Posted in Whathaveyou on July 11th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
I like this idea. Texas duo Stone Machine Electric have shown plenty of adventurous spirit over the last couple years, be it in their Kent Stump-recorded 2013 self-titled (review here), or bringing in a Warr guitarist (only to shortly dismiss him), or their prior 2010 live demo, Awash in Feedback(review here), so it seems to me they’ll be right in their element when it comes to wheeling in a portable recording setup and just seeing what happens.
The results — whatever they might turn out to be — will be pressed to a cassette and released sometime in the coming months. They’re calling it the Garage Tapein advance, which already speaks to a raw, jam-room feel. Stone Machine Electric is guitarist/vocalist William “Dub” Irvin and drummer/vocalist/thereminist Mark Kitchens, and while they don’t have an exact release date for the tape yet (the art below is also not necessarily the cover, just a logo I grabbed), it’s one I’ll look forward to hearing in the months to come.
Dig, Lazarus, dig:
Stone Machine Electric – Garage Tape
Texas heavy duo, Stone Machine Electric, is planning to have the studio come to them in the next month to record what is being called the “Garage Tape”.
Good friend and owner of Tin Can Records, Erik Carson, will be dragging his equipment into the practice space of the band. He’ll set up and record whatever Stone Machine Electric plans to do, which is unknown at this point.
The agenda for this outing is to provide a raw account of what goes on in their confines, which usually ends up on the stage. This could turn into an all out improvised jam, some new tracks the duo has been working on, or all of the above.
No release date is set. The outcome will be put out on cassette to provide that garage demo feel.
Posted in Features on November 19th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
It happened at the start of last month that there was a Tuesday during which I was so overwhelmed by the sheer awesomeness of the releases available that I had no choice but to present a rundown of all of them. No choice. You would ask, “Couldn’t you just –” and I would cut you off to say, “No I couldn’t.” It had to be all of them.
So it is today. Last night, Young Hunter posted a new EP, and Across Tundras guitarist/vocalist Tanner Olson released a new folk/Americana solo outing, and today has been more or less an onslaught of “out today!” and “don’t miss it!” and so on. Well, I’ve whittled what I’m sure is an incomplete list down to seven brand new releases currently available for download. Some of them — like the Stone Machine Electric and Tanner Olson — are pay-what-you-will, but even those asking for a cash deposit should prove well worth the investment. You can always get a sampling beforehand, and I’ve included players below to facilitate.
Here we go:
1. Black Skies, Circadian Meditations
This one’s a gem. The North Carolina duo of guitarist/vocalist Kevin Clark and bassist/vocalist Michelle Temple teamed up with Caltrop drummer John Crouch and the result is a more patient collection and exploratory feel than that which reared itself on 2011’s On the Wings of Timedebut. Progressive but not pretentious, atmospheric but not letting go of its rocking side, it’s an album that begs for multiple listens and satisfies even more with them. Both Clark and Temple come off as more confident on vocals, and extended bookends “Lifeblood” (the 10-minute opener) and “The Dusk/Invisible Figures” (the nine-minute closer) showcase a burgeoning affinity for heavy psych mindgaming. It’s as much fun as it is a journey. Get it here.
Black Skies, Circadian Meditations (2013)
2. T.G. Olson, The Bad Lands to Cross
If you haven’t yet started to obsessively keep tabs on the Across Tundras/T.G. Olson Bandcamp page, it’s a worthwhile endeavor. Olson is a prolific and experimental songwriter, and as much as he works in the traditional forms of country twang and Americana spaciousness, so too does he bend those elements to the will of his material. His latest outing, The Bad Lands to Cross, is a relic waiting to be unearthed. Recorded live with one Shure SM57 microphone, it’s an hour long collection as prone to beauty as tragedy, songs like “Return from the Brink” hovering somewhere between the canyon sides of the anxious and secure. He sings, which he doesn’t on all of his solo releases (see The Complete Blood Meridian for Electric Drone Guitar), and one might consider The Bad Lands to Cross a spiritual companion to Across Tundras‘ 2013 outing, Electric Relics(review here), but it more than stands on its own, whether it’s the minimalist folk of “Rarefied Blue” or the harmonica-laden melancholy of the Gene Clark cover, “Some Misunderstanding.” Get it here.
