Uleåborg Festival of Psychedelia 2020 Announces Lineup for July 10-11

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 6th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

A couple recognizable names here from the lineup for Uleåborg Festival of Psychedelia 2020 in Oulu, Finland, but I’m not ashamed to say that the majority of the 27 acts are unknown to me. You’ll note Philly’s Ecstatic Vision will be making the trip — so let’s assume there are some European tour dates forthcoming from them, and that’s cool news — as well as Swedish proggers Agusa, whose lush sounds are always a delight, and I know I’ve written about Sunshine Reverberation and Arktau Eos in the past, but yeah. Plenty here I don’t know.

You know what that means, though? Homework! The best kind of homework! I got word of the lineup yesterday and I’ve been diving into bands playing since, including Hidria Spacefolk, who headline the second night and whose 2012 cosmic offering, Astronautica, you can stream below, as well as The Fungi 3, whose fuzzy take on heavy psych blends the best of garage chaos with a jammy spirit. I’m into it and looking forward to continuing to learning about the rest. I’ve yet to find a clunker.

There won’t be a quiz or anything, but you still might want to take notes:

uleaborg festival of psychedelia 2020 lineup

Uleåborg Festival of Psychedelia – 2020 Lineup

Uleåborg Festival of Psychedelia will be held already the sixth time on 10th and 11th July 2020. The festival will colour Oulu’s summer with psychedelic shades and sounds, three stages and 27 artists!

Friday’s headliner is a Finnish cult classic band Murheenlaakso, which celebrates “Totuus Palaa LP” 30-year album anniversary with a special set! Saturday’s headliner Hidria Spacefolk will take the audience into a final trance!

UFOP is proud to present American psychedelic rock energy package Ecstatic Vision performing in Finland for the first time! Other foreign artist include Swedish prog and folk band Agusa, Estonian noiserock band Zahir, and Norwegian psychband Sunshine Reverberation. Finnish artists include electronic crushers Tähtiportti, legendary Radiopuhelimet and action rock band MÄSÄ.

Yet again, UFOP will feature arts exhibitions, dance acts, mind bending uv-decorations and visual treats summoned by VJs. Open your mind, now is the time!

TICKETS: https://www.tiketti.fi/uleaborg-festival-of-psychedelia-2020-tukikohta-oulu-lippuja/68281

https://www.facebook.com/events/518009828749961/
https://www.facebook.com/UFOpsychedelia/
https://www.instagram.com/ufopsychedelia/
www.uleaborgfestivalofpsychedelia.com

Hidria Spacefolk, Astronautica (2012)

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Onségen Ensemble to Record New Album in February

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 19th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

I have it on pretty good authority that I wasn’t the only one who really dug the vibe Oulu, Finland’s Onségen Ensemble brought forth on their 2018 self-released sophomore long-player, Duel (review here). The doesn’t-always-do-stuff-but-when-they-do-they-make-it-count collective have exciting news in that they’ll be recording their next full-length in just a couple months’ time with none other than Jamie Gomez Arellano at the helm at Orgone Studios in London.

Not sure what the recording situation will be in terms of how long they’ll be there, how the tracks will be laid down, if Arellano will mix as well (why not?) and who will master, but the thought of Onségen Ensemble pairing with someone who’s a well-established master of capturing depth of tone — Arellano has worked with luminaries across a spectrum from Hexvessel and Myrkur to Orange Goblin and Paradise Lost — is promising to be sure. I have to wonder if perhaps there’s a label announcement in their future as well. Hmm? Now who do we know who might be interested in putting out well-produced progressive heavy rock from Finland? Rhymes with “start”…

Here’s what they had to say:

onsegen ensemble

Recording new album in February!

For the first time we have a truly extraordinary opportunity to work with producer Jaime Gomez Arellano in his Orgone Studios. Can’t wait!

The album will be released in 2020.

BIO:

Onségen Ensemble is a group of northern musicians whose first assemblage was formed in the beginning of the twenty-first century, with it’s musicians drawn from various genres such as jazz, stoner, prog and black metal. During that time the sound of Onségen was sown as a seed to grow slowly but surely.

Onségen Ensemble Generation Twenty-ten has continued with the task of grafting the material into its final form. “Awalaï”, the first opus to be released, is a cinematic selection of varied landscapes: good, bad, and occasionally ugly.

Onségen is about the critical exploration of one’s mind, about broadening of horizons and new discoveries.

Generation MMXVIII – Personnel In DUEL:
Juggis Aalto, Heikki Häkkilä, Esa Juujärvi, Merja Järvelin, Sami Lehtiniemi, Samuli Lindberg, Joni Mäkelä, Jaakko Tuomivaara, Niina Vahtola and Mikko Vuorela.

https://www.facebook.com/onsegenensemble/
https://onsgenensemble.bandcamp.com/
http://www.onsegen.com/

Onségen Ensemble, Duel (2018)

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Oulu Space Jam Collective to Release 3LP on Adansonia Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 24th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

I’m not sure what exactly is going to be on the triple-vinyl that Adansonia Records will release from Finnish cosmic-improv unit Oulu Space Jam Collective, but apparently there will be plenty of it. I mean, it’ll be jams one way or the other, since that’s what the band — such as they are — does, but they do it pretty often, so maybe it’s the full-length they put out in September, Drug Rings of Saturn, or maybe it’s a collection of other material or some other past release or maybe it’s something new. A group like this, you never really know. Could be a 3LP pumped out every time they get together. When your ethic is “plug in and go,” adding a step to hit record along the way isn’t such a huge ask.

