Posted in On Wax on December 19th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Austin-based Mark Deutrom and North Carolinians The Asound team up for a split 7″ released through Tsuguri Records, the imprint helmed by Asound bassist Jon Cox. One track from each outfit is included, Deutrom – who has a new band going called Bellringer (more on them to come) and has collaborated with no shortage of others but is probably best known for playing bass in the Melvins during their Stoner Witch era — tossing in a quick, punkish burst of an A-side in “Mini-Skirt,” while The Asound let their riffs breathe a little more on side B with “The Chief of Thieves,” a steady roll captured raw and suited to the 7″ form. Sound-wise, it’s not so different from their recent live split with Lenoir Swingers Club (review here), but the output is clear enough to indicate a studio recording, even if it’s one still punk enough to warrant the black and while cover art on the 7″ sleeve — a traditionalism well suited to both inclusions.
Deutrom reportedly recorded “Mini-Skirt” at the same time he tracked the jazzy solo offering Brief Sensuality and Western Violence (review here), and with Aaron Lack on drums, what might’ve been left off the record on account of not fitting sonically earns a distinctive place here via thickened shuffle and unceasing forward motion. Easy enough to be reminded of Butthole Surfers and the Melvins both, but “Mini-Skirt” makes its point in the unflinching, almost garage-sounding nature and in its quick-turning solo culmination. Where the record from whence it doesn’t come was a headier affair, “Mini-Skirt” is simple and decidedly anti-progressive, a sprint put to tape. It contrasts effectively with The Asound‘s “The Chief of Thieves,” which keeps to a slower pace, but the two find common ground in their rougher-edged production an in the density of their tones, the fervency of their crash and the efficiency with which they deal out their riffing.
Guitarist/vocalist Chad Wyrick leads the proceedings for The Asound, with Cox and drummer Michael Crump following the lurching groove set by the guitars more or less for the duration. It’s a riff worth basing a song around, and even the solo section in the second half seems to base its rhythm around that same movement, the vocals by then having dropped out to let the band get to the heart of the matter. No question the B-side is longer than the A, but in the context of what they’re doing, Wyrick‘s singing over the wailing distortion recalling some of Floor‘s appeal in combining doom and more accessible sonic forms, I don’t think I’d call “The Chief of Thieves” less productive than its companion, only going for — and, I’d argue, hitting the mark — on a different side of the same style. The Asound end after all that rolling on a quick-fading feedback that calls to mind the constraints of the format. That is, there’s nothing sonically to make me think that riff couldn’t have gone on another seven minutes or so.
But then it would be an entirely different kind of release — and Deutrom would probably need more than one song — so I’ll instead take the tight-packed grooves on the platter itself to stand as a visual metaphor for what “The Chief of Thieves” has to offer during playback. The 7″ is limited to 200 copies in green or black vinyl, and while it might be a stopgap for both parties concerned, it also asks next to no indulgence on the part of its audience and easily proves worth the time it takes to listen.
Posted in Whathaveyou on December 10th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Austin heavy rockers Sweat Lodge will release their debut full-length, Talismana, on Ripple Music. The well-vested four-piece are streaming the song “Slow Burn (Reprise)” from the album on their Bandcamp, and in a little over two minutes, it gives a sense of psychedelic flourish on top of a big-riffed rollout, echoing vocals and a cool experimental vibe. I bet they’d kill it on a show with The Well.
No exact release date for Talismana yet, but I’ve seen both “early 2015″ and “Spring 2015,” so let’s say sometime before June? Super.
The PR wire brings context:
SWEAT LODGE: Austin Heavy Psych Act Signs With Ripple Music; New Track From Upcoming Album Talismana Streaming Now On Bandcamp
Austin, TX’s heavy psychedelic act SWEAT LODGE has signed with Ripple Music and their new album, Talismana, will be out in early 2015. Keep an eye out for more details in the coming weeks, but for now, you can get a taste of the new album by clearing yourself an area to rock out and streaming the infectiously groovy track “Slow Burn” on Bandcamp.
Sweat Lodge are aptly named, as the sound produced by this Austin TX, vibe tribe is best experienced in a dark, smoke filled room. Eschewing modern tendencies in heavy music to rely on brute force, the group combines epic, technical songwriting with enough neolithic heaviness to keep the cavemen happy. Beginning as a bass/drums/vox trio in summer 2010, the band developed a groove-laden sound that relied on Caleb Dawson’s heavy yet nuanced backbeat and the saturated tone of Austin “The Shock” Shockley’s gnarled bass-fuzz, laying the foundation for singer Cody Lee’s soaring vocals. As heard on their cardinal self-titled 7” recorded the following year with Orville Neeley (OBN III’s, Bad Sports etc.) the tight, dynamic rhythm section and commanding vocals deliver the songs expertly, but their ambition to expand sonically would require the addition of 6-string guitar. Enter guitarist Javier Gardea and permanent addition to the groups lineup,guitarist Dustin Anderson,who play off of one another to create a web of intricate melodic sections matched with one-ton riffs and passages of hypnotic psychedelia. In the two years since,the group’s sound has gotten bigger and better, culminating in the recording of the group’s first LP.
The debut full-length Talismana tackles the ponderous concept of man finding his place in the universe and the many physical and spiritual hurdles one faces in the process. In using the concept of the talisman as protection against evil and vice as well as a catalyst for change in the self and society as a whole, frontman Lee uses his songs as a platform to address the metaphysical and psychological plight of modern man through the lense of ancient wisdom and magical practice. Much like the ceremonial lodge which inspired their name, the music of Sweat Lodge offers enlightenment and purification to those who can stand the heat.
Look for more info on Talismana, Sweat Lodge’s Ripple Music debut album, in the coming weeks!
Well, Texas duo Stone Machine Electric didn’t call it Garage Tape because they broke the bank and spent half a million dollars recording it, but don’t be put off. While the title speaks to the DIY nature of its origins, Garage Tape actually sounds clear and warm enough to get its message across. Guitarist William “Dub” Irvin and drummer Mark Kitchens tracked the release — which is comprised of two extended improvisations — in the actual garage of the latter with Erik Carson of Tin Can Records, who also mixed and mastered the tape, on July 26, 2014. Their mission, as they put it, was to give listeners a raw look at their creative process, and as time goes on, they seem to be driving further toward making jamming central to that. The chemistry between Irvin and Kitchens is undeniable (their connection has resulted in a number of come-and-gone-again bassists) across each of Garage Tape‘s component halves, duly named on the translucent blue cassette as “Side A” (20:52) and “Side B” (21;39), and the languid, thick-toned rollout that ensues is only given more of a demo feel with the analog hiss of a tape beneath.
