The guitar playing is so paramount to Mountain‘s mega-classic 1970 debut, Climbing!, that I think sometimes Leslie West‘s string prowess trumps everything else, but while stellar, it’s far from all the record has to offer. Both West and bassist Felix Pappalardi shine as vocalists, and in addition to the cowbell overdose on “Mississippi Queen” and “Never in My Life,” Corky Laing‘s drums swing so heavy throughout that sometimes it seems a wonder they can move at all, let alone groove as voraciously as they do. From the organ-laced “Theme for an Imaginary Western” to the later acoustic semi-psychedelics of “The Laird,” Climbing! has versatility, poise and sonic and emotional heft. It is no coincidence that it came out in 1970 — a full 45 years ago as of this March — and so many groups went on to beef up their sound circa ’71 and ’72.
I won’t take away from the opener’s landmark status or the rhythm and blues at root in “Sittin’ on a Rainbow,” the subtle proto-prog of “Boys in the Band,” but I think for me the highlight of the album is “Silver Paper,” which gives a decidedly Northern take on a feel that Lynyrd Skynyrd would soon define exclusively as Southern rock, as it seems to draw together all sides of the record, Pappalardi and West trading off vocals, Laing doing much with a relatively straightforward drum progression, Steve Knight‘s hand bells and organ fleshing out the sound. That’s just as likely to change with any given mood though, Mountain positively nailing it as few acts ever have on their first record. Naturally that has its ups and downs as regards the entirety of a career, since while they called it Climbing!, they’d never — at least commercially, if not creatively — reach these heights again, though neither are their subsequent works or members’ contributions to outfits like West, Bruce and Laing (with Cream‘s Jack Bruce, who also wrote “Theme for an Imaginary Western”). An influence as enduring as Mountain has had doesn’t come from just one record, even a monster like this one.
Something of a given in the sphere of heavy rock, it’s an oversight that I haven’t closed out a week with Climbing! before. Actually, I thought I had until I went back and couldn’t find it, so there you go. I don’t imagine that this will be the first time hearing it for many who read this, but as an excuse to revisit it on a Friday afternoon — maybe you’re thinking about a kickass weekend coming up or even just not being at work for a couple days — I thought we could all do a lot worse.
As always, I hope you enjoy.
I didn’t get the chance to say it last week, but rest in peace Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor. The former drummer of Motörhead‘s passing reminds us of the power that band wields and the generations-spanning effect they have had on rock and roll and heavy musics of all stripes. The work remains but Taylor will be missed.
So, this post, or at least the above portion of it, was originally slated to go up last Friday evening, written in Philadelphia, to which I had flown from my work trip in Chicago on Thursday night. Obviously the attack in Paris superseded that and just about everything else. What a shitshow. Particularly as an American who was conscious when his country passed the Patriot Act late in Oct. 2001, it’s sad to see Europe closing its borders to refugees and to its neighbors, ending the Schengen Agreement, but panic is panic regardless of where it’s born. Now I’m hearing about hostages in Mali. Off to war, forever and always.
What were we talking about? Oh yeah, rock and roll.
Next week is a holiday here in the States, and I’ll be traveling to Connecticut and to New Jersey to see family, so I’m not sure how much posting I’ll be doing Thursday and Friday, but I’ll have a podcast up probably Wednesday in case I’m not the only one hitting the road. Monday and Tuesday I’ve also got reviews and full-album streams slated for Moon Curse and Tombstones, so there will be plenty to listen to one way or another.
Speaking of, if you didn’t check out the Kungens Män that went up today, the jams are right on and ripe for digging in. I was into it enough to chase down hosting it, so yeah.
I meant to mention it last week, but at this point I’m well into planning out the next Quarterly Review as well. I’ve got about six records slated for each of the five days when it will take place. I’m thinking maybe the week after Xmas for it, though that has it ending on New Year’s Day, and I don’t imagine too many people will really be interested in reading reviews. Maybe the first week in January? I’ll figure it out.
