Review & Track Premiere: Tuna de Tierra, Tuna de Tierra

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on June 27th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

TUNA DE TIERRA SELF TITLED

[Click play above to stream ‘Morning Demon’ from Tuna de Tierra’s self-titled album, out Sept. 22 on Argonauta Records and available now to preorder.]

A booming Italian heavy rock underground marks yet another win in the self-titled debut from Napoli rockers Tuna de Tierra. Signed to Argonauta Records following a formative but engaging first short offering in 2015’s self-released EPisode I: Pilot (review here), the heavy psych-infused trio of guitarist/vocalist Alessio de Cicco, bassist Luciano Mirra and Marco Mancaniello (who came aboard in place of Jonathan Maurano warm their skin in sun-baked desert influences across the offering’s seven-track/47-minute run, finding a natural-sounding position between jamming and structuring and shifting fluidly between one or the other. Songs like “Morning Demon” seem to speak directly to the heavy rock tonal traditionalism born in the wake of Sweden’s Lowrider, but the later drift of “Raise of the Lights” brings to mind a dreamier take on the psych-blues proffered by All Them Witches, particularly with Mirra‘s bouncing bassline and the handclap-laden semi-interlude “Long Sabbath’s Day” preceding.

Broken into two sides with an intro for each, Tuna de Tierra‘s Tuna de Tierra gracefully builds on what the EP accomplished in setting forth on an aesthetic path, but perhaps most satisfies in the level of growth and expansion throughout its tracks. That is, they sound like a band who really learned from the experience of making their first release and set about writing an even richer and more complex set of songs from which to craft a full-length album. The progression doesn’t sound forced, either, and through extended jams like the jangly 10-minute “Out of Time” and nine-minute “Laguna” — which close side A and B, respectively — Tuna de Tierra immerse the listener in a pretense-free depth of vibe that continues to expand as the album plays out.

That linear flow — and I use “linear” pretty loosely for something that seems to delight so much in the occasional bit of jazzy, post-Causa Sui meandering — is the key element of Tuna de Tierra‘s presentation. Effective dips and swells of volume, particularly when they kick into fuller fuzz, as in the Kyuss-referential burst at the beginning of the second half of “Laguna” or the slower-grunge march that emerges in “Raise of the Lights” or even in the manner in which “Morning Demon” seems to cast out its sunrise — or perhaps welcome its demon — circa the 3:30 mark, give the listener a sense of dynamic and of the chemistry taking shape within their sound, and the drums do well to hold together these free-flowing changes, allowing exploratory moments their breadth but keeping the listener grounded in the experience even by something so simple as a tap on the ping ride amid a running bassline and airy guitar after that thrust in “Morning Demon.”

An undertone of progressive sensibility is foreshadowed in the 2:46 intro “Slow Burn,” but subtly, and the primary, first impression the long-player makes is in the guitar fuzz and the ease with which Tuna de Tierra seem to unfurl their first rollout and lead directly into the rest of what follows. Nonetheless, that progressive flourish is essential and comes through again and again in the low end and in some of de Cicco‘s more post-rocking stretches of guitar, or vocally in the penultimate “Mountain,” which finds him matching notes with the noodling bassline over tense tom work, speaking on some level perhaps to Lateralus-era Tool. Of critical importance is the way in which Tuna de Tierra meld these aspects together so that, while “Long Sabbath’s Day” marks a turning point in its position as the centerpiece track leading to the bluesier, proggier, jammier second half of the record, it’s not like it’s coming out of nowhere in doing so. There’s no interruption to the overarching smoothness occurring song-to-song.

tuna de tierra

And if there were, frankly, the album would fall flat in its mission. That it doesn’t signals an underlying consciousness on the part of the band, and one can’t help but wonder how Tuna de Tierra was composed, as a concept/thematic record or simply as a collection of songs that happened to fit together in this way, but in any case, as the “Long Sabbath’s Day” sets up the bluesy liquefaction of “Raise of the Lights,” the hardest turn Tuna de Tierra will make is pulled off with seeming ease. And once they’re there, de CiccoMirra and Mancaniello likewise have no apparent trouble in establishing themselves within the patient and spacious context that defines side B. Vocals don’t delay in arriving in “Raise of the Lights,” which owes some of its beginning tone to “Out of Time” before it — less directly fuzzed until the swaggering lead hits, but still laid back to the extreme — but the mood is casual all the same thanks to the light swing of the rhythm. Once again, a thrust of more driving riffery hits in the midsection, but though its arrival is willfully sudden, the transition back out to the track’s more serene ending portion, while nothing more then a clicking-off of a pedal, benefits from the hypnosis cast prior.

Same could be said as “Mountain” picks up from the solo-topped march-out in that final section, and though its atmosphere is slightly more brooding, the build that seems to be underway after the first minute actually restrains itself and Tuna de Tierra successfully avoid redundancy, instead allowing for a more organic exploration of the meditative feel “Mountain” elicits. One might be tempted to call it minimal, especially as the guitar gently fades to bring in the soundscaping launch of “Laguna,” but there’s actually a good deal of movement taking place. All the better, since “Laguna” follows suit, finding itself working in three stages as it gradually heads toward the payoff for the full-length as a whole. Following an initial uptick in pace and volume after 4:20 in that leads to a righteously winding solo and some particularly fuzzed bass, a stop just before the six-minute mark and a quick roll from the toms announces the push that will cap Tuna de Tierra, already noted for its Kyuss-ism.

