Friday Full-Length: Earthless, Live at Roadburn

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 13th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

Earthless, Live at Roadburn (2008)

Among the hallowed ranks of performances at the Netherlands-based festival, there are few that have earned the legendary status of that which would become EarthlessLive at Roadburn. Four songs, more than 80 minutes long, it’s a mammoth, beast of an undertaking. The year was 2008. I wasn’t there to see it, much to my chagrin, but Earthless had played earlier in the weekend and were taking somebody’s place or something like that, and next thing anyone standing at the 013 knew, the San Diego trio of guitarist Isaiah Mitchell, bassist Mike Eginton and drummer Mario Rubalcaba blew everyone’s ass out of the room. The proof is in the pudding and the pudding is pressed to plastic on Live at Roadburn — the three-piece rip into “Blue,” “From the Ages,” “Godspeed” and “Sonic Prayer” with authority well beyond what they showed on the prior Sonic Prayer Jam live outing or their two studio albums at that point, 2006’s Sonic Prayer and 2007’s Rhythms from a Cosmic Sky, which, like Live at Roadburn, was released on Tee Pee Records.

Though Earthless offered a number of splits in the interim, it would be another five years before Live at Roadburn got a proper follow-up in the 2013 studio album, From the Ages (review here), which not only featured a solid half-hour’s take on the title-track, which made its first appearance here, but fostered the same kind of command. In the years since, Earthless have been at the spearhead of a West Coast heavy psychedelic movement, touring the US, Europe, Australia — I don’t know off-hand if they’ve been to South America and Japan, but let’s assume yes — as one of its most essential bands and having a hand in influencing a new generation of acts grown up in their wake. If you think that’s overstating it, go and listen to those bands. Earthless‘ amorphous-seeming compositional sprawl is writ large on the jams of others, and while they’re not the only point of reference for the West Coast’s sun-baked vision of heavy — the heavy ’70s have certainly played a part in the development thereof — they are a key factor, inarguably.

It’s been over seven years since I last saw Earthless on their own — I did catch them with Heavy Blanket in 2014 (review here) — which by any measure is too long, but though their legacy has grown in that time and no doubt their chemistry as well and their methodology has shifted to include occasional vocals from Mitchell when it suits their purposes, the core of what has made Earthless so special is still present in Live at Roadburn, and I think it still comes through even eight years after the fact how utterly incredible this show must have been to see. Imagine being blindsided by witnessing the moment of this band’s arrival. It’s enough to give you chills.

Hope you enjoy.

I kept it pretty quiet, but I’ve been on a work trip all week. If all goes well, by the time this is posted I’ll be back, safe and sound, in Connecticut with The Patient Mrs., but as fingers hit keys I’m in Atlantic City, NJ. Spent the early part of the week in North Jersey, which was good since I got to see my family on the side, but came down to AC on Wednesday and have been here since, am very much looking forward to leaving. Not really my kind of town, haven’t been here since I saw Clutch half a decade ago or whenever it was. I don’t even know and I’m too exhausted to go chase down the link, but suffice it to say it was a long time before right now. Atlantic City is still a depressing place to be.

Being here for work hasn’t helped in that regard, frankly.

I’ve been short on time, haven’t even had a second to trim down the Greenleaf interview to be transcribed. I’ll get there. I promise I will. If not this weekend — because I might seriously put my laptop down after I finish typing this and not pick it up again until Sunday when I prep stuff to go up on Monday — then definitely next week. I’m just so friggin’ tired.

Monday: A full album stream from Atala. But wait, didn’t I already review the record with a track premiere? Yuppers. They asked if I wanted to do a stream of the full LP, so I said sure. Cool album, anyway, so screw it. I have no idea what I’ll write to go with it, but I’ve got a couple days to sort that. Also look for a Kaleidobolt track premiere on Tuesday and a King Buffalo review sometime before next week is done.

