Album Review: Ellis/Munk Ensemble, San Diego Sessions

Posted in Reviews on July 30th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Ellis Munk Ensemble San Diego Sessions

And a significant ensemble it is. Traveling from his native Denmark to San Diego, California, guitarist Write My Assignment For Criminology Study online at professional essay writing service. Order custom research academic papers from the best trusted company. Just find a great help for Jonas Munk of heavy psych innovators We offer affordable custom essay writing services for UK students. Our Get More Info are original and written according to your specific requirements. Causa Sui was set to meet up in Sept. 2019 with Dissertation Proposal Service York University - begin working on your assignment right away with top-notch guidance guaranteed by the service forget about your fears, place your Brian Ellis ( Buy Essay. Looking to buy Why choose Ultius when Moving Company Business Plan? Ultius deeply understands your frustration when it comes to buying essays for reference Astra, my posse don t do homework Research Paper About Leaderships editing research paper best resume writing service dc engineers Psicomagia, writing phd thesis word Business Plan Help Los Angeles college essay prompt ideas homework help for water report Birth, etc.) whose solo work has been issued through Looking for the best Essay About Conflict? Before you make the final choice, check out our independent reviews. Compare prices, quality & more! Causa Sui‘s label, more info here - Dissertations, essays and research papers of top quality. work with our writers to get the quality essay El Paraiso Records. By the account in the liner notes for the release, it wasn’t the first time Check out why it is important to read the best http://khaled-abed.com/?custom-t-shirt-company-business-plans. Only this way will you have access to top quality work delivered on time, and Munk made the trip, but it would seem to have been an occasion nonetheless, as Essay Writing Services Online is best for Thesis Writing Service in US, UK, Australia and Canada.We provide read here services for all degree Munk and help with writing pseudocode iwe Write My Essay Without Plagiarism secondhand clothing thesis phd accountant resume Ellis, based in Escondido, were to spearhead what has been tagged as the click site online at professional essay writing service. Order custom research academic papers from the best trusted company. Just find a great help for Ellis/Munk Ensemble featuring players from bands like All of our essays for sale are completely original and unique. Ottawa Public Library Homework Help means we have to provide a great value to our customers. Radio Mosow, Business Plan Writer Edmonton and Writing Services Online. Coming up with an authentic annotated bibliography paper can be a tasking venture Sacri Monti, There are enough Example Of Rationale In Research Papers around the web. If you are wondering why you should choose our website to assist you in studying - click here! Psicomagia, Joy and others. It’s a pretty extensive roster. To wit:

Brian Ellis (keys) – Astra, Silver Sunshine, Brian Ellis Group, Psicomagia, Birth, etc.
Jonas Munk (guitar) – Causa Sui, various solo-projects and collaborations

Plus:
Dominic Denholm (bass) – Monarch
Thomas DiBenedetto (drums/guitar) – Sacri Monti, Monarch, ex-Joy
Dylan Donovan (guitar) – Sacri Monti, Pharlee
Paul Marrone (drums) – Astra, Cosmic Wheels, Radio Moscow, Psicomagia, Birth, Brian Ellis Group
Trevor Mast (bass) – Birth, ex-Joy, Psicomagia, Brian Ellis Group
Anthony Meier (bass/keys) – Sacri Monti, Radio Moscow
Conor Riley (keys) – Astra, Silver Sunshine, Birth
Andrew Velasco (percussion) – Love, the City & Space
Andrew Ware (drums) – Monarch
Evan Wenskay (organ) – Sacri Monti
Kyre Wilcox (bass) – Truth on Earth

The most striking thing about this lineup — aside from the fact that among the 12 participants, there are no women — is the sheer amount of overlap. Members of Sacri Monti playing in Monarch and Joy, members of Astra resurfacing in Birth, and so on. Like any scene worthy of the designation, San Diego is plenty incestuous, but in no small part that’s essential to what makes it the heavy psych haven it’s become. The entire situation is fluid, so how could the music be anything else?

With Munk‘s arrival in town as impetus for the get-together, San Diego Sessions arrives (via El Paraiso) as seven tracks/48 minutes carved out from these several evenings’ worth of jams and fits with Munk and Ellis‘ apparently shared vision of the stylistic interaction between psychedelia and jazz. Indeed, the stated comparison is to Miles Davis‘ Bitches Brew, and track titles like “Pauly’s Pentacles,” “Munk’s Dream” — as opposed to “Monk’s Dream,” i.e. Thelonius Monk — and “Larry’s Jungle Juice” honor that tradition as well, as does the immediate thrust and twist of 10-plus-minute opener “The Wedge,” which features eight players, three of whom are on keys, and sets a tone with scorching runs of lead guitar atop intricate rhythmic turns.

ellis munk ensemble personnel

One thing: they picked their drummers right. In MarroneDiBenedetto and Ware, the Ellis/Munk Ensemble — whoever else happens to be around at any given moment — have some of the best San Diego’s underground has to offer on board when it comes to drums, Mario Rubalcaba of Earthless notwithstanding. With this foundation, guitarists like Munk — who appears on every track except the penultimate madcap freakout “Larry’s Jungle Juice”; Ellis likewise sits out the brief but spacious “Munk’s Dream” — Donovan and DiBenedetto are able to freely explore various reaches and textures of sound, and so the variety of San Diego Sessions stems as much from its sonic moods as from its personnel.

