Posted in Whathaveyou on July 14th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Very interested to hear what Orange County, NY, heavy psych rockers Sun Voyager come up with for their debut long-player. Their 2013 demo, Mecca(review here), had a loose, laid back groove that neither came at the expense of songwriting nor felt like a put-on, so I’m eager to see where they take their sound with more room to flesh out ideas and maybe mix in some variety of atmosphere, effects experimentation, etc. The album, as yet untitled, was originally slated for a summer release on King Pizza Records vinyl, but that’s been pushed back to the fall.
In other news from the upstarts, they’ve parted ways with one of their guitarists and will proceed into the recording process as a full-length. They also sent word of upcoming shows around the New York area and more along via the PR wire.
Check it out:
Sun Voyager Summer Update
We hope your summer has been grooving smooth. Thanks for all the support over the last year and a half! It’s been a lot of fun and we’ve got some exciting things on the way that we wanted to share with you.
First a list of upcoming shows:
July 24 w/ Greasy Hearts, Big Huge & Jacques le Coque – Brooklyn – Silent Barn July 25 w/ Ma, Oneironaught, & Sex Dream – Brooklyn, NY – Big Irv’s Gallery August 1 w/ It’s Not Night: It’s Space – New Paltz, NY – Snug Harbor August 9 w/ Julian Fulton, Francie Moon, & more – Rahway, NJ – The Rail House August 15 w/ SULTAN BATHERY – Brooklyn, NY – Don Pedro’s September 11 w/ The End Men – Albany, NY – The Low Beat
Next (we’ll give you the bad news first), we’re not sure if all of you know this but Steve is no longer with the band. We wish him all the best but will be continuing as a three-piece. Don’t worry though. We’ve been rocking just as hard without him.
NOW THE GOOD/GREAT NEWS…. We’re wrapping up in the studio this weekend and are almost ready to give you some new music!!! King Pizza Records will be putting out our first full-length on 12″ VINYL and we’re super excited to part of such an awesome label that wants to do this for us. It will be 8 songs in length and should be out this fall. We put a rough version of one of the songs up on bandcamp and might have something else for you very soon…
Posted in Whathaveyou on June 23rd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
I had both of these bands on my “gotta see in 2014″ list, so I’ll be glad to kill two birds with one stone and catch All Them Witches touring with King Buffalo in the Northeast. There are just a handful of shows, and while I’m sure both will tour again and hit more towns that, say, aren’t a four-hour drive, the chance to see them now, and together, makes these gigs something special.
For Rochester, NY, heavy rockers King Buffalo, the tour is more their home turf. They’ll be out supporting their late-2013 three-song demo (review here), which showed their growth out of half the band’s former outfit, Velvet Elvis, and toward a more atmospheric approach, varied and tonally warm even on demo recordings. That demo was one of the best short releases of 2013, and King Buffalo were picked up by STB Records for the release of their first full-length as a result. The album is expected before the end of the year.
The recently-interviewed All Them Witches released a new single on June 15 called “Effervescent” that offered the strongest look yet at their jammier side. Heavy psychedelic blues made languid and sprawled over 25 minutes made an engaging follow-up to 2013′s excellent Lightning at the Doorfull-length, and as they promise to have vinyl with them on the tour, even though they don’t say vinyl of what, I can’t imagine it won’t be welcome by anyone who passes by the merch table.
All Them Witches will play a few shows in the south before the tour starts in NYC. Their full schedule goes like this:
Got some summer dates confirmed. We will have VINYL.
7/30-Atlanta, GA – The Drunken Unicorn 7/31-Chattanooga, TN – JJ’s Bohemia 8/1-Birmingham, AL – Secret Stages 8/21-New York, NY – Mercury Lounge w/ KING BUFFALO 8/22-Philadelphia, PA – MilkBoy Philadelphia w/ KING BUFFALO 8/23-Stroudsburg, PA – Sherman Theater Living Room w/ KING BUFFALO 8/24-Richmond, VA – Strange Matter w/ KING BUFFALO 8/26-Ithaca, NY – The Dock w/ KING BUFFALO 8/27-Rochester, NY – Bug Jar w/ KING BUFFALO 8/28-Nashville, TN – TBA!!!!!!!!
Posted in Reviews on June 16th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Spanning years and creative spaces in kind, Blizaro‘s Strange Doorways is a consuming document of doom that one might be tempted to call “traditional” but for the force and individuality put into its presentation. A 2CD out through Italian imprint I, Voidhanger Records, it encompasses four separate Blizaro releases from 2012 back to the band’s beginnings in 2006 and is from the very first note and really even before that a work of deep, abiding passion. Cover art by Costin Chioreanu adds to the otherworldly bleakness of the extended offering, and laudatory liner notes from John Brenner of Revelation/Against Nature for the accomplishments of Blizaro spearhead John James Gallo – also of Orodruin — set a tone of appreciation that serves as the reasoning for the compilation in the first place. That is, Strange Doorways – which pulls together 2012′s Black Majiciansdemo, 2009′s The Old Wizard of Winterdemo, 2008′s Blue Tape demo and 2006′s Horror Rock demo, two on each disc accompanied by other bonus tracks, three on the first disc and five on the second — is clearly not a piece for the uninitiated. For Blizaro, it’s not where you start. That might be the 2010 full-length, City of the Living Nightmare, but at just a hair under two and a half hours, Strange Doorwaysis for those who genuinely want to lose themselves within Blizaro‘s doomscape, which back to its origins the better part of a decade ago retains a cinematic mood and sense of synth-fueled drama that distinguishes the band both from Gallo‘s work in Orodruin and from the glut of traditional doom worldwide.
