Review & Full Album Stream: Bismut, Schwerpunkt

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on October 22nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

bismut schwerpunkt

[Click play above to stream Bismut’s Schwerpunkt in its entirety. Album is available to preorder from Lay Bare Recordings here.]

Nijmegen trio Bismut bill themselves as ‘instrumental psych desert metal,’ and unsurprisingly, there’s a bit to unpack there. They’re a relatively new entity, having just formed in 2016 with guitarist Nik Linders, bassist Huibert der Weduwen and drummer Peter Dragt, and their first album is Schwerpunkt, a four-song/41-minute collection offered up on vinyl through Lay Bare Recordings (Pink Tank Records seems to have had some manner of involvement as well). Instrumental is pretty self-explanatory. Sure enough, they’re a sans-vocals operation. And fair enough. 14-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Borgerskapet” makes it pretty clear from the outset that the kinds of expanded structures with which Bismut are working throughout the release wouldn’t really support vocals anyway. And what are you going to do, shout over the 10-minute side B leadoff “Gewapende-Magte?” Then you’d just have noise rock, and I don’t see that listed anywhere in the above.

After instrumental comes psych. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but if we’re talking heavy psychedelic rock of the European order with drifting airy guitars and a presentation coated in effects, the descriptor simply doesn’t apply. As regards Schwerpunkt, which was recorded live in its entirety and mixed by the band with mastering by Pieter Kloos, there is a spacious motion in the back half of closer “Czar” before the tense chugging of the song’s apex, but it’s more of the post-metallic sort. That is, more methodical than exploratory — Bismut have a direction in mind and are working to get there. It’s not just about hypnotizing the listener with repetition, but about the heavier context in which that movement happens. Second cut “Stórborg” has a bit more effects in its early going, though this resolves itself by the song’s midpoint into a tense, winding progression and finally into a slowdown of Melvinsian riffmaking. And sure, one can hear some Earthless in “Borgerskapet” if the ear is twisted just so. So psychedelic? Maybe here and there.

Let’s assume “desert” is a stand-in for capital-‘h’ Heavy — because that certainly applies — or tossed in the way some bands still use the designation “stoner” or “riff” as a designation for their rock. To me, desert rock — regardless of its geographic origin or the actual terrain in that place — is a question of melding tonal fullness with a root punk influence. Sabbath might be a factor but they’re by no means the only one. Bismut don’t really play desert rock in the Kyuss/Yawning Man/Fatso Jetson sense of the subgenre, but if one considers the age of expanded definition in which we live, then there’s really no reason the “desert” really has to be anything more than a dogwhistle for an affiliation with underground heavy. And that’s mostly how it functions. Listening to Schwerpunkt — the title of which translates to “main focus” or “center of gravity” — the prevailing sensibility is most certainly heavy, but there’s a fluidity to the rhythmic play and the swaps in tempo that makes “desert” feel a little like it’s cheating the actual complexity of what’s playing out in the flow of “Gewapende-Magte” or “Stórborg,” with its final push of churning plod.

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The upshot is that while there are loyalists, “desert” can mean any number of things at this point, and it usually does. If Bismut had gone with “heavy” instead, it might be more accurate, but it would confuse the use of “metal,” since of course heavy metal has a context all its own. And metal is perhaps second in accuracy only to “instrumental” when it comes to the band’s presumably-self-imposed sound tag, because it considers in a way that “psych” or even “desert” does not the aggression with which Bismut underscore and execute their material. It’s not metal in the chestbeating, dude-for-dudes kneejerk abrasive sense of the word, but there’s a purpose and a charge to what Bismut do, and whether it’s the fluidity in “Borgerskapet” or the snare-and-chug in “Gewapende-Magte,” the band plays with purpose and conviction on their debut album. If that makes them metal, then so be it. Metal it is.

