Quarterly Review: Wucan, Lucifer in the Sky with Diamonds, Thera Roya, Ojos Rojos, Ett Rop På Hjälp, BongCauldron, Nomadic Rituals, Mental Tremors, Gin Lady, Swanmay

Posted in Reviews on September 29th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk quarterly review

Round five of the Fall 2017 Quarterly Review begins now. After dealing with the technical issues this week and changing hosts and having the site down for – well, as I write this, it’s still down, so I don’t really have a finished count yet, though obviously by the time you’re reading it it’ll be back up – yeah, it’s made putting together a batch of 10 reviews a day seem like a breeze. “Oh, you mean you’re only writing 10 reviews today? Well now this is happening.” That kind of thing. Didn’t I say something earlier this week about a piano falling on my head? Prescient.

Plan is to finish the QR on Monday and then get back to what passes for normalcy around here. Still plenty of good stuff to come between now and then though, so let’s dive in.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Wucan, Reap the Storm

wucan reap the storm

Bilingual heavy blues rockers Wucan offer their second full-length, Reap the Storm, through MIG Music, and with it showcase a stunning range of songwriting. The album is set up as a 2LP and runs eight songs/73 minutes from the Dresden, Germany, four-piece of vocalist Francis Tobolsky (also flute, guitar, theremin, sitar and percussion), guitarist/keyboardist Tim George, bassist Patrik Dröge and drummer Philip Knöfel, and from the expansive jamming of 10-minute opener “Wie Die Welt Sich Dreht,” it solidifies into the classic-prog-meets-heavy-boogie of “Ebb and Flute/The Eternal Groove” and nestles into driving semi-psychedelic rock on “Out of Sight out of Mind” to lead the charge on a side B marked out by the organ in “I’m Gonna Leave You,” the interplay of trippy/soulful vocals and flute on “The Rat Catcher” and the quiet, German-language post-Zeppelin acoustic folk of “Falkenlied.” Okay. Already your head’s spinning. Then Wucan dive into “Aging Ten Years in Two Seconds” and “Cosmic Guilt,” which together comprise the second of the two LPs, the former running 21:05 and the latter 18:04, and basically between them represent another album entirely, tying all of the elements previously listed together into one richly complex, progressive-but-still-warm delivery. Their breadth is met by an overarching organic feel – the flute and Tobolsky’s vocals help greatly in this – and though the results are somewhat unmanageable, Wucan remain impressively cohesive throughout the many twists and turns.

Wucan on Thee Facebooks

MIG Music website

 

Lucifer in the Sky with Diamonds, Silent Echo

Lucifer-in-the-Sky-with-Diamonds-Silent-Echo

The new single “Silent Echo” is an awaited return from Moscow progressive heavy rockers Lucifer in the Sky with Diamonds, who showed up with an encouraging debut, The Shining One (review here), in 2014. In the rhythmic push and balance of melody and hook, “Silent Echo” reaffirms the appeal of that album and presses it forward, and the band – now comprised of guitarist/bassist/vocalist Oleg Sakharov, guitarist Sergey Starykh, drummer Ramis Cervantes and backing vocalist Alexey Fedotov – hold fast to the underlying proggy sensibilities that fall so well in line with the crispness of their production and the clarity of intent in their songcraft. If they were German or Swedish, they’d already be signed. After three years, a new album would be welcome, but perhaps “Silent Echo” is a harbinger of things to come, and if indeed the six-minute track is all we’re getting for now, it’s got resonance enough behind it to last at least for a while. Hard to hear it though and not want more from these guys.

Lucifer in the Sky with Diamonds on Thee Facebooks

Lucifer in the Sky with Diamonds on Bandcamp

 

Thera Roya, Masterful Universe

thera-roya-masterful-universe

Tracked a year ago in North Carolina, Thera Roya’s Masterful Universe two-songer follows behind their earlier-2017 debut long-player, Stone and Skin (review here), and continues their headfirst dive into noise-laden riotousness across the seven-minute “Static Transmission” (I’m sorry, but are those monkey sounds around the three-minute mark?) and five-minute “Confused Population,” which starts out with a sample of the bomb-riding end sequence of Dr. Strangelove, because I guess the Brooklyn/NJ trio of drummer/vocalist Ryan Smith, guitarist Christopher Eustaquio and bassist Jonny Cohn are feeling topical. Fair enough. That song pushes into cleaner vocals, almost drone-chants, for a particularly experimental feel, and keeps samples as a running theme (at least until the blackened cave-echo screams at the end), where “Static Transmission” is more scathingly aggressive at its core, but in both tracks, the message of Thera Roya getting weirder and weirder comes through clearly, and that only works to their benefit on this short but consuming offering. Run with it, dudes.

Thera Roya on Thee Facebooks

Thera Roya on Bandcamp

 

Ojos Rojos, Sons of Love and Death

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It’s been seven years since California-based heavy psych rockers Ojos Rojos made their debut with the full-length Disappear (review here), but you’d hardly know it from the vibrancy of their new five-song/26-minute Sons of Love and Death EP, which from its opening title-track – also the longest here (immediate points) – through the rightly spacious “Atmosphere” and smoothly rolling centerpiece “Say Goodbye” affects desert-hued shoegaze engagement that asks little of the listener more than to drift along with its easy path. “A Hole Inside” (pun sense tingling) brings especially satisfying fuzz in the guitar and a swirling couple leads to complement like stars overhead, and closer “So Free” doesn’t at all let the fact that it’s so darn laid back let it stop it from strutting its start-stop groove with such swagger. All told, Sons of Love and Death is a work of drippingly lysergic vibe, reminiscent of Dead Meadow at their most languid, but it comes across neither as staid nor redundant. Be it in the rhythmic push of “Atmosphere” or the final crashes of “So Free,” Ojos Rojos find the means to portray an active ecosystem in something that, from the surface, seems still and peaceful.

Ojos Rojos on Thee Facebooks

Ojos Rojos on Bandcamp

 

Ett Rop På Hjälp, Sans och Balans

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Ett Rop På Hjälp, quite simply, deserve a higher profile than they’ve got for their second album, Sans och Balans. The Gothenburg natives are a half-decade removed from their 2012 debut, Hur Svårt Kan Det Vara? (review here), on Transubstans, and the new collection is a more than worthy follow-up, offering classic-style boogie rollout on cuts like “En Djavuls Falla” and the later solo work on “Blanka Eftermiddagen,” while “Defenestration” (the only English title present, though it’s still sung in Swedish), highlights organ/keys alongside its low end depth and catchy movement, shifting at its midpoint to an instrumental jam that carries it into the bluesy build and harmonies of “Snomannen.” The penultimate “Leker Med Karlek” is particularly heavy ‘70s, but skirts the trap of sounding like Graveyard, Witchcraft or most others of that vintage ilk, and the finish in “Slutat Tro” prefaces its payoff with a subtle heft that comes to the fore late, manifesting a proto-doom working well to contrast the sweetness of the earlier vocal melody. It may be harder for those who don’t speak Swedish to grasp the verses and howling chorus of “Folkhemsdesperado” and the other inclusions here, but Sans och Balans is nothing if not worth that effort and clearly a record that earns more attention than it’s getting.

Ett Rop På Hjälp on Thee Facebooks

Sans och Balans on Spotify

 

BongCauldron, Binge

bongcauldron-binge

Leeds trio BongCauldron have been kicking around the UK’s fertile heavy underground for the last five-plus years since their self-titled EP, issuing a series of shorter releases and splits and gradually readying themselves for a larger attack. That arrives as their eight-song/40-minute debut full-length, Binge, which sludge-bludgeons (yes, it sludgeons) its listener into submission with thickened nod, growls and an attitude that’s best represented perhaps in the title of second cut “Bury Your Axe in the Crania of Lesser Men.” Yeah, it’s like that. “68” and closer “Yorkshire Born” offer a Motörhead/High on Fire-style gallop, but the larger impression Binge makes comes from the pairing of the title-track and “Bigfoot Reigns” in the middle of the album. These two longest tracks, back to back, pummel their viscous onslaught, and even when the latter swaps out its faster first half for the massive slowdown of its second, its shift is purely from one extreme to the other. Feels like it’s been a while in the making, and maybe it has, but BongCauldron’s first long-player has nastiness a-plenty to make up for any and all lost time.

BongCauldron on Thee Facebooks

APF Records on Thee Facebooks

 

Nomadic Rituals, Marking the Day

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Marking the Day builds from minimalist drone over the first couple minutes of “From Nothing” into a maddeningly heavy, grueling, hour-long slog of noise-soaked and extremist post-sludge. It is the second album from Belfast, Northern Ireland, three-piece Nomadic Rituals, and its cosmically-themed lumber is utterly vicious as it plays out across six tracks, the shortest of which, “Expansion,” is just under eight minutes long. Over the course of this creation-to-destruction journey, guitarist/vocalist Peter Hunter, bassist/vocalist Craig Carson and drummer Mark Smyth (all three also contribute noise and/or synth) take listeners “From Nothing” and leave them “Face Down in the Sea of Oblivion,” and it’s that 14-minute finale and specifically the tumultuous, pushed-even-further apex thereof, that is intended to capture the grand undoing of everything. One imagines when the end comes it won’t actually sound quite so glorious, but an interpretive representation, Nomadic Rituals give brutal portrayal that seems to fit the onslaught of chaos, and the final amp hum reminds that every ending is likewise a new beginning, even one so mammoth and consuming as this.

Nomadic Rituals on Thee Facebooks

Nomadic Rituals on Bandcamp

 

Mental Tremors, Mental Tremors

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A duo who manage to sound like a full band on a studio album is nothing new at this point, between layering and tonal heft and whatever else might be at play in a given act’s aesthetic. Fortunately, Melbourne two-piece Mental Tremors don’t need to rely on novelty. In the fuzz of songs like “Bastard Son” and “Violently” – that’s a riff you should hear – their self-titled debut long-player offers legit chops in craft and performance, yes, sounding full, but still natural as it makes its way through the weirdo-psych nod of the six-minute “Patient Man,” solidifying as it goes, and seeming to turn the classic LP dynamic of straightforward A and more expansive B sides on its head as it rounds out with “Hunters” and “The Fevering,” individualizing catchy, post-Queens of the Stone Age impulses and hairy riff-led raucousness. Initially self-released earlier this year, Mental Tremors was picked up for a vinyl pressing by Cursed Tongue Records, and whether it’s the clarion groove of opener “Like a Broken Town” or the nods and echoes that pervade “The Cascade,” there’s no question it earns that preservation that only physical media can provide.

Mental Tremors on Thee Facebooks

Cursed Tongue Records webstore

 

Gin Lady, Electric Earth

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Modern enough in its production, Gin Lady’s fourth album, Electric Earth (on Kozmik Artifactz) is nonetheless in pretty direct conversation with the ‘60s, whether it’s “I’m Your Friend” chatting it up with Paul McCartney circa Rubber Soul or the acoustic/piano stomp of “Mercy” in a back and forth with The Rolling Stones, even going so far as to reference “Satisfaction” in the lyrics. These pop-minded textures are met with some heavier rock vibes, but at its loudest, Electric Earth still sticks to a pretty serene feel, starting off at a dancey clip with “Flower People” and capping with the quick Lennonism of “Running No More,” while in between, the four-piece of vocalist Magnus Kamebro, guitarist/vocalist Joakim Karlsson, bassist/vocalist Anthon Johansson and drummer Fredrik Normark gracefully capture bygone vibes on the wistful “The Things You Used to Do,” the jammy “Brothers of the Canyon” and the crisp, clear “Water and Sunshine,” the hook of which could’ve easily come from a lost single from 1965. It’s a niche not everyone’s playing toward at this point, but still instantly familiar and engagingly, efficiently done.

Gin Lady on Thee Facebooks

Electric Earth at Kozmik Artifactz

 

Swanmay, Stoner Circus

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Unabashed stoner rock riff-led ideology persists throughout Stoner Circus, the hard-driving debut full-length from Linz, Austria, three-piece Swanmay. Working from a center of dense but not overblown fuzz, the rockers cast forth a clear-in-its-purposes nine tracks highlighted by “Lake on Fire,” which one can only wonder if whether or not was written in homage to the Austrian annual festival of the same name. In any case, that hook is one of several that feel particularly engaging throughout Stoner Circus, and the depth of tone on the instrumental “Dopechild” is enough to make that song memorable despite a lack of lyrics. Far from revolutionary, ultimately, but clearly not trying to be either, Swanmay’s first LP preaches its post-Kyussism on “Dharma” and in the Lowrider-style roll of “Sylvan” earlier on, but there’s an aggressive edge to it as well that comes to the fore on “Padawan” ahead of closer “Shiva,” which rounds out with a satisfying-if-telegraphed slowdown to make the point one more time about putting the groove first. So be it. As a debut, Stoner Circus gives Swanmay something to build on and already shows promise in songwriting and its well-honed execution of genre tenets.

Swanmay on Thee Facebooks

Swanmay on Bandcamp

 

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Wucan to Release Reap the Storm Sept. 29; Cover and Tracks Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 28th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

wucan

Flute-laden Dresden four-piece Wucan have spent the last couple years kicking around various Desertfests — they did London and Berlin in 2017, Belgium in 2015, and were at Up in Smoke last year — in support of their 2015 debut album, Sow the Wind. On Sept. 29, they’ll follow that outing with the similarly-titled Reap the Storm through MIG Music, leaving one to wonder what the relationship between the two records is, beyond the simple fact of the one preceding the other. Just curious. Maybe they’re working on a theme of harvesting weather. I don’t know.

No audio yet, but art and tracks and word from the band themselves, who indeed have a slew of live dates booked for this Fall. I haven’t seen their name in festival updates as yet, but that doesn’t mean it won’t wind up there over the next couple months. Still plenty of time, and when I hear whatever I hear, I’ll post. You know the drill.

Here’s what they had to say about Reap the Storm:

wucan reap the storm

Wucan – ‘Reap The Storm’ Double LP out Sep 29th 2017

Dear Dopetrotters,

After we have spent months in the studios developing, recording and mixing the new record, we are beyond stoked to finally tell you that our 80 minutes Double LP ‘Reap The Storm’ will be out on Sep 29th 2017 via MIG music. Yup, it’s a lot of music we have coming up for you!

