Six Dumb Questions with Demon Head

Posted in Six Dumb Questions on July 6th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

demon head

With the seven tracks/40 minutes of their second full-length, Thunder on the Fields (review here), Copenhagen-based five-piece Demon Head explored textures between cult rock, vintage heavy, the formative era of doom and its modern interpretations, tying these various elements together via memorable songcraft and a resonant sense of live performance in cuts like “We are Burning,” “Thunder on the Fields” and “Gallows Omen,” among others. Their efforts resulted in one of the best albums of 2017 so far, and with issue through The Sign Records and Caligari Records, the follow-up to the band’s 2015 debut, Ride the Wilderness (review here), took a decided forward step in aesthetic and overarching presentation.

The solidification of an approach is one thing, and Thunder on the Fields most definitely represents that for Demon Head — appropriately so for a sophomore outing after a potential-filled debut — but in the garage-esque jangle of centerpiece “Older Now,” one can hear the lineup of vocalist Marcus Ferreira Larsen, lead/slide guitarist Thor Nielsen, rhythm guitarist/keyboardist Birk Nielsen, bassist Mikkel Fuglsang and drummer Jeppe Wittus actively working toward a more individualized style. And while the pieces they’re using for construction may be familiar, to listen to Thunder on the Fields either in its more straight-ahead early cuts like opener “Menneskeæderen” or the later reaches of the proto-metallic “Hic Svnt Dracones” and the seemingly jammed-out finale “Untune the Sky,” Demon Head‘s success in their efforts to make them their own can only be called a success throughout.

In the interview that follows, Larson talks about making the new record in terms of writing and recording, but also the band’s recent experience getting robbed on tour, brewing their own beer, and future plans to hit the road. It’s a relatively quick check-in with a group who seem poised to continue to grow in positive and increasingly nuanced ways, and if you haven’t yet had the chance to dig into Thunder on the Fields, the full stream from Bandcamp is at the bottom of this post. Have at it.

Please enjoy the following Six Dumb Questions:

demon head thunder on the fields

Six Dumb Questions with Demon Head

Tell me about writing Thunder on the Fields. Was there anything in particular you wanted to bring out in the material after Ride the Wilderness? How do you feel your sound has evolved from the first album to the second?

The songs on Thunder on the Fields came quickly after recording R.T.W. — and actually a good time before its release — so they’ve been underway for some years now. As writing, recording, and producing is mostly something we do ourselves, I guess we wanted to push ourselves further and take no easy ways out. The songs themselves have more sinister vibes to them, less boogie rock-feeling, and we gradually came to work more collectively on every riff and melody. Maybe that’s the natural way a band evolves, but I think the communal aspect has grown stronger and even if it makes it harder to finish something quick, the wicked demon baby that results from it is stronger. In terms of sound, we’ve learned a lot and become more picky this time around.

What was your time in the studio like? Set the scene for the place you recorded. What was the atmosphere there and how long were you in the studio? Did you record live? What kind of equipment was used and how much time went into capturing the tones in the guitar and bass?

When we felt that Thunder on the Fields was becoming a whole thing rather than individual parts, we planned for a long time how to record it. After an initial, very intense trip of three days and nights where we recorded demos of everything in my father’s studio, we took our time to listen and feel what was missing. Then in the middle of winter last year we went back to a cabin in the countryside of Northern Sealand, and had two weeks to record drums, guitar, and bass – the basic, live tracks that we always begin with. We bought an old mixing console and got it fixed for way more than we could afford, it seemed like a coincidence too good to be true that we had it offered some weeks before recording, and with the help of some friends we transported and mounted all our Chaos Island recording in the wooden house.

Everything went into a 16-track tape recorder, and we’d studied pretty obscure recording techniques from interviews, pictures and videos of sounds we ourselves like a lot. The sound of the instruments themselves we’ve spent a long time moulding, but how to reproduce these on a recorded media is every technician’s headache – not too noisy, but not artificially clear… Thinking back now, we always have very high expectations and put an enormous effort into following our ideals of sound, feeling, and expression. We didn’t sleep very much, worked from the morning all through the night and at times way beyond what’s healthy. But what can you do when you have a burning love?

Tell me about writing “Gallow’s Omen.” So much of the record has a tighter feel to its songwriting, but that song seems to jam a bit more. How did it come about? It was the first video you made for the album. What made you want to introduce people to the record with that track particularly?

Well, actually that is very carefully planned dynamics and tones… But I’m happy if it sounds loose in a way. It’s hard to plan how to lose control or let dreams and nightmares flow; that is part of what we wanted especially in the final part of the song. We felt it represented some general themes of the new record: a sinister feeling, a blend of faster and slow parts, loads of atmosphere, and it tends to get stuck in your head. At least that’s what I think it was now, looking back.

