Irata Premiere “Tower” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 12th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

irata

The other day as I made my usual rounds of social media perusal and dicking around not getting anything done, I came across a post — don’t even remember who it was, so don’t ask — griping about how awesome Helmet used to be and why don’t they make bands like that anymore and so on. Well, okay. That’s one way to look at the universe. Yeah, they were cool in their day. On the other hand, fucking Irata. The North Carolinian four-piece made their debut on Small Stone in April with Tower, their second album overall, and if what you’re looking for is to hear a band belting out full-tilt riffs with an emphasis on rhythmic groovemaking, they’ve got you covered — plus melody. Tower is eight songs/39 minutes, and the title-track, with lead vocals from drummer Jason Ward, go-crush guitar work from Cheryl Manner and Owen Burd and low-end force from Jon Case is just the very beginning of what’s on offer on the album that shares its name. And not just because it’s the first track, either. Whether it’s the proggy winding of “Waking Eye” or the wistful guitar melody in “Innocent Murmur,” the Jane’s Addiction-meets-Torche vibe of “Weightless” or the spacier nuance in the early going of “Crawl to Corners,” there’s more dynamic on display throughout Tower than, frankly, anyone bitching about how “they don’t make bands like Band X anymore” probably deserves. Who gives a shit? They make bands like Irata.

Shades of prog metal work their way into side B leadoff “Leviathan” and the harmonies find their most righteous manifestation in closer “Constellations,” but somehow Irata‘s prevailing atmosphereirata tower still seems to be in straight-up heavy rock. They’re grounded in structure, but Manner and Burd have a fluid and often subtle interplay on guitar — the second half of the finale is a fitting example, but the if-you’re-going-to-have-two-guitars-then-use-them-both ethos applies just as well to “Innocent Murmur” and other tracks surrounding — and with the variety in the arrangements of vocals and periodic bouts of thrust like that at the outset of “Waking Eye,” Tower is able to keep its audience guessing in terms of just where the band are headed, something which wouldn’t be possible without Ward‘s drums as an anchor for the material structurally. In the turns of “Waking Eye” and the jabs of the penultimate “Golden Tongue,” the drums provide the flow over which the guitars and bass are able to so effectively careen, giving the vocals an all-the-more solid foundation even as that foundation seems so intent on movement throughout. Dynamic is the word, and chemistry is for sure a factor as well, but whether it’s the fuzzed airiness of “Weightless” or the insistent and deep-weighted apex of Ward‘s synth at the beginning of “Leviathan,” there’s a sense of control in Irata‘s material that only lends consciousness to the creativity of their songwriting — the choices they make in terms of transitions, vocals, etc.

All of this comes together to make Irata‘s sound something of a modern amalgam, definitely drawing from ’90s alternative rock but filtering that through heavy impulses born of the current generation of riffy practitioners of various stripes. It’s a combination that works and still sets Irata up for further growth down the line. I’m not saying it’s revolutionary, but I am saying it knows exactly what it’s doing, and that’s rare enough in itself.

And to the original point, this is a thing that’s happening right now. Wouldn’t you rather make future nostalgia than lament the past?

While you’re thinking about it, here’s a video premiere for “Tower” to smack you upside the head.

Enjoy:

Irata, “Tower” official video premiere

“Tower” is the title track from Irata’s 2019 LP of the same name. Shot in 2018 on location in Greensboro and Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

IRATA
Jon Case – bass, vocals
Jason Ward – drums, vocals, synth
Cheryl Manner – guitar
Owen Burd – guitar

Irata on Thee Facebooks

Irata on Bandcamp

Irata website

Small Stone Records website

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Review & Full Album Stream: Abrahma, In Time for the Last Rays of Light

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on May 22nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

abrahma in time for the last rays of light

[Click play above to stream Abrahma’s In Time for the Last Rays of Light in its entirety. Album is out Friday on Small Stone Records and Deadlight Entertainment.]

It has been an especially long four years since France’s Abrahma released their second album, Reflections in the Bowels of a Bird (review here). As early as 2016, the topic of a new full-length had been broached, and they revealed recording plans in consecutive Junes across 2017 and 2018. The latter took. By the time they got there, guitarist/vocalist and principle songwriter Sébastien Bismuth was the lone remaining original member of the band, with a changing lineup around him that contributed in no small part to the delay. In the end, it was by absorbing the entirety of the band Splendor Solis that Bismuth was able to construct Abrahma as a five-piece and enter Orgone Studios to record with Jaime Gomez Arellano, known for his work with Paradise Lost, GhostDream DeathOrange Goblin, etc., and the resulting LP, In Time for the Last Rays of Light, harvests cohesion from the tumult of its making.

