Six Dumb Questions with Electric Moon

Posted in Six Dumb Questions on April 26th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

electric moon

When an artist takes on a stage-name, the proper format is to write it in quotes, like a nickname, but somehow whenever I end up putting together a piece about the work of founding Electric Moon guitarist, synthesist, sitarist, producer, label honcho, etc., Dave “Sula Bassana” Schmidt, I always feel like I’ve got it backwards. Like it’s Dave Schmidt that should be in quotes and Sula is the true identity beneath. Ditto that for bassist/vocalist/graphic designer “Komet Lulu” Neudeck. A big part of the reason why is the continued stamp Sula, Lulu and drummer Marcus Schnitzler have left on heavy psychedelia over the course of this decade.

With a slew of live offerings, a strong improvisational foundation in the tenets of krautrock, classic prog and of course all things kosmiche, the German three-piece long ago set the controls for the heart of creation itself. Their works are often raw glimpses at their own making — the songs captured as they happened, unfolding as organically as possible to rich and singularly immersive effect. After years outside the studio, Electric Moon have newly released the four-track album, Stardust Rituals (review here), through Schmidt‘s Sulatron Records imprint, and for being six years after 2011’s The Doomsday Machine (review here), the arrival could hardly be more welcome.

Whether it’s the dug-in sitar-laced 22 minutes of vibe they decided to call “(You Will) Live Forever Now” or more song-based pieces “Stardust (The Picture)” and opener “The Loop,” Electric Moon gracefully subvert listener expectation and adjust the balance between improv and structure, and to call the resulting liquidity of Stardust Rituals one of 2017’s best in heavy psych is probably underselling the actual quality of the work itself. Even putting aside the fact that a studio outing from Electric Moon doesn’t happen every day, month, or year, Stardust Rituals gives its audience a solar system to inhabit and worlds or swirl to explore, and if it needs to carry over for a while as the band once more hits stages around Germany and greater Europe, recording and releasing sets as they go (never something to complain about), it should have no trouble doing so.

Sula and Lulu were both kind enough to take some time out to talk about the record and Electric Moon‘s methods in general, and you’ll find the results of that Q&A below.

Please enjoy the following Six Dumb Questions:

electric moon stardust rituals

Six Dumb Questions with Electric Moon

Tell me about how Electric Moon has grown since you started the project. So much of what you do is based on the chemistry between the three of you. How has that developed over time?

Lulu: When we founded the band with the drummer Pablo Carneval, we found out that we had to do nothing else than just start to play and we became one… Over the years, it changed a bit into more frame-based improvisations to get a picture. If you’re on tour, it’s important NOT to fuck up cause 100 percent free improvising night after night can kill creativity and you’re empty then. But we still do it, of course.

Over the years, we had many different drummers so there were also different influences.

But we always try to keep our thing: LET IT FLOW and feel the love. If we feel the love, the music floats automatically!

Sula: In the very first recording sessions we did everything alone, I mean Lulu and me. But then Pablo joined us and we knew we are able make this on stage! That was a great feeling!

What made you decide to go for a more song-based approach on Stardust Rituals? Each track still goes pretty far out, but tell me about incorporating more vocals in the studio. How did these tracks come together to be what they are?

Lulu: First I must say, we did what we’ve always been doing: keeping our studio albums more “song-based” than our live albums cause we have the possibility to do overdubs and recreate stuff, etc.

Sula and me also have so many ideas for songs so we can put them into the music in the studio! “The Loop” for example, was Dave‘s idea on the organ and he showed Marcus and me what he thought and told us what he thinks we should play, and then we did. It took not much time and we got it. It was a lot of fun playing this, by the way!

Also it’s much fun creating vocals for the music while listening to it. The music just tells you what is good for “her”… That’s a loop, haha, but really! I’m spacing out every time I think about these things… So I’m sorry for my weird sentences! Hahaha.

The second thing is, that our live albums are the essence when we three play together. The last records we’ve put out were live albums and we just needed a new impulse, again. So we’re happy that we got the impressions for Stardust Rituals to get it ready. Sometimes it’s hard ’cause the ideas wouldn’t find the way to your soul. But most of the time it’s pure magic.

For me, overdubbing is like talking to myself and, of course, the band. It’s very intimate! Having an idea, sitting down, listening to the song, being alone in the studio, feeling the energy of the music and then do the overdub. It’s really magic. I love doing my overdubs being on my own and it’s also always big excitement when the others listen to them the first time… Do they like what you did or don’t they? It’s big fun to make music with yourself, by the way.

Sula: The first basic recording was in 2014, and was untouched till we started overdubbing. Three of the track’s basics were within three days before we went to the Freak Valley Festival for a gig. That was in early summer 2015. In 2016, we slowly started cutting/arranging the recordings and doing the overdubs. Finally the mastering was done (by Eroc) in early 2017.

Is there something specific about the spirit of jamming that speaks to you with Electric Moon as opposed to other bands you’ve been involved in? Can you hear a part as the foundation of an Electric Moon jam as opposed to, say, something that would become a Sula Bassana piece?

Lulu: No, that never happened yet! It’s more like you hear the Sula Bassana soul in Electric Moon when he did most of the instruments, for example, cause he would influence the song then!

The specific in Electric Moon from the beginning is: Becoming one, let it flow, let the music lead your hands playing your instrument!

Sula: The spirit in the improvisations in the other bands is slightly different, because everyone brings his soul, mood, feelings in. For example, Rainer [Neeff, of Zone Six]’s way of playing guitar is different than mine. So the whole thing has a different energy. The music in Krautzone has a completely different feel and intention as the Electric Moon music. And as Lulu already told, I would never take a Electric Moon recording for a Sula song. Maybe one day I use a lick I played in an Electric Moon concert for a Sula song. But I would do new recordings, with everything played by myself, which will lead to a totally different result.

Lulu: I guess this sometimes happens “by accident” that you play the same lick twice!

Sula: Exactly what I mean!

Where does the title Stardust Rituals come from, and what does it mean for you?

Lulu: I had this idea when I was thinking and feeling a lot about life and death and space!!!

I was reading loads of space magazines and books and thought a lot about the fact that we all are made of stars! Everything and every creature, every plant and every ANYTHING is made of stardust! Our whole planet earth is made of the sun powder… That is so great, it feels so familiar and it’s so soothing when you are sad, for example…

Imagine – nothing and nobody could ever get lost – even if we die! ‘Cause we’d still be stardust in some way… And where should we disappear to? We’re all in space and will be… It feels so true to me.

So the title and also the vocal themes for the album were born. Stardust Rituals is like a complete reflection about this all. The music was talking to me…

And when Sula did the Mellotron in the last track, the complete thing was changing so much – it was so stunning – suddenly the whole piece turned into something different, more intense and beautiful so it made me cry… And then I wrote the vocals and it became the track “(You Will) Live Forever Now.”

Has releasing your own work through Sulatron changed your perspective on writing or recording at all? If so, how? If not, why not?

Sula: No. We always did everything by ourselves and the labels, who released our non-Sulatron-stuff, never told how to do it. They always accepted our music and artwork. So we can say we always produced our music the way we want it! Which is great!

Any other plans or closing words you want to mention?

Sula: We have a lot plans for recordings, releases and so on. Also we could talk about the horrible situation on this planet. But that would take hours… and I hope everyone who is interested in our music is some kind of same-minded, trying to be a good person, without being aggressive or a racist, being without hate, and full of love and positive vibrations. Mankind needs love, peace and freedom. That’s it!

Lulu: And if there are any racists listening to our music we hope they can feel love and forget the racism…

Also – remember: We’re all made of the sun….. We’re one indeed! Physically! We’re all in the same space(ship)! LOVE! Man, I sound like a hippie, hahaha, but my heart feels it like this!

