Quarterly Review: Atomikylä, Sunnata, White Dynomite, Horehound, Sulfur Giant, New Planet Trampoline, Hypnos, Honky, Cheap Wine, Gurt & Trippy Wicked

Posted in Reviews on June 24th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

the-obelisk-summer-2016-quarterly-review

This one’s for all the marbles. Or at very least tiddlywinks. The last day of The Obelisk’s Summer 2016 Quarterly Review begins. I’ll admit that when I was planning this out — started soon after the last Quarterly Review was finished in early April; that one ran late, this one has run early — I decided to take it easy on myself the last day. Still 10 reviews, so not that easy, but in terms of what’s included today, a lot of is stuff I feel pretty comfortable talking about, whether it’s bands I’ve covered before (which a lot of it is, now that I look at the list) or whatever. If you’ve been keeping up this week, thanks. I hope you found some cool music.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Atomikylä, Keräily

atomikyla Keraily

From the Finnish hotbed of Tampere, Atomikylä made a striking impression with their 2014 Svart Records debut, Erkale (review here), giving a take on psychedelic black metal that was immediately and truly their own in its balance of elements. The band, featuring members of Dark Buddha Rising and Oranssi Pazuzu, return with doom-jazz fervor on sophomore full-length, Keräily, with three songs covering yet-unnamed stylistic reaches and offering a get-to-the-studio-and-see-what-happens experimentalism to go with their plotted course on 18-minute opener and longest track (bonus points) “Katkos,” which is followed by the building horn freakout “Risteily” (9:15), from which a space rock push takes hold on drums, resulting in maddening guitar swirl – because of course – and closer “Pakoputki” (6:55), which consumes with a darker thrust and more up-front blackened vibe that still holds onto some of the psychedelia in its layers of guitar. Keräily progresses effectively from Atomikylä’s debut and highlights just how individualized they are as a group. They continue to have the potential to do really special work, and the argument is easy to make they’re already doing it.

Atomikylä on Thee Facebooks

Svart Records

Sunnata, Zorya

sunnata zorya

As opener and longest track (bonus points) “Beasts of Prey” careens toward its apex finish near the 12-minute mark and the title-track begins is crashing, harmonized intro before moving into an Alice in Chains-via-stoner verse, the distance Poland’s Sunnata cover on their second full-length, Zorya, begins to really unveil itself. There doesn’t seem to be a genre within the heavy sphere that’s off limits. They never get into death metal, but heavy rock, doom, psychedelia, prog, sludge – it’s all in play at one point or another in Zorya’s five-track/50-minute run. The reason the album works and isn’t just a haphazard mash of styles is because Sunnata, who’ve been active in Warsaw since the last decade, make each one their own and thus bend genre to suit their purposes and not the other way around. They continue to impress through the rush of “Long Gone,” the airy expanse of “New Horizon” and the more brooding closer “Again and Against,” conjuring effective flow from what in less capable hands would be disparate components.

Sunnata on Thee Facebooks

Sunnata on Bandcamp

White Dynomite, Action O’Clock

white dynomite action oclock

I have kind of a hard time with White Dynomite. Not musically – the Boston five-piece’s new EP, Action O’Clock (on Ripple) typifies their accessible punk rock; a reminder of a time when the style used guitars – but conceptually. Their lineup features bassist Tim Catz and vocalist Craig Riggs (on drums) of Roadsaw, as well as guitarist Pete Knipfing (also Hey Zeus, Lamont), vocalist Dave Unger and guitarist John Darga, and while I can’t argue with the charm of a track like “Werewolf Underwear” or “Evil Ballerina” — the lyric “Tutu woman, too too much for me” alone makes Action O’Clock worth the price of admission, let alone “I got fangs in my pants” from “Werewolf Underwear” – but I haven’t yet been able to listen to the band in the context of it having been six years since the last time Roadsaw released an album, and thinking about years passing, priorities and whatnot. They sound they’re having a blast all the way through, and I won’t begrudge them exploring other influences, I guess I just miss that band.

