Review & Track Premiere: Papir, VI

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on April 19th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

papir vi

[Click play above to stream “VI.I” from Papir’s new album, VI. It’s out May 10 on Stickman Records.]

The trio of trio of guitarist Nicklas Sørensen, drummer Christoffer Brøchmann Christensen and bassist Christian Becher Clausen would seem to reach a new level of maturity in their presentation on their sixth album, suitably titled VI. Issued through Stickman Records as the follow-up to their debut on the label, 2017’s V (review here), it continues the Danish instrumentalists’ progressive streak that began with their 2010 self-titled and saw them align to El Paraiso for the subsequent three studio offerings, the last of which was 2014’s IIII (review here), as well as a live album. However, it’s also a marked departure from its predecessor in terms of basic intent, and where V was a 2LP with a staggering 94-minute runtime, VI pulls back on that impulse and instead offers four tracks in an entirely more manageable 39 minutes, feeling less like a splurge and more like a quick excursion to someplace peaceful and other.

Its songs are extended enough and lush with warm crash and mellotron filling out the mix, never mind the dream-toned guitar and effects, to be genuinely immersive, but the mood for the bulk of VI is bright and creative, as though the band were looking to open a conversation or at very least elicit one among those who’d engage with their work. To call it a headphone album is basically to ask someone if they like peaceful summer afternoons, and as the band evoke Yawning Man with some slide guitar and Colour Haze in the apex of “VI.III,” even this is brought into the broader context of their own characterization. That is, Papir have their influences, but rather than work toward them, they’re using them to the band’s own ends. They’re not trying to sound like anything other than themselves, and perhaps unsurprisingly, it suits them.

That shortened runtime is crucial to the experience of the album. It was no hardship to put V on and bliss out for the duration, but part of that experience was getting lost in the flow of Papir‘s material. VI is best given a more conscious approach to shifts like the percussiveness of “VI.IV” or the linear build in “VI.II” or the interplay of drift and wash that opens with “VI.I.” And they make that easy. There is some sense of structure as “VI.I” and “VI.IV” bookend the record at 10:07 and 11:04, respectively, while both “VI.II” and “VI.III” hover on either end of the nine-minute mark, ending side A and beginning side B with a fluidity that seems to extend to the conceptual. Yes, it’s still easy to get lost in what they’re doing if that’s the way you want to go, but doing so misses out on moments like the cascading river of tone in “VI.I” as it moves toward its conclusion, or the gradual opening of “VI.II,” with a bouncing, almost playful guitar leading the way accompanied by quiet but nuanced drums.

papir

I’m not going to try to dissuade anyone from listening to VI however they want, but to just float off on Clausen‘s “VI.III” bassline misses some of the exceptional details surrounding and obvious care the band have put into crafting their work. I guess what’s most called for, then, are multiple listens. So be it. The chemistry between Sørensen, Clausen and Christensen makes that a pleasurable undertaking, to be sure, and hey, if every now and again one might return to VI for a bit of escapism, I’m nobody to call it wrong. The point is that what Papir have created something that’s worth conscious interaction. Once you’ve done that, however you want to spend your time is up to you. Perhaps most crucial, they invite multiple listens in no small part through the accessibility of these tracks and the quicker runtime of the entire affair. You could put it on twice in less than the time it would take to listen to V once. That’s a considerable change, but it shows that growth doesn’t always have to mean just doing things bigger.

Indeed, I’ll gladly argue that VI is Papir‘s most progressive work to-date in no small part because they’ve taken such a conscious step to allow for easier audience engagement. Their material is still plenty far out, of course. The jazz drumming in “VI.IV” and the consuming effects that surround it demonstrate that plainly enough. But they make it so easy to listen. And to listen again, and to listen again. It’s not just about being shorter. That’s a piece of it, but even the songs themselves seem to flesh out in a way that signals Papir reaching a new sphere of expression. They are memorable even without verse or chorus hooks, and the atmosphere they set rests easily atop the entire LP as a welcome presence. Their style has always been exploratory, and that holds true here as well, but VI is as much about being in a place as it is about finding somewhere new to go. One can hear a certain restlessness in “VI.IV” as it rounds out the album with a last, well-earned payoff and crashes out quickly to end, and that’s consistent with what Papir have done in the past, but the difference is in the context through which that moment arises.

If by the end of VI the band are ready to head elsewhere, well, they should be, but that doesn’t diminish the ground they’ve covered in the songs preceding. Rather, across “VI.I,” “VI.II,” “VI.III” and “VI.IV,” they poetically ask their listeners to join them in this space they’ve created. That they don’t ultimately stay there shouldn’t be a surprise — they’ve done nothing to this point in their career that one would call static — but there is a sense throughout of having arrived on the part of the band, and if that’s part of how their maturity comes through in the material, then it finds Papir with an individualized take born of an organic development in their sound that’s played out over their records to this point, getting them to where they are. As to where they might go, the only guess I’d hazard is “forward,” since that’s where they’ve always gone. More important for the moment is what they’ve accomplished here in terms of positioning themselves among upper echelon of European heavy psychedelia.

