Om Touring in February / March with Wovenhand

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 14th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

om

I cannot stress enough how much you should own Om‘s BBC Radio 1 (review here). Yes, it’s a double 10-inch vinyl, and I’m perfectly willing to admit that that’s kind of a silly thing when it would’ve fit on a single 12-inch platter, but face it, you’re going to listen to the download anyway, so quitcherbitchin and get on board. I’m only trying to make your life better by telling you this.

Do I think it’s a coincidence that Om have announced tour dates the same week that bassist/vocalist Al Cisneros‘ other band — they’re called Sleep, you know — have announced a hiatus? I don’t know. Probably? They’ll have Wovenhand out with them though, as they did on a tour leading to Monolith on the Mesa earlier this year, so if you want to think of this as a fuller leg of that run, go for it. Om have toured pretty steadily over the time that Cisneros has been/was involved in Sleep again, so it’s not like it’s some sudden resurgence or anything.

Of course, the big question is when/if/whether there will be a new album out next year, and if this tour might preface or accompany or otherwise somehow relate to that possibility. I have no insight on the matter other than to say, “golly, that sure would be nice,” so yeah, no insight at all basically. Shrug.

Go see Om. And buy that goddamn live record.

Dates:

om tour poster

OM Live:
12/14/19 Pioneer Works Brooklyn NY
2/21/20 Mohawk Austin TX w/ Wovenhand
2/22/20 Gas Monkey Bar & Grill Dallas TX w/ Wovenhand
2/24/20 George’s Majestic Lounge Fayetteville AR w/ Wovenhand
2/25/20 Growlers Memphis TN w/ Wovenhand
2/26/20 Saturn Birmingham AL w/ Wovenhand
2/27/20 Terminal West Atlanta GA w/ Wovenhand
2/28/20 Grey Eagle Asheville NC w/ Wovenhand
2/29/20 Motorco Chapel Hill NC w/ Wovenhand
3/2/20 Black Cat Washington DC w/ Wovenhand
3/3/20 Underground Arts Philadelphia PA w/ Wovenhand
3/5/20 The Sinclair Cambridge MA w/ Wovenhand
3/6/20 Columbus Theatre Providence RI w/ Wovenhand
3/8/20 Spirit Hall w/ Wovenhand
3/9/20 Grog Shop Cleveland Heights OH w/ Wovenhand
3/11/20 Headliners Music Hall Louisville KY w/ Wovenhand
3/12/20 The Pyramid Scheme Grand Rapids MI w/ Wovenhand
3/13/20 Garfield Park Conservatory Chicago IL w/ Wovenhand
3/16/20 Fine Line Minneapolis MN w/ Wovenhand
3/17/20 Wooly’s Des Moines IA w/ Wovenhand
3/18/20 Slowdown Omaha NE w/ Wovenhand
3/19/20 The Bottleneck Lawrence ks w/ Wovenhand
3/20/20 89th Street Oklahoma City OK w/ Wovenhand
3/21/20 Sister Albuquerque NM w/ Wovenhand

OM lineup:
Al Cisneros
Emil Amos
Tyler Trotter

https://www.facebook.com/om.band
https://omband.bandcamp.com/
http://www.omvibratory.com/
https://www.dragcity.com/

Om, Live in Copenhagen, Denmark, July 31, 2019

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Monolith on the Mesa: Yawning Man, Fatso Jetson, Wo Fat, Earthride, Magic Castles & Great Electric Quest Added

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 30th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Monolith on the Mesa, which kind of came out of the gate in full-fledged upstart fashion this year and put Taos, New Mexico, on the map as a destination for heavyheads from all over, continues to announce acts for its follow-up edition in 2020. The fest is set for May 28-30 at Taos Mesa Brewing, same spot it was held this Spring, and is $99 for the weekend, which doesn’t sound cheap, but uh, is, considering what you get. Not exactly slumming it as regards the whole experience of the thing. To wit, the photo below looks like something I would most definitely shell out a hundred bucks to stand in front of for three days and have my ass handed to me by awesome bands. If you disagree, I suggest you take the next few months to reassess your priorities.

