Posted in Reviews on May 10th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
I don’t know how many times I’ve said so – probably at least once for each time I’ve actually brought myself to do it – but I hate reviewing compilations. For most of them, there’s no flow between the tracks, being that it’s different artists, different recordings and sometimes different genres, and even when you get a gem, a non-album track or something like that, there’s no real context for being able to enjoy it, because once it’s over, you’re swept abruptly off to the next thing. Most of the enjoyment I get out of them is in hindsight, years later, when that non-album track is legitimately rare and hard to track down, or the alternate version has never appeared anywhere, or when the comp itself has built up some mystique as a landmark moment – those are even fewer and farther between, but it happens sometimes – either for an artist or the genre. Even if they’re alright to listen to, reviewing them is terrible. You’re either promoting the release outright – “hey, these people are doing good work and you should spend your money on it” – or doing little more than listing the bands involved – “this comp is cool because it has so-and-so involved and they do this song, whereas this band does another song,” and so on. I’ve never been able to find a middle ground in comp reviews and while I do genuinely think there are people out there putting in significant effort to promote artists they believe in, the pain in my ass that reviewing a compilation becomes is enough that I generally try to avoid it as much as possible.
So this is the part where, post-disclaimer, I tell you the case is wholly different with Kept in a Cave, Vol. 1, the 13-track mining operation of Europe’s heavy underground undertaken by Stonerrock.eu, right? Sort of. Kept in a Cave certainly gets a flow going, thanks in part to the similarities in fuzz and jam-minded process of the bands that make up its midsection – Sungrazer into The:Egocentrics into Been Obscene into Electric Moon works rather well and with a healthy dose of Elektrohasch and Elektrohasch-style heavy, there’s not much room for stuff to be out of place – but I still find myself in the position of wanting either to run through the tracklist or just promote it because I respect the effort on their behalf in making the release and its four-panel digipak with giant-mantis artwork happen. To counteract the first, here’s the rundown of artists and songs in its entirety, taken directly off the back of the package:
1. Grandloom, “Larry Fairy” (7:07)
2. Under Brooklyn Palms, “Restlessness” (6:20)
3. Mars Red Sky, “Sadaba” (5:07)
4. Kosmic Elephant, “Bloot Pilot” (6:38)
5. Sungrazer, “Wild Goose” (5:19)
6. The:Egocentrics, “Lost and Found” (4:54)
7. Been Obscene, “Endless Scheme” (6:55)
8. Electric Moon, “Triptriptrip” (8:45)
9. Samsara Blues Experiment, “Hangin’ on the Wire” (5:30)
10. Stonehenge, “Concrete Krieger” (7:36)
11. The Machine, “5 & 4” (6:14)
12. DxBxSx, “Problemkind” (2:16)
13. Sahara Surfers, “Gas” (6:00)
All this adds up to a 79-minute front-to-back listen, about as much as a single-CD will hold. Of the included artists, Sungrazer, Been Obscene, The Machine and DxBxSx are signed to Elektrohasch, and certainly familiar acts like Mars Red Sky, Samsara Blues Experiment and Electric Moon fit aesthetically with that fuzzy, jammy sound as well, so though it’s long, Kept in a Cave makes for a decent listen if you’re going to take it on as a whole, put it on for a party – I’m told music at parties is something human beings do – or whathaveyou, and even the likes of Grandloom, Under Brooklyn Palms (who, yes, are German), Kosmic Elephant, Stonehenge and Sahara Surfers fit on a sonic level. Nothing here is really out of place and obvious consideration has been given to how one song is met by the next – for emphasis, I’ll cite putting the punkier DxBxSx as the second-to-last cut, giving a short burst of energy after the fuzzfests preceding – so the project becomes even more admirable.
Posted in Reviews on April 30th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
The Machine and Sungrazer have a lot in common. Both are three-piece bands. Both hail from the Netherlands. Both are signed to Elekrohasch, and both specialize in a densely-fuzzed kind of heavy psych, born out of a healthy affection for Fu Manchu-via-Colour Haze tube-bursting idolatry. They share parts but not the whole of an aesthetic in this, and both represent a jam-minded outgrowth of the European underground, even as they continue to craft memorable songs in balance with an open feel. For The Machine, who come from Rotterdam, their 2012 full-length, Calmer than You Are(review here), unveiled a distinct progression in their sound, taking the vibes of their three prior offerings and solidifying them into something more completely the band’s own, moving past some of the Colour Haze-ing and into a guitar-led groovefest, varying in its drive but never without movement. Released a few months earlier, Sungrazer‘s 2011 sophomore outing, Mirador(review here), was as brilliant as it was dreamy. A follow-up to their also-stellar self-titled debut, it build on the ultra-warm tonality of the first album and pushed further into a sunny, jammed laconic semi-consciousness, keeping a sense of exploration in songs that even through that remained catchy and engaging, not at all indulgent sounding where they shouldn’t have been. It’s not necessarily surprising that the two acts would team up for a tour, which they did earlier this year, calling it “Strikes and Gutters” in keeping with The Machine‘s fetish for The Big Lebowski, but that the up-and-comers would unite for a split release to mark the occasion was something of a bonus. Issued by Elektrohasch, The Machine and Sungrazer‘s The Machine & Sungrazersplit arrives both as vinyl and CD with three tracks from each act that showcase both what they share in terms of approach and some of the key differences between, totaling a comfortable 47-minute long-player rife with some of the best next-gen heavy psych Europe has to offer.
