Posted in Whathaveyou on September 23rd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Well, we knew Brothers of the Sonic Cloth were going to end up somewhere. The Tad Doyle-fronted trio had finished mixing their album back in June and their long-awaited debut long-player was closer than ever, but as I understood it, part of the delay in actually getting the record out stemmed from finding a label through which to release it. Neurot handling the release goes in the if-you-gave-me-three-guesses-I’d-have-probably-gotten-it file, but that doesn’t make the news any more welcome, particularly since it means we’re actually that much closer to hearing the record.
That album, incidentally, is set for an early 2015 release. Not sure about the exact date, but the label makes it official below with some comment from Steve Von Till:
Brothers of the Sonic Cloth Sign to Neurot Recordings and Plan Long-Awaited Debut Full Length Release in Early Spring 2015
Keeping up a long-held tradition of bringing forth some of the heaviest music from the darkness of the Pacific NW, Seattle’s Tad Doyle (formerly of TAD, Hog Molly), delivers his strongest songwriting and playing with his newest band Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth. This powerful trio of musicians, with Tad on guitar/vocals, veteran bass player Peggy Doyle and drummer Dave French (The Annunaki) shall release their long-awaited debut LP in early 2015 on Neurot Recordings. Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth bring together the collective and extensive rock histories and the experience of the three members in the worlds of punk, hard rock and metal.
Steve Von Till says of the signing: “All of us at Neurot Recordings are so incredibly fired up about having the opportunity to be a part of this release. For me personally, Tad has been responsible for some of my favorite guitar driven noise of our generation not to mention the fact that it is an absolute pleasure to be working together with such great human beings. Witness the return of Tad with Brothers of the Sonic Cloth! “
We shall be revealing more album details over the coming months, as well as audio samples from the album. Stay tuned for more news soon…
Posted in Reviews on September 9th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
The headline for Earth‘s 10th album, Primitive and Deadly, will always be that it was the one where they brought back vocals. It’s inevitable. That was the story of the record even before anyone heard it. And not even just that there were vocals at all — Earth‘s last with them was 1996’s Pentastar: In the Style of Demons – but that they were bringing in guests to perform: Mark Lanegan of Screaming Trees, Queens of the Stone Age and The Mark Lanegan Band fame and Rabi Shabeen Qazi of psych rockers Rose Windows. This turnabout in methodology is made much more than novelty by the execution of the songs themselves, but even if one hasn’t heard them, interest is bound to be piqued. In fact, there’s much more to Primitive and Deadly (released, as ever, by Southern Lord) than the human voice. While sections of it are flat-out beautiful in their lush, tonally rich sprawl, guitarist/founder Dylan Carlson leading the way through the six tracks with his trademark slow rolling drone rock riffs as bassist Bill Herzog rumbles in time to Adrienne Davies‘ drums, it’s also Earth‘s heaviest offering in over 15 years and certainly since they made their return with 2005’s landmark Hex: Or Printing in the Infernal Method. That record has been the foundation point for their progression throughout the last decade, subsequent outings like 2008’s The Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull, 2010’s reinterpretation of their earliest work, A Bureaucratic Desire for Extra-Capsular Extraction (review here), and the 2011/2012 improv two-parter, Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light I (review here) and II (review here), and on a certain level it is for Primitive and Deadly as well, but as the title seems to hint, there’s a wiping-the-slate happening across these six extended tracks/49 minutes that leans back to something rudimentary in Earth‘s sound. That’s not to say the album lacks ambience, just that the ambience feels like it’s punching you in the face — relatively speaking.
That’s true immediately on opener “Torn by the Fox of the Crescent Moon,” which crashes into its chugging central riff with a jarring immediacy. Primitive and Deadly is clearly structured for a 2LP, with two shorter songs on sides A and C and one longer song on sides B and D, but anywhere you go and from whatever angle you might want to approach it, the sound is much bigger than one might be used to from Earth. Herzog is a deep-toned bassist and the production — the album was recorded at various points with Mathias Schneeberger, Dave Catching (who assisted) and Randall Dunn (who also mixed and contributed Moog) — brings out a rawness in their sound that their most recent output seems to have pulled away from. If these songs are Earth hitting reset, they’re not by any means forgetting the lessons they’ve learned over the last 10 years, and their sound is as evocative and atmospheric as ever, even if given a more pointed direction with the inclusion of vocals, the first of which arrive from Lanegan on the revivalist themed “There is a Serpent Coming.” His gravelly voice is perfect for Pentecostal forebodings, and there are a couple awkward syllabic turns, but there’s no denying the pairing works. Lanegan is given two songs, side A’s “There is a Serpent Coming” and side C’s “Rooks across the Gate,” which as tracks two and five lead the way into and out of the meat of the album, and Qazi is given one, side B’s 11-minute “From the Zodiacal Light,” but it’s her cut that turns out to be the highlight of both the vocalized half (cleverly spread out through the tracklisting) and of Primitive and Deadly as a whole. Her voice fits the material more smoothly, and she rides the groove of the song — as quintessential Earth as Earth get — in such a way that as the listener, being carried along by it is inevitable. That’s not to mention the resonance of Qazi‘s voice itself, somewhere between breathy and masterful. Hers is the prevailing impression of the album, and she reminds us that the only element missing from Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light – which Carlson positioned as Earth‘s homage to classic psych-folk — was the human otherworldliness.
Late in “From the Zodiacal Light,” Carlson swirls out a psychedelic lead that presages some of what’s to come with side C’s “Even Hell Has its Heroes,” a slightly more gradual start to the second LP’s opener than appeared on the first. Two guest guitarists appear on Primitive and Deadly, Brett Netson and Jodie Cox. I don’t know which of them it might be having a blues jam over the 9:43 “Even Hell Has its Heroes,” and frankly, if you told me it was both I’d probably believe you as there are a number of different tones layered in particularly as the song approaches its midsection, but it’s as close to classic heavy rock as Earth has ever come. The slow progression maintained by Davies, Herzog and Carlson might be a dirge were it not for the extra guitar — a languid march is punctuated by well-mixed bell hits — but as it stands, “Even Hell Has its Heroes” is more glorious than mournful. It is complemented on side C by Lanegan‘s second appearance, “Rooks across the Gates,” a more subdued roller on which he offers a traditional sort of ballad storytelling amid rising tides of guitar and the steady rhythm. He appears for two verses to recount the tale and is gone again, an echo disappearing into a singularly hypnotic moment in the second half with undulating waves of amp noise rumbling out the conclusion on a fade. It seems by the time they get there that there can’t possibly be much for closer “Badgers Bane” to say that Earth haven’t already expressed at one point or another, but in addition to complementing “From the Zodiacal Light” on guitar, the closer also seems to be most tying Primitive and Deadly to Earth‘s modus of this past, productive decade, unfurling its 12:28 runtime patiently as always and continuing to find room to experiment as a long fadeout past the four-minute mark leads to an ambient midsection of vague echoes grounded only by Davies‘ drum march until the song eventually makes a return, shortly after seven minutes in, and carries through past the nine-minute mark, at which point the final chord is sustained into a section of noise and straight droning that closes out. In the final minutes, Earth demonstrate that not only are they willing at this point to most directly engage with their audience — i.e. by adding vocals — but also to continue to push their material well beyond the point of accessibility. It’s ultimately the blend of both that makes “Badgers Bane” such a fitting wrap for Primitive and Deadly, since it underscores the unceasing creative impulse at the heart of what Earth has done. Their influence has spread far and wide from their Seattle roots, but Earth have never stopped progressing or pushing themselves, and even more than who’s singing on what tracks, that’s what stands out about their 10th full-length.
