Review & Track Premiere: Grin, Translucent Blades

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on November 1st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

grin translucent blues

[Click play above to stream ‘Helix’ from Grin’s second album, Translucent Blades. Album is out Jan. 17, 2020, on Crazysane Records with preorders available here.]

Both Jan Oberg and Sabine Oberg, who together comprise the Berlin-based duo Grin, also double in Earth Ship. Though the origins are murky, it would seem Grin formed as a side-project of that outfit sometime ahead of recording and releasing their debut full-length, Revenant, last year, with Jan overseeing the recording and mixing at his own Hidden Planet studio in Berlin in addition to drumming, noisemaking and singing. He and Sabine, who also plays bass, would seem to have a hand vocally in Translucent Blades, the early 2020 Crazysane Records follow-up to that debut, but the process from which the second album emerges would seem to be somewhat similar — done at home, so to speak, with just the two of them involved.

It is a relatively quick eight-track/36-minute LP, and yet, the level of stylistic exploration and the sheer aesthetic ground covered on Translucent Blades is somewhat staggering, and while there’s little doubt that the material benefits from the players’ prior familiarity with each other — I don’t think it’s a coincidence they have the same last name; i.e., they’re married — but in concert with that is a clear will shown on a per-song basis to tread onto some new ground, try some new thing, and incorporate it into a whole that takes shape as being their own. Though quick, it is also a heady project, to be sure, but these are heady times, and one tends to think the general listenership is schooled in and out of genre in such a way as to appreciate the progressive aspects of what Grin build toward in cuts like “Husk” as well as the impact of the payoffs in “Orbital Grace,” “Electric Eye,” “Holy Grief” and the finale “Reviver,” which is aptly named for the blackened aspects it reignites from opener “Helix,” giving a symmetrical closing to the record that only underscores the notion of a masterplan at work on the part of the two-piece. And masters they just might be.

To wit, there’s no ground they touch on Translucent Blades that they don’t conquer. “Helix” begins with a push of low end and spacious crash cymbal, a swirl backing that’s either guitar effects or some kind of synthesizer noise as the first black metal-style cavern screams start — an immediate defiance of expectation that Grin wear exceedingly well. The overarching stylistic affect is psychedelic, and all the more so when a clean-sung chorus takes hold with even more delay/echo in the midsection, Jan and Sabine seeming to come together on vocals before a drop to standalone bass leads to a semi-spoken section with far-back shouts behind, the final stage of the first of eight tracks, summarized there in some ways but still with plenty of ground to boldly cover. “Orbital Grace” brings in Jesu-style post-all, while the title-track rolls out more severe plod with more semi-spoken lines atop a wide open atmosphere and a finish that — I don’t know if Grin are able to play live or if there’s just too much going on with layering to make it happen — but deserves to come from a stage somehow some way.

grin (Photo by Ruby Gold)

They again toy with black metal on “Husk,” but in squibbly guitar, not vocals, and push it so deep in the mix as to have almost an ambient effect alongside the galloping drums, playing out behind an airier lead and lyrics that are so drenched as to become part of the wash, an instrument unto themselves, as is clearly the intent. The risk any such release runs is in putting its aesthetic ambitions ahead of the songs, but Grin seem to pivot around this trap by making each piece on Translucent Blades stand out in some way while feeding into the complete flow of the record in its entirety. “Husk” rounds out side A and side B begins with the meditative-heavy-Om-via-Zaum unfurling of “Electric Eye,” a rollout more about hypnosis than build, even when an additional layer of fuzz joins the proceedings late in their march.

One might think that by the time they get through the first half of Translucent Blades that the course would be set, but the Obergs continue to broaden the scope as they move forward, first with “Electric Eye” and then with the plunder-in-space of “Holy Grief,” which brings together a cosmic doom via Ufomammut spirit with a forward thrust of snare in its verses that seems pulled from High on Fire‘s rhythmic fervency. Perhaps most importantly, the song seems to dissolve into noise, cutting off at the end, but prior to that, letting itself get lost in the wash of its own making in an effective moment of inward and outward trance induction. That is, they seem just as affected by it. A quiet two-and-a-half-minute instrumental “Antares” serves as the penultimate inclusion, bringing in flute — or flute sounds — with an echo-soaked spoken sample or verse (it’s hard to tell) and stark guitar resolution that gives way to silence ahead of “Reviver,” the very title of which lets the listener know that Grin aren’t letting go without a fight, whatever shape that might ultimately take.

