Review & Video Premiere: Deville, Pigs with Gods

Posted in Bootleg Theater, Reviews on October 19th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

deville pigs with gods

Deville, ‘Cut it Loose’ official video premiere

[Click play above to watch the official premiere of Deville’s ‘Cut it Loose’ video. Their album, Pigs with Gods, is out Oct. 26 on Fuzzorama Records.]

Sweden’s Deville seemed to lay self-aware claim to their straightforward approach to heavy rock and roll on their last album, 2015’s Make it Belong to Us (review here), which was their first outing through Fuzzorama Records after issuing their third LP, Hydra (review here), through Small Stone. But things change, and in the case of the Malmö four-piece, that extends to the lineup of the band, as guitarist/vocalist Andreas Bengtsson is now the sole remaining founding member of Deville, with lead guitarist Andreas Wulkan having joined before Hydra and the dual-Martin rhythm section of bassist Martin Nobel and drummer Martin Fässberg coming aboard in 2016. As Deville come upon their 15th anniversary in 2019, their latest collection, Pigs with Gods, will be the album that carries them through it, and it’s another forward step in their ongoing sonic development.

As to how much the Andreases and Martins share writing duties among them, I don’t know, but Deville has always had Bengtsson at the center, and that remains true throughout the substantial, LP-limit-pushing 12 tracks and 51 minutes of Pigs with Gods, but as cuts like “Came for Nothing,” “Hell in the Water,” “Cut it Loose” and “Gold Sealed Tomb” remind, the star when it comes to Deville‘s work has always been the songs themselves. Structurally tight, crisply produced and executed with a full, professional sound and energy, the material on Pigs with Gods offers little by way of surprises in the overall quality of its work. That is, after their last couple albums especially and even going back to 2007’s Come Heavy Sleep (which Heavy Psych Sounds pressed to vinyl in 2013) and 2009’s Hail the Black Sky (discussed here), they’ve worked to a high standard of output. With Bengtsson as the consistent factor in the band all along, one can at this point read a certain level of auteurship to their work, but again, it’s the songwriting that’s the proper focus.

And whether it’s the lumbering riffer “Lightbringer” or the one-two punch of opener “Lost Grounds” and the title-track right behind it, Pigs with Gods wants nothing as regards songwriting. The real shift as regards Deville‘s style is in the aggression level of the material overall. “Lost Grounds” puts that out immediately and sets a context for the rest of what follows such that even the uptempo push of “Cut it Loose” or the bombastic “Wrecked” later on seem informed by it. They play around with the dynamic, as one would think for a group of their established professionalism, and “Acid Meadows” mellows out while “Dead Goon” turns it somewhat darker ahead of “Came for Nothing” and the ending shove of “Medicated on a Concrete Road” and closer “In Reverse,” which tops six minutes in grand finale fashion with a striking vocal harmony, but the core tonality of Pigs with Gods — and even the title itself, unless they’re referencing Margaret Atwood — retains more of an aggro edge than anything they’ve done before.

deville

The effect there is to toe the line between heavy rock and hard rock, and taken in concert with the accessibility that their penchant for hooks grants them, one might read a commercial aspect to their sound, but I don’t think that’s what they’re going for. Whether they’re reflecting the times or some personal strife or whatever it might be, their intention seems not to make the widest-reaching album possible, but to push themselves into making the best album possible, and while Pigs with Gods is a considerable undertaking at 51 minutes — Make it Belong to Us was 37, to compare — they stave off redundancy with malleability and succeed in moving their aesthetic forward to someplace it’s never been. As to how much the arrival of Nobel and Fässberg might have to do with the sharper take, I can’t say, but it’s crucial that even as raucous as Pigs with Gods gets, on “Gold Sealed Tomb” or  “Wrecked” or even “Lost Grounds” at the outset, there’s no sacrifice of melody or catchiness in the name of making a show of being pissed off.

