Posted in Whathaveyou on November 23rd, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Houston five-piece the Linus Pauling Quartet signed with Vincebus Eruptum Recordings — the label arm of the ultra-respected Italian ‘zine of the same name — earlier this year, and at the time, it was announced that their next full-length, Ampalanche, would be out this summer. Well, here we are talking about preorders, so obviously that didn’t happen. As usual of late, seems likely there was some delay in pressing the thing on the plant’s end. Turns out the only bummer about the vinyl resurgence has been the complete lack of infrastructure to sustain it. Whoops.
Doesn’t matter though, at least in this instance, because Linus Pauling Quartet‘s Ampalanche will be out on Jan. 15 as one to look forward to early in the New Year. Vincebus Eruptum cover artist Kabuto has helmed the thematically-appropriate piece that will adorn the front of the LP, and of course there will be multiple color editions of the platter itself, all of which will be available to order soon.
Editor of Vincebus Eruptum and head of the label Davide Pansolin — who also had a fascinating interview with the band in the ‘zine’s most recent issue that gave much insight into their origins and the Houston noise rock scene in the ’90s — shared his excitement about the release thusly:
I’m really proud, glad, excited, … to announce the official details about the new masterpiece by Houston’s band THE LINUS PAULING QUARTET!
The new awesome artwork by Kabuto is the best way to present “Ampalanche”, six tracks of rock’n’roll…no stoner-rock, no psychedelic music, no folk, no labels…it’s the best musical synthesis we ever listened!!!
The album will be officially released on the 15th of January 2016.
Limited edition vinyl (VELP010)
Ultra-limited edition of 100 hand-numbered (001/100) copies on coloured (colour #1 TBA) vinyl + inner + exclusive poster Limited edition of 200 hand-numbered (101/300) copies on coloured (colour #2 TBA) vinyl + inner Standard edition of 200 copies on black vinyl
Posted in Whathaveyou on May 15th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Underrated Texan heavy rockers TheLinus Pauling Quartet have a persistent tendency to fascinate. Whether they’re delving into cult nerd ideology writing a single about Cthulhu (review here) or partnering with a writer publishing under the Oxford Press — which is no small shakes as far as academic publishing goes — to pay homage to theoretical physicist Max Planck, or just riffing out stoner for stoner’s sake, there always seems to be a purpose behind what they do.
It was recently revealed that this fall, their new album, Ampalanche, will be released by Italian imprint Vincebus Eruptum Recordings, the label wing of the long-running print ‘zine of the same name — someone whose tastes it’s safe to say you can trust, in other words — and “Planck” is the first single to come from that outing. It will be released digitally May 26, and is set to be accompanied by a new video, as the band explains in the info below, sent down the PR wire:
Linus Pauling Quartet to release single/video this 26 May celebrating theoretical physicist Max Planck. (Wait, WHAT?!!! … is there going to be a test at the end of this?)
If there is one thing the Linus Pauling Quartet knows how to do, it’s to defy expectations. After a drop-C, gut punching, metal riffage anthem celebrating Cthulhu in 2014, the lads return this month with “Planck” – a song that veers more to the band’s melodic psych sensibilities and celebrates the work of Max Planck. While the song is to be featured in the forthcoming album “Ampalanche” later this year, this track is being released early as a digital single and a video to coincide with the release of the book Planck: Driven by Vision, Broken by War on Oxford University Press. The author of the book, Brandon R. Brown, also happens to be the main lyricist for the song (we like to say he’s Michael Moorcock to our B.O.C.). Below are the full details of the song, a link to the audio file, temporary press preview video link, lyrics, links to the book’s publisher as well as other stuff.
“The same thrill, the same awe and mystery, comes again and again when we look at any question deeply enough. With more knowledge comes a deeper, more wonderful mystery, luring one on to penetrate deeper still. Never concerned that the answer may prove disappointing, with pleasure and confidence we turn over each new stone to find unimagined strangeness leading on to more wonderful questions and mysteries – certainly a grand adventure!
