Kaleidobolt Premiere “Deadpan Blues” from Bitter out May 31

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on May 16th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

kaleidobolt

Finnish boogie-made-prog heavy rockers Kaleidobolt will issue their third album, Bitter, on May 31 as their debut release for Svart Records, and though the track premiering below from it is called “Deadpan Blues,” make no mistake, there’s just about nothing deadpan about the entire outing. Instead, the returning Helsinki trio of guitarist/vocalist Sampo Kääriäinen, bassist/vocalist Marco Menestrina and drummer Valtteri Lindholm bask in the experience gleaned from touring to support their second album, 2016’s The Zenith Cracks (review here), and use the recording process itself like another instrument in exciting and engaging ways. “Deadpan Blues” on the album follows directly after the previously unveiled “I am the Seer” (posted here, but also way down at the bottom of this post), a song that in answering the organ-laced righteousness and jangle of opener “Another Toothpick” and the cavernous rock-formation spaces of “Big Sky Land” (lead guitar there reminding just a bit of Elder‘s vivid tonality) melds frenetic boogie with surf rock guitar ping, consuming megafuzz undulations and a bluesy, boozy repeated lyric about being torn apart by memory. The roll that ends it devolves into static amp noise as Menestrina‘s bassline begins “Deadpan Blues” with an immediate sense of tension and the guitar (slide?) and snare march smoothly enter. It’s about a minute before the rush-o’-riff ensues, but man, what a blast when it does. It’s a track that takes the best of what the ’70s-worship set has brought to bear and pushes it into the now-future not only with tonal presence, but with a sharp delivery that speaks to the consciousness at work all the while. Kaleidobolt have been plenty diggable since their 2015 self-titled (review here) came out on Pink Tank, but Bitter feels like a different level of achievement.

And yeah, it should. The second album was a step forward from the first and their sound was immediately nuanced enough to make one think they were a band interested kaleidobolt bitterin growing creatively. Bitter not only builds on The Zenith Cracks in terms of its form — or in the case of the absolute diversion into noisy fuckall at the end of “Deadpan Blues,” its anti-form; fortunately the subsequent prog guitar lullaby “Interlude” gives the listener a moment to recover — but affirms Kaleidobolt‘s intent toward individualism and developing something deeper than the standard execution of genre. Even as the penultimate “Coyote” dives into Thin Lizzyism, it does so with its own take. And a mellotron! But part of what gives Bitter that sonic nuance is the recording itself, which lends particular space to Kääriäinen‘s guitar and has a consistent thread of reverb/echo that draws the ear toward the Spaghetti West without ever really going full-Morricone. A place in-between seems only too comfortable for Kaleidobolt, and with the whole-album-highlight drum performance of Lindholm as the grounding factor and Menestrina‘s winding basslines as the supporting structure, the guitar is free to construct as it will, an aesthetic focal point in a way that feels like a given for heavy rock, but is still make a conscious choice here thanks to variety in tone — that fuzz on “I am the Seer” returns on closer “Hydra” before it gets kicked in the psychedelic dirt for about nine minutes or so — and the ability of the band as a whole to affect varying degrees of mood and, from the outset on, maddening vitality, in their material. The underground universe is not short on bands updating classic forms. One would have a difficult time thinking of another doing so with as much character as Kaleidobolt bring to Bitter.

Again, the production, which was helmed by Niko Lehdontie, who’s worked with a number of experimental outfits like Oranssi Pazuzu and so is no stranger to thoughtful chaos, is part of that, but even Kaleidobolt‘s decision to push outside of the “norm” on the general sound of Bitter is emblematic of the consciousness at work behind what they’re doing here. On first listen, it can be a tough record to keep up with — because it moves, moves, moves, and requires your attention to do likewise — but if you need to, dig into “Deadpan Blues” twice in a row and already the second time you’ll hear it differently. It takes a minute to adjust to the scope of what Kaleidobolt manifest, but doing so makes the listening experience all the more satisfying, and not just for the kinetic nature of their ur-groove. Bitter is as much about aesthetic purpose as it is boogie-down, and for all its accomplishments, I’d offer zero guarantees the band are done growing. As much as their course throughout these seven tracks twists and turns, it is inextricably forward. Get down, and know why.

Kaleidobolt have tour dates upcoming this summer that will take them to Stoned from the Underground and that include shows with Yawning Man. You’ll find those and more info on the record included under the track below.

Please enjoy:

Kaleidobolt, “Deadpan Blues” official track premiere

With one foot in classic heavy power-trio rock ‘n’ roll and the other knee-deep in psychedelic frenzy, Finland’s Kaleidobolt blast off into inner space with their third album, Bitter. Having perfected their craft on the road all across Europe, with two previous albums under their collective belt, Kaleidobolt have become a fierce live experience, guaranteed to blow minds and ears.

Kaleidobolt, however, are far from your usual deafening stoner rock experience. Their music is all about texture and depth, and beneath the lysergically frenzied riffs hide worlds of exquisite soundscapes. For the new album, the band decided to take an even greater leap into worlds beyond and hired Niko Lehdontie (Kairon; IRSE! and Oranssi Pazuzu) to produce the album and Lauri Eloranta (the current go-to guy in Finland for indie pop and rock bands) to mix it.