Electric Moon, Stardust Rituals (2017)

Electric Moon on Thee Facebooks

Electric Moon on Bandcamp

Sulatron Records

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Electric Moon, Stardust Rituals: In the Cosmic Loop

Posted in Reviews on April 7th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

electric-moon-stardust-rituals

The discography of German heavy psych trio Electric Moon is a confusing thing, filled with atemporal reissues of limited prior works, live albums that could easily be studio affairs, varying editions, and so on, mostly if not completely all released through founding guitarist, synthesist, electric sitarist, keyboardist, general-swirlmaker and recording engineer Dave “Sula Bassana” Schmidt‘s own Sulatron Records label. Accordingly, I could be way off in saying so, but I believe Stardust Rituals may be the first proper Electric Moon studio full-length since 2011’s The Doomsday Machine (review here).

Is that possible? I don’t know anymore. They count it as their fifth album either way, and it follows behind several of the aforementioned reissues — including one in 2016 for The Doomsday Machine — and a bevvy of live offerings like last year’s Live 2015 – Zeiss Planetarium Bochum (review here), 2015’s Theory of Mind (review here), 2014’s Mind Explosion (review here), 2013’s Live 2012 1 & 2 (review here), etc. If indeed it has been six years since the last time they tracked a full-length not onstage somewhere in Europe, one could hardly accuse them of being lazy with that time, however languid and flowing their sound might be and certainly is on Stardust Rituals.

The album presents three extended cuts and one shorter piece very much built outward from the core of jamming between Schmidt, bassist “Komet Lulu” Neudeck and drummer Marcus Schnitzler that has to-date been at heart in their approach, live or otherwise. Over the past five-plus years, their material has driven toward an at-times raw glimpse of their creative processes, with as little filtering of the view as possible, and while the movements that comprise Stardust Rituals‘ 45-minute stretch come across as more song-minded, they also maintain that acid-drenched sensibility of exploration, emerging all the more spacious and triumphant for it.

And really, with material so clearly geared toward vibrancy in the first place, the line between what’s live and what isn’t would seem to be pretty fluid in the first place. True, Stardust Rituals doesn’t have breaks for applause, but even as Komet Lulu‘s vocals roll out echo-and-swirl-buried verses as part of the overarching drift of second track “Stardust (The Picture),” an obscure but definitively human presence, the feeling is one of spontaneous kosmiche combustion — nebular gases swirling into a cohesive stellar motion, rotational gravity taking hold to bring the listener into the song’s orbit.

Also it’s spaced out. “Stardust (The Picture)” is a centerpiece for the molten flow set up over the course of Electric Moon‘s first three tracks, which most likely comprise side A of the vinyl. They begin with the dug-in space rock progression of “The Loop,” which is arguably the most “song-ish” of the album as a whole, with a synth figure at its center and a forward rhythmic push made subtle through the classy, jazzy intertwining of Schnitzler‘s drumming and Schmidt‘s guitar lead circa three minutes in.

electric-moon-photo-by-space-farmers

It’s in “The Loop” that Electric Moon will almost shock those who’ve followed them the last several years, because even before they turn to the Hawkwindian thrust at the beginning of the eight-minute track’s second half, they very purposefully establish a course distinct from the live offerings that have led up to Stardust Rituals, and that impression continues into the rolling low end that begins “Stardust (The Picture)” — an early instrumental version of which, titled just “The Picture,” appeared on both Theory of Mind and Mind Explosion.

Its inclusion here, and in this more complete, vocalized form, still far-reaching and adventurous but with a firmer intent behind it, speaks to the amorphous nature of Electric Moon‘s work as a whole and the meta-level on which their fluidity operates. It’s not just about being open in terms of willing to jam out for 20 minutes at a clip. It’s about being willing even to change the definition of a song itself from what it was to what they want/need it to be to best suit a purpose. They break their own rules once again with the sitarized “Astral Hitch Hike,” departing the structured consciousness of the longer opening duo in favor of 4:40 of instrumental psych-prog vibing — just in case you might think it safe to know what to expect.

Sitar continues to meander, wrapping itself around an initial bassline, at the launch of closer “(You Will) Live Forever Now.” The finale, at 22 minutes, is just about as long as the first three pieces on Stardust Rituals put together, and it seems clearly meant to consume all of side B on its own. It definitely is consuming, or at very least immersive — a subdued flow is underway almost immediately but brimming with patience, flourish of synth adding to a rich atmosphere that provides a stage for when the vocals arrive after we’ve waded about four minutes deep. It’s a dream. All of it. The tone, the drift, the vagueness of the voice. But Electric Moon thrive in that dream, and though it’s by no means in any rush to get anywhere, there is a build happening and it is linear. Layers are added to the whole one at a time, the guitars making a noteworthy arrival near six minutes, and Lulu and Schnitzler provide an absolute solid foundation on which this liquefied push takes place.

There’s a sense of pickup and tonal thickening about three minutes later just before the vocals return — in layers — and a fuller fuzz soon grabs hold and moves “(You Will) Live Forever Now” into its next phase, noisier and denser but still remarkably vast and open feeling. They’re not yet halfway through, but this movement will get them there and come to a head just before the solo that starts at about 13:30 and runs until it comes apart at about the 15-minute mark — drums and bass holding steady as the guitar quietly rights itself. That process sets up the last verse (or verses, because who knows where one ends and another begins) and the shift into the closer’s apex for Stardust Rituals as a whole, which starts in earnest with the arrival of Mellotron at 18:49 and continues to develop until the fadeout that begins in the last minute leaves only the keys and residual echoing swirl behind.

Electric Moon may be in large part defined as a unit by what they accomplish live, and that feeds even into Stardust Rituals as well, since much of what has become these songs has its foundation in that raw creative process noted earlier, but if their return to studio work demonstrates anything, it’s that their sound has little interest in limits of any sort, be it those of listener expectation, or of genre convention, or whatever else. The prevailing warmth they exude throughout these four tracks is as unmistakably their own as any of their live improvisational work has been, and in reminding their audience of that, they’ve only made themselves a richer sonic experience for those fortunate enough to take them on. Whether one puts it on and gets lost in its outward gone-ness or stays with its twists and turns every step of the way, the path through the solar system that Stardust Rituals blazes is nothing less than a joy to follow.

Electric Moon, “The Loop”

Electric Moon on Thee Facebooks

Electric Moon on Bandcamp

Sulatron Records

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Electric Moon Release Stardust Rituals April 7

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 29th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

I would expect nothing less from Stardust Rituals than the title suggests. It’s been I don’t even know how long since the last proper studio offering from German jammers Electric Moon, whose psychedelic explorations show up much more often in the form of live records, but on April 7, they’ll return with this four-track full-length, apparently exploring themes of mortality, space, and the intertwining of these various dimensions in which we exist.

They’ve got opening track “The Loop” streaming now ahead of the release, and aside from their signature psych-wash, the song surprises in its structured feel. In the announcement below, they hint that the rest of the record might follow a similar path — using the basic jams as a foundation for building a song, rather than just seeking to represent the raw process of creation on their own — and I’m excited to hear how that balance shakes out across Stardust Rituals as a whole. Can’t get here fast enough, quite frankly.

Of course, it will be out on Sulatron Records, as the PR wire informs:

electric moon stardust rituals

Finally it’s happening, and the long awaited 5th studio release of Electric Moon appears to see the light!

4 tracks, which pack a punch and which went a long way to become what they are now. The oldest tune „Stardust (The Picture)“ was already recorded in 2014 and was released as instrumental version on 2 live albums so far. But it got refined with overdubs like vocals and stuff, like all the other tracks, too. This is one of the things which make the difference between live albums and studio albums, by the way; like also, that improvisation and songwriting get mixed-up!

“Stardust Rituals“ is painting a journey through the inner cosmos and wants to deliver the insight, that no-one and nothing gets ever lost, because space is like a jar which keeps us all, in which form ever… We’re all made of stardust so nothing can happen in the end…

Trippy like always, Electric Moon will carry you off on a trip to the deepest depths of the outermost innermost, cause in every one of us is a cosmos and we all are together on this common journey, in the same (space-)ship…

Recorded, mixed and produced by Sula Bassana (Dave Schmidt) and mastered by Eroc!

The beautiful round Cover-Painting was painted by Eriko of Mont Doom Design in Italy and Lulu Artwork! just brought it to shape for the final design and layout.