It’s definitely cool for the band though, whatever might ultimately manifest, so right on. Details are apparently forthcoming, but good news is good news, so here’s good news:

oulu space jam collective

Oulu Space Jam Collective – New release on Adansonia Records

It’s been quiet here for a while and now it’s high time for a new fantastic release.

In the meantime a new band has joined the roster of Adansonia Records. Please welcome Oulu Space Jam Collective from Finland.

Oulu Space Jam Collective channels cosmic streams of the universe through a great variety of instruments, which they choose for their jam sessions. It’s their intention to celebrate extended Space Rock Jams with jazzy grooves and Krautrock experiments. Sounds like they are in good company at Adansonia.

We have managed to prepare one of their numerous recordings for release on vinyl. It is the first official physical release of Oulu Space Jam Collective! The package of test pressings arrived yesterday and is just waiting to be checked. We expect to be able to deliver an incredibly spacey 3LP box in early December. Very soon detailed info…

Check them out!!!

Oulu Space Jam Collective in photo above:
Petri Loukusa
Antti Yrjö Olavi Ylijääskö
Olli Niemitalo
Kalle Veikko
Markus Pitkänen
Joonatan Aaltonen
Jani Pitkänen

https://www.facebook.com/Ouluspacejamcollective
https://ouluspacejamcollective.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/adansoniarecords/
https://www.adansoniarecords.de/

Oulu Space Jam Collective, Drug Rings of Saturn (2019)

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Deep Space Destructors, Visions from the Void: Far Outward

Posted in Reviews on December 17th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

deep space destructors Visions from the Void inside gatefold

deep space destructors Visions from the Void gatefold outside

Deep into the album comes the hook that says it all. “Abandon space and time/Freedom lose your mind.” It’s what Deep Space Destructors have been saying all along, but it’s not until the fourth of the five total tracks, on the aptly-titled “Floating,” which leads off side B ahead of closer “From the Void,” that they actually come out and say it. Their advocacy of that position, however, is writ large across Visions from the Void, which follows less than two years from early 2017’s Psychedelogy (review here) and pushes into new cosmic reaches for the band, expanding their sound and reach along an interstellar plane of surspace, dimensions intertwining as the core trio of bassist/vocalist Jani Pitkänen (also percussion), guitarist/backing vocalist Petri Lassila and drummer Markus Pitkänen welcome a host of guest performers. Perhaps chief among them is Scott “Dr. Space” Heller, who also helms Space Rock Productions, which is the label behind this and the last release.

Heller, who also captains the USS Øresund Space Collective, contributes analog synth to all five cuts on the 43-minute LP, but he’s hardly alone here, with Antti “Yskä” Ylijääskö adding sax to side A finale “Tyhjyyden Mantra,” Joonatan Elokuu donating synth, mellotron and vocals to the aforementioned “Floating,” and Tyhjä Pää giving further drone and ambience to “From the Void.” The latter two are return appearances, but even so, their coming back is emblematic of the growth Deep Space Destructors have undertaken since their 2012 debut, (review here), and indeed, as their evolution has unfolded across 2013’s II (review here), 2014’s III (review here), 2015’s Spring Break from Space EP (review here) and Psychedelogy, they have only proceeded outward, and Visions from the Void is their most resonant work yet, unfurling with motorik beats and drifting atmospherics along a directed swirl that holds an underpinning of consciousness even as it seems to “lose its mind” along the lysergic meditation. From opener “Psyche Remade” onward, the band only affirms their maturity and their mastery of the spaced-out forms, calling to familiar genre tropes while putting their own stamp on them in craft and manifestation.

There’s little by way of fanfare at the outset. A quick introduction of a winding guitar line starts “Psyche Remade” and within the first 10 seconds of the album, Deep Space Destructors set themselves to the work of melting brains. Their style has never been to completely jam for jamming’s sake, and not that there’s anything wrong with that approach, but the trio’s process has only come to work more for them over time, resulting in hooks that act as beacons along their charted course into the titular void. They’ve done this in the past as well, but Visions from the Void finds Jani a more confident vocalist, higher in the mix and more of a presence even as his voice is coated in a range of effects. “Psyche Remade” has standout lines urging sonic enlightenment, and that frames much of the perspective from which the rest of the record draws, a kind of expand-your-mind-blow-your-mind advocacy the second cut “Astral Traveller” soon affirms in its last line, “Free your mind/Only love can remain,” after six minutes or so of primordial space rock groove and molten synth.

Deep Space Destructors

Tense, progressive and classic, its genre elements are nonetheless presented with a sonic heft that classic space rock could never have claimed as its own, pushing into a realm of heavy psychedelia in its low end that only seems to emphasize the throb at heart in the rhythm and the faroutification of what might otherwise be a straightforward structure. Heller has a marked effect on the atmosphere, but as “Tyhjyyden Mantra” crashes in its nine-minute grandeur to take hold and introduce not only the end of side A, but really the crux of what will follow in the final two tracks, there’s a darkening of mood that even the surrounding swirl can’t contradict. As the centerpiece, “Tyhjyyden Mantra” swaps out English lyrics for the band’s native Finnish, and along with the arrival of Ylijääskö‘s saxophone, it provides a pivotal turning point in the narrative of the record, marking the place where one is given over to the cosmos itself in that embrace of enlightenment, becoming one with dark matter as a necessary step in that. There’s a quiet moment that starts just before the five-minute mark and is soon topped by chants and leaves on a build that I wish was longer, but it accomplishes the purpose the band has for it as is, and soon departs for an effective sax-laced semi-wash that holds out to a graceful finish.