Bitter is rock music frenzy that intermittently disintegrates into sonic cotton candy and the occasional western theme. Bitter is also Kaleidobolt’s debut for Svart Records, and we are proud to release it on May 31st on CD, vinyl LP, and digital formats.

Kaleidobolt live:
5.7 Gothenburg / Truckstop Alaska (SWE)
6.7 Malmö / @PlanB – malmö (SWE)
7.7 Kiel / Die Kieler Schaubude (GER)
8.7 Berlin / Toast Hawaii (GER)*
9.7 Wiesbaden / Schlachthof Wiesbaden (GER)*
10.7 Cottbus / Zum Faulen August, Cottbus (GER)*
11.7 Wien / ARENA WIEN (AUT)*
12.7 Salzburg / Rockhouse Salzburg (AUT)*
13.7 Erfurt / Stoned from the Underground – Festival
*with Yawning Man

Kaleidobolt is:
Sampo Kääriäinen – guitar, vocals
Marco Menestrina – bass, vocals
Valtteri Lindholm – drums

Kaleidobolt, “I am the Seer” official video

Kaleidobolt on Thee Facebooks

Kaleidobolt on Bandcamp

Svart Records website

Svart Records on Thee Facebooks

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Kaleidobolt Sign to Svart Records for Bitter out May 31; New Video Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 28th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

kaleidobolt

It’s a marriage made in Finnish weirdness. Helsinki-based progressive heavy rockers Kaleidobolt are a natural fit for Svart Records given their blend of old and new, prog and and heavy, this and that, up and down, side to side, space and earth, all good things and so on. Granted that’s a pretty wide standard, but the jazzy elements of what they’ve done over the course of their two LPs to date — 2016’s ultra-righteous The Zenith Cracks (review here) and the prior no-slouch-either 2015 self-titled (review here) — only make the alliance more reasonable, as Svart has readily shown an affinity for such things in past offerings. Everybody wins, is what I’m saying, and all the more those who take a few minutes out of their hectic day to dig into the new video “I Am the Seer” — at the bottom of the post, duh — and thereby get an early sampling of Kaleidobolt‘s wares on their impending third album, Bitter, which will mark their debut on the label upon its release May 31.

These guys have been on their own wavelength of heavy since they started out, and one is glad to see them continue the thread. Looking forward to the record.

Info came down the PR wire:

kaleidobolt bitter

KALEIDOBOLT set release date for SVART debut, reveal first video

Svart Records sets May 31st as the international release date for Kaleidobolt’s highly anticipated third album, Bitter. The album, which will be the band’s debut for the label, will be released on CD and vinyl LP formats.

With one foot in classic heavy power-trio rock ‘n’ roll and the other knee-deep in psychedelic frenzy, Finland’s Kaleidobolt blast off into inner space with their third album, Bitter. Having perfected their craft on the road all across Europe, with two previous albums under their collective belt, Kaleidobolt have become a fierce live experience, guaranteed to blow minds and ears.

Kaleidobolt, however, are far from your usual deafening stoner rock experience. Their music is all about texture and depth, and beneath the lysergically frenzied riffs hide worlds of exquisite soundscapes. For the new album, the band decided to take an even greater leap into worlds beyond and hired Niko Lehdontie (Kairon; IRSE! and Oranssi Pazuzu) to produce the album and Lauri Eloranta (the current go-to guy in Finland for indie pop and rock bands) to mix it.

“We aim to make music that sounds dangerous, that is on its way to critical mass and could all fall apart at any moment,” comments bassist Marco Menestrina. “This time, we were thankful to have Niko the producer with us to ensure things were kept freaky and noisy enough.”

Bitter is rock music frenzy that intermittently disintegrates into sonic cotton candy and the occasional western theme. Bitter is also Kaleidobolt’s debut for Svart Records, and we are proud to release it on May 31st on CD, vinyl LP, and digital formats.

In the meantime, see & hear a special video for the new track “I am the Seer.”

Tracklisting for Kaleidobolt’s Bitter
1. Another Toothpick
2. Big Sky Land
3. I Am The Seer
4. Deadpan Blues
5. Interlude
6. Coyote
7. Hydra

https://www.facebook.com/kaleidobolt
https://kaleidobolt.bandcamp.com/
www.svartrecords.com
www.facebook.com/svartrecords
www.twitter.com/svartrecords

Kaleidobolt, “I am the Seer” official video

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Quarterly Review: Electric Octopus, Crypt Trip, Love Gang & Smokey Mirror, Heavy Feather, Faith in Jane, The Mound Builders, Terras Paralelas, The Black Heart Death Cult, Roadog & Orbiter, Hhoogg

Posted in Reviews on March 21st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-spring-2019

Day four of the six-dayer. Head’s a little reeling, but I’m not sure any more so than, say, last week at this time. I’d be more specific about that, but oddly enough, I don’t hook my brain up to medical scanners while doing reviews. Seems like an oversight on my part, now that I think about it. Ten years later and still learning something new! How about that internet, huh?

