Neurosis Add More Live Dates for 2013

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 21st, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

Apparently I missed a few pieces of news while I was spending eight and a half hours putting together my Top 20 yesterday, so in an effort to get caught up, here are the latest additions to Neurosis‘ shows in support of Honor Found in Decay – which, as fate would have it, featured prominently in the aforementioned list. I look forward to nerding out at the Brooklyn Masonic Temple, and if you were fortunate enough to catch them last time they were there, you should too.

The PR wire is wise in the ways of tour dates:

NEUROSIS Authenticates Additional 2013 Live Actions

Details On Vinyl Pressing Of Honor Found In Decay Released

NEUROSIS continues to confirm new live actions in support of the band’s tenth studio opus, Honor Found In Decay.

Following recent announcements on the outfit’s upcoming performances in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles and Seattle, NEUROSIS have just proclaimed additional 2013 on-stage manifestations, with new shows in Brooklyn and Philadelphia planned for January, as well as Denver and Austin in February. Support acts for these new concerts are all being confirmed now, in addition to even more live performances.

The band has also been confirmed for 2013’s installment of the massive Hellfest festival in Clisson, France. The immense gathering runs from June 21st through 23rd, and will see NEUROSIS sharing the stage with Kiss, ZZ Top, Down, Bad Religion, At The Gates, Kreator and hundreds more.

A release date and further details on the anticipated vinyl edition of Honor Found In Decay have also been disclosed this week. This deluxe 2xLP pressing of the album will be unleashed February 5th in North America, February 8th in Germany/Benelux/Finland and February 11th in the UK/World, via Relapse Records/Neurot Recordings, and will be packaged in a gorgeous Stoughton tip-on gatefold jacket and accompanied by a stunning 16-page LP-sized booklet. The audio was cut directly from the original studio master tapes and pressed on 180-gram vinyl, which will be available in five different colors: 2000 on black, 1000 on translucent smoke grey, 500 on translucent yellow, 500 on translucent orange, and 100 on clear, not available to the public.

Preorders can be placed via Neurot and Relapse now!

NEUROSIS Honor Found In Decay Live Actions:
12/29/2012 The Masquerade – Atlanta, GA w/ Rwake, USX, Primate
12/30/2012 The Metro – Chicago, IL w/ Bloodiest, The Atlas Moth
1/04/2013 Fonda Theatre – Los Angeles, CA w/ Savage Republic, Ides of Gemini
1/05/2013 Showbox at the Market – Seattle, WA w/ Tragedy, Black Breath, Stoneburner
1/19/2013 Brooklyn Masonic Temple – Brooklyn, NY
1/20/2013 Union Transfer – Philadelphia, PA
2/16/2013 Summit Music Hall – Denver, CO
2/17/2013 Emo’s East – Austin, TX
6/21/2013 Hellfest – Clisson, France

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Neurosis, Honor Found in Decay: Cracking the Bones to Get at the Marrow

Posted in Reviews on September 21st, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

The advent of a new Neurosis album is noteworthy even in concept. If you count 2003’s collaboration with Jarboe, there have been four in the last decade – which is a better average than some – and yet each new release seems to arrive with more anticipation behind it, the band members’ prolific side-projects and solo outings only feeding the fire that burns its way back to the root act. The 10th studio full-length from Neurosis (that’s not counting the aforementioned collaboration) is called Honor Found in Decay. It features seven tracks and clocks in at an hour even, making it the shortest since 1990’s sophomore LP, The Word as Law, though the difference between it and much of the band’s post-Souls at Zero (1992) discography, time-wise, is only five to 10 minutes. Still worth noting. More pivotal, however, is the emotional and musical progression of the band. It’s been more than five years since Given to the Rising was issued in May 2007, and of course the work in individual members of Neurosis have done outside the band since then – guitarist/vocalist Steve Von Till in Harvestman and with his solo project, guitarist/vocalist Scott Kelly with Shrinebuilder and his solo projects, keyboardist Noah Landis’ outside collaborations with Kelly, drummer Jason Roeder with Sleep and even visual artist Josh Graham with A Storm of Light – has fed into that progression, but Neurosis at this point is like the temple to which these players – as well as bassist Dave Edwardson, whose work here and throughout the band’s discography is both overshadowed and essential – sojourn every few years, coming together for periodic shows from their various geographic locales in the western part of the country, California, Oregon, Idaho, and writing either via the internet, or individually, or some combination of that, or some mysterious other process. Perhaps distance is part of the reason it’s taken Honor Found in Decay (which, like everything Neurosis does at this point, is released on their own Neurot Recordings imprint) five years to materialize – engineer Steve Albini’s schedule might also have something to do with it – but even if so, the new full-length works quickly to justify the wait. Among the many hyperbolic things it is, it is the work of a group of artists unmatched in their relentless pursuit.

What exactly they’re pursuing could probably be the subject of a master’s thesis, but in the case of Honor Found in Decay, one need not look much farther than the album cover for some clue. Since 1993’s landmark Enemy of the Sun, but especially since 2001’s A Sun that Never Sets (the art for which came from the venerable Seldon Hunt), the visual presentation of Neurosis releases has been an especially apt statement of the mood of the album. Thanks to Graham, 2004’s more ambient, brooding The Eye of Every Storm came dressed in cloud-greys as though descended from some snowy mountain, weathered and tired, and Given to the Rising made its bleak, angrier perspective clear in its foreboding but still textural blacks. To look at Honor Found in Decay, then, Graham (who, judging by this and his cover for the forthcoming Soundgarden album, seems to have entered his “put stuff in a pile and take a picture of it” period; no complaints) brilliantly maintains the realistic aspects of Given to the Rising – a photograph, not a painting – while also feeding into a sense of ritual with candles and what looks like tribal-design covered armaments and keeping a connection to the land via the dirt and ash at the bottom. The lighting is natural, but there’s a human sensibility there too. You’re clearly in a room, looking at a wall behind, covered with pictures or who knows what, and there’s a workbench or some other shelving, covered in the chaos of a working life. It could very well be Graham’s studio space, I don’t know, but it gives that kind of impression, mirroring some of Honor Found in Decay’s more chaotic musical moments, like those of “All is Found… in Time”’s early stretches or the masterfully churning culmination of “Bleeding the Pigs.” So there is the earth, the bones, the ritual, the chaos, the humanity, and we can’t ignore the three spear or arrow points below the logo and title, so there’s violence as well, or at very least the aftermath thereof. It’s a scope no less encompassing than the songs themselves – all the more fitting for that – and the melding of browns and yellows with the black char underscores the central mood of the album, which is not as outwardly raging as was Given to the Rising, and still dark, but wizened, older seeming.

