Kungens Män to Deliver Dag & Natt July 31

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 21st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

kungens man

Drifting psych-jazz improvocateurs Kungens Män are gearing up to release a new 2LP in less than two weeks’ time. The Stockholm-based explorers — amorphous in personnel and sound, as ever — were last heard from in April with the offering Tomhetens Furste, a long-playing three-tracker streaming and pressed to limited tape through Eggs in Aspic. The latest work is Dag & Natt, and it will be out on vinyl through Adansonia Records and on CD through Kungens Ljud & Bild July 31 bringing a wash of psych-kraut who-knows-what that’s sure to melt brainstems and turn them into a lysergic homebrew at will in a prevailing weirdo wash. Don’t believe me? Tomhetens Furste is streaming at the bottom of this post. Put it on and just see if there’s any getting out alive.

Info on Dag & Natt comes courtesy of the PR wire:

kungens man dag natt

Kungens Män – Dag & Natt

A soothing Aylerian saxophone wakes you up in the morning. Your head gets going by lunch, while tapping your feet to a stomping groove with free flowing guitars on top. A hard driving krautrock song takes you through the evening. The veiled night enters in nuances of black. After the nightmarish turns inside your most hidden parts of the mind, a motorik beat picks you up to make the walk back home. And then it starts over again.

This is mood music for the adventurous. At all times.

Kungens Män are back with the new double-LP ”Dag & Natt” (Day & Night) on Adansonia Records (double vinyl-LP) and Kungens Ljud & Bild (double CD) on July 31st, 2017.

Kungens Män started out in 2012 in Stockholm, Sweden, when a bunch of good friends decided to bring some instruments when hanging out. The random jam sessions became more and more regular and soon Kungens Män started recording it all, completely unfiltered and without safety nets. The music soon found its way to the internet and a buzz occurred, connecting with listeners all over the globe. From the debut show with Master Musicians Of Bukkake and onwards, every show has been a different story. Always new sounds and improvisations, different guest musicians, different happenings. Kungens Män are rooted in the psychedelic/drone rock tradition of bands such as Träd, Gräs & Stenar, but also add influences from krautrock, shoegaze, noiserock and free jazz. They will always add something new to the mix to challenge themselves and the audiences’ preconceptions about what Kungens Män are all about.

Kungens Män have played at festivals such as The Psychedelic Network Festival (Würzburg, DE), PsyKA Festival (Karlsruhe, DE) and The Copenhagen Psych Fest (DK) and played with bands like Øresund Space Collective, Master Musicians of Bukkake, Yuri Gagarin, Spelljammer, The Spacelords and Radar Men From The Moon. They toured Europe in 2015 and 2016. In August 2017 they are invited by Mani Neumaier to play at the Guru Guru festival, Finki Open Air, along with acts such as Arthur Brown, The Pretty Things and of course, Guru Guru.

The first vinyl-LP “Förnekaren” by Kungens Män was released by the German label Adansonia Records in 2015, and was a success with critics and fans alike. The next double-LP “Stockholm Maraton” came out on Adansonia Records in September 2016. The third double-LP on Adansonia – “Dag & Natt” will be released on July 31st, 2017.

kungensman.bandcamp.com
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https://www.adansoniarecords.de/
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Kungens Män, Tomhetens Furste (2017)

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Then and Now: Lowrider, Ode to Io & Ode to Io Deluxe Edition (Plus Exclusive Mix Premiere)

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on July 20th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

lowrider ode to io deluxe edition

LOWRIDER ODE TO IO

[Click play above to stream an exclusive A / B mix of Lowrider’s ‘Shivaree’ illustrating the differences between the original version and the remaster. Ode to Io Deluxe Edition‘s limited second pressing is available now to preorder.]

Let’s get all the clichés out of the way. Lowrider‘s Ode to Io is an absolute landmark. It is essential. Quite possibly the best desert-style rock record not to come from the actual Californian desert. There’s a lot of competition out there, granted — it’s a big planet — but almost nobody bought into post-Kyuss riffing with the depth, clarity of purpose, energy and songwriting that the Stockholm four-piece of bassist/vocalist Peder Bergstrand, guitarists Ola Hellqvist (lead and also vocals) and Niclas Stålfors and drummer Andreas Eriksson brought to their 2000 full-length debut. And while it arrived years after the likes of DozerNatas and Abramis Brama released their own first outings, at very least, Ode to Io (also discussed here) stands among the most essential heavy rock albums of the pre-social-media era, its 10 tracks originally issued by MeteorCity and at a time when what has become a worldwide heavy underground fanbase was still just taking its basic shape.

