Posted in Whathaveyou on May 20th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Man, I saw Fatso Jetson earlier this year, and let me tell you, wherever they are is where you want to be. They’re one of four bands to join the ranks of Keep it Low 2016 today, along with John Garcia, NJ’s venerable The Atomic Bitchwax and London trio Bright Curse, which only makes an already strong lineup stronger. Interesting that the news from Sound of Liberation mentions a new Garcia full-length. The former Kyuss/Vista Chino singer (along with Unida, Hermano, etc.) has made some mention of a new full-band outing to be issued under his name and an acoustic solo record as well, but I haven’t seen concrete word of a release date yet for either. “By the time October gets here” makes for a decent ballpark figure though, so I guess I’ll run with that.
Details from the PR wire:
KEEP IT LOW 2016! Oct. 21st & 22nd… John Garcia, The Atomic Bitchwax, Fatso Jetson & Bright Curse Confirmed!
4 new bands joined the KEEP IT LOW FESTIVAL 2016 line-up this afternoon, bringing the total of bands to 13 so far!
Alongside Colour Haze, Elder, Greenleaf, Monkey3, Toner Low, 1000Mods, Black Rainbows, Duel and Kind, we are stoked to welcome to our 4th edition the almighty John Garcia (coming with his full band, a new album, and surely some Kyuss classics in the set!), legendary US Fuzz Rock Riffmasters The Atomic Bitchwax (still promoting their terrific 2015’s album “Gravitron”), Fatso Jetson (Desert rock godfather Mario Lalli is always welcome at our festival) and Bright Curse (which released their excellent debut album “Before The Shore” last week).
KEEP IT LOW 2016 will happen on October 21st and 22nd in FEIERWERK (Munich) and will greet with 3 stages and around 20 bands, outside beergarden & skatepark. On this upcoming edition we are setting up a cozy and rain protected outside area with food and drink station. We also decided to play already on 2 stages on the Friday night and ending both KIL nights with aftershow parties and Dj Sets (Friday until 3 am and Saturday until 5 am).
Hard Tickets (2-day passes) are available on Woolheads for 65 €! Online tickets are also available on Eventim!
Posted in Whathaveyou on April 27th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Seems I missed a recent announcement from Keep it Low 2016 — aka Keep it Low Issue #4 — whereby the Munich-based autumnal gathering added Kind, 1000mods and Duel to its lineup. All three interesting picks. It’ll be Kind‘s first time abroad, and working with Duel means involvement from Heavy Psych Sounds, so it’s not such a surprise that in the latest round of additions, we also get Black Rainbows joining on. Elder take their place at/near the top of the bill as well, and probably the biggest question there is for Keep it Low 2016 at this point is whether or not the new Elder LP, which I hear is in the works, will be out by the time October gets here. I know I’m curious as hell to know what the trio have come up with this time around.
Also bringing their formidable presence to Keep it Low 2016 are Greenleaf, whose new album, Rise Above the Meadow, stands tall among the finest heavy rockers of the year so far, and the previously announced Monkey3, Colour Haze and Toner Low. It already looked like a good time. Now it looks like an even better one.
Keep It Low – Festival 2016 gets even better with the addition of:
– Massachusetts’ ultimate progressive stoner rock trio Elder (whose last album “Lore” is considered as one of the best releases of 2015),
– Sweden´s fantastic Heavy Rockers Greenleaf (who released their new album “Rise Above The Meadow” via Napalm Records in February),
– and Italian fuzz-fueled rockers BLACK RAINBOWS (who released a few weeks ago their fifth LP “Stellar Prophecy” via HeavyPsych Sounds)!
– the Hellenic grooviest psychedelic quartet 1000mods,
– the brand new Texas-based southern heavy rock outfit DUEL (featuring 2 ex Scorpion Child members)
– and Boston’s tripped out stoner doom supergroup KIND_band (featuring members of Elder, Black Pyramid, Sasquatch, Roadsaw and Rozamov).
Kind released their debut album “Rocket Science” last year via Ripple Music, Duel unleashed their first full length “Fears Of The Dead” in February via Heavy Psych Sounds, and 1000Mods are currently working on their third one, to be released next fall.
