audiObelisk: Caltrop Premiere “Blessed” From Ten Million Years and Eight Minutes

Posted in audiObelisk on March 9th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

It feels like cheating somehow to post the song “Blessed” from North Carolinian foursome Caltrop‘s new album, Ten Million Years and Eight Minutes. I almost want to put out a spoiler alert with it — WARNING: THIS SONG CONTAINS AN ALBUM-DEFINING APEX.

Maybe that’s not the kind of thing that would fit on a government warning label, but it certainly applies to “Blessed,” which is the penultimate track on Caltrop‘s second full-length for Holidays for Quince Records. Like the rest of the tracks, it follows a blindingly creative direction that never lets go of its immediacy or tonal warmth, but really, to pick one song to premiere that represents Ten Million Years and Eight Minutes as a whole is impossible. The record is too varied, too progressively structured and too engaging as a single work to be so easily parsed.

So I picked what, to me, most feels like the culmination of it. We start off with winding, jazzy fuzz, but soon Caltrop — guitarist/vocalist Sam Taylor, bassist/vocalist Murat Dirlik (who also painted the butterflynoceros on the album cover), guitarist Adam Nolton, and drummer John Crouch — veer into the song’s proggy crux. Other parts of the record feel more informed by the band’s time on the road alongside Brooklyn post-metallers Hull, in what they’re playing more than how it actually sounds, but “Blessed” balances the same kind of tonal sweetness that made 2008′s World Class such a joy with neo-Southern lead work and an overarching build that sweeps you into it before you even realize you’re gone.

And then the warning above applies. “Blessed” has forward motion so subtle but so effective, I couldn’t help pick it to stream, and I hope you’ll agree when you enjoy it on the player below:

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Ten Million Years and Eight Minutes was recorded and mixed by Nick Petersen in Chapel Hill, NC, and mastered by James Plotkin. The album will be available April 3 as a CD or download and can be pre-ordered through Holidays for Quince here. For more info, check out the band on Thee Facebooks or hit up their website.

Caltrop on tour:

04/12 Charleston, SC Tin Roof
04/14 Charlotte, NC Snug Harbor
04/20 Brooklyn, NY St. Vitus w/ Hull
04/21 Richmond, VA Strange Matter “Year of Shit III”
05/19 Asheville, NC The Get Down
05/22 Harrisonburg, VA Blue Nile
05/23 Pittsburgh, PA 31st Street Pub
05/24 Columbus, OH Carabar

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audiObelisk: Black Skies Premiere New Song From Upcoming Album

Posted in audiObelisk on May 12th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster

What’s that you say? You didn’t even realize North Carolinian trio Black Skies were recording a new album? Well, that just goes to show you how new this shit is. Information is minimal. I don’t yet know when this is coming out, or on what label, but the full-length is called On the Wings of Time, and it was recorded by Kyle Spence of Georgian avant doomers Harvey Milk.

You can hear that in the song, which is called “Valley of the Kings.” It has that high-ceiling-room sound in the drums that Harvey Milk make the most of on their own offerings, and a raw but still distinguished feel. Guitarist/vocalist Kevin Clark would seem to be in the lead across the track’s formidable nine-minutes, but that’s not at all to discount the groove that bassist/vocalist Michelle Temple and drummer Tim Herzog inject into the latter half’s long instrumental finale.

I’d go on, but I’m sure I’ll have more about On the Wings of Time to come, so here’s the song, followed by Black Skies‘ latest batch of tour dates. What an amazing coincidence that the tour kicks off tonight! You’d think these things were planned in advance or something…

Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!

