Posted in Radio on April 10th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
The young lady sharing a high-five with what appears to be a Parisian owlsquatch in the picture above is vocalist Shannon-Allie Murphy of Colorado-based heavy Americana rockers Brightstar. Last year, Murphy released Brightstar‘s debut album, All theWay, and though one might take whimsy away from the above, the record’s actually way more geared toward a dark, sparse prairie sound, fostered by Murphy‘s collaboration with guitarist/vocalist T.G. Olson of Across Tundras.
Now, Olson‘s droning soundtrack to Cormac McCarthy‘s Blood Meridianwas featured here last week, but though it shares some of the same innate harvest doom tonality with Brightstar, I think you’ll agree the two are working in a much different vein, as perhaps signaled by the Hans Büscher artwork above. All the Wayhinges on country rock with brooding songs like “No Kiss Goodbye” or the acoustic-treated traditionalism of “The Blackest Crow,” elsewhere giving itself to echoing ethereality on the Murphy-penned and recorded “Trapped in a Song” or tapping into effective attitude-laden Westernism on “Tide Pool,” Olson backing on vocals and even taking lead for part of the chorus while also contributing a large portion of the instrumentation throughout.
Elsewhere, other contributors make their presences felt, whether it’s Brandon Freeman‘s rumbling bass on the more-uptempo-than-it-seems opening title-track or Matt Johnson‘s synth on the later “No Georgia Moonshine,” which blends strikingly well with the acoustic guitar arrangement where one might otherwise think it’d be at odds, giving an underlying sense of psychedelia even as it adds dimension to the already wide landscape the song casts. Both “Trapped in a Song” and the more textured “Down by the Hollow” remind some of Sera Timms‘ work in Ides of Gemini or her own Black Mare solo project, but the collaboration between Murphy and Olson in Brightstar gives it its own dynamic, not necessarily hinged to one genre or another but still definitively American in its sound and scope.
You can hear All the Wayas part of The Obelisk Radio playlist as of about five minutes ago when I uploaded the files to the server, and also check it out and grab a free download courtesy of the Brightstar Bandcamp page. Either way, please enjoy:
“Straw Foot,” written by David Eugene Edwards during his time with 16 Horsepower, was released on that band’s 2000 album, Secret South, as the closer. It’s one of the record’s more memorable tracks — 16 Horsepower‘s take on the traditional “Wayfaring Stranger” is also particularly striking, as are several others; “Poor Mouth,” “Silver Saddle,” etc. — and this performance was filmed in 2009, some four years after they disbanded and some seven after Wovenhand, Edwards‘ subsequent and current outfit, released their landmark self-titled outing.
The two bands exist on such different wavelengths it’s hard to think of them running concurrently, though in many ways Secret Southwas the last 16 Horsepower album, followed by the live album Hoarse (2000), 2002′s Folklore, half of which was takes on traditional folk songs à la the aforementioned “Wayfaring Stranger” (no less brilliantly done; see “Single Girl” and “Outlaw Song”), and their swansong compilation Olden, which brought out material from early sessions in 1993 and 1994. But they did run for a while at the same time, Wovenhand releasing their sophomore album, Consider theBirds,even as 16 Horsepower embarked on some of their final touring. Hindsight gives smoothness to what at the time are often jagged transitions.
There’s a lot of great stuff on the internet. I’m particularly fond of this site, for example. There’s a lot of crap too. I’ve had a hard time coming up with something better than the clip above of Edwards playing “Straw Foot.” The raw, organic performance showing the song’s roots. Edwards‘ voice, which I’ve no doubt generations to come will fail to imitate. How the camera seems to dance in and out of focus to the music. It’s something I keep going back to, so I wanted to post it here in case anyone else had missed it along the way. I know sometimes we all get busy, and not in the fun way.
I recently had occasion to pick up Wovenhand‘s latest album, 2012′s The Laughing Stalk, on CD from Glitterhouse Records. Psych heads might recall their early Monster Magnet releases. After The Laughing Stalk(original review here) was released last fall, I spent some pretty significant time with the then-available digital stream via Bandcamp. There was a special edition LP/CD version available, but for someone like me — I hope you’ll pardon the melodrama, but I sometimes feel like the Omega Man of the CD-purchasing market — a straight-up compact disc was what I was looking for, so when I saw the Glitterhouse version available, digipak-style, I jumped on it, and no regrets.
