The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio Recap: Episode 18

Posted in Radio on June 24th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

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Before I get started, I want to say thanks to Mark Kitchens from Stone Machine Electric for the artwork above. He did the platypus design and I added the blue background and yellow text kind of thinking it would be like one of those old title cards from David Letterman or something. I love it, so yeah. Thanks, Mark.

Like the prior episode, this one was themed around a playlist of some of the best of 2019 so far. I actually didn’t get to hear the whole show because I was at Maryland Doom Fest this past weekend, but I did check in on it while doing other stuff in Frederick. One way or the other, the playlist starts with Holy Grove and has Yawning ManMagic CircleDuelNebulaRoadsawEarth and Across Tundras on it, so you know it’s going to be killer. Really, the only thing I’d have listened for was to make sure I didn’t ruin it with my own derpy derp derp.

I wanted to include some lesser-known stuff here too, so check out the Cosmic Fall, SÂVEREaldor Bealu and Mount Saturn tracks if you haven’t, and that Centrum at the end I really dig a lot. Hell, the whole thing is great. You really can’t go wrong when your operating theme is “stuff that’s awesome.”

Thanks if you got to check it out.

Here’s the full playlist:

The Obelisk Show – 06.21.19

Holy Grove Valley of the Mystics Holy Grove II 0:10:37
Duel Drifting Alone Valley of Shadows 0:04:27
The Well Death Song Death and Consolation 0:04:48
BREAK
Across Tundras The Rugged Ranges of Curbs & Broken Minds The Rugged Ranges of Curbs & Broken Minds 0:06:58
Yawning Man I Make Weird Choices Macedonian Lines 0:07:21
Cosmic Fall Lackland Lackland 0:08:32
Lamp of the Universe Rite of the Spheres Align in the Fourth Dimension 0:05:12
SÂVER Dissolve to Ashes They Came with Sunlight 0:07:43
Atala Upon the Altar The Bearer of Light 0:06:06
Magic Circle I’ve Found My Way to Die Departed Souls 0:05:11
BREAK
Mount Saturn Idol Hands Kiss the Ring 0:04:11
Nebula Man’s Best Friend Holy Shit 0:04:56
Ruff Majik Seasoning the Witch Tårn 0:06:31
Earth An Unnatural Carousel Full Upon Her Burning Lips 0:06:51
Ealdor Bealu Smoke Signals Spirit of the Lonely Places 0:07:32
BREAK
Roadsaw Under the Devil’s Thumb Tinnitus the Night 0:03:54
Centrum Sjön För Meditation 0:08:39

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio airs every other Friday at 1PM Eastern, with replays every Sunday at 7PM Eastern. Next show is July 5. Thanks for listening if you do.

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Six Dumb Questions with Mount Saturn

Posted in Six Dumb Questions on May 28th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

MOUNT SATURN

In the bleary-eyed early hours of 2019, when most heads were still clearing from the panicked revelry celebrating the march into an unknown and horrifying future, there came Kiss the Ring (discussed here), the debut EP/demo from Bellingham, Washington’s Mount Saturn. Then a four-piece and currently a trio seeking a drummer, the upstart outfit follows in the Pacific Northwestern tradition of putting the focus on riffs and melody, with guitarist Ray Blum and vocalist Violet Vasquez working in partnership to set a solid foundation of both throughout Kiss the Ring‘s four tracks, with bassist Cody Barton and then-drummer Tanner Scinocco locking down a duly weighted groove to counterbalance the spaciousness of the vocals and guitar.

The EP, preceded only by a single-version of its opening track “Dwell,” holds to a central method, but is varied in mood and approach around that enough to give its songs an organic sense of character, and as statements of intent go, it shows both a will toward progression and an ingrained penchant for songcraft, and it makes it clear that the band know where they want to reside on the spectrum of heavy and, most importantly for the longer term, they’re willing to adjust that balance as called for by their material and progressive intent.

I know you heard the thing, so I won’t prattle on, but just in case, there’s a full stream below from Bandcamp and tapes are newly available from Ice Fall Records. I wanted to get the basic background on the band and how they worked together to make the EP, and Vasquez and Blum were both kind enough to offer insight.

Please enjoy the following Six Dumb Questions.

Mount Saturn Kiss the Ring

Six Dumb Questions with Mount Saturn

How did Mount Saturn get together? Give me the origin story for the band.

Violet Vasquez: So myself and my partner Ray knew we wanted to start making “doom” or something that strayed a bit from conventional metal together, and starting by jamming together in an old storage unit. I had never sung before in a band, but really wanted to give it a shot, and Ray had been playing guitar for a while but had no projects. It started as something to do. We tried out a couple of drummers, and then decided to just write together for a bit and see what we had to say as writers. We were discovering so much new music together at this time and weren’t sure what we wanted to sound like. We took our time, for sure. Ray ended up starting the band Crystal Myth with Tanner, who he had jammed with in another band briefly, and then Cody came along by suggestion of our good friend Autumn. Essentially, the members of Crystal Myth were coerced into backing the songs that we been working on, and lending their talents to the development of new ones. They both just wanted to play music, so it wasn’t too hard to convince them. We were eager to contribute to a heavy scene that seemed to be experiencing a sort of resurrection in Bellingham and it’s been really fun to do that.

Tell me about writing Kiss the Ring. How did the songs take shape? You’d done a version of “Dwell” earlier. Was that the first song you wrote together?

VV: The first song we wrote together was a song we don’t have recorded, called “Down” about a witch who employs a wizard to fight a dragon. Perhaps a little heavy handed on the DOOM elements in retrospect, and it was a bit too long admittedly at seven minutes, but I recall it fondly! As far as writing Kiss the Ring goes, we would bring the skeletons of ideas to practice and work it out. We jammed a lot, and some of the things we expected to go one way went another based off the input and style of our rhythm section. I think songs like “Dwell” became keepers because of this. Generally, though, we had really good chemistry in jamming and got a few ideas that way. Once I found a melody that I liked to sing, that jam became a song in progress and would take shape from there.

How long were you in the studio making the EP, and what was the recording process like? Is there anything different you’d like to do next time around? Anything you’d like to keep just the same?

Ray Blum: We took a weekend in July 2018 to go to a studio in Anacortes, WA, called The Unknown with hopes of nailing down a drum and vocal sound that we liked. Erik Wallace, our engineer, suggested the space because it’s an old church with great acoustics. To this point in the band’s life, every studio experience has been successively better than the last, as we gather knowledge and an increased understanding of what we think the project should sound like. It was probably a faster process than we would have liked it to have been, but we had drums essentially done on the first day, guitar and bass done the second and vocals on the third. As far as things I would change, I would have liked to have spent a little more time trying to vary tones from song to song, but I think that’s what every guitar player thinks about studio time. Working with our friend Erik Wallace of Shibusa Sounds (who recorded, mixed and mastered the whole thing) was a blast and definitely something I would like to keep the same. He pulled not only a good sound out of us; but good performances, which at the youthful stage the band was at, was integral to the positive response that the EP received. Next time, we’d like to really take our time and try to record more things live.

Of course, the Pacific Northwest is a huge hotbed for bands and all that. What influence do you take from your surroundings, whether it’s nature, other bands, whatever? What does being from the PNW mean to you?

VV: Mount Saturn would probably not be the band we are without the doom, the gloom, and Holy Grove. We love that band, they’ve inspired our inception in a way, truly. We love our often-gloomy surroundings, too, and there’s no doubt that fuels our moods and keeps us inside jamming or writing. Being from the PNW, we are also living in a pretty socially-conscious area, and I’d say I tend to definitely focus on those kinds of issues thematically. Half our songs are about issue of feminism and the fight for equality across genders, but issues of racism and classism are also on our minds, and on the minds of people we play with or those who come to our shows. Those themes, they’re not just fueling our lyrics, but our passionate performances, too. It’s a way to heal that pain and I think it’s why we’ve gotten a good response locally; people want to be healed and empowered by music.