Posted in Features on August 22nd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Right now, you’re probably saying to yourself, “Wait, what? These people are going to be on Earth‘s next record?” I don’t know. I doubt it. This is a wishlist. It goes like this:
Earth release their new album, Primitive and Deadly, Sept. 2 on Southern Lord Recordings (preorders are here). I’ll have a review up in the next week or two, but if you’ve ever listened to the massively-influential Seattle mainstays, you know they’ve been instrumental for the bulk of their run to date. For the first time, the new album brings in guest vocalists — the venerable Mark Lanegan (ex-Screaming Trees, etc.) and Rabia Shaheen Qazi (Rose Windows) — on a few choice selections. The results, as you’d expect and as you’ve probably heard by now, are stellar.
I had the record on just now and was daydreaming about what a new avenue Earth – founding guitarist Dylan Carlson, longtime drummer Adrienne Davies and bassist Bill Herzog – have opened for themselves. Of course, if time has proved anything, it’s that Earth work best following their own creative whims and drives, but it wasn’t long before I had a handful of voices I thought would work really well if they wanted to continue pursuing a partially vocalized approach.
Should you have a name to add, please feel free to leave a comment. Here’s who I came up with:
1. Ann Wilson
Okay, so maybe I’m breaking out the big guns right way, but how badass would Ann Fucking Wilson sound on an Earth track? Then and now, her voice is so powerful, moving and I just think she’d nail any part given to her and bring the spaciousness in Earth‘s signature drone-rock approach to an operatic level. I know she’s done most of her work in more traditional structures — Heart could be pretty out there, but still — but you can’t tell me she wouldn’t absolutely kill it in collaboration with her fellow Seattle-ites. Plus you might convince her to break out some flute, and that’s a bonus.
2. Marianne Faithfull
I admit this one’s kind of a reach, but one-time Rolling Stones collaborator Marianne Faithfull shares one thing in common with Earth‘s sound, and it’s a lasting resonance. Faithfull‘s voice can be so uplifting or so, so sad, and either side that she brought to Earth, it would work. It really would. It sounds really crazy, but I’m telling you straight up, it would absolutely work and be amazing, and you’d call me up or text me or whatever and like, “Dude, you were right, this is killer,” and then we’d get together and high-five about it, which would also be awesome.
3. Mark Lanegan
But wait, doesn’t Mark Lanegan already sing on Primitive and Deadly? Yeah, he does. It’s fucking great. They should do it again sometime.
4. Sera Timms
The former Black Math Horseman and current Ides of Gemini vocalist seems to carry an ethereal sensibility with her wherever she goes. Certainly that was the case on Field of the Host (review here), the 2013 debut outing from her solo-project Black Mare, and I’d say it holds up on Ides of Gemini‘s new one, Old World/New Wave (review here) as well. Timms does a lot of fascinating work with echoing effects and layering, and has a lot of experience in open structures and droning sounds, so even aside from the otherworldly folkishness of her approach, she seems like a natural fit.
5. Dylan Carlson
Stay with me on this. Yeah, he sang on 1996’s Pentastar: In the Style of Demons, but after almost 20 years of going the other way, Earth have switched it up and decided to incorporate singers. As the founder of the band, doesn’t Dylan Carlson deserve a say? I think he’s more than earned it, and I don’t even care if he doesn’t want to sing. Let him do a spoken word retelling of his grocery list, it doesn’t matter. It just seems to me that if this is something Earth are going to pursue for any amount of time going forward, it’s as worthwhile for them to look inward as outward in challenging themselves.
Earth‘s Primitive and Deadlyis out Sept. 2 on Southern Lord, and they’ll begin a US tour with King Dude two days later (dates here). More info at the links.
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 1st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
And in other news, the Melvins continue to release Melvins albums. But wait, there’s a twist! They’ve traded out the Big Business cats for Paul Leary and JD Pinkus of Butthole Surfers (the latter also of Honky), dropping from two drummers to one — no problem there, Dale Crover can hold his own — but going to two, maybe three, guitars along the way. Oh, those wacky Melvins. You never know quite what’s coming next. It’s a wonder they manage to so consistently sound like the Melvins.
Buzz Osborne is currently on tour supporting his 2014 solo debut, This Machine Kills Artists(review here), but it’s never long before the next Melvins whathaveyou is on the way, and Hold it Inis set for an October release through Ipecac. Of course, the PR wire has tour dates corresponding as well.
Here they go:
THE MELVINS RELEASE HOLD IT IN ON OCT. 14 VIA IPECAC RECORDINGS
U.S. TOUR KICKS OFF OCT. 15
The Melvins return with Hold It In, their first studio album as a quartet since 2010’s The Bride Screams Murder, on Oct. 14.
Joining Buzz Osborne and Dale Crover for the 12-song outing are Butthole Surfers’ guitar player Paul Leary and bass player JD Pinkus. Hold It In was recorded in both Los Angeles and Austin earlier this year.
“Hold It In is a refreshing piece of fiction in a boring world of fact and bullsh*t,” said Osborne. “Paul is one of the best guitar players I have ever heard and Pinkus has an outside the box type of approach to both guitar and bass that you just have to let it ride. I can’t believe this actually happened. I’m thrilled.”
“It’s very rare you get a chance to work with three folks from the ‘Break A Wish’ foundation, all at the same time,” said Pinkus. “I believe they’ll remember their experience with me forever (or until they finally all lose their fight with S.I.D.S).”
The Melvins kick off a round of U.S. tour dates on Oct. 15 in Sacramento at Assembly, which also includes a performance at this year’s Voodoo Experience in New Orleans. Osborne, Crover and Pinkus will be the touring roster for this run of dates.
Tour dates: October 15 Sacramento, CA Assembly October 17 Bellingham, WA Wild Buffalo House of Music October 18 Seattle, WA The Showbox October 19 Portland, OR Roseland Theater October 21 San Francisco, CA Great American Music Hall October 22 San Luis Obispo, CA SLO Brewing October 23 Los Angeles, CA The Troubadour October 24 San Diego, CA The Casbah October 25 Phoenix, AZ The Crescent Ballroom October 26 Albuquerque, NM The Launchpad October 28 Dallas, TX Trees October 29 Austin, TX Mohawk October 30 Houston, TX Warehouse Live – Studio October 31 New Orleans, LA Voodoo Fest November 1 Pensacola, FL Vinyl Music Hall November 2 Gainesville, FL The Wooly November 3 Jacksonville, FL Jack Rabbit’s November 4 Orlando, FL The Social November 5 Ft. Lauderdale, FL The Culture Room November 6 Tampa, FL Orpheum Theater November 8 Atlanta, GA The Loft at Center Stage November 9 Birmingham, AL Zydeco
Tickets are on sale this Friday, Aug. 1 at 10 am local time.
