Live Review: Psycho Las Vegas Sunday, 08.18.18

Posted in Features, Reviews on August 20th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

psycho las vegas 2018

08.19.18 – Let’s call it midnight – Sunday night – Hotel room

Every time I walk down a long hotel hallway I think of John Goodman in Barton Fink toting his rifle and yelling about the life of the mind. “Look upon me!” and so on. That’s a fun association to have.

I had breakfast this morning at the kind-of diner here in the Hard Rock and it was the first meal I’d had in a while not made of a protein bar or granola and cereal. Not much time for that kind of thing, but I wasn’t sleeping and a little extra fortification seemed like the right idea for the final day of Psycho. No regrets.

Another busy day. There’s no letup here. Sets are full, and there are breaks between, but if you’re up for going, you can just keep going the whole day. It’s astounding. I’ve been doing my best to see as much as possible, but even that’s a fraction of the whole.

But, today was also the last day, so a bit of adrenaline to carry through is a fortunate happenstance. Flight’s early tomorrow, but that’s tomorrow’s problem.

Here’s today:

King Buffalo

King Buffalo (Photo by JJ Koczan)

It’s not like I’ve never seen King Buffalo, but I think they might’ve been my most-anticipated band of the weekend. Their upcoming album, Longing to be the Mountain, is a big step forward in their sound, and 2016’s Orion (review here) was already right up there with that year’s best offerings. They opened with two cuts from new record, playing the title-track first and then “Groundhog Day” before digging back to Orion for its own title-track and “Kerosene,” both of which were met with a relative uproar from the knowing Vinyl crowd. At one point early on someone in the audience shouted between songs, “Why are you opening?” and drummer Scott Donaldson answered, “I don’t know!” I don’t really know either, but Donaldson, guitarist/vocalist Sean McVay and bassist Dan Reynolds were a perfect start to the day, with the latter adding a wash of loops and psychedelic noise and transitional drones for between the songs, the build and fluidity of which were immersive in their totality. There was no moment that pulled one out of the atmosphere they set, and when the three of them locked into the heavier end of “Kerosene,” the room became a lake of nodding heads. I will consider myself lucky have seen them here. They made that room their own.

Indian

Indian (Photo by JJ Koczan)

The Chicago four-piece — playing as a five-piece with Primitive Man‘s Ethan Lee McCarthy sitting in on noise and backing vocals — were probably the angriest act I’ve seen all weekend. Or, you know, ever. The assault factor extended not just to the brutality of what they played, the chest-vibrating volume at which they played it or the harsh noise and feedback that infected every single break between riff after punishing riff, but even unto the bright wash of white light under which they played. It was blinding to stare at the stage for any length of time. So it was a challenge on almost every level it could be short of them spraying skunk scent on the crowd or something like that. The rhythms of bassist Ron DeFries and drummer Noah Leger hit through a surge of low end and were punctuated by a kick drum that could almost turn the stomach, and the tortured, disaffected screams from guitarists Dylan O’Toole and Will Lindsay that cut through all that not-just-aggro-but-really-pissed-off morass were just one more level on which Indian‘s bleakness was conveyed. If King Buffalo were easing the crowd into the final day of Psycho Las Vegas 2018, Indian were making sure no one left without a scar. Menacing.

Coven

Coven (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Legends, of course. What’re gonna do, not watch Coven? Of course not. Frontwoman Jinx Dawson arrived on stage in a draped coffin and was let out by robed minions, wearing a silver mask for the first song to obscure her face and underscore the theatrical cult rock vibe. Their 1969 debut, Witchcraft Destroys Minds and Reaps Souls is the stuff of cultish blueprint — the style simply wouldn’t exist in the same way without it — and Dawson and her also-robed backing band honored that legacy well. I’ve wondered as Coven have gotten back to the live performance sphere if they might ever do another record. I don’t know that they would or wouldn’t, or if they did what it would sound like — the band behind Dawson definitely brought a modern edge to those classic sounds — but it seems like a worthy pursuit. As it was, the crowd headbanged and took phone pictures at the same time and were no less into the revelry than Coven itself, which brought the atmosphere of ceremony in a way that reminded of the roots not just of cult rock, but black metal and doom and so much more besides. They’re a feelgood story for a band finally getting their due appreciation, or at least Dawson getting hers, but Coven on stage demonstrate the timeless vitality of what they did nearly 50 years go.

