Earth Stream New Track; Full Upon Her Burning Lips out May 24

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 8th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Fair enough that Earth as they celebrate the 30th anniversary of their start in 1989 would also strip down their approach to its essential core — that being the guitar of Dylan Carlson and the drums of Adrienne Davies. Somehow or other, it got to be five years since the release of their last album, Primitive and Deadly (review here), which saw both fleshed out arrangements instrumentally but the addition of guest vocalists as well. The take on Full Upon Her Burning Lips would seem to pull back in response to that, with Davies and Carlson comprising the lineup and eschewing any of the “extras” that have come up as their sound was fleshed out over the last decade-plus.

You can stream the new track “Cats on the Briar” at the bottom of this post, and it certainly sounds like Earth, which only makes me want to hear more. Funny how that goes.

Dylan Carlson has been doing prolific solo work in the years since Primitive and Deadly (and before that as well), and he’s got a Euro tour set to begin this month. Dates for that and Full Upon Her Burning Lips album info follow here, courtesy of the PR wire:

earth

EARTH ANNOUNCE A NEW ALBUM FULL UPON HER BURNING LIPS, TO BE RELEASED VIA SARGENT HOUSE ON 24TH MAY

LISTEN TO THE NEW ALBUM TRACK “CATS ON THE BRIAR”

DYLAN CARLSON EUROPEAN SOLO DATES INCOMING

Over the course of their thirty trips around the sun, Earth has remained diligent in their commitment to monolithic minimalism. The sonic vocabulary may have changed—from their early years churning out seismic drone metal on albums like Earth 2 (1993) to the dusty Morricone-tinged comeback album Hex; Or Printing in the Infernal Method (2005) to the meditative rock approach of Primitive and Deadly (2014)—but the underlying principle of austerity and restraint remains a constant. With their latest album Full Upon Her Burning Lips, Earth purges the layers of auxiliary instrumentation that embellished some of their previous records and deconstructed their dynamic to the core duo of Dylan Carlson on guitar and bass and Adrienne Davies on drums and percussion. In the process, they tapped into the Platonic ideal of Earth—an incarnation of the long running band bolstered by the authority of purpose, where every note and every strike on the drum kit carries the weight of the world.

Full Upon Her Burning Lips opens with “Datura’s Crimson Veils”, a twelve-minute opus that adheres to Earth’s 21st century approach with Carlson’s sepia-toned Bakersfield Sound guitars lurching across a barren landscape while Davies punctuates the melodies with death knell drums. It’s a sound that harkens back to the riff-constructed vistas of their Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light albums, but stripped of their ornateness. “It was definitely a very organically developed record,” Carlson says of the process. “I limited the number of effects I used. I always like the limiting of materials to force oneself to employ them more creatively. Previous Earth records were quite lush sounding, and I wanted a more upfront and drier sound, using very few studio effects.” In less capable hands, these kinds of limitations might diminish the aural scope of the compositions, but Carlson and Davies have always thrived on reductive methods.

The stripped down approach had another advantage. “I really wanted the drums to be present,” Carlson says. “I felt with previous Earth records that other instrumentation took up so much of the sonic space that the drums were kind of pushed to the side.” This tactic helps highlight Davies’ ability to elevate the drum kit beyond its mere metronomic functions and allows it to serve as an expressive, nuanced, and tonally rich component to Earth’s arsenal of sound.

In addition to scaling back on their ranks, Earth altered their previous trajectory by entering into Full Upon Her Burning Lips without a conceptual arc to guide the process, relying instead on their collective subconscious to hone in on the overarching muse as the songs developed. “In the past I’ve usually had a strong framework for an album,” Carlson says. “This one developed over the course of writing and recording. It just felt like ‘Earth’—like just the two players doing their best work at playing, serving the music.” The absence of a pre-existing narrative guiding the compositions meant that the songs were more open and intuitive, often resulting in more terse musical vignettes like the richly harmonic “Exaltation of Larks” or the dreamily itinerant “Maidens Catafalque”. Yet subconscious impulses gradually created their own subtext for the album. “I wanted this to be a ‘sexy’ record, a record acknowledging the ‘witchy’ and ‘sensual’ aspects in the music… sort of a ‘witch’s garden’ kind of theme, with references to mind altering plants and animals that people have always held superstitious beliefs towards. A conjuror or root doctor’s herbarium of songs, as it were.”

