Aqua Nebula Oscillator US Tour Starts April 23

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 15th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

French psych rockers Aqua Nebula Oscillator will spend three weeks on the road in the US starting April 23 and including slots at Austin Psych Fest and Scion Rock Fest. A run that’s the better part of a month long and apparently the precursor to more touring on the West Coast is a bold undertaking for the spacey outfit, who released their fourth album, Spiritus Mundi, late last year on Tee Pee Records, but as you can see in the list of dates below, they’re playing with some killer acts along the way, including King Buffalo, The Golden Grass and Electric Citizen. Keeping good company always helps.

The PR wire puts it like this:

French Psych Rockers AQUA NEBULA OSCILLATOR Announce U.S. Tour Dates

Major Market Trek to Include High Profile Performances as Part of Austin Pysch Fest and Scion Rock Fest

Celebrated French underground psych rock trio AQUA NEBULA OSCILLATOR has announced a U.S. tour in support of its new album Spiritus Mundi. Now, with a head of steam and an established name in the U.S., AQUA NEBULA OSCILLATOR will perform the first-ever U.S. live shows of its storied career. The tour will kick off on April 23 in NYC and include A-level performances as part of both the Austin Psych Fest (May 2) and Scion Rock Fest (May 17).

AQUA NEBULA OSCILLATOR — formed in 2000 by David Sphaèr’os — creates utterly unique and fantastically tripped out occult psych rock inspired by parallel dimensions, voodoo, ethnic trance, horror and cult movies (from the 1920′s to the 60′s), painters like Hieronymus Bosch and Salvador Dali, dark underground literature (H. P. Lovecraft, Isidore Ducasse, Antonin Artaud), aliens and UFOs! A modern mix of Krautrock / motorik with Hawkwind-style psychedelia, Hendrix-styled, ultra tripped out guitar action and an apocalyptic, Raw Power energy, AQUA NEBULA OSCILLATOR’s mind-burning, dark and dirty “chaos-sound” is a cauldron full of seething, psychedelic rock. ANO looks and sounds like it was buried in a tomb in the late 60′s / 70′s and has just been dug up, ready to resume its wild sound-making once again.

AQUA NEBULA OSCILLATOR tour dates:
April 23 Manhattan, NY Pianos (Free, Midnight show)
April 24 Brooklyn, NY Saint Vitus Bar (w/ WHITE HILLS)
April 25 Philadelphia, PA Dobbs
April 26 York, PA The Depot (w/ The Golden Grass )
April 27 Baltimore, MD Holy Frijoles (* FREE show w/ The Golden Grass)
April 28 Richmond, VA Strange Matter (w/ ZOMBIE ZOMBIE)
April 29 Asheville, NC Double Crown
April 30 Atlanta, GA 529 (w/ Abby Gogo)
May 1 Mobile, AL Music Box (w/ Electric Sheep)
May 2 Austin, TX As part of Austin Psych Fest
May 5 Little Rock, AR Vino’s
May 6 Nashville, TN The Other Basement
May 7 Cincinnati, OH MOTR Pub (w/ Electric Citizen)
May 8 Pittsburgh, PA Brillo Box (w/ Shaky Shrines)
May 9 Rochester, NY Bug Jar (w/ Roz and the Rice Cakes)
May 10 Providence, RI Firehouse 13 (w/ Nervous Virgins)
May 12 Manhattan, NY Pianos
May 17 Pomona, CA * As part of Scion Rock Fest

AQUA NEBULA OSCILLATOR is: David Sphaèr’os (Guitar, Vox, Sithar and Organ, Master Of Ceremony), Adrian Bang (Drums, Orchestra Conductor), Andreas Carrere (oscillation, organ, flute, backing vocals) and Alexis Raphaeloff (Bass, EarthQuaker). Follow the group on Facebook.

https://www.facebook.com/events/1410504235866643/
https://www.facebook.com/aquanebulaoscillator
https://twitter.com/aquanebulaosc

Aqua Nebula Oscillator, “Dead Soul” official video

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Mars Red Sky Announce Stranded in Arcadia Release Show

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 7th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

The North American release date for Mars Red Sky‘s stellar sophomore full-length, Stranded in Arcadia (review here), is June 10. In Europe, it’s out April 28. I guess in setting up their release show, the French fuzz trio decided to split the difference. On May 15, they’ll play their native Bordeaux on a bill that includes Russian progressive heavy rockers The Grand Astoria as openers and a live video/audio collaboration with Julia Al Abed. It’s an evening they’ve billed as “Into the Mars Red Sound.”

As one would have to imagine, there’s a video teaser that gives a closer look at the event, and you can find that below, included for the double reason that it also provides an audio sample of opener “The Light Beyond” from Stranded in Arcadia, which is easily among the best albums I’ve heard thus far into 2014, with a sound that builds on the rolling fuzz of Mars Red Sky‘s first album and furthers a lush heavy psychedelia without sacrificing the humanity at the core of their approach. No easy feat — they just make it sound that way.

