Quarterly Review: JOY Feat. Dr. Space, Rosetta, Pendejo, Lightsabres, Witch Hazel, CBBJ, Seedium, Vorrh, Lost Relics, Deadly Sin (Sloth)

Posted in Reviews on March 22nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-spring-2019

Day Five. What would traditionally be the end of the Quarterly Review if going to six wasn’t the new going to 11. Whatever, I can hack it. The amount of good stuff included in these batches really helps. I’m not saying there are days that are a flat-out bummer, but I feel like the proportion of times in this Quarterly Review I’ve gone, “Wow, this is pretty awesome,” has seen a definite spike this time around. I won’t complain about that. Makes the whole thing fun.

Today will be no exception, and then we finish up on Monday with the last 10. Thanks for reading if you do.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

JOY Feat. Dr. Space, Live at Roadburn 2018

joy feat dr space live at roadburn 2018

Brought together as part of the ‘San Diego Takeover’ at Roadburn 2018 that featured a host of that city’s acts performing in an even broader host of contexts, JOY and Scott “Dr. Space” Heller of Øresund Space Collective took the stage at the tiny Cul de Sac near the very end of the festival. It was how I closed out my Roadburn (review here). Dr. Space did a short spoken introduction and then they were off and they didn’t look back. The centerpiece of the limited LP is an extended jam simply titled “Jam.” It’s edited on the platter, but the digital version has the full 54 minutes, and the more the merrier. They round out with takes on Road‘s “Spaceship Earth” and JOY‘s “Miles Away,” and those are cool too, but the real highlight is about halfway through the longer “Jam” when the drums kick into the next gear and you suddenly snap out of your trance to realize how far you’ve already come. And you’re still only at the midpoint. I don’t know. Maybe you had to be there. So be there.

Øresund Space Collective on Thee Facebooks

JOY on Thee Facebooks

JOY Feat. Dr. Space at Øresund Space Collective Bandcamp

 

Rosetta, Sower of Wind

rosetta sower of wind

Philadelphia-based post-whatever-you-got outfit Rosetta continue to set their own terms with Sower of Wind, a self-recorded four-track/half-hour offering that’s something of an outgrowth of their most recent album, Utopioid. Broken into four tracks each assembled from ideas and layers churning throughout the four sections of that record, it brings out the ambient side of the band as guitarist/keyboardist/bassist Matt Weed serves as engineer for “East,” “South,” “West” and “North” as he, guitarist/keyboardist Eric Jernigan and vocalist Mike Armine — who here just adds samples and noise — construct fluid soundscapes that can either build to a head, as on “East” or offer a sense of foreboding like “West” and “North,” depending solely on the band’s will. It’s intended as an exploration, and it sounds like one, but if that wasn’t the point, Sower of Wind probably wouldn’t have been released in the first place. It’s not at all their first ambient release, but this modus continues to be viable for them creatively.

Rosetta on Thee Facebooks

Pelagic Records webstore

 

¡Pendejo!, Sin Vergüenza

pendejo sin verguenza

Whatever your current working definition might be for “over the top,” chances are Pendejo — also stylized as the exclamatory ¡Pendejo! — will make short work of it. Sin Vergüenza, their third long-player, sees release through their own Chancho Records imprint, and it’s not through opener “Don Gernàn” before the Amsterdam-based outfit break out the horns. Fronted by El Pastuso, who supplies the trumpet, the band roll through dense toned heavy rock in a crisply-executed, high-energy 10 tracks and 40 minutes that, even when you think they’re letting up, on the later “El Espejo,” they still manage to burst out a massive riff and groove in the second half. It’s the kind of record that’s breathtaking in the sense of you’re trying to run to keep up with its energy. That, however, should not be seen as undercutting the value of the band’s songwriting, which comes through regardless of language, and whether it’s the start-stops of “La Mala de la Tele” or the gleeful weirdo push of “Bulla,” Pendejo have their sonic terrain well staked out and know how to own it. They sound like a band who destroy live.

Pendejo on Thee Facebooks

Pendejo webstore

 

Lightsabres, A Shortcut to Insanity

LIGHTSABRES A SHORTCUT TO INSANITY

It’s rare for an artist to grow less predictable over time, but Lightsabres mastermind and multi-instrumentalist John Strömshed hits that standard with his former one-man outfit. Joined by session drummer Anton Nyström, Strömshed brings forth 11 tracks of genre-bending songcraft, melding fuzz and progressive folk, downer rock and thoughtful psych, garage push with punker edge, and seemingly whatever else seems to serve the best interests of the song at hand. On “Born Screaming,” that’s a turn to classical guitar plucking sandwiched on either side by massive riffs and vocals, like that of “Tangled in Barbed Wire,” remind of a fuzz-accompanied take on Life of Agony. At just 36 minutes, A Shortcut to Insanity isn’t long by any means, but it’s not an easy album to keep up with either, as Strömshed seems to dare his listenership to hold pace with his shifts through “Cave In,” rolling opener and longest track (immediate points) “From the Demon’s Mouth” and the sweetly melodic finale “Dying on the Couch,” which is perhaps cruelest of all for leaving the listener waiting for the other shoe to drop and letting that tension hang when it’s done.

Lightsabres on Thee Facebooks

DHU Records webstore

 

Witch Hazel, Otherworldly

Witch Hazel Otherworldly

Classic-style doom rockers Witch Hazel shift back and forth between early metal and heavy rock on their second full-length, Otherworldly, and the York, Pennsylvania, four-piece of vocalist Nate Tyson, guitarist Andy Craven, bassist Seibert Lowe and drummer Nicholas Zinn keep plenty of company in so doing, enlisting guest performances of organ and other keys throughout opener “Ghost & the Fly” and “Midnight Mist” and finding room for an entire horn section as they round out 11-minute closer “Devastator.” Elsewhere, “Meat for the Beast” and “Drinking for a Living” marry original-era heavy prog with more weighted impact, and “Zombie Flower Bloom” plays out like what might’ve happened if mid-’80s Ozzy had somehow invented stoner rock. So, you know, pretty awesome. The strut and shuffle of “Bled Dry” adds a bit of attitude late, but it’s really in cuts like the title-track and the aforementioned “Midnight Mist” earlier on that Witch Hazel showcase their formidable persona as a group.

