Mars Red Sky, The Task Eternal: On Proving Grounds

Posted in Reviews on September 20th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

mars red sky the task eternal

The approach of Bordeaux, France’s Mars Red Sky continues to grow richer on their fourth long-player, The Task Eternal. Also their third outing for Listenable Records, it comprises an eight-track/49-minute run that digs into many of what have become the trio’s signature elements — fragile melodies, tonal heft, nod and march, etc. — while playing toward a wider atmospheric breadth than even 2016’s Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul) (review here) could offer. As ever, the new album was led into by an EP, in this case the short self-release Collector (discussed here) earlier this year, and what was the title-track there shows up early here as well, following opener and longest cut (immediate points) “The Proving Grounds” on side A. Whatever patterns it has followed along the way, Mars Red Sky‘s progression has been steady from release to release, with perhaps the most major jump being from the sweet melodies and hooky bounce of their 2011 self-titled debut (review here) to the second album, 2014’s Stranded in Arcadia (review here), which even with a 2012 split with Year of No Light (discussed here) and 2013’s Be My Guide EP (review here) between them was the point when the band signaled the proggier intent that their subsequent outings have allowed to flourish in their songwriting.

Notable that it was around that same time that the lineup solidified with Matieu “Matgaz” Gazeau on drums alongside founding guitarist/vocalist Julien Pras and bassist/sometimes vocalist Jimmy Kinast, since as they moved through Stranded in Arcadia, 2016’s Providence EP (review here), Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul), 2017’s Myramyd EP (discussed here) and Collector — touring all the while — their chemistry has only become more palpable. That rings true throughout The Task Eternal as well as the band provides their listenership with much to dig into in laid back tempos, some surprisingly aggro lyrics on “The Proving Grounds” and an expansive vision of heavy psychedelia that sees them toying with even their own conventions of songcraft as the paired tracks “Recast” and “Reacts” play one into the next with the latter using the former as a launch point for a plotted instrumental jam that winds up longer than the song that birthed it.

Largesse of tone is nothing new for Mars Red Sky, and as ever, they bring a warmth to the guitar and bass that is engaging to the point of hypnosis as the opener shifts from its initial roll into a section of shimmering guitar-led drift as it oozes into the second half. The stop and return of the marching bassline is sudden and wants to be, but Pras tops it with obscure vocal lines that become part of the melodic wash and the effect is gorgeous as “The Proving Grounds” — you might recall Apex III began with the intro “Alien Grounds,” so clearly the band are conscious of their starting points — fades to silence ahead of the rumble at the outset of “Collector.” At 4:13, “Collector” is shorter even than the closing acoustic outro “A Far Cry” — the band essentially swapping the method of putting the longest track last and the lead-in track first; it works much to the album’s advantage — and something of a return to earth structurally after the relative sprawl of “The Proving Grounds,” still working in deeply mixed layers but doing so around a central chorus and never departing too far from it. That ends up all the more appreciable as “Recast” begins with a quiet sway ahead of unveiling its howling wah over the slow, graceful movement that is unfurled.

mars red sky

Subtle angularity and subtler speed in the riff adds presence and urgency to the verse, but the overarching vibe is still soothing as “Recast” heads in linear fashion toward its chugging crescendo — Gazeau giving nods toward extreme metal in the drums — before the same riff returns at the start of “Reacts,” and becomes the foundation on which that instrumental exploration is built. It’s fitting that “Reacts” should be so utterly entrancing, as it’s tucked at the end of side A, but as it lumbers toward and through its halfway point, it pulls back on the residual energy leftover from “Recast” and instead moves into a sleepy roll, which Pras eventually meets with a solo followed by a section of ethereal vocals (thinking at 5:00, or maybe I’m just hearing things) that quiets down again and rebuilds, ending with a short section of noise as the first half of the album is complete.

One has to consider the possibility that The Task Eternal, the title itself, is referring to the ongoing evolution of the band, and that the task in question is their process of chasing down whatever vision of sound they’re ultimately trying to represent at any given time. A roving target, perhaps. It seems only fair, then, that they’d put “Soldier On” before “A Far Cry” at the album’s conclusion, but before they get there, “Crazy Hearth” and “Hollow King” give something of an effect like “Collector” in their relative return to ground after the float of “Reacts.” Sure, “Hollow King” has plenty of spread in the guitar of its second half and sweeping final chorus, but that comes complemented with a solidified rhythm and that chorus stands among the most memorable throughout The Task Eternal. Particularly following “Crazy Hearth,” it’s a chance for Mars Red Sky to emphasize their well-honed ability to create spaciousness within set sonic and structural ideas.