Black Mare

Black Mare (Photo by JJ Koczan)

I had no idea what to expect from Black Mare, and I was still surprised. Was it just going to be Sera Timms singing over drones, or her and a drummer, or anything. I don’t even know. It was a full band. Timms, who’s probably best known at this point as the ethereal frontwoman of Ides of Gemini but who was also in Black Math Horseman and shared vocal duties with John Garcia in Zun — which I’m still hoping wasn’t a one-off — was joined by her Ides bandmate J. Bennett on bass, as well as a guitarist and drummer, and with a swell of volume behind her, she came out an held the entire Vinyl room rapt. There were moments between songs of actual silence. No talking, no nothing. People were just waiting to see what happened next. With a cloak and face mask that were both gradually discarded, Timms brought her otherworldly vocal approach to a kind of dark-psych lounge feel, almost like she was about to book a show at the bar in Twin Peaks. Atmosphere and tones alike were thick as this version of Black Mare called back to the project’s 2013 debut, Field of the Host (review here) to open with “Blind One” before “Low Crimes” from the split with Lycia (review here) and “Death by Desire” from last year’s  Death Magick Mother (review here) seemed to move further and further into an alluring murk of melodies and ambience.

Enslaved

Enslaved (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Well, Enslaved played “Ruun,” so really anything else that happened, basically ever, takes a back seat to that. It would be impossible for the Norwegian progressive black metal powerhouse to capture the entirety of their 14-album catalog and their 27-year career, and to their credit, they didn’t try. With “Isøders Dronning” and “Yggdrasil” from 1993’s Frost included for longtime fans or those who’ve dug in deep, they were free to explore some more recent material — opening with “Roots of the Mountain” from 2012’s Riitiir (review here) before “Ruun” and including “Sacred Horse” from 2017’s E (review here) in a showing of just how proggy they’ve become. This was my first time seeing Enslaved with keyboardist/vocalist Håkon Vinje — about whose relative youth bassist/vocalist Grutle Kjellson joked twice on stage — and he absolutely nailed new material and old. Wasn’t even a question. With him, Kjellson, guitarist/vocalist Ivar Bjørnson and guitarist Arve “Ice Dale” Isdal, who I don’t think even owns a shirt at all, was new drummer Iver Sandøy. I didn’t know Cato Bekkevold wasn’t with the band anymore after 15 years, but Sandøy made his presence felt on vocals as well and like Vinje, was right at home in the songs. I’ve never seen Enslaved that they didn’t totally deliver, and I’m happy to report that streak is still alive.

The Hellacopters

The Hellacopters (Photo by JJ Koczan)

There are some serious fans of The Hellacopters walking around Psycho Las Vegas this year. Decked-out rockers, heavy-garage types, fucking classic drinkers, trouble through and through. Don’t fuck with those people. They’re the drunkard’s drunkards. Turbojugend jackets have abounded all weekend and it would seem to be The Hellacopters that brought them out. Fair enough. The Swedish rockers made The Joint get down like no one I’ve seen this weekend, and it was superlative. Superlative rock, as a genre. Lot of punk in there, lot of garage as well, but all of it was distilled down to the essence of rock and roll, and as guitarist/vocalist Nicke Andersson came out to soundcheck with the rest of the band, it was clear the room had been waiting for The Hellacopters to arrive. Andersson, keyboardist Anders “Boba” Lindström, guitarist/vocalist Andreas “Dregen” Svensson, bassist Sami Yaffa and drummer Robert Eriksson handed that same room its ass in short order. Good times, absolute forget-about-tomorrow-let’s-kill-it-tonight mentality, all-in, all-go, all-fire. Just right on. I’ve dug Hellacopters records and such as much as the next who’s like, “Yeah, that’s pretty cool, right on,” but seeing it live it’s much, much easier to understand why they have the cult following they do. It’s well earned.

Dreadnought

Dreadnought (Photo by JJ Koczan)

For everyone who could pull themselves away from The Hellacopters or for those to whom the straight-up rock wasn’t maddening enough, Denver’s Dreadnought offered an alternative in Vinyl. I’ve seen some impressive shit this weekend. It’s been a good fest, okay? Then I saw Dreadnought drummer Jordan Clancy one-hand cymbals while using his other hand to press the notes on the saxophone he was also playing at the same time. Dreadnought‘s 2017 album, A Wake in Sacred Waves (review here), was lush in its layers and as creative in its arrangements as it could be scathing in its blackened extremity, but I don’t think I’ve ever watched somebody drum and play sax at the same time. That’s a Psycho Las Vegas 2018 first for me. Guitarist/vocalist Kelly Schilling was playing a flute at the time as well, so he was in good company, and bassist Kevin Handlon and keyboardist/vocalist Lauren Vieira stood ready at a moment’s notice to take off into the next movement, be it Vieira and Schilling on a quick melodic duet, or strobe-accompanied blasting black metal, heads banging and screams utterly vicious. I didn’t stay the whole set, I’ll confess, but I was glad to catch what I did, and it only reinforced my opinion that they’re a band whose scope and execution are likewise admirable.

