Friday Full-Length: Sungrazer, Mirador

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 16th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

Sungrazer, Mirador (2011)

About a decade ago, The Atomic Bitchwax wrote a song called “The Passenger” which featured the lines, “I always thought you’d come around/Realize where your home really was…” and went on to talk about filling the space with fuzz. When it comes to certain bands calling it quits, “Realize where your home really was” continues to ring in my head. I guess that, since they broke up in 2013, I figured that the three members of Netherlands-based heavy psych rockers Sungrazer would spend the next however many years working their way back to each other. Different projects would come and go, whatever personality or creative conflicts that might have been insurmountable at the time would fall by the wayside, seen at last for how minute they actually were in comparison to the special collaboration between the three of them. Eventually, one way or another, Sungrazer would get back together.

I’ll allow this was a fan’s denial. Between 2010’s Sungrazer (review here) and 2011’s Mirador (review here), I had them pegged as the forerunners of the next generation of European fuzz. The band who could take the lessons of Colour Haze and maybe push even further into something new, turning influence into something truly individual and thus becoming an influence in their own right. When they disbanded after 2013’s split with The Machine (review here), it was hard not to feel like there was potential going to waste. Here was a band who, already so clearly with something special to offer, could have done so much more just blatantly refusing to do it.

It was heartbreaking to learn earlier this week about the passing of former Sungrazer guitarist/vocalist Rutger Smeets. Genuinely, and not just because I dug the band he used to play in or the band he went on to play in afterward (that being Cigale). I don’t know what Smeets‘ circumstances were, but it’s almost too easy to read into, which is an impulse I’ve been trying all week, mostly unsuccessfully, to fight against.

And so, we close out the week with Mirador, the second and final full-length from Sungrazer. There was really no other choice, and to be honest, I haven’t put on much else since Tuesday. I remember getting a review copy of Mirador and listening to it in the morning a lot, even after I wrote it up, and though I wasn’t even really done yet with the self-titled — still not, as it happens — I recall thinking what a huge step forward it was for Smeets, bassist/vocalist Sander Haagmans and drummer Hans Mulders. How they had managed to develop so much chemistry between them in just a year’s time, how natural they sounded, and how fluid the whole experience of hearing it was, from the ultra-catchy “Sea” into the progressive harmonies of “Behind,” the molten explorations of “Mirador” itself and the playful spirit of “34 and More.” Between these and the early patience established on opener “Wild Goose,” the fade-in of which seems to pick up right from where the debut left off, the instrumental “Octo,” and “Goldstrike,” which is like the gateway to the expanses to come, Mirador remains four years later an album that stands out as a high point in the style. In light of Smeets‘ passing, it seems even more precious, and we should be all the more grateful to have it.

The loss is bigger than we can know. I’ve already expressed my condolences to family, friends and bandmates, but again: Heel veel sterkte. Gecondoleerd.

I think we’ll leave it there for the week. Thanks for reading. Forum and radio.

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The Machine and Seven that Spells Announce Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 10th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

Dutch heavy rockers The Machine and Croatian krautrock specialists Seven that Spells are teaming up to hit the road in November. The shows are only in Germany and Switzerland, so it’s not exactly full-coverage even as regards Western Europe, but it’s a week of dates anyway and better than nothing. Jeez, what’s the worst that happens, you fly to Germany and see a show? Live with it.

The Machine will be out supporting earlier-2015’s Offblast! (review here), their fifth outing and most accomplished work to-date, while Seven that Spells hit the road on the heels of a Sulatron Records reissue of their 2012 album, Superautobahn, their most recent studio release being last year’s The Death and Resurrection of Krautrock: IO (review here), the second installment of a to-be-concluded trilogy.

Tour is presented by Sound of Liberation and info is as follows:

the machine seven that spells tour

When We Switch Our Amps On The Cities Go Dark Tour (THE MACHINE & SEVEN THAT SPELLS)

The Machine & Seven That Spells will be touring Germany (ok and Switzerland) for one week in November 2015.

13.11 : Kulturbahnhof Jena // Jena GER
14.11 : Feierwerk // München GER
15.11 : Sedel Garage Luzern // Luzern CH
16.11 : Immerhin Würzburg // Würzburg GER
17.11 : Bassy Club // Berlin GER
18.11 : Kulturzentrum Faust // Hannover GER

Beyond. We are the dogs of the western Jazz society looking for dope. Modern, aggressive psychedelic wall of sound incorporating polymetrics and occasional Viking funeral rites; hailing from the 23rd century where rock is dead, Seven That Spells returned in time where its still possible to change the tragic course of the boring history.

