SonicBlast Moledo 2019: Orange Goblin, Om, My Sleeping Karma, Minami Deutsch, Windhand, Zig Zags, Dopethrone and The Obsessed to Play

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 19th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

I was this close — this frickin’ close — to going to SonicBlast Moledo earlier this year. It was an enviable lineup, and when I saw the pictures after the fact, it only confirmed for me how much I wanted to have been there. So it goes.

Will I get that close to SonicBlast Moledo 2019? Probably not. Opportunities like that don’t come along every day or every year, and I know that. Still, in part because I’m a glutton for punishment — also for peanut butter — I’ll be doing my best to keep up with the lineup as it’s announced for next August’s edition of the beachside fest in Moledo, Portugal. Already, as I think you can see, they’re well on their way to destroying and winning hearts and minds.

To wit, a first lineup announcement that brings Om to Europe for the summer (they’ll be there in Spring too; I have to wonder just how long the band is spending abroad or if they’re racking up frequent flier miles), Orange Goblin, My Sleeping Karma (some day I will see that fucking band), Windhand, The Obsessed, Minami Deutsch, Zig Zags and Dopethrone is as righteous as it is varied, and it sets a pretty wide open sphere for what the rest might bring. I don’t have an inside track on that or anything, but 2018’s SonicBlast was certainly awesome looking and I see no reason why 2019 would be any different.

Tickets are available and I’m sure it’ll sell out. Words from the fest:

sonicblast moledo 2019

First bands for SonicBlast Moledo 2019! Let’s start the pilgrimage.

We’re so stoked to announce the first bands for SonicBlast Moledo 2019! Aug. 8-10.

Let’s start the pilgrimage.

OM, Windhand, Orange Goblin, MY SLEEPING KARMA, The Obsessed, Dopethrone, Minami Deutsch and Zig Zags are ready to burn the beach!
3 days that you’re never ever forget!

Om (usa) + Orange Goblin (uk) + My Sleeping Karma (ger) + Windhand (usa) + The Obsessed (usa) + Dopethrone (can) + Minami Deutsch (jp) + Zig Zags (usa) +++ many more tba +++

Artwork by Branca Studio

Tickets are now available at here.
(Also available in Portugal, through BOL physical point of sales: Fnac, Worten, Ctt’s…)

https://www.facebook.com/sonicblastmoledo/
https://sonicblastmoledo.com/

Orange Goblin, “The Wolf Bites Back” live at StoneFree Festival

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Quarterly Review: Sumac, Cortez & Wasted Theory, Thunder Horse, The Howling Eye, Grime, URSA, Earthling Society, Bismarck, Grand Reunion, Pledge

Posted in Reviews on December 7th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

As we land on what would otherwise be the end of a Quarterly Review — day 5, hitting the standard 50 records across the span of a week that this time we’re doubling with another 50 next week — it occurs to me not how much 100 albums is, but how much it isn’t. I mean, it’s a lot, don’t get me wrong. I’ve been sitting and writing about 10 records every day this week. I know how much that is. But it’s astounding to me just how much more there is. With the emails I get from people looking for reviews, discs sent in the mail, the messages on Facebook and everything else, I could do another 100, easy.

Well, maybe not ‘easy,’ but it would be full.

Is it a new golden age of heavy? 45 years from now are rockers going to look back and say, “Hell yeah, from like 2012-2019 was where it’s at,” all wistful like they do now for the ’70s? Will the Heavy ’10s be a retro style? I don’t know. But if it was going to happen, there would certainly be enough of an archive to fuel it. I do my best to cover as much as I can, but sometimes I feel like we barely crack the surface. With 100 records.

