Friday Full-Length: Loop, Heaven’s End

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 6th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Loop, Heaven’s End (1987)

Among the great many other things 2017 will do, it’ll mark 30 years since Loop issued Heaven’s End. It remains an album ahead of its time, our time, the entire concept of time, etc. One has to wonder if the Surrey, UK, trio — then comprised of guitarist/vocalist Robert Hampson, bassist Neil MacKay and drummer John Wills — had any idea the ritualized sensibility that would be read into the blown-out repetitions of “Forever” three decades after the fact of its initial release on Head Records, or that the reverb overdose that “Too Real to Feel” elicits would continue to churn innards over such an expanse of years. Long before Heaven’s End and its two original-era follow-ups, Fade Out (1988) and A Gilded Eternity (1990), were reissued on Reactor Records in 2008, and long before they got back on stage in 2014 for appearances at All Tomorrow’s Parties, Roadburn (review here) and elsewhere, Loop thrived on word of mouth — an organic reputation worthy of the buzzsaw leads on “Straight to Your Heart.” There was never any marketing push, never any major press (until the reissues and reunion, anyway) and for a long time, Hampson — who was the sole remaining founder by the time they were done — was on to other projects, among them Main, and for a brief while, Godflesh.

But it’s perhaps by virtue of being so out of step with their era, their place, this dimension, and so on, Loop have proven to be so haunting. The samples of HAL9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey peppered throughout the title-track of Heaven’s End and closer “Carry Me” — the record finishes with the spoken line “my mind is going,” when in fact it sounds like the mind and everything else has long since melted away — seem almost quaint now, but the take-acid-worship-cosmos context was entirely different. Consider Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan (consider, for that matter, Theresa May and Donald Trump; could be time for a new Loop full-length in 2017) and the dawning of neo-conservatism. Where culture all around them was looking backward and trying to recapture a period it felt sentimental for that never actually existed, Loop turned the impulse on its head and looked back in an attempt to capture the most resonant freakouts of the original psychedelic years circa 1967 to 1971, bringing that swirl and drive to opener “Soundhead” as a clarion to those already on their wavelength and a strong argument for conversion of the otherwise willing. In a time when alternative rock was getting its feet wet in the underground as it prepared for a commercial takeover in the next decade, Loop stepped outside even those bounds and brazenly revitalized dripping-wet psych in what, 30 years later, still sounds like a reminder of how often our universe exists in boxes of its own making.

They weren’t the only band playing psychedelic rock at the time, or garage rock, proto-gaze, or whatever else you might want to tag Heaven’s End as being — multiple tags apply, none of them fully — but their influence continues to expand to a new generation of lysergic jammers in Europe and beyond. In 2015, Hampson joined forces with Hugo Morgan and Wayne Maskell of The Heads and guitarist Dan Boyd as a new incarnation of Loop and released the Array 1 12″ and toured the US before stepping back into the murk of inactivity. As recently as Oct. 2016, Hampson — who’s also been playing solo shows under the moniker Low — has hinted at Loop doings for 2017, and indeed the band is booked alongside SwansThe Fall and Royal Trux at a festival dubbed Transformer this coming May in Manchester, UK. As he put it, “Basically, things went south all at once and it was not the right time to simply deal with everything at once and it hit us financially a great deal too… A rest was needed and even tho’ ill-timed (Loop Law) it was unavoidable. I’m glad to be able to tell you that there are chinks of light and we do plan to resurface next year in 2017. I hope that the unfinished Array project will also see its fruition in some form. But… it’s early days yet to say too much and make promises that might not be able to keep. We haven’t gone, we just sat down and took stock.”

Fair enough. Whatever Loop wind up bringing to bear this year or don’t, their mark on heavy psychedelia remains indelible, and Heaven’s End, as the first step in the pivotal trio of offerings, is a crucial piece of understanding the impact of which is still fleshing out. Call it acid philosophy.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

I went back to work this week after having vacation between Xmas and New Year’s. It wasn’t easy, it wasn’t fun, but it happened and the week is almost over, so I suppose I survived. Not always by choice. By Wednesday afternoon I was praying to Apollo — god of pianos, among other things — to drop one on my head. As usual, silence in return.

The good news. What’s the good news? Hell if I know.

Well, I guess the good news is the All That is Heavy sponsorship deal (detailed here) got an encouraging response. If you haven’t yet, you should take advantage of that whole 15-percent-off thing, as it’s pretty sweet. For what it’s worth, I’m planning on filling a cart as well. There’s always something I want to pick up.

So there. That’s some positivity.

Also got confirmation that I’ll be at Roadburn again this year, working on the Weirdo Canyon Dispatch for the fourth year in a row, which is amazing and humbling and was pretty much what made all that time otherwise spent piano-wishing on Wednesday worthwhile.

And I’m looking forward to a recuperation weekend of sitting on ass with The Patient Mrs. as we continue to make our way through Final Fantasy XV together, and I got a fancy new coffeemaker from my family for Xmas that seems to specialize in pure caffeinated joy, so yeah, okay, not so bad.

Pep talk accomplished. Thanks for being a witness.

