Siena Root Post Video for “Root Rock Pioneers”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 30th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

siena root

Of all the albums I didn’t get to hear last year, I think Siena Root hurt the most. There were enough that I could have made a list — one only has so many ears and so much time — but I loved 2009’s Different Realities (discussed here) and did a track stream for the subsequent Root Jam in 2011, and when it came to the release of Pioneers in Nov. 2014 (Cleopatra Records in the US, Gaphals in Europe), I didn’t even know of its existence until after the album was released, and even then it was in some random Facebook post. What a bummer.

“Root Rock Pioneers” is the third video from that record, and in watching and listening, I think you can see why I might be down about missing the boat on the album, what with Siena Root‘s ultra-loose, natural vibe, taking the best parts of heavy rock and ’70s prog and putting them together in a way that both moves easily and demands audience attention. If they’ve created a genre for themselves — one assumes it’s “root rock” instead of “roots rock,” which already exists — they make a good case with the track for their distinction, their organic engagement departs some of the raga-inspired pastoralism of Different Realities in favor of a more rock-band-playing-rock approach that’s well suited to both the stage footage and the psychedelic visuals of the video for “Root Rock Pioneers,” which, true to form, gets a lot done in a little over four minutes.

Siena Root are on tour in Europe this March, and of course Pioneers is available now. It was Gaphals who sent along word of the clip and the tour (credit where it’s due), and you’ll find the PR wire pertinents after the video below. Please enjoy:

Siena Root, “Root Rock Pioneers” official video

Siena Root Root Rock Pioneers video out now!

The third video from Siena Root´s – Pioneers album is a psychadelic journey through Root Rock Land and it captures the bands intense live shows. The band will hit mainland Europe in March 2015 in support of their newly released and highly acclaimed “Pioneers” album.

Root Rock Pioneers is taken from Siena Roots album Pioneers released by Gaphals.
LP/CD: http://smarturl.it/2lmuam
Itunes: http://smarturl.it/t6o06m
Spotify: http://smarturl.it/1bmjti

Produced by Siena Root & Sascha Steinbach
Visuals by Maria Puentes Campos
Live footage by Macabre Pariah Productions
Editing by Sascha Steinbach
Words & music by Siena Root

“Pioneers” European Tour 2015
04.03.2015 – DE Rostock, Mau Club
05.03.2015 – DE Hannover, Mephisto
06.03.2015 – DE Jena, Kulturbahnhof
07.03.2015 – DE Berlin, Bassy Cowboy Club
08.03.2015 – DE Dresden, Beatpol
09.03.2015 – AT Wien, Arena
11.03.2015 – IT Padova, Circolo Mame
12.03.2015 – IT Milano, Lo-Fi
13.03.2015 – DE Esslingen, Hell Over Esslingen
14.03.2015 – DE Frankfurt/M., Das Bett
17.03.2015 – ES Donosti, Dabadaba
18.03.2015 – ES Zaragoza, La Ley Seca
19.03.2015 – ES Gijon, Sala Acapulco
21.03.2015 – ES Burgos, Estudio 27
22.03.2015 – ES Barcelona, Rocksound
23.03.2015 – FR Chambery, Brin De Zinc
24.03.2015 – CH Zürich, Kinski
25.03.2015 – DE Fürth, Kofferfabrik
26.03.2015 – DE Köln, Yard Club
27.03.2015 – BE Leuven, Sojo
28.03.2015 – DE Osnabrück, Westwerk

Other livedates:
05.06.2015 – DE Netphen, Freak Valley Festival
06.06.2015 – DE Dornstadt, Wudzog Open Air
02.08.2015 – DE Breitenbach, Burg Herzberg Festival

Siena Root is one of the most original bands in the European rock scene. The Swedish band is now releasing their fifth studio album, “Pioneers”. With over 25.000 albums sold and over four hundred packed shows performed, Siena Root is once again back from the studio with eight new tracks of pure root rock. The album is released 3th of November the Nordic Countrys, Belgium and Holland, Italy, Polen, Czech Rep, Ukraine and 7th of November in Germany, Switzerland and Austria.

The record ”Pioneers” is characterized by a tasteful combination of genuine songwriting and captivating improvisations, enjoyable for anyone who wants music to be “well done”. In the spirit of keeping it real, all eight tracks are a hundred percent analog-produced, using all-vintage instruments and equipment. The music itself will remind listeners of the great rock era, yet putting a new perspective on the retrospect. Regardless if you like classic rock hits, trippy psychedelia or swinging blues, ”Pioneers” by Siena Root will be one of your favorite records!

Siena Root is well known for their variety of appearances, with many great guest artists, broad musical range and different interpretations of rock music. The various shapes of Siena Root over time can be heard on the previous albums, which each has its own unique line up.

Siena Root on Thee Facebooks

Siena Root website

Gaphals website

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Last Licks 2014: The Re-Stoned, Anthroprophh, Lavagoat, Ketch, Eternal Khan, Mount Carmel, Pocket Size, Zoltan, The Garza, Dot Legacy

Posted in Reviews on January 2nd, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

Yesterday was pretty rough. Some excellent stuff in that batch of 10 discs, but man, by the end of it I don’t mind telling you I was dragging more than a bit of ass. I guess that’s to be expected. Still, I think that, as a project, this was worthwhile. There was a lot of stuff — too much — sitting around that was going to go undiscussed coming out of 2014, and now here we are, it’s the New Year, and I feel like at least a small percentage of what came my way got its due. Small victories.

So this is it. Reviews 41-50. After this, there isn’t much from 2014 that I’ll be looking back on; it’s mostly stuff to come, which is a different matter entirely. I’m sure we won’t be out of Jan. before I’m behind again in a major way, but what the hell, at least I’m trying, and at least there’s 50 discs that showed up on my desk that can be put on the shelf instead. Yes, it’s a very complex filing system. Ask me sometime and I’ll tell you all about it. Until then, let’s finish it like the final battle from Highlander. There can be only… 10… more…?

Okay maybe not.

Thanks for reading.

The Re-Stoned, Totems

the re-stoned totems

Helmed since 2008 by the multifaceted Ilya Lipkin, Moscow mostly-instrumentalists The Re-Stoned release their fourth album in the form of Totems on R.A.I.G., a 58-minute wide-breadth journey into heavy rock groove with touches of psychedelia, plotted jazz-jamming and a raw tonal sensibility. Wo Fat guitarist/vocalist Kent Stump contributes a noteworthy solo to “Old Times,” and along with bassist Alexander Romanov, Lipkin (who himself handles the artwork design, guitar, bass, shaman drum, jew’s harp, mandala and some voice work) employs a guest drummer, percussionist and didgeridoo player, so there’s a measure of variety to the proceedings, be it the jerky pauses in “Shaman” or the earlier effects-laden exploration of “Chakras.” “Old Times” has a bit of funk to it even before Stump’s arrival, and the acoustics of “Melting Stones,” which follows, border on cowboy Americana. They’ve never had the most vibrant production, but The Re-Stoned manage to convey a natural feel and confidence as they progress, the creative growth of Lipkin always at the center of what they do.

The Re-Stoned on Thee Facebooks

R.A.I.G.

Anthroprophh, Outside the Circle

anthroprophh outside the circle

For his second album under the moniker Anthroprophh, guitarist/vocalist Paul Allen (also of The Heads) brings in a rhythm section to aid him in his time-to-get-really-weird purposes. Thus, bassist Gareth Turner and drummer Jesse Webb, who together form the duo Big Naturals, add to the strangeness of songs like “2013 and She Told Me I was Die” on Anthroprophh’s Outside the Circle, a 45-minute excursion into warped sensibilities and things meant to go awry. Songs are made to be broken, and that happens with drones, sudden shifts in atmosphere, some smooth transitions, some jagged, all designed to transport and ignite stagnation. It does not get any less bizarre as Outside the Circle moves toward its nine-minute title-track, but one doesn’t imagine Allen would have it any other way, and one wouldn’t have it any other way from him. I call a fair amount of music adventurous for deviating from the norm. Anthroprophh makes most of that sound silly in comparison with its buzzsaw guitar and raw experimental display.