With Bismuth joined by guitarist/synthesist/noisemaker Benoît Carel, guitarist/vocalist Florian Leguillon, bassist/vocalist Romain Hauduc and drummer/vocalist Baptiste Keriel, the eight tracks and 49 minutes of the record play out with a fullness and a patience that undercuts the basic idea that this is a completely new lineup — perhaps the fact that CarelLeguillonHauduc and Keriel were a band previously helps — and builds on the atmospheric impression Abrahma made on their second LP with a greater focus on songwriting patience and telling a story with the songs front to back. The operating theme is coping with mental illness, specifically depression, and whether it’s the wailing guitar of “Lost. Forever.” or the turns between massive chug and harmonized vocals of the penultimate “Eclipse of the Sane Pt. 2: Fiddler of the Bottle,” Bismuth and company hold firmly to that focus across the record’s span. Methodical pacing and tonal weight lend depth to the mood of the material, and while there’s certainly a creative range at play, the songs serve the purpose of conveying that theme regardless of arrangement or other factors.

Those who remember Abrahma‘s 2012 debut, Through the Dusty Paths of Our Lives (review here), might be surprised at just how metal some of the guitars sound throughout In Time for the Last Rays of Light, be it at the end of 8:41 third and longest cut “Eclipse of the Sane Pt. 1: Isolation Ghosts” or in the six-minute side B leadoff “Last Epistle,” which emerges from a short intro “Dusk Contemplation” with what would be the album’s most intense spirit — capping in some unabashedly death metal-style chugga-chug in the fadeout accompanied by double-kick drum that’s only too appropriate — were it not for the subsequent “Wander in Sedation,” which swirls in on a dark severity of tone and resolves its lumbering progression in a culminating stretch of blastbeats, echoing those earlier of “Lucidly Adrift” on side A, which takes hold from side A and marries together heavy post-rock with these more extreme impulses.

abrahma

What actually keeps Abrahma from being full-tilt metal is their melodic sensibility and the overarching groove of In Time for the Last Rays of Light. There are moments certainly where one might call out a doom-rooted sense of theatricality, as on closer “There Bears the Fruit of Deceit,” in which a complex arrangement of multiple vocalists — or at least multiple layers — brings mournful resolution to the turbulence preceding, going so far as to have some shouting behind Bismuth in a call-and-response in the pre-chorus, touching on a vibe that would nod to Arellano‘s work with Paradise Lost in its general atmosphere, but working from a foundation of heavy rock instead of classic doom. Still, Abrahma make the lines between styles blurrier on In Time for the Last Rays of Light than they ever have before, and that in itself is something of a victory when it comes to establishing their sound on their third record. They are their most progressive here and their most sonically bold, from the memorable lead line of “Lost. Forever.” setting the downer course for what follows through the last march of “There Bears the Fruit of Deceit” into its fading ringout.

In keeping with that, Bismuth‘s presence as a frontman has never been so palpable. His vocal melodies range further than they have before, and with the others surrounding him at various points throughout, it leads to a more complete and more engaging experience, contrasting the instrumental thrust at times, but finding a foothold in that contrast. And maybe that’s the idea of the record as a whole — exploring or at least trying to come to an understanding of that dynamic and finding a place within it from which to express the emotionality at the core of In Time for the Last Rays of Light. Depression is not an easy to talk about. If it were, it would probably be less pervasive. But Abrahma do not shy away from saying what they want to say about it, and while they don’t go so far as to offer some clichéd hopeful ending, they do manage to craft something beautiful out of the darkened foundations from which they work. The inevitable question, then, is what it will lead to, and how indicative In Time for the Last Rays of Light ultimately will be of where the band are headed, creatively as well as in the simple reality of the players involved.

I don’t know if Abrahma‘s lineup woes are done or not, but listening to “Last Epistle,” “Lucidly Adrift,” “Eclipse of the Sane Pt. 2: Fiddler of the Bottle” and each of the other tracks that make it, it’s clear In Time for the Last Rays of Light was an album that the band needed to make, almost to exorcise it from their collective system. It is a record of striking instrumental purpose and expressive intent. It not only moves their sound forward from where it was four years ago, but it changes the narrative of the group’s function and that of Bismuth as a bandleader and songwriter. What might come next, I won’t speculate, but for the way it lays bare the personal and pushes Abrahma to places they’ve never been, it is an achievement worthy of the obvious pains taken to make it.

