Quarterly Review: Ulver, Forming the Void, Hidden Trails, Svvamp, Black Mirrors, Endless Floods, Tarpit Boogie, Horseburner, Vermilion Whiskey, Hex Inverter

Posted in Reviews on March 28th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

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

Feeling groovy heading into Day Two of the Spring 2017 Quarterly Review, and I hope you are as well. Today we dig into a pretty wide variety of whatnots, so make sure you’ve got your head with you as we go, because there are some twists and turns along the way. I mean it. Of all five days in this round, this one might be the most wild, so keep your wits intact. I’m doing my best to do the same, of course, but make no promises in that regard.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Ulver, The Assassination of Julius Caesar

ulver-the-assassination-of-julius-caesar

Norwegian post-everything specialists Ulver have reportedly called The Assassination of Julius Caesar (on House of Mythology) “their pop album,” and while the Nik Turner-inclusive freakout in second cut “Rolling Stone” (that may or may not be him on closer “Comign Home” as well) doesn’t quite fit that mold, the beats underscoring the earlier portion of that track, opener “Nemoralia” and the melodrama of “Southern Gothic” certainly qualify. Frontman/conceptual mastermind Kristoffer Rygg’s voice is oddly suited to this form – he carries emotionally weighted hooks like a melancholy George Michael on the electronically pulsating “Transverberation” and, like most works of pop, shows an obsession with the ephemeral in a slew of cultural references in “1969,” which in no way is likely to be mistaken for the Stooges song of the same name. While “So Falls the World” proves ridiculously catchy, “Coming Home” is about as close as Ulver actually come here to modern pop progression, and the Badalamenti-style low-end and key flourish in “1969” is a smooth touch, much of what’s happening in these eight tracks is still probably too complex to qualify as pop, but The Assassination of Julius Caesar is further proof that Ulver’s scope only grows more boundless as the years pass. The only limits they ever seem to know are the ones they leave behind.

Ulver on Twitter

House of Mythology website

 

Forming the Void, Relic

forming-the-void-relic

Last year, Louisiana four-piece Forming the Void had the element of surprise working to their advantage when it came to the surprising progressive edge of their debut album, Skyward (review here). Now signed to Argonauta, the eight-song/55-minute follow-up, Relic, doesn’t need it. It finds Forming the Void once again working proggy nuance into big-riffed, spaciously vocalized fare on early cuts “After Earth” and “Endless Road,” but as the massive hook of “Biolazar” demonstrates, the process by which guitarist/vocalist James Marshall, guitarist Shadi Omar Al-Khansa, bassist Luke Baker and drummer Jordan Boyd meld their influences has become more cohesive and more their own. Accordingly, I’m not sure they need the 11-minute closing take on Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir,” since by then the point is made in the lumber/plunder of “Plumes” and in the more tripped-out “Unto the Smoke” just before, but as indulgences go, it’s a relatively easy one to make. They’re still growing, but doing so quickly, and already they’ve begun to find a niche for themselves between styles that one hopes they’ll continue to explore.

Forming the Void on Thee Facebooks

Argonauta Records website

 

Hidden Trails, Instant Momentary Bliss

hidden-trails-instant-momentary-bliss

Though it keeps a wash of melodic keys in the background and its approach is resolutely laid back on the whole, “Beautiful Void” is nonetheless a major factor in the overall impression of Hidden Trails’ self-titled debut (on Elektrohasch), as its indie vibe and departure from the psychedelic prog of the first two cuts, “Lancelot” and “Mutations,” marks a major distinguishing factor between this outfit and Hypnos 69, in which the rhythm section of the Belgian trio played previously. “Ricky” goes on to meld acoustic singer-songwriterism and drones together, and “Hands Unfold” has a kind of jazzy bounce, the bassline of Dave Houtmeyers and drumming of Tom Vanlaer providing upbeat groove under Jo Neyskens’ bright guitar lead, but the anticipation of heavy psych/prog never quite leaves after the opening, and that doesn’t seem to be what the band wants to deliver. The sweetly harmonized acid folk of “Leaving Like That” is on a different wavelength, and likewise the alt-rock vibes of “Space Shuffle” and “Come and Play” and the grunge-chilled-out closer “Denser Diamond.” If there’s an issue with Hidden Trails, it’s one of the expectations I’m bringing to it as a listener and a fan of Houtmeyers’ and Vanlaer’s past work, but clearly it’s going to take me a little longer to get over the loss of their prior outfit. Maybe I’m just not ready to move on.

Hidden Trails on Thee Facebooks

Elektrohasch Schallplatten website

 

Svvamp, Svvamp

svvamp-svvamp

Naturalist vibes pervade immediately from this late-2016 self-titled Svvamp debut (on RidingEasy Records) in the bassline to “Serpent in the Sky,” and in some of the post-Blue Cheer heavy blues sensibility, the Swedish trio bring to mind some of what made early Dirty Streets so glorious. Part of the appeal of Svvamp’s Svvamp, however, is that among the lessons it’s learned from heavy ‘70s rock and from Kadavar‘s own self-titled is to keep it simple. “Fresh Cream” is a resonant blues jam… that lasts two and a half minutes. The bouncing, turning “Oh Girl?” Three. Even the longest of its cuts, the slide-infused “Time,” the subdued roller “Big Rest” and the Marshall Tucker-esque finale “Down by the River,” are under five. This allows the three-piece of Adam Johansson, Henrik Bjorklund and Erik Stahlgren to build significant momentum over the course of their 35-minute run, casting aside pretense in favor of aesthetic cohesion and an organic sensibility all the more impressive for it being their first record. Sweden has not lacked for boogie rock, but even the most relatively raucous moments here, as in the winding “Blue in the Face,” don’t seem overly concerned with what anyone else is up to, and that bodes remarkably well for Svvamp’s future output.

