Posted in Whathaveyou on November 2nd, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
As the name might lead you to believe, Up in Smoke Vol. VI is sixth installment of the roadfestival (package tour) put on by respected show purveyors Sound of Liberation, and it brings together the varied but universally heavy likes of My Sleeping Karma, Greenleaf and Mammoth Mammoth early in 2016 for a run through Belgium, France, the UK, Switzerland, Germany and Austria.
For Greenleaf, by the time they get there, they will have spent a good portion of the last several months on the road. A heavy touring 2015 rounds out next month with a Northern European stint, followed by New Year’s shows in Germany and Switzerland, and after that, they’ll head to Portugal and Spain for an Iberian tour Jan. 15 to Jan. 24. Their new album — which will be their Napalm debut — has been recorded since June, so it may well have seen release by the time they hit Up in Smoke Vol. VI. An early 2016 release seems likely either way.
My Sleeping Karma and Mammoth Mammoth also have been and remain active. Mammoth Mammoth toured Europe this year and My Sleeping Karma recently played the Keep it Low festival in Munich. Both had new records out in 2015 on Napalm as well, so they seem like a fitting match for the tour, which kicks off at Trix in Antwerpen on Feb. 18.
Poster and dates follow:
SOUND OF LIBERATION & NAPALM RECORDS PRESENT MY SLEEPING KARMA | GREENLEAF | MAMMOTH MAMMOTH
LIVE AT UP IN SMOKE ROADFESTIVAL VOL.6
Instrumental Groovers MY SLEEPING KARMA, Australian Desert Rockers MAMMOTH MAMMOTH and one of Sweden’s finest Rock bands GREENLEAF have just announced they will be playing on the UP IN SMOKE TOUR VOL VI!
This is a killer package! Find all upcoming tour dates below & make sure to catch them live near you!
Up in Smoke VOL VI: My Sleeping Karma – Greenleaf – Mammoth Mammoth 18.02.16 BEL – Antwerp, Trix 19.02.16 UK – London, Garage 20.02.16 F – Paris, Divan Du Monde 21.02.16 F – Nantes, Le Ferrailleur 22.02.16 CH – Pratteln, Z 7 23.02.16 D- Munich, Feierwerk 24.02.16 D – Berlin, Lido 25.02.16 D – Leipzig, UT Connewitz 26.02.16 D – Stuttgart, Universum 27.02. 16 A- Vienna, Arena
Posted in Whathaveyou on July 29th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
How far off can we, as a species, be from a stoner rock cruise? I don’t know. Heavy metal already has like 50 different cruises. Get Royal Caribbean on the line! What? There’s no lines? And I’m not actually speaking to anyone? I’m blogging? Still? Ah hell.
SonicBlast Moledo 2015, in Portugal, isn’t the only fest in the world offering a resort-type atmosphere — a certain “secret” Sardinian shindig walks by and waves — but they certainly make the prospect enticing. Part of that, of course, is the lineup. Pentagram will headline, and Greenleaf, My Sleeping Karma, Belzebong, High Fighterand many more share the bill on Aug. 14 and 15 in the coastal town of Moledo. Going to the beach is nice. Going to the beach where riffs are is how you win at life.
The timetable for SonicBlast Moledo 2015 has been newly unveiled, and you’ll find it below with more info from the PR wire to fuel your escapist fantasies:
It’s on the 14th and 15th of August that, by the Atlantic shore, the 5th edition of SonicBlast Moledo takes place. For those looking for stoner, psych, doom or heavy music styles, it’s already an obligatory yearly stop. This small festival is a well kept secret for the fans of these genres. With a powerful line up, a dream location in one of the most beautiful beaches in the Iberian Peninsula and affordable prices, going to SonicBlast Modelo is a no brainer.
Spread across two stages, in the afternoon by the pool and at night by the park, the highlights of this year are pioneers of doom Pentagram, unique and hypnotic My Sleeping Karma, the intense sound of Greenleaf, responsible for one of the best stoner records of 2014 (Trails and Passes), heavy rockers The Vintage Caravan and Belzebong, playing for the very first time in Portugal. Some other smashing acts from the european scene playing at Sonicblast Moledo are Wight, Mother Engine, High Fighter, The Attack of the Brain Eaters, Somali Yacht Club, Puma Pumku and Galactic Superlords. The usual support to the punk scene is held by Nervous from North America and Cuchillo de Fuego from Spain. The Portuguese scene is also very well represented through the 70’s rock from The Black Wizards, Big Red Panda, Lâmina, Vircator, Mantra and the return of aweless Plus Ultra.
