Quarterly Review: Horsehunter, Church, Corpse Light, Sunder, T-Tops, The Space Merchants, Etiolated, Blown Out, Les Discrets, Beast Modulus

Posted in Reviews on June 30th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

the obelisk summer quarterly review

Day one down and feeling good so far. Day two continues the thread of mixing more known quantities with bands either self-releasing or putting out demos, etc., and I like that. More than last time around — last quarter, if you want to use the business-y sounding language for it — I tried to really get a balance across this batch of reviews, posted yesterday and coming up over the next couple days. We’ll see how it works out when it’s over. It remains a ton of stuff, and I hope you dig it. Day two starts right now.

Quarterly review #11-20:

Horsehunter, Caged in Flesh

horsehunter caged in flesh

Pushing their way to the fore of Melbourne’s heavy surge, double-guitar four-piece Horsehunter proffer oppressive tonal crush on the four tracks of their 2LP Magnetic Eye Records debut, Caged in Flesh. The story goes that, unsatisfied the initial recordings weren’t heavy enough, the band – guitarists Michael Harutyanyan (also vocals) and Dan McDonald, bassist/vocalist Himi Stringer and drummer Nick Cron – went back into the studio and redid the entire thing. Mission accomplished. By the time 16-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Stoned to Death” is done, lungs are suitably deflated, spines are cracked, skulls cleaved, and so on. They’re hardly the only ones in the world to conjure formidable tonal heft, but it’s the deft changes in vocals – clean here, shouts there, more abrasive at the start of the title-track – and the sense of atmosphere in the three-minute penultimate interlude that really distinguish Horsehunter, as well as how smoothly that atmosphere integrates with the pummel in the second half of closer “Witchery,” attention to detail and awareness of the need for more than just sonic weight boding well for future progression.

Horsehunter on Thee Facebooks

Magnetic Eye Records on Bandcamp

Church, Unanswered Hymns

church unanswered hymns

A staggeringly heavy debut full-length from Sacramento, CA, five-piece Church, Unanswered Hymns was initially released digitally by the band and quickly picked up for a cassette issue by Transylvanian Tapes and forthcoming LP through Battleground Records. One gets the sense listening to the three extended tracks – 19-minute opener “Dawning” being the longest of the bunch (immediate points) – that those won’t be the last versions to come. Psychedelic doom blends seamlessly with vicious sludge extremity, creating a morass engulfing in its tones, spacious in its breadth and unrepentantly heavy, making it one of 2015’s best debut releases, hands down, and a glorious revelry in bleak tectonics that challenges the listener to match its level of melancholy without giving into an impulse for post-Pallbearer emotive theatrics. As thrilling as they are plodding, expect the echoes of “Dawning,” “Stargazer” and “Offering” to resonate for some time to come, and should Church show any predilection for touring in the next couple years, they have the potential to make a genuine impact on American doom. Yes, I mean it.

Church on Thee Facebooks

Transylvanian Tapes

Battleground Records

Corpse Light, Without Form

corpse light without form

Recorded in a day and released by Grimoire Records, the four-track Without Form is slated as the debut from Baltimore atmospheric doomers Corpse Light, but the band have had tracks come out in drips and drabs since getting their start as Ophidian in mid-2012, even if this is their first proper release. Either way, “The Fool” sets up an immediate and grim ambience, the churning lurch from guitarists Keiran Holmes and Don Selner and bassist Aurora Raiten set to roll by Lawrence Grimes (The Osedax) and given earthy aggression by the vocals of Jim Webb. “Lying in State” fleshes out these morose aggro vibes, but it’s with the drop-everything-and-kill peak of the subsequent “R Complex” that Corpse Light hit their angriest mark. If Without Form was just about that, it would be the highlight, but the album’s 29 minutes have more to offer than pissed off tonally-weighted post-hardcore, as closer “Kenophobia”’s clever turns and deceptive forward momentum demonstrate, though a touch of that kind of thing never hurts either.

Corpse Light on Thee Facebooks

Grimoire Records on Bandcamp

Sunder, Demo

sunder demo

Heavy psych four-piece Sunder will make their debut this summer through Tee Pee and Crusher Records with a 7” for “Cursed Wolf,” so consider this notice of the tracks on their not-for-public-consumption demo a heads up on things to come. Their “Deadly Flower” was streamed here this past April, and the band’s previous incarnation, The Socks, released their self-titled debut (review here) on Small Stone in 2014, but with songs like the key-laced stomper “Bleeding Trees,” the ‘70s rusher “Against the Grain,” and the Uncle Acid-style swinging “Daughter of the Snows,” the Lyon, France, outfit continue to refine a style drawing together different vibes of the psychedelic era. “Deadly Flower” was also distinguished by its key work, and as for “Cursed Wolf” itself, the melody reminds of proto-psych Beatles singles (thinking “Rain” specifically), but the groove still holds firm to a sense of weight that’s thoroughly modern, and by that I mean it sounds like 1972. Keep an eye out.

