Saturnia Post “The Twilight Bong” Video from The Seance Tapes

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 17th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

saturnia

I said last time around when Saturnia posted a video assembled from studio footage during the making of their latest album, The Seance Tapes (review here), that it probably wouldn’t be the last clip they did in that fashion. For all I know the Portuguese heavy psych rockers have the entire session captured, but for now, “The Twilight Bong” follows “Gemini” (posted here) from the 2018 collection, which found Saturnia founder Luis Simões in the studio for the first time with very nearly a complete lineup, handling guitar, bass, sitar and vocals himself while keeping company with drummer André Silva and keyboardist Nuno Oliveira, essentially able to record live for the first time, and accordingly reworking material from Saturnia‘s prior six full-lengths.

“The Twilight Bong,” for example, makes its sitar-laced way to The Seance Tapes via Saturnia‘s 1999 self-titled debut, and as the penultimate inclusion running a sprawling nine and a half minutes with keys and sitar, drums and percussion intertwining, it’s an especially vivid showcase of what the newer incarnation of Saturnia are able to accomplish, even though it digs back to a record that turns 20 this year. Simões has always been at the core of Saturnia, and to hear his sitar in conversation with Oliveira‘s Mellotron-style keys late in the track is an exciting twist on the character of the original track. The mission is still way trippy, but there’s a live dynamic in the recording throughout The Seance Tapes that a one-man-band would have an almost impossible time trying to capture.

Once again, I don’t think this will be the last time Saturnia put out a video from The Seance Tapes that was taken in the studio. I don’t know if they have footage for the whole record, but if they did and they were able to get it all together, it would only demonstrate the burgeoning, molten chemistry in development with the new lineup. One hopes that perhaps they’ll channel those energies toward further studio work on new material, but the truth of the matter is that if they want to let The Seance Tapes linger a little longer, “The Twilight Bong” is a pretty good example of why that would be just fine.

Please enjoy:

Saturnia, “The Twilight Bong” official video

Hope you are ready for a bit of sitar-Rock.

New video from The Seance Tapes. Enjoy.

Recorded at Colour Haze Studio, Reichertshausen.

Saturnia on Thee Facebooks

Saturnia website

Elektrohasch Schallplatten website

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We Here Now Sign to Elektrohasch; Touring Europe Later This Year

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 22nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

we here now

Earlier this year — so I guess like a month ago — the multinational outfit We Here Now offered up their debut release, The Chikipunk Years, blending elements from rock, South American folk, psychedelic punk and more to a highly individualized style that was intricate and memorable in kind. Swamp Booking has picked up the band for European touring representation, and Elektrohasch Schallplatten — the label of Colour Haze guitarist Stefan Koglek will give the album an official release later this year, in May, which I’d guess is ahead of summer tour plans yet to be unveiled.

The announcements from both were recently made and follow below, as well as the stream of the album from Bandcamp. Have at it:

we here now the chikipunk years

Elektrohasch 179 – We Here Now – The Chikipunk Years

Back to the future: I haven‘t heard anything like this yet – guitar, bass, drums – of course… But: a band with members from Brasil, India and Peru mixing the uneven rhythms of Asia with South-American feel, full of modern twists and breaks, driving it into a furious intensity and lay above all this beautiful relaxed melodies with a twist from the Andes to the Himalaya… finally a truly new, fresh take on Rock! – this should be the future!

I am proud to present the debut of We Here Now on Elektrohasch.

Don‘t miss it – so once you can tell you have been there : )

Swamp Booking: Really happy to announce this new addition to our roster!

The multinational band WE HERE NOW is a young new band from Brasil, India/USA and Perù. An exciting approach to the straight-forward aesthetics of fuzzed-out rock. Different cultural and sonic methods of expression delivered with an unmistakable raw punk attitude.

