Friday Full-Length: Naxatras, Naxatras

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 8th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Naxatras, Naxatras (2015)

Psychedelic records rarely land with the kind of blinding reception that Naxatras‘ self-titled debut garnered upon its release in 2015. But then, psychedelic records rarely hit into the blend of natural tones and performance that the Thessaloniki, Greece, three-piece absolutely nailed on their first offering, which brought to bear an hour’s worth of gorgeous and raw immersion beginning with the 10-minute leadoff and longest cut (immediate points) “I am the Beyonder,” declaring its drift early and living up to it for the reverb-soaked duration. The trio of bassist/vocalist John Vagenas, guitarist John Delias and drummer Kostas Harizanis rightfully thrust themselves to the forefront of an increasingly crowded, emerging Greek heavy underground with the album, and through their commitment to analog recording methods and with fluid enough chemistry between them to live up to that standard, they pulled through with a complete sense of aesthetic that continues to offer something new each time the album hits ears, regardless of listening format or other circumstance. With a sound that’s almost humble in its quiet restraint, NaxatrasNaxatras is nonetheless funky, spaced-out, molten and switched all the way on for maximum far-out-itude. It just keeps going, and yet turns out no more redundant in its execution — ever — than it wants to be.

Rare. Rare that a record can do that or be so completely psych without a wash of effects, or so earthy in its tone and yet seem to have such reach. Rare that a record can be so jammed out and yet seem to still work under such a cohesive master plan. But even listening to “Shiva’s Dance,” which oozes its way so far into the stratosphere that it seems to dissipate, Naxatras ultimately retain their direction and guide their audience back, if not to ground than at least to someplace of their own sure footing so that rather than tumble in timeless antigravity, there’s something to latch onto, the returning vocals of Vagenas an essential human element that crop up intermittently in order almost to remind that there are people in there amidst all that green and blue swirl, that it’s not just about the noise being made but an underlying sense of expression. A roller like “Downer” has a classic nod, and the penultimate “The West” actually winds up looking East in its scale as it makes its way gradually toward its final build, and all of these feed into the overarching liquefaction taking place throughout. It’s all part of the whole, and rather than be an unmanageable hour in its running, Naxatras‘ debut becomes the world in which it takes place, each new turn adding to the context surrounding, evolving into something richer and more righteous through the rudimentary space rock of “Sun is Burning” and the post-Hendrixian blues jam of “Space Tunnel.” And as much as it’s the opener setting the course — I’ll take away neither from the declarative statement in the title “I am the Beyonder” nor the fact that the song’s delivery lives up to that — so too does closer “Ent” feel purposefully placed as the bookend, evoking the patience inherent in the Tolkien tree creatures in its graceful swelling and receding.

Where these cuts and the rest on the self-titled found their niche was in between the improv-sounding jamming that has permeated Europe’s heavy underground one way or another since krautrock first took shape in the early and mid ’70s, and a smooth rolling, stoner-poised bluesy feel of longform crafted songs. Most of all, Naxatras, the album, benefited from the flow honed by VagenasDelias and Harizanis, and in the gentle, Duna Jam-worthy, key-inclusive instrumental “Waves,” they send early cues to their audience again that there’s something special beginning to take shape in their sound — and also that that shape is completely amorphous and, like a cloud, can be seen as any number of shapes or figures. Like a fluffy, aural Rorschach test, built out of fuzz and tonal warmth. I see lizards. You might see something else entirely. And that’s cool.

This past summer, Naxatras gave the self-titled an awaited vinyl release (info here) and set to work on their third album in order to follow-up II (review here), released in 2016 and also preceded by the simply-titled EP (discussed here) from which their first video was also produced. With III or whatever it winds up being called impending, the band hits the road this month on a massive European tour (dates here) that includes stops at the Smoke over Warsaw and Keep it Low festivals, as well as clubs from Russia and Bulgaria to France and the UK. It is an impressive run, and one wishes them the best with it as they continue to grow their audience leading into the next album, which like II before it will arrive with no small measure of anticipation because of the sense of accomplishment that seems to have been in Naxatras since their very beginnings just a couple short years ago.

Thanks for reading, and as always, I hope you enjoy.

I wrote my grandmother’s eulogy this week. On Tuesday, after that Shroud Eater show, The Patient Mrs. and I drove to NJ to crash with my family, and on Wednesday afternoon, I went over to my grandmother’s empty house, sat on the couch where for the last couple years I watched (not often enough, if we’re counting actual visits; never enough) as she went from one of the strongest people I’ve had the pleasure to know to a state of confused, scared decay unable to let go of the life she’d had for more than a century. I was alone while I wrote. It was quiet in a way I don’t think that house had ever been in my experience. I got through it.

I might post the text here at some point. She was someone who helped shape who I am and my perspective on the world and at the end of the day this is my site to do with what I fucking please, so yeah. Maybe. I’ll ask my mother if she minds and see what she says.