At one point relatively late into side A, Irvin seems to loop a rhythm track and proceeds to solo over it. That’s a progression that fades out as the first of the tape ends (there’s a bit of silence since “Side B’ is longer) and in again as the second half begins, so yeah, I have no trouble believing that Stone Machine Electric played out the material for Garage Tape live in one whole jam. In that way, breaking it up into two sides actually kind of interrupts the flow for a minute, but honestly, if after the 20 minutes of “Side A” are done, you’re not completely immersed in Irvin and Kitchens‘ hypnotic repetitions, it probably wasn’t going to happen at all. As they push closer to the core of their own creativity, their material becomes more fluid, extended and accomplished, but if you can’t get down with improv heavy jamming, Garage Tape isn’t the place to start, even with Irvin‘s effects experiments throughout, “Side B” seeming to bubble with Echoplex-style pulsations behind its airy soloing and rhythm track to which, to Kitchens‘ credit, the drums hold firm, shifting as the six-minute mark of “Side B” approaches to drive the jam into its next stage. This conversation between drummer and guitarist takes place in the several movements of “Side A” as well, and it’s clearly a language that’s developed between the two players over their time together.
On the other hand, if you’re someone who can hang with a 40-minute getdown, Stone Machine Electric‘s Garage Tape cycles through this-could-be-a-song-oh-wait-let’s-try-this riffy movements with an utter lack of pretense and a molten fluidity that a still-limited number of bands in the US seem keen on portraying at all, let alone developing or using as the basis for their approach. That makes Garage Tape a bolder release, though honestly it’s not like Stone Machine Electric have been stifling impulses to-date, whether it’s their 2013 self-titled full-length (review here) or subsequent live outing, 2013.02.07. One could easily see that live set as a manifestation of the same impulse driving Garage Tape – to put as little space as possible between the band’s processes and the listener’s experience — but Garage Tape gets more to the heart of where they’re coming from and what they have to offer those who’d take them on. It’s an admirable goal and an admirable jam, and with their experimental will reinforced via a download called “Side C” that collaborates with Arlington-based noisemaker the owl and the octopus to remix and retool a 20-minute version of the initial Kitchens and Irvin jam, Garage Tape still shows there’s more weirdness to come from the duo, who’ve always excelled in that regard.
Posted in Whathaveyou on December 4th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
On March 17, Texas riffers Wo Fat will release Live Juju: Wo Fat at Freak Valley. Their first official live album, it was recorded earlier this year as the name implies at Germany’s Freak Valley festival, which was part of Wo Fat‘s “Texas Takeover” European tour with Mothership, and is available to preorder now through the Dallas trio’s own Fuzz Lab Records in a limited vinyl pressing of 500 copies.
Guitarist/vocalist Kent Stump of Wo Fat – who’ve already put out one of 2014’s best records in the form of The Conjuring (review here) on Small Stone – offered this comment on the new release and what was clearly a special performance for the band:
“Freak Valley was one of the highlights of what was a pretty smokin’ European tour that we did last spring. It was a transcendent experience for us to be a part of this amazing event with such a killer lineup of bands and the support of so many great fans. We decided to call the album Live Juju partly to try and convey some of the magic that was in the air that day that started out cold and wet and turned into a beautiful sunny spring day not long before our set.”
Preorders for Live Juju: Wo Fat at Freak Valley come with an immediate download of “Read the Omens,” which featured in their 40-minute Freak Valley set from The Conjuring. More info on the release follows here, courtesy of the band:
Recorded Live at Freak Valley, Netphen, Germany, May 30, 2014 by Jens Hunecke of Heinen Studios Mixed By Kent Stump at Crystal Clear Sound Mastered by Nolan Brett at Crystal Clear Sound Released by Fuzz Lab Records
The vinyl will include a download immediately of one song and a download of the entire album on the release date.
Track List: 1. The Black Code 2. Read the Omens 3. Bayou Juju 4. Enter the Riffian 5. Sleep of the Black Lotus
Recorded Live at Freak Valley, Netphen, Germany, May 30, 2014 by Jens Hunecke of Heinen Studios Mixed By Kent Stump at Crystal Clear Sound Mastered by Nolan Brett at Crystal Clear Sound Released by Fuzz Lab Records
Posted in audiObelisk on December 2nd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Available now to preorder from Tofu Carnage Records in a 200-gram, translucent red-and-purple-with-blue-splatter pressing, A Holy Land Beneath a Godless Sky is the first full-length from Austin, Texas, viola-laden five-piece Sans Soleil, but rather than a stumbling debut from a group looking to find their footing, the four-track collection is as rich conceptually and in its execution as its physical manifestation. It’s also no less complex in its arrangement, pushing through a thick-toned 35 minutes of smoothly woven tapestry, heavily weighted but not at the cost of a sense of movement. Instrumental for the duration, “A Holy Land,” “An Umbral Plain,” “Across Brilliant Sands” and the concluding “Beneath a Godless Sky” evoke the journey they’re meant to convey, as guitarist Lee Frejyalune and violist Eva Vonne illuminate in what’s easily the most comprehensive track-by-track I’ve been fortunate enough to feature here.
Vonne, Frejyalune, guitarist Dustin Anderson, bassist Theron Rhoten and drummer Zach Hoop work quickly to create a rhythmic current around which their melodies and tempo shifts move. The production of A Holy Land Beneath a Godless Sky is geared toward an open, spacious feel, and that comes across both in the emergent roll of “A Holy Land” and in the slow, tilt-your-head-back-and-close-your-eyes beginning of “An Umbral Plain,” the textural feel of which makes it both a highlight and standard representation for what Sans Soleil have to offer. With patience and string-fueled grace, Sans Soleil enact builds throughout “An Umbral Plain,” the tidal-swaying post-rocker “Across Brilliant Sands” and bookending “Beneath a Godless Sky” that each craft their own context, each piece — this goes for “A Holy Land” as well — teaching you along the way how best to read it, so that by the time the crash-heavy “Beneath a Godless Sky” begins its conversation with the opener, the album’s consuming moodiness has become the world in which the songs take place.
