Posted in Whathaveyou on April 22nd, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
The news that Ides of Gemini has a new rhythm section is doubly interesting since it means vocalist Sera Timms (also Zun, Black Mare, ex-Black Math Horseman) will no longer be playing bass, as she did on their 2014 sophomore outing, Old World New Wave (review here) and its 2012 predecessor, Constantinople, both of which were released by Neurot. Timms and fellow founder J. Bennett (guitar) have hooked up with bassist Adam Murray and drummer Scott Batiste for the new lineup, the latter splitting his time with Saviours, with whom Ides of Gemini will be playing this month as they get the new band settled in.
They’re at Stumpfest this weekend in Portland and Psycho Las Vegas in August, as the PR wire affirms:
IDES OF GEMINI Announces New Lineup + Band To Kick Off Short Run Of Live Dates This Weekend
Following a short slumber, IDES OF GEMINI are back and ready to bring their otherworldly odes to the stage once again on a weekend run of live performances this weekend. The short trek includes an appearance at Stump Fest in Portland, Oregon and will showcase not only some brand new psalms but also an updated lineup featuring drummer Scott Batiste of Saviours and bassist Adam Murray of Deth Crux alongside veteran IDES man, guitarist J. Bennett, and vocalist Sera Timms.
“These gentlemen are top-notch players and wicked handsome to boot,” issues Bennett of the new cast. “We’ll be breaking in the new lineup with a handful of West Coast shows with Saviours this month, during which we’ll be debuting some new songs.”
Additionally, the band will make an appearance at Psycho Vegas this August in Las Vegas, Nevada with more live rituals to be announced in the not so distant future. Stand by.
IDES OF GEMINI: 4/22/2016 The Chapel – San Francisco, CA 4/23/2016 Stump Fest – Portland, OR 4/24/2016 Starlite Lounge – Sacramento, CA 8/26-28/2016 Psycho Vegas – Las Vegas, NV
IDES OF GEMINI released their critically-hailed, Chris Rakestraw (Danzig)-produced Old World New Wave full-length in 2014 via Neurot Recordings as well as a special, limited Carthage/Strange Fruit seven-inch via Magic Bullet last year.
Posted in audiObelisk on April 11th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Sidewave‘s Glass Giant will be the first vinyl release from newly-minted French label Left Front Door Records. The imprint was founded using money from an indemnity from France’s government after the attack at Le Bataclan concert hall in Paris last November, paid out to founder Arthur Dénouveaux, who was fortunate enough to have escaped the shooting and the bomb blasts. Wanting to do something that supported his love of music with the money, Dénouveaux started the label and hooked up with the California-based heavy alt rockers, who first issued Glass Giant last Fall as their debut full-length. The 180g vinyl, which includes a download, also comes with a download for a 10-track B-sides offering.
Bottom line is don’t call it a premiere, but I’m glad nonetheless to feature “Honest to God” from Glass Giant. It’s the centerpiece of the album’s nine tracks and offers particular crunch in relation to the bulk of its surroundings, though as you can hear a clear sense of atmosphere is maintained through the Jesu-style softened churn. A strong undercurrent of Failure runs throughout songs like “Moonshine” and the especially airy “Supersonic,” but there’s a post-rock sense of patience across the record as well, the Los Angeles four-piece of vocalist/guitarist Phil Golyshko, guitarist Bill Collins, drummer Brandon Dickert and bassist Matt Russell bringing open-feeling textures to traditional structures and working in varying degrees of heft along the way.
Most of Glass Giant finds Sidewave exploring a line between emotionalism and psychedelia, but there is something grounding the release as well, and I think it’s the songwriting. All songs but the shorter opener “Grounded” and the longer closing duo of “Hearts” and “This is Who You Are” run in the four-minute range — and the others aren’t far off — but more than that, there’s an ambient consistency that ties the material together so that as Sidewave lean in one direction or another, their songs stay true to the overarching flow of the whole work. A few catchy hooks along the way certainly don’t hurt either, as “Honest to God” also shows.