Next week also looks pretty sweet. Here’s what’s lined up as of now (subject to change, of course):

Mon.: Radio Adds (it’s been so long!), Elephant Tree tour news and a Pater Nembrot video premiere.
Tue.: Lo-Pan track premiere and review of their new EP, In Tensions.
Wed.: Premiere of Kings Destroy‘s new single-song EP, None More.
Thu.: Full-album stream of the new Aathma.
Fri.: Long-overdue Sergio Ch. review and a Funeral Horse video premiere.

There’s more to come, of course, but that’s the basic sketch I’m going from for now. I hope whatever you’re up to over the next couple days, you have a great and safe weekend. Back here on Monday, and please don’t forget to check out the forum and the radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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Loop to Release Array 1 EP this Summer; First New Music in 25 Years

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 23rd, 2015 by JJ Koczan

loop

Further proof of how deeply the adage of never-say-never applies to rock and roll. Loop, classic logo and all, have a new EP coming this summer. Array 1 will see release through ATP Recordings, the label arm of the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival, and will be the first new stuff to come from the Robert Hampson-led outfit since 1990, which if you’ve lost count, was 25 years ago. Twenty-five.

Loop have been doing live shows for over a year now — they killed in 2014 at Roadburn and Hampson did likewise this year sitting in with Hugo MorganWayne Maskell and Simon Poole (all also of The Heads) for a Kandodo set — but new studio material is something different entirely. Morgan and Maskell and guitarist Dan Boyd join Hampson in Loop, and Array 1 promises to be the first in a series of outings from the revived underground legends.

Info follows, courtesy the PR wire:

loop array 1

Loop Announces First New Material in 25 Years, Upcoming Shows

New ‘Array 1’ EP Available 6.22 Digital, 7.24 Physical on ATP

Towards the end of 2013 saw the reformation of one of the most revered and respected late 80’s UK alternative bands, LOOP. The group, founded by Robert Hampson, hadn’t played together since the early 90’s but got together to curate a night at the legendary All Tomorrow’s Parties at Camber Sands. US dates followed in 2014 and they then got back in the studio to start recording. The result is three brand new releases coming over the next year which see the band return to their hugely unique and era defining sound whilst sounding fresh and exciting.

The first release is ‘Array 1’, four tracks and 32 mins of haunting, aggressive, beautiful noise. ‘Precession’, ‘Aphelion’, ‘Coma’ and ‘Radial’ are the first songs to be heard from their recording session done in Sub Station Studios in Rosyth in Scotland with the current line up of Robert Hampson (vocals/guitar), Hugo Morgan (bass), Wayne Maskell (drums) and Dan Boyd (guitar). With only an early version of ‘Precession’ having had any previous outing (at a show at the Garage in London at the end of 2014), this is the very first new music from the band since their third album, 1990’s lost classic ‘A Gilded Eternity’.

The next tracks will be released in the Autumn in keeping with Loop’s previous habit of putting out music in batches, Hampson describes it as “one project, with the same concept, delivered in bulletins”.

With the music out on 22nd June 2015, this ties in with a show at the Roundhouse in London on 28th June where they are part of the line-up of ATP’s Season at the Roundhouse. The event, curated by post rock band Mogwai to celebrate their 20th Anniversary, will be spread over six nights and see performances from the likes of Public Enemy, GZA, Godspeed You! Black Emperor and The Jesus and Mary Chain.

Tracklisting
A1. Precession
A1. Aphelion
A3. Coma
B1. Radial

https://www.facebook.com/loopbandofficial
http://soundheads.org/
http://www.atpfestival.com/recordings

Loop, “Precession” Live at Relentless Garage 2014

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ROADBURN 2015 DAY ONE: My Good Shepherd

Posted in Features, Reviews on April 9th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

roadburn 2015 day one (Photo by JJ Koczan)

04.09.15 — 23.37 — Thurs. Night — Hotel

Some good Roadburn‘ll cure what ails you. Especially if what ails you — it’s what ails all of us, really — is the fact that the rest of your life isn’t Roadburn. Today was my busiest day, and it felt like it. A lot of back and forth. My dogs, such as they are, are barking. It was an early start and a late-enough finish, though it’s worth noting that the finish could’ve been even later. Solstafir (Photo by JJ Koczan)One has to find balance in these things. It’s a four-day fest. This was day one.

I sat on the backside of the photo-pit barrier before Sólstafir went on. They were opening the fest at 15.00, the same time Bell Witch were taking the stage at Het Patronaat — Roadburn means hard choices, always. I sat there, early, alone, tilted my head back and closed my eyes, took a breath in through my nose and let it out through my mouth. My last quiet moment, you see. I let it go, and a short time later, the Icelandic outfit took the stage, performing a live soundtrack to the 1984 film, also Icelandic, Hrafninn Flýgur (translated: When the Raven Flies). It would be my first time seeing them perform, and my first time seeing the movie, so I was probably at a significant disadvantage to some in the crowd, but essentially I was glad to Solstafir (Photo by JJ Koczan)be seeing the band at all, and knowing they’ve got a regular set scheduled for tomorrow, I went in with a pretty open mind. Whatever they were going to do, I was happy to be watching Sólstafir play. Not the most impartial of attitudes, but I dig the band.

