Quarterly Review: Spiritual Beggars, Øresund Space Collective, Goya, Black Shape of Nexus, Cough, Oranssi Pazuzu, Karma to Burn, Black Mood, Nebula Drag, Ommadon

Posted in Reviews on June 21st, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

the-obelisk-summer-2016-quarterly-review

Day Two of The Obelisk’s Summer 2016 Quarterly Review — that’s an awful lot of capital letters. I’m not sure if it’s quite such a formal occasion, but perhaps that’s just an effect of staring at some of the names in this particular batch, who from classic heavy rock to post-black metal to stoner riffs, drone, doom and beyond offer a pretty vast range and more than a small measure of profile throughout. It’s a substantial swath, is what I’m saying. If you can’t find something here to dig on, well, I’d say look again, but of course there’ll also be another 10 reviews tomorrow, Thursday and Friday, and there were 10 yesterday as well, so I’m sure something will turn up if it hasn’t yet. Here we go.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Spiritual Beggars, Sunrise to Sundown

spiritual beggars sunrise to sundown

More than 20 years on from their self-titled debut, Sweden’s Spiritual Beggars release their ninth LP, Sunrise to Sundown (on Inside Out Music). They seem to have set themselves to the sole task of making the records that one wishes Deep Purple were making, full of righteous organ-laced classic heavy thrust, driven by top tier songwriting and performance on every level. Founding guitarist Michael Amott (also Carcass) has assembled a lineup of masters, and since 2010’s Return to Zero (review here), frontman Apollo Papathanasio (also Firewind) has provided the soaring voice to add to the keyboard majesty of Per Wiberg (ex-Opeth, Candlemass) on songs like “I Turn to Stone.” The album’s 11 cuts are catchy, universally structured, and varied in their feel enough to carry the listener through fluidly, bassist Sharlee D’Angelo (Mercyful Fate) and drummer Ludwig Witt (ex-Firebird) locking in weighted grooves and underscoring the flow of what comes across like an increasingly collaborative songwriting process. Sunrise to Sundown is the sound of a band knowing what they want to do and how they want to do it and then doing precisely that.

Spiritual Beggars on Thee Facebooks

Inside Out Music website

 

Øresund Space Collective, Ode to a Black Hole

oresund space collective ode to a black hole

How many records does Ode to a Black Hole make it for Danish improve spacelords Øresund Space Collective? I honestly don’t know. Their Bandcamp lists 52 releases. Granted, not all of them are full-length studio LPs, but they jam whether they’re live or in the studio, so after a point it’s kind of moot. However many in the ultimate tally, Ode to a Black Hole is somewhat unique among them, exploring the darker side of the cosmic reaches in a bleaker, droning psychedelia spread across two instrumental tracks put to tape at the same time as 2015’s triple-LP Different Creatures (review here). Of course, it’s Øresund Space Collective, so there is still plenty of synth and effects swirl to be had, but it’s a slower galaxial movement as “Ode to a Black Hole Part 1” feeds directly into “Ode to a Black Hole Part 2.” Whatever their method of getting there, Øresund Space Collective prove once again how apparently boundless their scope has become with nuance of guitar and key flourish beneath the surface of the mix to let the listener know there’s life out in the expanse.

Øresund Space Collective on Thee Facebooks

Øresund Space Collective on Bandcamp

 

Goya, The Enemy

goya the enemy

Phoenix, Arizona’s Goya continue their forward march with The Enemy EP (on STB Records). Still fair to say Electric Wizard are a primary influence, but as shown on their last full-length, 2015’s charmingly-titled Obelisk (review here), the trio are increasingly able to put more of themselves into their sound. In “The Enemy,” “Last” and “Light Years,” that shows in tighter songwriting, some vocal harmonies on “Light Years,” and a harder overall tonal impact than the tenets of post-Witchcult Today doomery might lead one to expect, reminding in parts of the raw in-room feel that Egypt have come to proffer, burly but more about groove than attitude. The EP closes with a nine-minute take on “The Enemy” itself, adding more harmonies, some screams at the end, and a lengthy midsection jam to flesh out its extra four minutes. Goya have been and still are a bright spot (existentially, if not in mood) in up-and-coming US doom, and The Enemy might be a stopgap coming off of Obelisk, but it reminds listeners of their growth very much still in progress.

Goya on Thee Facebooks

STB Records

 

Black Shape of Nexus, Carrier

black shape of nexus carrier

In a universe full of pretenders to the throne of Eyehategod, German six-piece Black Shape of Nexus prove there’s room for genuine creativity in sludge. Their fourth offering, Carrier (on Exile on Mainstream), finds them past the 10-year mark and lumbering their way through five varied originals, from the cavernous opener “I Can’t Play It” through the droning “Lift Yourself” and the utter spacecrush that ensues in “Facepunch Transport Layer” before the villainous laughter at the end of “Sachsenheim” leads to a 12-minute take on Hellhammer’s “Triumph of Death,” which closes. It feels like no coincidence that of the Black Shape of Nexus-penned inclusions “Sand Mountain” is the centerpiece; the tortured screaming, claustrophobic riff and blend of rawness and lush depth speak to the originality at the core of their approach. There’s a firm sense of fuckall here, and my understanding is making Carrier was something of a trial, but the results are perhaps only more vicious for that, and thus stronger.