You’ll find that track streaming below, followed by some more info off the PR wire. If you caught wind of it around its release in October, or if this is your first time checking it out, I hope you enjoy:
The band recently released their debut album mixed by Aaron Harris (Palms, ISIS) and is now ready to release it in vinyl format.
The songs from the album started as a collection of demos written by songwriter, singer, and guitarist, Phil Golyshko. These demos were dubbed the “Big Time Demos” and once shared online, opened the door to a new chapter in the early life of Sidewave.
It was these demos that allowed Phil to reconnect with his cohorts from Chicago – now Southern California residents – drummer Brandon Dickert and guitarist Bill Collins. Within weeks, the group had found bassist and composer Matt Russell to round out the low end and provide “more bass”.
The band has already shared the stage with great rock acts such as The Life and Times, Black Map and Æges. With a new album on the market and a live show that just keeps getting bigger and better, 2016 promises to be even more exciting for fans of epic live rock music.
Posted in Reviews on April 7th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Even unto their moniker, Blaak Heat remain somewhat amorphous. The band that got their start as Blaak Heat Shujaa with a 2010 self-titled debut (review here) in Paris and linked up with Tee Pee Records after moving to New York en route to eventually settling in Los Angeles for the release of the 2012 The Storm Generation EP (review here) and subsequent 2013 sophomore full-length, The Edge of an Era (review here), continues to change in approach and to progress on their third outing, Shifting Mirrors, issued through Tee Pee and Svart Records. In some ways, the 10-track/44-minute album is a direct follow-up to what Blaak Heat, as they’re now properly known, accomplished on prior outings in blending desert tonality and heavy psychedelic rock with Middle Eastern scales and folk influence, but particularly in playing up the latter and in working with producer Matt Hyde (Slayer, Monster Magnet), the trio of guitarist/vocalist Thomas Bellier, new bassist Henry Evans (ex-Spindrift) and drummer Mike Amster have pushed well beyond even the grander scope of The Edge of an Era in their latest offering’s complexity and rhythmic insistence.
While cuts on Shifting Mirrors like “The Peace Within” and “The Approach to Al-Mu’tasim” make sense in the context of the last album and the one before it with Bellier‘s songcraft at the fore, the flow that Blaak Heat create and the clarity of their purpose in doing so are emblematic of a maturity in their processes that, by its very nature, couldn’t have been on the prior releases. In many ways, it’s appropriate that they’d finish this album with a song called “Danse Nomade” (I’m going to assume no translation necessary), since even though it’s instrumental, it tells the band’s story: Always moving, always changing.
One of the things that makes Shifting Mirrors exciting is that the listener can’t quite be sure where Blaak Heat are headed next, but there are consistencies from their past work. Their focus remains instrumental. They start with “Anatolia” and through “Ballad of Zeta Brown,” “Mola Mamad Djan,” the aforementioned “Danse Nomade” and the shorter interludes “Taqsim” and “Tamazgha,” nearly half of the album’s runtime is dedicated to instrumental tracks, and that’s to say nothing of the extended passages in “The Approach to Al-Mu’tasim” and “The Peace Within,” but where and when vocals do arrive, they do show progression. Part of that may be due to working with Hyde, but Bellier‘s vocals even on “Sword of Hakim,” which chugs into high gear immediately and only grows more insistent as it moves through its four minutes, are compressed, laden with effects and have clearly been carefully treated.
