Quarterly Review: Surya Kris Peters, Lewis and the Strange Magics, Lair of the Minotaur, Sonic Wolves, Spacelord, Nauticus, Yuxa, Forktie, Ohhms, Blue Dream

Posted in Reviews on December 14th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

I had a terrible thought yesterday: What if this one… went to 11? That is, what if, after 10 days of Quarterly Review ending today with a grand total of 100 records reviewed since last Monday, I did another batch of 10? Like a bonus round? Like I said, terrible thought.

Pretty sure it won’t happen. I’ve already got a review and a video premiere booked for next Monday, but I definitely had the thought. It was easy, of course, to fill out another 10 slots, and who knows, maybe this weekend for the first time ever I wind up with some extra time and energy on my hands? Could happen, right?

Again, I’m fairly certain it won’t. Let’s proceed with the assumption today’s the last day. Thank you for reading. I hope you have found something cool in all of this that has really hit home. I certainly have. We cap very much in last-but-not-least fashion, and if nothing’s resonated with you yet, don’t count yourself completely out. You might just get there after all. Thanks again.

Quarterly Review #91-100:

Surya Kris Peters, Ego Therapy

Surya Kris Peters Ego Therapy

Those feeling technical will note the full title of the album is Surya Kris Peters’ Ego Therapy, but the point gets across either way. And even as Christian Peters — also guitarist/vocalist for Samsara Blues Experiment — acknowledges the inherent self-indulgence of the proverbial “solo-project” that his exploration of synth and classically progressive textures under the moniker of Surya Kris Peters has become, with Ego Therapy as his second full-length of 2018, he branches out in including drums from former Terraplane bandmate Jens Vogel. The 10-song/53-minute outing opens with its longest cut (immediate points) in the 15-minute “Angels in Bad Places,” a spaced-out and vibrant atmosphere more cohesive than psychedelia but still trippy as all hell, and moves through a bluesy key/guitar interplay in “Wizard’s Dream” following the dancey thriller soundtrack “Beyond the Sun” and into the Blade Runner-style grandeur of “Sleeping Willow” and the video game-esque “A Fading Spark” before bookending with the sci-fi “Atomic Clock” at the close. I don’t know how ultimately therapeutic Peters‘ solo offerings might be, but he only seems to grow bolder each time out, and that certainly applies here.

Surya Kris Peters on Thee Facebooks

Electric Magic Records on Bandcamp

 

Lewis and the Strange Magics, The Ginger Sessions

lewis and the strange magics the ginger sessions

How are you not gonna love a release that starts with a song called “Sexadelic Galactic Voyage?” Barcelona vamp rockers Lewis and the Strange Magics embrace their inner funk on the 23-minute self-released EP, The Ginger Sessions, finding the place where their uptempo ’70s fusion meets oldschool The Meters-style rhythm, digging into the repetitions of “Candied Ginger” after the aforementioned instrumental opening burst and then holding the momentum through “Her Vintage Earrings.” Some departure happens on what might be side B of the 10″, with “The Shadow of Your Smile” turning toward pastoral psychedelia, still rhythmic thanks to some prominent wood block and xylophone sounds, but much calmer despite a consistency of wah and keys. “Suzy’s Room II” follows in fuzzy fashion, bridging the earlier cologne-soaked, chest-hair-out vibes with garage buzz and a heavier low end beneath the synthesized experimentation. Mellotron shows up and continues to hold sway in closer “Witch’s Brew,” playing the band outward along with layers of drifting guitar for about two and a half minutes of bluesy serenity that feel cut short, as does the release on the whole. One hopes they don’t lose that funky edge going into their next album.

Lewis and the Strange Magics on Thee Facebooks

Lewis and the Strange Magics on Bandcamp

 

Lair of the Minotaur, Dragon Eagle of Chaos

Lair of the Minotaur Dragon Eagle of Chaos

Once upon the mid-aughts, Chicago’s Lair of the Minotaur roamed the land as the long-prophesied American answer to Entombed, as much classic, dirt-covered death metal as they were laden with heavy groove. Their tones filthy, their assault brutal all the while, war metal, ultimate destroyers. The whole nine. They released their last album, Evil Power (review here), in 2010. The two-songer Dragon Eagle of Chaos follows a 2013 single, and was released to mark the occasion of perhaps a return to some measure of greater activity. I don’t know if that’ll happen, but as both “Dragon Eagle of Chaos” and “Kunsult the Bones” affirm in about seven minutes between them, Lair of the Minotaur remain a wrecking ball made of raw meat when it comes to their sound. The madness that seemed to always underline their material at its most effective is present and accounted for in “Dragon Eagle of Chaos,” and the stripped-down production of the single actually helps its violent cause. Will they do another record? Could go either way, but if they decide to go that route, they clearly still have the evil power within.

