Posted in Whathaveyou on March 24th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Long Island trio Axis/Orbit have announced they’ll release their debut LP on limited vinyl through ultra-respected long-running German imprint Nasoni Records. The LP, of which the title has yet to be revealed, is the follow-up to a self-titled EP that contains three songs and was issued by the band digitally late in 2014, and to my knowledge, this will be their first physical pressing. Due date is June 1, though as the band notes, that’s tentative.
The prior EP is streaming on the band’s Bandcamp, and as you can hear below, they dig into classic heavy rock with some garage-style flourish. Tones are warm but not necessarily retro, and the vibe on cuts like “Hazy” and the bass-led “The Owl” is laid back — at least until the animal noises kick in — and closer “Riot Canal” has an open-spaced, jammy sensibility that follows a linear course toward a satisfying freakout. Not to spoil it if you were going to listen, but solos are had.
Here’s the announcement and the band’s bio off the PR wire:
Axis/Orbit sign with Nasoni Records to release limited edition vinyl!!
Long Island’s stone groovers Axis Orbit have signed with seminal Stoner/Psych label Nasoni Records in Berlin to release their debut LP in a limited edition run of colored vinyl. Tentative release is June 1, 2015. Distribution through Clearspot of the Netherlands.
The album was recorded at Freedom of Speech Recording and engineered by Micky James (Chris Angel Mindfreak). Original art by Vincent Scala (www.vincentscala.com).
Axis/Orbit makes Rock and Roll. Stoner rock, retro rock, doomy, but unabashedly not completely metal. More of a cavalcade of 60’s-70’s rock stylings from the menace of Sabbath to the spaciness of Floyd’s cosmic tracks, to the heavy prog jam trio art of Cream and Band of Gypsies, with strokes of classic Cali folk rock, vintage grunge and straight up garage rawk. Formed in 2014 on Long Island, NY by drummer Mike Margulis, guitarist Bill Fridrich and bassist Lee Greenman with all contributing to writing, arranging and vocal duties, the group is rapidly gaining a following headlining regional shows, releasing an EP and preparing for a full length album of heavy psyche rancor for 2015.
Posted in Reviews on December 1st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
For their third full-length, Italian heavy psych rockers Deadpeach offer five varied explorations, each with its distinct personality. Aurum, which takes its name from the elemental name of gold, is out on vinyl through Nasoni Records and splits well into two sides, but still works as a front-to-back listen with engaging turns and a blend of jammed and structures approaches to which the four-piece of guitarist/vocalist Giovanni, guitarist Daniele Bartoli, bassist Mr. Steveman and drummer Federio Tebaldi are amiably suited. On a superficial level, there isn’t anything in the span of Aurum‘s 38 minutes that couldn’t fall under the heading of heavy psychedelia, and I don’t think there’s anything present that’s intended otherwise, but Deadpeach prove bold within those parameters and find themselves ranging beyond genre confines more than it might at first seem. Side A, in particular, is an ambitious beginning, with just two songs — “Calcutta” (10:01) and “Gold” (9:14) — that comprise the first half of the record. As someone who gives immediate credit to records that open with their longest tracks, to find the longest two by a considerable margin pushed to the front of Aurum is a rare-enough treat to be remarkable, but even within themselves, they begin to show some of the range that unfolds as the album plays out, recalling the earlier fuzzy riff rock of their 2006 Psycle debut and the development that showed itself on the 2011 follow-up, 2, while continuing to push into newer, jammier ground for the band. Whether one approaches Aurum as two sides or in linear form, the first two tracks and subsequent “The Line,” “Stomper” and “Traffic” reveal an act capturing a vital spirit of creative spontaneity while also following a decided course.
