Duuude, Tapes! Lightsabres, Spitting Blood

Posted in Duuude, Tapes! on January 7th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

lightsabres-spitting-blood-tape-case-and-patch

 

Like Lightsabres‘ late-2013 debut, Demons (review here), the second full-length, Spitting Blood, is a deceptively complex outing. Released as a limited tape in an edition of 50 copies by HeviSike Records — 25 translucent red cassettes, 25 opaque red, with a foldout j-card and included patch — and already through its second vinyl pressing since releasing in Sept. 2014, it pulls together ranging impulses from garage rock, goth drama, heavy riffing, raw punk and more across its 13-track span, all songs clocking in at around or under two minutes long. A quick listen, multi-instrumentalist/vocalist John Strömshed (who also recorded and doubles in Tunga Moln) takes listeners through an otherworldly passage not quite as dark or extreme as the cover of the tape might indicate, but certainly fitting enough with the notion of cutting to the bone. The buzzsaw guitar tone that pervades “I Can’t Feel It,” which sounds like a hypothetical garage-recordedlightsabres-spitting-blood-inside-j-card Queens of the Stone Age demo circa 1991, and the later post-punk boogie of “Like Shit” slices and dices through the raw mix with little concern, for skin or otherwise.

That is, ultimately, what Strömshed uses to cloak the sonic diversity of Lightsabres. In another dimension, he’d be exploring ever deeper arrangements in limitless budgets of instrumentation and production style, but on Spitting Blood, it’s the mood and stylistic range that’s being explored, pushed outside of the comfort zone of genre. His take on the Misfits‘ “Hybrid Moments” (a personal favorite) is authentic to the original, and somehow, it fits smoothly between the would-be-nihilistic-if-it-wasn’t-such-a-hook of “Fuck Tomorrow” and the head-down low-end punk of “Sonic Death” near the end of side 1. To further the delightfully confounding nature of the tape, each half ends with a sweet, ambient moment of guitar melody, “Dark Matter” wistful and folkish, and album-closer “I Dream of Space” an experimental-feeling brush with psychedelic minimalism at least in part presented backwards. Coming off a song like “No Cash,” which is the longest inclusion on Spitting Blood at 2:36 and toys with drumless pop drama in a near-abrasive blown-out wash of fuzz, it is particularly effective in highlighting just how deep Strömshed goes in his lightsabres-spitting-blood-side-1pursuit of… whatever the hell it might be that he’s after.

But it’s the rawness that makes it all consistent. Like earliest Six Organs of Admittance — and at the same time, not at all like it — Lightsabres‘ consuming rough edge gives even an angrier punker like “Pigs” an underlying intimacy, almost a personalized feel, that works greatly toward lending further individuality to what would in many other contexts be a loosely familiar or at very least more straightforward offering. Coupled with a core of songwriting that will be apparent even on the most superficial of listens as the catchiness of these songs reaches up from the dense tonal swamp in which they reside to bash the listener over the head, that still-developing individualism makes Spitting Blood both a worthy successor to Demons and an enjoyable reveling in proto-grunge that, in a world of cult themes that it eschews, proves legitimately cult worthy. A project of which people will no doubt continue to take notice, and rightfully so.

Lightsabres, Spitting Blood (2014)

Lightsabres on Bandcamp

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HeviSike Records

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Duuude, Tapes! Lightsabres, Demons

Posted in Duuude, Tapes! on June 30th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

It is deceptively hard to get a handle on where Luleå, Sweden, rockers Lightsabres are coming from. Their debut tape, pressed and then re-pressed in limited edition by 808 New York (mine is #50 of 80), is called Demons, and while it’s quick at about 17 minutes long, and blown out in the lo-fi sense, it’s not to be mistaken for a demo. Eight tracks are presented four on each side, both sides start with an intro piece — “Fangs” and “Teeth,” respectively — and there’s cohesion and flow enough in what Lightsabres do that even if they weren’t working with a label to release it (there’s also vinyl out on Hink Inc.), to call it a demo would be selling it short. From the psychedelic ambience they pull off in the intros and side two’s closing “Demons,” the distorted stonery of side one opener “Black Hash,” and the stripped down punkish sneer of its side two counterpart “Born to Die,” Lightsabres tie together disparate elements with natural-sounding ease and come out of the release with a highly individualized garage-grunge that makes the memorable songwriting of “Fly Like a Bird” seem like fortunate happenstance.

Maybe it is, I don’t know. Maybe the members of Lightsabres — evidently content to remain nameless — showed up, pressed record, and that’s what came out. Either way, the heavy-pop bounce of that track is something most bands would have to work at. It’s as accessible as they go and well placed at the end of side one, following the rawer push of “Eyez,” on which the vocals come across even rougher than “Black Hash.” An unexpected turn, but one they pull off with apparent ease, and side two’s more psychedelic vibing affirms that Lightsabres have a broad creative range to go along with the effectiveness of their presentation. Post-rock guitar wisps begin “Teeth” only to be joined by air-moving bass fuzz, and while “Born to Die” strips away some of the prettier, melodic aspects, its half-time drums and noisy lead wash later on can’t cover up a basic heavy rock feel. Perhaps the most punkish moment of Demons is the first half of the Ty Segall cover “Caesar,” which breaks just before the first of its two minutes into manipulated, floating notes moving backwards and forwards in hypnotic motion toward the closing title-track, which takes a more minimal, spacious approach and finds dual vocal layers coming together for a moment of crooning before flipping the whole thing backwards to maximize an experimental, anything’s-possible sense of uncertainty.

The edit on the tape of “Demons” is different than that on the digital version, and the download also has an extra track, “Red Light,” that serves as a centerpiece between the two sides, so if cassettes aren’t your thing, Lightsabres still have something to offer for your pay-what-you-will. There’s also reportedly a follow-up to Demons called Spitting Blood due out shortly, and the band seems to have some shared membership with psych rockers Tunga Moln, so expect to hear more from this promising outfit one way or another.

Lightsabres, Demons 

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Lightsabres on Bandcamp

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