That said, time’s a-wasting.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Sumac, Love in Shadow

sumac love in shadow

What are Sumac if not the most vital and highest profile atmospheric metal act out there today? With Aaron Turner (Isis, etc.) on guitar/vocals, Brian Cook (Russian Circles) on bass and Nick Yacyshyn (Baptists) on drums, they qualify easily as a supergroup, and yet their third album, Love in Shadow (on Thrill Jockey), is still more about creative growth and the exploration of sound than anything else. Certainly more than ego — and if it was a self-indulgent exercise, it’d probably still be pretty good, frankly. As it stands, the four massive tracks through which Sumac follow-up 2016’s What One Becomes (review here) and their 2015 debut, The Deal (review here), refine the sound Sumac has developed over the past three years-plus into a sprawling and passion-driven sprawl that’s encompassing in scope, challenging in its noise quotient, and in utter refusal to not progress in its approach. And when Sumac move forward, as they do here, they seem to bring the entire aesthetic with them.

Sumac on Thee Facebooks

Thrill Jockey Records on Bandcamp

 

Cortez & Wasted Theory, The Second Coming of Heavy: Chapter Nine

cortez wasted theory second coming of heavy ch 9

Ripple Music‘s split series The Second Coming of Heavy hits its ninth chapter in bringing together Boston’s Cortez and Delaware’s Wasted Theory, and neither band fails to live up to the occasion. Cortez‘s range only seems to grow each time they hit the studio — vocalist Matt Harrington makes easy highlights of the opener and longest track (immediate points) “The Firmament” and the echo-laden “Close” — and Wasted Theory‘s “Ditchpig,” “Abominatrix,” “Baptized in Gasoline” and “Heresy Dealer” are so saturated with whiskey it might as well be coming out of their pores. It’s a decidedly North/South release, with Cortez rolling straightforward New England heavy rock through “Fog of Whores” and the Deep Purple cover “Stormbringer” while Wasted Theory dig with all good speed into a grit that’s more and more become their own with time, but there’s a shared penchant for hooks and groove between the two acts that draws them together, and whatever aspects they may or may not share are ultimately trumped by that. As Ripple starts to wind down the series, they continue to highlight some of the finest in heavy that the underground has to offer. One would expect no less.

Cortez on Thee Facebooks

Wasted Theory on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

 

Thunder Horse, Thunder Horse

thunder horse thunder horse

There’s an unmistakable sense of presence throughout Thunder Horse‘s six-song/43-minute self-titled debut that undercuts the notion of it as being the San Antonio four-piece’s first album. With professionalism and a firm sense of what they want to be as a band, the Texans liberally sprinkle samples throughout their material and hone a professional sound built around massive riffs and even-more-massive lumbering grooves. Indeed, they’re not strangers to each other, as three-fourths of the group — guitarist/vocalists Stephen Bishop, guitarist/sampler T.C. Connally and drummer Jason West — double in the more industrial-minded Pitbull Daycare, whose debut LP came out in 1997. Completed by bassist/vocalist Dave Crow, Thunder Horse successfully cross the genre threshold and are well comfortable in longer cuts like “Liber ad Christ Milites Templi” and “This is the End,” both of which top nine minutes, and shorter pieces like the rocking “Demons Speak” and the shimmering finale “Pray for Rain.” With “Coming Home” and the sneering “Blood Ritual” at the outset, Thunder Horse pulls listener quickly toward dark atmospheres and flourishes amid the weighted tones therein.

Thunder Horse on Thee Facebooks

Thunder Horse on Bandcamp

 

The Howling Eye, Sonorous

the howling eye sonorous

Poland’s The Howling Eye make a lengthy long-player debut with Sonorous, but more important than the reach of their runtimes — closer “Weedblazer” tops 16 minutes, the earlier “Reflections” hits 12, etc. — the reach of the actual material. The common pattern has been that psychedelic jamming and doom are two distinct things, but The Howling Eye tap into a cosmic interpretation of rolling riffs and push it with an open spirit far into the ether of spontaneous creation. It’s a blend that a group would seem to need to be cautious to wield, lest the whole notion fall flat, but with the assurance of marked chemistry behind them, the Bydgoszcz-based trio of drummer/sometimes vocalist Hubert “Cebula” Lewandowski (also harmonica where applicable), guitarist Jan Chojnowski and bassist Mi?osz Wojciechowski boldly shift from the more structured beginnings of the funky “Kairos” and the aggro beginning “Stranded” into an outward push that’s ambient, psychedelic and naturalistic all at once, with room left over for more funk and even some rockabilly on “The Potion.” It is not a minor conglomeration, but it works.

