SubRosa Premiere “The Mirror” from SubRosa Subdued: Live at Roadburn 2017

Posted in audiObelisk on November 22nd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

subrosa

SubRosa will release SubDued: Live at Roadburn 2017 on Dec. 1 through Burning World and Roadburn Records. Today I have the extreme pleasure of hosting the official premiere of ‘The Mirror,’ and as the entire album has already been reviewed here, I thought I might just take a minute to speak about the experience of seeing the Salt Lake City outfit play in this context. Won’t take a minute.

Het Patronaat is a revamped church included as a venue for the Roadburn festival in Tilburg, the Netherlands. It has stained glass windows, a high, vaulted ceiling, and hardwood floors. subrosa-subdued-live-at-roadburn-2017When it’s empty, before a band goes on, it feels cavernous. Massive. When it’s full and you’re pressed up against the stage, it can be as intimate as the smallest of Roadburn‘s venues. You’re right there. The band’s right there. And, oh yeah, there are about 700 other people in the room with you, but if you don’t turn around and look, it’s easy enough to pretend you’re in your own world. That’s basically how I watched SubRosa play their ‘SubDued’ set at this year’s Roadburn.

They’d been on the Main Stage the prior afternoon, playing their most recent album, the brilliant For this We Fought the Battle of Ages (review here), in its entirety, but the concept behind ‘SubDued’ being that they’d strip away much of the distortion in favor of a mostly-acoustic presentation made it unmissable from my point of view. The setlist was older tracks — nothing off the latest record — and highlights like “Whippoorwill,” “The Inheritance” and “Cosey Mo” received new life through their revamped arrangements, the focus on meditative melody, raw rhythmic sway and a masterful presentation that turned deeply-weighted goth-tinged post-metal into exploratory neofolk no less complete in its realization. I don’t think any single moment emphasized this so much as when they played “The Mirror” as the second to last song in the set.

In terms of the arrangement, “The Mirror” was as minimal as SubRosa got: voice, drumsticks against microphone stands and a single floor tom for percussion, and that’s it. The violins, flutes, bass, acoustic and electric guitar, and samples/other noises that filled out other inclusions were set aside. Rebecca Vernon led Sarah Pendleton and Kim Pack in harmony as she and drummer Andy Patterson — situated behind a front-line of players that also included bassist Levi Hanna and guest flutist/vocalist Kelly Schilling — kept time together in that seemingly simple fashion. subrosa subdued (photo jj koczan)It was beautiful and affecting in kind.

The song itself tells the story of a woman who, by her own admission, “took the easy road.” She gets married and has five kids in five years because that’s what you’re supposed to do where she’s from, but when her husband leaves her, she’s alone and poor and full of regret. In the end, she blames not him for the affair she had, but herself for not seeing the error of the lifepath she chose: the line, “I just look in the mirror and I find I only have myself to blame” stands out in a verse preceding the ultimate moral lesson of, “You gotta push against the current to get somewhere.” It’s a powerful sentiment, powerfully presented.

I’ll admit I wasn’t familiar with “The Mirror” before seeing it performed at Het Patronaat this past April. It comes from SubRosa‘s 2006 demo/EP The Worm has Turned and to my knowledge hasn’t featured on any subsequent release. This would seem to make its inclusion on SubDued: Live at Roadburn 2017 all the more special, since it’s a standout and something kind of exclusive to this form, this time, and this moment for the band. It certainly felt that way when they were playing it, and as I watched and listened, I became utterly entranced in the melody and the storytelling in a way that hasn’t left my mind in the half-year since. I feel fortunate for having been there to witness it and know that, in fact, I was.

Enjoy the premiere of “The Mirror” below, followed by some more preliminaries from the PR wire:

First ever live album by Subrosa after 5 studio albums on labels as Profound Lore and I Hate Records.

Recorded at the prestigious Roadburn Festival 2017 in a packed Patronaat. Mixed and mastered by Andy Patterson of Subrosa.

Vinyl version will follow in early 2018.

TRACKLIST
1. Whippoorwill
2. Borrowed Time Borrowed Eyes
3. Sugar Creek
4. The Inheritance
5. Cosey Mo
6. The Mirror
7. No Safe Harbor

SubRosa website

SubRosa on Bandcamp

SubRosa on Thee Facebooks

SubRosa on Twitter

Burning World Records website

Burning World Records on Thee Facebooks

Burning World Records on Twitter

Burning World Records on Instagram

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

SubRosa, Subdued: Live at Roadburn 2017: Finding Safe Harbor

Posted in Reviews on October 31st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

subrosa subdued live at roadburn 2017

On the first day, SubRosa took to the Main Stage of the 013 venue in Tilburg to play their latest album in its entirety. And it was early in an afternoon and night of excellent performances, but seeing the Salt Lake City, Utah, outfit give my 2016 Album of the Year, the Profound Lore-issued For this We Fought the Battle of Ages (review here), a complete runthrough was still a highlight of the entirety of my experience at the 2017 Roadburn festival (review here). It was something special. The next day, across the alley at Het Patronaat, the band played once again, but this time for a set that became even more of a landmark in my mind for the long weekend.