Dig it:

Into The Mars Red Sound » may 15th in Bordeaux!

New Album : April 28th for Europe & June 10th for North America.

On the occasion of the release of their new album ”Stranded In Arcadia” in Europe on April 28th, MARS RED SKY announced a release party in their hometown Bordeaux on May 15th. The band will perform a classic live set alongside Russian rockers The Grand Astoria, as well as an experimental video and sound creation featuring Julia Al Abed.

Infos and presales available here :
http://www.rockschool-barbey.com/conc…

Music : Julia Al Abed (fields recording) / Mars Red Sky : “The Light Beyond” From the album “Stranded in Arcadia” (Listenable Records) Recorded and mixed by Gabriel Zander in Rio de Janeiro.

Teaser : Colin Manierka

https://www.facebook.com/events/1420580848195545/
http://www.facebook.com/marsredsky
https://twitter.com/#!/marsRedSky1
http://marsredsky.bigcartel.com
https://marsredsky.net
http://www.listenable.net/

Mars Red Sky, “Into the Mars Red Sound” teaser

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Mars Red Sky, Stranded in Arcadia: Light in Orbit

Posted in Reviews on March 11th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

There can be little question that Stranded in Arcadia is not the album that Mars Red Sky set out to make, or at very least that it wasn’t made under the intended conditions. The best laid plan of the forerunning French heavy psych rockers was to do a week of shows in South America before heading north to the California desert to track their second full-length and Listenable Records debut, but the usual visa issues (what my country has against importing quality guitar tone, I’ll never know) kept them in Rio de Janeiro for that week instead, and rather than go home without a record done, they hit Estúdio Superfuzz to put to tape with Gabriel Zander what eventually became the eight-song/45-minute long-player that takes its title from the circumstances of its creation. Stranded in Arcadia sounds better in any case than “stuck in Rio” would have, and speaking as someone who’s become a fan of the band since the 2011 release of their self-titled debut (review here), it’s hard to argue with the results in the finished product. Even from last year’s Be My Guide EP (review here), Stranded in Arcadia marks audible progress in the psychedelic, airy feel from guitarist/vocalist Julien Pras, bassist/vocalist Jimmy Kinast and drummer Matgaz, who makes his proper debut here after first appearing on part of the shorter 2013 release.

What has made Mars Red Sky such an utter joy on the ears to this point has been the smoothness with which they tie that heavy psychedelia to both a melodic sweetness and a huge-tone desert rock groove. Listening to Stranded in Arcadia tracks like “Hovering Satellites” the later “Seen a Ghost” and the ultra-swinging “Holy Mondays,” on which Kinast joins Pras for vocals in the verse only to take the lead for the chorus — something also done on the self-titled’s “Marble Sky,” but achieved more confidently here — I’m glad to find these elements are enhanced if anything, and that while there’s more impact to the tones and the notes seem to land with more of a thud than the prior LP or EP, that comes at no sacrifice of melody. Indeed, on “Join the Race,” Mars Red Sky are their most unabashedly blissful yet, tapping a psych-era Beatles influence for one of Stranded in Arcadia‘s most effective hooks. Those are not in short supply, incidentally. Where the self-titled nestled into the rolling grooves of “Way to Rome,” “Strong Reflection” and the extra dreamy “Up the Stairs,” the second outing seems to build on these accomplishments with the expansive but efficient craft of “Circles,” “Join the Race” and opener and longest track at 8:04 (immediate points) “The Light Beyond,” which explodes from an initial far-off guitar line into otherworldly vocals and elephantine plod, only then to unfold the first of Stranded in Arcadia‘s highlight choruses in tones more weighted but no less patient than one could hope given the band’s work up to this point.

If I seem locked into comparing Stranded in Arcadia with its predecessor releases from Mars Red Sky, perhaps that’s because there’s so little else one might relate in terms of the band’s methods. Mars Red Sky have very quickly, very masterfully become a singular act within heavy psych, and quite frankly there’s nobody else so able to maintain their balance of lush melody, tonal heft, jammy sensibility, memorable songwriting and unmistakable groove. That Stranded in Arcadia held firm to these is triumph enough, but to hear “Hovering Satellites” kick in with Matgaz‘s double-bass drumming and send its quicker roll headfirst into the wide-open chorus easily positions the album among the most satisfying I’ve heard thus far into 2014. An already fervent appreciation deepens as “Hovering Satellites” moves into a wah-soaked guitar-led jam, only to have the instruments drop out as Pras begins a return to the chorus with just his echoing vocals, setting up a build that will play out over the remaining 90-plus seconds. “Holy Mondays” is the shortest of the actual songs here — closer “Beyond the Light” is a two-and-a-half-minute reprieve of “The Light Beyond” — but solidifies around the dually-delivered singing of Kinast and Pras to set in stone a specific point of progression on the part of the band and one I hope they continue to develop going forward, Kinast‘s lower register approach meshing well with Pras‘ higher range, which gets further showcase  on the aforementioned chorus of “Join the Race,” which follows.

