Review & Track Premiere: Colour Haze, In Her Garden

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on March 9th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

colour haze in her garden

[Click play above to stream ‘Labyrinthe’ from Colour Haze’s new album, In Her Garden. CD is out this month with vinyl to follow in May, both via Elektrohasch.]

In part, it’s a question of scale. The 12th studio album from Munich-based trio Colour Haze, titled In Her Garden and featuring an array of tracks named for plant-life including “Black Lilly,” “Magnolia,” “Arbores,” “Lotus,” “Lavatera,” and so on, lands less than three full years after its predecessor, 2014’s To the Highest Gods We Know (review here) — they also had the live album, Live Vol. 1 – Europa Tournee 2015 (review here), out in 2016 — but in its sound and scope, it might have more in common in terms of presentation with the record before that, 2012’s She Said (review here). Like that offering, In Her Garden is a sprawling, 2LP affair — its 72 minutes fit on one CD, however, which She Said didn’t — rife with progressive forward steps on the part of the self-recording three-piece guitarist/vocalist Stefan Koglek, bassist Philipp Rasthofer and drummer Manfred Merwald, who work with Jan Faszbender on modular synth, Rhodes, Hammond and, on the 63-second interlude “sdg I” and the nine-minute “Labyrinthe,” an arrangement of bass-clarinet, trombone and tuba.

Horns and wind at this point aren’t anything new for Colour Haze, and the inclusion of a string quartet arranged by Mathis Nitschke on “Lotus” will be familiar to anyone who encountered “Grace” from She Said or the closing title cut from To the Highest Gods We Know, but even in how these elements are integrated, In Her Garden demonstrates continued growth on the part of Colour Haze who, 22 years on from making their debut with 1995’s Chopping Machine (discussed here), absolutely refuse to stagnate on any creative level. To be clear, In Her Garden is the most progressive Colour Haze offering to-date, and whether that’s heard in the unabashedly joyous bounce of “Lotus,” blending acoustics and electrics along with the aforementioned strings, or the earlier fuzz immersion of “Lavatera,” or the noodling in “Magnolia” that later receives an echo backed by dream-toned Rhodes in “sdg II,” it is true of the complete front-to-back experience of the 13-track entirety.

Another factor drawing comparison between In Her Garden and She Said over To the Highest Gods We Know is the basic length. The 2012 album was a massive 81 minutes long — as noted, too much for a single CD — where its follow-up was just 40. With that came more stripped-down ideas built off what She Said accomplished before it, and likewise, In Her Garden continues the movement forward from To the Highest Gods We Know. Its LPs divide into an even 36 minutes each, and each component LP into roughly even sides of about 18 minutes apiece. Only side A has four tracks, the rest have three, and each side begins with an intro/interlude of its own. In the case of side A, that’s the semi-title-track “Into Her Garden,” but the rest are given the lowercase initials “sdg” and offered as “sdg I,” a minute of horn warmup and clarinet melody, the 1:49 “sdg II,” which as noted brings back the standout progression of “Magnolia,” and finally the 1:55 “sdg III” an acoustic/sitar (the latter performed by Mario Oberpucher) run that one only wishes went on longer as it leads the way into the closing duo of “Skydancer” and “Skydance.”

These short pieces do much to enhance the atmosphere and structure of In Her Garden as a whole, whether it’s providing a sneaky foreshadow of things to come or reinforcement tying together what’s already happened, but from Faszbender‘s organ work on “Lavatera” to Koglek‘s shimmering guitar lead “Arbores” to the additional percussion contributed by Robert Schoosleitner, formerly of Elektrohasch jammers Been Obscene, the album brims with a diversity befitting its garden theme — a variety of different species that, when arranged as impeccably as they are, create something that gives a sense of wholeness and a sense of beauty that, individually, each species could not. Moving between more traditional structures early in “Black Lilly,” “Magnolia” and “Arbores” into more jam-based ideas like 11-minute side B/LP1 closer “Islands,” which follows the swirling “Lavatera” and holds back its vocals until nearly eight minutes in, Colour Haze enact a fluidity often imitated but still distinctly their own, and while each song seems to be precisely placed just where it needs to be to maximize symmetry, instrumental or vocalized, to put on In Her Garden and listen front-to-back on CD or digital, the flow between tracks is practically seamless.