White Dynomite on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music website

Horehound, Horehound

horehound horehound

Pittsburgh newcomers Horehound formed just last year, so one might go into their self-titled debut full-length thinking it’s an early arrival, but in an unpretentious seven-track/33-minute collection of straightforward but engaging doom rockers, the five-piece demonstrate a clear idea of what they want to do sonically. While it may not represent where they’ll ultimately end up as a band, its songs sound fleshed out in terms of direction and the resultant feel on the release is much more album than demo. So be it. A particular highlight is “The Waters of Lethe,” on which a sweeter melody emerges in the guitar and vocals, but neither will I discount the low-end crunch and vocal call-and-response in closer “Waking Time” or the more uptempo thrust of second cut “Sangreal.” Not that Horehound don’t have room to grow, but their initial offering preaches well to the converted and should give them a solid foundation to work from in that process.

Horehound on Thee Facebooks

Horehound on Bandcamp

Sulfur Giant, Beyond the Hollow Mountain

sulfur giant beyond the hollow mountain

Beyond the Hollow Mountain is the first full-length from Portuguese mostly-instrumentalists Sulfur Giant, who bring together influences from classic progressive rock, psychedelia and heavy rock so that when they dip into Iommic riffing on “Vertigo,” it’s no stranger than the peaceful jamming of “Whisper at Dawn,” which follows. Friendly if not exactly innovative, Sulfur Giant’s debut makes its chief impression with the four-piece’s instrumental chemistry, which brings about an easy flow within and between the eight tracks, which having already been issued digitally will see vinyl release later this year on Pink Tank Records. It’s hard to ignore what organ adds to “Evermore,” but “Sea of Stone” sneaks in some vocals amid its thicker-riffing and Sungrazer-style exploration, and “Magnolia” and the galloping “Unleash Fears” follow suit, so Sulfur Giant have a few tricks up their collective sleeve they hold back from the initial roll and gallop of the opening title-track. All the better.

Sulfur Giant on Thee Facebooks

Pink Tank Records

New Planet Trampoline, Dark Rides and Grim Visions

new planet trampoline dark rides and grim visions

Never say never in rock and roll. From Cleveland, Ohio, the psych-rocking four-piece New Planet Trampoline called it quits in 2008, leaving behind an unfinished album. After coming back together for 2014’s The Wisconsin Witch House EP, the ‘60s-stylized outfit set themselves to the task of finishing what became Dark Rides and Grim Visions, basking in the glow of early Floyd, Beatles and others of the ilk while keeping a harder edge to songs like “Grim Visions” and a healthy cynicism to “We’ll Get What We Deserve” and the tongue-in-cheek keyboard-laced closer “Haunted as Fuck.” Of the several more extended tracks, the nine-minute “Acts of Mania” is the longest, and provides suitable patience and atmospherics to stand up to its scope. All told, Dark Rides and Grim Visions is a formidable journey at 13 songs/68 minutes, but after more than half a decade away, it’s hard to hold New Planet Trampoline having their say against them, particularly when that say is as lush and dreamy as “This is the Morning.”

New Planet Trampoline on Thee Facebooks

New Planet Trampoline on Bandcamp

Hypnos, Cold Winds

hypnos cold winds

With their second LP, Cold Winds (on Crusher Records), Gothenburg’s Hypnos seem to be betting that the next step in the retro game is NWOBHM. They make a convincing argument; it’s kind of how it went the first time around, and their songwriting offers a top-notch look at the moment where Thin Lizzy bounce became Iron Maiden gallop, as on second cut “I’m on the Run,” just minutes after opener “Start the Hunt” featured a flute solo. Broken into two sides, each one works its way toward a longer finale – “Det Kommer en Dag” (7:23) on side A and “1800” (8:32) on side B – but sonic diversity and changes in song structure throughout do much to keep Cold Winds from feeling overly plotted, and like their countrymen in Horisont, Hypnos offer a seamless melding of classic heavy rock and metal, soaring and scorching on “Descending Sun (Unrootables White)” and swinging and swaggering immediately thereafter on “Cold September,” both accomplished with unwavering command.

Hypnos on Thee Facebooks

Hypnos at Crusher Records

Honky, Corduroy

honky corduroy

Texas boogie rockers Honky were last heard from with 2012’s 421 – which I’ll assume is the “going to 11” equivalent for getting high – and their eighth outing, Corduroy, finds bassist JD Pinkus (Butthole Surfers, Melvins) and guitarist Bobby Ed Landgraf (Down) hooked up with drummer Trinidad Leal of Dixie Witch and Housecore Records for the release. To call is business as usual for the underrated outfit in the classic swing and grit they hone would only be a compliment, songs like “Baby Don’t Slow Down,” “Bad Stones” and the harmonized “Double Fine” offering soul as much as push, ‘70s influences given a modern kick in the ass throughout as a swath of guests, including Melvins drummer Dale Crover, come and go, perhaps none making their presence felt as much as Rae Comeau, whose work on “Bad Stones” makes that song a highlight – not to take away from the a capella cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Moby Dick,” here retitled as “Mopey Dick,” that closes. Chicanery ensues, booze flows, good times are had for those who’ll have them.

