Review & Video Premiere: Siena Root, A Dream of Lasting Peace

Posted in Bootleg Theater, Reviews on May 19th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

siena-root-a-dream-of-lasting-peace

[Click play above to see the premiere of Siena Root’s video for ‘No Filter.’ Their new album, A Dream of Lasting Peace, is out May 26 in Europe and June 23 in the US on MIG Music/MVD.]

Among those playing classic-style heavy rock, there are few who do it with the conviction of purpose or the soul of Sweden’s Siena Root, and that has remained true in the 13 years since their 2003 Nasoni-delivered debut, A New Day Dawning, despite some significant shifts in personnel and sound. Their fifth studio full-length, A Dream of Lasting Peace, finds the Stockholm five-piece indisputable as masters reveling in the form, even as new frontman Samuel Björö makes his studio debut with the band following the departure of Jonas Åhlén after 2014’s Pioneers (discussed here).

Founding bassist/vocalist Sam Riffer and drummer/vocalist Love “Billy” Forsberg continue to resonate as the core of the group, and if their last outing captured them still in transition style-wise after splitting with guitarist/sitarist KG West, whose psychedelic ambience was a huge part of the craft of their early work on albums like the aforementioned debut, 2006’s Kaleidoscope (discussed here), 2008’s Far from the Sun and 2009’s Different Realities (discussed here), these 10 tracks/44 minutes show RifferForsbergBjörö, guitarist Matte Gustavsson and organist/keyboardist Erik “Errka” Petersson well in command both aesthetically and in terms of performance. Throughout the release, Björö shines as a singer and Petersson and Gustavsson play off each other — see the penultimate light-step boogie of “Imaginarium” — in a fashion that would and should make peak-era Deep Purple fans blush with delight.

A Dream of Lasting Peace offers touches of psychedelia in the drifting bluesy jam of “The Piper Won’t Let You Stay” and stage-ready vitality across the likes of “No Filters,” “Outlander” and the bouncing funk of “Tales of Independence,” but primarily, the album lands its impact with the strength of its hooks and the balance of its execution across this range of mostly positive-vibing moods. Siena Root are not a dark band, and they never have been, and A Dream of Lasting Peace sounds like the people who made it were having a good time in a way that proves as infectious as the chorus of opener “Secrets” and “Tales of Independence,” which follows in a righteous opening salvo that continues to build momentum as it shuffles into the more laid back “Sundown.” Harmonies pervade a more patient fluidity, but with Petersson‘s underlying organ line and toss-off lead flourish from Gustavsson, the melody is ever at hand, and an instrumental break at 1:48 into the song’s unassuming 4:19 gives the organ space for a solo complemented by guitar and propelled by the creative drumming of Forsberg, who adds chimes just before a tom roll signals the change back into the verse that reintroduces Björö on vocals.

It would be a worthy single with Riffer‘s bass as the foundational element, but it does just as well here as a transition into the even more subdued blues of “The Piper Won’t Let You Stay,” the longest inclusion at 6:08 and a graceful instrumental swell that seems drawn forward by Björö, who delivers his most impressive performance of the record in what feels like a showcase track despite a midsection crescendo that offers crisp, thicker guitar and key work and dynamic changes in tempo and volume. As they sleek their way through the crashing end of that song and into the organ rumble that starts “Outlander,” the return to a more energetic chorus and classic structure marked by its starts and stops is a welcome finish to side A, and the manner in which Petersson and Gustavsson end the track first together, then just with Petersson‘s keys, couldn’t feel more appropriate as the fadeout begins.

siena root

Already through the first half of A Dream of Lasting Peace, there is no level on which Siena Root aren’t delivering. In performance, in the quality of their songwriting, in the balance of clarity and natural feel of the recording itself and in the spirit driving them, they come across as revitalized, and if Pioneers was their way of exploring the possibilities of where their classic influences might take them post-West, here they take the lessons they learned from that experience and use them to grab the reins of their approach and hone something truly special. Traditionally, one would find a band experimenting a bit more on side B, and the Purple-hued rush of “Growing Underground” teases that possibility a bit in a direct call and response from Gustavsson and Petersson that’s just flat-out fun, leading to “Empty Streets,” which seems at first to echo “The Piper Won’t Let You Stay” but finds Riffer delivering a highlight bassline in tandem with the organ late as part of a rousing apex built outward from a nigh-on hypnotic but still progressive meandering.

