Posted in Whathaveyou on April 8th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
It just wouldn’t be hypocrisy if I hadn’t said it’d never happen. Many things change in four years’ time, and I’ve signed up for a Twitter account for The Obelisk. What does this mean to you? Well, if you don’t use Twitter, probably not a whole lot. If you do, it means you can keep up with The Obelisk-y doings via that most brevity-inducing of social media platforms by using the image on the right or the link below:
I’ve never been an early adopter of this kind of technology, so if I’m late to the party here, you won’t find me claiming otherwise. Nonetheless, if you’re on Thee Twitters, I hope you’ll take a second to follow along with my many fumbles as I figure out how to use a hashtag — it’ll always be a pound sign to me — and all the rest of it.
I was just about to put up a post (partially) concerning France’s foremost fuzzers Mars Red Sky, when lo, the trio unveiled a new video trailer for their forthcoming Be My GuideEP. Timing is everything. The three-piece will issueBe My Guide on April 8, 2013, through their own Mars Red Sounds imprint in a vinyl edition of 100 numbered and signed colored vinyls, and the release will feature four tracks, as listed below:
Posted in On the Radar on March 1st, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
A young, organ-heavy four-piece out of Potsdam, Germany, Stonehenge make their debut with Bunch of Bisons, a mostly instrumental collection showing influence culled from classic rock jams and modern heavy psych. The four-piece, comprised of guitarist/vocalist Enrico Semler, bassist Michael Paukner, drummer Ole Fischer and organist Johannes Walenta, lock into some righteous if mostly familiar grooves, but what really stands them out is Walenta‘s organ work, the natural production of the album’s seven component tracks and the band’s occasional touches of flourish, such as the handclaps and vocals on opener “Arctic Brother.”
The requisite Deep Purple influence mostly shows up in the straightforward guitar-and-organ riffing of “Sun on the Asphalt,” on which Semler (also of the Potsdam sax-infused foursome Minerva), far back in the mix, seems tempted to start in with a verse but thinks twice and just tosses out a couple Cactus-style lines here and there for bluesy affect. Can’t say I blame him, since the instrumental portion of “Sun on the Asphalt” delivers enough of a hook and the songs themselves — not a one of them comes in under seven minutes — are jammy enough that when there isn’t singing, it doesn’t seem to be lacking. A series of “Hey!” gang shouts on “Concrete Krieger” is enough to get the point of a chorus across.
Tonally, they hint at heavy psychedelia, as on the opening of closer “Delay,” but even when Semler‘s guitar seems at rest and Paukner‘s bass is at its richest, Stonehenge – contrary to their moniker, which has earned its reputation by essentially sitting still over a great stretch of time — never come to a halt, switching from one groove to the next to the next, switching up who’s playing what and, in Semler‘s case, belting out soulful vocals way off-mic so as to barely be heard in the riff-rocking rush. That makes Bunch of Bisons a more energetic listen than one might think for something with extended tracks, and as “Delay” moves in its second half to a slower, building progression, one can only wonder how Stonehenge might approach a follow-up to Bunch of Bisonsand if their next outing won’t find them a more patient band.
Not that they need to be — they hardly sound winded at the finish of their debut — just that their instrumental dynamic seems to be in its beginnings and could lead to any number of interesting evolutionary paths, particularly as Semler develops his vocals and Stonehenge continue to toy with the balance between the guitar and Walenta‘s organ, which adds melodic depth to these arrangements and is a clear focal point of their sound at this stage. Could be some fascinating things to come.
Stonehenge have made Bunch of Bisonsavailable for streaming, and you can listen on the player below courtesy of their Bandcamp:
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 24th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Their last album found them veering more toward a jangly garage rock sound, and with IV, UK fuzz experts The Kings of Frog Island seem to marry those influences with the fuzz that made 2008′s II so entrancing, resulting in a heavy psychedelic brew arriving as two whole vinyl sides, sans compromise and fully tripped out.
This is The Kings of Frog Islands‘ first offering since the departure of guitarist/vocalist Mat Bethancourt, and the band is reportedly looking to release the album on vinyl pending a response to the digital version, about which you can find more info below:
The Kings of Frog Island IV Receives January 2013 iTunes Release
We proudly present a digital only release of the latest episode from the Leicester UK based fuzz rock collective. The album is available as a download consisting of 2 x 20 minute long tracks, and the track listing is:
Side A The Tenth Stone The King Is Dead Witches Warning Volonte In The Watchers Blood Shadowlands
Side B The Night Juno Died Weaving Shadows Eleven Eleven Eleven Long Live the King
It is our intention to release the album in a limited vinyl format should demand warrant, but no date has been set. A CD version is not anticipated. In keeping with previous installments, information from the band is at a premium as they resist leaving their natural studio habitat. Drawing inspiration from film sound tracks and ambient fuzz from years gone by, this is a journey into innerspace from the Midlands.
