Swans to Release Oxygen Digital EP Nov. 25

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 20th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

swans (Photo by Jennifer Church)

The track “Oxygen” from Swans‘ 2014 album, To be Kind (review here), is a fitting example of the way that record just kind of whams you in the face with sound. Edited by Mute Records founder Daniel Miller, it’s an even-more-pointed thrust and a quicker summary of the rhythmic insistence on hand throughout. I doubt that’s why it was chosen for release as a digital EP on Nov. 25 through Michael Gira‘s Young God Records anymore than the edit was done so they’d have a three-minute version to send to radio — the likely motivation is the usual; Swans put out a short or limited release in order to fund whatever they want to do next — but it winds up that way anyhow. That edit will be one of four versions of the track on Oxygen when it arrives at the end of next month.

Swans – who also put on one of the best shows I’ve seen all year — will also be reissuing their first album, 1983’s Filth, on vinyl Oct. 28. The PR wire invites us all to get schooled:

swans oxygen

SWANS RELEASE “OXYGEN” – DIGITAL EP, NOVEMBER 25

SWANS release a new EP, “Oxygen,” out digitally on November 25 2014. Featuring an edit of “Oxygen” by Mute founder Daniel Miller, a live version from Primavera, an early version recorded at Gira’s home and an acoustic version recorded at StudioMute, the title track of the four-track EP is taken from their latest album, ‘To Be Kind’, out now on Young God (Mute outside of North America).

Swans recently confirmed their biggest UK headline show yet, at London’s historic Roundhouse, on May 21 2015 plus an appearance at Drill : Brighton festival on Sunday December 7. Drill festival, curated by Wire, will include a one-off collaboration between Wire and Swans – full details over at www.drillfestival.com, this appearance follows the Michael Gira / Swans curated Mouth To Mouth festival in Utrecht on November 22 which Wire are also appearing at, full details over at http://leguesswho.nl/

In addition, Swans round off an incredible year which has seen the release of their critically acclaimed album, ‘To Be Kind’, with a remastered vinyl edition of their debut studio album, ‘Filth’, out on October 28 2014.

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), ‘The Seer’ (2012) and this year’s ‘To Be Kind.’

Swans are Michael Gira, Norman Westberg, Christoph Hahn, Phil Puleo, Thor Harris and Christopher Pravdica.

OXGYEN EP TRACKLISTING
Oxygen (Edit)
Oxygen (Live at Primavera)
Oxygen (Early Version)
Oxygen (Acoustic Version)

younggodrecords.com
www.facebook.com/SwansOfficial

Swans, “Oxygen (Daniel Miller Edit)”

Tags: , , , , ,

Naam Announce Extended Hiatus

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 9th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Just days after returning from a month-long European tour, Brooklyn four-piece Naam have effectively announced they’re calling it quits. The heavy psych/space rock forerunners have left the door open — or maybe that’s just wishful thinking — to regrouping at some point, but their headlining slot at the previously-announced Sludgefeast next month will serve as their final live appearance. No word as yet on whether the members of the band, guitarist/vocalist Ryan Lee Lugar, bassist John Preston Bundy, drummer Eli Pizzuto and keyboardist John Weingarten, will pursue other projects. I guess it’s early for that kind of thing.

Naam made their debut in 2009 with the Kingdom EP (review here), which sounds raw now compared to what the band would become over the course of their tenure but is nonetheless a landmark in the development of Brooklyn’s heavy scene. Signing to Tee Pee RecordsNaam released their self-titled debut full-length later that year (discussed here) and through years of work on the road, positioned themselves both among the label’s best acts and among Brooklyn’s most quality exports.

They’d go on to put out a 7″ of Nirvana covers, another EP in 2012’s The Ballad of the Starchild (review here) and a follow-up full-length in last year’s Vow (review here), which affirmed their status at the fore of American heavy space rock, the addition of Weingarten‘s keys not only distinguishing Vow from its predecessor, but becoming a crucial element in the band’s sound. More touring ensued — I think the best show I ever saw them play was at Desertfest London in 2013 — and Naam pushed their sound even further into cosmic manipulations earlier this year on a split with The Flying EyesBlack Rainbows and White Hills (review here). At the time, that seemed to herald continued growth and a new experimental bent in their approach that one hoped would continue on their next album.