colour haze in her garden booklet

Granted, it shouldn’t be especially surprising that a group more than two decades into their career knows how to make songs work well next to each other, and it’s true that some of the aspects of In Her Garden show themselves to be signature Colour Haze, whether it’s the riff that appears in the apex of “Skydance” as the album moves toward its conclusion, the unmatched class and instrumental chemistry between KoglekMerwald and Rasthofer or the live feel between the three of them that underscores even the broadest of arrangements, on side C’s horn-laden “Labyrinthe” or the subsequent, string-infused “Lotus.” None of this is to In Her Garden‘s detriment. Rather, even as the second LP takes its cue from “Islands” and moves away somewhat — “Lotus” aside — from the garden theme and plant-based titles, it’s the core strength of Colour Haze‘s style giving them the foundation on which to build their arrangements.

The pair of “Labyrinthe” and “Lotus” most outwardly emphasize this, but it’s true to varying degrees of “Lavatera” and “Islands,” of “Black Lilly,” “Magnolia” and “Arbores,” and of “Skydancer” and “Skydance” as well — the whole record does it, and then finds further enrichment through the intro to each LP side. One can listen to the Rhodes on “sdg II,” or hear the patient drawl of horns in “Labyrinthe” or the swing in “Black Lilly” and point to individual achievements that demonstrate Colour Haze‘s relentless, continual evolution of ideas, but with In Her Garden the more appropriate way to look at it is with the resounding affect of the entirety. It’s not just about one song. It’s about the conversation of songs, and how they interact with each other. “Lotus,” which wants only for the inclusion of a full nine-part harmony chorus in its finish, nonetheless provides a wonderful crescendo in its bouncing apex, but it’s not just for itself — it’s for “Labyrinthe” before it and the closing duo still to come. Each cut feels an effect from its surroundings, and the whole experience of In Her Garden becomes a world that lets the listener come inside and wander as they will, or just sit quietly and let these special moments wash over.

I feign no objectivity when it comes to this band or their output. I am a fan and when I put on In Her Garden to bask in the winding rhythm of “Magnolia,” the keys on “Skydancer” or the glorious pull of “Lotus,” I hear them with a fan’s ears and experience a fan’s joy in returning to them. That said, In Her Garden only provides further argument for why that’s the case in its concept and its memorable songcraft, and shows clearly why a generation of heavy psych rockers has worked so hard to capture a fraction of what makes the work of KoglekRasthofer and Merwald so continually and enduringly special. We’re now 13 years on from their self-titled LP (discussed here) and 11 from its 2006 follow-up, Tempel (discussed here), which in many ways have become defining outings for Colour Haze, but time has done nothing to dull either their aesthetic luster nor the will that drives them to create.

One can trace a line from earlier works like 1999’s Periscope, 2000’s CO2, 2001’s Ewige Blumenkraft (reissue review here) and 2003’s Los Sounds de Krauts — their first double-album — on through Colour Haze, Tempel, 2008’s All and into their latter-day works and find no point at which they did not push themselves to find new avenues to explore as players and writers. When one considers this body of work — the whole garden — Colour Haze become all the more a singular entity in Europe’s heavy underground as well as a defining presence within it, but even taken out of its context, In Her Garden not only stands up to the legacy behind it, but feels like just as much an invitation to those who’ve never heard the trio as it is the latest welcome return for longtime followers. Its warmth of tone, overall scope, melodic depth and thoughtful ambition ensure it is entirely Colour Haze‘s own and that its resonance will hold for years to come even as it stands tall and graceful among the best full-lengths of 2017. Recommended.

Colour Haze website

Colour Haze on Thee Facebooks

Elektrohasch Schallplatten website

Colour Haze at Sound of Liberation

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Carpet Taking Preorders for Secret Box

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 7th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

carpet

Word has been floating around for a couple years of a next full-length outing from engaging German psych-proggers Carpet. The album, which has been revealed as being called Secret Box, will be out this Spring on Elektrohasch Schallplatten, the Colour Haze-owned imprint that also stood behind Carpet‘s 2013 outing, Elysian Pleasures (review here), and has newly reissued that offering on CD and a limited yellow vinyl, which of course is already gone. Preorders are up for Secret Box now, for CD, LP and limited blue LP, and frankly, it doesn’t like an unreasonable option. I bet it looks pretty sweet in blue with the cover’s color scheme matching and all.