Nor should there be. Instead, Deville hit this new nuance in their modus with the same level of pro-shop confidence they’ve had for the better part of the last decade, and I firmly believe that’s because they keep the songs themselves as the core of the band. At no point does Pigs with Gods sound like Bengtsson sat WulkanFässberg and Nobel down at a band meeting and told them it was time to get mad. What it sounds like is that Deville wrote a new collection of tracks to follow-up the last one and the songs went where they wanted to go naturally. I’ve mentioned a couple times by now Pigs with Gods hitting expectations. In songwriting, in performance, etc. And it does, but that shouldn’t be taken to mean that it lacks passion or that it’s somehow otherwise flat, just hitting its marks and content with that. While there are steady elements to their approach and I wouldn’t say they ever come close to losing their tight grip on what they do, Deville are just working to a high standard, and surpassing where they were before is a part of that.

One would expect no less from them, no matter who’s in the band, or it simply wouldn’t be Deville. And with the rolling-forward riff of “Dead Goon” and the spacious time-taking of “In Reverse” — the bass of which is satisfyingly dirt-caked in its post-midpoint showcase — Pigs with Gods is unquestionably Deville. It shows how recognizable their sound has become over time and just how much the ownership they acknowledged their last time out has allowed them to do what they want with their songwriting and take it to places it hasn’t yet been. Whatever the future holds for them as they move beyond a decade and a half — one assumes they won’t have another album out next year, given past pacing — Deville give zero sign of letting go of the willfully grounded craft that serves as their foundation. As regards Pigs with Gods, it is only a source of strength for what they do.

Deville on Thee Facebooks

Deville website

Fuzzorama Records

Fuzzorama on Bandcamp

 

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CB3 Premiere “From Nothing to Eternity” Video; Recording New Album in August

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 23rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

CB3

Next month, Malmö, Sweden’s CB3 will head into the studio to record their yet-untitled third full-length. It’s a pretty quick turnaround for guitarist Charlotta Andersson and her instrumentalist Burnin’ Trio — bassist Pelle Lindsjö and drummer Natanael Salomonsson — who released their sophomore long-player in earlier this year’s From Nothing to Eternity, an album rife with heavy psychedelic character amid jazz-hued influences and a broad sense of atmosphere. CB3 made their debut in 2015 with the even-jazzier Charlotta’s Burnin’ Trio, and since have grown more and more psychedelic with each release. As to whether or not that trend will continue, we don’t yet know, but before the recording process begins, the excellently-logo’ed three-piece are unveiling a series of hopped-up live videos that capture a full set at Klubb Kristallen in the band’s hometown. The series is called Cult of the Crystals, in honor of the venue.

Live record? Maybe. Watching the clip for the title-track of From Nothing to Eternity, it certainly doesn’t seem unreasonable to think Andersson and company might snag that audio for a special release on its own. The sound iscb3 clear and the performance vibrant, and they had 2016’s Live in Action! out after the first album, so there’s precedent. But for now at least it’s video-only, and there’s plenty to dig into with that, as Andersson‘s own mix and edit of the raw footage finds the live video manipulated with added psychedelic elements, band members interlaid over each other oozing in and out of view as the track itself likewise oozes forward toward an effects-drenched climax, the chemistry of the band’s jazzier days very much held over in the musical conversation particularly between the guitar and drums — Lindsjö is a more recent addition to the band, though he certainly makes his presence known as well — a riffy nod echoing out atop a steady roll past the eight-minute mark only to recede back as the band spends the last minute or so in concluding meander.

Heavy psych heads with a hankering for jammy fare will delight no doubt at what CB3 bring forth in From Nothing to Eternity‘s flowing course, and if you haven’t heard it — it came out in January via Lazy Octopus Records, Eggs in Aspic and Drone Rock Records — it’s streaming in full on the Bandcamp player at the bottom of this post. Because you should probably hear it.

I’ll hope to have more on CB3 as they continue this video series and begin recording their next album, but until then, you can watch “From Nothing to Eternity” on the player below, followed by more background on the band courtesy of the PR wire.

