Desertfest London & Berlin 2017: Sleep Added as Headliners

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 7th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

sleep

Sleep will headline at both Desertfest London and Berlin 2017. Ain’t their first time at the rodeo, but let’s face it: anytime Sleep do anything it’s news, and all the more so because usually what they’re doing is stuff like headlining Desertfests. It was only a week ago that the London incarnation of the multi-city festival brand announced it was bringing reformed desert rockers Slo Burn over for a headline slot, and before them, Turbonegro had been unveiled with the first lineup announcement in October, so that’s three headliners unveiled for a three-night festival before the New Year has even hit. I wouldn’t fret. No doubt Desertfest London 2017 still has plenty of tricks up its sleeve.

Meanwhile, in Berlin, I believe Sleep count for the first headliner announcement. The prior two lineup updates from Desertfest Berlin 2017 (posted here and here) included the likes of Mars Red SkySamsara Blues ExperimentLowriderEcstatic VisionThe Cosmic DeadTuberThe Well and Satan’s Satyrs. As the two festivals have worked hard to each establish their own personality over the last several years, I’ll be interested to see who shows up in the top spots for Berlin from here on out. Maybe they go local?

I’m also still holding out hope for a new Sleep album sometime in, you know, ever. Guitarist Matt Pike said this year the plan was to record early 2017. At this point it will have been three years since they released their single The Clarity (review here), and eight since they started playing reunion shows, so they’re nothing if not due, but my inclination is to keep my fingers crossed Pike, bassist/vocalist Al Cisneros and drummer Jason Roeder can make it happen while also believing it when I see it. Cautious optimism. I wouldn’t mind a new Om record from Cisneros either, while we’re at it. Roeder, who this fall put out the fantastic Fires Within Fires (review here) with main outfit Neurosis, is off the hook for the time being.

Sorry, got sidetracked. Awesome news for Desertfesters in London and Berlin, in whose number I continue to daydream of counting myself.

The PR wire has it:

SLEEP TO REIGN AT THE ROUNDHOUSE AS THEY HEADLINE DESERTFEST LONDON 2017!

After conquering Koko, Sleep are back; this time to reign at the Roundhouse. That’s right, not only did we bag seminal doom legends Sleep to headline the sixth Desertfest, we’ll also be descending on the iconic Roundhouse for the whole of the Sunday.

Forming in 1990 on the bones of previous band Asbestosdeth, Sleep carved out an almost mythological name for themselves in their original stint of less than a decade. The first three-piece lineup of Al Cisneros, Matt Pike and Chris Hakius recorded two of doom’s most revered albums in Holy Mountain and Dopesmoker (or Jerusalem for the purists), with the latter not even seeing release until the years in which Sleep slept.

As Cisneros and Pike found other outlets for their heaviness through Om and High on Fire, a resurging stoner and doom scene declared Sleep as a monolithic pillar of the scene, due mostly to their downtuned, distorted riffs but also their uncompromising love for a certain plant. The time was perfect for a Sleep reunion. In 2009, after over a decade in slumber, Sleep awoke for Cisneros, Pike and Hakius to play two final sets together. Whilst Hakius decided to retire from music after the shows, the rest of the band decided Sleep weren’t quite ready to be put to bed. Recruiting Jason Roeder of Neurosis, Sleep continued to sporadically play shows, before teasing us with The Clarity; a fantastic single ten-minute track which proved that Sleep still had it and we wanted more of it.

We Desertfesters got some of it in 2015, when Sleep closed out Desertfest with an unforgettable set at the Koko. The moment the curtain raised with the first few strains of Dopesmoker hitting is a moment etched into the memory of an entire building full of Weedians. A blisteringly loud green cloud of sound, a pure mad wall of riffs and a room full of grinning, sweaty, hairy doom pilgrims. It’s one of the unquestionable highlights of our first five years of Desertfest; so we’ve invited them back.

But if it’s worth doing again, it’s worth doing bigger and better. That’s why this year, Sleep will be headlining the much larger Roundhouse. The famous London venue, just a short walk from Desertfest’s other stages, boasts an increased capacity, meaning nobody should miss their chance to space out to ‘Dragonaut’. Like the Koko in previous years, the Roundhouse will host bands throughout the Sunday; and to welcome the venue into the Desertfest family, we have huge plans, so keep your eyes peeled.

So drop out of life and ride the dragon to Desertfest 2017 when Sleep blow the roof off the Roundhouse.

SLEEP to headline DESERTFEST BERLIN

It is a very exciting day for us! We are finally ready to unveil our first headliner for next year’s DESERTFEST BERLIN, and what a name this is…! You guys have been asking for them for many years, it is the most common request we receive via mail or Facebook… and we finally managed to bring them to Berlin next year…: Californian stoner doom legends SLEEP!!!

Formed in 1990, the extravaganza outfit SLEEP is one of the most widely-respected and influential acts in the stoner/doom metal universe, best known for “Dopesmoker”, the unfuckwithable 63-minute album/song that acts as one of the greatest tribute to weed that metal has produced. They haven’t really done much since then as original band’s members split off into prolific acts such as Om and High On Fire. And so in 2009 when they were reborn with Al Cisneros, Matt Pike and the estimable Jason Roeder (Neurosis), SLEEP’s popularity grew tremendously.