Honky website

Housecore Records website

Cheap Wine, Sad Queen

cheap wine sad queen

Distinguished as on centerpiece “The Rambler” by their use of organ amid a semi-retro heavy boogie style, French five-piece Cheap Wine recorded Sad Queen – as the cover art says – live for Celebration Days Records. It’s somewhere between an EP and album, and strips away some of the individual track length of their 2013 debut, Mystic Crow, in favor of maximizing the energy put into each piece, the subdued “Intro” and “Opening” that start sides A and B, respectively, aside, though as “Opening” feeds cleanly into the quiet, airy and soulful beginning of the title-track, even that seems to have a tension that builds toward its eventual release, different from the shuffling raucousness of the post-“Intro” opener “Cyclothymic” maybe, but palpable nonetheless. They close somewhat melancholy on “Yesterday’s Dream,” but the complementary guitar of Valentin Constestin and keys of Ahn Tuan aren’t to be missed, nor how well work in concert with vocalist Mathieu Devillers, bassist Valentin Lallart and drummer Louis Morati.

Cheap Wine on Thee Facebooks

Celebration Days Records website

Gurt & Trippy Wicked and teh Cosmic Children of the Knight, Guppy

gurt trippy wicked guppy

The UK heavy scene excels at not taking itself too seriously. To wit, Gurt and Trippy Wicked and the Cosmic Children of the Knight get together for a split (on When Planets Collide for CD and HeviSike cassette) and, they call it Guppy and the first two songs are “Owlmegeddon” and “Super Fun Happy Slide.” It kind of goes from there. Recorded together, sharing a drummer and collaborating on the centerpiece, “Revolting Child,” it’s basically two outfits who are close friends coming together to have a good time, but that doesn’t take away from Gurt’s sludgy intensity on “I Regret Nothing” or the nodding heavy rock Trippy Wicked hold forth on closer “Reign.” Taking its title from the two band names put together, one can only wonder if this will be the last conjoined offering Gurt and Trippy Wicked will make, or if there might be a whole school of guppies in the future. Frankly, this sounds like too good a party to only throw it once.

Gurt on Thee Facebooks

Trippy Wicked on Thee Facebooks

When Planets Collide website

HeviSike Records

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The Obelisk Presents: Mars Red Sky North American Tour Dates

Posted in The Obelisk Presents on June 20th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

mars red sky us tour poster-700

In addition to having them as headliners at The Obelisk All-Dayer on Aug. 20 at Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn, I’m thrilled to announce that The Obelisk will present the first coast-to-coast North American outing from French heavy psych mavens Mars Red Sky. Put together by Tone Deaf in conjunction with the band, Earsplit PR and Listenable Records, the tour also includes stops at Doom over Toronto, a New England warmup show, and Psycho Las Vegas before rounding out with a drive up the West Coast, concluding in Seattle.

Mars Red Sky — the trio of guitarist/vocalist Julien Pras, bassist/vocalist Jimmy Kinast and drummer Mathieu Gazeau — recently released their third album, Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul) (review here), the to-date peak of their progressive blend of heavy riffs, melodic resonance and expansive atmospheres. Given exceeding depth through memorable songwriting, it’s a bold step forward from their past work and an early contender for my favorite album of 2016. I could not be more thrilled to have this site included in the tour in the small way that it is if I tried. Thanks to the band and to everyone else for having The Obelisk involved.

Dates, event links, the band’s new video for “Friendly Fire” and more follow:

The Obelisk Presents: MARS RED SKY
8/19/2016 O’Brien’s Pub – Boston, MA [info]
8/20/2016 Saint Vitus Bar @ The Obelisk All-Dayer – Brooklyn, NY [info]
8/21/2016 Kung Fu Necktie – Philadelphia, PA [info]
8/22/2016 Strange Matter – Richmond, VA [info]
8/23/2016 Spirit – Pittsburgh, PA [info]
8/24/2016 Cherry St Station – Wallingford, CT [info]
8/25/2016 La Vitrola – Montreal, QC [info]
8/26/2016 The Smiling Buddha @ Doom Over Toronto Festival – Toronto, ON [info]
8/27/2016 Reggies – Chicago, IL [info]
8/28/2016 Hard Rock Hotel And Casino @ Psycho Las Vegas –  Las Vegas, NV [info]
8/29/2016 Brick By Brick – San Diego, CA
8/30/2016 The Viper Room – Los Angeles, CA [info]
9/01/2016 Starlight Lounge – Sacramento, CA
9/02/2016 Panic Room – Portland, OR [info]
9/03/2016 The Funhouse – Seattle, WA [info]