Svvamp on Thee Facebooks

RidingEasy Records website

 

Black Mirrors, Funky Queen

black-mirrors-funky-queen

There are few songs ever written that require whoever’s playing them to “bring it” more than MC5’s “Kick out the Jams.” True, it’s been covered many, many times over, but few have done it well. Belgium’s Black Mirrors signal riotous intent by including it as one of the four tracks of their Napalm Records debut EP, Funky Queen, along with the originals “Funky Queen,” “The Mess” and “Canard Vengeur Masqué,” and amid the post-Blues Pills stomp of “The Mess,” the mega-hook of the opening title-track and the more spacious five-plus-minute closer, which works elements of heavy psych into its bluesy push late to welcome effect, “Kick out the Jams” indeed brings a moment of relative cacophony, even if there’s no actual threat of the band losing control behind the powerful vocals of Marcella di Troia. As a first showing, Funky Queen would seem to be a harbinger, but it’s also a purposeful and somewhat calculated sampling of Black Mirrors’ wares, and I wouldn’t expect it to be long before an album follows behind expanding on the ideas presented in these tracks.

Black Mirrors on Thee Facebooks

Black Mirrors at Napalm Records

 

Endless Floods, II

endless-floods-ii

No doubt that for some who’d take it on, any words beyond “members of Monarch!” will be superfluous, but Bordeaux three-piece Endless Floods, who do indeed feature bassist/vocalist Stéphane Miollan and drummer Benjamin Sablon from that band, as well as guitarist Simon Bedy, have more to offer than pedigree on their three-song sophomore full-length, II (on Dry Cough vinyl and Breathe Plastic cassette). To wit, 24-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Impasse” rumbles out raw but spacious sludge that, though without keys or a glut of effects, and marked by the buried-deep screaming of Miollan, holds a potent sense of atmosphere so that the two-minute interlude “Passage” doesn’t seem out of place leading into the 19-minute lumber of “Procession,” which breaks shortly before its halfway point to bass-led minimalism in setting up the final build of the record. Slow churning intensity and longform sludge working coherently alongside ambient sensibilities and some genuinely disturbing noise? Yeah, that’ll do nicely. Thanks.

Endless Floods on Thee Facebooks

Dry Cough Records on Bandcamp

Breathe Plastic Records on Bandcamp

 

Tarpit Boogie, Couldn’t Handle… The Heavy Jam

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Boasting four eight-plus-minute instrumentals, Couldn’t Handle… The Heavy Jam finds New Jersey trio Tarpit Boogie rife with classic style heavy rock chemistry, bassist John Eager running fills around the dense-toned riffing from guitarist George Pierro as drummer Chris Hawkins propels a surprising thrust on opener “FFF Heavy Jam.” I’ve been a fan of Pierro and Eager’s since we were bandmates a decade ago, so to hear them unfold “Chewbacca Jacket” from its tense opening to its righteously crashing finale is definitely welcome, but the 37-minute offering finds its true reasoning in the swing and shuffle of the eponymous “Tarpit Boogie,” which digs into the very challenge posed by the title – whether or not anyone taking on the album can handle its balance of sonic impact and exploratory feel – inclusive, in this case, of a drum solo that sets a foundation for a moment of Cactus-style rush ahead of a return to the song’s central progression to conclude. They round out with “1992 (Thank You Very Little),” Chevy Chase sample and all, bringing more crashing nod to a massive slowdown that makes it feel like the entire back half of the cut is one big rock finish. And so it is. A well-kept secret of Garden State heavy.

Tarpit Boogie on Thee Facebooks

Tarpit Boogie on Bandcamp

 

Horseburner, Dead Seeds, Barren Soil

horseburner-dead-seeds-barren-soil

The self-released Dead Seeds, Barren Soil is Horseburner’s second full-length, and it arrived in 2016 from the four-piece some seven years after their 2009 debut, Dirt City. They’ve had a few shorter outings in between, demos and 2013’s Strange Giant EP, but the West Virginia four-piece of Adam Nohe, Chad Ridgway, Jack Thomas and Zach Kaufman seem to be shooting for a definitive statement of intent in the blend of heavy rock and modern, Baroness-style prog that emerges on opener “David” and finds its way into the galloping “Into Black Resolution,” the multi-tiered vocals of “A Newfound Purity” and even the more straight-ahead thrust of “The Soil’s Prayer.” Marked out by the quality of its guitar work and its clearly-plotted course, Dead Seeds, Barren Soil caps with “Eleleth,” which at just under eight minutes draws the heft and the complexity together for a gargantuan finish that does justice to the ground Horseburner just flattened as they left it behind.