You seem to have a good idea of what you’re looking for in terms of your sound and style. How do you see the band growing as you move forward?

RB: It’s tough to say how we think the band will grow musically moving forward at the moment. We’re in the process of replacing our drummer (Tanner left shortly after Kiss the Ring was recorded), and we can’t make any assumptions about future sounds until we have an understanding of what that new person may bring to the table. I would say that our influences have certainly shifted slightly away from purely doom metal and more towards psych rock but I would hesitate to guess how that will be reflected in the writing at such an early stage.

Will you tour? Any other plans or closing words you want to mention?

VV: You know, we would love to. We’re in the process of looking for the right drummer to join us so we can start writing a full-length and at least go down the coast a bit before the end of 2020. Wish us luck! Also, keep your eye out for our pals in Dryland who are about to release their first full-length. They’re Bellinghamsters, too, and we can’t get enough of them.

Mount Saturn, Kiss the Ring (2019)

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The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio Recap: Episode 09

Posted in Radio on February 4th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

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Good show. I had fun, anyway. I cut the voice breaks for this one while The Patient Mrs. and her mom took The Pecan out to the grocery store, but the breaks nonetheless worked out to be maybe a minute longer than usual and that gave me a little rant time. Right before I played Goatsnake, which was the “new classic” choice cut for this episode, I went off about doing my dishes as rock and roll. As usual with words coming out of my mouth, the idea was kind of half-represented, but what I was talking about was the notion that your love of music should be a part of your life, not something separate from the rest of it. If you love music, it shouldn’t be something you segregate from the rest of who you are — something you sneak off to a dive bar to partake of — it should be a part of your everyday. I cut radio voice breaks while running the dishwasher. It’s a part of who I am.

How fortunate I have this post to explain the half-formed notions I don’t have the wherewithal to properly express vocally. Huzzah.

Anyway, if you got to listen, I tried to set this one up with a good flow from front to back plus a couple stark contrasts in the second hour. The break is between Graven and SubRosa, contrary to what the playlist says, but I liked that transition anyhow, and I think you can see early on that the focus is on some boogie with a sense of atmosphere. I talk up the Green Lung record again, because, well, it’s worth talking up, and dig into a few other things that I think are killer, including that Mount Saturn EP, which is likewise right on. And then I dip back from new music to play SubRosa’s “The Mirror” from their SubDued: Live at Roadburn 2017 release, because it’s a song I sing to The Pecan when I put him down for naps and have just about every day since he was born some 15 months ago. Fun stuff.

If you missed the show, it airs again tomorrow at 9AM Eastern at http://gimmeradio.com

And if you dig this and want to hear more of The Obelisk Show, Gimme of course has their archive set up that you can sign on for at a reasonable price and dig into a bunch of various kinds of metallurgy.

Okay, here’s the playlist. Thanks to reading and/or listening:

The Obelisk Show Ep. 09 – 02.03.19

Straytones Dark Lord Beware, Dark Lord! Here Comes Bell-Man* 0:04:07
Green Lung Let the Devil In Woodland Rites* 0:05:02
BREAK
Geezer Spiral Fires Pt. 1 Spiral Fires* 0:05:50
Seedium Mist Haulers Seedium* 0:09:15
Crypt Trip Wordshot Haze County* 0:04:22
Cloud Catcher Beneath the Steel The Whip EP* 0:04:45
Heavy Feather Waited All My Life Debris & Rubble* 0:03:10
Mount Saturn Dwell Kiss the Ring* 0:07:08
BREAK
Goatsnake Mower I + Dog Days 0:06:05
The Black Heart Death Cult Davidian Beam Dream The Black Heart Death Cult 0:05:50
Crystal Spiders Tigerlily Demo* 0:05:37
Swallow the Sun When a Shadow is Forced into the Light When a Shadow is Forced into the Light* 0:07:26
Graven Backwards to Oblivion Heirs of Discord* 0:06:15
SubRosa The Mirror SubDued: Live at Roadburn 0:04:43
BREAK
Electric Octopus Mouseangelo Smile* 0:12:58
Tia Carrera Early Purple Visitors/Early Purple* 0:16:28

