Saturnia, The Seance Tapes: An Open Channel

Posted in Reviews on July 9th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

saturnia the seance tapes

To-date, multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Luís Simões has led Saturnia through seven albums of ever-increasing cosmic reach. Simões, who is based in Lisboa, Portugal, and plays guitar, lap steel, theremin, bass pedals, Mellotron, and acoustic and electric sitar, has always been the core of the band and he remains so, but the difference with Saturnia‘s latest offering, The Seance Tapes (released by Elektrohasch), is that he’s joined in the studio by a stage-ready band. He and drummer André Silva have worked together before, unless I’m mistaken, but together in the studio with keyboardist, organist, electric pianist, synthesist — basically if it’s got keys, he’s right in there — Nuno Oliveira, the resultant trio tap into a live chemistry that’s never been conjured by Saturnia until now. It’s only fitting, then, that the 12-tracks of The Seance Tapes should be culled, two each, from the band’s six-album back catalog:

1. Chrysalis (5:31) from 2001’s The Glitter Odd
2. A Burnt Offering (8:10) from 2016’s The Real High
3. Infinite Chord (5:17) from 2007’s Muzak
4. I Am Utopia (8:52) from 2012’s Alpha Omega Alpha
5. The Real High (8:33) from The Real High
6. Hydrophonic Gardening (3:40) from 2003’s Hydrophonic Gardening
7. Mindrama (6:00) from Muzak
8. Gemini (4:44) from 1999’s Saturnia
9. Still Life (5:06) from The Glitter Odd
10. Sunflower (7:31) from Hydrophonic Gardening
11. The Twilight Bong (9:33) from Saturnia
12. Cosmonication (6:04) from Alpha Omega Alpha

Ordered for maximum flow rather than chronology, the 79-minute album stretches the limits of the CD format and is currently awaiting a 2LP issue, but however one might end up taking it on, the intention is plain in giving Saturnia‘s live ambitions a studio form, and hearing the sitar-drone-laced “The Real High” or the post-The Heads space-rock-meets-shoegaze-vocals vibes of “I am Utopia” before it, the vibrancy emanating from them is as infectious as the swinging rhythms brought to bear by Silva‘s utter mastery of psychedelic percussion. Whether it’s hand drums on “The Real High” or the far-off cymbals echoing behind the Mellotron-laced “Still Life” or the pickup brought to opener “Chrysalis,” or the subtle grounding given to the mellow psych-prog meandering of “A Burnt Offering” and the especially King Crimson-esque “Cosmonication,” Silva‘s contributions are utterly essential. One could say the same of the textures Oliveira brings to the same tracks alongside Simões, and even if power-trio-Saturnia had the blueprint of the band’s past albums to work from, it’s still an impressive amount of character brought to the material to make it come to life.

saturnia

No doubt actually recording live has something to do with that as well. Of course, Simões, who also helms Saturnia‘s production duties, has been at this long enough to know what he wants from the band in terms of sound, but with Silva and Oliveira on board, he’s still in relatively unexplored territory. While it seems likely that they would’ve gone back later to layer in effects, synth, swirls, percussion and so on, since there’s only so much a human being can be playing at one time — curse our limitations as a species! — to even put down the basic tracks live is a bold choice on the part of the band. A safe one, too, though, considering what they’re playing is established material rather than something new. Still, you want to show off your live band? Play live. Seems fair enough, right? Simões being the one running the show would know that, but that doesn’t mean the decision lacks bravery. On the contrary, two years after releasing The Real High and some 19 years forward from their debut (which Elektrohasch also reissued in 2009), Saturnia have chosen to take their exploration to a meta level — examining what it means to be a full band after so many years under Simões‘ direct control with complementary contributions from guest players. It’s the shape of the band itself changing now.

So what one ends up with on The Seance Tapes is a forward-looking retrospective. And for as much time as it covers, the sound throughout is strikingly cohesive when it comes to representing Saturnia‘s past material as hippie-dance-ready psychedelia. In more active stretches like “Mindrama” and the cosmic pulsations of “Sunflower” and the deep-dive moodier feel of the slow-rolling “Gemini,” there is a unity throughout that comes from the performance on the part of the band. That is, while Saturnia‘s sonic progression over the last almost-two-decades has brought it from electronic influences to being the kind of band who might decide to do a greatest hits record live in the studio rather than simply assemble the tracks as they were, there isn’t necessarily a hiccup throughout The Seance Tapes as they jump back and forth from album to album in Simões‘ discography. Rather, it’s the very fact that they’re putting it to tape live that draws the material together. They take advantage of the methodology in terms not only of bringing vitality to the songs — and these songs sound truly vital; vibrant and affirming like the best of peak-psychedelia, even with a heavier underpinning — but in creating a thread between them that helps make that vitality so pervasive. In the sitar-fueled revelations of “The Twilight Bong” and the spaced-out Mellotron epique groove of “Infinite Chord” and in the percussive serenity wash that is the second half of “The Real High,” there isn’t anywhere or anywhen that Saturnia go where they don’t seem right at home.

