Jonas Munk & Nicklas Sørensen to Release Always Already Here in August

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 4th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Alright, now you listen to me because I’m probably only going to say this seven or eight more times. You set some silly little alert on your phone or you sign up for an email list from El Paraiso Records or you do whatever you have to do, and when Jonas Munk & Nicklas Sørensen‘ debut collaborative album, Always Already Here, is back in for preorder, you get that order in and you make that happen, because it’s the only way they’re going to keep doing records together and FOR THE SAKE OF ALL HUMANITY, that is a thing we very much want. Munk, of course of Danish heavy prog-psych instrumentalists Causa Sui, and Sørensen, of countrymen expansive jammers Papir, have both done solo outings through El Paraiso in the past, and that’s super, but if you’re curious why I might be approaching this topic with such a measure of urgency, listen to the track “Shift” below. True, it’s only one song, and I’m sure it doesn’t necessarily speak to the character of the entire album, but god damn it, this is the kind of shit that when the aliens come to destroy our species because we wasted the planet, we’ll be able to point to and say, “Yeah, but some of us made this stuff,” and maybe, just maybe, get away unvaporized.

Release date is Aug. 16.

Make it so:

jonas munk nicklas sorensen always already here

Jonas Munk & Nicklas Sørensen: Always Already Here

We’re proud to announce this collaborative effort from Jonas Munk (Causa Sui) and Nicklas Sørensen (Papir), out August 16th! Read more and swim away in the 10 minute opening track here.

Jonas Munk and Nicklas Sørensen team up for a genre-defying record that explores American minimalism, psychedelia, and electronic music – both vintage and contemporary. On a foundation of interlocking guitar and synthesizer patterns, the duo constructs lengthy pieces that are experimental yet welcoming in nature, precisely executed yet with room for soaring improvisation.

Always Already Here pays homage to the masters of classical minimalism (Steve Reich, Terry Riley) and the pioneers of electronic music and kosmische (Brian Eno, Manuel Göttsching), still it doesn’t sound derivative or retrospective. The type of hypnotic bliss Munk and Sørensen strive for is distinctly timeless.

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Quarterly Review: Earth, Heilung, Thronehammer, Smear, Deadbird, Grass, Prana Crafter, Vago Sagrado, Gin Lady, Oven

Posted in Reviews on July 1st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

Deep breath. And… here we go.

Welcome to The Obelisk’s Summer 2019 Quarterly Review. You probably know the drill by now, but just in case, here’s what’s up: starting today and through next Monday, I’ll be reviewing 10 records per day for a total of 60. I’ve done this every three months (or so) for the better part of the last five years, each one with at least 50 releases included. Some are big bands, some are new bands, some are releases are new, some older. It’s a mix of styles and notoriety, and that’s exactly the intent. It’s a ton of stuff, but that’s also the intent, and the corresponding hope is that somewhere in all of it there’s something for everyone.

I’ll check in each day at the top with what usually turns out to be a “hot damn I’m exhausted, but this is worth it”-kind of update, but otherwise, if we’re all on board, let’s just get to it. First batch below, more to come.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Earth, Full Upon Her Burning Lips

earth

Finding post-Southern Lord refuge with Sargent House in similar fashion to Boris, Earth seem to act in direct response to 2014’s Primitive and Deadly (review here) with the 10-track/62-minute Full Upon Her Burning Lips, stripping their approach down to its two essential components: Dylan Carlson‘s guitar and Adrienne Davies‘ drums. The former adds bass as well, and the latter some off-kit percussion, but that’s about as far as they go in the extended meditation on their core modus — even the straightforward photo on the cover tells the story — psychedelic and brooding and still-spacious as the music is. Gone are folk strings or vocals, and so on, and instead, they foster immersion through not-quite minimalist nod and roll, Carlson‘s guitar soundscaping atop Davies‘ slow, steady pulse. It’s not nearly so novel as the last time out, but timed to the 30th anniversary of the band, it’s a reminder that if you like Earth, this dynamic is ultimately why.

Earth on Thee Facebooks

Sargent House website

 

Heilung, Futha

heilung futha

It might seem like an incongruity that something so based in traditionalism conceptually would also turn into experimentalist Viking jazz, but I defy you to hear “Galgadr,” the 10-minute opener of Heilung‘s third full-length, Futha (on Season of Mist), and call it something else. Cuts like the memorable and melodic “Norupo” and the would-be-techno-but-I-think-they’re-actually-just-beating-on-wood “Svanrand,” which, like “Vapnatak” before it, is rife with the sounds of battle, but it’s in the longer pieces, “Othan,” 14-minute closer “Hamrer Hippyer,” and even the eight-plus-minute “Elivgar” and “Elddansurin” that precede it, that Heilung‘s dramas really unfold. Led by the essential presence of vocalist Maria Franz — who could hardly be more suited to the stated theme of calling to feminine power — Heilung careen through folk and narrative and full cultural immersion across 73 minutes, and craft something willfully forward thinking from the history it embellishes.