Their debut album will be released by the German record label Elektrohasch (Colour Haze) next May 17th and they will tour Europe ALL summer, playing like there’s no tomorrow!

https://homemadegiftsrecords.bandcamp.com/releases
www.elektrohasch.de

We Here Now, The Chikipunk Years (2019)

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Colour Haze to Record New Album in April; Live Vol. 2 Coming Soon; Touring in Spring

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 20th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Let’s get right to it: Colour Haze are going to begin recording their next album in April. I was thinking the other day they might have something in the works to follow-up 2017’s In Her Garden (review here), and it’s all the more fitting that they do, as they’re also celebrating their 25th anniversary on a previously announced tour this Spring that includes stops at Desertfest in London and Berlin both. New Colour Haze, all the more as the trio has expanded to a four-piece, is among the most welcome things a given year can bring. To say it’s one to look forward to is like saying you look forward to vacation. Of course you’re looking forward to it. It’s vacation. That’s how it is with new Colour Haze.

They’ll also have a new live album out that was recorded at Duna Jam in 2007 — which puts it square in the Tempel era; win — as well as a reissue of Los Sounds de Krauts that will also be remixed. I’ll be interested to hear how that album changes in the new version. Other digital reissues are currently in progress as well.

And I haven’t heard yet, but one assumes they’ll be at Keep it Low in Munich this October for their annual appearance there — one more reason to want to go to that fest — and they may have more anniversary touring in the works as well. We’ll see. Either way, the more active they are, the better a place the planet is to be.

From the PR wire:

colour haze 2 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

25 years Colour Haze

In August 1994 Tim Höfer, Christian Wiesner and me founded Colour Haze. After uneasy first years Mani and Philipp completed the band in 1998. Last year Jan Faszbender joined us. After more than 450 shows all over the world, 2 live- and 12 studio-albums foremost we wish to say:

THANK YOU! Thanks to all who went to our concerts and bought the records. Thanks to our crew, the promoters, local staffs and all who helped. Thanks to all the bands who shared the stage with us and all the musicians who contributed to our recordings. Thanks to all who wrote and spread the word. Thanks to our families who tolerate and support all this!

Thanks for all the friendship we found and could share!

And we have a lot of plans for 2019:
– we keep on working through our back-catalogue and will add more remastered Hi-resolution downloads to our webshop.
– After all the old digital data could be restored Los Sounds De Krauts finally will be remixed and reissued on DLP, 2CD and download.
– Live Vol. 2 will be released soon – recordings from Duna Jam 2007 – parts of the legendary Tempel-concert and a wonderful session on the beach….
– For April we already booked the studio for the basic-track recordings of our upcoming album….

And we want to play live a lot – a first tour is already booked – after the shows with Jan were received so very well last year you can look forward to see us as a fourpiece again in May ; )

02.05. Nürnberg, Hirsch ( + Monkey 3)
03.05. Berlin, Desertfest
04.05. NL-Nijmegen, Sonic Whip
05.05. UK – London, Desertfest
06.05. F – Paris, Petit Bain ( + The Devil and the almighty Blues)
07.05. Aachen, Musikbunker ( + Monkey 3)
08.05. Hannover, Musikzentrum ( + Monkey 3)
09.05. Leipzig, Werk 2
10.05. Stuttgart, Universum ( +The Devil and the almighty Blues)
11.05. Passau, Zauberberg

www.soundofliberation.com/colour-haze
http://colourhaze.de/
www.elektrohasch.de

Colour Haze, In Her Garden (2017)

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Colour Haze Announce 25th Anniversary Tour; Playing Desertfest in London and Berlin

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 6th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

colour haze

Congratulations to Colour Haze on 25 years of making the world a better place, and yes I mean that. I get asked every now and again who’s my favorite band, and no matter mood or any other factor that might come into play, Colour Haze always seem to be in the conversation. The forebears of European tonal warmth and heavy psychedelia didn’t start out as the progressive monolith they’ve become over time, but through their formative years and their heavy rocking era and into the brilliance that’s followed, the band has never stopped moving forward and have remained unflinchingly committed to challenging themselves as players and songwriters.

That’d be worthy of celebration in and of itself, but the fact of the matter is their work is still unparalleled. Up to and including the 2017 outing, In Her Garden (review here), and the expansion to a four-piece four the subsequent touring that included keyboardist Jan Faszbender alongside the core trio of guitarist/vocalist Stefan Koglek, bassist Philipp Rasthofer and drummer Manfred Merwald, they’ve succeeded not only in growing their sound and becoming an influential act in and out of Germany, but in maintaining a level of excellence that stands among the most reliable to be found anywhere. Few phrases can elicit the joy to match that of “new Colour Haze.”