Mars Red Sky, “Friendly Fire” official video

Mars Red Sky US tour Facebook Event

Mars Red Sky on Bandcamp

Mars Red Sky on Twitter

Mars Red Sky’s BigCartel store

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Witchthroat Serpent to Release Sang-Dragon Vinyl Aug. 26

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 10th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

witchthroat serpent

French doom trio Witchthroat Serpent will issue their second offering, Sang-Dragon, on vinyl through Svart Records on Aug. 26. The full-length was released on CD by Deadlight Entertainment earlier this year and is still available via compact-discular means, and it can also be streamed in full via Witchthroat Serpent‘s Bandcamp page, from which one will find a player embedded below.

Witchthroat Serpent‘s debut came out in 2011 through Deadlight and Michigan’s Emetic Records, so safe to say that between the two releases the band has caught some respectable ears. Sang-Dragon is my first exposure to their work, but the heads they’ve turned to this point are enough to intrigue, even if the album art is somewhat suspect.

That and more info follow, from the PR wire:

witchthroat serpent sang-dragon

WITCHTHROAT SERPENT to release new album on vinyl through SVART RECORDS

Sanguis draconis is a thick, blood-red resin extracted from exotic trees. Since the dawn of time, it has uses in medicine, crafts, and of course. magic. And so is Witchthroat Serpent’s music: dark and heady as blood, weird as it would come from another world, and ridden with that old powerful magic men both used to practice and fear.

Witchthroat Serpent was created in November 2011 in Toulouse, France, by Fredrik Bolzann (guitar/vocals), Niko Lass (drums), and Lo Klav (bass), with the aim to spread occult and powerful doom metal. The self-titled first album was released on CD in 2014 by Deadlight Entertainment, soon followed by a tape version through Zanjeer Zani and on LP by US label Emetic Records the year after. Quickly acclaimed as a promising newcomer, the band toured extensively throughout Europe, playing both underground shows in various countries and making it to big festivals such as the Day of Doom in Barcelona and Hellfest in 2015, before a complete Spanish tour.

Witchthroat Serpent’s incantations are made of an old legacy – that of the ancestors of the doom and stoner scenes – but don’t be mistaken! Witchthroat Serpent is more than a clone. It has its own spells, and sure know how to use them to enthrall the listener: morbid groove and psychedelic tunes to seduce you to your perdition. And so is their new album, Sang-Dragon, recorded in one day at Drudenhaus Studio in September 2015. First released on CD by Deadlight Entertainment, it will be spread on noble black vinyl by Svart Records on August 26th. Before that, and just returning from a successful Spanish/French tour in May, the trio will appear onstage at Motocultor Fest on August 19th.

The witch is ravenous and restless…beware of her spells! Haven’t you heard her yet? Hear for yourself at Witchthroat Serpent’s Bandcamp HERE. Cover and tracklisting are as follows:

Tracklisting for Witchthroat Serpent’s Sang-Dragon
1. Hydra’s Bewitchment
2. A Caw Rises From My Guts
3. Siberian Mist
4. Lady Sally
5. Into The Black Wood
6. Behind Green Eyes
7. Mystical Devotee

www.facebook.com/WitchthroatSerpent
www.svartrecords.com
www.facebook.com/svartrecords
www.youtube.com/svartrecords
www.twitter.com/svartrecords

Witchthroat Serpent, Sang-Dragon (2016)

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Mars Red Sky Launch Crowdfunding for “Alien Grounds” Video

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 13th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

mars red sky

Mars Red Sky are giving away the mothership. First, however, they have to make the mothership, and it’s toward that effort that the Bordeaux-based three-piece — who, yes, are playing The Obelisk All-Dayer on Aug. 20 at Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn, thank you for asking — have launched a new crowdfunding campaign. The space capsule, along with other items being offered as donation rewards, will appear in a forthcoming video for the “Alien Grounds” two-song suite that opens their new album, Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul) (review here), which, if 2016 was ending today, would be my bid for the best release of it. To make the video, as they explain in the fortunately-subtitled clip below, they’ll partner with director Seb Antoine, and they’re thinking of it more as a short film, since it will have dialogue and a plot and whathaveyou.