Please enjoy:

CB3, “From Nothing to Eternity” official video premiere

CB3 – Swedish instrumental heavy psychrock trio releases new super-spacey live music videos. First up is “From Nothing to Eternity” (released on vinyl on Drone Rock Records, UK). Recorded May 12, live at Klubb Kristallen, Malmö, Sweden. It’s 100% dedication and DIY! We call this project “Cult of the Crystals”

Recorded by Edvin Lorinius
Mixed, Video edited by Charlotta Andersson.

CB3:
Charlotta Andersson – Electric Guitar
Pelle Lindsjö – Electric Bass
Natanael Salomonsson – Drums

CB3’s sound and music can be described as a mix of heavy psych jams of Earthless blended with progrock like Rush, Yes and with the spacerockiness of Hawkwind and Pink Floyd.

In 2018 CB3 has released “From Nothing to Eternity” on cassette and vinyl, supported Monolord, Firebreather and Kaleidobolt and played a bunch of shows.

CB3, From Nothing to Eternity (2018)

CB3 on Thee Facebooks

CB3 on Bandcamp

Lazy Octopus Records website

Eggs in Aspic on Bandcamp

Drone Rock Records website

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Deville Announce New Single & European Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 4th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

deville

Swedish heavy rockers Deville are gearing up to hit the road once again next month. It’ll be their first tour in some time, and it comes along with the release of a new single through Fuzzorama Records called Gold Sealed Tomb. This in itself is a precursor to the band’s next album, which will follow behind 2015’s Make is Belong to Us (review here), after which the lineup for the band was revamped.

Given the discussion below from drummer Martin Fässberg about the more metallic influence showing itself on the new track, I’m interested to hear where it goes and if that’s something that might apply to the album as a whole in addition to this individual track. Much to discover, as always.

All kinds of dates for the calendar-marking:

New Deville single and european tour in May!

Deville will release a new single “Gold Sealed Tomb” 11th of May taken from the forthcoming album through Fuzzorama Records and will start a European tour the 9th of May.

Martin Fässberg on “Gold Sealed Tomb”:

When we first started writing music for a new album it became evident to all of us that we were quite tired of the traditional doom/stoner/sludge genre. Wulkan had this riff he used to play during soundchecks and we all liked it but a question was raised… Was it too much metal?

After some time though, it became clear that more metal was what we all wanted! Thus the album was given a very metal feeling and an effort was made to focus on traditional songwriting.

“Gold Sealed Tomb” starts with that very riff from soundchecks past and is an introduction to the full-length coming later this year.

Deville on tour:
09.05 Oldenburg, DE, MTS LP’s CD’s
10.05 Kreuzlingen, CH, Horst Klub
11.05 Salzburg, AT, Rockhouse Salzburg
12.05 Oberentfelden, CH, Böröm pöm pöm
13.05 Milano, IT, Kraken Pub
14.05 Pescara, IT, Scumm
15.05 Rome, IT, Let It Beer
16.05 Busto Arsizio, IT, Comunità Giovanile
17.05 Torino, IT, BLAH BLAH
18.05 Pisa, IT, Café Albatross Pisa
19.05 Arnstadt, DE, Rockkneipe ‘Jungfer’
20.05 Kiel, DE, Die Kieler Schaubude

Deville lineup:
Andreas Bengtsson: guitar/vocals
Andreas Wulkan: guitar
Martin Nobel: bass
Martin Fässberg: drums

http://deville.nu/
https://www.facebook.com/devilleband
http://www.fuzzoramarecords.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Fuzzorama
https://twitter.com/fuzzorecords

Deville, Make it Belong to Us (2015)

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Throneless Sign to Black Bow Records; Cycles Coming March 23

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 13th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

throneless

For a band like Malmö, Sweden’s Throneless, who roll out huge-sounding, lumbering grooves in longform and pummeling fashion with a lysergic underflourish and cavernous crash, one can imagine few direct endorsements that might carry the weight as that of Jon Davis, guitarist/vocalist of UK crusher-destroyers Conan. Davis has signed the three-piece to his Black Bow Records imprint for the release of their second offering, Cycles, which will be out on March 23, 2018. As in five months from now. Hey, I like an early heads up as much as the next guy. Probably more, actually, since that’s about as long as it takes me to review shit sometimes.

