Quarterly Review: Earthless, Satan’s Satyrs, Mantar, Child, T.G. Olson, Canyon, Circle of the Sun, Mythic Sunship, Svarta Stugan, Bast

Posted in Reviews on December 6th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

There isn’t enough coffee in the universe, but I’ve got mine and I’m ready to burn the living crap out of my tongue if that’s what it takes to get through. We’ve arrived at Day 4 of the Quarterly Review, and though we’re less than halfway to the 100-album goal set by some maniac sitting at his kitchen table with a now-burnt tongue, there’s been an awful lot of good stuff so far. More even than I thought going into it, and I slate this stuff.

That said, today’s list is pretty killer. A lot of these bands will be more familiar than maybe has been the case or will be on some of the other days of this Quarterly Review. It just kind of worked out that way as I was putting it together. But hey, a few bigger bands here, a few “debut EP” demos there. It’s all good fun.

So let’s go.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Earthless, From the West

earthless from the west

Bonus points to whatever clever cat correctly decided that Earthless‘ 2018 studio album, Black Heaven (review here), needed a companion live record. With artwork mimicking a Led Zeppelin bootleg of the same name, From the West arrives through Silver Current and Nuclear Blast capturing the most powerful of power trios earlier this year in San Francisco, and it’s like the fire emoji came to life. With Mike Eginton‘s bass as the anchor and Mario Rubalcaba‘s drums as the driving force, guitarist Isaiah Mitchell starts ripping holes in the fabric of spacetime with “Black Heaven” and doesn’t stop until 64 minutes later as “Acid Crusher” dissolves into noise. Of course “Gifted by the Wind” from the latest LP is a highlight, and suitably enough, they cover Zeppelin‘s “Communication Breakdown,” but I’m not sure anything tops the extended take on “Uluru Rock” from 2013’s From the Ages (review here) — and yes, I mean that. Of course they pair it with the 1:48 surge of “Volt Rush,” because they’re Earthless, and brilliant is what they do. Every set they play should be recorded for posterity.

Earthless website

Silver Current Records on Bandcamp

Earthless at Nuclear Blast webstore

 

Satan’s Satyrs, The Lucky Ones

satans satyrs the lucky ones

Encased in cover art that begs the Spinal Tap question, “what’s wrong with being sexy?” and the response that Fran Drescher gave it, Virginia classic heavy rockers Satan’s Satyrs return with their fourth full-length, The Lucky Ones (on RidingEasy and Bad Omen), which also marks their first record as a four-piece with guitarist Nate Towle (Wicked Inquisition) joining the returning lineup of bassist/vocalist Clayton Burgess, guitarist Jared Nettnin and drummer Stephen Fairfield, who, between the fact that Burgess founded the band and played in Electric Wizard, and all the lead guitar antics from Nettnin and Towle, might be the unsung hero of the band. His performance is not lost in the recording by Windhand‘s Garrett Morris or Burgess‘ own hefty mix, and as one would expect, Satan’s Satyrs continue to deliver deceptively refined ’70s-heavy vibes caked in cult biker horror aesthetics. Some songs hit more than others, but Satan’s Satyrs‘ dust-kicking approach continues to win converts.

Satan’s Satyrs on Thee Facebooks

RidingEasy Records on Bandcamp

Bad Omen Records on Bandcamp

 

Mantar, The Modern Art of Setting Ablaze

mantar the modern art of setting ablaze

One generally thinks of Hamburg duo Mantar as having all the subtlety of a bone saw caught on video, and yet, in listening to “Seek + Forget” from their third album, The Modern Art of Setting Ablaze (on Nuclear Blast), there are some elements that seem to be reaching out on the part of the band. Guitarist Hanno‘s vocals are more enunciated and discernible, there is a short break from the all-out blackened-sludge-punk assault that’s been their trade since their start in 2012, and “Obey the Obscene” even has an organ. Still, the bulk of the 12-track/48-minute follow-up to 2016’s Ode to the Flame (review here) is given to extremity of purpose and execution, and in pieces like the churning “Anti Eternia” and the particularly-punked “Teeth of the Sea,” they work to refine their always-present threat of violence. Closer “The Funeral” brings back some of the quiet moodiness of intro “The Knowing” and underscores the point of sonic expansion. I hope next time they use a string section.

Mantar on Thee Facebooks

Nuclear Blast website

 

Child, I

child i

It took me a few minutes to get to the heart of what my problem with Child‘s I EP is. Really, I was sitting and listening to “Age Has Left Me Behind” — the first of the three included tracks on the 20-ish-minute 12″ — and I had to ask myself, “Why is this annoying me?” The answer? Because it’s not an album. That’s it. It’s not enough. Kudos to the Melbourne, Australia, heavy blues trio on having that be the biggest concern with their latest release — it follows 2016’s righteously-grooved Blueside (review here) — and kudos to them as well for their cover of Spirit‘s “The Other Song,” but of course it’s the 10-minute jam “Going Down Swinging” on side B that’s the immersive highlight of I, as Child‘s balance of softshoe-boogie and expansive mellow-psych is second to none in their subgenre. It’s not an album, and that’s kind of sad, but as a tide-ya-over until the next long-player arrives, I still does the trick nice and easy. And not to get greedy, but I’d take a II (or would it be You?) whenever they get around to it.

Child on Thee Facebooks

Kozmik Artifactz website

 

T.G. Olson, Wasatch Valley Lady & The Man from Table Mountain

tg olson wasatch valley lady and the man from table mountain

Across Tundras frontman T.G. Olson, who by now has well lapped that band’s output with his solo catalog, would seem to have sat down with his guitar sometime in the last week and put two songs to tape. The resulting 10-minute offering is Wasatch Valley Lady & The Man from Table Mountain, its component title-tracks stripping down some of the more elaborate arrangements he’s explored of late — his latest full-length, Riding Roughshod (review pending; it’s hard to keep up), came out in October — to expose the barebones construction at root in his Rocky Mountain country folk style. “Wasatch Valley Lady” and “The Man from Table Mountain” make an engaging couple, and while Olson has a host of videos on YouTube that are similarly just him and his acoustic, something about the audio-only recordings feel like a voice out of time reaching for human connection. The first seems to have a natural fade, and the second a more prominent rhythm showcased in harder strum, but both are sweet melodies evocative as ever of open landscapes and wistful experience.

Across Tundras on Thee Facebooks

T.G. Olson/Across Tundras on Bandcamp

 

Canyon, Mk II

canyon mk ii

The Deep Purple-referential Mk II title of Canyon‘s second EP, also the follow-up to their 2017 debut LP, Radiant Light, refers to the lineup change that’s seen Dean Welsh move to drums so that he and guitarist Peter Stanko can welcome bassist/vocalist Fred Frederick to the fold. The three included songs, the hooky “Mine Your Heart,” expansively fuzzed “Morphine Dreams” and bouncing “Roam” make a hell of a first offering from the reconstituted trio, who capture classic heavy naturalism in a chemistry between players that’s mirrored in the songwriting itself. Canyon‘s 2016 self-titled debut EP (review here) held marked promise, and even after the full-length, that promise would seem to be coming to fruition here. Their tones and craft are both right on, and there’s still some gelling to do between the three of them, but they leave no doubt with Mk II that this incarnation of Canyon can get there. And, if they keep up like this, get there quickly.

