Review & Full Stream: Harsh Toke, Joy & Sacri Monti, Burnout Split LP

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on June 22nd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

harsh-toke-joy-sacri-monti-burnout

[Click play above to stream the Burnout three-way split between Harsh Toke, Joy and Sacri Monti. It’s out June 23 via Tee Pee Records.]

Not to quibble on titles, but it’s way less Burnout than it is ignition. The West Coast heavy psych boom, centered in San Diego but with offshoots up and down throughout California in Los Angeles, the Bay Area, etc., is years underway at this point, and New York’s Tee Pee Records has proven to be among its most crucial documentarians. In bringing together Harsh TokeJoy and Sacri Monti — three San Diego bands who’ve all had albums out on Tee Pee — the long-running imprint has essentially reinforced the arrival of and camaraderie between members of one of the US’ most vibrant underground scenes. If they wanted, each of these groups could have headlined their own three-band split — there’s enough clout between them and enough other acts around to make that happen, easily — but in uniting them together, Tee Pee is going for broke in representing the particular energy and classic-minded shred that typifies San Diego’s explosive sound.

It is likewise no coincidence that Burnout — a six-song 12″ topping out at 26 minutes — should feature covers from each band as well as original material from Joy and Sacri Monti, since so much of what’s happening and what’s already happened in the heavy ’10s has owed its core approach to the heavy ’70s before it, so that to have Harsh Toke take on Roky Erickson for two tracks — something they also did for a full set at Roadburn festival this past Spring in the Netherlands — as Joy tears into “Spaceship Earth” by Road and Sacri Monti into “Sleeping for Years” by Atomic Rooster not only makes sense sonically, but effectively ties together the still-very-much-exploding current movement of bands with the crucial wave that preceded it nearly half a century ago.

I admit, that’s a pretty heady view of the mission here, and to listen to Burnout, the tracks don’t come across nearly so lofty in their aims, whether that’s Harsh Toke‘s drunk-at-the-piano dive into Erickson‘s “Burn the Flames” at the outset or the scorching, organ-soaked boogie drive of Sacri Monti tackling “Sleeping for Years” at the finish. And rightfully so. If it was pretentious or overly self-aware, the whole affair would fall flat, where in the front-to-back execution, it proves to be anything but, with both Joy and Sacri Monti right in their respective elements in both their own material and their cover selections while Harsh Toke prove to be somewhat the outliers as they leadoff the release. Not so much sound-wise — Roky Erickson‘s weirdo formative and massively influential psych isn’t out of context in their swaying reinterpretation — as in the simple concept of Harsh Toke playing songs.

harsh toke joy sacri monti burnout vinyl

Harsh Toke‘s 2016 split (review here) with San Diego scene lords Earthless — who along with Radio Moscow are very much the elephant in the room when it comes to not only the three outfits appearing on Burnout but the wider San Diego sphere as a whole — and their 2014 debut, Light up and Live, were essentially jam-based releases, and their live sets find them working in likewise methods. To hear them push through the fuzzy proto-punk of “Bermuda,” I’m not sure why they so generally avoid vocals, but the fact that it’s something that doesn’t happen all the time would seem to make it all the more of an event, and they are right at home in that track and “Burn the Flames” preceding, giving a sense of Erickson‘s character in the material while presenting it with their own energetic tack. Naturally, on a three-band split there’ are bound to be some stark leaps in sound, between groups — like on any multi-group compilation — but the speedier “Bermuda” also helps make way for Joy‘s “Your Time Ain’t Long,” the longest inclusion here overall at 5:27.

Meting out similar winding riffage to what high-speed-nodded throughout their 2016 third full-length, Ride Along! (review here), “Your Time Ain’t Long” serves as the first original of Burnout and cuts short after three-and-a-half shuffling minutes to a more languid drift, keeping some progressive tension beneath as it moves with deceptive efficiency back toward its hook. The trio count into “Spaceship Earth” for a live-in-studio feel that the raw fuzz of their tonality and echoing vocals backs up that impression. In their own composition as well as the 1972 Road track, it’s the guitar leading the charge, and even as “Spaceship Earth” moves into outside-the-atmosphere noise following an extended stretch of leads, tone provides the fuel for that ascent. Sacri Monti‘s “Over the Hill” follows immediately.