After “sporadically writing riffs for a while” SLEEP returned with a new song (their first official release in over a decade) for the Adult Swim singles series. “The Clarity” is nearly 10 minutes of mystical, slow-riffing awesomeness. Back then, asked about the possibility of a new studio album, the band refused to offer specific details. But recently, upon Southern Lord’s announcement of the impending re-release of “The Clarity” on vinyl (scheduled for February 2017), Matt Pike said publicly that SLEEP will record a new album next year as well!

SLEEP did what it had done and what it had left to do. Largely and without pause, make music in tune with The Ages. Best to be enjoyed? Live and living. See, hear, feel, do it. Well, beyond just music and well into the experiential joy of pure being. SLEEP.

Also confirmed for our 2017 edition of DESERTFEST BERLIN: SAMSARA BLUES EXPERIMENT, MARS RED SKY, LOWRIDER, TOUNDRA, ECSTATIC VISION, THE COSMIC DEAD, TUBER, SATAN’S SATYRS, WUCAN, VENOMOUS MAXIMUS, THE WELL, GOLD, TSCHAIKA 21/16.

There are still 20 more acts to be unveiled, including 2 other headliners, so stay tuned! And do not miss your chance to be part of the amazing DESERTFEST BERLIN experience… Check out our Website to get your tickets, or the links below in this release! We were sold out last year in February, so better be quick!

Let’s turn all together the DESERTFEST BERLIN 2017 into another milestone when it comes to Berlin and festivals!

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/desertfest-2017-tickets-27305267791
http://www.desertfest.co.uk/
https://www.facebook.com/DesertfestLondon
https://twitter.com/DesertFest
https://www.instagram.com/desertfest_london/
http://www.desertfest.de/tickets
https://www.facebook.com/DesertfestBerlin
http://woolheads.com/shop-2/festivalmerchandise/desertfest-berlin-2016-early-bird-ticket-action-1/
https://shop3.ticketscript.com/channel/html/get-products/rid/4MGC3S6H/eid/327518/validity/any_day/language/en

Sleep, Live at Psycho Las Vegas 2016

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Desertfest London 2017: Slo Burn Added to Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 30th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

With the confirmation that they’ll stand among the headliners at Desertfest London 2017, the impending Slo Burn reunion gets even more interesting. About a week and a half ago, they were announced for Freak Valley 2017 in Germany. Fair enough. I’d expect at some point word from Desertfest Berlin 2017 and maybe Stoned from the Underground and a few others as well. What’s interesting about it — aside from the fact that the reunion is happening at all — is the span of time between the two to-date announcements.

Desertfest London 2017 is April 28-30. Freak Valley 2017 is June 15-17. Now, it’s entirely possible that Slo Burn will fly over for a Desertfest or two, head back to California and sit tight until their next trip abroad. Entirely possible. The other potentiality is that we’re looking at least a month and a half on the road for a band who, in all fairness, haven’t been a band for the better part of 20 years.

If in fact that’s how it turns out, that’s one hell of a comeback. Of course, frontman John Garcia has put in some significant road time over the last half-decade-plus, between Garcia Plays Kyuss, Kyuss Lives!, Vista Chino, Desertfest veterans Unida, his own John Garcia solo band and acoustic shows, but to reignite Slo Burn in such a fashion would be a major statement of intent going forward, leading one to immediately wonder about the possibility of new studio work at some point in 2017 or thereafter.

I have no confirmation of a full European tour or anything other than the two dates so far posted, so quote me on none of it. Nor am I looking to spread rumors — this is pure speculation. But like I said, I’m definitely interested to see how it all shakes out in the months ahead.

Either way, welcome to Desertfest, Slo Burn:

desertfest-london-2017-square-poster

SLO BURN TO POSITIVA-LY BLOW MINDS WHEN THEY HEADLINE DESERTFEST 2017

Get ready to spit out your Muezli; stoner rock pioneers Slo Burn are the second headliners for Desertfest 2017.

Rising from the ashes of Kyuss, Slo Burn are about as close as you can get to the epicentre of stoner rock’s progenesis. Fronted by John Garcia, (the stoner rock scene’s ultimate Prizefighter) alongside Chris Hale (guitar), Damon Garrison (bass) and Brady Houghton (drums), Slo Burn continued the groundwork Kyuss laid down.

Their four track EP, Amusing the Amazing, stands out as a classic; brimming with a rough and ready tone, riffs catchier than cactuses and Garcia’s signature gravel infused vocals, it’s a condensed 15 minutes and 48 seconds of pure joy.

Then, after only a year, Slo Burn disbanded, leaving us with only their EP, a few badass demos, and a video of their set at 1997s Dynamo Festival. We shouldn’t have grumbled, given the quality and impact of those releases, but we wanted more. We wanted to see them in the flesh.

Well you’re in luck. After a Round Trip via Unida, Hermano, Vista Chino, Brave Black Sea and more, Slo Burn are back, ready to play those legendary tracks and more in the setting they deserve to be seen. Desertfest. Main Stage. Headlining. So get ready and willing to shake those Snake Hips when Slo Burn pilot Desertfest 2017.

