EYE, Second Sight: Into Beyond

Posted in Reviews on December 10th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Birthed in a not-at-all cosmic reality known as Columbus, Ohio, the four-piece space rock outfit EYE nonetheless execute their sound with classical majesty on their sophomore full-length, Second Sight. Their first outing, 2011′s Center of the Sun (discussed here and here), was gorgeous enough to get the attention of Kemado Records, who issued it on vinyl in 2012, and the still-quick follow-up comes preceded by a 7″ single (discussed here) and a live tape (review here). Clearly, EYE – who also self-recorded the new long-player — aren’t ones for sitting still, and that sense of movement extends to the music on Second Sight as well, beginning in the gong hits and synth waves that patiently establish the psychedelic course of 21-minute opener “Lost are the Years.” Here EYE begin to unfold not just the first side, but the LP as a whole, and though it’s only been about a year and a half since Center of the Sun was released, the sense is that something ancient has awakened. There is a near-immediate sense of texture to “Lost are the Years,” also the longest track on the 45-minute outing (bonus points), and that comes in large part from the wash of Moog and analog synth effects created by Adam Smith. Guitarist/vocalist Matt Auxier has no shortage of effects on his guitar either, and even drummer Brandon Smith gets in on the ambience with chimes, congas, the aforementioned gong and other percussion in addition to regular old rock drums, so while bassist Matt Bailey would seem to be the one charged with holding the five tracks of Second Sight together, actually it works out more that the four-piece never really lose control. As spaced-out as they go — and they go plenty spaced out — the record keeps a mood that’s calm-ing if not calm-ed, and when they want to, EYE drift with futuristic efficiency into atmospherics that even the first record only seemed to hint at, a song like “Wooden Nickels” retaining some human element through harmonized vocals from Auxier and both Smiths.

Vocals are never really the complete focal point (Amy Michelle Hoffman and Anthony Jacobs contribute as well), but they’re gorgeous anyway and make the band that much richer and more lush-sounding. It is nearly five minutes of build-up before they arrive over bass and acoustic guitar on “Lost are the Years,” signaling the start of the song’s peaceful second movement. Tension is minimal, melody is rampant, and EYE are immediately the masters of the universe they’re exploring. Auxier takes a bluesy, echoing solo over acoustic strum and Bailey‘s bassline, and Adam keeps the texture varied while Brandon seems to rest until about the seven-minute mark a fill leads to the next progression, a more upbeat, distorted and somewhat foreboding swirl. The vocals are deeper in the mix, part of that swirl, not above it, and the swaying riff that backs the subsequent guitar solo calls to mind some of Hypnos 69‘s more recent progressive triumphs. The course of “Lost are the Years” is winding as the third movement builds to a crashing finish and the acoustic strum of the second movement returns, backed by subtle percussion and bathed in mellotron sunshine. It is even more graceful in its Floydian sprawl than when it first appeared, and it shifts fluidly into more exploratory acoustic guitars, a thunder sample signaling the change impending before a full stop brings back the heavier swirl, all channels full and vibrant as they transition into a shuffle led by Brandon‘s drums and soon joined by Adam‘s keys, rising, cresting and receding. They’ve departed the back and forth of one part to another that they’d previously established in favor of an extended jam, the guitars, bass, drums and keys all serving to further the atmosphere, layers of lead and rhythm guitars coming forward for a King Crimson-style push after 16 minutes in even as Auxier is in mid-rip on another solo. A series of hits ensues and backed by a jazzy snare roll, the guitars lead down a psych rock rabbit hole, ending up in a winding line that brings a return of vocals and precedes the key-driven push into the final payoff. It would need to be sizable to answer for all the twists and turns of “Lost are the Years” so far, and it is, but not necessarily any more grandiose than is warranted. Guitar is still are the fore, trading off lead lines and heavy riffing, and they cap with a return to the hits that led the way into the last movement, ending a song that, if you try to consciously keep pace with each of its changes, you’re going to wind up exhausted in the best way possible.

