Operators Post “Rolling Hitch” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 31st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

operators photo philip schulte

Berlin-based five-piece Operators released their third album, Revelers (review here), earlier this year and thereby reignited the dynamic rock and roll throwdown of 2013’s Contact High (review here) and 2012’s Operators (review here), with their most charged and dynamic outing yet. The band, who take elements from classic heavy but never lose themselves full-on into vintage-ism and never have, are somewhat underrated at this point as songwriters, as organ-soaked cuts like “Pusher” and “Walkin’ on Air” demonstrate, but as they demonstrate in their new video for the 10-minute LP finale “Rolling Hitch,” that’s done just about nothing to slow their party down. And especially in this video, which is their second from the record behind a clip for “Messina,” that party comes to life.

And hey, if you’re going to throw a throwdown, where better to do so than on the water? Operators get some friends together, hit the dock and let the good times and grooves alike roll as they will. The song features a guest appearance from Wight guitarist/vocalist René Hofmann, who also recorded and mixed Revelers, and though he doesn’t seem to be in the clip, the band obviously had a blast in putting it together. Seriously, is there anything better than watching a band live on a boat? Immediate awesomeness. Of the one or two times I’ve been fortunate enough to do such a thing, it’s never failed to thrill, and hey, if Operators wants to open a cruise line, they’ve got a pretty good commercial for why you should show up right here. I’d hit up that ship.

Check out “Rolling Hitch” below, followed by some more info from the band, and please enjoy:

Operators, “Rolling Hitch” official video

We are proud to present our second music video for our new album ‘Revelers’!

An ongoing journey. Settling down and moving ahead again. Tied knots and sharpened blades. ‘Rolling Hitch’ deals with making peace with yourself, with the neverending quest to find serenity.

Filmed by our dear friend Fabian Willi Simon on a magnificent boatride on the ‘Anarche’, Aug 19th 2017. Thanks to everybody who helped to make this happen.

Res ipsa loquitur. Enjoy with an open mind.

Operators on Thee Facebooks

Operators on YouTube

Operators on Bandcamp

Fuzzmatazz Records on Bandcamp

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Quarterly Review: Enslaved, Hour of 13, Operators, MaidaVale, Audion, Bone Man, Riff Fist, Helén, Savanah, Puta Volcano

Posted in Reviews on July 12th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-summer-2017

I don’t know about you, but I could do this all day. Listening to records, writing reviews, getting things done that I’ve been trying to get done in some cases for actual months of my life — suffice it to say I’m way into this process. Wednesday is always a special day for the Quarterly Review because we pass the halfway point, and as much as I wish this edition went to 60 or even 70 releases, because rest assured even with 50 total there’s way more I could be covering if I had space/time, the good news is there’s still much more awesomeness to come. Today gets into some different vibes once again, so let’s get started.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Enslaved, Roadburn Live

enslaved-roadburn-live

In their storied and groundbreaking career, Norwegian progressive black metallers Enslaved have never put out a live record, and it kind of makes sense as to why. The nuance of what they’ve come to do in their studio material doesn’t really lend itself to the rawness of a live album. Accordingly, Roadburn Live (on ByNorse and Burning World Records) feels almost as much of an homage to the event itself as to the performance. Captured in 2015 as Enslaved guitarist Ivar Bjørnson co-curated and the band headlined playing a special set of their more prog-focused songs – here more recent material like “In Times,” “Building with Fire,” “Daylight” from 2015’s In Times (review here) and “Death in the Eyes of Dawn” from 2012’s RIITIIR (review here) shines along with “Convoys to Nothingness” from 2001’s Monumension, “As Fire Swept Clean the Earth” from 2003’s Below the Lights and the requisite “Isa” from the 2004 landmark of the same name, and a special highlight comes at the finale when they cover Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” and bring guitarist Menno Gootjes of Dutch proggers Focus out for a guest spot. Roadburn Live might be a step away from the band’s usual modus, but Enslaved have made their career on pushing themselves beyond their comfort zone, so why stop now?

