The Obelisk Radio Adds: Boris, Sólstafir, Desert Suns & Chiefs, Elara, Fungus Hill

Posted in Radio on July 31st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk radio cavum

Some bigger releases going up to the playlist for The Obelisk Radio this time around, and that’s just fine by me. It’s five albums listed here, but there are a few others included as well that you can see listed on the updates page and it’s good stuff all the way around. It was all actually supposed to go up last week, but you know, life is chaos and all that. I hope as always that you manage to find something you enjoy, and if you haven’t heard some of this stuff as yet — I suspect you have, because you know what’s up and I’m perpetually behind on these things; more than just a week, on average — then all the better. Let’s dig in together.

The Obelisk Radio adds for July 31, 2017:

Boris, Dear

boris dear

If you were Boris and you were looking to celebrate a quarter-century of innovating heavy rock, noise, drone, J-pop, and genreless forays into bizarre sonic delights, how would you do it? If you said, “I’d release 69 heavy-as-hell minutes of rumbling tectonics and progressive scope making for one of the best albums of the year,” you’d seem to be on the money. The Japanese trio’s umpteenth full-length, Dear (on Sargent House in the US/EU and Daymare in Japan), begins with the appropriately-titled “D.O.W.N. – Domination of Waiting Noise,” setting forth a consuming six-minute onslaught of feedback and lumbering pummel before the SunnO)))-rivaling drone of “Deadsong” takes hold, shifting at its midpoint to a spaciousness all Boris‘ own. Then they chug out galloping riff triplets on “Absolutego” like it ain’t no thing. That’s Boris: the band who named themselves after a Melvins song and then utterly outdid their namesake on every creative level and have continued to do so throughout one of underground music’s most landmark tenures. Dear offers simultaneous melodic breadth and droning depth on its centerpiece duo of “Kagero” and “Biotope” after counteracting minimalist march with explosive crash on “Beyond,” but they’re still just getting started. The seven-minute “The Power” leads off the second of the two LPs and seems to stem upward from the same roots as YOB at their harshest, brutally feedbacking into the dronegaze of the shorter “Memento Mori” before the 12-minute “Dystopia – Vanishing Point” and the nine-minute title-track comprise a side D that’s nothing less than a triumphant lesson in how to meet your audience head-on right before you swallow them whole, setting its stage with keys and tribalist drums quickly before hypnotizing through five minutes of quiet stretch and bursting gloriously to life ahead of one last contrast of empty spaces and crushing tonality on “Dear” that gives way at last to the noise and feedback that’s always been so essential to their process. If Dear is a letter to Boris‘ fans, as they have said, it is also a willful embrace of the wide-open sensibilities that have made the last 25 years of their craft so uniquely their own. They can go anywhere stylistically and remain Boris precisely because they refuse to settle on a single idea that defines them.

Boris on Thee Facebooks

Boris at Sargent House’s website

 

Sólstafir, Berdreyminn

solstafir berdreyminn

Having now passed the 20-year mark since their founding in 1995, Iceland’s Sólstafir continue to reshape melancholy in their own image on their sixth album and third for Season of Mist, Berdreyminn. The Reykjavik-based four-piece keep the significant achievements of 2014’s Ótta (review here) close to the chest throughout the eight-track/57-minute offering, but songs like “Ísafold” have an upbeat push behind their emotional resonance, and even on a brooding piano piece like “Hvít Sæng,” the overarching sense of motion and the dynamic is maintained. The penultimate “Ambátt” — first of two eight-minute cuts in a finale duo — might be Berdreyminn‘s richest progressive achievement, with its lush opening vocal harmonies giving way to a patiently-delivered clinic on texture, build and payoff that borders on the orchestral. Of course, strings and horns to appear on the album, adding to already complex arrangements, but Sólstafir never lose their corresponding human center, and as “Bláfjall” closes with an intensity of thrust hinted at by the cymbal-crash wash of opener “Silfur-Refur” and the post-blackened push of “Nárós” but ultimately on its own level, they underline the realization and poise that is simply all their own. Berdreyminn is the sound of a band doing important work, and with it, Sólstafir only prove themselves more crucial on an aesthetic level, yet it might be their ability to somehow still feel in-progress that most defines what makes them so special. More than two decades on, they still come across like a group exploring their sound and finding new ways to develop their songwriting — which they are and which they do here. That in itself is an accomplishment worthy of every accolade they reap, and Berdreyminn lives up to that standard front to back across its engaging, encompassing span.

