The Obelisk Radio Adds: All Them Witches, Black Mare & Lycia, Bell Witch, Lasers from Atlantis and ContraPosted in Radio on May 29th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
I didn’t want to look, but in the end curiosity won out. April 17 was the date of the last batch of radio adds, so yes, it’s been more than a month. Not for lack of stuff coming either, just the want of time. As such, and not knowing when I might get the opportunity to do something like this again, I’ve got 31 records added to the playlist this afternoon — you can see them all at the Playlist and Updates Page — and as you can tell both by the below and by that list, it’s a mix of bigger and up and coming names, a couple older records, and a few singles and other things maybe not as widely available. If you find something you dig, then killer. If not, there’s always next month. Ha.
The Obelisk Radio adds for May 29, 2015:
All Them Witches, A Sweet Release
It is getting increasingly difficult to chart the discography of Nashville’s All Them Witches, between self-released live outings, hosted bootlegs, represses, physical vs. digital releases and one-offs like A Sweet Release or their last EP, 2014’s Effervescent (review here), but something tells me they like it that way. A Sweet Release was issued as something of a surprise on April 20, and collects mostly live jams that, though they listed it as an EP, actually runs longer than either of their two full-lengths, Lightning at the Door (review here) or their debut, Our Mother Electricity (review here). At 58 minutes, the five-track outing mostly invites the listener to get immersed. That is, it’s less about songs and more about jams, and that’s true from the two-movement-split-by-manipulated-stage-banter exploration of “It Moved We Moved/Almost There/A Spider’s Gift,” the opener and longest cut included at 24 minutes (immediate points), to the quiet guitar noodling of two-minute closer “Sweet Bear.” In between, extended pieces like “Howdy Hoodee Slank” and “Interstate Bleach Party” (both over 11 minutes) find the four-piece of bassist/vocalist Michael Parks, Jr., guitarist Ben McLeod, Fender Rhodes-ist Allan van Cleave and drummer Rob Staebler comfortable and well in their element, their onstage chemistry having developed them into one of the most promising acts in American heavy rock — yes, I mean that — while “El Paso Sleep on It” proves a singular highlight with its laid back unfolding, the interplay of guitar and bass begging further development into what might on a regular release be called a song. A holdover to their third full-length? Maybe, but that doesn’t stop A Sweet Release from living up to its name, and for the already converted, new All Them Witches of any sort is unlikely to rouse complaint, the band having established in their early going that anything can and might happen both in terms of what they put out and what sonics they set in motion on their releases. All Them Witches on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
Black Mare & Lycia, Low Crimes/Silver Leaf Split
L.A.-based vocalist Sera Timms, known for her work in Black Math Horseman and Ides of Gemini and who also has a full-length due this year for the Gary Arce collaboration Zun, is the sole driving force behind Black Mare, and the otherworldly transit of “Low Crimes” makes a worthy answer to her 2013 full-length under the moniker, Field of the Host (review here), even if it is just one song. For this new Magic Bullet Records split, she works with bandmates from Ides of Gemini and MGR and partners with Lycia on the B-side, long-running Arizona outfit Lycia offer a sampling of their darkened atmospherics on “Silver Leaf,” holding to an edge of gothic drama in their spoken word vocals but setting it to a straightforward, near-minimal rhythm for a feel distinctly American. By its very nature, it’s a quick release, over in about 11 minutes, but both acts offer ethereal moodiness that seems to effect the listener even after play as ceased, the waves of electric guitar and tom rolls in “Low Crimes,” not to mention Timms‘ own far-back vocals, and the interplay of voices and subtle backing chimes and other elements of “Silver Leaf” complementing each other in a way that seems to enhance the enjoyment of both. Black Mare on Thee Facebooks, Lycia on Thee Facebooks, Magic Bullet Records on Bandcamp.
