Posted in Whathaveyou on October 13th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
In the wide world of heavy rock sloganeering, there are few urgencies as compelling as ‘Trip on the Ship.’ The invitation, courtesy of reliably brash Texas trio Mothership, is set to be renewed in the first part of 2017 with the coming of a third album. As yet untitled, one can only imagine it’ll be called Mothership III in the spirit of 2014’s Mothership II (review here) and 2012’s Mothership (review here), but that’s by no means confirmed, so don’t go quoting me on it or anything.
Whatever it’s ultimately named, the third Mothership record will be preceded by a new 7″ single, and as they did prior to the last outing, the trio of bassist/vocalist Kyle Juett, guitarist/vocalist Kelley Juett and drummer Judge Smith have started to play new material live. One can’t help but wonder how the significant amount of road time they’ve put in since Mothership II — touring alongside Corrosion of Conformity, labelmates Wo Fat and Brant Bjork, among others — will have factored into their songwriting. It certainly produced a leap forward their last time out, and for a band with the kind of vital delivery as theirs, it’s all the more a crucial part of the growth process.
Ripple put forth a quick line about the coming of the single and the album, and I hit up the band for some comment on the impending doings. You can see what they had to say below:
Mothership new 7″ and new full-length album coming early 2017!
Mothership on their next record:
“Our third offering is fueled by the same supersonic intergalactic heavy rock and roll music that has brought us together today. We are confident this new batch of tunes will solidify your being on board with us, and motivate you to invite others to take a trip and join us as well. These songs perfectly capture the next chapter in our saga across this great planet and beyond. We are currently playing a few of these songs in our set, so come out and hear ’em LIVE before they are released!”
Mothership is: Kelley Juett – Guitars/Vox Kyle Juett – Bass/Vox Judge Smith – Drums
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 4th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
As just about anyone who’s ever experienced Wo Fat‘s live show or heard their recorded output — most recently represented in this year’s Midnight Cometh (review here), their first album for Ripple Music and sixth overall — handling low end for the Dallas trio is no minor task. It’s an integral part of what they do, in true power trio form — all elements necessary. With that in mind, I don’t imagine that finding someone to take the spot of Tim Wilson was an easy task for guitarist/vocalist Kent Stump or drummer/vocalist Michael Walter. That makes the announcement of Zack Busby (Burden Brothers, Descender) all the more intriguing in terms of what he might be able to bring to the group’s exploratory dynamic.
We’ll find out in time. Wo Fat play the Psycho Roadshow on Aug. 20 in Austin, TX, with The Cosmic Dead, Acid Witch, Mala Suerte and many others, so that’ll probably be a good place to start. Beyond that, one doubts it’ll be too long before they hit the road again, since I don’t think at this point they’d be inclined to bring in a new player who couldn’t tour. This may turn out to be an opportunity for them to up the amount of time they spend on that. Again, it’ll be a little bit before we know either way.
In any case, good luck to Busby and continued success to the band, whose reach only seems to be expanding these days toward the forefront of American heavy rock:
Wo Fat Announces New Bass Player
Wo Fat are without a doubt regarded as one of the leading forces in riff-heavy stoner rock. With a sound that pulls from straight up blues and swamp boogie, as much as the classic riffing of Black Sabbath, Wo Fat’s Ripple Music debut, “Midnight Cometh” ranks as their most critically praised album ever. Having separated with their long-term bass player, Wo Fat engaged the services of Ryan Lee, from Crypt Trip, who ruled on bass duties for the band’s recent European tour. But still, a full-time anchor on bass had to be found.
Now the wait is over.
Wo Fat are thrilled to announce the introduction of another master of the low end to the mighty Wo Fat family.
Kent Stump says, “We would like wish a warm, rock and roll welcome to Zack Busby – the new bass player of Wo Fat. Zack is a road-hardened, veteran Rock and Roller of the Dallas heavy music scene who has stepped in to fill some heavy shoes, and has kicked some ass in so doing. We’re thrilled to have Zack laying down the low end for us and you can check him out at our upcoming shows.”
Look for Wo Fat to hit the road for Psycho Roadshow and other special dates, as well as frequent shows in their hometown of Dallas, Texas. Meanwhile, Wo Fat and Ripple Music are working on a couple special Wo Fat projects, including a split 7″ with label-mates, Mothership, and a re-issue of the limited Wo Fat “Live At Freak Valley,” LP that the band self-released, this time complete with a bonus 10″ of more head-swirling live jams.
And more Wo Fat is to come. Stay tuned. The rock goes on!
Posted in audiObelisk on May 4th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Texas fuzz forerunners Wo Fat are inching closer to the May 20 release date of their sixth album, Midnight Cometh (review here), on Ripple Music. The Dallas trio are newly returned from a second round through Europe alongside heavy rock chaosbringers Mothership that included stops at Desertfest in Berlin and London, as well as a host of packed-out club shows that only seemed to put an exclamation point on how much Wo Fat have grown over the last several years, in prestige as much as sound. They find themselves now among the foremost in the American heavy underground, legitimate ambassadors of US heavy with a sound of their own they’ve meticulously developed over the course of records like 2014’s The Conjuring (review here), 2012’s The Black Code (reviews here and here) — the two comprising an inescapable duo of LPs issued through Small Stone — and so on back through their catalog, each grown out of the accomplishments of the album before it. Crucially, while dealing familiar elements to their audience — heavy riffs, sprawling jams, bluesy vibes, an undercurrent of Southern grit and what guitarist/vocalist Kent Stump once referred to as “bayou juju” — they’ve never failed to move forward with each new release.
Midnight Cometh is no exception to that. I’ve already reviewed it — hence the link in the first sentence above — so I won’t dive too deep here, but the progression that Wo Fat have undertaken over their records, from one to the next, is as evident in the listening experience as it is clear in its intent. With an increased drive toward improvisation matched with a penchant for straightforward, landmark hooks like those in “Of Smoke and Fog” and “There’s Something Sinister in the Wind” and “Nightcomer” on the new album, Stump and drummer/vocalist Michael Walter (who played with bassist Ryan Lee of Crypt Trip on the Euro tour) still sound most of all like themselves, but increase their grasp on their aesthetic in a way that speaks not only to pushing themselves in their writing process, but to the chemistry they’ve developed on stage. They stand at the top of a crowded Dallas scene and have rightly garnered an international reputation for quality output, and as they ease into a more statesman-style role, their refusal to rest on past laurels becomes even more admirable. They are, to be blunt, the very best kind of heavy rock band.
With the record release looming like a devil at the crossroads of blues and fuzz, I’m thrilled to be able to premiere “Nightcomer,” the 10-minute closing track from Midnight Cometh. Don’t want to spoil it, so I won’t say much about it other than it sums up a lot of what’s working best throughout the album preceding, and that if you know Wo Fat — and by now, you probably should — you’re going to be glad you took the time to dig in.
Please find the track on the player below, followed by some comment from Stump, and enjoy:
Kent Stump on “Nightcomer”
“’Nightcomer’ is a heavy voodoo blues doom jam. The name is a reference to the midnight rider at the crossroads of blues lore and it’s essentially about corporate greed, dealings with the devil and consequences.”
Posted in Reviews on April 21st, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
There are few if any US heavy rock acts going who can match the consistent quality of Wo Fat‘s output over the last half-decade. The Dallas fuzz riffers have grown into a distinct and distinguished outfit that is always identifiable from release to release, but never fails to grow. This is true as well of their sixth studio LP, Midnight Cometh — also their first for Ripple Music after issuing 2014’s The Conjuring (review here) and 2012’s The Black Code (reviews here and here) on Small Stone — in that its six songs/49 minutes bring the band’s sound another step forward, as shown in adding percussion elements to opener “There’s Something Sinister in the Wind,” in the vocal confidence of guitarist Kent Stump and in the overarching fluidity of the trio’s jams, of which there are many, and the poise with which they blend the catchy hooks of “There’s Something Sinister in the Wind,” “Riffborn,” “Of Smoke and Fog,” “Le Dilemme de Detenu,” “Three Minutes to Midnight” and “Nightcomer” — yes, all six tracks — with the more open and improvised-feeling stretches.
In some ways, Wo Fat aren’t doing much different than they did on earlier outings like 2011’s Noche del Chupacabra (review here) or 2008’s Psychedelonaut (review here), in that they blend a swamp boogie atmosphere with memorable songcraft, a jam-ready sensibility and strong chemistry between Stump, bassist Tim Wilson and drummer/backing vocalist Michael Walter, but they leave little room as to the question of whether or not that basic pattern has been refined, and while The Conjuring felt like a landmark in their ascent to the fore of the American heavy underground — it was the record that took them to Europe, for example — Midnight Cometh once again reaffirms that their position is well earned.
It does not fix what wasn’t broken in their sound, but neither is it stagnant. In much the same way Wo Fat‘s sound has become more identifiable over the last decade since their 2006 debut, The Gathering Dark, so too has it progressed. They begin at a tumult with “There’s Something Sinister in the Wind” but soon hammer out an upbeat groove over which Stump slides in a solo before a percussion-laden verse and are into the chorus before the two-minute mark, wasting no time in setting the table for much of what will follow and build on the Southern voodoo blues atmosphere represented in David Paul Seymour‘s cover art and which “Of Smoke and Fog,” “Three Minutes to Midnight” and “Nightcomer” would seem to address directly while second track “Riffborn” and side B opener “Le Dilemme de Detenu” take their focus elsewhere.
The split between the two halves of Midnight Cometh is of particular note, since it’s something of a departure from The Conjuring, which wrapped with its 17-minute jam-minded title-track. Here, Wo Fat give each portion of the record a grand finale, in “Of Smoke and Fog” and “Nightcomer,” respectively, and the effect is to make the listening experience focused less on any individual piece than on the affect and the flow of the album as a whole. I wouldn’t argue with either methodology, particularly since while there are commonalities between songs mostly in the structuring of choruses, the band takes care to shift here and there in vibe, whether it’s the more stripped down “Riffborn,” which is faster and jams its way through its second half and out having long since left its hook behind, or the mega-swinging “Le Dilemme de Detenu” (“the dilemma of the detained”), with swagger enough for a full-length on its own, never mind the ultra-fluid hypnosis they’ve just enacted across “Of Smoke and Fog.”
That track — “Of Smoke and Fog” — emphasizes a lot of what Wo Fat have come to accomplish at this stage in their progression. It moves easily through hooks and jams and even trips out psychedelic around eight minutes in, but never lets go of its sense of purpose, and while it’s also the longest cut on Midnight Cometh at 10:47, it puts that time to use summarizing the album’s course. At the end of side B, “Nightcomer” works in a similar vein, but with a darker feel and bigger chorus, with Stump and Walter offering some vocal harmonies before the final jam. Prior to that, the penultimate “Three Minutes to Midnight” showcases the comfort level the trio feel in pushing out a faster hook and more straightforward songcraft — yet another stuck-in-your-head hook — while also bringing back some of the percussive elements of the opener, and the fact that their structures are no less molten than their jams, able to be manipulated to suit the purposes of a given track, is among Midnight Cometh‘s most engaging aspects.
Whatever the pace or trajectory, Wo Fat play like a band six albums deep. They know what they want their sound to do, they know how to make it happen, and they know that to keep it interesting for themselves and their audience, they need to continue to challenge beyond what they’ve done before. Stump has emerged as a frontman and sounds in command of the material here, and together with Walter and Wilson, they’re more of a power trio able to bring their live dynamic to a studio recording without sacrificing fidelity to the cause of a superficially organic sound. Midnight Cometh comes across as full and natural, and continues Wo Fat‘s streak of highlight outings, making it all the more apparent just how much they need to be in the conversation of the best currently active fuzz purveyors, within Texas or without. They’ve long since come into their own, but they’re reshaping what “their own” is, and it’s a joy to watch for those lucky enough to be paying attention. One of the year’s best in heavy.