Still, much of the tone — and much of the album, frankly — happens at the outset with “The Wedge” and “Pauly’s Pentacles.” As the latter tops 11 minutes, the two songs comprise 22 of the total 48-minute stretch here, so not an insignificant portion, and more important, it’s in them that the spirit of San Diego Sessions is established in looking toward the aforementioned tradition of the jazz session. “The Wedge” locks in a solid groove early before spinning heads with guitar and keys alike, and “Pauly’s Pentacles” turns more mellow lead vibes into a vibrant apex ahead of dipping into a bit of cosmic funk, the drifting end of which is a suitable transition into the ethereal “Munk’s Dream” — the shortest inclusion at just 2:24 but an atmospheric highlight nonetheless.

By the time, then, that they dip into album-centerpiece “Electric Saloon,” which runs just under nine minutes long, the expectation is wide open for what might actually take place within that span of time but set in the sphere of heavy psychedelic improv. “Bucket Drips,” which follows, is another more meditative vibe, so “Electric Saloon” is given a mindful showcase, led into and out of as it is. It’s a two-sided LP and certainly there’s a flow across the span as one jam ends or fades out and the next arrives, but one might think of San Diego Sessions as taking place in three distinct movements: the opening two, the middle three, and the finishing two. Elements of personality drift in and out along the way — much like the people — but the way in which the pieces complement each other, right up to how the finishing chase of “Larry’s Jungle Juice” gives way to the smoother procession of “Stone Steps” to close out with a relative wash of keys, is such that each chapter has something of its own to offer the listener.

There is further nuance to how the pieces are arranged and how they bleed from one to the next that one might point out, but what that goes to underscore is the fact that San Diego Sessions has been carved out from the raw material that emerged over those nights. It’s got its warts-and-all feel intact, but one assumes there was more recorded than appears in the completed product. Maybe that means a San Diego Sessions 2 is in the offing, or maybe these were all the highlights; I don’t know. But Ellis/Munk Ensemble captures a special stretch of time when talented players — many of whom already had established chemistry from years of collaboration in various bands — joined together to welcome a friend into the fold.

The instrumental and improvisational nature of the record might mean that not every listener is up for making the trip, but what comes through most of all in the tracks is the feeling of celebration, of challenging each other, of playing with sound and technique like the implements of magic they are, and of enjoying all of it. That atmosphere is infectious.

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Monarch Post “Face to Face” Video; Release Enough’s Enough: Live at Steel Mill

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 22nd, 2020 by JJ Koczan

monarch

This February, San Diego’s Monarch announced their first-ever European tour dates. The San Diego-based band would’ve just been the latest export from their hometown’s enviable — and envied — heavy psychedelic underground scene, and they would’ve headed abroad supporting their 2019 offering, Beyond the Blue Sky (review here), which of course was their second album through Denmark’s El Paraiso Records behind 2017’s Two Isles (review here). As part of that run, they would have taken part in Tube Cult Festival in Italy, Desertfest in London, and I know I was looking forward to seeing them at Esbjerg Fuzztival in Denmark, where they’d have shared the stage with their label heads in Causa Sui and others.

Those plans, naturally, went the way of everyone’s plans for anything in the first half of 2020, and though Monarch are currently listed as taking part in Finland’s Sonic Rites Festival on Oct. 30-31 and may have more tour dates surfacing around that, monarch enoughs enough live at steel millit was still one of the multitudes of the bummers of this past Spring to see their tour come apart. So. It. Goes.

As civil unrest across the United States has not-inappropriately taken precedent over the that pesky pandemic (that just because it’s not the top story anymore has stubbornly not stopped killing people), Monarch have chosen to take part in raising funds for Black Lives Matter by posting the new four-song live performance titled simply Enough’s Enough: Live at Steel Mill recorded in San Diego at Steel Mill Coffee, which is owned by pro skaters Riley Hawk and Shea CooperHawk also took part in filming the new video for “Face to Face” that you can see below. The song is more recent even than Beyond the Blue Sky, so Enough’s Enough is a chance to get a sneak peak at the next stage in Monarch‘s evolution, but to hear live versions of “Assent” from Two Isles and “Pangea” and “Felo De Se” from the second record, supporting a good cause with good prog. You can’t really go wrong there.

I don’t know Monarch‘s plans for their next record, if anyone’s daring to plan for anything at this point, but “Face to Face” is a most welcome eight minutes of prog-psych escapism, further distinguishing Monarch‘s personality as a band among the classic minded vibemakers from the City in Motion.

Video and stream both follow below. 100 percent of the $20 for the live album download goes to Black Lives Matter.

Enjoy:

Monarch, “Face to Face” official video

Been a while since we’ve made any noise here but today we break our silence! Announcing the release of a new live recording “ Enough’s Enough “ Live Steel Mill Coffee paired alongside a video for our newest song “ Face to Face”….

This release is available on our bandcamp – https://monarch4.bandcamp.com/album/enoughs-enough-live-at-steel-mill paired with a limited run of t-shirts w/art done by @hartchaseman.

100% of proceeds from the record & shirts will be donated to Black Lives Matter in the fight against racial injustice and police brutality ! Huge shout out to @rileyhawk @justsomedude @paconertz for the camera work, enjoy!