Lair of the Minotaur website

Lair of the Minotaur on Bandcamp

 

Sonic Wolves, Sonic Wolves

sonic wolves sonic wolves

Eight tracks/34 minutes of smoothly-arranged and well-executed doom rock brought to bear with an abiding lack of pretense and a developing sense of songcraft and dynamic — there’s very little not to dig about Sonic Wolves‘ self-titled LP (on Future Noise and DHU), from the Sabbathian stretch of “Ascension” down through the bouncing low-key-psych-turns-to-full-on-wah-overdose-swirl in the penultimate “Heavy Light.” Along the way, bassist/vocalist Kayt Vigil (ex-Pentagram, etc.) — joined by guitarists Jason Nealy and Enrico “Ico” Aniasi and drummer Gianni “Vita” Vitarelli (also Ufomammut) — gallop through the traditional metal of “Red Temple” and ride a fuzzy roll in “Tide of Chaos,” leaving the uptempo shuffle of “You’ll Climb the Walls” to close out by tapping into a “Wicked World”-style vision of heavy blues that casts off many of the tropes of what’s become the subgenre in favor of a darker approach. If their self-titled is Sonic Wolves declaring who they are as a band after making their debut in 2016, the results are only encouraging.

Sonic Wolves on Thee Facebooks

DHU Records webstore

Future Noise Recordings webstore

 

Spacelord, Indecipher

Spacelord Indecipher

There is an immediate sensibility drawn from classic heavy rock to the vocals on Spacelord‘s second record, Indecipher, like Shannon Hoon fronting Led Zeppelin, maybe? Something like that, definitely drawn from a ’70s/’90s blend. Produced, mixed and mastered by guitarist Rich Root, with Chris Cappiello on bass, Kevin Flynn on drums and Ed Grabianowski on vocals, the four-piece’s sophomore LP is comprised of a neatly-constructed eight songs working around sci-fi themes on bruiser cuts like “Super Starship Adventure” and the particularly righteous “Zero Hour,” as opener and longest track (immediate points) “For the Unloved Ones” sets forth the classic vibe amid the first of the record’s impressive solos and resonant hooks. Something about it makes me want them to go completely over the top in terms of production their next time out — layers on layers on layers, etc. — but the kind of false start Grabianowski brings to the ultra-Zepped “New Machine” has a charm that I’m not sure it would be worth sacrificing.

Spacelord on Thee Facebooks

Kozmik Artifactz website

 

Nauticus, Disappear in Blue

Nauticus Disappear in Blue

Six years after the release of their second album, The Wait (review here), Finnish atmospheric progressive metallers Nauticus effect a return with the 78-minute Disappear in Blue, which following the relatively straightforward opening with “Magma” casts out a vast sprawl in accordance with its oceanic theme. Longer tracks like “Claimed by the Sea,” “Strange Sequences/Lost Frequencies,” “Arrival” and “Hieronymus” are complex and varied but united through a deep instrumental dynamic that’s brought to light even in the three-minute ambient post-rocker “Desolation,” which is something of an interlude between “Strange Sequences/Lost Frequencies” and the tense build of “Singularity.” Other ambient spaces “Jesus of Lübeck” and the later “Whale Bones” complement and add reach to the longer-form works, but it’s hardly as though Nauticus‘ material lacks character one way or the other. Overwhelming in its length, Disappear in Blue might take some time to wade through, but what a way to go.

Nauticus on Thee Facebooks

Nauticus on Bandcamp

 

Yuxa, Yuxa

yuxa yuxa

As the greater part of anything related to post-metal invariably does, UK outfit Yuxa have their “Stones from the Sky” moment in “Founder in Light,” the opening cut from their self-titled debut EP, that most formative of progressions making itself known in modified form to suit the double-guitar four-piece’s intent with dramatic screams and shouts cutting through an ably-conjured surge of noisy adrenaline resolving in winding chug and crash en route to “Exiled Hand,” the seven-minute cut that follows and serves as centerpiece of the three-tracker. “Founder in Light,” “Exiled Hand” and nine-minute closer “Peer” are arranged shortest to longest, and the effect is to draw the listener in such that by the time the angular, purposeful lurch of the finale begins to unfold, Yuxa‘s rhythmic hypnosis is already well complete. Still, the straightforward arrangements of guitar, bass, drums and vocals give them a rawer edge than many synth- or sample-laden post-metallic cohorts, and that suits the atmospheric sludge with which they close out, harnessing chaos without giving themselves over to it. A quick sample of a creative development getting underway, though it’s telling as well that Yuxa ends with a sudden buzz of amp noise.

Yuxa on Thee Facebooks

Yuxa on Bandcamp

 

Forktie, EP

forktie forktie

The first EP release from Forktie — who stylize their moniker and titles all-lowercase: forktie — is untitled, but contains five tracks that tap into proto-emo post-hardcore and ’90s alt rock sensibilities, finding a place between heavy rock and grunge that allows for Aarone Victorine‘s bass to lead toward the hook of centerpiece “Decomposition Book” with a smooth presence that’s well complementary the vocals from guitarist Dom Mariano, their presence low in the mix only adding to the wistful feel of “Anywhere but Here” and “September Morning,” before the shorter “Spores” lets loose some more push from drummer Corey LeBlanc and closer “Ph.D. in Nothing” reinforces the underlying melancholy beneath the thicker exterior tones. It’s a new project, but Forktie have worked their way into a niche that suits their songwriting well, and given themselves a space to grow within their sound. Members experience in bands like UXO, Test Meat and textbookcopilot will serve them in that effort.

