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Samsara Blues Experiment Post One with the Universe Teaser Clip

Posted in Bootleg Theater on February 24th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

SAMSARA BLUES EXPERIMENT

It’s only a minute-long teaser clip, but there are still some things to learn from the first actual glimpse at the new and much-awaited fourth album from Berlin heavy psych trio Samsara Blues Experiment. For one thing, the title. They’ve given the record the ambitious name One with the Universe, and in unfurling that alone, the band speak to their spiritual and cosmic leanings that have been at their root since the days of their 2008 demo (review here), which they’ve continued to refine ever since, and are among the defining features of their approach.

Then we get to the actual audio of the thing itself. I haven’t heard any full songs from the record or gotten word of titles, but we’re treated to a moment of key-laced jamming, a laid back rhythmic bounce given bluesy flavor that makes a comfortable-seeming bed for a few vocal lines. The first burst of guitar tone is raw, and the drums and bass also feel suitably natural in a way that has me wondering just how much improvisation is going to be a factor across One with the Universe. That’s not to say there isn’t a sense of direction — unless I’m mistaken, it’s Christian Peters handling guitar and keys, and since they’re both going at the same time, some layering must’ve taken place at some point — but Hans Eiselt‘s bass fills feel remarkably organic in how it adds to the overall fluidity and Thomas Vedder‘s drumming accents the guitar and keys with classic-style dynamics.

Bottom line? I was looking forward to hearing the new Samsara Blues Experiment. A lot. I still am. A lot.

Check out the teaser below, followed by the three-piece’s upcoming tour dates in South America and Europe. One with the Universe will be out this May on Electric Magic Records.

Enjoy:

Samsara Blues Experiment, One with the Universe teaser

samsara-blues-experiment-one-with-the-universe-banner

4th SBE-album is coming…

Movie scenes from “The Blue Bird” (1918).

SAMSARA BLUES EXPERIMENT LIVE DATES:
SOUTH AMERICA TOUR – MARCH 2017:
03/02 – Santiago, CL @ La Capilla
03/03 – Buenos Aires, AR @ The Roxy Live
03/04 – Montevideo, UR @ Bluzz Live
03/05 – Córdoba, AR @ Refugio Guernica
03/08 – Porto Alegre, BR @ RIFF.E Bar
03/09 – Florianópolis, BR @ Célula Showcase
03/10 – Belo Horizonte, BR @ Stonehenge Rock Bar
03/11 – São Paulo, BR @ Inferno Club
03/12 – Rio de Janeiro, BR @ Hocus Pocus Fest

EUROPEAN SHOWS:
25.03. Roma (IT), Defrag
31.03. Osnabrück, Westwerk
01.04. München, Under The Black Moon Festival
02.04. Leipzig, Werk 2
22.04. Barcelona, Riff Ritual Festival
29.04. Berlin, Desertfest
30.04. London (UK), Desertfest
12.05. Berlin, Zukunft am Ostkreuz (Stummfilm-Special)
13.05. Berlin, Zukunft am Ostkreuz (Albumrelease Parteeey)
14.05. Hamburg, Hafenklang
15.05. Wiesbaden, Schlachthof
16.05. Bielefeld, Forum
17.05. Nijmegen (NL), Doornroosje
18.05. Nantes (FR), Le Ferrailleur
19.05. Paris (FR), Backstage
20.05. Köln, Underground
11.08. Finkenbach, Finki Festival

Samsara Blues Experiment on Thee Facebooks

Samsara Blues Experiment Tumblr

Samsara Blues Experiment on Instagram

Samsara Blues Experiment on Bandcamp

Electric Magic Records on Thee Facebooks

Electric Magic Records on Bandcamp

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Valborg to Release Endstrand April 7

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 24th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

valborg

Last heard from the 2016 two-songer Werwolf (review here), which for my money was one of the best short releases of the year, dark German metallers Valborg are set to return in April with a new full-length titled Endstrand that will see release on Prophecy Productions/Lupus Lounge. Their prior outing, Romantik, was something of a gem that I caught onto well after the fact, but with Endstrand will mark their sixth record and each one seems to be a different atmosphere from the last, so I’ll look forward to finding out what’s in store this time around. I always feel guilty for not being immediately on top of good albums, hearing something months after the fact and kicking myself for not having reviewed it at the time. Not gonna miss this one, is the bottom line.