Posted in Whathaveyou on April 1st, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
I was dying to get to Keep it Low this past Fall and didn’t make it, and here we are again and Sound of Liberation has begun announcing bands for Keep it Low 2016. This is the fourth edition of the laid-back, Munich-based fest, the vibe of which I feel like bleeds through even the press releases, and I’ll keep my fingers crossed that this is the year I can actually make the trip happen. What was the problem last year? Oh yeah, that’s right. No money. Ever. Ugh.
The first three bands have been announced as being Colour Haze, Monkey3 and Toner Low, which are enough to pique interest on their own, never mind however many others are going to be added over the next half a year. Well, you know me. I’ll be here, daydreaming about booking a flight all the while. Something tells me this is gonna be one to see.
It’s time to unveil our first bands for KEEP IT LOW FESTIVAL 2016, that will happen on October 21st and 22nd in FEIERWERK (Munich)! We are thrilled to tell you that Psychedelic Rock purveyors Colour Haze will perform one of their rare 2016 shows on October, Friday 21st. We love them here, Munich is their home town, and it has become sort of a ritual to let them play on the first night of Keep It Low.
Then, on Saturday 22nd, we’ll have the great pleasure to welcome the Swiss Heavy Psych outfit Monkey3, presenting their trippy upcoming 6th album, and The Netherland’s Stoner Doom trio Toner Low, who hadn’t played in Germany for a while… we wanted that fixed!
KEEP IT LOW 2016 greets with 3 stages and around 20 bands, outside beergarden & skatepark. For the ones keeping it really low, we decided to end the festival with an aftershow party (+DJ) on the 22nd in one of the concert rooms.
Our Early Bird – Hard Tickets (2-day passes) are available on Woolheads for 56 €! Online tickets are also available on Eventim! Grab yours quick :)
More bands will be announced in April, but meanwhile… Keep It Low!
Posted in Whathaveyou on July 10th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
By way of being completely honest, I knew My Sleeping Karma were being added to the third Keep it Low festival, which is set for Oct. 16 and 17 in Munich. I know because I asked. I’ve been giving some pretty serious thought — now that I have an income again — toward getting on a plane and making my way out for the two-day event, whose lineup is nigh-on-unfuckwithable, what with Causa Sui, Colour Haze, Fatso Jetson, Samsara Blues Experiment, and so on, but the chance to see My Sleeping Karma was something that I knew would put it over the edge in my mind. And so the confirmation of their appearance has done precisely that. I’m going to do everything in my power to make it happen. Flights will be booked.
Steak, Sgt. Sunshine — stop and imagine seeing Sgt. Sunshine live for just a minute; I mean, seriously — and A Great River in the Sky were also confirmed for the lineup. It goes like this:
New announcement! 4 more bands confirmed for Keep It Low – Festival 2015: – German mind-blowing sonic quartet MY SLEEPING KARMA – the British fuzzed-out sandy rock tornado Steak – Swedish heavy psych jammers Sgt.Sunshine – and the new psychedelic outfit A Great River In The Sky.
95% of the line-up has now been unveiled, and KEEP IT LOW VOL I & II had been sold out in advance, so to be part of the big family happening with Beergarden, Skatepark and the coolest bands, better get your ticket now! Limited Hardtickets and online/print-at-home tickets can be ordered onwww.keepitlow.de/tickets(55€ + shipping/taxes). Rock on!
MY SLEEPING KARMA is a German Instrumental quartet that takes you into a mind-blowing sonic experience. They are no beginners, no amateurs, and when they hop on stage they make you forget about everything around you: they take you by the hand into the deepest and hidden corners of your very soul.
MY SLEEPING KARMA combines the organic aspect of psychedelic groove rock with emotional shades of aphasian landscapes.With ‘Moskha’, their fifth album released in the Spring 2015, MY SLEEPING KARMA achieved their strongest record to date. The sound and tone of the album perfectly fits into the Instrumental Progressive – and Ambient Post Rock realms. From the start the listener is kidnapped by the spherical sound, between enormous atmospheric compositions with pure rock riffs and psychedelic melodies perfectly intertwined into this scenery.
Immerse yourself, both with the risk of completely losing yourself in this brand new masterpiece, because you might not be able to emerge again.