To put names to it, the most constant influences Gallo – who’s joined in Blizaro these days by his Orodruin bandmate Mike Waske on drums and bassist Mark Rapone while he handles guitar, synth, vocals and more than that on some of these recordings — seems to be under are those of Paul Chain, Reverend Bizarre, Goblin and Candlemass. Not bad places to start, and since Strange Doorways begins with the most recent material, we hear Gallo‘s vision at its most cohesive, pulling together a Leif Edling-style chorus on “Voyage Beyond Space” and adjusting his vocal approach accordingly after the cavernous metal of “Slave of Chaos” earlier on or the mournful lead work on the instrumental closer “Projections,” which follows. Synth and organ come more into focus on The Old Wizard of Winter, but the mood and overarching purpose is consistent, even as “White Frijid Mass” eases its way past the seven-minute mark and church organ meets with swirling, windy effects. This release, which Gallo says in his extensive song-by-song liner notes, was originally composed as a holiday gift to his family, but after being pleased with the results, he decided to make it public. It is the most atmospheric stretch of Strange Doorways, and knowing the circumstances of its creation — one night, lots of synth, little guitar — it’s easy to read a touch of the Xmas album in “Sulumucca” or “Shadow Walk,” though any such perceivable whimsy comes tempered with an atmospheric darkness fed into by the surrounding material, the artwork and the rhythms themselves, which retain a mournful, doomly pace. Gallo does not wassail, it would seem.
Posted in Features on June 2nd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Three years, one bassist, one added guitarist and heaps of hyperbole later, Brooklyn atmospheric extremists Tombs return with Savage Gold, their third album on Relapse Records and the follow-up to 2011′s Path of Totality. Set for release June 10, Savage Goldpushes the four-piece into deeper terrain of the sonically frenetic, and if there’s any doubt the 10-track collection was produced by Erik Rutan, it’s dispelled immediately in the clarity of drummer Andrew Hernandez‘s blastbeats on opener “Thanatos.” Rutan (who cut his teeth in NJ-based Ripping Corpse before moving to Florida and joining Morbid Angel) brings the same sense of purpose and malevolent ambience to Tombs‘ latest as he did with his own outfit, Hate Eternal, on American death metal landmarks like 2002′s King of all Kingsand 2005′s I, Monarch, proving that a crisp production doesn’t necessarily have to come at the expense of impact.
His work and Tombs‘ are exceptionally well paired throughout Savage Gold‘s 58-minute span, and whether it’s the bleak Celtic Frostery that emerges on “Deathtripper” and “Spiral,” the minimalist post-doom of “Severed Lives,” or the all-out blackened ferocity of “Seance,” “Ashes” and “Legacy,” Tombs proffer a laser-precise efficiency of songwriting, not just blasting away for extremity’s own sake, but conveying a darkened mood and churning tension to go with all of that brutality. Guitarist/vocalist Mike Hill, bassist Ben Brand, Hernandez and guitarist Garrett Bussanick offer no shortage of bludgeoning throughout, and more power to them for it, but as savage as it is Savage Gold‘s real asset is the sonic complexity that Hill and Tombs have been developing over the course of the last seven years, through their beginnings, 2009′s Winter Hoursdebut, and of course, from Path of Totalityuntil today and hopefully on from here.
No doubt at the end of 2014, you’ll find Savage Goldon any number of best-of lists, but what the album really accomplishes is furthering Tombs‘ evolution, and to that end, it seemed prudent to get Hill‘s perspective on the songs themselves, rather than simply add to the chorus of praise. I’m fortunate that he agreed to do a track-by-track for each of the 10 cuts on Savage Gold, and happy to be able to bring it to you below.
Once again, Savage Gold is out June 10 on Relapse Records. Please enjoy.
Savage Gold Track-by-Track by Mike Hill
This is one of my favorite tracks on the record; fully realized and complete. It sets the tone for the entire record, a meditation on death and the thin membrane between realities
We wrote this when we returned from the Path of Totality recording session down in Texas. The song went through a series of rewrites and metamorphoses before we arrived at the version that is on Savage Gold.
The Oroborus is a symbol that recurs in many different ancient cultures. While contemplating infinity, the vision of a serpent whose eyes stare into forever appeared to me. This song is a simulation of what seemed like an eternity of experience.
Over the last few years, I’ve been reading a lot of Graham Hancock, an Egyptologist and Alternative History Specialist among other things. Echoes was inspired by the concept that civilization has gone through many cycles of technological advancement and cataclysmic events have forced it all to be reset.
I pulled the lyrics of this song fully formed from an old journal. I had been living this dark, Travis Bickle-like existence that seemed incredibly hopeless. Ultimately, I pulled it together. “DeathTripper” is a tribute to that period.
6. Edge of Darkness
More meditations on death and the great unknown; “Edge of Darkness” refers to the membrane that separates this reality from what may lie beyond the coil of mortality.
I watched Jacob’s Ladder one night. It was really late. I had seen it many times before, but the movie took on new meanings. I worked with the fear and anxiety that the film had caused and put these lyrics together. The song addresses the concept that the lies of organized religion will all be revealed at the final moments of life.
This song had the working title “Dissection.” Musically, we were channeling the Swedish masters of black-death metal. Lyrically, the song works with the idea that time is a recurring cycle of infinity. That everything which has gone before will happen again, into infinity.
9. Severed Lives
This was one of those songs that sort of fell together. It wrote itself. Lyrically, I went into the “panspermia” concept that life on Earth originated out in the universe.
This is more death and the unknown. It’s another meditation on the final moments of life and what will pass through your head as your consciousness scatters into an infinite number of infinitesimal pieces.
Posted in Whathaveyou on May 9th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Four-piece groove rollers Sun Voyager have a new track called “Gypsy Hill” available now as a pay-what-you-will download. The Orange County, NY, psych-gazers who released their Mecca demo last fall (review here) will issue their first LP this summer on Brooklyn’s King Pizza Records, and the Dead Meadow-style dreamer-fuzz of “Gypsy Hill” follows suit stylistically from where Meccaleft off, a subtle penchant for melody showing up in the chorus as in “Space Queen” their last time out.