The Kings of Frog Island IV are: Mark Buteux Tony Heslop Gavin Searle Dodge Watson Gavin Wright With: Ally Buteux Ian Piggin Jim Robinson
Recorded at Amphibia Sound Studios II, Leicester, between the summers of 2010 and 2012. Copyright and Produced by The Kings of Frog Island 2013.
Posted in On the Radar on January 8th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
A four-piece hailing from Romania, Methadone Skies waste no time busying themselves balancing ethereal post-rock noodling off heavier-ended psychedelic grooves. Periodically driving but never quite losing its focus despite an obvious jam-based ethic, their second album, Enter the Void, arrived in 2012 as a self-released sleeve CD preceding an allegiance with Sweden-based Ozium Records. The six-track offering sandwiches lengthy explorations with even lengthier explorations, the opening title-track topping out at 13:36 as the longest of the bunch (immediate points) while its closing companion piece, “Exit the Void” answers back at 11:54. Between, “Hyperspace,” “Long Day’s Journey into Night,” “Versus Evil,” and “Mudstar” tap into modern heavy psych ethics like they’re trying to bridge the gap between Russian Circles and Colour Haze. Frankly, it’s not a bad gap to bridge.
Both guitarists — Wehry and the more effects-laden Casi, who also handles keys — satisfy on a tonal level, with rich and warm fuzz that melds well with the echoing lead notes peppered throughout, as one can hear in the second half of “Hyperspace” on Enter the Void. The bass and drums provided by Mihai and Retea, respectively, are mostly relegated to a follower’s role, but as “Hyperspace” slows to its finish and “Long Day’s Journey into Night” ensues, their presence is more than duly felt in the added heft to the capably executed instrumental builds, which seem to be as much about going from spaced-out to grounded as from calm to chaotic. It works, perhaps most of all on “Versus Evil” — the lead lines of which I’ll mark as the most memorable on the album — which finds its culmination after six minutes into its total 9:33 as the two guitars match step with the complex rhythm for a thickened, oddly-timed apex.
The level of noodling might be too much for some. They’re not exactly subtle about it. But for Methadone Skies‘ second outing behind 2010′s Explosions of the Sun, Enter the Void can offer an engrossing listen if approached with an open mind and willingness to go along with its hypnotic aspects. “Mudstar” is a bit crunchier, but “Exit the Void” re-ups the space elements and gives a solid tripout to close with, the leads taking a more active role early on with a cascading line only to give way later to thicker entanglements before ending with even more echoing riffery and a surprisingly quick fade. One might have expected a long sustained echo or something like that, but I guess at 53 minutes in, Methadone Skies figured they’d said all there was to say. True enough, if you haven’t gotten the point by then, well, yeah.
Watching Blaak Heat Shujaa in the desert with a bunch of tripped-out effects is like watching a nature special with some kind of sun-drenched lizard in its natural habitat. They just fit. Same applies to the poet Ron Whitehead, who features in the Paris-then-New-York-then-Los-Angeles trio’s new video for the song “The Revenge of the Feathered Pheasant” — an 11-plus minute track taken from their upcoming Tee Pee Records debut EP, The Storm Generation, due out Dec. 11.
Whitehead plays a kind of desert guru — so basically himself — in the clip, which was directed by Cole Jenkins and Andrew Baxter, who you might recall from having helmed Blaak Heat Shujaa‘s docu-series of the recording of their next full-length and West Coast tour with Whitehead and other luminaries from out that way. The video was filmed at Vista Point, which by all accounts (including Yawning Man‘s, who named a record after it) is the place to be.
Blaak Heat Shujaa, “The Revenge of the Feathered Pheasant”
I’ve got 300 of these bad boys on their way from Skillit, and whatever else I do with them, I know they’ll be included with pre-orders of the Clamfight CD. More info about that next week, but until then, check out the sticker design, once again courtesy of Skillit — who if I haven’t said it enough times by now — is the fucking man:
Neither band is British, and I tend to think tour posters are their own excuse for being, but if you need a connection to the UK special going on this week, French heavy psych rockers Abrahma and Swedish grunge enthusiasts Mother of God will begin their European tour Oct. 25 in London. From there, they’ll hit France, Germany, Austria and Italy in a round of dates you can find below.
This poster was just too cool not to put up:
Abrahma & Mother of God European Tour 2012
25.10.2012 – LONDON (UK) – WINDMILL 26.10.2012 – T.B.A (UK) – T.B.A 27.10.2012 – KOBLENZ (GER) – SK2 28.10.2012 – FREIBURG (GER) – T.B.A 29.10.2012 – BERLIN (GER) – JÄGERKLAUSE 30.10.2012 – WIEN/GÜRTEL (AUT) – ESCAPE (METAL CORNER) 31.10.2012 – STUTTGART (GER) – BEAT BARACKE 01.11.2012 – PARIS (FR) – LES COMBUSTIBLES 02.11.2012 – NANCY (FR) – T.B.A 03.11.2012 – T.B.A – T.B.A 04.11.2012 – DARMSTADT (GER) – OETINGER VILLA 05.11.2012 – T.B.A – T.B.A 06.11.2012 – TOULON – LA VALETTE s/ VAR (FR) – LE VOX 07.11.2012 – TORINO (IT) – UNITED CLUB 08.11.2012 – SAVIGNANO (IT) – SIDRO CLUB 09.11.2012 – ROSA VICENZA (IT) – VINILE CLUB (w/ OJM) 10.11.2012 – MILANO (IT) – COX 18 11.11.2012 – T.B.A (FR) – T.B.A
Posted in audiObelisk on September 17th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Last year, I reviewed the debut CD from Finnish heavy psych jammers The Fërtility Cült. The album, called Eschatology(review here), was as long on charm as it was wandering in its echoing sprawl. Rife with gorgeous low end and a super-stoned bombast, it seemed to fly under most radars, but thrilled nonetheless, and the Tampere fivesome’s follow-up single, “The Seeress” is no less appealing. Now more solidified in the heavy tonal and jamming elements of their sound, The Fërtility Cült are even freer to highlight the sax and organ that work so well to distinguish them among their peers.
There’s a lot about “The Seeress” that will seem of a kind with the breadth of modern European heavy psych — there’s warm, analog low end and an open, laid back vibe, a feeling of sonic weight that doesn’t necessarily correspond to emotional baggage — but with soulful backing vocals and the aforementioned sax and organ, The Fërtility Cült hearken back to the early prog of Uriah Heep and of course Pink Floyd more than they seem to be trying to coalesce around the stoner jammers of today. Most important of all, they’re putting their own spin on it, and the easygoing flow of “The Seeress” should turn a couple heads in advance of their next long-player, Heavenly Bodies — reportedly already completed and awaiting label support.
In the meantime, Eschatology‘s physical pressing is sold out, but The Fërtility Cült will release “The Seeress” as a digital single on Wednesday. On Friday they’ll be playing the club Varjobaari in their native Tampere as a kind of release party for the song (more info here) but when I asked, the band was kind enough to grant permission to stream the track, and you’ll find it on the player below.
Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!
Posted in Whathaveyou on September 5th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Re-reading that headline, my only two questions are, “When?” and “Why isn’t then now?”
The Machine‘s David Eering will produce, and the bands will document the whole process, but what the news below doesn’t say is if there’s any chance the two Dutch fuzz rock upstarts will get together for one huge collaborative jam. I could think of way worse ways to spend 35 minutes than listening to the single-track onslaught of tonal warmth that would arise from such a meeting.
While I dote on those grooving possibilities, here’s the latest:
The Machine & Sungrazer: Split Album
During the next two months, both The Machine & Sungrazer will be spending some time in the studio. The recordings will start this Friday and take place in the private studio of The Machine, Studio De Zolder. Since both bands share the same record label, it’s probably not quite the surprise that Elektrohasch Records will be releasing the split album. You can expect an early 2013 release.
This project is the result of a mutual friendship that, like the idea for a split album, already started years ago. Since our latest releases, Calmer Than You Are (2012) and Mirador (2011), new songs and jams already developed themselves. Each band will use (a couple of) these tunes for their part of the split. As with The Machine’s previous four albums, David Eering will be producing both Sungrazer and his own band.
Stay tuned on both bands’ Facebook pages and websites for more updates! If we don’t forget, we might post some video footage and/or pictures from the recording process. The entire process will be documented.
For all past installments in the series, click here.
This fifth and final episode of Andrew Baxter and Cole Jenkins‘ documentary of Blaak Heat Shujaa‘s California recording session and tour wraps up the roadtime and covers the band returning to Scott Reeder‘s The Sanctuary studio, where they worked with guest vocalists Ron Whitehead and Mario Lalli. After the EP was finished, the band shot a new video for one of the songs — because if you’re in the desert, you gotta make the most of it while you can.
Thanks to Blaak Heat Shujaa, Tee Pee Records and Baxter and Jenkins for allowing me to host these clips as they’ve come along. Can’t wait to hear how the album actually came out!
Posted in The Numbers on September 4th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Feels more like 3,002, doesn’t it? Well it isn’t. According to my WordPress dashboard — which I trust the way most people trust gods — this is post number 3,000 since the site went up. I just wanted to take a second and mark the occasion and of course to say thanks to everyone who has read, commented, signed up on the forum, contributed, sent in albums for review, tipped me onto new bands or shared their love of music in any way as we’ve gone along.
It’s been a hell of a trip so far, and I don’t think when I started this site three and a half years ago I had any idea what I was getting myself into (maybe a little), but it’s been great up till now, and as this past weekend proved, there are still plenty of adventures to be had. Thanks so much for being a part of it.
This time around in Andrew Baxter and Cole Jenkins‘ serial documentary on the recording of Blaak Heat Shujaa‘s Tee Pee Records debut, the band break from working on the album with Scott Reeder to head into the desert for a couple gigs with poet Ron Whitehead before hitting up Los Angeles and a show with Fatso Jetson and Mondo Generator. Enjoy:
The Californian new album and tour adventures of Blaak Heat Shujaa continue, and so does filmmakers Cole Jenkins and AndrewBaxter‘sdocumentary series covering them. In this episode, the three-piece continue work on their Tee Pee Records debut and meet up with awesomely-bearded poet Ron Whitehead, who’ll be their tourmate for their short run of shows through the Golden State, running through this weekend.
Posted in On the Radar on August 23rd, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
There is a lot that Tuscon, Arizona, heavy psych rockers Young Hunter do right on their self-released 2012 debut full-length, Stone Tools. Foremost, tone. The seven-piece band nail glowing-tube tonal warmth in their guitars and bass — and rightfully so to go along with open, laid back grooves, perfect for the post-Cisneros folk-harmony vocals that only add to the classic vibing and airy atmospherics. For a comparison point, Across Tundras revel in a similar big-sky ritualism, but Young Hunter let you hear more of the vibrating cones in their cabs and the material feels more specifically of its desert home for it. Arbouretum also covered some of this hard ground on their underrated 2011 outing, The Gathering.
Stone Toolsopens strong with “The Harbinger.” Aside from earning immediate points for being the longest track on the album, Young Hunter‘s leadoff introduces the multi-singer vocals and I don’t even know how many layers of guitar. Info on personnel is vague at best (they’re on Thee Facebooks here), but the sound is full enough to make seven players believable, and even as the subsequent “Young Leaves on Ancient Branches” and “Cities of Black Mesa” get more aggressive — the latter’s opening riff could easily pass for black metal as much as anything Wolves in the Throne Room did on their first album, though they soon bring in a smoked-out psych blues coo – Young Hunter hold to a sense of pastoral bliss. It’s the desert at night, echoing canyons, an infinity of stars, lonely, but the dirt on the ground is still hot on the bottoms of your bare feet.
So what’s the holdup on my overly image-based slathering of appreciation? Mostly the mix. The vocals initially come through too high and while obviously the organic recording adds to the effectiveness of Stone Tools overall and by the time “Black Candles” comes on I’ve forgotten these and several other woes in favor of Young Hunter‘s sweet ritualizing, there are still some pieces of the songs that pull you out of the overarching hypnotic effect in ways that don’t seem purposeful.
That said, Stone Toolsfollows a 2011 tape release called Children of a Hungry Worldand is Young Hunter‘s first record, so that they’d give the impression of still getting their bearings isn’t really all that surprising. More to the point, I dig Stone Toolsas it is and thought I’d post it here in case you might do the same. The band have a couple shows coming up in Tuscon and I don’t know what their plans are after that, if they’ll get to work on a follow-up to Stone Tools or what, but the kind of desert reverie they put into “Drought,” I can’t imagine it’ll be too long before they answer back with another release. In the meantime, Stone Toolsis available on the dirt cheap from their Bandcamp page in a screenprinted sleeve that comes with an awesome-looking poster, as seen above.