I digress. The band made their self-titled debut in 2015 via Heavy Psych Sounds, and it’s worth noting they’re not really out of place on either label. Still, from the quote below it’s pretty plain they’re stoked to be working with Black Bow, and yeah, they should be. That record was also four songs of mega-stomping doom, so it’s nice to see they’re keeping to form with the new one. Not that I’ve heard it yet or anything, but it’s bludgeoning.

From the PR wire:

throneless cycles

Throneless – Cycles

On March 23rd 2018 Black Bow Records will release Cycles by Swedish doom metal band THRONELESS. The album is four tracks of psychedelic doom metal that is highly recommended for fans of Conan, Yob and The Slomatics.

The album is set to be released on limited edition vinyl and digital formats.

The band commented, “We’re stoked to release our second album on Black Bow Records, and getting the opportunity to work with people who totally understand the type of music and expression we stand for.”

Throneless is a doom metal band from Malmö, Sweden, that through heavy downtuned fuzz, monotone and medative riffs focuses on waking people up from the masshypnosis we call society.

Tracklisting:
1 – BORN IN VAIN 9:43
2 – CYCLES 9:12
3 – SENSELESS 6:29
4 – ORACLE 14:05

Throneless are:
Johan Sundén – Guitar & Vocals
Patrik Sundberg – Bass & Artwork
Johan Burman – Drums & Production

https://www.facebook.com/thronelessdoom
https://thronelessdoom.bandcamp.com/
www.blackbowrecords.com/
blackbowrecords.bigcartel.com/
https://blackbowrecords.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Black-Bow-Records-565275456841866/

Throneless, Throneless (2015)

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Suma Announce November European Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 17th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Not that Suma were lacking for quality associations when it came to their 2016 offering, The Order of Things (review here), between releases through Argonauta and Init Records (CD), Throne Records (vinyl) and Tartarus Records (tape), but if you want to add the Netherlands’ Doomstar Bookings to that mix for presenting the Swedish band’s upcoming November run in support of the album, go for it. The Eindhoven-based booker also works with the likes of Primitive ManToner LowAgoraphobic Nosebleed and a host of others in a swath of various forms of extremity, so Suma are on yet another level keeping good company. Seems to be a thing they do.

Another thing they do? Well, on this tour they hit Belgium, Germany, France the UK and the Netherlands — so that’s a thing. If you didn’t hear the things in their proper Order, you can check out the full stream of the Billy Anderson-helmed record at the bottom of this post, and you probably should do so, because it absolutely destroys.

They have an open slot for Nov 9, so if you can help out in France/Belgium, do that too. Dates and info from the social medias:

suma-tour-poster

SUMA – November Tour

It is with great pride we announce the fall tour for Sweden’s cult spacesludgers SUMA. After their successful run with Unearthly Trance around Roadburn earlier this year they will take to the West European roads this time in support of their latest album The Order Of Things. We still have one TBA available for France/Belgium, anyone interested get in touch!

11.03 MTS Records Oldenburg Germany
11.04 Baroeg Rotterdam The Netherlands
11.05 The Pit’s Kortrijk Belgium
11.06 Underworld London UK
11.07 Le 3 Pieces Rouen France
11.08 La Scene Michelet Nantes France
11.09 TBA
11.10 The Jack Eindhoven The Netherlands

Hailing from Malmö, Sweden and formed in 2001 : SUMA has been spreading the plague of their sonic weight, noise-ridden hallucinatory doom metal on the world for the past decade and a half. Through these years they’ve lured hordes of humans into the lair with their devastatingly heavy, one way trip into the vortex live performances and crushing delivery on their recorded matters.

