The Obelisk Radio Adds: REZN, The Fërtility Cült, Cosmic Fall, Oceanwake, Jenzeits

Posted in Radio on March 14th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk radio cavum

Granted, we’re still running on the backup server, but it’s been a couple weeks at this point anyway, so it’s time for a new round of adds to The Obelisk Radio. Some of this stuff is brand new, some isn’t out yet, and some is older, so it’s a pretty decent mix on that front, and between REZN, The Fërtility Cült and Cosmic Fall, I certainly think we’ve got heavy psychedelia covered. Fortunately there’s the longform doom extremity of Oceanwake and the kraut-worship electronics of Jenzeits (also longform, as it happens) to offer some balance, lest we go drifting off into the universe never to be heard from again. Can’t have that happening.

Before we dig in, thanks to Slevin as ever for his diligent work in keeping the Radio afloat. He’s got a drive recovery running now that will hopefully bring back everything that was there before. It’s been a whole thing, but progress is being made and I appreciate him tossing this stuff in with the backup material in the interim. Thanks to you as well for reading and listening.

The Obelisk Radio Adds for March 14, 2017:

REZN, Let it Burn

rezn-let-it-burn

All-caps Chicago-based newcomers REZN make their deceptively ambitious debut with Let it Burn, a self-released 10-songer checking in at a willfully sprawling 59 minutes that blends psychedelic drift, grunge fuckall and neo-stoner fuzz consumption to welcome effect. One gets shades of Mars Red Sky from opener “Relax,” but later doomer cuts like the blown-out cosmic smash of “Harvest the Void” or the rolling “Fall into the Sky” ensures the three-piece of bassist/vocalist Phil Cangelosi, drummer Patrick Dunn and guitarist/vocalist Rob McWilliams are working on their own wavelength, and flourish of sitar from McWilliams and Dunn on the dynamic raga-infused “Rezurrection,” as well as Dunn‘s percussion and Spencer Ouellette‘s modular synth in the two-minute interlude “Pipe Dream” that leads into the initial spoken sample of the Dead Meadow-style fuzzer “The Creature” only add further checked-out-of-life charm to the offering as a whole. “Relax” and “Wake” at the outset speak to some impulse on the part of the band to tie their material together, but that comes through even more as “The Creature” transitions into “Fall into the Sky” and the suitably-spacewalking “Orbit” leads to the noisy start of rumble-laden closer “Astral Sage” later on. REZN leave themselves room to grow into their approach in moments like these, and pieces like “Harvest the Void,” “The Creature” and “Wake” certainly speak to a memorable songwriting process in development, but Let it Burn already shows them a potent brew of weighted lysergics.

REZN on Thee Facebooks

REZN on Bandcamp

 

The Fërtility Cült, A Forest of Kings

the-fertility-cult-a-forest-of-kings

Nestled into the heavy hotbed of Tampere, Finland, The Fërtility Cült continue their progressive push into reverb-laden heft with late-2016’s A Forest of Kings, their third long-player behind 2013’s Heavenly Bodies and their 2011 debut, Eschatology (review here). In an admirably crowded scene, the five-piece are distinguished for their tonal breadth, use-not-overuse of echo-laden saxophone and organ and general willingness to meander without giving up an underlying principal of craft or direction. All of this is on display in the A Forest of Kings opener “Blood of Kings,” but the highlight of the album has to be the centerpiece “The City on the Edge of Forever” (taking its name from the highlight episode of the original Star Trek, written by Harlan Ellison), which successfully fuses jazzy rhythm with a patient, psychedelic execution to the sacrifice of neither. Also the longest inclusion at 10:58, it’s the umlaut-happy troupe’s most resonant melody and most singularly progressive stretch, but neither will I take away from the nod of “God of Rain,” which follows, or the manner in which the apex shuffle of closer “Cycles of Time” unfurls itself from the song’s initial subdued verses. Heady vibe throughout the total 46 minutes, as one might expect, but The Fërtility Cült‘s third is less self-indulgent than it might superficially seem, and their varied arrangements never fail to service what really matters to them, which of course is the material itself rather than the exercise of playing it. Rich and graceful when it wants to be, A Forest of Kings hones an endearing landscape without getting lost in it.

The Fërtility Cült on Thee Facebooks

The Fërtility Cült on Bandcamp

 