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Alcest Interview with Neige: Shelter by the Sea

Posted in Features on February 7th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

There’s a point at which an artist has to decide why and for whom he or she creates, and for French post-black metal innovators Alcest, that point seems to have been during the recording of their 2012 full-length, Les Voyages de l’Âme (review here). As guitarist, vocalist, keyboardist, founder and principle songwriter Stéphane “Neige” Paut recalls, it was during this time that he began to feel as though he was playing to routine, making music more to please his fans and to meet expectations than to answer the call of his own creativity. If there was any question where Neige might end up on that issue, certainly the band’s fourth album, Shelter (review here), puts them to rest.

Released through Prophecy Productions and recorded in Iceland by Birgir Jón Birgisson (Sigur Rós), Shelter maintains the emotional core that’s been at the center of Alcest‘s approach since their groundbreaking 2007 debut, Souvenirs d’un Autre Monde. What’s changed is the context in which that signature element arrives. Shelter dispatches with most (not all) of the band’s black metal influence, Neige and drummer Jean “Winterhalter” Deflandre opting instead to shift their focus to a dreamy, bright melodicism which has always been there in Alcest‘s sound, but has never come to the fore in the way it does now, post-intro album opener “Opale” working quickly to establish a new clean, clear tonal foundation that songs like “L’Éveil des Muses” and “Voix Sereines” build on with the band’s signature shoegazing adventurousness.

One could easily argue that adventurousness has never been more prominent in Alcest‘s approach than it is on Shelter, both in terms of departing from what they’d established as their “norm” to unknown aesthetic ground, and in more obvious factors like choosing an English word for the title and bringing Slowdive‘s Neil Halstead to sing lead on “Away,” one of the album’s most central melodic washes. I spoke to Neige about these things and more prior to Alcest beginning a European tour with Hexvessel that wraps up this week in support of Shelter. He was both conscious of the changes in his band’s sound and of Shelter‘s potential to alienate some of their following, but resigned in having to do what he had to do to keep the band going. As much as it was one, his choice clearly had been made.

Please find the Q&A enclosed after the jump, and enjoy:

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The Socks, The Socks: Voice in the Mountain

Posted in Reviews on February 6th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

There are two ways to approach the self-titled debut from French four-piece The Socks. You can say, “Oh, it’s retro,” and immediately make your comparisons to Kadavar, to Graveyard, etc., and either write it off or dig in as you will based on your opinions on those bands and heavy ’70s devotees in general. Or you can listen to the thing. Life is short, and frankly, either is a valid-enough way to go, but I’ve found the latter to be the more satisfying route. There’s no taking away from the fact that songs like “Some Kind of Sorcery” and “The Last Dragon” have a strong earlier Graveyard influence, but “Next to the Light” goes right to the Sabbathian source to bounce vocalist Julien Méret‘s lead guitar off of “War Pigs,” and throughout the album, on that track, on “Gypsy Lady,” closer “The Last Dragon” and on “Holy Sons,” The Socks distinguish themselves through the keyboard work of rhythm guitarist/backing vocalist Nicolas Baud, who adds Mellotron and organ sounds to add melodic depth to the fluid rhythms of bassist Vincent Melay and drummer Jessy Ensenat. When they boogie — and they do — there’s plenty familiar about it, and if that were all The Socks had to offer, the album would be almost entirely redundant, but there are more than a few turns between parts, cuts in tempo or launches into speedy shuffle, that serve to showcase The Socks as a dynamic songwriting act in their own right.

Couple that with a production more modern than either of the aforementioned touchstones of the style, and the Lyon foursome seem to be headed somewhere else within the classic heavy framework. In both their speedier material — the rush of “Some Kind of Sorcery,” though met with an impressive slowdown in its middle third, is immediate and indicative of The Socks at their fastest here — and in the more languid grooves of songs like “Holy Sons,” on which Ensenat effectively propels the build with organic-sounding kick, the band is confident, well assured of where they want pieces to go. Structurally traditional, songs have their hooks, but don’t come across as being written solely to get stuck in the audience’s head. “Electric War” finds Méret and Baud working well together on vocals in what sounds like a dynamic that will continue to develop as The Socks progress, but catchy as that track’s chorus is, the more lasting impression is leaves comes from the stomp in its midsection and the ease with which the band plays one rhythm off the other. They’ve been a band for half a decade (if you’re interested in reading their bio, I wrote it), and a grip on time changes like theirs doesn’t develop without considerable stage time, but it still feels like early mastery of pitting slowdowns and speedups against each other — that is, something they brought to the table initially instead of something that evolved over the course of their two prior EPs, 2011′s Side A and 2012′s Bedrock, and the songwriting for the self-titled. Either way, it’s there, and it’s a big part of the album’s appeal.