It hadn’t been that long since I heard it anyway, but I still felt like I was somewhat revisiting tracks like “King O King” — the line “The people, a vain thing” standing out even more this time around — and the building spiritual energy of “Coup Stick,” which bides its time amidst organ tones to open up with Edwards vocals in its second half. I didn’t even know the album was recorded live (no easy feat given the variety of arrangements), so for that little piece of knowledge, it was easily worth the price for a purchase I was going to make anyway. And if the worst that happens is I spent more time hypnotized by Ordy Garrison‘s drums on “Maize” and “In the Temple,” chances are I’ll live.
Probably this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s mine, so for a bit of symmetry with where we started this post, here’s the title-track to The Laughing Stalkto finish:
Posted in Whathaveyou on December 4th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Last heard from with 2011′s Essence of Nine(review here), Colorado duo The Flight of Sleipnir will release their fourth album, Saga, on Feb. 15 through Eyes Like Snow. And in case you were wondering just how serious is the super-serious business they get up to, the tracklist is in Roman numerals. They also have their own runes. Yeah, it’s like that.
The news came in on the PR wire and it’s one more on an increasingly long list worth looking forward to. Dig it:
THE FLIGHT OF SLEIPNIR – Saga
“Saga” is the band’s 4th album and by now I think we can dispense with comparisons. The Flight Of Sleipnir have become their own reference – a fact to which a large and continuously growing fan base attests.
On “Saga” David & Clay have further refined what has become their very own style, a totally unique combination of Viking and Doom Metal with progessive elements, which they developed and improved with every release.
In this respect, the new album is a consequent continuation of “Essence Of Nine”, with its focus on acoustic parts, melodic guitar leads and clean vocals on the one hand, and raw Viking/Black Metal outbursts on the other, everything merged into a seamless whole. In short, an exciting and never boring or repetitive journey through a rough northern landscape, interspersed with relaxed nights around the campfire.
The album will first be released in A5-Digi (ltd. 1000) and CD jewel case, and in late Spring 2013 on double LP incl. 8-page booklet & A2 poster. Attentive fans may be able to grab one of the very limited Die Hard Editions we’ve planned for the A5-Digi and LP.
I. Prologue II. Reaffirmation III. Reverence IV. Harrowing Desperation V. Heavy Rest The Chains Of The Damned VI. Judgment VII. Demise Carries With It A Song VIII. The Mountain IX. Hour Of Cessation X. Remission XI. Beneath Red Skies XII. Epilogue
Posted in Reviews on October 12th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
I didn’t hear immediately about Wovenhand‘s The Laughing Stalk upon its digital release on Sept. 11, but I’ve spent a fair amount of time with it since, the David Eugene Edwards-led Colorado progressive/neo-folk outfit continuing to seek the very kind of aural fullness that Edwards‘ prior outfit, 16 Horsepower, seemed so bent on eschewing. The Laughing Stalk (released by Sounds Familyre in the US and Glitterhouse in Europe in a limited-to-2,000 LP/CD run due in November) follows 2010′s TheThreshingfloor (semi-review here), a powerful fifth album that set the tone for many of the explorations contained in these nine tracks, which run a stylistic gamut from the grandiose pop of “In the Temple” (which sounds like what U2 might be if they weren’t a vacuous minstrelsy of false importance) to the late-arriving distortion of “As Wool,” punkish in its snare insistence and as joyous as it is heavy.
Tying the material together is Edwards‘ unmatched depth of arrangement, unabashed Christian faith and inimitable vocal swagger. It is the latter that carries the landscape of opener “Long Horn,” though perhaps more than they’ve ever been, Wovenhand are a full band on The Laughing Stalk, and whatever presence Edwards brings to these tracks (he brings plenty) is enriched by the performances of guitarist Sir Charles French, bassist Gregory Garcia, drummer Ordy Garrison (who features often) and organist Jeffery Linsenmeier. Songs here are expansive, beginning with “Long Horn” and continuing through the viciously rhythmic closer “Glistening Black,” but there’s space in them as well, and as ever, Edwards gracefully straddles genre as only one genuinely unconcerned with it can.