This avoids some of the Om-style patterning of Blaak Heat‘s past work, and helps further distinguish the bass and percussion-led “The Approach to Al-Mu’tasim,” its blend of desert psych and Middle Eastern rhythms and vibes playing out with a sense of motion that Bellier directs in a way that emphasizes the growth of his control over putting these parts together to create a fluid whole from them. In addition, Amster‘s drumming throughout is no less creatively broad, and though sometimes tasked with holding together an exploration of guitar, bass and/or keys, Shifting Mirrors is equally rhythmically than melodically expressive. That’s true from the turns of “Anatolia” onward, but especially so in “The Approach to Al-Mu-tasim” and “Ballad of Zeta Brown,” which follows the spacious string interlude “Taqsim” and wraps the first half of the album with a wordless thrust that highlights Blaak Heat‘s ability to play up one side or another within the context of their sound — in this case, leaning more toward classic psychedelia.
They continue that molten methodology — shifting, if you’d like — through side B. Though less frenetic than “Sword of Hakim,” “Black Hawk” features a relatively straightforward heavy psych take, and hits its stride with a gallop beneath a dual-layered lead from Bellier that hits into a nodding bridge groove; something more grounded than Blaak Heat will very often allow in their material. Fuller fuzz rounds out as well, and lest the listener get worried they’re settling on more of a rock feel, the repurposed Afghan folk song “Mola Mamad Djan” moves more back toward traditionalism even if it is a fuzzed out guitar playing those scales. Percussion, bass, keys, drums and guitar, and other elements come together for a final apex that speaks more to a rock mindset, but clearly the the band are indulging other influences, even if working them into their own context. There are debates to be had about cultural appropriation, the history of European and American colonialism in the Middle East, and so on, but Blaak Heat‘s material, whether it’s “Mola Mamad Djan” or the 2:41 thudding/lead interlude “Tamazgha” that follows, is less about exoticizing an “other” outside of Western rock tradition than about bringing different sides together.
By way of an example, with underlying organ and fleet twists of groove, “The Peace Within” drives toward a penultimate start-stop apex that’s basically the peak of the album, and it does so with a mixture of elements from both sides, letting the real serenity come with “Danse Nomade” as Evans‘ bass holds sway and the guitar and keys push outward in desert style backed by bells and drums as they make their way toward a last, open-feeling solo and final crashes, organ scratch and shaker rounding out. One can’t help but wonder if Shifting Mirrors, as a title, is referring to the idea of a changing picture of the self — that is, the self as something unrecognizable over time. If so, it is fitting with the stylistic nuance Blaak Heat make their own throughout, since it’s something that half a decade ago would’ve been unfathomable to come from them. Among the greatest appeals of their work to-date, though, has always been that they come across as being completely unwilling to settle in terms of their progression. As such, I wouldn’t be surprised if their next outing takes yet another step forward from here, since they don’t seem to know how to move any other way, despite their songs’ head-spinning twists and turns.
Posted in Reviews on March 31st, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
It seems like a day doesn’t go by that I don’t find something in one of these piles (metaphorical, sometimes literal) of records that keeps me coming back. Today is once again spread across a pretty wide stylistic swath, and that’s by design to keep my brain from going numb, but if there’s a unifying theme across all of it, let it be a sense of scope and bands and artists who are trying to take what’s been done before and push it forward or in some new direction. That’s not universal — nothing is — but today might be the most adventurous of the days included this quarter, so I hope you’ll keep open ears and an open mind as you make your way though.
Quarterly Review #31-40:
Beastmaker, Lusus Naturae
Expectations are high for Fresno trio Beastmaker in no small part because their first album, Lusus Naturae, arrives through Rise Above Records. Whether they’ll take their place among the venerable UK imprint’s genre-shapers of the last half-decade, Uncle Acid, Ghost, etc., remains to be seen, but there can be little question Lusus Naturae lives up to the standard of offering something individual even as it plays off familiar conceptions. Beastmaker’s doom is classic without sounding like much of anything else, and as they unfold “Arachne” and catchy pieces like “Mask of Satan” and “You Must Sin,” they arrive aesthetically cohesive and demonstrating accomplished songwriting finding a space of its own surrounding Sabbathian and Cathedral-driven ideals with semi-psych, semi-cultish tendencies, not wanting to be put in one place or the other but successfully engaging a melting pot of modern doom in “Burnt Offering” and the plodding “It.” Whatever the wider response winds up being, Lusus Naturae will without a doubt stand as one of 2016’s best debuts.