This festival has a free-entrance warmup party on the 13th August on a beach bar, several activities as surf or skate, and free camping just two minutes away from the sea, where it meets the forest.
Kadavar, Blues Pills, The Atomic Bitchwax, Church of Misery, Samsara Blues Experiment, The Machine and Black Bombaim are some of the great bands that have passed for SonicBlast Moledo in the past editions.
The tickets for this outstanding gathering are already on sale. You can acquire the 2 day pass for 36€ until the 13th August. After this date the price is 42€. Daily tickets are 20€ until the 13th and 25€ on the day.
Posted in Reviews on July 28th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
My appreciation for long-running Italian fanzine Vincebus Eruptum is well documented at this point, but I feel compelled to reiterate the admirable nature both of the work they do and the manner in which they do it. If saying that every time they put out an issue takes away from the impact of the statement, at least know it doesn’t take away from my actual enjoyment of reading the thing. As ever with issue No. 19, Editor Davide “Davidew” Pansolin and his crew have combed the heavy psychedelic and stoner underground to bring forth another quality collection of reviews and interviews in support of the genre(s) at large and their own efforts as the associazione culturale that they are and of course, the Vincebus Eruptum Recordings end of the operation, which continues to expand via releases from Sendelica, Lords of Bastard, and The Linus Pauling Quartet.
Wouldn’t you know it? It just so happens that an interview with The Linus Pauling Quartet leads off the issue! You’d almost think these things were planned out beforehand. But if there’s one thing that makes a ‘zine special, it’s the passion of the individual at its heart — Pansolin has a staff but still does a good portion of the writing himself — and Vincebus Eruptum is very obviously the labor of his love, in this case of the Texas five-piece, who in the course of the five-page leadoff feature lead him on a trip down memory lane of Houston’s psychedelic and noise scene in the post-Butthole Surfers ’90s. Very interesting stuff, and there’s even a chart at the end showing the different members who played in various bands, all the same people sharing music with each other in the way that city-wide scenes always become incestuous over time. The historical angle might make the Linus Pauling piece my favorite of the issue, but My Sleeping Karma also gave a fascinating talk about their new album, Moksha (review here), and it’s always cool to hear what the guys in Orange Goblin have to say, especially now that they’ve spent the last few years really kicked into gear as a full-time touring band.
Chats with Victor Griffin (Pentagram, Place of Skulls, etc.), Fantasyy Factoryy, Ides of Gemini and a talk with Gabriele Fiori (Heavy Psych Sounds, Black Rainbows) about the 2015 debut from his side-project Killer Boogie, Detroit (review here), all provide further points of interest, and then it moves into the review section, which brings looks at the latest from Pyrior, Acid King, Pombagira, Black Rainbows, Madre de Dios, Osso, Wild Eyes, Spidergawd, Sendelica, Child, Black Capricorn, Colour Haze and many others. They pack so much in that there isn’t always room to delve into the deepest details of a release — these are the things you have to do when you can only fit so many words on a page — but Vincebus Eruptum never fails to give an impression of what a band is going for, and of course their expertise is long since established when it comes to heavy rock. I trust their judgment as I do few other sources.
Unlike most issues that I’m fortunate enough to receive, I read No. 19 cover to cover in a single sitting. Usually I’ll jump around a bit, read something in the middle — My Sleeping Karma have the gatefold honor, right on the staple, this time around — then go back to the start, but from Pansolin‘s editorial at the beginning to the closing, packed-tight bit of news from Vincebus Eruptum Recordings after the reviews, I went front to back, and it flowed well in a way that, bouncing here to there, I hadn’t previously appreciated. Particularly so in light of Pansolin‘s editorial, which displayed a kind of wariness of the new school of heavy psychedelia. A quote: “What’s important is that these bands do not pretend to have found the Mecca feeling like having definitely made it for good just because they ended up on a label jam-packed with metal outfits because that does not mean to mechanically achieve greater exposure and instant success!” He also refers to it as “‘our’ heavy-psych scene,” which, as ever for that kind of statement, made me wonder who “we” are, and warned bands off from forgetting their underground roots just because more people are listening to the style of music now.