The space-garage rock of Sun Voyager‘s “Oh, Sally” from their early-2013 demo, Cosmic Tides, is also included on a new King Pizza compilation called Music to Make BarbecuesBy, and the band features alongside a punkish host of bands from The Fucktons to The Measurements.
Sun Voyager shipped this down the PR wire:
New Song Premiere + T-Shirt Preorder!
First things first, we were featured on the most badass compilation. It was put together by King Pizza Records, features 16 songs by 16 awesome bands, it’s totally free, and it can be heard HERE. Trust us… You need to hear it.
Now some real exciting stuff coming at you from OUR WORLD.
We have a NEW SONG streaming on Bandcamp! It’s called Gypsy Hill and will be on our full length coming summer 2014 on King Pizza. Right now it’s a rough mix but we thought it was good enough to give you early.
ALSO… NEW SHIRTS available for PRE-ORDER.
THESE are on the way! LIMITED EDITION MECCA T-SHIRTS. They’ll be super comfortable and we’re only getting 100… so get them while they’re hot because they’ll be gone in no time.
More big things will be happening real soon. As always, we’ll let you know when they do. If you haven’t found us on the internet already… we’re on Spotify (follow us for first dibs on the full length), Facebook, and Twitter.
Posted in Reviews on May 9th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
What makes To be Kind so devastating isn’t the fact that it’s chaos or that, led by guitarist/vocalist/founder Michael Gira, Swans are tossing out random strands across the 2CD/3LP’s two-hour span and just waiting to see what sticks. It’s that there’s consciousness at work in this material, that these pieces have solidified around initial ideas, come together over a period of time to be what they are, and that even in the 34-minute we’re-gonna-outdo-The-Beatles-and-The-Doors-at-their-own-games-and-still-be-Swans “Bring the Sun/Toussaint l’Ouverture,” which over its time runs from snare-driven tension and pseudo-religious chanting to Gira sloganeering in French — “Liberté, égalité, fraternité” makes an appearance with an extra rolling of the ‘r’ in the latter before Gira seems to switch to Spanish — there’s direction. Usually that’s linear, and the third album since Swans‘ reactivation follows suit with its predecessors, 2012′s The Seer and 2010′s My Father Will Guide Me up a Rope to the Sky (review here), in its inimitable complexity and in how it was constructed. The core Swans lineup around Gira has been remarkably consistent since they ended their 15-plus-year hiatus, with Norman Westberg on guitars, Phil Puleo on percussion, keys and vocals, Christoph Hahn on guitar and vocals, Thor Harris drumming and adding further percussion, also playing viola and singing and Christopher Pravdica playing bass and guitar and singing. Bill Rieflin (also of King Crimson) also appears on various instruments and is credited as “honorary Swan forever,” which if you’ve got a business card is a nifty title to have on it. These players shift their roles depending on what the song calls for at any given moment — no word on who does the sawing that appears midway through “Bring the Sun/Toussaint l’Ouverture,” though the horses were wrangled by Guillermo Tellez Gonzales “Charo” — and as has been their wont, Swans bring in multiple guests throughout to handle brass instruments, additional vocals, piano, strings, etc. A varied sound is something of a given — to wit the funky stomp of disc-one centerpiece “A Little God in My Hands” or its rawer disc-two counterpart “Oxygen” — but To be Kindis cohesive and gripping in its intensity, whether it’s the bombast later in “She Loves Us” or the brooding psychedelia that emerges on the subsequent “Kristen Supine.”
The response has been accordingly hyperbolic. Big surprise, right? Swans put out an album that sounds like Swans and critics line up to wax poetic about the genius at work in their dark artistry, all sentence-wank and extremity of phrase. Whatever. Fact is that Swans have always been a challenging listen — yes, even The Burning World– and for as long as they want to, they’ll continue to be one. With Gira‘s laser-guided übersneer in “Just a Little Boy (For Chester Burnett),” the derisive laughter that follows, the teeth-grinding build of “Screen Shot” that finally and thankfully pays itself off near the end of the song, the base judgment in “Some Things We Do,” particularly the first half of To be Kind, with “Screen Shot” (8:05), “Just a Little Boy (for Chester Burnett)” (12:40), “A Little God in My Hands” (7:08), “Bring the Sun/Toussaint l’Ouverture” (34:05) and “Some Things We Do” (5:09), isn’t.The second disc comes across friendlier, if one can use that word, with “She Loves Us” (17:01), Kirsten Supine” (10:32), “Oxygen” (7:59), “Nathalie Neal” (10:15) the “To be Kind” (8:23) — at very least the titles speak to ideas of love and life, whereas on “Some Things We Do,” those are broken down into a listing, “We laugh, we drink, we fuck,” and so on. “Screen Shot,” with its gradual beginning and eight-minute build, sets a precedent for several of the other pieces to follow. A course is established and the journey is undertaken. Elements are added on the way and a build begins. That build is carried out over some stretch of time, skillful, linear. They keep it going. Tension mounts. Just when they get to the point where you feel like your head is going to explode if the song doesn’t, they hold it. That’s what they sustain. The payoff isn’t the climax — it’s that moment just before that gets drawn out. “Bring the Sun/Toussaint l’Ouverture” does this twice. “She Loves Us,” with its frenetic bassline, percussive tribalism and backing drone, also does it twice, deconstructing itself to disjointed noise both times. “Kirsten Supine” culminates in a stomp and wash. “Oxygen” builds on that with horns and slamming single hits, and though “Nathalie Neal” is more straightforward, its chanting chorus providing an incantation of a hook, it too comes to a head before dropping out to the quiet conclusion that continues on with the closing title-track before it hits its own stride of impossible tension and release.