Their original, like that of Joy before them, showcases a fervent-enough ’70s influence to make its transition seamless, but is distinguished through the use of organ and the interplay there between keys and shred-prone guitar as was their 2015 self-titled debut (review here), and as a next step forward from that release, “Over the Hill” bodes well for the development of their chemistry on the whole. Their selection of an Atomic Rooster track is likewise admirable — and one has to acknowledge it must’ve been tempting, when looking at 1970’s Death Walks Behind You, to take on the title-piece — and they give the UK-based post-blues stompers their due while, like Harsh Toke and Joy before them, bringing their own personality to the presentation in a live-feeling onslaught of groove that dares you to keep up with its nigh-on-frenetic turns. It’s over quickly — so is Burnout as a whole — but Sacri Monti‘s cold finish to “Sleeping for Years” makes a fitting end to the split, since as the scene that birthed these bands also seems to do, it leaves one with the feeling of standing in front of the stage yelling for one more song.

And if they had done another, or if any of these groups came back out and did an encore, you wouldn’t find me complaining. Cities like San Diego, Encinitas, Visalia, Oceanside, and so on, have become more and more crowded over the last couple years, and I expect they’ll continue to for at least the next several years as we move toward and beyond 2020, but with the quality of output from Harsh TokeJoy and Sacri Monti both here and on their own offerings, it’s hard to argue with others wanting to pick up and try to capture some of the same vibe that’s presented as being so utterly molten across this split. In playing to their strengths, each of these bands represents some of the best of West Coast heavy psych as a whole.

Harsh Toke on Thee Facebooks

Joy on Thee Facebooks

Sacri Monti on Thee Facebooks

Burnout at Tee Pee Records

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Bow to Your Masters: Thin Lizzy Tribute to Feature High on Fire, Mos Generator, Mothership, Harsh Toke, Egypt and More

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 23rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Not that this one really needs a plug, considering that as of this writing Glory or Death Records‘ Kickstarter campaign for a Thin Lizzy tribute to be titled Bow to Your Masters has hit 274 percent of its fundraising goal, but it’s pretty awesome that as a result of that, the label has added a second LP to the project and announced the first band who’ll take part in it is High on Fire. The way the numbers have played out pretty much underscores the absolute no-brainer, duh-of-course-head-slap awesomeness of the idea in the first place, and among life’s many worthy tenets, “The more Thin Lizzy, the better,” continues to resound as dogma.

Will there be a Volume 2? Will Glory or Death earn enough in the remaining week of the campaign to add a third LP here? Time will tell.

Background info and the latest tracklisting update follow here, courtesy of the label:

Bow to Your Masters Volume 1: Thin Lizzy Set for Winter Release

First Vinyl Release from Glory or Death will be a Tribute Featuring Heavy Underground Heavyweights

Glory or Death Records is extremely excited to announce our first vinyl release, and the first in our series of Bow to Your Masters tribute albums. For this first release we chose a special band to pay tribute to: Thin Lizzy, one of the most influential rock-and-roll bands of all time.

The album announcement comes with a Kickstarter campaign that has already met the original goal, but is still going until 5/30/17. The Kickstarter preorder features limited vinyl and art packages and surprise rewards that will be added in the second half of the campaign. Buying now will grant access to the highly-limited first pressing of Bow to Your Masters Volume 1: Thin Lizzy, which will feature some of the best heavy metal, rock, and psych bands in the business putting their own unique spin on classic Thin Lizzy songs.

The album features bands from innovative labels like Doomentia Records, Riding Easy Records, Ripple Music, Tee Pee Records, and Totem Cat Records.

The 10 bands coming along for the ride are: Mos Generator (Seattle, WA), Egypt (Fargo, ND), White Dog (Austin, TX), Red Wizard (San Diego, CA), Slow Season (Visalia, CA), Mothership (Dallas, TX), KOOK (San Jose, CA), Great Electric Quest (Oceanside, CA), Sacri Monti (Encinitas, CA), and Harsh Toke (San Diego, CA).

**UPDATE-2nd LP announced, High on Fire First Band Added**

LP1 Band/Track Listing
Mos Generator-Massacre
Egypt-Suicide
White Dog-???
Red Wizard-???
Slow Season-She Knows
Mothership-???
KOOK-Thunder and Lightning
Great Electric Quest-???
Sacri Monti-???
Harsh Toke-???

LP2 Band/Track Listing
High on Fire-???
???
???
???

The launch teaser video for the Kickstarter campaign includes a sample of Mos Generator playing a monster cover of Massacre, and there is also a teaser of Egypt’s version of Suicide. The rest of the tracks will be revealed before the end of the Kickstarter campaign. The album will release in late 2017—with a current target of November.
The album cover features art from renowned album and band/poster artists David Paul Seymour and Austin Barrett; the 4-panel cover will feature re-interpretations of classic Thin Lizzy photos and album covers. The Kickstarter campaign has reward tiers that include the 4 original art pieces that make up the cover as well as signed screen-prints of the 4 cover panels.

Details:
Kickstarter Address: http://bit.ly/gloryordeath
Kickstarter pre-order deadline: 5/30/17

http://www.facebook.com/gloryordeathrecords
http://www.instagram.com/glory_or_death_records

Thin Lizzy, Fighting (1975)

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Harsh Toke, Joy & Sacri Monti Announce Burnout Split Due June 23

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 15th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Want. It’s that simple. Want.

If you needed further evidence of San Diego as the American epicenter of heavy psychedelic rock, or of Tee Pee Records‘ absolute on-it-ness when it comes to same — I don’t even care if it makes me sound like a fanboy, it’s true; also, does anyone say “fanboy” anymore? — I humbly submit the forthcoming Burnout split vinyl from Harsh Toke, Joy and Sacri Monti. It’s three righteous acts joining forces on the kind of off-album release that keeps people talking for years. The thing looks killer and I’ve no doubt sounds the same, with Harsh Toke taking on two Roky Erickson covers while Joy tackle Road and Sacri Monti treat listeners to some Atomic Rooster, directly tying the original generation of heavy to the current and up-and-coming one.

Whatever. It’s a want. You shouldn’t need me to tell you that. Already holding a spot for it on my list of the best EPs and splits of the year, because that’s the kind of impartial-ass critic I am. Here’s art and info off the PR wire:

harsh-toke-joy-sacri-monti-burnout

JOY, HARSH TOKE & SACRI MONTI Team Up on Three-Way Split EP, ‘BURNOUT’

Ever feel like bands that get tagged with the heavy PSYCH descriptor just aren’t very psychedelic? Or heavy? Tee Pee Records is here to save the day with the three-way heavy psych split, BURNOUT. Featuring California kings HARSH TOKE, JOY and SACRI MONTI, BURNOUT brings back the blues and whisks you away to a place where guitar solos reign supreme! The compilation will be released on June 23 in digital and CD formats as well as a limited edition triple 7″ package (pre-order here).

Alongside SoCal godfathers EARTHLESS, HARSH TOKE, JOY and SACRI MONTI are simultaneously skyrocketing a pathway towards the future of molten heavy psych. You’ve heard about all of the noise coming from the red hot California heavy psych scene that is taking the west coast by storm, now experience for yourself the exciting sounds that have everyone talking with BURNOUT!

On BURNOUT, HARSH TOKE serves up two searing Roky Erickson rippers — in homage to the tribute the band paid to the Texas psychedelic icon at the 2017 Roadburn Festival — while JOY and SACRI MONTI shred through a terrific new track apiece, while also paying tribute to legends that paved the way; JOY covering the ROAD classic “Spaceship Earth” and SACRI MONTI blazing through ATOMIC ROOSTER’s “Sleeping for Years”. Each of the three 7″ records features artwork by acclaimed multi media artist, BB Bastidas, and on the back cover, photography by renowned photographer JT Rhoades.

Equal parts atmospheric and anarchic, HARSH TOKE merges raging, blind fury musicianship with unprecedented white-knuckle volume abuse. In 2016, the band released a celebrated split EP with labelmates EARTHLESS and the acid rock band’s debut, Light Up and Live, came out in 2014.

The sound of JOY has been described as “a spaced-out sonic groove-ride” and “outer reach freak out”, but that hyperbole alone doesn’t do justice to the group’s measured mode of attack. Featuring Hendrixian guitarist Zach Oakley, JOY puts a premium on establishing both structure and dynamics, its kaleidoscopic flurry and full-throttle riffage is anchored by both subtle detail and surprising textural depth. JOY’s latest release was 2016’s Ride Along!

Roughly translated as “Sacred Mountains”, SACRI MONTI’s music is a searing smorgasbord of muscular rock that boils ’70s guitar rock down to its purest essence. Fingers bleed, eardrums implode and craniums collapse when SACRI MONTI cranks up its bitchin’, blistering buzz.

Track listing:

HARSH TOKE:
1.) Burn The Flames (Roky Erickson)
2.) Burmuda (Roky Erickson)

JOY:
3.) Your Time Ain’t Long
4.) Spaceship Earth (ROAD cover)

SACRI MONTI:
5.) Over The Hill
6.) Spaceship Earth (Atomic Rooster cover)

https://teepeerecords.com/collections/frontpage/products/harsh-toke-joy-sacri-monti-burnout-triple-7-out-june-23rd?variant=40958685140
https://www.facebook.com/theHARSHTOKEgoons/
https://www.facebook.com/JOYHEADBAND/
https://www.facebook.com/sacrimontiband/

Harsh Toke, Live at Roadburn 2017

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Denver Electric Funeral Fest Completes Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 29th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

To the best of my limited capacity for finding this kind of thing out, June will mark the first edition of the Denver Electric Funeral festival. Maybe it’s just because I’ve got Psycho on the brain, but I can’t help but wonder if by putting the name of the city that will act as host — Denver, Colorado — promoter Dust Presents is keeping an eye toward franchising or keeping mobile for future editions. That’s speculation of course. It could just as easily be like Southwest Terror Fest or, more specifically, Maryland Deathfest and L.A. Murderfest, and simply showing regional pride and letting people know where they should go if they want to see it. In this case, you go to Denver.

Wherever the next one will take place — how do I even get on a tangent like that; oh yeah, extreme exhaustion — the lineup for what I still think is the first Denver Electric Funeral is pretty sick, and matches a healthy portion of locals in bands like Cloud CatcherSugar Skulls and Marigolds and Malahierba is met with a range of others from farther out, whether that’s West Coast outfits like Radio MoscowMondo Drag and Sacri Monti, East Coast sludgers Sourvein and Toke, or Texas troublemakers Mothership. Looks like it’s gonna be a good time.

June 4 and 5 are the dates, 3 Kings Tavern in Denver is the place, ticket link is below, and here’s the lineup:

denver electric funeral fest 2016

DUST Presents: Denver Electric Funeral Fest
June 4th-5th, 2016

Denver Electric Funeral Fest will be a two-day offering of all things heavy, featuring 20 of the best rock n’ roll / metal bands in the country. Instagram: @dustpresents.

Tickets and more info @ www.3kingstavern.com/event/243343

Lineup:
Radio Moscow
Sourvein
Mothership
Mondo Drag
Goya
Sweat Lodge
Sacri Monti
Cloud Catcher
Toke
Crypt Trip
Greenbeard
The Munsens
Space in Time
Poison Rites
Malahierba
Tricoma
Ghosts of Glaciers
Warhawk
Love Gang
Sugar Skulls & Marigolds

http://www.3kingstavern.com/event/243343
https://www.facebook.com/events/1550753005249293/
https://www.facebook.com/DUST-Presents-1003880426336204/

Cloud Catcher, Live at Borderland Fuzz Fiesta 2016

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The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 Debut Albums of 2015

Posted in Features on December 18th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

top 20 debuts of 2015 1

Please note: This list is not culled in any way from the Readers Poll, which is ongoing. If you haven’t yet contributed your favorites of 2015 to that, please do.

I’ll note right away that this list started out as a top 10. When it came to it, it didn’t seem fair to cut it off. Too much left out. It gets to a point where you look at your list of honorable mentions and it’s like three times as long as your list itself and you realize maybe you should up the numbers and give a few more records their due. So yeah, a top 20 it is.

The temptation with a list like this, especially since it’s dealing with bands working on their first full-length albums (EPs are counted separately), is to think of it as indicative of future movement overall, to try and measure some overarching trend from some of the best outings of the year. I’m not sure that’s a fair approach either to the bands who made these records or to everyone else who might come after, but if we step back and look at what’s presented in the list below, we see veterans resurfacing in new incarnations, new, young groups coming together with classic ideologies, a bit of heavy extremity, psych melding with pop, heavy rock going prog and much more.

What all that tells me is that notions like “underground” and “heavy,” these vague terms that get applied so liberally, are constantly expanding. Whatever their individual sound might be, these bands all pushed ahead an overarching stylistic progression in whatever they’re doing, and like the best of debut albums, they held promise for further growth beyond this already impressive output. It’s less about which seems like an immediate landmark, touchstone, whatever, than it is about what sets up and effectively begins that development going forward, though striking a chord in the present never hurts either.

To that end, here we go:

brothers of the sonic cloth brothers of the sonic cloth

The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 Debut Albums of 2015

1. Brothers of the Sonic Cloth, Brothers of the Sonic Cloth
2. Death Alley, Black Magick Boogieland
3. Cigale, Cigale
4. Kind, Rocket Science
5. Fogg, High Testament
6. Crypt Sermon, Out of the Garden
7. CHRCH, Unanswered Hymns
8. With the Dead, With the Dead
9. Demon Head, Ride the Wilderness
10. Sacri Monti, Sacri Monti
11. Stars that Move, Stars that Move
12. Chiefs, Tomorrow’s Over
13. Sunder, Sunder
14. Ecstatic Vision, Sonic Praise
15. Bison Machine, Hoarfrost
16. Serial Hawk, Searching for Light
17. Cloud Catcher, Enlightened Beyond Existence
18. Khemmis, Absolution
19. Sumac, The Deal
20. The Devil and the Almighty Blues, The Devil and the Almighty Blues

Honorable Mention

By way of honorable mentions, first I have to give a nod to Foehammer‘s self-titled debut EP, which would be on this list probably in the top five if not the top three were it not for the fact that, as noted, it’s an EP. Its list will come. The 2015 release of Horsehunter‘s self-titled on Magnetic Eye was killer as well, but since the album initially came out in 2014, it didn’t seem fair to include it in the list proper.

Releases from Killer Boogie, Snowy DunesSweat LodgePlanes of SatoriDoctoR DooMLasers from Atlantis and Lords of Beacon House (I heard the EP, not the LP) also provided thrills a-plenty, and while I recognize that sounds like sarcasm, please rest assured it’s not. I’m sure there are others, and as always, I reserve the right to tweak mentions and numbers over the next however many days, weeks, years, etc.

Notes

There wasn’t much mystery to this one for me. Brothers of the Sonic Cloth held onto that top spot for most of the year, and it seemed like no matter what came along, the wall of sound that Tad Doyle and company built on that record simply would not be torn down. As oppressive in tone as it is in atmosphere, it was a long-awaited debut that produced devastating results the ripples from which I expect will continue to resonate well into 2016 and beyond.

Brothers of the Sonic Cloth is one example of a veteran presence finding a new home, as several did this year. See also, Sumac with former members of IsisEcstatic Vision with players from A Life Once LostWith the Dead with members of Cathedral and Ramesses coming together for the first time, Kind drawing its lineup from the likes of RoadsawMilligramRozamov and Elder, and even groups like Sunder, who previously released an album together under the moniker The Socks before abandoning that project in favor of the current one, as well as Sacri Monti, with a member from Radio Moscow in tow, Cigale, who had two members from SungrazerStars that Move which sprang from Starchild, and Death Alley with members of MührGewapend Beton and The Devil’s Blood showcased how one band flows out of another and out of another, and so on.

That Death Alley debut had charm worthy of its title — which was also my favorite of the year — and showed the potential of that band to set up a real stylistic range going forward. I hope they continue to expand, get a little weird and freaked out and keep that core of songwriting and forward drive that makes Black Magick Boogieland so propulsive. For new bands, Cigale‘s self-titled was beautiful, but would later become tinged with tragedy following the death of guitarist/vocalist Rutger Smeets earlier this year. Not to mention friends and family, his is a significant loss for European psychedelia as a whole, and while that was inarguably one of the low points of 2015, the album itself remains a gorgeous statement.

Young acts like FoggDemon HeadBison MachineSunderCloud Catcher and even Sacri Monti showcased varied takes on classic heavy, some more into boogie and jams and some looking for something a little rougher edged. Cloud Catcher‘s progressive take was a particularly pleasant surprise, while Sunder‘s psychedelia teemed with melody and a cohesive presence born out of what could’ve been unhinged otherwise. Between these, the heavy riffing of The Devil and the Almighty Blues and Serial Hawk, the formative fuzz of Chiefs, the resonant doom of Khemmis and the righteous traditionalism of Crypt Sermon, the notion of genres and subgenres as an ever-expanding universe seemed to be playing out on a weekly basis.

This, invariably, leads to new extremes, which in turn brings me to CHRCH. Like Foehammer, whose EP is in honorable mentions, the Unanswered Hymns long-player from CHRCH was a bright spot especially for how little light it seemed to let escape its abyssal grasp. They’re an easy bet for a band to catch on because they’ve garnered a formidable response already, but what sticks out to me most about them is the sense of pushing established parameters into fresh territory. What they’ll do in the months and years to come of course remains to be seen — they could break up tomorrow; it happens — but where a group like Primitive Man are almost singularly based on extremity of pummel and brutality (not to take away from them), CHRCH have the space in their sound for a multi-faceted progression, and that’s a huge part of what made Unanswered Hymns so encouraging.

I know there were many more debut LPs than these released this year, and even more debuts that were EPs and demos of note and things like that. The reason I single out debut albums for a list is because it’s among the most pivotal offerings a band can make. You’ll never get to release a second debut record. Some bands never live theirs down, some never attain quite the same level again and struggle with it for decades. Either way, it’s no small thing to get a group together and bring it to the point of putting out a first long-player, and that accomplishment in itself, regardless of the results, is worth highlighting.

No doubt I’ve left a few excellent offerings out. I hope you’ll let me know in the comments what debut albums landed hardest with you in 2015. In any case, thanks for reading.

 

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Sacri Monti, Sacri Monti: Slipping from the Day

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on July 20th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

sacri-monti-sacri-monti

[Please press play above to hear a full stream of Sacri Monti’s Sacri Monti, which is out July 24 on Tee Pee. Preorders are available here. Thanks to the label, PR and band for allowing me to host the album.]

SoCal five-piece Sacri Monti traffic in liquefied kosmiche bliss. The natural word to follow that is “exclusively,” but that’s not quite true in this case, as it would indicate a single-mindedness that neither they nor their self-titled six-track/43-minute Tee Pee Records full-length debut actually possess, the album instead working in a natural-flowing, bright toned spectrum of guitar-driven, organ-laced classic heavy psych, six-stringers Brenden Dellar (also vocals) and Dylan Donavon, Evan Wenskay (organ, synth, Echoplex), bassist Anthony Meier (also of Radio Moscow) and drummer Thomas Dibenedetto (also of JOY) touching on progressive ideas and methods without going full-on krautrock noodle or losing their sense of groove, which remains paramount through the initial shuffle of “Staggered in Lies” and the harder-hitting swing of “Glowing Grey” in the 14-minute one-two punch that leads off.

The established track record of their rhythm section should speak for itself, but it’s worth pointing out that as is the case in the best of heavy psych scenarios, it’s the drums and the bass anchoring the bulk of this material, the especially memorable “Slipping from the Day” seeming that much dreamier because of the solid foundation from which it spreads itself out. Dellar, Donavon and Wenskay enact an immersive swirl on “Staggered in Lies” and vibe remains prevalent throughout the cuts that follow, Sacri Monti‘s Sacri Monti kaleidoscoping through a wash of fuzzy distortion that seems to revel in the chaos of its own making.

Improv seems to play pretty heavily into the band’s methodology, so it’s not really such a surprise that “Slipping from the Day,” “Glowing Grey” and “Sitting around in a Restless Dream” would differ from the versions included on Sacri Monti‘s Demo 2014, released on tape by Under the Gun Records. “Slipping from the Day,” formerly a 12-minute jam, is here trimmed down to six and a half, and it proves a highlight toward the middle of the record, soaked in wah and centered around the repeated line, “Hold on, you’re really slipping from the day,” and variations thereupon. The psychedelic fervor Sacri Monti conjure isn’t to be understated, and it really is an album-long vibe, but far from monochromatic, “Sitting around in a Restless Dream” takes ’70s biker riffing and launches it into a stratosphere of swirling boogie, Dellar‘s voice echoing out as Wenskay seems to manipulate the Echoplex for further looped intricacy — just in case things weren’t freaked out enough.

sacri monti (Photo by Dana Trippe)

At just over five minutes, “Sitting around in a Restless Dream” is the shortest of the six cuts, but it packs plenty of space into that time and one has the feeling that on any given night Sacri Monti happen to play it, it might range much further. The subsequent “Ancient Seas and Majesties” brings a turn that pushes the guitar forward, finding a middle ground between the otherworldly mastery of “Slipping from the Day” and the earthier “Staggered in Lies,” the organ seeming to follow the vocals as much as it sets matches step with the bass and drums and adds to the melody proffered by the guitar. In short, it’s everywhere, and it works much to the advantage of the song and the album as a whole.

If you thought by the time you got there that Sacri Monti had no more tricks up their collective sleeve, the languid, bluesy initialization of “Sacri Monti” serves as a swift correction, unfolding gracefully over the course of its first two-plus minutes with a building wave of keys and guitars, the latter introducing the next movement’s riff at 2:40 into the total 12-minute run. It’s mostly instrumental, which is fitting since the band have toyed with structures throughout, but when the vocals do arrive in the second half of the song one can’t help but be reminded of some of Hypnos 69‘s proggy triumphs, and Sacri Monti seem to be working form a similar base of influences in their finale.

As the song comes to its head — hypnosis long since enacted on the listener — and spends its last minute or so wrapping up, one can’t help but hope that the fivesome continue to explore that side of their sound, and begin to mold energy as readily as they do volume, resulting in a shift of atmospherics no less molten than the overarching affect of their debut. As it stands, Sacri Monti is an exciting opening salvo from an act whose promise feels written into each of its jams, and whose balance between songcraft and improvisation serves as an immediately distinguishing factor amid an increasingly crowded Southern Californian heavy psych scene.

The way their songs play out here, they’d almost have a harder time not sounding like themselves, since so much of what they do is based around the forming chemistry of their lineup that one hopes will continue to grow the more time they spend on stage. How much that will happen owing to members’ obligations elsewhere, I don’t know, but if Sacri Monti‘s debut is an alert to the lysergic converted of a pursuit under way, it’s one that well earns any and all attention paid.

Preorder Sacri Monti

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Sacri Monti on Instagram

Tee Pee Records

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audiObelisk Transmission 049

Posted in Podcasts on June 22nd, 2015 by JJ Koczan

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Not that it doesn’t have its super-heavy side as well, what with the High on Fire, the Church and here and there among the others, but this one got way psychedelic way quick. To be perfectly honest, that’s where my head has been at in terms of what I’ve been listening to: more swirl, less churn, more wah, less crunch. No shortage of tonal fuzz or presence here — I think you’ll dig the spaciousness in Brother/Ghost and the ultra-West Coast groove Sacri Monti make their own — it just trips out. And even Church has its psych flourish, which from where I sit only makes it more devastating.

Maybe it’s the heat of summer getting to me — that haze of humidity that settles over the Northeast each June and doesn’t leave until September — but whatever the case, strap in, because this one is a trip just about the whole way through. Once Ecstatic Vision take hold with their peculiar brand of bliss, it only keeps spreading wider until finally collapsing in on itself. I hope you dig some of the turns as it makes its way outward. I think it holds up well for something so molten:

First Hour:
0:00:00 The Heavy Eyes, “Somniloquy” from VA, Kozmik Artifactz Home of the Good Sounds Vol. 2
0:02:35 High on Fire, “Carcosa” from Luminiferous
0:09:46 Ecstatic Vision, “Don’t Kill the Vibe” from Sonic Praise
0:14:46 Brother/Ghost, “Freedom” from Buried
0:19:57 Merchant, “Seismic” from Seismic Digital Single
0:29:28 Make, “The Immortal” from The Golden Veil
0:36:29 Sisters of Your Sunshine Vapor, “Girl of a Thousand Voices” from Desert Brain
0:40:27 Glowsun, “Flower of Mist” from Beyond the Wall of Time
0:47:27 Mount Hush, “The Day She Stole the Sun” from Low and Behold!
0:55:05 Sacri Monti, “Slipping from the Day” from Sacri Monti

Second Hour:
1:01:22 Krautzone, “Spiritual Retreat Part 1” from Spiritual Retreat
1:24:05 Ohhms, “Dawn of the Swarm” from Cold
1:38:29 Church, “Dawning” from Unanswered Hymns

Total running time: 1:57:44

 

Thank you for listening.

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Sacri Monti to Release Self-Titled Debut on Tee Pee Records in July

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 28th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

SACRI MONTI (Photo by Dana Trippe)

This one’s kind of a no-brainer. West Coast heavy psych on Tee Pee Records with Radio Moscow‘s bassist and Joy‘s drummer. Duh. I feel like the challenge for Sacri Monti isn’t going so much to be kicking ass — their Demo 2014, from which you can hear “Sitting Around in a Restless Dream” below, showed them as ready and willing to do that — but distinguishing themselves from the surrounding hordes from the San Diego area who also dip into some trippy, weighted sonics. Or, you know, if they wanted to not worry about it and just jam out, I’d probably take that too. If you feel like you wanna go space trucking, these guys sound like they do it every day.

To the PR wire:

sacri monti sacri monti

SACRI MONTI to Release Self-Titled Debut LP July 24

Smoking San Diego Quintet Signs to Tee Pee Records

Encinitas, CA psychedelic heavy rock champions SACRI MONTI have signed to NYC’s Tee Pee Records. The five-piece, which features drummer Thomas Dibenedetto of JOY and Radio Moscow bassist Anthony Meier in its ranks, will drop its self-titled debut on July 24. Boasting a sound best described as “a mix of early 70’s underground hard rock, with psychedelic and krautrock elements”, SACRI MONTI joins a blooming Tee Pee roster that includes fellow San Diego associates Harsh Toke, JOY and the genre’s founding fathers, Earthless.

Roughly translated as “Sacred Mountains”, SACRI MONTI blazes a scorching trail of superb shredding and smoldering riff-o-rama on their impending debut. The record is a searing smorgasbord of muscular rock that boils ’70s guitar rock down to its purest essence while simultaneously skyrocketing a pathway towards the future of molten heavy psych. Fingers bleed, eardrums implode and craniums collapse when SACRI MONTI cranks up its bitchin’, blistering buzz. Tune in, turn it up and BURN!!

Track listing:

1.) Staggered in Lies
2.) Glowing Grey
3.) Slipping from the Day
4.) Sitting Around in a Restless Dream
5.) Ancient Seas and Majesties
6.) Sacri Monti

SACRI MONTI is Brenden Dellar (Guitar), Dylan Donavon (Guitar), Anthony Meier (Bass), Evan Wenskay (Organ, Synth, Echoplex) and Thomas Dibenedetto (Drums).

https://www.facebook.com/sacrimontiband
https://instagram.com/Sacri_Monti_Band/
http://teepeerecords.com/

Sacri Monti, “Sitting around in a Restless Dream” from Demo 2014

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