Filmed by : Jacob Nunez, Riley Hawk, Lannie Rhoades
Edited by : Jacob Nunez
Mixed by : Dominic Denholm
Mastered by : Mike Tholen

Monarch is:
Dominic Denholm – Guitar/Vocals
Thomas Dibenedetto – Guitar
James Upton – Guitar
Matt Weiss – Bass
Andrew Ware – Drums

Monarch, Enough’s Enough: Live at Steel Mill (2020)

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Kanaan, Odense Sessions: Consecutive Seconds

Posted in Reviews on February 27th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

kanaan odense sessions

On the Danish island of Funen, westward across the Storebæltsbroen from (old) Zealand and Amager, where Copenhagen is located, is the city of Odense. The city is home to, among other things, the studio of Jonas Munk, who is best known for his guitar and production work as a part of Danish psych-desert-jazz pastoralists Causa Sui, as well as his solo work and efforts as a part behind the scenes of El Paraiso Records. The label released the debut album from Oslo, Norway’s Kanaan, Windborne, in 2018, and for the follow-up, Munk not only helmed the recording in Odense, but sat in on guitar on each of the LP’s four tracks, adding to the semi-improvised fluidity of guitarist Ask Vatn Strøm, bassist Eskild Myrvoll and drummer Ingvald André Vassbø and further fleshing out the 46-minute instrumentalist set that speaks less immediately to the nuance and bop of jazz than to the atmospheric reach of psychedelia, and while particularly the 14-minute capper “Urgent Excursions to the Tundrasphere” has underlying motion in its steady punctuation of snare and the entire album prior wants little for movement, the overarching vibe of Odense Sessions is much more about casting a laid back, serene immersion for the listener.

I’m not sure it’s fair to call Odense Sessions hypnotic, since Kanaan and Munk aren’t exactly working toward simply inducing a trance either on their audience or entirely on themselves, but the nature of its flow and the ease-into-groove it hones ahead of its last freakout is such that, should one want to put it on and simply check out mentally for three quarters of an hour, it’s certainly possible to do so. At the same time, the longform liquefaction of “Seemingly Changeless Stars” (11:51) at the outset brings a gorgeous sense of drift to the album’s beginning that is nothing if not worth conscious attention. The trio-plus-one build into a procession that very much works in that vein, with one guitar following the bass and drums while the other peppers with ambience and weaves around the central rhythm being crafted. By the time they’re five minutes in, Vassbø‘s drums have grown louder and the guitars more prevalent — bass is steady, an anchor, present, not staid; could be louder in the mix but I almost always say that about everything — and the smoothness of the build is more apparent, even as it continues to mount.

Payoff arrives circa 10 minutes in with the inclusion of what sounds like Mellotron but might just be synth, but it’s important to note that the peaceful feel with which the song started remains, even as the wash is at its most fervent in “Seemingly Changeless Stars” before it drops back to standalone guitar and the drums begin the 8:11 “Of Raging Billows Breaking on the Ground” (there’s that bass). The later moments of Windborne dug into riffier fare, so it’s not out of character for Odense Sessions to do so either on its only track under 11 and a half minutes long, but the side A closer soon enough transitions into its own outward exploratory motion and the question becomes whether or not Kanaan are going to shift back to that central riff they introduced earlier. They don’t make the listener wait to find out, as at about five and a half minutes in, the figure returns as the bed beneath an overarching drift of lead guitar — one presumes that’s Munk while Strøm is holding down the rhythm, but it could just as easily be the opposite — and takes hold again of the proceedings in a triumphant return during the final minute in a skillfully executed blend of improvisation and structure. It is pulled off righteously and ends the first half of Odense Sessions on a high note.

kanaan (Photo by Jenny Berger Myhre)

Side B is the longer of the two on the LP, but that seems unlikely to cause complaints as “Vacant Spaces” (11:39) and the already-noted “Urgent Excursions to the Tundrasphere” begin to unfold, the former starting off in mirror fashion to “Seemingly Changeless Stars” with a quiet stretch of interweaving guitar lines and a could-listen-to-it-all-day peacefulness of mood that is genuinely affecting. Myrvoll and Vassbø pull together a subdued swing behind the two guitars that is not to be understated for how effective it is in carrying the proceedings forward and engaging the listener in the spirit of the song. Four minutes pass like it’s nothing, then five, and as they move toward six, the linear build becomes more apparent, and though it’s a bittersweet to let go of the stillness and the meditative moment at the beginning of “Vacant Spaces,” the track moves through a slowly rolling motion that is still kind of an understated crescendo, worthy of its beginning and not at all overdone, but definitely a journey from one end to the other. One might say the same of the closer, or the album as a whole, and not be at all incorrect.

It would seem to be the aforementioned snare that earns the word “urgent” in the title of “Urgent Excursions to the Tundrasphere,” while the “excursion” in question is obviously the all-go-all-gone sensibility of the improvisational undertaking and the “Tundrasphere” perhaps an acknowledgement of Kanaan‘s northern origins and the nonetheless spaced-out spirit they case. A central difference between Odense Sessions and Windborne is in the simple rawness of the tones on the earlier release. The guitar, even when not casting thicker riffing, could have a bite to it that Odense Sessions trades out in favor of the warmth that, even as the finale shifts to its most active riffing and soloing, is maintained. Loud or quiet, it’s not a challenge to hear the fruit borne of the collaboration between Vassbø, Strøm, Myrvoll and Munk, and as “Urgent Excursions to the Tundrasphere” hits its peak with its howls of synth and guitar and tom fills, it’s worth noting that Kanaan once more bring it back to ground to close out not on a raucous note, but a peaceful one, spending the last three minutes of the song in a sunshiny soundscape that, while still perhaps reeling from the tension prior, is purposefully removed from it.