Black Shape of Nexus on Thee Facebooks

Exile on Mainstream Records website

 

Cough, Still They Pray

cough still they pray

Six years and the ascent of an entire movement of similarly-minded acts later, Cough ooze back to activity with Still They Pray (on Relapse), their dirt-caked third full-length. That movement, by the way, includes fellow Richmonders Windhand, with whom Cough now share bassist Parker Chandler and whose Garrett Morris recorded here along with Jus Oborn of Electric Wizard, who remain a major influence in Cough’s grueling, nodding filth, brought to bear over eight tracks and a purposefully unmanageable 67-minute runtime. Stylistically it’s not so far from where Cough were on 2010’s Ritual Abuse (review here), the bleak anarchistic lurch and tonal immersion still very much at the fore of “Possession,” “Dead Among the Roses” and the organ-inclusive “The Wounding Hours,” but though they can play slow enough to make “Masters of Torture” seem positively thrashy by comparison, they never lose their sense of atmosphere, as the acoustic-led closing title-track makes plain in fashion no less heavy than the punishment meted out before it.

Cough on Thee Facebooks

Relapse Records website

 

Oranssi Pazuzu, Värähtelijä

oranssi pazuzu varahtelija

It feels factually inaccurate to call something so wilfully charred “vibrant,” but Oranssi Pazuzu’s fourth long-player, Värähtelijä (on Svart and 20 Buck Spin), not only finds light in its overarching darkness, but makes it a pivotal aspect of the album’s 69-minute course. Open structures, an enviable depth of mix between far-off guitar, keys, organ, various layers of screams, etc., songs like 12-minute opener “Saturaatio” and the later 17-minute chaoswirl of “Vasemann Käden Hierarkia” offer stylistic breadth as much prog as they are psychedelia or black metal, perhaps the next phase of the latter’s cosmic wing come to fruition. Relatively speaking, the more straightforward “Havuluu” offers listeners a moment to catch their breadth, but the organ-led experimentalism of 10-minute closer “Valveavaruus” gurgles in an exploration of ambient downward plunge. One of the most adventurous black metal releases of 2016, if you can still even tag a genre to it, which I’m not sure you can. A band doing pivotal and forward-thinking work.

Oranssi Pazuzu on Thee Facebooks

20 Buck Spin webshop

Svart Records webshop

 

Karma to Burn, Mountain Czar

karma to burn mountain czar

Though they just got off a lengthy US run, the fact that Karma to Burn’s webstore offers their new Mountain Czar EP in euro instead of dollars could easily be taken as a sign of where the band’s general priorities lie. I don’t know if founding guitarist Will Mecum is actually living abroad or remains in West Virginia, but their label, Rodeostar Records, is European, they maintain a close relationship with German artist Alexander Von Wieding, and their tour schedule keeps a definite continental focus. So be it. Mountain Czar brings five new cuts, three by-the-numbers Karma to Burn instrumentals, the highlight of which is patient, jangly-guitar closer “63,” and “Uccidendo un Sogno,” an Italian-language cover of Tom Petty’s “Runnin’ down a Dream” sung by guest vocalist Stefanie Savy and featuring Manuel Bissig of Switzerland’s Sons of Morpheus on guitar. Karma to Burn very much remain Karma to Burn throughout, Mecum joined by drummer Evan Devine and bassist Eric Clutter, but they’re changing what that means in interesting ways.

Karma to Burn website

Rodeostar Records

 

Black Mood, Squalid Garden

black mood squalid garden

Comprised solely of guitarist/vocalist Sleaze and drummer Izz, German Southern metallers Black Mood begin their seven-song sophomore outing, Squalid Garden (on Daredevil Records) with a sample of Cornelius from Planet of the Apes quoting the Lawgiver to “shun the beast man,” and so on. By the time they get around to the chugging and warbling “Ohh, save my soul” in second cut “IWNAR,” the Down/Crowbar vibe has been laid on so thick that it’s unmistakable. It’s been seven years since Black Mood made their self-titled debut in 2009 – they had an EP, Toxic Hippies, out in 2012 – but their chestbeating, dudely vibes are easily sourced, even in faster, more Pantera-style moments in “Reflected,” “100 Squalid Garden” or closer “Side,” making the album ultimately a matter of taste for anyone who’d take it on. For me, some aspects ring derivative, others show flashes of individualism, but it’s a very specific vision of Southern metal at work here, and it’s not going to be for everyone.