Papir on Thee Facebooks

Papir on Bandcamp

Papir Blogspot

Stickman Records website

Stickman Records on Thee Facebooks

Stickman Records on Twitter

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Papir Set May 10 Release for VI; Preorders up Now

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 2nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

papir

If life ever puts you in the position of being in the same place where Papir are playing, you should make every effort to watch them play. Fortunately for everyone else, they do a fair amount of recording. VI, sure enough, is their sixth album since they got their start in 2010, and its four-track LP self follows behind 2017’s mega-expansive stunner, V (review here). That, of course, was a 2LP — no single platter could contain it. Does the shift back to a single-vinyl release indicate perhaps that the Danish trio have likewise reined in their sound to some degree or other? And what effect might that have on the overall result of the record? I said as much when they hit the studio in December, but god damn I’m curious to hear this album. The only thing I was willing to predict about it was the title, and as there’s no audio public from it yet, that remains the case.

Art and info follow from the PR wire:

papir vi

New Papir album VI on presale

release date: May 10th, 2019

Papir, a trio from Copenhagen, might be the ultimate expression of the Danish creative soul: distinctively modern, deceptively minimalistic, and stylish yet understated. A band of virtuoso musicians who move between psychedelic rock, jazz and krautrock seamlessly with the ability to hypnotize audiences, Papir could easily be the showboats of the scene. However, since the appearance of their self-titled record in 2010, Papir have continued to follow their own road map, creating music with little interest in playing to the masses or catering to a specific genre.

On VI, Papir show a mastery of all their faces, combining the guitar heroics of their first few records with the more lush sound of 2017’s V. From epic psychedelic guitar meltdowns à la Earthless to sweeping, reverb-drenched soundscapes, it’s all here and held together by a core of dense rhythm and melody. In a mere 4 songs, Papir once again refresh tired ears with their unmistakable approach to rock music, leaving the listener blissed rather than bludgeoned.

Available on 180gr clear vinyl + download code and on CD.

Tracklist
VI.I
VI.II
VI.III
VI.IV

Preorder here: https://www.stickman-records.com/shop/papir-vi/

Papir is:
Nicklas Sørensen
Christoffer Brøchmann Christensen
Christian Becher Clausen

https://www.facebook.com/papirband
https://papir.bandcamp.com/
https://www.stickman-records.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Stickman-Records-1522369868033940

Papir, V (2017)

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Heilung to Release Futha June 28; Teaser Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 28th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

So, I know it’s not exactly fitting with the atmosphere of the release or anything, but yesterday when the email came in with the teaser clip for Heilung‘s forthcoming second album, Futha, I was sitting at the kitchen table — as I will with the laptop — post-lunch with The Pecan and The Patient Mrs., and I put the teaser on, and the demon-voice came on, and the baby started impersonating it. I almost died. We’ve done “death metal growls” and stuff before, but he just picked up on what Heilung were doing in the minute-long clip and kind of ran with it. Needless to say, I worry about how he’ll do at pre-school.

But at least he’ll have good taste.

Heilung are way up high on my gotta-see-at-Roadburn list, and they’ve got a bunch of other dates booked as well. All info follows, courtesy of the PR wire. Teaser is at the bottom:

heilung

HEILUNG Tease Forthcoming Album, ‘Futha’

HEILUNG will be releasing their next studio album, ‘Futha,’ on June 28 via Season of Mist. The band have released a poetic album teaser in advance of the release.

The band comments, “‘Futha’ was three years in the making and was finished in the dark, Danish midwinter. But after darkness comes light, after winter comes spring, after suffering comes relief, after ‘Ofnir’ comes ‘Futha.’ Here’s what the spirits has to say about it!”

On the meaning of the album title, HEILUNG explains: “The majority of full rune set inscriptions start with ‘Futha,’ and is known to us as the first four letters in all runic alphabets. It is considered that our forefathers saw magic potential in engraving the full rune line, but there is also great significance in the beginnings. Science has no key for the meaning of only engraving the first couple of letters yet, but there is, of course, a surplus of theories. One of the theories we found inspiration in, is that ‘Futha’ holds the meaning of fertility and female gender. As ‘Ofnir’ focused on war and masculine notions, the great healing power of female wild strength is evoked in Futha. Those who have been present at a birth or have seen lionesses hunting know the spirit, and we welcome and embrace it in the sounds that were born during the creation of ‘Futha.'”

More album details will be revealed soon. In the meantime, you can purchase merch and their last album, ‘Ofnir,’ HERE.

HEILUNG have previously announced a European tour in October and November this year. The tour will kick off on October 22nd in Warsaw (PL) and will end about a month later in Paris (FR). Find the full list of tour dates below.