The Howling Eye on Thee Facebooks

The Howling Eye on Bandcamp

 

Grime, What Have We Become

grime what have we become

Their roots in metal, North Dakota trio Grime — not to be confused with the Italian sludge outfit of the same name — unleash their first full-length in the form of What Have We Become, an ambitious 51-minute offering of progressive heavy rock marked by thoughtful lyrics and fluid songwriting made all the more so by the shared vocals of bassist Andrew Wickenheiser and guitarist Nick Jensen, who together with drummer Tim Gray (who would seem to have been replaced by Cale Mogard) effect a classic feel through “Alone in the Dark” while chugging and winding through the not-a-cover “Hand of Doom” with some harsher vocals peppered in for good measure. Seven-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Through the Eye” sets a broad tone that the rest of the record seems to build on, with the penultimate “Sunshine” delivering the title line ahead of the grittier closer “The Constant Grind,” which seems to payoff everything before it with a final explosion before a big rock finish. They’ll need to decide whether their sound will ultimately tighten up or loosen over time, but for now, what they’ve become is a band with a solid foundation to grow from.

Grime on Thee Facebooks

Grime on Bandcamp

 

URSA, Abyss Between the Stars

ursa abyss between the stars

Modern doom meets a swath of metallic influences on URSA‘s full-length debut, Abyss Between the Stars (on Blood Music), as members of Petaluma, California’s Cormorant take on such classic themes as wizards, dragons, yetis, witches, a spider king, mountains, and… actually, yeah, that covers the six included tracks on the 46-minute LP, which shifts gracefully between epic fantasy doom and darker, soemtimes more extreme fare. It’s easy enough to put URSA in the narrative of a band started — circa 2016 — around a central idea, rather than just dudes picking up instruments and seeing what happened next. Not just because bassist/vocalist Matt Solis, guitarist/keyboardist Nick Cohon and drummer Brennan Kunkel were already three-quarters of another band, but because of the purposefulness with which they approach their subject matter and the cohesion in all facets of their approach. They may be exploring new ground here, but they’re doing so on sure footing, and that comes not only from their experience playing together, but from knowing exactly where they want to be in terms of sound. I would not be surprised if that sound adopted more post-Candlemass grandeur with time — one can hear that burgeoning in “Serengeti Yeti” — but whatever direction they want to go, their debut will only help them on that path.

URSA on Thee Facebooks

Blood Music website

 

Earthling Society, MO – The Demon

earthling society mo the demon

Look, if you can’t get down with a bunch of freaks like Earthling Society tapping into the lysergic fabric of the cosmos to come up with an unsolicited soundtrack to a Hong Kong martial arts movie, I just don’t know what to tell you. Issued by Riot Season, the seven-track MO – The Demon is reportedly the end of the band’s technicolor daydream, and as they crash their plane into the side of “Mountains of Bliss” and hone space rock obliteration throughout “Super Holy Monk Defeats the Black Magic Mothafucker,” their particular experimentalist charm and go-anywhere-anytime sensibility demonstrates plainly exactly why it will be missed. There’s a sharp high-pitched tone at the start of opener “Theme from MO – The Demon” that’s actually pretty abrasive, but by the time they’re through the kosmiche laser assault in “Spring Snow” and the let’s-be-flower-children-until-it’s-time-to-freak-the-fuck-out throb of closer “Jetina Grove,” that is but a distant memory. So is consciousness. Fare thee well, Earthling Society. You were a band who only sought to make sense to yourselves, and for that, were all the more commendable.