As with the rest of its surroundings however, it’s worth emphasizing about that last segment that Tuna de Tierra do remarkably well in recontextualizing their influences, making the style their own, and that as they may be playing off the past, they’re doing so in the direction of their own future. Like the EP before it, this self-titled demonstrates marked potential in setting the band apart from the increasingly crowded sphere of the Italian underground, but more importantly, it does this by virtue of the organic presentation of the band itself, rather than some hey-look-at-us attention grab playing toward a flawed notion of uniqueness. In further casting Tuna de Tierra‘s stylistic vision and giving hints at where their ongoing development might take them, Tuna de Tierra proves to be one of 2017’s strongest debut full-lengths, and its effectiveness as such only seems to grow on repeat listens.

Tuna de Tierra on Thee Facebooks

Tuna de Tierra on Bandcamp

Tuna de Tierra on Argonauta Records

Argonauta Records on Thee Facebooks

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Six Dumb Questions with Lee Van Cleef

Posted in Six Dumb Questions on June 14th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

lee van cleef

There’s not much mystery behind what makes a group like Lee Van Cleef work. The Italian instrumentalists debuted in 2016 with Holy Smoke (review here), releasing the album digitally at first and then on vinyl through Berlin’s White Dwarf Records, and the appeal came through loud and clear in the distorted fuzz of Marco Adamo‘s guitar, the warmth in Pietro Trinità La Tegola‘s bass and the rolling grooves propelled by Guido Minervini‘s drums. Without any of these, songs like the 13-minute “Banshee” or opener “Heckle Yuppies” wouldn’t have worked. Simple answer? Chemistry. It’s what makes the whole thing go.

Seems obvious, right?

Well, obvious it might be, but it’s also much easier said than done. At a time when Europe is awash in instrumental (or mostly instrumental) jam-based heavy psychedelic rock, for a three-piece like Lee Van Cleef to come along and manage to distinguish themselves from the pack on their first full-length is not insignificant. From the patient rollout in the aforementioned leadoff through the airy lead work that tops closer “Towelie” and the nod-ready Spring 2017 follow-up digital single Everyone Should Kill an Old Hippy (discussed here), on which watery wah borders on delivering a vocal line here and there, Lee Van Cleef emerge with a sense of spaciousness and a tonality of their own. They’ve only been around since 2015. Some bands barely pick up their instruments in their first two years of existence. Lee Van Cleef would seem to have clearly defined their aesthetic approach and already set about pushing it forward.

In light of that progression underway, it’s a great time to check in with Adamo and get a sense of the band’s origins, where they’re coming from, what was “the joke” that reportedly got them together, and what they have in store for the rest of 2017 and beyond. Before we get to the Q&A, let me just say I extra appreciate the guitarist taking the time for the interview considering the language barrier to do it in English. I know there’s no way my ignorant ass would fare nearly so well in Italian, so I am grateful for the effort.

Please enjoy the following Six Dumb Questions:

Six Dumb Questions with Lee Van Cleef

You’ve said that Lee Van Cleef formed as a joke. Can you let us in on what initially got you together in 2015? What was the joke, and at what point did you realize you had something in the jams that was really worth pursuing on a more serious level?

Maybe more than a joke it’s been something unpretentious and unplanned. We all had other projects at the time and Lee Van Cleef was born to experiment and basically have fun doing what we liked the most. I called Guido and Pietro and even if I knew they both were guitarists, I also knew they could play drum and bass. In a city like ours it’s hard to think about a project like this and hope to receive any kind of feedback. I’m not saying there’s no people who listen to this kind of music, but clubs they don’t really give much space to this music. It’s not that cool to play 10-minute jams with neverending guitar solos and just a few major chords!

But we didn’t really care and we did it. For us, mainly. We underestimated the web power, but when we realized we had something that was working we recorded it at the best we could and we put it on Bandcamp. After a while, Olaf [Angermund] from White Dwarf got in touch with us after having listened to us at the radio. The rest is history (laughs). The most important thing is that we’re still doing all of this for us and even if we had a lot of positive feedbacks, and we are really grateful to those who spent some of their time to listen to us.

Tell me about putting together the Holy Smoke album. What was the recording like? How long were you in the studio for it and how many of the songs were born from those early jams from when the band was starting out?

We recorded the tracks in a studio here in Naples called Godfather. We locked ourselves up for two days and we recorded everything live… as if it was a live session. When Olaf got in touch with us, proposed us to release vinyls as soon as possible, but at the time we only had three tracks, but after a few months we composed “Hell Malo,” “Heckle Yuppies” and “Towelie.” So than we went to the studio to record Holy Smoke. Everything was fast cause as I said everything was live. Two days to record and three/four days for mixing.