Striking, candid thoughts from someone who’s spent at this point more than a decade and a half in the European heavy underground, but if Pansolin sounds jaded up front, that’s gone almost immediately as soon as the interview with The Linus Pauling Quartet arrives, and Vincebus Eruptum, like always, is a party heralding some of the best heavy psychedelics the world has to offer. I’ll look forward to going front-to-back on the next issue.
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!
Posted in Features on July 6th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
If 2015 ended tomorrow, I think you’d still have to say it was a pretty good year for heavy rock. Doom veered into a swath extremes — its own subgenres emerging almost one by one in a growing splinter that nonetheless continues to draw water from its roots — while the neo-stoner ignition of the West Coast continued its boom of new acts proffering classic groove. The East reveled in a progressive vision just waiting to be picked up by others, and in Europe, the ’70s traditionalist movement spread ever wider, essentially defining a modern sound in organic sounding, sometimes-vintage elements. Whether you’re going for crushing, oppressive barbarism or cosmos-bound blissouts, it is, in short, a good time to be alive.
Of course, 2015 doesn’t end tomorrow, and there’s still a whole lot of year to come. About half, as it happens. So, as has been the tradition around here for the last half-decade — and seems to be the tradition in a growing number of outlets; not taking credit or claiming to have invented anything, just noting a proliferation — it’s time to count down the best records of the year so far. There have been more than a handful of gems, and since in December I’m planning on doing a top 30, we’ll mark half the year with a top 15. Seems only fair.
Please note that this isn’t purely a critical evaluation, but a personal list, and that what I’ve put on most is as crucial a factor in my ranking as how important I think a given record is. You know the drill by now. Let’s go:
Kiev three-piece Stoned Jesus have a varied stylistic history, and their third outing, The Harvest was ultimately a success in large part because of its complete refusal to be defined. Atop a foundation of quality songcraft, the trio proffered a sound that was not necessarily experimental in terms of anti-structure noise or effects onslaughts, but bold in each of its forays outward from its heavy rock underpinnings.
It has consistently taken me a while to get a hold on what Freedom Hawk are up to. The steady elements in their sound are held to so firmly that on the first couple listens, it seems to just be more of the same. But the more one digs in, the more there is to be found, and with Into Your Mind, the Virginia Beach trio overcome losing a member to create their most progressive outing to date, flourishes of psychedelia melding easily with their signature style of sunshiny riffing.
Five albums deep, Germany’s My Sleeping Karma are an act unto themselves. Their progress has been natural, fueled by a clear, varied sense of exploratory will, and the results on this year’s Moksha were nothing short of stunning. Branching out their arrangements might not be new to them, but the inclusion of horns, drones, percussion, etc., amid the central guitar, bass, keys and drums lent an almost orchestral feel to the flow between the tracks, and one can only hope they continue on their current path, because it is unquestionably the right one.
So much potential, so much vitality at the heart of this debut from Death Alley. The Amsterdam-based four-piece (interview here) stormed out of the gate with a ripper of a debut, and just when you seemed to have it all figured out, they hit the ignition on a 12-minute full-impulse space rock thrust, a guest vocal appearance from Farida Lemouchi (a former bandmate of Death Alley guitarist Oeds Beydals in The Devil’s Blood) adding both mystique and emotional resonance to what was already a stunning track. With all the riotousness preceding, Black Magick Boogieland readily lived up to its righteous title.
Midwestern-turned-West-Coast heavy psych rockers Mondo Drag may have taken their time in releasing their self-titled sophomore outing, which followed their 2010 debut, New Rituals (review here), and was recorded in 2012, but it’s easy to imagine that’s because they wanted the circumstances to be as special as the album itself, recorded with a fleeting five-piece lineup that included the one-time rhythm section of Radio Moscow who wound up leaving to further their then-nascent project, Blues Pills. Even without that lineup shift as a factor, the late ’60s vibe Mondo Drag brought out across the release proved eminently listenable and has held up on repeat visits.
A gorgeous, shimmering and melodically resonant debut from the Dutch four-piece Cigale, their self-titled gracefully maintained tonal presence and warmth while also enacting a psychedelic sprawl and grooving serenity that acted like the landscape in which the songs took place. It was a rich, bright vibe, and an utter joy to behold, tracks like “Harvest Begun,” “Feel the Heat” and “Eyes Wide Shut” proving as memorable as they were inviting. Having two former members of the much-missed fuzz rock outfit Sungrazer may have initially turned some heads in their direction, but Cigale‘s first album proved they’re an outfit with their own personality, their own development to undertake, and already much to offer.
