Friday Full-Length: Demon Cleaner, The Freeflight

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 29th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Demon Cleaner, The Freeflight (2000)

Something of a lost classic of its era now, Demon Cleaner‘s 2000 debut, The Freeflight isn’t actually all that lost. Molten Universe, the label that put it out 16 years ago along with early releases by related Swedish acts Dozer and Greenleaf, still has copies available. So maybe not lost, but in the pantheon of the beginnings of Europe’s stoner rock boom of the late ’90s and early ’00s, Demon Cleaner deserve consideration alongside Dozer and Lowrider, among others, and their name is often left off that list. Part of that I think is owed to timing. If the early-Fu Manchu fuzz of “Head Honcho” or “Megawheel” dropped today, it would come accompanied by a video of somebody skateboarding in slow motion and would be hailed for its post-grunge authenticity of tone and live feel. Because it was 2000 — a time when discovering music on the internet was something done largely through surfing somebody’s Napster offerings or the odd message board — the process was different and not nearly so widespread, and unlike Lowrider, who had US distribution through MeteorCity, or Dozer, who kept putting out records, Demon Cleaner called it quits after 2002’s self-titled follow-up (also on Molten Universe), with members moving onto Stonewall Noise Orchestra and drummer Karl Daniel Lidén joining Dozer and Greenleaf before embarking on solo material and a successful career as an engineer — he did the latest Katatonia, for example — so there hasn’t been the same kind of sustained legacy for Demon Cleaner as some of their peers.

That, of course, does nothing to diminish the “Spit blood and gasoline/Chrome and steel/Megawheel” appeal of that track or the nodding roll of “Up in Smoke,” or the push of a song like “Mothertrucker,” in which one can hear the roots of a brand of fuzz rock that countrymen acts like Truckfighters would continue to progress years later. Tone is a huge part of the appeal, as closer “Heading Home” successfully emphasizes, but there’s a rawness in the vocals, a dryness, where so much of what came afterwards was and has been drenched in reverb. It gives the delivery of guitarist Daniel Söderholm — joined at this point by Lidén, guitarist Kimmo Holappa and bassist/vocalist Martin Stangefelt — a punkish feel that’s ultimately much truer to the bulk of what came out of the Californian desert scene, whether it was Kyuss or heavy rock compatriots like the aforementioned Fu Manchu. Listening back to The Freeflight now, one can hear the aesthetic of pre-retro European heavy rock taking shape, and while Demon Cleaner may always be noted for having issued a trio of early splits alongside Dozer before their records dropped, linking those two acts and that scene, their albums deliver something from which even Dozer was operating on a different wavelength, and while of their time, I think these tracks still hold up all these years later.

If you’re worried about investing the time in checking it out, The Freeflight has a long break after “Heading Home” before a hidden cut, so it’s not actually 55 minutes long. I guess it was the Lowrider news earlier today got me thinking about these guys, but either way, I hope you enjoy.

If you’re at Desertfest this weekend in either Berlin or London, I hope you have an absolute blast. I’ll admit to being more than a little jealous. Maybe next year I’ll get to Berlin finally or make a triumphant return to Camden Town. I’ll go anywhere that’ll have me, basically.

Rough week at work but who cares? Dragged down by bullshit. Hate letting it get to me. Hate that it does at all. The list goes on. Screw it. Got a couple days not to think about it, so I’m gonna hold tight to that.

Next week: Monday, track stream from Bright Curse and an in-studio report about the new Scissorfight being tracked at the new Mad Oak. Tuesday (right now), Crypt Sermon interview. Wednesday, track stream from Wo Fat. Thursday and Friday I don’t know yet, but probably something will come along, and there are also videos for Kadavar, Limestone Whale, Spiritual Beggars and Drive by Wire that have all dropped in like the last day, so a bit of a backlog there, but I’ll do my best to get on top of that as well. We’re getting into May already. Amazing how quick this year is going.

Before I go — much as I’m ever “gone,” what with writing on the weekends and all — I want to say thanks for the tremendous amount of support I’ve gotten for the book release, for the All-Dayer in August, and for this year’s Roadburn coverage. It’s all hugely appreciated. Because I work full-time in addition to doing this, I don’t always have the chance to be as communicative as I should, because quite literally the choice I make every day is to write or to do everything else and if it’s one or the other I’m writing every time, but please know that if you’ve reached out to me over the last few weeks, thank you. And if you haven’t and you’re reading this, thank you anyway.

Please have a great and safe weekend, and please check out the forum and the radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

Tags: , , , , ,

Vaka’s Kappa Delta Phi: This is Seriously the ONLY Frat I’d Consider Joining

Posted in Reviews on February 23rd, 2009 by JJ Koczan

It’s quite a ways to go from the self-titled Demon Cleaner album’s good-timey rocking Kyuss groove to Vaka get red and Greek on your ass.Vaka‘s Kappa Delta Phi, but considering it took Karl Daniel Lid?n seven years to make the leap from playing drums on the one to doing everything on the other including producing and mixing, the stylistic shift at least has some context. With Vaka, Lid?n tackles a heavy post-metal aesthetic with a unique, piano-laden approach to what’s become a style flooded with mediocre bands.

That said, a Neurosis comparison isn’t necessarily inappropriate, and there are some Enemy Of The Sun-isms present for sure, but the brand of crushingly atmospheric experimentalism Vaka emit strikes even more like a hyper-realized version of Enslaved offshoot Trinacria, who released their Travel Now Journey Infinitely debut last year. There is a weighty darkness to the music that strikes as pure Scandinavian, rather than born out of US hard/metalcore as so many other post-metal acts are. Sounds more like itself, in other words. Not a bad thing.

Read more »

Tags: , , ,