Posted in Reviews on April 1st, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Thus ends another successful Quarterly Review. And by successful I mean I survived. There were a few minutes there when I actually thought about spreading this out to six days, doing another batch of 10 on Monday, but then what happens? Then it’s seven days, then eight, then nine, and before I know it I’m just doing 10 reviews every day and it’s more of a daily review than a quarterly one. Next week we’ll get back to whatever passes for normality around this place, and at the end of June, I’ll have another batch to roll with. Maybe the beginning of July, depending on time. In any case, thank you for reading this week. I hope you’ve found something in all this that you’ve dug, and that this final round offers something else that resonates.
Quarterly Review #41-50:
Chron Goblin, Backwater
Calgary party rockers Chron Goblin pay homage to Seattle with a song named after the city on their third album, Backwater (on Ripple Music), but they continue to have way more in common with Portland, Oregon. The follow-up to 2013’s Life for the Living (review here) pushes into psychedelic groove early in its title-track and gets bluesy for most of the subsequent “The Wailing Sound,” but it seems even that song can’t resist the urge to throw down and have a good time by the end, and cuts like “Give Way,” the galloping opener “Fuller” and the requisite “Hard Living” reaffirm the band’s commitment to heavy riffs and positive vibes. The stylistic elephant in the room continues to be Red Fang, but as they’ve done all along, Chron Goblin work in shades of other influences in heavy rock – if they were from the Eastern Seaboard, I’d call it Roadsaw – and put a stamp of their own on the style.
“Mercenary Blues” is near-immediate in telegraphing the level of heft Slabdragger will emit across their second album, Rise of the Dawncrusher, which tops an hour in five tracks (one of them four minutes long) and shifts between clean vocals, screams and growls from bassist/vocalist Yusuf Tary and guitarist/vocalist Sam Thredder as drummer Jack Newham holds together tempo shifts no less drastic. The shorter cut, “Evacuate!,” is an extreme take on heavy rock, but as Slabdragger move through the extended “Shrine of Debauchery” (12:23), “Dawncrusher Rising” (15:16) and “Implosion Rites” (17:20), their methods prove varied enough so that their material is more than just an onslaught of thickened distortion. I wouldn’t call it progressive exactly, but neither is it lunkheaded in its intention or execution, as the chanted melodies buried deep in “Shrine of Debauchery”’s lumber, derived perhaps in part from Conan and Sleep but beholden to neither so much as its own righteous purposes.
Finnish heavy psychedelic rockers Jupiter take a decidedly naturalist position when it comes to their style. Yeah, there are some effects on the guitars throughout Interstellar Chronidive, the trio’s second album behind 2014’s Your Eccentric State of Mind, but it’s more about what the three players can accomplish with dynamic tempo and mood changes than it is creating a wash, and that gives songs like “Stonetrooper” and “Dispersed Matter/Astral Portal” a classic feel despite a decidedly modern production. “Premonitions” provides raucous fuzz worthy of any next-gen stoners you want to name, and the 14-minute “In Flux” answers its own initial thrust with and expansive, liquefied jam that’s all the more emblematic of the organic core to their approach, Hendrix-derived but not Hendrix-emulating. Bright guitar tone, rich bass and swinging drums aren’t necessarily unfamiliar elements, but the touches of space rock narration on “Dispersed Matter/Astral Portal” and the consuming nod of closer “Vantage Point” assure there’s no shortage of personality to go around.
Also stylized as IZ? with a long accent over the ‘o,’ Izo is the self-titled debut from Italian double-guitar instrumental four-piece Izo, who bookend four flowing and densely weighted progressions with an intro and outro to add to the atmospheric breadth. Rather than choose between heaviness or ambience, Izo – guitarists Paolo Barone and Maurizio Calò, bassist Francesco de Pascali and drummer Luca Greco – play both into each other so that a song like “Hikkomori” is as engaging in its heft as it is hypnotic. That might be easier to do without vocals, but it’s essential to Izo’s approach, and something that, for their debut, sets up future expansion of post-metal and psychedelic elements. I’m not sure if there’s a theme or narrative for the album, but consistent use of Japanese language and imagery ties the material together all the same, and Izo emerge from their first album having shown a clearheadedness of purpose that can only continue to serve them well.