THE MACHINE is a rock band from the Rotterdam area (NL). Through the years the band has been crafting its own (loud) brand of both hard-hitting tracks and instrumental takeoffs. Rooted in heavy rock, THE MACHINE refuses to be pigeonholed and prefers a modern experimental approach to the well known concepts of yesteryear.

The Machine, “Coda Sun” official video

Seven that Spells, The Death and Resurrection of Krautrock: IO (2014)

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The Obelisk Presents: The Top 15 of 2015 So Far

Posted in Features on July 6th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

top 15 of 2015 so far the-rhinoceros-albrecht-durer

If 2015 ended tomorrow, I think you’d still have to say it was a pretty good year for heavy rock. Doom veered into a swath extremes — its own subgenres emerging almost one by one in a growing splinter that nonetheless continues to draw water from its roots — while the neo-stoner ignition of the West Coast continued its boom of new acts proffering classic groove. The East reveled in a progressive vision just waiting to be picked up by others, and in Europe, the ’70s traditionalist movement spread ever wider, essentially defining a modern sound in organic sounding, sometimes-vintage elements. Whether you’re going for crushing, oppressive barbarism or cosmos-bound blissouts, it is, in short, a good time to be alive.

Of course, 2015 doesn’t end tomorrow, and there’s still a whole lot of year to come. About half, as it happens. So, as has been the tradition around here for the last half-decade — and seems to be the tradition in a growing number of outlets; not taking credit or claiming to have invented anything, just noting a proliferation — it’s time to count down the best records of the year so far. There have been more than a handful of gems, and since in December I’m planning on doing a top 30, we’ll mark half the year with a top 15. Seems only fair.

Please note that this isn’t purely a critical evaluation, but a personal list, and that what I’ve put on most is as crucial a factor in my ranking as how important I think a given record is. You know the drill by now. Let’s go:

15. Stoned Jesus, The Harvest

stoned jesus the harvest

Self-released. Reviewed Feb. 20.

Kiev three-piece Stoned Jesus have a varied stylistic history, and their third outing, The Harvest was ultimately a success in large part because of its complete refusal to be defined. Atop a foundation of quality songcraft, the trio proffered a sound that was not necessarily experimental in terms of anti-structure noise or effects onslaughts, but bold in each of its forays outward from its heavy rock underpinnings.


14. Freedom Hawk, Into Your Mind

freedom hawk into your mind

Released by Small Stone. Reviewed June 26.

It has consistently taken me a while to get a hold on what Freedom Hawk are up to. The steady elements in their sound are held to so firmly that on the first couple listens, it seems to just be more of the same. But the more one digs in, the more there is to be found, and with Into Your Mind, the Virginia Beach trio overcome losing a member to create their most progressive outing to date, flourishes of psychedelia melding easily with their signature style of sunshiny riffing.


13. My Sleeping Karma, Moksha

my sleeping karma moksha

Released by Napalm Records. Reviewed May 12.

Five albums deep, Germany’s My Sleeping Karma are an act unto themselves. Their progress has been natural, fueled by a clear, varied sense of exploratory will, and the results on this year’s Moksha were nothing short of stunning. Branching out their arrangements might not be new to them, but the inclusion of horns, drones, percussion, etc., amid the central guitar, bass, keys and drums lent an almost orchestral feel to the flow between the tracks, and one can only hope they continue on their current path, because it is unquestionably the right one.


12. Death Alley, Black Magick Boogieland

death alley black magick boogieland

Released by Tee Pee Records. Reviewed June 8.

So much potential, so much vitality at the heart of this debut from Death Alley. The Amsterdam-based four-piece (interview here) stormed out of the gate with a ripper of a debut, and just when you seemed to have it all figured out, they hit the ignition on a 12-minute full-impulse space rock thrust, a guest vocal appearance from Farida Lemouchi (a former bandmate of Death Alley guitarist Oeds Beydals in The Devil’s Blood) adding both mystique and emotional resonance to what was already a stunning track. With all the riotousness preceding, Black Magick Boogieland readily lived up to its righteous title.


11. Mondo Drag, Mondo Drag

mondo drag self titled

Released on RidingEasy Records and Kozmik Artifactz. Reviewed Jan. 8.

Midwestern-turned-West-Coast heavy psych rockers Mondo Drag may have taken their time in releasing their self-titled sophomore outing, which followed their 2010 debut, New Rituals (review here), and was recorded in 2012, but it’s easy to imagine that’s because they wanted the circumstances to be as special as the album itself, recorded with a fleeting five-piece lineup that included the one-time rhythm section of Radio Moscow who wound up leaving to further their then-nascent project, Blues Pills. Even without that lineup shift as a factor, the late ’60s vibe Mondo Drag brought out across the release proved eminently listenable and has held up on repeat visits.


