Quarterly Review: 11PARANOIAS, Robot Lords of Tokyo, The Riven, High Reeper, Brujas del Sol, Dead Witches, Automaton, Llord, Sweet Jonny, Warp

Posted in Reviews on March 20th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-spring-2019

Day three. Cruisin’. Oh, another 10 reviews to write? Yeah, no problem. I’m on it.

Okay, maybe a little less that and a little more be banging my head against the wall of sound, but the point is we — you and I — move forward anyhow. The Quarterly Review continues today with the third batch, which at the end will bring us to the halfway point, 30 of the total 60 records done, and that always feels like an occasion. Also helps that it’s a pretty good batch of stuff, so let’s not waste time with formalities, right?

Quarterly Review #21-30:

11PARANOIAS, Asterismal

11paranoias asterismal

It’s a freakout, but not the good kind. More like a panic attack happening in slow motion on another dimensional plane. The masters of murk, 11PARANOIAS return through their own Ritual Productions imprint with Asterismal, collecting/conjuring upwards of nine tracks and 73 minutes of material depending on in which format one encounters it. The core of the outing is the six-song/45-minute vinyl edition, and that’s plenty fucked enough, to be honest, as bassist/vocalist Adam Richardson (Ramesses), guitarist Mike Vest (Bong) and drummer Nathan Perrier (ex-Capricorns) unfurl a grim psychedelic fog across songs like opener “Loss Portal” and tap into The Heads-style swirl on “Bloodless Crush” only to turn it malevolent in the process. The 12-minute “Quantitative Immortalities” finds Vest in the forward position as it summarizes the stretch of doom, psych, and bizarre atmosphere that’s utterly 11PARANOIAS‘ own, and that’s before you get into the experimental and sometimes caustic work on the CD/digital-only “Acoustic Mirror” (10:35) and “Acoustic Mirror II” (15:08), which both rise from minimalist bass to become a willful test of endurance only a select few will pass. All the better.

11PARANOIAS on Thee Facebooks

Ritual Productions website

 

Robot Lords of Tokyo, Rise Robot Rise

Robot Lords of Tokyo Rise Robot Rise

Was there ever any doubt Robot Lords of Tokyo could do it on their own? Not if you ever listened to Robot Lords of Tokyo, there wasn’t. The Columbus, Ohio-based outfit built a reputation in the earlier part of the decade by bringing guests onto their records, but their new EP and first outing in half a decade, Rise Robot Rise, features five songs of just the band itself, with founders Rick Ritzler (drums) and Paul Jones (vocals) joined by bassist Joe Viers and guitarists Steve Theado and Beau VanBibber. Their last outing was the 2013 full-length Virtue and Vice (review here), but they seem in “In the Shadows” and “Looking for the Sun” to come into their own with Jones bringing a John Bush-type edge to the hook of “Looking for the Sun” and echoing out a bit on centerpiece “Hell Camino,” which boasts not the band’s first nod to Clutch. With opener “In the Shadows” setting the tone for an undercurrent of metal, “My Aching Eyes” and “Terminus” pay that off without losing their rock edge and thereby highlight just how much force has always been in the core lineup to start with.

Robot Lords of Tokyo on Thee Facebooks

Robot Lords of Tokyo at CDBaby

 

The Riven, The Riven

The Riven The Riven

Issued by The Sign Records, the self-titled debut from Sweden’s The Riven (also discussed here) hones in on classic heavy rock but never actually quite tips all the way into vintage-ism. It sounds like a minor distinction until you put the record on and hear the acoustic guitar lines deep in the mix of “Far Beyond” or the echoing vocal layers in the second half of the later “Fortune Teller” and realize that The Riven are outright refusing to sacrifice audio fidelity for aesthetic. There’s no shortage of shuffle to be had, rest assured, but The Riven are less concerned with aping traditionalism than updating it, and while they’re not the first to do so, the fact that on their first record they’re already working to put their stamp on the established genre parameters bodes well, as does the bluesy float of “I Remember” and the mellow vibing early in “Finnish Woods.”

The Riven on Thee Facebooks

The Sign Records on Bandcamp

 

High Reeper, Higher Reeper

high reeper higher reeper

Philadelphia exports High Reeper offer their second full-length through Heavy Psych Sounds in Higher Reeper, upping the stakes from their 2017 self-titled debut (review here) in more than just title. In the intervening two years, the five-piece have toured extensively, and it shows in the pacing and general craft of the eight songs/38 minutes here, from the perfectly-timed nod at the end of “Buried Alive” to the face-slap proto-trash riff that starts the subsequent “Bring the Dead,” from the mountaintop echoes of “Obsidian Peaks” (note the “Hole in the Sky” riff rearing its head) to the howling roll through “Plague Hag” and into six-minute closer “Barbarian,” as High Reeper hone elements of doom to go with their biker rock sleaze. Stellar guitar is a running theme beginning with opener “Eternal Leviathan,” and Higher Reeper quickly proves that if you thought the debut had potential, you were right.