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audiObelisk: The Socks Premiere “Gypsy Lady” from Self-Titled Debut

Posted in audiObelisk on January 31st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

I guess if we’re talking about side B of French retro rockers The Socks‘ self-titled debut LP, then that would make “Gypsy Lady” a deep cut. The foursome from Lyon are getting ready to release their eponymous long-player on Small Stone on March 18, and where the prior-leaked “Some Kind of Sorcery” from the record showcased a vintage-minded boogie almost singularly indebted to Graveyard — at least for the part of it that wasn’t indebted (as we all are) to Sabbath — “Gypsy Lady” shows that’s not the only tool that The Socks have at their disposal, using organ to pepper a kind of stutter groove that’s as much Alice Cooper Band as it is modern heavy psychedelia.

Vocalist/guitarist Julien Méret solos fluidly over fellow six-stringer/backing vocalist Nicolas Baud‘s keyboard work as drummer Jessy Ensenat sets the march and bassist Vincent Melay runs around and through the riffs in heavy ’70s tradition. If “Gypsy Lady” has anything in common with “Some Kind of Sorcery” — other than being the same band on the same album, duh — it’s a righteous slowdown, this one arriving after two minutes into the track’s total five, marked out by insistent wah in the guitar and a classically doomed stomp in the rhythm section, giving way to a screaming lead and tense build back up to the original shuffle.

Add to this a potent hook and I’m not sure what else one could reasonably ask of The Socks that they’re not delivering. Elsewhere, their self-titled delves further into psychedelic influences, further broadening their creative spectrum, rounding out with the six-and-a-half-minute “The Last Dragon,” which sadly is not a cover of the theme from the 1985 Berry Gordy-produced film of the same name, but for now, “Gypsy Lady” should give enough of a sense ofThe Socks’ take on analog vibes and the organic way in which they present a nascent but already widening sonic perspective.

Please find “Gypsy Lady” on the player below, and enjoy:

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

The SocksThe Socks is due out March 18 on CD and LP through Small Stone Records. The band are also set to play the Stone Rising festival in Lyon this April and are booking other dates for the Spring. More info at the following links.

The Socks on Thee Facebooks

The Socks website

The Socks at Small Stone’s Bandcamp

Small Stone Records

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Mars Red Sky Sign to Listenable Records; New Album Due in April

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 28th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

There wasn’t really any doubt that Mars Red Sky, who toured the world more or less as an independent band, were going to end up on some label, just a question of which and when. Those questions have been answered by the announcement this morning that the Bordeaux trio have inked a deal with Listenable Records in time to have their second full-length out in April, preceded by a limited 7″ with exclusive material. Good news all around, and most importantly, it gets the album here sooner than later. Should make for a good spring soundtrack.

O! PR wire! Sing unto me of fuzz and laid back groovy rock and roll!

MARS RED SKY sign to Listenable Records; new album released this Spring.

France’s stoner rock emblematic trio MARS RED SKY just inked a deal with European record label Listenable Records, on which the band will release its brand new full-length as well as a 7’’ EP, both set for release this spring.

Considered as one of the greats of the European stoner rock scene, France based MARS RED SKY have gained international recognition thanks to a unique sound imprint based on thick infectious grooves and melodic aerial guitar riffs. This is truly a one of a kind experience, wrapped up by Julien Pras’ ethereal vocals, Matgaz’ powerful rhythms and Jimmy Kinast’s pachydermic bass lines. Somewhere between doom metal and 70’s psyche pop, the Mars Red Sound intrigues to begin with, after which it irremediably attracts the masses to celebrate this cosmic ritual of solar burning fuzz and reverberated atmospheres.

Driven by the huge success of their eponymous debut record, which was recorded in Spain’s mystic Bardenas desert and released in 2011, the Bordelais were quickly invited to play on the largest European stages with Kyuss Lives!, Dinosaur Jr, Sleep, and popular festivals such as Eurockéennes de Belfort (Fr), Roadburn (NL), London and Berlin Desertfest, Sziget Festival (Hun), SXSW (USA), leading them to play in more than 20 countries.

With their incredibly heavy and hypnotic performances, MARS RED SKY have been considered as one of the most thrilling live acts among the international stoner rock scene. In 2012, they paired up with French doom metal monsters Year Of No Light to release a 3-track split record, which sold out in a blink of an eye.

The release of their EP “Be My Guide” in the spring of 2013 prophetically opened the path for an extensive tour across Europe, then across the Atlantic Ocean for a few exciting gigs in Latin America, where they recorded their new album, due out in April 2014 on LISTENABLE RECORDS (Ghost, Gojira, Behemoth…).

A limited edition 7” EP containing exclusive material will be released in March, more details coming shortly.

