Review & Full Album Stream: Mouth, Floating

Posted in Reviews on March 20th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

mouth floating

[Click play above to stream Floating by Mouth in its entirety. Album is out March 23 on Tonzonen Records and available to preorder here.]

Looking at the cover art, would it be a shock to learn that Mouth‘s third album and Tonzonen Records debut, Floating, is both colorful and self-aware? Hopefully not. The Cologne, Germany-based progressive rock trio — Chris Koller on vocals, guitars, keys and production, Gerald Kirsch on bass, Nick Mavridis on dums and more keys — have put together Floating on a quick turnaround from their 2017 sophomore outing, Vortex (review here), and with the soft release of Live ’71 (review here) between the two studio outings, it seems the three-piece have committed themselves at least for the time being to a prolific rate of output.

Nothing to complain about there. It’s always more difficult to chart a band’s growth with a short time split from one record to the next, but Mouth have made that process relatively simple by pushing their sound backward in time. One imagines that if utterly manageable eight-song/34-minute Floating were to receive a companion live offering like Vortex before it, it might be Live ’69 instead of Live ’71, and sound-wise that’s a marked difference. Where the prior album was lush in its melodies, patient and ready at a moment’s notice to veer into post-King Crimson serenities — nothing against that whatsoever — Floating is by and large more psychedelically influenced; proto-progressive instead of classically progressive. And even though it picks up right where Vortex left off, with the intro “Floating (Reprise)” reviving — or, you know, reprising — the capstone of the album prior, which was the 16-minute, sitar-laced “Epilogue,” it’s telling that here it features for less than three minutes before Mouth move onto the even-less patient “Madbeth.”

An outlier for sure, “Madbeth” almost reminds of something ’90s weirdos Ween would come up with, but even in that it remains decidedly progressive in its catchy, bizarre shuffle and sneering vocals. The subsequent organ-say-hello-to-wah drifter “Homagotago” — a Can reference? — comes across like an exploratory jam led by its layered in guitar solo, but clearly there’s a trajectory being followed. The mix of Floating‘s longest track (at nine minutes) is given depth through the organ and other backing synth, and bass and drums seem to hold together a progression that otherwise would simply melt into lysergic goo.

Already in the first three tracks, Mouth have given three distinctly different vibes, but fortunately for anyone who might take the heady but not unwelcoming album on, their command over their sound is steady no matter where they head. Completely instrumental, “Homagotago” is given a bit of funk bounce as it crossed its midpoint, but it doesn’t last, and instead the three-piece push through something of an understated crescendo and finish with the keys and synth sort of drifting off into the unknown. What I’ll assume is the side A closer, “Reversed” is more grounded in a proto-prog hook with layers of swirl backing its vibe-heavy naturalism and blend of acoustic and electric guitars, keys melded in with a tambourine and subtle, relaxed boogie. There’s something garage-style about Floating‘s affect overall, but it’s hard to pinpoint that in moments perhaps outside the pre-punk rhythm-making of “Madbeth” or perhaps “Distance” still to come, but it might just be in the record’s more concise presentation.

mouth

Granted, not everything on Vortex was 16 minutes long, but even as side B starts out with the instrumental “Sunrise,” its five-minute stretch seems to be efficiently-enough constructed to make its atmospheric statement without delving overly into self-indulgence or leaving the listener behind on its molten psychedelic journey into far-out far out reaches. Again, Koller‘s guitar is the leading element, but Mavridis‘ drums — dry in their production in a classic heavy rock fashion — are no less essential than the organ that fleshes out the overarching sense of melody. Side B moves from “Sunrise” to closer “Sunset,” and in between, the shorter “Distance” (3:05) and “O.T.B. Field” (2:55) work respectively to add to the scope of Floating overall and revive its sense of movement ahead of “Sunset,” which follows.

“Distance” is of particular note, as it essentially breaks in hal just before about 90 seconds in, leaving its verse/chorus approach behind in favor of peaceful drone and acoustic interplay that’s drifting and immersive in kind until it cuts short into the boogie of “O.T.B. Field,” which like “Madbeth” before it feels wilful in its weirdness and more geared toward catchiness than some of the other material surrounding — “Distance” before it and “Sunset” after, for example. The finale of Floating begins, suitably enough, with organ and guitar in back and forth conversation, and is soon enough backed by a funky drum beat similar to but perhaps not exactly the same as that which featured on “Sunrise.” At just under five minutes long, it builds in tempo and volume over its constant organ line until it just kind of comes apart and the drums announce its finish, cutting everything off cold.

The bookends on side B give Floating‘s second half the impression of being an album unto itself — as though the entire album were a 2LP condensed into a single platter — but if one is listening in a linear format (CD, digital), there’s no lack of flow from front to back. As it turns out, Floating was put together over the course of three years of recording between 2012 and 2015, so it’s hard to say what it stands for in terms of the overarching growth of the band, but Mouth have used these manifestations of disparate songwriting impulses to conjure a sense of wholeness and realization that makes Floating work well as a singular entity.

Does that mean they’ll have another record out in 2019? I have no idea whatsoever, but if they’re as committed to momentum as they seem to be — which is particularly fascinating given that they were founded in 2000, didn’t release their first album until 2009 and didn’t follow that up until last year — then anything’s possible and they make it fun to imagine where they might take their sound next, forward or backward in time, or perhaps out of it entirely.