High Reeper on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds website

 

Brujas del Sol, II

brujas del sol ii

if the 6:40 album opener “Teenage Hitchhiker” from Brujas del Sol‘s Kozmik Artifactz-delivered II makes anything plain, it’s that the songs that follow on the seven-track/43-minute outing are going to pay attention to texture. Still about half-instrumental, the Columbus, Ohio, four-piece veer from that modus with “Sisterlace,” the New Wave-y “Fringe of Senility,” the delightfully dream-toned “White Lights,” and the final Floydian section of closer “Spiritus,” adding vocals for the first time and leaving one wondering what took them so long. Nonetheless, the winding lines and later subtly furious drums of “Sea Rage” and the scorching leads of the penultimate “Polara” bring the proggy mindset of the band that much more forward, and if II is transitional, well, it was going to be anyway, because a band like this never stops growing or challenging themselves. They certainly do here, and the results are an accomplishment more than worth continuing to build upon.

Brujas del Sol on Thee Facebooks

Kozmik Artifactz website

 

Dead Witches, The Final Exorcism

dead witches the final exorcism

The centerpiece of Dead Witches‘ sophomore album, The Final Exorcism, is a play on ’60s psych-garage-folk that asks “When Do the Dead See the Sun?,” and the rest of the LP that surrounds provides the answer: The sun isn’t showing up anytime soon, for the dead or otherwise. After issuing their first full-length, Ouija (discussed here), in 2017, the multinational horror-cinema doomers brought aboard vocalist Soozi Chameleone alongside drummer Mark Greening (Ramesses, ex-Electric Wizard), bassist Carl Geary and guitarist Oliver Irongiant, and one might be tempted to think of The Final Exorcism as a kind of second debut were it not for the fact that it’s so cohesive in its approach. With Greening‘s swinging march at the foundation, cuts like the title-track and “The Church by the Sea” stomp out thick-toned and grainy organic creep, plundering through the cacophonous “Lay Demon” en route to the abyssal plod of “Fear the Priest” at the end, fearsome in purpose and realization and hopefully not at all “final.” Like any good horror franchise, there’s always room for another sequel.

Dead Witches on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds website

 

Automaton, TALOS

automaton talos

It was hard to know where Automaton were headed after they remixed their debut EP, Echoes of Mount Ida (review here), and released it in LP format with two additional tracks. The original version was raw and weighted, the remix spacious and psychedelic. With TALOS, their first proper long-player (on Sound Effect Records), they answer the question with seven songs/48 minutes of expansive and richly atmospheric post-metal, seeming to take from all sides and shift their focus between crushing with dense tones on 11-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Trapped in Darkness,” as well as the frantically drummed “Automaton Marching,” “The Punisher” or the end stage of “Talos Awakens” and honing more of a varied and atmospheric approach throughout the sample-laced “Giant of Steel,” the drifting “Submerged Again” and the minimalist acoustic-led closer “Epilogue,” all the while donning both an overarching concept and a new level of production value to bolster their presentation. It is a significant step forward on multiple fronts.

Automaton website

Sound Effect Records website

 

Llord, Cumbria

llord cumbria

Raging and experimental, the rumble-laden Barcelona duo Llord make their full-length debut on Féretro Records with Cumbria, which culls together five punishing-but-still-atmospheric tracks of plod and drive as bassist Aris and drummer David share vocal duties and bludgeoning responsibilities alike. Ill-intentioned from the get-go with the two-minute “Adtrita Sententia,” Cumbria unfurls its 29-minute run like a descent into low-end madness, varying speed and the amount of samples involved and bringing in some guest gralla on “Brega” and closer “Kendal/Crewe,” but finding itself in a consistent tonal mire all the same, shouts reverberating upward from it as through trying to claw their way up during the collapse of earth beneath their feet. It is brutal — an extreme vision of atmospheric sludge that makes the concept of a guitar riffing overtop seem like an indulgence that would only dull the impact of the proceedings as they are, which is formidable.

Llord on Bandcamp

Féretro Records on Bandcamp

 

Sweet Jonny, Sweet Jonny

sweet jonny sweet jonny

I can’t claim to be an expert on the ways of Britpunk classic or modern, but UK swagger-purveyors Sweet Jonny weave a heaping dose of snearing attitude into their self-titled, self-release debut album’s 12 tracks, and it comes set up next to a garage rock fuckall that isn’t necessarily contradicted by the actual tightness of the songwriting, given the context in which they’re working. “American Psycho,” well, that’s about American Psycho. “Sick in the Summer?” Well, guess that could be taken multiple ways, but somebody’s sick in any case. You see where this is going, but Sweet Jonny bring character and addled-punk charm to their storytelling lyrics and barebones arrangements of fucked-up guitar, bass and drums. I don’t know what the punkers are into these days, but the vibe here is rude in the classic sense and they bring a good time feel to “Superpunch” and “It Matters Not” — which stretches past the four-minute mark(!) — so what the hell? I’m up for something different.