Posted in Radio on April 30th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
If you like your sludge with more than a touch of the inhumane, Long Island resident Vincent Napolitano has got six songs and a name-your-price download with your name on them. Napolitano is the sole member of and driving force behind Neptune’s Inferno, whose debut long-player, Abyss, is out now through Death Valley Records. The album is a collection of thick, bludgeoning, misanthropic riffs, played slow and set to thunderous-sounding drum programming as a bed for Napolitano‘s layers of throat-ripping growls and screams. If nothing else, the 43-minute outing has the right title, since by the time the ultra-lumbering “Chiropteris” storms into its second half, you long since feel like you’ve been pulled down a well.
The largesse of sound is a big part of the album’s success. With a recording produced by Bleach Eater guitarist/vocalist Don Millard and engineered by Joe Cincotta at Full Force Studio, Napolitano pushes beyond one-man-project resonance and well into a full-band appeal. There are moments where the cymbal sounds are clearly programmed — the “hi-hat” in “Night Fever” and the “ride” in “Sonic Invasion” come to mind — but it’s not like Abyss is otherwise going for such a natural, accessible feel. Extremity is the purpose, and if there are flourishes of industrial at work in some of the material, that doesn’t necessarily detract from the album’s overall affect. “Vision Spell” sets a steady march and offers few frills around its riffing, screaming, lumbering approach, but the song’s victory is in the lack of restraint in its vomitous crawl. One does not get hit in the head with hammer and marvel at the nuance.
An 11:38 capstone arrives in “Frost Trails under the Blackened Sun,” feeding back into one last gleefully-repugnant plod. It finishes with the onset of gritty machine-noise drone, but it’s the march that makes the song a standout more than anything, a break around six and a half minutes in bridging the gap basically between the two songs it otherwise might’ve been. Whether it’s bands like Grime, or Wizard’s Beard or Morbid Wizard, Fistula or any of their depraved ilk, the world is not short on extreme sludge, and Napolitano has his work cut out for him in finding a niche for the massive tones he emits on Abyss, but especially for a first album, the clarity of intent served up here feels like forewarning of cruelties yet to come.
Posted in Whathaveyou on April 21st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Supported by a seemingly endless supply of vitriol nearly as much as by a string of limited live and homemade releases, the ongoing reactivation of Swans will release its latest document, a 2CD called To be Kind which undoubtedly isn’t, on May 13 via frontman Michael Gira‘s Young God Records — Mute for everywhere outside North America. The hugely influential outfit have announced tour dates across various regions of the country as well as in the UK and into Canada that will keep them busy through the summer and into fall as they support the new album.
The new song, “A Little God in My Hands,” can be heard below, following details off the PR wire:
Swans announce new Sept. tour dates in N. Am.
Swans announce details of the first few legs of a year-long, worldwide tour starting May 2014, following the release of the new album To Be Kind on Young God Records (North America) May 13 and on Mute May 12 in the rest of the world.
The US dates begin in Washington, DC May 14. Full details below.
Swans are Michael Gira, Norman Westberg, Christoph Hahn, Phil Puleo, Thor Harris and Christopher Pravdica and these are their first US dates since last July.
‘To Be Kind’ features several special guests: Little Annie, St. Vincent, labelmate Cold Specks and Bill Rieflin. The album was produced by Michael Gira, and recorded by John Congleton at Sonic Ranch, Texas. Further recordings and mixing were accomplished in Dallas, Texas.
Explaining the proposed formats, Gira has said, “It will be available as a triple vinyl album, a double CD, and a 2XCD Deluxe Edition that will include a live DVD. It will also be available digitally.
Swans, led by Michael Gira, formed in 1982 and, after disbanding in 1997, returned with the critically acclaimed albums ‘My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky’ (2010) and 2012′s ‘The Seer’. 2014′s new album ‘To Be Kind’ was in part funded through sales of the live 2 CD set “Not Here/Not Now” availableexclusively from the band’s site.
SWANS SPRING US TOUR Jenny Hval supports on May dates May 14 – Washington DC, Black Cat Mainstage May 15 – Philadelphia PA, Union Transfer May 17 – Boston MA, Royale Nightclub May 18 – New York NY, Bowery Ballroom May 19 – Brooklyn NY, Music Hall of Williamsburg
UK TOUR May 22 – Manchester UK, Academy 2 May 23 – Newcastle UK, Hoults Yard May 24 – Glasgow UK, The Arches May 25 – Aberdeen UK, The Lemon Tree May 27 – London UK, Brixton Electric May 28 – Bristol UK, Trinity Community Arts May 29 – Reading UK, Sub89 May 31 – Birmingham UK, Supersonic Festival – Custard Factory June 1 – Leeds UK, Cockpit June 2 – Brighton UK, Concorde 2 Support comes from Jenny Hval on all the May dates.
SWANS SUMMER US TOUR – Xiu Xiu support on June/July dates June 17 – Quebec QC Le Cercle June 18 – Montreal Qc Theatre National June 20 – Toronto ON Yonge-Dundas Square Stage- MNW Festival June 21 – Detroit MI St Andrews Hall June 22 – Chicago IL Lincoln Hall June 24 – St Louis MO The Ready Room June 26 – Dallas TX Trees June 27 – Austin TX Mohawk Austin June 28 – Houston TX Fitzgerald’s Upstairs June 30 – Nashville TN Exit / In July 1 – Charlotte NC Neighborhood Theatre July 2 – Louisville KY The New Vintage July 3 – Pittsburgh PA Rex Theater July 5 – Buffalo NY Tralf Music Hall July 6 – New Haven CT Toad’s Place Tue 9/2 Denver, CO – Bluebird Theater Thu 9/4 Seattle, WA – Showbox Fri 9/5 Vancouver, BC- the Venue Sat 9/6 Portland, OR – Roseland Theater Mon 9/8 San Francisco-, CA Independent-Bluebird Theater Thu 9/11 Hollywood CA- The Roxy Theatre
It’s billed as “A Music Film,” but Geezer‘s new live video for the song “Pony” could just as easily have been dubbed “A Drinking Film,” since that seems to be most of what’s going on while the band is playing. Filmed on a Monday night at The Anchor in Kingston, NY — The Midnight Ghost Train must have also been on the bill, since there’s a shot of the merch table with their Buffalovinyl on it — it captures Geezer more or less as they are: Unpretentious and grooving. Interspersed with shots of patrons at The Anchor who probably didn’t make it to work the next morning, Geezer roll their way through “Pony,” which can also be found on their 2013 debut full-length, Electrically Recorded Handmade Heavy Blues, with an engaging push.