10. Cigale, Cigale

cigale self-titled

Self-released. Reviewed May 4.

A gorgeous, shimmering and melodically resonant debut from the Dutch four-piece Cigale, their self-titled gracefully maintained tonal presence and warmth while also enacting a psychedelic sprawl and grooving serenity that acted like the landscape in which the songs took place. It was a rich, bright vibe, and an utter joy to behold, tracks like “Harvest Begun,” “Feel the Heat” and “Eyes Wide Shut” proving as memorable as they were inviting. Having two former members of the much-missed fuzz rock outfit Sungrazer may have initially turned some heads in their direction, but Cigale‘s first album proved they’re an outfit with their own personality, their own development to undertake, and already much to offer.


9. The Machine, Offblast!

the machine offblast

Released by Elektrohasch Schallplatten. Reviewed May 28.

The awaited return of The Machine brought the band’s fifth album and a further-refined sense of maturity in their processes, as well as intrigue as to where they might be headed, two dual modes of open-ended jamming and more structured songwriting playing off each other in the extended “Chrysalis (J.A.M.)” and “Come to Light” and the more verse/chorus stylizations of “Dry End” and “Off Course.” To be perfectly honest, I doubt The Machine will ultimately pick one side over another, since if Offblast! proved anything it’s that they can easily handle either or both, but as they continue to grow, it’s encouraging to have their style establish itself as so multi-faceted.


8. The Atomic Bitchwax, Gravitron

the atomic bitchwax gravitron

Released by Tee Pee Records. Reviewed April 20.

First time I pressed play on Gravitron was a real “oh shit!” moment. The last release from NJ stalwarts The Atomic Bitchwax was 2011’s The Local Fuzz (review here), a single-song full-length instrumental riff onslaught that had its charm but was inherently divorced from the appeal of the band’s songwriting. Not only does Gravitron re-factor that in with songs like “Roseland,” “It’s Alright,” “Coming in Hot” and “Ice Age Hey Baby,” among others, but it hits with kick-in-the-ass production force and an all-out heaviness that 2008’s TAB4 showed the three-piece steering directly away from. Just a killer record. Utterly void of pretense. No bullshit. No need to rely on anything more than chemistry, and with the Bitchwax, that’s plenty.


7. Brothers of the Sonic Cloth, Brothers of the Sonic Cloth

brothers of the sonic cloth self titled

Released by Neurot Recordings. Reviewed March 3.

Right now, Brothers of the Sonic Cloth are my band to beat for Debut of the Year, and I’m quite frankly not sure how anyone is going to be able to do it, so if list time comes in Dec. and you see Tad Doyle‘s trio marked out as such, know that it’s been that way in my head for some time. The three-piece of Doyle, bassist Peggy “Pegadeth” Tully and drummer Dave French arrived with a roar, and even when their self-titled let up sonically, the atmosphere remained viscerally heavy. Six years having passed since the release of their first demo (review here), I wasn’t sure there was ever going to be an album, but then to have Brothers of the Sonic Cloth show up and enact such thorough demolition only made it more impressive.


6. High on Fire, Luminiferous

high on fire luminiferous

Released by eOne Heavy. Reviewed June 15.

It can’t possibly be a surprise to have Luminiferous show up somewhere on this list. The seventh long-player by High on Fire had all the rage and bombast in “Slave the Hive” and “The Black Plot” that have become the band’s hallmarks over their 17 years together, but branched out progressively as well in songs like “The Cave” and “The Falconist,” the latter of which was brazenly catchy and about as emotionally direct as the band has ever gotten, their general modus being — and in that song too, just to a lesser extent — a metaphor-laced lyrical approach. That song was a triumph and so was the album as a whole; the second collaboration with producer Kurt Ballou building on the rampaging victories of 2012’s De Vermis Mysteriis (review here) while also showing growth on the part of one of modern metal’s most pivotal bands.


5. Kings Destroy, Kings Destroy

kings destroy self titled

Released by War Crime Recordings. Reviewed April 15.

Hitting more or less concurrent with a vinyl release of their prior album, 2013’s A Time of Hunting (review here), Kings Destroy‘s Kings Destroy is not at all coincidentally titled. Over the course of now three full-lengths, the New York five-piece — about whom I feign no impartiality, let it be noted — have distinguished themselves with a sound neither noise, nor doom, nor heavy rock, but drawing on elements of all three when it suits their purposes with chemistry built from years of being in bands together of various stripes and in various genres. What stands the self-titled out from their past work, in part, is that it is the closest they’ve yet come to capturing their live sound in the studio, and accordingly, it’s a volatile kind of heavy that bends aesthetic to its will rather than capitulating to expectations of any sort. I don’t think they’re done growing by any stretch, but Kings Destroy feels like an arrival front-to-back.


