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If you’re in the States and celebrating Thanksgiving this week, I thought maybe a new podcast would be good to have along for the travel. Maybe you take it with you on the road, or maybe put some headphones on in one of those need-to-get-away moments that invariably crop up over the holidays. I always get very stressed out at this time of year. I’d be lying if I putting this together wasn’t a bit of therapy for my own anxiousness, but I also thought that if someone else was in the same boat, they might also appreciate it. Or maybe not and you just want to rock without using it as an escape for deep-rooted psychological issues. That’s cool too.
This one has a lot of good stuff that I’ve come across lately, from the opening Foghound track on through the Clamfight single that was featured here a couple weeks back, and on to the B-side of the single that Ice Dragon released just this weekend, finally rounding out with the closing track from Uzala‘s new album, Tales of Blood and Fire, “Tenement of the Lost,” which was so captivating when I saw them in Providence last month. It’s a wide variety, but it flows well from song to song and I think it’s a good time.
Hopefully you agree. I’m especially happy with how well the last three songs, which make up the bulk of the second hour, came together. My hope is you’ll be too hypnotized by one song to realize when it’s gone into the next. Whether or not that happens, please enjoy.
Foghound, “Dragon Tooth” from Quick, Dirty and High (2013)
Lizzard Wizzard, “Total Handjob Future” from Lizzard Wizzard (2013)
Summoner, “Into the Abyss” from Atlantian (2013)
Groan, “Slice of that Vibe” from Ride the Snake EP (2013)
The Vintage Caravan, “Let Me Be” from Voyage (2013)
Run After To, “Melancholy from Run After To/Gjinn and Djinn (2013 Reissue)
Clamfight, “Bathosphere” from single release (2013)
No Gods No Masters, “Lie to Me” from No Gods No Masters EP (2013)
Horseskull, “Arahari” from 2013 Promo
Gudars Skymning, “Gåtor I Mörkret” from Höj Era Glas (2013)
Ice Dragon, “Queen of the Black Harvest” from Steel Veins b/w Queen of the Black Harvest (2013)
T.G. Olson, “Return from the Brink” from The Bad Lands to Cross (2013)
EYE, “Lost are the Years” from Second Sight (2013)
Øresund Space Collective, “Black Sabbath Forever in Space” from Live at Loppen 2013.11.19
Selim Lemouchi and His Enemies, “The Ghost of Valentine” from Earth Air Spirit Water Fire (2013)
Uzala, “Tenement of the Lost” from Tales of Blood and Fire (2013)
Posted in Whathaveyou on November 24th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
You’ll probably note that as Ice Dragon announce “Steel Veins, take two” at the start of the track, there’s the sound of a can opening. A burp follows shortly thereafter, and soon, the garage-doom riffage is underway. The prolific Boston four-piece announced their new single, Steel Veins b/w Queen of the Black Harvest, as being older school, and the leadoff track bears that out, though inevitably some of the psych rock vibing of their last album, Born a Heavy Morning(review here), has bled in as well. Still, the harsher vocals in the call and response chorus and the plodding feel of the riff should sit well with anyone who’s been checking out 2012′s Tome of the Future Ancientslately.
The second and longer track, “Queen of the Black Harvest” keeps the live-in-studio vibe going (belch included), but satisfies a classic Pentagram vibe more than the A-side of the digital only release, and where “Steel Veins” borders on screams, “Queen of the Black Harvest” borders on harmonies. For what it’s worth, one is no less fluid than the other, and whichever feel Ice Dragon are working with, they’re able to make it their own, as the creepy slowdown and resumption of the instantly-familiar verse riff will attest. Ditto that for the backwards cymbals and spooky ambient vocals later into the cut, which lead to what if I’m not mistaken is a (sampled?) gong backing that central riff. Even when they’re going “traditional,” Ice Dragon can’t seem to keep from getting weird.
All the better. No word on if Steel Veins b/w Queen of the Black Harvestwill get a physical release, but here’s what they had to say about the single on Thee Facebooks, followed of course by the thing itself, which is up for pay-what-you-will download on their Bandcamp:
New release from Ice Dragon
Almost finished with a new “single”. 2 tracks, b/w and all that shit. I hope you guys appreciate all the fucking cables we have to put up with around here. hahaha. Kinda classic “Ice Dragon” sound on these jams, no funny business. Well… maybe a little.