The ten tracks on Full Upon Her Burning Lips came together in bits and pieces. Songs like “Cats on the Briar” and “Mandrake’s Hymn” stemmed from a handful of musical phrases and repeating patterns concocted in moments of downtime during their 2017 tour schedule. “Descending Belladonna” came from a live soundtrack project. Other songs came from rehearsals in the months leading up to recording or in moments of divine inspiration in the studio. The record was engineered, mixed, and mastered by longtime associate Mell Dettmer at Studio Soli. Knowing their process and their sound, Dettmer helped harness, shape, and document the songs in a manner that highlights the depth of Earth’s sparse components, capturing hidden dimensions much like the veiled images residing in the Magic Eye prints from the ‘90s. For the patient listener, the cyclical nature of the songs “She Rides an Air of Malevolence” or “An Unnatural Carousel” reveal new forms with repeated listens, with the subtle variations between passes creating a kaleidoscope of auditory activity.

“I feel like this is the fullest expression and purest distillation of what Earth does since I re-started the band,” Carlson says in reflection of Full Upon Her Burning Lips. And indeed, anyone that’s followed Earth on their journey will bask in the unadulterated hums, throbs, and reverberations conjured by Carlson and Davies.

Sargent House is proud to offer up the album to the world on May 24th, 2019 on 2xLP / CD / digital formats.

PRE ORDER LINK: http://smarturl.it/Earth_FUHBL

DYLAN CARLSON SOLO DATES:
MAR 21 Newcastle, UK @ The Cluny
MAR 22 Bristol, UK @ Rough Trade
MAR 23 Manchester, UK @ Soup Kitchen
MAR 24 Birmingham, UK @ The Flapper
MAR 26 London, UK @ St John of Bethnal Green
MAR 27 Brussels, BE @ Botanique
MAR 28 Lille, FR @ La Malterie
MAR 29 Duisburg, DE @ Explorado Museum
MAR 30 Berlin, DE @ Cassiopeia
MAR 31 Prague, CZ @ Futurum
APR 01 Vienna, AT @ Grillx
APR 03 Munich, DE @ Feierwerk
APR 04 Lausanne, CH @ Le Bourg
APR 05 Zurich, CH @ Bogen F
APR 06 Paris, FR @ Sonic Protest Festival

http://www.thronesanddominions.com
https://www.facebook.com/thronesanddominions
https://www.instagram.com/earthseattle/
https://www.facebook.com/sargenthouse/
http://www.sargenthouse.com/

Earth, “Cats on the Briar”

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Skraeckoedlan Announce New Bassist; Touring with Vokonis

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 18th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

skraeckoedlan

I happen to know for a fact that Skraeckoedlan vocalist/guitarist Robert Lamu has the winged deer from the cover of Dozer‘s Through the Eyes of Heathens tattooed on his arm, so it’s easy to imagine he’s good and stoked to share the stage with Skraeckoedlan‘s usually-not-all-that-active countrymen forebears. That’s badass in itself, but word that Skraeckoedlan will share the stage this Spring with fellow badass Swedes Vokonis, will play Desertfest London 2019 and are welcoming a new bassist even as they release their third album, Eorþe (review here), on Fuzzorama only broaden the scope of awesomeness surrounding them at this point. The moral of the story? It’s a good week to be in Skraeckoedlan.

The following is culled from social media and the PR wire:

skraeckoedlan tour

Swedish fuzz-fictioneers SKRAECKOEDLAN announce Desertfest London appearance and Spring Tour with Vokonis

People of Earth!

We are super excited to welcome our new band member and bass player extraordinaire. Skraeckoedlan is once again a 4 piece.

Please give Erik Berggren the warmest of welcomes.

Skraeckoedlan live:
02.23 Malmö SE Plan B (Stad I Mörker)*
03.16 Göteborg SE Truckstop Alaska*
03.23 Köpenhamn DK Beta*
04.20 Borlänge SE Broken Dreams (w/ Dozer)
05.03 London UK Desertfest
05.17 Umeå SE Droskan (Make it Sound)*
05.18 Vilhelmina SE Folkets Hus*
06.01 Sundsvall Aveny (Club Deströyer)
* with Vokonis

Heading into 2019 with the help of Fuzzorama Records, Skraeckoedlan steer a course to Eorþe, their first album in over three years and undoubtedly their most progressive. With the big metal riffs of new single ‘Kung Mammut’ riding shotgun alongside the more introspective and explorative moments of songs like ‘Mammutkungens Barn’ and ‘Angra Mainyu’, the trio have cut a definitive and spellbinding record of light and dark. In addition to the CD and standard vinyl editions, Eorþe will also come in a limited-edition box set which sees the album split across two gatefold vinyl records; Earth: Above and Earth: Below. The set will come packed with pieces of merchandise that revolve around the story and feature alternative artwork.