T.G. Olson, The Bad Lands to Cross (2013)
3. Sandrider, Godhead
Sandrider are the antidote to stagnation. Their second album for Good to Die Records, Godhead (review here), pummels with reckless glee and abandon, but don’t let that lead you to believe it isn’t also precise. The post-Akimbo three-piece of drummer Nat Damm, guitarist/vocalist Jon Weisnewski and bassist/vocalist Jesse Roberts returned to Matt Bayles to record the follow-up of their clarion 2011 self-titled debut (review here), and the continued partnership found Sandrider all the more gnarly and aggressive, but also with a development in their melodic sensibility to match. Songs like the opener “Ruiner” and punkish “Champions” are an unabashed good time — get loaded and call them “epic” — and cuts like “Godhead” and the closer “Traveler” work in more complex terrain, showing the dynamic at work between all three members of the band, each of whom proves essential in crafting the atmosphere of the whole. Listen to it for a party or for thinky-thinky bludgeoning. Either way you don’t lose. Also available on gatefold vinyl. Get it here.
Sandrider, Godhead (2013)
4. Second Grave, Antithesis
They call it an EP, but it eats like a full-length. Fronted by former Warhorse guitarist/vocalist Krista van Guilder and featuring Black Pyramid/The Scimitar bassist Dave Gein along with guitarist Chris Drzal and drummer Chuck Ferreira, Second Grave revel in doomed atmospheres and heavy metal stoicism. Their AntithesisEP follows last year’s self-titled debut outing (review here) and over the course of its two tracks, “Mourning Light” (6:37) and “Drink the Water” (11:41), it showcases what’s working in the band’s quickly solidifying approach, whether it’s the solo and riff interplay of the two guitars, undulating heavy grooves in the bass and drums, or van Guilder‘s propensity for throwing in ripping screams along with her melodic clean singing. The more rocking “Mourning Light” and “Drink the Water” play out the duality shown on the Cory John Heisson artwork, and recording by Black Pyramid‘s Clay Neely at Black Coffee Sound and a mastering job from Revelation‘s John Brenner wrap Antithesisup as a doom metaller’s delight in style and affiliation. Get it here.
Second Grave, Antithesis (2013)
5. Stone Machine Electric, 2013.02.07
When Arlington, Texas, riffers Stone Machine Electric released their self-titled full-length (review here) in January 2013, they had recently added third member Mark Cook on Warr guitar. Cook didn’t appear on that album, which was produced by Wo Fat‘s Kent Stump, and is seemingly since out of the band, but was on board alongside guitarist/vocalist William “Dub” Irvin and drummer Kitchens for this recorded show, which as the title would indicate was taped on Feb. 7, 2013. They were at The Grotto that night in Ft. Worth, and they played a considerable set. 2013.02.07clocks in at 53 minutes, and extended pieces like “Carve” and “No/W/Here” give the trio plenty of space to jam out. Naturally, they take advantage, and though the lineup was new and the recording is rough, what purports to be the first in a series of free live albums from Stone Machine Electric seems to come as a document of an already bygone moment. One hopes their lineup issues get sorted soon one way or another so they can follow 2013.02.07 and the self-titled in good time. Get it here.
Stone Machine Electric, 2013.02.07 (2013)
6. Summoner, Atlantian
Didn’t I just write about this album? Well yes, yes I did. Summoner‘s second offering under the moniker and third overall, Atlantian (released by Magnetic Eye Records), is an ambitious and unrepentantly proggy heavy rock record. You’ll find some riffy thrust on “Horns of War,” but notice that they lead with “The Gatekeeper,” a track which couples its big-bigger-biggest plod with some of Summoner‘s most accomplished melodicism to date. Atmospheric explorations like “Changing Tides” (presumably the end of side A on the vinyl) and peaceful closer “Taken by the Sea” show the Boston foursome branching out beyond the reaches even of 2012’s Phoenix, and while the crushing progressions of “Into the Abyss” and the forward rush of “The Prophecy” offer contrast to these sleepier stretches — too substantial and precariously placed to be interludes — the full-album flow that runs across Atlantiandemonstrates in no uncertain terms just how far Summoner have come since starting out as Riff Cannon with 2009’s Mercury Mountain. Get it here.