Carpet, who also released the Riot Kiss 7″ (review here) in 2015, have some tour dates lined up for April and as Elektrohasch states in the newsletter snippet below, the CD will be available by then and the vinyl might as well. Good to know it’ll show up one way or the other, and since I don’t happen to have the fortune of being in Cottbus, Heidelberg, Karlsruhe, etc., when Carpet roll through, I’ll just be keeping my eyes open for more about the record, for which you can see the artwork and more information below.

Goes like this:

carpet secret box

Carpet – Secret Box CD / LP

After their great debut, imho one of the very best Progressive and Psychedelic Rock records of the recent years, now an as fantastic 2nd album!

Carpet also tour Germany with their new album:

Do 13.04. Kreuzlingen – Horst Klub
Fr 14.04. Luzern – Treibhaus
Mi 19.04. Münster – Sputnik Café
Do 20.04. Cottbus – Zum faulen August
Fr 21.04. Halle – Hühnermanhatten
Sa 22.04. Heidelberg – Leitstelle im Dezernat 16
Mo 15.05. München – Glockenbachwerkstatt
Sa 30.09. Karlsruhe – KOHI

The CD will be delivered in March, the LP (there is also a limited edition with blue vinyl) might be available on time for the tour as well. You can already order them at www.elektrohasch.de

https://www.facebook.com/carpetband
http://carpet.bandcamp.com/
http://carpetband.com/
http://elektrohasch.de/

Carpet, Riot Kiss (2015)

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Colour Haze Set March and May Release Dates for In Her Garden

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 16th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

German heavy psych forerunners Colour Haze have reportedly given their new album, In Her Garden, May 17 vinyl release date. They’re set to tour next month with My Sleeping Karma on a run presented by, among others, this site, and will reportedly have CDs on hand for that run. Cover art for the impending 2LP release, which of course will be out on their own Elektrohasch Schallplatten has surfaced, along with some minor particulars from a release page at Clear Spot Distribution, linked below. Thanks to Noel Oxford for bringing the art to my attention.

Colour Haze‘s last studio album, To the Highest Gods We Know (review here), was released late in 2014 and represented something of a stripping down of the processes and grandeur shown on 2012’s She Said (review here), which like In Her Garden, was a double-record. Whether or not that portends anything in terms of the sonic direction of the new material, I wouldn’t guess. Colour Haze have never failed to move forward stylistically from one release to the next, so just about the only safe bet to make is that whatever they wind up doing across the 75-minute release, it’ll be their own.

Info is pretty minimal at this point, but here’s what I’ve been able to find so far, as well as those tour dates again in case you want to book tickets, flights, and so on:

colour haze in her garden

COLOUR HAZE – IN HER GARDEN (2LP)

Label: ELEKTROHASCH
Release date: 15/05/2017

The 2017 full-length by the German psych heads offers approximately 75 minutes of out-there rock sounds. This DOUBLE-LP on 180-gram vinyl is presented in a gatefold sleeve.

colour haze my sleeping karma tourColoured Karma Tour 2017: My Sleeping Karma + Colour Haze
16.03. Cologne, Live Music Hall
17.03. UK – London, The Garage
18.03. BEL – Leuven, Het Depot
19.03. NL – Nijmegen, Doornroosje
20.03. F- Paris, Divan Du Monde
21.03. CH – Pratteln, Z7
22.03. Munich, Feierwerk
23.03. Saarbrücken, Garage
24.03. Darmstadt, Centralstation
25.03. Hamburg, Markthalle
26.03. Berlin, Astra
27.03. Hannover, Faust
28.03. Leipzig, Werk 2
29.03. Nürnberg, Hirsch
30.03. A- Vienna, Arena
31.03. A – Graz, PPC
01.04. Stuttgart, JH Hallschlag

http://colourhaze.de/
http://elektrohasch.de/
http://www.clear-spot.nl/item/443580/colour_haze_in_her_garden.html

Colour Haze, “To the Highest Gods We Know”

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Colour Haze & My Sleeping Karma Announce Co-Headlining Tour Supporting New Albums

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 23rd, 2016 by JJ Koczan

colour haze

my sleeping karma

It’s the match of your tonal dreams. Colour Haze and My Sleeping Karma co-headlining a tour in March, both supporting early 2017 releases. In the case of Colour Haze, it’s a new studio record currently in the process of being mixed for issue on Elektrohasch, first on CD in Feb., then LP after. For My Sleeping Karma, it’s the previously-announced Mela Ananda – Live offering, which Napalm Records will have out Feb. 24. With the shows presented by Sound of Liberation, they’re calling the run the ‘Coloured Karma Tour,’ and it begins March 16 in Cologne and runs through April 1 in Stuttgart.

