Posted in audiObelisk on October 18th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Belgian post-metallers Dorre and Danish sludge brutalizers Bethmoora will release their split LP Nov. 1 in a limited physical pressing of 500 LPs. Divided between 300 black and 200 swirled in black and green, mixed by Chris Fielding (Conan) at Skyhammer Studio, mastered by James Plotkin (everybody, also Khanate) and topped with striking Diaz Inigo cover art, the self-released outing comprises three tracks — two on side A from Dorre, one longer one on side B from Bethmoora — and is bound to make short work of whatever quota you might have for pummel. Dorre, a trio from Leuven, follow their half-hour/single-song One Collapsed at the Altar EP with “Three Fell from the Sky” (8:31) and “Four Walked into the Ocean” (7:15), leaving one to wonder what happened to “Two,” while Copenhagen’s Bethmoora leave far less to mystery with the 17-minute “Succumb,” which, while atmospheric in a manner not wholly dissimilar from their compatriots, is more brazen in its extremity, thanks in part to screaming and growling vocals where the Dorre tracks on side A have none at all.
That in itself is a considerable divide between the two bands, but as much as they both demonstrate clear patience through their material, there are also marked aesthetic differences. Dorre begin “Three Fell from the Sky” with peaceful atmospheric guitar, while Bethmoora start “Succumb” with an immediate tension in the drums. Working bassless, Dorre use the guitars of Adriaan De Raymaeker and Erik Heyns to add psychedelic flourish and construct atmospheres in the vein of Cult of Luna or maybe peak-era Isis, while drummer Wolf Overloop carefully avoids patterning the rhythm after that same group, and rightly so. Not easy work, but they establish a linear build through “Three Fell from the Sky” and carry some of the momentum into “Four Walked into the Ocean,” which has its own payoff and arrives at it through tempo switches and some more rock-based push. Once Bethmoora slam into “Succumb,” on the other hand, there’s little doubt as to the doom of their intent. Their single, extended inclusion is vicious even when vocalist Anders Kofod takes a break from the layered death-growls, sounding raw and brutal over the foundation of Martin Korff‘s crash and thud.
Comprised of Kofod, Korff, guitarists Morten Leerhøy and Henrick Lyck, and bassist Sune Westh Svendsen, Bethmoora lack nothing for fullness of sound on “Succumb,” somebody or other moving into manipulated noise as the song lurches along in its second half, but they too bring a sense of ambience and spaciousness to the proceedings, however grueling that spaciousness might be. They finish with two-plus minutes of quiet guitar, not quite drone but not far off from it, in a last-minute expression of minimalism that, for those who want to bring the 12″ full circle, might find it feeds nicely back into the start of “Three Fell from the Sky” on side A. Whether that was coordinated between Bethmoora and Dorre or a happy accident, I don’t know, but it works to the advantage of emphasizing a sense of cohesion between the two acts, drawing them together despite any disparities of sound that might otherwise separate their output.
Both are relatively new bands. Dorre issued One Collapsed at the Altar about a year ago and Bethmoora put out their first demo in March, so it’s probably fair to think of the split as an early expression on both their parts, but something else that unites them is a clear sense of purpose.
All three tracks are streaming below ahead of the Nov. 1 release, followed by some comment from De Raymaeker about how it came together and more bio-type background. Please enjoy:
Adriaan De Raymaeker of Dorre on the split:
“Creating this split LP together with Bethmoora was a very easy decision. We’re both passionate bands with a drive to create, go further and invest in the quality of our music. I’ve known Morten for a couple of years now, having met at Roadburn. We’ve been wanting to do something together for a while and decided to just get started and make it happen, and here we are!”
Dorre was born at the Rock Café in Leuven when Adriaan De Raymaeker and Wolf Overloop decided to head up to the attic that Pektop (Adriaan’s former band) used to rehearse. Deep, dark, heavy riffs were made and quite possibly enjoyed by several blocks of flats and houses around the building. Deciding that the time had come to widen the scope of Dorre, a more serious approach was taken to write long pieces of music that incorporated every aspect of each musician. A cohesion of doom, noise, psychedelic rock, blues and stoner was organically formed between the two guitars and the drums.