Witch Hazel on Thee Facebooks

Witch Hazel on Bandcamp

 

CBBJ, 2018 Demo

CBBJ 2018 Demo

To a certain extent, what you see is what you get with CBBJ‘s 2018 Demo, right down to the wood paneling on the cover art. The band’s name — also written as CB/BJ — would seem to be taken from its members, Cox (that being Bryan Cox, founding drummer of Alabama Thunderpussy), Ball, Bone, and Jarvis, and as they look toward a Southern Thin Lizzy on demo finale “The Point of it All,” there’s something of a realization in what they’re putting together. It’s four tracks total, and finds some thrust in “Wreck You,” but keeps it wits there as well as in the sleazier nod of “The Climb” that precedes it as the opener and even in the penultimate “Can’t Go Home,” which gives booziest, earliest AC/DC a treatment of righteous bass. They’re apparently in the studio again now, or they just were, or will, or won’t, or up, or down, but whatever. Point is it’ll be worth keeping an ear out for when whatever comes next lands.

CBBJ on Thee Facebooks

CBBJ on Bandcamp

 

Seedium, Awake

seedium awake

Go on and get lost in the depths of Seedium‘s debut three-songer, Awake. The Polish outfit might be taking some cues as regards thickness from their countrymen in Dopelord or Spaceslug, but their instrumental tack on “Mist Haulers,” “Brain Eclipse” and “Ruina Cordis” oozes out of the speakers with right-on viscosity and comes across as infinitely stoned. The centerpiece tops 11 minutes and seems to indicate very little reason they couldn’t have pushed it another 10 had they so desired, and through “Ruina Cordis” is shorter at a paltry 7:08, its blasted sensibility and ending blend of spaciousness and swirl portends good things to come. With the murky first impression of “Mist Haulers” calling like a prayer bell to the riff-worshiping converted, Seedium very clearly know what they’re going for, and what remains to be seen is how their character and individual spin on that develops going forward. Still, for its tones alone, this first offering is a stunner.

Seedium on Thee Facebooks

Seedium on Bandcamp

 

Vorrh, Nomads of the Infinite Wild

vorrh nomads of the infinite wild

Programmed drumming gives Nomads of the Infinite Wild, the debut release from the Baltimore duo of Zinoosh Farbod and John Glennon an edge of dub, but the guitar work of songs like “Mercurial,” looped back on itself with leads layered overtop and Farbod‘s echoing vocals, remains broad, and the expansive of atmosphere puts them in a kind of meditative post-doom feel. Opener “Myths” strikes as a statement of purpose, and as “Morning Star” shows some Earth influence in the spaces left by Glennon‘s guitar, the band immediately uses that nuance to craft an individual identity. “Flood Plane” saunters through its instrumental trance before getting noisy briefly at the finish, only to let “These Eyes” work more effectively through a similar structure with Farbod on keys, seeming to set up the piano-foundation of “Ancient Divide,” which closes. This is a band who will benefit greatly from the fact that they record themselves, because they’ll have every opportunity to continue to experiment in the studio, which is exactly what they should be doing. In the meantime, Nomads of the Infinite Wild effectively heralds their potential for aesthetic innovation.

Vorrh on Thee Facebooks

Vorrh on Bandcamp

 

Lost Relics, 1st

lost relics 1st

Well, they didn’t call it 1st because it’s their eighth album. Denver noise rock trio Lost Relics debut with the aptly-titled 18-minute four-songer, bringing Neurosis-style vocal gutturalism to riffy crunch more reminiscent at times of Helmet‘s discordant heyday. Dense tonality and aggression pervade “Dead Men Don’t Need Silver,” “Scars,” the gets-raucous-later “Whip Rag” and closer “Face Grass,” which somehow brings a Clutch influence into this mix, and even more somehow makes it work, and then even more somehow indulges a bit of punk rock. The vocals and sense of tonal lumber tie it all together, but Lost Relics set a pretty wide base for themselves in these tracks, leaving one to wonder how the various elements at work might play out over the course of a longer release. As far as a debut EP goes, then, that’s the whole point of the thing, but something seems to be saying Lost Relics have more tricks up their sleeve than they’re showing here. One looks forward to finding out if that’s the case.

Lost Relics on Thee Facebooks

Lost Relics on Bandcamp

 

Deadly Sin (Sloth), VII: Sin Seven

deadly sin sloth vii sin seven

Deadly Sin (Sloth) play the kind of sludge that knows how well and truly fucked we are. The kind of sludge that doesn’t care who’s president because either way the chicken dinner you’re cooking is packed full of hormones. The kind of sludge that well earns its Scott Stearns tape artwork. VII: Sin Seven is not at all void of melody or purpose, as “Ripping Your Flesh” and the Danziggy “Glory Bound Grave” grimly demonstrate, but even in those moments, its intent is abrasion, and even the slower march of “Icarus” seems to scathe as much as the raw gutterpunk in “F One” and opener “Exit Ramp”‘s harshest screams. Not easy listening. Not for everybody. Not really for people. It’s a malevolent bludgeoning that even in the revivalism of “Blood Bought Church” seems only to be biding its time until the next strike. It does not wait all that long.

Deadly Sin (Sloth) on Thee Facebooks

Deadly Sin (Sloth) on Bandcamp

 

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JOY with Dr. Space: Live at Roadburn 2018 Now Streaming

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

joy w dr space (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I was in the room when this one was recorded. I’ve been very fortunate the last several years in choosing well how I end my trips to Roadburn, and JOY with Dr. Space (review here) were my blowout for 2018. It could hardly have been more perfect. After a weekend in Tilburg marked out by the San Diego scene invasion that brought EarthlessVolcanoSacri Monti and others to the Netherlands for the fest, seeing JOY hit up the Cul de Sac with Roadburn regular Scott “Dr. Space” Heller of Øresund Space Collective was exactly where I wanted and needed to be at that moment. I’m sure others felt precisely the same way about whatever they were seeing elsewhere, and that’s cool — it’s part of the thing to personalize — but for me, the expanded-mind jams that the collaborative four-piece got up to were just right for their time and place. They fit right in there.