Earthling Society on Thee Facebooks

Riot Season Records on Bandcamp

 

Bismarck, Urkraft

bismarck urkraft

Norwegian five-piece Bismarck bring spaciousness to doom riffing on their debut album, Urkraft, which is constructed of five molten tracks for a 34-minute totality that seems much broader than the time it takes to listen. Vocals are growls and shouts across a cosmic stretch of tone, giving a somewhat aggressive pulse to heavier psychedelic soundscaping, but a bouncing rhythm behind “A Golden Throne” assures the song is accessible one way or the other. The 10-minute “Vril-Ya” is naturally where they range the farthest, but the Bergen outfit even there seem to be playing by a set of aesthetic principles that includes maintaining a grounded groove no matter how spaced they might otherwise get. Rolling riffs bookend in opener “Harbinger” and closer “The Usher,” as “A Golden Throne,” playing-to-both-sides centerpiece “Iron Kingdom” and the subsequent “Vril-Ya” explore atmospheres that remain resonant despite the low end weight that seems to chug out beneath them. The mix by Chris Fielding at Skyhammer (who also co-engineered) doesn’t hurt in crafting their largesse, but something tells me Urkraft was going to sound big no matter what.

Bismarck on Thee Facebooks

Apollon Records website

 

Grand Reunion, In the Station

grand reunion in the station

In the Station doesn’t seem like anything too fancy at first. It’s produced cleanly, but not in any kind of overblown fashion, and Grand Reunion‘s songwriting is so solid that, especially the first time through their eight-track debut LP, it’s easy to say, “Okay, that’s another cool hook,” and not notice subtleties like when the organs turn to keyboard synth between opener “Eres Tan Serpiente” and second cut “Gordon Shumway,” or to miss the Latin percussion that Javier Tapia adds to Manuel Yañez‘s drumming, or the ways that guitarist Christian Spencer, keyboardist Pablo Saveedra, bassist Mario Rodríguez and Tapia work to complement guitarist Cristóbal Pacheco on vocals. But all of that is happening, and as they make their way toward and through the eight-minute fuzzer “Band Band the Headbang,” through the soaring “Weedow” and into the acoustic-led closer “It’s Alright,” the character and maturity in Grand Reunion‘s songwriting shows itself more and more, inviting multiple listens in the most natural fashion possible: by making you want to hear it again.

Grand Reunion on Thee Facebooks

Grand Reunion on Bandcamp

 

Pledge, Resilience

pledge resilience

16 minutes of scathing post-hardcore/sludge from Portuguese four-piece Pledge, who are in and out of their Resilience EP with a clean break and a windmill kick to the face. The newcomers lack nothing for ferocity, and with the throat-searing screams of Sofia M.L. out in front of the mix, violent intentions are unmistakable. “Profer Lumen Caecis,” “The Great Inbetweeness,” “Doom and Redemption” and “The Peter, the Wolf” nonetheless have groove built on varying degrees of extremity and angularity, with Vítor Vaz‘s bass maintaining a steady presence alongside the guitar of Hugo Martins and Filipe Romariz‘s drumming, frenetic as it sometimes is. I wouldn’t say things calm down in “The Peter, the Wolf” so much as the boiling seems to take place beneath the surface, waiting for a time to burst out, which it eventually does, but either way, for all its harsher aspects, Pledge‘s material isn’t at all void of engagement. It does, however, state the requirement right there on the front cover.

Pledge on Thee Facebooks

Pledge on Bandcamp

 

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Review & Full Album Premiere: Øresund Space Collective, Live in Berlin 2018

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on September 10th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

oresund space collective live in berlin

[Click play above to stream Øresund Space Collective’s Live in Berlin 2018. Album is out Sept. 12 on Space Rock Productions.]