The awaited return of The Machine brought the band’s fifth album and a further-refined sense of maturity in their processes, as well as intrigue as to where they might be headed, two dual modes of open-ended jamming and more structured songwriting playing off each other in the extended “Chrysalis (J.A.M.)” and “Come to Light” and the more verse/chorus stylizations of “Dry End” and “Off Course.” To be perfectly honest, I doubt The Machine will ultimately pick one side over another, since if Offblast! proved anything it’s that they can easily handle either or both, but as they continue to grow, it’s encouraging to have their style establish itself as so multi-faceted.
First time I pressed play on Gravitron was a real “oh shit!” moment. The last release from NJ stalwarts The Atomic Bitchwax was 2011’s The Local Fuzz (review here), a single-song full-length instrumental riff onslaught that had its charm but was inherently divorced from the appeal of the band’s songwriting. Not only does Gravitron re-factor that in with songs like “Roseland,” “It’s Alright,” “Coming in Hot” and “Ice Age Hey Baby,” among others, but it hits with kick-in-the-ass production force and an all-out heaviness that 2008’s TAB4 showed the three-piece steering directly away from. Just a killer record. Utterly void of pretense. No bullshit. No need to rely on anything more than chemistry, and with the Bitchwax, that’s plenty.
7. Brothers of the Sonic Cloth, Brothers of the Sonic Cloth
Right now, Brothers of the Sonic Cloth are my band to beat for Debut of the Year, and I’m quite frankly not sure how anyone is going to be able to do it, so if list time comes in Dec. and you see Tad Doyle‘s trio marked out as such, know that it’s been that way in my head for some time. The three-piece of Doyle, bassist Peggy “Pegadeth” Tully and drummer Dave French arrived with a roar, and even when their self-titled let up sonically, the atmosphere remained viscerally heavy. Six years having passed since the release of their first demo (review here), I wasn’t sure there was ever going to be an album, but then to have Brothers of the Sonic Cloth show up and enact such thorough demolition only made it more impressive.
It can’t possibly be a surprise to have Luminiferous show up somewhere on this list. The seventh long-player by High on Fire had all the rage and bombast in “Slave the Hive” and “The Black Plot” that have become the band’s hallmarks over their 17 years together, but branched out progressively as well in songs like “The Cave” and “The Falconist,” the latter of which was brazenly catchy and about as emotionally direct as the band has ever gotten, their general modus being — and in that song too, just to a lesser extent — a metaphor-laced lyrical approach. That song was a triumph and so was the album as a whole; the second collaboration with producer Kurt Ballou building on the rampaging victories of 2012’s De Vermis Mysteriis (review here) while also showing growth on the part of one of modern metal’s most pivotal bands.
Hitting more or less concurrent with a vinyl release of their prior album, 2013’s A Time of Hunting (review here), Kings Destroy‘s Kings Destroy is not at all coincidentally titled. Over the course of now three full-lengths, the New York five-piece — about whom I feign no impartiality, let it be noted — have distinguished themselves with a sound neither noise, nor doom, nor heavy rock, but drawing on elements of all three when it suits their purposes with chemistry built from years of being in bands together of various stripes and in various genres. What stands the self-titled out from their past work, in part, is that it is the closest they’ve yet come to capturing their live sound in the studio, and accordingly, it’s a volatile kind of heavy that bends aesthetic to its will rather than capitulating to expectations of any sort. I don’t think they’re done growing by any stretch, but Kings Destroy feels like an arrival front-to-back.
This one was almost a sneak-attack. German heavy psych forerunners Colour Haze released To the Highest Gods We Know, their 11th full-length, in Dec. 2014 on CD (the vinyl was in 2015, which is what we’re counting in this instance), with very, very little fanfare of any sort. There was a track premiere here that came shortly after the album was announced, but I think it was officially out less than a month after its existence was made public, which for a band of Colour Haze‘s stature and influence was surprising. Less devoted to grandeur than 2012’s 2CD She Said (review here), it nonetheless pushed the band’s sound forward and found them experimenting in their studio, particularly on the string-quartet-inclusive finale title-track, which offset jams like “Überall” and the laid back highlight “Call” with a rhythmic oddness that was somehow still Colour Haze‘s own. I couldn’t help but wonder where it was leading, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t masterful in its own right.