Forktie on Thee Facebooks

Forktie on Bandcamp

 

Ohhms, Exist

ohhms exist

As a fan generally of bands opening albums with the longest song included, I can get on board with UK heavy progressive metallers Ohhms opening Exist with the 22-minute “Subjects.” Immediate points and all that. Far more consequential, however, is the substance of that launch for the four-song/43-minute Holy Roar LP, which is the band’s fourth in four years. It’s a vast, broad and complex offering unto itself, consuming side A as vocalist Paul Waller embodies various entities, “I am wolf” (preceding a Duran Duran reference, perhaps inadvertent), “I am child,” and so on. Those proclamations are just the culmination of a progression that, frankly, is an album unto itself, let alone a side, and maybe should’ve been released as such, though the absolute post-metallic crush of “Shambles,” the seething of “Calves” and the heavy post-rock reach of “Lay Down Your Firearms” need no further justification than a simple listen provides, the last of them pummeling side B to a then-sudden stop. Ohhms are no strangers to longform work, and it suits them well enough to make one wonder if they couldn’t be headed toward a single-song LP in the near future.

Ohhms on Thee Facebooks

Holy Roar Records on Bandcamp

 

Blue Dream, Volume Blue

Blue Dream Volume Blue

Chicago four-piece Blue Dream issued their first LP, Volume Won, early in 2018 and follow with Volume Blue — as opposed to “two”; could ‘Volume Tree’ be in the works? ‘Volume Free?’ — which collects nine neo-psych-mit-der-funky-grooves cuts chic enough to be urbane but fuzzed out enough to make the freakouts more than just a come on. They open peaceful enough with “Delta,” before the hook of “9,000 lb. Machine” defines the course and cuts like “Thank You for Smoking” and the almost woefully catchy “She’s Hot” expand the parameters. I’ll take the dream-tone shimmer of “Kingsbury Goldmine” any day in a kind of self-aware reflection of British folk and/or the garage rock of “Shake the Shake,” but the dense roll of “Viper Venom” that immediately follows reimagines grunge as more than just an influence from three popular bands and something that could genuinely move forward from the perspective of a new generation. Hearing Blue Dream close out with the boogie of “The Glide,” one hopes they do precisely that, though I’d by no means limit them to one avenue of expression. They’re clearly able to harness multiple vibes here.

Blue Dream on Thee Facebooks

Blue Dream on Bandcamp

 

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Surya Kris Peters Releases New Album Ego Therapy

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 27th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Surya Kris Peters

Ego Therapy is the second solo outing of the year from prolific Samsara Blues Experiment guitarist/vocalist Christian Peters under his Surya Kris Peters and it finds him experimenting with the interplay of guitar and synthesized melody in instrumentalist fashion as well as working with his old Terraplane bandmate, Jens Vogel, who contributes drums to half of the tracks, including 15-minute opener and longest song (immediate points) “Angels in Bad Places.” Fuzzy guitar seems to be in conversation with itself on the layered “Wizard’s Dream,” whereas “A Fading Spark” is pure synth reminiscent of a 1980s vision of the future — is that you, Mega-Man? — and the subsequent “Every Master Has a Mother” brings together synth tension, organ and a sweet line of melody to affect a kind of wistfulness rare for something so outwardly proggy. Earlier cuts like the title-track present a full wash of tone with Vogel‘s drums pushing the proceedings forward, while “Beyond the Sun” brings Goblin-style atmospherics — I’ll assume that’s the John Carpenter influence noted below — together with a more rocking undertone that creates a standout vibe.

Or is it “Gemini IV (The Sky is Open)” that sounds like Mega-Man?

Either way, clearly it’s a varied collection, but the adventurousness of Peters‘ sonic palette and the effective nature of his collaboration with Vogel brings something new to this purposeful departure from familiarity.

You can hear the album in its entirety below, or grab a download as you will.

Enjoy:

Surya Kris Peters Ego Therapy

New SURYA KRIS-album feat. Jens Vogel on drums and percussion in 5 of 10 new tracks! OUT NOW for your plaisir, or a most appreciated donation. (My ice cream habit is quite costly.)

A promotext looks like this:

“Possible and impossible influences may have been John Carpenter, and also Carpenter Brut, Jean-Michel Jarre, Vangelis, The Pink Floyd, The Desert Sessions 1&2, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Isao Tomita and Reinhard Lakomy, but also early computer- and video games and spaced-out cartoon series like Saber Rider.”

This is music for nerds. Enjoy!

Tracklisting:
1. Angels In Bad Places 15:00
2. Ego Therapy 04:48
3. Beyond The Sun 06:06
4. Voices In The Distance 04:10
5. Wizard’s Dream 02:25
6. Gemini IV (the sky is open) 03:25
7. Sleeping Willow 04:20
8. A Fading Spark 01:56
9. Every Master Has A Mother 02:51
10. Atomic Clock 08:14

https://electricmagicrecords.bandcamp.com/album/ego-therapy

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Surya Kris Peters, Ego Therapy (2018)

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Surya Kris Peters Releases New Album Drones from the Wood as Name-Your-Price Download

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 8th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Surya Kris Peters

In discussing his new solo release, Drones from the Wood, below, Samsara Blues Experiment frontman and Berlin-based solo artist Christian Peters, aka Surya Kris Peters, likens it to his 2016 debut under the moniker, The Hermit (review here), and fair enough. Peters has been on something of a prolific tear ever since that record surfaced, issuing the Holy Holy Holy (review here) long-player and the EP 2nd Chances (review here) earlier this year — the latter not actually a Surya release, but one under his own name — and of course Samsara Blues Experiment putting out one of the best records of 2017, but Drones from the Wood (is that a Tull reference in the title?) is the latest manifestation of this creative hot streak, and it’s available as a name-your-price download now from the Bandcamp page of Peters‘ label, Electric Magic Records.

