The Obelisk Radio Adds: Sun Blood Stories, Skraeckoedlan, Mount Desert, Zaum & Shooting Guns and Merchant

Posted in Radio on November 2nd, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

the obelisk radio

You already know, but it’s November as of yesterday. Last time I did a round of adds to The Obelisk Radio was June 5. Granted we’ve had two Quarterly Reviews since then, so not everything has fallen through the cracks in terms of being written up, but even some of that stuff has built up a backlog waiting to be added to the playlist.

Accordingly, there are over 130 records joining The Obelisk Radio today. You can see the full-list here.

That is a massive number for one shot, and some of it is new and some older stuff fills in gaps, mostly in the Black Sabbath catalog. but either way, after five months, it seems like a fair amount to come back with. I’m not sure I’ll be able to schedule a round of Radio Adds every week from here on out — I couldn’t before, if you’ll recall — but as ever, I’ll do my best. As you might expect, five months later, there are some really great records to talk about. We’ll start with the newest one.

The Obelisk Radio Adds for Nov. 2, 2015:

Sun Blood Stories, Samhain Variations

sun blood stories samhain variations

A special Halloween release, the complete title of the latest from Sun Blood Stories is Samhain Variations: In Flight Raid Wake up I Don’t Know, and sure enough at the beginning of “Samhain Variation 1” (15:30), lap steel guitarist/vocalist Amber Pollard gives a cabin announcement welcoming listeners aboard “Trip Airlines Flight 666 bound to your brain” as she and guitarist Ben Kirby set out an immediately experimental-sounding foundation of plucked notes, feedback, drones and other noises. What follows from there — mind you that’s about the first 10 seconds — across “Samhain Variation I” and it loop-drum-infused counterpart “Samhain Variation II” (26:50) is a twisted barrage of alternately hypnotic and assaulting sounds, feeling like an exponential expansion of some of the ambient back end of summer-2015’s Twilight Midnight Morning (review here) full-length, with which I remain enamored. The difference is that where those were smaller pieces that, at times, seemed to touch back down to solid footing reminding of the album’s more straightforward beginning movement, Samhain Variations is an ethereal wash that trades back and forth between melodic and amelodic, touching on the memorable “West the Sun” at the launch of “Samhain Variation II,” but ultimately shaping itself into an unrecognizable form. The second part is harsher than the first and substantially longer, but both reinforce the open creative process the band showed a couple months back on Live at the Banana Stand (posted here), and of course, on the album that preceded it. They remain a band to which more people need to get hip, and Samhain Variations is a flight worth taking. Sun Blood Stories on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Zaum & Shooting Guns, Himalaya to Mesopotamia

zaum & shooting guns humalaya to mesopotamia

Moncton ritualizers Zaum will reportedly have a new full-length out in 2016 to follow their impressive 2014 debut, Oracles (review here). In the interim, they’ve partnered with freakout-prone Saskatoon heavy psych rockers Shooting Guns for a split titled Himilaya to Mesopotamia that is out on vinyl this week. With one track from Zaum, the extended “The Serpentshrine” (19:07), and three from Shooting Guns all over six minutes, it’s well substantial enough for a 12″ and gives its audience plenty to dig into from each act, the two-piece Zaum gracefully and gradually unfolding Eastern inflections and immersive drones on “The Serpentshrine” across a hilltop-shaped, parabolic build that swells to greater impact in the middle and recedes to chants and drones at the end from the psychedelic doom march that emerges. Their work remains fluid and progressive, and “The Serpentshrine” fits well alongside Shooting Guns‘ “Super Himalaya,” “Dirty Needle” and instrumental closer “Ultimate Nullifier,” which between them establish an album-style flow that goes from far to farther out, melding space rock, noise, and psych fuckall into the potent nod of “Dirty Needle,” casting a wide cosmic berth of echoing guitar and thrusting rhythm. Shooting Guns tip hat to “War Pigs” in “Ultimate Nullifier,” but by then the vibe is so lysergic that it’s really just one more ingredient in the cauldron. Might get under general-public radars, but a gem of substantial pulsation. Zaum on Thee Facebooks, Shooting Guns on Thee Facebooks, Zaum on Bandcamp, Shooting Guns on Bandcamp.

Skraeckoedlan, Sagor

skraeckoedlan sagor

The awaited follow-up from Swedish stonerplodders Skraeckoedlan on Razzia RecordsSagor answers the big riffing of the band’s 2011 debut, Äppelträdet (review here), with a more progressive realization of some similar ideas, the tones still post-Truckfighters, the largesse still post-Mastodon, but the band impressively carving out their own dynamic within their not-quite-metal-but-still-viciously-weighted approach, songs like the post-intro “Gigantos” (7:27) and “El Monstro” pummeling out melodically conscious heft (the latter with guest vocals) while pieces like “Awen” (1:08), the structurally forward “Flod” (2:46) and even the longest cut here, “Squidman” (8:09) managing not to lose track of a consistent atmosphere amid all the unbridled feel. At 53 minutes, Sagor is not a minor undertaking, but somehow, for an album about giant monsters and built on top of likewise proportioned riffs and grooves, it makes a kind of conceptual sense, and I won’t fight against the sway of “Epos” (5:47) or the poise that “Odjuret” (6:39) seems to showcase in the vocals, switching between full-sounding shouts in the chorus and a Greenleaf-style verse, duly fuzzed and engagingly heavy. Originally titled Gigantos and recorded at various different studios, Sagor seems to have been an adventure in the making, but however daunting the process may have been, Skraeckoedlan have come out of it with a sophomore outing that answers the potential of their debut and finds them refining a sound that one hopes only continues to become more their own from here. Skraeckoedlan on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp, Razzia Records.

Mount Desert, Mount Desert

mount desert mount desert

Based now in San Francisco with roots in Maine, two-piece newcomers Mount Desert impress on their debut two-song demo with the spaciousness they bring to their tracks. What feels like a 7″ in the making, the pair of “Blue Madonna” (4:45) and “Fear the Heart” (6:36) showcase stylistic cohesion on the part of guitarist/vocalist Scott and drummer Jordan, an overarching reverb seeming to take hold on the first song and continue into the second. These are initial explorations — demos by any other name — but Mount Desert tap into psychedelia with a corresponding earthiness that reminds of the first Sigiriya record in its blend, and feels neither nostalgic nor like it’s trying overly hard to position itself within the West Coast heavy psych sphere’s jammy infatuations. It will not feel out of place genre-wise to first time listeners who take it on, but neither are Mount Desert completely familiar. “Blue Madonna” and “Fear the Heart” work quick and efficient, but retain atmospheric resonance as well, and while their real tests are ahead of them, the molten beginnings of “Blue Madonna” and the crunching finish of “Fear the Heart” give an encouraging sense of range, and while exciting for how Mount Desert might build on them, that excitement comes from what the duo have already accomplished here. Mount Desert on Thee Facebooks, Mount Desert on Soundcloud.

Merchant, Seismic

merchant seismic

Together for just about a year at the time of its release in May, Aussie sludge-plus four-piece Merchant make their presence felt with “Seismic” (9:36), an initial single released as a name-your-price download that seems geared toward announcing their arrival on the fertile ground of Melbourne’s heavy scene. They’re not without their psychedelic flourish, but vocalist Mirgy offers throaty growling — here reminding of New Zealand’s Beastwars, there delving even further into gutturalisms — to top the rolling undulations of guitarist Ben, gotta-hear-this-tone bassist Wilson and drummer Nick and that ensures Merchant never stray too far from the muck toward the cosmos. Ben takes a fuzzy solo in the back half, but Merchant bring their first sally to a crashing finish, lumbering out a few final hits before the amp noise squeezes the last air out of the room. Melbourne heavy is about as multi-faceted as a scene gets — see also Portland, Oregon — but Merchant show also that it’s still growing and that there are those within the city limits looking to push the boundaries of extremity beyond their breaking point. For being just under 10 minutes, “Seismic” tells us an awful lot about Merchant and their intentions over the longer term, and it seems like a warning listeners will want to heed. Merchant on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Thanks for reading. I hope you find something you dig, and if you want to see the full list of the 130-plus records added to the server today, check out The Obelisk Radio Playlist and Updates page.

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Quarterly Review: Steve Von Till, Devil Worhsipper, Dr. Crazy, Linie, The Heavy Minds, Against the Grain, Angel Eyes, Baron, Creedsmen Arise, Deadly Sin (Sloth)

Posted in Reviews on September 28th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster


Truth be told, I’ve been looking forward to this Quarterly Review since the last one ended. Not necessarily since it clears the deck on reviews to be done — it doesn’t — but just because I feel like in any given week there’s so much more that I want to get to than I’m usually able to fit into posting that it’s been good to be able to say, “Well I’ll do another Quarterly Review and include it there.” Accordingly, there are some sizable releases here, today and over the next four days as well.

If you’re unfamiliar with the project, the idea is over the course of this week, I’ll be reviewing 50 different releases — full albums, EPs, demos, comps, splits, vinyl, tape, CD, digital, etc. Most of them have come out since the last Quarterly Review, which went up early in July, but some are still slated for Oct. or Nov. issue dates. Best to mix it up. My hope is that within this barrage of info, art and music, you’re able to find something that stands out to you and that you enjoy deeply. I know I’ll find a few by the time we’re done on Friday.