Cultist made their introductory statement in the early hours of 2016 with Three Candles, a five-song EP from the social media-averse Cleveland, Ohio, trio featuring members of Skeletonwitch, Mockingbird and Howl. In the wall of fuzz they construct, the swing injected into their rhythms and the use of multiple vocalists, there’s a strong undercurrent of Uncle Acid to “Path of the Old One,” but “Consuming Damnation” distinguishes itself with a more aggressive take, rawer in its melodies, and the creeping closer “Eternal Dark” is up to something entirely more doomed. How this balance will play out with the more familiar riff-patterning in “Follow Me” is the central question, but for their first tracks to be made public, Cultist’s Three Candles offers fullness of sound and the realization of an aesthetic purpose. Yes, there’s room to grow, but they already have a better handle on what they want to do than a lot of bands, so it should be interesting to keep up.
Ultra-thick, ultra-dank, Haoma is the work of Swedish duo R (bass/vocals) and S (drums), and the three-tracker Eternal Stash is their second self-released EP. The offering takes its title from the opener and longest track (immediate points), and wastes no time with subtlety in getting down on molten Cisneros-style stoner-doom grooves. Sleep meets Om isn’t a huge divide to cross, but there’s a blown-out sensibility to the vocals as well that speaks to some element of Electric Wizard at play, and the overarching roughness suits Haoma’s tonal crunch well. Even when they break to wah bass in the second half of “Eternal Stash” to set up the ensuing jam, this underlying harshness remains, and “Unearthly Creatures” and “Orbital Flight” build on that, the latter with a march that feels more decidedly individual even if constructed on familiar ground. Heavy, raw, unpretentious celebration of groove is almost always welcome by me, and so Haoma’s Eternal Stash is likewise.
Another boon to Poland’s emerging heavy rock scene, Wroclaw’s Spaceslug slime their way out of the ground with their debut long-player, Lemanis, a seven-cut paean to weighted tone and laid back roll. Vocally, the trio seem to take a cue from the Netherlands’ Sungrazer, but their riffs are far more dense and while the penultimate interlude “Quintessence” and the earlier “Galectelion” demonstrate a sense of spaciousness, the context in which that arrives is much more weighted and, particularly in the second half of “Supermassive,” feels culled from the Sleep school of Iommic idolatry. No complaints. The record clocks in at 43 minutes all told and in no way overstays its welcome, rounding out with the nine-minute title-track, an instrumental that’s probably not improvised but comes across as exploratory all the same. The CD version is out through BSFD Records, but don’t be surprised when someone picks it up for a vinyl issue, as both the front-to-back flow and the artwork seem to be made for it.
An element of twang that seems present even in the most uproarious moments of Slush’ American Demons tape comes to the fore with the brief “Leshy,” a quick, fleetly-strummed bit of slide guitar the follows highlight cut “Bathysphere” and precedes “Death Valley,” both of which bask full-on in the garage shake, proto-punk vibe and anything goes swagger the Brooklynite trio have on offer throughout their third EP. That countrified twist plays well alongside the drawling skate rock of “In the Flesh,” which seems to take on some of The Shrine’s West Coast skate vibes with a twist of New York fuckall, and the quick crotchal thrust off “Silk Road,” which serves as Slush’ most purely punkish moment. “Death Valley” closes out with a tale of drugs and the desert, the vocals somewhere between Misfits and early Nick Cave, drenched in attitude and accompanied by fuzz that seems to be likewise. Bonus points for the silver tape and copious included art and info.