Canyon on Thee Facebooks

Canyon on Bandcamp

 

Circle of the Sun, Jams of Inner Perception

Circle of the Sun Jams of Inner Perception

One man jams! Psych-jam seekers will recognize Daniel Sax as the drummer for Berlin-based trio Cosmic Fall. Circle of the Sun is a solo-project from Sax and Jams of Inner Perception collects six tracks for 39 minutes of adventuring on his own. Sax sets his own backbeat and layers bass and “effectsbass” for a full-lineup feel amid the instrumental creations, and those looking to be hypnotized by the space-rocking jams will be. Flat out. Sax is no stranger to jamming, and as one soaks in “Jamming in Paradise” or its nine-minute predecessor “Liquid Sand,” there’s little mistaking his intention. Curious timing that Circle of the Sun would take shape following a lineup change in Cosmic Fall — perhaps it was put together in the interim? — but whether Jams of Inner Perception is a one-off of the beginning of a new avenue for Sax, its turn to blues noodling on “Desert Sun,” thick-toned “Moongroove” and fuzzy roll on “Acid Dream” demonstrate there are plenty of outer realms still to explore.

Circle of the Sun on Thee Facebooks

Circle of the Sun on Bandcamp

 

Mythic Sunship, Another Shape of Psychedelic Music

Mythic Sunship Another Shape of Psychedelic Music

The simplest way to put it is that Mythic Sunship‘s Another Shape of Psychedelic Music lives up to the lofty ambitions of its title. The Danish band is comprised of guitarists Kasper Stougaard Andersen and Emil Thorenfeldt, bassist Rasmus ‘Cleaver’ Christensen, drummer Frederik Denning and saxophonist Søren Skov, and with Causa Sui‘s Jonas Munk — who also produced the album — sitting in on the extended “Backyard Voodoo” (17:41) and “Out There” (13:53) as well as overseeing the release through El Paraiso, the band indeed makes there way into the far out reaches where jazz and psychedelia meet. It’s not about pretentiously saying they’re doing something that’s never been done. You’ll note it’s “another shape” and not a “new shape” or the “shape to come.” But immersion happens quickly on opener “Resolution” (14:23), and even quicker cuts like “Last Exit,” “Way Ahead” and “Elevation” carry the compelling spirit of forward-thinking creativity through their dynamic course, and if Mythic Sunship aren’t the shape of psychedelic music to come, it’s in no small part because there are so few out there who could hope to match what they do.

Mythic Sunship on Thee Facebooks

El Paraiso Records website

 

Svarta Stugan, Islands / Öar

svarta stugan islands oar

Islands / Öar — the second word being the Swedish translation of the first — is the 40-minute debut full-length from Gothenburg atmospheric heavy post-rock instrumentalists Svarta Stugan, who demonstrate in influence from Hex-era Earth on the opener “Islands III” but go on in subsequent tracks to pull together a sound distinct in its cinematic feel and moody execution. Five out of the seven component tracks are “Islands” pieces, which are presented out of order with “Islands IV” missing and “Islands Unknown” perhaps in its place, and the respective side A/B finales “Inner Space” and “Prospects Quatsi” standing apart. Both bring to bear a style ultimately consistent with the melancholy so rife throughout Islands / Öar as a whole, but they’re obviously intended as outliers, and so they seem to be. The LP release follows a couple shorter outings, issued over the past six-plus years, and it’s clear from the depths and range on display here in the build-to-crescendo of “Inner Space” alone that Svarta Stugan haven’t misspent their time in their progression to this point.

Svarta Stugan on Thee Facebooks

Svarta Stugan on Bandcamp

 

Bast, Nanoångström

bast nanoangstrom

Largesse of scope and largesse of tone work in tandem on Bast‘s Nanoångström full-length on Black Bow, as they bring together aspects of post-metallic churn and more extreme metal methods to hone a style highly individualized, highly weighted and as much cosmic as it is crushing. Through six tracks and 57 minutes, the London trio (plus two guest spots from Chris Naughton of Winterfylleth) careen and crash and set an atmosphere of chaos without actually being chaotic, their progressive craft working to tie the songs together into a larger impression of the work as a consuming entirety. It’s the kind of record you pick up and still hear new things in by the time they put out their next one. Production from Chris Fielding at Skyhammer Studio only helps creates the heights and depths of their dynamic, and whether they’re rolling out the severity of closer “The Ghosts Which Haunt the Space Between the Stars” or laying out the soundscape of “The Beckoning Void,” Bast shape the tenets of genre to suit their needs rather than try to work within the barriers of any particular style. Nanoångström is all the more complex and satisfying for their efforts in that regard.

Bast on Thee Facebooks

Black Bow Records webstore

 

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Híbrido Premiere “Pensando en un Eco de Instinto Interior” from Debut Album I

Posted in audiObelisk on November 5th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

hibrido

Think of it more like galaxy rock than space rock, because to some degree, space is chaos and galaxies, at least viewed from the unfathomable distances we see them, have shape, order. So it is with the progressive psychedelic heavy rock brought forth on the debut album, I, from Andalusian four-piece Híbrido. The arrival of said LP might seem pretty quick, as it was only last month they announced signing to Spinda Records, which has also released records for related outfits, but the truth is Híbrido have been bubbling under the surface for at least the past four years in one form or another, and the moniker could hardly be more appropriate given the breadth of influence which the five-track/46-minute debut showcases, with vocals handled by all four members of the band — guitarists Jose Angel “Oceano” Galindo (ex-Viaje a 800) and Zoa Rubio (Los Bradlys), bassist Jose “Pot” Moreno (Atavismo, ex-Viaje a 800) and drummer Sandri Pow (Atavismo, ex-Mind!) — and a lush depth of sound that’s as gorgeous melodically as is it is malleable in presentation, shifting between Floydian pastoralism and coastal vibes from their native Algeciras. Those familiar with the work of the much-loved Atavismo or the defunct and much-underrated Viaje a 800 will find recognizable elements at work throughout, but the form that Híbrido‘s work takes is distinct nonetheless.

To wit, the back and forth interplay of lead guitar in the 13-minute penultimate track “Les Pilules Vertes,” which by then has already unfolded nearly 10 minutes of proggy exploration, or the heavy, choral push in the hook of second track “Nada, Nadie” that follows the opener “Pensando en un Eco Instinto Interior,” which gracefully sets its bed on the bass and drums as the guitars set an airy atmosphere for the increasing echo of the vocals. Balance is the key. Think of a hybrid plant. They’re bred for specific characteristics, and in that way, Híbrido function much the same. Each member of the band brings something of their own to the proceedings, and it’s in the blending of those aspects that the personality of I is cast. “Pensando en un Eco Instinto Interior” makes its way into a hypnotic apex of winding lead guitar, reverbed vocals and energetic drum crash, but that it fades out should say something about the mission overall of Híbrido in that it’s less about where any individual piece ends up than how that piece contributes to the whole of the album. In that way, the record too is a hybrid of sorts. Following “Nada, Nadie,” centerpiece “Escarlata” brings together weighted low-end push with vocal harmonies and what I can only call an Andalusian shuffle, insistent rhythmically but still ultimately mellow enough to make a natural shift into the guitar/Mellotron-led second half. Soon enough, that leads to the heavier, fuzzier start of “Les Pilules Vertes,” but that’s only the first of many sides that song has to offer ahead of the 10-minute closer “Ente,” which takes a more rocking approach early and surprises after passing the 7:30 mark by including black metal-style rasping vocals amid all the surrounding melody.