HEILUNG Festival Performances 2019:
04/11: Tilburg (NL) @ Roadburn Festival
04/17: St. Petersburg (RU) @ Aurora
04/19: Moscow (RU) @ Arbat Hall
06/20: Copenhagen (DK) @ Copenhell Festival 2019 (Exact date TBA)
06/29: Helsinki (FI) @ Tuska 2019 (Exact date TBA)
08/18: Borre (NO) @ Midgardsblot 2019 (Exact date TBA)
09/07: Selb (DE) @ Mediaval Festival 2019 (Exact date TBA)
10/19: Hameln (DE) @ Autumn Moon Festival 2019 (Exact date TBA)

HEILUNG European tour:
10/22: Palladium (PL) @ Warschau
10/24: Berlin (DE) @ Admiralspalast
10/26: Essen (DE) @ Colosseum Theater
10/28: Munich (DE) @ Circus Krone
10/30: Prague (CZ) @ Hybernia
11/01: Halle (DE) @ Händelhalle
11/03: Vienna (AT) @ Der Globe
11/05: Zurich (CH) @ Volkshaus
11/07: Kiel (DE) @ Kieler Schloss
11/10: London (UK) @ Roundhouse
11/17: Brussels (BE) @ AB
11/20: Paris (FR) @ Elysée Montmartre

Line-up
Kai Uwe Faust
Christopher Juul
Maria Franz

https://www.facebook.com/amplifiedhistory
https://www.instagram.com/amplifiedhistory/
https://heilung.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/seasonofmistofficial
https://www.twitter.com/seasonofmist
https://shopusa.season-of-mist.com

Heilung, Futha album teaser

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Demon Head, Hellfire Ocean Void: Own the Hour

Posted in Reviews on February 15th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

demon head hellfire ocean void

There are those who’ll argue against there being any room for growth in a retro aesthetic. That the style is inherently stagnant. It sounds old, therefore it sounds redundant. It’s an argument as simple as it is ridiculous and Copenhagen’s Demon Head give a compelling glimpse at why by means of Hellfire Ocean Void. It is their third full-length and first through respected purveyor Svart Records, and it manifests a theatricality and progressive sense of drama all its own while staying loyal to an underlying classicism. As songs like “The Night is Yours” and “In the Hour of the Wolf” dynamically blend aspects of gothic post-punk, dark psychedelia, doom and proto-metallic tonality, the five-piece — a returning lineup of vocalist Marcus Ferreira Larsen, lead guitarist Thor Gjerlufsen Nielsen, rhythm guitarist/keyboardist Birk Gjerlufsen Nielsen, bassist Mikkel Sander Fuglsang and drummer Jeppe “No You Can’t Know My Middle Name” Wittus — bring individualism to established styles by crafting a blend that is theirs alone.

To be sure, this has been their trajectory all the while. Their second album, 2017’s Thunder on the Fields (review here), built fluidly on the prior 2015 debut, Ride the Wilderness (review here), and in that context, Hellfire Ocean Void is another forward step in the series — but it’s a big step. That can be heard as “In the Hour of the Wolf” picks up from the jangly “A Flaming Sea,” in which Larsen delivers the title line, and shifts in its second half to hypnotic progressive guitar lines as it moves toward its final, sweeping solo. It can be heard in the folkish vocal harmonies that begin side B with the acoustic-led intro “Labyrinth,” the way in which scorching leads of the subsequent “Strange Eggs” draw down the tempo ahead of the final dirge march, or how closer “Mercury and Sulphur” seems to pull the various sides together into one cohesive entirety for its eight and a half minutes. Simply put, this is the record that those who’ve caught on to Demon Head have been hearing the potential for up till now. It is the realization of their promise as a band.

Much of the noted drama involved can be traced to the vocals, and again, that’s been a steady factor in Demon Head since their beginnings five years ago with Demo 2014 (review here) and the single Demon Head b/w Winterland (review here), but neither should the work of the Nielsens on guitar be understated in its contribution. Even Wittus‘ crash cymbal seems to have a grand purpose in crafting the wash by the time “Mercury and Sulphur” is hitting its payoff, and sure enough the last piece to go from that track is Fuglsang‘s bass, so indeed, it’s everybody. And it’s a question of confidence, definitely. Demon Head are fast veterans at the half-decade mark, and while they haven’t spent six months out of each year touring and playing festivals, they’ve done a fair share of road time, so they should be as sure of themselves and what they’re doing as they are. They sound throughout the eight songs/40 minutes of Hellfire Ocean Void like a band experienced in the studio, who know how to balance live energy of performance with the opportunities for sonic expansion that recording allows.

demon head

Their scope, their sheer sonic reach, has never been so broad, and as the album opens with the quiet piano introduction “Rumours,” the intent of grandeur is clearly stated. And yet Hellfire Ocean Void isn’t overblown. It isn’t consumed by its own progression at the expense of the songs. Demon Head‘s naturalist tonality keeps them grounded, and their level of songcraft assures that even as “The Night is Yours” and “The Flaming Sea” provide an initial showcase of the band’s intent in conveying the maturity of their approach and how far they’ve come, their work is still catchy and engaging on a basic structural level. That remains true even in the wider soundscaping of “In the Hour of the Wolf,” with its goth disco animalia, the delightfully and willfully bizarre “Strange Eggs” and the patiently expansive and doomed “Mercury and Sulphur,” which comprise a movement unto themselves of nuance and character, but have their hooks nonetheless.