Guitarist/vocalist David Eering of The Machine recorded both bands at his Studio De Zolder, so there’s a consistency of sound between the two that most splits don’t have, allowing for a complete flow across the tracks even as the CD changes between The Machine and Sungrazer at the halfway point. Both bands open big, with The Machine taking the kind of riff that High on Fire seemed to use to construct the entirety of The Art of Self Defense and riding it for more than 10 minutes of chugging splendor. Following a sample of the moon landing (“The Eagle has landed”), Eering begins the track on guitar to announce said riff and is soon joined by a booming bass glissando from Hans van Heemst and drum crash from Davy Boogaard – the course is immediately set. Some riffs are enough to carry a song, and presented as hugely as this one is, it pretty much does, Eering topping with some echoing vocals and a numerical chorus line “10-56-69” reminiscent of “5 & 4” from Calmer than You Are without being redundant of it. An extended fuzzy solo break provides some change as Boogaard’s steady snare holds the piece together, and when they return to the central riff, it sounds even bigger than before, devolving into noise and feedback to close out the last minute-plus. This leads to the surprising rush of the 2:31 “Not Only,” which showcases a punkish side that does most of the work in distinguishing The Machine from their psychedelic peers. A strong hook pokes through on the quick as the song races past in two verses and choruses, a solo and a heads-down pummeling outro, and the trio find some contextual middle ground between the two atmospheres on the ensuing “Slipface,” dialing back on the pace but keeping the extended form of the opener and the chorus-minded vibe of the second cut. A solid stoner rocker, it reinforces the analog-type warmth in Eering’s recording and opens to a jammier feel as feedback is underscored by van Heemst’s bass and Boogaard’s drums, setting up a wah-heavy solo that moves into an instrumental jam that persists for the duration of the song, abandoning the structure in favor of psychedelic exploration, but hinting at it enough instrumentally to give a sense that The Machine haven’t lost sight of their departure point. They end quietly with a sweet drone and some effects noise, making way for the big drum crash that opens Sungrazer’s “Dopo.”
Posted in Whathaveyou on April 11th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Well, it’s a bummer Dutch fuzzonauts The Machine won’t be making the trip to London this year for Desertfest — and not just because it means I won’t get to pick up a copy of their split with Sungrazer in-person — but at least there’s the consolation of knowing Finnish acid folk ritualists Hexvessel are stepping in to fill the vacant slot. The announcement came through earlier today, and if you haven’t yet had the chance to catch wind of Hexvessel‘s No Holier Temple, it’s definitely worth some investigation. A video for the track “His Portal Tomb” is also included below, courtesy of the Desertfest London website:
Hexvessel Set Controls for Desertfest
Here at DesertFest HQ, we’ve got some good news and some bad news. The bad news is that Dutch psych jammers The Machine have unfortunately had to pull out of their performance at DesertFest 2013. The good news is that we’re extremely chuffed to announce Finnish doom-folk experimentalists Hexvessel as their replacement!
Hexvessel are a six, sometimes seven, piece band from the Helsinki and Tampere areas. Formed by English musician Mat ‘Kvohst’ McNerney, who recruited several well-established comrades from the likes of Dark Buddha Rising and Galacticka, they set about to realise the frontman’s vision of setting ‘60s and ‘70s acid rock into a mould of puritanical Scandinavian mysticism. The band’s two albums to date, the occultist 2011 debut ‘Dawnbearer’ and the 2012 underground phenomenon ‘No Holier Temple’, have established this psychedelic, transcendental act as one of the great folk-rock forces in world music.
By fusing atmospheric vocals with guitars which abandon all aggression, yet retain the heavily weighted vibes of Amon Düül, The Beatles and Pink Floyd, and throwing non-electric instruments like trumpet and violin into the mix, Hexvessel capture a primitive form of rich enchantment very few can match. Lyrically, McNerney repeatedly approaches themes surrounding the preservation of Finland’s natural woodlands, terrains and forestry, and it’s the understanding of this environmental ethos alongside an esoteric outlook on the darker sides of rock music which holds the key to understanding his band’s inner beauty.
Make sure you’re on the right side of the hex this year at DesertFest 2013, and join us to witness these acid-fried sorcerers perform their magic on a dark Friday night in Camden Town.
Posted in Whathaveyou on March 15th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Hot off their tour and split release with like-minded countrymen Sungrazer, Lebowski-loving Dutch fuzz jammers The Machine have been added to take part in London’s Desertfest next month. Native to Germany, the genre-defying duo Dÿse will bring new material and an experimental edge to Berlin’s own Desertfest, which they’ll play ahead of the release of a new album later in 2013.
As ever, here are the announcements courtesy of the London and BerlinDesertfest websites:
Welcome To The Machine
Welcome to The Machine……..a three-piece from Rotterdam who specialise in extended jams and improvisation. The best way to describe them is to go into detail on their live skills as that is really what they are all about. Using the base of their album tracks, every Machine show becomes a brand new experience and it’s own entity. Even though their sound is rooted in modern stoner rock, they channel the spirit of the late 1960s and as you sink into the performance you get some idea of what feelings may have been aroused in a tripping hippy standing aghast at The Grateful Dead on one of their acid-fuelled excursions.
David Eering is shamanistic in his position as the frontman, he dials-in the controls with his pulsating riffs and astronomic solos. The rhythm section of Davy Boogaard and Hans van Heemst are right behind supplying the propulsion to David’s showcase and together the band weaves a seamlessly holistic experience.
Since their conception in 2007 they have released 4 albums, the last two on the esteemed Elektrohasch label, and played at many of Europe’s premier psych festivals including a captivating performance at last year’s DunaJam. They have just completed a successful European tour with Sungrazer, and you are invited to explore new psychedelic realms with them at Desertfest 2013, you won’t forget it.
Words Courtesy of Rich After Sabbath
Desertfest Berlin – Dÿse (GER)
Hi Guys ! We are pleased to welcome the German noise rock duo Dÿse at DESERTFEST BERLIN !!
Formed in the spring of 2003 and named after the Dysecatmotel in Amsterdam where they first met, DYSE began as a fun, drunken side project for Jari and André to try new things with music they enjoyed, writing songs with no limitations or expectations from anyone.
The main compositional feature of their sound is alternating sections of heavy, metallish guitar-laden rock and quiet, doodling, rhythmic writing. The vocals are delivered in a mixture of virtually-shouted German and English, and the listener is challenged by the compositional changes and the different sonic textures.
In 2004, the first in a trilogy of 7 inch singles was released called “Honig” (Honey), followed by dozens of gigs as they perfecting their live show and became tighter than tight. The second single “Aga Ragnag” came out in 2005, followed by the third and final instalment “Houthakkertje” in 2006. To promote the completion of the 7 inches, Jari and André booked themselves a gruelling four-week tour across Europe and the UK. The response to each show was overwhelming as audiences everywhere were blown away by this unique, energetic and incredibly entertaining duo.