And as we learn below, it’s a desolate landscape. I don’t know if I see it quite as empty as Vonne and Frejyalune – empty spaces in my mind always seem to come out in lone echoing guitar, whereas a lot of what Sans Soleil has going on is less minimal — but neither am I inclined to argue against a band’s interpretation of their own work. For insight into how Sans Soleil put together A Holy Land Beneath a Godless Sky, I’ll turn it over to them with appreciation for their thoughtfulness in the discussion of what the album is working to portray.
You can find the entirety of A Holy Land Beneath a Godless Sky on the player below, followed by the track-by-track. Please enjoy:
Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!
Track-by-Track from Eva Vonne and Lee Frejyalune:
When we titled these songs, we wanted “A Holy Land (Part One)” and “Beneath a Godless Sky (Part Two)” to frame the album. We wrote them as one long piece divided into two interpretations of a theme. Eva wanted the names to work together as a sentence, and when Lee suggested “A Holy Land Beneath a Godless Sky,” we found the name of our album. “An Umbral Plane” and “Across Brilliant Sands” complete a short lyric, the titles working as a verse narrating a journey through a fallen and forgotten place, its ruins bearing the scars of vicious struggle, soaring triumph and tragic collapse, worn away by the unrelenting march of time.
Eva: A piece of music I have continually drawn inspiration from is Modest Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” where Mussorgsky depicts an imaginary tour of an art collection. This album especially was crafted in a similar manner – of an outsider looking in. I have long been fascinated by the history and culture of Europe following the collapse of the Roman Empire and I think that is where I personally draw inspiration from, but of course our narrative is not rooted in any specific time or place. Rather it is the idea of a lone antihero traversing alone across an abandoned and ruined place and imagining where the relics of this grand past civilization might have originated.
Lee: The band’s name was taken from the 1983 Chris Marker film, which is a loose, cinematic essay of sorts that drifts through various ideas and images with a sort of meandering narrative. I feel that this album (and most of our music, generally speaking) works in a similar way. Each member brought to the arrangements their own take on some similar ideas: a long journey; struggle, triumph, and loss; things melancholic and void. Our “wanderer” makes what meaning they can from the ruins and artifacts encountered through a combination of the sparse context given and projection of their own narratives and experiences. The band has a similar process, in that we build our songs from fragments of riffs, melodies, and ideas, and when the whole is pieced together we look at it from the outside and find what meaning lies in what we’ve written.
A HOLY LAND
Our working title for this song was “Part One” and we wrote it with “Beneath a Godless Sky” together as one long piece.
Eva: We imagine this track as introduction to the solitary journey. It begins as a mournful dirge, but towards the end there is a reclamation and so begins the imagining.
Lee: Our wanderer finds themselves in unfamiliar surroundings, awake with a start to begin looking for direction, meaning, a way home. The scope of their surroundings is vast, overwhelming and the task seemingly impossible. Overcoming these, the first steps are taken.
AN UMBRAL PLANE
Our working title for this song was “Steeple.”
Eva: This track we see narrating the darkest part of the journey, of our wanderer encountering the most macabre and distressing artifacts of human persecution and suffering.
Lee: Artifacts and remnants the wanderer finds suggest war, collapse, ruin. Something great once was here, but came apart in a tragic and violent end. There have been no lives lived here for centuries, not even bare subsistence. The wanderer keeps hope in their heart, a meager guiding light shielded against a torrent of despair.
ACROSS BRILLIANT SANDS
Our working title for this song was “Presence.”
Eva: In this track our wanderer is traversing though once grand and monumental structures now in ruin.
Lee: In my mind, this song describes a blistering desert, the last enduring shards of broken cities, ruined temples, defiled obelisks jutting defiantly from the sand which has worked relentlessly to erode and bury them. Our wanderer considers whether these structures were human triumph over the hostile wilds, or if whatever brought them to ruin blighted this land as well. Waves of sand and heat tear at the wanderer’s body as they trudge determinedly towards a distant and massive ruin that lies at what they hope to be the end of this wasteland.
BENEATH A GODLESS SKY
Our working title for this song was “Part Two,” the conclusion to “Part One.”
Eva: In this track we see our wanderer piecing together all they have encountered.
Lee: The end of the journey, a moribund arrival at a non-destination. Is there meaning to be made from the things encountered and experienced? Have they spent this journey drifting through nothing to find nothing? Does the wanderer press on, or abandon hope and wait to join those who came before, forgotten to time? They know this land held lives holy and verdant, but they have long left, and when those who knew their names perished, the gods perished also.
Posted in On Wax on November 24th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Perpetually and gleefully weird, Texan outfit The Linus Pauling Quartet — in which, make no mistake, there are five members — toy with Lovecraftian themes on their new single, “C is for Cthulhu,” conjuring the Great Old One himself with a hook worth of its Sesame Street-style title. The band’s heavy riffing style comes out in full force across the five-minute cut, pressed with the B-side “My Desire,” a cover of back-in-the-day Houston noisemakers The Pain Teens, in a red 7″ platter edition of 300 copies, the guitars fuzzed out and appropriately lumbering for their subject matter. Production-wise, it’s less raw than some of what Linus Pauling Quartet have done in the past — recording was helmed by bassist Stephen Finley — but particularly for only being a release with two tracks, goes a long way toward showcasing the band’s sans-pretense quirk and open creative sensibility. That is to say, whatever they feel like doing, there’s a good chance they’re going to do it.
“C is for Cthulhu” itself has a metallic feel, thanks in no small part to its burly riff and some death growls backing the chorus. They’re deep in the mix — the lines being, “Don’t eat/Don’t sleep/Hear me calling from the deep,” one imagines that (presumably it’s) guest vocalist Stevie Sims is taking the role of Cthulhu himself in backing guitarist/vocalist Clinton Heider — but set a weighted atmosphere for the track surrounding, and The Linus Pauling Quartet revel in it. With Heider, Finley, guitarist/backing vocalist Ramon “LP4″ Medina, organist/synth-specialist Charlie Horshack, Sims, drummer Larry Liska and Erich Zann (another Lovecraft reference) credited with violin, there’s plenty going on throughout “C is for Cthulhu,” but the structure remains straightforward, and it’s the aforementioned chorus that’s the center around which the rest churns. Some vague chanting crops up as they move past the halfway mark and into a fervent solo section with Heider forward in the mix, but they pull back to the verse and give the chorus another runthrough, extending the end on the way to a last-minute kick in pace that rounds out. Flip the record over, and you might think it’s a completely different band.