Bell Witch, Four Phantoms
For a release as outwardly heavy as Bell Witch‘s Four Phantoms (on Profound Lore) is, the follow-up to 2012’s Longing (review here) has surprised all the more because its primary impression isn’t of aural, but of emotional weight. The four-track, 66-minute offering plays two 22-minute cuts off two 10-minute cuts, and there are themes running between them alternating between “Suffocation” and “Judgement,” but for all the harsh death-doom crawl that a song like opener “Suffocation, a Burial: I – Awoken (Breathing Teeth)” has, and for all its growling lurch, the woeful riffing and mourning leads from bassist Dylan Desmond (also Samothrace) set a resonant, melancholic course that the album continues to develop throughout, hitting a particularly striking moment when it brings in Erik Moggridge (also known as Aerial Ruin) with Desmond and drummer/vocalist Adrian Guerra (Sod Hauler) for a guest vocal spot on third track “Suffocation, a Drowning: II – Somniloquy (The Distance of Forever)” that’s as gorgeous as its chanting is dark. Minimalist stretches in “Judgement, in Fire: I – Garden (Of Blooming Ash)” only add to the spaciousness of Four Phantoms‘ overall feel, and closer “Judgement, in Air: II – Felled (In Howling Wind)” seems not to deconstruct so much as to will itself into an oblivion of a plod, bass aping a guitar lead over wide-gap crashes in true dirge fashion. It’s a no-doubter to feature on many year-end lists, but however loud the hype gets, the genuine expressiveness Bell Witch bring to a sound usually thought of either as cold or overly theatrical puts them in a class of modern doom alongside their labelmates in Pallbearer and Loss. Bell Witch on Thee Facebooks, Profound Lore on Bandcamp.
Lasers from Atlantis, Lasers from Atlantis
Running a line somewhere between extendo-heavy-psych jamming and more concrete heavy rock and doom impulses, London foggers Lasers from Atlantis seem more than content to play one off the other on this Extreme Ultimate issue of their self-titled, originally recorded in 2010. Classic prog and kraut-ish space idolatry rules the day on “Reverb City,” down to the Hawkwindy thrust out of the atmosphere, but by the time they get down to “Protectress,” track five of the total six, they’ve completely given over to low-end rumble, feedback viciousness and a still-swinging-but-much-much-darker groove. That might make the middle two cuts, “Illuminated Trail” and “Hopi Lori,” the most interesting of the bunch, and it’s especially on the latter where the two sides seem to meet, but it’s in “Hopi Lori” even more that the transition seems to take place and the band — Volkan Kiziltug and Aubrey Jackson Blake on synth, Theo Alexander on guitar/vocals and Pat Oddi on drums — make the turn toward consuming darkness that continues to ooze forth in “Protectress” and closer “Slaves,” which though it’s somewhat faster than the cut before it, is pure, high-order psychedelic doom. A band so willing to let go of their progressive edge when it suits them is a rare thing, which makes it a bummer that Lasers from Atlantis seem to have called it quits, but if it’s a posthumous release, their self-titled at least shows they were up to something interesting in their time together. Lasers from Atlantis on Thee Facebooks, Extreme Ultimate on Bandcamp.
Contra, Son of Beast
Son of Beast is the debut offering from Cleveland trio Contra, and its four tracks could just as easily constitute a demo or an EP, whatever you want to call it, but with the lineup of guitarist Chris Chiera (ex-Sofa King Killer), bassist Adam Horwatt and drummer Aaron Brittain (Fistula), they come across as having a solid idea of what they’re looking for sound-wise, and their first outing is a solid one. Production is clean but not overly so on the three shorter pieces, and the seven-minute closer “Humanoid Therapy” follows-up on the mid-paced stonerism of “Snake Goat” by alternating from slower push to a more rushing pace. Instrumental for the duration, one can hear the places a vocalist might go on “Bottom Feeder” or “100 Hand Slap,” but Contra — who apparently owned both regular NES and Super Nintendo — don’t overstay their welcome either, proving cohesive in their fuzz, schooled in their groove and ready to start their development as a band, wherever it might take them. Contra on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.
I’m going to try very, very hard not to let it go so long before the next round of adds. When I fail at that, you can feel free to call me out on it. In the meantime, to see all 31 releases that joined the playlist this afternoon, hit up The Obelisk Radio Playlist and Updates Page. It’s a good time.
Thanks for reading and listening.