When they returned home from the tour, the band were approached to join the Exile on Mainstream Records family. June 2007 saw the release of DYSE’s self-titled debut album, which was followed in 2009 by their second one “Lieder Sind Brüder Der Revolution”.
At this year’s DESERTFEST they are proud to present their new single “Sag Hans zu mir” (You can call me Hans), which will be a teaser for their new album which you can expect by the end of this year !
“Radical as punks, clever as the avantgarde, loud as a hellicopter and fast as Michael Schumacher racing money to Switzerland” DYSE have hits in the bag and a reputation as one of Europe’s best live duos, so don’t miss them !!
Posted in audiObelisk on January 30th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Been waiting for this one. Back in September, Dutch fuzzers The Machine and Sungrazer announced they were teaming up for a split LP and a tour that, in keeping with the former act’s apparent Lebowski fetish, they decided to call “Strikes and Gutters.” As The Machine seemed to come the most into their own yet on their 2012 album, Calmer than You Are(also a Lebowski reference; review here) and as I’d heard Sungrazer play some new material earlier in the year at Desertfest London, I knew good things were in store, and indeed, the split does not disappoint.
Comprised of six tracks (three each) totaling over 47 minutes, The Machine and Sungrazer‘s joint effort was recorded by The Machine guitarist/vocalist David Eering, who makes a good argument here for becoming the in-house engineer at Elektrohasch. Each band gets three tracks, and both use their time to craft a huge wall of fuzz, jamming out open, glorious heavy psychedelia, organic and rich. The Machine begin with “Awe,” a massive riff put to good use as the base from which the band wanders and then fluidly returns, Eering‘s guitar sounding an alert while drummer Davy Boogaard and bassist Hans van Heemst lock in a firm groove beneath. Watch out for the slowdown.
On the other side, Sungrazer affect desert rocking warmth on “Yo la Tengo” that comes across like Yawning Man doing a take on The Beatles‘ “Sun King.” Dreamy, psychedelic and honing a wide expanse, the cut departs from some of the thickness of its compatriots “Dopo” and “Flow through a Good Story” to underscore Sander Haagmans‘ soothing multi-layer vocal with a slowly unfolding surf tone, the bassistincorporating fills that wind up leading the song as much as Rutger Smeets‘ airy guitar even as they ground it, drummer Hans Mulders moving from lighthearted rim clicks to driving crash rhythms — and back — with ease.
With permission from the bands, it’s my extreme pleasure today to be able to premiere “Awe” and “Yo La Tengo” for streaming. The split LP between The Machine and Sungrazer is due out on Feb. 14, the same day their Strikes and Gutters tour begins at the 013 in Tilburg, the Netherlands. Please find the songs on the player below, and enjoy:
Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!
Sungrazer and The Machine are set to begin the Strikes and Gutters tour Feb. 14 and will release their split that day as well. More info at their Thee Facebookses:
Dutch heavy psych outfits The Machine and Sungrazer just a couple minutes ago unveiled the cover art for their upcoming split release to coincide with their “Strikes and Gutters” tour. Of course, it’s a little late to include it in the Albums to Watch for in 2013 list, but I’m still really looking forward to this one. Art is by Maarten Donders and it’s pretty manic. Check it out:
Posted in Features on January 15th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Last year was a monster. You might say I’m still catching up on reviews for records that came out in October. Yet here we stand in 2013. It’s a whole new year and that means instead of looking back at some of the best releases, it’s time to look ahead and nerd out at what’s to come. Frankly, either way is a good time, but with some of what’s included on this list, 2013 has the potential to be yet another incredible year for lovers of the heavy.
Across a range of genres and subgenres, there are bands big and small, known and unknown, getting ready to unleash debuts, follow-ups and catalog pieces that by the time December rolls around, will have defined the course of this year. It’s always great to hold an album in your hands, to put it on and listen to it for the first or 19th time, but part of the fun is the excitement beforehand too, and that’s where we’re at now.
Some of these I’ve heard, most I haven’t, and some are only vague announcements, but when I started out putting this list together, my plan was to keep it to 10 and I wound up with twice that many because there was just too much happening to ignore. The list is alphabetical because it doesn’t make any sense to me to rate albums that aren’t out yet, and I hope if you find something you’d like to add, you’ll please feel free to leave a comment below.
Thanks in advance for reading, and enjoy:
Acid King, TBA
We begin with only the basest of speculations. Would you believe me if I told you that 2013 makes it eight years since the heavier-than-your-heavy-pants San Francisco trio Acid King released their last album, III? Of course you wouldn’t believe me. You’d be like, “Dude, no way,” but it’s true. Eight friggin’ years. They’ve hinted all along at new material, toured Europe and played fests in the States like Fall into Darkness, but really, it’s time for something new on record. Even an EP. A single! I’ll take what I can get at this point, so long as it’s Lori S. riffing it.
Chances are, the above isn’t the final art for Argentinian Los Natas-offshoot Ararat‘s forthcoming III, but frontman Sergio Chotsourian has posted a few demos over the last several months and the logo image came from that. Either way, with as far as last year’s II(review here) went in expanding their sound, I can’t wait to hear the final versions of the tracks for the next one. They’re still flying under a lot of people’s radar, it seems, but Ararat are quickly becoming one of South America’s best heavy psych acts. Do yourself a favor and keep an eye out.
Brooklyn trio Bezoar‘s 2012 debut, Wyt Deth, might have been my favorite album that I never reviewed last year, and needless to say, that’s not a mistake I’m going to make twice. The new songs I’ve heard the three-piece play live have ruled and an alliance with engineer Stephen Conover (whose discography includes Rza and Method Man) is intriguing to say the least. I’m sure whatever Bezoar come out with, the performances from bassist/vocalist Sara Villard, guitarist Tyler Villard and drummer Justin Sherrell will be as hard to pin down as the debut was. It’s a record I’m already looking forward to being challenged by.
Blaak Heat Shujaa, The Edge of an Era
Due out April 9, Blaak Heat Shujaa‘s The Edge of an Era will mark the full-length debut for the ambitious trio (now based in L.A.) on Tee Pee Records following on the heels of the impressive The Storm Generation EP (review here). From the Scott Reeder production to the band’s engaging heavy psych/desert rock blend, this one seems bound to win Blaak Heat Shujaa a lot of new friends, and if the advance EP is anything to go by, The Edge of an Eracould prove to be aptly-titled indeed.