Fall 2015 Quarterly Review #1-10:

Steve Von Till, A Life unto Itself

steve von till a life unto itself

A new Steve Von Till solo outing isn’t a minor happening in any circumstances, but A Life unto Itself reads more like a life event than an album. As ever, the Neurosis guitarist/vocalist puts a full emotional breadth into his material, and as it’s his first record in seven years since 2008’s A Grave is a Grim Horse, there’s plenty to say. Sometimes minimal, sometimes arranged, sometimes both, the seven tracks feature little of the psychedelic influence Von Till brought to his Harvestman project, but use lap steel, strings, electrics, acoustics, keys and of course his meditative, gravelly voice to convey a broad spectrum nonetheless, and cuts like “Chasing Ghosts,” “In Your Wings” and the centerpiece “Night of the Moon” (which actually does veer into the ethereal, in its way) are all the more memorable for it. The richness of “A Language of Blood” and the spaciousness of the drone-meets-sea-shanty closer “Known but Not Named” only underscore how far Von Till is able to range, and how satisfying the results can be when he does.

Steve Von Till on Thee Facebooks

Steve Von Till at Neurot Recordings

Devil Worhsipper, Devil Worhsipper

devil worshipper devil worshipper

Bizarro vibes pervade Devil Worshipper’s debut LP, Devil Worshipper, what may or may not be a one-man project from Jeff Kahn (ex-Hideous Corpse, Skeleton of God; spelled here as Jevf Kon), mixed by Tad Doyle and released on Holy Mountain. Based in Seattle (that we do know), the project wields molten tones and slow groove to classic underground metal, heavy psych and bleary moods to hit into oddly cinematic moodiness on “Ash Brume” and even nod at Celtic Frost from a long ways away on closer “Lurker (Death).” Most of the drums are programmed, save for “New Spirit World Order,” “Ash Brume” and “Lurker,” but either way, they only add to the weirdness of the chanting layered vocals of “New Spirit World Order,” and just when it seems like eight-minute second track “Chemrails” will have been as far out as Devil Worshipper gets, side B’s “Desert Grave” takes hold for a five-minute dirge that turns out to be one of the record’s most satisfying rolls, reminiscent of something Rob Crow might’ve done with Goblin Cock on downers. Unexpected and living well in its own space, the album manages to be anchored by its lead guitar work without seeming anchored at all.

Devil Worshpper on Thee Facebooks

Devil Worshipper at Holy Mountain

Dr. Crazy, 1,000 Guitars

dr crazy 1000 guitars

So, how many guitars on London trio Dr. Crazy’s 13-minute/four-song EP, 1,000 Guitars? Two, I think. The side-project of Groan vocalist Andreas “Mazzereth” Maslen and Chris West, formerly the drummer of Trippy Wicked and Stubb who here plays guitar and bass while Groan’s former guitarist Mike Pilat handles drums, make a bid for the possibility of playing live in bringing in Pilat to fill the role formerly occupied remotely by Tony Reed of Mos Generator on their 2014 debut EP, Demon Lady. Whether that happens will remain to be seen, but they affirm their ‘80s glam leanings on “Bikini Woman” and keep the message simple on opener “Hands off My Rock and Roll” while “1,000 Guitars” makes the most of guest lead work from Stubb’s Jack Dickinson – he’s the second guitar, alongside West – and yet another infectious Mazzereth-led hook, and well, “Mistress of Business” starts out by asking the titular lady to pull down her pants, so, you know, genius-level satire ensues.

Dr. Crazy on Thee Facebooks

Dr. Crazy on Bandcamp

Linie, What We Make Our Demons Do

linie what we make our demons do

An aggressive core lies beneath the progressivism of German five-piece Linie (actually written as ?inie) on their debut full-length, What We Make Our Demons Do, but the material holds a sense of atmosphere as well. Vocalist/guitarist Jörn is very much at the fore of post-intro opener “Blood on Your Arms,” but as the crux of the album plays out on the chug-happy “Lake of Fire” and “No Ideal,” Linie showcase a wider breadth and bring together elements of post-hardcore à la Fugazi, darker heavy rock and purposefully brooding metal. Comprised of Jörn, guitarist/vocalist Alex, bassist/vocalist Ralph, drummer/vocalist Alex and keyboardist Iggi, the band impress on their first offering with not only how assured they seem of their aesthetic, but the expansive manner in which they present it. Their songwriting is varied in approach but unified in mood and while I don’t know what has them so pissed off on a cut like “Inability,” there’s no question whether they’re putting that anger to good use.

Linie on Thee Facebooks

Linie on Bandcamp

The Heavy Minds, Treasure Coast

the heavy minds treasure coast

Austrian trio The Heavy Minds make their full-length debut on Stone Free with Treasure Coast, a seven-cut LP that fuzzes up ‘70s swing without going the full-Graveyard in retro vibe. “You’ve Seen it Coming” seems to nod at Radio Moscow, but a more overarching vibe seems to share ideology with Baltimore three-piece The Flying Eyes, the classic rock sensibilities given natural presentation through a nonetheless modern feel in the tracks. The bass tone of Tobias (who also plays guitar at points) alone makes Treasure Coast worth hunting down, but doesn’t prove to be the limit of what the young outfit have to offer, drummer Christoph swinging fluidly throughout “Diamonds of Love” in a manner that foreshadows the emergent roll of “Seven Remains.” That song is part of a closing duo with “Fire in My Veins,” which boasts a satisfying bluesy howl from guitarist Lukas, rounding out Treasure Coast with an organic openness that suits the band well.

The Heavy Minds on Thee Facebooks

Stone Free

Against the Grain, Road Warriors

against the grain road warriors

Momentum is key when it comes to Road Warriors, the new full-length from Detroit four-piece Against the Grain. They amass plenty of it as they thrust into the 12-track/38-minute rager of an outing, but there are changes to be had in tempo if not necessarily intent. Comprised of bassist/vocalist Chris Nowak, guitarist/vocalist Kyle Davis, guitarist Nick Bellomo and drummer Rob Nowak, the band actually seems more comfortable on fifth-gear cuts like “’Til We Die,” “What Happened,” the first half of “Afraid of Nothing” or the furious “Run for Your Life” than they do in the middle-ground of “Guillotine” and “Night Time,” but slowing down on “Sirens” and “Eyes” allows them to flex a more melodic muscle, and that winds up enriching the album in subtle and interesting ways. If you want a clue as to the perspective from which they’re working, they start with “Here to Stay” and end with “Nothing Left to Lose.” Everything between feels suitably driven by that mission statement.

Against the Grain on Thee Facebooks

Against the Grain on Bandcamp

Angel Eyes, Things Have Learnt to Walk that Ought to Crawl


With the ‘t’ and the ‘ought’ in its title, Angel Eyes’ posthumous third full-length, Things Have Learnt to Walk that Ought to Crawl, brims with oddly rural threat. Like the things are people. The Chicago outfit unfold two gargantuan cascades of atmosludge on “Part I” (15:54) and “Part II” (19:18), pushing their final recording to toward and beyond recommended minimums and maximums as regards intensity. They called it quits in 2011, so to have the record surface four years later and be as blindsidingly cohesive as it is actually makes it kind of a bummer, since it won’t have a follow-up, but the work Angel Eyes are doing across these two tracks – “Part I” getting fully blown-out before shifting into the quiet opening of “Part II” – justifies the time it’s taken for it to be released. They were signed to The Mylene Sheath, but Things is an independent, digital-only outing for the time being, though its structure and cover feel ripe for vinyl. Who knows what the future might bring.

Angel Eyes on Thee Facebooks

Angel Eyes on Bandcamp

Baron, Torpor

baron torpor

Textured, hypnotic and downright gorgeous in its psychedelic melancholy, Baron’s Torpor is a record that a select few will treasure deeply and fail to understand the problem as to why the rest of the planet isn’t just as hooked. A thoroughly British eight-track full-length – their second, I believe, but first for SvartTorpor creates and captures spaces simultaneously on organ-infused pieces like “Mark Maker,” executing complex transitions fluidly and feeding into an overarching ambience that, by the time they get around to the eight-minute “Stry,” is genuinely affecting in mood and beautifully engrossing. The Brighton/Nottingham four-piece fuzz out a bit on “Deeper Align,” but the truth is that Torpor has much more to offer than a single genre encapsulates and those that miss it do so to their own detriment. I mean that. Its patience, its poise and its scope make Torpor an utter joy of progressive flourish and atmosphere with a feel that is entirely its own. I could go on.

Baron on Thee Facebooks

Baron at Svart Records

Creedsmen Arise, Temple

creedsmen arise temple

So get this. For their first EP, Swedish trio Creedsmen Arise – guitarist Emil, drummer Simon and bassist Gustaf (since replaced by Jonte) – have taken it upon themselves to pen a sequel to Sleep’s Dopesmoker that, “tells the story about what happened centuries after the Dopesmoker Caravan and it’s [sic] Weedians reached their destination.” Admirably ballsy terrain for the three-piece to tread their first time out. It’s like, “Oh hey, here’s my first novel – it’s Moby Dick from the whale’s perspective.” The three tracks of the Temple EP are fittingly schooled in Iommic studies, but the band almost undercuts itself because they don’t just sound like Sleep. They have their own style. Yeah, it’s riffy stoner metal, but it’s not like they’re doing an Al Cisneros impression on vocals, so while the concept is derived directly, the sound doesn’t necessarily completely follow suit. Between the 10-minute opening title- and longest-track (immediate points), “Herbal Burial” and “Circle of Clergymen,” Creedsmen Arise make perhaps a more individualized statement than they intended, but it’s one that bodes well.

Creedsmen Arise on Thee Facebooks

Creedsmen Arise on Bandcamp

Deadly Sin (Sloth), Demo Discography

deadly sin (sloth) demo discography

Nola’s cool and all, but when it comes to the nastiest, most misanthropic, fucked-up sludge, choosy moms choose Ohio, and Deadly Sin (Sloth) are a potent example of why. Their Demo Discography tape revels in its disconcerting extremity and seems to grind regardless of whether the Xenia, OH, trio are actually playing fast. Comprised of Jay Snyder, Wilhelm Princeton and Kyle Hughes, Deadly Sin (Sloth) cake themselves in mud that will be familiar to anyone who’s witnessed Fistula on a bender or Sloth at their most pill-popping, but do so with sub-lo-fi threat on the tape and are so clearly intentional in their effort to put the listener off that one could hardly call their demos anything but a victory. Will not be for everyone, but of course that’s the idea. This kind of viciousness is a litmus test that would do justice to any basement show, maddening in its nod and mean well beyond the point of reason.

Deadly Sin (Sloth) on Thee Facebooks

Deadly Sin (Sloth) on Bandcamp

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Sun Blood Stories Release Live from the Banana Stand

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 3rd, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

sun blood stories

Okay, so this one’s been out for a couple weeks. I’ll admit I stumbled on it yesterday while I was revisiting — yet again — the Bandcamp page of Idaho’s Sun Blood Stories to take another listen to their 2015 album, Twilight Midnight Morning (review here), as I have throughout much of this summer while guilting myself for having not yet shelled out for the CD or tape version. There it was: Live from the Banana Stand. And it’s a name-your-price download, no less.

Recorded in Portland, Oregon at the Arrested Development-referencing venue named in its title (“Always money in the banana stand”), it’s got excellent versions of some of the tracks from Twilight Midnight Morning, and confirms for me the open sensibility that the album presented, more specifically the feeling that on any given night the songs might wind up someplace very different from where they started. Vibe all over the place.

I dig it. Since you might too, here’s the info and stream:

sun blood stories live from the banana stand

Sun Blood Stories – Live from the Banana Stand was recorded before a live audience on June 20th, 2014 at the Banana Stand in Portland, Oregon. The album was recorded and mixed by Matt Thomson and mastered by Chris Vita. Dane Brist produced art for the album, which includes original photography from Banana Stand staff. Videos of Sun Blood Stories’ performance at Banana Stand feature footage from camera operators Michael McInerney, Tyler Bertram, Nick Gattman, and Alexei Shishkin, and were directed and edited by Michael McInerney. Banana Stand would like to thank Sun Blood Stories (Amber, Ben, and Brett), all who participated in this album’s creation and anyone that has helped us out along the way.

Boise’s Sun Blood Stories wrote us in early 2014 to share their track Desert for Days. Heavy, distorted, and spooky, the song’s distinctive, psychedelic energy felt like a midnight mushroom trip careening into and out of control. We were hooked. Emailing with Sun Blood Stories rapidly revealed their thoughtful approach and professionalism, and made us all the more excited to host the band in June 2014.

Listening to their performance, I feel very lucky they made the trip. Ben Kirby’s cool, fuzzy guitar riffs, Brett Hawkins’ garagey, off-beat drumming, Amber Pollard’s otherworldly slide-guitar, and Pollard’s and Kirby’s eerie vocals combined to make a uniquely haunting live record, and one which we’re proud to add to our library. You should add it to your library, too. It only costs pay-what-you-want.

If Sun Blood Stories and Treefort Music Festival are any indication, Boise really might be the post-Portland cultural mecca we’re all looking for. Sorry in advance, Boise.

-Louie / Banana Stand

Sun Blood Stories, Live from the Banana Stand (2015)

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Sun Blood Stories, Twilight Midnight Morning: All Hours (Plus Album Stream)

Posted in Reviews on June 19th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

sun blood stories twilight midnight morning

[Please note: Press play above to hear the full stream of Sun Blood Stories’ Twilight Midnight Morning, which is out June 23. Thank you to the band for allowing me to host the stream, and I hope you enjoy it.]

At the moment in Sun Blood Stories‘ second full-length where it seems most likely that you finally have the album figured out — that’s when it turns. Twilight Midnight Morning, as a title, might well describe the varied moods of the release’s 10 tracks/50 minutes, but the actual front-to-back listening experience, from the count of three that seems to signal a dip into hypnosis to the fading guitar echoes that close, is more complex than a linear progression of hours, and experimental flourish of effects-laden viola from Judah Claffey, slide guitar, ambient feedback, drones, swirls, keys — whatever it might be — is never far off. There are stretches of Twilight Midnight Morning where the Boise, Idaho, five-piece revel in flat-out gorgeous post-rock melody-wash, as on the brooding contemplation of “Found Reasons Found Out,” with swirling guitar, dual vocal croon and a wide-open structure that, like much of the record, takes nothing away from its memorability or lessens the impression made.

Not every song has a hook but those that do, like early landmarks “West the Sun” and “Witch Wind,” showcase a swing and willingness to vibe that’s little short of masterful, guitarist Ben Kirby channeling a heavy psych Nick Cave on “West the Sun” as lap steel guitarist/vocalist Amber Pollard joins in, duet style, adding texture to the jam that’s about to unfold as pushed forward by drummer John Füst and given further nuance in the subtly meandering bass work of Nik Kososik. And that jam, when they get there, is beautiful, exploratory but not cloying, and as rich tonally as it is inviting. They push back to the verse and beyond, the 8:30 runtime gives “West the Sun” plenty of time to unfold in following the nighttime desertism of opener “Palace Mountain Mirage,” and though there’s a lucidity underlying — Kososik seeing to its care and maintenance — the lushness of the sounds Sun Blood Stories create is still just beginning to unfurl its full scope as the aforementioned “Found Reasons Found Out” turns its backwards intro forward to begin a linear build that remains sweet, dreamy and sonically free as it moves ahead toward consciousness.

Beginning quiet, spacious and lurching to life the way a swamp does the farther in one wades, “Witch Wind” is both the most straightforward inclusion on Twilight Midnight Morning and the most singular standout, though it’s worth mentioning that as much as its sultry call and response between Kirby and Pollard in the hook “I know, the way the witch wind blows,” to which she answers and he joins, “To the west, to the west,” resonates, it does nothing to interrupt the overarching flow of the album, which remains paramount, whichever way the wind is blowing, or even in that fuzz-topped moment when Kirby hits into a falsetto and the effect is so fucking cool over Kososik‘s righteous bassline that psychedelic supremacy feels inescapable. And that’s it, right there. That’s where you start to feel like you might have Sun Blood Stories figured out. But nope.


At just 1:40, “Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in Space” is an ambient interlude of drone and cosmic hum, vague, echoing voice and raw spontaneity that one might even pass over the first time through the album, it’s so hypnotic, but is actually the point at which Sun Blood Stories stare expectation in the face and turn left to go around it, the subsequent “NighTremor” reestablishing a rhythmic footing with low end, tension in the drums and sparing guitar, but already the context has begun to shift. It will continue to do so after the peak of the track, as it devolves into echoes and ethereal swirl, Pollard‘s voice with it, and into the seven-minute dronefest of “Time Like Smoke,” which is the point at which, if Twilight Midnight Morning is a dream, then that dream takes a darker turn. There’s still a human element in it, distant echoes of voices whispering behind waves of feedback, slow notes, samples like half-forgotten memories appearing in unconsciousness, but it’s easy to imagine we’re pushing toward the “midnight” portion of the album’s title, and already it feels like it has been a significant journey with a ways still to go.

What makes a shift like “Time Like Smoke” work is the fact that Sun Blood Stories have basically set a context where anything is possible, sound-wise. It’s not a question of whether something fits — there’s room in the scope for anything they might conjure, and that includes the experimental, minimalist spirit of “Moon Song: Waxing,” which is the first of a three-part closing series finds Pollard singing far back behind swells of viola and eerie guitar, which comes forward particularly in the last of the three minutes to underscore the trance, which continues after bleeding directly into “Misery is Nebulous,” on which Füst‘s drums make a return after a lengthy absence and work their way forward in the mix complemented by atmospheric but wordless vocal melody.

And how else to finish but by stripping it all away? “Moon Song: Waning” does precisely that, Kirby running through simple lines of acoustic guitar and vocals with backing moans from Pollard, the two coming together in folkish style to “Sing sing sing sing to the fallen moon” at the end, a kind of foreboding echo of electric guitar notes surprising in their arrival but ultimately providing a cinematic kind of epilogue as they fade away, taking the record with it. With the amount of territory Sun Blood Stories cover, it’s easy enough to believe that Twilight Midnight Morning winds up north of the 50-minute mark, but the vitality and adventurousness of this material means it never drags (unless it wants to), and it never veers so far as to lose its way entirely. It is admirable all the more because it is so amorphous and so complex and so molten stylistically and yet cohesive in its presentation and acting almost to guide the listener through its varied bends and twists. The smoothness of its movement and the command that Sun Blood Stories ultimately show in steering its path are staggering, and the album winds up nothing short of a joy to take in over multiple return visits.

Sun Blood Stories on Thee Facebooks

Sun Blood Stories on Bandcamp

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Steve Von Till Announces Solo European Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 4th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

Steve Von Till, best known as guitarist/vocalist in Neurosis, has announced a European run that will start June 29 in support of his new album, A Life unto Itself (review forthcoming), which is out now on Neurot Recordings. It is the Idaho-based Von Till‘s fourth solo full-length, and like 2008’s A Grave is a Grim HorseA Life unto Itself explores a variety of textures and arrangements while keeping a central, if-not-acoustic-at-least-intimate spirit at its core, though it’s worth noting that the seven years between records has resulted in prevalent growth as well, Von Till becoming an even more patient, exploratory songwriter while reveling in tradition as much as experimentation.

Tour dates and album info follow, fresh off the PR wire:

steve von till (Photo by Niela Von Till)

STEVE VON TILL Announces European Live Dates In Support Of His New Solo Album, A Life Unto Itself, Out Now On Neurot Recordings

Neurosis guitarist/vocalist and Neurot Recordings founder, STEVE VON TILL, reveals a string of European live dates in support of his latest solo album, the immense and celestial, A Life Unto Itself. From June 29th through July 5th, SVT will trek through the UK, Germany and France.

6/29/2015 St Pancras Old Church – London, UK
7/01/2015 Jägerklause – Berlin, DE
7/02/2015 UT Connewitz – Leipzig, DE
7/03/2015 Jubez – Karlsruhe, DE
7/04/2015 La Peniche – Lille, FR
7/05/2015 Espace B – Paris, FR

A Life Unto Itself ventures into compelling uncharted territory for its maker. STEVE VON TILL’s weathered, distinctive voice and sparse acoustic guitar provides a foundation, but a much wider variety of sonic textures are presented here. Bold and ambitious arrangements weave vintage synth, sublime strings, percussion, and electric guitars throughout these unique and expansive songs, as VON TILL’s raspy whisper dives deeply inward, and speaks genuinely of visions, memories, and self-reflection in a way that feels both seasoned and exposed.

The majority of A Life Unto Itself was captured at Avast! Recording Co. in Seattle under the direction of producer Randall Dunn (Earth, Sunn O))), Wolves In The Throne Room, Marissa Nadler and Rose Windows), with additional recordings handled at STEVE VON TILL’s own The Crow’s Nest, and the final product was mastered by Jason Ward at Chicago Mastering Service. With guest viola contributions from Eyvind Kang, pedal steel from J. Kardong, and percussion courtesy of Pat Schowe, the album is enshrouded in artwork bearing the recognizable style of Aaron Turner (Sumac, Isis, Old Man Gloom, Hydra Head). All of these factors culminate into a twelve-passage voyage with over forty-five minutes of stirring textures which drill their way immediately to the core of your bones, gnaw your heart’s defense mechanisms to their foundations, and invoke a wellspring of emotions.

A Life Unto Itself LP is out now via Neurot Recordings. Packages for the digital download, CD, and 12″ LP on both black and red vinyl, including t-shirt bundles, are AVAILABLE HERE.

Steve Von Till, “A Life unto Itself”

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Sun Blood Stories to Release Twilight Midnight Morning on June 23

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 28th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

sun blood stories (Photo by Kate Grosswiler)

I gotta be honest with you. I don’t know much about Sun Blood Stories other than they’re from Boise, Idaho, and the upcoming Twilight Midnight Morning is their third album, but god damn, the vibe is absolutely slaughtering me right now. Headphones in, the 10-tracker is a gorgeous wash that careens between minimalist openness, dual vocals that capture folkish intent with zero folkish pretense and psychedelic guitar howl, all the while swirling with experimental undercurrents and ambient heft — a weight that doesn’t force itself on you but has enough presence to pull you along for sure.

Hey all you labels who pick up bands and put their stuff out on vinyl: If you’re reading this, you might want to pay attention. Meantime, I’m gonna go email Sun Blood Stories back and ask them if I can stream the whole record because that’s how much of it I think you should hear.


sun blood stories twilight midnight morning

Sun Blood Stories to Release New Album, Twilight Midnight Morning

Sun Blood Stories (BOI), will release their new album, Twilight Midnight Morning on June 23, 2015. The new album will be the first full length released since the band’s 2013 vinyl release, The Electric Years – and they promise it will destroy the previous album in terms of overall awesomeness and heartfelt sonic cacophony. Over the past two years, Sun Blood Stories has kept busy performing locally, touring, and writing music for Ballet Idaho.

Over the past year, the band has been busy writing and recording new music for Twilight Midnight Morning in their basement. The lead single, Palace Mountain Mirage, has been spinning on Radio Boise, and other community radio stations across the country, since March 2015.

This summer they’re keeping busy on the road with 5 music festivals booked and a 2 week California tour.