Aurum has an easy appeal for the already converted among heavy rock heads. Giovanni and Bartoli offer up enough fuzz and riffs in “The Line,” “Gold” and the early going of “Stomper” that, if there’s a quota, it’s met. What really pushes that basic appeal to another degree is the shifts that take place between the songs and how well Aurum moves with them. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the 10-minute “Calcutta” unfolds gradually to reach its full breadth, but immediately the guitars and bass set an atmospheric foundation that becomes the basis from which the rest of the album is built. Light chanting and, later, lyrics emerge in a style not too far from Lamp of the Universe, but lead guitar is the focal point and the movement playing out behind it. Hypnotic, the jam comes to a head about halfway in and quickly recedes, only to be constructed again, a little faster the second time, and given an ambient leadout that smoothes the way into “Gold,” which takes Mr. Steveman‘s bassline as its driving element and, rather than split its build, follows a single line over the course of its nine minutes, hitting a stride of fuzz and crash after a midpoint break, shifting into more straightforward-seeming stonerly swing and verses, a Hawkwindy space factor not at all lost among the proceedings. Thinking of Aurum as one song flowing into the next, “Gold” bridges a gap between “Calcutta” and “The Line,” with a jammy first half leading to a more traditionally structured second, but the track itself has more substance to it than a mere transitional moment, be it in classically layered leads or the tonal weight of the push running alongside them. To discount either part as simply feeding out of or into something else doesn’t do the song justice, or acknowledge the fact that in putting the two sides next to each other and making it work as smoothly as Deadpeach do, they’re summarizing a good portion of the album’s appeal on what’s also as close as they come to a title-track. Even way out in space, there’s consciousness at work.
“The Line,” which leads off the second half of Aurum, is the shortest track included at 4:55, and true to the latter end of “Gold,” it’s a more straightforward fuzz rocker, updating classic heavy methods with a modern vibe. Giovanni‘s vocals still echo out from under the fuzz, and Mr. Steveman runs circles around the central riff, but whether it’s as a centerpiece of the five tracks or as the start of side B, no question “The Line” is a major shift from “Calcutta” and “Gold” before it, despite consistency of mood and swirl. Deadpeach find room in their only-song-under-five-minute rush to jam a bit behind a solo section, but with deft songwriting in their favor, they return to the chorus before finishing out, ending noisy and satisfying en route to the similarly rocking launch of “Stomper,” though it’s Tebaldi who takes that track over, turning an instrumental rocker into essentially a drum jam peppered with airy guitar. To his credit, he holds it together, and to the band’s, they bookend with a resurgent progression similar to that which led into the percussive stretch, a symmetry that keeps the vibe of Aurum steady even as Deadpeach move toward their finale and yet more ground to cover. Presumably because by now their listener might expect a fuzz-toned jam of one kind or another, the band dial back the distortion and close out with a jazzy instrumental movement that — while, yes, it kicks later into a fuzzy conclusion — provides one last turn from a foursome who’ve already shown plenty of variety. What the initial stages of “Traffic” demonstrate, however, is that there’s more to Deadpeach‘s fluidity than a pedal board. The vibe is maintained in the chemistry between players, but to jump back from “Traffic” to “Calcutta,” it would be easy to imagine you were hearing two different bands. Again, what makes Aurum work so well through this is the band’s ability to carry the listener along with them for the trip. As wide a range as Aurum works with, it never lets go of that connection.
Posted in Whathaveyou on September 22nd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Organ-laced heavy psych rockers The Dead-End Alley Band have released their second album, Odd Stories. It’s the follow-up to 2012/2013’s debut, Whispers of the Night(review here), and sees the Peruvian four-piece continue their adventurous psych explorations, dipping into surf tonality on “Devil’s Mask” and vibing out long-form on the eight-minute “Lost Again,” a strong current of Floydian progressivism emerging from the start of opener “The Nightmare Goes On” and serving as a unifying theme throughout several of the tracks. Vinyl and CD are apparently out now through a variety of labels — CD through Tóxiko Records and Inti Records in Peru, vinyl through Nasoni in Germany — and the band has also made Odd Stories available for front-to-back streaming on their Bandcamp page. Because it’s the future, and that’s how it goes.
Downloads are cheap, and if you need impetus to hit play on the embedded doodad below, Javier Kou‘s bass tone should serve nicely:
People, our 2do Disco ‘ odd stories ‘ is already in Europe, in the format vinilo. But if you do not have tornamesa or you can not wait to come to the records, you can hear you toditititititiiiiiito here. :D to see what you think.