We’re almost getting on year-end list time too, and the readers poll. Dec. 1 is a Tuesday, so I’ll launch that then (with Slevin‘s always-appreciated assistance), and hopefully everyone will have the chance to chime in. I always get nervous with that kind of thing that nobody’s going to bother. Please bother.
Alright. I think that should do it.
Since I likely won’t get the chance to say so before the day actually comes, a very happy Thanksgiving if you’re here in the US. It’s based on a genocidal lie, but still nice to get everyone together. All the best to you and yours wherever you might be though. I hope you have a great and safe weekend, and please check out the forum and radio stream.
Posted in Whathaveyou on October 19th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
I don’t know if the next Swans album will actually be the last Swans album. The language, as mastermind Michael Gira had it, was “This will be the final Swans album (and subsequent tour) for this version / iteration of Swans.” Whether or not that means the band will continue is about as predictable as their music. In other words, I have no clue. They recently announced a new live record, though, to help fund the making of what may or may not be their last outing, and now comes news of two ’90s-era reissues, done up deluxe-style.
White Light from the Mouth of Infinity came out in 1991 and Love of Life came out in ’92, so to have them paired up as a vinyl box set makes sense. The numbers are limited, and as with most of the stuff Young GodRecords does in this vein, I’m sure they’ll be gone by the time the preorder ends, so yeah, if you’d want to get yourself a piece, you might want to do so with some expediency. Not trying to tell you your business or sell you anything — just pointing out the facts.
Info on the reissues follows, gently hoisted off the PR wire:
SWANS REISSUE WHITE LIGHT FROM THE MOUTH OF INFINITY & LOVE OF LIFE
LTD EDITION VINYL BOX / 3CD RELEASE
Swans continue their remastered reissues series on Young God Records in North America and Mute in other territorires with the release of White Light from the Mouth of Infinity and Love of Life on December 4, 2015.
The two albums will be initially released as a limited vinyl box set, presented in the original restored artwork, which includes paintings by Deryk Thomas. The 2500 micron black lined box – with original logo in silver foil block in black paper – will also include 2 rare posters, a CD of outtakes, rarities, contemporaneous live recordings and a download code for both albums.
In addition, White Light from the Mouth of Infinity and Love of Life will be available as a 3xCD set (which will include the bonus disc), as well as individual albums on vinyl and digitally.
White Light from the Mouth of Infinity, Swans’ seventh studio album originally released in 1991, is considered the starting point for the second section of Swans’ inimitable history. This will be the first time White Light from the Mouth of Infinity has been available on vinyl since its original release on Young God Records in 1991. The vinyl issue will include the track ‘Blind’, not included in the original release.
Love of Life, the band’s eighth studio album, followed soon after in 1992. The vinyl version of this album has also been unavailable since its original release.
Michael Gira recently announced that Swans are currently working on their last album in this “current incarnation”. The basic tracks and vocals were completed last month at Sonic Ranch studio in Texas with John Congleton as engineer, with Michael Gira producing. Further work will continue in Seattle and Berlin and the new album is expected to be released on Young God Records in North America and Mute Records in other territories in late spring 2016.
Posted in Whathaveyou on October 8th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
I know it’s not like King Buffalo have been sitting on their collective ass. The Rochester three-piece released a (gorgeous) split with Sweden’s Lé Betre on STB Records earlier this year (review here), took part in Magnetic Eye Records‘s Electric Ladyland [Redux] tribute to Jimi Hendrix (review here) and even found time to release their original 2013 demo (review here) as a limited flexi 7″, all in 2015. Nonetheless, I remain singularly impatient for the arrival of their debut full-length.
As of their most recent update on the subject — or at very least the most recent one I could find, which was August — they had most of the thing done, five of seven songs or some such, and were working toward finishing the rest. Could very well be that the record is done and that their upcoming tour next month, which they’ve dubbed the “Orion Tour 2015,” is named because Orion will be the title of the album. Do I know that? Nope. Maybe they just drew constellations out of a hat, or maybe it’s because Orion’s belt has three stars and there are three of them. Could be anything. I’m glad to see they’re busy, but make no mistake, it’s the album I’m waiting for.
