Sumac Release What One Becomes June 10 on Thrill Jockey

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 21st, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

sumac

Post-metal trio Sumac made a striking debut last year on Profound Lore with The Deal (review here), and while the members of the three-piece might otherwise be busy in bands like Mamiffer (who also have a new one out and will tour), Russian Circles and Baptists, they’ve also worked quickly to follow-up their first offering with What One Becomes. An ominous title for the sophomore work, and the newly-shared first audio from the record, “Rigid Man,” as well as the new album trailer, bear out that dark and oppressive foreboding. It’s an hour long and it has five tracks though, so I’m guessing there’s room for more than just being pissed off, which “Rigid Man” also showcases.

Just off the PR wire:

sumac what one becomes

SUMAC ANNOUNCE NEW FULL-LENGTH ALBUM & PREMIERE FIRST SINGLE

What One Becomes out June 10th on Thrill Jockey

Sumac, a highly-lauded new band with the impressive lineup of Aaron Turner on guitar (ISIS, Old Man Gloom, Mamiffer), Nick Yacyshyn on drums (Baptists), and Brian Cook on bass (Russian Circles, These Arms Are Snakes, Botch), has announced its sophomore album due out June 10th on Thrill Jockey. Titled What One Becomes, this hour-long, double LP was tracked at The Unknown in Anacortes, WA and mixed at GodCity Studios in Salem, MA with Kurt Ballou and the resulting 5 songs are dense aggregates of rhythm, force, and vigor. The album’s first single, “Rigid Man” (streaming now on YouTube), begins as a lurching epithet that finds the trio in a shadow boxing lockstep for the song’s first half of pugilistic rhythm and noise, only to smash itself on the ground amidst a diabolical feedback whorl from Turner’s guitar and to tear free from the rhythmic underbelly.

Following their critically acclaimed 2015 debut The Deal (Profound Lore), the trio has elevated the songs’ complexities with a greater entanglement of velocity, density, form, and function. These results are a testament to the tour-honed collective intuition and technical skills of drummer Yacyshyn and bassist Cook alongside Turner. The music of What One Becomes requires that each player be attuned to the dynamics and the tension within the multilateral structures, and the band invests in the recursive exercises of chaos and control.

On What One Becomes, Sumac’s choreographed structures parallel the internal and personal struggles with anxiety. They seek to identify the source, devise a course of action, and confront that condition at hand. Turner explains, “Much of it has to do with questioning fabricated structures of identity and what it means when those structures are destabilized by contact with the outside. That has been a unnerving process to undergo, but also fruitful in terms of discovering the path to individuation and realized connection with the self. Another facet of experience I’m working to convey is about living with the sustained presence of anxiety, and avoiding reliance on musical devices of cathartic release to provide escape from this condition.” Sumac channels psychic distress into their rigorously algebraic maneuvers and syllable-crack dissonance. These are acts of honesty in the face of a particular conduction as well as acutely prescient designs of musical intensity that commands attention to all of this detail. The songwriting on What One Becomes is unparalleled, unhinged expressionism in all forms.

What One Becomes will be available on double LP format pressed on virgin vinyl, packaged in a wide spine jacket printed on uncoated stock with custom debossed slipcase and free download card. A limited amount of copies have been pressed on clear vinyl and are exclusive to Thrill Jockey mailorder. Additionally, the album will be available on CD format packaged in a 4 panel mini-LP style gatefold jacket printed on uncoated stock with debossed cover and 6 panel fold-out insert. For pre-orders and more info, visit Thrill Jockey.

SUMAC, What One Becomes Track Listing:
1. Image of Control
2. Rigid Man
3. Clutch of Oblivion
4. Blackout
5. Will to Reach

SUMAC – ON TOUR:
October 20-23 Tucson, AZ @ Southwest Terror Fest

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Sumac, “Rigid Man”

Sumac, What One Becomes trailer

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Golden Void European Tour Starts this Month

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 8th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

golden void

Golden Void‘s second album, Berkana (review here), proved that there are still new places to explore in space. The Thrill Jockey offering brimmed with bright tones and lush psychedelia like its predecessor, the band’s 2012 self-titled debut (review here), but it also brought a fresh dynamic to what’s often a staid repetition, gave vitality to a style that, once you get past all that Hawkwind push, is usually just prog minus (some of) the self-indulgence. Golden Void have thus far managed to find a niche for themselves between all of these impulses, and in so doing, have become one of American heavy psych’s most intriguing acts.

