The Heads RKT! Reissue out This Week

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

Some day, in some universe, some kind soul will put together a comprehensive discography for The Heads. It will feature all the UK heavy psychedelic pioneers’ releases — albums, splits, EPs, singles, live records, etc. — in the order of their original release, and note the labels, the different versions, the limited editions, the subsequent reissues, and so on, as well as some comment from the band itself on each offering. I expect this would be a book-length project for whatever kind soul took it on, and no doubt it would require a substantial government grant of some sort to happen. And perhaps a team of interns working in shifts.

Until we get to that magical day in that magical universe, we can enjoy The Heads‘ discography for the wonderfully confusing thing it is and perhaps even draw a parallel between their otherworldly and molten sounds and the impenetrable murk that is their catalog. They have a new reissue out this Friday. And the thing about The Heads? They’re amazing.

No, really. Amazing.

From the PR wire:

the heads rkt

THE HEADS latest reissue release “rkt!” on Rooster Records is out next Friday (25th May).

Latest volume in the long running Rooster reissue series, “rkt!” is a timely reissue of the first 3 releases The Heads put out on the ROCKET label.

OUT NEXT FRIDAY (May 25th) in the UK (June 1st in USA) on Limited 3LP format (2CD delayed..sorry..) The Heads – RKT! …(all the stuff they released on Rocket Recordings in the late 90s, in unedited form / one handy package!) And on the digital “sites” for the first time too… Remastered by Simon Price and Shawn Joseph (Optimum Mastering) for sonic dissonance of the highest order…this is bucketbonged sike at its rawest and most enrapturing…

To celebrate that, they have unleashed a “studio” version of live staple “KRT” in its glorious repeato-tripped out 46 minute plus glory…on all the digi places…check it out on the Spotify below…yes, a “Spotify” single from the Heads…tuck in…

Tracklist:
1. Spliff Riff (Conga’d Out)
2. Neu75!
3. Disappear Into Concrete And Meat
4. Filler
5. Jellystoned Loop
6. Planet Suite
7. Longest Gone
8. krt (all of it)

Latest in the long running Rooster (The Heads own label) reissue series, the latest volume is a timely reissue of the first 3 releases The Heads put out on the ROCKET label, from their first split 7” release (with Lilydamwhite) in 1998 to their much lauded SESSIONS 2 freakout 12” from 2002, all long sold out and highly collectable releases in their own rights.

Compiled here by Simon Price and remastered by Shawn Joseph…this release finds the band in fully relaxed glory; The Heads we quite prolific back in the late 90s / early 00’s, and in between the Everybody Knows We Got Nowhere album and Undersided album they released their jams and raw rehearsals via the burgeoning ROCKET Label.

Compiled here with extensive sleeve notes from Rocket founder Simon Healey, this limited 3LP (1000 copies) and 2CD (1000 copies) set captures the band at their most laconic and free…psychedelic sprawling morass of sound and aural distortion grooves akin drawing from their wide influences…also from simply plugging in and letting go…

Spotify KRT stream: https://open.spotify.com/album/0M4gtqM1PcGZ62T11mzgs7

iTunes full album pre-order (and stream for KRT): https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/rkt/1383320753

https://www.facebook.com/The-Heads-282801075465/
https://theheads1.bandcamp.com/

The Heads, Burning up With… (2016)

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Friday Full-Length: The Heads, Relaxing With…

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 27th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

The Heads, Relaxing With… (1996)

A little post-Roadburn worship for The Heads, and well earned. Some 22 years after making their debut via Relaxing With…, the UK psych lords remain thoroughly untamed — their sound rife with searing freakouts and a sense of what might’ve happened if the UK had put garage rock on the Voyager probe and then had it return to earth warped by the very fabric of the universe. To listen to the wah attack of “Woke Up” or the bit of ’60s-style boogie thrown into “U33,” it’s clear The Heads — guitarist/vocalist Simon Price, bassist Hugo Owen Morgan, guitarist Paul Allen and drummer Wayne Maskell — at least had some sense of what they were doing at the outset. That’s not to intimate the opposite applies to “Chipped” or “Slow Down” or “Widowmaker,” but just that there’s a decent amount of Relaxing With… that seems to have been purposefully left to chance and that exploration of sound has always been a crucial element of who they are as a band. Don’t believe me? “Coogan’s Bluff.”

Perhaps with the exception of the grungey “Taken too Much,” which is placed right before the closer, almost none of Relaxing With… sounds any more dated than it wants to, and rather than simply adopt the stylistic tenets of space rock, or psychedelia, or heavy rock, or garage, etc., The Heads took all these things and made them their own in a potent sonic brew running a brisk 44 minutes of tripped out, freaked out thrust, like the pent-up energy of a collapsing star about to go nova — one great big “pop” in the galaxy emitting gravity waves that continue to ripple. With Price‘s yeah-I’m-stoned-what’s-the-problem vocals adding a persistent laid back factor over Maskell‘s thud and push and Morgan‘s low end fuzz adding weight to the outward thrust of Price and Allen‘s guitars, The Heads were even in their beginning stages a complete band, each member complementing the others’ work in effort to create a more consuming whole.

That effort pays off all across Relaxing With…, from the wash of noisy swirl that starts opener “Quad” to the switched-on bizarro vibes that persist from there. Was this the birth of what people seem so eager now to dub “neo-psych,” as if psychedelia ever went away? Rest assured, I have no idea, but more than two decades on, The Heads‘ initial salvo of “Quad,” “Don’t Know Yet” and the somewhat thicker “Chipped” still hits like a rogue asteroid in the Russian wilderness. “Slow Down,” appropriately enough, eases on the throttle and brings Price‘s vocals forward but holds onto a threat of explosion in its post-midsection thud, even if what materializes is another verse and some backwards guitar before a couple shouts and the winding final measure of guitar solo arrive. Morgan‘s bass begins “U33” and makes a highlight of it, and at just over two minutes, “Television” scorches out garage fuzz with a punkish intensity and basks in its hookish vocal pattern.

The dirt-poetry of the lyrics is punctuated by the drum stomp, and as the song opened with a “Wow!,” so too does it close with one, a quick sample leading to the freakout of “Woke Up,” which is no less all-go than the preceding cut, but stretches a minute further and takes more of a traditional rock feel, and “Widowmaker” holds to it, despite feeling more molten even in its moments of blasting-forward intensity, which come and go but seem alway to be purking thanks to the tension in Maskell‘s cymbal work. “Widowmaker” is a highlight of the record, paying off in assaulting volume before a long-fadeout toy-piano sample leads into the strum and jangle that starts “Taken too Much,” moving quickly into more drastic quiet/loud tradeoffs marked by the post-Nirvana feel in the low end and the particularly druggy lyrical thematic. Maybe it’s with a bit of irony that “Taken too Much” is positioned right ahead of the “You only pass through this life once, jack, you don’t come back for an encore,” sample that begins “Coogan’s Bluff,” but whatever the intent was, it works.

One of the aspects of Relaxing With… that works so well is that the album happens in quick shots. While modern psych is given to these long, sometimes indulgent excursions, only two of the album’s first nine tracks pass four minutes in length. That makes “Coogan’s Bluff,” which uses every second of its 11:35, all the more a standout. The jam feels all the more massive for the tightness of the songwriting preceding, and as The Heads shove their way through solo after solo, groove on top of groove, they stand tall as new warriors on the edge of time, breathing life into a genre that, again, was thought dead when it never actually was. The dynamic between Allen, Maskell, Morgan and Price is by then long established but perhaps not displayed anywhere else as clearly as it is on “Coogan’s Bluff,” as the band moves ahead into vast reaches yet uncharted and delivers a gradual comedown, hitting the apex in another shit-hot lead that ends in the second half and gives way to consistent toms and noise that lets the listener make their way slowly back to reality, such as it is.