“This is how everything ends” is the first line of the song, and though Jan would seem to be describing an apocalyptic landscape — fair enough — the fact that “Reviver” is where it is would seem to clue one into its having been written as an intended finale. It grows in intensity across its five-plus minutes, making its way toward a last march that shuts down cold on snare hits but still brings out a sense of drift before it does. Grin are of course not the first act in the universe to blend sonic heft and atmospheric breadth, but the reach with which they do so is noteworthy, and the feeling of intent behind their finished product only makes its execution more appreciable. Their experiments work, and further, they’re not just experiments. There’s an expressive aspect to Translucent Blades that unites the material regardless of where an individual track is headed, and while Grin might demand multiple listens to let the record properly sink in, each airing provides more than enough satisfaction to earn the next.

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Quarterly Review: Khemmis, Morag Tong, Holy Mushroom, Naisian, Haunted, Pabst, L.M.I., Fuzz Forward, Onségen Ensemble, The Heavy Eyes

Posted in Reviews on July 18th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-CALIFORNIA-LANDSCAPE-Julian-Rix-1851-1903

I always say the same thing on the Wednesday of the Quarterly Review. Day 3. The halfway point. I say it every time. The fact is, doing these things kind of takes it out of me. All of it. It’s not that I don’t enjoy listening to all these records — well, I don’t enjoy all of them, but I’m talking more about the process — just that it’s a lot to take in and by the time I’m done each day, let alone at the end of the week, I’m fairly exhausted. So every time we hit the halfway point of a Quarterly Review, I feel somewhat compelled to note it. Cresting the hill, as it were. It’s satisfying to get to this point without my head falling off.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Khemmis, Desolation

khemmis desolation

Continuing their proclivity for one-word titles, Denver doom forerunners Khemmis take a decisive turn toward the metallic with their third album for 20 Buck Spin, the six-track/41-minute Desolation. Songs like opener “Bloodletting” and its side B counterpart “The Seer” are still tinged with doom, but the NWOBHM gallop in “Isolation” and “Maw of Time” – as well as the sheer force of the latter – is an unexpected twist. Khemmis showed classic metal elements on 2016’s was-a-very-big-deal Hunted (review here) and 2015’s debut, Absolution (review here), but it’s a question of balance, and as they’ve once again worked with producer Dave Otero, one can only read the shift as a conscious decision. The harder edge suits them – certainly suits the screams in “Maw of Time” and side A finale/album highlight “Flesh to Nothing” – and as Khemmis further refine their sound, they craft its most individualized manifestation to-date. There’s no hearing Desolation and mistaking Khemmis for another band. They’ve come into their own.

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20 Buck Spin website

 

Morag Tong, Last Knell of Om

morag tong last knell of om

A rumbling entry into London’s Heavy Generation, the four-piece Morag Tong unfold voluminous ritual on their debut full-length, Last Knell of Om. Largely slow and largely toned, the work of guitarists Alex Clarke and Lewis Crane brings the low end to the forefront along with the bass of James Atha while drummer Adam Asquith pushes the lurch forward on cuts like “New Growth” and “To Soil,” the band seemingly most comfortable when engaged in crawling tempos and weighted pummel. Asquith also adds semi-shouted vocals to the mire, which, surrounded by distortion as they are, only make the proceedings sound even more massive. There’s an ambience to “We Answer” and near-13-minute closer “Ephemera: Stare Through the Deep,” which gives the record a suitably noisy finish, but much of what Morag Tong are going for in sound depends on the effectiveness of their tonality, and they’ve got that part down on their debut. Coupled with the meditative feel in some of this material, that shows marked potential on the band’s part for future growth.

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Holy Mushroom, Blood and Soul

holy mushroom blood and soul

Working quickly to follow-up their earlier-2018 sophomore long-player, Moon (review here), Spain’s Holy Mushroom present Blood and Soul, an EP comprised of two songs recorded live in the studio. I’m not entirely sure why it’s split up at all, as the two-minute “Introito” – sure enough, a little introduction – feeds so smoothly into the 19-minute “Blood and Soul” itself, but fair enough either way as the trio shift between different instrumentation, incorporating sax, piano and organ among the guitar, bass, drums and vocals, and unfold a longform heavy psychedelic trip that not only builds on what they were doing with Moon but is every bit worthy of being released on its own. I don’t know if it was recorded at the same time as the record or later – both were done at Asturcon Studios – but it’s easy to see why the band would want to highlight “Blood and Moon.” Between the deep-running mix, the easy rhythmic flow into and out from drifting spaciousness, and the turn in the middle third toward more expansive arrangement elements, it’s an engaging motion that makes subtly difficult shifts seem utterly natural along the way. And even if you didn’t hear the latest full-length, Blood and Soul makes for a fitting introduction to who Holy Mushroom are as a band and what they can do.