Summoner, Atlantian (2013)
7. Young Hunter, Embers at the Foot of Dark Mountain
With no more ceremony than a quick, “Hey this is out now,” Young Hunter casually released a three-song follow-up to their wildly impressive 2012 full-length, Stone Tools (discussed here). I’ve gone back to that album often since I first heard it, and Embers at the Foot of Dark Mountainis a terrifyingly solid answer to the formative work the doubly-drummed seven-piece did on their debut, whether it’s the mountain gothic stomp of “Welcome to Nothing” or spacious sway of the ensuing “Trail of Tears,” which is dark and otherworldly but tied to the cold clarity of a desert night all the same, picking up in its second half to a joyous guitar-led ritualizing that legitimately earns a Neurosis comparison more than most of what gets compared to Neurosis these days. Rounding out with the moody, percussion-led “Dreamer,” Young Hunter showcase a bit of drama to go with the intensity presented elsewhere, launching into full-bore thickness and fervent, desperate shouts. Someone needs to sign this band immediately. Tee Pee? Hell, Neurot? Someone’s gotta step up. This is too good. Reportedly a new lineup is in construction as guitarist/vocalist Benjamin Blake (and maybe others) has relocated from Arizona to Portland, Oregon (of course), and these tracks will be used as part of a split tape with Ohioan, but they’re free now, so go to. Get it here.
Young Hunter, Embers at the Foot of Dark Mountain (2013)
Happy listening. If there’s anything I missed, please let me know in the comments.
Now a trio with bassist Mark Cook on board, Arlington-based heavy fuzz rockers Stone Machine Electric nonetheless recorded their self-titled, self-released debut as the core duo of Mark Kitchens and William “Dub” Irvin. The album (review here) was recorded by Kent Stump of Dallas heavyweights Wo Fat, and shares some of that band’s tonal thickness as a result, but Dub and Kitchens take tracks like “Carve” and “Mushroom Cloud” in a direction more their own, jamming out organic fuzz with psychedelic flourish, sounding raw live and studio lush all at once.
Stone Machine Electric, who are aligned to the fertile Dallas scene that also includes OrthodoxFuzz, Kin of Ettinsand the rip-rocking Mothership as well as the aforementioned Wo Fat, made their debut in 2010 with the live demo Awash in Feedback(review here), on which the audio was rough but still gave some idea of where they were coming from. Emphasis on “some” only because the self-titled feels so much more fleshed out and shows them as having a clear idea of what they want Stone Machine Electric to be as a band and where they want to go with their music. It’s a big jump from one to the other, and as they’ve since undergone the pivotal change of bringing Cook in on bass, there’s potential for another such leap next time around.
Given that, it seemed time to hit up Dub and Kitchens for Six Dumb Questions about the self-titled, recording with Stump, having Darryl Bell from Dub’s prior band play bass on the track “Hypocrite Christ,” their striking album art, and so on. They were much quicker in obliging than I actually was in sending out the questions, and you’ll find the results below. Please enjoy:
1. Tell me about the time between the live demo and recording the full-length. Was there anything specific you learned from the demo that you tried to being to the studio?
Dub: The demo was just a live recording that we were ok with releasing. Something for people to hear until we could get in the studio. We did try to bring that “liveness” of the demo to the studio by playing together as much as possible.
2. How long were you in the studio with Kent from Wo Fat? What was the atmosphere like and how did the recording process go? Did Dub record bass parts first or after the guitar?
Kitchens: We were in the studio with Kent for about two and a half days. The first day and a half was spent recording, and the rest was just getting the mixes done. We’re friends with Kent, so that made it feel like we were just hanging out, but recording at the same time. We recorded the drum and guitar tracks together (other than the additional guitar tracks) to get a more live and rawer sound. “Hypocrite Christ” was the only exception. Daryl played the bass with us on that track.
Dub: Yeah, since Kent is a brother it was real laid back. He already knew what we sounded like, so it was all gravy. Like Kitchens said, all the basic guitar and drum tracks (and bass on “Hypocrite Christ”) were recorded with us in the same room together. After that I laid down the remaining bass tracks. Followed by vocals, then guitar overdubs last.
3. How did you wind up including “Hypocrite Christ” from Dub’s Dead Rustic Dog days, and how was it having Daryl Bell in the studio on bass for that?
Dub: Man, having Daryl in there was great. We don’t get to hang out or jam together much at all anymore, so I’m really glad he was able to do it. Not to mention that no one can play that tune quite like him.