I’m not sure it’s possible for a band to be massively influential, critically lauded, have a consistent loyal fanbase and a number of offshoot projects while still being underrated, but if it is, The Heads are. I’ll say they’re not really a band I got until I saw them on stage and felt the full force of their delivery and volume, how they not only play this music, but execute it on a physical level. I don’t mean they’re thrashing around or anything, just that there are four members of The Heads and the sound they make when they come together is enough of a presence to be counted as a fifth. To think of Relaxing With… as their debut and to imagine hearing it for the first time when it was released before the turn of the century, it’s no wonder they’ve become who they are. Thankfully, that spirit of outward-directed exploration and ongoing creative development has never left them, and they still sound keen to try something new each time, as their hyper-populated and nearly impossible to track discography proves. That only makes them all the more special, and as Relaxing With… was the nexus of that ongoing process, it’s a moment well worth celebrating.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

Interesting week, coming back and coming down from the aforementioned Roadburn fest in the Netherlands — to see all the coverage of Roadburn 2018, click here — and returning to whatever it is that passes for normalcy these days. I’ve had some good baby-time with The Pecan, so that’s been excellent. Six months on, he’s just starting to crawl and getting to the point where he’s more than a glob of human need, so playing has become more than basically showing him things and having him not be able to hold them. I’ve been singing him SubRosa, Anathema and Alice in Chains songs. He can sit up. He’s getting a bit of personality. Seems only a matter of time before he calls me a prick for something or other.

Busy week though. I apparently completely screwed up the scheduling this week on some stuff. That only makes life more difficult for me — also The Patient Mrs., so also me again — but it means I’m doubled up Monday and while I want to take a few days next week and get caught up on reviews I’ve been meaning to write, there’s still a lot going on that needs covering. I’m still getting caught up on news from being away and from before I went away, so I hope you’ll bear with me on that. Here’s what’s in the notes for next week, tentative as ever:

Mon.: Trevor’s Head full stream, Tusmørke track premiere.
Tue.: Sleep review.
Wed.: Grayceon review.
Thu.: Abramis Brama review.
Fri.: Track premiere/announcement from Cursed Tongue Records.

Some stuff still needs to be filled in, but again, I’m way behind on news and I think Amorphis put out another video. I might review that record next Friday and keep with the week’s apparent theme of things I think kick ass, but we’ll see how it goes, how much time there is and whatnot.

Speaking of, I’m pretty limited on time at the moment as the baby has a doctor’s checkup this morning and needs a bath before so he doesn’t show up like a crustpunk, and I still have another news post to put together for today — the one about Yawning Man signing to Heavy Psych Sounds — so I better wrap on the quick, but before I do, I just want to say thanks again if you got to check out any of the Roadburn coverage.

It was a little weird being there this year and missing the baby, and even weirder feeling like I was holding back from talking about that in the posts — what does it mean when I don’t feel comfortable having an open and fully honest conversation in the space that’s supposed to be my sole outlet for such a thing? — but you have to believe me when I say I understand how unbelievably lucky I was to be there in the first place and that it was a gift, as always. I have no doubt that, at the end of 2018, Roadburn will once again have been the center of it.

On that note, I’m out. I have two bios to write this weekend — an update for Kings Destroy and one for Small Stone’s next release that I’m woefully late on — and two reviews to write for Monday as noted above, so yeah, I’ll be around. In the meantime, thanks for reading as always and have a great and safe weekend.

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Roadburn 2018 Day Three: No Evil No Demon

Posted in Features, Reviews on April 21st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

roadburn 2018 day three banner

04.21.18 – 11:31PM CET – Saturday night – Hotel Mercure Rm. 224

A text came in this morning from The Patient Mrs., who told me she wanted me to be kinder to myself in how I described moving through the world around me. I saw this right when I woke up this morning, so had no idea what she was talking about. It was all the “galumphing” and “lumbering” and “waddling” and whatnot I’ve been doing the last few days. I told her it’s a running gag and that in describing my every movement from placebell witch 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan) to place today, I would use the word “farting” exclusively.

It was a busy day. I did a lot of farting back and forth. We did not set a new land-speed record in getting the Weirdo Canyon Dispatch to the press, but we did still manage to get it out on time like the pros that we are. It was a good thing, too, because Roadburn 2018 day three started extra early with Bell Witch at Koepelhal, and it was not to be missed. Clearly there would be no time for farting around.

The Seattle-based duo play here tomorrow as well, but today they were performing last year’s brilliant and affecting Mirror Reaper (review here) in its entirety, with six-string bassist Dylan Desmond and drummer Jesse Shreibman joined by Erik Moggridge, also known as the solo-performer Aerial Ruin, to contribute guest vocals as he does on the album, which was written in memory of former drummer Adrian Guerra, who passed away in 2016. The piece, an 80-minute single-song full-length, was to be rendered in its complete form, with all the crushing tones and searing emotional resonance brought to life.

I’ll be honest with you, it felt a little voyeuristic to watch. I’ve seen tribute sets at Roadburn before — one recalls the Selim Lemouchi tribute in 2014, and even as Bell Witch were playing today at Koepelhal, back at Het Patronaatbell witch (Photo by JJ Koczan)Stephen Brodsky and Adam McGrath of Cave In were paying homage to their late former bandmate, Caleb Scofield, who died in a car accident last month. But still. Maybe it’s just because it was so heavy coming from Bell Witch, or maybe it was the way Shreibman started out with his head down on his snare, or how he, Desmond and Moggridge all came together on vocals, but there was something so raw about the grief on display that it would’ve been next to impossible not to be affected by it. Powerful. Moving. One only hopes there some measure of catharsis derived from the process, because they managed to turn the darkest of feelings and sounds into something beautiful.

Somewhat dazed, I dragged my oafish, unworthy, hideous fucking carcass out of the Koeplhal — where in the merch area they couldn’t even find a Sacri Monti t-shirt big enough to wrap around my bloated fucking form (shit just got tragic; dial it back) — and over to the Hall of Fame where even-younger-than-I-thought-they-were-and-I-thought-they-were-pretty-young boogie rockers Supersonic Blues were getting set to go on. Hall of Fame is the smallest of Roadburn 2018’s venues, and I hadn’t been supersonic blues (Photo by JJ Koczan)inside yet other then to pop in on Petyr playing heavy ’70s covers yesterday, so this was my first real set there. Supersonic Blues also did a set of covers at some point in the last two days, and they worked a UFO song into this set of originals as well, I suspect because they just don’t have that much original material yet. They were allotted 50 minutes, and they’ve only released one two-song single (review here), so yeah. Maybe they just ran out of songs.

As happens in some fortunate occasions with young acts who aren’t arrogant as hell, Supersonic Blues are a better band than they know. They were somewhat timid on stage, or at least subdued, but their boogie, their tones and their swing were all right on, and their material was warm and classic feeling in a way that fit with some of the San Diego Takeover groups — PetyrArcticSacri Monti, etc. — but laid back enough to still be its own vibe. I was already looking forward to their next release and am only more so after seeing them play.

My next move was something of a debate. In the Green Room, Minami Deutsch and Damo Suzuki were doing a set together, which sounds like, yes, something you want to stand in front of for as long as you can. On the Main Stage, however, Panopticon were doing a full-on full-hour, and well, I watched both Minami Deutsch and Damo Suzuki yesterday — albeit in different contexts — and I’ve never seen Panopticon, so the Minnesota-based, folk-infused American black metallers won out. Not a phrase I say often. Led by guitarist/vocalist Austin Lunn, who also owns and operates Hammerheart Brewing in Minnesota, which smells delightfully like fresh-cut and/or burning wood when you go therepanopticon (Photo by JJ Koczan)Panopticon absolutely packed out the Main Hall, and with family members to the side of front of the crowd, they unleashed a torrent of USBM intensity that made no bones about its intent to scorch.