“Floating” starts with the lyrics noted earlier, and makes itself a standout not only through its lyrical quest for freedom of mind and spirit, but through its near-orchestral progressive arrangement. The additional synth and mellotron give further breadth to that which the band has already established — and among those elements, the midsection a stretch of gotta-hear bass and guitar interplay well worth noting — particularly the mellotron arriving shortly before seven minutes in to lend a dramatic feel to “Floating”‘s apex before the return of the vocals ultimately bring it full circle. As the only inclusion to pass the 10-minute mark, “From the Void” is immediately distinct as well, but it’s more the hypnotic initial rhythm that makes it so, and the sense of arrival is multi-tiered. As listeners, we’ve arrived at that moment of freedom so fervently championed throughout the four songs prior, and as a band, Deep Space Destructors have arrived at a new level of presentation and storytelling in their work, creating a thematic arc to convey their ideas across the album’s entirety. That’s an achievement not to be understated, but their execution of the semi-title-track is in no way bludgeoning listeners with what’s happening.

Rather, it rolls out fluidly atop a steady push of drums as bass, guitar and synth craft a nod that’s both psychedelic and a fitting bed for the lyrics, a kind of watery chant that keeps aligned with space rock traditionalism even as the music behind seems to tap into mantra-ism in a different and exciting way. They cap in motorik but still smooth fashion with a guitar solo leading the way out toward what comes after the void. And one supposes that’s really the question that remains. Deep Space Destructors have found this avenue of expression and made it their own. Over the past six years, a steady growth has led them to this point, where the aspects of genre they’ve absorbed have been remade at their will. So what happens now? It does not seem to me that they’re at any kind of end point in their progression. Nothing on Visions from the Void indicates a feeling of being staid. So what comes after sonic enlightenment? Where in the cosmos do we go next? It’s a story that ends and begs further elaboration, and I for one can’t wait to find out in the next chapter from Deep Space Destructors.

Deep Space Destructors, Visions from the Void (2018)

Deep Space Destructors, “Floating” official video

Deep Space Destructors on Thee Facebooks

Deep Space Destructors on Bandcamp

Deep Space Destructors website

Space Rock Productions website

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Deep Space Destructors Set Dec. 10 Release for Visions from the Void; Preorders Available

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 21st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

deep space destructors

The Dec. 10 issue date for Visions of the Void will put it less than two years since Deep Space Destructors‘ last album, Psychedelogy (review here), and that’s how it should be. Proper space rock doesn’t happen just sometimes. It happens all the time. The universe doesn’t just expand every now and again, does it? Neither should the sounds that seek to portray or at least evoke some semblance of those cosmic reaches. Deep Space Destructors are well schooled on those ways at this point, and they seem to be continuing to further their reach as well this time out with guests like Dr. Space himself — whose Space Rock Productions label is also once again standing behind the vinyl release; preorders are up — as well as others helping further the interstellar cause.

I’m on board for the trip as ever with an asterisk as regards the artwork, but so it goes. Dudes have a history of providing choice heavy psych and there’s little reason to expect anything else this time out.

From the PR wire:

Visions from the Void gatefold front and back

Visions from the Void gatefold inside

Deep Space Destructors – “Visions From The Void”

Release date: 10th December 2018

Deep Space Destructors’ fifth album “Visions from the Void” is released on 10th of December 2018 on vinyl through Space Rock Productions, http://www.spacerockproductions.de , and digitally via universal digital platforms. The print will include 525 vinyls of black, blue and purple colours.

On “Visions from the Void” the psychedelic space rock trio travels even further to deep space within oneself while taking ample glances at the void. The album features five songs consisting of mantras, chants, psychedelic grooves, space rocking madness and progressive twists. Listener should be prepared to have one’s psyche remade while floating on a sonic astral travel through the void.

On “Visions from the Void” pieces of the DSD hivemind are aligned with Dr. Space, contributing analog synthesizers for the whole album, as well as Antti “Yskä” Ylijääskö playing saxophone on “Tyhjyyden Mantra”, Joonatan Elokuu Aaltonen devoting synthesizers, mellotron & guest vocals for “Floating”, and TYHJÄ PÄÄ (Void Head) providing analog space sounds & drones for “From the Void”.

“Visions from the Void” was recorded and mixed at Tonehaven Studios by Tom Brooke, while the guest artist were recorded in different locations. Mastering was done by Mojolab.

Yet again extremely talented Markus Räisänen provided the artwork and the gatefold images conjured by the artist will leave no spacehead cold.

Rise to the mountain, leave the Earth behind
Path to enlightenment, salvation of the mind

Side Space:
1. Psyche Remade (8:19)
2. Astral Traveller (6:15)
3. Tyhjyyden Mantra (9:17)

Side Void:
4. Floating (9:48)
5. From The Void (10:09?)