But speaking of awesome bands, a bunch more have just joined the lineup, including Maryland’s favorite sons Earthride. They’ll make the trip west and give a bit of East Coast representation out in the desert that I can only imagine will go over like groove-rolling gangbusters. That alone would be worth the $99 in my book, let alone the likes of Yawning Man (always great) and Fatso Jetson (always great) and Wo Fat (always great), who, for those of you who don’t read parentheticals (why not?) are always great, as well as Magic Castles and Great Electric Quest, whom I’ve not yet seen, but whose sounds are most certainly readily diggable.

Cool fest, man. These guys got something going out there in the desert.

From the PR wire:

monolith on the mesa 2019 (Photo by Mike Goodwin)

Monolith On The Mesa prepares for second year bands include Yawning Man, Fatso Jetson, Earthride, Sons of Otis, Ruby the Hatchet, Mondo Generator, Year of the Cobra and more

MONOLITH ON THE MESA OFFERS A “HIGH” DESERT EXPERIENCE THAT DRAWS ROCK FANS FROM ACROSS THE NATION

THE MUSIC FESTIVAL PREPARES FOR ITS SECOND YEAR AND ANNOUNCES SIX MORE BANDS IN THE LINE-UP: Yawning Man, Fatso Jetson, Earthride, Wo Fat, Magic Castles, Great Electric Quest

300 early bird tickets on sale now through Black Friday

May 28-30, 2020 at Taos Mesa Brewing

Monolith on the Mesa, a “High” Desert Experience, is an independent three-day festival entering its second year in 2020. The festival takes place at the Taos Mesa Brewing Mothership, and on the grounds of Hotel Luna Mystica, just outside of Taos, New Mexico. The festival is focused on heavy riff-rock acts from across multiple sub-genres including stoner rock, heavy psych, doom metal, sludge, drone, and retro rock. The festival includes interactive art installations and visual projections throughout the grounds to compliment the mind bending sounds of the bands. Festival capacity is limited to 1,500 to provide an intimate experience. Bands perform on the club-style indoor stage, and the scenic “earthship” outdoor amphitheater stage.

A total of 35 bands will play over three days from May 28-30, 2020. Festival promoters Dano Sanchez and Roman Barham are excited to reveal the names of five more bands today including Yawning Man; Fatso Jetson; Earthride; Wo Fat; Magic Castles; Great Electric Quest. The thirteen bands already made public online include: Sons of Otis; Ruby the Hatchet; Mondo Generator; Duel; Mark Deutrom; Year of the Cobra; Mountain of Smoke; Destroyer of Light; Love Gang; Black Maria; Prism Bitch and Sun Dog. Tickets cost $150 for three-day passes. A limited release of 300 early bird tickets for $99.99 are on sale now through Black Friday (midnight on November 29, 2019).

Dano Sanchez says “We are inspired to continue on our path with Monolith II. We want fans to come to Taos and let go of technology and constraints of urban living for three days. Let your soul breathe! What we offer is unique but still linked musically to festivals like Psycho Las Vegas, Levitation and Stoned and Dusted. We think festival goers will appreciate what we are doing here.”

Monolith on the Mesa is produced as a “destination” festival offering attendees music as well as the unique and mystical Taos experience which includes crisp, clean air on the high desert mesa, surrounded by unobstructed views of the Sangre de Christo Mountains. The festival is located adjacent to the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument. This enables festival goers to enjoy activities such as hiking, river rafting, bike trails, natural and resort hot springs — all making for an immersive experience unlike any other music festival.