It is true that few unscientific people have this particular type of religious experience. Our poets do not write about it; our artists do not try to portray this remarkable thing. I don’t know why. Is nobody inspired by our present picture of the universe? This value of science remains unsung by singers. You are reduced to hearing not a song or a poem, but an evening lecture about it. This is not yet a scientific age.” – Richard Feynman, The Value of Science (1955)
A curious thing happened after I finished reading this essay at the end of a Feynman anthology; an old friend of ours, Brandon Brown, mentioned that he was completing a book on Max Planck. Intrigued, I asked Brandon if he’d be so good as to pass along to me a draft and he did just that. Almost immediately I was sucked into the book. It’s with a bit of shame that I admit that I wasn’t very familiar with Planck before reading the book but Brandon’s style was fluid and accessible for a dope such as myself. I discovered that not only a new world of science opened up before me, but that I had also gained a better understanding of Planck and the world he lived in.
Perhaps with Feynman’s words still echoing in my brain, I took to the idea of writing a song about Planck to accompany the book. I asked Brandon if he wanted to collaborate on the lyrics and Brandon, the kind of person who isn’t afraid to take a chance, was more than happy to have a go at it with us. A few months of work later, Brandon, Clinton, and I had the song completed. In the studio, each member of the band added their own little flair to the song as well. The result of all this now lays before you.
The words reflect a mixture of Max’s scientific work as well a meditation on the great loss to history of his correspondence and scientific records under allied bombing during World War II. The lyrics are largely Brandon’s with contributions by myself and Clinton though we do take Planck’s own words during the bridge when we sing “Du musst glauben.”
Planck is the first single from the Linus Pauling Quartet’s forthcoming album, “Ampalache,” which will be available Winter 2015 on Vincebus Eruptum Recordings.
This early digital release coincides with the publication of the book “Planck: Driven by Vision, Broken by War” by Brandon R. Brown who also penned the vast majority of the song’s lyrics.
Video Premiere Date: 26 May 2015 Digital Single Edition Available: 26 May 2015
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)
Okay, so it works like this. Houston stoner garage rockers The Linus Pauling Quartet — who are a five-piece — have a 3CD box set coming out next week called Assault on the Vault of the Ancient Bonglords. They’ll be releasing it themselves on their own Homeskool Records, as they did earlier this year with their eighth album, Bag of Hammers(review here). To mark the occasion of the release, they’ve written a theme song for the box set. No surprise, it’s called “Assault on the Vault of the Ancient Bonglords.”
But make no mistake. This is a new song — as in, it doesn’t actually appear on the box set for which it’s named. What it does do, however, is make fantastic accompaniment to the charming and Shiner Bock-fueled video the band put together, half as a commercial for the box set and half as a showcase for the track itself. Because I’m a firm believer in the power of charm and the power of killer riffing, here’s the clip for the song:
If you find yourself digging the track and wishing you could hear more of it, you’re in luck as along with the video, The Linus Pauling Quartet also sent along the song itself, which is apparently just a couple weeks old. My understanding is this version isn’t mastered and they’ll have a final up soon as a free download, but here’s “Assault on the Vault of the Ancient Bonglords” to stream in the meantime if you’re up for digging in:
Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!
The Linus Pauling Quartet will release the 3CD box set Assault on the Vault of the AncientBonglordson Dec. 18 through Homeskool Records. For more info, hit them up at their Thee Facebooks page.
Posted in Reviews on October 16th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
I am constantly working at a deficit. Financially, yes, because like many of my countrymen I’m am tens of thousands of dollars in debt — but also in terms of reviews. I’malwaysbehind on reviews. Hell, it was into July of this year before I finally put the kybosh on writing up anything from 2011, and I’m pretty sure if I hadn’t put my foot down on it, I’d still have year-old albums going up or older. My to-do list grows like a witchcult.
It’s not something to complain about and I’m not complaining. I’m stoked people give enough of a shit to send their CDs in to be reviewed — especially those who actually send CDs — and it’s for that reason that I do this second reviewsplosion (first one here).
Yeah, as ever, I’m behind on reviews, but I’m also working on being more concise — I swear I am; check out the At a Glance reviews if you don’t believe me — and one of the things I liked so much about the last reviewsplosion was it forced me to get to the fucking point. As direct a line as possible to a review. Boiling the idea down to its essential core.