In 2016 they recorded their fourth album – THE ORDER OF THINGS – with legendary engine-ear BILLY ANDERSON (Pallbearer, Black Cobra, Agalloch, Tragedy) once again at the helm of the recording. This is the imminent evolution from the past’s behemoths of albums, LET THE CHURCHES BURN and ASHES.

SUMA:
>P. guitar
>J. bass/vocals
>E. drums
>R. samples/noise

https://www.facebook.com/sumanoise/
https://sumanoise.bandcamp.com/
http://www.argonautarecords.com/
http://www.initrecords.net/
http://tartarusrecords.com/
http://www.thronerecs.com/
https://www.facebook.com/doomstarbookings/

Suma, The Order of Things (2016)

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Agusa Premiere “Bortom Hemom” from New Self-Titled LP

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on September 28th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

agusa-Julio-Barcellos

Swedish progressive rockers Agusa will release their third self-titled album on Oct. 27 via The Laser’s Edge. What might informally be called Tre or Agusa Tre follows two years behind the preceding Agusa Två (review here) and brings five new tracks highlighting the pastoralism that the Malmö-based five-piece bring to their work. Without being overly lush or coated in effects, or losing themselves in indulgent attitudes, Agusa‘s instrumental compositions bask in a folkish traditionalism that nonetheless is all the more a standout for its complexity. Arrangements of guitar from Mikael Ödesjö, play out in consideration of the organ work of Jonas Barge (since replaced by Jeppe Juul) and Jenny Puertas‘ flute, while the inventive basslines of Tobias Petterson and drums/percussion — there’s plenty of both — from Tim Wallander course alongside with resonant nuance and groove. At least when the rhythm section isn’t actually driving the charge, that is. Much of the time on cuts like centerpiece “Den Fortrollade Skogen” (“the fortified forest”) and “Sagor Fran Saaris,” that’s exactly how it plays out.

Either way they go at any given moment, it only makes Agusa Tre — again, an informal title at least so far as I know; I’m just using it so no one thinks I’m talking about a different self-titled — all the more dynamic. Even as they head toward a cosmos on “Sagor från Saaris” (“stories from Saari”) that seems so distant from the ground they started on with opener “Landet Längesen” (“country lands,” appropriately enough), the rolling hillsides of which shine green and bright under a huge, yellow and full northern sun. The build in that leadoff and longest inclusion (immediate points for that) resonates no less than the song’s vocal-less hook, the whole band uniting around a gently flowing roll — the river, if we want to keep to the image already set — and moving gracefully into “Sorgenfri,” which takes its name from a neighborhood in Malmö.

Why does that matter? It matters because with Ödesjö‘s strumming guitar line and the bouncing flute from PuertasAgusa evoke a sense of place without the need agusa agusa trefor their audience to ever have actually been there. Barge‘s organ moves into a forward role in the second half of the five-minute cut, topping a subtle shuffle that finds Wallander washing out his cymbals even as he drives a straight-ahead charge that somehow still manages to swing. The turns are so tight that it’s almost a shame when “Sorgenfri” is over, or at least it would be if “Den Fortrollade Skogen” didn’t allow for a solid two minutes of digestion before embarking on its own eight-minute unfurling, a classically triumphant melody in the flute and keys matching step with the bass, drums and clean-toned guitar once more to reground the audience. As noted, “Sagor från Saaris” is more psychedelic, but also more subdued in all but Wallander‘s hi-hat and the prominence of the low end, which as the flute and guitar jazz-out kosmiche-style has a chance to shine before the final movement begins and brings a worthy apex, still holding out some noise on a long fade into closer “Bertom Hemom” (“beyond homeward”), the gorgeousness of which underscores the humility at heart in Agusa‘s approach on the whole.