Even as multinational purveyors of the interstellar Øresund Space Collective were celebrating the release of their latest studio album, May 2018’s Chatoyant Breath, they were already planning their next move. So it goes in the cosmic long game for an act that has nearly 30 offerings of one sort or another in the 12 years, building a catalog as expansive as their sound itself and giving no indication of a slowdown in productivity. Touring to mark the arrival of Chatoyant Breath, they performed June 2 at the Sneaky Snake Festival in Berlin, Germany, rounding out a run of nine dates in nine days and featuring the work of Vemund Engin of Black Moon Circle on guitar alongside the cast headed by synthesist Scott “Dr. Space” Heller, who before the show starts asks the crowd if they’re ready for a space trip. It would seem they are.

Øresund Space Collective from that beginning point unfurl five extended and completely improvised jams, opening with the 29-minute longest track (immediate points) “Improv to the Other Side,” which seems to have gotten there by the time Engin is dug into his solo in the later minutes. Whatever else Øresund Space Collective might be, they’re a vibe band. The version of space rock they play can be uptempo and full of thrust or it can be languid and dream-toned — or it can be both, if they want it to be — but their always-off-the-cuff jams work in intricate layers to create a style that’s immersive in the extreme and meant to be taken as an entirety in its entirety. That is, one can sit and pick apart elements like Jonathan‘s violin (he also plays guitar and theremin) that shows up in the opener and reappears in the subsequent “Sneaky Snake Jam” (the shortest inclusion at 16:03), but in his stage banter, even Heller seems to be advising the audience relax the brain and absorb the jams through the skin, and I’ve found as well that’s the best way to enjoy their work.

I count myself a fan of that work, I should note, and I consider it more or less a favor I’m doing myself whenever I get to review one of their outings. Live in Berlin 2018 is special not only for the lead guitar work of Engin or the aforementioned violin, but also for the manner in which the band so fluidly build their groove on “Sneaky Snake Jam,” or the push that emerges in the first half of the 27-minute “Henk’s Jam-O-Rama,” punctuated by Tim‘s drumming as Mogens and Dr. Space swirl out synth leads and the latter takes a second to check in with the crowd: “How y’all feeling? Great energy in the room.” Easy enough to believe. With Jiri on bass rounding out a six-piece lineup, Heller seems to particularly relish a bandleader role here. There are no vocals, or at least none discernible, as they’ve never really been a part of Øresund Space Collective‘s let’s-jam-our-way-to-the-heart-of-the-sun mission, but Heller introduces the band more than once and seems to be at the center of the proceedings.

oresund space collective (photo by Sabine Pottien)

Fair enough for his having founded the group and all that, and the human presence hardly could take away from the uptempo keyboard jazz in the middle of “Henk’s Jam-O-Rama” or the gloriously mellow funk that takes hold after the quiet opening of “Freaks of Berlin” (18:40), with a highlight performance by Tim on drums and another righteous classic-style solo from Engin on guitar. They take off in that jam, seem to burst forward, recede almost to the point of drone where it seems like maybe they’ve lost the direction, then make a bunch of noise until they get themselves sorted again and soon enough, they’re back in a quick-paced swing, capping quiet with a crash of drums in time for Heller to introduce Simon from Black Moon Circle to take over on drums for the finale “Another Jam for Sabine” while Tim moves to hand-percussion for the 17-minute finish.

And before they start, Heller states the intention of getting kind of an Afrobeat-space sound, but the end product of “Another Jam for Sabine” turns out to be more minor-key in the guitar, lending an almost Middle Eastern sensibility to its sound. While the guitar work remains impressive as it has been all along, a wash of synth early, backed by violin and meeting head-on with said guitar, makes “Another Jam for Sabine” a high point on multiple levels. Only fair they should reach maximum altitude as they get ready to end the set, but Øresund Space Collective have been around long enough at this point, whoever happens to be in the band at any given point, that they know what they want in terms of conjured atmospheres, and they sound confident here in bringing that to life, even if what they want is to jam.