Whatever you ultimately decide to call it, the clip was directed by Samantha June of Arius Photo out of New Paltz, and there are moments where, as glasses fade into and out of focus, it feels both like a whiskey commercial and an anthropological study — “We now approach the booze rockers in their natural habitat” — but chiefly, it is Geezer‘s somewhat unassuming presence, their unwillingness to be anything other than what they really are, that comes across, and the song itself — a soundboard recording? — unfolds into a lazy kind of bounce marked out by starts and stops executed cleanly by bassist Freddy Villano, guitarist/vocalist Pat Harrington and drummer Chris Turco, meeting stoner rock at the place where it departs from their titular heavy blues, but refusing to stand on one side or the other of that line.
Geezer have been tapped to play the Small Stone Records showcase at St. Vitus bar in Brooklyn on March 29 and will also feature at The Eye of the Stoned Goat 4 in Worcester, Massachusetts, which runs May 3 and 4. More info and music at the links under the video.
Posted in Radio on December 11th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Orange County, NY, four-piece Sun Voyager bookended 2013 with demo releases. The first was Cosmic Tides, which arrived in January with three tracks and was issued on cassette, and the latest is Mecca. Also three songs and not yet given a physical pressing that I know of, Meccafinds its breadth in a laid back atmosphere of heavy psychedelia and rolling low end groove. The two guitars of Carlos Valle (also vocals) and Steve Friedman run through a varied level of effects from wah to cave echo, sometimes using a slide to evoke a swamp blues feel amid the pastoral sunshine of their tones and Valle‘s semi-shoegaze vocal approach, which follows the riffs on “Mecca,” “Space Queen” and “Suns of the Future” with burgeoning confidence and poise. Bassist Stefan Mersch is essential in keeping the songs together and moving forward, locking in smoothly with drummer Kyle Beach while the guitars move through and around the central figures of the songs. This is a pretty familiar construction for heavy psych, but Sun Voyager put it to use well, capturing a terrestrial sound that’s at once loose and swaggering and richly exploratory.
They get underway with “Mecca,” which clocks in at five minutes flat of immediately engaging, guitar-led fare. The initial groove rolls slow and subtly bluesy with space-echo lead guitar behind Valle‘s verse, which rests comfortably on the plush bassline. A tension is built leading to a swell in volume, but they’re not quite ready to give away the chorus yet. “Mecca” rises and falls in volume and energy, fluid all the while and progressively gaining volume as it pushes past the three-minute mark. It remains languid as Valle drops the title line, “The Mecca has arrived,” a couple times before feedback ends the song and cuts to Mersch‘s bass starting “Space Queen.” Both “Mecca” and closer “Suns of the Future” are around the five-minute mark, but “Space Queen” approaches eight and its feel is suitably jammed-out. Doubly hypnotic thanks to repetitive lyrics, “Space Queen” is arguably the easiest cut on Meccato get lost, with a solo topping the jam that leads not to a massive crescendo — there is one, it’s just not overblown — but instead to a quieter finish, peaceful, psychedelic, and improvised-sounding, ending with a standalone feedback hum that gives way to the more active shuffle at the launch of “Suns of the Future.”
Last of the three, “Suns of the Future” is more upbeat, with steady kickdrum hits from Beach propelling its verses, an open chorus and effective tradeoffs between louder and softer stretches united by the delivery of Valle, which carries just the slightest tinge of Americana twang. A natural, classic heavy vibe persists, but Meccais thoroughly modern, and along with the memorable songwriting, that bodes well for where Sun Voyager might go from here. You can check out Mecca(and Cosmic Tides, for that matter) now as part of the regular playlist on The Obelisk Radio, and get a sampling of the tracks on the Bandcamp player below. Either way, enjoy:
Posted in Reviews on December 6th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
By the time I rolled into Williamsburg’s The Grand Victory after a more-than-long-enough work day, 100 and Zero were already well into their set of aggressive NY-style noise punk. They were first on a four band bill shared with grinders Scowl, atmospheric sludge metallers Mountain God and thick riff specialists Eggnogg, all local to Brooklyn. Fair enough. Scowl followed shortly thereafter, with drummer Chris Dialogue recognizable as the former vocalist of Alkahest. He handled backing vocals in Scowl as well on the small Grand Victory stage, and put his microphone to use — as did bassist Derek Stephan and vocalist MattViel who paced pack and forth in front of the stage, leaving only guitarist Zack Birmingham mic-less — as much, if not more, for banter between the songs, which were mostly short, grinding blasts with the occasional stoner groove thrown in for good measure.
Hell, I can get down with a little stoner extremity every now and again and nothing says charm like when band members spend entire minutes before the next cut calling each other assholes, so yeah, right on. They said they were playing a short set, and it might’ve been in just the material involved, but there was the back-and-forth as well to coincide with saying the next song was about football, or about “sucking on that glass dick, whatever that means,” and such. It was almost an overdose of snark, but all in good fun. When they were done, Mountain God loaded on and were immediately a completely different vibe, their sludge given texture through the keyboard work of Jonathan Powell. Both Powell and Mountain God bassist Nikhil Kamineni used to be in Alkahest as well, but as was evident on their Experimentation on the Unwillingdemo tape reviewed last month, the new band is working from its own amalgam of influences.