German imprint I Used to Fuck People Like You in Prison Records did an original vinyl pressing of Ode to Io to coincide with the MeteorCity CD, and if one is willing to pay secondary market prices, it’s still available, but in celebration of the band’s 20th anniversary, Lowrider has compiled a 2LP Ode to Io Deluxe Edition with additional tracks culled from their prior 1998 Double EP split with Nebula (discussed here), “Lameneshma” from 1997’s shared 7″ with countrymen rockers Sparzanza (discussed here), and the curio “David Williams Hughes” from MeteorCity‘s soundtrack to the independent film I am Vengeance. There are other demos and alternate versions floating around out there of some of their material, but it’s about as close to a complete-discography offering as Lowrider are going to get, and with the original mix by Eriksson and remaster by Thomas Eberger, they’ve never sounded fuller or more vibrant than they do on this vinyl. Deluxe Edition indeed.

Ode to Io original LP:

The original People Like You LP is honored in the fact that both platters on the new version have a similar transparent haze pattern, but the difference between the two is represented on multiple levels by the shift in tone of the artwork from silver (or grey, as it were) to gold. Ode to Io Deluxe Edition is a more-than-deserved revisit that doesn’t simply make the songs louder, but actually pays attention to the nuances in the mix of cuts like “Saguaro” — the pattern of starts and stops there is preserved with a breadth that only adds to the impact of both — and from the very launch of opener “Caravan,” the labor-of-love aspect in its construction is clear. Lowrider, who to-date have never issued a sophomore album to back Ode to Io, very obviously know they created something special 17 years ago, and while I refuse to take away from the appeal of the original LP’s rawness in conveying the youthful vigor of their performance — they were basically kids when the album was made; the youngest of them 17 and the oldest 26 — their efforts in updating the total 16 included tracks feel most of all like a thank-you to the audience that has kept Ode to Io relevant as more than a decade and a half has gone by.

Yes, songs like “Flat Earth” and “Anchor” hit harder, and the lower end of Bergstrand‘s bass and the guitars of Stålfors and Hellqvist is more forward than it was on 2000’s Ode to Io, but the attention to detail from Eriksson goes further. The spaciousness of “Texas Pt. 1 & 2” and the closing title-track is given righteous emphasis, and without making any single element overwhelming in relation to the others, Eriksson has bolstered the overarching impression of cuts like “Convoy V,” the ultra-fuzzed “Riding Shotgun” and “Dust Settlin’,” so that even his own snare hits feel warmer and clearer, giving up none of the attitude or the laid back vibes that punctuate even the heaviest, most active moments of the album. Plain and simple (and cliché): he nailed it. One doesn’t imagine Lowrider would put out Ode to Io Deluxe Edition if the situation were otherwise — they’re marking 20 years as a band but it’s not like they’re under contractual obligation; it’s a self-release — but still, as a fan, it’s especially satisfying to put the original Ode to Io and this new one side-by-side and see and hear on every level a rare instance of a heavy rock classic getting its long-overdue due.

It’s worth noting that while the running order is the same through Ode to Io itself, the split in sides has changed, and where the acoustic interlude “Sun Devil” led into “Anchor” to round out the LP’s first half, leaving “Texas Pt. 1 & 2,” “Riding Shotgun,” “Saguaro” and “Ode to Io” to close, Ode to Io Deluxe Edition shifts “Saguaro” and “Ode to Io” to side C, pairing them with “The Gnome, the Serpent, the Sun” and “David William Hughes.” Aside from the sound of the songs themselves (which is significant, make no mistake), it’s the biggest difference between the 2000 and the 2017 Ode to Ios, though the cowbell-laden fuzz nod and last crashes of “Riding Shotgun” hold their own as a finisher for side B without any trouble. The seeming intention would be to tie the album-proper directly with the bonus material, creating one entirety across the drifting end of “Ode to Io” into the opening riff of “The Gnome, the Serpent, the Sun” despite different recording sounds and an earlier overall take as was featured on the Nebula split.

Ode to Io Deluxe Edition:

Groove is groove, however, and in light of that, “The Gnome, the Serpent, the Sun” flows easily from the preceding cut and into “David William Hughes,” which tops a rhythmic push with spoken vocals before a long fadeout, leaving “Lameneshma,” “Shivaree,” “Ol’ Mule Pepe” and “Upon the Dune” as a particularly resonant side D. True, the material is formative compared to what would arrive a couple years later on Ode to Io, but from the hook proffered by “Lameneshma” to the improvised-sounding desert meandering of “Upon the Dune,” Lowrider efficiently showcase the breadth that was in even the earliest of their works and reinforce the to-be-treasured nature of the release as a whole. Deluxe Edition could have just as easily been called “collectors edition” given its compilation-type feel, but in being comprehensive in bringing Lowrider‘s songs together in one outing, the 2LP underscores the value and as-yet-timeless quality of what the band were able to accomplish in the studio.

Nearly half a decade has passed since they first reunited to play Desertfest London 2013 (review here) and they’ve threatened a new release basically ever since as they’ve continued to make appearances at HellfestDesertfest Berlin, Lake on FireUp in Smoke, Stoned from the Underground, etc., and they’ve stated that the proceeds from this vinyl will go toward future recordings, but whether Lowrider will actually issue a follow-up to Ode to Io remains to be seen. Serving perhaps as a preview of the tonal breadth and clarity of approach they might manifest across a new batch of songs, however, Ode to Io Deluxe Edition provides yet another level of encouragement. If the one is a step along the path to the other, it’s a step an entire new generation of listeners seems ready to take. Recommended.

Lowrider, Ode to Io Deluxe Edition (2017)

Lowrider on Bandcamp

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Lowrider webstore

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Friday Full-Length: November, En Ny Tid Är Här…

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 16th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

November, En Ny Tid Är Här… (1970)

Eons from now, when rock archaeologists — rockaeologists? — unearth the ruins of our civilization in search of righteous tunes, some lucky muck will dust off a copy of November‘s 1970 debut, En Ny Tid Är Här…, and wind up crediting them with inventing heavy groove itself. They didn’t, of course, but there’s little doubt the Stockholm outfit were ahead of the curve in the post-hippie, post-psych movement of what was coming next in guitar-led fare. Informed by the blues much as were Cream, Sabbath, Hendrix, Zeppelin and Purple before them, November nonetheless preceded an entire wave of bands in taking the rock-via-blues licks and beefing them up with significant thrust of tone and rhythmic nod, so that songs like “En Annan Värld” and “Sekunder (Fövandlas Till År)” didn’t just shuffle, they nodded. Bands like Atomic Rooster and Bloodrock were still about a year off from figuring this out, but soon enough there would be an explosion of heavy rock and roll in their wake, and November — who released En Ny Tid Är Här… in the summer of ’70 with leadoff track “Mount Everest” as a single — seem to have got in just under the wire as an early adopter of the style.

Maybe that’s no less a narrative than someone saying they invented the whole thing, but at least it’s more realistic. November formed in 1969 with the lineup of bassist/vocalist Christer Stålbrandt, drummer/vocalist Björn Inge and guitarist Rickard Rolf, coming together around various other incarnations from Stålbrandt and Inge, and during their time together, they’d offer three full-lengths, gradually becoming more progressive over time. One might then think of the bounce in “Varje Gång Jag Ser Dej Känns Det Lika Skönt” as formative, but if that’s the case, the freshness of its energy remains steady even these 47 years later. Ditto that for the stomping “Gröna Blad,” which seems in direct conversation instrumentally with Leaf Hound‘s “Growers of Mushroom” — until one considers that it would be another year before that track and album surfaced from the British band. In terms of that conversation, however, it’s worth noting the use by November of Swedish-language lyrics and titles throughout the record. The notion of mass-marketing a project through the adoption of singing in English is something bands still grapple with, and while November are certainly well remembered thanks in part to reissues of En Ny Tid Är Här… both legitimate and bootleg, one can’t help but wonder if their legend would be even more widespread if they’d called the album A New Time is Here… instead.

Whatever the rockaeologists ultimately decide on that one, En Ny Tid Är Här… stands among the stronger offerings of its era in English or any language. In 1971, it would be followed by 2:a November and in 1972 by 6:e November, rounding out a trilogy of releases after which the group had run its course, members moving on to different projects in progressive rock and jazz. They’d get back together in the early ’90s and release a live album in 1993 via Mellotronen Records that was recorded in 1971, and have played periodic reunion shows since 2007, but they have remained underrated even among their entirely underrated epoch, and particularly En Ny Tid Är Här… seems ripe for a revisit, whether that’s through a deluxe vinyl reissue, new album from the band, whatever it might be. Some stuff is just too good to leave alone.

As always, I hope you enjoy. Thanks for listening and reading.

final fantasy viii bannerWell, today’s it. My last day at work. For the last year, I’ve been employed on a contract basis for Hasbro and that contract has expired. I was hoping said contract would get picked up for full-time employment, but I suck and am awful at everything and am too weird and off-putting as a human being for that to happen, apparently. People here have been nice enough about it, but yeah. I pretty much blew this one. Story of my professional life, to some degree or other.

On the right is a picture of one of my few cubicle decorations: a wall scroll for Final Fantasy VIII that I bought at the comic book store Pegasus Enterprises in Boonton, NJ (since closed), around the time the game came out. I was in high school, working at KB Toys #1051 in Morris Plains, and I also bought myself a new television for the sole purpose of playing that game on it. I still like Final Fantasy IV best of the bunch — VI or VII are the wider consensus picks; they’re both great — but VIII was a special time. 1999 had its ups and downs, I suppose.

Anyway, I don’t get to hang that thing up at home, so after I took that picture I rolled it up and it’s in the closet upstairs at home, already tucked away until who knows when. Bye Hasbro. The last thing to be taken out of the cube was the box of protein bars that I’ve been rotating through for lunch for the last however long and my water bottle. I met my replacement yesterday and I’m sure she’ll be better at this job than I was. I don’t know if she runs a music blog on the side. Somehow it didn’t come up. Ha.

If you know of anyone who needs a freelance editor or writer, I’m available.

Just not really for the next two weeks. Starting today, The Patient Mrs. (and thus the Pecan), the Little Dog Dio and I are hitting the road. The trajectory is Maryland this weekend for a family wedding. That’s Saturday. Sunday, we (minus the dog) are going to an Orioles game, and hanging out on Monday before heading to North Carolina on Tuesday to see my father. In North Carolina from Tuesday through Thursday, then back north. Stopping in Maryland again for Thursday night because seven hours of driving is enough for one day. Might hang in MD for the early part of Friday, but it’s really just a stop-over (I do feel guilty for missing Maryland Doom Fest), because up in Jersey my family will be celebrating my grandmother’s 102nd birthday. She’s the oldest lady. Very old. So you show up. That’s what you do. After that, next Saturday, we’ll hang out in NJ and see friends, then bring my mother back north probably to CT for the night and then eventually back up to Massachusetts to spend a week hanging out and doing baby-prep stuff.

It’s a lot of trip, but I’m looking forward to it. I haven’t been to New Jersey since Xmas and there’s a part of me that I suspect will always think of it as home, so yeah. Will be tiring, but good. I enjoy writing on the road as well and hope to hit a record shop or two along the way.

And in the meantime, the notes for next week are of course packed. Here’s what’s in store, subject to change:

Mon.: Mouth album stream/review; Skraeckoedlan announcement/video debut.
Tue.: Abronia album stream/review; new Sons of Morpheus video.
Wed.: Serpents of Secrecy track(s) premiere; Pyreship video premiere.
Thu.: Streaming the Burnout split from Tee Pee Records; Six Dumb Questions with Esben from Monolord.
Fri.: Greenbeard album stream/review.

Like I said. Jammed. The week after was supposed to be the Quarterly Review, but I’ve decided to push it back to the week after. That’s the 4th of July here in the States, but whatever. Maybe I’ll make that day all European bands or something just for fun. Most of that is planned out, but I figure with being on the road and the above-noted posts, plus any of a given day’s news that comes along, I’ll have plenty enough happening without worrying about gathering images and putting together the back end of those posts — let alone writing them — which is always time consuming.

But anyway, adventure begins. I hope you have a great and safe weekend. If you’re on the I-95 or I-81 corridors, I’ll see you there, and if you know of any record stores I should hit in Asheville, North Carolina, please let me know, as I’m thinking we might make a quick run over that way in the middle of next week, since I have fond memories of when I was there in 2009.

And while I’m asking for favors, please check out the forum and radio stream. Thanks for reading and listening.

The Obelisk Forum

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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.

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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/
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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.

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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)

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