Wretch, Wretch: Deep Freeze, Deep Thaw (Plus Track Premiere)

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on August 16th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

Wretch wretch

[Click play above to stream ‘Icebound’ from Wretch’s self-titled debut, out Aug. 26 on Bad Omen.]

Doom has anxiously and rightfully awaited the return of Karl Simon to the fold. Formerly the guitarist/vocalist for The Gates of Slumber, Simon formed Wretch shortly before the untimely passing of Gates bassist Jason McCash in 2014, that band having called it quits some months earlier after the release of a final EP, Stormcrow (review here). The Indianapolis outfit make their self-titled debut on Bad Omen Records with seven tracks that in some ways stand very much in line with what Simon brought to The Gates of Slumber and in other ways are a marked departure. Bassist Bryce Clarke and drummer Chris Gordon both make a striking impression as the rhythm section, particularly in the Judas Priest cover “Winter” and the tempo-shifting “Icebound,” which follows, but a lot of Wretch‘s Wretch is Simon directly confronting the death of a close friend, and even in stylized moments like the churning, mostly-psychedelic instrumental solo showcase “Bloodfinger,” that sincerity and intensity of feeling are palpable.

The Gates of Slumber told stories about conquerors and monsters — Wretch seem more grounded in the actual pains of living on. Of course, anyone who has heard Simon‘s prior work will recognize crucial elements like the early NWOBHM darkness and, in closer “Drown” particularly, the influence of Saint Vitus‘ Dave Chandler‘s style of lurch-riffing. What Simon has managed to do throughout his career — and most especially on the final The Gates of Slumber album, 2011’s The Wretch (review here), from which this band takes their moniker — is bring something fresh to that influence and to that of Scott “Wino” Weinrich, preaching a true doom ethic that has both won over and created converts for more than the last decade.

Wretch‘s Wretch is hard to separate from this context, but it’s important to note that the album does have a personality of its own that’s separate from what The Gates of Slumber might’ve done even on a follow-up to their last offering. A seven-track run provides a dense but manageable and varied 33-minute listen, and between the gallop of opener “Running out of Days” and the hook of the subsequent “Rest in Peace” — not a Trouble cover, but no doubt nodding in that direction — on which Simon delivers the lines “Set me free/Let me rest in peace” in such a manner as to make one wonder who the speaker in the song is, himself or McCash, the new band is quick to establish itself as something separate. That one-two punch — the leadoff track crashing directly into the second — gives Wretch an immediately distinct feel, and it’s one that feeds into even the later crawl of “Drown” or “Icebound” or even the minimal guitar interlude “Grey Cast Mourning” that separates them.

wretch

A general downward trajectory in tempo for the linear front-to-back listen, Wretch split the album neatly into two sides, and though the whole thing is downtrodden, it’s clearly side B where that comes through most in the material, though even the Wino-style solo layering of “Bloodfinger,” which is as close to classic psychedelia as anything I’ve ever heard Simon play, and probably closer — Gordon does an excellent job holding down a central groove to give the guitar space to flesh out — there’s an underlying melancholy. “Winter,” which originally appeared on Judas Priest‘s 1974 debut, Rocka Rolla as “Winter/Deep Freeze,” plays that up as well even as it basks in “War Pigs”-esque bounce and an element of swirl that feeds off what “Bloodfinger” accomplishes before it in expanding the overall scope of the record.

As “Winter” fits thematically with “Bloodfinger”‘s instrumental feel, so too does “Icebound” pick up smoothly in lyrical theme from “Winter.” The eight-minute cut is the longest on Wretch and while its main riff brings to mind The Obsessed and is trad doom of the highest order, the three-piece find room as well to sneak a bit of boogie into the midsection, which is unexpected and satisfying in kind, particularly following a wah-soaked solo from Simon. They return to that main riff without ceremony and ride it through a verse and shift into a long minute-plus fadeout that ends the song and brings on “Grey Cast Mourning,” a 2:34 piece for standalone guitar that reinforces the emotional crux of the album in its atmosphere of grief and melancholy. It’s an interlude, but both for how it splits “Icebound” and “Drown,” and for what it brings in mood, is more than justified in its presence. Its peaceful meditation makes the “I Bleed Black”-ish riff of “Drown” feel that much more weighted as it introduces the album’s closer.