Interpretations will of course vary, but it’s important to keep in mind that Neurosis themselves are not that calculating or cerebral in their processes. Even if Graham was playing off the atmospheres in the songs in his creation of the cover art, there’s no doubt he had something completely different in mind than what I’ve stated above; the work’s success is in being evocative. In this as well the art stands in line with the audio density of Honor Found in Decay, the album’s atmosphere allowing the imagination to foster a host of visual landscapes and scenes – “Bleeding the Pig” being particularly vivid – while nonetheless crushing everything in its expansive sights with tonal and ambient weight and lyrics concerning time, kin, penance, nature and the passage from one to the next that the titular “decay” hints at. The progression between the songs is markedly fluid – Kelly discusses his feelings on structuring albums in the recent interview for his latest solo album – but because the personalities of the tracks are nonetheless distinct and representing individual ideas, it seems appropriate to engage them one at a time in a track-by-track analysis. I was back and forth on the idea, because I didn’t want to take away from how well Honor Found in Decay works taken as a whole – it should be taken as a whole, it’s not like Neurosis are writing 12 three-minute radio singles – but hopefully a better look at the pieces will lead to a more engaged understanding of the whole. We’ll begin with the opener, “We all Rage in Gold.”

1. We all Rage in Gold (6:36)

Shortly before the five-minute mark into late album cut “Water is Not Enough” from Given to the Rising, the song hit its peak in furious riffing topped with a kind of high-pitched swirl – presumably from Landis, but I wouldn’t count out the possibility of that being either Kelly or Von Till’s guitars, either – and that same kind of noise begins Honor Found in Decay. Here it is repurposed into a lonely, spiritual kind of digital smoke that winds its way up from silence to precede the opening guitar figure that becomes the basis tempo-wise for what follows. Edwardson joins with subtle rumble, and it’s all unassuming until at 54 seconds, “We all Rage in Gold” bursts to life, Roeder signaling the launch with a crash that brings the full version of the initial progression, surprisingly upbeat in its kick and higher-end while the bass underscores with runs that will stand out as some of the album’s best. The first vocal lines of the album are, “I walk into the water/To wash the blood from my feet,” and they resound the interplay between Kelly and Von Till that will ensue. The duo’s deliveries have grown so much in tandem with each other that it’s hard at times to pick out where the one or the other is singing when the themes are as consistent as they are on Honor Found in Decay – one always wants to credit Kelly with a harsher, angrier growl and Von Till with reverence to the land, but that’s no more a metric than anything – but they’re most effective and most serving the dynamic when they come together, as they do on the subsequent “At the Well” or the later “Casting of the Ages,” as well as elsewhere throughout. With “We all Rage in Gold,” it’s the encompassing whole that carries you with it, rather this or that element, though Kelly’s vocal readily displays the range of emotion he’s come to convey as a singer over time. Following an elongated verse, the song breaks at 2:41 to a quieter stretch – once again Edwardson’s bass shines from beneath the guitar – and when Roeder breaks on the drums, Landis chimes in to fill out the soundscape with foreboding keywork. A soft vocal line turns guttural at 4:05 and the instruments offer likewise explosion, rounding out the last two minutes-plus of the track with a slower push topped at first by throaty vocal lines, and then marches out instrumentally, strings arriving at 4:52 – I don’t want to assume it’s Jackie Perez Gratz on the cello, though she’s contributed to Neurosis before; if you told me Landis’ keys or a tape loop, I’d believe you; the noise is obscure but melodic – and rumbling to a close that feeds into the quiet opening of “At the Well.”

2. At the Well (10:05)

The core of “At the Well” is a linear build. It’s one of Honor Found in Decay’s most effective – going from near silence to raging cacophony in its 10-minute span – and made all the more so by various fluctuations between. A soft guitar strum and breathy Von Till vocal offer initial minimalism torn through at the one-minute mark by Roeder’s tribal drumming and distorted guitar and bass. They seem at first to plateau here, Von Till raging out a verse over Roeder’s precision thumping – presented, as ever, cleanly and naturally by Albini’s recording – and sustained, feedback guitars openly riffed, but even here there are changes taking place to signal movement in the overarching build. Flourishes of (what sounds like) slide guitar add to the tension being created, the stomach tightening for a release that comes 3:24, when Roeder adds cymbals to roughly the same rhythm, no less driving, and Kelly joins on in on vocals. The apex of “At the Well” is still a long way off, but that’s something of a preview, breaking to synth swirls, ambient guitar and backwards cymbal washes at 4:19, either sampled or real bagpipes bringing up a mournful feel that persists even as the instruments resume their lumbering trail, the slide guitar resuming, echoing behind the revived vocal line and fuller distortion. The line “Smoke from a gaping wound,” is a standout and should be telling in terms of the track’s overall impression at this point. They break again to quiet circa six minutes, Landis’ synth taking the fore once again, though a quiet guitar remains, and a likewise subdued spoken word recitation begins, culminating with the line, “Prophecy flows in whispers” before at seven minutes in, “At the Well” meets its payoff. It’s important to remember for the longer track that this is still relatively early into the context of the whole album, and though there’s no shortage of back and forth playing out, the line Neurosis draw is still very much moving forward. Nonetheless, it is with their own and so often imitated feeling of apocalyptic claustrophobia that they culminate “At the Well.” As has been the case thus far into Honor Found in Decay, there’s tension but no gradual swell. The song explodes. Its action is tornado violent. Eight repetitions of the lyric “In a shadow world” only make the churn more visceral before two guitar leads take hold, the first a wavering, plotted course and the second a buzzsaw that cuts through everything in its path – including Roeder’s increasingly manic tom runs – and threatens to derail the song entirely with the force of its plunder. Any other band and it might have, but the “In a shadow world” incantation resumes, this time for a course of 16 that acts as a foundation for additional vocals built on top of it, bringing in Edwardson to excellent effect alongside Von Till and Kelly, the first two blocks of four lines marking the changes and the last eight acting as the apex prior to the finishing crash and feedback hum at 9:41. Neurosis have arranged three-part vocals before – the prior instance that comes to mind most immediately is “Falling Unknown” from A Sun that Never Sets – but they employ it well here, and at the point “At the Well” crashes, it legitimately feels like there’s nowhere else the song could have gone. Like they pushed it to the very edge and then off the side of a cliff.

