Quarterly Review: Earth, Heilung, Thronehammer, Smear, Deadbird, Grass, Prana Crafter, Vago Sagrado, Gin Lady, Oven

Posted in Reviews on July 1st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

Deep breath. And… here we go.

Welcome to The Obelisk’s Summer 2019 Quarterly Review. You probably know the drill by now, but just in case, here’s what’s up: starting today and through next Monday, I’ll be reviewing 10 records per day for a total of 60. I’ve done this every three months (or so) for the better part of the last five years, each one with at least 50 releases included. Some are big bands, some are new bands, some are releases are new, some older. It’s a mix of styles and notoriety, and that’s exactly the intent. It’s a ton of stuff, but that’s also the intent, and the corresponding hope is that somewhere in all of it there’s something for everyone.

I’ll check in each day at the top with what usually turns out to be a “hot damn I’m exhausted, but this is worth it”-kind of update, but otherwise, if we’re all on board, let’s just get to it. First batch below, more to come.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Earth, Full Upon Her Burning Lips

earth

Finding post-Southern Lord refuge with Sargent House in similar fashion to Boris, Earth seem to act in direct response to 2014’s Primitive and Deadly (review here) with the 10-track/62-minute Full Upon Her Burning Lips, stripping their approach down to its two essential components: Dylan Carlson‘s guitar and Adrienne Davies‘ drums. The former adds bass as well, and the latter some off-kit percussion, but that’s about as far as they go in the extended meditation on their core modus — even the straightforward photo on the cover tells the story — psychedelic and brooding and still-spacious as the music is. Gone are folk strings or vocals, and so on, and instead, they foster immersion through not-quite minimalist nod and roll, Carlson‘s guitar soundscaping atop Davies‘ slow, steady pulse. It’s not nearly so novel as the last time out, but timed to the 30th anniversary of the band, it’s a reminder that if you like Earth, this dynamic is ultimately why.

Earth on Thee Facebooks

Sargent House website

 

Heilung, Futha

heilung futha

It might seem like an incongruity that something so based in traditionalism conceptually would also turn into experimentalist Viking jazz, but I defy you to hear “Galgadr,” the 10-minute opener of Heilung‘s third full-length, Futha (on Season of Mist), and call it something else. Cuts like the memorable and melodic “Norupo” and the would-be-techno-but-I-think-they’re-actually-just-beating-on-wood “Svanrand,” which, like “Vapnatak” before it, is rife with the sounds of battle, but it’s in the longer pieces, “Othan,” 14-minute closer “Hamrer Hippyer,” and even the eight-plus-minute “Elivgar” and “Elddansurin” that precede it, that Heilung‘s dramas really unfold. Led by the essential presence of vocalist Maria Franz — who could hardly be more suited to the stated theme of calling to feminine power — Heilung careen through folk and narrative and full cultural immersion across 73 minutes, and craft something willfully forward thinking from the history it embellishes.

Heilung on Thee Facebooks

Season of Mist website

 

Thronehammer, Usurper of the Oaken Throne

thronehammer usurper of the oaken throne

The reliable taste of Church Within Records strikes again in picking up Thronehammer‘s first full-length, Usurper of the Oaken Throne. The project is a dark and warmaking epic mega-doom working mostly in longform material — it’s six tracks/78 minutes, so yeah — conjured in collaboration by the trio of vocalist Kat Shevil Gillham (Lucifer’s Chalice, etc.), guitarist/keyboardist Stuart Bootsy West (ex-Obelyskkh, ex-The Walruz) and drummer/bassist Tim Schmidt (Seamount), that hits with a massive impact from 17-minute opener “Behind the Wall of Frost” into “Conquered and Erased” (11:24) and “Warhorn” (19:12), making for an opening salvo that’s a full-length unto itself and a beast of doomed grandeur that balances extremity with clearheaded presentation. They simplify the proceedings a bit for “Svarte Skyer” and the eponymous “Thronehammmer,” but are clearly in their element for the 15-minute closing title-track, which rounds out one of the best doom debuts I’ve heard so far this year with due heft and ceremony.

Thronehammer on Thee Facebooks

Church Within Records on Bandcamp

 

Smear, A Band Called Shmear

Smear A Band Called Shmear

Smear‘s live-recorded A Band Called Shmear EP is basically the equivalent of that dude getting dragged out of the outdoor concert for being at the bottom of the puffing clouds of smoke going, “Come on man, I’m not hurting anybody!” And by that I mean it’s awesome. The Eugene, Oregon, four-piece get down on some psychedelic reefer madness tapped into weirdo anti-genre tendencies that come to fruition in the verses of “Guns of Brixton” after the drifting freaker “Old Town.” The whole thing runs an extra-manageable 21 minutes, and six of that are dedicated to the fuzzed jam “Zombie” — tinged in its early going with a reggae groove — so Smear make it easy to follow their outward path, whether it’s the surf-with-no-water “Weigh” at the outset or “Quicksand,” which hints at more complex melodic tendencies almost in spite of itself. You like vibe, right? These cats have plenty to go around, and they deliver it with an absolute lack of pretense. Whatever they do next, I hope they also record it live, because it clearly works.

