Quarterly Review: JOY Feat. Dr. Space, Rosetta, Pendejo, Lightsabres, Witch Hazel, CBBJ, Seedium, Vorrh, Lost Relics, Deadly Sin (Sloth)

Posted in Reviews on March 22nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-spring-2019

Day Five. What would traditionally be the end of the Quarterly Review if going to six wasn’t the new going to 11. Whatever, I can hack it. The amount of good stuff included in these batches really helps. I’m not saying there are days that are a flat-out bummer, but I feel like the proportion of times in this Quarterly Review I’ve gone, “Wow, this is pretty awesome,” has seen a definite spike this time around. I won’t complain about that. Makes the whole thing fun.

Today will be no exception, and then we finish up on Monday with the last 10. Thanks for reading if you do.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

JOY Feat. Dr. Space, Live at Roadburn 2018

joy feat dr space live at roadburn 2018

Brought together as part of the ‘San Diego Takeover’ at Roadburn 2018 that featured a host of that city’s acts performing in an even broader host of contexts, JOY and Scott “Dr. Space” Heller of Øresund Space Collective took the stage at the tiny Cul de Sac near the very end of the festival. It was how I closed out my Roadburn (review here). Dr. Space did a short spoken introduction and then they were off and they didn’t look back. The centerpiece of the limited LP is an extended jam simply titled “Jam.” It’s edited on the platter, but the digital version has the full 54 minutes, and the more the merrier. They round out with takes on Road‘s “Spaceship Earth” and JOY‘s “Miles Away,” and those are cool too, but the real highlight is about halfway through the longer “Jam” when the drums kick into the next gear and you suddenly snap out of your trance to realize how far you’ve already come. And you’re still only at the midpoint. I don’t know. Maybe you had to be there. So be there.

Øresund Space Collective on Thee Facebooks

JOY on Thee Facebooks

JOY Feat. Dr. Space at Øresund Space Collective Bandcamp

 

Rosetta, Sower of Wind

rosetta sower of wind

Philadelphia-based post-whatever-you-got outfit Rosetta continue to set their own terms with Sower of Wind, a self-recorded four-track/half-hour offering that’s something of an outgrowth of their most recent album, Utopioid. Broken into four tracks each assembled from ideas and layers churning throughout the four sections of that record, it brings out the ambient side of the band as guitarist/keyboardist/bassist Matt Weed serves as engineer for “East,” “South,” “West” and “North” as he, guitarist/keyboardist Eric Jernigan and vocalist Mike Armine — who here just adds samples and noise — construct fluid soundscapes that can either build to a head, as on “East” or offer a sense of foreboding like “West” and “North,” depending solely on the band’s will. It’s intended as an exploration, and it sounds like one, but if that wasn’t the point, Sower of Wind probably wouldn’t have been released in the first place. It’s not at all their first ambient release, but this modus continues to be viable for them creatively.

Rosetta on Thee Facebooks

Pelagic Records webstore

 

¡Pendejo!, Sin Vergüenza

pendejo sin verguenza

Whatever your current working definition might be for “over the top,” chances are Pendejo — also stylized as the exclamatory ¡Pendejo! — will make short work of it. Sin Vergüenza, their third long-player, sees release through their own Chancho Records imprint, and it’s not through opener “Don Gernàn” before the Amsterdam-based outfit break out the horns. Fronted by El Pastuso, who supplies the trumpet, the band roll through dense toned heavy rock in a crisply-executed, high-energy 10 tracks and 40 minutes that, even when you think they’re letting up, on the later “El Espejo,” they still manage to burst out a massive riff and groove in the second half. It’s the kind of record that’s breathtaking in the sense of you’re trying to run to keep up with its energy. That, however, should not be seen as undercutting the value of the band’s songwriting, which comes through regardless of language, and whether it’s the start-stops of “La Mala de la Tele” or the gleeful weirdo push of “Bulla,” Pendejo have their sonic terrain well staked out and know how to own it. They sound like a band who destroy live.

Pendejo on Thee Facebooks

Pendejo webstore

 

Lightsabres, A Shortcut to Insanity

LIGHTSABRES A SHORTCUT TO INSANITY

It’s rare for an artist to grow less predictable over time, but Lightsabres mastermind and multi-instrumentalist John Strömshed hits that standard with his former one-man outfit. Joined by session drummer Anton Nyström, Strömshed brings forth 11 tracks of genre-bending songcraft, melding fuzz and progressive folk, downer rock and thoughtful psych, garage push with punker edge, and seemingly whatever else seems to serve the best interests of the song at hand. On “Born Screaming,” that’s a turn to classical guitar plucking sandwiched on either side by massive riffs and vocals, like that of “Tangled in Barbed Wire,” remind of a fuzz-accompanied take on Life of Agony. At just 36 minutes, A Shortcut to Insanity isn’t long by any means, but it’s not an easy album to keep up with either, as Strömshed seems to dare his listenership to hold pace with his shifts through “Cave In,” rolling opener and longest track (immediate points) “From the Demon’s Mouth” and the sweetly melodic finale “Dying on the Couch,” which is perhaps cruelest of all for leaving the listener waiting for the other shoe to drop and letting that tension hang when it’s done.

Lightsabres on Thee Facebooks

DHU Records webstore

 

Witch Hazel, Otherworldly

Witch Hazel Otherworldly

Classic-style doom rockers Witch Hazel shift back and forth between early metal and heavy rock on their second full-length, Otherworldly, and the York, Pennsylvania, four-piece of vocalist Nate Tyson, guitarist Andy Craven, bassist Seibert Lowe and drummer Nicholas Zinn keep plenty of company in so doing, enlisting guest performances of organ and other keys throughout opener “Ghost & the Fly” and “Midnight Mist” and finding room for an entire horn section as they round out 11-minute closer “Devastator.” Elsewhere, “Meat for the Beast” and “Drinking for a Living” marry original-era heavy prog with more weighted impact, and “Zombie Flower Bloom” plays out like what might’ve happened if mid-’80s Ozzy had somehow invented stoner rock. So, you know, pretty awesome. The strut and shuffle of “Bled Dry” adds a bit of attitude late, but it’s really in cuts like the title-track and the aforementioned “Midnight Mist” earlier on that Witch Hazel showcase their formidable persona as a group.