The PR wire brings art and details:

valborg endstrand

VALBORG to Release New Album, ‘Endstrand’, April 7

German Trio Dishes Cerebral, Punishing Metal via Dark New LP

German ensemble of dread VALBORG has signed with underground indie Lupus Lounge / Prophecy Productions. The self-described “German metal monster” will release its new full-length LP, Endstrand, on April 7.

Championed by Celtic Frost / Triptykon architect Tom G. Warrior as “abundantly original and unique “ and “a mixture of Bohren und der Club of Gore, early Black Sabbath and Hellhammer”, VALBORG creates dense, inventive music that escapes categorization. The trio’s blunt, forceful songs are at once raw and primitive yet hold a nihilistic sophistication that forges clouds of nightmarish atmosphere, giving them a narcotic, dreamlike feel that very few bands achieve.

Produced by Markus Siegenhort (Lantlôs), Endstrand is a 13 song end-time vision hosting apparitions of empty beaches, bunkers in the dunes, novel biological phenomenon, washed up artifacts, noise distorted signals and omnipresent whirring, all of which float above the backdrop of VALBORG’s utterly barbaric death crunch. Forging “brutal and wasted, yet powerful” music, VALBORG unleashes sound as scorched-earth policy on Endstrand, delivering an immersive mysteriousness and darkness that has earned the group the right to be called one of Europe’s most exciting extreme metal bands.

“Working with Prophecy now feels natural and good to us,” comments VALBORG bassist Jan Buckard. “We’re looking forward to a pleasant time together.”

Track listing:

1.) Jagen
2.) Blut am Eisen
3.) Orbitalwaffe
4.) Beerdigungsmaschine
5.) Stossfront
6.) Bunkerluft
7.) Geisterwürde
8.) Alter
9.) Plasmabrand
10.) Ave Maria
11.) Atompetze
12.) Strahlung
13.) Exodus

https://www.facebook.com/valborgband/
https://zeitgeister.bandcamp.com/
http://us.prophecy.de/artists/valborg/
https://www.facebook.com/prophecyproductions/
https://twitter.com/ProphecyProd

Valborg, Werwolf (2016)

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Desertfest Berlin 2017: Elephant Tree, Avon, Domkraft, Bellhound Choir and Desert Mountain Tribe Added

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 21st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

desertfest-berlin-2017

Can we talk honestly about Desertfest Berlin 2017 for a minute? You want to know the terrible truth? Of course you do. You love terrible truths. The terrible truth is I should’ve gone to this fucking festival years ago. I should’ve been there when Gozu went from London to Berlin. I should’ve tagged along with Lo-Pan on their European run. I should be campaigning to go over and embed myself with Lowrider or somebody this year, and even now I’d be about four years late in getting there. At least. Stupid. No money, no time. My loss. Always.

These lineups get stronger and stronger and I sit my fucking cubicle and daydream. That’s what happens. That’s the terrible truth. I’m gonna miss Desertfest Berlin again this year, and London, and Freak Valley, and Duna Jam and Desertfest Belgium and Athens, and Keep it Low and the fests Heavy Psych Sounds is throwing, and a bunch of cool shit in the US — Desert Generator, all that stuff happening in Colorado, Montana, Oregon, the Days of Darkness this fall in Baltimore — because basically I suck. There you have it. The terrible truth. I’m terrible.

Oh yeah, and Desertfest Berlin 2017 has new lineup adds. Here they are:

desertfest-berlin-2017-elephant-tree

As promised, here come 5 new bands that we are proud to add to the DesertFest Berlin 2017 line-up! On Friday 28th, Desert Mountain Tribe (Uk), Elephant Tree (Uk) & Bellhound Choir (Dk). On Saturday 29th Domkraft (Swe) and on Sunday 30th, Avon Desert Rock (Usa). 3-day passes and Saturday tickets are sold out, but we still have a few for Friday and Sunday! Hurry up if you want to be part of this year’s Desertfest Berlin: http://www.desertfest.de/tickets-desertfest-berlin

Desert Mountain Tribe got off to a flying start with early standout track ‘Coming Down’, which was featured on Reverb Conspiracy Volume 2. The band quickly progressed to perform at leading festivals within the psych community and finally released their debut album “ Either That Or The Moon” in the spring of 2016 to a wealth of positive notices. They are now about to release new material…

Desert Rock trio Avon is Alfredo Hernández (Kyuss, Queens of the Stone Age, Yawning Man), James Childs (Airbus, Little Villains) and Charles Pasarell (WAXY). They made their debut early in 2016 with “Mad Marco”, a full-length collection distinct in its still-inimitable Californian style. The music is psychedelic, raw, melodic and has something to say. So if you like heavy desert rock, then you have come to the right place. They will be back with new tunes in April.

Elephant Tree are a relatively new band blasting a combination of ballsy blues rock and heavy riffs, who, after cutting their teeth in the London metal scene, have established a place within the current growing Stoner Metal genre. Their self-tilted sophomore released in April 2016 is spaced out, bizarre, unafraid to expand what doom can be, and featured in many “top of 2016” lists… You guys don’t know them yet, check it out now!

Bellhound Choir is songwriter, singer and guitarist Christian Hede Madsen (ex Pet The Preacher). He released his debut album “Imagine The Crackle” last year, and is now about to release his second effort, “Worried Kid”: a contemporary blues album dealing with the struggles and winding roads of the soul… A record comprised of songs in their most basic form, without filter, without vanity; songs that leads the way into a very human universe, that will unfold, as one gives back.

Domkraft, whose name combines the Swedish “DOM” for judgement and “KRAFT” for power, blasts forth towering dirges of annihilating doom, mindbending psychedelia, and hypnotic minimalism. Their first full-length “The End of Electricity” was released in November 2016 and is a spacious yet crushing mix of grinding riffs, syrupy warmth, blistering power and inexorable motion. Check out their unique vibe as soon as possible !

Also confirmed for our 2017 edition: SLEEP, SAINT VITUS, JOHN GARCIA BAND, BONGZILLA, SAMSARA BLUES EXPERIMENT, MARS RED SKY, STONED JESUS, LOWRIDER, FARFLUNG, WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM, DEATH ALLEY, TOUNDRA, MAMMOTH MAMMOTH, 1000MODS, SUMA, RUBY THE HATCHET, ECSTATIC VISION, THE COSMIC DEAD, TUBER, SATAN’S SATYRS, PONTIAK, WUCAN, GIOBIA, DUEL, GOLD, VENOMOUS MAXIMUS, THE WELL, GLITTER WIZARD, BASK, ODD COUPLE, RIFF FIST, TSCHAIKA 21/16 + more acts still to be unveiled.

http://www.desertfest.de/tickets
https://www.facebook.com/DesertfestBerlin
http://woolheads.com/shop-2/festivalmerchandise/desertfest-berlin-2016-early-bird-ticket-action-1/
https://shop3.ticketscript.com/channel/html/get-products/rid/4MGC3S6H/eid/327518/validity/any_day/language/en

Elephant Tree, “Attack of the Altaica” Live, Feb. 8, 2017

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Colour Haze Set March and May Release Dates for In Her Garden

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 16th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

German heavy psych forerunners Colour Haze have reportedly given their new album, In Her Garden, May 17 vinyl release date. They’re set to tour next month with My Sleeping Karma on a run presented by, among others, this site, and will reportedly have CDs on hand for that run. Cover art for the impending 2LP release, which of course will be out on their own Elektrohasch Schallplatten has surfaced, along with some minor particulars from a release page at Clear Spot Distribution, linked below. Thanks to Noel Oxford for bringing the art to my attention.

Colour Haze‘s last studio album, To the Highest Gods We Know (review here), was released late in 2014 and represented something of a stripping down of the processes and grandeur shown on 2012’s She Said (review here), which like In Her Garden, was a double-record. Whether or not that portends anything in terms of the sonic direction of the new material, I wouldn’t guess. Colour Haze have never failed to move forward stylistically from one release to the next, so just about the only safe bet to make is that whatever they wind up doing across the 75-minute release, it’ll be their own.