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audiObelisk Transmission 032

Posted in Podcasts on November 27th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Click Here to Download

 

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If you’re in the States and celebrating Thanksgiving this week, I thought maybe a new podcast would be good to have along for the travel. Maybe you take it with you on the road, or maybe put some headphones on in one of those need-to-get-away moments that invariably crop up over the holidays. I always get very stressed out at this time of year. I’d be lying if putting this together wasn’t a bit of therapy for my own anxiousness, but I also thought that if someone else was in the same boat, they might also appreciate it. Or maybe not and you just want to rock without using it as an escape for deep-rooted psychological issues. That’s cool too.

This one has a lot of good stuff that I’ve come across lately, from the opening Foghound track on through the Clamfight single that was featured here a couple weeks back, and on to the B-side of the single that Ice Dragon released just this weekend, finally rounding out with the closing track from Uzala‘s new album, Tales of Blood and Fire, “Tenement of the Lost,” which was so captivating when I saw them in Providence last month. It’s a wide variety, but it flows well from song to song and I think it’s a good time.

Hopefully you agree. I’m especially happy with how well the last three songs, which make up the bulk of the second hour, came together. My hope is you’ll be too hypnotized by one song to realize when it’s gone into the next. Whether or not that happens, please enjoy.

First Hour:
Foghound, “Dragon Tooth” from Quick, Dirty and High (2013)
Lizzard Wizzard, “Total Handjob Future” from Lizzard Wizzard (2013)
Summoner, “Into the Abyss” from Atlantian (2013)
Groan, “Slice of that Vibe” from Ride the Snake EP (2013)
The Vintage Caravan, “Let Me Be” from Voyage (2013)
Run After To, “Melancholy from Run After To/Gjinn and Djinn (2013 Reissue)
Clamfight, “Bathosphere” from single release (2013)
No Gods No Masters, “Lie to Me” from No Gods No Masters EP (2013)
Horseskull, “Arahari” from 2013 Promo
Gudars Skymning, “Gåtor I Mörkret” from Höj Era Glas (2013)
Ice Dragon, “Queen of the Black Harvest” from Steel Veins b/w Queen of the Black Harvest (2013)
T.G. Olson, “Return from the Brink” from The Bad Lands to Cross (2013)

Second Hour:
EYE, “Lost are the Years” from Second Sight (2013)
Øresund Space Collective, “Black Sabbath Forever in Space” from Live at Loppen 2013.11.19
Selim Lemouchi and His Enemies, “The Ghost of Valentine” from Earth Air Spirit Water Fire (2013)
Uzala, “Tenement of the Lost” from Tales of Blood and Fire (2013)

Total running time: 1:59:03

Thank you for listening.

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Duuude, Tapes!: EYE, Live at Relay

Posted in Duuude, Tapes! on March 7th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Pictured above with the badass package in which it and the new Backdoor Jane/Wooden Nickels 7″ (listen/see here) arrived, the Live at Relay limited cassette from Ohio space rocking progressives EYE is a wonder of antiquated technology. Not so much the tape itself, but the cosmic expanse that the Columbus four-piece managed to fit thereupon, awash in Moog, synth, Hammond and even a bit of mellotron on side two. The band filmed a session for DonewaitingTV last June, comprised of three jams — “Usurpers” and “Restorers,” both of which appeared on EYE‘s Center of the Sun (review here, track stream here), along with the 19:36 dronedelica soundscape “Dream,” aptly-titled for its otherworldly vibing.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but if you like your Hawks windy and your Floyds a little less than red, more on the Pink side, then EYE is a band to whom you should commence grooving forthwith. Presented in the only-100-copies tape version, the rich bass of Matt Bailey comes through stellar on “Usurpers,” holding down a thick, natural groove while drummer Brandon Smith, Moog/synth/organist Adam Smith and guitarist Matt Auxier combine vocals to add to the progged-out trippery, and while one might think an aesthetic as lush as theirs would suffer on what’s widely regarded as a limited format, the effect the tape has is just making the material sound even more classic than it otherwise might.

Particularly considering this material was captured live — hence Live at Relay – the balance between the patient aspects of EYE‘s sound and their the-space-shuttle-has-just-taken-off-and-you’re-riding-shotgun rush is striking, and with continuous play on, it’s even easier to get lost from one side to the next. Both sides are also almost exactly the same length, right around 19:30, so that helps as well in that there isn’t much delay between them. All told, for about 39 minutes of live EYE, the Live at Relay tape has about everything a would-be sonic cosmonaut could ask of it. Even on “Dream,” when the ground is so far gone you can’t even see the people standing there, the band keeps a sense of someone standing behind the controls, which — as you probably guessed — are set for the heart of the sun.