Osborne is currently touring in support of his debut acoustic album, This Machine Kills Artists, performing shows this week in Tucson (July 30 at Club Congress) and Palm Springs (July 31 at Pappy & Harriet’s) before heading to Australia and Europe for an additional six weeks of dates. Crover temporarily joins OFF! for the band’s August tour.
Posted in Whathaveyou on July 23rd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Following a deluxe-style 10″ release through Caffe Vita Records, Seattle bombast rockers He Whose Ox is Gored have issued their 2014 Nightshade two-song EP on tape via Breathe Plastic Records. There are, as they put it, 20 copies available in the US out of a total 100 pressed, so if you want one, it’s probably a good idea to place the order soon.
With however many they’ve got left by the time Aug. 5 rolls around, He Whose Ox is Gored will hit the road to support both the vinyl and the tape, playing with an assortment of badasses along the way, including Black Mare, who also had a tape out on Breathe Plastic last year.
The PR wire offers background and dates:
HE WHOSE OX IS GORED: Northwestern Doomgazers Plot West Coast Tour
Tuned down and turnt up, He Whose Ox is Gored has been blasting through the underground of Seattle since 2009. Combining technical guitar work and atmospheric synth over a pummeling rhythm section and doomed aggression, they create a uniquely cinematic soundscape that paints a world ready to thrash and burn. Bleeding Light Records will release the band’s upcoming Rumours EP digitally and on 7″ vinyl in a few months’ time. With an upcoming full-length brewing and a busy tour schedule this year, the OX’s dynamic doom is poised to take over. The Seattle quartet is comprised of Brian McClelland on guitar & vocals, Lisa Mungo on synths & vocals, Mike Sparks on bass & vocals, and drummer John O’Connell.
He Whose Ox is Gored is preparing to embark upon a series of West Coast live actions that will begin on August 5th in Portland and wrap up in Spokane. They’ll be sharing stages with the formidable likes of Chasma, Black Mare, Glaciers, and more, and will unveil new material from their myriad upcoming releases.
HE WHOSE OX IS GORED WEST COAST TOUR 8/5 Portland, OR @ East End w/ Muscle & Marrow and Chasma 8/6 San Francisco, CA @ SUBMission w/ Glaciers and Roland 8/7 Oakland, CA @ Eli’s w/ Hellbeard, Glaciers, and Druid 8/8 Los Angeles, CA @ Complex w/ Lightsystem, Glaare, and Black Mare 8/9 San Diego, CA @ Tower Bar w/ Deep Sea Thunder Beast and Bhorelord 8/10 Tuscon, AZ @ The District w/ Ocean Void 8/12 Albuquerque, NM @ Sister Bar w/ Bath House and Icelous 8/13 Denver, CO @ Bar Bar w/ Abrams 8/14 Salt Lake City, UT @ The Shred Shed w/ Stoic 8/15 Boise, ID @ The Shredder w/ Obstructed by the Sun and Swamp Shrine 8/16 Missoula, MT @ TBA 8/17 Spokane, WA @ Mootsie’s w/ Losing Skin and Rot Monger
Posted in Whathaveyou on July 15th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Ever ones for hand-delivering their groundbreaking drone, Earth have announced that they’ll follow their extensive upcoming European tour in support of their 10th album, Primitive and Deadly, with a corresponding jaunt across the US beginning Sept. 4, just two days after the record is set to release on Southern Lord. I’ll be interested to see who winds up on tour with the band, considering some of the varied personnel said to show up in the material, but if they come even moderately close to capturing the sound of “From the Zodiacal Light,” which you can hear below, it’ll be a win. Actually, it’ll probably be a win anyway. It’s fucking Earth. Some bands you just have to trust know what they’re doing.
The PR wire has dates for your calendar-marking enjoyment:
EARTH Confirms US Tour Dates In Conjunction With Release Of Primitive And Deadly LP
With the next phase of EARTH’s ongoing evolution coming closer to actuality, as their tenth studio LP, Primitive And Deadly, is set to see North American release on September 2nd, the group announces the next phase of international touring in support of the album, in the form of a month-long US tour.
With the band’s treks through Japan, Australia and New Zealand behind them, and their trek into Europe set to begin late this month, EARTH will bring their new material to American fans. From September 4th, commencing in their hometown of Seattle, the new venture will see the band winding counter-clockwise around the entire perimeter of the country through October 3rd, the last show taking place in Boise, Idaho. With twenty-five performances confirmed, additional shows are expected to be added in the coming days. Direct support for EARTH on the entire trek will be provided by dark folk act, King Dude.
With Primitive And Deadly, for the first time in their diverse career, EARTH’s founding guitarist Dylan Carlson and long term cohort, drummer Adrienne Davies allow themselves to be a full-on rock band. Here the dialog between Carlson and Davies drumming remains pivotal, underpinned by the sympathetic bass of Bill Herzog (Sunn O))), Joel RL Phelps, Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter) and thickened by additional layers of guitar from Brett Netson (Built To Spill, Caustic Resin) and Jodie Cox (Narrows). Primitive And Deadly also brings forth the band’s first vocal contributions since 1996’s Pentastar LP, and first in the band’s second incarnation, with guest vocalists Mark Lanegan and Rabia Shaheen Qazi (Rose Windows), who transform these thundering, organic songs into something approaching traditional pop structures. The foundation of the record was laid in the mystic desert high lands of Joshua Tree, California at Rancho de la Luna where EARTH recorded after hours of meditation on each track’s central theme. Upon returning to Seattle these were edited, arranged and expanded upon at Avast with the help of long-term collaborator Randall Dunn (Sunn O))), Wolves In The Throne Room, Eagle Twin). Thick, dense and overdriven, melodically rich and enveloping, Primitive And Deadly is EARTH reaffirming their position as a singular point in the history of rock.
Preorders for Primitive And Deadly will be available in the next few days. Stand by for further live and album news transmissions from the EARTH family.
EARTH Tour Dates: European Tour: 7/31/2014 Off Festival – Katowicw, Poland 8/01/2014 UT Connewitz – Leipzig, Germany 8/02/2014 Lido – Berlin, Germany 8/04/2014 Super Uho Festival – Sibenik, Croatia 8/05/2014 Arena – Vienna, Austria 8/07/2014 Schlacthof – Wiesbaden, Germany 8/08/2014 Bogen F – Zurich, Switzerland 8/09/2014 Point Ephemere – Paris, France 8/10/2014 Zuiderpershuis – Antwerp, Belgium 8/11/2014 Tivoli – Utrecht, Netherlands 8/13/2014 Whelans – Dublin, Ireland 8/14/2014 CCA – Glasgow, UK 8/15/2014 Gorilla – Manchester, UK 8/16/2014 Jabberwocky Festival – London, UK
US Tour w/ King Dude: 9/04/2014 Crocodile – Seattle, WA 9/06/2014 Shakedown – Bellingham, WA 9/07/2014 Doug Fir – Portland, OR 9/08/2014 Midtown Barfly – Sacramento, CA 9/09/2014 Catalyst Atrium – Santa Cruz, CA 9/10/2014 Bottom Of The Hill – San Fransisco, CA 9/11/2014 Hollywood Forever Cemetary – Los Angeles, CA 9/12/2014 SD Music Thing Fest – San Diego, CA 9/13/2014 Yucca Tap Room – Tempe, AZ 9/14/2014 Sister – Albequerque, NM 9/16/2014 Red 7 – Austin, TX 9/17/2014 Club Dada – Dallas, TX 9/18/2014 One Eyed Jacks – New Orleans, LA 9/19/2014 Drunken Unicorn – Atlanta, GA 9/20/2014 Kings Barcade – Raleigh, NC 9/21/2014 Rock N Roll Hotel – Washington, DC 9/23/2014 Great Scott – Allston, MA 9/24/2014 Saint Vitus – Brooklyn, NY 9/26/2014 Boot And Saddle – Philadelphia, PA 9/27/2014 Midpoint Music Fest – Cincinnati, OH 9/28/2014 Pygmalion, Music Fest – Urbana, IL 9/29/2014 Empty Bottle – Chicago, IL 9/30/2014 Record Bar – Kansas City, MO 10/01/2014 Larimer Lounge – Denver, CO 10/03/2014 Neurolux – Boise, ID
Posted in Whathaveyou on June 24th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
I think we’re still a ways off from getting a release date for the long-awaited debut from Brothers of the Sonic Cloth, but that the mix has been finalized and the album has entered the mastering stage is news of progress, and I’ll take what I can get. The Tad Doyle-fronted outfit released their demo (review here) and a split with Mico de Noche (review here) in 2009, which just to save you the math, was five years ago.