Info is pretty minimal at this point, but here’s what I’ve been able to find so far, as well as those tour dates again in case you want to book tickets, flights, and so on:

colour haze in her garden

COLOUR HAZE – IN HER GARDEN (2LP)

Label: ELEKTROHASCH
Release date: 15/05/2017

The 2017 full-length by the German psych heads offers approximately 75 minutes of out-there rock sounds. This DOUBLE-LP on 180-gram vinyl is presented in a gatefold sleeve.

colour haze my sleeping karma tourColoured Karma Tour 2017: My Sleeping Karma + Colour Haze
16.03. Cologne, Live Music Hall
17.03. UK – London, The Garage
18.03. BEL – Leuven, Het Depot
19.03. NL – Nijmegen, Doornroosje
20.03. F- Paris, Divan Du Monde
21.03. CH – Pratteln, Z7
22.03. Munich, Feierwerk
23.03. Saarbrücken, Garage
24.03. Darmstadt, Centralstation
25.03. Hamburg, Markthalle
26.03. Berlin, Astra
27.03. Hannover, Faust
28.03. Leipzig, Werk 2
29.03. Nürnberg, Hirsch
30.03. A- Vienna, Arena
31.03. A – Graz, PPC
01.04. Stuttgart, JH Hallschlag

http://colourhaze.de/
http://elektrohasch.de/
http://www.clear-spot.nl/item/443580/colour_haze_in_her_garden.html

Colour Haze, “To the Highest Gods We Know”

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Stoned from the Underground 2017: Pentagram, Acid King, Mothership, King Buffalo and Samavayo Added

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 13th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Feels like a given to me, but obviously I’m incredibly interested to see King Buffalo added to the lineup for Stoned from the Underground 2017 this July in Germany. That’s not to take anything away from Pentagram, Acid King or Mothership — also US-based acts — or from Berlin’s Samavayo, whom I also dig a great deal, but King Buffalo issued my pick for the best debut of 2016 in the form of Orion (review here), and the confirmation of their appearance among the hallowed many at Stoned from the Underground — the aforementioned, as well as Elder, SasquatchAll Them WitchesMonolord, SteakCJ Ramone, and so on — is the first confirmation of their going to Europe at all, let alone the timing of the trip. They were a band I was rooting for even before they appeared at The Obelisk All-Dayer this past August. It’s nice to see them making good things happen.

And again, check out the company they’re keeping as they go. Stoned from the Underground is of course one of the longer-running Euro heavy fests, but the 2017 lineup feels particularly high-grade thus far. I’ll continue to keep an eye out as others get added and do my best to update as we get closer to summer. I get a pretty strong sense a certain youth-minded trio from Australia are going to show up.

Till then, here’s the lineup and links:

pentagram

Happy to announce some more bands for the Stoned From The Underground 2017 Festival: Pentagram, Acid King, King Buffalo, mothership and samavayo to announce. The 2017 stoned from the underground is FETT.

Lineup so far (more tba):
Acid King
All Them Witches
Cj Ramone
EARTH SHIP
Elder
Karma to Burn
King Buffalo
Monolord
Mothership
Pentagram (official)
Samavayo
Sasquatch
Steak
ZEKE

Get your tickets here: http://www.sftu.de/pages/raquo-tickets.php

The Stoned From The Underground 2017 takes place from July 13th until July 15th 2017.

The first STONED FROM THE UNDERGROUND took place in 2001…the festival offers a platform for diverse kinds of bands within the underground and beyond. The STONED FROM THE UNDERGROUND is a pure scene festival…a festival made by fans for fans.

https://www.facebook.com/stonedfromtheundergroundfestival
http://www.sftu.de/
https://www.instagram.com/stonedfromtheunderground

King Buffalo, Live at The Obelisk All-Dayer 2016

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Samsara Blues Experiment Confirm May Album Release; Announce More European Touring

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 7th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Have I mentioned yet how much I’ve enjoyed watching the 2017 resurgence of German heavy psych rockers Samsara Blues Experiment take shape? I’d hope at least the sheer amount of posting I’ve done about it thus far would give some indication, but if not, it’s been one of my favorite aspects of this year so far, and no, I haven’t actually heard anything of their impending fourth album yet. A May release date has been confirmed — in all-caps, no less — by the Berlin trio, and they’ve just announced another round of European touring, this time alongside Kaleidobolt, to go with their previously-noted dates in South America and Germany, as well as slots at fests far and wide.

They give some indication below there might be more still to come, which is fair since as you’ll note a lot of this takes place before the record actually hits, but almost entirely write off the possibility of a return trip to the US. Sad and understandable both. I’ve wanted to talk to band-frontman Chris Peters about their experiences here for the last couple years and I’m hoping an interview for the upcoming LP provides that opportunity. We’ve got some time yet before the release, but needless to say I’ve already been bugging him about it. “Send me your record,” and so forth.

Here’s the latest from the band. The shows with Kaleidobolt are presented by Sound of Liberation:

samsara-blues-experiment-tour

Friends of the blues,

This year we will do some touring which at some point will coincide with the release of our – new, fourth album – in MAY.

02.03. – 12.03. Chile, Uruguay, Argentina, Brasil dates!
You know, you know, you know…
03/02 – Santiago, CL @ La Capilla
03/03 – Buenos Aires, AR @ The Roxy Live
03/04 – Montevideo, UR @ Bluzz Live
03/05 – Córdoba, AR @ Refugio Guernica
03/08 – Porto Alegre, BR @ RIFF.E Bar
03/09 – Florianópolis, BR @ Célula Showcase
03/10 – Belo Horizonte, BR @ Stonehenge Rock Bar
03/11 – São Paulo, BR @ Inferno Club
03/12 – Rio de Janeiro, BR @ Hocus Pocus Fest

25.03. Roma (IT), Defrag
31.03. Osnabrück, Westwerk
01.04. München, Under The Black Moon Festival
02.04. Leipzig, Werk 2
22.04. Barcelona, Riff Ritual Festival
29.04. Berlin, Desertfest
30.04. London (UK), Desertfest

— ACHTUNG uebelst HOT —
12.05. Berlin, Zukunft am Ostkreuz (Stummfilm-Special)
13.05. Berlin, Zukunft am Ostkreuz (Albumrelease Parteeey)

— MORE and more and more —
14.05. Hamburg, Hafenklang
15.05. Wiesbaden, Schlachthof
16.05. Bielefeld, Forum
17.05. Nijmegen (NL), Doornroosje
18.05. Nantes (FR), Le Ferrailleur
19.05. Paris (FR), Backstage
20.05. Köln, Underground

Athens (GR) is confirmed, yet to be announced!

11.08. Finkenbach, Finki Festival

…there may be more.

Still no US-dates tho. We are very sorry. Honestly. If at some point somebody who will be decent and honest enough offer his or her touring help ~ without just thinking of how many money he or she can make with us ~ I may be happy to share ideas and work it out, but for now our so far experience says: foggetaboutit.

So, always remember: Drushba means friendship.

All is one. Peace!

https://www.facebook.com/events/385024388507943/
https://www.facebook.com/samsarabluesexperiment/
http://sbe-official.tumblr.com/
http://instagram.com/samsarabluesexperiment
https://samsarabluesexperiment.bandcamp.com/

Samsara Blues Experiment, Waiting for the Flood (2013)

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Desertfest Berlin 2017 Adds Farflung, Giöbia, Duel and Glitter Wizard

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 1st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

A couple weeks ago when Desertfest Berlin 2017 announced Saint Vitus as its final headliner, the festival noted that it was in the process of partnering with other promoters on smaller shows to surround the fest proper and, ultimately, enrich it. I’m assuming that this teaming up with Italian imprint Heavy Psych Sounds to bring Farflung, Giöbia, Duel and Glitter Wizard to the bill is the first realization of that idea. Hard for them to pick a better first pairing, frankly. I’ve gone on at length about the depth of work Heavy Psych Sounds has done over the last however many years, so I’ll spare you that, but suffice it to say they’ve more than earned this showcase, and if anything, they could no doubt add to it easily.

Still, a cool addition for Desertfest Berlin 2017. From the PR wire:

desertfest berlin 2017 hps bands

Desertfest Berlin 2017: FARFLUNG, GIÖBIA, DUEL, GLITTER WIZARD (Heavy Psych Sounds Records)

“HEAVY PSYCH SOUNDS” NIGHT

We are thrilled to announce four more bands today, all invited by the Italian label Heavy Psych Sounds Records! Heavy Psych Sounds specializes in Heavy Psych, Stoner, Retro Rock, Vintage Rock, Proto Punk, Sludge, Acid Rock, Doom, Space Rock, 70 Rock, Garage Psych and Fuzz Blues. They released more than 50 albums with great bands such as Nick Oliveri, Karma To Burn, Black Rainbows, Farflung, Fatso Jetson, Mos Generator, The Freeks, Glitter Wizard, Wedge, Sgt Sunshine and many more!