Goatsnake didn’t have it easy going into their third album. It had been 15 years since their sophomore outing, Flower of Disease, 11 since their last EP, and five since they first started playing shows again. Expectations? Through the roof. Among heavy rock heads, a new Goatsnake was like seeing the mountaintop. I mean, a big fucking deal and then some. Then the record hits, and there’s just about no way it can live up to the anticipation, but god damn if Goatsnake not only finally put out a third album, but one that was better than I think anyone could’ve hoped for. Hearing Pete Stahl with however many backup singers he had on “Another River to Cross” et. al. was like finding an animal in its native habitat, and between his soul, Greg Anderson‘s riffs, bassist Scott Renner‘s low end rumble and drummer Greg Rogers‘ roll, Black Age Blues won almost immediately and then spent the rest of its 47 minutes throwing itself a victory party. “Elevated Man,” “House of the Moon,” “Jimi’s Gone,” “Grandpa Jones,” almost on a per-track basis, Goatsnake added to the reasons they’ve been so heralded despite a decade-plus’ absence from the studio.
On the level of achievement alone, Elder‘s Lore will be the album of the year for many, and there are times (such as right now) when I listen to it and question whether or not it isn’t also my pick for that honor, but wherever it falls on whatever list, far more important is what the Massachusetts/Rhode Island/New York trio manage to accomplish across their third LP’s formidable five-track/59-minute span, songs like “Compendium” and “Deadweight” bridging a rarely approached gap between heavy and progressive rocks while maintaining a flow consistent with the psychedelic vibing of 2011’s Dead Roots Stirring (review here) but grown outward in another aesthetic direction and no sooner setting foot on the ground than seeming to master it in a flurry of blinding turns, sprawling soundscapes and clarity of mind that found perhaps its greatest expression in the centerpiece title-track, the 15-minute “Lore” itself, which I’ve no doubt will stand among if not atop the best songs of 2015 when the year is over and encapsulates the ambition and the corresponding breadth of Elder‘s songwriting, the trio of guitarist/vocalist Nick DiSalvo, bassist Jack Donovan, and drummer Matt Couto rising as one of the East Coast’s most pivotal acts, with a sound completely their own.
1. Acid King, Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere
I use the word “molten” pretty regularly to describe an album or song that seems to just ooze its way out of the speakers or shift seamlessly between its songs, but Acid King set an entirely new standard for the term with Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere. Their first outing for Svart and their first release in a decade, its 55 minutes were a riff-rolling nirvana of lurching fuzz and tonal excellence, the guitar of Lori S. at the fore accompanied by Mark Lamb‘s bass and Joey Osbourne‘s drums, the swing of which propelled a highlight track like “Coming down from Outer Space” right back into it, while elsewhere on the record, “Silent Pictures,” “Red River” and “Infinite Skies” torched stoner conventions into a new space-biker rock, culminating in the heavy psych of “Center of Everywhere,” which seemed to emanate from the place it was describing, at once empty and full. More than just a welcome return after a long dearth of releases, Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere found Acid King progressed even beyond where they were with 2005’s III, though more than anything else, what makes it my top pick for the year so far is the fact that I can’t seem to walk away from it for too long before going back, and ultimately, that’s what it all comes down to with his kind of thing. I’ve yet to find a standard to which these songs don’t live up.
A few others worth noting. The Sun Blood Stories album (streamed here) continues to resonate. Also Monolord, Valkyrie, Lamp of the Universe, Garden of Worm, Wo Fat‘s live record, The Midnight Ghost Train‘s Cold was the Ground and Ufomammut‘s Ecate. The Black Rainbows was a joy, as was Spidergawd‘s second LP, and while I still feel like I haven’t given it its due, the Sumac won many over and should get a mention. Steve Von Till‘s solo outing and the latest from Enslaved are worth seeking out as well for anyone who hasn’t heard them yet.
More to Come:
The year’s only half over, which is kind of a scary thought but true nonetheless. Watch out in the coming months for new stuff from Bloodcow, All Them Witches, Clutch, Graveyard, Zun, Sacri Monti (if that one’s not already out), Snail, Uncle Acid, and Kind. The new Kadavar is a sure-fire top tenner, and between that, the potential for a new Neurosis album and stuff like Magnetic Eye Records‘ Electric Ladyland [Redux], there’s no way the book is written on the best of 2015.
