Friday Full-Length: The Machine, Solar Corona

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 5th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Some bands you go into seeing knowing nothing about them and wind up buying all their albums. That was the case with Netherlands trio The Machine and I. It was the Afterburner for Roadburn 2010 (review here), the chill comedown/get-back-to-reality ease-out that the festival used to have before its lineup also got too crowded and they gave up the ghost and just made it another day of the festival proper, Roadburnout be damned. The Machine had released Solar Corona — their second album — in 2009 through Nasoni Records, and I hobbled my long-since-defeated ass upstairs at the 013 venue to what used to be known as the Bat Cave before the place was redone. Lo and behold, there were guitarist/vocalist David Eering, bassist Hans van Heemst and drummer Davy Boogaard jamming away in unassuming fashion to a not-quite-packed room, absolutely killing it for those not watching Eyehategod next door.

So yes, it was imperative to pick up the records. Solar Corona followed the three-piece’s 2007 debut, Shadow of the Machine, and was the point at which they really began to move into their own place in terms of sound, finding a take on heavy rock that was warm in tone and jammy in a way that, a decade later, feels like an early-adoption of the mindset Colour Haze brought to their own work of that era, warm of tone and brimming with an exploratory spirit. The album ran 66 minutes long, and so was a considerable undertaking, but its most extended pieces “Caterpillar’s Mushroom” (14:41), “Jam No. Phi” (11:11) and the closing “Moons of Neptune” (17:03) — and even the opening title-track (9:55) — served up some of its most satisfying and immersive material. Eering‘s vocals came and went, but were mellow enough consistently to be part of the overarching flow the band brought together, and the uptempo desert rock kick of “X.” (2:47), the percussion-laced aside “Interstellar Medium” (4:20) and the subdued heavy blues of the penultimate “Infinite” (6:22) did much to balance out those larger pieces surrounding, cleverly interspersed between them as they were. This gave Solar Corona a more linear impression to its CD release, and whatever arguments one might want to make about analog warmth and this or that, the fact that you could put on Solar Corona and just drift for an hour certainly had an appeal. Still does, I’d happily argue. Kind of why we’re here.

The Machine were happening at what turned out to be a crucial point for European heavy psychedelia. The the machine solar coronagenerational turn had begun a few years earlier, but as it was advanced through social media, The Machine arose as part of a new crop of bands ready to take on the mantle of the style as the first of a new cohort to take influence from heavy rock and spacey jams. Their sound could be stripped down to essential hook-based rock structures or as expansive as the wind crying Mary on “Jam No. Phi,” and its tone therein was classic enough to nod to greats past and then-present even as the group brought their own personality and chemistry to the mix. It was a question of vibe, and Solar Corona had an hour-plus of vibe waiting for anyone who might come looking for it. Eering‘s solos led the way and van Heemst and Boogaard made for a classic rhythm section in holding down a central progression and letting the guitar meander as it did, while at the same time giving cuts like “Infinite” and the driving “X.” their sense of movement and the force of their impact. It was a special moment, and The Machine were a big part of why.

When I saw them, they were mere months away from signing to Elektrohasch Schallplatten in Oct. 2010 for the 2011 release of their third album, Drie (review here). They would be contemporary to fellow Netherlander trio Sungrazer on the label and end up putting out a split (review here) and touring together in 2013. By then, The Machine had proven themselves a highly productive band, releasing their fourth LP, Calmer Than You Are (review here), in 2012. It was easy to see the two at the forefront of a wave of heavy psych just beginning to make its mark on the greater European underground, and indeed maybe they were. Still, it was Solar Corona that stood as the foundation of making that happen, in combination with The Machine‘s ultra-engaging live performance and the burgeoning persona in their songs. Listening now to “Caterpillar’s Mushroom,” it doesn’t sound dated for the 10 years that have passed since its arrival, and if anything, I’d only be glad to have its meandering explorations come in for a review if it did today. I kind of feel like I’m doing myself a favor in writing about it, to be honest.

First time I heard this record was on the train to the airport back from Roadburn. I loaded it into my portable CD player, put on my headphones, and let fly from Tilburg to Amsterdam, and by the time I got to the wall of fuzz finish in “Solar Corona,” it was safe to say The Machine were onto something. They would ultimately move beyond the sound that defined Solar Corona and Drie, bringing in more elements from noise rock on Calmer Than You Are, 2015’s Offblast! (review here) and 2018’s Faceshift (review here), the latter of which was the first outing to be released through their own imprint, Awe Records, but still hold onto some of the jammier stylizations that were so prevalent in the sophomore LP, and though van Heemst would eventually leave the band and be replaced by Chris Both, they’ve retained a characteristic style even as they’ve expanded the parameters of what that style can encompass. They remain a band whose “new stuff” I always look forward to hearing, as well as one who consistently defy predictability. They might jam out their whole next album. I wouldn’t bet either way.

I haven’t seen word on a new one in the works — it’s early yet — but The Machine do have festival dates booked, from headlining at Esbjerg Fuzztival in Denmark next month to a slot at Keep it Low in Munich this October. No doubt more will be added as well, so keep an eye out, but I guess if there’s an underlying point here it’s that Solar Corona was just near the beginning of The Machine‘s creative growth, and not at all the end of it.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

It got really chaotic all of a sudden today. Orange Goblin announced US shows and then Psycho Las Vegas put out the details for their pool party and I basically put the two posts up at the same time. And it’s Friday afternoon. I got in from the YOB show last night in Brooklyn at about 1AM, was asleep soon enough thereafter and up at 5. Did some laptop-futzing and put up the Colour Haze at Høstsabbat announcement and started to sort pics for the YOB review, and then the baby got up, and from there the day has just kind of been a whirlwind.