FARFLUNG (USA)
Internationally recognized as torchbearers in the contemporary space rock scene, Los Angeles-based cult band Farflung is ready to bring the universe sound at DesertFest Berlin! Imagine, as if the bastard child of Amon Duul ii and Hawkwind arose from the ashes of America… stark and glimmering… bathed in the energetic glow of the Stooges… one last cup raised to the lunatics and wishing for wounds… They have set their course for the farthest reaches of the universe…

GIÖBIA (IT)
Giöbia has been one of the most influential psychedelic bands in Italy over the last years. Seduced by the lysergic side of the ‘60s, by exotic mantras and the evocative power of space-rock, Giöbia is a band with many facets and one only faith, that is to turn every encounter with sound into a psychedelic experience.

DUEL (USA)
Duel is heavy psychedelic stoner doom metal from Austin, Texas, hugely influenced by the darker sounds of early 70’s Proto-metal. The band features two ex Scorpion Child (Nuclear Blast) members. Their sound is menacing and brutally old school. Total purists, their tunes cut right to the bone with heavy, deep groove and blistering tone. Tough and Loud! Hard rock as it should be!

GLITTER WIZARD (USA)
This band of California rifflords pillage the best of vintage hard rock while keeping their laser eyes on the future, creating a unique brand of oddball psychedelia. Their onstage performance is a glammed-up force to be reckoned with and they’ve been taking their act on the road from the West Coast all the way to Europe.

Previously confirmed for this year’s DESERTFEST BERLIN: SLEEP, JOHN GARCIA & BAND (playing songs from Kyuss to Slo Burn), SAINT VITUS, BONGZILLA, SAMSARA BLUES EXPERIMENT, MARS RED SKY, LOWRIDER, 1000MODS, STONED JESUS, TOUNDRA, ECSTATIC VISION, SUMA, MAMMOTH MAMMOTH, THE COSMIC DEAD, PONTIAK, TUBER, SATAN’S SATYRS, WUCAN, VENOMOUS MAXIMUS, THE WELL, GOLD, RIFF FIST, ODD COUPLE, TSCHAIKA 21/16.

DESERTFEST BERLIN 2017 will feature more than 50 bands in total! Remember that you have until Wednesday, February 1st to buy your tickets for 85€ (visit our Website, or use the links below in this release). After that, the weekend pass will be 95 €.

http://www.desertfest.de/tickets
https://www.facebook.com/DesertfestBerlin
http://woolheads.com/shop-2/festivalmerchandise/desertfest-berlin-2016-early-bird-ticket-action-1/
https://shop3.ticketscript.com/channel/html/get-products/rid/4MGC3S6H/eid/327518/validity/any_day/language/en

Giöbia, Magnifier (2015)

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Buddha Sentenza, Semaphora: Reaching Outward

Posted in Reviews on January 19th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

BUDDHA SENTENZA SEMAPHORA

Feels like it’s been a while in the making, but Buddha Sentenza‘s second album justifies the wait in a significant push forward from where 2013’s debut, South Western Lower Valley Rock (review here), found them. Still working through World in Sound, 2016’s Semaphora hits with the pastoral feel that’s been present in the German five-piece’s sound since their 2009 demo, Mode 0909 (review here), and if one is so inclined, one might still pick up shades of My Sleeping Karma in their sound, but there’s a progressive tinge to the winding guitar and keys in opener “Jet,” and the subsequent “Greek Ancestry” goes farther in fitting its arrangement to its title.

Ultimately, the playfully named Heidelberg-based lineup of guitarist/violinist B.B. Blacksheep, guitarist Major Mayhem, bassist Amnesio Bodega, keyboardist Pontifex Maximus and drummer Jesus Malverde end up as much in the sphere of progressive rock as that of heavy psych, and Semaphora has a refreshing cohesion of purpose and focus that distinguishes it from the hordes of instrumental jammers populating Europe’s heavy rock underground. The shift is visible even unto the photorealism of Semaphora‘s cover art, which finds a hand reaching across the shards of a shattered mirror backed by cloud and blue sky — reminiscent of some lost ’70s prog LP — where South Western Lower Valley Rock, while staking a claim on naming Buddha Sentenza‘s sound perhaps in a tongue-in-cheek manner, featured line drawings of fractals and other psychedelic imagery. I might be interested to know if the band, who split the six-track/48-minute Semaphora into two sides, each with an extended closer, still consider the title of their debut to be the style of music they play.