The shorter and more straightforward “No Filters” has a push to echo “Secrets” and “Tales of Independence” early on, and makes a suitable centerpiece for side B as it regrounds Siena Root heading into the jazzy instrumental “Imaginarium” and subsequent closer “The Echoes Unfold,” which offers a spacious ending with echo on Björö‘s voice to fill a void of stopped guitar and keys and temporarily paused drums and bass. The play of volume and push that ensues is no less poised than anything preceding, less bluesy than “The Piper Won’t Let You Stay,” but thoroughly satisfying in its winding chorus and in the key-led ending section, which takes hold at about the three-minute mark and carries through to the long fade just past five minutes in, casting a symmetry with “Outlander” and once again feeling wholly befitting the course Siena Root have set overall.

Given the obvious care put into their presentation and the level of realization Siena Root attain within these tracks and through the overarching flow they create between them, A Dream of Lasting Peace is a joy that feels sculpted specifically to cast a celebration among the heavy rock converted. The band have their niche, to be sure, but they’ve long excelled in their work and their latest only furthers that thread while also setting them on a sustainable path going forward. Their lineup has always been subject to change and it’s entirely possible it will be in the future as well, but these songs hit on a balance worthy of being considered a highlight in their discography and if they serve as a model for the band to follow, at least for a while, that can only be to the benefit of players and fans alike. A no-doubter to stand among 2017’s best in classic and progressive heavy rock and roll.

Siena Root on Thee Facebooks

Siena Root on Bandcamp

Siena Root on Instagram

Siena Root website

Siena Root at MIG Music

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The Presolar Sands to Release The Big Noise April 21

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 16th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the presolar sands

If you’ve got a couple minutes and a will to drift, Swedish psych rockers The Presolar Sands would like to have a word. Or at least some tone. And a few words. Okay it’s a streaming song. Fine. You got me. Happy now?

Jeez.

The Stockholm-based four-piece make their full-length debut on April 12 via Lazy Octopus Records with The Big Noise, and though the title hints at cacophony and maybe the album has plenty of it, the track they’re streaming in advance, “Witches’ Hill,” soothes as much as it ranges over the course of its classic cult-poppy three-minutes.

You can check it out at the bottom of the post, under all the album art and info and whatnot, which was snagged from the interwebs:

the presolar sands the big noise

THE PRESOLAR SANDS – ”THE BIG NOISE” – RELEASE APRIL 12

The Presolar Sands creates music from a broad spectrum of genres that comes together in a world where melodic and psychedelic elements resonate with crushed explosive noise and dark witch symbolism. Since the debut in 2015, The Presolar Sands have released a 7” and an EP, they’ve supported international acts such as Kikagaku Moyo and White Hills and played shows around Scandinavia and Europe including festivals like Sweden Rock Festival (2016), Malmö Psych Fest (2015), Copenhagen Psych Fest (2016), Malmöfestivalen (2016) and Where’s The Music? (2017).

Their debut album THE BIG NOISE is out April 12 via Lazy Octopus Records. It draws inspiration from the Witch Hunts of the 17th century, and the period of mass hysteria in Sweden, called The Big Noise (Det Stora Oväsendet), where hundreds of women were assassinated for ”practicing witchcraft”.

THE BIG NOISE has heart-beat drums, vibrating guitars, reverberating piano, dark lyrics and the witchy voices of Jessica (sings lead vocals on “Exposure”, “Witches’ Hill”, “State Of Loneliness”, “Panic Disorder”, “Skinchanger” and “We Own You”) and Charlotta (sings lead vocals on “Det Stora Oväsendet” and “Dig You Out”).

It was recorded at Studio Cobra in Stockholm in November 2016 together with producer/engineer Martin Ehrencrona and mastered by Hans Olsson Brookes at Svenska Grammofonstudion in Gothenburg.

Tracklisting:
1. Exposure
2. Det Stora Oväsendet
3. Witches’ Hill
4. Dig You Out
5. State Of Loneliness
6. Panic Disorder
7. Skin Changer
8. We Own You

https://www.facebook.com/ThePresolarSands/
http://instagram.com/thepresolarsands
https://www.thepresolarsands.com/
https://lazyoctopus.bandcamp.com/album/the-big-noise
http://www.lazyoctopusrecords.se/
http://facebook.com/lazyoctopusrecords

The Presolar Sands, The Big Noise (2017)

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Siena Root Sign to MIG Music; A Dream of Lasting Peace Due in April

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 2nd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Stockholm-based heavy rock classicists Siena Root have signed a deal to issue their next album, A Dream of Lasting Peace, in April on MIG Music. The German imprint is probably best known for its many releases recorded for Rockpalast, as well as a vast swath of krautrock reissues that run in varying degrees of obscurity. Between then two, a band like Siena Root should fit perfectly, with a classic, live-feeling sound that’s given to progressive touches. US distribution will be through MVD, which if I’m not mistaken also handled 2014’s Pioneers, but either way it’s cool to see the record will be out in Spring. Couldn’t be a better time for something that’s bound to be so brimming with life.