How did you get hooked up with White Dwarf Records for the vinyl release of Holy Smoke? What did it mean to you to get your first record put out as an LP?

For us it was totally unexpected as I said. We will always be grateful to White Dwarf to bet on us because it would have never happened here in Italy. For Italian labels it would have been too risky. Olaf just texted us on Facebook. Thank you dude.

You released the “Everyone Should Kill an Old Hippy” single earlier this Spring. What’s wrong with old hippies? And more importantly, will this track feature on the next Lee Van Cleef album?

Ahahahahahah I was expecting it. Actually we have nothing against old hippies. My dad was an old hippie. It’s more a joke. A provocation. A way to detach from a deeply-rooted tradition, from some attitudes. Here in Naples, at least, old hippies are that radical chic dudes who live in million euros houses. They send their children to private schools and lock them up at home because in the street there are evil people. Are those who ask you to turn down the volume if you are listening Jimi Hendrix. It’s just a provocation. I don’t think we’re going to kill anybody. Anyway, probably we could record another version in the next album, as we did with “Banshee” and “Mahana”…we don’t know yet…

Have you started work on a second record? Any idea how the material might develop going forward from the debut, and is there anything specific you want to build on or change coming off of Holy Smoke? Where is Lee Van Cleef headed sound-wise?

We’re working on new tracks, we are also preparing a Creedence cover (spoiler) and thinking about doing some experiments, like using more voice, or some synth… We will see

Will you do any touring this year? Any other plans or closing words you want to mention?

We’ll be at Red Smoke Festival in July; we’re working also for other dates. Certainly we’ll be touring in Germany, France and maybe Spain on next Autumn. We’d like to play more here in Italy and we hope to do that. I don’t deny that is pretty hard because this kind of music is not too much listened, at least in some part of the country. By the way we have no booking right now. We try to do all this shit alone and this make the work more difficult… If you add to this that we are incredibly lazy, it is a mortal mix! Probably we’ll release some other track suddenly, as we love to do.

Lee Van Cleef, “Everyone Should Kill an Old Hippy”

Lee Van Cleef on Thee Facebooks

Lee Van Cleef on Bandcamp

White Dwarf Records on Thee Facebooks

White Dwarf Records on Bandcamp

White Dwarf Records website

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The Obelisk Radio Adds: Big Kizz, Mt. Mountain, Mage, Hypertonus, Lee Van Cleef

Posted in Radio on May 22nd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk radio cavum

We’re only slightly overdue for a batch of adds to The Obelisk Radio. I need to start setting a reminder or something. By the time this post goes up, my hope is that we’ll actually be off the backup server and back on the full or at least mostly-full playlist. It’s been a long road, as the terrible opening theme to Star Trek: Enterprise once said, but I think Slevin has it ready to roll, and there’s still some rebuilding to do, but I think it can be an ongoing thing working on the new hard drive. We’ve worn the crap out of that backup playlist. It would be nice to not have to use it for a while. Fingers crossed, anyhow.

Whichever server these files wind up on, they’ll be joining some playlist as soon as humanly possible. Let’s do the rundown in the meantime.

The Obelisk Radio Adds for May 22, 2017:

Big Kizz, Eye on You

big kizz eye on you

Some who take on the debut single from Swedish trio Big Kizz will find the band reminiscent of some of the rawer moments of long-running Danish garage-psych rockers Baby Woodrose, but for many, an additional draw to the three-track/eight-minute offering (delivered via Tee Pee Records) will be the lineup, which features bassist John Hoyles (Spiders, ex-Witchcraft), guitarist/vocalist Pontus Westerman (also of Lady Banana), and perhaps most notably, drummer Axel Sjöberg in his first recorded appearance after splitting with Graveyard. Turns out he’s still a fantastic drummer. His play in leadoff cut “Eye on You” and the push he brings to “Baby Boy” and the closing Roky Erickson cover “White Faces” will surely lead some to relate Big Kizz to Sjöberg‘s former outfit, if only in their earliest going (which was also on Tee Pee, remember), but the truth is the trio show themselves to be on a different trip throughout Eye on You, as they bring the aforementioned garage stylization forward amid classic boogie and, particularly in “Baby Boy,” nod toward mid-’60s psychedelia in a quick but fluid bridge. The Roky Erickson cover could hardly be more fitting, handclaps and all, but it’s the sense of movement in the two originals that shows the most potential here as Big Kizz seem to set their eyes on establishing their dynamic and building from there. Will be interested to hear what they do with the context of a full-length and if some of the psych in “Eye on You” and “Baby Boy” is relegated to flourish or if it comes to the fore as they develop, but they’re off to a rousing start.