Interestingly, a lot of what they did to accompany the movie, was rework their material as instrumental or atmospheric rock. Parts from last year’s Ótta (review here), the back end of the title-track — a landmark for the album if there ever was one — was distinct as the film went on, subtitles in English at the bottom of the big screen behind the band, who were spread out in a manner almost orchestral on the Main Stage. Maybe not surprising, but their sound fit pretty well with images of revenge-seeking Viking-types on horseback, distant mountains, stone weapons and the like. I’m still not entirely sure what was going on, but even to catch Sólstafir playing parts of their songs, I was glad to see it, and it Salem's Pot (Photo by JJ Koczan)made me look forward to their regular set. They took a bow when they were done, after the credits had rolled, and it seemed like they earned it. Over in the Green Room — the middle-size space, smaller than the 013‘s Main Stage or Het Patronaat, bigger than 013‘s Stage01 or the back of Cul de Sac where the stage is (got all that?) — Salem’s Pot were setting up for a buffet of riffs soon to unfold.

Swing, swing, swing. Swing like madmen, and they dressed the part too, all in masks, one in a dress and fishnets, like a troop of droogs gone stoner cult. The Swedish five-piece released their …Lurar ut dig på prärien debut LP (discussed here) last year on RidingEasy Records, and they had a new song for the Roadburn crowd as well as stuff from the album, which was more than solid in that heavy but kind of familiar way, but took on a different character live. Even apart from the theatrics, I guess so much on …Lurar ut dig på prärien was down to the rhythm, but on stage, the songs had different off-kilter melodies in the guitars, the dual vocals worked more dynamically, and the synth and effects swirl was a major factor in how it all came together. “Creep Purple” and “Nothing Hill” were Floor (Photo by JJ Koczan)rolling-groove highlights, and the shorter “Ego Trip,” released as the A-side of a 7″ last fall, was right on as well. I hate to think I had dismissed them, but in presence and performance, Salem’s Pot exceeded my expectations and not only had swing, swing, swing working in their favor, but a more complex approach overall than I saw coming.

A pleasant surprise, then, even though I kind of knew what they’d get up to. In the next room, the Main Stage was being set up for Floor. Now, I’ve seen Floor a few times at this point, and even since they put out their long-awaited studio comebacker Oblation (review here) about a year ago, and my general rule for Roadburn is that the bands I’ve already seen get low priority. Lower, anyway. The difference with Floor was that I’d been hearing all along about how excited people were to see them. I’m not 100 percent, but I think that until this tour, the trio of guitarist Anthony Vialon, drummer Henry Wilson (also of House of Lightning) and guitarist/vocalist Steve Brooks (also of Torche) had yet to play Europe since getting back together half a decade ago. That would make them, if nothing else, due.

The bomb-toners lived up to what one might’ve hoped for on the big stage. As it will, their 2002 self-titled featured prominently in tSpidergawd (Photo by JJ Koczan)he set, starting off with the one-two-three of “Scimitar,” “Return to Zero” and “Downed Star,” Brooks and Vialon pushing out now-classic riffs as Wilson seemed to drum with his whole body behind the kit. The guitarists kept a more quiet presence, Brooks here and there on stage, moving with the music but hardly thrashing about, and Vialon more or less still in a zen-through-volume kind of fashion, but the thrust of those songs is undeniable, and as they moved into “Dove” and “Night Full of Kicks” and Oblation cuts like “Trick Scene” and “Find Away” and “The Key,” they kept their momentum, fast or lumbering. “Tales of Lolita” is always a good time, and it worked well next to the thudding “The Quill,” and closing duo “Loanin'” and “Triangle Song” wrapped up to ensure that no bases were left uncovered. They weren’t, and yeah, I’ve seen Floor before, but there was no question doing so again was the right choice.

That said, there was no way in hell I was missing Spidergawd. Largely unknown in the States, and I think known mostly to those in Europe who’ve heard their two Stickman/Crispin Glover Records LPs to date — 2014’s Spidergawd (review here) and 2015’s Spidergawd II (review here) — because of their affiliation with Norwegian prog magnates Motorpsycho, whose bassist, Bent Sæther, and drummer, Kenneth Kapstad, double in the more boogie-oriented outfit alongside saxophonist/vocalist Rolf Martin Snustad and guitarist/vocalist Per Borten, who is related to but not to be confused with a former Norwegian prime minister of the same name. Spidergawd were aSpidergawd (Photo by JJ Koczan) must-see for me. One of several, but a must-see all the same, and they delivered all the way in the energy and upbeat feel of their songs. By the time they got down to “Fixin’ to Die Blues” from the new record, maybe three songs in, they had Het Patronaat eating out of their hands.

And rightly so. I saw a lot of music today and I’ll see a lot more before this weekend’s out, but I don’t know if anyone will give off a genuinely-happy-to-be-here vibe as much as Spidergawd did, still managing to both groove and be heavy while enjoying themselves. Their spirit was infectious, as are their hooks, and though it was hot in the church — damn hot — they had no letup, SnustadKapstad and Borten up front on the stage while Sæther played behind in a curious configuration, but one that obviously works for them. They’re a band more people should know, based solely on the merit of what they play and how they play it, never mind anyone’s pedigree or anything like that. They lit that room up, closing with the Thin Lizzy-style “Sanctuary” from Spidergawd II as if to portend even better things to come. They’ve been working quickly over the course of their first two records, and hopefully it’s not long before a third surfaces as well. The more the merrier.