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Ufomammut Interview with Urlo and Video Premiere: Drinking in the Sulphurdew

Posted in Bootleg Theater, Features on August 28th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

I’m not sure how much there is left to say about the magnitude of the work Italian space doom trio Ufomammut has done. The sense I get now in listening to the two full-length albums that comprise the whole of Oro, their Neurot Recordings debut, is that they’ll probably have another record out before this one is fully comprehended. One might have said the same thing about 2010’s Eve as well, but that doesn’t make it any less true.

Broken into the two parts Oro – Opus Primum (review here) and Oro – Opus Alter (review here), Ufomammut‘s latest outing has them continuing to plunder the reaches of tonal space. Their sounds are far-out psychedelic even as they seem to bear a tectonic crunch, like plates moving continents. Bassist/vocalist/keyboardist Urlo, guitarist/keyboardist Poia and drummer Vita have persistent as a set trio since 1999, and have never failed to outdo their prior work on the subsequent outing.

The strata that’s put them into, however, is entirely their own. Eve– which was preceded by 2008’s Idolum, also one of that year’s best — was one long composition broken into individual pieces. Oro is one album broken into two releases. Do you see where this is going? In a few years, Ufomammut will be issuing 10LP box sets each time out. Maybe not, but what matters most of all is that as the scale of their work has expanded, so has their creative scope, and Oro is the most vibrant Ufomammut release to date. One would have to expect no less.

I waited to interview the band until Oro – Opus Alter was released so that the full project could be discussed, and today I have the sincere pleasure of hosting both that Q&A and a video premiere for Ufomammut‘s self-made clip for the track “Sulphurdew.” Similar to how opening track “Empireum” from Oro – Opus Primum made its way to the public, “Sulphurdew” arrives as a YouTube clip constructed by the Malleus Rock Art Lab, of which Urlo — who fielded these questions — and Poia are a part.

You’ll find both the “Sulphurdew” video and the complete Q&A after the jump. Please enjoy.

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Scott Kelly Interview: Mapping the Road Home

Posted in Features on August 17th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

Listening to Scott Kelly and the Road Home‘s The Forgiven Ghost in Me, it’s almost like Kelly — best known as the guitarist/vocalist of Neurosis — can’t escape the heavy. One doesn’t often think of folk-derived stripped-down singer-songwriterisms as being especially weighted, but even through lyrics about near-religious redemption and forgiveness, there’s a sense the spirit remains heavy. And more, the delivery remains heavy. Kelly, who is joined in The Road Home by guitarist/vocalist Greg Dale and Neurosis keyboardist Noah Landis and whose songcraft is at the core of the project, seems to just bleed the stuff.

Certainly the vast majority of his output over the last 25-plus years would bear that out, but more perhaps on The Forgiven Ghost in Me (review here) than ever before in Kelly‘s career, that sense of weight is given a counterbalance. Sure, tracks like “Within it Blood,” “We Let the Hell Come” and “The Field that Surrounds Me” — which features guests Josh Graham (A Storm of Light, also Neurosis‘ visuals) on guitar and Jason Roeder (Neurosis, Sleep) on drums — have darkened and foreboding atmospheres, but there’s an answer to them in “We Burn through the Night” and “A Spirit Redeemed to the Sun,” or even the title-track, “The Forgiven Ghost in Me.” One need only to look at the titles and find images of hell, blood, burning, the sun and fire, to get a sense of the penance that has been the price of even this partial redemption, but it’s there, anyway.

But more than this offsetting defeat and triumph, The Forgiven Ghost in Me is about the songs themselves. It is a gorgeous listen, reveling in its moodier moments but never quite letting go of its sullen melodicism. Flourishes of tape noise on the darker “Within it Blood” may seem on paper to work against, say, the deep breath that starts off the album before “A Spirit Redeemed to the Sun” begins, but in the actual listen, it’s fluid. Kelly is talking about the sharing of influences below when he posits that, “Music is a stream,” but you could just as easily apply that to the context of these songs and how he’s positioned them on the album.

In the interview that follows, Kelly discusses that positioning process, as well as his songwriting and what it was in these songs that seemed to warrant the input of Dale and Landis, as opposed to his 2008 outing, The Wake, which was directly a solo affair, and what separates Scott Kelly and the Road Home from his prior non-Neurosis collaboration with Landis in Blood and Time, and much more. Neurosis have a new album due for release in October called Honor Found in Decay (info here), but I wanted to focus this conversation more on The Forgiven Ghost in Me and the impact Kelly‘s solo work has had on a heavy underground that might not otherwise have so readily discovered the likes of Townes Van Zandt, to whom Kelly, Neurosis bandmate Steve Von Till and Shrinebuilder bandmate and acoustic tourmate Scott “Wino” Weinrich paid homage on the Songs of Townes Van Zandt three-way split (track stream here) just a few months back.

He was as brutally honest in conversation as he is in his songwriting, as regards his work, what goes into it from and through him, and the influence it’s had on others.

You’ll find the complete Q&A after the jump. Please enjoy.