Following a gig this month in their native San Francisco and a warm-up show in Chicago, they’ll head to Europe alongside labelmates Holy Sons (Emil Amos of Grails/Om). The information below came from the internet:

golden void europe tour winter 2016

Golden Void is the new face of Bay Area psychedelic music. It’s a rich tradition and like many of the tradition’s greats, Golden Void’s songs are firmly rooted in melody and not afraid of exploration. The band’s hooks get stuck in your head and their riffs transport you to the astral plane. Golden Void’s undeniable twist, setting them apart from their city’s lineage, is the influence of classic bands like Sabbath and Pentagram. The quartet, Isaiah Mitchell (Earthless) on guitar and vocals, Camilla Saufley-Mitchell on keyboards and vocals, Aaron Morgan on bass and Justin Pinkerton on Drums, achieves a perfect balance of muscular riffs, soaring melodies, and hazy atmosphere on Berkana, their sophomore album. Recorded with Tim Green (The Fucking Champs), Berkana shows Golden Void expanding the scope of their sound without abandoning the heady groove they carved on their acclaimed self-titled debut.

Several members of Golden Void cut their musical teeth together during their middle school years and their natural ease and friendship is apparent throughout Berkana. Every member contributes to the writing process and to the arrangement of songs. Working with Tim Green at his isolated country studio, with all the instruments he has amassed, was integral to the expanded sound on this new record. While their debut album was mostly recorded live, Berkana was recorded with each member in isolation, allowing for more edits and overdubs. On songs like “Dervishing” and “Astral Plane,” there are layers upon layers of sound to dig into, with acoustic guitar, keyboards, and even flute being added to the band’s potent brew. Tim Green picked up the baritone guitar and added some Arp as well. Isaiah Mitchell, one of the best rock guitarists working today, shows off his chops, but also his incredible restraint, throughout. In addition to the stretches of outright shredding, such as on opener “Burbank’s Dream,” or the climax of “The Beacon”, there are moments such as the breakdown on “I’ve Been Down,” in which Mitchell employs subtle melodic flourishes that slowly build in intensity. Berkana is a sonically rich collection of heavy rock and roll.

Golden Void live:
01.16.2016 Bottom of the Hill San Francisco, CA
01.25.2016 The Empty Bottle Chicago, IL

Golden Void Europe Tour Winter 2016:
01.28.2016 Sojo – Leuven, Belgium
01.29.2016 The Black Heart – London, UK
01.30.2016 The Rainbow – Birmingham, UK
01.31.2016 Brudenell Social Club – Leeds, UK
02.02.2016 Batofar – Paris, France
02.03.2016 Le Romandie – Lausanne, Switzerland
02.04.2016 KAFF – Frauenfeld, Switzerland
02.05.2016 Kapu – Linz, Austria
02.06.2016 Blah Blah – Torino, Italy
02.07.2016 Bronson – Ravenna, Italy
02.09.2016 Arena – Vienna, Austria
02.10.2016 Klub 007 – Prague, Czech Republic
02.11.2016 Musik & Frieden – Berlin, Germany
02.13.2016 La Zone – Liege, Belgium

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Golden Void, Berkana (2015)

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Freak Valley 2016: White Hills Join Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 15th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

freak valley 2016 banner

Granted, I’ve never been, but it seems to me that a group like White Hills more or less embody what a festival like Freak Valley is all about. The New York heavy psych rockers are no strangers to European shores, and they’ll be among the headliners at Freak Valley 2016 next May in Netphen, Germany. They remain underappreciated in the US, but their dedication to heavy psych and space rock is unquestionable at this point — they’ve proven time and again where their collective heart lies, up to and including earlier 2015’s Walks for Motorists full-length on Thrill Jockey, which unless they put another one out between now and then — always possible — will be the record they’ll support as they head abroad once more.