CD comes in jewel case, LP in fold-out cover with triple-marbled (blue-black-white) 180 grams quality vinyl (made in Germany), limited to 1000 pcs!

Electric Moon is:
Komet Lulu: Bass, Vocals, Effects
Marcus Schnitzler: Drums
Sula Bassana: Guitar, E-Sitar, Organ, Mellotron, E-Piano, Effects

Tracklist:
The Loop (08:06)
Stardust (The Picture) (10:14)
Astral Hitch Hike (04:41)
(You Will) Live Forever Now (22:41)

www.sulatron.com
www.electricmoon.de
https://electric-moon.bandcamp.com/
www.facebook.com/ElectricMoonOfficial

Electric Moon, “The Loop”

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Tomorrow’s Dream: 200+ of 2017’s Most Anticipated Releases

Posted in Features on January 23rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

tomorrow's dream 2017

Looks like it’s going to be another busy 12 months ahead. It’s been a busy better-part-of-a-month already, so that stands to reason, but you should know that of the several years now that I’ve done these ‘Tomorrow’s Dream’ posts, this is the biggest one yet, with over 150 upcoming releases that — one hopes — will be out between today and the end of 2017.

Actually, at last count, the list tops 180. Do I really expect you to listen to all of them? Nope. Will I? Well, it would be nice. But what I’ve done is gone through and highlighted 35 picks and then built lists off that in order of likelihood of arrival. You’ll note the categories are ‘Gonna Happen and/or Likely Candidates,’ ‘Definitely Could Happen’ and ‘Would be Awfully Nice.’

Beyond that last one, anything else just seems like speculation — one might as well go “new Sabbath this year!” with zero info backing it up. The idea here is that no matter where a given band is placed, there has been some talk of a new release. In some cases, it’s been years, but I think they’re still worth keeping in mind.

Another caveat: You can expect additions to this list over the next week — probably album titles, band names people (fingers crossed) suggest in the comments, and so on — so it will grow. It always does. The idea is to build as complete a document as possible, not to get it all nailed down immediately, so please, if you have something to contribute and you’re able to do so in a non-prickish, “You didn’t include Band X and therefore don’t deserve to breathe the same air as me,” kind of way, please contribute.

Other than that, I think it’s pretty straightforward what’s going on here and I’ll explain the category parameters as we go, so by all means, let’s jump in.

— Tomorrow’s Dream 2017 —

Presented Alphabetically

1. Abrahma, TBA

Late last year, Paris heavy progressives Abrahma announced a new lineup and third full-length in progress. No reason to think it won’t come to fruition, and a follow-up to 2015’s Reflections in the Bowels of a Bird (review here) is an easy pick to look forward to. Even with the shift in personnel, it seems likely the band will continue their creative development, driven as they are by founding guitarist Seb Bismuth.

2. All Them Witches, Sleeping Through the War

all them witches sleeping through the warIf 2017 ended today, Sleeping Through the War would be my Album of the Year. Of course, there’s a lot of year to go, but for now, Nashville’s All Them Witches have set the standard with their second album for New West Records behind 2015’s Dying Surfer Meets His Maker (review here) and fourth overall outing. They’ve got videos up so far for “3-5-7” (posted here) and “Bruce Lee” (posted here). Both are most definitely worth your time. Out Feb. 24. Full review should be later this week.

3. Alunah, Solennial

Seems like UK forest riffers Alunah are on this list every year. Wishful thinking on my part. Nonetheless, their fourth LP and Svart Records debut, Solennial, is out March 17, and if the tease they gave already with the clip for “Fire of Thornborough Henge” (posted here) is anything to go from, its Chris Fielding-produced expanses might just be Alunah‘s most immersive yet.

4. Arbouretum, TBA

I asked the Baltimore folk fuzzers a while back on Thee Facebooks if they had a new record coming in 2017 and they said yes, so that’s what I’m going on here. The last Arbouretum album was 2013’s Coming out of the Fog (review here), and even with frontman Dave Heumann‘s 2015 solo outing, Here in the Deep (review here), factored in, you’d have to say they’re due. Keep an eye on Thrill Jockey for word and I’ll do the same.

5. Atavismo, Inerte

This is another one that already has a spot reserved for it on my Best-of-2017 year-end list. Spanish heavy psych rockers Atavismo up the progressive bliss level with their second full-length, Inerte, without losing the depth of style that made 2014’s Desintegración (review here) so utterly glorious. It probably won’t have the biggest marketing budget of 2017, but if you let Atavismo fly under your radar, you are 100 percent missing out on something special.

6. Bison Machine, TBA

In addition to the video for new track “Cloak and Bones” that premiered here, when Michigan raucousness-purveyors Bison Machine put out the dates for their fall 2016 tour, they included further hints of new material in progress. As much as I dug their earlier-2016 split with SLO and Wild Savages (review here) and 2015’s Hoarfrost (review here), that’s more than enough for me to include them on this list. Killer next-gen heavy rock.

7. Brothers of the Sonic Cloth, TBA

News of a follow-up to Brothers of the Sonic Cloth‘s 2015 Neurot Recordings self-titled debut (review here) came through in October, and it remains some of the best news I’ve heard about 2017 doings. Took them a while to get the first record out, so we’ll see what happens, but it kind of feels like looking forward to a comet about to smash into the planet and cause a mass extinction, and by that I mean awesome. Can’t get here soon enough.

8. Cloud Catcher, Trails of Kosmic Dust

cloud catcher trails of kosmic dustOkay, so maybe I jumped the gun and did a super-early review of Denver trio Cloud Catcher‘s second long-player and Totem Cat Records debut, Trails of Kosmic Dust, but hell, no regrets. Some albums require an early-warning system. Their 2015 debut, Enlightened Beyond Existence (discussed here), was a gem as well, but this is a band in the process of upping their game on every level, and the songwriting and momentum they hone isn’t to be missed.

9. Colour Haze, TBA

I’ve gotten some details on the upcoming full-length from Colour Haze. They do not include a title, artwork, audio, song titles or general direction. Less details, I guess, than word that the CD version of this answer to 2015’s To the Highest Gods We Know (review here) is set to come out next month, as ever, on Elektrohasch. That puts it out in time for Colour Haze‘s upcoming tour with My Sleeping Karma (announced here). Fingers crossed it happens. Colour Haze are perpetual top-albums candidates in my book.

10. Corrosion of Conformity, TBA

Signed to Nuclear Blast after being rejoined by guitarist/vocalist Pepper Keenan, North Carolina’s C.O.C. have been in the studio since last year. The lineup of Keenan, bassist/vocalist Mike Dean and guitarist Woody Weatherman and Reed Mullin on drums is the stuff of legend and last worked together on 2000’s America’s Volume Dealer, so no question this reunion makes for one of 2017’s most anticipated heavy rock records. They nailed the nostalgia factor on tour. Can they now add to their legacy?

11. Elder, TBA

I was incredibly fortunate about a month ago to visit progressive heavy rockers Elder at Sonelab in Easthampton, MA, during the recording process for their upcoming fourth album. I heard a couple of the tracks, and of course it was all raw form, but the movement forward from 2015’s Lore (review here) was palpable. That LP (on Stickman) brought them to a wider audience, and I expect no less from this one as well, since the farther out Elder go sound-wise, the deeper the level of connection with their listeners they seem to engage.

12. Electric Wizard, TBA

Could happen, could not happen. That’s how it goes. Announced for last Halloween. That date came and went. Word of trouble building their own studio surfaced somewhere along the line. That was the last I heard. Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if it showed up tomorrow, if it showed up in 2018, or if the band broke up and never put it out. They’re Electric Wizard. Anything’s possible.

13. John Garcia, The Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues

Out Jan. 28 on NapalmThe Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues (review here) is the first-ever acoustic album from former Kyuss frontman John Garcia, also of Unida, the reunited Slo BurnHermanoVista ChinoZun, etc. — basically the voice of desert rock. He does a couple Kyuss classics for good measure, but shines as well on the new/original tracks, and while it’s a piece for fans more than newcomers — that is, it helps if you know the original version of “Green Machine” — his presence remains as powerful as ever despite this new context.

