Review & Track Premiere: Plainride, Life on Ares

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on August 22nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

plainride life on ares

[Click play above to listen to ‘El Coyote’ from Plainride’s Life on Ares. Album is out Sept. 21 on Ripple Music.]

One doesn’t want to generalize — exceptions to rules and whatnot — but basically, if you’ve got a record with a song called “Battletoads” on it, that’s probably something I want to hear. The 8-bit NES reference is but one manifestation of German heavy rockers Plainride‘s affinity for ’90s-era vibing. Their second album, Life on Ares, arrives some three years after their debut, Return of the Jackalope (review here), the Cologne four-piece effectively press (and hold) the reset button on their approach to recording, keeping a more studio-minded feel rather than tracking live and so on. That can be heard in the massive roll that ensues in “El Coyote” after the intro “A Fiery Demise (Prologue)” and the turn to jazzy jabs that follows from there. On every level, the 10-track/43-minute Life on Ares is a more detailed, more nuanced outing, and as it will no doubt be many listeners’ first time hearing the band as it’s also their debut on Ripple Music (which also reissued Return of the Jackalope last year), the first impression it makes is one of hard-hitting pro-sounding heavy rock and roll.

The deep-toned fuzz and gruff vocals of Max Rebel are out in front of songs like the aforementioned “Battletoads” and the penultimate “Thunder and Awe” in such a fashion as to remind of Ripple veterans Gozu and all the more so with the rhythmic propulsion in Rebel and Fabe “van Fuzz” Klein‘s riffing, the bass of Leo “Lionhatch” Beringer and new drummer Flo “The Brave” Schlenker, while the mellow and bluesy “Blood on the Crown” recalls quiet Clutch moments like “The Regulator” with its soft guitar shimmer and washes of cymbal. Context goes a long way, though, in seeing Plainride begin to distinguish themselves from their influences — the once-unbridled raucousness of Truckfighters is a factor as well, as it was their last time out — and Plainride set themselves apart via barnburners like “Seven of Spades” with a gallop à la a catchier High on Fire if not Motörhead directly, and the apparent side B opener “Wormhole Society,” with its howling solo in the second half.

Life on Ares has two songs that top seven minutes, “El Coyote” (7:05) and “Bite Back” (7:04), and both feature on side A. Along with the introduction titled “A Fiery Demise” and the quick-running “Seven of Spades” and “Battletoads” also included, the five-song first half of the album develops a varied personality that becomes crucial to its effectiveness overall. Their seeming ability to change it up is evident through the shift from one song to the next, and in the case of “El Coyote” and “Bite Back” specifically, from one part to the next, but as “Bite Back” shows perhaps most of all, Plainride are dutiful and mindful of keeping a flow to the progression of their material. Neither track sounds artificially extended in a let’s-write-a-long-song kind of way. That may well have been the intent, but even if so, the resulting feel is no less natural than anything else they conjure throughout.

plainride

And the placement of “Battletoads” between the longer pieces is important in acting as a preview for side B’s dug-in feel, some more straightforward rockers, but still high-energy and well composed. As they move from one song to the next, Plainride seem to shoulder-check the listener off-balance, but never actually hard enough to knock them down, i.e., take them out of the overarching fluidity of one song into the next. It’s a bumpy ride, but it’s supposed to be a bumpy ride, and the band’s pursuit of riffly glories leads them to exciting and upbeat crafting and deft turns like those in “Bite Back” as it moves to its wah-laced apex solo in its final minute, scorching its way to a cold finish ahead of the start of “Wormhole Society” and the album’s remaining back end, which one might be tempted to see as where the foursome really get down to business if they hadn’t already worked so hard to establish so much in terms of sound, impact, professionalism and character, not to mention theme or imagery, yet another layer of detail to be found is right in the name of the record, which is subtitled Life on Ares: Thrilling Tales from a Strange Planet.

I’ll give you “thrilling” fair enough. The second part — the bit about “strange planet” — may or may not be accurate. That is, I’m not sure if Ares even has a Texas that would suit “Texas Labyrinth,” the tense verses of which open to a winding melodic hook. It’s possible Ares — named for the Greek god of war; the Roman equivalent is Mars — is intended to be an alternate name for Earth, which most definitely does have a Texas, and that the Strange Planet in question is in fact this one. The alternate-earth theory holds water,  but it’s still somewhat unclear. It matters less as “Texas Labyrinth” drops to quiet guitar resonance and a transitional drone to the start of “Blood on the Crown,” which begins with spacious plucked notes before unfolding a build that remains understated and blues-based, but is weighted in its groove just the same, lead guitar and keys showing up later on in order to push it over the top. It works, is the bottom line. They roll on toward and through “Thunder and Awe” toward the comfortably-paced closer “Anaximander (And the Riddle of Origin),” Rebel holding out a gravely shout just past the 90-second mark while the band rises to meet him en route to a midsection setting up the instrumental finish, an effects-soaked lead giving way to a surprising touch of psychedelia before the thrust resumes to end out.

They’re obviously having a good time, and the songs show diligent efforts to convey that, but Plainride are also just as obviously interested in developing their style. There’s nary a cryptozoological aspect to be found on Life on Ares, and while it would’ve been entirely possible for them to bring back the jackalope that seemed so destined to become their mascot, the decision not to feels very much like a conscious choice. So be it. Three years ago, they were a different band — in the case of who’s drumming, literally so — and instead of focusing on the past, they’re very clearly looking ahead to what this lineup can accomplish, and they see to it their listener does the same. There was potential in the debut, and there’s potential writ large throughout Life on Ares as well, and Plainride seem to be gearing up to realize that with energy and volume levels high.

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Plainride Set Sept. 21 Release for Life on Ares

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 26th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

plainride

And so the band who just a few years ago told us all about the bears upon Mt. Rushmore have come back, this time with tales from a strange planet. Cologne-based four-piece Plainride are set to follow-up their 2015 debut album, Return of the Jackalope (review here), with a new collection titled Life on Ares on Ripple Music. The announcement comes just a week before they take stage at one of the universe’s biggest festivals, Wacken Open Air, and though no audio from the sophomore outing has been unveiled as yet, I can’t help but note a decided turn toward the serious in the names of the tracks included. Well, maybe aside from “Battletoads” anyway, but kudos to the band on what I’ll just assume is a NES reference. Battletoads were basically Ninja Turtles by any other name, but that game still kicked ass.

By the way, if you ever want to talk about ancient videogames, hit me up.

To the matter at hand: Cheers to Plainride on the upcoming fest slot(s) and the impending record. I look forward to hearing where they’ve taken the uptempo push of the first offering with the new one, the art and details of which you can see below, courtesy of the PR wire.

They look like this:

plainride life on ares

PLAINRIDE ARE BACK!

Cologne-based Stoner Rockers will be releasing their new album “Life On Ares” through Californian label Ripple Music on September 21st.

Ladies, Gentlemen, Jackalopes, and Space Rangers!

We’re psyched to announce that PLAINRIDE’s new album Life On Ares is coming to you via Ripple Music and will hit planet Earth on September 21st!

It was recorded at Hydra Lab studios in the heart of Cologne, mixed and mastered by interdimensional sound engineer Alberto De Icaza (Clutch, Crobot), and embellished with the galactic art of Milan-based space-prodigy SoloMacello!

PLAINRIDE on Tour:
August 4 – W:O:A 2018 – Wacken
August 12 – Trafostation 61 Festival – Frechen
October 5 – Tsunami Club – Cologne

Tracklist Life On Ares:
1. A Fiery Demise (Prologue)
2. El Coyote
3. Battletoads
4. Seven Of Spades
5. Bite Back
6. Wormhole Society
7. Texas Labyrinth
8. Blood On The Crown
9. Thunder & Awe
10. Anaximander (And The Riddle Of Origin)

instagram.com/plainride
facebook.com/PLAINRIDE.Official
open.spotify.com/artist/2NDj8i2isAwlLIRGlNWsCh
https://plainride.bandcamp.com/
plainri.de
https://www.facebook.com/theripplemusic/
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http://www.ripple-music.com/

Plainride, Return of the Jackalope (2015)

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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.

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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/
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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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.

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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.

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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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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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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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