Anthroprophh on Thee Facebooks

Rocket Recordings

Lavagoat, Weird Menace

lavagoat weird menace

Saskatoon four-piece Lavagoat continue to challenge themselves even as they bludgeon eardrums. Their single-track CD EP, Weird Menace, pulls together six individual songs recorded mostly live in their rehearsal space with a purposeful drive toward rawness and a horror thematic. Sure enough, where their 2012 LP, Monoliths of Mars (review here) and 2010 self-titled debut (review here) offered increasing stylistic complexity, Weird Menace steps forward atmospherically by pulling back on the production value. Murky screams permeate “Ectoplasm” only to be immediately offset by the low growls and deathly groove of “Creature from the Black Lagoon,” presented as nasty as possible. There are still some touches of flourish in the guitar – one can’t completely cast off a creative development, even when trying really, really hard – but to call Weird Menace’s regressive experimentalism anything but a success would be undervaluing the turn they’ve made and how smoothly they’ve made it. Note: a follow-up LP, Ageless Nonsense (actually recorded earlier than this EP), has already been released.

Lavagoat on Thee Facebooks

Lavagoat on Bandcamp

Ketch, Ketch

ketch ketch

Limited to 50 CD copies and presented in an oversize sleeve, soon-to-be-picked-up-by-somebody Colorado five-piece Ketch’s self-titled debut demo/EP is death-doom brutal and doom-death grooving. Vocalist Zach Salmans and guitarist Clay Cushman (who also recorded) trade off growls and screams over plus-sized, malevolent riffs and guitarist Jeremy Winters, bassist Dave Borrusch and drummer David Csicsely (also of The Flight of Sleipnir) only add to the pummel, which hits a particularly vicious moment in the grueling second half of “Counting Sunsets,” a dirge of low growls giving way to churning, nodding despair. Beginning with 9:18 longest cut “Shimmering Lights” (immediate points), Ketch deliver a precision extremity that even on this initial offering makes its villainous intent plain with volume and overarching drear. The midsection stomp of “Chemical Despondency” and the gurgle in closer “13 Coils” affirm that Ketch have found their stylistic niche and are ready to begin developing their sound from it. One looks forward to the growth of this already maddening approach. Bonus points for no obvious Lovecraft references.

Ketch on Thee Facebooks

Ketch on Bandcamp

Eternal Khan, A Poisoned Psalm

eternal khan a poisoned psalm

Somewhere between death, black and doom metals, one finds Rhode Island three-piece Eternal Khan exploring cosmic, existential, literary and mythological themes on their self-released debut full-length, A Poisoned Psalm, the jewel case edition of which includes both lyrics and liner note explanations of each of its seven tracks. It’s an ambitious take from a trio who seem destined at some point to write a concept album – maybe based on Faust, maybe not – but the actual songs live up to the lofty presentation, be it the suitable gallop of “Raging Host,” despondent push of centerpiece “The Tower” or double-kick bleakness of “Void of Light and Reconciliation.” Guitarist/vocalist N. Wood, guitarist T. Phrathep and drummer D. Murphy mash their various styles well, but there’s room to grow here too, and I’d wonder how “The Black Stork” might work with an element of drone brought into the mix to add to the atmosphere and provide contrast to the various sides of Eternal Khan’s extremity. Even without, A Poisoned Psalm serves vigorous notice.

Eternal Khan on Thee Facebooks

Eternal Khan on Bandcamp

Mount Carmel, Get Pure

mount carmel get pure

Rife with ‘70s swagger and easy-rolling blues grooves, Get Pure is the third record from Columbus, Ohio trio Mount Carmel, and it goes down as smooth as one could ask, the guitar work of Matthew Reed, bass of his brother, Patrick Reed (since out of the band and replaced by Nick Tolford) and drums of James McCain meshing with a natural, classic power trio dynamic only furthered by the vocals, as laid back as Leaf Hound but with an underlying bluesiness on cuts like “One More Morning” and “No Pot to Piss.” At 11 tracks and a vinyl-minded 35 minutes, neither the album as a whole nor its component tracks overstay their welcome, and late pushers like “Hangin’ On” and “Fear Me Now” leave the listener wanting more while closer “Yeah You Mama” bookends with opener “Gold” in hey-baby-ism and irrefutable rhythmic swing. Comfortable in its mid-pace boogie, Get Pure offers a party vibe without being needlessly raucous, and its laid back mood becomes one of its greatest assets.

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Alive Naturalsound

Pocket Size, Exposed Undercurrents

pocket size exposed undercurrents

One could hardly accuse Stockholm classic proggers Pocket Size of living up to their name on Exposed Undercurrents, their second album. Even putting aside the expansive fullness of their sound itself, there are nine people in the lineup. It would have to be some pocket. The group is led by guitarist Peder Pedersen, whose own contributions are met by arrangements of saxophone, Hammond B-3, flute, theremin and so on as the 11 tracks of Exposed Undercurrents play off intricately-conceived purposes to engaging ends. One is reminded some of Hypnos 69’s takes on elder King Crimson, but Pocket Size have less of a heavy rock stylistic base and are more purely prog. A clean production – this is clearly a band that wants you to hear everything happening at any given moment – serves the 54-minute offering well, and though it’s by no means free of indulgence, Exposed Undercurrents is imaginative in both the paths it follows and those it creates, the joy of craftsmanship clearly at the core of its process.

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Pocket Size website

Zoltan, Sixty Minute Zoom

zoltan sixty minute zoom

Though it’s actually only about 41 minutes, I doubt if Zoltan’s Sixty Minute Zoom would benefit from the extra time in terms of getting its point across. The instrumental London trio of keyboardist Andy Thompson, bassist/keyboardist Matt Thompson and drummer/keyboardist Andrew Prestidge revel in ‘70s synth soundtrack stylizations. For good measure I’ll name-check Goblin as a central influence on “Uzumaki,” the second of Sixty Minute Zoom’s five inclusions, but John Carpenter’s clearly had a hand as well in brazenly cinematic texturing of synth and the late-‘70s/early-‘80s vibe. The various washes culminate in the side B-consuming 21-minute stretch of “The Integral,” which is broken into separate movements but flows smoothly between them, pulsations and drones interweaving for a classic atmosphere of tension and balance of the chemistry between the Thompsons and Prestidge and the progressive, immersive sound they create. Fans of earlier Zombi will find much to chew on, but Zoltan dive even further into soundtrack-style ambience. All that’s missing is Lori Cardille running down a dimly lit hallway.

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Cineploit Records

The Garza, The Garza

the garza the garza

Offered as a nine-track full-length plus a four-song bonus EP, the self-titled debut from Madison, Wisconsin’s The Garza meters out noise rock punishment with sludgy ferocity. A trio of notable pedigree – drummer/vocalist Magma (Bongzilla, Aquilonian), guitarist Shawn Blackler (Brainerd, Striking Irwin), and bassist Nate Bush (ex-Droids Attack, ex-Bongzilla) – they fluidly pull together post-hardcore elements and Crowbar-esque turns while retaining a core of punk rock. “Rage” is a solid example of this, but it’s true of just about all of the album proper, which largely holds to its approach, adding some melody to the seven-minute pre-bonus-tracks closer “Kingdoms End” and varying tempo here and there around its destructive central ideology. The four bonus tracks are of a similar mind as well, Magma switching up his vocals every now and then to add variety to proceedings that otherwise prove vehemently assured of their position. I’m not sure if the extra cuts help reinforce the album’s rawness or detract from the closer, but The Garza aren’t exactly light on impact either way.

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The Garza on Bandcamp

Dot Legacy, Dot Legacy

dot legacy dot legacy

Dot Legacy’s self-titled Setalight Records debut, particularly for a green-backed CD with vinyl-style grooves on front, is not nearly as stoned as one might think. The Parisian foursome of Damien Quintard (vocals/bass/recording), Arnaud Merckling (guitar/keys/vocals), John Defontaine (guitar/vocals) and Romain Mottier (drums/vocals) employ a broad range on the 46-minute album’s nine tracks, from the shoegaze post-rock of “The Passage” to the driving heavy psych of “Gorilla Train Station,” all the while holding firm to a creative reasoning geared toward individuality. If they wound up adopting “The Midnight Weirdos” as a nom de guerre, I wouldn’t be surprised, but in fact there’s little sense that at any point Dot Legacy aren’t in full command of where their material is headed. All the better for the surprising opening duo of “Kennedy” and “Think of a Name,” which shift between reverb-soaked meditation and vibrant, hook-laden heavy rock. A fascinating and original-ish debut that could be the start of something special. They should hit the festival circuit hard and not look back.

