Across Tundras Release Complete Altered States Companion Remixes for Latest Album

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 11th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

I’ve been kind of expecting something like this, but it’s still kind of an overwhelming project. Since the release in June of Across Tundras‘ latest full-length, The Rugged Ranges of Curbs and Broken Minds (review here), founding guitarist/vocalist T.G. Olson has been going through and revisiting the album with track-by-track remixes, resulting in a series of digital EPs that have been trickled out one at a time over the past few months. He’s gone in order, one to the next through the entire album. They range from the “Hot Radio Mix” collection — which probably could’ve been released as the album proper — to more experimental styles like the “Ennio’s Mix” tracks, but the root of each is still the original itself. It’s in there somewhere. The only question is how hard one has to dig to find it.

Olson — self-releasing, as ever, through Bandcamp as a name-your-price download — has it organized in the same order as the tracklisting of the album, but as I’ve been going through, I’ve been listening to one version of the whole record at a time. I admit I’m not through the entire 28-track Complete Altered States at this point — only so many hours the day — but it’s a fascinating project however one might want to take it on. As Olson has done homemade CD box sets in the past, the chance to do a Complete Rugged Ranges collection seems to be self-evident.

Whether or not that comes to fruition, here’s the info off Bandcamp and the streams of both the remixes and the original for those feeling adventurous:

across tundras the rugged ranges complete altered states

Across Tundras – The Rugged Ranges of Curbs & Broken Minds ~ Complete Altered States

Altered States of The Rugged Ranges of Curbs & Broken Minds

released November 7, 2019

1. The Rugged Ranges of Curbs & Broken Minds (Ennio’s Mix) 03:35
2. The Rugged Ranges of Curbs & Broken Minds (Hot Radio Mix) 06:05
3. The Rugged Ranges of Curbs & Broken Minds (Stereo Cinemascope Instrumental Mix) 06:57
4. The Rugged Ranges of Curbs & Broken Minds (Campfire Mix) 05:52
5. Slow Down and Breathe (Ennio’s Mix) 02:29
6. Slow Down and Breathe (Hot Radio Mix) 04:18
7. Slow Down and Breathe (Stereo Cinemascope Instrumental Mix) 04:18
8. Slow Down and Breathe (Choral Mix) 06:22
9. Talkin’ Rust Cohle Existential Blues (Ennio’s Mix) 01:43
10. Talkin’ Rust Cohle Existential Blues (Hot Radio Mix) 04:22
11. Talkin’ Rust Cohle Existential Blues (Stereo Cinemascope Instrumental Mix) 05:41
12. Talkin’ Rust Cohle Existential Blues (Campfire Mix) 05:44
13. Boots of Snake Leather (Church Organ Mix) 04:44
14. Boots of Snake Leather (Hot Radio Mix) 04:14
15. Boots of Snake Leather (Stereo Cinemascope Instrumental Mix) 05:00
16. Boots of Snake Leather (Big Bass & Wide Slide Mix) 05:09
17. Whirlwind Reapin’ (Drone Out Mix) 03:00
18. Whirlwind Reapin’ (Hot Radio Mix) 05:17
19. Whirlwind Reapin’ (Stereo Cinemascope Instrumental Mix) 06:50
20. Whirlwind Reapin’ (Bass & Drumz Mix) 06:49
21. When We Were All One (Ennio’s Mix) 02:16
22. When We Were All One (Hot Radio Mix) 03:41
23. When We Were All One (Stereo Cinemascope Instrumental Mix 04:00
24. When We Were All One (Sky Jam Mix) 04:00
25. New War on the Range (Ennio’s Mix) 04:48
26. New War on the Range (Hot Radio Mix) 05:55
27. New War on the Range (Stereo Cinemascope Instrumental Mix) 07:39
28. New War on the Range (Thunder Jam Mix) 04:48

Tanner Olson ~ Ben Schriever ~ Caleb R.K. Williams ~ Abigail Lily O’hara ~ Noel Dorado

https://acrosstundras.bandcamp.com/

Across Tundras, The Rugged Ranges of Curbs and Broken Minds – Complete Altered States (2019)

Across Tundras, The Rugged Ranges of Curbs and Broken Minds (2019)

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Across Tundras, The Rugged Ranges of Curbs and Broken Minds: In the Ashes of Idealism