Probably best to let them explain it. Did I mention they’ll be at The Obelisk All-Dayer? Okay good.

Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul) gets its official US release on May 20 via Listenable Records. Here’s what the band has to say:

mars red sky alien grounds

We are working on a very special project:

A movie/video clip for the song Alien Grounds. To do so, we would like to lunch a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter.

Help us raising money to produce Mars Red Sky’s “Alien Grounds” video and win the spaceship that appears on the movie !

Mars Red Sky and Seb Antoine already collaborated on the making of a video for « The Light Beyond » in 2015 / Check it out https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z1PM2KT1j5o. This time, the idea is to produce a short movie based on the two first tracks of the Bordeaux-based trio’s new LP, Apex III (Praise For The Burning Soul). Indeed those two tracks (Alien Grounds / Apex III) were originally composed and recorded as one and the same song. The main theme for this short movie revolves around space travel, this time featuring a cosmonaut behind the wheel of an old car and aboard a spaceship, wandering in a gloomy ill-famed dive bar, lost around a deserted gaz station…

To undertake such a project, a scapeship needs to be constructed, costumes designed and made up, comedians hired… Let’s just say a lot of preparation and organisation is required and resources are to be found to accomplish this task. This is why we have decided to launch a Kickstarter in order to raise funds to help us realize this project. The short movie will be released OCT 07th 2016 during the Bordeaux show at Le Rocher de Palmer. We’ve planned several rewards in return, spanning from a T-shirt with the movie artwork to the prototype of the space vessel itself, the cosmonaut suit and whatnot… We expect you to partake in the realization of this insane project !!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/894002210/mars-red-sky-alien-grounds-short-movie-video-clip
https://www.facebook.com/marsredskyband/

Mars Red Sky Kickstarter Video

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Alcest Recording Fifth Album; Touring Europe this Fall

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 22nd, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

alcest

Released in 2014, Alcest‘s fourth album, Shelter (review here), was a bold step away from the post-black metal style the French unit had proffered on its first three outings. You can see it in the video below for “Opale” — it’s practically obsessed with color. I’m not entirely surprised to read that for the yet-untitled follow-up fifth LP, Alcest are looking more toward their earlier work than continuing to build on what they accomplished with Shelter, but I wouldn’t necessarily expect them to come out with Souvenirs d’un Autre Monde Pt. 2 or anything like that either. Alcest has never been anything but forward thinking, and I’d imagine the lessons they learned on Shelter will be a factor in whatever the new one is called as well when it’s finished.

We’ll find out this fall, reportedly, which also happens to be when Alcest are touring Europe with Japan’s Mono. PR wire info and tour dates follow:

alcest tour dates

ALCEST Working on New Album; Band Issues Statement

Celebrated French Shoegaze Exemplars Ready Fifth Full-Length

Parisian Post-metal duo ALCEST will release its new album this fall via Prophecy Productions. The band — vocalist / multi-instrumentalist Neige and drummer Winterhalter — are currently putting the finishing touches on the record, which they have described as “intense songs full of contrasts and dynamics.” The as-yet-untitled release follows the duo’s celebrated 2014 LP, Shelter.

“For the past 3 months we have been recording our new album, and right now we are doing small adjustments on the mix,” comments Neige. “It’s coming to an end of a very long journey (the longest studio experience we’ve had so far) and we feel quite exhausted, but really happy. For each album we try to challenge ourselves, developing the songs in new directions. This time will be just as special, but also a return to the approach we had in our earlier albums; with intense songs full of contrasts and dynamics. Even if this album is quite “alien” in character, we felt the need to come back to the origins of the project. The release date is planned for Autumn 2016 and then we will embark on a 37 date European co-headlining tour with the Japanese band MONO. We are very much looking forward to this tour and to show you the work of our last couple of years.”

This summer, ALCEST will join labelmates GERM, Secrets of the Moon, Les Discrets, Helrunar, Völur and more at the 2016 Prophecy Fest, set to take place July 29-30 inside Balver Höhle, “a natural cave from old stone age” in Balve, Germany. For full details, visit this location.