Perhaps most interesting of all when it comes to The Seance Tapes is the temporal accomplishment of it in using past material to establish the sound of who Saturnia are now. Much like the balance between safety and risk in recording older songs live with a new lineup, there’s also the fact that they’re making a definitive statement of intention across this graceful and extended span. Whatever Saturnia have been in the past, they’re working toward a new plane, and it’s inherent in the context of The Seance Tapes that it should be a landmark along the band’s timeline. Whether Simões will continue with the band in this form and adopt a more live-focused ethic, I don’t know, but it says something about creative will that after six records, the crux of what makes his project what it is has shifted so significantly. No doubt he could easily continue to bang out collections every couple years on his own, and that both might still happen and be just fine — it’s certainly worked before — but The Seance Tapes represents a drive that extends to more than just an adventurous sound. It is a genuine search for and attempt to bring something new to Saturnia, and what or may not be next, the dividends wrought here are not to be ignored.

Saturnia, “Mindrama” official video

Saturnia on Thee Facebooks

Saturnia website

Elektrohasch Schallplatten website

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SonicBlast Moledo 2018, You Broke My Heart.

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 10th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Alright, book my flight. I’ll crash on somebody’s couch; I don’t care as long as there’s wifi. SonicBlast Moledo 2018, you’ve won my heart. 1000mods, Causa Sui, Samsara Blues Experiment and The Atomic Bitchwax on the same bill? By the beach? Plus Atavismo and Earthless and Nebula and Naxatras and Conan are playing? Come on. It’s like the people who put this fucking thing together all sat around a table and said, “What’s gonna make that dickweed from that shitty American website really wish he could come to Portugal in August?”

Note: I’m not actually narcissistic enough to believe that happened — though if it was going to, it would definitely be that phrasing — but yeah, wow. It’s pretty hard to stare at this lineup and process it as something I have zero chance in hell of experiencing for myself. What a bummer. If you make it to Moledo, I hope you fucking treasure it. Because you should.

Gadzooks:

sonicblast moledo 2018 header

SONICBLAST MOLEDO 2018

Stoner Doom Psych Heavy – Sea Beach Camping Pool Surf Skate

With the dates settled for August 10th and 11th, the eighth edition of SonicBlast Moledo is stoked to announce Causa Sui, Samsara Blues Experiment, 1000mods, Mantar, The Atomic Bitchwax, The Black Wizards, Solar Corona and Greengo! They join the previously confirmed acts Earthless, Kadavar, Nebula, Conan, Ufomammut, Naxatras, Purple Hill Witch, Atavismo and Ruff Majik!

They could be simply described as Psychedelic Rock, however Causa Sui goes far beyond the term. With more than eight albums released, the Denmark’s group creates a distinctive musical universe with diverse influences such as Krautrock, Progressive Rock, Stoner or Jazz, in order to achieve unique instrumental feats. Their first performance ever in Portugal, for one of their rare concerts during the year, could not be more expected.

Six years after their debut in Portugal, right at the second edition of SonicBlast, the German trio Samsara Blues Experiment is preparing to make the long-awaited return to Moledo. Considered one of the greatest precursors of the European Psychedelic Stoner, the group brings now with them their latest album “One With The Universe,” one of the most acclaimed records within the genre last year, which shows the band’s full maturity and their way to outdo themselves.

Formed only by two elements, the German Mantar view their sound as a brutal sonic destruction, where genres like Doom, Black Metal and Punk unite in a primal rage. On the road since 2013, the duo has released three albums, one of them being recorded live, demonstrating the hard work they’ve done over the past years. Their concerts are known for being absolutely demolishing and intense, which manage to elevate the duo name to another level. Forget about Rock ‘n Roll, this will hurt!

Recognized as one of the most important bands within the Stoner Rock universe, 1000mods return to Portugal with the aim of showing the overwhelming power of their fuzz. Hailing from southern Greece, the quartet already counts with three EP’s and three albums, several European tours and a North American tour. From their live concerts, we can only expect one thing; an astounding and memorable experience.

Present at the festival back in 2014, the power-trio The Atomic Bitchwax, visit us again to spread a great amount of “Super Stoner Rock”. This time, the North Americans Finn Ryan, Chris Kosnik and Bob Pantella (also from Monster Magnet) bring with them their seventh studio album “Force Field”, a refreshing and stimulating record, where Psychedelic influences and Rock n ‘Roll are never missing.