That ending is fairly earned and wholly satisfying, and one only hopes that whatever Kanaan do next — whether it’s in collaboration with Munk, anyone else, or on their own — they take the experience of Odense Sessions and learn from it as they move forward. Given the inclusion of a fourth personage here, it’s hard to relate the LP directly to Windborne in terms of an overall progression of the band, but even the fact of their willingness to explore beyond their own bounds speaks to their open creative spirit, and that can only continue to serve them well. It definitely does in these tracks.

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Monarch Announce First-Ever European Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 20th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

monarch

San Diego classic heavy rock pastoralists Monarch were already announced as taking part in Desertfest London and Esbjerg Fuzztival, so a tour was suspected, but it’s nice to have confirmation that, indeed, that’s the plan. The five-piece will go abroad for the first time while supporting their second album, Beyond the Blue Sky (review here), which came out last August on El Paraiso Records. The final date of the run is the aforementioned Esbjerg Fuzztival in Denmark, where they’ll join fellow San Diegans Sacri Monti as well as El Paraiso label heads Causa Sui on the bill, rounding out the tour on what would seem to be a planned high note. It’s a month-long stretch, so as an initial incursion abroad it’s not unambitious, but I have a hard time imagining they won’t find welcome in all corners.

Tour is presented by Ya Ya Yeah Booking and El Paraiso. Here’s the band’s announcement:

MONARCH TOUR

Very excited to announce our maiden voyage across the pond this upcoming spring! More dates TBA. Thanks to Ya Ya Yeah and El Paraiso Records for helping us make this happen! See you soon Europe…

09 APR FR Le Havre Mc Daid’s
10 APR FR Clermont-Ferrand Raymond Bar
11 APR BE Liege Insert Name Festival #6
12 APR DE Kusel Willkommen im Dschungel
14 APR DE Aachen The Wild Rover Irish Pub
15 APR PL Poznan Klub u Bazyla
16 APR PL Gdansk GAK Plama
17 APR DE Berlin Zukunft am Ostkreuz HEADZ UP
18 APR PL Cracow Warsztat
19 APR PL Warsaw Potok : Drugi Dom Ludzi Rocka
21 APR DE Dresden Chemiefabrik
24 APR IT Sezzadio Cascina Bellaria Music Club
25 APR IT Pescara Tube Cult Fest
26 APR IT Treviso Krach Club
28 APR FR Troyes The Message
29 APR FR Nantes La Scène Michelet
02 MAY NL Zwolle Eureka Zwolle
03 MAY UK London Desertfest London
04 MAY UK Bournemouth Anvil Rockbar Bournemouth
05 MAY FR Rouen Le 3 Pièces Muzik’Club
06 MAY FR Dijon MondoFuzz
07 MAY FR Paris La Pointe Lafayette
09 MAY DK Esbjerg Esbjerg Fuzztival

Monarch is:
Dominic Denholm – Guitar/Vocals
Thomas Dibenedetto – Guitar
James Upton – Guitar
Matt Weiss – Bass
Andrew Ware – Drums

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Monarch Premiere “Counterpart” Video; Beyond the Blue Sky out Aug. 9

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 23rd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

monarch

The kind of sunshine that the rest of the world imagines only exists in Southern California plays a significant role in the listening experience of Monarch‘s second album, Beyond the Blue Sky. The title, of course, isn’t about the sun, but about the entirety of space, and the idea of leaving the planet’s atmosphere behind to launch into the void beyond. Fair enough for the cosmic impulses the classically progressive San Diego five-piece weave into the seven tracks/38 minutes of the El Paraiso Records LP, but they remain grounded with a natural sense of songwriting beneath the wash of effects, lush echoes, sax, synth and so on, as songs like opener “Hanging by a Thread” sneak their way into the frontal cortex and set up shop there via guitar-in-triplicate and groove to match, the band pushing aside some of the boogie for which their home-burg is known in favor of these interplanetary ambitions. Oh, it suits them just fine, whether in the ol’ roll ‘n’ nod of the aforementioned leadoff or the sax-laden fluidity of “Divided Path,” which follows.

“Hanging by a Thread” is both the opener and the longest song on Beyond the Blue Sky at 7:06 (immediate points), and “Divided Path,” “Pangea” and the centerpiece title-track follow in descending order (quadruple points?), so monarch beyond the blue skythe intent on Monarch‘s part toward listener-immersion is pretty well telegraphed, but as ever for the best of psychedelic rock, the point of the voyage is the going, and they go pretty far out. With the vocals of guitarist Dominic Denholm cutting through the wash of tone and fuzz on “Divided Path,” calling to mind Greg Lake-era King Crimson on the jazzy “Pangea” and the flow conjured all around by fellow guitarists Thomas Dibenedetto (also Sacri Monti) and James Upton, bassist Matt Weiss and Andrew Ware, unafraid to tap into country sweetness on “Beyond the Blue Sky” itself at the outset of a three-parter with the synthy “Phenomena” and the shimmering psych of “Counterpart” rounding out, with watery closer “Felo de Se” still to arrive, there’s no question they reach the level of engagement they seem to be shooting for at the launch, pulling their audience with them as they make every effort to live up to the title and, seemingly, getting there as well. Like its predecessor, Two Isles (review here), Beyond the Blue Sky has more than a few moments of outright gorgeousness, but it’s the way it all complements each other that makes it so essential.