Horseburner on Thee Facebooks

Horseburner on Bandcamp

 

Vermilion Whiskey, Spirit of Tradition

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Lafayette, Louisiana, five-piece Vermilion Whiskey telegraph participation in the New Wave of Dude Rock to the point of addressing their audience as “boy” in second cut “The Past is Dead,” and from the cartoon cleavage on the cover to the lack of irony between naming the record Spirit of Tradition and putting a song called “The Past is Dead” on it, they sell that well. The Kent Stump-mixed/Tony Reed-mastered six-tracker is the band’s second behind 2013’s 10 South, and basks in dudely, dudely dudeliness; Southern metal born more out of the Nola style than what, say, Wasted Theory are getting up to these days, but that would still fit on a bill with that Delaware outfit. If you think you’re dude enough for a song like “One Night,” hell, maybe you are. Saddle up. Listening to that and the chunky-style riff of closer “Loaded Up,” I feel like I might need hormone therapy to hit that level of may-yun, but yeah. Coherent, well written, tightly performed and heavy. Vermilion Whiskey might as well be hand-issuing dudes invitations to come drink with them, but they make a solid case for doing so.

Vermilion Whiskey on Thee Facebooks

Vermilion Whiskey on Bandcamp

 

Hex Inverter, Revision

hex-inverter-revision

If the cover art and a song title like “I Swear I’m Not My Thoughts” weren’t enough of a tip-off, there’s a strong undercurrent of the unsettled to Hex Inverter’s second long-player, Revision. The Pennsylvania-based experimentalists utilize a heaping dose of drones to fill out arrangements of keys, guitar and noise that would otherwise be pretty minimal, and vocals come and go in pro- and depressive fashion. Texture proves the key as they embark on the linear centerpiece “Something Else,” with a first verse arriving over a sweetened bassline after four minutes into the total 9:58, and the wash of noise in “Daphne” obscures an avant neo-jazz groove late, so while opener “Cannibal Eyes” basks in foreboding ambience prior to an emotionally-driven and explosive crunch-beat payoff, one never quite knows what to expect next on Revision. That, of course, is essential to the appeal. They find an edge of rock in the aforementioned “I Swear I’m Not My Thoughts,” but as the loops and synth angularity of closer “Fled (Deadverse Mix)” make plain, their intentions speak to something wider than even an umbrella genre.

Hex Inverter on Thee Facebooks

Hex Inverter on Bandcamp

 

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Rope Trick Release Red Tape EP; Touring East and West Coasts

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 24th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

After premiering the 11-minute opening track here late last year, psych-ritualizing two-piece Rope Trick have made their debut EP, Red Tape, officially available for public consumption. They’ll have CDs before the end of the month, and that timing makes sense since the Queen Elephantine-affiliated duo are set to tour between the Northeast and the West Coast over the course April and May. Wasting no time, they play tonight in New Hampshire and on March 30 are in their half-native Providence, Rhode Island (they also claim roots in Philly, where they’ll be April 1), in the significant company of Baltimore drone-wash joyspreaders Darsombra.

Dates and other info came in off the PR wire, and you can check out the full stream of Red Tape at the bottom of the post:

rope trick

ROPE TRICK: ‘Red Tape’ + East & West Coast US Tour Dates

ROPE TRICK, a new psych rock duo from Providence/Philadelphia, USA is supporting its new self-released album Red Tape with tours on both East and West Coasts of the US. They share the stage with, among others, Darsombra, Owl, Heavy Temple, Weird Owl, Aboleth, and Ultra Electric Mega Galactic, the psych project of Monster Magnet’s Ed Mundell.

You can listen here: https://ropetrickband.bandcamp.com. The album will also be available March 30th on CD, iTunes, and Spotify.

ROPE TRICK is the term given by physicist John Malik to “the curious lines and spikes which emanate from the fireball of certain nuclear explosions just after detonation.”

ROPE TRICK SPRING 2017 TOUR DATES
East Coast

3/24 – Rollinsford, NH, Sue’s
3/30 – Providence RI, AS220*
3/31 – Brooklyn NY* Don Pedro*
4/1 – Philadelphia PA, Shred Shed*
4/2 – Baltimore MD, The Crown*
5/17 – New York NY, Arlene’s Grocery
5/27 – Brooklyn NY, Cobra Club
*w/ darsombra

West Coast
4/14 – Seattle WA, Blue Moon Cafe
4/15 – Portland OR, High Water Mark
4/16 – Eugene OR, Black Forest
4/18 – Sacramento CA, Starlite Lounge
4/19 – San Francisco CA, El Rio
4/21 – Los Angeles CA, Cafe NELA
4/23 – Anaheim, CA, Doll Hut

Rope Trick is:
Indrayudh Shome: guitar + vocal
Nathanael Totushek: drums

ropetrickband.com
ropetrickband.bandcamp.com
facebook.com/ropetrickband
https://www.instagram.com/ropetrickband

Rope Trick, Red Tape (2017)

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Review & Track Premiere: Green Meteor, Consumed by a Dying Sun

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on March 13th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

green-meteor-consumed-by-a-dying-sun

[Click play above to hear ‘Mirrored Parabola Theory’ from Green Meteor’s Consumed by a Dying Sun. Album out April 21 on Argonauta Records.]