Abrahma website

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Small Stone Records website

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Abrahma Post “Lost Forever” Video; In Time for the Last Rays of Light Available to Preorder

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 23rd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

abrahma

It is exceedingly hard to discuss depression. The second one enters into the classification of a diagnosis, the conversation changes. You become less of a person than the manifestation of an idea. This is true of any diagnosis. Think of the simple language involved sometimes. Depressives. Schizophrenics. Cancer patients. Not “people with…” but a simple, easily-filed categorization that saps the individual of their humanity when, let’s face it, acknowledging one’s humanity could potentially go a long way as a first step to addressing the issue in question. It doesn’t always help — it’s not going to make tumors stop growing — but it never hurts.

Making their return after an even-longer-feeling four-year absence, French progressive heavy rockers Abrahma are tackling the issue of depression head on with their new album, In Time for the Last Rays of Light, which is out May 24 on Small Stone and Deadlight Entertainment. The follow-up to 2015’s Reflections in the Bowels of a Bird (review here) indeed puts a human face on depression and the effects thereof on oneself and those surrounding. The video for “Lost Forever” directly portrays the despondency and loneliness that one can feel, even when in the company of loved ones. It manifests in the clip directed by Michael Leclere as a grueling agony with a tragic end and is by no means easy to watch.

“Lost Forever” is the opening track on In Time for the Last Rays of Light. I’m hoping to set up a premiere with a review as we get closer to the release, so keep an eye out for that (or, you know, don’t, if it doesn’t happen), but in the meantime, you can see the clip for “Lost Forever” below, followed by more info from the PR wire. I’d normally say “enjoy” here, but it seems crass given the context. Maybe just understand?

Here goes:

Abrahma, “Lost Forever” official video

In Time For The Last Rays Of Light is the third full-length from French progressive heavy rock outfit ABRAHMA. Set for release next month via Small Stone, the record follows three tumultuous years of personal challenges and lineup changes and is a chronicle of the ravages of coping with loss and mental illness, brought to bear with heavy and progressive songwriting, melodic catharsis, and an impact that goes beyond the material itself.

In advance of its release, the band has unveiled the moving video clip for “Lost Forever.” Offers director Michael Leclere, “‘Lost Forever’ unequivocally deals with depression, so I wanted to evoke identity quest as a parry to nothingness; when you lose yourself into the wilderness and have to draw in your own resources, facing yourself and looking after your animus, finding the strength to fight for things that may seem meaningless. Moving slowly toward an inextricable death, whether you do it to get a little more time or to find epiphany as a last shield before the abyss. We keep scattering pieces of ourselves through our constant efforts to stay alive. It’s like dying a little more each time. And it’s what will get us in the end.”

ABRAHMA’s In Time For The Last Rays Of Light will be released May 24th on CD and digital formats worldwide via Small Stone Records and in France on Deadlight Entertainment. For preorders go to THIS LOCATION.

Abrahma is:
Sébastien Bismuth – Vocals, Guitars
Florian Leguillon – Guitars, Vocals
Benoît Carel – Guitars, Synths & Effects
Romain Hauduc – Bass, Vocals
Baptiste Keriel – Drums, Vocals

Abrahma website

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Abrahma on Twitter

Small Stone Records website

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Abrahma Announce May 24 Release for In Time for the Last Rays of Light

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 21st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

abrahma

As it happens, I wrote the bio for Abrahma‘s upcoming third album, In Time for the Last Rays of Light, which will be out May 24 through Small Stone Records everywhere else and Deadlight Entertainment in the band’s native France. So yes, I’ve heard it. It is a darker affair than either of Abrahma‘s other two albums, but still carries the weight and impact that so typified 2016’s Reflections in the Bowels of a Bird (review here). No question though that the context has shifted, and founding frontman Sébastien Bismuth talks about a bit of what that’s all about in the bio below, touching on inward and outward tumult of a kind that, hey, I get it. Like, a lot.

I’m going to try to get some coverage set up for this one, so I’ll say “more to come” and leave it at that. You’ll find the PR wire below, and the bio I wrote starts after the “–” in the second paragraph.

