Ruff Majik Closing 2018 with Cape Town Shows

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 8th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

ruff majik

When last heard from, South African trio Ruff Majik were getting ready to hit the studio in September to track a quick-turnaround sophomore album to answer their 2018 debut, Seasons (review here). They did shows throughout the country last month following up on two European tours earlier this year, and I’d have to imagine the new record is at least finished in terms of the actual recording process, if not mixed or yet mastered. Their eye was on an early 2019 release, so hopefully that actually comes together.

In the meantime, they’ll play four shows in Cape Town to close out the year, two of which are free. That in itself is pretty nifty, but kudos the band on getting four bookings in the same city on four consecutive nights. It’s not every group in every town who could make that happen, even with a variety of openers. Clearly there’s some respect there, so right on.

The PR wire brings the dates and the whatnot:

ruff majik tour

Ruff Majik Reveal Cape Town Tour Dates for December

Pretoria’s sludge n rollers Ruff Majik have announced a couple dates for Cape Town shows in December. They’ll be joined by Cape Town based hardcore heroes Peasant for two shows along with a host of the city’s finest heavy bands including MA-AT, Monstroid, Behest, Blood Ret, Pooch, The Man Motels and more.

Pieter Jordaan from Peasant comments on the tour “Cape Town is often starved of the doomy goodness that a band like Ruff Majik can provide, so we are very stoked to have them pull through for the long weekend! With Peasant joining on two dates, and some of the best garage, fuzz and hardcore the city has to offer, the tour will be the best way to start off the holiday season right!”

Ruff Majik guitarist and vocalist Johni Holiday does on to add “Cape Town is always such a magic experience. The crowds are always intensely invested in the music, and we get the best green when we visit! This time around, we’re really excited to be joined by the dudes of Peasant and some of the finest doom, garage and hardcore bands that CPT has to offer!”

THUR 13 DEC – Black Irish – 1 Scher Street, Durbanville R40 ENTRANCE
FRI 14 DEC – Prison – 28 Somerset Rd, Green Point, Cape Town FREE ENTRANCE
SAT 15 DEC – Scary Canary – 225 Long St, Cape Town City Centre R50 ENTRANCE
SUN 16 DEC – Surfarosa – 61a Harrington St, Zonnebloem FREE ENTRANCE

Ruff Majik:
Johni Holiday – Guitar, vocals
Jimi Glass – Bass guitar
Benni Manchino – Drums

https://www.ruffmajik.com/
https://www.facebook.com/ruffmajik
https://twitter.com/ruff_majik
https://www.instagram.com/ruffmajik/
https://forbiddenplacerecords.bandcamp.com/album/ruff-majik-seasons
http://shop.rockfreaks.de/en/home/92-ruff-majik-seasons-coming-soon-.html

Ruff Majik, Seasons (2018)

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Ruff Majik to Begin Recording New Album; Announce South Africa Shows

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 7th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

South African heavy psych trio Ruff Majik are set to enter the studio to record the follow-up to their 2018 debut album, Seasons (review here), for an early 2019 release. I won’t claim to have any insight on the band’s processes, but given the live sound of the last record and the series of EPs that preceded it, it doesn’t seem out of line to expect they’ll get their sophomore full-length to tape with all good speed. That’s all the better since at the end of the month they’ll take stage at the Krank’d Up festival in Johannesburg, as one of a select round of live dates they’ll do in their home country to correspond with the European tour they undertook this past Spring following Seasons‘ release. You’ll note in the announcement below for the shows it says they’ve never played in their hometown of Lydenburg. Even knowing nothing about urban populations and demographics in South Africa, that seems astonishing to me. Smaller town, I guess? Still fascinating.

Gotta figure they’ll be back in Europe supporting the new album whenever it arrives. Hopefully that happens sooner than later.

From the PR wire:

ruff majik

Pretoria’s Ruff Majik Divulge Details for their “Season of the Witch” tour.

Coming off the back of 2 very successful European tours, South Africa’s sludge n roll kings Ruff Majik have revealed dates and details for their Season of The Witch tour.

Kicking off on the 29th September with their mainstage appearance at this year’s chapter of the mighty Krank’d Up Music Festival, the tour will see them play in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban and for the very 1st time in their home town of Lydenburg.