Resulting audio releases from Roadburn are nothing new, but JOY with Dr. Space was a one-time thing. It’s not like they were touring together. I don’t even know how much they rehearsed beforehand. They might just gotten up and jammed. Either way, it worked, and the 54-minute “Jam” that you can stream at the bottom of this post along with “Spaceship Earth” and “Miles Away” bear that out. This one’s all about vibe, and with a limited-to-200 bootleg-style vinyl pressing that’s being officially released next week, I wanted to make sure any interested parties might have another chance to see it was available while it’s available. Because I don’t expect it will be for long.

Go on and get your head around it:

joy w dr space live at roadburn 2018

JOY featuring Dr Space – LIVE AT ROADBURN FESTIVAL 2018

Space Rock Productions
SRP055

Recorded at the Cul de Sac, Tilburg, Holland Sunday April
Recorded with an Edirol R-09 recorder and Audio Reality Microphones by Dr Space.
Audio enhancement by Jonathan Segel.
Vinyl track preparation and edits y Dr Space.

Limited edition of 200 on vinyl copies in plain white sleeve with a black and white insert like the old bootleg records of the 70s. Hand numbered.

The jam on side A/B was edited from 52 mins to 46 mins and misses the entire Dr Space intro. Thanks to Walter for making this gig happen.

Releases January 28, 2019.

Zach- Guitar and Vocals
Nasty- Bass
Thomas- Drums
Dr Space- analog synths

https://oresundspacecollective.bandcamp.com/album/joy-featuring-dr-space-live-at-roadburn-2018
http://www.facebook.com/oresundspacecollective
https://www.facebook.com/JOYHEADBAND/

JOY with Dr. Space, Live at Roadburn 2018 (2019)

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Øresund Space Collective, Kybalion: Augmenting Reality

Posted in Reviews on December 28th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

oresund space collective kybalion

It makes sense somehow that after 12 years and countless studio and live releases, Øresund Space Collective would at last go transdimensional. The vehicle for the beginning of their evolution into a noncorporeal cybernetic form is called Kybalion, and actually the title refers to the book of Hermetic philosophy teaching, among others, the principle of mentalism that puts thought as the basis for, well, everything, but either way, they sound thrilled to make the trip. Featuring eight songs and an 80-minute 2LP run, it was recorded in Nov. 2016, at either the same session or concurrent gathering to when the somewhat amorphous improv jam unit put down what became late 2017’s Hallucinations Inside the Oracle (review here). That’s by no means the first time Øresund Space Collective have gotten more than one record out of a session — 2016’s Visions Of… (review here), Different Creatures (review here) and Ode to a Black Hole (review here) were all recorded over a period of three days in Oct. 2014 — so there may yet be more to come from the Nov. 2016 session.

Either way, they certainly give plenty to chew on in extended jams like 21-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Open the Door and Ride,” and as alluded to at the outset, they’re working in multiple dimensions. The Space Rock Productions vinyl and a special edition of the CD come with cover art and extra artwork that works with an augmented reality app to give a 3D art experience, the cover coming to life as Øresund Space Collective synth wizard and bandleader Scott “Dr. Space” Heller speaks in echo about the mentalism and the power of thought in the universe and so on. Even the labels of the LP itself see the artwork of Batuhan Bintas (CyberRabbit) come to life. It looks to be remarkably well done, and as the cover is filled with various iconography, there’s plenty to dig into, from blue Venus to a rocking future Stephen Hawking and acid guru Owsley Stanley on what seems to be a cosmic bicycle.

As to the songs themselves, on the whole they’re shorter snippets than Øresund Space Collective sometimes manifest, but whether it’s the funky guitar and violin in the 17-minute “Take a Trip” or the classic rock flair to the extended guitar lead in “Open the Door and Ride,” there is a sense of personality to each jam that stands it out among its peers, whether it’s the running water sounds and later psychedelic thrust of “Pixie Dust,” the more forward synth of and motorik beat of “Down the Tube” or the sci-fi wash of “Sequencing the Human Brain,” synth and keyboard intertwining along with pulled bluesy guitar notes and an ultra-psychedelic crux that pushes the drums deep into the mix to let the ambience hold sway. Two sort-of-interludes appear as the second and second-to-last tracks, with “Drop It – Tropical Flavour of the Month” and “New Tropical Flavor” that indeed are named for the surf sound of the guitar, and they’re quick at under three minutes apiece and do well to tie together some of the disparate sides of Kybalion.

The band must have a million of these “usable moments” hanging around from their periodic get-in-the-studio-and-hit-record sessions, but the “Tropical” duo are put to effective use here. The last cut and the just the third out of the eight to touch the 10-minute mark is “Smooth Future,” and while, again, it’s relatively short at 10:10, it’s a gorgeous and serene note to end on, with synth gently cascading in and out in a slow-motion swirl as violin and guitar accent each other and the drums and bass hold together a steady and laid back space rocking outward progression. It comes to a pretty fervent push in its final minutes, but by the time they get there, the sense of drift is so palpable that there’s really nothing overstated about it, and they end, as the title indicates, smooth, with drums, synth and effects-laced guitars gently letting the listener go back to reality.

But who the hell wants to be in reality? Obviously not Øresund Space Collective, or they wouldn’t proffer such resonant sparefaring jams in the first place. As always for them, the music is improvised, and that exploratory sensibility has come to define their work. I have no doubt that they have their bumps in the creative road, and when I called pieces “snippets” above, that wasn’t an accident Even as “Pixie Dust,” “Down the Tube” and “Sequencing of the Human Brain” reach over nine minutes long, they feel like glimpses of longer jams, fluid moments captured on tape. Behind September’s Live in Berlin 2018 (review here) and May’s Chatoyant Breath (review here), Kybalion is the third Øresund Space Collective offering of 2018 — though Dr. Space also had a second solo album out — and it may or may not be the final collection culled from that Nov. 2016 session, but either way, for its multi-phase presentation and its as-ever glimpse at the big-bang moment of the creative process, the very beginnings of the spark that for many becomes the foundation of verses or choruses, the collective’s latest astrojazz/krautronaut excursion should well please fans looking to bask in the grand kosmiche chill that unites the various strings of galaxies and mind, thought and form.

Recent past outings have seen them partnered with former Siena Root/Indian classicist multi-instrumentalist KG Westman (Hallucinations Inside the Oracle) and guitarist Gary Arce of Yawning Man (Chatoyant Breath), but Kybalion reminds that so much of the appeal of Øresund Space Collective in the first place comes from the chemistry happening in the moment the jams are taking place, in that marriage between the ephemeral and the ethereal, their music seeming to speak to something so timeless while also being fleeting and gone the moment it’s put down, since, inevitably, the same improvisation can’t happen twice. Their megajams continue to stand them out in the sphere of heavy psychedelia and space rock, and while I don’t know the next time Øresund Space Collective will get together for a few days in Copenhagen or elsewhere, they only ever seem to push themselves further into the greater reaches of Far Out, and I can hear nothing in Kybalion to indicate their expansion will stop anytime soon.

Øresund Space Collective, Kybalion AR demonstration

Øresund Space Collective, Kybalion (2018)

Øresund Space Collective on The Facebooks

Øresund Space Collective on Bandcamp

Øresund Space Collective website

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Deep Space Destructors, Visions from the Void: Far Outward

Posted in Reviews on December 17th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

deep space destructors Visions from the Void inside gatefold

deep space destructors Visions from the Void gatefold outside

Deep into the album comes the hook that says it all. “Abandon space and time/Freedom lose your mind.” It’s what Deep Space Destructors have been saying all along, but it’s not until the fourth of the five total tracks, on the aptly-titled “Floating,” which leads off side B ahead of closer “From the Void,” that they actually come out and say it. Their advocacy of that position, however, is writ large across Visions from the Void, which follows less than two years from early 2017’s Psychedelogy (review here) and pushes into new cosmic reaches for the band, expanding their sound and reach along an interstellar plane of surspace, dimensions intertwining as the core trio of bassist/vocalist Jani Pitkänen (also percussion), guitarist/backing vocalist Petri Lassila and drummer Markus Pitkänen welcome a host of guest performers. Perhaps chief among them is Scott “Dr. Space” Heller, who also helms Space Rock Productions, which is the label behind this and the last release.

Heller, who also captains the USS Øresund Space Collective, contributes analog synth to all five cuts on the 43-minute LP, but he’s hardly alone here, with Antti “Yskä” Ylijääskö adding sax to side A finale “Tyhjyyden Mantra,” Joonatan Elokuu donating synth, mellotron and vocals to the aforementioned “Floating,” and Tyhjä Pää giving further drone and ambience to “From the Void.” The latter two are return appearances, but even so, their coming back is emblematic of the growth Deep Space Destructors have undertaken since their 2012 debut, (review here), and indeed, as their evolution has unfolded across 2013’s II (review here), 2014’s III (review here), 2015’s Spring Break from Space EP (review here) and Psychedelogy, they have only proceeded outward, and Visions from the Void is their most resonant work yet, unfurling with motorik beats and drifting atmospherics along a directed swirl that holds an underpinning of consciousness even as it seems to “lose its mind” along the lysergic meditation. From opener “Psyche Remade” onward, the band only affirms their maturity and their mastery of the spaced-out forms, calling to familiar genre tropes while putting their own stamp on them in craft and manifestation.

There’s little by way of fanfare at the outset. A quick introduction of a winding guitar line starts “Psyche Remade” and within the first 10 seconds of the album, Deep Space Destructors set themselves to the work of melting brains. Their style has never been to completely jam for jamming’s sake, and not that there’s anything wrong with that approach, but the trio’s process has only come to work more for them over time, resulting in hooks that act as beacons along their charted course into the titular void. They’ve done this in the past as well, but Visions from the Void finds Jani a more confident vocalist, higher in the mix and more of a presence even as his voice is coated in a range of effects. “Psyche Remade” has standout lines urging sonic enlightenment, and that frames much of the perspective from which the rest of the record draws, a kind of expand-your-mind-blow-your-mind advocacy the second cut “Astral Traveller” soon affirms in its last line, “Free your mind/Only love can remain,” after six minutes or so of primordial space rock groove and molten synth.

Deep Space Destructors

Tense, progressive and classic, its genre elements are nonetheless presented with a sonic heft that classic space rock could never have claimed as its own, pushing into a realm of heavy psychedelia in its low end that only seems to emphasize the throb at heart in the rhythm and the faroutification of what might otherwise be a straightforward structure. Heller has a marked effect on the atmosphere, but as “Tyhjyyden Mantra” crashes in its nine-minute grandeur to take hold and introduce not only the end of side A, but really the crux of what will follow in the final two tracks, there’s a darkening of mood that even the surrounding swirl can’t contradict. As the centerpiece, “Tyhjyyden Mantra” swaps out English lyrics for the band’s native Finnish, and along with the arrival of Ylijääskö‘s saxophone, it provides a pivotal turning point in the narrative of the record, marking the place where one is given over to the cosmos itself in that embrace of enlightenment, becoming one with dark matter as a necessary step in that. There’s a quiet moment that starts just before the five-minute mark and is soon topped by chants and leaves on a build that I wish was longer, but it accomplishes the purpose the band has for it as is, and soon departs for an effective sax-laced semi-wash that holds out to a graceful finish.

“Floating” starts with the lyrics noted earlier, and makes itself a standout not only through its lyrical quest for freedom of mind and spirit, but through its near-orchestral progressive arrangement. The additional synth and mellotron give further breadth to that which the band has already established — and among those elements, the midsection a stretch of gotta-hear bass and guitar interplay well worth noting — particularly the mellotron arriving shortly before seven minutes in to lend a dramatic feel to “Floating”‘s apex before the return of the vocals ultimately bring it full circle. As the only inclusion to pass the 10-minute mark, “From the Void” is immediately distinct as well, but it’s more the hypnotic initial rhythm that makes it so, and the sense of arrival is multi-tiered. As listeners, we’ve arrived at that moment of freedom so fervently championed throughout the four songs prior, and as a band, Deep Space Destructors have arrived at a new level of presentation and storytelling in their work, creating a thematic arc to convey their ideas across the album’s entirety. That’s an achievement not to be understated, but their execution of the semi-title-track is in no way bludgeoning listeners with what’s happening.