Dig:

abrahma in time for the last rays of light

ABRAHMA to release third album “In Time For The Last Rays Of Light” on May 24th through Small Stone Records

ABRAHMA’s third album “In Time for the Last Rays of Light” follows three tumultuous years of personal challenges and lineup changes. It is a chronicle of the ravages of coping with loss and mental illness, brought to bear with heavy and progressive songwriting, melodic catharsis and an impact that goes beyond the material itself.

— Produced and mixed at Orgone Studios by Jaime Gomez Arellano (Paradise Lost, Ghost, Candlemass), “In Time for the Last Rays of Light” follows 2015’s “Reflections in the Bowels of a Bird” and whether it is the stark chug and lumbering weight of “Eclipse of the Sane Pt. 1: Isolation Ghosts” or the furious blast-beating in the prior “Lucidly Adrift,” its songs produce a depth of atmosphere that speaks to the soul that birthed them. A split with the prior lineup of the band brought the Rouen, France-based founding vocalist/guitarist Sébastien Bismuth into contact with local outfit Splendor Solis, whose members would soon be folded into the new incarnation of ABRAHMA. After many false starts, the band hit the studio in July 2018 and set to work on what is unmistakably their greatest accomplishment to-date: an album that copes with the depression that birthed it and soars hopefully above while reminding that the darkness beneath is ever-present.

“People do not take mental illness seriously,” says Bismuth. “People suffering from depression generally feel rejected, and it is not only a feeling. People that never gone through it generally do not really understand how hard it can be to live every day with this weight on your shoulders, all those questions going through your head.” Spanning genres and decades of influence, from the Bowie-ism of “…Last Epistle” to the gothic unfolding of closer “There Bears the Fruit of Deceit,” “In Time for the Last Rays of Light” speaks with raw honesty and lush craft to its challenges and realizations. In keeping with the album’s theme, a portion of the merch proceeds from ABRAHMA’s next tours will go to help those suffering from mental illness. “I decided to use this album has a medication against this depression and maybe help other people in this situation,” Bismuth recounts. “Each song explains a different side of it: loss of confidence, other’s critical looks, the impression of not having a place in this world.”

With front and back covers by famed French artist Gustave Doré (1832-1883) and a greater expanse of sound than ABRAHMA has ever had before, “In Time for the Last Rays of Light” confronts its demons and offers a reminder that light exists in the first place. (Words by JJ Koczan for The Obelisk)

ABRAHMA “In Time For The Last Rays Of Light”
Out May 24th on Small Stone Records (world)
and Deadlight Entertainment (France)

TRACK LISTING :
1. Lost.Forever.
2. Lucidly Adrift
3. Eclipse of the Sane Pt.1: Isolation Ghosts
4. Dusk Contemplation…
5. …Last Epistle
6. Wander in Sedation
7. Eclipse of the Sane Pt. 2: Fiddler of the Bottle
8. There Bears the fruit of Deceit

Sébastien Bismuth – Vocals, Guitars
Florian Leguillon – Guitars, Vocals
Benoît Carel – Guitars, Synths & Effects
Romain Hauduc – Bass, Vocals
Baptiste Keriel – Drums, Vocals

www.abrahmamusic.net
www.facebook.com/ABRAHMAMUSIC
www.twitter.com/ABRAHMAMUSIC
http://www.smallstone.com
http://www.facebook.com/smallstonerecords
https://smallstone.bandcamp.com

Abrahma, In Time for the Last Rays of Light teaser

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Irata Announce Tower out May 24 on Small Stone; Title-Track Streaming; Touring in March

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 27th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

IRATA
As Irata stream the title-track of their upcoming album, Tower, they don’t seem to give away an awful lot about the record itself. After all, it’s only 2:45, but in context of the full LP, maybe they are sending a few signals after all. That runtime, for example, is already shorter than anything that appeared on 2015’s second album, Sweet Loris, and it introduces the fullness of tone with which they’re working as well as some of the basic influences driving them. It’s also the opener, so “Tower” is what Irata wanted to put forward on Tower, as well as what they thought they should name the album after. So it’s quick, but it does offer some information about the record.

Subsequent tracks — not that I’ve heard it or anything — are longer and touch on a variety of progressive elements classic and modern, metal and rock, but as an introduction to what’s coming, “Tower” ends up doing just fine. I’m saying I don’t think you’re gonna hear it and complain. Unless you stub your toe in that two-plus minutes or something. Or the egg salad has gone bad. Whatever.