And sometime next week — not even gonna say when — I’ll announce two more bands for The Obelisk All-Dayer, which is Aug. 20 at the Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn. Get your tickets here.

I hope you have a great and safe weekend. I’ll be in full-on recovery mode until Sunday, at which point I have to take The Patient Mrs. to the airport so she can go to London for like 10 days with students. I’d be like mad about it if I hadn’t been to Roadburn for the last eight years. Ha.

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Comet Control Release Center of the Maze June 24

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 12th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

comet control (Photo by Melissa Boraski and Jennifer Keith)

Feels like a long time since Toronto’s Comet Control made their self-titled debut (review here) on Tee Pee Records, but it was only two years ago. Perhaps it’s my own impatience for a follow-up to that album’s alternatingly laid back and driving heavy psychedelia that makes it seem longer. That same impatience has me very much anticipating the June 24 arrival of the band’s second outing, Center of the Maze, also on Tee Pee. Fingers crossed the play between shoegazing sprawl and rhythmic propulsion is still in check, but something tells me wherever this one goes, it’s going to be a pleasure to stow away for the trip. And by that I mean I can’t wait to hear it.

The PR wire brings the particulars of the peculiars:

comet control center of the maze

COMET CONTROL to Release New Album ‘Center of the Maze’ June 24

Psych Rock Vets Take to the Skies on Shining Sophomore LP

Toronto space rock cosmonauts COMET CONTROL will re-enter the atmosphere on June 24 with their stargazed sophomore album, Center Of The Maze (Tee Pee Records). The band features vocalist / guitarist Chad Ross and guitarist Andrew Moszynski, each formerly of heavy psych champions QUEST FOR FIRE and garage rockers THE DEADLY SNAKES. The powerhouse musicians are joined in COMET CONTROL by Nicole Howell (bass), Jay Anderson (drums) and Christopher Sandes (keys). Engineered by Josh Korody (Fucked Up, Moon King) at Candle Recording, and mastered by Carl Saff (Sweet Apple, Earthless), Center of the Maze is the follow-up to COMET CONTROL’s 2014 self-titled debut.

Flooded with swirling synths, ghostly vocals and fuzz-bomb guitars that burst into flames in electrifyingly airborne ways, Center Of The Maze effortlessly merges the ethereal and the terrestrial. The album is a 43-minute collection of blinding explosions and brilliant fade-outs. Overdriven riffs reign supreme and songs build with a mantra-like power before collapsing into majestic dreaminess. Like watching a rocket take off at close range, the sound of COMET CONTROL is both exhilarating and mesmerizing, propelled into orbit by unwavering melody and unhinged creativity.

Ross comments, “‘Center of the Maze’ is about feeling comfortable getting lost.”

Track listing:
1.) Dig Out Your Head
2.) Darkness Moves
3.) Silver Spade
4.) The Hive
5.) Criminal Mystic
6.) Golden Rule
7.) Sick in Space
8.) Artificial Light

https://www.facebook.com/CometControl/
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Comet Control, “Blast Magic”

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Worshipper Sign to Tee Pee Records; Shadow Hymns Due in August

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 28th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

Congratulations to Boston heavy rockers Worshipper on signing to Tee Pee Records for the release of their debut album, Shadow Hymns, this August. The hard-driving four-piece have impressed over the course of two 2015 singles — Place Beyond the Light (discussed here) and the preceding Black Corridor (review here) — as well as in a live setting so much that they’ve already picked up a Boston Music Award and, more recently, won the Rock and Roll Rumble competition of local acts. Boston loves its own, to be sure, but even so, that’s a considerable response for a band who hasn’t yet put a record out.

I asked guitarist/vocalist John Brookhouse to comment on the signing and he had this to say:

“Holy shit! I listen to my copy of the first Graveyard record constantly and to flip it over and see ‘Tee Pee’ on the back, the label that is putting out OUR first record, blows my mind. We’re all really proud of how it came out, sonically and visually. Bob did an amazing job with the artwork, so we’re excited for people to see it in person as well as to hear it.”