Posted in Reviews on June 18th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

across tundras the rugged ranges of curbs and broken minds

It has been six years since Across Tundras released their last full-length. That record, Electric Relics (review here), was a triumph of the band’s songwriting approach, blending elements from heavy rock and psychedelia with Americana and folk roots in a way that, even though they’d been at it for nearly a decade by then, still remained forward-thinking. It was also their first album to be released through their own imprint, Electric Relics Records, following 2011’s Sage (review here) coming out via Neurot and others released either by themselves and other labels. One could hardly say The Rugged Ranges of Curbs and Broken Minds follows a period of inactivity, given the fact that in the interim, the band has issued 2015’s Home Free EP (discussed here), a 2017 two-songer single, Blood for the Sun / Hearts for the Rain (discussed here), as well as various archival offerings, and founding guitarist/vocalist T.G. Olson has issued numerous solo full-lengths, singles and other releases, under his own name and several other incarnations, experimenting in folk, drone, assembled noise and so on, all being issued, like The Rugged Ranges of Curbs and Broken Minds, through Bandcamp with little to no prior announcement and as a name-your-price download and limited, usually hand-crafted, physical pressing.

That kind of promotional minimalism hasn’t done much for Across Tundras in terms of fanfare, but is has let Olson control and build his discography on his own terms, which is very much how the band operates throughout the new album, which, though again, they haven’t exactly been gone, has been nonetheless long awaited. To wit, before this stretch, the longest they’d gone between full-lengths was two years. And the crafting of these tracks would not seem to have been uncomplicated, recorded during moves between Nebraska and Nashville, Tennessee, with the final lineup of Olson, Ben Schriever, Caleb R.K. Williams, Abigail Lily O’Hara and Noel Dorado, but the fluidity that results serves as a reminder of what has always been a signature strength for Across Tundras in terms of creating space with their sound.

From their 2005 debut, Dark Songs of the Prairie onward, their mission has been in part to capture the spirit of a heavy Americana, and that remains true on The Rugged Ranges of Curbs and Broken Minds, but like the land itself, the shape that has taken in their sound has changed, and some of the ramble that found its way into Across Tundras‘ rolling grooves in years past has turned sullen, gazing less at shoes than out at an expanse of empty land, but gazing all the same. In darker moments like “Talkin’ Rust Cohle Existential Blues” or the wistful leadoff title-track, there’s a clear line to be drawn to some of Olson‘s recent solo work, which has blurred the lines between full-band-style soundcraft and guy-and-guitar folk, but one of The Rugged Ranges of Curbs and Broken Minds‘ most engaging aspects is the wash it creates and the deceptive depth of its mix, with pedal steel and drones resting far back behind the strumming electric guitar and voice, the drums subtle sometimes and more forward others, as when they lead the march of uptempo second cut “Slow Down and Breathe,” which boasts arguably the most memorable hook on the record, or in the later “Whirlwind Reapin’,” the midsection of which rises from a soundscape of distortion and heartsick melody to move into a wash of tone before closing with residual noise.

across tundras rock pile

Though it does not struggle to make an immediate impression, the album is best on repeat listens — a slow burner that lets the voice speaking at the beginning of the penultimate “When We Were All One” come through, and gives the soft-touch blues of centerpiece “Boots of Snake Leather” its proper room to breathe — and the more its genuine scope is revealed, the more those listens are earned. Whether it’s the tale-telling of “The Rugged Ranges of Curbs and Broken Minds” or the noisy, organ-laced finish of “New War on the Range,” which is also the longest track at 7:42, the band hold firm to an experimentalist purpose and care of arrangement that goes beyond the surface of Olson‘s songwriting, and the vision of the prairie they’re using as their backdrop is that much richer for it.

As a fan and someone who — if I didn’t get the point across — was waiting for a new Across Tundras LP to come out, The Rugged Ranges of Curbs and Broken Minds is all the more satisfying because it doesn’t ignore what Olson has done over the last six years. It ties to his solo work in a way that isn’t trying to be something that it’s not. It’s still rooted in that heavy Americana ideal, but more patient in its songwriting than the band have ever been, and more willing to, like the song says and eventually does, “Slow Down and Breathe” almost as an act of escapism from the modern chaos hinted at in the album’s title. In its blend of naturalist wash and country folk, it is both lush and organic, with Olson‘s mostly laid back, breathy post-Dylan vocal style providing the human core around which the other elements swirl and churn and do whatever else it is they might do.