Sunder on Thee Facebooks

Tee Pee Records

T-Tops, T-Tops

t-tops t-tops

Granted not everyone is going to make this immediate association, but when I first saw the moniker T-Tops, I couldn’t help think of like C-grade generic stonerisms, songs about beer and pretending to be from the South and all that. If you experienced something similar in seeing the name, rest easy. The Pittsburgh trio of guitarist/vocalist Pat Waters (ex-The Fitt, Wormrigg), bassist Jason Orr (Wormrigg) and drummer Jason Jouver (ex-Don Caballero) are down with far more sinister punk and noise on their self-titled, self-released debut full-length, riding, shooting straight and speaking truth on cuts like “Wipe Down” and the catchy “Pretty on a Girl” after the tense sampling of “A Certain Cordial Exhilaration” turns over the power-push to “Cruisin’ for a Bruisin’.” “Ralphie” is probably an inside-joke if not a Christmas Story reference, but point is these guys are way less about-to-sing-about-muscle-cars than the name implies and their tight, crisp rhythmic turns come accompanied by vicious tonal force and an utter lack of bullshit, which is a scenario far preferable to that which one might otherwise expect.

T-Tops on Thee Facebooks

T-Tops on Bandcamp

The Space Merchants, The Space Merchants

the space merchants the space merchants

Issued by Aqulamb in the imprint’s standard 100-page art book/download format, the self-titled debut from fellow Brooklynites The Space Merchants seeks to draw a line between psychedelic rock and country. And not pretend country like people with a Johnny Cash fetish because he covered that Nine Inch Nails song one time – actual, bright, pastoral, classic country. Call the results psychtwang and applaud the effort, which works oddly well in a thoroughly vintage context to come across on “Mainline the Sun” like something from a lost ‘60s variety show. Parts of “One Cut Like the Moon” and the later fuzz of “One Thousand Years of Boredom” give away their modernity, but The Space Merchants’ push toward a stylistic niche suits them well, and the intertwined vocal arrangements from guitarist Michael Guggino, bassist Aileen Brophy and keyboardist Ani MonteleoneCarter Logan drums to round out the four-piece – add to the rich, welcoming feel that remains prevalent even as the eight-minute “Where’s the Rest of Life” slips into wah-soaked noise to finish out.

The Space Merchants on Thee Facebooks

Aqualamb on Bandcamp

Etiolated, Grey Limbs, Grey Skies

etoliated grey limbs grey skies

The undercurrent of black metal coursing beneath the surface of Etiolated’s debut full-length, Grey Limbs, Grey Skies, eventually comes to the surface in 10-minute opener “Internal Abyss” and 16-minute eponymous closer, which bookends, but in part it’s the tension of waiting for those rampaging surges that keeps one hooked to the Armus Productions release. Guttural death growls echo up from dense tonal reaches, and tempo shifts, whether in those longer tracks or three-minute lumbering slice “Futility” are fluid, the North Carolina five-piece executing a slow-grinding chug in centerpiece “Exsanguinate,” which seems like a murk without end until the 1:47 “For Your Hell” kicks into a speedier, more blackened rush, guest vocalist Ryan McCarthy joining guitarist/vocalists James Storelli and Walls, bassist Cody Rogers and drummer Elliot Thompson in furthering the already prevalent sense of extremism before “Etiolated,” after a surprisingly peaceful if brooding midsection, plods the album to a close. To say “not for the faint of heart” would be putting it lightly, but if I had a vest and if Etiolated had patches, the two parties would definitely meet up at some point in the near future.

Etiolated on Thee Facebooks

Armus Productions on Bandcamp

Blown Out, Planetary Engineering

blown out planetary engineering

It has not taken long for the discography of UK psych jammers Blown Out to become a populated murky cosmos of its own. Planetary Engineering is released on Oaken Palace Records and finds the three-piece of guitarist Mike Vest (also Bong, etc.), bassist John-Michael Hedley (also Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs) and drummer Matt Baty (also the head of Box Records) exploring two mesmeric and sprawling instrumentals – one per side – that bend and flourish and hypnotize in organically-concocted swirl. Side A’s “Transcending Deep Infinity” tops 20 minutes and shifts from its spacey build to a low key groove at about 7:30 in, pulsing forward once more amid head-turning repetition, deep echoes and longform nod, culminating in a two-minute fadeout that brings forward “Thousand Years in the Sunshine,” an immediate bass groove and interstellar swirl no less trance-inducing than its predecessor. Cyclical drum fills morph over time behind the guitar and bass, and Planetary Engineering seems to push continually further out until, of course, it disintegrates, presumably as it crosses the galactic barrier.