In its stylistic sprawl, The Laughing Stalkbasks in an expanded definition Americana, bringing in Native American rhythms and adapting them to a track like “King o King,” both one of the record’s heaviest and most memorable cuts, with verse proclamations no less resonant than the release of its chorus. Put in the Christian context, it’s a problematic mesh, but so is American history. Wherever individual pieces go, be it the shorter, avant incantations of “Closer” or the ethereal piano wonderment of “Maize,” which follows and begins with the single word “fox,” what remains firm is a focus on rhythm, on percussion, and an unmistakably heavy vibe. The music itself is often weighted, sonically I mean, and emotional heft is nothing new for Edwards with this band over the course of their now decade-long tenure, but as dark as Wovenhand have been at times in the past, the elements have never been quite put together in this combination.
Likewise, I’m not sure they’ve ever sounded quite so rapturous. While Garrison beats out a percussive line as to make Danny Carey of Tool circa “Reflection” blush, Edwards bides his time vocally for the power and fury to come later into the song, topping heady, far-back distorted guitars with a profession of faith that asks, “Who is like as you are?” in that elevated preacher’s son language that has always given Wovenhand a spiritual sensibility to go with their ultra-upfront religiosity, taking the words and not just repeating, but using them to speak.
About that: I’ve long been of the opinion that if you disparage a work of art on the basis of faith, whether it’s a statue of Buddha carved into the side of a mountain or a Trouble record, you’re a fool. There’s been no shortage truly heinous shit done in the name of Christianity throughout the last 1,800 years or so, but on the other hand, the Pietà (we can debate the balance of one side or the other ad nauseam, and people do, as if it could get them anywhere). If you can’t take Edwards turning dogma into gorgeous hymns as he does here, you’re the one losing out. “As Wool” and “Glistening Black” cap The Laughing Stalk with crushing, humbling grace, each enacting an album’s worth of build and exaltation on its own, and offering the collection’s most bombastic moments, never uncontrolled no matter how much they might seem to be on the verge of collapse.
Those who’ve never heard Wovenhand before who come from the heavier end of the spectrum will probably have more in The Laughing Stalk to cling to than they may have on earlier outings like 2004′s Consider the Birds or 2002′s self-titled debut, but everything on this album is no less Wovenhand now than that material was then. They’ve worked ceaselessly to push forward what that means, and however much pressure they may apply at any given moment in these songs, The Laughing Stalkshows no signs of breaking, and Wovenhand retain the mountainous sense of wonder that has typified their work since the start.
Posted in audiObelisk on September 29th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
It seems like a really long time ago, but I just heard that Colorado eclecticists Wovenhand have a new album on Wednesday night. Apparently they released The Laughing Stalk digitally on Sept. 11, and will follow that with a limited vinyl/CD run of 2,000 — I want one — through Sounds Familyre in November. This band is fucking amazing. Seriously. I know sometimes I can come off like I’m easily impressed — hardly a day goes by that I’m not drawn to something about this or that band; far from being a bad thing, I consider this a primary reason life is worth living, so fuck off should you feel otherwise — but man, when I listen to Wovenhand, it just makes me want to write. Every time.
The Laughing Stalk, which sets joyous bombast against the band’s as-always incredible arrangements, is a rare kind of heavy, and already for the three or four times I’ve been through it, I’m looking forward to getting to know it better. I still think about how unreal it was to see them at Roadburn 2011. I’d never been brave enough to go to one of their shows, and it was so visceral. Moving the way being shoved in the chest is moving.
Obviously, it’s making a pretty fitting accompaniment to tonight’s last glass of wine.
I’m in Connecticut for the weekend. The Patient Mrs. and I mark 15 years together today (our eighth wedding anniversary was Tuesday, I celebrated in Brooklyn), and though we were initially going to go to Montreal for the weekend, and then Philly — which I always love — we decided this would save money. And so it has. Fifteen years, man. You know how old I was 15 years ago? I was 15. Just a beardless boy.
I’ll say this: It’s a fucking miracle I’ve managed to hold onto this woman. No shit. My life is a collection of regrettable decisions. Top to bottom, I have utterly failed at existing as a human being in everything but this. And I can’t even take credit for it. She’s great and brilliant and I’m lucky, and until her much-heralded patience runs out and she kicks my incompetent manchild ass to the curb, my plan is to continue to worship the ground she walks on, and rightly so.