All told, The Rugged Ranges of Curbs and Broken Minds is seven songs/43 minutes of material that pushes the band into places where they’ve never been, and while it does so, it seems to find itself closer to the heart of what they’ve been going for all along, that kind of resonance shared between emotionality and place. In the howling leads of “Talkin’ Rust Cohle Existential Blues” and the way “When We Were All One” seems to bask in imaginary sentiment — what could be more American? — Across Tundras are able to manifest their ideas in a way they’ve never been before, and they’re ultimately stronger for incorporating what Olson has learned in the intervening years of solo work in making that happen. Though the American underground is rife with heavy blues of various shapes and forms, Across Tundras are unto themselves, and whether one thinks of it as heavy bluesgaze folk or whatever else, The Rugged Ranges of Curbs and Broken Minds is a welcome reminder of that fact.

Across Tundras, The Rugged Ranges of Curbs and Broken Minds (2019)

Across Tundras on Thee Facebooks

Across Tundras/T.G. Olson on Bandcamp

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Across Tundras Release New Album The Rugged Ranges of Curbs and Broken Minds

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 10th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

You know, after six years, I just didn’t want the release of a new Across Tundras album to go unmarked. I’ll have a review up in about a week after I sit with the thing and give it its due — it’s currently slated for June 18, if you want to keep track; that may change — but just for my own satisfaction as a fan of the band, I wanted to put up a post just with the stream for anyone who wanted to check it out to do so and just to say, hey, here’s a thing that exists.

So yeah, it exists. It’s been a long time coming. I’d love to know the recording circumstances, as frontman, founder and principal songwriter T.G. Olson has been back and forth between Nebraska and Nashville over the last couple years, but I guess that’s concern for another day. If The Rugged Ranges of Curbs and Broken Minds was pieced together over however long, it certainly doesn’t lack fluidity for that. But all that is concern for another time. Right now, I’m just glad it’s out there. They put it out the same way Olson does his solo releases: with just about no prior notice and no fanfare — a link shared on social media and that’s it. There are CD and tape preorders though — got mine in — and I imagine if those sell through, the topic of vinyl will be broached.

But anyway, it’s a name-your-price download in the meantime, and you can listen below as well as on the Across Tundras/T.G. Olson Bandcamp page, as always. Dig it:

across tundras the rugged ranges of curbs and broken minds

The new full length album from Across Tundras is available now for free/name your price download!

Pre orders for CD and Cassette are up now. All proceeds go towards getting this album pressed on vinyl. We need your support to get this album on wax where it belongs!

Pulled from the jaws of defeat 2018-2019.

Sounds by T.G. Olson ~ Ben Schriever ~ Caleb R.K. Williams ~ Abigail Lily O’Hara ~ Noel Dorado. Recorded by T.G. Olson and Caleb R.K. Williams, Mastered by T.G. Olson, Caleb and Abigail appear courtesy of The Eagle Stone Collective.
eaglestone.bandcamp.com

Photography and design by T.G. Olson.

Tracklisting:
1. The Rugged Ranges of Curbs & Broken Minds 06:58
2. Slow Down and Breathe 06:24
3. Talkin’ Rust Cohle Existential Blues 05:42
4. Boots of Snake Leather 05:02
5. Whirlwind Reapin’ 06:50
6. When We Were All One 04:39
7. New War on the Range 07:42

Thanks to Jackson C. Frank, Carl Sandburg and Librivox Public Domain Recordings, Rainy Day Women, Dogs, Road Trippin’, Strange Days and YOU for listening.

BLUE CHEERS Y’ALL!

https://www.facebook.com/AcrossTundrasBand/
https://acrosstundras.bandcamp.com/

Across Tundras, The Rugged Ranges of Curbs and Broken Minds (2019)

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T.G. Olson, Riding Roughshod: Torch Songs

Posted in Reviews on December 27th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

tg olson riding roughshod

Even for T.G. Olson, four full-lengths in a year is a lot. The once and perhaps future guitarist/vocalist of Across Tundras started 2018 by issuing Owned and Operated by Twang Trust LLC and A Stone that Forever Rolls (both reviewed here) consecutively in February and March, and it would seem Autumn has been no less productive, with Earthen Pyramid (review here) in September, the two-songer single Wasatch Valley Lady and the Man from Table Mountain (review here), and the latest collection, Riding Roughshod at the end of October. One might perhaps speculate that the successive-month patterning of albums is the result of two especially productive writing periods, but given Olson‘s solo discography — I don’t even know what number release he’s up to in the past five-plus years, but it’s well into the teens at least, and more still if one counts his noise outfit Inget Namn or his drone incarnation Funeral Electrical, not to mention the odd Across Tundras offering here and there; it’s all up on the Bandcamp site for Electric Relics Audio Artifacts, his label, as name-your-price downloads — it’s hard to imagine a time at which he’s not writing songs.