Black Pyramid, Adversarial
No release date yet, but so far as I know, Adversarial, which is Massachusetts doom rockers Black Pyramid‘s third album and first to be fronted by guitarist/vocalist Darryl Shepard, is recorded, mixed and mastered. Song titles include “Swing the Scimitar,” “Onyx and Obsidian,” “Issus,” “Bleed Out” and “Aphelion” (the latter was also released as a limited single in 2012 by Transubstans as a split with Odyssey), and having seen the band live with this lineup, expect no less than a beheading. Also watch for word from the recently announced side-project from Shepard and bassist Dave Gein, The Scimitar.
Black Sabbath, 13
There was a bit of a shitstorm this past weekend when the title of Black Sabbath‘s first Ozzy Osbourne-fronted album since 1978 was revealed in a press release. Nonetheless, 13is set for release in June and will feature Brad Wilk of Rage Against the Machine on drums in place of Bill Ward, who last year was engaged in a well-publicized contract dispute with the band. Bummer though that is and as crappy and generic a title as 13 makes — especially this year — let’s not forget that Heaven and Hell‘s The Devil You Know also had a crap title and it was awesome. I’m not sure if I’m willing to stake anticipation on the difference between the vocals of Ronnie James Dio circa 2010 and Ozzy Osbourne in 2013, or Rick Rubin‘s production, but hell, is Geezer Butler playing bass on it? Yes? Well, okay then, I’ll listen. The world can do a lot worse than that and another batch of Tony Iommi riffs, whatever else may be in store.
Clutch, Earth Rocker
It’s a ripper. With Earth Rocker, Clutch reunite with Blast Tyrant producer Machine and the results are a record varied enough to keep some of the recent blues elements of the past couple albums (“Gone Cold”) while also showcasing a reinvigorated love of straight-up heavy rock numbers on tracks like “Crucial Velocity,” “Book, Saddle & Go” and “Cyborg Betty.” Longtime Clutch fans can expect a bigger guitar sound from Tim Sult, killer layering and much personality from vocalist Neil Fallon and yet another stellar performance from the best rhythm section in American heavy, bassist Dan Maines and drummer Jean-Paul Gaster. No doubt in my mind it’ll prove one of the year’s best when 2013 is done. Once more unto the breach!
Devil to Pay, Fate is Your Muse
Last month, I hosted a Devil to Pay video premiere for the Indianapolis-based rockers’ new track, “This Train Won’t Stop,” from the 7″ single of the same name that precedes the release of their Ripple Music debut full-length (fourth overall), Fate is Your Muse. If the 575-plus Thee Facebook “Likes” are anything to go by, anticipation for the album is pretty high. Reasonably so. When I saw Devil to Pay at last year’s SHoD fest, the new material was killer and the band seemed more confident than ever before. Stoked to hear how that translates to a studio recording and how the band has grown since 2009′s Heavily Ever After.
Egypt, Become the Sun
Technically speaking, Become the Sun is the full-length debut from North Dakota doomers Egypt. The band released their self-titled demo through MeteorCity in 2009 (review here), were broken up at the time, and reassembled with a new guitarist for Become the Sun– which is the only album on this list to have already been reviewed. I don’t know about a physical release date, but it’s available now digitally through iTunes and other outlets, and however you do so, it’s worth tracking down to get the chance to listen to it. Underrated Midwestern riffing, hopefully with a CD/LP issue coming soon.
The Flying Eyes, TBA
Currently holed up in Lord Baltimore Studios with producer Rob Girardi, Baltimore’s The Flying Eyes are reportedly putting the finishing touches on the follow-up to 2011′s immersive Done So Wrong, an album full of young energy and old soul. Along with Blaak Heat Shujaa above, I consider these dudes to be right at the forefront of the next generation of American heavy psych and I’m excited to hear what kind of pastoral blues works its way into their tracks when the album finally gets released. They’re a band you’re probably going to hear a lot about this year, so be forewarned.
Gozu, The Fury of a Patient Man
The melodicism of Boston-based Gozu‘s second Small Stone full-length, The Fury of a Patient Man (I swear I just typed “The Fury of a Patient Mrs.”) is no less striking than its album cover. I’ve had this one for a while, have gotten to know it pretty well and my plan is to review it next week, so keep an eye out for that, but for now, I’ll just say that the sophomore outing is a fitting answer to the potential of Gozu‘s 2010 debut, Locust Season (review here) and marks the beginning of what already looks like another strong year for Small Stone. I never thought I’d be so into a song called “Traci Lords.”
Halfway to Gone, TBA
What I’d really like to see happen is for Halfway to Gone – who are high on my list of New Jersey hometown heroes and who haven’t had a new LP out since their 2004 self-titled — to put out a new record in 2013, for it to lay waste to everyone who hears it, and for the band to finally get the recognition they’ve long since deserved. I’ve been charged up on revisiting their three albums since I saw them at the Brighton Bar this past July and after a long wait, rumors, breakups, makeups, etc., I’ve got my hopes up that this year is when these dudes pull it together and make a new one happen. It’s been too long and this band is too good to just let it go.
Kings Destroy, TBA
Confession time: I have the Kings Destroy record. I’ve had it for a bit now. It rules. I don’t know when you’re gonna hear it, but it’s strange and eerie and kind of off the wall stylistically and it doesn’t really sound like anything else out there. Last I heard they’re looking for a label, and whoever ends up with it is lucky. I use a lot of descriptors for bands and their albums, but rarely will I go so far as to call something unique. This album is. If you’ve had the chance to check out songs like “The Toe” and “Turul” live, you know what I’m talking about, and if you haven’t, then stick around because with all the sessions I’ve had with the tracks, I still feel outclassed by what these guys are doing. Shine on, you doomed weirdos.