Worshipper release Shadow Hymns on Tee Pee Records on Aug. 28. The PR wire makes it official:

worshipper

WORSHIPPER Sign With Tee Pee Records

Award-Winning Massachusetts Metal Band To Unleash Full-length Debut, ‘Shadow Hymns’, this Summer

Boston-based metal band WORSHIPPER has signed to NYC’s Tee Pee Records, the independent record label known for releasing landmark albums from acts such as High on Fire, Graveyard, Earthless and Sleep. With a sound described as “darkly epic”, WORSHIPPER has earned consistent accolades since its formation, being named the “Metal Artist of the Year” at the 2015 Boston Music Awards and, most recently, being chosen over 23 other participating bands as champions of the 2016 “Rock and Roll Rumble”, a competition hailed as “The World Series of Boston Rock” that has taken place annually since 1979.

WORSHIPPER will release its full-length debut, Shadow Hymns, on August 28. The record was recorded at Q Division, Mad Oak, and Converse Rubber Tracks Studios with producers Benny Grotto (Aerosmith, Orange Goblin) and David Minehan (The Replacements) and showcases WORSHIPPER’s melodically thunderous sound. Through its unique mix of contemporary and classic influences, WORSHIPPER prove that the horn-throwing soul of melodic heavy music’s past still burns brightly.

“We couldn’t be more pleased to be welcomed to the Tee Pee family,” comments guitarist Alejandro Necochea. “We think it’s a perfect fit and we are immensely proud to have our music released by the same label that put out some of our favorite records of the past couple decades.”

In addition to Necochea, WORSHIPPER features John Brookhouse (vocals / guitar), Dave Jarvis (drums) and Bob Maloney (vocals, bass).

https://www.facebook.com/worshipperband/
http://worshipper.bandcamp.com/
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Worshipper, Place Beyond the Light / Step Behind (2015)

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Joy, Ride Along: Been Set Free (Plus Full Album Stream)

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on April 27th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

joy ride along

[Click play above to stream Joy’s Ride Along in full. Album is out this Friday, April 29, on Tee Pee Records.]

San Diego trio Joy made their debut on Tee Pee Records in 2014 with their second album overall, Under the Spell of… (review here), a jammy, boogie-loaded outing that seemed to distill much of what has become identified with the boom in Californian heavy, particularly centered around San Diego in bands like Radio Moscow and EarthlessJoy‘s exclamatory third LP, Ride Along!, continues the thread, features contributions from members of those two outfits as well as labelmates Sacri Monti, and refines the band’s approach both in its making — guitarist/vocalist Zach Oakley also stepping up to produce at San Diego’s Audio Design Studios — and in style, Oakley, returning bassist Justin Hulson and new drummer Thomas DiBenedetto (also Sacri Monti) stripping away some of the expanse songs on their last outing offered in favor of a more straightforwardly structured approach, if one still presented through torrents of winding blues riffs, fervent psychedelic boogie and heavy-minded grooves.

The elements are familiar — guitar, bass, drums, vocals, a flash of organ on “Red, White and Blues” and elsewhere, acoustics on “Peyote Blues,” etc. — but it’s the energy Joy bring to their delivery and the turns their material makes that ultimately distinguish them from the crowded West Coast heavy sphere, and in accordance with being of their place and of the heavy ’10s pastiche, Ride Along! issues an invitation that’s hard to refuse as it careens through its 10-track/40-minute run with little care for what or whom it leaves in its dust.