They reserve a final showcase of swing for “Soldier On,” which also featured on Collector in two versions, and shift into the second half with a quiet stretch before reviving the shove onward toward the last chorus and delivery of the title lines, a theme of persistence emerging between “Soldier On” and “The Proving Grounds” upon which “A Far Cry” allows a moment to reflect with its acoustic and electric lines and emergent effects, smoothly building to a wash so that even after most of it cuts out, there’s still enough left to carry The Task Eternal to its serene conclusion. From the intricacy of its layers to the nuance in how it’s actually put together in terms of where the tracks are and how they play off each other, Mars Red Sky‘s latest is a triumph in what’s becoming a tradition thereof. As they resume the chase next time, it may only be another step along the way, but as only a mature band can, Mars Red Sky know their strengths and how to bring them to light in ways that are as exciting as they are individualized. I’ll readily admit to being a fan, but simply put, they are something special. If you don’t hear that in The Task Eternal, it’s your loss.

Mars Red Sky, The Task Eternal (2019)

Mars Red Sky on Thee Facebooks

Mars Red Sky website

Listenable Records website

Listenable Records on Thee Facebooks

Tags: , , , , ,

Mars Red Sky Post “The Proving Grounds” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 29th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

mars red sky (Photo by Rod Maurice)

Today is Thursday. This past Monday, I posted a streaming interview with Mars Red Sky wherein among the subjects covered was the castle in the south of their native France in which the band wrote and recorded for their new album, The Task Eternal, set to release Sept. 27 through Listenable Records. Their new video for “The Proving Grounds,” the expansive opening track of that record, was filmed in presumably around that same space, as we can see the band in the kind of parlor room from whence prior album updates were made, lit by spotlights intended to evoke almost a fireplace kind of feel, playing up a sense of organic surroundings, rock walls, open fields, and so on. There is a character who makes his way to the roof of the structure and sends up a flare, attracting the attention of an awesome disco-ball of a spaceship, which would seem to beam him aboard as the song reaches its melodic wash of a culmination. To call it apropos of how the track itself leads into the rest of The Task Eternal would be underselling it.

One thing I didn’t realize about “The Proving Grounds” until seeing the lyrics printed on the YouTube page with the video itself was the defiant stance of the hook. To wit, “We’ll prove you wrong/And carry on/We’ll carry on/You’re going down now/We’ll prove you wrong/And carry on/On proving grounds/You’re going down.” Those are hardcore lyrics! Mars Red Sky sound like they’re looking for a fight. It’s a somewhat unexpected perspective of confrontationalism from the Bordeaux trio, but still carried across in their trademark melodic heavy psychedelic and progressive fashion. I guess once you’re dug into that vibe, you can do with it as you will, but the edge is still something new from them. I have to wonder what the song is actually about specifically, if there’s one thing to which it’s responding or more of a general statement of purpose pitched in this manner. Too bad the interview already happened.

Still about a month away from the release of this one, but I’m comfortable just the same calling The Task Eternal one of the year’s best records, so if you do the preorder thing, I can only advise it, though that’s pretty much been my stance on these guys all along. Points for consistency.

Enjoy the clip:

Mars Red Sky, “The Proving Grounds” official video

Tidal waves of wounded egos
Crashed in unison
Spreading coast to coast
Now the season has begun

‘The Proving Grounds’ video was shot in the castle of Monteton (FR) and directed by Seb Antoine. The track is taken off our new album “The Task Eternal”, due out September 27 on Listenable Records.

Directed By Seb Antoine
Starring Grégory Dreyfus
Lights: Geoffrey Torres
Visual Effects : Original Cosmic – Romain Marchetti
Filmed In Monteton Castle – Thanks to the local crew
Special Thanks to Manu Feramus, Mathieu Disson, Jean Godet & Pierre-Gérard David.

Recorded and mixed by Benjamin Mandeau at Cryogene Studio, mastered by Pierre Etchandy.

‘The Proving Grounds’ is where Michael Connelly’s character Mickey Haller makes his case before “The Gods Of Guilt”. In this song we are alternately the jury and the accused. Hence the temptation of reaching out to the skies, board a spacecraft and take off, or travel in time to fix what can be fixed.