Whether or not Naam regroup at some point, their legacy is set in their two albums and slew of other releases — they have a physical pressing of their Live in Berlin EP coming next year — but also in the grind they did on the road, touring for a month at a clip either in Europe or the US, pushing themselves to and apparently past the brink in an effort to get their music to as many people as possible. Their greatest statement was always made on stage, and as much as it’s a bummer to think they won’t have another studio outing anytime soon, the thought of not seeing them live again is even more of a downer. Brooklyn’s brand of heavy would not be what it is today without Naam‘s example to follow.

They announced the end thusly:

naam

We regret to inform you all that we have decided to take a very long hiatus and will not be performing or writing for many years and possibly ever again. We love all of you and greatly appreciate all of the support and good times you have given us over the years.

We will be playing our final show on November 15th in Brooklyn, New York at Sludgefeast with our buddys White Hills. We suggest buying your tickets now at the link below. We plan on going out with a bang.

Thanks again for everything and we will see you around. Peace.

http://www.ticketfly.com/purchase/event/683149?utm_medium=460163
https://www.facebook.com/KingdomOfNaam
https://twitter.com/Naamsongs

Naam, Vow (2014)

Tags: , , ,

Sun Voyager Update on Live Shows

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 6th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

sun voyager

I’ve been hoping for solid word of an LP release from New York heavy psych rollers Sun Voyager for a couple months now. Originally slated as a summer 2014 issue through King Pizza Records, their upcoming debut seems more likely for 2015 at this point, what with Fall’s big slowdown leading to Winter’s dead stop ahead, November fast approaching (sorry, I completely missed the point when August became September, let alone September becoming October) and December not far behind. It’s a traditionally lousy time for bands to put out albums, though some rebellious types invariably do, and with the swath of live shows Sun Voyager have slated, I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re into the New Year before their full-length surfaces. I think if you take a listen to the demo version of “Gypsy Hill” below, you can get a sense of why I’m feeling impatient to find out what these cats can do over the course of a while album.

They sent an update on gigs down the PR wire, as they tour through the Hudson Valley and beyond in NY:

sun voyager poster

Sun Voyager Fall Update

WHAT’S GOING ON EVERYBODY! Been a while… We miss you… And thank you so much for supporting us.

First off.. Here are a couple links where you can continue with your awesome support by clicking and following or liking or listening. Stay tuned for new music that will be released VERY soon.

Next WE HAVE QUITE A FEW SHOWS THIS MONTH

10/8 – The Cake Shop, New York, NY
10/10 – Brazen Head Pub, Monroe, NY
10/11 – Quinn’s, Beacon, NY
10/14 – Bowery Electric, New York, NY
10/18 – Radio Bushwick, Brooklyn, NY
10/23 – Unofficial CMJ Showcase @ Don Pedro, Brooklyn, NY
10/24 – Snug Harbor, New Paltz, NY
10/25 – Bard College, Annendale-on-Hudson, NY
10/26 – Arlene’s Grocery, New York, NY
10/31 – King Pizza Halloween Bash @ Don Pedro, Brooklyn, NY

Please help spread the word.

Also our label King Pizza just launched an awesome web store where you’ll be able to shop for all our future releases. http://kingpizzarecords.storeny.com

www.facebook.com/sunvoyagerband
www.twitter.com/sunvoyager_rock
spoti.fi/1lkAQ7I
http://www.rdio.com/artist/Sun_Voyager/
http://sun-voyager.bandcamp.com

Sun Voyager, “Gypsy Hill (Demo)”

Tags: , , ,

On Wax: Geezer, Gage

Posted in On Wax on October 2nd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

geezer-gage-lp-and-cover

Way less of a surprise when you put it on paper than when you hear it, but it’s amazing what an impact an additional 14 minutes of music can have on a release. Primo New York blues rockers Geezer issued their Gage EP last year digitally, but aligning with STB Records, they’ve made it available as a full 36-minute 12″ in limited pressings — the only one left at this point is the OBI strip version, and its availability is due to a manufacturing holdup; STB‘s witchcult grows — with notably gorgeous orange and red splatter work and a strikinggeezer-gage-side-a front cover from Alexander von Wieding. It’s a beautiful package, which isn’t a surprise to anyone who’s followed the development of the label, but just as noteworthy is the sound of Gage itself, which has gone from a loose collection of jams — the last of them, “Dude, it’s Molecular,” was recorded live — to a genuine LP.