Sólstafir on Thee Facebooks

Sólstafir at Season of Mist’s website

 

Desert Suns & Chiefs, The Second Coming of Heavy – Chapter 5

second-coming-of-heavy-chapter-5-desert-suns-chiefs

Ripple Music has made its The Second Coming of Heavy series of split LPs an essential showcase of the variety in underground rock. The Second Coming of Heavy – Chapter 5 brings together San Diego heavy psych/blues rockers Desert Suns, who also reissued their debut long-player through Ripple in 2016 and followed it with the single “The Haunting” (review here) in conjunction with Ripple and HeviSike Records, and Phoenix, Arizona’s Chiefs, whose 2015 debut, Tomorrow’s Over (review here), arrived on vinyl via Battleground Records and whose five tracks included on side B here cast them among the best Ripple Music bands in the Southwest not currently signed to Ripple Music for their next album. More than some prior installments, The Second Coming of Heavy – Chapter 5 finds its two featured purveyors complementing each other’s work excellently, as Desert Suns offer three seven-plus minute tracks running from the harmonica-inclusive “Night Train” and the rolling, long-fading “Solitude” with the push of “Heavy” in between and Chiefs — though their individual runtimes are shorter — holding straightforward heavy/desert rock methods at their core in unpretentious fashion across “The Rhino,” the standout “Baron to Chancellor,” “Low Tide,” “Caroline” and “My Last Stand,” nodding initially at ’90s noise rock à la Helmet in “The Rhino” but in the end keeping to their sandy, well-structured mission. As ever, The Second Coming of Heavy asks nothing more of its audience than a basic exploration of the groups included, and certainly both Desert Suns and Chiefs earn that. Whether one takes it on in the context of the prior chapters or as a standalone split release, it delivers a collection of cuts from two outfits with a shared core of quality songcraft and the underlying message that sometimes the straight-line route is the way to go. Right on, once again.

Desert Suns on Thee Facebooks

Chiefs on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music website

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

 

Elara, Deli Bal

elara deli bal

Both sides of Elara‘s PsyKa Records-released debut full-length, Deli Bal, are comprised of one shorter track on either side of eight minutes and one longer one, 12 and 17 minutes, respectively. Between that and the cover art, it should come as no surprise that heavy psychedelic drift is central to what the Stuttgart, Germany, trio of bassist/vocalist Daniel Wieland, guitarist/noisemaker Felix Schmidt and drummer Martin Wieland — who also stylize their name as the bracketed [Elara Sunstreak Band] — get up to in their first offering, but there’s an underlying progressive melodic sensibility as well, and Schmidt‘s guitar seems to have picked up a few lessons from My Sleeping Karma‘s minor-key solo mysticism, so one can hear a sound beginning to take shape early as the leadoff title-track gives way to “Amida,” which swaps back and forth between organ-laden krautrock meandering and fuller-fuzz thrust, and as “Quarantania” reinforces that classic vibe with a warm bass tone from Daniel. Whether you’re listening to the platter itself and switching sides or digitally or on CD, Deli Bal is clearly intended to be consumed as a whole work, and one can hear the vocal melody of “Harmonia” tying back to that in the opener as another example of the underlying structure with which it plays out, despite the broad feel of the songs themselves and the expanses they both intend and actually do cover. The LP has just the four tracks, but the digital version comes with the 9:42 bonus cut “Trimenon,” which builds around a core post-rocking guitar line to come to a fervent apex before receding again to let the listener go gently from Deli Bal‘s total 56-minute runtime; no minor undertaking, but effectively executed and a pleasure in its wandering mind and spirit.