Which it is. Even among the crowded ranks of San Diego, Monarch stand themselves out through the progressive modus of their approach, and while they share an affinity for classic stylizations with a good number of their peers, their take on it is decidedly their own and shines through performance and songwriting alike.

You can check out the premiere of a tripped-out video for “Counterpart” below, made by Ricky Macaw, who pretty much nailed it. Beyond the Blue Sky is out Aug. 9.

Enjoy:

Monarch, “Counterpart” official video premiere

There’s something refreshing about Monarch’s take on psychedelic rock: they aren’t afraid to weave allman brothers-esque dual guitar lines with synthesizers and saxophone. They can be heavy, but there’s an unmistakable panoramic quality to their compositions too, reflecting the rich and diverse environment they’ve grown up in, with dazzling pacific coastlines, mountains and desert highways.

Compared to their debut album, ”Two Isles” from 2016, Beyond The Blue Sky is a more complex record. The three year journey has led the band through several separate recording sessions and ended up going all-analog at Audio Design studios. It’s an album that’s meticulously crafted and with sights set on new musical territory. Their songwriting has matured and each track feels like a mini-epic, travelling unexpected routes before reaching their sonic destination. Nowhere is this more apparent than on the album’s centerpiece, the three-part Beyond The Blue Sky/Phenomena/Counterpart, where Monarch manages to fuse all their influences into one mammoth composition. It’s an album to drive off into a careless summer sunset and beyond.

Monarch is:
Dominic Denholm – Guitar/Vocals
Thomas Dibenedetto – Guitar
James Upton – Guitar
Matt Weiss – Bass
Andrew Ware – Drums

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Jonas Munk & Nicklas Sørensen to Release Always Already Here in August

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 4th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Alright, now you listen to me because I’m probably only going to say this seven or eight more times. You set some silly little alert on your phone or you sign up for an email list from El Paraiso Records or you do whatever you have to do, and when Jonas Munk & Nicklas Sørensen‘ debut collaborative album, Always Already Here, is back in for preorder, you get that order in and you make that happen, because it’s the only way they’re going to keep doing records together and FOR THE SAKE OF ALL HUMANITY, that is a thing we very much want. Munk, of course of Danish heavy prog-psych instrumentalists Causa Sui, and Sørensen, of countrymen expansive jammers Papir, have both done solo outings through El Paraiso in the past, and that’s super, but if you’re curious why I might be approaching this topic with such a measure of urgency, listen to the track “Shift” below. True, it’s only one song, and I’m sure it doesn’t necessarily speak to the character of the entire album, but god damn it, this is the kind of shit that when the aliens come to destroy our species because we wasted the planet, we’ll be able to point to and say, “Yeah, but some of us made this stuff,” and maybe, just maybe, get away unvaporized.

Release date is Aug. 16.

Make it so:

jonas munk nicklas sorensen always already here

Jonas Munk & Nicklas Sørensen: Always Already Here

We’re proud to announce this collaborative effort from Jonas Munk (Causa Sui) and Nicklas Sørensen (Papir), out August 16th! Read more and swim away in the 10 minute opening track here.

Jonas Munk and Nicklas Sørensen team up for a genre-defying record that explores American minimalism, psychedelia, and electronic music – both vintage and contemporary. On a foundation of interlocking guitar and synthesizer patterns, the duo constructs lengthy pieces that are experimental yet welcoming in nature, precisely executed yet with room for soaring improvisation.

Always Already Here pays homage to the masters of classical minimalism (Steve Reich, Terry Riley) and the pioneers of electronic music and kosmische (Brian Eno, Manuel Göttsching), still it doesn’t sound derivative or retrospective. The type of hypnotic bliss Munk and Sørensen strive for is distinctly timeless.

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Quarterly Review: Earthless, Satan’s Satyrs, Mantar, Child, T.G. Olson, Canyon, Circle of the Sun, Mythic Sunship, Svarta Stugan, Bast

Posted in Reviews on December 6th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

There isn’t enough coffee in the universe, but I’ve got mine and I’m ready to burn the living crap out of my tongue if that’s what it takes to get through. We’ve arrived at Day 4 of the Quarterly Review, and though we’re less than halfway to the 100-album goal set by some maniac sitting at his kitchen table with a now-burnt tongue, there’s been an awful lot of good stuff so far. More even than I thought going into it, and I slate this stuff.

That said, today’s list is pretty killer. A lot of these bands will be more familiar than maybe has been the case or will be on some of the other days of this Quarterly Review. It just kind of worked out that way as I was putting it together. But hey, a few bigger bands here, a few “debut EP” demos there. It’s all good fun.