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Clostridium Records website

 

Naisian, Rejoinder

naisian rejoinder

Sludge-infused noise rock serves as the backdrop for lyrical shenanigans on the three-song Rejoinder EP from Sheffield, UK, trio Naisian. Running just 12 minutes, it’s a quick and thickened pummel enacted by the band, who work in shades of post-metal for “90 ft. Stone,” “Mantis Rising” and “Lefole,” most especially in the middle cut, but even there, the focus in on harsh vocals and lumbering sonic heft. It’s now been seven years since the band sort-of issued their debut album, Mammalian, and six since they followed with the Monocle EP, and the time seems to have stripped down their sound to a degree. “Lefole” is the longest track on Rejoinder at 5:18 and it’s still shorter than every other song Naisian have put out to-date. Their crunch lacks nothing for impact, however, and to go with the swing of “Lefole,” everybody seems to contribute to a vocal assault that only adds to the punishing but thoughtful vibe.

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Haunted, Dayburner

haunted dayburner

The effects-laden vocal swirl at the outset of Haunted’s “Mourning Sun” and moments in the Italian act’s longer-form material, “Waterdawn” or “Orphic,” for example, will invariably lead some listeners to point to a Windhand influence, but the character of the band’s second album, Dayburner (on Twin Earth, DHU and Graven Earth all), follows their 2016 self-titled (review here) by holding steady to a developing identity of its own. To be sure, vocalist Christina Chimirri, guitarists Francesco Bauso and Francesco Orlando, bassist Frank Tudisco and drummer Dario Casabona make their way into a deep, murky swamp of modern doom in “Dayburner” (video posted here), but in the crush of their tones amid all that trance-inducing riffing, they cast themselves as an outfit seeking to express individuality within the set parameters of style. Their execution, then, is what it comes down to, and with “Orphic” (12:46) and “Vespertine” (13:19) back to back, there’s plenty of doom on the 66-minute 2LP to roll that out. And they do so in patient and successful form, with marked tonal vibrancy and a sense of controlling the storm they’re creating as they go.

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Twin Earth Records website

DHU Records webstore

Graven Earth Records webstore

 

Pabst, Chlorine

pabst chlorine

So, the aesthetic is different. Pabst play a blend of noise, post-punk, heavy rock and grunge, but with the ready pop influence — to wit, the outright danceability of “Shits,” reminiscent in its bounce of later Queens of the Stone Age – and persistent melodicism, there’s just a twinge of what Mars Red Sky did for heavy rolling riffs happening on Chlorine, their Crazysane Records debut. It’s in that blend of dense low-end fuzz and brighter vocal melodies, but again, Pabst, hailing from Berlin, are on their own trip. Weird but almost more enjoyable than it seems to want to be, the 12-track/35-minute outing indulges little and offers singalong-ready vibes in “Catching Feelings” and “Waterslide” while “Waiting Loop” chills out before the push of “Accelerate” and the angularity of “Cheapskate” take hold. Chrlorine careens and (blue) ribbons its way to the drive-fast-windows-open stylization of “Summer Never Came” and the finale “Under Water,” a vocal effect on the latter doing nothing to take away from its ultra-catchy hook. It’s not for everyone, but it’s a record someone with just the right kind of open mind can come to love.

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Crazysane Records webstore

 

L.M.I., IV

lmi iv

If you’ve got a dank basement full of skinny college kids, chances are Lansdale, Pennsylvania’s L.M.I. are ready to tear their faces off. The sludge-thickened riff punkers run abut 11 minutes with their five-song release, L.M.I. IV, and that’s well enough time to get their message across. Actually, by the end of “Neck of Tension” and “Weaning Youth,” roughly four and half minutes in, the statement of intent is pretty clear. L.M.I. present furious but grooving hardcore punk more given to scathe than pummel, and their inclusions on L.M.I. IV bring that to life with due sense of controlled chaos. Centerpiece “Lurking Breath” gives way to “First to Dark” – the longest cut at a sprawling 2:55 – and they save a bit of grunge guitar scorch and lower-register growling for closer “June was a Test,” there isn’t really time in general for any redundancy to take hold. That suits the feeling of assault well, as L.M.I. get in and get out on the quick and once they’re gone, all that’s left to do is clean the blood off the walls.