Sunn O)))

SunnO))) (Photo by JJ Koczan)

As it happened, I had a couple minutes to spare. As it also happened, drone/amp/riff-worship magnates Sunn O))) were going on in The Joint. Playing as just the duo of Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson, they were decked out in full grimmrobe regalia and surrounded of course by a henge of speaker cabinets. The floor shook, it was so loud. I hadn’t seen Sunn O))) in a very long time, and even longer with just the two of them — maybe never — so while the timing worked out for me to catch them because Vinyl was running late, it was a fortunate bit of happenstance working in my favor. There’s been so much said about the poetry of what Sunn O))) do that I’m in no way about to add any insight to the canon, but as far out as they’ve gone over the years and their intermittent studio albums, incorporating vocalist Attila Csihar and various other players throughout their time, seeing just Anderson and O’Malley together on stage, bathed in fog as ever (though the ventilation system was almost too good and the fog kept swirling away, needing immediate replenishment), reaffirmed the raw power that’s always been at the root of the band. Their project has outgrown being just the two of them, and I don’t think I’d trade the Sunn O))) discography for a hypothetical, but the force of rumble emanating from the stage said everything that needed saying.

Eight Bells

Eight Bells (Photo by JJ Koczan)

What a way to cap the festival. One more show in Vinyl, one more band I probably wouldn’t get to see otherwise. I was dragging to be perfectly honest, and as noted, Vinyl was running late, but screw it, I was already in, and Eight Bells were going to be worth the wait. The Portland-based space-psych-post-whatever four-piece vary in volume, meter, melody and rhythm, but are persistently spacious, and especially digging 2016’s Landless (review here), I was doubly interested to see Eight Bells since guitarist/vocalist Meylinda Jackson had a completely new lineup with her. Comprised now of Jackson, keyboardist/vocalist Melynda Amann, bassist Alyssa Maucere and drummer Brian Burke, the experimentalist side came out before the set even started in earnest, with Jackson taking some kind of voice box and running it through what seemed to be a host of effects to create a foundation of atmosphere. Drift was a factor, but Eight Bells were never actually out of control, and even for being a new group working together, what they played seemed well-honed and there was none of that awkward everybody-in-their-own-sonic-space-on-stage thing you get when a band is recently formed or revamped. I don’t have anything to compare it to in terms of Eight Bells, never having seen them before, but they held together a ranging heavy psychedelia that seems to be individualized no matter who’s playing it at the time.

I fly out of Las Vegas in about eight hours. It’ll be brutal, but I’m pretty sure I’ll make it, and if not, well, there’s always ‘wandering the earth’ to try. I hear good things.

Tomorrow’s pretty much all travel, so unless I have space on the plane to open my laptop — which I sincerely doubt I will — I expect it’ll be Tuesday before I get a proper thanks-everybody post up to wrap up this coverage, so with pictures still to sort through and packing to be done, I’ll just bow out and say thanks for reading and more pics after the jump.

So… thanks for reading and there are more pics after the jump. Ha:

Read more »

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SunnO))) Release Downtown L.A. Rehearsal/Rifftape March 1998

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 13th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

In case you’re wondering what might’ve driven them-lords-o’-drone SunnO))) to release their Downtown L.A. Rehearsal/Rifftape March 1998 all of a sudden as a limited LP via Southern Lord and Ideologic Organ. here’s the hard math: 1998 was 20 years ago.

That’s right. The Y2K scare. The Clinton economic surplus and beejer scandal. The seeming impossibility that we’d soon enough be locked into an endless war from which there’s seemingly neither interest nor ability to extricate ourselves. And also the formation of SunnO))). They’re 20 years old.

And what a 20 years it’s been. Talk about a band the world had to catch up to. SunnO))) started out playing rooms full of curious Goatsnake and/or Burning Witch fans and wound up influencing a generation of amplifier worship. As one might expect, the Downtown L.A. Rehearsal/Rifftape March 1998 is pretty raw, but also as one might expect, that only works to the band’s advantage. The more caustic and unlistenable it gets, the more their sound is doing its job.