Black Skies Live – May/June 2011:
05/12 The Milestone Charlotte, NC w/ Trade, Towering Pyre
05/13 The Crayola House Harrisonburg, VA w/ Backwoods Payback, Earthling, Trade
05/14 Strange Matter Richmond, VA w/ Backwoods Payback
05/15 Mojo Main Newark, DE w/ Backwoods Payback, Holy Dirt, Bubonic Bear
05/16 AS220 Providence, RI w/ Woozy, She Rides, Villainer
05/17 O’Brien’s Boston, MA w/ Phantom Glue, The Proselyte, Jack Burton vs David Lopan
05/18 Flask Lounge Portland, ME
05/19 Elm Bar New Haven, CT w/ Atrina
05/20 Acheron Brooklyn, NY
05/21 31st Street Pub Pittsburgh, PA w/ Rogue Vessel, Oktober
05/22 Carabar Columbus, OH w/ Prosanctus Inferi, Witchaven, Nocturnal, Locusta
05/23 The Green Lantern Lexington, KY w/ Stampede, Below
05/24 Southgate House Indianapolis, IN w/ Mala In Se, New Third Worlds
05/25 The Pilot Light Knoxville, KY w/ US Christmas, Generation of Vipers
05/26 The Get Down Asheville, NC w/ US Christmas, Generation of Vipers, Caltrop
05/27 King’s Raleigh, NC w/ US Christmas, Caltrop, Royal Thunder
05/28 Will’s Pub Orlando, FL w/ Caltrop, Royal Thunder, Druid Lord, Junior Bruce
05/29 C-Level Panama City Beach, FL w/ Caltrop, Royal Thunder, Death Before Dying
05/30 Siberia NOLA w/ Caltrop, Royal Thunder
05/31 Hi-Tone Memphis, TN w/ Caltrop, Royal Thunder
06/01 The Nick Birmingham, AL w/ Caltrop, Royal Thunder
06/02 529 Atlanta, GA w/ Caltrop, Royal Thunder, Sons of Tonatiuh
06/03 Caledonia Lounge Athens, GA w/ Caltrop
06/04 The Jinx Savannah, GA w/ Caltrop

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Black Skies to Play a Bunch of Dates, with a Bunch of Bands

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 25th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster

Because there’s roughly no money to be made on the road or anywhere else for that matter, longer tours are a rarity, so to see a band like North Carolinian outfit Black Skies hitting the road as hard as they are — before their album is even out — is encouraging. And they’re playing with some killer acts as well, so make sure you check out the slew of dates below and if they’re going to be where you are, show up and buy something. Hell, you know the drill by now.

If it’s news, it’s gotta be the PR wire:

Heavy North Carolina trio, Black Skies, are pleased to announce a near-month long US tour set to commence on May 12 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The trek will steamroll it’s way through 22 cities – including several East Coast locales they’ve yet to play — before drawing to a ceremonious close in Savannah, Georgia.

Said guitarist/vocalist Kevin Clark of the upcoming bout of live dates: “We are extremely pleased to be spending some time playing across the Eastern part of the country. The last several tours required us to make our way West as quickly as possible due to time constraints, so we haven’t been to some of the places we will be hitting on this tour in far too long. We are also thrilled to spend a good portion of the trek with some of our favorite bands and people: Backwoods Payback, Caltrop, Royal Thunder, and US Christmas. We hope to have a few more songs ready to go for this trip as well. Tim had just joined the band before the last tour — we literally had four rehearsals together before leaving on tour for a month — so we were limited to the same set pretty much every night. Since then, we’ve had time to rework some of those songs and write a few new ones. This will allow us to keep things fresh and interesting, while also being able to play songs we feel would be more appropriate to the audience’s energy at any given show.”

The band — Clark, Tim Herzog (drums) and Michelle Temple (bass, vocals, booking) — will be touring in support of their soon-to-be-issued new full-length, On the Wings of Time. The follow-up to 2008′s Hexagon EP, On the Wings of Time was recorded, produced and mastered by Harvey Milk‘s Kyle Spence at his own RJS studios in Athens, Georgia.