Band:
Jani Pitkänen – vocals, bass and percussions
Petri Lassila – guitar and backing vocals
Markus Pitkänen – drums

Guests:
Dr Space – analog synths (on all of the songs)
Antti “Yskä” Ylijääskö – saxophone (3)
Tyhjä Pää (Void Head) – analog space sounds and drones (5)
Joonatan Elokuu – synths, mellotron and vocals (4)

525 copies total on 180g vinyl
– 190x black
– 205x light blue
– 130x purple
Insert (30×30 cm, printed on both sides) / gatefold cover / hand numbered

Pre-order for this nice release starts Tuesday / 20th Nov.: https://www.sapphirerecords.de/epages/61252611.sf/en_GB/?ObjectPath=/Shops/61252611/Products/%2ALPDSD054

http://www.dsdband.space/
https://www.facebook.com/deepspacedestructors/
https://deepspacedestructors.bandcamp.com/
http://www.spacerockproductions.de
https://www.facebook.com/spacerockproductions.dk/

Deep Space Destructors, Psychedelogy (2017)

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Quarterly Review: Khemmis, Morag Tong, Holy Mushroom, Naisian, Haunted, Pabst, L.M.I., Fuzz Forward, Onségen Ensemble, The Heavy Eyes

Posted in Reviews on July 18th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-CALIFORNIA-LANDSCAPE-Julian-Rix-1851-1903

I always say the same thing on the Wednesday of the Quarterly Review. Day 3. The halfway point. I say it every time. The fact is, doing these things kind of takes it out of me. All of it. It’s not that I don’t enjoy listening to all these records — well, I don’t enjoy all of them, but I’m talking more about the process — just that it’s a lot to take in and by the time I’m done each day, let alone at the end of the week, I’m fairly exhausted. So every time we hit the halfway point of a Quarterly Review, I feel somewhat compelled to note it. Cresting the hill, as it were. It’s satisfying to get to this point without my head falling off.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Khemmis, Desolation

khemmis desolation

Continuing their proclivity for one-word titles, Denver doom forerunners Khemmis take a decisive turn toward the metallic with their third album for 20 Buck Spin, the six-track/41-minute Desolation. Songs like opener “Bloodletting” and its side B counterpart “The Seer” are still tinged with doom, but the NWOBHM gallop in “Isolation” and “Maw of Time” – as well as the sheer force of the latter – is an unexpected twist. Khemmis showed classic metal elements on 2016’s was-a-very-big-deal Hunted (review here) and 2015’s debut, Absolution (review here), but it’s a question of balance, and as they’ve once again worked with producer Dave Otero, one can only read the shift as a conscious decision. The harder edge suits them – certainly suits the screams in “Maw of Time” and side A finale/album highlight “Flesh to Nothing” – and as Khemmis further refine their sound, they craft its most individualized manifestation to-date. There’s no hearing Desolation and mistaking Khemmis for another band. They’ve come into their own.

Khemmis on Thee Facebooks

20 Buck Spin website

 

Morag Tong, Last Knell of Om

morag tong last knell of om

A rumbling entry into London’s Heavy Generation, the four-piece Morag Tong unfold voluminous ritual on their debut full-length, Last Knell of Om. Largely slow and largely toned, the work of guitarists Alex Clarke and Lewis Crane brings the low end to the forefront along with the bass of James Atha while drummer Adam Asquith pushes the lurch forward on cuts like “New Growth” and “To Soil,” the band seemingly most comfortable when engaged in crawling tempos and weighted pummel. Asquith also adds semi-shouted vocals to the mire, which, surrounded by distortion as they are, only make the proceedings sound even more massive. There’s an ambience to “We Answer” and near-13-minute closer “Ephemera: Stare Through the Deep,” which gives the record a suitably noisy finish, but much of what Morag Tong are going for in sound depends on the effectiveness of their tonality, and they’ve got that part down on their debut. Coupled with the meditative feel in some of this material, that shows marked potential on the band’s part for future growth.

Morag Tong on Thee Facebooks

Morag Tong on Bandcamp

 

Holy Mushroom, Blood and Soul

holy mushroom blood and soul

Working quickly to follow-up their earlier-2018 sophomore long-player, Moon (review here), Spain’s Holy Mushroom present Blood and Soul, an EP comprised of two songs recorded live in the studio. I’m not entirely sure why it’s split up at all, as the two-minute “Introito” – sure enough, a little introduction – feeds so smoothly into the 19-minute “Blood and Soul” itself, but fair enough either way as the trio shift between different instrumentation, incorporating sax, piano and organ among the guitar, bass, drums and vocals, and unfold a longform heavy psychedelic trip that not only builds on what they were doing with Moon but is every bit worthy of being released on its own. I don’t know if it was recorded at the same time as the record or later – both were done at Asturcon Studios – but it’s easy to see why the band would want to highlight “Blood and Moon.” Between the deep-running mix, the easy rhythmic flow into and out from drifting spaciousness, and the turn in the middle third toward more expansive arrangement elements, it’s an engaging motion that makes subtly difficult shifts seem utterly natural along the way. And even if you didn’t hear the latest full-length, Blood and Soul makes for a fitting introduction to who Holy Mushroom are as a band and what they can do.

Holy Mushroom on Thee Facebooks

Clostridium Records website

 

Naisian, Rejoinder

naisian rejoinder

Sludge-infused noise rock serves as the backdrop for lyrical shenanigans on the three-song Rejoinder EP from Sheffield, UK, trio Naisian. Running just 12 minutes, it’s a quick and thickened pummel enacted by the band, who work in shades of post-metal for “90 ft. Stone,” “Mantis Rising” and “Lefole,” most especially in the middle cut, but even there, the focus in on harsh vocals and lumbering sonic heft. It’s now been seven years since the band sort-of issued their debut album, Mammalian, and six since they followed with the Monocle EP, and the time seems to have stripped down their sound to a degree. “Lefole” is the longest track on Rejoinder at 5:18 and it’s still shorter than every other song Naisian have put out to-date. Their crunch lacks nothing for impact, however, and to go with the swing of “Lefole,” everybody seems to contribute to a vocal assault that only adds to the punishing but thoughtful vibe.