Blown Out on Thee Facebooks

Oaken Palace Records on Bandcamp

Les Discrets, Live at Roadburn

les discrets live at roadburn

I was fortunate enough to have been in attendance at Het Patronaat in Tilburg when French post-black metallers Les Discrets took the stage at Roadburn 2013. As such, it’s with some trepidation I approach their Live at Roadburn recording on Prophecy Productions – the impression they made live wasn’t something I’d want potentially spoiled or brought to earth by a document proving it was just another set. With Neige of Alcest on bass with guitarist/vocalist Fursy Teyssier, Les Discrets proved to be something really special to those who, like me, were there to catch them, and the eight-track Live at Roadburn – fortunately – captures both the majestic lushness they brought with them and the underlying weight that seemed to add impact to the material. What might sound like post-production mixing on “L’Echappée” or the wash of “Chanson D’Automne” isn’t – it really was that beautiful and that perfectly balanced coming from the stage. A vastly underrated act and a document that reminds of how stellar they were without sullying the memory in the slightest.

Les Discrets on Thee Facebooks

Prophecy Productions

Beast Modulus, Beast Modulus

beast-modulus-beast-modulus

Brooklynite foursome Beast Modulus seem to care less about meshing with ideas of genre than sticking them in a meatgrinder and seeing what comes out. To wit the riotous chugging of “Cowboy Caligula,” and the blackened thrust of “WaSaBi!” on their self-released, self-titled outing, which leads to dueling growls and screams on the tonally weighted post-hardcore “Fabulous,” and the appropriately mathy turns of the thrashing “Tyranny of Numbers.” Inventive in their stylizations and in where the six songs included on the release actually go – hint: they go to “heavy” – the lineup of vocalist Kurt Applegate, guitarist Owen Burley, bassist Jesse Adelson and drummer Jody Smith have some post-Dillinger Escape Plan vibe in the calculated chaos of “Kalashnikov,” but closer “Killing Champion” is too impatient to even be held by that, the prevailing manic angularity of Beast Modulus ultimately crafting its own identity from the physical assault the music seems intent on perpetrating upon the listener.

Beast Modulus on Thee Facebooks

Beast Modulus on Bandcamp

 

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Carousel Announce New LP 2113 Due Aug. 28

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 26th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

carousel

A wiser person than myself once opined that there are two kinds of people in this world, Rush fans and everyone else. Pittsburgh heavy rockers Carousel obviously know their target demographic lies within the former contingent. Their second album for Tee Pee Records2113 — as in, one more than 2112 — will be released on Aug. 28. The Scion Rock Fest veterans will have released their debut on the label almost exactly two years prior in the form of Jeweler’s Daughter (reviewed/streamed here), a record no less leggy than its cover art and which has stood up to any good times its been asked to complement since.

2113 is nothing if not an ambitious title, but with the arrival of Pentagram/The Skull guitarist Matt Goldsborough to the lineup — he’s not the only one with connections to a classic band; drummer Jake Leger doubles in Bang — Carousel look to step out beyond their debut, or at very least troll some Rush fans by covering Joe Walsh, which is no less entertaining.

The PR wire speaks:

carousel 2113

CAROUSEL to Release New Album, 2113, August 28

Hard-Rocking PA Group Set to Unleash Follow-Up to Celebrated Debut, Jeweler’s Daughter

Pittsburgh hard rock heroes CAROUSEL will release their sophomore LP 2113 on August 28 via Tee Pee Records. The eagerly-anticipated follow up to CAROUSEL’s revered debut, Jeweler’s Daughter, 2113 is a midnight binge-blur of muscular, dynamic R’N’R, filled with timeless hooks and killer, scorching solos. On the new album, CAROUSEL welcomes new guitarist Matt Goldsborough — also of Pentagram and The Skull — into the band, joining the formidable lineup of Dave Wheeler (guitar, vocals), Jake Leger (drums) and Jim Wilson (bass).

CAROUSEL is a band that knows how to capture your attention; the group has the unique ability to filter the music of their childhood heroes through a contemporary lens. On 2113, the four-piece unleashes charged-up rhythms and wicked dual-guitar harmonies that lay a strong foundation for the shining voice and catchy choruses of front man Dave Wheeler. 2113 is the ultimate nighttime driving music; a head-turning blend of Casablanca-era KISS and prime time Thin Lizzy with one foot in the past and the other firmly secured in the future. 2113 also contains a “hidden” bonus cover of the Joe Walsh classic, “Turn to Stone”.

2113 Track listing:
1.) Trouble
2.) Photograph
3.) Buried Alive in Your Arms
4.) Jim’s Song
5.) Highway Strut
6.) Strange Revelation
7.) Man Like Me
8.) 2113
9.) Turn to Stone (Joe Walsh cover)

https://instagram.com/carouselpgh/
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Carousel/220084014687656
http://teepeerecords.com/

Carousel, Live at 31st St. Pub, Pittsburgh, PA, 02.12.15

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Backwoods Payback Announce Acoustic European Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 24th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

backwoods-payback

Fresh off completing the second of consecutive June weekenders heading out from their home base in West Chester, Pennsylvania, grit rock trio Backwoods Payback have announced they’ll make their inaugural incursion to European shores in July. Quite a jump from one to the other, but the band promised a return to activity when those weekenders were first posted, teasing the possibility of a new album to be recorded that would serve as the follow-up to their 2011 Small Stone debut, Momantha (review here), the arrival of their new drummer Pierson Roe and so on, and touring in the UK and Europe certainly counts as a return to activity, so they’re nothing if not keeping their word.