“We’re extremely excited to be hitting the road for a few select dates with some good friends! Each show will be an entirely different experience with these line-ups, so we can’t wait!” – Johni Holiday, vocals / guitar

29 September // JHB // Krank’d Up Music Festival
12 October // PTA // The Grind Bar // with from Apocalypse Later, Wolkberg
13 October // JHB // Sundowners // with Them Dirty Shrikes, Caution Boy
20 October // DBN // Winston // with Pollinator, Mad God
26 October // LYD // Jam Jar Lounge // with Wolkberg, Them Dirty Shrikes

The band released their debut full length album Seasons on the 20th April 2018 which was well received by the local and international metal and rock media.

Seasons available now on all digital platforms including BandCamp Apple Music Spotify Deezer and on CD and cassette via Forbidden Place Records

The band will be in studio in September 2018 recording the follow up to Seasons with the aim of releasing early in 2019.

Ruff Majik:
Johni Holiday – Guitar, vocals
Jimi Glass – Bass guitar
Benni Manchino – Drums

https://www.ruffmajik.com/
https://www.facebook.com/ruffmajik
https://twitter.com/ruff_majik
https://www.instagram.com/ruffmajik/
https://forbiddenplacerecords.bandcamp.com/album/ruff-majik-seasons
http://shop.rockfreaks.de/en/home/92-ruff-majik-seasons-coming-soon-.html

Ruff Majik, Seasons (2018)

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Ruff Majik Announce Seasons Physical Releases

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 17th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

ruff majik

A conceptual work wherein each batch of three songs was actually written in a different season, the suitably titled Seasons was self-released by Pretorian trio Ruff Majik digitally on April 20. As the band is set to tour Europe this summer twice, making stops first at Freak Valley and then at SonicBlast Moledo, and, you know, as the album kicks ass, it’s not a huge surprise that it’s been picked up for physical release. And it’s all the more telling that rather than trickle out one format at a time over a period of years (or seasons, for that matter), Ruff Majik are taking care of it all in one shot. The limited 2LP will be out through the Freak Valley-associated Rock Freaks Records in a variety of editions, and the CD and tape versions will arrive through US imprint Forbidden Place.

Both labels have the album up for preorder now. Here’s the PR wire to tell you pretty much exactly what I just told you using different words:

ruff-majik-seasons

Ruff Majik Reveal Details to Release SEASONS on CD, Cassette and Vinyl

2018 is turning out to be an incredible year for South African Sludge n Rollers Ruff Majik. With two European tours booked that will see them playing Freak Valley Festival and SonicBlast as well as a host of club shows.

They also released their debut full-length album Seasons on the 20th April to widespread critical acclaim. The guys are happy to announce that they have signed deals with US label Forbidden Place Records to release and distribute Seasons on CD and cassette, while German label Rock Freaks Records will be releasing three versions of the double LP: classic black, coloured (still a secret) and die-hard (very limited).

Vocalist and guitarist Johni Holiday commented on the news “Ruff Majik is immensely excited to take the next step in furthering our career by bringing out physical copies. With the backing of Rock Freaks and Forbidden Place, we’re making a lifelong dream come true!”

Pre-order Seasons on CD or Cassette here and on Vinyl here.

Tracklisting:
1. Harpy 04:49
2. Gone down in the woods today 05:15
3. Breathing ghosts 04:20
4. Last of the witches 03:53
5. It flies at night 03:48
6. Hanami Sakura (and the ritual suicide) 04:26
7. The deep blue 08:04
8. Hammered are the gods 04:42
9. Birds stole my eyes 04:17
10. Tar black blood 03:15
11. Come all ye druids 05:04
12. Asleep in the leaves 14:10

Ruff Majik:
Johni Holiday – Guitar, vocals
Jimi Glass – Bass guitar
Benni Manchino – Drums

https://www.ruffmajik.com/
https://www.facebook.com/ruffmajik
https://twitter.com/ruff_majik
https://www.instagram.com/ruffmajik/
https://forbiddenplacerecords.bandcamp.com/album/ruff-majik-seasons
http://shop.rockfreaks.de/en/home/92-ruff-majik-seasons-coming-soon-.html