While I do that, I’ll say thanks to everyone who checked out the UK special this week. I guess it wasn’t the biggest deal in the world — just kind of a spur of the moment thing I decided to do — but it was fun nonetheless, and whether you’re from that part of the world or not, I hope you got to dig on a few cool bands. There’s good stuff from there these days, and a lot of it. Already I have more UK stuff to review — looking at you, Scotland’s Lords of Bastard — so this is by no means the end of that. As ever, more to come.
In addition, stay tuned next week for reviews of Mamont, Skanska Mord, Witchcraft and Egypt, as well as a H-U-G-E interview with Stefan Koglek of Colour Haze, who turned in easily the most detailed set of answers to an email Q&A I’ve ever seen. That’s all upcoming, as well as some huge news about Clamfight‘s release on The Maple Forum, a look at BerT‘s latest vinyl, and much more. As always, I hope you’ll stick around.
Until then, have a great and safe weekend. I owe a bunch of emails and Thee Facebooks messages, so I’ll be hoping to take care of that and a few email interviews going out as well, but I’ll still be checking in on the forum, so if you’re around, we’d love to have you. Either way, see you back here Monday and thanks as always for reading.
I’m not drunk on wine watching this video of Wovenhand‘s David Eugene Edwards performing the song “As I Went Out One Morning,” but the more the clip plays out, the more I wish I was. This was filmed at KEXP in 2009, and you know it’s artsy because the point of focus in the video keeps changing. As if the music wasn’t enough of a cue.
My plan for this weekend is, after being out on Long Island the early part of tomorrow, to come back and start making a new podcast, which I’ll have posted before the end of the day Sunday. I hope to start next week reviewing the High on Fire on Monday and then I guess I’ll take it from there. That’s going to be a doozy. The potential is also there for a Nate Hall track premiere on Monday (still waiting on confirmation), and I’ll also have a new Cortez song on Tuesday, and Tommy Southard‘s second column, and at some point in the week, my interview with Fursy Teyssier of Les Discrets.
There’s more, and if you haven’t been keeping up with the news forum this week, there’s a ton of cool stuff in there and I’m going to keep up with that as best I can from here on out, so stay tuned. Slevin fixed the sidebar widget, so the headlines are there too if you want to see when new posts go up. Oh, and if you haven’t yet listened to the Greenleaf stream, please do so, as that record is killer and the stream comes down on Monday.
I had a whole rant in here before about what a nuisance digital promos are, but decided to take it out. Why bother. The short version is I had a shitty week, but it was full of astoundingly good music delivered in a letdown of media.
Whether you think I’m a whiny jerk or not, I hope you have a great and safe weekend. See you on the forum and back here for the podcast at some point over the next couple days.
Thus begins the new series of Wino Wednesday posts celebrating the work of Scott “Wino” Weinrich on The Obelisk. I asked last week when I posted the new Premonition 13 clip if it should be a regular thing, and the response both on this site and Thee Facebooks was overwhelmingly yes, so here we are. I aim to please.
I probably could’ve gone back and found something older than the reunited Saint Vitus performing live earlier this year in Denver, Colorado, on the last night of the Metalliance Tour, but hell, the present is as good a place to start as anywhere, and “Born too Late” is one of doom’s greatest anthems. I figured no one would complain.
The song originally appeared on the 1986 album of the same name and was Wino‘s first album as Vitus‘ frontman, coming on following time in The Obsessed to replace Scott Reagers, who would later return to sing on 1995′s Die Healing. Note the Stone Axe shirt drummer Henry Vasquez is wearing in the video, because it rules.
Posted in Reviews on June 30th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
Taking on a host of aesthetics for their third genre-bending album since their 2007 inception, Colorado duo The Flight of Sleipnir weave their way through blackened folk metal and a progressive-edged doom on Essence of Nine. With the rich (if often used) lore of Norse mythology as their lyrical inspiration, multi-instrumentalists Clayton Cushman (guitar, vocals, bass, keys) and David Csicsely (drums, vocals, guitar) provide a varied approach across Essence of Nine’s eight cuts, flowing smoothly from song to song despite a relatively lo-fi production and managing to affect a dark but still emotionally-communicated atmosphere – that is, they’re not just angry and blasting out – with switches between early Opethian clean singing and more blackened forest screams.