Black Mood on Bandcamp

Daredevil Records webshop

 

Nebula Drag, Nebula Drag

nebula-drag-nebula-drag

Newcomers Nebula Drag join the ranks of a crowded heavy psych scene in their native San Diego via their self-titled, self-released debut, but the trio distinguish themselves immediately with a solidified underpinning of punkish intent, so that the airy vocals of “Sano” float over an insistent, noisy crunch. That blend is toyed with in one direction or another throughout the release, the five-minute “So Low” finding some middle-ground in grunge push, but as the subsequent “Up and Down”’s Melvins-style roll and the hardcore-style drive of “Lost Time” play out, Nebula Drag seem far less tied to any single approach. It’s a dynamic that serves them well throughout the album’s 10-track/37-minute run, and they maintain a sense of rawness in the almost thrashy breakdown of “I Can Not Explain” that speaks to a lack of pretense to go along with their potential for development. Will be curious to hear if one side or the other wins out in their sound over the long-term, but in a town where so many bands are geared on being the most laid back, it’s refreshing to hear a group with a more forceful tack.

Nebula Drag on Thee Facebooks

Nebula Drag on Bandcamp

 

Ommadon, Ommadon

ommadon ommadon

After a series of numbered full-lengths, Glasgow consciousness-stompers Ommadon offer their self-titled sixth album through Dry Cough Records, Burning World Records and Medusa Crush Recordings. Doubtless the three labels were needed in order simply lift the 41-minute, single-song release, which is so unspeakably and ridiculously heavy as to warrant comparison to Buried at Sea’s Migration. Its retching lumber is superlative, and in giving it their name, Ommadon signal (and say outright) that it’s the work they’ve been driving toward all along. Fair enough. There is no moment of relenting from the abysmal intentions of “Ommadon” itself, and if this is to be the piece that ultimately defines the band, it’s one worthy of consideration for the outright extremity it brings to doom, sludge and drone, as well as the methodical nature in which it unfolds. Whatever its ultimate impact, Ommadon have pushed themselves forward and crafted an excruciating contribution that feels like a monolith bent to their will.

Ommadon on Thee Facebooks

Dry Cough Records webshop

Burning World Records

Medusa Crush Recordings on Bandcamp

 

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Telstar Sound Drone Post Video for “Your Finger Stirs the Liquid Moon”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 20th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

telstar sound drone

Far out Danish spacegazers Telstar Sound Drone issued their second record, Magical Solutions to Everyday Struggles (review here), earlier this year on Bad Afro Records, and this September, they’ll play the label’s recently-announced 20th anniversary party in Copenhagen. Perhaps as a means of introducing heads to their next-phase psychedelic drift, the band have posted a new video for the track “Your Finger Stirs the Liquid Moon” that winds up being as drenched-in-reverb lysergic as the title would make one hope. We’re talking like staring-at-the-wall-and-watching-it-breathe hypnotic.

That’s ultimately where Telstar Sound Drone make their most resonant impression — that ability to hook the listener without hooks, to entrance via slow-moving waveform repetitions, expressive and not still but affecting all the same, drawing on drone’s evocative elements without being necessarily tied to a single hum throughout the album’s span. Magical Solutions to Everyday Struggles is the follow-up to their 2013 debut, Comedown, and sees the Baby Woodrose-connected troupe moving into their own sphere of organic, lush psychedelics. As I said when I reviewed it, it’s not upbeat — though parts qualify as active — but it’s an exciting album all the same for what it brings aesthetically forward and how fluidly it moves through its tracks.

If you haven’t heard it, imagine “Your Finger Stirs the Liquid Moon,” but expanding in all directions the way water does when you pour it slowly on a flat surface. The video is pretty dark, but does well to set a mood. You’ll find it below.

Please enjoy:

Telstar Sound Drone, “Your Finger Stirs the Liquid Moon” official video

Video for “Your Fingers Stir The Liquid Moon”, The closing track of the a-side of “Magical Solutions To Everyday Struggles” by Telstar Sound Drone.

VHS-glitches is found material, originating from a collection of VHS artifacts.

Telstar Sound Drone website

Telstar Sound Drone on Thee Facebooks

Bad Afro Records website

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Baby Woodrose Release New Single in “Open Doors” Video; Freedom out Sept. 16

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 17th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

baby woodrose

Danish garage-psych masters Baby Woodrose release their seventh LP, Freedom, in September via Bad Afro Records. The Lorenzo Woodrose-led outfit have released a couple compilations in the last few years, but their last proper album was 2012’s excellent Third Eye Surgery (review here), which found Woodrose and company expanding their sonic palette to find a rare balance between lush layers of keys and a still-accessible underlying garage structure. Given their past work, I expect Freedom to be nothing but another step forward, and so consider it high among my most anticipated albums for the rest of 2016. In short, I’m dying to hear it.

The band, who were also recently announced as taking part in Bad Afro‘s 20th anniversary party in September (info here) alongside Telstar Sound Drone and Narcosatanicos and will have a limited-run 7″ single out to mark that occasion, have given a sampling of what Freedom might have in store in a new video for “Open Doors,” the first single from the record. In my looking forward to the new release, I had Third Eye Surgery on yesterday, and “Open Doors” does indeed work in the same sphere somewhat in terms of its overall approach — as it invariably would — but I wouldn’t necessarily count on it to represent the full breadth of the impending offering (the label feels the same, apparently) as Baby Woodrose always tend to have a trick up their collective sleeve.