MARS RED SKY upcoming tour dates:

Feb. 05 – La Roche Sur Yon, Le Fuzz Yon (Fr)
Feb. 27 – Larissa, Stage Club (Greece)
Feb. 28 – Thessaloniki, Eightball Club (Greece)
Mar. 01 – Athens, Six D.O.G.S (Greece)
Mar. 21 – La Teste de Buch, Le Zik Zak (Fr)
Jun. 20 – Clisson, Hellfest Open Air (Fr)

http://www.marsredsky.bigcartel.com/
http://marsredsky.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/marsredskyband
http://www.listenable.net/

Mars Red Sky, Be My Guide (2013)

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Mars Red Sky Announce New Album Release for April; Touring Spain and Greece

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 8th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster


When it’s released in April, I’ll be even more interested to hear how Mars Red Sky‘s second album has turned out. The French inner-peace-through-fuzz-tone gurus were set to record the follow-up to their 2011 self-titled debut (review here) in the Californian desert to coincide with a West Coast tour following a run last fall in South America. It would seem the Dept. of Homeland Security had other ideas.

As I understand it, Mars Red Sky wound up spending a week in Rio de Janeiro (clearly a hardship, judging by the photo above) and did some work at Estúdio Superfuzz with Gabriel Zander before returning to France and presumably finishing it there. Not at all what they had planned, and though it seems to have worked out, I can’t imagine it wasn’t viciously frustrating at the time. Another heavy band falls victim to the fascist American security state.

To lead the way for the new record, the title of which has yet to be revealed, Mars Red Sky will issue a 7″ with a studio version of the track “Satellites,” which you can hear live below, coupled with an instrumental captured at Desertfest 2013 in London. I remember that. It was awesome.

They’ve also got some tour dates lined up for Spain and Greece, but here’s just a sliver of news about what’s easily one of my most anticipated records for this year:

New album for us in April and a first 7′ for march (including this song called “Satellites” in a studio version + an instrumental live track from London Desert Fest. as B Side). Thanks so much for your support !

Feel free to share and spread, we re almost 10000 on this page ! Next shows :

01/23 DONOSTIA (Sp) Mogambo
01/24 BARCELONA (Sp) Rocksound
01/25 ZARAGOZA (Sp) Pub Eccos
01/26 MADRID (Sp) Wurlitzer Balroom
02/05 LA ROCHE SUR YON (85) Le Fuzz Yon
02/27 LARISSA (Gr) Stage Club
02/28 THESSALONIKI (Gr) Eightball Club
03/01 ATHENES (Gr) Six D.O.G.S
03/01 LA TESTE DE BUCH (33) Le Zik Zac
06/20 HELLFEST !!!!!!!!

More shows to come soon !

All records available on streaming : http://marsredsky.bandcamp.com/
Webshop : http://marsredsky.bigcartel.com/
https://www.facebook.com/marsredskyband

Mars Red Sky, “Satellites” Live in Mariehamn, Nov. 30, 2013

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The Socks Boogie Down in New Video for “Some Kind of Sorcery”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 6th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

What kind of sorcery is it? Well, I just don’t know, but it certainly likes to boogie. French retro-rocking four-piece The Socks will put out their self-titled album on Small Stone in March, but they’re already gearing up for the release with a new video for the song “Some Kind of Sorcery.”

If the song sounds familiar, that might be because it was posted here when the record went up for pre-order a few weeks back, and while the video doesn’t provide too many answers on which kind of sorcery it is in question — the kind that turns you into a newt, maybe, until you get better — the riff seems to be shedding some light of its own on the subject.

I’ll say it again because it bears repeating, you’re gonna hear a pretty strong Graveyard influence in the vocals and some of the shuffle, but watch for the slowdown in the middle of the song — coinciding with the driving-through-the-desert shot at 1:36 — and how fluidly they slip into and back out of the change in rhythm. Speaks volumes to the potential for the album.

Dig it:

The Socks, “Some Kind of Sorcery” official video

As we continue to gear up for The Socks Small Stone Records debut, we are very pleased to show off the band’s first video for the song “Some Kind Of Sorcery”, from their S/T album which will be hitting the streets on March 18th, 2014. The Socks will be touring Europe heavily in support of their new album and have just been confirmed on the Stone Rising Festival in Lyon, France in April of 2014 along side some quality acts like Radio Moscow, Blues Pills, Aqua Nebula Oscillator, Brutus and many more ! You will be hearing a whole lot from these guys for many months to come! In the meantime, sit back and enjoy the rawk.