Get yourself some dronescapes. Go on, it’s been a long week. You’ve earned it.

Art, info, links, audio. You know how we do:

Surya Kris Peters Drones from the Wood-700

Chris Peters: “This is my 3rd longplayer as Surya Kris Peters, and the fourth full-length solo album including early stuff as Soulitude. With this one I think I am going back a bit in direction of “The Hermit”, mostly shorter numbers, a bit classical influenced as I felt I’d really wanted to do more symphonic stuff. Basically it’s a mixture of influences from the 70s (most of all Jean Michel Jarre & Tomita), but also a bit of romantic ’80s, and the bits of my own ‘weirdness,’ I guess. I might pretty much have found my own niche also with this project. Plus: This is also the first time I did my own kind of mastering.”

Music to be filed under: Ambient / Drone / Minimal / Early Electronic

Tracklisting:
1. This Great Delusion 05:35
2. Drones From The Wood 06:11
3. Escaping Suburbia 05:43
4. Far Away And Out Of Time 03:40
5. Intermission: Like A Breath Of Fresh Air 02:23
6. Once More With Feeling 01:37
7. Last Supper At Sakura’s 02:16
8. Plastic Flowers For Laura 01:45
9. Elysian Fields 04:41

https://www.facebook.com/sunchylde
http://electricmagic.bigcartel.com/
https://electricmagicrecords.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/electricmagicrecords/

Surya Kris Peters, Drones from the Wood (2017)

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Quarterly Review: Nibiru, The Ditch and the Delta, Cyanna Mercury, Surya Kris Peters, Golden Bats, Blind Hen, The Black Wizards, Low Flying Hawks, Brother Sister Hex, Cold Insight

Posted in Reviews on September 28th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk quarterly review

Ready for round three of the Fall 2017 Quarterly Review? I hope so, because it’s a doozy. Things get pretty weird and pretty rockin’ in this batch, and at the risk of being completely honest, I much prefer it that way. It’s a varied group — maybe the most diverse in terms of sound throughout the entire week, though there’s stiff competition still to come — and as we hit the 30th review, that brings us to the halfway point of the Quarterly Review itself, which if all keeps proceeding according to plan will wrap up on Monday with a grand total of 60 done. Let’s hope no pianos fall on my head between now and then, literally or figuratively. Onward.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Nibiru, Qaal Babalon

nibiru qaal babalon

The fourth full-length from Italian sludge ritualists Nibiru, Qaal Babalon (on Argonauta) is an encompassing, 57-minute grind comprised of four extended tracks, the longest of which is opener (immediate points) “Oroch” at 19:07 – a song whose depths run dark and cruel and which, even when the tempo pushes upward from its initial slow crawl, still feels massively slow. Still, the spirit behind “Oroch” as well as the following and much faster “Faboan” (10:51), the buzzsaw noise cutting avant insanity of “Bahal Gah” (16:40) and full-drone rite of “Oxex” (11:05) is less directly about the punishment itself than about the exploration enacted thereby. That is, Nibiru aren’t just heavy for heaviness’ own sake and they’re not just assaulting their listenership without reason. Though I won’t take away from its raw sonic impact, Qaal Babalon’s greatest asset is its atmospheric impression and the experimentalism it brings to bear, which moves Nibiru into a terrifying place sound-wise that they seem to have all to themselves.

Nibiru on Thee Facebooks

Argonauta Records website

 

The Ditch and the Delta, Hives in Decline

the-ditch-and-the-delta-hives-in-decline

Hailing from the unlikely heavy hotbed of Salt Lake City, Utah – though where better for a counterculture to emerge? – sludge rocking trio The Ditch and the Delta made their debut earlier in 2017 with the seven-song Hives in Decline via Battleground Records before being picked up by Prosthetic for this reissue. Comprised of bassist/vocalist Kory Quist (see also: Making Fuck), guitarist/vocalist Elliot Secrist and drummer Charles Bogus, the three-piece pummel handily throughout early cuts like opener and longest track (immediate points) “Hives in Decline” “Fuck on Asphalt” and the nodding “Sleeping Dogs,” but with the instrumental interlude “Dry Land,” they tap into post-Across Tundras heavy Americana and in that brief two-minute stretch deeply affect the mood of the release overall. They’re back to angular noise rock turns soon enough on “Till Body Quits” and the Remission-era-Mastodon-style “Mud” before alternating between lurching crush and airier prog/post-rock on closer “Dread Spectacle,” but by then the secret’s out of their underlying complexity, and rather than offset the sense of drive in the prior cuts, one finds them only enhanced by the later unfolding. Intense, and very much in the process of sorting through these impulses, but loaded with potential.