They’re deep in the mix, but they’re there. I’m not imagining it. And they immediately change the context of the album, which ends with held out notes and a swipe of fingers on strings, to give a natural, in-studio feel to the curious last impression the band makes. Does anything really go in this galaxy? The way those screams are handled, they’re almost snuck in at the finish, and the message seems to be that Híbrido aren’t interested in constraints, and they’ll no more be bound by genre lines than they will by the expectation built from their own songcraft or past work. Fair enough if it works, which oddly, it does, both to be willfully jarring and sonically cohesive.

But that’s the message of overall, in case the point hasn’t been made: That these various sides can come together and create something new, finding new forms of resonance along the way. I don’t have an exact release date for the album, and they’re not revealing the cover art yet, but keep your eye on Spinda Records for preorders and whatnot, and I do have the pleasure today of hosting the premiere of “Pensando en un Eco de Instinto Interior,” which, as the first track on the LP and the first audio made public from it as well, is a great way to get yourself introduced. And you want to be introduced.

Sandri Pow was kind enough to offer some comment and you’ll find that as well under the player below.

Please enjoy:

Sandri Pow on “Pensando en un Eco Instinto Interior”:

The progression of this track brought some kind of balance to the whole record; a persistent and effective bass leads the rhythm this time, taking the hand of the drums, while both guitars dance together, combining an smooth and intense playing, changing in every moment…pure prog, rock, delays, and psychedelic lyrics.

Híbrido is:
Jose Angel “Oceano” Galindo – Guitar/vocals
Zoa Rubio – Guitar/vocals
Jose Pot – Bass/vocals/synth
Sandri Pow – Drums/vocals

Híbrido on Thee Facebooks

Spinda Records on Thee Facebooks

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Child Announce European Tour; Playing Up in Smoke, Desertfest Belgium, Keep it Low, Into the Void and Rockpalast

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 20th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

I guess when you’re crossing over Asia to go tour Europe from Australia, you want to make it worth the trip, but even so, the upcoming European jaunt from Melbourne-based heavy blues traditionalists Child is striking in its efficiency. Arriving ahead of Up in Smoke in Switzerland, the trio will spend just under three weeks on the road in the EU and finish in the UK, making stops at Desertfest Belgium 2018, Keep it Low and Into the Void festivals along the way. Of note as well is the date at Rockpalast Crossroads, which will of course be filmed and aired and is likely to make its way online as those videos regularly do. And oh yeah, a goodly portion of the dates are with Acid King, so fucking a, this is a really good god damn tour.

Child go carrying the last copies of their limited 45RPM 12″ vinyl EP, titled simply I, which was released earlier this year on Kozmik Artifactz and is another one of those outings I lost on my stolen laptop back in May before I could give it a writeup. Never too late, I suppose, with a Quarterly Review coming in the next couple weeks. Onto the list they go.

They sent the following down the PR wire:

child euro tour poster

Child – European Tour Oct. 2018

CHILD are returning to Europe in October 2018 to play ROCKPALAST CROSSROADS on German TV station WDR with US chart toppers BLACKBERRY SMOKE. Alongside this will be a selection of autumn festivals, a run of club shows with our legendary friends ACID KING and headline club shows. Remaining vinyl copies of our recent EP “I” are only available from shows and will almost certainly be sold out by the end of the tour.

Details and tickets available at www.childtheband.com

Supported by Marshall Amplification and Roger Mayer Effects Pedals

Dates:
10.04 AUT – Vienna, Szene *
10.05 DEU – Ulm, Hexenhaus
10.06 CHE – Pratteln, Z7 Konzertfabrik, Up In Smoke
10.07 DEU – Dresden, Chemiefabrik *
10.08 DEU – Hamburg, Hafenklang *
10.09 DNK – Copenhagen, KB 18 *
10.10 SWE – Gothenburg, The Abyss *
10.11 NOR – Oslo, John Dee *
10.13 DEU – Bonn, Harmonie, Rockpalast Crossroads w/ Blackberry Smoke
10.14 BEL – Antwerp, Trix, Desertfest
10.15 DEU – Cologne, MTC *
10.16 DEU – Freiburg, White Rabbit Club
10.17 ITA – Milan, Ligera *
10.18 ITA – Bologna, Freak Out Club *
10.19 DEU – Munich, Feierwerk, Keep It Low
10.20 NLD – Leeurwarden, Neushoorn, Into the Void
10.21 NLD – Utrecht, Db’s *
10.23 GBR – London, The Black Heart
* with Acid King

https://www.facebook.com/childtheband
https://www.instagram.com/childtheband/
http://www.childtheband.com
https://childtheband.bandcamp.com
https://www.youtube.com/childtheband
http://kozmik-artifactz.com/artist/child/

Child, I EP (2018)

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The Horned God Sign to Desert Records; Debut Album Coming Soon

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 12th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

THE HORNED GOD

Based on the comics of olde — from a time before the medium became a dominant driving force of American popular culture; when they were still for weirdos and nerds — The Horned God are set to make their debut this Fall through Desert Records. They’re the first act signed to the new label helmed by Brad Frye, also the guitarist and vocalist of Red Mesa, but apparently not the last. In addition to announcing the pickup of fellow Albuquerquians The Horned God, Frye teased that he’d be working with, “a veteran psychedelic doom band from New England.” Intrigue!

In the meantime, I’m curious to hear what’s in store for The Horned God‘s first album, which has been given the title The Horned God I, since as you can see above and in the freshly-unveiled artwork immediately below, they’re not exactly going light on the concept.

From the social medias:

the horned god cover

THE HORNED GOD – BAND SIGNING ANNOUNCEMENT!

Desert Records is proud to introduce you to THE HORNED GOD!

Hailing from Albuquerque, NM but playing a very unique style of Ancient Celtic stoner and desert rock inspired by the 1983 comic book classic Slaine: The Horned God.

Debut album coming this Fall!

Vinyl and digital formats.

The Horned God says: “Let the commencement begin! The Horned God is officially the first band signed to Desert Records Label! Epic things on the horizon… and we are so honored to be a part of this music community. Thank you, Brad Frye and Desert Records!”

The Horned God is a Cosplay band, based on the comic book masterpiece by Pat Mills, and Simon Bisley, Slaine: The Horned God.

Comic book writer Pat Mills brought the character of Slaine mac Roth, a Celtic barbarian warrior king who along with his axe Brainbiter and his ability to warp spasm in order to defend his people against the dark druid Slough Feg, to life in 1983 in his graphic novel series titled Slaine. In 1989 Pat Mills collaborated with illustrator Simon Bisley and published the three book series Slaine: The Horned God. In this series Slaine goes on a quest to collect four artifacts that once united will enable him to become high king and lead his people into battle in the hopes of saving them from Slough Feg and his army.

In 2012 the next adaptation of the story began in Albuquerque New Mexico when three friends took their love of the story and combined it with their passion of music and created the three piece cosplay stoner rock or as they call it, “Ancient Celtic inspired stoner rock, legends and lore, of love and war!!!”, musical interruption appropriately named, The Horned God.