– DESERTFEST LONDON 2017 –
28th to 30th April in Camden, London
Weekend passes are available HERE

First bands announced:
TURBONEGRO, SAMSARA BLUES EXPERIMENT, THE PICTUREBOOKS, SATAN’S SATYRS, VODUN, YURI GAGARIN, MAMMOTH STORM, ELEPHANT TREE

Second bands announced:
Candlemass, Lowrider, Black Spiders, Venomous Maximus, Wucan, Stubb, Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs, 1000mods, The Well, Gravelines

Third lineup announcement:
Slo Burn

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/desertfest-2017-tickets-27305267791
http://www.desertfest.co.uk/
https://www.facebook.com/DesertfestLondon
https://twitter.com/DesertFest
https://www.instagram.com/desertfest_london/

Slo Burn, “Pilot the Dune” official video

Tags: , , , , , ,

Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters Sign to Riff Rock Records; Premiere “Mother Chub” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on November 29th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

chubby-thunderous-bad-kush-masters-700

Man, that new Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters video must really be something if they taped over the Beavis and Butt-Head appearance on Dave Letterman to save it. The theme? The ’90s. A distinct VHS grit pervades the clip for “Mother Chub,” from the London trio’s 2015 debut EP, Earth Hog (review here), and as the band get down like they’re in a Dr. Dre video from 1993, that could hardly be more appropriate.

You’ll note the bounce gesture — perfectly timed — the slow-motion mugging for the camera, and the general freaking out that Chubby Thunderous and a slew of similarly corpsepainted, tye-dyed, headbanging compatriots engage. It’s called charm, kids. Charm and riffs, and the UK party sludgers have both in spades.

In addition to premiering the “Mother Chub” video, today Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters — the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Owen Carty, bassist Will Hart and drummer Mark Buckwell — announce they’ve signed with Riff Rock Records for their next release. They’ll have a split out early in 2017 and after that set to work on their debut full-length.

Being picked up by Riff Rock makes them labelmates to Vodun, with whom they’d seem to share an affinity for coldcream as well as tonal heft. Chubby Thunderous are maybe a little less prone to taking themselves seriously, but as “Mother Chub,” which was the penultimate of the five tracks on Earth Hog and the longest of them (also featured on a Riff Rock compilation last summer; streamed here), demonstrates, they’re not just screwing around either.

If you’re not looking forward to an album from these cats, you should be, and “Mother Chub” offers plenty of reasons why.

The band was kind enough to comment on signing to Riff Rock Records. Their words follow the video below.

Please enjoy:

Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters, “Mother Chub” official video

Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters on Signing to Riff Rock Records:

“We’re psyched and honoured to be joining Riff Rock Records. They totally get that we’re trying to do something a little different with the band… We want to create a rad vibe that’s a little less serious and hopefully a lot of fun. If we can convince one diehard metal fan to buy a tie-dye t-shirt at every show then that’s our job done. We have a split EP coming out around the start of next year with some good friends of ours and then we’ll focus on finishing our first full album. Love ‘n Kush!”

Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters live:
Dec 03 The Unicorn Camden, UK
Dec 11 The Bullingdon Oxford, UK
Feb 04 DROP The Dumbulls Gallery Liverpool, UK

Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters on Thee Facebooks

Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters on Bandcamp

Riff Rock Records on Thee Facebooks

Riff Rock Records on Twitter

Tags: , , , , ,

Poseidon Sign to Ripple Music

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 22nd, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

I can’t think of an American heavy rock label that undertook growth to match that of Ripple Music in 2016. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty out there, large, medium and small, doing good work, but in the quality and quantity of their roster expansion, the West Coast imprint stood itself out particularly this year as one of the foremost US outlets for things that go fuzz in the night, and they’ll look to continue their momentum into 2017 with signings like that of Poseidon. Look for the London-based psych-sludge doomers to make their full-length debut through Ripple having played Desertfest London, Bloodstock and more besides in a landmark 2016 of their own on the strength of their single-song Prologue: Omega EP, released just about a year ago and offering atmosphere a-plenty to go with its post-metallic quantum mysticism.

The PR wire takes it from here:

poseidon

Poseidon signs worldwide deal with Ripple Music; Debut Album in the Works

Ripple Music is proud to announce the worldwide signing of UK stoner/doom rockers Poseidon to their ever growing roster of top-notch heavy bands. Having gestated for almost a year in the guts of East London, Poseidon rise to the fore. With their seeds rooted firmly in the dense sounds of 70’s rock and Doom metal, and having spawned from bands including the now defunct Light Bearer, the band bring together a sound that celebrates the vastness of the sonic landscape. From a rage of aggressive riffs, barked vocals and elemental drums to swimming rhythms and earthy melodies, Poseidon invoke the catastrophic nature which occupy both ends of their musical spectrum and dive head first into the abyss of the melancholic.

Raza Khan on signing to Ripple:
“A chance to sign to a label of this realm and reputation, doesn’t come everyday. Poseidon are honoured and humbled to become part of the Ripple family, alongside such luminaries as Wo Fat, Mos Generator and Mothership. We couldn’t imagine better people to work with than Todd and Pope, and we cant wait to unleash the first Poseidon release next year!”