The Ditch and the Delta on Thee Facebooks

The Ditch and the Delta at Prosthetic Records

 

Cyanna Mercury, Archetypes

Cyanna-Mercury-Archetypes

From Greek dialogue in “Hermes” to the Nick Cave-style piano balladry of “Apollo” to the organ-and-handclaps Mediterranean pop underscoring “Lilith”’s boogie and the spoken verses and explosive hook of “Snake” ahead of moody closer “There will be a Time,” Cyanna Mercury’s debut long-player, Archetypes, seems to leave no sonic stone unturned. The Athens-based five-piece hone a thoroughly progressive approach across the 10-track/40-minute (plus a CD bonus track) outing, touching on heavy psych in opener “Horse Dark as Night” and injecting a darker theatricality into centerpiece “Ode to the Absent Father” and the later “Nothing We Can Do,” but refusing to relegate themselves ultimately to one sound or another. Elements of folk, heavy rock, psychedelia, classic prog, pop and more besides show themselves across what’s a legitimate head-trip of a record, and though it’s hard to get a grip on where Cyanna Mercury are ultimately headed with this sonic brew already so potent and already so much their own, they seem to be completely in control of how it all plays out in arrangement and songwriting, and they work quickly to earn the listener’s trust via a resonant overarching flow that renders Archetypes truly immersive. Will fly under most radar, but a stunningly creative debut.

Cyanna Mercury on Thee Facebooks

Cyanna Mercury on Bandcamp

 

Surya Kris Peters, 2nd Chances

surya-kris-peters-second-chances

Numerically-titled three-song EP 2nd Chances is – since we’re going by the numbers – the third release of 2017 from Surya Kris Peters, behind the synth-driven Dream Exit EP digitally-issued this past summer and January’s Holy Holy Holy (review here) full-length. With it, Samsara Blues Experiment frontman Christian Peters further expands the contextual breadth of his solo work, revisiting songs from his prior outfit Terraplane in the Mellotron-infused melancholy of “Smalltown Blues” and the quick, folkish rambling instrumental “Dark Euphoria” while also covering Jefferson Airplane’s “Come up the Years” between. All told, it’s only 10 minutes long, but Peters brings a particularly progressive psychedelic folk vibe to the tracks, and from the shimmering guitar lead that takes hold in “Come up the Years” and the intimate feel of “Smalltown Blues” despite an arrangement of keys, vocals, multiple layers of guitar and effects, an emotional and sonic resonance is still very much achieved. One never wants to guess what Peters will do next, but if he had a full-length of this kind of thing out at some point, you wouldn’t be likely to find me complaining.

Surya Kris Peters on Soundcloud

Electric Magic Records on Bandcamp

 

Golden Bats, Residual Dread

golden-bats-residual-dread

An underlying mournfulness pervades Golden BatsResidual Dread, or maybe that’s just the Brisbane-based solo-project of multi-instrumentalist/vocalist/engineer Geordie Stafford living up to the title chosen for the album on “Nothing.” Elsewhere, Residual Dread takes on guitar-as-keyboard plotted soloing in 11-minute closer “The Crows Build a Fire” and find a place between black metal and doomly roll, and add piano to tapped Godflesh-style programming on opener “Trouble in the Sewers” and bring organ to the relative bounce of “Eye Juices” as far-back echoing shouts provide the vocal presence. Setting elements against each other would seem to be a core aspect of Stafford’s intent, and the feel on Residual Dread is more about the smashing them together and seeing what happens than trying to gently meld one idea from two or three. That lends a raw, experimentalist sensibility to the lumber of “Outer Body” and “Into the Silver Valley” that serves them well, like a Large Hadron Collider driven by riffs and thickness of tone.

Golden Bats on Thee Facebooks

Haemorrhage Records webstore

 

Blind Hen, Life

blind-hen-life

In its first two minutes, Blind Hen’s “As a Monster” moves from electronica-style Euro dance rock to heavy-riffed progressive metal. Then it turns back. This is just the start of the Finnish four-piece’s four-track/21-minute Life EP, and “Titanic” follows stylistic suit with an even more intense thrust early before moving into psychedelia in its second half with an underlying tension in its beat to contrast the melodic wash overtop. The chugging “The Maze” is more guitar-led and straightforward, but even there, Blind Hen find room for nuance in their vocal arrangement, also bringing in acoustics amid the multiple layers of singing, and with a sample at the outset, closer “Catch” moves once again toward the danceability of the earlier fare, if in a via-Mr.Bungle rhythmic restlessness rather than the fusion beatmaking. Weird, weird, weird. What draws Life together is the fact that Blind Hen cross this aesthetic swath with stuck-in-your-head choruses as a constant, essentially giving the audience something to grasp onto while they go wherever they want in terms of sound. It is appreciated to say the least, and shows the band to be all the more attuned to their craft, even when they seem at their most unhinged.

Blind Hen on Thee Facebooks

Blind Hen on Bandcamp

 

The Black Wizards, What the Fuzz!

the-black-wizards-what-the-fuzz

If you’ve got 68 minutes, Portuguese four-piece The Black Wizards are ready to have a heavy blues shindig on their second 2LP full-length, What the Fuzz!, and I do believe we’re all invited. The nine-song outing emphasizes the vocals of guitarist Joana Brito, who emerges on post-intro opener “Freaks and Geeks” with a prominent kind of trilling in her voice of the sort Parker Griggs brings to Radio Moscow that holds for the duration as a steady presence. Joined by guitarist Paulo Ferreira, bassist/acoustic guitarist B and drummer/backing vocalist Helena Peixoto, Brito leads the way through the fuzzy rollout of the nine-minute “The Story of an Hopeless Drummer” (sic), stepping back to let the guitar/bass have a righteously nodding moment late in the track, but holds firm in a forward position on the short, twanging “Just Not Today” as well as the early going of the prior subdued-blues-smoker highlight “Floating Blues.” “Build Your Home,” “I Don’t Wanna Die” and the particularly-classic-sounding “Fire” revive the classic heavy rock spirit of “Freaks and Geeks,” and 16-minute finale “Everything is Good Until Trouble Comes” uses its extra runtime for a satisfying and patient execution with an expanded arrangement including choral vocals, organ and additional guitar effects. You might be boogied out by the time they’re done, but as The Black Wizards crash through their big finish, they sound like their party’s just getting started.