That tune just seems to fit into what we do. It’s almost like it was written for SME before there was SME. Actually, Kitchens was also in the band at the time this song was written, so it seemed almost natural to bring it into SME. We played this tune early on and then dropped it for a while. We’ve been wanting to resurrect it again, and what better way than to put it on the album.
4. How has bringing in Mark Cook on bass changed the band’s sound? Have you started to write new material yet? If so, how much of a role does he play?
Kitchens: Mark is helping fill out our sound. We’ve had people tell us we sound great as a two- piece live, and that we pull it off well. You just can’t beat having that low end though. We are working on new material now, so I’m looking forward to what he’ll bring.
Dub: Cook not only helps fill out our sound but also opens it up. He brings in a whole other dimension. We are just now beginning work on new material, and hearing what Cook has brought to the existing tunes I’m excited to see how the new stuff will turn out.
5. Where did the idea for the collage cover art come from? Is there a message being conveyed there, and if so, what is it?
Kitchens:Terry Horn, who was our bassist for a while, did the artwork. I had given him some ideas that I had, but he came back with the collage. I’d never thought of that, and I loved it. We ended up not have any logo or text on the cover because it didn’t look right, and I like that idea as well. Terry is an exceptional artist.
Dub: Yeah, I dig Terry‘s work.
Terry Horn: It was spontaneous. I just put the CD on and listened to it and started flipping through magazines and sketchbooks. Ultimately, I wanted to do something for the cover that was different than most artwork you see on stoner rock/doom stuff today.
Not to sound too cliché, but sometimes art is just art.
6. Any other plans, gigs or closing words you want to mention?
Kitchens: It would be great if we could do a few weekend tours this year hitting some places around Texas or the adjoining states. I’d love to play one of the festivals that happen here in the states. Hoping in a year or so we are back in the studio with Kent. I’ll end with a big thanks to our friends and fans for digging our stuff!
Dub: I think he just summed it up right there. Don’t just keep your finger on the pulse, become part of the pulse!
Posted in Reviews on January 1st, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Their prior 2010 live demo, Awash in Feedback, served notice of their arrival, and with a thickly-fuzzed 39-minute full-length, Arlington, Texas, duo Stone Machine Electric make their self-titled debut. Immediately notable is the production job of Wo Fat guitarist/vocalist Kent Stump, who brings to these songs a similar sense of warmth captured on his band’s 2011 outing, The Black Code, though Stone Machine Electric are somewhat rawer in their approach, and much like Awash in Feedback (review here) was very much a demo, Stone Machine Electric is very much a first album. In fact, opener “Mushroom Cloud” and closer “Nameless” appeared as highlights on the demo, so there’s even more of a link between the releases – as if being put out by the same band wasn’t enough, I guess? – but the leap in development is not to be understated. That was a live demo. This is an album. Its five component tracks all top six minutes – the longest, second cut “Hypocrite Christ” jams its way past 10 – and there’s a firm sense that both William “Dub” Irvin, guitar/vocals and all bass save for the aforementioned longest track, and Kitchens, drums/vocals, have a grip on what they want Stone Machine Electric to sound like. They are of their genre and of their region, and while Texas has one of the most densely populated scenes in the union – as much as anything can be densely populated in such wide open spaces – Stone Machine Electric shows enough potential in the band to begin to stand them out in a manner no less striking that the CD’s manic, Terry Gilliam-esque cover. It is the beginning, but one listen to the thickness with which Dub’s guitar and Kitchens’ toms are presented in the rolling grooves of “Mushroom Cloud,” and especially hearing how big a role the bass plays for a band that, at the time of the recording, didn’t have a bassist (Mark Cook has reportedly since come aboard in that slot), and there’s a palpable potential in what they do. Also helps that, when he needs to, Dub can tear ass through a psychedelic solo, as he does on “Mushroom Cloud,” and though the vocals are understated pretty much front to back, that works well in the mix to play up the thickness of the guitars, bass and drums.