Ruff Majik, Seasons (2018)

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Stahv Premiere “Jardín Infinito”; Self-Titled Debut out in January

Posted in audiObelisk on December 1st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

stahv

Seattle’s Stahv has set a January release date for its self-titled but on cassette through Solid 7 Records, with an LP edition to follow later in the year. The moody and progressive heavy ambient outfit is comprised of Solomon Arye Rosenschein, and the album basks in an insular feeling driven alternately by post-JK Broadrick electronic beatmaking on a cut like “Djinn Rumi” and swells of atmospheric, buzzing distortion and minimalist dronescapes on the penultimate “Preta Realm.” All told, it’s seven tracks in a manageable 32 minutes of solo studio experimentalism writ large. Each piece feels somewhat self-contained in its purpose — to wit, “The Test” indeed sounds like Rosenschein is trying something new out — but the whole of Stahv‘s Stahv ties together through its arrangements of guitar, bass, keys, drums and programming, as well as the evocative places its instrumental progressions lead toward.

Centerpiece “Forest Dweller” draws on Isis-style contemplation, while the subsequent “Benevolus” finds a niche between guitar solo flourish, strummed noisemaking, stahv self titledretro keyboard work and synth beats. Where Stahv most succeeds as an album, however, is in bringing these varied pieces together. Rosenschein has more to do in this regard in terms of transitioning from one track to the next, but even as it stands on this first offering, Stahv sets a tone early with opener “Jardín Infinito” that leaves the contextual foundation for everything that follows wide open. Which is to say, it’s not like one goes from the organ-topped rollout and near-Earth dronemaking of “Jardín Infinito” into “The Test” with an expectation of more of the same.

Rather, by attuning himself to the fine details of the sounds he’s composing and how each element and layer affects the whole, Rosenschein allows his scope to grow broader as each track plays out. And it just so happens to do exactly that, right through the somewhat kitchen-sink freakout of closer “Grüver,” which holds together various noises electric and electronic over a core acoustic progression. It’s a strangely fitting (and just generally strange) way to end Stahv‘s Stahv, but again, context is everything, and as far out as Rosenschein has already gone at that point, he leaves himself little reason not to push that much further.

One hopes he’ll continue to do so as Stahv undertakes its sonic development from this point on. In the meantime, I’m happy today to host the premiere of “Jardín Infinito” ahead of the album’s release next month. You’ll find it on the player below, followed by a few words from Rosenschein about its making and some more PR wire background concerning the record.

Please enjoy:

Solomon Arye Rosenschein on “Jardín Infinito”:

“‘Jardín Infinito’ is the sound of time spent in the gloaming, losing the way and finding the way and losing it again. It’s two and a half decades of ears pressed against speakers—the infernal fears of a teenage wastrel talking on the phone to Anton Newcombe about jumping off mountains. It’s placing half steps against whole steps and seeing what shakes out.

STAHV is Solomon Arye Rosenschein, one human creating instrumental post-metal incorporating shoegaze, funeral doom, psychedelia, and esoterica. The name means autumn in Hebrew and winter in both Arabic and Aramaic. For twenty years Rosenschein has released records under a variety of monikers. He lives in Seattle, where he writes fiction and creative nonfiction and is half of spectral-folk duo The Royal Oui.

STAHV’s debut will be available as a limited edition cassette with unique packaging through Solid 7 Records in January 2018 and on vinyl through Forbidden Place later in year.

Stahv on Thee Facebooks

Stahv on Soundcloud

Solid 7 Records on Bandcamp

Forbidden Place Records website

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Quarterly Review: Hallatar, Alastor, The Dead-End Alley Band, Hair of the Dog, Soup, Kungens Män, Smoke Wizzzard, Highburnator, The Curf, Ulls

Posted in Reviews on September 29th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk quarterly review