Aside from bringing the incredible thought of seeing these two bands sharing a stage, this is also the first news I’ve seen of a new Colour Haze album, and that’s some of the best news one can hope to get on any given day. I’ll hope to have more on that as we get closer, and more on the My Sleeping Karma live record as well, which is their first — and as someone who’s never had the pleasure of watching them play, I’m interested to hear how their ultra-smooth tones resonate — but in the meantime, here’s the announcement as put out by My Sleeping Karma on the social medias for your perusal/jealousy:

my sleeping karma colour haze tour dates

Hey Friends, some good news right before X-mas. In March 2017 we are going on a Double Headliner Tour with our friends in Colour Haze. Both bands will play full shows and present their new releases. We are sorry that we can’t cover all parts of Europe, it’s just impossible timewise. Hope to see you all for a “Mela Ananda” in March.

If you like, please spread the word by sharing this post. Thank you all!!!

Coloured Karma Tour 2017: My Sleeping Karma + Colour Haze
( Ticketlinks and FB Events will be posted soon)

16.03. Cologne, Live Music Hall
17.03. UK – London, The Garage
18.03. BEL – Leuven, Het Depot
19.03. NL – Nijmegen, Doornroosje
20.03. F- Paris, Divan Du Monde
21.03. CH – Pratteln, Z7
22.03. Munich, Feierwerk
23.03. Saarbrücken, Garage
24.03. Darmstadt, Centralstation
25.03. Hamburg, Markthalle
26.03. Berlin, Astra
27.03. Hannover, Faust
28.03. Leipzig, Werk 2
29.03. Nürnberg, Hirsch
30.03. A- Vienna, Arena
31.03. A – Graz, PPC
01.04. Stuttgart, JH Hallschlag

https://www.facebook.com/MySleepingKarma/
napalmrecords.com
http://colourhaze.de/
http://elektrohasch.de/

Colour Haze, Live at Duna Jam 2016

My Sleeping Karma, Live in Paris 2016

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Friday Full-Length: Colour Haze, Tempel

Posted in Bootleg Theater on November 11th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Colour Haze, Tempel (2006)

Wherever you might lie on the political spectrum, it seemed important to me to close out this week with something radiating love, and in the decade since it came out I’ve yet to put on Colour Haze‘s Tempel and hear or feel anything else from it.

One doesn’t generally think of a band’s eighth album as being a particularly landmark moment in their progression. By the time most acts get that far — and make no mistake, most acts don’t — they’ve probably settled into their sound or at least solidified their processes to a point where they’re kind of on autopilot, even if that autopilot involves a natural growth pattern. For Colour Haze, it was different. The Berlin trio’s seventh outing, their 2004 self-titled (discussed here) had served as a stunning follow-up to the preceding 2001 double-album, Los Sounds de Krauts, and thrust the band to the fore of what seems in hindsight to have been a nascent movement of heavy psychedelia they’d spearhead both aesthetically and through the contributions of guitarist/vocalist Stefan Koglek‘s label, Elektrohasch Schallplatten. The challenge before them was how to answer the warmth and the expanse of the self-titled without repeating themselves, losing the ultra-organic sensibility that made that outing such a joy, or sacrifice songcraft in the process. No small task.

I remember getting Tempel as a fan of the band, putting it on, hearing “Fire” for the first time and immediately knowing they’d done it. From the gentle opening of the winding “Aquamaria” (also the longest track on the album; immediate points) down through later liquefication of “Ozean” and the harmonized finale “Stratofarm,” Tempel presented a vision of psychedelic heft that seemed to need neither but fed off both. The chemistry between Koglek, bassist Philipp Rasthofer and drummer Manfred Merwald was all it needed to convey this — underscoring the point of just how special a group Colour Haze had become. To listen to “Mind” or “Gold and Silver” or the memorable instrumental title-track, they bring forth a varied approach that ties together with fluidity that few beyond Colour Haze can claim to have matched in the years since, classic in style but perhaps even more so now sounding fresh and like something that was genuinely new. One could hear shades of their earlier and more strictly desert rocking work in the later thrust of “Gold and Silver” and the subsequent shuffle of “Earth,” which follows, reminding of records like 1999’s Periscope, 2000’s CO2 or 2001’s Ewige Blumenkraft, but even these are met with shimmering organ and/or a depth of tone that were a definitive forward step even from where Colour Haze were two years earlier.