Alcest & MONO on tour:
Oct 27, 2016 // Beatpol // Dresden, DE
Oct 29, 2016 // Strom // Munich, DE
Oct 30, 2016 // Gebaude 9 // Cologne, DE
Oct 31, 2016 // Jubez // Jubez, DE
Nov 1, 2016 // Salzhaus // Salzhaus, CH
Nov 2, 2016 // Circolo Magnolia // Segrate, IT
Nov 3, 2016 // Mostovna // Nova Gorica, SI
Nov 4, 2016 // Locomotiv // Bologna, IT
Nov 5, 2016 // Init // Rome, IT
Nov 6, 2016 // Spazio 211 // Turin, IT
Nov 7, 2016 // Cco Villeurbanne // Lyon, FR
Nov 8, 2016 // La Maroquinerie // Paris, FR
Nov 9, 2016 // Engine Rooms // Southampton, UK
Nov 10, 2016 // The Institute // Birmingham, UK
Nov 11, 2016 // Queens Hall // Leicester, UK
Nov 12, 2016 // Classic Grand // Glasgow, UK
Nov 13, 2016 // Brudenell Social Club // Leeds, UK
Nov 14, 2016 // Gorilla // Manchester, UK
Nov 15, 2016 // The Globe // Cardiff, UK
Nov 16, 2016 // Marble Factory // Bristol, UK
Nov 17, 2016 // Brixton Electric // London, UK
Nov 18, 2016 // VK // Brussels, BE
Nov 19, 2016 // 013 // Tilburg, NL
Nov 20, 2016 // P60 // Amstelveen, NL
Nov 21, 2016 // Uebel & Gefährlich // Hamburg, DE
Nov 22, 2016 // Lille Vega // Copenhagen, DK
Nov 23, 2016 // Pustervik // Gothenburg, SE
Nov 24, 2016 // Parkteatret // Oslo, NO
Nov 25, 2016 // Debaser Strand // Stockholm, SE
Nov 26, 2016 // KB // Malmo, SE
Nov 27, 2016 // Binuu // Berlin, DE
Nov 28, 2016 // B90 // Gdansk, PL
Nov 29, 2016 // Firlej // Wroclaw, PL
Nov 30, 2016 // Szene // Vienna, AT
Dec 1, 2016 // Durer Kert // Budapest, HU
Dec 2, 2016 // Tabacka // Kosice, SK
Dec 3, 2016 // Rockstadt // Brasov, RO

https://www.facebook.com/alcest.official
https://twitter.com/Alcestofficial
http://prophecy.de/

Alcest, “Opale” official video

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Henryspenncer, Hypnosis Gumbo: New Days in Trance (Plus Full Album Stream)

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on April 8th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

henryspenncer hypnosis gumbo

[Click play above to stream Henryspenncer’s Hypnosis Gumbo in full. Album is out April 12 through Robotic Empire and Bookmaker Records.]

It’s nearly impossible to imagine that Henryspenncer didn’t name their new album, Hypnosis Gumbo, after its own sound. Released through Robotic Empire and Bookmaker Records, the Parisian instrumental post-heavy-rockers’ fourth full-length enacts varying modes of trance-inducing sonics throughout, from molten chugging to tribal-style percussion to dreamy Western psychedelia, and a given recipe for gumbo being “whatever you got, over rice,” Hypnosis Gumbo makes a fair title for the deeply atmospheric and at times resoundingly weighted outing. Wherever Henryspenncer go in the six-track/42-minute span, they manage to keep a sense of space in the material and offer substance to go with all the otherworldly vibes and patient execution.

None of that is necessarily new from Henryspenncer, which was founded by guitarist/bassist Valentin Féron in 2008, but Hypnosis Gumbo does represent a significant shift in approach, as it’s Féron‘s first long-player with Henryspenncer not executed as a solo artist. In the studio, he worked with drummer/bassist/Rhodes specialist Julien Magot, and since then the lineup has grown even further, with the additions of guitarist Carl Boisson, bassist Charlie Batalla and Thomas Kuratli on electronics. Even with just Féron and Magot on the studio tracks, however, Hypnosis Gumbo is immediately a shift in vibe from Henryspenncer‘s past work, which has its explosively loud moments, but was much more Grails than Pelican and now finds that balance shifted significantly. Presented as two vinyl sides, each opening with its longest track, Hypnosis Gumbo trades the somewhat more intimate feel the project honed previously for a richer and more densely weighted sound that, in addition to its ambient roots, is not at all shy about crushing when to inclined.