Cosmic Fall, Kick out the Jams

cosmic-fall-kick-out-the-jams

Mostly-instrumentalist trio Cosmic Fall — based in Berlin and comprised of guitarist/vocalist Mathias, bassist Klaus and drummer Daniel — formed in 2016 and worked quickly to turn around First Fall (discussed here), their first full-length of improv-based works. Kick out the Jams arrives with a fittingly quick turnaround and brings forth seven new pieces in its digital form, topping 93 minutes in its total space-bound push. More impressive than the quantity of the work — though I won’t take away from the sprawling appeal (or the delightful, influence-on-our-sleeve pun in the title) of the 21-minute “Earthfull” or 19-minute opener “Saturn Highway” — is the chemistry that seems to have immediately found root in Cosmic Fall‘s sound. They take a forward step in these tracks, to be sure, and there are more steps to be taken — a band like this, in the best case scenario, does not stop progressing, their material only comes to unfold more as a musical conversation between old friends; see Electric Moon — but as Kick out the Jams plays through its extended, immersive runtime, cuts like “Interstellar Junction” and “Stairway Jam” feel especially bold in how open they are in allowing the listener to hear that process happening. Songs are varyingly active — only “White Stone” (4:42) is under 11 minutes long — and allow for Mathias to lead the way into the spaciousness of “Purple Weed” while Daniel‘s toms propel “Cosmic Conclusion” at the album’s finish, but the core message behind Cosmic Fall less than a year into their tenure is one of ambition and the band’s deep motivation to develop the already palpable dynamic they have going. One can only look forward to hearing where their adventures take them and, indeed, where they take their audience.

Cosmic Fall on Thee Facebooks

Cosmic Fall on Bandcamp

 

Oceanwake, Earthen

oceanwake-earthen

With Earthen on ViciSolum Records, Finnish progressive death-doomers Oceanwake complete a trilogy that began on their 2013 debut Kingdom and had its second installment with 2015’s Sunless (review here). I’m not entirely sure what the overarching theme tying the releases together is — perhaps hearing the debut would help, but it’s not easily tracked down — but Earthen expounds on the blend of extremity, poise and emotional resonance the Luvia five-piece proffered their last time out, arriving as two massive tracks, opener “A Storm Sermon” (21:09) and closer “In Amidst the Silent Thrones” (24:04), both of which work in movements that shift between crushing, grueling doom and gorgeous, airy melodies. A depth of emotionalism isn’t necessarily anything new in the style — countrymen from Skepticism to Swallow the Sun have been morose for a long time — but what Oceanwake bring is a fluidity in their transitions and a sense of purpose to their songwriting beyond the usual miseries. Thus, like Sunless before it, Earthen emerges to bring significant character to familiar elements, drifting at times and explosive at others, but always under complete control, never wandering without a reason, and basking in low end that has to be heard to be believed. Earthen might fly under a lot of radars, but it shouldn’t be missed by those with an affinity for the extreme ends of doom. One hopes the now-completed trilogy project won’t be the sum total Oceanwake‘s output together.

Oceanwake on Thee Facebooks

ViciSolum Records on Bandcamp

 

Jenzeits, Jenzeits Cosmic Universe

Jenzeits-Cosmic-Universe

Jenzeits may be a new incarnation, but the project stems from a familiar source. Relocated from North Carolina to San Francisco — also, apparently, to the cosmos itself — multi-instrumentalist Chad Davis (Hour of 13SetAnuThe Sabbathian, etc.) offers up two massive synthesized soundscapes on Jenzeits Cosmic Universe, as both “Alpha” (25:00) and “Omega” (21:53) channel krautrock exploration and progressive indulgence. A due amount of the release is given to hypnotics, as one might expect — that is, it’s an easy one to put on and zone out — but Davis isn’t without some sense of motion either as he makes his way through “Alpha” and the rightfully more foreboding “Omega,” the latter delving into a movement of key runs backed by wind swirl calling to mind any number of horror and/or retro-horror soundtracks, and even minor shifts in the elements at work at any given moment become more pronounced in the grand context of the whole work. Davis usually has his hands in a number of outfits (and a number of genres) at any given time — an Hour of 13 resurgence is pending, for example — but Jenzeits‘ debut is engaging in its textures and feels like a journey just beginning.

Jenzeits on Thee Facebooks

Jenzeits on Bandcamp

More to come as we get The Obelisk Radio back up and running at full capacity. I’ve purchased a new hard drive toward that end, so we’ll have even more room to work with as well. Will update when there’s an update.

Till then, thanks again for reading and listening.

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Six Organs of Admittance Post “Adoration Song” Video; US Tour on Now

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 8th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

six-organs-of-admittance-adoration-song

Ben Chasny has spent the better part of the last week on the road along the West Coast supporting the latest outing from Six Organs of Admittance, Burning the Threshold (review here), which is out now on Drag City. He’ll have more tour dates starting at the end of this month and rolling into April along the Eastern Seaboard and into the Midwest, and to further mark the album’s arrival, he has a new video for the track “Adoration Song” directed by Elisa Ambrogio that mirrors the song’s bright and pastoral melodic flow with ambient visuals, some psychedelic experimentation, and perhaps most crucially, dogs.

Burning the Threshold is something of a repatriation for Chasny in how Six Organs of Admittance works following 2015’s Hexadic (review here) and 2016’s Hexadic II, both of which were constructed using the titular Hexadic system of songwriting. One can hear echoes of the project’s past in “Adoration Song,” in the blend of folkish traditionalism and psych nuance, and of course Chasny‘s voice owns the melody as few could hope to, but the album could hardly be called a backward step. Six Organs of Admittance has always approached a given work with a sense of intent — even if that intent is no intent — and the latest offering proves no different. One gets the sense of a cleaning house in terms of material, and there’s a corresponding push toward the far-out that later pieces like “Taken by Ascent” unfurl toward colorful and immersive splendors.