Operating as the trio of guitarist/vocalist Mike Cummings, bassist Jessica Baker and the aforementioned Roe — who, since it’s an acoustic run, I’m not even sure will be making the trip — Backwoods Payback will begin in London on July 9 and work their way from there into Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and France, finishing with two nights in Paris. Kind of curious that they’d make their first tour abroad unplugged, but then, I guess that’s less amps to cart around and/or a cheaper backline. Hard not to admire the pick-up-your-guitar-and-go ideal under which they seem to be working, if nothing else.

And if you happen to be in that part of the world and free one of these nights from what I’ve no doubt is a busy schedule, tell them I said hi.

Tour announcement follows:

backwoods payback euro tour

Next month JULY 2015 we hit Europe for the first time ever. Acoustic shows throughout the land. Can’t wait to meet everyone across the pond!!

07/09 London UK Bowler Pub
07/10 Kingston UK Wiloughby Arms
07/12 Berlin DE Schokoladen
07/13 Berlin DE Arconoa
07/14 Amsterdam NL Backstage Hotel
07/15 Amsterdam NL Muzieke Cafe
07/16 Cologne DE Tankstelle
07/17 Liege BE Le Surlet
07/19 Paris FR The Pop In
07/20 Paris FR Le Tennessee

https://www.facebook.com/backwoodspayback
https://twitter.com/BckwoodsPayback
http://backwoodspayback.bandcamp.com/
https://instagram.com/backwoodspayback/

Backwoods Payback, In the Ditch (2014)

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Clamfight Recording Update, Pt. 1

Posted in Features on June 16th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

clamfight 1

So this is part one of the Clamfight recording update — the heavy thrashing Philly four-piece in the studio at Gradwell House with Steve Poponi at the helm as they track their third full-length, yet untitled — but it might be a while before we see part two. As drummer/vocalist/smith of words Andy Martin explains, the process of making this outing is different from either their self-titled 2010 debut (review here) or the subsequent I vs. the Glacier (track-by-track here), which was released on this site’s then-not-at-all-defunct in-house label, The Maple Forum, in that it will have a two-month break in between its start and its completion.

A strange process? Yes. But as Martin — joined in the band by lead guitarist Sean McKee, guitarist Joel Harris and bassist Louis Koble — informs, the album itself is also pretty different from what they’ve done before, so maybe in a way it’s fitting. Perhaps best to let him tell the tale:

DIG IF YOU WILL, A PICTURE:

It’s 2:30 or 2:40 last Sunday, and after setting up since noon, we are finally about to start recording our third full-length record. We’re a little nervous, but we’re excited; we’ve practiced as much our suddenly-super-adult schedules allowed, and the general vibe is, “we are ready.”

clamfight 2I might have the geography of this slightly backwards, but I’m fairly certain Steve Poponi (who did our last two records, and as far as we’re concerned knocked them both of the park) was in the big room doing some last-minute dicking with cables* and we were in the control room discussing what song we were going to start with, when a sweaty, middle-aged guy with the standard issue South Jersey manual labor pompadour appeared in the control room and uttered one of nobody’s favorite phrases in the English language, “Which one of you drives the…”

And just like that, Joel’s car needed a new door, and that “we are so ready for this session” vibe when right out the fucking window.

Sunday ended up being a really long day, and though I managed to finish all my drum tracks, and since that was technically our only concrete goal for this session, you could argue that we ended up ahead of the game, but our shaky-as-a-baby-deer’s-first-steps beginning kind of put a pale over the session. It’s actually why this writeup took me a little longer to get together; I had to ask myself whether I was going to be honest and say, “this was a tough one,” or lie and say, “great times guys! Pay no attention to Joel having to sweep up broken glass and file police reports when he’d rather be recording.”

So in the end, and as you can guess because you’re reading this, I opted for honesty. But here’s me also being honest: the new stuff smokes and it’s made the rough way this session began okay in our books. Though it felt really slow in coming, the change really started Sunday. “Whale Road” which will lead off the next record, was a bear to record, but then “Selkie” went a lot smoother, and “Echoes” and “The History of the Earls of Orkney” were both real close to being first-takers. Our crazy non-Clamfight-related schedules, the accident, all of that stuff was something we got over, but realistically it did make the start of this session a little clumsier than any of us wanted.

Speaking of another unanticipated monkey wrench: the length of these songs. Clamfight III, or whatever we end up calling it (A Vulgar Display of a Tree Service Guy Not Using His Mirrors?), is made up clamfight 3of big, long songs, and though there’s been a seven-minute song or two on each of our prior records, we’d never recorded anything in the 10-or-beyond-minute range, and hence, didn’t quite realize the time commitment that is. If one take of the song lasts 10, or nearly 13 minutes as in the case of “History…,” then the playback takes at least that long. More, if you count the number of times, myself included, that one of us dopes has a fascinating dick joke that can’t wait until the listening is done. If there’s one downside to being in a band with three of your best friends, and making records with a good friend like Poponi, it’s that there is a lot of gum flapping… and when your songs are all 10 minutes, that adds up to a lot of time gone when you’re not recording.