Having another vocalist plays a big role in that regard. The core five-piece of the band is the same — Sims and Zann, if Zann is a real person,are out — but Heider steps back on vocals and Carol Sandin Cooley takes the mic. A veteran of Houston experimentalists Sad Pygmy, Cooley establishes a punkish command over the rawer-sounding guitar buzz of “My Desire,” The Linus Pauling Quartet taking The Pain Teens‘ noise-caked proto-industrial thud and approaching it with clear reverence. In another context, the main riff could just as easily be grunge as Godflesh, but the heavy treatment it gets — meaner than “C is for Cthulhu” — is one that suits it. “My Desire” is far less playful than its companion A-side, but culminating in a cut-off swell of noise that ends cold for the needle return, it goes show that the band who a couple years ago put out a 3CD set called Assault on the Vault of the Ancient Bonglords neither take themselves too seriously nor are purely interested in screwing around. Or if they are, at least they make it work.
My copy of the 7″ came with a 9 of clubs that had one of the clubs scratched off and what looks like a custom design on back, a sticker, and a download code featuring alternate masters of the two tracks, plus the art itself, which comes on a quality stock that unfolds to the liner notes and lyrics for “C is for Cthulhu.” C is for Cthulhu follows 2013’s Find What You Love and Let it Kill You 7″ EP, and one can only imagine what horrors The Linus Pauling Quartet have yet to come.
The Linus Pauling Quartet, C is for Cthulhu (2014)
Posted in Whathaveyou on November 20th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Following a release of their 2012 long-player, Beg upon the Light (review here), through Napalm, Houston cult heavy rock four-piece Venomous Maximus have inked a deal to issue their follow-up, Firewalker, on Pittsburgh’s Shadow Kingdom Records. Presumably the new album will be out sometime in 2015, and considering the passion Shadow Kingdom puts into its acts — their love of Corsair is fervent enough that it can be seen from orbit — the fact that they’d even bring the band on board means they’re ready to get in deep. Fair enough. Venomous Maximus are vicious live, and hopefully with Shadow Kingdom behind them, they’ll be able to continue to get out and tour as much as possible.
The PR brought word from the label:
We have been waiting so long to tell you this great news and now is finally the time to reveal what’s been happening in the SKR camp…
Shadow Kingdom Records is extremely proud and honored to announce the signing of Houston, Texas’ VENOMOUS MAXIMUS.
The name of the band reminds us of the classic Gladiator film where Russell Crowe (aka “Maximus”) was nothing short of a complete madman who would die for his family and country without fear or worry of what might happen to him in the process. VENOMOUS MAXIMUS is very much like that in their attitude and approach to playing music with conviction and without any genre barriers. In VENOMOUS MAXIMUS, we have a band that is interested in writing GREAT, memorable songs that vary in length, tempo, and emotion.
Those whom are familiar with VENOMOUS MAXIMUS’ 2012 Napalm Records release, “Beg Upon the Light”, know what kind of a treat you’re in for. The band’s upcoming new album “Firewalker” is a great continuation of their talents. It’s really rare to find bands that have no barriers and just focus on quality songs. This really takes us back to the beginning of Heavy Metal when BLACK SABBATH would put out records. Some of the jams would be fast and heavy, while others would be slow and powerful. BLACK SABBATH could play any genre because they invented all of the heavy metal genres you hear today and when you hear VENOMOUS MAXIMUS’ music, it reminds us of those same ideals. It’s just GREAT music and you love hearing it.
Gregg Higgins heads this band with his very powerful and commanding vocals and chants that immediately raise fists in the air. There’s an obscure Psych / Rock band (also) in Texas from the 70’s/80’s called “Roky Erickson”. if you’re not familiar, click on these two YouTube links and soak yourself into “Night of the Vampire” and “Stand for the Fire Demon”), and play it LOUD. Gregg’s strong vocals remind us of Roky’s vocals in a way that is so captivating, it literally forces you into their world, and you get lost in the music. With the rest of the band being tighter than two coats of paint, this band can do it all and do it all extremely well! VENOMOUS MAXIMUS can easily become as big as — and share fans with — bands like GRAND MAGUS, HIGH ON FIRE and MASTODON, while not sounding like any of those bands and paving their own “path of doom”.
Posted in Whathaveyou on November 18th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
You know what makes The Well getting robbed worse? It’s their first tour, and it was pretty much over! Yesterday, before making their way from Memphis, Tennessee, to Shreveport, Louisiana, the Austin-based trio decided to take a tour of Sun Studios. I’ve been on that tour. You get to see the room where The Million Dollar Quartet happened, and the tour guide talks about Johnny Cash putting dollars in his guitar to play “Folsom Prison Blues” and so on. It’s a good time, except that when The Well exited through the gift shop, they found that their van had been broken into, and their luggage, laptop and the $1,900 that was presumably the money they’d managed to earn on the road with All Them Witches for most of the 15 nights prior were gone. What a bummer.
I’m not sure who Cynthia Ruiz is, but she jumped on the situation by setting up a crowdfunding campaign to help The Well get back to where they need to be following the RidingEasy Records release of their first full-length, Samsara (review here). Their tour ends tonight in Dallas. You know the drill. Link and info below:
Help the Well Get Well
“Well, it happened. While we were touring sun studios, someone broke into the van. THANK GOD they didn’t get any gear thanks to built in shelves separating the back of the van, but they stole ALL our luggage, Lisa’s computer and $1900 in cash. Feeling sick right now. Onward to Shreveport. Fuck.”