‘Odd Stories’ (2014) is the second studio album of Peruvian psychedelic rock band ‘The Dead-End Alley Band’. It was recorded and produced in Lima, Peru, by Javier Kou, Sebastian Sanchez-Botta and Chino Burga. Edited, manufactured and released on vinyl in Europe by Nasoni Records (Germany) and on CD and tape in Peru by Tóxiko Records and Inti Records (Peru).
This new album is loaded with more heavy, fuzz and stoner scents, that gives the band a new unabashedly sound. An eternal lone and mad trip, through a neverending odd nightmare.
released 20 September 2014
The band: Javier Kou (Guitars / Bass / Vocals) Sebastian Sanchez-Botta (Vocals / Organs / Piano) Leonardo Alva (Lead Guitar at ‘The Cosmic Cry Out’) Jaime Diaz (Drum)
The staff: Chino Burga (Producer) Hans-Georg (Nasoni Records CEO) Marco Marin (Toxiko Records CEO) Diego Valdivia (Inti Records CEO) Jaime Diaz (Drums edition)
Posted in Whathaveyou on September 3rd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
If perhaps you’re like me and you’re an eternal sucker for a heavy psych jam, you might want to tune your mind into what Italian foursome Manthra Dei have going on. The Brescia outfit have signed to Acid Cosmonaut Records for the CD release of their self-titled debut, and they’ll match that with a vinyl issue through Nasoni. Two rousing endorsements, and with the laid back exploration of “Stone Face,” the recently revealed first audio from the album, I’m happy to add my endorsement as well, whatever it might be worth.
Don’t get lulled too far to sleep, because “Stone Face” picks up to some pretty killer space rock (the synth!) and I wouldn’t want you to miss out.
Info and of course the track follow, per gentile concessione di the PR wire:
We’re really happy to announce our next CD release, the homonymous album by Italian Heavy-Psych masters Manthra Dei! Coming this october, also on vinyl by Nasoni Records!
Here’s the first track off the album, Stone Face, a majestic trip into space/psych/prog areas. Enjoy it!
More than a band, Manthra Dei are a bunch of friends in love with lysergic deserts and forged by nights spent listening cassettes of teenage idols. Spontaneous, raw and mind-tripped tunes get pierced together by their bipolar personalities and become straight as headbanging on a kick-ass riff. Michele, Paolo and Brano started back in 2009 as an instrumental power-trio that brought them to self-produce an EP with two log trips for almost 40 minutes of improvisations. Soon after, Maestro Paolo T. (yes, a real Maestro) joined them to start a long list of live-shows with Karma to Burn, Yawning Man, Vibravoid among many others up to a memorable Pietrasonica Festival in 2011.
After that the band decided to fix their jams into an album and consequently to get closed in a rehearsal room for almost two years … at least up to 2013, when Nasoni Rec – Colour Haze, Machine, Siena Root anyone? – decided to cast on vinyl their recordings. CD edition was taken in charge by a young Italian label, Acid Cosmonauts, that spread the world with a limited edition of 300 copies of their first full-length.
What to find in the album? Hawkwind, Causa Sui, Can, Kyuss, Earthless, Black Sabbath, Colour Haze, King Crimson, Motorpsycho, Popol Vuh, Sleep, Goblin, Hypnos69, Jethro Tull, Ozric Tentacles mashed-up with no criteria but with horns up against the sky.
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 20th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
My unrequited nerddom of Nasoni Records continues. The ultra-respected German purveyor of psychedelic fare has issued the new long-player from Belgian lysergians Cosmic Trip Machine. Dubbed Golden Horus Nameand entrenched in a narrative that you can get a feel for in the PR wire info below, it’s richly progressive in the post-Floyd sense, textured and purposeful in the way its sprawl develops, with heavier flourishes of guitar coming on for a song like “Let Your Eye Come Down,” which you can also hear at the Cosmic Trip Machine Bandcamp, also linked here.
And while we’re at it, audio follows as well, so you can get a feel for some of the fascinating weirdness the band have on offer.