The Black Wizards on Thee Facebooks

The Black Wizards on Bandcamp

 

Low Flying Hawks, Genkaku

low-flying-hawks-genkaku

One might expect that with all the Melvins affiliation going on in the second Magnetic Eye Records full-length from L.A. duo Low Flying Hawks, Genkaku would sound, you know, more like the Melvins, but despite working with bassist Trevor Dunn, drummer Dale Crover and producer Toshi Kasai, and despite bringing in Buzz Osbourne for guest vocal spots on eight-minute opener/longest track (immediate points) “Smile” and side B leadoff “Space Wizard,” initials-only multi-instrumentalists EHA and AAL follow their 2016 debut, Kofuku (review here), with a sound even more their own, balancing between thick riffy rollout and post-rock atmospherics. Of course, they weird out a bit on “Smile” and the lumberingly spacious “Uncool” and “Virgin Witch,” but whether it’s the later mournfulness of “Hallucination” or “Twilight” toying with noisy fuckall while seeming to mock heavy rocker burl ahead of the melodic payoff in closer “Sinister Waves,” there’s more EHA and AAL in Low Flying Hawks than the prominent pedigree of their collaborators might lead you to believe. All the better for what becomes a richly satisfying 43-minute listen rife with depth, patience, and yes, personality.

Low Flying Hawks on Thee Facebooks

Magnetic Eye Records on Bandcamp

 

Brother Sister Hex, End Times

brother-sister-hex-end-times

Coherent songwriting rests at the core of what Denver’s Brother Sister Hex bring to their five-song third EP, End Times, which darkens up Queens of the Stone Age-circa-Songs for the Deaf vibing on its title-track (also a bit of Kyuss’ “El Rodeo” in there for good measure) before delving into more ambient fare on the centerpiece “Confessions.” Vocalist/guitarist Colfax Mingo demonstrates SubRosa-style vocal command there, but the context is more rock-based, uptempo and straightforward as she, guitarist Patrick Huddleson, bassist Drew Hicks and guest-drummer Jordan Palmer (Plastic Daggers) meld traditionalist structures with atmospheric moodiness. Opener “Hey” offers a suitable greeting through hook and groove, and the shuffle of “Sweet and Sleazy” and the rumbling fuzz (Hicks makes it a highlight) of closer “News Feed” wraps with another grunge-style QOTSA melody efficiently drawn, shouting the question “what have we done?” as it thuds into its second half. Uh, you’ve made a professional-sounding, excellently-constructed EP that shows you’re more than ready to embark on a debut full-length, permanent drummer or no. So yeah, get on that.

Brother Sister Hex on Thee Facebooks

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Cold Insight, Further Nowhere

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As progressive as it is brutal, Further Nowhere is ostensibly the debut release from Paris’ Cold Insight. The material seems to date back at least to 2013, if not earlier than that, when band-spearhead Sébastien Pierre (also of Enshine, Fractal Gates, and others) first issued what’s now tagged as a “pre-production album” version, but it’s hardly as though the lush, growling, melodeathly doom sounds dated. With sonic likenesses throughout to bands like Amorphis, Dark Tranquility and Paradise Lost, Cold Insight – on which Pierre, who also did the artwork, is joined by drummer Christian Netzell while Jari Lindholm adds lead guitar – hit on a very particular, very European style, and not an unfamiliar one as displayed in the righteously driving “Distance,” but the find-the-beauty-in-darkness spirit behind “Close Your Eyes” and songs like “Even Dies a Sun” and the more uptempo later piece “I Will Rise” help ensure that the formidable 12-song/66-minute run of Further Nowhere never gets too bogged down in its melancholy. It may have been a while in the making, and one hopes a follow-up won’t take as long to arrive, but the precise execution Pierre hones in these songs and the depths to which he can bring a willing audience are a fitting payoff for the years of work that went into their construction.

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Surya Kris Peters, Holy Holy Holy: House of Worship

Posted in Reviews on January 5th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

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As was the case with Surya Kris Peters‘ first physically-pressed album, 2016’s The Hermit (review here), the key to Holy Holy Holy seems to lie in evocation. This solo-project from Christian Peters of Berlin heavy psych rockers Samsara Blues Experiment began with the 2015 digital outing Status Flux and subsequent Moonstruck, and working with his own Electric Magic Records imprint (distributed through World in Sound), Peters embraces a broad creative freedom across the included six songs, the last of which, “Modular Mono Logic,” consumes the whole of side B at a grand and exploratory 21 minutes of layered modular synth, Moog, guitar, keys, programming, and so on. I’m not sure I’d call the album as a whole more experimental than its predecessor, since if anything, Peters seems more assured of this creative process than he did last time — that is, he has a better sense of how to make this kind of kosmiche progadelia work — but it remains far, far out even in side A’s guitar-driven “Schorfheide Blues,” which is about as close as Holy Holy Holy comes to rock-based composition.

It could well be this openness and creative range that lets the title have such a strong presence in the listening experience of Holy Holy Holy, in that just as The Hermit seemed contemplative and insular, this new collection flows together more as a single, outward-looking statement of worship, but whatever the case, it remains very much a solo affair on Peters‘ part. He handles all instrumentation himself as well as the recording process — his adopted moniker for the project, Surya, being a reference to the Hindu sun deity, further underscoring the idea of worship — as he brings together the two sides, each drawn from a separately-issued 2016 digital EP, into an encompassing 42-minute long-player.

It’s not long into “Leise Versprechen” (“quietly promise”), which begins side A’s series of five tracks — two more were on the original Schorfheide Blues EP, presumably dropped from Holy Holy Holy for vinyl time constraints — before Peters has built up from a low rumble to a near-orchestral wash of synth. He establishes a simple keyboard line early, however, and holds to it throughout the opener’s five minutes, so that even as the song more completely comes to life, its swell of volume carries that intimacy forward. In some ways, that’s the story of the record itself, and of Peters‘ progression as a solo artist, but as “Tanz der Wasserläufer” (“dance of water runners”) beams itself in like some deep space transmission of modular bleeps and bloops — or maybe those are intended to be drops of water? or birds? — the krautrock vibe becomes all the more prevalent, as does the hypnotic intertwining of layers.

Accordingly, the clarion fuzz of “Schorfheide Blues” — which if I’m not mistaken (and I might be, as always) is Peters‘ first guitar-led solo track since Surya Kris Peters emerged from his previous project, Soulitude, which released a lone full-length, So Came Restless Night (review here), in 2013 — is somewhat jarring, but the song’s quick 4:20 run does much to ground Holy Holy Holy before moving into the plucked synth strings and Mellotron-style sounds of “Soirée à Lunéville” (switching from a German title to French), which revives the blend of background wash and a relatively simple forward line, this time with the already noted string sounds in the forward position, almost making it a shame Peters titled another song as a “Tanz.” “Soirée à Lunéville” is also brief.

At 2:29, it’s the shortest piece on the LP, but neither its standalone impression nor its function in serving as a bridge between “Soirée à Lunéville” and “Nachtschattenspleen” (“night shadows”) are to be understated, the side A finale seeming to be an extension of the evening hours the prior track put forth, but broader and more spacious, a low drone beneath reminding that indeed, we’re in the dark. The falling waters of “Tanz der Wasserläufer” seem to make a return as well, and they’re the last sounds to go before the first half of Holy Holy Holy ends and a platter flip brings “Modular Mono Logic,” which was recorded in Spring 2016 and originally presented in three movements on the summer-released EP of the same name: ‘Gong Zong,’ ‘Rumba Elektronika’ and ‘All-Ein-Sein.’ Where one might feed into the next exactly I won’t hazard to say, but there are distinct changes in feel as “Modular Mono Logic” moves from its opening low-end undulations toward the final spread of droning swirl that consumes it, ending on a long fade of residual noise.

On the original EP, it also came with another track — “Talk to the Devil to Find God” — but on its own as part of this LP, “Modular Mono Logic” still qualifies as Peters‘ most ambitious offering under the banner of Surya Kris Peters, and with all the nighttime contemplations, spiritual searching and aural experimentation, “offering” feels very much appropriate as a descriptor for what’s happening on Holy Holy Holy. Whether that’s true because of the title’s power of suggestion or something else ultimately doesn’t matter, since at very least it demonstrates a consciousness and a purpose behind Peters‘ work in this form. One can only hope that will continue to develop as it has thus far and that his penchant for finding quiet spaces within his own soundscapes remains as resonant as it is here.

Surya Kris Peters, “Modular Mono Logic”

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Surya Kris Peters, The Hermit: Intricate Experiments

Posted in Reviews on June 9th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

surya kris peters the hermit

To be withdrawn is the principal aspect of bring a hermit. One pictures the long white beard of someone living in a cave on a hillside, who has removed themself completely from society and would rather be alone. Introversion taken to its most extreme end. Hermits also traditionally have the assumption of some known wisdom. Think of Nietzsche’s Also Sprach Zarathustra. We believe the hermit knows something because, since they choose to eschew human contact, they must invariably spend all that time lost in deep thought. It’s an evocative title for Surya Kris Peters‘ first physically-pressed LP — that being The Hermit, on Electric Magic Records — and the cover of the album shows the figure from the tarot card of the same name, underscoring the notion of wisdom at work behind the pulling of one’s self out of the larger public sphere.

It’s easy to see or at least to read into why Surya Kris Peters — aka Christian Peters, also guitarist/vocalist/spearhead of the off-focus-but-not-entirely-defunct Samsara Blues Experiment — might pick the title. Surya Kris Peters has had a couple digital releases out over the last year, and Peters‘ prior solo-project, Soulitude, collected home recordings for the So Came Restless Night (review here) album in 2013, but still, one might understand The Hermit as a phase in a musical withdrawal into the self, Peters delving in its eight tracks/43 minutes deeply into the roots of his own influences, blending electronic and analog elements for rich, varied, almost-entirely instrumental soundscapes and mood pieces that, in some way, define who he is as an artist at this moment.