So yeah, this one’s been a while in the making, though Brothers of the Sonic Cloth (who are also my most comfortable t-shirt) have been playing shows most of that time and Doyle has also recorded other bands at his Studio Witch Ape, including the Lumbar project, in which he also took part with Aaron Edge and YOB‘s Mike Scheidt. Better delayed than never, and I have the feeling once the record — which was recorded by Billy Anderson – arrives, I won’t give a shit how long it’s been since the demo came out.
Still, the sooner the better. Their update:
Recording update: We have the final mixes for the record and we are extremely satisfied with the Billy Anderson mix treatments that we did at Everything Hz. Nine songs have been mixed.
Billy has been a excellent to work with and has added dimensions and sonic depths that only he could have brought to these songs. When a band talks about having a fourth member, (a mix engineer/recording engineer/soundman) that have contributed to the music in such a way that it brings out things in the mix and out of the songs that is greater than the sum of it’s parts, we know what that means.
We will be working with Billy in the future for our next recording. In the meantime, we can’t wait to find a home for these songs with a record label that understands us and is willing to back us to get this music to the people. Next up is analog mastering with Justin Weis at Trakworx!
Posted in Reviews on June 19th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
It should stand to reason that any Dylan Carlson solo outing released under the banner of Drcarlsionalbion (also stylized in all-caps or all-lowercase) should have a certain amount of continuity with Earth, since as much as that band has become a rotating-member collaboration, Carlson‘s guitar remains the driving force of it. He’s done a few solo releases at this point, a Latitudes session in 2012 brought particularly resonant results (review here), but the latest, Gold, has the distinction of being Carlson‘s first soundtrack work. That in itself is a little surprising. One wonders if it’s something he’s particularly avoided doing over the years or just never got around to with Earth. As focused on atmosphere as Earth has been since returning from a multi-year hiatus with 2005’s Hex: Or Printing in the Infernal Method– a landmark the influence of which continues to be felt nearly a decade later — to tap them for soundtrack work seems like a natural fit. Even working on his own, that proves to be the case with Carlson and Gold. The 24-piece offering serves as the score to a German western of the same name set and filmed in Canada, and Carlson sounds well in his element on these tracks, which vary from noodly snippets like the 18-second “Gold VIII” to full-song breadth like the closing “Gold XXIV,” which has enough of an end-credit feel at just under five minutes (it’s also the longest inclusion) to evoke a sense of finality even without the silence that follows. Through it all, Carlson‘s tone is very much his own, and clearly intent on portraying open spaces and an undercurrent of foreboding that never comes to outright terror, but lingers vague in the distance.
Watching the film and hearing Carlson‘s guitar complement footage of horses walking slowly through desolate woods, one can’t help but think of Jim Jarmusch‘s 1995 western, Dead Man, and Neil Young‘s guitar score for that, which had a similar echoing feel in places and which was a noted point of inspiration for Carlson with Earth‘s Hexalbum. Part of the appeal of Carlson‘s work over the years has been interpreting the feelings and emotions contained in what are usually very minimalist atmospheres, figuring out where the music wants to take you and then going to that place, and on that level, Goldtaps into some of the similar big sky, wide-angle Americana that Hexdid, though the spirit of this release is different because very often it jumps from one piece to the next before an ambience is fully set. That keeps Goldfrom really being able to be evaluated as a full-length album, but if you catch it in the right headspace, the vibe is open enough and consuming enough that you can get lost in Goldwithout really even realizing, the 44-minute span not a slog to wade through, but a well-honed dronescape comprised of individual glimpses. It is minimal — Carlson and his guitar. As Earth have expanded their sound in multiple directions over the last nine-plus (really almost 25) years around Carlson and drummer Adrienne Davies who joined in 2001, Drcarlsonalbion seems to be the place the guitarist retreats to in order to be alone with the frequencies he crafts. There are some other noises far back in the mix on “Gold V” and elsewhere, an obscure sense of someone hitting something with something else, an actual tom hit on “Gold XI,” but Goldhas a lonesome sound and that’s clearly the intent from the beginning.
Posted in Whathaveyou on May 29th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
So you’ve got an Earth record with Mark Lanegan singing on it? Well fucking a. Yes, please. Sign me up.
Details of Earth‘s forthcoming long-player, Primitive and Deadly, come via the PR wire below. Southern Lord will have it out in September, and it seems like yet another fascinating turn in Earth‘s ongoing progression is in store.
More to come I’m sure:
EARTH Reveals Details Of Their Tenth Studio Recording, Primitive And Deadly
International Tour Dates Begin Next Week
EARTH’s career, like its music, has always been a slow, deliberate progression. Each record slightly removed from the last, a constant refinement of a singular vision. Dylan Carlson has remained focused throughout on coaxing moments of strange beauty and reflection from “the riff”. This elemental foundation of rock is refracted, in their earliest recordings, through the prism of sheer volume and feedbacking drone or, in the twin Angels Of Darkness, Demons Of Light set from 2011 and 2012, via a sparse unraveling take on folk.
With Primitive And Deadly, EARTH’s tenth studio collection, Carlson and long term cohort, drummer Adrienne Davies, manage to pull off the trick of completing an Ouroborean creative cycle, twenty-five years in the making, whilst exploring new directions in their music. For the first time in their diverse second act, they allow themselves to be a rock band, freed of adornment and embellishment. As much as Carlson’s guitar has always been the focal point of EARTH’s music, it’s been surrounded by consistently diverse instrumentation. Here the dialog between Carlson and Davies drumming remains pivotal, underpinned by the sympathetic bass of Bill Herzog (Sunn O))), Joel RL Phelps, Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter) and thickened by additional layers of guitar from Brett Netson (Built To Spill, Caustic Resin) and Jodie Cox (Narrows). Perhaps the largest left turn on Primitive And Deadly, though, is prominence of guest vocalists Mark Lanegan and Rabia Shaheen Qazi (Rose Windows) who transform the traditionally free ranging meditations of EARTH into something approaching traditional pop structures.