Dig if ya dig:
February 2008, Cosmic Trip Machine, named in tribute to 60’s and 70’s records, started by recording one album, shortly after Will Z. and Majnun first group split (with angry quarrels and strong divergence in opinion). The two friends collected materials for an opus called Lord Space Devil, a never-completed project began in December 2000 (unreleased songs, instrumentals, experimental and conceptual ideas).
The Golden Horus Name project is the return of Cosmic Trip Machine on stage then, from May 2012, in studio, with a new line-up. The album tells two different stories melted: the celestial cow Egyptian myth in broad outline and the story of Barrington, a cursed rock star, a Great Pharaoh reincarnation, who lived in the Swinging London and fell into a deep depression. The character is directly inspired by the life of the musician Ramases who recorded during the 60’s and the 70’s some singles and two beautiful albums. Golden Horus Name is a return to heaviest roots of the band, with progressive structures.
Proffering rich, organic tonality with an unpostured flair for the soulful and classically rocking, Brooklyn’s Traveling Circle made enough of an initial impression to be picked up by Germany’s Nasoni Records for the release of their first album. That’s high praise for psychedelia — especially American psychedelia — and the record, 2010’s Handmade House(review here) left little to question of the three-piece’s having earned it, a patient but still motion-minded flow playing out over the course of tight grooves and well-placed flourishes of synth. The follow-up, Escape from Black Cloud(review here), was also issued on LP by Nasoni late last year.
Its pulse is no harder to read in terms of overall accessibility, but Escape from Black Cloudis nonetheless a more developed full-length, two-sided all the way in its blend of classic psych and modern tonality, a steady beat throbbing under unrepentantly shoegazing opener “Higher,” while the high-pitched vocals space out above the sway. Elsewhere, as on side B’s shuffling “Fountain of Time,” they touch the ground, but there’s little interest presented in remaining there, as the sleepy “Newborn Shadow” demonstrates and the more playful “Rock this Feeling” confirms. At rest or in motion, Traveling Circle draw forth an engaging atmosphere akin to but not necessarily biting off anyone else’s work in psych or space rock. The more you let yourself be carried off by Escape from Black Cloud, the more satisfaction the album is like to provide.
Traveling Circle is comprised of guitarist/vocalist Dylan Maiden, bassist/backing vocalist/electric pianist Charlie Freeman and drummer Josh Schultz. All three were kind enough to participate in the following Six Dumb Questions. Please enjoy:
1. Escape from Black Cloud seems to have a more laid back feel than Handmade House in general. Were there things you knew you wanted to do differently coming off of the last record, or is that just how the songs came out of the jams?
Josh: I do think our attitude was a little different for the new record. We kept in a more sort of spacey pulse area for this album. For me, I really tried to keep the drums more pulsing. I tried to be creative in the approach but also keep it simple. I saw a documentary on Krautrock a while ago and Jaki Liebezeit describes a spaced-out audience member approaching him to suggest he should “play more monotonous.” I definitely tried to “play more monotonous.”
Charlie: Simplicity was the general approach all around. I tried not to overthink things but we had a certain sound in mind.
Dylan: Yeah, the goal was to compose a more linear structure throughout and fill it with melodic accents that give you the feeling of moving up and down.
2. How does the Traveling Circle writing process usually work? Am I way off in hearing a soul/funk influence? If I’m not, where does it come from?
Dylan: There may be some influence from those territories. But, to be honest, I draw inspiration in my writing from just about every place conceivable. The subliminal and subconscious are important drivers behind our writing process. There are many elements at work. We usually enter the practice studio and start arranging these elements into the sonic positions we feel are most appropriate for each song’s narrative.
Charlie: I can see what you mean with the soul/funk influence. “Rock this Feeling” has that vibe running throughout. In general, Dylan has a very soulful vocal delivery and Josh and I have an intertwined approach to drums and bass. This album definitely has more groove injected in it.