Given the billing of ‘SubDued,’ it was SubRosa — the core lineup of guitarist/vocalist Rebecca Vernon, violinists/vocalists Sarah Pendleton and Kim Pack, bassist Levi Hanna and drummer/noisemaker Andy Patterson joined for a second time by flutist/vocalist Kelly Schilling of Denver’s Dreadnought — arranged with everyone up front in a line across the stage save for Patterson who was situated behind with a percussion and sampler setup, seated, facing the audience directly. Surrounded by stained glass windows, the high cathedral ceiling and the hardwood floors of ‘The Church,’ as Het Patronaat has also come to be known — appropriately, since it is one — it felt like a ceremony unto itself.

I stood at the very front of the stage and watched as SubRosa reinterpreted songs from 2013’s More Constant than the Gods, 2011’s No Help for the Mighty Ones (review here), 2008’s Strega and the preceding 2006 demo, The Worm has Turned — leaving the performance of their fourth full-length the day before as it was, but boldly recontextualizing past material into a mostly-acoustic neofolk rife with atmosphere, emotion and progressive sonic insight.

Simply put, it was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen, at Roadburn or anywhere else.

Taking that into account, I have to admit there’s just about no way I can be properly impartial when it comes to assessing the Subdued: Live at Roadburn 2017 live album released through Burning World and Roadburn Records. None. I was too close to it — literally — and as the band began their just-under-an-hour-long set with the graceful unfolding of “Whippoorwill,” too consumed by the immediate breadth of what they were doing to maintain any proper distance from the experience. I think most who were there to see it would likely say the same. It would be like being impartial about a sunrise whose warmth cast away months of frigid temperatures. Impartiality about a first meal after days of starving. It was a time for worship, for communion, not equanimity, and “Whippoorwill” was only the start.

One can hear that on the recording. With Patterson thudding away behind, “Borrowed Time, Borrowed Eyes” emphasizes its rhythmic punctuation as much as Vernon‘s vocal melody, recalling some of the sludgy churn of the original that led off No Help for the Mighty Ones, but with more of a reliance on the strings to fill out an arrangement still given heft by Hanna‘s bass, SubRosa set up the harmonies later in the song for the repeated lines “How long must my journey go?,” and giving way to “Sugar Creek,” which might be the most radical arrangement shift of the entire set, taking the original opener of Strega, pulling out the guitar heft and drums and replacing them with electronic beats, manipulated noise and violins on a five-minute linear build that offers rare patience and still finds a way to capture the band’s underlying emotional intensity that was present even in their earliest work. It marks a transition as well into a crucial point in the set, wherein “The Inheritance” from No Help for the Mighty Ones and “Cosey Mo” from More Constant than the Gods pair together to fully embody the ‘subdued’ experience in texture and arrangement.

subrosa

Over minimal guitar, Vernon‘s solo vocals on “The Inheritance” are soon joined by companion harmonies, and sparse percussion echoes behind, marking the path as it unfolds. Strings arrive and the arrangement builds on itself, recedes for another verse and builds again, arriving at the line, “We’re in the shadow of a dying world,” which the pervasive melancholy of “Cosey Mo” seems to bring to life all the more. Both cuts hover around the eight-minute mark and become a dark kind of gothic Americana with the treatment they’re given on Subdued: Live at Roadburn 2017, the level of depth particularly on the latter highlighting Patterson‘s work in mixing and mastering as well as on percussion. “Cosey Mo” finds a level of balance and emotional resonance by its halfway point that feels like the apex of the performance as a whole, and SubRosa continue to ride that progression fluidly, but it’s ultimately “The Mirror” that serves as the moment of their greatest impact.

With a rhythm created by hitting drumsticks on mic stands complemented by Patterson behind, “The Mirror” weaves a story of rural disaffection — “Got married in the winter/Gave birth in the summer/In five years time had five little ones…” — set to the most gorgeous vocal harmonies here present from VernonPendleton and Pack, who deep-dive into folk-ballad traditionalism with what I’d gladly argue is the boldest and bravest abandon shown on the release. The song, which originally appeared on The Worm has Turned, is the oldest of the material to make it into the set and yet could not fit more perfectly, casting off the complexity of strings, samples, bass, guitar and percussion in favor of an approach as organic as possible: raw human voice.