The stated central theme of the album is fire, which is fitting enough with the cover art, certainly, and the tones throughout keep plenty warm as well. Opener “Quetzalcoatl” unfolds a rolling groove in Magot‘s drums beneath Féron‘s riffing, freaking out with effects as it makes its way toward a faster push topped by transposed layers of noise, breaking down just past the halfway point only to rebuild again, that noise becoming abrasively high pitched by the end of the song, which gives way to the minimalist, spacious opening of “Relic,” thudding drums growing gradually in intensity atop a bed of drone.

henryspenncer

A swell of post-metallic riffing emerges for a moment, but recedes again, and when the guitar comes back, it’s to unleash a slogging chug of doom, that will carry the elephantine stomp to the song’s finish several minutes later, a slow-motion effects swirl growing in intensity near the finish to provide transition into the percussion-led “Vortex,” which closes out side A with a linear build that seems to take cues earlier on from Russian Circles‘ progressivism and in its later reaches from the rhythmic urgency of Neurosis. Neither is a bad cue to take, frankly, and the manner in which Henryspenncer play these influences off each other helps to create an identity not necessarily entirely beholden to either. They come out of with with something individual, in other words, and particularly in context with the breadth of the rest of the album’s first half, they maintain a genuinely experimental feel.

At just past 10 minutes, “Voodoo’s Rising” is the longest cut on Hypnosis Gumbo, and perhaps its most ambitious installment as well, with clanging percussion behind its early rumble, a chaos of Rhodes keys tossed in to enhance the swampy atmosphere, shakers, a growing intensity of drums and noise, and a thrilling final push that, in fine tradition, is torn apart over the last minute or so. Its kitchen-sink approach feels emblematic of the album’s title, and broadens the context in which the subsequent “Foxes” arrives, its relatively subdued open-air guitar more in line with some of what Henryspenncer offered on 2013’s Saturn or 2011’s To the Timeless Valley, even with Magot‘s drums gradually emerging to complement Féron‘s guitar. Somewhat more languid in its execution, it also happens to be particularly hypnotic as it moves with subtle efficiency toward a keyboard-laden apex that fades out before closer “New Days” commences its droney start, setting a bed for what sounds like looped guitar runs and tapped-out notes, Magot joining in to set an overarching groove to the turns as the build gets moving, keys fleshing out the space.

After three minutes into the total six, “New Days” comes to a halt, thickens its tones and rolls out a last nod at full-weight, ending the album with a build on the drums met by key/effects swirl and buried guitar leads that cuts itself short to fade quickly out. Maybe Henryspenncer had such a finish plotted out all along for Hypnosis Gumbo and maybe it just happened to be what worked best when Féron and Magot were putting the record together, but either way, it’s a final emphasis of the new era on which the band has embarked with these tracks. As Henryspenncer has continued to add to their lineup, and particularly as that lineup has started to play live, it seems likely there are more changes in store going forward from here, but with Hypnosis Gumbo as a kind of second debut, the band has given themselves plenty to build upon for the next time out.

Henryspenncer on Thee Facebooks

Henryspenncer on Bandcamp

“Voodoo’s Rising” video

“New Days” video

Robotic Empire website

Bookmaker Records website

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Mars Red Sky and Elephant Tree to Tour the UK in May

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 31st, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

Hell’s bells that’s a good show! Here I’ve been considering getting a crowdfunding page going in order to bring Elephant Tree over from their home base in the UK specifically to pair them up with Bordeaux, France, heavy psych masters Mars Red Sky at The Obelisk All-Dayer in August, and Snuff Lane has gone and beat me to making the match. It’s a five-show run through the UK, and they’ll meet up with Black Lung along the way and play Riff Conspiracy III in Manchester, but for however long these two are getting together, it’s a fit that works so well, it’s hard to imagine this will be the only time it happens.

If you haven’t heard it yet, Mars Red Sky‘s recently-issued third LP, Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul) (review here), is currently holding my top spot for album of the year. Yeah, I know there’s a lot of year to go, but woof, that’s a good record. Elephant Tree‘s self-titled debut (review here), which is due out at the end of April through Magnetic Eye, is currently holding my top spot for debut of the year. Take that as an indication of how highly I regard these two bands at this point. These gigs are going to be killer. If you get to go, consider yourself lucky.