Francis: “With this record we took what musically developed and just became apparent on our first LP ‘Sow The Wind’ to the next level. ‘Reap The Storm’ is not just a snapshot of our own personal and emotional state at this point, but the logical follow up to all our previous work.”

And damn, we are excited for you to hear the outcome! This time we’ll have two German songs, one of them being an acoustic ballad, one a politically/ socially critical piece and two songs longer than 15 minutes, that’ll take you on an adventurous trip through the fields of Psychedelic and Progressive Rock. Plus the Heavy Flute Rock tunes that shaped our style in the past.

Title List:

Side A
Wie Die Welt Sich Dreht
Ebb And Flute/ The Eternal Groove
Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind

Side B
I’m Gonna Leave You
The Rat Catcher
Falkenlied

Side C
Aging Ten Years in Two Seconds

Side D
Cosmic Guilt

We truly hope you guys will enjoy the results of our and our team’s hard work! More details on pre-order etc. to come asap.

Yours truly,
Wucan

Produced and Recorded by Nene “Porco Dio” Baratto
Mixed by Charlie Paschen
Mastered by Andreas “Lupo” Lubich
Cover Art by Daniel Stolle
Layout and Inner Design by Burning Moon
Photo by Martin Becker

Wucan live:
Sep 07 Zeche Bochum, Germany
Sep 20 Reeperbahn Festival Hamburg, Germany
Sep 21 Mephisto, Faust Hannover, Germany
Sep 23 Scheune Kulturzentrum Dresden, Germany
Oct 05 Das Bach Vienna, Austria
Oct 14 Merleyn Nijmegen, Netherlands
Oct 19 Das Bett Frankfurt, Germany
Oct 28 Jovel Club Münster, Germany
Nov 02 Club, Backstage Munich, Germany

https://www.facebook.com/wucanmusic/
http://www.wucan-music.de
https://www.facebook.com/migmusic.de/
http://www.mig-music.de/
http://www.mig-music-shop.com/

Wucan, Sow the Wind (2015)

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The Roaring 420s Post New Video for “Blue Jay”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 8th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

the roaring 420s (Photo by Carl Ahner)

Dresden, Germany, freakbeaters/classic psych rockers The Roaring 420s released their What is Psych? EP just about a year ago, with four cuts of ’60s-style pre-heavy groove that didn’t place modern chic ahead of sonic loyalism but wound up sacrificing neither. From the organ-laced opener “Blue Jay” to the more decisively-jamming “Hey Hey Rider,” they fit a familiar, lysergic sprawl into remarkably efficient songwriting, veering even wider into piano-and-guitar shenanigans on the closing “Saturday Night,” setting up a honky-tonk vibe as though to illustrate how far out they could go from the surf-and-sitar beast-bellying of “These Woods of Stones,” a cut anyone would be lucky to find in a bin of poorly-labeled 45 singles.

Fitting that the EP should have arrived through Stoned Karma, the imprint of long-running German garage specialists Vibravoid. What is Psych?, which answers its own question in its balance of hooks and exploration, was the second EP by The Roaring 420s, preceded by a 2013 self-titled that, also four songs, boasted a Serge Gainsbourg cover and three tracks repurposed onto the later release. Their first full-length is reportedly in the works that will hopefully build on the swirl conjured seemingly at will on What is Psych?, but in the meantime, a video has surfaced for “Blue Jay” that appears to sum up a lot of the mindset under which the band are operating, what with the drugs, a book called How to Party Hard (think that’s on Amazon?), a bit of crossdressing and hog-tying, and a Serpico-style police bust. So, you know, something for everyone.

Hope you dig it:

The Roaring 420s, “Blue Jay” official video

DECAP Production made this nice video for “Blue Jay”. It features some of our friends as well as the real Monika Lange! There’s also some police violence, drug busting and sex going on, just for the record… We’re currently working on a new album, so stay tuned!

Having entered the public in Dresden, Germany, in 2011, The Roaring 420s have arrived in the international psychedelic and garage rock scene by now. Featuring surf guitars, floating backing vocs and an electric sitar, singles like “Psych Out”, “Blue Jay” or the Serge Gainsbourg-cover “Laisse Tomber Les Filles” soon got airplay outside of Germany and Europe. After numerous shows throughout the continent their full-length debut album “What Is Psych?” has been released on Stoned Karma / Cargo Records in June 2014. In addition, “Blue Jay” was released as 7″ split with Copenhagen-based group The Mind Flowers on Levitation Records.

The Roaring 420s on Thee Facebooks

The Roaring 420s on Bandcamp

Stoned Karma Records

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