In the interim, I was saying to The Patient Mrs. just the other day that I wanted to get back up to Portland, Maine, sometime soon. Maybe a King Buffalo show is just the occasion. Still wouldn’t be as far as I drove last time I saw them.
Tour is fast approaching friends. We are gonna be playing with a lot of awesome bands. Check out kingbuffalo.com for full details and buy some merch so we have some gas money for the van. See ya soon.
10/16 Stroundsburg, PA – The Living Room w/ King Dead 11/6 Kingston, NY – The Anchor w/ Geezer 11/7 Syracuse, NY – Westcott Ballroom w/ Outsideinside 11/11 Pittsburgh, PA – Gooskis 11/12 Columbus, OH – Ace of Cups w/ Mount Carmel 11/13 Nashville, TN – The Crying Wolf 11/14 Atlanta, GA – Bar 529 11/15 Winston-Salem, NC – The Garage 11/16 Raleigh, NC – Slim’s Downtown w/ Pinkish Black 11/17 Richmond, VA – Strange Matter w/ Book of Wyrms 11/18 Philadelphia, PA – Ortilebs Lounge w/ Bonfires and Meddlesome Meddlesome Meddlesome Bells 11/19 Newport, RI – The Parlor 11/20 Revere, MA – Sammy’s Patio 11/21 Portland, ME – Geno’s Rock Club 12/12 Rochester, NY – Bug Jar w/ All Them Witches and New Madrid
BAND MEMBERS: Dan Reynolds – Bass & Lights Scott Donaldson – Drums & Backing Vocals Sean McVay – Guitar & Lead Vocals
Posted in audiObelisk on October 8th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
This weekend, Upstate New York psych rockers Linear North will mark the release of their debut album, Mine is Yesterday, I Know Tomorrow, which is out on cassette via King Pizza Records. The trio are set to play two shows — in Brooklyn, where the label is based, and Albany, where they’re based — as a celebration with like-minded labelmates Sun Voyager, and the tape is indeed something worth celebrating, following a 2012 demo and 2013 digital EP, called Singles, both of which have tracks resurfaced into the 32-minute/six-track full-length. An immediately spacious vibe on the seven-minute longest and opening cut (immediate points) “13 Year Sugar Maple” casts an echoing, sunshiny vibe, and as the record plays out, shifting into the shorter, more garage-minded “Into the Light” and through its remaining cuts, the groovy post-this-and-that vibes only grow more expansive.
Comprised of guitarist/vocalist Bob Forget, bassist Shane Williams and drummer Ryan Render, Linear North offer some of their most languid dreaminess on “Mountains,” which opened the EP, ends side one of the tape and successfully executes a subtle build in the guitar and bass while maintaining a liquid wash, patient groove, and in the drums, a steady roll that eases smoothly into the peak, recedes, and rises again to finish out. “Spectrum Eyes,” which starts out side two, is more straight-ahead weighted in its initial push, but has its shoegazing feel as well, Williams‘ bass pushing it into highlight territory beneath Forget‘s reverb-soaked croon. Though “Spectrum Eyes” is riffier, I think “Rapture” might have it beat for the sheer buzz factor, a spaced-out grunge taking hold and making a primarily melodic impact nonetheless by the end of it, swirling all the while.
That leaves just “Weigh,” with its low-end foundation and swinging, tambourine-inclusive rhythm, to finish out. Three years have passed since it was included on their first demo, but it makes a fitting closer for Mine is Yesterday, I Know Tomorrow, teasing an explosion in its pulsating verses while winding up on an entirely more fluid trip. Yeah, it picks up and goes nuts at the end, but that’s only half the point, and even that’s more of a morphing shift than sudden leap from quiet to loud. Pacing of transition would seem to be a specialty in what I guess one would still rightly call Linear North‘s early days.
I think you can get a sense of that even from the heavier thrust of “Spectrum Eyes,” which you can hear on the player below. I think Linear North might have the whole record on Bandcamp as well, so check there if you haven’t, but either way, I’m glad to be able to feature the track as a sampler for anyone who feels like getting lost in it.