The aforementioned 7″ is sold out already, but there are still copies of Live at Relay available for a whopping seven dollars at EYE‘s Bigcartel store, and consider it an advisable purchase. If you need further convincing, the video of “Usurpers/Restorers” culled from the same session is the way to go:

EYE, “Usurpers/Restorers” Live at Relay Recording Studio

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EYE Post “Wooden Nickels” and “Backdoor Jane” from New 7″ Single

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 18th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Columbus, Ohio-based space rockers EYE continue to impress with their latest 7″ single. The two-track outing, featuring the songs “Wooden Nickels” and “Backdoor Jane,” has arrived via Lost Weekend Records and is more diverse in six-plus minutes than most full-length albums. “Wooden Nickels” centers around a lush psychedelic vocal melody backed by sweet synth and gracefully introduced mellotron, while “Backdoor Jane” — true to its title — is a classically rocking jam through and through. Completely instrumental, it works in direct opposition to “Wooden Nickels,” which is so much about the vocal harmonies.

EYE reportedly have a live cassette on the way this month too. If the gig I saw in Philly was anything to go by, their stage show should translate pretty well. Stay tuned for more on that and dig these in the meantime:

EYE, “Wooden Nickels”

EYE, “Backdoor Jane”

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Live Review: Serpent Throne, EYE and Randall of Nazareth in Philly, 12.14.12

Posted in Reviews on December 17th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

My intent was to catch Columbus, Ohio, psych rockers EYE when they hit Brooklyn the night before, but a yes-that-late workday prevented me from making it to the show in time. As such, there was a tinge of stubbornness that came with the decision to head down to Philly on Friday night and see EYE at Johnny Brenda‘s on a bill that also included opener Randall of Nazareth and local heroes Serpent Throne as headliners. Even if I wasn’t doing it partly out of frustration, that’s a pretty killer lineup and I figured that if I’m going to refuse to miss EYE rolling through, that’s the show to refuse to miss.

Everything was fine until, just as I was getting on I-95 and approaching downtown Philly, the Google Maps app on my phone shit the bed. I wound up finding Frankford Ave., but going the wrong way down it — after going the right way and then turning around to be wrong; a very me way of getting lost — and having no idea what the hell I was doing. I called The Patient Mrs. and wound up calling out street names as I passed by them until she could figure out where I was and get me turned back around the right way. Which was the way I’d gone initially. Ugh.

Even with getting all turned around, it was early when I got to Johnny Brenda’s. Early enough so that the upstairs room above the bar/restaurant that serves as the venue proper wasn’t open yet. The woman at the door looked at me, asked me if I was in a band, and when I said no, sent me on my way. I wasn’t drinking, had nowhere to be, so I sat down at a table, took out a notebook and ordered a caesar salad to help pass the time. It arrived some moments later a whole wedge of iceberg lettuce resting on a generous dollop of dressing, topped with a grilled breast of chicken — all the ingredients of a caesar salad waiting to be chopped up and turned into one. I was happy to kill another two or three minutes obliging my dinner its construction.

These are the hazards of going to shows alone, I thought to myself as I made my way up to the balcony to do some more writing. Downstairs the DJ was just beginning to spin heavy ’70s rock — familiarities from Blue Cheer and early Pentagram met with modern derivatives from Graveyard and Kadavar — and there were still about 40 minutes to pass before Randall of Nazareth took the stage. They went slow. I wrote, screwed around on the internet, loaded this site to make sure the radio stream was still up, then did it again, looked over to the bar, waited. Waited. Finally, tired of being in that spot at that table on the balcony, I went downstairs and waited there, stood in the back for a while went through the same routine all over.

It’s not that the show was late, I was just early. Randall of Nazareth – AKA guitarist/vocalist Randall Huth of underrated PA pastoralists Pearls and Brass — went on at about 9:20PM, maybe a couple minutes after, but that was hardly off the scheduled start time, I’m just awkward. Huth put out an album under the Randall of Nazareth moniker on Drag City in 2007, and though I was always curious as to what it might sound like, it eluded me. I’d hoped for a copy at the merch table, or better, something newer, an independently released CDR or something like that, but no dice.

Still, Huth brought to his acoustic solo set much the same sense of town fair twang he brings to the sepia blues-worship of Pearls and Brass — it was mostly the context was different. He had two acoustics with him and his vocals were suited to the material, soft and sometimes barely there and never really hitting more than a bluesman’s garble. Perhaps an affectation, but one well used, in any case, and his presence on stage matched. Cutting a humble figure in the spotlight while EYE‘s not-inconsiderable Moog setup loomed in the darkness just a few feet adjacent, Huth played his songs banjo-fast — adding impressive neo-folk fingerpicked noodling to his semi-countrified moodiness on the acoustic guitar — but gave off no perceptible sense of anxiousness. As he turned after his first or second song, he listened to the strings and said, “This is gonna be terrible.” It wasn’t.

As will happen to the acoustic opener at the rock show, a swell of conversational volume gradually took hold the longer he played. In addition to his other songs, he did two instrumentals, one which closed the set, and one cover, and then was gone as quick as he’d gotten started once he took the stage. EYE arrived shortly thereafter and started into their first song I think before anyone actually realized they were beginning with a jam that sort of gradually took shape as a classic progressive space rocking thrust, very much indebted to Hawkwind but more visceral necessarily than their 2011 full-length, Center of the Sun (review here) — re-released by Kemado earlier this year — might have you believe. The Moog, handled by Adam Smith, played a major role in the band’s sound, and Smith added his vocals to those of drummer Brandon Smith – it was reportedly his birthday — and guitarist Matt Auxier for three-part post-lysergic ritual paeans to the cosmos. They were an easy band to dig.

Almost immediately, I was glad to have made the trip. Bassist Matt Bailey locked into the groove with Brandon, which allowed Matt to explore a solar system of effects while Adam tore into a raging solo or two of his own. Parts of songs I recognized from Center of the Sun, but some of the material seemed to be new as well, or at least more loosely constructed for a live setting, the band using the space afforded them by the Moog to wander where and when they willed. Their repetitions proved almost hypnotic, but were very definitely headed in that direction, and if 2013 is to bring new recordings from EYE, they’ll be welcome by me. They had space rock down, and the crowd that had been growing at a steady clip since the show started only agreed more as time went on.

When it was Serpent Throne‘s time to take the stage, I realized just how much of the room was their audience. They conquered Johnny Brenda’s before playing a single note as only the best of local noteworthies can, inspiring a particular devotion for their instrumental sonic niche somewhere ’70s motor groove, doomly stomp, classic dual guitar metal and devil-loving stoner rock. The brotherly duo of guitarist Demian Fenton and drummer Sean-Paul Fenton dominated the room, but neither bassist Colin Smith or by-no-means-second guitarist Don Argott gave any ground of their own real estate — and it was theirs but the time they actually started playing. The place lit up for “Rock Formation” from 2009′s The Battle of Old Crow and continued the enthusiasm for cuts like “Controlled by Lunar Forces” or the title-track from 2010′s White Summer – Black Winter, which Demian preceded with a warning that, “it was a long one.”

He had a mic, despite the band’s being instrumental-only, and the between-song banter showed his familiarity with the room and the people in it. New cut “Foxtrot” from a forthcoming release reportedly titled Brother Lucifer was advanced with a dedication to “any Vietnam vets in the room,” which drew a couple laughs, and afterwards the guitarist apologized to Vietnam vets everywhere before Serpent Throne launched into “Wheels of Satan” from their 2007 debut, Ride Satan Ride, the classic biker riffing of which earned the night’s most vehement response. By then, I was sitting at the bar — again, not drinking — but watching from there I could find no argument against what they had on offer nor with “yes” vote the rifferendum gleaned. Johnny Brenda’s had packed out pretty well and when Serpent Throne were done, the staff of the place came through and said they were towing cars outside, which may or may not have been a load, but having already gotten lost once, I wasn’t about to risk having to look for a city tow yard. I cut out on the quick like I do.