Naisian on Thee Facebooks

Naisian on Bandcamp

 

Haunted, Dayburner

haunted dayburner

The effects-laden vocal swirl at the outset of Haunted’s “Mourning Sun” and moments in the Italian act’s longer-form material, “Waterdawn” or “Orphic,” for example, will invariably lead some listeners to point to a Windhand influence, but the character of the band’s second album, Dayburner (on Twin Earth, DHU and Graven Earth all), follows their 2016 self-titled (review here) by holding steady to a developing identity of its own. To be sure, vocalist Christina Chimirri, guitarists Francesco Bauso and Francesco Orlando, bassist Frank Tudisco and drummer Dario Casabona make their way into a deep, murky swamp of modern doom in “Dayburner” (video posted here), but in the crush of their tones amid all that trance-inducing riffing, they cast themselves as an outfit seeking to express individuality within the set parameters of style. Their execution, then, is what it comes down to, and with “Orphic” (12:46) and “Vespertine” (13:19) back to back, there’s plenty of doom on the 66-minute 2LP to roll that out. And they do so in patient and successful form, with marked tonal vibrancy and a sense of controlling the storm they’re creating as they go.

Haunted on Thee Facebooks

Twin Earth Records website

DHU Records webstore

Graven Earth Records webstore

 

Pabst, Chlorine

pabst chlorine

So, the aesthetic is different. Pabst play a blend of noise, post-punk, heavy rock and grunge, but with the ready pop influence — to wit, the outright danceability of “Shits,” reminiscent in its bounce of later Queens of the Stone Age – and persistent melodicism, there’s just a twinge of what Mars Red Sky did for heavy rolling riffs happening on Chlorine, their Crazysane Records debut. It’s in that blend of dense low-end fuzz and brighter vocal melodies, but again, Pabst, hailing from Berlin, are on their own trip. Weird but almost more enjoyable than it seems to want to be, the 12-track/35-minute outing indulges little and offers singalong-ready vibes in “Catching Feelings” and “Waterslide” while “Waiting Loop” chills out before the push of “Accelerate” and the angularity of “Cheapskate” take hold. Chrlorine careens and (blue) ribbons its way to the drive-fast-windows-open stylization of “Summer Never Came” and the finale “Under Water,” a vocal effect on the latter doing nothing to take away from its ultra-catchy hook. It’s not for everyone, but it’s a record someone with just the right kind of open mind can come to love.

Pabst on Thee Facebooks

Crazysane Records webstore

 

L.M.I., IV

lmi iv

If you’ve got a dank basement full of skinny college kids, chances are Lansdale, Pennsylvania’s L.M.I. are ready to tear their faces off. The sludge-thickened riff punkers run abut 11 minutes with their five-song release, L.M.I. IV, and that’s well enough time to get their message across. Actually, by the end of “Neck of Tension” and “Weaning Youth,” roughly four and half minutes in, the statement of intent is pretty clear. L.M.I. present furious but grooving hardcore punk more given to scathe than pummel, and their inclusions on L.M.I. IV bring that to life with due sense of controlled chaos. Centerpiece “Lurking Breath” gives way to “First to Dark” – the longest cut at a sprawling 2:55 – and they save a bit of grunge guitar scorch and lower-register growling for closer “June was a Test,” there isn’t really time in general for any redundancy to take hold. That suits the feeling of assault well, as L.M.I. get in and get out on the quick and once they’re gone, all that’s left to do is clean the blood off the walls.

L.M.I. on Thee Facebooks

L.M.I. on Bandcamp

 

Fuzz Forward, Out of Nowhere

fuzz forward out of nowhere

Released one way or another through Discos Macarras, Odio Sonoro, Spinda Records and Red Sun Records, the eight-song/43-minute debut album from Barcelona’s Fuzz Forward, Out of Nowhere, has earned acclaim from multiple corners for its interpretation of grunge-era melodies through a varied heavy rock filter. Indeed, the vocals of Juan Gil – joined in the band by guitarist Edko Fuzz, bassist Jordi Vaquero and drummer Marc Rockenberg – pull the mind directly to a young Layne Staley, and forces one to realize it’s been a while since that low-in-the-mouth approach was so ubiquitous. It works well for Gil in the laid back “Summertime Somersaults” as well as the swinging, cowbell-infused later cut “Drained,” and as the band seems to foreshadow richer atmospheric exploration on “Thorns in Tongue” and “Torches,” they nonetheless maintain a focus on songwriting that grounds the proceedings and will hopefully continue to serve as their foundation as they move forward. No argument with the plaudits they’ve thus far received. Seems doubtful they’ll be the last.

Fuzz Forward on Thee Facebooks

Fuzz Forward on Bandcamp

 

Onségen Ensemble, Duel

Onsegen ensemble duel

The kind of record you’re doing yourself a favor by hearing – a visionary cast of progressive psychedelia that teems with creative energy and is an inspiration even in the listening. Frankly, the only thing I’m not sure about when it comes to Oulu, Finland, outfit Onségen Enseble’s second album, Duel, is why it isn’t being released through Svart Records. It seems like such a natural fit, with the adventurous woodwinds on opener “Think Neither Good Nor Evil,” the meditative sprawl of the title-track (video posted here), the jazz-jam in the middle of “Dogma MMXVII,” the tribalist percussion anchoring the 12-minute “Three Calls of the Emperor’s Teacher,” which surely would otherwise float away under its own antigravity power, and the free-psych build of closer “Zodiacal Lights of Onségen,” which shimmers in otherworldly fashion and improvised-sounding spark. On Svart or not, Duel is one of the best albums I’ve heard this year, and one the creativity of which puts it in a class of its own, even in the vast reaches of psychedelic rock. Whether it means to or not, it tells a story with sound, and that story should be heard.