Oh, and I promise you I didn’t know this news was coming when I decided to close out last week with Siena Root. Pure serendipity. Kind of nice how it worked out though, right? Everything around here should be so cohesive.

The label’s announcement follows, as well as Siena Root‘s upcoming tour dates in Poland and Germany:

Siena Root – A Dream of Lasting Peace – Made in Germany Music

The Swedish band SIENA ROOT has signed a worldwide record contract with M.I.G. Made In Germany Music in Hanover. “A Dream Of Lasting Peace” is the sixth studio album of the Swedish retro rock pioneers and is already scheduled for release end of April this year. The psychedelic and progressive rockers of SIENA ROOT already have an established and loyal fan base in many European countries and played at the most important festivals on the continent in the last year.

Manfred Schütz, MD of MIG Music, about the new deal: “We have seen and heard the band almost two years ago at the Burg Herzberg festival. After that, it was clear to us that we had to work with these guys! We here at MIG cultivate a very selective signing of artists and bands. That is why we are especially pleased to collaborate with these creative and ambitious musicians.”

Siena Root live:
09.03 PL Gdansk Protokultura
10.03 PL Warsawa Chmury
11.03 DE Seelow Blues Rock Festival
12.03 PL Chorzow Lesniczowka Club
13.03 DE Reichenbach Bergkeller

Siena Root is:
Matte Gustavsson – lead guitar
Sam Riffer – bass and vocals
Love “Billy” Forsberg – drums and vocals
Erik “Errka” Petersson – organs and keyboards
Samuel Björö – lead vocals

https://www.facebook.com/sienaroot
https://sienaroot.bandcamp.com/
https://www.instagram.com/sienaroot/
http://www.sienaroot.com/
http://www.mig-music.de/en/siena-root-are-signing-with-mig-music/

Siena Root, Pioneers (2014)

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Friday Full-Length: Siena Root, Kaleidoscope

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 27th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Siena Root, Kaleidoscope (2006)

If you’ve ever listened to Siena Root and not immediately wanted to purchase everything they’ve ever put out, I dare say you weren’t paying close enough attention. The longish-running classic heavy rockers have had enough people come in and out of their lineup over the years to populate a small village in their native Sweden, but they never fair to bring something special to their output.

Starting their first album, 2004’s A New Day Dawning, onward, they’ve stayed true one way or another to ’70s heavy vibes, but they were among a few early adopters when it comes to the current wave of boogie rock, even in Sweden, and their first four albums — A New Day Dawning, 2006’s Kaleidoscope, 2008’s Far from the Sun and 2009’s Different Realities (discussed here) — stood out all the more not only for the vintage feel, but for the fullness of their arrangements. Working with labels like Nasoni Records and Transubstans RecordsSiena Root freely explored blends of organ, percussion, Rhodes, Mellotron, vocal changes, and sitar — the last of those provided by multi-instrumentalist KG West, who would play an increasing role in shaping the band’s sound over those four outings.

On Kaleidoscope, the group set a pivotal forward motion, and at the winding-down of the CD era, they purposefully built a two-sided, 51-minute offering of primo naturalist groove. The lineup of vocalist Sanya, vocalist/organist Oskar Lundström, lead vocalist/guitarist Sartez FarajWest on guitar, organ, sitar, Rhodes, and mellotron, bassist/percussionist/vocalist Sam Riffer, and drummer/percussionist Love Forsberg, brought together a bluesy spirit that turned out to be as prescient of what was to come from Sweden and of course the broader European sphere of heavy rock as it was backward-looking to the heavy acts of yore. Anchored by Riffer and Forsberg in the rhythm section, opener “Good and Bad” moved from catchy shuffle into a hazy spaciousness with a certified-organic jam that seemed to be taking its cues via what-would-RitchieBlackmore-do and then built its way back gloriously to the place from whence it came in an eight-minute show of mastery that let listeners know immediately they were in for a killer trip.