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L.M.I. on Bandcamp

 

Fuzz Forward, Out of Nowhere

fuzz forward out of nowhere

Released one way or another through Discos Macarras, Odio Sonoro, Spinda Records and Red Sun Records, the eight-song/43-minute debut album from Barcelona’s Fuzz Forward, Out of Nowhere, has earned acclaim from multiple corners for its interpretation of grunge-era melodies through a varied heavy rock filter. Indeed, the vocals of Juan Gil – joined in the band by guitarist Edko Fuzz, bassist Jordi Vaquero and drummer Marc Rockenberg – pull the mind directly to a young Layne Staley, and forces one to realize it’s been a while since that low-in-the-mouth approach was so ubiquitous. It works well for Gil in the laid back “Summertime Somersaults” as well as the swinging, cowbell-infused later cut “Drained,” and as the band seems to foreshadow richer atmospheric exploration on “Thorns in Tongue” and “Torches,” they nonetheless maintain a focus on songwriting that grounds the proceedings and will hopefully continue to serve as their foundation as they move forward. No argument with the plaudits they’ve thus far received. Seems doubtful they’ll be the last.

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Onségen Ensemble, Duel

Onsegen ensemble duel

The kind of record you’re doing yourself a favor by hearing – a visionary cast of progressive psychedelia that teems with creative energy and is an inspiration even in the listening. Frankly, the only thing I’m not sure about when it comes to Oulu, Finland, outfit Onségen Enseble’s second album, Duel, is why it isn’t being released through Svart Records. It seems like such a natural fit, with the adventurous woodwinds on opener “Think Neither Good Nor Evil,” the meditative sprawl of the title-track (video posted here), the jazz-jam in the middle of “Dogma MMXVII,” the tribalist percussion anchoring the 12-minute “Three Calls of the Emperor’s Teacher,” which surely would otherwise float away under its own antigravity power, and the free-psych build of closer “Zodiacal Lights of Onségen,” which shimmers in otherworldly fashion and improvised-sounding spark. On Svart or not, Duel is one of the best albums I’ve heard this year, and one the creativity of which puts it in a class of its own, even in the vast reaches of psychedelic rock. Whether it means to or not, it tells a story with sound, and that story should be heard.

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Onsegen Ensemble on Bandcamp

 

The Heavy Eyes, Live in Memphis

the heavy eyes live in memphis

Since so much of The Heavy Eyes’ studio presentation has consistently been about crispness of sound and structured songwriting, it’s kind of a relief to hear them knock into some feedback at the start of “Mannish Boy” at the outset of Live in Memphis (on Kozmik Artifactz). The three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Tripp Shumake, bassist Wally Anderson and drummer Eric Garcia are still tight as hell, of course, and their material – drawn here from the band’s LPs, 2015’s He Dreams of Lions (review here), 2012’s Maera, 2011’s self-titled, as well as sundry shorter offerings – is likewise. They’ve never been an overly dangerous band, nor have they wanted to be, but the stage performance does add a bit of edge to “Iron Giants” from the debut, which is followed by singing “Happy Birthday” to a friend in the crowd. One of the most enjoyable aspects of Live in Memphis is hearing The Heavy Eyes loosen up a bit on stage, and hearing them sound like they’re having as good a time playing as the crowd is watching and hearing them do so. That sense of fun suits them well.

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The Heavy Eyes at Kozmik Artifactz

 

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Yagow Post Video for “Time to Get Rid of It”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 31st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

yagow

Grainy VHS sci-fi footage, rocket boosters at full thrust, shots of space in all its practical-effects vastness mixed in with astronauts in various stages of trial and experimentation? Yup, that sounds about right for the kind of trippery Yagow proffer in the five-minute “Time to Get Rid of It.” The song comes from the German trio’s upcoming self-titled debut (review here), which is out June 16 on Crazysane Records, and the found material that makes up the clip for “Time to Get Rid of It” coalesces fluidly around the molten, cosmos-gazing rhythm of the track itself, resulting in a multi-sensory package that’s easy to digest and seems only to lead the listener from chill to chill over the course of its relatively brief but hypnotic five minutes.