Strange spirits are afoot throughout Menimals’ Menimals, the maybe-debut from the Italian troupe who engage wantonly in the proliferation of post-Mike Patton creepy darkjazz across five cuts of sparse, spacious weirdness. Issued through Phonosphera/Riot Season, it’s a work of high atmospheric density but ultimately more about mood than sonic impact, evoking complex shapes – dodecahedrons, tetrahedrons, octahedrons – as a mirror for its own quizzical mission. The kind of record that those who don’t spend time trying to figure it out are going to have more fun with, it makes its most effective impression on “Transitioning from a Cube to the Octahedron” on side B, evoking minimalist drone rock atmospheres as whispered vocals tie it to the rest of Menimals’ bizarre vibe. That’s not to take away from the noisy finish of closer “Bird on the Wind as a Hinge,” which follows, just to note that Menimals manage to somehow find balance in all the subdued seething and resonant experimentalism.
By way of a confession, I wanted to end this batch of 50 reviews with something I knew I dug, and that distinction goes to Houston rockers Linus Pauling Quartet, whose latest full-length, Ampalanche, is released via the label wing of Italian ‘zine Vincebus Eruptum. An album that offers some of the most pretense-free rock flute I’ve ever heard on “Slave to the Die,” it’s a down-home weirdo rocker that might, at a moment’s notice, plunge full-on into psychedelia in “Sometimes” or, say, include a 49-minute echoing space-drone “Vi, de Druknede (We, the Drowned)” as a download-only bonus track, and the fact that Linus Pauling Quartet can always be relied on for something different but consistent in charm and the quality of songwriting is not to be taken for granted, whether it’s the Midwestern noise rock of “Brisket” or the fuzzy roll of dreamy album-closer “Alive.” Yeah, I was doing myself a favor by finishing with Ampalanche. I have absolutely zero regrets. Linus Pauling Quartet continue to be woefully underappreciated.
Posted in Whathaveyou on March 8th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Texas fuzz forerunners Wo Fat announce a May 20 release date for their upcoming album, Midnight Cometh, through Ripple Music and stream the new track “Three Minutes to Midnight.” The band announced the “Texas Takeover II” with Mothershipback in November, but the unveiling of the new song should be of particular note to longer-term followers of the band. The penultimate of six included tracks, it’s a swirling, fuzzed out Wo Fat jam playing off one of heavy metal’s best-known hooks with an identity all its own. As representation for the album, it speaks to the chemistry in the trio and their growth intuitively knowing where each member is going to be at any given moment within the song. I could go on. I’ll save it for the review. Point is you should check out the track.
The following just came in from the PR wire:
WO FAT confirm EU tour and release date for new album Midnight Cometh | Share brand new song ‘Three Minutes To Midnight’
Midnight Cometh by Wo Fat will be released on 20th May 2016 through Ripple Music
After slinging their Texas-sized psychedelic blues doom for over a decade, Dallas legends Wo Fat are thrilled to announce that this May will see the official release of their brand new studio album, Midnight Cometh on Ripple Music.
Throughout their sonic odyssey spanning five studio albums, a live album, and two splits, beginning in 2006 with The Gathering Dark, they have stayed true to the deep, dark blues that wails from within and have continually forged their riffs with a primal groove. Going stronger and rocking harder than ever before, the band are currently readying their next chapter – and first with Ripple – with the release of Midnight Cometh. Looming on the horizon and due for release on 20th May 2016, this newest slab of riffage is easily their most daring and psychotropic exploration of heaviness to date.
“We are thrilled to be working with our brothers in the riff at Ripple for this new record!” says vocalist Kent Stump. “We’ve been friends with Todd and Pope for a while and have always had a lot of respect for them personally, as well as the label itself, and we just kinda realised, that, hey, we should be working together. They are passionate about the music they release, they make really good choices when it comes to signing bands, they’re all about treating artists fairly and trying to help this scene grow, and they’re also a label on the rise.”
“We’ve been huge fans of Wo Fat and their maniacal brand of riff-heavy psychedelic grooves,” explains Ripple Music’s Todd Severin. “And they never fail to be one of the most mesmerizing bands we’ve ever seen on stage. We’re beyond thrilled to welcome them into the Ripple family.”