The Kings of Frog Island, Volume IV
I keep going back to the video for “Long Live the King” that Leicester, UK, fuzz rockers The Kings of Frog Island put up back in October. No, really, I keep going back. It’s a good song and I keep listening to it. Just about any other details regarding their fourth album and first without guitarist/vocalist Mat Bethancourt (Josiah, Cherry Choke), Volume IV, are nil, but periodic updates on the band’s Thee Facebooks have it that progress on the recording is being made, and in the meantime, I don’t seem to have any trouble paying return visits to “Long Live the King.” Hopefully Elektrohasch stays on board for a CD release, and hopefully it happens soon.
Several times over the last couple months I’ve had occasion to say it to people and I’ll say it here as well: I think Lo-Pan are the best American stoner rock band going right now. I was interested to see how they handled the bigger stage for their opening slot for High on Fire and Goatwhore (review here), and as ever, they killed. I haven’t the faintest idea what their recording plans might be, if they’ll even sit still long enough to put an album to tape in time to have it out in 2013 — I suspect it depends on what tour offers come up in the meantime — but new songs “Colossus” and “Eastern Seas” bode well for their being able to continue the course of momentum that the excellence of 2011′s Salvador(review here) and all their hard work before and since has put them on.
Queens of the Stone Age, TBA
It probably wouldn’t be fair to call the upcoming Queens of the Stone Age album a reunion between Josh Homme and Dave Grohl since the two also played together in Them Crooked Vultures and Grohl only drummed on Songs for the Deaf, but it’s exciting news anyway and could mean good things are coming from QOTSA, whose last outing was 2007′s comparatively lackluster Era Vulgaris. The big questions here are how the time apart from the band may or may not have affected Homme‘s songwriting and where he’s decided he wants to take the Queens sound. We’ll just have to wait and see.
Sungrazer & The Machine, Split
With the Strikes and Gutters tour already booked to support it (dates above; or here), Dutch upstart heavy psych jammers The Machine and Sungrazer have teamed up for a split release as well that’s bound to feature some of the year’s best fuzz. The two bands have a lot in common, but they’re pretty distinct from each other sonically too, and with The Machine guitarist/vocalist David Eering helming the recording, you can safely bet it’ll capture the live, jammy feel both groups share. Latest word has it that the mastered tracks are in-house, so watch for more to come as we get closer to the Valentine’s Day launch of the tour.
The Swedish fuzz juggernauts’ fourth album overall, this will be Truckfighters‘ first with new drummer McKenzo alongside the core songwriting duo of Dango and Ozo. They’ve been teasing recording updates and threatening song clips, but as soon as I run into something concrete, I’ll share. I’m especially looking forward to the Truckfighters album since it means they’ll likely come back to the US for another tour, and since 2009′s Mania (review here) was so damned brilliant. Not sure on a release date, but it’s high on the list of necessities anyway, however low it may appear alphabetically.
Valley of the Sun, TBA
All I’m going on in including Ohio-based desert rockers Valley of the Sun on this list is a New Year’s message they put out there that read, “Happy New Year, Brothers and Sisters!!! You can count on a Valley of the Sun full-length in 2013.” Hey, I’ve relied on less before, and even if you want to call it wishful thinking, the Cincinnati trio are due a debut full-length behind 2011′s righteous The Sayings of the Seers EP (review here). Even if it doesn’t show up until November or December, I’ll basically take it whenever the band gets around to releasing. Riffs are welcome year-round.
Well, I mean, yeah. Right? Yeah, well, sure. I mean. Well. Yeah. I mean, sure. Right? It’s a supergroup with YOB‘s Mike Scheidt on vocals, John Cobbett of Hammers of Misfortune on guitar, Sigrid Sheie of Hammers of Misfortune on bass and Aesop Dekker of Agalloch and Worm Ouroboros on drums. Album’s done, set for release on Profound Lore. So, I mean, you know, yeah. Definitely. No music has made its way to the public yet — though that can’t be far off — but either way, sign me the fuck up. Anywhere this one goes, I’m interested to find out how it gets there.
Vista Chino, TBA
After that lawsuit, it’s not like they could go ahead and call the band Kyuss Still Lives!, so the recently-announced Vista Chino makes for a decent alternative and is much less likely to provoke litigation. But still, the Kyuss Lives! outgrowth featuring former Kyuss members John Garcia, Nick Oliveri and Brant Bjork along with guitarist Bruno Fevery is of immediate consequence. I’m not sure what the timing on the release is, but they’ve already been through enough to get to this point that one hopes a new album surfaces before the end of 2013. What I want to know next is who’s recording the damn thing.
Yawning Man, Gravity is Good for You
Not much has been said in the time since I interviewed Gary Arce, guitarist and founder of influential desert rock stalwarts Yawning Man, about the 2LP Gravity is Good for Yourelease (the Raymond Pettibon cover for which you can see above), but the band has been confirmed for Desertfest since then and they’re playing in L.A. on Jan. 25, so they’re active for sure and presumably there’s been some progress on the album itself. It remains to be seen what form it will take when it surfaces, and the lineup of the band seems somewhat nebulous as well, but when there’s a desert, there’s Yawning Man, and there’s always a desert. 2010′s Nomadic Pursuits(review here) was a triumph, and deserves a follow-up.
Anyone else notice that the “20 Albums to Watch for” list has 22 albums on it? Maybe I wanted to see if you were paying attention. Maybe I can’t count. Maybe I just felt like including one more. Maybe I had 21 and then added Vista Chino after someone left a comment about it. The possibilities are endless.
So too is the list of bands I could’ve included here. Even as I was about halfway through, a new Darkthrone track surfaced from an album due Feb. 25 called The Underground Resistance, and news/rumors abound of various substance concerning offerings from YOB, Eggnogg, When the Deadbolt Breaks, Mars Red Sky, Asteroid, Apostle of Solitude, Windhand, Phantom Glue, the supergroup Corrections House, Kingsnake, Sasquatch — I’ve already made my feelings known on the prospect of a new Sleep record — news went up yesterday about Inter Arma‘s new one, and you know Wino‘s gonna have an album or two out before the end of the year, and he’s always up to something good, so 20, 22, 35, it could just as easily go on forever. Or at least very least the whole year.
If there’s anything I forgot, anything you want to include or dispute, comments are welcome and encouraged.
Posted in Whathaveyou on November 23rd, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
As was announced here way back in September, up and coming Dutch fuzzers Sungrazer and The Machine have teamed up for a split recorded by The Machine guitarist/vocalist David Eering. That’ll be out on Elektrohasch early next year, and to coincide, the two bands have announced a round of tour dates that starts in Tilburg on Valentine’s Day.