They’ll be at Psycho Las Vegas in August, as the PR wire reminds:

sunn o rifftape

SUNN O))) Releases Downtown LA Rehearsal/Rifftape March 1998 Limited Edition LP

SUNN O))) has unleashed the earliest recording of the band’s monolithic tones, revamped for a limited edition pressing via Southern Lord Recordings, as the label celebrates its twentieth anniversary, as a split label release together with Stephen O’Malley’s Ideologic Organ imprint.

The Downtown LA Rehearsal/Rifftape March 1998 dates back to the earliest rehearsals during the genesis of the SUNN O))) project. The source is a C60 cassette tape recorded on a boombox, and the result is essentially an extremely raw noise/drone record. It was taped in the band’s early practice space at Downtown Rehearsal (RIP), Los Angeles, in a practice room which the band shared with The Melvins and Goatsnake at the time. The LP sees SUNN O))) founders Greg Anderson and Stephen O’Malley on guitars and stacks of amps, the original cassette was mastered by Brad Boatright February 2018.

Longtime/old school diehard listeners of SUNN O)))’s massive sound and those who have watched the collective’s transformation over the past two decades can find the brutal practice tape revamped as Downtown LA Rehearsal/Rifftape March 1998, available only through Southern Lord and directly from the band in a limited run on 180-gram vinyl LP – 900 black, 500 silver, 100 white, with machine numbering on the front cover – and digitally.

Find SUNN O)))’s Downtown LA Rehearsal/Rifftape March 1998 at Bandcamp HERE and find more purchase options at the band’s webshop HERE.

Downtown LA Rehearsal/Rifftape March 1998 Track Listing:
Side A:
1. Room 206 pt.1
2. Room 206 pt.2
3. B-Witch

Side B:
1. Room 206 pt.3
2. The Grimm Robe / Black Wedding
3. Mustaine / Thorns
4. M & D I.L.F.
5. The DJs

The celebration of twenty years of SUNN O))) and Southern Lord this year will continue with reissues of the band’s lauded White1 and White2 albums in the coming weeks.

SUNN O))) will perform live at the Psycho Las Vegas festival on August 19th alongside Godflesh, Goblin, Enslaved, All Pigs Must Die, Wolves In The Throne Room, and scores more.

Watch for further updates on SUNN O))) in the coming days.

SUNN O))) Live:
8/19/2018 Hard Rock Hotel & Casino – Las Vegas, NV @ Psycho Las Vegas

https://www.instagram.com/sunnofficial
https://www.facebook.com/SUNNthebandOfficial
https://sunn.bandcamp.com
https://sunn-live.bandcamp.com
http://www.southernlord.com
http://southernlord.bandcamp.com
http://twitter.com/twatterlord
https://www.facebook.com/SLadmin
https://www.instagram.com/southernlordrecords

SunnO))), Downtown L.A. Rehearsal/Rifftape March 1998 (2018)

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Psycho Las Vegas 2018 Reveals Lineup; Dimmu Borgir, Hellacopters, Godflesh, Witchcraft and More to Play

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 23rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Psycho Las Vegas 2018 logo

It’s only taken a few years for Psycho Las Vegas to establish itself as the premier underground festival in the US. All well and good. With 2018’s lineup, though, it’s time to start thinking of Psycho among the best in the world.

Sounds like too much? Consider Godflesh and Dimmu Borgir sharing a stage, both for exclusive West Coast appearances. Think of Sweden’s Witchcraft playing one of the two shows they’ll do in the US at Psycho, and ditto that for Japanese riff-madmen Church of Misery. Think of US exclusives from Lee Dorrian’s With the Dead, or Lucifer, whose Johanna Sadonis will also DJ the Center Bar. The commitment to up and coming underground acts local, domestic and foreign like Temple of Void, King Buffalo, Dreadnought, The Munsens and DVNE. Picture yourself watching Wolves in the Throne Room headline a pre-fest pool party with Elder, Young and in the Way, Dengue Fever, Fireball Ministry and Toke.

2018 is the year Psycho Las Vegas outclasses even itself and pushes further than it ever has in terms of stylistic reach (Integrity walks by and waves… at Boris) and the sheer power of its construction. If you’re looking for the future, you’ll find it in scumbag paradise.