STEAK are from London, UK. Gritz lovin, whore hoppin’ mud slingin’, if you want fuzzed up stoner grooves, then you want a piece of STEAK…
Within four years, STEAK have established themselves as one of the British stoner rock scene’s most satisfying acts. Following the sandy steps of their American elders Fu Manchu or Kyuss, STEAK’s enthusiastic stoner rock sound is driven by ballsy riffs and contagious grooves, sparingly tinged with moments of pure cosmic escapism.
After two critically acclaimed EPs ‘Disastronaught’ and ‘Corned Beef Colossus’, and a serie of successful gigs across Spain, France, Switzerland and the UK, STEAK released last year their debut album ‘Slab City’ via Napalm Records. Just listen to that psychedelic purr, it will surely make you lift off and soar through the sky!
SGT. SUNSHINE is a three piece rock band formed in Malmoe, Sweden by the guitarist and lead singer Eduardo Fernandez, bass player Pär Hallgren and Christian Lundberg on drums. They recorded some demos around 1998-99 that placed them amongst one of the leading underground rock bands of the time.
For over 15 years, Swedish rockers have released 3 albums (2002?s Sgt. Sunshine – an album that many years later still rings in the ears of those who were fortunate enough to hear it – 2007?s Black Hole and 2013?s III), carving out a potent and sparkling blend of desert groove and heavy psych jamming.
Currently signed on Heavy Psych Sounds Records, SGT. SUNSHINE is working on their new album that will be released beginning of 2016. We might have new songs to listen @ Keep It Low!
The word seems to have fallen out of use as quickly as it came into it, but I remain something of a completist, and Colour Haze‘s 1998 second full-length, Seven, has haunted the back of my mind for years. Perhaps even more since March 2012, when I shelled out for a copy of the German outfit’s moody 1995 debut, Chopping Machine (discussed here), since that made Seven the last of their full-lengths I didn’t own. The only one. To date, Colour Haze have 11 records, and just the one I didn’t have. If you listened hard enough, you could hear the teeth gnawing at me. Squint, and you could see the hole on my CD rack.
Early in 2014, I put up a review of their 2001 fifth outing, Ewige Blumenkraft, which boasts the track “House of Rushammon.” That song originally appeared on Seven, and I referred to the album in a parenthetical aside as, “the Great White Whale of my CD collection; someday I’ll own a copy and gaze upon it with pride for the remainder of my days.” Extreme, maybe, but not untrue. You might think I’m kidding around when I title these posts “Buried Treasure,” but I’m not. I place real value on owning albums, CD, LP or tape, whatever format it might be, and being the last of Colour Haze‘s work I hadn’t heard — having refused to chase down an illicit download or listen on YouTube — Seven was a genuine prize in my head.
I knew from hearing Chopping Machine and the fact that the band hadn’t reissued it that it probably wouldn’t be a landmark in terms of the actual material itself, but still. Still several years off from guitarist/vocalist Stefan Koglek starting his Elektrohasch Schallplaten imprint, Seven was released on CDR with inkjet-printed labels on the jokingly dubbed Self Burn Records. I don’t even know if they made 100 copies, let alone any more than that. It’s never been re-pressed, was never widely distributed, and in the wake of the brilliant offerings they’ve had since, has been largely forgotten, much, I think, by design.
A package arrived a short while ago from Munich. After that Ewige Blumenkraft review, Koglek teased that he’d have to see if he could find a “great white whale” for me, but honestly, I wasn’t holding onto much hope. Then there it was. Having just been through a move, Koglek not only found a copy of Seven, in its original jewel case with the printed liners and all, but took the time to send it over with a few other choice keepsakes to be detailed at another time, knowing that, indeed, I’d spend the rest of my days gazing on it with pride. The included note read, “Hi JJ, As it happens… it took a while but I stumbled over the ‘white whale’ for you during the preparation for our move. Hope you enjoy all the goodies a lot. :) All the best, Stefan.”
This, my friends, is the stuff of life.
I’m almost hesitant to talk too much about the album itself, since the band obviously doesn’t really want it out there or else it would be; they have their own label and haven’t been shy in the past about putting stuff out again when they feel the time and circumstances warrant. Like Chopping Machine, the audio of seven is a long way from what Colour Haze would become in years subsequent — for one thing, they’re a four-piece, with standalone vocalist Felix Neuenhoff singing and Koglek handling backing vocals and guitar while Philip Rasthofer plays bass and Manfred Merwald (listed in the liner as “Mani,” as I’ve heard others refer to him) plays drums — the trio as they are today otherwise intact.