For a band who doesn’t tour nine months out of the year, their ownership of the big stage was complete and unflinching, and as they have a brand new record out in the form of The Scars of Man on the Once Nameless Wilderness I and II on Bindrune, their energy level was no less ferocious than the material itself, though there was plenty of dynamic to be had as well. I knew I wanted to be back in the Green Room for Volcano, so I hopscotched out of the Main Hall and downstairs to grab a quick bite to eat. Some vegan meatballs and seasoned mystery (actual-)meat later, I lubbered up to the front of the Green Room and there planted myself to wait for Volcano to hit it.

And I mean hit it. Led by the keys of Harsh Toke‘s Gabe Messer and the guitar of Joy‘s Zach Oakley, with Red Octopus‘ Billy Ellsworth on bass, I don’t even know who on drums, Sacri Monti and Joy drummer Thomas Dibenedetto on percussive sticks and Earthless‘ own Mario Rubalcaba sitting in on volcano (Photo by JJ Koczan)bongos and other percussion, Volcano were an Afrobeat-inspired melee of psychedelic funk, starting out their set with a song called “Naked Prey” and ending with their previously-posted single, “10,000 Screaming Souls” (discussed here), and in between, they were an absolute blast of rhythm, vibe and motion. “No Evil No Demon” invited shouting sing-alongs, and as my understanding is that their record is already done and they’re already signed to Tee Pee for the release — hardly a surprise given the personnel involved — I was thinking of their set as something of a preview of what’s to come when the album lands, but they were already crazy tight, locked in, and looking and sounding like they were having a total blast.

It was their second show. Two. I’d sat next to Ellsworth on the bus ride from the airport to Tilburg the other day and he told me the band figured they might as well get one under their belt before playing Roadburn. Their second show. In the Green Room. And they totally killed it.

They are a band about which you will no doubt hear more in the months, maybe years, to come, and they made an excellent lead-in for the psychedelic masterclass that long-running UK cosmotrodders The Heads delivered in the same space. I’ve seen The Heads at Roadburn before — they played the Main Stage in 2015 (review here) and subsequently released it as the live album, Burning up With… (review here) — and their history with the festival and with Walter goes back much farther than that, and as he worked the live video mixing projected behind them once again in the Green Room, the swirl was unmistakable and irresistible. Before they went on, the heads (Photo by JJ Koczan)I had been reading a news story about diamonds found in a meteorite that were supposed to be leftover from a planetary collision 4.7 billion years go or something like that.

Could there possibly be a better analog to what The Heads bring to the stage? Diamonds from space? Shit, as I watched them conjure a gravity well with “Coogans Bluff” and “Widowmaker,” all I could think about was a giant rock slamming with a couple billion years’ worth of momentum into the earth and Paul AllenWayne MaskellHugo Morgan and Simon Price popping out of the thing like a presidential birthday cake and jamming a swirl hot enough to melt crucial elements into new molecules. Heavy. Psychedelic. Perfection. I don’t think there’s really any other option when The Heads play except to stand there with your mouth agape and just try to retain as much of it as humanly possible. The only challenge is not snapping back to reality when they’re done and realizing you’ve lost time, like on an old episode of X-Files.

Oh, and by the way, The Heads are really, really, really fucking good.

I did not at all envy Sacri Monti the task of following them up, but the San Diego five-piece represented the Takeover well, with a contingent of their clique on hand to watch as guitarist/vocalist Brendan Dellar, guitarist Dylan Donavon, organist Evan Wenskay, bassist Anthony Meier (also of Radio Moscow) and Dibenedetto sacri monti (Photo by JJ Koczan)on drums tore into songs from their 2015 self-titled debut (review here) and some new material from the follow-up that that first album is due. I’ve no idea what the state of their next record is, but what they played sounded right on and though they were less spaced-out than The Heads, one could still get a sense of the intended continuity in the Green Room as they played, which started with Petyr and Minami Deutsch with Damo Suzuki, got far out with Volcano and The Heads and came back to the boogie via Sacri Monti before Sweden’s Maggot Heart closed out the room for the night with more of a post-punk vibe.

After poking my laughably-gargantuan cranium into the Main Hall to take a peak at Godspeed You! Black Emperor, whose second set of the weekend I’ll watch tomorrow, I poor-coordinationed my way over to Het Patronaat to close out my night with a blast of Japanese sludge from Greenmachine, who were performing their 1997 debut, D.A.M.N., in its entirety. Their onslaught was immediate save for a small technical issue with one of the amps, and they delivered a pummel worthy of the underground influence they’ve had in their home country and beyond. I was digging the hell out of it, but have no problem admitting I was done before they were. When it’s time to go greenmachine (Photo by JJ Koczan)back to the hotel and write, there’s really nothing else to be done except that.

With the banana I’d found earlier in the day backstage still in the side pocket of my cosmic backpack, I knuckledragged back to the hotel through a Weirdo Canyon that looked like some kind of clash of civilizations, with dance clubs open and beardo metallers sitting out in cafes red-eyed and addled from a long day of whathaveyou. The anthropologist in me — and no, there isn’t an anthropologist in me — wanted to start interviewing members of different subcultures to see how they could possibly exist in the same space at the same time, but, well, there’s still Day Four of Roadburn 2018 to go tomorrow, and plenty enough already to keep me busy in the meantime.

You know what I did tonight? I introduced myself to Ester Segarra. Zero chance you remember, but a couple months back, I posted about how incredibly talented a photographer she is (and she is) and the collection she had coming out via Season of Mist and I said that in all the years I’d seen her in the photo pit at Roadburn, I’d never been brave enough to introduce myself. Well, as I was on my way from Sacri Monti to Greenmachine, she was walking the opposite direction in the front hallway of the 013 and I stopped her, shook her hand and said who I was. It might’ve been the bravest thing I’ve done this weekend up to this point, and to be frank, I don’t really see myself trying to top it tomorrow. But hey, I said hi to Ester Segarra. And she didn’t even tell me to go fuck myself. She was super-nice. Bonus.

More of my nowhere-near-as-good-as-Ester-Segarra’s photography after the jump, if you’re up for it. Thanks for reading.

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Roadburn 2018 Makes First Announcements: Godspeed You! Black Emperor to Headline; Jacob Bannon to Curate; The Heads, Panopticon, Bell Witch & More Confirmed

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 21st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Today begins Roadburn season — the hap-happiest season of all. The Netherlands-based festival begins the run toward Roadburn 2018 by announcing Godspeed You! Black Emperor will headline two nights, Jacob Bannon of Converge will curate as his band returns for two more full-album sets, Panopticon will play twice, Ivar Bjørnson of Enslaved and Einar Selvik of Wardruna will follow-up their performance of Skuggsjá in 2015 with Hugsjá, which sounds even cuddlier, UK psychedelic gurus The Heads will return, Bell Witch will play an album in full that, as of today, isn’t even out yet, and many, many more have been added.

In other words, Roadburn 2018 is a Roadburn. Tickets go on sale on Oct. 19 and will no doubt be gone if not immediately than shortly thereafter. It is my sincere hope, as always, to be at Roadburn come April. This would be my 10th time in Tilburg for the fest and it already looks like the kind of maddeningly complex avant-garde art-project gathering that has made past years so special.

More to come, of course. In the meantime, if you get to check it out, I wrote the announcement for The Heads, which was a lot of fun. Here’s that along with everything else for Roadburn 2018 so far:

Roadburn 2018 first confirmations; includes festival headliners, curator and poster artist.

GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR will perform two different sets as Saturday and Sunday headliners

JACOB BANNON confirmed as the 2018 curator

CONVERGE will perform two shows, including a You Fail Me set

Einar Selvik & Ivar Bjørnson will present HUGSJÁ for the first time outside of Norway

BELL WITCH will perform two sets including new album Mirror Reaper in full

PANOPTICON to make their Roadburn debut playing two different sets.