Smear on Thee Facebooks

Smear on Bandcamp

 

Deadbird, III: The Forest Within the Tree

deadbird iii the forest within the tree

One hesitates to speculate on the future of a band who’ve just taken 10 years to put out an album, but Deadbird sound vital on their awaited third full-length: III: The Forest Within the Tree (arrived late 2018 through 20 Buck Spin), and with a revamped lineup that includes Rwake vocalist Chris Terry and Rwake/The Obsessed bassist Reid Raley as well as bassist Jeff Morgan, guitarist Jay Minish and founders Phillip (drums) and Chuck (guitar) Schaaf and Alan Short — all of whom contribute vocals — Deadbird emerge from the ether with a stunningly cohesive and varied outing of post-sludge, tinged Southern in its humid tonality but still very much geared toward heft and, certainly more than I recall of their past work, melody. In just 38 minutes they push the listener into this dank world of their creation, and seem to find just as much release in experiments “11:34” and “Ending” as in the crashes of “Brought Low” or “Heyday.” Are they really back? Hell if I know, but these songs are enough to make me hope so.

Deadbird on Thee Facebooks

20 Buck Spin on Bandcamp

 

Grass, Fresh Grass

grass fresh grass

Brooklyn four-piece Grass released a live recording in 2017, but the late-2018 EP Fresh Grass marks their studio debut, and it comprises five tracks digging into the traditions of heavy rock with edges derived from the likes of Clutch, Orange Goblin, maybe a bit of Kyuss and modern bluesier practitioners as well in cuts like “Black Clouds” — the lone holdover from one release to the next — and the swaggering “Runaway,” which veers into vocal layering in its second half in a way that seems to portend things to come, while the centerpiece “Fire” and closer “Easy Rider” roll out in post=’70s fashion a kind of rawer modern take. Their sound is nascent, but there’s potential in their swing and the hook of opener “My Wall.” Fresh Grass is the band searching for their place within a heavy rock style. I hear nothing on it to make me think they won’t find it, and if they were opening the show, you’d probably want to show up early.

Grass on Thee Facebooks

Grass on Bandcamp

 

Prana Crafter, MindStreamBlessing

Prana Crafter MindStreamBlessing

Reissued on vinyl through Cardinal Fuzz with two bonus tracks, Prana Crafter‘s 2017 offering, MindStreamBlessing, originally saw release through Eidolon Records and finds the Washington-based solo artist Will Sol oozing through acid folk and psychedelic traditions, instrumentally constructing a shimmer that seems ready for the platter edition it’s been granted. Songs like “As the Weather Commands” and “Bardo Nectar” are experiments in their waves of meandering guitar, effects and keys, while “Mycellial Morphohum” adapts cosmic ecology to minimal spaciousness and vague spoken word. Some part of me misses vocals in the earthy “FingersFlowThroughOldSkolRiver,” but that might just also be the part of me that’s hearing Lamp of the Universe or Six Organs of Admittance influences. The interwoven layers of “Prajna Pines,” on the other hand, seem fine without; bluesy as the lead guitar line is, there’s no doubting the song’s expressive delivery, though one could easily say the same of the krautrock loops and keys and reverb-drenched solo of “Luminous Clouds.”

Prana Crafter on Thee Facebooks

Cardinal Fuzz webstore

 

Vago Sagrado, Vol. III

vago sagrado vol iii

Heavy post-rockers Vago Sagrado set a peaceful atmosphere with “K is Kool,” the opening track of their third album, Vol. III, that is hard to resist. They’ll soon enough pump in contrast via the foreboding low end of “La Pieza Oscura,” but the feeling of purposeful drift in the guitar remains resonant, even as the drums and vocals take on a kind of punkish feel. The mix is one that the Chilean three-piece seem to delight in, reveling in tonal adventurousness in the quiet/loud tradeoff of “Fire (In Your Head)” and the New Wave shuffle of “Sundown” before “Centinela” kicks off side B with the kind of groove that Queens of the Stone Age fans have been missing for the last 15 years. Things get far out in “Listen & Obey,” but Vago Sagrado never completely lose their sense of direction, and that only makes the proceedings more engaging as the hypnotic “One More Time with Feeling” leads into the nine-minute closer “Mekong,” wherein the wash teased all along comes to fruition.