A couple weeks ago, I was having an email back and forth with someone whose opinion I greatly respect, and the conversation turned to Colour Haze. My thoughts were simple: People still don’t know how incredible this band is. I genuinely feel that way. As much as KoglekRasthofer and Merwald have helped to influence a generation of European heavy psych, played a large role in establishing what those words mean when placed in succession, they’re still somehow underrated. Their progression would continue from Tempel on through 2008’s spectacular All, 2012’s much-delayed but glorious 2LP She Said (review here), and late-2014’s surprise outing, To the Highest Gods We Know (review here), the touring for which also resulted in earlier-2016’s  Live Vol. 1 – Europa Tournee 2015 (review here). I haven’t heard from them in a bit, but I wouldn’t be the least surprised if they had new stuff in the works for next year or 2018 as well. They never seem to stop, which of course is another part of the appeal. One hopes that if they keep going perpetually, they’ll finally get the recognition they deserve.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

Hug someone you love. Pet your dog or your cat. Write something on the internet. Smoke what you smoke. Drink what you drink. Eat what you eat. Do whatever you have to do to get by. I don’t really want to say much about politics in this space. Somehow I’ve become increasingly wary of doing so over the last couple years. When I was at The Aquarian I wrote a political column every week, often little more than a 700-800 word rant about something pissing me off. I was younger, and drunk. Apart from these posts, which have become half-personal update, half-music (not that music’s not personal), I don’t do that here, or really on Thee Facebooks either.

What I will note is that this election affected me on a personal and emotional level in a way no presidential contest has done in my 35 years. The anxiety beforehand — for months beforehand — and the shock and sadness at the result have been much, much deeper than I expected them to be. I’m actually a pretty political guy, comparatively. I keep up on issues, news of the day, who’s doing what and so on to the best of my ability. This isn’t the first time I’ve ever paid attention. But yeah, it’s been like nothing I’ve ever felt before, even during the Bush/Cheney years. Of course, as a straight white male, it ain’t like the Supreme Court’s coming to take away my rights or like my healthcare is less secure — though state funding for public higher ed., in which The Patient Mrs. works and from which our insurance comes, is more of a question in an arena of increased privatization and budget slashing — but there are people I love whose lives will change directly for the worse because of what happened in my country on Tuesday night. I have a niece whom I worship and adore who will enter her formative years under a president who has openly bragged about sexually assaulting women, and yes, that hurts. It should hurt.

That’s all I’ll say about it. For now. If shit goes full-on 2006-levels-of-despair, I may need to establish some kind of rant space around here just so I don’t lose my fucking mind. We’ll see.

Here’s what’s in the notes for next week. Subject to change:

Mon. – Full album stream/review of the new Borracho.
Tue. – Season of Arrows track premiere.
Wed. – Ice Dragon‘s new single reviewed.
Thu. – EYE‘s new album reviewed day before release.
Fri. – Full album stream/review of The Munsens.

That’s where we’re at for now. I have a couple fest writeups to work on as well, so will be busy over the weekend one way or another. But I’ve also got my best friend up from NJ for the next couple days, and I got my Playstation 4 Pro yesterday and a demo of Final Fantasy XV that I’m looking forward to digging into further, and The Patient Mrs. is very likely buying a new car today to replace the one that died en route to The Obelisk All-Dayer in August, so yeah, there’s kind of a lot going on. My sister also had a special birthday yesterday, which I’ll note because I love her deeply and was sorry to not be there for it. She’s also in Jersey, along with the rest of my family.

You should also know that revisiting Tempel has been inspiration enough to re-load the complete Colour Haze catalog into my iTunes — it’s been there previously but was removed; software stuff; long story — so I expect that will be a good portion of the weekend’s fare as well, which can only be to the benefit of the next few days.

I hope whatever you’re up to you have a great time and that you stay safe.

Please check out the forum and the radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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Ahkmed, The Inland Sea: Bliss and Water

Posted in Reviews on September 16th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

ahkmed-the-inland-sea

Marked out by their tonal warmth and immersive progressions, the long-form fluidity of Melbourne trio Ahkmed makes a welcome return with The Inland Sea, the band’s first full-length since 2009’s Distance (review here). That outing was also released by Elektrohasch Schallplatten — which, if you know the label run by Stefan Koglek of Colour Haze, should be about as far as you need to read in this review to let you know you should get on board.