Witch Hazel on Thee Facebooks

Witch Hazel on Bandcamp

 

CBBJ, 2018 Demo

CBBJ 2018 Demo

To a certain extent, what you see is what you get with CBBJ‘s 2018 Demo, right down to the wood paneling on the cover art. The band’s name — also written as CB/BJ — would seem to be taken from its members, Cox (that being Bryan Cox, founding drummer of Alabama Thunderpussy), Ball, Bone, and Jarvis, and as they look toward a Southern Thin Lizzy on demo finale “The Point of it All,” there’s something of a realization in what they’re putting together. It’s four tracks total, and finds some thrust in “Wreck You,” but keeps it wits there as well as in the sleazier nod of “The Climb” that precedes it as the opener and even in the penultimate “Can’t Go Home,” which gives booziest, earliest AC/DC a treatment of righteous bass. They’re apparently in the studio again now, or they just were, or will, or won’t, or up, or down, but whatever. Point is it’ll be worth keeping an ear out for when whatever comes next lands.

CBBJ on Thee Facebooks

CBBJ on Bandcamp

 

Seedium, Awake

seedium awake

Go on and get lost in the depths of Seedium‘s debut three-songer, Awake. The Polish outfit might be taking some cues as regards thickness from their countrymen in Dopelord or Spaceslug, but their instrumental tack on “Mist Haulers,” “Brain Eclipse” and “Ruina Cordis” oozes out of the speakers with right-on viscosity and comes across as infinitely stoned. The centerpiece tops 11 minutes and seems to indicate very little reason they couldn’t have pushed it another 10 had they so desired, and through “Ruina Cordis” is shorter at a paltry 7:08, its blasted sensibility and ending blend of spaciousness and swirl portends good things to come. With the murky first impression of “Mist Haulers” calling like a prayer bell to the riff-worshiping converted, Seedium very clearly know what they’re going for, and what remains to be seen is how their character and individual spin on that develops going forward. Still, for its tones alone, this first offering is a stunner.

Seedium on Thee Facebooks

Seedium on Bandcamp

 

Vorrh, Nomads of the Infinite Wild

vorrh nomads of the infinite wild

Programmed drumming gives Nomads of the Infinite Wild, the debut release from the Baltimore duo of Zinoosh Farbod and John Glennon an edge of dub, but the guitar work of songs like “Mercurial,” looped back on itself with leads layered overtop and Farbod‘s echoing vocals, remains broad, and the expansive of atmosphere puts them in a kind of meditative post-doom feel. Opener “Myths” strikes as a statement of purpose, and as “Morning Star” shows some Earth influence in the spaces left by Glennon‘s guitar, the band immediately uses that nuance to craft an individual identity. “Flood Plane” saunters through its instrumental trance before getting noisy briefly at the finish, only to let “These Eyes” work more effectively through a similar structure with Farbod on keys, seeming to set up the piano-foundation of “Ancient Divide,” which closes. This is a band who will benefit greatly from the fact that they record themselves, because they’ll have every opportunity to continue to experiment in the studio, which is exactly what they should be doing. In the meantime, Nomads of the Infinite Wild effectively heralds their potential for aesthetic innovation.

Vorrh on Thee Facebooks

Vorrh on Bandcamp

 

Lost Relics, 1st

lost relics 1st

Well, they didn’t call it 1st because it’s their eighth album. Denver noise rock trio Lost Relics debut with the aptly-titled 18-minute four-songer, bringing Neurosis-style vocal gutturalism to riffy crunch more reminiscent at times of Helmet‘s discordant heyday. Dense tonality and aggression pervade “Dead Men Don’t Need Silver,” “Scars,” the gets-raucous-later “Whip Rag” and closer “Face Grass,” which somehow brings a Clutch influence into this mix, and even more somehow makes it work, and then even more somehow indulges a bit of punk rock. The vocals and sense of tonal lumber tie it all together, but Lost Relics set a pretty wide base for themselves in these tracks, leaving one to wonder how the various elements at work might play out over the course of a longer release. As far as a debut EP goes, then, that’s the whole point of the thing, but something seems to be saying Lost Relics have more tricks up their sleeve than they’re showing here. One looks forward to finding out if that’s the case.

Lost Relics on Thee Facebooks

Lost Relics on Bandcamp

 

Deadly Sin (Sloth), VII: Sin Seven

deadly sin sloth vii sin seven

Deadly Sin (Sloth) play the kind of sludge that knows how well and truly fucked we are. The kind of sludge that doesn’t care who’s president because either way the chicken dinner you’re cooking is packed full of hormones. The kind of sludge that well earns its Scott Stearns tape artwork. VII: Sin Seven is not at all void of melody or purpose, as “Ripping Your Flesh” and the Danziggy “Glory Bound Grave” grimly demonstrate, but even in those moments, its intent is abrasion, and even the slower march of “Icarus” seems to scathe as much as the raw gutterpunk in “F One” and opener “Exit Ramp”‘s harshest screams. Not easy listening. Not for everybody. Not really for people. It’s a malevolent bludgeoning that even in the revivalism of “Blood Bought Church” seems only to be biding its time until the next strike. It does not wait all that long.