If a release like Ride Along! is going to work in the slightest, vibe is essential, and fortunately, Joy have it in spades. As guest personnel come and go, the band retains a solid — and by solid I mean utterly molten — foundation of hard-hitting blues boogie, the entirety of side A making for an opening salvo that seems to have launched only to launch again, retaining momentum across the first three cuts, “I’ve Been Down (Set Me Free),” “Misunderstood” and “Evil Woman” just to propel itself yet again with the infectious “Going Down Slow” and the ZZ Top cover, “Certified Blues,” which caps the first half of the record. In that span, Joy still find room to jam, whether that’s the layers of guitar on “Going Down Slow” or extended solo section in “Evil Woman” — she’s evil because she left, if you’re wondering — both of which traffic in wah-drenched gnarl, “Evil Woman” adding a touch of organ along the way or at least seeming to as it winds its way toward a return to the hook.

joy

Classic heavy is a touchstone there as on the preceding “Misunderstood” and “I’ve Been Down (Set Me Free),” but the sing-along shuffle chorus of the opener sets the tone for a natural, live-tracked feel that may owe even more than it realizes to the likes of Nebula even as it seems to be Oakley working on his own and pushing up against Radio Moscow-style rhythmic insistence. Speaking of, that band’s guitarist/vocalist, Parker Griggs, shows up on “Peyote Blues,” and Earthless drummer Mario Rubalcaba contributes to “Evil Woman” and side B’s “Red, White and Blues,” the former also featuring Sacri Monti‘s Brenden Dellar on guitar alongside Oakley. The guest spots are a welcome touch — not going to argue against hearing any of those people play — but Joy make the album’s primary impression on their own, twisting and turning to start side B with “Help Me,” a rawer sound adding elements of unhinged garage rock that suit them well amid the maddening insistence of DiBenedetto‘s drumming.

Its stomp no less riotous than “I’ve Been Down (Set Me Free)” at the start of the record, “Help Me” pushes into “Red, White and Blues,” which hardly tops three minutes but remains a standout for how it begins to push against the straightforward take much of Ride Along! has to this point presented, refusing to return from its solo section jam and instead giving way to the acoustic/percussion fade-in of “Peyote Blues,” which seems a kind of companion to “Death Hymn Blues” from Under the Spell of…, though more brightly psychedelic. The entrance of drums and electrified soloing near the halfway point builds to a head, and though the roots might be similar, “Peyote Blues” turns out to be arguably the most adventurous arrangement on the album. Even so, it seems to thrust its way toward the finish, leading to the all-swing-all-the-time “Ride Along!,” on which Oakley howls out the LP’s title line and adds a kind of far-back atmospheric sense as it fades out long but ultimately quickly, letting closer “Gypsy Mother’s Son” cap Ride Along! on a spacier, fuzzier note.

Also the longest inclusion at 6:27, it basks in the chemistry between OakleyHulson and DiBenedetto, lead lines tossed in over warm basslines and enviable snare shuffle, wah, vocal reverb, weighted shove — and finally, the departure into the jam at about three minutes in, drums leading the way out on a (temporary) boogie excursion that effectively captures stage-born vitality as the entirety of Ride Along! has been doing all the while. They turn back to the chorus, offer a big rock finish, decide they’re not done, ride out another measure or two, and cut “Gypsy Mother’s Son” cold to end. One can almost hear a crowd erupt. And who would argue? Joy‘s fleet-footed turns, their catchy songs, their balance between tripped-out effects and air-tight performances assure that, once again, they live up to their name. They’ve had a few jammier releases in addition to their proper studio albums, so I wouldn’t necessarily expect Joy to be finished altogether with the kind of acid-vibed explorations they previously honed, but it would be wrong to ignore the quality of the work they’ve done in carving these songs out of those jams in the meantime.