14. Goya, Harvester of Bongloads

Riffs, dude. Goya seem to have them to spare. The Arizona-based wizard doomers have set a pretty prolific clip for themselves at this point, with at least two short releases out in 2016, one a 7″ of Nirvana covers (review here), and the The Enemy EP (review here). Set for a March 3 release through their own Opoponax Records imprint, Harvester of Bongloads continues the march into the abyss that 2015’s Obelisk (review here) and 2013’s 777 set in motion, finding the band coming more into their own as well. Creative growth — and bongloads! The best of both worlds.

15. Ides of Gemini, TBA

Ides of Gemini are set to record their yet-untitled third album with Sanford Parker early this year, and it will also mark their debut on Rise Above Records upon its release. They’ve also got a new lineup around vocalist Sera Timms and guitarist J. Bennett, so as they look to move forward from 2014’s Old World New Wave (review here), one can’t help but wonder what to expect, but to be honest, not knowing is part of the appeal, especially from a band who so readily specialize in the ethereal.

16. Kind, TBA

Three-fourths of Kind feature elsewhere on this list. Bassist Tom Corino plays in Rozamov. Drummer Matt Couto is in Elder. Vocalist Craig Riggs is in Roadsaw. And for what it’s worth, guitarist Darryl Shepherd has a new band coming together called Test Meat. How likely does that make Kind to release a second LP in 2017? I don’t know, but their 2015 Ripple Music debut, Rocket Science (review here), deserves a follow-up, and I know they’ve demoed some new songs. If it happens, great. If it’s 2018, at least these dudes will be plenty busy besides.

17. Lo-Pan, In Tensions

lo-pan in tensionsYes, Lo-Pan‘s In Tensions (review here) has already been released — CD/LP with an artbook on Aqualamb. It’s out. Limited numbers. You can get it now. Why include it on a list of most anticipated releases? Because that’s how strongly I feel about your need to hear it. The fruit of a shortlived lineup with guitarist Adrian Zambrano, it distinguishes itself from everything they’ve done before in style while still keeping to the core righteousness that one hopes the Ohio outfit will continue to carry forward. It’s more than a stopgap between albums. Listen to it.

18. The Midnight Ghost Train, TBA

It seems to have been a rough ride for hard-boogie specialists The Midnight Ghost Train since their 2015 Napalm debut and third album overall, Cold was the Ground (review here). They’ve never taken it easy on the road or in terms of physicality on stage, and between injuries and who knows what else, their intensity at this point veers toward the directly confrontational. Nonetheless, they’ve been writing for album number four, may or may not have started the recording process, and I expect that confrontationalism to suit them well in their new material.

19. Monster Magnet, TBA

I have it on decent authority that NJ heavy psych innovators Monster Magnet were in the studio this past autumn. I’ve seen no concrete word of a new album in progress from Dave Wyndorf and company, and I wouldn’t necessarily expect to until it was time to start hyping the release, but after their two redux releases, 2015’s Cobras and Fire (review here) and 2014’s Milking the Stars (review here), their range feels broader than ever and I can’t wait to hear what they come up with next.

20. Mothership, High Strangeness

A pivotal moment for Mothership arrives with High Strangeness, and the heavy-touring, heavy-riffing Texas power trio seem to know it. Their third record on Ripple Music pushes into new avenues of expression and keeps the energy of 2014’s Mothership II (review here) and 2012’s Mothership (review here), but thus far into their career, it’s been about their potential and what they might accomplish going forward. 2017 might be the year for Mothership to declare a definitive place in the sphere of American heavy rock.

21. The Obsessed, Sacred

On Halloween 2016, founding The Obsessed guitarist/vocalist and doom icon Scott “Wino” Weinrich announced a new lineup for the band, with his former The Hidden Hand bandmate Bruce Falkinburg on bass/vocals, Sara Seraphim on guitar and Brian Costantino continuing on drums. A genuine surprise. Their first album since 1994, Sacred (due on Relapse) was tracked as the trio of WeinrichCostantino and bassist/vocalist Dave Sherman, but clearly they’ve moved into a new era already. Wouldn’t even guess what the future holds, but hopefully Sacred still comes out.

22. Orange Goblin, TBA

When it was announced that London’s Orange Goblin were picked up by Spinefarm as part of that label’s acquisition of Candlelight Records last Spring, the subheadline from the PR wire was “Working on Ninth Studio Album.” I haven’t heard much since then, but even as 2014’s Back from the Abyss (review here) pushed them deeper into metallic territory than ever before, their songs retained the character that’s made the band the institution they are. Always look forward to new Orange Goblin.

23. Pallbearer, Heartless

pallbearer heartlessDoomers, this is your whole year right here. I haven’t heard Pallbearer‘s third album, Heartless (out March 24 on Profound Lore), but I have to think even those who haven’t yet been won over by the Arkansas four-piece’s emotive, deep-running style have to be curious about what they’ve come up with this time around. I know I am. These guys have been making a mark on the genre since their 2012 debut, Sorrow and Extinction (review here), and there’s little doubt Heartless will continue that thread upon its arrival.

24. Radio Moscow, TBA

Fact: Radio Moscow stand among the best classic heavy rock live acts in the US. They’re the kind of band you can watch upwards of 15 gigs in a row — I’ve done it — and find them putting on a better show night after night, in defiance of science, logic and sobriety. Word of their signing to Century Media came just this past week and brought with it confirmation of a follow-up to 2014’s stellar Magical Dirt (review here), and for me to say hell yes, I’m absolutely on board, seems like the no-brainer to end all no-brainers. Can’t wait.

25. Roadsaw, TBA

Nearly six full years later, it’s only fair to call Boston scene godfathers Roadsaw due for a follow-up to their 2011 self-titled (review here). Granted, members have been busy in KindWhite Dynomite, and other projects, but still. Their upcoming outing finds them on Ripple Music after years under the banner of Small Stone Records, and though I haven’t seen a solid release date yet, my understanding is they hit Mad Oak Studio in Allston, MA, this past fall to track it, so seems likely for sooner or later. Sooner, preferably.

26. Rozamov, This Mortal Road

Speaking of albums by Boston bands a while in the making, This Mortal Road (out March 3 on Battleground Records and Dullest Records) is the debut full-length from Boston atmospheric extremists Rozamov. Haven’t heard it yet, but I got a taste of some of the material when I visited the band at New Alliance Audio in Aug. 2015, and the bleak expanses of what I heard seem primed to turn heads. I’m a fan of these guys, but in addition, they’ve found a niche for themselves sound-wise and I’m curious to hear how they bring it to fruition.

27. Samsara Blues Experiment, TBA

It’s been a pleasure over the last couple months to watch a resurgence of Berlin heavy psych trio Samsara Blues Experiment take shape, first with the announcement of a fourth album in October, then with subsequent confirmations for DesertfestRiff Ritual in Barcelona, and a South American tour. Reportedly due in Spring, which fits with the timing on shows, etc., the record will follow 2013’s righteous Waiting for the Flood (review here) and as much as I’m looking forward to hearing it, I’m kind of just glad to have these guys back.

28. Seedy Jeezus, TBA

Work finished earlier this month on Melbourne trio Seedy Jeezus‘ second full-length. As with their 2015 self-titled debut, the band brought Tony Reed of Mos Generator to Australia to produce, and after their blissed-out 2016 collaboration with Earthless guitarist Isaiah MitchellTranquonauts (review here), it’s hard not to wonder what experimentalist tendencies might show in the trio’s style this time out, and likewise difficult not to anticipate what guitarist Lex “Mr. Frumpy” Wattereus comes up with for the cover art.

29. Shroud Eater, Strike the Sun

Not to spoil the surprise, but Feb. 1 I’ll host a track premiere from Florida’s Shroud Eater that finds them working in a different context from everything we’ve heard from them to this point in their rightly-celebrated tenure. They also recently had a split out with Dead Hand, and their second long-player, Strike the Sun, will be their debut through STB Records. It’s been since 2011’s ThunderNoise (review here) that we last got a Shroud Eater album, so you bet your ass I’m dying to know what the last six years have wrought.