If you’re hand-picking dream rhythm sections, getting Trevor Dunn to play bass while Dale Crover drums would probably be the picks of any number of players, but initials-only core duo EHA and AAL of Los Angeles’ Low Flying Hawks actually went out and got the Mr. Bungle and Melvins personnel to play on their Toshi Kasai-produced Magnetic Eye Records debut LP, Kofuku. Aside from keeping good company, the album’s 10 tracks/53 minutes are marked by a spaciousness that not even the tonal heft of early cut “Now, Apocalypse” seems to fill as EHA and AAL balance post-rock, doomed lurch and darker psychedelics with blackened screams and fervent rhythmic push – see “White Temple” and “Wolves Within Wolves.” They round out with the lumbering 11-minute “Destruction Complete,” a heavy rock march topped by airborne, dissonant leads that keeps its head even as it plods onward into oblivion. Not as unipolar as it might first appear in terms of sound, but the mood of Kofuku points consistently downward.
The crux of CHVE’s Rasa is in resonance. Amenra frontman Colin H. van Eeckhout (his solo-project’s name derived from his initials) constructs a flowing half-hour of fluid drone, intermittent percussion – first tribal, then a straightforward kind of march, slow but not still – and atmospheric vocal on the single track that comprises the work, seeming to take influence from calls to prayer as much as atmospheric noise. At higher volumes, the piece is consuming, his voice surrounds with the almost constant wash of tone, but even at more reasonable levels, the sense of purpose and ritual remains. Of course, Amenra are noted for the use of the word “mass” in their album titles, and while Rasa departs from the direct tonal heft of much of what van Eeckhout does in his main outfit, there is a sense of mass here in terms both of presence and in terms of the worship being enacted.
How do you fit an 11-minute track onto a 7” release? Easy, you break it in half. Such is the method of Ohio instrumentalists Brujas del Sol, who follow their Moonliner EP trilogy with the late-2015 single Starquake, presented on the limited H42 Records platter as “Starquake Pt. I” and “Starquake Pt. II” but comprising nonetheless a single piece that backs airy, post-rock-tinged guitar with a decided forward rhythmic motion, resulting in an overarching build that, while there’s a natural moment for the split, is hypnotic front to back, a swirl of effects calling it mind space rock improvisation even as the plotted momentum of drums and bass resumes. Starquake is enough to make one imagine what kind of variety and spontaneity Brujas del Sol would bring to a debut full-length, so in that it very much does its job, but it makes a good case for standing on its own as well as it hits its second apex and finishes in a residual wash of cosmic noise.
Offered through New Heavy Sounds, Noeth Ac Anoeth is the debut full-length from Welsh cosmic doom four-piece Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard. It is comprised of three songs and incorporates the half-hour-long “Nachthexen,” which was also the title-track of the band’s prior 2015 EP (review here), their rumble brought to bear through the capable knob-turning of Conan’s Chris Fielding at Skyhammer Studio. The vocals of Jessica Ball manage to cut through the ensuing tonal murk of her bass and the guitars of Paul Michael Davies and Wez Leon, and James Carrington’s drums live up to the near-impossible task of making “Les Paradis Artificiels,” “Slave Moon” and “Nachthexen” go, each developing its own plodding momentum amid the purposeful thickness overdose and atmospheric sensibility enhanced both by Davies’ work on keys and Ball’s vocals. “Slave Moon” winds up at a gallop and almost operatic, but there’s no way the highlight wasn’t going to be “Nachthexen,” which offers chug dense enough and spaces wide open enough to easily get lost in. Time well spent, all around.