So stay tuned.
And if I’ve still got your attention, thanks for reading.
Posted in Reviews on May 12th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
The progression of German instrumentalists My Sleeping Karma has been as natural and flowing as the tones they’ve offered across their releases. Moksha is their fifth full-length and second to be released on Napalm Records behind 2012’s Soma (review here), and like that album, it finds the Aschaffenburg four-piece delving into Eastern religious themes — “Prithvi” being the world in which everything is contained, “Moksha” being freedom through self-realization, “Agni” the Hindu god of fire, etc. — and spacing out its graceful longer pieces with progressive interludes. In structure, Moksha could be considered a direct sequel to its predecessor, but much of what My Sleeping Karma accomplishes across its 11 songs/54 minutes finds its roots further back, in 2010’s Tri (review here), 2008’s Satya (review here) or even their 2006 self-titled. Their growth, in other words, has been steady, and the four-piece have proved over the better part of the last decade to be more inclined toward gradual, incremental steps forward than presumptuous leaps of sound. Moksha, then, is the next step for guitarist Seppi, bassist Matte, drummer Steffen and keyboardist Norman, and it proves to be their most entrancing work yet, pulling varied movements together across an immersive singular span that heavy, progressive, and hypnotically psychedelic while continuing to refine their sound as one of the most immediately identifiable in underground rock. The textured feel of the material here, whether it’s the building guitar swirl of “Vayu” or the keyboard and effects wash of the penultimate “Interlude 5,” is what unites it as a whole, and more even than Soma, it’s possible to make your way through the various twists and surprises Moksha has on offer without realizing just how far you’ve gone.
Like the best of heavy psychedelia, the feel is otherworldly, but My Sleeping Karma have never just been about jamming. Even less so over time. Their songs, though instrumental and portraying an open creative process, carry a refined feel, and that’s true from the first echoing guitar notes of “Prithvi,” which courses through keyboard and guitar melodies over a steady rhythmic foundation, leading into the first interlude’s ritualized drone, chanting and percussion coming to a head just as “Vayu” takes over, again led by the guitar and keys. Memorable turns, tonal warmth and easy transitions are nothing new for My Sleeping Karma, but both “Prithvi” and “Vayu” underscore just how much their sound has become their own over the course of the last nine years, and even with the three-year break preceding Moksha as the longest of their career, they have continued to evolve their approach. “Vayu” ends on a dreamy note of fading horns and “Interlude 2” picks up with a quiet guitar line fleshed out atmospherically over 1:45 before “Akasha” kicks in as one of Moksha‘s most engaging moments, a driving rhythm and airy spaciousness playing back and forth with each other not so much in competition as complement, Steffen‘s drums tying it together as each build starts anew. Moksha is more linear than broken into sides A and B — more like LPs one and two, both for its north-of-50-minutes runtime and companioning of one song into the next into the next — but the acoustic guitars and mellotron sounds of “Interlude 3” mark a halfway dividing point nonetheless, and keys remain at the fore in the beginning of the subsequent title-track, also the longest inclusion at 9:37. While not as immediately catchy as “Akasha,” the titular cut offers satisfying rumble in its distortion, a fervent swirl, satisfying tempo shifts and a sense of composition that has remained a key factor in My Sleeping Karma‘s style particularly over their last three outings. I won’t take anything away from the faster prog riff that emerges from the grand chugging of “Moksha”‘s largest moments, but what really makes the piece a standout is the post-rock guitar/key interplay that comes forward at about the 5:30 mark, Norman‘s intro line resurfacing and fleshing out for the remainder of the track, not so much in a build, but in a contemplative moment of exploration that hints at what the next step might be for the band.