Video for “Open Doors” follows here, with more info off the PR wire from Bad Afro.

Enjoy:

Baby Woodrose, “Open Doors” official video

Baby Woodrose – Open Doors

Open Doors is the first new Baby Woodrose song since the Third Eye Surgery album came out in 2012. It’s also the first single from the upcoming album Freedom due out September 16th on Bad Afro Records. Baby Woodrose is an iconic band on the Danish psych scene who released their debut album Blows Your Mind back in 2001 and Freedom will be their 7th album. Open Doors is the sound of summer and may not really represent the upcoming album that contains a wide range of harder psychedelic sounds.

Baby Woodrose on Thee Facebooks

Bad Afro Records website

Bad Afro Records on Thee Facebooks

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Bad Afro Records Celebrates 20th Anniversary

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 9th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

Congratulations to Bad Afro Records on celebrating the label’s 20th anniversary in 2016. Under normal circumstances, I might not necessarily post about a one-off gig five months from now in Copenhagen, but as it happens I respect the shit out of Bad Afro‘s taste — second to none in an appreciation of forward-thinking-but-still-classically-derived garage and psych rock, as releases from Baby WoodroseTelstar Sound DroneDragontears, Spids Nøgenhat and On Trial can attest — and so the imprint marking two decades seems like a more than worthy occasion.

The show will feature Bad Afro mainstays Baby Woodrose, who have a new record, Freedom, due in September, as well as Telstar Sound Drone, who issued the excellent Magical Solutions to Everyday Struggles (review here) earlier this year, and Narcosatanicos, whose set will also serve as the release show for their debut LP, out Nov. 4. Couldn’t put together a more fitting bill if they tried.

All the best to Bad Afro on 20 years and here’s looking forward:

bad-afro-20th-anniversary-party

Bad Afro Records – Time to Party!

20 years of Pushing Scandinavian Rock to the Man! have gone by. Bad Afro Records is no longer a teenager and the anniversary party will take place at Musikloppen at Christania in Copenhagen November 5th. BABY WOODROSE, NARCOSATANICOS and TELSTAR SOUND DRONE are on the bill. Instead of looking back focus will be on the present artists on Bad Afro and all three bands have releases out in 2016.

The second Telstar Sound Drone album Magical Solutions To Everyday Struggles came out in March, the new Baby Woodrose album Freedom is released September 16th while Narcosatanicos will release their first album on Bad Afro November 4th. Narcosatanicos will play a full set since the night will also be the release party for the new album in Copenhagen.

There will be 200 free beers when Loppen opens at 21.00. The first 100 guests will receive a free Baby Woodrose vinyl 7” including the two exclusive tracks Breaking The Spell and ESP. This single will not be available in any record shops or as streaming and will no doubt end up being collectible. Pre-sale tickets are available HERE.

http://www.badafro.dk
http://www.facebook.com/badafrorecords
http://badafrorecords.bandcamp.com/

Telstar Sound Drone, Magical Solutions to Everyday Struggles (2016)

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Øresund Space Collective Announces New LP Ode to a Black Hole

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 6th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

oresund space collective

Lest we forget among all our cosmic revelry that the bulk of space is pitch black, Danish explorers Øresund Space Collective provide reminder of the encompassing emptiness with their latest outing, Ode to a Black Hole. More droned-out and somewhat less bent toward krautrock-style jamming than the bulk of their improvised work, it’s a single piece broken up over two extended tracks — “Ode to a Black Hole Part 1” and “Ode to a Black Hole Part 2” — that is enough of a departure from their usually bright-toned fare that it does make sense as a standalone release.

I think my favorite part about Ode to a Black Hole, though — aside from the swirl and sense of vastness to it — is the fact that it was recorded at the same time as Øresund Space Collective‘s most recent studio album, Different Creatures (review here). That record was over two hours long! And it wasn’t everything they had! I love it. It just shows how unceasingly creative this outfit is. I really think that if you were to roll tape and come back half a day later, they’d still be jamming. And it would still be awesome.

Release date for Ode to a Black Hole is May 1, but the first part is streaming now, and Øresund Space Collective come to the US for the first — and quite possibly, only — time this August to play Psycho Las Vegas. Here’s more info:

oresund space collective ode to a black hole

This was a long experimental DOOM drone track recorded at the same studio session as the Different Creatures album. This was highly inspired by us listening to the band, BONG. It is something completely different from anything ØSC has ever released but I think it is pretty cool.. Enjoy the trip…

Releases May 1, 2016

Tracklisting:
1. Ode to a Black Hole Part 1
2. Ode to a Black Hole Part 2

Jonathan- Electric Violin, Theremin, Guitar
Mats- Bass (2nd Half),
Hasse- Bass (first half), Doun Douns
Alex- Drums
KG- Synthesizers
Jonas- Hammond and Synthesizers
Dr Space- Synthesizers
Mathias- Pedal Steel

https://oresundspacecollective.bandcamp.com/album/ode-to-a-black-hole
http://www.oresundspacecollective.com/
http://www.facebook.com/oresundspacecollective