Roadburn’s official poster artist for 2018 is RICHEY BECKETT

Tickets will go on sale on October 19.

Roadburn Festival is proud to announce the first artists for the 2018 line up, which will take place at the 013 venue, Tilburg, The Netherlands between April 19-22.

Artistic Director, Walter Hoeijmakers commented:”At Roadburn, we’re always looking to push the envelope when it comes to working with creative and diverse artists; we’ll never settle for toeing the line. These first artists should give you an idea of the direction that Roadburn will be taking in 2018, but as ever, don’t assume you have us sussed – we always have more up our sleeve!”

GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR

Godspeed You! Black Emperor have slid smoothly into our collective consciousness, picked apart the very notion of what it means to be a band and teetered on the precipice between serenity and all out chaos. The diversity of their output and their ability to always keep us guessing is a big part of why having them perform two headlining sets at Roadburn feels like a natural fit.

Their varied back catalogue makes for rich pickings, should they choose to cycle back through previous representations of the band; should they opt to look forward, into the unknown, we await with baited breath to see what is delivered during their two separate performances. Their live shows are renowned for being all-encompassing, immersive experiences, where even the visual aspect is overwhelming, usually including film projection performances that gain as much impact to the overall event as the music itself, the two interwoven as one. No doubt their Roadburn performances will be ones for the history books.

Godspeed You! Black Emperor will perform at the 013 venue on Saturday, 21 April and Sunday, 22 April. Read more here.

2018 CURATOR: JACOB BANNON

When Converge performed two groundbreaking sets at Roadburn 2016, followed by Jacob’s Wear Your Wounds set at Roadburn 2017, we knew we’d found a kindred spirit. Known not only for his audio output, but also for his visual art and founding role in Deathwish Inc; Bannon’s influence is broad and his Roadburn wish list is very much in tune with our own visions.

Jacob commented: “It is an honor to be working as the curator for Roadburn Festival 2018. The festival is unlike any other, showcasing the most forward thinking artists and musicians of the heavy music world. As this year’s curator I will reach across its sub-genres to bring together an array incredible bands/musicians; expanding the reach of the festival while celebrating the world of extreme music that we all love.”

Jacob Bannon will curate the main stage at the 013 venue on Friday, 20 April, and Het Patronaat on Saturday, 21 April. Read more here.

CONVERGE

The aforementioned Converge sets in 2016 were something truly special to behold. The Blood Moon set – which featured Chelsea Wolfe, Steve Von Till and Stephen Brodsky – will go down in Roadburn history, and the one-off Jane Doe set has already been committed to record such was the impact of the performance.

The relationship between Converge and Roadburn is far from over, and we’re thrilled that these four incredible musicians will return to the Roadburn stage for two essential sets in 2018.

Jacob Bannon elaborates on the performances: “In 2016, we played our Jane Doe album in its entirety at Roadburn Festival. For our 2018 return, we will perform our album You Fail Me in its entirety. Originally released in 2004, this album marked a turning point for our band internally and in many ways it is considered the beginning of the modern era of our band. This performance will be a one time only event, exclusive to Roadburn.”

“It took our band nearly five years to cut and shape our most recent album The Dusk In Us. Scheduled for release on November 3rd through Epitaph and Deathwish, it is a very emotional album for the band. All four of us went through a lot of trials and tribulations in those years and it is reflected in those songs, connecting with our lives ways hard to put into words. It will be an honor to play this material in its entirety for the Roadburn audience. We hope it will be as special for you as it will be for us.”

Converge will play The Dusk In Us on Thursday, 19 April, and You Fail Me on Friday, 20 April at the 013 venue, Tilburg, The Netherlands. Read more here.

HUGSJÁ

This new collaborative musical piece is designed by former Roadburn curators, Ivar Bjørnson and Einar Selvik, combining indigenous and contemporary music with Norse and Norwegian poetry, accompanied by instruments from the Stone Age through to the present day. It’s set to be a monumental follow up to Skuggjá’s international premiere at Roadburn 2015.

A series of concerts named Nordvegen (‘the northern road’ – an ancient shipping route connecting Norway to the rest of the world for some 3000 years), was performed in four harbors along the west coast of Norway in late May and early June of 2017. The audience was taken on a spectacular journey along this route in a musical declaration of love to Norwegian coastal culture and Norse history. The concerts were inspired by local history in each of these places. The Nordvegen concerts created an acoustic and intimate basis for the grandiose commissioned work, Hugsjá, which received its world premiere in Bergen concert hall Grieghallen on May 31st. Originally commissioned by and performed at Bergen International Festival, the piece will now sail southwards to Roadburn 2018.

Einar & Ivar will also be taking part in a “guided tour” of Hugsjá; explaining more about the origins of the composition, and taking questions from the audience.

Hugsjá will be performed on Saturday, 21 April at the 013 venue. Read more here.

BELL WITCH

Although it’s not yet released, the upcoming 83-minute album from Bell Witch, titled Mirror Reaper, is already making waves on Planet Roadburn. Recreating the record in all it’s crushingly exquisite glory requires the input of Erik Moggridge (Aerial Ruin), who we are delighted to welcome to Roadburn to complete the performance of Mirror Reaper.

As Moggridge has appeared on all Bell Witch releases to date in some capacity, we are thrilled that Bell Witch have agreed to perform a second set of music with him. Expect his fragile yet evocative vocal style to lend an even more ghastly and ethereal quality to Bell Witch’s already otherworldly sound.

Bell Witch will perform on Saturday 21 April at the 013 venue and Sunday, 22 April at Het Patronaat. Read more here.

PANOPTICON

For the past decade, Austin Lunn has created some of the most evocative and personal American black metal in relative isolation. With only a few shows under their belt, the band has astounded and delighted with each appearance in their short live tenure. To make this Roadburn appearance even more special, we’ll be treated to two separate sets during the festival.

Panopticon will perform selected songs from a new double album entitled The Scars of Man on the Once Nameless Wilderness during one set, and a career spanning selection of tracks will be performed during the other. From the rawer, vicious material compiled on the early …On the Subject of Mortality collection to the groundbreaking bluegrass-heavy Kentucky to the shimmering melody and majesty of recent releases Roads to the North and Autumn Eternal – this is a rare treat and we can’t wait to feel the soot and smoke in our hearts and heads as Panopticon levels the venue.

Panopticon will perform at Het Patronaat on Friday, 19 April, and the 013 venue on Saturday, 20 April. Read more here.

EX EYE

When word got out that master saxophonist Colin Stetson had put a new metal band together called Ex Eye, excitement levels were high. The relentlessness of the band’s assault, the enormity of its scope and the unbound energy they exhale means that they make music that might skip your brain altogether and activate your nervous extremities all by itself. Just seeing a legendary figure like Colin on stage playing metal would be satisfying enough; that he’s recruited people like Liturgy’s Greg Fox on drums, bassist Shahzad Ismaily (who’s played with the mighty Secret Chiefs 3) and guitarist/composer Toby Summerfield to complete this stellar line-up is just icing on the cake.

Ex Eye will perform at the 013 venue on Thursday, 19 April. Read more here.

THE HEADS

The Heads have a special place in the history of Roadburn. Not just because the UK psych lords have made multiple visits over the years – 2006, 2008, artists-in-residence in 2015 – but for the transformative effect their sets have had on the crowds, the vibe, the very fest itself. Nobody takes Roadburn to where The Heads take Roadburn.

“Roadburn is the best festival The Heads have played,” enthuses guitarist/vocalist Simon Price. “The vibes, the crowds, the bands, the organisation; it’s the whole package. Roadburn always delivers. Playing on stage or just wandering around, it makes me grin. It is The Heads’ spiritual home. We can’t wait to bring it on again in 2018.”

The Heads will perform at the 013 venue on Saturday, 21 April. Read more here.