It may well be he just had time in those two seasonal blocks to record when he didn’t over the summer. In any case, four full-length albums in eight months would be enough to make Hawkwind blush, but it’s not necessarily out of character for Olson, and it’s one of the reasons to most admire his project: it’s relentless. As subdued, as melancholic as some of his output can be — and certainly is on Riding Roughshod as well, its nine-song/36-minute run based around acoustic guitar and vocals with layers of wistful pedal steel and other, more experimental aspects rolled in — there is an immediacy to it as well. It is an attempt on Olson‘s part to capture the barebones roots of American folk music, and to put his own twist thereupon. Does that make a song like “Cautious Eyes” or the preceding “Chaser” something along the lines of experimentalist traditionalism? It’s in this collision of ideas that Olson seems most comfortable.

Recording specifics for Riding Roughshod are sparse, but it seems most likely Olson tracked the songs DIY as is his wont, and along with the album, he has it tagged “A=432HZ,” referring to the tuning of A at a frequency said to have healing properties toward cosmic oneness. I’m neither an expert on music theory nor frequency manipulation, but songcraft-as-catharsis is certainly an easy idea to get on board with, and if that’s what’s happening here, so be it. From the opening title-track — making the album like poem titled for its first line — onward, a resonance persists thanks in no small part to the atmospheric layers of drone and various other instruments worked in as Olson seems to harness a mountainous naturalism to a fervent sense of human presence within an overwhelming landscape.

tg olson

“Riding Roughshod” is the shortest track on the long-player that shares its name, and “Chaser” and “Cautious Eyes” follow and lead into the in medias res beginning of “Sunday Morning,” which is wistful enough to almost beg for a weepy country fiddle but does just fine with the guitar instead. His voice has a kind of breathy approach that is very much his own with no less twang than the backing pedal steel, but whether he’s forward in the mix as on the centerpiece “Keep it Hidden” or farther back as on the title-cut, he never fails to do what will best serve the song in ambience and overarching presentation. That impulse is no less a signature for Olson than his style of singing, but he barely stops to notice before he’s on to the next piece, single, project or album. Still, “Pickup Truck” is sentimental enough that its opening guitar line calls to mind The Beatles‘ “Yesterday,” and, though it’s only a little over four minutes long, almost too easy to get lost in when it comes to the emotionalism on display. The subsequent “Backslider” holds truer to a guitar-in-open-space feel, but fits atmospherically with the surroundings and the preceding “Pickup Truck,” seeming to stop early only to let the guitar carry it quietly out.

The sometimes (purposefully) choppy waters of Olson‘s cascade of craft seem to smootth themselves out as the penultimate “Bless the Singer of he Torch Song” takes hold, its lyrics far back and murky following the opening title-line. “Bless the Singer of the Torch Song” is a highlight here in the spirit of “Pickup Truck,” “Riding Roughshod” or “Sunday Morning,” but closer “Trespasser” provides a last-minute experimentalist thrust, as Olson dons an angry-Dylan vocal style and tops his plucked guitar strings in double-layered fashion. A sample of someone yelling, presumably at a trespasser, is worked into “Trespasser,” and it gives the final cut on Riding Roughshod a standout element of its own, apart from the rest of the record before it. Olson has used samples and field recordings before, so it’s not out of line with his work necessarily on the whole, but it does serve as a last reminder of just how broad his creative process has become.

That intensity is as encompassing as it is fascinating, since it not only results int his glut of material in an ever-growing discography, it also never seems to fail to result in a quality of material and a distinct sound that belongs to Olson entirely. His work has only become all the more his own during this prolific stretch, and whether it continues or his winds carry him elsewhere, there’s no doubting who you’re hearing when you’re listening to a T.G. Olson release, and one can’t help but view the mania with which he seems to create albums and, on a more basic level, songs, as building an archive, some message from a particular now to a particular future. Maybe he’s thinking of it on those terms and maybe not, but the effect is the same, and his driven creative sensibilities continue to result in individualized endeavors waiting to catch the imagination of any and all who wander in their direction.