Black Skies Live – May/June 2011:
05/12 The Milestone Charlotte, NC w/ Trade, Towering Pyre
05/13 The Crayola House Harrisonburg, VA w/ Backwoods Payback, Earthling, Trade
05/14 Strange Matter Richmond, VA w/ Backwoods Payback
05/15 Mojo Main Newark, DE w/ Backwoods Payback, Holy Dirt, Bubonic Bear
05/16 AS220 Providence, RI w/ Woozy, She Rides, Villainer
05/17 O’Brien’s Boston, MA w/ Phantom Glue, The Proselyte, Jack Burton vs David Lopan
05/18 Flask Lounge Portland, ME
05/19 Elm Bar New Haven, CT w/ Atrina
05/20 Acheron Brooklyn, NY
05/21 31st Street Pub Pittsburgh, PA w/ Rogue Vessel, Oktober
05/22 Carabar Columbus, OH w/ Prosanctus Inferi, Witchaven, Nocturnal, Locusta
05/23 The Green Lantern Lexington, KY w/ Stampede, Below
05/24 Southgate House Indianapolis, IN w/ Mala In Se, New Third Worlds
05/25 The Pilot Light Knoxville, KY w/ US Christmas, Generation of Vipers
05/26 The Get Down Asheville, NC w/ US Christmas, Generation of Vipers, Caltrop
05/27 King’s Raleigh, NC w/ US Christmas, Caltrop, Royal Thunder
05/28 Will’s Pub Orlando, FL w/ Caltrop, Royal Thunder, Druid Lord, Junior Bruce
05/29 C-Level Panama City Beach, FL w/ Caltrop, Royal Thunder, Death Before Dying
05/30 Siberia NOLA w/ Caltrop, Royal Thunder
05/31 Hi-Tone Memphis, TN w/ Caltrop, Royal Thunder
06/01 The Nick Birmingham, AL w/ Caltrop, Royal Thunder
06/02 529 Atlanta, GA w/ Caltrop, Royal Thunder, Sons of Tonatiuh
06/03 Caledonia Lounge Athens, GA w/ Caltrop
06/04 The Jinx Savannah, GA w/ Caltrop

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Buried Treasure: Classy, Classy Caltrop

Posted in Buried Treasure on April 8th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster

Probably five years ago, a standard yellow padded envelope came across my desk with an elaborate predatory bird drawn on it in red permanent marker. I liked the drawing so much that I kept the envelope and still have it. Of course, it helped that Caltrop‘s 2006 demo, which was contained inside, was killer. The band struck a dirty blues-based sludgy note without going overboard in terms of the aggression, and I still take out that demo every now and then and listen to it.

I even included a track in the all-Southern podcast a couple months back, if you want proof.

In the intervening years between then and now, the Chapel Hill, North Carolina, four-piece released their first full-length, World Class, through local imprint Holidays for Quince Records. That was 2008, and though I don’t really have any excuse for doing so, I completely missed the boat on the record. Hey, it happens.

I had planned on picking up World Class when Caltrop played Webster Hall in NYC with Batillus and Hull as the two closed out their tour together at the end of last month, but real life intervened in the form of homework and I didn’t get there. Nonetheless, enough was enough when it came to not owning the album. I dialed up Caltrop‘s website to see if they had a copy for sale, and when they didn’t, I went next to the label. Lo and behold, the package came in Wednesday’s mail.

The sweet Hendrixian fuzz of “Bloodroot” makes World Class worth the $12 I paid for it anyway, but there’s something humble about the vocals too. It’s the same quality that made Pennsylvania‘s Pearls and Brass such a delight to listen to when they were together. It’s folkish and rural, swampy and humid-sounding, but still edgy and better suited to the music than you might think. There’s no pretense in what Caltrop does to being sludge, or stoner, or whatever. They just play the heavy tones they want to hear. That comes through on World Class, and so, the record every bit lives up to its name.

Only shame about the whole thing is that I’m three years late on the album, but if you head over to the Caltrop page on Facebook, it looks like they recently did some recording, so maybe I’ll get my chance to be more timely sometime before 2011′s out. Either way, now that I know what I’ve been missing, I’ll be sure it doesn’t happen again.