People say Karma is a bitch, but let’s prove she can be a sweetheart, too. If you believe in good people and good music, please show THE WELL some love and send them a buck or two in light of their recent misfortune in the south. While their gear was spared, all of their personal luggage, laptop, and well-earned cash was stolen by some rat bastards on the last leg of their inaugural tour. In all, the band lost about $4000 to some sorry ass thieves and I’d love to see some of that returned to them. Help me help them end their first tour with some positivity and hell yeahs!!!
Posted in Radio on November 14th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Managing to do rounds of adds to The Obelisk Radio two weeks in a row? Why, that’s almost too much on-it to bear. I’ll try really hard to contain my self-satisfaction. Okay no I won’t.
A pretty diverse bunch of records joining the playlist today. There are 11 total that went up, and in addition to correcting the oversight of not having put up YOB‘s Clearing the Path to Ascend yet (infinite apologies), there are also new ones from Lord Dying and Primordial, It’s Casual and the recently-reviewed Elephant Tree. Also the Atavismo that I put up the info for the other day and which will be reviewed at some point soon, and five records I thought it would be worth highlighting out of the bunch. Some of these artists I’m sure you know, one or two maybe not, but again, it’s a fairly wide stylistic berth and that’s just the way I like it best.
The Obelisk Radio adds for Nov. 14, 2014:
Jakob Skøtt, Taurus Rising
His third solo album, Taurus Rising is also the second of the year for Copenhagen-based Causa Sui drummer Jakob Skøtt. Released through El Paraiso Records, it continues in the vein of earlier 2014’s Amor Fati in pursuing more of a full-band vibe, but strips that down somewhat to incorporate just synth and live drums. The result across Taurus Rising‘s five tracks is an unremitting progressivism, showcasing Skøtt‘s allegiance to krautrock in songs like opener “Escape from the Keep” while the centerpiece “Pleiades” has a little more of a psychedelic swirl. Keyboards arrive in multiple layers throughout, filling out the mix, and Taurus Rising becomes all the more impressive when one considers that Skøtt is essentially jamming with himself. He does so with a strong sense of evoking varied atmosphere from the tracks, the closing duo of “Bucket Brigades” (10:13) and “Taurus Ascendant” (7:59) pushing deep into spaced-out dynamics and, in the case of the latter, providing the album with its fullest wash and most satisfying linear build. Whether or not Skøtt intends to keep up this pace of releases, I don’t know — no reason not to so long as he’s inspired; it’s his playing, recording and label — but the prog-jazz sensibility of Taurus Rising seems ripe for further development. Jakob Skøtt on Thee Facebooks, El Paraiso Records.
Sleeping Pulse, Under the Same Sky
Sleeping Pulse are not yet fully through “Parasite,” the opening track on their Prophecy Productions debut, Under the Same Sky, before Mick Moss lets loose the full emotional juggernaut of his vocal delivery. The duo is a collaboration between Moss, best known as the frontman and founder of Antimatter, and Portugal-based guitarist Luís Fazendeiro of Painted Black, who wrote the music. At 10 songs and 55 minutes, Under the Same Sky is tied together both through Moss‘ voice and a persistent airiness that, were it not so cleanly presented, I’d almost be tempted to call post-rock. It is darkly progressive, and the lyrics match, weaving tales of manipulation in the subtly building “The Puppeteer” (also watch out for the sampled applause about a minute in) and betrayal throughout moody cuts like the later “Noose” and “War.” For those who know Antimatter – whose latest full-length, Fear of a Unique Identity (review here), was released in 2012 — Sleeping Pulse finds Moss well in his element across the board, but Fazendeiro varies the style such that the piano-led “The Blind Lead the Blind” and emergent distortion chug of “Painted Rust” fit well alongside each other, and Under the Same Sky flows smoothly to its concluding title-track, a minimal piano piece backed by ebow-style tones and once more showcasing the resonance in Moss‘ blend of fragility and defiance. A sleeper not to be slept on, particularly with winter ahead. Sleeping Pulse on Thee Facebooks, Prophecy Productions.
Palm Desert, Pearls from the Muddy Hollow
Perhaps unsurprising when one considers they take their name from the hometown of California’s ’90s desert rock movement, but Poland’s Palm Desert owe a large sonic debt to Kyuss. In the Wroc?aw four-piece’s style of riffing, tonality and propensity for the occasional stoner jam on their third album, Pearls from the Muddy Hollow (Krauted Mind Records), they show their allegiance to the desert style and its blend of fuzzed-up punk and laid back psychedelia. Vocalist Wojciech Ga?uszka helps change things up, however, with some elements of Soundgarden-era Chris Cornell to go with periodic John Garcia gruffness, so that Pearls from the Muddy Hollow‘s nine tracks make a suitable companion piece to Steak‘s 2014 full-length debut, Slab City, which basks in a similar mindset. That’s not to say Palm Desert bring nothing of their own to the style — both the quick “Rise Above” (not a Black Flag cover) and extended closer “Forward in the Sun” (8:19) branch beyond idolatry to an individualized moment — just that the resounding impression throughout Pearls from the Muddy Hollow is Kyuss loyalism. Within the style, they do well in portraying a warm-toned feel and shift smoothly between movements both inside of and between their songs. They’re not revolutionary, but Palm Desert do justice to a familiar sound and sometimes that’s plenty to make for a quality record. Another decent bit of output from Poland’s fertile scene. Palm Desert on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
High Fighter, The Goat Ritual EP
Formed earlier this year as an amalgam of members from A Million Miles and Buffalo Hump, Hamburg, Germany’s High Fighter storm out of the gate with the five-song The Goat Ritual EP, a 21-minute thrust of modern metal and heavy rock ideals. Vocalist Mona Miluski shifts readily between a bluesy clean delivery and searing screams over the nod-ready riffing of guitarists Christian “Shi” Pappas and Ingwer Boysen, bassist Constantin Wüst and drummer Thomas Wildelau trading off between riding the grooves on “2Steps Blueskill” and energizing the bounce on “Fire in the Sun.” Second cut “Breaking Goat Mountains” seems to be particularly geared toward Kyuss‘ “Green Machine” in its riff, but bleaker, screamier centerpiece “Black Waters” shifts between the EP’s heaviest assault and a guitar-only peaceful moment that rounds out with a bit of fading feedback that leads to the wakeup punch of “Fire in the Sun,” in turn given over to the mosh fodder of “In Veins”‘s early going, which somehow transitions into more laid-back heaviness in its second half, of course building back to the initial riff to round out. In its production and much of its execution, it’s metal, but High Fighter keep command of heavy rock elements in such a way as to showcase the nascent moments of what has the potential to be a fascinating progression. The ritual, it would seem, is only beginning. High Fighter on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
Sans Soleil, A Holy Land beneath a Godless Sky
Calling a string-infused, instrumental post-metal release “atmospheric” seems completely superfluous, but Austin fivesome Sans Soleil put enough of a focus on ambience throughout their four-track Tofu Carnage Records debut long-player, A Holy Land beneath a Godless Sky, that to not say so would be worse. Eva Vonne‘s viola plays a major role in the band’s sound on “A Holy Land” and is complemented there and thereafter by guitarists Dustin Anderson and Lee Frejyalune and bassist Theron Rhoten, but it doesn’t come across as trying to fill a gap where vocals might otherwise be, instead just a weaving current between the distortion and sub-doom plod of drummer Zach Hoop, whose crash distinguishes itself on “An Umbral Plain” in keeping a slow march together early and moving fluidly to double-time in the middle third. Dense but not claustrophobic, the subsequent “Across Brilliant Sands” opens direct interplay between Vonne and a line of lead guitar before moving into Grayceon-style sparseness and explosion, or at least a more doomed interpretation thereof, and building to what feels like an apex for the album until the 11-minute closer “Beneath a Godless Sky” busts into a gallop as it passes the halfway point and relents from there only to resume again with greater force, closing out A Holy Land beneath a Godless Sky with a fitting push to coincide with the tonal weight preceding. An exciting and engaging debut from a group who arrive with a firm sense of what they want to convey sonically and emotionally. Sans Soleil on Thee Facebooks, Tofu Carnage Records.