Deadly Sin (Sloth) on Thee Facebooks

Deadly Sin (Sloth) on Bandcamp

 

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JOY with Dr. Space: Live at Roadburn 2018 Now Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 23rd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

joy w dr space (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I was in the room when this one was recorded. I’ve been very fortunate the last several years in choosing well how I end my trips to Roadburn, and JOY with Dr. Space (review here) were my blowout for 2018. It could hardly have been more perfect. After a weekend in Tilburg marked out by the San Diego scene invasion that brought EarthlessVolcanoSacri Monti and others to the Netherlands for the fest, seeing JOY hit up the Cul de Sac with Roadburn regular Scott “Dr. Space” Heller of Øresund Space Collective was exactly where I wanted and needed to be at that moment. I’m sure others felt precisely the same way about whatever they were seeing elsewhere, and that’s cool — it’s part of the thing to personalize — but for me, the expanded-mind jams that the collaborative four-piece got up to were just right for their time and place. They fit right in there.

Resulting audio releases from Roadburn are nothing new, but JOY with Dr. Space was a one-time thing. It’s not like they were touring together. I don’t even know how much they rehearsed beforehand. They might just gotten up and jammed. Either way, it worked, and the 54-minute “Jam” that you can stream at the bottom of this post along with “Spaceship Earth” and “Miles Away” bear that out. This one’s all about vibe, and with a limited-to-200 bootleg-style vinyl pressing that’s being officially released next week, I wanted to make sure any interested parties might have another chance to see it was available while it’s available. Because I don’t expect it will be for long.

Go on and get your head around it:

joy w dr space live at roadburn 2018

JOY featuring Dr Space – LIVE AT ROADBURN FESTIVAL 2018

Space Rock Productions
SRP055

Recorded at the Cul de Sac, Tilburg, Holland Sunday April
Recorded with an Edirol R-09 recorder and Audio Reality Microphones by Dr Space.
Audio enhancement by Jonathan Segel.
Vinyl track preparation and edits y Dr Space.

Limited edition of 200 on vinyl copies in plain white sleeve with a black and white insert like the old bootleg records of the 70s. Hand numbered.

The jam on side A/B was edited from 52 mins to 46 mins and misses the entire Dr Space intro. Thanks to Walter for making this gig happen.

Releases January 28, 2019.

Zach- Guitar and Vocals
Nasty- Bass
Thomas- Drums
Dr Space- analog synths

https://oresundspacecollective.bandcamp.com/album/joy-featuring-dr-space-live-at-roadburn-2018
http://www.facebook.com/oresundspacecollective
https://www.facebook.com/JOYHEADBAND/

JOY with Dr. Space, Live at Roadburn 2018 (2019)

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Roadburn 2018 Day Four: They Have Dreams

Posted in Features, Reviews on April 22nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

roadburn day 4 banner

04.22.18 – 11:31PM CET – Sunday night – Hotel Mercure Rm. 224

I saw a lot of cool shit today. This whole long weekend. There wasn’t one day that didn’t deliver some moment that seemed to me to be something special, whether it was Earthless‘ first set, or Volcano, or The Heads, or Joy tonight jamming out with Dr. Space. This afternoon, though, I stood in the back of the V39 across the alleyway from the 013 venue and watched a Q&A with Roadburn‘s creative director, Walter Hoeijmakers, aka Walter Roadburn, aka just Walter, run by Becky Laverty, who runs the fest’s PR.

He spoke about how the festival has grown organically over the time since he started it, how it changed as his tastes changed to encompass an expanding definition of what “heavy” becky and walter (Photo by JJ Koczan)is and means, and even about some of what the future holds in Roadburn 2019’s lineup. He wasn’t giving away who’s curating or anything, but as one might expect, there will be more commissioned projects like Waste of Space Orchestra on Thursday and the Icelandic black metal group work Vánagandr: Sól án varma, this afternoon. Talking about how young and creative the Icelanders specifically are, he said, “They have dreams,” and you could hear in his voice the deep level of respect that notion commanded from him.

That was a beautiful moment, and like so many I’ve seen in the 10 times I’ve been fortunate enough to make this trip to Tilburg, I felt lucky to be there when it happened.

There was still a lot to see today, though, and while I did stop by uninvited to catch some of Vánagandr, my final day of Roadburn 2018 began in the Green Room with Iron Chin. For much of the day, I sought out spacier fare, reminiscent somewhat of the spirit of the old Afterburner, which has kind of been subsumed into the festival proper even though there were “only” four stages running today: the Main Stage, Het Patronaat, the Green Room, and Cul de Sac. You’ll have to take my word for it when I say it was plenty.

So I had made my way to the Green Room with all the grace of a low-self-esteamboat for Iron Chin, and my reasoning was simple: Oeds Beydals. The Death Alley guitarist was leading the charge in the new group — fronting the band, on vocals as well as guitar — iron chin (Photo by JJ Koczan)and playing alongside for The Devil’s Blood bandmate Job van de Zande (now also in Dool), Ries Doms (Powervice) and Wout Kemkens (Shaking Godspeed), the idea behind the band seemed to be the Dutch heavy scene’s way of welcoming San Diego’s scene to town. The actual output was somewhere between space rock, heavy psych and jamming, with Beydals riding dynamic grooves as he sometimes does in Death Alley but bringing that side of things more into focus. Naturally, there was a song called “Iron Chin,” and just as naturally, its chorus made fitting and frequent use of the title.

I had caught a couple minutes of their soundcheck before doors opened, and knew it was going to be worth the time, but an even more pleasant surprise was when Beydals brought out guitarist Zack Oakley, drummer Thomas Dibenedetto and bassist Justin Hulson — in other words, the entire trio of Joy — to sit in on a few jams. Oakley‘s guitar fit right in the psychedelic wash, Hulson manned a Nord to bring some organ to the proceedings, and he and Dibenedetto both added percussion as well. It was a trip, and that was clearly the intention.