Vago Sagrado on Thee Facebooks

Vago Sagrado on Bandcamp

 

Gin Lady, Tall Sun Crooked Moon

gin lady tall sun crooked moon

I’m more than happy to credit Sweden’s Gin Lady for the gorgeous ’70s country rock harmonies that emanate from their fourth album, Tall Sun Crooked Moon (on Kozmik Artifactz), from the mission-statement opener “Everyone is Love” onward, but I think it’s also worth highlighting that the 10-track outing also features the warmest snare drum sound I’ve heard maybe since the self-titled Kadavar LP. The Swedish four-piece have nailed their sound down to that level of detail, and as they touch on twang boogie in “Always Gold” or find bluesy Abbey Roadian deliverance in the more riff-led chorus of “Gentle Bird,” their aesthetic is palpable but does not trump the straight-ahead appeal of their songwriting. The closing duo of “The Rock We All Push” and the piano-soother “Tell it Like it Is” are the only two tracks to push past five minutes long, but by then the mood is well set and if they wanted to keep going, I have a hard time imagining they’d meet with complaints. Serenity abounds.

Gin Lady on Thee Facebooks

Kozmik Artifactz website

 

Oven, Couch Lock

oven couch lock

For an EP called Couch Lock — i.e., when you’re too stoned to even stand up — there’s an awful lot of movement on Oven‘s debut release, from the punk thrust of “Get It” to the arrogant sleaze of “Go James” and even the drums in “This Time.” And the nine-minute “Dark Matter” is basically space rock, so yeah, hardly locked to the couch there, but okay. The five-tracker is raw in its production as would seem to suit the Pennsylvania trio, but they still get their point across in terms of attitude, and a closing cover of Nebula‘s “To the Center” seems only to reinforce the notion. One imagines that any basement where they unleash that and the nod that culminates “Dark Matter” just before it would have to be professionally dehumidified afterward to get the dankness out, and an overarching sense of stoner shenanigans only adds to the good times that so much of East Coast-ish psych misses the point on. They’re having fun. You should too.

Oven on Bandcamp

Oven on Thee Facebooks

 

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The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio Recap: Episode 18

Posted in Radio on June 24th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk show banner

Before I get started, I want to say thanks to Mark Kitchens from Stone Machine Electric for the artwork above. He did the platypus design and I added the blue background and yellow text kind of thinking it would be like one of those old title cards from David Letterman or something. I love it, so yeah. Thanks, Mark.

Like the prior episode, this one was themed around a playlist of some of the best of 2019 so far. I actually didn’t get to hear the whole show because I was at Maryland Doom Fest this past weekend, but I did check in on it while doing other stuff in Frederick. One way or the other, the playlist starts with Holy Grove and has Yawning ManMagic CircleDuelNebulaRoadsawEarth and Across Tundras on it, so you know it’s going to be killer. Really, the only thing I’d have listened for was to make sure I didn’t ruin it with my own derpy derp derp.

I wanted to include some lesser-known stuff here too, so check out the Cosmic Fall, SÂVEREaldor Bealu and Mount Saturn tracks if you haven’t, and that Centrum at the end I really dig a lot. Hell, the whole thing is great. You really can’t go wrong when your operating theme is “stuff that’s awesome.”

Thanks if you got to check it out.

Here’s the full playlist:

The Obelisk Show – 06.21.19

Holy Grove Valley of the Mystics Holy Grove II 0:10:37
Duel Drifting Alone Valley of Shadows 0:04:27
The Well Death Song Death and Consolation 0:04:48
BREAK
Across Tundras The Rugged Ranges of Curbs & Broken Minds The Rugged Ranges of Curbs & Broken Minds 0:06:58
Yawning Man I Make Weird Choices Macedonian Lines 0:07:21
Cosmic Fall Lackland Lackland 0:08:32
Lamp of the Universe Rite of the Spheres Align in the Fourth Dimension 0:05:12
SÂVER Dissolve to Ashes They Came with Sunlight 0:07:43
Atala Upon the Altar The Bearer of Light 0:06:06
Magic Circle I’ve Found My Way to Die Departed Souls 0:05:11
BREAK
Mount Saturn Idol Hands Kiss the Ring 0:04:11
Nebula Man’s Best Friend Holy Shit 0:04:56
Ruff Majik Seasoning the Witch Tårn 0:06:31
Earth An Unnatural Carousel Full Upon Her Burning Lips 0:06:51
Ealdor Bealu Smoke Signals Spirit of the Lonely Places 0:07:32
BREAK
Roadsaw Under the Devil’s Thumb Tinnitus the Night 0:03:54
Centrum Sjön För Meditation 0:08:39

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio airs every other Friday at 1PM Eastern, with replays every Sunday at 7PM Eastern. Next show is July 5. Thanks for listening if you do.

Gimme Radio website

The Obelisk on Thee Facebooks

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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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