Could be that designation is nebulous enough to continue to fit, and if “south western lower valley rock” is whatever Buddha Sentenza make it, then all the better that Semaphora finds them so willfully exploring that freedom. As progressive as it gets, and as much as that colors the impression of everything that follows, the first thing one hears on “Jet” is a fuzzed-out guitar. It’s not long though before the organ, drums and bass have joined in and the arrangement thereof spun off into what feels like multiple directions, like beams of light splitting apart and coming back together in cycles. The second half, following some midsection chugging, drops to ambient spaciousness for a time, highlighting the keys and the overall textural feel, but the push resumes in the last minute and cuts off to let the strumming at the start of “Greek Ancestry” speak immediately to the name of the track.

More subdued than the opener on the whole, it demonstrates a patience that suits its bounce well but is hardly inactive, with lead guitar driving more weighted sections and switches back and forth around that initial strummed line, joined the second time around by violin, guitar and keys for a more lush take. By the time it’s done, “Greek Ancestry” has staked its claim in gorgeousness, but the 10-minute “Kréèn (Patagonian Lights),” which follows and closes out Semaphora‘s first half, is the highlight, with a meandering countrified fuzz starting off topped by sampled chanting that unfurls to summarize the patience and the spirit of the first two tracks while expanding the sonic foundation on the whole in a satisfying and immersive way. It never loses its sentimental feel in the guitar or organ line, and bookends with more sampled chanting at the end, making “Kréèn (Patagonian Lights)” almost an album unto itself.

buddha sentenza

Further sampling starts side B’s opener, “Laika,” but it’s direct speech, almost sounding like an advertisement or newscast, but the song itself begins soon and thrusts quickly into wah and a more active feel, particularly in the keys and perhaps in conversation with “Jet.” The symmetry of Semaphora‘s two sides is evidence of the consciousness at work on Buddha Sentenza‘s part, and that may or may not bleed into the tracks themselves, but it’s worth noting that nowhere on the album do they actually seem to repeat moves. “Laika,” for example, shifts into a chugging march with theremin behind it, farther-back lead guitar and synth swirl, and though it’s the shortest cut at 5:22, it still has time to cap with a quiet movement of piano before it transitions into the foreboding standalone chord that launches “Blood Rust,” the eight-minute penultimate piece that follows and seems to work most directly in stages.

The first builds from that initial guitar line, then it moves into synth-led atmospherics for its middle third, and from there, it emerges once again on a less threatening push toward an apex that, but for closer “The End is Coming, We’ll Take it from Here” behind it, could just as easily have been the payoff for the record as a whole. That closer, however, immediately marks itself out as the grand finale. Sampled lines from 1984 move into faster guitar that in turn shifts toward piano and guitar interplay and a rolling forward groove of riff, keys, synth and theremin — all hands on deck — before a sudden stop and chug announces the arrival of the next movement shortly before the four-minute mark. A wash of keyboard tops the roll, but there’s more intense drum and guitar chugging to be found as well as “The End is Coming, We’ll Take it from Here” plays out, and the feel is suitably chaotic as Buddha Sentenza pass the halfway point, break and return to launch Semaphora‘s final build from the ground up.

As noted, “Blood Rust” could have been the payoff for the album’s entirety, but there’s no question that the finish they give with “The End is Coming, We’ll Take it from Here” could hardly be placed anywhere else and still work as well, and though the song borders on overwhelming in its turns from one part to the next, that only underscores the progressive mentality of the band, since they never seem to be out of control or to lose track of the direction they’re headed. That may be the underlying message of Semaphora, all told, and if Buddha Sentenza have worked the last several years coming together to craft it, then their time was not misspent. As far as Semaphora ranges, it never fails to bring their audience along for the ride, and the breadth it unveils makes it all the more difficult to predict how they might progress from here, only adding to the satisfaction of the listening experience.

Buddha Sentenza, Semaphora (2016)

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