When I saw Beydals later, I asked him if they were going to record, and he confirmed it. That’ll be one to keep an eye out for. He’s developed a considerable stage presence since I first saw Death Alley at the Hardrock Hideout in 2014, and he wasn’t exactly lacking one to start with.

Keeping with the ethereal and/or cosmic, I clomped to Cul de Sac in order to see Belgian progressive rockers Hidden Trails. I knew the challenge in writing about them would be going a single sentence beforehidden trails (Photo by JJ Koczan) mentioning their connection via bassist Dave Houtmeyers and drummer Tom Vanlaer to the much-missed Hypnos 69, and now that I’ve thoroughly failed at that, I feel a little bit like I can move on. Houtmeyers, Vanlaer and guitarist/vocalist Jo Neyskens released their debut, Instant Momentary Bliss (review here) in 2016, and while it’s a thrill for me pretty much anytime I can watch a band play who’ve put something out on the label Elektrohasch Schallplatten, their blend of classic proggy exploration, organic tones and melodicism made it all the more special.

The concept of the Afterburner, with fewer stages running, etc., was that it was a smaller day to kind of transition from being neck-deep in the full force of Roadburn and returning to regular day-to-day existence. As I started to think about things like flight times home and changing trains at den Bosch on the way to Schiphol — always a challenge because I never know which track the train to the airport is coming in on and have to ask at the info counter, where they basically call me a moron every single time — the soothing vibe of Hidden Trails eased my anxious brain a bit and gave me another chance to bask in the breadth and warmth that Roadburn can sometimes offer, you know, when it’s not tearing your face off.

Speaking of, Wiegedood were next on the Main Stage. I have no problem admitting that, at 36 years of age, after three-plus days of festival-being-at, late-night-reviewing, ‘zine-editing and the rest, my ever-expanding ass was fairly well kicked. I went up top in the Main Hall and sat for a while of Wiegedood‘s set, flashing red strobes, skin-peeling sharpness and all, and then flumped back downstairs to have a quick dinner — the return of the fish in lemon cream sauce; I’d happily eat it every night until I died from mercury poisoning, if that’s even a thing here — before Zonal and Moor Mother took to the Main Stage at 19.00.

Zonal, with Justin K. Broadrick of Godflesh and Kevin Martin aka The Bug, who was here collaborating withmoor mother (Photo by JJ Koczan) Dylan Carlson last year (review here), claimed half the stage for a table flanked by bass stacks and left author and spoken word artist Camae Ayewa, aka Moor Mother, the other half to annihilate as she saw fit, silhouetted by lights behind and enough fog machine output that even the hallway outside the Main Stage area was enshrouded.

And annihilate she did, though her words were somewhat obscured by the wash of electronic noise surrounding. It was a performance geared for impact and it seemed to make one on parties either curious or who knew what they were getting, and as the bass beats vibrated in my chest, my mind flashed back to Walter earlier at V39 talking about pushing into new concepts of what “heavy” means. There it was, right in front of me. Impossible to see for all the smoke, but there just the same.

Word had spread of Harsh Toke playing a secret set on the skate ramp up by Hall of Fame, and I know I’ve said before that when Harsh Toke are jamming, that’s where you want to be, but I didn’t see Godspeed You! Black Emperor last night specifically knowing that I’d have the chance to catch them today, and in my mind the commitment was made. With video projection art behind them, they came out to the Main Stage gradually and arranged themselves in a semicircle under barely-there light and like the chamber music of the damned, they treated Roadburn 2018 to their massively influential and richly evocative instrumentalism, creating a space for themselves in the room much as they’ve essentially created a genre for themselves over their 20-plus-year history. I’d never seen them before and won’t claim any expertise on their back catalog, but though the audience in the back was sitting — as was a goodly portion of the band — it was clear they were also being taken somewhere else completely.

That one-two punch, of Zonal with Moor Mother and godspeed you black emperor (Photo by JJ Koczan)then Godspeed You! Black Emperor probably would’ve been enough to call it a day, a weekend, and a festival. That is, I couldn’t have reasonably at that point asked for more than I’d gotten out of Roadburn 2018. But the day started spaced-out, and I knew it would end the same way. Joy and Dr. Space jamming together at the Cul de Sac? Yeah, you can count me in for that.

In fact, since I looked at the final schedule and knew that I’d be in Tilburg again this year, I’ve known that Joy and Dr. Space was how I wanted to close out my Roadburn. Scott HellerDr. Space himself and bandleader of the Øresund Space Collective — started out the set on his own for a while, just oozing vibe on the crowd from his custom-built synth setup, arranged facing away from the audience like a secret box of magic tricks. Cosmic rabbits in lysergic hats and all that. Joy — the aforementioned OakleyHulson and Dibenedetto — arrived a short time later and with Oakley‘s guitar easing their way in, embarked on a longform jam that absolutely melted the room surrounding. Also helps that the Cul de Sac was wall-to-wall with bodies and about 100 degrees (or whatever that is in celsius; a million?), but yeah, one way or another, it was going to be molten.

Even without the unforeseen symmetry of opening and closing the day in the company of Joy, I was right in my pick for how to cap the night. The groove was easy, the vibe fluid and the mood in the room just about perfectly embodied the two parties themselves: “joy” and “space.” Beat as I was, I had a hard time dragging myself out of there. But I did, and after a few quick goodbyes back at the 013 itself, I doltishly florped back to the hotel past drunkards young and old, pissed and reckless, dazed andjoy dr space (Photo by JJ Koczan) dancing and riding bicycles. It was another Sunday night in Tilburg. Tomorrow morning they’ll powerwash Weirdo Canyon again and it’ll be like none of it ever happened.