Spanish heavy rock four-piece The Shooters present their third album, Dead Wilderness (on Red Sun Records/Nooirax Producciones), as two sides even on the CD pressing, each half of the record ending with an extended cut over the 10-minute mark. All told it’s six songs/49 minutes of solidified, mostly straightforward Euro-style riff-led heavy grooves, tapping into some Dozer influence on “War on You” but offering more spacious burl on “Lucifer’s Word,” which starts side B after the push of “Roots” rounds out side A. There’s little by way of letup, but moments like the quiet start and bridge of “Black Mountain” do a lot of work in adding complexity to The Shooters’ hook-minded approach, and 11-minute finale “Candelabrum” builds on that with a patient linear unfolding that casts off some tonal heft in favor of a more atmospheric take. That ultimately lets Dead Wilderness bring an individual edge to established stylistic parameters, from which it greatly benefits.
Granted, a title playing off Curb Your Enthusiasm and, well, herb, might make you think the band is just goofing around, but UK riffers Boss Keloid offer more substance with their second album, Herb Your Enthusiasm, than they do wackiness. The sound – captured by Chris Fielding at Skyhammer Studio – is positively massive, bolstered by guest appearances from Fielding himself and his Conan bandmate, Jon Davis, who also owns Skyhammer and Black Bow Records, the imprint releasing the LP, and given to swells of largesse and huge rolling grooves that still remain righteously fuzzed, as on “Escapegoat” or “Lung Valley” the quieter complement to opener “Lung Mountain.” Vocalist Alex Hurst assures any quota of burl is met, but has more to his approach melodically than riff-following chestbeating, and guitarist Paul Swarbrick, bassist Adam Swarbrick and drummer Stephen Arands present instrumental flow and turns behind that give the record a sense of personality beyond its weedian play. Not a minor undertaking at an hour long, but satisfying in tone and execution.
I guess it’s fair to call late 2015’s Nous N’y Trouvons que le Doute the debut full-length from Toulouse-based one-man outfit Hors Sujet, though multi-instrumentalist/atmosphere-conjurer Florent Paris has done a variety of soundtrack work and released numerous other textures in EPs and a variety of other offerings, so take that for what it’s worth. More important is the rich sense of ambience Paris brings to Hors Sujet in the seven included songs, from the dystopian doom of “Au Plus Loin, la Mer / L’hiver Peureux” to the wistful drone wash of “Le Souffle, Peu à Peu (Pt. 2),” which has its companion piece earlier in the album. Of special note should be 27-minute closer “Et Maintenant, le Ombres,” acting as a summary of the proceedings as much as expansion thereupon, concluding an often quiet outing with a stark cacophony that gorgeously builds from the minimalism before it to a raucous finish worth of the breadth Paris shows in his work throughout.
Initially released by the band in summer 2015, the self-titled debut from Finnish progressive heavy rockers Warchief sees vinyl issue through Phonosphera Records, its two sides consumed by organic execution across four tracks moving beyond traditional structure in favor of a more varied approach, from the rumbling heft that emerges in opener “Give” through the goes-anywhere near-psychedelia of 21-minute closer “For Heavy Damage.” Warchief, the Jyväskylä-based four-piece of Teemu Pellonpää, Juho Saarikoski, Esa Pirttimäki and Tommi Rintala, feel right at home working in longer-form material, whether it’s that closer or the nine-minute “Life Went On” preceding, and given their breadth I wouldn’t be surprised if they would up with a single-song album sometime in the future. With that in mind, perhaps most encouraging about their self-titled is the fact that it seems so exploratory, very much like the beginning of creative growth rather than a finished product on display. One hopes they continue to flesh out stylistically and build on the foundation they’ve set here.