I hope to hear that one soon, speaking of.

They’ll be at Desertfest Berlin and London as part of the 25th anniversary tour, and they’ve got dates with The Devil and the Almighty Blues and Monkey3 as well, so all the better.

From Sound of Liberation via the social medias:

colour haze tour poster

***Colour Haze – 25th ANNIVERSARY TOUR***

Friends! No big explanations needed:

The legends gonna celebrate 25th years of Colour Haze in 2019 and invite YOU to celebrate with them! Tour dates below.

DATES:
02.05.19 Nürnberg | Hirsch *
03.05.19 Berlin | Desertfest
04.05.19 Nijmegen | Sonic Whip
05.05.19 London | Desertfest
06.05.19 Paris | Petit Bain **
07.05.19 Aachen | Musikbunker *
08.05.19 Hannover | Musikzentrum *
09.05.19 Leipzig | Werk2
10.05.19 Stuttgart | Universum **
11.05.19 Passau | Zauberberg

* with monkey3
** with The Devil And The Almighty Blues

www.soundofliberation.com/colour-haze
http://colourhaze.de/
www.elektrohasch.de

Colour Haze, In Her Garden (2017)

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Friday Full-Length: Colour Haze, All

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 14th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Colour Haze, All (2008)


Ten years of All. A decade since this album came out, and that stretch has done nothing to dull its luster. Colour Haze didn’t invent the idea of warmth in a recording, but they might well have perfected it over their years. All swept in and was my album of the year pick in 2008, and its warmth is no small part of why, but it’s also the point at which Colour Haze — already past the 10-year mark themselves by then and on their ninth LP and fourth through Elektrohasch Schallplatten — began to show just how expansive their intentions really were. And how progressive.

It was a new level of maturity in their songwriting and a new level of patience even beyond that which they brought to 2006’s Tempel or their 2004 self-titled (discussed here), both also pivotal offerings both for the band and for European heavy psychedelia in general. Those records seemed to establish the pattern, and All, with its 65-minute 2LP run and its 10 one-word tracks that all streamed together to deliver the message, “silent moon turns lights; if stars all fall one remains,” came through as a new realization of many of the ideas Tempel and Colour Haze put forth, let alone 2003’s 2CD Los Sounds de Krauts, 2001’s Ewige Blumenkraft (reissue review here) or any of their earlier, more desert rock-influenced work preceding.

By the time they got to All, the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Stefan Koglek — also, if it needs to be said, the head of Elektrohasch — bassist Philipp Rasthofer and drummer Manfred Merwald, had already defined what their core sound was going to be, but in the mellow strums and backwards drums of “Turns,” and in the funk of “Moon” preceding, in the incorporation of organ on “Lights” and the hyper-immersive flow of its title-track, All demonstrated that as groundbreaking as Colour Haze had been up to that point, their exploration was really just getting started.

I don’t want to say All blew everything Colour Haze had previously done out of the water, because that’s not really true. Those other records stand up to any scrutiny one might want to give them and then some, each marking a point in the ongoing forward motion of the band’s continued growth. You cannot have one without the others before it, and that’s true of their work to-date. When they got around to All, however, there was a clear shift in terms of the scope at work. Tempel was and remains defined by its chemistry between KoglekRasthofer and Merwald — the same can be said to a degree of everything the band does — but had an inward-looking feel, where true to its title, All was more expansive and outward-directed.

Given a lot of the sonic exploration underway in songs like opener “Silent,” the sitar/acoustic-based “Stars,” and the tense, churning shuffle of “If” before it, it’s fair to say Colour Haze‘s reach had never been so much a factor in their arrangements, which had always beencolour haze all creative, and an overarching sense of poise held firm throughout, no matter where an individual song seemed to meander. It would be four more years before they put out a song called “Grace,” but All had plenty to go around.

Perhaps nowhere more so than on the extended pairing of “All” and “Fall.” I’ll gladly admit to being more familiar with the CD version — though once I did get to hold the limited edition cloth-cover double vinyl in my hands and I immediately felt unworthy — and while on the LP that’s the split between sides C and D, on the, ahem, CD, it’s a linear shift from one into the next, and it’s the point at which the fluidity that so much permeates the album as a whole finds its high water mark.