On “Rooks Across the Gates,” a song stylistically the closest to the folk inspired modality of Angels Of Darkness, Carlson stretches out into some of his most lyrical playing to date, creating an almost symbiotic relationship between his performance and the vocals of old friend Mark Lanegan. “From the Zodiacal Light,” meanwhile, takes the late 60s San Franciscan/freaked-out jazz-rock transcendence of The Bees Made Honey In The Lion’s Skull and quickly re-appropriates that sound into a musky torch song for the witching hour.
This contradictive tension between a band pushing itself ever-forward whilst surveying their history is reflected in the albums twin recording locales. The foundation of the record was laid in the mystic desert high lands of Joshua Tree, California where EARTH recorded hour after hour of meditations on each tracks central theme at Rancho de la Luna. Upon returning to Seattle these were edited, arranged and expanded upon at Avast with the help of long-term collaborator Randall Dunn (who was previously at the helm for the Hex, The Bees Made Honey In The Lions Skull and Hibernaculum sessions).
Thick, dense and overdriven, melodically rich and enveloping, Primitive And Deadly is EARTH reaffirming their position as a singular point in the history of rock. The album will see worldwide release this September, with a final street date to be announced shortly.
Prior to the album’s release, Southern Lord shall be reissuing Hex; Or Printing In The Infernal Method and The Bees Made Honey In The Lion’s Skull on LP on June 24th in North America.
EARTH shall embark on a run of international tours beginning next week, including June and July dates across Japan, New Zealand, Australia and Europe, followed by another European tour in support of Primitive And Deadly, with much more in store.
EARTH Tour Dates: 6/04/2014 Conpass – Osaka, Japan 6/05/2014 Earthdom – Tokyo, Japan 6/06/2014 Fever – Tokyo, Japan 6/12/2014 Chicks Hotel – Dunedin, New Zealand 6/13/2014 Bodega – Wellington, New Zealand 6/14/2014 Kings Arms – Auckland, New Zealand 6/17/2014 Crowbar – Brisbane, Australia 6/18/2014 Rosemount Hotel – Perth, Australia 6/19/2014 Manning Bar – Sydney, Australia 6/20/2014 Dark Mofo Festival – Hobart, Australia 6/21/2014 Hi-Fi – Melbourne, Australia 7/31/2014 Off Festival – Katowicw, Poland 8/01/2014 UT Connewitz – Leipzig, Germany 8/02/2014 Lido – Berlin, Germany 8/04/2014 Super Uho Festival – Sibenik, Hungary 8/05/2014 Arena – Vienna, Austria 8/07/2014 Schlacthof – Wiesbaden, Germany 8/08/2014 Bogen F – Zurich, Switzerland 8/09/2014 Point Ephemere – Paris, France 8/10/2014 Zuiderpershuis – Antwerp, Belgium 8/11/2014 Tivoli – Utrecht, Netherlands 8/13/2014 Whelans – Dublin, Ireland 8/14/2014 CCA – Glasgow, UK 8/15/2014 Gorilla – Manchester, UK 8/16/2014 Jabberwocky Festival – London, UK
SELECTED EARTH DISCOGRAPHY: Extra Capsular Extraction (Sub Pop) 1991* Earth 2: Special Low Frequency Version (Sub Pop) 1993 Phase 3: Thrones and Dominions (Sub Pop) 1995 Pentastar: In the Style of Demons (Sub Pop) 1996 Hex; Or Printing in the Infernal Method (Southern Lord) 2005 Hibernaculum (Southern Lord) 2007 Bees Made Honey in the Lions Skull (Southern Lord) 2008 Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light I (Southern Lord) 2011 Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light II (Southern Lord) 2012 Primitive and Deadly (Southern Lord) 2014 *re-issued as A Bureaucratic Desire for Extra Capsular Extraction (Southern Lord) 2010
Posted in On Wax on May 16th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
If stoner rock was as uptight about authenticity as black metal, Ancient Warlocks might prove standard bearers for the “truest” form of the genre. The double-guitar Seattle foursome’s self-titled debut sold out its original pressing on Lay Bare Recordings, and my beloved Garden State’s own STB Records has stepped in to release another 300 copies. Of those, 75 are the “Die Hard Edition” with clear vinyl, gold inside and a “bone chip” splatter, another 100 come with the same kind of vinyl an an Obi strip with the Adam Burke warlock artwork that also appears vertically in the gatefold — fucking gorgeous — and the remaining 125 are the “Standard” edition has bone-colored vinyl with gold and black splatter. All come with a download. It’s a thing of beauty any way you want to go, and if you didn’t get the chance to check out Ancient Warlocks‘ Ancient Warlockswhen it initially arrived, what makes for the first official US release is a perfect way to get caught up, the front and back cover art and the platter itself reversed in black and white from the European version.
The distinction is no less than the album deserves. Guitarists Darren Chase and Aaron Krause (the latter also vocals) don’t let you get one riff into opener “Into the Night” without laying out a fat, rolling, fuzzed-out groove, and that sets the course for the bulk of Ancient Warlocks‘ concise, well-constructed 34 minute runtime. Its eight songs divide evenly into side A and side B and sound like they were made to do so. “Into the Night” and the side B leadoff “Super Wizard” also served as the A and B sides for Ancient Warlocks‘ debut single (review here), so they’re leading with their most established jams and then expanding from there. Likewise, both “Lion Storm” on the first half and “White Dwarf” on the second make imperatives out of riffy nod, the latter pushed ahead at the album’s speediest clip by drummer Steve Jones, who also produced, and maintaining its thickness via Anthony “Oni” Timm‘s bass. Here and there they fluctuate in tempo or approach — third cut “Sweet’s too Slow” is almost singularly indebted to the 1998 Queens of the Stone Age self-titled debut — but the core of what Ancient Warlocks do is in unabashed construction of stoner rock. Its thick feel, weighted vibe and lyrics to songs like “Super Wizard” and the closer “Sorcerer’s Magician” hit every mark one might ask in an interpretation of the genre’s tenets.
Where Ancient Warlocks find their greatest success is in distinguishing themselves within that sphere. Their sound on their first full-length is the equivalent of showing up at Fort Knox, finding all the guards have gotten bored of the idea of gold and taking it all for themselves. In an age of specialization and per-band-subgenre intricacy, Ancient Warlocks do right by their material in keeping it simple, allowing the personality in Krause‘s vocals to flow through naturally without forcing something individualized to the sacrifice of memorable songs. “Cactus Wine” slows down classic Fu Manchu starts and stops in the verse and bridges a gap in its sway between that band and self-titled-era Clutch‘s storytelling, and by the time side A is done,Ancient Warlocks have well established themselves as expert practitioners of what, in an age of boozy, caricature masculinity, indie hype, pseudo-cult worship, etc., has become a lost art. Full fuzz alchemy. Yes, it absolutely has its moments of silliness — of course the “Super Wizard” is from outer space, duh — but the four-pieceown those moments so completely and with such an utter lack of irony and pretense that the self-titled is all the more of a good time for their being there. Why wouldn’t “Killer’s Moon” boogie so hard? How could it not?