Has there been any word on recovering the gear stolen at the Northern Discomfort Festival? What happened there?

Unfortunately not! We don’t really know what happened. Our gear was in a room behind the stage, and although it is not locked, I usually recommend touring bands stashing their gear there when the sound room itself is full – nothing has been taken from there in years, at least to my knowledge. So either someone accidentally brought the things with them, or some shady entrepreneur visited the festival sometime in the early hours of after-party and saw their chance to score some neatly packed, expensive gear. Ungdomshuset is not normally a place where people go to steal, so it’s a shame that people are exploiting good DIY policy of open doors and anarchic trust…

You’ve now got your own Demon Head Thunder on the Fields IPA beer. How did that come about? Did someone in the band brew it or is it an outside collaboration? How does it taste? Are you guys big beer drinkers generally?

That’s right! At least we had some for the release shows. Now they’re mostly gone. That’s the work of Birk, Thor and their father, who’ve recently taken up brewing. So a family business, one might say. It’s awfully good, bitter and fresh – shame they’re through… A good portion were sold, the others we’ve given away to friends who’ve helped us on the road or bringing this album come to life. We appreciate good beer since it’s one of our few vices in terms of drugs.

You had dates in Finland and May and by the time this goes up, you’ll have played Muskelrock as well. Will you tour more for Thunder on the Fields before you start writing the next album? Any other plans or closing words you want to mention?

Yes, this spring has been excellent in Sweden, Finland and now Muskelrock this last weekend. We are once again humbled by the efforts and generosity of friends and strangers…

In August, we will travel Northern Europe for two weeks, invited to a couple of festivals and joined some of the road by the incredible musical entity that is Ill Wicker from Gothenburg. Keep an eye out if you’re somewhere around the Swedish desert and a forest on the German-Czech border!

Some plans for crossing waters to the UK, Ireland, and even across the Pacific are being hatched. Get in touch if you have some ideas, or let your local booking collective know…

Songs for what will be the next album are slowly coming. We’ve been so busy these months that it has been hard to find time to be really creative. Nonetheless, we do our best to prioritise it, and we can’t wait to disappear to a cabin somewhere again.

Finally there’s not much more to say than we appreciate you, the reader, taking your time to spell through these words. Oh, and there is one more piece of vinyl with some songs coming this year on The Sign Records. Keep your ears to the ground for more rumours on that.

Love and Thunder,

Marcus & D.H.

Demon Head, Thunder on the Fields (2017)

Demon Head on Thee Facebooks

The Sign Records on Thee Facebooks

Caligari Records webstore

Freight Train mailorder

Tags: , , , , , ,

Baby Woodrose Post “Reality” Video Filmed at Roskilde Festival

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 5th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

baby-woodrose-Photo-Magnus-Cederlund.jpg

Considering Roskilde Festival 2017 only ended on July 1 and Danish heavy psych magnates Baby Woodrose performed that same day, it seems fair enough to call their new video fast-tracked. The clip features the song ‘Reality,’ which provided an otherworldly opening to 2016’s Freedom (review here), the band’s seventh album, released by Bad Afro Records. It was shot on multiple cameras and fluidly edited by Palle Demant, whose experience with the band includes a documentary about frontman Lorenzo Woodrose and recent videos for “21st Century Slave” (posted here) and “Open Doors” (review here), the latter of which served as the leadoff single and foreshadowed the expanded-consciousness perspective that would unfold across the record upon its arrival.

“Reality,” for its part, gets to the core of what Baby Woodrose are saying with Freedom. Their position is inherently sociopolitical, and one can hear shades of that critique even in the hook here — it’s “your” concept of reality in which Lorenzo and company refuse to believe — but there’s no taking them away from their roots in lysergic garage rock, and part of the charm of “Reality” becomes the fact that, even as it tackles issues of a mundane modernity, it sounds utterly out of place and time. Unreal, in other words. This duality shows itself too in the play between grounded structures and head-trip effects throughout Freedom, but the quality of Baby Woodrose‘s songwriting is unflinching, and as the album’s launch-point, “Reality” effectively conveys that as well.

Their Roskilde set apparently found them bathed in tripped out lighting helmed by Zeppo, and to say the least it’s a fitting setting for the song, but Demant also offers some backstage footage and scenes from the audience to give even more of a sense of the show itself. All the more impressive considering — again — it’s been less than a week since the festival actually took place. That might be a record turnaround on something that looks so outwardly professional. I’d have to go back and check the logs.

Note: there are no logs.

Point is, admirable job done by band and director. Enjoy “Reality” below:

Baby Woodrose, “Reality” official live video

Reality is taken from the Baby Woodrose album Freedom released in September 2016 on Bad Afro Records.