The arrival of the keys behind the driving apex toward the end of “Fall” is an obvious culmination point for the entire outing, but even before that, in the patience and gorgeous unfolding of “All” itself and the manner in which it takes on what’s essentially Colour Haze‘s signature riff and with Rasthofer‘s bass as a foundation builds upon it in a new and glorious way. The solo in the second half. The quiet noodling that follows with Merwald‘s cymbal-mute stops keeping the tension going. The build back up to full volume again, and indeed, the keys that emerge late; it’s nothing if not aptly titled “All.” It’s the kind of work that reaffirms hope for the species, even 10 years after the fact.

Repetitions of “We’ve got to get together/We’ve got to be all one” and a well-timed return of sitar make “One” more than an afterthought following “Fall,” and the quiet stand-mostly-alone guitar of “Remains” that caps the album is a statement unto itself. That they would finish not in grand crescendo, but instead peacefully making their way out — it’s another subtle but key decision that makes All the masterpiece it still is.

Colour Haze would, of course, continue the thread. As alluded to, in 2012, after copious delays on the technical side they released She Said (review here), which dived even deeper into expanded arrangements, with horns and strings pulled in alongside the core trio on cuts like “Transformation” and the aforementioned “Grace.” Late-2014’s To the Highest Gods We Know (review here) followed and drew back to a more rooted and jammier vibe, but still had its progressive aspects readily on display, and after the 2016 live record, Live Vol. 1 – Europa Tournee 2015 (review here), 2017 brought In Her Garden (review here), which again was one of the year’s best albums and renewed their commitment to the tenets of classic progressive rock while retaining the organic melodic and rhythmic sensibilities that seem at this point to be indispensable to their sound.

I had the opportunity to see them in London back in May of this year for the first time in half a decade, and they were nothing short of incredible. An absolute treasure of a band. They’ll make an annual sojourn to Keep it Low in their native Munich next month and play Sankt Hell in Berlin to round out the year, and I would not be at all surprised if 2019 brought a new release from them of one sort or another. Whatever that might be, it’d only be welcome.

I sincerely hope you enjoy All, and thanks for reading.

My early mornings doing Obelisk stuff have kind of become overnight shifts. I got up sometime around 1:30AM to start this post, and it’s coming on 4AM now. Most of this week I’ve been up between 2 and 2:30. I slept until my alarm went off at 3:30AM the other day and felt like I was behind all day because I didn’t get enough done before the baby woke up. And the truth is I was. One attempts to find a balance.

Attempts.

Hey, looks like I might be going back to Norway. I tend to never consider these things settled until I’m through security and getting on the flight — though even that wasn’t far enough when that volcano went off on my way to Roadburn in 2010 — but things are in motion to get me back to Høstsabbat in a couple weeks and it has The Patient Mrs.’ seal of approval. Electric Moon, Asteroid, Toner Low, Elephant Tree, on and on, playing in a church in Oslo? Yeah, you can go right ahead and sign me up for that one. Keeping my fingers crossed all the confirmation comes through okay. Naturally, if it happens, I’ll be covering. More info on the fest is here. It’s sold out.

Also looks like I’m getting a show on Gimme Radio. I turned in a sample playlist and they dug it so, it’s kind of a thing I’m trying out. I did college radio at WSOU, and kind of have missed being on-air ever since, so this could be a cool way to do that. Plus there are good people involved and that’s always key. More to come. I need to send them pictures of myself. Sadly, I’m awful-looking, so this is a source of some anxiety. Like, life-long.

In the meantime, The Little Dog Dio continues a steady decline. We’ve been hand-feeding her chicken breast and Polly-O string cheese for I guess two weeks now, and she just ate a bunch and drank some water and went out to pee, so clearly the steroids we’ve been giving her are doing their job, but she’s less comfortable between doses of pain meds than she’s been. Last night she was hunched up standing with her head down, clearly uncomfortable, and it had been a while since we saw that. Just now she got up out of her bed in the kitchen and came to lay down by my feet, which she ordinarily wouldn’t do — a shar pei wants to be nearby, but likes its space — so yeah. I’ve loved this dog for a long time. Another vet appointment next week to follow-up and see where we’re at. I’ll just give scritches and belly rubs until then. How about a billion dollars to whoever cures cancer first? I’d donate to that Kickstarter.

