Kind of hard to get the full story on the new Smells Like Sweat documentary about Denmark’s 2012 inaugural Heavy Days in Doomtown fest from the trailer posted yesterday, but the clip of The Wounded Kings guitarist and founder Steve Mills saying, “I’m a lazy fucking bastard guitar player, and I like to have a lot of time to think between riffs,” would seem to indicate that good times abound.
Presumably there’s more to come — a trailer usually precedes a full feature — and in the meantime, the 2013 installment of Heavy Days in Doomtown has been announced for May 2-5 at Undomshuset in Copenhagen. Lineup info can be found in the comments of this post (thanks to those who posted it).
Here’s the trailer and a blurb from the creators about the theory behind the documentary:
A no budget film focusing in on doom as a movement more than a genre. Meet the bands and artists in one of the most embracing subcultures. See the venues melt away the difference between the bands and the audience in a DIY setting.
“Unknow Factor” is a collective of artists working in a copyleft setting to deliver stories from beneath the surface. No budget. No sponsors. Only the chaotic truth.
Posted in Reviews on October 16th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
I am constantly working at a deficit. Financially, yes, because like many of my countrymen I’m am tens of thousands of dollars in debt — but also in terms of reviews. I’malwaysbehind on reviews. Hell, it was into July of this year before I finally put the kybosh on writing up anything from 2011, and I’m pretty sure if I hadn’t put my foot down on it, I’d still have year-old albums going up or older. My to-do list grows like a witchcult.
It’s not something to complain about and I’m not complaining. I’m stoked people give enough of a shit to send their CDs in to be reviewed — especially those who actually send CDs — and it’s for that reason that I do this second reviewsplosion (first one here).
Yeah, as ever, I’m behind on reviews, but I’m also working on being more concise — I swear I am; check out the At a Glance reviews if you don’t believe me — and one of the things I liked so much about the last reviewsplosion was it forced me to get to the fucking point. As direct a line as possible to a review. Boiling the idea down to its essential core.
With that in mind, here’s my attempt to both balance my review budget and be as clear as humanly possible. Hope you dig:
Altar of Oblivion, Grand Gesture of Defiance
The subject of some spirited debate on the forum, the second record from Danish five-piece Altar of Oblivion revels in traditional doom methods. There’s an air of pomp in some of the songs — “Graveyard of Broken Dreams” lays it on a little thick — but by and large, Grand Gesture of Defiance(Shadow Kingdom) is a more than solid showing of genre. Classic underground metal flourishes abound, and while it’s not a record to change your life, at six tracks/34 minutes, neither does it hang around long enough to be overly repetitive. You could do way worse. Altar of Oblivion on Thee Facebooks.
Blooming Látigo, Esfínteres y Faquires
Primarily? Weird. The Spanish outfiit Blooming Látigo make their debut on Féretro Records (CD) and Trips und Träume (LP) with the all-the-fuck-over-the-place Esfínteres y Faquires, alternately grinding out post-hardcore and reciting Birthday Party-style poetry. They reach pretty hard to get to “experimental,” maybe harder than they need to, but the on-a-dime stops and high-pitched screams on tracks like “Onania” and “Prisciliano” are well beyond fascinating, and the blown-out ending of “La Destrucción del Aura” is fittingly apocalyptic. Who gave the art-school kids tube amps? Blooming Látigo on Bandcamp.
Five years since their second offering, Green Magic, left such a strong impression, Italian stoner rock trio El-Thule return with Zenit (Go Down Records), which makes up for lost time with 50 minutes of heavy riffs, fuzzy desert grooves and sharp, progressive rhythms. The band — El Comandante (bass), Mr. Action (guitar/vocals) and Gweedo Weedo (drums/vocals) — may have taken their time in getting it together, but there’s little about Zenit that lags, be it the faster, thrashier “Nemesis” or thicker, Torche-esque melodic push of the highlight “Quaoar.” It’s raw, production-wise, but I hope it’s not another half-decade before El-Thule follow it up. El-Thule on Thee Facebooks.
Botanist, III: Doom in Bloom
It’s a nature-worshiping post-black metal exploration of what the History Channel has given the catchy title “life after people.” If you’ve ever wondered what blastbeats might sound like on a dulcimer, Botanist‘s third album, III: Doom in Bloom has the answers you seek, caking its purported hatred of human kind in such creative instrumentation and lyrics reverent of the natural world rather than explicitly misanthropic. The CD (on Total Rust) comes packaged with a second disc called Allies, featuring the likes of Lotus Thief and Matrushka and giving the whole release a manifesto-type feel, which suits it well. Vehemently creative, it inadvertently taps into some of the best aspects of our species. Botanist’s website.
Say what you will about whiteboys and the blues, the bass tone that starts “Nobody Get Me Down” is unfuckwithable. And Seattle trio GravelRoad come by it pretty honestly, having served for years as the backing back for bluesman T-Model Ford. The album Psychedelta (on Knick Knack Records) jams out on its start-stop fuzz in a way that reminds not so much of Clutch but of the soul and funk records that inspired Clutch in the first place, and though it never gets quite as frenetic in its energy as Radio Moscow, there’s some of that same vibe persisting through “Keep on Movin’” or their Junior Kimbrough cover “Leave Her Alone.” Throaty vocals sound like a put-on, but if they can nail down that balance, GravelRoad‘s psychedelic blues has some real potential in its open spaces. GravelRoad on Thee Facebooks.