Shot and cut by Palle Demant // Fuzz Cake Film
Mind bending visuals by Zeppo

Reality is the first song on the Freedom album and it now has a live video. Footage is from 3 days ago when the band played at the Roskilde Festival. The video is filmed by Palle Demant who also did the Lorenzo Woodrose documentary called Born To Lose.

Freedom is the 7th album by Baby Woodrose and it was released more than four years after the previous album Third Eye Surgery came out in 2012. In the meantime Lorenzo has been busy with his other band Spids Nøgenhat who gained a lot of popularity in Denmark and won two Danish Grammies for the album “Kommer Med Fred”. Best rock album of the year and Best live band of the year.

Lorenzo Woodrose documentary on Thee Facebooks

Baby Woodrose on Thee Facebooks

Freedom at Bad Afro Records’ Bandcamp

Bad Afro Records website

Tags: , , , , ,

Demon Head, Thunder on the Fields: Ventum Procellarum

Posted in Reviews on May 29th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

demon-head-thunder-on-the-fields

A central question posed by Demon Head‘s second full-length, Thunder on the Fields, is whether or not a band can still capture sonic lethargy while coming across as energetic and excited at the prospect of doing so. The Copenhagen-based five-piece — comprised of the all-initials lineup of vocalist M.F.L., guitarists B.G.N. and T.G.N., bassist M.S.F. and drummer J.W. — of course answer in the affirmative, and on the seven-track/40-minute follow-up to their 2015 debut, Ride the Wilderness (review here), they set themselves to the task of proving this hypothesis in briskly executed, semi-vintage-style heavy doom rock that’s proto-metallic in its central influence but by no means trying to pretend the last five decades of genre development never happened.

Released through Caligari Records on tape and The Sign Records on CD/LP, Thunder on the Fields also reaffirms a key proposition laid forth by its predecessor — namely that Demon Head know precisely where they want to be in terms of aesthetics. The Danish-lyric opener “Menneskeæderen” (translates to “cannibal”) and the later, push-minded “Hic Svnt Dracones” (video posted here) pair up as leadoffs for a classically-constructed side A/B LP or tape, and in their propensity for rolling grooves, for moody, low-register vocal melodies and for interplay between swing and rhythmic bounce, Demon Head make a convincing argument for vibrancy in languid execution. If Thunder on the Fields wasn’t actually recorded live — and I don’t know that it was or wasn’t, though they apparently locked themselves in a cabin and went direct to tape — it comes close enough to capturing that feel, and if the question is can a band sound like a downer without actually being one, Demon Head confirm a resounding yes.

Those who took on the debut — and if you didn’t, I suspect after digging into Thunder on the Fields, you might be tempted to go back and do so — will be relieved to note the persistence of that natural vibe, and with the opening thrust of “Menneskeæderen,” which winds its leads over crashing rhythm tracks between its chorus and verses, and into the lumbering start of “We are Burning” that leads to a tense interplay of guitar noodling and jagged, angular percussive stomp, Demon Head are doing little to hide it. Thunder on the Fields, ultimately, is less about fixing what isn’t broken than taking what the band was able to accomplish their last time out and moving ahead with its development. A pretty common narrative, but justified in the progression they show in their songwriting and in the momentum they manage to conjure, regardless of pace.

demon head photo lalla oledal

The title-track, which follows “We are Burning,” is a highlight both in terms of its own hook and the flow already set up by the cuts surrounding, and no doubt youth is still a part of the equation when it comes to Demon Head — there’s a certain burgeoning maturity of approach, but they’re still a young band and that’s how they come across — but on the basic level of their construction and willingness to shift themselves from nodding doom to the jangly strum of “We are Burning” within the span of a measure, they demonstrate the ability to hold the reins on a sense of chaos in their execution that can only be the result of a band actively working to become stronger in their presentation. Sorry, but it just wouldn’t work otherwise. And likewise, the slower title-cut, which is still just four minutes long, drives knowingly toward a righteous apex and tracklist centerpiece “Older Now” revives a grim boogie that seems by the end of its own four-minute run to have made efforts to tear itself apart, only to find a firm, steady foundation in the layer beneath.

A tolling bell, acoustic plucking and some longer runtimes signal a clear difference in intent for Thunder on the Fields‘ side B, but the overarching atmosphere remains largely consistent between the record’s two halves, and as “Hic Svnt Dracones” gets underway, it further notes how far Demon Head have come in the three short years since their Demo 2014 (review here) and the Demon Head b/w Winterland (review here) found them worshiping at the altar of Pentagram and how much they’ve been able to craft their own sonic footprint in that time. “Hic Svnt Dracones” is full of motion once it kicks in from that intro, but winds up in a patient place behind its soulful post-midpoint solo, and in picking up tempo again just before its end, it reinforces its own structure and sets up the drawn-out standalone riff that starts “Gallow’s Omen” (video posted here) as all the more of a focal point. There’s still the nine-minute closer “Untune the Sky” behind it, so I wouldn’t necessarily call “Gallow’s Omen” the most sprawling inclusion, but being jammier on the whole makes it all the more distinct in its surroundings, as Demon Head seem to find a balance between the more taut execution of cuts like “Older Now” and more open-feeling methods.