I don’t even want to get up and get another cup of coffee for fear of disturbing her.

That’s been hard. The worst part is there are moments where she’s eating and I forget and I feel like she’s maybe getting better and I look at the GIANT FUCKING TUMOR in her shoulder and just feel like I’ve been punched in the stomach. She’s not going to get better. We’re buying time. Buying time and drawing it out. I told The Patient Mrs. a few days ago that I always imagined she wouldn’t so much die as evolve beyond her corporeal form and become a being of pure light like in that episode of The Next Generation. I was kidding, of course, but let that be indicative of my overall ability to emotionally handle what’s coming. Eating made her hurt. It happened last night too and it happened just now. Ugh.

Okay.

The Patient Mrs.’ semester has also started, so the week’s been kind of a mess on that end too. Summers “off” is nice — or would be; she has to work all the time anyway, between research, reading, writing and meetings for sundry university service projects, so while she’s not teaching, “summers off” is mostly a myth — but having your schedule upended every couple months, especially now with The Pecan running the show as he is, I’m trying to figure out when’s naptime not the least so I can sleep too. We’ll get there. We’re not there yet.

If you’re in North Carolina or anywhere in Hurricane Florence’s path, good luck and stay safe. My grandmother who passed away last year was named Florence. If she were alive and lucid, I’d like to think she’d see it as a fitting tribute. If anyone sees people after the storm selling “I survived Florence” t-shirts, I want one in every size available. Black shirts preferred. I’ll PayPal you the cash.

I’m streaming a track from the new Sherpa album — so good — and I’m going to try to review the new All Them Witches next week, and I’ve got stuff slated into the middle of the week already, news and such, but yeah, I’m going to finish working it all out over the weekend, so I’ll just leave it there for now.

Like always, I hope you have a great and safe weekend. Please have fun, hug your loved ones and take care of yourself in the best way you can.

And like always, please check out the Forum and Radio stream. It is appreciated.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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Saturnia Post “Gemini” Video from The Seance Tapes

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 26th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

saturnia

Somebody had the right idea. I’m gonna guess it was Luís Simões. When Portuguese heavy psych rockers Saturnia hit Colour Haze Studio — yes, run by the band of the same name — to record their latest album, The Seance Tapes (review here), they brought a video camera along to capture the process. This was the right idea because the band was recording live for the first time, and where it’s traditionally been Simões working on his own in multi-instrumentalist fashion handling guitar, sitar, bass, vocals, etc., this time he not only had drummer André Silva with him, but also key specialist Nuno Oliveira on organ, synth, electric piano and whatnot, tracking live as a three-piece.

This wouldn’t necessarily be a minor change if it was Saturnia‘s second record or even their third, but it’s their seventh. They’ve worked pretty much with Simões and various other contributors all along, and for the first time it’s a full band functioning as a live act. I guess Simões figured that if he was going to continue to push into new ground as the band had a six-album track record of doing, this was the way to go. It worked. The Seance Tapes is a collection of songs that featured on past Saturnia full-lengths, and even so, one can hear the new life breathed into the material as they go. It flows much as a live set would because basically it is a live set, played and then given further flourish later on atop the basic tracks laid down to analog tape.

I wouldn’t speculate as to whether Saturnia will continue in this manner or go back to the way things have always been, but either way, The Seance Tapes captures a special moment in their history, and as such, it’s all the more fitting that it’s caught on video and preserved in more than just the album itself. A video for “Mindrama” from 2007’s Muzak has already surfaced, but you can see the band in the studio below for “Gemini” from their 1999 self-titled debut. I don’t expect it will be the last clip that makes its way to the public.

The Seance Tapes is out now on Elektrohasch Schallplatten.

Please enjoy:

Saturnia, “Gemini” official video

New video from The Seance Tapes – Gemini.

Recorded at Colour Haze Studio, Reichertshausen.