With that in mind, here’s my attempt to both balance my review budget and be as clear as humanly possible. Hope you dig:
Altar of Oblivion, Grand Gesture of Defiance
The subject of some spirited debate on the forum, the second record from Danish five-piece Altar of Oblivion revels in traditional doom methods. There’s an air of pomp in some of the songs — “Graveyard of Broken Dreams” lays it on a little thick — but by and large, Grand Gesture of Defiance(Shadow Kingdom) is a more than solid showing of genre. Classic underground metal flourishes abound, and while it’s not a record to change your life, at six tracks/34 minutes, neither does it hang around long enough to be overly repetitive. You could do way worse. Altar of Oblivion on Thee Facebooks.
Blooming Látigo, Esfínteres y Faquires
Primarily? Weird. The Spanish outfiit Blooming Látigo make their debut on Féretro Records (CD) and Trips und Träume (LP) with the all-the-fuck-over-the-place Esfínteres y Faquires, alternately grinding out post-hardcore and reciting Birthday Party-style poetry. They reach pretty hard to get to “experimental,” maybe harder than they need to, but the on-a-dime stops and high-pitched screams on tracks like “Onania” and “Prisciliano” are well beyond fascinating, and the blown-out ending of “La Destrucción del Aura” is fittingly apocalyptic. Who gave the art-school kids tube amps? Blooming Látigo on Bandcamp.
Five years since their second offering, Green Magic, left such a strong impression, Italian stoner rock trio El-Thule return with Zenit (Go Down Records), which makes up for lost time with 50 minutes of heavy riffs, fuzzy desert grooves and sharp, progressive rhythms. The band — El Comandante (bass), Mr. Action (guitar/vocals) and Gweedo Weedo (drums/vocals) — may have taken their time in getting it together, but there’s little about Zenit that lags, be it the faster, thrashier “Nemesis” or thicker, Torche-esque melodic push of the highlight “Quaoar.” It’s raw, production-wise, but I hope it’s not another half-decade before El-Thule follow it up. El-Thule on Thee Facebooks.
Botanist, III: Doom in Bloom
It’s a nature-worshiping post-black metal exploration of what the History Channel has given the catchy title “life after people.” If you’ve ever wondered what blastbeats might sound like on a dulcimer, Botanist‘s third album, III: Doom in Bloom has the answers you seek, caking its purported hatred of human kind in such creative instrumentation and lyrics reverent of the natural world rather than explicitly misanthropic. The CD (on Total Rust) comes packaged with a second disc called Allies, featuring the likes of Lotus Thief and Matrushka and giving the whole release a manifesto-type feel, which suits it well. Vehemently creative, it inadvertently taps into some of the best aspects of our species. Botanist’s website.
Say what you will about whiteboys and the blues, the bass tone that starts “Nobody Get Me Down” is unfuckwithable. And Seattle trio GravelRoad come by it pretty honestly, having served for years as the backing back for bluesman T-Model Ford. The album Psychedelta (on Knick Knack Records) jams out on its start-stop fuzz in a way that reminds not so much of Clutch but of the soul and funk records that inspired Clutch in the first place, and though it never gets quite as frenetic in its energy as Radio Moscow, there’s some of that same vibe persisting through “Keep on Movin'” or their Junior Kimbrough cover “Leave Her Alone.” Throaty vocals sound like a put-on, but if they can nail down that balance, GravelRoad‘s psychedelic blues has some real potential in its open spaces. GravelRoad on Thee Facebooks.
The Linus Pauling Quartet, Bag of Hammers
Texas toast. The Linus Pauling Quartet offer crisp sunbursts of psychedelic heavy rock, and after nearly 20 years and eight full-lengths, that shouldn’t exactly be as much of a surprise as it is. Nonetheless, Bag of Hammers(Homeskool Records) proffers a 41-minute collection of heady ’90s-loving-the-’70s tones while venturing into classic space rock on “Victory Gin” and ballsy riffing on “Saving Throw.” Being my first experience with the band, the album is a refreshing listen and unpretentious to its very core. Eight-minute culminating jam “Stonebringer” is as engaging a display of American stoner rock as I’ve heard this year, and I have to wonder why it took eight records before I finally heard this five-man quartet? Hits like its title. LP4’s website.