Continuing The Machine‘s apparent love for all things Lebowski — the trio released their fourth album, Calmer than You Are(review here) earlier this year — they’ll be calling the tour “Strikes and Gutters.” Let’s hope they can find an In & Out Burger somewhere along the way.
Here’s the info:
Sungrazer & The Machine will release a split album and go on tour in early 2013! Here are the first dates of the Strikes & Gutters Tour. Expect more info and dates asap.
The Machine & Sungrazer will at least play the following dates:
14.02.13 TILBURG,NL O13 15.02.13 BRUSSELS, B MAGASIN 4 16.02.13 LONDON, UK BORDERLINE 17.02.13 PARIS, F LES COMBUSTIBLES 19.02.13 MADRID, SP LA BOITE 20.02.13 LEON,SP EL GRAN CAFE 21.02.13 OPORTO,POR ARMAZEM DO CHA 22.02.13 OURENSE,SP SALA BERLIN 23.02.13 SAN SEBASTIAN,SP BUKOWSKI 28.02.13 SALZBURG,A ROCKHOUSE 01.03.13 LINZ, A KAPU
Posted in Whathaveyou on September 5th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Re-reading that headline, my only two questions are, “When?” and “Why isn’t then now?”
The Machine‘s David Eering will produce, and the bands will document the whole process, but what the news below doesn’t say is if there’s any chance the two Dutch fuzz rock upstarts will get together for one huge collaborative jam. I could think of way worse ways to spend 35 minutes than listening to the single-track onslaught of tonal warmth that would arise from such a meeting.
While I dote on those grooving possibilities, here’s the latest:
The Machine & Sungrazer: Split Album
During the next two months, both The Machine & Sungrazer will be spending some time in the studio. The recordings will start this Friday and take place in the private studio of The Machine, Studio De Zolder. Since both bands share the same record label, it’s probably not quite the surprise that Elektrohasch Records will be releasing the split album. You can expect an early 2013 release.
This project is the result of a mutual friendship that, like the idea for a split album, already started years ago. Since our latest releases, Calmer Than You Are (2012) and Mirador (2011), new songs and jams already developed themselves. Each band will use (a couple of) these tunes for their part of the split. As with The Machine’s previous four albums, David Eering will be producing both Sungrazer and his own band.
Stay tuned on both bands’ Facebook pages and websites for more updates! If we don’t forget, we might post some video footage and/or pictures from the recording process. The entire process will be documented.
True, my existence has been a diseased and stress-filled shambles ever since my return from Europe now nearly two weeks ago, but that doesn’t mean I don’t wish I’d stayed there another week. Quite the opposite. As documentation begins to emerge from Desertfest Berlin, it only seems to underscore how righteous the fest was and makes me even sorrier to have missed it. I found a few clips on the YouBigTruck — oh wait I’m sorry, it’s not a big truck, it’s a series of tubes — that emphasize the point, and figured I’d share in case you hadn’t seen them yet.
For fun, here are five reasons I wish I was there:
Granted, I got to see Greenleaf — the Swede-rock heavy supergroup populated by members of Dozer and Truckfighters — in London, but here’s the thing about it: They were really fucking good. Blindingly so, and another opportunity to catch a set would’ve been greatly appreciated. It’s hard to argue with “Alishan Mountain,” since it’s one of the catchiest songs I’ve ever heard, and this just looks like good times to me:
2. Wight As their recorded output proves, the jam-heavy German stoner rockers aren’t messing around when it comes to riff worship, but as righteous as the guitar solo that leads this Desertfest jam is, it’s the bass runs underneath that have me totally hooked. Charm is half of Wight‘s game, and that’s clearly on display here as they jump headfirst into the recognizable blues rocking grooves of “You!,” a demo of which was previously streamed on this very site. This one would’ve been fun to watch live:
3. The Grand Astoria If I live to be 100, I’ll probably never make it to Russia, and while I don’t know for certain, I’m pretty sure the St. Petersburg four-piece — who seem to be in the process of acquiring a new rhythm section — don’t have any plans to hit the US anytime soon, so this would’ve been a crime of opportunity as much as anything else. I’ve dug both their records that I’ve heard (see here and here), and if this clip is any indicator of the shenanigans they threw down on stage for the duration of their set, hard not to feel like I missed out:
4. The Machine
At this point, what’s a trip to Europe without seeing The Machine? I kept hoping the Dutch natives — whose new album, Calmer than You Are was reviewed last week — would add a show on the sly sometime in the week before Roadburn kicked off, but no such luck, and after seeing them two years in a row on their native shores (or at least at the 013), they only seem to have gotten better as a live act, as this clip of opener “Moonward” from Calmer than You Are proves:
I’ve got their self-titled record on deck for review sometime in the next couple weeks (or months, if my current pace is maintained), and as they’re Berlin natives and I don’t know the band all that well yet, I think it would’ve been cool to check out organ-ized six-piece Operators at Desertfest. If nothing else, there’s six of ‘em! That’s like two trios! And part of being at any fest worthy of the name is finding new acts you hadn’t really been familiar with previously, so they probably would’ve filled that role well:
If we’re being honest with each other, there are way more than these five reasons I wish I’d been able to go to Desertfest Berlin, but some you win, some you have to go back to Jersey and spend two weeks staring at your computer monitor waiting for your work to finish itself. I think that’s how the song goes. Credit where it’s due, all these clips were shot by YouTube user MrJdelgadolopez, whose efforts and timely uploading are much appreciated.