I had the fortune of seeing Ancient Warlocks in their hometown earlier this year (review here) and found them to be no less engaging on stage than on the record. No doubt they’ll grow and progress as a band with whatever they might take on next in following-up this album, but like the first Sasquatch record, or the first The Atomic Bitchwax, Ancient Warlocks‘ Ancient Warlocks hits all the right spots in just the right way to let you know these guys know what they’re doing and where they want to be sonically. With the added appeal of the STB version’s physical presentation — so far as I know there isn’t a CD version pressed to date — it’s a heavy rock record made to be enjoyed by those who share the band’s obvious love for riffs, heavy grooves, and fuzz you could get lost in for days. If you’d count yourself among that number, it’s one you won’t want to miss, and given how quickly the European pressing went without the band even setting foot on that continent, I wouldn’t expect these to last long either.
Posted in On Wax on May 2nd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Though it comes with a download ticket to be redeemed at Knick Knack Records‘ webstore, Mystery Ship guitarist Michael Wohl‘s new single, Moonfeeder b/w Song of Impermanence, makes yet another compelling argument in the long settled debate of physical versus non-physical media. Once you’ve soaked in the early-20th-Century-looking fonts on the front and back covers, the prevailing impression the 7″ 45RPM two-songer makes is not of being a relic, but of being homemade. On the cover, you can feel the raised places where the ink of Adam Burke‘s art was screenprinted on, and while the recording itself is somewhat cleaner and less bedroom-folk than Wohl‘s Eight Pieces for Solo Guitar digital and tape release — having been recorded by Wohl and Gordon Raphael (Regina Spektor, The Strokes, Sky Cries Mary, etc.) — with a genuine sense of the room in which it was made or at very least the fancy-seeming microphone that picked up the resonance of Wohl‘s guitar, it also credits Jeff Powell of Memphis’ Ardent Studios for cutting the vinyl plate, so a human element is never far off.
Of course, with an approach so intimate, that most likely wouldn’t have been a concern anyway. Wohl sings in Mystery Ship as well, and listening to the original “Moonfeeder,” I can’t help but wonder when he might try his hand at troubadour-ing with his solo work as well, but thus far he’s resisted the temptation. Still, where Eight Pieceswas a collection of experiments, these are well-conceived and plucked folk songs, the B-side derived on the fly with stated inspiration from Charley Patton, Blind Lemon Jefferson and Doc Watson. As he did last time out and as I hope he continues to do going forward, Wohl includes his own liner notes with the single, a brief notation on key — “Moonfeeder” is in D minor, “Song of Impermanence” in open D — and a little bit about each song. “Moonfeeder” is the shorter and more melancholic of the two, but even so, it retains some movement and an underlying sweetness of melody and rhythm, though while it starts out minimal and somewhat ominous, the bulk of the bounce arrives somewhere around the middle of “Song of Impermanence,” which begs for a soft blues delivery, sans feigned twang but given to storytelling.
Moonfeeder b/w Song of Impermanence is a quick, picturesque release that does little to convey the stereotyped grit or rain-soaked depressiveness of Wohl‘s Seattle base of operation, but maybe escapism is part of the appeal in creating a work like this. If I have one regret as regards the single, it’s that there isn’t more to get lost in.
Michael Wohl, Moonfeeder b/w Song of Impermanence (2014)
Posted in Whathaveyou on April 2nd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
True to form of his main outfit, the Melvins, guitarist/vocalist Buzz Osborne has announced that he’ll be supporting his forthcoming solo debut, This Machine Kills Artists — out June 3 on Ipecac — with an extensive, 38-show coast-to-coast, north-south-and-in-between tour. It’s an intimidating list of gigs, and it starts out May 17 at the Scion Rock Fest before launching in full on June 10. If he’s not a singer-songwriter yet, chances are he will be by the time this run is finished.
I defer to the PR wire:
THE MELVINS’ BUZZ OSBORNE ANNOUNCES EXTENSIVE THIS MACHINE KILLS ARTISTS SUMMER TOUR
THIS MACHINE KILLS ARTISTS SET FOR JUNE 3 RELEASE
Melvins’ front man Buzz Osborne has confirmed a seven-week U.S. tour, which kicks off June 10 at The Casbah in San Diego.
Osborne previously announced the release of his first solo, acoustic release, This Machine Kills Artists, which is set for a June 3 release via Ipecac Recordings. Rolling Stone recently premiered the song “Dark Brown Teeth”, describing the track as “doomy, ill-angled” and with the “Beefheartian edge his band is renown for.”
Osborne will document the solo outing through an ongoing travelogue on Noisey.com.
May 17 Pomona, CA Scion Rock Fest
June 10 San Diego, CA The Casbah June 11 Echo Park, CA The Echo June 12 Santa Ana, CA The Observatory June 13 Fresno, CA Strummer’s June 14 Sacramento, CA Assembly June 15 San Francisco, CA Great American Music Hall June 17 Eugene, OR Wow Hall June 18 Portland, OR Hawthorne Theatre June 20 Seattle, WA Neumo’s June 21 Bellingham, WA The Shakedown June 22 Spokane, WA The Hop June 23 Missoula, MT The Palace June 24 Billings, MT The Railyard June 26 Fargo, ND The Aquarium June 27 Minneapolis, MN Grumpy’s June 28 Milwaukee, WI Shank Hall June 30 Grand Rapids, MI The Pyramid Scheme
July 1 Columbus, OH A&R Music Bar July 2 Detroit, MI Small’s July 3 Cleveland, OH The Grog Shop July 6 South Burlington, VT Higher Ground July 7 Portland, ME Portland City Music Hall July 10 Allston, MA Brighton Music Hall July 12 Hamden, CT The Ballroom at The Outerspace July 13 New York, NY Santos Party House July 14 Brooklyn, NY The Wick July 15 Philadelphia, PA Underground Arts July 17 Baltimore, MD Ottobar July 18 Charlottesville, VA The Southern July 20 Carrboro, NC Cat’s Cradle July 22 Atlanta, GA The Basement July 23 Birmingham, AL The Bottle Tree July 25 New Orleans, LA One Eyed Jack’s July 26 Houston, TX Warehouse Live July 27 Austin, TX Red 7 July 28 Sam Antonio, TX Limelight July 30 Tucson, AZ Club Congress July 31 Pioneertown, CA Pappy and Harriet’s
Posted in On Wax on March 19th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
If you’ve got a mind to dig it, Mystery Ship don’t skimp on the vibe. Their straightforwardly-titled EP II(review here) was an attention-getter last year, and though it comes accompanied by Adam Burke artwork of a much different style (that sleeve is white, despite any shadow in the picture), the new, subsequent Knick Knack Records 7″ single, Bridgeburner b/w Chinatown, follows suit in continuing the development of Mystery Ship‘s retro grooving. There’s an awful lot of heavy ’70s loyalist rock and roll out there, but an awful lot less of it comes from the States, and on “Bridgeburner” and “Chinatown” — both of which are denoted on back of the record sleeve as being the A side — the Seattle four-piece make a solid argument for American contribution to the form of classic heavy rock.