Elara on Thee Facebooks

PsyKA Records on Bandcamp

 

Fungus Hill, Creatures

fungus hill creatures

This early-2017 psychedelic curio from Umeå, Sweden’s Fungus Hill begins by asking “Are You Dead?” The just-under-nine-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) of the groovy outfit’s four-song, self-released, 28-minute debut Creatures EP doesn’t sound overly concerned with whether the answer is yes or no so much as enacting a serene flow by posing the question over a laid back bluesy vibe. Arrangement? Fluid. With dual vocals from guitarist Gustav Orvefors and percussionist Jenny Isaksson — the five-piece is completed by guitarist Erik Sköld, drummer Nils Mörtzell and bassist Tom Westerlund — Fungus Hill are able to bring variety as they turn to post-Ghost straightforward ’70s chorus-leaning in the first half of “Beware of Evil in the Sky,” prior to a midsection trip outward on subdued shimmy and deceptively complex melodicism. The flute (or keyboard flute sounds) of the jazzy “Evolution” brings Isaksson to the floor with a smoky, even-bluesier feel, and the guitar answers back with fuzzy lead flourish that only enhances the soul on display, while a seven-and-a-half-minute closing title-track delves deepest of all into thicker riffing, a “Na na na na” hook taking hold quickly just in case you weren’t sure it was going to be a highlight. It is. More tonally dense than most retro boogie — and less retro, for that matter — Fungus Hill‘s Creatures nonetheless has its traditionalist elements, but across its individual pieces each one points to a different side of the band’s personality, and from the Alan Watts sample at the beginning of “Are You Dead?” to when we meet the troll later in “Creatures,” each side of that personality utterly shines.

Fungus Hill on Thee Facebooks

Fungus Hill on Bandcamp

 

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The Second Coming of Heavy – Chapter Five out March 24

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 10th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

The beat rolls on, the bands play on, and Ripple Music‘s The Second Coming of Heavy – Chapter Five lands on March 24, bringing new tracks with it from Desert Suns and Chiefs. This latest installment of the ongoing and deeply admirable series of split LPs marks the first of 2017, arriving just a few months after Chapter Four (review here) brought together the colorful pairing of Red Mesa and Blue Snaggletooth. One has to wonder at this point what will happen when Ripple gets to Chapter 10 — we’re halfway there — and whether the label will issue a box set of all of these together in celebration of the scope of the project. Even if they made 20 or something and charged $150-$200 for them, it seems like a worthy endeavor, particularly as all the art ties together and whatnot.

My two cents, anyhow.

The PR wire has background and audio for The Second Coming of Heavy – Chapter Five. I’ve got a pretty good track record at this point of reviewing these, and I’ll hope to maintain that with this one as well, so please keep an eye out. Till then:

second-coming-of-heavy-chapter-v-desert-suns-chiefs

The return of Ripple Music’s The Second Coming Of Heavy; Chapter V | Split album from Desert Suns and Chiefs

The Second Coming Of Heavy; Chapter V is released on vinyl on 24th March 2017

Already recognised as one of the world’s leading purveyors of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Stoner, Doom and Heavy Psych, Ripple Music upped the ante in 2015 with the arrival of one of the year’s most ambitious projects, The Second Coming Of Heavy Series.

Serving as an ongoing showcase for some of the best and heaviest bands emerging from the underground, each installment shines a light on those worthy of your attention. Consisting of one, 12” slab of multicoloured vinyl with full colour sleeves and inserts, the series is designed to be saved and treasured, like a fine anthology of books. So much so when the albums are filed next to each other, the complete collection of aligned spines form a mind-blowing image direct from the underground.

DESERT SUNS – In that space where psychedelia, blues-rock and doom coalesce, it’s there you’ll likely find Desert Suns. Formed in late 2013, from the outset the Californian quartet demonstrated a versatility rarely seen amongst their contemporaries. In no time at all they wrote, recorded and released their debut single ‘Burning Temples’ and by that same summer had already started to unload an arsenal of new sounds. Released in 2014, their self-titled debut reassured fans that they were far from one hit wonders. Containing haunting lyrics of alienation with compelling hooks, Desert Suns peddle an addictive and atmospheric energy of heavy rock familiar to fans of early ’70s proto-metal acts such as Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and Blue Cheer.

CHIEFS – Having originally begun life as a two-piece back in January of 2012 in Phoenix, AZ, after years of releasing demos, touring and playing around Phoenix Valley the duo made the decision to relocate to San Diego, CA. Shortly after, they released a four-song demo entitled Buffalo Roam, and did numerous short West Coast tours to support it. Eventually the group became a three-piece with the permanent addition of bassist Jeff Podeszwik, who filled out the low-end of the band and transformed their sound. Hot off the heels of releasing a split 7″ with Fuzz Evil through Battleground Records, Chiefs released their debut full-length album Tomorrow’s Over and are now the latest addition to Ripple Music’s much coveted SCoH’s “Hall of Fame”.