Mars Red Sky on Thee Facebooks

Mars Red Sky website

Listenable Records website

Listenable Records on Thee Facebooks

Tags: , , , , ,

Streaming: Interview with Julien Pras & Jimmy Kinast of Mars Red Sky

Posted in audiObelisk, Features on August 26th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

mars red sky

On Sept. 27, the fourth full-length from Mars Red Sky, titled The Task Eternal, will be released through Listenable Records. The label has been their home since their second long-player, 2014’s Stranded in Arcadia (review here), which followed their 2011 self-titled debut (review here) and set the band on a road of progression that The Task Eternal seems only to continue. In answering back the expansive forward steps of 2016’s Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul) (review here), the new album retains the Bordeaux-based trio’s penchant for songwriting that’s been so central to their purposes since the start, while drifting even further into otherworldly and psychedelic expanses. It is a colorful swirl throughout The Task Eternal, and I won’t tell you how to listen to it, but as much fun as it might be to get lost in the experience, there’s a good chance you’ll retain more than you think afterward, whether that’s from the fading lines of opener “The Proving Grounds” or the hooks of tracks like the marching “Hollow King” or “Collector.”

The latter also serves as the title-track of a newly issued EP intended as a lead-in for the LP to come. Collector bundles two versions of itself with two versions of “Soldier On,” also the penultimate cut on The Task Eternal, including a demo with mars red sky the task eternalguitarist/vocalist Julien Pras as a multi-instrumentalist, and a guest appearance from Igor Sidorenko of Stoned Jesus, the album versions, etc. It’s a welcome piece perhaps aimed at the people who might fit the description of its title, but most importantly, it introduces the listener to the atmosphere that The Task Eternal broadens in songs like “Recast” and “Reacts,” “Crazy Hearth” and even the instrumental closer “A Far Cry,” which, when it’s done, just might be where you feel like you are in relation to from where you started. All told, the album is 49 minutes across eight songs that is unmistakably the work of Mars Red Sky — Pras, bassist/vocalist Jimmy Kinast, drummer Matieu “Matgaz” Gazeau — and yet works to further the reach of that very definition. Like what’s come before it, it is the output of a constantly-refining creative unfolding.

At some point before the release date, I’ll put up a review, which I guess will probably just say that in wordier fashion, but among the topics I wanted to discuss with Pras and Kinast in this interview was the notion of The Task Eternal being the band’s creativity itself: that constant hunt for an ideal vision that’s a moving target from release to release as the band develops. In addition to that, the fact of Mars Red Sky‘s heavy touring and upcoming Fall European run (including shows with Kadavar) had me wondering if they might make it back to the US anytime soon — you might recall they were here in 2016 to play Psycho Las Vegas and made a stop at The Obelisk All-Dayer in Brooklyn beforehand (video here). They let it drop that they’ve got some stuff in the works, and indeed talked about the process of working with a different recording engineer each time out in an effort to capture different sounds, and how the change itself is a part of chasing that ideal. We also spent a good amount of time talking about the castle where they jammed, finished writing and started recording The Task Eternal, which, really, had to be done, when you think about it.

Interview follows here on the player below.

Enjoy:

Interview with Julien Pras & Jimmy Kinast

 

Mars Red Sky on Thee Facebooks

Mars Red Sky website

Listenable Records website

Listenable Records on Thee Facebooks

Tags: , , , , ,

Zaum Announce European Tour with Dopelord

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 17th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

zaum (Photo by Pierre Morin)

Zaum and Dopelord, huh? That’s a pretty good show. The latter Polish outfit were recently also added to the lineup for Desertfest Belgium, but given that that’s about two weeks before this tour kicks off, it seems unlikely Zaum will make the trip over from Canada for that. Still, as the duo/trio go supporting this year’s Divination (review here), they indeed head abroad on the heels of their best work yet, having honed their mantra-doom style to a fine point of execution without giving up the contemplative feel and repetitiveness that’s proven so essential to the aesthetic. I’ve never seen them live, and that’s something I’d like to correct at the next available opportunity. That won’t be this tour, unless somebody magically comes through with a plane ticket, but one of these days, I’ll get there.