T.G. Olson, Riding Roughshod (2018)

Across Tundras on Thee Facebooks

Across Tundras/T.G. Olson on Bandcamp

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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.

Earthless website

Silver Current Records on Bandcamp

Earthless at Nuclear Blast webstore

 

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.

Satan’s Satyrs on Thee Facebooks

RidingEasy Records on Bandcamp

Bad Omen Records on Bandcamp

 

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.

Mantar on Thee Facebooks

Nuclear Blast website

 

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.

Child on Thee Facebooks

Kozmik Artifactz website

 

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.

Across Tundras on Thee Facebooks

T.G. Olson/Across Tundras on Bandcamp

 

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.

Canyon on Thee Facebooks

Canyon on Bandcamp

 

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.

Circle of the Sun on Thee Facebooks

Circle of the Sun on Bandcamp

 

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.

Mythic Sunship on Thee Facebooks

El Paraiso Records website

 

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.

Svarta Stugan on Thee Facebooks

Svarta Stugan on Bandcamp

 

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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T.G. Olson, Earthen Pyramid: Monument

Posted in Reviews on October 9th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

tg olson earthen pyramid

Those who follow or attempt to follow the prolific solo output of T.G. Olson, frontman of Across Tundras who since at least 2011 has embarked on a wide-ranging and regularly-added-to string of records — mostly digital releases dropped without fanfare as name-your-price downloads on Bandcamp, but some with physical issue either concurrent or after their arrival — will note that Earthen Pyramid is his third full-length of 2018. Arriving behind February’s Owned and Operated by Twang Trust LLC and March’s A Stone that Forever Rolls (both reviewed here), one might think of it as something of a spiritual companion to the latter. Spiritual, if not necessarily sonic. A Stone that Forever Rolls was minimalist compared to the nine-song/46-minute Earthen Pyramid, based around troubadour-style acoustic guitar and some other flourish added for variety.

Also 16 minutes longer, Earthen Pyramid offers more of a full-band feel. Drums are a notable inclusion as an element not always used in Olson‘s solo work, and that’s really just the start of it. Layers of acoustic and electric guitar, vocal effects, lap steel, keys, who the hell knows what else — it all comes together in a collection that casts itself across a vast sprawl that’s an immediate standout in the Olson catalog. How then does it relate to the prior outing? The dedication. Earthen Pyramid is dedicated to Sadie, and A Stone that Forever Rolls was for Odin; Olson‘s dogs, who reportedly sat in the studio with him on every record he’s ever made, and both of whom passed away this year. Having recently been through such a loss myself, Earthen Pyramid strikes a nerve there as it opens with “Under the Dog Star,” including a quick come-command whistle in its midst, but if I was going to feign impartiality in the first place, I’d simply write about something else. Fan as I am of Olson‘s work, given the timing of Earthen Pyramid, I was all the more predisposed to its favor. Even so, with its periodic wash of fuzz and hints of tonal heft in songs like “Don’t Step on Her Boots” and the low-end-centric “Stripes” later on, it’s legitimately a distinct piece in Olson‘s ongoing discography.

He may or may not have another complete album posted by the time I finish this sentence, but even if he does, it’s clear Earthen Pyramid was intended as a special way of paying homage to those lost loves and members of his family. That’s not the only theme of the songs — I should add “fortunately” to that, since if it was, it would make for a somewhat excruciating listen — but in the bookends of opener “Under the Dog Star” (also the longest track at 6:12; immediate points) and closer “Little Pine Big Pine,” it comes through well enough, and the context, which Olson explains as something of a celebration of the life particularly of Sadie, who was in the studio when the album was created, adds to the emotional impact of the material overall and serves as the impetus for the broader arrangements. If one thinks of the title Earthen Pyramid, the image of a burial mound shouldn’t be too far from mind.

tg olson

Even considering that, though, a given listener doesn’t necessarily need that backstory in order for the tracks on Earthen Pyramid to make an impression. Particularly those who’ve longed for a proper full-length to follow-up Across Tundras‘ 2013 outing, Electric Relics (review here) — note they also had a single out late last year — will find some solace in the depth of mix for songs like “Rivers to the Ocean” and “Delta Healer,” neither of which shies away from conjuring tonal fullness or the wash that results. Melodic humility, rhythmic patience and a sense of procession throughout are signature elements in Olson‘s songwriting, but it’s how they’re used on Earthen Pyramid that makes the difference. He can and often does make an acoustic guitar sound “heavy” in an emotional and atmospheric sense, and with the uptempo “Shameless Killers” and the subsequent, slide-laced centerpiece “Delta Healer,” he shows both his penchant for winding guitar lines and rambling rhythms — expressed in the latter through only the most basic timekeeping low in the mix — and a range within the sphere of the album itself.