“Adoration Song,” the second of the nine tracks on Burning the Threshold, is somewhat humble by comparison, but it’s also one of the record’s most memorable inclusions, proving how few frills are needed for raw songcraft at its best to make a lasting impression.

Tour dates and more info off the PR wire follows the clip below.

Please enjoy:

Six Organs of Admittance, “Adoration Song” official video

On the cusp of two full decades of music-making, Six Organs of Admittance has ridden winds and waves spanning passion and logic and myth. The brand-new full length, Burning the Threshold, exudes a warmth not always found in Ben Chasny’s music – but that’s how life works, taking us up and down over time. Ben’s records have charted that passage, making his arrival at this seemingly sweet moment a special pleasure, and as always, a magic and musical one as well. It is now available for all to hear via vinyl, CD, cassette and digital files. What more can Ben Chasny do? Well, how about a brand new music video to unveil in anticipation of his tour? Done!

For the first music video and third single from Burning The Threshold, “Adoration Song” enervates and elevates ones mind, with images of the raw majesty of nature and haunting reminders of the unknowable. Directed by Elisa Ambrogio, the sun hangs over the moss and lichen, the cliffs and sandy shores of wintery northern California. Ben’s melody and lyrics work as layers with the sharp focus and gauzy allegorical bent of the video, which features Ben as elephant man, a remote wanderer fearful of the world around him, until he removes his sheath, obtains the third eye and rises up, to become a part of the natural world, moving forward with two sets of footprints in the sand behind him.

600A ON TOUR
08/03/17 Wed in San Diego, CA at Soda Bar
23-26/03/17 in Knoxville, TN at Big Ears Festival
28/03/17 Tue in Atlanta, GA at The Earl
29/03/17 Wed in Asheville, NC at Mothlight
30/03/17 Thu in Raleigh, NC at Kings
31/03/17 Fri in Washington, DC at DC9
01/04/17 Sat in Brooklyn, NY at Union Pool
02/04/17 Sun in Boston, MA at Great Scott
03/04/17 Mon in Portland, ME at Space Gallery
05/04/17 Wed in Philadelphia, PA at Johnny Brenda’s
06/04/17 Thu in Pittsburgh, PA at Club Cafe
07/04/17 Fri in Cleveland, OH at Beachland Tavern
08/04/17 Sat in Detroit, MI at Third Man Records
09/04/17 Sun in Chicago, IL at Empty Bottle
10/04/17 Mon in Minneapolis, MN at 7th St. Entry
12/04/17 Wed in Milwaukee, WI at Collectivo Coffee
14/04/17 Fri in St. Louis, MO at Duck Room at Blueberry Hill
15/04/17 Sat in Louisville, KY at Zanzabar

Six Organs of Admittance website

Six Organs of Admittance on Twitter

Six Organs of Admittance at Drag City

Drag City webstore

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Kandodo McBain, Lost Chants/Last Chance: Unsafe at any Speed

Posted in Reviews on February 24th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

kandodo-mcbain-lost-chants-last-chance

It’s an exceedingly clever idea, but that wouldn’t matter in the slightest were the execution not so utterly brilliant. As the phonetics of the title indicate, Lost Chants/Last Chance works strongly off ideas of duality. The late-2016 Rooster Rock offering from Kandodo McBain, pairs Kandodo3 — an offshoot of UK psych legends The Heads featuring guitarist Simon Price (who also operates solo under the moniker Kandodo), bassist Hugo Morgan and drummer Wayne Maskell from that band with guitarist John McBain, formerly of Monster Magnet and Wellwater Conspiracy. These two parties, each a psychedelic powerhouse on their own, come together across two sets of tracks recorded in two separate places — Bristol and San Francisco — and offer two distinct vibes on the 2CD/2LP Lost Chants/Last Chance by changing nothing more than the playing speed of the songs themselves.

To explain, if you get the Lost Chants/Last Chance CD, it comes with two discs — one with five songs at 45RPM speed, and a second with the same songs at 33RPM speed. The digital version on the Kandodo Bandcamp changes the names so that “Megladon’t” becomes “Megladon’t Ever” and “Chant of the Ever Circling Last Vulture” becomes “Chant of the Ever so Slowly Circling Last Vulture,” etc., but in runtime as well as mood, Lost Chants/Last Chance emphasizes the role that tempo plays in a given song’s feel while offering — at both speeds — wonderfully immersive, hypnotic psychedelic drift as only true masters of the form can provide. Front to back across the 10-track entirety, it tops an unmanageable two hours and 10 minutes, but whether listening in a single go, breaking it in half by material-version, or however else one might want to take it on — part of the joy of the thing is its utter amorphousness — Lost Chants/Last Chance lives up to being about more than just its conceptual objective in terms of showcasing the instrumental dynamic between these players, and thereby becomes all the more special.