DATES AND TIMES:
Box office opens at 9 a.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
May 28th doors at 4 pm til 1:30 am
May 29th doors at 12 noon; outside stage til midnight; indoor stage til 1:30 am
May 30th doors at 12 noon; outdoor stage til midnight; indoor stage til 1:30 am

VENUE INFORMATION:
Taos Mesa Brewing: The Mothership
20 ABC Mesa Rd.
El Prado, New Mexico 89529
https://www.taosmesabrewing.com/

TICKET INFORMATION:
Rain or shine event! No refunds!
https://tickets.holdmyticket.com/tickets/344140

https://www.monolithonthemesa.com
https://www.facebook.com/monolithonthemesa
https://www.instagram.com/monolithonthemesa

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Om, BBC Radio 1: Sing the Advaitic

Posted in Reviews on October 23rd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Om BBC Radio 1

Some seven years ago, in 2012, Om issued their fifth full-length, Advaitic Songs (review here), through Drag City and thereby secured a place high among the decade’s best releases. Though founding bassist/vocalist Al Cisneros has split time in the years since between Om and the ongoing reunion of landmark stoner metallers Sleep, the album has continued to hold its audience, and its influence continues to spread to other acts on multiple continents. It was the kind of offering upon which legacies are made, and the new live recording BBC Radio 1 (also Drag City) is a reminder of that, even if only half its inclusions are actually from Advaitic Songs itself. Those songs, “Gethsemane” and “State of Non-Return,” are enough to get the point across on the limited gatefold double-10″ vinyl outing, and paired with “Cremation Ghat I” and “Cremation Ghat II” from 2009’s God is Good (review here) it is stirring and hypnotic in kind, the kind of release that makes you wish it was longer than its all-too-brief 29-minute run.

Om‘s lineup has shifted since Advaitic Songs. While that record marked the introduction of LichensRobert Aiki Aubrey Lowe (who had also appeared on God is Good) as a full member handling keys, percussion, vocals, etc., earlier in 2019, Cisneros and longtime drummer Emil Amos (also Grails, Holy Sons, and so on) brought in Tyler Trotter as the third member, and it was this incarnation of the band that recorded BBC Radio 1 at the British Broadcasting Company‘s studio in London’s upscale Maida Vale neighborhood, with its quietly old-money residences, tree-lined city streets and small but welcoming coffee/tea shops. The tracking was done on May 3, which was just a couple weeks before Om toured the Southwest ahead of playing Monolith on the Mesa, and about two months ahead of their Summer 2019 European tour, which included stops at Lake on Fire in Austria and SonicBlast Moledo in Portugal, but if hitting the BBC studio was the only reason Om made the trip abroad, one can hardly fault their logic in doing so. The results are little short of immaculate.

That sounds like hyperbole, and maybe it is, but you have to believe me when I say that this recording of “State of Non-Return” features if not the best then certainly one of the top three bass tones I’ve ever heard. I’m a sucker for bass tone anyway, and Cisneros is a master of low-end warmth, but for the tidal surge kick-in of distortion on the second track here alone, BBC Radio 1 is worth whatever Drag City want to charge for it. I’m dead serious. This isn’t a live release like something captured on someone’s phone at a random show. This is a professionally-recorded, in-studio offering of a band performing their work. It is a true documentation of their sound with album-quality fidelity and live performance. And I’m not going to take away from the dream-state sway beginnings of “Gethsemane” or Amos‘ drumming on “Cremation Ghat I” or the texture Trotter seamlessly weaves into the songs via keyboard throughout, but even on Om‘s earlier albums, when it was just bass/drums/vocals and so each of those elements was all the more showcased, I don’t know if the bass ever sounded so rich. If they put it out as an isolated track on its own — a bonus download or “dubplate” or whatever — I’d buy it happily. I mean it.

om

Opening with “Gethsemane” leads the way down the path. Its beginning is like a guided breathing exercise to clear the mind, and what unfolds from there in the wash of crash cymbals, the ping of ride, the pop of snare, the softly flowing bassline and the chant-like keyboard ahead of the first verse is duly immersive. Cisneros‘ voice arrives like a pilgrim one might meet in the wilderness, some kind of spiritual seeker who knows the place, can show the way toward safe passage while telling you stories that happen in dimensions most people can’t perceive. So you set off. Amos‘ drums are the footsteps, Trotter‘s keys the ground, and “Gethsemane” is both journey and destination. At 11 minutes, it’s both opener and longest inclusion (immediate points) on BBC Radio 1, and its sense of grace isn’t to be understated, nor the fluidity with which it feeds into “State of Non-Return,” which at 8:22 is two minutes longer than on Advaitic Songs, but still unfurls the aforementioned distortion about 45 seconds into the proceedings. Not to put too fine a point on it, but if they wanted to make the song last another 10 minutes, that’d be welcome as well. If it’s two, okay. I’ll take that.