The Second Coming Of Heavy; Chapter V will get an official vinyl release on 24th March 2017 and is limited to 300 copies in three alternative versions (100 of each) – The Resurrection Edition, The Risen OBI and The Ascension Edition.

http://www.desertsunsmusic.com/
https://www.facebook.com/desertsunssd/
https://www.instagram.com/desertsunsband/
https://desertsuns.bandcamp.com/

http://www.wearechiefs.com/
https://www.facebook.com/wearechiefs
https://wearechiefs.bandcamp.com/
https://www.instagram.com/wearechiefs/
https://twitter.com/chiefsphx

http://www.ripple-music.com/
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ripple-Music/369610860064
https://twitter.com/RippleMusic
https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/

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Desert Suns Premiere New Single “The Haunting”

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 29th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

desert-suns

San Diego four-piece Desert Suns will release their new single, The Haunting, on March 30 via Ripple Music. If you want to be technical about it — and I know you do — it’s the first new music to come from the wave-making heavy rock outfit since their self-titled debut in mid-2014, though to be fair, that self-titled has continued to gain traction more or less since it was issued, with pressings through HeviSike Records and Ripple issued this January. The band, comprised of bassist/vocalist Dave Russell, guitarists Woogie Maggard and Anthony Belluto and drummer Ben McDowell, made several striking impressions throughout that album, and “The Haunting” pushes the group’s stylistic reach further into a blend of desert-hued heavy rock, doom and psychedelic blues.

If it sounds like a lot of space to cover — oh yeah, sometimes they talk about space, too — it is. Clocked in at just under seven minutes, “The Haunting” ties these various sides together via an earthy, Sabbathdesert suns the hauntingderived traditionalism, so that even as the track offers something new, there’s an underlying familiarity that allows the listener, whether long-time convert or newcomer after the self-titled, to follow along with the fluid and deceptively atmospheric build throughout. The poise of the central riff as it takes hold after a quiet opening stretch and the molten solo in the track’s second half are out of an Iommic text, no doubt, but in the context of the initial unfolding, with its far-back, headphone-worthy strings, patient guitar lines, stellar snare work, warm bass and bluesy vocals, and it’s clear there’s something richer going on in “The Haunting” than trying to recast “Hand of Doom.”

That eerie but somehow welcoming ambience comes and goes throughout “The Haunting,” true enough to the song’s title, but do the honor of ending out the track after all the crash and heft has receded, and they give a suitably ghostly impression.

“The Haunting” will be available to download tomorrow from Ripple Music‘s Bandcamp page. Please find the track below for your streaming enjoyment, followed by Desert Suns‘ upcoming live dates.

Dig it:

 

Desert Suns live:
Apr 09 The Bancroft Spring Valley, CA
Apr 21 Ken Club San Diego, CA
May 27 The Merrow San Diego, CA
Jun 03 Back Bar SoFA San Jose, CA
Jun 24 Tower Bar San Diego, CA

Desert Suns:
David Russell – Bass/Vocals
Woogie Maggard – Guitar
Anthony Belluto – Guitar
Ben McDowell – Drums

Desert Suns on Bandcamp

Desert Suns on Instagram

Desert Suns on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

Ripple Music website

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Desert Suns Self-Titled to be Reissued in Jan.

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 8th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

desert suns

San Diego four-piece Desert Suns made a considerable impression this year (also last year) with their self-titled debut, which was out on limited vinyl through HeviSike Records. The band, now teamed also with Ripple Music, will reissue the album in January as a dual-release with both the US and UK-based imprints. Covering their bases, as it were. All the better.

They were announced as signing to Ripple earlier this year, and Desert Suns was initially self-released by the band in 2014, so whether or not next year will see some form of follow-up, I’m not sure, but it’s pretty clear that new ears are still discovering the first album and no doubt that thread will continue with this next pressing.

Info came down the PR wire:

desert suns desert suns

DESERT SUNS: Hard rocking San Diego quartet to re-release debut album through Ripple Music/HeviSike Records

Desert Suns will be released worldwide on 15th January 2016 on LP/CD in North America through Ripple Music, and on LP in the UK through HeviSike Records

Released earlier in the year and limited to a run of 300 copies on vinyl through the Birmingham-based label HeviSike Records, San Diego rockers Desert Suns self-titled debut will receive an official re-release worldwide this January through a special collaboration between Ripple Music and HeviSike Records.