Riffing their way into the post-Electric Wizard league of rumble purveyors, Minneapolis newcomers Seedship avoid any cultish trappings on last fall’s Demo 2015, their first release. A marked tonal thickness is nearly immediate, but along with the slow-motion nod and overarching density, melodic vocals cut through the morass to give a human aspect to the groove. Of the three tracks, “The Edge of Expiry,” “The Condemned Adrift” and “The Desperate Odyssey,” not a one is under eight minutes long, and as they plod their way through the opener (also the longest track; immediate points), Seedship enact a sci-fi theme that carries through the release as a whole, which scuffs up the approach some in the closer, but always keeps its spacier elements intact, even as it kicks the pace in the ass at around six minutes in and lets loose a release for all the tension built up prior before a final slowdown ends out. They seem to have a lot already worked out sound-wise, so should be interesting to hear where they go with it.
Posted in Whathaveyou on March 17th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Hot on the heels of the announcement of a May 27 release through Heavy Psych Sounds of their new album, 5, Los Angeles space rockers Farflung unveil plans for an extensive European tour. The run begins in Milan on release day and will include a special set at Freak Valley 2016 in Germany — as previously speculated — to celebrate the LP’s arrival. As it’s been some eight years since the last Farflung full-length, it seems like a cause worthy of celebration, though they’ve been to Europe a couple times in between the two records, touring alongside Black Rainbows in 2012 and taking part in that year’s Roadburn festival in the Netherlands.
Word of the tour came down the PR wire thusly:
L.A. space rock legends FARFLUNG to takeover Europe this spring in support of new album “5” on Heavy Psych Sounds
California’s space rock torchbearers FARFLUNG are set to come back to the Old Continent this spring, as the band will be touring extensively to support the release of their new album “5”, due out May 27 on Heavy Psych Sounds.
The ever-experimenting space rock five-piece from Los Angeles is making a great comeback this spring, with their first full-length in eight years and a full European tour to kick off at the end of May. FARFLUNG will release their new album “5” on May 27th via Heavy Psych Sounds.
This European tour includes a special release set at Freak Valley Fest. Find all infos and dates below:
FARFLUNG EUROPEAN TOUR 2016 27.05.16 – MILAN (IT) Cox18 28.05.16 – NETPHEN (DE) Freak Valley Fest (release show) 29.05.16 – ERFURT (DE) Tiko 30.05.16 – LEIPZIG (DE) Zoro 31.05.16 – DRESDEN (DE) Chemiefabrik 01.06.16 – MALMÖ (SWE) Plan B 02.06.16 – COPENHAGEN (NL) Loppen 03.06.16 – BERLIN (DE) Cassiopea 04.06.16 – OLTEN (CH) Coq D’or 05.06.16 – LUZERN (CH) Sedel 06.06.16 – MANNHEIM (DE) TBA 07.06.16 – BASEL (CH) Kashemme 08.06.16 – TILBURG (NL) Little Devil 09.06.16 – LEUVEN (BE) Soho 10.06.16 – KARLSRHUE (DE) Bar Bistro KA 11.06.16 – BLUDENZ (AT) Villa K 12.06.16 – INNSBRUCK (AT) PMK 13.06.16 – SLAZBURG (AT) RockHouse 14.06.16 – TUBINGEN (DE) Hausbar neben der Stiftskirche 15.06.16 – TORINO (IT) TBA 16.06.16 – ZEROBRANCO (IT) Altroquando 17.06.16 – ROMA (IT) Sinister Noise 18.06.16 – VITERBO (IT) Secret Show
FARFLUNG’s last full-length A Wound In Eternity came out in 2008, after what the five-piece put out a series of quality split records with White Hills (2012), Black Rainbows (2013) and California’s brothers-in-sound Fatso Jetson (2015). This year will see the return of one of the most substantial songwriting teams in today’s rock world, with the release of upcoming new album 5 on European rock powerhouse Heavy Psych Sounds.
This new album 5 will feature guest appearances by the likes of Nik Turner (Hawkwind), David Catching (QOTSA, EODM) and Gene Trautmann (QOTSA, EODM). It was recorded at Saturn Moon Studio, Tarantula Ranch and Rancho de la Luna, conferring upon the record a recognizable desert sound.