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Ufomammut, Oro – Opus Alter: Casting the Weight of Gold, Pt. 2

Posted in Reviews on August 16th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

Earlier this year, Italian space doom trio Ufomammut favored the world with the first half of their Neurot Recordings debut. Oro – Opus Primum (review here) remains a stunning achievement in an increasingly long string of them. 2010’s Eve (review here) was one of that year’s best, and 2008’s Idolum, 2005’s Lucifer Songs and 2004’s Snailking were resounding triumphs as well. Even their first album, 2000’s Godlike Snake (reissued in 2006) impressed in its scope, as did their 2007 collaboration with Lento, and like the universe their sound threatens to encompass at nearly every turn, Ufomammut seem on a course of endless expansion. The second half of Oro, appropriately dubbed Opus Alter, completes the two-part cycle and underscores how right it was for the band to break up the release in the first place. Taken as a whole, the two albums total 10 tracks and 94 minutes of overwhelming tonality, far-off echoing vocals and crushing psychedelic grooves. Oro is an astounding achievement from one of the most pivotal doom acts going. Make no mistake, its every thunderous moment rattles the ground on which it stands, but metaphorically and – if you turn the volume up loud enough to really let bassist Urlo’s low end shine through – literally. But released with Opus Primum and Opus Alter together as the double-album Oro, it might also have simply been too much. Instead, Opus Alter, which is about nine minutes shorter, is a fitting complement to its predecessor, and one that both affirms the ongoing growth of the band as that album presented it and continues to hint at further progression to come. Ufomammut did it right – two remarkable halves of a larger tracklist released in installments so that not a moment seems wasted and their listeners can fully appreciate what they’re doing. No single member of the band, be it Urlo, guitarist Poia or drummer Vita, is really doing anything so different on Opus Alter than they were on Opus Primum – it’s just that now the album has a second half.

It’s a strong one. Urlo and Poia provide prominent keys and synth work even before the doomed sub-shuffle of the instrumental “Oroborus” (one day I’m going to make a list of all the metal songs about ouroboros and the various spellings they use; perhaps this one is a pun on the album’s title) takes full hold, but once it does, there’s no doubt who you’re listening to. The song gets heavy twice. At 2:11, guitars kick in and it seems like the build established is hitting its peak, but then 30 seconds later, the bottom drops out on the low end and Oro – Opus Alter has truly begun. Ufomammut affect a landmark heavy psych build, and for a few minutes it seems like the song is going to live up to its name, just devour itself until there’s nothing left but the various swirls and noises that have come to be such a huge part of Ufomammut’s encompassing ambience, but a little before five minutes into the song’s total 7:55, there’s a break and the bass leads to a faster riff and beyond, to devastatingly heavy plod that finds Vita half-timing it on the drums, his cymbals nonetheless ringing clear the band’s crushing intent. They are so. Fucking. Heavy. The chugging guitar crashes cold, but noise fills out the break between “Oroborus and the subsequent “Luxon,” which – like all the tracks on Opus Alter safe for closer “Deityrant” – also starts quietly, gradually unfolding from its ambience. Deep, slow guitar chords announce “Luxon”’s stomp, and vocals are murky, far off and, to start, indecipherable, but like a distant chorus, they make themselves known anyway before at 1:45, the full breadth of the rumble kicks in and everything else plays off of that. Vocals remain obscure, as is Ufomammut’s wont, but come to the fore over a blissfully stoner groove led by Urlo’s swaying bassline and rounded out by Poia’s own low end. Of the material here, the opening of “Luxon” is among the most effective, though, and its development of parts isn’t exactly linear as opposed to one-into-the-next, but its flow is unquestionable, and there isn’t a turn Ufomammut present that seems out of place or confusing. That holds true as well going into the 12:19 centerpiece, “Sulphurdew,” which gets underway with a churning guitar figure filled out by synth noise and a steady beat from Vita until they reach the next plateau of their build. There are marked changes – another layer of guitar here, crash cymbals introduced here – but they occur in a steady progression of measures, almost so that you expect something to come without knowing exactly what.

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New Neurosis Album Title Revealed

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 13th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

No better way to start the week than this:

NEUROSIS: Title Of Eleventh Full-Length From Musical Pioneers Revealed

It is said that great art has the power to take us outside of ourselves and bring us closer to ourselves simultaneously. Few bands have accomplished this rare feat on a more profound and consistent basis than NEUROSIS. For nearly three decades, their music has touched the hearts and minds of young men and women seeking contact with something beyond the physical world, something intangible, something that expresses the inner tumult of the human condition in a way that transcends time and space. Something that not only provokes questions but maybe even hints at answers.

Since 1985 this matchless force has surpassed the boundaries of any genre, never ceasing to mutate and progress their songwriting and sonic delivery, and never failing to mesmerize audiences both in the studio and onstage. And as the anticipation from their diehard fanbase reaches a boiling point, this week NEUROSIS unveil the title of their eleventh full-length studio creation, which will manifest itself as Honor Found In Decay.

The follow-up to their acclaimed 2007-released Given To The Rising album, the music on Honor Found In Decay is both torturous and transcendent. It is the ongoing exposition of a vast internal dialogue that seems to carry the weight of eons. With the right kind of ears and eyes, it can seem like the trials and tribulations of mankind are being channeled through five individuals: Steve Von Till, Scott Kelly, Noah Landis, Jason Roeder and Dave Edwardson. And yet? They will be the first ones to tell you that they are just regular people trying to make sense of the world around them. Aided by Josh Graham, their resident visual guru, they transmit their interpretations through multiple sensory planes. The degree to which Neurosis allows them to step out of their everyday lives is the distance between one and zero, the distance between thinking and doing, the distance between this minute and the one that may or may not follow. Which is to say: NEUROSIS takes them outside of themselves and brings them closer to themselves. Simultaneously.

This next chapter in the evolution of NEUROSIS will see worldwide release through the band’s own Neurot Recordings this Autumn, in Germany October 26th, in the UK October 29th, and in North America on October 30th.

Further details on Honor Found In Decay will be made available over the coming weeks.

NEUROSIS:
Scott Kelly – vocals/guitars
Steve Von Till – vocals/guitars
Dave Edwardson – bass
Jason Roeder – drums
Noah Landis – keyboards
Josh Graham – visual effects, art

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Fourth Neurosis “Electrical Transmission” New Album Teaser Emerges

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 9th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

Neurosis continue their process of mysteriously teasing their upcoming, yet-untitled new album. You know what would be awesome? If they just put out the record, like, next week. If they pressed the whole thing in secret, got it out to stores on the sly, no advance notice, no track premieres, no advance press. Nothing. Just an album that came out and no one even knew the name of it or any of the songs until it dropped. Not bloody likely. Either way, these clips continue to pique the already-there interest in the first Neurosis release in half a decade.

Behold “Electrical Transmission IV”:

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Wino Wednesday: Shrinebuilder, “We Let the Hell Come” from Live in Europe 2010 Vinyl

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 8th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

Special thanks to Dutch heavy devotee Koen for sending along the below clip for this week’s Wino Wednesday inclusion. The video isn’t exactly loaded with pyrotechnics, but it is a straight line feed of the Shrinebuilder vinyl — not recorded from speakers, in other words — of Live in Europe 2010, and for the killer audio, I’m more than happy to take it. That spinning clear LP is pretty hypnotic, either way.