And that’s pretty much the story of the thing. One of the major strengths of Yagow‘s Yagow is the firm confidence with which it advises those who’d take it on to strap themselves in and get ready for the outward ride that is about to and in fact does ensue. That kind of command is pretty rare in groups with such a lysergic focus, but Yagow treat it almost as an afterthought, and as they move forward one will be interested to hear how the underlying shuffle of a track like “Time to Get Rid of It” and its crafted hook wind up being treated as a stage in the development of the band. That is to say, I look forward to finding out in the longer term how nascent Yagow is as an album and where the trio might go in terms of sound and aesthetic in following it up.

But they should probably release it first. Once again, June 16 is the date for that, so keep an eye out. And while you’ve got your eye out, you can dig into the “Time to Get Rid of It” video below.

Please enjoy:

Yagow, “Time to Get Rid of It” official video

Video by Daniel Fuchs & Manuel Wesely

YAGOW is a psych-space-rock trio based in Saarbruecken, Germany. Loud guitars, drones and ghost-like vocals build up other-wordly soundscapes reminiscent of 70s avantgarde acts and the shoegazing sounds of the past decades.

Pressing Info:
Limited to 300 copies on black 12″ vinyl
Screenprinted PVC overbag (kinegram effect)
Neon-printed LP cover

Yagow is:
Marc Schönwald: Drums, Percussion
Kai Peifer: Bass on ‘non-contractual’
Jan Werner: Vocals, Guitars, Drones
Axel Rothhaar: Bass

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audiObelisk Transmission 061

Posted in Podcasts on May 15th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk podcast 61

Click Here to Download

 

Yes! A new podcast! Are you stoked? I’m stoked. If you’re not, you will be when you look at the list of bands included. In any case, let’s be stoked together, because rock and roll, and heavy psych and good music and, well, yeah. That’s pretty much stuff to be stoked about. It’s been absurdly long since the last time we did one of these. Too long. I don’t really have an excuse other than… gainful employment? Don’t worry, though. That’ll be over soon enough. Then it’ll be podcasts out the ass.

There’s some killer goods here though. Yeah, I decided to do a “Yeti” double-shot with Green Yeti into Telekinetic Yeti. That’s my version of me being clever. But both bands are righteous, and if you haven’t heard the Savanah record, or that new Tia Carrera jam, or the Cachemira or Big Kizz or Yagow or Vokonis or the Elder — oh hell, frickin’ all of it — it’s worth your time. That Emil Amos track just premiered the other day and I think will surprise a lot of people, and I liked the way it paired with the dark neofolk of Hermitess. And of course we get trippy in the second hour, as is the custom around here. But first a moment of prog clarity from the aforementioned Elder. That’s a good time as well.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

Track details follow:

First Hour:

0:00:00 Vokonis, “The Sunken Djinn” from The Sunken Djinn
0:06:47 Tia Carrera, “Laid Back (Frontside Rock ‘n’ Roll)” from Laid Back (Frontside Rock ‘n’ Roll)
0:16:33 Supersonic Blues, “Supersonic Blues Theme” from Supersonic Blues Theme / Curses on My Soul
0:19:28 Emil Amos, “Elements Cycling” from Filmmusik
0:22:28 Hermitess, “Blood Moon” from Hermitess
0:26:24 Savanah, “Mind” from The Healer
0:34:22 Yagow, “Non-Contractual” from Yagow
0:42:35 Big Kizz, “Eye on You” from Eye on You
0:45:53 Cachemira, “Jungla” from Jungla
0:52:05 Green Yeti, “Black Planets (Part 2)” from Desert Show
0:58:02 Telekinetic Yeti, “Stoned and Feathered” from Abominable

Second Hour:

1:02:10 Elder, “The Falling Veil” from Reflections of a Floating World
1:13:20 Riff Fist, “King Tide” from King Tide
1:24:15 Cavra, “Montaña” from Cavra
1:39:18 Causa Sui, “A Love Supreme” from Live in Copenhagen

Total running time: 1:55:53

 

Thank you for listening.

Download audiObelisk Transmission 061

 

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Review & Track Premiere: Yagow, Yagow

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on May 8th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

yagow yagow

[Click play above to stream ‘Snake Charmer’ from the self-titled Yagow LP, out June 16 on Crazysane Records and available to preorder here.]

An overarching feel of lysergic serenity would seem to be the means to its own end on Yagow‘s self-titled debut, which is to say that the six-song first outing from the Saarbrücken, Germany, three-piece sets for its primary goal the very wash it uses to meet that goal. It is an exploration of vibe and mood, space-gazing through its 42-minute stretch propelled by unknown fuels. Recorded by the band — guitarist/vocalist/noisemaker Jan Werner, bassist Axel Rothhaar and drummer/percussionist Marc Schönwald with Kai Peifer (who also mixed, along with Werner and Berni Götz, who also mastered) on bass for side B’s “Non-Contractual” — and issued through Crazysane Records, Yagow‘s tuned-in headspaces should feel familiar to those who’ve worshiped at the altars of The Heads or Loop but they seem interested in casting their own melodic identity as well in these tracks.