IGORRR

The brainchild of French composer and multi-instrumentist Gautier Serre, IGORRR is genuinely disorienting. One of the most excitingly unpredictable acts in any genre you might want to try and shove them into, its wild character and fearless will to experiment are the staples of the sort of creativity we fiercely stand behind at Roadburn. What choice did we have but to bring this wrecking ball of delirious creativity to Roadburn and see and hear for ourselves how it all translates to the stage with a full band playing it?

Igorrr will perform on Friday, April 20 at the 013 venue. Read more here.

AERIAL RUIN

Aerial Ruin – AKA Erik Moggridge – may be best known to many on the basis of his frequent appearances on albums by the mighty Bell Witch, but his own project displays a remarkable sense of texture and delicacy that is equal in its melancholy yet entirely independent. Aerial Ruin’s recently released Nameless Sun beautifully follows the tradition set forth on its predecessor Ash of Your Cares in offering up eerie acoustic confessionals that can raise the hairs on the back of your neck. Moggridge plays guitar with the precision of a spider slowly building its web; everything falls into place delicately yet with a brilliant and focused grace.

Aerial Ruin will perform on Saturday, April 21 at the 013 venue. Read more here.

SANGRE DE MUERDAGO

Led by Pablo C. Ursusson, a musician and lyricist who has also done work in painting and sculpture, Sangre de Muerdago is deeply connected to the very earth of their Galicia homeland. With a background in Spanish punk and other kinds of countercultural movements, the band is the vehicle through which these musicians leave the harshness and aggression aside and channel the folk tales of Galicia through traditional instruments and gentle, haunting, ancient-sounding singing.

Sangre de Muerdago will perform at Het Patronaat on Friday, 20 April. Read more here.

RICHEY BECKETT

Having made a dent in the Roadburn psyche earlier this year when he took part in the Full Bleed art exhibition at the 2017 edition of the festival, Richey Beckett will be returning next year. This time he will be our official poster artist, creating the artwork that will adorn our posters and merchandise for the 2018 edition.

Based in South Wales, Beckett is a highly talented artist with his roots firmly planted in the natural world, where he draws much of his inspiration from.

Beckett comments: “Being invited to create visual artwork for this year’s Roadburn is a tremendous honour. Roadburn isn’t just another heavy music festival, it’s something that over the years has evolved into a pilgrimage of a worldwide community; a celebration of music, the creative spirit and camaraderie.”
Read more about Richey Beckett here.

TICKET ONSALE DATE

Roadburn 2018 tickets will go on sale on October 19. They will be available to purchase in person from the 013 box office from 18.30- 20.30 local time, and online worldwide from 21.00 CEST. Ahead of the tickets going onsale, we will be able to confirm more details of the line up, plus camping options in Tilburg during the festival.

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Roadburn 2018 First Announcement Video

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Quarterly Review: 40 Watt Sun, Worm Ouroboros, The Heads, Jason Simon, Danava, Pylar, Domkraft, Picaporters, Deamon’s Child, Fungal Abyss

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

the obelisk winter quarterly review

We press on with the Quarterly Review and writeups #41-50 of the total 60 to be featured. Some considerable names in this batch, as I suppose there have been all along, but one of the functions this feature has come to serve is to allow me a space to offer some comment on bigger records that, let’s be frank, are being covered everywhere in the universe, while fleshing out coverage elsewhere of things like bands’ debuts and some other less-ubiquitous offerings. That’s become the idea anyway. Doesn’t always go like that, but it’s kind of a relief to have somewhere I can put the extra 200 reviews per year rather than miss out. We’ll wrap this one up on Monday, but just because it’s the end of the week and because it’s my general sentiment, thanks for reading.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

40 Watt Sun, Wider than the Sky

40 watt sun wider than the sky

With their second album, the awaited Wider than the Sky, London’s 40 Watt Sun continue to be defined by their depressive expressionism. The six-track/62-minute follow-up to 2011’s The Inside Room (review here) finds guitarist/vocalist Patrick Walker (ex-Warning), bassist William Spong and drummer Christian Leitch opening with the longest inclusion (immediate points) in the gorgeously mournful 16-minute unfolding of “Stages.” Sonically lush but still somehow raw and minimal in its emotionality, a slow drear sets the tone for what will follow in “Beyond You” and “Another Room,” “Pictures and “Craven Road,” which alternate on either side of the 10-minute mark until closer “Marazion” (3:57) seems to resonate a less-hopeless spirit. More than The Inside Room, Wider than the Sky realizes itself in emotional rather than tonal weight, and while one often identifies these feelings with things cold and grey, it would require a willful blindness not to recognize the humanity and warmth coming through in Walker’s delivery of this material. Wide it may be, but not at all distant.

40 Watt Sun on Thee Facebooks

40 Watt Sun website

 

Worm Ouroboros, What Graceless Dawn

worm ouroboros what graceless dawn

The duality of Worm Ouroboros’ third album for Profound Lore, What Graceless Dawn, is almost as prevalent as the irony that its title should include the word “graceless” when the 63-minute six-tracker itself is so melodically poised. It’s dark, but hopeful, spacious and compact, challenging but simply and often minimally arranged, patient and emotionally intense, and heavy even as it seems to float from one extended piece to the next on a current of intertwining, nigh-operatic vocals from bassist Lorraine Rath (ex-Amber Asylum) and guitarist Jessica Way (World Eater) while Aesop Dekker (Agalloch, Vhöl) seems just as comfortable in the quiet midsection stretch of 13-minute centerpiece “Ribbon of Shadow” as in the rumbling payoff of “Suffering Tree” just before. Running from opener “Day” to closer “Night,” What Graceless Dawn is nothing if not coherent, and while the band’s core approach has been largely consistent across their 2010 self-titled debut (review here) and 2012’s Come the Thaw, the Bay Area trio maintain a clear commitment to forward-moving artistry that stirs the consciousness.

Worm Ouroboros on Thee Facebooks

Profound Lore Records website

 

The Heads, Burning up With: Live at Roadburn 2015

the heads burning up with

I was fortunate enough to be there when UK heavy psych legends The Heads played the Main Stage set at Roadburn 2015 captured on the Burning World Records release Burning up With…, and indeed the preservation of the band’s utter liquefaction of that large room is well worth preserving across the four sides of a double-LP. The only drawback to a vinyl version of their set is that while the individual songs are presented as side-consuming medleys – “Cardinal Fuzz/KRT,” “Gnu/Legevaan Sattelite/U33,” and so on – that still requires some measure of break to flip from one to the next, whereas in the all-at-once linearity of a CD or digital listen, one finds the overwhelming lysergic proceedings intact as they were from the stage, gloriously molten and entrancingly jammed out by the longtime masters of the form. I won’t even attempt to give its spaciousness a proper assessment since just about anything The Heads do is a gift defying impartiality, especially something like this, but yeah, get on it.

The Heads on Thee Facebooks

Burning World Records website

 

Jason Simon, Familiar Haunts

jason simon familiar haunts

Back in 2010, Dead Meadow frontman Jason Simon released an eponymous solo debut on Tee Pee that found him working in a folkish sphere, and his six-years-later follow-up, Familiar Haunts (on Tekeli-Li, Cardinal Fuzz, Burger Records and Blind Blind Tiger), has some of those elements as well on the twanging, finger-plucking “Pretty Polly” and subdued strum of “Seven Sisters of Sleep,” but Simon has also assembled a four-piece band here, and from the pickup of opener “The People Dance, the People Sing,” through the fuzz experimentalism of “Now I’m Telling You” and the airy linear build of the penultimate 11-minute highlight “Wheels Will Spin,” there’s no lack of fullness in the sound. One finds a particularly engaging blend on “Hills of Mexico,” a six-minute rambler that fluidly brings together neofolk and desert ambience, though as Simon and company play sounds off each other in this material, “engaging blend” would seem to be the underlying theme of Familiar Haunts as a whole.