Enslaved on Thee Facebooks

Burning World Records website

ByNorse Music website

 

Hour of 13, Salt the Dead: The Rare and Unreleased

hour of 13 salt the dead

An overdue compilation from a band making an overdue return, Hour of 13’s Salt the Earth: The Rare and Unreleased reunites the doomers led by multi-instrumentalist Chad Davis with Shadow Kingdom Records and brings together early demos from 2007 – on which the collaboration between Davis and vocalist Phil Swanson was arguably at its most vibrant as they headed into their self-titled debut full-length later that year – with other previously unissued cuts like three songs with Davis on vocals including the Jason McCash tribute piece “Upon Black Wings We Die” (premiered here) and the original rehearsal demos that introduced Beaten Back to Pure singer Ben Hogg as Swanson’s replacement in the band in 2011 (premiered here). If you want a direct feel for the breadth of the band, look no further than the three versions of “Call to Satan” that appear on Salt the Earth. Widely varied between them in sound and overall feel, they underscore the tumult that has existed since the outset at the core of Hour of 13 even as they provide hope that the band previously laid to rest can revitalize enough to put out a fourth studio offering.

Hour of 13 on Thee Facebooks

Shadow Kingdom Records website

 

Operators, Revelers

operators revelers

Nearly four years in the making, Revelers is the third full-length from Berlin’s Operators behind 2013’s Contact High (review here) and 2012’s Operators (review here), and it starts off by smashing Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats swing headfirst into Goatsnake riffing on “Leveled Reveler,” the first of its six component tracks. Their arrangements, as ever, are marked by the featured position of organ along with guitar, bass and drums, and whether it’s a more extended jam like that opener, “Messina” or the closing “Rolling Hitch” – which boasts a guest vocal/guitar spot from Wight’s René Hofmann, who also recorded and mixed (Tony Reed of Mos Generator mastered) – or the shorter momentum-building winding course through “Pusher,” “Walkin’ on Air” (I’m not sure what’s happening at the end there, but I’m not about to spoil it) and the winning-at-song-titles “Fuzz Muncher,” Operators function with a maturity of approach that seems to have been earned during the longer stretch between releases. To wit, all the turns and pivots even out in the last movement of “Rolling Hitch” and Revelers caps with a classic heavy rock groove that’s neither in a hurry nor staid – Operators finding crucial balance amidst all their revelry, and much to their credit.

Operators on Thee Facebooks

Fuzzmatazz Records on Bandcamp

 

MaidaVale, Tales of the Wicked West

maidavale tales of the wicked west

Blues Pills. There. I said it. Now that the blues-rocking elephant in the room has been acknowledged, perhaps we can get on with Swedish four-piece MaidaVale’s debut full-length, Tales of the Wicked West (on The Sign Records). Yes, the Fårösund-based band owe a bit of their soulfulness to the aforementioned, but the nine-track/44-minute long-player thrives most of all as Linn Johannesson, Sofia Ström, Matilda Roth and Johanna Hansson purposefully meander into psychedelic flashes, as in opener “(If You Want the Smoke) Be the Fire,” the midsection of “The Greatest Story Ever Told,” the penultimate Zep-vibing/Bukowski-referencing “Find What You Love and Let it Kill You” and the 11-minute post-“Maggot Brain” closer “Heaven and Earth.” It’s in these moments and the manner in which they blend with the driving rock of “Dirty War,” the bluesy swagger of “Restless Wanderer” and the deft turns of “Colour Blind” early on that MaidaVale’s individualism is beginning to take shape, and if that’s the story that Tales of the Wicked West is telling, then it’s one well worth following through subsequent chapters.

MaidaVale on Thee Facebooks

The Sign Records on Thee Facebooks

 

Audion, La Historia de Abraham

audion-la-histora-de-abraham

Audion’s debut, La Historia de Abraham, is immediately noteworthy in no small part because it brings the rhythm section of Los Natas back together for the first time since that band’s breakup following 2009’s excellent Nuevo Orden de la Libertad (review here). Drummer Walter Broide and bassist Gonzalo Villagra join forces in the new outfit with guitarist Dizzy Espeche, and all three contribute vocals throughout at least in backup capacity, adding variety to go with the instrumental breadth that runs from the serene end of “Llegaron Sordos” right into the rush of “La Maquina del Tiempo” and well beyond later as the interlude “Para Rosita” introduces an earthy acoustidelic feel and “El Carancho” explores ‘70s anthemic rock before the fuzz- and horn-laden finisher “Queruzalem” closes out with a surprising progressive wash. Cuts like opener “Clarence,” the title-track and “Colmillo Blanco” can call to mind Villagra and Broide’s previous work, but Audion make a fresh impression on La Historia de Abraham in the variety throughout, and as they make their way through “Lesbotrans” and “Diablo vs. Dios” and into the second half of the album, it becomes increasingly clear how distinct this first offering actually is.

