The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio Recap: Episode 10

Posted in Radio on February 18th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

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Yeah, this episode was cool except for the goober hosting it. I recorded the voice breaks pretty early in the day on Friday, and I don’t know if I wasn’t awake or what, but I just couldn’t get it together. I think I did the middle break in two takes and that was about as good as it got. I’d still like to go back and get another shot at the opening one. And by the time I actually got to the end of the show, I was so damned afraid of screwing it up again that I basically sprinted for the stop button to finish recording. They can’t all be gold, I guess.

The good news is the playlist itself was awesome. As I tried repeatedly and failed to explain during the show itself, this episode wound up being a pretty vast international swath of acts, and that was something that just happened out of the blue. I didn’t even realize it until afterward. Sweden, Greece, the US, Italy, Norway, Australia, Germany. It’s a broad mix of stuff from a variety of places, and I like that. it’s a lot of new music and I like that too. Really, it’s just the sound of my own voice I could do without. Ha.

I’ll get ’em next time, or something.

Playlist follows. Thanks for reading and/or listening.

The Obelisk Show – 02.17.19

Warp Out of My Life Warp*
Automaton Talos Awakens TALOS*
The Munsens Dirge (For Those to Come) Unhanded*
BREAK
Vokonis Grasping Time Grasping Time*
Terras Paralelas Bom Presságio Entre Dois Mundos*
The Pilgrim Peace of Mind Walking into the Forest*
SÂVER I, Vanish They Came with Sunlight*
REZN Quantum Being Calm Black Water*
BREAK
Colour Haze Love Colour Haze
Aver Disorder Orbis Majora*
Troll Legend Master, Book I: Proverbs of Hell Legend Master*
BREAK
Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard The Spaceships of Ezekiel Yn Ol I Anwnn*
Monovine Throw Me a Bone D.Y.E.*
Demon Head The Night is Yours Hellfire Ocean Void*
Old Mexico Past the Western Wall Old Mexico*

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio airs every other Sunday night at 7PM Eastern, with replays the following Tuesday at 9AM. Next show is March 3. Thanks for listening if you do.

Gimme Radio website

The Obelisk on Thee Facebooks

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Old Mexico, Old Mexico: Out Past Walls

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

old mexico self titled

It’s hard to tell at some points whether Old Mexico‘s Old Mexico is a tale of one album, two albums or three, and not really being able to determine that ultimately winds up part of the fun. A collaboration between Dead Meadow‘s Jason Simon, Arizona-based acid folkslinger Trans Van Santos (aka Mark Matos) and jazz drummer Dave Mihaly released through Union Zero in the US and Cardinal Fuzz in Europe, it’s possible to take its six tracks/37 minutes all as one thing, as is, straight through. That’s one album. Sure. Nifty. Cool. It’s two albums because of the way its near-14-minute opener and longest inclusion (immediate points) “Past the Western Wall” seems so much an entity unto itself even taken in kind with “The Old Ones,” which is Simon‘s other included composition. And it’s three albums because Simon, Matos and Mihaly each lend material. And maybe it’s even four albums because it’s also the kind of album that if you try to take it by the numbers, you’ll just be doing it wrong. So, yeah.

However one chooses to read it, the key to Old Mexico‘s Old Mexico is an open mind. With a liberal dose of saxophone from Michael Bello — who didn’t write any of the six songs, but is sort of the unsung hero of the record nonetheless — and Mihaly‘s smooth drums behind most of the songs, at least when he’s not switching to guitar, as on his own “Stellar Jay,” on which he also sings, and instrumental closer “Madeline Kahn,” there’s an underlying jazzy sensibility to some of the songs. It’s truest of “Past the Western Wall,” which should rightly be a focal point for anyone taking on the LP. It can’t help but be. It’s right there in front. But hearing Matos take lead on the weirdo Westernism of “Neon Tree” and the stoned ramble “Black Matador,” one could just as easily tie Old Mexico to folk, and certainly there’s a familiar forward progression to at least the verses of “Past the Western Wall” and “The Old Ones” that one could argue stem from Simon‘s songwriting method. The best approach might be not to tie it at all.

An album that begs for a truly open listening experience? Bands say that all the time. It’s rarely as true as it is with Old Mexico. A modus of craft is affirmed throughout, but that modus changes of course as the songs themselves change in terms of composer and arrangement. And the best answer that results in the most satisfying listening experience is to go with it. Follow it out. There’s a clue in the name of the project: California. At least the Southern and Central parts of the Golden State. Maybe that’s what’s being summarized here; a bit of desert strangeness met with San Francisco’s hippie refinement, running up and down a dreamed-up mellow Pacific Coastline while the sun sets 10 feet out over the water. I wouldn’t know, but it fits. There’s a lot here that could fit. I think that’s part of the point too, when it’s all done and percussion-laced homage to the immortal Ms. Kahn has been paid.

Old Mexico

Freak jams like that in “Past the Western Wall,” so molten and hypnotic, but still so nuanced and so conscious, don’t happen every day, and if that was the impetus on which the rest of Old Mexico was built, fair enough. It’s an impulse one hopes they follow again, getting even weirder in the process. But it’s not the whole story of the album. There’s an unfolding that happens before that leadoff is even three minutes in, but Old Mexico aren’t just getting lost either. It’s not until after 12 minutes in, but “Past the Western Wall” makes its way back across the grand distance it creates to the verse, and ends not in a jammy culmination, but in subdued melody, giving one the impression that what’s ultimately crucial to the album is the exploration through songwriting and collaboration itself. These people working with these people. To that end, the contributions of Bello on sax can’t be ignored any more than the grounding effect of Mihaly‘s voice on “Stellar Jay,” or the Wurlitzer of Jon Randano or the manner in which Jason Crimele (who recorded three tracks while Stefan Lirakis recorded the other three) shifts from bass to drums to percussion as need be.

But even with them and the backing vocalists and other contributors, it’s Simon, Matos and Mihaly at the forefront of the songs. The turn from “Black Matador” to the soft-swinging “The Old Ones” tells some of the tale, as the two six-plus-minute tracks groove from peyote-bombed desert-jazz-folk to the nighttime vibes and contained spaciousness of a more rock-style arrangement. “Neon Tree” is a highlight for its twang ahead of the ritualized tribute/ode “Madeline Kahn,” on which anything around that jangles or clangs seems to have been put to some measure of use, but no single cut on Old Mexico really leads to an understanding of where the album as a whole is coming from — not even “Past the Western Wall,” glorious though it is.

Instead, it all feeds into the totality of the listening experience, which again, becomes less about parsing it and more about everything coming together. It might be tempting to pick apart Old Mexico‘s work based on who wrote it or who recorded or who played on it — and that might be fun, at least to certain, admittedly demented kind of listener — but the overarching crux of Old Mexico is more about the resulting sonic spread from everyone. It’s an album, not a split. What one hopes coming out of it is that it’s also not a one-off. With the recognition that these are busy people with other projects, and exploration so vast only seems to set up the potential for going further. I wouldn’t guess what a follow-up might entail, but in hearing the way in which this first outing eases its way into a desert skyscape and seems to dissipate there in the atmosphere, I’d sure like to find out.

Old Mexico, Old Mexico (2019)

Old Mexico at Jason Simon’s Bandcamp

Old Mexico at Cardinal Fuzz Bandcamp

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