With the drums done and 5AM wake ups for Joel and I looming, we called it a day (the other guys have inside jobs, I’m not sure when they wake up… 10? 11? I picture their morning routines like Eddie Murphy’s in the beginning of Coming to America). We reconvened Monday night and Sean got to work on his rhythm tracks, and in predictable Sean fashion he banged it out at warp speed. The funny thing about Sean’s recording chops versus my own is that since we both do the majority of writing for Clamfight, you might assume that we’d both be similarly hassle free about recording. You would however, be wrong. In fact, if you watched the two of us record, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Sean wrote and practiced these songs for months by his lonesome, and the first time I heard them was the morning of the session.

But I digress. The takeaway is that Sean crushed it on this, and Steve’s ability to get a great tone out of his rig remains intact. We quit around midnight, I believe, and tired from a seemingly endless day we hit home. To be brutally honest, I still didn’t know what we had yet. I was hearing glimmers of the record now, and was liking what I could hear, but I was still too rattled from what I expected to be an easy session turning into a battle to really have an opinion on it. I clamfight 4was edgy but starting to get a sense that maybe this stuff was turning out alright.

Day three, and our final day for this session, began around six the next night, and Louis stomped through his tracks fairly quickly. Not to get a bunch of angry (but probably deserved) comments from my many bass-playing buddies, but I’m not sure I ever appreciated the bass as much as I did listening to Louis lay down his tracks. I gained a newfound appreciation of how much fuller the bass makes things, and how crucial its role as “the sound between sounds” really is. We were pressed for time at this point, so Joel only managed to get tracking done on two of the songs (which after being up since five and still answering phone calls about his car I think gives him MVP status), but we had enough for our other stated goal of the session; rough mixes for which Sean could write solos for and I could write lyrics.

Because here’s the rub, and why this session is a bit different than our prior records: we went into the making of this record knowing there was going to be a two month break in the proceedings. It’s good because as much as we wanted and tried to schedule this record in a big block of time in the manner we did I Versus the Glacier it was impossible. Somewhere in the five years since we recorded our last full-length we got mired into a whole host of outside-of-Clamfight, adult responsibilities, and adding to that mix Steve and the Gradwell House’s ever more packed schedule (he just did Fight Amp’s stellar new record, Constantly Off), it meant that blocking out a week to make this record happen wasn’t going to work. If there’s an upside to us being older and busier, it’s that we’ve all maybe grown a bit more patient, so fighting overall schedules, we managed to figure out a way to make it go, even if that clamfight 5way for us is a little different than what we’re used to.

So here we are, with a record 50 percent of the way done, and a few months off to tighten up solos and lyrics, and then come back in the fall and finish this pig in a weekend. As for how we feel about the material now? We’re happy. Real happy. There was a flood of back and forth, “oh man, did you hear that?” messages in the days following finishing this session. Even in its current state, missing half of Joel’s parts, and all of the solos and vocals, it sounds big. Booming. Dynamic. We’re this-is-the-best-thing-we’ve-ever-done stoked on it. We’re proud of it enough that’s actually put us in a good place about this weirdly tough session, and we’re all dying to come back and finish this thing so we can start letting people hear it.

— Andy Martin, June 16, 2015

*I really, really don’t understand electronics.

Clamfight, I vs. the Glacier (2013)

Clamfight on Thee Facebooks

Clamfight on Bandcamp

Gradwell House Recording

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The Obelisk Questionnaire: Matt Weed of Rosetta

Posted in Questionnaire on May 22nd, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

rosetta matt weed

One decade after the release of their Translation Loss debut, The Galilean Satellites, Philadelphia’s Rosetta stand on the cusp of their fifth long-player, Quintessential Ephemera. Released in association with Golden Antenna Records, the new album follows 2013’s independently-released The Anaesthete and the 2014 Flies to Flame EP, as well as an original score produced earlier this year for a film about the band, Rosetta: Audio/Visual, and is the latest in a line of deeply creative outings furthering the band’s stylstic meld of atmospheric metal, sludge, post-rock and ambience. Noteworthy also for being their first full-length with the lineup of vocalist/noisemaker Mike Armine, guitarist Matt Weed, bassist Dave Grossman, drummer BJ McMurtrie and guitarist Eric Jernigan after having brought the latter on board in 2014 (he doubles in City of Ships), Quintessential Ephemera continues Rosetta‘s workman-style approach to progressive, fluid and exploratory songwriting, their commitment more to going places they’ve never gone than to any particular genre or other.

Weed took some time out recently to respond to The Obelisk Questionnaire and you’ll find his answers below. Please enjoy:

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Matt Weed

How did you come to do what you do?