After seven years, there have been some notable shifts in Ahkmed‘s sound, veering away from post-rock more pure heavy psych jamming, here presented in raw, mostly-instrumental form across five extended tracks — “Kaleidoscope” (10:44), “The Inland Sea” (12:53), “Last Hour of Light” (20:09), “Pattern of Atolls” (11:54) and “The Empty Quarter” (15:31) — totaling a satisfyingly symmetrical 1:11:11 runtime.

Not a minor investment in terms of the front-to-back listen, but the dreamtones and spaciousness of the title-track, the graceful manner in which the songs unfold and the varied atmospheres between them assure that the journey remains engaging for the duration, drummer John-Paul Caligiuri adding vocals over the slow wash of “The Inland Sea” (though that might be a sample; it’s kind of obscure in the mix) and the subsequent centerpiece after the hypnotic opening of “Kaleidoscope” to bring a definitively human presence to the material just when it seems to be pushing out further and further.

Also the introduction of new bassist Finn Rockwell, who comes aboard to replace Dan McNamara, alongside Caligiuri and guitarist Carlo IacovinoThe Inland Sea casts out cosmic with a natural chemistry and patient execution, indulging itself as a release like this invariably must, but not doing so in an offputting or pretentious fashion.

That can be a hard line to walk, but Ahkmed make it work in the best way possible — by simply doing it. From the fuzzy guitar line that starts “Kaleidoscope” onward, the three-piece ease their way into progressive spacedelia with an underlying command that speaks to the years they’ve been at it, Caligiuri and Iacovino having started the band circa 1998.

As they approach 20 years in and mark their resurgence from a dormant period, The Inland Sea lacks nothing for vitality, though admittedly they’re not exactly shooting for uptempo party rock. That’s not to say their delivery isn’t energetic or they don’t sound like they’re making the music they want to be making — quite the opposite, actually — just that the trance that takes hold about halfway through “Kaleidoscope” and continues into “The Inland Sea” would seem to be closer to the endgame goal the album is pushing toward.

ahkmed

It’s about the texture and spirit that emerges from the material; something to get lost in. They build “Kaleidoscope” to a formidable apex and end it with a fading wash to let the title cut take hold with two builds of its own, patiently marched forward by cymbal washes as the guitar spaces out, the song almost dividing in half for when one part ends and the next one starts.

By its finish, it too gets to significant proportion, but the difference in ambience is noteworthy, and another balance Ahkmed strike subtly throughout The Inland Sea as “Last Hour of Light” — an obvious focal point, for even more than its sheer length — arrives with about two minutes of introduction from the guitar before the vocals and quiet drums join in. At this point, the ethereal mood is fully constructed, but Caligiuri does have a grounding effect when he starts with the first verse, something to give a sense of place to what can seem to be so willfully formless.

At first, it seems like “Pattern of Atolls” might be trying to bridge the the two sides between Ahkmed‘s post-rock and more heavy psych liquefaction, but it winds up pushing further, thickening its tones in the second half and pushing into territory more outwardly heavy than anything The Inland Sea has yet offered. Caligiuri returns on vocals earlier in the track but recedes into the molten flow that seems to rise up after his lines are done, and it’s Rockwell whose low end seems to signify the heft to come, fuzzed-out as it is.

They start to dive into a payoff but hold back, saving it for the end of the song, which feels about right once they hit the nine-minute mark and crash into a blown-out final three minutes that cap with bass-noise swirling directly into the guitar intro of “The Empty Quarter” — the most purposeful transition they’ve yet made and one that ties the final two tracks together in a way that brings to mind a linearity that The Inland Sea invariably wouldn’t have as a 2LP, on which “The Empty Quarter” and “Pattern of Atolls” would each likely occupy a side.

Maybe that’s Ahkmed acknowledging the digital/vinyl companionship, the sort of symbiotic the most and least physical formats have developed over the years since Distance, or maybe it’s just the way the songs flowed the best. I wouldn’t hazard a guess. Either way, the closer follows a similar pattern of a guitar intro leading to a verse that shifts into a jam quiet, louder, quiet again, noisy for a bit, then at last arriving at the groove that will carry it out.