Big Kizz on Thee Facebooks

Big Kizz at Tee Pee Records

 

Mt. Mountain Dust

mt. mountain dust

Devotees and pilgrims of longform psychedelia will no doubt and should rejoice at Dust (on Cardinal Fuzz), the maybe-second long-player from Perth, Australia, five-piece Mt. Mountain, which from its 17-minute titular opener and longest track (immediate points) unfolds a ritual of superior immersion and conscious trance inducement. Over the course of four songs/37 minutes total, Mt. Mountain unfold a sprawl reportedly intended to capture the atmosphere of the Australian Outback — and maybe they get there, I don’t know; I’ve never been — but either way, the balance of repetition and depth in “Floating Eyes” and the shimmer of the nine-minute “Kokoti” speak to a varied ecosystem that, indeed, one might get lost in, never to return. Mellotron, organ, djembe and percussion play a central role in the overarching sense of mind-expansion along with the guitar, bass, vocals, drums, etc., but it’s the combination of elements, the variety between tracks — they’re jam-based, but distinct songs, to be sure — that really stands Dust apart from much of drift-minded modern heavy psych. One advises patience with the drones of the opener and the cautious first steps that the fading in percussion seems to be taking, as the rewards are considerable when it comes to the front-to-back experience Mt. Mountain offer, which is stark, striking, marked by underlying threat and casts a feeling of the infinite that no doubt was the very intent behind its making.

Mt. Mountain on Thee Facebooks

Cardinal Fuzz webstore

 

Mage, Green

mage green

Self-released in a six-panel digipak with decidedly grim artwork courtesy of Dominic SohorGreen is the third full-length from Leicestershire, UK, heavy rockers Mage. Last heard from with 2014’s Last Orders (review here), they retain the blend of heavy rock groove and metallic aggression that’s become their signature sound, and continue the march forward in finding a space between post-Down/Orange Goblin dude-rockery and doomlier fare. Vocalist Tom blends harsh growls and a cleaner approach on opener “Nowhere to Nothing” and the later “Primitive Drive” while mostly avoiding sounding like Phil Anselmo, and as guitarist Woody, bassist Mark and drummer Andy dig into the slower roll of “Eclipse King,” Mage seem to hit the mark they’re shooting for in terms of style and songcraft. The centerpiece title-track has a little more head-bob to its central progression — and then there’s that wah; always fun — but they’re right to mess around with the proportion of stylistic elements throughout to add variety, and the 10-minute closer “Vultures Mass” does well in taking the punch of “Nowhere to Nothing” and “Heroic Elegy” at the album’s start and pushing it outward into a satisfying apex. Straightforward in its intent, given a sense of mass via a recording job at Skyhammer Studios and executed with a clean conscience, Green is the work of a band who know what they want from their sound and know how to make it happen, which, thankfully, they do in these tracks.

Mage on Thee Facebooks

Mage on Bandcamp

 

Hypertonus, Tidal Wave

hypertonus tidal wave

Tidal Wave is the self-issued debut full-length from German instrumentalist three-piece Hypertonus, and it lands some six years after the band first got together, preceded by a semi-eponymous 2013 EP, HPRTNS. If the more-than-half-a-decade stretch seems like a while for a group to get to their first long-player, it might be, but one suspects the Bremen-based troupe comprised of guitarist Patrick Büch, bassist Arne Staats and drummer Hannes Christen spent a significant amount of that time in the jam room developing their sound, because what they cast over this nine-track/45-minute outing is a keen progressivism and chemistry that feels not at all happenstance. With shifts into and out of technically-minded parts that seem to be driven by Staats‘ bass, Hypertonus reportedly tracked Tidal Wave live, and I have no reason not to believe it, particularly given the eight-minute closer “Phantasmagoria (Improvisation Jam),” which departs from the quick psych-meditation of “Aeropause” and the almost jazzy rhythms and post-rock guitar of “Expect the Sky Below” to bring the band’s style even more to life for the listener to take on. It’s a heady release, and some of the changes come across as willfully choppy — playing with expectation in a “now we’re over here!” kind of way — but there’s a marked sense of accomplishment throughout that’s nothing if not well earned.

Hypertonus on Thee Facebooks

Hypertonus on Bandcamp

 

Lee Van Cleef, Holy Smoke

lee van cleef holy smoke

Pressed to gorgeous-sounding vinyl by White Dwarf Records last November, the five-track instrumental Holy Smoke is the debut LP from Naples, Italy, jammers Lee Van Cleef, and aside from its righteously striking cover art, one finds primary impressions in the gotta-hear-it bass tone of Pietro Trinità La Tegola, the molten lysergism in Marco Adamo‘s guitar and the grounding-but-not-too-grounding effectiveness of drummer Guido Minervini in anchoring a jam like the 13-minute “Banshee,” which takes the best lessons of groups like Germany’s Electric Moon and Portugal’s Black Bombaim and brings them to methodical, engagingly rumbling fruition. Nod persists through the more uptempo, Tee Pee Records-style centerpiece “Hell Malo,” but the three-piece seem even more comfortable dug into the post-Sleep riffing of the subsequent “Mah?na,” finishing that track with a standout wash of a guitar lead ahead of the brighter-feeling closer “Towelie,” which underscores an otherworldly vibe that turns out to have been in Holy Smoke all along. Lee Van Cleef have already followed Holy Smoke up with a single titled “Everyone Should Kill an Old Hippy” (discussed here) — it’s worth noting that this album starts with “Heckle Yuppies,” so they’re not fans of them either — and one can’t imagine it will be long before they answer back with another full-length offering. The question is how they’ll ultimately distinguish themselves from the crowded European jam-based heavy psych underground, but there’s nothing in these tracks to give the impression they can’t or won’t do so as they continue to grow.