The Linus Pauling Quartet, Bag of Hammers
Texas toast. The Linus Pauling Quartet offer crisp sunbursts of psychedelic heavy rock, and after nearly 20 years and eight full-lengths, that shouldn’t exactly be as much of a surprise as it is. Nonetheless, Bag of Hammers(Homeskool Records) proffers a 41-minute collection of heady ’90s-loving-the-’70s tones while venturing into classic space rock on “Victory Gin” and ballsy riffing on “Saving Throw.” Being my first experience with the band, the album is a refreshing listen and unpretentious to its very core. Eight-minute culminating jam “Stonebringer” is as engaging a display of American stoner rock as I’ve heard this year, and I have to wonder why it took eight records before I finally heard this five-man quartet? Hits like its title. LP4′s website.
Odyssey, Abysmal Despair
It’s the damnedest thing, but listening to Abysmal Despair, the Transubstans Records debut from Swedish prog sludge/noise rockers Odyssey, I can’t help but think of Long Island’s own John Wilkes Booth. It’s the vocals, and I know that’s a really specific association most people aren’t going to have, but I do, and I can’t quite get past it. The album is varied, progressive, and working in a variety of modern underground heavy contexts nowhere near as foreboding as the album’s title might imply, like Truckfighters meets Entombed, but I just keep hearing JWB‘sKerry Merkle through his megaphone. Note: that’s not a bad thing, just oddly indicative of the greater sphere of worldwide sonic coincidence in which we all exist. If anything, that just makes me like Abysmal Despair more. Odyssey on Soundcloud.
Palkoski, 2012 Demo
Conceptual Virginian free-formers Palkoski released the three-track/67-minute 2012 demo earlier this year through Heavy Hound. Most of it sounds improvised, but for verses here and there that emerge from the various stretches, and the band’s alternately grinding and sparse soundscapery results in an unsettling mash of psychotic extremity. It is, at times, painful to listen, but like some lost tribal recording, it’s also utterly free. Limited to 100 CDs with a second track called “The Shittiest EP Ever” and a third that’s a sampling of Palkoski‘s ultra-abrasive noise experimentation live, this one is easily not for the faint of heart. Still, there’s something alluring in the challenge it poses. Palkoski at Heavy Hound.
Radar Men from the Moon, Echo Forever
Following their charming 2011 EP, Intergalactic Dada and Space Trombones, the Eindhoven instrumental trio Radar Men from the Moon (On the Radar’ed here) return on the relative quick with a 51-minute full-length, Echo Forever. More progressive in its jams, the album’s psychedelic sprawl shows the band developing — I hesitate to compare them to 35007 just because they happen to be Dutch, but the running bassline that underscores “Atomic Mother” is a tempter — but there’s still an immediacy behind their changes that keeps them from really belonging to the laid-back sphere of European jam-minded heavy psychedelia. They’re getting warmer though, stylistically and tonally, and I like that. Interesting to hear a song like “Heading for the Void” and think Sungrazer might be burgeoning as an influence. Cool jams for the converted. Radar Men from the Moon on Bandcamp.
Sound of Ground, Sky Colored Green
There are elements of of Yawning Man, or Unida or other acts in the Californian desert milieu, but basically, Moscow’s Sound of Ground sound like Kyuss. They know it. Their R.A.I.G. debut full-length, Sky Colored Green, makes no attempt to hide it, whether it’s the “Green Machine” riffing of “Lips of the Ocean” or the speedier Slo-Burnery of “El Caco,” though the metallic screaming on “R.H.S.” is a dead giveaway for the band’s youth, coming off more like early Down than anything Josh Homme ever plugged in to play. While not necessarily original, the trio are firm in their convictions, and Sound of Ground tear through these 11 tracks with engaging abandon. The Russian scene continues to intrigue. Sound of Ground on Thee Facebooks.
One thing about Scott Heller (aka Dr. Space): The dude loves him some space. In his second “Altered States” column for The Obelisk, the Øresund Space Collective jammer takes a song-by-song look at the underrated Pleasant Journey in Heavy Tunes, released in 2000 by Danish outfit Gas Giant. Heller was intimately familiar with the band from their days as Blind Man Bluff, and one can almost feel the grooves of the songs themselves reading his review.
Hope you enjoy:
GAS GIANT- PLEASANT JOURNEY IN HEAVY TUNES (Burnt Hippie Records BHR-003/Loudsprecher LSD043)
While this Danish psychedelic stoner space rock band does not officially exist anymore (the three main guys still play together and make music), in 2000, they released this all time classic record. I met the guys back in 1998, when the band was still called Blind Man Buff. They started BMB in the mid-‘90s after disbanding the ZZ Top cover band, Tube Snake Boogie. These guys were really hard working and from 1995-2001, were meeting three days a week to jam and make songs and listen to Fu Manchu, Monster Magnet, Kyuss, Black Sabbath, etc… They would occasionally come out and play live as well but not that often.
In 1999, I started hanging out with the band and recording a number of their rehearsals and all their live shows. In January, they entered the studio with local soundman and producer, Ralph Rjeily, (who recently passed away and I wrote a tribute piece to here on this site), where they recorded at the local Black Tornado Studios. These were some intense days as they jammed and laid down the basic tracks for this classic record. The big muff sound on the bass and guitar, with Stefan’s vintage Sound City head and late ‘60s Marshall cabinet was a mean, dirty, fucking heavy sound and pretty well captured on these raw recordings.