Saturnia on Thee Facebooks

Saturnia website

Elektrohasch Schallplatten website

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Saturnia, The Seance Tapes: An Open Channel

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

saturnia the seance tapes

To-date, multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Luís Simões has led Saturnia through seven albums of ever-increasing cosmic reach. Simões, who is based in Lisboa, Portugal, and plays guitar, lap steel, theremin, bass pedals, Mellotron, and acoustic and electric sitar, has always been the core of the band and he remains so, but the difference with Saturnia‘s latest offering, The Seance Tapes (released by Elektrohasch), is that he’s joined in the studio by a stage-ready band. He and drummer André Silva have worked together before, unless I’m mistaken, but together in the studio with keyboardist, organist, electric pianist, synthesist — basically if it’s got keys, he’s right in there — Nuno Oliveira, the resultant trio tap into a live chemistry that’s never been conjured by Saturnia until now. It’s only fitting, then, that the 12-tracks of The Seance Tapes should be culled, two each, from the band’s six-album back catalog:

1. Chrysalis (5:31) from 2001’s The Glitter Odd
2. A Burnt Offering (8:10) from 2016’s The Real High
3. Infinite Chord (5:17) from 2007’s Muzak
4. I Am Utopia (8:52) from 2012’s Alpha Omega Alpha
5. The Real High (8:33) from The Real High
6. Hydrophonic Gardening (3:40) from 2003’s Hydrophonic Gardening
7. Mindrama (6:00) from Muzak
8. Gemini (4:44) from 1999’s Saturnia
9. Still Life (5:06) from The Glitter Odd
10. Sunflower (7:31) from Hydrophonic Gardening
11. The Twilight Bong (9:33) from Saturnia
12. Cosmonication (6:04) from Alpha Omega Alpha

Ordered for maximum flow rather than chronology, the 79-minute album stretches the limits of the CD format and is currently awaiting a 2LP issue, but however one might end up taking it on, the intention is plain in giving Saturnia‘s live ambitions a studio form, and hearing the sitar-drone-laced “The Real High” or the post-The Heads space-rock-meets-shoegaze-vocals vibes of “I am Utopia” before it, the vibrancy emanating from them is as infectious as the swinging rhythms brought to bear by Silva‘s utter mastery of psychedelic percussion. Whether it’s hand drums on “The Real High” or the far-off cymbals echoing behind the Mellotron-laced “Still Life” or the pickup brought to opener “Chrysalis,” or the subtle grounding given to the mellow psych-prog meandering of “A Burnt Offering” and the especially King Crimson-esque “Cosmonication,” Silva‘s contributions are utterly essential. One could say the same of the textures Oliveira brings to the same tracks alongside Simões, and even if power-trio-Saturnia had the blueprint of the band’s past albums to work from, it’s still an impressive amount of character brought to the material to make it come to life.

saturnia

No doubt actually recording live has something to do with that as well. Of course, Simões, who also helms Saturnia‘s production duties, has been at this long enough to know what he wants from the band in terms of sound, but with Silva and Oliveira on board, he’s still in relatively unexplored territory. While it seems likely that they would’ve gone back later to layer in effects, synth, swirls, percussion and so on, since there’s only so much a human being can be playing at one time — curse our limitations as a species! — to even put down the basic tracks live is a bold choice on the part of the band. A safe one, too, though, considering what they’re playing is established material rather than something new. Still, you want to show off your live band? Play live. Seems fair enough, right? Simões being the one running the show would know that, but that doesn’t mean the decision lacks bravery. On the contrary, two years after releasing The Real High and some 19 years forward from their debut (which Elektrohasch also reissued in 2009), Saturnia have chosen to take their exploration to a meta level — examining what it means to be a full band after so many years under Simões‘ direct control with complementary contributions from guest players. It’s the shape of the band itself changing now.

So what one ends up with on The Seance Tapes is a forward-looking retrospective. And for as much time as it covers, the sound throughout is strikingly cohesive when it comes to representing Saturnia‘s past material as hippie-dance-ready psychedelia. In more active stretches like “Mindrama” and the cosmic pulsations of “Sunflower” and the deep-dive moodier feel of the slow-rolling “Gemini,” there is a unity throughout that comes from the performance on the part of the band. That is, while Saturnia‘s sonic progression over the last almost-two-decades has brought it from electronic influences to being the kind of band who might decide to do a greatest hits record live in the studio rather than simply assemble the tracks as they were, there isn’t necessarily a hiccup throughout The Seance Tapes as they jump back and forth from album to album in Simões‘ discography. Rather, it’s the very fact that they’re putting it to tape live that draws the material together. They take advantage of the methodology in terms not only of bringing vitality to the songs — and these songs sound truly vital; vibrant and affirming like the best of peak-psychedelia, even with a heavier underpinning — but in creating a thread between them that helps make that vitality so pervasive. In the sitar-fueled revelations of “The Twilight Bong” and the spaced-out Mellotron epique groove of “Infinite Chord” and in the percussive serenity wash that is the second half of “The Real High,” there isn’t anywhere or anywhen that Saturnia go where they don’t seem right at home.