Irata, to go with the news that Tower exists, has a song streaming, and will be released May 24 on Small Stone, also have a bundle of tour dates for March including a stop by SXSW for Small Stone‘s showcase — legendary fuzz and shenanigans — as well as the Stoner Jam that all the cool kids will be at. You should go to both. You’re awesome. They’ll let you in.

From the PR wire:

irata tower

IRATA: North Carolina Heavy Rock Unit Joins Small Stone Records For The Release Of Tower; Band To Play Small Stone SXSW Showcase + Additional Tour Dates Announced

Small Stone Records is pleased to welcome Greensboro, North Carolina-based heavy rock unit IRATA to their expanding roster of riff-heavy eminence. The band will release their Tower full length this May.

Issues the band of the union, “We are thrilled to be teaming up with a label that supports so many talented bands. We are happy to be a part of the Small Stone family.”

Since its 2007 genesis at the hands of founding members Jon Case (bass, vocals) and Jason Ward (drums, vocals), this Greensboro, North Carolina outfit has mutated restlessly, moving from its initial morphine-infused heavy fusion through math-y metal and finally to the soaring, technical heavy rock of its current approach. Over those dozen years, IRATA has made its presence known in metal and hard rock circles throughout the Southeast and beyond. Thanks to its growth from a trio with guitarist Cheryl Manner to a four-piece with the addition of guitarist Owen Burd, IRATA is evolving yet again.

With Burd’s talents on guitar, vocals, and trumpet added to what had already felt like a complete equation, IRATA is pushing itself to new vocal and instrumental heights. Accordingly, its upcoming LP Tower applies impressive musicianship and complex textures to increasingly approachable tunes that teeter between hard rock and prog-metal. It’s like the sports car version of Don Caballero.

Tower was recorded in vaunted hometown studio Legitimate Business and produced by All Them Witches guitarist Ben McLeod, with co-production by Legit Biz engineer and heavy metal mastermind Kris Hilbert. Flavors of Mastodon, Kylesa, Helms Alee and Sandrider mix with Smashing Pumpkins-reminiscent textures and clarion Perry Farrell-style vocals, creating a heavy palette that is both innovative and familiar.

Additional info on IRATA’s Tower, including preorders and teaser tracks, will be available in the coming weeks. In the meantime, IRATA will kick off a short stretch of live dates next month. Set to commence March 8th in Asheville, North Carolina and run through March 16th in New Orleans, Louisiana, The Rising Sun Tour includes a performance at Small Stone’s special SXSW showcase March 13th alongside their new labelmates Tia Carrera, Irata, La Chinga, Sundrifter, Dwellers, and The Cold Stares. See all confirmed dates below.

IRATA – Rising Sun Tour:
3/08/2019 Odditorium – Asheville, NC
3/09/2019 Maggie Meyers Irish Pub – Huntsville, AL
3/10/2019 Growlers – Memphis, TN
3/11/2019 Double Wide – Dallas, TX
3/12/2019 Over Flow Festival @ Super Happy Fun Land – Houston, TX
3/13/2019 Small Stone SXSW Showcase @ Lamberts – Austin, TX
3/14/2019 Spider House Stoner Jam – Austin, TX
3/15/2019 The Mix – San Antonio, TX
3/16/2019 Santos – New Orleans, LA

IRATA
Jon Case – bass, vocals
Jason Ward – drums, vocals, synth
Cheryl Manner – guitar
Owen Burd – guitar

http://www.facebook.com/iratabandofficial
https://iratalive.bandcamp.com/
https://www.iratalive.com/
http://www.smallstone.com
http://www.facebook.com/smallstonerecords
http://www.smallstone.bandcamp.com

Irata, Tower (2019)

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Sundrifter Post “Sons of Belial” Video; Playing SXSW and More

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 28th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

sundrifter

For those who think desert rock has to come from a desert, let alone any specific desert, Boston’s Sundrifter would stand in ready contradiction to such geographic prejudice. The trio issued Visitations (review here), through Small Stone Records last year as their label debut and second album overall, and its atmosphere, combination of laid-back roll, weighted tones and melodies — read: fuzz, fuzz, fuzz — situate it well within the parameters of a desert style. Shit, they’ve got desert rock in Finland. You can’t tell me it can’t come from the East Coast.