Skraeckoedlan:
Robert Lamu – Vocals/Guitar
Henrik Grüttner – Guitar
Erik Berggren – Bass
Martin Larsson – Drums

http://www.skraeckoedlan.com/
http://instagram.com/skraeckoedlan
https://www.facebook.com/SKRAECKOEDLAN/
http://twitter.com/skraeckoedlan
http://www.fuzzoramarecords.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Fuzzorama
https://twitter.com/fuzzorecords

Skraeckoedlan, “Creature of Doggerland”

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Dylan Carlson Announces March/April UK and European Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 15th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

dylan carlson

Dylan Carlson‘s Fall 2018 European tour hit the skids when the Earth guitarist landed in a Berlin hospital for an infected gallstone as as result of ongoing liver issues. That run got canceled as a result — and fairly enough so — but Carlson will be back at it in the UK and Europe in March and April. This is happening while word is beginning to kick around as well of a new Earth album in the works, which is only to the general betterment of humans as a species and well enough due. More on that as I hear it — also, I hope I get to hear it — but you’ll find Carlson‘s redux tour below, and of course one wishes him nothing but the best health-wise so he can get out there and drone as much as possible in any incarnation he wants.

You can hear Conquistador at the bottom of this post. Dates follow from the PR wire:

dylan carlson tour poster

DYLAN CARLSON ANNOUNCES RESCHEDULED UK/EU LIVE DATES IN SUPPORT OF HIS RECENT SOLO ALBUM, CONQUISTADOR (OUT NOW ON SARGENT HOUSE)

Legendary Earth guitarist Dylan Carlson announces rescheduled live dates in March and April this year, in support of his first proper full-length, Conquistador (which came out last year via Sargent House). Full listings below and tickets available at this link: sargenthouse.com/dylan-carlson. A new Earth studio album is also expected before summer this year via Sargent House, more details in due course.

DYLAN CARLSON LIVE DATES:
MAR 21 Newcastle, UK @ The Cluny
MAR 22 Bristol, UK @ Rough Trade
MAR 23 Manchester, UK @ Soup Kitchen
MAR 24 Birmingham, UK @ The Flapper
MAR 26 London, UK @ St John of Bethnal Green
MAR 27 Brussels, BE @ Botanique
MAR 28 Lille, FR @ La Malterie
MAR 29 Duisburg, DE @ Explorado Museum
MAR 30 Berlin, DE @ Cassiopeia
MAR 31 Prague, CZ @ Futurum
APR 01 Vienna, AT @ Grillx
APR 03 Munich, DE @ Feierwerk
APR 04 Lausanne, CH @ Le Bourg
APR 05 Zurich, CH @ Bogen F
APR 06 Paris, FR @ Sonic Protest Festival

https://twitter.com/drcarlsonalbion
https://facebook.com/drcarlsonalbion
https://instagram.com/drcarlsonalbion
https://drcarlson.bandcamp.com
https://thronesanddominions.com/dylan-carlson
http://smarturl.it/DCarlsonStore

Dylan Carlson, Conquistador (2018)

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Review & Track Premiere: Skraeckoedlan, Eorþe

Posted in Reviews on January 11th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

skraeckoedlan earth

[Click play above to stream the premiere of Skraeckoedlan’s translated-lyric video for “Creature of Doggerland.” Their new album, Eorþe, is out Feb. 15 on Fuzzorama Records. Preorders are here.]

I generally assume that if I’m writing about something, you already know about it because you’re cooler than I am, because, frankly, that’s how it usually works. But if you haven’t heard of Skraeckoedlan — especially if you don’t live in Sweden — there’s a decent chance it’s because they sing in Swedish. The fuzz rockers have parted with bassist Tim Ångström since their 2015’s Sagor (review here) with Robert Lamu moving from guitar to bass in addition to vocals, while Henrik Grüttner handles the lone guitarist role as well as more vocals and Martin Larsson remains on drums. One might think the band’s third album and first for Fuzzorama Records, Eorþe, would be more stripped down as a result, but the truth is it’s the most progressive record they’ve made in the decade they’ve been together. Their 2011 debut, Äppelträdet (review here) — also recently reissued by The Sign Records from the original release on Transubstans — blended fuzz-drenched tonality with a post-Mastodon style of metal, but they’ve only grown more since then, and as they align with Fuzzorama, they continue an association with sadly-defunct countrymen Truckfighters that extends all the way back to the recording of their first album.

Indeed, one might look at Eorþe as inheriting the mantle of fuzzprog that the last couple Truckfighters albums were working toward, running a fluid nine songs and 54 minutes with a greater depth of melody and broader sonic reach than they’ve ever shown. Songs like “Mammutkungens Barn,” the earlier highlight “Kung Mammut,” the 10-minute “Elfenbenssalarna” and the acoustic closer “Peggys Sång” demonstrate the range of their composition, while even a song like the under-four-minute “Tentakler & Betar” finds a way to hit new ground with vocal harmonies and a pointedly forward thrust. Whether it’s an extended piece like “Creature of Doggerland” (note the English title), or the opener “Guldåldern” or the drum-led beginning of “Angelica,” Eorþe wants nothing for heft either in tone or construction — indeed, tone has been a strength of Skraeckoedlan all along and very much remains one — but even as they hold onto their stylistic weight, they turn into a more nuanced and individualized unit.