Posted in Reviews on April 19th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Continuing Elektrohasch Schallplatten’s streak of supporting high-grade next gen fuzz and heavy psych, Dutch trio The Machine’s fourth album, Calmer than You Are points its Lebowski-referential finger right in your face and challenges you to prove the title wrong. Good luck. Led by guitarist/vocalist David Eering and filled and thickened by the rhythm section of bassist Hans van Heemst and drummer Davy Boogaard, the band has grown more over the course of the five years they’ve been together than the four records they’ve put out in that time can tell. Calmer than You Are is comprised of seven varied tracks for a total of a bit under 46 minutes of jam-based songwriting, very much driven by Eering’s fuzz and wah. He is a stellar lead player and constructs engaging grooves in his riffs, and as eight-minute opener “Moonward” shifts from its subdued, sitar-infused opening to the more raucous final third (there’s a clear divide at 5:39, you’ll pardon me if I don’t give the actual percentage of the song that makes up), it’s clear The Machine are ready to join the ranks of Sungrazer at the fore of their country’s fuzz rock scene. Indeed, Calmer than You Are shows the two bands have a lot in common stylistically and atmospherically, though The Machine’s production is a bit rawer and the songs as a whole less directly reliant on echo to sustain their tones. Not that The Machine are lacking for echo or reverb – Eering’s vocals on “Scooch” alone fill any quota that might crop up – but especially for Boogaard’s drums, the overall sound of Calmer than You Are is somewhat more stripped down than was Sungrazer’s Mirador, whatever else the two records might share between them or however well they might complement each other.
The Machine’s third album and Elektrohasch debut, Drie (review here), was nearly 80 minutes long, so it’s worth noting that they’ve significantly cut the sheer amount of material that makes up Calmer than You Are, and predictably, that works somewhat to the benefit of the individual tracks. Both “Scooch” and the more blatantly stoner rock start-stop riffing of “Grain,” which follows, are clearly jam-based, but The Machine have gone so far as to distill the jams down into discernible structures. There’s still room for Eering to rip into soulful solos for a few bars, and other tracks take that further, but “Grain” in particular proves excellently that The Machine have more to them than just tonal warmth and a propensity for grooving. It’s the work of burgeoning songwriters beginning to come of age as a band. On “Scooch,” it’s van Heemst’s bass that most shines, but whoever’s in the lead of the trio – Boogaard does his time out front of the mix as well – they’re showing a sense of diversity in their approach and not so much bending their sound to make and album as bending an album to fit their sound. The eight-minute “DOG,” which rounds out side A of Calmer than You Are is a standout and one of the best songs of the bunch. Akin in its beginning rhythm to Sungrazer’s “Common Believer,” it soon pushes into the LP’s most memorable hook and fullest-sounding chorus. Eering shows how far he’s come as a vocalist since the band’s 2007 debut, Shadow of the Machine, found them getting their bearings very much in a fashion after Colour Haze, and a lengthy instrumental jam in the midsection bridges a gap between the verse/chorus tradeoffs and what The Machine has previously shown of themselves on their prior efforts. Grandiose heaviness ensues and with great skill, Eering and company bring the chorus around once more before giving in to a minute-plus of warm feedback and noise to fade out to wind noise to close the first half of the album.
Go figure, here I am kicking around various options for who to close out the week with, and lo and behold on Thee Facebooks, along comes word that Dutch heavy psych trio The Machine have just — today — uploaded a new song from their fourthcoming opus (the extra ‘u’ because it’s their fourth album), which bears the awesomely Lebowski-referential title, Calmer than You Are. Given some of the subdued atmospheres they got down with on last year’s charmingly-fuzzed Drie (review here), they might just be calmer than everyone, but as you can hear on “Sphere (…or Kneiter)” above, there’s more to them than just Hendrix noodling and a killer pedal collection.
There’s heavy jamming, for crying out loud! And given how all over the place this past week was, starting with an Amebix review and capping last night by seeing Monster Magnet perform Dopes to Infinity front to back in Brooklyn, I can see no better way to chill out on a Saturday afternoon than basking in The Machine‘s heady approach. Dig these guys. Glad to have seen them twice now, and though I didn’t know they’d have a new record so soon, I’m glad it’ll be hitting this year. Something else to look forward to.
Speaking of, we’ll kick off Monday with that Monster Magnet review, and even before that, I will have a new podcast up this weekend. It probably won’t be until tomorrow night, but it’ll be up, anyway. If you missed the notice, I’ll be talking on this one, and I decided the theme will be the best of Buried Treasure so I can chat a little bit (with myself) about different record stores and buying albums. Incidentally, that’s pretty much my topic in the world. I don’t know how it’ll turn out, but even if it sucks, it’ll be fun, and you’re more than invited to mock me as you see fit. I can take it.
Or, more likely, not. But anyway, goes with the territory on that whole internet thing. There’s more coming too aside from the podcast. I’ll have new music posted from heavy-hitting Danish riffers Rising, whose album by no coincidence is out this week on Exile on Mainstream (we’ll give a couple of those away), as well as a track from Swedish doomers Anguish, whose debut is due out in February on Dark Descent. If that’s not enough — first of all, seriously? It’s not? — I’ll be revealing the three winners from among the many entries in the C.O.C. vinyl contest and I’ll have my interview with Clay Neely from Black Pyramid posted.
And somewhere in there, I’ll also find room to stop by Kings Destroy‘s practice on Tuesday to hear their new material — I’ll write something about it, not sure yet what exactly — and to review records from The Hedons, The Devil’s Blood and a couple others, so stay tuned, because as you can see, there’s a ton going on.
In the meantime, I hope you have a great and safe weekend. I’m gonna go start putting together the podcast playlist, but I’ll be checking in on the forum, so feel free to say hey.
Posted in audiObelisk on May 27th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
As ever, I thank Walter and the Roadburn crew for their generosity in allowing me to host the links to the official streams from Roadburn 2011. As we Americans get ready to celebrate Memorial Day, I can think of few better complements for a barbecue than The Machine‘s Hendrixian take on heavy jamming, or, as the evening wears on, drinks are imbibed and fists are raised in triumph, Black Pyramid‘s doomy gallop. And, of course, just in case the universe comes to a crashing end (as my work email account just did), there’s Ufomammut playing Eve in its entirety for sonic complement. You can’t ask for more than that. From life. But there’s more anyway, so enjoy the aural hubris:
These and all Roadburn audio streams were recorded by the vigilant Spacejam team headed by Marcel van de Vondervoort (also of ass-kicking rockers Astrosoniq), so if you see him, please say thanks for all the hard work. Roadburn 2011 took place April 14-17 at the 013 Popcentrum in Tilburg, The Netherlands. If you’d like to read more than you could ever possibly want to read about it, click here.