That said, one of the most fascinating aspects of Sundrifter‘s Visitations, which earns a revisit with the band’s new video for opening track “Sons of Belial,” is the band’s defiance of their climate. I’m not just talking about miserable Boston weather — though people in the area do, at length, as though they’re continually surprised by it — but also the greater Northeastern tendency toward an intensity of delivery. Visitations has its moments of push, as in “Lightworker” or parts of “Targeted,” which follows on side A, but even these are carried out with a sense of melody and serenity behind them, and at their most forward-directed, Sundrifter owe far more to Queens of the Stone Age than even to their Beantown forebears in Roadsaw. Coupled with the sense of atmosphere manifest from guitarist/vocalist Craig Peura, bassist Paul Gaughran and drummer Patrick Queenan, that mellow-ish overarching vibe does much to enrich the listening experience overall. It’s not that they’re lacking energy, they’re just not using that energy to shout shit at you from a moving vehicle.

They’ve reportedly started writing new material, which is plenty nifty, but Sundrifter will head out of New England as well as 2019 gets underway, hitting up SXSW in Austin, Texas, this March to play Small Stone‘s return showcase, dubbed ‘The Finest in Fuzz,’ alongside Tia CarreraDwellersIrataLa Chinga and The Cold Stares. I have no doubt they’ll be made to feel duly welcome in that environment, even as they convey one so seemingly disparate from that which they left behind. More shows are reportedly to be added this Spring, so stay tuned.

And of course you can enjoy “Sons of Belial” on the player below, followed by more info from the PR wire.

Dig:

Sundrifter, “Sons of Belial” official video

“Sons Of Belial” [is] the latest video from New England-based desert rock trio SUNDRIFTER. The track comes by way of the band’s Visitations full-length released via Small Stone last fall.

Notes the band of the fittingly trippy performance clip, “The video for ‘Sons Of Belial’ was filmed at Futura Productions in Roslindale, Massachusetts. The space used to be an old Masonic Temple later converted into an orchestral recording studio. We have been fortunate enough to be able to use the space for tracking both our albums Visitations and Not Coming Back. The space has a certain feel and most importantly an incredible live sound for drums/ For the video, we wanted to glow the entire room red, similar to our live shows. The red glow can put us in a certain state of mind, and it creates an atmosphere which allows a complete experience for the audience. We strive to create imagery through song writing and set certain vibes for the listener and this video for ‘Sons Of Belial’ tries to capture that experience.”

In related news, SUNDRIFTER will play Small Stone’s special SXSW showcase this March alongside Tia Carrera, Irata, La Chinga, Dwellers, and The Cold Stares with additional live performances to be announced in the coming weeks.

SUNDRIFTER:
3/13/2019 Small Stone SXSW Showcase @ Lamberts – Austin, TX

Sundrifter, Visitations (2018)

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Small Stone Records website

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Tia Carrera to Release Visitors / Early Purple March 22; Playing SXSW

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 23rd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

tia carrera

On March 13 at Lambert’s Downtown Barbecue, Austin’s own Tia Carrera will jam into oblivion as headliners of Small Stone Records‘ return SXSW showcase, topping a bill that includes The Cold StaresDwellersSundrifterLa Chinga and Irata. It’s been a while, but Small Stone showcases at SXSW are like a battle royale: Band vs. band. Volume vs. ears. Booze vs. liver. Those nights are the stuff of legend, and as the label girds its loins to revive the tradition, the hometown natives likewise make a return, this time with their first album since 2011’s Cosmic Priestess (review here). The off-the-cuff three-piece have brought in Dixie Witch bassist Curt Christenson, and Visitors / Early Purple will be out March 22, though preorders are up and you can stream the 16-minute side B cut — that’s “Early Purple” — right now. Of particular note is the fact that there isn’t a CD version being done; it’s vinyl and digital-only. Fascinating.

Info for the Small Stone showcase is here on Thee Facebooks, and info on the album follows:

tia carrera visitors early purple

Visitors / Early Purple by Tia Carrera

What can you say about Tia Carrera? Longevity, stamina, power, grace, sensuality, and telepathy? Don’t forget bone shakingly loud, always impressive and truly psychedelic.

Jason Morales (guitar) and Erik Conn (drums), each with a reputation in ATX for their shredness, are now pushing 20 years together as Tia Carrera with zero signs of slowing down. They’ve recruited longtime friend and legendary bass wizard, Curt Christenson (Dixie Witch/Crimson Devils) as a permanent member, in a move made a few years ago that has emboldened the band’s sound and dynamic, telepathic talent, and steadfast trajectory of heavy-psych-blues-bliss exploration.

The band is mysteriously and famously selective about what they officially release to the public. With every performance unique by the improvisation of their music, they’ve amassed quite a collection of recorded material, both live performances and private studio recordings.

