Posted in Whathaveyou on March 25th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Danish six-piece outfit Grusom released their three-song demo last October, and by November, they were in talks with Kozmik Artifactz, who it has been announced will be handling the release of the band’s forthcoming full-length debut this July. The band’s blues-rocking style, marked out by dual guitars, standalone vocals and keys, is fitting in the progression past pure retroism that seems to be emerging throughout Europe, heavy ’70s influences being put in a more modern context, but one will still recognize some hallmarks in the single “The Journey,” for which Grusom have just released a new video.
A brooding sense of regret pervades the song — it’s not by any means upbeat or a brash, boozy single — but the pickup in the second half demonstrates the kind of flow Grusom have on offer and bodes well for what might come with the first album. The announcement came via the PR wire:
Denmark’s finest GRUSOM are signing with Kozmik Artifactz
Debut album release summer 2015
Just one month after releasing their demo on Bandcamp, Grusom signed with the German record label “Kozmik Artifactz.” Jacob Bredahl from Dead Rat Studio did the recording of their debut album. Grusom wanted to keep the feel of the actual recording as true and authentic as possible. Jacob caught Grusom’s sound and soul by recording all music in one room at the same time. Grusom’s debut album is expected to hit the street and shelves sometime during July 2015 (vinyl, cd and digital).
The first single from the album called “The Journey” is to be released the 16th. of March 2015. “The Journey” was partially written and arranged while recording in Dead Rat Studio. “The Journey” can be found digital on iTunes and several other online platforms including Grusom’s official bandcamp site.
Posted in Whathaveyou on March 24th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Danish heavy psych rockers Gas Giant haven’t been heard from much in the last decade. In 2004, their participation in the High Volume compilation put together by Bobby Black of High Times magazine introduced them to a wider American audience, but by then, the band was already winding down. With two records under their collective belt — 2000’s Pleasant Journey in Heavy Tunes and 2003’s Mana – plus the unfinished Portals of Nothingness from 1999, they faded out just as heavy rock was beginning a resurgence, and had they come along either four years earlier or four years later, I’ve no doubt they would’ve garnered more attention around the world. Better late than never.
The axiom applies because the Copenhagen-based four-piece have reactivated. They’ll play a weekender in Germany this week, and in June, return for the Freak Valley festival. Pleasant Journey in Heavy Tunes is set for reissue via Space Rock Productions, and other releases might follow as well if the response warrants.
Below, Scott “Dr. Space” Heller offers the story of Gas Giant and a video of their new lineup rehearsing the song “Never Leave this Way” from their 2001 split with WE from Norway:
GAS GIANT is back!
Gas Giant formed in 1996 under the name Blind Man Buff with Pete Hell on Drums, Thomas Carstensen on bass, Stefan Krey on guitars and Jesper Valentin on vocals. In April 1997, the Blind Man Buff EP was recorded and released the next year. In 1999, they changed the name to Gas Giant and recorded a record called Portals of Nothingness which showed a more melodic and spacey direction but this was not released as the band was not really happy with the sound production, despite the amazing songs, several of which the band would rerecord on later albums. We sold this on CD-R at the shows between 2001-2004 so about 50 copies exist on CD-R.
In late 1999 and early 2000, their now classic record, Pleasant Journey in Heavy Tunes (Burnt Hippie Recordings) was recorded. This was released in 2000 and the band rerecorded their track, Too Stoned, in a slower version than what appeared on the Blind Man Buff EP, which was a real hit on the stoner rock underground and even the lead track on a High Times Magazine compilation CD that came out in 2004.
I first met the guys in November 1998 and started hanging out with them a lot and recording their shows and rehearsals and running a primitive web site (before Kim took over), and managing the band. In 2000, Pete Hell left the band and they had Kjeld on drums for about a year before he split in April 2001. I started playing with the band in November 2001, when they recorded the tracks for the split LP with the Norwegian band WE. I played on the track Firetripper. Tommy replaced Kjeld in August 2001. From Nov 2001 to 2004 I played at most of the bands live concerts and recorded every show, which you can hear at the link below for the archive.org web site. There are 45 shows that have been downloaded 65,000 times! In 2002, the band recorded and released the Mana record on the Elektrohasch label on CD and the Nasoni record label on vinyl in an abbreviated version. The band played quite a few shows in support of the record in Finland, Denmark, Holland, Belgium and Germany.