And as clear as the intent can seem when one understands what’s at work behind Earthen Pyramid, the landscape-building drones of “After the Jasper Fire” that fade away to lead into the aforementioned “Stripes” provide their own resonance. Likewise, the breadth of guitar on “Strips” — there are at least four discernible layers, between acoustic, electric, slide and effects, along with at least two layers of percussion — has no trouble showcasing its mindset regardless of the circumstances behind its creation. Ultimately, what ties the material together despite shifts in approach one way or other is, of course, Olson himself. His vocals, sometimes forward in the mix, sometimes consumed by the wash surrounding, are a uniting element, but no less so is the style of craft that has become so much his own particularly through the last five years of offerings, issued one into the other as though being tossed into eternity for eternity to sort out later. Soothing as the material sometimes is, there is an underlying intensity of the creativity that drives “Talkin’ Country Miles” and “Little Pine Big Pine” at the finish, and really, the entire album preceding.

That extends to the creation of Earthen Pyramid itself — the actual writing and recording it — and to the impulse that has sculpted the ever-growing catalog for which it serves as the latest installment. As “Little Pine Big Pine” finds its resolution in an echoing guitar line not entirely dissimilar from that of Abronia‘s “Glass Butte Retribution,” Olson comfortably pushes into the ending of the collection with a suitably wistful march that seems to echo the sentiment at its root in its fadeout. As ever for his work, Earthen Pyramid is a moment captured. Moments happen and are gone, like everything. Whatever the next one — moment, album — brings, Earthen Pyramid preserves its specific time for Olson himself. That may be a double-edged sword when one considers the grieving process, but the beauty in these songs is nonetheless replete with the love behind their expression. As that lasts after the immediate pain of loss subsides, so too will Earthen Pyramid remain.

T.G. Olson, Earthen Pyramid (2018)

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Review: T.G. Olson, A Stone that Forever Rolls & Owned and Operated by Twang Trust LLC

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

tg olson a stone that forever rolls

The first thing you need to know about this review? Its temporal mechanics are all wrong. Chronologically speaking, Owned and Operated by: Twang Trust LLC was released before A Stone that Forever Rolls. The difference, mind you, is less than a month. Owned and Operated by: Twang Trust LLC came out on Feb. 28, and A Stone that Forever Rolls on March 14. A couple weeks between them doesn’t seem like such an egregious flip to make — though if he keeps to his about-two-weeks pace, Olson should have another full-length out by the time this review goes live.

Owned and Operated by: Twang Trust LLC and A Stone that Forever Rolls represent the latest outings in a prolific stretch that, at this point, goes back years for Across Tundras frontman and solo experimentalist/singer/songwriter T.G. Olson. They arrive concurrent to outings from other projects like Inget Namn, Funeral Electrical and even an Across Tundras collection, and represent his first solo works of 2018.

Last year found Olson releasing Searching for the Ur-Plant (review here) and Foothills Before the Mountain (review here), and if one goes further back, 2016 brought about La Violenza Naturale (review here), the From the Rocky Peaks b/w Servant to Blues single (discussed here) and the albums The Broken End of the Deal (review here) and Quicksilver Sound (discussed here), and so on back to about 2012 and probably before that. Point is, Olson gets his work in. He is of a rare breed of the relentlessly creative, and though I said it as a joke earlier, I really couldn’t be surprised if he posted another long-player to the T.G. Olson/Across Tundras Bandcamp sometime soon. Or maybe he’ll go a year. One never knows.