Copenhagen based sludge/doom 5 piece Bethmoora, has existed for about a year in its current form, all members with experience from previous bands. Huge riffs, bludgeoning rhythms and disturbing vocals are key elements of the slow descent. The lyrics of Bethmoora’s tracks revolve around a common theme – a mythos that singer Anders has created. Deities, entities, occult rituals and eternal strife are all key ingredients of this vast, ever expanding, imaginary dark world.
Danish psychblasters Narcosatánicos will make their debut on Bad Afro Records Nov. 4 with their second album, Body Cults. To herald its arrival, the band has posted a video for the song “Vile” that shows the spaced-out vitality with which they’re working, tripping the light fantastically around molten effects and a wash of noise that seems to intermittently consume everything else around it. In the realm of cosmic rock and roll, it seems fair to think of Narcosatánicos as the thing you land on that you think is a planet but turns out to be a huge space-dwelling life-form that subsequently eats you. Phasers, in other words, will be ineffective in fighting the immersion at hand. You’re gonna have to reroute power to the deflector.
Also, if you’re sensitive to flashing lights, I can only recommend keeping one hand on your mouse, phone, whatever it is on which you’re watching/reading, because invariably you’ll want to scroll away from the actual visuals even as you listen. The clip may well have been shot in Narcosatánicos‘ rehearsal space — reportedly a basement used as a chemical factory in WWII that still registers as radioactive (as one imagines a decent portion of Europe does) — but they do well to give it an otherworldly feel through both sound and lighting, even if the manic changes in the latter can be somewhat taxing on the synapses. Still, well worth the effort to get a feel for the sax-inclusive lysergury being performed in “Vile” itself, which I wouldn’t necessarily count on to represent the whole of Body Cults, but seems like a good place to start.
More info follows the clip below, courtesy of the PR wire. You know the drill.
Narcosatánicos, “Vile” official video
Narcosatánicos is a noise rock group from Aarhus, Denmark. Formed in early 2012, the cacophonous sextet draws on various influences from late 60’s proto-punk and krautrock to more recent variants of avant-garde and aggressive music.
“Vile” is the first single/video from the second Narcosatánicos album dubbed Body Cults and is due out September 29th 2016 on Bad Afro Records. It may not be reasonable to describe “Vile” as an easy listening but it is the most obliging song on Body Cults and has an oriental flavor. The video for “Vile” is made by Per Silkjær (Fossils/Double Space) You can listen to Vile on Soundcloud, watch the video on Youtube or download it as Mp3
Body Cults is recorded and mixed at Sonic Studio by Thomas Mee and Victor Kim and the album is mastered by Flemming Rasmuseen at Sweet Silence. The album is set for release November 4th.
Line-up on Vile: Victor Kim (Vocals, Guitar), Tobias Holmbeck (Guitar, Vocals), Kasper Skotte (Guitar), Zeki Jindyl Søgaard (Saxophone, Vocals), Johannes Krøyer (Drums) and Mikkel Stenholt (Bass).
Posted in Reviews on October 4th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Day Two starts now. I don’t know if you’re ready for it. I don’t know if I’m ready for it. Ah hell, who am I kidding? I love this stuff. No place I’d rather be right now than pounding out these reviews, batch by batch, all week. This one gets heavy, it goes far out, it rocks hard and relentless and it gets atmospheric. And more. But don’t let me try to sell you on reading it. Even if you skim through and click on players, I hope you find something you dig. If not today, then yesterday, or tomorrow or the next day. Or hell, maybe the day after. It’s 50 records. There’s bound to be one in there. Here we go.
Quarterly Review #11-20:
Monolord, Lord of Suffering / Die in Haze
A relatively quick two-songer issued via RidingEasy to mark the occasion of the Swedish trio’s first US headlining tour this summer, Lord of Suffering / Die in Haze offers a more stripped-down feel than did Monolord’s second full-length, Vænir (review here), which came out last year. The roll elicited by guitarist/vocalist Thomas V. Jäger, drummer Esben Willems and bassist Mika Häkki, however, remains unspeakably thick and the band’s intent toward largesse and nod continues to ring true. They’re in and out in 11 minutes, but the ethereal, watery vocal style of Jäger and the more earthbound pummel of the three-piece as a whole on “Lord of Suffering” and the grueling spaciousness of “Die in Haze” – not to mention the bass tone – show that Monolord are only continuing to come into their own sound-wise, and that as they do, their approach grows more and more dominant. They make it hard not to be greedy and ask for a new album.
Seattle two-piece Teacher served notice early this year of their then-forthcoming self-titled, self-recorded debut LP, and it was easy to tell the Tony Reed-mastered full-length would be one to watch out for as it followed-up their prior EP1812, released in 2015. Arriving via Devil’s Child Records, the 10-track Teacher does indeed dole out a few crucial lessons from drummer/guitarist/vocalist Jonathan Ethan Mercer and guitarist/vocalist Solomon Arye Rosenschein. Whether it’s “Heavy Metal Parking Lot 1979” or the swinging “Peripatetic Blues” or the gone-backwards psych interlude “Wildcard Jambalaya” that immediately follows, the record basks in an organic diversity of approach drawn together by the clear chemistry already present between Mercer and Rosenschein. A harder edge of tone keeps a modern feel prevalent, but even the forward punker charge of “Mean as Hell” has classic roots, and as they finish with “Home for the Summer” as the last of three out of the four EP tracks included in a row to round out the LP, they seem to have entered the conversation of 2016’s most cohesive debuts in heavy rock. Their arrival is welcome.
There’s an element of danger to Rosy Finch’s debut long-player, Witchboro (on Lay Bare Recordings). Actually two. One: it sounds like it could come apart at any given moment – it never does. Two: any given one among its nine component tracks could wind up just about anywhere. Though the Spanish trio of bassist/vocalist ElenaGarcía, guitarist/vocalist Mireia Porto and drummer Lluís Mas keep individual songs relatively raw sounding – or at very least not overproduced as something so progressive could just as easily have wound up – but even the soothing “Ligeia” holds to a driving sense of foreboding. Punk in its undercurrent with more than a touch of grunge, Witchboro is as much at home in the atmospheric crush of “Polvo Zombi” as the quick-turning finale thrust of “Daphne vs. Apollo,” and its overarching impression is striking in just how readily it manipulates the elements that comprise it. Ambitious, but more defined by succeeding in its ambitions than by the ambitions themselves.
Holy Mountain Top Removers, The Ones Disappearing You
Psychedelic surf? Wah-soaked, bass rumbling foreboding? Euro-inflected lounge? All of the above and much more get a big check mark from Nashville instrumentalists Holy Mountain Top Removers, whose The Ones Disappearing You LP covers an enviable amount of stylistic ground and still leaves room near the end for bassist/keyboardist Mikey Allred to lead a blues dirge on trombone. He’s joined by drummer/percussionist Edmond Villa and guitarist Anthony Ford, as well as guest trumpeter Court Reese and violinist Allan Van Cleave, and as they careen through this vast terrain, Holy Mountain Top Removers only seem to revel in the oddness of their own creation. To wit, the early jangle of “Monsieur Espionnage” is delivered with gleeful starts and stops, and the later “Serenade for Sexual Absence” given a mournful snare march and what sounds like tarantella to go with Van Cleave’s violin lead. Playful in the extreme, The Ones Disappearing You nonetheless offers rich arrangements and a drive toward individuality that stands among its core appeals, but by no means stands there alone.
Chris Forsyth and the Solar Motel Band, The Rarity of Experience I
Philadelphia four-piece Chris Forsyth and the Solar Motel Band must have worked quickly to turn around so soon a follow-up to last year’s debut album, Intensity Ghost (review here), but their second offering, The Rarity of Experience lacks nothing for growth. A two-disc, 72-minute 10-tracker also released through No Quarter, The Rarity of Experience hops genres the way rocks skip on water, from the exploratory psychedelic vibing of “Anthem II” to the Talking Heads-style jangle of “The Rarity of Experience II” and into horn-infused free-jazz fusion on “The First 10 Minutes of Cocksucker Blues” – which, by the way, is 12 minutes long. A big change is the inclusion of vocals, but the penultimate “Old Phase” still holds to some of the pastoral atmospherics Forsyth and company brought together on the first record, but principally, what The Rarity of Experience most clearly shows is that one doesn’t necessarily know what’s coming from Chris Forsyth and the Solar Motel Band, and as much as they offer across this massive stretch, I wouldn’t be surprised if they continue to expand their sound.
Initially released by the band in January, the self-titled debut from Munich heavy rockers Swan Valley Heights sees wider issue through Oak Island Records in an edition of 200 LPs. After rolling out the largesse of welcome-riff in opener “Slow Planet,” the three-piece dig into longform groove on “Alaska” (9:09), “Mammoth” (11:02) and “Let Your Hair Down” (9:35), finding a balance between hypnotic flow and deeply weighted tones. Riffs lead the way throughout, and while there aren’t a ton of surprises, once they make their way through “Caligula Overdrive,” the shimmer at the start of “Mountain” and some of the more patient unfolding of closer “River” called Sungrazer to mind and I couldn’t help but wonder if Swan Valley Heights would make their way toward more lush fare over time. Whether they do or not, their debut engages in its warmth and cohesion of purpose, and offers plenty of depth for those looking to dive in headfirst.
I can’t help but feel like Portland, Oregon’s Cambrian Explosion are selling themselves a little short by calling The Moon an EP. At five songs and 35 minutes, the follow-up to their 2013 The Sun outing boasts a richly progressive front-to-back flow, deep sense of psychedelic melodicism and enough crunch to wholly satisfy each of the payoffs its hypnotic wanderings demand. Sure sounds like a full-length album to my ears, but either way, I’ll take it. The four-piece set an open context in the intro noise wash of “Selene,” and while “Looming Eye” and “Mugen = Mugen” push further into ritual heavy psych, it’s in the longer “Innocuous Creatures” (9:24) and closer “Crust of Theia” (8:23) – the two perfectly suited to appear together on the B-side from whatever label is lucky enough to snap them up for a release – that The Moon makes its immersion complete and resonant, blowing out in glorious noise on the former and basking in off-world sentiment as they round out. Gorgeous and forward-thinking in kind. Would be an excellent debut album.
Not sure if there’s any way to avoid drawing a comparison between Italian five-piece Haunted’s self-titled debut (on Twin Earth Records) and Virginian doomers Windhand, but I’m also not sure that matters anymore. With the two guitars of Francesco Bauso and Francesco Orlando meting out post-Electric Wizard churn and Cristina Chimirri’s vocals oozing out bluesy incantations on top as Frank Tudisco’s low end and Valerio Cimino’s drums push the lumber forward, it’s all doom one way or another. “Watchtower” has a meaner chug than opener “Nightbreed,” and the centerpiece “Silvercomb” delves into feedback-laden horror atmospherics, but it’s in the closing duo of “Slowthorn” and “Haunted” that Haunted most assuredly affirm their rolling intention. They’ll have some work to do in distinguishing themselves, but there’s flourish in the wash of guitar late and some vocal layering from Chimirri that speaks to nuance emerging in their sound that will only serve them well as they move forward from this immersive first offering.
Taking their name from a track off Monster Magnet’s 2010 outing, Mastermind, Brazilian heavy rockers Gods and Punks mark their debut release with The Sounds of the Earth, a self-released five-track EP awash in classic influences and bolstered through a double-guitar dynamic, maybe-too-forward-in-the-mix vocals and a rock solid rhythm section. These are familiar ingredients, granted, but the Rio de Janeiro five-piece present them well particularly in the mid-paced “The Tusk” and the catchy, more extended closer “Gravity,” and are able to put a modern spin on ‘70s vibing without becoming singularly indebted to any particular band or era, be it ‘70s, ‘90s or the bizarre combination of the two that defines the ‘10s. Gods and Punks are setting themselves up to progress here, and how that progression might play out – more space rock to go with the theme of their excellent artwork, maybe? – will be worth keeping an eye on given what they already show in their songwriting.
Mostly instrumental, deeply atmospheric and clearly intended to divide into the two sides of a vinyl for which it seems more than primed, A Cure for Time is the second album from Copenhagen post-metallers Gaia. Each half of the four-track/39-minute outing pairs a shorter piece with a longer one, and the flow the trio set up particularly on the closing title cut calls to mind some of YOB’s cosmic impulses but with a spaciousness, roll and context that becomes their own. Shades of Jesu in the vocals and the balance of rumble and echo on the earlier “Nowhere” make A Cure for Time all the more ambient, but when they want to, Gaia produce a marked density that borders on the claustrophobic, and the manner in which they execute the album front to back emphasizes this spectrum with a progressive but still organic flourish. I wouldn’t call A Cure for Time directly psychedelic, but it’s still easy to get lost within its reaches.sh
Posted in Whathaveyou on September 1st, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
I’ll admit my curiosity is piqued in part here because the circumstances seem so strange. Danish death-doomers A Sun Traverse are getting ready to release their self-titled debut through Mighty Music. Nothing too weird about that, but the fact that the EP is coming out on Dec. 24 strikes me as particularly odd given the fact that it’s the day before Xmas. Hard to imagine a time the public is paying less attention to new stuff being released — not to mention being broke from buying presents for friends and relatives. Maybe they’re betting death-doom fans are lonely atheists, and maybe they are, I don’t really know, but if you’re so lonely and so godless that you’re buying records on Xmas Eve instead of spending time with your family, you’re welcome to come to dinner with mine instead. I promise no one will talk about Jeebus even once.
A Sun Traverse will have a video out to precede their self-titled debut next month. For now, you can sample a couple tracks from their ReverbNation page (oy.) under the PR wire info below:
A SUN TRAVERSE
NEW DOOM METAL BAND FEAT. EX SATURNUS MEMBERS
A SUN TRAVERSE is a new Doom metal band from Copenhagen, Denmark.
After departing with SATURNUS, Peter E. Poulsen (guitars), Tais Pedersen (guitars), Nikolai Borg (drums) and Anders R. Nielsen (keyboards) formed A SUN TRAVERSE and was later joined by bassist player Lennart Jacobsen (also ex. SATURNUS). Recently vocalist Michael H. Andersen (THORIUM, ex. WITHERING SURFACE) completed the line-up.
A SUN TRAVERSE is proud to present the first official release. A Journey into classic, melancholic yet beautiful doom/death metal with haunting melodies and deep, roaring vocals. Produced and mixed by KB Larsen (Volbeat, The Kandidate) and mastered by Henrik West/Medley Studio (Artillery, Glenn Hughes).
The Self titled minialbum is released on Mighty Music on Christmas Eve 2016 on LP format and all digital platforms.
Recently a music video was done for the 8+ minute opus “Dance Darkness Dance” with Kennie Ørsted (The Vision Ablaze, Sea) to be released on October 28th.
Currently the band is booking their shows for early 2017.
If you look at the tour dates below for Danish outfit The Wands, you’ll notice no fewer than three dates feature are billed as ‘Psych Fest.’ If that’s a running theme, then fair enough for the classically lysergic sounds the four-piece conjure and toward which the vibes of their new video for “Faces” seem to be directly leaning.
The track comes from their upcoming EP of the same name, which is out Sept. 5 on Fuzz Club Records as the follow-up to their 2014 debut long-player, The Dawn and their first EP, 2012’s Hello I Know the Blow You Grow is Magic, as well as a single or two, and it brings together a modern sense of tonality and production with classic, late-’60s psychedelic pop in a way that feels otherworldly while remaining grounded in a definite and traditional structure. A languid vibe permeates, and the hook provides noteworthy landmarks along the way.
I’ll confess I haven’t heard the full EP yet, but if this is the molten shape of the thing, I’d like to. Fuzz Club is taking orders now at the link below, and of course you’ll also find The Wands‘ aforementioned tour routing down there under the video. They seem to carry the notion of ‘psych fest’ wherever they go, and at least in “Faces,” they go pretty far out.
The Wands, “Faces” official video
Taken from the EP ‘Faces’ by The Wands. Release 05.09.16 on Fuzz Club Records
TOUR DATES – FALL 2016 SEP 04 – DK – COPENHAGEN – PAVILLONEN VED KARENSMINDE SEP 09 – ES – ZARAGOZA – ZARAGOZA PSYCH FEST SEP 10 – ES – BARCELONA – UPLOAD SEP 21 – DK – ODENSE – POSTEN SEP 23 – DK – RANDERS – VON HATTEN SEP 30 – DK – SØNDERBORG – SØNDERBORGHUS SEP 30 – DK – AARHUS – AARHUS PSYCH FEST OCT 01 – DK – AALBORG – STUDENTERHUSET OCT 14 – UK – LONDON – THE SHACKLEWELL ARMS OCT 16 – FR – PARIS – LE POINT EPHEMERE OCT 21 – FR – LYON – LE SONIC OCT 26 – IT – CARPI – MATTATOIO OCT 28 – IT – TORTONA – DAZEBAO OCT 29 – IT – RAVENNA – CLUB BRONSON NOV 03 – NL – AMSTERDAM – STUDIO K NOV 11 – NO – OSLO – OSLO PSYCH FEST More shows TBA
Song credits: Written and performed by The Wands Mixed and engineered by William Smith Mastered by Emil Thomsen Recorded in Black Tornado Studios Copenhagen in 2016
The Wands are Christian Skibdal, Mads Gräs, Kristoffer Hvidberg and Thomas Brandt
About two months ago, Danish psych-garage institution Baby Woodrose made public the first audio from their seventh album, Freedom (review here) — out Sept. 16 on Bad Afro Records — in the form of a video for the track “Open Doors” (posted here). That song, maddeningly catchy as one would expect, featured Baby Woodrose‘s frontman, Lorenzo Woodrose, reciting the lyrics in a subdued manner on a swirling psychedelic green-screen backdrop, all tripped-out, expanded-mind and so on. Not groundbreaking, but a cool way to introduce the track to fans of the band with something of a personal spin.
The clip you’ll find below for “21st Century Slave” seems to get more at the core mood of the record. It works in washed out tones of blue, dark in the way of gritty modern dramas set in major cities. Once again we see Woodrose himself as the focus, but this time instead of alone, he’s absolutely smothered by the humanity around him, a largely faceless crowd of people coming and going about their lives. Woodrose, deadpan, once again delivers the lyrics to “21st Century Slave,” which are rife with cultural critique directed at the general malaise of what what middle class existence has become — wake up, go to work, go home, eat, sleep, shit, etc. — and the question of what is real and unreal in these processes. It seems only fair to call the results brooding, despite the enduring crispness of Woodrose‘s songcraft and shimmering tonality.
When taken together, “21st Century Slave” and “Open Doors,” the two videos, perfectly represent the two sides at work across Freedom — one trying to show a way to a better existence and the other showing why we as a species need it. Baby Woodrose will headline Bad Afro Records‘ 20th anniversary party on Nov. 5 in Copenhagen with Telstar Sound Drone and Narcosatanicos. For more on that, check out the postedinfo here.
Enjoy “21st Century Slave” below:
Baby Woodrose, “21st Century Slave” official video
Shot & cut & color by Palle Demant // Fuzz Cake Film. Taken from the Baby Woodrose album Freedom due out September 16th, 2016 on Bad Afro Records.
[Stream Baby Woodrose’s ‘Mind Control Machine’ by clicking play above. Freedom is out Sept. 16, 2016, on Bad Afro Records.]
This year marks the 15th anniversary of Denmark’s Baby Woodrose, who remain an underground phenomenon despite being one of the most pivotal European heavy rock bands to come along in that time. That’s not an exaggeration. As scenes have cropped up, gotten big, and died, Baby Woodrose have persisted with an unmatched love and execution of heavy, psychedelic garage rock, and they have remained largely unmatched in the form since their inception. The era of their 2001 debut, Blows Your Mind!, was revisited with the 2014 compilation Kicking Ass and Taking Names (review here), but it’s been four years since Uffe “Lorenzo Woodrose” Lorenzen (who’s also spent part of that time with his other band Spids Nøgenhat) and company issued their last proper full-length, 2012’s Third Eye Surgery (review here).
The effects-soaked, mind-expanded, recorded-to-tape Freedom is the band’s seventh album. Put together with the lineup of Lorenzo Woodrose on guitar/vocals along with, guitarist Mads Saaby, organist Anders Skjødt, bassist Kåre Joensen and drummer Hans Beck and issued through longtime label home and respected purveyor Bad Afro Records, the record continues on from where Third Eye Surgery left off in some ways, basking in bright tones and more expansive sonic reach, but keeps the core of classic post-13th Floor Elevators psychedelia and the infectious hooks that have typified their material all along. Lorenzo is, quite simply, a master of the form, but as much as Freedom‘s nine tracks/37 minutes are a show of the well-established strengths in his approach — good luck getting “Mind Control Machine” or “21st Century Slave” or “Mantra” out of your head — the material likewise pushes those strengths forward as well.
The title Freedom, the Black Power-reminiscent cover art (at least that’s how my American eyes see it) and the title-track itself, which reinterprets an old slave spiritual as a righteous psychedelic declaration — one might recall Richie Havens played the song at Woodstock and Clutch referenced it as well in “Motherless Child” — that succinctly encapsulates the album’s central theme of thought control at the hands of a wrongly directed dominant culture. “I don’t believe in your concept of reality,” Lorenzo states in the hook of opener “Reality,” and the lighter strum and fuzz of “21st Century Slave” works smoothly in contrast to the cynicism at the song’s heart, but as with some of Baby Woodrose‘s best and certainly their more recent output, there’s a tinge of melancholy under the upbeat, classic songwriting. That’s certainly the case in “21st Century Slave,” so it’s all the more fitting that the stomp of “Open Doors” — on which both Joensen and Skjødtshine early — should follow immediately.
At just over three minutes long, “Open Doors” is a highlight, and it also marks a lyrical turn, departing from the direct social critique of the first two songs to offer an alternative in the psychedelic lifestyle. Instead of “your concept of reality,” it’s “open doors in my mind.” That swap is subtle, but pivotal, since it helps establish the core conflict of Freedom as a whole, which one might boil down to squares vs. heads, but of course is expressed on a more complex level than that. After “Open Doors,” an immediate swirl of keys and/or effects begins the push of “Mind Control Machine,” a song that quickly makes its way “up the stairs to the 13th floor” and which “21st Century Slave” referenced in its lyrics. Likewise uptempo but more intense than “Open Doors,” it brings back the critical aspects of the first two tracks lyrically while expanding the scope instrumentally toward more expansive psychedelic terrain. That effects swirl — Echoplex? — never quite dissipates, and the song is richer for it.
Centerpiece and shortest cut “Peace” is the departure that ultimately ties the entire album together. The subdued, still-tripped-out 2:27 track is probably the closer of the vinyl’s side A, but more than that, it provides a landmark as one of four single-word titles that between them draw a narrative progression for Freedom as a whole that begins with “Reality,” moves through “Peace,” finds “Freedom,” recites its “Mantra” of “I’ll never stop/I can never get enough” before finally disintegrating blissfully in the space rock jam of eight-minute closer “Termination.” “Peace” and “Freedom” work especially well together — on all levels, I suppose — as the former patiently hypnotizes the listener and the latter picks up with a near-immediate sweep, consuming with a depth of tone that pushes Lorenzo to the fore, his vocals watery as he recites “Sometimes I feel like a motherless child” in a manner that’s as honest and personal as it is homage.
Freedom‘s crux arrives in a call and response of the title-line of the title-track, and “Red the Signpost” kicks in with a noisier and spacier motion, running quickly through verses and its chorus, its almost frenetic solo, in under three minutes that breaks things up with perhaps the album’s most energetic moment. “Mantra” is slower and more groove-minded at the start, like a moodier take on some of the album’s earlier vibes, but the lyrics once again turn personal with repetitions of the above-quoted hook. A multi-layered solo is spacious but short en route back to the verse, as Baby Woodrose prove efficient once again in making their point and getting out; songwriting so tight it’s a wonder all the light that does can escape at all.
Closer “Termination” is nothing short of a psychedelic wonder. At 8:27, it’s easily the longest inclusion, but more than that, from its patient unfolding to its effects-wash build, Hawkwindian thrust, proclamations of doom in the lyrics surrounded by a warm cosmic gorgeousness that almost makes you think it’s going to be okay. The song flows immaculately between more active verses and spaced-out jamming, lyrics arriving in the second half after a jam soon to resume has pushed even further out. Baby Woodrose carry forth once again after the last lines are done and proceed to the album’s final build, which its a suitable payoff but is telling even in its ending, Freedom ultimately setting itself free in a final minute of effects swirl and lone, space guitar plucking out wistful notes that fade out to close.
If one takes Lorenzo as the auteur of Baby Woodrose in terms of the songwriting, that’s probably fair enough — there’s no doubt he’s at the center of the record — but the full-band live feel of Freedom would seem to express ideas no less pivotal to that concept than the railing against a sterile culture one finds in the lyrics to songs like “21st Century Slave,” “Reality” and “Mind Control Machine.” All of this feeds together to make Freedom a more than worthy next step in Baby Woodrose‘s hopefully ongoing progression, and that is perhaps the highest compliment that can be paid to it.
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 15th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
There are few labels with taste as blindly reliable as Stickman Records, who in the past have aligned themselves with the likes of Motorpsycho, Elder and Spidergawd, so when I say that Copenhagen’s Papir will make a good fit for the roster, take it as a sign of respect for the quality of the instrumental trio’s output. Their last record, IIII (review here), came out in 2014 on El Paraiso Records — the imprint helmed by members of Causa Sui; no minor shakes as regards taste either — and since then the band has collaborated with Electric Moon and Øresund Space Collective, so it’s fair to note that their track record of keeping good company continues unabated.
Veterans of Roadburn, Freak Valley, Desertfest and many others, Papir will release a new album — which either will or will not be titled IIIII — in early 2017 through Stickman Records. It took me a while to catch onto these guys, but I’ve been glad I did ever since, and the sense of forward thinking jamming and progressive sensibility they bring to their sonic textures is second to none. Whatever they call it, I’m looking forward to hearing the next stage of their ongoing development.
Stickman offered the following brief announcement on the pickup with the promise of more album details to come:
NEW SIGNING – PAPIR FROM COPENHAGEN!
We’re happy to announce that we have a new family member on Stickman Records: Papir from Copenhagen, Denmark.
Papir are an instrumental trio who have released a string of great albums on El Paraiso. After seeing them several times at Roadburn, Freak Valley, and most recently at the Copenhagen PsychFest, we’re excited to welcome them into the fold and see what the future will bring.
The band’s new album will be mixed in mid-August by John McEntire of Tortoise and is scheduled for release in early 2017. Details to follow!