Heilung on Thee Facebooks

Season of Mist website

 

Thronehammer, Usurper of the Oaken Throne

thronehammer usurper of the oaken throne

The reliable taste of Church Within Records strikes again in picking up Thronehammer‘s first full-length, Usurper of the Oaken Throne. The project is a dark and warmaking epic mega-doom working mostly in longform material — it’s six tracks/78 minutes, so yeah — conjured in collaboration by the trio of vocalist Kat Shevil Gillham (Lucifer’s Chalice, etc.), guitarist/keyboardist Stuart Bootsy West (ex-Obelyskkh, ex-The Walruz) and drummer/bassist Tim Schmidt (Seamount), that hits with a massive impact from 17-minute opener “Behind the Wall of Frost” into “Conquered and Erased” (11:24) and “Warhorn” (19:12), making for an opening salvo that’s a full-length unto itself and a beast of doomed grandeur that balances extremity with clearheaded presentation. They simplify the proceedings a bit for “Svarte Skyer” and the eponymous “Thronehammmer,” but are clearly in their element for the 15-minute closing title-track, which rounds out one of the best doom debuts I’ve heard so far this year with due heft and ceremony.

Thronehammer on Thee Facebooks

Church Within Records on Bandcamp

 

Smear, A Band Called Shmear

Smear A Band Called Shmear

Smear‘s live-recorded A Band Called Shmear EP is basically the equivalent of that dude getting dragged out of the outdoor concert for being at the bottom of the puffing clouds of smoke going, “Come on man, I’m not hurting anybody!” And by that I mean it’s awesome. The Eugene, Oregon, four-piece get down on some psychedelic reefer madness tapped into weirdo anti-genre tendencies that come to fruition in the verses of “Guns of Brixton” after the drifting freaker “Old Town.” The whole thing runs an extra-manageable 21 minutes, and six of that are dedicated to the fuzzed jam “Zombie” — tinged in its early going with a reggae groove — so Smear make it easy to follow their outward path, whether it’s the surf-with-no-water “Weigh” at the outset or “Quicksand,” which hints at more complex melodic tendencies almost in spite of itself. You like vibe, right? These cats have plenty to go around, and they deliver it with an absolute lack of pretense. Whatever they do next, I hope they also record it live, because it clearly works.

Smear on Thee Facebooks

Smear on Bandcamp

 

Deadbird, III: The Forest Within the Tree

deadbird iii the forest within the tree

One hesitates to speculate on the future of a band who’ve just taken 10 years to put out an album, but Deadbird sound vital on their awaited third full-length: III: The Forest Within the Tree (arrived late 2018 through 20 Buck Spin), and with a revamped lineup that includes Rwake vocalist Chris Terry and Rwake/The Obsessed bassist Reid Raley as well as bassist Jeff Morgan, guitarist Jay Minish and founders Phillip (drums) and Chuck (guitar) Schaaf and Alan Short — all of whom contribute vocals — Deadbird emerge from the ether with a stunningly cohesive and varied outing of post-sludge, tinged Southern in its humid tonality but still very much geared toward heft and, certainly more than I recall of their past work, melody. In just 38 minutes they push the listener into this dank world of their creation, and seem to find just as much release in experiments “11:34” and “Ending” as in the crashes of “Brought Low” or “Heyday.” Are they really back? Hell if I know, but these songs are enough to make me hope so.

Deadbird on Thee Facebooks

20 Buck Spin on Bandcamp

 

Grass, Fresh Grass

grass fresh grass

Brooklyn four-piece Grass released a live recording in 2017, but the late-2018 EP Fresh Grass marks their studio debut, and it comprises five tracks digging into the traditions of heavy rock with edges derived from the likes of Clutch, Orange Goblin, maybe a bit of Kyuss and modern bluesier practitioners as well in cuts like “Black Clouds” — the lone holdover from one release to the next — and the swaggering “Runaway,” which veers into vocal layering in its second half in a way that seems to portend things to come, while the centerpiece “Fire” and closer “Easy Rider” roll out in post=’70s fashion a kind of rawer modern take. Their sound is nascent, but there’s potential in their swing and the hook of opener “My Wall.” Fresh Grass is the band searching for their place within a heavy rock style. I hear nothing on it to make me think they won’t find it, and if they were opening the show, you’d probably want to show up early.