The Black Wizards are no longer unknown to the majority fans of the Heavy Rock subculture, whose immense work evidences their enormous value and dedication to their music. With their undisputed talent, they can skillfully play blues, psychedelic or sheer rock n’ roll, as it’s well demonstrated on their latest album “What the Fuzz”.

From Barcelos to Moledo, Solar Corona arrive moved by cosmic psychedelia and spacey grooves. Now counting with a new rhythm section, the trio certainly knows how to induce each listener into a increasingly hypnotic atmosphere, which will guarantee a monumental musical journey.

Born between the union of massive fuzz noise and greenish fumes, the duo Greengo practices a Sludge Stoner Metal filled with massive riffs, dominant vocals and trembling sonic vibrations, capable of shaking any stage where they appear.

https://sonicblastmoledo.bol.pt/
https://www.facebook.com/SonicBlast-Moledo-242619262427066/
https://www.facebook.com/events/181938749070159/
https://sonicblastmoledo.wordpress.com/

1000mods, Repeated Exposure To… (2016)

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Dollar Llama Post Video for “Louder”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 12th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

dollar llama

Portuguese bruiser rockers Dollar Llama issued their third album, Juggernaut, this past December via Raging Planet, and with it unfurl a swath of dudely aggro burl worthy of the title. Taking influence from the likes of Down, Goatsnake and those of harder, meaner edges, the band chug their way through cuts like “Knucklehead,” the ultra-catchy “Misery,” and the bullying but still hook driven “Bocanegra,” keeping structures straightforward but offering some variety of mood around the central crux of testosterone-fueled groove. In some of its nastiest charge, Juggernaut borders on sludge — somehow it’s never quite sloppy enough to actually get there — but it’s never ultimately too far from an underlying current of straightforward metal, as heard in the riffs and gruff vocals alike.

And yet, when one listens to a cut like “Louder” — for which the band have a new video which you can view below — the track isn’t without a sense of space or depth of arrangement, and the same applies to songs like “Nails,” the second half of the penultimate title-track and the verses of the slower “Currents.” This doesn’t quite set up a dichotomy between one side and another throughout the album, but it definitely gives Dollar Llama more of a sense of range than they’d have otherwise, vocalist Tiago Simões harmonizing in layers on “Currents” as guitarists Chikko Marques and Hugo Vieira intertwine riffs and leads atop the solid foundation of rhythm from bassist José Dinis and drummer Pedro Cardoso. No matter what direction a given song is headed in throughout Juggernaut, the band keep it crisp and professional, and offer stage-ready energy with a studio-born fullness of tone. To wit, it seems like no coincidence the record caps with the two-minute balls-outtery of “Stagefires,” which feels as much like a statement of intent as anything else.

All told, Juggernaut is 10 tracks and 44 minutes of dead-ahead push, stuck-in-your-head hooks and rocker-mosh vibing. There’s more than a little chestbeating going on and something of a sense of by-dudes-about-dudes-for-dudes comes through the proceedings, but there’s no arguing with the penchant for songcraft, and Juggernaut becomes even more of a destructive force when ridiculous volume is applied. Trust me, I tested it out.

PR wire info follows the video for “Louder” below. I’ve also included the full album stream of Juggernaut in case you’d like to dig in a bit more.

Either way, please enjoy:

Dollar Llama, “Louder” official video

DOLLAR LLAMA have released their third full length album in December 2nd 2017.

“JUGGERNAUT” can be defined as a “literal or metaphorical force regarded as mercilessly, destructive and unstoppable.” That’s how the band describes the sound of the 10 heavy tracks that makes “Juggernaut” the most powerful album in the history of the band so far.

“LOUDER” is the most psychedelic song, with a voyage of heavy riffs, trippy solos and raging vocals. The album was recorded at Black Sheep Studios, produced by Miguel Marques (Devil In Me, Comeback Kid, More Than a Thousand) and will be distributed by Raging Planet (PT) and Stone Groove Records (USA).

Dollar Llama, Juggernaut (2017)

Dollar Llama on Thee Facebooks

Dollar Llama website

Dollar Llama at Raging Planet Bandcamp

Raging Planet website

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Sinistro Offer Track-by-Track Look at Sangue Cássia

Posted in Features on March 1st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Sinistro-Ines_Achando

While I’m sure it’s less of an issue for you because you’re more worldly and up on your stuff generally than I am, my ignorant American ass doesn’t speak Portuguese. Add it to a long and ever-growing list of sources of personal shames. The upshot of this, however is that when it comes to Lisbon-based doomers Sinistro and their third and latest album for Season of Mist, Sangue Cássia, most of what I’m going on in trying to understand the album and its eight component tracks — seven originals and a closing cover of Paradise Lost, with whom Sinistro toured Europe last fall — is second-hand knowledge and what of the overall mood I can derive from the atmosphere.