The Socks at Small Stone’s Bandcamp

The Socks on Thee Facebooks

Small Stone Records

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Alcest, Shelter: Transcending the Transcendent

Posted in Reviews on January 2nd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Shelter, the fourth album by Parisian post-black metal outfit Alcest, is a project of discovery. The narrative (blessings and peace upon it) has it that the band — comprised in its studio incarnation of guitarist, bassist, keyboardist, vocalist and principal songwriter Stéphane “Neige” Paut and drummer Jean “Winterhalter” Deflandre — grew tired of the aesthetic that, arguably, reached its peak with their third album, Les Voyages de l’Âme (review here), and that in recording, the sense was that they were playing to what was expected of them. Performance over passion. There are many acts who go for a long time playing to formula, and as one whose debut, 2007′s Souvenirs d’un Autre Monde, is considered a founding document of the style of post-black metal, Alcest would be well within their rights to do just that. But an essential part of what has made Alcest such a special entity over the course of the last seven years has been the creative drive of Neige in crafting the material, and that’s never stopped. The second outing, 2010′s Écailles de Lune (semi-review here), was an outgrowth of the first and the third and outgrowth of the second, so when it comes to Alcest hitting that moment in any creative process where the sense is that one has pushed an idea as far as it can go, going into Shelter — which is released through Prophecy Productions – they either could have rehashed ideas or completely shifted their approach. They’ve obviously chosen the latter. Recorded at Sundlaugin Studio in Iceland with producer Birgir Jón Birgisson (Sigur Rós) at the helm, the eight tracks/46 minutes of Shelter are aiming for something else entirely in their sound, and something that has very little to do with metal, blackened or otherwise.

There will be some, I suppose, who will find themselves alienated by the lack of the occasional screaming payoff or squibbly guitar/blastbeat section, and it’s true that the dynamic between Alcest‘s nostalgic wash of melody and that darker sonic touch was a huge part of what makes their work to date so pivotal, but really, was anyone listening to Alcest just because they were heavy? It’s not like they were ever trying to be the loudest band in the world. Their sound, even in its most blistering moments, always tapped into a sentimental, wistful emotionality — aggression has never been their trade — so even though early cuts like “Opale” and “La Nuit Marche avec Moi” present a somewhat different sonic palette, Alcest are less entirely recreating themselves than dropping what felt to them like dead tonal weight. Accordingly, Shelter soars, and from the cascading echoes of the introductory “Wings,” that seems to be the very idea. ”Opale” takes off at a joyous run, and neither Neige nor Winterhalter look back from then. Wisps of lead guitar drive forward and the waves of melody are intact, but there’s no darkness to “Opale,” and in that, it both immediately works against what one might expect going into Shelter who thought they were getting a direct follow-up to Les Voyages de l’Âme and sets the tone of for the rest of the tracks to come, which by and large are shorter as well, with half of the album hovering on either side of the five-minute mark while “Wings” is shorter, “Voix Sereines” and “L’Eveil des Muses” are longer and the album rounds out with the 10-minute highlight “Délivrance,” which is as encompassing as anything residing in Alcest‘s back catalog. “Voix Sereines” follows the slightly moodier “La Nuit Marche avec Moi,” which opens gorgeously to half-time drums and echoing guitar runs, with Shelter‘s most wistful moment yet, building from surprisingly minimal quiet to a memorable instrumental progression that’s as patient as it is affecting, capping in a wash not tonally weighted bu emotionally resonant enough to justify the linearity that brought it about, effects, distortion and Winterhalter‘s punctuating snare retreating at the end to let a trail of echoing vocal and synth lead into “L’Eveil des Muses.”

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The Socks Release First Track from Self-Titled Debut; Album Available to Preorder

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 16th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

With a retro mindset, gorgeous Arrache-toi un Oeil artwork (you might recall the cover from Blaak Heat Shujaa‘s The Edge of an Era was similarly lush), and boogie and loosely social thematics imported from Scandinavia, Lyon rockers The Socks will make their self-titled debut on Small Stone in the New Year. The album is set for release on March 18 and available for preorder now through Small Stone‘s Bandcamp, where the track “Some Kind of Sorcery” also premiered today.

Probably the most distinct influence you’ll hear in “Some Kind of Sorcery” is Hisingen Blues-style Graveyard shuffle, but the four-piece band, who’ve put two EPs under their collective belt over the last two years since getting together in 2010, have a solid underpinning of less era-adherent heavy rock, and that comes out later into the track in a groovy slowdown and the ease with which they move from one side of their approach to another.

The band made a short, efficient statement to mark the occasion and reveal the cover art:

Ladies and gentlemen, we are happy to unveil a first track from our upcoming album, here is “Some Kind Of Sorcery” !

http://smallstone.bandcamp.com/track/some-kind-of-sorcery

Thanks a lot to Arrache-toi un Oeil for the amazing artwork !

https://www.facebook.com/thesocks
http://thesocks.fr/

The Socks, “Some Kind of Sorcery”

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Mars Red Sky Winter Tour Starts Nov. 20

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 7th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Don’t get me wrong, it’s very cool that inner-peace-bringing French heavy psych rockers Mars Red Sky are heading out on another European tour starting this month and have already booked a slot at next year’s Hellfest. That’s awesome. I’m stoked that a lot of people will get to see them and I hope the shows are packed. What I’d really like to see, however, is an update about the recording of their second full-length album, which took place early in October at Thunder Underground in California, following a handful of shows in South America. How was the studio? Is it finished? How do the mixes sound? Is it mastered yet? Can I hear it? Can I hear it now? How about now?