So let’s go.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Earthless, From the West

earthless from the west

Bonus points to whatever clever cat correctly decided that Earthless‘ 2018 studio album, Black Heaven (review here), needed a companion live record. With artwork mimicking a Led Zeppelin bootleg of the same name, From the West arrives through Silver Current and Nuclear Blast capturing the most powerful of power trios earlier this year in San Francisco, and it’s like the fire emoji came to life. With Mike Eginton‘s bass as the anchor and Mario Rubalcaba‘s drums as the driving force, guitarist Isaiah Mitchell starts ripping holes in the fabric of spacetime with “Black Heaven” and doesn’t stop until 64 minutes later as “Acid Crusher” dissolves into noise. Of course “Gifted by the Wind” from the latest LP is a highlight, and suitably enough, they cover Zeppelin‘s “Communication Breakdown,” but I’m not sure anything tops the extended take on “Uluru Rock” from 2013’s From the Ages (review here) — and yes, I mean that. Of course they pair it with the 1:48 surge of “Volt Rush,” because they’re Earthless, and brilliant is what they do. Every set they play should be recorded for posterity.

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Satan’s Satyrs, The Lucky Ones

satans satyrs the lucky ones

Encased in cover art that begs the Spinal Tap question, “what’s wrong with being sexy?” and the response that Fran Drescher gave it, Virginia classic heavy rockers Satan’s Satyrs return with their fourth full-length, The Lucky Ones (on RidingEasy and Bad Omen), which also marks their first record as a four-piece with guitarist Nate Towle (Wicked Inquisition) joining the returning lineup of bassist/vocalist Clayton Burgess, guitarist Jared Nettnin and drummer Stephen Fairfield, who, between the fact that Burgess founded the band and played in Electric Wizard, and all the lead guitar antics from Nettnin and Towle, might be the unsung hero of the band. His performance is not lost in the recording by Windhand‘s Garrett Morris or Burgess‘ own hefty mix, and as one would expect, Satan’s Satyrs continue to deliver deceptively refined ’70s-heavy vibes caked in cult biker horror aesthetics. Some songs hit more than others, but Satan’s Satyrs‘ dust-kicking approach continues to win converts.

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Mantar, The Modern Art of Setting Ablaze

mantar the modern art of setting ablaze

One generally thinks of Hamburg duo Mantar as having all the subtlety of a bone saw caught on video, and yet, in listening to “Seek + Forget” from their third album, The Modern Art of Setting Ablaze (on Nuclear Blast), there are some elements that seem to be reaching out on the part of the band. Guitarist Hanno‘s vocals are more enunciated and discernible, there is a short break from the all-out blackened-sludge-punk assault that’s been their trade since their start in 2012, and “Obey the Obscene” even has an organ. Still, the bulk of the 12-track/48-minute follow-up to 2016’s Ode to the Flame (review here) is given to extremity of purpose and execution, and in pieces like the churning “Anti Eternia” and the particularly-punked “Teeth of the Sea,” they work to refine their always-present threat of violence. Closer “The Funeral” brings back some of the quiet moodiness of intro “The Knowing” and underscores the point of sonic expansion. I hope next time they use a string section.

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Child, I

child i

It took me a few minutes to get to the heart of what my problem with Child‘s I EP is. Really, I was sitting and listening to “Age Has Left Me Behind” — the first of the three included tracks on the 20-ish-minute 12″ — and I had to ask myself, “Why is this annoying me?” The answer? Because it’s not an album. That’s it. It’s not enough. Kudos to the Melbourne, Australia, heavy blues trio on having that be the biggest concern with their latest release — it follows 2016’s righteously-grooved Blueside (review here) — and kudos to them as well for their cover of Spirit‘s “The Other Song,” but of course it’s the 10-minute jam “Going Down Swinging” on side B that’s the immersive highlight of I, as Child‘s balance of softshoe-boogie and expansive mellow-psych is second to none in their subgenre. It’s not an album, and that’s kind of sad, but as a tide-ya-over until the next long-player arrives, I still does the trick nice and easy. And not to get greedy, but I’d take a II (or would it be You?) whenever they get around to it.

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T.G. Olson, Wasatch Valley Lady & The Man from Table Mountain

tg olson wasatch valley lady and the man from table mountain

Across Tundras frontman T.G. Olson, who by now has well lapped that band’s output with his solo catalog, would seem to have sat down with his guitar sometime in the last week and put two songs to tape. The resulting 10-minute offering is Wasatch Valley Lady & The Man from Table Mountain, its component title-tracks stripping down some of the more elaborate arrangements he’s explored of late — his latest full-length, Riding Roughshod (review pending; it’s hard to keep up), came out in October — to expose the barebones construction at root in his Rocky Mountain country folk style. “Wasatch Valley Lady” and “The Man from Table Mountain” make an engaging couple, and while Olson has a host of videos on YouTube that are similarly just him and his acoustic, something about the audio-only recordings feel like a voice out of time reaching for human connection. The first seems to have a natural fade, and the second a more prominent rhythm showcased in harder strum, but both are sweet melodies evocative as ever of open landscapes and wistful experience.