A missing word in all of this is “progressive,” since the one thing Bismut don’t seem to account for in their sound at least as it appears on Schwerpunkt is the consideration in each song of where that song is going. I don’t know how much of each song was left up to happy accidents in the recording — the bass bounce of “Czar,” maybe, and some of the swirl in “Stórborg” — but even those inherently off-the-cuff moments that happen as a result of a band performing live in the studio are brought into the underlying mission behind the album, and are made purposeful simply by their inclusion and the fact that by being there, they play a crucial role in Bismut‘s intent for what their first album should be. One might also consider “atmospheric” an both an acknowledgement of the post-metallic aspects in “Czar” and the general affecting nature of the songwriting as a whole. It’s not just an album about mood, but even through the energetic live recording there can be heard a budding sense of patience in their execution that may or may not come further toward fruition on subsequent outings.

Maybe “raw atmospheric heavy” as a revised descriptor? “Raw” acknowledges the priority of capturing the three of them in the room together, the stage-ready element of their sound. “Atmospheric” brings in the purposeful nature of their sonic reach, and “heavy” functions as a characterization of tone and mindset alike. It’s not perfect, but it’s a start. Whatever Bismut decide to call themselves in the longer term, while indicative of how they think about the music they’re making, is of course ultimately secondary to the making of that music. Perhaps most importantly, they give their audience with Schwerpunkt something to dig into and elicit a response and engagement on the part of the listener. They’ve been building a reputation in the Netherlands — enough to attract the attention of Lay Bare, which is bound to serve as positive reinforcement — and listening to the album, it’s easy to hear why. Even in this “raw” modus, with the emphasis put on basic performance rather than a lush studio construction, Bismut show themselves as opening a conversation on Schwerpunkt instrumentally with themselves — which indeed might be their center of gravity — and with their audience, whose interaction, regardless of the interpretative quibbles they might bring to it, is a triumph in itself.

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Bismut Post Video for Debut Single “Buntovnost”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on February 28th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

bismut

Netherlands-based three-piece Bismut are using their debut single in precisely the right way. For a band like this — instrumental, heavy, grooving and with ambitions toward a blend of structured and freeform songwriting, a lone track like “Buntovnost” is just the thing to pique audience interest and leave people curious as to what might come next. At very least, that’s how it worked out with me as I made my way through the nine-minute groover, asking myself where the band might go from here and how their apparent method — show up in the studio with something of a plan, work around it more than directly from it — might continue to develop in the future, either becoming invariably more or less rigid over time.

If I had to guess as to a direction listening to “Buntovnost,” I’d bet on Bismut — the Nijmegen trio of Huibert, Peter and Nik — getting jammier over time, as often happens with bands like this as their chemistry continues to develop in the studio and on stage, but the fact that “Buntovnost” was “partially improvised” and recorded live in five takes in the studio makes me think there’s an element of perfectionism at play as well, and it could be interesting to hear if and how that flourishes in their sound too, and if, no matter how far out they might go in veering from it ultimately, they stick to using a central plan in their work going forward.

Man, new bands are fun.

The underlying point? There’s potential here. We don’t yet know what Bismut will be sound-wise — and please don’t quote me on any of the speculation above (unless I’m right); the band could just as easily pull a Wight and go funk-reggae out of the blue, and really, who saw that coming? — But that “Buntovnost” triggers the imagination to wonder about such things in its chugging, turning, energized nine-minute stretch is emblematic of their potential as a whole. “Buntovnost” is available as a name-your-price download at their Bandcamp and they’ve also got a brand new video for it that you can see below if you’re so inclined.

More info follows from the PR wire. Please enjoy:

Bismut, “Buntovnost” official video

“Buntovnost” by Bismut. Recorded live in the studio and partially improvised. This is the best version of 5 takes. No edits. Enjoy! This track was recorded live at Studio 888 and mixed and mastered by Bismut. Recorded and Edited by NNfilm: http://nnfilm.nl

Some Footage by Gusto Video Producties: http://gustoproducties.nl

From explosive and experimental jam sessions in the caverns of the Nijmegen underground arose Bismut. Infinite jamming resulted in an oasis of psychedelic excesses, vicious riffing and heavily drawn-out grooves. After their debut performance in November 2016, the three guys played many kick-ass shows in the Netherlands and abroad. The performances of Bismut are dynamic, intense and straightforward.

In 2018 the band’s focus will be on recording their first full-length which is expected to be released in oktober on the in Hamburg based label, Pink Tank Records.

