Mothership to Release Live over Freak Valley in January

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 11th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster


They toured in the spring, they toured in the summer, and Texas trio Mothership are touring in the fall too. Big difference when you’re doing it with C.O.C.Saviours and Brant Bjork though. I said I’d be plugging these dates multiple times, and I also said I’d be happy to do it. I am. In the case of Mothership, I’ve no doubt they’re going to turn a lot of heads on this tour — the biggest they’ve done to date in the States — and the January release date for their live album, Live over Freak Valley, should be well timed to keep their momentum going into the New Year.

Though by then they’ll probably have more tour dates announced too. That’s kind of how they do. If you’re remembering when the live record was first announced, it was supposed to be this month. I’m just going to assume it’s a pressing plant delay and leave it at that. Seems to be the situation with everybody doing vinyl these days.

But yeah, if it’s January, it’s January. They’ve got a live version of “Serpent’s Throne” streaming now, and as you can hear below, it’ll be worth the wait:

mothership live over freak valley

MOTHERSHIP hit the road with Corrosion of Conformity | New live album released in January on Ripple Music

Mothership Live Over Freak Valley released 15th January 2016 on Ripple Music

After the rerelease of their momentous second album and a storming start to 2015, Mothership – the hard rocking supersonic/intergalactic Texan trio – are pleased to announce the arrival of Mothership Live Over Freak Valley this Janaury on Ripple Music.

Recorded at their debut European appearance at the iconic German rock festival, brothers Kyle and Kelly Juett along with Judge Smith have captured their steaming hot stew of UFO and Iron Maiden inspired metal; southern Molly Hatchet and ZZ Top swagger, and deathly Sabbathian doom. A concoction that should by all accounts prove too heavy to handle on record, but as fans will soon discover, Mothership Live Over Freak Valley will deliver the filth and fury of the full Mothership live experience.

Since 2013 the band has travelled 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.

All this month Mothership embark on a US tour with Corrosion of Conformity, Brant Bjork and Saviours where the band will have CDs of Mothership Live Over Freak Valley on sale ahead of its official vinyl release on Ripple Music in the New Year. To catch them live and for the full list of dates see below.

Mothership is Kelley Juett (guitars/vocals), Kyle Juett (bass/vocals) and Judge Smith (drums).

Mothership Live:
11/16 – Scottsdale, AZ – Pub Rock
11/17 – Los Angeles, CA – Teragram Ballroom
11/18 – San Francisco, CA – Slim’s
11/19 – Vancouver, BC – Venue Nightclub
11/21 – Seattle, WA – Neumo’s
11/23 – Denver, CO – Summit Music Hall
11/24 – Kansas City, MO – The Riot Room
11/25 – Minneapolis, MN – Mill City Nights
11/27 – Racine, WI – Route 20
11/28 – Cleveland, OH – The Odeon
11/29 – Philadelphia, PA – Underground Arts
12/01 – Toronto, ON – Opera House
12/02 – Flint, MI – The Machine Shop
12/03 – Pittsburgh, PA – Altar Bar
12/04 – New York, NY – Gramercy Theatre
12/05 – Allston, MA – Brighton Music Hall
12/07 – Washington, DC – 9:30 Club
12/08 – Asheville, NC – The Orange Peel
12/09 – Virginia Beach, VA – Shaka’s Live
12/10 – Raleigh, NC – Lincoln Theatre

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Wo Fat Sign to Ripple Music; New Album Midnight Cometh in 2016

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 3rd, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

wo fat

Seems to take more and more these days to catch me off-guard, but Wo Fat signing to Ripple Music has done just that. The Dallas trio have emerged as forerunners of American heavy rock, and as they stand on the precipice of a return trip to Europe in 2016 to support their newly-announced album, Midnight Cometh, they do so as prime exports, confirmed for appearances already at Desertfest in London and Berlin and Hellfest, doubtless with more to come.

This is big news. Not just because they’ve become such a pivotal act, but also because of what it means for Ripple Music and what it means for Small Stone, their now-former label. Commented Small Stone‘s Scott Hamilton, “Small Stone is going through a big nasty distribution switch and it did not line up for the time frame that Wo Fat wanted their new album released.”

Wo Fat commented thusly: “Our time with Small Stone Records has been awesome, but because of a switch in distribution that they are working through at the moment, they weren’t able to meet the time frame we needed for this release and since we’ve been friends and had a great deal of respect for the Ripple guys and their label for a long time, it made a lot of sense to release this with them. Below is a preview of the super bitchin’ art from David Paul Seymour.”

It’s a sizable move either way, and I think it’s fair to say Wo Fat are among the biggest acts on Ripple at this point:

wo fat midnight cometh 1

WO FAT announce signing to Ripple Music, Desertfest & Hellfest Appearances and new album Midnight Cometh for Spring 2016

After slinging their Texas-sized psychedelic blues doom for over a decade, Dallas legends Wo Fat are pleased to announce that they have signed to the California-based label Ripple Music.