Perhaps most interesting of all when it comes to The Seance Tapes is the temporal accomplishment of it in using past material to establish the sound of who Saturnia are now. Much like the balance between safety and risk in recording older songs live with a new lineup, there’s also the fact that they’re making a definitive statement of intention across this graceful and extended span. Whatever Saturnia have been in the past, they’re working toward a new plane, and it’s inherent in the context of The Seance Tapes that it should be a landmark along the band’s timeline. Whether Simões will continue with the band in this form and adopt a more live-focused ethic, I don’t know, but it says something about creative will that after six records, the crux of what makes his project what it is has shifted so significantly. No doubt he could easily continue to bang out collections every couple years on his own, and that both might still happen and be just fine — it’s certainly worked before — but The Seance Tapes represents a drive that extends to more than just an adventurous sound. It is a genuine search for and attempt to bring something new to Saturnia, and what or may not be next, the dividends wrought here are not to be ignored.

Saturnia, “Mindrama” official video

Saturnia on Thee Facebooks

Saturnia website

Elektrohasch Schallplatten website

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Live Review: Colour Haze, Trevor’s Head and The Brothers Keg in London, 05.22.18

Posted in Reviews on May 23rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

colour haze (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Colour Haze are my that band. You know that band. There’s some resonance there that goes deeper than the average listening experience. I have a couple that bands – YOB, Neurosis, etc. – but in my 15 years of following the Munich trio’s work – which makes me Johnny Comelately when set against the fact that their first album, Chopping Machine (discussed here), came out 23 years ago – I’ve only seen them three times prior. One was Roadburn 2009 (discussed here), another Desertfest London 2013 (review here), and to go way back, Emissions from the Monolith in 2006, which to-date remains the only show they’ve ever played on US soil. I’ve said so before, but that was a moment that genuinely changed my life.

So it was my last night in London before flying back to the US Eastern Seaboard and facing the reality check of bills, stacks of mail – my mail log was on my stolen laptop; whoops – laundry, grocery shopping, and so on, so you’re god damned right I was going to see Colour Haze as they happened to be in town on a tour that brought them to midsize club The Garage for what would be the first non-fest set of theirs I’d ever seen. On my way to the show, I was thinking of what it might bring, for what the room would be like, what the gig would be like, how many people would be there, all that stuff mixed into an anxiety and excitement that lasted pretty much until I walked in the door and saw The Brothers Keg on stage opening the three-band bill.

With Tom Fyfe on drums — also of StubbThe Brothers Keg made their debut with a demo (discussed here) late last year and played material from that and then some, proffering a blend of heavy, desert rock, shouty sludge and psychedelia that someday, probably years from now, some clever critic is going to dub the “London sound.”

It speaks to Kyuss and Iron Monkey alike, but definitely came of age with some grunge influence, and isn’t unaware of the UK’s massive psychedelic legacy either. At least The Brothers Keg weren’t. They had some bearings to straighten out in terms of overall direction, but as with the demo, their potential was writ large in their live set and they made an excellent opener for the night, tying in some elements that each of the next two acts would share.

Trevor’s Head also had some of that “London sound” to them, but it was more of an undercurrent to an overarching layer of prog-metal weirdness. Fronted by guitarist Roger Atkins they played material from their new album on APF Records, Soma Holiday (review here) and a few older songs from 2016’s Tricolossus. Obviously familiar to the crowd, who sang along as the band rolled through, Trevor’s Head‘s three-vocalist approach allowed them to bring the same variety to their live performance as they brought to the record, and three mics on stage meant that at any given point, any one of Atkins, bassist Aaron Strachan and drummer Matt Ainsworth might be breaking the balls of the others. Elephant Tree had a bit of that going too the other night, albeit with one fewer mic. Call it another London thing. Dudes being dudes and whatnot.