30. Sleep, TBA

If Sleep were any other band, they’d probably be in the “Would be Awfully Nice” category. But they’re Sleep, so even the thought of a new record is enough to put them here. The lords of all things coated in THC are reissuing their 2014 single, The Clarity (review here), on Southern Lord next month, but rumors have been swirling about a proper album, which of course would be their first since the now-legendary Dopesmoker. If it happens, it’ll automatically be a heavy underground landmark for 2017, but it’s one I’m going to have in my ears before I really believe it.

31. Stoned Jesus, TBA

Even as they tour playing their second album, 2012’s Seven Thunders Roar (review here), to mark its fifth anniversary and continued impact, Ukrainian trio Stoned Jesus are forging ahead with a fourth record behind 2015’s The Harvest (review here). The capital-‘q’ Question is whether or not looking back at Seven Thunders Roar and engaging that big-riffing side of their sound will have an impact on the new material, and if so, how it will meld with the push of The Harvest. Won’t speculate, but look forward to finding out.

32. Stubb, TBA

Since reveling in the soul of 2015’s Cry of the Ocean (review here) on Ripple, London trio Stubb have swapped out bassists, and they were in Skyhammer Studio this month recording a single that may be an extended psychedelic jam. I’ll take that happily, but I’m even more intrigued at the prospect of a third LP and what guitarist/vocalist Jack Dickinson, bassist/vocalist Tom Hobson and drummer Tom Fyfe might have in store as the band moves forward on multiple levels. Might be 2017, might not.

33. Sun Blood Stories, It Runs Around the Room with Us

sun blood stories it runs around the room with usIt Runs around the Room with Us seems to find peace in its resonant experimentalist drones, loops, open, subdued spaces, but there’s always some underlying sense of foreboding to its drift, as if Boise’s Sun Blood Stories could anticipate the moment before it happened. Toward the end of the follow-up to 2015’s Twilight Midnight Morning (review here), they execute the 90-second assault “Burn” and turn serenity to ash. Look for it in April and look for it again on my best of 2017 list in December.

34. Ufomammut, TBA

Any new offering from the Italian cosmic doom magnates is worth looking forward to, and while Ufomammut have left the 15-year mark behind, they’ve never stopped progressing in style and form. To wit, 2015’s Ecate (review here) was a stunner after 2012’s two-part LP, Oro (review here and review here), tightening the approach but assuring the vibe was no less expansive than ever. They started recording last summer, finished mixing in November, so I’m hoping for word of a release date soon.

35. Vokonis, The Sunken Djinn

Born out of Creedsmen Arise, whose 2015 demo, Temple (review here), offered formative thrills, Swedish trio Vokonis debuted with last year’s Olde One Ascending (review here) and proved there’s still life in post-Sleep riffing when it’s wielded properly. They signed to Ripple in November and confirmed the title of their sophomore effort as The Sunken Djinn, as well as a reissue for the first album, which will probably arrive first. I don’t know how that will affect the timing on this one, but keep an eye out anyway.

Gonna Happen and/or Likely Candidates

Obviously some of these are more likely than others. Some have solidified, announced release dates — Dopelord‘s out this month, Demon Head‘s out in April, etc. — and others come from social media posts of bands in studios and hints at upcoming releases and so on. A big tell is whether or not a band has an album title with their listing, but even some of those without have their new albums done, like Atala and Royal Thunder, so it’s not necessarily absolute.

Either way, while I’m spending your money, you might want to look into:

36. Against the Grain
37. Amenra
38. Atala
39. Attalla, Glacial Rule
40. Ayahuasca Dark Trip, II
41. Beastmaker
42. Beaten Back to Pure
43. Blackout
44. Bretus
45. Buried Feather, Mind of the Swarm
46. The Clamps
47. Cold Stares
48. Coltsblood, Ascending into the Shimmering Darkness
49. Come to Grief, The Worst of Times EP
50. Cortez
51. Cruthu, The Angle of Eternity
52. The Dead-End Alley Band, Storms
53. Dead Witches, Dead Witches
54. Dealer
55. Death Alley, Live at Roadburn
56. Demon Head, Thunder on the Fields
57. The Devil and the Almighty Blues, II
58. Devil Electric
59. Doctor Cyclops, Local Dogs
60. Dool, Here Now There Then
61. Dopelord, Children of the Haze
62. Doublestone, Devil’s Own/Djævlens Egn
63. Dread Sovereign, For Doom the Bell Tolls
64. Drive by Wire
65. Elbrus, Elbrus
66. Electric Age
67. Electric Moon, Stardust Rituals
68. Endless Floods, II
69. Five Horse Johnson
70. Forming the Void, Relic
71. Funeral Horse
72. Greenbeard
73. Green Desert Water
74. Greenleaf
75. Grifter / Suns of Thunder, Split
76. Hair of the Dog, This World Turns
77. Heavy Temple, Chassit
78. Here Lies Man, Here Lies Man
79. Hollow Leg, Murder EP
80. Holy Mount, The Drought
81. Hooded Menace
82. Horisont, About Time
83. Hymn, Perish
84. Lecherous Gaze
85. Magnet, Feel Your Fire
86. Mastodon
87. Merlin, The Wizard
88. Merchant
89. Mindkult, Lucifer’s Dream
90. Mirror Queen
91. Moonbow, War Bear
92. Mos Generator
93. The Moth
94. MotherSloth
95. Mouth, Vortex
96. My Sleeping Karma, Mela Ananda – Live
97. Orango
98. Papir
99. PH, Eternal Hayden
100. Psychedelic Witchcraft, Magick Rites and Spells
101. Royal Thunder
102. Saturn, Beyond Spectra
103. Season of Arrows, Give it to the Mountain
104. Siena Root
105. Six Organs of Admittance, Burning the Threshold
106. Six Sigma, Tuxedo Brown
107. Sólstafir
108. The Sonic Dawn, Into the Long Night
109. Spelljammer
110. Spidergawd, IV
111. Steak
112. Stinking Lizaveta, Journey to the Underworld
113. Sula Bassana, Organ Accumulator
114. Summoner
115. Sun Voyager, Sun Voyager
116. Sweat Lodge, Tokens for Hell EP
117. Thera Roya, Stone and Skin
118. Toke
119. Troubled Horse, Revelation on Repeat
120. VA, Brown Acid The Third Trip
121. Weedpecker
122. Youngblood Supercult, The Great American Death Rattle

Definitely Could Happen

Maybe a recording process is upcoming (Gozu, Cities of Mars, YOB), or a band is looking for a label (The Flying Eyes), or they’ve said new stuff is in the works but the circumstances of an actual release aren’t known (Arc of Ascent, Dead Meadow, High on Fire), or I’ve just seen rumors of their hitting the studio (Freedom Hawk, La Chinga, Ruby the Hatchet). We’ve entered the realm of the entirely possible but not 100 percent.

So, you know, life.

