroom Fuzz continue to be somewhat elusive as an act, working around a center of space rock that’s off-center and feeling its way through an ongoing progression even as it results in more and more recorded output, but in cases like Back from the Past, it’s interesting to have them step aside from time to time and take a look at what they’ve done. Their prior tape set, Seeing Double (review here), worked similarly if not as expansively, and the compilation format suits the project. As a lead player and the figure devising these songs and directing their progression, Abrams presents a gleefully strange take on psychedelia, weaving into and through convention en route to something decidedly and purposefully different. One might expect Space Mushroom Fuzz to lead with their newest work and move backwards from there, but listening to it front-to-back, their being counterintuitive seems to be part of the fun.

Space Mushroom Fuzz, Back from the Past (Dec. 2013)

Space Mushroom Fuzz on Thee Facebooks

Space Mushroom Fuzz on Bandcamp

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