Josh: Over the two albums we have used a number of different methods in terms of writing. I think this record has some really great songs that Dylan brought in more or less done from a guitar/vocals perspective. Higher is a good example of this, the way I remember it. Some songs started as jams. “Closer” was sort of an unwritten jam at first. We first played that song as a jam at a bar in Brooklyn called Legend and just improvised it. The room was empty at the beginning of the song and began to fill up by the end. It looked like a good idea to polish it up after that. People seemed to relate to it. “Candle Light Sways” was an odd one in that I worked out the entire drum part at home and then brought it in to see if Charlie and Dylan would be up for making something out of it. The structure changed a bit with the group though. Maybe this is too mechanical an answer…
3. Tell me about writing and recording “Newborn Shadow.”
Dylan: This is one of my favorite songs on the album. I wanted to create a nostalgic atmosphere with the guitar sound, which involved very simple strums. Serendipitously, the guitar ended up sounding like a harp. Then I overlaid vocals that sound like they’re coming from a gothic cathedral. I really love Charlie’s bass on this track. It holds everything together and makes me feel like I’m on a teetering boat with a lantern in my hand, trying to make my way through the darkness ahead.
Charlie: This one came together pretty quickly right before we went into the studio. Dylan had a very clear idea of the overall sound he was going for. It has a really nice build to it. It’s a very haunting song.
Josh: The drums were more involved on that song at one point and it was worse for it! In trying out ideas we got around to the current treatment, which is much stronger for the simple drums.
4. The album sounds so natural. How much of Escape from Black Cloud was recorded live? What was your time in the studio like? Has there been any consideration to bringing in a synth player as a full-time member of the band?
Dylan: We’ve been praised for our live performances. Many people have said they prefer hearing us live to our albums. The aim of Escape from Black Cloud was to capture the energy and emotion of our live performance and bring it to the forefront. We brought in friends to help with arrangements such as synthesizer and Theremin, but this by no means compromised the integrity of our sound. Having our brethren by our side helped accentuate the most important bits and crystallize the vision. Nostalgia and dustiness aside, considering how many tracks we recorded live, Escape from Black Cloud came out sounding quite polished as a studio piece, both in its execution and production.
Josh: We did the bass, drums and guitar tracks all at once in a live fashion and then went from there. We recorded at Seaside Lounge with MitchRackin. Mitch is the best! His record with Heavy Hands is great. I listen to it pretty regularly. The album is called Smoke Signals. Seaside is a great place to record. They record to tape and have a lot of sweet vintage gear and are great guys! I wish I was at Seaside Lounge right now! As for the mixing, Dylan was in contact with Gordon Raphael and we decided to approach him about trying out some mixes, we really liked what he came up with and so we asked him to mix the album. He was working between Berlin and Texas so we handled the mixes through the mail. It was an unusual way to work for us but I like what we ended up with.
We have talked at times about adding a member but haven’t really done much about it. Charlie handles the keys on “Willow Tree Fair.” He comes up with great parts. Other additional parts include Theremin played by Matt Dallow and some studio magic from Gordon.
Charlie: We keep some pretty odd rehearsal times too. A lot of people don’t want to get up that early on a Sunday morning.
5. Can you give some insight into Erin Klauk’s work on the cover art? Was there some discussion of direction beforehand? How did you wind up working together in the first place?
Josh: Erin has done a lot of posters for us over the years and also the cover to the last LP. She did the posters for Brooklyn Psych Fest as well. I don’t recall much direction. I guess she just riffed on the title. Pretty far-out stuff, right? Alexandra Zorbas-Maiden took the sweet photos, including one on the back and another on the poster insert.
Charlie: Erin had some couch pillows made with the cover art and gave them to us as gifts. That was the first time I saw the art and I was blown away. We’re really lucky to have people as talented as Erin and Alex working with us.
Dylan: I was at an art opening in Chelsea that featured some really cool Himalayan artwork. They were dark depictions of mountains and clouds. Very simple line drawings that almost resembled wood engravings. I was very inspired and thought the tone somehow related to the songs we selected for our second album. Knowing Erin was going to illustrate the cover,
I texted her pictures from this Himalayan artist as inspiration for what would later become Escape from Black Cloud.