When it comes right down to it, Eorþe is Skraeckoedlan reestablishing themselves after a change in their dynamic. The shift from two guitarists to one, even covered in the studio by layering guitar tracks and whatever else, is not a minor one. It affects songwriting as well as how the material is played. And Skraeckoedlan pull that off, no question. For a band who’ve been around for 10 years and have experience recording and touring, that’s not a huge surprise. They should know what they want to sound like — at least to some basic degree — and be able to make that happen. Fine. Where Eorþe really succeeds though is in not only finding Skraeckoedlan make this claim on who they are as a band, but in moving their sound forward from where it was three years ago. Their work is richly textured and in listening to the melody in the chorus of “Mammutkungens Barn,” one can hear their heritage in Scandinavian metal coming through in more than just the language they’re using, but like the grunge-style opening riff of that song — reminds of something from the early-mid ’90s; is it Sonic Youth? — they bring each of their influences into a context that is their own.

They did the same on Äppelträdet in imagining a fuzz-metal stomp in the first place, but with just about every move they make on Eorþe, they do so with a greater scope and identity born of the maturity of their composition. As a result, Eorþe isn’t just Skraeckoedlan‘s finest hour, but a way forward for them in this new incarnation that builds on what they’ve done before. In the tension of “Guldåldern” or the atmosphere of the penultimate instrumental “Angra Mainyu,” their ability to craft a flow and mood across disparate elements brought into a single presentation is engrossing, and the confidence with which they execute the material is what allows them to carry the audience along every step of the way. LamuGrüttner and Larsson are in absolute control of their sound in these tracks, and the potential that always seemed to be residing in their sound has begun to bear fruit accordingly.

Skraeckoedlan have generally kept to a unifying science-fiction thematic over their years, writing about monsters and in this case specifically, mammoths and beasts that may or may not have tentacles and tusks, etc., but whether or not a given listener speaks Swedish, there’s no mistaking the intent of their craft. They are a band who have worked diligently to hone their approach, and while Eorþe is dense, and not a minor undertaking at 54 minutes long, they remain accessible through their use of melody and rhythmic momentum. The fluidity of Eorþe is not to be understated, and while I don’t know if they’re telling a unified story in the lyrics, the underlying point is that the album itself is unified, and the trio are unified in their mission to grow as a band. They have. They do. One hopes they’ll continue to.

In the largesse-laden instrumental stretches of “Elfenbenssalarna,” Skraeckoedlan make clear not only how they’ve developed, but that their commitment is to keep evolving as a creative force, and that the impact that was so much of their initial appeal remains an important factor in what they do. Listening to Eorþe, one can only be glad that’s the case, but the truth is that Skraeckoedlan have expanded their aesthetic to the point that they’re about so much more than just the volume at which one hears them. The melody, the quick turns, the ambience of Eorþe have just as much of an effect on the overarching experience of the songs as the fuzzy tones, shouts and consistent sense of lumber. Whatever it is that has one hearing them, though, they’re a band who deserve more attention than they’ve gotten, and regardless of whatever language barrier there might be with a broader public, Skraeckoedlan break through it like one of the tentacled mammoths of their own creation.

Skraeckoedlan’s website

Skraeckoedlan on Instagram

Skraeckoedlan on Thee Facebooks

Skraeckoedlan on Twitter

Fuzzorama Records

Fuzzorama on Bandcamp

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Days of Darkness II Announces Lineup for Oct. in Baltimore

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 29th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

So I guess playing Psycho Las Vegas worked out for Blue Öyster Cult, huh? As Days of Darkness II, the return autumnal installment from the crew behind the venerable Maryland Deathfest, unfurls its lineup for this October, we see the classic heavy rockers in the top spot — which, hey, is fair enough. A few surprises under them, however. One is thrilled to see logos for BangEarthEarthride and Alcest, but even more fascinating is the inclusion of groups like Front Line Assembly and Die Krupps, and I can’t help but wonder if another one of the headliners still to be announced — because presumably Blue Öyster Cult will close one of the two nights and someone else TBA will close the other — will fit a similar industrial mold, and if that’s one of hte ways in which Days of Darkness will look to expand its identity and stave off the year-after-year redundancies that fests can fall into if they’re not careful.

I know nothing, of course. I’ve never been in touch with the MDF crew, so have zero inside track whatsoever. Just speculating and musing, is all. Just intrigued.