A massive, rolling nod ensues, Simon‘s vocals buried under his and Clarke‘s tones and coated in effects, and it becomes clear quickly that Wretch are hitting bottom as regards the atmosphere of the record. I’m not sure if there could’ve been a more appropriate finish for the self-titled than “Drown,” which not only contrasts the relatively upbeat — at least in pace — beginning of the album, but emphasizes the spiral that led them to that point while mirroring that downward movement in the lyrics with masterful cohesion. The end comes with a final crash from Gordon and a short ring-out, leaving the listener with the feeling that there’s more to say. This too is no doubt purposeful on the band’s part, and it ultimately makes their debut all the more resonant, as if to ask what good it would do to keep going, emotionally or practically. In taking these issues head-on, Wretch‘s Wretch would be grueling were it not for the work the early portion does in building forward momentum, but as it stands, the balance positions the album among 2016’s best in doom. It is brutally honest, conceptually and aurally weighted, and, one hopes, cathartic.

Wretch, Wretch preorder at Bad Omen Records

Wretch on Thee Facebooks

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Friday Full-Length: Kalas, Kalas

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 12th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

Kalas, Kalas (2006)

Kalas was a short-lived five-piece fronted by Matt Pike of High on Fire and Sleep. During their time together, which reportedly started in 2003, they released one full-length, self-titled, on Tee Pee Records. They did not tour extensively. I remember seeing them at SXSW 2006 in Austin, Texas, at a day party sponsored by Vice — at the time I had no idea what Vice was, but Witch were also playing, so I wasn’t missing it either way — and watching as Pike rushed through the crowd to get on stage because the band’s set was about to start. It was that kind of thing. Someone would tell me later that Kalas essentially came out of his desire to practice his vocals and expand his range for High on Fire — which the album Kalas most definitely does on songs like “Frozen Sun” and “Mother’s Tears” — but I think the appeal of the record goes further than that.

Consider that in 2006, Sleep were still broken up, seemingly permanently. With High on Fire, Pike released Blessed Black Wings in 2005 and would follow it up with Death is this Communion in 2007, indeed having greatly expanded his vocal range. Kalas‘ self-titled is not only a bridge between those two albums, but also a tie to the more purely stonerized riffing of Sleep — or at very least is less maniacally metal than High on Fire were at the time and have only grown to be more so. By stepping back and not playing guitar, Pike gave crucial ground to six-stringers Andy Christ (ex-Eldopa) and Paul Kott (ex-High Tone Son of a Bitch) and led the band, which also included bassist Brad Reynolds and drummer Scott Plumb, in a different way than he ever had before or than he has since. He only played guitar in Sleep, but in Kalas, he only sang (minus a solo on “Frozen Sun”), and that became a defining feature of the group and the album.

Honestly, that would probably be enough to pique interest, but the album continues to deliver quality in the performance of the entire band and the songwriting. It’s not as rampage-prone as High on Fire, but Kalas grooves fluidly across its nine tracks, and the lyrics tackle issues of addiction and the resulting effects on life in a more direct way than Pike ever had before. It became a vibe that, on subsequent releases, might’ve come to develop along a path separate from anything else Pike was involved in, but instead it kind of languished behind the booming popularity of High on Fire — who were in the midst of doing some of their best work to-date — and the reunion of Sleep, which began in 2009. The self-titled would be the only thing they ever put out. Copies still float around, and if you’re lucky you might be able to find one in a used rack somewhere, but it continues to surprise me how little mention Kalas get in the Matt Pike discography, since they were unlike anything he’d done before or would do again. And, again, the songs hold up even a decade later.

More pre-social media heavy seemingly given up to the ages, awaiting reissue. Hope you enjoy.