From the abiding buzzsaw fuzz that permeates the five included tracks to the samples at the beginning of “Acute Emerald Elevation” and “Sleepless Lunar Dawn” to the comic book cover art that adorns the front cover to the density of groove as they roll out reefer riff after reefer riff, the intention behind Green Meteor‘s Consumed by a Dying Sun seems to be to tap into the raw roots of ’90s-style stoner rock. Fortunately, the Philadelphia four-piece bring a few crucial lessons of modernity with them along this trip through neo-retroism. I don’t recall even early Acid King being this blown-out, for example, and the tonal devouring here from first-names-only guitarists Amy and Leta (the latter also vocals) and the bass of Algar that’s shoved forward by Tony‘s drums does not forget to chew. It has teeth. And bite.

That proved to be the case last year when the band unveiled “Acute Emerald Elevation” (posted here) as a lead-in teaser prior to signing with Argonauta Records for the actual album release, and the same song does well on Consumed by a Dying Sun to let the listener know that while indeed they might be blasting off into space, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride getting there. The key to understanding the record’s utterly-manageable 32-minute run is realizing that Green Meteor are using the roughness of sound to their advantage, giving their aesthetic a garage-derived feel so that the Hawkwind-via-Monster Magnet thrust of the intro to the closing title-track seems as well to be playing off an Uncle Acid mindset in a manner that almost foreshadows the noise-soaked roller apex before the punkier last push of the record as a whole.

All of this happens quickly, but with immersion, and because Green Meteor are so tonally-centered — even Leta‘s voice seems to have been swallowed by the instruments surrounding — Consumed by a Dying Sun is able to work through its material while deceptively changing pace and the intentions of a given song. It is Green Meteor‘s first album, and it sounds like a first album in how the band seems to be working through the process of figuring out where they want to take their material and where they want their material to take them, but as that unfolds, they demonstrate a clear penchant for melding hooks and an underlying focus on songwriting that, while buried like the vocals, remains a present, consistent theme from “Acute Emerald Elevation” onward. Another manner in which Green Meteor prove loyal to the ’90s roots of stoner rock? It’s three minutes into the six-minute opener before the first verse starts.

It would seem to be as close to an eponymous cut as the band is willing to come, rounding out with repetitions of “green meteor” from Leta, who pushes her voice in a manner reminiscent of Stars that Move, and leading to “Sleepless Lunar Dawn” which is the longest track at 9:37 and a mid-paced swing that roughs up and blisses out Sleep-style grooving en route to a snare-mania from Tony that chills for its middle third before resuming in a kind of back-and-forth between languid flow and energetic uptick — intermittent thrusters; it happens — as it aligns planets for the more massively-riffed arrival of centerpiece “In the Shadow of Saturn.” It’s shorter at just over seven minutes, but “In the Shadow of Saturn” brims with addled purpose, and where “Sleepless Lunar Dawn” seems to grow impatient in its back half, here the foursome largely stick to the slow-oozing molasses from whence they begin. There’s a bit of kick here and there, but the primary focus is nod and that suits Green Meteor well at the beginning of what would likely be an LP’s side B.

“In the Shadow of Saturn” caps with radar ping that leads, on rhythm, into the uptempo start of “Mirrored Parabola Theory.” It’s the shortest inclusion at 3:34, and some of that might be due to pace alone, but as Leta finds her way into a memorable stretch ranting about a tilting hourglass — strange things are afoot, but science is happening — toward the end of the track, it’s also the most direct emphasis Green Meteor put on songwriting throughout Consumed by a Dying Sun, and it proves essential between the hypnotic gravitational field of “In the Shadow of Saturn” and the finale’s more blistering cosmic pulsations. Like a radar signal from space to let you know someone’s out there? Maybe. Might be a stretch. There’s telemetry from the probe that needs more analysis, but it’s important to consider that with “Mirrored Parabola Theory,” Green Meteor give clear notice to their listener that their purview includes more traditional structures as well as the kind of all-go explosiveness with which they choose to end “Consumed by a Dying Sun.”

In hindsight, they let you know it’s coming at the start of the track, but by the time it comes around again just past four minutes in, the molten midsection of the closer — a touch of Electric Wizard, more Acid King, more Sleep, lots of noise; no complaints — has melted consciousness away to the point where it’s legitimately an unexpected turn. That’s to the band’s advantage, certainly. They end on a final verse at full speed and an almost surprising amount of human presence amidst the onslaught, and wind up underscoring the primary are-my-speakers-blown wash of Consumed by a Dying Sun with the feeling that our species and the untamed vacuum can in fact coexist in their work. I won’t speculate on how Green Meteor might develop from here or the shifts they could make in aesthetic or which impulses will ultimately win out as they move forward, but Consumed by a Dying Sun deftly asserts honesty in its rawness and is all the more refreshing for that. As far as launch points go, theirs provides a suitable blast.