Their second offering through German imprint Eyes Like Snow, it’s hard to get an immediate read on Essence of Nine from opener “Transcendence,” since the song starts with a doomed riff and groove that – were the tone fuzzier – would be pure stoner rock, and moves before long into an acoustic part before giving way, in turn, to far-back screams and heavier guitars and drums. The Flight of Sleipnir do a lot of back and forth between heavy and mellow, but in the context of the songs themselves, it’s not redundant, since Cushman and Csicsely keep what they’re actually playing so varied. “Transcendence” has some repetition of parts, but the chorus isn’t hooky in a songwriting sense, and if the start of the record makes anything clear, it’s that The Flight of Sleipnir are concerned more with stylistic complexity and the contrast between musical light and dark than pop catchiness.
Still, the track gives only a cursory glance at the diversity Essence of Nine carries with it. “Upon This Path We Tread,” which follows, provides even smoother transitions and an effective inclusion of acoustics à la modern Negura Bunget, and the album proceeds from there to unfold with the engaging riffs of “A Thousand Stones” and an increasingly developed atmosphere. There’s something definitively European about the sound The Flight of Sleipnir elicit and the imagery these songs provoke, but for its doom elements and effective balance between the metal and folk in folk metal, I wouldn’t call Essence of Nine redundant. Even on “As the Ashes Rise (The Embrace of Dusk),” which arguably accounts for some of Cushman and Csicsely’s most raging moments, that metallic indulgence is complemented in the second half of the song by an acoustic-led wistfulness that leads gorgeously into the 7:31 centerpiece, “Nine Worlds,” the high point of the album.
Posted in Features on December 9th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
Rife with gorgeous melodic complexity and a depth of arrangement I’ve not heard matched this year, The Threshingfloor by Colorado doom folk troupe Wovenhand is probably my favorite work by the David Eugene Edwards-fronted outfit since their 2002 self-titled debut. Edwards, who started Wovenhand in the wake of his prior traditionalist ensemble, 16 Horsepower, is among his generation’s most underrated songwriters, and the richness of The Threshingfloor only bears that further out.
This was to be Wovenhand‘s worldliest offering yet, with Turkish instrumentation and the kind of minor key vibes we in the West call “Eastern,” but The Threshingfloor is every bit the piece of Americana anything helmed by Edwards has ever been. Cuts like the depressive “Singing Grass” or the more joyful coming-home ode “Denver City” don’t try to hide their American folk roots, but like the best of modernity, they refine these traditions and expand on them. Edwards‘ arrangements are unmistakable, and on the jamming and heavy “Orchard Gate,” it’s plain to hear he’s at the height of his prowess.
The Threshingfloor has been my go-to nighttime driving album since I bought it back in July, and I think it’s going to be some time yet before I let it leave my trusty CD wallet. Like until the next one comes out. Definitely one of my personal favorites of 2010 and a record that loses none of its potency for repeated exposure. Also, for newcomers to the band, it’s a good place to start.
I’ve heard the word sludge used to classify bands from Pro-Pain to Neurosis to Grand Funk Railroad, so let’s be clear right off the bat that when I talk about sludge, I mean ultra-aggressive, screaming doom, played slow, played angry. It’s a term as nebulous as any other, but going from that specific definition, and considering the bands I’m about to recommend who play it, we should have a pretty good basis to work from.
There are some acts who take sludge to vicious extremes — see Fistula or Sollubi — blending in elements of black metal or SunnO))) style drone minimalism, but I’m not talking about them either. Where to start with sludge is the root of the subgenre, the key formative groups who’ve made it possible for a new generation to pull the sound in the multiple directions they have.
Because I couldn’t narrow it down to five, here are seven killer sludge bands to start with:
Crowbar: Their later material actually has little in common with what’s currently thought of as sludge, but 1991′s Obedience thru Suffering and 1993′s Crowbar are essential to understanding what the sound has become. The latter (recently reissued) is a better starting point for its more memorable songs.