Audion on Thee Facebooks

Audion on Bandcamp

 

Bone Man, III

bone man iii

To go along with the propulsive rhythm of “False Ambition” and the wash in the payoff of the earlier “These Days are Gone,” there’s a sense of gothic drama to vocalist Marian’s delivery that adds further atmosphere to Bone Man’s III (on Pink Tank Records), and in kind with the cohesive foundation of Arne’s bass, Ötzi’s drumming and his own scorch-prone guitar, that gives cuts like “Cold Echo” and the alternately brooding and explosive centerpiece – layered acoustic and electric guitar filling out the sound further – even more stylistic depth. That moodiness comes perhaps most into focus on the more subdued “Incognito,” but it’s there from the boogie-laced opener “Pollyanna” onward, and in the jagged push of “Years of Sorrow” and the more spacious finale “Amnesia” (still a tightly structured four minutes in length), it lends III a persona stretching beyond what one might think of as the standard genre fare and gives the Kiel, Germany, outfit a presence decidedly their own. It’s their third record, so maybe that’s not a surprise for a band who made their first offering eight years ago, but it serves as a major source of resonance in the material nonetheless.

Bone Man on Thee Facebooks

Pink Tank Records website

 

Riff Fist, King Tide

riff fist king iii

Going back to 2013, Melbourne, Australia, trio Riff Fist have basically summed up their approach in the eight letters of their name: a tight-knit approach to guitar-led heavy rock, as straightforward as a fist in your face. King Tide is their debut album after three EPs named for the Clint Eastwood Dollars trilogy of westerns – 2015’s The Good, the Loud and the Riff, 2014’s For a Few Riffs More and 2013’s Fistful of Riffs (review here) – and it significantly expands their breadth. Opening with its longest track (immediate points) in the 11-minute title cut (video premiered here), King Tide covers new, more patient and encompassing ground from bassist/vocalist Cozza, guitarist Casey and drummer Joel than anything they’ve touched on before, and while the subsequent “D.T.U.B.,” fuzz-laden “Fist Bier (Noch Eins)” and even the first half of eight-minute centerpiece “Chugg” bring that all-ahead sensibility back into focus, King Tide remains effectively and engagingly informed by its leadoff impression through its total 33-minute run, which is rounded out as “Beer and a Cigarette” melds the more spacious and atmospheric take with a still-swinging post-Clutch groove. There’s more work to do in tying the various sides together, but King Tide is a rousing introduction to the process through which the band can make that happen.

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Riff Fist on Bandcamp

 

Helén, Helén

helen helen

Hexvessel multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Kimmo Helén makes a willfully peculiar and experimentalist self-titled debut with the solo-project Helén via Svart Records, setting a course through melodic indie wash in “Uusi Olento” even as “Jumalan Hullu” threatens in its bounce and the later “Lystia” moves into yet-darker expanses. Keys, electric and acoustic guitar, sax, and of course Helén’s own Finnish-language vocals, there’s very little that feels like it might be outside his comfort zone in terms of craft, and Helén, the album, is just as effective in the plus-cello-acoustic-minimalism of the penultimate “Lopussa” as in the earlier atmospheric breadth of “Puolen Metrin Syvyydessä.” Closing out with the alternately melancholy and dreamy “Kaikki Isä,” the record brings out a full-band feel despite Helén having handled the vast majority of the instrumentation on his own and impresses in that as well as in its range of moods and overarching sense of purpose. May it be a first exploration in a series of many.