The critical success of their albums, most notably 2009’s Psychedelonaut, which truly solidified the Wo Fat name in the Stoner Rock community and secured them world wide recognition, helped land the band appearances at the legendary Roadburn Festival, Desertfest, Freak Valley Festival, Psycho California Festival and Sylak Open Air Festival as parts of a number of successful international tours.
Midnight Cometh will be released on 20th May 2016 and will be supported by a European tour (see dates below), which will also include appearances at Desertfest in Berlin and London and Hellfest, France.
Live Dates – Texas Takeover Tour II Europe 2016 18 April – Mephisto – Hannover, Germany 19 April – Schaubude – Kiel, Germany 20 April – TBA 21 April – Pokalen Pub – Oslo, Norway 22 April – Loppen – Copenhagen, Denmark 23 April – 1000FRYD – Aalborg, Denmark 24 April – Rock Café – Hamburg, Germany 25 April – The Vortex – Siegen, Germany 26 April – Feierwerk – Munich, Germany 27 April – Arena – Vienna, Austria 28 April – Desertfest – Berlin, Germany 29 April – Doornroosje – Nijmegen, Netherlands 30 April – Pre-Roadkill Festival Party – Waarschoot, Belgium 1 May – Desertfest – London, UK
[Please note: For consistency’s sake, I’m using a YouTube embed above. The album is available direct from the band on Bandcamp here.]
I distinctly recall getting and reviewingWo Fat‘s sophomore outing, Psychedelonaut, in 2009. It was an easy record to dig, so full in tone, so unabashed in its groove, but I don’t think it was possible to appreciate at the time just how pivotal the Dallas trio would become, not just to Texas fuzz, but to the breadth of US heavy in general. Seven years later, they stand tall among the finest and most accomplished heavy rock acts the nation has to offer — and does offer; they have a couple Euro tours to their credit and more to come — and on many levels, Psychedelonaut was the nexus point for what they’d go on to accomplish, blending swamp blues, ultra-stony fuzz tone and heavy psychedelic jazz-jamming into a sound that’s only become more their own as they’ve gone on. Granted, that’s a lot of context to expect to be able to pull out of one record seven years before any of it has started to unfold, but listening back to Psychedelonaut now, whether it’s the riff-chanting of “The Slow Blade,” the vicious, still-infectious hook of “Analog Man,” the slide on “Shake ’em on Down” or the ranging jam in closer “The Spheres Beyond,” which pushes the album past the hour and 70-minute marks with complete abandon, a lot of what the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Kent Stump, bassist Tim Wilson and drummer/backing vocalist Michael Walter would go on to accomplish sonically got its start here.
That’s not to take anything away from the underlying sense of blues-monster threat in 2006’s debut, The Gathering Dark, but there’s a self-awareness that bleeds through Psychedelonaut — the idea that Wo Fat knew who their audience was and how to reach them — that particularly in hindsight only makes it seem more masterful. It was an essential step in an ongoing development that would see them sign to ultra-respected German purveyor Nasoni Records for 2011’s Noche del Chupacabra (review here), and then Small Stone for the subsequent two outings, 2012’s The Black Code (review here) and 2014’s The Conjuring (review here), before linking up with Ripple Music for the forthcoming Midnight Cometh, but even taken on its own level, its songs deliver an already-shaped identity and lyrical wit — references to Hendrix and Parliament in “Enter the Riffian,” lines like “Vacuum tube voodoo” in “Analog Man,” the entirety of “Two the Hard Way” (also another Funkadelic reference there for good measure) — as well as an instrumental chemistry demonstrated across “Not of this Earth” and “The Spheres Beyond” that was the true point of potential. Even seven years ago, Wo Fat could jam. Some bands have to grow into that. These cats came in ready to roll.
And again, it’s easy to know that now, but as Wo Fat get ready this spring to unleash the next stage of their progression — the aforementioned Midnight Cometh — it’s worth taking the time to fuzz out on how what they’ve done in the years since really started to take shape, or at very least to get lost in the percussive hypnosis of “The Spheres Beyond.” If that’s how you want to go with it, that’s cool too.
Either way, I hope you enjoy.