One can hear this in the organ-style sounds of opener and longest track (immediate points) “Horsehead Nebula” or the sitar of the subsequent “Snake Charmer,” buried in the mix though it is, and the result is an outing of headphone-worthy depth that comes across as honest in its intentions and likewise assured in how to meet the goals it has set. Songs play out one into the next with a patient fluidity and perhaps a budding sense of nuance, and it seems that the only thing Yagow don’t leave room for in the album’s span is pretense. This is head music for a head audience. It’s not trying to say anything it doesn’t want to say and it’s not trying to be anything it isn’t. Listeners can either sign up for the journey or miss out on the trip that ensues.

For what it’s worth, the band makes a pretty compelling argument toward the former. While remaining up-front in their purposes and playing by the rules of vinyl modernity by splitting Yagow neatly in half, three cuts to a side, they nonetheless execute a classic psychedelic vibe — not necessarily playing to influences from the ’60s or ’70s, but certainly aware of those roots. Each song in the record’s first half — “Horsehead Nebula,” “Snake Charmer” and “Moss and Mint” — has something to stand it out from its compatriots, whether it’s the aforementioned melody and sitar of the opener and its follow-up or the return of that particularly blissful tone that either could be keys or could be guitar effects on “Moss and Mint,” coming on more languid the second time around and allowing the three-piece to convey an overarching flow as well as distinguish the individual from its surroundings. “Oh yeah, that’s the song where that happens,” and so on.

Whether this is done consciously or not on the part of the band — one doesn’t want to assume either way, and this material almost certainly has its beginnings in jams either improvised or led by one member or another — is secondary compared to the effect it has on the overall listening experience, which, when taken front to back, proves duly consuming and switched-on in its overall affect. As Werner‘s vocals drawl out amid the wash of “Moss and Mint” after the more winding space-charged fuzz of “Snake Charmer,” there’s some subtlety to be found for those who’d pay repeat visits to Yagow‘s psychedelic palace, but even if the album splits in half, it’s more about the entirety of the thing than any one song, or even part. And that’s not to its detriment in the slightest.

yagow

Rather, as side B starts with the more blown-out low end tonality of “Time to Get Rid of It,” that subtlety only turns out to make the offering richer on the whole. Atop a steady rhythm, vocals echo out and another distorted wash is conjured, and truth be told, Yagow have by this time set their methods forward for their audience. There’s little they do across the second half of their debut to deviate, but they do successfully build on what they’ve already accomplished sound-wise, which seems more important than it would be for them to present some radical shift. “Time to Get Rid of It” drifts into and through a section of vocals over chimes before Schönwald‘s drums resume their push into the song’s final third, and the eight-minute “Non-Contractual” makes its first impression with drums as well building to a trade of tension and release across its span that reminds a bit of a less folkish Quest for Fire, and toys with momentum in a manner that it seems a lot of the prior material avoided in favor of worshiping more ethereal atmospheres.

Perhaps in part because it’s longer — one might consider it a companion piece for the opener, as it also tops eight minutes — and perhaps in part because of the droning resonance that lays underneath a goodly portion of its stretch, “Non-Contractual” feels more expansive, especially in its back-half jam, with an element of vibrancy that serves it well leading into closer “Nude on the Moon Dance,” which echoes and reinforces the ringing tones of “Horsehead Nebula” and “Moss and Mint” as well as the thrusters-engaged forward rhythm of the latter portion of “Snake Charmer,” all while feeling a little less hinged in a way that speaks to the real potential of the band to let loose a little and break some of the rules they’ve set for themselves here.

It’s worth remembering, and important to remember, that while they’ve been around for a few years (their social media presence starts at 2013, if that’s any measure) this self-titled is their first collective outing, and ultimately it’s to their credit that one hears a song like “Time to Get Rid of It” and waits for Yagow to expand on what they presented in the album’s first half — because it means they’ve done their job in establishing their core sound. And so they have. The work before them now as they move from one liquefied slab onto the inevitable next should be in furthering the lightly progressive undertones delivered here. Maybe that’s in building on the arrangement flourish of “Snake Charmer” or in being willing to dive deeper into the off-the-cuff feel of “Non-Contractual” and “Nude on the Moon Dance” — I don’t know. It will be their songwriting that makes that decision in the end, but what matters for the time being is the foundation they’ve given themselves on which to build, which feels flexible enough to accommodate any range of directions they might want to take.