The Horned God consist of three members, Dominic on vocals and guitar, Robson on bass and Tim on drums. This one of a kind dynamic three piece bring the story of Slaine to life with lyrical dialog and narratives ripped from the pages of the book accompanied by full costume and projected comic book cells throughout the entire performance.

https://www.facebook.com/HornedGodBand/
https://www.facebook.com/desertrecordlabel/

The Horned God, Live at the Launchpad, 2012

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Friday Full-Length: Stone Axe, I

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 20th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Those who cite retro heavy rock as a European-only phenomenon have obviously never dug into Stone Axe‘s 2009 debut, Stone Axe I. The album, with its striking, vinyl-ready cover art and 10-track/38-minute run, was created with the express mission of paying homage to heavy ’70s rock and roll. And that’s precisely what it did, capturing the warmth of production and a live-in-the-studio feel that remains one of the best American executions of the style regardless of the band’s seemingly permanent dissolution. With the hooks of songs like “Black Widow,” opener “Riders of the Night,” “The Skylah Rae” and “There’d Be Days,” Stone Axe proffered memorable craft the whole time through, keeping a mellow groove beneath even its most active moments despite changes in instrumentation and mood. Live, the band included the rhythm section of bassist Mike DuPont and drummer Mykey Haslip, but in the studio it was just vocalist Dru Brinkerhoff and guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Tony Reed.

If the latter name is familiar, it should be. Reed partnered with Brinkerhoff and launched Stone Axe after putting his prior outfit, Mos Generator, to rest in indefinite-hiatus style following 2007’s Songs for Future Gods, which, like Stone Axe I, was released through Roadburn Records. Mos Generator‘s own classic heavy rock influence was one thing, but Stone Axe brought it to another level entirely. Listening to the Led Zeppelin-style blast of “Sky is Falling” and the telltale Thin Lizzy bounce of the subsequent “There’d Be Days” — as well as that in closer “Taking Me Home” — Stone Axe did nothing to mask the direct lines they drew to titans of ’70s heavy, in the Mellotron finish of “My Darkest Days” and the infuriatingly catchy blues rocker “Black Widow,” the band evoked a sense of melancholy beneath a harder-driving atmosphere, but the album never lost its sense of class either in theme or delivery. “The Skylah Rae” told a tale of humans leaving Earth on a giant ship that shared its name with the title, and side B brought about some considerable turns in momentum, whether it was the boogie of “Rhinoceros” or the swagger of “Diamonds and Fools.” Penultimate groover “Return of the Worm” brought a perfectly-paced rhythmic nod to bear and topped it with Brinkerhoff‘s boozy vocals, which were no less classic than any other element put to use, be it instrument or production. The dude absolutely killed on vocals. Just nailed it.

And in many ways, it’s the Brinkerhoff/Reed partnership that’s essential to understand when it comes to Stone Axe. stone axe iConsider that, at that point, Reed was coming off playing guitar and handling vocals in Mos Generator, and that he was also prone to not only recording the band’s albums but releasing them as well. I don’t know who penned the lyrics for Stone Axe, but even if he did, for Reed to step out of the frontman position and relinquish that to anyone else must have been a significant sacrifice for a band that was still ostensibly his as he was writing the songs and playing guitar, bass, drums and whatever else. Stone Axe was a significant turn away from Mos Generator precisely because Reed brought Brinkerhoff on board as the vocalist in order to better capture that classic rock feel, which, again Brinkerhoff‘s voice seemed to be made to bring to life.

And speaking of life, how about those live-recorded tracks on Stone Axe I, huh? Well, no. It would’ve been impossible with just Reed handling all the instruments. Natural sounding cuts like “My Darkest Days” and “Diamonds and Fools,” that easy groove in “Black Widow” and “The Skylah Rae” would’ve had to have been tracked one instrument at a time — probably the drums first, then bass, guitar and whatever keys after. Then Brinkerhoff would be able to sing over the final tracks. Yet Stone Axe I in no way sounds pieced together in this way. It sounds like players in a room hashing it out. Stone Axe I did a better job capturing a live feel than a lot of albums that are recorded live, and it’s a credit to Reed as a producer that that was the case. The material lends itself to an organic vibe, to be sure, but it would’ve been easy for the songs to come out staid and lifeless, and they’re anything but.

Like its 2010 follow-up, Stone Axe II (review here), Stone Axe I was reissued via Ripple Music after Reed signed with the label in 2010. I got to write the liner notes for the second record. A slew of releases were hinted at in that announcement, including a third full-length — which at one point they even started writing — but the band’s last studio outing would be a split with Germany’s Wight on Fat & Holy Records in 2012, the same year Ripple put out both Stone Axe‘s Captured Live! Roadburn Festival 2011 and Mos Generator‘s return long-player, Nomads (review here), the success of which effectively relaunched that band, which would go on to revamp its lineup and become the full-time touring act they remain until now. In the meantime, Reed channeled his love of classic heavy into a solo covers release called The Lost Chronicles of Heavy Rock, Vol. 1 in 2015, which he’s newly pressed onto CD ahead of a quick run of Midwestern Mos Generator shows next month that will take them to the Stoned Meadow of Doom festival.

Though a third Stone Axe album would never manifest, it’s somehow all the more fitting that, like so much of the ’70s heavy rock movement that inspired them it would be somewhat cut short only to have the two albums go on to become cult classics as they have and no doubt will continue to do. Would I ever say never on a Stone Axe resurgence? Never. But with Mos Generator topping tour bills and playing gigs like the Main Stage at Hellfest in France, one could hardly argue Reed‘s time continues to be anything other than well spent. Stone Axe was what it was, and I’m glad there are the records to document that, because it’s worth preserving.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

Goodness gracious. Was it enough week for you? It was definitely enough for me. I feel like my head’s still spinning from the Quarterly Review. I have a ritual I undertake every time I finish one of those where I clear the folders off my desktop — they go in my Albums folder — and delete the header because I’m not going to use it again, and I don’t even think I have the energy to do it. Maybe tomorrow, though probably not.

My plan for tonight is to go see Sasquatch at the Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn. I’m hemming and hawing and of course everything depends on the baby, so we’ll see. If I leave at seven I’ll get to Brooklyn by 9, blah blah blah. I’m keeping my fingers crossed I can get my ass out of the house. Tomorrow morning it’s a drive north to Connecticut and then seeing Backwoods Payback in New London. Then Sunday it’s back to New York for Bible of the Devil. As of right now I want to hit all three shows. Next weekend I want to do the same thing. Three shows, three nights in a row, and then that’s probably my quota for the rest of the year, surprise YOB gigs if there are any and Psycho Las Vegas notwithstanding.

Depending on what I actually get to — this is an ambitious plan, I recognize — is the schedule for next week, but here’s the notes as they stand now:

Mon.: Sasquatch live review/Arcadian Child premiere.
Tue.: Backwoods Payback live review; CB3 video premiere.
Wed.: Bible of the Devil live review; Lurk track premiere.
Thu.: Sergio Ch. video premiere.
Fri. Forming the Void premiere/review.

That’s a lot of live reviews for one week. Feels like even more coming off a Quarterly Review. But again, I’m going to try. If it doesn’t pan out, there are always plenty of albums to be written up.

Thanks for reading this week if you did, and either way, please have a great and safe weekend. Maybe I’ll see you at a show. I hope so.

All the best. Forum and Radio.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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Quarterly Review: Hallatar, Alastor, The Dead-End Alley Band, Hair of the Dog, Soup, Kungens Män, Smoke Wizzzard, Highburnator, The Curf, Ulls

Posted in Reviews on September 29th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk quarterly review

Here we are, gathered for round four of the Fall 2017 Quarterly Review. After the technical issues with the site for the last couple days, I’m glad to have everything back up and running, and one more time I thank Slevin and Behrang Alavi for making that happen. Though I have no idea what it might actually entail, I don’t imagine switching hosts on the fly for a site with as much content as this one has is easy, but they of course killed it and it is thoroughly appreciated. We move forward, as ever, with 10 more records. So let’s go.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Hallatar, No Stars Upon the Bridge

hallatar-no-stars-upon-the-bridge

Finland’s Hallatar was formed after the passing of Trees of Eternity vocalist Aleah Starbridge, life partner of guitarist and songwriter Juha Ravio (also Swallow the Sun). In the new outfit, Ravio pays homage to Starbridge with the debut long-player No Stars Upon the Bridge (on Svart) by using her poems as lyrics, samples of her voice reading on “Raven’s Song,” “Spiral Gate” and the piano-backed centerpiece “Pieces,” and by bringing in Amorphis vocalist Tomi Joutsen and ex-HIM drummer Gas Lipstick to complete a trio playing nine tracks/40 minutes of deeply mournful/beautiful death-doom. The extremity of lurch in “The Maze” late in the record is matched by the gorgeousness of the chants and shimmering guitar on closer “Dreams Burn Down,” and from the opening strains of “Mirrors,” the emotion driving No Stars Upon the Bridge is sincere and affecting. Cuts like “Melt” and the mostly-whispered-until-it-explodes “My Mistake” have a sense of the theatrical in their delivery, but that makes them no less genuine, and though one wouldn’t wish the circumstances leading to the band’s formation on anybody, there’s no question that with Hallatar, Ravio turns tragedy into a lush, resonant catharsis.

Hallatar on Thee Facebooks

Svart Records website

 

Alastor, Black Magic

alastor black magic

Cultish echoes pervade Black Magic, the debut album from Swedish doom-rolling four-piece Alastor, and it’s not so much that the initials-only four-piece of guitarists H and J, bassist/vocalist R and drummer S take influence from Electric Wizard and Black Sabbath, it’s what they do with that influence that’s most striking. Black Magic is made up of three extended tracks – “Enemy” (11:51), “Nothing to Fear” (7:42) and “Black Magic” (14:27) – and with a deep tonal engagement, each one embarks on a huge-sounding sprawl of doom. Yes, the guitars owe the swirl in “Nothing to Fear” to Jus Oborn, but the echoes behind R’s voice there and the melody have an almost New Wave-style feel despite the “all right now!” drawn right from the Ozzy playbook. In other words, Alastor are preaching to the converted, and that holds true in the snowblinded Luciferian spaciousness of the title-track’s early going as well, but the converted should have no problem finding the gospel in what they’re hearing, and as “Black Magic” rounds out with its chanted feel, Alastor affirm the potential to progress within this sound and to continue to develop it into something even more their own than it is now. Familiar superficially, but sneaky in the details, so watch out.

Alastor on Thee Facebooks

Twin Earth Records webstore

 

The Dead-End Alley Band, Storms

the dead-end-alley-band-storms

Lima-based four-piece The Dead-End Alley Band aren’t far into opener “Red Woman” before the dark-psych vibe and languid groove have properly emphasized just how much the guitar of Leonardo Alva and the organ of Sebastian Sanchez-Botta (also vocals) complement each other. Propelled by the rhythm section of bassist/vocalist Javier Kou and drummer Jafer Diaz, Storms is the third album from them behind 2015’s Odd Stories (discussed here) and 2013’s debut, Whispers of the Night (review here), and it continues to blend fuzz and classic garage doom impulses on songs like “Headstone Fortress” and the shuffling “Thunderbolts and Lace,” the latter of which wah-trips to the max around a stirring boogie before “The Clock has Stopped” weirds out on extra vocal echoes and nine-minute closer “Waiting for the Void” brings in the progressive touches of pan flute and percussion. Even in the earlier, shortest track “Need You (It’s Enough),” The Dead-End Alley Band bring no shortage of personality to the proceedings, and confirm that the rough edges of their early outings have matured into essential aspects of who they have become as a band, completely in control of their craft and able to conjure an atmosphere both classic and individual.

The Dead-End Alley Band on Thee Facebooks

The Dead-End Alley Band on Bandcamp

Forbidden Place Records website

 

Hair of the Dog, This World Turns

hair-of-the-dog-this-world-turns

Making their debut on Kozmik Artifactz, Scottish trio Hair of the Dog give their guitar-led compositions plenty of time to flesh out on This World Turns, their third album, as they demonstrate quickly on the nine-plus minute titular opener and longest track (immediate points), but one would hardly call their songwriting indulgent there or anywhere else as “This World Turns” flows easily into the following seven-minute push of “Keeping Watch over the Night” in a resolute one-two punch that soon gives way to the shorter and more driving “Ctrl-Alt-Del,” touching on influences from Thin Lizzy and Scorpions en route as well as modern practitioners like Kadavar, whose stamp can also be heard on side B launch “The Colours in Her Skin.” That’s not to say Hair of the Dog — guitarist/vocalist Adam Holt (interview here), bassist Iain Thomson and drummer Jon Holt – don’t leave their own mark as well, just that their blend stems from multiple sources. A bit of Lynottism surfaces in the penultimate “In Death’s Hands” as well, which has a more subdued feel despite fervent rhythmic movement underlying, and closer “4AM” soars with enough vigor and soul – and a little falsetto – to give This World Turns a suitably smooth and vibrant finish.

Hair of the Dog on Thee Facebooks

Kozmik Artifactz website

 

Soup, Remedies

soup remedies

With ties to Motorpsycho through guitarist Hans Magnus “Snah” Ryan, Soup issue their sixth long-player in the five-track lush melodicism of Remedies, which feels particularly aptly named for the immersion the wash that opener “Going Somewhere” is able to elicit. That is, of course, just the first of the spacious, semi-folk-infused progressions, and it’s with the longer-form “The Boy and the Snow” (11:33) and the psychedelic purposeful meandering of “Sleepers” (13:35) that Remedies truly unveils its considerable breadth, but the Crispin Glover Records release holds a sense of poise even in the two-minute centerpiece church organ interlude “Audion,” and the harmonies of “Nothing Like Home” bring to mind peak-era Porcupine Tree patience and fluidity while holding fast to the bright, orange-sunshiny warmth of the atmosphere as a whole, instruments dropping out just before three minutes in to showcase the vocals before returning to embark on the march to the final crescendo, not at all overblown but with just a touch of extra volume to let listeners dive deeper into the moment. Remedies feels quick at 42 minutes, but turns out to be just what the doctor ordered.

Soup on Thee Facebooks

Crispin Glover Records website

 

Kungens Män, Dag & Natt

kungens-man-dag-natt

Prolific psych-progging Stockholmers Kungens Män return with Dag & Natt, a 2CD/2LP issued through Kungens Ljud & Bild (CD) and Adansonia Records (LP) that overflows with jazzy fluidity and gorgeous immersion. The band’s last studio outing was late-2015’s Förnekaren (review here), and whether it’s 13-minute pieces like opener “Morgonrodnad” and the even-more-krautrocking “Aftonstjärnan” or the seemingly complementary inclusions of the kosmiche-minded “Dag” and wonderfully drifting “Natt,” the album as a whole is a joy and a boon to anyone looking for an extended psychedelic meander. The saxophone of Gustav Nygren on the aforementioned leadoff and “Natt” makes a particularly striking impression, but with a steady, languid wash of guitar, synth and warm bass throughout, Dag & Natt wants nothing for flow, and the gentle, classy spirit is maintained even as the penultimate “Vargtimmen” ups the sense of thrust leading into the finisher payoff of “Cirkeln är Slut.” As of now, Kungens Män should be considered a too-well-kept secret of Scandinavia’s psych underground, though listening to Dag & Natt, one wonders just how long they’ll stay that way.