Lee Van Cleef on Thee Facebooks

White Dwarf Records on Thee Facebooks

 

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Lee Van Cleef Release New Single “Everyone Should Kill an Old Hippy”

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 7th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

lee van cleef

Before we dig in here, I’d just like to point out that I don’t actually condone the killing of anybody — elderly, hippies or otherwise — and I sincerely doubt that if they were faced with the choice, Naples-based heavy psych jammers Lee Van Cleef wouldn’t do so either. Nonetheless, the three-piece who take their name from one of the greatest spaghetti western actors of all time and who released their debut full-length, Holy Smoke, last year on White Dwarf Records, have elected to call their new single “Everyone Should Kill an Old Hippy” for one reason or another. Sometimes someone says something in the studio and it sticks.

Whoever is or isn’t getting murdered, Lee Van Cleef nail a wah-soaked vibe on the freshly-tracked jam, which was self-recorded in their La Saleeta studio and mixed by drummer Guido Minervini. Trippy guitars flesh out over a heavy roll in the just-under-seven-minute instrumental, filling the spaces where vocal lines might otherwise be with drifting and/or swirling lead work that stays true to an improved-feeling foundation even as a second layer arrives later on. Entirely possible “Everyone Should Kill an Old Hippy” will show up on Lee Van Cleef‘s next album, as previously-issued singles “Mahana” and “Banshee” made their way onto Holy Smoke, and if that’s something that’s in progress, it’s definitely worth keeping an eye out.

True to being an instrumental band, they didn’t have much to say about the release, but their words follow, as well as the stream of the new song, hoisted from their Bandcamp page.

Dig it:

lee-van-cleef-everyone-should-kill-an-old-hippy

Ehi Guys! Just Release a brand new track recorded some days ago at La Saletta! We hope you enjoy it!!!

“Everyone Should Kill An Old Hippy” comes to you!

Just give some info about the recording session, we recorded it by ourself in our studio called “La saletta” here in Naples, mixed by pur drummer Guido Minervini.

Our plan is for some dates this spring/summer, and we will be at Red Smoke Festival in Poland in July.

Lee Van Cleef is:
Marco Adamo (Guitar)
Pietro Trinità La Tegola (Bass)
Guido Minervini (Drums)

https://www.facebook.com/leevancleefjams
https://leevancleefjams.bandcamp.com/
www.whitedwarfrock.com/
https://whitedwarf3.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/White-Dwarf-200914153278149/

Lee Van Cleef, “Everyone Should Kill an Old Hippy”

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Tuna de Tierra Sign to Argonauta Records; Debut Album this Spring

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 15th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

I’m interested to hear what Naples-based trio Tuna de Tierra have in store with their full-length debut. The Italian heavy psych rockers piqued intrigue with their first short outing, EPisode I: Pilot (review here), in 2015. It was a three-songer, and they had some room to grow into their approach, but they offset the initial desert-hued meanderings of “Red Sun” with more propulsive riffing, and thereby set themselves up for a well-balanced sound over the longer-term.

Well, a first album is a crucial step toward getting to that longer term, and Tuna de Tierra‘s will be out via Argonauta Records this Spring, as the label announced. Particularly if you’re invested in the narrative of an underground heavy boom throughout Italy, they might be one to keep an eye on, fitting that bill as they do.

No title or audio yet from the new release, but the label’s announcement follows:

tuna de tierra

Argonauta Records New signing: TUNA DE TIERRA

We’re proud to announce we’ve inked a deal with Italian Desert Rockers TUNA DE TIERRA.

TUNA DE TIERRA was born in Napoli (Italy) in the first months of 2013 from the long-standing union between Alessio De Cicco (guitar and vocals)and Luciano Mirra (bass guitar), then joined by Jonathan Maurano (actually replaced by Marco Mancaniello) on drums.

Already authors of the acclaimed self produced ep “EPisode I: Pilot” (2015) and available below, TUNA DE TIERRA are giving now final touches to their anticipated new album, to be released in Spring 2017 by Argonauta Records.

You can expect psychedelic sounds from the desert, wide landscape full of sand at the sunset, intolerable warm atmospheres, lysergic imagination nurturing air. Tuna de Tierra leaves for a trip with neither destination nor end, but just the purpose to move endlessly.