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Canyon, Mk II

canyon mk ii

The Deep Purple-referential Mk II title of Canyon‘s second EP, also the follow-up to their 2017 debut LP, Radiant Light, refers to the lineup change that’s seen Dean Welsh move to drums so that he and guitarist Peter Stanko can welcome bassist/vocalist Fred Frederick to the fold. The three included songs, the hooky “Mine Your Heart,” expansively fuzzed “Morphine Dreams” and bouncing “Roam” make a hell of a first offering from the reconstituted trio, who capture classic heavy naturalism in a chemistry between players that’s mirrored in the songwriting itself. Canyon‘s 2016 self-titled debut EP (review here) held marked promise, and even after the full-length, that promise would seem to be coming to fruition here. Their tones and craft are both right on, and there’s still some gelling to do between the three of them, but they leave no doubt with Mk II that this incarnation of Canyon can get there. And, if they keep up like this, get there quickly.

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Circle of the Sun, Jams of Inner Perception

Circle of the Sun Jams of Inner Perception

One man jams! Psych-jam seekers will recognize Daniel Sax as the drummer for Berlin-based trio Cosmic Fall. Circle of the Sun is a solo-project from Sax and Jams of Inner Perception collects six tracks for 39 minutes of adventuring on his own. Sax sets his own backbeat and layers bass and “effectsbass” for a full-lineup feel amid the instrumental creations, and those looking to be hypnotized by the space-rocking jams will be. Flat out. Sax is no stranger to jamming, and as one soaks in “Jamming in Paradise” or its nine-minute predecessor “Liquid Sand,” there’s little mistaking his intention. Curious timing that Circle of the Sun would take shape following a lineup change in Cosmic Fall — perhaps it was put together in the interim? — but whether Jams of Inner Perception is a one-off of the beginning of a new avenue for Sax, its turn to blues noodling on “Desert Sun,” thick-toned “Moongroove” and fuzzy roll on “Acid Dream” demonstrate there are plenty of outer realms still to explore.

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Mythic Sunship, Another Shape of Psychedelic Music

Mythic Sunship Another Shape of Psychedelic Music

The simplest way to put it is that Mythic Sunship‘s Another Shape of Psychedelic Music lives up to the lofty ambitions of its title. The Danish band is comprised of guitarists Kasper Stougaard Andersen and Emil Thorenfeldt, bassist Rasmus ‘Cleaver’ Christensen, drummer Frederik Denning and saxophonist Søren Skov, and with Causa Sui‘s Jonas Munk — who also produced the album — sitting in on the extended “Backyard Voodoo” (17:41) and “Out There” (13:53) as well as overseeing the release through El Paraiso, the band indeed makes there way into the far out reaches where jazz and psychedelia meet. It’s not about pretentiously saying they’re doing something that’s never been done. You’ll note it’s “another shape” and not a “new shape” or the “shape to come.” But immersion happens quickly on opener “Resolution” (14:23), and even quicker cuts like “Last Exit,” “Way Ahead” and “Elevation” carry the compelling spirit of forward-thinking creativity through their dynamic course, and if Mythic Sunship aren’t the shape of psychedelic music to come, it’s in no small part because there are so few out there who could hope to match what they do.

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Svarta Stugan, Islands / Öar

svarta stugan islands oar

Islands / Öar — the second word being the Swedish translation of the first — is the 40-minute debut full-length from Gothenburg atmospheric heavy post-rock instrumentalists Svarta Stugan, who demonstrate in influence from Hex-era Earth on the opener “Islands III” but go on in subsequent tracks to pull together a sound distinct in its cinematic feel and moody execution. Five out of the seven component tracks are “Islands” pieces, which are presented out of order with “Islands IV” missing and “Islands Unknown” perhaps in its place, and the respective side A/B finales “Inner Space” and “Prospects Quatsi” standing apart. Both bring to bear a style ultimately consistent with the melancholy so rife throughout Islands / Öar as a whole, but they’re obviously intended as outliers, and so they seem to be. The LP release follows a couple shorter outings, issued over the past six-plus years, and it’s clear from the depths and range on display here in the build-to-crescendo of “Inner Space” alone that Svarta Stugan haven’t misspent their time in their progression to this point.

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Bast, Nanoångström

bast nanoangstrom

Largesse of scope and largesse of tone work in tandem on Bast‘s Nanoångström full-length on Black Bow, as they bring together aspects of post-metallic churn and more extreme metal methods to hone a style highly individualized, highly weighted and as much cosmic as it is crushing. Through six tracks and 57 minutes, the London trio (plus two guest spots from Chris Naughton of Winterfylleth) careen and crash and set an atmosphere of chaos without actually being chaotic, their progressive craft working to tie the songs together into a larger impression of the work as a consuming entirety. It’s the kind of record you pick up and still hear new things in by the time they put out their next one. Production from Chris Fielding at Skyhammer Studio only helps creates the heights and depths of their dynamic, and whether they’re rolling out the severity of closer “The Ghosts Which Haunt the Space Between the Stars” or laying out the soundscape of “The Beckoning Void,” Bast shape the tenets of genre to suit their needs rather than try to work within the barriers of any particular style. Nanoångström is all the more complex and satisfying for their efforts in that regard.