Onségen Ensemble on Thee Facebooks

Onsegen Ensemble on Bandcamp

 

The Heavy Eyes, Live in Memphis

the heavy eyes live in memphis

Since so much of The Heavy Eyes’ studio presentation has consistently been about crispness of sound and structured songwriting, it’s kind of a relief to hear them knock into some feedback at the start of “Mannish Boy” at the outset of Live in Memphis (on Kozmik Artifactz). The three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Tripp Shumake, bassist Wally Anderson and drummer Eric Garcia are still tight as hell, of course, and their material – drawn here from the band’s LPs, 2015’s He Dreams of Lions (review here), 2012’s Maera, 2011’s self-titled, as well as sundry shorter offerings – is likewise. They’ve never been an overly dangerous band, nor have they wanted to be, but the stage performance does add a bit of edge to “Iron Giants” from the debut, which is followed by singing “Happy Birthday” to a friend in the crowd. One of the most enjoyable aspects of Live in Memphis is hearing The Heavy Eyes loosen up a bit on stage, and hearing them sound like they’re having as good a time playing as the crowd is watching and hearing them do so. That sense of fun suits them well.

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The Heavy Eyes at Kozmik Artifactz

 

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Onségen Ensemble Post Video for Title-Track of New Album Duel

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 10th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Onsegen Ensemble

I don’t have an excuse for missing out on Onségen Ensemble‘s early 2016 debut release, Awalaï. I’m sure you heard it, because you’re on your stuff like that. The album was released by Pink Tank Records, who are a label I hear from regularly, and the Finnish psychedelic collective’s work is so much right up my alley that I’m a little sad no one tipped me off between then and now and said, “Uh hey dude you should probably check his stuff out,” because god damn, I wish I had. It’s the kind of thing I might end up closing out a week with just so I can talk about it. Friday Full-Length, and all that.

Anyway, the better news — though I’m not sure finding out about an awesome band counts as “bad news,” even when one factors in the punk rock guilt of not getting in on the ground floor — is that Onségen Ensemble have a second record, titled Duel, coming out this summer. Based in the psychedelic hotbed of Oulu, the band’s own Esa Juujärvi brought the work to my attention by sending the link to the video for the title-track, and maybe it was the resonance of the juxtaposition in the lyrics “We are all in this together/Burn, burn the world” that hit me so hard, or maybe it was just the spaciousness of the whole thing, or the chill of the video, but yeah, if it wasn’t so soothing, I’d say it hit me like a ton of bricks.

So I’m posting the video as advance notice of the album. It’s been out for a few days already, but screw it. I don’t think Onségen Ensemble have a set release date for Duel, but when I hear of one I’ll get it posted accordingly. Now that I have my head out of my ass on the matter (and only on this matter, rest assured), I’ll try not to let any news/updates slip by. Fingers crossed it’s out sooner than later.

Dig the video below, and please enjoy:

Onségen Ensemble, “Duel” official video

DUEL – the second album by Onségen Ensemble out this summer. Check out the title song now!

Onségen Ensemble is a group of musicians from northern Finland. This periodically active ensemble continues Onségen’s musical legacy with a new album which will be released in the summer of 2018. The album contains a multilevel and experimental fusion of postrock, jazz and stoner, mixed with touches of cinematic and flamboyant overtones.

Onségen Ensemble – Duel
1. Think Neither Good Nor Evil
2. Duel
3. Dogma MMXVIII
4. Zodiacal Lights of Onségen
5. Three Calls of the Emperor’s Teacher

Onségen Ensemble is:
Juggis Aalto, Heikki Häkkilä, Esa Juujärvi, Merja Järvelin, Sami Lehtiniemi, Samuli Lindberg, Joni Mäkelä, Jaakko Tuomivaara, Niina Vahtola and Mikko Vuorela.

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Onségen Ensemble on Bandcamp

Onségen Ensemble website

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Quarterly Review: Pallbearer, Dread Sovereign, Lizzard Wizzard, Oulu Space Jam Collective, Frozen Planet….1969, Ananda Mida, Strange Broue, Orango, Set and Setting, Dautha

Posted in Reviews on March 27th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

cropped-Charles-Meryon-Labside-Notre-Dame-1854

Here we are, on the precipice looking out over a spread that will include 50 reviews by the week’s end. Somehow when it comes around to a Quarterly Review Monday I always end up taking a moment to ask myself if I’ve truly lost my mind, if I really expect to be able to do this and not fall completely flat on my face, and just where the hell this terrible idea came from in the first place. But you know what? I haven’t flubbed one yet. We get through it. There’s a lot to go through, for me and you both, but sometimes it’s fun to be completely overwhelmed by music. I hope you agree, and I hope you find something this week that hits you in that oh-yeah-that’s-why-I-love-this kind of way. Time’s wasting. Let’s get started.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Pallbearer, Heartless

pallbearer heartless

Three albums and nearly a decade into their tenure, Pallbearer stand at the forefront of American doom, and their third outing, Heartless (on Profound Lore), only reinforces this position while at the same time expanding beyond genre lines in ways that even their 2014 sophomore effort, Foundations of Burden, simply couldn’t have done. A seven-song/hour-long sprawl is marked out by resonant melodies, soulful melancholy conveyed by guitarist/vocalist Brett Campbell – the returning lineup completed by guitarist Devin Holt, bassist Joseph D. Rowland and drummer Mark Lierly – and tonal weight set to a mix by Joe Barresi, who from opener “I Saw the End” onward arranges layers gorgeously so that extended pieces like “Dancing in Madness” (11:48) and closer “A Plea for Understanding” (12:40) become even more consuming. What comes through most resolute on Heartless, though, is that it’s time to stop thinking of Pallbearer as belonging to some established notion of doom or any other subgenre. With these songs, they make it clear they’ve arrived at their own wavelength and are ready to stand up to the influence they’ve already begun to have on other acts. A significant achievement.