The photo on the back cover of Escape from Black Cloud was taken in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, by my wife Alex. The poster insert photo was also taken by her in the Muir Woods.
6. Will there be a CD release? Any shows, plans or other closing words you want to mention?
Josh: Currently there are no plans for a CD but we have been receiving requests. The best way to pick up Escape from Black Cloud is on vinyl at www.nasoni-records.com. They also have both an LP and CD of our first album, Handmade House. If you don’t listen to records, Escape from Black Cloud is on iTunes and Spotify. We are currently planning to hold record listenings in three cities as well, New York, San Francisco, and Sydney. If anyone is interested, keep an eye on our Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/TravelingCircle for more details.
Posted in Reviews on January 3rd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Brooklynite trio Traveling Circle made their debut on Nasoni Records with Handmade House in 2010. It was a fascinating listen (review here) for a number of reasons, chiefly its buzzsaw fuzz, falsetto vocals and displayed affection for late ‘60s psych-pop. On their follow-up, Escape from Black Cloud, the space-minded unit of guitarist/vocalist Dylan Maiden, bassist/backing vocalist/electric pianist Charlie Freeman and drummer Josh Schultz expand the formula a bit, keeping the soulful elements in play while drawing back the tonal bite of the first album and exploring a more shoegazing feel. The 10-track/34-minute vinyl-only outing earns a return endorsement from Nasoni, and the LP package includes a separate lyric sheet fitting the aesthetic of the striking Erin Klauk artwork. As with last time around, there’s something playful about Escape from Black Cloud – even the title sounds like a children’s story, and Traveling Circle keep a sense of wonder in the material, songs like the grooving side two highlight “Rock this Feeling” – is that a Prince influence? – and the earlier analog trippery of “The Candlelight Sways” smoothing out much of what the first album presented without sacrificing the refreshing originality Handmade House presented. They are almost universally farther back in the mix. All three of them. From the Freeman-begun opening of leadoff cut “Higher,” everything is full-reverb, and that follows through to Maiden’s guitar and vocals as well, while Schultz’s drums seem to come in bursts of cymbal wash while otherwise sticking to a vinyl-compressed thump that hints at that moment right before rhythm sections in power trios threw the “heavy” switch and Cream gave way to Blue Cheer. A sense of weirdness prevails, and Traveling Circle seem to delight in it, adding theremin first to “The Candlelight Sways” and later to “Rock this Feeling” and “Conduit is Closing” on side two. All three are standouts on Escape from Black Cloud, and the theremin, played by Matt Dallow, is no less drenched in echo than the rest of the instruments, the vibe staying consistent across the release and never relenting from an effective balance of subtly presented structural traditionalism coated in some kind of hallucinogenic moss.
Slow, ethereal and righteously psychedelic, “Newborn Shadow” is perhaps some of the most affecting material on the album, making latter day Dead Meadow sound like thrash in comparison to its ambient hypnosis. Past the opening duo, which weren’t exactly lacking resonance on their own, Traveling Circle spend the rest of side one in a flowing slow-motion freakout, Maiden cooing over light-touch rhythmic minimalism on “Newborn Shadow” before the instrumental build of “Green Spider” takes hold, melding surf rock guitar à la Yawning Man with prominent fuzz offset by Freeman’s counteracting fills and a more-forward-in-the-mix snare march from Schultz. A linear progression is at work, but Traveling Circle are patient with it, letting the song come to its own peak before shifting to the more space-rocking launch of “Closer,” which sets its musical crux around variations of the repeated lines “Closer today/So far away/Closer.” If it seems barebones, it is, but the actual sound of the track is much fuller, Maiden injecting wah swirl for a tiger-growl at the halfway point before cycling once more through the verse. Freeman and Schultz pick up the already insistent pace for a build that Maiden soon joins and the whole song comes to a head on a drumroll and set of crashes, ending side one with as much energy as Escape from Black Cloud has yet shown. Side two begins with “The Willow Tree Fair” – the longest track on the record at a sprawling 4:53 – the central chorus of which seems to be nodding at early British psych rock lyrically, while the music is undeniably more modern, hitting its apex late in a similar spirit to “Closer” but having an even more languid vibe for the extra time it takes. Subtlety is a big part of what makes Escape from Black Cloud work, here a look at different psychedelic themes lyrically, there an ambient nod to experimental post-rock indie. It makes for an intriguing aesthetic, and with a firmer grip on his falsetto, even the “oohs” and “aahs” of “Rock this Feeling” come across more convincingly than they might have last time out, the fuzzed-out funk groove underscored by echoing slide-whistle theremin sounds, woven in for engaging texture amid Freeman’s excellent bass work.