Tuna de Tierra is:
Alessio De Cicco: guitar, vocals
Luciano Mirra: bass guitar
Jonathan Maurano: drums

https://www.facebook.com/tunadetierra
https://tunadetierra.bandcamp.com/
http://www.argonautarecords.com
https://www.facebook.com/ArgonautaRecords/

Tuna de Tierra, EPisode I: Pilot (2015)

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Lee Van Cleef to Release Holy Smoke Vinyl Nov. 25

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 25th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

lee-van-cleef

I gotta tell you, I never wanted there to be a band called Yul Brynner so badly in my entire life, just so they could go on tour with Lee Van Cleef and do a poster for every single show in a Spaghetti Western theme. As it stands, I suppose Lee Van Cleef could probably pull that one off on their own and get away with it. The newcomer Napoli four-piece are streaming their debut album, Holy Smoke, in its echoed-out mostly-instrumental heavy psych spaciousness below — if it wasn’t already on Bandcamp, I’d have asked to do a stream with a review, make no mistake — and Berlin-based White Dwarf Records will have a vinyl edition out on Nov. 25. No word on a tour to support, never mind posters, but for a group who’ve been around less than a year and are already putting their first LP out, I’d say they’ve got plenty enough to go on as they get started.

Italy’s emergence as a major player in the European heavy underground continues. Don’t be surprised if Lee Van Cleef start popping up in festival lineups for 2017.

This from the PR wire:

lee-van-cleef-holy-smoke

LEE VAN CLEEF – Holy Smoke (WHD 007)

The project LEE VAN CLEEF was born as a joke at the end of 2015 and is the result of long jam sessions between Marco Adamo, guitarist (La polvere di Bodélé), Guido Minervini, drum (Efesto, Lamarck) and Pietro La Tegola, bass (Whiskeycold Winter). Influenced by bands like Earthless, Black Bombaim, Harsh Toke (to name a few) The first work “Holy Smoke” was recorded mixed and mastered in the Godfather studio of Naples. The artwork was done by Robin Gnista.

Limited edition of 150 copies on purple marbled 180 gram vinyl! Inside-out-cover, including download card!

Limited edition of 350 copies on black 180 gram vinyl! Inside-out-cover, including download card!

TRACKLIST:
1. Heckle Yuppies 07:27 min.
2. Banshee 13:18 min.
3. Hell Malo 05:12 min.
4. Mah?na 08:27 min.
5. Towelie 07:11 min.

Label: White Dwarf
Release: 25.11.2016

LEE VAN CLEEF are:
Marco Adamo (Guitar)
Pietro Trinità La Tegola (Bass)
Guido Minervini (Drums)

https://www.facebook.com/leevancleefjams/
https://leevancleefjams.bandcamp.com/
https://whitedwarf3.bandcamp.com/album/lee-van-cleef-holy-smoke-whd-007

Lee Van Cleef, Holy Smoke (2016)

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Quarterly Review: Horisont, Blackwolfgoat & Larman Clamor, Matushka, Tuna de Tierra, MAKE, SardoniS, Lewis and the Strange Magics, Moewn, El Hijo de la Aurora, Hawk vs. Dove

Posted in Reviews on September 30th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

the-obelisk-quarterly-review-fall-2015

Cruising right along with the Fall 2015 Quarterly Review. I hope you’ve been digging it so far. There’s still much more to come, and I’ve spaced things out so that it’s not like all the really killer stuff was in the first day. That’s not so much to draw people in with bigger names as to get a good mix of styles to keep me from going insane. 10 records is a lot to go through if you’re hearing the same thing all the time. Today, as with each day this week, I’m glad to be able to change things up a bit as we make our way through. Let’s get to it.

Fall 2015 Quarterly Review #21-30:

Horisont, Odyssey

horisont odyssey

Aside from earning immediate points by sticking the 10-minute title-track at the front of their 62-minute fourth album, Swedish mustache rockers Horisont add intrigue to Odyssey (out on Rise Above) via the acquisition of journeyman guitarist Tom Sutton (The Order of Israfel, ex-Church of Misery). Their mission? To rock ‘70s arena melodies and grandiose vibes while keeping the affair tight enough so they don’t come across as completely ridiculous in the process. They’ve had three records to get it together before this one, so that they’d succeed isn’t necessarily much of a surprise, but the album satisfies nonetheless, cuts like “Blind Leder Blind” departing the sci-fi thematics of the opener for circa-1975 vintage loyalism of a different stripe, while “Back on the Streets” is pure early Scorpions strut, the band having found their own niche within crisp execution of classic-sounding grooves that seem to have a vinyl hiss no matter their source.

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Rise Above Records

Blackwolfgoat & Larman Clamor, Straphanger / Drone Monger Split

blackwolfgoat larman clamor split

I’ll make no bones whatsoever about being partial to the work of both Blackwolfgoat – the solo experimental vehicle of Boston-based guitarist Darryl Shepard – and Larman Clamor – the solo-project of Hamburg-based graphic artist Alexander von Wieding – so to find them teamed up for a split 7” on H42 Records is something of a special thrill. Shepard’s inclusion, “Straphanger,” continues to push the thread between building layers of guitar on top of each other and songwriting that the last Blackwolfgoat full-length, Drone Maintenance (review here), found him exploring, while Larman Clamor’s “Drone Monger” is an alternate version from what appeared on last year’s Beetle Crown and Steel Wand (review here) and “Fo’ What You Did” digs deep into the swampy psych-blues that von Wieding has done so well developing for the last half-decade or so in the project’s tenure. My only complaint? No collaboration between the two sides. Would love to hear what Shepard and von Wieding could do in a cross-Atlantic two-piece.