I lost a little weight recently and so have been digging out some old t-shirts from boxes in the basement in hopes that they might fit. I chose the Kalas record because apparently at some point I purchased a Kalas t-shirt with the album cover on it. Must have been at that SXSW show, though I couldn’t say for sure — it was a long decade ago and I never went to Austin that I didn’t spend the entire half-week bordering on blackout drunk. Or my 20s. Ha.

Anyway, I think I might wear that Kalas shirt to The Obelisk All-Dayer, which is only eight days away. It’s pretty new looking. I might’ve never worn it before.

If you don’t have your tickets yet for The Obelisk All-Dayer, which is Aug. 20 at Saint Vitus Bar, get them here: https://www.ticketfly.com/purchase/event/1067269

Next week the countdown to that show will continue. Look for exclusive and awesome stuff from Funeral HorseKing Buffalo and Heavy Temple, and maybe a special writeup for the afterparty as well, because I’m really stoked on bringing Walter Roadburn and Adam from The Golden Grass on board to DJ after Mars Red Sky plays. It’s going to be such an awesome day. Please come. Please show up.

Also next week, look out for a review and some kind of audio premiere for the new Second Grave album, Blacken the Sky. To be followed Tuesday (I think) by Wretch and Wednesday by Blues Funeral. There’s more for later in the week, I’m just not sure what it is yet. Doing the All-Dayer countdown has put me way behind on videos as well. Might take a day to get caught up. We’ll see how it goes.

I hope you have a great and safe weekend. Please get your The Obelisk All-Dayer tickets, and please check out the forum and radio stream.

The Obelisk All-Dayer

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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Fuzz Evil to Release Self-Titled Debut Sept. 30

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 12th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

fuzz evil

I’m an easy sell on the prospect of Fuzz Evil‘s debut album. Having been lucky enough to see the trio in their native Arizona this past February, I’ll say they left zero doubt they were up to the task of their first full-length, and the newly-streaming “Killing the Sun” from their upcoming self-titled would seem to back that opinion thoroughly. They’ve got a couple choice guests involved as well — anytime Arthur Seay shows up, it’s a party — and Fuzz Evil‘s Fuzz Evil will be out via respected purveyor Battleground Records on Sept. 30.

If you’ve been paying attention or have seen the new release calendar on the forum, you already know that Sept. 30 is arguably the most crowded release date of the year. No coincidence as it’s when print mags will be starting to get their year-end lists in for consideration. Nonetheless, Fuzz Evil boldly throw their hat in the ring with Brant Bjork, Truckfighters, Alcest, Holy Serpent and Langfinger, as well as probably six or seven others still to come. I look forward to hearing what they’ve come up with for the album as a whole.

West Coast tour dates and the album announcement, from the PR wire:

fuzz evil self-titled

FUZZ EVIL to release debut album on Battleground Records | Embark on US West Coast Tour this October

Fuzz Evil is released on 30th September 2016

Formed in Arizona’s Sierra Vista in 2014, Fuzz Evil is a riff propelled power trio founded by brothers Wayne and Joseph Rudell of heavy desert stoners Powered Wig Machine.

With two singles currently to their name – last year’s ‘Born Of Iron’ and 2014’s 7” split with fellow Arizonans, Chiefs – this September sees the official release of their self-titled debut on the Washington-based label Battleground Records.

Joined by newest member and fellow Powered Wig Machinist Daniel Graves on drums, Fuzz Evil serves up a thunderous blast of rock ‘n’ roll reverie indebted to the likes of MC5, The Stooges, Clutch and Black Sabbath. Recorded, mixed and mastered at Primrose Studio by Brian Gold, from the opening crunch of ‘Good Medicine’ (featuring Unida/House Of Broken Promises’ Arthur Seay) to the progressively harbingered ‘Black Dread’, the album flows like the diaries of a cosmic nomad. Swirling and psychedelically enhanced with storylines spun from the mind’s eye of vocalist Wayne Rudell and his obsession with comic books, science fiction and cult cinema.