The above I wrote yesterday, basically swapping out that for doing the YOB review this morning, which I feel like only captured a fraction of how good that show actually was. Package tours, man. I guess they’re a logistical nightmare, but you could have a show with one badass band or you could have a show with three, it seems like an obvious answer to me. More heavy package tours. Make it happen, ye lords of booking. I wanna see Fu Manchu headlining with Elder and Wo Fat supporting by this Fall, or… well… or nothing, but that would be pretty rad.

No notes today. Next week is Roadburn. The note I’d post would only read “out to lunch.” I’ll be reviewing the fest as always and if you’re going, I’m the guy with the cosmic backpack. Might wear some hippie pants too. We’ll see how much laundry time there is this weekend. Still in NJ until Sunday morning and then back north to Massachusetts again. Fly out on Tuesday evening. Get in Wednesday morning. Crash, pre-show, review, sleep, wake up, Weirdo Canyon Dispatch, go, go, go until Sunday night when the universe collapses on itself and I go back to real life. By then I’ll be exhausted enough that it will feel like time.

But of course, I can’t wait to go.

So that’s where we’re at. I of course still have a ton of crap I need to get done before I get on the plane, but, you know, that’s pretty standard. Monday I’m reviewing Bible of the Devil. That’ll be fun. Check back in for it if you have time.

And even if not, thanks for reading. Have a great and safe weekend, and please don’t forget about the forum, radio stream and Obelisk shirts and hoodies.

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SonicBlast Moledo 2018, You Broke My Heart.

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 10th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Alright, book my flight. I’ll crash on somebody’s couch; I don’t care as long as there’s wifi. SonicBlast Moledo 2018, you’ve won my heart. 1000mods, Causa Sui, Samsara Blues Experiment and The Atomic Bitchwax on the same bill? By the beach? Plus Atavismo and Earthless and Nebula and Naxatras and Conan are playing? Come on. It’s like the people who put this fucking thing together all sat around a table and said, “What’s gonna make that dickweed from that shitty American website really wish he could come to Portugal in August?”

Note: I’m not actually narcissistic enough to believe that happened — though if it was going to, it would definitely be that phrasing — but yeah, wow. It’s pretty hard to stare at this lineup and process it as something I have zero chance in hell of experiencing for myself. What a bummer. If you make it to Moledo, I hope you fucking treasure it. Because you should.

Gadzooks:

sonicblast moledo 2018 header

SONICBLAST MOLEDO 2018

Stoner Doom Psych Heavy – Sea Beach Camping Pool Surf Skate

With the dates settled for August 10th and 11th, the eighth edition of SonicBlast Moledo is stoked to announce Causa Sui, Samsara Blues Experiment, 1000mods, Mantar, The Atomic Bitchwax, The Black Wizards, Solar Corona and Greengo! They join the previously confirmed acts Earthless, Kadavar, Nebula, Conan, Ufomammut, Naxatras, Purple Hill Witch, Atavismo and Ruff Majik!

They could be simply described as Psychedelic Rock, however Causa Sui goes far beyond the term. With more than eight albums released, the Denmark’s group creates a distinctive musical universe with diverse influences such as Krautrock, Progressive Rock, Stoner or Jazz, in order to achieve unique instrumental feats. Their first performance ever in Portugal, for one of their rare concerts during the year, could not be more expected.

Six years after their debut in Portugal, right at the second edition of SonicBlast, the German trio Samsara Blues Experiment is preparing to make the long-awaited return to Moledo. Considered one of the greatest precursors of the European Psychedelic Stoner, the group brings now with them their latest album “One With The Universe,” one of the most acclaimed records within the genre last year, which shows the band’s full maturity and their way to outdo themselves.

Formed only by two elements, the German Mantar view their sound as a brutal sonic destruction, where genres like Doom, Black Metal and Punk unite in a primal rage. On the road since 2013, the duo has released three albums, one of them being recorded live, demonstrating the hard work they’ve done over the past years. Their concerts are known for being absolutely demolishing and intense, which manage to elevate the duo name to another level. Forget about Rock ‘n Roll, this will hurt!

Recognized as one of the most important bands within the Stoner Rock universe, 1000mods return to Portugal with the aim of showing the overwhelming power of their fuzz. Hailing from southern Greece, the quartet already counts with three EP’s and three albums, several European tours and a North American tour. From their live concerts, we can only expect one thing; an astounding and memorable experience.

Present at the festival back in 2014, the power-trio The Atomic Bitchwax, visit us again to spread a great amount of “Super Stoner Rock”. This time, the North Americans Finn Ryan, Chris Kosnik and Bob Pantella (also from Monster Magnet) bring with them their seventh studio album “Force Field”, a refreshing and stimulating record, where Psychedelic influences and Rock n ‘Roll are never missing.

The Black Wizards are no longer unknown to the majority fans of the Heavy Rock subculture, whose immense work evidences their enormous value and dedication to their music. With their undisputed talent, they can skillfully play blues, psychedelic or sheer rock n’ roll, as it’s well demonstrated on their latest album “What the Fuzz”.

From Barcelos to Moledo, Solar Corona arrive moved by cosmic psychedelia and spacey grooves. Now counting with a new rhythm section, the trio certainly knows how to induce each listener into a increasingly hypnotic atmosphere, which will guarantee a monumental musical journey.

Born between the union of massive fuzz noise and greenish fumes, the duo Greengo practices a Sludge Stoner Metal filled with massive riffs, dominant vocals and trembling sonic vibrations, capable of shaking any stage where they appear.

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1000mods, Repeated Exposure To… (2016)

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