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Horseback, The Invisible Mountain: Godspeed You! Black Metal

Posted in Reviews on August 3rd, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster

With their issue of Horseback’s The Invisible Mountain full-length, Relapse gets a shot at exposing a vital and relative newcomer to a wider audience. First released through Utech Records last year, The Invisible Mountain is a stylistic amalgamation pulled off with striking poise by Horseback, the band moniker taken on by Chapel Hill, North Carolina, artist Jenks Miller, who combines ambient drone and the occasional bout of stoner riffing with harsh black metal vocals. The Invisible Mountain is Horseback’s second full-length (Miller also releases material under his own name), and with four tracks all over six minutes long, it’s an album that takes its time unfolding but has a sense of immediacy nonetheless.

In many ways, it’s saved by the mix. Were Miller’s vocals not relatively buried and were the ambient guitar layers not brought to the fore, The Invisible Mountain would be completely intolerable. As it is, fans of Grails and post-metal types will find plenty to latch onto with Horseback. I wouldn’t go as far as to call the music experimental, because Miller isn’t really doing anything that hasn’t been done in any of the styles he’s toying with and melding, but on a conceptual level, Horseback could be breaking new ground. Opener “Invokation” doesn’t seem to be anything special, just a doomy riffer with some thick bottom end and rolling drums, but when Miller comes in with the vocals, it gets obvious real quick that Horseback isn’t just another post-doom outfit. Think darker Wino guitars with Attila Csihar singing over them and you’ll have some idea of where “Invokation” is going.

Read more »

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Black Skies Headed West

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 10th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster

Apparently Black Skies released an EP called Hexagon last year through I’m Better Than Everyone Records on vinyl only, which explains why I never heard it. Nonetheless, the Chapel Hill natives are headed out on tour and it seems the very least I can do to post the dates. Just because you have no idea who they are doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go see them. Live a little. Check out their MySpace if you have to be prepared for everything.

This just off the PR wire:

North Carolina disciples of doom, Black Skies, are set to embark on a US tour throughout the month of July. Founding members Kevin Clark and Michelle Temple will be joined by ex-Des Ark drummer/Kevin’s former roommate Tim Herzog. Black Skies‘ new material retains the heaviness of their earlier work, with more dynamic song structures and a psychedelic edge creating a more interesting overall sound. Following the tour, the band will begin preparations for recording what they hope to be their best release to date.

Says guitarist Kevin Clark of the upcoming trek: “We’ve had our share of ups and downs over the past 12 months, but getting out West last year was without a doubt one of the better moments. We are thrilled to be heading out there again this summer, seeing the faces and places that made it such a blast. We played with a lot of great bands and met a lot of awesome souls with a true love and hunger for music. Those people are a big part of the drive for us to continue doing what we love to do, and we are eternally grateful for them.”

Black Skies tour dates:
6/27/2010 Local 506Chapel Hill, NC (pre-tour kick off show)
7/01/2010 The Smiling MoosePittsburgh, PA

7/02/2010 The SummitColumbus, OH

7/03/2010 Cobra LoungeChicago, IL
7/04/2010 The FrequencyMadison, WI
7/05/2010 Blue Moose Tap HouseIowa City, IA

7/06/2010 TBA – Lincoln, NE

7/07/2010 3 Kings TavernDenver, CO

7/08/2010 Burt’s Tiki LoungeSalt Lake City, UT

7/09/2010 Rocky CanyonBoise, ID

7/10/2010 The CometSeattle, WA

7/11/2010 RotturePortland, OR

7/12/2010 TBA – Ashland, OR

7/13/2010 The Hemlock TavernSan Francisco, CA

7/14/2010 The Stork ClubOakland, CA

7/15/2010 TBA – Cayucos, CA

7/16/2010 Relax BarLos Angeles, CA

7/17/2010 The Rogue BarScottsdale, AZ

7/18/2010 Rio Grande Satanical GardensAlbuquerque, NM

7/19/2010 TBA – Oklahoma City, OK

7/20/2010 Red 7Austin, TX

7/21/2010 TBA – New Orleans, LA

7/22/2010 The NickBirmingham, AL

7/23/2010 The Buccaneer LoungeMemphis, TN

7/24/2010 Springwater Supper ClubNashville, TN

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