Fortunately, when it comes right down to it Sangue Cássia wants nothing for mood or atmosphere. Its doom runs through the pulsating emotionalist vein of the aforementioned Paradise Lost or even a melody-fronted My Dying Bride — lest we forget to mention top Portuguese metal exports Moonspell— with vocalist Patricia Andrade bringing significant character to pieces like “Petalas” and rolling 11-minute album opener and longest track (immediate points) “Cosmos Controle,” as well as the Euro-fest-ready loud/quiet trades and crawling tempo of “Abismo,” on which the guitars of Rick Chain and Ricardo Matias meet head-on with the low-end rumble of Fernando Matias‘ bass and the intermittent roll of Paulo Lafaia‘s drums, further synth ambience from Matias fleshing out an already deep-running arrangement mix.

And yet, amid this complexity of presentation — which, rest assred only grows more prevalent as the five-piece head toward the finale of “Cravo Carne,” though the threatrical “Nuvem” and “Gardenia,” which trades between some of the darkest metal and some of the brightest melodies oN Sangue Cássia as a whole — Sinistro maintain a sense of poise that lets them keep their feet firmly planted despite the swirling winds of the tempest they’ve created. Still, part of me sure would like to know what these songs are actually about, and fortunately the band was willing to comply with that desire — fucking imperialist American — and sent over the following brief track-by-track rundown.

Please enjoy:

sinistro sangue cassia

Sinistro, Sangue Cássia Track-by-Track:

“Cosmos Controle” explore different landscapes, ambience to describe a voyage. A lovers voyage lost in the night. A voyage into their feelings. Feeling so much it hurts.They lost each other.

“Lótus” Is a place where heaven in hell are together. Is an empty kingdom of a single man taking a peek  at emptiness in search of a divine encounter to save himself.

“Pétalas” Portrays an inner voyage in which existentialism is perpetuated , the escape, the mismatch. A plunge in our ruins to be reborn through purge.

“Vento Sul” Describe a state of mind where the questioning is permanent . The south wind is the element that will bring some answers. For that, you need to listen yourself and wait.

“Abismo” is a song where you get into a woman´s dialogue with mountain high walls. A place of two voices with wounds and wreckage sounds. From dialogue to a monologue,in silence, start a journey to find herself in and with the world.

“Nuvem” is a metaphor to speak about existence. In where do you want to see yourself and the impermanence of life.

“Gardénia” is a story about a woman who lives on the street describing her life memories and her loss.

“Cravo Carne” speaks about the age of fear, the time before the end. A reflexion about aging.

“Ferida” is a description about a man and his small town landscape as a form to ilustrate his soul wounds.

“Nothing Sacred” the song from Paradise Lost that we made a cover was a good challenge. We decided to choose a song that was not a obvious choice, in which the vocals would fit naturally.

Sinistro, Sangue Cássia (2018)

Sinistro on Thee Facebooks

Sinistro on Bandcamp

Sinistro at Season of Mist webstore

Season of Mist on Thee Facebooks

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SonicBlast Moledo 2018: Earthless, Ufomammut, Purple Hill Witch, Atavismo and Ruff Majik Join Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 12th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

sonicblast moledo 2018 banner

Set for Aug. 11 and 12 in Portugal, SonicBlast Moledo 2018 continues to build a lineup varied in sound but seemingly unified in vibe. That is to say, whether you’re locked into a hypnotic jam from Earthless or getting crushed by Ufomammut or Conan and doomed by Purple Hill Witch, lost in Nebula‘s desert rock bliss or the lush progressive psych of Atavismo, SonicBlast Moledo 2018 strikes as looking to deliver to those fortunate enough to attend a good time through and through. A band can be dark and grim, or coated in melodic sunshine to match what is no doubt a powerful Iberia-in-August heat — though maybe it’s cooler by the shore — and you’re still going to enjoy yourself. It’s okay to have fun. It’s okay to like things. You’re worth it.

I mean that.

And if you are lucky enough to attend what’s clearly a labor of love on the part of the organizers, I hope you do enjoy. I’ll be jealous.

Here’s the latest word from the PR wire:

SonicBlast Moledo 2018 – Second wave of announcements!

SONICBLAST MOLEDO 2018

Stoner Doom Psych Heavy – Sea Beach Camping Pool Surf Skate

With the dates settled for August 10th and 11th, the eighth edition of SonicBlast Moledo is stoked to announce Earthless, Ufomammut, Purple Hill Witch, Atavismo and Ruff Majik! They join the previously confirmed acts Kadavar, Nebula, Conan and Naxatras!

The mighty Earthless. The Heavy Psychedelic Rock masters. The cosmic instrumental warriors whose power influences generations and leaves any soul stunned. Dominating their instruments like no one, Earthless know how induce unique transcendental states of mind, inspired by the eclectic Krautrock, the exotic Japanese Heavy Blues Rock and the ever-lasting presence of musical guides like Jimi Hendrix or Black Sabbath. From their live shows, we can only expect demolisher minutes of acid and ecstatic vibrations, marked by an incomparable caliber, where we set our own astral space as destiny.

Hailing from the Piedmont region, Ufomammut are easily distinguished as the Italian masters of the Psychedelic Doom Metal. With their 8th album already released, the trio keeps demonstrating the power of their cavernous and massive sounds, employing intense riffs and profound ambiences to induce incessant trances.During their live shows, they are frequently supported by Malleus Collective’s multimedia art, creating a whole new visual impact allied to their music.

Coming out from the far way countryside of Norway lands, Purple Hill Witch follow the Sabbathian law of Doom, conjuring up the sheer excellence of proto heaviness with the swirling vibes of Psychedelic Hard Rock, sculpting a flawless presence. Following their 2014 self-titled masterwork, the trio arrives at Moledo with its successor “Celestial Cemetery”, presenting themselves at their full splendor.

Popular for their energetic live shows, the young trio Ruff Majik doesn’t hold back when it comes to rock n roll. Arriving all the way from South Africa, more precisely Pretoria, these three fuzzy souls are ready to brings a lot of Psych Blues Stoner riffs and many good times with them, touring on European soil for the first time ever.

Born from the ashes of well-known underground bands such a Viaje A 800 or Mind!, the Spanish Atavismo are famous for their Progressive Psychedelic Rock, carefully created by the aid of experimental space rock and atmospherical sensations. After releasing their great sophomore album “Inerte”, the band toured throughout Europe, arriving now at the shore of Moledo.

https://sonicblastmoledo.bol.pt/
https://www.facebook.com/SonicBlast-Moledo-242619262427066/
https://www.facebook.com/events/181938749070159/
https://sonicblastmoledo.wordpress.com/

Atavismo, Inerte (2017)

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SonicBlast Moledo 2018: Conan, Kadavar, Naxatras & Nebula Confirmed for Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 10th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

sonicblast moledo 2018 FIRSTBANNER

In the several years now that I’ve been keeping up with lineup announcements for the Portuguese SonicBlast Moledo festival, I don’t think I’ve ever encountered one that didn’t immediately set me to daydreaming about making the trip to the Iberian coastline to experience it for myself. It’s like a Pavlovian response at this point — drool and all. The first word from SonicBlast Moledo 2018 is, of course, no different, and as I sit in my dimly-lit Massachusetts kitchen with my hood up and three layers of pants on because I’m so god damned cold and cracks in my right-hand fingers so deep that it’s actually physically hurting me to type this sentence right now, August seems like the perfect time to go. Or, you know, tomorrow.

First four for SonicBlast Moledo 2018? Conan, Kadavar, Naxatras and Nebula. That’s just fun to say. Go ahead, give it a shot. Out loud.

Here’s details from the PR wire:

SONICBLAST MOLEDO 2018: Stoner Doom Psych Heavy

Sea Beach Camping Pool Surf Skate

With the dates settled for August 10th and 11th, the lineup of the eighth edition of SonicBlast Moledo starts to take shape with the first confirmations: Kadavar, Nebula, Conan and Naxatras!

Almost five years later after their debut at the third edition of SonicBlast Moledo and their exponential growth, Kadavar return to Portugal to show the best that is done within the Retro Rock world. Following their sudden cancellation on the last edition, the power trio present themselves with their newest work, entitled “Rough Times”, released by the label Nuclear Blast Records, which shows the group’s superiority to create masterpieces of 70’s influenced Hard Rock, always with the excellent capacity of incorporating new elements in their music.

Conceived by the guitarist Eddie Glass, after departing Fu Manchu, Nebula are considered, without any doubt, one of the great and more influential precursors of the Stoner Rock movement. Two decades after their formation and seven years after their indefinite hiatus, the desert legends reborn for their new space incarnation, prepared to rule any soul with their distinctive dose of energetic fuzz, frenetic feedbacks and lots of psychedelia.

Barbarians by the name and by the sound, the British Conan have been defined, for more than 10 years, as caveman battle Doom, marked by distorted devastating guitars, sepulchral voices, and instruments tuned always below the low. With their live shows, we can expect storms of dark and raw riffs, projected by overwhelming walls of sound and brutally slow tempos that put us into a monolithic hypnotism.