The band was really amazing live and changed the set every night and did amazing jamming at each show, which I hope they will continue to do with the new lineup. The underground German press called them the Grateful Dead of stoner rock and we did a lot of amazing improvisation and jamming on tracks like Never leave this Way, Back on the Headless Track, Ride the Red Horse and Storm of my Enemies. These were the real jam tracks that were very different every night. The live show reviews were always great. If the band had really had the time to play more shows at this time, I really think they would have been as big or bigger than bands like Nebula, Fu Manchu, Monster Magnet, at least in Germany, but they were all having children and it was harder and harder to live this life and tour. In 2004, they decided to take a different turn in the music and lose the synthesizers (and me) and try with a more mainstream sound. The next two years they struggled and eventually the band broke up with Jesper leaving. Although the band would play the occasional party or reunion show for special events like Ralph Rjeily’s Tribute show, they did not really exist as a band.
Come 2015 and Gas Giant is back! The band has a new energy with the addition of a new bass player, Kasper (Bleeder Group, Dyreforsøg, Megafon, Gyserfilm, and Marte) and drummer, Martin (Psyched up Janis, The Univerzals, Fri Galaxe, The Saints) replacing original member Thomas (bass) and Tommy (who drummed with the band since 2001). Here is a short video of the band rehearsing from march 21st, 2015. Just sneak preview of the new line up!
The band is out on the road in 2015 with the following confirmed dates:
Thu, Mar 26 Schaubude, Kiel, Germany Fri, Mar 27 Cafe Tiko, Erfurt, Germany Sat Mar 28th Zukunft :: Ranch am Ostkreuz, Berlin, DE Thurs April 30th HDDT, Loppen, Christiania, DK Thurs June 4th Freak Valley Festival, DE
In June this year, the Pleasant Journey in Heavy Tunes will be released as a single vinyl lp on the Space Rock Productions label with additional sales and distribution via Kozmik Artifactz in Germany. If this does well, other old Gas Giant material may be released as well on vinyl.
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 28th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
If you’re wondering what you might expect from Absorb / Fabric / Cascade, what with its slashy title and all, look no further. Along with the preorder link, El Paraiso Records gives a pretty thorough runthrough — more like a “funthrough,” am I right??? — of the second solo album from Jonas Munk, better known as the guitarist and producer of Danish desert jammers Causa Sui. And I won’t lie, it’s an enticing description. Munk‘s bandmate, Jakob Skøtt, as tended toward progressive texturing in his own solo material, and Munk‘s 2012 solo debut, Pan, showcased krautrock leanings as well in its use of classic synth and guitar, as you can hear with the pulsating”Current” below. As these guys continue to branch out with solo offerings, I can only look forward more to what they might bring to the next Causa Sui. Whether they’re getting it all out of their system so they can return to head-down fuzz groove or whether these proggy elements will show up more in that band even than they did on 2013’s Euporie Tide, I feel like there isn’t really an option by which the listener loses out.
I look forward to hearing how or if it all ties together. Before we get there, Absorb / Fabric / Cascade is up for preorders now and will ship in March. Info follows, yoinked from the El Paraiso website:
Jonas Munk: Absorb / Fabric / Cascade LP PREORDER
Second solo LP from Causa Sui guitar player/producer Jonas Munk. These three long pieces aren’t defined by Munks signature guitar-approach, but is rather a musical vision of vintage synthesizers, organs, piano and analog electronics elegantly weaved together to create extensive formations of pure sound. The harmonic simplicity and unrestricted dedication to sonic balance and texture is something of a first in Munk’s body of work. This is pattern music, characterized by slow builds and subtle, but refined, transformations, where gradual tectonic shifts and tiny harmonic gestures generate vivid emotional responses. Instead of imposing any direct intention or meaning, it’s an album that can create a mental environment for the listener to expand and open up into.