“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.”

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 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.

“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 mesmerising 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 is slated for release in Spring 2016 and will be supported by a European tour, which will also include appearances at Desertfest in Berlin and London (, and Hellfest, France (

Wo Fat Discography
The Gathering Dark (2006, Red Menace Records)
Psychedelonaut (2008, Brainticket Records)
Noche del Chupacabra (2011, Nasoni Records)
The Black Code (2012, Small Stone Records)
The Conjuring (2014, Small Stone Records)
Live Ju Ju: Wo Fat At Freak Valley (2015, Fuzz Lab)

Wo Fat, Live in Paris, Aug. 9, 2015

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Quarterly Review: Horisont, Blackwolfgoat & Larman Clamor, Matushka, Tuna de Tierra, MAKE, SardoniS, Lewis and the Strange Magics, Moewn, El Hijo de la Aurora, Hawk vs. Dove

Posted in Reviews on September 30th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster


Cruising right along with the Fall 2015 Quarterly Review. I hope you’ve been digging it so far. There’s still much more to come, and I’ve spaced things out so that it’s not like all the really killer stuff was in the first day. That’s not so much to draw people in with bigger names as to get a good mix of styles to keep me from going insane. 10 records is a lot to go through if you’re hearing the same thing all the time. Today, as with each day this week, I’m glad to be able to change things up a bit as we make our way through. Let’s get to it.

Fall 2015 Quarterly Review #21-30:

Horisont, Odyssey

horisont odyssey

Aside from earning immediate points by sticking the 10-minute title-track at the front of their 62-minute fourth album, Swedish mustache rockers Horisont add intrigue to Odyssey (out on Rise Above) via the acquisition of journeyman guitarist Tom Sutton (The Order of Israfel, ex-Church of Misery). Their mission? To rock ‘70s arena melodies and grandiose vibes while keeping the affair tight enough so they don’t come across as completely ridiculous in the process. They’ve had three records to get it together before this one, so that they’d succeed isn’t necessarily much of a surprise, but the album satisfies nonetheless, cuts like “Blind Leder Blind” departing the sci-fi thematics of the opener for circa-1975 vintage loyalism of a different stripe, while “Back on the Streets” is pure early Scorpions strut, the band having found their own niche within crisp execution of classic-sounding grooves that seem to have a vinyl hiss no matter their source.

Horisont on Thee Facebooks

Rise Above Records

Blackwolfgoat & Larman Clamor, Straphanger / Drone Monger Split

blackwolfgoat larman clamor split

I’ll make no bones whatsoever about being partial to the work of both Blackwolfgoat – the solo experimental vehicle of Boston-based guitarist Darryl Shepard – and Larman Clamor – the solo-project of Hamburg-based graphic artist Alexander von Wieding – so to find them teamed up for a split 7” on H42 Records is something of a special thrill. Shepard’s inclusion, “Straphanger,” continues to push the thread between building layers of guitar on top of each other and songwriting that the last Blackwolfgoat full-length, Drone Maintenance (review here), found him exploring, while Larman Clamor’s “Drone Monger” is an alternate version from what appeared on last year’s Beetle Crown and Steel Wand (review here) and “Fo’ What You Did” digs deep into the swampy psych-blues that von Wieding has done so well developing for the last half-decade or so in the project’s tenure. My only complaint? No collaboration between the two sides. Would love to hear what Shepard and von Wieding could do in a cross-Atlantic two-piece.

Blackwolfgoat on Thee Facebooks

Larman Clamor on Thee Facebooks

H42 Records

Matushka, II

matushka ii

II is the aptly-titled second full-length from Russian heavy psych instrumentalists Matushka, who jam kosmiche across its four component tracks and round out by diving headfirst into the acid with “Drezina,” a 20-minute pulsation from some distant dimension that gives sounds like Earthless if they made it up on the spot, peppering shred-ola leads with no shortage of effects swirl. In comparison, “As Bartenders and Bouncers Dance” feels positively plotted, but it, “The Acid Curl’s Dance” before and the especially dreamy “Meditation,” which follows, all have their spontaneous-sounding elements. For guitarist Timophey Goryashin, bassist Maxim Zhuravlev (who seems to since be out of the band) and drummer Konstantin Kotov to even sustain this kind of lysergic flow, they need to have a pretty solid chemistry underlying the material, and they do. I don’t know whether Matushka’s II will change the scope of heavy psychedelia, but they put their stamp on the established parameters here and bring an edge of individuality in moments of arrangement flourish — acoustics, synth, whatever it might be — where a lot of times that kind of thing is simply lost in favor of raw jamming.