Although relatively young, the Greeks Naxatras have already conquered their captive place within the European underground rock. Moved by their fascinating and peaceful psychedelic, together with their nuances of dreamy Hard Rock, this power trio is distinguished by its bold touches of Jazz, Funk, Progressive or desert influences, surely providing a live trip essential to be experienced.

https://sonicblastmoledo.bol.pt/
https://www.facebook.com/SonicBlast-Moledo-242619262427066/
https://www.facebook.com/events/181938749070159/
https://sonicblastmoledo.wordpress.com/

Kadavar, Live in Vienna, Oct. 28, 2017

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Quarterly Review: Carlton Melton, Horseskull, Dreadnought, Forsaken, Moon Rats, Son of the Morning, Jesus the Snake, Bert, Galactic Gulag, Band of Spice

Posted in Reviews on January 8th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Lodewijk de Vadder (1605-1655) - 17th Century Etching, Landscape with Two Farms

Today begins the Quarterly Review. You know the deal by now. 50 records written up between today and this Friday, 10 per day. As always, it’s a huge swath of stuff, and by the end of it I’m usually ready to collapse in a heap, but I’ve yet to regret it afterwards, so we press on. I hope you find something you dig in all this. I say that every time, but it’s still true.

Speaking of digging, how about that new logo up there? Thanks goes out to the Lord of the Logos himself, Christophe Szpajdel, who took on the project. This is the second one he’s done for the site, and aside from being in a completely different style from the last — I like covering a good amount of ground, even in logos — I think it fits pretty well with a variety of aesthetics. Could be doom, could be heavy rock, psych, stoner garage, whatever. Anyway, I’m into it. Hope you are too.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Carlton Melton, Mind Minerals

carlton melton mind minerals

It might be decades before the dimension we live in has caught up to the plane from which Northern California’s Carlton Melton emanate their resonant transmissions of space-psych, but somehow time doesn’t seem to matter anyway when actually listening. To wit, Mind Minerals, the trio’s first LP since 2015’s Out to Sea, is an 11-track/76-minute whopper – unmanageable by any standard – but once it’s on, all you want to do is roll with it and by the time post-aptly-named intro “Untimely” has begat “Electrified Sky” has begat the droning “The Lighthouse” has begat the fuzzy swirl of “Eternal Return” has begat the 10-minute rumble-and-synth soundtracking of “Snow Moon,” etc., there’s neither escape nor the desire for it. Does it need to be a 2LP? Nope, but nothing needs to be anything, man. In the subdued boogie of “Basket Full of Trumpets,” the is-it-backwards slow freakout of “Sea Legs,” the experimental guitar ambience of “Way Back When,” headphone-ready minimalism of “Climbing the Ladder,” the shaker’s tension that sustains the otherwise wispy “Atmospheric River,” and the final fuzzy resurgence of “Psychoticedelicosis,” Carlton Melton thoroughly reaffirm their residency in the far, far out. Not that anyone was questioning their paperwork or anything.

Carlton Melton on Thee Facebooks

Agitated Records website

 

Horseskull, Chemical Winter Blues

horseskull chemical winter blues

With fluid shifts between Ripple-style straightforward heavy rock, rolling Sabbathian lumber and even some harsher sludge elements, the seven-minute “Black Dawn, Bright Day” sets a varied tone for Chemical Winter Blues, the second LP from North Carolina’s Horseskull. I’m not sure I’d declare any one side or the other the winner in the fight between them by the time the death ‘n’ roll of “Luckless Bastards” gives way to closer “Lost all I Had, then Lost Again” – itself a 17-minute noise-nodder triumph of, well, loss – but the trip through “Hypocrites and Pigs” and 10-minute centerpiece “The Black Flame of Cain” is unpredictable and fun to make in kind. Guitarist/vocalist Anthony Staton reminds a bit of Slough Feg’s Mike Scalzi in his cleaner delivery, which only adds to the album’s declarative feel, and the overarching groove surrounding from guitarist Michael Avery, bassist Robert Hewlett and drummer Steve Smith only reinforces the developing individualism.

Horseskull on Thee Facebooks

Horseskull on Bandcamp

 

Dreadnought, A Wake in Sacred Waves

dreadnought-a-wake-in-sacred-waves

There is very little beyond the reach of Denver four-piece Dreadnought. Their third album, A Wake in Sacred Waves (Sailor Records), blends open, psychedelic jazz, progressive black metal, folk and more into a sometimes-thrashing/sometimes-sprawling meld that recalls the promise of Grayceon and the poise of Opeth while at the same time casting its own impression in melody, arrangement, variety and scope. Opening with the 17-minute longest cut (immediate points) “Vacant Sea,” it brilliantly ties its elements together to present a story arc following in elemental theme from Dreadnought’s first two offerings in centering around the rise and fall of a water-born apex predator, the narrative of which plays out across its four intense, extended and resoundingly complex inclusions, which alternate between beautiful and terrifying in a way that leaves the line utterly blurred and irrelevant. Why this band isn’t on Profound Lore or Neurot, I have no idea, but either way, A Wake in Sacred Waves is a conceptual and manifest triumph not to be missed.