Like I said at the outset, a little all over the place this week, but hopefully you find something to dig one way or another. To check out the full list of adds for this week and every week back to late 2012, and to see what’s been played on The Obelisk Radio today (some good stuff there), check out The Obelisk Radio Updates and Playlist page. It’s where the cool kids hang out, or something.
Posted in On Wax on November 11th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
There is a stark contrast between the A and B sides of The Cosmic Trigger‘s new, self-released 7″, The Cosmic EP. The Fort Worth four-piece’s release, pressed to thick vinyl and arriving in a quality-stock matte-finish gatefold sleeve with righteous vertical cover art by Michael Sturrock, is two songs, “Voltaire” and “Catharsis,” totaling just over 11 minutes, and they vary their sounds widely from one to the next. “Voltaire” owes some of its rocking bounce to Thin Lizzy, the guitars of Spenser Freeman and Tyrel Choat meshing along a running, winding course, while Choat‘s vocals growl out a kind of drawn-back Metallica gruffness in the verse, only to open to a cleaner shout in the chorus, given steady punctuation by drummer Josh Farmer‘s sharp snare and a low-end foundation for the guitars by bassist Dustin Choat. It’s catchy, and the recording — by Wo Fat‘s Kent Stump at Crystal Clear Sound in Dallas — is clear and crisp. It seems initially that perhaps too much so, and like The Cosmic Trigger would benefit from being roughed up a bit, but particularly for those who didn’t hear their 2012 debut full-length, The New Order of the Cosmos, “Catharsis” goes a long way toward explaining where the band is coming from.
Not to be confused with the YOB song of the same name, “Catharsis” works its way around a prog-metal bassline from Dustin and, though Tyrel works in largely the same vocal style, the lyrics (printed on the inside of the vinyl gatefold) give a different take, a severe narrative of betrayal and a murderous chorus of, “You ain’t going home tonight/You’ve seen my face/I’ll see the light drain from your eyes/But you ain’t going home tonight,” blindsiding with its violent intent. By contrast, “Voltaire”‘s lyrics call out the philosopher and question the prospect of modern mortality, but if they’re concerned with death, it’s certainly not death by the speaker’s own hands directed at what seems like an ex-girlfriend. Maybe I’m reading too much into metaphor, but it comes on pretty strong in the song itself, the tapped guitar and basslines building to a head before launching into a riffier closing section after the lyrics, “You’ve made your choice and/Now you’re dead to me.” Fair enough. It may be that The Cosmic Trigger enjoy toying with these ideas as much as they clearly enjoy pitting subgenres against each other, but if you were to take on The Cosmic EP unawares, it could easily be jarring. I guess, if you’re going to take a listen, just be warned. Someone might get hurt.
The full-length, though it featured a different guitarist alongside Tyrel, worked in a similar stylistic vein on the border between heavy rock groove, metallic aggression and progressive intricacy. Listening to The Cosmic EP, it seems the band are still figuring out where on that spectrum exactly they want to position themselves, or at least which stylistic basis from which they want to explore outward. Performance-wise, they’re tight and cohesive enough that there’s nothing to make me think they wouldn’t be able to arrive at that point, and both of these songs are well constructed, it’s just a very ambitious aesthetic they’re trying to capture and they have work to do before they get there.
Posted in Whathaveyou on November 11th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Arlington, Texas, two-piece Stone Machine Electric are moving ever closer to the heart of the jam. They’ve set a Dec. 9 release date for the limited cassette issue of Garage Tape, the title of which seems to tell a lot of the story. It’s Stone Machine Electric — the once again and seemingly permanently sans-bass duo of guitarist/vocalist William “Dub” Irvin and drummer/vocalist/thereminist Mark Kitchens — jamming in a garage. In August, they had Erik Carson of Tin Can Records record them at their practice space, and the fruits of that session are what you get with Garage Tape. Considering the band’s last release was the show-recording 2013.02.07 (discussed here), they seem to be pushing further toward giving listeners an inside look at what they do, and as far as I’m concerned, that’s always an awesome thing to see with a band like this.
Not only are they going as raw as possible, though, but as a bonus, they’ve partnered with Texan countryman expirimentalist and lower-case practitioner the owl and the octopus for a special remix of Garage Tape itself. I guess the whole thing? I’m not really sure, but it’s a fascinating idea. The PR wire has more:
STONE MACHINE ELECTRIC – Garage Tape Remix
On December 9th, 2014, we will release the “Garage Tape” digitally and on cassette. This outing will show you what it is like peer into our jam space. These jams weave in and out of consciousness, glazing the listener with tonal build-ups and tearing out landscapes with riff-laden precision. “Garage Tape” demonstrates how to lose your head and see what happens.