Øresund Space Collective, Ode to a Black Hole (2016)

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Quarterly Review: Wheel in the Sky, Sun Dial, LSD & the Search for God, Duel, The Canadian Sweetmen, Wren, Transient, Desert Storm & Suns of Thunder, Telstar Sound Drone, Fantasy Arcade

Posted in Reviews on March 28th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

the obelisk quarterly review spring 2016

So it begins. I’d say this one snuck up on me, but the terrible truth of these things is that there are months of planning involved. You know the drill by now: Between today and Friday, I’ll be posting 50 record reviews in batches of 10 per day, and that’s the Quarterly Review. They’re not really in any order. Some have been out for a while, some aren’t out yet. I have tried to mark 2015 stuff where possible, if only to keep my own organizational modus straight. We’ll see how that goes as the week plays out. In any case, I hope you find something here that you dig. I know I have.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Wheel in the Sky, Heading for the Night

wheel in the sky heading for the night

Although Wheel in the Sky’s presentation is modern enough on their The Sign Records debut album, Heading for the Night, to steer them clear of Sweden’s boogie-mad masses, they’re still very clearly taking influence from classic rock, most notably The Who on cuts like opener “Fire, Death to All” (also the longest track; immediate points), “Total Eclipse of the Brain” and “Thrust in the Night.” The clarity of sound and approach puts them more in line with bands like The Golden Grass and, for a countrymen example, Troubled Horse, than Graveyard, and the Uppsala/Stockholm four-piece distinguish themselves further through the dual-lead interplay of “A Turn for the Wicked,” which hints just a bit toward Thin Lizzy bounce to feed into closer “God on High,” which coats its vocals in echo to add a sense of grandeur before the last instrumental push, which picks up the pace at the end to cap a first album from a band clearly looking to find their own niche within a classic heavy rock feel.

Wheel in the Sky on Thee Facebooks

The Sign Records

 

Sun Dial, Mind Control

sun dial mind control

Offered first by the band in 2012 and reissued through Sulatron Records with two bonus tracks from the same recording session, Sun Dial’s Mind Control puts the long-running UK psych/space rockers in their element in a kosmiche expanse quickly on “Mountain of Fire and Miracles,” and while electronic experimentation is a factor throughout “Radiation” and “Burned In,” there’s always a human spirit underneath and sometimes out front in what Sun Dial do, and the newly-included “Seven Pointed Star” and “World Within You” fit in with the sense of acid ritual that the original album tracks convey, the title cut transposing Hawkwindian warp drive on a more relaxed atmosphere, each measure seemingly a mantra in a longer meditation. Even with its wah-soaked ending, “In Every Dream Home a Heartache” has a more straightforward tack, proving that even when you think you know what a group like Sun Dial are up to, you’re probably wrong.

Sun Dial on Thee Facebooks

Mind Control at Sulatron Records

 

LSD and the Search for God, Heaven is a Place

lsd and the search for god heaven is a place

The second EP from San Francisco-based shoegazing psychedelic rockers LSD and the Search for God, Heaven is a Place, arrives a whopping nine years after its self-titled predecessor. Granted, it might be the wash of effects and the almost-whispered vocal melodies that seem to barely break the surface of the waves of airy distortion, but if any of this material goes back that far, it doesn’t show its age. The five-piece – guitarist/vocalist Andy Liszt, vocalist Sophia Cambell, guitarist Chris Fifield, bassist Ryan Lescure and drummer Ricky Maymi – offer five tracks of blissed-out, dripping wet vibe, with “Outer Space (Long Way Home)” at the center of a post-grunge swirl following the cosmic push of “(I Don’t Think that We Should) Take it Slow” and before the serenity of “Elizabeth” takes hold as a lead-in for seven-minute finale “Without You,” simultaneously the most lucid and dreamy of the cuts included. Nine years is a long time. Heaven is a Place begs for a quicker follow-up.

LSD and the Search for God on Thee Facebooks

LSD and the Search for God on Bandcamp

 

Duel, Fears of the Dead

duel fears of the dead

Austin purveyors Duel make a striking impression from the cover onward with their Heavy Psych Sounds full-length debut, Fears of the Dead. The four-piece, which by all reports features two former members of Scorpion Child, get down with classic swing on the opening title-track and thereby broadcast the intent of the album as a whole, bringing ‘70s-style grooves and boogie forward in time with modern fullness and a crisp production that highlights the gruff vocals of guitarist Tom Frank, who alongside bassist/vocalist Shaun Avants, guitarist Derek Halfmann and drummer JD Shadowz, swaggers through the record’s eight included slabs as one might through a crowded venue for the next in a long series of an evening’s beers. Later cuts like “When the Pigs are Fed” and 7:52 closer “Locked Outside” bring some more variety to the approach, but the heart of Fears of the Dead remains brash and unbridled, and one doubts if Duel would have it any other way.