Resonance abounds from the initial drifting guitar figure that begins “Blowed Out” — which later becomes “Really Blown Out,” naturally — and continues on from there. I tend to use words like “molten,” “fluid,” liquefied,” and so on to describe the sonic flow of heavy psychedelia. Tracks like “Blowed Out,” which earns immediate points for being the longest on Lost Chants/Last Chance at 15:43 in its 45RPM version as well as the opener, are the reason why. Even in its faster incarnation, it holds a languid spirit well past the 10-minute mark, keys adding melodic flourish to an anchoring guitar line that maintains its presence throughout and sets up a key factor in Kandodo McBain‘s execution: blending memorable instrumental hooks with ultra-expansive jamming. Its back third changes up the drums to a more tense use of toms, but the ending finds peace in guitars intertwining gorgeously. This sets up the pair of seven-minute slabs “Holy Syke” and “Megladon’t,” the former of which continues the mellotron-ic flow initially only to find spacier forward thrust at about 90 seconds in, setting up a build that becomes noisier — or is it “blowed out?” — as it moves through crafting another somehow-catchy impression, and the latter which relies on Maskell‘s thudding toms as the foundation for accompanying bass bounce and resonant guitar noodling.

What will seem to be the song most affected by the change in playing speed, “Megladon’t” brings about push without insistence and showcases an extended guitar lead as it heads through its midsection, turning shortly after five minutes in toward a fuzzier riff around which the four-piece will congregate until the fadeout brings on “Chant of the Ever Circling Last Vulture,” a 13-minute unfurling with an immediately space-rocking vibe — like Hawkwind on a preflight countdown — that holds percussive tension beneath swirling effects and key work.

Even after the drums fade down in the mix — McBain mixed and mastered — Morgan‘s bassline holds steady, and when Maskell returns shortly before the 10-minute mark, it gives solid ground beneath all that float from Price and McBain, a righteous turn that, if it came from a stage, would almost certainly prompt applause. On record, an agreeing nod will likely do. Siren loops from some kind of tonal submarine arrive late and set in motion the hum and fade-in of “Pelagic Blue Haze,” the 11:57 closer of the 45RPM segment, the patient unfolding of which offers something of a transition for those about to embark on the slower incarnations of these same tracks. It’s fair play that Kandodo McBain would save their most willfully hypnotic cut for last, but around 7:45, when the drums cut out, they shift into guitar drones and sort of residual melodies with just a hint of noise, as if to remind there’s more to come.

And so there is. Of course, with the slower playing speed, Lost Chants/Last Chance becomes about a third longer at 33RPM, going from 55:41 to 1:15:13. The shift also puts “Really Blown Out” over the 20-minute mark. Time, however, stops mattering by about 30 seconds in, and as so much of the groove presented earlier will, “Really Blown Out”‘s flow seems all the more graceful in its more downtempo showing. I don’t know if the 33RPM versions are mixed differently, but the mellotron reads as more of a forward presence in the opener, and the resulting immersion is a delightful dreamstate that continues as “Holiest Syke” enacts a familiar but modified push just before it hits two minutes. Both it and “Megladon’t Ever,” which on the 45RPM disc were relatively quick compared to their surroundings, benefit from the tempo change, but again, “Megladon’t Ever” might be the single piece most changed by the swap to 33RPM. Maskell‘s drums, particularly the steady hits of ride cymbal, emerge with a ritualized sensibility one only hears in hindsight on “Megladon’t” proper. That makes the song’s shift into noise all the more of a march to oblivion and nothing short of glorious for that, and between “Chant of the Ever so Slowly Circling Last Vulture” at 17:53 and “Deep Blue Pelagic Haze” at 16:09, the final two cuts on Lost Chants/Last Chance comprise an album unto themselves.

Along with the somewhat more grueling stomp of toms, the underlying drone in “Chant of the Ever so Slowly Circling Last Vulture” is a defining factor, but really, if you’re not lost in what Kandodo McBain are doing at this point, heavy psych might not be your thing. The penultimate slab oozes into and through a wash of noise and those same sirens — only slower — lead into the more foreboding-sounding drone that starts “Deep Blue Pelagic Haze.” It’s interesting to note that in changing the titles between the 45RPM and the 33RPM versions, Kandodo McBain emphasize an idea of “more.” Granted the tracks are longer inherently, as noted, but it goes further than that as well in there being an increased expressiveness that comes through. One can hear it in the sweet guitar figures of “Deep Blue Pelagic Haze,” which bring the entire project full circle in the otherworldly but memorable vibe they create, as well as in Maskell‘s hi-hat — even that becomes part of the overarching wash. A long trail into the titular haze and a likewise long fadeout follow, capping Lost Chants/Last Chance with the sense of having journeyed to another plane, arrived there, and departed again for someplace yet to be discovered. It is a trance that lasts even after the actual audio stops, and so seems fair to call genuinely affecting.