Though it’s shorter than “Gethsemane” and backed up by “Cremation Ghat I” and “Cremation Ghat II,” “State of Non-Return” is an obvious focal point on BBC Radio 1 for its shift in tone and relative rhythmic push. Even putting aside the glorious rumble of Cisneros‘ making, it radiates energy as delivered here and presents a subtle momentum leading out of the first 10″ and en route to the second, which houses the final two tracks, one per side. “Cremation Ghat I” holds some of the momentum forth in Amos‘ drumming and the winding bassline that accompanies, but its run is brief at 3:51 and mostly instrumental, so the vibe has shifted accordingly, as, one supposes, it would have to. This leads to the drone-backed “Cremation Ghat II,” longer at 5:37, which closes out in perhaps giving some sense of arrival at the place to which the beginning of “Gethsemane” was setting off. Maybe (definitely) that’s putting too simplistic a narrative to it, and maybe the journey and destination are the same thing. I wouldn’t know. Maybe the sense of “going somewhere” is wrong altogether and the point is to be still.

But take from it either way that especially for a live recording, BBC Radio 1 is evocative in a way that allows for these kinds of varying interpretations. Certainly one would expect that the BBC knows what it’s doing in capturing a band playing, but it’s worth emphasizing this isn’t just performance-to-tape. It’s museum-quality. It’s a document of Om in 2019 and, for anyone who may have needed it, an underscore to the effect the band have had on the course of heavy over this decade which, one assumes, will only continue to spread into the next. Advaitic Songs is long since due for a follow-up, but BBC Radio 1 earns its place in Om‘s pantheon through its methodical, patient and serene atmosphere, showcasing Om as a band of singular, unmatched resonance. Recommended.

Om on Thee Facebooks

Om on Bandcamp

Om website

Drag City website

Drag City on Thee Facebooks

Drag City on Bandcamp

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When the Deadbolt Breaks & Red Mesa Touring Next Month

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 11th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

You’re probably doing something right when your tour starts at the SX Stoner Jam, which has something like 150 bands on the lineup and will no doubt be the kind of thing that 10 years from now people who were fortunate enough to be there will still be talking about. I mean that. But for Red Mesa and When the Deadbolt Breaks, both supporting releases on Desert Records, it’s just the beginning. They’ll go from Austin to Houston and then kick around the Southwest and the mountains for a 10-day run that unless I’m mistaken marks the Connecticut-based Deadbolt‘s first time out toward West Coast. I could be wrong about that — they’ve got some history at this point — but I’m reasonably certain.

Either way, a lot of the difference between the two bands can be seen in the photos below. Red Mesa are the dudes in the desert, sunglasses on, having a good time. When the Deadbolt Breaks are framed by eerie light in the woods, hands in pockets, staring downhill at whatever it is they might be threatening. Those should be some good shows.

Dates came down the PR wire:

red mesa

when the deadbolt breaks

When The Deadbolt Breaks and Red Mesa announce ‘Path of the Heavy’ tour!

When The Deadbolt Breaks (Psychedelic Doom) and Red Mesa (Desert Rock) have announced a tour together centered around their appearances at Austin’s STONER JAM ’19 on March 14th.

WTDB will be touring in support of their sixth studio album, “Angels are weeping…God has abandoned”. Red Mesa will be touring in support of their second studio album, “The Devil and The Desert”. Both band’s albums were released on the new Albuquerque based record label, Desert Records.