From there, side A played to more straightforward and bluesier spirit in “Nightstalker” and “Blues 276,” bringing Sanya‘s soulful delivery forward on the former amid backing organ and sleekly bouncing the low end in the latter in a loose, gorgeously- and clean-toned jammer, efficient at 3:43 but with enough swing for a song of three times the length. It was on the subsequent “Bhairavi Dhun” that West‘s sitar took the lead position, and though the nine-minute track eventually welcomed in wah-soaked bass, drums and flute, the delve into Indian-influenced composition remained a bold and striking turn for Kaleidoscope to take, becoming one of the central impressions left behind when it was over. Siena Root already stood out from what was then a much smaller pack — recall Graveyard wouldn’t have their first record out until 2007 (also on Transubstans) — but the Subcontinental stylization of “Bhairavi Dhun” absolutely put Kaleidoscope over the top.

And they still had half the record to go! The initially minimalist drift-into-jam of “Crossing the Stratosphere,” low-end foreboding into a resuming of the more straight-ahead rock jamming of “Nightstalker” or “Blues 276,” would lead directly into “There and back Again,” marked out by its Purple-hued organ and bass fluidity, and the rumble at the end of “There and back Again” once more set the stage for the full-boogie of the six-minute “Ridin’ Slow,” which might’ve lived up to its name but for the energy with which it was delivered. Another stellar vocal from Sanya, another stellar bassline from Riffer, and another affirmation of jammy righteousness from Siena Root as a whole, “Ridin’ Slow” shifted into open-plucked guitar notes in its midsection in post-Zeppelin fashion, but kept a progressive edge thanks to the Mellotron and vocal effects before moving back into more vibrant push, which is how it ended, making its way out still grooving on a long fade.

As for 11-minute finale “Reverberations,” it would have its work cut out for it in summarizing the suitably multi-color Kaleidoscope as a whole, but a long, linear showing of instrumental chemistry said as much about what made this incarnation of Siena Root work so well as anything else could have. Flute — or flute sounds, anyway — and organ and guitar and bass and drums all came together with class and purpose, and while one might’ve appreciated a return of West‘s sitar layered in for symmetry’s sake with “Bhairavi Dhun,” the cacophony at which “Reverberations” arrived lacked nothing in terms of making its impact and closing Siena Root‘s second album on a delightfully immersive note.

Siena Root reissued a remastered version of Kaleidoscope — which is what you’re (hopefully) hearing above — through their own Root Rock Records imprint in 2015. After the blissfully conceptual Different Realities in 2009, it would be half a decade before they’d put out another studio album in 2014’s more modern-feeling Pioneers (discussed here), though their 2011 live record, aptly titled Root Jam (track stream here), felt like an appropriate celebration of their work in the meantime. Now comprised of RifferForsberg, vocalist Samuel Björö, organist Erik Petersson and guitarist Matte GustavssonSiena Root are currently the process of mastering a new full-length, and, having had the extraordinary pleasure of seeing them live last fall at Høstsabbat in Norway (review here), it is a record to which I’m very much looking forward.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

Call me crazy, but by the time I saw the news last night that the aforementioned Graveyard are getting back together, my head was already spinning from the outright barrage of information this week. Monday and Tuesday, five-post days, but Wednesday was seven, yesterday was six and this post makes seven again for today, and that’s a lot for my poor, feeble brain to take.

I’m already behind on stuff for next week as well — it’s like everyone on the planet chose this week to release their new video — and it’s a busy one besides, but here’s a rundown of how it looks so far:

Mon.: Special post and XII Boar video.
Tue.: Evil Triplet track premiere and Strange Broue video.
Wed.: Shroud Eater premiere and Demon Head video.
Thu.: Hollow Leg premiere and Dot Legacy video.
Fri.: Stinking Lizaveta premiere and Black Mirrors video.

All this stuff is pretty much locked in, so that’s how I’m expecting it to shake out, but of course changes happen.

I’ll say a special thanks to everyone who liked, shared, commented on and helped build the Tomorrow’s Dream post to a point of being over the 200 mark. I especially appreciate the civil tone the comments took and the fact that people genuinely seemed interested in making it a more complete document rather than simply calling me out on things I missed. Thank you for that, and thank you as always for reading.

Do yourself and me a favor and have a great and safe weekend. Please check out the forum and the radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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Feature: 10 Records that Made Domkraft Want to End Electricity

Posted in Features on December 21st, 2016 by JJ Koczan

domkraft carl carpelan

Stockholm riff-pummelers Domkraft made their debut this fall with The End of Electricity on Magnetic Eye Records — a blown-out collection of dense-toned low end push, mean in its execution and weighted on a planetary scale. Rest assured, plenty of electricity went into its making, though perhaps they chose the title for the number of fuses they blew in the studio trying to power all those tube amps. A question for another time.