Matushka on Thee Facebooks

Matushka on Bandcamp

Tuna de Tierra, EPisode I: Pilot

tuna de tierra episode i pilot

If a pilot is used in television to test whether or not a show works, then Tuna de Tierra’s EPisode I: Pilot, would seem to indicate similar ends. A three-song first outing from the Napoli outfit, it coats itself well in languid heavy psychedelic vibing across “Red Sun” (the opener and longest track at 8:25; immediate points), “Ash” (7:28) and the particularly dreamy “El Paso de la Tortuga,” which closes out at 4:08 and leaves the listener wanting to hear more of what Alessio de Cicco (guitar/vocals) and Luciano Mirra (bass) might be able to concoct from their desert-style influences. There’s patience to be learned in some of their progressions, and presumably at some point they’ll need to pick up a drummer to replace Jonathan Maurano, who plays here and seems to since be out of the band, but especially as their initial point of contact with planet earth, EPisode I: Pilot proves immersive and a pleasure to get lost within, and that’s enough for the moment.

Tuna de Tierra on Thee Facebooks

Tuna de Tierra on Bandcamp

MAKE, The Golden Veil

make the golden veil

Much of what one might read concerning North Carolinian trio MAKE and their second album, The Golden Veil, seems to go out of its way to point out the individual take they’re bringing to the established parameters of post-metal. I don’t want to speak for anyone else, but part of that has to be sheer critical fatigue at the thought of another act coming along having anything in common with Isis while at the same time, not wanting to rag on MAKE as though their work were without value of its own, which at this point an Isis comparison dogwhistles. MAKE’s The Golden Veil successfully plays out an atmospherically intricate, engaging linear progression across its seven tracks, from the cut-short intro “I was Sitting Quietly, Peeling back My Skin” through the atmospheric sludge tumult of “The Absurdist” and into the patient post-rock melo-drone of “In the Final Moments, Uncoiling.” Yes, parts of it are familiar. Parts of a lot of things are familiar. Some of it sounds like Isis. That’s okay.

MAKE on Thee Facebooks

MAKE on Bandcamp

SardoniS, III

sardonis iii

To an extent, the reputation of Belgium instru-crushers SardoniS precedes them, and as such I can’t help but listen to “The Coming of Khan,” which launches their third album, III (out via Consouling Sounds), and not be waiting for the explosion into tectonic riffing and massive-sounding gallop. Still the duo of drummer Jelle Stevens and guitarist Roel Paulussen, SardoniS offer up five tracks of sans-vocals, Surrounded by Thieves-style thrust, a cut like “Roaming the Valley” summarizing some of the best elements of what they’ve done across the span of splits with Eternal Elysium and Drums are for Parades, as well as their two prior full-lengths, 2012’s II and 2010’s SardoniS (review here), in its heft and its rush. A somewhat unanticipated turn arrives with 11:46 closer “Forward to the Abyss,” which though it still hits its standard marks, also boasts both lengthy atmospheric sections at the front and back and blastbeaten extremity between. Just when you think you know what to expect.

SardoniS on Thee Facebooks

Consouling Sounds

Lewis and the Strange Magics, Velvet Skin

lewis and the strange magics velvet skin

With their debut long-player, Barcelona trio Lewis and the Strange Magics answer the promise of their 2014 Demo (review here) in setting a late-‘60s vibe to modern cultish interpretation, post-Uncle Acid and post-Ghost (particularly so on “How to be You”) but no more indebted to one or the other than to themselves, which is as it should be. Issued via Soulseller Records, Velvet Skin isn’t afraid to dive into kitsch, and that winds up being a big part of the charm of songs like “Female Vampire” and “Golden Threads,” but it’s ultimately the chemistry of the organ-inclusive trio that makes the material hold up, as well as the swaggering rhythms of “Cloudy Grey Cube” and “Nina (Velvet Skin),” which is deceptively modern in its production despite such a vintage methodology. The guitar and keys on that semi-title-track seem to speak to a classic progressive edge burgeoning within Lewis and the Strange Magics’ approach, and I very much hope that’s a path they continue to walk.

Lewis and the Strange Magics on Thee Facebooks

Soulseller Records

Moewn, Acqua Alta

moewn acqua alta

Basking in a style they call “oceanic rock,” newcomer German trio Moewn unveil their first full-length, Acqua Alta, via Pink Tank Records in swells of post-metallic undulations that wear their neo-progressive influences on their sleeve. Instrumental for the duration, the three-piece tracked the album in 2014 about a year after first getting together, but the six songs have a cohesive, thought-out feel to their peaks and valleys – “Packeis” perhaps most of all – that speaks to their purposeful overall progression. Atmospherically, it feels like Moewn are still searching for what they want to do with this sound, but they have an awful lot figured out up to this point, whether it’s the nodding wash of airy guitar and fluid heft of groove that seems to push “Dunkelmeer” along or second cut “Katamaran,” which if it weren’t for the liquefied themes of the art and their self-applied genre tag, I’d almost say sounded in its more spacious stretches like desert rock à la Yawning Man.