The song is technically more of a Scott Kelly jam — enough so that a version of the song wound up on his new Scott Kelly and the Road Home release, The Forgiven Ghost in Me (review here) — but anyone who’s heard that version and not this, perhaps because they (just a hypothetical) stubbornly refuse to start buying vinyl habitually, will be surprised at the disparity. Kelly‘s quiet croak starts out roughly the same in both versions, but as sent through ShrinebuilderKelly and Wino on guitar, Al Cisnernos on bass and Dale Crover on drums — it’s positively apocalyptic by the end, and a far cry from the mostly acoustic rendition.

Not a complaint. Either way you cut it, the song still has a weathered heaviness to it that’s engrossing, and with Shrinebuilder‘s mounting swirl towards the apex, it’s easy to get caught up in it. Since it made it onto Kelly‘s solo album, who knows whether “We Let the Hell Come” will show up on the next Shrinebuilder outing, or even when that will arrive, given everyone involved’s busy schedules. Nonetheless, on this Wino Wednesday, I hope you enjoy:

Check out Koen‘s YouTube channel here and prepare to kiss your afternoon goodbye.

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Third Teaser Clip Posted for New Neurosis Album

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 6th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

Apparently diligent YouTuber NeurotRecordings has posted a third promo clip for the still untitled new Neurosis album. If you missed it, two prior clips came out last week and were posted here on Friday. Presumably they’re titled “Electrical Transmission” because “vague new album teaser video” was both cumbersome and crass. Neurosis keep it classy.

Anyone else but me also notice how these clips seem to be getting progressively clearer as they go on? You can see people playing instruments in this one. Maybe eventually one will come that’s just completely lucid and it’ll be like we all woke up from a dream and there was brand new Neurosis — which, I can only assume, is how I’ll probably feel when I finally get to hear the album in its finished form.

Dig it and let our anticipations seethe together in nerdly excitement:

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Ufomammut Unveil Album Art, Teaser and Tracklisting for Oro – Opus Alter

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 6th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

One of the most anticipated records still to come before the end of 2012, the second installment of Ufomammut’s Oro – Opus Alter is beginning to take shape. Check out the cover art for the album and PR wire info below:

Ufomammut unleash second teaser, reveal artwork, tracklisting and announce more tour dates in support of ORO: Opus Alter

Having previously announcing the arrival of the second installment of ORO – Opus Alter, which is to be released on 17 September on Neurot Recordings, we can now proudly unveil the delectable cover art for this next chapter brought to you once again by the unstoppable force that is the Malleus art collective…

We can also reveal the full tracklisting for this release which is as follows:

1. Oroborus
2. Luxon
3. Sulphurdew
4. Sublime
5. Deityrant

As with all previous Ufomammut albums, the concepts behind ORO are expansive and multi-faceted, mutating the Italian palindrome which translates to “gold” with the Latin translation of “I prey.” ORO explores the concept of knowledge and its power; the magical stream controlled by the human mind to gain control of every single particle of the world surrounding us. ORO is the alchemical process to transform the human fears into pure essence; into Gold. Although ORO‘s two chapters will be released months apart from each other, they must be considered as a single track in which the musical themes and the sounds appear and reappear, mutate and evolve, progressively culminating in the crushing final movement. ORO is an alchemic laboratory in which substances are flowing, dividing and blending themselves in ten increments from the alembics and stills, culminating into the creation of Gold.

Opus Alter is going to fulfill and widen the perspective of the new work of Ufomammut. Starting where Opus Primum ended, Opus Alter evolves deeper into devastatingly powerful new territory, where chaos is metamorphosed by cacophonous sound, until the final notes resonate, knowledge is forged and Ufomammut strike gold.

Stay tuned for more details regarding the release and tour are announced. Meanwhile check out the following confirmed dates so far:

AUGUST
13. ITA . Musica W Festival – Castellina Marittima (PI)SEPTEMBER
01. ITA . Rock in Riot Festival – Martinengo (BG)OCTOBER
04. D – Leipzig, UT Connewitz
05. D – Berlin, Bi Nuu – TBC
06.  SWE – Malmo – Krank
09. FI – Turku , Klubi
10. FI – Tampere, Klubi
11. FI – Helsinki, Kuudes Linja
13. NOR – Oslo, Betong
15. D – Kiel, Alte Meierei
16. D – Koln, Underground – TBC
17. NL – Tilburg, 013
18. B – Kortrijk, De Kreun
19. NL – Utrecht, Ekko
21. UK – Birmingham, Supersonic Festival
23. F – Paris, Glazart – TBC
24. F – Poitiers, Le Comforte Moderne
25. F – Bordeaux, Heretic club – TBC
27. P – Porto -Amplifest  (Hard Club)
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Frydee Neurosis

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 3rd, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster


I wasn’t sure about these two clips above. Earlier this week, I saw the first one embedded somewhere and it being listed as new Neurosis I just thought seemed a little too vague to be true. No song title, no release date announced, nothing really to solidify it. Today a second clip came out, and as the YouTube user putting it up is NeurotRecordings, I guess I thought it was interesting enough either way. Seems a long way to go for a hoax, and in any case, the guitar in the second clip sounds pretty badass.

Before I say anything else, this:

There will be a new podcast this weekend.

It’s been a while, I know. With all the track/album streams I’ve been doing, and the playlist that Jon Davis from Conan curated, I guess I didn’t want to take away from that — also having no time was probably part of it — but things have settled down a little bit, and while I don’t know about next weekend, at least this one I’ll have time to put something together. Should be pretty good.

Tomorrow I’m also going to look at a small house to rent. Unlike the last one I don’t think this one’s in a flood zone, but you never quite know until you get there and you see the cheaply redone kitchen and the freshly painted walls. Also the river’s usually a solid tell, but sometimes it’s just water out of nowhere. Like it falls from the sky or something.