4. Colour Haze, To the Highest Gods We Know

colour haze to the highest gods we know

Released by Elektrohasch Schallplatten. Reviewed Jan. 6.

This one was almost a sneak-attack. German heavy psych forerunners Colour Haze released To the Highest Gods We Know, their 11th full-length, in Dec. 2014 on CD (the vinyl was in 2015, which is what we’re counting in this instance), with very, very little fanfare of any sort. There was a track premiere here that came shortly after the album was announced, but I think it was officially out less than a month after its existence was made public, which for a band of Colour Haze‘s stature and influence was surprising. Less devoted to grandeur than 2012’s 2CD She Said (review here), it nonetheless pushed the band’s sound forward and found them experimenting in their studio, particularly on the string-quartet-inclusive finale title-track, which offset jams like “Überall” and the laid back highlight “Call” with a rhythmic oddness that was somehow still Colour Haze‘s own. I couldn’t help but wonder where it was leading, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t masterful in its own right.


3. Goatsnake, Black Age Blues

goatsnake black age blues

Released by Southern Lord Recordings. Reviewed May 19.

Goatsnake didn’t have it easy going into their third album. It had been 15 years since their sophomore outing, Flower of Disease, 11 since their last EP, and five since they first started playing shows again. Expectations? Through the roof. Among heavy rock heads, a new Goatsnake was like seeing the mountaintop. I mean, a big fucking deal and then some. Then the record hits, and there’s just about no way it can live up to the anticipation, but god damn if Goatsnake not only finally put out a third album, but one that was better than I think anyone could’ve hoped for. Hearing Pete Stahl with however many backup singers he had on “Another River to Cross” et. al. was like finding an animal in its native habitat, and between his soul, Greg Anderson‘s riffs, bassist Scott Renner‘s low end rumble and drummer Greg Rogers‘ roll, Black Age Blues won almost immediately and then spent the rest of its 47 minutes throwing itself a victory party. “Elevated Man,” “House of the Moon,” “Jimi’s Gone,” “Grandpa Jones,” almost on a per-track basis, Goatsnake added to the reasons they’ve been so heralded despite a decade-plus’ absence from the studio.


2. Elder, Lore

elder lore

Released by Armageddon Shop and Stickman Records. Reviewed Feb. 19.

On the level of achievement alone, Elder‘s Lore will be the album of the year for many, and there are times (such as right now) when I listen to it and question whether or not it isn’t also my pick for that honor, but wherever it falls on whatever list, far more important is what the Massachusetts/Rhode Island/New York trio manage to accomplish across their third LP’s formidable five-track/59-minute span, songs like “Compendium” and “Deadweight” bridging a rarely approached gap between heavy and progressive rocks while maintaining a flow consistent with the psychedelic vibing of 2011’s Dead Roots Stirring (review here) but grown outward in another aesthetic direction and no sooner setting foot on the ground than seeming to master it in a flurry of blinding turns, sprawling soundscapes and clarity of mind that found perhaps its greatest expression in the centerpiece title-track, the 15-minute “Lore” itself, which I’ve no doubt will stand among if not atop the best songs of 2015 when the year is over and encapsulates the ambition and the corresponding breadth of Elder‘s songwriting, the trio of guitarist/vocalist Nick DiSalvo, bassist Jack Donovan, and drummer Matt Couto rising as one of the East Coast’s most pivotal acts, with a sound completely their own.


1. Acid King, Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere

acid king middle of nowhere center of everywhere

Released by Svart Records. Reviewed March 19.

I use the word “molten” pretty regularly to describe an album or song that seems to just ooze its way out of the speakers or shift seamlessly between its songs, but Acid King set an entirely new standard for the term with Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere. Their first outing for Svart and their first release in a decade, its 55 minutes were a riff-rolling nirvana of lurching fuzz and tonal excellence, the guitar of Lori S. at the fore accompanied by Mark Lamb‘s bass and Joey Osbourne‘s drums, the swing of which propelled a highlight track like “Coming down from Outer Space” right back into it, while elsewhere on the record, “Silent Pictures,” “Red River” and “Infinite Skies” torched stoner conventions into a new space-biker rock, culminating in the heavy psych of “Center of Everywhere,” which seemed to emanate from the place it was describing, at once empty and full. More than just a welcome return after a long dearth of releases, Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere found Acid King progressed even beyond where they were with 2005’s III, though more than anything else, what makes it my top pick for the year so far is the fact that I can’t seem to walk away from it for too long before going back, and ultimately, that’s what it all comes down to with his kind of thing. I’ve yet to find a standard to which these songs don’t live up.