This news came out the other day, so you may have seen it, but I’m trying to keep up as much as possible with these announcements, so better late than never. Here’s word from the fest:

white hills freak valley 2016

New York’s Fuzzed Out Motorik Spacerockers WHITE HILLS will play FREAK VALLEY FESTIVAL 2016

Constantly pushing at the boundaries of order against chaos and speaking a musical language involving fuzzed out guitars, wah-wah pedals and amplifiers turned up all the way, WHITE HILLS embody the art and spirit of psychedelic rock.

New York space rock trio White Hills are the opposite of a comet. They suck up an explosion of energy on the surface of the Earth; from the history of amplified rock music, from the weather, from spirituality, from adrenaline, from the history of synthesized electronic music, from substance use, from philosophy, from friends and enemies alike, from mother fuxxing electricity, and they focus it into a blinding beam of energy which they reflect back out into the void. And this beam is a message. It is a statement which reads: “Fu.. you. We are here. We rock, therefore we are.”

White Hills – a space rock band in the 21st Century. But perhaps it’s best to let Dave himself explain what space rock actually means to him: “Heavy psychedelic music can deliver the thinking mind through a door to the greater universe. I want people to find a space for meditation. We all are constantly barraged and beaten down with a lot of bullshit today. Personally, I find that spaced-out extreme music transports me to a very tranquil place. I hope, more than anything, our music brings others to that place of enlightenment and ecstasy.”

Amazing poster art by Jo Riou Graphic Designer
Please give him a like!

FREAK VALLEY FESTIVAL – 26th-27th-28th May 2016
www.freakvalley.de www.rockfreaks.de

FVF 2016 is SOLD OUT!!

Freak Valley Festival: No Fillers – Just Killers
Line-up 2016:
Dead Meadow [US] – Psychedelic Stonerrock
White Hills [US] – Fuzzed Out Motorik Psychedelic
Baby Woodrose [DK]- Psychedelic Garagerock
Lonely Kamel [NO]- Heavy Blues, Hardrock & Stoner
Rotor [D] – Instrumental StonerRock/Psychedelic
Monolord [SW] – Doom/Sludge
Farflung [US] – Spacerock for 21st Century Heads
The Golden Grass [US]- Heavy/Funk/Boogie/Psychedelic/Freakbeat
Spiders [SW] – Hard/Glam Rock
Son of Huns [US] – Heavy Riffin Rock
Lé Betre [SW] – Bluesy Hardrock

…more tba very soon

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White Hills, “H-p1” official video

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The Body Have a New Video for “An Altar or a Grave” and US Tour Dates

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 25th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Oppressive, claustrophobic and unremittingly dark, I’d say the new video for “An Altar or a Grave” from Portland-via-Providence ultra-doomers The Body makes a fitting complement to the song itself. Their new album, Christs, Redeemers, is available now for pre-order through Thrill Jockey — it’s due out Oct. 15 — and while I won’t pretend to have any grasp of exactly what the hell is happening in the clip, directed by Richard Rankin, the visual of drowning as part of some terrifying ritual likewise makes sense with the audio on hand.

The Body have announced a US tour for October into November that starts the same day the record is out. Dates for that and the Christs, Redeemers pre-order link follow the video below, courtesy of the ever-vigilant PR wire:

The Body, “An Altar or a Grave” official video

The Body Announces US Tour & Shares Haunting Video

Watch the murky, disturbing video for The Body’s “An Altar or A Grave” now
The Body announces fall US tour dates
Christs, Redeemers is out October, 15th on Thrill Jockey

The Body have shared a characteristically macabre video for “An Altar or A Grave” from their upcoming Thrill Jockey debut, Christs, Redeemers, which is out October 15th. Earlier today Invisible Oranges premiered the video, which was directed by long-time collaborator Richard Rankin. Through blurry underwater footage, disturbing and morbid images float in and out of focus until the situation becomes devastatingly clear in the video’s final moments. “An Altar or A Grave” prominently features Providence’s Assembly of Light Choir, who provide morose vocal incantations over the duo’s merciless plod.