One of the aspects that most stands out about Lost Chants/Last Chance when viewed from some measure of distance, is that if Kandodo McBain had chosen to release either of the 45RPM or 33RPM versions of these tracks on their own, one would hardly be able to sort out which were the originals. That is, if one heard the “Megladon’t Ever” without having heard “Megladon’t” before it, the likelihood of their going, “This sounds like the slowed-down version of another track” is just about nil. Both listening experiences are believable, and each creates its own soundscape and sets its own course using the same music, and while it’s an experiment that just about everybody with a turntable has tried at one point or another in their lives, to put out a full-length album of jams that specifically promotes the change in rotation speed is admirably bold, and Kandodo McBain pull it off entirely through the scope and strength of the material itself, rather than just the novelty of the initial exercise. Cool concept, yes, but it’s the songs that make all the difference.

Kandodo McBain, Lost Chants/Last Chance (2016)

Kandodo on Thee Facebooks

Kandodo on Bandcamp

Kandodo McBain at Creepy Crawl Records

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Glitter Wizard Announce European Tour Starting April 8

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 17th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Hints were dropped last fall of a return trio to Europe from San Francisco’s Glitter Wizard to herald the arrival of their Hollow Earth Tour full-length and alliance with Italian label Heavy Psych Sounds, and beginning April 8 on the first of several Italian dates, that stint will begin. Its trajectory leads the Californians toward a closeout set at Desertfest Berlin 2017, at which point they’ll have been on the road for three weeks solid, playing in the aforementioned Italy as well as France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Belgium. I say or at least think this about nearly every European tour I see — BECAUSE I’D VERY MUCH LIKE TO TOUR EUROPE, THANK YOU — but it looks like a damn good time.

You’ll find the dates below, snagged from Heavy Psych Sounds on the social medias with all good intentions.

Dig:

glitter wizard european tour

Glitter Wizard – European Tour April 2017

HEAVY PSYCH SOUNDS Records & Booking is very proud to announce the European dates for GLITTER WIZARD

The band will be on tour promoting their latest album “Hollow Earth Tour.”

The tour will feature as last date the mighty Desertfest 2017!!

08.04.2017 IT Pescara-Scumm
09.04.2017 IT Castel D Ario-Hostaria
10.04.2017 IT Zerobranco-Altroquando
11.04.2017 IT Trieste-Tetris
12.04.2017 IT Erba-Centrale Rock
13.04.2017 IT Parma Tba
14.04.2017 FR Eisenheim-Woodstock Guitar Shop
15.04.2017 CH Ins-Schuxenhouse
16.04.2017 CH Olten-Coq D’Or
17.04.2017 DE Karlsrhue-Akk
18.04.2017 BE Liege-La Zone
19.04.2017 DE Stuttgart-Goldmarks
20.04.2017 AT Innsbruck-Pmk
21.04.2017 AT Bludenz-Villa K
22.04.2017 IT Caldaro-Kuba
23.04.2017 DE Freiburg-White Rabbit
24.04.2017 CH Basel-Swartze Erle
25.04.2017 AT Salzburg-Rockhouse
26.04.2017 CH St Gallen-Rumpeltum
27.04.2017 DE Cottbus-Zum Faulen August
28.04.2017 DE Erfurt-Tiko
29.04.2017 DE Berlin-Desert Fest

Glitter Wizard:
WENDY STONEHENGE: “Master of Ceremonies,” vocals / flute / lyrics / piano
LORFIN TERRAFOR: “Minister of defense,” guitar / vocals / piano / percussion / bong
KANDI MOON: “Ambassador to Hollow Earth,” bass / vocals / acoustic & electric guitar / piano
FANCY CYMBALLS: “Minister of Transportation,” drums / tecate
DOUG GRAVES: “Minister of Records,” keys / synth / organ / violin / vocals

https://glitterwizard.bandcamp.com/
http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Glitter-Wizard/77619029508
https://www.facebook.com/HEAVYPSYCHSOUNDS
http://www.heavypsychsounds.com/

Glitter Wizard, Hollow Earth Tour (2016)

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Six Organs of Admittance, Burning the Threshold: A Return from the Hexadic

Posted in Reviews on February 13th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

six organs of admittance burning the threshold

Considering how much of Ben Chasny‘s approach in the nearly 20 years he’s operated under the banner of Six Organs of Admittance has been experimental — from solo-crafted noise drones to full-band psychedelic blowouts on various albums, limited releases, one-off collaborations, and so on — it doesn’t seem fair to think of his latest outing, Burning the Threshold, as some kind of “return to roots,” but it does represent a marked realignment of his sound. Burning the Threshold arrives via Drag City as the follow-up to 2015’s Hexadic (review here) and 2016’s Hexadic II, which served as a vehicle for a complex, mathematical, somewhat opaque (to my caveman brain) method of composition of Chasny‘s own devising — he wrote a book about it as well — and were arguably his most progressive and conceptual offerings the guitarist also known for Comets on FireRangdaAugust Born, and so on, has put forth.