Moewn on Thee Facebooks

Pink Tank Records

El Hijo de la Aurora, The Enigma of Evil

el hijo de la aurora the enigma of evil

Since their first album, 2008’s Lemuria (review here), it has been increasingly difficult to pin Peruvian outfit El Hijo de la Aurora to one style or another. Drawing from doom, heavy rock, drone and psychedelic elements, they seem to push outward cosmically into something that’s all and none of them at the same time on their third album, The Enigma of Evil (released by Minotauro Records), the core member Joaquín Cuadra enlisting the help of a host of others in executing the seven deeply varied tracks, including Indrayudh Shome of continually underrated experimentalists Queen Elephantine on the acoustic-led “The Awakening of Kosmos” and the penultimate chug-droner “The Advent of Ahriman.” Half a decade after the release of their second album, Wicca (review here), in 2010, El Hijo de la Aurora’s work continues to feel expansive and ripe for misinterpretation, finding weight in atmosphere as much as tone and breadth enough to surprise with how claustrophobic it can at times seem.

El Hijo de la Aurora’s website

Minotauro Records

Hawk vs. Dove, Divided States

hawk vs dove divided states

Dallas outfit Hawk vs. Dove recorded Divided States in the same studio as their self-titled 2013 debut (review here) and the two albums both have black and white line-drawn artwork from Larry Carey, so it seems only fitting to think of the new release as a follow-up to the first. It is fittingly expansive, culling together elements of ‘90s noise, post-grunge indie (ever wondered what Weezer would sound like heavy? Check “X”), black metal (“Burning and Crashing”), desert rock (“PGP”) and who the hell knows what else into a mesh of styles that not only holds up but feels progressed from the first time out and caps with an 11-minute title-track that does even more to draw the various styles together into a cohesive, singular whole. All told, Divided States is 38 minutes of blinding turns expertly handled and impressive scope trod over as though it ain’t no thing, just another day at the office. It’s the kind of record that’s so good at what it does that other bands should hear it and be annoyed.

Hawk vs. Dove on Thee Facebooks

Hawk vs. Dove on Bandcamp

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Mothership Announce Tour Dates with Crobot; Live over Freak Valley Due in Nov.

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 24th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster


Not sure I’m the person to make this kind of declaration, but Mothership are about as much a candidate as Ripple Music has for being a “flagship band.” They rock, first and foremost. They break their collective ass putting in work on the road, and their reach only seems to be expanding as they grow creatively. They’re as representative an act for what appeals most about Ripple as I can think of, and that’s not to take away from anyone else on the label at all, just to say that in the wake of their 2014 sophomore outing, Mothership II (review here), there’s an awful lot the Dallas trio are doing right.

To wit, they’ll release the new live album Live over Freak Valley in Nov., and they’ve just announced yet another US tour, this time with Crobot and Wilson. The PR wire has it like this:


Mothership to release Mothership Live Over Freak Valley this November | Announce US dates for The Drunk As Sh*t Tour with Crobot and Wilson

After the rerelease of their momentous second album and a storming start to 2015, Mothership – the hard rocking supersonic/intergalactic Texan trio – are pleased to announce the arrival of Mothership Live Over Freak Valley this coming November on Ripple Music.

Recorded at their debut European appearance at the iconic German rock festival, brothers Kyle and Kelly Juett along with Judge Smith have captured their steaming hot stew of UFO and Iron Maiden inspired metal; southern Molly Hatchet and ZZ Top swagger, and deathly Sabbathian doom. A concoction that should by all accounts prove too heavy to handle on record, but as fans will soon discover, Mothership Live Over Freak Valley will deliver the filth and fury of the full Mothership live experience.

Since 2013 the band has travelled 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.

Over the coming months Mothership also embark on The Drunk As Sh*t Tour with fellow rockers Crobot and Wilson where the band will have CDs of Mothership Live Over Freak Valley on sale ahead of its official vinyl release on Ripple Music at the end of the year. To catch them live and for the full list of dates see below.

Mothership Live:
10th July – Blue Fox Billiards, Winchester, VA
11th July – Ziggy’s By The Sea, Wilmington, NC
14th July – Trick Shot Billiards, Clifton Park, NY
15th July – The Studio at Webster Hall, New York, NY
17th July – Chameleon Club, Lancaster, PA
18th July – The Met, Pawtucket, RI
19th July – The Lost Horizon, Syracuse, NY
21st July – The Outpost, Kent, OH
23rd July – Frankie’s Inner-City, Toledo, OH
24th July – Cheers Pub – South Bend, IN
25th July – The Stache @ The Intersection, Grand Rapids, MI
26th July – Alrosa Villa, Columbus, OH
28th July – Venue 3405, Joplin, MO
31st July – Q&Z Expo Center, Ringle, WI
1st August – Pov’s 65, Spring Lake Park, MN
7th August – Bourbon Theatre, Lincoln, NE**
8th August – Black Sheep, Colorado Springs, CO**
9th August – The Bluebird Theater, Denver, CO**
18th August – Rockbar Theater, San Jose, CA**
** w. Crobot only

Mothership is Kelley Juett (guitars/vocals), Kyle Juett (bass/vocals) and Judge Smith (drums).