The last three questions I consider the most pressing.

I guess it’s not mixed yet, so okay, it’s awesome that the trio are hitting the road again this winter and spending the cold months on tour. Here are the dates and the gorgeous Johan Jaccob tour poster, courtesy of the PR wire:

MARS RED SKY European winter tour to kick off on November 20th.

French stoner rock trio MARS RED SKY just announced the tour dates for their European winter tour across eleven countries.

On November 20th, fuzzed-out psychedelic Frenchies will embark on a two weeks tour across Northern Europe, after what they’ll soon hit the studios for the mixing of their new full-length record (recorded in Brasil earlier this year). Early 2014 will see the band head South for a few dates in Spain and Greece. More dates coming soon, stay tuned!

MARS RED SKY on tour
2013
11/20 LIEGE (B) La Zone
11/21 BRUSSEL (B) Salle Rogier + Naam
11/22 ERFURT (D) Stadtgarten + Monkey 3
11/23 BERLIN (D) White Trash + Monkey 3
11/24 WARSAW (Pl) Harenda Club
11/25 RIGA (LVA) Nabaklab
11/26 TALLIN (EST) Snakehouse
11/27 JYVÄSKYLÄ (Fin) Lutakko
11/28 HELSINKI (Fin) Bar Loose
11/29 TURKU (Fin) Klubi Ilta puoli
11/30 MARIEHAMN (Fin) Dino’s Bar
12/01 VÄXJO (SWE) Cafe Deluxe
12/02 KOPENHAGEN (Dk) Dødsmaskinen
12/03 BREMEN (D) Römer TBC
12/04 REIMS (Fr) L’Appart Café
12/05 BREST (Fr) La Carène

2014
01/23 DONOSTIA / SAN SEBASTIAN (Sp) Mogambo
01/24 BARCELONA (Sp) Rocksound
01/25 ZARAGOZA (Sp) Pub Eccos
01/26 MADRID (Sp) Wurlitzer Balroom
02/14 ATHENS (Gr)
02/15 LARISSA (Gr)
02/16 THESSALONIKI (Gr)
06/20 HELLFEST OPEN AIR (Fr)

www.facebook.com/marsredskyband
marsredsky.bandcamp.com
marsredsky.bigcartel.com

Mars Red Sky, “Clean White Hands”

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Alcest to Release New Album Shelter on Jan. 21

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 6th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

I take no small amount of comfort in knowing that some of Winter 2014′s darkest, coldest hours will have Alcest‘s sweet melodies to provide warmth. Recently off a co-headlining US tour with Anathema, the French post-black metal forerunners will issue their fourth album, Shelter, through Prophecy Productions, with distribution through Dismanic/eOne, on Jan. 21. The album will be the follow-up to 2012′s Les Voyages de l’Âme (review here), which boasted some of Alcest‘s most gorgeous and complex material yet. As the band apparently traveled to Iceland to record Shelter, some interesting changes may be in store. I look forward to finding out how they manifest.

The PR wire sends word:

French dream-pop exemplars ALCEST issuing 4th release in U.S.

Shelter is the fourth release from latterday French Dream-pop exemplars Alcest.  The album  is the result of a long journey into vast new creative terrain . Mastermind and multi-instrumentalist Neige and drummer Winterhalter pile up the thick, layered cloud banks of multiple guitars and of classic Shoegazery and blend it with the sweet melodicism of pioneering post-punk Brits like the Cocteau Twins, as well as epic, soundtrack-like melodies and prog-leaning song structures. Shelter is being released by Prophecy Productions, distributed by Dismanic/eOne January 21, 2014.

Shelter features guest appearances from Slowdive’s Neil Halstead (lead vocals on “Away”), Billie Lindahl from Sweden’s Promise And The Monster’s and Amiina’s strings sections. The album was recorded at Sundlaugin Studio, Iceland, with Sigur Rós producer Birgir Jón Birgisson.

The title of the album, “Shelter,” describes its concept. These songs are about shelter as a safe place that allows everybody to escape reality for an instant, to reunite with what we really are, deep down. Neige’s own escape was to the sea, and all the songs here were inspired by and dedicated to it.

Alcest was founded in the year 2000, and via with releases such as Le Secret(2005) and Souvenirs d’un autre monde (2007) virtually created the post Black Metal  Shoegaze/Black Metal  “Blackgaze“ genre. Over the years,  Alcest helped make this style surprisingly popular around the world and continue to be its foremost proponents. Since 2010, Alcest have toured Europe, North America, Asia and Australia.  In 2012, they released Les Voyages De L’Ame which saw remarkable worldwide sales, landed them on magazine covers and BBC sessions.