Today we concern ourselves with what drove the three-piece of bassist/vocalist Martin Wegeland, guitarist Martin Widholm and drummer domkraft the end of electricityAnders Dahlgren to craft this monstrosity of riff in the first place. One learns early on in writing about music that the question “Who are your influences?” is off limits once you’re no longer writing for the high school newspaper. That’s some shit that you, as a critic, should know by the time you talk to someone. But Domkraft were kind enough to take the initiative and answer the question anyhow in the form of counting down (counting up? either way, counting) 10 records that made them who they are as a band.

And though I’m sure you’ve heard it by now, just like you already know they’ve been tapped to play Psycho Las Vegas 2017, because you’re hip like that and into the rock and/or roll, just in case you want some context for what the band discusses below, I’ve also included the stream of The End of Electricity at the bottom of this post, so you can hear what all this cool stuff sounds like when it comes out the other side of Domkraft‘s blender.

Thanks to Domkraft for taking the time and to Jadd Shickler for coordinating. Enjoy:

10 Records that Made Domkraft

PINK FLOYD, Meddle (1971)

Well, where to start with this one? A seminal album in every aspect. This is the very blueprint for how drums, guitar and bass can interact in long, sweeping, echoing compositions that grow in and out of one given theme. Some of us have listened to this album ever since we were kids. The epic pounding of “One of These Days” still lacks comparison. And even if we work in a different musical context, the live version of the song from Pompeii 1972 in particular captures the very essence of how music should feel for us; overwhelming, transcendental and all-consuming. An inspiration in so many ways.

SPACEMEN 3, Playing with Fire (1989)

“Just play one note. No fancy stuff.” With fancy stuff being two notes, this band is a marvel in itself. When it comes to creating greatness out of almost nothing, Spacemen 3 are still unrivalled. And Playing with Fire is arguably their finest moment. From the dream-like inner and outer journey of “Honey” and “How Does It Feel?” to downright life-transforming sonic freight trains such as “Revolution” and “Suicide,” this is probably one of the bands that has had the biggest impact on how we apprehend music. The tones themselves decide the structure of the song, not the other way around. And less is almost always so much more. We love both sides of this band, the mellow stuff as well as the really powerful, even though I think most of the people who appreciate Domkraft will get more out of the louder stuff. Anyway, an amazing band and an album that sounds as fresh today as it did when it was released in 1989.

LOOP, A Gilded Eternity (1990)

When we’re writing, groove and pace are two cornerstones. Loop purified the bond between sparse, focused rhythms and feedback guitars. Their music is so self-conscious — it’s almost as if all parts not proven vital for the song’s existence have been removed. Staccato drumming and kraut-like bass grooves together with screaming minimalistic, echo-drenched wah-wah guitars give songs like “The Nail Will Burn” a unique, hypnotic vibe. The riffs feel endless. No beginning. No end. Everything so simplified, repeated and recycled that even the smallest alteration makes a huge difference. In Domkraft, we work a lot with the idea of trusting a riff enough to let it take over a song. One riff, one firm groove. That’s all you need, really. And it does not necessarily have to space out — keeping it sharp can be equally mind-bending. And Loop knew that early on.

GOD MACHINE, Songs from the Second Storey (1993)

Apparently there’s at least one other band with the same name now, but we’re talking about the classic San Diego ’90s band here. So, yeah, some elements on this album haven’t aged that well and sound very much like a product of their time. But when they hit the sweet spot, oh man… they are sooo good. Not metal, but still heavier than most bands of that era, and with longing, desperate vocals floating upon gluey, crawling, rock-solid riffing. It becomes something that is hard to really label –- without making a fuss about being genre-bending. You can definitely hear echoes of God Machine in Domkraft, especially in how we work with vocals.

ENTOMBED, Wolverine Blues (1993)

If you’re Swedish and into heavier music, you just have to relate to Entombed somehow. We’re pretty old school, so the first three albums are where it’s at for us. Strangely though, with Wolverine Blues being the defining moment that moved them away from the classic death metal they played a big part in shaping, this is also one of their absolutely heaviest offerings. And it also features some of Nicke Andersson’s finest drumming –- he has that pretty unique Bill Ward-quality of making everything sound alive and in constant motion. Apart from being an inspiration rhythm-wise, there’s also a few scales that would probably not be there if it wasn’t for Entombed.