I recognized some of what they played from that tape, which I always take as a good sign, but the real highlight of their set was the new song “Forest of the Lost,” which worked in multiple movements and got more to the core of their blend of doom riffing and ambient depth. The vocals of guitarist Ben Ianuzzi come across in a wash of echo throughout most of the studio versions of songs, but live he was inevitably clearer and that gave the set a more tangible resonance. Riff-wise, “Forest of the Lost” tapped into a classic metal malevolence — maybe some Cathedral in there, but thoroughly doomed either way — and though the bulk of the long, unfolding progression was instrumental, what vocals there were came across in a blend of screams and cleaner singing, a noise rock vibe cutting through the tonal morass of Kamineni‘s bass and his own guitar as drummer Ian Murray turned an otherwise chaotic churn into cohesive forward motion.
They’ve reportedly got a new release in the works centered around some incarnation of “Forest of the Lost,” which was well past 10 minutes long on stage, so I took that as a good sign, and when Mountain God finished, Eggnogg took the stage quickly as the last act of the night. It had been more than a year since the last time I saw them — my loss — and in the interim, the prior trio of Bill O’Sullivan, guitarist Justin Karol and drummer Jason Prushko added bassist Corey Dozier to make a four-piece. This move put O’Sullivan from bass to rhythm guitar — as well as vocals — resulting in Karol taking on more of a lead-player role, in which he excelled. In the past, seeing Eggnogg live, I’ve regretted that some of the funk influence that shows up in their studio output, be it last year’s LouisEP (review here) or 2011′s Moments in Vacuumsophomore full-length (review here), is somewhat lost in favor of their pure, unabashedly stoner stomp, enjoyable as that is.
Sure enough, the songs they played at The Grand Victory – a new one to start from their forthcoming, “mostly done” third full-length, You’re all Invited, plus “The God’s Will Destroy the Hive” and “Northern Lights” from their 2009 debut The Three, and an eponymous encore — carried that much more of the funk for the simple fact that Karol was able to devote his attention completely to his solos when they arose. “Northern Lights,” which was the elephantine highlight of their set, soulful as he plucked notes and even threw in a little stoner-rock softshoe, which as far as I’m concerned is always welcome. Together with O’Sullivan‘s low vocal register and the rumble of Dozier‘s six-string bass, Eggnogg were indeed another notch above the already heavy watermark that past shows I’ve seen from them had set. More importantly, Dozier – although he spent a decent amount of time off the stage, playing in front of it or to the side — blended well with the trio tonally and in terms of presence, and provided a thickened match for both guitars and the marching snare of Prushko, which impressed all the more with some subtle ghost notes and increasing character of play.
Of Eggnogg, you could say they seem to be getting to where they want to be in terms of their sound. I frickin’ loved Moments in Vacuumand put on Louisregularly as well, so the chance to see and hear new songs from them was thoroughly appreciated. I don’t know when You’re all Invitedwill see release, but as far as I’m concerned the sooner the better. I’d hoped to be able to pick up a CD copy of their Apocryphacompilation — the only physical pressing of Louis, which couples it with their 2010 NoggEP — but to no avail, and by that I mean there were none available. Still, well worth the trip to the city to catch them with Mountain God, also in a process of coming into their own, albeit in a much different fashion.
I thought maybe there was a late show happening afterwards, as for a time there were a few extra people walking around with instruments, but maybe they were playing across the street at Trash Bar or something and decided to walk over. When Eggnogg finished, the sound guy put on Songs for the Deaf to let the place clear out. I shuffled back to my car and made the trek back to Jersey to crash — a trip that seems even more arduous now than when I lived there — the dark and quiet roads of my former river valley rendered largely invisible by a dense, rolling fog.
Some more pics after the jump. Thanks for reading.
Posted in On the Radar on December 5th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Fuck. Yes. I nerded out pretty hard when Rochester, NY, heavy rockers Velvet Elvis knocked me on my ass with their debut long-player, In Deep Time(review here), last year. Well, Velvet Elvis seem to have been shortlived, which is unfortunate, but guitarist/vocalist Randall Coon and drummer Scott Donaldson have teamed up with guitarist/vocalist Sean Mcvay and bassist/vocalist Dan Reynolds – both of Rochester-based outfit Abandoned Buildings Club – to form King Buffalo, and if the languid, naturalistic grooves that pervade their aptly-titled debut demo, Demo, are anything to go by, that pairing is working out pretty well. The demo has three songs that you could easily split into two 10″ vinyl sides, and for having been recorded over the course of two days at the band’s practice space comes through clear and naturally, the airy guitars leading the charge of an organic vibe that recalls some of the heavy psych of recent King Buffalo tourmates All Them Witches, a light rural touch and Neil Young influence in the vocals on the open verses of “Pocket Full of Knife” leading to a jammy march that’s immediately and viciously engaging, becoming only more so when the quiet break swaggers into a stop and subsequent full-tone fuzz riffing.
In my head I’ve started to write a list of crucial American neo-heavy psych bands pulling from the blues and Americana where and when they want to and blending it with a classic stonerly influence, and I might just have to add King Buffalo to it. Drop it into another context, maybe speed it up a bit, and “In Dim Light” could be a Fu Manchu riff, but King Buffalo put it to work in a spacious field rather than a surf-ready beach, nascent harmonies topping thick riffs such that the potential for what the band might do on a debut full-length is exciting even on multiple listens, Donaldson‘s Sleep-esque snare march making the groove all the more righteous en route to the choppy modulated guitar solo and a Doors-echoing break leading to resurgence of the main riff to finish. Put them together and “Pocket Full of Knife” and “In Dim Light” add up to just about match the 11:15 of third track “Providence Eye,” but the closer’s more or less in a world of its own, starting out with wandering notes over rhythm strum and diving into a bowl of proggadelic noodles that unfold to riffy triumph around the two-minute mark.