Helén on Thee Facebooks

Helén at Svart Records webstore

 

Savanah, The Healer

savanah the healer

I won’t take away from a wah-drenched rocker like “The Healer,” which still jams out plenty before digging into doomier lumbering, but where Austrian trio Savanah’s Stone Free Records debut album, The Healer, really gets its point across is in the fluidity of its longer-form material, whether that’s post-“Intro” opener “Mind,” the ebbing and flowing heavy psych instrumental “Pillars of Creation” or the over-10-minutes-apiece closing pair of the doom rocking “Black Widow” and “Panoramic View of Stormy Weather,” which effectively draws together the multiple aesthetic faces the three-piece demonstrate throughout the record preceding, culling rock, psych and doom into a single riff-driven entity and, most importantly, making it theirs. Guitar leads the way with big, natural fuzz, but the rhythm section is crucial here, and as Benny, Felix and Jakob follow-up their 2015 EP, Deep Shades, they seem to establish a path along which they can flourish and hopefully continue to capture the listener’s attention as they do here.

Savanah on Thee Facebooks

StoneFree Records website

 

Puta Volcano, Harmony of Spheres

puta volcano harmony of spheres

The kind of release where by the end of the first song you want to own everything the band has ever put out. Don’t let Athens’ Puta Volcano get lost in the wash of bands coming out of Greece these days, because there are many, but if you miss out on the blend of desert-style tones and graceful melodies of “Bird,” it’s to your general detriment. I’m serious. In craft and performance, Puta Volcano’s third album, Harmony of Spheres, takes on unpretentious progressivism in songwriting and blends it with a post-Slo Burn/Hermano sense of freedom from genre. Witness the funky “Zeroth Law” or the later, more subtle post-grunge linearity of “Moebius,” the odd chanting repetitions in closer “Infinity” or the nigh-on-maddening hook of “Jovian Winds.” Really, do it. With the lineup of vocalist Luna Stoner, guitarist Alex Pi, bassist Bookies and drummer Steven Stefanidis, Puta Volcano are onto something special in aesthetic and delivery, and if Harmony of Spheres might be your first experience with the band as it’s mine, it’s one that will no doubt warrant multiple revisits. Consider it sleeper fodder for your year-end list – I know I will.

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Puta Volcano on Bandcamp

 

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Operators Announce New Album Revelers Due in May

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 10th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

operators

They’ve shifted from a six-piece to a five-piece since putting out their second album, Contact High (review here), late in 2013, but as this Spring finds organ-laced Berlin heavy rockers Operators making a return with their third outing, Revelers, that’s not the only change at hand. Not that I’ve heard it yet or anything, but the new record — the six tracks of which arrive half a decade after the band’s self-titled debut (review here) — feels immediately more textured in its intentions than anything they’ve done before.

Still plenty of riotousness happening, as “Pusher” demonstrates in the stream at the bottom of this post, and I don’t think you put a song called “Fuzz Muncher” on your record if you’re going full-prog, but there’s a sense of their approach maturing in “Leveled Reveler,” “Messina” and especially 10-minute closer “Rolling Hitch” that works to expand the dynamic of tempo changes throughout and the vibe of the songs overall.

René Hofmann from Wight recorded and contributes guitar and vocals on that last track, and the band has sent over copious other info on the forthcoming LP, for which they’re crowdfunding a pressing as we speak. Check it out:

operators revelers

Operators – Revelers

We are the heavy rock band OPERATORS from Berlin, Germany – loud guitars, organ, sweat ‘n pure joy! We run this band completely independently since 2009, have recorded two albums entirely on our own and played 140 gigs. Yes, we’re in it for the music! Now we want to publish our new album ‘Revelers’ for and with you – it is already recorded! (photo: Fabian Willi Simon)

We want to release our new album Revelers together with you, without taking any detours!

We’ve consciously decided for crowdfunding and not for a record label. It is important for us to have 100% control over the publishing of our record, just as we have over songwriting and recording. Also, contracts with labels often run over 7 or 10 years – we want to be independent. We have already built a strong and steady connection to you and our crowd through our shows and this next step is only logical now.

This is not about donations, about doing some album at some time, this is about an album that is already finished and is about to be printed and pressed as we speak. This very album can be pre-ordered now for reasonable prices.