We’ll see how that goes, and I’ll get that podcast brewing, so I guess I’m not really signing off for the weekend, but just letting you know what was up. This week I had two five-post days, and that’s the first time I can remember that happening in a while. There wasn’t an interview posted, but I’ve been working news back onto the blog side as well as keeping it still on the forum, and I like that. The secret is I’m being less anal about things like formatting tour dates and bolding album titles and stuff like that. You’d be amazed how much time it can take to take band names out of all-caps and change the days to some arbitrary format I decided on the second week after I put the site up that nobody but me cares about. Sometimes it takes me a while to figure these things out. Three and a half years is a while.

Next week, aside from the aforementioned podcast, I’ll have reviews of Telestrion, Corsair and Om. I was thinking maybe I’d do another reviewsplosion, but we’ll see if I have time. Tuesday I’m slated to interview Scott Kelly and I hope before the week is out to get on the horn with Samothrace as well. Monday, with the acknowledgement that the album’s been out in Europe forever already, I’ll be hosting a stream of the opening track from the new Swallow the Sun album, just to feature it, and there may be a few more surprises to come. Should be good times.

As always, I hope you have a great and safe weekend. I’ll be checking back in probably Sunday with that podcast post, and I’ll be on spambot patrol on the forum as well. Hope to see you there and back here shortly.

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Scott Kelly and the Road Home, The Forgiven Ghost in Me: Burning through the Night

Posted in Reviews on July 26th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

The idea of putting The Forgiven Ghost in Me, the new mostly-solo outing from Scott Kelly, in any kind of proper context is ludicrous. It’s like trying to cover a mountain with a tarp. For the better part of 30 years, Kelly has stood alongside fellow guitarist/vocalist Steve Von Till at the fore of Neurosis’ explorations and so has become one of the most influential figures of his generation in underground heavy. In 2001, Kelly released his first solo album, Spirit Bound Flesh, on which he began to incorporate the elements of country and dark Americana and also to refine his gravely, exhausted vocal approach that, while still closely related to his contributions to Neurosis, was on songs like “The Passage” more melodic and given an entirely new perspective. Joining forces with Neurosis keyboardist Noah Landis and others in Blood and Time, Kelly helmed the songwriting for 2004’s At the Foot of the Garden (Blood and Time would also release a Latitudes session in 2007 with a lineup that included Kelly, Landis and A Storm of Light’s Josh Graham and Vinnie Signorelli), and the track “Remember Me” from that album also showed up on his next solo outing, 2008’s The Wake. In the time since Spirit Bound Flesh, in addition to the Blood and Time outings, Kelly had released four albums with Neurosis – 2001’s A Sun that Never Sets arrived almost concurrently, 2003’s collaboration with Jarboe, 2004’s The Eye of Every Storm and 2007’s Given to the Rising – as well as begun the preliminaries for what would result in the 2009 self-titled debut from the supergroup Shrinebuilder, in which Kelly is joined by luminaries Al Cisneros (Sleep), Scott “Wino” Weinrich (Saint Vitus, The Obsessed, etc.), and Dale Crover (the Melvins). It wasn’t necessarily much of a surprise that The Wake found Kelly more developed and clearer-headed about what he wanted his solo aesthetic to be – he’d certainly had time to think about it doing everything else.

But still, The Wake was surprisingly cohesive. One can get a sense of where Kelly was headed with it listening in hindsight to Blood and Time’s Latitudes session, on which both Townes van Zandt and Roky Erickson were covered, but still, for many, it was blindsiding, and in no small part I mark it as a beginning touchstone of a new wave of “acoustic heavy” that in the last several months alone has found the likes of Mike Scheidt of YOB and Nate Hall of U.S. Christmas releasing similarly-minded solo outings, a clear thread between them being an influence from Kelly’s work on The Wake. In  2011, Kelly toured with Wino (then supporting his acoustic solo debut) and released a split single and earlier 2012 brought the Songs of Townes van Zandt three-way tribute between Kelly, Wino and Von Till, so as The Forgiven Ghost in Me arrives via Neurot with Kelly performing once again alongside NeurosisLandis, as well as Greg Dale under the moniker Scott Kelly and the Road Home, the album has no small task ahead of it in drawing together the Americana and drearily ambient styles in Kelly’s past work. This is unquestionably the album’s greatest success, and that the eight songs/41 minutes are executed with no sacrifice of emotional pull or songwriting acumen only makes the record more impressive. As in Blood and Time, Kelly has once again a fitting partner in Landis (who also recorded The Forgiven Ghost in Me) and throughout these songs, Scott Kelly and the Road Home manage to vary atmospherics while never losing a cohesive mood. The vocals play a large role in establishing the overall scope (Josh Graham does a guest spot late into the record on “The Field that Surrounds Me,” as does Neurosis/Sleep drummer Jason Roeder), but if the opening duo of “A Spirit Redeemed to the Sun” and “The Forgiven Ghost in Me” – the construction of their titles being not the only similarity between them – establish anything, it’s that it’s the songs themselves that are the focus of the album, and nothing else.

Even before it kicks in, one can already hear the organ behind Kelly’s guitar on the open-your-hymnal-and-turn-to-page-three opener “A Spirit Redeemed to the Sun,” on which lyrics like, “I’ve washed the blood from my hands/I’ve forgiven myself in my soul/And I stand before you as nothing and no one/But my hands draw the moths to the flame,” are delivered not with hopped up religious zealotry, but subdued resignation – a sort of restless peace. It’s a folk hymn in the end, with another layer of guitar added, but still a relatively sparse arrangement in terms of what’s actually included – organ, guitar, voice – for how full it sounds. That efficiency is at play across the bulk of The Forgiven Ghost in Me, and when it’s veered from, as on the necessarily busier “The Field that Surrounds Me,” it’s clearly done so on purpose. Most of the songs, though, feature some accompaniment for Kelly at least later in the track, as with the added guitar on “A Spirit Redeemed to the Sun,” and presumably those are the contributions of Dale, though I don’t know that to say for sure. In that regard, however, the title cut, which begins humbly with an intake of breath, joins “The Field that Surrounds Me” as one of the busier inclusions, with early-arriving electric guitar behind the central acoustic figure and – preceded by audible creaks of a chair – a multi-vocal chorus underscored by organ. But for the drums to come later, it’s about as “lively” as The Forgiven Ghost in Me gets, and listening to the rhythm of the acoustic line after that chorus, it’s almost “Stones From the Sky” repurposed. Excellently repurposed, at that, and if Kelly had that in mind when he wrote “The Forgiven Ghost in Me,” he certainly wouldn’t be the first to borrow from that pivotal Neurosis moment. Insistent as that musical hook is by its very nature, here it is patient and in service to a far less bombastic atmosphere – the chorus is more the highlight. “In the Waking Hours” begins with louder guitars and what sounds like tape hum in the background, playing up the organic atmospherics before the electrics come in once again, farther back and played with a slide. The progression isn’t a build, as such, but a definite apex comes later into its 4:28, the last minute or so devoted to a memorable guitar strum.