Heller records most if not all of their live shows, and in addition to their 29 proper releases they have a massive digital archive of sets that can be downloaded — each one, of course, is different, with its own improvisations and its own direction depending on the night, but it’s hard to argue with the impulse for Live in Berlin 2018 to have been given a multi-track recording, a real mixdown and a physical pressing. Their energy playing Berlin for the first time and doing so while also wrapping up a five-country tour is palpable throughout and it sounds like band and audience alike were having a total blast. As prone as they can be to drift, it’s an active, engaging spirit that oozes from these explorations, and in their character and their sheer execution of a creative will, they only further the proposition that Øresund Space Collective are an institution in space rock. As Heller says when “Another Jam for Sabine” begins to wind down, “We’ll meet you in another universe some other time.” I believe it, and it probably won’t be all that long till it happens, either.

Øresund Space Collective on The Facebooks

Øresund Space Collective on Bandcamp

Øresund Space Collective website

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Review & Video Premiere: The Crazy Left Experience, Death, Destruction & Magic

Posted in Bootleg Theater, Reviews on August 6th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

the crazy left experience death destruction and magic

[Click play above to view the premiere of The Crazy Left Experience’s ‘Magic’ video, with footage from Georges Méliès’ 1902 film, Le Voyage dans la Lune. The Crazy Left Experience’s Death, Destruction and Magic is out now on Adamsonia Records.]

Instrumental trio The Crazy Left Experience have been jamming for roughly five years. Their first three outings are ‘sessions’ releases — 2014’s The Big Bang Sessions (In The Beginning), 2015’s Garage Sessions and early 2016’s Uranus Sessions — but from that point on, the Lisbon-based outfit began to dip into psychedelic conceptualism, working their exploratory approach around a central theme, story or idea. This led to a burst of creativity in 2016 with three more albums: Welcome to the AI, Maya’s Magic Pill and Bill’s 108th Space Odyssey (review here), as drummer/guitarist Rui Inácio, guitarist/noisemaker Luís Abrantes and bassist/flutist Tiago Machado delved into the tale of early US governmental lysergic experiments.

Trippy adventures followed, and the band’s new record, Death, Destruction and Magic — pressed to vinyl through Germany’s Adansonia Records — would seem to keep up the theme. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it is comprised of three tracks — titled “Death,” “Destruction” and “Magic” — with a digital bonus cut in “AND (A Song for Rosa),” and like much of the band’s work, it is centered around the conversation happening between the instruments. There is no shortage of drift in “Magic” and “Destruction” has low end worthy of its name, while “Death” seems to howl more in celebration than mourning, but what unites the three distinct pieces is an overarching naturalism that makes all the material as real as it is ethereal.

One aspect of their sound The Crazy Left Experience bring to bear in especially vivid fashion is minimalism. They’d hardly be the first outfit with ebbs and flows in heavy psych jams, but in the second half of “Death” and in the ultra-subdued stretch of “Magic,” where watery effects-laden guitar ascends and descends over steady drum patterning, the space purposefully left open is crucial as well as the space being filled with sound. They come together and in kind with the fluid movement between more and less active parts, help form the dynamic with which The Crazy Left Experience execute their material. The album was, true to form, recorded live, and while there may be parts of it that are inherently off-the-cuff, caught-on-tape-type of happenings, there does seem to be an overarching plot.

Even in the meandering spaciousness of “AND (A Song for Rosa),” one finds a plot being followed or at least some sense of linear direction, rather than a jam simply unfolding as it will. That’s not to say that song or any of the other three before it — which run eight, 15 and nine minutes, respectively, for a total of 32; utterly manageable — sound forced. Far from it. Just that at the very least, someone among Inácio, Abrantes and Machado came into the recording process with some idea of where they wanted the songs to go. That’s more the case here than it was their last time out, but whether it’s indicative of some larger shift in approach and as to the consciousness of that, I wouldn’t speculate. Organic as it is, their sound only benefits from the sense of purpose it’s give here.