They thank Roadburn Creative Director Walter Hoeijmakers when they’re done and then launch into “No Safe Harbor” from More Constant than the Gods to close the set. It would be easy for it to be an afterthought, but with Schilling‘s flute added, SubRosa instead push further into the scope established by “The Inheritance” and “Cosey Mo,” finding resolution in a series of thudding crashes that, even in this setting, are viscerally weighted. To call it a suitable ending undercuts the beauty that actually holds sway for the duration of the track itself, or the obvious care put into the presentation, which like the original, ends with a chaos of rumble and strings ceding ground to a single line of percussion. Violins circle around single pulled notes on bass, and whether taken on an ambient level or in terms of the pure aural resonance, it leaves the band with just about nowhere else to go. So they end.

I have been to nine editions of the Roadburn festival. Each year offers at least one landmark performance — the one for which the festival is ultimately remembered. I don’t know if the effect could possibly be the same for someone who wasn’t there to witness it — and it’s precisely for that reason that I consider myself too close to it to be properly impartial, as noted above — but having witnessed SubRosa ‘SubDued’ and now having heard Subdued: Live at Roadburn 2017, it only further cements this set as that in my mind for 2017. It’s been six months now since and I continue to feel affected by what they did on that Het Patronaat stage, and with these tracks documenting it as gorgeously and as essentially as they do, I can only hope that will sustain for years to come. It is a reminder of the power a live performance can have and, again, as rich an experience as I’ve ever had in that regard.

SubRosa, “No Safe Harbor” live at Roadburn 2017

SubRosa website

SubRosa on Bandcamp

SubRosa on Thee Facebooks

SubRosa on Twitter

Burning World Records website

Burning World Records on Thee Facebooks

Burning World Records on Twitter

Burning World Records on Instagram

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

SubRosa to Release Subdued: Live at Roadburn 2017 Dec. 1

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 4th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

subrosa

Hands down, SubRosa were my band of the year at Roadburn 2017. The Salt Lake City dark atmospheric heavy rockers played two sets that I stood in awe and watched in their entirety. The first of them was on Thursday, April 20, and was a complete runthrough of 2016’s brilliant For this We Fought the Battle of Ages (review here), which also happened to be my choice for the best album that came out last year, played on the Main Stage at the 013 venue. It was early in the fest but an unmistakable highlight that carried me through the weekend. I shit you not. I got on the plane home still thinking about how good SubRosa were that first day.

The second set, and something even more of a landmark, was the next day and it was called “SubRosa Subdued,” and it was a semi-acoustic take from the band on some of their older material, including songs from 2013’s More Constant than the Gods and reinterpreting material from their back catalog. It was at Het Patronaat — “the church,” as it’s known — and it was simply unreal. I stood directly in front of the stage, not 10 feet from the band, as they unleashed the gorgeous, devastating melodies of songs like “Whippoorwill,” “Cosey Mo” and the high point of the whole thing, the harmonized “The Mirror,” which even now listening back to it gives me shivers. I consider it some of the best news I’ve posted this year that Burning World / Roadburn Records will release Subdued: Live at Roadburn 2017 on Dec. 1.

I’ll hope to have much more on this before we get to the release date,but the bottom line? Holy crap am I glad this is coming out. Info below is pretty preliminary, but you can check out the art and an audience video of “No Safe Harbor” below that should give you at least some basic idea of why I’m so excited at the prospect of this being released.

Dig:

subrosa subdued live at roadburn 2017

SubRosa – Subdued Live at Roadburn 2017

First ever live album by Subrosa after 5 studio albums on labels as Profound Lore and I Hate Records.

Recorded at the prestigious Roadburn Festival 2017 in a packed Patronaat. Mixed and mastered by Andy Patterson of Subrosa.

Vinyl version will follow in early 2018.

TRACKLIST
1. Whippoorwill
2. Borrowed Time Borrowed Eyes
3. Sugar Creek
4. The Inheritance
5. Cosey Mo
6. The Mirror
7. No Safe Harbor

https://subrosa.cc/
https://subrosausa.bandcamp.com/
http://facebook.com/subrosaslc
http://twitter.com/subrosaslc
https://www.burningworldrecords.com/
https://www.facebook.com/burningworldrecords/
https://twitter.com/burninworldrecs
https://www.instagram.com/burningworldrecords/

SubRosa, “No Safe Harbor” live at Roadburn 2017

Tags: , , , , , , , ,