Absorb, taking up the entire A-side, is a piece of meticulous balance, structured from techniques recalling the classical minimalists: soft-glowing analog synthesizer patterns in perpetual motion, creating new harmonic content as each bar progresses. Gradually, randomized modular effects are introduced as well as layers of white noise and detuned, heavily tube-overdriven guitar drones, slowly bathing the piece in warmly filtered fuzz.
The B-side opens with two identical organ lines played against each other. After a few minutes the organs lock into a an effortless flow, gently rolling towards a pastoral peak several minutes later, where piano and various layers of electronics enters the soundscape, recalling the blissed-out spiritualism of Alice Coltrane or Popol Vuh.
The album’s last track, Cascade, opens peacefully but soon enough crosses into multi-textural self-oscillating psychedelia – related in spirit to Munk’s previous solo album, Pan, released in 2012. Gradually the intertwined layers of sound rises to enormous billows of sonic saturation, where each drone harmonizes against layers of distorted pulses.
Music like this is perceived as incredibly simple and free flowing, but, as is the case with the biological world, reveals textural minutiae and interweaved intricacy once studied close-up. Every tiny detail serves the bigger picture. It’s music that’s practically vibrating with possibility.
Posted in Radio on January 9th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Usually I approach doing a batch of radio adds with some trepidation — after all, I’m basically writing five (or, in this week’s case, six) short reviews — but after doing that Last Licks series last week, this honestly feels like a breeze. Perspective is everything, and to add to yours and mine, I’ve got 18 records joining The Obelisk Radio playlist this afternoon, and it’s a widely varied bunch, both in what’s written up here and the actual makeup of the stuff.
Full-lengths, EPs, splits, a live release, a single, some doom, some black metal, some heavy rock, sludge, psych, you name it. I had the radio going for a while yesterday and heard a few really satisfying changes in style. I like that and I hope you do too, because I don’t think it’s going to change anytime soon. Full list of adds is on the Updates and Playlist Page.
The Obelisk Radio adds for Jan. 9, 2015:
Formes, Dysphoria Part 1
For an album that starts “Through this Hole” and finishes in “Dead Ends,” Formes‘ Dypsphoria Part 1 is a resoundingly progressive and diverse outing that, at its core, works primarily in playing shoegaze psych and extreme metal off each other. Somewhere between Dead Meadow and Akercocke, a song like “Dead Ends” finds a way to mesh wub-chug riffing with the crooning vocals of guitarist/bassist Steve McNamara with the responding death growls of his brother, drummer/guitarist Jordan. The UK three-piece is rounded out by Rob “The Alchemist” Hemingway, whose synths feature heavily in songs like “I am Nothing” and “Tumult,” which atmospherically expand on the ideas the opener presents, thrusting these two sides into the same place and, in defiance of what are generally thought of as the physics of genre, making it work. Formes‘ most effective moments are when they ram one into the other, as on the acoustic-to-doom-pummeling “Smile Club,” which follows quietly seething brooder “I Will Make You Ill” and rounds out with an extended whistle of harsh feedback, but I won’t discount the value they clearly place on structural variety either. Together, they make Dysphoria Part 1 as satisfying as it is unpredictable, and while I don’t know when one might expect Part 2 or just how many installments of Dysphoria there might be, I look forward to when I can next encounter the fruits of Formes‘ stylistic restlessness. Formes on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
Romero, Gold for the Hunt
Madison, Wisconsin, sludge poppers Romero made a New Year’s present out of “Gold for the Hunt” by offering the song as a free download on Jan. 1, but it’s also the first new studio material to come from the four-piece since their early 2013 full-length, Take the Potion (review here). Like that album, the single revels in a Floor/Torche influence, but seems to delight even more in its fuzzy tone and burly edge in the vocals of guitarist Jeffrey Mundt and drummer Ben Brooks. With the foundation of Patrick Hotlen‘s bass rumbling beneath, the guitar and vocals push through a tension-release chorus and into a well-layered chugging bridge that further highlights Romero‘s penchant for melodic bellowing. Guitarist/percussionist/organist Tim Consequence seems all but absent initially, but in the final movement, a sustained current of organ winds up as one of “Gold for the Hunt”‘s most distinguishing factors. Well, that and the brutal growing, anyway. Glad to hear from Romero, even in so abbreviated a manner. If you’ve never encountered them before, “Gold for the Hunt” provides a quick, efficient summary of their approach, and if you heard Take the Potion, the new song will only make you further anticipate the follow-up. Romero on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
Bellringer, Bellringer EP