Show info under the player. Enjoy:
October 9th “Mine is Yesterday, I Know Tomorrow” will be available on Cassette and Download courtesy of King Pizza Records. We’ll be celebrating all weekend long in Brooklyn and Albany. In the meantime check out our bandcamp and all the other awesomeness that comes from King Pizza Records!
October 9th and 10th are just around the corner. We’re looking forward to playing in Brooklyn and Albany again. The Albany show at the Fuze Box will be our 100th gig!
We also have our first show of November on Friday the 6th at The Anchor in Kingston with Geezer, Shadow Witch and King Buffalo. More dates to come!
Friday October 9th – Brooklyn, NY – Don Pedro’s w/ Sun Voyager and Wet Socks Saturday October 10th – Albany, NY – Fuze Box w/ Sun Voyager & Mod fiction
Posted in Reviews on September 29th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Day one down, four more days to go. I forget each time how different it is writing shorter reviews as opposed to the usual longer ones, but kind of refreshing to bust through something, force myself to say what needs to be said as efficiently as possible and move on. Reminds me of working in print, with word counts and such. Only so much room on the page. Not something that usually comes up around these parts, but I guess it’s good to keep that muscle from complete atrophy. Though taking that line of thought to its natural conclusion, I have no idea why. Anyway, feeling good, ready to take on another 10 records, so let’s roll.
Fall 2015 Quarterly Review #11-20:
Holy Sons, Fall of Man
It would be hard to overstate the smoothness with which Emil Amos, who serves integral creative and percussive roles in both Grails and Om, brings different styles together on Fall of Man, his second album for Thrill Jockey under the Holy Sons solo moniker and upwards of his 11th overall. An overriding melancholy vibe suits dark, progressive pop elements on the opener “Mercenary World,” Amos at the fore playing all instruments and still vocalizing like a singer-songwriter, while the later wash of “Being Possessed is Easy” takes on ‘90s indie fragility and turns what was purposeful minimalism into an expanse of melody and “Discipline” creeps out lyrically while forming experimentalist soundscapes around a steady line of acoustic guitar. Joined by bassist Brian Markham and drummer Adam Bulgasem on “Aged Wine” – the only other players to appear anywhere on Fall of Man – Amos leads the trio through soaring leads and heavier crashing to give the album a crescendo worthy of its scope, which while astounding on deeper inspection presents itself with simple, classic humility.
WEEED, Our Guru Leads us to the Black Master Sabbath
From the opening drone-groan throat-singing of the 14-minute “Dogma Dissolver,” it seems like not-quite-Seattle trio Weeed are making a run for the title “Most Stoned of the Stoner” with their second full-length, Our Guru Leads us to the Black Master Sabbath. They earn that extra ‘e.’ A double-LP on Illuminasty Records, the album is a 54-minute trip into low tone and deep-running vibe, spaced way out, and well at home whether jamming heavy and hypnotized on “Rainbow Amplifier Worship” – a highlight bassline – or nestling into an ambient stretch like “Bullfrog” preceding. Mostly instrumental, Weeed hit their most active in “Enuma Elish” and then chill and strip back to acoustics and sax (yup) for the Eastern-flavored “Caravan Spliff,” bringing back the throat-singing in the process. How else to finish such a work than with the 15-minute “Nature’s Green Magic,” a 15-minute push along a single build that goes from minimal, pastoral acoustics to nod-on-this megastoner riffing? Weeed might be going for the gold, but they end up in the green, and somehow one imagines they’ll be alright with that. They get super-ultra-bonus points for sounding like Kyuss not even a little.