Bismut is Huibert, Peter and Nik.

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Shaking Godspeed Post “Future Boogie” Video; New Album Due this Fall

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 8th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

Based out of Nijmegen in the Netherlands, the heavy rocking four-piece Shaking Godspeed released their last full-length on Drakkar Records in 2013. Hoera and Awe combined two prior releases — Hoera and Awe, go figure — into one double-album that was a solid listen and emphasized the quality of songwriting in Shaking Godspeed‘s approach, but might’ve been a bit much for listeners just getting on board. Their current single, the Future Boogie b/w Tombstone Talk 7″ on Suburban Records, pressed in cardboard sleeves with hand-screened logos on the cover, makes for a much more gradual introduction.

The song reportedly (and by that I mean according to the band and I don’t think they’d lie about this kind of thing) deals with themes of technology and the seemingly inevitable advent of artificial intelligence. Presumably that’s what the young lady in the video is running from and is eventually overtaken by, her eyes going black as she becomes a hybrid android/human. Fair enough. “Future Boogie” will feature on Shaking Godspeed‘s forthcoming long-player, Welcome Back Wolf, which is set to release this fall, and the single will be officially released on May 10. Preorder link and more info follows the clip below.

Enjoy:

Shaking Godspeed, “Future Boogie” official video

Future Boogie is available as a 7” vinyl single via Suburban: http://tinyurl.com/nha7mul

The song is also featured on the forthcoming album Welcome Back Wolf by Shaking Godspeed. To be released September 2014.

Heavily inspired by The singularity is near (Ray Kurzweil) they wrote the song Future Boogie. This book sketches the end of the human race as we know it and the birth of the hybrid technologic new human being in 2045. No sci-fi, but soon to be reality!

Fascinated by all the new technological and cultural developments the group understood that keep hanging in the past, old heroes and rusty opinions are almost an insult to their brains. Their new album Welcome Back Wolf, recorded live in a deserted factory, provides ground to Shaking Godspeed’s own slightly deranged views and sincere emotions.

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audiObelisk: Atlantis Stream “Raptor” from New Album Omens; Out Oct. 14 on Burning World Records

Posted in audiObelisk on September 26th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

It should say something about the complexity of their operations that it takes six people to reproduce live what by and large is created solely by multi-instrumentalist Gilson Heitinga in the studio for the band Atlantis. Heitinga‘s project began seven years ago and will release Omens, their third mostly-instrumental full-length — there are also two EPs, most recently 2012’s La Petite Mort — on Oct. 14 through Burning World Records, crafting a sonic blend of post-metal, progressive electronica and a sense of tonal weight, resulting in six varied and textured tracks that truly seem to be the output of a clear vision for what the sound should be. Whether it’s the initial ambience of “Rapture” or the patient building of tension that leads to the slow-paced crush of “Widowmaker,” both of Omens‘ vinyl sides produce a rich, immersive feel that’s easy to get lost within.

There are stretches that come across as comparatively minimal, but Omens is never really still, and whether it’s a swirl of synth on backing the emergent shouts on “And She Drops the 7th Veil” or the noisy, chaotic patterning of the side B intro “The Path Into” — that path, incidentally, goes into “Widowmaker” — Atlantis always keep a sense of forward motion despite the changing sphere of each given track and the mood that each piece of the 50-minute offering makes so malleable throughout. As both the first instance of the weighted riffing that comes to the fore periodically and the album’s initial thrust,”Raptor” does a significant amount of work in establishing the atmospheric basis from which the rest of the songs work. It has both parcel fluctuations and an overarching linear build, and pays off in grand style only made more affecting by the drawn out keyboard melodies that top.

Because of that drama at the apex and because “Raptor” does so well in representing the whole of Omens from which it comes, I’m happy to have the chance to feature it here. Check it out on the player below, and please enjoy:

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

Omens will be available on Oct. 14 through Burning World Records and can be pre-ordered now on CD and gold or black vinyl.