Uzala (Photo by JJ Koczan)I stopped by to see some of Primitive Man through the door of the Green Room before they finished. Unsurprisingly they were punishing as fuck. Floor had started something of a bang-bang-bang for the rest of my night, one to the next to the next, and I had planned on catching a bit of Uzala in the Green Room and moving on to the next set, but once they went on, the Boise, Idaho, three-piece held me in place. I didn’t know it at the time, but they were just what I was looking for. Guitarist Chad Remains, guitarist Darcy Nutt (also running her guitar through a bass rig, for extra low-end) and drummer Chuck Watkins had a new song in tow called “The Gallows,” and that moved a little faster than some of their more plodding material from 2014’s righteous Tales of Blood and Fire, songs like “Dark Days” and “Seven Veils,” but wherever they headed, they were just the right blend of beat-you-over-the-head heaviness in Remains and Nutt‘s tones, melody and lurching groove that I couldn’t have left even if I’d wanted to. They were not to be missed, in other words. Vocals were a little low, at least up front where I was standing, but Nutt has a powerful voice and as dense as those tones got — seriously, there were parts where they sounded like a machine grinding to a halt; I wondered how they’d restart it for the next measure — she cut through with little trouble and palpable soul.

Their set was a highlight of the day for me, all the more because I’d seen them before, knew what I Uzala (Photo by JJ Koczan)was getting into and they still managed to surprise with how switched on they were. Remains shredded his solos in top form and had some technical trouble along the way that was fixed so promptly by the Green Room crew that I’m not even sure he noticed. Only complaint? No “Tenement of the Lost.” The closer from Tales of Blood and Fire that begins with a wash of feedback and culminates in one of the sweetest minimalist doom ballads my ears have heard in the last five years — it’s my go-to sad song — would’ve certainly been welcome, but honestly, I think the maximum-volume approach they took was probably a more practical call given the room. I could’ve gone to see Russian Circles on the Main Stage, or Thou at Het Patronaat, or Moaning Cities, whose merch I later looked for and could not find, in Stage01, but Uzala kept me where I was. They were a thrill to watch.

Somewhere in there, it would’ve made sense to have dinner. I did not. No time. Wovenhand would be on the Main Stage shortly, and I knew that was where I wanted to be. It was a return appearance for them and the second time I’d have seen them at Roadburn — never seen them anywhere else, come to think of it — but as I consider the set they played in 2011 a personal landmark, as in, “before I saw it” and “after I saw it,” I’d been very much anticipating their arrival. They were Wovenhand (Photo by JJ Koczan)headliners this time along with Eyehategod, who’d play the Main Stage afterwards, but Wovenhand had the longer set, and put their 80 minutes to use in the most dynamic manner I saw all day, frontman David Eugene Edwards far to the left side of the stage while drummer Ordy Garrison had the middle, and guitarist/backing vocalist Chuck French and bassist Neil Keener anchored the right. Edwards is among the more charismatic stage presences I’ve ever seen, and though he said before they ended that they knew they were “out of their league” in coming back to Roadburn, I felt more like I was out of mine watching them.

Last year’s Refractory Obdurate (review here) featured prominently in their set, which opened with “Hiss,” arguably their heaviest work to-date. Ultimately, it would be a much different kind of intensity they brought than four years ago, when Edwards, seated, laid bare a deeply spiritual — religious, Christian — neo-folk,Wovenhand (Photo by JJ Koczan) worldly in its arrangements and deeper than the eye could follow. Standing, the vocalist/guitarist still had a feather in his hat and still taunted or teased the audience in a kind of war-whoop, but he also softshoed while he played, and Wovenhand this time around was a much more stripped-down, rawer, meaner-toned outfit. Garrison‘s drums, aided now and then by some extra percussion by French, were a driving force, and the seething energy of their rhythm could be felt throughout the main hall, whether they happened to be raging at the time, as in “Hiss,” or engaged in a more quiet brooding, à la “Closer” from 2012’s The Laughing Stalk (review here). Opener “Long Horn” from that album was also a highlight, and I was amazed what a few years could do for band like that progressing in unexpected ways and pursuing different avenues of sound. “Good Shepherd” lacked nothing for its melody, but even that had a coinciding element of pummel.

It was to the point where, I knew I wanted to see Monolord. I’d wanted to see Monolord all along, Monolord (Photo by JJ Koczan)and they were playing Het Patronaat at the same time Wovenhand were on the Main Stage — Roadburn giveth and Roadburn scheduleth conflicteth. I left Wovenhand and went down the block to the other venue just as Monolord were going on. How heavy were they? They were superlatively heavy. A monumental sonic impact that seemed to hit all at once, as though the guitar and bass were also kick drums. It was ridiculous, and the line outside the Patronaat was backed up the longest I’d seen it yet to get in, but as I stood there and watched them, I couldn’t take the fact that Wovenhand were playing Roadburn and I wasn’t in the same room where it was happening. Monolord slayed the place, absolutely. I saw people coming out of there when they were done and they looked even more in a daze than usual. But me, I had to back and watch Wovenhand finish. They were too good to let it pass. And when they were done, they came back out and did an encore. Fucking a.