Mothership, “Serpents Throne” from Live over Freak Valley

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Mothership and The Dirty Streets Spring Tour Starts Next Week

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 24th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster


Like they do, Dallas trio Mothership are once more headed out on tour. They’re continuing to support last year’s Mothership II (review here), which came out last fall on Ripple Music, and for what’s been dubbed the “Spring Odyssey Tour,” they’re partnered up with underrated Memphis blues jammers The Dirty Streets. The tour will carry Mothership to their appearance at Psycho California alongside SleepPentagramKylesa and many, many others (info here) and cover a decent swath of the West Coast and the Midwest, including Chicago, St. Paul, Boise, Denver, and so on.

Shows start one week from today. Here’s the official tour announcement off the PR wire:

mothership the dirty streets tour

Mothership announce Spring Odyssey Tour with The Dirty Streets across the USA this May

After a storming 2014 following the rerelease of their momentous second album through Ripple Music and European debut at The Freak Valley Festival, supersonic/intergalactic Dallas band Mothership return for what promises to be another busy year for the hard rocking Texan trio.

This May, brothers Kyle and Kelly Juett along with Judge Smith take to the road to recreate live their steaming hot stew of UFO and Iron Maiden inspired metal; southern Molly Hatchet and ZZ Top swagger, and deathly Sabbathian rock. A concoction that for some might prove too heavy to handle on record, those brave enough to bear witness to the full Mothership experience will soon discover exactly what it means to party hard.

Since 2013 the band has travelled non-stop to play 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.

For the full list of dates on Mothership’s Spring Odyssey Tour with Memphis band The Dirty Streets see below.

1st May – St. Louis, MO – Fubar
2nd May – Dubuque, IA – Vintage Torque Festival*
3rd May – Milwaukee, WI – Metal Grill
4th May – Chicago, IL – Reggie’s
5th May – St. Paul, MN – Big V’s Saloon
6th May – Kansas City, MO – The Scene
7th May – Denver, CO – Moon Room
9th May – Boise, ID – Crazy Horse
10th May – Vancouver, BC – Hindenburg*
11th May – Seattle, WA – El Corazon
13th May – Bend, OR – Volcanic Theatre Pub
15th May – South Lake Tahoe, CA – Whiskey Dicks
17th May – Orange County, CA – Psycho California*
*Mothership Only

Mothership is Kelley Juett (guitars/vocals), Kyle Juett (bass/vocals) and Judge Smith (drums).

Mothership, Mothership II (2014)

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Wo Fat, Live Juju: Wo Fat at Freak Valley: Bringing the Bayou

Posted in On Wax on April 24th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster


It seems unlikely that a casual listener or at very least someone who’s not already a fan would chase down an offering like Live Juju: Wo Fat at Freak Valley, which captures Dallas trio Wo Fat‘s five-song, 40-minute set at the 2014 edition of the German Freak Valley festival, held in Netphen. However, we live in a universe of infinite possibilities, so as a perfunctory notice, I’ll say that like the vast, vast majority of live releases, it’s better appreciated by those with some familiarity to the studio versions of the tracks, and that if you’re hearing Wo Fat for the first time — unless you were at Freak Valley (or somewhere else they played, I suppose), didn’t know the albums, saw them live, were super-into it and want a memento — the place to go is probably to one of their albums before you get back to Live Juju. That’s a condition of live records in general, not necessarily something related to the three-piece’s performance at the fest or anything about the recording, which is released by Fuzz Lab Records and was recorded by Jens Hunecke, but it’s a disclaimer worth putting out there anyway, should anyone happen to be new to the band. For the already-converted, Live Juju is an utter no-brainer. One of US heavy rock’s finest and fuzziest taking the stage at a major Euro fest, a setlist spanning six years in five songs recorded clean and crisp, pressed to thick-stock black LP with cover and inside-liner art by David Paul Seymour, live photos from the fest by Falk-Hagen Bernshausen (first published here) and a download code that includes a bonus 14-minute studio jam called “Dark Snow” that rumbles and grooves like the best of Wo Fat‘s latter-day explorations? If you’re already a fan of Wo Fat, there’s really nothing about Live Juju not to like.