MELVINS, Houdini (1993)

When Melvins decided to slow things down, they certainly didn’t half-ass it. Their raw, bass-heavy and down-tuned sound made a huge impact on us (and still does). There is something about these guys that makes you feel like metal, punk or rock music never existed before. Seemingly uninterested in appearance and with almost surrealist lyrics, they challenge the whole concept of genres. That, combined with the intense drumming, the bass tone, the rhythmic and sludgy riffing of songs like “Hooch” and “Night Goat,” was a big reference for us when Domkraft was formed.

MONSTER MAGNET, Dopes to Infinity (1995)

Even though the band had released a few albums before, Dopes to Infinity was the album that really made us fall in love with them. At that time no one could deliver more powerful riffing and spaced-out songs and still be heavy as fuck. They seemed to mix the anglo-surrealism of Syd Barrett with punk rock attitude, Iommic riffing and the free-form song structures of Hawkwind. Echoing phasers, earth-shattering riffs and songs that, when needed, are long enough to make you lose track of time. The result was mind-bending to us then and still continues to influence us.

HIS HERO IS GONE, Monument to Thieves (1997)

Like a restless bastard sibling to Neurosis, Memphis’ His Hero Is Gone made a couple of albums in the late ’90s that sounded pretty much like the musical equivalent of nuclear war. Crusty pain-ridden hardcore, no nonsense d-beat and extreme, doomy low-end. Call it proto-sludge, if you will. Call it brilliant, you must. The atmosphere of this album is dark and gloomy, still somehow strangely beautiful in all of its intensity and almost bittersweet –- and it all sounds natural. That is something that very well might echo in our songs as well.

BURIED AT SEA, Migration (2003)

How low can you go? Well, this is about it. At least if you want to retain some kind of detail. Pretty minimalist as far as song structures go and manages to be extremely dense and atmospheric at the same time. The deranged, distorted vocals that appear very sparsely are almost like they’re just there to remind you that “oh! this is actually played by humans.” It’s also brilliantly produced, and well, what less could you expect with Sanford Parker in the band? The low-end just levels everything in its path and the highs accentuate everything that happens in the background (and that is quite a lot). Possibly one of the most intense — and groovy! — albums ever. The impact on Domkraft is probably mainly the realization that you don’t have to fear either mid or treble in order to still keep things heavy as fuck.

SWANS, The Seer (2011)

There is something about Swans that is close to impossible to describe in words alone. Especially regarding the second stage of their career. The constant building, how minor alterations make all the difference and the notion that you never really know if there could ever be an end to it. And you really don’t ever want it to end either. It’s a trance-like state, but the sheer power still makes you very aware of every change. It’s beautiful and threatening at the same time. Clean, crisp and sometimes almost orchestral. We might be on the other side of the sonic spectra with our massive use of fuzz and effects, but the spirit and the idea that each song itself sets its own rules has been a massive influence on us. Probably one of the three most important bands for us -– the other two being Sabbath and Spacemen 3.

Domkraft, The End of Electricity (2016)

Domkraft on Thee Facebooks

Domkraft on Bandcamp

Magnetic Eye Records on Thee Facebooks

Magnetic Eye Records on Bandcamp

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On the Radar: Deem Release Untitled Debut EP

Posted in On the Radar on December 6th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

I’ll admit to knowing next to nothing about Stockholm psychedelic rockers Deem. I know they’re from Stockholm because their social media says so, but there’s very little other info announced about the release, and quite frankly, I’ve seen their moniker written as Deem, as D?em, with the mid-central vowel-style, upside-down ‘e’ (the character for which WordPress won’t show, hence that question mark), and as Daem, all in the span of less than a single day since I got sent the tracks by producer Paris Fragkos, also of Greek desert rock upstarts Tuber. The only reason I’m going with Deem is because it’s a word.

Sometimes new bands start out this way, and I’ll admit I have a soft spot for that process unknowing. It means I put on Deem‘s apparently untitled four-track EP and dig into the vaguely Mideastern psychedelic inflection of “Three Doors Leading out of the Dark Room” or the subsequent meditativeness of “Qurban” — named for the animal slaughter practiced during Eid — and have only the music to go on. I don’t know who made it, don’t know where they come from originally or what their connection might be to the ideas they’re working with.