My evening was more or less done Kandodo (Photo by JJ Koczan)and I knew it, but when Wovenhand finished their encore, I swung back to Het Patronaat to watch some of Kandodo, who are led by guitarist Simon Price of The Heads and were doing a special set with Robert Hampson of Loop sitting in as part of The Heads‘ residency. I didn’t know what that collaboration might bring, but it brought a fervent run of heavy psychedelia that was perfect for me to close out the night. They started in the dark, Price and Hampson on guitar on opposite sides of the stage, bassist Hugo Morgan (also The Heads) and drummer Wayne Maskell (also also The Heads) between, but the lights gradually came up as they jammed their way through a first song — read as “Kandy Rock” on the setlist — and into the next. Watching them made me want to buy many albums, I’ll say that, but time was getting on and I had a review to write, so I cut out after a bit and made my way back to the hotel. It was a mindbender of a first day, but I know there is still much more to come over this weekend.

More pics after the jump.

Read more »

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Roadburn 2015: Robert Hampson of Loop, BardSpec, Abrahma, Gnaw Their Tongues, Death Penalty and More Added to Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 29th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

roadburn-2015-banner

Holy shit, Roadburn. Where the hell are you putting all these bands?

I knew there were a few more adds to come from Roadburn 2015, but to get another 20-plus in a single shot is something of a surprise. Take it as a reminder of the scale of this thing and of the beast that Roadburn 2015 has become and how, with five stages across three venues, it seems ever more on the march to consume the whole town center of Tilburg in the Netherlands. To call it astounding feels like underselling it.

Today, in addition to posting this massive round of adds to Roadburn 2015, I’m happy to announce that I’ll be covering the festival for the seventh time and, for the second year in a row, serving as editor of the in-fest ‘zine, the Weirdo Canyon Dispatch, working with The Sleeping Shaman’s Lee Edwards as in 2014 to bring a daily publication to life for each day of the fest. I’m thrilled to be involved in the Roadburn crew in this small way again and can’t wait to get to work again with Lee and a host of writers way more talented than myself at putting this thing together. In fact, I think I’ll get started now.

While I do that, here’s the latest from Roadburn. If you’re wondering why I grabbed the Moaning Cities Bandcamp stream for the bottom of the post out of all the bands added today — AbrahmaBardSpecDeath Penalty, Robert Hampson of Loop, the entire nation of Belgium, etc. — it’s because every year there’s one band at Roadburn that I wind up kicking myself in the ass for missing, and going by what I’ve checked out so far of Moaning Cities‘ Pathways through the Sail, I don’t want it to be them. Call it a reminder to myself.

Okay, here’s that info:

New additions announced including ‘Roadburn Festival Introduces’ act, and artists for curated event

Roadburn Festival is pleased to announce new additions to the 20th edition of the festival. The festival will take place April 9th-12th in Tilburg, The Netherlands. Both day tickets and weekend tickets are currently on sale.

More details confirmed for curated event

Roadburn 2015’s curators Wardruna’s Einar “Kvitrafn” Selvik and Enslaved’s Ivar Bjørnson have almost completed the line up for their event on Friday April 10. Loop main man, Robert Hampson and Swedish psych heroes, Agusa will both perform alongside Focus, Death Hawks, Sólstafir and others. BardSpec – the Ambient project/band from Enslaved composer/guitarist Ivar – will also perform at the event. Einar will present a workshop which will delve into his approach to music and the extensive creative concept behind Wardruna´s ongoing ‘Runaljod’ trilogy as well as his approach and study of the runes and other Norse esoteric arts. He will demonstrate a selection of the oldest Nordic instruments, play fully accoustic Wardruna music and there will also be time for questions from the audience.

For information on Robert Hampson, CLICK HERE
For information on Agusa, CLICK HERE
For information on BardSpec, CLICK HERE
For information on Einar Selvik, CLICK HERE

‘Roadburn Festival Introduces’ & Belgium focus

This year, ‘Roadburn Festival Introduces’ will focus on Belgium. Over the years, Belgium has become a hotbed of musical creativity, ranging from indie to garage rock, and virtually everything in between. Whether it’s a dark, psychedelic slant, an insatiable need to worship thee riff, or even developing a cult of their own, only to lure us into their spiraling-netherworld… there’s something about these bands that embodies the spirit of Roadburn.
The mysterious and yet bizarre Belgian band, Briqueville, will connect with the Roadburn community at the 013 on Saturday, April 11th.

In keeping with the Belgian theme, Brussels-based Moaning Cities, will bring their fuzzed-out, and sitar-driven psychedelia to Stage01 on Thursday, April 9th.
In collaboration with one of Belgium’s foremost bookings agencies, RuffStuffMusic, we offer Your Highness, King Hiss, Tangled Horns, Ashtoreth, and Miava an outlet in front of the receptive and open-minded Roadburn crowd on Saturday, April 11th at Cul de Sac. These up and coming talents richly deserve their place in the Roadburn line up and we’re thrilled to host such exciting, cutting edge bands as these alongside Roadburn’s established acts.

For more information on Briqueville, CLICK HERE
For more information on Moaning Cities, CLICK HERE
For more information on RuffStuffMusic: Your Highness, King Hiss, Tangled Horns, Ashtoreth, and Miava, CLICK HERE

New Additions to Line Up

The lineup for for Cul de Sac, the intimate music cafe, and Roadburn’s official fifth stage, located across from the 013 venue, is shaping up very nicely. We’re aiming to present four to five bands on each of the four days, Thursday through Sunday.