Call it a victory lap. Guitarist/vocalist Kent Stump (who also mixed at the band’s Crystal Clear Audio in Dallas), bassist Tim Wilson and drummer/backing vocalist Michael Walter first took to European stages in 2012, then supporting their Small Stone label debut and fourth album, The Black Code (vinyl review here, CD review here). Their 2014 return trip, arriving on the heels of their fifth record and finest work to-date, The Conjuring (review here), was dubbed the “Texas Takeover” and Wo Fat were joined by fellow Dallas natives Mothership on their inaugural run. Freak Valley was an earlier stop on the tour, which lasted about two weeks. Not really what you’d call a “touring band,” in the sense of road-dogging their way back and forth from market to market, venue to venue, Wo Fat have nonetheless managed to concoct a formidable stage presence, and at least going by the audio (much as I’d like to, I’ve yet to see Freak Valley in-person), they hit stage in Netphen with no hesitation. Their set boasts highlights going back to their second full-length, 2008’s Psychedelonaut (review here), tying the material together with a fervent sense of ride-ready groove and weighted tones, Stump opting for a bluesman’s gruffness on “Read the Omens” from The Conjuring, which follows opener “The Black Code.” That song, the title-track of the 2012 album, is nothing if not a landmark hook for the band, and they faithfully give it a rendition north of 10 minutes, their motion no less fluid on stage than in the studio, rolling their way into the faster verses of “Read the Omens” before the chorus opens wide and echoing true to the outdoor space where it was recorded. Side A is just the two songs, and the flip does sort of pull you out of the live experience, but the way I wound up thinking about it was a second to tune ahead of “Bayou Juju” serving as the centerpiece of the set.


Side B is longer, beginning with “Bayou Juju” and rolling through “Enter the Riffian” and closer “Sleep of the Black Lotus” smoothly and with enough rumble in Wilson‘s bass as Stump tears into an extended solo on the first of them that it’s easy to imagine the grasses of Freak Valley vibrating from the low end. By the time they get there, Wo Fat are full on, about halfway through and nailing it. The track, taken from 2011’s Noche del Chupacabra (review here), is a highlight, but the shorter “Enter the Riffian” from Psychedelonaut grounds the set and thus the recording with a more straightforward, less jammy movement. Wo Fat may have grown beyond the kind of dead-ahead heavy rock that Psychedelonaut offered — to their credit, keeping a balance of hooks and jams in doing so — but they use the older material well here, and Walter‘s ride-cymbal swing comes through loud and clear on Live Juju behind the winding riff. It’s the only song here under seven minutes long, but lives up to its multifaceted purpose, bleeding directly into “Sleep of the Black Lotus” with a cymbal wash and guitar freakout, Stump seizing an opportunity to tear into an improv-sounding take on the finale’s intro in front of the festival crowd. They telegraph the groove from the start, if only to bring that audience along, and it’s easy to imagine the sea of nodding heads that stood before them, maybe a puff of smoke here or there as the midsection evolves into a churning jam from the earlier verses and choruses, a model that came to light earlier and which The Black Code and The Conjuring continued to grow. Feedback and earned applause ends and the arm returns, but for those listening digitally, the instrumental “Dark Snow” further affirms Wo Fat‘s improvisational sensibilities, building from a creepy backwards-cymbal fade-in to a solo-topped roll that shares in common with its live compatriots on Live Juju just how in their element Wo Fat seem to be. That’s really the story of Live Juju: Wo Fat at Freak Valley. It’s an act who have cut their teeth and organically developed their sound across five records getting on stage and sharing the fruits of their labor. The short version? They deliver, and prove that sometimes when a band doesn’t tour all the time, nine months out of the year on the road and so on, that only makes it more special when they do. This must have been something to see.

Wo Fat, Live Juju (2015)

Wo Fat on Thee Facebooks

Wo Fat’s website

Freak Valley Festival

Fuzz Lab Records

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The Obelisk Questionnaire: Kent Stump of Wo Fat

Posted in Questionnaire on March 6th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster


Across five records and nine fuzz-laden years, Dallas trio Wo Fat have become an institution in Texas heavy rock. Their latest album and second for Small Stone, The Conjuring (review here), is in many ways their strongest release to date, benefiting from the naturally-developed chemistry between guitarist/vocalist Kent Stump, bassist Tim Wilson and drummer Michael Walter, as well as from the self-sufficiency of the band recording at their own studio, Crystal Clear Sound, in Dallas. While their reputation has built steadily since the release of their 2006 debut, The Gathering Dark, and its ’08 follow-up, Psychedelonaut (review here), 2011’s Noche del Chupacabra (review here), on Nasoni, proved a particular breakthrough point, leading to the band’s signing to Small Stone for the next year’s The Black Code (review here), for which they toured in Europe for the first time, making their continental debut at the 2013 Roadburn Festival in Tilburg, the Netherlands (review here) and setting the stage for the triumph to come with The Conjuring and a return trip across the Atlantic, this one marked out by an appearance at last year’s Freak Valley in Germany.

Wo Fat‘s latest release is a document of their set there: Live Juju: Wo Fat at Freak Valley will hit the public on March 17. Later this year, the band will also take part in Magnetic Eye Records‘ tribute to Jimi HendrixElectric Ladyland [Redux], covering “Gypsy Eyes.”

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Kent Stump

How did you come to do what you do?

Well, what I do is play music and I record music, which is how I make my living – recording music, that is. Music has always been a huge part of my life. Both of my parents are musicians, so it was something that was just ubiquitous and inescapable in our house when I was growing up. Never once in my life did I consider doing anything with my life other than becoming a musician and doing something relating to music, although the place I’m at now is not where I would have thought I would be when I was a teenager, or even when I was in college. My journey to the heavy and the riff is a bit of a circuitous one.