Here’s the lineup:

Psycho Las Vegas 2018 poster

Psycho Las Vegas 2018

Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Las Vegas
4455 Paradise Rd, Las Vegas, Nevada 89169

Tickets: https://www.vivapsycho.com/pages/tickets

PSYCHO LAS VEGAS 2018 lineup:
DIMMU BORGIR (west of chicago exclusive)
HELLACOPTERS (one of two shows to be played in the USA in 2018)
SUNN 0)))
GODFLESH (west of chicago exclusive)
WITCHCRAFT (one of two shows to be played in the USA in 2018)
ENSLAVED
AMERICAN NIGHTMARE
HIGH ON FIRE
ROCKET FROM THE CRYPT
RED FANG
ZAKK SABBATH
CHURCH OF MISERY (usa exclusive 2018 with exception to one other show in San Diego)
TINARIWEN
GOBLIN
CKY
VENOM INC
EYEHATEGOD
VOIVOD
BORIS
COVEN
INTEGRITY
PALLBEARER
WITH THE DEAD (USA exclusive 2018)
MONOLORD
LUCIFER (USA exclusive 2018)
ACID WITCH
SURVIVE
DOPETHRONE
BIG BUSINESS
UNEARTHLY TRANCE
MUTOID MAN
TODAY IS THE DAY
HELMS ALEE
SPIRIT ADRIFT
BATUSHKA
PRIMITIVE MAN
DVNE
ALL PIGS MUST DIE
EIGHT BELLS
WORMWITCH
INDIAN
NECROT
HOMEWRECKER
BRAIN TENTACLES
CLOAK
BLACK MARE
MAGIC SWORD
UADA
TEMPLE OF VOID
DREADNOUGHT
WOLVHAMMER
ASEETHE
DISASTROID
FORMING THE VOID
VENOMOUS MAXIMUS
GHASTLY SOUND
HOWLING GIANT
KING BUFFALO
NIGHT HORSE
THE MUNSENS
GLAARE

Paradise Pool Pre Party
August 16th

WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM
ELDER
YOUNG AND IN THE WAY
DENGUE FEVER
FIREBALL MINISTRY
TOKE

Center Bar DJ’s
Andrew W.K.
Nicke Andersson (Entombed/Hellacopters)
Johanna Sadonis (Lucifer)

https://www.facebook.com/psychoLasVegas/
https://www.facebook.com/events/125340824913552/
http://vivapsycho.com

High on Fire, Live at Psycho Las Vegas 2016

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SunnO))) Release New Single; Announce Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 26th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Set to consume any and all light around them, as ever, SunnO))) have issued a new single as a name-your-price download and announced tour dates in the Northeastern US and Southeastern Canada for March 2017. In addition, the magnates of the form have also enacted a Bandcamp sale through the remainder of 2016 offering 35 percent off presumably as a favor to those of us whose finances are depleted as will happen circa the holidays. Some rare kindnesses on the part of SunnO))), who are much more known for the inherent cruelties and coldness of their approach, but take it either way while you can, since there are fewer darknesses out there more suited to January’s dismal stretch than that of the rumble and gurgle SunnO))) emit.

The PR wire has details, links and all that good stuff:

sunno

SUNN O))) To Tour Northeastern USA, Southeast Canada In March; Digital Bandcamp Sale And Free Track Available Through The Year’s End

The first set of SUNN O))) tour dates for 2017 sees the collective bringing their dense and arrhythmic blend of metal, drone, and minimalist music back to the Northeast USA and Southeastern realms of Canada for a week of performances. SUNN O))) will converge in Washington DC on March 12th, following with shows in Pittsburgh, Toronto, Montreal, Boston, New York City, and Philadelphia confirmed through March 18th. Support on all shows will be provided by Southern Lord labelmates, Montreal-based Big | Brave, whom have also joined SUNN O))) on their recent tours of the Southwest, Southeast and Midwest states and Europe.

This follows the recent announcement of SUNN O)))’s appearance at London’s massive performing arts venue, Barbican Centre, as part of this year’s Convergence Festival on March 21st. Support for the performance will come from Icelandic singer and cellist, Hildur Guðnadóttir, who has played and recorded with bands such as Pan Sonic, Throbbing Gristle, and Múm. Guðnadóttir also wrote the arrangements for the Wildbirds & Peacedrums session as part of the Barbican’s Nils Frahm curated Possibly Colliding marathon weekend in July.

Tickets for the East Coast shows go on sale this Friday, December 23rd at 10am local time. Tickets for the Barbican performance are available HERE.