Honorable Mention:

A few others worth noting. The Sun Blood Stories album (streamed here) continues to resonate. Also MonolordValkyrie, Lamp of the UniverseGarden of WormWo Fat‘s live record, The Midnight Ghost Train‘s Cold was the Ground and Ufomammut‘s Ecate. The Black Rainbows was a joy, as was Spidergawd‘s second LP, and while I still feel like I haven’t given it its due, the Sumac won many over and should get a mention. Steve Von Till‘s solo outing and the latest from Enslaved are worth seeking out as well for anyone who hasn’t heard them yet.

More to Come:

The year’s only half over, which is kind of a scary thought but true nonetheless. Watch out in the coming months for new stuff from BloodcowAll Them WitchesClutchGraveyardZunSacri Monti (if that one’s not already out), SnailUncle Acid, and Kind. The new Kadavar is a sure-fire top tenner, and between that, the potential for a new Neurosis album and stuff like Magnetic Eye Records‘ Electric Ladyland [Redux], there’s no way the book is written on the best of 2015.

So stay tuned.

And if I’ve still got your attention, thanks for reading.

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Carpet Post New Video for “Man Changing the Atoms”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 23rd, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster


If you heard the album, you’ll probably recognize the joyful build of “Man Changing the Atoms” from German heavy progressive rockers Carpet‘s 2013 sophomore outing, Elysian Pleasures. Released by Elektrohasch, that album was a reminder of how warm classic prog could readily be and updated what’s all too often a staid presentation with a penchant for exploration and if not spontaneity — because no doubt the Augsburg five-piece were working from a master plan — than at least a plotted sensibility that seemed as exciting to the listener as it might’ve been for the band. The soundscape “Man Changing the Atoms” constructed with its flourish of horns and weighted build made it a highlight of the record, and two years later the song shines on its own as well.

That two years might seem late for Carpet to drop a video for one of the album’s songs, but that’s not quite what’s happening here. The performance of “Man Changing the Atoms” is live, recorded at Ghost City Recordings in Röttenbach by Marius Roos, Philipp Roth and Benjamin Roth and that’s really only surprising for how smoothly the song is executed by the band, expanded from their root four-piece — guitarist/vocalist Maximilian Stephan, bassist Hubert Steiner, key specialist Sigmud Perner and drummer Jakob Mader — to a seven-piece lineup complete with flügelhorn, trumpet, more guitar and percussion, the result suitably intricate. For all its involved players, however, “Man Changing the Atoms” still sounds like the work of a band rather than an orchestra, and the humanity at its root becomes even more of the appeal as they push the song further outward.

And spoiler alert to anyone not familiar with the record: It winds up pretty far out. The video itself is pretty dark for the most part, but it should be easy enough to make out who’s doing what, and even if not, the idea is the whole experience anyway, so have at it and enjoy:

Carpet, “Man Changing the Atoms”

CARPET performing “Man Changing the Atoms”
Captured live at Ghost City Recordings Studio A

Filmed by Marius Roos, Philipp Roth & Benjamin Roth
Edited by Alec Barth

Recorded & mixed by Jan Kerscher

The Carpet Septet presents: “Man Changing the Atoms.” at Ghost City Recordings .
Jakob Mader: drums
Hubert Steiner: bass
Sigi Perner: rhodes and juno
Maximilian Stephan: guitar and the singing
Bruno Polaris: percussion
Benni Benson: guitar
Martin Lehmann: flügelhorn and trumpet

Thanks very much to Jan Kerscher and all people involved!

Carpet on Thee Facebooks

Carpet’s website

Ghost City Recordings

Elektrohasch Schallplatten

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The Machine, Offblast!: Coming to Light

Posted in Reviews on May 28th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster


In the works on one level or another since the second half of 2013, The Machine‘s fifth album arrives in the form of the 50-minute Offblast! via Elektrohasch Schallplatten, and marks a distinct turn for the band. The delay? A mix of technical trouble during mixing and personal life, and while that could easily mean the jam-prone Dutch trio have another batch of songs in the works to follow it up, Offblast! nonetheless resonates with a maturity that even 2012’s Calmer than You Are (review here) or their 2013 split with likeminded countrymen Sungrazer (review here) couldn’t claim, their songwriting process proving more cohesive as they explore the roots of stoner and desert riffing on songs like “Dry End” or “Gamma” and keeping the instrumental chemistry that even their early work — 2007’s debut, Shadow of the Machine, 2009’s Solar Corona (on Nasoni) or their first for Elektrohasch, 2011’s 80-minute jamfest Drie (review here) — housed, the lead guitar work of David Eering (also vocals and recording) as much of a calling card as the band has amid the fleshed out roll and bounce provided by bassist Hans van Heemst — whose tone has always been The Machine‘s secret weapon and is most of all on Offblast! — and drummer Davy Boogaard, who shows himself again malleable to whatever the changes in the six included tracks might require of him, be it the quick stops early in “Off Course” or the jazzy ride work in the spacious midsection of “Chrysalis (J.A.M.),” the sprawling, 16:25 opener that acts as the record’s immersive and in some ways defining statement.