I went to college to study jazz and fully planned on getting out of college and going on to be a jazz musician. While at college, I got turned on to a much wider world of music by so many great people with widely varying tastes. I discovered punk rock and ‘70s funk and African music and all the great ‘70s rock and the ‘80s NY noise scene, and on and on. And most importantly, I really discovered the blues. I had always known a bit about the blues since I was heavily into jazz, but I became much more hip to a lot of blues musicians that I hadn’t previously checked out, and that eventually led me to realize that my whole life I’ve been drawn to music that comes from the blues – rock, funk, etc. That, along with a friend I had that was into all things heavy who got me listening to Sabbath as well as a lot of ‘80s hardcore and metal, led to my desire to make heavy blues music.

When I was in college in Denton, Texas, the music scene at that time was absolutely electric, and the vibe was very open and experimental. Punk rock and funk and metal with a jazz edge were all kind of mixing together and it was a really artistically open-minded vibe at the time, which I think shaped my thinking about music a lot. So eventually in the late ‘90s I discovered bands like Sleep, Fu Manchu, Nebula, Kyuss and all the Man’s Ruin bands and I came to the realization that this is the music, along with the blues, that speaks to me on the most primal level and this is what I want to play.

Describe your first musical memory.

My first musical memory is laying on our living room floor when I was very young, maybe four or five years old, and my dad putting on a record of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. It’s an amazing piece of music and it definitely left an impression on me. I think, if I’m not mistaken, when that piece was premiered in Paris it caused a riot. Stravinsky is pretty hardcore.

Describe your best musical memory to date.

I don’t know if I have just one best musical memory. I’ve got a lot of things that were landmark musical moments in my life though. Getting to play at Roadburn is without a doubt one of the best musical memories for me. Roadburn is such an iconic thing and it was the first show that we played on our first European tour, which was also the first time I had ever been to Europe and it was just kind of a surreal, epiphenal and mindblowing experience. It was amazing to walk into the scene there and see a whole bunch of people that are hardcore fans of the same music I dig. I had never seen that, at least not on that level, before.

You don’t see that kind of thing when it comes to this kind of music in the US. And to be performing at this amazing festival was just awesome, and also a bit nerve-racking at the same time. I remember going to see High on Fire’s set after we played and it was packed and the crowd was just electric and High on Fire sounded better than I’ve ever heard them before. I think they were just vibing on the amazing vibe of the fans. Same with Elder’s set, who I got to see a little later that night. The vibe from the crowd was so intense and Elder kicked ass riding that wave, I think. Amazing day.

I have memories of a lot of transcendental shows that I would put in the great musical memory category. Getting to see Sleep a couple years ago was bad ass. Sometime around 1997 or 1998 I went to SXSW in Austin, before SXSW totally turned into utter crap, and I got to see Fatso Jetson just destroy as well as an amazing showcase that had Fu Manchu and Queens of the Stone Age right before they hit big. There was a whole Man’s Ruin showcase that was killer.

When I was in college I got to see free jazz great Cecil Taylor. That was an absolutely kick ass show. He was just pounding the piano and pieces of the pads inside the piano were flying out as he was playing. And there were maybe 10 people there to see this free jazz icon. So many great shows that have shaped my thinking.

I also have a lot of memories of late nights fueled with alcohol, and other things, and hanging with friends who turned me onto heavy, heavy tunes that I wasn’t previously hip to. Some of these rank up there with the great musical moments to me – sitting on the couch and tripping out to amazing, life-changing jams… These things all are part of my story as a musician and music lover that has brought me to where I am now.

When was a time when a firmly held belief was tested?

That’s a tough question. I kinda feel like most my life, my beliefs and likes/interests have been juxtaposed between two opposing worlds. For example, my heavily schooled musical upbringing versus a more primal, less technical, organic approach to playing. Or, being a recording engineer like I am, most of my peers are gearheads focused on the technical aspects of engineering, which I am to a certain extent, but I am far more focused on the musicality of recording and finding ways to make a recording reach you on an emotional level, so I’m not über-obsessed with technical- and gear-related things about recording.

Also in this particular time, my political versus spiritual beliefs, that to me, are completely simpatico, are to most, seemingly at odds with one another.

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

Ideally artistic progression leads to more artistic progression. Art and music is a neverending journey. I don’t think I’ll ever have arrived at a stopping place artistically because every move forward reveals more things to reach for and directions to consider. That’s the beauty of it. You’re never finished. You can just abandon the quest if you want, but there is always further to go.

How do you define success?

I think it’s being happy and doing what you makes you happy. Despite the fact that financially, life is a struggle for me, I feel like I’ve achieved a good amount of success in the sense that I’m playing music I love and people are digging it, we own a killer studio and my day job involves doing things that are artistic and deal with music and, on top of it all, I’ve got the most amazing wife who I’ve been married to for 18 years.