Pre-order Christs, Redeemers from Thrill Jockey mailorder. Mailorder customers can also purchase an exclusive “Nullify My Life” long-sleeve t-shirt designed by The Body:
http://www.thrilljockey.com/thrill/The-Body/Christs-Redeemers

The Body will be bringing their message of misanthropy and horror to a town near you as they embark on a comprehensive US tour this fall, including a special Halloween show at Saint Vitus in Brooklyn and a hometown Portland show November 23rd with Neurosis, Tragedy, and Atriarch. More dates will be announced soon.

The Body on Tour:
Oct. 15th – San Francisco, CA – Thee Parkside
Oct. 16th – Arcata, CA – Mex n’ Wow
Oct. 17th – Portland, OR – The Know
Oct. 19th – Seattle, WA – The Highline
Oct. 23rd – Minneapolis, MN – Hexagon w/ False
Oct. 24th – Chicago, IL – The Empty Bottle w/ Oozing Wound
Oct. 25th – Milwaukee, WI – Riverwest Free Space
Oct. 26th – Columbus, OH – The Summit
Oct. 27th – Pittsburgh, PA – The Shop
Oct 29th – Philadelphia, PA – Kung Fu Necktie w/ Pissgrave, Krieg, Drums Like Machine Guns
Oct. 30th – Providence, RI – Machines With Magnets
Oct. 31st – Brooklyn, NY – Saint Vitus
Nov. 3rd – New Orleans, LA – The Mushroom
Nov. 4th – Baton Rouge, LA – Spanish Moon
Nov. 5th – Little Rock, AR – Whitewater Tavern
Nov. 10th – Phoenix, AZ – Wall St.
Nov. 12th – San Diego, CA – The Soda Bar w/ Author and Punisher, Diamond Lakes
Nov. 13th – Santa Monica, CA – Almost Heaven
Nov. 23rd – Portland, OR – Roseland Theater w/ Neurosis, Tragedy, Atriarch

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Wrekmeister Harmonies Debut Video for “You’ve Always Meant So Much to Me”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 10th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Wrekmeister Harmonies aka JR Robinson will make his debut on Thrill Jockey next month. The Chicago experimentalist’s latest outing, You’ve Always Meant So Much to Me, finds him paired with a host of luminaries from in and around his native city’s fertile underground, including among others Sanford Parker, Bruce Lamont and Leviathan‘s Wrest. A new video was released today in advance of the album, featuring an 11-minute segment of the 40-minute whole, and even as a fraction of the thing, it’s vicious.

Set to time-lapse shots of artist Simon Fowler at work, “You’ve Always Meant So Much to Me” proves hypnotic on multiple levels. Stop what you’re doing and be immersed. Video and PR wire info follow, including info on a show June 22 shortly after the album’s release:

WREKMEISTER HARMONIES ANNOUNCES YOU’VE ALWAYS MEANT SO MUCH TO ME, OUT JUNE 11th ON THRILL JOCKEY

WREKMEISTER HARMONIES WILL PERFORM THE ALBUM IN ITS ENTIRETY AT THE BOHEMIAN NATIONAL CEMETERY OF CHICAGO

JR Robinson has been writing and recording music as Wrekmeister Harmonies in various incarnations since 2006. His Thrill Jockey debut, You’ve Always Meant So Much To Me will be released on June 11th. You’ve Always Meant So Much To Me is an album length composition spread over two sides of vinyl, featuring some of Chicago’s most infamous minds in the metal and experimental worlds, including Sanford Parker (Twilight, Nachtmystium), Bruce Lamont (Yakuza), Jef Whitehead aka Wrest (Leviathan), Mark Solotroff (Anatomy of Habit), Jaime Fennelly (Mind Over Mirrors), Fred Lonberg-Holm, and more. The album art was drawn by Simon Fowler, who as also worked with Sunn O)), Boris, Earth, and Wolves in the Throne Room. The piece was premiered at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago last year.