It is with enormous pride that Roadburn gets to announce a truly unique performance as Gnaw Their Tongues will bring their groundbreaking noise/doom/black metal assault to the festival on Sunday April 12th. Joining them will be torchbearers of French heavy rock, Paris-based Abrahma, Tilburg’s very own IZAH, and high octane Swedish rockers, Hypnos.

Today, we’re also excited to report that Verbum Verus, the Dutch black metal band, known for their intense live performances, will shroud Roadburn Festival in darkness with their hymns of praise on Thursday, April 9. We’re very pleased to announce that Big Naturals, Salope, City of Ships and Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell will complete the Friday lineup at Cul de Sac. And, given how fond we are of Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell, we’ve invited them to do two performances; they will also play the Green Room on Sunday, April 12.

Back over at the 013, we will have the riff-heavy Death Penalty playing on Saturday, April 11th – featuring ex-members of Cathedral and Serpentcult, this is going to be one show you don’t want to miss.

For more information on Gnaw Their Tongues, CLICK HERE
For more information on Abrahma, IZAH & Hypnos, CLICK HERE
For more information on Verbum Verus, CLICK HERE
For more information on City of Ships, Big Naturals etc, CLICK HERE
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Moaning Cities, Pathways through the Sail (2014)

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Roadburn 2014 Day Three: “I Know Where to Go…”

Posted in Features, Reviews on April 13th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

04.13.14 — 07:28 — Sunday morning — Hotel Mercure, Tilburg

Morning in Tilburg. Got back to the hotel last night and tried to get writing immediately but kept falling asleep at the keyboard. I’d wake up a couple seconds later and find a string of semi-colons a line long. It’s been a while since that happened. It finally came to the point where I semi-consciously reasoned that I’d be better off sleeping than having it take seven times as long to write because I couldn’t stay awake. I guess we’ll see how the reasoning works out.

Roadburn 2014 Day Three started for me more or less immediately after I closed the lid of my laptop in the afternoon. It was a day of kickass bands, noble intentions, and in my case, dragging ass. Some tough decisions. Will it be Indian or Old Man Gloom, Loop or -(16)-? Mansion or Horisont? A lot depended on my energy level at any given second, and a telling moment was when during YOB I was upstairs on the balcony of the Main Stage room and I opened the package of a protein bar only to have it be broken and two-thirds of it fall out of the wrapper onto the floor. Oh, I was a sad little monkey. I went and got myself dinner and said it was going to be okay. And it was, but for a second there the god damn world was about to end.

Better news is that all the bands I saw yesterday completely destroyed. In very different ways, to be sure. I watched more full sets than in the prior two days, bands like Noothgrush, Gozu, YOB, and Old Man Gloom offering thrills to the dedicated many who stuck around for the duration. When Noothgrush came out to open the Main Stage, vocalist Dino Sommese — in addition to referring to his band as “DIY punk; kinda angry, kinda slow” and backing up his punker perspective by talking some shit on corporate sponsorship — set about unleashing some of the nastiest screams I’ve heard the whole festival. Real, crusty, sludge. It wasn’t “post-” anything. It was visceral.

They’re a West Coast band, were gone for a while and came back a couple years ago. 11Paranoias were on at Het Patronaat, but Noothgrush set the tone for the day in both their unbridled riff-led filth and the fact that it compelled me to stay where I was for just about the whole time. Admittedly, I did poke my head into the Green Room to check out the beginning of Monster Truck — stoner rock; good for the soul — but from there I basically sat tight until Gozu were going on in the Green Room. For them, Roadburn 2014 is the start of a European tour that’ll go until they hit Desertfest in a couple weeks, and for me, it was a pleasure to watch them kill it so hard in that space.

Because that’s the thing about Roadburn. Well, one of the things. You can see a band 100 times, then see them at Roadburn and know it’s different. I’ve had that happen in years past and it was the same with Gozu. Every band is on top of their game and from the lights to the sound to the projections behind, the 013 crew is so professional that it all looks and sounds great. I could not tell you how many times I’ve seen those dudes — Marc Gaffney, Douglas Allen Sherman, Joe Grotto and Mike Hubbard — play a song like “Meat Charger” from 2010’s Locust Season (review here). I suppose it’s less with this lineup, but still, no matter how many more times I catch Gozu at places in Boston, I will have seen them at Roadburn and know that means something.

I had a moment with Gozu similar to watching Hull the other day, and I realized that it was being happy for hometown guys making good at Roadburn, and that’s the first time I’ve really thought of Boston as being my hometown as well as New York (or New Jersey, but in the Netherlands, you just say New York). One more reason the 2014 fest is special to me. Getting to see YOB twice — and getting to hear their forthcoming album, Clearing the Path to Ascend, didn’t hurt either. It’s their third time here, and each time, the Eugene, Oregon, trio have played two sets, which is efficient if nothing else. Yesterday was The Great Cessation in full. Seems redundant to say it was fantastic, or at least needless, but YOB on the Main Stage at Roadburn. If there’s ever a band who ever fit in a place, it’s them and there. What a pleasure to watch.