Here we are, gathered for round four of the Fall 2017 Quarterly Review. After the technical issues with the site for the last couple days, I’m glad to have everything back up and running, and one more time I thank Slevin and Behrang Alavi for making that happen. Though I have no idea what it might actually entail, I don’t imagine switching hosts on the fly for a site with as much content as this one has is easy, but they of course killed it and it is thoroughly appreciated. We move forward, as ever, with 10 more records. So let’s go.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Hallatar, No Stars Upon the Bridge

hallatar-no-stars-upon-the-bridge

Finland’s Hallatar was formed after the passing of Trees of Eternity vocalist Aleah Starbridge, life partner of guitarist and songwriter Juha Ravio (also Swallow the Sun). In the new outfit, Ravio pays homage to Starbridge with the debut long-player No Stars Upon the Bridge (on Svart) by using her poems as lyrics, samples of her voice reading on “Raven’s Song,” “Spiral Gate” and the piano-backed centerpiece “Pieces,” and by bringing in Amorphis vocalist Tomi Joutsen and ex-HIM drummer Gas Lipstick to complete a trio playing nine tracks/40 minutes of deeply mournful/beautiful death-doom. The extremity of lurch in “The Maze” late in the record is matched by the gorgeousness of the chants and shimmering guitar on closer “Dreams Burn Down,” and from the opening strains of “Mirrors,” the emotion driving No Stars Upon the Bridge is sincere and affecting. Cuts like “Melt” and the mostly-whispered-until-it-explodes “My Mistake” have a sense of the theatrical in their delivery, but that makes them no less genuine, and though one wouldn’t wish the circumstances leading to the band’s formation on anybody, there’s no question that with Hallatar, Ravio turns tragedy into a lush, resonant catharsis.

Hallatar on Thee Facebooks

Svart Records website

 

Alastor, Black Magic

alastor black magic

Cultish echoes pervade Black Magic, the debut album from Swedish doom-rolling four-piece Alastor, and it’s not so much that the initials-only four-piece of guitarists H and J, bassist/vocalist R and drummer S take influence from Electric Wizard and Black Sabbath, it’s what they do with that influence that’s most striking. Black Magic is made up of three extended tracks – “Enemy” (11:51), “Nothing to Fear” (7:42) and “Black Magic” (14:27) – and with a deep tonal engagement, each one embarks on a huge-sounding sprawl of doom. Yes, the guitars owe the swirl in “Nothing to Fear” to Jus Oborn, but the echoes behind R’s voice there and the melody have an almost New Wave-style feel despite the “all right now!” drawn right from the Ozzy playbook. In other words, Alastor are preaching to the converted, and that holds true in the snowblinded Luciferian spaciousness of the title-track’s early going as well, but the converted should have no problem finding the gospel in what they’re hearing, and as “Black Magic” rounds out with its chanted feel, Alastor affirm the potential to progress within this sound and to continue to develop it into something even more their own than it is now. Familiar superficially, but sneaky in the details, so watch out.

Alastor on Thee Facebooks

Twin Earth Records webstore

 

The Dead-End Alley Band, Storms

the dead-end-alley-band-storms

Lima-based four-piece The Dead-End Alley Band aren’t far into opener “Red Woman” before the dark-psych vibe and languid groove have properly emphasized just how much the guitar of Leonardo Alva and the organ of Sebastian Sanchez-Botta (also vocals) complement each other. Propelled by the rhythm section of bassist/vocalist Javier Kou and drummer Jafer Diaz, Storms is the third album from them behind 2015’s Odd Stories (discussed here) and 2013’s debut, Whispers of the Night (review here), and it continues to blend fuzz and classic garage doom impulses on songs like “Headstone Fortress” and the shuffling “Thunderbolts and Lace,” the latter of which wah-trips to the max around a stirring boogie before “The Clock has Stopped” weirds out on extra vocal echoes and nine-minute closer “Waiting for the Void” brings in the progressive touches of pan flute and percussion. Even in the earlier, shortest track “Need You (It’s Enough),” The Dead-End Alley Band bring no shortage of personality to the proceedings, and confirm that the rough edges of their early outings have matured into essential aspects of who they have become as a band, completely in control of their craft and able to conjure an atmosphere both classic and individual.

