Posted in Reviews on April 7th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
German improvisors Electric Moon are rarely at rest, and for anyone who’s been following the jam-minded three-piece’s progress these last several years across their slew of studio and live albums, the latest of them, dubbed Mind Explosion, marks yet another interesting turn. When it comes to the band, comprised of guitarist/keyboardist/recording engineer Dave “Sula Bassana” Schmidt, bassist/visual artist/sometimes-vocalist Komet Lulu and drummer Marcus Schnitzler, the surest bet you can make about any given release is that it’s going to be the most psychedelic thing you’re going to hear that day. That said, I’ve always taken their sound to have more to it than just that, and likewise the band’s mission, which seems geared toward driving at the very heart of sonic collaboration between committed players. Schmidt, Lulu and Schnitzler avoid missteps along the way and get to the center of the galaxy of jamming. Their concoctions — Mind Explosionpresents four of them, for a total of about 80 minutes — are hypnotic, swinging, exciting and saturated in shroomic properties. What stands Mind Explosionout from the catalog is that it’s a live album that basically serves the same function as a studio full-length would. Electric Moon are no strangers to live releases; plenty have shown up on LP, CD and limited CD-R from Schmidt‘s Sulatron Records. But where outings like the two-volume Live 2012CDs (review here) were essentially live bootlegs, the presentation on Mind Explosionis like that of a complete studio outing. It’s bridging that gap.
And in so doing, it’s continuing Electric Moon‘s journey into the sort of creative Big Bang that drives heavy psychedelia to start with. Why can’t an album that would be recorded live just be live on stage? Why can’t an album be a live album? Why does there need to be a distinction from one to the other? The four tracks of Mind Explosion– “Trip to the Moon” (21:45), “Kaleidoscopeephole” (22:14), “The Picture” (17:04) and “Mind Explosion” (18:50) — offer plenty of time to explore these questions, and but for the periodic interjections of crowd noise, shouts in the middle of especially engaging turns, etc., there’s very little to separate the album from anything Electric Moon have jammed out in the studio. In terms of the sound quality, it’s probably Schnitzler‘s drums that most give it away, but his cymbals sound full and have no problem creating a wash to back the spaced-out effects work from Lulu and Schmidt, who also come through clearly. Together, they ride the jams out as far as they want to go, riffs and leads topping sure-footed rhythms — the bass-tone that begins “The Picture” is as much a foundation for the song’s unfolding as one could ask — in a dynamic that has only grown over time. They’re never overly technical or looking to put on a clinic as much as a show, and part of what makes Mind Explosionsuccessful as a release even into its later reaches is the band’s sense of bringing the audience with them on these sonic voyages. As far out as it is — and it is — Electric Moon‘s sound never lets go of also being inviting.
I’ll admit to carrying more than a bit of jealousy in my heart for those who’ll be in either London or Berlin at the end of the month when Desertfest gets underway in both towns. Either city is a trek I’d gladly make if I had cash for the flight, and I suppose if being broke has any upside, it’s saving me from having to choose one over the other. Poor consolation for not getting over there, but frankly I’ll take what I can get at this point.
A video trailer back Stubb‘s Jack Dickinson surfaced for the London fest about a week ago, and today Berlin followed suit in posting a trailer for the fest there. Again, either way you go, you can’t really lose. Whether you’re seeing Causa Sui and Stoned Jesus in Berlin or Pombagira and Borracho in London, you’re in for an amazing weekend you won’t soon forget and an experience of a community coming into its own even as it continues to discover what that means. This is a very cool year for Desertfest. So was last year. The one before that wasn’t half bad either.
You get the point though, and the point is me, unemployed and sulking. I’m sure I’ll have more about Desertfest before it actually launches, but I wanted to post these clips together just to give a sample of the vibe of both festivals and what they have to offer the discerning gormandizers who might hit them up. Desertfest Berlin runs April 24-26 at Astra Kulturhaus in Berlin, Germany, and Desertfest London picks up April 25-27 at various venues in Camden Town. Info in the clips and at the links.
Desertfest Berlin 2014 trailer
24th, 25th, 26th April 2014 : DESERTFEST BERLIN
THURSDAY 24th – Spirit Caravan Official – Sleepy Sun – Siena Root – ASG – Sixty Watt Shaman – Pet The Preacher – ANCIIENTS – The Midnight Ghost Train – Cojones —– FRIDAY 25th — Kvelertak – Causa Sui – Church of Misery Official – Elder – Huata – HULL – GOZU – BLACK RAINBOWS – Prisma Circus – The Moth – Red Stoner Sun – MANTAR —– SATURDAY 26th — Clutch – Radio Moscow – The Machine – The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic – Stoned Jesus – THE GRAVIATORS – Sasquatch – Radar Men from the Moon – SardoniS – Castle – Metal Band – Powder for Pigeons – DoctoR DooM
Desertfest 2014 is heavier than before & Taking over Camden, London during the 25-27th April.With over 60 bands from the underground stoner / doom and sludge scene peforminng this years fesitval is not to be missed, Headliners are Spirit Caravan / Kvlertak & Boris, plus weedeater, church of misery, ASG, blues Pills and many more…for the full line up please click below.
“All in Vain” is a quick 2:45, but it gives a decent sampling of what Berlin trio Rodeo Drive might get up to on their forthcoming Morbid Beauty full-length, which is set to release this Friday. Fronted by bassist Hans Eiselt, who also plays guitar in heavy psych jammers Samsara Blues Experiment, Rodeo Drive are an altogether gruffer, more straightforward band. Eiselt‘s vocals, still melodic, are throaty and well suited to the rush of “All in Vain,” and while there are some psychedelic undertones, the sound is much more traditionally stoner rock, aimed for simpler execution and hitting the mark with what seems to be no trouble at all, guitarist Friedrich Stemmer and drummer Rene Schulze joining Eiselt in the steady push.
The video for the track is likewise down to earth — a few different cameras capture the band rocking out in a dimly lit room. Posters adorn the wall behind them, and at the start of the clip, somebody — presumably Eiselt — says the phrase, “psychedelic relic.” Maybe that was the original name of the song, or maybe it’s a sort of general assessment from the band on their style, but sure enough, “All in Vain” does hint at more ethereal sonic territory, and a cut like the seven-and-a-half-minute “Earth Dark Diseases,” which is up for streaming at Rodeo Drive‘s ReverbNation page, would seem to indicate that “All in Vain” is just the start of what the band might have to offer on Morbid Beauty.
Still, not a bad place to start. Rodeo Drive release Morbid Beautythis Friday at a gig at Berlin’s Jägerklause with Olympus Mons and Liquid Silk, should you happen to be in the area. If not, you can check out “All in Vain” below.
My understanding is that the version of Colour Haze‘s 2004 self-titled seventh full-length album is the 2007 reissue. I figured any Colour Haze‘s Colour Hazewas the right choice. The difference is that the original CD edition was about 55 minutes long. Too much for a single LP, obviously, so the CD closer, “Flowers” is gone, as is “Mountain,” from side A. I’ll miss the latter more than the former, but as the album that’s come in a big way to define Colour Haze‘s sound as one of the most distinct in the European underground over the 10 years since its release, this clip — which was also the best quality available — wasn’t a loss either way. I don’t have this on vinyl. Maybe I should. I’d be lying if I said putting it on full-screen and watching the record spin with the cover propped up behind wasn’t a good sell.
It’s hard to pick a winner between Colour Hazeand its 2006 follow-up, Tempel, also released through Elektrohasch. Usually I’ll abdicate the responsibility. I’ll say that I remember when I got the CD of the self-titled and put it on, it was one of those moments where you can feel your blood get warmer. Particularly for arriving so soon after 2003′s Los Sounds de Krauts, it was a different vibe than that 2CD, fuzzier, more assured, jammier. Again, I don’t really have a favorite from Colour Haze, but this one is as essential as any you might want to put next to it. One interesting thing the vinyl seems to do is keep “Peace, Brothers and Sisters!” intact, timing-wise. A 22-minute B-side is nothing to scoff at, and every nuance leading to it is a joy. For “Love” alone, it’s one of the best heavy psych records ever made.
Tonight is the Small Stone Records showcase at the Middle East in Boston, and I’ll be hitting that up. I didn’t anticipate having the energy to close out the week afterwards, so it seemed prudent to do so beforehand. Monday I’ll have a review of that showcase and a full-stream of the new Causa Sui live album, Live at Freak Valley, with an accompanying review. Probably not the smartest thing I ever did to book both of those on the same day, but hell, not like I have a job, right? If I spend my afternoon furiously typing alternate descriptors for “heavy,” well at least I wasn’t in bed with my head buried under pillows dwelling on what a spectacular failure my decade in the music industry was. Gotta stay busy!
Also next week, look for a full-album stream from Hotel Wrecking City Traders, whose new one is killer. I’m in the process of working out a premiere for Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus too, because I think that’s worth hearing for people who may not be familiar with the band — I also didn’t really appreciate what they were doing until I heard it for myself and sat with it a while — but I’m not sure if it’ll be next week or sometime thereafter. I’ll figure it out one way or another.
You might notice an awful lot of Kyuss and Black Sabbath (also Colour Haze, and Grails and a bunch of Small Stone stuff) on the radio stream. It’s the backup server. The main server was at my now-former office in Jersey, and this week I asked Slevin to run by and pick it up, which he was kind enough to do. It’s being brought north by my family, who are coming up tomorrow for a visit (“uh, hey guys, can you bring this computer and also a bunch of food?” — classy), and I’ll hope to have it running at some point over the weekend. Until then, Kyuss and Sabbath hardly seems like a downer.
Have a great and safe couple of days and I’ll catch you back here Monday for more wild adventures. Please check out the forum and radio stream.
Posted in On Wax on March 20th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
There’s an undertone of burl that’s carried through the entirety of Bushfire‘s Dec. 2013 second long-player, Heal Thy Self, and that’s due in no small part to vocalist Bill Brown‘s low-in-the-mouth approach. He’s not exactly shooting for “whiskey-soaked Southern” or something like that, but his post-grunge style remains consistent throughout the nine tracks of the vinyl, which arrives in a sturdy gatefold with a quality, 180g platter, heavy stock dust jacket and foldout liner notes that further the visual theme from artist Ingo “Krimalkin” Lohse, the intricacy of whose work is all the more appreciable in the 12″ format. Heal Thy Selfis a different experience on LP as opposed to CD or Bandcamp stream or whatever it might be, but however one approaches it, the Darmstadt, Germany, double-guitar five-piece offer songwriting coinciding with the dependable physical feel of the Heal Thy Selfalbum. Their material is straightforward in a bruiser sense and asks few indulgences while staving off monotony with change-it-up cuts like the moody “Brother” on side B and the cowbell-infused boogie of “Tuff Luv,” which closes side A.
No shortage of doomer roots are on display — album opener “Failure” ends with whispers eerily reminiscent of those announcing the departure of “Children of the Grave” on Master of Reality– but Bushfire‘s trade is heavy, riff-driven rock and roll. If it had anything to do with getting high, I’d be tempted to call it stoner, but their approach is tighter than that designation seems to warrant these days, the two guitars of Marcus Bischoff and Miguel Pereira comfortable in a leadership role when they need to be and driving the grooves that Brown ably rides in his vocals, bassist Nick Kurz offering more to the personality of the whole than just tonal weight, though plenty of that as well, and drummer Tom Hoffmann punctuating the roll and suitably getting into some double-kick bass when “Glossolalia” moves in its back end to some surprisingly blackened screams for a bit of flourish that Bushfire don’t return to, but makes its point anyway and gives a different context to the from-the-gut shouting that caps the Down-style riffing of “Elephant,” which in turn leads to “Tuff Luv,” the verses there reminding more of The Atomic Bitchwax than anything so gruffly intentioned.
Side B has a somewhat different personality. Production makes most of side A consistent sound-wise despite the fact that Bushfire are leaning to one side or another within their aesthetic, but with four songs as opposed to five and the closing duo of “Hungry” and “Dream” checking in at just under seven minutes each, the vibe is bound to be somewhat distinct from the first half of Heal Thy Self. All things are relative, of course, but where “Failure” set the album into motion with a mounting swell of feedback and distortion, “Objector” opens side B with quiet guitar and a subdued, contemplative verse. It doesn’t last, and soon enough “Objector” is into some of Heal Thy Self‘s ballsiest swaggering, all starts-and-stops and “hey whoa yeah”-style shouting. Fair enough. “Brother,” also one of the longer songs, develops the ideas that “Objector” seems to hint at in its intro — though is plenty heavy besides — and with a slower pace sets out a hook that’s among the most resonant Bushfire have to offer, “Hungry” seeming to work in a similar vein until a build in the midsection into faster riffing provides fluid transition to a shuffle that recalls some of “Tuff Luv” from side A. It’s the stomp that wins out, topped with wah guitar as it is, and “Hungry” seems to drunk-stumble into “Dream.”
Honestly, after both “Brother” and “Hungry,” “Dream” comes across as something of an afterthought. There isn’t much on offer that the prior 41 minutes haven’t shown Bushfire already capably displaying, but the opening crashes give some sense of arrival anyway, and the finale moves at a decent clip, so it’s not likely to offend either if you’ve made it this far into the record. A vague spoken sample arrives in the second half of the song over the last guitar solo, and after “Dream” stomps to its finish, there are some piano noises and what sounds like a bird of some sort, no doubt of some significance to whatever it was the dream itself may have been about. I do not know how many copies of Heal Thy Selfthe band pressed — mine’s hand-numbered as #190 on side B, so at least that many — but it’s a substantial effort in both sound and physical construction for a DIY band to undertake, and to Bushfire‘s credit, they pull it off front to back, whether it’s the coherence of their style and production or the atmosphere that the detailed lines of the gatefold convey. They’ve been around for a decade and still sound like they’re growing, but Heal Thy Selfhas plenty to offer a vinyl hound with a craving for thick grooves.
Posted in Whathaveyou on March 18th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
I’m not sure I can match Exile on Mainstream head Andreas Kohl‘s description of what German avant noise rockers Beehoover do — in fact, I’m sure I can’t — so it’s probably best I leave it to him. Beehoover, who released their fourth album, The Devil and His Footmen(discussed here), on Kohl‘s label last fall, will begin a run of shows in the UK this weekend, playing alongside a host of that country’s up and coming heavy luminaries, including Undersmile, BongCauldron, Monolith Cult, Lords of Bastard and others.
It’s a heavy bunch of nights, and with Kohl‘s evident passion, the PR wire makes it something of an easy sell:
The gnarly riff-wrenching stoner rock duo Beehoover are back in a big way – whilst the world regains composure following the clout delivered on their recently released, and fourth full-length album The Devil And His Footmen (which you can stream in full here), the German drum and bass commanders have been preparing for their UK tour. Across nine days, Beehoover will travel far and wide, showcasing their hybrid, barking sludge – quite unlike anything you will have experienced before.
Who better to describe Beehoover’s musical creations than their label manager, Andreas Kohl? – “One of my most loved descriptions in music history for a tonal impact is Southern Lord’s comparison for Warhorse’s sound with the feeling of being beaten with a wet mattress. For Beehoover I could pack a gargantuan pile of descriptions on the table, ultimately I would describe my listening experience like being wrapped in plastic foil, unable to move but struck in awe facing an enormous T34, while a Stalin organ is shooting roses across the tundra, explosives that draw a dreamy coloured fireworks on the night sky.”
Kohl continues, “In the crowd, what you see is hair, just hair behind the drums and contrails from swirling drumsticks. Centred is one barefoot Urviech covering the room with noises you can’t escape from, breathing, drinking, eating and farting riffs in a quantity and variety that 15 bands could live and ride off for the next one hundred years. Rhythms, riffs, beats, songs, sounds – so emotional, glowing in urgency, blasting on your senses so that you get an overdose of endorphins just from watching this monstrous mother of all concerts, exploding like an earthquake that rips continents apart. Yes, this is what it sounds like: I love this band. Every single time I see them. I pity you if you’ve never had the chance – make your life complete and take the chance now. If there’s one band you’ve really got to see EVER – it’s these guys!”
TOUR DATES: Fri 21 March 2014 London – Black Heart (Ghoud, Henry Blacker & Bloody Mammals) Sat 22 March 2014 Cardiff – Moon Club (Thorun, We Are Romans and Haast’s Eagled) Sun 23 March 2014 Bristol – Mothers Ruin Mon 24 March 2014 Plymouth – Tiki Bar (Death Parish and Monolithian) Tue 25 March 2014 Oxford – The Wheatsheaf (Undersmile and Caravan Of Whores) Wed 26 March 2014 Salford – The Eagle Inn (Mask Of Bees and The Senton Bombs) Thu 27 March 2014 Edinburgh – Banshee Labyrinth (Lords Of Bastard and [[ Wall ]]) Fri 28 March 2014 Glasgow – 13th Note (Lords Of Bastard and Skeleton Gong) Sat 29 March 2014 Birmingham – Scruffy’s (Burden Of The Noose, Monolith Cult, Goat Leaf, Grey Widow, Wolfs Head, Bong Cauldron and Sealclubber)
Beehoover’s latest album, The Devil and His Footmen, is a swirl of raw, sultry tones and rumbling octaves that strike chords with braggadocio 70’s hard rock as much as it does the thunderous rumble of Black Cobra and the jutting angles of Unsane. Beehoover are at their most rocking here, tangling the long hair of the headbangers with all the genres of beard in one matted toupee of oddball rhythms and histrionic vocals. Beehoover buzz with eccentric electric – come along, grit your teeth and enjoy the sting.
Posted in Reviews on March 6th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
It’s a big world and there’s a lot to review in it, so I won’t do much to delay. This time around covers both coasts of the US as well as Europe and even Australia, proving once again that heavy knows no borders and seems to be at home wherever it goes. It’s a pretty varied batch this time as well, but should provide some fun along the way.
Billing themselves as “Seattle’s only rock duo” — which is charming if unlikely — guitarist/vocalist Ben Harwood and drummer Jeff Silva self-release their second album as Hobosexual (I see what you did there…) in the aptly-titled 12-tracker, II. It’s a record that brims with attitude from the chugging, semi-Melvinsian opening of “Switchblade Suburbia,” but there’s a depth of tone and swagger to back up the smacktalk in their songwriting. The 38-second “Ghettoblaster” is Hendrix-style feedback and soloing, playing directly into “Hostile Denim”‘s lead-obsessed Rolling Stones hook ‘n’ push. Topped off with striking artwork from Adam Burke of Fellwoods, IIproves very much of its Pacific Northwest origins — a magical land where everybody has a beard and they all listen to stoner rock — and while the tongue-in-cheek snark of “Sex Destroyer” might be over-the-top to some, Hobosexual avoid the minimalist aesthetic some duos use as a crutch for lazy songwriting, make old riffs new again and showcase some melodic depth in Harwood‘s vocal layering, positioning songs like “The Black Camaro Death” and the penultimate “BMX” highlights arguing against style over substance amid party-ready riffing and don’t-have-a-fuck-to-give panache. Their 2010 self-titled debut worked in similar stylistic parameters, but IIstrikes as more confident overall, and it’s a record that you’re either going to fall prey to its sleaze or shoot down early and go about your night. If the album’s a party, I feel at times like my invite must have gotten lost in the mail, but Hobosexual provide a decent reminder nonetheless that there are those capable of turning heavy rock into a good time and put it on the listener to ask why they should take it so seriously in the first place. FOAD: Fuck off and dance.
Strange things are afoot throughout Italian four-piece Midryasi‘s third album, Black, Blue and Violet. The multifaceted heavy outfit run a gamut from Pentagram-esque riff doom to Pink Floyd-infused progressive texturing, all the while keeping a clarity of sound that can likely be traced to the metallic roots of bassist/vocalist Convulsion, who aside from having played in DoomSword can be traced to a number of more extreme outfits. His brother, DoomSword vocalist Deathmaster, shows up on opener “The Counterflow,” but Black, Blue and Violet never goes quite so far into one subgenre or another, the keyboard work of Umberto Desanti always adding an edge of prog to whatever else might be happening, whether it’s the otherwise doomed “Diagonal” or the dramatic verses of the title-track. Released through My Graveyard Productions, Midryasi‘s third ultimately finds its atmospheric crux in an intelligent construction, but perhaps feels somewhat distant in its performance, coldly executed. That’s an inherent tradeoff for the complexity of its arrangements, maybe, and there’s something to be said in argument for the skillful calculation at work across these seven tracks that run smoothly with the underlying drum work of Sappah and fluid guitars of Paolo Paganhate and hit their high-point with the rumbling “The Nuclear Dog,” which provides the most memorable hook of the long-player and seems to revel most in the psychedelic and progressive weirdness that the whole album moves within. The six-and-a-half-minute “Hole of the Saturday Night” closes out with a heavy rock riff and vocal delivery from Convulsion that moves in some of the same (stone) circles as Venomous Maximus, though that’s likely a coincidence of common influence between the two, and with a smooth, consistent production, Midryasi wind up sounding most of all like a band working on its own level. And successfully.
Raucous Berlin six-piece Operators made an impression in 2012 with the unabashed new school stoner rock of their self-titled debut (review here) now a little older, a little wiser, a little more drunk, the band returns with Contact High, a record that wears its influences on its sleeve in much the same manner as the Satellite Beaver, Neume and Stonehenge patches grace the varsity jacket of the figure on the album’s cover. “Kiss of De Ath” resides at the end of side A of the eight-track/39-minute offering and offers some of Operators‘ most satisfying boogie as Konni‘s organ and the guitars of Jacky and Dirk align for an intricate but still-rolling groove of a midsection build while Stonehenge‘s Enni steps in as a guest singer, but it’s vocalist Eggat who makes the first impression on opener “Terra Ohm,” setting up a strong hook for the rest of Contact High to live up to. The album plays out unpretentious and riotous in kind, and while they haven’t necessarily settled down since their first outing, it’s easy enough to hear Operators as having solidified their approach somewhat. Konni‘s keys work just as well alongside the rhythm section of bassist Dän and drummer Säsh as with the guitars, and Eggat proves a formidable enough presence on cuts like “If I Burn,” “Bring on the Spice” (I don’t know whose guitar solo that is, but kudos) and the driving “Contact High” to reign the rest into cohesion. The six-and-a-half-minute “Arrows” shows a more subdued side that, somewhat surprisingly, never quite explodes into the noisy chicanery found elsewhere. Could it be that Operators are growing up right before our ears? I don’t know, but the results are fascinating and display more even potential from these Desertfest veterans.
Grand soundscaping, an underlying sense of ritual, and a pervasive experimental bent — it shouldn’t really be a surprise that Spain’s Pylar boasts some manner of allegiance to forward or at least side-to-side thinking doomers Orthodox and the avant extremists Blooming Látigo, but the unit’s Knockturne Records debut, Poderoso Se Alza en My, strikes as a decidedly more conceptual work, with one song spilling into the next, religious themes crossing through minimalist atmospheres and a periodic lurch emerging that’s as much a trip aurally as mentally. Two longer cuts, “El Pylar Se Ha Alzado” (13:49) and “Al Fin Te Contemplo Entre las Ruinas del Tiempo (Pentagrammaton)” (12:11) sandwich five not-quite-as-extended segments as the opener (the longest on the record; immediate points) and closer of the 68-minute behemoth, which one would be thoroughly mistaken to dub a “compact” disc. It is, instead, expansive and challenging, rife with droning tension, vague shouts in Spanish seeming to describe some torment either physical or spiritual amid art-jazz percussion in another dimension’s time signatures. Will not, will not, will not be for everyone, but Pylar‘s first is a fascinating and dense work that one could easily spend any number of months dissecting, only to still come up with an incomplete picture of its scope, and for those with a high tolerance for the experimental and indulgences of noise, the intense swell of “La Gran Luminaria” could easily prove essential as the culmination point for what seems to be an album-long drive toward enlightenment and the sundry terrors it might carry with it. If you think you’re bored of the mundane, Poderoso Se Alza en Myis ready to pull back the veil and toy for a while with what you used to think of as “your” consciousness.
I remain a sucker for Aussie heavy. System of Venus guitarist/vocalist/graphic designer Fatima Baši? gets into a doomly melodic range that reminds at times — as on “Dancing in Hell’s Garden” — of Alunah‘s Soph Day, but the rough edges in her guitar and Amanda‘s bass add a more distinct ’90s feel to the seven-track/36-minute proceedings on their full-length debut and first release, as the crunch in “Monster Ego” will further attest. Drummer Matt Lieber shows himself comfortable with the quick tempo changes in that song and elsewhere on the self-titled, self-released offering, and though the centerpiece “Dr. Dumb” works quickly to earn its position in the CD’s tracklist, ultimately the opener “Blackrock” and the closing duo of “Nothing” and “Beast” are the strongest statements the album has to make in showcasing the diversity nascent in System of Venus‘ approach, “Beast” rising to an apex that though satisfying feels somewhat shortlived in providing the payoff for the record as whole while “Nothing” holds to a quieter, brooding sentiment that plays off the foundational bassline of “Gannets Drive,” giving what might’ve otherwise easily turned out to be a demo an LP’s overarching flow and speaking to an early awareness of quality construction from the Melbourne trio, though “Gannets Drive” seems to cut out early, building to a hit that’s snapped mid-crash, so perhaps there remain some kinks to work out one way or another. All the same, taken as a whole, System of Venus‘ System of Venussatisfies as the debut of a band feeling out where they want to be sonically, and bodes well for where they might grow their sound somewhere between grunge, doom and heavy rock.
Leave a comment on this post and make sure your email is included in the box asking for it to win a vinyl copy of Black Space Riders‘ new album, D:REI. The giveaway will go until Friday, at which point I’ll pick a winner at random and notify that person via email. The record is 180g black double-vinyl and also includes the CD version of D:REI, which tops a full 78 minutes.
I like, whenever I’m able, to do giveaways. Free stuff is an automatic win, and in the case of Black Space Riders, all the better that someone gets acquainted with their far-ranging space metal. Their material has proven to be widely varied over the course of their two prior albums, and this one, which was released by the band in January, certainly follows suit, running a spectrum from driving riffs to ambient drones and always managing to keep a flow from song to song and a consistent level of intelligence throughout the varied atmospheres of their work.
The title D:REI, aside from hinting at the German word for “three,” stands for “Defiance,” “Ruins,” “Escape” and “Beyond” (presumably that’s a translation thing), the subheading under which each side of the 2LP arrives. Black Space Riders‘ ethic has to-date leaned toward the conceptual and narrative, and their third outing only pushes further, as you can hear on the Bandcamp player below.
Take a listen and leave a comment to enter into the giveaway. Good luck to all, and thanks for your continued support of this site. Black Space Riders‘ D:REIis available now as an independent release from the band with distribution from Cargo Records in their native Germany. More info at the links under the player.
Posted in Reviews on February 4th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Second week in a row I’m trying this, since the universe didn’t seem to collapse on itself after the first one — unless you count how bad I fucked up lineups; they’re fixed now. Once again we cover some pretty wide ground geographically and stylistically (also alphabetically!), so let’s get to it:
Buddha Sentenza, South Western Lower Valley Rock
Released last year as their debut on World in Sound Records, the 14-track full-length South Western Lower Valley Rock is Buddha Sentenza‘s follow-up to 2009′s exploratory Mode 0909 (review here). The 46-minute outing from the German instrumental fivesome pairs longer pieces like the classic rocking “Arrested Development” (5:04) and prog-jamming “The Monkey Stealing the Peaches” (2:49) off of brief transitional interludes taking their name from letters in the Greek alphabet. I’m not sure what “A-B-G-D-E-Z-I” is meant to indicate — the tracks being “Alpha,” “Beta,” “Gamma” and so on — but they pair remarkably well with the other pieces, and the emergent feel is not unlike that of My Sleeping Karma‘s 2012 outing, Soma, methodologically as well as aesthetically. Perhaps the highlight of South Western Lower Valley Rockis its longest component, “Debris Moon,” which in just under nine minutes weaves nighttime atmospherics and heavy psych ambience into what’s still a subdued track, never quite paying off the tension it creates until the subsequent “Epsilon” shifts into the aforementioned “The Monkey Stealing the Peaches,” giving even more of a clue that Buddha Sentenza are working in a whole-album mindset, rather than thinking of South Western Lower Valley Rockin terms of its individual tracks. The album makes sense on this level, and on CD presents an immersive, linear listening experience that casts a deceptively wide stylistic berth between keyboard-infused krautrock worship, heavy rock and psychedelia, offering fluid motion from in less skilled hands could easily come across as disjointed elements. They make that My Sleeping Karma comparison almost too easy, but the interludes are ultimately essential in creating the flow, as the ease of movement between the desert crunch of “Tzameti,” “Eta” and Eastern-vibing closer “Psychonaut” underscores. Some of Buddha Sentenza‘s best moments are in playing styles off each other.
Chrome, Half Machine from the Sun: The Lost Tracks from ’79-’80
While the liner notes tell of their having been designated “too accessible” at the time, the 18 songs on Chrome‘s Half Machine from the Sun are still plenty weird. As the title indicates, the release is a compilation of yet-unissued cuts from 1979-1980, the era of Half Machine Lip Moves and Red Exposure for Chrome‘s key collaboration between guitarist/vocalist Helios Creed and drummer/vocalist Damon Edge and arguably the point at which that incarnation of the band’s far-out blend of proto-punk, New Wave, psychedelic rock and experimental pop was at its most potent. Sure enough, Half Machine from the Sun crisscrosses genres on an almost per-track basis, be it the weirdo electro stomp of “Looking for Your Door,” the space rock noise wash of “Morrison” or “Sub Machine,” which turns an almost manic drum beat into the foundation of an otherworldly guitar and vocal exploration. They can and will go anywhere, as “Charlie’s Little Problem” and the creeper keyboards of “Ghost” showcase, but if there’s anything tying Half Machine from the Sun(which is out through King of Spades Records following a successful crowdfunding campaign to have it pressed to CD) together, it’s the fact that nothing is tying it together. Tape loops, analog synth, bizarre vocals, structure out the window — and yes, this is still the “accessible” side of Chrome — these songs nonetheless leave any number of memorable impressions, even if that impression winds up in an overarching sense of “God damn this band was weird.” Gloriously so. Chrome, under the direction of Helios Creed, have reportedly been at work on new material, so maybe all the better to give fans advance notice via this collection, which provides 73 minutes of alternate universe brainfodder to sate the curious and the passionate alike. A fan piece, but a welcome one.
The self-released debut EP from New Jersey-based progressive black metallers Hercyn, Magda, arrives in a full jewel case — the pressing is limited to 100 copies — wrapped in twine. I guess that’s meant to take the place of shrinkwrap, and in that, it’s certainly a more natural-feeling option. Magda‘s namesake track is a 24-minute blend of Euro-doom melancholy, blackened gurgles, grand riffing and ambient weight from the Jersey City trio of guitarist Michael DiCiania, guitarist/vocalist Ernest Wawiorko and bassist Tony Stanziano. About the only thing holding back the EP’s organic vibe is the fact that the drums are programmed, which gives the complex, ambitious “Magda” a mechanical base for what’s otherwise a relatively human sound; the guitars are buzzsaw sharp, but not necessarily without tonal warmth, and particularly in blastbeaten stretches, one almost wants something less precise to go along with the rawness in those guitars, as well as in the bass and Wawiorko‘s vocals. Nonetheless, as lead and rhythm layers intertwine past “Magda”‘s midpoint, there’s beauty in the dismal and a sense of the potential in Hercyn to fluidly cross genre boundaries even more than they already are. That lead is well plotted and sustained, and tempo and chug vary as the song reaches and moves beyond its apex in the second half, with the band offering a bit of Enslaved and Woods of Ypres influence in the interplay of keys and strings. I don’t know if they’ll try to find an actual drummer — for a first release, Magdahardly seems half-assed in its presentation, so maybe this is it; I hear industrial is on its way back — but Hercyn have started with a work of striking intricacy, and prove wholly comfortable in the longer form. An impressive and hopefully portentous debut.
Acid fuzz like a field you could lay down and lose an afternoon in is the contraband trafficked by L.A. freakouts The Warlocks, whose amorphous sonic ooze is every bit in mirror to their lineup, which has seen no fewer than 20 cats come and go and stick around over the course of the last decade and a half. With guitarist/vocalist/keyboardist/bassist Bobby Hecksher as the core around which the eight tracks of the 40-minute Skull Worship swirl, the oft-shoegazing psychedelia isn’t given to complete chaos, but man, The Warlocks go way, way out and don’t seem overly concerned with how they’re getting back. Joining Hecksher for the adventure are guitarist JC Rees, guitarist Earl V. Miller, bassist Chris DiPino and drummer George Serrano, as well as Tanya Hayden, who stops by to add some cello to “Silver and Plastic,” which sounds like what I always secretly hoped Radiohead would deliver instead of the pretentious mopey schlock they put out until they decided they were too smart for albums or whatever. The Warlocks, who had a couple records out on Tee Pee before jumping to Zap Banana/Cargo Records for Skull Worship, at times call to mind the very, very British moments of Crippled Black Phoenix, but then the psychedelic wash of “Chameleon” or “It’s a Hard Fall” takes hold and the whole vibe is groovier, thicker, more multi-colored molasses, whatever other attitude it might convey. The album hits its stride just when you think it might start to drag, and the closing “Eyes Jam” sounds like its backwards cymbals, feedback and drones could just go on into perpetuity, like if the record never returned and the loop kept repeating. Some heady moments, but should be right on the level for those properly tuned in.
Immediately and throughout much of the duration of Polish psychedelic pop rockers The White Kites‘ debut LP, Missing (out on Deep Field Records), the vibe is Beatles. Lots and lots of Beatles, from the Sgt. Pepper-style organ circus swirl of opener “Arrival” on through the McCartney piano bounce of the penultimate “The Missing.” It is a 50-minute album, and much of the lighthearted atmosphere it creates stems from its modern interpretation of the legendary Liverpudlians in their psych era. Hard to rag on a band for digging The Beatles — it’s like yelling at a fish for breathing underwater. And as a seven-piece that includes flute, recorders, keyboards, citole, a variety of percussion, clarinet, ukulele and so on, The White Kites aren’t lacking for sonic diversity — vocalist Sean Palmer has quite a task in tying the album together — but as intricate and progressive as Missing gets, it’s still taking the Lennon/McCartney byway to get there. The corresponding songwriting team for The White Kites seems to be Palmer and bassist/keyboardist Jakub Lenarczyk (presented as Lenarczyk/Palmer), and they’re more than capable in their charge, but hints of early Pink Floyd and King Crimson seem to be waiting to emerge from “Turtle’s Back” and “Beyond the Furthest Star,” like they’re trying to get out and be more prominent in the band’s sound but are overpowered by the traceable poppiness. That doesn’t stop Missing from being enjoyable — unless you’ve never liked The Beatles, maybe — or “Beyond the Furthest Star” from being the highlight, it just means that The White Kites have room to shift the sonic balance should they choose to do so their next time around. Until then, impeccable production and imaginative arrangements throughout give an impression of a band just beginning their discovery.
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 27th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Death might sound angry, but you can’t really say the same for Deaf Proof‘s forthcoming CD EP, which is due out March 1. Death Sounds Angry basks in heavy psych tones, catchy vocal lines and hypnotic repetition, all of which play out to fascinating effect on the 18-minute centerpiece of the three-track release, “Origin of Pain.” The German trio have had a couple demos out to this point, and Death Sounds Angry will be their first offering as a three-piece. They’ve made the whole thing available to stream via Bandcamp (player below), and as you can hear for yourself, the configuration seems to be working for them.
See and hear:
Deaf Proof “Death Sounds Angry” EP to be released in March
“Good things come to those who wait. We finally hold the (digital) end result in our hands: The Death Sounds Angry EP is finally done and will be available in march as download and hard copy (digipak).
We finished recording, mix and mastering a few weeks ago. It took Johannes (Kopfüber) some time to finish the the cover artwork, because he was very busy. But take a look at that piece of work! It’s great, isn’t it? We are completely stoked! We recorded three different songs with three different vibes.
Look out for the EP and our new merch in march! Prelisten at Bandcamp in its entirety!”
Deaf Proof is J. Fredo (v/g), JP (b) and Pedro (d). Deaf Proof plays psychedelic fuzz.
The Band was formed in late 2006 by Pedro (d), Holger (b) and Fredo (v/g), later reinforced by Til (g).
From that point of time they started jamming and working out their ideas. In autumn 2007 the band split up with guitar-player Til who was replaced by Phil. In early 2008 the band decided to substitute Holger and to search for a new bassplayer. But nevertheless Deaf Proof recorded their first demo that was released in April 2008. The bass on the demo was played by Phil. Deaf Proof found the new four stringer Angus in june 2008. In december the band unfortunately had to search for a new bassplayer again and in march 2009 JP joined the gang. Together they recorded a 2-track live-demo in july. The combo recorded the “Beyond the Orange Door Demo” from autumn 2009 till winter 2012 and released it in april 2013. In april Phil also left band, but Deaf Proof continue as three-piece.
Since 2010 the band did some local shows with amongst others Stonewall Noise Orchestra (Swe), Snarf, Basel (Ch) and the Small Stone Artists Abrahma (Fr) and Mother of God (Swe). In 2013 Deaf Proof will expand their live radius over whole germany and further.
Posted in Reviews on January 21st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Because it’s the issue at hand and the record which German heavy psych innovators Colour Haze have chosen to focus on at the moment by reissuing it through guitarist/vocalist Stefan Koglek‘s Elektrohasch Schallplatten on CD and limited 2LP, the temptation is strong to read 2002′s Ewige Blumenkraftas a major turning point for the band or a stylistic landmark in their development. In truth, that turn came two album’s prior with their third outing, 1999′s Periscope, which departed from the brooding noise rock of their 1995 Chopping Machinedebut (discussed here) and the Tool-influenced prog metal of the subsequent self-release, Seven(the Great White Whale of my CD collection; someday I’ll own a copy and gaze upon it with pride for the remainder of my days), in favor of the tonally rich desert atmosphere they’ve spent the last 15 years developing and making their own, serving as a chief influence for European heavy psychedelia and underground heavy rock along the way. If nothing else, Ewige Blumenkraft, taken in the context of its original 2002 release on Monster Zero Records, showcases just how pivotal Colour Haze have been to the last decade-plus in the European scene. It’s a cliche to say about a reissue, but if this CD came in the mail as a brand new release today, I might say it was influenced by Colour Haze, but there’s no way in hell I’d call it dated.
So why reissue Ewige Blumenkraft? Colour Haze have never seemed the type to feed their egos — I won’t argue against a penchant for musical self-indulgence; they’re jammers at heart and even this earlier work is 74 minutes long, so that kind of thing is inevitable if justified by the material itself — so it hardly seems like a, “Check us out, we were here first” kind of situation. More likely it’s just that Ewige Blumenkraft has been out of print for some time, which, speaking as a fan of the band, is enough excuse for me. In the 12 years since it first surfaced, a new generation of heavy rockers has come of age and for them, the chance to revisit an album like this on vinyl would be like discovering the language from which your own was derived. By 2002, Koglek, bassist Philipp Rasthofer and drummer Manfred Merwald had solidified as a formidable, dynamic trio with their own sonic character, not quite as exploratory as they’d become starting with 2003′s Los Sounds de Krautsand moving up through 2004′s Colour Hazeand 2006′s Tempelen route to the mature, masterful approach they’d show on their most recent outings, 2008′s Alland 2012′s She Said(review here), but not far off. In the charming stoner straightforwardness of “Freakshow,” they set a lighthearted tone for Ewige Blumenkraftand the roots of nearly everything they’d accomplish in the 10 years that followed can be heard throughout the rest of the 10 tracks included here.
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 10th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
There’s little I’m going to argue against less than free psychedelia, and if you’re in the mood, German imprint World in Sound have a new compilation called Voyage through the Agesthat plots a pretty ambitious cosmic course. The mission? To summarize the relationship between modern psychedelia and that of the earliest days of the movement, or as they put it on the cover of the thing, to “Witness Yesterday Becoming Today!”
It’s a cool idea, and they’ve made it easy with each included song having not only the year of its release right in the title, but also the artist/band’s country of origin, so you get a sense of flavor not only of eras, but different places in Europe and the US and how mind-expansion was treated where and when. In both modern stuff like Doctor Cyclops and Buddha Sentenza and classic-era inclusions like Cosmic Dealer and Mystic Siva, they do about as much as one could ask without just making a 60-hour release that actually includes everything, and again, when it comes to free psychedelia, you’re not going to hear me complain.
That Doctor Cyclops is especially notable for being a 2014 — i.e. forthcoming — release. It’s one of three on there, alongside Prisma Circus and The Rising Sun Experience, who just happen to lead the thing off. Funny how that works out. Seems the label get to give a little glimpse at the future as well as the past and the present here, so I guess Voyage through the Ages lives up to its title all the more:
World In Sound invites you to a trip in time from 1969 till today with 13 international heavy psychedelic artists from the WIS catalogue.
Feel free to download and share this timeless and mindblowing 72 min piece of music!
Artists include The Lone Crows, Prisma Circus, Orcus Chylde, Cosmic Dealer and many more…
Both of these are pretty badass and I didn’t figure anyone would complain, so I thought I’d put up the posters for Desertfest next year. Both London and Berlin have come out in the last couple days — you’d almost think it wasn’t a coincidence! — and though each has its own personality like the fests themselves, I think looking at either you know you’re getting a heavy show. Maybe I’m biased.
Malleus handled the London poster, and Ammo, from Belgium, the Berlin one. For Malleus, these are pretty regular themes — their affection for redheads goes way back and here brings to mind some of the exploits of Fanny Jo Stingray, may she rest in piece — and with Ammo’s the pencil grays and insane level of detail bring to mind a black and white take on Earth‘s The Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull, though obviously the color/lack thereof makes a huge difference.
Check them out and see what you think:
Desertfest London 2014 Poster by Malleus
We are pleased to be able to unveil Desertfest 2014′s awesome limited addition screen print poster, created by the equally awesome Malleus. Malleus is a poster art trio featuring Poia and Urlo of UFOMAMMUT and we just couldn’t help get them involved again. The prints will be available next week to pre order at £20 and of course will be available at the festival.
We are also excited to be announcing the Human Disease/When When Planets Collide stage on Thursday. Expect a heavy underworld line up…
Posted in Whathaveyou on December 17th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
True, they may have started out talking about stoned bikers in space on their 2010 self-titled debut (review here), but by the time they got around to 2012′s Light is the New Black (review here), things became much more complicated. The band’s third album, D:REI, is a double-vinyl and each side is subtitled representing a letter in the acronym title, so I guess it’s probably safe to assume that trend toward complication continues unabated. Fair enough.
“Drei” is also “three” in German, so the name of D:REIworks on that level as well. The album is due out Jan. 24, and the band has premiered the track “The God-Survivor” in a new lyric video that accompanied the following announcement on its trip along the PR wire:
New album by BLACK SPACE RIDERS soon
“D:REI”, the new album by Germany´s BLACK SPACE RIDERS is going to be released on 24 january 2014. The album contains almost 80 minutes of new music. The band just shared the coverartwork and the tracklist with their fans.
We have decided to keep our independency and all our rights, meaning the album will be released under our own label BLACK SPACE RECORDS. It will be distributed by Cargo Records Germany and different national distributors and mailorders in other countries as well as by ourselves.
We will play three exclusive record-release-shows in Germany: 24.01.2014 Münster / Gleis 22 30.01.2014 Hamburg / Hafenklang 31.01.2014 Köln / MTC Cologne
More tourdates in spring will follow soon.
D : Defiance 1. Stare At The Water 2. Bang Boom War (Outside My Head) 3. Rising From The Ashes Of Our World
R – Ruins 1. Give Gravitation To The People 2. Way To Me 3. Temper Is Rising 4. The God-Survivor
E – Escape 1. I See 2. Leave 3. Space Angel (Memitim)
I – Beyond 1. Major Tom Waits 2. Letter To A Young One 3. The Everlasting Circle Of Infinity
Posted in audiObelisk on December 2nd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Generally, a split release is a good way for one act to build a bridge to another. When bands team up, it’s not just about putting their own material out there, but also about joining forces with a community and saying, “This represents us too.” One imagines that if there was anything drawing British sludge riffers Lazarus Blackstar and German post-metallurgists Black Shape of Nexus together, it wasn’t so much the desire to build a bridge as the shared affinity for laying waste to infrastructure in general. This coming February, they’ll issue two sides of sonic oblivion via Alerta Antifascista Records that highlights both the commonalities and the differences between the two acts.
In the case of Lazarus Blackstar, their two extended inclusions — “Command and Control” and “Whispering through Broken Teeth” — continue the pummeling course that was found on their 2012 third full-length, Hymns for the Cursed. The British outfit will mark a decade under their moniker in 2014 (they started out earlier as Khang), and the 10 years of experience bleed into both these tracks in thick tones, deviations into deathly gurgles, and the glee with which the five-piece seem to jump to either side of an extreme sensibility. Concocting a massive lurch in “Command and Control,” they move a bit faster initially in “Whispering through Broken Teeth,” but though they slow down later, the even bigger shift is in the inclusion of Mellotron sounds in the song’s second half along with cleaner, chanting vocals.
The 11-minute “Honor Found in Delay” from Black Shape of Nexus has the distinction of being not only a ridiculously clever reference — you’ll recall the name of the last Neurosis record — but also the longest song present, and the atmosphere and effects live up to both the name and the allusion. There’s a linear build throughout and a near-constant feeling of propulsion that emerges, reminding some of Souls at Zero‘s unmitigated intensity, while “Always and Only” a more straightforward root in its undulating noise rock groove, like the creeping moments in latter-day Unsane, and builds to a suitably bombastic, feedback-drenched conclusion, throaty screams seeming to be swallowed by the distorted morass from which they emerged as a rising swirl and concluding sample from 1984 takes hold.
As a conclusion, that one at least fits with the band and label’s stated anti-fascist stance — “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face, forever” — and given the melee of noise preceding, it’s an image that works on multiple levels. It might take a few listens for the full brunt of the Lazarus Blackstar and Black Shape of Nexus tracks to sink in, but considering the split doesn’t come out for another two months, there’s plenty of time. Check out all four songs on the player below, and please enjoy:
Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!
Lazarus Blackstar and Black Shape of Nexus‘ split is set for release Feb. 13, 2014, on Alerta Antifascista Records in an initial pressing of 500 (100 grey, 100 white, 300 black) 180g vinyl with heavy stock cover and obi strip. Info and updates at the links.