Grass on Thee Facebooks

Grass on Bandcamp

 

Prana Crafter, MindStreamBlessing

Prana Crafter MindStreamBlessing

Reissued on vinyl through Cardinal Fuzz with two bonus tracks, Prana Crafter‘s 2017 offering, MindStreamBlessing, originally saw release through Eidolon Records and finds the Washington-based solo artist Will Sol oozing through acid folk and psychedelic traditions, instrumentally constructing a shimmer that seems ready for the platter edition it’s been granted. Songs like “As the Weather Commands” and “Bardo Nectar” are experiments in their waves of meandering guitar, effects and keys, while “Mycellial Morphohum” adapts cosmic ecology to minimal spaciousness and vague spoken word. Some part of me misses vocals in the earthy “FingersFlowThroughOldSkolRiver,” but that might just also be the part of me that’s hearing Lamp of the Universe or Six Organs of Admittance influences. The interwoven layers of “Prajna Pines,” on the other hand, seem fine without; bluesy as the lead guitar line is, there’s no doubting the song’s expressive delivery, though one could easily say the same of the krautrock loops and keys and reverb-drenched solo of “Luminous Clouds.”

Prana Crafter on Thee Facebooks

Cardinal Fuzz webstore

 

Vago Sagrado, Vol. III

vago sagrado vol iii

Heavy post-rockers Vago Sagrado set a peaceful atmosphere with “K is Kool,” the opening track of their third album, Vol. III, that is hard to resist. They’ll soon enough pump in contrast via the foreboding low end of “La Pieza Oscura,” but the feeling of purposeful drift in the guitar remains resonant, even as the drums and vocals take on a kind of punkish feel. The mix is one that the Chilean three-piece seem to delight in, reveling in tonal adventurousness in the quiet/loud tradeoff of “Fire (In Your Head)” and the New Wave shuffle of “Sundown” before “Centinela” kicks off side B with the kind of groove that Queens of the Stone Age fans have been missing for the last 15 years. Things get far out in “Listen & Obey,” but Vago Sagrado never completely lose their sense of direction, and that only makes the proceedings more engaging as the hypnotic “One More Time with Feeling” leads into the nine-minute closer “Mekong,” wherein the wash teased all along comes to fruition.

Vago Sagrado on Thee Facebooks

Vago Sagrado on Bandcamp

 

Gin Lady, Tall Sun Crooked Moon

gin lady tall sun crooked moon

I’m more than happy to credit Sweden’s Gin Lady for the gorgeous ’70s country rock harmonies that emanate from their fourth album, Tall Sun Crooked Moon (on Kozmik Artifactz), from the mission-statement opener “Everyone is Love” onward, but I think it’s also worth highlighting that the 10-track outing also features the warmest snare drum sound I’ve heard maybe since the self-titled Kadavar LP. The Swedish four-piece have nailed their sound down to that level of detail, and as they touch on twang boogie in “Always Gold” or find bluesy Abbey Roadian deliverance in the more riff-led chorus of “Gentle Bird,” their aesthetic is palpable but does not trump the straight-ahead appeal of their songwriting. The closing duo of “The Rock We All Push” and the piano-soother “Tell it Like it Is” are the only two tracks to push past five minutes long, but by then the mood is well set and if they wanted to keep going, I have a hard time imagining they’d meet with complaints. Serenity abounds.

Gin Lady on Thee Facebooks

Kozmik Artifactz website

 

Oven, Couch Lock

oven couch lock

For an EP called Couch Lock — i.e., when you’re too stoned to even stand up — there’s an awful lot of movement on Oven‘s debut release, from the punk thrust of “Get It” to the arrogant sleaze of “Go James” and even the drums in “This Time.” And the nine-minute “Dark Matter” is basically space rock, so yeah, hardly locked to the couch there, but okay. The five-tracker is raw in its production as would seem to suit the Pennsylvania trio, but they still get their point across in terms of attitude, and a closing cover of Nebula‘s “To the Center” seems only to reinforce the notion. One imagines that any basement where they unleash that and the nod that culminates “Dark Matter” just before it would have to be professionally dehumidified afterward to get the dankness out, and an overarching sense of stoner shenanigans only adds to the good times that so much of East Coast-ish psych misses the point on. They’re having fun. You should too.

Oven on Bandcamp

Oven on Thee Facebooks

 

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Uffe Lorenzen Announces Fall Tour Dates Supporting Triprapport

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 27th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

I’m wrong about all kinds of shit, pretty much all the time, but I’m right about how good Uffe Lorenzen‘s second solo record, Triprapport (review here), is. Issued by Bad Afro Records, which has also long stood behind releases for Lorenzen‘s main outfit, Baby Woodrose, as well as Dragontears, Spids Nøgenhat, etc., it takes psychedelic folk and garage rock and melts them both down to find a signature character not only derived from but adding to them. There are few people I’m willing to believe were as genuinely upset as Lorenzen might’ve been at the recent passing of Roky Erickson, let me put it that way.

Most of the shows are in Denmark, but pardon me if I take the announcement of this barrage of shows — mostly in three-date increments, but some not — as an excuse to post the Bandcamp stream of the album again and encourage you to dig into it. If you’re interested — and you should be, damnit — the documentary film Born to Lose (review coming soon) about Lorenzen is also out on DVD/streaming now.