The fest posted the following on social media:

days of darkness ii poster

12 more bands have been confirmed for Days of Darkness II, set to take place on October 27 and 28 at Rams Head Live and Baltimore Soundstage.

Earth
Front Line Assembly
Die Krupps
Controlled Bleeding
Earth Electric
Bang
Lazerpunk
Child Bite
Crazy Bull
Rougemarine
Electropathic
Crud

A third and final round of bands will be announced in the coming weeks! Once again, expect approximately 2 times more bands than last year. Early bird passes sold out a few weeks ago, but all ticket options will go on sale soon. We’ll keep you posted on an exact date and time.

Here is the full list of confirmed bands (in alphabetical order):

Acid Witch
Alcest
Anna von Hausswolff
Bang
Blue Öyster Cult
Child Bite
Controlled Bleeding
Crazy Bull
Crud
Die Krupps
Earth
Earth Electric
Earthride
Electropathic
Front Line Assembly
Lazerpunk
Rome
Rougemarine
Satan’s Satyrs

https://www.facebook.com/daysofdarknessfestival/
https://www.facebook.com/events/146652199417747/
https://www.facebook.com/MarylandDeathfest/

Neurosis, Live at Days of Darkness 2017

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Dylan Carlson to Release Conquistador April 27; New Song Streaming Now

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 13th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

dylan carlson

I’m sure it’ll be a sleeper hit, but there’s an entire swath of the population to whom Dylan Carlson‘s Conquistador is going to prove utterly essential, and those lucky devils have probably already stopped reading and made their way to the bottom of this post to check out the tour dates with Sleep and the new track “Scorpions in Their Mouths,” which is streaming now in all its guitar-droney goodness.

Interesting to note that Carlson, who of course is best known as the founding guitarist of pioneering atmospheric instrumentalists Earth, is using his own name for Conquistador, rather than the solo moniker drcarlsonalbion that has been his go-to over the course of the last few years. That, coupled with the fact that Carlson‘s wife, Holly Carlson is the cover model for the record — she may have taken that picture as well, I don’t know; the one of Carlson at the top of this post is by her — leads one to think this is a pretty personal outing for the six-string-and-effects wizard, but somehow I doubt anything about Conquistador will be quite so up front, including its motivations.

April 27 is the release date as per the PR wire:

dylan carlson conquistador

LEGENDARY GUITARIST DYLAN CARLSON ANNOUNCES A NEW SOLO ALBUM & PREMIERES THE FIRST SINGLE

CONQUISTADOR IS DUE OUT ON THE 27TH OF APRIL VIA SARGENT HOUSE

Known first and foremost as the lynchpin of instrumental band Earth, Dylan Carlson has become one of alternative music’s most ambitious pathfinders. It seems beyond appropriate, then, that Carlson’s new solo endeavor is titled Conquistador. The five-track record channels the indulgent drone of Earth while traversing uncharted sonic terrain. Listen to the album’s first single, “Scorpions In Their Mouths”.

Carlson’s previous solo work under the moniker drcarlsonalbion has consistently veered away from Earth’s American motifs in favour of English folklore. For his first proper full-length as Dylan Carlson, the guitarist returns West. Whereas Earth has sought to score Cormac McCarthy’s examination of white settlers’ horrific campaign against Native Americans in Blood Meridian, Conquistador bypasses the intermediary narrative of a novelist. Long heralded as a master of minimalism, Carlson’s album demonstrates his ability to craft compelling symphonic compositions while exercising extreme musical frugality.

“I guess what ties this all together—all my musical projects and my life in general—is the idea of the quest, that search for new horizons and something unnamable and possibly unreachable,” Carlson says of the record.

Conquistador was recorded at God City Studios with Kurt Ballou during a weeklong break in Carlson’s 2016 solo tour of the East Coast of the US. After months of gestating the material that would eventually become Conquistador, Carlson viewed the session as an opportunity for both catharsis and collaboration, thanks to contributions from the esteemed Emma Ruth Rundle (baritone and slide guitar) and his wife Holly Carlson (percussion, photography, cover model).

Conquistador is due out via Sargent House on April 27th.