Revelers – that’s one hell of a 38 minute Rock’n’Rollercoaster! The album’s diverse six songs shimmer in different colours. The interplay of drums, bass, guitar, organ and vocals shines in the 3 rollicking minutes of “Pusher” and fully unfolds in the 10 captivating minutes of “Rolling Hitch”.

Facts about the record:
– Recorded, mixed and produced by René Hofmann (Wight)
– René Hofmann also contributed backing vocals and a guitar solo (on ‘Rolling Hitch’)
– recorded October 27-30 2016 at Lui Hill Studio, Darmstadt, Germany
– additional vocals recorded in November and December in Darmstadt and Berlin
– mastered by Tony Reed
– 6 songs and 38 minutes strong
– release in mid-May
– artwork by Johannes Walenta/Kopfüber (organ player for Stonehenge)

Tracklist ‘Revelers’:
01 Leveled Reveler (7:50)
02 Pusher (3:04)
03 Messina (7:15)
04 Walkin’ On Air (4:54)
05 Fuzz Muncher (4:43)
06 Rolling Hitch (10:04)

Operators’ upcoming gigs:
March 16 – Nürnberg, Zentralcafé w Samavayo & Zen Meister
March 17 – Würzburg, Immerhin w Samavayo
March 18 – Osnabrück, Dirty Dancing w Samavayo & Isoptera
May – Berlin record release (to be confirmed)
July 16 – RED SMOKE FEST, Pleszew, Poland (Operators are announced on March 10)

https://www.startnext.com/en/operatorsberlin
https://operators.bandcamp.com/
http://www.facebook.com/OPERATORSberlin

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In the Round: Reviews of Hobosexual, Midryasi, Operators, Pylar and System of Venus

Posted in Reviews on March 6th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

It’s a big world and there’s a lot to review in it, so I won’t do much to delay. This time around covers both coasts of the US as well as Europe and even Australia, proving once again that heavy knows no borders and seems to be at home wherever it goes. It’s a pretty varied batch this time as well, but should provide some fun along the way.

Hobosexual, II


Billing themselves as “Seattle’s only rock duo” — which is charming if unlikely — guitarist/vocalist Ben Harwood and drummer Jeff Silva self-release their second album as Hobosexual (I see what you did there…) in the aptly-titled 12-tracker, II. It’s a record that brims with attitude from the chugging, semi-Melvinsian opening of “Switchblade Suburbia,” but there’s a depth of tone and swagger to back up the smacktalk in their songwriting. The 38-second “Ghettoblaster” is Hendrix-style feedback and soloing, playing directly into “Hostile Denim”‘s lead-obsessed Rolling Stones hook ‘n’ push. Topped off with striking artwork from Adam Burke of Fellwoods, II proves very much of its Pacific Northwest origins — a magical land where everybody has a beard and they all listen to stoner rock — and while the tongue-in-cheek snark of “Sex Destroyer” might be over-the-top to some, Hobosexual avoid the minimalist aesthetic some duos use as a crutch for lazy songwriting, make old riffs new again and showcase some melodic depth in Harwood‘s vocal layering, positioning songs like “The Black Camaro Death” and the penultimate “BMX” highlights arguing against style over substance amid party-ready riffing and don’t-have-a-fuck-to-give panache. Their 2010 self-titled debut worked in similar stylistic parameters, but II strikes as more confident overall, and it’s a record that you’re either going to fall prey to its sleaze or shoot down early and go about your night. If the album’s a party, I feel at times like my invite must have gotten lost in the mail, but Hobosexual provide a decent reminder nonetheless that there are those capable of turning heavy rock into a good time and put it on the listener to ask why they should take it so seriously in the first place. FOAD: Fuck off and dance.