As Winter Solstice approaches, SUNN O))) extends thanks to their fans for their support throughout 2016, and as a token of their appreciation, offer a free track as well as a digital sale through the rest of the year. Fans can now find the exclusive track «???? // ??» (aka “Aokigahara // Jukai” from the flexi 7″ which was released together with some vinyl copies of Kannon) for free download through the end of December at THIS LOCATION. To take advantage of the 35% Bandcamp discount, go to sunn.bandcamp.com or sunn-live.bandcamp.com and enter discount code SOLSTICE2016.

SUNN O))) Tour Dates:
3/12/2017 930 Club – Washington, DC w/ Big | Brave
3/13/2017 The Rex – Pittsburgh, PA w/ Big | Brave
3/14/2017 Queen Elizabeth Theatre – Toronto, ON w/ Big | Brave
3/15/2017 La Sat – Montreal, QC w/ Big | Brave
3/16/2017 The Coolidge – Boston, MA w/ Big | Brave
3/17/2017 Knockdown Center – Brooklyn, NY w/ Big | Brave
3/18/2017 Union Transfer – Philadelphia, PA w/ Big | Brave
3/21/2017 Barbican – London, UK @ Convergence Festival w/ Hildur Guðnadóttir

http://www.sunn-live.bandcamp.com
http://sunn.southernlord.com
http://sunn.bandcamp.com
http://www.southernlord.com

SunnO))), “Aokigahara // Jukai”

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Sunn O))) Announce Triple-Live Album from Moscow; Touring Now

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 3rd, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Originally slated to appear at the canceled Levitation Festival this past weekend in Austin, Texas, drone deconstructionists Sunn O))) are touring the West Coast now, supporting their late-2015 offering, Kannon (review here), released of course on Southern Lord. As they’re wont to do, the group have announced the release of a new live outing, this time a triple-LP captured last year in Moscow, Russia, for their first performance there. Release date is May 29, by which time Sunn O))) will have wrapped this run and be preparing to head out again, this time for a handful of Midwestern dates preceding two festival stops in Canada, which in turn precede a trip back to Europe to play Hellfest, etc., etc., point is Sunn O))) are fucking busy. You get the idea.

The PR wire has details and preorder whatnots:

sunn moscow

SUNN O))) To Release Triple Live Album From First Moscow Performance

SUNN O))) has announced the impending release of a brand new triple-LP live album, captured on the band’s first ever performance in Moscow last year, titled ??????: ?????? ? ?????? 11 ??????? 2015 (translated, NOLIFE: Alive In Moscow 11 August 2015).

In the summer of 2015, SUNN O))) was invited to perform in Moscow, Russian Federation. The experience and the concert went beyond everyone’s’ expectations…. extremely raw, punishingly loud, and ultimately transcendental. Capturing this intensity of this special show, the band’s set was recorded direct from the soundboard as well as the audience. These two recordings were conjoined and mixed by Joel Grind and mastered by Brad Boatright, both at Audiosiege. The members of SUNN O))) are grateful to the amazing audience in Moscow, all who attended, and their hosts for their gracious hospitality surrounding this performance.

Southern Lord will issue ??????: ?????? ? ?????? 11 ??????? 2015 on May 29th in a limited pressing on three slabs of 12″ vinyl housed in a Stoughton gatefold jacket with a digital download code included. Preorders are available HERE.

SUNN O)))’s late 2015-released full-length album, Kannon, the brand new reissue of the Dømkirke live album, and other titles and merch is available through Southern Lord HERE and Southern Lord European store HERE.

Following their massive performance at Big Ears Festival trailed by several other Southeastern US dates, SUNN O))) will travel to Austin, Texas to take part in Levitation 2016 with the likes of Brian Wilson, Animal Collective, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Sleep, and many more this weekend, followed by shows in Denver, Albuquerque, Tucson, Los Angeles, and Oakland.

SUNN O))) Tour Dates:
5/02/2016 Gothic Theater – Denver, CO
5/03/2016 Sister Bar – Albuquerque, NM
5/04/2016 Rialto Theatre – Tucson, AZ
5/06/2016 Regent Theater – Los Angeles, CA
5/07/2016 Oakland Metro Operahouse – Oakland, CA
5/21/2016 Moogfest – Durham, NC
6/06/2016 The Ready Room – St. Louis, MO
6/07/2016 Thalia Hall – Chicago, IL
6/08/2016 Grog Shop – Cleveland, OH
6/09/2016 El Club – Detroit, MI
6/10/2016 Hearn Generating Station – Toronto, ON @ Unsound Toronto at Luminato Festival
6/11/2016 Theatre Fairmount – Montreal, QC @ Suoni Per Il Popolo Festival
6/14/2016 Paradiso – Amsterdam, NL
6/15/2016 Vooruit – Ghent, BE
6/17/2016 Hellfest – Clisson, FR