Still without GPS, the ride back was pulled off successfully by memory, and the act of mental engagement was enough to keep me awake, as if the day’s news reports weren’t enough. Nothing makes your shit feel trivial faster than dead kids, and rightly so. I was glad for the opportunity to get out of my head for a little while, and I don’t think I was the only one.

Extra pics after the jump. Thanks for reading.

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audiObelisk: EYE Premiere Closing Track From Center of the Sun

Posted in audiObelisk on March 8th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

Columbus, Ohio, heavy psych four-piece EYE will make their debut on Kemado with the LP/download Center of the Sun on April 3. The band, who were previously On the Radar-ized at the recommendation of Jesse Bartz of Lo-Pan, boasts former and current members of The Pretty Weapons, Deadsea and Teeth of the Hydra, but functions on a different wavelength than any of those bands, melding mellotron-era King Crimson with space-bound Pink Floyd cosmic exploration and beefing up warm, live-sounding tones with the occasional freakout or weighted jam. Listening to the four-song full-length, one doesn’t get the sense that EYE feel like they need to be heavy at any given moment, but neither do they shy away from it.

That only makes Center of the Sun feel more spontaneous, adding to one of the record’s great strengths. Another that works in similar regard is the sense of movement, and for that, I’m glad to be able to host the premiere stream of album closer “Rik Rite,” which brings forth some of EYE‘s best linear work. Jazzy snare fills underscore a space rock build that pays off twice, first fast, then slow, never losing its sense of melody or control. It’s a more than satisfying conclusion to Center of the Sun, with lyrical talk of interstellar harmonies and cosmic winds sounding not at all out of place amid just a touch of Om-esque ritual. It’s a gorgeous track from a gorgeous record and I hope you enjoy it on the player below:

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EYE‘s Center of the Sun was recorded and mixed at Columbus Discount Recording and Backroads Recording in Columbus, OH, and features cover art by Anthony Yankovic. The album is due out April 3 through Kemado Records. More info is available through the band’s Thee Facebooks page or the label’s website.

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On the Radar: Eye

Posted in On the Radar on November 7th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster

The recommendation to check out heavy space rock trio Eye came from Lo-Pan‘s Jesse Bartz, and man, was he right. On their self-released Center of the Sun debut, Eye — nearly impossible to locate via Googular means — blend half-speed low-end Hawkwind with organ-era Clutch and are partial to the occasional excursion into minimal drone worship, harmonized vocal or military march — and seriously, that’s just on the 19-minute opening title-track, which has a scope that even that all-over-the-place description only touches the surface of. It’s exciting to know people are doing this kind of stuff.

Guitarist/vocalist Matt Auxier and drummer/vocalist Brandon Smith both come from the Columbus psych outfit The Pretty Weapons, and bassist Matt Bailey was a member of post-Mastodon crushers Teeth of the Hydra, who released their Greenland album on Tee Pee in 2006, so the combination was bound to result in something interesting. As Eye, the three-piece indulge in extended, blinding washes of thickened psychedelics. The songs feel born of jams but not unstructured, even as the languid plod of “Usurpers” gives way to the frantic guitar jabs of “Restorers,” there’s a cohesiveness and a plan at work behind the madness. They can and do go anywhere, and there’s an underlying intensity that keeps hold of the attention however far out Eye might be spiraling.

Plus: mellotron. Well utilized mellotron, at that. Where it shows up as contributed by Adam “Smitty” Smith (who also engineered the record), it gives Eye that feeling of being the life-changing obscure 1974 vinyl you pick up at a garage sale and soon quit your job to worship. Center of the Sun is blown out where it needs to be, but not afraid of being classy either, and the jazzy shuffle of “Restorers” in its latter half proves it, Auxier‘s killer wailing solo included. As closer “Rik Rite” moves from blues rock classicism to epic cosmic proclamations, the journey feels like coming through a wormhole. In an instant you’re somewhere else, you have no idea how you got there, and any sense of time you had has been evaporated.

Much thanks to Bartz for the recommendation. If you want to check out Eye — and you do — feel free to hit them up on Thee Facebooks. They’ve also got Center of the Sun for sale as a pay-what-you-want download on their Bandcamp, the proceeds from which they’re hoping to use to press a limited CD run. A band after my own heart. Here’s the album for streaming goodness:

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