Further, Demon Head evince a whole-album approach not only within the songs, but in the patterning of the album itself. From “Rumours” into “The Night is Yours,” “A Flaming Sea” into “In the Hour of the Wolf,” “Labyrinth” into “Strange Eggs” and the penultimate “Death’s Solitude” into “Mercury and Sulphur,” Hellfire Ocean Void shifts from shorter-track/longer-track in such a way as to directly portray the dynamism of the band and a feeling of stylistic diversity. In particular, “Death’s Solitude,” with its xylophone (I’m pretty sure I hear that elsewhere too, unless I’m imagining things) and tension-building tom runs, acts as a direct line into the finale in such a way as to make one believe it was written precisely for that purpose. It’s longer than “Rumours” or “Labyrinth,” and the quiet guitar of its first half seems to foreshadow the breakout that comes circa 1:20 in, but after that, it’s the vocals in a showcase over an instrumental tempest that ultimately holds sway and moves into the closer after a quick fade to set up the stark strum of guitar at the start of “Mercury and Sulphur.”

It’s one more moment in which Demon Head so carefully but so naturally prove themselves to be masters of their sound. Hellfire Ocean Void is not necessarily immediate — it may take a few listens to completely unveil its scope — but when it does, it’s all the more satisfying a listening experience. And it’s worth noting that even as they reach this new echelon of craft, Demon Head maintain an abiding lack of pretense. As far out as they go, they don’t lose themselves in the work, and they don’t lose sight of the songs. The difference that makes across the LP’s two-sided span is massive when it comes time for “Mercury and Sulphur” to make its final outward plod; a stretch that is neither over-the-top emotionally nor failing to connect in terms of affecting a mood. With Hellfire Ocean VoidDemon Head serve notice that they’ve been underrated up to this point in their tenure, and not only reaffirm and manifest their own forward potential, but that of their genre as a whole, even as they grow beyond its confines.

Demon Head, Hellfire Ocean Void (2019)

Demon Head on Thee Facebooks

Demon Head on Bandcamp

Demon Head webstore

Svart Records website

Svart Records on Thee Facebooks

Svart Records on Twitter

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Øresund Space Collective, Kybalion: Augmenting Reality

Posted in Reviews on December 28th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

oresund space collective kybalion

It makes sense somehow that after 12 years and countless studio and live releases, Øresund Space Collective would at last go transdimensional. The vehicle for the beginning of their evolution into a noncorporeal cybernetic form is called Kybalion, and actually the title refers to the book of Hermetic philosophy teaching, among others, the principle of mentalism that puts thought as the basis for, well, everything, but either way, they sound thrilled to make the trip. Featuring eight songs and an 80-minute 2LP run, it was recorded in Nov. 2016, at either the same session or concurrent gathering to when the somewhat amorphous improv jam unit put down what became late 2017’s Hallucinations Inside the Oracle (review here). That’s by no means the first time Øresund Space Collective have gotten more than one record out of a session — 2016’s Visions Of… (review here), Different Creatures (review here) and Ode to a Black Hole (review here) were all recorded over a period of three days in Oct. 2014 — so there may yet be more to come from the Nov. 2016 session.

Either way, they certainly give plenty to chew on in extended jams like 21-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Open the Door and Ride,” and as alluded to at the outset, they’re working in multiple dimensions. The Space Rock Productions vinyl and a special edition of the CD come with cover art and extra artwork that works with an augmented reality app to give a 3D art experience, the cover coming to life as Øresund Space Collective synth wizard and bandleader Scott “Dr. Space” Heller speaks in echo about the mentalism and the power of thought in the universe and so on. Even the labels of the LP itself see the artwork of Batuhan Bintas (CyberRabbit) come to life. It looks to be remarkably well done, and as the cover is filled with various iconography, there’s plenty to dig into, from blue Venus to a rocking future Stephen Hawking and acid guru Owsley Stanley on what seems to be a cosmic bicycle.

As to the songs themselves, on the whole they’re shorter snippets than Øresund Space Collective sometimes manifest, but whether it’s the funky guitar and violin in the 17-minute “Take a Trip” or the classic rock flair to the extended guitar lead in “Open the Door and Ride,” there is a sense of personality to each jam that stands it out among its peers, whether it’s the running water sounds and later psychedelic thrust of “Pixie Dust,” the more forward synth of and motorik beat of “Down the Tube” or the sci-fi wash of “Sequencing the Human Brain,” synth and keyboard intertwining along with pulled bluesy guitar notes and an ultra-psychedelic crux that pushes the drums deep into the mix to let the ambience hold sway. Two sort-of-interludes appear as the second and second-to-last tracks, with “Drop It – Tropical Flavour of the Month” and “New Tropical Flavor” that indeed are named for the surf sound of the guitar, and they’re quick at under three minutes apiece and do well to tie together some of the disparate sides of Kybalion.

The band must have a million of these “usable moments” hanging around from their periodic get-in-the-studio-and-hit-record sessions, but the “Tropical” duo are put to effective use here. The last cut and the just the third out of the eight to touch the 10-minute mark is “Smooth Future,” and while, again, it’s relatively short at 10:10, it’s a gorgeous and serene note to end on, with synth gently cascading in and out in a slow-motion swirl as violin and guitar accent each other and the drums and bass hold together a steady and laid back space rocking outward progression. It comes to a pretty fervent push in its final minutes, but by the time they get there, the sense of drift is so palpable that there’s really nothing overstated about it, and they end, as the title indicates, smooth, with drums, synth and effects-laced guitars gently letting the listener go back to reality.