“Qurban” obscures its vocals deep in the mix as well in its quietest parts, letting a subdued drum progression move the song forward for a time as it starts its build. As the spacier shuffle and percussive intricacy in “Digital Paganist” and return to ritualism on the chant-laden psych-folk of finisher “The Trail” continue to expand the palette beyond genre confines, I feel refreshed and renewed by the fact that I’m curious about how the release was made, where Deem are coming from sound-wise, how they wound up recording in Greece and incorporating what sound like regional influences while being based in Stockholm, and so on. Or hell, how many people are involved. My interest is piqued.

Even their artwork carries a sense of mystery. And so, needless to say, I’ll be keeping an eye out for more from them going forward. Here’s the art and tracklisting for now, along with what little info they posted about the release itself, and of course the stream of the tracks from Bandcamp, which I hope you find as exciting as I do.

Enjoy:

deem-deem

_ by Deem

Recorded, mixed and produced by Paris Fragkos at Flow Recordings, Serres, Greece. Assistant Yannis Goudanos.

Tracklisting:
1. Three doors leading out of the dark room 07:43
2. Qurban 05:41
3. Digital paganist 06:07
4. The trail 08:55

Deem, _ (2016)

Deem on Thee Facebooks

Deem on Bandcamp

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Domkraft to Release The End of Electricity Nov. 11; Preorders Available & Teaser Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 5th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

domkraft-photo-by-carl-carpelan

I’ve heard Domkraft‘s The End of Electricity, and I’ll tell you three things about it: First, it crushes. The bass tone? You gotta hear it. Groove, lumbering. Riffs, pummeling. All that stuff that means it’s really, really heavy. Second, it opens with its longest track, which in my book gets it immediate points. Third, Magnetic Eye Records has it up for preorder now and for a limited time to coincide with releasing the trailer that you can see for the first time anywhere at the bottom of this post, they’ve also got free shipping on international preorders. So if you’re in Europe or Canada or South America or, you know, anywhere else that’s not the US, no need to be left out of the good times. Because ultimately we’re one big heavy family, no matter what it costs to send a package across a given border.

Seriously though, once you get a load of the aforementioned teaser clip, you might want to place that order, because it seems entirely likely to me that once people have a handle on what Domkraft are doing with The End of Electricity, those records could go and go quickly.

Art, info, links and audio follow, courtesy of Magnetic Eye:

Domkraft 12 jacket Gatefold

DOMKRAFT – The End of Electricity

Magnetic Eye Records – November 11, 2016

DOMKRAFT, whose name combines the Swedish “DOM” for judgement and “KRAFT” for power, blasts forth towering dirges of annihilating doom, mindbending psychedelia, and
hypnotic minimalism.

The seeds for the monolithic Stockholm band were planted in Gothenburg, where bassist/singer Martin Wegeland, guitarist Martin Widholm and drummer Anders Dahlgren met while playing in various musical constellations. Bonding over the likes of Spacemen 3, Monster Magnet, Sleep and Hawkwind, not to mention a fascination with 10-minute/three chord songs, they finally came together after each relocated to Stockholm.

Drawing from the heaviest of their combined influences, the three spent spent years shaping and crafting their sound, resulting in a spacious yet crushing approach. From Loop to Sleep, Sabbath to Neu!, Hawkwind to Neurosis and Swans to Spacemen 3, the DOMKRAFT sound is an unsettling mix of grinding riffs, blistering power, and inexorable motion.

Says Martin Wegeland: “Our songs build from one riff, played LOUD, then we add and lose parts to mold it all into something powerful. Focusing on the dramaturgy of the songs, we also have clear images in mind when writing. Inspiration comes from films like Jake Paltrow’s Young Ones, Stephen Fingleton’s The Survivalist and (of course) The Road Warrior, though we never let any of that interfere with the groove and energy. The results of our songwriting method may differ in shape from one song to the next, but the foundation is always the same – repetition and volume! You’ll eventually get sick of every melody, but grooves are forever.”

This is Domkraft:
Martin Widholm – Guitar
Martin Wegeland – Bass & Vocals
Anders Dahlgren – Drums

https://domkraft.bandcamp.com/album/the-end-of-electricity
https://www.facebook.com/domkraftband/
https://www.facebook.com/MagneticEyeRecords/
https://twitter.com/magnetic_eye
http://magneticeyerecords.com/

Domkraft, The End of Electricity teaser

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Katla, Embryo: Crazy Worlds (Plus Track Premiere)

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on September 12th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

katla-embryo

[Click play above to stream a track premiere from Katla’s Embryo. Album is out Sept. 30 on Svart Records.]