To listen to The Inland Sea by this time and look for intricacies almost feels like missing the point, which is clearly to let the album wash over you and move you from one end of its span to the other. Nonetheless, “The Empty Quarter” and the four cuts before it do offer a depth of experience for those willing to dig in — headphones recommended — and the spaces they evoke seem vast enough to hold a presence until next time. Hopefully that’s not another seven years.

Ahkmed, The Inland Sea (2016)

Ahkmed on Thee Facebooks

Ahkmed on Bandcamp

Elektrohasch Schallplatten

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Colour Haze, Live Vol. 1 – Europa Tournee 2015: Praising High Gods

Posted in Reviews on August 3rd, 2016 by JJ Koczan

colour-haze-live-vol-1-europa-tournee-2015

Technically speaking, this isn’t the first Colour Haze live record, but it most definitely is the first they’ve put out through Elektrohasch, and it’s their most complete-feeling to date. A set from the Berg Herzberg festival aptly-titled Berg Herzberg Festival 18 Juli 2008 was issued in 2009, but in comparison, Live Vol. 1 – Europa Tournee 2015 attempts to capture the best performances of a whole tour and winds up with two discs and over two hours and 11 minutes of music as a result. Spend an afternoon with Colour Haze. There are few better ways I can think of to dedicate that time, honestly, though I’m hardly impartial as a fan of the band. Comprised of 13 tracks, Live Vol. 1 – Europa Tournee 2015 culls material recorded in Paris, Frankfurt, Wurzberg, Berlin, Köln and puts it together fluidly — presumably in an effort to give an idea of what any given night’s setlist might’ve been — while spanning a decent portion of the Munich trio’s widely influential career.

As ever, Colour Haze are guitarist/vocalist Stefan Koglek, bassist Philipp Rasthofer and drummer Manfred Merwald, and this live outing was taped early last year as they were out with Radio Moscow, Cherry Choke and The Sun and the Wolf to support the late-2014 release of To the Highest Gods We Know (review here), their 11th studio album. Though they continue to be regular denizens of Duna Jam — and why not? — they’ve done less overall touring the last several years, having nestled themselves into a kind of statesman-like status in Europe’s heavy rock scene and provided a formative blueprint for an entire swath of jam-based heavy psychedelia with their unmatched instrumental chemistry, depth of tone and memorable songcraft.

Fortunately for anyone who might pick it up, all of those are on display throughout Live Vol. 1 – Europa Tournee 2015, and Colour Haze show just how successful they’ve been in bringing an on-stage feel to their recordings all along as they dig into the still-exploratory-feeling title-track from 2012’s double-LP She Said (review here), from which “Transformation” and “Grace” are also featured, in succession, both with different arrangements than appear on the album. To the Highest Gods We Know gets its due as well, with a medley of “Überall” and “Call” joined together, a shortened, string-less take on its “To the Highest Gods We Know” and the righteously-riffed album opener “Circles,” on which Koglek‘s and Rasthofer‘s tones come through no less brilliantly than on the record itself. They go as far back as 1999’s Periscope, opening with that album’s title-track, feature “Love” and a 26-minute version of “Peace, Brothers and Sisters!” from their 2004 self-titled, “Aquamaria” and “Tempel” from 2006’s Tempel, and “Moon” from 2008’s All.

colour-haze-live-vol-1-europa-tournee-2015-tracklisting

Transitions across this swath of time — 16 years’ worth of material — are of course as seamless as anyone familiar with their work would expect, the three-piece having set their course with Periscope and continued to refine their processes ever since. Granted, for a live offering like this, there wouldn’t necessarily be the warts-and-all missteps one might find in, say, a single recorded set from any group — a flubbed note here, a flat line there — but at no point does Live Vol. 1 – Europa Tournee 2015 sound anything other than blissfully natural in its execution, and as the band hop from town to town, “Überall and Call” in Frankfurt, “Circles” in Paris, and so on, they give the genuine impression that the circumstances are the same, every night, every city, and so succeed in making Live Vol. 1 – Europa Tournee 2015 a representation of the tour and their live show in general. Whether it’s getting lost in the 13-minute “Transformation” or the far-ranging jam they embark on as part of “Peace, Brothers and Sisters!,” Colour Haze bring their legend to life in welcoming fashion.