Since I don’t think I’ve said it in a couple days, I’ll remind you that the hope here is you find something you dig. There’s a lot of cool stuff in this batch, so that should at least make skimming through it fun if you go that route. Either way, thanks for reading if you do.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Electric Octopus, Smile

Electric Octopus Smile

It’s been about two months since Electric Octopus posted Smile, so they’re about due for their next release. So, quick! Before this 82-minute collection of insta-chill jams is out of date, there’s still time to consider it their latest offering. Working as the four-piece of Tyrell Black and Dale Hughes — both of whom share bass and guitar duties — drummer Guy Hetherington and synthesist Stevie Lennox, the Belfast improv jammers rightfully commence with the 25-minute longest track (immediate points) “Abberation” (sic), which evolves and devolves along its course and winds up turning from a percussive jam to a guitar-led build up that still stays gloriously mellow even as it works its way out. You can almost hear the band moving from instrument to instrument, and that’s the point. The much shorter “Spiral,” “Dinner at Sea, for One” and closer “Mouseangelo” bring in a welcome bit of funk, “Moth Dust” explores minimalist reaches of guitar and ambient drumming, and “Hyperloop” digs into fuzz-soaked swirl before cleaning up its act in the last couple minutes. These cats j-a-m. May they do so into perpetuity.

Electric Octopus on Thee Facebooks

Electric Octopus on Bandcamp

 

Crypt Trip, Haze County

crypt trip haze county

Onto the best-albums-of-2019 list go San Marcos, Texas, trio Crypt Trip, who, sonically speaking, are way more Beto O’Rourke than Ted Cruz. The three-piece have way-way-upped the production value and general breadth from their 2018 Heavy Psych Sounds debut, Rootstock, and the clarity of purpose more than suits them as they touch on ’70s country jams and hard boogie and find a new melodic vocal confidence that speaks to guitarist Ryan Lee as a burgeoning frontman as well as the shredder panning channels in “To Be Whole.” Fortunately, he’s backed by bassist Sam Bryant and drummer Cameron Martin in the endeavor, and as ever, it’s the rhythm section that gives the “power trio” its power. Centerpiece “Free Rain” is a highlight, but so is the pedal steel of intro “Forward” and the later “Pastures” that precedes six-minute closer “Gotta Get Away,” which makes its transport by means of a hypnotic drum solo from Martin. Mark it a win and go to the show. That’s all you can do. Haze County is a blueprint for America’s answer to Europe’s classic heavy rock movement.

Crypt Trip on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds website

 

Love Gang & Smokey Mirror, Split Double EP

smokey mirror love gang split double ep

A bit of Tull as Love Gang‘s flute-inclusive opener “Can’t Seem to Win” skirts the line of the proggier end of ’70s worship. The Denver outfit and Dallas’ Smokey Mirror both present three tracks on Glory or Death RecordsSplit Double EP, and Love Gang back the leadoff with “Break Free” and “Lonely Man,” reveling in wall-o’-fuzz chicanery and organ-laced push between them, making their already unpredictable style less predictable, while Smokey Mirror kick off side B in particularly righteous fashion via the nine-minute “Sword and Scepter,” which steps forth to take ultra-Sabbathian ownership of the release even as the filthy tone of “Sucio y Desprolijo” and the loose-swinging Amplified Heat-style megashuffle of “A Thousand Days in the Desert” follow. Two bands in the process of finding their sound coming together to serve notice of ass-kickery present and future. If you can complain about that, you’re wrong.

Love Gang on Thee Facebooks

Smokey Mirror on Thee Facebooks

Glory or Death Records BigCartel store

 

Heavy Feather, Débris & Rubble

Heavy Feather Debris & Rubble

Very much a solid first album, Heavy Feather‘s 11-song Débris & Rubble lands at a run via The Sign Records and finds the Stockholm-based classic heavy blues rockers comporting with modern Euro retroism in grand fashion. At 41 minutes, it’s a little long for a classic-style LP if one measures by the eight-track/38-minute standard, but the four-piece fill that time with a varied take that basks in sing-along-ready hooks like those of post-intro opener “Where Did We Go,” the Rolling Stones-style strutter “Waited All My Life,” and the later “I Spend My Money Wrong,” which features not the first interplay of harmonica and lead guitar amid its insistent groove. Elsewhere, more mellow cuts like “Dreams,” or the slide-infused “Tell Me Your Tale” and the closing duo of the Zeppelinian “Please Don’t Leave” and the melancholy finisher “Whispering Things” assure Débris & Rubble never stays in one place too long, though one could say the same of the softshoe-ready boogie in “Hey There Mama” as well. On the one hand, they’re figuring it out. On the other, they’re figuring it out.

Heavy Feather on Thee Facebooks

The Sign Records on Bandcamp

 

Faith in Jane, Countryside

Faith in Jane Countryside

Five full-lengths deep into a tenure spanning a decade thus far, Faith in Jane have officially entered the running to be one of the best kept secrets of Maryland heavy. Their late-2018 live-recorded studio offering, Countryside, clocks in at just under an hour of organic tonality and performance, bringing a sharp presentation to the chemistry that’s taken hold among the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Dan Mize, bassist Brendan Winston and drummer Alex Llewellyn, with Mize taking extended solos on the Wino model throughout early cuts “All is All” and “Mountain Lore” while the trio adds Appalachian grunge push to the Chesapeake’s flowing groove while building “Blues for Owsley” from acoustic strum to scorching cacophonous wash and rolling out the 9:48 “Hippy Nihilism” like the masters of the form they’re becoming. It’s not a minor undertaking in terms of runtime, but for those in on what these cats have been up to all the while, hard to imagine Countryside is seen as anything other than hospitable.