Dig it:

123. The Age of Truth
124. Ape Machine
125. Arc of Ascent
126. At Devil Dirt
127. Bantoriak
128. Bask
129. BCAD
130. BoneHawk
131. La Chinga
132. Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters
133. Cities of Mars
134. Crypt Sermon
135. Dead Meadow
136. Death Alley (Studio LP)
137. Dee Calhoun
138. Destroyer of Light
139. Devil
140. Devil Worshipper
141. Duel
142. Dustrider
143. Egypt
144. Electric Moon
145. Elephant Tree
146. Farflung
147. The Flying Eyes
148. Freedom Hawk
149. Gozu
150. The Great Electric Quest
151. Green Meteor, Consumed by a Dying Sun
152. High on Fire
153. Horrendous
154. Insect Ark
155. In the Company of Serpents
156. Iron Monkey
157. Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus
158. The Judge
159. Killer Boogie
160. King Dead
161. The Kings of Frog Island
162. Lords of Beacon House, Recreational Sorcery
163. Mangoo
164. Mondo Drag
165. Monolord
166. Mountain God
167. The Munsens
168. Naxatras
169. Never Got Caught
170. Ommadon
171. Orchid
172. Ordos
173. Pilgrim
174. Poseidon
175. Purple Hill Witch
176. Ruby the Hatchet
177. Sasquatch
178. Satan’s Satyrs
179. Serpents of Secrecy
180. Shabda
181. Shooting Guns
182. Sleepy Sun
183. Slow Season
184. Snowy Dunes, Atlantis
185. Spectral Haze
186. The Sweet Heat
187. Switchblade Jesus
188. Superchief
189. Tÿburn
190. YOB
191. Zone Six

Would be Awfully Nice

This last category is basically as close as I’m willing to come to rampant speculation. Endless Boogie have hinted at new material, and Queens of the Stone Age have talked about hitting the studio for the last two years. There were rumors about Om, and though Kings Destroy just put out an EP, they have new songs as well, though I doubt we’ll hear them before the end of 2017. I’ll admit that Across Tundras, Fever Dog, Lord Fowl, Lowrider and Hour of 13 are just wishful thinking on my part. A boy can hope:

192. Across Tundras
193. Eggnogg
194. Elephant Tree
195. Endless Boogie
196. Fever Dog
197. Fu Manchu
198. Halfway to Gone
199. Hour of 13
200. Kadavar
201. Kings Destroy
202. Lord Fowl
203. Lowrider
204. Masters of Reality
205. Om
206. Orodruin
207. Queens of the Stone Age

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading. Whatever this year brings, I hope it’s been great so far for you and I hope it continues to be so as we proceed inexorably to 2018 and all the also-futuristic-sounding numbers thereafter. At least we know we’ll have plenty of good music to keep us company on that voyage.

As always, comments section is open if there’s anything I’ve left out. I’m happy to add, adjust, etc., as need be, so really, have at it, and thanks in advance.

All the best.

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Sherpa, Tanzlinde: Dancing in Trees

Posted in Reviews on January 20th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

sherpa tanzlinde

It’s a rare band who can affect a folkish sensibility, a psychedelic lushness and still maintain an underlying tonal presence to connote a heavy influence. Far, far rarer than the number of bands who claim to be able to do it, anyhow. From Abruzzo, Italy, come Sherpa, an open-minded and semi-experimental five-piece who make their late-2016 debut on Sulatron Records with Tanzlinde and throughout it gracefully play between styles of heavy psych, folk, post-rock, pop, and classic prog without ever losing that sense of presence in the material. Comprised of Matteo Dossena, Ivano Legnini, Enrico Legnini, Axel Di Lorenzo and Pierluca Michetti and featuring a range of guest contributions throughout — the back of the CD lists: Lilia on vocals “Robert W.,” Ayu Shi and Ila Maa on vocals for “Loto,” “Dubinuska,” “Sherpa” and “Big Foot,” Fabiana Giordano on vocals for “Dune” and the title-track, Fabio Duronio and Graziano Zuccarino on pipes, percussion, etc. on “Loto,” Fabio Cardone on synth and xylophone for “Big Foot” and sundry other things on sundry other of Tanzlinde‘s total 10 songs — it’s little wonder the resulting feel is so expansive.

Though the members of Sherpa released a self-titled full-length in 2013 under their prior moniker, Edith Aufn, it’s important to remember that Tanzlinde is their first outing in their current guise, and so it strikes as even more ambitious and even more triumphant in exceeding those ambitions. It was recorded between 2014 and 2016, brings in all these different people throughout who take part in adding to already varied material that basks in a diversity of influence, but Tanzlinde never loses its structural integrity, never gives up its sense of purpose, and at no point does Sherpa let go of the overarching mood and exploration at their core.

No small feat as they move from “Loto,” which reminds of Hypnos 69 at their quietest, to the all-drift psych-folk serenity of “Robert W.” earlier, to the space-ritualized pulsartonics of “Big Foot” and beyond, but true enough to their newer moniker, Sherpa act as a guide for their listeners through their first album’s rich and immersive course. There are a few factors that allow them to do this. First, the individual songs are relatively short. Only “Loto” reaches past six minutes, and none of the others top five — atmospheric closer “Plot” is the shortest at 3:04 — so pieces are quick to come and go, almost like flashes of different worlds being visited throughout this journey, a glimpse of a thing, enough to dive in and then move on. This is especially effective as opener “Dune” moves into “Robert W.” and “Dubinuska,” and Tanzlinde begins to unfold this process to its audience.

sherpa-photo-by-Fabio-Cardone

What allows the band to work this way, on a more practical level, is the rhythm section. Isn’t it always? As much of a delight as the shimmering guitars and dreamscape vocals of “Of Coke and Steel” are, it’s the bassline and the subtle push of the drums that hold the song together, and that’s true of just about the entirety of Tanzlinde save perhaps for the aforementioned finale, which is basically an ambient soundsape — though there’s some percussion there as well. Other tracks, whether they take place as a build à la the wallop duo of “Tanzlinde” and “Sherpa” back to back in the album’s first half or the ’70s churn of “Big Foot” and later fuzzy push of “Of Coke and Steel” in the second, Sherpa are able to enact these various movements because there is essentially no chance of their material coming apart as a result. Taken in combination with the efficiency in their sonic storytelling, and Tanzlinde emerges clean and clearheaded in its psych-prog meld and is able to hold to such gorgeousness as a defining element.

That becomes particularly prevalent on “Magnetic White Tree,” which leads off the second half of Tanzlinde and sets the ground for “Loto,” “Big Foot” and “Of Coke and Steel” to come, but is true nonetheless of the whole affair from “Dune” onward. Credit has to go to Dossena and to Umberto Palazzo, who both contributed to the mixing, because the low end is never overwhelming, and as it should, the bass and acoustic and electric guitars act in complementary rather than competitive fashion. Knowing that Sherpa worked together in a prior band helps explain some of that chemistry, but Tanzlinde benefits from a fullness of sound as much as coherence of purpose, and solidifies many of the impulses they showed on Edith Aufn‘s self-titled, so that the handclaps-into-chants of “Dubinuska” don’t feel the slightest bit incongruous as they otherwise might leading to the nodding, crashing climax that ends that song, and “Of Coke and Steel” holds to its languid, beautiful drift and affects the impression of “Plot” as more than just an outstretching epilogue.

In its breadth, Tanzlinde succeeds in establishing the progressive aspects of what Sherpa do aesthetically, but the flow they’re able to execute from one piece to the next is no less crucial in making the album as staggering as it is. Even with the formidable endorsement of Sulatron behind it, Tanzlinde hits as a welcome surprise, and one hesitates to speculate on what Sherpa might do next for fear of jinxing the magic they’ve been able to conjure on this wonderful first offering.

Sherpa, Tanzlinde (2016)

Sherpa on Thee Facebooks

Sherpa on Bandcamp

Sherpa at Sulatron Records

Sulatron Records on Thee Facebooks

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Giöbia Sign to Heavy Psych Sounds Booking

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 6th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

This one makes sense. Italian imprint and booking agency Heavy Psych Sounds — founded and run by Gabriele Fiori of Roman trios Black Rainbows and Killer Boogie — is among the foremost ambassadors of his country’s heavy underground. In the meantime, Milan’s Giöbia have emerged as a powerhouse of spaced-out groove, their fourth and most recent long-player, Magnifier (review here), having come out via Sulatron Records last year to the thrill of lysergic braincell-miners worldwide. Pairing the two up to put the band on the road? Yeah, again, that makes sense.

I’d expect an announcement of a Giöbia European — or at very least Italian — tour to follow shortly behind this one that brings the band onto the Heavy Psych Sounds booking roster. So far as I know, they’ll still be releasing through Sulatron — which is run by Dave “Sula Bassana” Schmidt of Electric MoonZone Six, etc. — but there’s never been anything wrong with keeping more than one kind of the right company, so cheers to the band. Maybe a new release in 2017 as well? We’ll see.

Here’s what Heavy Psych Sounds had to say about all of it:

giobia-hps

HEAVY PSYCH SOUNDS Records & Booking is really thrilled to announce that Giöbia started to be part of the booking roster!