For some in the style, their mission is to present the very heart of the creative process — to capture the moment when the spark of songcraft begins. That singular “aha!” moment when it all clicks together. It’s a difficult thing to do and an admirable goal, but it doesn’t seem to be what The Crazy Left Experience are about. Their output on Death, Destruction and Magic is thrilling in the mellow vibe that persists even in “Destruction”‘s actively grooving midsection thanks to the brightness of its tonality and the patience of its execution, and it’s more about telling its story than getting lost in its own making.

the crazy left experience

That is, The Crazy Left Experience use the foundation they have in exploratory psych in order to convey a message or idea in their material. They direct the evocation their songs are making, even just with one-word titles. What does “Death” say about death? How does “magic” feel like magic, and what does magic feel like? As “Destruction” passes its 10th minute, it delves into a melodic drone that builds in the guitar but ultimately holds sway as the drums never return. Are we in the midst of an aftermath there? Was it war? You get the idea. The point is that Death, Destruction and Magic allows its audience to fill in the answers as they will, and to make their own judgment about what they think the band is telling them.

This level of atmospheric engagement is rare, and the guide the band grant on their Bandcamp page for it reads like something out of Dungeons and Dragons:

You’ve just escaped from the lava tunnel.
A pack of razor-clawed creatures are trying
to get you before the lizard men do.
These are moves you’ve never seen before.
A fire-breathing dragon carries you toward the castle.

The choice is simple…

Maybe that’s the thing — it’s all a game. If so, that does nothing to invalidate the expression happening in these passages, nor the obvious heart poured into their making. The Crazy Left Experience have their share of nebulous elements at play, whether it’s the rolling end section of “Magic” or the airy fuzz tone in “Death,” but what brings the band together is still the solid underlying connection they have between each other while playing. The live performance. It’s the reason they’re able to tell the stories they’re telling with their sound, and the reason they see so continually to be able and willing to push themselves forward.

Death, Destruction and Magic isn’t shy in tackling “big ideas,” but the language it uses seems built exclusively for that purpose, and the outward trajectory of the record as a whole should resonate with any and all of mind open enough to let it. They’ve worked quickly to get to their seventh full-length, but The Crazy Left Experience come across like veterans just the same when it comes to the chemistry and confidence with which they ply their liquefied wares.

The Crazy Left Experience, Death, Destruction and Magic

The Crazy Left Experience on Thee Facebooks

The Crazy Left Experience on Instagram

The Crazy Left Experience on Bandcamp

Adansonia Records on Thee Facebooks

Adansonia Records website

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Saturnia Post “Gemini” Video from The Seance Tapes

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 26th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

saturnia

Somebody had the right idea. I’m gonna guess it was Luís Simões. When Portuguese heavy psych rockers Saturnia hit Colour Haze Studio — yes, run by the band of the same name — to record their latest album, The Seance Tapes (review here), they brought a video camera along to capture the process. This was the right idea because the band was recording live for the first time, and where it’s traditionally been Simões working on his own in multi-instrumentalist fashion handling guitar, sitar, bass, vocals, etc., this time he not only had drummer André Silva with him, but also key specialist Nuno Oliveira on organ, synth, electric piano and whatnot, tracking live as a three-piece.

This wouldn’t necessarily be a minor change if it was Saturnia‘s second record or even their third, but it’s their seventh. They’ve worked pretty much with Simões and various other contributors all along, and for the first time it’s a full band functioning as a live act. I guess Simões figured that if he was going to continue to push into new ground as the band had a six-album track record of doing, this was the way to go. It worked. The Seance Tapes is a collection of songs that featured on past Saturnia full-lengths, and even so, one can hear the new life breathed into the material as they go. It flows much as a live set would because basically it is a live set, played and then given further flourish later on atop the basic tracks laid down to analog tape.

I wouldn’t speculate as to whether Saturnia will continue in this manner or go back to the way things have always been, but either way, The Seance Tapes captures a special moment in their history, and as such, it’s all the more fitting that it’s caught on video and preserved in more than just the album itself. A video for “Mindrama” from 2007’s Muzak has already surfaced, but you can see the band in the studio below for “Gemini” from their 1999 self-titled debut. I don’t expect it will be the last clip that makes its way to the public.