Dreadnought on Thee Facebooks

Sailor Records website

 

Forsaken, Pentateuch

forsaken-pentateuch

A spirit of classic doom metal abounds on Forsaken’s fifth long-player, Pentateuch (Mighty Music), which is the long-running Malta-based outfit’s first offering since 2009’s After the Fall, but though righteous fist-pumpers like “Primal Wound” and “Decalogue” carry an epic and unflinchingly progressive underpinning in their layered vocal melodies, a harsh snare sound and awkwardly punching bass stifle complete immersion. It’s less an issue in a cut like “Saboath (The Law Giver),” which has a full swing surrounding, but it makes post-intro opener “Serpent Bride” sound like a demo (unless it’s my digital promo?) in a way that sets an unfortunate tone in contrasting the obvious class and high-level execution of Pentateuch as a whole. It should be noted that even a rough production can’t hold “The Dove and the Raven” back from making its Candlemassian intent clear, but a record of such overall high standard should feel as crisp as possible, and particularly for being so many years in arriving, Forsaken’s latest seems to want more in that regard, despite the quality of the material that comprises it.

Forsaken on Thee Facebooks

Mighty Music website

 

Moon Rats, Highway Lord

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I’ve already counted Highway Lord among my favorite debuts of 2017, but consider it’s worth taking a moment to underline the point of the heavy psych and stoner-fuzz wash that Moon Rats so vigilantly emit on cuts like the opening salvo of “Become the Smoke,” “The Dark Takes Hold” and “Heroic Dose,” balancing languid vibe and sonic heft atop gorgeously natural songcraft. Among the short-feeling 29 minutes and seven inclusions, with the title-track at the center shifting into “Overdose,” the deeply atmospheric “The Hunter” the and melodically spacious “Motor Sword” at the finish, there isn’t a weak spot to be found, and whether it’s the added dynamic of a key arrangement in the closer or the landmark feel of the hook to “Heroic Dose,” the Milwaukee five-piece tap into the there’s-no-rush-we’ll-all-get-there sonic sentiment that once made Quest for Fire so entrancing, while engaging subtle flourish of presentation that promises creative development to come. Bring it on. Please. The sooner the better.

Moon Rats on Thee Facebooks

Gloss Records website

 

Son of the Morning, Son of the Morning EP

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Newcomer four-piece Son of the Morning, with the crisply-realized three tracks of their self-titled debut EP, would seem right away to be trying to stake their claim on a piece of the Midwest’s doom legacy. Coiling between heavy rock swing and classic doom tonality, each cut, from “Left Hand Path,” which rounds out after its welcoming hook with a sample of what sounds like somebody hanging in the breeze, through the post-Uncle Acid riffing of “Release,” and the more ethereal, organ-laced psych of “House of Our Enemy,” offers its own take in a clearheaded and efficient five minutes, getting in, leaving its mark and getting out to make room for the next piece in this initial sampling. Potential abounds from vocalist/organist Lady Helena, bassist Lee Allen, guitarist Levi Mendes and drummer H.W. Applewhite, and the core question is how they might tie these elements together across a first full-length. It should be noted they sound more than ready to embark on that project and provide an answer.

Son of the Morning on Thee Facebooks

Son of the Morning on Bandcamp

 

Jesus the Snake, Jesus the Snake EP

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A 31-minute debut EP clearly meant to be heard in its entirety, Jesus the Snake’s self-titled treads some familiar ground in progressive heavy psychedelic instrumentalism throughout its four tracks – “Floyds I,” “Floyds II,” “Karma” and “Moment” – but with an inherent sense of mood and reach not unlike earliest My Sleeping Karma, its tonal warmth and emergent weight of groove find welcome all the same. Particularly for being the Portuguese outfit’s first public unveiling, the interplay of Joka Alves’ keys and Jorge Lopes’ guitar is immediately fluid, and as the bass of Rui Silva provides foundation to let drummer João Costa explore jazzy snare textures and stylistic nuance. It’s a beginning, and it sounds like a beginning, but Jesus the Snake also offers a richness and patience that many bands simply don’t have their first time out, and for that and the classic stoner fuzz of “Moment” alone, it’s easily worth the time and effort of thorough investigation.

Jesus the Snake on Thee Facebooks

Jesus the Snake on Bandcamp

 

BerT, The Lost Toes

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Officially defunct for some time now, Michigan’s BerT compile tracks from throughout their prolific and bizarre run in The Lost Toes (Madlantis Records), proffering a timeline of their post-Melvins avant weirdness that starts with their very first song, “Stuff,” and makes its way through various demos, lost tracks, noise experiments, etc., to the 11-minute drone-out “Return” at the finish line. The digital version on Bandcamp offers an origin story with each track – the 90-second noise rock blast “Human Bone Xylophone” was cut from 2012’s Return to the Electric Church for time concerns, and the subsequent “Commercial Break” (which, yes, is a commercial break) was a class project – but whether you engage the narrative or not, the enduring vibe remains strange and charming in its garage-fuckall, could-and-just-might-go-anywhere-at-any-moment kind of way. BerT were always good fun, and The Lost Toes serves as reminder of the personality they had together that was so very much their own.