To wit, it moves, it careens, it grooves — it has a complex and striking presentation of the elements at play, as shown when the electric guitar lead layer works its way in circa the three-minute mark amid the prior acoustic foundation and how aligned it becomes with Barge on organ and the overarching rhythm. This is the stuff of spinning heads — of repeat on repeat on repeat listens — and yet Agusa make it come through with such a naturalist warmth that one feels like they’re back in that open field again, like it’s the folk music of some unknown people who never existed or did and were otherwise too hippie-awesome to want to stick around on this square-despite-its-roundness planet and got back in their mothership in search of cooler terrain. After what one could argue is the crescendo of “Bertom Herom,” the flute and drums take hold and offer a stripped-down take on the rhythm as the foundation for the guitar and bass and organ to rejoin the fold, tying the song back to its start before the final measures crash out and somebody — one of them, I don’t know who it is — lets out a well-earned exhale. “Woof.” As if anything else needed to be said.

Agusa Tre‘s specific kind of immersion and hypnosis may or may not be for everybody, but for those willing to take it with an open mind on its own level, it’s quite simply going to be a release that offers satisfaction long after 2017 is over. I’m thrilled today to be able to host the premiere of “Bertom Hemom” ahead of the album coming out. You’ll find it on the player below, followed by a quick quote from Ödesjö about its making and more from the PR wire.

I sincerely hope you enjoy:

Mikael Ödesjö on “Bortom Hemom”:

“Bortom Hemom” translates roughly as “Beyond Homeward” and consists of two sections joined together by a bridge. The first part is in 7/4 and the second in 3/4. Perhaps our most “progressive” effort this far. Enjoy!

Agusa was recorded and mixed by Viktor Rinneby and mastered by Grammy-winning engineer Bob Katz, and completed with art by Danilo Stankovic and design by Peter Wallgren.

Laser’s Edge will release Agusa on digital, CD, and LP on October 27th. Find CD and LP preorders at Amazon HERE and digital preorders at Bandcamp HERE. This will be celebrated with release shows in Sweden and Denmark, after which the band will head east to play their first gigs on Russian soil.

Agusa on Bandcamp

Agusa on Thee Facebooks

The Laser’s Edge website

The Laser’s Edge on Thee Facebooks

The Laser’s Edge on Twitter

The Laser’s Edge on Bandcamp

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Agusa to Release Third Self-Titled LP Oct. 27

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 11th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

A key change in Agusa‘s changing of key players. The organ-minded Swedish purveyors of classic psychedelic progressive rock have set an Oct. 27 release date for their self-titled third album, to be delivered via The Laser’s Edge, and the record will mark the final appearance of organist Jonas Barge, who’s been recently replaced in the lineup by Jeppe Juul. All puns aside — or if not aside, just kind of hanging around someplace nearby — that’s a big shift for Agusa and could have a serious impact on the sound of their future work, though one gets the feeling that, one way or another and amid whatever changes were about to take place in their form, Agusa found their sonic peace in these recordings as they always seem to do. If you missed it, their 2016 two-track live outing, Katarsis, is streaming below in all its fusion-style immersive psych glory. Enjoy that. It’s there to be enjoyed.

The PR wire has more on the album and the lineup change:

agusa photo-by-Julio-Barcellos

AGUSA: Laser’s Edge To Release Eponymous Third Album By Swedish Psychedelic/Progressive Rock Alchemists In October

Swedish psychedelic/progressive rock alchemists AGUSA present their third full-length album, and second for Laser’s Edge, simply titled Agusa. The label will release the sprawling new LP worldwide in late October, unveiling the record’s artwork and information this week.

The follow-up to 2015’s Agusa 2 (Två ) sees the AGUSA circleexpanding their kaleidoscopic output which conjures images of nature and the cosmos, their extensive passages again leading the listener into fantastic realms of a possibly supernatural or parallel existence. While Agusa 2 (Två) engulfed forty minutes of music through two massive tracks, Agusa sees the band delivering their singular brand of trance-inducing, folk-inspired, occult rock through more traditional track lengths, offering five songs which range from five to ten-and-a-half minutes in length and are a bit heavier than the album’s predecessors.