Green Meteor on Thee Facebooks

Green Meteor on Bandcamp

Argonauta Records website

Argonauta Records on Thee Facebooks

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Heavy Temple Touring with Pilgrim in March

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 9th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Kind of an ICYMI here, in the parlance of our times, but good to note either way that next month, Philly’s Heavy Temple will hit the road alongside Rhode Island doomers Pilgrim. The latter seem poised to make something of a comeback this year after nearly grinding themselves into dust in support of their last full-length, 2014’s II: Void Worship (review here), and in joining them, Heavy Temple make their most significant leap into touring life yet. It’s an East Coast run, and they did hit the Midwest last fall, but 10 dates on the road is the longest I’ve seen from them to-date. Doubt it will be the last.

They of course go supporting the 2016/2017 release Chassit (review here), alternately billed as a debut full-length and a second EP (the latter below). I had thought I read of a parting of ways with guitarist Archbishop Barghest, but maybe I’m wrong about that or bassist/vocalist High Priestess Nighthawk and drummer Siren Tempestas are heading out as a duo? I’d be interested to know for sure either way.

To be perfectly honest, half my impulse in posting these dates a couple weeks after they were first announced is in making sure they’re here for future reference. Seems like the kind of thing I’ll want to have to look back on down the line.

From the PR wire:

pilgrim heavy temple tour

Heavy Temple to tour with Pilgrim

Heavy psych/doom band HEAVY TEMPLE released their new EP Chassit on January 27th 2017. The EP was initially available on cassette and digital formats via Tridroid Records and CD is now available via Van Records.

Heavy Temple formed at the end of 2012 with High Priestess Nighthawk on bass and vocals and presently features Siren Tempestas on drums and Archbishop Barghest on guitar.

The band will also be playing some shows with doom heavyweights PILGRIM in March:

TOUR DATES:
March 2nd The Fire, Philadelphia, PA
March 3rd The Broadberry (With Windhand), Richmond, VA
March 4th Pilgrim (With Subrosa) Saint Vitus, Brooklyn, NY
March 4th Heavy Temple (With Toke) TBA, Winston, Salem NC
March 5th Riffhouse Pub,, Chesapeake, VA
March 6th Sidebar, Baltimore, MD
March 7th Meatlocker, Montclair, NJ
March 8th O’Briens, Boston MA
March 9th Mohawk Place, Buffalo, NY
March 10th Bug Jar, Rochester, NY
March 11th Geno’s, Portland, ME
March 12th AS220, Providence, RI

https://www.facebook.com/HeavyTemple/
https://heavytemple.bandcamp.com
https://www.van-records.de/
https://tridroid.bandcamp.com/album/chassit

Heavy Temple, Chassit (2017)

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Ecstatic Vision to Release Raw Rock Fury April 7; New Single Posted & Tours Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 9th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

ecstatic vision photo michael connor

Hot damn. Philly space-truckers Ecstatic Vision make a compelling claim over the title of their second record with the first track reveal from it. The album? They’re calling it Raw Rock Fury, which feels way more immediately declarative than did their 2015 debut, Sonic Praise (review here). The song? It’s called “You Got It (Or You Don’t),” and with it, the four-piece seem to be throwing down a seven-minute gauntlet of frenzied kraut-jamming and warp-seven psychedelia.

I like the fact that the record’s only got four tracks on it, I like the fact that they’ve already got a return trip to Europe booked to support it — they’d previously been announced for Desertfest and Sonic Ritual, so we kind of knew a tour was coming — and I like the fact that “You Got It (Or You Don’t)” feels like an immediate forward leap from the last time out. Could it be that Ecstatic Vision have decided to name themselves the new masters of the cosmos? Guess we’ll find out April 7 when the album hits, via Relapse, as did the last one.

From the PR wire:

ecstatic-vision-raw-rock-fury

ECSTATIC VISION Announce New Album Raw Rock Fury Coming April 7th via Relapse Records

Unveil First Single “You Got It (Or You Don’t)”

U.S. Tour Announced: SXSW and More with Creepoid

Philadelphia’s heavy psych quartet ECSTATIC VISION return with their 2nd LP Raw Rock Fury, the follow up to 2015’s highly acclaimed Sonic Praise.

The band commented on the new album: “With ‘Raw Rock Fury’, we set out to make an album that would remind listeners of what an unpolished, dangerous rock recording should sound like. This is the opening composition entitled “You Got It (Or You Don’t)”. Prepare for a searing mash-up of the driving rhythms of Sly & The Family Stone mixed with the sounds of Hawkwind playing Funhouse-era Troglodyte Rock.”

April 7th, 2017 will see the worldwide release of Raw Rock Fury via Relapse Records on CD/LP/Digital. Physical pre-order and bundles are available via Relapse HERE and digital downloads can be pre-ordered by Bandcamp HERE.

Raw Rock Fury exhibits the band locking in on primordial, troglodyte Detroit rock grooves, krautian motorik sounds that recall the obscure one-time collaboration between NEU and the MC5, grimy harmonica flourishes that evoke Beefheart at his most savage, and the Hawkwindian, primal world heavy psych their debut expertly showcased. All of this is captured on four songs and 35+ minutes of the dirtiest sounding recordings since Kick Out The Jams. Do you miss the days when rock recordings were dangerous? If so, you must crave Raw Rock Fury.