Tour Dates:
March 14th – Austin, TX Stoner Jam ’19 Festival @ Spider House Cafe and Ballroom
March 15th – Houston, TX @ Rudyards British Pub
March 16th – OKC @ Your Mom’s Place
March 17th – Wichita, KS @ Elbow Room
March 18th – OFF
March 19th – Colorado Springs, CO @ Bar-K
March 20th – Denver, CO @ TBA
March 21st – Albuquerque, NM
March 22nd – Phoenix, AZ @ Time Out Lounge
March 23rd – TBA

https://www.facebook.com/WhentheDeadboltBreaks/
https://whenthedeadboltbreaks.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/redmesaband/
https://redmesarock.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/desertrecordlabel/

When the Deadbolt Breaks, Angels are Weeping… God Has Abandoned… (2018)

Red Mesa, The Devil and the Desert (2018)

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Monolith on the Mesa Lineup Confirmed; Om, Dead Meadow, Wovenhand, The Obsessed, Cloud Catcher & More to Play

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 25th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

monolith on the mesa banner

So, uh, you wanna go get weird in the desert for a weekend? Sure, we all do. And if you’re up for making it the trip of a lifetime, Monolith on the Mesa has a bunch of decked-out vintage trailers available for you to hide from the New Mexico sun while you wait for the show to start. From the pre-party to The Obsessed headlining the second day, the inaugural edition of Monolith on the Mesa looks like the stuff of pilgrimage dreams. Om and Dead Meadow? Wovenhand? Tia Carrera jamming in a brewery? Duel? It’s an obviously curated lineup very purposefully put together with the setting in mind, and whether it’s the indoor or outdoor stage, it’s easy to see where it has the potential to be an incredible time. I’ve gone on at some length about the growth of US festival culture over the course of this decade. Look no further if you need an example of the fruit that would seem to be bearing.

If you make it down, congratulations on your life. You pretty much win.

Lineup and ticket links as per the social medias:

monolith on the mesa poster

Monolith on the Mesa: A High Desert Rock & Art Experience

Join Us On May 16th, 17th, & 18th In Taos New Mexico At Taos Mesa Brewing Mothership For Monolith on the Mesa A High Desert Rock Experience Like Non Other! A Music Festival with Art Visuals & Installations from Local NM Artists. And Of Course Some Of The Worlds Finest Dark, Psych, Stoner, Doom & Heavy Rock from All Over the Globe and SW Region! Browse Our Website monolithonthemesa.com For VIP And check out our Vintage Trailer Packages!!

http://www.monolithonthemesa.com/vintage-trailer-experience/

Hold My Ticket Link:
Pre party Show* https://holdmyticket.com/event/329481
2 Day Pass Ticket * https://holdmyticket.com/event/329524
Day 1 Pass Ticket * https://holdmyticket.com/event/329477
Day 2 Pass Ticket * https://holdmyticket.com/event/329482

MotherShip Outside Stage: Featuring Visuals By Mad Alchemist Liquid Light Show * Day 1: OM * Dead Meadow * Wovenhand * True Widow * EYE * Green Druid * Spirit Mother** Day 2: The Obsessed * Pinkish Black * Castle * The Well * Crypt Trip * WEEED * Cloud Catcher * The Munsens

Taos Mesa Worshipper Inside Stage: Day 1: * Tia Carrera * Wino (Acoustic) * Lord Buffalo * Pharlee * SuperGiant * YOU * Via Vengence * Deep Cross** Day 2 Duel * Stone Deaf * In The Company Of Serpents * Pale Horse\Pale Rider * Communion * Oryx * Sorex * Dysphotic * Devil’s Throne

https://www.facebook.com/events/260645364631316/
https://www.facebook.com/monolithonthemesa
https://www.instagram.com/monolithonthemesa/
http://www.monolithonthemesa.com/