Hobosexual, II (2013)

Hobosexual on Thee Facebooks

Hobosexual on Bandcamp

Midryasi, Black, Blue and Violet


Strange things are afoot throughout Italian four-piece Midryasi‘s third album, Black, Blue and Violet. The multifaceted heavy outfit run a gamut from Pentagram-esque riff doom to Pink Floyd-infused progressive texturing, all the while keeping a clarity of sound that can likely be traced to the metallic roots of bassist/vocalist Convulsion, who aside from having played in DoomSword can be traced to a number of more extreme outfits. His brother, DoomSword vocalist Deathmaster, shows up on opener “The Counterflow,” but Black, Blue and Violet never goes quite so far into one subgenre or another, the keyboard work of Umberto Desanti always adding an edge of prog to whatever else might be happening, whether it’s the otherwise doomed “Diagonal” or the dramatic verses of the title-track. Released through My Graveyard Productions, Midryasi‘s third ultimately finds its atmospheric crux in an intelligent construction, but perhaps feels somewhat distant in its performance, coldly executed. That’s an inherent tradeoff for the complexity of its arrangements, maybe, and there’s something to be said in argument for the skillful calculation at work across these seven tracks that run smoothly with the underlying drum work of Sappah and fluid guitars of Paolo Paganhate and hit their high-point with the rumbling “The Nuclear Dog,” which provides the most memorable hook of the long-player and seems to revel most in the psychedelic and progressive weirdness that the whole album moves within. The six-and-a-half-minute “Hole of the Saturday Night” closes out with a heavy rock riff and vocal delivery from Convulsion that moves in some of the same (stone) circles as Venomous Maximus, though that’s likely a coincidence of common influence between the two, and with a smooth, consistent production, Midryasi wind up sounding most of all like a band working on its own level. And successfully.

Midryasi, Black, Blue and Violet (2013)

Midryasi on Thee Facebooks

Midryasi on Bandcamp

Operators, Contact High


Raucous Berlin six-piece Operators made an impression in 2012 with the unabashed new school stoner rock of their self-titled debut (review here) now a little older, a little wiser, a little more drunk, the band returns with Contact High, a record that wears its influences on its sleeve in much the same manner as the Satellite Beaver, Neume and Stonehenge patches grace the varsity jacket of the figure on the album’s cover. “Kiss of De Ath” resides at the end of side A of the eight-track/39-minute offering and offers some of Operators‘ most satisfying boogie as Konni‘s organ and the guitars of Jacky and Dirk align for an intricate but still-rolling groove of a midsection build while Stonehenge‘s Enni steps in as a guest singer, but it’s vocalist Eggat who makes the first impression on opener “Terra Ohm,” setting up a strong hook for the rest of Contact High to live up to. The album plays out unpretentious and riotous in kind, and while they haven’t necessarily settled down since their first outing, it’s easy enough to hear Operators as having solidified their approach somewhat. Konni‘s keys work just as well alongside the rhythm section of bassist Dän and drummer Säsh as with the guitars, and Eggat proves a formidable enough presence on cuts like “If I Burn,” “Bring on the Spice” (I don’t know whose guitar solo that is, but kudos) and the driving “Contact High” to reign the rest into cohesion. The six-and-a-half-minute “Arrows” shows a more subdued side that, somewhat surprisingly, never quite explodes into the noisy chicanery found elsewhere. Could it be that Operators are growing up right before our ears? I don’t know, but the results are fascinating and display more even potential from these Desertfest veterans.

Operators, “Terra Ohm” from Contact High (2013)

Operators on Thee Facebooks

Fuzzmatazz Records

Pylar, Poderoso Se Alza en My


Grand soundscaping, an underlying sense of ritual, and a pervasive experimental bent — it shouldn’t really be a surprise that Spain’s Pylar boasts some manner of allegiance to forward or at least side-to-side thinking doomers Orthodox and the avant extremists Blooming Látigo, but the unit’s Knockturne Records debut, Poderoso Se Alza en My, strikes as a decidedly more conceptual work, with one song spilling into the next, religious themes crossing through minimalist atmospheres and a periodic lurch emerging that’s as much a trip aurally as mentally. Two longer cuts, “El Pylar Se Ha Alzado” (13:49) and “Al Fin Te Contemplo Entre las Ruinas del Tiempo (Pentagrammaton)” (12:11) sandwich five not-quite-as-extended segments as the opener (the longest on the record; immediate points) and closer of the 68-minute behemoth, which one would be thoroughly mistaken to dub a “compact” disc. It is, instead, expansive and challenging, rife with droning tension, vague shouts in Spanish seeming to describe some torment either physical or spiritual amid art-jazz percussion in another dimension’s time signatures. Will not, will not, will not be for everyone, but Pylar‘s first is a fascinating and dense work that one could easily spend any number of months dissecting, only to still come up with an incomplete picture of its scope, and for those with a high tolerance for the experimental and indulgences of noise, the intense swell of “La Gran Luminaria” could easily prove essential as the culmination point for what seems to be an album-long drive toward enlightenment and the sundry terrors it might carry with it. If you think you’re bored of the mundane, Poderoso Se Alza en My is ready to pull back the veil and toy for a while with what you used to think of as “your” consciousness.