Except it did. And everyone who was here will carry it with them wherever they might be headed next. Home, far and wide, another bar, whatever. I don’t think it’s possible to be here and not be touched in some way by the spirit of it. For me, after 10 times, I can hardly begin to conceive the ways it’s helped shape who I’ve become over the last decade, how I’ve thought about music and culture and art in general, and the lessons that each year reinforces about what truly matters in creativity, which is that it keeps moving forward. Always forward. That it keeps dreaming.

I’ll have a wrap-up post tomorrow at some point. Till then, thanks for reading and more pics after the jump.

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Quarterly Review: Harvestman, Beastmaker, Endless Boogie, Troubled Horse, Come to Grief, Holy Rivals, Mountain God, Dr. Space, Dirty Grave, Summoned by Giants

Posted in Reviews on July 17th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-summer-2017

Bonus round! I don’t know if you’re stoked on having a sixth Quarterly Review day, but I sure am. Basically this is me doing myself favors. In terms of what’s being covered and how I’m covering it, today might be the high point for me personally of the entire Summer 2017 Quarterly Review. Some of this stuff I’m more behind on than others, but it’s all releases that I’ve wanted desperately to write about that I haven’t been able to make happen so far and I’m incredibly thankful for the opportunity to be able to do so at last. It’s a load off my mind in the best way possible, and as this is the final day of the Quarterly Review, before I dig in I’ll just say one more time thank you for reading and I hope you found something in the past week that really speaks to you, because that’s what makes it all worthwhile in the first place. One more go.

Quarterly Review #51-60:

Harvestman, Music for Megaliths

harvestman-music-for-megaliths

A new Harvestman album, like a harvest itself, is an occasion. Distinct entirely from the solo output released by Neurosis guitarist/vocalist Steve Von Till under his own name, Harvestman’s guitar-led experimentalism and ritualized psychedelia don’t happen every day – the last album was 2009’s In a Dark Tongue (review here) – and with the resonance of “Oak Drone” and the layered, drummed and vocalized textures of “Levitation,” the new collection, Music for Megaliths (on Neurot, of course), lives up to the project’s high standards of the unexpected. Pulsations beneath opener and longest track (immediate points) “The Forest is Our Temple” offer some initial threat, but the electronic beat behind the howling notes of “Ring of Sentinels” and the Vangelis-esque centerpiece “Cromlech” find more soothing ground, and though “Sundown” seems to be speaking to Neurosis “Bleeding the Pigs” from 2012’s Honor Found in Decay (review here) in its atmosphere, the spoken word that tops closer “White Horse” provides a last-minute human connection before all is brought to a quick fadeout. If you told me Music for Megaliths was assembled over a period of years, I’d believe you given its breadth, but whether it was or not, Harvestman’s latest should provide a worthy feast for a long time to come.

Harvestman on Thee Facebooks

Neurot Recordings webstore

 

Beastmaker, Inside the Skull

beastmaker-inside-the-skull

Los Angeles three-piece Beastmaker continue their ascent with their second album for Rise Above Records, the unflinchingly cohesive Inside the Skull. Like its predecessor, 2016’s Lusus Naturae (review here), the quick-turnaround sophomore outing executes a modern garage doom aesthetic and unfuckwithably tight songwriting, this time bringing 10 new tracks that reimagine classic vibes – witness the Witchcraft “No Angel or Demon”-style riff of opener “Evil One” (video posted here) – and touch on some of the same ground pioneered by Uncle Acid without actually sounding like that UK band or sounding like anyone for that matter so much as themselves. They make darkened highlights of “Now Howls the Beast,” “Of Gods Creation,” the crashing “Psychic Visions,” closer “Sick Sick Demon” and the preceding “Night Bird,” which offers some welcome departure into drift prior to the solo in its final minute – all impeccably crisp in structure despite a dirt-caked production – but resonant, memorable hooks abound, and the trio affirm the potential their debut showed and offer a quick step forward that one can only imagine will find them turning more heads toward their growing cult following. They’re still growing, but Inside the Skull is confirmation Beastmaker on a path to becoming something really special.

Beastmaker on Thee Facebooks

Beastmaker at Rise Above Records

 

Endless Boogie, Vibe Killer

endless-boogie-vibe-killer

One can’t help but think there’s a bit of tongue-in-cheekery at play in the inaccuracy of Endless Boogie titling their latest album Vibe Killer. The seven-track/51-minute No Quarter release follows 2013’s Long Island (review here) and is, of course, doing everything but killing the vibe, as the New York-based outfit proffer their nestled-in raw songs crafted out of and on top of improvised jams, the semi-spoken gutturalisms of guitarist Paul “Top Dollar” Major a defining element from the laid back opening title-track onward. Moody rock classicism persists through “High Drag, Hard Doin’” and the more active “Back in ’74,” but the true peak of Vibe Killer comes in the 11-minute “Jefferson Country,” which unfolds hypnotic drone experimentation that’s as willfully ungraceful as it winds up being flowing. Bottom line: dudes know what’s up. Endless Boogie’s languid roll is second to nobody and Vibe Killer is a vision of cool jazz reinvented to feel as much at home in rock clubs of the basement and of the chic see-and-be-seen variety. Very New York, in that, but not at all given to elitism. Everyone’s invited to dig, and dig they should.