One might expect “Untune the Sky” to further let loose in this regard, but the finale is defined by its plotted course, sleeking through early verses toward an acoustic-inclusive midsection en route to a classic-rocking shuffle of a crescendo and comedown that remains vibrant thanks in large part to the memorable guitar work, lead and rhythm. The guitars have been a major component of the album’s success all along, so it’s only fitting the final statement should underscore the point. They do so fluidly, and Demon Head cap their second outing with one more affirmation of the vitality that has become one of their core appeals along with their depth of tone and varied songcraft, as well as the impression that their growth is in progress and the steps they’ve taken with Thunder on the Fields will continue to lead them forward into whatever they might do next.

Demon Head, Thunder on the Fields (2017)

Demon Head on Thee Facebooks

The Sign Records on Thee Facebooks

Caligari Records webstore

Freight Train mailorder

Tags: , , , , , ,

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

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Causa Sui, Live in Copenhagen: Flight from Ground

Posted in Reviews on May 9th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

causa-sui-live-in-copenhagen

The three-word title of Causa Sui‘s Live in Copenhagen, while accurate, hardly conveys the true scope of what’s contained on the release. One expects a certain amount of breadth from the Danish heavy psych masters at this point, especially after their last couple studio offerings, 2013’s Euporie Tide and 2016’s Return to Sky (review here), but across three discs, a span of three years and a total runtime of nearly three hours — two hours and 40 minutes, anyhow — Live in Copenhagen finds Causa Sui at their most exploratory on stage. 2014’s Live at Freak Valley (review here) might be considered a precursor, but even that collection didn’t bring in the temporal dimension the way Live in Copenhagen does, feeling more like a compendium as it captures the release shows for both Euporie Tide at Dragens Hule and Return to Sky at Jazzhouse.

Presented via their own El Paraiso Records as a limited 3LP box set, Live in Copenhagen then is more of an audio documentary than a a standard from-the-stage offering, and both the quality of the recordings — mic’ed, mixed and mastered by the band’s own guitarist Jonas Munk — guest spots from Papir guitarist Nicklas Sørensen and saxophonist Johan Riedenlow (who appears at both shows), a cover of Agitation Free and a 17-minute take on/homage to John Coltrane‘s “A Love Supreme” to close out the Dragens Hule set only further the there’s-something-special-happening-here vibe of the included material, and so there truly seems to be. As someone who’s never had the pleasure of watching Causa Sui perform on stage, Live in Copenhagen obviously brings forth more than the standard show would, but nonetheless offers an immersive representation of their range, chemistry and flow.

No second is wasted in demonstrating precisely those aspects as the Dragons Hule set — which comprises the first two of the three platters of the release — begins with a 13-minute rendition of Euporie Tide closer “Eternal Flow.” Causa Sui immediately signal their will to use their studio material as a launch point rather than something to be directly emulated, and so they vibe their way through that song and all that follows, whether it’s the subsequent “El Paraiso” from their 2005 self-titled debut (released by Nasoni), the drift-into-noise-wash-into-drift-into-noise-wash of “Mireille” or the 15-minute megajam “Portixeddu / Tropic of Capricorn,” which brings forth Riedenlow‘s sax for a first appearance. Ideas are fluidly engaged and followed, and while one might expect that, at a release show, they’d play what was then the new album front-to-back or at least in full, only “Eternal Flow,” “Mireille,” “Homage” and “Euporie” represent Euporie Tide, as the band’s interests clearly lie in pursuing something greater than promoting a single release.

Can’t fault them the outcome, and as Munk, drummer Jakob Skøtt, keyboardist Rasmus Rasmussen and bassist Jess Kahr bring out Sørensen and Riedenlow throughout the proceedings, they lose nothing of the blissful atmosphere they’re able to harness on their own. In fact, it’s “Portixeddu / Tropic of Capricorn” and the subsequent dreamscape of Agitation Free‘s “First Communication” that finds them at their most dug in, though I won’t take anything away from the funked-up fusion experimentalism of “A Love Supreme” either — parts of it work, parts seem like they’re about to dismantle themselves; that’s the point of the song — but as they go, they keep a steady balance through the relatively grounded “Homage” and the Summer Sessions roller “Red Valley” leading into “Euporie” and the aforementioned Coltrane classic. By the time they’ve gotten there and are rounding out the Dragons Hule set en route to the Jazzhouse, it’s little wonder they started out with “Eternal Flow” what already seems like eons and light-years ago; that track would seem to be a mission statement as much as hypnotic beginning to a spellbinding psychedelic convocation. Or, to be blunt about it: one hell of a show.