Maybe that’s quick for an 11-minute song, but King Buffalo play it smart in loud quiet tradeoffs, each more satisfying than the last, jamming heavy psych-style after the second before bringing the chorus around to bear again. Then it’s time to boogie. A shuffling riff takes hold and gets a touch of quirk via space-rocking synth, and several stages of an instrumental conclusion play out in driving rhythms slowing, speeding up, changing to classic heavy ’70s groove and meeting with echoing leads before Donaldson and Reynolds are finally tasked to wrap the whole thing up with the drum and bass that have all along been the anchor of the psychedelic fray. Man, that’s groovy. The demo came out in mid-November, and King Buffalo reportedly already have plans to record an LP that will hopefully surface sometime in 2014. Until then, whether you heard Velvet Elvis or not, the demo warrants getting down:
In addition to a Funkadelic t-shirt spotting — always an encouraging sign — on bassist Joe Noval, the expertly-edited video teaser below for The Golden Grass‘ debut 7″ has clips of both songs included, “One More Time” and “Tornado.” The Brooklyn trio, comprised of Noval as well as guitarist/vocalist Michael Rafalowich (Strange Haze) and drummer/vocalist Adam Kriney (La Otracina), will issue the single on Svart Records and Electric Assault Records next week, and preorders are available now.
They’ve also got a few tour dates lines up that will take them out to Cincinnati for the Cincy Pysch Fest, and they’ll be headed north to Maine for a gig at Geno‘s in Portland, Maine, on Nov. 8. Fingers crossed they add a Massachusetts date so I can finally see what I’ve been fussing about all this time and maybe pick up a copy of their 456th Div.tape if there are any left (they only made 50).
Until then, here’s the teaser for the single:
The Golden Grass, One More Time/Tornado 7″ Preview
Here is the 7″ Preview Video of the forthcoming The Golden Grass 7″ on Svart Records/Electric Assault Records! Shot and directed by Max Warmbrodt!
Posted in Whathaveyou on October 16th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
New Paltz, New York, trio It’s Not Night: It’s Space celebrated the first anniversary earlier this week of their debut full-length, Bowing Not Knowing to What(review here). Since the album’s release, the space-rocking instrumentalists have signed to Small Stone for the impending follow-up, and while word has yet to come through about that, the band has announced a series of weekender and take-a-day-off gigs over the next couple weeks that will take them around the Northeast and pair them with some cool acts, including Eidetic Seeing, Moon Tooth, Queen Elephantine and Olde Growth.
Solid company to keep, and the prospect of the band working out new material on the road makes it all the more an exciting prospect. It’s Not Night: It’s Space also have shows lined up for Halloween and into November (they’re playing Nov. 15 with Geezer at The Anchor in Kingston, NY), so make sure to check the Thee Facebooks link below to keep up to date with their cosmic doings.
Until then, here’s what we know:
(((Philly, Long Island, New Paltz))) Our Hiatus Ends in THREE DAYS! it’s been four months since we played to an audience and we are fiending for your energy. that’s the longest we’ve ever gone since we started the band three years ago. we are looking at an epic stretch of Five Weeks of shows. it’s gonna be delicious.
It’s Not Night: It’s Space, Moon Tooth, Carved Up & Dead Empires 10/18 Teri’s Bar. Philadelphia, PA. 10/19 Centerville Studios. LI, NY. Nick Lee’s Birthday / Halloween RAGER at Centerville HQ 10/20 BSP Lounge. Kingston, NY.
It’s Not Night: It’s Space, Queen Elephantine, Eidetic Seeing & Black Norse 10/24 Brooklyn NY The Archeron 10/25 New Paltz NY Snug Harbor 10/26 Boston MA Space Mountain (It’s Not Night: It’s Space, Queen Elephantine, Olde Growth & Keefshovel)
Posted in Reviews on August 20th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
A four-band bill at Brooklyn’s St. Vitus bar after a full workday with a drive to Massachusetts afterwards lurking on the horizon, moving ever closer to reality — I will say immediately that attending the opening night of Truckfighters‘ latest US tour was probably the least responsible decision I’ll make all week. Well, maybe not, but still: Resoundingly irresponsible. Part of doing it was proving to myself that I could, and sure enough, I came out of it on the other end alive, despite the best efforts of I-95′s endless stretch to claim my heavy eyelids as part of its likewise endless stream of trophies. Behold, the living dope.
But if you have to be an eternal sucker, at least an act like Truckfighters put on a show to make it worth your while. The Swedish trio of bassist/vocalist Oskar “Ozo” Cedermalm, guitarist Niklas “Dango” Källgren and drummer Andre “Poncho” Kvarnström were joined by NYC locals Kings Destroy, Iron Tides and Mirror Queen on a surprisingly diverse and at times surprisingly aggressive lineup at the Vitus, and the night proved quickly to have been worth the commute there and back again. Mirror Queen, who were fresh back from a European jaunt with Tee Pee labelmates Earthless and The Atomic Bitchwax that included a stop at Stoned from the Underground sounded crisp and tight, and since the last time I saw them was on the Rocks off Concert Cruise in June, part of the fun this time out was watching their set not get toppled by the choppy waters of the East River.
Not that that wasn’t its own kind of excitement, I’m just saying it’s a little easier to get a sense of the chemistry between lead guitarist Phi Moon and guitarist/vocalist Kenny Sehgal when they can stand up and play. That chemistry, as it happens, is formidable and was in top form at the Vitus bar, Moon tearing into technically and spiritually engaging press-me-to-8-track classic rock solos on the right side of the stage while Sehgal, bassist James Corallo and drummer Jeremy O’Brien jammed out on “Into the Nebula” from the band’s 2011 outing, From Earth Below. A contingent of (apparently Australian?) bros in the front of the stage wearing red Truckfighters tanktops quickly let it be known they were going to be the biggest douchebags in the room for the duration, and much sweaty man-on-man-but-supposedly-not-at-all-homoerotic moshing and grabassery did ensue.