Culled from the latter are the blistering plight of “Visitors” and muscle-car groove of “Early Purple,” both of which can be heard on Tia Carrera’s forthcoming release on Small Stone Records in Spring 2019.

Tia Carrera continue to gain new fans, influence their peers, ignite the legend worldwide, and are more respected and relevant than ever as veterans known to take their listeners on a journey of tripped-out and high energy proportions. It’s clear to anyone in earshot the band still loves what they do. And when they play, they’re loud enough that just about everyone is in earshot.

Releases March 22, 2019.

Tia Carrera is:
Jason Morales: guitar
Curt Christenson: bass

Recorded at the BBQ Shack, Austin, TX.
Mastered by Jerry Tubb at Terra Nova.
Artwork by Tim Kerr.
Layout by Alexander von Wieding.

http://www.smallstone.com
http://www.facebook.com/smallstonerecords
https://smallstone.bandcamp.com

Tia Carrera, Visitors / Early Purple (2019)

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Friday Full-Length: Dozer, Through the Eyes of Heathens

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 18th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Part of the magic of listening to Dozer is being able to say, no matter which of their five albums you put on, that, yes, this was the moment when they came into their own. Even going back to their 2000 debut, In the Tail of a Comet (discussed here), as their sound was so highly influenced by the desert rock coming out of California, they inevitably brought their own spin to those established elements. 2005’s Through the Eyes of Heathens was their penultimate album ahead of 2008’s Beyond Colossal (discussed here), and it was their first release through Small Stone Records in the US, which became their home after moving from Man’s Ruin Records to their own Molten Universe imprint. They were, of course, an absolute monster of a band by then, and given the swath of early and later splits and singles they released and the touring they did, it’s easy to forget that only five years separate their first and fourth long-players. But that momentum can be heard as well across the 10 songs on Through the Eyes of Heathens, and it sounds utterly unstoppable.

From the very start of “Drawing Dead” through the memorable lead line in the slower-paced closer “Big Sky Theory,” Dozer assembled a work of impeccable songwriting and deep-rooted character. In the arc of their career, every record was another step forward, and just as 2001’s Madre de Dios built on the debut and 2003’s Call it Conspiracy (discussed here) built on that, so too did Through the Eyes of Heathens pick up from where its predecessor left off. Its sound was still rooted in a heavy rock feel, but Dozer were able to translate that into something more aggressive when they wanted — their sound had bite as well as lumber, and while a cut like “Born a Legend” could be traced back to their desert-minded beginnings in its basic structure, by the time it was finally executed, it was something else entirely. Working with the core trio of guitarist/vocalist Fredrik Nordin, guitarist Tommi Holappa (see also: Greenleaf), bassist Johan Rockner (now of Besvärjelsen), the band had parted with drummer Erik Bäckwall (also now in Besvärjelsen) after the third LP, and they brought in Karl Daniel Lidén to fill in behind the kit.

No minor change. Lidén had played in Greenleaf with Holappa as well as in Demon Cleaner, and was already by then well into honing his craft as a producer/engineer. On drums for Through the Eyes of Heathens, he added to the propulsion of songs like “From Fire Fell” and the underlying intensity of “The Roof, the River, the Revolver,” while holding together the airy groove in the volume-surge chorus of “Days of Future Past.dozer through the eyes of heathens” His approach to the riffs was to meet them head on, such that every turn of “Blood Undone” seems punctuated and “Man of Fire” seems to run at a clip trying to convey putting itself out. His work, alongside Holappa‘s leads and riff construction, Nordin‘s ultra-distinctive and ever-more-confident vocals, and Rockner‘s classic you-guys-just-go-ahead-and-have-fun-if-you-need-me-I’ll-be-here-being-the-foundation-of-these-songs style of bass, helped bring the pointed energy of Through the Eyes of Heathens to live, such that it wasn’t just heavy, or grooving, or loud, or whatever else. It was vibrant. On a sheer delivery level, Dozer evoked a sense of shove that spoke to the urgency of its own creation. Putting it on was like having Arnold Schwarzenegger hold out his robot hand and say, “Come with me if you want to live.”