Duel on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds

 

The Canadian Sweetmen, Intro b/w New Cigarettes

the canadian sweetmen intro new cigarettes

One might blink and miss the debut single from somewhat mysterious psychedelic rockers The Canadian Sweetmen, which totals its A and B sides together for a runtime of about four and a half minutes, but the fact that the 90-second “Intro” (the A side) manages to marry The Velvet Underground and The Beach Boys in that span is definitely something worth taking the time to note. There’s just about no information on the band as to who they are, where they come from, where they’re going, etc., but the three-minute “New Cigarettes” makes an impression on style and substance alike and offers an encouraging glimpse at what seems to be a psychedelia bolstered by organ and Rhodes and unbound by a need to adhere to genre tenets. “Intro” doesn’t even stick around long enough to do so, but “New Cigarettes” careens into a rhythmic push for its chorus that offers an earthy undertone to the heady, spaced-out vibe. More please.

The Canadian Sweetmen Tumblr

The Canadian Sweetmen on Soundcloud

 

Wren, Host

wren host

Absolutely devastating. UK post-sludgers Wren dole out a punishment that won’t be soon forgotten on their second EP, Host (on Holy Roar), following up the blackened post-rock of their 2014 self-titled EP (review here) and their 2015 split with Irk (review here) with four pummeling but still richly atmospheric cuts. Working now as the lineup of Owen Jones, Chris Pickering, Robert Letts and John McCormick, Wren have had three different vocalists on their three releases, but not a one of them has failed to add to the ambience and crushing impression of their riffs, and the hook of “No Séance” particularly on Host signifies that despite whatever lineup shifts they may have had, Wren continue to progress and refine their attack. “Stray,” “No Séance,” “The Ossuary” and “Loom” are unshakable, deeply weighted and righteously spaced. They may have flown somewhat under the radar up to this point, but Wren are too loud to be a well kept secret for much longer.

Wren on Thee Facebooks

Wren on Bandcamp

 

Transient, Transient

transient transient

Some 12 years after their initial demo surfaced in 2003, Massachusetts’ Transient present an atmospheric take on alt-metal with their self-titled debut full-length, self-released last fall. Bringing together nine tracks/46 minutes with a patient but tense pacing and underlying currents of progressive metal in cuts like “Ditch of Doubt” and “Wrong Time,” it unfolds gracefully with the intro “Voyager One” and finds an aggressive burst in “Wrong Time” and the Tool-gone-psych build of the penultimate “Slightest Scare.” That song is part of an extended two-cut closing suite with “Hold this Grudge,” which highlights Scott McCooe’s bass tone as it provides a surprising but satisfying laid back finish. McCooe, joined here by guitarist/vocalist Tim Hayes and drummer John Harris, splits his time with metalcore progenitors Overcast, and as Transient was recorded over a year’s stretch and then mixed and mastered a year after that – living up to the band’s name – it may be a while before a follow-up, but after so long from their demo, it’s still a welcome debut.

Transient on Thee Facebooks

Transient on Bandcamp

 

Desert Storm & Suns of Thunder, Split

desert storm suns of thunder split

Issued by H42 Records in a limited edition for this year’s Desertfest, the new split 7” from UK heavy platoons Desert Storm and Suns of Thunder is so dudely they could sell it as vitamin supplements on late-night tv. A complex critique of gender it is not, heavy it is. One track from each band. Desert Storm bring the burl of “Signals from Beyond,” which with its strong hook and gravely vocals brings to mind Orange Goblin nestled into a nodding riff. For Swansea’s Suns of Thunder, it’s “Earn Your Stripes,” with its complex vocal arrangements for lyrics about small men and big men, paying your dues and other whathaveyou that dominant culture tells those with testicles will make them more complete people. Fine. Masculinity and femininity are scams to sell pants, but “Earn Your Stripes” is catchy as all anything and “Signals from Beyond” is even catchier than however catchy that is, so a testosterone overdose seems a small price to pay.

Desert Storm on Thee Facebooks

Suns of Thunder on Thee Facebooks

 

Telstar Sound Drone, Magical Solutions to Everyday Struggles

telstar sound drone magical solutions to everyday problems

Magical Solutions to Everyday Struggles is the second album from Copenhagen-based auralnauts Telstar Sound Drone, and like much of what Bad Afro releases, it presents a strong temptation to drop out, tune in and turn on. Little surprise the band is something of an offshoot from Baby Woodrose, sharing guitarist Mads Saaby and drummer Hans Beck with the seminal garage rockers, but the lush impression made on “Something I Can’t Place” with the watery vocals of Sean Jardenbæk comes from an even more lysergic place, and the experimental side that comes through on “Closer Again,” “Dark Kashmir” and the languid “Dead Spaces” is a multi-tiered dreamscape that closer “Lean down on White” seems sad to leave. Reasonably so. With guest spots from members of Spids Nøgenhat, Bite the Bullet and Baby Woodrose (Kåre Joensen on bass/synth), Telstar Sound Drone’s sophomore outing is an otherworldly psychedelic vision that, as promised, does seem to cure what ails, exciting even in its most subdued moments.