Texas heavy duo, Stone Machine Electric, will be releasing the “Garage Tape” on December 9th, 2014. In anticipation of this, the band has decided to add a little something extra to this release.
Stone Machine Electric has recruited local noisemaker extraordinaire, the owl and the octopus, to do a remix of the “Garage Tape”. It will be included as an extra with the download of the tape. Please note that all tapes will come with a digital download included. Hopefully it will be ready by release…
Release show is set for January 16th, 2015 at The Grotto with Wo Fat and Maneaters of Tsavo, with special guests Whoa! Fat Machine.
Posted in audiObelisk on November 11th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Mothership II, the aptly-titled second full-length and Ripple Music debut from Dallas heavy rocking trio Mothership, is available today. You can hear the complete thing on Ripple‘s Bandcamp if you’re so inclined, but given the opportunity to do so, I also wanted to feature a track from the record since it demonstrates so clearly how guitarist/vocalist Kelley Juett, bassist/vocalist Kyle Juett and drummer Judge Smith have progressed since their 2012 self-titled debut (review here), which Ripple also released last year.
If the power trio have moved forward from their first record — and I’ll point to the Floydisms of opener “Celestial Prophet” and later instrumental “Tami Massif” and the masterful use of tempo shifts on “Priestess of the Moon,” the progressive edge of “Holy Massacre” and the grand stoner epic closer “Serpents Throne” (not to be confused with Philadelphia-based instrumental outfit Serpent Throne) as evidence that they have — then it’s evolution hard won. The Juetts and Smith have spent a goodly portion of the last two years road-dogging back and forth across the country, even venturing to Europe for the first time this past summer to play the Freak Valley festival and elsewhere. Their time on tour has fed into their confidence in their performance and their command of songwriting, so that “Astromancer” seems to offer payoff where The Sword never quite did and “Centauromachy” touches on classic metal chugging with the smoothness of tone and atmosphere — Wo Fat guitarist/vocalist KentStump, who also helmed the debut,recorded Mothership II at his band’s Crystal Clear Studios in Dallas — that only heavy rock swagger can provide. And Mothership II is not short on swagger. Whether it’s the swing in Smith‘s crash or the interplay of Kelley‘s shred-ready guitar and Kyle‘s bass, Mothership are locked in and they sound like they know it.
The album is also two-sided both in the vinyl A/B sense and in terms of the songwriting. While “Priestess of the Moon,” “Astromancer” and “Centauromachy” tell stonerly tales of monsters and outer space, Mothership also get down with a fair bit of classic rock sleaze to break things up. Side A’s “Shanghai Surprise” and side B’s “Hot Smoke and Heavy Blues” — not to mention the borderline-creepy CD bonus track “Good Morning Little School Girl” — feed into a dudely heavy rock trope of long-standing. Though “Holy Massacre” doesn’t necessarily represent this lyrical aspect of Mothership II – something I’ll argue works in its favor — the song’s fluidity, natural tonality, live feel and high-octane delivery speak to many of the strengths at work across the album, and that’s not to mention the strength of the hook at play in its chorus. A bluesy chug emerges as it builds to its stomping apex, and Mothership shift tempo so smoothly that before you know it, you’re being carried off to the next movement.
If you haven’t heard it yet, take a listen to “Holy Massacre” below to get a taste for some of Mothership II‘s finest heavy. Hope you enjoy:
Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!
Mothership‘s Mothership II is out now on Ripple Music in Europe and North America. They’ll play their official release show Nov. 21 at Lola‘s Saloon in Ft. Worth, TX. More info at the links.
Posted in Whathaveyou on November 10th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Austin riff-rolling three-piece The Well are on the road now — tonight’s a night off, but they’re still out there — alongside Nashville’s All Them Witches. They’ve done a string of shows together on the West Coast already and are headed to the Midwest next, hitting up Salt Lake City and Denver en route to Nebraska, Missouri and so on as they make their way, eventually, back to Texas. The occasion? Well, their Mark Deutrom-produced debut full-length, Samsara (track stream here), came out at the end of September via RidingEasy Records and if you’ve heard it, you know that’s about all the occasion one might need for this run and a couple more after it, garage-doom and classically psychedelic sounds commingling with only the most engaging type of degenerate glee.
The tour runs for another eight days, so if you happen to be in that part of the world, show up and buy something. Info, dates and album stream follow:
With a progressive sound that stems from a nostalgic desire to blend different musical styles as diverse as Joy Division and Blue Cheer, Austin-based power trio The Well redefine heavy rock by merging massive riffs with sophisticated melodies.
Inspired by early ’70s psych, heavy rock, blues and proto-metal, The Well has created a sound that reflects doom, punk and horror all rolled together into one ghostly rock soundtrack. Their full-length debut Samsara is their strongest collection of songs to date. Produced by Mark Deutrom and released through RidingEasy Records, the masterwork is a stripped down, electric blues fuzzfest and begs to be heard live. After a steady touring schedule that’s seen the band share the stage with international acts such as: Kadavar, Orchid, Fu Manchu, High On Fire, NAAM, Orange Goblin, Pentagram and Dead Meadow guarantees The Well are contenders.
“Writing dark, ominous music is how I deal with life,” admits Ian. “When we play live it’s like expelling the demons.” At a time when rock music is fading among the masses, The Well injects an intoxicating dose of raw adrenaline into a fatigued genre. Their nostalgic reverence, simple structure and modern expression put them at the forefront of today’s heavy rock.
The Well with All Them Witches 11/11 The Shred Shed, Salt Lake City, UT 11/12 Lost Lake, Denver, CO 11/13 Reverb, Omaha, NE 11/14 Riot Room, Kansas City, MO 11/15 The Demo, St. Louis, MO 11/16 The Buccaneer, Memphis TN* 11/17 Tiki, Shreveport, LA* 11/18 Three Links, Dallas, TX* *no All Them Witches
Posted in Whathaveyou on October 8th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Austin horror rockers Destroyer of Light have no shortage of work ahead of them in slogging their way coast to coast on what they’ve dubbed the “Howlin’ Across America” tour. The ghoulish death-sludge purveyors hit the West Coast over the summer, but that couldn’t really compare to the month they’ll spend on the road starting Oct. 13 in support of their second record, Bizarre Tales Vol. 2, which came out earlier in the year on Heavy Friends Records.