Dot Legacy on Thee Facebooks

Setalight Records

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Last Licks 2014: Nate Hall, Nocturnal Poisoning, Snailking, Godmaker, Void Generator, The Mound Builders, Mother Kasabian, Deep Space Destructors, Underdogs and Human Services

Posted in Reviews on December 30th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Happy to report that I survived the first day of this project. Spirits are good and I look at the stack of discs (plus one book; we’ll get there) in front of me and feel relatively confident that by the time I’m through it, my cerebral cortex will still manage to function in the limited way it usually does. If yesterday’s installment is anything to go by, however, I’ll be well out of adjectives by then. What’s another word for “heavy?”

There’s only one way to find out. These will be reviews 11-20 of the total 50. I don’t know if they say the first 10 are the hardest or the last, but I’ll be in the thick of it when this is posted and while I’m sure I probably could turn back and catch minimal if any flack for it — one “Hey wha happen?” on Thee Facebooks seems likely penance — better to just keep going. Another stack awaits tomorrow, after all.

Thanks in advance to anyone reading:

Nate Hall, Electric Vacuum Roar

nate hall electric vacuum roar

Electric Vacuum Roar is one of two Nate Hall physical releases from this fall. The U.S. Christmas frontman and solo performer also has a few digital odds and ends and Fear of Falling, on which he partners with a rhythm section. Released by Heart and Crossbone Records and Domestic Genocide, Electric Vacuum Roar is closer to a solo affair. Hall is joined by Caustic Resin’s Brett Netson on guitar/bass on two extended tracks: “Dance of the Prophet” (16:46) and “Long Howling Decline/People Fall Down” (11:57). The second part of the latter is a reinterpretation of a Caustic Resin song, though here it is droned out and put through a portal of drumless and inward-looking psychedelia, turned into the finale of a communicative and intimate affair. Amp noise and effects swirl around “Dance of the Prophet,” and it’s easy to get lost in it, but Hall maintains a steady presence of obscure vocals and the result is what tribal might be if tribes were comprised of one person.

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Heart and Crossbone Records

Nocturnal Poisoning, Doomgrass

nocturnal poisoning doomgrass

I’ve never tried to break up a one-man band, but I can’t imagine Scott Conner – who helped pave the way for US black metal under the moniker Malefic in Xasthur – has had an easy time of it since he put that band to bed in 2010. Nocturnal Poisoning, whose Doomgass arrives via The End Records, is an entirely different beast. Centered around layers folkish acoustic guitar, cleanly produced backed by occasional bass and tambourine, Doomgrass is still depressive at its core – Robert N. contributes guest vocals, almost gothic in style, to songs like “Starstruck by Garbage” and “Illusion of Worth” – but if the name is a portmanteau of doom and bluegrass, it fits the style. If anything ties Nocturnal Poisoning to Xasthur aside from Conner’s involvement, it’s a focus on atmosphere, but the two ultimately have little in common otherwise, and Nocturnal Poisoning’s exploratory feel is refreshingly individualized and leaves one wondering if Conner will be able to resist the full-band-sound impulse going forward.

Nocturnal Poisoning on Thee Facebooks

Doomgrass at The End Records

Snailking, Storm

snailking storm

Though they’re decidedly post-metal in their influences – Neurosis, YOB, obviously Ufomammut for whose record they are named – Sweden’s Snailking keep to heavy rock tones on their Consouling Sounds debut full-length, Storm, and that greatly bolsters the album’s personality. Even as they lumber, the riffs of 11-minute opener “To Wander” are fuzzed-out, and that remains true throughout the five mostly-extended cuts the trio of drummer Olle Svahn, bassist Frans Levin and guitarist/vocalist Pontus Ottosson present on their first record, which follows the 2012 demo, Samsara (review here). Centerpiece “Slithering” is the shortest and most churning of the bunch at 6:32, but the particularly YOBian “Requiem” underscores another value greatly working in Storm’s favor – the patience with which Snailking present the ambience of their pieces. That will serve them well as they continue to distinguish themselves from their forebears, but for now, Storm makes a welcome opening salvo from the three-piece highlighting both their potential and how far they’ve come already since the release of their demo.

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Consouling Sounds

Godmaker, Godmaker

godmaker godmaker

The self-titled debut from thoroughly-bearded Brooklynite four-piece Godmaker arrives via Aqualamb as an art-book and download, a full 96 pages of designs, lyrics to the four included tracks of the vinyl-ready 32-minute long-player, live shots from a variety of sources, bizarre geometry and odd etchings feeding the atmosphere of the songs themselves, somewhere between sludge, thrash and aggressive noise with scream-topped moments of doom like “Shallow Points.” Comprised of guitarist/vocalists Pete Ross and Chris Strait, bassist Andrew Archey and drummer Jon Lane, Godmaker fluidly shifts between the various styles at work in their sound, whether it’s the explosion at the end of “Shallow Points” or that beginning the rush of opener “Megalith,” and while their self-titled is a dense listen, with the surprising post-hardcore take of “Desk Murder” and the check-out-this-badass-riff-now-we’re-going-to-smash-your-face-with-it 11-minute metallic closer “Faded Glory,” it efficiently satisfies. More so after a couple listens front to back. If Godmaker were breaking your bones, it would be a clean break, and yes, that’s a compliment to their attack.

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Aqualamb

Void Generator, Supersound

void generator supersound

Supersound is the first full-length from Italian heavy psych rockers Void Generator since 2010’s Phantom Hell and Soar Angelic (review here), and where that album held three extended pieces, the latest and third overall breaks into smaller pieces. Some of those are extended – opener “Behind My Door” is 8:09 and “Master of the Skies” tops nine minutes – but the bulk of Supersound’s seven tracks is shorter works somewhere between desert rock and classic psych, guitarist Gianmarco Iantaffi leading the four-piece with a  more subdued vocal approach than last time out, compressed even in the rowdier verses of “What are You Doin’” (written by Sandro Chiesa), on which the keys of Enrico Cosimi feature heavily and add to the sound too crisp to be totally retro but still vehemently organic. Bassist Sonia Caporossi (also acoustic guitar on penultimate interlude “Universal Winter”) and drummer Marco Cenci hold together the fluid grooves as Void Generator follows these varied impulses, and Supersound proves cohesive and no less broadly scoped than its predecessor.

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Phonosphera Records

The Mound Builders, Wabash War Machine

the mound builders wabash war machine

There’s a version of The Mound Builders’ 17-minute Wabash War Machine EP from Failure Records and Tapes that includes a comic book, but even the regular sleeve CD edition gives a glimpse at the Lafayette, Indiana, five-piece’s heavy Southern metal push. The middle two of the four inclusions, “Sport of Crows” and “Bar Room Queen,” surfaced earlier this year on a split tape with Bo Jackson 5 (review here), but opener “Wabash War Machine” and the sludged-up closer “The Mound” on which the guitars of Brian Boszor and “Ninja” Nate Malher phase between channels and vocalist Jim Voelz delivers his harshest performance to date, are brand new, albeit recorded at the same sessions in July 2013. “Wabash War Machine” highlights the band’s blend of southern metal and heavy groove, guitar intricacy and a gang-shout chorus meeting thick rollout from bassist Robert Ryan Strawsma and drummer Jason “Dinger” Brookhart, but it’s the finale that’s the EP’s most lasting impression, as pummeling as The Mound Builders have gotten to date.

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Failure Records and Tapes

Mother Kasabian, Mother Kasabian

mother kasabian mother kasabian

In Olof’s buzzsaw guitar tone, the thud of Karl’s drums and Gidon’s abiding vocal menace, “Strike of the Emperor” gives notice of some Celtic Frost influence, but that’s hardly the whole tale when it comes Stockholm trio Mother Kasabian’s self-titled, self-released debut EP, as “The Black Satanic Witch of Saturn” immediately calls to mind The Doors in its minimal, spacious verse and offsets this with a soulful classic heavy rock chorus en route to the seven-minute “Close of Kaddish,” which works in a similar pattern – hitting notes of Trouble-style doom in its crescendos – and offers Mother Kasabian’s widest ranging moment ahead of the swaggering closer “The Return of the Mighty King and His Cosmic Elephants.” Swinging drums and variety in Gidon’s The Crazy World of Arthur Brown-style approach give the EP a distinguished feel despite raw production and it being Mother Kasabian’s first outing, and with the psych touches in the finale and a generally unhinged vibe throughout, the trio showcase considerable potential at work.