Here’s a trick. Solo a vocal, guitar, bass, whatever. Then send that into the mixer, use the insert as a direct out into another channel, then hook a pedal up on the aux send/return. Then you can eq them differently, adjust the send levels, add another insert, etc. etc. It’s essentially like duplicating a track in the ‘puter, but doesn’t sound like sterile beige ass and gives you more options.
Admittedly, there’s a decent chance I’d have endeavored to pick up the Dream Dragon tape from Boston psych doomers Ice Dragon anyway, but it was the layout of the cover that made it so imperative. You can see the font they used in the picture above, and the black-bar along the bottom. This was something that was done with albums back when tapes were a companion format with vinyl so that cover art wouldn’t have to be warped to fit the longer tape case, and even down to the type-setting and the relative size of the band name and album title, Ice Dragon nailed it. Same goes for the spine of the tape itself and the tracklisting, right down to “side one” and “side two” and the fake barcode. They couldn’t have done a better job with it if it had been white with red letters.
The blue tape itself is somewhat less playing to tradition, but as did their 2007 self-titled and 2011′s The Sorrowful Sun(both discussed here), Dream Dragonmakes an excellent cassette, the band’s self-recorded, lo-fi aesthetic coming through extra gnarly when intended, as on the ballsy “Maximum Trip” and still offering depth enough of mix to make it seem that the “Planet Caravan”-style synth trails of the nonetheless-rumbling “Dream Dragon” have space to move around. It’s also too long for a single vinyl at 55 minutes, but breaking it up into sides one and two here — the first ending with “A Dragon’s Dream, Pt. I” and the second with closer “A Dragon’s Dream, Pt. II” — makes Dream Dragonmore accessible without taking away from the hypnosis of it, especially on side two, when the relationship-gone-good and relationship-gone-bad “For Once in My Life” and “More than I Can Say for You” give way to the engaging psychedelia that closes out the last several cuts, the brash half-speed garage of “Beard of Thieves” seeming a much greater distance away than the start of the second half of the album.
And throughout, whether it’s the mellotron of opener “Dreamliner” or the bass-heavy “Stumble onto Magic,” which sounds like it was recorded off a tv performance in 1967, or the patiently unfurling “Me and My Lady (My Lady and Me),” Dream Dragonlives up to its name and its easily-deciphered bent toward the ethereal. Moments of threat loom in the drones of “I Know You’re Here” and the later instrumental “Unter der Gnomen” — and certainly Ice Dragon have made good on those threats elsewhere in their rapidly expanding discography — but the prevailing mood here is peaceful, otherworldly, and the flow the band create never gets shaken enough to really be interrupted. Until of course you wake up. Both parts of “A Dragon’s Dream” have a dirge march to them with far-off drums crashing and intertwining layers of guitar, and the second one seems to come apart at the end, leaving just a final trace of scratchy analog synth.
Ever-prolific, IceDragon — then the trio of drummer/vocalist Ron Rochondo, guitarist Carter and bassist Joe (all of whom handle a variety of instruments here as well as backing vocals for the latter two) — have released an EP and two full-lengths since, but I think it’s audible even on the latest, Born a Heavy Morning(review here), that they were developing some similar atmospheres to what they’d done on Dream Dragon, so I’m glad they went back and gave this one a physical issue. I’m not about to complain about their standing free-Bandcamp-downloads-for-all, but particularly with an album of this kind of breadth, it deserves some presence in the terrestrial realm as well, tenuous as its connection to it sonically may or may not be.
As the resurgence of vinyl has come to prominence over the last couple years, the age-old argument against CDs has likewise returned in that they don’t do justice to album art. For those two or three of us still loyal to what’s undoubtedly the least hip of the major physical formats at this point — even tapes are cooler than CDs, being cheaper and having nostalgic value — a release like Ice Dragon‘s physical issue of Born a Heavy Morning on the Belgian imprint Navalorama Records proves there’s life in the compact disc yet.
The dreamily psychedelic Born a Heavy Morning (review here) from the Boston-based four-piece arrives in what’s essentially a plain cardboard gatefold case, but as is the case with so much of the album itself, it’s creativity of the arrangement that makes it stand out. With a wraparound paper band that has the album title on front and the label’s name and website on back, the cover is a cutout to reveal the Samantha Allen watercolor artwork, which gets its due as a removable, high-quality cardstock insert with the album info (tracklist, recording, lineup, etc.) in glossy on back. A card is also included with Navalorama‘s info, but separate, and the CD itself arrives in a hand-numbered plain white sleeve.