There are moments, as in the second half of second cut “Endless Journey” or the first of closer “A Black Slimy Smooth Tongueshaped Form,” when Katla ignite a space rock so pure it seems born of a direct Hawkwindian lineage, enough to make it tempting to check whether the listed-as-first-name-only lineup of Nils, Johan, Lisa or Nilz hail from the family Brock. But that’s by no means the extent of the stylistic range they cover.

Their debut album, Embryo, arrives via respected purveyor Svart Records with a loose heavy psych affiliation, classic in its swing, modern in tone, strangely melodic with Lisa‘s breathy delivery and delivered with an embrace of prog-of-old weirdness that comes to be one of its defining aspects as it plays out its vinyl-ready nine tracks/48 minutes, encouraging listeners to “break free,” presumably of their square existence, on “Eat Sleep Die” and starting off with the shuffling oddity of “Horsehead.”

Cosmic theremin makes its first appearance on that opening cut, but it’s not at all the last, Katla putting its sci-fi-sounding properties to work throughout, adding further depth to a sonic meld that showcases not only a sense of breadth, but also one of cohesion in style and execution. That is, Embryo‘s tracks aren’t haphazard in approach and the flow that Katla create between them isn’t to be understated. From the patient opening of “Horsehead” as it moves into the build and launch of “Endless Journey,” it is a record steeped in vibe and born of a musical tradition that, by its very nature, must expand in the way it does here.

The theremin comes back into play on “Endless Journey” and the tone is in some ways set for the course of the album, but by no means are Katla finished with their demonstration. Interestingly, Embryo was recorded in 2014, the Stockholm-based outfit working with Silence Records studio in Värmland before finishing and going on hiatus for a time owing to geographic concerns (i.e. somebody moved).

That probably puts them at some distance from these tracks by now, but Embryo, while of course playing toward an identity based on classic forms, sounds no “older” than it’s intended to, and as the band pushes through the end of “Eat Sleep Die” and into the psychedelically meandering open of the seven-minute title-track — also presumably the closer of side A — the guitars and toms setting a mood from which a fluid build takes hold, the amorphous feel of their identity thus far is anything but staid.

katla

“Embryo” is a standout on the album that bears its name, nodding at psychedelic folk even as it pulls together some significant momentum going into its back end, remaining patient as it cuts to quiet just before the five-minute mark then with keys and voice included casting forth a heavy psych push that becomes a satisfying wash of cymbals and noise. That apex for the first half of Embryo fits well, but cuts out and they actually finish side A on a note of subdued ambience, leading to side B opener and tracklist centerpiece “I’m Your Queen,” the lone opening guitar of which seems to land with that much more impact for the wildness preceding.

For those listening on a linear format — digital or CD — the immersion should be pretty well complete by the time “Embryo” has finished, so “I’m Your Queen,” which feels intentionally geared toward enhancing that with its initial repetitive guitar figure and lyrics that sound like a hypnotic spell, has no trouble diving further into the consciousness. A gradual rumble emerges, but they hold the tempo for the most part, resisting what must have been a considerable urge to take off à la “Endless Journey” and instead shifting into the mellow vibes of “Circles,” with organ adding to a spacious line of guitar over steady, calm drums and warm bass tone.

They do launch for a short orbit in the last minute or so, but hold back on the theremin for the time being, instead working it into the finish of the subsequent “Illusion,” which starts with a flourish of strings the only shame of which is that they don’t actually stick around long enough to pair with the vocals. “Illusion” boasts one of Embryo‘s most memorable hooks and brings back the strings in its second half as it locks into an instrumental movement that, when it’s over, has gone a surprising distance from where the song started.

It’s not Katla‘s first build, and as if they sensed that, the penultimate “Collision” shifts the structural focus so that an atmospheric beginning rises some in the middle and recedes again at its finish, a bookend that underscores the songwriting process at work and how purposeful this material is overall leading into the revitalized swirl of the aforementioned closer “A Black Slimy Smooth Tongueshaped Form,” which brings back the theremin of the opening salvo while taking a victory lap around a solar system of boogie.

A layered solo and theremin wash end the album just past four minutes in, somewhat sudden but fair enough to fit an LP, and Katla return their audience to solid ground with a command that undercuts the notion of Embryo being their debut. One can’t help but wonder what the last two years have brought in terms of growth in their songwriting — these songs will be old to them by now, I’m sure — but as a public introduction, their kosmiche conjuring is engaging across a span that seems like it can only keep growing.

Katla on Thee Facebooks

Katla on Soundcloud

Svart Records on Thee Facebooks

Katla at Svart Records

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