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio airs every other Sunday night at 7PM Eastern, with replays the following Tuesday at 9AM. Next show is Feb. 17. Thanks for listening if you do.

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Mount Saturn Premiere “Salt”; Debut EP Kiss the Ring out Jan. 4

Posted in audiObelisk, Whathaveyou on December 13th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

mount saturn (Photo by Tommy Calderon)

Bellingham, Washington, heavy rockers Mount Saturn will release their debut EP, Kiss the Ring, on Jan. 4. The 25-minute four-tracker comes preceded only by the digital single “Dwell,” which also shows up as the leadoff cut on the forthcoming release and makes for a right-on seven-minute leadoff, the echoing vocals of Violet Vasquez following the riffs of Ray Blum on an outwardly-directed astral plane of reverb and grooving heft. Got that bass punch tho from Cody Barton and the drums of Tanner Scinocco, whose snare cuts through the tonal density surrounding in order to give ground to what otherwise would surely take flight, some double-kick coinciding with second-half squibblies in “Dwell” that, in another context and from another WA -state band, would be black metal. Mount Saturn are up to a different kind of business.

The nod is pervasive throughout Kiss the Ring, as the 4:12 shortest cut “Idol Hands” demonstrates despite a somewhat faster tempo and more rocking swing ahead of the brash Mount Saturn Kiss the Ringgarage intro to the penultimate “Salt.” The overarching feel of the release is very much in the debut EP vein, as Mount Saturn began their exploration just last year, but a drive toward aesthetic can be heard in the tracks all the same, whether it’s the already-noted cavernousness of Vasquez‘s voice throughout or the depth of Blum‘s guitar tone, which lends immediate character to the songs and is suited to the feeling of space as well as that of the earthier groove supported by Barton and Scinocco. “Salt” echoes through a slowdown to cut out before the closing title-track, which again leads off with Blum‘s guitar as the focal point — a task to which it stands up well. Barton‘s bass kicks in at around 40 seconds and is a thick, distinct presence, while Scinocco holds town a straightforward beat still portentous of change to come. They drop back to a more spacious progression to give Vasquez room in the mix and find a new balance between molten and solidified impulses. An all-out psychedelic finish would be a decent enough fit, but Mount Saturn don’t quite get there, opting instead to stick to the hook in “Kiss the Ring” and trade back and forth from that to a solo, capping with both.

It’s the band’s first outing, so take “Salt” with the appropriate grain if you need to in order to dive into the premiere below — which I’m thrilled to host — but if you can’t hear the potential in its run, then you’re missing out. Tracks were recorded by Erik Wallace. Again, it’s out Jan. 4.

Please enjoy:

Mount Saturn rises from the damp soil of the Pacific Northwest to forge a heavy sound that worships riffs, dabbles in psychedelia and takes no shit. Formed in 2017, the heavy quartet has had the pleasure of sharing a stage with some of the West Coast’s best, including Holy Grove, Castle, and Mos Generator.

‘Kiss the Ring’ is their debut EP, recorded at The Unknown in Anacortes, and engineered and mastered by Erik Wallace of Shibusa Sounds, which the band will self-release on January 4th, 2019.

Mount Saturn is:
Cody Barton on Bass
Ray Blum on Guitar
Violet Vasquez on Vox; and on this recording,
Tanner Scinocco on Drums

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