Agusa was recorded and mixed by Viktor Rinneby and mastered by Grammy-winning engineer Bob Katz, and completed with art by Danilo Stankovic and design by Peter Wallgren.

Laser’s Edge will release AGUSA’s eponymous third album on digital, CD, and LP formats on October 27th. This will be celebrated with release shows in Sweden and Denmark, after which the band will head east to play their first gigs on Russian soil.

Agusa Track Listing:
1. Landet Langesen
2. Sorgenfri
3. Den Fortrollade Skogen
4. Sagor Fran Saaris
5. Bortom Hemom

In September 2016, AGUSA released their live disc Katarsis, which was recorded in Athens, Greece six months before. Following that release the band had hectic schedule with gigs in Scandinavia, Poland, and back to Greece. This proved to be too much for organ player Jonas Berge who left the band in January 2017, while recording the new Agusa album, which caused the band to take a pause in order to complete the album and replace Berge. Finding a talented organ player who would also fit into the group proved to be a difficult task, but finally Danish organ player Jeppe Juul was picked as Berge’s successor. Juul is originally from Denmark but now lives in the deep woods of southern Sweden in primitive circumstances, where they must carry all water from a nearby well and occasionally get some electricity from some solar cells on the roof. He has previously played with many acts in different genres; Marcus Miller, Royal Danish Ballet, and Lili Haydn, among many others.

AGUSA has performed live throughout Europe, including the mighty Roadburn Festival and more. Preceding the new Agusa album, flute player Jenny Puertas gave birth to a daughter in May which saw the band performing sans-flute for several shows, and additionally, organist Jonas Berge rejoined the lineup for several performances, which saw them playing live with two organ players. As always, AGUSA performed vastly different versions of the new songs live compared to how they ended up on the album, continuing their ongoing mission of turning every concert into something unique.

AGUSA:
Tobias Petterson – bass
Jeppe Juul – organ
Jenny Puertas – flute
Tim Wallander – drums, percussion
Mikael Ödesjö – guitar

http://www.agusaband.bandcamp.com
http://www.facebook.com/agusaband
http://www.lasersedgegroup.com
http://www.facebook.com/TheLasersEdge
http://www.twitter.com/thelasersedge
https://lasersedge.bandcamp.com

Agusa, Katarsis (2016)

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Sgt. Sunshine, Plataformas: Staying Sane

Posted in Reviews on January 3rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

sgt sunshine plataformas

Sweden’s Sgt. Sunshine are the ones who make it a party. Before they show up, everyone’s just kind of standing around, milling about, maybe chatting awkwardly at this or that issue of the day. Then, every couple of years, the Malmö-based troupe burst through the wall like the Kool-Aid guy with a new record and everybody remembers, “Oh shit, yeah! This is supposed to be fun!”

Plataformas is their latest reminder in this regard. It’s the fourth album overall in a career that now reaches well beyond a decade and a half, and its late-2016 self-release comes just three years behind Elektrohasch‘s 2013 issue of the preceding III (review here), which marked a return after six years. Comprised of 11 tracks, its 38-minute run is utterly defined by the manner in which it flows from one piece to the next so that by the time it gets down to “High Tide (100,000 LYW)” at the start of what’s almost certainly an intended side B — I haven’t seen word of a vinyl release, but it feels somewhat inevitable and the structure suits that purpose — the feel is more like the beginning of a medley than a collection of six individual tracks.

Likewise, founding guitarist/vocalist Eduardo Rodriguez — who plays bass here as well, working with drummer Roberto Sundin — frontloads the early-going with some of Plataformas‘ most memorable hooks in the opening salvo of “Ana Mazing,” “Mary Jane (Keeps You Sane)” and “Words of Wisdom” while also setting up the fluidity that continues to flesh out as “Bone Stake” and the dreamy “Love Unkind” slide deeper into a stylistic blend that pushes beyond genre bounds even as it plays to the stoner idolatry of “Mary Jane (Keeps You Sane).”