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H42 Records

Matushka, II

matushka ii

II is the aptly-titled second full-length from Russian heavy psych instrumentalists Matushka, who jam kosmiche across its four component tracks and round out by diving headfirst into the acid with “Drezina,” a 20-minute pulsation from some distant dimension that gives sounds like Earthless if they made it up on the spot, peppering shred-ola leads with no shortage of effects swirl. In comparison, “As Bartenders and Bouncers Dance” feels positively plotted, but it, “The Acid Curl’s Dance” before and the especially dreamy “Meditation,” which follows, all have their spontaneous-sounding elements. For guitarist Timophey Goryashin, bassist Maxim Zhuravlev (who seems to since be out of the band) and drummer Konstantin Kotov to even sustain this kind of lysergic flow, they need to have a pretty solid chemistry underlying the material, and they do. I don’t know whether Matushka’s II will change the scope of heavy psychedelia, but they put their stamp on the established parameters here and bring an edge of individuality in moments of arrangement flourish — acoustics, synth, whatever it might be — where a lot of times that kind of thing is simply lost in favor of raw jamming.

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Tuna de Tierra, EPisode I: Pilot

tuna de tierra episode i pilot

If a pilot is used in television to test whether or not a show works, then Tuna de Tierra’s EPisode I: Pilot, would seem to indicate similar ends. A three-song first outing from the Napoli outfit, it coats itself well in languid heavy psychedelic vibing across “Red Sun” (the opener and longest track at 8:25; immediate points), “Ash” (7:28) and the particularly dreamy “El Paso de la Tortuga,” which closes out at 4:08 and leaves the listener wanting to hear more of what Alessio de Cicco (guitar/vocals) and Luciano Mirra (bass) might be able to concoct from their desert-style influences. There’s patience to be learned in some of their progressions, and presumably at some point they’ll need to pick up a drummer to replace Jonathan Maurano, who plays here and seems to since be out of the band, but especially as their initial point of contact with planet earth, EPisode I: Pilot proves immersive and a pleasure to get lost within, and that’s enough for the moment.

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MAKE, The Golden Veil

make the golden veil

Much of what one might read concerning North Carolinian trio MAKE and their second album, The Golden Veil, seems to go out of its way to point out the individual take they’re bringing to the established parameters of post-metal. I don’t want to speak for anyone else, but part of that has to be sheer critical fatigue at the thought of another act coming along having anything in common with Isis while at the same time, not wanting to rag on MAKE as though their work were without value of its own, which at this point an Isis comparison dogwhistles. MAKE’s The Golden Veil successfully plays out an atmospherically intricate, engaging linear progression across its seven tracks, from the cut-short intro “I was Sitting Quietly, Peeling back My Skin” through the atmospheric sludge tumult of “The Absurdist” and into the patient post-rock melo-drone of “In the Final Moments, Uncoiling.” Yes, parts of it are familiar. Parts of a lot of things are familiar. Some of it sounds like Isis. That’s okay.

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SardoniS, III

sardonis iii

To an extent, the reputation of Belgium instru-crushers SardoniS precedes them, and as such I can’t help but listen to “The Coming of Khan,” which launches their third album, III (out via Consouling Sounds), and not be waiting for the explosion into tectonic riffing and massive-sounding gallop. Still the duo of drummer Jelle Stevens and guitarist Roel Paulussen, SardoniS offer up five tracks of sans-vocals, Surrounded by Thieves-style thrust, a cut like “Roaming the Valley” summarizing some of the best elements of what they’ve done across the span of splits with Eternal Elysium and Drums are for Parades, as well as their two prior full-lengths, 2012’s II and 2010’s SardoniS (review here), in its heft and its rush. A somewhat unanticipated turn arrives with 11:46 closer “Forward to the Abyss,” which though it still hits its standard marks, also boasts both lengthy atmospheric sections at the front and back and blastbeaten extremity between. Just when you think you know what to expect.

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Consouling Sounds

Lewis and the Strange Magics, Velvet Skin

lewis and the strange magics velvet skin

With their debut long-player, Barcelona trio Lewis and the Strange Magics answer the promise of their 2014 Demo (review here) in setting a late-‘60s vibe to modern cultish interpretation, post-Uncle Acid and post-Ghost (particularly so on “How to be You”) but no more indebted to one or the other than to themselves, which is as it should be. Issued via Soulseller Records, Velvet Skin isn’t afraid to dive into kitsch, and that winds up being a big part of the charm of songs like “Female Vampire” and “Golden Threads,” but it’s ultimately the chemistry of the organ-inclusive trio that makes the material hold up, as well as the swaggering rhythms of “Cloudy Grey Cube” and “Nina (Velvet Skin),” which is deceptively modern in its production despite such a vintage methodology. The guitar and keys on that semi-title-track seem to speak to a classic progressive edge burgeoning within Lewis and the Strange Magics’ approach, and I very much hope that’s a path they continue to walk.