Rather, it rolls out fluidly atop a steady push of drums as bass, guitar and synth craft a nod that’s both psychedelic and a fitting bed for the lyrics, a kind of watery chant that keeps aligned with space rock traditionalism even as the music behind seems to tap into mantra-ism in a different and exciting way. They cap in motorik but still smooth fashion with a guitar solo leading the way out toward what comes after the void. And one supposes that’s really the question that remains. Deep Space Destructors have found this avenue of expression and made it their own. Over the past six years, a steady growth has led them to this point, where the aspects of genre they’ve absorbed have been remade at their will. So what happens now? It does not seem to me that they’re at any kind of end point in their progression. Nothing on Visions from the Void indicates a feeling of being staid. So what comes after sonic enlightenment? Where in the cosmos do we go next? It’s a story that ends and begs further elaboration, and I for one can’t wait to find out in the next chapter from Deep Space Destructors.

Deep Space Destructors, Visions from the Void (2018)

Deep Space Destructors, “Floating” official video

Deep Space Destructors on Thee Facebooks

Deep Space Destructors on Bandcamp

Deep Space Destructors website

Space Rock Productions website

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Deep Space Destructors Set Dec. 10 Release for Visions from the Void; Preorders Available

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 21st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

deep space destructors

The Dec. 10 issue date for Visions of the Void will put it less than two years since Deep Space Destructors‘ last album, Psychedelogy (review here), and that’s how it should be. Proper space rock doesn’t happen just sometimes. It happens all the time. The universe doesn’t just expand every now and again, does it? Neither should the sounds that seek to portray or at least evoke some semblance of those cosmic reaches. Deep Space Destructors are well schooled on those ways at this point, and they seem to be continuing to further their reach as well this time out with guests like Dr. Space himself — whose Space Rock Productions label is also once again standing behind the vinyl release; preorders are up — as well as others helping further the interstellar cause.

I’m on board for the trip as ever with an asterisk as regards the artwork, but so it goes. Dudes have a history of providing choice heavy psych and there’s little reason to expect anything else this time out.

From the PR wire:

Visions from the Void gatefold front and back

Visions from the Void gatefold inside

Deep Space Destructors – “Visions From The Void”

Release date: 10th December 2018

Deep Space Destructors’ fifth album “Visions from the Void” is released on 10th of December 2018 on vinyl through Space Rock Productions, http://www.spacerockproductions.de , and digitally via universal digital platforms. The print will include 525 vinyls of black, blue and purple colours.

On “Visions from the Void” the psychedelic space rock trio travels even further to deep space within oneself while taking ample glances at the void. The album features five songs consisting of mantras, chants, psychedelic grooves, space rocking madness and progressive twists. Listener should be prepared to have one’s psyche remade while floating on a sonic astral travel through the void.

On “Visions from the Void” pieces of the DSD hivemind are aligned with Dr. Space, contributing analog synthesizers for the whole album, as well as Antti “Yskä” Ylijääskö playing saxophone on “Tyhjyyden Mantra”, Joonatan Elokuu Aaltonen devoting synthesizers, mellotron & guest vocals for “Floating”, and TYHJÄ PÄÄ (Void Head) providing analog space sounds & drones for “From the Void”.

“Visions from the Void” was recorded and mixed at Tonehaven Studios by Tom Brooke, while the guest artist were recorded in different locations. Mastering was done by Mojolab.

Yet again extremely talented Markus Räisänen provided the artwork and the gatefold images conjured by the artist will leave no spacehead cold.

Rise to the mountain, leave the Earth behind
Path to enlightenment, salvation of the mind

Side Space:
1. Psyche Remade (8:19)
2. Astral Traveller (6:15)
3. Tyhjyyden Mantra (9:17)

Side Void:
4. Floating (9:48)
5. From The Void (10:09?)

Band:
Jani Pitkänen – vocals, bass and percussions
Petri Lassila – guitar and backing vocals
Markus Pitkänen – drums

Guests:
Dr Space – analog synths (on all of the songs)
Antti “Yskä” Ylijääskö – saxophone (3)
Tyhjä Pää (Void Head) – analog space sounds and drones (5)
Joonatan Elokuu – synths, mellotron and vocals (4)

525 copies total on 180g vinyl
– 190x black
– 205x light blue
– 130x purple
Insert (30×30 cm, printed on both sides) / gatefold cover / hand numbered

Pre-order for this nice release starts Tuesday / 20th Nov.: https://www.sapphirerecords.de/epages/61252611.sf/en_GB/?ObjectPath=/Shops/61252611/Products/%2ALPDSD054

http://www.dsdband.space/
https://www.facebook.com/deepspacedestructors/
https://deepspacedestructors.bandcamp.com/
http://www.spacerockproductions.de
https://www.facebook.com/spacerockproductions.dk/

Deep Space Destructors, Psychedelogy (2017)

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Review & Full Album Premiere: Øresund Space Collective, Live in Berlin 2018

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on September 10th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

oresund space collective live in berlin

[Click play above to stream Øresund Space Collective’s Live in Berlin 2018. Album is out Sept. 12 on Space Rock Productions.]

Even as multinational purveyors of the interstellar Øresund Space Collective were celebrating the release of their latest studio album, May 2018’s Chatoyant Breath, they were already planning their next move. So it goes in the cosmic long game for an act that has nearly 30 offerings of one sort or another in the 12 years, building a catalog as expansive as their sound itself and giving no indication of a slowdown in productivity. Touring to mark the arrival of Chatoyant Breath, they performed June 2 at the Sneaky Snake Festival in Berlin, Germany, rounding out a run of nine dates in nine days and featuring the work of Vemund Engin of Black Moon Circle on guitar alongside the cast headed by synthesist Scott “Dr. Space” Heller, who before the show starts asks the crowd if they’re ready for a space trip. It would seem they are.