Formed in 1999 and having made their full-length debut a decade later with The Shadow Tradition (review here), last heard from in a 2012 split with Boise’s Uzala (review here), Austin, Texas, doomly five-piece Mala Suerte return with the 10-track Rituals of Self Destruction, which moves past its four-minute intro into chugging The Obsessed-style trad doom with a touch of Southern heavy à la Crowbar and a generally metallic spirit in cuts like “Utopic Delusions” that gets expanded on later cuts like the swirling, crawling almost Cathedral-ish “Labyrinth of Solitude.” Comprised of forward-mixed vocalist Gary Rosas, guitarists David Guerrero and Vincent Pina, bassist Mike Reed and drummer Chris Chapa (now John Petri), Mala Suerte sound as rueful as ever across the album’s span, rounding out with the hardcore sludge of “Successful Failure” and “The Recluse,” which builds from slow, brooding chug to a more riotous finish. It’s been a while, but it’s good to have them back.
Guitarist/vocalist Ken Wohlrob leads Brooklyn’s Eternal Black through the riffy doom of their debut self-titled three-track EP. Unpretentious in the style’s tradition, the trio is anchored by Hal Miller’s bass and pushed forward by the drums of Joe “The Prince of Long Island” Wood (also of Borgo Pass), the rolling groove of Sabbathian opener “Obsidian Sky” setting the tone for straightforward, few-frills darkness, and Eternal Black follow it up with the workingman’s doom of “The Dead Die Hard” and “Armageddon’s Embrace,” the former started out with an extra lead layer before it unfurls the EP/demo’s most satisfying crawl, and the latter a little more swinging, but still Iommic metal at its core, Wohlrob’s gruff vocal and Wino-style riff backed by Miller’s deep-mixed rumble as Wood goes to the cowbell/woodblock (it’s one or the other) during the guitar solo. Even if Joe Wood wasn’t one of the best human beings I’d ever met, it would still be pretty easy to dig what these cats are doing, and it’ll be worth keeping an eye for how they follow this first installment.
Austin, Texas-based trio Were-Jaguars have already issued a follow-up EP to their earlier-2015 second album, II, but from its opening and longest track “Between the Armies” (immediate points), the three-piece dig into weirdo psych vibes and dense tones across their latest full-length, released through respected Russian purveyor R.A.I.G. Not at all a minor undertaking at 13 tracks, 68 minutes, it gets into garage ritualism in “Let My Breath be the Air” and unfolds immediate doomadelia on “Bishop Kills Enchanter,” but if you need confirmation that Were-Jaguars – the three-piece of Chad Rauschenberg, James Adkisson and Rick McConnell – aren’t just screwing around in these songs and lucking into a righteous result, let it come on the later “Lost Soul,” which melds a flowing instrumental roll to a host of spiritual and pseudo-spiritual samples, loses itself completely, and then returns at the end to finish cohesive, engagingly complex and sure in the knowledge that all has gone to plan. Figuring out what that plan is can be a challenge at times, but it’s there.
The Fuzzonaut split between Mexico’s Vinnum Sabbathi and Bar de Monjas takes its name from the closing track, provided by the latter act, but it serves as a fitting title for the work as a whole as well. Vinnum Sabbathi launch the six-track offering with “HEX I: The Mastery of Space,” a slow-rolling instrumental topped by samples pulled from rocket launches, and after the 1:45 droning interlude “Intermission (Fluctuations),” they melt their way into the companion “HEX II: Foundation Pioneers,” doomier in its chug, but similarly-minded overall in intent, with the warm bass, copious samples, and planet-sized riffing. Though their portion is shorter overall, Bar de Monjas answer back with relatively upbeat push in “Hot Rail,” winding up in stoner rock janga-janga before stomping their way into “The Ripper,” cowbelling there as part of an impressively percussed spin and capping with “Fuzzonaut” itself, a shroomy 7:45 creeper with big-riff bursts that rises and recedes effectively, ending with a long residual hum.
An immediate touchstone for the droning pastoral drear that Saskatoon three-piece Black Tremor elicit on their four-song debut EP, Impending, is Earth’s HEX: Or Printing in the Infernal Method, but the newcomer trio distinguish themselves immediately with an approach that replaces guitar with violin, so that not only can Black Tremor tie into these atmospheres, they can do so in a way that speak to country roots in a way their forebears didn’t at the time date. Bassist Alex Deighton, violinist Amanda Bestvater and drummer Brennan Rutherford have only just begun the work of developing their sound, but already nine-minute opener “The Church” and its buzzing follow-up “Rise” prove evocative and come across as more than exercises in ambience. “Markhor” hits with an even heavier roll and an almost Melvinsy undertone, while the title-track makes its way through horse-trod mud to emerge at the end not only clean but positively bouncing. It’s still pretty dark, but they’ve given themselves a vast Canadian Midwestern expanse to explore.
A bright tonal bliss pervades There’s Nothing, the Rock Ridge Music debut long-player from Nashville all-lowercase psychedelic post-rockers aave. The band court indie progressivism across the album’s eight component tracks, but with just one song over four minutes long – closer “Turn Me Off” (4:30) – there’s little about it that feels overly indulgent or beyond the pale stylistically. That is to say that while aave set a sonic course for great distances, they get to where they’re going efficiently and don’t hang around too long in one place. That has its ups and downs in terms of vibe, but the resonant vocal melodies of “Nothing Here” – hard not to be reminded of Mars Red Sky’s sweet emotionality, but there are other comparisons one might make – the focus remains grounded in an accessibility that goes beyond getting lost in dreamy guitars. Aesthetically satisfying, they find an intense moment in the later thrust of “Blender,” but even that retains the overarching wistful sensibility of what’s come before and that unites the material throughout.
Spacious, melodic and entrancingly heavy, Derelics’ debut EP, Introducing, indeed makes a formidable opening statement, and in a crowded London scene of post-Orange Goblin burl and Downy sludge, the trio set more progressive ambitions across “To Brunehilde,” “California” and “Ride the Fuckin’ Snake to Valhalla,” psych-funking up the centerpiece after the grooving largesse of the opener en route to the wider-spreading tones of the closer, guitarist/vocalist Reno cutting through his and bassist Nacim’s tones easily with higher-register vocals that push the limits of his range as he encourages one to “ride that fuckin’ snake,” before cutting out to let drummer Rich lead the charge with toms through a build-up bridge that returns to the echoing fullness conjured earlier, ending on a long-fading organ note. An encouraging first offering from the three-piece, and hopefully they continue develop along an original-sounding path as they move ahead. Already they seem to show a knack for melding atmospherics and songwriting toward the same ends.
True to its krautrock-style cover art, Desert Brain, the third outing from Detroit’s Sisters of Your Sunshine Vapor, has an element of prog at work within its psychedelic unfolding. But that’s reasonable. With four years since their second release, Spectra Spirit (review here), and the inclusion of bassist/keyboardist Eric Oppitz and drummer Rick Sawoscinski with guitarist/vocalist Sean Morrow, the dynamic in the band has legitimately shifted, even though Oppitz (who also did the aforementioned cover art) has recorded all three of their records. Still, they keep the proceedings fluid across the two vinyl sides, finding their inner garage on “Major Medicine” and tripping out easy on “What’s Your Cloud Nine, 37?” on side A before digging in with fuzz and push on side B’s “The Prettiest Sounds of Purgatory” and stretching into ritual stomp on the title cut. All the while, they’re drenched in vibe and a flow that’s languid even as it’s running you over, and while some songs barely have a chorus, they implant themselves in the mind anyway, almost subliminally.
Posted in Whathaveyou on September 3rd, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
I like it that even when Swans get into crowdfunding, they do it in a way that’s both completely awesome and entirely their own. To help raise money toward the completion of what’s been announced as their final studio album in this form, the New York genre-defilers have issued The Gate, a new live double-album pressed in a one-time-only edition of 2,500 copies with exclusive glimpses at early versions of new songs — demos also included — that will make their way onto said final album, and customized artwork, signed editions, and other price-tiered extras available. They’ve done this kind of one-release-supports-the-next fundraising before, and it’s worked, and I have a hard time imagining that by the time this post is live, the bulk of The Gate won’t be gone. Get it while you can, is what I’m saying.
This from the PR wire:
SWANS HANDMADE 2XLIVECD, THE GATE, LIMITED TO 2500 COPIES IS AVAILABLE EXCLUSIVELY NOW AT YOUNGGODRECORDS.COM. THIS IS A FUNDRAISER EVENT IN SUPPORT OF THE UPCOMING NEW SWANS STUDIO ALBUM.
A NOTE FROM MICHAEL GIRA / SWANS:
We are in the process and making and assembling an edition of 2500 handmade live 2xCD packages and we are accepting orders now at younggodrecords.com. This is part of a tiered system whereby our dedicated listeners can voice their support for the upcoming new Swans album by choosing one or all of several options presented in order to aid us in our journey towards discovering and subsequently nourishing ourselves (and those who might care to travel with us) within a fresh new constellation of sound. Here below is what I’ve written in a newsletter that has been sent to our friends and supporters:
“…Hello There, Michael Gira of Swans here. I thought that, since you signed up to our newsletter, you might be interested to know that the 2xCD live SWANS handmade fundraiser event/portal of support for our (in)glorious efforts is now up at this link. The live 2xCD is called The Gate. I believe it captures the live SWANS experience effectively. The woodblock print is by Nicole Boitos and I draw all over each one and sign it as well. Each one is unique. They’re numbered 1 – 2500 and won’t be available elsewhere… The upcoming album (as yet untitled) will be the last with this core group (comprised of my beautiful friends Norman, Christoph, Thor, Phil, Christopher and myself) and the subsequent (marathon) tour in 2016 will be our last together. As such, I am determined to make this album the most fully realized, cataclysmic, subtle and nuanced, heartfelt and inspirational, truthful and luminous recording that we have yet undertaken. As always, your valued (and quite necessary) support in this perhaps quixotic endeavor is sincerely appreciated. I love you! I thank you!…”
The rapport this group has developed over the last 5 plus years is a gift for which I will remain forever grateful. In live performance it has sometimes lead us to unleash a sound that is not only greater than us but seems to swallow us into its own immanent consciousness and will. It feels great! Oftentimes I’ve spoken to people in the audience after a show and they’ve expressed similar notions. My sentiment at these moments is that I’m delighted to have been of service, but can’t really take responsibility for it, since it’s beyond us too. So, following the final 2016 touring cycle with the wonderful cadre of talented individuals mentioned above, I will continue to record and perform (though perhaps less frequently) using the name Swans, on a project-by-project basis. Acutely aware that the psychic connection with which we’ve been blessed is irreplaceable, I will instead pursue the ever-elusive pathway alluded to above through other means. You can read more about this and other ephemera at the link above.
A trailer for the DVD that will accompany the new studio album, in progress, is available for viewing.
Posted in Whathaveyou on July 24th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Kind of sad to have an end-date put on the Swans reunion, which has to-date produced three expansive studio outings since 2010 — those being that year’s My Father Will Guide Me up a Rope to the Sky (review here), 2012’s The Seer and 2014’S To be Kind (review here) — as well as countless tours domestic and abroad, taking the reactivated New York avant gardians around the world and back again. But I get it. Michael Gira, founder, bandleader and wrangler of storms, probably has other things in mind. Maybe a return from Angels of Light‘s dark Americana is in order, or something new altogether. Either way, Swans‘ return has produced some of the richest and most visceral audio of the last half-decade, and we’re fortunate to have had them back while we did.
Of course, there will be more to come before they actually split, I’m sure. Having just finished the touring cycle for To be Kind, Swans will issue a live album — to be titled The Gate and no doubt immediately sell out upon being made available; once again denying me my limited Swansy goodness — and set to recording their “final” studio outing, which I put in emphatic quotes because one never really knows what’s going to happen.
As a general note to anyone who hasn’t seen Swans in this iteration yet. Do it. Even if you don’t like the band, not seeing them live is something you’ll regret.
