Pictured above with the badass package in which it and the new Backdoor Jane/Wooden Nickels 7″ (listen/see here) arrived, the Live at Relaylimited 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 drummerBrandon 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 Relaytape 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 Relayavailable 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
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:
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 theSun, 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 Crowand 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.
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:
Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!
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.
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.