Hard to say, since I’ve been in one band or another with our drummer BJ for over half my life. I picked up a guitar when I was 14 and it has always been a kind of territory that I explored, rather than an object I tried to master. So I’ve always written music by default – it was much harder to learn music written by other people. I went to school for totally unrelated stuff and that was probably a good thing, since academic study tends to destroy one’s enjoyment of a thing. I’m a bit of a robot in personality anyway, and music was one of the only ways I could ever access, understand, and communicate about emotion. The verbal language of emotion is either mystifying or outright off-putting to me, but playing an instrument I always felt like I had access to a more truthful way of communicating with people.

Describe your first musical memory.

My parents played a lot of classical LPs on a really crappy integrated turntable/amp system from the ’70s when I was a kid. My dad liked Romantic composers like Brahms and Tchaikovsky a lot, and my mom played the piano in the house, often old hymns. I would sit at the piano and play individual notes to see which I liked. I liked the A two octaves below middle-C the best. I would wail on that note for long periods, sometimes chanting over it (I was about four or five), but my family never complained about it. I guess that was my first foray into drone music.

Describe your best musical memory to date.

In high school, when I was still training on violin, I did a program where high school kids got to sit with members of the Philadelphia Orchestra and play together. Each pair of stand partners was one PO member and one high school student. It was remarkable mainly because I was a “just-okay” student of the violin, but while I was on-stage with such serious players, my technique just seemed like it magically improved, instantly. I had no idea I could play like that. It wasn’t objectively great but it was an order of magnitude better than I was normally capable of. I never forgot it, because it was proof to me that everyone does their best work in collaboration; one person who develops skill and takes risks has a beneficial effect on everyone he or she plays with. Likewise, being lazy or self-satisfied drags down everyone around you.

When was a time when a firmly held belief was tested?

There have been several extended periods where I really struggled with the idea that having integrity and good character is more important than success. I was brought up believing that (my parents were neither achievement-oriented nor overly accommodating), and I still do. But it’s easy to make that statement when you have enough to eat and can make rent and people are regularly affirming the work you do. Society says that integrity matters, but then turns around and judges you exclusively on indicators of wealth, prestige, or social significance. That would probably explain why so many truly awful people are among the most successful. Especially in the world of art, you need to be profitable, popular, or critically acclaimed. If you’re none of the three, you must not be very good at what you do. Then you feel pressure either to adapt your work to the market or to quit entirely. But neither of those options demonstrates integrity. I’m not sure it’s possible to resolve that conflict, ultimately.

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

Laying aside questions about marketability, it seems like it’s a progression of greater risk-taking. You try something new and then ask, did it communicate what I wanted to say? Was it satisfying? Did I learn something in the process? If it didn’t work, then you go back and try again. If it worked, then you jump off from there and take more risks. If you’re not taking risks, then you’re not making art, you’re producing a commodity. But taking risks necessarily means failing sometimes.

How do you define success?

Sustainability. I don’t just mean that in the financial sense. I’ve never made any money from the band and I probably never will, but I’m happy for the band to support itself. Money hasn’t ever been a goal, it’s just one means to the end of being able to keep going for as long as there is music we want to make. But there are other dimensions to sustainability, like avoiding personal burnout and cultivating new audiences, not getting stuck in unproductive habits, becoming more disciplined people as time goes on. During periods where Rosetta was broke and almost unable to continue, money always loomed as the largest dimension. But once we went independent and the band more or less began to pay for itself, I started to see a lot of different ways it could be derailed that had nothing to do with money. I think success would be a situation where we had what we needed and were spending more time creating than problem-solving.

What is something you have seen that you wish you hadn’t?

A No Doubt show at the Electric Factory in Philadelphia in 2002. Yes, it was for a girlfriend. Someone puked on my shoes.

Describe something you haven’t created yet that you’d like to create.

A drone record made with a guitar and found sounds from my house to a four-track tape recorder.

Something non-musical that you’re looking forward to?

Every year my wife and I try to go on a wilderness backpacking trip to some weird remote location. I always look forward to that. I feel most human in situations where I have to submit to the law of nature, rather than using technology to bend nature to my wishes. Real life seems totally unreal by comparison.

Rosetta, Rosetta: Audio/Visual Original Score (2015)

Rosetta’s website

Rosetta on Thee Facebooks

Rosetta on Twitter

Rosetta on Bandcamp

Golden Antenna Records

 

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Backwoods Payback Announce Live Shows

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 20th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

Making their way back to active status following a stint on the DL, Pennsylvania heavy merchants Backwoods Payback have announced two weekenders set to take place next month that will take them out of their West Chester home and onward to regional outlets in New Jersey, PA, Virginia and Maryland. It’s four shows spread over two weeks, so hardly the heaviest touring they’ve done, but with just periodic appearances under their collective belt since the release of their 2014 EP, In the Ditch (review here), it bodes well for what might lay ahead, and frankly, it’s good to hear anything from them at all.

Backwoods Payback‘s most recent show was May 15, playing the after-party for the Bethlehem, PA, date of the Clutch/Mastodon tour, but prior to that, they also shared the stage with Black CowgirlGeneration of Vipers and U.S. Christmas at The Depot in York at the end of April, so there have been stirrings leading to these weekenders coming up. The addition of new drummer Pierson Roe (Castle Freak) alongside guitarist/vocalist Mike Cummings and bassist Jessica Baker will no doubt make gigging easier in the months upcoming, and in announcing the shows, the band also teases a possibility of a new album, which would be their sophomore outing following 2011’s Small Stone full-length debut, Momantha (review here).

Most likely that’s a ways off — though I guess they could surprise everybody with a new record tomorrow; anything’s possible — but either way, that they’re starting to get out again is a step in the right direction. Their announcement was quick and to the point:

backwoods payback june tour

JUNE DATES! this convoy is heading back out where we belong…on the ROAD!

New shows, new songs, new merch, new drummer, new RECORD???

Backwoods Payback on tour:
06/12 The Meatlocker, Montclair, NJ
06/13 The Funhouse, Bethlehem, PA
06/19 Strange Matter, Richmond, VA
06/20 Guido’s Speakeasy, Frederick, MD

https://www.facebook.com/backwoodspayback
http://backwoodspayback.bandcamp.com/

Backwoods Payback, In the Ditch (2014)

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Drinking with the Devil Dick, by Tommy Southard

Posted in Columns on May 18th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

It’s been almost exactly three years since guitarist Tommy Southard of SolaceThe Disease ConceptSocial Decay, etc., last turned in a Drinking with the Devil Dick beer column, but hey, I’ve got an open door policy and a permanent soft spot for Tommy, so it’s not like when he hit me up and said he wanted to do one I was about to say no. Would never happen. This time around, he hits up Tired Hands and Weyerbacher Brewing near his home outside Philadelphia, and samples a variety of fare, including candied bacon and a beer called “Stoner Witch.”

Solace have a reunion gig booked for this fall at the Vultures of Volume II fest. More info on that to come. In the meantime, enjoy:

i see darkness imperial honey porter on cask with local rasberries

11179977_10206261615597564_3977048150518709014_nWell hello there Obelisk-ers,

It’s been a long time!

Devil Dick here to talk about my current favorite place on Earth to drink beer!

A few years ago a brewery opened up not to far away from where we live in Ardmore, PA. We were intrigued but did not visit right away because I remember my wife “Yelped” it and people were talking about the food portions being small. And my second fave thing after drinking beer is eating, so we passed. I remember telling her I didn’t want to leave being hungry. So it took a while before we took a chance and ventured in. Man, I wish we were there the day they opened because the beers were AMAZING.

The place is called “Tired Hands” and they’ve have become something of a sensation across the triple beers with candied bacon and pannini -1400country. Beer nerds all over salivate to get one of their limited bottle releases in their hands.

The beers are fresh, different and never disappointing. It didn’t take long before the small place that was pumping out 1,000 barrels per year was unable to keep up in production. The once-easy-to-get-a-spot-at bar was full to capacity almost all the time. Fast forward a few years and they opened up a new and much bigger spot called “Fermentaria” just a few blocks away. This larger facility has the capability to bring beer to the Pennsylvania masses, 10,000 barrels per year. The beer has now become available at other bars around the city of Philadelphia. Pretty awesome stuff!

Jean Broillet IV and his wife Julie Foster are locals who have created an instant Mecca for beer nerds in ‘burbs of Philadelphia.

He is mad scientist of brewing, making kooky and delicious beers using interesting ingredients of all kinds. He started out learning the brew trade at Weyerbacher Brewing Company in Easton Pennsylvania. Jean’s main brewing focus is farmhouse ales. The brewery has brewed so many different beers that I can’t even keep track of them all. Lucky for me, a while back I started saving my growler tags so I remember the beers I had! IStoner Witch really should keep a notebook but then I’d become one of those beer geeks, heh…

Jean along with his staff are also some really cool and interesting people, who all dig music. We have often talked with them about music heavy metal and punk rock or Orange Goblin or Venom… And don’t be surprised if you walk in the place and they are jamming The Misfits or Slayer on the sound system. My kind of place! Jean has even brewed beer with some musicians like Dave Witte of Municipal Waste who is not onlyan amazing drummer but also way into beer. Made a beer in honor of the bands Baroness and Pallbearer. Named one of the beers “Stoner Witch” in homage to the Melvins.

There was beer named “Screeching Loud Thrashing Death Metal Offensive Song” which was named after a comment a lady posted that on Yelp: “Great beer, decent food, really quaint, welcoming space. But the music positively ruined this place for me…. SCREECHING LOUD THRASHING DEATH-METAL OFFENSIVE SONG THAT SETS YOUR TEETH ON EDGE & FILLS YOU WITH MURDEROUS RAGE, The wife with a pea and carrot salad at Fermentaria-1400instantly rendering conversation impossible.”

Hey, not everyone loves Slayer — their loss! They often have the Mike Lorenz Quartet playing on weeknights or at monthly bottle releases. They do killer jazz versions of Sabbath tunes.

The food at “The Brew Café”: Don’t expect typical “bar” food. You won’t get greasy burgers and fries. You can get fresh bread made on the spot, local cheeses, Panini sandwiches and killer salads but by all means GET THE CANDIED BACON!