The PR wire brought dates for your perusal. So peruse:

zaum dopelord tour

ZAUM: Psychedelic Doom Conjurors Announce European Tour With Dopelord; Divination Full-Length Out Now Via Listenable Records

Canada’s favorite psychedelic doom conjurors ZAUM will join Poland stoner/doom troupe Dopelord for a European journey this fall. The Northern Trails Tour will commence on October 31st in Copenhagen, Denmark and run through November 10th in Berlin, Germany.

Comments ZAUM vocalist/bassist Kyle Alexander of the trek, “We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to share a tour of one of our favorite regions in the world with our Polish brothers in Dopelord. This will actually be the first time people in North/Western Europe will witness our live visual experience component with Nawal Doucette performing her ‘Evil Queen’ rituals in addition to customized backing visuals for the ideal ZAUM experience. We recently showcased this for the first time in Eastern Europe just prior to the release of our new record Divination and the feedback was truly overwhelming and quite unexpected. I think the visual experience adds more context to the world of ZAUM we’ve created and I think people can often witness something a little different than what they’re used to seeing at the average concert.” See all confirmed dates below.

Divination was released in May via Listenable Records. While ZAUM’s meditative “mantra doom” stays quite true to what fans have experienced to date, their songcraft and presentation has progressed further with the inclusion of recorded instrumentation such as jaw harp, digideroo, singing saw, dilruba, saz, brass bells, brass bowl, and finger cymbals. In addition, their live experience now features Nawal Doucette performing her mesmerizing dark dance rituals entrancing all those who observe.

Divination is available on CD, LP, and digital formats. For physical orders visit the Listenable Shop at THIS LOCATION. For digital orders visit the Listenable Bandcamp page HERE where the record can be streamed in full. The record is also available as a limited-edition cassette only available through the ZAUM Bandcamp page HERE.

ZAUM w/ Dopelord:
10/31/2019 BETA – Copenhagen, DK
11/01/2019 Blitz – Oslo, NO
11/02/2019 Hulen – Bergen, NO
11/03/2019 Folken – Stavanger, NO
11/05/2019 Plan B – Malmo, SE
11/06/2019 Nalen – Stockholm, SE
11/07/2019 Hängmatten – Goteborg, SE
11/08/2019 Metal Fest – Aalborg, DK
11/09/2019 Haftenklang – Hamburg, DE
11/10/2019 Zukunft am Ostkreuz – Berlin, DE

ZAUM:
Kyle Alexander McDonald – vocals, bass, textures
Christopher Lewis – drums, percussion
Nawal Doucette – visual performance art, ambiance

https://www.facebook.com/zaumn/
https://www.instagram.com/zaumdoom/
https://zaum.bandcamp.com/
http://www.listenable.net
http://www.facebook.com/listenablerecs

Tags: , , , , ,

Mars Red Sky Premiere “Collector” Video; EP out June 19

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 14th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

mars red sky (Photo by Rod Maurice)

Welcome to the next era of Mars Red Sky. With the coming release of the Collector EP, which will have a limited cassette pressing of 300 copies available at Hellfest on June 19 — and hopefully on the interwebs afterwards if there are leftovers — the Bordeaux, France, heavy psych rock three-piece begin the march toward their fourth album, The Task Eternal. That full-length will be out Sept. 27 on Listenable Records, and a preview EP is standard practice for Mars Red Sky going back to 2013’s Be My Guide EP (review here) which followed their 2011 self-titled debut (review here) and preceded 2014’s Stranded in Arcadia (review here). Likewise, before they issued Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul) (review here) in 2016, they offered up the Providence EP (review here), and if you want to go all the way back, they had a 7″ single out before the first record as well. So yes, bouncing between shorter and longer offerings is very much in-character for Mars Red Sky.

Today marks the premiere of “Collector,” the title-track and single from the EP, and the video below, and it finds the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Julien Pras, bassist/sometimes vocalist Jimmy Kinast and drummer Matieu “Matgaz” Gazeau locked as ever into an irresistible rolling groove, filled out as much through low-end tonality in the guitar and bass as by Pras‘ echoing, floating melodic vocals over top. This dichotomy has been at the heart of Mars Red Sky since their outset — it’s essential to what they mars red sky collectordo — but over time they’ve grown more complex as well, as the 2017 17-minute instrumental single Myramid (discussed here) demonstrated and as one can hear in a fluid thread of progression across all their releases. At just over four minutes long, “Collector” itself is of a more straight-ahead verse/chorus style, but even in its depth of melody and the feeling of space conjured by the recording, one can hear Mars Red Sky moving past even the accomplishments of their last LP and toward those of The Task Eternal.