Perhaps most endearing of all is the thank you card. It doesn’t look like much when you first open the gatefold, but the more you dig into it, the more the CD actually has to offer, and as awesome is it is on a basic theoretical level that Ice Dragon give so much of their prolific output away for free at their Bandcamp page — and by “so much,” I mean all of it — the fact that they and Navalorama would also put such an effort into making a product worth buying as well when you can get at least the music without paying says a lot about the creativity at work. Check it out:
CD and Cover Insert
Inserts and Thank You Card
Unless I’m mistaken, Born a Heavy Morning is Ice Dragon‘s first CD release, so it’s twice as impressive to see them doing it right. As much as I enjoy a straight-up jewel case — a rarity these days — especially for an album so otherworldly and gleefully strange, it makes an eerie kind of sense this way.
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Been a while, right? Tell me about it. Although I love, love having The Obelisk Radio streaming 24 hours a day, seven days a week, I’ve been wanting to bring back podcasting for a while now. I always thought it was fun, it just got to be time consuming and to be perfectly honest, the response over time took something of a shit.
Well, the idea here is to start with a clean slate. Anyone who’s listened to audiObelisk podcasts before will notice this one doesn’t have a title. There’s no theme running throughout — though I wanted to keep it focused on new stuff as much as possible — and though others ranged upwards of four hours long, this one clocks in at just under two. I gave myself some pretty specific limits and wanted to start off as basic and foundational as possible. I haven’t done this in a long time, and it seemed only appropriate to treat it like a new beginning.
Something else I’m keeping simple is the intro, so with that said, I hope like hell you download at the link above or stream it on the player and enjoy the selections. Here’s the rundown of what’s included:
Mystery Ship, “Paleodaze” from EP II (2013)
Carousel, “On My Way” from Jeweler’s Daughter (2013)
Ice Dragon, “The Deeper You Go” from Born a Heavy Morning (2013)
Black Mare, “Tearer” from Field of the Host (2013)
Beast in the Field, “Hollow Horn” from The Sacred Above, The Sacred Below (2013)
11 Paranoias, “Reaper’s Ruin” from Superunnatural (2013)
Vàli, “Gjemt Under Grener” from Skoglandskap (2013)
Beelzefuzz, “Lonely Creatures” from Beelzefuzz (2013)
Dozer, “The Blood is Cold” fromVultures (2013)
Toby Wrecker, “Belle” from Sounds of Jura (2013)
Shroud Eater, “Sudden Plague” from Dead Ends (2013)
Luder, “Ask the Sky” from Adelphophagia (2013)
Eggnogg, “The Once-ler” from Louis (2012)
Colour Haze, “Grace” from She Said (2012)
Borracho, “Know the Score” from Oculus (2013)
The Flying Eyes, “Raise Hell” from Split with Golden Animals (2013)
Demon Lung, “Heathen Child” from The Hundredth Name (2013)
Vista Chino, “As You Wish” from Peace (2013)
Across Tundras, “Pining for the Gravel Roads” from Electric Relics (2013)
Black Pyramid, “Aphelion” from Adversarial (2013)
Church of Misery, “Cranley Gardens (Dennis Andrew Nilsen)” from Thy Kingdom Scum (2013)
Posted in Radio on August 14th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Ice Dragon are no strangers to making it weird. The prolific Boston-based four-piece – vocalist Ron Rochondo, guitarist Carter, bassist Joe and now drummer Brad – crossed genre lines into ’70s prog with last year’s Dream Dragon, delved into droning noise with later last year’s greyblackfalconhawkand reveled in tripped out garage doom on 2010′s The Burl, the Earth,the Aether, while underscoring a growing influence with splits with Fellwoods and Pilgrim and playing live almost never, though an appearance earlier this year at the Scion Rock Fest gave some hint at a growing demand in that regard as well. With their newest full-length, Born a Heavy Morning, the band touch on psychedelia and melodies not so dissimilar in spirit from Dream Dragonor their Fall 2012 single Season of Decay/The Humble Titan, but flesh it out in a manner more rooted in ’60s pop while leaving space for moments of raw Beatlesian melodicism on “We’ll Go on a Trip, You and I,” blown out Monster Magnet-style arrogance on “The Past Plus the Future is Present” (which is also the stoned-est sounding thought I’ve heard all week) and older Danzig drawling malevolence on “We are the Hopeless.”
Born a Heavy Morningis richly varied and textured, but an overarching cohesiveness of atmosphere and narrative theme — call it “A Day in the Life” for the protagonist “A Man,” who is mentioned in the title of several of the ambient interludes — tie it together such that whether it’s the sunshiny ramble of opener “Wakin’ Up” or the key-infused loneliness of “The Deeper You Go,” Ice Dragon‘s echoes are easily set to both purposes. The 8:33 “The Past Plus the Future is Present” — which is subtitled ‘The Great Drudgery’ — meanders gloriously noisy over a steady bassline and far-back drumbeat as Ice Dragon continue to use underproduction as an aesthetic element better than everyone else not named Darkthrone, an emergent wash of bright guitar noise continuing some of the morning’s cycle later mirrored by the bleaker twang presented in “Square Triangle,” which, even when it picks up after about two minutes into its total eight, maintains a lonely Floydian vibe, though its groove is carried ably by the guitars and bass while the drums reside so deep in the mix they’re just barely a presence. Heavy as the morning is, it would seem, the day doesn’t get any easier as it goes on.
That remains true for the churn of the subsequent “I’m Lost” — subtitled ‘A Resolution of Dissolution’ — which seems to be the culmination of the protagonist’s woes. Returning to the brash throaty delivery of “The Past Plus the Future is Present,” Rochondo provides further bookend for Born a Heavy Morning‘s beginning, and though the cycle itself seems to come to a close with “In Which a Man Ends His Workweek with a Great Carouse” — vaguely British-accented narration underscoring a classic prog rock influence over light guitars and sampled guffaws — and that would seem to make closer “(I Will) Watch My Hair Grow” superfluous, the last track justifies the epilogue with cinematic synth and a feeling of resolution that comes through in the layers of Rochondo‘s vocals and the strumming of Carter. They’ve waded past the drudgery and into a sweet sort of resignation, and Born a Heavy Morningends with a concluding strum that seems to harken one last time to the notion of the concept album as a whole, complete idea — they’re wrapping the whole record, not just the one track.
Its vibe is strikingly different from what they’ve done in the past, but Ice Dragon‘s sense of adventure has grown over the last few years such that genre limitations seem like a waste of time anyway. I would not expect whatever they do next to sound anymore like Born a Heavy Morning than Born a Heavy Morningsounds like the droning horrors of The Soul’s Midnight, released earlier this year, and I wouldn’t expect it to be too long after Navalorama Records issues Born a Heavy Morning on CD next month that Ice Dragon follow it up, because the one thing they never seem to be is stagnant.
You can hear the album now as part of the streaming playlist on The Obelisk Radio, and also check it out and grab a free download on the Bandcamp player below. Enjoy:
The blown-out Morricone guitar and mounting depressive folk build of Ice Dragon‘s “Season of Decay” first showed up around these parts back in October. Today the Boston trio announced that Vesa Lähde had put together a video for the song and after watching its dark, saturated and vintage-looking atmospherics, it seems like a pretty good fit for the song itself, which boasts no shortage of moody psychedelia.
Even as an excuse to revisit the song (not that you really need one), I dig it. Ice Dragon‘s latest offering is the alternately stoned/drunk The Soul’s Midnight, which you can hear in full at their Bandcamp.
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 18th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
So here’s how it apparently went down. A week ago, the dudes in Boston-based doomly three-piece Ice Dragon got loaded on a bottle of mead gifted to them by the band Merlin. One imagines from listening to Ice Dragon‘s prolific level of output that it’s not the first time they’ve been drunk on mead, nor will it be the last. While bombed in the viking tradition, they decided to record a new single, called “The Soul’s Midnight.”
The result was fittingly dark, moody and languid. Here’s what they had to say about it at the time:
We just finished a great bottle of homemade mead, given to us from our friends in the band Merlin. We can’t figure out how to tag them because we’re drunk. Anyway we made a new song too and rather than be assfaces and give a “release date” and leak the cover art and tracklisting and all that stupid bullshit bands do nowadays. HERE YOU GO. It’s free. Don’t make fun of us if it sounds bad, please. We made it tonight. We’re drunk.
Fair enough. Last night (Jan. 18), they posted a revisited version of “The Soul’s Midnight,” this time recorded while high. What could possibly drive them toward such scientific aims, discovering — at last — the differences between putting a song to tape under varying influence? I don’t know, but the track is killer and the nihilism only adds to the enjoyment level.
Ice Dragon posted the results of this bold experiment last night. Here’s that post, followed by both versions of “The Soul’s Midnight,” which is up for pay-what-you-will download at the Ice Dragon Bandcamp:
So, we made a HIGH version of “The Soul’s Midnight”. The original is still on there and that is now the drunk version. We’re not “signed” so we can do whatever the hell we want, and this is what we want. We hope you want it too.
Might want to re-download if you already did. Or not.
My intent when I started putting questions together for an email interview with Boston-based trio Ice Dragon was to keep it to the usual six, but then something happened. I realized it wasn’t enough. For a band who’ve already released three full-lengths this year — greyblackfalconhawk, Dream Dragon and Tome of the Future Ancients– there was just more I wanted to know than Six Dumb Questions could hold. Nine seems to have done the trick.
The thing about Ice Dragon – Ron on vocals/synth/drums/theremin, Carter on guitars/backing vocals and Joe on bass/guitar/etc. (also pictured above is Werner; the fluffy one) — is that not only do they put out all this stuff, but each album is a different stylistic blend as well. Plenty of bands who record themselves release a lot of albums, and with material as lo-fi as Ice Dragon‘s and the fact that they don’t seem to have an interest in large-scale touring, it’s not unreasonable for them to focus on songwriting at such a rate. What makes it fascinating is that the material on each record seems to stem from a musical or conceptual thematic. They’re all different to some degree, but still identifiably Ice Dragon‘s own, and they’re strikingly cohesive.
Somewhat unsurprisingly, they’ve got a new digital single. Season of Decay/The Humble Titanfinds Ice Dragon once more pushing into new sonic territory, offsetting late ’60s/early ’07s folk influences and acoustics with bizarre in-studio noise experimentation. Each of the two songs on the new release has its own progression, “Season of Decay” filtering a blown-out rehearsal room dirge march through airy Neil Young-style acoustic/electric interplay, and “The Humble Titan” taking sweet Eurofolk topped with psych swirls and echoed vocals and marrying it to tense and cinematic electronic beats, rising to a disturbing culmination before cutting short at the end of the song. The band’s willingness to throw caution and convention to the wind is all-consuming.
Still, though the sounds are loose and the production, well, minimal, you don’t get to the point of issuing three full-lengths in a year — even digitally — if you’re not severely dedicated to what you do. Today, I’ve got the pleasure of premiering the Season of Decay/The Humble Titansingle in its entirety, and you’ll find it below, followed by the interview questions, as fielded by Ron.
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1. How did Ice Dragon first get together? What first got you going and how has the relationship between you all changed over time? How many releases have you actually put out, and at what point did you realize you wanted to be so prolific?
Me and Carter started it pretty much by accident after recording two tracks for a shitty blues project we were working on. The tracks didn’t fit at all for that project so we figured we’d just start something new and recruited Joe to help us out. Everything is way better now, musically speaking. I think we’ve really hit our stride in terms of knowing exactly what we want a song to sound like and then making that happen. It used to just be dumb luck, or experimentation until we got something worthwhile. Ryan was our drummer for the Burl album, but he got mad at me and took off. I get drunk and yell at people, but isn’t that what all lead singers do? I think it’s a rule. You have to have a troubled soul in order to write anything good, let alone sing it at the top of your lungs and not care what people think, and that comes with all the baggage of being an asshole sometimes. Oh well. Everything we’ve put out is on the Bandcamp, I can’t even remember what it’s up to now, like five albums and three splits, I think? We’ve always worked fast, and I think having three people who can/do write songs makes things get out of hand even more. Haha.
2. What are your five favorite crappy and/or cult horror movies and why?
Excellent question. My favorites change a lot from day to day, but here’s what I’m thinking off the top of my head.
1. The Thing, mostly due to MacReady’s hat.
2. Let’s Scare Jessica to Death, a beautifully made, truly haunting film, with a great soundtrack to boot. 3. The Abominable Dr. Phibes, amazing in every way, I could watch it over and over again.
4. Definitely a Jean Rollin film, toward the arty side – The Nude Vampire, the cheesier side – The Grapes of Death. Though all his movies are fantastic I think.
5. The Mummy’s Tomb, best of the series I think. The way the old high priest has the shaky hands in the beginning, so good. And Lon Chaney Jr. is bad fucking ass.
3. Ice Dragon albums vary so much from the one to the next. Do you have a specific sound in mind when you approach making a record? Thinking of the difference between Dream Dragon and Greyblackfalconhawk, did you know when you started writing those records how you wanted them to sound?
We definitely knew how we wanted each of those to sound as we were going into them. Those were the first two like that really – the others weren’t as thought out in terms of overall sound. Dream Dragon was supposed to just be a fun summertime rock album, no pretentiousness, no worrying about how heavy it was, etc. Going for that ‘60s kinda vibe. Greyblackfalconhawk was supposed to be a full-on drone album, but then ended up getting a little more “involved” sounding as it went on. Just kinda naturally from all of our influences on it, and it sounds better because of that anyway. From a lyrical point of view I wanted to make something more like what I listen to when I’m alone. I like very dark, depressing lyrics and songs in general, but not these so-called “doom,” “black,” or “evil” songs you hear about wizards and warriors or fantasy shit. REAL doom, that comes from a man’s heart and soul and the pain of existence. People find it easy to talk about killing other things, or death when it’s this sort of distant idea. But try and get one of these same people to talk about how they felt like ending it all that one time, or how lonely they are, or the sadness they feel from day to day. That is true pain, and most people won’t talk about it. Or they are afraid to talk about it because of what their friends and relatives and whoever else will say. I don’t know, I’m rambling, but hopefully making some sort of sense here. We do our fair share of fantasy bullshit too, but for this one I wanted it to be as sincere as possible.
4. Does the writing process change at all depending on the aesthetic of the album? Are you ever working on more than one record at one time?
Sometimes we’ll have a song that doesn’t really fit with the vibe of an album we’re working on, so we tuck it away for a rainy day, but mostly we try and work on album stuff straight through so we get a more cohesive feel to everything. The process is definitely different for say a dark kind of song/album, to a more psych/happy/rocker kind of song. Usually the latter is more fun to make and gets done easier and quicker, but that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily more rewarding in the end.
5. With Greyblackfalconhawk, how did the bird theme come about, and what was behind putting the names of the tracks together into one word?
I’ve always been really into Native American culture and philosophy, so I think it sort of bled out from that a bit, but other things as well. We definitely didn’t want it to be overly that kind of vibe or anything. I liked the sound of it more than anything else. greyblackfalconhawk. It feels good to say. With that title in place, we thought that it just made sense to run the titles together into one word. Sort of a language of its own, specific to this album. It is set away from our other albums in that way, in sound, in language, and in philosophy.
6. How does the recording process work? How long are you in the studio and how much freedom does self-recording allow? Has the process changed at all since the self-titled?
We record in a basement, with a washing machine and dryer in the same room. Haha. It’s not very fancy. We have it all decorated up and everything, and sexy lighting. We get together every Friday and shoot the shit for a bit, go down to the liquor store and chat with the guys down there, get a pizza or subs and then finally get recording around 7PM or so. Usually go until about 10 or 11 and then go upstairs to listen to records and argue over pointless nonsense (see my answer to question one for more on that). The process has pretty much always been the same, only we used to record in various living rooms of other apartments we’ve had. We always record basics on tape, either the 4-track or an old 1/4” 2-track. Then we dump that into the computer and do overdubs in there. We have like 4 mics, nothing very fancy, and no condensers at all. A bunch of beat up old amps, mostly Peavey. It doesn’t take much, and people shouldn’t get hung up on the gear when recording, it’s all in how you use it.
7. What goes into selecting the cover art for each release, and how important is it to find an appropriate cover when the album is released digitally? What does the cover say about the album?
Basically we try and get a cover that expresses the overall feel of the album in picture form. We’ve been very lucky working with some great artists so far. A few of the albums have sort of “placeholder” art up there right now. Tome of the Future Ancients is going to be done by Josh McAlear and the sketches we’ve seen are incredibly cool. So I guess that kind of says how important they are in the digital realm, not very, at least to us. We like to get the music out there first and foremost. When it comes time to getting things put to a physical format then we definitely want it looking exactly how it should. The only other one at this point is the self-titled and Adam Burke is working on something for that too. I’m very happy with the covers we have thus far.
8. With material that’s so diverse and with all three of you doing so much on each record, what are Ice Dragon shows like? Do you pull songs from different albums and mix it up, or will you do a show that’s all one record? It seems like recording and releasing is more important to the band, but will Ice Dragon ever tour?
We used to just do stripped down versions of songs, just get the basics of it and make it rock. There’s definitely certain songs that will just never work live. We don’t really care too much about playing live, there’s very little creativity in it, and we’re into creating songs a lot more than just playing them. I’m sure at some point we’ll play out again, not sure when, but we will I think.
9. What’s in the works next for you guys and are there any other plans or closing words you want to mention?
We just finished a song for a compilation ThrashHead is putting out, and another that Joe wrote that came out really amazing. Total opposites, the first one is a heavy ripper old-school metal style and the other is a dreamy classic rock kinda thing. We’re always making something. Hopefully no one is getting sick of us, or thinks I’m too much of a dickhead. Have a margarita and be yourself.