Conquistador Track Listing:
1. Conquistador
2. When The Horses Were Shorn Of Their Hooves
3. And then the Crows Descended
4. Scorpions in their Mouths
5. Reaching the Gulf

Dylan Carlson, On Tour:
Sunday, July 22 — Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club *
Wednesday, July 25 — Philadelphia, PA @ Electric Factory *
Friday, July 27 — Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn Steel *
Saturday, July 28 — Boston, MA @ Royale *
Wednesday, August 1 — Chicago, IL @ Riviera *
* w/ SLEEP

https://twitter.com/drcarlsonalbion
https://facebook.com/drcarlsonalbion
https://instagram.com/drcarlsonalbion
https://drcarlson.bandcamp.com
https://thronesanddominions.com/dylan-carlson
http://smarturl.it/DCarlsonStore

Dylan Carlson, “Scorpions in Their Mouths”

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ROADBURN 2017 Day Three: And Yet it Moves

Posted in Features, Reviews on April 22nd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

roadburn-day-3-banner-Photo-by-JJ-Koczan

04.22.17 — 22.23 — Sat. night — Hotel room

I don’t mind telling you I was a total wreck this morning. There we were, finishing up the third issue of Weirdo Canyon Dispatch (get the PDF here), and holy macaroni, I just couldn’t hack it. I’d gone to sleep at a semi-reasonable time, circa 2AM — which is pretty good, considering — but woke up at around three and was up past 4:30. Just up. Weirdo Canyon Dispatch Saturday issue.Brutally, brutally awake. I could’ve cried.

Instead, I put my head down on the desk in the 013 office while we waited for the test-print of today’s ‘zine and was granted a generous reprieve from the folding process that followed. I folded three copies of today’s WCD: my own. After that, I made the most of my special dispensation and high-tailed it back to the hotel to sleep for another two and a half hours, at the end of which time I pounded water, a protein bar and ibuprofen and it was enough to temporarily trick my body into believing it was human. This weekend has been pure madness, and there’s one day yet to go.

By the time I got back to the 013, I knew I’d missed my chance to hit the photo pit for day-openers The Bug vs. Dylan Carlson of Earth, the somewhat cumbersomely-named collaboration between, well, The Bug and Dylan Carlson, but I still had plenty of opportunity to be assaulted by their combined volume of drone and beats, soundscapes thick enough to swim through and handed out with enough force to vibrate the plugs in my ears and the teeth in my skull. Really. I think I lost a filling. They were very, very loud.

Two experimentalists like that working together, even as a one-off, carried an air of being something special to start the day, and so it was. The Bug‘s rig, flanked on either side by bass cabinets with two more laid down in front in such a manner as to make Carlson half-stack look positively minimalist in comparison, shook the upstairs The Bug vs. Dylan Carlson (Photo by JJ Koczan)balcony where I set up shop for the duration, and the clear impression that came through was that although they used different means of expression — Carlson with his guitar, The Bug with his laptop and mixing board — their work together was way less of a “vs.”-type situation than the name led one to believe. They were very definitely on the same side, but while they played, spotlights slowly hovered over Main Stage crowd, feeding the air of suspicion and paranoia in such a way that was eerily appropriate for what they were doing.

Speaking of collaborations, over at the PatronaatRazors in the Night — AKA John Dyer Baizley of Baroness and Scott Kelly of Neurosis playing oldschool punk and hardcore covers — were just getting started. I stayed put in the big room, however, because I knew I didn’t want to miss a second of Oranssi Pazuzu. The Finnish progressive/psychedelic black metallers have been an increasingly steady presence at Roadburn over the last five years, and after their own slots at the church, they managed to pack out the Main Stage to an admirable degree. People stood outside the open doors for not the last time today in order to catch a glimpse of their malevolent, ultra-deep swirl.

As immersive as it was dark, I couldn’t argue. Oranssi Pazuzu, who released their fourth album, Värähtelijä (review here), in 2016, may have conjured the finest blackened psychedelia I’ve ever seen. It was so much of both, so chaotic and yet purposeful, that to Oranssi Pazuzu (Photo by JJ Koczan)consider it anything less than the work of masters would be completely underselling it. When I was done taking photos, I went out into the hallway to walk around to the other side of the room and I couldn’t believe it was still daytime. And more over, the sun had come out! Something so cosmically abysmal just seemed like it should be swallowing any and all light around it, but so it goes. Stately and ferocious, they cast their waves of of bleakness over a sea of nodding heads, and after years of missing them here, I was finally glad to have been clued in, even if I seemed to be the last one in the entire Main Stage space to have caught on. Which I probably was, because that’s the kind of hip I am. Which is to say, not at all.

Maybe it was partially a case of going easy on myself, but I once again didn’t budge from the Main Stage following the conclusion of Oranssi Pazuzu. Today was minimal back and forth, actually, which suited me just fine after two busy days of Roadburn 2017 bouncing from this venue to that one. I’d hit the Green Room twice before my evening was over, but was at the 013 the whole day, which after all the Extase and Het Patronaat yesterday almost made me feel insecure and restless — “Don’t you have somewhere you need to be, sir? Oh yeah, here,” and so on. Sometimes this festival plays tricks on your mind.