Okay, here’s word from Gira:
Just got home comatose after finishing up the final leg of our 14 month tour for Swans To Be Kind album. We have come to your town, though it’s doubtful we have partied down. It has been a privilege to be inside the sound that on some nights seems to create itself of its own accord, and it’s gratifying that many of you have conveyed to us that it’s been a positive experience for you too… Next step: Sept 1 we commence a new Swans album. This will be the final Swans album (and subsequent tour) for this version / iteration of Swans. Not really sure what the next step will be after that, but that’s perhaps a good thing… We’ll be making a live album/fundraiser (called The Gate) soon, in order to raise the necessary – somewhat daunting – capital for the studio album, which is bound to be an insatiable beast… more soon, Thanks and Love! – Michael Gira
The seeds for what has become the first installment of a Ripple Music series of splits titled The Second Coming of Heavy would seem to lie in the label’s 2011 release Heavy Ripples (review here). While not nearly as ambitious in its title, that offering was a double 7″ that featured four bands — Stone Axe, Grifter, Mighty High and Sun Gods in Exile — who were intended to represent Ripple‘s view of the future of heavy rock, or at very least some underground bands who deserved the exposure that teaming up might bring them. As an opening chapter, The Second Coming of Heavy: Chapter One – The Risen has a loftier feel in terms of its aspirations but also takes a different, more pragmatic approach. It’s a 12″ instead of a double-7″, and it halves the number of acts involved perhaps in an effort to make the idea more sustainable, bringing together Washington D.C. riff-riders Borracho and New York heavy blues specialists Geezer.
Pressed in three separate editions of 100 copies each and set to release Saturday morning, the question as regards The Second Coming of Heavy isn’t whether or not the copies will go, but how fast. Borracho and Geezer are both fairly proven entities when it comes to moving units — the former having had vinyl for both of their full-lengths to date and the latter having seen their Gage LP gone more or less before the news was out about its release. I haven’t yet seen a full tracklisting made public for the 12″, and they also seem to be keeping the back cover a secret, but both bands have posted tracks in advance of the official arrival date, Borracho unveiling “Fight the Prophets” and Geezer getting loose with “Tonight.”
For Borracho, the D.C. three-piece released a split earlier this year with Brooklyn stompers Eggnogg (review here), but “Fight the Prophets” finds them swinging a little looser, a little more boldly than they were on their last full-length, 2013’s Oculus (review here), which was the first to feature guitarist Steve Fisher on vocals. Here, he’s all over the swinging groove from bassist Tim Martin and drummer Mario Trubiano, and they sound more comfortable in their sound than they have yet. The mix sounds similar to “King’s Disease” from the aforementioned Eggnogg split, so I’d wonder if “Fight the Prophets” isn’t from the same session, but either way, their next LP has been one to look out for, and their work at least on this track doesn’t lessen that impression in the slightest.
To contrast, Geezer‘s first audio to be made public is something of a shift from the rolling grooves and blues-inflected vibes one has come to expect. A turn toward the upbeat makes “Tonight” a particularly driving offering, marked out with let’s-get-this-show-started energy from the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Pat Harrington, bassist Richie Touseull and drummer Chris Turco. The trio toured their way into the Midwest this spring — you might recall they issued the single “Long Dull Knife” to mark the occasion — but “Tonight” is as propulsive as I’ve yet heard them get, and the song succeeds because it also manages to hold onto that classic heavy rock/blues feel, resulting in shuffle just begging for crowd participation. One hopes they have occasion to get it soon.
Again, the 12″ is out this Saturday on Ripple. More info and the preorder link follow the songs, both of which are below.
Borracho, “Fight the Prophets”
Nearly a year in the making, Ripple Music is thrilled to finally unleash the first chapter in the ongoing, limited-edition split 12″ series, The Second Coming of Heavy. Featuring gorgeous art (OBI Cover shown above) by Ghosttown Graphic Art, The Second Coming will feature the best, underground, up-and-coming heavy bands on the planet, with Chapter One featuring stoner blues rockers Geezer, and heavy fuzz monsters, Borracho. Each chapter will come in three editions, shown below, strictly limited to a maximum of 100 each, with no repress. Expect a new chapter to drop about every 3-4 months!
The OBI Edition features a killer, individually number, wraparound OBI strip designed by Ghosttown Graphics. The front is shown above, wait until you see the back! Vinyl is two-tone translucent green and black splatter. Limited to 100 pieces.