And while one can hear where Koglek, who was at the time engaged in the work of finding his own voice, may have later taken some influence from Neuenhoff, Seven is a different vibe throughout that I think would surprise a lot of people who follow Colour Haze today, from the post-grunge grit of “Planet” to the Christian lyrical themes in “Under Water,” “Superstar” and “House of Rushammon” — those would remain intact on the re-recorded version, but the context is different — to the early-Tool-style rhythmic push of “Second Man” or “Pulse,” which also appears as an instrumental as the finale of Seven‘s 71-minute run.
Yet, particularly in light of the work they’ve done in the 17 years since, from the exploratory first steps toward their groundbreaking heavy psychedelia in the next year’s Periscope to 2015’s To the Highest Gods We Know (review here), one can hear flashes of what’s to come, in the deft turns Merwald makes sound so fluid, or in the rumble of Rasthofer‘s bass and the standalone moments of Koglek‘s guitar. They’d make that shift quickly, losing Neuenhoff within a year’s time and beginning to form the classic power trio dynamic they continue to refine, but one can hear listening to Seven the shift taking place between what they were on Chopping Machine and what they’d be on Periscope, and I consider myself unbelievably lucky to have had the chance to hear that for myself on an actual copy of the record.
Copious and heartfelt thanks to Koglek for that opportunity. Rest assured, I’ll be storing Seven somewhere with an easy line of sight.
Colour Haze, “House of Rushammon” from Seven (1998)
Posted in Whathaveyou on January 26th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Colour Haze and Radio Moscow on the bill. Given enough time, I’m quite sure I could come up 100,000 things I’d want to see less than that. Start with “anything” and work your way back from there. It might take a few minutes, but given how high that show would be in this hypothetical hierarchy of stuff-I’d-like-to-see, there’s plenty of room for monuments, mountaintops, oceans, and so on. We’d hit the 100,000 mark no problem. I’m sure of it.
The two acts will begin headlining the Up in Smoke Volume 5 tour — actually they call it a “psychedelic roadfestival,” which I like — on Feb. 27, joined for a stretch by Cherry Choke, whose new album, Raising the Waters, is due out next month on Elektrohasch, and meeting up along the way with The Sun and the Wolf, Mars Red Sky, The Midnight Ghost Train and others. Watching Colour Haze play a hometown show in Munich with Radio Moscow and Mars Red Sky? Yeah, I’d catch that if the opportunity were to present itself.
PR wire info comes courtesy of Sound of Liberation, who put the whole thing together:
COLOUR HAZE – Up In Smoke Tour (with RADIO MOSCOW and guests) kicks off in 1 month – Check Videotrailer, Dates and News
2011 seems like yesterday when we decided to pack up 3 to 4 awesome bands in a bus to tour Europe and rock your ears! 4 editions have gone by, 2 packed indoor festivals have witnessed your love for the music and the concept, so ladies and gentelmen, get ready!
In a month, we will write a new volume in the UP IN SMOKE history, and it will be a blast!! The fifth edition of your favorite roadfestival will feature 3 awesome bands for your pleasure:
Europes most well known psychedelic institution COLOUR HAZE which have their brand new album “To the Highest Gods we Know” in their suitcase!
America’s most heavy blues machine RADIO MOSCOW whose last album “Magical Dirt” (released in June 2014) sent all of us on another trip into heavy psychedelic headphone heaven.
UK’s fuzz driven psych rockers CHERRY CHOKE (from March 1st to 7th only) whose new album “Raising The Waters” will be released in the next weeks! Stay tuned for updates, you don’t wanna miss it!
On the other shows, Colour Haze and Radio Moscow will go with other outstanding special guests. Watch the amazing TRAILER made by Stonnerrock.eu, and check-out the listing below for details and tickets’ links. We invite you to join the trip! Come on and blow up your mind at the UP IN SMOKE ROADFESTIVAL!