And while, yes, definitely some of Through the Eyes of Heathens‘ highlight moments were found in its intense push, there was never a lack of atmosphere. Sure, flourish of piano, organ, percussion, etc., helped with that, but most of it was owed to the breadth of the guitar tones and to Nordin‘s ease of melody. His shouts in “Born a Legend,” and the standalone lines in “Until Man Exists No More” — which almost made the guest vocal spot on that track from Mastodon‘s Troy Sanders feel superfluous — made for an essential presence throughout, and as much reach as there was in the songs, Nordin‘s performance was one more standout factor tying the material together. One could say the same of Holappa‘s work on guitar. I already said it about Rockner on bass, and the same applied to Lidén‘s drums. It was everything in these songs. There was no “miss” anywhere on the album.

Which is what it came down to. It was the songs. There was a memorable line, or a riff, or just something about the way it was played, to go with every single track on Through the Eyes of Heathens. It’s a 44-minute record, so not short — though the standard has gotten shorter in intervening years with the vinyl resurgence and so on — but a cut like “Omega Glory” seemed to move from hook to hook to hook, and even in the eight-minute stretch of “Big Sky Theory” at the end or in the quieter verses of “Days of Future Past,” there was ultimately nothing spare about it.

There are arguments to be made for each of Dozer‘s full-lengths as being their best work. Through the Eyes of Heathens, for me at least, seems to summarize much of what made them so rich and hard-hitting as well as the individualized sensibility of their material. I won’t take away from anything they did before or after — their last offering, 2013’s Vultures (review here), was the compiled pre-production demos for this album — but I still find myself going back to Through the Eyes of Heathens not infrequently and it feels each time like not only does it still have something new to offer, that it’s not just nostalgia, but also that it stands up to the time since it first came out with an ease that makes almost a decade and a half seem like nothing at all. Maybe that is nostalgia in itself. Fine, and well earned. True front-to-back releases are rare. They don’t happen every year, contrary to what hyperbole and promospeak tell you. Through the Eyes of Heathens is a blueprint for how to make an album last longer than its runtime.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

I went last night and saw Yawning Man and Freedom Hawk in Brooklyn. First club show in a while. I get too anxious these days in crowds. Fests I can kind of get away with it, because usually I’m going back and forth from one thing to the next, taking pictures, writing notes, whatever it is, but just standing around at a gig waiting for a band to go on, I feel like I’m losing my mind. It was a good show though, even though The Drunkest Guy in the Room kind of accused me of being a CIA agent. I guess because I looked stiff and was standing in the back? I don’t know. I was just glad he didn’t stab me in the throat with a piece of the glass he subsequently broke. New Yorkers, such as there are any, delude themselves in thinking that a kind of charm.

The baby was up this morning by the time I was done writing about Dozer. 5:30 or thereabouts. Brutal. I got in a little after midnight from the show, which ended a bit before 11, and was up at 4. My alarm had been set for 6. Just up. So it goes. Got some writing done, grabbed the baby, read books — One Fish Two Fish, Hop on Pop, and whatnot — and had breakfast. Gave the baby a bath and put him down for a nap, which The Patient Mrs. rightly decided also to take.

I meanwhile did the voice tracks for Sunday’s episode of ‘The Obelisk Show’ on Gimme Radio, answered some email to the best of my limited ability, and settled in for this. We’ll see if I can finish by the time The Pecan awakes.

Seemed silly to post about it, but this week I put up the 11,000th post on this site. Not bad. They’re not all gold, but you know, it’s a pretty significant number anyway.

So Monday will be the Yawning Man/Freedom Hawk live review. Here’s what else I’ve got in the notes. There’s plenty:

MON 01/21 Yawning Man live review; Hollow Leg album stream.
TUE 01/22 The Sabbathian album stream.
WED 01/23 9Doorsopen track premiere; Benthic Realm video premiere.
THU 01/24 Thermic Boogie track premiere; Sundrifter video.
FRI 01/25 Swallow the Sun review.

Subject to change something something blah blah.

It’s a lot of cool stuff, and it means I won’t just be spending this weekend filing my secret undercover CIA report about the vape-quotient at the Yawning Man show and instead will have plenty of writing to keep me busy. Seriously, what the hell would the CIA be doing at the Vitus Bar? I would love to know what the reason would be. Why would they be there? What’s the operation? Testing the effects of the sustained awesomeness of Mario Lalli’s bass-playing on the fragile human psyche?

Again, I was glad to not be stabbed.

Or slashed.

Alright, I’m gonna punch out so I can go read reviews of the first episode of Star Trek: Discovery season two before I actually watch it so I can sound smart when I make “observations” about canon connections to The Patient Mrs. Don’t tell her.

Have a great and safe weekend. Forum, radio, merch.

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