Mouth on Thee Facebooks

Mouth on Bandcamp

Mouth on Soundcloud

Tonzonen Records on Thee Facebooks

Tonzonen Records on Instagram

Tonzonen Records website

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Mouth to Release Floating March 23

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 20th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

mouth

Despite its funky start-stop verse riff and unabashed hook, the new streaming track from German trio Mouth remains decidedly progressive. “Madbeth” features on the Cologne outfit’s forthcoming third album and debut on Tonzonen RecordsFloating, which is set to release on March 23 as the follow-up to the band’s 2017 sophomore outing, Vortex (review here). In the interim — not that it’s much of an interim, particularly in comparison to the eight years between their ’09 debut, Rhizome, and the second record — Mouth also issued the sort-of-self-bootleg Live ’71 (review here), which captured their classic sound in raw form.

Hard not to dig this artwork and I’m not saying I’ve heard it yet or anything, but it’s just has hard not to dig the record itself. March 23 is the release date. I’ll hope to have more on it before then.

To the PR wire:

mouth floating

MOUTH are back with new album “Floating”

Release date: 23/03/2018

After Rhizome (2009, BluNoise Records) and Vortex (2017, BluNoise Records) the trio Mouth releases their new album titled Floating in early March via Tonzonen Records!

Floating sounds very different to the previous album Vortex. It’s a bit like the “downside up” or the sarcastic happy contrast to the vortex world.

Mouth were formed in Cologne, Germany in 2000 as a trio, comprised of Christian Koller (vocals, guitars, occasional keyboards), Gerald Kirsch (bass) and Nick Mavridis (drums, backing vocals, keyboards). Indeed, their style is often cited as a mixture of ‘retro prog’, Krautrock, hard rock, psyche and glam rock – all together it fuses into a unique spleen often underlined with dystopian themes.

After Rhizome (2009, BluNoise Records) and Vortex (2017, BluNoise Records) the trio releases their new album Floating on Tonzonen Records. Floating sounds very different to the previous album Vortex. It?s a bit like the “downside up” or the sarcastic happy contrast to the vortex world.

Floating (reprise) is the opening track and it was also the hidden track on Vortex. It perfectly fits as a bridge to connect both albums. Also the themes are still connected to the loose vortex narrative. Madbeth and Reversed are ironic songs about mad leaders. Distance was basically intended to open the Vortex album and O.T.B.Field is also referring to March Of The Clopes and Into The Light from the Vortex album. The instrumentals (Homagotago / Sunrise / Sunset) are basically Krautrock inspired jams picking up the spirit of the old days.

Tracklist
1. Floating (Reprise)
2. Madbeth
3. Homagotago
4. Reversed
5. Sunrise
6. Distance
7. O.T.B. Field
8. Sunset

https://www.facebook.com/mouthsound/
https://mouthprog.bandcamp.com/
http://www.soundcloud.com/mouthprog
https://www.facebook.com/Tonzonen/
https://www.instagram.com/tonzonenrecords/
https://www.tonzonen.de

Mouth, “Madbeth”

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Quarterly Review: Wolves in the Throne Room, Gravy Jones, Marmora, Mouth, Les Lekin, Leather Lung, Torso, Jim Healey, Daxma, The Re-Stoned

Posted in Reviews on January 9th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Lodewijk de Vadder (1605-1655) - 17th Century Etching, Landscape with Two Farms

The Obelisk’s Quarterly Review continues today with day two of five. I don’t mind telling you — in fact I’m pretty happy to tell you — that this one’s all over the place. Black metal, post-metal, singer-songwriter stuff, psych jams, heavy rock. I feel like I’ve had to go to great pains not to use the word “weird” like 17 times. But I guess that’s what’s doing it for me these days. The universe has plenty of riffs. All the better when they start doing something different or new or even just a little strange. I think, anyhow. Alright, enough lollygagging. Time to dive in.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Wolves in the Throne Room, Thrice Woven

wolves in the throne room thrice woven

True, it’s something of a cliché when it comes to Wolves in the Throne Room to think of their work as “an awaited return,” and perhaps that speaks to the level of anticipation with which their outings are greeted generally. Nonetheless, Thrice Woven arrives via the band’s own Artemisia Records six years after Celestial Lineage, their last proper full-length, and three after its companion, Celestite (review here), so the five-track/42-minute offering from the USBM innovators is legitimately due. The Washington-based troupe’s black-metal-of-the-land remains heavily focused on atmosphere, with a sharp, experimental-feeling turn to ambience and melody in opener “Born from the Serpent’s Eye” and the later drone interlude “Mother Owl, Father Ocean” that precedes the rampaging closer “Fires Roar in the Palace of the Moon,” which caps Thrice Woven with a long fade into the sound of rolling waves. Between them, “The Old Ones are with Us” casts a vision of blackened folk-doom that seems to pull off what Agalloch was always aiming for, and centerpiece “Angrboda” blasts through an early wash before splitting near the midsection to minimalism and rebuilding itself on a slow march. 15 years on from their beginning, Wolves in the Throne Room still sound like no one else, and continue to push themselves forward creatively.

Wolves in the Throne Room on Thee Facebooks

Artemisia Records on Bandcamp

 

Gravy Jones, Funeral Pyre

gravy jones funeral pyre

It’s a crazy world into which Gravy Jones invite their listeners on their self-issued debut full-length, Funeral Pyre, and the fire they bring is born of a molten classic psychedelic rock underpinned by low end weight and further distinguished by its use of organ and proto-metallic vocal proclamations. Opener and longest track (immediate points) “Heavens Bliss” tops 10 minutes in its weirdo roll, and subsequent cuts “The Burning of the Witch” and “It Came from the Sea” do little to dispel the off-center vibe, the former dug into rawer NWOBHM-ism and the latter, the centerpiece of the five-tracker, beaming in from some kind of alt-universe Deep Purple idolatry to lead into the particularly doomed “Gilgamesh” and the shuffle-into-noisefest onslaught of the closing title-track. All told it’s 41 minutes of bizarre excursion that’s deceptively cohesive and feels like the start of a longer-term sonic exploration. Whether or not Gravy Jones even out sound-wise or hold to such an unhinged vibe, they definitely pique interest here.