Read more »

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13 Before ’13 — Albums Not to Miss Before the End of 2012

Posted in Where to Start on July 26th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

We’re more than halfway through 2012, and we’ve already seen great releases from the likes of Orange Goblin, Pallbearer, Conan, C.O.C., Saint Vitus and many others, but there’s still a long way to go. The forecast for the next five months? Busy.

In my eternal and inevitably doomed quest to keep up, I’ve compiled a list of 13 still-to-come releases not to miss before the year ends. Some of this information is confirmed — as confirmed as these things ever are, anyway — either by label or band announcements, and some of it is a little bit vaguer in terms of the actual dates, but all this stuff is slated to be out before 2013 hits. That was basically my only criteria for inclusion.

And of course before I start the list, you should know two things: The ordering is dubious, since it’s not like I can judge the quality of an album before I’ve heard it, just my anticipation, and that this is barely the beginning of everything that will be released before the end of 2012. The tip of the fastly-melting iceberg, as it were. If past is prologue, there’s a ton of shit I don’t even know about that (hopefully) you’ll clue me into in the comments.

Nonetheless, let’s have some fun:

1. Colour Haze, She Said (Sept./Oct.)


I know, I know, this one’s been a really, really long time coming. Like two years. Like so long that Colour Haze had to go back and remake the album because of some terrible technical thing that I don’t even know what happened but it doesn’t matter anymore. Notice came down yesterday from guitarist/vocalist Stefan Koglek that the recording is done and the long-awaited She Said is on the way to be pressed on vinyl and CD. Got my fingers crossed for no more snags.

2. EnslavedRIITIIR (Sept. 28)

The progressive Norwegian black metallers have put out 10 albums before it, and would you believe RIITIIR is the first Enslaved album that’s a palindrome? Kind of cheating to include it on this list, because I’ve heard it, but I’ve been through the record 10-plus times and I still feel like I just barely have a grasp on where they’re headed with it, so I think it’ll be really interesting to see what kind of response it gets upon release. Herbrand Larsen kills it all over these songs though, I will say that.

3. Mos Generator, Nomads (Oct. 23)

Hard for me not to be stoked on the prospect of the first new Mos Generator album since 2007, especially looking at that cover, which Ripple Music unveiled on Tuesday when it announced the Oct. 23 release date. It’s pretty grim looking, and even though Mos once put out a record called The Late Great Planet Earth, I’ve never thought of them as being particularly dark or doomed. I look forward to hearing what Tony Reed (Stone AxeHeavyPink) has up his sleeve for this collection, and if he’s looking to slow down and doom out a bit here, that’s cool too. I’ll take it either way.

4. Ufomammut, Oro – Opus Alter (Sept.)

No, that’s not the cover of Oro – Opus Alter, the second half of Italian space doom grand masters Ufomammut‘s Oro collection — the first being Opus Primum (review here), which served as their Neurot Recordings debut earlier this year. That cover hasn’t been released yet, so I grabbed a promo pic to stand in. I’m really looking forward to this album, though I hope they don’t go the Earth, Angels of Darkness Demons of Light route and wind up with two records that, while really good, essentially serve the same purpose. I’ve got my hopes high they can outdo themselves once again.

5. WitchcraftLegend (Sept. 21)

I guess after their success with Graveyard, Nuclear Blast decided to binge a bit on ’70s loyalist doom, signing Witchcraft and even more recently, Orchid. Can’t fault them that. It’s been half a decade since Witchcraft released The Alchemist and in their absence, doom has caught on in a big way to their methods. With a new lineup around him, will Magnus Pelander continue his divergence into classic progressive rock, or return to the Pentagram-style roots of Witchcraft‘s earliest work? Should be exciting to find out.

6. Wo FatThe Black Code (Nov.)

After having the chance to hear some rough mixes of Texas fuzzers Wo Fat‘s Small Stone debut, The Black Code, I’m all the more stoked to encounter the finished product, and glad to see the band join the ranks of Lo-Pan, Freedom Hawk and Gozu in heralding the next wave of American fuzz. Wo Fat‘s 2011 third outing, Noche del Chupacabra (review here), greatly expanded the jammed feel in their approach, and I get the sense they’re just beginning to find where they want to end up within that balance.

7. Blood of the SunBurning on the Wings of Desire (Late 2012)

As if the glittering logo and booby-lady cover art weren’t enough to grab attention, Blood of the Sun‘s first album for Listenable Records (fourth overall) is sure to garner some extra notice because the band is led by drummer/vocalist Henry Vasquez, better known over the past couple years as the basher for Saint Vitus. Whatever pedigree the band has assumed through that, though, their modern take on classic ’70s heavy has a charm all its own and I can’t wait to hear how Burning on the Wings of Desire pushes that forward. Or backward. Whatever. Rock and roll.

8. SwansThe Seer (Aug. 28)

This one came in the mail last week and I’ve had the chance to make my way through it only once. It’s two discs — and not by a little — and as was the case with Swans‘ 2010 comebacker, My Father Will Guide Me up a Rope to the Sky (review here), the far less cumbersomely titled The Seer is loaded with guest contributions. Even Jarboe shows up this time around, doing that breathy panting thing she does. Unnerving and challenging as ever, Swans continue to be a litmus for how far experimentalism can go. 3o years on, that’s pretty impressive in itself.

9. Swallow the Sun, Emerald Forest and the Blackbird (Sept. 4)

Apparently the Finnish melo-doom collective’s fifth album, Emerald Forest and the Blackbird, came out earlier this year in Europe, but it’s finally getting an American release in September, and as I’ve always dug the band’s blend of death metal and mournful melodicism, I thought I’d include it here. Like Swans, I’ve heard the Swallow the Sun once through, and it seems to play up more of the quiet, weepy side of their sound, but I look forward to getting to know it better over the coming months.