FARFLUNG – New album “5” Out on May 27th via Heavy Psych Sounds Presales available from April 1st, 2016
FARFLUNG IS Tommy Grenas Michael Esther Paul Hischier Abby Travis Chris Nakata
Posted in Whathaveyou on March 15th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Not saying I’ve heard it yet or anything, but the new Blaak Heat record smokes. I’ll admit to some skepticism on my part on hearing that Matt Hyde was producing, since I tend to be wary of commercial/hard rock producers working on heavy rock albums, but Shifting Mirrors retains its sense of space and natural feel even as the Los Angeles three-piece push deeper into Eastern scales, space rock, heavy psychedelic jazz, and of course, a healthy dose of desert groove. They’re getting weirder. I like that, and rather than hinder that process, Hyde seems to present it in full-breadth. It’s a better pairing than I expected.
Not that I’ve heard it yet or anything.
Shifting Mirrors is out May 13 through Tee Pee with another (I guess earlier?) release date through Svart Records. The PR wire has album details below, and you can also see their recently unveiled video for “Sword of Hakim” beneath that:
BLAAK HEAT to Release New Album, Shifting Mirrors, May 13
Third Album from California via Paris Triad an Altar to Heavy Riffage, Mind Expansion and Social Insurgencies
Los Angeles avant-garde psych rock band BLAAK HEAT (formerly Blaak Heat Shujaa) will release its new album, Shifting Mirrors, on May 13 via Tee Pee Records. Recorded with Grammy Award winning producer Matt Hyde (Slayer, Deftones), at Megawatt Recording (Santana, Tool), the record builds on the band’s self-coined “Arabian fuzz” and is the follow-up to the trio’s 2013 Scott Reeder-produced full-length, The Edge of an Era.
BLAAK HEAT’s intercontinental desert rock engulfs your mind in images of mystic castle mirages, slamming both body and soul into an ocean of reverb fuzz. Formed in Paris by guitarist / vocalist Thomas Bellier (ex-Spindrift) in 2008, the band relocated to Los Angeles in 2012. The transcendental tension between the group’s heavy rock roots and its organic inclination to drift towards psychedelia pays homage to the vast collection of mind-expanding sounds the trio grew up on: neo-psychedelia, surf rock, spaghetti westerns, Middle Eastern scales and Far Eastern melodies. Shifting Mirrors’ is an album that is both intriguing and unrelenting, featuring 10 tracks that explore a range of tonalities, tempos and traditional soundscapes.
“We took our favorite Middle Eastern tonalities and reinterpreted them through the prism of our cultural baggage; weird European psychedelia, a healthy dose of vintage hard rock and some experimental jazz,” says Bellier. “With producer Matt Hyde, we were able to mix loud fuzz guitar tones with traditional acoustic instruments, such as the Oud and the Kanun. For example, the track ‘Mola Mamad Djan’ is an Afghan folk song for which we reworked the arrangement into something more rocking.”
1.) Anatolia 2.) Sword of Hakim 3.) The Approach To Al-Mu’tasim 4.) Taqsim 5.) Ballad of Zeta Brown 6.) Black Hawk 7.) Mola Mamad Djan 8.) Tamazgha 9.) The Peace Within 10.) Danse Nomade
In addition to Bellier, BLAAK HEAT features Mike Amster (drums) and Henry Evans (bass).
Posted in Whathaveyou on March 8th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Both Behold! the Monolith and CHRCH were announced for Roadburn 2016 back in November, but they’ve solidified a full round of European dates leading up to and through that fest that begins March 20 in Italy and includes stops at other fests like Tube Cult, Impetus and Doom over Leipzig as well. Each band is out supporting a 2015 release — in the case of Behold! the Monolith, it’s last fall’s Architects of the Void (review here), and for CHRCH, it’s their wildly well received debut, Unanswered Hymns (review here), initially self-released and then pressed to vinyl by Battleground Records.