Gravy Jones on Thee Facebooks

Gravy Jones on Bandcamp

 

Marmora, Criterion

marmora criterion

Criterion – yes, like the collection – is the debut EP from Chicago four-piece Marmora, who released a single in 2013 before the core brotherly trio of Zaid (guitar), Alejandro (bass) and Ulysses (drums) Salazar hooked up with vocalist/guitarist/synthesist Allan Cardenas in 2015. The three-tracker that has resulted begins with its title-cut, which thrusts forth a wash of heavy post-rock that makes an impression in weight as much as space before turning to the more grounded, propulsive, aggressive and punkishly noise-caked “Apathy” and closer “Flowers in Your Garden,” which turns traditional heavy rock riffery on its head with frenetic drum work and rhythmic turns that feel born of modern progressive metal. Significant as the crunch factor and aggro pulsations are, Criterion isn’t at all without a corresponding sense of atmosphere, and though there isn’t much tying these three tracks together, for a first EP, there doesn’t need to be. Let that come later. For now, the boot to the ass is enough.

Marmora on Thee Facebooks

Marmora on Bandcamp

 

Mouth, Live ’71

mouth live 71

Perhaps in part as a holdover between their 2017 second album, Vortex (review here), and the impending Floating to be issued in 2018, German progressive retroists Mouth offer Live ’71. No, it was not actually recorded in 1971. Nor, to my knowledge, was it recorded in 2071 and sent back in time in a slingshot maneuver around the sun. It’s just a play on the raw, captured-from-the-stage sound of the 55-minute set, which opens at a 19-minute sprawl with “Vortex” itself and only deep-dives further from there, whether it’s into the keyboard throb of “Parade,” the nuanced twists of “Into the Light” or the more straightforward riffing of “On the Boat.” There’s room for all this scope and the stomp of “Master Volume Voice” in a Mouth set, it would seem, and if Live ’71 is indeed a stopgap, it’s one that shows off the individualized personality of the long-running band who seem to still be exploring even as they approach the 20-year mark.

Mouth on Thee Facebooks

Mouth on Bandcamp

 

Les Lekin, Died with Fear

les lekin died with fear

A second full-length from Austrian heavy psych trio Les Lekin, Died with Fear is perhaps more threatening in its title than in its overall aesthetic. The four inclusions on the 43-minute follow-up to 2014’s All Black Rainbow Moon (review here) set their mission not necessarily in conveying terror or some overarching sense of darkness – though low end is a major factor throughout – as in cosmic hypnosis born of repetition and chemistry-fueled heavy psychedelic progressivism. Well at home in the extended and atmospheric “Orca” (10:41), “Inert” (10:21), “Vast” (8:59) and “Morph” (13:34), the three-piece of guitarist Peter G., bassist Beat B. and drummer Kerstin W. recorded live and in so doing held fast to what feels very much like a natural and developing dynamic between them, their material all the more fluid for it but carrying more of a sense of craft than most might expect from a release that, ostensibly, is based around jams. Sweeping and switched-on in kind, Died with Fear turns out to be remarkably vibrant for something under a banner so grim.

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Tonzonen Records webstore

 

Leather Lung, Lost in Temptation

leather lung lost in temptation

Oh, they’re mad about it, to be sure. I’m not sure what ‘it’ ultimately is, but whatever, it’s got Leather Lung good and pissed off. Still, the Boston-based onslaught specialists’ debut full-length, Lost in Temptation, has more to its cacophony than sheer violence, and though that intelligence is somewhat undercut by the hey-check-it-out-it’s-cartoon-tits-and-also-because-snakes-are-like-wieners cover art, the marriage between fuckall noise intensity on “Gin and Chronic” and trades between growl-topped thrust and more open and melodic plod on “Shadow of the Scythe” and upbeat rock on “Momentum of Misfortune.” Put it in your “go figure” file that the closer “Destination: Void,” which is marked as an outro, is the longest inclusion on the 28-minute offering, but by then due pummel has been served throughout pieces like “Deaf Adder” and “Freak Flag” amid the willful stoner idolatry of “The Spice Melange,” so there’s texture in the assault as well. Yeah though, that cover. Woof.

Leather Lung on Thee Facebooks

Leather Lung on Bandcamp

 

Torso, Limbs

torso limbs

I won’t deny the strength of approach Austria’s Torso demonstrate across Limbs, their StoneFree Records debut LP, in the straightforward structures of songs like “Meaning Existence” or “Mirror of My Mind” or “Skinny and Bony” and the semi-acoustic penultimate grown-up-grunge alternarocker “Down the Highway,” but it’s hard to listen to the nine-minute spread of “Red Moon” in the midsection of the album and not come away from its patient psychedelic execution thinking of it as a highlight. Shades of post-rock and moodier fare make themselves known in “Come Closer” and the righteously melodic “Ride Up,” and closer “Voices” delivers a resounding payoff, but it’s “Red Moon” that summarizes the atmospheric and emotional scope with which Torso are working and most draws together the various elements at play into a cohesive singularity. One hopes it’s a model they’ll follow going forward, but neither should doing so necessarily draw away from the songwriting prowess they show here. It’s a balance that, having been struck, feels ready to be manipulated.

Torso on Thee Facebooks

StoneFree Records website

 

Jim Healey, Just a Minute More

jim healey just a minute more

Companioned immediately by a digital release of the demos on which it’s based, including four other songs that didn’t make the cut of the final, studio-recorded EP, Jim Healey’s Just a Minute More conveys its sense of longing in the title and moves quickly to stake its place in a long-running canon of singer-songwriterisms. Healey, known for fronting metal and heavy rock acts like We’re all Gonna Die, Black Thai, Set Fire, etc., could easily come across as a case of dual personality in the sweetly, unabashedly sentimental, acoustic-based opener “The Road” or the more-plugged-in “You and I” at the outset, but in the fuzzed-out centerpiece “Swamp Thing,” the emotionally weighted memorable hook of “Faced,” and the piano-topped payoff of closer “Burn Up,” the 18-minute EP unfurls a sense of variety and a full-band sound that sets the project Jim Healey on its own course even apart from the man himself. Some of those other demos aren’t too bad either. Just saying.

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Jim Healey on Bandcamp

 

Daxma, The Head Which Becomes the Skull

daxma-the-head-which-becomes-the-skull

Signed to Magnetic Eye for the release, Oakland post-metal five-piece Daxma answer the ambition of their half-hour single-song 2016 debut EP, The Nowhere of Shangri-La, with the even-fuller-length The Head Which Becomes the Skull, demonstrating a clear intent toward sonic patience and ambient reach that balances subtle builds and crashes with engaging immersiveness and nod. Three of the six total inclusions top 10 minutes, and within opener “Birth” (10:53), “Abandoning All Hope” (11:34) and the penultimate “Our Lives Will be Erased by the Shifting Sands of the Desert” (13:42), one finds significant breadth, but not to be discounted either are the roll of “Wanderings/Beneath the Sky,” the avant feel of the closing title-track or even the 80-second drone interlude “Aufheben,” which like all that surrounds it, feeds into a consuming ambience that undercuts the notion of The Head Which Becomes the Skull as a debut album for its purposefulness and evocative soundscaping.

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Magnetic Eye Records on Bandcamp

 

The Re-Stoned, Chronoclasm

the re-stoned chronoclasm

For their first new outing since they revisited their debut EP in 2016 with Reptiles Return (review here), Moscow instrumentalists The Re-Stoned cast forth Chronoclasm, a six-track long-player of new material recorded over 2015 and 2016 that ties together its near-hour-long runtime with a consistency of guitarist Ilya Lipkin’s lead tone and a steady interweaving of acoustic elements. “Human Without Body,” “Save Me Under the Emerald Glass,” “Psychedelic Soya Barbecue” and the title-track seem to have some nuance of countrified swing to their groove, but it’s lysergic swirl that ultimately rules the day throughout Chronoclasm, Yaroslav Shevchenko’s drums keeping the material grounded around Lipkin’s guitar and Vladimir Kislyakov’s bass. The trio are joined on percussion by Evgeniy Tkachev on percussion for the CD bonus track “Quartz Crystals,” which picks up from the quiet end of “Chronoclasm” itself and feels like a nine-minute improve extension of its serene mood, adding further progressive sensibility to an already wide scope.

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Mouth Sign to Tonzonen Records; New Album out in 2018

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 11th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

The announcement below has been run through a major internet corporation’s translation matrix, so keep in mind that it’s basically a robot’s idea of what the words should be, but the bottom line is that German imprint Tonzonen Records has picked up Cologne heavy proggers Mouth for the release of their next album in March 2018. I’m happy today to be able to tell you that the title of said full-length is Floating. According to my conversation with the band, it was tracked at the same time as earlier 2017’s Vortex, which was reviewed and streamed here around the time of its release in June, but has a lighter feel suited to the name they’ve given it.

I believe them. Particularly after hearing Vortex, I’ve no doubt Mouth can conjure a feeling of weightlessness in their material and use that as a central theme for a long-player. I’m looking forward to hearing how that sounds when it’s all put together. Hmm — I wonder if they’d want to do a stream?

Circle of life, and so forth.

Dig it:

mouth

Mouth – Tonzonen Records

A small statement by Tonzonen Records: after the premature death of Indie icon Guido Lucas the situation for the BluNoise label and their bands is not easy. The third album by Mouth is already finished and the band would like to take the next step towards the new album. Tonzonen Records has agreed with the band on a future-oriented cooperation.

I’m looking forward to hearing the Cologne band MOUTH at Tonzonen Records.

With ‘Vortex’ (BluNoise Records), the trio has released a highly acclaimed and highly praised album. The extremely cool vintage sound, driven by hypnotic rhythms, goes directly into the blood. Freak Prog Psychrock without high gloss polish directly into the brain bends, that makes immensely fun and is the right soundtrack to the next Roadtrip.

A release of the LP / CD / Digital Release album is planned for March 2018.

MOUTH Bio:

MOUTH were formed in Cologne in 2000 as a trio, comprised of Christian Koller (vocals, guitars, occasional keyboards), Gerald Kirsch (bass) and Nick Mavridis (drums, backing vocals, keyboards). Their style is often cited as a mixture of ‘retro prog’, Krautrock, hard rock, psyche and glam rock – all together it fuses into a unique spleen often underlined with dystopian themes.

https://www.facebook.com/mouthsound/
https://mouthprog.bandcamp.com/
http://www.soundcloud.com/mouthprog
https://www.facebook.com/Tonzonen/
https://www.instagram.com/tonzonenrecords/
https://www.tonzonen.de

Mouth, Vortex (2017)

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Review & Full Album Stream: Mouth, Vortex

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on June 19th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

mouth vortex

[Click play above to stream Vortex by Mouth in its entirety. Album is out June 30 on Al!ve/Blunoise Records.]

Some eight years after releasing their debut, Rhizome, and 17 years after first getting together in 2000, German progressive classicists Mouth offer their second full-length in the form of Vortex. An album that winks its ’70s influences even unto its cover art, it finds the three-piece of vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist Chris Koller, bassist Gerald Kirsch and drummer/keyboardist Nick Mavridis nestled easily and immediately into headphone-ready krautrock vibes that continue to spread out across the 56-minute release, which arrives bookended by two 16-minute tracks in opener “Vortex” and closer “Epilogue.”

King CrimsonPink FloydUriah Heep, BrainticketHawkwind, and so on, are of course reference points as they invariably would be, but like US-based outfit EyeMouth distinguish themselves through the fluidity of their composition — that opener arrives in four parts: “To the Centre,” “Turbulence,” “Silence” and “Vortex” itself — through creative arrangements of guitar around various key instruments and vintage-sounding synth, and through the overarching poise of their delivery.

That they’d be patient isn’t necessarily a surprise after being together so long in one form or another, but neither does Vortex lack drive, and even as “Vortex” — also the longest track at 16:36 (immediate points) — carries through the organ-soaked/lead-topped swirl of its “Silence” portion with spoken vocals behind its instrumental build, Mouth hold to a firm sense of forward direction and don’t simply meander to suit their own whims. And after all that cascading, the eponymous portion of “Vortex” caps with ambient synth, acoustic strum and far-back layers of electric guitar in what comes across very much as a final movement, so there’s a feeling of completeness to Vortex that, informed by the extended opener, continues throughout the proceedings that follow.

On the other end of the spectrum, one finds “Epilogue,” the corresponding finale that nearly matches the opener for runtime. It’s a slowly unfolding, three-stage (mostly) instrumental jam, languid and hypnotic, that gives way to silence after three and 12 minutes and finally leads to a sitar-infused hidden track of organ-laced psychedelia. Arguably the most intentionally molten stretch of Vortex, “Epilogue” is ultimately just that: the afterword from Mouth‘s long-form statement, and while when considering the launch and the landing, Vortex is already a considerable achievement in classic prog, there’s still significant stylistic expression happening in its journey through shorter tracks “March of the Cyclopes” (6:01), “Parade” (4:02), the centerpiece “Mountain” (3:43), “Into the Light” (7:07) and “Soon After…” (3:18), as the three-piece set to balancing their impulses toward willful complexity and cosmic psychedelia.

mouth

Despite some blown-out vocals, they do so gracefully from the start of “March of the Cyclopes,” shifting from early verses into a space-rocking midsection that draws the listener into its instrumentalist push and devolves into noise to finish out and lead into the fuzzy start of “Parade.” A more grounded shuffle at the start seems to nod at straight-ahead classic heavy rock in a way that realigns the listener’s mindset effectively, and even as church organ and other key lines play off one another, Mavridis‘ drums assure that all stays in motion as it should.

Dreamy guitar effects take hold circa the halfway point, and “Parade” also drives toward an apex like “March of the Cyclopes” before it — note how both tracks are ‘going somewhere’ in their titles; we’ll soon enough find destinations in “Mountain” and “Into the Light” — but it doesn’t come apart in the same way, holding to its chorus and ending cold on its organ line as toms start the climb through “Mountain.” Zeppelin-style acoustic strum and effected vocals hit backed by Mellotron in a secondary hook as the bouncing groove assures momentum is steadfast as Vortex moves into side B.

Cosmos and mind continue to blend on “Into the Light” — a winding keyboard line emitting a certain tension but never actually out of control or dissuaded from its forward direction — and “Soon After…,” which one might be tempted to call an interlude were its jazzy drum work and melodic wash of keys and guitar not so well executed, and though Mouth have by and large set the course that defines Vortex, the process of hearing them explore within that context satisfies all the same, especially as “Into the Light” seems to answer the more structured feel of “Parade” and “Mountain” with subtle shifts in approach, making the whole affair even richer than just its constructed layers can convey.

In wrapping the voyage, both “Soon After…” and “Epilogue” have a kind of understated triumph at their core, most especially the closer, which departs from the verses and choruses that follow “Vortex” in much the same way that the opener had little time for them to start with. This kind of parabolic oddity, coupled with the utterly liquefied aspect of Mouth‘s psychedelic lysergery, successfully conveys the experience of their years together, but Vortex is fresh and engaging despite being vintage in its form, and finds its best footing in a front-to-back open-minded listen from those ready and willing to be carried along by its resonant, expressive flow.

Mouth on Thee Facebooks

Mouth on Bandcamp

Blunoise Records website

Al!ve website

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Milkbrother Release Self-Titled Debut EP

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 3rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

milkbrother

Following up on their 2014 debut long-player, Nocturnal, last year, German riff-crunchers Aleph Null offered what was apparently to be their swansong in the four-song Endtime Sisters EP. It couldn’t have been long after that that three-piece of Philip, Carsten and Jens went their separate ways that the former two decided to get Milkbrother going. The new two-piece tracked its debut EP, self-titled and, thus far, self-released, over the course of this past winter, and they’ve offered up its five tracks as a name-your-price download through Bandcamp, pretty much issuing a handwritten invitation to anyone, whether they heard Aleph Null or not, to dig in.

By the end of nine-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Pigweed,” they’ve made a good case for doing so, with a sound that runs a line between psychedelia and grunge on its way to the more garage-doom-styled riffing and organ work of “Scent of Shrouds.” Classic pop rock melodies pervade deceptively heavy progressions, and for a first outing, Milkbrother‘s Milkbrother obviously benefits from the prior collaboration(s) of its makers, each of whom adopts a multi-instrumentalist/vocalist role throughout, making distinct statements on the dreamy centerpiece “Orchid Eye,” the classically riffed “The Clearance Between,” and progressively theatrical closer “T.I.E.R.”

The vibe’s kind of all over the place, but they handle it well. One looks forward to hearing what Milkbrother can do throughout a full-length stretch. Until then, here’s release info and audio:

milkbrother self-titled

Being mates for decades (in bands like Anti Doctrine, Aleph Null) and collaborating as a duo more than once (Jesus Terror Force, SLON), we present our latest project MILKBROTHER. For us it’s a journey to the origins of our influences focusing especially on the process of writing and recording.

Debut EP of Germany’s MILKBROTHER – from the ashes of Aleph Null (https://alephnull.bandcamp.com) rise this project, digging deep into vintage, mixing progressive, psychedelic and classic rock. Recorded in winter 2016/17.

Tracklisting:
1. Pigweed 09:18
2. Scent of Shrouds 05:09
3. Orchid Eye 03:41
4. The Clearance between 04:40
5. T.I.E.R. 04:17

Milkbrother is
Philip – Vocals, Drums, Guitars, Keys
Carsten – Vocals, Guitars, Bass, Keys

https://www.facebook.com/Milkbrother.official/
https://milkbrother.bandcamp.com/

Milkbrother, Milkbrother (2017)

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Plainride Sign to Ripple Music

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 17th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Cheers to German heavy rockers Plainride on getting picked up by Californian imprint Ripple Music. The band issued their uptempo groover debut, Return of the Jackalope (review here), last year, and as they join the formidable and increasingly populated Ripple lineup, their first release will be a reissue of their first outing, presumably to be followed at some point by a sophomore effort. We’ll get there when we get there. No doubt the Cologne natives are kicking back a few in celebration of their new alliance, and I wouldn’t argue, either with the band or the booze.

From the PR wire:

plainride ripple music-700

PLAINRIDE – Cologne-based Stoner Rock ‘n’ Rollers sign worldwide record deal with Californian label RIPPLE MUSIC

“Imagine a pack of rabid tumbleweeds sweeping across the hot desert sand of Mojave set on fire by the nearby explosion of a Dodge Challenger ‘69 driven into a fuel soaked pile of Orange Half-Stacks by four whole-body bearded lumberjacks dressed in bearskin.”

This sentence originated in 2013 as part of an attempt to describe a German band that had only just been tossed onto the face of the Earth: Plainride. Little did these guys know they had just created what would soon become a self-fulfilling prophecy of dramatic extent. Three years later, the band is ridiculously close to their own, ambitious vision of themselves. Let’s recap: Beards? Check. Orange Amps? Check. Mojave? Well, kinda.

When you’ve got Plainride spinning on your turntable, you will barely believe these guys are in fact not from California, but from Cologne. Sweat-drippin’ drums, high voltage guitars, wailing solos and a voice so frenetic, one might assume the Beast himself took control of the mic.

That said, it comes to little surprise that Plainride eventually teamed up with Ripple Music from San Ramon, CA. The dedicated rock label will kick things off with a re-release of “Return Of The Jackalope”, the bands’ ferocious debut album, which had first been unveiled in Summer 2015. The re-issue is scheduled for this winter and will include a digital release on all platforms, a CD, a double vinyl release, and world-wide distribution.

While this is undeniably a huge step, Plainride keeps on rolling with their sympathetic down-to-earth attitude, as singer Max confirms: „We’re not a business band at any rate. Rehearsals are what makes my week worthwhile. Hanging and rocking out with the guys, frequenting shady concerts – that stuff is like sex to me: Even when it’s bad, it’s still pretty damn good! The day we decide to stop making fun of ourselves should be the day someone takes away our guitars and punches us in the face.” Beer-fueled banter aside, these guys aren’t in it just for the heck of it: “We always had the ambition to achieve as much as possible while staying true to our founding spirit. Signing with Ripple Music is an awesome and humbling opportunity for us and I’ll be damned if we’re not gonna work off our asses to honor that!”

https://www.facebook.com/PLAINRIDE.Official/
http://plainride.bandcamp.com/
http://www.ripple-music.com/
https://www.facebook.com/theripplemusic/

Plainride, Day of the Jackalope (2015)

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Quarterly Review: Sourvein, Mantar, Elevators to the Grateful Sky, The Poisoned Glass, Spirit Collector, Phiasco, The Cosmic Dead, Postures, Estoner, The Black Explosion

Posted in Reviews on June 20th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

the-obelisk-summer-2016-quarterly-review

Well here we are. Standing on the precipice of a week of 50 reviews, looking out together at the geographic and sonic expanses that will be covered. I never know entirely what a given Quarterly Review is going to bring. Some have been smooth, some not. This one is being put together very little pre-production in terms of chasing down band links and that sort of thing, so I expect it’s going to be an adventure one way or another. I’ll keep you updated as we go as to my mental state and the deterioration thereof.

If you don’t know the drill, The Obelisk’s Quarterly Review is a week every three months in which I review 10 albums per day, Monday through Friday. Some of it was released in the prior three months, some of it is brand new, some of it probably isn’t out yet, some of it is probably older. It’s all relevant one way or another. I hope you find something you enjoy.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Sourvein, Aquatic Occult

Sourvein Aquatic Occult

Looking at the makeup of Sourvein’s much-awaited fourth album, Aquatic Occult (on Metal Blade), it’s understandable why it might’ve taken five years to put together. Yes, they had splits out in between, as they do, but the band’s last full-length was 2011’s Black Fangs (review here), and though the 14-song/42-minute Aquatic Occult is manageable, with a host of interludes to carry the listener along its thick-toned, undulating waves, a swath of guest appearances no doubt played havoc with logistics. Fortunately, Sourvein’s figurehead, vocalist T-Roy Medlin, seems to thrive on chaos. Working with producer Mike Dean (C.O.C.), and a revolving-door lineup that here features Lou Gorra of Halfway to Gone, Medlin brazenly explores a more melodic dynamic than he ever has. It’s a rare band looking to experiment after 20 years, a rarer band still that pulls it off so well. There’s still some sludgy rasp and guest growling, but Sabbathian roll is the order of the day ultimately and Medlin’s homage to his home in Cape Fear, North Carolina, establishes a breadth unheard before from Sourvein that’s worthy of the years and obvious effort that went into its making.

Sourvein on Thee Facebooks

Sourvein at Metal Blade Records

 

Mantar, Ode to the Flame

Mantar Ode To The Flame

Hamburg duo Mantar’s blend of thrash, sludge and blackened doom is brash, righteously punkish and thus far uncompromised in its malevolent intent. On their second album and Nuclear Blast debut, Ode to the Flame, songs like “Era Borealis” swagger as much as they sneer, the middle-finger-up arrogance becoming part of the appeal. “The Hint” offers some tinge of melody and “I Omen” some organ-laced atmospherics, but Mantar, who debuted in 2015 with the also fire-minded Death by Burning (review here) on Svart, carry their extremity forward like the next logical step of the same impulses that High on Fire once brought forth. Their tempo shifts, from blazing squibblies to outright lumbering, are pulled off with due fuckall, and the shouts from guitarist/vocalist Hanno and drummer/vocalist Erinc are spit forth in a manner near-indecipherable but still have no trouble getting their point across. Mantar are positioning themselves to be the kick in the ass that the underground needs. The next few years (and albums) will see how that pans out, but for now they have two scorchers under their collective belt.

Mantar on Thee Facebooks

Mantar at Nuclear Blast

 

Elevators to the Grateful Sky, Cape Yawn

elevators to the grateful sky cape yawn

There is a stylistic restlessness to stretches of Elevators to the Grateful Sky’s second record, Cape Yawn (on HeviSike), that becomes the uniting factor between the adrenaline-amped opening with “Ground” and “Bullet Words” and the later dream-surf Yawning Man-meets-sax unfurling of the title-track. The Palermo, Italy, outfit have stated their intention as capturing a blend of ‘90s alternative and modern heavy. Fair enough, but hearing that play out on the penultimate “Mountain Ship” in a mix of weighted riffing and laid back vocals giving way to shouts, it seems that to me that next time out, Elevators to the Grateful Sky should probably just start saying they sound like themselves, because they do. Granted, they’re pulling elements from familiar sources – Soundgarden, Kyuss, etc. – but in giving them new context, the four-piece are defining their sound as moving fluidly between the various styles, and that’s to be commended. The more you put into listening, the more you’ll get out of it.

Elevators to the Grateful Sky on Thee Facebooks

HeviSike Records website

 

The Poisoned Glass, 10 Swords

the poisoned glass 10 swords-700

Representing a 50 percent reunion of Burning Witch, the droning contemplations and hellish atmospherics of The Poisoned GlassRitual Productions debut, 10 Swords, pique immediate interest. And bassist/percussionist/etc.-ist G. Stuart Dahlquist and vocalist/keyboardist Edgy 59 do not disappoint. With unspeakable patience, they execute six grueling and cinematic pieces that seem to find comfort in tortured expression and that feel claustrophobic even as they continue to expand outward and downward through “Plume Veil” and “Toil and Trouble” into the extended closing duo “Silent Vigil” – spoiler alert: not actually silent – and “Low Spirits,” which moves from minimalist stillness through far-back screams and into a wash of synth before its seven minutes are up, covering more ground in one track than some bands do in their entire career. Fair to say on the whole 10 Swords is an immersive listen, but the prevailing vibe is much less “diving in” than “being swallowed whole by some obscure medieval terror.” So, you know, watch out for that.

The Poisoned Glass on Thee Facebooks

Ritual Productions on Bandcamp

 

Spirit Collector, Owls to Athens

spirit collector owls to athens-700

Los Angeles newcomers Spirit Collector make their debut with the self-released, three-song Owls to Athens EP, clear in its intent and brimming with airy, post-rock-derived guitar atmospherics. A particularly telling moment arrives with the Terence McKenna sample in centerpiece “Reclaim Your Mind,” which speaks of casting off the culture of celebrity worship for a richer human experience, but it’s in the extended closer “Theosophy” (7:57) that Spirit Collector find their footing someplace between a doomed plod and thoughtful psychedelia, picking up a chugging momentum as they push through toward the almost blackened finish, having come a surprising distance since their eponymous opener set the tone for expanse. An encouraging first offering if somewhat familiar superficially as instrumental heavy post-rock (think Explosions in the Sky, Russian Circles, Red Sparowes, etc.), and there’s nothing in Owls to Athens to make one think Spirit Collector can’t move forward and develop the experimental drive they begin to show here.

Spirit Collector on Thee Facebooks

Spirit Collector on Bandcamp

 

Phiasco, Vieh

phiasco vieh

Vieh, the debut full-length from Colonge-based desert rocking foursome Phiasco, takes its name from the German word for “cattle.” The band owe some of their fuzz to Truckfighters and some of their psychedelic wash to Sungrazer, but the attitude in songs like “Ultimate Warrior” – comprised largely of riffs topped with an extended sample from the titular professional wrestler – and “Sunndown” is their own, as is the we’re-still-having-a-really-good-time-while-we-make-this-15-minute-song closer “Phisco” (sic), a highlight of the live-recorded full-length, which across its span is light on pretense and heavy on bounce. Cuts like “Old Town” and opener “Back to the Future” – hey, that’s a movie! – bring catchy hooks, and the uptempo “Erasing Rabbits with My Phaserlight” winds up as harmonized as goofed out, and thus is all the more engaging. There’s a certain amount of getting by on charm here, but Phiasco have a capable, varied songwriting process that’s given due fullness and clarity in these eight tracks.

Phiasco on Thee Facebooks

Phiasco on Bandcamp

 

The Cosmic Dead, Rainbowhead

the-cosmic-dead-rainbowhead

Man, who gives a shit about anything else when Glaswegian five-piece The Cosmic Dead are enacting their hypnotic swirl? Their latest instrumental invitation to watch existence melt is called Rainbowhead and it arrives through Paradigms Recordings (CD) and Blackest Rainbow Records (LP) with four tracks that serve as the band’s first full-length since 2014’s EasterFaust, though they’ve had splits in between to keep a prolific rate of offerings fitting for their explorational heavy psych/space rock. The bulk of Rainbowhead is engagingly upbeat as side A plays out across “Human Sausage,” “Skye Burial” and the 13-minute “Inner C,” and side B’s 18-minute title-track follows suit as The Cosmic Dead seem to have found a similar niche between progressive rock and psych to that which Mammatus proffered on their most recent outing. It suits The Cosmic Dead, and they keep an improv vibe prevalent as ever, grasping the subconscious with trip-on-it lysergic pulsations.

The Cosmic Dead on Thee Facebooks

Paradigms Recordings website

Blackest Rainbow Records website

 

Postures, Halucinda

postures halucinda

Deeply textured and lush in its construction around guitar arrangements, percussive and keyboard-laden melodic flourish, Postures’ second full-length, Halucinda (on World in Sound), plays back and forth between prog and heavy rock impulses. The Gothenburg, Sweden, five-piece seem most at home in extended tracks like “Myriad Man,” “Every Room” and the jazzy 10-minute “Wavemaker,” but even the acoustic-led centerpiece interlude “A Million Sequences” invites the audience to turn up the volume for maximum wash effect. Paulina Nyström delivers a powerful, commanding and fluid vocal performance, and while the rhythm section of bassist Per Pettersson and drummer Isak Björhag are the foundation on which these complex structures play out – Viktor Andersson and Benjamin Watts handle guitar; Madeleine Sjögren is credited with backing vocals/keys and Margit Gyllspång percussion/backing vocals – there’s no angle from which Postures don’t come across rich and vital in their winding but well-plotted course, one song feeding fluidly to the next until the dreamy “In the Dark” rounds out with the emotional apex of the record.

Postures on Thee Facebooks

World in Sound Records

 

Estoner, Lennud Saatana Dimensioonis

estoner lennud saatana dimensioonis

What else to call a stoner band from Estonia? Estoner’s appeal, however, goes well beyond their moniker. The Tallinn-based outfit’s second album, Lennud Saatana Dimensioonis, arrives in a handmade hexagonal CD package, heat sealed, as well as with complete visual accompaniment on limited VHS and cassette via Golem Records. The music is no less relentlessly creative, running a gamut between prog, black metal, heavy rock, psychedelia, space rock and probably a few others in its seven-track course. A song like “Teleporteerumine” conjures darkened swirl and “Reptiloid” follows through with foreboding threat, but Estoner plunge even deeper as they go, proferring aesthetic reach that makes seemingly disparate elements work together fluidly on “Hüvasti, Kosmiline Monoliit” and the 10-minute closing title-track. Perhaps the highest compliment one can pay to Lennud Saatana Dimensioonis is to call it Svart-worthy, as its diverse means of engulfing the listener speak to a forward-thinking approach that one can only hope Estoner continue to develop.

Estoner on Thee Facebooks

Estoner on Bandcamp

 

The Black Explosion, Atomic Zod War

Unbenannt-1

Extra points to Swedish troupe The Black Explosion for opening their third album, the space-fuzzed out Atomic Zod War (on Metalville Records), with its longest track, the 13-minute “Paralyzed.” That song offers a languid voyage through uncharted jammy reaches, and that sets an open, laid back expectation that the rest of the album seems only too glad to build on, from the Nebula-via-Monster Magnet blown out vibes of “Ain’t Coming Home” to the semi-garage buzz of “Going Down,” a highlight groove that emphasizes the natural, raw tones at play leading into “Get My Mind Together” and the finisher “Devil Inside,” which brings the guitar of Chris Winter (also Dollhouse) forward with backing from bassist Simon Haraldsson and drummer Andreas Lindquist that feels born of the new West Coast tradition but is likely playing off of older impulses. But for its hey-look-it’s-tits cover art, the grit Atomic Zod War offers comes through organically and draws the listener in with its live feel and underlying boogie.

The Black Explosion on Thee Facebooks

Metalville Records

 

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