SUNN O)))’s current tour will be followed later this month with the band’s participation in Moogfest in Durham, North Carolina on May 21st. In June, they will tour through St. Louis, Chicago, Cleveland, and Detroit on their way to tow major Canadian festivals; Unsound Toronto at Luminato Festival on June 10th, and Suoni Per Il Popolo Festival in Montreal on June 11th. The band then crosses the Atlantic for shows in Amsterdam and Ghent preceding their return to Hellfest in France on June 17th.

A September 2016 European tour is to be announced soon, including a performance at the Ruhrtriennale under the artistic direction of the Dutch director Johan Simons where SUNN O))) will perform in the Turbinenhalle at an old power plant called Jahrhunderthalle Bochum; The theme of Mr. Simons’ programme is “Seid umschlungen” (be embraced) – a gesture of social, political and geographical embracement. The tour will also include a special concert at “Labirinto della Masone” (Masone Labyrinth) opened in Fontanellato, near Parma in the northern region of Emilia-Romagna.

http://www.sunn-live.bandcamp.com
http://sunn.southernlord.com
http://sunn.bandcamp.com
http://www.southernlord.com

Sunn O))), 2016.04.05 Georgia Theatre, Athens, GA

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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.

Sunn O))) on Thee Facebooks

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.

Swallow the Sun on Thee Facebooks

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.

Beesus on Thee Facebooks

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.

Giöbia on Thee Facebooks

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.

Decasia on Thee Facebooks

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.

Sonic Mass on Thee Facebooks

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.

Wolvserpent on Thee Facebooks

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.

Delouners on Thee Facebooks

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.

Dead East Garden on Thee Facebooks

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.

Pearl Handled Revolver on Thee Facebooks

Pearl Handled Revolver website

 

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SunnO))) Announce Live Dates and Fest Appearances

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 8th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

sunno (Photo by Peter Beste)

Volume-as-religion drone pioneers SunnO))) aren’t exactly road dogs these days, but they pick their battles wisely. Next month, they head to Australia to play a whopping three shows, including at the Adelaide Festival, and in April/May, they’re back in the US for select dates around the Southeast ahead of a couple more fest appearances. It ain’t exactly five weeks of straight touring, road dogging it and sleeping on floors and so on, but I don’t think anyone’s about to hold that against them. It’s SunnO))). They should pretty much be playing museums and institutions of higher learning, so if it’s a fest, take it. Personally, I’d be way into seeing them and Brian Wilson back to back.

They’re out supporting late-2015’s Kannon (I’ll get there one of these days), which of course came out on Southern Lord. The PR wire had this to say about it:

sunn poster

SUNN O))) Announces US Live Actions Including Big Ears Festival, Levitation, Moogfest, And More

SUNN O))) has just announced a series of US tour dates for the Spring months, including several massive festival performances.

Following the band’s run through Australia, with shows in Adelaide, Sydney, and Melbourne in mid-March, SUNN O))) will tour though the Southern US in April. First, the band will perform at Big Ears Fest in Knoxville on April 2nd, appearing as one of the main acts alongside the likes of Yo La Tengo, Sun Ra Arkestra, Andrew Bird, Wolf Eyes, and more. The festival will be immediately followed by shows in Nashville, Athens, Atlanta, Jacksonville, and Tampa through April 8th. Later that month, SUNN O))) will travel to Austin to take part in Levitation 2016, playing Saturday, April 30th with Brian Wilson, Animal Collective, The Black Angels, Boris, Sleep, The Thurston Moore Group, and countless more.

SUNN O))) will assemble again in May, with a set at Moogfest in Durham, North Carolina, performing alongside Odesza, Gary Numan, GZA, Laurie Anderson, Explosions In The Sky, and many other artists. Additional live performances are also being scheduled.

The SUNN O))) touring lineup for these shows will include founding members Greg Anderson and Stephen O’Malley, as well as longtime members Attila Csihar, Tos Nieuwenhuizen, and Steve Moore (Earth, Stebmo).