With six tracks, it would just about have to be the longest of the bunch, and it is (immediate points to them for starting with their longest cut), living up to its spelled-out parenthetical with a breadth to match its runtime, shifting between its raucous first half and more swinging second fluidly, launching its later movement with a quiet break with some choice, naturally-toned wah from Eering. His affinity for Hendrix shows itself early and often on Offblast! as it has throughout The Machine‘s five LPs, but the influence seems more like an afterthought to the band’s identity here than it ever has. By the time “Chrysalis (J.A.M.)” is over, one feels as though they’ve listened to an entire album, and in a way, it’s true, but that’s only the beginning of the tale, and before the Rotterdam natives bookend their latest with the similarly-directed but noisier-finishing 12-minute closer “Come to Light” (the name of the song submitted by yours truly), they dance with sandy demons on “Dry End,” “Coda Sun,” “Gamma” and “Off Course,” which don’t add up to the two extended pieces time-wise, but still provide some of Offblast!‘s most lasting impressions in their hooks, fuzzy drive, and flourishes like sitar in “Dry End” and Boogaard‘s snare work in “Coda Sun” — not to mention vocals, which neither the opener nor the closer has. It’s not so outlandish a scope for a band to have, with two bigger jams and more straightforward material to complement each other, but it’s much to The Machine‘s credit in how they’ve structured the album that it not only flows front-to-back, but is so hypnotic at the start and still so memorable by the end. If you’re looking for evidence of the band’s maturity, it’s right there.


“Dry End” (3:06) and the winding “Coda Sun” (5:34), Eering‘s vocals compressed and watery for use as another element in the psychedelic overtones, are met by “Gamma” and “Off Course,” both over six minutes, and while one comes to feel by the end of the latter that The Machine are setting the listener up for a return to heady reaches in “Come to Light” — and they are, make no mistake — both retain a distinctive feel. “Gamma” is marked out by van Heemst‘s bassline, which emerges in the second half of the song and seems to pay direct homage to Queens of the Stone Age‘s “You Can’t Quit Me Baby” from their 1998 self-titled. That album makes a solid comparison point for the tonal impression of Offblast! overall, as it happens, so the feel is purposeful and The Machine take the familiar line and work in layers of guitar building in volume en route back to a last measure of the chorus. While it has a longer solo from Eering, “Off Course” follows a similar structure, but its vibe carries some of the punkish undertone the band held aloft on their 2013 split thanks to the sharp starts and stops and an added layer in the chorus either of piano or keys (or something that sounds like them) deep in the mix, giving further urgency to the already forward progression. And when they get there, “Come to Light” is a more gradual unfolding than was “Chrysalis (J.A.M.),” but the end result carries no less vitality, the dynamic between Eeringvan Heemst and Boogaard writ large over its organic and laid back but still engaging course. Perhaps most satisfying of all is that while it works on varying levels between its songcraft and its jams, Offblast! comes across with no lack of cohesion or choppy shifts. As “Come to Light” inevitably descends to effects noise and feedback to end the album, it seems to do little more than highlight the level of execution that The Machine have brought to their fifth outing and the satisfying path down which their development has led them and those who’ve been fortunate enough to follow along the way. If you’ll pardon the cliché, it was worth the wait.

The Machine, “Coda Sun” official video

The Machine on Thee Facebooks

The Machine’s BigCartel store

Elektrohasch Schallplatten

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audiObelisk Transmission 048

Posted in Podcasts on May 26th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

Click Here to Download


Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!

The second hour starts a little early this time around, and what I mean by that is when you’re like five minutes into hour two and trying to figure out on the tracklisting below what improv-sounding brilliant cut you’re hearing, pay careful attention to when hour one ended. Just 11 seconds from the start of the second half of the podcast. So yeah, that 18-minute wonder gets filed under hour one instead, but it comes with a wink and a nod. I just couldn’t bring myself to file something under hour two without a one at the front of the time stamp, which shows you how sad and compulsive I am because I’ve only been time-stamping these podcasts for two months now. What a dork.

It’s good stuff this. Always is, I suppose, but starting out with Goatsnake into The Machine and then on from there, it builds a flow that makes some sense one into the next in a way that, listening back to it after I put it together, was especially satisfying. Hopefully you agree as you make your way though.

As always, hope you enjoy:

First Hour:
0:00:00 Goatsnake, “Grandpa Jones” from Black Age Blues
0:04:36 The Machine, “Coda Sun” from Offblast!
0:09:55 Galley Beggar, “Pay My Body Home” from Silence and Tears
0:18:51 Steve Von Till, “Night of the Moon” from A Life Unto Itself
0:25:48 Venomous Maximus, “Through the Black” from Firewalker
0:29:42 Black Pyramid, “Open the Gates” from Dead Star 7”
0:34:59 Ape Skull, “A is for Ape” from Fly Camel Fly
0:39:54 Sunder, “Deadly Flower” from Demo
0:43:53 Eternal Fuzz, “Sea Change” from Nostalgia
0:47:37 Geezer, “Long Dull Knife” from Long Dull Knife
0:53:31 Fogg, “Joy of Home” from High Testament
0:59:49 Shiggajon, “Sela” from Sela

Second Hour:
1:18:07 Blown Out, “Thousand Years in the Sunshine” from Planetary Engineering
1:34:01 Les Lekin, “Loom” from All Black Rainbow Moon
1:47:14 Undersmile, “Knucklesucker” from Anhedonia

Total running time: 1:59:00


Thank you for listening.

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The Machine Post New Video for “Coda Sun”; Offblast! out June 1

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 19th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

the machine

Two weeks after the initial announcement of their awaited fifth album’s Summer release date, Dutch heavy rock trio The Machine unveil a new video from Offblast!, for the song “Coda Sun.” Directed by guitarist/vocalist David Eering, it’s a trippy performance clip captured at Elektra in Sliedrecht and is the premiere audio to be made public from the upcoming full-length, which will be out on Elektrohasch and finds the three-piece of Eering, bassist Hans van Heemst and drummer Davy Boogaard grooving easily around a fuzzed-out central riff, watery vocals trailing the turns as a jammy vibe pervades following an initial verse/chorus split, an extended guitar solo taking hold and carrying the track through the better part of its second half before a quick return to the verse provides a neat bookend reminding of the songwriting still at work no matter how far out The Machine are willing to let their wanderings roam.

I’ll have a review of the album at some point soon, but “Coda Sun” is a welcome first look from The Machine, whose evolution beyond 2012’s Calmer than You Are (review here) stands them out from the heavy psychedelic pack in terms of their chemistry and the fluidity of their jams. I don’t at all mind telling you I’ve been looking forward to the album for some time, and between its lengthy jams at the front and back and the flowing earliest Queens of the Stone Age vibes that persist between, it’s one that’s been well worth looking forward to. So, with the June 1 release date solidified and the promise of more to come, please find the video for “Coda Sun” below, and enjoy:

The Machine, “Coda Sun” official video

There were some technical difficulties during the mixing stage (a.k.a. the phasing phase), a number of various things had to be sorted out, band members were having babies, etc. In other words: it took a while but it’s finished. Needless to say, we’re very proud to present you the final details of Offblast!.

Although we had a lot of positive reactions after posting the April Fools version of the artwork, we still decided to proceed with Jakob Skøtt’s beautiful piece. Wait until you see the fold out vinyl cover. Speaking of vinyl: due to a popular demand for wax discs, the production time for the LP will take a couple of months. But hey, it will be summer by then so we’ll take it easy.

The Machine – Offblast!
Elektrohasch Records
CD – June 1, 2015
LP – August XX, 2015

01 – Chrysalis (J.A.M.) [16:25]
02 – Dry End [03:05]
03 – Coda Sun [05:34]
04 – Gamma [06:48]
05 – Off Course [06:36]
06 – Come To Light [12:11]

Recorded and produced again by David, we’re super happy with the final result. It is by far our best sounding album to date. And we’re most certainly not done yet.

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Cherry Choke, Raising the Waters: Hypnotized with Flesh and Bone

Posted in Reviews on May 11th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

cherry choke raising the waters

It’s been a fascinating journey Mat Bethancourt has undertaken for the last half-decade or so. Since putting underrated fuzz rock trio Josiah to rest in 2009 with Procession (review here), a collection of unreleased and live tracks, the Leicester-based guitarist/vocalist has spent time in Dexter Jones’ Circus Orchestra, been in and out of The Kings of Frog Island and founded and released two, now three, albums with Cherry Choke, all operating under different parameters within the umbrella of heavy rock and psychedelia. With The Kings of Frog Island, Bethancourt explored a fuzzed-out expanse on the first two records and then stripped down the methods for his final album with them, 2010’s III (review here), his songwriting not comprising the whole core of their sound — as subsequent Kings outings would prove — but having a significant impact on it all the same. That more garage rock style would seem to be foundation on which Cherry Choke was based. On Elektrohasch, the trio released their self-titled debut (review here) in 2009 and followed it relatively quickly with A Night in the Arms of Venus (review here) in 2011, the second album expanding on the ideas of the first but keeping the elemental feel intact. Four years later, Cherry Choke offer Raising the Waters, their third full-length on Elektrohasch, recorded and mixed analog with label head and Colour Haze guitarist/vocalist Stefan Koglek at his Colour Haze Studio (Koglek also adds some vocals and 12-string acoustic), which brings together Bethancourt and drummer Daniel Lockton with bassist/vocalist Simon Beasley, formerly of — wait for it — Josiah.

So yes, more than half a decade and numerous twists and turns of sound and cohort later, Cherry Choke brings together a two-thirds reunion of Josiah on their third album, but they’re doing precious little across the 10-track/50-minute outing to recapture former glories, and instead, Cherry Choke‘s Raising the Waters pursues a blend of classic, laid-back heavy rock songwriting and psychedelic exploration, beginning with the seven-minute “Rage On,” which presents with its first lines one of the record’s landmark and defining hooks, “You move like Lucifer on the floor/Hypnotize me with your flesh and bone,” around which the three-piece builds a psychedelic roll that proves immediately immersive, Bethancourt‘s well-established penchant for layering wah leads and nodding rhythm tracks met by Lockton‘s swinging groove and Beasley‘s warm-toned low-end. The opener is a fitting summary of what the album as a whole has to offer, and there’s no shortage of vibe throughout the rest of side A, but as the hooks of the speedier, Monster Magnet-esque “Mindbreaker,” the preaching “Black Aniss” and the jamming-but-still-chorus-driven “Used to Call You Friend” play out, it’s easy to lose touch with the more psychedelic aspects presented in “Rage On,” perhaps even more so since the aforementioned “You move like Lucifer…” line is given a reprise on “Hypnotize Me,” but the second half of the tracklist brings this further into focus, making Raising the Waters not just a step forward in the aesthetic presented on the first two Cherry Choke outings, but a grander leap into a pool of tone that more than lives up to the goal a title like “Hypnotize Me” sets forth. With guest sitar from Mario Oberpuncher — who also mastered with Koglek — and Hammond M3 and Fender Rhodes by Martin Bischof, the back end of Raising the Waters fulfills in short order the atmospheres that “Rage On” seems to promise, still in league with the memorable songwriting of “Mindbreaker” and “Black Aniss,” but pushing throughout the rolling “6ix and 7even,” the grounded “My Mind to Lose” and acoustic-led “Discarded Hearts” into a bliss of their own making.

cherry choke

That’s not to say the earlier tracks aren’t likewise tripped out or that Raising the Waters plays out like two records in one. There’s a flow between the album’s two halves and the creativity across both is open to be sure, it’s just a question of structure, and what turns out to be side B on the vinyl is clearly intended to expand on the ideas of side A, bringing about a bold, unexpected sonic foray into Euro-style heavy psych that, by the time “Discarded Hearts” is over, has offered as much emotional as aural breadth. “Where the Sun Rises” is an instrumental highlight as deep and lush in sound as one might ask, and “6ix and 7even” picks up that psychedelic thread and adds — Hammond! — yes, the Hammond, but also the fervent rhythmic push of “Mindbreaker” and “Rage On”‘s clever structuring, and while “My Mind to Lose” has a back-to-earth-again effect for the clarity of its chorus, it still spreads wide across a back-half lead section that recalls the best of Bethancourt‘s work with The Kings of Frog Island. A tone wash emerges to carry “Discarded Hearts” into a moment of silence, from which “Where the Sun Sets” picks up as the album’s closer and, entirely backwards, provides a mirror to “Where the Sun Rises” in much the same way “Hypnotize Me” answered back “Rage On” on side A. It’s a dreamy, droning kind of finish a long way from the already-stuck-in-your-head “Rage On,” but fitting somehow for the progression that Cherry Choke have undertaken across Raising the Waters, as BethancourtBeasley and Lockton take the band to ground new and familiar and forge a character sound-wise that’s neither one thing nor the other, but encompassing with songwriting that remains graceful in the expanse. It’s a delicate balance to strike, but Cherry Choke make it seem easy and manage to stay afloat no matter how high the waters rise.

Cherry Choke, Raising the Waters (2015)

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Cherry Choke on Bandcamp

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