Faith in Jane on Thee Facebooks

Faith in Jane on Bandcamp

 

The Mound Builders, The Mound Builders

The Mound Builders The Mound Builders

Lafayette, Indiana’s The Mound Builders last year offered a redux of their 2014 album, Wabash War Machine (review here), but that was their last proper full-length. Their self-titled arrives as eight bruiser slabs of weighted sludge/groove metal, launching with its longest track (immediate points) in the 7:30 “Torchbearer,” before shifting into the outright screams-forward pummel of “Hair of the Dogma” and the likewise dry-throated “Separated from Youth.” By the time they get to the hardcore-punk-via-sludge of “Acid Slugs,” it’s not a little heavy. It’s a lot heavy. And it stays that way through the thrashing “Star City Massacre” and “Regolith,” hitting the brakes on “Broken Pillars” only to slam headfirst into closer “Vanished Frontier.” Five years later and they’re still way pissed off. So be it. The four-formerly-five-piece were never really all that gone, but they still seem to have packed an extended absence’s worth of aggro into their self-titled LP.

The Mound Builders on Thee Facebooks

Failure Records and Tapes

 

Terras Paralelas, Entre Dois Mundos

TERRAS PARALELAS ENTRE DOIS MUNDOS

It’s a fluid balance between heavy rock and progressive metal Terras Paralelas make in the six inclusions on their debut full-length, Entre Dois Mundos. The Brazilian instrumentalist trio keep a foundation of metallic kickdrumming beneath “Do Abismo ao Triunfo,” and even the chugging in “Espirais e Labirintos” calls to mind some background in harder-hitting fare, but it’s set against a will toward semi-psychedelic exploration, making the giving the album a sense of refusing to play exclusively to one impulse. This proves a strength in the lengthier pieces that follow “Infinito Cósmico” and “Do Abismo ao Triunfo” at the outset, and as Terras Paralelas move from the mellower “Bom Presságio” and “Espirais e Labirintos” into the more spaciously post-rocking “Nossa Jornada Interior” and the nine-minute-plus prog-out title-track that closes by summarizing as much as pushing further outward, one is left wondering why such distinctions might matter in the first place. Kudos to the band for making them not.

Terras Paralelas on Thee Facebooks

Terras Paralelas on Bandcamp

 

The Black Heart Death Cult, The Black Heart Death Cult

the black heart death cult the black heart death cult

Though one wouldn’t accuse The Black Heart Death Cult of being the first cumbersomely-named psych-rocking band in the current wave originating in Melbourne, Australia, their self-titled debut is nonetheless a gorgeous shimmer of classic psychedelia, given tonal presence through guitar and bass, but conjuring an ethereal sensibility through the keys and far-back vocals like “She’s a Believer,” tapping alt-reality 1967 vibes there while fostering what I hear is called neo-psych but is really just kinda psych throughout the nodding meander of “Black Rainbow,” giving even the more weighted fuzz of “Aloha From Hell” and the distortion flood of “Davidian Dream Beam” a happier context. They cap with the marshmallowtron hallucinations of “We Love You” and thereby depart even the ground stepped on earlier in the sitar-laced “The Magic Lamp,” finding and losing and losing themselves in the drifting ether probably not to return until, you know, the next record. When it shows up, it will be greeted as a liberator.

The Black Heart Death Cult on Thee Facebooks

Oak Island Records webstore

 

Orbiter & Roadog, Split

orbiter roadog split

I’m pretty sure the Sami who plays drums in Orbiter is the same dude playing bass in Roadog, but I could easily be wrong about that. Either way, the two Finnish cohort units make a fitting complement to each other on their two-songer 7″ single, which presents Orbiter‘s six-minute “Anthropocene” with the hard-driving title-track of Roadog‘s 2018 full-length, Reinventing the Wheels. The two tracks have a certain amount in common, mostly in the use of fuzz and some underlying desert influence, but it’s what they do with that that makes all the difference between them. Orbiter‘s track is spacier and echoing, where “Reinventing the Wheels” lands more straightforward in its three minutes, its motoring riff filled out by some effects but essentially manifest in dead-ahead push and lyrics about a motorcycle. They don’t reinvent the wheel, as it happens, and neither do Orbiter, but neither seems to want to do so either, and both bands are very clearly having a blast, so I’m not inclined to argue. Good fun and not a second of pretense on either side.


Orbiter on Thee Facebooks

Roadog on Thee Facebooks

 

Hhoogg, Earthling, Go Home!

hhoogg Earthling Go Home

Space is the place where you’ll find Boston improvisationalists Hhoogg, who extend their fun penchant for adding double letters to the leadoff “Ccoossmmooss” of their exclamatory second self-released full-length, Earthling, Go Home!, which brings forth seven tracks in a vinyl-ready 37 minutes and uses that opener also as its longest track (immediate points) to set a molten tone to the proceedings while subsequent vibes in “Rustic Alien Living” and the later, bass-heavy “Recalled to the Pyramids” range from the Hendrixian to the funkadelicness he helped inspire. With a centerpiece in “Star Wizard, Headless and Awake,” a relatively straightforward three-minute noodler, the four-piece choose to cap with “Infinitely Gone,” which feels as much like a statement of purpose and an aesthetic designation as a descriptor for what’s contained within. In truth, it’s a little under six minutes gone, but jams like these tend to beg for repeat listens anyway. There’s some growing to do, but the melding of their essential chemistry is in progress, and that’s what matters most. The rest is exploration, and they sound well up for it.

Hhoogg on Thee Facebooks

Hhoogg on Bandcamp

 

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Blowup Vol. 5 Adds Cirith Ungol, Morne, Arktau Eos & Kælan Mikla to Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 18th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

blowup 5 banner

I post a lot of festival lineups around here, and a lot of European festival lineups besides. I can’t even pretend to keep it all straight in my head, but looking forward to next Fall’s season, consider that among everything else that will be taking place around this time — and there’s plenty; I’m already behind on announcements — Blowup Vol. 5 in Helsinki has revealed five bands for its three-day lineup and already exposed a genre-spanning mission that’s admirably progressive in its intent. Be it the bleak doom of Morne or the classic metal of Cirith UngolArktau Eos‘ ritualized drone or the convention-defiance of Iceland’s Kælan Mikla, this is the kind of assemblage that is intended to send an immediate message of what the fest is all about, and over its years, Blowup has very much been an event that has sought to move forward with each edition.

And while they keep that thread going, they’re also continuing to support visual artists as well with a gallery show included and Timo Ketola announced as the first artist featured.

Of course three-day tickets are already sold out after going on sale a week ago. Two-day tickets remain. Here’s the info:

blowup 5

Blowup is a front runner of Finnish festivals that showcases international and Finnish artists surpassing genres focusing on psychedelic, avant-garde, noise & doom metal.

One of the themes of the Blowup festival is to support emerging visual artists. Several Finnish artists will bring out their own vision of the artists performing at Blowup festival. All the works will be displayed at Korjaamo Aulagalleria 10th-14th October 2019.

Blowup Vol. 5 visual artists:
Timo Ketola (Helsinki 1975)
http://www.tentacula.org/

Confirmed artists:
Cirith Ungol (US)
Morne (US)
Arktau Eos (FIN)
Kælan Mikla (ISL)

3-day tickets available at Tiketti Monday, December 10th.
89€ plus Tiketti commission. https://www.tiketti.fi/blowup-vol-5-kulttuuritehdas-korjaamo-helsinki-tickets/58769 (SOLD OUT!)

2-day tickets available at Tiketti January 2019.

Blowup Vol. 5 will run for three days from Thursday, October 10 to Saturday, October 12 at the Korjaamo venue in Helsinki, Finland.

https://www.facebook.com/events/900757203645119/
https://www.facebook.com/blowupthatgramophone/
https://www.instagram.com/blowupthatgramophone/
https://twitter.com/blowupfi
https://blowupfestival.fi

Morne, To the Night Unknown (2018)

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Review & Track Premiere: Superfjord, All Will be Golden

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on August 23rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Superfjord all will be golden

[Click play above to stream ‘Master Architect’ from Superfjord’s All Will be Golden. Album is out Sept. 21 on Svart Records.]

A given listener will finds their own sonic touchpoints in the colorful melange that is Superfjord‘s second album and Svart Records debut, All Will be Golden. My ears turned immediately to the line from opener “Cut and Paste” that asks, “Don’t you know happiness is a gun?” in a winking nod to The Beatles, but certainly there’s plenty of Pink FloydHawkwind, and many others in there as well, including the Helsinki outfit’s likewise shimmer-minded labelmates in Death Hawks. Still, in their harmonies, in their blend of classic progressive rock and modern psychedelia, in the subcontinental Asian delve of “Parvati Valley” and the sax-laced fuzzy astrojazz of closer “Rainha da Floresta,” Superfjord‘s six-track/48-minute offering lacks nothing for personality of its own. Rather, it is a wash of sprawling coherence, engaging in its concept and execution alike and not so much blissed beyond consciousness as resolute in its joy.

As its future-looking title hints, it’s a hopeful sound conjured by guitarist/vocalists Jussi Ristikaarto and Mikko Kapanen (the former also electronics, the latter also percussion), bassist Teemu Soininen, drummer/percussionists Jussi Peevo and Ilari Kivelä and keyboardist Juho Ojala, sweet in its melodies and of consuming swirl. In what are so often seen and portrayed as dark times, it is brightly hued and hiding nothing in that. With a deep mix that finds enough space for all six players and the variety of elements they bring, songs like the 10-minute “Master Architect” are headphone-ready if not headphone-demanding, and make for the kind of listens in which one might continue to hear something new upon repeat visits.

They’re not blind. “Cut and Paste” seems in no small way to be a comment on the age in which we live, but both “Master Architect” and “Rainbow,” which follow in succession, underscore the notion of powers beyond our control, and in that, encourage not fearfulness or resignation, but taking the opportunity to rejoice at what might be, now and tomorrow. It’s no coincidence that as “Master Architect” winds down, the line “A dream” is repeated on a loop.