Based in the weirdo haven of Austin, Texas, newcomer trio Bellringer – for whom this untitled/self-titled, self-released EP is the first outing — boast a familiar face (or at least a familiar cowboy hat) in guitarist/vocalist Mark Deutrom (Clown Alley, peak-era Melvins), who’s joined by bassist Corey Cottrell (ex-Megazilla) and drummer Craig Nichols (Guided by Voices, The Breeders) on these four tracks. The sound, while adventurous stylistically and in terms of the construction of individual parts, is rooted in heavy rock, opener “Vapor Lock,” a catchy number like “Wait” and the instrumental chorus of “Von Fledermaus” reminding some that, yes, Deutrom was the bass player on Stoner Witch, but particularly in the latter an even more resonant impression comes across like Masters of Reality‘s blend of pop and heavy rock oddness. That vibe continues on the nine-minute psych-jam closer “The Burning Gift,” which brings Deutrom‘s vocals forward and works in keyboard arrangement flourish, bell sounds, string sounds and various melodic volume swells to underscore the point that, even on Bellringer‘s introduction, pretty much anything goes if it works. So be it. The world needs more experimental rock that doesn’t forget there are two sides to that equation, and Bellringer seem to come out of the gate ready to gleefully tip the scales one way or the other. Bellringer on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
Wizard Eye, Riff Occult Live
If, like me, you’ve been itching to get a handle on some new music from Philly’s theremin-laced, golly-these-guys-need-to-get-a-new-record-out stoner doom trio Wizard Eye, Riff Occult Live should do the trick. All but two of the tracks — “On the Banks of a River” and the meshed-together “Gravebreath/Say No More” — come from the riffy three-piece’s forthcoming sophomore outing, and while it’s definitely a live record, the dense fuzz and nod-ready roll that guitarist/thereminist/vocalist Erik Caplan, on-a-first-name-bassist Dave and drummer Mike Scarpone conjure wins out anyway on cuts like “Drowning Daydream” and “Flying/Falling,” Scarpone‘s kick drum a pop in the low end while Wizard Eye ooze their way through one Sabbathian jam into the next. Opener “Eye of the Deep” sets a tone for extended solos and thick groove, and Wizard Eye do not falter from that path as the set makes its way to the 11-minute final jam, each riff arriving, kicking ass, and moving on in well-purposed succession. Riff Occult Live doesn’t entirely sate the anticipation for a new album, but it certainly doesn’t hurt either. Wizard Eye on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
Lewd Flesh, Op I Røven, Dø I Smerte
Marked out immediately by the echoing, over-the-top bluesy vocals of Malene Pedersen, Copenhagen heavy rockers Lewd Flesh make their Spaghetti Casetti Records debut with the Op I Røven, Dø I Smerte 7″, bringing together the two songs “Acid Rider” and “Lewd Troves” to give a professional, crisp first impression across two sides and about 11 minutes. Guitarists Nanna Braunschweig Hansen and Casper Nilsson, bassist John Madsen and drummer Jakob provide the backdrop for Pedersen‘s rocked-out vocal thrust on “Acid Rider,” and more ’90s-style cues are taken on “Lewd Troves,” the wailing guitars offering a flourish of noise influence to coincide with the band’s straightforward production. It is their first outing, and two songs, and it’s a raucous start to make, but there’s room to grow as well in Lewd Flesh‘s hammering out their balance of grunge, noise and heavy rock impulses and figuring out where to place the vocals in the mix. To the credit of both the band and the release, Op I Røven, Dø I Smerte sounds both smoothly produced and on-stage energetic, and hopefully they can keep that spirit intact as they continue to grow. Lewd Flesh on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
Red Mess, Crimson EP
Familiar riffs abound on Red Mess‘ debut EP, Crimson, and the Brazilian trio give due reverence to the likes of Sabbath and Goatsnake, but it’s the rougher, semi-retro presentation that draws the listener into the atmosphere created by guitarist/vocalist Thiago Franzim, bassist Lucas Klepa and drummer Douglas Labigalini over the four tracks/22 minutes. There’s something theatrical in Franzim‘s vocals to opener “Trapped in My Mind” that also give a classic Alice Cooper Band feel to the proceedings as well, and that’s really just one element of heavy ’70s worship that continues on “Hole” and the subsequent, motor-ready “Stoneage Coopers,” but they save the best for last in 5:30 closer “Through the Trees,” which offsets Graveyard-style subdued blues noodling with heavy rock thrust, a highlight performance from Klepa alongside Labigalini‘s swinging cymbal and tom work, and an engaging build throughout. They’re feeling their way through developing their sound, and that’s exciting to hear since the three-piece already has some considerable chemistry between them. Hopefully they’re able to take lessons from Crimson – named, apparently, in homage to a classic prog influence — and move forward as they discover where they want to go and how they want their songs to take them there. Red Mess on YouTube, on Bandcamp.