Eyehategod: As much an influence in lifestyle and persona as for their music, the New Orleans gods of sonic fuck-all have nonetheless produced some of sludge’s most classic material. Just not in the last decade. At all. Start with 1993′s Take as Needed for Pain.
Negative Reaction: Their early stuff was more geared to sci-fi, which made the long-running Long Island outfit unique among their viscous peers. 2000′s endofyourerror saw them start to veer away from that into more personal lyrical territory, but it’s a stunningly abrasive listen nonetheless.
Posted in Reviews on August 11th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
Affected by thin Rocky Mountain air, Denver bashers Low Gravity come bursting out of the speakers with their self-titled, self-released five track EP. At 27 minutes, it’s more than a blip – I’ve heard shorter full-lengths – but its feel is less than a complete album, and I think the intent of the band was to give a sampling of what they’re about more than to execute an entire record, so we’ll go with that. EP it is.
They’re a two-guitar four-piece under the given monikers J. Ellis, A. Mullins, A. Williams, D. Ferguson, though who does what is a mystery. Listening to the Low Gravity EP, I keep thinking of Dozer’s first two records, how they took what Kyuss was doing in the desert and made it colder. Low Gravity seem to be doing something similar, though the vocals – mostly screamed, but not entirely without a sense of melody – are a point of departure between the two bands. Still, it’s a similar kind of guitar tone, groove and structure base, which isn’t a complaint at all. Interesting that a Kyuss influence would bounce off Sweden to get back to Colorado, like a cell phone signal going into space to get across a room, but stranger things have certainly happened.
“Manifesto” opens the EP in guitar-led fashion, though the drums and bass are more than just present in the mix, actively contributing to it. The production is clean and modern – I can see the tracks’ wave forms while I listen – but not unnatural. There’s nothing particularly complicated about the material, songs like “Two Queens” and the charmingly titled “Porklust” being straightforward fare that should be readily accessible for fans of stoner rock, but Low Gravity do it well and the angrier vocals give them an edge a lot of bands in their genre don’t have, lending an immediacy and urgency to the otherwise laid back and familiar vibes.
Posted in Reviews on August 4th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
The word that usually gets tossed around for the kind of music Denver, Colorado’s Black Sleep of Kali play is “apocalyptic,” and true enough, the first lyrics that show up on their Small Stone Records debut, Our Slow Decay, are “there is nothing to make it all better.” The crunching riffage and progressive angularity of the opening track, “There is Nothing” sets the tone to follow, and though we can all throw back our heads and exclaim how tired we are of post-metal, Black Sleep of Kali inject enough melody into their songwriting, particularly in the vocals of guitarist Taylor Williams, who founded the band after moving to Denver from Salt Lake City, to come out of it without sounding overly redundant.
If the phrases you picked out of that last paragraph were “Salt Lake City” and “Small Stone Records,” then you’re probably thinking of the band Iota, and indeed there is a connection. Andy Patterson from Iota recorded Our Slow Decay (he also recorded Iota’s excellent Small Stone debut, Tales), and Iota’s Joey Toscano donates a guitar solo to the Black Sleep of Kali cause. Joining Williams in the band are drummer Gordon Koch, heavy of hit, fleet of foot and large of sound, guitarist/backing vocalist Patrick Alberts, thick of tone, and bassist Austin Michel, lost of mix. Or lost in mix, rather. The guitars of Williams and Alberts, run though Orange heads, are practically a low end in and of themselves. As the bassist said when mixing, “More bass, please.”
Unlike a lot of today’s Orange-hued recordings, each twist and turn in the playing of Williams and Alberts is audible in the guitar, which makes me wonder just how much Patterson or Mad Oak Studios’ Benny Grotto, who mixed, had to compress them to make that possible. Nonetheless, the material on Our Slow Decay doesn’t sound unnatural, or at least anymore than it should for being what it is musically. For those looking for a comparison point within the label’s roster, Obiat is closer than Iota, though Black Sleep of Kali forgo any of Obiat’s quirky tendencies to keep their songs straightforward in a post-metal kind of way, the aforementioned vocal melody showing up quick in the style of Torche on “There is Nothing” and continuing through the album, making that track as well as “Eulogy” and “Big Sky” among the highlights of Our Slow Decay, although admittedly, the latter is much helped as well by a guitar solo rested on top of insistent Mastodon-type riffing that is a welcome change of pace late in the set.