Posted in On the Radar on September 12th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Things just keep getting weirder and weirder. I mean it. After recently basking in the droning strangeness of the latest Ice Dragon outing last Friday (it’s the latest unless they’ve put another one out already), I find I’m even less sure of my footing when it comes to the related project Tentacle, whose Void Abyss debut hits a mainline of blasted ultra-dark psychedelics, Lovecraftian horror and sludge-laden disgust. The Void Abyssin which the five songs of the EP reside is one of their own making.
Tentacle released Void Abyssin a CD edition of 100 that promptly sold out, with a black sleeve featuring a photo of the cover art and an all-black (front and back) disc that hides in its depths an even-more-distorted secret track. Also included is a xerox-type booklet — my tendency with photocopied anything is to call it a ‘zine, but it’s really just a handmade CD booklet, proportionally and in the fact that it just basically includes the lyrics with some pictures of snails, octopi and other creatures traditionally slime-covered — that offers little information other than the words to the songs and the year of release, which is 2012. Full lineup, recording info, etc., remains a mystery.
No coincidence there, it would seem. Other than seeing three members in the photos on Tentacle‘s Thee Facebooks, there’s nothing to mark them a trio — from the murky sounds on “Talking, Bending, Dripping, Breaking,” there could be two people in the band or 20 — but Void Abyssproves all the more disturbing for the mystique, and as the songs remain completely wretched for the duration despite hinting at some stylistic variety, the tracks prove remarkably consistent for sounding like they just crawled out from between Cthulhu’s barnacled buttcheeks: Totally and unreasonably fucked.
Posted in audiObelisk on September 7th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Bear witness to the prolific nature of Boston doomers Ice Dragon and duly tremble. The band self-released their new full-length, Greyblackfalconhawk, on this very day and I figured its bleak, dronely sprawl was a decent way to wrap the week. Of course the album is available over at Ice Dragon‘s Bandcamp page as a pay-what-you-will download as well. It is their third full-length of 2012 along with two splits, and what it lacks in “space key,” it more than makes up for in hopelessness. I know the custom around here is to end the week with a YouTube clip, but what can I say, I’m shifting paradigms all over the place. It’s a new day.
I might get a couple posts up over the weekend if I have time. There’s some job-type work I need to do tomorrow afternoon, and provided I have the mental capacity to do so, there’s some more I want to post on here before next week starts, so keep an eye out. Either way, next week brings track premieres from Colour Haze – yes, She Saidexists, yes, I’ve heard it and yes, it fucking rules — and fellow German outfit Obelyskkh, who are nothing if not suited to the surroundings around here, what with the name and all. Both songs are well worth staying tuned for, and I’ll also have reviews up of Undersmile and Curse the Son, among others. Kings Destroy is playing with Inter Arma, Pallbearer and Royal Thunder next Tuesday, and I might hit that up if I can get out of work on time, but that’s a cool show, so good for them. In any case, I’m looking forward to their new material and to catching them on their previously-announced November weekender with Black Pyramid and Clamfight. That’ll be fun.
Also to be posted next week is an interview with Enslaved guitarist Ivar Bjørnson, about their new album, Riitiir (review here), and I don’t usually say this kind of thing, but it’s epic. One of the best interviews I’ve ever done, hands down. The conversation was more than an hour long, and Bjørnson was excellent, open and honest the whole way through. It’s going to be murder to transcribe but I know it’ll be worth it in the end. Keep an eye out, it’ll probably be up next Thursday or Friday.
Before I split out to finish this glass and get some more wine, special thanks to everyone who responded to the Top 10 Greatest Stoner Albums post. That’s been amazing and I’m glad people seem to be responding to each other’s comments and having fun with it. That’s awesome. I’ll probably leave that up top on the frontpage over the weekend in case anyone else wants to chime in, then maybe get a master list going and at very least use it as a basis for a podcast or something like that. Get all the essentials together in one place. We’ll see how it goes, but seriously, thank you for being involved. Makes me feel way less like I’m talking to myself.
Alright y’all, time to put on some Colour Haze and hang out with The Patient Mrs. for a while, but once again, thanks. I hope you dig the Ice Dragon and support those guys by digging into their wealth of material, and I hope to see you on the forum and maybe back here sometime over the next couple days. Be safe and enjoy.