It can be a dark vision, as on the penultimate “Chandra Luna,” which starts out with a rare moment of whimsy before shifting into slow-rolling synth march, or on the contemplative grunge minimalist guitar work of the earlier, shorter “Winterbottom.” The lack of vocals across most of the board — something Peters also chose to keep out of 2015’s Status Flux digital-only long-player — adds as much to the evocative feel as it detracts. We aren’t told directly what the percussive start of opener “Eremitage” or its space-synth/sitar are expressing, so we put our own meaning behind it. In that way, The Hermit engages rather than repels, working against its title to bring the audience in, and that’s a thread that continues as the album progresses through “Ragamati”‘s East-meets-West krautrock blend, the melancholy drift of “Snow Feather” after “Winterbottom,” and so on.

surya kris peters

Peters seems to be worried less about tying these pieces together than making them complete individually, but The Hermit has a certain kind of flow all the same — one certainly assumes “Moonstruck Serenade” and “Chandra Luna” are related thematically, based on their titles and placement next to each other — and while some cuts are more built up, as is “Ragamati,” a song like “The Legend of Raja Shakuu” basically relies on synth with a background of effects wash for its nine-minute stretch, so the context is fluid depending on the song, and though he quite clearly knows what he’s doing, Peters keeps a sense of experimentalism underlying the material here, so that creative growth is a prevalent aspect of the album’s forward progression. Indeed, it might be the defining characteristic.

Some of the tradeoff there is that at times the experiments can feel more driven by the exploration than songwriting, leaving one to wonder as “Moonstruck Serenade” gives way to “Chandra Luna” what live drums might’ve brought to the proceedings alongside the percussion deep in the mix, or even another player to join in on the fun with the analog synth — how these pieces could continue to be built out. That’s not the mission of The Hermit, obviously, and it’s not as though this material hasn’t been worked over, I’d guess meticulously, in its layering and mix, just that by their very nature, they lead the listener into a creative sphere as well in terms of thinking of directions they could keep reaching further. “Chandra Luna” boasts the only vocals on the album, and they’re buried deep and echoing, chant-like, so not much of an anchor there, and closer “La Morriña” (“the nostalgia”) brings together suitably wistful guitar and underscores it with theremin-esque resonance, giving a sense of weirdness to what would seem to be otherwise unabashed emotionalism.

Maybe part of that undercutting is related to the process of making The Hermit so personal, a deflection of emotional seriousness with humor — one could write a thesis on the psychology of solo albums — but either way, it’s a last-minute moment of quirk to follow-up on the intro to “Chandra Luna” and show that Peters isn’t completely ingrained in the expression of darker sonic ideas. Being so self-contained, Surya Kris Peters as a project seems like the kind that could easily become prolific over the next several years — one might recall that Samsara Blues Experiment worked at a pretty good clip between records as well for a while there — but whatever happens going forward, as the first physical release, The Hermit represents Peters‘ creative breadth well and communicates far more to its audience than its antisocial title might indicate.

Surya Kris Peters, The Hermit (2016)

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Surya Kris Peters’ The Hermit LP Available to Preorder

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 18th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Surya Kris Peters, the solo vehicle of Christian Peters, guitarist/vocalist of Samsara Blues Experiment, has two albums under its belt already in last year’s Status Flux and Moonstruck, but The Hermit is the first of his outings to receive a vinyl release. Available to preorder now through Electric Magic Records, the record can also be streamed in full on the label’s Bandcamp (see embed below) and brings together instrumental experimentation and far-ranging psychedelic meditations with a personal sense of intimacy in the creative act. Here delving into classic organ, there exploring a soundscaping drone, it’s an album that has about as many sides to its personality as it has tracks, but there’s a hypnotic current overriding as well, so it’s still possible to get lost in it.

As, of course, you’re welcome to do in checking out the album below. Release info follows:

surya kris peters the hermit

Kosmic Kris’ new soloalbum LP is now available for preorder. This is limited to only 100 pieces of white wax, with screenprinted artwork and the seductive smell of creativity… don’t expect rock music, expect the higher realm of sonic bliss.

Introspective, contemplative, evocative: SURYA KRIS PETERS is the soloproject of Samsara Blues Experiment-mainbrain Christian Peters. His first LP “The Hermit” offers a selection of the previously only digitally released albums “Status Flux” (Aug 2015) and “Moonstruck” (Jan 2016). “The Hermit” can be seen as a summary of Peters´ musical influences reaching from childhood memories of Mike Oldfield and Bedrich Smetana to adolescent impressions by Trance To The Sun and Saturnia, sprinkles of Krautrock (esp. Popol Vuh and Klaus Schulze), and actual favorites like synthesizer drone-minimalist Eliane Radigue and sounds from Far East by artists like Osamu Kitajima and Ananda Shankar. While being rooted in the early days of electronic music Surya Kris Peters yet takes on a different approach. He masters to add his own perspective to music without being nostalgic.

This first LP-edition is limited to 100 items of virgin-white vinyl with silkscreened artwork and handwritten labels. A true work of art, and soon a collectors item!

1. Eremitage 05:12
2. Ragamati 04:50
3. Winterbottom 02:26
4. Snow Feather 05:35
5. The Legend Of Raja Shakuu 09:18
6. Moonstruck Serenade 02:59
7. Chandra Luna 09:38
8. La Morriña 03:42

http://electricmagic.bigcartel.com/product/surya-kris-peters-the-hermit-lp
https://electricmagicrecords.bandcamp.com/album/the-hermit
https://www.facebook.com/electricmagicrecords/

Surya Kris Peters, The Hermit (2016)

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