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Stonerfront Nijmegen, 3-Days-Desert: Pilot to Bombardier

Posted in Reviews on March 11th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

If you didn’t know that stoner rock was a battle, then instrumental trio Stonerfront Nijmegen would like to inform that they’ve got the Dutch field covered. Actually, I’d doubt the three-piece, for whom the EP 3-Days-Desert marks a physical debut — pressed to180 gram vinyl and released through Fuzzmatazz Records — would even seek to make such lofty claims. Their ethic, rather, rests solely in the direction of unpretentious stoner rocking, riffs leading the way for thick, rolling, semi-psychedelic grooves, light touches of early Monster Magnet jangle making their way into the guitar of Remco Verweij while bassist John Munnich fills out a rich low end in locked march with drummer Peter Dragt‘s classic grooves, the overall result on the 20-minute EP’s three tracks resting comfortably somewhere between Kyuss‘ formative desert rock and Karma to Burn‘s straightforward riffy motoring.

Sounds familiar? It probably should, and if any of the above names ring a bell, it probably will. Stonerfront Nijmegen — who hail from, wait for it, Nijmegen — touch on some of the jam-mindedness that’s au courant in European heavy, and thanks to Munnich’s satisfyingly weighted tone, they have a bit in common with some of Elektrohasch‘s current set, albeit overall coming across as less fuzzy on the 9:10 A-side, “Stonerfront Nijmegen” or side B’s “Sector 11” (5:46) and “Sandchaser” (5:54), despite their tendency to wander. The two shorter tracks offer a better look at the trio’s sonic personality than the longer cut, though none of the three should prove a challenge to anyone with prior genre exposure. I’d be curious to know how someone who unfamiliar with Dave Wyndorf‘s ’90s exploits might hear the opening strum of “Stonerfront Nijmegen” or the siren sounding an alarm apparently meant to wake listeners up for the circling jam to come, but either way, Stonerfront Nijmegen seem more bent on interpretation than innovation in their ethic, and as the jams are suitably earthy and the vibe is cool, the wheel seems to have little argument in keeping its long-appreciated shape.

The interplay between Verweij and Munnich throughout all three cuts is high on the list of Stonerfront Nijmegen‘s assets, though it’s worth noting as well that Dragt‘s jazzy changes give them a likewise intricate foundation to build on, and that the drummer is just as pivotal in establishing the soulful stops prior to the six-minute mark as either of the other two. 3-Days-Desert may not be remaking the band’s stated style in its own image, but neither is it void of personality. The siren returns in the second half of the eponymous opener, and to tie it all together, a bomb drops at the end of the track, leading to the sandier climate of “Sector 11” on the next side of the album, a Sky Valley low end making its presence felt early into the jam that emerges to hold at a steady level where one might expect a build. If Stonerfront Nijmegen are missing their John Garcia anywhere on the EP, it’s on “Sector 11,” though few and far between are the singers who dynamic enough to keep up with the track’s variability of mood — a Garcia croon would do it; not much else. They do thicken out some in the second half, but it’s not like they’ve been rising musically toward a payoff, so really it’s just a heavier part written into the script, no more or less offensive than anything they’ve done to this point. Encouragingly, they go back to the central line of earlier in the track at the end, giving “Sector 11” a structured feel. This brings an added touch of context to the more classically motoring “Sandchaser.”

Less of the desert than of the speedway, “Sandchaser” finds Verweij again at the fore, but this time with chunky chugging riffs that touch almost on a rockabilly style, and subsequently a howling lead that, yes, Munnich answers back with a killer bassline, but moreover an unhinged feel that both stands testament to Dragt‘s ability to hold a song together and wants nothing for personality while also filling the space that vocals might otherwise occupy. In any case, Stonerfront Nijmegen — who first got together in 2008 but saw 3-Days-Desert come to fruition after lineup shuffles — would have some growing to do if they seemed remotely interested in doing it. As it stands, they might actually be better off in categorically exploring their influences with relaxed-atmosphere jams rather than trying to force progression into where progression doesn’t want to be, and if that’s the case, then these tracks at very least make the most of what sounds like a good time writing and recording, and taken for what they are, leave one with no real complaints. Further, the more I listen through, the less I find myself asking of 3-Days-Desert, which I’m happy to consider the EP establishing its own context and inviting the listener to approach it on its own level. It’s unambitious, but not without its own charm in part because of that.

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