A couple years later sees Causa Sui and Riedenlow back on stage together, this time at the Jazzhouse, to mark the arrival of Return to Sky. No minor occasion, as that record could easily be argued as the band’s most stylistically expansive to-date, as though they brought the jazz-minded twists of “A Love Supreme” to their own next batch of material. I suspect the venue they chose for the release show isn’t a coincidence either, and as the setlist is a little more representative of the most recent work, with “The Source, “Dawn Passage” and “Mondo Buzzo” included along with Summer Sessions pieces “Rip Tide” and “Eugenie” before they close with “Ju-Ju Blues” from Euporie Tide, the feeling is a little more forward in its intent than it had been at Dragons Hule. Pieces on the whole shorter individually though still marked as Causa Sui‘s own thanks to the significant flow conjured throughout, and wherever they head, the care they put into their execution comes through without taking away from the naturalism on which their style is built.

To wit, they’re no less at home in the full-on fuzz push of “The Source” than they are in the patient and otherworldly progressive nuance of “Dawn Passage,” and while the Jazzhouse set is less expansive time-wise than Dragons Hule at 57 minutes, the approach that Causa Sui bring to the second of the two included shows here is all the more sure-headed for the years that have passed since the prior release gig. Similar to the jump from one album to the next, the jump from one show to the next on this release sees them become a more established and mature outfit. One could easily make the argument that going into Euporie Tide, the four-piece were well in control of their direction — and I’d definitely agree with that — but Return to Sky found them even more so making conscious decisions on how to expand their palette, and the ease with which Riedenlow slides his sax lines into “Eugenie” at the Jazzhouse reaffirms the success of these efforts. To once again be blunt about it: another hell of a show. Perhaps even more so than its predecessor for how vital and engaged the band sounds in the work they’re doing.

After more than two and a half hours’ worth of live Causa Sui, frankly, the thought of more seems needlessly greedy. Still, there’s a part of me that can’t help but wonder how they’ll sound at the release show for their next studio offering. There’s no date set for another release or anything, and I’d think it’s probably more likely they’ll dig into a collaboration or a jam-type outing before they actually get there — following this or that exploratory whim as they’re prone to do — but whenever they get there, how the progressive arc one can trace from Dragons Hule to the Jazzhouse might continue to flourish along what seems to be a developmental trajectory no less palpable than that from one full-length to the following. I wouldn’t speculate as to whether or not they’ll commit to the notion of putting out a corresponding live album for whatever release show they end up next playing, if they do one at all — we live in a universe of infinite possibilities — but between the laughable understatement that Live in Copenhagen‘s title highlights and the expanses contained within the release itself, it’s difficult to hear Causa Sui sound so manifest, so realized as a group, and not still think of the potential they have going forward.

Causa Sui on Thee Facebooks

El Paraiso Records on Thee Facebooks

El Paraiso Records on Twitter

El Paraiso Records website

Tags: , , , , ,

Review & Full Album Stream: Mythic Sunship, Land Between Rivers

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on April 28th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

mythic sunship land between rivers

[Click play above to stream Mythic Sunship’s Land Between Rivers in its entirety. Album is out today on El Paraiso Records.]

It hasn’t quite been a year since Copenhagen four-piece Mythic Sunship made their debut on El Paraiso Records with the three-song full-length Ouroboros, but that album receives a quick follow-up in the next three-cut installment from the heavy psych rockers. Titled Land Between Rivers, it both expands and contracts the ideas and notions the instrumentalists put forth last time out, adding time to jams here, trimming it there — the whole offering is shorter by about 10 minutes, if you’re counting — but showing a burgeoning conceptual grasp of immersing their listeners in tonal depth and overarching sonic sprawl.

The band — Emil Thorenfeldt, F. E. Denning, Kasper Stougaard Andersen, Rasmus Cleve Christensen — reportedly recorded “Nishapur” (15:31), “High Tide” (13:16) and “Silt” (6:19) in a kind of remote cabin in central Denmark, and with a mix by Jonas Munk of Causa Sui, the group who also helm El Paraiso and artwork to fit the imprint’s long-running aesthetic vision, it presents a cohesive take in sound, atmosphere and flow while asking little of its audience in terms of self-indulgence. An exploratory vibe feels genuine — that is, when Mythic Sunship dig into a jam like that on “Nishapur,” the really dig into it — and with a complementary thickness of low end to act as a grounding force, guitars roam freely in airy post-rock howls and sunburnt krautrock progressivism. They’re not reinventing the wheel as regards heavy psychedelic transcendence, but Mythic Sunship are clearly doing the work of developing a sonic persona through these jams, and the bouts of cacophony that emerge in the meantime like that nine minutes into the opener or at the swirling apex of “High Tide” excite with the dynamic taking shape.