The new Fermentaria has full kitchen with killer tacos!!!

Oh yeah, and Jean does all the artwork for the place as well. Talented guy, that Jean is.candied bacon bread and cheese plate-1400

Great beer, great food, great music and good people, it’s a win, win, win, win.

I can’t do the place justice with my words. So take a peak their website and Facebook page and check out what they are up to. And if you are in the Philly area do yourself a favor and stop in. Tell them Devil Dick sent you! You won’t be sorry.

Tired Hands Brewing website

Tired Hands on Thee Facebooks

Weyerbacher website

Weyerbacher on Thee Facebooks

Solace on Thee Facebooks 

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Rosetta to Release Quintessential Ephemera on July 3

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 14th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

rosetta

By now, Philly five-piece Rosetta are pretty much self-sustaining. What I mean is, the band, who picked up guitarist/vocalist Eric Jernigan from City of Ships in 2014 as their fifth member, seem to be able to just keep going. They tour hard consistently and do well, and they put out records that usually reap some measure of positive response, but more than anything else, what they’ve become in the decade since they issued their The Galilean Satellites debut on Translation Loss in 2005 is steady. Sustainable. They’ve built a loyal following and can probably keep Rosetta going until they decide it’s time to stop. Not saying it’ll make them rich, not saying it’s not work, but the band has a life of its own without being propped up by hype.

Rosetta‘s new album, Quintessential Ephemera, will be released on CD and LP this summer via Golden Antenna Records and follows a score the band put together for a documentary about them called Rosetta: Audio/Visual that can be name-your-price downloaded from their Bandcamp. They’ll head back to Europe following the upcoming full-length’s arrival, and you can find the dates below for that tour, courtesy of the PR wire:

rosetta quintessential ephemera

Golden Antenna Records: ROSETTA “Quintessential Ephemera” (Members of CITY OF SHIPS, Post Metal/ Rock)

Artist: Rosetta
Title: Quintessential Ephemera
Format: CD, 2xLP
Label: Golden Antenna Records
Distribution: Broken Silence
Release Date: 03/07/2015

With four albums under their belt, and over a thousand shows across a decade of touring, the four people behind Rosetta have branched out.

In 2014, Rosetta made their first-ever lineup change, adding Eric Jernigan of longtime tourmates City of Ships on guitar and vocals. As a five-piece, they recorded 2015’s Quintessential Ephemera, a many-layered collection of songs at once existential and deeply hopeful. Containing some of the band’s most moody and yet accessible work to date, it still has an upward force to it that delivers an appropriate counterpoint to the darkness and disintegration ofThe Anaesthete. After a 12-year journey, Quintessential Ephemera is a rebirth.

On their fifth full length album, Rosetta continues to broaden their harmonic and sonic experiments. Carrying the torch of 90s experimental rock with , they merge a deep melodic sobriety with progressive and confrontational heaviness. Quintessential Ephemera is both existential and deeply hopeful. It has some of the bands most moody work to date, but has an upward force to it that delivers an appropriate counterpoint to the darkness and nihilism of their previous record.

Quintessential Ephemera was recorded and mixed at Machines With Magnets (Battles, The Body, Braveyoung) in Providence, USA and mastered by Colin Marston (of Gorguts, Krallice, Dysrhythmia) at The Thousand Caves in New York. Artwork was designed by american artist called Mark Price.

Pre-order: http://www.goldenantenna.com/shop/advanced_search_result.php?keywords=rosetta
150 copies available on limited green vinyl!

http://warcrimerecordings.bigcartel.com/product/rosetta-quintessential-ephemera-2xlp-preorder-to-ship-end-of-june
2xLP green splatter on transparent vinyl

European Tour
28.07 BEL – Knokke Heist @ Korenbloem
29.07 NL – Utrecht @ dB’s
30.07 GER – Würzburg @ Immerhin
31.07 GER – Bad Kötzting @ VOID FEST
01.08 SK – Trnava @ Art Klub
02.08 HUN – Budapest @ Dürer Kert
03.08 SRB – Belgrade @ KC Grad
04.08 BIH – Sarajevo @ Club Underground
05.08 CRO – Sibenik @ SUPERUHO FEST
06.08 CRO – Cakovec @ Prostor Cezam
07.08 AUT – Vienna @ Chelsea
08.08 CZ – Jaromer @ BRUTAL ASSAULT FEST
09.08 POL – Warsaw @ Klub Hydrozagadka
10.08 GER – Dresden @ Chemiefabrik
11.08 GER – Essen @ Panic Room
12.08 DK – Copenhagen @ Underwerket
13.08 GER – Berlin @ Tiefgrund (Theatersaal)
14.08 GER – Wiesbaden @ Schlachthof
15.08 FRA – Paris @ Le Point Ephémère
16.08 BEL – Ieper @ IEPER SUMMER FEST

http://www.rosettaband.com
http://www.facebook.com/rosettaband
http://www.goldenantenna.com
https://theanaesthete.bandcamp.com/

Rosetta, Rosetta: Audio/Visual (2015)

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