Dead Meadow, “Good Moanin'” live at Endless Daze Fest 2018

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Red Mesa Announce First-Ever Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 30th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

red mesa

Despite a recent back injury to drummer Roman Barham — who I think I might’ve half-met earlier this year someplace; was it Maryland Doom Fest? — Albuquerque, New Mexico’s Red Mesa will head out on tour next month in support of their 2018 album, The Devil and the Desert (review here). This will be the band’s first-ever tour, and they’ll be out for 10 days beginning Nov. 8 suitably enough at the Launchpad in their hometown before covering a good swath of the sprawling and sandy Southwest, as well as into Los Angeles and San Diego, Las Vegas and so on. It’s a good run and they’re playing with good bands along the way — you can bet that Sierra Vista show is with Fuzz Evil — and there is a date still TBA in Tucson, so if you’re there and can help out, do that. Because it’s the right god damned thing to do, and you know it.

I’ve said as much before, but a first tour is a special time for a band that, like a first album, only comes once. Kudos to Red Mesa on getting out. I hope the shows are a blast.

Dates follow:

RED MESA TOUR POSTER

Red Mesa – First Tour

November 8th-November 17th.

Red Mesa will be heading out on the road this November for their first tour!

“The Devil In the Desert” tour will kick off in the band’s hometown of Albuquerque, NM on November 8th. From there, the band will do a SW/West Coast circuit.
This will tour will promote the band’s June 2018 release of “The Devil and The Desert” album.

The band’s ringleader, Brad Frye, will be doing vocals and playing guitar. Roman Barham, Albuquerque’s local favorite promoter, drummer, and music store owner will be playing drums. This tour will feature the band’s new bass player, Josh Vigil, an accomplished musician who plays bass and flamenco guitar.

The band has booked the tour themselves using the network of bands and venues they have worked with and hosted through the years. Salem’s Bend, King Chiefs, Nebula Drag, Big Mean, Fuzz Evil and many others will be hosting Red Mesa along the way.

“THE DEVIL IN THE DESERT TOUR 2018”
Thurs 11/8: Albuquerque, NM – Launchpad
Friday 11/9: El Paso, TX – Neon Rose
Sat 11/10: Sierra Vista, AZ – The Horned Toad
Sun 11/11: Los Angeles, CA – Characters Pomona
Mon 11/12: San Diego, CA – Space Bar
Tues 11/13: Los Angeles, CA – The BLVD
Wed 11/14: Las Vegas, NV – Sahara Events Center
Thurs 11/15: Flagstaff, AZ – House Party
Fri 11/16: Tempe, AZ – Cornish Pasty Co.
Sat 11/17: Tucson, AZ – TBA

Big News! This tour will coincide with the release of Red Mesa’s cover song of “Breathe” for Magnetic Eye’s The Best of Pink Floyd compilation on November 9th.

https://www.facebook.com/redmesaband/
https://redmesarock.bandcamp.com/

Red Mesa, The Devil and the Desert (2018)

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The Horned God Sign to Desert Records; Debut Album Coming Soon

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 12th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

THE HORNED GOD

Based on the comics of olde — from a time before the medium became a dominant driving force of American popular culture; when they were still for weirdos and nerds — The Horned God are set to make their debut this Fall through Desert Records. They’re the first act signed to the new label helmed by Brad Frye, also the guitarist and vocalist of Red Mesa, but apparently not the last. In addition to announcing the pickup of fellow Albuquerquians The Horned God, Frye teased that he’d be working with, “a veteran psychedelic doom band from New England.” Intrigue!

In the meantime, I’m curious to hear what’s in store for The Horned God‘s first album, which has been given the title The Horned God I, since as you can see above and in the freshly-unveiled artwork immediately below, they’re not exactly going light on the concept.

From the social medias:

the horned god cover

THE HORNED GOD – BAND SIGNING ANNOUNCEMENT!

Desert Records is proud to introduce you to THE HORNED GOD!

Hailing from Albuquerque, NM but playing a very unique style of Ancient Celtic stoner and desert rock inspired by the 1983 comic book classic Slaine: The Horned God.

Debut album coming this Fall!

Vinyl and digital formats.