Fuzz Evil also embark on US West Coast Tour this October in support of the new album, which will receive an official release on 30th September via Battleground Records. For the full list of dates take a look below.

Fuzz Evil:
Wayne Rudell – Vocals/Guitar
Joseph Rudell – Bass Guitar
Daniel Graves – Drums

Arthur Seay (House Of Broken Promises/Unida) – Lead Guitar on ‘Good Medicine’
Marlin Tuttle – Drums
Brian Gold – Keys

Fuzz Evil Live:
1/10 – Silver Dollar Saloon – El Monte, CA
2/10 – Golden Bull – Oakland, CA
3/10 – TBC – San Jose, CA
4/10 – Starlite Lounge – Sacremento, CA
6/10 – Kenton Club – Portland, OR
7/10 – Valley’s – Tacoma, WA
8/10 – Tim’s – Seattle, WA
9/10 – Sam Bonds – Eugene, OR

Artist: Fuzz Evil
Title: Fuzz Evil
Release Date: 30th September 2016
Label: Battleground Records
Formats: Vinyl/CD/Digital
All songs written by Fuzz Evil
Recorded/Mixed/Mastered by Brian Gold at Primrose Studio, Sierra Vista, Arizona

Artwork by Joseph Rudell & Carrie Olaje of Ghosttown Graphic Art – facebook.com/ghosttowngraphicart

https://www.facebook.com/FuzzEvil/
https://fuzzevil.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/battlegroundrecords/
https://battlegroundrecords.bandcamp.com/

Fuzz Evil, “Killing the Sun”

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Friday Full-Length: Sgt. Sunshine, Sgt. Sunshine

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 5th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

Sgt. Sunshine, Sgt. Sunshine (2003)

It is somewhat in the nature of heavy rock and roll to be the underdog, and there are few records in the post-Kyuss era of the genre that emphasize this as well as Sgt. Sunshine‘s self-titled debut. Released in 2003 on Abstract Sounds, it arrived at the tail end of one era of Swedish heavy rock — Dozer and Lowrider were already years out from their debut, to say nothing of the likes of Spiritual Beggars or Mother Superior, both of whom debuted in the ’90s — but were part of a wider swing through Europe in general for sure. In the laid back grooves of “Kosmo Terra” and “Mountain Song” one could hear similar movement to what Colour Haze brought to Ewige Blumenkraft in 2001. There are countless bands from the post-2000-but-pre-Facebook years who’ve been lost, and I’ve done my best to highlight some of them here, but the trio of guitarist/vocalist Eduardo Fernandez, bassist Pär Hallgren and drummer Christian Lundberg were able to capture something of their own in the funky push of “Rio Rojo” that predates the emergence of jam-based heavy psych by years and yet moves fluidly into and out of a structured feel. The whole album is like that. I don’t know if I’d call it a “lost classic” — shit, it’s on YouTube, and Heavy Psych Sounds reissued it on vinyl last year — but more like a landmark that has some moss grown on it and could use some more recognition than it’s gotten to this point.

One can hear the threads of Kyuss filtered through an early Dozer influence on “Northern Light,” but there’s something looser that Fernandez brings to the riffing on Sgt. Sunshine and that Lundberg brings to the drums and Hallgren to the bass. The swagger in the intro to lungs shows it, or the Hendrix-style liquefaction of the penultimate “Sad Song.” It’s part of Sgt. Sunshine‘s dynamic that they sound like they’re going to lose control of the whole thing and then they don’t. Not every band can work like that naturally, but especially to do so on their first record makes it all the more a standout. With its silly cover art and veering into Spanish lyrics on “Rio Rojo” and going full-on heavy psych jam-out on the mostly instrumental closer “Culebra,” they genuinely played into giving the impression that anything could happen next, and not knowing where they might be headed only made the album more exciting, both within itself and in terms of what were then their future prospects. Of course, they’d go on to release a second album, Black Hole, in 2007, and a third, III (review here), in 2013, so we know where they’d ultimately end up direction-wise, first playing to a more straightforward sound and then bringing back some of the natural vibing present on the self-titled, but they continue to remain an undervalued act even within heavy rock circles as they head into the impending release of a fourth full-length, titled Plataformas, that seems like it’s going to be a digital self-release. Hopefully more to come on that.