Had to get that sixth one in there, and not just because it frees up another space on my desktop. The idea behind doing adds like this isn’t just to remind people there’s a radio component to this site. That’s part of it, sure, but the bigger agenda here is to hopefully give you another opportunity to check out music you might dig. That’s why the audio is right there under each review. I sincerely hope something above piques your interest and that you also share it with someone you think will enjoy.
It doesn’t take too long into “Lucifero,” the opening track of Danish doomers The Hyle‘s four-song Demo, to figure out where they’re coming from. Pressed in a limited edition of 150 tapes by Caligari Records — pro-printed thick-stock four-panel j-card, black and clear case, purple cassette with the print directly on it (rather than a label) — the release finds the somewhat mysterious three-piece nestled into the post-Electric Wizard frame of doom, starting out with quiet, spacious, foreboding guitar and opening quickly into a rolling groove topped with a winding smoke-trail of a lead. Echoing clean vocals provide further basis for the comparison throughout “Lucifero” and its side one companion, “Serpent King,” as well as side two’s “Spiritual Sacrifice” and “Children of the Divine,” but if it’s a sonic likeness noted, let that also stand as testament to The Hyle‘s ability to craft a hook, since “Lucifero” likewise serves significant notice in that regard.
They keep lineup information minimal, but Demo was recorded, mixed and mastered by Jens Dandanell and Caligari has seen fit to keep true to its overarching atmosphere with the tape, the inside liner of which is dedicated to a murky, almost black metal-style photo by Rasmus Leo that complements the All is Visual cover of the release itself. The music is similarly cohesive. It may or may not be The Hyle‘s first release, but Demo sounds like the work of a band who knows what they want out of their sound, “Serpent King” branching out further vocally than “Lucifero” and helping distinguish the band from their central point of influence even as they continue to weave a torrent of low end punctuated by classically swinging drums with an otherworldly psychedelic vibe. “Serpent King” fades out long on a guitar solo to close out side one of the tape, a moment’s respite consumed by droning before “Spiritual Sacrifice” and “Children of the Divine” take hold.
A more fervent stomp provides the resounding impression of “Spiritual Sacrifice,” at least initially until the slow unfolding hypnosis takes hold, pushing farther out into darkened psychedelics and an obscure morass of deep tonality. By then, The Hyle‘s nod is locked in, and they do nothing to interrupt it as side two plays out, though they clearly save their nastiest riffing for last. “Children of the Divine” is meaner in tone than its predecessors, if consistent in its overall approach, its abyssal drear and spaciousness marked by a particularly memorable riff and groove-riding vocals, laid back in their delivery, but showing a burgeoning personality that could easily develop over time, layers arriving in a languid call-and-response chorus that coincide with some later guitar harmonics to speak to a stronger sense of arrangement and performance to come as The Hyle move past Demo. As a first release, though, these four songs are confident in their presentation of aesthetic and likewise assured in their craftsmanship. For many listeners, elements will ring familiar, but it’s in the flashes of individuality throughout Demo that The Hyle‘s real potential is unveiled.
Posted in Whathaveyou on December 1st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
There’s just something about doom on a purple tape that feels right. Comprised of four tracks split up onto two sides, Danish four-piece The Hyle unfurl the wizardly electricity of their debut Demo on tape via respected purveyor Caligari Records. The riffy doomers are a relatively recent advent — they’ll play their first “official” show this month, though I don’t know how many unofficial gigs precede it (the photo above had to be taken somewhere) — but the four cuts bleed well together for nearly a half-hour immersive runtime of languid doom that’s already started to catch attention. Hence the cassette release.
Only 150 copies are being pressed by Caligari, who sent the following down the intestinal windings of the PR wire:
THE HYLE – Demo Out Now On Tape – Danish Doom
The Hyle hail from Denmark and this 4-song demo introduces their sublime doom rock to audiences that are more used to bestial vulgarity, chauvinistic rock and roll, raunchy thrash metal, generic metal ov death and cheesy heavy metal than they are to swift arrangements and expansive guitars, clean vocals elucidating dark and curiously morbid lyrics and paused drumming and subjugated bass playing. Listen to The Hyle and let your perception get the message; their unnerving passivity reveals something insalubrious lurking beneath.
The Hyle is inspired by the occult and esoteric teachings of Robert Fludd, who among others had difficulties defining the term the Hyle. It can’t be described in isolation, because it is in fact, the essence of not being anything: it is infinite non-existence. Therefore The Hyle is not created, for it is the material of which created things spring.
The Hyle receives its main inspiration from the gap between existence and non-existence, and the sound can be seen as a manifestation of something both created, and creating.
4 songs and almost thirty minutes of music, it is all it takes for The Hyle to turn their insides out…
Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!
Tomorrow here in the US it is Thanksgiving, which has some questionable origins but in practice is actually one of our less-abominable holidays, with a focus on togetherness, good food, and enjoying the company of loved ones. Today, the day before, is traditionally the busiest travel day of the year while people get to wherever they’re going. Even if you don’t manage to find it until after the holiday is over, it seemed only fitting to make a new podcast so that anyone who might want to take it along for the ride would be able to do so.
My head has started to get into year-end wrap-up mode, so don’t be surprised if one or two or three of these bands show up in subsequent “Best Of” coverage. Maybe even four, looking at the list. It’s been a crazy good year, and as it starts to wind its way down and we make our way into the next one, I hope you’ve enjoyed listening to these podcasts and hopefully discovered something you wouldn’t have heard otherwise. That’s really the whole idea.
If you’re traveling by road, rail, or air, I wish you a pleasant journey, and even if you’re staying put, the same applies.
Stubb, “Heavy Blue Sky” from Cry of the Ocean
Murcielago, “Way too Far” from Murcielago
Dune, “Of Blade and Carapace” from Aurora Majesty
The Skull, “Send Judas Down” from For Those Which are Asleep
Elephant Tree, “Attack of the Altaica” from Theia
Renate/Cordate, “Laudanum” from Growth
Mothership, “Serpents Throne” from Mothership II
Space Guerrilla, “Event Horizon” from Boundless
Monster Magnet, “End of Time (B-3)” from Milking the Stars
Memnon Sa, “Megalith” from Citadel
Soldat Hans, “Meine Liebste; Sie Zerbricht Sich” from Dress Rehearsal
Atavismo, “Meeh” from Desintegración
Øresund Space Collective, “Remnants of the Barbonaeum” from Music for Pogonologists
Posted in Reviews on November 18th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Perpetually nebulous Danish outfit Øresund Space Collective are not short on jams. At current count, their Bandcamp page has over 40 releases available for stream and download, and a quick search on Archive.org brings up live recordings that span from a couple months past to nearly a decade ago. Most are live recordings, and that fits with the band’s emphasis on improvisation and space rock tradition, but rarer are studio albums and rarer still are studio albums with physical pressings. Led by the charismatic and well-bearded synthworker Scott “Dr. Space” Heller, the Collective now release a 2CD/2LP collection of jams dubbed Music for Pogonologists, reportedly themed around the works of Upton Uxbridge Underwood (1881-1937), and particularly his masterpiece 0f literary analysis, Poets Ranked by Beard Weight. “Pogonology,” in the name of the album, refers to the study of facial hair, and many of the tracks — “Beardlandia,” “Ziggurat of the Beards,” “Bearded Brothers,” “Remnants of the Barbonaeum,” “Portal of Pogonic Progress,” “Barboconsciousness,” and so on — make references in their titles to beards, taken from Underwood‘s writings. Øresund Space Collective are definitely working on a theme throughout the eight-track release, the CD and download versions of which top a somewhat astounding 145 minutes, and there’s even a spoken introduction by Heller about Underwood and his beard fascination, but ultimately, the band approach beardly studies the same way they approach most anything: By blasting it into space and jamming the hell out of it. If it ain’t broken. Alongside Heller on synth, the Øresund Space Collective this time is guitarists Daniel Lars, Nicklas Sorensen (also of Papir) and Nickolas Hill, bassists Pär Hallgren and Christian Clausen (also also of Papir), drummer Christoffer Brøchhmann (and yes, also of Papir), and synth provider Mogens Pedersen, and as a unit, they know precisely which universe they’re headed for.