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Mother Kasabian on Bandcamp

Deep Space Destructors, III

deep space destructors iii

Active since 2011 and with two prior full-lengths – 2012’s I (review here) and 2013’s II (review here) – under their belt, Oulu, Finland, heavy psych trio Deep Space Destructors offer their definitive stylistic statement in the wash of III, a five-song/45-minute cosmic excursion with progressive krautrock edge (see “Spaceship Earth”) driven into heavier territory through dense fuzz in guitarist Petri Lassila’s tone and the chemistry between he, vocalist/bassist Jani Pitkänen and drummer Markus Pitkänen. Their extended but plotted jammy course finds culmination in the 15-minute penultimate cut “An Ode to Indifferent Universe,” – King Crimson and Floyd laced together by synth sounds – but the space-rock thrust of closer “Ikuinen Alku” highlights the multifaceted approach Deep Space Destructors have developed since their inception, consistently psychedelic but expansive. The sides gel effectively on “Cosmic Burial,” lending modern crash and tonal heft to classic ideals to craft something new from them in admirable form. As far out as they’ve gone, Deep Space Destructors still seem to be exploring new ground.

Deep Space Destructors on Thee Facebooks

Deep Space Destructors on Bandcamp

Underdogs, Underdogs

underdogs underdogs

Released as a cooperative production between Garage Records and Go Down Records, Italian trio Underdogs’ second, self-titled LP pushes further along the straight-lined course of heavy rock their 2007 debut, Ready to Burn, and 2011’s Revolution Love (review here) charted. Songs like “Nothing but the Best” strip away the Queens of the Stone Age-style fuzz of past outings in favor of a cleaner tone and overall feel, and while that spirit shows up later on side B’s “Called Play” and the rumbling grunge of “My Favourite Game” (a cover of The Cardigans), the prevailing vibe speaks to European commercial viability with clear hooks and straightforward structures. Acoustic finale “The Closing Song” offers a last-minute shift in style, calling to mind UnderdogsDogs without Plugs digital release, but even in more barebones form, the songwriting remains the focus on this mature third offering from a three-piece who’ve clearly figured out the direction in which they want to head and have set about developing an audience-friendly sound.

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Go Down Records

Human Services, Animal Fires

human services animal fires

Since they issued their self-titled debut (review here) in 2012, Virginia’s Human Services have brought aboard Steve Kerchner of Lord, and he brings as much a sense of chaos to Animal Fires as one might expect in teaming with Jeff Liscombe, Sean Sanford, Don Piffalo and Billy Kurilko, though the 59-minute full-length isn’t without its structure. Longer songs pair with concise noise experiments throughout the first 10 of the total 13 tracks, and each is different, so that even as the gap between songs is bridged, the stylistic basis for Animal Fires is branched out. The result is that by the time “Onyedinci Yil Sürüsü” closes out the album proper before the 17-minute live inclusion “No Structures in the Eye of the Jungle” hits, Human Services have reimagined the modus of Godflesh as an extremity of organic noisemaking, Southern heavy and eerie progressivism. Shades of Neurosis show up in centerpiece “Rats of a Feather,” but they too are twisted to suit the band’s creative purposes, threatening and engagingly bleak.

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Human Services on Bandcamp

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My Brother the Wind Premiere Video for “Song of Innocence”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 3rd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

my brother the wind

On their third album, Once There was a Time When Time and Space were One, Swedish improv jammers My Brother the Wind present “Song of Innocence” as divided into two parts with a track break in between, the second piece emerging at a fairly upbeat clip — relative to some of the record’s more languid stretches, anyhow — from the first, no less a wash of echoes and tones, but moving more with a forward drum beat from Daniel Fridlund Brandt to propel the airy guitars of Nicklas Barker and Mathias Danielsson and match lockstep with Ronny Eriksson‘s bass. The transition is fluid — the whole album (review here) is like a river that carries you along its currents, some rough, some smooth — but there’s a clear break, and that’s true in the video as well.

The clip for “Song of Innocence” actually goes a long way toward explaining why the two pieces are broken up but given the same name. Footage for “Song of Innocence” was shot exactly as the material was being recorded, the version of “Song of Innoence” we hear My Brother the Wind tracking is the one that went to tape to wind up on Once There was a Time When Time and Space were One, and though one jam comes to an end after about seven minutes in (we get a piece of what became “Prologue” as well at the start), the other picks right up without any real break in between. They’re two parts of the same moment captured on the recording, and thus, they’re presented together. It’s more honest to how the session actually took place, rather than name one part “Song of Innocence” and the other something else.

We get to see the room where My Brother the Wind – who also released a Live at Roadburn 2013 live record this year — made the album, their configuration all facing each other while they played, and get a sense of how they follow each other through the jams. And of course, there’s “Song of Innocence” itself, which with its lush and instrumental feel gives an excellent sense of what to expect from Once There was a Time When Time and Space were One, driven by the chemistry between these players and the carefully woven interplay of the work they do.

“Song of Innocence” was Filmed by Eleni Liverakou Eriksson and Per Karlsson and edited by Patrik Roos. Please find the clip on the player below and enjoy:

My Brother the Wind, “Song of Innocence” official video

My Brother the Wind‘s Once There was a Time When Time and Space were One is out Oct. 14 on Free Electric Sound. Below, guitarists Nicklas Barker and Mathias Danielsson comment on the video:

Says Nicklas Barker:

“The video was recorded at the actual take of ‘Song of Innocence.’ We were happy that Eleni and Per were there during the recording and captured this for us very special song. As always, we record live onto an analog tape machine from 1969 with no overdubs and everything is improvised from scratch. The mixing was done the day after by us with some help from the great Love Tholin who is a big part of creating the sound of My Brother the Wind. I think it turned out great. Especially Mathias wonderful guitar solos and Daniel’s very unique drum playing. We are very happy with how the sound turned out on this one. The studio we record in is tricky since the sound in it differs from day to day. Probably because of all the vintage analog gear. The afternoon we recorded ‘Song of Innocence’ the tape machine, mixing console, tape echoes and plate reverbs were in perfect harmony.”

Says Mathias Danielsson:

“I wish that all of you could see what I experienced when recording this piece. Since the music is totally improvised we connect to each other on another plane. It’s hard to describe but I guess it’s almost astral. I have my eyes open but the sight isn’t the main sense I’m using while we’re playing, it’s the ears. But when concentrating so hard on what we create together I see wonderful colors and waves before my eyes. It’s almost like meditation. We connect to the core of the music and form it together with mindcraft. I’ve never before experienced it on this level with any band. Being unable to show you that, this video is the perfect visual to go with the music. This is the way it happened!”

My Brother the Wind on Thee Facebooks

Free Electric Sound

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My Brother the Wind, Once There was a Time When Time and Space were One: Gardens Growing

Posted in Reviews on October 1st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

my-brother-the-wind-once-there-was-a-time-when-time-and-space-were-one

Lush and instrumental for its duration, My Brother the Wind‘s third full-length, Once There was a Time When Time and Space were One (released by Free Electric Sound/Laser’s Edge), rolls out of the speakers much easier than its title rolls off the tongue, though both title and the work itself satisfy rhythmically. The Swedish four-piece — they now seem to be a bass-less trio with Nicklas Barker (Anekdoten) and Mathias Danielsson (Makajodama) on electric/acoustic 12-strong guitar and Daniel Fridlund Brandt on drums, but Ronny Eriksson plays bass on the album — reportedly recorded live to two-inch tape on a vintage machine, and the passion they put in bleeds readily into the nine-song/45-minute outing, fleshed with liberal splashes of Mellotron courtesy of Barker to play up a ’70s prog feel in a piece like the 12-minute “Garden of Delights.” That’s hardly the only point at which those sensibilities emerge, but even more than that, the primary vibe here is one of gorgeous heavy psych exploration, the band adventuring and feeling their way through the material as they go.

On peaceful moments like the title-track, which arrives as the penultimate movement before “Epilogue” leads the way back to reality — accordingly, “Prologue” brings us in at the start — that exploration is positively serene, the 12-string complemented by spacious electric tones spreading out across vast reaches, but Once There was a Time When Time and Space were One offers more than drone and psychedelic experiments. Subtly pushed forward by Brandt‘s drums, pieces like “Into the Cosmic Halo” and even “Epilogue” enact classic space rock thrust, and even “Song of Innocence Part 1,” the first part of the journey after the backward atmospherics of “Prologue” introduce, has some cosmic feel amid its echoing solos. Its subsequent complement, “Song of Innocence Part 2,” swells to life on an even more active roll, waves of amp noise up front while drums and bass groove out behind, waiting for the guitars to catch up, which they do in a suitably glorious payoff, relatively brief but masterfully engaging, setting a momentum that continues well into “Garden of Delights,” a focal point for more than its length.

my-brother-the-wind-(Photo-by-Eleni-Liverakou-Eriksson)

Because the songs flow so well one to the next, some directly bleeding, others giving a brief pause, and because later cuts like “Thomas Mera Gartz” — named in honor of the drummer for ’70s Swedish proggers Träd, Gräs och Stenar — and the title-track have a quieter take, it’s tempting to read some narrative into the shifts of Once There was a Time When Time and Space were One, but with the material not being premeditated, I’m not sure that’s the intention so much as a signal it’s well arranged. In any case, the album offers an immersive, resonant listen, with tonal richness to spare and the presence of mind to keep a sense of motion even in its stillest parts and a balance of organic elements — Danielsson‘s recorder and Brandt‘s percussion on “Misty Mountainside,” the 12-string, etc. — amid a wash of effects and swirling psychedelia. This attention to sonic detail makes Once There was a Time When Time and Space were One more than just a collection of jams, and adds further purpose to the already worthy cause of My Brother the Wind‘s thoughtful musings, wandering and not at all lost.

My Brother the Wind, Once There was a Time When Time and Space were One album trailer

My Brother the Wind on Thee Facebooks

My Brother the Wind at Laser’s Edge Group webstore

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On Wax: Dean Allen Foyd, Sunshine Song 7″

Posted in On Wax on August 29th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

dean allen foyd sunshine song

Add up all the various limited editions — 50 on purple vinyl, 50 green, 100 purple/gold marble, 120 black, 30 gold/black marble — and Swedish psych traditionalists Dean Allen Foyd‘s new single on H42 Records is still pretty limited with just 350 copies pressed. Some versions are exclusive to different mailorders, and the Australian edition (the gold/black marble) has tweaked cover art, but at the heart of Sunshine Song b/w Devil’s Path are the two songs themselves, and from whatever color platter they might emanate, they find the Stockholm four-piece proffering a charming blend of garage-pop-rock boogie and heavy psychedelic dean allen foyd sunshine songflourish. Comprised here of guitarist/vocalist Francis Rencoret, bassist Fredrik Cronsten, drummer/vocalist Wille Alin and organist/vocalist Erik “Errka” Petersson, as well as guest spots on guitar and a string quartet, Dean Allen Foyd seem most geared to the beginning moments of the psychedelic era — the heavy that was pre-heavy; more Beefheart than Leaf Hound — and it’s an aesthetic they convey naturally, having honed their craft across two full-lengths to date, 2012’s The Sounds Can be So Cruel and 2013’s Road to Atlas, both on Crusher Records.

“Sunshine Song” is a fittingly classic A-side, both in its construction and its sound. It moves and grooves over a solid rhythmic foundation bolstered by added percussion and tosses out hooks in its verse and chorus given all the more flair via tambourine and the freakout waiting to surface. Dean Allen Foyd never go full-force into the jam, but neither would I call them restrained on “Sunshine Song.” They keep a 1967/1968-style pop sensibility to the first half of the single, if one meatier in its tonality, but still come across less stylistically retro than, say, Germany’s Vibravoid, for whom color-tinted glasses and striped pants seem to be a religion. Nothing against that, and it’s worth noting that Dean Allen Foyd and H42 released Sunshine Song to coincide with thesunshine song dean allen foyd anniversary of Syd Barrett‘s death, but there’s still something inescapably modern about their approach, and all the more on “Devil’s Path,” which even as it seems to be nodding at The Doobie Brothers‘ “Long Train Running” does so with guitar tone thicker than one finds from most “vintage”-minded acts, classic though the handclap timekeeping and direction of the song itself might be, leads swelling and receding in the background of the chorus before taking the fore about halfway through underscored by a bassline worthy of being higher in the mix than it is.

Both sides of Sunshine Song seem to be working in a building structure, but the apex of “Devil’s Path” comes across clearer than “Sunshine Song” itself, though a fadeout and the constraint of the format invariably cut short what was a continuing progression. I’d be interested to hear the longer dean allen foyd sunshine songversion of the track if there is one, but even as it is here, “Devil’s Path” satisfies both as a complement to “Sunshine Song” and on its own merits. Totaling about nine minutes, Sunshine Song is an unpretentious jaunt into the roots of psychedelic rock that keeps just an edge of modern heaviness to remind listeners to what age it actually belongs. With its foldout artwork sleeve and quick runthrough, if it’s to be your first experience with the band, it should prove an engaging one that speaks to spacious places without getting lost in them.

Dean Allen Foyd, “Sunshine Song”

Dean Allen Foyd on Thee Facebooks

Sunshine Song at H42 Records

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My Brother the Wind Post Album Trailer

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 28th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

my brother the wind

Yes. Yes. More of this. Less of not this. Swedish improv psych explorers My Brother the Wind will issue their third album in October via Free Electric Sound. The cumbersomely-titled offering, Once There was a Time When Time and Space were One, has just been given a video trailer, and I put it on to check it out and not one minute had passed before I was immersed. Hypnotized. The gorgeous, lush wash of tones had me in their grips to the point that, by the time its two minutes were played out, I forgot I wasn’t listening to a full album and that was all I was going to get.

Kind of a bummer about that last part, but the trailer really makes me look forward to what the album might hold when it hits in October, which I guess is the whole point. Fair enough. The PR wire brings info and of course the video itself:

MY BROTHER THE WIND: Expansive Album Trailer For New LP By Swedish Cosmic Rock Instrumentalists Released

Sweden’s instrumental cosmic rock quartet, MY BROTHER THE WIND, will release their third full-length album this October, the opus harnessing forty-five minutes of the band’s entirely improvised, instrumental psychedelic rock, entitled Once There Was A Time When Time And Space Were One. Recorded live in the studio with no overdubs during a single day, the band used six and twelve string acoustic and electric guitars, mellotron, flute, bass, drums, congas and more to complete the task. The album was captured in full analog on 2″ tape courtesy of a 16 track Ampex from 1969 at Drop Out Analogue, in the snowy wilderness of Åmål, Sweden, with engineering duties handled by Love Tholin, who used vintage flangers, plate reverbs and tape echoes to achieve the LP’s unrestrained sound and exceptionally organic tones, after which it was mixed by Tholin and the band, and mastered by Hans Fredriksson.

A trailer for Once There Was A Time When Time And Space Were One has been released, featuring an array of photos documenting the album’s creation as well as the band performing both on stage as well as outdoors, an in-depth look at the LP’s awesome artwork, and the first audio sample to be leaked from the album.

MY BROTHER THE WIND is a fully improvisational cosmic rock collective consisting of members of widely known Swedish progressive rock acts Makajodama, Magnolia, Animal Daydream and Anekdoten, their output an inviting sound for fans of Popol Vuh, Amon Duul, Sun Ra, Ash Ra Temple, Gong and Pink Floyd, Free Electric Sound — the instrumental music division of The Laser’s Edge — will release Once There Was A Time When Time And Space Were One worldwide on October 14th. Stand by for further transmissions including preorders for the CD and deluxe LP versions as well as additional audio from the album in the coming days.

https://www.facebook.com/mybrotherthewind
https://soundcloud.com/my-brother-the-wind
http://www.lasersedgegroup.com/labels/free-electric-sound
https://www.facebook.com/TheLasersEdge
https://twitter.com/thelasersedge

My Brother the Wind, Once There was a Time When Time and Space were One album trailer

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Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus Debut “Wind Seized” Video & Stream New Album in its Entirety

Posted in audiObelisk, Bootleg Theater on April 28th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus, “Wind Seized” official video

If you’re not yet friendly with the early-onset heavy psych sprawl of Swedish youngins Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus, chances are that by the time you make your way through their video for the song “Wind Seized,” you will be. Tomorrow marks the release of the Stockholm four-piece’s Small Stone label debut (third album overall), Spirit Knife, which follows the 2011 Transubstans release and recent Small Stone reissue, Bloom, in setting a dynamic, flowing course throughout its 59-minute run and across eight tracks that run a gamut of updated classic influences. Cuts like “Point Growth” delve into sweet, wide-open, Cream-style psychedelic blues, distinguished immediately through the use of organ, while elsewhere, “Sworn Collision” takes “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” head-on to a place no less endearing for its relative minimalism.

The key to the album, though, is immersion. Much as one might look at the moniker Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus and feel lost within it before getting to the last syllable, so too does 10:37 opener “Fog by the Steep” prove encompassing, a languid, rolling groove demonstrating an underlying core of heavy rock that consistently works its way into and through the ensuing full-length as guitarist/vocalist Karl Apelmo, guitarist Micke Pettersson, bassist Viktor Källgren and drummer Henke Persson — as well as guest organist Patrik Kolar, whose contributions aren’t to be forgotten — weave smoothly through atmospheres alternately rambunctious and serene, drawing rounded lines between so that Spirit Knife eases the listener along their path. A catchy shorter cut like “Wind Seized” (for which you can see the video above) retains its airy vibes, and likewise, the space-rocking finale title-track keeps its songwriting in focus even as its swirl seems to consume the album whole, and this balance between gives Spirit Knife not just a sense of consciousness, but of accomplishment as well, the band offering old Zeppelin-style soul in “Clang” and carving their identity in passages in the dream-echoes of “Deep Hardened Woods.”

I won’t lie: Spirit Knife surprised the living hell out of me the first time I heard it. Not just because the band is relatively few in years, but because it’s an hour long and they seem to have no trouble holding it together for that stretch. The closing duo of “Point Growth” and “Spirit Knife” provide both apex and post-script, and in the fullness of their sound, the scope of their influences and the edge of individuality they bring to them, Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus are every bit worth the investment of time and attention. You might notice Small Stone has the record up on its Bandcamp page, but given the opportunity ahead of the release date — which is tomorrow, April 29 — the chance to feature it here in full alongside the premiere of the “Wind Seized” video wasn’t something I was going to pass up. Please feel free to dig in below, and enjoy:

Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!

Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus release Spirit Knife April 29 on Small Stone Records. The album was recorded and mixed by Viktor Källgren at Puch Studios in Stockholm and mastered by Chris Goosman at Baseline Audio in Ann Arbor, MI. The band have the following live dates booked:

08.05.2014 Insikten, Jönköping (S)
09.05.2014 Hagenbusch, Marl (D)
10.05.2014 Alte Molkerei, Bocholt (D)
07.06.2014 Pustervik, Göteborg (S)

Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus on Thee Facebooks

Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus’ website

Spirit Knife at Small Stone’s Bandcamp

Small Stone Records

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On Wax: Candlemass, Epicus Doomicus Metallicus Live at Roadburn 2011

Posted in On Wax on April 18th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

As somebody who was in that room when it happened, I don’t so much want to listen to this vinyl as build an altar to its graces. It was Candlemass‘ 25th anniversary show at Roadburn 2011, celebrating a quarter-century since the release of the seminal Swedish doomers’ debut, Epicus Doomicus Metallicus. To mark the occasion, they reunited for the first time with original signer Johan Längquist, who had never really even played with the band or done much more with them than sing on that record, and I tell you in all honesty, it was one of the best sets I’ve ever seen a band — any band — play, at Roadburn or otherwise. The Main Stage room at the 013 in Tilburg was jammed with people waiting to see what was billed as an early headlining set. Candlemass was the first act to go on that day, and they had originally been scheduled to appear in 2010, but for the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull’s eruption and subsequent disrupting of European airspace. So there they were, a year after the fact, fronted by Robert Lowe of Solitude Aeturnus and running through a string of hits, when Lowe takes a bow and moves off stage to make room for the arrival of Längquist.

Svart has done the moment justice on this 2LP set. It is a gatefold, limited to 800 copies — 400 black, 400 white — thick stock package and vinyl, three sides of music with side D an etching of the LP art, interpreted from the original Epicus cover by Erik Rovanperä. In look and in sound, it is a reverential artifact of that set. Two songs appear on each of the three sides, with the recordings helmed by Astrosoniq drummer and habitual captor of Roadburns Marcel van de Vondervoort as well as Robi de Lorijn, running in the standard album order, and live photos are included from in front of the stage, the band donating brief quotes of memories about playing along the bottom of the gatefold, bassist and principle songwriter Leif Edling going so far as to remark that he hopes one day to release a DVD of the performance as well. I wouldn’t mind that either. Looking at it on paper beforehand, it had seemed questionable whether Längquist, who hadn’t performed with Candlemass in so long, would be able not just to pull off the material, but match presence and fit with the rest of the band — Edling, guitarists Lars Johansson and Mats “Mappe” Björkman and drummer Jan Lindh — and by the time they hit the first chorus of “Solitude,” it was clear there was no issue.

Obviously those questions are long-since answered, but to hear that version of “Solitude,” as well as “Demon’s Gate,” “Crystal Ball,” “Black Stone Wielder,” “Under the Oak” and “A Sorcerer’s Pledge” — each a classic, each essential — so clearly and crisply on this vinyl only underscores how righteously Längquist stood in for the performance. It wasn’t just special, it was also good. Of course, 25 years later, the voice changes, and the highs in “Solitude” were left there in favor of something more attainable, but Längquist‘s voice had power enough not just to step in for Lowe, but to own those songs, which other singers had been working to make their own for over two decades. By the time I get to trading out the first LP for the second to hear them close out with “Under the Oak” and “A Sorcerer’s Pledge,” the little differences between the studio versions and the live ones stand out, how Johansson tackles the solos, the pacing differences, etc., and in both spirit and presentation, it’s Candlemass playing arguably their most classic outing, front to back, celebrating their legacy in what if I’m not mistaken has been a one-time-only fashion — that is, I don’t think they’ve done it again since. Whether you saw it or not, what doomed soul wouldn’t want to bear witness to such a thing?

Edling better get moving on that DVD.

Candlemass, “Under the Oak” Live at Roadburn 2011

Candlemass on Thee Facebooks

Svart Records

Epicus Doomicus Metallicus Live at Roadburn 2011 at Burning World Records

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Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus to Release Spirit Knife April

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 28th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

As the old idiom goes, the world’s all yours when you’re a young band with a funny name. I’ve said it before, but it’s worth reiterating that Sweden’s Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus are one to watch out for this year. After reissuing their prior outing, Bloom, on Small Stone late last year, the four-piece will debut proper on the label with Spirit Knife next month. They’ve also got European touring throughout April and May booked to mark the occasion, so one way or another, they’ll be around. The track “Wind Seized” from Spirit Knife is available to stream now and gives a pretty solid example of their spaced-out approach to writing songs that get stuck in your head almost without your realizing it.

The PR wire wants to be your friend. Won’t you open your heart?

JEREMY IRONS & THE RATGANG MALIBUS: Swedish Psychedelic Space Rockers To Release New Full-Length Via Small Stone This April

According to ancient lore, and cult of the antediluvian pagan deity, Ginsu the Magnificently Pointy, a Spirit Knife consists of a bone blade bonded to the souls of the Mud People. He or she that defended oneself or took the life of an enemy with the Spirit Knife became magically bonded to the blade and, thus, the only person who could touch or wield it in future battle. Spirit Knife is also the title of the new album by JEREMY IRON & THE RATGANG MALIBUS – aka JIRM – and we have it on good authority that every musical warrior brave and proud enough to wield it upon release this April through Small Stone Recordings will find him or herself spiritually and eternally bound to its preternatural musical goodness – just like the Mud People of yore.

Imagine, if you will, Jeff Buckley jamming with Can, and you’ll have a fair gist of the fantastic voyage that awaits the armies of the Spirit Knife; an album that finds JIRM rekindling their time-traveling communion with vintage psychedelia and Krautrock, while expanding on the sonic palette revealed by the ensemble’s past full-lengths, Elefanta and Bloom.

Once again, but more powerfully than ever before, JIRM, deliver imposing passages of torrential guitars that rattle and roll, shimmy and soar with oceanic reverb and sweaty rock and roll, partnering with thrumming keys and mesmerizing Motorik drums to incite cyclical hypnosis for protracted song-suites,ever teetering between tight instrumental control and loose vibes to achieve optimal tantric tension and release through music.

All this from a group founded in 2004, in the town of Eskilstuna, Sweden, before relocating to Stockholm three years later, where and whence vocalist/guitarist Karl Apelmo, guitarist Micke Pettersson, bassist Viktor Källgren and drummer Henke Persson have since produced the aforementioned two albums and, now, the impending Spirit Knife.

Elaborates Pettersson, “The result of Spirit Knife is, by its lion’s share, an overgrown and large album where the quartet certainly isn’t making any further compromising of the epic.”

Spirit Knife was recorded at Puch Studios in Stockholm, Sweden, mixed by Viktor Källgren, produced by the JIRM collective and mastered by Chris Goosman (Early Man, Sasquatch, Dixie Witch, Solace et al) at Baseline Audio Labs in Ann Arbor, Michigan and features the striking cover art of Sebastian Thomsson.

Spirit Knife Track Listing:
1. Fog by the Steep
2. Wind Seized
3. Sworn Collision
4. Once Levitated
5. Clang
6. Deep Hardened Woods
7. Point Growth
8. Spirit Knife

So remember the legends of the ancients as you file into record stores (or wherever it is people get their music in these modern, troubled and godless times) to pick up your copy of Spirit Knife – on CD, digital formats, or just maybe some crazy colored LP version that could happen down the line – and shout “Hail to the Mud People!” They knew how to rock out with their bad pre-historic selves.

Spirit Knife will be released via Small Stone Records on April 29th, 2014. Preorder your copy today at THIS LOCATION where you can also check out second track, “Wind Seized.”

http://www.facebook.com/JeremyIronsandtheRatgangMalibus
http://www.smallstone.com
http://www.facebook.com/smallstonerecords

Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus, “Wind Seized” from Spirit Knife (2014)

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Abramis Brama to Release Enkel Biljett May 2

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 13th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

It’s been a quick five years since Stockholm’s Abramis Brama released their last album, Smakar Söndag (review here), but the time differential seems to be something the long-running Swedish rockers are looking to address with Enkel Biljett, which immediately vibes more along the lines of their gloriously boogie-fied early works. This is twice as interesting since founding bassist Dennis Berg split in 2012, but Abramis Brama seem to have weathered the change well judging by the new song “Blåa Toner,” which can be streamed below courtesy of the Transubstans Soundcloud page. They sent the following info down the PR wire as well about the May 2 release for Enkel Biljett.

If you were looking for an excuse to learn Swedish other than their fantastic healthcare and general having-Western-Civilization-figured-out-ness try this:

Through the last 15 years Abramis Brama has released heavy, ecstatic, riff-oriented hard rock with Swedish lyrics and with the new album ”Enkel Biljett”, the band continues their journey with new found energy.

As the band’s sixth studio album, ”Enkel Biljett” proudly shares the heavy hard rock foundation with it’s predecessors and at the same time showcasing other dimensions of Abramis Brama than previously recorded.

2012 was a year of evolution in Abramis Brama, bassist and co-founding member Dennis Berg left the band after having completed a European tour including a live performance on the legendary German Tv show Rockpalast. Soon after, the remaining members found just what they were looking for in Mats Rydström (Backdraft, Pontus Snibb 3) who gladly accepted the offer to join the band. This progression gave the band new energy and inspiration that transpired in the studio and lead to nine vigorous songs.

The title track and lead single ”Enkel Biljett” was released in January 2014 (as a split vinyl with tour brothers Black Debbath of Norway). It was immediately picked up by the Swedish national radio and other commercial radio stations.

In Swedish the title ”Enkel Biljett” means one-way ticket, and the album is injected with a new spark and fire. The heavy riffs are of course still present as well as the psychedelic folky elements. Yet this time around there’s more to comprehend, savor and appreciate.

Current line-up:
Ulf Torkelsson, vocals.
Peo Andersson, guitar.
Fredrik Liefvendahl, drums.
Mats Rydström, bass.

https://www.facebook.com/transubstansrecords
https://www.facebook.com/AbramisBrama
http://www.abramisbrama.com/

Abramis Brama, “Blåa Toner” from Enkel Biljett (2014)

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Goatess Join Roadburn 2014 Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 20th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

The 2013 self-titled debut (review here) from Swedish stoner doomers Goatess — who are fronted by the considerable riff-riding pipes of Chritus Linderson (Lord Vicar, ex-Saint Vitus, ex-Count Raven) — left little room for argument, and while it’s a bummer that Berlin outfit The Oath won’t be able to make it out to Roadburn 2014, Goatess make a more than substantial replacement in the lineup. No clue on when on the opening day of the festival they’ll be playing or which stage in 013 they’ll grace, but cool that they’re involved either way. The countdown to April continues.

Announcement comes courtesy of the Roadburn website:

Goatess To Replace The Oath at Roadburn Festival 2014

We at Roadburn are very sorry to announce that The Oath have sadly had to cancel their appearance at Roadburn Festial 2014 due to personal circumstances. Hopefully, we’ll be able to welcome the band at Roadburn 2015.

Luckily, we’re able to report that Sweden’s Goatess will replace The Oath on Thursday, April 10th at the 013 venue in Tilburg, The Netherlands.

Featuring the vocal talents of one Christian ‘Chritus’ Linderson, formerly of Count Raven, Saint Vitus, Terra Firma, and currently of Lord Vicar, Goatess have taken a different tack and managed to take the previously almost-completely stripmined sound of Kyuss, circa Blues For The Red Sun, and make it sound fresh again!

Sure, there’s more than a tinge of Sabbath on Goatess‘ S/T album (released on the ever prolific Svart Records), but the band hews closer to the fuzzed-up tone of California’s favourite desert-fried sons than to the average bunch of Iommi-worshippers.

Goatess axeman Niklas knocks out a woozy-edged guitar that moves from psych-edged subtlety to great big fuck-off ballsy rifforama, with a sprinkling of eastern-sounding melody woven through, more-than-ably backed up by a bravura drum performance from skinsman Kenta and Findus‘ deeply impressive, fluid, nuanced bass, leaving Chritus to work his magic safe in the knowledge that the heavy lifting is well and truly taken care of.

Make sure to indulge yourself in Goatess‘ primordial, hypno fuzz at Roadburn Festival 2014.

Roadburn Festival 2014 will run for four days from Thursday, April 10th to Sunday, April 13th 2014 at the 013 venue in Tilburg, The Netherlands.

Tickets for the traditional Afterburner event on Sunday, April 13th at the 013 venue in Tilburg, The Netherlands are still available. Get in on the action HERE!

https://www.facebook.com/baldersounds
http://www.roadburn.com/roadburn-2014/tickets/

Goatess, “Alpha Omega” from Goatess (2013)

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Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus Anounce European Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 30th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

You might not know it yet, but you’re going to want to pay attention to the cumbersome name Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus. The Swedish four-piece are celebrating their 10-year anniversary as a band in 2014, and following a late-2013 reissue of their sophomore outing, Bloom (originally on Transubstans), they’ll make a proper debut on Small Stone this spring with Spirit Knife. I missed the boat on Bloom when it came out — not to mention their Elefanta full-length debut — but it’s something of a gem, and Spirit Knife pushes psych atmospheres and confident, commanding heavy rock further.

It’s not about how many beers you can drink so much as how far you can make the sound go. Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus can push out bluesy fuzz or, like on “Sworn Collision,” delve into wistful indie spaciousness, but they always do so with an imaginative ear toward classic pop rock and psychedelia, and they seem a safe bet to turn heads into converts here in the US as well once the new album arrives. One to watch, to put it more efficiently.

They’ll tour Europe to herald Spirit Knife‘s arrival. Dates and bio info on the band follow, courtesy of the PR wire:

Imagine, if you will, Jeff Buckley jamming with Can, and you’ll have a fair gist of the fantastic voyage that awaits the armies of the Spirit Knife: an album that finds Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus rekindling their time-traveling communion with vintage psychedelia and Krautrock, while expanding on the sonic palette revealed by the ensemble’s past full-lengths, Elefanta and Bloom.

Once again, but more powerfully than ever before, JIRM, deliver imposing passages of torrential guitars that rattle and roll, shimmy and soar with oceanic reverb and sweaty rock and roll, partnering with thrumming keys and mesmerizing Motorik drums to incite cyclical hypnosis for protracted song-suites, ever teetering between tight instrumental control and loose vibes to achieve optimal tantric tension and release through music.

All this from a group founded in 2004, in the town of Eskilstuna, Sweden, before relocating to Stockholm three years later, where and whence vocalist/guitarist Karl Apelmo, guitarist Micke Pettersson, bassist Viktor Källgren and drummer Henke Persson have since produced the aforementioned two albums and, now, the impending Spirit Knife.

JEREMY IRONS & THE RATGANG MALIBUS
“Spirit Knife Tour April 2014″

1 abril – COLOGNE (MTC Club)
2 abril – PARIS (Giburs Café)
3 abril – BARCELONA (Rocksound)
4 abril – MADRID (Siroco)
5 abril – SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA (Club Moon)
6 abril – LEÓN (Gran Café)
8 abril – BERLIN (Cortina Bob)

https://www.facebook.com/JeremyIronsandtheRatgangMalibus
http://smallstone.bandcamp.com/album/spirit-knife

Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus, “Wind Seized” from Spirit Knife (2014)

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I are Droid, The Winter Ward: Leaving Ground

Posted in Reviews on September 19th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Sonic diversity within the confines of genre is rare enough, but when one encounters a band like I are Droid, it’s a fitting reminder that those who actually cross boundaries after acknowledging them are in much scarcer supply. I are Droid‘s second album for Razzia Records, The Winter Ward — their first outing was 2008’s cleverly-titled I are Debut – is such a release, culling together elements of modern alternative and classic heavy rock and marrying them with a vast array of sonic textures in the form of synth and programming. To give some basic idea of how that works, one might look at a song like “Kill it Good,” fourth on the album and among its most infectious tracks. On the surface, you have the trio of guitarist/vocalist Peder Bergstrand (once and again of Lowrider), bassist/backing vocalist Jens Lagergren and drummer Fredrik Okazaki Bergström, who proffer excellently composed and performed, driving rock and roll, but under that and running along with it there are layers of synth worked in and midi that comes courtesy of Bergstrand and producer/mixer Daniel Bergstrand. Not only do these electronic elements become essential to the overall listening experience of The Winter Ward, providing a bed for the strong hooks of “22:22,” “Feathers and Dust,” “Constrict/Contract” and “Kill it Good,” among others on the 11-track/46-minute offering, but they create an immersive depth in the mix that puts the audience in a different headspace while hearing the album almost without realizing it. They’re the world in which the songs happen, but they’re also part of the songs themselves, and it’s not necessarily appropriate to think of them as separate — the builds in “Feathers and Dust” and “22:22″ can attest to that, as the synth not only matches the forward motion of the other instruments, but is another, essential piece of the whole. Shades of Bergstrand‘s desert guitar tonality and fuzz show up in cuts like “Leaving Ground” (the longest on the album at 6:26) and the particularly Queens of the Stone Age-esque guitar progression in the verse of “Given is Given,” but even this is shifted and directed to suit I are Droid‘s more complex, more nuanced purposes. The real triumph of the record is that it’s pop.

It would be fascinating enough for I are Droid to put together a collection of songs using these methods and have it be a fucking mess, unstructured and dense with self-indulgence, but that’s not how The Winter Ward plays out. These songs have hooks of nearly unbearable potency, and at the heart of all this stylistic breadth there resides an adherence to classic, immediately familiar verse/chorus construction that makes a cut like the percussion-centric “Odes” as accomplished in terms of basic songwriting as it is aesthetically. Couple that with crisp production — Daniel Bergstrand‘s name might be familiar from his recording/mixing work for Meshuggah, In Flames, Behemoth, Devin Townsend, and so many others; the drum sounds here is a sure tell of metal roots, whatever context surrounds — intricate, headphone-worthy mixing and Peder‘s dynamic vocal sensibilities and The Winter Ward becomes even more accessible, the lyrics of opener “Then, at 15″ setting a wistful, reflective tone for the rest to follow that stays general enough to be universally relatable. This mood perfectly suits Peder‘s voice, which arrives melodic over an initial salvo of synth tings before the chugging guitar/bass and deceptively weighted drum thud begins and “Then, at 15″ starts both its hurried push and lyrical coming of age narrative. For as long as there’s been popular music, that’s been a theme of it, but I are Droid use the opener effectively as a point from which to expand — the subsequent “With Lowered Arms” and “Given is Given (Part I)” both drawing on some of the same sweet melancholy while broadening the palette overall, the second track maximizing an open, airy feel while “Given is Given (Part I)” grounds the overarching flow with an encompassing melody in the vocals and guitar, which dominates accompanied by Lagergren‘s bass. The methodology holds for the next couple tracks, as “Given is Given (Part I)” feeds into the ultra-catchy “Kill it Good” and “Feathers and Dust,” each of which efficiently toys with the balance of rock and electronic progressivism, pushing to one side or the other for any given verse or chorus, a double-edged hook emerging in “Kill it Good” that stands as one of The Winter Ward‘s strongest, though certainly there’s no shortage of competition.

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Dozer, Vultures: Before the Eyes of Heathens

Posted in Reviews on August 6th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Excluding a limited split 7″ with NYMF that heralded its coming, Vultures is the first outing from Swedish rockers Dozer in five years since they released 2008’s Beyond Colossal. That album, their fifth and second for Small Stone, became the capstone on Dozer‘s career when an indefinite hiatus was announced Fall 2009. After guitarist Tommi Holappa and drummer Olle Mårthans and bassist Johan Rockner played together (the latter on guitar) as part of the Greenleaf lineup for 2012’s triumphant Nest of Vipers album (review here), with TruckfightersOskar Cedermalm on vocals and bassist Bengt Bäcke, who engineered Dozer‘s first two albums and worked with other formative Swedish heavy rockers like Demon Cleaner — not to mention a guest appearance from Dozer guitarist/vocalist Fredrik Nordin on that record’s closing track — it was announced Dozer would return to the stage at Desertfest 2013. This was a welcome surprise even after Greenleaf played there in 2012 — Dozer‘s set was preceded by a Lowrider reunion in London and it has been one of the high points of my year so far — and while the immediate next question was when Dozer‘s next studio release would surface, Vultures arrives as a semi-complete answer to the question. Recorded in 2004-2005 at Rockhouse Studios in Borlänge, these six tracks were used as pre-production demos for what would later become the fourth Dozer album, 2005’s Through the Eyes of Heathens. They arrive here with a mastering job from Karl Daniel Lidén (who may or may not also play drums on them) and cover art by William Ede as a digital-only-for-now 26-minute EP that at very least shows Dozer have a continued interest in being Dozer. And if Vultures is a stopgap issued in order to keep their name in the minds of their fans while Holappa continues to write and record with a partially-revamped Greenleaf lineup, being one of those fans, I’m more than happy to take it. The Through the Eyes of Heathens era was a pivotal one in Dozer‘s progression, continuing the shift from the desert-style heavy of their first two albums — 2000’s In the Tail of a Comet and 2001’s Madre de Dios — that began to show itself on 2002’s Call it Conspiracy and pushing Dozer‘s style to individualized territory not yet heard from the band.

In any case, after five years, it was high time Dozer got something out, and Vultures provides a fascinating look at their creative process. For one thing, the songs are remarkably put together despite their “demo” tag. I don’t know for sure if Bäcke engineered this recording — he helmed their first two records and prior demos at Rockhouse — but from the sound of the tracks, I’d believe it. Nordin‘s vocals are layered, the drums have a crisp pop to them, Rockner‘s bass rumbles with fuzzy conviction and the guitars layered and driving in that style that was so quickly becoming Dozer‘s own at this point in their career. Dozer would ultimately take to Seawolf Studios on an island off the coast of Finland to record the final album, and it’s perhaps most curious of all that not one track from Vultures was used in full. There are pieces here in songs like “The Imposter” and closer “To the Fallen” that one familiar with the finished record might be able to recognize, at least in spirit if not note-for-note, but nothing on Vultures was directly ported to Through the Eyes of Heathens. The effect this has is two-fold. First, it makes the new EP that much more of a new release — it is genuinely unheard material. Second, it makes Vultures even more intriguing as a look into Dozer‘s creative process. Was this something that had never happened before, that the songs took such drastically different forms by the time they were finished? Was the original intent to get these tracks on tape so as to write new material using them as a base to work from? What was it about a song like opener Vultures “The Blood is Cold” that didn’t make the final cut, or was it not even an issue of that, and rather, the band knew all along these tracks wouldn’t be on the record but wanted to have them documented anyway for just this future purpose? These questions abound, but what’s most pivotal about Vultures as a standalone release is that it captures Through the Eyes of Heathens-style songwriting with production more akin to Madre de Dios and In the Tail of a Comet, making it a wholly unique entity within Dozer‘s catalog, which if it needs to be said, is one of the finest and most essential the Swedish heavy underground has ever produced.

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