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Profound Lore Records website

 

Dread Sovereign, For Doom the Bell Tolls

dread-sovereign-for-doom-the-bell-tolls

With the considerable frontman presence of Primordial’s Alan Averill on vocals and bass, the considerable riffing of guitarist Bones (also of Wizards of Firetop Mountain) and the considerable lumber in the drumming of Johnny King (ex-Altar of Plagues), Dread Sovereign make some considerable fucking doom indeed. Their second album, For Doom the Bell Tolls (on Ván Records), follows three years behind their debut, 2014’s All Hell’s Martyrs (review here), and wastes no time giving the devil his due – or his doom, if you prefer – in the span of its six tracks and 37 minutes. Atmospheric and seemingly on an endless downward plod, the 13-minute “Twelve Bells Toll in Salem” is a defining moment, but the trad metallurgy of “This World is Doomed” rounds out side A with some welcome thrust, and after the intro “Draped in Sepulchral Fog,” “The Spines of Saturn” and the thrashing “Live Like and Angel, Die Like a Devil” play dramatic and furious intensities off each other in a manner that would seem to truly represent the fine art of not giving a shit what anyone thinks about what you do or what box you’re supposed to fit into. Righteous. Considerably so.

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Ván Records website

 

Lizzard Wizzard, Total War Power Bastard

lizzard-wizzard-total-war-power-bastard

Noise, largesse of riffs and shouted vocals that distinctly remind of Souls at Zero-era Neurosis pervade the near-hour-long run of Lizzard Wizzard’s Total War Power Bastard, but as much as the Brisbane four-piece willfully give themselves over to fuckall – to wit, the title “Medusa but She Gets You Stoned Instead of Turning You to Stone, Instead of Snakes She has Vaporizers on His Head… Drugs” – songs like “Shithead Nihilism,” “Pizza” and the droning “Snake Arrow” brim with purpose and prove affecting in their atmosphere and heft alike. Yes, they have a song called “Nerd Smasher,” and they deserve all credit for that as they follow-up their 2013 self-titled (review here), but by the time they get down to the roll-happy “Crystal Balls” and the feedback-caked “Megaflora” at the record’s end, guitarists Michael Clarke and Nick McKeon, bassist Stef Roselli and drummer Luke Osborne end up having done something original with a Sleep influence, and that’s even more commendable.

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Lizzard Wizzard on Bandcamp

 

Oulu Space Jam Collective, EP1

Oulu-Space-Jam-Collective-ep1

Should mention two things outright about Oulu Space Jam Collective’s EP1. First and foremost, its three songs run over 95 minutes long, so if it’s an EP, one can only imagine what qualifies as a “full-length.” Second, the Finnish outfit releasing EP1 on limited tape through Eggs in Aspic isn’t to be confused with Denmark’s Øresund Space Collective. Oulu is someplace else entirely, and likewise, Oulu Space Jam Collective have their own intentions as they show in the 57-minute opener “Renegade Spaceman,” recorded live in the studio in 2014 (they’ve since made two sequels) and presented in six movements including samples, drones, enough swirl for, well, 57 minutes, and a hypnotism that’s nigh on inescapable. I won’t take away from the space rock thrust of 14-minute closer “Artistic Supplies for Moon Paint Mafia” (also tracked in 2014), but the smooth progressive edge of three-part 24-minute centerpiece “Approaching Beast Moon of Baxool” is where it’s at for me – though if you want a whole galaxy to explore, hit up their Bandcamp.

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Eggs in Aspic webstore

 

Frozen Planet…. 1969, Electric Smokehouse

frozen-planet-1969-electric-smokehouse

They freak out a bit toward the end of 12-minute opener “Ascendant” and in the second half of the subsequent “Supersaturation,” but for the most part, Aussie three-piece Frozen Planet…. 1969 play it weirdo-cool on their fourth full-length, the excellently-titled Electric Smokehouse (on Pepper Shaker Records). From those jams to the dreamy beachside drift of “Shores of Oblivion” to the funky-fuzz bass of “Sonic Egg Factory” to the quick noise finish of “Pretty Blown Fuse” – which may or may not be the sound of malfunctioning equipment run through an oscillator or some other effects-whatnot, the instrumentalist Sydney/Canberra trio seem to improv a healthy percentage of their fare, if not all of it, and that spirit of spontaneity feeds into the easygoing atmosphere only enhanced by the cover art. On a superficial level, you know you’re getting psych jams going into it, but once you put on Electric Smokehouse, the urge to get lost in the tracks is nigh on overwhelming, and that proves greatly to their credit. Wake up someplace else.