But who the hell wants to be in reality? Obviously not Øresund Space Collective, or they wouldn’t proffer such resonant sparefaring jams in the first place. As always for them, the music is improvised, and that exploratory sensibility has come to define their work. I have no doubt that they have their bumps in the creative road, and when I called pieces “snippets” above, that wasn’t an accident Even as “Pixie Dust,” “Down the Tube” and “Sequencing of the Human Brain” reach over nine minutes long, they feel like glimpses of longer jams, fluid moments captured on tape. Behind September’s Live in Berlin 2018 (review here) and May’s Chatoyant Breath (review here), Kybalion is the third Øresund Space Collective offering of 2018 — though Dr. Space also had a second solo album out — and it may or may not be the final collection culled from that Nov. 2016 session, but either way, for its multi-phase presentation and its as-ever glimpse at the big-bang moment of the creative process, the very beginnings of the spark that for many becomes the foundation of verses or choruses, the collective’s latest astrojazz/krautronaut excursion should well please fans looking to bask in the grand kosmiche chill that unites the various strings of galaxies and mind, thought and form.

Recent past outings have seen them partnered with former Siena Root/Indian classicist multi-instrumentalist KG Westman (Hallucinations Inside the Oracle) and guitarist Gary Arce of Yawning Man (Chatoyant Breath), but Kybalion reminds that so much of the appeal of Øresund Space Collective in the first place comes from the chemistry happening in the moment the jams are taking place, in that marriage between the ephemeral and the ethereal, their music seeming to speak to something so timeless while also being fleeting and gone the moment it’s put down, since, inevitably, the same improvisation can’t happen twice. Their megajams continue to stand them out in the sphere of heavy psychedelia and space rock, and while I don’t know the next time Øresund Space Collective will get together for a few days in Copenhagen or elsewhere, they only ever seem to push themselves further into the greater reaches of Far Out, and I can hear nothing in Kybalion to indicate their expansion will stop anytime soon.

Øresund Space Collective, Kybalion AR demonstration

Øresund Space Collective, Kybalion (2018)

Øresund Space Collective on The Facebooks

Øresund Space Collective on Bandcamp

Øresund Space Collective website

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Papir Enter Studio for New Album

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 27th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

I can’t help but wonder what the next studio album from Papir will bring. The Copenhagen-based progressive instrumentalists kind of blew the doors open with 2017’s V (review here) as regards the spaces their sound explores, and they’ve always been a forward-thinking band, so as they’re aligned to the progressive-minded Stickman Records and with Nicklas Sørensen also venturing into a string of solo releases, it seems fair to expect a new Papir outing to have a broad reach. The last one certainly did. Also the one before that. And the one before that. Etc.

So while I go ahead and get my hopes up, we’ll see as more solid release dates come around when the album is done and all that. But it’s in progress, and I have little doubt that “progress” is the right word for what’s happening. Here’s looking forward as one so often does at the beginning of a year.

Stickman sent word down the PR wire. Dig it:

papir

Papir in studio

We’ve received word that Papir is already back in the studio recording what will become their 6th studio record! Last year, the band released their first album with us (their fifth – V) and in 2018 we reissued their first. Undoubtedly one of the most unique bands in psychedelic rock – if one can even call it that, with their recent tendencies towards atmospheric soundscapes – we’re looking forward to seeing what the band has been working on!

Papir has gradually developed their unique vision of instrumental rock over the course of four studio albums, culminating in their first full-length for Stickman Records, the aptly titled “V”. The amazing thing about Papir is how they transform psychedelic music into something new and relevant, something truly unique. Sure, they know their kraut- and prog-rock history, but unlike the majority of bands in the present day psych-rock scene they venture far beyond mere pastiche. Mounting the stage, the trio surprise from the get-go: no fully-tattooed longhairs with ostentatious battle vests or getups in sight – just three clean-cut young men, cheery, authentic. Pretense and image are rendered unnecessary – these guys can play and let their music do the talking. 

Papir is:
Nicklas Sørensen
Christoffer Brøchmann Christensen
Christian Becher Clausen

https://www.facebook.com/papirband
https://papir.bandcamp.com/
https://www.stickman-records.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Stickman-Records-1522369868033940

Papir, V (2017)

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Redwolves Release Future Becomes Past March 15

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 24th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

redwolves

Argonauta Records just don’t quit. The Italian label, for at least the last two years, probably longer at this point, has had a steady stream of pickups every couple of weeks and they just don’t stop. How many bands are even on this label now? It’s gotta be north of 50. The latest — although I say that and there’s probably another announcement waiting in my inbox from the PR wire — are Danish heavy rockers Redwolves, who’ll release their debut album through the label in March. That record, Future Becomes Past, would seem to be somewhat self-aware in its title, as there’s definitely a classic edge to their sound, or at least their was as of the four-piece’s 2016 outing, the Walking Roads EP. Of course, they could be talking about any number of things with the name of the album, up to and including the rise of populism in Northern Europe, but either way, the title fits.

And as always, the trusty PR wire brings the release announcement and details:

redwolves future becomes past

Heavy Psych Rockers REDWOLVES Reveal Album Details!

Debut Coming Out March 2019 With Argonauta Records!

Copenhagen based Heavy Psych Rockers REDWOLVES, who just recently announced the signing with powerhouse label Argonauta Records, have revealed the first details about their upcoming debut album! Titled ‘Future Becomes Past’, the band’s first full-length will be seeing the light of day on March 15th 2019.