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Blaak Heat, Shifting Mirrors: Molten Realization

Posted in Reviews on April 7th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

blaak heat shifting mirrors

Even unto their moniker, Blaak Heat remain somewhat amorphous. The band that got their start as Blaak Heat Shujaa with a 2010 self-titled debut (review here) in Paris and linked up with Tee Pee Records after moving to New York en route to eventually settling in Los Angeles for the release of the 2012 The Storm Generation EP (review here) and subsequent 2013 sophomore full-length, The Edge of an Era (review here), continues to change in approach and to progress on their third outing, Shifting Mirrors, issued through Tee Pee and Svart Records. In some ways, the 10-track/44-minute album is a direct follow-up to what Blaak Heat, as they’re now properly known, accomplished on prior outings in blending desert tonality and heavy psychedelic rock with Middle Eastern scales and folk influence, but particularly in playing up the latter and in working with producer Matt Hyde (SlayerMonster Magnet), the trio of guitarist/vocalist Thomas Bellier, new bassist Henry Evans (ex-Spindrift) and drummer Mike Amster have pushed well beyond even the grander scope of The Edge of an Era in their latest offering’s complexity and rhythmic insistence.

While cuts on Shifting Mirrors like “The Peace Within” and “The Approach to Al-Mu’tasim” make sense in the context of the last album and the one before it with Bellier‘s songcraft at the fore, the flow that Blaak Heat create and the clarity of their purpose in doing so are emblematic of a maturity in their processes that, by its very nature, couldn’t have been on the prior releases. In many ways, it’s appropriate that they’d finish this album with a song called “Danse Nomade” (I’m going to assume no translation necessary), since even though it’s instrumental, it tells the band’s story: Always moving, always changing.

One of the things that makes Shifting Mirrors exciting is that the listener can’t quite be sure where Blaak Heat are headed next, but there are consistencies from their past work. Their focus remains instrumental. They start with “Anatolia” and through “Ballad of Zeta Brown,” “Mola Mamad Djan,” the aforementioned “Danse Nomade” and the shorter interludes “Taqsim” and “Tamazgha,” nearly half of the album’s runtime is dedicated to instrumental tracks, and that’s to say nothing of the extended passages in “The Approach to Al-Mu’tasim” and “The Peace Within,” but where and when vocals do arrive, they do show progression. Part of that may be due to working with Hyde, but Bellier‘s vocals even on “Sword of Hakim,” which chugs into high gear immediately and only grows more insistent as it moves through its four minutes, are compressed, laden with effects and have clearly been carefully treated.

blaak heat (photo by Andrew Baxter)

This avoids some of the Om-style patterning of Blaak Heat‘s past work, and helps further distinguish the bass and percussion-led “The Approach to Al-Mu’tasim,” its blend of desert psych and Middle Eastern rhythms and vibes playing out with a sense of motion that Bellier directs in a way that emphasizes the growth of his control over putting these parts together to create a fluid whole from them. In addition, Amster‘s drumming throughout is no less creatively broad, and though sometimes tasked with holding together an exploration of guitar, bass and/or keys, Shifting Mirrors is equally rhythmically than melodically expressive. That’s true from the turns of “Anatolia” onward, but especially so in “The Approach to Al-Mu-tasim” and “Ballad of Zeta Brown,” which follows the spacious string interlude “Taqsim” and wraps the first half of the album with a wordless thrust that highlights Blaak Heat‘s ability to play up one side or another within the context of their sound — in this case, leaning more toward classic psychedelia.

They continue that molten methodology — shifting, if you’d like — through side B. Though less frenetic than “Sword of Hakim,” “Black Hawk” features a relatively straightforward heavy psych take, and hits its stride with a gallop beneath a dual-layered lead from Bellier that hits into a nodding bridge groove; something more grounded than Blaak Heat will very often allow in their material. Fuller fuzz rounds out as well, and lest the listener get worried they’re settling on more of a rock feel, the repurposed Afghan folk song “Mola Mamad Djan” moves more back toward traditionalism even if it is a fuzzed out guitar playing those scales. Percussion, bass, keys, drums and guitar, and other elements come together for a final apex that speaks more to a rock mindset, but clearly the the band are indulging other influences, even if working them into their own context. There are debates to be had about cultural appropriation, the history of European and American colonialism in the Middle East, and so on, but Blaak Heat‘s material, whether it’s “Mola Mamad Djan” or the 2:41 thudding/lead interlude “Tamazgha” that follows, is less about exoticizing an “other” outside of Western rock tradition than about bringing different sides together.