Gage distinguished itself immediately from Geezer‘s Handmade Heavy Blues full-length by showcasing a more languid, heavy psych approach from guitarist/vocalist Pat Harrington, bassist Freddy Villano and drummer Chris Turco. They were still plenty bluesy — the die-hard edition of STB‘s release of Gage was pressed to black 190g vinyl to evoke a vintage 78rpm feel, and the music justifies that — but “Ancient Song” and “Ghost Rider Solar Plexus” unfolded a jammy spirit, easy-moving and grooved out, that the first album didn’t yet have, playing off the long-established chemistry between Harrington and Villano ingeezer-gage-front-cover Gaggle of Cocks but moving in a distinct direction. “Ancient Song” and “Ghost Rider Solar Plexus” opens and close side A, respectively, with the shorter slide-guitar blues number “Thorny” in between, a fuzzy distortion vague and buried in the background behind Harrington‘s surprisingly smooth vocal, a departure from his generally gruff, whiskey-soaked delivery.

“Thorny” has a bit of psychedelia to its echo, but the context of the track is completely different when one considers “Ancient Song” before it and “Ghost Rider Solar Plexus” after, the two longer jams fleshing out heavy vibes and, in the case of the latter, unfurling a heavy rock hook of a cadencegeezer-gage-back-cover that reminds of Halfway to Gone‘s “Great American Scumbag” while reveling in its own wall of fuzz on the way to its jammed-out payoff. Over on side B, “Tales of Murder and Unkindness” (14:27) doesn’t so much distinguish itself for how psychedelic it is, but how far-ranging. It’s almost three songs in one, with a spaced-out beginning, more straightforward play of verses and chorus, a chugging jam, riff-out and final hook marked out by the lines, “And when we come for you/There will be blood.” “Tales of Murder and Unkindness” manages to successfully flow from one movement to the next, ending with an Echoplex swirl that gives way on the LP to the live guitar noise that begins the jam “Dude, it’s Molecular,” a rolling groove emerging that the trio carries to a natural conclusion.

For anyone who might have heard Gage in its original incarnation, “Tales of Murder and geezer-gage-side-bUnkindness” gives the STB version a much different personality, fortunately without pulling away from the laid back vibe of the self-release, however foreboding the extended track might at times be. If anything, it signifies how much Geezer are still in the process of discovering their sound, and refining their approach to be more than just a blues side or a psychedelic side. I’d be interested to know when it was written in relation to, say, “Ancient Song,” but that’s only so I might be able to cheat and make a more educated guess as to where they might be headed next. I was intrigued to find out before, but with the vinyl of Gage, the plot’s just gotten that much thicker.

Geezer, Gage (2013/2014)

Geezer on Thee Facebooks

Geezer on Bandcamp

Gage at STB’s webstore

STB Records on Thee Facebooks

Tags: , , , , ,

Live Review: Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats and Danava in New York, 09.26.14

Posted in Reviews on September 29th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

uncle acid and the deadbeats 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

The tour had started two nights prior at Underground Arts in Philadelphia. The night before, they were in Boston, and it would’ve been a much shorter drive to hit that show, but it was my 10th wedding anniversary. A drive down to New York to pop into Manhattan and catch Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats with Danava at Bowery Ballroom didn’t seem unreasonable. Traffic on the way down, on the other hand, was. I still managed to get to the venue before they opened the doors to the upstairs room where the show was actually happening — I’d never seen a line inside the downstairs bar before — so though I felt like I was going to be late the whole danava 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)time, I still managed to get a spot up in front of the stage. Doomly serendipity.

Portland, Oregon’s Danava, who are veterans of Kemado Records, were the lone openers. A double-guitar foursome, they weren’t unknown to me, having made a somewhat less than favorable impression at Roadburn in 2012. I wasn’t looking forward to seeing them, to be quite honest. I don’t even remember what it was about their Roadburn slot that had me so irked — maybe just the simple fact that they were on before Conan and the room was so crowded– but by the time their set was three songs in, it was clear I was the one with the problem and not the band, who boogied down on winding ’70s-style riffage like they were born to do it, bangs-sporting guitarist/vocalist Gregory Meleny trading riffs with Pete Hughes, also of Sons of Huns, in a flurry of shuffle and push met head-on by the bass and drums, not quite retro but definitely skipping a couple decades in its influence.