In the meantime, enjoy Sgt. Sunshine‘s Sgt. Sunshine, and thanks for reading.

As of tomorrow, we’re two weeks away from The Obelisk All-Dayer, Aug. 20 at Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn (BUY YOUR TICKETS). I’m starting to get nervous, and excited, and getting all of those something-cool-is-about-to-happen feelings in my stomach. I hope people show up. I hope bands show up. I hope the food shows up. Fingers crossed all around.

Better week this week. Just kind of plugging along. Long. Not sleeping particularly well, but some good records came in this week and that helps everything. Everything. Music still sounds good. Food still tastes good. That’s the update.

Next week’s already packed. Starting Monday I’ll be counting down to the aforementioned The Obelisk All-Dayer, Aug. 20 at Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn, featuring each band individually and basically talking about how and why they all fucking rule so hard. Also look out for streams from Howling GiantAugustine AzulThe Sweet Heat and maybe more. I wouldn’t mind reviewing the new Ahkmed or Dunsmuir either, but we’ll see if I get there.

I’ve also started planning the next Quarterly Review for the end of next month. Plenty of backlog to work from.

Please have a great and safe weekend. Thanks for reading this week, and please check out the All-Dayer, the forum and radio stream.

The Obelisk All-Dayer

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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Pale Grey Lore Release Self-Titled Debut

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 3rd, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

pale grey lore

I’ll be honest. These guys dropped me a line, caught me at the right moment, I checked out the record and dug what they were doing and that’s why I’m putting up a post about the album being released when it was over a month ago. Because I think the release is worth noting, and if you, like me, hadn’t yet checked out Ohio trio Pale Grey Lore and their self-titled debut, currently available digitally and on CD, then, well, you might want to go head and get yourself introduced.

The band was kind enough to give me some background on who they are and what they do and while I’ve still got digging in to do before I’ll be ready to review it properly, I think the description of their mission provided sums up the scope of the record pretty well, particularly when it comes to words like “psych” and “concise.” On early impression, it is strikingly efficient for a first album. I dig it.

Info, links and audio:

pale grey lore self titled

Pale Grey Lore debut album

Pale Grey Lore began as a collaboration between brothers Michael (guitar, vocals) and Adam Miller (drums), with Donovan Johnson (bass) joining up in the summer of 2014. Drawing upon elements of psych, doom, sludge, post-punk, and garage rock, Pale Grey Lore create groove-laden, fuzzed-out songs that are spacey yet concise. Their debut self-titled album, released in June of 2016, was engineered by Andy Sartain at Mindfield Recording and Mixing and mastered by Harold LaRue.

Conceived as a series of surreal vignettes, each track depicts allegorical scenes from a dystopian, post-apocalyptic world in which the lines between science and the occult, technology and superstition, are hopelessly blurred.

Guitar, vocals, theremin – Michael Miller
Drums – Adam Miller
Bass – Donovan Johnson

Music by Pale Grey Lore
Lyrics by Michael Miller
Recorded, engineered and mixed by Andy Sartain
Mastered by Harold LaRue
Cover art by Joel Chastain

https://www.facebook.com/palegreylore/
https://twitter.com/palegreylore
http://palegreylore.bigcartel.com/
http://palegreylore.bandcamp.com/

Pale Grey Lore, Pale Grey Lore (2016)

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Wretch Announce Aug. 26 Release for Self-Titled Debut

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 29th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

wretch

Indianapolis doomers Wretch will make their self-titled debut in less than a month’s time via Bad Omen Records. The trio formed by former The Gates of Slumber guitarist/vocalist Karl Simon after the demise of that band and subsequent death of bassist Jason McCash have been playing shows steadily for the last couple years — I was fortunate enough to catch them at Vultures of Volume II — and as Simon is joined by bassist Bryce Clarke and drummer Christopher Gordon, the vibe is as heavy in spirit as it is classic in tone, at least if the new track “Rest in Peace” is anything to go by. You’ll pardon me if I assume it is.

The album art and background follows, courtesy of Bad Omen, which has Wretch available now for preorder ahead of its official Aug. 26 release:

wretch wretch

Wretch – Self-Titled – Released August 26th, 2016

Lest we forget, doom metal stands for much more than merely a collection of Sabbathian riffs, funereal tempos and enormous amp-stacks. It’s a form of music that issues forth from the heart, the soul, and the gut. It can be an alchemical force that functions as a process of catharsis in times of need. What’s more, few know more about the power of this music than Karl Simon, formerly of the titanic and much-respected The Gates Of Slumber, and now of Wretch, whose debut carries on valiantly with the mission he began some eighteen years ago.

The making of this self-titled album marked both a renaissance and a crucial tonic for Simon himself – in the wake of the death of his close friend and The Gates Of Slumber bandmate Jason McCash, he was forced to make sense of a profound loss, and the making of this debut formed a crucial part of this process,

The new power-trio he formed with drummer Chris Gordon and bassist Bryce Clarke rose above their circumstances to issue forth a fearsome salvo of cast-iron riffage and heartfelt traditional metal heraldry, shot through with a steely conviction instilled by the experiences of recent days. “It is a new beginning, but I am what I am. I don’t set out to write a style of music.” notes Simon, “This is what happens when I pick up a guitar”

“Making this record has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done” he adds. “Jason and I met just out of school and instantly became best friends. All of my memories as an adult feature him. All of the songs on this record are about him, about me, about our drug use and his death. I’m not close to getting over the grief. In a lot of ways I’ve lost my mind. I hope that people are touched by the record – I am often on the verge of tears while playing..It’s tough reliving those moments”

Heavy in sincerity and emotion rather than in pitch and tone, these gritty yet grandiose songs may follow in the lineage and spirit of classic crusaders like Saint Vitus, The Obsessed and Cirith Ungol, yet the eerily thundering ‘Running Out Of Days’ and the downcast yet groove-laden ‘Icebound’ reach pinnacles of soulful intensity and emotional resonance. Meanwhile, a heroic essaying of Judas Priest’s early classic ‘Winter’ sees Simon & Co. connect with Heavy Metal’s most gnarled and vital roots. Defiant against all adversity, this debut stands proud as a fiery testimony to an indomitable spirit, one finding its way with grace and honesty through the trials and travails of the everyday.

“The days of swords and sorcery are pretty much over for me” notes Karl”. “No more giant spiders or Iceworms, There are real horrors that occupy my mind these days.”

Vinyl Pressing info:
White Vinyl – 80 units exclusive to Bad Omen webstore
“Bone” Vinyl
Black Vinyl

https://bad-omen.backstreetmerch.com/artist/wretch
https://www.facebook.com/Wretch-469537983166326/
http://wretch.bad-omen-records.com/

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Positiva Release Self-Titled Full-Length on Odio Sonoro

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 25th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

If you haven’t yet, fans of Spiritual Beggars-style classic heavy rock will probably want to take note of what Positiva are doing on their self-titled third album. Newly issued through Odio Sonoro, the Spanish four-piece’s latest offering has a crisp, organ-laced modernity to its nonetheless classic-minded form, and with two songs streaming in “Get On” and the swaggering “Neverending Lust,” it gives an impression of vibe that leaves little question as to why the band would make it self-titled. They’d be hard-pressed to find better representation, I think.

The following PR wire-style info came through from Odio Sonoro in Spanish, but I fed it through a certain major internet company’s translation matrix. Some of the linguistic intricacy might have gotten lost as a result, but I think it’ll still be enough to get the point across. If not, you can always skip right to the tracks as well:

positiva positiva-700

Positiva: songs advance, cover and tracklist of the new album

At last!!! Positiva has a new album, the third album by the rock band Bilbaína will be unveiled early in July. Ten explosive passages full of energy and passion contained in the studies Tío Pete at the hands of José Lastra. In this last album, entitled the name of the group itself, “Positiva”, collected some of the material created in recent years. With a new lead vocals (Eriz, ex Gilah Monster and Lovercraft) and a single guitar instead of two, the band makes a small difference in structure, maintaining its sound and character with as much or more intensity than before.