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Bad Afro Records

 

Fantasy Arcade, Fantasy Arcade

fantasy arcade fantasy arcade

Initially offered by the band in 2012 and subsequently pressed to a six-song 7” and jewel case CD, the self-titled debut EP from San Diego trio Fantasy Arcade only runs about 11 minutes, but that’s all it needs to bring together punk, thrash, sludge and heavy rock across fuckall-heavy cuts like “The Dwarves are Missing” – the longest song here at 3:38 – and the rumbling finale “Die Before You Suck,” which gallops and shouts and seems to crash into walls on its way out, though drummer/vocalist Adam, bassist/vocalist Chris and guitarist Mike actually do well in deciding when to keep control and when to let it go. More nuanced than it lets on, Fantasy Arcade is an aggressive pulse given to moments of frustration boiling over, but being rooted in metal as much as punk, its dwelling in two worlds gives heft to the freneticism at play, as shown in “Poison Arrow,” the first half of which runs at a sprint right into the brick wall slowdown of its second, and final, minute.

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Fantasy Arcade on Bandcamp

 

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Red Lama Announce Dreams are Free Release Date; Post New Single “Inca”

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 9th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

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Danish heavy psych seven-piece (yup, seven of ’em) Red Lama said hello last fall with a video for their track “The World is Yours” (posted here), heralding the arrival of their debut album, Dreams are Free. The physical incarnation of record is available now to preorder through a crowdfunding campaign, while the digital version is due out April 15, and as a precursor to that, they’ve unveiled the opening track “Inca” as a digital single and video, which you can see below.

“Inca” is no less molten than was “The World is Yours,” the band specializing in immersive, fluid, percussive psychedelia. Among other elements at play, “Inca” tosses out the title line of the album and features a driving, almost space rock-style push, but never loses sight of the atmospheric impression it’s trying to make. It’s chill even when it’s heavy, in other words. You can hear it for yourself.

To the PR wire:

red lama dreams are free

Red Lama post new single and reveal details of their forthcoming debut album “Dreams Are Free”

With the release of their second single Inca, Red Lama offers another glimpse into what can be expected from their forthcoming debut album Dreams are Free. Once again the dutch artist Iris Deppe has produced to video which expresses the same peculiar collage style that was seen on the band’s first video for the single The World is Yours.
Until now, Red Lama is best known from live appearances in venues in Copenhagen, Danish festivals, including a couple of appearances at Copenhagen Psych Fest. Indeed, the foundation for Dreams Are Free is the vivid sensation of being a band that plays together and make music together. The album is made collectively through numerous jams in the band’s rehearsal room, and during summer trips to more scenic parts of Denmark.

“To release a record with seven songs , that we are proud of, is surely a milestone for each one of us. We are very honored to finally have all things in place and cant wait to show the finished work. The process has been fantastic and for us the end of a long and beautiful chapter in the Red Lama life. We love making music , so the album has only created even more appetite for new unexplored dream worlds . ” Says Johannes Linnet leadsinger of Red Lama.

Dreams are Free will be released digitally April 15 through the Danish/Norwegian record label, All Good Clean Records. The vinyl release follows a couple of weeks later and can be pre-ordered here: https://www.booomerang.dk/projects/red-lama-dreams-are-free-lp/

Track listing:
1. Inca
2. Sonic Revolution
3. The World is Yours
4. Mont Ventoux
5. Dar Enteha
6. Mekong River
7. Dalai Delay

Johannes Havemann Kissov Linnet: Vocal
Morten Kaas: Organ, harmonica and other effects
Marius Havemann Kissov Linnet: Drums
Frederik Randrup Hansen: Bass
Jonas Harboesgård Rahbek: Guitar
Oliver Asbjørn Fick: Guitar
Niklas Sjøbeck Jørgensen: Percussion

https://www.booomerang.dk/projects/red-lama-dreams-are-free-lp/
https://www.facebook.com/redlamadk

Red Lama, “Inca”

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Causa Sui, Return to Sky: The Source at Dawn

Posted in Reviews on March 7th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

causa sui return to sky

It may be in part because it’s so steadfastly instrumental that Danish four-piece Causa Sui‘s output hits with such an evocative effect on the listener. The material, as on Return to Sky, the band’s latest and upwards of ninth full-length, depending on what you count — minus jam sessions, live outings and collaborations, it’s number four — is wide open and vehement in its will for exploration, clearly plotted but sounding off the cuff and based heavily on the organically-presented chemistry between drummer Jakob Skøtt, guitarist Jonas Munk, keyboardist Rasmus Rasmussen and bassist Jess Kahr that has only developed further since the band’s last long-player, 2013’s stunning Euporie Tide, as their subsequent offerings, 2014’s Live at Freak Valley (review here) and Pewt’r Sessions 3 (review here), also showed.