That step? One can only speculate, but listening to Moksha and in particular listening to the song that shares the album’s name, it seems that where My Sleeping Karma might be headed is in drawing the heavy psychedelic and progressive influences together, taking the adventurous ambience and arrangements of their interludes and the solidified movement of their longer tracks and bringing them into a new cohesion. Whether that comes from expanding the interludes or broadening their songwriting as a whole, I don’t know what shape it might take, but five albums deep, that’s part of what makes My Sleeping Karma an exciting listen. Airy guitars continue amid a poignant surge on “Interlude 4,” while “Jalam” continues the expansive cascade of “Moksha,” careening into and through heavier parts en route to a sprawling, firm-rooted middle ground, the turn in one direction or another sudden but easy enough to follow, and the last of the interludes, the aforementioned “Interlude 5” has a smokier feel in its guitar and keyboard spread. Almost a bluesy drama, if filtered through the band’s own style. That leaves “Agni” to close out Moksha with a note reinforcing the album’s progressive vibe, which it does via intricate riffing and overarching thrust offset by more open “verse” riffs and a calm midsection that acts as the launch point for the last of the record’s builds, My Sleeping Karma taking one more lead-topped run into weightier distortion amid a comfortable lumber, adding intensity to the push until a final crash lets the ending tones fade away. One way or another, My Sleeping Karma have already made an impact on heavy psychedelia, not notably in Europe, but if listening to Moksha and trying to parse out what they might do next proves anything, it’s how fascinating a project theirs continues to be even a decade after its inception. Whatever direction My Sleeping Karma may or may not go, their output has only become more resonant with time, and as the most recent check-in on their progress, Moksha finds them at their most accomplished yet. But they in no way sound like they’re done, either.
Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!
If you listen to these podcasts on the regular, you might notice this one is a little different than other recent editions have been. I was all set to start it off at a raging clip as per usual and then that Bison Machine track stood out to me with that warm bassline and I just decided that was the way to go, start off languid with that and My Sleeping Karma and ease into the rawer and meaner stuff from there. There are a couple jarring moments here and there, but that’s kind of the idea too, and I think overall across the board it flows well across the two hours, the second of which builds across All Them Witches’ jams and Ichabod’s sludge rock right into the atmospheric doom extremity of Bell Witch. Three songs in about 55 minutes. Awesome.
You might also notice the tracklist below has time stamps. Listed is the start time for each song, so if you get lost along the way, that should hopefully provide some point of reference. In case there was any doubt I pay attention to the stuff people say in comments to these podcast posts.
As always, hope you enjoy:
0:00:00 Bison Machine, “Gamekeeper’s Thumb” from Hoarfrost
0:07:12 My Sleeping Karma, “Prithvi” from Moksha
0:13:39 Weedeater, “Claw of the South” from Goliathan
0:19:00 Sinister Haze, “Betrayed by Time” from Betrayed by Time EP
0:24:15 Sun and Sail Club, “Dresden Fireball Freakout Flight” from The Great White Dope
0:26:11 Lasers from Atlantis, “Protectress” from Lasers from Atlantis
0:33:29 Arenna, “Drums for Sitting Bull” from Given to Emptiness
0:39:40 Mirror Queen, “Scaffolds of the Sky” from Scaffolds of the Sky
0:45:47 Les Discrets, “La Nuit Muette” from Live at Roadburn
0:51:02 Cigale, “Harvest Begun” from Cigale
0:54:49 Black Mare, “A Low Crimes” from Black Mare/Lycia Split
1:00:03 All Them Witches, “It Moved We Moved/Almost There/A Spider’s Gift” from A Sweet Release
1:24:09 Ichabod, “Squall” from Merrimack
1:33:39 Bell Witch, “Suffocation, a Burial I – Awoken (Breathing Teeth)” from Four Phantoms
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 26th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
One day, I’ll see My Sleeping Karma live. I’m confident it will happen. The German heavy psych instrumentalists are pretty high on my list at this point, to be honest, but I’ve seen enough things I never thought I’d see to be hopeful that, sooner or later, our paths will cross. Sooner would be better.
The four-piece have announced the details and release dates for their second album through Napalm Records — fifth overall; where does the time go? — which is titled Moksha. It follows behind 2012’s excellent Soma (review here) and boasts cover art by Sebastian Jerke that you can see, along with the tracklisting and formats below.
It’s worth noting that, since they made their self-titled debut on Elektrohasch in 2006, the three years between 2012 and 2015 is the longest stretch My Sleeping Karma have gone without releasing a full-length. They’ve usually worked on two-year intervals. Granted they toured Soma pretty hard, but it only adds further intrigue to the prospect of Moksha that it was a little bit longer in the making.
Here’s that info off the PR wire:
German quartet MY SLEEPING KARMA are back with their fifth studio album “Moksha.” The band considers this album, 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. Perhaps you don’t want to…
Find the cover, release dates, track listing & available formats below:
Formats: Digipack 2LP Gatefold Edition (Black & Limited Color Editions)