Colour Haze & Radio Moscow
Plus Special Guests 27.02 (D) Stuttgart, Universum (w/ The Sun & The Wolf) 28.02 (D) Cologne, Live Music Hall (w/ The Sun & The Wolf) 01.03 (UK) London, The Garage (w/ Cherry Choke) 02.03 (FR) Paris, Le Divan du Monde (w/ Cherry Choke) 03.03 (BEL) Brussels, Magasin 4 (w/ Cherry Choke) 04.03 (D) Hamburg, Markthalle (w/ Cherry Choke) 05.03 (D) Berlin, SO36 (w/ Cherry Choke) 06.03 (A) Vienna, Arena (w/ Cherry Choke) 07.03 (A) Salzburg, Rockhouse (w/ Cherry Choke) 08.03 (D) Leipzig, Taubchenthal (w/ Kalamahara) 09.03 (D) Munich, Feierwerk (w/ Mars Red Sky) 10.03 (IT) Milano, Lofi (support band tba) 11.03 (D) Frankfurt, Das Bett (w/ The Midnight Ghost Train) 12.03 (NL) Tilburg, 013 (support band tba) 13.03 (D) Würzburg, Posthalle (w/ The Grounding) 14.03 (D) Hannover, Faust (support band tba)
Posted in Reviews on January 6th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
In 2012, when Munich trio Colour Haze — guitarist/vocalist Stefan Koglek, bassist Philipp Rasthofer and drummer Manfred Merwald — released their 10th album, the two-disc She Said (review here), it felt like an event. That record was four years in the making, which was the longest split the band had known between two albums, and plagued by technical trouble setting up their own Colour Haze Studio, at which it was, finally, recorded. The challenges they faced made the output even more of a triumph — not to mention the grandiose feel of horn and string-inclusive songs like “Transformation” and “Grace,” respectively, giving the whole affair a boldly progressive feel worthy of following up 2008’s ultra-warm All. It was the best album of 2012. With a last-minute 2014 CD release and 2015 vinyl issue through Koglek‘s Elektrohasch Schallplatten imprint, the 11th Colour Haze full-length, To the Highest Gods We Know, would seem to have no small task in following it up. As a fan of the band — and very much writing this review from that perspective, should there be any doubt — I’m glad to see the three-piece return to their every-two-years-or-so rhythm of releases. The 40-minute/five-track To the Highest Gods We Know arrives without drama, recorded at Colour Haze Studio in Munich on two-inch tape with production by Koglek and Charly Bohaimid, mixed analog on quarter-inch tape, with an accordingly classic sound that for those who’ve followed the band or felt their influence in others both within European heavy psych and beyond it should be reasonably familiar, but as ever, one gets a sense of progression from Colour Haze, their lack of creative stagnation being one of the most key elements in what they do. This album is no exception, despite a somewhat deceptive stripped-down vibe in comparison to its predecessor.
Rather, it is precisely through a back-to-basics feel on the first four cuts (we’ll get to that closer) that To the Highest Gods We Know avoids the trap of being the “follow-up” to She Said. It dodges the bullet completely, and where She Said made its grandest statements in flourishes of arrangement, songs like opener “Circles” and the instrumental centerpiece “Überall” do precisely the opposite. They represent Colour Haze rediscovering their processes in this new space of their own studio. The warmth of tone from Koglek and Rasthofer, the steady roll and ever-classy style of Merwald arrive with an exploratory freshness throughout To the Highest Gods We Know because, essentially, with this record, Colour Haze are re-learning how to be Colour Haze. It’s not like they took four-plus years to build their own studio and they’re going to go record somewhere else. They’ve made themselves a home — like they did before with their own label — and these songs sound like the process by which they’re getting acclimated to it. I wouldn’t say that makes them tentative, because any band 11 albums deep into their career has enough of a sense of what they want to not really worry about it, but it definitely makes them relaxed, which of course suits their laid back heavy sound just fine. Launching the album, “Circles” (8:27) begins with a sweet hum of ambient feedback, Koglek‘s guitar swelling in before starting the first line, simple and soon joined by Rasthofer and Merwald. Relatively speaking, there is no grand intro. The first verse is underway by the two-minute mark, and it proves to be the inviting nature of the song itself that carries the listener into the flow that continues over subsequent tracks. A linear build plays out subtly past the first verse and into the second, the guitar and bass working around each other while Merwald holds together a fluid nod, and just as they pass the halfway point, “Circles” kicks into a fuller riff marked out by the inclusion of either horns or flutes — both appear on the album and there is a rush of volume surrounding — before opening to its payoff riff, a lumbering air-pusher that still keeps to the atmosphere preceding, and giving way to a proggy turn that brings back the wind instruments.