10. My Sleeping Karma, Soma (Oct. 9)

Just signed to Napalm Records and tapped to open for labelmates Monster Magnet as they tour Europe performing Spine of God in its entirety this fall, the German four-piece are set to follow-up 2010’s Tri (review here) with Soma. Details were sketchy, of course, until about five minutes after this post initially went up, then the worldwide release dates, cover art and tracklist were revealed, so I updated. Find all that info on the forum.

11.Eagle Twin, The Feather Tipped the Serpent’s Scale (Aug. 28)

Way back in 2009 when I interviewed Eagle Twin guitarist/vocalist Gentry Densley about the band’s Southern Lord debut, he said the band’s next outing would relate to snakes, and if the cover is anything to go by, that seems to have come to fruition on The Feather Tipped the Serpent’s Scale, which is set to release at the end of next month. As the first album was kind of a mash of influences turned into cohesive and contemplative heavy drone, I can’t help but wonder what’s in store this time around.

12. Hooded MenaceEffigies of Evil (Sept. 11)

You know how sometimes you listen to a band and that band turns you on in their liner notes to a ton of other cool bands? I had that experience with Finnish extreme doomers Hooded Menace‘s 2010 second album, Never Cross the Dead (review here), except instead of bands it was hotties of ’70s horror cinema. Needless to say, I anxiously await the arrival of their third record and Relapse debut, Effigies of Evil. Someone needs to start a label and call it Hammer Productions just to sign this band.

13. Yawning Man, New Album (Soon)

Make no mistake. The prospect of a new Yawning Man album would arrive much higher on this list if I was more convinced it was going to come together in time for a 2012 release. As it is, Scrit on the forum has had a steady stream of updates since May about the record — the latest news being that it’s going to be a double album — and Scrit‘s in the know, so I’ll take his word. One thing we do know for sure is that the band in the picture above is not the current Yawning Man lineup. Alfredo Hernandez and Mario Lalli out, Greg Saenz and Billy Cordell in. Bummer about the tumult, but as long as it’s Gary Arce‘s ethereal guitar noodling, I’m hooked one way or another.

Since we closed with rampant speculation, let me not forget that somewhere out there is the looming specter of a new Neurosis album, which the sooner it gets here, the better. Perhaps also a new Clutch full-length, though I doubt that’ll materialize before 2013. And that’s a different list entirely.

Thanks for reading. Anything I forgot or anything you’d like to add to the list, leave a comment.

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EXCLUSIVE Video and Audio Premiere: Ufomammut’s “Empireum” from Oro – Opus Primum

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 21st, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

Today I have the distinct pleasure and honor to unveil the first full-song audio and accompanying video from Italian space-doom masters Ufomammut‘s Neurot Recordings debut, Oro – Opus Primum. The track, dubbed “Empireum,” is the opener and longest cut of the album and sets the stage for the first of the two massive chapters in the Oro saga with just under 14 minutes of unbridled tension and impossible-seeming build.

As the title suggests, Opus Primum is the first part of the overall work, and likewise, “Empireum” is the first part of the first part, so you have to understand, what you’re hearing over the course of these 14 minutes is the beginning of the beginning. The song has a cycle of its own, and stands on its own as does the whole album, but Ufomammut‘s ambitions — which have developed as much as their sound has progressed over the course of the band’s six prior full-lengths, including 2010’s single-song 44-minute onslaught, Eve (review here) — are bigger with Oro than any single part, or even the whole of Opus Primum can convey.

So as you listen, and as the all-consuming tonal morass of “Empireum” begins to wrap itself around you, please know that it’s just the opening movement of what Ufomammut have in store on Oro – Opus Primum, and that even that is only half the incredible tale they’re telling — the second part of which will be revealed later this year with Oro – Opus Alter.

With this in mind, I humbly submit “Empireum” and the unsettling visuals crafted specifically for it:

Special thanks to the band, to Earsplit PR and to Neurot Recordings for allowing me to host this first premiere. It means more to me than I can say and I consider it a validation of the work I put in on this site. Really. Thank you.

Ufomammut is comprised of guitarist Poia, bassist/vocalist Urlo (also synth) and drummer Vita. Oro – Opus Primum is set for release April 13 on Neurot Recordings, with Oro – Opus Alter to follow later in 2012. For more from Ufomammut, check out their website, find them on Thee Facebooks, or hit up the label’s site here.

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audiObelisk: Nate Hall Premieres “Kathleen” from A Great River Solo Debut

Posted in audiObelisk on March 13th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

Whatever else North Carolinian pastoral psych specialists U.S. Christmas might have going on in their sound at any given time (there’s quite a bit when they want there to be), one thing they’ve always excelled at is infusing Americana elements into their work, taking the environment around them and distilling it to audio. Last year’s The Valley Path did that clearer and more evocatively than they’d ever done it before, and was precise and coherent in its mission.

As such, when A Great River — the Neurot Recordings solo debut from U.S. Christmas guitarist/vocalist Nate Hall — came my way, the first thing I listened for was that unmistakable tinge of mountaintop sepia. It’s not a country twang, but definitively of its place musically and even more specifically Southern in its melancholy. A Great River has that feel in common with Hall‘s band, and joins the ranks of highlight Neurot solo outings from Scott Kelly and Steve Von Till (both Neurosis) in its appreciation of classic folk, from Bob Dylan, whose influence shows up prevalently throughout, to a more stripped-down look at the brilliance of arrangement that has found a home in Wovenhand‘s David Eugene Edwards.

Foremost, the album is honest. Recorded in a single night last March, its “first album” feel is undercut by psychedelic flourish and the emotional depths Hall brings to the surface, and while there are still avenues of progression to be explored, a song like the Townes Van Zandt cover “Kathleen” — which I’m fortunate enough to be able to premiere on the player below — remains the beautiful and lush work of a singer-songwriter beginning what will hopefully be a long journey.

Please enjoy:

Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!

Nate Hall‘s A Great River is due out on Neurot in May. For more on the album (including Scott Kelly‘s take), check out Neurot‘s artist page here, or look up Hall on Thee Facebooks here. Special thanks to Earsplit PR, Neurot and Hall for their generous permission in letting me host this track.

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