But when it comes to A Stone that Forever Rolls and Owned and Operated by Twang Trust LLC, there is one definitive aspect tying them together to the point where I feel comfortable giving them a conjoined review: resonance. And in a thrilling and important-to-consider showcase of Olson‘s range as an artist, it’s two very different types of resonance that we’re talking about. A song like “Bless yr Heart My Friend,” which would seem to be about Olson‘s dog Odin, who recently passed away (and condolences there), brims with sincerity and emotionalism. It is raw in its approach and upfront in its acoustic-led post-Dylan/Guthrie folkism. And it’s the kind of song that makes you tear up when you hear it.

tg olson owned operated twang trust

This stands in direct contrast to just about all of Owned and Operated by: Twang Trust LLC, which delights in the Earth-gone-weirder drones and explorations of airy pieces like “When the Bee Balm is in Bloom,” which seems to be backed by ghostly howls, or the earlier “Where Were You When,” the droning of which takes on an almost religious quality, as though among Olson‘s many manipulated sounds was a hymn or a chant to something of the sort bent beyond recognition. Considered alongside the easy sway of the opening title-cut from A Stone that Forever Rolls or the doubled-vocal layers of the subsequent “The Storm’s a Comin’,” ad they would almost seem to be the work of different artists, but that’s simply Olson following one impulse over another as a theme around which to work.

He’s more than capable of steering a record in either context, of course, and has plenty of experience in doing so, and if the sweet melody of “In the Valley of the Tomb of the Kings” and the flute-laden melancholy of “Still They Haunt Us” is coming from someplace completely different from the Owned and Operated by: Twang Trust LLC opener and longest track (immediate points) “Running Fight” with its open-air guitar minimalism or the haunting swirl and swell of “Carpenter Blues” — which may or may not feature manipulated vocals; it’s hard to tell. In this way, the one release enhances the listening experience of the other and paints a broader picture of Olson‘s creative reach in general, not that that was much in question for anybody who’s followed his work over these last several years and managed to actually keep up.

Frankly, neither approach would count as new ground for Olson, who has established a comfortable niche for himself as a folk singer while still seeming to push himself forward in terms of crafting material, a song like “Around a Slow Dying Fire” conveying a sense of urgency despite its calm exterior. Nonetheless, if familiar to those who’ve kept tabs on his work, both Owned and Operated by: Twang Trust LLC and A Stone that Forever Rolls reaffirm the breadth of Olson‘s output and, whether taken together or separately, bring together folk and experimentalism in a way few artists can or would dare to try. Remember near the outset when I said Olson was relentlessly creative? Well, the emotionality and exploratory drive behind these records, along with the rest of his ever-growing and increasingly complex discography, are just further examples of what makes him stand alone in that unrelenting.

T.G. Olson, Owned and Operated by: Twang Trust LLC (2018)

T.G. Olson, A Stone that Forever Rolls (2018)

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T.G. Olson Releases New Album A Stone that Forever Rolls

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 16th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

So maybe you’re saying to yourself right now, ‘Hey, didn’t this loser blogger dope post about a new T.G. Olson record like two weeks ago?” Indeed, he — I mean I — did. That album was the more experimentalist Owned and Operated By: Twang Trust, LLC (info here). This one is the more structured, more crisply produced A Stone that Forever Rolls, which begins with the psychedelic folk of its opening track and unfolds gracefully through eight tracks and 30 minutes of gorgeous arrangement balance and a clearly different intent than the last time out.

I think next chance I get to do so — so, next month maybe? — I’ll probably review the two releases together, just to give the side-by-side and really emphasize how different they are. Two things though that worry me about A Stone that Forever Rolls. First, Olson dedicates it to Odin, who he then names “DOGGOD,” which tells me that his dog died. And that sucks in a way that few things sucks. Condolences to Olson for the loss.

Also in not-as-tragic-but-hardly-fortunate news, it would seem Olson‘s Roland VS-1680 — the “VS” standing for “virtual studio,” as in,his recording apparatus — has bit the dust. These things are replaceable but hardly cheap, and while I doubt it’ll hold Olson up for all that long, it’s still a pain to deal with.

At least the album is beautiful. It was released in the usual manner: posted at the Across Tundras Bandcamp page with little fanfare beyond a post on Thee Facebooks. You can stream and download it at the bottom of this post. Other info follows:

tg olson a stone that forever rolls

T.G. OLSON – A Stone that Forever Rolls

The end of an era…

Adios Odin and the VS-1680 aka “The Machine”

1. A Stone That Forever Rolls 03:56
2. The Storms a Comin’ 03:43
3. Down in the Draw 03:20
4. Still They Haunt Us 04:16
5. Around a Slow Dying Fire 03:54
6. In the Valley of the Tomb of the Kings 03:16
7. Slow Tick 04:29
8. Bless yr Heart My Friend 03:46

Recorded ~ Mixed ~ Mastered : January – March 2018 by T.G. Olson

For Odin ~ DOGGOD

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T.G. Olson, A Stone that Forever Rolls

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