Sweet Jonny on Thee Facebooks

Sweet Jonny website

 

Warp, Warp

warp warp

If the approval stamp of Nasoni Records isn’t enough to get you on board — and it should be, frankly — the Sabbathian lowercase-‘g’ ghost rock Warp proffer on their self-titled debut is bound to turn heads among the converted. The Tel Aviv-based outfit tear through eight tracks in a crisp, bitingly fuzzed 28 minutes, taking on classic boogie and doom alike before they’re even through opener “Wretched.” They get bonus points for calling their noise interlude “‘Confusion Will Be My Epitaph’ Will Be My Epitaph,’ as well as for the shuffle of “Gone Man” that precedes it and the stomp of “Intoxication” that comes after, the latter a rhythmic complement to the central progression of second cut “Into My Life,” which only departs that snare-snare-snare to soar for a dual-layered solo. Hard not to dig the space-punk edge of “Hey Little Rich Boy II” and the throttled-back stoner nod of closer “Enter the Void,” which is done in under five minutes and still finds room for the album’s best stop-and-crash. Fucking a.

Warp on Bandcamp

Nasoni Records webstore

 

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11PARANOIAS Announce Early 2019 Release for Asterismal

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 18th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Interesting to think of 11PARANOIAS‘ last couple records as part of a series, and even more interesting to think that the series is about to conclude with the issue of their latest album, Asterismal. Due early next year through Ritual Productions, the album was recorded across two sessions spanning last Fall and this past Spring, and though they haven’t yet unveiled the cover art, let alone any audio, they have a live clip they’re sharing of the new song “Loss Portal,” which will feature on the release, which is said to be more focused on the guitar and more focused overall. It’s easy to get lost in the overarching muck of 11PARANOIAS‘ sound, but there’s always nuance and ritualism to their assault, and one expects nothing less this time either. I’ll hope to have more to come on it as we get closer to the release.

The PR wire sent info on the album accordingly:

11paranoias (Photo by Al Overdrive)

11PARANOIAS ANNOUNCE NEW RITE, ASTERISMAL, INCOMING EARLY 2019 ON RITUAL PRODUCTIONS

Ritual Productions shall commence 2019 by re-opening the paranoid realms, courtesy of a new rite from the masters of psych-doom-noise experimentation, 11PARANOIAS.

Asterismal is undoubtedly the band’s most exciting yet challenging release to date, coalescing experimental noise elements with pure psychedelia and a devastating deluge of doom and drone. The rite channels unprecedented extra-terrestrial terrain for the band, opening thresholds of esoteric mysticism, immersive euphoria and alluring darkness, subsequently conjuring an overwhelmingly intense rapture for the subconscious and its dormant senses. More propulsive, potent and powerful than its predecessors, bassist/vocalist Adam Richardson explains:

“Asterismal is of the stars, our fifth album. In alchemical terms the sonic content is equal parts Albedo (Psych/Space), Nigredo (Total Doom), Rubido (Noise/Experimental) – never before have we so clearly delineated these genres on one record. This marks the final installment of a trilogy of albums (Stealing Fire From Heaven had lead drums, Reliquary For A Dreamed Of World had lead bass and Asterismal now hones in on the lead guitar). Our most focused release yet, this rite even saw some prior preparation and writing before taking it to the studio!”

Keen purveyors of 11PARANOIAS’ live rituals will recognise the opening track, ‘Loss Portal’, which has been included in the band’s 2018 setlists. Preview this track below, taken from the band’s spellbinding summer solstice ritual with Oranssi Pazuzu.

The artwork – soon to be revealed – comes courtesy of Toby Ziegler: “11PARANOIAS are thrilled to be working with Toby Ziegler after being friends for so long. We are proud to be continuing our forced and unsolicited art history lessons for all and any fans of the band!”, says Richardson. Those who have held onto their Multi-Dimensional Paranoid Vision (MPV) keys – which come with the band’s 2016 rite, Reliquary For A Dreamed Of World – shall be rewarded in the visual realm too…

Asterismal was recorded and mixed by Wayne Adams at Bear Bites Horse Studio, London in September 2017 and May 2018, respectively. Additional recording and mastering undertaken by Dan Miller and Adam Richardson at XL Recordings Studio, London during July 2018.

Asterismal will see release on LP, CD and digital download in early 2019. Further information, exclusive material and limited-edition packages shall be unveiled in the coming months.

In the meantime, 11PARANOIAS perform a ritual at Bristol’s ‘Dread Haze Weekender’ this Saturday 20th October @ Exchange.

11PARANOIAS IS:
Adam Richardson – bass/vocals
Mike Vest – guitar
Nathan Perrier – drums

11paranoias.bandcamp.com
www.facebook.com/11Paranoias
https://twitter.com/11PARANOIAS
www.ritualproductions.net
www.facebook.com/ritualproductionsuk
twitter.com/ritualmusic
ritualproductions.bandcamp.com
www.instagram.com/ritualproductions

11PARANOIAS, “Loss Portal” live in London

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Nibiru Sign to Ritual Productions; New Album in 2019

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 11th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Italian cult sludgers Nibiru released their gruesome Qaal Babalon (review here) album last year on Argonauta Records, and the news has come in that their next offering will be made, suitably enough, through Ritual Productions. They’re the second roster addition to Ritual in the last week or so behind Brazil’s Basalt (info here), and if the UK-based label is on a binge, they certainly know what they’re looking for in terms of bands who, indeed, bring a sense of ritual to their sound. That’s basically been Nibiru‘s thing all the more on each of their releases, and with a new one due sometime next year, I wouldn’t at all expect that to subside.