The Great Cessation I would count as the angriest of YOB‘s record, and especially in the context of hearing the new record a couple hours before, it’s material and a method of writing they’ve progressed beyond. Anger is still a factor, but The Great Cessation is so rife with disappointment, with frustration and rage. Of course that only made the songs more vicious. I was genuinely surprised when I walked out from the balcony to go back downstairs and closer to the front that it was still day outside. If anything was ever going to darken the sky, it would have to be “Silence of Heaven.” I look forward to seeing them again today and to becoming acquainted with their new songs. The second track on Clearing the Path to Ascend has some of the most furious drums I’ve ever heard from Travis Foster. We’re talking Through Silver in Blood-level. Can’t wait to see that live.

There was a bit of a break before Old Man Gloom went on. I thought I’d check out Carlton Melton instead, but they’re doing a jam with Dr. Space today and I started remembering the good times I had with Seminar II: The Holy Rites of Primitivism Regressionism and stuck it out in the Main Stage room. I haven’t listened to much Old Man Gloom since, and probably should’ve picked up their 2012 return outing, No, but for funds. They were fairly incredible and, as I thought just about no one would be able to do, managed to follow YOB. That shouldn’t be such a surprise with the all-star lineup of guitarist/vocalist Aaron Turner (Isis), guitarist/vocalist Nate Newton (Converge), bassist/vocalist Caleb Schofield (Cave In) and Santos Montano (Zozobra), but at one point I had to stop and say to myself, “So this is probably what it was like to see Neurosis 15 years ago.” Not a bad response for a band to evoke. “To Carry the Flame” from No was a particular highlight, and had me wondering if Roadburn might see an Isis reunion maybe in 2015 or sometime in the future beyond.

Part of the appeal of seeing Old Man Gloom was that I’ve never seen them before and may or may not ever get to see them again. That’s what kept me there the whole time. With Finland’s Mansion, the situation was similar. Their 2013 We Shall Live EP (review here) intrigued with its cultish leanings and semi-psychedelic churn and the new single Congregation Hymns Vol. 1 has only furthered interest. Dressed all in black, in turtlenecks save for their bassist, who had a button-down (heathen!), Mansion projected religious righteousness well, and that’s cool since it’s part of their aesthetic, but it was really the songs I was there for. Vocalist Alma Mansion had a calm intensity that came to bursts of energy in the title-track from the EP, the band behind her following suit in both atmosphere and presence. I think a lot of people were getting ready for Loop to hit the Main Stage, but the Green Room was still pretty full as Mansion got going, and they delivered something I’ve seen no one else here have on offer. Chalk their new single on my list of records I wish I’d bought.

To be fair, Loop are touring the US this coming week — especially after seeing them play here, I can’t help but think that’s the wrong choice, and not because of the band– but to see them headline at Roadburn, particularly after their reunion came about following Loop guitarist/vocalist Robert Hampson sitting in with Godflesh last year, seemed fitting. I won’t profess to be an expert on Loop‘s records, Heaven’s End and A Gilded Eternity are certainly top quality psych-gaze and were decades ahead of their time, but they’re not something I put on every day or every week, so for me it was more about just watching the band and seeing Loop for what they brought to the show. They seemed aware of the gravity of the situation, but handled themselves expertly and where Old Man Gloom had been about bombast and urgency, Loop were a more patient, gradual vibe. It worked well, but I was about ready to close out the night and so headed over to Het Patronaat for the first time of the day to catch Los Angeles noise rockers -(16)-.

I caught wind of Zoloft Smile around the time it was released, and the sludgy outfit’s return over the last several years has only furthered appreciation. They were West Coast hardcore intense, but with thicker tones right on the edge where noise rolls into sludge. Fast. Mean. Loud. Perfect for Het Patronaat‘s relatively compact stage, incredible volume and otherworldly vibe, the stained glass church windows, woodwork, all of it covered in -(16)-‘s spilled guts. They were a steamroller from word one, vocalist Cris Jerue bounding from one side of the stage to the next while founding guitarist Bobby Ferry and the relatively recently-added rhythm section of bassist Barney Firks and drummer Dion Thurman did likewise. Their energy was infectious, and brought fitting symmetry to the crust with which Noothgrush had started my day.

That bookend in mind, I decided it was time to call it a night and headed back to the hotel, exhausted by grinning. Today is the Afterburner, which cuts the number of stage from five to three, and while it’s supposed to be the laid back finish to Roadburn similar to how the Hard Rock Hideout on Wednesday eased attendees into the festival mindset, I’ve got no real letup in terms of bands I want to see, from Selim Lemouchi’s Enemies honoring the fallen The Devil’s Blood guitarist to YOB again and Triptykon. Plus a fanzine to put together. Much to do this last day here. I better get to it.

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Loop Reunite to Headline Roadburn 2014

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 10th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

One band in and already Roadburn has stepped up its game. Long-defunct psychedelic rock masters Loop — who were blissing out at a time when even the edgiest of heavy rockers wouldn’t dare come close — will reform to headline the 2014 installment of the premiere Dutch festival for heavy rock, psych, doom and whatever else they feel like booking.

Loop mainman Robert Hampson did a solo set and performed there with Godflesh earlier this year, so his presence isn’t entirely without precedent, but with the revelation that Loop will get back together for Roadburn 2014, the fest promises to continue delivering an experience like nothing else in the world.

Here’s the announcement, followed by a full stream of Loop‘s 1987 full-length debut, Heaven’s End, which, if it came out in 2013 would still be groundbreaking:

Kosmische Drone-Rock Legends Loop To Headline Roadburn Festival 2014

We’re ecstatic, nearly speechless, to be able to announce that recently reunited kosmische drone-rock legends Loop will be the main headliner of Roadburn 2014, which is set for April 10 -13 at the 013 venue in Tilburg, The Netherlands.

Formed in London by mainman Robert Hampson in 1986, Loop fused the repetitive, rhythmic sturm und drang of the krautrock scene, NY minimalist synth-scuzz duo Suicide and the experimental sounds of cutting edge modern composers Rhys Chatham and Glenn Branca with the guitar-driven sonic attack of bands like The Velvet Undergound, The Stooges and MC5. Instead of a psychedelic 60’s love-in, Loop’s sound encapsulated the dark heart of the decade, the summer of love as a universe collapsing on itself, a black hole that became a pulsing void.

The band’s trancelike, sometimes claustrophobic soundscapes, delivered by Robert Hampson (vocals, guitars), Neil MacKay (bass), Scott Dowson (guitars) and John Wills (drums), and characterised by the spectral vocals of Hampson buried beneath layers of fuzz and wah-wah, have made a lasting imprint on the likes of Neurosis, Electric Wizard, Sunn O))) and countless others, as well as the Roadburn Festival itself.

From the first iteration, Roadburn has been covering contemporary, acid drenched psychedelia with Loop’s revelatory, sonic pummel – best heard on their seminal albums Heaven’s End, Fade Out and A Gilded Eternity – as an artistic blueprint for the festival.

One of the high-points of Roadburn 2013 was Hampson performing Loop’s ‘Straight To Your Heart’ with Godflesh as part of their ‘Pure’ performance, marking his return to both Godflesh and to rock guitar for the first time in 20 years.

When Loop’s reunion was announced by Hampson, only a few days after his soon-to-be-legendary performance with Godflesh, we nearly had a nervous breakdown and we’re deliriously excited that the Roadburn Festival will finally come full circle with Loop’s headline performance at Roadburn 2014 on Saturday, April 12th.

In other news, tickets for next year’s edition of the Roadburn festival will go on sale Friday, October 11. More info will follow shortly.

Please visit www.roadburn.com for more info.

Loop, Heaven’s End (1987)

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Mundee Loop

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 30th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

I’d have posted the above clip for “This is Where You End” by underrated late-’80s psych rockers Loop before I cut out on Friday, but a call came in and I had to split on the quick to go look at a potential house to rent. Like most of the places The Patient Mrs. and I have seen so far, it was a dump. A dump on the outside of what we can afford for rent. It’s been about two months now that we’ve been looking in earnest for a place to move from where we are currently, and it’s been demoralizing on any number of levels.

This house (2 beds, 1 bath) in particular I’d called the guy on last week to see if I could see it, and it wasn’t ready yet, but he’d have it good to go by the weekend. I was supposed to go Saturday, but Friday at 4PM, as I’m sitting at my desk at work basically just waiting to leave, I got the call and he was like, “There are other people coming at 6:30, so if you want to see the house first, you need to come now.” Kind of bullshit, but not really out of line. At least he called and offered the chance.

So I hauled ass home, vacuumed a couple rugs because company was coming (which only added to the rush factor) and picked up The Patient Mrs. to go check it out. Turns out it’s right on the banks of the mighty Passaic River in a town called Wayne. Flood zone. “How long’s the place been unoccupied?” “Since the hurricane.” Gradually it came out that every spring it gets about a foot of water and you have to park up at the pub at the end of the street. Might as well live there.

It was a decently private piece of property, but basically just waiting for the government to come in, declare it unlivable because of flooding, and buy up the land, which would put us out on our asses anyway. In the meantime, a ceiling leak here, a hole in the wall there, a few ants crawling around the kitchen so narrow you can’t open the fridge door without bumping it into the stove, and “Thanks, we’ll be in touch” as we walk out and the next round of potential suckers willing to shell out $1200 a month to breathe in that kind of mold come in. The floors were soft. How am I supposed to put my CD collection on a floor that feels like stepping on wet cardboard?

That was Friday after work. That night and Saturday were a bit lighter of spirit (though heavy of beer) with some good friends come north for the evening and staying over until Saturday night, and then Sunday was work. Ultimately, it was a fast weekend, but good for the soul despite any real estate woes. There’s another place we’re going to look at this week. I’m pretty sure it also is in the same flood zone. Beware of places near rivers advertising their new kitchens.

Hope you have a great week. In a little bit I’ll have my review of The Company Band‘s gig from last Thursday in Philly posted, and we’ll do another Album of the Summer of the Week as well. Tomorrow marks the premiere of Ben Ward‘s long-awaited column, and on Wednesday I’ll be putting up a full stream of the new release by Portland dueling-bass specialists Lamprey. Reviews this week of Wight and Sanctus Bellum too, among others, so plenty to stay tuned for. I’m trying to line up an interview with Scott Kelly about his new solo record, but I’m not sure if that’ll come together by Friday yet. We’ll see.

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