Posted in Reviews on September 4th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
At six tracks/33 minutes, Blood is Love has all the flow between its songs that one could ask of a full-length, but it is nonetheless the darker second in a trilogy of EPs from Italian stoner rockers Ivy Garden of the Desert. That they’re heavily indebted to the Kyuss/Queens of the Stone Age/Desert Sessions sphere of heavy shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise – they had much the same influence on the prior Docile EP (review here), also released by Nasoni, and they do have “desert” in their name – but the Montebelluna three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Diego, bassist Paolo and drummer Andrea set their own mood within that scope, not really veering too far from what one might expect, but keeping a humble kind of individuality in the tracks. That proves increasingly true the closer they get to the finale, “Glicine,” but even with the more active beginning that “Viscera” – would it be too much to call it “gutsy?” – provides, they remain melodically aware. In that, Blood is Love is consistent with Docile, though the latest is perhaps even more cohesive in terms of style. There’s an element of the brooding in Diego’s singing, his accent adding to it as the lyrics are in English, and that fits the laid-back grooving in the riffs as well, though the separation in the mix between guitar, bass and drums is prevalent, and though the EP ends with a sample of a tape spinning out, it sounds much more like a digital recording. Whether it is or not, I don’t know – information is sparse – but that’s how it sounds to my ears, anyway, with a decent amount of compression on Andrea’s kit and the guitars and bass alike. The mix was my chief issue last time around, with Diego’s vocals high and cutting through, and to an extent that remains true with Blood is Love, but the instruments stand up to the singing, whether it’s the Songs for the Deaf-style speed riffing of the opener or the punchy bass of “A Golden Rod for This Virgin,” the second track which seems to have long ago passed the “Welcome to Sky Valley” highway sign.
Without lyrics or some general statement of intent beyond the basic knowledge that Ivy Garden of the Desert are working on a trilogy of which Blood is Love is the middle, more aggressive piece, it’s hard to say what exactly it is tying the releases together beyond the basic aesthetic and desert atmosphere, but if that’s it, at least there’s plenty to work with. They’re obviously aware of the genre they’re working in, and where much of the European heavy psych and stoner scene seems to be pushing toward tonally warm jamming, Ivy Garden of the Desert never feel out of control in these tracks, even as the cyclical tom work and start-stop riffing of “A Golden Rod for this Virgin” gives way to its building second half. There’s an open feeling in the tonality, but the songs remain structured, even if it’s just one part into the next. It flows. The songs within themselves flow and the tracks each into the other, though again, if they were written to purposefully serve some overarching whole, I don’t know. It does make the EP an easier listen that it otherwise might be, though. The instrumental “Weasel in Poultry Skin” continues the desert-minded push of the first two cuts, working in some vague Helmet influence both in its intro and later start-stop moments while also avoiding any vocal mix issues, but even here, Blood is Love offers little clue as to what it’s about. They remain aligned to genre, but push the line somewhat with “Ghost Station,” furthering the start-stop guitar that’s been present all along to the absolute fore, both Andrea and Paolo joining Diego in mutes and thuds. The song introduces itself with a jangly guitar, and that comes in again at the end with a more active bassline, but the crux of it is a series of single hits that don’t seem to develop a dynamic build, staying on a kind of repetitive plateau that, coupled with Diego’s moody, bottom-of-the-mouth vocals, begins quickly to smack of nü-metal. One might also point to that as a post-Helmet facet of the band’s sound, but it’s the melody that makes the difference. It sounded like nü-metal when Page Hamilton started singing too.