Odyssey, Abysmal Despair
It’s the damnedest thing, but listening to Abysmal Despair, the Transubstans Records debut from Swedish prog sludge/noise rockers Odyssey, I can’t help but think of Long Island’s own John Wilkes Booth. It’s the vocals, and I know that’s a really specific association most people aren’t going to have, but I do, and I can’t quite get past it. The album is varied, progressive, and working in a variety of modern underground heavy contexts nowhere near as foreboding as the album’s title might imply, like Truckfighters meets Entombed, but I just keep hearing JWB‘sKerry Merkle through his megaphone. Note: that’s not a bad thing, just oddly indicative of the greater sphere of worldwide sonic coincidence in which we all exist. If anything, that just makes me like Abysmal Despair more. Odyssey on Soundcloud.
Palkoski, 2012 Demo
Conceptual Virginian free-formers Palkoski released the three-track/67-minute 2012 demo earlier this year through Heavy Hound. Most of it sounds improvised, but for verses here and there that emerge from the various stretches, and the band’s alternately grinding and sparse soundscapery results in an unsettling mash of psychotic extremity. It is, at times, painful to listen, but like some lost tribal recording, it’s also utterly free. Limited to 100 CDs with a second track called “The Shittiest EP Ever” and a third that’s a sampling of Palkoski‘s ultra-abrasive noise experimentation live, this one is easily not for the faint of heart. Still, there’s something alluring in the challenge it poses. Palkoski at Heavy Hound.
Radar Men from the Moon, Echo Forever
Following their charming 2011 EP, Intergalactic Dada and Space Trombones, the Eindhoven instrumental trio Radar Men from the Moon (On the Radar’ed here) return on the relative quick with a 51-minute full-length, Echo Forever. More progressive in its jams, the album’s psychedelic sprawl shows the band developing — I hesitate to compare them to 35007 just because they happen to be Dutch, but the running bassline that underscores “Atomic Mother” is a tempter — but there’s still an immediacy behind their changes that keeps them from really belonging to the laid-back sphere of European jam-minded heavy psychedelia. They’re getting warmer though, stylistically and tonally, and I like that. Interesting to hear a song like “Heading for the Void” and think Sungrazer might be burgeoning as an influence. Cool jams for the converted. Radar Men from the Moon on Bandcamp.
Sound of Ground, Sky Colored Green
There are elements of of Yawning Man, or Unida or other acts in the Californian desert milieu, but basically, Moscow’s Sound of Ground sound like Kyuss. They know it. Their R.A.I.G. debut full-length, Sky Colored Green, makes no attempt to hide it, whether it’s the “Green Machine” riffing of “Lips of the Ocean” or the speedier Slo-Burnery of “El Caco,” though the metallic screaming on “R.H.S.” is a dead giveaway for the band’s youth, coming off more like early Down than anything Josh Homme ever plugged in to play. While not necessarily original, the trio are firm in their convictions, and Sound of Ground tear through these 11 tracks with engaging abandon. The Russian scene continues to intrigue. Sound of Ground on Thee Facebooks.
Texas-based five man foursome The Linus Pauling Quartet have a new video for the track “Victory Gin” from their new album, Bag of Hammers (review pending). The long-running psych rockers show off plenty of charm, though perhaps its best to let them describe what’s actually going on. Via the PR wire:
“Victory Gin” includes a cast of dulcimer-playing, liquor-guzzling sock puppets performing the catchy, post-apocalyptic jam they unleashed with BoH’s release. “Anyone who has seen us play live will attest to the fact that I play with a stuffed Jake the Dog and Lady Rainicorn on my Marshall amp for good luck,” says guitarist Ramon Medina, who also directed the video with the help of singer/guitarist Clinton Heider. After shooting, and joining their puppet stand-ins in some light drinking, the LP4 guys realized they might have gotten a little off-track. “The original inspiration was Dinosaur Jr.’s video for ‘Just Like Heaven,’” explains Ramon. “It wasn’t until I was done editing that I realized that the result was more akin to the Sifl and Olly.”
So there you have it. When I started this website, I sliced my hand open and swore a blood oath to post any genre-appropriate video that featured sock puppets, so here goes: