Quarterly Review: Loss, BardSpec, Sinner Sinners, Cavra, Black Tremor & Sea Witch, Supersonic Blues, Masterhand, Green Lung, Benthic Realm, Lâmina

Posted in Reviews on July 11th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-summer-2017

Day two of the Quarterly Review and all is chugging along. I was on the road for part of the day yesterday and will be again today, so there’s some chaos underlying what I’m sure on the surface seems like an outwardly smooth process — ha. — but yeah, things are moving forward. Today is a good mix of stuff, which makes getting through it somewhat easier on my end, as opposed to trying to find 50 different ways to say “riffy,” so I hope you take the time to sample some audio as you make your way through, to get a feel for where these bands are coming from. A couple highlights of the week in here, as always. We go.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Loss, Horizonless

loss horizonless

Horizonless (on Profound Lore) marks a welcome if excruciating return from Nashville death-doomers Loss, who debuted six years ago with 2011’s Despond (review here) and who, much to their credit, waste no time in making up for their absence with 64 soul-crushing minutes across nine slabs of hyperbole-ready atmospheric misery. The longer, rumble-caked, slow-motion lumbering of “The Joy of all Who Sorrow,” “All Grows on Tears,” “Naught,” the title-track and closer “When Death is All” (which boasts guests spots from Leviathan’s Wrest, Dark Castle’s Stevie Floyd and producer Billy Anderson) are companioned by shorter ambient works like the creepy horror soundtrack “I.O.” and the hum of “Moved Beyond Murder,” but the deeper it goes, the more Horizonless lives up to its name in creating a sense of unremitting, skyline-engulfing darkness. That doesn’t mean it’s without an emotional center. As Loss demonstrate throughout, there’s nothing that escapes their consumptive scope, and as they shift through the organ-laced “The End Steps Forth,” “Horizonless,” “Banishment” and the long-fading wash of the finale, the album seems as much about eating its own heart as yours. A process both gorgeous and brutal.

Loss on Thee Facebooks

Profound Lore Records website

 

BardSpec, Hydrogen

bardspec hydrogen

It’s only fair to call Hydrogen an experimentalist work, but don’t necessarily take that to mean that Enslaved guitarist Ivar Bjørnson doesn’t have an overarching vision for what his BardSpec project is. With contributions along the way from Today is the Day’s Steve Austin and former Trinacria compatriot Iver Sandøy (also Manngard), Bjørnson crafts extended pieces of ambient guitar and electronica-infused beats on works like “Fire Tongue” and the thumping “Salt,” resulting in two kinds of interwoven progressive otherworldlinesses not so much battling it out as exploring the spaces around each other. Hydrogen veers toward the hypnotic even through the more manic-churning bonus track “Teeth,” but from the psych-dance transience of “Bone” (video posted here) to the unfolding wash of “Gamma,” BardSpec is engaged in creating its own aesthetic that’s not only apart from what Bjørnson is most known for in Enslaved, but apart even from its influences in modern atmospherics and classic, electronics-infused prog.

BardSpec on Thee Facebooks

ByNorse Music website

 

Sinner Sinners, Optimism Disorder

There’s a current of rawer punk running beneath Sinner Sinners’ songwriting – or on the surface of it if you happen to be listening to “California” or “Outsider” or “Hate Yourself” or “Preachers,” etc. – but especially when the L.A. outfit draw back on the push a bit, their Last Hurrah Records and Cadavra Records full-length Optimism Disorder bears the hallmarks of Rancho de la Luna, the studio where it was recorded. To wit, the core duo of Steve and Sam Thill lead the way through the Queens of the Stone Age-style drive of opener “Last Drop” (video posted here), “Desperation Saved Me (Out of Desperation)” and though finale “Celexa Blues” is more aggressive, its tones and overall hue, particularly in the context of the bounce of “Together We Stand” and “Too Much to Dream” earlier, still have that desert-heavy aspect working for them. It’s a line that Sinner Sinners don’t so much straddle as crash through and stomp all over, but I’m not sure Optimism Disorder would work any other way.

Sinner Sinners on Thee Facebooks

Sinner Sinners on Bandcamp

Last Hurrah Records website

 

Cavra, Cavra

cavra cavra

The five-song/52-minute self-titled debut from Argentina trio Cavra was first offered digitally name-your-price-style late in 2016 and picked up subsequently by South American Sludge. There’s little reason to wonder why. Comprised of guitarist/vocalist Cristian Kocak, bassist/vocalist Fernando Caminal and drummer Matias Gallipoli, the Buenos Aires three-piece place themselves squarely in the sphere of their home country’s rich heritage in heavy rock and psychedelic fluidity, with earthy tones, a resounding spaciousness in longer cuts like the all-15-minutes-plus “2010,” “Montaña” and “Torquemada.” My mind went immediately to early and mid-period Los Natas as a reference point for how the vocals cut through the density of “Montaña,” but even as Cavra show punkier and more straightforward thrust on the shorter “Dos Soles” (4:10) and “Librianna” (2:45) – the latter also carrying a marked grunge feel – they seem to keep one foot in lysergism. Perhaps less settled than it wants to be in its quiet parts, Cavra’s Cavra nonetheless reaches out with a tonal warmth and organic approach that mark a welcome arrival.

Cavra on Thee Facebooks

South American Sludge Records on Thee Facebooks

 

Black Tremor & Sea Witch, Split

black-tremor-sea-witch-split

One has to wonder if whichever of the involved parties – be it the two acts or either of the labels, Sunmask Records or Hypnotic Dirge – had in mind a land-and-sea kind of pairing in putting together Saskatoon’s Black Tremor or Nova Scotia’s Sea Witch for this split release, because that’s basically where they wound up. Black Tremor, who issued their debut EP in 2016’s Impending (review here), answer the post-Earth vibes with more bass/drums/cello instrumental exploration on the two-part “Hexus,” while the massive tonality of duo Sea Witch answers back – though not literally; they’re also instrumental – with three cuts, “Green Tide,” “As the Crow Flies Part One” and “As the Crow Flies Part Two.” The two outfits have plenty in common atmospherically, but where Black Tremor seem to seek open spaces in their sound, Sea Witch prefer lung-crushing heft, and, well, there isn’t really a wrong answer to that question. Two distinct intentions complementing each other in fluidity and a mood that goes from grim and contemplative to deathly and bleak.

Black Tremor on Thee Facebooks

Sea Witch on Thee Facebooks

Hypnotic Dirge Records webstore

Sunmask Records webstore

 

Supersonic Blues, Supersonic Blues Theme b/w Curses on My Soul

supersonic-blues-supersonic-blues-theme

It takes Den Haag trio Supersonic Blues no more than eight minutes to bust out one of 2017’s best short releases in their Who Can You Trust? Records debut single, Supersonic Blues Theme b/w Curses on My Soul. Yes, I mean it. The young three-piece of guitarist Timothy, bassist Gianni and drummer Lennart absolutely nail a classic boogie-rock vibe on the two-tracker, and from the gotta-hear low end that starts “Curses on My Soul,” the unabashed hook of “Supersonic Blues Theme” and the blown-out garage vocals that top both, the two-tracker demonstrates clearly not only that there’s still life to be had in heavy ‘70s loyalism when brought to bear with the right kind of energy, but that Supersonic Blues are on it like fuzz on tone. Killer feel all the way and shows an exceeding amount of potential for a full-length that one can only hope won’t follow too far behind. Bonus points for recording with Guy Tavares at Motorwolf. Hopefully they do the same when it comes time for the LP.

Supersonic Blues on Thee Facebooks

Who Can You Trust? Records webstore

 

Masterhand, Mind Drifter

masterhand-mind-drifter

A neo-psych trio from Oklahoma City, Masterhand seem like the kind of group who might at a moment’s notice pack their gear and go join the legions of freaks tripping out on the West Coast. Can’t imagine they wouldn’t find welcome among that I-see-colors-everywhere underground set – at least if their debut long-player, Mind Drifter, is anything to go by. Fuzz like Fuzz, acid like Uncle, and a quick, raw energy that underlies and propels the proceedings through quick tracks like “Fear Monger” and “Lucifer’s Dream” – tense bass and drums behind more languid wah and surf guitar before a return to full-on fuzz – yeah, they make a solid grab for upstart imprint King Volume Records, which has gotten behind Mind Drifter for a cassette issue. There’s some growing to do, but the psych-garage feel of “Chocolate Cake” is right on, “Heavy Feels” is a party, and when they want, they make even quick cuts like “Paranoia Destroyer” feel expansive. That, along with the rest of the release, bodes remarkably well.

Masterhand on Thee Facebooks

King Volume Records webstore

 

Green Lung, Green Man Rising

green-lung-green-man-rising

Groove-rolling four-piece Green Lung boast former members of Oak and Tomb King, among others, and Green Man Rising, their first digital single, is the means by which they make their entry into London’s crowded underground sphere. Aside from the apparent nod to Type O Negative in the title – and the plenty of more-than-apparent nod in guitarist Scott Masson’s riffing – “Green Man Rising” and “Freak on a Peak” bask in post-Church of Misery blown-out cymbals from drummer Matt Wiseman, corresponding tones, while also engaging a sense of space via rich low end from bassist Andrew Cave and the echoing vocals of Tom Killingbeck. There’s an aesthetic identity taking shape in part around nature worship, and a burgeoning melodicism that one imagines will do likewise more over time, but they’ve got stonerly hooks in the spirit of Acrimony working in their favor and in a million years that’s never going to be a bad place to start. Cool vibe; makes it easy to look forward to more from them.

Green Lung on Thee Facebooks

Green Lung on Bandcamp

 

Benthic Realm, Benthic Realm

benthic-realm-benthic-realm

In 2016, Massachusetts-based doom metallers Second Grave issued one of the best debut albums of the year in their long-awaited Blacken the Sky (review here)… and then, quite literally days later, unexpectedly called it quits. It was like a cruel joke, teasing their potential and then cutting it short of full realization. The self-titled debut EP from Benthic Realm, which features Second Grave guitarist/vocalist Krista van Guilder (also ex-Warhorse) and bassist Maureen Murphy alongside drummer Brian Banfield (The Scimitar), would seem to continue the mission of that prior outfit if perhaps in an even more metallic direction, drawing back on some of Second Grave’s lumber in favor of a mid-paced thrust while holding firm to the melodic sensibility that worked so well across Blacken the Sky’s span. For those familiar with Second Grave, Benthic Realm is faster, not as dark, and perhaps somewhat less given to outward sonic extremity, but it’s worth remembering that “Awakening,” “Don’t Fall in Line” and “Where Serpents Dwell” are just an introduction and that van Guilder and Murphy might go on a completely different direction over the longer term after going back to square one as they do here.

Benthic Realm website

Benthic Realm on Bandcamp

 

Lâmina, Lilith

lamina-lilith

Smack dab in the middle of Lilith, the debut album from Lisbon-based doom/heavy rockers Lâmina, sits the 20-minute aberration “Maze.” It’s a curious track in a curious place on the record, surrounded by the chugging “Evil Rising” and bass-led rocker bounce of “Psychodevil,” but though it’s almost a full-length unto itself (at least an EP), Lâmina make the most of its extended and largely linear course, building on the tonal weight already shown in the earlier “Cold Blood” and “Big Black Angel” and setting up the tension of “Education for Death” and the nine-minute semi-title-track finale “In the Warmth of Lilith,” which feels a world away from the modern stonerism of “Psychodevil” in its slower and thoroughly doomed rollout. There’s a subtle play of scope happening across Lilith, drawn together by post-grunge tonal clarity and vocal melodies, and Lâmina establish themselves as potentially able to pursue any number of paths going forward from here. If they can correspondingly develop the penchant for songwriting they already show in these cuts as well, all the better.

Lâmina on Thee Facebooks

Lâmina on Bandcamp

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Quarterly Review: Bus, Them Bulls, Stinkeye, Buzzard Canyon, Motherbrain, Elder Druid, The Crazy Left Experience, The Watchers, Of the Horizon, Raj

Posted in Reviews on December 28th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk winter quarterly review

Today is the day the Quarterly Review passes the halfway point. This will be 21-30 of the total 60 for the six days, so there’s still a ways to go — you might say 50 percent — but it’s a milestone nonetheless. Once again it’s another roundup of cool stuff, kind of all over the place a little more than the last two days were, but as we go further along with these things, it’s good to mix it up after a while. There’s only so many times you can throw the word “lysergic” around and talk about jamming. That said, you’re getting some of that today as well from Portugal, so when it pops up, don’t be surprised. Much to do, so no need to delay.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Bus, The Unknown Secretary

bus-the-unknown-secretary

Athenian double-guitar four-piece Bus execute a stylistically cohesive, crisp debut with The Unknown Secretary (on Twin Earth Records), presenting classic heavy rock elements without going full-retro in their sound itself and marking songs like “Masteroid” as immediately distinct through the harmonized vocals of guitarist Bill City, joined in the band by guitarist Johnnie Chez, bassist Chob D’oh and drummer Aris. Together they run through a clean two sides that play back and forth between proto-metallic and doom shading – “Don’t Fear Your Demon” touches on slower Pentagram – while sounding perhaps most comfortable in rockers like “Withered Thorn” or the earlier stomper “New Black Volume,” which puts its two guitars to excellent use ahead of and between unabashedly poppy (not sure a full Ghost comparison is warranted) verse, and craft a highlight in the 7:38 arena-ready thrust of “Rockerbus” prior to the surprisingly nodding finale of “Jimi.” A strikingly efficient and clear-headed first full-length that would seem to hold much promise of things to come from yet another player in Greece’s emergent heavy scene.

Bus on Thee Facebooks

Twin Earth Records on Bandcamp

 

Them Bulls, Them Bulls

them-bulls-them-bulls.jpg

With the start-stop riff of opener “As Fangs in Stone,” a mastering job by Mathias Schneeberger and the breadth of pop melodicism in cuts that one, the swinging “Made of Ghosts,” and the more percussive “Through the Sun,” Italian four-piece Them Bulls make a pretty strong beeline for early-Queens of the Stone Age-style heavy desert rock. Their self-titled Small Stone debut isn’t without individualized flourish, but the 10-track/41-minute offering makes it clear from the start what its intentions are and then sets about living up to them, whether on the careening Songs for the Deaf-ery of “Pot Gun” or the penultimate “We Must Live Up” itself. Vocal interplay from guitarists Daniele Pollio and Franscesco Pasi – joined by the rhythm section of bassist Paolo Baldini and drummer Giampaolo Farnedi – provides an opportunity for future growth, but it’s worth noting that for a band to take on such a specific stylization, their songwriting needs to be in check, and Them Bulls’ is.

Them Bulls on Thee Facebooks

Them Bulls at Small Stone Records

 

Stinkeye, Llantera Demos

stinkeye-llantera-demos

What seems to be Stinkeye’s debut recording, Llantera Demos, arrives as a free download of four tracks and 16 minutes rife with thickened boogie and dense mecha-stoner fuzz, reminding of Dead Meadow immediately in the echoing vocals and rhythmic bounce of “Orange Man” but moving into some shuffle on the subsequent “Fink Ployd” and “Llantera,” the latter a well-earned showcase of bass tone. While out on the coast, ‘70s vibes reign supreme, the Phoenix, Arizona, trio are on a different tip, looser in their swing and apparently more prone to drift. For what it’s worth, they call it “hash rock,” and fair enough as “Pink Clam,” which closes Llantera Demos, rides more of a grunge-laden nod to an immersive but still relatively quick five-minute finish, building after three minutes in to a satisfying final instrumental push. Loaded with potential in tone, execution, vibe and dynamic between the three-piece, Llantera Demos immediately marks Stinkeye out as a band to watch and is just begging for the right person to come along and press it to tape.

Stinkeye on Thee Facebooks

Stinkeye on Bandcamp

 

Buzzard Canyon, Hellfire and Whiskey

buzzard-canyon-hellfire-and-whiskey.jpg

Want to grab attention with your debut long-player? Calling a song “Louder than God” might be a good way to go. That track, at seven minutes, is the longest on Connecticut five-piece Buzzard Canyon’s Hellfire and Whiskey (on Salt of the Earth), and following a quiet initial stretch, it launches into Down-style Southern chug, the dual vocals of Amber Leigh and guitarist Aaron Lewis (the latter also of When the Deadbolt Breaks) veering into and out of more metallic impulses to build on the initial momentum established on the earlier “Highway Run” and “SomaBitch.” The two-minute “For the End” basks in some nightmarish vision of rockabilly, while “Red Beards Massacre” and “Wyoming” dig into more straightforward stylistic patterning, but if Buzzard Canyon want to get a little weird either here or going forward, that’s clearly not about to hurt them. Closer “Not My Cross” hints at some darker visions to come in how it moves into and out of a droning interlude, adding yet more intrigue to their deceptively multifaceted foundation.

Buzzard Canyon on Thee Facebooks

Salt of the Earth Records website

 

Motherbrain, Voodoo Nasty

motherbrain voodoo nasty

Though “Atomic Rodeo” dips into some Queens of the Stone Age-style groove, Motherbrain’s third album, Voodoo Nasty (on Setalight Records), comes across as more defined by its nasty than its voodoo as the Berlin four-piece demonstrate a penchant for incorporating harsher sludge tendencies, especially in vocal shouts peppered in amid the otherwise not-unfriendly proceedings. That gives the nine-song/48-minute offering a meaner edge but does little ultimately to take away from the groove on offer in the opening title-track or “Ghoul of Kolkata,” and though it retains its raw spirit, Voodoo Nasty digs into some more complex fare later in longer cuts like “Baptism of Fire” and “Half Past Human,” having found a place in centerpiece “Dismantling God” where blown-out noise aggression and semi-psychedelic swirl can coexist, if not peacefully then at least for a while until Motherbrain decide it’s time to give Kyuss-style desert rock another kick in its ass, as on “Sons of Kong,” which, yes, does proclaim a lineage.

Motherbrain on Thee Facebooks

Setalight Records website

 

Elder Druid, Magicka

elder druid magicka

Sludge-rolling five-piece Elder Druid riff forth with their debut studio offering, the five-song/33-minute Magicka EP, which one might be tempted to tag as a demo were it not for a few prior live-tracked short releases that appear to have served that purpose, the latest of which, The Attic Sessions (discussed here), came out in Jan. 2016. The experience of putting that together as well as their prior singles clearly benefited the Northern Irish outfit on Magicka, and while they retain a shouty spirit on opener “Rogue Mystic,” middle cut “The Warlock” offers nod that reminds of The Kings of Frog Island’s “Welcome to the Void,” and that’s about all I ever need. Ever. Served up with bloated tones and geared toward establishing a blend of gruff vocals and consuming fuzz, Elder Druid’s first studio recording has a solid footing in what it wants to accomplish sound-wise and plainly showcases that, and while they have some growing to do and patience to learn in their songcraft, nothing I hear on Magicka argues against their getting there in time.

Elder Druid on Thee Facebooks

Elder Druid on Bandcamp

 

The Crazy Left Experience, Bill’s 108th Space Odyssey

the-crazy-left-experience-bills-108th-space-odyssey

The Crazy Left Experience – the moniker seeming to refer to the side of the brain at work in their processes – present Bill’s 108th Space Odyssey almost as an album within an album. The framework from the at-least-party-improvised Portuguese cosmic jammers on the seven-track/56-minute outing centers around William Millarc, who in 1955 was documented while taking part in LSD experiments. Samples of Millarc are peppered into opener “Subject Bill,” the later “Funky Meteor Drop” and the closing duo “Bill Sided Flashback” and “God of the Outer Rings,” but between the opener and the latter trio of cuts comes “Unarius,” a three-part excursion listed as “Part V” through “Part VII” that presumably is the representation of when our friend Bill has left his body behind. So be it. One can hardly call that departure incongruous either sonically or in terms of The Crazy Left Experience’s chosen theme – though there are some unrelated samples spliced into “Unarius – Part VII (Space Brothers)” that are somewhat jarring – and the entire flow of the record is so hypnotic that the band can basically go wherever they want, which of course they do.

The Crazy Left Experience on Thee Facebooks

The Crazy Left Experience on Bandcamp

 

The Watchers, Sabbath Highway

the watchers sabbath highway

Were it not for the context of knowing that vocalist Tim Narducci and bassist Cornbread hail from SpiralArms and White Witch Canyon, drummer Carter Kennedy from Orchid and guitarist Jeremy Von Eppic from Black Gates, the Sabbath Highway debut EP (on Ripple Music) from California’s The Watchers would be almost impossibly coherent for a first outing. Classic in form but modern in its presentation, the five-tracker – four plus the church-organ interlude “Requiem” between the opening title-cut (video here) and “Call the Priest” – makes the most of Narducci’s ‘70s-style vocal push, reminding of one-time Ripple troupe Stone Axe in his oldschool feel, but as “Today” (premiered here) makes plain, The Watchers are much more focused on learning from the past than repeating it. The straightforward songwriting and all-we’re-here-to-do-is-kick-ass sentiment behind Sabbath Highway might well prove formative compared to what The Watchers do next – presumably that’s a full-length, but one never knows; they sound ready to get down to business  – but it makes its ambitions plain in its hooks and swiftly delivers on its promises.

The Watchers on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music website

 

Of the Horizon, Of the Horizon

of the horizon self-titled

I can’t speak to the present status of California’s Of the Horizon, since last I heard bassist Kayt Vigil was in Italy working with Sonic Wolves, but their self-titled five-track debut full-length arrives via Kozmik Artifactz no less switched on for the half-decade that has passed since it was recorded. Guitarist Mike Hanne howls out throaty incantations to suit the post-Sleep riffing of opener “3 Feet” and drummer Shig pushes the roll of “Caravan” forward into its final crashing slowdown effectively as Vigil ensures the subsequent centerpiece “Unknown” is duly thick beneath its spacious, jammy strum. The two longest slabs hit at the end in “Gladhander” (8:55) and the righteously lumbering “Hall of the Drunken King” (10:31) and feel somewhat like an album unto themselves, but when/if Of the Horizon make a return, they’ve established a working modus on this first full-length that should well satisfy the nod-converted and that demonstrates the timelessness of well-executed tonal onslaught.

Of the Horizon on Thee Facebooks

Of the Horizon at Kozmik Artifactz

 

Raj, Raj

raj self titled

Though it’s fair enough in terms of runtime, it almost seems like Milano sludge-rollers Raj (also written stylized in all-caps: RAJ) do the six tracks of their 20-minute self-titled debut EP a disservice by cramming them onto a single LP side. Not that one gets lost or the band fails to make an impression – far from it – but just that sounds so geared toward largesse and spaciousness beg for more room to flesh out. That, perhaps, is the interesting duality in Raj’s Raj, since even the massive plod of closer “Iron Matrix” lumbers through its course in a relatively short 4:45, never mind the speedier “Magic Wand” (2:47) or drone interlude “Black Mumbai” (1:51) – gone in a flash. The release moves through these, the earlier “Omegagame” and “Eurasia” and the penultimate “Kaluza” with marked fluidity and efficiency, giving Raj a mini-album feel, and with the atmosphere in “Black Mumbai” and in the surrounding material, their rumble sets up a dynamic that seems primed for further exploration.

Raj on Thee Facebooks

Raj on Bandcamp

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Crazy Left Experience Premiere “Subject Bill” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on November 4th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

the-crazy-left-experience-logo

“I feel as though I’m several other people, and all of them better.” — William Millarc

There are a couple crucial pieces of information you’ll want to have before you make your way into “Subject Bill,” the new video from Lisbon-based space-jammers The Crazy Left Experience taken from their debut album, Bill’s 108th Space Odyssey, which is out Nov. 18. First is who the “Bill” in question is. He’s painter William Millarc, who in 1955 took part in a controlled experiment on the effects of LSD on the brain overseen by Dr. Nicholas Bercel working for the pharmaceutical company Sandoz. Millarc‘s experience taking the drug was filmed and one can find that footage at the bottom of this post. It’s a 25-minute documentary including many soundbite gems including the one quoted above, which I thought kind of summed up the whole idea.

The Crazy Left Experience liberally incorporate samples from the documentary across the album’s expansive 56-minute course, including in “Subject Bill,” which opens the seven-tracker. This leads to a second piece of crucial information: Drift. “Subject Bill” is four minutes long and otherwise sans-vocals apart from the original documentary introduction and a clip from Millarc himself near the end, but the intention is to lead the listener into Bill’s 108th Space Odyssey, which begins to move even futher outward with “Unarius Part V (Uriel Cadillac)” and “Unarius Part VI (String Theory)” before delving into three extended tracks — “Unarius Part VII (Space Brothers),” “Funky Meteor Drop” and “Bill Sided Flashback” — each a departure in one way or another, and rounding out with the serene drones of “God of the Outer Rings.” So what you’re getting in “Subject Bill” is the beginning of a much larger process. It’s not really intended to stand alone, and on the album, it certainly doesn’t.

Nonetheless, it does draw the audience in with expanded-mind textures and a broadening reach, so as the launch point for that near-hour-long unfolding, the immersion of “Subject Bill” does represent some of the core appeal of Bill’s 108th Space Odyssey, and the video would seem to unfold from our protagonist’s direct point of view. The album is out Nov. 18 and follows a slew of shorter releases from The Crazy Left Experience, whose ambitions and sonic breadth come paired with natural tones and an unbridled sense of exploration fitting for the character around which they’ve opted to build their debut’s theme.

You’ll find “Subject Bill” below, followed by more info from the PR wire and the original documentary footage.

Please enjoy:

The Crazy Left Experience, “Subject Bill” official video

The Crazy Left Experience, “Bill’s 108th Space Odyssey”
Release date: November 18, 2016

“Bill’s 108th Space Odyssey” is a revamp of the existing complicity between The Crazy Left Experience members, and proof of how the power of intention and manifestation are not only possible but real.

Seven tracks of cosmic soundscapes, wherein the band gives wing to their own interpretations of the Rock universe and experimentalism. Spontaneity and improvisation; two ingredients that are always present in their tunes, enrich our senses.

Bill, the “subject”, may represent here the humanity conditioned by the forces of the system… So, like most of us!

A small dose of LSD is enough to catapult you through the galaxies to a more expansive, creative and spiritual place. It can be you, or a paradoxical version of yourself. Accompanied by melting guitar lines woven into a bed of bass and drums. It flows between intention and spontaneous outbursts of wild psychedelia. You will dive into a vast, deep, and mysterious sea of sound!

“Bill’s 108th Space Odyssey” is an invitation to old and new perceptions of psychedelic Rock. All you need to do is press PLAY, turn it up to ELEVEN… forget the seat belt, and rely on the powerful sound sights that The Crazy Left Experience’s experimental music has to offer.

With eyes open or closed, Bill’s trip is further evidence that psychedelic Rock is good for life!

Bill wants more, and so does The Crazy Left Experience too!

Bon Voyage!

Drums, Guitar: Rui Inácio
Guitar and Sound Effects: Luís Abrantes
Bass and Flute: Tiago Machado

LSD Experiment, “Schizophrenic Model Psychosis Induced by LSD 25”

The Crazy Left Experience on Thee Facebooks

The Crazy Left Experience on Bandcamp

Tags: , , , , ,

Miss Lava, Sonic Debris: Fangs of Venom

Posted in Reviews on May 11th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

miss lava sonic debris

It’s a pretty easy argument to make that Lisbon’s Miss Lava are Portugal’s biggest heavy rock band. Aside from commercial success in their home country, they’ve toured Europe multiple times over and while the national scene in Portugal is still growing compared to, say, Germany or Italy, it could do far worse than to have Miss Lava acting as spearhead. The four-piece made their debut in 2010 with Blues for the Dangerous Miles (review here) and premiered on respected purveyor Small Stone Records with 2013’s Red Supergiant, which they now follow-up with Sonic Debris, their third long-player, comprising 10 cleanly-recorded tracks for a 51-minute stretch that neither lets its variety stop it from rocking nor its rocking from offering varied modes of expression.

At its strongest, Sonic Debris is as much about atmosphere as its hooks, and the balance Miss Lava strike in songs like “The Silent Ghost of Doom,” “I’m the Asteroid” and the later, airier “Fangs of Venom” demonstrates patience and songwriting acumen in kind. Riffs, somewhat unsurprisingly, still lead the way, but Miss Lava have enough room here to really let their material branch out, and while “Symptomatic” and “In the Arms of the Freaks” are big on their choruses and “Fangs of Venom” winds up that way as well, there isn’t necessarily anything unipolar about Miss Lava‘s overarching approach, and taken front to back, their third album offers peaks and valleys of tempo, mood, etc., that make it that much richer on the whole. Still very much a rock record, but using that more as opportunity than limitation.

So what it comes down to is the lineup of vocalist Johnny Lee, guitarist K. Raffah, bassist Ricardo Ferreira and drummer J. Garcia (no relation) have constructed an outing that’s nowhere near as haphazard as the title Sonic Debris might lead one to believe. Produced by the band with Fernando Matias and engineered by Matias, José Pedro Ataíde and Ricardo Bravo, it also benefits from a Benny Grotto mix at Mad Oak Studios and a mastering job by Chris Goosman at Baseline Audio Labs, resulting in a clear, worked-on, big sound, whether that’s in the slower-paced spaciousness of opener “Another Beast is Born” or the post-rant rush of “The Silent Ghost of Doom,” which, when taken in combination with the subsequent “I’m the Asteroid,” make for an initial salvo that says a lot about the ground that what follows will cover.

miss lava

“I’m the Asteroid” is the longest track on Sonic Debris at 7:25, and it uses that time well to blend catchiness and atmosphere fluidly in a manner that — and I know I’ve said this before — reminds of Miss Lava‘s French labelmates in Abrahma, but they continue to change things up with the quick acoustic-strum-and-effects-swirl of “In a Sonic Fire We Shall Burn,” the vocals far back and echoing as they ease their way through toward the drum start to the nodding “At the End of the Light,” which would seem to be a complement to the opener in its riff, but offers an even more satisfying melody. Either way, it’s a departure point from which side B takes off toward its own purposes, so as marking the end of a movement on the record, it fits in multiple roles effectively.

From its beginning, it seems like “In the Arms of the Freaks” is going to be a moment of pure Fu Manchuism, but Miss Lava wind up on their own riffy trip, with a Euro-festival-ready hook that, if it doesn’t wind up in a video at some point during this album cycle, it’ll be a genuine surprise. Both it and the following “Symptomatic” bear out the side of the band that “The Silent Ghost of Doom” put forth — more straightforward in structure but of crisp and largely undeniable execution. Particularly in the stomp of the latter, Miss Lava dig into classic-style stoner rock that they’ll again tip toward with the desert-hued closer “Planet Darkness.”

Between, “Fangs of Venom” and “Pilgrims of Decay” once again move into more studied, atmospheric fare, the former working a subtle build as it moves through headed toward solid ground that emerges in the second half as a fitting payoff, and the latter effectively bringing together its hook, vocal melody and guitar-led crunch for a late-album highlight. That these songs find common ground with “In the Arms of the Freaks” and “Symptomatic” as well as “Planet Darkness” at the record’s finish should say something about how Miss Lava came to earn their rather considerable reputation, but three LPs in, it isn’t really a surprise to find them having long since hammered out the rough edges of their style. Built on a foundation of diverse songwriting, Sonic Debris may be culled together from a variety of influences, but the result of that process is anything but a throwaway.

Miss Lava, Sonic Debris (2016)

Miss Lava on Thee Facebooks

Sonic Debris at Small Stone’s Bandcamp

Small Stone Records

Tags: , , , , ,

Miss Lava Post “The Silent Ghost of Doom” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 28th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

miss lava

I’m not entirely sure what Miss Lava are railing against in the start of their new single — the general state of culture, maybe; people staring at their tvs and phones instead of rocking out — but I won’t question the Lisbon outfit’s conviction. They’re gearing up to issue their new album, Sonic Debris, as the follow-up to 2013’s Red Supergiant, via ultra-respected purveyor Small Stone Records, and if nothing else, “The Silent Ghost of Doom” is definitely working against any sense of apathy the band might perceive in this age of bought-and-sold wonders. Clocking in at an efficient 4:20, it’s a kick in the ass run from front to back, its initial rant building into a careening heavy rock riff met with a catchy hook that only pushes the momentum further forward.

Sonic Debris is out May 20, and “The Silent Ghost of Doom” is the second track to be featured from it behind the grander opening salvo “Another Beast is Born” (posted here), and as it’s also the second track on the record itself, it shows the kind of one-two punch with which Miss Lava are starting their latest outing, shifting from a larger-sounding roll and melody into the rush of “The Silent Ghost of Doom.” One doubts that’s the entirety of the scope of the album, but as the already-noted intro of “The Silent Ghost of Doom” (performed in a guest spot by Rui Guerra) demonstrates, the band are clearly given to offering a surprise or two along the way. For what it’s worth, neither of the two cuts that have made their way to the public so far has stopped me from wanting to hear more of the album.

Hopefully you feel the same. PR wire info follows “The Silent Ghost of Doom” below.

Enjoy:

Miss Lava, “The Silent Ghost of Doom” official video

Portugal’s volume merchants, MISS LAVA, will drop the deliciously riff raging sounds of their Sonic Debris full-length via Small Stone Recordings next month.

As a precursor to its release comes the visual accompaniment to “The Silent Ghost Of Doom.” The second single from Sonic Debris, “The Silent Ghost Of Doom” clip was directed by Bruno Simões with direction of photography by Mr. Ivo Cordeiro (the team behind MISS LAVA’s “Black Rainbow” video). “To shoot this video, we went to Lisbon’s old athenaeum — the Ateneu Comercial de Lisboa,” elaborates drummer, J. Garcia. “The historic scenery set the right vibe for the song.”

“This is a loud one that shouts about freeing yourself from tedium, apathy and past time glories,” adds vocalist Johnny Lee. “The broken mirror sights the silent ghost of doom.”

Sonic Debris will be released May 20th and come available on CD and 180-gram light blue vinyl limited to 500 units. For preorders go to THIS LOCATION where you’ll also hear a stream of opening track “Another Beast Is Born.”

Miss Lava on Thee Facebooks

Miss Lava at Small Stone Records

Small Stone on Thee Facebooks

Tags: , , , , ,

Miss Lava Release Sonic Debris May 20

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 22nd, 2016 by JJ Koczan

An overarching atmospheric sensibility and spacious mix would seem to find Portugal’s Miss Lava exploring some similar textures as their France-based labelmates in Abrahma on their upcoming third album, Sonic Debris, at least if opening cut “Another Beast is Born” is anything to go by, but there’s still an undercurrent of that straightforward Eurostoner vibe persistent as well. That’s been there since the days of their 2009 debut, Blues for the Dangerous Miles (review here), and held true for 2013’s Red Supergiant as well, though it was arguably that record that began to expand the band’s approach.

In any case, Sonic Debris is out May 20 on Small Stone. Preorders are up now through the label’s Bandcamp, and you can stream “Another Beast is Born” under the PR wire info below:

miss lava sonic debris

MISS LAVA: Lisbon Volume Dealers To Release Sonic Debris This May Via Small Stone; New Track Streaming + Preorders Available

Portugal’s foremost heavy rock ‘n’ rollers MISS LAVA return in 2016 with Sonic Debris, their third album, set to launch on May 20th, 2016 worldwide through Small Stone Records.

Sonic Debris witnesses the band exploring new auditory landscapes and an open and inclusive creative process. Throughout, they design explosive sound textures, get high on psychedelic asteroids, and unleash obscure beasts. The album is a true sound voyage with a diversity beyond anything yet evidenced by the band. Sonic Debris was recorded at Pentagon Audio Manufacturers, JDB Showroom and Estúdio Crossover in Lisbon at various times throughout 2014 and 2015, was produced by Fernando Matias and MISS LAVA, engineered by Matias, José Pedro Ataíde and Ricardo Bravo, mixed by Benny Grotto at Mad Oak Studios in Boston, Massachusetts, and mastered by Chris Goosman at Baseline Audio Labs in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Sonic Debris follows 2013’s Red Supergiant, 2009’s Blues For The Dangerous Miles, and 2008’s limited edition, self-titled EP.

“With this album we left the door of our spacecraft wide open… this is a trippy ride with lots of headbanging going on,” comments guitarist K. Raffah. “We feel this is our best journey so far,” adds vocalist Johnny Lee. “It explores a sonic galaxy somewhere between Monster Magnet’s Dopes To Infinity and Corrosion Of Conformity’s Deliverance.”

Sonic Debris will be available on CD and 180-gram light blue vinyl limited to 500 units. For preorders go to THIS LOCATION where you’ll also hear a stream of opening track “Another Beast Is Born.”

Sonic Debris Track Listing:
1. Another Beast Is Born
2. The Silent Ghost Of Doom
3. I’m The Asteroid
4. In A Sonic We Shall Burn
5. At The End Of The Light
6. In The Arms Of The Freaks
7. Symptomatic
8. Fangs Of Venom
9. Pilgrims Of Decay
10. Planet Darkness

https://www.facebook.com/MissLavaOfficial/
http://smallstone.bandcamp.com/album/sonic-debris
http://www.smallstone.com
http://www.facebook.com/smallstonerecords

Miss Lava, “Another Beast is Born”

Tags: , , , , ,

The Rising Sun Experience’s Beyond the Oblivious Abyss Now Available

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 8th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

The second album from Portuguese six-piece The Rising Sun Experience, Beyond the Oblivious Abyss, hits with a surprisingly progressive take. Where one might expect standard stonerly chugga-chugga and familiar if well-crafted fuzz tones, the cumbersomely-titled full-length basks in an array of influences and is quick to show off shades of funk, psychedelic, prog, folk and classic heavy rock, bolstered by organs and keys and percussion complementing guitars and relying on a rich sense of melody to tie dynamic songs together. Professionally produced and with a sound that’s as full and crisp as it is varied, it’s a pleasant surprise to say the least. The band has undergone some lineup shifts since 2009’s Under the Same Sun debut, but it hardly seems to have held them back.

Official word of the release came down the PR wire yesterday, but I’m basically posting it here as an excuse to feature the Bandcamp stream below that, so don’t miss it:

THE RISING SUN EXPERIENCE New album “Beyond the Oblivious Abyss”…Out NOW!!!

MONSTER ROCK BOOKING proudly announces the release of “Beyond the Oblivious Abyss“, the new album by the band THE RISING SUN EXPERIENCE.

The journey continues with “Beyond the Oblivious Abyss”, the new album from an unusual and exciting band that captures the spirit of the 70’s experimentation and psychedelia and the “Woodstockian” atmosphere of the 60’s, a melting pot of cultural and artistic influences coming together as a musical force oblivious to the chaos and misdirection of today’s music industry.

The name The Rising Sun Experience was chosen in homage to the guitar player Jimi Hendrix, for his important musical influence in countless funk and rock bands.

Tiago Jónatas ( sound engineer and a multifaceted musician ) and Alexandre Lopes (an old-time hardcore-rocker guitar player ) had already performed together in other musical projects and bands like New Winds, in which they were responsible for music composition, recording and mixing of the album “A Spirit Filled Revolution” edited and launched in 2004 by the Polish recording label Refuse Records.

http://therisingsunexperience.bandcamp.com/album/beyond-the-oblivious-abyss
https://www.facebook.com/therisingsunexperience

The Rising Sun Experience, Beyond the Oblivious Abyss (2013)

Tags: , , , , ,

Miss Lava Ooze the Blues

Posted in Reviews on May 26th, 2010 by JJ Koczan

Lisbon, Portugal’s Miss Lava are the kind of stoner rock band that could only survive in Europe. They ooze with a blatant and un-contradictory stoner rock commercialism that’s completely antithetical to the American scene, and like a lot of European bands of their ilk – Spiritual Beggars comes to mind as a primary comparison point – they make it work. They play dirty, sweaty rock and roll, but they do it with clean, crisp production and tight pop songwriting. When US bands try this stuff, it either doesn’t work or turns into douche rock, which isn’t good for anyone involved.

On Miss Lava’s full-length debut, the perhaps referentially-titled Blues for the Dangerous Miles (Raging Planet), the four-piece present 11 tracks mostly in the three and a half to five minute range, centered around solid structures of verses, choruses and so forth. The riffing of guitarist K. Raffah is central to the songs, but I wouldn’t call Blues for the Dangerous Miles guitar-led. Bassist Samuel Rebelo, drummer J. Garcia and vocalist Johnny Lee know where they’re supposed to be at any given time, so it’s not like the guitars need to start the song and everyone picks up from there. Miss Lava are tighter than that. They’ve worked out those kinks.

Most of the recording was done by Rebelo, or at least involved him in some way (apart from the vocals), and Miss Lava sent the record to metal titan Jens Bogren (Opeth, Amon Amarth, Katatonia, etc.) at Fascination Street Studios for mixing and mastering. You can hear some of that modern metal sheen in Raffah’s guitar on cuts like “Blind Dog” or the opener “Don’t Tell a Soul,” but in the context of the band’s approach, it works. Ditto for Lee’s vocals, which make tracks like “Shine On” and the slower “The Wait” highlights of Blues for the Dangerous Miles, but would probably be grating in another band situation. In Miss Lava, they seem to swagger just right; their multiple-layer arrangements only adding to the pop sensibilities of the band.

Read more »

Tags: , , ,