They earn immediate points for launching this spacecraft with “Nishapur,” the longest track clearly intended to comprise the whole of the vinyl’s side A, and of course stretched out enough to be successful in that. Resonance is the first notion proposed on Land Between Rivers, with two guitars intertwining, one unfurling patient strum and the other a humming drone of sweet-toned feedback that shifts into sweetened noodling by the time the first minute has passed. Mindset: accomplished. One thing Mythic Sunship do really well is put the listener at ease and carry them along the record’s course. A graceful flow helps that — it’s not like they’re playing math rock or something so purposefully jagged-sounding — but even so, “Nishapur” presents as a particularly hypnotic effort, with the drums subtly entering at around 2:30 on soft tom hits beneath the guitars and bass.

mythic sunship (Photo-by-Trine-Pihl-Stanley)

They’re building, of course, and low end brings a bit of foreboding to the atmosphere, but they’re past the five-minute mark before things quiet down enough to let the listener know just how far the band has brought them. “Nishapur” enters its next movement over that steady current of drums and nods into a languid groove past its halfway point, shifting ultra-fluidly into a wash of noise that stretches about as far out as Mythic Sunship go on the record — a move that makes positioning the extended track as the leadoff seem even more bold. In a telling show of purpose, they bring the madness down gradually, one measure at a time, and in the last couple minutes seem to find a middle ground that could just as easily push toward another apex instead of crashing out as it does. Maybe the tape was running out? Whatever their reason, it wouldn’t be fair to say “Nishapur” feels cut short, but no question that had they decided to keep pursuing whatever it is they’re after in the song, the momentum is there.

Instead, they let that momentum shift into “High Tide” at the start of side B. Clearly intended to be complemented by the subsequent closer “Silt,” “High Tide” earns its watery title with a due sense of drift, a serenity resulting in the early motion of the guitar that calls to mind some of what Yawning Sons were able to affect on their Ceremony to the Sunset outing before the drums kick in to add more of a push and progadelic atmosphere amid the increasingly winding central progression. West Coast-style heavy psych boogie? Not quite, but not far off. Ultimately, Mythic Sunship‘s tones are fuller and less concerned with vintage ’70s-isms, and as “High Tide” moves through its first half, it opens from this build into a post-rock flow that meets with more proggy chug, spaces out even further moving past the halfway point and finding itself in a more patient linearity the second time around. That is, the shimmering guitar, forward drum push and lower-end rumble don’t strike quite as manic in the back end of the song as in the front, and as “High Tide” oozes toward its second apex, it does so more in a manner keeping with the prior “Nishapur” than in its own first half. Not going to complain either way.

After hitting its peak, “High Tide” recedes and “Silt” is what remains, some feedback leading into a full-breadth wash and thrust of fuzz and immersive tonal reach, as though the band wanted to prove as they rounded out the album that they didn’t need to cross the 10-minute mark to entrance their listenership if they didn’t want to do so. Point taken. Because they’re instrumental and because they create so much space in their sound, there’s room for growth in Mythic Sunship‘s methods in terms of playing more toward an experimentalism of arrangement — keys, percussion, strings, etc. — or even just varying tones in their material, but that’s not to say Land Between Rivers is missing anything, because simply, it isn’t. In its atmosphere and in the poise of its execution, it basks in the organic chemistry between Thorenfeldt, Denning, Andersen and Christensen, and that proves to be more than enough to transport them and their audience through these engaging and consuming jams. May they continue to develop on this path, and if they want to get a little weird along the way, that’s fine too.

Mythic Sunship on Thee Facebooks

Mythic Sunship at El Paraiso Records

El Paraiso Records on Thee Facebooks

Tags: , , , , ,

Review & Full Album Stream: The Sonic Dawn, Into the Long Night

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on April 14th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the sonic dawn into the long night

[Click play above to stream The Sonic Dawn’s Into the Long Night in full. Album is out April 21 on Heavy Psych Sounds.]

As a title, Into the Long Night might well stem from the circumstances under which the album was recorded. The second full-length from Danish psychedelic rockers The Sonic Dawn and their debut on Heavy Psych Sounds, the nine-track/36-minute offering follows 2015’s Perception (review here), which was released by Nasoni, and was reportedly written by day and tracked during the evening over the course of a month in an isolated house somewhere by the North Sea. Sounds like a nice vacation, and whatever the circumstances of its making, it’s easy enough to read a sense of isolation into the traditional psych-pop-rock elicited by guitarist/vocalist/sitarist Emil Bureau, bassist Niels Bird and drummer/percussionist Jonas Waaben, however welcoming some of their hooks might feel and however warm their tonality — bolstered throughout by guest Hammond work from Erik “Errka” Petersson (Siena Root) and solo vibraphonist Morten Grønvad — might otherwise be.