Jason Simon on Bandcamp

Cardinal Fuzz Records

 

Danava, At Midnight You Die

danava at midnight you die

Over a decade removed from their 2006 self-titled debut and five years past their third album, 2011’s Hemisphere of Shadows, one might easily argue that Portland, Oregon’s Danava are due for a full-length release. Sure, the band led by guitarist/vocalist Gregory Meleny have toured plenty in that time in the US and abroad, put out splits and so on, and that has consistently and organically grown their fanbase. Sating that fanbase would seem to be the motivation behind the two-song 7” At Midnight You Die (on Tee Pee), on which the titular A-side finds the four-piece making the most of their dual guitars – Meleny and Pete Hughes (Sons of Huns) shredding in proto-NWOBHM fashion – while the B-side takes on the bizarre and foreboding folk ambience of “My Spirit Runs Free,” short at three minutes, acoustic and sourced from 1979’s The Capture of Bigfoot. So yeah, it’s like that. No new record, but a ripper and some delightful weirdness on hand, and I suspect at this point many of their followers will take what they can get.

Danava on Thee Facebooks

Danava at Tee Pee Records

 

Pylar, Pyedra

pylar pyedra

Some bands are just on their own wavelength, and as much as one might be tempted to relate Sevilla’s Pylar to SunnO))) with their robes and their drones, the Spanish troupe’s four-track full-length, Pyedra (on Alone Records), sees them emitting a slew of horrors all their own. Working as a five-piece, Pylar open with “Menga” (10:57), their longest cut (immediate points) and establish a basis of amelodic, largely arrhythmic noise-jazz. There are more straightforward currents in the subsequent rumble and roll of “Megalitos” (10:33), and “Menhir” (9:37) would seem to draw both sides together before “Meteoros” (9:07) rounds out with an airy, horn-topped alternate-universe victory, but the whole of Pyedra remains informed by the way-off-kilter challenge it poses at the outset, and part of the thrill is making your way through with no idea of what’s coming next other than another extended song beginning with the letter ‘m.’ Will be too much for some, but Pylar’s bleak experimentalism assures cultish appeal worthy of those robes the band wears.

Pylar on Bandcamp

Pylar at Alone Records

 

Domkraft, The End of Electricity

domkraft the end of electricity

Proliferating a combination of speaker-punishing low-end riffs and post-rock-derived spaciousness, Swedish trio Domkraft debut on Magnetic Eye Records with the wholesale immersion of The End of Electricity and evoke heft no less substantial than their stated theme. They begin with their two longest tracks (which I guess is double points?) in “The Rift” and “Meltdown of the Orb,” and by the time they’re through them, bassist/vocalist Martin Wegeland, guitarist Martin Widholm and drummer Anders Dahlgren have already doled out a full LP’s worth of nod, which would seem to make what follows after the momentary breather of “Drones” in “Red Lead,” “All Come Hither” the shorter “Dustrider” and closer “We Will Follow” a bonus round – in which Domkraft also dominate. Because its heavy is so heavy and because Wegeland’s vocals arrive across the board as far-back, shouted echoes, it’s easy to lose sight of the ambience that goes with all that roll, but what ultimately gives The End of Electricity such character is that it creates as much of a world as it destroys.

Domkraft on Thee Facebooks

Magnetic Eye Records on Bandcamp

 

Picaporters, El Horror Oculto

picaporters el horror oculto

Back in 2013, Buenos Aires outfit Picaporters made an encouraging debut with Elefantes (review here). They’ve teased the follow-up, El Horror Oculto (on South American Sludge), over the last year-plus with several digital singles, but the album’s arrival hits with a distinct fleshing out of atmosphere, as heard on the grueling second cut “Diferentes Formas de Ostras” or the manner in which the centerpiece title-track departs from its raucous opening into a heavy-psychedelic meander, never to return, feeding off of the structure of “Humo Ancestral” directly before. An interlude “Etude 6” leads into the opening drift of “Ra,” but it’s a ruse as Picaporters offer some of the album’s most driving heavy rock in that cut’s second half, and close out with Sabbath-darkness-via-Zeppelin-noodling on “War is Over,” the trio coming together in a molten psychedelic doom that seems to draw from the various sides they’ve shown throughout without losing sight of pushing further in its summary.

Picaporters on Thee Facebooks

South American Sludge Records on Thee Facebooks

 

Deamon’s Child, Scherben Müssen Sein

deamon's child scherben mussen sein

It would be a mistake to judge Deamon’s Child’s second full-length, Scherben Müssen Sein (on Zygmatron), by any single one of its tracks, as the German trio makes plain in the dramatic shift from the crushing sludge of “Zucker” into the raw punk thrust of the subsequent “Keine Zeit.” Elsewhere, they find funky footing before punking out once again in “Schweinehund, Kimm Tanz Mit Mir!” and rumble the outing to a finish consuming in its largesse on the 10-minute “Nichts,” so yes, as they follow-up their 2014 self-titled debut (review here), Deamon’s Child hold fast to the sense of the unhinged proffered therein while uniting their material through an intensity that comes across regardless of tempo or surrounding purpose. They are on the beat, not behind it, pushing forward always. That can make Scherben Müssen Sein difficult to keep track of as it moves swiftly through the blast of “Monster” and the manipulated samples of “In Kinderschuhen” toward that finale, but the mission here is far, far away from easy listening, so all the better.

Deamon’s Child on Thee Facebooks

Deamon’s Child on Bandcamp

 

Fungal Abyss, Bardo Abgrund Temple

fungal abyss bardo abgrund temple

Adansonia Records offers a bonus-track-laden revisit of the 2011 debut release, Bardo Abgrund Temple, from Seattle shroom-jammers Fungal Abyss, whose improvisational sensibility comes through the original four extended cuts with no diminishing of their otherworldly trip-out for the half-decade that’s passed since they first surfaced. Those looking for a US counterpart to European psych-improv outfits like Electric Moon or Øresund Space Collective – i.e., me – would do well to dig into opener “Arc of the Covenant” (20:12) or closer “Fungal DeBrist” (24:07) as a lead-in for the earlier-2016 follow-up, Karma Suture (review here), as well as their companion live outings, but whatever contextual approach a listener might want to take, the instrumental stretch of Bardo Abgrund Temple is a serenely heavy and meandering path to walk, given to bouts of space-rock thrust and long passages of low-end droner nod, as heard on the 10-minute “Timewave Zero,” turned on and duly ritualized in its swirl and far-off vocalizations. A reissue well-earned of a gracefully cosmic debut.

Fungal Abyss on Thee Facebooks

Adansonia Records on Thee Facebooks

 

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Roadburn 2015: Streaming Sets from The Heads, Botanist, Bardspec, Eyehategod, Kandodo, Darkher, White Hills, Zoltan and Brimstone

Posted in audiObelisk on August 18th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

The Heads at Roadburn 2015 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

The Heads were so goddamn good at Roadburn. As any edition will, Roadburn 2015 had some truly spectacular performances, both that I saw and that I heard about later and regretted not seeing, but one I consider myself very, very fortunate to have caught was that of The Heads on the Main Stage at the 013. Pure, raw and complete psychedelic mastery, it was probably in the top three heavy psych sets I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen a few in my time. Bands sound molten on studio recordings all the time, but for them to bring that vibe to the stage was, well, it was The Heads, and they absolutely killed it.

But as I say, Roadburn 2015 had more than several spectacular gigs. Anytime Eyehategod go anywhere, they leave an impact, and I also managed to see that Kandodo set, which had Robert Hampson of Loop sitting in on guitar — speaking of molten psychedelics — as well as White Hills and Bardspec, the latter which was just Ivar Bjørnson and Arve “Ice Dale” Isdal of Enslaved experimenting with different chords and manipulations on a laptop. Very cool vibe there too.