Guitar and bass work through lead lines and quiet down before, exploding once more to full breadth, the flute coming forward and following the guitar line for a few measures to close out, a quick sustained note fading and bringing in the chunky riff of the shorter, more verse/chorus-based “Paradise.” One is immediately reminded of “This” from the last album, and “Paradise” serves a similar function in backing the opener, but is a more memorable standout, and puts to welcome use one of Colour Haze‘s signature riff progressions that has been molded and repurposed as a cross-album theme since their 2004 self-titled and the title-track to 2006’s Tempel. Here, layers of harmonized vocals ride the song’s apex, which crashes to another quick finish and gives way to the soft noodling at the start of “Überall,” an 8:45 exploratory jam that provides one of To the Highest Gods We Know‘s most central moments of atmosphere. Christian Hawellek guests on Doepfer modular synth, which adds texture to the patterned but still natural movement of “Überall,” shifting from its softer opening noodling to a more rhythmically active build of tension that as they approach four minutes in, Colour Haze open to a bigger-sounding lead that establishes a tradeoff they’ll soon make again, the synth lending an extra current of melody in swelling and receding in the mix with the guitar, bass and drums. Just past seven minutes in, another riff takes hold that, if it was on anyone else’s record I’d call it “very Colour Haze,” and serves as the foundation for the closing movement of the track, which delightfully plods out its ending before a final crash gives way to humming feedback and what one assumes is the end of side A on the vinyl. To the Highest Gods We Know‘s most progressive inclusions await in “Call” and the closing title-track, but a song like “Überall” emphasizes just how much Colour Haze‘s sound is their own as they approach the 20-year mark since the release of their first album, 1995’s Chopping Machine (discussed here), and how even working in familiar terrain, the raw chemistry between Rasthofer, Merwald and Koglek is more than enough to carry them.
That might not be a revelation at this point. Colour Haze‘s discography is full of such examples, but perhaps what distinguishes “Überall” is its efficiency, the smoothness of its execution and how essential it makes all of its eight minutes while still keeping a laid back, unhurried mood. With “Call,” the band shifts into a somewhat different vibe, Rasthofer moving to Hammond M3 to set a foundation for Koglek‘s resonant, fuzzed-out opening guitar lines. I’ve said on many occasions that Koglek‘s guitar has the finest, richest tone since Jimi Hendrix, and I dare you to listen to the first few minutes of “Call” and tell me otherwise. With just organ and guitar as a bed, the verse begins. Drums and bass show up later, but “Call” reads like a contemplative aside, and it’s a peaceful, spiritual moment that pushes deep into psychedelic moods without actually sounding all that tripped out in terms of effects or synth, etc. Vocals are calm to the point of serenity in the three verses, which smoothly transition out of the last verse and into the riff that will, after a brief pause, introduce Merwald‘s drums and Rasthofer‘s bass along with a heavier thrust and provide the instrumental apex of “Call” and the LP as a whole, the Hammond humming out behind all the while as Koglek‘s guitar leads the build forward in measure after measure until dropping out quickly to the start of “To the Highest Gods We Know,” which is Colour Haze‘s most experimental track to date. It is the only song on the record that carries its name to pass 10 minutes in length, and in its arrangement, it brazenly moves out of the band’s stylistic wheelhouse while holding firm to their trademark rhythmic sensibilities. With strings arranged and conducted by Mathis Nitschke, an intro of Spanish-style acoustic guitar gradually comes forward to open backed by sustained string notes, setting immediately the texture that defines the progression of the song itself.