It was a sold-out show, and people came early, so Bowery Ballroom was plenty packed for Danava‘s set. danava 2 (Photo by JJ Koczan)“Shoot Straight from a Crooked Gun” and “White Nights of Murder” from their most recent album, 2011’s Hemisphere of Shadows, were both aired, but the primary impression I had of them was mostly of my own jackassery after our paths last crossed. Again, not sure what my deal was or where the distaste came from, but they were more than solid and held the fickle attention of a Friday night Manhattan crowd. For that alone they deserve some measure of credit. I guess one of these days I’ll have to go back and dig into their records, but at least I know for the next time they come through that it’s worth showing up. Lesson learned.

Old tube televisions, one or two with built-in VCRs — there was a time when these things were a premium — were spread throughout Uncle Acid‘s amp backline, and they’d flicker on and off with static as part of the UK outfit’s lightshow, otherwise minimal. Guitarist/vocalists Kevin “Uncle Acid” Starrs and Yotam Rubinger and bassist/backing vocalist Dean Millar were backlit, their faces obscured, as the lights above switched colors from red to blue to green, orange, yellow, etc., each song in the set seeming to come with its own hue. Light-up cat’s eyes were attached to uncle acid and the deadbeats 2 (Photo by JJ Koczan)cymbal stands on either side of Itamar Rubinger‘s drum kit, and they remained on for the duration, feeding into the band’s schlock horror cultistry and malevolent mystique, the crowd eating it up from the start of “Mt. Abraxas” onward.

For a band to sell out a place like Bowery Ballroom is not an inconsiderable achievement, and NYC is far from the only city on the tour to receive the band thusly, but that it’s Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats‘ first run through the US only emphasizes the passionate response they have received. In the UK, they toured with Black Sabbath, and after a couple shows in London, they made their official live debut at Roadburn in 2013 with a slot on the Main Stage curated by Jus Oborn of Electric Wizard. Their two latest albums, 2011’s Blood Lust (review here) and 2013’s Mind Control (review here), are among the most lauded records in this half of the decade, and their influence is already being felt in a burgeoning movement of garage doom that one expects will only continue to grow. They’ve got a lot riding on their next full-length, but Uncle Acid are already a uncle acid and the deadbeats 3 (Photo by JJ Koczan)big fucking deal, and they were greeted accordingly in Manhattan, the audience roaring like something off a live record as the first recognizable strains of “I’ll Cut You Down” emanated from the stage.

I wouldn’t dare understate the power behind that song’s foreboding swing, murderous threat and otherworldly melody, but it was one highlight among several, “Crystal Spiders,” new single “Runaway Girls,” “Death’s Door,” “13 Candles” and “Mind Crawler” doling out rapturous hooks in Starrs‘ and Rubinger‘s vocals. They finished the regular set with “Withered Hand of Evil” and made an encore out of “13 Candles,” “Desert Ceremony” and the thudding “Devil’s Work,” a catchy finish but subdued in comparison to a lot of what preceded. No doubt this was by design, as was the entirety of the presentation, but the scale and realized sensibility with which Uncle Acid conjured up their demons and those of the multitudes in attendance — who almost to a head stuck through until the end — seemed to show a band rising to the occasion of the fervency they’ve induced. That is, while their ascendancy uncle acid and the deadbeats 4 (Photo by JJ Koczan)was already well underway by the time they started playing out, they’ve more than caught up with it. It would not be a surprise if on their next US tour, they play on even bigger stages.

Walking back the couple blocks to my car, it felt good to be back in New York. It had been a full year to the day since I last went to a show in Manhattan, which I think was the longest stretch I’ve had in more than a decade. I stopped into a cafeteria with some fantastic smelling Middle Eastern food and got a bottle of water for the road and then hit it, back up the FDR and toward the drunk-driver nightmare that was I-95 North heading into the weekend.

More pics after the jump. Special thanks to Jon Freeman for making this one happen and thanks to you as always for reading.

Read more »

Tags: , , , , , ,

It’s Not Night: It’s Space Launch New Video for “The Gathering”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 4th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

it's not night it's space

New Paltz final-frontiersmen It’s Not Night: It’s Space released their debut and most recent full-length, Bowing Not Knowing to What (review here), back in 2012. They were announced as having signed to Small Stone at some point last year and their new album is reportedly in progress, but no solid release date has been given yet. One imagines the instrumental trio will get there sooner or later, and in the meantime, Bowing Not Knowing to What still has plenty of cosmic delights to offer those who’d take it on, as the new video for “The Gathering” demonstrates.