After touring extensively with the likes of YOB, Uncle Acid and the deadbeats and others, ECSTATIC VISION head out again with Creepoid. The leg includes SXSW, Chicago, Denver and more before traveling to Europe for an appearance at Desertfest. All dates available below.

Ecstatic Vision
Raw Rock Fury
Relapse Records
April 7, 2017
Pre-order Here
1 – You Got It (Or You Don’t)
2 – The Electric Step
3 – Keep it Loose
4 – The Twinkling Eye

ECSTATIC VISION Live Dates:
Mar 16-18: Austin, TX – SXSW
Mar 20: Oklahoma City, OK – 89th Street Collective #
Mar 21: Wichita, KS – Kirby’s Beer Store #
Mar 22: Fort Collins, CO – Surfside #
Mar 23: Denver, CO – Hi-Dive #
Mar 24: Salt Lake City, UT – Diabolical Records #
Mar 25-26: Boise, ID – Treefort Music Fest #
Mar 28: Omaha, NE – O’Leavers #
Mar 29: Chicago, IL – Subterranean #
Mar 30: Cleveland, OH – Now That’s Class #
# – w/ Creepoid

Europe
Apr 21: Roma, IT – HPS Night
Apr 22: Parma, IT – Titty Twister
Apr 24: Trieste, IT – Tertis
Apr 25: Salzburg, AT – Rockhouse
Apr 26: Bologna, IT – Alchemica Club
Apr 27: Olten, CH – Le Coq D’Or
Apr 28: Liege, BE – Garage
Apr 29: Nijmegen, NL – Doornroosje
Apr 30: Berlin, DE – Desertfest
May 02: Koln, DE – Limes
May 03: Paris, FR – Glazart
May 04: Lille, FR – Biplan
May 05: Rennes, FR – Mondo Bizarro
May 06: Clermont Ferrand, FR – Raymond Bar
May 09: Sevilla, ES – Sala X
May 10: Louele, PT – Bafo Baraco
May 11: Cascais, PT – Stairway Club
May 12: Madrid, ES – Wulrlitzer Ballroom
May 13: San Sebastian, ES – DABADABA
May 14: Bordeaux, FR – VOID
May 16: Lucerne, CH – Treibhaus Luzern
May 17: Bolzano, IT – Sudwerk
May 18: Zagreb, HR – Vintage Bar
May 19: Ravenna, IT – Bronson
May 20: Milano, IT – BLOOD (Sonic Ritual)

ECSTATIC VISION is:
Doug Sabolik
Michael Field Connor
Jordan Crouse
Kevin Nickles

https://www.facebook.com/ecstaticvision
https://twitter.com/ecstaticvision_
https://www.instagram.com/ecstaticvision
http://www.relapse.com
http://www.facebook.com/relapserecords
http://www.relapserecords.bandcamp.com
http://www.twitter.com/relapserecords

Ecstatic Vision, “You Got It (Or You Don’t)”

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Canyon, Canyon: Process Beginnings

Posted in Reviews on February 7th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

canyon self titled

At four tracks and just under 19 minutes, the self-titled debut EP from Philadelphia three-piece Canyon give listeners just enough of a glimpse of where they might be headed to emphasize the potential at work. Canyon is their first outing since getting together in 2015 with the lineup of guitarist/vocalist Peter Stanko, bassist/vocalist Dean Welsh and drummer/vocalist Anthony Bove and after an initial digital self-release and tape through Anvileater Records, the short outing shows up as a full jewel-case CD with a picture of the band out front to emphasize the classic ideas they’re working from. I would not be surprised if some of the root jams out of which opener “Mashriq” was formed were some of Canyon‘s earliest, as there is definitely a formative aspect to their approach, vocals following the riff closely in a bouncing rhythm that, even compared to what follows on the palpably airier “She Comes to Me,” seems straightforward in a we’re-a-new-band-getting-our-footing kind of way.

That process itself, honestly represented as it is, can be and is refreshing to hear, and in the context of Canyon‘s style, which benefits greatly from an organic warmth of tone in the guitar and bass along with the interplay of vocals, it makes a particular sense that they would showcase where they’re at in this early stage of their progression. Their sound, captured here by Alex Santilli, who engineered and mixed at Spice House Sound while Mark Trewella at Full Circle Mastering handled the finishing touches, is raw, but still offers plenty to the curious listener, and even more so on repeat visits.

After some initial thud, “Mashriq” starts off with a righteously fuzzed impression. Philly has seen no shortage of heavy psych come through the last couple years, from Ruby the Hatchet and Ecstatic Vision to Meddlesome Meddlesome Meddlesome Bells, but right away, “Mashriq” positions Canyon as having a more earthbound take — fitting enough for their name, I suppose — given to roll and straightforwardness in structure. At just under three and a half minutes, it’s the shortest of the four inclusions on the EP and as “She Comes to Me,” “Radiant Light” and “Tell Me Mister” play out behind it, it becomes something of an outlier stylistically for that. Where Stanko, Welsh and Bove soon enough dig into a languid blend of heavy blues rock and, in the case of “Radiant Light” particularly, find a niche for themselves in dreamy vocal melodicism to complement a shimmer in Stanko‘s guitar, the leadoff cut seems more about establishing a context on which the subsequent material builds.