And yes, I do mean thick drums. Kitchens’ toms are high in parts, as on “Hypocrite Christ,” but on most stereos, it shouldn’t be an issue, and the fullness in their sound is fitting complement to Dub’s wall of fuzz. “Hypocrite Christ” has a laid back, jammy haze, and a rougher, more forward vocal, but the riffing is choice and the feel is that much more relatable to a live sense of the band with guest bassist Daryl Bell, who’s given no small task in providing a foundational rhythm to the jam in the song’s second half, topped by Kitchen’s toms and a sliding, echoing solo from Dub. The lyrics are a touch juvenile, but the hook of “Bleed for me/I won’t bleed for you” is drawn out and strong enough to stand on its own despite any over-familiarity of theme, and in any case, it’s an older song, written in 2005 by Dub’s prior band, Dead Rustic Dog, in which Bell also played bass. Centerpiece “Carve” nestles itself into a niche close to the rhythmic bounce of the first two Suplecs records, and follows a vocal cadence accordingly, beginning with a heavy-footed lumber in the opening jam before Dub’s guitar chug leads into the verse while Kitchens adds flourish with quick punctuating fills between each line. A more hectic chorus emerges, but the hook is less prevalent than that of “Hypocrite Christ,” and the most memorable aspect of the song winds up being its classically stoner central riff, which wouldn’t have been out of place on the first Sasquatch album, or indeed on either of Wo Fat’s last two records. Such is the sonic company that Stone Machine Electric seem most intent on keeping, but though some of the self-titled’s most effective moments come when engrossed in fuzzy lurch, the near-shuffle that consumes the middle-third jam on “Carve” winds up being what most justifies it as the album’s centerpiece, Dub and Kitchens working a trio dynamic into a two-piece, sounding their most assured of anywhere on the recording. The groove is plotted and the transition back to the verse easy, and they cap the 9:19 track with a bass interlude leading to a big rock finish of leads and crash.
Posted in Whathaveyou on November 19th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Dub and Kitchens of Texas-based outfit Stone Machine Electric return. The pair recorded their self-titled debut full-length with Wo Fat‘s Kent Stump and will release the album on Jan. 11, 2013.
Stone Machine Electric‘s Awash in Feedbackdemo (review here) gave a good sense of the band’s presence in a live setting, so it should be interesting to hear how they follow it with a proper studio recording (which Stump is bound to provide) two-plus years later.
Here’s the latest off the PR wire:
Stone Machine Electric to Release First Full Length Album
Arlington, Texas duo (yeah, still looking for a bassist), Stone Machine Electric, are set to release their first full length album on CD the beginning of next year on January 11th, 2013. This release is Stone Machine Electric’s follow up to their demo “Awash in Feedback” that was released at the end of 2010.
Recorded this past September, “Stone Machine Electric” is being self-released by the band. This 5 song, 40 minute album was recorded and mixed by Kent Stump (of Wo Fat) and mastered by Nolan Brett at Crystal Clear Sound in Dallas, Texas. Though there is not a bassist in the current line-up, the tracks do contain that heavy low-end. The band’s friend, Daryl Bell, laid down the bass for the song “Hypocrite Christ.” Dub tracked the remaining bass lines for the other songs.
The album will be officially released at their CD release show on January 11th, 2013 at Lola’s in Fort Worth, Texas. The line-up for that night will include Orthodox Fuzz, The Cosmic Trigger, and china kills girls.
Posted in Reviews on December 30th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
They’re about as rudimentary as you get, and much of what you need to know about Arlington, Texas, doom duo (I keep trying to coin the term “doomuo,” but it doesn’t seem to be catching on, fun as it is to say out loud) Stone Machine Electric you can see on the package of their debut self-release, Awash in Feedback. It’s right there on the back of the cardboard sleeve, in big capital letters: “THIS IS A DEMO.”
And indeed it is. A live demo, to boot, and one that will appeal to anyone who recalls tape-trading days of practice room recordings capturing the rawest elements of a band’s sound. Stone Machine Electric offer a half-hour set comprised of five songs, feeling their way through well-trod creative territory and offering bright spots of individuality throughout. Those familiar with the boom in Texas doom – bands like Orthodox Fuzz, Wo Fat and Kin of Ettins being good company to keep – won’t be surprised by much of what guitarist/vocalist Dub and drummer/vocalist Kitchens have to offer on cuts like “Mushroom Cloud” and “Nameless,” grooves inspired by the likes of C.O.C. and Earthride/Spirit Caravan being put to appropriate use, but Stone Machine Electric delve into territory more their own on the extended instrumental centerpiece “Echoes of Garnath,” doing well to add a jammed feel to the heavy-footed riffing.