“During this transition period, we have worked in privacy, adapting to the new training topics and writing new material with the intention of returning to the stage. This work is the fruit of that work.”

Today, by extra-musical personal reasons, and very reluctantly, the band is inactive, waiting for time to allow them to return to action. For now, Unai (drums) and Julio (guitar, vocals), with the invaluable help of José Odio Sonoro, will present his latest album enthusiastically: “Positiva”.

1.Lonely Man
2.Get On
3.Neverending Lust
4.Leave Me Alone
5.Hazy Town
6.Trapped In Body & Soul
7.Icarus
8.Hard To Stay
9.Trace Back Your Steps
10.Glory Hole

Julio Ruiz – guitar, vocals
Unai G. de Kortazar – drums, backing vocals
Eriz de la Fuente – lead vocals
Txetxu Aguado – bass, backing vocals

Additional keyboards on tracks 2, 4 and 10: Jose Lastra

https://www.facebook.com/POSITIVA-183772025431/
https://odiosonoro.bandcamp.com/album/positiva-positiva
http://www.odiosonoro.com
https://odiosonoro.bigcartel.com/

Positiva, Positiva (2016)

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Elephant Tree Interview with Jack Townley: Circles and Echoes

Posted in Features on July 18th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

elephant tree 1 (Photo by John White)

One could wax philosophical all day about the combination of weighted groove, lush melody, songcraft and tonal depth playing out across Elephant Tree‘s self-titled Magnetic Eye Records debut LP (review here), but as far as doing it justice, it seems like a futile enterprise. The album’s richness, the ease of its execution — nothing sounds labored, nothing feels overwrought — and its consistent sense of movement make it easily one of 2016’s best debut records, and one of the best records of the year overall. It’s the kind of thing that makes you want to tell a friend they need to hear it, because invariably they do.

How’d they get there? The London-based four-piece of guitarist/vocalist Jack Townley, bassist/vocalist Peter Holland (also Trippy Wicked), drummer Sam Hart and sitarist/vocalist/engineer Riley MacIntyre offered up their debut EP, Theia (review here), in 2014 (also through Magnetic Eye), and showed immediately a penchant for laid back heavy roll and psychedelic flourish, but a few key changes took place in the short time between Theia and Elephant Tree, among them a shift in focus away from incorporating screaming vocals — I’ll say that the advent of a genuinely psychedelic sludge is an intriguing prospect, and they made it work well — and MacIntyre‘s sitar alongside Townley‘s guitar and Holland‘s bass.

Townley is quick to point out there are still screams on the record, they’re just buried for atmospheric effect, but even that is a change from two years ago. Part of the driving force behind that would seem to be MacIntyre‘s work as producer, steering the sonic concepts with which the band would work as well as contributing to the music itself. Indeed, Elephant Tree sounds like an album thought out beforehand and during the process, and while recording the basic tracks in the room together gives it a natural underlying character, the blues and greens of its tones and the harmonies in the vocals over them are emblematic of the willful progression the band has undertaken.

And perhaps most encouraging of all, that progression would seem to just be at its outset. It’s important to keep in mind as the melancholy piano notes close out “Surma” that Elephant Tree is still just Elephant Tree‘s first full-length. In speaking to Townley, I tried to get an idea both of how this record came together and how the next one might move forward from here. The interview took place admittedly a while ago, just before Elephant Tree teamed up with Bordeaux, France-based heavy psych forerunners Mars Red Sky for a run of shows in the UK — they’ve also done stints with Bright Curse and they’ll play Cardiff’s Red Sun festival on July 29 with Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush MastersGrifterDesert StormOld Man Lizard and many others — and so there was much to discuss.

Please find the complete Q&A after the jump, and enjoy. Thank you for reading.

Read more »

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