The latest batch of Roadburn 2015 audio streams has all those, plus BotanistBrimstoneDarkher and Zoltan, which makes it quite a batch indeed. Enjoy:

(Ivar Bjørnson’s) Bardspec – Live at Roadburn 2015

Botanist – Live at Roadburn 2015

Brimstone- Live at Roadburn 2015

Darkher – Live at Roadburn 2015

Eyehategod – Live at Roadburn 2015

The Heads – Live at Roadburn 2015 (Main Stage)

Kandodo ft. Robert Hampson – Live at Roadburn 2015

White Hills – Live at Roadburn 2015

Zoltan – Live at Roadburn 2015

Special thanks to Walter as always for letting me host the streams. To read all of this year’s Roadburn coverage, click here. For the first, second and third batches of streams, click here and then click here and then click here and then click here.

Roadburn’s website

Marcel Van De Vondervoort on Thee Facebooks

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ROADBURN 2015 DAY THREE: Return to the Lake of Madness

Posted in Features, Reviews on April 12th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

roadburn 2015 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

04.11.15 — 04.00 — Late Sat./Early Sun. — Hotel

It was a misguided attempt at sleep that led me to bed after watching Coltsblood to round out my night. Didn’t work beyond the apparently standard three hours, which is what I’ve gotten give or take each night since Wednesday. When I lie down, my head hears parts of songs, David Eugene Edwards saying, “You don’t know me from Adam, down here in the lamp light,” or Sæþór Sæþórsson of Sólstafir‘s banjo in the back half of “Ótta,” among others. One day bleeds into the next. I dragged ass most of the afternoon and evening, to be perfectly honest, and given the tossing and turning I’ve just done and the fact that I’m up two hours before I set the alarm, I expect the trend to continue. weirdo canyon dispatch sat coverStill, when you’re here, you have to keep going. There’s more to see and more to hear.

We finished the third issue of this year’s Weirdo Canyon Dispatch on schedule, folding and all. It’s online here if you get the chance to check it out.

The weather, which had been gorgeous enough to boast some restorative effect of its own, has turned. I could just as easily call it “yesterday,” but for the purposes of review, I hope you’ll allow the editorial decision to keep current: “Today.” The weather turned today. As though it knew UndersmileUrfaust, and Fields of the Nephilim were all on the bill and decided “enough of this sunny shit, let’s get down to business for real.” It cleared up later, but was still colder than it had been, and early in the afternoon, I looked outside at one point and saw waves of rain coming down. That was right after Coma Wall, which, you know, fair enough.

Playing as a five-piece with their usual two couples plus a cellist, the mostly-acoustic alter-ego of Undersmile started my day off at Stage01. I got there early, which you have to do, and I wasn’t the only one. Taz Corona-Brown, Olly Corona-Brown, Hel Sterne and Tom McKibbin, plus Tom Greenway on the cello spread out over the stage, McKibbin behind, pulling double-dutyComa Wall (Photo by JJ Koczan) on drums and banjo. With Taz and Hel in dresses and quickly sliding into the sort of drawling dual vocals that are a trademark of both Coma Wall and Undersmile, there was a theatrical element to it, but the thickness of the atmosphere spoke for itself as they hit into “Summer” from their 2013 Wood & Wire split with, who else?, their other band. Off to the side of the stage, Olly sat on bass facing the others, kind of overseeing the whole thing with one leg crossed over the other. He looked managerial, but the low end filled the room well, and Coma Wall eased my way into the Roadburn Saturday better than I could’ve asked.

I’d still like to hear them take on “Rotten Apple” or “Don’t Follow” — something off Jar of Flies — which I think they’d nail in the vocals and really be able to darken the mood on, but wouldn’t you know they weren’t taking requests. Couldn’t argue, anyway. Over in the main hall, Claudio Simonetti’s Goblin were well into a live soundtrack to 1978’s Dawn of the Dead, which played on the big screen behind them, audio and all. I saw them here for a bit last year, and sure enough parts of the score were recognizable from that set as well as the movie. Like with Sólstafir‘s live soundtrack on Thursday, there were spaces without any music at all, but of course the difference is that Goblin also wrote the score originally, so to see them do it live to the film was something extra special.

Claudio Simonetti's Goblin (Photo by JJ Koczan)Perhaps most impressive about it was the timing, which they nailed. Keeping pace to scene changes and the film’s quick cuts, they ran through various pieces and themes, the quick bursts for tension as everything goes to crap with all the zombies at the mall, the biker gang showing up and bringing Tom Savini, and so on. It’s been a while since I saw it, and I’d forgotten how many classic lines there are in the film, about Hell being full and the dead walking the earth, and “Operator dead, post abandoned.” There were some times where the balance of audio was lopsided one way or another — hard to match up a film and a live band on stage — but it smoothed out, and I can’t imagine it was many attendees’ first time seeing the movie. That said, I’ve never watched Suspiria, which Claudio Simonetti’s Goblin are scoring as part of the Afterburner, so who knows? When they were done, the four-piece came to the middle of the stage from their spread-out positions, two on one side, two on the other, the middle open to allow the eye to watch the movie, and took a bow. A few seconds before, the credits rolled past with their name listed as The Goblins. So be it.

Enslaved (Photo by JJ Koczan)Next up on the Main Stage was a second go for Enslaved. I tried before they went on to calculate in my head how many Enslaved-related sets there were this year in comparison to 2010, when they were the official artist-in-residence and did sets with offshoot projects like Trinacria and their collaboration with Shining. Between their set last night, the Skuggsjá collaboration with Wardruna that followed, guitarist Ivar Bjørnson ‘s BardSpec set and today, I think they might have 2010 beat. I’m not sure if Bjørnson curating with Wardruna‘s Einar “Kvitrafn” Selvik counts for double or anything — you’d have to get into percentages and it proved too much for my feeble brain to take. In any case, today’s Enslaved set focused much more on newer material. Fair after last night. The recently-issued In Times (review pending) featured heavily with “Thurisaz Dreaming,” “Building with Fire,” “In Times” and “Daylight,” but there was still room to dip back to 2001’s Monumension for “Convoys to Nothingness,” or 2003’s progressive turning point Below the Lights for “As Fire Swept Clean the Earth,” and a balance was struck between the older and newer.

Further distinguishing today from yesterday, though, were the guests. When they got to “Daylight,” bassist/vocalist Grutle Kjellson announced they’d be joined by SelvikAðalbjörn Tryggvason from Sólstafir and Per Wiberg, now in CandlemassEnslaved (Photo by JJ Koczan) but known also for his work in Opeth and Spiritual Beggars. The three contributed on vocals at the beginning and end of the song, and Selvik came back out for a longer, soulful guest spot on “Convoys to Nothingness,” while Enslaved proper delivered again the kind of set that brought the crowd back from last night, “Isa” tossed in as a bonus and a cover of Led Zeppelin‘s “Immigrant Song” with more guest guitar included to add even more intrigue. It was not as intense as Friday had been, their newer material offering a more intricate but decidedly less raging style, but they handled it professionally, and seemed to be having as much fun as the audience while they ran through their second of the weekend’s two full sets. The Heads, who followed, are the official artists-in-residence this year, but Enslaved always seem to find welcome at Roadburn.

Particularly having missed The Heads when they played at Het Patronaat last night — Roadburn means hard choices — I knew I wanted to see them today. They were supposed to be here last year, and played in 2008, but with Walter doing live visuals The Heads (Photo by JJ Koczan)and the four-piece of lead guitarist Paul Allen, guitarist/vocalist Simon Price, bassist Hugo Morgan and drummer Wayne Maskell (the latter three who played as Kandodo on Thursday and joined forces with Loop‘s Robert Hampson at Het Patronaat), it was unmissable. A righteous set boasted jam-laden takes on “Gnu,” “Legavaan Satellite,” “U33” and “Spliff Riff,” the effect positively molten as they enacted space rock supremacy and handed Roadburn its ass over the course of 75 minutes. For me, they were the day’s hypnotic highlight, and I don’t think I was the only one. The crowd cheered as they went into and out of jams, builds paying off and starting anew. As I stood in the back and watched, next two me, two dudes were arguing in German and a third turned around and told them, in accented English, “Please, no politics while The Heads are on.” All laughed. Peace on Earth and goodwill to all Roadburners.