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Yagow website

Yagow preorder at Crazysane Records

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Closet Disco Queen Stream Sexy Audio Deviance for Punk Bums EP in Full

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on April 3rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

closet-disco-queen

Swiss instrumentalist duo Closet Disco Queen release their new EP, Sexy Audio Deviance for Punk Bums, this Friday, April 7. Out through Crazysane Records, Unquiet Records and Division Records all at once, it’s the second offering from the guitar/drum two-piece of Jonathan Nido and Luc Hess behind their 2015 self-titled debut (review here), and in addition to the multitude of labels, it comes accompanied by a multitude of live dates the band will play across Europe, including a slot among the enviable lineup of Desertfest London 2017.

Nido and Hess‘ progressive pedigree has been well noted in the past — their affiliations with The Ocean, among others — and that continues to be a factor throughout the three songs of Sexy Audio Deviance for Punk Bums as well, though the band seem to want to cloak it in a “we’re just here to have a good time” kind of vibe. Nothing against that, and indeed, “Ninjaune” (6:37), “El Moustachito” (3:57) and “Délicieux” (6:14) are a good time, but while their moniker and titles come across as tongue-in-cheek, there’s much more to Closet Disco Queen‘s presentation than tossoffs or screwing around. From the ambient opening of “Ninjaune” to the graceful linear build that ensues, the EP sets in motion an album-style flow that’s nothing if not purposeful.

Of course, it’s only about 17 minutes long, so Hess and Nido don’t have quite the same amount of roomcloset-disco-queen-sexy-audio-deviance-for-punk-bums to stretch out as they did on the prior full-length, but with flourish of keys/effects and driving payoff rhythms, they make the most of what they’ve got. Beginning with “Ninjaune,” which is the longest track in addition to the opener (immediate points), they set up a subtly patient, still duly stylized motion of turns and winds, rhythmically tight and gradually increasing in volume as it goes until after about four minutes in, they arrive at a start-stop progression that hints at just how far they’re willing to push this time out. Somewhat more raucous from the start, “El Moustachito” picks up from there and might be from whence the notion of “punk” in the EP title comes, but while the movement is more forward-directed, it by no means comes through as oversimplified or lacking in breadth.

Rather, it’s just shorter and more up front in its groove. Less direct than, say, Karma to Burn, but more direct than either “Ninjaune” or the subsequent “Délicieux,” though the closer has its thrust as well, toying somewhat with the linearity of the leadoff track but ultimately working toward something else structurally. One hesitates to call it “verse/chorus” when there aren’t vocals to provide either, but there’s definitely a hook, and Closet Disco Queen make their way fluidly toward a rousing finish marked out by Hess‘ crash and a suitably bouncing riff from Nido that seems to come to a head just as they get to the last minute of the song, only to stop and revive itself on a faster course, ending cold but with maximum energy.

Is that “sexy audio deviance?” Is it “for punk bums?” I don’t know. It seems like well structured semi-progressive heavy instrumental rock to me, and I kind of think Closet Disco Queen are underselling how much they put into their craft. But that works out to be part of the charm of the release — not necessarily a humility, but the fact that Nido and Hess have clearly made such an effort with this material and that they’re still willing to present it in a way that highlights the raw enjoyment aspect of both the creation and the listening experience. One expects they’ll keep moving forward in terms of sound, but so long as they can remember to have this kind of fun, Closet Disco Queen should only become more distinct as a part of that process.

Please enjoy a full stream of Sexy Audio Deviance for Punk Bums below, followed by some words from Nido about the EP and hints of future changes to come, as well as Closet Disco Queen‘s upcoming tour dates.

Goes like this:

Jona Nido on Sexy Audio Deviance for Punk Bums:

All three songs from the new EP have been written in the last six months up to a year. That means before recording them, we have played them live a good hundred times. When we recorded the debut album, we had two days to write 75 percent of the songs and record them in live conditions. If you listen to the songs live the way we play them now, there is only few to do with the atmosphere you’ll find on the album.