Maybe that’s Canyon‘s way of easing the listener into their world, and that’s certainly valid, even on a short offering like this one, but “Mashriq,” while a strong opener and memorable in its hook, ultimately does little to account for some of the fleshed-out vibes that follow, even as “Tell Me Mister” rounds out with a return to a more energetic push and the gotta-hear-it buzz-tone that begs to be turned up even louder than it starts. How one accounts for that will depend on the listener, but if we look at the concept of a “debut EP” doing the work that a band’s “demo” used to do, then Canyon‘s establishes them as an outfit with an immediately varied approach of craft, however nascent it might otherwise be.

Could that be the work of multiple songwriters? I don’t know, but I’d believe it based on how the progression plays out front to back. Most importantly, however, Canyon offer intrigue and show several potential avenues for future growth and where their sound might go, toying with pop elements in their use of backing vocals in a kind of garage-grunge mindset — this happens in “Mashriq” as well — and dedicate themselves to a breadth of approach that stays apparent even in this abbreviated context. As to how that growth might manifest, it hardly seems fair to speculate, but as the self-titled plays out with increasing complexity almost on a song-by-song basis until “Tell Me Mister” bridges the gap in summarizing what the band has been putting together all the while, it’s easy enough to foresee Canyon stabilizing their approach to songwriting in a way that allows them to construct a full-album flow.

This, of course, is essential to the work of an initial outing like this one — to give the band lessons to learn as they move forward, and I hear nothing in the tracks to make me think Canyon won’t do precisely that. On the most basic level, it’s a quick debut outing — a demo by any other name — that shows potential in tone and in trading between bounce and blues and drift and thrust all while holding to identifiable markers and avoiding a direct, blatant flag-bearing of its influences. This already is more than one might reasonably ask of it, and it is not by any means the sum total of what is delivered.

Canyon, Canyon (2017)

Canyon on Thee Facebooks

Canyon on Bandcamp

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Review & Track Premiere: Stinking Lizaveta, Journey to the Underworld

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on February 3rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Stinking-Lizaveta-Journey-To-The-Underworld

[Click play above to stream ‘Blood, Milk and Honey’ from Stinking Lizaveta’s new album, Journey to the Underworld. Release is Feb. 17 on Translation Loss.]

You’d have to look pretty far and pretty wide to find a band who’s been weirder, for longer, than Stinking Lizaveta. Much farther and wider than Philadelphia, anyhow, which is from whence the instrumentalist trio have been emanating their one-of-a-kind progressive blend of rock, jazz, punk, metal and doom for more than 20 years — their first album, …Hopelessness and Shame, released in 1996 preceded by a few earlier singles. The three-piece of founding guitarist Yanni Papadopoulos, founding upright electric bassist Alexi Papadopoulos and founding drummer Cheshire Agusta have established their own wavelength over the course of that time, which is to say one expects a certain kind of madcap adventure into blinding turns and near-freneticism when playing a Stinking Lizaveta, at least as part of the overall offering, but right up to their eighth album, Journey to the Underworld — their second for Translation Loss — they retain an evident glee in the experimental process.

That shows itself in the nine-song outing’s overarching progression as much as within individual tracks as it scorches through side A cuts like opener “Witches and Pigs” and the thrashy “Six Fangs” in order to begin to introduce more contemplative textures on “Blood, Milk and Honey” that will flesh out across the subsequent title-track, the spacious “Love Song for Jusu,” the acoustic-strummed “A Stranger’s Welcome” and the brief, classic prog outro “Allegro” on side B. Produced and mixed by Stephen Berrigan (Paul Webb co-produced) with a master by Bruce Leighton and suitably-odd cover art by David GunnJourney to the Underworld is the first Stinking Lizaveta album in five years since the Sanford Parker-produced 7th Direction arrived in 2012 (in Europe via Exile on Mainstream) following up 2009’s Sacrifice and Bliss (review here).

Accordingly, it’s little surprise the non-vocalized outfit seem to have so much to say within Journey to the Underworld‘s utterly-manageable 36-minute span. A principal element of their work has always been an utter refusal to take up the mantle of pretense to which their technical acumen entitles them. They could be real dicks about being so good, but they’re not. Instead, from “Witches and Pigs” onward into the guitar-led trad-metal-gone-noise of “Chorus and Shades” (think alternate-reality Slough Feg) and seeming to even out over the conversational course of “Sharp Stick in the Eye” — each measure seeming to argue with the one before it — Stinking Lizaveta keep their heads about them even as those of their listeners set to spinning. That aspect of their personality, a kind of sonic humility, has been consistent in their studio output over the years, and the clear-but-natural recording from Berrigan here presents it well, but that shouldn’t be taken to mean “Chorus of Shades” or “Sharp Stick in the Eye” — which thuds to a finish just in time to let Agusta‘s drums pick up with the start of “Six Fangs,” soon to depart into thrashier terrain — somehow lacks dynamic.

stinking lizaveta (photo by dante torrieri)

If anything, Journey to the Underworld becomes richer for the here-it-is-style presentation functioning as an implicit dare on the part of the challenging material itself rather than the band’s showiness, which again, they don’t have when they easily could. As the first half of the album transitions into the second, “Blood, Milk and Honey” follows “Six Fangs” as the centerpiece of the tracklisting and works in three stages. The first of them is a mid-paced chug, nodding, relatively straightforward. The second is a wistful acoustic-led turn that sets on a linear build eventually topped by a shredding solo and insistent chug, impeccably mixed. The third is a return to the opening progression following the righteous payoff to the prior build. All of this happens in under five minutes.