It feels almost out of its time. Completely instrumental, “To the Highest Gods We Know,” as it unfolds its central balance of acoustic guitar and strings, sounds almost like the sonic experiment that would’ve lead the band to later produce “Grace” from She Said by further incorporating those elements into their established pattern of songwriting. Of course, the timing is reversed, but the arrangement of “To the Highest Gods We Know” is that much bolder then, because essentially what Colour Haze have done with it is abandoned that established pattern. Guitar and strings swell between the third and fourth minute, quiet down and introduce a percussion line that’s almost a march, to which guitar plucking notes in vague time. The strings soon return to play off, and where so much of the band’s approach is about melody — and there’s a melody here, make no mistake — the primary impression of To the Highest Gods We Know‘s title-track is its rhythm. It becomes a wash of rhythm as the strings kick back in and build toward open, distinctly Colour Haze-esque crashes, a winding line of guitar following. They recede and then swell again in a similar fashion, hitting a crescendo more about intensity than volume or tonal thickness, before dropping out once more to intricate acoustic guitar, nature sounds captured by former drummer Tim Höfer and the somewhat tense, delightfully odd fadeout that closes the album, reinforcing the strange note on which Colour Haze have decided to cap To the Highest Gods We Know, their finale as much an offering as it is a statement that as much as they have established a modus for themselves, that doesn’t mean they’re not going to push beyond it every now and again.
The reminder leaves a particularly resonant impression since this is their 11th album, and with four songs before it that one could look at in comparison to She Said and consider them scaled back. But then, To the Highest Gods We Know has its stretches of flute, of strings and of organ. It has its flourishes of arrangement. It has a progressive feel and, again, as bold an experiment as I’ve ever heard from Colour Haze, so maybe it’s not “scaled back” so much as it’s tighter and a more pointed execution derived from some of the ideas that showed themselves the last time out. As Colour Haze settle into their new home — their studio — their first album since its completion feels appropriately like a beginning point, almost as though, having finally escaped from under the woes in creating the last record, they’re ready to go back and rediscover what it propelling them forward. Eleven albums in and it sounds like a debut? Not quite. The fluidity and chemistry developed over the years between Koglek, Rasthofer and Merwald, and the appeal of To the Highest Gods We Know‘s familiar parts aren’t to be understated, but if it proves anything, their latest outing proves that they haven’t yet said everything they have to say, and depending on where they go from here, we might look back on To the Highest Gods We Know as the beginning point for a new era of the band, similar to how their self-titled worked off 2003’s Los Sounds de Krauts 2LP at the dawning of Elektrohasch. However that works out and whatever else it might represent, To the Highest Gods We Know is distinctly Colour Haze. It confirms that definition even as it expands and refines the meaning.
Posted in Whathaveyou on December 4th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
After slots this fall at Desertfest Belgium and ThElectriCool festivals and a summer spent at Duna Jam, Lake on Fire festival, Burg Herzberg, Stoned from the Underground and more, German heavy psychedelic forerunners Colour Haze have announced a Dec. 15 CD release for their new album, To the Highest Gods We Know, through guitarist/vocalist Stefan Koglek‘s long-running Elektrohasch Schallplatten imprint, with vinyl to follow on Feb. 23, 2015. Koglek, bassist Philipp Rasthofer and drummer Manfred Merwald will mark the occasion with a European tour, the dates for which are forthcoming.
To the Highest Gods We Know is comprised of five tracks totaling in about 40 minutes of new music from Colour Haze, who have emerged as one of European heavy psychedelia’s most influential groups. It was recorded to 2″ tape at the band’s own Colour Haze Studio in their native München with production and engineering by Koglek and Charly Bohaimid, and mixed analog on 1/4″ tape by Koglek. It arrives just two years after 2012’s expansive She Said (review here) and following reissues of earlier albums, 2000’s CO2 and 2001’s Ewige Blumenkraft (review here), and finds the perpetually progressive trio delving further into and beyond ideas presented on the last album, incorporating arrangements of flutes, strings, horns and nature sounds amid their own tonal warmth and vibrant live performance.
The striking cover art for the album was handled by Cherry Choke guitarist/vocalist Mat Bethancourt and his The Speed of Light design company, and the vinyl for the record is being cut today, Dec. 4, at Pauler Acoustics in Northeim. With familiar refrains in “Paradise,” a gripping tonal gorgeousness in “Call” and perhaps the band’s boldest sonic experiment to date in “To the Highest Gods We Know,” the record is both in conversation with She Said and moving forward from it. Of course, that album was plagued with technical trouble and took years to get out as the band constructed Colour Haze Studio, but if the audio on To the Highest Gods We Know is anything to go by, Colour Haze are ready to leave their woes behind and continue their creative journey, wherever it may take them.
Tracklisting is as follows:
Colour Haze, To the Highest Gods We Know
5. To the Highest Gods We Know