Unpretentious and unaggressive, but still weighted in tone and forceful in their push, their take isn’t wholly unlike that of like-minded East Coasters The Golden Grass, though Mystery Ship have an inherently bluesier style and get down with some post-Graveyard shuffle, particularly here on “Bridgeburner,” which sets out on a warm bassline from Alex Hagenah (also vocals) that sets an organic tone for the entrance of guitarist Josh Kupferschmid, lead guitarist/vocalist Michael Wohl and drummer Travis Curry, none of whom disrupt it. Like both songs are listed as the A side, both also start with some in-studio mention of whether or not the tape is rolling, so that live feel is no accident as “Bridgeburner” moves from its strong hook into a Wohl led break that’s somewhat airy despite the tension held in Curry‘s toms. A boogie good for the soul, and not the last they have to offer.
Hagenah and Wohl trade who takes the lead vocal on “Bridgeburner” and the more swing-heavy blues of “Chinatown,” but neither song is wholly one or the other up front, and that works to the benefit of both and the distinction of one from its flipside. “Chinatown” only feels like it’s missing snaps to be complete in an alternate-universe lounge kind of way, but it makes due with its classy-in-spite-of-itself feel and offers a chorus somewhat more in the pocket than that of “Bridgeburner,” but making sly use of clean tones in the verse only to feed to dirtier leads later on, of course bookending with a last refrain, delivered more fervently.
They’re in and out in under eight minutes — unless it takes you 10 to get up and flip the record — and since both “Bridgeburner” and “Chinatown” were recorded in Jan. 2013, they more or may not show where Mystery Ship are now, more than a year later, but the quality of the songwriting makes Bridgeburner b/w Chinatowna significant-enough stopgap that it’s worth digging into. I’ll be interested to hear how Mystery Ship‘s penchant for variety plays out over the course of a debut full-length, and just how bluesy they’ll go when given the opportunity to really meander. Could a 10-minute psych/blues freakout be in the works? Got my fingers crossed.
Posted in Reviews on March 6th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
It’s a big world and there’s a lot to review in it, so I won’t do much to delay. This time around covers both coasts of the US as well as Europe and even Australia, proving once again that heavy knows no borders and seems to be at home wherever it goes. It’s a pretty varied batch this time as well, but should provide some fun along the way.
Billing themselves as “Seattle’s only rock duo” — which is charming if unlikely — guitarist/vocalist Ben Harwood and drummer Jeff Silva self-release their second album as Hobosexual (I see what you did there…) in the aptly-titled 12-tracker, II. It’s a record that brims with attitude from the chugging, semi-Melvinsian opening of “Switchblade Suburbia,” but there’s a depth of tone and swagger to back up the smacktalk in their songwriting. The 38-second “Ghettoblaster” is Hendrix-style feedback and soloing, playing directly into “Hostile Denim”‘s lead-obsessed Rolling Stones hook ‘n’ push. Topped off with striking artwork from Adam Burke of Fellwoods, IIproves very much of its Pacific Northwest origins — a magical land where everybody has a beard and they all listen to stoner rock — and while the tongue-in-cheek snark of “Sex Destroyer” might be over-the-top to some, Hobosexual avoid the minimalist aesthetic some duos use as a crutch for lazy songwriting, make old riffs new again and showcase some melodic depth in Harwood‘s vocal layering, positioning songs like “The Black Camaro Death” and the penultimate “BMX” highlights arguing against style over substance amid party-ready riffing and don’t-have-a-fuck-to-give panache. Their 2010 self-titled debut worked in similar stylistic parameters, but IIstrikes as more confident overall, and it’s a record that you’re either going to fall prey to its sleaze or shoot down early and go about your night. If the album’s a party, I feel at times like my invite must have gotten lost in the mail, but Hobosexual provide a decent reminder nonetheless that there are those capable of turning heavy rock into a good time and put it on the listener to ask why they should take it so seriously in the first place. FOAD: Fuck off and dance.
Strange things are afoot throughout Italian four-piece Midryasi‘s third album, Black, Blue and Violet. The multifaceted heavy outfit run a gamut from Pentagram-esque riff doom to Pink Floyd-infused progressive texturing, all the while keeping a clarity of sound that can likely be traced to the metallic roots of bassist/vocalist Convulsion, who aside from having played in DoomSword can be traced to a number of more extreme outfits. His brother, DoomSword vocalist Deathmaster, shows up on opener “The Counterflow,” but Black, Blue and Violet never goes quite so far into one subgenre or another, the keyboard work of Umberto Desanti always adding an edge of prog to whatever else might be happening, whether it’s the otherwise doomed “Diagonal” or the dramatic verses of the title-track. Released through My Graveyard Productions, Midryasi‘s third ultimately finds its atmospheric crux in an intelligent construction, but perhaps feels somewhat distant in its performance, coldly executed. That’s an inherent tradeoff for the complexity of its arrangements, maybe, and there’s something to be said in argument for the skillful calculation at work across these seven tracks that run smoothly with the underlying drum work of Sappah and fluid guitars of Paolo Paganhate and hit their high-point with the rumbling “The Nuclear Dog,” which provides the most memorable hook of the long-player and seems to revel most in the psychedelic and progressive weirdness that the whole album moves within. The six-and-a-half-minute “Hole of the Saturday Night” closes out with a heavy rock riff and vocal delivery from Convulsion that moves in some of the same (stone) circles as Venomous Maximus, though that’s likely a coincidence of common influence between the two, and with a smooth, consistent production, Midryasi wind up sounding most of all like a band working on its own level. And successfully.
Raucous Berlin six-piece Operators made an impression in 2012 with the unabashed new school stoner rock of their self-titled debut (review here) now a little older, a little wiser, a little more drunk, the band returns with Contact High, a record that wears its influences on its sleeve in much the same manner as the Satellite Beaver, Neume and Stonehenge patches grace the varsity jacket of the figure on the album’s cover. “Kiss of De Ath” resides at the end of side A of the eight-track/39-minute offering and offers some of Operators‘ most satisfying boogie as Konni‘s organ and the guitars of Jacky and Dirk align for an intricate but still-rolling groove of a midsection build while Stonehenge‘s Enni steps in as a guest singer, but it’s vocalist Eggat who makes the first impression on opener “Terra Ohm,” setting up a strong hook for the rest of Contact High to live up to. The album plays out unpretentious and riotous in kind, and while they haven’t necessarily settled down since their first outing, it’s easy enough to hear Operators as having solidified their approach somewhat. Konni‘s keys work just as well alongside the rhythm section of bassist Dän and drummer Säsh as with the guitars, and Eggat proves a formidable enough presence on cuts like “If I Burn,” “Bring on the Spice” (I don’t know whose guitar solo that is, but kudos) and the driving “Contact High” to reign the rest into cohesion. The six-and-a-half-minute “Arrows” shows a more subdued side that, somewhat surprisingly, never quite explodes into the noisy chicanery found elsewhere. Could it be that Operators are growing up right before our ears? I don’t know, but the results are fascinating and display more even potential from these Desertfest veterans.