It is precisely this kind of efficient, unpostured feel that sets Stinking Lizaveta and the rest of the planet apart. Following “Blood, Milk and Honey” — which, indeed, seems to represent all three — Journey to the Underworld shifts into further sonic expansion as the 6:56 title-track cuts back on tempo in order to move more patiently through a course no less complex than anything that has preceded, trading between lurching rhythm and more atmospheric sprawl. The latter will also be a factor in “Love Song for Jusu,” which is shorter and, fitting its title, less grimly mooded on the whole, but still comes to a wash of noise in its midsection before a sweetness of guitar rounds out. Of particular note in terms of the recording is the tone of the acoustic guitar, or quiet electric, or whatever it is, that Yanni is using. Listening to “A Stranger’s Welcome,” one can hear the strings responding to his fingers, to the strike of his pick, and the song comes that much more to life for it.

As part of the closing duo with “Allegro” subsequent, Journey to the Underworld finds emotional resolution in “A Stranger’s Welcome” as well, and as they finish with a sudden crash and burst of noise, one can hear laughter coming through the room mics. This serves as an inherent reminder of the human core behind the voyage on which Stinking Lizaveta have embarked throughout, and if indeed it’s an Underworld to which they’re headed, it’s one that comforts rather than terrorizes — defying, as ever, the cliché in favor of more individualized expression. Their work has never been and probably never will be for everyone, but that doesn’t make it any less special, and as they end the longest drought between full-lengths of their career — Agusta was involved in a significant hit-and-run in 2012, it’s worth noting — they do so by only continuing to broaden their technical, emotional and aural reach. I almost never use the word “unique” to describe bands, but Stinking Lizaveta earn that and more on Journey to the Underworld, and remain an underrated treasure unto themselves.

Stinking Lizaveta on Thee Facebooks

Stinking Lizaveta website

Stinking Lizaveta on Bandcamp

Translation Loss Records website

Translation Loss Records webstore

Translation Loss Records on Thee Facebooks

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Green Meteor to Release Consumed by a Dying Sun on Argonauta Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 25th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Golly. With all this talk about moon valkyries and two-wheeled space cowboys, you’d almost think Green Meteor were weedian as fuck. Oh wait, they are. The Philly outfit have been trying to find a label home able to compensate for the bizarro riffery of their debut album, Consumed by a Dying Sun, since they announced their Fall tour last October, and it seems Italian imprint Argonauta Records is the one bold enough to take on the task. No solid release date yet, but it’ll reportedly be sometime this year — the label has an increasingly full schedule emerging, and keeps adding bands to it — and that works for me. Wouldn’t be surprised in the least if Green Meteor hit the road again in 2017 as well, as their kind of volume and weird ritualizing is best enjoyed with friends.

Argonauta sent the following along the PR wire:

green meteor

GREEN METEOR sign to Argonauta Records

We’re excited to announce we inked a deal with Philadelphia sonic space warriors GREEN METEOR.

Green Meteor blends influences old and new into their heavy brand of space rock. Fuzz-saturated rhythms and cosmic soundscapes are charged with melodic vocals to create the perfect sonic accompaniment to their live visual experience.

On working with Argonauta: “When Gero, the high-command of Argonauta Record,s sent us a transmission about a rendezvous between Green Meteor and Argonauta Records in which we would create an international alliance with intent of reducing the cosmos to space haze via super-sonic assault, we were thrilled. Our vision and his aligned and thus the journey has begun! We are pleased to be a part of the roster and we are very confident that great things will come from this partnership.”

GREEN METEOR sound was formed in a space vacuum that managed to escape in 2015 and find its way to the stage 2016. The cosmic tribe was formed by Algar-a two wheeled space cowboy fueled by black hole bass fallout, 2T-a highly advanced killing machine turned drummer and space sound database, Amy-a moon Valkyrie mastered in the art of crushing sonic sound, and Leta-a shamanic space cheetah. Together they complete the space ritual known as Green Meteor.

New album to be released during 2017, a must-have for fans of of Kyuss, Acid King, Bongzilla and Hawkwind.

Picture by Sam Pinola.

Green Meteor:
Leta: Celestial Summonings & 6th Level Sonic Complexities
Amy: Explorations of the 6 Degrees of Freedom
Tony: Anti-Gravitational Percussive Reverberations Through Time Space Continuum
Algar: Anti-Cosmic Astral Verses & Journeys into the 4th Dimension

https://www.facebook.com/Green-Meteor-183210485410192/
https://greenmeteor.bandcamp.com/releases
www.argonautarecords.com
facebook.com/argonautarecords

Green Meteor, “Acute Emerald Elevation”

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