Øresund Space Collective from that beginning point unfurl five extended and completely improvised jams, opening with the 29-minute longest track (immediate points) “Improv to the Other Side,” which seems to have gotten there by the time Engin is dug into his solo in the later minutes. Whatever else Øresund Space Collective might be, they’re a vibe band. The version of space rock they play can be uptempo and full of thrust or it can be languid and dream-toned — or it can be both, if they want it to be — but their always-off-the-cuff jams work in intricate layers to create a style that’s immersive in the extreme and meant to be taken as an entirety in its entirety. That is, one can sit and pick apart elements like Jonathan‘s violin (he also plays guitar and theremin) that shows up in the opener and reappears in the subsequent “Sneaky Snake Jam” (the shortest inclusion at 16:03), but in his stage banter, even Heller seems to be advising the audience relax the brain and absorb the jams through the skin, and I’ve found as well that’s the best way to enjoy their work.

I count myself a fan of that work, I should note, and I consider it more or less a favor I’m doing myself whenever I get to review one of their outings. Live in Berlin 2018 is special not only for the lead guitar work of Engin or the aforementioned violin, but also for the manner in which the band so fluidly build their groove on “Sneaky Snake Jam,” or the push that emerges in the first half of the 27-minute “Henk’s Jam-O-Rama,” punctuated by Tim‘s drumming as Mogens and Dr. Space swirl out synth leads and the latter takes a second to check in with the crowd: “How y’all feeling? Great energy in the room.” Easy enough to believe. With Jiri on bass rounding out a six-piece lineup, Heller seems to particularly relish a bandleader role here. There are no vocals, or at least none discernible, as they’ve never really been a part of Øresund Space Collective‘s let’s-jam-our-way-to-the-heart-of-the-sun mission, but Heller introduces the band more than once and seems to be at the center of the proceedings.

oresund space collective (photo by Sabine Pottien)

Fair enough for his having founded the group and all that, and the human presence hardly could take away from the uptempo keyboard jazz in the middle of “Henk’s Jam-O-Rama” or the gloriously mellow funk that takes hold after the quiet opening of “Freaks of Berlin” (18:40), with a highlight performance by Tim on drums and another righteous classic-style solo from Engin on guitar. They take off in that jam, seem to burst forward, recede almost to the point of drone where it seems like maybe they’ve lost the direction, then make a bunch of noise until they get themselves sorted again and soon enough, they’re back in a quick-paced swing, capping quiet with a crash of drums in time for Heller to introduce Simon from Black Moon Circle to take over on drums for the finale “Another Jam for Sabine” while Tim moves to hand-percussion for the 17-minute finish.

And before they start, Heller states the intention of getting kind of an Afrobeat-space sound, but the end product of “Another Jam for Sabine” turns out to be more minor-key in the guitar, lending an almost Middle Eastern sensibility to its sound. While the guitar work remains impressive as it has been all along, a wash of synth early, backed by violin and meeting head-on with said guitar, makes “Another Jam for Sabine” a high point on multiple levels. Only fair they should reach maximum altitude as they get ready to end the set, but Øresund Space Collective have been around long enough at this point, whoever happens to be in the band at any given point, that they know what they want in terms of conjured atmospheres, and they sound confident here in bringing that to life, even if what they want is to jam.

Heller records most if not all of their live shows, and in addition to their 29 proper releases they have a massive digital archive of sets that can be downloaded — each one, of course, is different, with its own improvisations and its own direction depending on the night, but it’s hard to argue with the impulse for Live in Berlin 2018 to have been given a multi-track recording, a real mixdown and a physical pressing. Their energy playing Berlin for the first time and doing so while also wrapping up a five-country tour is palpable throughout and it sounds like band and audience alike were having a total blast. As prone as they can be to drift, it’s an active, engaging spirit that oozes from these explorations, and in their character and their sheer execution of a creative will, they only further the proposition that Øresund Space Collective are an institution in space rock. As Heller says when “Another Jam for Sabine” begins to wind down, “We’ll meet you in another universe some other time.” I believe it, and it probably won’t be all that long till it happens, either.

Øresund Space Collective on The Facebooks

Øresund Space Collective on Bandcamp

Øresund Space Collective website

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Friday Full-Length: West, Space & Love, West, Space & Love

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 6th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Go ahead and file under Øresund Space Collective, I suppose. And while you’re at it, pick up the pieces of my blown mind after realizing that it’s been six full years since the West, Space & Love album came out. Their self-titled debut (review here) was originally released under that banner, but immediately on its own wavelength. The uniting factor was the participation of synth specialist Scott “Dr. Space” Heller in the project, but actually, at the time, two-thirds of the outfit came from Sweden’s Siena Root — those being guitarist/sitarist KG Westman and drummer Billy “Love” Forsberg — so I suppose they were even more “file under” that band, if you want to go by the pure math. In terms of their approach though, well, I’ll say the album’s on the right Bandcamp. Perhaps the last song title says it best: “Sitars in Space.” The notion behind West, Space & Love as a project was that it should be a mostly acoustic psychedelic record. Of course, synth plays a heavy role, but with Westman‘s sitar, acoustic and electric guitars, and bass, as well as a variety of percussive instruments and more guitar helmed by Forsberg, there remains a strong undercurrent of the organic to the five included tracks on the ultra-manageable 44-minute LP. Though, you know, I say “LP” and I don’t think it was ever released on vinyl. Could it be time for a reissue?

Now’s as good as whenever, in that regard, though time doesn’t really matter with a release like this. It’s not like it’s going to go out of style. A spirit of exploration pervades — they take their improvisation-minded cues from their Øresund Space Collective parentage, to be sure; not that Siena Root at this point didn’t do their fair share of jamming — but again, the plane from which West, Space & Love‘s jams came was pretty much their own. And it was mellow. Extremely so. In my original writeup for the record, I talk about it behind a nighttime headphone record. I stand by that 100 percent, but I remember clearly the scenario I was talking about was being up late at night at Roadburn in the Netherlands when I first got this CD and listening to it there basically on west space and love west space and loverepeat for the whole weekend. It’s a freakout, but such a quiet one that it was just the perfect chillout to answer that kind of sensory overload. Six years later, the feeling is much the same.