As to whether or not it’s a coincidence of concurrent pickups or Ritual Productions is actively building a roster and more announcements are to come, I don’t know and won’t speculate at this point. Two bands in a week is a lot. If there’s another in the next month or so, I’ll be ready to call it a boom. Keep an eye out.

Info from the PR wire:

nibiru

RITUAL PRODUCTIONS INITIATE NIBIRU INTO THEIR ROSTER; LIVE RITUALS INCOMING THIS WEEK

With immense pleasure Ritual Productions amplify its roster with the addition of grim psych alchemists Nibiru, with UK rituals imminent!

The Italian three-piece immerse listeners within their terrifically hypnotic realm of mind-altering heavy psychedelic sonics, where deep Enochian chants seamlessly infuse with phenomenally sublime ritualistic tones. The result induces an entrancing and magick ambience that simultaneously conjures awe and wonder with foreboding danger and terror, speaking profoundly to your subconscious. Extreme in all elements, Nibiru continue to reach higher musical prowess with each aural offering.

Nibiru are equally excited to join Ritual Production’s prolific roster – with their first rite for the label scheduled for 2019 – saying:

“It’s hard to find words that express how thrilled and proud we are to announce this signing. It goes without saying that Ritual Productions represents our philosophy. We needed a label who would understand us and our music, so we are happy to have found our new home with them. Joining their incredible roster of artists who we love is simply a dream come true. We are grateful for this opportunity and are looking forward to this collaboration which feels like the beginning of a new, exciting chapter in the history of Nibiru!”

For those uninitiated to Nibiru’s sound, the band formed in 2012 with shared spiritual and emotional knowledge existing between the three members. This knowledge transmuted, and every energy concentrated, into a totally impetuous creative approach with their subsequent sonic sorcery conjuring a ritualistic psychedelia. To date, Nibiru has four releases that have met exceptional praise from the worldwide press – Caosgon, Netrayoni, Padmalotus and Qaal Babalon, respectively. The band have also hosted a string of soaring gigs across Europe, including an excellent performance at the 2016 edition of the highly esteemed Roadburn Festival.

Nibiru play four live UK rituals commencing at the Black Heart, London on October 11th – do not miss these shows! Dates below:

NIBIRU – RITUALS OVER UK TOUR 2018
11/10 – The Black Heart, London
12/10 – Star and Garter, Manchester
13/10 – Hammer and Anvil, Birmingham
14/10 – The Old Salutation Inn, Nottingham

Cryptic, stimulating, progressive and expansive, Nibiru will entrance you into their ever-imploding yet tremendous cataclysm. Join the ritual and stayed tuned for news and offerings, with the band’s first rite for Ritual Productions incoming during 2019.
NIBIRU ARE:
Ardat – Guitars, Percussion & Vocals
Ri – Bass, Drones & Synthesizers
L.C. Chertan – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/nibiruritual/
https://www.instagram.com/nibiru_ritual/
https://nibiru667.bandcamp.com
http://www.nibiruritual.com/
http://www.ritualproductions.net
https://ritualproductions.bandcamp.com/
http://www.facebook.com/ritualproductionsuk
www.twitter.com/ritualmusic
www.instagram.com/ritualproductions

Nibiru, Qaal Babalon (2017)

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Basalt to Release O Coração Escuro da Terra on Ritual Productions

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 9th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Brazilian atmospheric semi-blackened sludgers Basalt issued their debut album, O Coração Escuro da Terra, last year, and with it made short work of the lines between several genres. United by a thread of willful aggression, the songs nonetheless maintained a dark ambience, as one could hear in the track “Aurora,” the video for which premiered here. Likely that balance between assault and depth of approach is at least part of what caught the ear of Ritual Productions, which has expanded its geographic reach — you might recall they signed Australia’s Drug Cult — once again by picking up the South American five-piece in order to release O Coração Escuro da Terra on the label in early 2019. It’s an interesting pickup, particularly for the more assaulting aspects of Basalt‘s sound, which are something of a departure for the label, who are no strangers to heavy murk, what with releases from Bong, the aforementioned Drug CultRamesses11Paranoias, and so on.

More to be posted from the label in the next day or so too, as I just got another press release that they snagged Italy’s Nibiru. Like the guitar tone before it, the plot thickens.

From the PR wire:

basalt (Photo Leandro Furini)

RITUAL PRODUCTIONS HAIL BASALT; RITE INCOMING 2019

Ritual Productions proudly announces the signing of Basalt, who enter the studio this October to record their first rite for the label!