Unsurprisingly, as Chasny moves away from the Hexadic system at least for the time being and shifts toward a more straightforward songwriting style, his material seems far less angular and far more accessible. At an unassuming nine tracks/40 minutes, Burning the Threshold breathes out richly melodic folk, tinged with psychedelia particularly on “Taken by Ascent” in a way that pieces like “Close to the Sky” from 2012’s Ascent (review here), or the tense title-track of 2007’s Shelter from the Ash have dared to be — the album between, 2009’s Luminous Night, looked more toward Easternisms for its psych explorations, when it wasn’t droning out — including arrangements of drums, bass and guitar, but the core of Six Organs of Admittance is Chasny as the auteur.

Where the Hexadic records were more of a display for the system itself — not to say they weren’t expressive, but in a different manner — Burning the Threshold reemphasizes the human such that pieces like “Under Fixed Stars” or the instrumental “Around the Axis” in the album’s midsection feel burn of folk traditions despite remaining forward thinking. If that isn’t the definition of “neo-folk,” it should be, but whatever one calls it, the execution is Chasny‘s own and will be immediately recognizable as such to those who’ve followed him from releases like the aforementioned Shelter from the Ash or the earlier The Sun Awakens (2006), School of the Flower (2005) and Compathia (2003). He’s not recreating those sounds, varied as they were, but moving ahead with perhaps a similar foundation. The sweetness of opener “Things as They Are” comes across as a marked statement of intent; immediately Burning the Threshold is a return to reality, even with its chorus about angels and moral portrait of the universe.

six organs of admittance (Photo-by-Elisa-Ambrogio)

Followed by “Adoration Song,” which along with gorgeous layers of self-harmonized singing subtly introduces backing vocals, electric guitar, bass and drums that will be pivotal later on “Taken by Ascent,” the beginning of the record is as wonderfully immersive as only a sigh of relief can be. As he guides listeners through the tracklist, the short, acoustic-only instrumental piece “Reservoir” leading to the aforementioned, more fleshed out pairing of “Under Fixed Stars” and “Around the Axis,” Chasny seems to bask in the brightness he’s creating, such that “Adoration Song” and “Under Fixed Stars” exude patience bordering on the meditative; an aural stop for rose-smelling, maybe. Like the best of his work and others still to come here as well, these songs are progressive and affecting as well, familiar and strikingly new, and as the bouncing bassline of “Around the Axis” fills the space beneath the acoustic guitar with a tonal warmth not to be understated, Six Organs of Admittance sounds very much like a project come home to find its footing.

Such evocation is nothing new for Chasny, and I’ll allow my interpretation could be way off — certainly happened before — but even as the buzz of “Taken by Ascent” pushes outward into a standout hook with Chasny joined on vocals by Hayley Fohr, Chris Corsano on drums and Cooper Crain, breaking at almost exactly its midpoint and moving into a smooth instrumental psych-jam (again, the low end resonates), there seems to be a search for serenity happening. That continues as “Threshold of Light,” which is as close as we get to a title-track here, picks up with its swirling vocal effects and more earthbound acoustic figure, both vaguely ritualized. The second half of “Taken by Ascent” is hypnotic enough that just about any transition away from it would be jarring, but “Threshold of Light” presents a calm psychedelic folk, with vocals playing forward lines off chants and repetition that underscore a spiritual sensibility. If this indeed is the threshold that’s burning, one is left to wonder why as the keyboard flourish arrives late in a kind of soothing revelation, but not having it explained outright seems to fit with the notion the album originally proffered: it’s things as they are.

A resurgent bounce in the finger-plucked instrumental “St. Eustace” makes that track the third in a pastoral trilogy — arranged from shortest to longest — with “Reservoir” and “Around the Axis,” while the title references the Roman saint whose trials included the loss of his children to wolves and lions and being burned alive in a bronze statue. Hardly as uplifting as the redemption one hears in Chasny‘s guitar, but the closer, “Reflection” keeps to the theme in pleading, “Please, please peace,” amid repetitions of “Dull, abstract aching…” and so on atop wistful lines of acoustic strum and airy electrified notes. If one looks at Burning the Threshold as two vinyl sides with the split occurring between “Around the Axis” and “Taken by Ascent” — the latter leading off side B — then the second half seems to dig into more personal territory compared to “Things as They Are,” which is a more external parable. This progression toward inner emotionalism gives Six Organs of Admittance‘s latest a linear trajectory despite how far-out it goes in terms of sound, and the intimacy and depth of communication that emerges from it is perhaps what ties Burning the Threshold most to the body of Chasny‘s formidable catalog, to which these songs are a welcome addition.