Poseidon bring a whole new dynamic to their heavy rock, with pulverizing heavy riffs, moments of stark, barren beauty, and mixture of Neurosis-ish drone and nuclear test site volume. Poseidon are currently writing their debut studio album, set for a 2017 release.

Having already stormed major festivals such as DesertFest London, Bloodstock Open Air, and Hard Rock Hell, and having shared the stage with the likes of Mastodon, Orange Goblin and Electric Citizen, Poseidon aims to take their critical success to new heights on their upcoming debut for Ripple Music. 2017 will surely see Poseidon back on the road again, and at the forefront of the heavy rock and metal world.

Poseidon is:
Raza khan – Drums
Matt Norris – Guitar
Matthew Bunkell – bass/vocals
Jamie Starke – guitar

https://www.facebook.com/weareposeidon?
https://poseidonii.bandcamp.com/releases?
http://www.ripple-music.com/
http://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/

Poseidon, Prologue: Omega (2015)

Tags: , , ,

Desertfest London 2017: Candlemass, Lowrider, Venomous Maximus, Stubb and More Added

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 22nd, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

You were either there or you’re an imaginative sort, so I don’t need to tell you what a joy it was to see Lowrider when they played Desertfest London in 2013 (review here). They were also recently announced for Desertfest Berlin (info here), so to have them return to Camden Town for Desertfest London 2017 isn’t necessarily a huge surprise in the grand scheme, but I’m quite sure they’ll find fervent welcome when they get there, and rightly so. It’s been a long time speculating about whether or not they’ll do another record, and they may yet get there, but either way, the fact that they’re still actively playing out on choice gigs like this one is encouraging.

Also announced today? Oh, only Swedish doom legends Candlemass, Texans Venomous Maximus heading abroad for a trip that — and I’m not exaggerating — will likely triple their fanbase because that’s how good they are live, fellow Texans The Well, with whom I wouldn’t be surprised if Venomous Maximus were traveling, London heavy highlights Stubb, jammers Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs, Greek forerunners 1000mods, plus WucanBlack Spiders and Grave Lines. Kind of hard to believe Desertfest London 2017 is only two rounds into lineup announcements, but like I said, you’re imaginative, so I’m sure you can picture some of the awesomeness still to come as we get closer to April.

Here’s word from the fest:

desertfest-london-2017-new-poster-candlemass

CANDLEMASS, LOWRIDER AND MORE JOIN DESERTFEST 2017

DESERTFEST LONDON is pleased to announce the second batch of bands who will be joining the likes of Turbonegro, Samsara Blues Experiment, Yuri Gagarin and Vodun on April 28-29-30th, 2017 in Camden. Ever-growing diversity alongside a solid selection of grass-root acts, has helped cement Desertfest as the go-to festival for doom, stoner rock, psych and all its subsidiaries, with a sixth edition set to be the most eclectic and heavy to date.

First up, we are honoured to welcome a band that needs no introduction: legendary doom metallers CANDLEMASS. Encompassing the ethos of what Desertfest has meant since its inception, Candlemass are one of the most influential and celebrated doom bands in not only Sweden’s musical history, but in heavy music history as a whole. Pure, unapologetic, true doom metal that’ll never disappoint.

A second offering from the Swedes comes in the form of stoner rock stalwarts LOWRIDER. Back in 2013, their momentous reunion after a 10-year hiatus took place exclusively at Desertfest London. It’s a privilege to once again host the return of the riff-ready heroes, who have been bringing their desert-sound to revellers since the late 90s. Also on the bill are UK party boys BLACK SPIDERS, whose fast-paced, high voltage lunacy will rattle out the cobwebs. Despite having recently announced a hiatus, these rock’n’roll maniacs will come back at Desertfest for one last blowout.

1000MODS will too be bringing their psychedelic vibrations to 2017’s line-up. Their unique commitment to a vintage sound, held up by playing with classic instruments, undoubtedly makes them a must-see act on any bill. Underground heroes PIGS, PIGS, PIGS, PIGS, PIGS, PIGS, PIGS also make a welcome addition, with their loud and exciting blend of psych, noise and post-rock. Austin based trio THE WELL are jumping over the pond to thrash out their progressive take on heavy rock, taking that classic nostalgia and twisting it with a hearty laden of adrenaline.

London’s very own STUBB will lay out their fuzzy blues at Desertfest – greatly influenced by the 60 & 70s trio’s of the same genre, they’ve gained respect as a sold live act. Germany’s WUCAN describe themselves as “Topsy-Turvy Higgledy-Piggledy Folk-Blues-Psych-Stoner-ProtoMetal-Soul, with a pinch of confusion” – which may sound like all-over chaos, but they have truly honed their style thanks to an expert fusion of 70’s drenched goodness.

Final acts to join Desertfest London 2017 are metal killers Austin’s VENOMOUS MAXIMUS, newcomers GRAVE LINES – one of the most exciting bands to come out of London – trust us, you’ll want to be there, as they are soon to become one of those acts everyone claims they heard first.

We are proud and excited for what next year has in store. But this is only the tip of the iceberg as there is much, much more to come. Stay tuned!

– DESERTFEST LONDON 2017 –
28th to 30th April in Camden, London
Weekend passes are available HERE

First bands announced:
TURBONEGRO, SAMSARA BLUES EXPERIMENT, THE PICTUREBOOKS, SATAN’S SATYRS, VODUN, YURI GAGARIN, MAMMOTH STORM, ELEPHANT TREE

Second bands announced:
Candlemass, Lowrider, Black Spiders, Venomous Maximus, Wucan, Stubb, Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs, 1000mods, The Well, Gravelines

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/desertfest-2017-tickets-27305267791
http://www.desertfest.co.uk/
https://www.facebook.com/DesertfestLondon
https://twitter.com/DesertFest
https://www.instagram.com/desertfest_london/

Lowrider, Live at Desertfest London 2013

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

Desertfest London 2017 First Announcements: Turbonegro Headlining; Samsara Blues Experiment, Elephant Tree & More to Play

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 14th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

Desertfest London 2017 joins the Spring festival season fray with its first round of lineup announcements. Set for April 28-30 in its traditional home of Camden Town in London, the sixth incarnation of one of the two founding Desertfests will include a headlining set from Turbonegro, as well as appearances from Samsara Blues Experiment, who seem to be set on making a return to activity as we head into the New Year that I’ll be very interested in seeing how it plays out, plus blues-cycle duo The Picturebooks, Virginia’s Satan’s Satyrs, tribalists Vodun, Yuri Gargarin, Mammoth Storm, and London’s own Elephant Tree, whose 2016 self-titled debut (review here) stands among the year’s best in heavy rock. Bit of a no-brainer there, so I guess you might as well get the announcement out of the way early.

Not really looking forward to six months of cartoon-titty posters, but so it goes. Here’s word from the fest:

desertfest-london-2017-first-poster

DESERTFEST LONDON: first bands announced; Turbonegro to headline the 2017 edition!

After a momentous fifth year anniversary, DESERTFEST LONDON proudly returns in 2017. As the festival grows from strength to strength, each year offers up a new challenge to bring a truly unique and amplified weekend to Camden Town. Desertfest aims to not only expand in all areas, but also to exceed expectations, and this year’s lineup is set to do just that.

The first headliner for 2017 is one of the most ludicrously high voltage, straight-up party bands in the history of rock’n’roll: Norway’s very own TURBONEGRO will be bringing their blend of high octane deathpunk to Desertfest 2017, for their first performance ever at the festival!

Joining them on the bill are one of the most requested Desertfest acts, German psych stalwarts SAMSARA BLUES EXPERIMENT, whose expert blend of stoner rock, psychedelic blues and Indian raga will bring some mind-bending goodness to the weekend’s trip.

THE PICTUREBOOKS will also be eagerly offering up their diverse alt-rock sound. The duo have pushed boundaries with their style – from drumming with mallets to building their own instruments, their live performances unquestionably follow suit and will not disappoint.

Virginia’s crème-de la-crème of thrash SATAN SATYR’S have effortlessly propelled themselves to cult status by paving the way for that true hard-attack heavy rock, making them stand out from a sea of peers who are just trying to hit half as hard.

VODUN are quickly gaining traction as one of those “must see” bands, and Desertfest is thrilled to show our loyal family as to why. An overwhelming talent of primal, genre-bending, heavy afro-soul rock – they’re not easy to describe, but being labelled one of the best new rock acts on the planet may help paint the picture. Swedish space rock cosmonauts YURI GAGARIN will also join the 2017 proceedings to launch revellers into a hypnotic otherworldly journey, alongside doom-drone power trio MAMMOTH STORM, who will be ready to batter out any cobwebs with a sonic tidal wave of riffs. Last but not least, is London’s very own ELEPHANT TREE with their melodic and weighty riffs that will rattle down on listeners like a stampede.

We are proud, and excited, for what next year has in store. But this is only the tip of the iceberg as there is much, much more to come. Stay tuned!

– DESERTFEST LONDON 2017 –
28th to 30th April in Camden, London
Weekend passes are available HERE

First bands announced:
TURBONEGRO, SAMSARA BLUES EXPERIMENT, THE PICTUREBOOKS, SATAN’S SATYRS, VODUN, YURI GAGARIN, MAMMOTH STORM, ELEPHANT TREE

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/desertfest-2017-tickets-27305267791
http://www.desertfest.co.uk/
https://www.facebook.com/DesertfestLondon
https://twitter.com/DesertFest
https://www.instagram.com/desertfest_london/

Elephant Tree, Elephant Tree (2016)

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

Quarterly Review: Sumac, Dunsmuir, Monkey3, Oak, Lightsabres, Helen Money, Dali’s Llama, Suns of Thyme, Fungal Abyss, Wicked Gypsy

Posted in Reviews on October 3rd, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

the-obelisk-fall-2016-quarterly-review

This is always a kind of nervewracking moment, sitting here in my chair as I do every couple months and introducing the next Quarterly Review. Between now and Friday, somehow, some way, I’ll post 50 reviews in batches of 10 per day. It will cover more ground than, frankly, I yet know, and by the time it’s done it’s going to feel (at least to me) like way more than a week has passed, but hell, at this point I’ve done this enough times to be reasonably confident I can get through it without suffering a major collapse either of heart or brain. I’ve taken steps beforehand to make it easier on myself and listened to a lot, a lot, a lot of music in preparation, so there’s nothing left to do but dive in and actually kick this this thing off. So let’s do that.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Sumac, What One Becomes

sumac-what-one-becomes

With their second album, What One Becomes (on Thrill Jockey), post-metal trio Sumac move forward from what their 2015 debut, The Deal (review here), established as their crushing and atmospheric modus. Starting with a wash of blown-out noise in “Image of Control,” the collective of guitarist/vocalist Aaron Turner (ex-Isis), bassist Brian Cook (Russian Circles) and Nick Yacyshyn (Baptists) eventually settle into a barrage of chug and inhuman lumber over the course of the five-track/58-minute progression, testing tolerance on the 17-minute march “Blackout” and tapping into a satisfying moment of melody in centerpiece “Clutch of Oblivion” that, by the time it arrives, feels a bit like a life raft. There are stretches that come across as part collections, but the whole seems to be geared toward overwhelming, consuming and devastating, and ultimately What One Becomes accomplishes all of those things and more besides, finishing closer “Will to Reach” with the sense they could easily keep going. I believe it.

Sumac on Thee Facebooks

Thrill Jockey Records

 

Dunsmuir, Dunsmuir

dunsmuir-dunsmuir

Prior to making their full-length debut, Dunsmuir issued a series of 7” singles, so if you picked up any of that, the straightforward pulse running through the 10-track self-titled will probably be familiar. Likewise if you’d previously caught wind of The Company Band, the supergroup in which vocalist Neil Fallon (also Clutch), guitarist Dave Bone and bassist Brad Davis (also Fu Manchu) previously joined forces. Here they’re joined by drummer Vinny Appice (Black Sabbath, etc.), and the material is suitably metallic in its aftertaste, but while Fallon’s presence is irrepressible and it’s the songwriting itself that shines through in cuts like “Our Only Master” and “…And Madness,” both barnburner riffs in classic metal fashion, where the later “Church of the Tooth” draws back the pace to add sway leading into the mid-paced closing duo “The Gate” and “Crawling Chaos.” Not many surprises, but with the ingredients given, knowing what you’re getting isn’t anything to complain about.

Dunsmuir on Thee Facebooks

Dunsmuir webstore

 

Monkey3, Astra Symmetry

monkey3-astra-symmetry

Across a span of 12 tracks and 72 minutes, Swiss heavy progressives Monkey3 unfurl the massive scope of Astra Symmetry, their fifth album and the follow-up to 2013’s The 5th Sun. It is an immediately immersive listening experience and does not become any less so as it plays out, the generally-instrumental four-piece frontloading early songs like “Abyss,” “Moon” and the nodding, synthed-out “The Water Bearer” with vocals and backing that with “Dead Planet’s Eyes” on the second LP for good measure. Delving into Eastern-style melodicism gives Astra Symmetry a contemplative air, but Monkey3’s heavy psychedelia has always provided a free-flowing vibe, and as “Astrea,” “Arch,” “The Guardian” and “Realms of Lights” roll through ambient drones toward the album’s smoothly delivered apex, that remains very much the case. Taken as a whole, Astra Symmetry is a significant journey, but satisfying in that traveling atmosphere and in the hypnosis it elicits along the way.

Monkey3 on Thee Facebooks

Napalm Records

 

Oak, Oak II

oak-oak-ii

Big progressive step from London four-piece Oak on their second self-released EP, Oak II. They follow last year’s self-titled (review here) with four more tracks that build on the burl established last time out but immediately show more stylistic command, vocalist Andy “Valiant” Wisbey emerging as a significant frontman presence and the band behind him – guitarist/engineer Kevin Germain, bassist Scott Masson and drummer Clinton Ritchie – finding more breadth, be it in a nod to djent riffing in “Mirage” or more melodic post-Steak desert rock in “Against the Rain.” In addition, “A Bridge too Far” showcases a patience of approach that the first EP simply didn’t have, and that makes its build even more satisfying as it hits its peak and goes quiet into the stonerly swing of “Smoke,” which ends Oak II with due fuzz and some social commentary to go with. Sounds like more than a year’s growth at work, but I’ll take it.

Oak on Thee Facebooks

Oak on Bandcamp

 

Lightsabres, Hibernation

lightsabres-hibernation

One word for Swedish one-man outfit Lightsabres? How about “underrated?” Since the 2013 Demons EP (review here), it has been nearly impossible to keep a handle on where John Strömshed (also Tunga Moln) might go on any given song, and his latest offering, the full-length Hibernation (on HeviSike with a tape out on Medusa Crush) works much the same, rolling out a melodic mellowness on the opening title-track before topping off-time chug with garage vocals on the subsequent “Endless Summer.” Elsewhere, “Throw it all Away” marries swallow-you-in-tone riffing with a surprisingly emotionally resonant lead, and “Blood on the Snow” offers a downtrodden vision of grunge-blues like what might’ve happened if Danzig had never gone commercial. It’s all over the place, as was 2014’s Spitting Blood (review here) and 2015’s Beheaded, but tied together through a wintry theme, and anyway, variety is the norm for Lightsabres, whose reach seems only to grow broader with each passing year.

Lightsabres on Thee Facebooks

HeviSike Records website

 

Helen Money, Become Zero

helen-money-become-zero

Knowing the context of Helen Money’s Become Zero having been written by cellist Alison Chesley following losing both her parents, and knowing that songs like the 10-minute “Radiate” and the effects-less “Blood and Bone” (which features pianist Rachel Grimes) deal directly with that loss, only makes it more powerful, but even without that information, the sense of melancholy and loneliness is right there to be heard. Chesley, who released the last Helen Money album, Arriving Angels (review here), in 2013, once again brings in drummer Jason Roeder (Sleep, Neurosis) to contribute, and his work on the title-track and the later churn of “Leviathan” make both standouts, but whether it’s the empty spaces of “Vanished Star” or the ambient wash of “Radiate” – I don’t even know how a cello makes that sound – the emotional force driving the music is ultimately what ties it together as a single work of poignant, deeply resonant beauty.

Helen Money on Thee Facebooks

Helen Money at Thrill Jockey Records

 

Dali’s Llama, Dying in the Sun

dalis-llama-dying-in-the-sun

It has been nearly three years since desert-dwelling rockers Dali’s Llama celebrated their two-decade run with the Twenty Years Underground vinyl (review here) and almost four since their last proper full-length, Autumn Woods (review here), was issued. For them, that’s an exceedingly long time. One can’t help but wonder if the band – now a five-piece, led as ever by guitarist/vocalist Zach Huskey and recorded as ever by Scott Reeder – went through a period of introspection in that span. After some stylistic experimentation with darker and more doomed influences, the seven tracks of Dying in the Sun would seem to reaffirm who Dali’s Llama are as they approach the quarter-century mark, bringing some of the gloom of Autumn Woods to extended centerpiece “Samurai Eyes” as easily as “Bruja-ha” seems to play off the goth-punk whimsy of 2010’s Howl do You Do? (review here). The fact is Dali’s Llama are all these things, not just one or the other, and so in bringing that together, Dying in the Sun is perhaps the truest to themselves they’ve yet been on record.

Dali’s Llama on Thee Facebooks

Dali’s Llama Records website

 

Suns of Thyme, Cascades

suns-of-thyme-cascades

Making their debut on Napalm Records, Berlin five-piece Suns of Thyme exhibit immediate sonic adventurousness on their second album, Cascades, melding krautrock and heavy psych keys and effects with a distinctly human presence in the rhythm section, engaging in songcraft in the new wave-ish “Intuition Unbound” while topping shoegaze wash with organ on “Aphelion.” It’s a vast reach, and with 14 tracks and a 55-minute runtime, Suns of Thyme have plenty of chance to get where they’re going, but the dynamic between the psych-folk of “Val Verde” and the drift of closing duo “Kirwani” and “Kirwani II” and the push of the earlier “Deep Purple Rain” impresses both in theory and practice alike. The task ahead of them would seem to be to meld these influences together further as they move forward, but there’s something satisfying about having no idea what’s coming next after the proggy sway of “Schweben,” and that’s worth appreciating as it is.

Suns of Thyme on Thee Facebooks

Suns of Thyme at Napalm Records

 

Fungal Abyss, Karma Suture

fungal-abyss-karma-suture

Two huge, side-consuming slabs of primordial improvised heavy psychedelia making up a 45-minute LP with a pun title and enough wash throughout that I don’t even feel dirty looking at it? Yeah, there really isn’t a time when I don’t feel ready to sign on for weirdo exploratory stuff like that which Seattle’s Fungal Abyss elicit on Karma Suture. Available as a 12” on Adansonia Records, the album brings together “Perfumed Garden” (22:12) and “Virile Member” (23:22), both sprawling, massive jams that launch almost immediately and are gone for the duration. Way gone. I won’t discount the consumption that takes place on side A, but I think my absolute favorite part of Karma Suture might be the guitar lead on “Virile Member,” which about eight minutes in starts to lose its way and you can actually hear the band come around and pick it back up to an exciting swing. It’s moments like that one that make a group like Fungal Abyss exciting. Not only are they able to right their direction when they need to, but they’re brave enough to put the whole thing on record: as raw and genuine as it gets.

Fungal Abyss on Thee Facebooks

Adansonia Records website

 

Wicked Gypsy, Wicked Gypsy

wicked-gypsy-wicked-gypsy

It’s an encouraging and unpretentious start that Malaysian four-piece Wicked Gypsy make on their self-titled, self-released three-song EP. In the 22-minute span of “Wicked Gypsy,” “Heavy Eyes” and “Gypsy Woman,” the band – vocalist/guitarist Mahmood Ahmad, bassist Mohd Azam, keyboardist Azyan Idayu and drummer Ahmad Afiq – bring together influences from modern doom and classic heavy rock, Idayu’s keys providing a distinct ‘70s flair to the opener while Azam’s wah bass and of course a liberal dose of rifffing from Ahmad lead a proto-metallic charge in “Heavy Eyes,” topped with gritty vocals reciting lyrics about smoking weed, black magic, the devil, etc. What one really hears in these tracks is Wicked Gypsy’s initial exploration of dark-themed doom rock, and while the going is rough in its sound, that adds to the appeal, and the drum solo/progressive flourish worked into “Gypsy Woman” speaks well of where they’re headed as they walk the Sabbathian path.