Posted in Whathaveyou on May 12th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
Staring down the barrel of another late night at the office, I’m even more jealous of anyone getting to head to Oostburg in The Netherlands this weekend for a killer show with the likes of Elektrohasch upstarts Sungrazer and The Machine that’s being dubbed Massafest. One assumes that’s as opposed to “massacre,” but either way, awesome lineup I wish I could be there to see. Here’s the poster, just in case your day wasn’t stoner rock enough:
Posted in Features on April 17th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
1:46AM — Sunday Night/Monday Morning — Hotel Mercure, Tilburg
It’s over. I couldn’t even leave the building. I walked out of Sourvein more than three-quarters into their set, and still, it was another 15 minutes before I could actually bring myself to walk out of the 013 and head back to the hotel. I stopped along the way in Weirdo Canyon for fries, which, true to form, came buried under a heap of mayonnaise. Kind of a tradition at this point, though most of it I scooped off and sent down the sink in the bathroom here at the Mercure. Hot water on. Gross nonetheless.
Hard to know where to begin, really. When I got back to the venue, I hit up the Green Room to catch the start of The Machine, and of course it was packed. Amazing to see what a year’s done for them — although, granted, they weren’t on in the Bat Cave opposite Eyehategod like they were in 2010 — but I guess that’s part of it too. They sounded tighter, more mature, more together than they did when last I encountered them, but the material was no less vibrant and spontaneous for it. I was back and forth between them and Dead Meadow, who were on the main stage, and while they were a decent sonic complement for Sungrazer (a sort of new school European fuzz Green Room trilogy would be completed later in the evening as Samsara Blues Experiment closed out the night), they also did right in showing some of their own sonic personality, which they began to display on their recently-issued Elektrohasch debut, Drie.
Dead Meadow, on the other hand, brought out Sasquatch. Literally. There was a dude in a Sasquatch costume, and he came out during their set and stomped around the stage while they played. Clad in my Texas Bigfoot Research Conservancy t-shirt, I couldn’t have felt more appropriate. I’ve never seen Dead Meadow before, so I couldn’t say whether or not this is a regular thing, but either way, brilliant. Their music, sedate, meandering, cosmic, seemed to make a good impression on the furry beast, and everyone else there to see it (myself included), and with visual accompaniment from festival organizer Walter Hoeijmakers, who handled a video mixer of various psychedelic imagery, it was “a show” despite the lack of anyone losing their minds on stage.
Other than Sasquatch, of course. He seemed to be really enjoying Dead Meadow‘s set.
I stood and waited for Black Mountain to go on, thinking I’d catch their opening couple of songs and then head in for Black Pyramid, but before they even got on stage, I realized how dumb that was, that I’d never get a spot to watch Black Pyramid, and that Black Mountain‘s set was allotted enough time that I could see them after Black Pyramid were done anyway. So, without reason to stay in the main stage area, off I went to the Green Room, which was already mostly full — although nowhere near as full as it would be by the time they started playing — and set up shop there for the duration.
With their riffs of stone and language of doom, Black Pyramid inspire devotion. They played a couple new songs — “Stormbringer” from the 8″ vinyl of the same name — and when they were finished, the crowd wouldn’t let them go. True enough, they hadn’t yet seen their time-slot to its conclusion, but I don’t think they’d have been allowed to leave even if they’d wanted to, so they fired up the amps again and treated Roadburn to a new song from their upcoming second full-length. It was rough, but guitarist Andy Beresky was trying out some new things vocally, so it should be interesting to hear what they come up with on the next album. Everyone seems to go all-out for the fest anyway, but Black Pyramid really have become an excellent live act. I stayed for their whole set and regretted not a second of it.
And sure enough, when they were done, Black Mountain was still on the main stage. They’re one of those bands I keep hearing about, people recommending them and so forth, and good people, too, but although I have a copy of their latest CD, Wilderness Heart, I can’t say I’ve ever listened to it. I remember hearing them when they put out their first record and being unimpressed. Maybe I need to give them another shot. They were elaborate melodically, and probably not my thing on the whole, but decent enough for what they were doing. They sounded clean, which, with Sourvein following, was like wiping off the mirror before crushing up six vicodin and making an evening of it.
Don’t know when it happened, but at some point T-Roy Medlin fromSourvein adopted a kind of “Dirty South” affectation in his stage mannerisms, and that was in full force when they hit the main stage. Before they even started, he urged the crowd to “get ghetto.” I’d already by then been in and back from the Green Room to see Samsara Blues Experiment, who were killer, and had Black Mountain not just played opposite Black Pyramid, I’d have a hard time coming up with a time when two more sonically incongruous bands were on simultaneously. Samsara Blues Experiment: warm, sweetly toned, jammy, laid back. Sourvein: like being punched in the face with the broken glass of the mirror from the paragraph above. They do abrasive and it’s about all they do.
If the two bands had anything in common — and it just might be the only thing — it was energy. Samsara Blues Experiment did well in not getting too lost in their material, in keeping the audience engaged, and Sourvein, complete with Dave Sherman from Earthride on bass, were personality on parade. For not the first time in the evening, I was reminded of Eyehategod doing an Afterburner set last year, but Sourvein might be even more demented. They were ridiculous in their heaviness and completely over-the-top in their stage antics, Medlin managing at one point to call European beer weak while asking for a whiskey from the stage, which aside from not being true was not exactly going to win him friends among the Dommelsch-downing audience.
But then, if he was even slightly concerned with being accessible or friendly, he probably wouldn’t be in Sourvein. They’re good at being mean, only thicker with Sherman (now bearded) on bass, and considering the last time I saw them was playing to an empty Europa club in Brooklyn, the response they got from the main stage was enjoyable to watch. After a festival with acts as diverse as Wovenhand and Wardruna, Sourvein and Samsara Blues Experiment were as fitting a finale (who likes alliteration?) as Roadburn 2011 was going to get.
I’m not exactly ready to wrap up the festival reporting yet, and I’ll allow that maybe that’s me just not wanting it to end and/or being too exhausted tonight to finish it off once and for all, but I’ll have a post to round out this series tomorrow, so keep an eye out for that. In the meantime, thanks to everyone who’s been reading and commenting. That kind of feedback means a lot and is greatly appreciated.