On the debut album we had no idea how we wanted to sound and went with the flow. Now after all these tours we both know what we like for this band and how we want it to sound on record as well as on stage. It was a long but very constructive process. We also narrowed our sound towards a more straightforward heavy rock. I also think that this is maybe the end of an era for this band. I’m not sure how many more songs we’ll be able to write as a two-piece and not repeat ourselves…

PREORDER-LINK: http://smarturl.it/CDQ

CLOSET DISCO QUEEN live:
Apr 04 MS-Loretta Celle, Germany
Apr 07 Zorrock La Chaux-De-Fonds, Switzerland
Apr 08 Chez Marie Lovens, Switzerland
Apr 14 Port-Franc Sion, Switzerland
Apr 20 Kon-Tiki Zurich, Switzerland
Apr 21 Le Cirque Electrique Paris, France
Apr 22 Le Ferrailleur Nantes, France
Apr 25 La Machine Nancy, France
Apr 26 PDZ Besancon, France
Apr 27 MAC DAID’S Le Havre, France
Apr 28 DesertFest (The Dev, free entry) London, United Kingdom
May 18 Trendkill Music Store Vitrolles, France
May 19 Raymond Bar Clermont-Ferrand, France
May 20 L’Hexagone Bourges, France
May 27 Brasserie BFM Saignelégier, Switzerland
Jun 07 L’Amalgamme Yverdon, Switzerland
Jun 16 Festineuch Neuchâtel, Switzerland

Closet Disco Queen is:
Jona Nido – guitar
Luc Hess – drums

Closet Disco Queen on Thee Facebooks

Division Records on Thee Facebooks

Division Records website

Crazysane Records on Thee Facebooks

Crazysane Records website

Unquiet Records on Thee Facebooks

Unquiet Records website

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Closet Disco Queen: Sexy Audio Deviance for Punk Bums Available to Preorder

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 10th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

closet disco queen

By the time you’re finished wrapping your head around the title Sexy Audio Deviance for Punk Bums, Swiss instrumental duo Closet Disco Queen are finished running through the three tracks of the EP itself. Fair enough that the two-piece would get somewhat cumbersome and imbue the title of the follow-up to their 2015 self-titled debut (review here) with plenty of charm; after all, they’ve got three labels to please in Crazysane Records, Unquiet Records and Division Records, and if you’re keeping tabs, that’s one per cut on the release. Not, by any definition, too shabby as far as backing goes.

Sexy Audio Deviance for Punk Bums will be out April 7 through the aforementioned imprints, and it’s available to preorder now as the PR wire dutifully informs. If you’re feeling bold and not having quite a manic-enough morning/afternoon/evening, you can also stream the head-turning “Délicieux.” Just don’t be fooled by the initial calm as you make your way into the song.

Art, info, links, audio. That’s how we do:

closet-disco-queen-sexy-audio-deviance-for-punk-bums

Closet Disco Queen Announce New EP; Share New Song

Swiss instrumental psychedelic rockers Closet Disco Queen, formed by members of Coilguns and The Ocean, have announced a new EP entitled “Sexy Audio Deviance For Punk Bums”. The three-track EP is set for release on April 7th through Crazysane Records, Division Records and Unquiet Records and further continues the duo’s exploration of 70s instrumental and progressive kraut-rock started on their 2015’s self-titled debut.

“Sexy Audio Deviance For Punk Bums” was engineered & recorded by Karim Pandolfo at Hummus Lab in La Chaux-de-Fonds and mixed & mastered by Magnus Lindberg at Redmount Studios in Stockholm. Pre-orders are now available here.

Forged in the darkest recesses of the mind, Closet Disco Queen is the diabolical offspring of Jona Nido and Luc Hess, two musicians who have traipsed to the very borders of insanity with such unique musical entities as Coilguns, Kunz and The Ocean and yet lived to tell the tale. Spawned in 2014 as a means to plug a gap in a festival line up, the sole aspiration of these Swiss degenerates is to live the Spinal Tap dream: playing perpetually at 11 to audiences scattered far and wide across the globe and to this end they have already blazed a trail across Asia and Russia, not to mention decimating Baroness’ audiences during a sweaty tour of Europe.

Sexy Audio Deviance for Punk Bums tracklisting:
1. Ninjaune
2. El Moustachito
3. Délicieux

Closet Disco Queen is:
Jona Nido – guitar
Luc Hess – drums

https://www.facebook.com/closetdiscoqueen
https://www.facebook.com/divisionrecs
https://www.facebook.com/crazysanerecords
https://www.facebook.com/UnquietRecords
http://www.divisionrecords.com
http://crazysanerecords.com
http://unquietrecords.com

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