Big Hawkwind influence? Duh. Truth is, though, Øresund Space Collective aren’t even so much about capturing a classic space rock vibe at this point — they do, for what it’s worth — as they are about continuing to explore instrumental dynamics. At their center always is improvisation, and there’s brief moment in the second-disc leadoff title-track, about eight minutes into its total 34-minute span, where it seems like it’s all finally going to come apart. But it doesn’t (presumably, if it had, that wouldn’t be on the album, let alone be the title-track). Øresund Space Collective prove able to pivot where they need to and take their molten, across-disc flow in one direction or another, whether it’s a slow buildup like that in the closing “Portal of Pogonic Progress” (12:21) or disc one’s relatively brief “The Tricophantic Spire,” a jazzy excursion with some primo bass that checks in at a mere eight minutes long, but is one of the more experimental cuts on hand. As always for any kind of jam-based heavy psych, immersion is key, and if you’re unwilling to be carried out by Music for Pogonologists early on, the opening one-two salvo of “Beardlandia” and “Ziggurat of the Beards” together pushing past 25 minutes, then Øresund Space Collective probably won’t win you over with the album’s remaining two hours, but if you’re able to draw back the anxiety and let yourself space out for a bit, the stream of delay, synth, dynamic drumming, warm bass, raw exploration and bright guitar are enough to showcase why Øresund Space Collective are consistently among Europe’s foremost practitioners of the art. Their expanded-consciousness vibes and pervasive lysergic groove might just make you think there’s something in the shape of a man’s beard to indicate his relative value as a poet. Or, you know, whatever.
Comparing the two discs, the first is longer at 75 minutes compared to the second disc’s 70 minutes, but I’d say the second probably has the more overarching liquidity. It’s only three tracks as opposed to disc one’s five, and between the title-track, the ensuing “Barboconsciousness” and the classic guitar on “Portal of Pogonic Progress,” there’s enough to dig into for a more than satisfying otherworldly journey. The more synthesized initial push of “Remnants of the Barbonaeum” or the underlying bass bounce and snare march in the midsection of “Bearded Brothers” before it are hardly disjointed from each other, however. Really, what Øresund Space Collective have done with Music for Pogonologists is jammed out two records’ worth of heavy psych improvisations and put them together. Reasonable since they come from the same session, engineered and mastered by Johan Dahlström with a mix by Dr. Space, and of course recorded live and overdub-free, but the vinyl and CD versions (both limited to 500 copies) feature different tracklistings, so I’d wonder how that might affect the overall listening experience, getting up to change sides, etc. As it is, the more linear, two-disc edition is a comprehensive warp of mind, time and follicular study that’s lighthearted in its approach but substantial in its result, swirling, as ever, into reaches few dare to tread in a continuing quest for the heart of the jam itself. The entire lineup of the band comes together on “Barboconsciousness,” and it’s no less a bliss of lead guitar, wah and psychedelic churn than one might imagine, but it seems that no matter where Øresund Space Collective turn, they wind up in familiar but still uncharted territory. So it is with Music for Pogonologists, and the outfit continue to hone one of the finest approaches to heavy jams to be found in this dimension or in any other alternate reality you might want to search.
Øresund Space Collective, Music for Pogonologists (2014)