Pylar, Poderoso Se Alza en My (2013)

Pylar on Thee Facebooks

Pylar on Bandcamp

System of Venus, System of Venus


I remain a sucker for Aussie heavy. System of Venus guitarist/vocalist/graphic designer Fatima Baši? gets into a doomly melodic range that reminds at times — as on “Dancing in Hell’s Garden” — of Alunah‘s Soph Day, but the rough edges in her guitar and Amanda‘s bass add a more distinct ’90s feel to the seven-track/36-minute proceedings on their full-length debut and first release, as the crunch in “Monster Ego” will further attest. Drummer Matt Lieber shows himself comfortable with the quick tempo changes in that song and elsewhere on the self-titled, self-released offering, and though the centerpiece “Dr. Dumb” works quickly to earn its position in the CD’s tracklist, ultimately the opener “Blackrock” and the closing duo of “Nothing” and “Beast” are the strongest statements the album has to make in showcasing the diversity nascent in System of Venus‘ approach, “Beast” rising to an apex that though satisfying feels somewhat shortlived in providing the payoff for the record as whole while “Nothing” holds to a quieter, brooding sentiment that plays off the foundational bassline of “Gannets Drive,” giving what might’ve otherwise easily turned out to be a demo an LP’s overarching flow and speaking to an early awareness of quality construction from the Melbourne trio, though “Gannets Drive” seems to cut out early, building to a hit that’s snapped mid-crash, so perhaps there remain some kinks to work out one way or another. All the same, taken as a whole, System of VenusSystem of Venus satisfies as the debut of a band feeling out where they want to be sonically, and bodes well for where they might grow their sound somewhere between grunge, doom and heavy rock.

System of Venus, System of Venus (2013)

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System of Venus on Bandcamp

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Operators, Operators: Pigs, Peppers and Pain — Also a Rollercoaster

Posted in Reviews on July 2nd, 2012 by JJ Koczan

It’s not every band that can open an album with a song called “Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster” without making fools of themselves, but halfway through the upbeat, two-and-a-half-minute lead cut on the self-titled, self-produced and self-released debut from young Berlin outfit Operators, I’m mostly convinced they’ve done it. Their relative youth is a major factor working in their favor. A rare six-piece (ah, to have friends), Operators energetically and insistently push their way through most of Operators’ nine tracks, eliciting images of rock and roll shenanigans no less mischievous than their naked-lady-and-eggs cover art might bring to mind. Two guitarists in Dirk Beck (who also mixed) and Orge, an umlauted rhythm section in bassist Dän and drummer Säsh, a standalone vocalist in Eggat, Operators is rounded out by the prominently displayed organ of Konni, whose melodic contribution to a track like “Creamlead” or “Pig & Pepper” is more than just flourish to highlight and/or punctuate the guitar. Sometimes Konni follows Orge and Dirk, and sometimes they follow him, but most of the time, they work separately to each bring their own feel to the songs. The material perhaps leans too hard on Konni at times – see the aforementioned “Pig & Pepper” – but those keys and the strength of Konni’s performance are a major distinguishing factor when it comes to separating Operators from their many peers in Europe’s booming heavy rock climate. They bolster and add complexity to the more rocking earlier songs and make sure nothing sounds empty on the album’s moodier closing movement.