Come to think of it, “no coincidence” can basically apply to the whole record. All Will be Golden is meticulous. The harmonized repetitions of lines in “Rainbow” — “Bow down to the rainbow/Enter now the temple,” etc. — arrive with an easy flow in their rhythm preceded by the percussion in both “Cut and Paste” and “Master Architect” and the melodic range there as well, vocally and instrumentally. A fervent prog-boogie emerges near the midway point of the opener, with guitars scorching out a solo backed by basslines so fluid they’ll induce an eye roll and drums and percussion, and at just over five minutes long (the shortest inclusion here), “Rainbow” echoes some of that rhythmic urgency, but its push is more space-chorus than in-room-jam, and the voices of Ristikaarto and Kapenen — and potentially a host of others or other layers, going by the sound of it — give a decidedly celebratory vibe leading into more impressive lead guitar trading off with classically prog keyboard, also arriving in multiple layers.

The affect there, as with so much of All Will be Golden, is gorgeous and lush, but not void of humanity thanks again to the vocals, which return to the initial lines noted above to close out a side A that’s already shown Superfjord — who made their debut in 2014 with the also-gorgeous It is Dark, but I Have This Jewel, boasting a cover of John Coltrane‘s “A Love Supreme” in the process, and also covered Frank Zappa on a split with Sendelica last year — to be mindful of songwriting and atmosphere alike, and while there are certainly exploratory aspects to the briefest of cuts, that underlying consciousness gives their approach even more scope.

superfjord (Photo by Tero Vuorinen)

Again, it is no coincidence. I’d be willing to believe in “happy accidents” in the studio as happen in the process of making most records, but it’s so clear Superfjord know where they want their songs to go, and their sure-handed guidance only makes following along even more of a pleasure.

There’s a telling moment about 35 seconds into aptly-titled side B launcher “No Rest for the Wicked.” The band is grooving smoothly on a jazzy rhythm with the keys out front in a kind of jabbing semi-staccato vibe. They just seem to be settling into the song’s course, percussion is on fire and it looks like the verse is about to start, when all of a sudden there’s this quick entry of a dream-toned lead guitar that takes hold for a few measures before the first whispered lyrics of the title line. It’s a quick thing, but it’s the kind of subtlety that abounds throughout All Will be Golden; exactly what the song needed, exactly when it needed it.

To some it might sound like an indulgence, but I’d argue that in craft and aesthetic alike, Superfjord aren’t so much serving their own whims as the overarching purposes of their creation. “No Rest for the Wicked” dances into a harmonized, tom-backed, sax-inclusive fadeout, leading to the aforementioned closing pair of “Parvati Valley” and “Rainha da Floresta,” the Portuguese title of which translates to “Queen of the Forest.” “Parvati Valley” digs itself into a classically Western psychedelic fascination with Indian traditions, the lyrics becoming a mantra repeated for the first few minutes as instruments build up behind and an acoustic-centered midsection leads to the sharper keys and the introduction of the next movement’s chanting, more outward-directed and festive. Before a long fadeout, Superfjord seem to take “Parvati Valley” to a new echelon of psychedelia, which is fair enough leading into “Rainha da Floresta,” with its sampled birdsong and engrossing melodic peacefulness.

More choice bass work from Soininen anchors a winding progression of keys, cymbal taps and the rounding-up of guitars, and as it moves toward the 2:30 mark into its total 7:57, the finale enters its next stage, setting a bed of keys and bass for sax and heavier-weighted groove in the guitars and bass. They don’t paint any darker of a picture there than on anything preceding — miraculously — but there’s a feeling of reprise to “Rainha da Floresta” that lets the listener know it’s the ending. Shortly before five minutes in, they turn again to tense percussion, keys, chanting and, finally, a burst of spacious guitar and keyboard and drums and percussion and everything else that serves as a fitting apex for everything that’s come before it, and they close with waves as though they and their audience alike have come out of the forest and arrived at the ocean.

So be it. The journey from front to back of All Will be Golden is masterfully navigated, and whatever one’s feelings on the general state of the world in which we live — that is, however much hope you may or may not have — Superfjord portray a bright vision of things to come. As regards their sound, style, breadth and the focus they manage to keep where so many others would simply get lost, the future may indeed shine like gold. The present does as well.

Superfjord, “Rainbow”

Superfjord on Thee Facebooks

Superfjord on Instagram

Superfjord Tumblr

Superfjord Soundcloud

Svart Records website

Svart Records on Thee Facebooks

Svart Records on Bandcamp

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Superfjord Announce New LP All Will Be Golden on Svart; New Single Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 21st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

superfjord

The hypnotic insistence of the new Superfjord single pretty much guarantees its imprint on the frontal lobe of your brain, and when you’re walking around singing ‘Bow down to the rainbow’ to yourself, there will be little wonder as to why. All Will Be Golden, which is the long-player from whence the aptly-titled “Rainbow” stems, has been confirmed for a Sept. 21 release through ultra-respected purveyor Svart Records. It’s their second album overall and the herald it receives bodes well for what’s to come, though I wouldn’t be surprised if the spaciness that shows up in “Rainbow” is more fleshed out elsewhere. We’ve got time before September hits — though apparently less than I think, as the calendar tells me it’s currently late June (the mind explodes) — so there will probably be more info to come in stuff like the cover art, tracklisting and so on, but you can stream “Rainbow” at the bottom of this post and there’s some preliminary data as regards the Svart signing that came down the PR wire:

It looked an awful lot like this:

superfjord rainbow

SUPERFJORD sign with SVART – release digital single, prepare new album for autumn

Svart Records announces the signing of Finnish prog-psych giants Superfjord. The band will be releasing a digital single titled “Rainbow” through the label, on all major digital platforms, in anticipation of their sophomore album (and first for Svart), All Will Be Golden, which is set for international release on September 21st. These will be Superfjord’s first brand-new releases since a limited 7″ single cover of John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme,” released by cult psych label Fruits De Mer in the UK.

We shall all be redeemed, one way or another. Shall we pass through the golden gates towards the light, up to which myriad mysterious paths lead? Is the journey more important than the destination? Are we dreaming? Regardless of the questions asked, eventually All Will Be Golden.

Superfjord’s sophomore album is about it all: the journey, the destination, and the vehicles. All Will Be Golden is an ambitious musical trip formed of long arcs, mesmerizing mandalas, harmony vocals, and a multitude of aural colors. Have you heard the ayahuasca-inspired collaboration album from Pink Floyd, the Grateful Dead, and Spiritualized? Neither have we, but All Will Be Golden could possibly exist in such a parallel dimension. Whether you’re looking for a cure, a way of escape, a catalyst for spiritual expeditions, something to groove to, or just some chakra-opening psychedelic rock ’n’ roll with a 21st century cosmic twist, this might just be it.

“Rainbow,” the first single off the album, is a message from the end of the rainbow: surrender to the force, human. Superfjord’s psychedelic temple contains the whole cosmic color palette. Can you fit The Who, Frank Zappa, and, well, William Orbit into the same congregation? Well, apparently you can – with love.

Superfjord are:
Jussi Ristikaarto: guitars, electronics, vocals
Mikko Kapanen: guitar, vocals, percussion
Ilari Kivelä: drums, percussion
Teemu Soininen: bass
Juho Ojala: keyboards
Jussi Peevo: drums, percussion

www.facebook.com/superfjord
www.svartrecords.com
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www.youtube.com/svartrecords
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Superfjord, “Rainbow”

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Kaleidobolt European Tour Starts Tonight; Playing Freak Valley and More

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 31st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

kaleidobolt

Finnish heavy psychedelic progressives Kaleidobolt have been working on new material and reportedly have — quoting now — ‘a ton and a half’ of new material to sift through in the making of their next record, which will be the follow-up to 2016’s sub-radar stunner The Zenith Cracks (review here). One imagines their upcoming tour which, hey how about that, starts tonight, will be a major factor in that sifting process, as the band have said they’ll look into recording afterwards, no doubt trying to capture some of their residual stage energy and focus into a studio setting. A noble endeavor to be sure, and with a handful of shows booked in Finland for August, they might even have a timeline on getting the new record done before they head out again. Of course that’s speculation, but it’ll be worth keeping an eye on.

If you missed The Zenith Cracks, it’s streaming at the bottom of this post and well worth the time to dig into. Shows on the current tour are presented by Sound of Liberation, and the following comes from the PR wire:

kaleidobolt tour poster

KALEIDOBOLT SPRING TOUR 2018

31.05 COPENHAGEN BETA2300
01.06 HAMBURG Hafenklang
02.06 NETPHEN DEUTZ Freak Valley Festival 2018
03.06 COLOGNE Helios37
04.06 NIJMEGEN De Onderbroek
05.06 LE HAVRE Mc Daid’s
06.06 LONDON The Dev
07.06 PARIS Espace B Paris
09.06 OLTEN Coq d’Or
10.06 FREIBURG Slow Club Freiburg
11.06 MUNICH Feierwerk
12.06 DRESDEN Ostpol
13.06 OSNABRÜCK Jugendzentrum Westwerk
14.06 BERLIN Urban Spree
15.06 ROSTOCK Kulturkombinat e.V.

Kaleidobolt Finland tour:
22.8 OULU 45 Special
23.8 HELSINKI Bar Loose
24.8 TAMPERE 24.8. Manse Psych Fest 2018 / Klubi & Pakkahuone, Tampere
25.8 TURKU @Gong

Tour arranged by Sound of Liberation
Poster design by The Impossible Machine & Andrés Gamiochipi.

Kaleidobolt is a power trio that came together in early 2014 in Helsinki. In the short time they’ve been together, they’ve gained the reputation of being one of the most exciting live bands around. Their music is a dizzying maelstrom of progressive song structures, crushing riffs and loose psychedelic soundscapes, delivered with joy and ferociousness. Their first self titled album was released 2015 and brought the guys a huge success all over the world. In between two European Tours Kaleidobolt recorded 8 new tracks which came out on their second album The Zenith Cracks on 01st of July 2016.

https://www.facebook.com/kaleidobolt/
https://kaleidobolt.bandcamp.com/album/the-zenith-cracks
http://www.pink-tank-records.de/label-1/the-pink-tank-family/kaleidobolt/
https://www.facebook.com/pinktankrecords/

Kaleidobolt, The Zenith Cracks (2016)

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Amorphis, Queen of Time: Keeper of Fleeting Moments

Posted in Reviews on May 14th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

amorphis queen of time

As they’ve for so long shown an affinity for Finland’s national poem, the Kalevala, it seems somehow only fitting that 28 years after their founding, Amorphis‘ own story should be the stuff of a winding runic epic. Years of lineup changes, sonic evolution, genre definition and defiance have brought them to their 14th long-player, Queen of Time (on Nuclear Blast), with four of their original members in the six-piece lineup, and as they’re quick to show on the Jens Bogren-produced outing, the progression that began on 1992’s The Karelian Isthmus continues unabated. As they mark the return of original bassist Olli-Pekka “Oppu” Laine, with whom they last played on 1999’s Tuonela (discussed here), they embark on some of their most expansive sounds to-date, including not just the standout keyboard work of Santeri Kallio, who joined in 1999, but also flourish in the form of choral and orchestral arrangements and vocal appearances from Anneke van Giersbergen, who guests on the penultimate cut “Amongst Stars,” and longtime lyricist Pekka Kainulainen, who contributes a speech in Finnish to third track “Daughter of Hate.”

That song runs as part of a momentum-building first half of the album that, from the intro to opener “The Bee” through “Message in the Amber,” “Daughter of Hate,” and “The Golden Elk” and “Wrong Direction,” move with experienced poise through the band’s long-established dynamic of folk, death and progressive metals, vocalist Tomi Joutsen (also Hallatar) — who since coming aboard with 2006’s Eclipse (also their label debut on Nuclear Blast) has now been in the band nearly twice as long as his predecessor, Pasi Koskinen — switching easily between guttural growls and dramatic, emotionally driven clean singing.

The clash of the beautiful and the brutal has been at the core of what Amorphis do for over 20 years, since 1996’s groundbreaking third album, Elegy, but whether it’s the chugging riff of “The Bee” meeting with a string arrangement and keyboard launching into the chorus or the later “Grain of Sand” finding Joutsen layering soaring melodies over growls as drummer Jan Rechberger pounds away behind and lead guitarist Esa Holopainen touches on minor-key Easternisms as a chorus backs the bridge to the next onslaught, Amorphis have never quite made the transitions so fluid. Part of that is the melding of melody and extremity as on “Daughter of Hate,” which brings in saxophone around the two-minute mark after a particularly brutal opening, but Bogren, who seems to have been the mastermind behind bringing the choral and orchestral arrangements into the proceedings, can only be considered right for having done do.

amorphis

Even the band’s also-string-inclusive preceding album, 2015’s Under the Red Cloud, which Bogren also oversaw amid a host of engineers, didn’t push as far as “The Bee” or “Message in the Amber,” the latter touching almost on Blind Guardian-style grandiosity in its second half. That’s not a complaint. Even as later cut “We Accursed” holds to a “rawer” approach with its Finn-folk bounce and swirling keyboard solo over a start-stop riff from Holopainen and fellow founder/rhythm guitarist Tomi Koivusaari, Amorphis seem to be expanding on the ideas of Under the Red Cloud, pushing themselves further in multiple directions and still leaving room for hooks like that of “Wrong Direction” or the memorable finale in “Pyres on the Coast” that seems to bring all sides together and round out with Kallio on a still-somehow-appropriate church organ.

But that is what Amorphis does, and it’s what they’ve always done. Save perhaps between 1994’s Tales from the Thousand Lakes and the aforementioned Elegy, their growth has never come in leaps and bounds — and part of that was personnel change — but it’s been a consistent truism of their work that each outing builds off the accomplishments of the one before it, and refuses to stay in the same place. In the now-seven albums they’ve done since Eclipse, when Joutsen came aboard, they’ve been ever more aware of who they are as a band — that is, there are some things an Amorphis record needs to be an Amorphis record, and they seem to consciously tick those boxes — but never afraid to refine their processes and push themselves in ways they haven’t before. As such, the 10 tracks/57 minutes of Queen of Time are multifaceted and rife with breadth, but the core sonic persona of who Amorphis have become — itself true to the band’s name for its ever-changing shape — has remained true.

They are one of a kind in metal, and whatever subgenre one might want to peg them into, they’ll never quite fit all the way. That’s true of the galloping “Heart of the Giant,” the careening delivery of the title-line in “The Golden Elk,” and the piano line that runs under “Amongst Stars,” as the meticulousness of Amorphis‘ songwriting, the sheer clarity and detail of it, makes them an ever more complex and ever more immersive listening experience. Invariably, with a band who’ve been around so long produced such a catalog, fans have their favorites, so I won’t say Queen of Time is the “best” Amorphis album, because the designation is meaningless. However, it is the farthest stage yet reached of their ongoing progression and it claims its place in their catalog as an utter triumph in its achievement. For established fans or open-minded newcomers, it should not be missed.

Amorphis, “Wrong Direction” official video

Amorphis website

Amorphis on Thee Facebooks

Amorphis at Nuclear Blast website

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