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Causa Sui, Free Ride: Enduring Vibe

Posted in Reviews on November 7th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

causa sui free ride

If you only know Causa Sui through their latter day work in their Summer Sessions series (review herediscussed here), or on their 2016 and 2017 studio albums bringing together heavy psychedelic exploration with progressive krautrock/jazz fusion, Return to Sky (review here) and Vibraciones Doradas (review here), a revisit to 2007’s Free Ride is going to highlight just how different a band they’ve become in the ensuing 11 years. Out of print in its original edition as their first outing for Elektrohasch Schallplatten following their 2005 self-titled debut on Nasoni (some day that CD will be mine), Free Ride is given a new art treatment in 2018 to bring its original cover in line with the aesthetics of their imprint El Paraiso Records and is presented as a 71-minute 2LP remastered by the band’s own Jonas Munk that includes a side D comprised entirely of a 19-minute rendition of the song “El Paraiso” for which the label is named, recorded live at Roadburn 2007.

The inclusion of that signature piece has been listed as the definitive version, though it’s also appeared on the band’s live outings, 2014’s Live at Freak Valley (review here) and 2017’s Live in Copenhagen (review here), so indeed it’s a staple of their performances. And it’s not a minor inclusion here, even next to Free Ride closer “Newborn Road,” which consumes side C and is 15 minutes long, but it doesn’t necessarily define the vibe of the album itself. That work is done more by the way the album unfolds with the increasing immersion of its side A, with the acoustics of the opening title-track leading to the spacier push of “Lotus” and the fuzzy-crunch into spacious, Made in Japan-style buildup of “White Sun.” That song is a riot and has been for 11 years, but again, for those who’ve taken on Causa Sui really at any point since the release of 2013’s Euporie Tide (discussed here), Free Ride is going to be a surprise in its rock-based sound and even more for the inclusion of vocals.

Understand, it’s not a completely different sonic context, and with cuts like “White Sun,” side B leadoff “Passing Breeze” and “Newborn Road” ranging upwards and north of 10 minutes apiece — not to mention “El Paraiso” as a bonus track pushing the outing to eight songs in 71 minutes — the adventurousness of sound for which Causa Sui have become known is still visible in hindsight in this material. Even “Free Ride” and the easy-flowing “Flowers of Eventide” that caps side B with its acoustic guitars, flutes and tambourine speak to the open vibe with which the Copenhagen-based outfit were working at the time, but the presence of Kasper Markus on vocals as frontman along with Munk (who also recorded, mixed and mastered the album originally) on guitar, organ, electrics and vocals, bassist Jess Kahr, drummer/percussionist/cover artist Jakob Skøtt puts Free Ride roundly in the territory of heavy psychedelia. The classic boogie on “Lotus,” the atmospheric organ work on “White Sun,” the sweeping fuzz, drift and final culmination of “Newborn Road” all seem to commune with a heavy ’70s mindset, but at the same time it’s impossible to ignore the influence of what was then Europe’s burgeoning heavy psych scene, and I don’t think we’re meant to.

causa sui free ride lp

In the guitar tones, in Markus‘ vocal approach and in the propensity for fluid, well-directed jamming, Free Ride has always been a smooth fit in the Elektrohasch canon of the time, along with records by Colour Haze, Josiah and even The Kings of Frog Island, which isn’t to mention others like Sgt. Sunshine or fellow Danish groups Gas Giant and the more garage-minded Baby Woodrose. What distinguished Causa Sui then still distinguishes them now: their instrumental chemistry. Listening to the winding blast of fuzz in “El Paraiso” or the sheer forward movement of “Lotus” earlier in the record, the foundation of what the band has become in the years since is right there in the work of Kahr, Skøtt and Munk. They’d go on to develop it in various directions, of course, but there’s no taking away from the prowess or how well they work together on Free Ride, the live-sounding production of which is organic enough to transition easily into “El Paraiso” such that it feels more like the closing of a set than the end of an album.

And of course, underscoring the instrumentality of a reissue from a band who’d go on to work instrumentally is a good deal of historical lensing, but that’s not to take away from what Markus does on vocals either. He’s a significant contributor to the heavy psych feel of these tracks, whether it’s the echo stretching out to lead into the midsection jam of “White Sun” or his standing out front of the charge of the raucous fuzzer “Top of the Hill,” providing a human anchor to the frenetic momentum built as the track shifts into its second-half nod-out. Markus had appeared on the self-titled as well, and at the time it wasn’t known this would be his final studio offering with them so this isn’t like a guest dropping by the studio and, “Oh hey, while I’m here I’ll be the frontman.” He was a member of this band, and especially in that light, including the “El Paraiso” recording from Roadburn seems prudent, since it so excellently captures this form of Causa Sui on stage, which is clearly how they were meant to be experienced given the live feel of the recording itself.

But if Free Ride is arguing in favor of its listeners showing up to a Causa Sui gig, one can only count that point as having been made in the years since, given their position at the forefront of Europe’s heavy psychedelic underground, their fostering of acts through El Paraiso RecordsMunk and Skøtt‘s solo work, etc. They are, in fact, relentlessly creative, and what this reissue does — aside from the simple fact of making the album available again; which is enough reason on its own for it to exist — is capture that creativity as it was just beginning to bloom. A year later, they’d start their Summer Sessions series and continue it through 2008-2009, and from there expand their sound immensely as their interests led them along various other directions for the Pewt’r SessionsEuporie Tide and their work since. What Free Ride does, though, is present one of the two examples of the foundation from whence that expansion grew, and whether being viewed as a document of modern heavy psych in the making or just as a killer heavy rock record with immersive jams, natural tones and a soulful vocal and instrumental execution, there’s no question it stands up to the 11 years since it first arrived.

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