It’s a deceptively complex front-to-back trip, as The Sonic Dawn fluidly shift between late-’60s pop, mid-’70s fusion and more modern strains of retro-minded heavy, but in answering the potential of their debut, the three-piece craft a style of familiar elements that is immersive and decidedly their own, relying on a jazzy sensibility in Waaben‘s drumming that on a given track might pull them into Doors-style chaos, as with “Numbers Blue,” or propel a howling psych/kraut exploration like the earlier “On the Shore.” Wherever they go in this expression of varied influences, The Sonic Dawn hold fast to their own stylistic voice, resulting in a palpable spirit of progressiveness that never gets lost in its own meanderings.

That’s not to say it doesn’t meander. Indeed, that becomes part of the appeal. Beginning with a not-sure-it’s-necessary 33-second “Intro” wash of keys and psychedelic vocal melody before the clean guitar line of “Emily Lemon” gently unfolds the first of Into the Long Night‘s friendly, groovy impressions, the vibe is one that lets BureauBird and Waaben go where they will and they take full advantage with an underlying sense of glee. The opener, such as it is, “Emily Lemon” shifts into guitar soundscaping to close, leading to the jazzier bounce and further atmospheric drift of the aforementioned “On the Shore,” but even when they freak out, which they do a bit on the subsequent organ-laced rocker “As of Lately” — prime fodder for a lost 45 from ’66 and, “Intro” aside, the shortest inclusion at 2:45 — they keep firm control of their direction. Of course, this has its ups and downs, as there are moments where a listener might want them to let loose a bit, but as they round out side A with the longer “Six Seven” (5:07), the prevailing spirit is one of being consciously driven, and that holds true for the preceding three-plus cuts and the four still to come on side B as well.

the sonic dawn

The good news is it works for The Sonic Dawn, because they prove to be strong enough in their songwriting to stand up to the demands of the diverse sound they want to create, but even if they’re the ones making their own rules, they’re also the ones playing by them. Even as “Six Seven” moves into the apex of its key-and-flute-inclusive build, having departed at about four minutes in to an insistent and noisy section of free-jazz thrust, the drums still hold a steady beat beneath, and there’s never any danger of the track flying apart as it almost seems like it wants to do. They fade it out at the end and I can’t help but wonder if they might’ve been more duly served leaving the collapse of that jam intact for the listener to be a part of; a warts-and-all moment to share with the band that could only further the honesty of presentation so prevalent in these tracks.

In any case, they proceed onward with side B opener “Numbers Blue,” an upbeat guitar-led figure that would seem to put the pieces of “As of Lately” and “Six Seven” together into a progressive rocker that’s marked out by Waaben‘s tom work no less than the intermittent surges of Hammond or the guitar swirl that emerges in its second half. Here they begin to let go of the reins a bit, but it’s still a quick flash and then gone en route to the three-minute “Lights Left On,” a quiet guitar-key-vocal excursion that effectively showcases Bureau‘s singing, fragile but controlled, and revives the jazzy pulse of “On the Shore” in a fittingly subtle and complementary fashion. Here neither does one find The Sonic Dawn overstaying their welcome. They touch on these ideas, stop in for a quick expression of them, and get out. The exception to that might be seven-minute closer “Summer Voyage,” which is led into by the flowing psych-gaze of “L’Espion” — an execution of two organ-topped builds over the course of four minutes that still has time for backwards echoing at the finish; efficiency! — though with the inclusion of sitar from Bureau and the wandering mood of its ending jam, they’re frankly welcome to stay as long as they like as far as I’m concerned.

With hypnotic shoegaze guitar, background vocals and the sitar included as flourish in such a way that only makes me want to hear more of it from them over the longer term, The Sonic Dawn round out Into the Long Night via the delivery of yet another clear message: that they’re not at all finished growing yet. Carrying outward on dreamy keys (vibraphone?) and guitar on an extended drift, “Summer Voyage” reaches its destination peacefully and evokes a serenity rarely conveyed so well in something that might still fall under the umbrella heading of “heavy.” For what it’s worth, The Sonic Dawn, while operating under their own conventions as far as mood and ambience go, seem less concerned with the structural bounds others might place on genre, and that’s something that already serves them well here and can only continue to as they further their lysergic adventurousness in the years to come. There are moments on Into the Long Night where one wonders how they manage to keep their wits about them, but much to their credit, The Sonic Dawn never waver from their central purpose in progressive and pastoral melodicism.