The sun-drenched wonder you see in the photo above is the shelf unit at my office (I work here). Top to bottom, it’s got a turntable that needs a new belt, a Mini-Disc player (I used to use them for interviews and just kind of happened into the thing; it’s there now because I think it’s neat), dual cassette deck, 5-CD changer and receiver. The speakers on either side are Infinity studio monitors acquired at a discount for review, and there’s a subwoofer below that’s not pictured. I don’t always use it, because frankly my computer has some decent speakers as well and so I don’t really need it all the time, but sometimes, when I’m working late and no one else is around, there’s nothing else quite like it.
Of the components, the cassette deck is the newest. I hooked it up just this afternoon after finding it the other day laying around the house. I asked The Patient Mrs. what was up with it and she said it was part of the stereo she had as a kid (we’ve been together long enough that I already knew that), and as it was currently not in use, I immediately raised an eyebrow at the possibility.
That was a few days ago, and it wasn’t until today that I finally brought the thing to work and plugged it in. Thinking I was all smart, I grabbed what I thought were some spare A/V cables to go with but turned out to be the camera connector. Fortunately, also at the office, I found these laying around:
Monster Cables! That’s right. Today, I hooked up a cassette player with Monster Cables. A format that’s only “come back” as much as it has over the last couple years because it sounds crappy — hooked up like it’s part of an overpriced home theater. Hey, I roll with what I can find that I don’t have to pay for.
The impetus for this whole thing was the recent purchase of three tapes from Acid Punx Records. I’ve bought tapes here and there for a while now — I have a cassette player in my car and have considered it a point of pride for the seven years I’ve had it — but these were different. Mostly those tapes cost about 50 cents. These tapes cost $10 each.
Yes. I spent $30 on tapes. $35, actually, when you add shipping. I’d been turned onto Boston doomers Ice Dragon‘s newest album, Dream Dragon, in a thread on the forum, and I really dug it. In an all-too-familiar mix of impulse and strategy, I thought as I investigated various purchase options that I’d better pick up some older stuff that was available in limited runs before I missed out. The psychedelically cinematic Dream Dragon — which came out last month and is a pay-what-you-want download at Ice Dragon’s Bandcamp page — doesn’t seem to have a physical pressing yet anyway, so from Acid Punx, I got their 2007 self-titled and 2011′s The Sorrowful Suninstead.
Both tapes are first pressings, limited to 100 copies (the self-titled is a reissue) and pretty clearly homemade — all of which I like about them. While I was putting them in my virtual shopping cart, I stumbled on an Elder tape also for sale called Demos & Live (2007-2010)and couldn’t resist. The result:
It was actually pretty nerve-racking waiting for them to come in the mail. Not that Acid Punx took an exceedingly long time to send them or anything, but I’ll admit to feeling a little silly having shelled out $35 for three tapes. If I was at the grocery store, I’d be staring at the “Unit Price” sticker and punching myself in the head. Nonetheless, when they finally came, I heaved a sigh of relief and immediately put the Elder on in the car.
With the anticipation of seeing them over Labor Day weekend at SHoD in Connecticut mounting and that recent stream of their Armageddon Records vinyl, Spires Burn/Release, I’ve been on something of a kick. Of the tape, I’ll say that Elder were a much, much different band in 2007 than they are half a decade later. Guitarist/vocalist Nick DiSalvo lets loose some pretty vicious sludgy screams, and especially on tape, it sounds like the material was recorded right on a room mic in the rehearsal space.
There are three demo tracks — “1162,” “Red Sunrise” and “Black Midnight” — and two live cuts — “Gemini” recorded at SHoD in 2009 and “Riddle of Steel” from Valley Homegrown TV in 2010. As you might expect, the newest is the cleanest-sounding of the bunch, but overall, it’s a pretty concise look at how far the three-piece has come in their time together. Whatever faux-authenticity might come from listening to a bona fide demo tape in this day and age, Demos & Live (2007-2010)is legitimately a cool release, and I was glad to have picked it up.
I’ve got more digging into the two Ice Dragon tapes (both of which are also streaming on their Bandcamp) — and wanting to do that was a big part of why I finally caved and brought the tape player into the office — but on a cursory listen, they sound righteous in their lo-fi classicism, The Sorrowful Sun being more melodically developed than its self-titled predecessor. Both feel caked in blown-out-cone distortion and are pretty well suited to the format. I was glad to get them out of the car so they wouldn’t get any further warped by the heat. From what I’ve heard so far, they’re plenty warped on their own.
And while I get to know them better, I’ve got the joy of staring at the spines on my desk:
Even for $35, I could do much worse than that. Just for kicks, here’s the stream of Ice Dragon‘s Dream Dragon, which inspired all this silliness: