Blaak Heat Shujaa, The Storm Generation EP: New Sons of the Desert Sands

Posted in Reviews on December 10th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

A precursor release to introduce Blaak Heat Shujaa to the Tee Pee Records roster before the trio make their first full-length impression on the label in 2013, The Storm Generation reunites the uprooted psychedelic outfit with producer Scott Reeder. Reeder helmed Blaak Heat Shujaa’s 2010 self-titled debut (review here) and makes his presence felt likewise throughout The Storm Generation’s six tracks/32 minutes in the tones and drum sounds captured with a live feel from guitarist/vocalist Thomas Bellier, bassist Antoine Morel-Vulliez and drummer Mike Amster, whose sense of adventure extends not only to the open jams present here in instrumental cuts like “Incident at Stinson Beach” – on which they unleash their inner Yawning Man – and the later ‘The Storm/We are the Fucking Storm,” but also to the mere fact that in the last two years, Blaak Heat Shujaa have moved from Paris to New York (from whence Bellier unveiled his Ehécatl side-project; review here) and on to Los Angeles, where they now reside. Morel-Vulliez’s bass is once again of particular note throughout the material on The Storm Generation, and a spoken word guest appearance from tourmate/poet Ron Whitehead on “The Manifesto” helps expand the lysergic palate. Whitehead goes on a fireside mini-rant about quantum physics and gonzo journalism – as one will – and though I might disagree about the correlation between the two, he nonetheless feeds into Blaak Heat Shujaa’s overarching desert-as-spiritual-center sensibility. Two extended tracks, side A opener “The Revenge of the Feathered Pheasant” (11:04) and side B counterpart “Helios” (8:50) provide a base from which each half of the EP expands, and particularly with “The Revenge of the Feathered Pheasant,” the three-piece begin to show a growth in scope that will hopefully continue to typify their work on the subsequent sophomore long-player, fading in backwards to a point before turning quickly and darting off on a quick bass and drum-led progression that seems to meet at the intersection where desert rock once emerged from surf.

Though obviously not on the instrumental tracks, Bellier’s vocals feature throughout The Storm Generation and show progression in their post-Al Cisneros approach. Likewise, his guitar has no trouble keeping up with Morel-Vulliez’s bass runs, and he answers himself in layers of drawn out echoes and precise lead notes. Tying “The Revenge of the Feathered Pheasant” together is Amster’s creative drumming. As Bellier’s verses become incantations and Morel-Vulliez races alongside, it’s Amster marking the path they’re taking, and when the pace cuts after the three-minute mark to a slower plod, it’s Amster’s cymbals acting as the foundation from which Bellier’s solo soars. Performance-wise, there’s little more to ask of the young outfit than they deliver on the EP’s opener – so it’s a good place to start, I guess – but the crux of the track really shows itself in the bass-led stillness of the midsection, where, Om-style, they pull into a minimalist movement of quiet contemplation, somehow still maintaining the tension of the song’s earlier moments in sudden cymbal mutes and guitar stops, but nonetheless setting a build in motion that they skillfully bring to bear in the ensuing fuzz and crashes that hit past the 7:40 mark. As intense as they can be at times, they’re patient in this build and before nine minutes in, break to let Morel-Vulliez lead the way into the final movement, which once more plays deft tempo changes off each other and finds Bellier tapping into minor-key Eastern scales to add to the mystical vibe. With about 45 seconds left, they return to the opening progression and bring “The Revenge of the Feathered Pheasant” full-circle. I thought they might throw a last verse in there – very subtly did the opener become instrumental for its last eight minutes – but no dice. “The Revenge of the Feathered Pheasant” gives way to the guitar intro of “Incident at Stinson Beach,” compressed and complemented by a simple drum line that sounds like some ancient 45 is spinning for the first half-minute. After that, wah swirl takes hold and they move into strongly percussive high desert bounce – sort of a verse to the wah’s soon-returning chorus. They jam a bit while Bellier takes a solo and then provide quick culmination before Amster ends on drums and completes The Storm Generation’s gamut from its most grandiose track to arguably its least.

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Video Premiere: Blaak Heat Shujaa, “The Revenge of the Feathered Pheasant”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on November 30th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

Watching Blaak Heat Shujaa in the desert with a bunch of tripped-out effects is like watching a nature special with some kind of sun-drenched lizard in its natural habitat. They just fit. Same applies to the poet Ron Whitehead, who features in the Paris-then-New-York-then-Los-Angeles trio’s new video for the song “The Revenge of the Feathered Pheasant” — an 11-plus minute track taken from their upcoming Tee Pee Records debut EP, The Storm Generation, due out Dec. 11.

Whitehead plays a kind of desert guru — so basically himself — in the clip, which was directed by Cole Jenkins and Andrew Baxter, who you might recall from having helmed Blaak Heat Shujaa‘s docu-series of the recording of their next full-length and West Coast tour with Whitehead and other luminaries from out that way. The video was filmed at Vista Point, which by all accounts (including Yawning Man‘s, who named a record after it) is the place to be.

Please enjoy:

Blaak Heat Shujaa, “The Revenge of the Feathered Pheasant”

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Blaak Heat Shujaa’s The Storm Generation EP Due Dec. 11

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 27th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

More big things to come from desert-by-way-of-Paris (which is the way to go if you’re gonna go) rockers Blaak Heat Shujaa. The band have announced that their Tee Pee label debut full-length will be preceded by an EP titled The Storm Generation that’s due out early next month. Waste no time. No doubt their youthful impatience will prove to the benefit of all parties involved.

The PR wire sounds the alert:

Heavy Psychedelic Rock Band BLAAK HEAT SHUJAA to Release New EP “The Storm Generation” on December 11

Los Angeles Trio Completes Work on “Mind Expanding” Sophomore LP

“Heavy Mental” psych rockers BLAAK HEAT SHUJAA will release The Storm Generation, their debut EP for Tee Pee Records on December 11. On The Storm Generation, thick, colorful bass lines coexist with flying reverb guitars, ethereal chants and loud, tribal drums. Produced by Scott Reeder (Kyuss, The Obsessed) in the Mojave desert, the EP features a guest appearance by Nobel Prize-nominated gonzo poet Ron Whitehead, adding even more color to BLAAK HEAT’s signature psychedelia. The EP is a precursor to the band’s new full length The Edge of an Era, which is set for a March 26, 2013 release.

BLAAK HEAT SHUJAA’s enticing blend of genres has been called “a dissonant symphony unveiling visions of great natural expanses” and is unlike anything you’ve likely heard before. The band’s transcendental tension between its heavy rock roots and an organic inclination to drift towards psychedelia pays homage to the vast collection of mind-expanding sounds the trio grew up on: neo-psychedelia, surf rock, spaghetti westerns, Middle Eastern scales and Far Eastern melodies!

“We spent all summer at our LA studio working on the new record,” comments BLAAK HEAT SHUJAA guitarist / vocalist Thomas Bellier. “The creative vibe was unbelievable, and the music just kept flowing. Soon we had way more than needed for a full-length record, so we talked to Tee Pee Records about doing an EP before the album, which they agreed to. The EP has something for everyone: hints of surf rock, massive basses, psych solos, shades of metal…it unleashes the uniqueness of the Blaak Heat sound.”

The Storm Generation track listing:

1.) The Revenge Of The Feathered Pheasant
2.) Incident At Stinson Beach
3.) Helios
4.) The Manifesto
5.) The Storm / We Are The Fucking Storm
6.) Fusil Contra Fusil

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