What is something you have seen that you wish you hadn’t?

On the one hand there’s probably a lot I wish I hadn’t seen, but at the same time, all those experiences contribute to making me who I am, although there are some things that I could probably do without ever seeing that wouldn’t change me too much. One thing that I wish I hadn’t seen is this: The studio that we run is in an industrial area of Dallas and there are a lot of stray dogs that run around in packs in that area. Seeing a stray dog is something I don’t like seeing to begin with because I love dogs and I want to help them all, but we’re full up at my house with dogs. My wife and I already have five dogs so there’s no more room at the inn.

Anyway, one day I saw a little Chihuahua-mix stray being harassed by a couple of big dogs. At first I thought they were playing, but then I realized that that was not the case and I wasn’t able to get to them to break it up before the larger dogs had inflicted a mortal wound on the little guy. It just breaks my heart that I couldn’t help him and it still pains me to this day to think about it. I hate to see the helpless get brutalized by the powerful, which, sadly, happens all around us every day.

Describe something you haven’t created yet that you’d like to create.

I really wish that I could draw and paint. I would love to be able to create art like Frank Frazetta or Boris Vallejo. I don’t think that will ever happen for me, though, because I don’t have any of those skills. There is, of course, much more music I’d like to create. I’m always wanting to incorporate disparate musical styles and influences together in our music, like Afro-Cuban music, blues, jazz and metal.

Something non-musical that you’re looking forward to?

Having dinner and watching hockey with my wife.

Wo Fat, Live at Freak Valley 2014

Wo Fat on Thee Facebooks

Crystal Clear Sound website

Small Stone Records

Magnetic Eye Records


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Wo Fat Update on Live Juju at Freak Valley Release and Shows

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 2nd, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

I believe this was taken in Switzerland. Wo Fat get around. (Photo by Al Fombra)

As announced here back in December, Dallas trio Wo Fat will release their new live album, Live Juju: Wo Fat at Freak Valley, on March 17. The three-piece, who stood tall in 2014 both on that festival’s stage (and elsewhere) and with their fifth full-length, The Conjuring (review here) on Small Stone, have the vinyl up for preorder now through their Bandcamp, and have announced a host of appearances for the coming months. They’ll play with Elder and Mos Generator for a handful of shows as the two bands make their was through Texas ahead of a slot at the Borderlands Fuzz Fiesta, and in May they’ll take part in the Psycho California festival with SleepPentagram and tons of others. All this ahead of a slot at the Sylak Open Air fest in France, which would seem to hint at more European plans to be announced for the summer.

They sent the following update down the PR wire:

wo fat live juju at freak valley

Live Wo Fat record and upcoming spring shows

Upcoming album release and shows in the coming months with Elder, Mos Generator, Sleep, Fireball Ministry, Pentagram and more!

Exciting things are afoot in the Wo Fat world. First of all, we will be releasing Live Juju:Wo Fat at Freak Valley on vinyl on March 17th. This was recorded live at, you guessed it, Freak Valley Festival last May 30th in Germany. It will be black vinyl, which we decided to do exclusively because of the superior sonic quality, and it will include a download card that will have a bonus, previously unreleased jam called Dark Snow. Pre-ordering is open now on our bandcamp page:

We’ve also got some exciting gigs coming up this spring including an appearance at Psycho California, which has arguably the best lineup of bands of any festival in the USA this year. Check out the poster. Get more info here:

We’ll also be playing the Borderland Fuzz Fiesta in Tucson in February with Fireball Ministry and Mos Generator, among others, as well as doing some shows on the road with Mos Generator on the way to Arizona. Get your tickets for Borderland Fuzz Fiesta here:

And that’s not all! We’ll be playing the 3rd annual Fuzzed Out! Fest in Fort Worth.

Stay up to date on our tour dates on Bands In Town:

Upcoming Shows:
2-18 The Grotto, Fort Worth, TX
with Mos Generator, Mothership, Cosmic Trigger’
2-19 The Lost Well, Austin TX
with Mos Generator, Mothership and Duel
2-20 The Low Brow Palace, El Paso, TX
with Mos Generator
2-21 Borderland Fuzz Fiesta, The Rock, Tucson, AZ
with Fireball Ministry, Mos Generator, and more…
3-13 Silver Dollar, Texarkana, AK
with Elder and Mos Generator
3-14 Double Wide, Dallas, TX
with Elder, Mos Generator and Blood of the Sun
3-21 Fuzzed Out!, Lola’s, Fort Worth, TX
lineup tba
4-25 Club Dada, Dallas, TX
with Mothership, Switchblade Jesus and Fuzz Evil
5-17 Psycho California, The Observatory, Costa Mesa, CA
headliners: Sleep, Pentagram, Cult of Luna and many more.
8-8 Sylak Open Air Festival, France

Wo Fat, Live Juju: Wo Fat at Freak Valley (2015)

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