One of the things that made the record so intense was the really raw and in your face sound of the guitar and bass, which was mixed really up front, leaving the drummer Pete Hell, in the back but still audible.
The CD starts off with what is now a stoner rock classic, “Too Stoned” (it was the first song on the High times Magazine compilation, High Volume: The Stoner Rock Collection ). The band had previously recorded this song on the Blind Man Buff EP two years before but were not totally satisfied with it. It starts off with the sound of a water pipe as the main guitar riff enters before the killer bassline kicks in. The delays on Jesper’s voice also give it a really psychedelic feel. The main chorus arrives with a powerful Kyuss-like riff and Jesper ramps up the intensity in his vocal delivery as well. The midsection is very spacey and then the tune just takes off with a heavy groove and an uptempo ending.
“Sit Down” starts with the heavy bass before the monster guitar riff kicks in. The lyrics are always very interesting and strange and Jesper delivers a very powerful performance on every song with a catchy chorus that you can sing along to. This one is very raw, a bit looser, grooving but focused on being heavy. Stefan starts to let loose some guitar solos but just teasing you to start. Down the Highway has one of the most nasty guitar and heavy bass from this time period to start this track in this slow grooving track. The mid section slows almost to a stop and there are some spacey sounds before Pete kicks in with the drums again and Thomas leads the groove with the heavy bass line. “All Creatures” starts off with a very psychedelic effected vocal part before the killer groove just takes off again with that really fuzzed out, raw nasty sound. The mid section is really spacey with a lot more effects, delay vocals, cool guitar and heavy bass and then they just rock out like a mother fucker! ”The celebration is about to begin, may I have this dance…”
“Super Sun Trigger” is a very short, catchy and powerful song built on the killer flange guitar riff and sing-along chorus that just gets you hooked. Jesper sings in a bit more laid back fashion until the chorus, “Rescue me/The super sun trigger is coming to you.” “Desert Call” is actually quite an old song of the band’s dating back to 1996. It slows things down a lot but has a real basic easygoing feel and you eventually get hooked. Thomas’s bass line is so intense in the mix, really in your face. “Freak Sensation” is another fuzzed out number with a catchy groove. Jesper has an added effect on the vocal and like “Down the Highway,” the band space out in the middle (live this was often really far out and cool), with Thomas playing some wah bass and Stefan some nasty soloing (what a sound!) before they kick it into high gear and take off again.
The regular CD ends with one of my favourite Gas Giant songs, “Storm of My Enemies,” which used to develop into monster jams live, sometimes over 20 minutes! It is a slow, psychedelic track and when the main guitar riff kicks in complimented by the bass, it is very powerful. Thomas even plays the didgeridoo on this one in the sections before the main riff takes hold. Heavy, intense, psychedelic. The CD features an unlisted track called “Holy Walker,” which was completely conceived in the studio. It is a sort of an electric ballad that came up very spontaneously and features some great guitar and passionate vocals.
Unfortunately for those who never got to see this band live, they were a real mean machine and the songs here were never played like they are on the record and Stefan always did a lot more guitar soloing live and jamming. Lucky for you guys, I recorded nearly ever live concert they played from 1999 until 2005. You can find them atwww.archive.orgunder the Live concert archive. Check out the concert from Leipzeig 2002 for a real blast. The band who made the Mana record (Elektrohasch, 2003) have reunited for a couple of special shows here in Denmark in 2012 but it is unlikely to lead to a full reunion as the guys are busy with other music projects and family obligations.
Posted in Whathaveyou on September 13th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Not exactly the timeliest reference, but I’ll give it to Øresund Space Collective anyway, because their endless space jams are so damn spacy. The amorphous Copenhagen unit will issue their 14th album, Give Your Brain a Rest from the Matrix, in a digipak on Oct. 11.
The prolific jammers may not always have the same lineup, but their vibe-heavy approach never fails to satisfy. Give Your Brain a Rest from the Matrixwas recorded in 2010 and features members of Siena Root along with Dr. Space and his merry band of tripped-out weirdos. Dig it:
ØRESUND SPACE COLLECTIVE To Release ‘Give Your Brain A Rest From The Matrix’ On October 10th, Follows Tour
Give Your Brain A Rest From The Matrix is a limited edition CD digipak and digital only release with a potential for a double LP release in the future. It is the 14th proper release by the Øresund Space Collective. The music on this release was born on Sept 26th, 2010, the same recording session as the Entering into the Space Country and Phaze your Fears.
Dr. Space says: “This was the third day of the studio session and KG from Siena Root had arrived and we were ready for some serious sitar jams. Three out of the four tracks feature sitar. PIB played the drums, Nick played the bass and they were joined by me and Mogens on synthesizer, Johan Dahlström (First Band from Outer Space), Mathias Danielsson (My Brother the Wind, Gösta Berlings Saga), well asClaus Bøhling (Hurdy Gurdy, Secret Oyster, Elektrum). KG plays guitar, Hammond, sitar and synthesizer. The music is 4 tracks, all between 10 and 25 minutes in length, with an eastern vibe and feeling and some amazing heart felt guitar. Steve, who mixed the record, provides one short synthesizer overdub on the last track on the CD.”
In addition, the band is about to kick off their first ever real tour (7 shows in 10 days). Dr. Space says: “I hope we will meet some of you on the tour. We will also have a special tour shirt made with the dates on the back. Whatever we don’t sell on the tour we will be available in the webshop. We also have 9 20x 30cm backpatches if you have some free space on your jacket!”