That may be thanks partially to the chances taken on solo records by Skøtt and Munk over the last several years, but either way, they’re clearly a stronger band since they started to release through their El Paraiso Records imprint, through which Return to Sky now surfaces and which has become since its start circa 2011 a home for deeply creative and naturalist progressive psychedelia. As their own staple act, Causa Sui flourish across the collected five tracks/45 minutes, which arrive in packaging that has become El Paraiso‘s signature style as an unassuming LP the breadth of which isn’t to be understated, sandwiching between an extended (over 10 minutes) opener and closer some of Causa Sui‘s most resonant studio work to date, and some of the most spacious. Even down to Skøtt‘s snare drum on “The Source” or the preceding opener “Dust Meridian,” Return to Sky establishes a wide-open sphere, and yeah, maybe because there’s so much room it’s so satisfying to get lost in its progression.

Drums lead the way into “Dust Meridian” for guitar, bass and keys to follow, but it’s not long before Causa Sui are cascading and bounding along tight turns backed by what feel like extra percussive layers (I have the feeling they’re not) which shift in a measure’s time into a subdued break of jazzy drumming, sparse guitar and keys and a gradual build on a keyboard riff to a full tonal wash that pushes them past the seven-minute mark, crashing and spacing out along the way, building a tension that drops out before eight minutes in as they let it go in favor of a momentary shift back into the bounding, which in turn ends quiet en route to the more heavy rocking swing of “The Source.” Also the shortest track at 6:36, there are moments on “The Source” that sounds tailor-made for a guest appearance by Sergio Chotsourian, formerly of Los Natas. That doesn’t happen — again, instrumental throughout — but the vibe is right in the song’s early trades between a driving riff and sparser stops and pauses. They dedicate the last two minutes or so to a drone and melodic wash exploration that’s as pastoral as it is encompassing, the drums sitting out while bass provides a foundation for guitar effects and far-off keys.

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Listening to the album front to back, it’s the kind of change that’s so fluid it’s almost possible to miss and wonder a minute later where the hell you’ve just been, but it makes a suitably liquid transition into “Mondo Buzzo,” which closes out side A by playing jazzy heavy rock punches off quieter surroundings. Causa Sui weave their way through a soft early going and into heavier push so smoothly, Munk layering in a lead as they head toward the midsection, that it’s hard to follow their going, but “Mondo Buzzo” is striking as much for the weight behind its thrust as for its lush ambience, though it’s with the latter that the four-piece choose to close out side A, turning quickly back to softer jamming of increasing melodic gorgeousness as they make their way through the final few minutes, effects, guitar and keys given a continued sense of structure by the drums, but playing out a bright sunshine that’s more energy than matter, in motion though it is.

While the guitar starts the song, it’s Kahr who makes the most resonant impression in the beginning moments of “Dawn Passage” at the start of side B, a serene bounce emerging from beneath all the airiness overtop in the first minute, the keys adding to the atmosphere in swelling melodies before they drop out and the band continues on the course of a linear build, which is over by the time they hit four of the track’s total eight minutes but leads to more progressive interplay of guitar, bass and keys, percussion fleshing out the jam as they subtly make their way toward another crescendo, which they finish with about a minute to spare for closing out with vastness and soundscaping. It would be difficult for the closing title-track to push out further than Causa Sui have already gone, but the 11-minute finale is ultimately a defining moment for the record that I’m sure by no coincidence bears its name, less improvised sounding in parts, but still untamed and natural, it teases a takeoff at around a minute in and recedes back into watery guitar for a moment before the drums drop out and the guitar sets the build in motion that will consume the next minute-plus in increasingly intense push — the apex of the album.

The payoff, for everything, lasts until about four and a half minutes, and then airy, quiet, almost minimalist guitar chords ring out peacefully but actively over a still-very-much-in-motion bassline (that might be another layer of guitar) to progressive affect, tension held in the latter that will come to the fore over the next six minutes or so as the keys reenter and another build is underway, this time more freaked out and psychedelic. Drums return after a time and Causa Sui carefully, patiently, bring the track forward toward its last noisy peak, getting over to the other side and, of course, moving easily through to finish quiet with volume swells that sound — no doubt purposefully — like waves. Aside from how interactive a listen it is — which is to say, how much of oneself one can put into the listening experience — what’s most striking about Return to Sky is how short it feels. Granted, it is. Euporie Tide topped out at 64 minutes, and Return to Sky is 45; prime for a single-LP release. Whether it was the band’s intent to balance out the fervent stylistic expansion this album represents by taking less actual time, I don’t know, but to think of something so outwardly lush as also being in some way “stripped down” only adds to the depth of the experience, which is welcome, though Causa Sui were hardly lacking anyhow. Their creative pursuit is multifaceted and relentless, and Return to Sky is a well-placed landmark on the road they’re traveling.

Causa Sui, “The Source” official video

Causa Sui on Thee Facebooks

El Paraiso Records

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