Dates from the PR wire:

mars-red-sky-elephant-tree-uk-tour

MARS RED SKY’s will be touring the UK in May in support of their brand new album ‘Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul)’, pushing boundaries further into a colossal heavy sound like never before.

Produced by Gabriel Zander (from Brasil who also engineered ‘Stranded in Arcadia’) and Jacob Dennis in Studio Cryogene in Bègles in France – The band has forged grandiose and hypnotizing thickly produced songs rooted through a wider range of musical influences stretching from Robert Wyatt, The Beatles, Nick Drake, Neil young to bands like Electric Wizard, Acid King and obviously Black Sabbath.

French revered psych-pop doom fuzzers are set to grace the United Kingdom in May for 5 special events, with tour support will be provided by sitar welding, London based Elephant Tree, who are due to release their new album self-titled album through Magnetic Eye Records.

‘Prise for the Burning Soul’ May UK Tour:
12/05 – The Exchange, Bristol Alongside: Black Lung (ft. members of The Flying Eyes), Indica Blues, The Brackish, Raptor
13/05 – The Phoenix, Coventry
14/05 – Birthdays, London Support TBC
15/05 – Rebellion, Manchester Part of Riff Conspiracy III (Noiz)
16/05 – Audio, Glasgow

Tour RSVP: https://www.facebook.com/events/1574569322856563/

www.marsredsky.net
https://www.facebook.com/marsredskyband/
http://store.merhq.com/album/elephant-tree
https://www.facebook.com/elephanttreeband

Mars Red Sky, Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul)

Elephant Tree, Elephant Tree

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Abrahma Post Nazareth Cover “Witchdoctor Woman”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 30th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

abrahma

Parisian heavy rockers Abrahma remain among my most positive impressions from last year’s Roadburn festival. I mean, I dug the band before, but their set (review here) last April put that in a new light, and what was so doubly engaging about it was that not only were they heavy — hell, everybody’s heavy, right? — but they were able to really bring to life the atmospheres and open spaces of their second album, Reflections in the Bowels of a Bird (review here), in a manner that made their sound all the more immersive. And to go with that, they had scope, a melodic presence that stayed through the set even in its most aggressive moments. Heavy rock bands sometimes cast all that off in favor of an all-out assault live. I won’t take anything away from that approach when it works, but Abrahma‘s style was right not to sacrifice its dynamic moodiness for impact.

The Nazareth cover “Witchdoctor Woman” was put to tape last July and is set to be included on the Go Down Fighting tribute that’s been in the works for a while now from Underdogma Records (info here). I’m not sure what led to Abrahma posting it on their own, whether or not it’s in advance of a release for the compilation that will also include CalamusLångfinger and Against the Grain, but having enjoyed the excuse to revisit how much ass they kicked when I was fortunate enough to see them last Spring, I’ll take what I can get. You’ll hear pretty quickly that Abrahma manage to make the song their own, lending a deep-toned psychedelia to the original, which opened Nazareth‘s 1971 self-titled debut.

Enjoy:

Abrahma, “Witchdoctor Woman” (Nazareth cover)

Discover our cover track of “WITCHDOCTOR WOMAN” from NAZARETH

Soon to be released on “Go Down Fighting” a riff rock tribute to Nazareth!

Song recorded in 2015 by Benjamin Colin at HAKESOUND STUDIO (Romainville, FR)
Produced by ABRAHMA
Mixed by Benjamin Colin
Mastered by James Plotkin @ PLOTKINWORKS

Coming soon
“Go Down Fighting” – a riff rock tribute to Nazareth!
Limited Edition Colored Vinyl.

Track List:
“Miss Misery” – The Rubes
“Sunshine” – Calamus
“Razamataz” – The Humanoids
“Changing Times” – The Heave-Ho
“Please Don’t Judas Me” – Argus
“Whiskey Drinking Woman” – Shatner
“Witchdoctor Woman” – Abrahma
“Expect No Mercy” – Against The Grain
“Empty Arms, Empty Heart” – Resande Man
“Alcatraz” – Wild Eyes
“Light My Way” – Långfinger
“Beggar’s Day” – Bozeman’s Simplex

Also possible contributions from RAGING SLAB, Left Lane Cruiser, Solace, Daniel Davies, Gideon Smith, Contra, Mothership, Magic Jove, and surprise special guests!

Abrahma on Thee Facebooks

Abrahma website

Underdogma Records on Thee Facebooks

Underdogma Records website

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