The shows? They’ll be very, very heavy, and they’re part of a round of fests that the bands will play in the months to come. Behold! the Monolith and CHRCH will also feature together at Psycho Las Vegas in August, and CHRCH will also be at Crucial Fest 6 and Southwest Terror Fest later this year. Not too bad.
Dates for the European tour follow here, as well as both bands’ album streams:
Behold! The Monolith and CHRCH European Tour 2016
In case we haven’t mentioned it, Behold! The Monolith will be touring Europe very soon with CHRCH! Hope to see as many of you as possible out there! Here are the dates:
30-3 – Horizon Club – Bolzano – Italy 31-3 – Shai Hulud – Carpi Modena 01-4 – Tube Cult Fest – Pescara – Italy 02-4 – Circolo La Mesa – Montecchio Maggiore – Italy 03-4 – Les Pavillons Sauvages – Toulouse – France 04-4 – Glazart – Paris – France 05-4 – La Scène Michelet – Nantes – France 06-4 – Hipster Café – Rouen – France 07-4 – The Pit’s – Kortrijk – Belgium 08-4 – AZ Wuppertal – Wuppertal – Germany 09-4 – Impetus Festival – Lausanna – Switzerland 10-4 – AVAILABLE 11-4 – venue TBA – Berlin – Germany 12-4 – Magasin4 – Brussels – Belgium 13-4 – Antwerp Music City – Antwerp – Belgium 14-4 – Roadburn – Tilburg – The Netherlands 15-4 – Innocent – Hengelo – The Netherlands 16-4 – Doom Over Leipzig – Leipzig – Germany 17-4 – Hafenklang – Hamburg – Germany
Release circumstances for Blaak Heat‘s impending third album are, let’s say, appropriately complex to be fitting for the band’s technically resonant approach to heavy psychedelia and desert rock. Svart Records and Tee Pee Records will have Shifting Mirrors out on April 15 in Europe and May 13 in North America and elsewhere. With a month between the European issue date and everywhere else, it’s easy to get somewhat confused on what’s happening when, and when the trio will begin to support the record, but from what I saw in their set at Borderland Fuzz Fiesta 2016 (review here) a couple weeks back, their new material is no less furious in its churning and rhythmic density. So yeah, it makes sense for Blaak Heat.
“Sword of Hakim” is, to my knowledge, the first audio to come from Shifting Mirrors, which is the follow-up to the Los Angeles trio’s Tee Pee debut and second album overall, The Edge of an Era (review here). Recorded by Matt Hyde (Slayer, Monster Magnet, etc.), it presents their storm in full effect, spacious tonality, rhythmic intensity and Eastern-inflected vocals over top from guitarist Thomas Bellier, joined in the band by bassist Henry Evans and drummer Mike Amster, who is a return focal point in the “Sword of Hakim” video and rightly so for the subtlety and personality in his playing. Sonic persona overall seems to have developed in Blaak Heat (formerly known as Blaak Heat Shujaa), but then, there was no way they were going to sit still creatively after their last time out. Some bands you just know are hell bent on progress. It’s an attitude that has served Blaak Heat well so far.
More to come on Shifting Mirrors before its April/May release. Until then, enjoy all the fire dancing, atop-dune mysticism and high-speed psychedelics that “Sword of Hakim” has to offer. Clip is by Cole Jenkins and Andrew Baxter. Enjoy:
Blaak Heat, “Sword of Hakim” official video
From the album “Shifting Mirrors” (2016, Svart Records / Tee Pee Records)
Directed by Andrew Baxter and Cole Jenkins. Edited by Andrew Baxter. Featuring: Michael Amster, Eleanor Atkins, Andrew Baxter, Thomas Bellier, Dominique Olga Diaz, Henry Evans, Cole Jenkins, Julie Patterson, Amber Shane.