The Dead-End Alley Band on Thee Facebooks

The Dead-End Alley Band on Bandcamp

Forbidden Place Records website

 

Hair of the Dog, This World Turns

hair-of-the-dog-this-world-turns

Making their debut on Kozmik Artifactz, Scottish trio Hair of the Dog give their guitar-led compositions plenty of time to flesh out on This World Turns, their third album, as they demonstrate quickly on the nine-plus minute titular opener and longest track (immediate points), but one would hardly call their songwriting indulgent there or anywhere else as “This World Turns” flows easily into the following seven-minute push of “Keeping Watch over the Night” in a resolute one-two punch that soon gives way to the shorter and more driving “Ctrl-Alt-Del,” touching on influences from Thin Lizzy and Scorpions en route as well as modern practitioners like Kadavar, whose stamp can also be heard on side B launch “The Colours in Her Skin.” That’s not to say Hair of the Dog — guitarist/vocalist Adam Holt (interview here), bassist Iain Thomson and drummer Jon Holt – don’t leave their own mark as well, just that their blend stems from multiple sources. A bit of Lynottism surfaces in the penultimate “In Death’s Hands” as well, which has a more subdued feel despite fervent rhythmic movement underlying, and closer “4AM” soars with enough vigor and soul – and a little falsetto – to give This World Turns a suitably smooth and vibrant finish.

Hair of the Dog on Thee Facebooks

Kozmik Artifactz website

 

Soup, Remedies

soup remedies

With ties to Motorpsycho through guitarist Hans Magnus “Snah” Ryan, Soup issue their sixth long-player in the five-track lush melodicism of Remedies, which feels particularly aptly named for the immersion the wash that opener “Going Somewhere” is able to elicit. That is, of course, just the first of the spacious, semi-folk-infused progressions, and it’s with the longer-form “The Boy and the Snow” (11:33) and the psychedelic purposeful meandering of “Sleepers” (13:35) that Remedies truly unveils its considerable breadth, but the Crispin Glover Records release holds a sense of poise even in the two-minute centerpiece church organ interlude “Audion,” and the harmonies of “Nothing Like Home” bring to mind peak-era Porcupine Tree patience and fluidity while holding fast to the bright, orange-sunshiny warmth of the atmosphere as a whole, instruments dropping out just before three minutes in to showcase the vocals before returning to embark on the march to the final crescendo, not at all overblown but with just a touch of extra volume to let listeners dive deeper into the moment. Remedies feels quick at 42 minutes, but turns out to be just what the doctor ordered.

Soup on Thee Facebooks

Crispin Glover Records website

 

Kungens Män, Dag & Natt

kungens-man-dag-natt

Prolific psych-progging Stockholmers Kungens Män return with Dag & Natt, a 2CD/2LP issued through Kungens Ljud & Bild (CD) and Adansonia Records (LP) that overflows with jazzy fluidity and gorgeous immersion. The band’s last studio outing was late-2015’s Förnekaren (review here), and whether it’s 13-minute pieces like opener “Morgonrodnad” and the even-more-krautrocking “Aftonstjärnan” or the seemingly complementary inclusions of the kosmiche-minded “Dag” and wonderfully drifting “Natt,” the album as a whole is a joy and a boon to anyone looking for an extended psychedelic meander. The saxophone of Gustav Nygren on the aforementioned leadoff and “Natt” makes a particularly striking impression, but with a steady, languid wash of guitar, synth and warm bass throughout, Dag & Natt wants nothing for flow, and the gentle, classy spirit is maintained even as the penultimate “Vargtimmen” ups the sense of thrust leading into the finisher payoff of “Cirkeln är Slut.” As of now, Kungens Män should be considered a too-well-kept secret of Scandinavia’s psych underground, though listening to Dag & Natt, one wonders just how long they’ll stay that way.