Formed in 2015, in the riff metropolis of São Paulo, Brazil, Basalt unify elements of doom, black metal and dark experimental tones, subverting musical archetypes and creating new extreme audio terrains. Harkening to the dense low-end, cavernous and intense depths of the heavy sonic, Basalt fuse this fury with extraordinary ambient and atmospheric scope, incorporating a unique channelling of influences and sounds. Melding rawness and discordance with progressive and expansive breadth, Basalt truly wield aural transgression and transformation.

The quintet is formed of current and previous members of bands including Surra, Constrito, O Cúmplice, Meant to Suffer, Bomb Threat and Magzilla. Basalt’s debut album, O Coração Negro da Terra (‘Black Heart of the Earth’) had a small domestic DIY CD pressing in 2017, which Ritual Productions will be re-releasing in 2019. You can check out Basalt’s dark sonic abyss by watching the official video for the track ‘Aurora’ – taken from the aforementioned debut – below.

The band has been no stranger to live rituals in their home country. Shortly after their formation, Basalt played the TEST stage at Virada Cultural 2016 – São Paulo’s biggest music event. Alongside gigs across Brazil, Basalt performed on the closing night at this year’s renowned Centro do Rock Festival which showcases the finest talent amongst Brazilian arts. October 2018 will see the band supporting the mighty Eyehategod in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

Basalt’s first rite for Ritual Productions will be released in 2019 with more details to follow shortly. Stay tuned for updates!

BASALT ARE:
Marcelo Fonseca – Vocals
Pedro Alves – Guitar/Vocals
Luiz Mazetto – Guitar
Leonardo Saldiva – Bass/Vocals
Victor Miranda – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/basalt666/
https://www.instagram.com/basalt.basalt/
https://basalt666.bandcamp.com/releases
http://www.ritualproductions.net
https://ritualproductions.bandcamp.com/
http://www.facebook.com/ritualproductionsuk
www.twitter.com/ritualmusic
www.instagram.com/ritualproductions

Basalt, “Aurora” official video

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Six Dumb Questions with Bong

Posted in Six Dumb Questions on July 6th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

bong

The extensive back catalog of UK drone ritualists Bong can be as foggy as the band’s sound itself. Between studio full-lengths, they have a history of EPs, splits, periodic compilations of EPs and splits, and no fewer than 23 live albums that goes back over a decade. Still, they’ve been pretty quiet since issuing We Are, We Were and We Will Have Been in 2015, with just two live recordings that followed. All the more reason to approach their 2018 long-player, Thought and Existence (previously discussed here), with a marked curiosity. What have the trio been up in what one assumes is a bunker deep below the surface of their hometown in Newcastle? From whence does the new album, delivered appropriately through Ritual Productions — with whom the band has worked since 2011’s Beyond Ancient Space (review here) — arrive?

As ever, Bong present more questions than answers. With the lineup of guitarist Mike Vest, bassist/vocalist David Terry and drummer Mike Smith explore a textural range that spreads out across two massive, immersive, compulsive tracks in “The Golden Fields” (17:31) and “Tlön Uqbar Orbis Tertius” (19:01), emitting a slow moving swirl that draws the listener in with its well-honed patience and fluidity. You’re hypnotized. They’re hypnotized. That’s kind of the whole point. Not to say it isn’t expressing a sonic idea, but that idea is to get lost in it. That’s the interaction Bong are seeking with Thought and Existence. It’s a communion between performers, audience and sound. Take that how you will — and some simply won’t — but it’s a journey one refuses to their own detriment.

Having been fortunate enough to see Bong perform most recently at Oslo’s Høstsabbat in 2016 (review here), I can recall vividly (or, you know, vaguely) the fog-drenched drone they brought to life on that stage, with Terry gurgling out his vocal parts as Vest and fill-in drummer Rich Lewis went exploring by oozing forth in any number of directions at once, taking the room through a massive, voluminous plunge into brain-melting tonal resonance. It was astounding to watch, and in the chants of “The Golden Fields” and the far, far-gone “Tlön Uqbar Orbis Tertius,” Thought and Existence captures the same sensibility and feeling of journey. It’s not just a willful slog in the front-to-back listen — actually, at 36 minutes, it’s a quite-manageable single LP, as was their last one; 2014’s Stoner Rock was their last 2LP, sort of — turn it up and it’s a physical manifestation of a near-opaque ethereality. Their methods well set at this stage in their career, Bong continue to explore places that most bands dare not tread and atmospheres from whence many a lesser act simply would not return.

In the relatively brief interview that follows, the band talks about some of the makings, processes and concepts behind Thought and Existence. Since rhythm and flow play so much of a role in what Bong does, I’ve left the Q&A largely untouched, and you’ll find it below only really changed from how it came in in terms of format, putting titles in italics and that kind of thing. The rest is as it showed up to preserve the integrity of it, and I sincerely hope it does just that.

Please enjoy the following Six Dumb Questions:

bong thought and existence

Six Dumb Questions with Bong

What is the interaction between volume and ritual for Bong at this point? Where does one end and the other begin?

Playing live. To create the great sustain live, everything must be cranked. Everything! This is a major part of the ritual. A forced meditation for the audience. Even when we are in the studio, this rule need to be enforced. Textures and tones are really important and can only be achieved through high volume. Capturing that in the studio is a challenge but can be ultimately rewarding.

Why Thought and Existence? What is the album exploring and what do you feel it says about the title ultimately? Is there a conclusion reached through the material?

Exploring metaphysical inner space, the past is a present memory and the possibility that all time has expired. The inward expansive nature of the mind and our senses. The brain is actually part of the external world, it is only through our senses that we can truly see or feel the mind. The title itself is expansive and cannot be summed up, but can be perceived in many different ways.

Tell me about writing “The Golden Fields” and “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius.” When did you start putting them together and how did they begin to take shape?

“Tlön” was written over time, we played various different versions of this track over the shows we were at early last year. It formed over time, the main riff was then extended and tightened up at practice sessions before we went into the studio. “Golden Fields” was roughly planned, with certain stages. Lining up the vocals with the tempo, gaps in the percussion. All our tracks are formed over time, the more we play, the clearer the arrangement seems to be.

How malleable are Bong songs over time? If I went to a Bong show three years from now and heard “The Golden Fields,” would it be the same as on the album? How set are the movements of a given piece? How do you know when writing a song that it’s done?

The arrangements, if any, will stay the same.

When changes or intensities begin, they are totally improvised.

Lead or layered octave guitar harmonies will drift in and out of any track live. Wenever play the same track exact, however you can still distinguish between which track is actually being played.

Our songs are never finished, as long as we keep playing the song live it will always change. Tracks on our albums are recorded moments, they have no real set parameters.

Take me through the recording process for Thought and Existence. Of course you know what you want out a studio experience at this point, but how did these tracks come together during the recording? What’s most important for you to capture in a studio recording process?

It’s all about the initial live takes in the studio.

We play all together to set the right tempo, we try to use the second or third take of a track as a final version to keep the feel, playing a track over and over in the studio can bleed it dry. However, using the first take as a reference point it can make it easier to create dynamics, place vocals and possible arrangements. We spent a lot of time playing these tracks, so we knew the arrangements. So we allocated a lot of time for experimentation adding bowed cymbals, more stereo guitars and Harmonium/Melodeon drones.

Any plans or closing words you want to mention?

Thought and Existence is out on May 4th on Ritual Productions We are currently booking shows for Europe and UK right now, so get in touch with us, we want play more shows this year. We [played] London at the end of June. More are being confirmed.
Also thanks to everyone who has picked up an LP/Tape/CD/t-shirt or just came to one of our shows. Means a lot to us. We never thought we would get this far.

Bong, Thought and Existence (2018)

Bong on Thee Facebooks

Ritual Productions website

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Review & Video Premiere: Drug Cult, Drug Cult

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

drug cult drug cult

[Click play above to see the premiere of Drug Cult’s video for ‘Reptile Hypnosis.’ Their self-titled debut is out June 21 on Ritual Productions.]

Maybe this is pointing out the obvious on some levels, but with Drug Cult, the idea is consumption. Yes, theirs, of narcotics, but also theirs of their audience. The Australian four-piece make their self-titled debut through Ritual Productions with nine tracks and 42 minutes of haze doom given its cultish presence by vocalist Aasha Tozer, who on a song like the post-Electric Wizard swinging “Release” comes across like an echo-laden bad trip version of Grace Slick atop the riffing of Vin Steele (ex-Wolfmother, Megaritual, Sun of Man), the snare march from Dale Walker (also Megaritual, Sun of Man) and air-pushing, hope-you-invested-in-replacement-tubes low end of bassist Maggie Schreiber. As a unit their sound is consistent but not unipolar across their debut, but again, they’re looking to swallow the listener entirely.

There are elements drawn from doom — plenty of them, actually — and shades throughout of modern cult rock, but Drug Cult seem less interested in convincing their audience they worship evil spirits than in creating a downer-lumbering atmosphere in which some ritual might take place. Even “Bloodstone,” on which Tozer intones, “I want more/Your blood is the drug I’ve been searching for,” seems more about the hypnotic repetitions of its lines than about the words themselves. With the significant aural murk the band creates there and throughout the rest of the tracks, their sound basks in a dark-toned revelry, and whether a given song is fast or slow, structured or open, it’s the ambience that ties it all together.

The rest of the tracks hover somewhere between three and five minutes, but Drug Cult earn immediate points by opening Drug Cult with the 8:51 “Serpent Therapy,” providing quick immersion into the swamp their tones have created. Walker earns specific mention for his drums keeping these songs from flying apart entirely, and as “Serpent Therapy” rolls out its insistent rif moving toward the halfway mark, it’s the drums that allow the listener to hold onto their consciousness to the extent they can. From there unfold a series of what the band would probably call ‘rites.’ “Release” builds forward momentum rolling into the lurching open of “Reptile Hypnosis,” the stomp of which stands among the record’s most satisfying and the hook of which also provides a highlight moment, let alone the searing guitar lead that comes after it. Throughout, front-to-back, Drug Cult sound positively filthy.

drug cult (Photo Sally Patti Gordon)

Like the kind of band who show up to play the gig, open their van door and from it wafts a smell that’s as much body odor as it is reefer, the latter both being actively smoked at that moment and seeping through the pores of the band itself. Such is the Drug Cult vibe, and even on faster, more swinging garage-doom-style pieces like “The Wall” or “Slaylude,” the depth of tone remains the same and the spaciousness provided both by the guitar and bass together and by Tozer‘s echo-soaked vocals help craft the band’s dark and obscure plane. Whether it’s the howling lurch of centerpiece “Mind Crypt” or the deceptive shuffle of closer “Spell,” which seems less like the moment Drug Cult are trying to payoff the album as a whole than the moment they’re trying to tear it apart — though perhaps that is the payoff — Drug Cult hold firm to a willful sense of aesthetic and atmosphere, and that they refuse to veer from it makes their debut all the more consuming.

That’s not necessarily to imply that the self-titled is completely unipolar. As noted, they toy with a variety of structures and tempos that keep a steady flow from “Serpent Therapy” onward, and the effect that extended opener has of thrusting the audience into Drug Cult‘s scope isn’t to be understated. Where the rest of the album succeeds behind it is in Drug Cult setting up a fluidity between tracks that carries the listener through a trip that’s both nuanced and familiar somehow, without losing hold of their intention. Taking into account this is Drug Cult‘s debut, the full-album level of consideration the band brings to their work is doubly impressive, though it’s also worth pointing out that individual tracks like “Reptile Hypnosis,” “The Wall,” “Bloodstone,” “Spell,” etc., hardly fail at leaving their own mark. It’s the manner in which these songs feed into the whole experience of the record that give it such a sense of accomplishment on an stylistic level.

In the end, I don’t know if Drug Cult is someone’s distant cousin or something like that — let’s assume not — but they make an excellent fit for Ritual Productions, which has worked to put out offerings from Ramesses, 11Paranoias, Bong, and so on. Perhaps somewhat less extreme in their presentation, they’re no less considerate of ambience than their compatriots, and if this is Drug Cult‘s starting point, it will be fascinating to hear what their sound morphs into over subsequent releases.

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Ancient Lights Premiere Trailer for Self-Titled Debut

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 17th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

ancient lights photo mark swaffield

I know what you’re thinking: Really? A premiere for an album trailer? Well, it’s six and a half minutes long, so quit complaining.

Unceasingly grim in its atmosphere and honed to murky depths that are equal parts obtuse and hypnotic, the self-titled debut from UK three-piece Ancient Lights tops 70 minutes — comes closer to 90 when you count the CD/DL bonus material — and is set to release in July via Ritual Productions. It is a meandering psychedelic wash, repetition and ambience given priority over structure as the trio of bassist/vocalist/guitarist Adam Richardson, guitarist Ben Carr and drummer Tim Bertilsson combine and in some ways surpass their pedigrees in bands like Ramesses5ive and Switchblade in order to push as far out as possible.

Do they get there? Oh, they get there. “War of Attrition” sounds like it’s being fought against the notion of consciousness itself, while 17-minute pieces like “Against Nature” and “Fallow Year” drift into a willed-into-existence sonic beyond. Immersion: inevitable. To call it hypnotic as above is underselling it both in concept and execution. It’s not just the listener being hypnotized here; it’s the band as well. The feedback-soaked, chant-laden “Asakai Dasa” feels as much about the experience of its creation as the resulting “song.” In this way, Ancient Lights are in communion with themselves, with their audience, and with the moment captured on the recording. This is characteristic of much of Richardson‘s work in Ramesses or 11PARANOIAS — the latter of whom also reportedly have new material in the works — but I’m not sure it’s even been driven to such psychedelic extremes as it is on Ancient Lights.

Because it is a work of extremity. Not in the sense of blastbeats or death metal vocals or anything like that, but in its sheer willingness to delve into its own psychosis, Ancient Lights‘ debut is neither for the feint of heart nor the closed of mind. Its triumph lies not in emerging on the other side of “Fallow Year” unscathed, but in having made the journey through it in the first place, and even shorter pieces like “Orichalcum Eater” (2:57) or the plodding “Miasmaculatum” (3:58) make an offering of swirl with more than enough undertow to pull its audience away from their own being. To put a realistic point on it, it’s a hard record to write about because I keep feeling my mind wander in time to the ensuing nod.

The trailer gives a taste of opener “Decaying Lotus,” the subsequent “Temple Ghosts” and the bonus track “Vessel of Inevitability,” and again, if your concern is that most album teasers don’t give a sense of the substance of the record itself, you’re not wrong. I assure you that’s not the case here. Click play and find out for yourself. PR wire info follows, as usual.

Enjoy:

Ancient Lights, Ancient Lights album trailer premiere

Immerse yourself and preview the tracks ‘Decaying Lotus’, ‘Vessel of Inevitability’ and ‘Temple Ghosts’ from Ancient Lights debut self-titled album, out on Ritual Productions July 2018.

Ancient Lights refuse to tread worn sonic terrain with their debut, instead crafting a dynamic and textured journey that explores pastures of darkness, ambience, radiance and disintegration. Comprised of members of esteemed bands of the heavy palette, the origins of the band came after 13 shadowy years of jammed discourse and psychic plotting between Adam Richardson (11PARANOIAS, Ramesses) and Ben Carr (5ive, INTRCPTR), with the optimal addition of Tim Bertilsson (Switchblade) catalysing the final reality of this band.

Trailer directed by Cristiane Richardson and edited by Sergio Angot.

The band recorded their debut rite at Bonafide Studios, London under the spell of the 2017 summer solstice sky with Dan Miller. Additional recording by Ben Carr and Adam Richardson in June 2017 at XL Recordings Studio. Mixing and mastering by Dan Miller and Adam Richardson in December 2017 at XL Recordings Studio, London.

ANCIENT LIGHTS is:
Tim Bertilsson – drums
Adam Richardson – bass, guitar, vocals & lyrics
Ben Carr – guitar

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Bong Debut Album Trailer for Thought and Existence

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 1st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

bong (photo Tom Newell)

When it comes to Newcastle-based psychedelic drone lords Bong, the very, very least you can say about the band is they don’t do anything half-assed when it comes to approaching cosmic sonorities. The often-experimental trio led by guitarist Mike Vest are set to issue their latest full-length, Thought and Existence — not exactly tackling the small issues, philosophically speaking — on May 4 via Ritual Productions, and like its 2015 predecessor, We Are, We Were and We Will Have Been, it’s made up of two expanded-mind drone drifters, unfolding a cosmos in slow motion across its two sides, which seem as ever to work on a wavelength of their won when it comes to tonal and atmospheric proliferation.

That not-doing-anything-half-assed extends to the new trailer premiering today for Thought and Existence, which — where most tease about a vague minute or 50 seconds of bong thought and existencenew material from a band’s record, follows suit with Bong‘s overall methodology and tops five minutes, giving a substantial glimpse at both of the tracks on Thought and Existence, “The Golden Fields” (17:31) and “Tlön Uqbar Orbis Tertius” (19:01). The thing of it? It’s immersive. I mean, you get lost in it. The album, the full thing, is 36 minutes long between the two cuts, but I’ve yet to make it through the trailer that you can see below without feeling totally hypnotized. Even right now as I type this I’ve got the thing on and I feel like I’m clinging to consciousness with all I’ve got.

And there it goes…

Maybe I shouldn’t be so shocked at that — trance-inducing repetition is as much a key component of Bong‘s approach as volume or a darkened, ritualized atmosphere. They use it well throughout Thought and Existence, to be sure, and it’s perhaps in conveying that that the trailer is most effective, though that’s not to mention the visuals themselves included which are slowly manipulated and awesome in their own right. Still, while one so often thinks of Bong working in longer-form contexts as they generally do, it’s telling that they don’t actually need much more than five minutes to melt your brain down and drink it as it pours from your ears.

Behold:

Bong, Thought and Existence album trailer premiere

Bong ‘Thought and Existence’ album trailer edited by Sergio Angot and directed by Cristiane Richardson, featuring ‘The Golden Fields’ and ‘Tlön Uqbar Orbis Tertius’. Out Spring 2018 on Ritual Productions.

The cosmos has now aligned, and with great honour Ritual Productions announce BONG’s return after three years with a new and momentous rite. ‘Thought and Existence’ is their sixth album for Ritual Productions and will be unveiled in its entirety this May 4th.

A continuation of Bong’s metaphysical sounds, ‘Thought and Existence’ will take the listener on a spacious voyage that resonates with the works of the band’s past, yet this offering is especially striking and stunning. A resplendent and imposing craft, comprised of two tracks spanning just under 40 minutes, ‘Thought and Existence’ is remarkable in its ability to move the listener and transcend them to imaginative planes anew.

Bong feel ever so omnipresent on ‘Thought and Existence’, continuing their revered ability to transform time through their sublime sonic textures. As all listeners of this rite will attest, the band’s stellar meditative and mystical drone, amplified by the essential and ritualistic hue of the drums, permits our imagination to be heightened. New realms of perception and existence open up, even if only for the duration of the rite; the power of this listening experience subverting the laws of time and space itself.

BONG is:
Mike Vest – guitars
Mike Smith – drums
David Terry – bass & vocals

Bong’s ‘Thought and Existence’ was recorded and engineered by Mark Wood at The Soundroom, Gateshead during September 2017. The rite was mixed and mastered at XL Recordings Studio, London during December 2017, courtesy of John Foyle (Bobby Womack, Sampha, Damon Albarn) and Adam Richardson (11PARANOIAS, Ramesses, Ancient Lights).

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