Endless Boogie on Thee Facebooks

No Quarter Records webstore

 

Troubled Horse, Revolution on Repeat

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There were a few minutes there where one probably wouldn’t have been wrong to wonder if Örebro, Sweden’s Troubled Horse would have a follow-up at all to back 2012’s Step Inside (review here), but with Revolution on Repeat (out via Rise Above), the four-piece led by dynamic vocalist Martin Heppich prove among the most vital of the many heavy rock acts to emerge from their hometown, known for the likes of Witchcraft, Graveyard, Truckfighters and countless others. Heppich, lead guitarist Mikael Linder (also bass on the recording), guitarist Tom and drummer Jonas start with the boogie-fied opening salvo “Hurricane” (video premiere here) and “The Filthy Ones,” and run madcap through the memorable hooks of “Which Way to the Mob” and “Peasants” en route to the mid-paced “The Haunted” and into a second half marked by the semi-balladry of “Desperation” and “My Shit’s Fucked Up.” Soon, the standout chorus of “Track 7” (yup, that’s the title) and the penultimate funk of “Let Bastards Know” lead to a nine-minute epic finish in “Bleeding” – and all the while Troubled Horse hold firm to groove, momentum, poise, crisp production and songwriting as they tie varied landmarks together with an overarching sense of motion, Heppich’s charismatic soulfulness and deceptively subtle flourishes of arrangement to make an absolutely welcome return.

Troubled Horse on Thee Facebooks

Rise Above Records website

 

Come to Grief, The Worst of Times

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Sometimes you just have to toss up your hands and say, “Well, that’s some of the nastiest shit I’ve ever heard.” To step back and consider them at some distance, Come to Grief aren’t near the most abrasive band on the planet, but when you’re actually listening to their debut EP, The Worst of Times, that’s much harder to believe. Launching with “Killed by Life,” the four-tracker finds the Boston outfit led by former Grief guitarist Terry Savastano – here joined by drummer Chuck Conlon, bassist Justin Christian and vocalist/guitarist Jonathan Hebert – plodding out scream-topped filth that’s actually fuller-sounding than anything Grief did back in their day and all the more devastating for its thickness. The seven-minute “No Savior” is excruciating, and though shorter, “Futility of Humanity” and even the slightly-faster closer “Junklove” bring no letup whatsoever from the onslaught. Think accessible, then go the complete other way, then bludgeon yourself. It’s kind of like that. Absolute brutality delivered by expert and unkind hands.

Come to Grief on Thee Facebooks

Come to Grief on Bandcamp

 

Holy Rivals, Holy Rivals

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The question of whether noise rock and sludge can coexist is largely one of tempo and tone, and recently-signed-to-BlackseedRecords Pittsburgh trio Holy Rivals’ self-titled debut answers in forceful fashion. Amid more aggro punch of opener “Locked Inn” comes the crust-laden grunge of “Voices,” and whether they’re rolling out the more spacious “Sleep” or sprinting through the post-Bleach raw punkery of “Dead Ender” on their way to the more ambient and patient seven-minute finale “Into Dust,” guitarist/vocalist Jason Orr (also T-Tops), bassist Aaron Orr (whose tone features well on the closer) and drummer Matt Langille – whose adaptability is essential to the Helmet-style starts and stops of “Loathe” that emerge from the preceding roll of “Sleep” – Holy Rivals put a superficial harshness to use as a cover for what’s actually a diverse songwriting process. They’ll reportedly have a new record out in Fall 2017, so this 2016 self-release may soon be in hindsight, but in setting the foundation for growth, it offers exciting prospects caked in an abidingly raw presentation.

Holy Rivals on Thee Facebooks

Holy Rivals on Bandcamp

 

Mountain God, Bread Solstice

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Around what would seem to be the core duo of guitarist/vocalist Ben Ianuzzi and bassist/keyboardist Nikhil Kamineni, Brooklyn psychedelic post-sludgers Mountain God have undergone numerous lineup shifts en route to and through the release of their debut album, Bread Solstice (on Artificial Head Records). To wit, drummer/vocalist Ryan Smith (also Thera Roya), who appears on the dark, unrelenting and abyss-crafting 40-minute six-tracker, has already been replaced by Gabriel Cruz, and there have been other changes in vocalist, keyboardist and drummer positions even since they offered their 2015 EP, Forest of the Lost (review here) to set the stage for this deeply-atmospheric, it’s-acid-rock-but-with-sulfuric-acid first long-player. In light of that tumult and the overarching commitment to abrasive noise Mountain God make in pieces like the 11-minute “Nazca Lines,” “Junglenaut” or even the brooding tension of airy instrumental “Unknown Ascent,” it’s all the more impressive that Bread Solstice is as cohesive in its cerebral horror as it is, constructing a harsh and churning vision of doom as something worthy of post-apocalyptic revelry. Far from easy listening, but of marked purpose. They should play exclusively in art galleries, no matter who winds up in the band.

Mountain God on Thee Facebooks

Artificial Head Records on Bandcamp

 

Dr. Space, Dr. Space’s Alien Planet Trip Vol. 1

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Perhaps best known for his work in spearheading the improvisational Denmark-based Øresund Space Collective, modular synth wizard Scott “Dr. Space” Heller weirds out across four cuts on the solo release Dr. Space’s Alien Planet Trip Vol. 1, which both underscores in its scope how essential he is to the aforementioned outfit and oozes beyond that group’s parameters into electronic beatmaking and waves of synthesizer drone. Pulling influence from classic progadelia, Heller unfurls longform tripping on 24-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “5 Dimensions of the Universe” and veers into and out of somewhat abrasive swirl on “Rising Sun on Mars” before landing in the more steady atmosphere of “In Search of Life on Io” and launching once more outward with the five-minute finale “Alien Improv 2.” Just how many alien planet trips the good doctor will be undertaking remains as yet a mystery, but the breadth of this first one makes it plain to the listener that Heller’s sonic universe is wide open and, seemingly, ever-expanding.

Øresund Space Collective on Thee Facebooks

Space Rock Productions website

 

Dirty Grave, So Fall and Crawl Away

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Brazilian doomers Dirty Grave issue the three-song single/EP So Fall and Crawl Away (bonus points for the Alice in Chains reference) ahead of making their full-length debut reportedly any minute now with an album called Evil Desire. Comprised of two studio tracks in the eight-minute “The Black Cloud Comes” and the four-minute Howlin’ Wolf cover “Evil (Is Going On)” and with the live cut “Unholy Son – Live” as a kind of bonus track, it’s a sampling behind two similar short releases, 2014’s Vol. II and 2013’s Dirty Grave (which featured a studio version of “Unholy Son”), that sleeks through eerie doom loosely tinged with psychedelia and smoked-out vibing. “Evil (Is Going On)” is more uptempo, perhaps unsurprisingly, but is giving a likewise treatment all the same, its final solo shredding into oblivion with stoned abandon. “Unholy Son – Live” is rawer but still carries through its melody in the vocals amid a prevalent crash, and if it’s a portend of things to come on Evil Desire, then So Fall and Crawl Away serves as a warning worth heeding.

Dirty Grave on Thee Facebooks

Dirty Grave on Bandcamp

 

Summoned by Giants, Stone Wind

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If you have a convenient narrative for what West Coast heavy rock has become over the last decade, Summoned by Giants’ debut album, Stone Wind, is probably too aggressive on the whole to fit it neatly. Their cleaner parts, the rolling second cut “Diamond Head” and samples throughout have aspects of that post-Red Fang party vibe, but to listen to the rawness of the bass tone that starts “Return” or closer “I Hate it When You Breathe,” or even the slurring “come at me, bro”-style rant sampled at the seven-track/27-minute album’s launch, a will toward violence is never far off. Couple that with the thickened noise punk of “Saturn” and the Weedeater sludge of the penultimate “Dying Wish,” and Summoned by Giants – guitarist/vocalist Sean Delaney, guitarist Jordan Sattelmair, bassist/vocalist Patrick Moening and drummer Mel Burris – seem more interested in doling out punishment than kicking back, making a silly video and having a good time. Well, maybe they’re having a good time, but they’re doing so while kicking your ass.

Summoned by Giants on Thee Facebooks

Summoned by Giants on Bandcamp

 

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Desertfest Athens 2016 Lineup Complete

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 12th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

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With the final addition of Cough, the lineup for Desertfest Athens 2016 is complete. The fest is set for Oct. 7 and 8 — less than a month from now — and Cough join the bill as they’ll be on tour at the time with Elder (dates here) supporting their new album, Still They Pray (review here), which was released by Relapse.

The roster of bands they join, including Red Fang and Greek forerunners 1000mods, whose new song “The Son” you can hear below (more to come on that album), is ridiculously strong, and seems to draw from the history of Desertfest itself in various ways, Steak representing London’s incarnation, Colour Haze that of Berlin (though they’re from Munich), and really any number of these acts the Belgian edition. It’s a great mix that does well to represent its home country as well in Automaton (who’ll be joined by Dr. Space himself), Sadhus, and the aforementioned 1000mods.

Looks like a great show, and particularly as it’s the first one, I wish them all the best of luck with it.

Final announcement and lineup follow:

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Doom/Sludge masters COUGH joining the bill for Desertfest Athens 2016 1st edition!

This is the full line up for the 1st ever Desertfest Athens!

Red Fang
1000mods
Pentagram
Torche
Colour Haze
Truckfighters
My Sleeping Karma
Karma to Burn
Elder
Cough
Black Rainbows
House of Broken Promises
Steak
Beggars
Sadhus
Black Hat Bones
Automaton with Dr. Space
We Own the Sky

Enjoy desert army!

After London, Berlin and Antwerp, the Desertfest franchise is keeping up its conquest of Europe by launching the very first Greek edition of the famous stoner, doom and psych festival. DESERTFEST ATHENS will take place over the second weekend of October, as a sister event of the autumnal Belgium edition.

Over the years, DESERTFEST has become one of the most popular events in Europe for everything heavy, stoner, doom and psyche. “Made by fans for the fans”, the festival gathers thousands of people from across the globe each year by hosting the finest headliners, while also constantly stretching the limits of its own niche with dozens of quality live acts throughout a weekend. Nurturing a friendly atmosphere since the very beginning, DESERTFEST is a urban festival that has won the loyalty of heavy music lovers, so expect your Greek holiday to be a unique and memorable music and human experience!

https://www.viva.gr/tickets/music/iera-odos/desertfest-athens/
www.detoxevents.gr
https://www.facebook.com/Desertfest-Athens-189161564797514/
https://www.facebook.com/events/1530177053945310/

1000mods, “The Son”

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Carlton Melton Meets Dr. Space Live from Roadburn Festival 2014 Available to Preorder

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

It was a spacey happening, rest assured, when Carlton Melton, stepping out from their San Francisco home, hit Roadburn 2014 and paired up with none other than Øresund Space Collective figurehead and roving jammer Scott “Dr. Space” Heller. Each of the two parties is plenty freaked out on its own, but the combination worked to push even deeper into the cosmos, their mission of exploration made bolder by the alliance between them.

Like just about everything that happens within the bounds of RoadburnCarlton Melton Meets Dr. Space — the best ’50s sci-fi flick that never got made — was captured in its 90-minute entirety, and will be out through Lay Bare Recordings and Burning World soon. Not sure on the exact release date, but how do you pinpoint the birth of a galaxy anyway? It’ll be along sooner or later, and it’s available to preorder now. Set it and forget it.

To my knowledge, this was the only time these two have collaborated and I haven’t heard about any further action to come, so it’s kind of a special one-time deal that, as someone who stood in the back of the Cul de Sac and felt the wash surround me from all sides, is worth digging into. The preorder announcement follows:

carlton melton meets dr. space live from roadburn festival 2014

Hear! hear! Lay Bare Recordings proclaims:

Pre-order: Carlton Melton meets Dr. Space, live from Roadburn 2014.

Pass the word!!!

http://burningworldrecords.com/…/carlton-melton-meets-dr-sp…

Carlton Melton is a psychedelic rock band from San Francisco who have been blazing their own trail of psychedelic rock and far out drone sounds for the past many years. This was the bands 2nd appearance at Roadburn and a special meeting with Dr. Space from the Øresund Space Collective was arranged at the Cul De Sac in Tilburg on Sunday April 13th. The band debuted 4 new songs never performed live before with or without Dr. Space (tracks 2-5). The full 90min spaced out set was mixed by Dr Space with assistance from Johan Dahlström. Enjoy the trip..

http://carltonmeltonmusic.com
https://oresundspacecollective.bandcamp.com/
http://laybarerecordings.com

Carlton Melton Meets Dr. Space, Live from Roadburn Festival 2014

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Black Moon Circle, Black Moon Circle: Space Disposition

Posted in Reviews on May 28th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

The self-titled debut from Norwegian trio Black Moon Circle makes little effort to mask its intent. It is a space rock record, built around three heavy jams split effectively onto two vinyl sides, and for all its sense of exploration, improvisation and general farouttery, there’s an encouraging lack of pretense. Based in Trondheim, which on the average December day will see roughly five hours of sunshine — in June, that goes to over 20 hours per day — the core three-piece of vocalist/bassist Øyvin Engan, guitarist/vocalist Vemund Engan and drummer Per Andreas Gulbrandsen teamed up with none other than Øresund Space Collective swirlmaster and friend of the site Scott “Dr. Space” Heller for the recording of Black Moon Circle, and Heller‘s noisemaking and matter/energy disruptors contribute much to the open feel and heavy psych feel of the release. He’s proved ready to jam under most circumstances — this year’s Roadburn had him paired with Carlton Melton and Øresund Space Collective have a collaboration forthcoming with Damo Suzuki of Can — so that he’d be malleable to Black Moon Circle‘s “Enigmatic SuperBandit” is relatively expected, though how well the fit works winds up a pleasant surprise, as Black Moon Circle retain some of the roots of structured songwriting amid their propensity for jamming out into the stellar reaches across “Plains” (8:22), “American Eagle” (5:28) and the side-B-consuming “Enigmatic SuperBandit” (14:24). Their debut feels quick at a little over 28 minutes, but it is an engaging single-LP nonetheless that is able to pull together a cohesive vibe with apparent ease in that time. You won’t hear me complain.

And of course, calling in Dr. Space to add nebulas of effects to the songs isn’t going to hurt either, but Black Moon Circle distinguish themselves even apart from that partnership, with a languid rolling groove on “Plains” that sets up the flow to play out over the subsequent two pieces. Each song has plenty of room to jam, and the Engans and Gulbrandsen use that time well, but both “Plains” and “American Eagle” — presumably not named after the clothing company, though one never knows — make an impression with their verses and choruses as well, a laid back sense of structure emerging that moves well into and through wah-soaked spaces. It’s telling when they bring back the chorus of “Plains” after an extended guitar solo to finish out the song with a proper bookend, showing commitment to songwriting as well as to instrumental exploration, and that balance serves Black Moon Circle over the course of “American Eagle” and even “Enigmatic SuperBandit” as well. It’s a mood and dreamy feel not so unlike what New York heavy psych jammers Sun Voyager have concocted in their early going, and some post-shoegaze vocal similarity can be heard too, but that seems most likely to be a case of shared root influences and sonic coincidence, and one can just as likely hear some early 2000s Swedish heavy rock — Dozer, Lowrider — at work underneath “American Eagle” as anything more recent. Either way, Black Moon Circle do well taking these elements and beginning to carve out their own feel from them, “American Eagle” breaking cleanly at about 3:30 in to shift into a bluesy, open-sounding build of a solo before also returning to its central hook, no less encompassing than that of the opener.

Read more »

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Carlton Melton to Jam with Dr. Space at Roadburn 2014

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 18th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

Am I crazy, or does “Carlton Melton meets Dr. Space” not sound like an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 waiting to happen? Well, that show’s been off the air for 15 years, so while it might have a ring of black and white Cold War-era sci-fi to it, the truth is bound to be much more colorful as Scott “Dr. Space” Heller of Danish jammers Øresund Space Collective (also sometimes an Obelisk contributor) sits in with Northern Cali psych merchants Carlton Melton for a special set at the Cul de Sac in Tilburg for Roadburn 2014. Somewhat curious that it’s billed as part of Roadburn itself and not the Afterburner, but either way, it’s sure to be a trip when the two sides combine.

Check out the announcement below from the Roadburn site, through which tickets for the Afterburner are still available, and a track from Carlton Melton‘s 2013 full-length, Always Even, in case you’d like to imagine it even more spaced out:

In order to provide the Roadburn 2014 Afterburner fans with a unique psychedelic experience, different from the band’s main set on Saturday (April 12th), San Francisco’s Carlton Melton will team up for a unique space adventure with Dr. Space (Oresund Space Collective, Gas Giant) on Sunday, April 13th at Cul de Sac in Tilburg, The Netherlands.

Dr. Space has previously guested with Dragontears at Roadburn in the Midi Theatre and recently with White Hills in Sweden and Denmark. Expect a slowly building ambient space out leading into massive Hawkwind style heavy space rock jam at the end.

Roadburn Festival 2014 will run for four days from Thursday, April 10th to Sunday, April 13th 2014 at the 013 venue in Tilburg, The Netherlands.

Tickets for the traditional Afterburner event on Sunday, April 13th at the 013 venue in Tilburg, The Netherlands are still available. Get in on the action HERE!

http://www.roadburn.com/roadburn-2014/
http://www.carltonmeltonmusic.com/

Carlton Melton, “The Splurge” from Always Even (2013)

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