Six Organs of Admittance, Burning the Threshold (2017)

Six Organs of Admittance website

Six Organs of Admittance on Twitter

Drag City Records website

Drag City on Thee Facebooks

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Hornss Premiere “Manzanita” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 17th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

hornss

It’s short at about two and a half minutes, but with their new video, San Francisco-based trio Hornss seem to stake a direct claim on their desert heritage. The clip for the low-end-centric groover cut “Manzanita” was put together by guitarist/vocalist Mike Moracha, and it finds its summary moment at the very end of the track, when we see bassist/vocalist Nick Nava standing in front of an impossibly open landscape, holding his Rickenbacker aloft, possibly in an offering, possibly as his means of conquer. Hard to know which, but in the brief span of the video, which features a swath of manipulated footage of the three-piece of Moracha, Nava and drummer Bil Bowman hanging out in what one assumes is the Palm Springs area, Hornss engage a desert vibe in a manner fitting for the song itself, which takes its name from the manzanita plant that grows there.

Hornss released their second album, Telepath (review here), last year via STB Records and Ripple Music. The answer back to 2014’s No Blood No Sympathy (review here), it furthered the sometimes-raw-and-punkish/sometimes-rolling-and-nodding spirit of the first outing while keeping to an overarching thrust that was without pretense and full in its sound, despite coming across as organic to a live experience. Shit was heavy, in other words. What it wasn’t, necessarily, was desert rock in the way one commonly thinks of languid fuzz or post-Kyuss riffery. Nonetheless, as Moracha and Nava both trace their roots back to the desert band Solarfeast — they’re also featured in the Lo Sound Desert documentary (review here); Bowman‘s path to Hornss seems to have been more roundabout — they don’t by any means owe some explanation for why they’re there (could’ve been seeing family for all I know) or why they’d still consider that area an important element in what they do, despite currently being based in the Bay Area.

That duality — the push and pull of home — I think is something to which I think anyone who’s moved from one area to another can probably relate. We could have a whole conversation about what it means to be “from a place,” but probably better to just let Hornss explain their side of things with the video itself. Their argument is admirably concise where, rest assured, my own would not be.

This coming Saturday, Jan. 21, Hornss play Bender’s Bar and Grill in San Francisco with Fatso Jetson and BigPig. More info on that show is available at the Thee Facebooks event page listed under the video itself, which you’ll find below.

Please enjoy:

Hornss, “Manzanita” official video

HORNSS have gained a worldwide reputation among the stoner rock and doom scene, taking the stage with fellow heavy hitters such as Ufomammut, YOB, Windhand, Bang, Black Cobra, Fatso Jetson, Lord Dying, Naam and Elder. They also co-headlined a successful 2014 European tour with Vancouver’s Black Wizard.

Telepath is the follow-up to the band’s acclaimed debut album, No Blood, No Sympathy, released in 2013 on Riding Easy Records. Recorded by Tim Green (Saviours, Melvins, KARP, Comets on Fire, Hot Lunch), the guys recorded this one directly to analog tape at Green’s Louder Studios in Grass Valley, CA.

Hornss with Fatso Jetson & BigPig event page

Hornss on Thee Facebooks

Hornss on Bandcamp

Hornss at STB Records

Hornss at Ripple Music

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Six Organs of Admittance to Release Burning the Threshold Feb. 24

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 7th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

six-organs-of-admittance-photo-by-elisa-ambrogio

This is the time of year that kind of has me randomly scouring social media accounts and websites of artists I dig looking for signs of impending new music. It just so happens that I visited the Six Organs of Admittance page last week and found an update from Ben Chasny saying he’d finished work on a new record, so yeah, Six Organs was already included in my notes for the inevitable Most Anticipated of 2017 list, but it’s cool to get a name for the impending — Burning the Threshold — as well as a confirmed Feb. 24 release date through Drag City and, best of all, new audio in the form of the seven-minute “Taken by Ascent,” into which I’d encourage you to dig below. Seriously. Hit that up.

Chasny has spent the last year-plus with Six Organs of Admittance pursuing the elusive limits of his own Hexadic songwriting system, as first explored on 2015’s Hexadic (review here) and then subsequently on the complementary Hexadic II, but Burning the Threshold seems to be a return to a more grounded approach. You’ll note the acoustic foundation of “Taken by Ascent,” but that’s hardly the limit of the arrangement, which winds up working in keys, acoustic strum and leads, drums, bass, and so on, for a full-band feel that maintains the serenity of its opening even as it continues to expand into psychedelic see-you-later-ism.

Really, you should hit that up.

Art, info, tour dates and whatnot from the PR wire:

six-organs-of-admittance-burning-the-threshold

Six Organs Of Admittance announces new LP Burning The Threshold for Drag City; record release show in London

Six Organs of Admittance’s recent output has been a fascinating exercise in relinquished control, as Ben Chasny spread the word of his Hexadic system of musical composition by creating two albums according to its principles. Now, for the first time since 2012’s Ascent, Chasny is restoring his authorship of Six Organs of Admittance, and Drag City will be releasing the brand new full length record Burning The Threshold on February 24th – and to mark the occasion, there will be a special show at London’s St Pancras Old Church on 22nd of February.