And yeah, maybe the two-plus-hour live record is a fan piece. We’re coming up on being two years removed from the release of To the Highest Gods We Know and Live Vol. 1 – Europa Tournee coincides with Colour Haze‘s return to the US to take part in Psycho Las Vegas after a decade since their last US show, at Emissions from the Monolith in Ohio, so that they’d want to get something out makes sense from a practical standpoint as well, but it says something about the band that clearly this material has been carefully compiled, edited together so smoothly, and done in a manner worthy of the quality of the performances contained within. It is in no way half-assed, up to the point of including “Get it On” from 2000’s CO2 as a bonus track after the show-unto-itself “Peace, Brothers and Sisters!” caps what would be the regular set. An encore! After a 26-minute song!

There are few acts who could get away with such a thing, let alone as gloriously as KoglekRasthofer and Merwald do here — the latter’s snare subtlety even coming through on the live recording — but Colour Haze aren’t just any band. As they’ve demonstrated time and again, their strange brew is endlessly potent, and while they’ve marched past 20 years since the release of their first album in 1995’s Chopping Machine (discussed here), this collection proves their luster has only shone brighter over time and that their vision of a new classic rock finds no conflict in being as loyal to its roots as it is forward-thinking. Live Vol. 1 – Europa Tournee will be essential for any Colour Haze fan regardless of geography or how often they might tour in a given place, but for newcomers as well, it gives not only a sense of the spectrum of (much of) their catalog, but also provides a wholly immersive listening experience, and so pushes forward an essential aspect of the band’s sonic personality. Go with it.

Colour Haze website

Elektrohasch Schallplatten website

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Colour Haze Announce Live Vol. 1 – Europa Tournee 2015 Due this Month; Premiere “Circles (Paris)”

Posted in audiObelisk, Whathaveyou on June 10th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

colour haze

Heavy psych masters Colour Haze announce Live Vol. 1 – Europa Tournee 2015, a new live release through Elektrohasch Schallplatten, due this month on CD with vinyl to follow in July. Comprising two discs with more than two hours’ runtime, Live Vol. 1 – Europa Tournee 2015 chronicles the Munich trio’s early 2015 run alongside The Sun and The WolfRadio Moscow and Cherry Choke on the Up in Smoke Vol. 5 tour to support their latest studio full-length, To the Highest Gods We Know (review here).

That record, which was a return to normalcy after a tumultuous release process for 2012’s double-LP, She Said (review here), and both albums feature heavily in the setlist for Live Vol. 1 – Europa Tournee 2015. With recordings from shows in Frankfurt, Paris, Köln, Würzburg and Berlin, tracks like “She Said,” “Transformation” and “To the Highest Gods We Know” shine with different interpretations and varied arrangements for the stage that make it plain why the band wanted to document the tour to give their worldwide audience a look at what’s rarely seen or heard outside Europe.

For more than 20 years, Colour Haze have worked to craft an unmatched legacy in heavy psychedelia. Across their 11 studio albums, they’ve cast an influence that knows no borders and emphasizes the timeless nature of instrumental chemistry at its best. Comprised of guitarist/vocalist Stefan Koglek (also the head of Elektrohasch), bassist Philipp Rasthofer and drummer Manfred MerwaldColour Haze previously released the limited live outing, Burg Herzberg Festival 18. Juli 2008, in 2009, but Live Vol. 1 – Europa Tournee 2015 will be the first official Colour Haze live offering through Elektrohasch, and if the title is anything to go by, it might not be the last.

Colour Haze play their first US show in a decade in August at Psycho Las Vegas. Below, you can stream the premiere of “Circles (Paris)” from Live Vol. 1 – Europa Tournee 2015. More info on exact release dates — it’ll probably be an “out now” situation — when it comes in.

Cover art and tracklisting follow:

colour-haze-live-vol-1-europa-tournee-2015

Colour Haze, Live Vol. 1 – Europa Tournee 2015:
CD 1
1. Periscope (Frankfurt)
2. Moon (Frankfurt)
3. Uberall & Call (Frankfurt)
4. She Said (Paris)
5. Aquamaria (Würzburg)
6. To the Highest Gods We Know (Köln)
7. Circles (Paris)

CD 2
1. Transformation (Berlin)
2. Grace (Berlin)
3. Tempel (Köln)
4. Love (Paris)
5. Peace Brothers and Sisters! (Frankfurt)
6. Get it On (Köln) (Bonus Track)

http://colourhaze.de/
http://elektrohasch.de/

Colour Haze, “Circles (Paris)” Premiere

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