Grand soundscaping, an underlying sense of ritual, and a pervasive experimental bent — it shouldn’t really be a surprise that Spain’s Pylar boasts some manner of allegiance to forward or at least side-to-side thinking doomers Orthodox and the avant extremists Blooming Látigo, but the unit’s Knockturne Records debut, Poderoso Se Alza en My, strikes as a decidedly more conceptual work, with one song spilling into the next, religious themes crossing through minimalist atmospheres and a periodic lurch emerging that’s as much a trip aurally as mentally. Two longer cuts, “El Pylar Se Ha Alzado” (13:49) and “Al Fin Te Contemplo Entre las Ruinas del Tiempo (Pentagrammaton)” (12:11) sandwich five not-quite-as-extended segments as the opener (the longest on the record; immediate points) and closer of the 68-minute behemoth, which one would be thoroughly mistaken to dub a “compact” disc. It is, instead, expansive and challenging, rife with droning tension, vague shouts in Spanish seeming to describe some torment either physical or spiritual amid art-jazz percussion in another dimension’s time signatures. Will not, will not, will not be for everyone, but Pylar‘s first is a fascinating and dense work that one could easily spend any number of months dissecting, only to still come up with an incomplete picture of its scope, and for those with a high tolerance for the experimental and indulgences of noise, the intense swell of “La Gran Luminaria” could easily prove essential as the culmination point for what seems to be an album-long drive toward enlightenment and the sundry terrors it might carry with it. If you think you’re bored of the mundane, Poderoso Se Alza en Myis ready to pull back the veil and toy for a while with what you used to think of as “your” consciousness.
I remain a sucker for Aussie heavy. System of Venus guitarist/vocalist/graphic designer Fatima Baši? gets into a doomly melodic range that reminds at times — as on “Dancing in Hell’s Garden” — of Alunah‘s Soph Day, but the rough edges in her guitar and Amanda‘s bass add a more distinct ’90s feel to the seven-track/36-minute proceedings on their full-length debut and first release, as the crunch in “Monster Ego” will further attest. Drummer Matt Lieber shows himself comfortable with the quick tempo changes in that song and elsewhere on the self-titled, self-released offering, and though the centerpiece “Dr. Dumb” works quickly to earn its position in the CD’s tracklist, ultimately the opener “Blackrock” and the closing duo of “Nothing” and “Beast” are the strongest statements the album has to make in showcasing the diversity nascent in System of Venus‘ approach, “Beast” rising to an apex that though satisfying feels somewhat shortlived in providing the payoff for the record as whole while “Nothing” holds to a quieter, brooding sentiment that plays off the foundational bassline of “Gannets Drive,” giving what might’ve otherwise easily turned out to be a demo an LP’s overarching flow and speaking to an early awareness of quality construction from the Melbourne trio, though “Gannets Drive” seems to cut out early, building to a hit that’s snapped mid-crash, so perhaps there remain some kinks to work out one way or another. All the same, taken as a whole, System of Venus‘ System of Venussatisfies as the debut of a band feeling out where they want to be sonically, and bodes well for where they might grow their sound somewhere between grunge, doom and heavy rock.
02.23.14 — 12:47AM Pacific — Sat. Night — El Corazon, Seattle, WA
“High drama…” — Steve Murphy
I’m going to try to make this quick, because my laptop clock says 3:47AM and I can’t help but feel like that’s accurate. Tonight at El Corazon in Seattle. First night of the tour. Weather as advertised. Volume as advertised. Doom of many shapes. Place filled up as the night went on. A special cheers to the giant who decided it was fun to dig in elbows up front during Pentagram.
Tonight was a five-band bill. One of several that I know of on this run. Front to back and jetlagged, it was a hell of a way to start the tour. Good crowd though, unless you count the aforementioned giant. Which I do. In bruises.
Here’s how it went down:
I know the deal is the tour and the touring bands, and I’m way down with that or I wouldn’t be here in the first place, but I was really glad I got to see Ancient Warlocks play. I also got to meet guitarist/vocalist Aaron Krause and guitarist Darren Chase and it was good for the soul. Their easy-rolling fuzz and trad-stoner grooving must have been a good match tonally for Mars Red Sky a few years back when they teamed up, but they were locked in and not at all out of place on the stage. When I asked Chase if they had any copies of their album to buy, he said they were sold out. It was easy to see why when they played.
They were a late add to the lineup, but a welcome one. Lesbian crossed genre lines fluidly and touched on black metal, doom and even some thrash with natural ease. They’re the kind of band that, if I lived in this town, I’d probably go see a lot, but as it is, this was the first time. Even after Ancient Warlocks loaded their gear off the stage, there was a considerable wall of amps, and I think an entire layer in that wall belonged to Lesbian. Hard to argue with the density of sound they were able to elicit from them, two guitars and bass running in gleeful aural excess. Bassist/vocalist Dorando Hodous said their last song — unless I’m mistaken about this — was about a “really horny dinosaur.” I didn’t catch the title, but it fucking ruled.
At this point, I feel comfortable saying I’ve seen Kings Destroy more than any band in the last three years. If that’s not true — and it is, by a mile — then it certainly will be by the end of this trip. Tonight was the first night of the tour, and it took them a song or two to click, but somewhere right around a new song called “Embers” that has, among other things, the most complex vocal melody I’ve heard from the band, they locked it in and were full-throttle the rest of the five-song set. “The Mountie” into “Casse-Tete” worked well to open, but once they slammed into “The Toe,” I think they made a lot of new friends. Leaving the rest of the band on stage, vocalist Steve Murphy hopped down into the crowd for closer “Blood of Recompense,” walking away when the song was over and handing the mic to a random guy in the crowd who, as he told his friends after putting it back on the stage, was tempted to make a dick joke, but decided against it.
Radio Moscow had the leg up. On the universe, it seemed, but at least on the other two touring acts, since they’d already had a couple gigs under their belt over the last few nights. It’s a crazy change in vibe to have the San Diego-based trio playing between Kings Destroy and Pentagram, but they hit into “I Just Don’t Know” from 2011’s Brain Cycles and the room, which by then was packed out, was theirs. They also brought the Mad Alchemy light show with them, though the oils were going for all the bands and I guess will be for the duration of the tour. Not going to complain, and it works especially well for Radio Moscow, who tossed in a new song full of intricate starts and stops that served as a reminder of how ridiculously tight the band’s rhythm section, bassist Anthony Meier and drummer Paul Marrone are, though it’s guitarist/vocalist Parker Griggs who takes the bulk of the solos, each one earned and soaked in wah.
I don’t care who you are or what you’ve seen, watching Pentagram play “Forever My Queen” is one of the great joys of doom. When I came back from dinner before the show started, I got to watch some of their soundcheck, so I knew “Be Forewarned” was coming — you might say I was forewarned — but “8” from Last Rites and “Dying World” from the self-titled were cool to hear alongside staples like “Sign of the Wolf (Pentagram),” “All Your Sins” and “When the Screams Come.” While they were setting up their gear, someone in the crowd looked up and said, “Holy shit, it’s Victor Griffin!” and that about sums it up. His tone and Bobby Liebling‘s frontman presence are a rightfully legendary combo, and even though it was the first night of their tour as well, they sent the Seattle crowd into the evening well aware of who and what they had just seen. The current Pentagram lineup, with Griffin, Liebling, bassist Greg Turley and drummer Sean Saley already sounded like pros, but I’ll be really interested to see where they’re at by the time we roll into San Francisco.
We loaded out the gear from El Corazon about as fast as we could and on the way back out to the Red Roof Inn, I asked Jim Pitts to stop the van so I could jump out and take a picture of the Space Needle. No regrets. Tomorrow morning, 11AM, we head to Portland. It’s after 3:30AM now. I think everyone was a little more relaxed with the first show down. Myself included.