Kungens Män on Thee Facebooks

Adansonia Records website

 

Smoke Wizzzard, Run with the Wolf

smoke-wizzzard-run-with-the-wolf

Whether it’s through the striking and gruesome cover art or through the lumbering post-Sabbath, post-Cathedral stoner-doom nod contained within, Smoke Wizzzard’s five-song self-titled debut LP thoroughly earns its third ‘z’ – and, for that matter, its second one – with played-to-form thickness and a tonal push that starts with 10-minute opener/longest track (immediate points) “Astro Lord” and continues to swagger and swing with due viscosity through “Reptiles” after the minute-long punker curveball “Soul Train.” The highlight of the Pittsburgh trio’s first outing might be “The Pass,” which has a hazy patience and some rightly-featured bass tone, but as “Run with the Wolf” moves from its early Electric Wizard muckraking to cap with piano and included howls for a doomier feel, it becomes clear Smoke Wizzzard have yet to play their full stylistic hand and the real highlights may still be yet to come. Fair enough. Something tells me getting stranger is only going to be a boon to Smoke Wizzzard’s approach on the whole, so bring it on.

Smoke Wizzzard on Thee Facebooks

Smoke Wizzzard on Bandcamp

 

Highburnator, Keystoned State

highburnator-keystoned-state

If you hit up Highburnator’s Bandcamp and download their name-your-price Keystoned State EP, you might note the fifth and final inclusion is the entire live-recorded, 28-minute release presented as a single track. No doubt the Pennsylvania three-piece intend the four-song outing to be taken just that way. They begin with the “mad as hell” speech sampled from the 1976 film Network and from there unfold a potent riffly brew met head on with harsh East Coast hardcore-style vocals and more metallic growls. That’s nine-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “The Brass Rail,” and it sets the tone for what follows on the eponymous “Highburnator” before “Desert Funeral” and the Sleep-style nod of “Peaking at the Coffin” push into even more stonerly vibes. This melding of pissed-off disaffection and mid-paced heavy rock groove is particular to the sludge of the Eastern Seaboard – think of it as regional fare – but Highburnator find space for themselves in the rawness of their riffs and the charm of their puns, and by the time they’re through the four songs, it makes sense why they might want to present the full onslaught as a single entity, essentially giving it to their listeners on one overflowing platter. Got the munchies? It’s right there waiting.

Highburnator on Thee Facebooks

Highburnator on Bandcamp

 

The Curf, Death and Love

the-curf-death-and-love

Greek psych-doomers The Curf made their debut in 2007 with I and then went radio silent until last year’s Royal Water EP. Their sophomore full-length, Death and Love, then, arrives via Fuzz Ink Records with some amount of intrigue behind it, but either way, the sans-pretense heavy roll the band unfurls on “Dark Hado,” and the more uptempo “Smoke Ring,” the dig-in low end of “Lunar Lair” and the scream-topped start-stoppery of “California” present a varied take brought together through heft as well as the crispness of production and delivery, such that when it wants to, Death and Love can bite down hard, but as on the closing title-track or the earlier “Order ‘n’ Sin,” it can rumble out spaciousness as well. Whatever might’ve taken The Curf so long to put together a second album beats the hell out of me, but if they were looking to make an argument for a third one, they do so convincingly across these nine songs, which hold firmly to their overarching flow despite the emergent stylistic range.

The Curf on Thee Facebooks

Fuzz Ink Records webstore

 

Ulls, I

ULLS I

For now, Ulls is the solo-project of Barcelona-based David Trillo, formerly guitarist/vocalist for the heavy progressive trio Lord Summerisle, but the hope seems to be to build a full band at some point in the future. The I EP might rightly be called a demo, then, but for the professionalism and cohesiveness of sound with which its three songs are presented and the clarity of intent behind them. With Trillo rumbling away on bass beneath, six-minute opener “Inhumat” fleshes out its arrangement with organ alongside guitar swirl and sets up the classically swinging strut of “Llot Convuls,” on which the drums post-midsection lead the way through starts and stops à la a restless King Crimson and the guitar joins with no less angularity. Eight-minute closer “L’Emersió de l’Executor” brings about a thicker overall tone, but holds to a similar mood through its first half, Trillo finding room after about the four-and-a-half-minute mark for a standout solo executed with the bass running fluidly alongside that carries the song to its fading finish just before seven minutes in, at which point a residual drone takes hold to lead the way out. That ending is telling when it comes to various impulses that might show themselves in Ulls going forward, but as an initial demonstration, suffice it to say that I makes it plain Trillo shouldn’t have much trouble finding other players to come aboard the band with him.

Ulls on Instagram

Ulls on Bandcamp

 

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