By way of an example, with underlying organ and fleet twists of groove, “The Peace Within” drives toward a penultimate start-stop apex that’s basically the peak of the album, and it does so with a mixture of elements from both sides, letting the real serenity come with “Danse Nomade” as Evans‘ bass holds sway and the guitar and keys push outward in desert style backed by bells and drums as they make their way toward a last, open-feeling solo and final crashes, organ scratch and shaker rounding out. One can’t help but wonder if Shifting Mirrors, as a title, is referring to the idea of a changing picture of the self — that is, the self as something unrecognizable over time. If so, it is fitting with the stylistic nuance Blaak Heat make their own throughout, since it’s something that half a decade ago would’ve been unfathomable to come from them. Among the greatest appeals of their work to-date, though, has always been that they come across as being completely unwilling to settle in terms of their progression. As such, I wouldn’t be surprised if their next outing takes yet another step forward from here, since they don’t seem to know how to move any other way, despite their songs’ head-spinning twists and turns.

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Blaak Heat at Svart Records

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Friday Full-Length: Quest for Fire, Lights from Paradise

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 1st, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

Quest for Fire, Lights from Paradise (2010)

The six years since its release have done little to dull the luster of Lights from Paradise (review here), the second full-length from Toronto heavy psych conjurers Quest for Fire. Offered up through Tee Pee Records, its eight tracks continue to stand out for their lush tones, melodic resonance and memorable craftsmanship, and in their peaceful, patient approach, Quest for Fire distinguished themselves from the jammier tenets of post-krautrock Europsych and from the focus on heft that propelled much of what was happening in North America at the time. From the gentle opening of “The Greatest Hits by God” through the soaring guitar apex of closer “Sessions of Light,” Lights from Paradise stayed conscious of the spaces it was exploring, and assured the listener followed the band through a series of subtly infectious hooks, the shoegaze-style vocals of guitarist Chad Ross keeping the flow consistent on the more active “Strange Vacation,” the shuffling “Set out Alone” and “In the Place of a Storm,” the entire outing as molten as it was dreamy. As it still is dreamy.

I was fortunate enough to see Quest for Fire early in 2012 (review here), as they were supporting Naam and Monster Magnet, and though they were missing bassist Josh Bauman, who plays on the record, guitarist Andrew Moszynski, Ross (covering on bass), and drummer Mike Maxymuik (ex-Cursed) held true to the fluid vibe of this outing. When the album came out, I attributed some of its laid back sensibility to a Dead Meadow influence, which I stand by, but the depth of what Lights from Paradise has to offer by no means ends there. To wit, “Confusion’s Home,” which ends the first half of the record, brings down the uptick of pace from “Set out Alone” and “Strange Vacation,” but the softer roll that takes hold as Ross asks the question, “What’s another word for ‘being alive?'” and the interplay of acoustic and electric guitars, ride cymbal and underlying bass rumble is like jumping into warm water. Through side B opener “In the Place of a Storm,” the folkish “Psychic Seasons” and the build of “Hinterland Who’s Who,” Quest for Fire show breadth of style even as they affirm the core vibe, and the nine-minute “Sessions of Light,” with its “I Want You/She’s so Heavy”-worthy leads, is as glorious a finish as one could possibly ask.

Sadly, as much as Lights from Paradise seemed to mark the arrival of a band whose work could’ve become a representative staple of Canadian psychedelia, it would be Quest for Fire‘s last. The band broke up in 2013. By then, Ross had already released his Worldwide Skyline (review here) album with solo-outfit Nordic Nomadic, and the self-titled debut from Comet Control (review here), with Ross and Mosyznski (who also plays in Wrong Hole), surfaced in 2014, also on Tee Pee. That album took them to Europe alongside labelmates Harsh Toke, and the group recently teased the prospect of a follow-up with the inclusion of the space-rocking new track “Axid Rain” on Who Can You Trust? RecordsSweet Times Vol. 4 split. What their plans for the future might be, we’ll have to see when we get there.