In that space where psychedelia, blues-rock, doom and sludge coalesce, it’s there you’re likely to find Desert Suns. Formed in late 2013, from the outset the Californian four-piece demonstrated a versatility rarely seen amongst their contemporaries. In no time at all they wrote, recorded and released their debut single ‘Burning Temples’ in January of 2014, and by the summer they had already started to unload an arsenal of new sounds.

Their self-titled debut was released on August 16th 2014 and reassured fans that they were far from one hit wonders. Containing haunting lyrics of alienation with compelling hooks, an addictive and atmospheric energy and heavy, pulsating beats, fans of early ’70s proto-metal acts such as Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and Blue Cheer will appreciate the classic grooves exhibited here on storming tracks like ‘Ten Feet Down’ and album closer ‘Run Through My Roots’.

Gaining even more attention in late 2014 after their song ‘Space Pussy’ was featured on Classic Rock Magazine’s cover mount compilation The Levee Breaks and sharing an unmistakable affinity with modern stoner rockers bands such as Fu Manchu and Graveyard.

Mastered by renowned multi-instrumentalist Tony Reed (Mos Generator/Stone Axe) at HeavyHead Recording Co in Washington, Desert Suns will be released in North America on 15th January on vinyl/CD through Ripple Music and on LP in the UK through HeviSike Records.

Desert Suns:
David Russell – Bass/Vocals
Woogie Maggard – Guitar
Anthony Belluto – Guitar
Ben McDowell – Drums

http://www.desertsunsmusic.com/
https://www.facebook.com/desertsunssd
http://desertsuns.bandcamp.com/album/desert-suns
https://www.instagram.com/desertsunsband/
https://www.facebook.com/Ripple-Music-369610860064/
http://www.ripple-music.com/
https://www.facebook.com/hevisike
https://soundcloud.com/hevisike

Desert Suns, Desert Suns (2015)

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Desert Suns to Release Self-Titled Vinyl on HeviSike Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 11th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

desert-suns

San Diego four-piece Desert Suns recently inked a deal for a new release through Ripple Music, but before they get there, they’ll oversee a vinyl issue of their self-titled debut. Originally put out by the band in 2014, the HeviSike edition of the album features a vinyl-specific master by Tony Reed of Mos Generator, and will be limited to 300 copies, 100 clear and exclusive to the label, 200 white for the band and distribution. The artwork is a selling point on its own, but that’s not to discount the quality of what Desert Suns do either. For those who’d look to get in on the ground floor, here it is.

News from the PR wire:

desert suns self-titled

Desert Suns vinyl released on HeviSike Records April 2015

San Diego, CA stoner rockers DESERT SUNS release their self-titled debut LP on vinyl through HeviSike Records in April 2015. The four-piece demonstrate versatility unseen amongst their contemporaries; this six-song debut sees the band touch on psychedelia, blues-rock and doom. The group gained attention in late 2014 after their stoner rock anthem SPACE PUSSY was featured on Classic Rock Magazine’s (UK) cover-mount compilation ‘The Levee Breaks’ (November, 2014).

Fans of early 70s proto-metal acts such as Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Steppenwolf and Blue Cheer will appreciate the classic groove demonstrated on this record, as will followers of modern stoner rockers Fu Manchu, Kadavar, Graveyard and Clutch. Haunting lyrics of alienation accompany the listener on a journey through the sinister and the beautiful.
Limited to just 300 copies, this one time press LP is manufactured with vinyl enthusiasts in mind; mastered specifically for the format by renowned multi-instrumentalist Tony Reed (Mos Generator/Stone Axe) at HeavyHead Recording Co in Washington, USA and pressed on high grade colour vinyl. Cover art is provided by San Diego’s own Jimmy Ovadia.

Pressing breakdown: 100 Copies – Clear Vinyl – Exclusive to HeviSike.com 200 Copies – White Vinyl – Band and Distribution edition
includes: 4 x Limited Edition postcards and 1 x A3 size poster insert demonstrating the art of Jimmy Ovadia.

David Russell – Bass/Vocals
Woogie Maggard – Guitar
Anthony Belluto – Guitar
Ben McDowell – Drums

desertsuns.bandcamp.com
https://www.facebook.com/desertsunssd
http://www.desertsunsmusic.com/
hevisike.com

Desert Suns, Desert Suns (2014/2015)

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