They’re an interesting band, though. All three have significant stage presence in the making, and they play with three discernible personalities, with Atkins the frontman despite being in a level line at the front of the stage with the others, Strachan lost in the world of his five-string, and Ainsworth amiably busting chops between songs while seated behind his kit. Again, they knew people in the crowd, but I think even as others started to show up ahead of Colour HazeTrevor’s Head represented the coterie of Desertscene — who booked this gig and also runs Desertfest London — with sonic purpose and a bit of the tongue-in-cheek persona that helps define who these groups are.

I was fortunate enough to talk to Colour Haze guitarist/vocalist Stefan Koglek for a bit before they went on, and he mentioned this was their 12th show in as many nights. The night before, they were in France. They’d already been to London once, as well as Porto, Madrid and up to Scotland, etc. That’s not an insignificant run for a band of 20 year olds, let alone a group of veterans who’ve influenced a generation of heavy psychedelic rockers and whose first album, Chopping Machine (discussed here), came out in 1995. And though this was my first time seeing them outside festival confines, I was not at all surprised to find they made a two-hour set seem far too short. They were amazing. I’m speaking literally. I stood there and was amazed.

Bassist Philipp Rasthofer and drummer Manfred Merwald might be the tightest rhythm section I’ve ever seen. It sounds like hyperbole, but I’m being honest. Their smooth shifts in meter, groove and progression were a joy to watch from the start of set-opener “She Said” through pre-encore set-closer “Transformation” — both taken from 2012’s She Said (review here) — and they played with such class both between themselves and in kind with Koglek and keyboardist/synthesist Jan Faszbender that as they made their way through the title-cut of 2006’s Tempel (discussed here), there was funk in their sound, as well as jazz and still enough rock to tie it all together. Merwald drove the linear builds forward as his kit faced sideways on the stage to put him head-on with Faszbender, and in classic fashion, as Rasthofer provided the foundation, it left Koglek‘s guitar free to wander. And it did. Gloriously.

And the tones. My god. The crowd — increasingly drunk, increasingly dancing — cheered from the first note Koglek played, and rightfully so. His and Rastofer‘s tones both are a guiding principle for Colour Haze, and standing in The Garage as the sound bounced off the back of the room and came around again at max volume, it was like swimming in warm water. Running “Skydancer” and “Skydance” from last year’s righteous In Her Garden (review here) together into one ahead of “Überall” from 2015’s To the Highest Gods We Know (review here), they built momentum and brought immersion to a level that I doubt I’d have been able to resist if I’d tried. “Aquamaria” had been an early representation, and along with the encore finale “Love,” it was remarkable what Faszbender — on tour for the first time with the band — brought to the arrangements of material new and old.

colour haze 2 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

In addition to bringing another melodic presence, the keys and synth fleshed out transitions between the songs and worked as much with Koglek as with Rasthofer. “House of Rushammon,” which first appeared on their lost 1998 second album, Seven (discussed here) and later showed up on their 2004 landmark self-titled (discussed here), led off the encore with “Love” behind it, and before they kicked into the latter, Koglek noted from the stage that in these times of increasing nationalism and everything going on in politics, it was something of which the world needed more. From that start, they executed a final swirling build that consumed the crowd to the point that people were jumping up and down in excitement, and one could only pull out one’s earplugs and give in. I won’t say I jumped, but it was one of several points in the set where I just closed my eyes and let go. At one point I turned to The Patient Mrs. — who had had a prior obligation earlier but showed up for the headliner like the proverbial boss she is — and told her I hadn’t felt so good in a year. It was true.

This trip, with its lows and highs, couldn’t have had a better finish. I have packing to do so I’ll keep this short, but between getting robbed and the subsequent support I received, the killer shows I saw, the little bit of record shopping I got to do yesterday (maybe more on that later), seeing good friends and embracing the magic that is British fish pie, I feel like seeing Colour Haze was exactly the kind of summary for how special this time has been. I’m lucky to have experienced it, and incredibly grateful for having the opportunity to do so.

Thank you for reading.

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