Kungens Män on Thee Facebooks

Adansonia Records website

 

Smoke Wizzzard, Run with the Wolf

smoke-wizzzard-run-with-the-wolf

Whether it’s through the striking and gruesome cover art or through the lumbering post-Sabbath, post-Cathedral stoner-doom nod contained within, Smoke Wizzzard’s five-song self-titled debut LP thoroughly earns its third ‘z’ – and, for that matter, its second one – with played-to-form thickness and a tonal push that starts with 10-minute opener/longest track (immediate points) “Astro Lord” and continues to swagger and swing with due viscosity through “Reptiles” after the minute-long punker curveball “Soul Train.” The highlight of the Pittsburgh trio’s first outing might be “The Pass,” which has a hazy patience and some rightly-featured bass tone, but as “Run with the Wolf” moves from its early Electric Wizard muckraking to cap with piano and included howls for a doomier feel, it becomes clear Smoke Wizzzard have yet to play their full stylistic hand and the real highlights may still be yet to come. Fair enough. Something tells me getting stranger is only going to be a boon to Smoke Wizzzard’s approach on the whole, so bring it on.

Smoke Wizzzard on Thee Facebooks

Smoke Wizzzard on Bandcamp

 

Highburnator, Keystoned State

highburnator-keystoned-state

If you hit up Highburnator’s Bandcamp and download their name-your-price Keystoned State EP, you might note the fifth and final inclusion is the entire live-recorded, 28-minute release presented as a single track. No doubt the Pennsylvania three-piece intend the four-song outing to be taken just that way. They begin with the “mad as hell” speech sampled from the 1976 film Network and from there unfold a potent riffly brew met head on with harsh East Coast hardcore-style vocals and more metallic growls. That’s nine-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “The Brass Rail,” and it sets the tone for what follows on the eponymous “Highburnator” before “Desert Funeral” and the Sleep-style nod of “Peaking at the Coffin” push into even more stonerly vibes. This melding of pissed-off disaffection and mid-paced heavy rock groove is particular to the sludge of the Eastern Seaboard – think of it as regional fare – but Highburnator find space for themselves in the rawness of their riffs and the charm of their puns, and by the time they’re through the four songs, it makes sense why they might want to present the full onslaught as a single entity, essentially giving it to their listeners on one overflowing platter. Got the munchies? It’s right there waiting.

Highburnator on Thee Facebooks

Highburnator on Bandcamp

 

The Curf, Death and Love

the-curf-death-and-love

Greek psych-doomers The Curf made their debut in 2007 with I and then went radio silent until last year’s Royal Water EP. Their sophomore full-length, Death and Love, then, arrives via Fuzz Ink Records with some amount of intrigue behind it, but either way, the sans-pretense heavy roll the band unfurls on “Dark Hado,” and the more uptempo “Smoke Ring,” the dig-in low end of “Lunar Lair” and the scream-topped start-stoppery of “California” present a varied take brought together through heft as well as the crispness of production and delivery, such that when it wants to, Death and Love can bite down hard, but as on the closing title-track or the earlier “Order ‘n’ Sin,” it can rumble out spaciousness as well. Whatever might’ve taken The Curf so long to put together a second album beats the hell out of me, but if they were looking to make an argument for a third one, they do so convincingly across these nine songs, which hold firmly to their overarching flow despite the emergent stylistic range.

The Curf on Thee Facebooks

Fuzz Ink Records webstore

 

Ulls, I

ULLS I

For now, Ulls is the solo-project of Barcelona-based David Trillo, formerly guitarist/vocalist for the heavy progressive trio Lord Summerisle, but the hope seems to be to build a full band at some point in the future. The I EP might rightly be called a demo, then, but for the professionalism and cohesiveness of sound with which its three songs are presented and the clarity of intent behind them. With Trillo rumbling away on bass beneath, six-minute opener “Inhumat” fleshes out its arrangement with organ alongside guitar swirl and sets up the classically swinging strut of “Llot Convuls,” on which the drums post-midsection lead the way through starts and stops à la a restless King Crimson and the guitar joins with no less angularity. Eight-minute closer “L’Emersió de l’Executor” brings about a thicker overall tone, but holds to a similar mood through its first half, Trillo finding room after about the four-and-a-half-minute mark for a standout solo executed with the bass running fluidly alongside that carries the song to its fading finish just before seven minutes in, at which point a residual drone takes hold to lead the way out. That ending is telling when it comes to various impulses that might show themselves in Ulls going forward, but as an initial demonstration, suffice it to say that I makes it plain Trillo shouldn’t have much trouble finding other players to come aboard the band with him.

Ulls on Instagram

Ulls on Bandcamp

 

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Quarterly Review: Lucifer, Rosetta, Mantar, King Giant, Si Ombrellone, Grand Massive, Carlton Melton Meets Dr. Space, Shiggajon, Mount Hush, Labasheeda

Posted in Reviews on July 3rd, 2015 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk summer quarterly review

The final day of the Quarterly Review is upon us. It has been one hell of a week, I don’t mind saying, but good and productive overall, if in a kind of cruel way. I hope that you’ve been able to find something in sifting through all these releases that you really dig. I have, for whatever that’s worth. Before we dig into the last batch, I just want to thank you for checking in and reading this week. If you’ve seen all five of these or if this is the first bunch you’ve come across, that you’re here at all is appreciated immensely.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Lucifer, Lucifer I

lucifer lucifer i

Vocalist Johanna Sadonis, who burst into the international underground consciousness last year with The Oath, resurfaces following that band’s quick dissolution alongside former Cathedral guitarist and riffer-of-legend Gary “Gaz” Jennings in Lucifer, whose Lucifer I eight-song debut LP is released on Rise Above Records. Joined by bassist Dino Gollnick and drummer Andrew Prestidge, Sadonis and Jennings wind through varied but thoroughly doomed atmospheres across songs like opener “Abracadabra” – the outright silliness of the “magic word” kind of undercutting the cultish impression for which Lucifer are shooting – or early highlights “Purple Pyramid” and “Izrael.” A strong side A rounding out with “Sabbath,” Lucifer I can feel somewhat frontloaded, but on repeat listens, the layered chorus of “White Mountain,” “Morning Star”’s late-arriving chug, the classically echoing “Total Eclipse” and the atmospheric finish of “A Grave for Each One of Us” hold their own. After a strong showing from Lucifer’s debut single, the album doesn’t seem like it will do anything to stop the band’s already-in-progress ascent. Their real test will be in the live arena, but they sustain a thematic ambience across Lucifer I’s 44 minutes, and stand ready to follow Rise Above labelmates Ghost and Uncle Acid toward the forefront of modern doom.

Lucifer on Thee Facebooks

Rise Above Records

Rosetta, Quintessential Ephemera

rosetta quintessential ephemera

Drone-prone Philadelphia post-metallers Rosetta return with Quintessential Ephemera, the follow-up to 2013’s The Anaesthete and their fifth LP overall, which resounds in its ambience as a reinforcement of how little the band – now a five-piece with the inclusion of guitarist Eric Jernigan – need any hype or genre-push to sustain them. Through a titled intro, “After the Funeral,” through seven untitled tracks of varying oppressiveness and rounding out with the unabashedly pretty instrumental “Nothing in the Guise of Something,” they continue to plug away at their heady approach, relentless in their progression and answering the darker turns of their prior outing with a shift toward a more colorful atmosphere. At 52 minutes, Quintessential Ephemera isn’t a slight undertaking, but if you were expecting one you probably haven’t been paying attention to the last decade of Rosetta’s output. As ever, they are cerebral and contemplative while staying loyal to the need for an emotional crux behind what they do, and the album is both dutiful and forward-looking.

Rosetta on Thee Facebooks

Rosetta on Bandcamp

Golden Antenna Records

War Crime Recordings

Mantar, Death by Burning

mantar death by burning

Pressed up by Brutal Panda Records for Stateside issue following a 2014 release in Europe on Svart, Death by Burning is the debut full-length from sans-bass Hamburg duo Mantar – vocalist/guitarist Hanno, drummer/vocalist Erinc – and as much as it pummels and writhes across its thrash-prone 10 tracks, opener “Spit” setting a tone for the delivery throughout, there are flourishes of both character and groove to go with all the bludgeoning throughout standout cuts like “Cult Witness,” “The Huntsmen,” the explosive “White Nights,” “The Stoning” and the more lumbering instrumental closer “March of the Crows,” the two-piece seamlessly drawing together elements of doom, thrash and blackened rock and roll into a seething, tense concoction that’s tonally weighted enough to make one’s ears think they’re hearing bass strings alongside the guitar, but still overarchingly raw in a manner denoting some punk influence. Bonus points for the Tom G. Warrior-style “ough!” grunts that make their way into “The Stoning” and the rolling nod of “Astral Kannibal.” Nasty as hell, but more subtle than one might expect.

Mantar on Thee Facebooks

Svart Records

Brutal Panda Records

King Giant, Black Ocean Waves

king giant black ocean waves

Though it seems King Giant’s fate to be persistently underrated, the Virginian dual-guitar five-piece offer their most stylistically complex material to date on their third full-length, Black Ocean Waves (released on The Path Less Traveled Records and Graveyard Hill), recorded by J. Robbins (Clutch, Murder by Death, etc.) as the follow-up to 2012’s Dismal Hollow (streamed here). Still commanded by the vocal presence of frontman Dave Hammerly, the album also finds moments of flourish in the guitars of David Kowalski and Todd “T.I.” Ingram on opener “Mal de Mer,” the leads on “Requiem for a Drunkard” or the intro to extended finishing move “There Were Bells,” bassist Floyd Lee Walters III and drummer Keith Brooks holding down solid rhythms beneath the steady chug of “The One that God Forgot to Save” and “Blood of the Lamb.” Side A closer “Red Skies” might be where it all ties together most, but the full course of Black Ocean Waves’ eight tracks provides a satisfying reminder of the strength in King Giant’s craftsmanship.

King Giant on Thee Facebooks

The Path Less Traveled Records on Thee Facebooks

Si Ombrellone, Horns on the Same Goat

si ombrellone horns on the same goat

The 14 single-word-title tracks of Si Ombrellone’s Horns on the Same Goat were originally recorded in 2006, but for a 2015 release, Connecticut-based multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Simon Tuozzoli (Vestal Claret, King of Salem) took them back into his own UP Recording Studio for touch-ups and remastering. The endeavor is a solo outing for Tuozzoli, styled in a kind of post-grunge rock with Frank Picarazzi playing drums to give a full-band feel, and finds catchy, poppy songwriting coming forward in the layered vocals of “Innocence,” while later, “Forgiveness” and “Darkness” offset each other more in theme than sound, as “Love” and “Hate” had done earlier, the album sticking to its straightforward structures through to six-minute closer “Undone,” which boasts a more atmospheric take. It’s an ambitious project to collect 14 sometimes disparate emotional themes onto a single outing, never mind to do it (mostly) alone – one might write an entire record about “Trust,” say, or “Rage,” which opens – but Tuozzoli matches his craftsmanship with a sincerity that carries through each of these tracks.

Si Ombrellone on Thee Facebooks

Si Ombrellone album downloads

Grand Massive, 2

grand massive 2

Boasting a close relationship to Duster69 and Mother Misery and featuring in their ranks Daredevil Records owner Jochen Böllath, who plays guitar, German heavy rockers Grand Massive revel in commercial-grade Euro-style tonal heft bordering on metallic aggression. 2 is their aptly-titled second EP (on Daredevil) and it finds Böllath, lead guitarist Peter Wisenbacher, vocalist Alex Andronikos, bassist Toby Brandl and drummer Holger Stich running through six crisply-executed tracks of catchy, fist-pumping riffy drive, slowing a bit for the creepy ambience of the interlude “Woods” or the more lurching tension of “I am Atlas,” but most at home in the push of “Backseat Devil” and closer “My Own Sickness,” a mid-paced groove adding to the festival-ready weight Grand Massive conjure. Word is they’re already at work on a follow-up. Fair enough, but 2 has plenty to offer in the meantime in its tight presentation and darker vibes, Grand Massive having been through a wringer of lineup changes and emerged with their songwriting well intact.

Grand Massive on Thee Facebooks

Daredevil Records

Carlton Melton Meets Dr. Space, Live from Roadburn 2014

carlton-melton-meets-dr.-space-live-from-roadburn-festival-2014

If you guessed “spacey as hell” as regards this meeting between NorCal psych explorers Carlton Melton and Scott “Dr. Space” Heller of Danish jammers Øresund Space Collective, go ahead and give yourself the prize. Limited to 300 copies worldwide courtesy of Lay Bare Recordings and Space Rock Productions, Carlton Melton Meets Dr. Space’s Live from Roadburn 2014 is a consuming, near-100-minute unfolding, Heller joining Carlton Melton on stage for four of the total seven inclusions, adding his synthesized swirl to the swirling wash, already by then 26 minutes deep after the opening “Country Ways > Spiderwebs” establishes a heady sprawl that only continues to spread farther and farther as pieces unfold, making “Out to Sea” seem an even more appropriate title. It will simply be too much for some, but as somebody who stood and heard the sounds oozing from the stage at Cul de Sac in Tilburg, the Netherlands, as part of the Roadburn 2014 Afterburner event, I can say it was a special trip to behold. It remains so here.

Carlton Melton’s website

Øresund Space Collective on Thee Facebooks

Lay Bare Recordings

Shiggajon, Sela

shiggajon sela

According to El Paraiso Records, Sela was held up as so many releases have been owing to plant production having been overwhelmed by Record Store Day and will be out circa August. Fair enough. Consider this advance warning of Danish improve collective Shiggajon’s first outing for the Causa Sui-helmed imprint, then, and don’t be intimidated as we get closer to the release and people start talking about things like “free jazz” and dropping references to this or that Coltrane. The real deal with Shiggajon – central figures Mikkel Reher-Lanberg (percussion, drums, clarinet) and Nikolai Brix Vartenberg (sax) here joined by Emil Rothenborg (violin, double bass), Martin Aagaard Jensen (drums), Mikkel Elzer (drums, percussion, guitar), Sarah Lorraine Hepburn (vocals, flute, electronics, tingshaws) – is immersive and tipped over into music as the ritual itself. One might take on the two 18-minute halves of Sela with a similarly open mind as when approaching Montibus Communitas and be thrilled at the places the album carries you. I hope to have more to come, but again, heads up – this one is something special.

Shiggajon’s Blogspot

El Paraiso Records

Mount Hush, Low and Behold!

mount hush low and behold

“The Spell” proves right away that Alps-based heavy rockers Mount Hush (I love that they don’t specify a country) have the post-Queens of the Stone Age fuzz-thrust down pat on their debut EP Low and Behold, but the band also bring an element of heavy psychedelia to their guitar work and the vocals – forward in the mix – have a bluesier but not caricature-dudely edge, so even as they bounce through the “Come on pretty baby” hook of “The Spell,” they’re crafting their own sound. The subsequent “King Beyond” showcases how to have a Graveyard influence without simply pretending to sound like Graveyard, even going so far as to repurpose a classic rock reference – “Strange Days” by The Doors – in its pursuit, and the seven-minute “The Day She Stole the Sun” stretches out for a more psychedelic build. Most exciting of all on a conceptual level is closer “Levitations.” Drumless, it sets ethereal vocals and samples over a tonal swirl and airy, quieter strumming. Hardly adrenaline-soaked and not intended to be, but it shows Mount Hush have a genuine will to experiment, and it’s one I hope they continue to develop.

Mount Hush on Thee Facebooks

Mount Hush on Bandcamp

Labasheeda, Changing Lights

labasheeda changing lights

Joined for the first time by drummer Bas Snabilie (apparently since replaced by Aletta Verwoerd) Amsterdam heavy art rockers Labasheeda mark four full-length releases with Changing Lights on Presto Chango, the violin/viola of vocalist/guitarist Saskia van der Giessen and guitar/bass/keyboard of Arne Wolfswinkel carrying across an open but humble atmosphere, touching here on Sonic Youth’s dare-to-have-a-verse moments in “My Instincts” and pushing into more blown-out jarring with the slide-happy “Tightrope.” They bring indie edge to a cover of The Who’s “Circles,” and round out with a closing duo of the album’s only two tracks over five minutes, “Cold Water” and “Into the Wide,” van der Giessen’s croon carrying a sweetness into the second half of the former as the latter finishes Changing Lights with a rolling contrast of distortion and strings as engrossing as it is strange. Labasheeda will go right over a lot of heads, but approached with an open mind it can just as easily prove a treasure for its blatant refusal to be pinned to one style or another.

Labasheeda on Thee Facebooks

Labasheeda on Bandcamp

 

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The Exploding Eyes Orchestra Stream I in Full; Q&A with Thomas Corpse

Posted in audiObelisk, Features on June 9th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

the exploding eyes orchestra 2

On June 12, Finnish outfit The Exploding Eyes Orchestra will make their Svart Records debut with I, their aptly-titled first offering. Written as part of a two-album set by guitarist Thomas Corpse and featuring four other members besides himself from Jess and the Ancient Ones, the record and band are an offshoot in the truest sense of the word, but one justified both by the differences in lineup and in sonic personality that are showcased throughout I‘s seven songs and vinyl-ready 41 minutes. Whereas Jess and the Ancient Ones operates with cultish aural intent, having explored psychedelic ritualizing for the last half-decade, The Exploding Eyes Orchestra was birthed as an outlet for the side of Corpse‘s songwriting that specifically didn’t fit that band.

As it turned out, there was plenty of that around. Enough so that along with I, more songs were tracked that will make up II, which is to see release on Svart in 2016. That means that, in a way, we’re only seeing half of a picture with these tracks that will be completed when the second album is issued, but with memorable cuts like “Two-Zero 13,” “The Smoke” and the oddly poppy “My Father the Wolf,” The Exploding Eyes Orchestra have crafted a full-length that stands on its own just as well. It shares some commonalities with Corpse‘s writing for Jess and the Ancient Ones, and having Jess on vocals is bound to draw a few parallels, but even through that, these songs establish an open and varied spirit not at all hindered by the boundaries of aesthetic, embracing sultry blues on “Drawing down the West,” pushing into horror-flick goth-style piano swing on “Black Hound” and unabashedly proffering a love of classic progressive rock on “Crazy Heart,” all while keeping a core of craftsmanship and structure that ties it all together.

Where The Exploding Eyes Orchestra might go on their second outing, I couldn’t say, but the soul and breadth infused into these recordings makes one eager to find out. Jess and the Ancient Ones are getting ready to hit the studio as well, but Corpse took some time out to answer questions about the making of — and, by extension, II — and you can find the Q&A under a full stream of the album, which it’s my pleasure to bring to you on the player below.

Please enjoy:

the exploding eyes orchestra

Interview with Thomas Corpse: Easing Burdens

How much material had amassed before you realized The Exploding Eyes Orchestra was a project separate from Jess and the Ancient Ones? What is it about the songs that you thought didn’t fit that concept?

I noticed it while writing them. We were having a creative break with the Ancient Ones, and I had nothing else to do than just play acoustic guitar on my couch. Oh, I also drank like a million liters of coffee, and smoked a thousand smokes. It was really refreshing to jam endlessly, so I just kept writing and writing. In the end, I did not wish to add so many layers on them, so a smaller group was formed to perform them.

What is the timeline on songs coming together? How long has this stuff been around?

They came along pretty fast. Maybe six months from zero to 100, when it comes to writing and arranging the music. We recorded 14 songs in the same sessions… whuh, it was fun! Recordings took place in 2013-2014, so the material has been laying around for a while. The wheels of Sawonia move forth slowly I guess, hahah!

How was it being in the studio for The Exploding Eyes Orchestra as opposed to Jess and the Ancient Ones?

Well there’s a few less musicians playing, so there’s much more space to move around within the songs. Also, in a way these sessions were more “free-spirited.” I think we learned some valuable things, and of course the Ancient Ones will also benefit from this fact. That being said, the Ancient Ones are just about to hit the studio!

What was the time in the studio like? How were the songs put together and how much input did the whole band have in the process?

Long hours, and many late nights. We worked really hard, as we had so little time to record all of those songs. At some point, the mood was really gloomy, as the lack of sleep gets to you… but we pulled through with smiles on our faces.

The band has a major influence what comes to song arrangements, as I always leave room for interpretation. In this way, you get all the levels.

Tell me about splitting up the tracks into two albums. At what point did you know you had enough that you wanted to use that you had to approach it that way?

It was supposed to be a double album, but when listening to it as a whole, it felt too heavy to take in at once. Thus we split the material in two, to ease the listener’s burden, hahah!

Is there something different expressed between I and II, or are they meant as complements for each other, coming from the same sessions?

The II album has more subtle stuff in it, and there is even one song that is sung in Finnish. At the end of the day, the albums feel like Ying and Yang, so I guess you could say that they complement each other. My personal favourites are on the second album, as the songs in question are really personal to me.

Will you continue to write for The Exploding Eyes Orchestra on the side from Jess and the Ancient Ones? Are there other pieces that have yet to be recorded?

I sure will, and there are already seven new songs readied back here at home. Maybe the next studio session will take place during the winter of 2015? But first things first, as the Radio Aquarius will soon start the transmission from the planes of the Ancient Ones. Feed your minds!

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