My original plan for this weekend was to put together my Most Anticipated Albums of 2016 list to go up early next week. Gotta push that back. My living room is full of t-shirt boxes, and those things need to get gone as soon as humanly possible. So instead of writing tomorrow and Sunday (well, I’ll still be writing on Sunday), I’ll be filling out address forms and packing up hoodies to ship out across the planet. This is all happening as quickly as it can possibly happen. Please be aware I work full-time, so it’s not like I’m sitting on my ass with your money not fulfilling orders. I’m doing the best I can.
Next week, reviews of Mammoth Grove, Conan and Mars Red Sky (their new EP). This week was in-fucking-sane for news. Six posts a day. Seven posts a day. And more coming in all the time. I have news stories slated for Tuesday, never mind Monday, and Monday’s already a seven-post day. Today was six. Yesterday was seven. Apparently everyone decided this was the week to send out their press release. Fair enough, but give me a minute to catch my breath or, I don’t know, earn a living. Have been feeling way, way overwhelmed by everything.
That said, I appreciate all the kind words and support upon hitting 7,000 posts earlier this week (for example: that was Wednesday and this is post #7,016). There’s an anniversary coming up in a couple weeks that has occupied a goodly portion of my consciousness of late, but I guess we’ll talk about that when we get there. Announcements coming through for the Obelisk All-Dayer at the Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn on Aug. 20 as well in the next week or two. So, so much to do.
For now though, that’s taking Sharpies to envelopes. Please have a great and safe weekend, and please check out the forum and radio stream.
Posted in Whathaveyou on November 30th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
By the time Ripple Music labelmates Wo Fat and Mothership hit the shores of Europe together next April, they’ll both have new records out. In the case of Wo Fat, that will be Midnight Cometh, their first full-length for the label — they also have a limited self-released split 7″ out in Dec. on which they cover Betty Davis‘ “They Say I’m Different”; already sold out — and for Mothership, it’s the Live over Freak Valley LP due Jan. 15 that captures their last voyage abroad. In any case, it will no doubt be a trip to remember, including as it does stops at Desertfest Berlin and London and world-famous venues in Austria, the Netherlands, Denmark and elsewhere.
You might recall the first Texas Takeover with Wo Fat and Mothership, in addition to Mothership‘s impending live album, also resulted in Wo Fat‘s Live Juju at Freak Valley (review here). We’ll see if 2016’s tour is similarly productive.
We are pleased to announce the tour dates for our 2016 Texas Takeover II Tour with our Texas Riff Brothers, Mothership. Dig the rockin’ poster from David Paul Seymour.
Throughout their sonic odyssey spanning five studio albums, a live album, and two splits, beginning in 2006 with The Gathering Dark, Wo Fat have stayed true to the deep, dark blues that wail from within and have continually forged their riffs with a primal groove. Going stronger and rocking harder than ever before, the band are currently readying their next chapter – and first with Ripple – with the release of their brand new album Midnight Cometh. Looming on the horizon and due for release in Spring 2016, this newest slab of riffage lurking in your future is easily their most daring and psychotropic exploration of heaviness to date.
Since 2013 Mothership has traveled non-stop, playing live across the USA, Canada, United Kingdom and Europe; taking to festival stages, nightclubs, and under the sun at whatever motorcycle parties they could find. They are for all intents and purposes a heavy rock juggernaut that has only just begun to tear a hole in the cosmos. And guess what? They have no plans of slowing down for anyone.
WO FAT & MOTHERSHIP: Texas Takeover II Tour: 04.18 Mephisto Hannover DE 04.19 Schaubude Kel DE 04.20 TBA 04.21 Pokalen Oslo NO 04.22 Loppen Copenhagen DK 04.23 1000Fryd Aalborg DK 04.24 Rock Cafe Hamburg DE 04.25 The Vortex Siegen DE 04.26 Feierwerk Munich DE 04.27 Arena Vienna AT 04.28 Desertfest Berlin DE 04.29 Dornrosje Nijmegen NL 04.30 Pre-Roadkill Festival Party Waarschoot BE 05.01 Desertfest London UK