On the EP, “Collector” appears twice — the other version featuring a solo from Stoned Jesus‘ Igor Sidorenko — and comes complemented on each side by “Soldier On,” a longer and more lumbering cut with an expansive hook and a hypnotic break in its midsection held together by Gazeau on drums as the guitar builds dramatically back toward the plodding verse and the even-bigger-sounding finish. It is hard to know ultimately how much the material on Collector — the second version of “Soldier On” is a demo — will represent what’s to come on The Task Eternal. With ProvidenceMars Red Sky essentially set the atmosphere of Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul). That may be what’s happening again, or it could be something else entirely. The story at this point is just starting to be told.

You can see the premiere of the “Collector” video below, with live footage of the band spliced in with archival clips of people playing some kind of competitive frisbee game and a surprising amount of American iconography, culminating in a kind of cannon shooting out hamburgers, hot dogs, baseballs, televisions and cars. Fair enough for a song about someone collecting souls — my country rarely comes into unearned criticism — but one has to wonder as well if Mars Red Sky are taking a more direct and socially-conscious stance going into the LP. Or it could just be a one-off. Again, won’t know till we get there. But it’s fun to speculate.

Video is by Sebastien Antoine with live footage from Paris filmed by Rod Maurice. The music was recorded and mixed by Benjamin Mandeau at Studio Cryogene in Bègles, France, just south of Bordeaux proper and on the banks of the River Garonne, and mastered by Pierre Etchandy.

PR wire info, comment from the band and copious tour dates follow.

Enjoy:

Mars Red Sky, “Collector” official video premiere

French heavy psychedelic masters MARS RED SKY release their new digital single entitled ‘Collector’ today! The song is taken from their upcoming fourth album ‘The Task Eternal’, due for release this year on September 27th on Listenable Records.

The band comments: “Collector is quite a straightforward track that may recall the ‘Mindreader’ vibe from our previous album ‘Apex III (Praise for the burning soul)’ in its structure and delivery. Lyrics deal with a soul collector, an evil being who announces his return to the city with the intention of terrorizing the population.”

The single is taken from new album ‘The Task Eternal’ due out September 27th on Listenable Records. The limited edition ‘Collector’ cassette EP will also present an exclusive version of the song with Stoned Jesus frontman Igor Sydorenko on guitar solo, as well as two special renditions of ‘Soldier On’ (also appearing on the album). With a total of four tracks, the ‘Collector’ EP is a perfect taster and yet another highly collectible item for any MARS RED SKY fan.

Available from June 19th, the ‘Collector’ cassette EP will be limited to 300 copies and exclusively available from MRS Red Sound web store, Listenable booth at Hellfest Metal Market and on all upcoming shows. It will also see a digital release via Mars Red Sky’s Bandcamp and Mad Reed Studio Bandcamp.

New single Collector available on all streaming platforms now

https://ampl.ink/W45Qk

https://marsredsky.bandcamp.com/

Limited edition cassette EP available June 19th via MRS Red Sound

https://marsredsky.bigcartel.com/product/ep-cassette-collector

TRACK LISTING:
Side A
1. Collector
2. Soldier On #A
Side B
1. Collector (feat. Igor Sydorenko)
2. Soldier On (demo version)

All tracks on the EP were recorded and mixed by Benjamin Mandeau at Cryogene Studio, except for “Soldier On (Demo)” which was performed, recorded and mixed by Julien Pras at Mad Reed Studio. Artwork designed by Carlos Olmo.
MARS RED SKY also announce a series of live shows in support of new album ‘The Task Eternal’, to be continued in 2020 and beyond:

08.06.19 MONTAIGU (FR) Crumble Fest
15.06.19 PORT SAINT LOUIS DU RHONE (13) Camargue Sessions
18.07.19 BILBAO (SP) Kafe Antzokia
19.07.19 BRAGA (PT) Rodellus Festival
03.08.19 CHEVANCEAUX (17) Laryrock
10.08.19 BAGNES (CH) Rocklette Palp festival
16.08.19 SAINT-NOLFF (FR) Motocultor Festival
27.09.19 ANGOULEME (FR) La Nef
11.10.10 BELFORT (FR) La Poudrière
12.10.19 STRASBOURG (FR) La Laiterie
17.10.19 SAINT BRIEUC (FR) Carnavalorock
25.10.19 VENDOME (FR) Les Rockomotives
26.10.19 GRENOBLE (FR) L’Ampérage
27.10.19 MONTHEY (CH) Pont Rouge
29.10.19 ZÜRICH (CH) Rote Fabrik
30.10.19 BRUSSEL (BE) Les Halles
31.10.19 DIKSMUIDE (BE) 4AD
01.11.19 COLOGNE (DE) Helios 37
02.11.19 AMSTERDAM (NL) Melkweg
03.11.19 WIESBADEN (DE) Schlachthof
04.11.19 MUNICH (DE) Feierwerk
05.11.19 VIENNA (AT) Arena
06.11.19 LEIPZIG (DE) Werk2
07.11.19 BERLIN (DE) Cassiopeia
08.11.19 HAMBURG (DE) Hafenklang
09.11.19 KRAKOW (PL) Soulstone Gathering
20.11.19 CLERMONT-FERRAND (FR) La Coopérative de Mai
14.12.19 MONTPELLIER (FR) Black Sheep
04.03.20 PARIS (FR) La Maroquinerie
05.03.20 TOURS (FR) Le Temps Machine
06.03.20 TOULOUSE (FR) Le Metronum
13.03.20 DIJON (FR) La Vapeur
14.03.20 ORLEANS (FR) L’Astrolabe
28.03.20 GERARDMER (FR) Maison de la Culture

Mars Red Sky on Thee Facebooks

Mars Red Sky website

Listenable Records website

Listenable Records on Thee Facebooks

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Mars Red Sky to Tour Europe This Fall Supporting The Task Eternal

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 6th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

MARS RED SKY

Last time they checked in Bordeaux, France, heavy psych exports Mars Red Sky were announcing the Sept. 27 release of their fourth album, The Task Eternal. That was over a month ago and it’s been pretty quiet from them since then, at least as far as the PR wire is concerned, but in addition to a few dates this month, the three-piece have newly unveiled tour plans for this Fall that will find them back on the road throughout October and into November following the album’s release.

They were due to unveil a new song at the end of last month, and an EP, Collector, was said to be coming June 14 through their own Mars Red Sound imprint. I’d imagine that’s still the case, though I haven’t seen any further word on that either since the initial press release.

Still, Sound of Liberation posted the tour dates thusly:

mars red sky tour

To promote their upcoming album “The Task Eternal” (which will be released via Listenable Records on September 27th), Mars Red Sky will hit the road next fall!!

They also have a bunch of festivals booked for the summer, where you may hear some new tunes.

08.06.2019 – Montaigu – Crumble Fest (FR)
15.06.2019 – Port Saint Louis – Camargue Sessions (FR)
18.07.2019 – Bilbao – Kafe Antzokia (SP)
19.07.2019 – Braga – Rodellus Festival (PT)
03.08.2019 – Chevanceaux – Laryrock (FR)
10.08.2019 – Bagnes – Rocklette Palp Festival (CH)
16.08.2019 – Saint Nolff – Motocultor Festival (FR)
27.09.2019 – Angoulème – La Nef (FR)
11.10.2019 – Belfort – La Poudrière (FR)
12.10.2019 – Strasbourg – La Laiterie (FR)
17.10.2019 – Saint Brieuc – Carnavalorock (FR)
25.10.2019 – Vendome – Les Rockomotives (FR)
26.10.2019 – Grenoble – L’Ampérage (FR)
27.10.2019 – Monthey – Pont Rouge (CH)
29.10.2019 – Zürich – Rote Fabrik (CH)
30.10.2019 – Brussels – Les Halles (B)
31.10.2019 – Diksmuide – 4AD (B)
01.11.2019 – Cologne – Helios 37 (D)
02.11.2019 – Amsterdam – Melkweg (NL)
03.11.2019 – Wiesbaden – Schlachthof (D)
04.11.2019 – Munich – Feierwerk (D)
05.11.2019 – Vienna – Arena (A)
06.11.2019 – Leipzig – Werk2 (D)
07.11.2019 – Berlin – Cassiopeia (D)
08.11.2019 – Hamburg – Hafenklang (D)
09.11.2019 – Krakow – Soulstone Gathering (PL)
20.11.2019 – Clermont-Ferrand – Coopérative de Mai (FR)
14.12.2019 – Montpellier – Le Black Sheep (FR)

http://www.facebook.com/marsredskyband/
http://www.marsredsky.net
http://www.listenable.net
http://www.facebook.com/listenablerecs

Mars Red Sky, The Task Eternal teaser

Tags: , , , , ,

Review & Full Album Stream: Zaum, Divination

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on May 8th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

zaum divination

[Click play above to stream Divination by Zaum in its entirety. Album is out May 10 on Listenable Records.]

Across a three-track sprawl, Canadian duo Zaum successfully manage to stay on theme while significantly expanding their sound. At its core, Divination — which is the Moncton outfit’s third full-length and first for Listenable Records — holds to much the same methodology as 2016’s Eidolon (review here) or even 2014’s debut, Oracles (review here), but the context has shifted as bassist/vocalist/etc.-ist Kyle Alexander McDonald and drummer/percussionist Christopher Lewis have begun to embrace different contours and textures in their work. As with the last two albums, there are some clues to be found in the artwork, in this case exploring the theology and mysticism of Southeast Asia as well as some of the folk influence, but Zaum‘s central purpose has not wavered and throughout the 18:27 opener and longest track (immediate points) “Relic,” they show growth not by moving away from their initial purposes, but by advancing deeper and more complex arrangements.

Like the similarly-minded Om before them, Zaum have begun to push outside the confines of a bass/drum duo, incorporating various bells and other atmospheric elements in order to convey the ambience that is so crucial to what they do now more than ever. It’s worth noting that McDonald and Lewis have furthered the visual side of their live presentation as well, bringing aboard Nawal Doucette as a presence onstage. Whether or not she contributes to the album, I don’t know — there are vocals near the beginning of “Relic” that could be hers, but I haven’t seen proper credits — but either way, “Relic,” as well as “Pantheon” (8:48) and “Procession” (13:58), which follow, bear the mark of this increased focus on atmosphere. Of course, this was not an area in which Zaum were exactly lacking prior to Divination, but it’s a question of balance in their sound, and they have grown more patient in their execution as well as more willing to explore the spaces they naturally create in their material. This has only made them a stronger band and more suited to their aesthetic purpose.

The sense of ceremony is immediate as “Relic” begins to unfold, and it remains prevalent no matter how tonally weighted Zaum get. Echoing voice, flute sounds, finger cymbals and darkly psychedelic textures put the listener precisely in the place the band wants them to be, and though the first few minutes of “Relic” are quiet, the patience they instill in the audience is another triumphant aspect of Divination on the whole. Soon enough, the drones and bass and echoing march will commence, and “Pantheon” as the centerpiece/side B leadoff hits with even more impact ahead of “Procession,” which casts a more strictly doomed pall on the way to its apex topped by righteously harmonized vocals. There are ebbs and flows along the way — plenty of flow throughout, actually — in volume and intensity, but at its most subdued or its loudest push, Divination remains informed by that original showcase of patience, and the temporal slowdown that ensues is all the more effective for it.

zaum (Photo by Pierre Morin)

But Zaum‘s dynamic isn’t just about volume tradeoffs or writing long songs. It’s the feeling of ritualization that helps to distinguish them, and “Relic” shows this as well from front to back, dipping into some spaces that feel born of more extreme metal — thinking just past the halfway point before the vocals drop out. As Zaum have moved toward discovering their own sound, they’ve worked to conjure a singly dark vibe that Divination certainly brings to its most resonant realization yet. It’s not that Zaum are suddenly playing death or black metal — far from it — but as they began by transposing the tenets of doom onto their style, their breadth in that regard would seem to have expanded as well along with the rest of their modus. As “Pantheon” sets its ambient foundation in the first minute and then begins constructing a temple build of foreshadow harmonies and drone metal leading to bleak incantations, it’s hard to tell just with what gods Zaum are communing — all of them? — but clear just the same that the intent is not of this world.

It is a grim psych of the spirit, and the “Procession” to which it leads feels very much like the march to death. The closer isn’t the longest work Zaum have ever done — both tracks on Eidolon topped 20 minutes, there’s “Relic” here and the 19-minute “The Serpentshrine” from their 2015 split with Shooting Guns (review here) — but it might be this album’s highest achievement. To hear Zaum use vocal layering as they do effects and percussion along with the bass and drums as another instrument at their disposal puts them in a different category of songwriters entirely, and it only speaks well for their search as it continues to move forward from here. “Procession” winds down before building back up to its 10th minute, eventually making its way into the aforementioned harmonies, chant-like as they are.

Amid all the nuance of arrangement, Zaum make an easy argument for themselves as a progressive band. The simple fact that they’d work so directly toward an atmospheric ideal does that alone, never mind how they actually get there. But with the ending of “Procession,” and really with Divination the whole way through, Zaum separate from the paths of their influences and find their own way. They are the monk leaving the monastery to create a new path, and the sound they find on that journey is as enriching as any dogma might provide. Again, for those who’ve experienced Zaum in the past, it’s not so much that Divination is a radical reinvention of what they do. It’s not supposed to be. Instead, what it does is to show how malleable their approach is to further growth and how much it’s able to branch out in terms of expression without sacrificing its basic level of impact to that cause. Those who’ve heard them before will still recognize them, but the shape of what’s being recognized has changed and signals in this material that change will be ongoing. So be it.

Zaum on Thee Facebooks

Zaum on Instagram

Zaum on Bandcamp

Listenable Records website

Listenable Records on Thee Facebooks

Tags: , , , , ,

Mars Red Sky to Release The Task Eternal Sept. 27; Teaser Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 30th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

What will otherwise be known as “the one they wrote in the castle,” Mars Red Sky‘s impending fourth album, The Task Eternal, is set to release on Sept. 27 through Listenable Records. The Bordeaux three-piece will have a limited-run self-released EP out in June as a precursor to the full-length’s release — which is standard practice for them — and have tour dates and festival appearances set into the Fall with likely many more to follow. They got some good mileage out of steady touring for 2016’s Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul) (review here) and subsequent vinyl-only EP, Myramyd (discussed here), but they’ve always been a band to move forward, and they’re poised to do exactly that with the new record.

I already sent my email begging to hear the album early, and I think once you see the teaser clip at the bottom of this post it’ll be clear why. I have been and remain a sucker for this band, and the realization of a new album from them is just-made-my-week kind of news. I hope you feel the same.

Info follows from the PR wire:

MARS RED SKY (Photo by Julien Dupeyron)

MARS RED SKY: new album “The Task Eternal” coming September 27th on Listenable Records

French heavy psychedelic rockers MARS RED SKY announce the release of their fourth full-length “The Task Eternal” on September 27th via Listenable Records, and share an exclusive teaser today.

Three years after the “Apex III (Praise For The Burning Soul)” odyssey, French heavy psych torchbearers MARS RED SKY are ready to add a new cornerstone to the pharaonic sonic monument they’ve been building for over a decade. Written in a medieval castle in 2018, “The Task Eternal” is set for a September 27th release via Listenable Records. The band will debut the first single off the new album on May 29th, with more info being unveiled very soon!

Says the band, “In 2018, we spent much time to rehearse in a medieval castle. Today, we are beyond happy to announce the release of our fourth full-length “The Task Eternal” on September 27th via Listenable Records. As an appetizer, we are sharing an exclusive teaser!!! Teaser directed by Seb Antoine.”

“We will unleash an exclusive EP K7 entitled “Collector” in June 14th on MRS Red Sound!!! This limited edition contains a track from “The Task Eternal” album also called “Collector”! This particular song will be on any good streaming platforms on May 29th.”

Mars Red Sky live:
07.05 PARIS (75) La Maroquinerie w/ Earthless
15.06 PORT SAINT-LOUIS (13) Camargue Sessions
03.08 CHEVANCEAUX (17) Laryrock
16.08 SAINT-NOLF (56) Motocultor Festival
27.09 NEW ALBUM “THE TASK ETERNAL” OUT!
12.10 STRASBOURG (67) La Laiterie
17.10 SAINT BRIEUC (22) Carnavalorock
09.11 KRAKOW (PL) Soulstone Gathering festival

http://www.marsredsky.net/
http://www.facebook.com/marsredskyband/
http://www.marsredsky.net
http://www.twitter.com/MarsRedSky1
http://www.listenable.net
http://www.facebook.com/listenablerecs

Mars Red Sky, The Task Eternal teaser

Tags: , , , , ,