May 29 The Sickhouse Idaho Falls, ID w/ Snoozy Moon, Lea…
May 30 Camp Daze Music Fest Missoula, MT
Jun 05 Deadbeat Records Olympia, WA
Jun 06 Big Bldg Bash Seattle, WA w/ Kithkin, Charms,…
Jun 12 Hogan’s Clarkston, WA w/ Snoozy Moon
Jun 13 Neato Burrito Spokane, WA w/ Stucco, Space Mo…

Sun Blood Stories, “Palace Mountain Mirage”

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Steve Von Till Announces A Life unto Itself Album Release

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 12th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

Been a quick seven years since Neurosis guitarist/vocalist Steve Von Till released his last solo album, A Grave is a Grim Horse. Or maybe it’s been a long seven years. I don’t know. It’s been seven friggin’ years, either way, which is long enough. In May, Von Till will issue the Randall Dunn-recorded A Life unto Itself on Neurot as his fourth solo outing. There hasn’t been any audio yet, but I’m interested to hear how the thread from A Grave is a Grim Horse plays out. The last Von Till record had more of an arranged sense, less of a guy-plus-guitar folkishness than the preceding 2002 long-player, If I Should Fall to the Field. Hard to believe that album is 13 years old now. Wow.

While I go attempt to process those numbers, dig into the PR wire info below on A Life unto Itself:

steve von till (Photo by Niela Von Till)

Steve Von Till reveals details of an astonishing new solo album, A Life Unto Itself, upcoming on Neurot Recordings in May

The title doesn’t quite say it all, but it says some of it: A Life Unto Itself is as much the name of Steve Von Till’s fourth solo album as it is the perfect description for the 25-plus years he’s spent forging, with his brothers, the incomparable musical force that is Neurosis—not to mention the numerous sonic tapestries he’s woven with Tribes Of Neurot and under his alter ego Harvestman. You can hear that rich musical history, and all the life experience that goes with it, on his new solo album A Life Unto Itself – and this album goes deeper still.

Where Steve Von Till’s previous solo recordings took on a more traditional approach with a respectful nod toward American and European folk music, A Life Unto Itself expands and ventures into compelling uncharted territory for its maker. Steve Von Till’s weathered, distinctive voice and sparse acoustic guitar provides a foundation, but a much wider variety of sonic textures are presented here. Bold and ambitious arrangements weave vintage synth, sublime strings, percussion, and electric guitars in and out of these unique and expansive songs as Steve Von Till’s raspy whisper dives deeply inward and speaks genuinely of visions, memories, and self-reflection in a way that feels both seasoned and exposed.

A Life Unto Itself is a powerful and evocative collection of beautiful Celtic balladry, haunting folk songs, dark psychedelia and expansive Americana, transporting one to the very heart and soul of its creator. If you allow yourself to fully submit to it, abandoning all preconceptions, the rewards can be magnificent.

Steve Von Till, “Looking for Dry Land” from A Grave is a Grim Horse (2008)

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Steve Von Till: New Solo Album Recorded, Mixed and Mastered

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 5th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

Last night on Thee Facebooks, producer Randall Dunn (Master Musicians of Bukkake) confirmed that he’d heard the mastered version of a new solo album by Neurosis guitarist/vocalist Steve Von Till. No release date has been set for the yet-untitled offering, and things like artwork and Neurot Recordings‘ scheduling will no doubt factor into when it’s made public, but even that a new outing has been recorded with Dunn at the helm is news enough for me, particularly considering Neurosis are also slated to begin writing a new album in February according to guitarist/vocalist Scott Kelly.

Whenever it arrives, the next Von Till full-length will be his first since 2008’s A Grave is a Grim Horse, which was his third and presented something of a shift from the folk of his first two, 2000’s As the Crow Flies and 2002’s If I Should Fall to the Field, to a fuller sound, which was further developed on 2009’s In a Dark Tongue (review here), the second LP from Von Till‘s psychedelic, exploratory rock project Harvestman. Seven years between solo albums seems like a long time, but between HarvestmanNeurosis‘ 2012 LP Honor Found in Decay (review here), that band’s increasingly busy live schedule — they just did three New Year’s shows in San Francisco to kick off what promises to be a busier 2015, even apart from the writing sessions — his participation in the first Songs of Townes Van Zandt tribute with Wino and Kelly, and Neurot‘s reissue of As the Crow Flies last year, marking its first release on vinyl, there hasn’t been any deficit of output.

More to come as I hear it, but until then, here’s Von Till to stare you down and the post from Dunn:

steve von till

Listening to the master of the new Steve Von Till solo record I produced and recorded. It sounds amazing! cannot wait for you all to hear this very psyched out and heavy. Thanks to J.b. Kardong , Eyvind Kang and Pat Schowe for your great contributions. Thanks to Steve Von Till for asking me to do it!

Steve Von Till, “A Grave is a Grim Horse”

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