So from today for any gig inquire please write to: info@heavypsychsounds.com

Giöbia has been one of the most influential psychedelic bands in Italy over the last years. Seduced by the lysergic side of the ‘60s, by exotic mantras and the evocative power of space-rock, Giöbia is a band from Milano, Italy with many facets and one only faith, that is to turn every encounter with sound into a psychedelic experience.

The band counts four members: leader Bazu (vocals and string instruments), Saffo (organ, violin, vocals), Detrji (bass) and Betta (drums) and their name – Giöbia – comes from an ancient pre-christian festivity celebrated in Northern Italy when a big straw puppet resembling a witch is burnt as a propitiatory ritual towards the forces of nature.

https://www.facebook.com/giobiaband/
https://giobiagiobia.bandcamp.com/
http://www.heavypsychsounds.com/bands/giobia.htm
https://www.facebook.com/HEAVYPSYCHSOUNDS/

Giöbia, Magnifier (2015)

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Electric Moon, Live 2015 – Zeiss Planetarium Bochum: Voyages in Sunburst

Posted in Reviews on August 10th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

electric moon zeiss planetarium bochum

There are a few things to know about Electric Moon‘s new live album, Live 2015 – Zeiss Planetarium Bochum, released digitally on their own Sulatron Records. First, it has six songs. Second, all but two of those six are over 24 minutes long. Not a one of them is under 15 minutes long. Do the math and that adds up to a runtime of 2:24:28. That’s a hell of a show, and largely unmanageable for any kind of physical release, but it works for the expansive, exploratory, and largely improvised far-ranging space-psych that the German trio proffer. The liquefied jams of Dave “Sula Bassana” Schmidt, bassist/sometimes vocalist Komet Lulu and drummer Marcus Schnitzler have always kind of existed outside of time anyway, so somehow this long-form excursion suits them as they conjure headphone-worthy immersion in richly-effected guitar and synth swirl, deep and warm bass tones and percussive drive capable of holding it all together.

Accompanying the album is a note from the band informing listeners that Schmidt had some technical difficulties during the gig, which does indeed seem to have been held at a planetarium (where they’ll play again in Nov. 2016), and that when it was done both his guitar amp and his Korg Polysix synthesizer — not a minor factor in their sound — were broken. They out-rocked their gear, in other words. Proceeds from sales go toward repairs. Sure enough, there are some clicks and pops audible in the guitar after 24:43 opener “Star Factory” recedes and elsewhere as well, but the overarching impression on Live 2015 – Zeiss Planetarium Bochum is so much more about the krautrock trance the band elicits that it’s easy to pass over those other noises without even realizing they’re there.

Likewise, one might snap back to consciousness 10 minutes deep into “The Last Words of Mr. P.” (28:21) and wonder how the three-piece got from the subdued synth interplay to just a thickened push of a crescendo. They did so gradually, of course, Same way they always do it, but what stands Live 2015 – Zeiss Planetarium Bochum apart from other live outings the band has done like their Live 2012 One and Two (review here), and certainly from their studio work to-date is the scope of the work itself. Not just that it’s longer, but what that extra space in time allows Sula, Lulu and Marcus to do in terms of making the vibe come to life across such a massive span.

electric moon

Each of these jams would eat a side of vinyl whole, if not more than that, but as “The Last Words of Mr. P.” gives way to the particularly space-rocking “Air to Space” (the shortest inclusion at 15:47) and the bass-led experimentalist build of “Radio Contact was Lost” (19:38), they bring quality no less than quantity, the band having long since established a crucial chemistry between them that continues to shine and grow with each subsequent release. That’s audible as Lulu and Marcus hold together the spacey thrust on “Radio Contact was Lost” and Schmidt sets about creating a wash of swirl that seems to grow more intense with each rhythmic cycle, propelled by the drums with the bassline holding steady but increasing its tension as well. At about 14:30, they hit the peak and ride it until just after the 15-minute mark, but even there, Lulu keeps that bassline going, so when they pick it back up, the song remains fluid, the vibe tripped-out, the mood engaging.

Electric Moon aren’t a new band at this point, so that they should be able to bring this level of mastery to the form of heavy psychedelic jamming maybe isn’t such a surprise, but the scale at which they do it on Live 2015 – Zeiss Planetarium Bochum is a statement unto itself. The album ends as it began: with two massive slabs of jammy adventuring. Both “Close Encounter of the 4th Kind” (26:29) — which might just be the highlight of the release, though I won’t take away from the appeal of “Air to Space” — and closer “Sunburst Odyssey” (29:29) have their own development cycle. The former moves through a quiet synthy opening smoothly into guitar-led build, peaks and falls back before finding a sort of middle ground, where Schmidt‘s airy dreamscape guitar feels particularly resonant, while the latter, perhaps unsurprisingly, has a bit of everything. It starts off with quiet hum, then throws in some synth.

It moves through krautrock jamming, deep-space atmospherics, emphasizes the balance of high and low end in what Electric Moon do in its second half and ultimately asks nothing more of the listener than perhaps a bit of mind expansion in the process of letting go and following the band along their extended but still welcoming path. Ever prolific in the tradition of their style, Electric Moon have a new studio album in the works and as “Sunburst Odyssey” meanders its way toward its finish in some world other than this one, I can’t help but wonder how much of the synth integration that typifies Live 2015 – Zeiss Planetarium Bochum will show up there as well. We’ll find out in time, of course, but if anything’s for sure it’s that more than half a decade on from their first offering, Electric Moon keep growing and changing, and here they admirably maintain a cohesive atmosphere across what to many acts would be an utterly impossible stretch. Hard to imagine anyone leaving this show dissatisfied.

Electric Moon, Live 2015 – Zeiss Planetarium Bochum (2016)

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Sulatron Records

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Quarterly Review: Sunn O))), Swallow the Sun, Beesus, Giöbia, Decasia, Sonic Mass, Wolvserpent, Delouners, Dead East Garden, Pearl Handled Revolver

Posted in Reviews on March 30th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk quarterly review spring 2016

The Wednesday of a Quarterly Review is always special to me. In the six, maybe seven, times I’ve done this now, Wednesday has always been the marker of turning to the second half of the week. Hump Day in a bizarre context. That said, I feel good about how it’s gone so far and I feel very good about the stuff that’s being written about in more than just that getting-it-out-of-the-way spirit. Still, we start today with something that should’ve been reviewed months ago, and I’ll admit to being glad to have such a formidable weight off my chest.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Sunn O))), Kannon

sunn kannon

Sunn O))) are without question among the most integral bands of their generation. I don’t feel like it’s going even remotely out on a limb to say that. With the three-song full-length, Kannon (on Southern Lord), they go back to exploring the waveforms and ritualistic atmospheres that helped their influence spread in the first place, after several years of collaborating with others like Scott Walker and Ulver. Kannon is the first Sunn O)))-proper LP since 2009’s orchestral Monoliths and Dimensions (review here), and while I understand any and everything I might have to say about it is barely a drop in the bucket compared to the from-all-sides laudits founding guitarists Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson have received, its three parts nonetheless demonstrate the fact that with Sunn O))), there is never any backward looking, and that even as they strip away elements that made Monoliths and Dimensions as expansive as it was in favor of the claustrophobic rumble and chants of “Kannon 3,” they move relentlessly forward. They remain necessary.

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Southern Lord Recordings

 

Swallow the Sun, Songs from the North I, II & III

swallow the sun songs from the north i ii iii

Hey, I like Swallow the Sun. I’ve dug the Finnish outfit since their debut, The Morning Never Came, but I gotta say, maybe a triple album, which Songs from the North I, II and III is, is a bit much? The concept is awesome – one record of light/dark, one record of light, one record of dark – but in practice it’s about a 160 minutes long and a considerable investment to ask of their audience. When it comes to repeat listens, I can’t help but continually go to Songs from the North III, the most extreme installment, which still has plenty of spacious guitar melodies to go with its death-doom emotional and tonal crush, and while I’m not sure that Swallow the Sun would’ve been doing themselves any favors if they spaced out three separate releases rather than bundling them together as they have, it’ll be years before a release of this scope can be properly digested, if it can at all, and for a band whose work is as complex and often lush as Swallow the Sun’s, one wants to absorb it in a way that such a massive offering doesn’t allow.