That song, the sleaze riff bounce of “Words of Wisdom” and “Bone Stake” touch on influences from funk and hip-hop that “Ana Mazing” hinted toward in its vocal patterning as well, but the vibe remains central, and Rodriguez assures throughout that nothing interrupts. A loose sensibility of groove has always been a huge part of Sgt. Sunshine‘s aesthetic, and that’s perhaps true even more on Plataformas than it’s ever been before — one can rightly think of a song like “Rio Rojas” from their landmark 2003 self-titled debut (discussed here) as a precursor to what “Ana Mazing” and “Words of Wisdom” accomplish — but along with that, one has to recognize the conscious effort on the part of Rodriguez and the band as a whole to bring that forward as done in these tracks.

sgt. sunshine

The fact that Sgt. Sunshine seem so comfortable as they shift from the winding, fuzzy end of “Ana Mazing” into the drum intro of the languidly nodding “Mary Jane (Keeps You Sane)” and from the rhythmically jammy “Surrender then Enter” through “How Can I Mend It” and into the two-minute acoustic and organ-infused “Golden” on side B only makes the listener more at home in these transitions, and there isn’t a moment on Plataformas that pulls one out of the overarching groove of the experience. Bands try to create a “whole-album” feel all the time, and some get there and some don’t, but rarely does an act do so with the kind of cohesive-but-molten duality of Sgt. Sunshine‘s fourth long-player, so that songs like the aforementioned “Golden” or the earlier drift of “Love Unkind” — probably the most psychedelic of the inclusions here, and one on which Rodriguez also drums, as he also does on “High Tide (100,000 LYW)” — have an almost tossed-off sensibility, like the band hit record in the studio, picked up their instruments, that’s what came out, and they decided to keep it because, well, it was lunchtime and there were other things to do that afternoon.

Of course, since Rodriguez is handling multiple instruments as well as vocals, that can’t at all be the way it happened. Bottom line is Sgt. Sunshine have taken something incredibly difficult to pull off and made it sound easy. And not in a sneaky manner, where Rodriguez is secretly telegraphing progressive undertones all the while or anything like that. The crunchier riff of “Bone Stake” and the full-on, bring-the-vocals-way-forward, ultra-catchy Brant Bjork-ian desertism of the penultimate “Got to Have You” are executed without pretense of any kind, and one finds as a result that the take-it-easy pacing of “How Can I Mend It” winds up much truer to the soul of the MC5 than any amount of garage posturing or vintage gear could’ve brought it.

Organics as a goal aren’t necessarily anything new for heavy psychedelia, but Plataformas isn’t just a heavy psych record, and Sgt. Sunshine‘s range shows itself through these pieces in a way that moves decisively forward from even where III found them a couple years ago, while sounding like a collection of off-the-cuff hooks and jams while actually most likely being the result of a meticulous recording process. The depth of this achievement is as pivotal to recognize as it is understated on the album itself, which again, is way more focused on the party it just started.

When “Surrender then Enter” starts and stops, so does the listener, and when closer “Walk Alone” brings around its linear build of earliest Queens of the Stone Age righteousness, the effect is suitably engaging to round out what’s been a journey of considerable distance, subtle efficiency and nuance distinct largely unto itself despite the appearance throughout of familiar elements. It does not seem unreasonable to think it benefits from Rodriguez‘s and the band’s years of experience, but even in doing so it remains forward-looking, more about what where it can go than where Sgt. Sunshine have been before, and as a result, they can and do go just about anywhere. An open flow, memorable songcraft, and tight performances of loose-spirited swing — there’s more complexity to Plataformas than even the album itself seems to know, and that’s exactly what makes it such a triumph.

Sgt. Sunshine, Plataformas (2016)

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