The clip, which appropriately enough features a slug laced in with spaced-out B-roll, was put together by John Lutomski, brother of It’s Not Night: It’s Space drummer Michael Lutomski, and like the song itself, it’s a peaceful but increasingly foreboding build, cinematic in the sense of having grandeur, but ultimately weirder than you’d find in most movies. “The Gathering” does well in blending natural elements — flute, percussion — and a steady effects wash as it builds up, which makes sense considering it’s the leadoff on Bowing Not Knowing to What and the introduction to the rest of the album, but the languid ritualism is what carries through most of all, and in that it’s a fitting representation for what It’s Not Night: It’s Space have to offer.

That record, as well as the band’s 2011 debut EP, East of the Sun and West of the Moon, is available as a name-your-price download through Bandcamp, so there’s plenty of opportunity to get acquainted if you’ve yet to do so. It’s Not Night: It’s Space is Lutomski, bassist Tommy Guerrero and guitarist Kevin Halcott. and their new LP was recently performed in full at the New Paltz Rocks Fest over Labor Day weekend. More to come on the release, I’m sure.

Until then, enjoy “The Gathering” on the player below:

It’s Not Night: It’s Space, “The Gathering” official video

It’s Not Night: It’s Space on Thee Facebooks

It’s Not Night: It’s Space on Bandcamp

Tags: , , ,

Sun Voyager Debut LP Due this Fall

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…

Merch (we have new t-shirts): http://sunvoyager.bigcartel.com
Updates via social here: http://www.facebook.com/sunvoyagerband
http://sun-voyager.bandcamp.com/

Sun Voyager, “Gypsy Hill (Demo)”

Tags: , , ,

All Them Witches and King Buffalo Announce Tour Dates

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 Door full-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!!!!!!!!

See everyone soon

https://www.facebook.com/allthemwitches
http://allthemwitches.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/kingbuffalolives/
http://kingbuffalo.bandcamp.com/

King Buffalo, Demo (2013)

All Them Witches, Lightning at the Door (2013)

Tags: , , , , , ,

Blizaro, Strange Doorways: Leading to Stranger Places

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 Majicians demo, 2009’s The Old Wizard of Winter demo, 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 Doorways is 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 ChainReverend 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.

Read more »

Tags: , , , , ,

Tombs’ Savage Gold: Track-by-Track with Mike Hill

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 Gold pushes 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 Kings and 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 Hours debut, and of course, from Path of Totality until today and hopefully on from here.

No doubt at the end of 2014, you’ll find Savage Gold on 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

1. Thanatos

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

2. Portraits

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.

3. Séance

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.

4. Echoes

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.

5. Deathtripper

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.

7. Ashes

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.

8. Legacy

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.

10. Spiral

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.

Tombs, Selections from Savage Gold (2014)

Tombs on Thee Facebooks

Relapse Records

Tags: , , , , ,

Sun Voyager Post New Track; LP Due this Summer

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 Mecca left 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 Barbecues By, 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.

http://open.spotify.com/artist/2fttdCcRYj8Wrlg4pucIh9
http://kingpizzarecords.bandcamp.com/
http://sun-voyager.bandcamp.com
http://www.facebook.com/sunvoyagerband
http://www.twitter.com/sunvoyager_rock
http://sunvoyagerband.tumblr.com

Sun Voyager, “Gypsy Hill”

Tags: , , ,

Swans, To be Kind: Some Things They Do

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 Kind is 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.

Read more »

Tags: , , , ,

The Obelisk Radio Add of the Week: Neptune’s Inferno, Abyss

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.

Hear Abyss now as part of the 24/7 stream of The Obelisk Radio, and get a sampling of the album via the player below, snagged from the Neptune’s Inferno Bandcamp:

Neptune’s Inferno, Abyss (2014)

Neptune’s Inferno on Thee Facebooks

Death Valley Records on Thee Facebooks

Tags: , , , , ,

Swans Announce Extensive North American Touring in Support of To be Kind

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 RecordsMute 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” available exclusively 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

younggodrecords.com
www.facebook.com/SwansOfficial
https://www.youtube.com/user/OfficialSwans
mute.com
www.facebook.com/muterecords

Swans, “A Little God in My Hands” from To be Kind (2014)

Tags: , , , , ,

Geezer Make the Most of a Monday Night in “Pony” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 8th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

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 Buffalo vinyl 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.

Geezer, “Pony. A Music Film”

Geezer on Thee Facebooks

Geezer on Bandcamp

Tags: , , ,