My reasoning in staying put was more than justified, though, with Warning coming on to play 2006’s Watching from a Distance in its entirety. I knew some of what to expect from a Patrick Walker performance after seeing him front 40 Watt Sun here in 2012, but of course Warning brought a presence all their own in addition to his melancholic emotionalism. They struck a hard balance between sonic weight and sheer heft-of-sadness, and yet as morose as they were, and as understated as their aura was on stage, they were never anything but engaging. Rare band, rare album, rare set. Warning (Photo by JJ Koczan)This Roadburn has had its share of special moments, and Warning fit that bill as well. There was something empowering about them, or at least validating, and as deep into their own headspace as they went, they never seemed to get lost there.

It’s not often you see a band play a full album and then want to go and put on that album directly afterward, but Warning doing Watching from a Distance had that effect. I can’t claim to know the record inside and out, but I felt fortunate to have had the chance to see the band bring it to life, which much to their credit, they did without losing the heart-wrenching resonance of the studio versions of the material.

Next door in the Green Room, the focus would soon be about an entirely different kind of crushing execution, as Belfast dual-guitar three-piece Slomatics made ready to take the stage. I got there about 20 minutes before they went on and was still too late to get a spot right up front. Should’ve figured. I’d heard people talking about how stoked they were to see them, and after being lucky enough to see them in Norway last September at Høstsabbat (review here), I also knew they weren’t to be missed. My timing being what it was, I still got there to see Jon Davis from Conan soundcheck the guest vocals he’d provide for closer “March of the 1,000 Volt Ghost,” and it was good to know that was coming.

Davis also released Slomatics‘ fucking excellent 2016 album, Future Echo Returns (review here), on Slomatics (Photo by JJ Koczan)his Black Bow Records imprint, so all the better to have him there alongside guitarists Chris Couzens and David Majury as well as drummer/vocalist Marty Harvey, who even before Davis showed up stomped out the most pummeling tones I’ve heard over the course of the last three days. “Electric Breath,” “Return to Kraken,” “And Yet it Moves,” “Supernothing” — this is the stuff of lumbering, rolling, molten doom supremacy, and as they’re five records deep into a tenure that one hopes continues into perpetuity, Slomatics know how to wield these weapons to glorious effect. I felt like I was going to pass out and ran downstairs to hammer down a quick dinner — chicken in some kind of tomato-based sauce with green and red peppers, jalapenos and cheese over lettuce; two plates in about five minutes — and was back in the Green Room in time to catch Davis‘ guest spot from the side of the stage and jump up to take a picture of the band when they were done playing. I never do that kind of thing, but Slomatics were nothing if not an occasion worth savoring.

Shit would only get more doomed from there. Like I said yesterday, everyone here makes their own Roadburn, and I knew how I wanted my night to go. I wanted it to go doom. That meant hanging out in the Green Room more for Ahab, which I was more than happy to do. The nautically-themed German funeral doomers were not a band I ever really expected to be able to see, and knowing how packed it got for Slomatics, I assumed much the same would ensue. I was right. Ahab probably Ahab (Photo by JJ Koczan)could’ve filled the Patronaat if the press of the crowd behind me half an hour before they even went on was anything to go by, but as it was they beat the Green Room into submission with their guttural, ultra-slow lurch and churning devastation.

It was by no means the same kind of grind that Memoriam were doling out on the Main Stage, but watching Ahab play was like witnessing the giant, five-foot-thick gears of some industrial revolution shipyard turning the assembled audience into powder. The very means of production brought to bear on all of our caved-in skulls. Yes, they were hyperbole-level heavy. Unremittingly so, and to a claustrophobic degree. I don’t know if it was during “Old Thunder” or “To Mourn Job,” but there was a point at which I had to remind myself that I’d actively wanted to be so brutally overwhelmed and so overwhelmed by brutality. Did that make the effect any less punishing? Not in the slightest, but thanks for asking.

There was only one place left to go to continue my downer trajectory: back to the Main Stage for My Dying Bride. Having the UK doom legends play 1993’s Turn Loose the Swans in full made an awful lot of sense after special sets in 2016 from Paradise Lost and in 2015 from Anathema and Fields of the Nephilim — I’m keeping my fingers crossed for Katatonia in 2018; never seen them and they’d seem to be next in line, despite not being British — and the drama unfolded early as frontman Aaron Stainthorpe hit the stage with violinist/keyboardist Shaun Macgowan for “Sear Me MCMXCIII.” Soon enough, founding guitarists Andrew Craighan and Calvin Robertshaw, bassist Lena Abé and drummer Shaun Taylor-Steels would join, and the full fray would be unleashed. Chances are I don’t need to tell you how influential My Dying Bride have been on the trajectory of the last two decades of doom, but suffice it to say I’m not sure I could’ve found a darker way to round out myMy Dying Bride (Photo by JJ Koczan) Roadburn 2017 Saturday night than to watch them deliver that level of scathe with that level of professionalism.