The Horned God says: “Let the commencement begin! The Horned God is officially the first band signed to Desert Records Label! Epic things on the horizon… and we are so honored to be a part of this music community. Thank you, Brad Frye and Desert Records!”

The Horned God is a Cosplay band, based on the comic book masterpiece by Pat Mills, and Simon Bisley, Slaine: The Horned God.

Comic book writer Pat Mills brought the character of Slaine mac Roth, a Celtic barbarian warrior king who along with his axe Brainbiter and his ability to warp spasm in order to defend his people against the dark druid Slough Feg, to life in 1983 in his graphic novel series titled Slaine. In 1989 Pat Mills collaborated with illustrator Simon Bisley and published the three book series Slaine: The Horned God. In this series Slaine goes on a quest to collect four artifacts that once united will enable him to become high king and lead his people into battle in the hopes of saving them from Slough Feg and his army.

In 2012 the next adaptation of the story began in Albuquerque New Mexico when three friends took their love of the story and combined it with their passion of music and created the three piece cosplay stoner rock or as they call it, “Ancient Celtic inspired stoner rock, legends and lore, of love and war!!!”, musical interruption appropriately named, The Horned God.

The Horned God consist of three members, Dominic on vocals and guitar, Robson on bass and Tim on drums. This one of a kind dynamic three piece bring the story of Slaine to life with lyrical dialog and narratives ripped from the pages of the book accompanied by full costume and projected comic book cells throughout the entire performance.

https://www.facebook.com/HornedGodBand/
https://www.facebook.com/desertrecordlabel/

The Horned God, Live at the Launchpad, 2012

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Red Mesa Premiere “Sacred Datura” from The Devil and the Desert

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on May 29th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

red mesa

Albuquerque, New Mexico-based heavy desert rockers Red Mesa release their second album, The Devil and the Desert via their own Desert Records imprint on June 1. The follow-up to the trio’s 2014 self-titled debut and their 2016 appearance alongside Blue Snaggletooth on Ripple Music‘s The Second Coming of Heavy – Chapter Four (review here), it’s a seven-track/38-minute outing the urgency of which seems to be affirmed through the sheer act of its creation.

To wit: Split into two vinyl sides and released on that format with money garnered via crowdfunding, the beginning of the recording process found guitarist/vocalist Bradley Frye without a band. Both bassist Shawn Wright and drummer Duane Gasper split after a gig last August (that must have been some show), and rather than call it a day and go home, Frye decided to hit the somewhat ironically named Empty House Studio with producer/engineer Matthew Tobias and press forward with making the record.

That decision in itself was pretty bold, and it pays dividends throughout The Devil and the Desert, the title of which refers to its dual themes. From front to back there would seem to be a narrative of hallucinogens, the arrival of the devil, the desert itself, and so on, and musically, the material becomes more severe the deeper into the record one goes, Frye starting out with a semi-acoustic swamp blues that touches on psychedelia in “The Devil’s Coming ‘Round” — which has a few heavy riffs of its own, like a Southwestern fuzz-proffering Monster Magnet with Frye cast in the Wyndorf role — and the ethereal sandy grunge of centerpiece “Desert Sol,” before tipping the balance to more weighted fare with “Sacred Datura,” the motor-chugging “Route 666” and the trippy desert heft and spaciousness of the 10-minute closing title-track.

red mesa the devil and the desertBy the time Frye gets around to “The Devil and the Desert,” he’s traveled a significant distance even from “The Devil’s Coming ‘Round” and other early cuts like opener “Devil Come out to Play” and the instrumental “Springtime in the Desert,” which opens psychedelic and fades out only to return with more grounded acoustics. That play between the real and unreal becomes central to The Devil and the Desert, and in order to better evoke it, Frye put Tobias to work on drums/percussion and brought in studio players Jon Mcmillian (bass) and lap steel/baritone guitarist Alex McMahon in order to better evoke the sense of a full-band playing. To be blunt, it works.