By the time this post is up, I’ll hopefully have finished reading the piece at her funeral service this morning/early afternoon. Whenever. I gave it a practice run circa 5:30 this morning and it seemed like the rhythm would work so long as I didn’t get too charged up or go too fast. I need to remember tempo in that kind of thing sometimes. Though I’m a terrible conversationalist and suck at interacting with humans, I like reading in public, speaking in public. Always have. In a bizarre way, I’m looking forward to it.

The plan for before that is to basically shove as much coffee into my body as possible and the plan for after is a repast at a place that serves, um, food, which is a thing I don’t really eat anymore. Once I’m through that, The Patient Mrs. and I will come back to my cousin’s house, grab the little dog Dio, finish packing the car, and hit the road north to Connecticut, where we’ll be spending a decent portion of the next week. Saturday I’ll run home to Massachusetts to check in there, get the mail, make sure the place hasn’t flooded, burned down, etc. — still TBA if The Patient Mrs. will join me for that extra four-hour roadtrip, though I told her I’d kind of rather do it alone and that’s true this time, plus she’s eight months pregnant at this point and doesn’t really need the added strain of being a passenger in a car I’m driving — then basically turn around and go back to CT again. Gotta go, gotta go. Might try to check out the 35th anniversary edition of Wrath of Khan at the movies on Sunday, too. That would be rad.

But you probably don’t give a shit about any of that, and fair enough. Here’s what’s in the notes so far for next week. Subject to change without notice as always:

Mon.: I Klatus track premiere/review; Six Dumb Questions with Earthride.
Tue.: Slomatics track premiere/live album review; new video from Azurea or Radio Moscow.
Wed.: Review of that Greek heavy psych comp that had the track premiere this week; Six Dumb Questions with Holy Grove.
Thu.: Hotel Wrecking City Traders album stream/review.
Fri.: With the Dead album review.

Busy, busy, busy. I’ve got most of the Quarterly Review picked out for the end of this month as well. Looking like it’ll be six days again. I thought about doing seven, just to try to get as much in as possible before the baby comes, but we’ll see. Time seems to be plenty short already, even though I spend an awful lot of it staring at this laptop screen. Either way, I’ll figure it out as we get there. But that’s coming, so heads up.

I hope you have a great and safe weekend. Thanks for reading as always, and please check out the forum and radio stream.

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Naxatras Begin Recording New Album; Self-Titled Vinyl Available

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


Winning news all around from Greek heavy psych rockers Naxatras, as they’ve begun the recording process for their third studio full-length as of yesterday and released their 2015 self-titled debut as a gatefold 2LP. Based in Thessaloniki, the three-piece of guitarist John Delias, bassist/vocalist John Vagenas and drummer Kostas Harizonis have been garnering acclaim from and beyond Europe’s underground since first issuing their debut two years ago thanks to languid jams like “Shiva’s Dance” and the classic-style fuzz drift of “Downer,” and it’s hard to imagine that by the time this post is live, the vinyl won’t be well on its way to sold out. They only pressed 500.

Among its endearing qualities, Naxatras‘ Naxatras basks in an ultra-natural tonality that would turn even the most loyalist of the vintage aficionados envious. From its 10-minute opener “I am the Beyonder” through the gently progressive roll of “Waves” and the push, blown-out drift, spoken preach and meandering guitar lines of “Ent,” which caps, the album cast aesthetic worries aside in favor of making its impression through immediate chemistry between its players, who recorded live, analog, no overdubs, in a single day. The vitality of performance became the self-titled’s signature, and it’s something that last year’s follow-up, II (review here), continued to develop along with their overall scope.

One can only hope the thread will continue for what may or may not be called III upon its arrival. I’ve yet to hear of a confirmed date for Naxatras‘ next release, but when and if I do, I’ll certainly let you know. In the meantime, plans seem to be in the works for a Fall 2017 European tour, since the band has been confirmed for the lineup of Keep it Low 2017 in Munich, Germany.

The following was culled together from a few different posts, but brings confirmation direct from the band:

naxatras self titled

They’re here!!!

Two years after the release of our first album, we finally present you its vinyl form!

Double-LP with an analog cutting from the original master tapes by Jesus I. Agnew at Magnetic Fidelity in a lovely gatefold cover by CHRIS RW!

The album was recorded live in the studio with no overdubs during a single day in January 2015. ATR Magnetic Master Tape in 1/4″ was used as the master tape, in a half-track stereo configuration.

Order here:

21st of May we enter the studio to record our 3rd album.

Uber-hyped to play Keep It Low Festival 2017 this October among so many awesome bands!!

Rest of the European Autumn Tour will be announced really soon too, so stay tuned friends…

Naxatras is:
John Delias – Guitar
Kostas Harizanis – Drums
John Vagenas – Bass & Vocals

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