Here are the dates:

uffe lorenzen tour

In September my Tålt Ophold Tour 2019. It will be once again a walk around Denmark (and a few go to Norway) only armed with 12-string guitar, my travel card, my own Danish songs and a handful of good stories from A slightly unusual living life. You can see the whole turplanen on this flyer that you would love to share and tag your friends in the comments so I can sell some tickets.

Uffe Lorenzen – Tålt Ophold Tour 2019
05.09 Bygingen Vejle
06.09 Dexter Odense
07.09 Paletten Viborg
12.09 Baltoppen Ballerup
13.09 Støberiallen Hillerod
14.09 Gimle Roskilde
19.09 Stars Vordingborg
20.09 Sonderborghus Sonderborg
21.09 Templet Lyngby
26.09 Tøjhuset Fredericia
27.09 Glumsø Biograf Og Kulturhus Glumsø
28.09 Kulisselageret Horsens
03.10 Kunsthal6100 Haderslev
04.10 Studenterhuset Aalborg
05.10 Hanstholm Madbar Thy
10.10 John Dee Oslo
11.10 Statsraaden Bergen
12.10 Folken Akvariet Stavanger
17.10 Radar Aarhus
20.10 Hotel Cecil København (sold out)
25.10 KulturCosmos Viby Sjaelland
26.10 Harder Svendborg
27.10 Hotel Cecil København
31.10 Boxer Trondheim
01.11 Blå Rock Tromsø

My latest album triprapport can still be streaming, downloaded and purchased from these links:

Digital: https://badafro.lnk.to/UffeLorenzen-Album
Bandcamp: https://badafrorecords.bandcamp.com/album/triprapport

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Uffe Lorenzen, Triprapport (2019)

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Review & Track Premiere: Uffe Lorenzen, Triprapport

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on May 7th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Uffe Lorenzen Triprapport

[Click play above to stream the premiere of Uffe Lorenzen’s ‘Psykonauten’ from the album Triprapport, out May 10 on Bad Afro Records.]

Is it really any surprise that Uffe Lorenzen would produce headphone-ready acid folk of the highest caliber? It probably shouldn’t be. The Baby Woodrose frontman, also known as Lorenzo Woodrose, has been proffering psychedelic garage and heavy rock with that outfit for the last 18 years, and his 2017 solo debut, Galmandsværk (review here), was a likewise-directed lysergic journey. Triprapport, recorded and mixed analog, is a more than worthy follow-up to that also-released-by-BadAfro first offering, with its eight songs written in a short period of time during a mushroom binge off in a cabin someplace in Lorenzen‘s native Denmark. The album’s title, Triprapport, might indeed be taken as a report about that trip, and of course, “trip” is the operative word. Across 36 occasionally-sitar-laced minutes Lorenzen builds layers of acoustic and electric guitar, percussion, and echoing vocals to a sensibility that is at once reminiscent of the debut and steadier in its approach.

The mellotron dream of “Angakkoq” and the subtly percussive, semi-spoken “Alting Er Eet” are both likewise assured, and even on the extra spacious “Aldrig Mere Ned,” in which Lorenzen‘s strumming seems to ring out like the Milky Way cutting the night sky in half amid a mounting wall of electrified fuzz, there’s a willfulness to the proceedings that speaks to the consciousness behind all that mind expansion. The narrative of the album’s construction — guy goes into the woods, eats mushrooms, writes songs — does precious little to convey the level of craft or detail that Lorenzen brings to his work, but perhaps it’s best left to the songs to explain themselves, as with the closing Hans Vinding (Furekåben) cover “Hallo Hallo Frøken,” taking the ’70s folk vibe and peppering it with drifting notes of effects-laced lap steel (provided by Peter Knudsen), or even the countdown-to-launch that happens about halfway into opener “Psykonauten” atop a engine ignition of low-end buzz. Lorenzen may not be a stranger to the forms in which he works, but his mastery thereof is what makes Triprapport a voyage worth undertaking.

The launch that ensues there in a scorching, multi-layered electric lead is about as appropriate a beginning point as Lorenzen could give Triprapport, and what follows is due otherworldliness both in that song and “Alting Er Eet,” which follows in linear fashion seemingly headed on a direct course toward “far out,” synth and delay guitar intertwining in dramatic fashion in the midpoint break before Lorenzen starts a call and response to his own melody and the synth swells again. The title-track is indicative of some of the more garage-feeling rhythms Triprapport has on offer. “Alting Er Eet” and “Psykonauten” both certainly have movement — the opener punctuated by tambourine, the second track by a bass drum/snare and the aforementioned shaker — but the tablas and tambourine of “Triprapport” as well as the pinging sitar notes that accompany (courtesy of Vicki Singh) add a sense of boogie that the later “Floden,” indeed with more sitar, answers later.