And no, I’m not just saying that because Stainthorpe wore a tie. With animation by Costin Chioreanu behind them, My Dying Bride were the consummate headliners. Mysticum were still to follow on the Main Stage with a production I’d caught in soundcheck earlier in the day that was probably the most elaborate I’ve ever seen in the 013 venue, but for me, My Dying Bride marked a culmination of what I wanted the evening to be, and so I knew my night was done. There’s always more to see at Roadburn. Always something you don’t get to. Always someone who, years down the road, you wonder, “What the hell was I doing that I missed that?” but sometimes when you’re in Tilburg, you’ve crafted your experience in such a way that makes sense at the time, and that was me tonight. Would’ve been hard pressed to find anything to top My Dying Bride anyway.

One day left in Roadburn 2017, which is something I know to be true because I only have two protein bars remaining — one for before the show, one for after. Tomorrow’s another early start to fold Weirdo Canyon Dispatch issues, so I’ll leave it there once again and say thank you for reading and if you’re so inclined, you can check out more pics after the jump.

Which is right frickin’ here:

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Friday Full-Length: Earth, HEX; or Printing in the Infernal Method

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 22nd, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Earth, HEX; or Printing in the Infernal Method (2005)

I think it’s safe to call Earth‘s HEX; or Printing in the Infernal Method one of the most pivotal albums of its decade. Released 11 years ago now in 2005 by Southern Lord, it not only marked the Seattle outfit’s first studio full-length since 1996’s also-essential Pentastar: In the Style of Demons and their fourth album overall (not counting a slew of live releases), but it set in motion a new phase of the long-running instrumental band’s progression that continues to evolve over a decade later while also casting out a massive influence over underground heavy rock. At this point, there are atmospheric-minded groups the world over drawing from what Earth accomplished in tracks like “Raiford (The Felon Wind)” who don’t even know they’re doing it. Itself working heavily off of Neil Young‘s Dead Man soundtrack, it’s become part of the pastiche of darker post-rock, heavy Americana and, of course, drone, which is the tag with which Earth are most often saddled, rightly or not.

But HEX; or Printing in the Infernal Method has more to offer than a blueprint other bands have (understandably) followed. From the opening role of “Mirage” through the minimalist melancholia of “Tethered to the Polestar,” it is Earth proffering a style of immersion that is entirely their own, capturing something evocative and wistful without words or cliche, without losing themselves in indulgence or letting go of the ambience of the work as a whole. It’s not an easy record to keep up with by any means — sometimes it can feel so still it’s like you’re looking at tiny ripples on a lake, or, perhaps more fitting to the mood, a breeze blowing across the top of overgrown grass — but the subtlety with which Earth, which at the time was comprised solely of founding guitarist Dylan Carlson and drummer Adrienne Davies, enact the broad, sweeping scope of tracks like “The Dire and Ever Circling Wolves” and the downward sloping “An Inquest Concerning Teeth” only enhances the effect of those songs and the rest of those around them. It is a landmark both for the band and for a swath of genres.

As noted, Earth have hardly kept still since. In addition to touring heavily, sundry splits and live albums and revisits of older works, they would go on to issue The Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull (discussed here), which brought rich color into a changing soundscape, and the 2011/2012 pair Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light I (review here) and Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light II (review here), which would introduce some of the British folk elements to Earth‘s sound that they’d continue to explore on 2014’s lush Primitive and Deadly (review here) and which would become crucial as well to Carlson‘s solo work under the moniker Drcarlsonalbion, most recently the full-length Falling with a Thousand Stars and Other Wonders from the House of Albion, which he released last month following a successful crowdfunding campaign for the physical pressing.

I hope you enjoy.

Next week, look out for streams from Los Disidentes del Sucio MotelNathanael LarochetteSwamp Witch and probably more. Still also want to get High Fighter and Colour Haze reviews going as well, and I’ve got an interview with Laura Dolan from Electric Citizen to get posted as well as an Obelisk Questionnaire from David Rodgers of Godhunter and the Southwest Terror Fest in the can, so one way or another it’ll be a full week. Also news and videos and all the rest of that good stuff.

I said as much yesterday on Thee Facebooks, but thank you for your continued support of this site. It’s been a crazy month or so with starting the new job and everything surrounding that, but I cannot tell you how far this project goes toward keeping me sane and I deeply, deeply appreciate your ongoing interest, encouragement and involvement in it. Thank you. Thank you for reading. Thank you.

Please have a great and safe weekend, and please check out the forum and radio stream.

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