The tour dates are as follows:
13th Oct AKC Medika, Zagreb, Croatia
14th Oct Belgrade (with Temple of the Smoke) – this is the only one that is not set up or confirmed yet.
15th Oct Alarma Punk Jazz Fest No 8, New Alcohol Club, Sofia, Bulgaria
16th Oct Club Wire, Kumanovo, Macedonia
17th Free day
18th Oct – Maxkult, Salzburg, Austria (with Baby Woodrose!)
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 13th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Word came down last week of the passing of Ralph A. Rjeily, a respected audio engineer and contributor to the formative years of modern European heavy psychedelic, particularly in Copenhagen. Scott “Dr. Space” Heller of Øresund Space Collective, whose Altered States column premiered a couple weeks back, sent the following remembrance. The Obelisk sends condolences to Rjeily‘s family and friends.
Ralph A. Rjeily Jan. 22, 1971 – Aug. 9, 2012
Ralph A. Rjeily died of testicular cancer on August 9, 2012. He was a good friend and a prominent person in the Copenhagen underground music scene. Ralph was a father to two children and a husband, who had a very understanding and cool wife, who supported his true dedication to the Danish music scene. Ralph was a concert promoter with 3rd Tsunami and managed and did live sound with On Trial when I first met him in the late ‘90s. In 1999, together with Hobbiten (On Trial), Ralph and Lars Lundholm (Runs the Black Tornado studio where On Trial, Gas Giant, Øresund Space Collective, Baby Woodrose, Dragontears and many other bands have recorded) formed Burnt Hippie Recordings, where we released On Trial, Dark Sun, Gas Giant, WE, Korai Öröm and a compilation CD for a space rock festival that never happened. This is when I really got to know Ralph. Below I will recall a few great times we had.
I still remember well when I travelled down with Spids Nøgenhat to the really fun Swamp Room Happening in Hannover in 2000. It was a great lineup, with the Bevis Frond, Mandragora Lightshow Society, Spids Nøgenhat (the only concert they ever played outside of Denmark), Lucky Bishops, Noetics and a few other cool bands. After Ralph had done his job of doing sound he could have a good time like the rest of us. We all had a great time and someone gave Ralph some mushrooms and he and some others disappeared. We ended up having to go back to the place to crash and when we came back the next morning Ralph was nicely sleeping on the lawn in front of the club. Nick Hasselby took a picture of us all standing around him before we woke him up. Ralph was always a great guy to hang out with and have a good time.
Ralph produced the Gas Giant Pleasant Journey in Heavy Tunes (will be reviewed in detail soon on this blog for the Altered States column) session in 2000. I was working with the band at this time but not yet playing with them, while Ralph was setting up their gigs, doing their live sound and working in the studio with them so I spent a lot of time with Ralph. Some of my best memories of Ralph and Gas Giant were when we all went on tour in October 2002 with Gas Giant and Colour Haze for 5 gigs in 7 days. We started off at the Sojo in Leuven, Belgium and off to the Bern-kastel Kues for a great two days including an amazing party with Mama Cool. It was a mix of good and bad times though as Ralph came along agreeing to be paid based on how many people showed up and the turnout was pretty poor for most of these gigs so for several he got no money at all. Things really hit the fan when we got to Nurnburg and after the soundcheck, people were a bit tired and hungry, and Stefan (guitarist in Gas Giant) accidently knocked the entire container with our pasta dinner in it on the floor. Ralph was so pissed off and stormed out of the venue. Most of us had got our food. We went to a bar and had a beer and then went looking for Ralph. He was sitting in McDonalds not looking happy and we were all looking in through the side window at him and he did not see us. Later he came back did the great sound and saw an amazing Gas Giant show with some killer long jams and later a jam with Colour Haze as well. These were fantastic concerts and great times with both bands just really having a great time and jamming a lot. It showed another side of Ralph but he was truly dedicated to the tour, despite coming home with little money.
Ralph eventually left 3rd Tsumani and for a while was an independent booker before joining Anders and Gearbox Agency the last many years. He also was part of the Route66 vinyl-only store in Copenhagen after the original owner sold the place. For many years he was the only person bringing stoner and psychedelic rock to Copenhagen from the late ‘90s up until the present. He was truly dedicated and really got so many cool bands here that would probably never have played in Denmark. He managed to get Nebula, Atomic Bitchwax, and all of these bands on their first tours of Europe. When he was on tour with On Trial or Baby Woodrose, he would always try to record the shows and give me the mini-discs so that I could do the transfers of the shows to CD. I was able to archive a lot of great shows this way.
Later, Ralph would begin working a lot more in the studio and less on the live sound scene and he did live sound for nearly every On Trial, Baby Woodrose, Dragontears, Aron and related band concert up until the last few years when he became ill. In the last six months I had four or five 45 min or longer talks with Ralph about what he was going through and he was always so positive even though it was a difficult struggle and he really suffered during these chemotherapy sessions. Ralph, earlier this year he told me that if this last one did not work, he would not do anymore but try to enjoy the rest of his time with his family.
Ralph was a dedicated person and someone I really respected. Please put on one of the many records that he mixed, engineered and worked on.This list at Discogsis nowhere near complete though as Ralph worked with many artists in Denmark, Sweden and the USA. Please celebrate what he gave us all… Peace Ralph… you were a good friend.
Posted in Reviews on April 18th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
If you’re Baby Woodrose frontman and principle songwriter Lorenzo Woodrose, the only place to go at this point is further out. On the band’s sixth album, Third Eye Surgery (Bad Afro Records), they do precisely that, pushing the established heavy psychedelic pop into more ethereal realms without sacrificing the structures and strong sense of composition that always makes the Copenhagen band’s work so memorable. Woodrose, also of Dragontears and once of the defunct On Trial, is the steering figure guiding the band down their path of lysergic enlightenment, and one can only assume from the title Third Eye Surgery, which connotes some willful act undertaken to open or repair one’s own metaphysical awareness, that he’s conscious of the shifts in sound he’s made over the course of these nine tracks. In conjunction with engineer Anders Onsberg, Woodrose also produced the record, so that goes even more toward proving the argument. But what stands out most about Third Eye Surgery, despite the periodic bursts of sitar on songs like “Nothing is Real” or the duet with vocalist Emma Acs on “Dandelion,” is what always stands out most about Baby Woodrose, and that’s the quality of the songwriting. Woodrose is a master of classic psych, and as he’s been doing it with Baby Woodrose now for over a decade since 2001’s Blows Your Mind! – most recently, he revisited the demos from which that album was birthed on 2011’s Mindblowing Seeds and Disconnected Flowers (review here) – his approach is well honed and his methods provide results that are varied sonically but unwavering in their superiority of execution. That is, Woodrose and his bandmates, bassist Riky “The Moody Guru” Woodrose and drummer Rocco “Fuzz Daddy” Woodrose, aren’t necessarily the first to be doing what they do, but they’re unquestionably among the best out there currently doing it, and by the time Third Eye Surgery winds down to the spacious closer “Honalee,” on which the drums drop out to let the guitar and vocals culminate the album’s unceasing swirl, Woodrose has long since shown that Baby Woodrose is beholden to no one so much as their own creative will.
Eastern influences permeate several of Third Eye Surgery’s highlights, from the aforementioned “Nothing is Real” to the slower march of the lyrically darker centerpiece, “Bullshit Detector,” which also closes side A if you’re listening to the vinyl, but the record launches with a strong trio of under-three-minute cuts that reaffirm Baby Woodrose’s pop dominance. Opener “Down to the Bottom” wastes no time in getting to one of the collection’s strongest choruses, but never comes off rushed or relinquishes its suitably dreamy feel, Woodrose keeping his characteristic early-Dave Wyndorfian vocal patterns intact as organs and guitars comingle. The album as a whole sounds bright but lyrics like, “Down to the bottom, where I belong” and indeed the whole of “Waiting for the War,” which follows, are darker and add complexity to the Baby Woodrose aesthetic. You can’t say it’s all upbeat, all the time, no matter what the tempo might be. “Waiting for the War” is near-industrial in its sound, and it’s not until the verse opens to the chorus that the song provides any hint of hope, and even that seems dashed by the cynical title lyric, “There’s a new game in town and it’s called waiting for the war.” As ever, Woodrose’s lyrical sensibility is writ large all over Third Eye Surgery, and “Waiting for the War” works best in the context of the album because it shifts the focus early on, does so quickly (at 2:27, it is the shortest track), and then promptly gives way to “Dandelion,” on which Woodrose is joined in a call and response by Acs, whose voice complements well the late-‘60s tonal luster and Woodrose’s own druggy vibes. The song has no chorus to speak of, and so represents a structural shift from the first two songs, though the lines, “You could show me how you feel, I could show you how I feel” is repeated several times, serving a roughly similar function despite a less-perceptible musical change than “Waiting for the War” or “Down to the Bottom.” The lyrics mark a turn too from the musically-contrasting depression or socially-conscious nihilism. They are sweet and more pointedly emotional.
It’s the breadth of these three initial cuts, however, that most impresses. In under eight minutes, Baby Woodrose has established a deceptively long stride from one cut to the next while keeping hold of a flow as well, and though “It’s Just a Ride” and “Bullshit Detector” maintain the spaced-out mood that’s so far presented itself on Third Eye Surgery musically, they also begin to expand on the straightforwardness of structure. “It’s Just a Ride” opens with tandem organ and fuzz guitar and moves into distant, echoing leads and a bouncing verse and catchy chorus that’s a highlight in terms of bass performance. The extra time between “It’s Just a Ride” (4:07) and, say, “Dandelion” (2:31) before it, is given largely to a more extended, mostly-instrumental ending, but that also works to set up “Bullshit Detector,” the longest song on the album at 5:48. Woodrose is able to quickly entrance listeners, and the end of “It’s Just a Ride” does exactly that, so when it gives way to the (once more) organ intro of “Bullshit Detector,” the change is subtle and smooth, and when “Bullshit Detector” is unfolding, it does so without a sense of indulgence, but with one of grandeur. Perhaps it’s the pointedly grounded lyrics that offsets some of the psychedelic exploring – similar to the opener in that way – but “Bullshit Detector,” as far out as it goes, never feels like it’s gone too far. Instead, it closes side A with a heady groove and an engaging section led by (appropriately enough) layers of lead guitar that add a naturalistic, jam-based feel. Third Eye Surgery is especially rich compared to some of Baby Woodrose’s more garage-sounding past outings, but as side B commences with “Nothing is Real” and the sitar shows up for the first time, it’s clear there’s still territory Lorenzo and company are looking to cover that they haven’t yet.