Listening to “High Rise,” “Kafi (For Your Love)” and “Spirit Blues” on what would essentially serve as side A, the flow is impeccable. From the harder acoustic strum and percussive pulse of “High Rise” through the patient and graceful unfolding of “Kafi (For Your Love)” — every bit worthy of a comparison to Lamp of the Universe, and that’s not a line I’ll often draw — and the tracklist-centerpiece naturalism so prevalent in “Spirit Blues,” each player gets his moment to shine out from the three-piece. Whether it’s Love on “High Rise” and in the one-man-drum-circle during the second half of “Spirit Blues” or Dr. Space with the synth wash at the end of the opener or Westman‘s initial strum of sitar in “Kafi (For Your Love)” immediately taking my mind to The Beatles‘ “Love You To” — where it’s always a pleasure to go — the personality of each player is in full bloom throughout, and the manner in which they meld together to form something new is nothing short of remarkable.

And that continues into “Repetition” and “Sitar in Space,” both of which speak to a self-awareness on the part of their creators. It’s easy to imagine that the last two cuts, both utterly meditative in their approach and spacious beyond even what was brought to bear on the three tracks prior, came from later in the session. They seem to be that much more comfortable and settled into a methodology — especially the closer — but I know nothing about in what order these songs happened in the studio, so that’s just a narrative brought on by the evocative nature of the material itself. That is, that 22-minute stretch is so immersive and even unto its titles feels so conscious of what it’s creating that it’s easy to thread the story that it came after the initial explorations at the beginning of the record. For those interested more by general atmospheres than the circumstances of their creation, consider it emblematic of the pull West, Space & Love elicit generally, and the strength in terms of bringing ambience to life. Because while it is for the most part a quiet album, there’s no doubting the vibrancy of West, Space & Love from front to back. “Trippy” is overused as a descriptor, but there’s a genuine sense of journey in these songs for mind and spirit alike, and whether you let them wash over you or try and pick apart each hand-drum thud, synthesized swirl and sitar pluck, the resonance of the album’s entirety will continue long after play has stopped.

It was enough, I suppose, that Forsberg, Westman and Heller came together again in 2016 for West, Space & Love Vol. II (review here). It was a less acoustically-based session, and had the gag-track “Pig in Space” to pull the listener out of the otherwise hypnotic moment, but was still a worthy follow-up to the chemistry established here, and one hopes it won’t be the last time these three get together, however busy they might otherwise be. Forsberg remains with Siena Root, while Westman‘s contributions to 2009’s Different Realities (discussed here) would be his last with the band. He continues to focus on Hundusthani classical sitar music and has performances booked between next week and late September, when he’ll be in New York and Massachusetts both for select US appearances. His latest album, Sonashish, came out last year through Bihaan Music. Here’s a bonus raag from him just because I happened to be on his website and put it on:

Of course, Heller continues to pursue the outer reaches of the known cosmos with Øresund Space Collective, about whom writing has essentially become a means of doing myself a favor over the last several years, as I find their output always to be such a joy to put on and adventure with. I’ll say the same applies to West, Space & Love as well, which it’s been a thrill to revisit. I hope you feel the same way.

And as always, I hope you enjoy. Thanks for reading.

Pouring coffee in the dark at four in the morning? What could possibly go wrong?

Sometimes I feel like the late-night/early-morning process of decision making is its own beast entirely, separate from the entire rest of the day. And then I remember things like the fact that I drove out of lunch the other day with my wallet on top of the car, losing it — which only sucks because it was a customized gift from The Patient Mrs. — as well as my drivers license, credit cards, debit card, insurance info, cash in pounds, euro and dollars, and several checks made out to cash, etc., and I remember that, no, I’m a fucking moron all the time. Doesn’t matter if it’s four in the morning or four in the afternoon. Points for consistency, I guess?

In any case, I emerged from the coffee-pour unscathed, though I still consider the oh-no-I-can’t-turn-on-the-light-because-I-might-wake-the-baby-who-is-behind-a-closed-door theory specious and ill-examined at best. Fate may have its way with me next time, but it’ll have to wait: this was the end of the pot.

It will be missed.

I’ve been up since two, which is pretty good, considering. Last night was 12:45, for example. I managed to go back to bed for an hour or so at five yesterday, and I may yet do the same this morning, but it’s basically an effort to be done with this stuff by the time The Pecan wakes up. That’s been sometime between five and six for the last month, and especially as we’ve been back and forth between Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Jersey — currently in the latter, until Sunday — my early-morning-get-up-at-4:30-or-five-or-six-and-write time has pretty much evaporated. I’ve made the best of it, and hopefully not too many typos along the way. Nothing is permanent. Someday, my son will wake up without screaming and make himself breakfast. Whether I’ll live to see it, well, let’s not be melodramatic.

By the way, in all the hubbub of traveling and dumbassery, I left my all my meds in Massachusetts. Remember last week when I talked about crying for no reason? Yeah. Tomorrow should be interesting.

Speaking of interesting, I’m kicking the can down the line again and pushing back the Quarterly Review another week. The reason? I’m just not ready. I don’t have Photoshop installed on The Silver Fox yet or a registered version of Word — the former used to making a banner, the latter for keeping track of word counts for the reviews so I don’t fly off the handle and do 500 words for everything — so that’s a thing, and I still have one or two more picks to include for a couple of the days. Getting that laptop stolen in the UK really fucked me up. I hope the dickweed who did the snagging got some decent heroin with whatever cash he got in exchange for it. I’d love to hear from (presumably) him.

So, with the Quarterly Review put off, next week has a lot of stuff up in the air. I’ll improvise like West, Space & Love, but here’s the basic formative plan I’m going from. I fully expect this will change:

Mon.: Saturnia review; Churchburn video.
Tue.: Great Electric Quest review.
Wed.: Black Moon Circle review.
Thu.: TBD.
Fri.: TBD.

Pretty vague. Sorry about that. I was hoping to pull it together on the Quarterly Review and just didn’t get there, so the stuff for the week after, which was half-planned as you can see above, has basically been bumped up. If I’m lucky, someone will feel like premiering something in all that. For what it’s worth, I’ve already got stuff planned as far out as July 31. Just not next week.

However, I remain certain this site won’t go without its due share of postery. There’s plenty out there to cover. To wit, I just checked my email and got asked to do two premieres next week. So things will shape up. I still need to look at Thee Facebooks messages as well. Oy.