Closing out the week and not really closing out the week at the same time, since as I type this I’m waiting for Psycho Las Vegas to announce the last of its headliners. Of course, today is April Fools, so maybe it’s coming and maybe it’s not, but either way, I’m keeping an eye out and will post accordingly.

Tomorrow I’m going — yes, I’m really going — to see Bongzilla with Black CobraKings Destroy and Lo-Pan in Somerville, MA. The Obelisk is presenting the show (info here). You should come too.

I’m overdue for a podcast, and after the Quarterly Review this week, there’s plenty of stuff I’d like to share, so I’ll see if I can’t make that happen, but in addition to the review of tomorrow’s show, which I’ll post on Monday, I’ve also got a video premiere for Will Z., followed by a full-album stream from Red Wizard on Tuesday, a full EP stream from Cities of Mars on Wednesday, maybe a track premiere on Thursday and likely a full-album stream from Henryspenncer on Friday, so it’s pretty packed. Oh, and there’s an interview with Holy Grove that needs to go up too.

Speaking of the Quarterly Review — if you got to check out any of that, thank you. Those things are a genuine challenge to put together, but the opportunity to cover a range of stuff that I might not be able to otherwise is too much to let slip by. I’ll have the next one in late June/early July. I haven’t started planning it yet, but soon.

Hope you have a great and safe weekend. Please check out the forum and the radio stream.

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Earthless and Harsh Toke to Release Acid Crusher / Mount Swan Split LP in May

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 24th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

Alright, Earthless. Alright, Harsh Toke. Whatever you guys want. You want to pair up for a split LP out May 27 on Tee Pee? Fine. Just take my money. It’s yours. 35 minutes of unparalleled heavy psych instrumental West Coast madness? Just take it. Take it all. Give me two copies: one to stare at and one to leave on the shelf while I stare at the other one so there can always be a copy on the shelf.

I missed Earthless on their recent East Coast run because I am, well, employed, but their last album, 2013’s From the Ages (review here), continues to resonate, and I recall vividly watching Harsh Toke jam the hell out of a late-night set at Roadburn a couple years back, so yeah, fine. Pair up. You guys win this round. And really all the rounds.

Next round’s on me.

To the PR wire:

earthless harsh toke split

EARTHLESS and HARSH TOKE to Release Split LP May 27

San Diego Heavy Psych Kings Unite for Titanic Team-Up!

Sound-sculpting San Diego heavy psych titans EARTHLESS and HARSH TOKE have joined forces to bring music fans a colossal battle of the beasts! Titled, Acid Crusher / Mount Swan, the two track, 35-minute release will see a May 27 release via Tee Pee Records.

Prepare yourself, as 20,000 volts of concentrated electricity will rip through your speakers as the rampaging, psychedelic rock ‘n’ roll flows like molten magma, destroying everything in its path! EARTHLESS brings to life the towering, 15-minute-long song “Acid Crusher”, which collides head-on with HARSH TOKE’s 20 minute creation, “Mount Swan”. Don’t miss this mind-bending, man-eating, winner-take-all mashup of two of modern psych’s most monstrous mongrels!

“Acid Crusher” will tide over EARTHLESS fans until the release of the band’s as-yet-untitled new LP, it’s first since 2013’s epic From the Ages. Fresh off of a sold out east coast headlining tour, EARTHLESS now dives back in to writing for their fourth full-length, which is expected to drop later this year. Formed in 2001 by drummer Mario Rubalcaba, guitarist Isaiah Mitchell and bassist Mike Eginton, EARTHLESS creates energetic, free-thinking instrumental music inspired by an eclectic mix of German krautrock and Japanese heavy blues rock.

“Mount Swan” represents the first new music from HARSH TOKE since the release of the acid rock band’s 2014 debut, Light Up and Live. Equal parts atmospheric and anarchic, HARSH TOKE merges raging, blind fury musicianship with unprecedented white-knuckle volume abuse.

Track listing:

1.) Acid Crusher (EARTHLESS)
2.) Mount Swan (HARSH TOKE)

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Earthless, “Uluru Rock” live in Cambridge, MA, March 16, 2016

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Blaak Heat Release Shifting Mirrors May 13

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 15th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

blaak heat

Not saying I’ve heard it yet or anything, but the new Blaak Heat record smokes. I’ll admit to some skepticism on my part on hearing that Matt Hyde was producing, since I tend to be wary of commercial/hard rock producers working on heavy rock albums, but Shifting Mirrors retains its sense of space and natural feel even as the Los Angeles three-piece push deeper into Eastern scales, space rock, heavy psychedelic jazz, and of course, a healthy dose of desert groove. They’re getting weirder. I like that, and rather than hinder that process, Hyde seems to present it in full-breadth. It’s a better pairing than I expected.

Not that I’ve heard it yet or anything.

Shifting Mirrors is out May 13 through Tee Pee with another (I guess earlier?) release date through Svart Records. The PR wire has album details below, and you can also see their recently unveiled video for “Sword of Hakim” beneath that:

blaak heat shifting mirrors

BLAAK HEAT to Release New Album, Shifting Mirrors, May 13

Third Album from California via Paris Triad an Altar to Heavy Riffage, Mind Expansion and Social Insurgencies

Los Angeles avant-garde psych rock band BLAAK HEAT (formerly Blaak Heat Shujaa) will release its new album, Shifting Mirrors, on May 13 via Tee Pee Records. Recorded with Grammy Award winning producer Matt Hyde (Slayer, Deftones), at Megawatt Recording (Santana, Tool), the record builds on the band’s self-coined “Arabian fuzz” and is the follow-up to the trio’s 2013 Scott Reeder-produced full-length, The Edge of an Era.

BLAAK HEAT’s intercontinental desert rock engulfs your mind in images of mystic castle mirages, slamming both body and soul into an ocean of reverb fuzz. Formed in Paris by guitarist / vocalist Thomas Bellier (ex-Spindrift) in 2008, the band relocated to Los Angeles in 2012. The transcendental tension between the group’s heavy rock roots and its organic inclination to drift towards psychedelia pays homage to the vast collection of mind-expanding sounds the trio grew up on: neo-psychedelia, surf rock, spaghetti westerns, Middle Eastern scales and Far Eastern melodies. Shifting Mirrors’ is an album that is both intriguing and unrelenting, featuring 10 tracks that explore a range of tonalities, tempos and traditional soundscapes.

“We took our favorite Middle Eastern tonalities and reinterpreted them through the prism of our cultural baggage; weird European psychedelia, a healthy dose of vintage hard rock and some experimental jazz,” says Bellier. “With producer Matt Hyde, we were able to mix loud fuzz guitar tones with traditional acoustic instruments, such as the Oud and the Kanun. For example, the track ‘Mola Mamad Djan’ is an Afghan folk song for which we reworked the arrangement into something more rocking.”

Track listing:

1.) Anatolia
2.) Sword of Hakim
3.) The Approach To Al-Mu’tasim
4.) Taqsim
5.) Ballad of Zeta Brown
6.) Black Hawk
7.) Mola Mamad Djan
8.) Tamazgha
9.) The Peace Within
10.) Danse Nomade

In addition to Bellier, BLAAK HEAT features Mike Amster (drums) and Henry Evans (bass).

https://www.facebook.com/blaakheat/
https://www.instagram.com/blaakheat/
http://www.blaakheatshujaa.com/
http://teepeerecords.com/products/
svartrecords.com/shoppe/

Blaak Heat, “Sword of Hakim” official video

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