The Sonic Dawn on Thee Facebooks

The Sonic Dawn on Bandcamp

The Sonic Dawn website

Heavy Psych Sounds website

Heavy Psych Sounds on Thee Facebooks

Tags: , , , , ,

Doublestone Premiere “Solen Sover” Video; New Album out May 5

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 12th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

doublestone-Photo-by-Andreas-Krohn

Copenhagen heavy rock traditionalists Doublestone will make their debut on Ripple Music May 5 with the dually-titled Devil’s Own / Djævlen’s Egn. Their second album overall, it follows 2013’s Wingmakers (review here) and pursues a course of engaging, natural and spirited heavy ’10s vintage-ism, distinguished through its fluidity of rhythm, its organic feel, and of course by its two-language approach. Splitting its tracklisting in half between the acoustic-led “Devil’s Own” and the slower ’70s-chugging of “Djævlen’s Egn,” Doublestone bring structural and conceptual nuance to a record that — at least going by what I can glean from its English side A and translating the titles on side B — traffics in cultish thematics that should be familiar to those among the converted who’ve been exposed to the likes of Svartanatt or Demon Head in the post-Pentagram sphere of retro-minded doom rock.

There’s nothing wrong with that, of course — rock bands have been writing songs about the devil since before they were rock bands — and Devil’s Own / Djævlen’s Egn finds the Danish trio of guitarist/vocalist Bo Blond Daugaard, bassist/vocalist Kristian Blond Møller and drummer Michael James Bruun bringing a sense of persona to establish genre tenets throughout cuts like the six-minute “Man on the Hill,” which unfolds its lyrical narrative atop a blend of heavy psych and vinyl-ready guitar warmth, and the doublestone devil's ownpenultimate “Fuglene Kalder” (“birds call”), which moves into a call and response during its hook before a boogie rock guitar solo also gives Møller‘s bass a chance to shine, of which it takes full advantage. The scope of Devil’s Own / Djævlen’s Egn as a whole is in part defined by its linguistic swap at the halfway point, but no less so by the lack of pretense on display throughout its 37-minute span. Doublestone carve a niche for themselves within the style rather than make any grand claims about redefining it in their image, and their execution of these tracks lives up to that standard with an immersive flow and cohesive songcraft.

“Solen Sover” (“sun sleeps”) is the closer of Devil’s Own / Djævlen’s Egn, and its position as such reinforces much of what works — in English as well as in Danish — about the rest of the record before it. Beginning with a fluid low-end groove soon-enough topped with soulful guitar and complemented by an easy swing of ride cymbal as it leads to the first verse, it’s a classic rocker in form as well as presentation, with some vocal harmonies between Daugaard and Møller for good measure and a push in its second half to an uptempo apex that basks in a light touch of the psychedelic before rounding out with a raucous last turn through the hook.

In order to herald the album’s arrival, Doublestone have a live-in-studio video for “Solen Sover” that it’s my pleasure to premiere today. And in representing the record as a whole, the fact that it’s a live performance captured here also speaks volumes to the mission of the band, who minimize any sense of studio trickery in favor of an aesthetic as organisk as possible across the LP’s entire duration.

More PR wire info on Devil’s Own / Djævlen’s Egn follows the video below. Once again, it’s out May 5 on Ripple Music.

Please enjoy:

Doublestone, “Solen Sover” official video

Originally formed as a duo in 2011 in Copenhagen by long time friends Michael James Bruun and Bo Blond Daugaard, Doublestone later became the power-trio they are today with the arrival of Bo’s bass playing cousin, Kristian Blond Møller.

Following a brace of impressive releases in 2013 – Set The World Ablaze EP and their self-titled Doublestone – the “cult-boogie” trio joined forces with Mos Generator’s Tony Reed to record their first full-length, Wingmakers, in the basement of an old cheese factory in the heart of Copenhagen. Catapulting themselves onto the international stoner-rock scene Doublestone made sure to leave no rock unturned making an imposing foray into the realms of 70s-influenced hard rock, bewitching psychedelia and southern metal.

Now, in 2017 they are back and signed to one of the world’s leading specialists in Rock, Stoner, Doom and Heavy Psych; Ripple Music. Digging even deeper and going even further underground than ever before, their long awaited second album, Devils Own/Djævlens Egn, was produced and recorded by the band and Andreas Krohn at Wolf Ram Studios – a former World War II bunker – with Tony Reed on mastering duties.

Devil’s Own/Djævlens Egn is released worldwide on 5th May 2017 on vinyl, limited-edition/multi-colored vinyl, CD and digital via Ripple Music.

Doublestone on Thee Facebooks

Doublestone on Bandcamp

Doublestone website

Ripple Music on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music website

Tags: , , , , , , ,