The Seance Tapes is out now on Elektrohasch Schallplatten.

Please enjoy:

Saturnia, “Gemini” official video

New video from The Seance Tapes – Gemini.

Recorded at Colour Haze Studio, Reichertshausen.

Saturnia on Thee Facebooks

Saturnia website

Elektrohasch Schallplatten website

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SonicBlast Moledo 2018: Electric Octopus, The Wizards, Astrodome, Talea Jacta and Desert’Smoke Added; Lineup Complete

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 24th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

sonicblast moledo 2018 banner

Two unfuckwithable days await the fortunate souls attending SonicBlast Moledo 2018. For a minute there I thought I’d be able to count myself among their number, but alas, it doesn’t seem to have come together. So it goes. I can ogle from afar just the same as the schedule is revealed amid the final confirmations for the lineup, which include primo jammers Electric Octopus as well as The Wizards, Astrodome, Talea Jacta and Desert’Smoke. These join stellar lineups on the main stage and pool stage at the venue in Moledo, Portugal, which is close enough to the coast that the pre-fest party will be held on the beach. This one would’ve been worth an overnight layover in the Azores easily. Alas. Maybe in 2019.

The final announcement and full schedule for the fest follows here, courtesy of the PR wire:

sonicblast moledo 2018 runtimes

The eighth edition of SonicBlast Moledo, with the dates settled for August 10th and 11th , closes the 2018 lineup with the confirmations of Electric Octopus, The Wizards, Astrodome, Talea Jacta and Desert’Smoke! They will be joining the previously confirmed acts Earthless, Kadavar, Causa Sui, Nebula, Samsara Blues Experiment, Mantar, The Atomic Bitchwax, 1000mods, Conan, Ufomammut, Naxatras, Purple Hill Witch, The Black Wizards, Atavismo, Ruff Majik, Solar Corona and Greengo!

The warm-up sessions are also back, happening on August 9th at Moledo’s beach, to celebrate the beginning of another SonicBlast edition. The warm-up sessions lineup will be announced very soon.

The prolific Electric Octopus, ascending band in the art of improvisation, come from Northern Ireland to present their refined conjuction of sounds. With albums passing the four hours of running time, the huge instrumental voyages created by this trio, comprise a vast panoply of varied influences such as blues, psychedelic, jazz or even funk. We may await for a transcendental communion, moved by unique and hypnotic moments, where the free spontaneity is the law.

Hailing from the Basque Country, more concretely from Bilbao, The Wizards practice vintage Hard Rock, marked by flaming guitars, clear seventies influences and powerful occult vocals. Back in 2017, they released their latest album “Full Moon in Scorpio”, which lead them to new venues and consolidated the band as one of the most promising Spanish bands.

Three years after their double dose in Moledo, Astrodome return again, this time with a remodeled formation and a formidable new album, righteously entitled “II”. With their maturity clearly demonstrated in these compositions, the quartet embarks on the psychedelic fields of music, fearless of entering onto the fields of jazz or progressive, to make us singularly levitate in their musical journey.

Formed by guitarist Pedro Pestana (10,000 Russians, Tren Go! Sound System) and drummer João Pais Filipe (HHY & The Macumbas, Sektor 304, Magnetic Mountain, Paisel), Talea Jacta are a duo specialist in creating deep musical landscapes, using endless loops and mesmerizing tribal beats, which elevate the mind to another state in an unparalleled way.

Surprising everyone and everything with their debut work “Hidden Mirage”, the quartet Desert’Smoke shape their music in a purely instrumental way, which blends the harmony of the Heavy Psych dynamics with the heaviest moments of Stoner Rock. Indeed, the ideal junction of contemplative psychedelia with the power of Rock.

TICKETS
sonicblastmoledo.com/tickets
– From March 1st to June 30th – 48€
– From July 1st to July 31st – 55€
– As of August 1st – 60€

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Electric Octopus, Line Standing (2017)

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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.

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1000mods, Repeated Exposure To… (2016)

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