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Pepper Shaker Records on Bandcamp

 

Ananda Mida, Anodnatius

ananda-mida-anodnatius

Ananda Mida make their debut on Go Down Records with Anodnatius, fluidly working their way around heavy psychedelic and more driving rock influences propelled by drummer Massimo “Max Ear” Recchia, also of underrated Italian forebears OJM. Here, Recchia anchors a seven-piece lineup including two vocalists in Oscar de Bertoldi and Filippo Leonardi, two guitarists in Matteo Scolaro and Alessandro Tedesco, as well as bassist Davide Bressan and organist Stefano Pasqualetto, so suffice it to say songs like the subtly grungy “Passvas,” the dreamy highlight “Heropas” or the vaguely progressive “Askokinn” want nothing for fullness, but there seem to be moments throughout Anodnatius as on “Lunia” and the shuffling “Kondur” early into the proceedings where the band wants to break out and push toward something heavier. Their restraint is to be commended since it serves the interests of songcraft, but part of me can’t help but wonder what might happen if these guys really let loose on some boogie jams. Keep an ear open to find out, as I have a feeling they might be headed in just that direction.

Ananda Mida on Thee Facebooks

Go Down Records website

 

Strange Broue, Seance

strange-broue-seance

The heart of Séance – The Satanic Sounds of Strange Broue might come in the 11-minute sample dump that is “Cults and Crimes,” late into the second half of the 52-minute album. Capturing meticulously compiled news and talk-show clips from the late ‘80s, some of which talk about the Satanic roots of heavy metal, it gets to the ritualism that Quebec four-piece Strange Broue proliferate elsewhere on the record in the lo-fi post-Electric Wizard doom of “Satan’s Slaves,” “Kill What’s Inside of You” and the rolling opener “Ritualize” (video here). These pieces offset by other interludes of noise and drone and samples like “Satanic Panic,” “In Nomine Dei Nostri Satanis, Luciferi Excelsis,” the acoustic-until-it-gets-shot-in-the-woods “Las Bas,” the John Carpenter-esque “Séance IV – L’Invocation” and the extended penultimate drone of “Séance V – The Mystifying Oracle with Bells” ahead of the countrified pop gospel of “Satan is Real,” which finishes in subversive fashion, interrupted by more news reports and a finishing assault of noise. Like an arts project in the dark arts, Séance crosses some familiar terrain but finds Strange Broue on their own trip through cultish immersion, as psychological as it is psychedelic.

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Sunmask Records webstore

 

Orango, The Mules of Nana

orango-the-mules-of-nana

Not much to argue with in the sixth long-player from Helge Kanck, Trond Slåke and Hallvard Gaardløs, collectively known as Orango. As they make their way onto Stickman Records (which also handled Euro distro for their last album, 2014’s Battles) with The Mules of Nana, the Norwegian trio deep-dive into harmony-topped ‘70s-style vibing that, well, leaves the bulk of “retro” bands in their V8-crafted dust. Mind you they do so by not being a retro band. True, the fuzz on “The Honeymoon Song” and “Head on Down” is as organic as if you happened on it in some forest where all the trees were wearing bellbottoms, but if you told me it was true, I’d believe Orango recorded The Mules of Nana onto – gasp! – a computer. I don’t know if that’s the case or not, but “Heirs,” the sweetly acoustic “Give Me a Hundred” and motoring “Hazy Chain of Mountains” find Orango making no attempt to cloak a lack of songwriting or performance chops in a production aesthetic. Rather, in the tradition of hi-fi greats, they sound as full and rich as possible and utterly live up to the high standard they set for themselves. Pure win in classic, dynamic fashion.

Orango on Thee Facebooks

Stickman Records website

 

Set and Setting, Reflectionless

set-and-setting-reflectionless

There’s an undercurrent of metal that’s quick to show itself on Set and Setting’s Reflectionless. The instrumentalist Floridian five-piece delve plenty deep into heavy post-rock on cuts like the shoegazing “Incandescent Gleam” and subsequent “Specular Wavefront Of…” but they’re not through opener “Saudade” before harder-edged chug emerges, and “…The Idyllic Realm”’s blastbeating nods at black metal while the churning endgame build of closer “Ephemerality” holds tight to a progressive execution. While its textural foundation will likely ring familiar to followers of Russian Circles ultimately, Reflectionless finds distinction in aligning the various paths it walks as it goes, creating an overarching flow that draws strength from its diversity of approach rather than sounding choppy, confused or in conflict with itself. Not revolutionary by any means, but engaging throughout and with a residual warmth to complement what might seem at first to be a purely cerebral approach. It offers more on repeat listens, so let it sink in.

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Set and Setting webstore

 

Dautha, Den Foerste

dautha-den-foerste

Primo short offering of pure, fistpump-ready, violin-infused doom traditionalism. I don’t know what Norrköping, Sweden’s Dautha – the five-piece of vocalist Lars Palmqvist, guitarists Erik Öquist and Ola Blomkvist, bassist Emil Åström and drummer Micael Zetterberg – are planning to do for a follow-up, but this Den Foerste (or Den Förste) two-tracker recalls glory-era Candlemass and willfully soars with no sense of irony on “Benandanti” and “In Between Two Floods” after the intro “Horkarlar Skall Slås Ihjäl,” and having already sold out a self-released pressing leaves little to wonder what would’ve caught the esteemed tastes of Ván Records. And by that I mean it’s fucking awesome. I’m ready for a full-length whenever they are, and from the poise with which Palmqvist carries the melodies of these tracks, the quality of the riffing and the depth of arrangement the violin adds to the overarching mournfulness, they definitely sound ready. So get on it. 15 minutes of dirge-making this gorgeous simply isn’t enough.

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Ván Records website

 

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