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Soulseller Records

Moewn, Acqua Alta

moewn acqua alta

Basking in a style they call “oceanic rock,” newcomer German trio Moewn unveil their first full-length, Acqua Alta, via Pink Tank Records in swells of post-metallic undulations that wear their neo-progressive influences on their sleeve. Instrumental for the duration, the three-piece tracked the album in 2014 about a year after first getting together, but the six songs have a cohesive, thought-out feel to their peaks and valleys – “Packeis” perhaps most of all – that speaks to their purposeful overall progression. Atmospherically, it feels like Moewn are still searching for what they want to do with this sound, but they have an awful lot figured out up to this point, whether it’s the nodding wash of airy guitar and fluid heft of groove that seems to push “Dunkelmeer” along or second cut “Katamaran,” which if it weren’t for the liquefied themes of the art and their self-applied genre tag, I’d almost say sounded in its more spacious stretches like desert rock à la Yawning Man.

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Pink Tank Records

El Hijo de la Aurora, The Enigma of Evil

el hijo de la aurora the enigma of evil

Since their first album, 2008’s Lemuria (review here), it has been increasingly difficult to pin Peruvian outfit El Hijo de la Aurora to one style or another. Drawing from doom, heavy rock, drone and psychedelic elements, they seem to push outward cosmically into something that’s all and none of them at the same time on their third album, The Enigma of Evil (released by Minotauro Records), the core member Joaquín Cuadra enlisting the help of a host of others in executing the seven deeply varied tracks, including Indrayudh Shome of continually underrated experimentalists Queen Elephantine on the acoustic-led “The Awakening of Kosmos” and the penultimate chug-droner “The Advent of Ahriman.” Half a decade after the release of their second album, Wicca (review here), in 2010, El Hijo de la Aurora’s work continues to feel expansive and ripe for misinterpretation, finding weight in atmosphere as much as tone and breadth enough to surprise with how claustrophobic it can at times seem.

El Hijo de la Aurora’s website

Minotauro Records

Hawk vs. Dove, Divided States

hawk vs dove divided states

Dallas outfit Hawk vs. Dove recorded Divided States in the same studio as their self-titled 2013 debut (review here) and the two albums both have black and white line-drawn artwork from Larry Carey, so it seems only fitting to think of the new release as a follow-up to the first. It is fittingly expansive, culling together elements of ‘90s noise, post-grunge indie (ever wondered what Weezer would sound like heavy? Check “X”), black metal (“Burning and Crashing”), desert rock (“PGP”) and who the hell knows what else into a mesh of styles that not only holds up but feels progressed from the first time out and caps with an 11-minute title-track that does even more to draw the various styles together into a cohesive, singular whole. All told, Divided States is 38 minutes of blinding turns expertly handled and impressive scope trod over as though it ain’t no thing, just another day at the office. It’s the kind of record that’s so good at what it does that other bands should hear it and be annoyed.

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NAGA Show Some Fang in “The Money Will Roll Right In” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 24th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

naga

Not much word from Italian post-sludgers NAGA since the 2014 release of their Hen (review here) debut full-length, but the Naples three-piece come roaring — actually screaming — back with a new video covering Fang‘s “The Money Will Roll Right In.” The cut originally appeared on 1983’s Landshark!, and since the band also notes that they’re looking for a new label for their next release, it seems fair to think there may have been some business drama unfolded at some point in the last year-plus. Still, they’ve done local shows and have a yet-untold amount of new stuff recorded, so we may hear from them again soon.

As for “The Money Will Roll Right In,” it was tracked with Alessandro Pascolo at Sulfur City Studio, and Pascolo also adds some backing shouts to the chorus. Compared to the material from the debut, it’s rawer and less geared toward atmospherics, but with the punker roots of the track, that’s to be expected. NAGA‘s version, slowed down, pissed off, is pretty true to how sludge emerged from hardcore punk in the first place, so while I doubt giving a history lesson was really their intent going into the studio, they kind of do anyhow, topping it off with the simple and misanthropic credo, “Life’s shit.”

Fair enough. The clip for the track, which seems to have been recorded either in their rehearsal space or the studio itself, is suitably sans-frill. It’s below for the digging:

NAGA, “The Money Will Roll Right In” official video

Hello everyone, it’s been a while… We have recently finished to record something new with our brother Alessandro Pascolo at Sulfur City Studio. At the moment, our work has to find its own way to emerge from the abyss. If you are a label, or if you have something interesting to tell us you can write us (nagadoomATgmailDOTcom). In the meantime you can watch our ugly and bored faces in our rehearsal room… this song is a tribute to a lot of people, things and stories, all hail to the Fang!

Life’s shit!

Recorded and Mixed in September 2015 by Alessandro Pascolo at Sulfur City Studio (Italy). Additional chorus vocals by Alessandro Pascolo.

“The Money Will Roll Right In” was originally written by Tom Flynn, Chris Wilson/Fang in 1983

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NAGA on Bandcamp

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