SUNN O))) Tour Dates:
3/12/2016 Adelaide Festival – Adelaide, AU w/ Magma
3/15/2016 Manning Bar – Sydney, AU
3/16/2016 Max Watts – Melbourne, AU
4/02/2016 Big Ears Fest – Knoxville, TN
4/03/2016 Exit/in – Nashville, TN
4/05/2016 Georgia – Athens, GA
4/06/2016 Terminal West – Atlanta, GA
4/07/2016 Sun Ray Theatre – Jacksonville, FL
4/08/2016 The Orpheum – Tampa, FL
4/30/2016 Levitation – Austin, TX
5/21/2016 Moogfest – Durham, NC

http://www.sunn-live.bandcamp.com
http://sunn.southernlord.com
http://sunn.bandcamp.com
http://www.southernlord.com

SunnO))), Kannon (2015)

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SunnO))) Announce New LP Kannon for Dec. 4 Release

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 30th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

Well waves of dreams bear my heart for deliverance, it’s new SunnO)))! The lords of drone have hardly been inactive in the interim, what with the embarked-on live documentation project resulting in copious digital releases through Bandcamp, as well as collaborations with Ulver and Scott Walker, but Kannon will be their first standalone full-length since Monoliths and Dimensions (review here) was released in 2009. And if you didn’t hear that record, it was pretty much the sound of the universe being swallowed whole.

Kannon is out Dec. 4 on Southern Lord, which presumably was as close as they felt they could reasonably get to the darkest day of the year and still have it make sense to have a new album come out, and while art and audio are still forthcoming, the info on the making has come out via the PR wire, and you can find it below:

sunno (Photo by Peter Beste)

SUNN O))) To Release Brand New Studio Album, Kannon, Through Southern Lord In December

It comes with immense pleasure for Southern Lord Recordings to announce the advent of a new studio album from SUNN O))), Kannon, which will be officially released on December 4th, 2015.

Composed in the aftershadow of SUNN O)))’s most recent successes in immersive collaboration — the group having worked with Scott Walker on Soused, and Ulver on Terrestrials in 2013 and 2014 — and also from the broad and influential wake of their epitomic Monoliths & Dimensions, Kannon emerged both independently as a conceptual entity and with roots in the legacies of those projects, yet was fully realized years later in 2015. The album consists of three pieces of a triadic whole: “Kannon 1, 2 and 3.”

The album celebrates many SUNN O))) traditions; Kannon was recorded and mixed with SUNN O)))’s close colleague and co-producer Randall Dunn in Seattle, in Studio Litho, Aleph and Avast!, and the LP includes performances by long term allies and collaborators Attila Csihar, Oren Ambarchi, Rex Ritter, and Steve Moore to name a few. At the core, the composition centers around the dynamic and intense guitar and bass interplay of SUNN O)))’s founders: Stephen O’Malley & Greg Anderson.

It is possibly the most figurative album SUNN O))) has created, which is unusual as they usually dwell in layers of abstraction and subjectivity. On the other hand the album is the most outright “metal” in years, drawing personal associations and memories of cherished albums like Panzerfaust and Twilight Of The Gods again to the forefront of consciousness. Kannon is also very close to the cyclical character of mantra which the band has evolved into as a living creature, the enormity of intense sensate detail and manifestation of the live in concert element of SUNN O))), the organism that has flourished, metamorphosed and transcended tremendously over the past ten years.

The literal representation of Kannon is as an aspect of Buddha: specifically “goddess of mercy” or “Perceiving the Sounds (or Cries) of the World.” She is also sometimes commonly known as the Guanyin Bodhisattva (Chinese: ????) amongst a plurality of other forms. There is a rich lineage behind this idea tracing back through many Asian belief systems, with as many names and cultural personifications of the idea.

SUNN O))) commissioned critical theorist Aliza Shvartz to write text and liner notes around these ideas and topics. She also explores the relations and perceptions to their approach to these ideas via the metonym of music and SUNN O)))’s place/approach within the framework of music and metal overall. The band also enlisted Swiss designer/artist Angela LaFont Bollinger to create the cover artwork, an abstracted sculpture of vision of Kannon. French photographer Estelle Hanania captures portraits of the core trio (Csihar, Anderson, O’Malley) in the impressive and obscurant Emanuel Vingeland mausoleum in Oslo.

Kannon will be available on gatefold LP, CD and digital formats worldwide on December 4th, with a limited number of clear vinyl available on Black Friday RSD, Friday, November 27th.

http://www.sunn-live.bandcamp.com
http://sunn.southernlord.com
http://sunn.bandcamp.com
http://www.southernlord.com

SunnO))), Live at Royal Festival Hall, UK, 08.18.2015

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