Saturnia Post “Gemini” Video from The Seance Tapes

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 26th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

saturnia

Somebody had the right idea. I’m gonna guess it was Luís Simões. When Portuguese heavy psych rockers Saturnia hit Colour Haze Studio — yes, run by the band of the same name — to record their latest album, The Seance Tapes (review here), they brought a video camera along to capture the process. This was the right idea because the band was recording live for the first time, and where it’s traditionally been Simões working on his own in multi-instrumentalist fashion handling guitar, sitar, bass, vocals, etc., this time he not only had drummer André Silva with him, but also key specialist Nuno Oliveira on organ, synth, electric piano and whatnot, tracking live as a three-piece.

This wouldn’t necessarily be a minor change if it was Saturnia‘s second record or even their third, but it’s their seventh. They’ve worked pretty much with Simões and various other contributors all along, and for the first time it’s a full band functioning as a live act. I guess Simões figured that if he was going to continue to push into new ground as the band had a six-album track record of doing, this was the way to go. It worked. The Seance Tapes is a collection of songs that featured on past Saturnia full-lengths, and even so, one can hear the new life breathed into the material as they go. It flows much as a live set would because basically it is a live set, played and then given further flourish later on atop the basic tracks laid down to analog tape.

I wouldn’t speculate as to whether Saturnia will continue in this manner or go back to the way things have always been, but either way, The Seance Tapes captures a special moment in their history, and as such, it’s all the more fitting that it’s caught on video and preserved in more than just the album itself. A video for “Mindrama” from 2007’s Muzak has already surfaced, but you can see the band in the studio below for “Gemini” from their 1999 self-titled debut. I don’t expect it will be the last clip that makes its way to the public.

The Seance Tapes is out now on Elektrohasch Schallplatten.

Please enjoy:

Saturnia, “Gemini” official video

New video from The Seance Tapes – Gemini.

Recorded at Colour Haze Studio, Reichertshausen.

Saturnia on Thee Facebooks

Saturnia website

Elektrohasch Schallplatten website

Tags: , , , , ,

Saturnia, The Seance Tapes: An Open Channel

Posted in Reviews on July 9th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

saturnia the seance tapes

To-date, multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Luís Simões has led Saturnia through seven albums of ever-increasing cosmic reach. Simões, who is based in Lisboa, Portugal, and plays guitar, lap steel, theremin, bass pedals, Mellotron, and acoustic and electric sitar, has always been the core of the band and he remains so, but the difference with Saturnia‘s latest offering, The Seance Tapes (released by Elektrohasch), is that he’s joined in the studio by a stage-ready band. He and drummer André Silva have worked together before, unless I’m mistaken, but together in the studio with keyboardist, organist, electric pianist, synthesist — basically if it’s got keys, he’s right in there — Nuno Oliveira, the resultant trio tap into a live chemistry that’s never been conjured by Saturnia until now. It’s only fitting, then, that the 12-tracks of The Seance Tapes should be culled, two each, from the band’s six-album back catalog:

1. Chrysalis (5:31) from 2001’s The Glitter Odd
2. A Burnt Offering (8:10) from 2016’s The Real High
3. Infinite Chord (5:17) from 2007’s Muzak
4. I Am Utopia (8:52) from 2012’s Alpha Omega Alpha
5. The Real High (8:33) from The Real High
6. Hydrophonic Gardening (3:40) from 2003’s Hydrophonic Gardening
7. Mindrama (6:00) from Muzak
8. Gemini (4:44) from 1999’s Saturnia
9. Still Life (5:06) from The Glitter Odd
10. Sunflower (7:31) from Hydrophonic Gardening
11. The Twilight Bong (9:33) from Saturnia
12. Cosmonication (6:04) from Alpha Omega Alpha

Ordered for maximum flow rather than chronology, the 79-minute album stretches the limits of the CD format and is currently awaiting a 2LP issue, but however one might end up taking it on, the intention is plain in giving Saturnia‘s live ambitions a studio form, and hearing the sitar-drone-laced “The Real High” or the post-The Heads space-rock-meets-shoegaze-vocals vibes of “I am Utopia” before it, the vibrancy emanating from them is as infectious as the swinging rhythms brought to bear by Silva‘s utter mastery of psychedelic percussion. Whether it’s hand drums on “The Real High” or the far-off cymbals echoing behind the Mellotron-laced “Still Life” or the pickup brought to opener “Chrysalis,” or the subtle grounding given to the mellow psych-prog meandering of “A Burnt Offering” and the especially King Crimson-esque “Cosmonication,” Silva‘s contributions are utterly essential. One could say the same of the textures Oliveira brings to the same tracks alongside Simões, and even if power-trio-Saturnia had the blueprint of the band’s past albums to work from, it’s still an impressive amount of character brought to the material to make it come to life.

saturnia

No doubt actually recording live has something to do with that as well. Of course, Simões, who also helms Saturnia‘s production duties, has been at this long enough to know what he wants from the band in terms of sound, but with Silva and Oliveira on board, he’s still in relatively unexplored territory. While it seems likely that they would’ve gone back later to layer in effects, synth, swirls, percussion and so on, since there’s only so much a human being can be playing at one time — curse our limitations as a species! — to even put down the basic tracks live is a bold choice on the part of the band. A safe one, too, though, considering what they’re playing is established material rather than something new. Still, you want to show off your live band? Play live. Seems fair enough, right? Simões being the one running the show would know that, but that doesn’t mean the decision lacks bravery. On the contrary, two years after releasing The Real High and some 19 years forward from their debut (which Elektrohasch also reissued in 2009), Saturnia have chosen to take their exploration to a meta level — examining what it means to be a full band after so many years under Simões‘ direct control with complementary contributions from guest players. It’s the shape of the band itself changing now.

So what one ends up with on The Seance Tapes is a forward-looking retrospective. And for as much time as it covers, the sound throughout is strikingly cohesive when it comes to representing Saturnia‘s past material as hippie-dance-ready psychedelia. In more active stretches like “Mindrama” and the cosmic pulsations of “Sunflower” and the deep-dive moodier feel of the slow-rolling “Gemini,” there is a unity throughout that comes from the performance on the part of the band. That is, while Saturnia‘s sonic progression over the last almost-two-decades has brought it from electronic influences to being the kind of band who might decide to do a greatest hits record live in the studio rather than simply assemble the tracks as they were, there isn’t necessarily a hiccup throughout The Seance Tapes as they jump back and forth from album to album in Simões‘ discography. Rather, it’s the very fact that they’re putting it to tape live that draws the material together. They take advantage of the methodology in terms not only of bringing vitality to the songs — and these songs sound truly vital; vibrant and affirming like the best of peak-psychedelia, even with a heavier underpinning — but in creating a thread between them that helps make that vitality so pervasive. In the sitar-fueled revelations of “The Twilight Bong” and the spaced-out Mellotron epique groove of “Infinite Chord” and in the percussive serenity wash that is the second half of “The Real High,” there isn’t anywhere or anywhen that Saturnia go where they don’t seem right at home.

Perhaps most interesting of all when it comes to The Seance Tapes is the temporal accomplishment of it in using past material to establish the sound of who Saturnia are now. Much like the balance between safety and risk in recording older songs live with a new lineup, there’s also the fact that they’re making a definitive statement of intention across this graceful and extended span. Whatever Saturnia have been in the past, they’re working toward a new plane, and it’s inherent in the context of The Seance Tapes that it should be a landmark along the band’s timeline. Whether Simões will continue with the band in this form and adopt a more live-focused ethic, I don’t know, but it says something about creative will that after six records, the crux of what makes his project what it is has shifted so significantly. No doubt he could easily continue to bang out collections every couple years on his own, and that both might still happen and be just fine — it’s certainly worked before — but The Seance Tapes represents a drive that extends to more than just an adventurous sound. It is a genuine search for and attempt to bring something new to Saturnia, and what or may not be next, the dividends wrought here are not to be ignored.

Saturnia, “Mindrama” official video

Saturnia on Thee Facebooks

Saturnia website

Elektrohasch Schallplatten website

Tags: , , , , ,

Dollar Llama Post Video for “Louder”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 12th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

dollar llama

Portuguese bruiser rockers Dollar Llama issued their third album, Juggernaut, this past December via Raging Planet, and with it unfurl a swath of dudely aggro burl worthy of the title. Taking influence from the likes of Down, Goatsnake and those of harder, meaner edges, the band chug their way through cuts like “Knucklehead,” the ultra-catchy “Misery,” and the bullying but still hook driven “Bocanegra,” keeping structures straightforward but offering some variety of mood around the central crux of testosterone-fueled groove. In some of its nastiest charge, Juggernaut borders on sludge — somehow it’s never quite sloppy enough to actually get there — but it’s never ultimately too far from an underlying current of straightforward metal, as heard in the riffs and gruff vocals alike.

And yet, when one listens to a cut like “Louder” — for which the band have a new video which you can view below — the track isn’t without a sense of space or depth of arrangement, and the same applies to songs like “Nails,” the second half of the penultimate title-track and the verses of the slower “Currents.” This doesn’t quite set up a dichotomy between one side and another throughout the album, but it definitely gives Dollar Llama more of a sense of range than they’d have otherwise, vocalist Tiago Simões harmonizing in layers on “Currents” as guitarists Chikko Marques and Hugo Vieira intertwine riffs and leads atop the solid foundation of rhythm from bassist José Dinis and drummer Pedro Cardoso. No matter what direction a given song is headed in throughout Juggernaut, the band keep it crisp and professional, and offer stage-ready energy with a studio-born fullness of tone. To wit, it seems like no coincidence the record caps with the two-minute balls-outtery of “Stagefires,” which feels as much like a statement of intent as anything else.

All told, Juggernaut is 10 tracks and 44 minutes of dead-ahead push, stuck-in-your-head hooks and rocker-mosh vibing. There’s more than a little chestbeating going on and something of a sense of by-dudes-about-dudes-for-dudes comes through the proceedings, but there’s no arguing with the penchant for songcraft, and Juggernaut becomes even more of a destructive force when ridiculous volume is applied. Trust me, I tested it out.

PR wire info follows the video for “Louder” below. I’ve also included the full album stream of Juggernaut in case you’d like to dig in a bit more.

Either way, please enjoy:

Dollar Llama, “Louder” official video

DOLLAR LLAMA have released their third full length album in December 2nd 2017.

“JUGGERNAUT” can be defined as a “literal or metaphorical force regarded as mercilessly, destructive and unstoppable.” That’s how the band describes the sound of the 10 heavy tracks that makes “Juggernaut” the most powerful album in the history of the band so far.

“LOUDER” is the most psychedelic song, with a voyage of heavy riffs, trippy solos and raging vocals. The album was recorded at Black Sheep Studios, produced by Miguel Marques (Devil In Me, Comeback Kid, More Than a Thousand) and will be distributed by Raging Planet (PT) and Stone Groove Records (USA).

Dollar Llama, Juggernaut (2017)

Dollar Llama on Thee Facebooks

Dollar Llama website

Dollar Llama at Raging Planet Bandcamp

Raging Planet website

Tags: , , , , ,