Posted in audiObelisk on March 30th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
This isn’t the first time I’ve streamed audio from Copenhagen space-jamming instrumentalists Øresund Space Collective, but even if you go back and take another listen to the tracks previously posted from the albums Dead Man in Space and Entering into the Space Country, you’ll find that the material on the band’s new album, West, Space and Love is completely different.
Some things haven’t changed. The band is still driven by Scott “Dr. Space” Heller (seen above), and the material on West, Space and Love is — like most if not all of Øresund Space Collective‘s remarkably substantial discography — totally improvised. What sets West, Space and Love apart from prior Øresund Space Collective outings, though, is that Heller teamed up with percussionist Billy “Love” Forsberg and organist/guitarist/sitarist KG West, both of the organic Swedish heavy jam outfit Siena Root.
The partnership resulted in West, Space and Love, which as its name would indicate makes the most of its three contributors. West and Love bring some of Siena Root‘s ultra-natural vibing to the quiet, headphone-and-nighttime-ready songs, and Dr. Space, as ever, proves why he earned that degree at the University of Hawkwind, Copenhagen campus. It’s a quiet-sounding album, but the mood the three come up with off the cuff stands up to anything in the realm of heavy psychedelia, and in the context of the ongoing evolution of Øresund Space Collective, is even more of a fascinating listen.
Hopefully, you agree and enjoy these tracks:
Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!
Posted in Features on February 8th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
[NOTE: This giveaway is now over. Thanks to everyone who entered.]
You might recall a couple weeks ago when I posted the stream of Danish metallers Rising‘s debut full-length, To Solemn Ash, in its entirety. Well, the album got a pretty killer response from people saying they dug it, so I beat down the doors at Exile on Mainstream and begged for some copies to give away.
Lo and behold, sitting on my desk right now are a whopping FIVE digipak CDs, just waiting to go out the door. If you want one — and I think you do — just leave a comment to this post.
Now, if you’re wondering where the entry form is that I used for the last few times, I’ve spent this whole week deleting an onslaught of spam from the King Giant contest. Safe to say the robots know we’re here. So in an effort to avoid some of that, Slevin suggested comments instead.
You don’t have to say much of anything in the comment, just make sure your email is included with your name so I have a way to tell you you’ve won. If you want to leave your address there, you can, but if you’re iffy about it, that’s fine too. Doesn’t affect me picking the winner either way.
And if you need an immediate refresher course as to Rising‘s potent blend of heavy riffs and melodies, I’ll kindly refer you to the Bandcamp player below:
Winners will be picked next Wednesday, Feb. 15. Happy commenting, and thanks to Rising, Earsplit PR and Exile on Mainstream for making this happen. To Solemn Ash is available now. For more info, check out Rising‘s website or the label’s website.
Posted in audiObelisk on January 17th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
The album came out last autumn in Europe, but is just today finally seeing its North American release, and to celebrate, Danish metallers Rising and their label, Exile on Mainstream, have been kind enough to let me stream the band’s debut full-length, To Solemn Ash, front to back. It’s a record that runs the gamut of modern heavy, sounding on a song like “Passage” as the poppiness of Mastodon‘s The Hunter might have had it not been so overly processed and reminding of Entombed‘s deathly grit on “The Vault.” The 10 tracks are catchy and heavy in equal proportion, balancing brutality and melody with precision and a feel that is neither amateurish nor contrived.
Interplay between bassist/vocalist Henrik W. Hald and guitarist/backing vocalist Jacob Krogholt is a central source of melody, the latter bolstering the rough, lower register of the former with harmonic shouting that fits well alongside the subtle complexity of the arrangements. Later track “Heir to Flames” works in Leviathan-esque acoustics, but by the time closer “Seven Riders” thunders its stop-start riff upside your skull, even the Torche-worthy chorus feels like one more tool serving to enhance the crushing sound.
Rounded out by Jacob Johansen‘s steady pulse on drums, Rising‘s first record is remarkably assured in its aesthetic, heavy as fuck and delivered with authority. Please feel free to find that out for yourself by streaming To Solemn Ash on the player below.
Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!
Introducing the band and the album, Hald says:
“Hello everyone! We are Rising, a heavy metal three-piece from Denmark. Back in October, we released our debut album To Solemn Ash in Europe via Exile On Mainstream. Now the time has come to make it available to the States. We are super excited about our album being released on another continent and hope to follow up with a tour one day. You can stream the entire album right here on The Obelisk. Enjoy and stay heavy on the heavy!”
Posted in Reviews on November 30th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
Reduced by one guitar, the now-foursome Fuzz Manta made their return earlier in 2011 with the sophomore outing, Opus II, on CD and vinyl through Gateway Music. I wasn’t a huge fan of their 2009 Smokerings debut, finding it mostly generic but for the standout vocals of soulful frontwoman Lene Kjaer Hvillum, but with Opus II, the Copenhagen natives bring more elements of classic rock and blues to complement their natural-sounding fuzz, and the results are surprisingly impressive across the eight songs. Hvillum is still in the lead role and provides the album its several high points, but being down a guitar has forced Fuzz Manta to be more creative stylistically, and the added organ work of Jesper Bo Hansen melds gorgeously with the band’s sound. Hansen appears on three tracks – the early “Man with No Face” and side B’s closing duo “Corrosion” and “Let Me Walk” – adding rich melody alongside the vintage-style distortion of Frederik Jensen’s guitar and letting bassist Morten Clod-Svensson and drummer/recording engineer Pelle Moltke have room to flesh out the grooves in the rhythm section – which they don’t seem to have much trouble doing anyway, even on the songs without organ. As the album gets moving with opener “Motumann,” the shifts in their aesthetic are almost immediately apparent.
The groove is primary. The guitars and bass insistent. The drums forceful. The vocals perfectly cadenced. Fuzz Manta, from the very first minute of Opus II, sound like a more confident, more stylistically nuanced and more individual band than they did on Smokerings. “Motumann” strikes early with one of the record’s catchiest choruses, and offers a subdued break in its middle that foreshadows some of Opus II’s bluesier material. They cut the tempo behind Jensen’s solo and nod toward doom without ever really getting there or losing their rock sensibility, and through it all and the final chorus return, Clod-Svensson and Moltke sound like they could go anywhere with ease. That proves fortunate as “Man with No Face” begins with tempo and riff cadence similar to Deep Purple’s “Strange Kind of Woman” – Hansen’s organ only furthering the comparison as it works in Jon Lord-esque tandem with Jensen’s guitar. The bridge layers in acoustic guitar among the electric and organ, bass and drums, as Hvillum reiterates and reinterprets the chorus with jazzy flow. It’s not surprising when the rush returns and the song returns to its verse/chorus pattern, but the solo section and final chorus satisfy anyway in a way they might not have on Smokerings, and as if to confirm the growth of Fuzz Manta’s songwriting, the mostly acoustic “Quiet Monday” balances a breathy Stevie Nicks delivery from Hvillum over folksy Led Zeppelin picking and percussion. While the turn in approach might seem abrupt and maybe cutting short the momentum the first two tracks have built up, in the context of heavy ‘70s traditionalism, it makes more sense and sets up the riffier side A finale, “Lithia’s Box” to seem that much heavier with its layered rhythm and solo guitars, which gradually give way to Opus II’s first showing of the jam, where Clod-Svensson’s running bass makes me most regret the fadeout that cuts the song at 8:39.
Posted in Whathaveyou on November 18th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
That must have been some jam session back in 2008 for Øresund Space Collective to get three albums out of it. And it’s not like they’re skimping on the forthcoming Sleeping with the Sunworm — the thing is 56 minutes long! One huge jam with some minor overdubs, as you’ll see below, and the somewhat amorphous collective have another one in the can. 11 records in six years. Bless their improvising spaceprog hearts.
This came through on the PR wire:
This is the 11th release by the completely improvised space rock band from the Øresund region in Scandinavia. The band is mainly made up of members from Copenhagen, Denmark and the Malmö, Sweden area. This is the last of the material from the October 2008 studio session that gave us the Dead Man in Space and Slip into the Vortex releases. The music on this CD is one long 56-minute space rock jam!
Says Dr. Space: “We split it into three parts for ease of play. It starts very slow heavy and spacey with a massive sound, before the track heads into a new directions with some beautiful guitar. An uptempo section develops after 15 or so minutes and features some intense guitar and synthesizer interaction. Due to an out of tune synthesizer, a new synthesizer section was overdubbed by Mogens. Magnus also replaced one of his guitar sections but other than these two small sections it is a completely improvised piece of music. Enjoy! A heavy and emotional piece of music.”
Sleeping with the Sunworm was recorded and mixed at the BlackTornado studio in Copenhagen. Mastered in Göteborg by HenrikUdd. The players were: Magnus – space guitar/synth, Stefan – space guitar, Jocke – bass, Kaufmann – drums and percussion, Dr. Space – synths, Mogens – synths. The album is due in December and is a limited digipak hand-numbered edition of 500.
Posted in audiObelisk on September 13th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
If you count live albums, limited CDRs and studio offerings, the combination Danish/Swedish outfit Øresund Space Collective have a total of 25 releases under their belt since 2005. Being a fan of the ridiculously prolific in general, it’s hard not to stand in awe of that level of output and that kind of commitment to making music. So far in 2011, they’ve released four studio records.
A rotating cast of a lineup featuring members of Gas Giant, Siena Root, Sula Bassana and countless others means each Øresund Space Collective offering is going to have a different edge to it, and since the music is always instrumental and always improvised, you’re bound to run into some variation on the traditional Hawkwindian space rock theme.
In terms of the inevitable “where to start?” question, I don’t think there’s any other way to go about it except to dive right in. They’ve got five full records streaming and available for purchase on their Bandcamp page, but I was granted permission to host a couple tracks here from 2011 albums Dead Man in Space and Entering into the Space Country, so I figured 40 minutes over the course of two songs should be enough to give some impression of what Øresund Space Collective are all about. Hope you dig it:
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“Space Jazz Jam 2.2″ is taken from Dead Man in Space, was recorded in October, 2008, and released April, 2011. “Born Between Stars” comes from Entering into the Space Country, was recorded September, 2010, and released August, 2011. More info on Øresund Space Collective and their epic discography is here.
Posted in Reviews on March 29th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
When we last heard from him, Copenhagen preacher of the lysergic Lorenzo Woodrose was telling us to turn on, tune in and fuck off with the collective Dragontears. Now back under the moniker Baby Woodrose – the band taking its name from the Hawaiian baby woodrose plant, whose seeds are known to have psychotropic effects on those who eat them – our man Lorenzo takes us back to the very roots of the band with Mindblowing Seeds and Disconnected Flowers (released by Bad Afro). The 15-track, 39-minute full-length is a collection of the earliest Baby Woodrose demos, written and recorded by Woodrose during a rough patch in 1999 that had him crashing on the couch of his then-bandmate in On Trial and current-bandmate in Dragontears, The Hobbit and coming up with over 50 songs’ worth of material following a series of trips with the seeds from which he now takes his last name. He recounts the time in the liner tray of the digipak Mindblowing Seeds and Disconnected Flowers comes in (the gorgeously psychedelic artwork of Kiryk Drewinski both inside the package and out is also worth noting), and the result is that the album, in addition to functioning as a complete full-length with a flow one song to the next, also gives followers of Baby Woodrose an idea never before available of how the band began and just how central Woodrose himself has always been to the process.
Apart from a cover of The Illusions’ 1966 single “City of People,” all of Mindblowing Seeds and Disconnected Flowers is comprised of Woodrose original songs, and even though they are simple in terms of structure – it’s supposed to be; the garage rock elements of Baby Woodrose’s sound really comes out here – it’s still an impressive feat, and no doubt Woodrose had his work cut out for him in mixing, mastering and whittling down the glut of material for this release. Those familiar with Baby Woodrose will revel in the chance to revisit some of their earliest cuts – most would appear on the eventual 2001 debut, Blows Your Mind! – but even for someone who hasn’t followed the band over the course of their career, the immediacy with which these songs hit speaks for itself. In comparing these versions to the final album tracks, these have a directness to them even apart from the rawer feel of the recording. They’re definitely rough, but they show Woodrose’s talent for songwriting and love of mid to late ‘60s psych, as well as awareness of what was happening in the international stoner scene at the time. His voice, as ever, reminds in its inflection of Monster Magnet’s Dave Wyndorf, and he plays the rest of the instruments on Mindblowing Seeds and Disconnected Flowers, so it’s about as much a solo venture as you can get.
Posted in Reviews on January 12th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
The focus is aural crush for two-guitar Danish trio Double Space, who make their debut with a self-titled, self-released 12” vinyl. The single (you could probably call it an EP if you wanted, I don’t think the band would mind) is just over 12 minutes long, and the members of Double Space offer modern pummel in varying paces throughout, keeping an eye on the balance between nasty-sounding riffs and creating a tension in the music and vocals. Double Space begins with the longer of its two tracks, “Bent,” which immediately introduces listeners to the band’s hefty sound via a surprising amount of low end for a group without a bassist, drum hits (and killer fills) from Per Silkjêr and, before too long, a frantic intensity that plays well off dronier tendencies. They make the most of their feedback, for sure, but there’s more to Double Space than just stoner riffs and crashing cymbals.
Guitarists Mikko Mansikkala Jensen and Rasmus Rosenkilde Jensen work well together, keeping hold of the riff while also pushing “Bent” into noise rock crunch before drawing back to a mid-paced section. The vocals, delivered by the latter Jensen and Silkjêr are shouts, but they’re mixed incredibly well, so that if you want to focus on them in listening, you can, but they’re never so far forward as to be dominant over the riffs and leads – which for the kind of chaos Double Space are creating, is just the way it should be. The second side of the 12” is devoted to “The Rock,” literally and figuratively. Shorter than its predecessor by a full minute at 5:39, “The Rock” is more consistent in terms of tempo, and based on a grooving riff that’s positively lethal and perfectly executed. Silkjêr’s performance is again a highlight of the Double Space approach, and as said riff crashes head-first into plodding doom (a turn the band seems adept at making), the drummer is all the more in the position of grounding the song, which he does excellently.
Posted in Reviews on December 1st, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
The populous Danish outfit Dragontears specialize in a brand of heavy psychedelic pop that you simply don’t find in the American scene. Not only is the group’s third album, Turn on Tune in Fuck Off!! (Bad Afro), blissed out and loaded with all the synth swirls, backing vocals, electric tones and whathaveyou that you can handle, it’s also undeniably pop-driven, with at least the first several of its total six tracks boasting catchy classic psych choruses that, the more you hear them, the more you want to hear them again. Fans of heavy Europsych will recognize fronting figure Lorenzo Woodrose from the long-running and still very much active Baby Woodrose, and Dragontears also boasts members of On Trial… and probably five other bands. Hey, there are eight people. It’s bound to happen.
Joining Woodrose, who handles bass, guitar, drums and organ (it’s a rotating cast, and given the fact that no one seems to do just one thing, one gets the impression that whoever picks up whatever instrument and makes noise with it gets to handle it for that song or given period of time), are The Hobbit, Ralph A. Rjeily, Anders “Evil Jebus” Onsberg, Moody Guru, Fuzz Daddy, Lars Von Lundholm, Emma Acs, Sebastian Winther and The Adam. If the personnel doesn’t say it enough, Dragontears is more of a collective of friends built around Woodrose and a couple other core contributors than a band with a set lineup composing songs. The approach is dangerous, as it could lead to uneven songwriting and an incongruous flow that could be the undoing of an album like Turn on Tune in Fuck Off!!, but with Woodrose’s vocals as the element most up-front, Dragontears avoids any such issues. The album’s flow is linear, despite the break into farther-out space territory with “Time of No Time” four tracks in, and moves easily, especially in the latter half, where druggy hypnosis takes hold and the psychedelic haze seems to float one song to the next.