Wicked Gypsy on Thee Facebooks

Wicked Gypsy on Soundcloud

 

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

Friday Full-Length: The Groundhogs, Split

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 30th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

The Groundhogs, Split (1971)

They didn’t, by the way, split. At least not immediately. Having formed in the early ’60s and cut their teeth as the UK backing band for none other than John Lee Hooker himself — because if you’re going to learn how to do boogie blues right, you go to the source — The Groundhogs went on to construct a history as varied, complicated and hyper-populated as the best heavy rock acts of their generation. Their fourth album, 1971’s Split, was released on Liberty Records and is probably their most known work. Put together by the lineup of guitarist/vocalist Tony McPhee, bassist Peter Cruickshank and drummer Ken Pustelnik during a pivotal run as a power trio between 1969 and 1972, it’s marked out by its four-part opening title-track, a rare chronicle of mental illness that neither romanticizes nor stigmatizes, but represents in a series of ups and downs and a move into and through chaotic noise the tumult that people still consider taboo to discuss openly some 45 years later. It’s not necessarily doing this in a showy way — primarily, “Split” and the album that bears its name are geared toward the simple mission of rocking out — but it’s doing it all the same, and coming from a more sincere place than many at the time building off the idea that “crazy” was something cool to be.

And while the titular cut consumed all of side A, it was by no means all Split had to offer. “Cherry Red” began a thrust of four more straightforward tracks, giving a raucous, falsetto-topped start to that progression in which one can hear the roots of any number of ’70s-inspired acts from Graveyard to The Golden Grass, McPhee‘s dream-toned lead work a highlight backed by Pustelnik‘s manic snare and Cruickshank‘s warm runs on bass. For aficionados of the era, there’s a lot about this period of The Groundhogs that will ring familiar, but no question they were hitting harder than most at this point, and in the time when rock first really began to get heavy, Split makes a convincing argument for inclusion among the most vibrant outings of the period. They may not have amassed the same kind of influence as Jethro Tull on prog, or Black Sabbath on metal, or Hawkwind on space rock, but the languid roll of “A Year in the Life,” the scorch of “Junkman”‘s noisy and experimental second half, and the unabashed Hooker-ism of “Groundhog” — a take on the man’s own “Ground Hog Blues” — define something that draws on all of those elements without aping any of them. Those years were infinitely crowded, and one could make a life’s work of exploring all the rock and roll that surfaced between 1968 and 1974, but The Groundhogs are a standout all the way through. Front to back. The way it should be.

As one might expect, different lineups and different offshoots of the band have surfaced over the decades. The Groundhogs‘ last two studio albums were cover records of Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters that surfaced in 1998 and 1999, respectively, but they’ve continued to play shows with McPhee, who also suffered a stroke in 2009, as the remaining original member, and their legacy is obviously one already cast in stone.

Hope you enjoy.

This week, more than most, finds the actual output on the site not at all commensurate to the amount of work done on my part in the back end. What does that mean? Well, it means that hopefully by the time this post goes live the images, links, players, etc. for the Quarterly Review will be completely laid out (as I write this I still need to put together next Friday’s metadata) and ready to roll for this weekend, and I’ll also have at least started to put together an additional full-album stream and review for the new Fatso Jetson record, which since I suck at timing and planning alike also needs to be up on Monday.

My plan is to wake up early tomorrow and Sunday — two more 5AM days, to go with the 5AM days all this week, last week, and so on — and just start banging through as many reviews as I can get done. They’re shorter, obviously, but it’s never not been a challenge anyway, both conceptually and in the sheer amount of work there is, hours in the day and that sort of thing. It’ll get done though. I haven’t flubbed a Quarterly Review yet and don’t intend to start now.

Also next week, look out for the announcement of the next The Obelisk Presents show — it’s a good one; they all are — and an announcement for a new album that Magnetic Eye Records will have out that’s pretty awesome. I don’t have days slated yet, but Mammoth Mammoth and Devil to Pay video premieres are in the works, and there’s a new Narcosatanicos, new La Chinga video and so much more besides that I’m already stressed out just thinking about it, but it’s okay, because apparently this is how I enjoy myself these days. Adulthood is strange. And bald. Bald and strange. Why am I cold all the time?

Complete side note, but I’m also thinking of shaving my beard. All the way down. Starting over. If you have any thoughts in this regard, I’m all ears. Yes, I know it’s the wrong decision. The Patient Mrs. told me that as well. She’s right, too. I feel like it might be the right time for the wrong decision.

Okay, I have work that needs to get done — including for that, you know, job I have and whatnot — so I’m going to sign off on that non-sequitur. I hope you have a great and safe weekend and I hope you check out the forum and the radio stream, which I know you do anyway, because you’re awesome. All the best.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

Tags: , , , , ,