Actually, why don’t I go do that. Plus it’s quarter after five, so The Pecan should be getting up imminently and I should put the first of today’s posts live.

And yup, there’s the call. Gotta run. Great and safe weekend, and please check out the forum and radio stream.

 

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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Øresund Space Collective, Chatoyant Breath: The Eyes, Open

Posted in Reviews on June 12th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Oresund Space Collective Chatoyant Breath

Every time the Denmark/Portugal/wherever-based outfit Øresund Space Collective put a record out, they’re basically sending their listenership and everyone else an invitation to share in a moment. I don’t want to make it sound too flowery, because the reality of the situation is it’s dudes in a room playing instruments, but what the band creates and has created now for well over a decade lives up to the cliché of reaching beyond the circumstances of its making. Always improvised at least to some extent — safe to say every now and then a riff someone thought of beforehand sneaks in there — their music spreads out as vast and as marvelously psychedelic as their runtimes often likewise find themselves extended. With an ever-fluid lineup and an ever-fluid sound, their latest collection, Chatoyant Breath, includes a stopover from guitarist Gary Arce, founder of Yawning Man and pivotal figure in the creation of Californian desert rock.

Issued on a limited CD and LP run via Space Rock Productions, the offering — the title of which refers to the cat’s-eye effect of gemstones; hence the French root, “chat” — comprises five extended pieces all recorded in a single day. As ever, the group is led by synth master and bandleader Scott “Dr. Space” Heller, whose custom box of wonders with its many mysterious plugs and wires is, also as ever, a galaxy-creator unto itself. Joining Heller and the core of Nick Hill (guitar), Jiri Jon Hjort (bass), Mogens Deenfort Pederson (synth) and Martin Bjerregaard (Gas Giant) on drums is returning player Nicklas Sørensen (guitar; also of Papir), and of course Arce, and together the group ranges beyond two hours and 15 minutes across two discs of positively molten spaced-out voyage. Arce, his tone inimitable and something of which the Palm Desert city council should erect a statue, plays on three of the five cuts, including opener “Peaceful Patterns” (28:37), the subsequent title-track (36:08), which together make up the entirety of disc one, and “Angular Ambrosia” (28:02) on disc two, which leads into the two final jams, “Turbulent Trepidation” (23:21) and “Celestial Sensation” (19:23).

Nick and Nicklas switch up who plays on what — though everybody seems to be all-in on the “Chatoyant Breath” itself — and whoever is involved in whichever given jam, the effect the album has is soothing enough to justify the title of its leadoff, and even as the most active moments of the title-track dip into a kind of upbeat kosmiche reggae or “Angular Ambrosia” rumbles a deeper low-end fuzz beneath the overarching airy guitar notes and copious effects swirl, the shift in the actual amount happening in any given stretch only makes the release more dynamic, rather than detracting from its atmospheric cohesion. One would expect no less from Øresund Space Collective at this stage in their tenure, and though their songs are sometimes carved out of longer jams — further editing is done to make them fit on LP — the group’s underlying mission never wavers: they are capturing the moment of creation as it happens and presenting it to their audience as pure and unrefined as possible. That said, their approach is pretty refined at this point. To my knowledge, Chatoyant Breath is the most recent studio session they’ve had, tracking with the full group in Jan. 2017 and Heller mixing over a period of months afterward.

Oresund Space Collective

Their preceding outing, Oct. 2017’s Hallucinations Inside the Oracle (review here), was put to tape in Nov. 2016, and they never seem to have a session that doesn’t result in at least one release, if not more than that. Accordingly, as this is the latest manifestation of their process, one can also see it as the latest step in their ongoing development. Chemistry at this point is a given — the band wouldn’t exist without it — but for followers of the band who may or may not keep up with their regularly-posted live free-download shows in their group on Thee Facebooks, the clearer realization of their methodology is like a status update from another world: “still here, still far out.” As “Celestial Sensation” winds down and seems to inadvertently (and somewhat ironically, given the album’s runtime and the band’s general longform ways) reference the lead in The Eagles‘ “Hotel California,” the confirmation comes through clearly of another successful endeavor and spirited collaboration. It doesn’t directly mirror the beginning in “Peaceful Patterns” or anything like that — somehow that would almost be too much structure — and the personnel has changed, but that ending nonetheless reaffirms the vitality at work behind an effort that remains serene at its heart.

They’ve never been a band for everybody, and their project remains something that not every listener is going to be able to connect with, but as the official and unofficial catalogs of Øresund Space Collective keep growing, it only becomes more apparent how special an outfit they are, and how much they’ve carved out their own place even among psychedelic jam bands. There are plenty of those around, and plenty who take the instrumentalist and improvisational approach as well, but the level of immersion that Øresund Space Collective emit is their own entirely, and the personality they inject into their grooves isn’t to be overlooked, even if they’re serving as a background or atmospheric listen — that is, even if one isn’t sitting down and analyzing every change or shift in “Angular Ambrosia,” it’s still possible to appreciate what’s happening there, and the same holds true for the rest of the record surrounding. The longer Øresund Space Collective go, the more sustainable their ideas seem, and with such an open sense of what they do behind them, their breadth only continues to move itself forward.

Arce‘s contributions, particularly to the title-track, which is the highlight here and practically a full-length unto itself, are a compelling factor, but there’s no question this is an Øresund Space Collective release. Part of that comes down to the mixing itself and the way it integrates Arce‘s guitar alongside the others and the synth, effects, bass, drums and whatever else, but really, it’s even more about the consuming whole of the jams playing out. Øresund Space Collective have their own kind of space rock, and it’s often less about thrust than it is about drift, and that’s the case with much of what’s made it onto Chatoyant Breath. Once again, the band has dug out its own place amidst the stars and cut the engine to see where gravity takes them. As it invariably must be, the answer to that question is it takes them forward. No doubt that will be the case next time as well, and no doubt there will at some point be a next time. Once you’ve left orbit, why come back?

Øresund Space Collective, Chatoyant Breath (2018)

Øresund Space Collective on The Facebooks

Øresund Space Collective on Bandcamp

Øresund Space Collective website

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