They’ll make a stop at the Southwest Terror Fest on Oct. 17, and short of Boston and a few cities in the northern part of the Midwest, hits just about everywhere else, so if they’re hitting your town it might be worth showing up and buying some merch, to keep ‘em flying, as the WWII posters used to say.
Info culled from the PR wire:
Destroyer of Light Announces Howlin’ Across America Tour ’14
Austin Doom Band To Spend A Month On The Road
Following a successful summer run on the West Coast, doom metal alchemists Destroyer of Light are set to undertake another tour in support of its Bizarre Tales Vol. 2 EP. Dubbed the Howlin’ Across America Tour ’14, the band will spend a month on the road and visit 32 cities. The Heavy Friends Records-sponsored tour starts in their home town Austin, Texas and reaches out to nearly every region in the United States.
On October 17, Destroyer of Light travels to The District Tavern in Tucson, Arizona where they will play Southwest Terror Fest. Goatsnake, Sunn 0))), Neurosis, Pelican and Author & Punisher are a few of the bands billed to play the four-day festival.
The band comments: “We are super excited about this tour and hitting some new cities that we haven’t played before. Also, this is the biggest tour that we have done; so, it is a very exciting feeling to go out and accomplish this.”
Howlin Across America Tour ’14 10/13-Austin, TX @ The Grand 10/14-Midland, TX @ Blue Max 10/15-El Paso, TX @Grynde Bar 10/17-Tucson, AZ @ The District Tavern Southwest Terror Fest 10/20-Alburquerque, NM @ The Launchpad 10/21-OKC/Tulsa, OK @TBA 10/22-Bryant, AR @ M.F. Metal 10/23-St. Louis, MO @ FOAM Coffe & Bar 10/24-Chicago, IL @ Cobra Lounge 10/25-Kalamazo, MI @ Satellite Records 10/26-Columbus, OH @ Carabar 10/27-Pittsburgh, PA @ Mr. Roboto Project 10/28-Buffalo, NY @ The Lair 10/29-Brooklyn, NY @ The Grand Victory 10/30-Philadelphia, PA @ Kung Fu Necktie 10/31-Shepardtown, WV @ Stonewall’s Pub 11/01-Richmond, VA @ 25Watt 11/02- Chapel Hill, NC @ The Cave Tavern 11/03-Johnston City, TN @ The Hideaway 11/04-Nashville, TN @TBA 11/05-Columbia, SC @ Foxfield Bar & Grill 11-06/Jacksonville, FL @ The Burro Bar 11/07-Longwood, FL @Hoodies Saloon 11/08-Pensacola, FL @ The Handlebar 11-09-Atlanta/Savannah/Athens @ TBA 11/10-Birmingham, AL @ The Nick 11/11-Jackson, MS @ OI Tavern/George St. 11.12-New Orleans, LA @ The Beatnik 11/13-Texarkana, AR @ The Silver Dollar 11/14-Fort Worth, TX @ The Grotto 11/15-Houston, TX @ Rudyards 11/16-Austin ,TX @ The Lost Well
Erik Bredthauer created a Tales From the Crypt style animated video for the single “Forbidden Zombi Ritual” taken from Destroyer of Light’s Bizarre Tales Vol. 2 EP. Go HERE to watch the video.
Posted in audiObelisk on September 22nd, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Heavy psych trio The Well make their full-length debut tomorrow on RidingEasy Records with Samsara, a beast of an album rife with rhythmic swing, deep tonal buzz and a balance between classic ’70s worship and more devilish tendencies. The Austin, Texas, three-piece issue the LP as the follow-up to 2013’s First Trip EP and a preceding 2012 7″ titled Seven (review here) that served notice of their interest in malevolent psych pop and heavier rocking swing. There are certainly plenty of both on Samsara, which comprises seven tracks of garage-inflected languid roll — some Witch and Uncle Acid on “Trespass,” and centerpiece “Lucifer Sam” seems to reimagine Ghost‘s propensity for catchy Satanics as a late ’60s Halloween party — but finds its distinctive presence in the dirtied-up elder metal guitar work of Ian Graham, who also shares vocal duties with bassist Lisa Alley, and in the nod punctuated by drummer Jason Sullivan.
They make no bones about where they’re coming from. Classic influences yielding results that I wouldn’t necessarily call retro, but definitely have one ideological foot in the past. The eight-minute riff-roll of “Eternal Well” loses none of the rest of Samsara‘s propensity for strong hooks for its extra runtime, and where a cut like “1,000 Lies” pauses around its middle for a quieter atmospheric stretch, even at its thickest-toned and most raucous, the album keeps a sense of mood at the fore, opener “Mortal Bones” setting a tone of catchy songcraft that broadcasts its structural simplicity in order to sneak in tonal intricacies in the guitar and bass and in the vocal arrangements, The Well working smoothly to make their output sound much easier than it is while providing satisfying fodder for repeat listens. That’s true throughout, but it’s on “Refuge” that the various sides of Samsara‘s personality most come together, and it’s for that reason I’m so glad to be able to host the premiere of that track today.
At six and a half minutes, it’s the longest on the album but for “Eternal Well,” beginning slow with a creeper of a riff that soon gives way to the speedier push of its verse and chorus, a break at the halfway point signaling a change to some of Samsara‘s finest rhythmic sway, Sullivan stomping out a line that Graham and Alley seem to revel in, the former taking a fuzzed-out solo as the jam continues and “Refuge” gradually dissolves. After five minutes in, a final crash would seem to bring things to an end, but what follows is an arrangement of vocals between the guitarist and the bassist that makes the song even more of a standout and emphasizes the subtle shifts that The Well are so able to pull off on their fluid, remarkably cohesive debut record. You can see the part in the waveform below, so don’t cut out early.
And please, enjoy:
The Well‘s Samsara was produced by Mark Deutrom (formerly of the Melvins) and engineered by Chico Jones at Ohm Recording Studio in Austin. RidingEasy Records releases the album tomorrow, Sept. 23, on CD and vinyl. More info at the links.