The danger with using session musicians especially on an independent release is that, while generally ultra-talented, they have little investment in the project at hand. They’ll play well, but won’t share the passion of those who hired them or who composed the material they’re playing. Frye and Tobias found the right people. To listen to the fleshed out arrangement of “Desert Sol” at the album’s center, McMahon‘s baritone and lead guitar melds easily with what Frye does on electric and acoustic guitar and vocals and with Tobias‘ percussion. And since the second, more generally weighted half of the record was made with the clearly self-aware Frye and Tobias working as a duo playing the parts of a full band — Frye taking up bass as well as guitars and vocals — there’s a shift in presentation as well as general mindset just where one is intended.

So again, it works. I don’t know if Frye — whose since brought on bassist Randy Martinez and drummer Roman Barham to play in the live incarnation of Red Mesa — would say losing two-thirds of his band prior to recording was an asset, but listening to the channels switch in the bouncing verse of “Sacred Datura,” or hearing the fuzzy rhythm part back the soaring lead, one would have a hard time arguing he didn’t make the most of it, and that The Devil and the Desert didn’t turn out as broad in sound as it is cohesive in its themes. It’s a mindful outing that rather than simply working within genre confines, uses the elements of desert rock, lost country and psychedelia in carefully set balances to suit its own needs and purposes. It is an album commanding aesthetic, rather than being led by the rules of it.

Below, you can hear the premiere of “Sacred Datura” and read more about the song specifically from Brad Frye. Once again, The Devil and the Desert is out June 1 via Desert Records. Preorders are up now through Red Mesa‘s Bandcamp page.

Please enjoy:

Brad Frye on “Sacred Datura”:

The song “Sacred Datura” was initially conceived from Carlos Castaneda’s book The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Life. In the book Don Juan explains that Sacred Datura is also known as Devil’s Weed. Sacred Datura is meant to give human beings remarkable powers, such as being able to fly, uproot big trees, go into heat to become pregnant, very powerful stuff. In regards to the song, it’s more about having the power to confront your demons (or the Devil) head-on and be able to survive the encounter.

Most all the titles to songs on this record include the word ‘desert’ or ‘devil.’ I was originally going to name the song “Devil’s Weed” but I figured some hallucinogenic drug fans or plants geeks may appreciate the reference.

The other book that inspired the song was Edward Abbey’s Desert Solitaire. There’s a chapter in the book where a boy accidentally eats Sacred Datura and has quite a trip before he eventually dies from dehydration in the canyon lands of Utah. Although I’ve never taken Sacred Datura, I used my own experiences with psychedelic mushrooms to write the song.

It’s the first track I’ve ever recorded with me playing bass. The tracking session mostly consisted of Matthew Tobias telling me to “do it again.” The whirling sound that you hear at the very beginning of the song and continues throughout the first half of the song is from a homemade Leslie rotating speaker cabinet made from some hippie dude that I bought from in the trippy little New Mexico town of Madrid.

The riff in the second half of the song is most certainly an ode to Black Sabbath’s “Black Sabbath” riff. Seems like the kind of riff that would appear out of the cosmos on such a journey.
Plus, it being the devil’s triad (root note, with a octave up, and a flatted fifth), which was banned from the churches in Europe in centuries past, seemed fitting to have in this album.

The album was recorded at Empty House Studio in Albuquerque, NM. Matthew Tobias engineered, produced, and mixed the entire album. Doug Van Sloan Mastered the album. Side A was recorded in September and October of 2017. Side B was recorded in January and February of 2018.

Release date: 250 colored vinyl LP’s will be available for sale in early June 2018. Limited edition. Brad Frye’s new record label, DESERT RECORDS, will release the album. Look for more
releases in 2018 by DESERT RECORDS.

Red Mesa has a new rhythm section for 2018 for live shows.
Roman Barhan (Rezin Tree, Black Maria, Jagged Mouth,) will play drums.
Randy Martinez (Hounds Low, Jagged Mouth) will play bass.

Red Mesa is currently booking its first tour to play and promote the album.

Red Mesa on Thee Facebooks

Red Mesa on Bandcamp

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