Uffe Lorenzen Triprapport

“Floden” is the shortest track on Triprapport at 3:17, but Lorenzen only hits the five-minute mark twice and one of those is for the finale cover. Still, “Floden”‘s relative surge of push is well-placed in side B as it follows the drift of “Angakkoq” and “Lille Fugl” with “Aldrig Mere Ned” and “Hallo Hallo Frøken” still to go. It’s a moment whereby Lorenzen directly engages the listener, especially in a linear format (CD, digital), allowing for some grounding factor following the acoustic-and-organ-and-flute (the latter contributed by Adam Dreisler) interplay of “Lille Fugl.” Both that track and “Angakkoq” before it have some percussive aspect, whether it’s the triangle of “Angakkoq” or what might be a bass drum so far back in the mix of “Lille Fugl” that it sounds like water droplets, but “Floden” is a well-placed cosmic burst of energy, that, without losing the melodic focus that proves so resonant throughout Triprapport, responds to the title-track’s classic psychedelia with more of the same as heard in its running measures between verse lines.

As the last original track, “Aldrig Er Eet” feels like a significant moment for Lorenzen as a songwriter, and it might be, with a somewhat moodier pulse, subtle backing line of synth or effects lower register and lower in the mix, as well as a march in acoustic guitar and percussion, but it’s not at all out of place with what comes before it or even what comes after, as “Hallo Hallo Frøken” is brought well into the character of the rest of Triprapport, the lap steel taking the place of the strings in the original and Lorenzen replacing the Dylan-gone-krautrock of the original with his own approach. Across the entire span of Triprapport — its manageable 36-minute run just about ideal for a traditional two-sided LP — the songs are a reminder of just how much character Lorenzen puts into his songwriting. It is, in the end, his work, and however traditional the form in which he’s working might be intended to be, there’s no doubting the progressive aspects of Triprapport even as relates to Galmandsværk.

That is perhaps something the gone-to-a-cabin storyline in which the album occurs takes as a given, but it’s worth highlighting all the same that Lorenzen is nothing short of a master when it comes to psychedelic composition. His work in Baby Woodrose speaks for itself, but can be somewhat opaque for a new listener to take on — in the age-old question of where to start, I’d say the self-titled, but there’s really no wrong answer — but even the fact that the lyrics are in Danish lends his solo material a more personal atmosphere, though I’ll readily admit to my ignorance of the language. Nonetheless, while Lorenzen may be exploring this more personal mode of songwriting, he doesn’t at all lose the writing part of that equation. The material on Triprapport is as deceptive in its efficiency as it is fluid in its front-to-back flow. Ultimately, this is what makes the album his own. Is it surprising? Probably not. But it’s gorgeous.

Uffe Lorenzen on Thee Facebooks

Baby Woodrose on Thee Facebooks

Baby Woodrose on Bandcamp

Baby Woodrose website

Bad Afro Records on Bandcamp

Bad Afro Records on Thee Facebooks

Bad Afro Records website

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Review & Full Album Premiere: Altar of Oblivion, The Seven Spirits

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on April 23rd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

altar of oblivion the seven spirits

[Click play above to stream Altar of Oblivion’s The Seven Spirits in full. Album is out April 26 on Shadow Kingdom Records.]

There is a special place in the halls of metal for those who partake of epic doom. It shares with power metal a sense of grandiosity and an absolute need to be all-in, irony-free in order to be properly pulled off, and Danish five-piece Altar of Oblivion nail it. The Seven Spirits, on Shadow Kingdom, is their third album, following behind 2012’s Grand Gesture of Defiance (review here) and their 2009 debut, Sinews of Anguish (review here). They had an EP out in 2016 called Barren Grounds, but The Seven Spirits is the Aalborg-based doomers’ first full-length in seven years. Consistent with that and its title, there are seven tracks on the outing, and no lack of spirit in the delivery, as the band taps ’80s classic metal and early doom metal in order to hone their sound, distinguished by the varied delivery of frontman Mik Mentor, whose low-register approach is deceptively malleable to the melodies called forth by the guitars of band-founder Martin Meyer Sparvath (also backing vocals and keys) and Jeppe Campradt (also keys).

Tasked with thickening the proceedings and making them move are bassist Cristian Nørgaard and drummer Danny Woe, and they only add to the sense of precision throughout the LP’s 40-minute run, whether it’s the thudding start and careening groove of opener “Created in the Fires of Holiness” or the suitably mournful plod in the second half of highlight “Gathering at the Wake” before the big finish takes hold. Regardless of tempo or mood in a given track, the band remains firm in their take on the metal of eld, and there’s never a moment where their sincerity is in doubt. As keyboard lines weave between the two guitars and fill out the arrangements and atmospheres, the sense of drama is palpable, but there’s no questioning Altar of Oblivion‘s commitment to what they do. This is epic, doom, metal. If you can’t handle it, turn in your denim at the door.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Altar of Oblivion are quick to show their doomly credentials in “Created in the Fires of Holiness.” The song thuds the record to life quickly and crashes into its dual-guitar opening lead, very much the over-the-top intro before digging into its first verse, with Nørgaard‘s bassline righteously prominent — counter to a mistake so, so, so many in classic doom and metal make — as the guitars ring out and Mentor establishes his command over the turn to the chorus. By the time the opener is halfway through, the course is set in terms of style, and though its songs are varied, it ultimately does not waver from the mood that “Created in the Fires of Holiness” sets forth, coming apart gradually at the end and allowing for a moment of silence before Mentor starts “No One Left,” imagining a world where doomsday prophecy is fulfilled and nobody is there to see it.

altar of oblivion

Speedier and shorter, “No One Left” is a standout in the tracklisting, but well positioned near the start of the album in order to build on what the opener has set forth in tone and general vibe. It makes a hook of repeating its title line, and has a distinctly ’80s metal infusion of keys starting in its midsection, which the subsequent “Gathering at the Wake’ will depart in favor of raw chug initially, only to see it return later as the track embarks on a, well, epic break in its second half, worthy of comparison to earliest Candlemass and building in speed and energy until its gallop again collapses in tempo to a slowdown at the finish, leaving the vocals to end the track alone, and transitioning to the sparse guitar that opens the centerpiece title-track, also the finale of side A. Backing vocals recall Blind Guardian for a brief second in the first verse, but it’s a tease — why not go all out? — and the song unfolds in brooding, keyboard-laced fashion, its chorus resonant in the theatricality of its delivery and its guitars leading the path through a more subdued feel than anything yet presented.

It would be even more hypnotic for that if the title-track weren’t also so brief, being the shortest inclusion at 4:18. Still, it’s a relatively melancholy finish to side A, and it leaves “Language of the Dead” to pick up on side B with a resiliency that mirrors “Created in the Fires of Holiness” at the album’s outset in its general modus, finding new footing in its chorus and revitalizing the approach ahead of the closing duo “Solemn Messiah” and “Grand Gesture of Defiance.” The former of the two, “Solemn Messiah,” is a pinnacle of The Seven Spirits‘ fulsome aspects, with a patience in its execution that holds despite the grandeur of the surrounding arrangement and the layers of guitar, vocals, and keys at play over the still-solid rhythm section. It is arguably the most memorable of the cuts, though there’s plenty of competition there and it’s a question for the longer term in the end, but it serves in its penultimate position as the crescendo of Altar of Oblivion‘s third full-length, and they cap it with a quick stretch of quiet guitar that leads into the fading-in chug of “Grand Gesture of Defiance.”

Curious that they’d end this record with a title-track for the 2012 outing, but the keyboard-centric feel marks a turn in balance with the guitar — at least until the solo — that piques interest just the same. The chorus doesn’t quite land with the same effect as in “Solemn Messiah,” Mentor pushing his voice down to really emphasize that titular solemnity, but the speedier section that gives way to keys and softer guitar at the finish is a fitting enough way to go out given the focus on melody throughout the entire offering prior. Make no mistake, Altar of Oblivion are doom metal for the converted. This is get-a-vinyl-and-a-patch-at-the-merch-table fare, and while its songcraft is ambitious, part of that ambition is homage to what’s come before. Still, The Seven Spirits lacks nothing for its own personality, and after such a long stretch from the band without an LP, it’s a welcome and doomly return.

Altar of Oblivion on Thee Facebooks

Altar of Oblivion website

Shadow Kingdom Records website

Shadow Kingdom Records on Thee Facebooks

Shadow Kingdom Records on Bandcamp

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Review & Track Premiere: Papir, VI

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on April 19th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

papir vi

[Click play above to stream “VI.I” from Papir’s new album, VI. It’s out May 10 on Stickman Records.]

The trio of trio of guitarist Nicklas Sørensen, drummer Christoffer Brøchmann Christensen and bassist Christian Becher Clausen would seem to reach a new level of maturity in their presentation on their sixth album, suitably titled VI. Issued through Stickman Records as the follow-up to their debut on the label, 2017’s V (review here), it continues the Danish instrumentalists’ progressive streak that began with their 2010 self-titled and saw them align to El Paraiso for the subsequent three studio offerings, the last of which was 2014’s IIII (review here), as well as a live album. However, it’s also a marked departure from its predecessor in terms of basic intent, and where V was a 2LP with a staggering 94-minute runtime, VI pulls back on that impulse and instead offers four tracks in an entirely more manageable 39 minutes, feeling less like a splurge and more like a quick excursion to someplace peaceful and other.

Its songs are extended enough and lush with warm crash and mellotron filling out the mix, never mind the dream-toned guitar and effects, to be genuinely immersive, but the mood for the bulk of VI is bright and creative, as though the band were looking to open a conversation or at very least elicit one among those who’d engage with their work. To call it a headphone album is basically to ask someone if they like peaceful summer afternoons, and as the band evoke Yawning Man with some slide guitar and Colour Haze in the apex of “VI.III,” even this is brought into the broader context of their own characterization. That is, Papir have their influences, but rather than work toward them, they’re using them to the band’s own ends. They’re not trying to sound like anything other than themselves, and perhaps unsurprisingly, it suits them.

That shortened runtime is crucial to the experience of the album. It was no hardship to put V on and bliss out for the duration, but part of that experience was getting lost in the flow of Papir‘s material. VI is best given a more conscious approach to shifts like the percussiveness of “VI.IV” or the linear build in “VI.II” or the interplay of drift and wash that opens with “VI.I.” And they make that easy. There is some sense of structure as “VI.I” and “VI.IV” bookend the record at 10:07 and 11:04, respectively, while both “VI.II” and “VI.III” hover on either end of the nine-minute mark, ending side A and beginning side B with a fluidity that seems to extend to the conceptual. Yes, it’s still easy to get lost in what they’re doing if that’s the way you want to go, but doing so misses out on moments like the cascading river of tone in “VI.I” as it moves toward its conclusion, or the gradual opening of “VI.II,” with a bouncing, almost playful guitar leading the way accompanied by quiet but nuanced drums.

papir

I’m not going to try to dissuade anyone from listening to VI however they want, but to just float off on Clausen‘s “VI.III” bassline misses some of the exceptional details surrounding and obvious care the band have put into crafting their work. I guess what’s most called for, then, are multiple listens. So be it. The chemistry between Sørensen, Clausen and Christensen makes that a pleasurable undertaking, to be sure, and hey, if every now and again one might return to VI for a bit of escapism, I’m nobody to call it wrong. The point is that what Papir have created something that’s worth conscious interaction. Once you’ve done that, however you want to spend your time is up to you. Perhaps most crucial, they invite multiple listens in no small part through the accessibility of these tracks and the quicker runtime of the entire affair. You could put it on twice in less than the time it would take to listen to V once. That’s a considerable change, but it shows that growth doesn’t always have to mean just doing things bigger.

Indeed, I’ll gladly argue that VI is Papir‘s most progressive work to-date in no small part because they’ve taken such a conscious step to allow for easier audience engagement. Their material is still plenty far out, of course. The jazz drumming in “VI.IV” and the consuming effects that surround it demonstrate that plainly enough. But they make it so easy to listen. And to listen again, and to listen again. It’s not just about being shorter. That’s a piece of it, but even the songs themselves seem to flesh out in a way that signals Papir reaching a new sphere of expression. They are memorable even without verse or chorus hooks, and the atmosphere they set rests easily atop the entire LP as a welcome presence. Their style has always been exploratory, and that holds true here as well, but VI is as much about being in a place as it is about finding somewhere new to go. One can hear a certain restlessness in “VI.IV” as it rounds out the album with a last, well-earned payoff and crashes out quickly to end, and that’s consistent with what Papir have done in the past, but the difference is in the context through which that moment arises.

If by the end of VI the band are ready to head elsewhere, well, they should be, but that doesn’t diminish the ground they’ve covered in the songs preceding. Rather, across “VI.I,” “VI.II,” “VI.III” and “VI.IV,” they poetically ask their listeners to join them in this space they’ve created. That they don’t ultimately stay there shouldn’t be a surprise — they’ve done nothing to this point in their career that one would call static — but there is a sense throughout of having arrived on the part of the band, and if that’s part of how their maturity comes through in the material, then it finds Papir with an individualized take born of an organic development in their sound that’s played out over their records to this point, getting them to where they are. As to where they might go, the only guess I’d hazard is “forward,” since that’s where they’ve always gone. More important for the moment is what they’ve accomplished here in terms of positioning themselves among upper echelon of European heavy psychedelia.

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Papir on Bandcamp

Papir Blogspot

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Papir Set May 10 Release for VI; Preorders up Now

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 2nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

papir

If life ever puts you in the position of being in the same place where Papir are playing, you should make every effort to watch them play. Fortunately for everyone else, they do a fair amount of recording. VI, sure enough, is their sixth album since they got their start in 2010, and its four-track LP self follows behind 2017’s mega-expansive stunner, V (review here). That, of course, was a 2LP — no single platter could contain it. Does the shift back to a single-vinyl release indicate perhaps that the Danish trio have likewise reined in their sound to some degree or other? And what effect might that have on the overall result of the record? I said as much when they hit the studio in December, but god damn I’m curious to hear this album. The only thing I was willing to predict about it was the title, and as there’s no audio public from it yet, that remains the case.

Art and info follow from the PR wire:

papir vi

New Papir album VI on presale

release date: May 10th, 2019

Papir, a trio from Copenhagen, might be the ultimate expression of the Danish creative soul: distinctively modern, deceptively minimalistic, and stylish yet understated. A band of virtuoso musicians who move between psychedelic rock, jazz and krautrock seamlessly with the ability to hypnotize audiences, Papir could easily be the showboats of the scene. However, since the appearance of their self-titled record in 2010, Papir have continued to follow their own road map, creating music with little interest in playing to the masses or catering to a specific genre.

On VI, Papir show a mastery of all their faces, combining the guitar heroics of their first few records with the more lush sound of 2017’s V. From epic psychedelic guitar meltdowns à la Earthless to sweeping, reverb-drenched soundscapes, it’s all here and held together by a core of dense rhythm and melody. In a mere 4 songs, Papir once again refresh tired ears with their unmistakable approach to rock music, leaving the listener blissed rather than bludgeoned.

Available on 180gr clear vinyl + download code and on CD.

Tracklist
VI.I
VI.II
VI.III
VI.IV

Preorder here: https://www.stickman-records.com/shop/papir-vi/

Papir is:
Nicklas Sørensen
Christoffer Brøchmann Christensen
Christian Becher Clausen

https://www.facebook.com/papirband
https://papir.bandcamp.com/
https://www.stickman-records.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Stickman-Records-1522369868033940

Papir, V (2017)

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Heilung to Release Futha June 28; Teaser Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 28th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

So, I know it’s not exactly fitting with the atmosphere of the release or anything, but yesterday when the email came in with the teaser clip for Heilung‘s forthcoming second album, Futha, I was sitting at the kitchen table — as I will with the laptop — post-lunch with The Pecan and The Patient Mrs., and I put the teaser on, and the demon-voice came on, and the baby started impersonating it. I almost died. We’ve done “death metal growls” and stuff before, but he just picked up on what Heilung were doing in the minute-long clip and kind of ran with it. Needless to say, I worry about how he’ll do at pre-school.

But at least he’ll have good taste.

Heilung are way up high on my gotta-see-at-Roadburn list, and they’ve got a bunch of other dates booked as well. All info follows, courtesy of the PR wire. Teaser is at the bottom:

heilung

HEILUNG Tease Forthcoming Album, ‘Futha’

HEILUNG will be releasing their next studio album, ‘Futha,’ on June 28 via Season of Mist. The band have released a poetic album teaser in advance of the release.

The band comments, “‘Futha’ was three years in the making and was finished in the dark, Danish midwinter. But after darkness comes light, after winter comes spring, after suffering comes relief, after ‘Ofnir’ comes ‘Futha.’ Here’s what the spirits has to say about it!”

On the meaning of the album title, HEILUNG explains: “The majority of full rune set inscriptions start with ‘Futha,’ and is known to us as the first four letters in all runic alphabets. It is considered that our forefathers saw magic potential in engraving the full rune line, but there is also great significance in the beginnings. Science has no key for the meaning of only engraving the first couple of letters yet, but there is, of course, a surplus of theories. One of the theories we found inspiration in, is that ‘Futha’ holds the meaning of fertility and female gender. As ‘Ofnir’ focused on war and masculine notions, the great healing power of female wild strength is evoked in Futha. Those who have been present at a birth or have seen lionesses hunting know the spirit, and we welcome and embrace it in the sounds that were born during the creation of ‘Futha.'”

More album details will be revealed soon. In the meantime, you can purchase merch and their last album, ‘Ofnir,’ HERE.

HEILUNG have previously announced a European tour in October and November this year. The tour will kick off on October 22nd in Warsaw (PL) and will end about a month later in Paris (FR). Find the full list of tour dates below.

HEILUNG Festival Performances 2019:
04/11: Tilburg (NL) @ Roadburn Festival
04/17: St. Petersburg (RU) @ Aurora
04/19: Moscow (RU) @ Arbat Hall
06/20: Copenhagen (DK) @ Copenhell Festival 2019 (Exact date TBA)
06/29: Helsinki (FI) @ Tuska 2019 (Exact date TBA)
08/18: Borre (NO) @ Midgardsblot 2019 (Exact date TBA)
09/07: Selb (DE) @ Mediaval Festival 2019 (Exact date TBA)
10/19: Hameln (DE) @ Autumn Moon Festival 2019 (Exact date TBA)

HEILUNG European tour:
10/22: Palladium (PL) @ Warschau
10/24: Berlin (DE) @ Admiralspalast
10/26: Essen (DE) @ Colosseum Theater
10/28: Munich (DE) @ Circus Krone
10/30: Prague (CZ) @ Hybernia
11/01: Halle (DE) @ Händelhalle
11/03: Vienna (AT) @ Der Globe
11/05: Zurich (CH) @ Volkshaus
11/07: Kiel (DE) @ Kieler Schloss
11/10: London (UK) @ Roundhouse
11/17: Brussels (BE) @ AB
11/20: Paris (FR) @ Elysée Montmartre

Line-up
Kai Uwe Faust
Christopher Juul
Maria Franz

https://www.facebook.com/amplifiedhistory
https://www.instagram.com/amplifiedhistory/
https://heilung.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/seasonofmistofficial
https://www.twitter.com/seasonofmist
https://shopusa.season-of-mist.com

Heilung, Futha album teaser

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