As with Kandodo the other night, The Heads‘ set made me want to The Heads (Photo by JJ Koczan)head over to the merch area and go, “Just give me everything,” though they have enough live albums over there that to try it and I’d be broke(r) in no time flat. I thought I had a pretty good idea of what to expect from them, knowing records like Everybody Knows We Got Nowhere, which was just recently reissued, At Last and their 1995 debut, Relaxing With…, but they were molten on stage, one song bleeding into the next in a consuming entirety that, even after they’d long since gone, kept the crowd howling. It was fucking awesome. I don’t know how many times I’ll get to see The Heads in my life, but I’m not likely to forget the first, in any case, and if I take nothing else away from Roadburn this year, I’ll take a new touchstone for heavy psych live performance. “It’s good, but is it The Heads good?” will prove a hard standard for most to meet.

Over in the Green Room, Black Anvil were finishing up a punishing set and I watched for a minute through the door as they pummeled away. Undersmile were on next in there, and I’ve been following them since their split with Caretaker in 2011 (review here), undersmile 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)so I didn’t want to miss it. They have a new full-length out called Anhedonia, and while I’m a little heartbroken at not having heard it — I loved 2012’s lung-filling debut LP, Narwhal (review here), and thought I had a pretty good relationship with the band — it still seemed prudent to show up early for a dose of their grueling, claustrophobic-but-melodically-brilliant doom, especially as a crushing companion piece to Coma Wall earlier in the day, a sort of bookend with the same lineup minus Greenway‘s cello. They were heavy enough to feel the sound in your chest. I give McKibbin credit for being able to push the tones of HelTaz and Olly along, even at such a lumbering pace. By the sound alone, it seems like a task more suited to the crane outside working on the addition to the 013, but the drums do drive Undersmile‘s material forward, and they packed out the Green Room to the point where even the space to watch through the door was full. I felt equal parts lucky to see them, bummed I haven’t heard the new album, and glad I showed up early while they were setting up. It was quite an emotional rollercoaster. Maybe that’s why I had to come back to the hotel and go to sleep afterwards.

Or maybe I was just rendered unconscious by fucking Coltsblood who — holy shit — took Stage01, removed all its fillings and performed a root canal with a safety pin. It was fucking ridiculous. Hyperbole-worthy madness that even H.P. Lovecraft himself would stare at and be like, “Damn, that’s horrifying.” I watched the final few minutes of synth-heavy proggers Zoltan before the UK trio of bassist/vocalist John McNulty, guitarist Jemma McNulty and drummer Jay Plested (also of Black Magician, who played Het Patronaat at Roadburn 2013) went on, Coltsblood (Photo by JJ Koczan)but god damn. Even before they started, as Jemma checked her guitar and John ran the line on his bass, you knew it was going to be filthy. Their 2014 full-length debut, Into the Unfathomable Abyss (review here), seemed all the more aptly named as they got underway, and even though John had some technical trouble early on, they shared a bottle of mead on stage and absolutely laid waste to the smaller of the rooms at the 013. I say in full knowledge of John‘s prior association with the band that they were the heaviest thing I’ve seen in that space since Conan made their Roadburn debut there in 2012. They were unbelievable.

And it became quite clear that they’ve earned some loyalty of fanbase as well. The front of Stage01 was crowded with UK types, one of whom took on the solemn duty of making sure that Coltsblood‘s incense (of which I was markedly downwind) stayed lit. Another dude next to me alerted John when the sound guy called for him Coltsblood (Photo by JJ Koczan)to start checking his bass. This is a band that people are obviously taking very seriously. The deathly rumble of their extreme, dark, sludgy doom made earplugs a futile exercise, and especially in a one-two with Undersmile, they justified that reaction. With John shouting and growling into the mic while Plested slammed away behind and Jemma, entranced, riffed out a viscous, oil-thick morass, it made sense. I’d want to keep the incense lit too.

By the time I split out from Stage01, the air had more or less been driven out of the room. It was hot, sweaty, smelly — Roadburn means fart clouds — and suitably oppressive. Outside smelled like french fry grease from the food tent, but even that seemed like fresh air. I made my way back to the hotel and started to sort pictures out and get everything ready to review, but noticed after a few minutes that my head was down on the table and I couldn’t seem to pick it back up. I stared up at the laptop monitor for a little bit and decided to crawl into bed.

Wasn’t a crawl. More of a lurch. Either way, about three and a half hours later, I gave up the ghost and decided the middle of the night would be a perfect time to recount the day’s varying destructive encounters. Tomorrow — Sunday, which now that it’s after 06.00, I’m about ready to call the new “today” — is the Afterburner, also plenty busy with Lo-Pan and Abrahma and Argus and BongripperAnathema and The Golden Grass. Work on the final issue of the Weirdo Canyon Dispatch starts in about four hours and it will be here and gone before I know it. At least that’s how it usually seems to go.

More pics after the jump. Thanks for reading.

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The Heads Named Artists in Residence for Roadburn 2015

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 10th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

It was a bummer this year when UK psych legends The Heads bowed out of their appearance at the Roadburn festival in Tilburg, the Netherlands, but if year-to-year Roadburn has proved anything, it’s never count out the fest’s ability to make up for any lost ground. Oh, you’ve got a volcano grounding flights so people can’t get to play their sets? Bring them over next year and give them better slots. The Heads can’t play in 2014? Well, bring them over in 2015 and make them artists in residence, playing multiple sets that include Paul Allen in the mix and come on the heels of a reissue of their landmark second album, Everybody Knows We Got Nowhere, on their own Rooster Records.

That reissue is due out Sept. 28 in deluxe form — it’s a 2CD or 5LP, take your pick — and for the 20th Roadburn, it’s hard to think of a better way for the festival’s spirit to be embodied than to bring back The Heads for another go in even grander fashion.

Dig it:

THE HEADS (ALLEN, MASKELL, MORGAN, PRICE) – ARTIST IN RESIDENCE ROADBURN FESTIVAL 2015

We’re elated to announce that The Heads (Allen, Maskell, Morgan, Price) will return to Roadburn, their spiritual home in Europe, to follow in the footsteps of Enslaved, Circle, Justin K Broadrick and Neige (Alcest) as Artist In Residence at the 2015 festival (the 20th edition), set for April 9 – 12 at the 013 venue in Tilburg, The Netherlands.

For this very rare appearance, Paul Allen (Prof) is back in on lead guitar, completing the circle. All of the band members have been busy, Simon, Wayne and Hugo with Kandodo, Paul with Anthroprophh, and in the past year Wayne and (now) Hugo have joined Loop.

Meanwhile, The Heads reissue campaign rolls onwards, with the re-release of their second album “Everybody Knows we Got Nowhere” on their label, Rooster Records.

As Artist In Residence, The Heads will play separate sets over the course of Roadburn 2015. The first will be Kandodo and Anthroprophh, followed by a one-off collaborative freakout with a fellow traveller (TBC).

The band’s residency will culminate in some serious wigged out riffmongery and the melding point of amped-up space rock with blistering krautrock workouts on the main stage on Saturday, April 11.

At last, The Heads will turn their amps up once more and they will pummel the ears and minds of all who bear witness!

https://www.facebook.com/roadburnfestival
https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Heads/282801075465

The Heads, “Long Gone” from Everybody Knows We Got Nowhere

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