After the release of their 2016-EP ‘Walking Roads’, a feisty show of REDWOLVES’ particular approach to modern sounding hard hitting Rock n’ Roll – fittingly rounded off by frontman Rasmus Cundell’s intelligent lyrics and distinctive vocals – the Danish quartet already left a first stamp in nowadays rock scene. “This is Rock’n’Roll the way it has to be!” Argonauta’s CEO Gero Lucisano confirms. “While I have listened to the songs of this awesome band the first time, I immediately thought of a modern attitude that sounds so fresh and with no compromise. What you will get here? An exciting group with their roots in Deep Purple and Thin Lizzy sonorities, paying homage to the always killer Scandinavian scene such as the Hellacopters. You have been warned!”

REDWOLVES formed in 2012 and found a musical community in their common affinity for the classic heavy rock and the 00’s new wave of Scandinavian rock. The band’s upcoming album will be a noticeable further development of REDWOLVES’ expression which through the records’ eight songs unfolds itself in a songwriting carrying catchy melodies, energetic and virtuoso musicianship and a modern and analogue attentive production by Jacob Bredahl (Riverhead, LLNN, Rising a.o.).

The band describes their music as “modern classic heavy rock” or at other times “future rock”. Both terms appropriately describes how heavy Rock n’ Roll effortlessly can remain relevant, as long as the classic virtues and a good dose of edge and innovation keep being present. REDWOLVES’ first full-length is a complex record, that shows several aspects of REDWOLVES’ talent for writing songs with both directness, catchy hooklines, dynamics and experimentation. This record will be party, light and joy, but equally despair, darkness and depression – and with good reason….

When REDWOLVES had started off the songwriting for their debut, a brutal incident occurred which was to be determining for the album. On New Years Eve 16/17, singer Rasmus Cundell was the subject of a violent attack which carved its deep traces, both personally and within the band. The event caused a delay of the creative process but at the same time, the band became an important catalyst for pulling through. The lyrics were written after the attack which therefore naturally constitutes the thematic subject matter of the album. On a personal level, the violence spawned a spiral of depressive and fearful thoughts but also on a more general level, the incident initiated a contemplation in regards to the possibilities of agency in a world that appears hostile and destructive.

Even though many of the songs origin from this depressive state, one still senses a path towards the light in the music, and it is this adamant hope that the record will remind you of. As the good sides of life can put depression, hopelessness and contingency into perspective, the negation of life can also put perspective on joy and light: “Especially because we all will perish soon, we must insist on living, partying, loving and not to be conquered by darkness, hate and destruction.” The band explains. “And thus, we must necessarily seek to journey out of the dark again.”

Today REDWOLVES have unveiled the album cover art and tracklist for their ‘Future Becomes Past’:

The tracklist reads as follows:
1. Plutocracy
2. Rigid Generation
3. The Abyss
4. Fenris
5. The Pioneer
6. Voyagers
7. Farthest From Heaven
8. Temple Of Dreams

Coming as CD and Digital Download on March 15th 2019, the album pre-sale will soon start on Argonauta Records, with many more news and first album tunes to follow!

www.facebook.com/Redwolvesband
https://redwolvesmusic.bandcamp.com
www.redwolves.dk
www.argonautarecords.com
www.facebook.com/ArgonautaRecords

Redwolves, Walking Roads (2016)

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Quarterly Review: BongCauldron, Black Helium, Earthbong, Sir Collapse, Alms, Haaze, The Sledge, Red Lama, Full Tone Generator, Mountain Dust

Posted in Reviews on December 12th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

Not to get off topic here, but it’s December, and god damn, I hate the fucking holidays. Christmas, even if you believe in the religious significance of the day, is pure garbage. I like giving presents well enough, don’t particularly enjoy receiving them, but even if you put aside the whole “oh it’s so commercial ‘now'” thing, like there was a time anyone now living ever saw when it wasn’t, it isn’t fun. The meal sucks. It’s dark. It’s cold. The songs are fucking endless and terrible — yes, all of them — and the whole experience is just a bummer the whole way through. If there was actually a war on it, I wish they’d drop the bomb and incinerate the entire thing.

Take Thanksgiving, make it start in November and end in December. A month-long festival for the season. You can even give gifts at the end, if you want. It could be like Ramadan, or, probably more likely and much on the opposite end of the spectrum, Oktoberfest.

There. Problem solved. Have a great day, everyone. Let’s do some reviews.

Quarterly Review #71-80:

BongCauldron, Tyke

BongCauldron Tyke

Biscuit, Corky and Jay of BongCauldron return less than 12 months out from their Binge LP (review here) with Tyke (on APF), three more cuts of weed-eating, dirt-worshiping, weed-worshiping, dirt-eating sludge, fueled as ever by fuckall and booze and banger riffs — and yes, I mean “banger” as in “bangers and mash.” There’s a lead that shows up in closer “Jezus Throat Horns” and some vocal melody that follows behind the throaty barks, but for the bulk of the three-tracker, it’s down to the business of conveying dense-toned disaffection and rolling nod. “Pisshead on the Moon” opens with a sample about alcohol killing you and works from its lumber into a bit of a shuffle for its midsection before hitting a wall in the last minute or so in order to make room for the punker blast of “Back up Bog Roll,” which tears ass and is gone as soon as it’s there, dropping some gang vocals on the way, because really, when you think about it, screw everything. Right? “Jezus Throat Horns” might be offering a bit of creative progression in closing out, but the heart of BongCauldron remains stained of finger and stank of breath — just the way it should be.

BongCauldron on Thee Facebooks

APF Records webstore

 

Black Helium, Primitive Fuck

black helium primitive fuck

Oh yes. Most definitely. From the Sabbath swing behind the chugging “Love the Drugs” and the march of “Wicked Witch” through the what-would-happen-if-Danzig-was-interesting “Summer Spells” and fuzzed-out post-punk shouts of “Videodrone” en route to the nine-minute “Curtains at the Mausoleum,” London four-piece Black Helium make heavy psychedelic songcraft into something as malleable as it should be on their Riot Season debut, Primitive Fuck, holding to underlying structures when it suits them and touching on drone bliss without ever really completely letting go. Opener “Drowsy Shores” is hypnotic. The aforementioned “Curtains at the Mausoleum” is hypnotic. Even the chug-meets-effects-blowout closing title-track is hypnotic, but on the handclap-laced “Do You Wanna Come Out Tonight?” or “Videodrone,” or even “Summer Spells,” there are hooks for the listener to latch onto, life-rafts floating in the swirling tonal abyss. The truth? There isn’t a primitive thing about it. They’re not so much lizard-brained as astral-planed, and if you want a summation of their sound, look no further than their name. It’ll make even more sense when you listen. Which you should do.

Black Helium on Thee Facebooks

Riot Season Records website

 

Earthbong, Demo 2018

earthbong demo 2018

The immediate association in terms of riff is going to be Sleep. “Drop Dead,” the 10-minute first of two songs on Earthbong‘s debut Demo 2018, rolls out with pure Dopesmoker-ism and follows the model of gradual unfolding of its weedian sludge riffery. No complaints. The Kiel, Germany, trio are obviously just getting their start, and since it’s a demo and not the “debut EP” that so many otherwise demos try to position themselves as, I’ll take it. And to boot, “Drop Dead” ultimately departs its Sleepy environs for altogether more abrasive fare, with Bongzilla-style screams and an increasingly aggressive shove, the drums crashing like the cymbals did something wrong, and feedback capping into the start of “Wanderer,” which is shorter at seven minutes and opens its assault earlier, the vocals no less distorted than the guitar or bass. There’s some space in a solo in the second half, but Earthbong again twist into harsh, crusty doom before letting feedback carry them out to the demo’s finish. Growing to do, but already their violence seethes.

Earthbong on Thee Facebooks

Earthbong on Bandcamp

 

Sir Collapse, Walk to the Moon

sir collapse walk to the moon

Grunge, noise rock and Queens of the Stone Age-style melody-making collide on Walk to the Moon, the debut full-length from German four-piece Sir Collapse, sometimes on disparate cuts, like the noisy intro given to the album by “Lower Principles,” and sometimes within the same song, as in the later “Like Me.” A jangly swing in “Mono Mantra” and the Nirvana-esque hook there soon gives way to the desert-hued thrust of “One Man Show” and the early ’90s fuzz of “Happy Planet Celebration,” while “The Great Escape” leads the way into some measure of evening out the approach in “Like Me,” “Too Late,” “Hey Ben” and “The Family,” unless that’s just the band acclimating the listener to their style. Fair enough either way. Sir Collapse round out with a return to the uptempo push shown earlier, giving their first LP an impressive sense of symmetry and whole-work presentation as layers of vocals intertwine with melody alternately lush and raw, sounding very much like a band who know the parameters in which they want to work going forward. So be it.

Sir Collapse on Thee Facebooks

Sir Collapse on Bandcamp

 

Alms, Act One

alms act one

Organ-soaked Baltimorean garage doomers Alms enter the conversation of 2018’s best debut albums with Act One on Shadow Kingdom, a collection rife with choice riffing, dynamic vocals and a nuanced blend of heft and drama. That a song like “The Toll” could be both as traditional sounding as it is and still modern enough to be called forward-thinking is nothing short of a triumph, and in the stomping “The Offering,” Alms cast forth a signature chorus that stands out from the tracks surrounding without departing the atmosphere so prevalent in their work. “Dead Water” at the outset and “For Shame” build a momentum through side A that the five-piece of keyboardist/vocalist Jess Kamen guitarists Bob Sweeney (also vocals) and Derrick Hans, bassist Andrew Harris and drummer Derrick Hans expand in the second half of the record, winding up in the early gruel of “Hollowed” only to resolve the album with speedier swing and as sure a hand as they’ve guided it all along. At six songs and 33 minutes, Act One unmistakably leaves the audience wanting more, and indeed, the plot may just be starting to unfold.

Alms on Thee Facebooks

Shadow Kingdom Records on Bandcamp

 

Haaze, Swamp Mama

Haaze Swamp Mama

It is a sharp, biting 27-minute run, but Swamp Mama isn’t just thrown together haphazardly. Alberta-based sludge metallers Haaze build a song like “35 Indians” to a head over the course of a deceptively efficient 4:44, following opening track “Beast of the Bog” with a developed sense of craft underlying the outward negativity of their sound. I’ll give the band bonus points for finishing side A with a song called “Stereotypically Doomed,” but more for the crash cymbal that seems to devour the mix. There’s a trashy undercurrent to the subsequent title-track, and as it finishes its pummel, it relinquishes ground to the acoustic interlude, “The Mechanic,” which I’m just going to assume is named for the Charles Bronson movie. That of course sets up the most extreme cut included in closer “AL,” which layers fierce growls and screams atop a rhythm clearly designed for maximum assault factor. A little more metal than sludge, it nonetheless remains tonally consistent with what comes before it, giving Swamp Mama a vicious ending and a feel that’s all the more lethal for it.

Haaze on Thee Facebooks

Haaze on Bandcamp

 

The Sledge, On the Verge of Nothing

the sledge on the verge of nothing

Copenhagen four-piece The Sledge boasts the three former members of heavy rockers Hjortene in guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist Palle, drummer/vocalist Kim and bassist Claus, so while they’ve revamped their identity and gone on to add vocalist Magnus Risby — who appears here on “179 Liars” and “Yet Untitled” — perhaps its somewhat disingenuous to consider their first album under the new moniker, On the Verge of Nothing, a debut. Issued through Kozmik Artifactz, the record collects eight tracks produced by Anders Hansen (who also worked with Hjortene) and mixed by Matt Bayles, and in listening to the cuts with Risby in the lead spot, the vibe taps into a thicker take on late-era Dozer with no less righteous melodicism. That, however, is just a fraction of the total story of On the Verge of Nothing, which taps earlier desert idolatry on “Death Drome Doline” and brings in none other than Lorenzo Woodrose himself for guest spots elsewhere. People in and out of the lineup through different tracks should make the LP disjointed, but as ever, it’s the songwriting that holds it together, and one can’t discount the core band’s experience playing together as a part of that either. Debut or not, it’s an impressive offering.

The Sledge on Thee Facebooks

Kozmik Artifactz website

 

Red Lama, Dogma

red lama dogma

One tends to think of serenity and peaceful drift when it comes to Danish heavy psych rockers Red Lama, but as the seven-piece band quickly turn around follow-up to their 2018 sophomore LP, Motions (discussed here), cuts like opener “Time” and “RLP” unfold with a particular sense of urgency, the former seeming to showcase an acknowledgement of sociopolitical circumstances in Europe and beyond in a way that seems to readjust their focus. That’s a tidy narrative, but if it’s a case of priorities being rebalanced, it’s striking nonetheless. To coincide, “RLP” has a heavier roll in its second half, and while second cut “State of the Art” and closer “Tearing up the Snow” both make their way past the five-minute mark with post-rocking pastoralia and dreamy melodies, there remains a feeling of a tighter focus in the tracks that could portend a new stage of the band’s development or could simply be a circumstance of what’s included here. The next album will tell the tale.

Red Lama on Thee Facebooks

Red Lama on Bandcamp

 

Full Tone Generator, Valley of the Universe

full tone generator valley of the universe

Fronted by Andy Fernando of Don Fernando, Full Tone Generator‘s debut long-player, Valley of the Universe, nonetheless bears the unmistakable hallmark of the Californian desert — in no small part because that’s where it was recorded. Fernando and guitarist/bassist/backing vocalist Brad Young traveled to that famed landscape to record with Bubba DuPree and Brant Bjork at Zainaland Studios, only to have the latter end up playing drums and contributing backing vocals as well to the eight-tracker. Not a bad deal, frankly. The key reference sound-wise throughout Valley of the Universe is Kyuss, particularly because of Bjork‘s involvement and Fernando‘s vocal style, but the slow-rolling “I Only Love You When I’m Loaded,” 59-second blaster “No Future” and the ending jam duo of “Preacher Man” and “Never to Return” make the ground their own, the latter with some surprise screams before it bounces its way into oblivion as though nothing ever happened. They’ve got the vibe down pat, but Full Tone Generator do more as well than simply retread desert rock’s founding principles.

Full Tone Generator on Thee Facebooks

Hurricane Music on Bandcamp

 

Mountain Dust, Seven Storms

mountain dust seven storms

Keys give Montreal four-piece Mountain Dust a tie to classic heavy blues and they use that element well to cast their identity in the spirit of a post-retro modern feel, details like the backing vocals of “White Bluffs” and the waltzing rhythm held by the snare on “Witness Marks” doing much to add complexity to the persona of the band. “You Could” goes over the top in its boozy regrets, but the dramas of “Old Chills” are full in sound and satisfyingly wistful, while closer “Stop Screaming” offers a bit of twang and slide guitar to go along with its sense of threat and consuming seven-minute finish. Tight songwriting and clean production do a lot to give Seven Storms a professional presentation, but ultimately it’s the band itself that shines through in terms of performance and as Mountain Dust follow-up their well-received 2016 debut, Nine Years, they sound confident in their approach and ready to flesh out in multiple directions while maintaining a central character to their sound that will be familiar to the converted enough to be a work of genre while setting the stage to become all the more their own as well.

Mountain Dust on Thee Facebooks

Kozmik Artifactz website

 

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