As they’ve evolved, Alcest have left behind most of their Metal influences and with the help of Sigur Rós producer Birgir Jón Birgisson have wrought a markedly light and ethereal sound on Shelter.

www.alcest-music.com

Alcest, Les Voyages de l’Âme (2012)

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Steak Head to the Alps for Blizzard Mountain’s Fest

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 21st, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Considering Steak had the whole video for the song “Glanhammar” chock full of footage of them snowboarding, presumably they’ll do alright in the Alps next month when they shoot down from their London homebase to headline the Blizzard Mountain’s fest, keeping good company with Samsara Blues Experiment. The still-recent Napalm Records signees have an impressive handful of dates lined up for the coming winter months, including Spain with Monster Magnet and London with Dozer and Lowrider. So what you’ve got is a band newly signed to an ever-growing roster of quality bands doing shows in the French Alps, two of Spain’s major cities, and in their hometown alongside two of the most killer heavy rock acts ever to come out of Sweden. Just taking a shot in the dark here, but I’m guessing it’s a good time to be in Steak.

The PR wire tells us why:

UK’s breakthrough stoner act STEAK to headline Blizzard Mountain’s Fest in France

On November 28th, London based stoner rockers STEAK will fly to Grenoble (French Alpes) to headline the first edition of rock festival Blizzard Mountain’s Fest.

After winning over the demanding crowds of Desertfest London, Up In Smoke Festival (Switzerland) and French X-Games 2013, the four Londoners are back in the Alpes to deliver their energetic fuzz rock and shake the masses, for the first edition of rock event Blizzard Mountain’s Fest that will take place at l’Ampérage (Grenoble, Fr) on November 28th.

After putting out their much celebrated first EP “Disastronaught” in 2012, our four underground heroes did it again this spring, by releasing a second EP deliciously entitled “Corned Beef Colossus” (recorded and produced by Truckfighters at Bombshelter studio in Sweden). 2013 has seen the band skyrocketed on the stages of renowned music events alongside Pentagram, Colour Haze, Unida, Kadavar, and more. STEAK have now joined first-class European music label Napalm Records, and are about to enter the studio to record their first full-length record, due early 2014.

STEAK’s upcoming gigs:
Nov. 28 Blizzard Mountain Fest, Chambery (Fr)
Jan. 28 ISPO, Munich (Ger)
Feb. 5 w/ Monster Magnet, Barcelona (Sp)
Feb. 6 w/ Monster Magnet, Madrid (Sp)
Feb. 8 w/ Dozer & Lowrider, London (UK)

steakmusic.bandcamp.com
www.facebook.com/steakuk

Steak, Live at Glad Stone Fest VII, 10.04.13

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Glowsun Make Good with the B-Roll in New Video for “Lost Soul”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 14th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Fresh off a quick tour that included a stop at the Up in Smoke fest in Switzerland on Oct. 5, French trio Glowsun have unveiled a new video for the song “Lost Soul.” Taken from their Napalm Records debut, 2012′s Eternal Season, the track also appeared on their 2011 split with German megajammers Electric Moon (review here) and is a tonally rich, warm trip through much of what’s most enjoyable about modern European heavy psych, capturing both a free-flowing aural spirit and a precise sense of build throughout its relatively-brief under-five-minute course. The three-piece of Johan Jaccob (guitar), Ronan Chiron (bass) and Fabrice Cornille (drums), work quickly to affect a hypnotic groove without pretense, and once set on their path, they don’t waver.

Spiritually, it’s a jam, but “Lost Soul” doesn’t at all feel like it’s somewhere it doesn’t want to be. Glowsun have a few more tour dates lined up for this fall, including one at the Blue Moon fest in Germany with Monkey3, Intronaut and Grandloom, among others. Dig it:

Oct 20: Mondo Bizarro Rennes France
Oct 21: Glazart Paris France
Nov 29: Blue Moon Fest Cottbus Germany

Maybe you get to see them and maybe you don’t. Either way, you can still get a feel for what Eternal Season — which is currently in good company on my, “Why haven’t I bought this yet?” list of CDs — is about with the clip for “Lost Soul,” which doesn’t actually feature the band, but taps into some Cold War-era imagery of Chernobyl nuclear fallout and devastation thereof all the same, kind of like it’s the epilogue to everyone else’s video that shows the test footage of the Manhattan Project. Sound-wise, Glowsun operate in a similar heavy psych sphere as their Napalm labelmates My Sleeping Karma, with just an overwhelming touch of fuzz that pervaded the first Sungrazer album. As you can hear below, it’s not a combination to be ignored.

Enjoy:

Glowsun, “Lost Soul” official video

Glowsun on Thee Facebooks

Napalm Records

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