BerT on Thee Facebooks

The Lost Toes at Madlantis Records website

 

Galactic Gulag, To the Stars by Hard Ways

galactic gulag to the stars by hard ways

Brazilian instrumental troupe Galactic Gulag traffic in cosmic heft across the five pieces that comprise their first full-length, To the Stars by Hard Ways, but there’s ultimately little about the album that seems to be the hard way. If anything, it’s easy: Easy to groove on, easy to let it unfold over you in a spacious psychedelic drift, easy to nod along as the bassline of “Escape from Planet Gulag” picks up from 12-minute opener “Home.” Easy even to get lost in the sax-laden swirl-bounce off-kilterism of “The Hollow Moon.” So yeah, guitarists Breno Xavier and Pablo Dias, bassist Gabriel Dunke and drummer César Silva might be overselling a sense of difficulty, but as “Space Time Singularity” rolls into the shreddy-style fuzz of 15-minute closer “Eta Orionis,” there are clearly more important issues at hand. Like space. And riffs. And tone. And everything else that’s working so well for the Natal-based foursome on this jam-laden debut.

Galactic Gulag on Thee Facebooks

Galactic Gulag on Bandcamp

 

Band of Spice, Shadows Remain

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Former Spiritual Beggars and The Mushroom River Band vocalist Christian “Spice” Sjöstrand has been fronting the namesake act Band of Spice – formerly Spice and the RJ Band — for over a decade now, and Shadows Remain (Scarlet Records) follows 2015’s Economic Dancers (review here) as their fifth overall full-length. After the suitably-drunk-sounding vocals-only intro “Only One Drink,” the album rides the line between classically metallic tones and heavy rock riffing, a cut like “Don’t Bring Me Flowers” having little time in its 2:46 for brooking nonsense of any sort while later pieces like “Apartment 8” and “The Savior and the Clown” find time for more brooding and sentimental fare, and the penultimate “Take Me Home” and closer “Apartment 8 (Part II)” offer acoustic-strummed departure, so while the 51-minute runtime gives the 13-tracker something of a CD-era throwback feel and the songwriting the resolute in its straightforwardness, neither is Shadows Remain completely single-minded in its approach. A touch of grunge-funk in “Sheaf” goes a long way as well in lightening the mood, making the whole presentation all the more pro-shop, as it should be.

Band of Spice on Thee Facebooks

Scarlet Records on Bandcamp

 

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Jesus the Snake Self-Titled EP Due this Month

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 1st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

jesus the snake

I don’t know precisely when, but at some point before this month is over, Portuguese heavy psychedelic rockers Jesus the Snake will release their self-titled debut EP, and as you can hear in the pair of eight-minute cuts they have streaming from the borderline full-length, the focus is on pervasive tonal warmth amid an atmosphere of depth and exploration. It’s an organic vibe throughout “Floyds I and “Karma” alike, and one can hear shades of fellow Iberians Arenna as well of course as bands like Colour Haze, Causa Sui, and so on, which especially on a first release seems like an excellent place to start.

Seems like one to look out for at some point for a future vinyl release, if nothing else. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if some Euro imprint caught wind of what Jesus the Snake were getting up to and decided to get behind a pressing — they make a compelling argument for doing so at least upon a leadoff impression.

Recorded live, you can hear both songs below, under the info for the EP. Here goes:

jesus the snake jesus the snake

Jesus The Snake is a psychedelic rock band from Portugal consisting on Jorge Lopes (guitar), João Alves (Keyboard), Rui Silva (bass) and João Costa (drums). The band was founded in 2016 and their first album self titled “Jesus The Snake”, recorded on HertzControl Studio, will be released in November 2017.

“Jesus The Snake” was recorded in Live Session by the producer Marco Lima from HertzControl Studio.

This summer Jesus The Snake played in some festivals as Sonicblast Moledo and Festival Ecos do Lima and some local clubs in the north of Portugal.

Tracklisting:
1 – Floyds I (08:15)
2 – Floyds II (08:53)
3 – Karma (08:10)
4 – Moment [short version] (05:47)

Jesus the Snake is:
João Costa // DRUMS
Jorge Lopes // GUITAR
Rui Silva // BASS
Joka Alves // KEYBOARD

www.facebook.com/jesusthesnakeband
jesusthesnake.bandcamp.com
soundcloud.com/jesus-the-snake
www.instagram.com/jesusthesnakeband

Jesus the Snake, “Karma”

Jesus the Snake, “Floyds I”

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