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Century Media

 

Beesus, The Rise of Beesus

beesus the rise of beesus

Italy’s heavy rock boom continues with the debut album from Roman riffers Beesus. The four-piece nod at desert grunge with “6 Ft. Under Box” and roll out thick, loosely-psychedelic vibes on the opening title-track, but The Rise of Beesus primarily tells its story in its plays of density and spaciousness – see “Waltzer” and the later “Sonic Doom/Stoner Youth” – and one is reminded a bit of Snail circa Blood in that, but a sense of variety brings moments like the quiet opening stretch of “Kusa” and the bass-led thrust of “Mata la Verguenza,” making The Rise of Beesus not as easy to predict as it might first appear. When it does indulge its heft, as on “Beesus in Dope,” it satisfies, but while consistent, it is by no means unipolar. It seems to set Beesus up for future expansion on any number of lines, but as their first outing, it also has a noteworthy sense of itself, carving out an identity from diversity of songcraft and an abidingly chaotic vibe.

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Beesus on Bandcamp

 

Giöbia, Magnifier

giobia magnifier

Fall 2015’s Magnifier (on Sulatron Records) is the fourth LP from Italian psych/space rockers Giöbia, who launch with the ominous cosmic thrust of “This World was Being Watched Closely” and make their grandest statement on side B with the 15-minute lysergic noise excursion of “Sun Spectre.” There and elsewhere in “The Pond,” “The Stain” and the closing “The Magnifier,” Giöbia pursue shroomy sonic enlightenment through soaking reverb and wah, Moog, synth, bouzouki and so on – a somewhat kitchen sink approach resulting in a joyous front-to-back wash of spirited energy and engaging depth. The follow-up to 2013’s Introducing Night Sound (review here), Magnifier finds synth-laden prog swing in “Lentamenta la Luce Svanirà” and pushes air with the low end of its finale title-cut, a right-on dripper that’s round enough to make the world seem square by comparison. The place Giöbia inhabit between psychedelia and space rock is fast becoming a planet all their own, and for ambassadorship of their sound, Magnifier thrills.

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Sulatron Records

 

Decasia, Decasia

decasia decasia title=

Recorded by the band in 2014 and issued in 2015 as their debut EP, Decasia’s Decasia flows more like a long-player, with five cuts that unfold from the tanpura and didgeridoo immersion of opener “Halo,” but I won’t argue. While rawer than what one might commonly expect out of European heavy psychedelia, the French trio nonetheless cull aspects of that sound into their own, so that centerpiece “Blue Love” is right at home with its Hendrixian guitar swing, and closer “Dive” feels within rights to demonstrate a touch of Colour Haze in its initial rhythm, though on the whole Decasia are less laid back and more grunge-informed, resulting in an intriguing blend that, from the burst at the open of “Sherpa” through the crashing finish of “Dive,” shows them as a group able to play to either side at will. They’ve already followed up with the jam “Moodoo Majja,” but I wouldn’t speculate which side will win out as they continue to develop, if indeed any single one does.

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Decasia on Bandcamp

 

Sonic Mass, You People Never Learn

sonic mass you people never learn

The second long-player from London sludgers Sonic Mass, You People Never Learn… would seem immediately to be positioning itself as punishment. Fair enough – there’s certainly some abrasive aspect to its overriding rawness and liberal feedback – but the huge groove that pays off the build in the second half of “Butcher of Brogdael” is more righteous inclusion than it is masochistic, and even faster, shorter cuts like the blown-out punk of “Biker Satania” or “Toga”’s unhinged dual-guitar thrust feels more about a raucous vibe than putting someone off. In the title-track, they move from a wash of distortion into some caustic feedback by the end, but by then the context of You People Never Learn… is such that the nodding push of eight-minute closer “Quadranoid” is more a celebration than a beating, even if it does round out with two minutes of amp crackle, effects and feedback. If it was coming from a stage, you’d raise a pint to it.

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Sonic Mass on Bandcamp

 

Wolvserpent, Aporia:Kala:Ananta

wolvserpent aporia kala ananta

Longform material is nothing new for Boise, Idaho-based duo Wolvserpent. Both of their two full-lengths to-date, 2010’s Blood Seed and 2013’s Perigaea Antahkarana, have found the ritual drone-doomers working in extended contexts. However, the newly-issued Aporia:Kala:Ananta EP (on Relapse) pushes that line even further. It is a single-song work running 40 minutes of spacious, sometimes grueling, thrillingly challenging heft, marked by a cinematic sense of drama in its use of violin, blackened extremity and striking depth. Drummer/violinist Brittany McConnell and guitarist/vocalist Blake Green aren’t so much taking any huge stylistic leaps from what they’ve done before, but the scope of “Aporia:Kala:Ananta,” as well as the overarching flow of the piece, its patient execution, and the masterful hand with which they guide it, cannot be called anything but progression. The only question I have is why they’re not calling it an album. Considering both its runtime and its breadth, to consider it anything less feels like selling it short.

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Relapse Records

 

Delouners, Family

delouners family

Swapping back and forth between Spanish and English lyrics adds variety to Family, the 13-song/45-minute debut long-player from Uruguayan foursome Delouners, but they weren’t short on it anyway. Spacious, echoing guitars and a languid psychedelia-gone-heavy-blues carry across laid back blowout rolls like “Low” and the more uptempo “Secreto,” and all the more in the side A-ending “Mistery Caravan,” the lazy, hazy, take-it-way-down groove feels derived from an All Them Witches influence. There are more garage rock moments, as on the title-track, the earlier “Los Dormidos,” “Alain Delon” and closer “Mirtha Legrand,” and the shoegazing tropicality of “Sea/Side” furthers an individualized sensibility overall, but that naturalist spirit never departs completely. So be it. Delouners drench this central inspiration in their own sonic persona, and so come off influenced rather than derivative, setting themselves up to branch out their progression as they see fit on whatever they might do next.

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Delouners on Bandcamp

 

Dead East Garden, Dead East Garden

dead east garden dead east garden

There are five songs on the self-titled debut EP from Cleveland, Ohio’s Dead East Garden and three of them could be said to have something to do with cars – “Starting Line,” “El Camino Rock” and “Straight Burning Road.” That’s not a judgment, just a statement of fact. From the post-Pepper Keenan chug of opener “The Lurker,” one kind of knows what’s coming from the workingman’s heavy rockers, but “Mother’s Disease” fleshes out a less dudely aggro spirit with a more patient initial roll and satisfying lead work from guitarist Ryan Scheel. The beer-soaked vibes resume as “Straight Burning Road” comes on to close, vocalist Pat Homolish layering spoken and belted-out hooks as bassist John Roach (since out of the band) and drummer R.J. Drenski hold down one more straightforward groove, and Dead East Garden reinforce the plainspoken intent on display across the short release, as light on pretense as it is heavy on testosterone.

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Dead East Garden website

 

Pearl Handled Revolver, If the Devil Cast His Net

pearl handled revolver if the devil cast his net

As with their 2013 sophomore outing, This Mountain Waits (review here), the third album from UK heavy blues/classic rockers Pearl Handled Revolver, titled If the Devil Cast His Net, uses synth, Mellotron, electric piano and organ to explore a wide variety of moods, from the soft-guitar blues of “Someone Like You” to the rambling “Absinthe in Adelaide.” All throughout, the band reaffirm their mastery of these styles as they go, be it the boogie shuffle of “Loverman” or the side A closing title-track, which sets forth one of the record’s most engaging bass grooves under gravelly verse before moving into an extended instrumental jam, no less poised than anything preceding or following. That plotted feel is at the core of Pearl Handled Revolver’s approach – nothing is here by accident – and it makes their songcraft all the more inarguable, taking in a post-The Doors bounce on closer “Into the Blue” as they mirror the end of the album’s first half for another striking finish.

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Pearl Handled Revolver website

 

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