There’s a telling moment on centerpiece “Danish” at 2:03 when Eggat belts out a scream that’s right out of post-hardcore. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if a few years back found at least some of the members of Operators working more with those influences, but if they’re relatively inexperienced with heavy or riff rock, their take on it is going to inherently sound fresh, even if it is familiar. That they’d start with “Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster” is particularly interesting, because that basically lays out the rest of the course for their album. It is a rollercoaster, complete with ups and downs, climbs and descents that ultimately combine for a well put together if recognizable sound. “January Blues” keeps the momentum going with punkish floor tom hits in the intro from Säsh and more uptempo classic rock. Their palate is ultimately pretty straightforward, whatever Konni adds to the formula with the organ still comes in service to the song, but one thing Operators do very well is keep the pace varied so as to not have the material come off as redundant. At its end, “January Blues” slows down some and that works to set up the start of “Creamlead,” which earns its title through both the guitar and the organ work. Hard not to get shades of Greenleaf by the end of the song, but I wouldn’t speculate as to whether or not that’s a direct influence or just a commonality of method. In any case, “Creamlead”’s agenda is largely the same as the ensuing “Pig & Pepper,” but Konni takes a longer solo in the latter and the guitars seem more secondary than elsewhere.

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Here are Five Reasons I Wish I Went to Desertfest Berlin

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 27th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

True, my existence has been a diseased and stress-filled shambles ever since my return from Europe now nearly two weeks ago, but that doesn’t mean I don’t wish I’d stayed there another week. Quite the opposite. As documentation begins to emerge from Desertfest Berlin, it only seems to underscore how righteous the fest was and makes me even sorrier to have missed it. I found a few clips on the YouBigTruck — oh wait I’m sorry, it’s not a big truck, it’s a series of tubes — that emphasize the point, and figured I’d share in case you hadn’t seen them yet.

For fun, here are five reasons I wish I was there:

1. Greenleaf
Granted, I got to see Greenleaf — the Swede-rock heavy supergroup populated by members of Dozer and Truckfighters — in London, but here’s the thing about it: They were really fucking good. Blindingly so, and another opportunity to catch a set would’ve been greatly appreciated. It’s hard to argue  with “Alishan Mountain,” since it’s one of the catchiest songs I’ve ever heard, and this just looks like good times to me:

 

2. Wight
As their recorded output proves, the jam-heavy German stoner rockers aren’t messing around when it comes to riff worship, but as righteous as the guitar solo that leads this Desertfest jam is, it’s the bass runs underneath that have me totally hooked. Charm is half of Wight‘s game, and that’s clearly on display here as they jump headfirst into the recognizable blues rocking grooves of “You!,” a demo of which was previously streamed on this very site. This one would’ve been fun to watch live:

 

3. The Grand Astoria
If I live to be 100, I’ll probably never make it to Russia, and while I don’t know for certain, I’m pretty sure the St. Petersburg four-piece — who seem to be in the process of acquiring a new rhythm section — don’t have any plans to hit the US anytime soon, so this would’ve been a crime of opportunity as much as anything else. I’ve dug both their records that I’ve heard (see here and here), and if this clip is any indicator of the shenanigans they threw down on stage for the duration of their set, hard not to feel like I missed out:

 

4. The Machine
At this point, what’s a trip to Europe without seeing The Machine? I kept hoping the Dutch natives — whose new album, Calmer than You Are was reviewed last week — would add a show on the sly sometime in the week before Roadburn kicked off, but no such luck, and after seeing them two years in a row on their native shores (or at least at the 013), they only seem to have gotten better as a live act, as this clip of opener “Moonward” from Calmer than You Are proves:

 

5. Operators
I’ve got their self-titled record on deck for review sometime in the next couple weeks (or months, if my current pace is maintained), and as they’re Berlin natives and I don’t know the band all that well yet, I think it would’ve been cool to check out organ-ized six-piece Operators at Desertfest. If nothing else, there’s six of ’em! That’s like two trios! And part of being at any fest worthy of the name is finding new acts you hadn’t really been familiar with previously, so they probably would’ve filled that role well:

If we’re being honest with each other, there are way more than these five reasons I wish I’d been able to go to Desertfest Berlin, but some you win, some you have to go back to Jersey and spend two weeks staring at your computer monitor waiting for your work to finish itself. I think that’s how the song goes. Credit where it’s due, all these clips were shot by YouTube user MrJdelgadolopez, whose efforts and timely uploading are much appreciated.

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