As ever, a head full of ideas were driving Chasny to think and speak music as a spirituality superimposed onto a reality, with the ghosts of both whispering at each other. In the end, what sits in our listening ears is the sound of communion. Nobody plays acoustic music quite like Six Organs of Admittance, and Burning the Threshold brings a wealth of his established lightness into one of his sweetest musical meditations yet.

Ben is in a particularly expansive mood this time around, singing and playing with all the thoughts affixed to a quiver of potent melodies launching forth and arcing out through dimensions, seeking infinite space. This space radiates out from the album’s first single, “Taken By Ascent”, a seven minute plus burner that engulfs the surrounding realm with empathetic waves. Featuring resounding vocals by Hayley Fohr, polished drumming provided by Chris Corsano and flourishing keys by Cooper Crain; “Taken By Ascent” fervidly pushes Six Organs of Admittance into new and thrilling territory.

With this new music, Ben Chasny has created a potent tonic for our times. Looking at the world through clear eyes beneath a knitted brow, but with a laugh rising up from its heart, Burning the Threshold brings us a powerful draught of essence.

SIX ORGANS OF ADMITTANCE – RECORD RELEASE SHOW
Wednesday February 22nd at St. Pancras Old Church in London

SIX ORGANS OF ADMITTANCE – US TOUR
02/03/17 – Vancouver, BC at The Cobalt
03/03/17 – Seattle, WA at Fremont Abbey Arts Center
04/03/17 – Portland, OR at Bunk Bar
06/03/17 – San Francisco, CA at The Chapel
07/03/17 – Los Angeles, CA at Bootleg Bar
08/03/17 – San Diego, CA at Soda Bar
23-26/03/17 – Knoxville, TN Big Ears Festival – TBD date
28/03/17 – Atlanta, GA at The Earl
29/03/17 – Asheville, NC at Mothlight
30/03/17 – Raleigh, NC at Kings
31/03/17 – Washington, DC at DC9
01/04/17 – Brooklyn, NY at Union Pool
02/04/17 – Boston, MA at Great Scott
03/04/17 – Portland, ME at Space Gallery
05/04/17 – Philadelphia, PA at Johnny Brenda’s
06/04/17 – Pittsburgh, PA at Club Cafe
07/04/17 – Cleveland, OH at Beachland Tavern
08/04/17 – Detroit, MI at Third Man Records
09/04/17 – Chicago, IL at Empty Bottle
10/04/17 – Minneapolis, MN at 7th St. Entry
12/04/17 – Milwaukee, WI at Collectivo Coffee
14/04/17 – St. Louis, MO at Duck Room at Blueberry Hill
15/04/17 – Louisville, KY at Zanzabar

http://www.sixorgans.com/
https://twitter.com/6organs
http://www.dragcity.com/

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The Watchers Post “Sabbath Highway” Video; EP out Now

Posted in Bootleg Theater on November 15th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

the-watchers

When The Watchers announced earlier this year they had signed to Ripple Music, they did so with the release of a new video, so it’s only fitting their debut EP should arrive accompanied by one as well. “Sabbath Highway” is the opener and title-cut of the Bay Area heavy rockers’ five-tracker, and its meld of oldschool metal and West Coast-style stoner hooks could hardly make for a better introduction to the band’s straightforward and classic modus. Little need for frills when you can come up with a title like “Sabbath Highway.” Who the hell doesn’t want to drive down that? Hell, I wouldn’t even set my GPS. Just go ahead and get lost. Doesn’t matter. Take the Sabbath Highway to the 101. Good to go.

Sabbath Highway came out via Ripple on Nov. 4. On Halloween, it was announced here that The Watchers would take part in Maryland Doom Fest 2017 alongside The SkullBangBorracho and a ton of others, very vew of whom will travel as far to get to Frederick. I think Beastmaker might be the only competition in that regard, but again, it all depends which highway you take. The Watchers have made public their inention to tour around that appearance, which seems reasonable given the distance. Will keep you posted when I hear more or when/if I see dates announced before next June, when MDDF17 is set to take place.

Till then, enjoy a trip down the “Sabbath Highway” below:

The Watchers, “Sabbath Highway” official video

Gathering together an impressive cast of seasoned players with vocalist Tim Narducci and bassist Cornbread (SpiralArms, White Witch Canyon), Orchid drummer Carter Kennedy and guitarist Jeremy Von Eppic (Black Gates, The Venting Machine) The Watchers is an out-and-out super group of musicians’ musicians and a fitting addition to Ripple Music’s ever growing roster.

After peddling some killer and powerful riffs earlier in year on their Evel Knievel-inspired video for ‘Today’, the band returns with the title track from Sabbath Highway.

The Watchers:
Tim Narducci – Vocals
Jeremy Von Eppic – Guitars
Cornbread – Bass
Carter Kennedy – Drums

The Watchers on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music website

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

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