That didn’t impede enjoyment of Mirror Queen, however, who round out as they did the last time I saw them with a jam on Captain Beyond‘s “Mesmerization Eclipse.” It’s a bouncing groove that’s always welcome in my cranium, but it did little in the end to foretell the aggression that would come with Brooklynites Iron Tides, who arrived with their own floodlites and an assortment of homemade-looking amps and cabinets — but for the Verellen heads behind bassist/vocalist Markus — to remind of the raw volume and power of earliest Zoroaster while keeping an underlying touch of New York noise in the jagged playing of guitarist Matt. They were loud, angry and, well, let’s go with “loud” again. Drummer Michele locked in impressive grooves throughout, and though Iron Tides had an EP for sale in the back (got it) that came out last year mixed and mastered by Hull drummer Jeff Stieber, most of what they played was reportedly new.
It was easy enough to guess that by Markus‘ remembering on stage who started what song, which gave their set a bit of humor and charm to go with its aggressive churning and tonal push. Their lights triggered by foot-switches, Iron Tides were nonetheless cohesive in their aesthetic and tight through the more angular aspects of their sound, which were complemented by stretches of ambience driven by Matt‘s guitar, sometimes seeming to nod at earlier Isis but never fully giving itself over to the heavy/atmospheric tradeoffs that have by now become post-metal cliche. Though their sound was obviously much different, I’d put Iron Tides in a similar category to Brooklyn heavy acts like Blackout and Polygamyst, who also take various familiar elements and seem to be making efforts to craft something of their own from them. Their effort in this regard and overall fervor were appreciated.
Kings Destroy hit probably the angriest set I’ve ever seen them play. Tossing in older cuts like “The Whittler” and “Dusty Mummy” alongside the newer “Blood of Recompense,” “The Toe” and “Turul” from this year’s A Time of Hunting(go buy it), they only seemed to get more pissed off after the aforementioned tanktop brigade — who, by the way, all matched — got into some hooliganry with vocalist Steve Murphy as he came down from the stage. I noted when one of them tried to pull him off again, the result was a fast as-he-was-jumping-to-the-floor kick square to the chest — no doubt a move leftover from Murphy‘s days in Uppercut. Laughed a bit at that.
Despite the shenanigans, Kings Destroy were tight and heavy as ever, made only more malevolent for the meanness that seemed to accompany their delivery. By the time they got around to “The Whittler,” it was like they were throwing the songs at you. They’re probably the single band I’ve seen most over the last two-plus years (live reviews here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here) and I already look forward to seeing them with Pelican in October if I don’t run into them between now and then — they’re playing Vitus again on Thursday with Caltrop, should you happen to be in town– so please take it as coming from the voice of experience (oh yeah, their first record also came out on The Maple Forum, so there’s that) when I say that it wasn’t a put-on, or “show-anger.” Whatever it was, they played like they were fucking pissed off and it came through in the songs. Even “Turul” at the end was nastier than I’ve ever heard it, and while it’s always had a certain undefinable sneer, with the quiet riffing from guitarists Carl Porcaro and Chris Skowronski and the everyone-together-now timed hits driven by bassist Aaron Bumpus and drummer Rob Sefcik there isn’t much room for all-out belligerence. They made room.
There seemed like a long break between Kings Destroy and Truckfighters, but once the latter got on stage, they were hard to miss. The crowd seemed to know the opening riff to “Desert Cruiser” was coming even before Källgren started playing it, and once Cedermalm and Kvarnström joined in, they locked in immediately from the start. I knew from seeing them at Desertfest in April that even with the new drummer addition they were as riotous as ever, and even though Kvarnström is a quieter presence behind the kit than was Oscar “Pezo” Johansson, now of Witchcraft, “Desert Cruiser” and longer jams like “Chameleon” from 2007′s Phiand “Last Curfew” from 2009′s Maniawere as unbelievably tight as one could ask, the band stomping a sneaker print in the line between technical precision and showmanship as few can. I think Källgren alone put more energy into his performance than 90 percent of the entire bands I’ve seen this year, not including his own of course, jumping up and down, running back and forth, headbanging and all the rest.
And that’s the thing about Truckfighters. Because if they were just a band who got crazy on stage, you’d go, “Well okay, that’s cool,” and move onto the next thing. But not only are they out of their collective mind when they play, but over the years they’ve become increasingly progressive songwriters, so that a riff as epically memorable as that opening and comprising much of “Desert Cruiser” can exist next to a cut like “Majestic” from Mania, the sprawl of which outlasts even its 13-minute runtime, and they don’t miss a beat going from one to the next. Cedermalm tipped the mic into the crowd for the opening track, at one point Källgren jumped off the stage and made his way through to the bar in back of the Vitus, playing the whole time — I think it was during the jam on “Monte Gargano,” but don’t quote me on that — and when the set was over, Cedermalm also got off stage to add to his already considerable bass cacophony by running his strings on the torso of some kid in a Big Lebowski t-shirt. They’re fun to watch, but if they didn’t have the songs to back them up — which I’m glad to argue they do — they wouldn’t get beyond the novelty factor.
In the end, they obviously did, and I think they wore out the crowd in the process. I had competing impulses of exhaustion and dehydration fighting it out, but though I knew it was the wrong choice on a practical level, I didn’t at all regret inconveniencing later-me to see the show. Catching Truckfighters again as they started this tour was obviously the onus for my being there, but front-to-back it was a killer show. I didn’t make it all the way back to Massachusetts, but stopped in New Haven, CT, to crash for a few hours before resuming the trip this morning. I’ve felt like I got my ass kicked all day, but this one was well worth a beating.