I’m not exactly awash in free shit, but with a backlog of promo discs and downloaded albums waiting to be reviewed, it wouldn’t be fair for me to take the time and effort away from people soliciting evaluation and grant it to stuff I bought just because I feel like talking about music I like. On the other hand, it wouldn’t be right for me to ignore good records just because I didn’t get them for free. Enter the happy medium.
Here are two records that’d be on top of the review pile had I not bought them instead:
Wovenhand, The Threshingfloor: I did an old school CD store search for this album. True, I could have bought it from Sounds Familyre, the label, but I wanted the satisfaction of finding it on a shelf and making the purchase. Only after calling and visiting more than five stores, including such heavy hitters as Vintage Vinyl and Generation Records did I finally come across a copy at Other Music in NYC. I knew they’d have it. They’re just that hip.
If you’ve never experienced David Eugene Edwards (formerly of 16 Horsepower), there are two things you need to know about him: he’s a genius and he’s super-Christian. Oh man, does he ever love him some Jesus. And it shows on the music, but if you let that bother you, you’re going to miss out. Michelangelo‘s Sistine Chapel is Christian too, doesn’t mean it’s not beautiful.
On The Threshingfloor, Edwards reminds that although he’s one of the most gifted songwriters and vocalists out there today, his true point of innovation and individuality is in arrangement. He brings in a variety of styles (from electronic drum beats and a New Order cover to Hungarian shepherd’s flute on a song about a town in Indiana) to these songs, and it might be his most accomplished collection yet. There are some downright rocking moments (“Denver City”), but Edwards is never really reigned into one genre or another. In short, I’m really, really glad I found this record, and I think when and if you hear it, you might be too.
Master Musicians of Bukkake, Totem Two: I actually bought this back in April at Roadburn, and I’ve been debating back and forth ever since whether or not to give it a full review. Helping the “no” side is laziness, since the seven-piece (plus guests) Master Musicians of Bukkake make music so complex it would literally take me days to describe every twist, turn and influence on Totem Two, their style harkening a ritualistic drone meshed with world music structures and instrumentation. Totem Two isn’t going to be for everyone, but man, there’s a small group of people out there who are going to worship at its proverbial feet.
The most recognizable figure in the band is Randall Dunn (producer for SunnO))), etc.), but Master Musicians of Bukkake isn’t the kind of outfit where one player really stands out. Rather, it’s an encompassing listening experience demanding attention, an open mind and patience. It is unrepentantly self-indulgent, unwaveringly pretentious and, in the shadow of its predecessor, Totem One (also on Important Records), so caked in complexity that you get tired just hearing it. Spiritually drained, but in a good way, as though you’ve been on some kind of auditory vision quest and glimpsed the horror of your own consuming insignificance.
…There. That’s a load off my mind. I hope you get to check out either of these records, and when you listen, I hope you dig them even half as much as I do.
Posted in Reviews on February 24th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
It is no small thing to begin a stoner metal song in this day and age with a sample of a motorcycle engine revving. If there is one thing that’s going to make your audience say, “Alright, this better be the best riff I’ve ever heard,” it’s that. Not only has it been so done to death throughout this genre, but so often the engine noise has been accompanied by road-ready barn-burner guitar lines, that to expect anything else is pointless. Yet, somehow, “Ape Parade,” the second song on Invisible Orange’s debut full-length, Iron Mountain(Gary the “Landlord” Records),begins with such a sample and goes into a mellow groove before kicking in.
I will say that despite this egregious error on the part of the band (the song ends with the same noise), opener “Run” left a completely different impression the first time I heard it. I don’t recall to what I was listening prior, but there was an out-loud declaration of, “Yes, that sounds about right,” that came with hearing the opening riff of Iron Mountain, so within the first two tracks of the record, we can already see it works both ways. The Denver, Colorado, four-piece run through an expected 10 tracks of ‘90s-inspired stoner metal, bearing heavy riffage from guitarist Adrian Moore and the from-the-stomach Garcia/Hetfield-isms of vocalist Donovan Breazeale with abundant energy and a self-sustained feel that’s definitely reliant on 21st Century production methods, but comes off as reasonably natural nonetheless.