Earlier today Stereogum premiered a time-lapse music video of Fowler drawing a variation on the incredibly intricate album artwork (which can be found below), which slowly reveals itself as a lone iceberg rising out of the sea. This is the first video of this kind that Simon has made. The audio is excerpted from the b-side of the album. The drawing and the music grow in tandem: as the ice structure begins to take shape, distorted guitars rise from a bed of anxious electronic drone until pounding drums and inhuman howls signal a shift to crushing doom.

Wrekmeister Harmonies will be performing You’ve Always Meant So Much To Me in its entirety on June 22nd at the Bohemian National Cemetery of Chicago, where Robinson will be joined by the musicians that perform on the record. The Numero Group’s Rob Sevier will be DJing between acts, and Acteurs will open. The event will take place near the Mausoleum at the south-east corner of Pulaski and Bryn Mawr. Doors will open at 7 p.m., one hour after sunset.

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Golden Void are Playing Brooklyn on Their Way to Europe

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 18th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

If you’re coming from San Francisco, I guess a stopover for a show in Brooklyn prior to launching your European tour in Prague doesn’t seem that unreasonable. That’s the plan for the four-piece Golden Void, who will hit Union Pool with Pontiak on April 6. That’s a hell of a show (there are several hell-of-a-shows happening that night) and for anyone who heard the band’s self-titled debut last year (review here), not one to be left off the calendar. Here’s the news and Golden Void‘s Euro dates in full. They’ll end that tour playing Roadburn‘s Afterburner on April 21.

The PR wire puts it like this:

Golden Void & Pontiak play Union Pool April 6th

San Francisco heavy psychers Golden Void, which feature Isaiah Mitchell of Earthless & Howlin’ Rain and Camilla Saufley-Mitchell of Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound, will be making their New York debut at Union Pool April 6th. Their debut album, which was called, “a heady, rich brew, buoyed by roaring hammond, loose drumming and some blazing solo epiphanies” by Terrorizer, was released by Thrill Jockey to acclaim throughout the rock and metal communities last November. They have a new 7″ with two exclusive songs slated for Record Store Day 2013. Check out “The Curve” and their version of “1983” by Jimi Hendrix below. Following this rare East Coast performance the group will be heading to Europe to perform at the famed Roadburn Festival.

Pontiak are the Virginia based Carney brothers, who make expansive psych rock populated with irresistible, stoned riffs. Their last album, Echo Ono, was called, “the peak of their career to date… raw, spontaneous, and unfettered power and release that simultaneously addresses the visceral and refined” by Prefix. Known for the mix of beauty and power that comes from the extreme volume at which they play live, Pontiak are an experience not to be missed.

Golden Void Upcoming Tour Dates – 2013
Apr 06, 2013 Brooklyn, NY Union Pool
Apr 08, 2013 Prague, Czech Republic Klub 007
Apr 09, 2013 Berlin, Germany Jagerklause
Apr 10, 2013 Dresden, Germany Ostpol
Apr 11, 2013 Linz, Austria Kapu
Apr 12, 2013 Innsbruck, Austria PMK
Apr 13, 2013 Milan, Italy Lo fi Club
Apr 16, 2013 Lyon, France Le Sonic
Apr 17, 2013 Paris, France Point Ephemere
Apr 18, 2013 Antwerp, Belgium Trix
Apr 19, 2013 Leige, Belgium Inside Out
Apr 20, 2013 Siegen, Germany Vortex
Apr 21, 2013 Tilburg, Netherlands 013 venue (Roadburn Festival)

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Arbouretum, Coming out of the Fog: The Weather Turns

Posted in Reviews on February 5th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

The Baltimorean outfit make no direct claims about their fifth album being narrative in its structure, but there can be little question that Arbouretum’s Coming out of the Fog ends in a different place than it began. In a concise but peaceful 39-plus minutes, the four-piece move from “The Long Night” to the closing title-track, “Coming out of the Fog,” which contrasts the darker push of the opener with a soothing melody and soft strum from founding guitarist/vocalist Dave Heumann. With “All at Once, the Turning Weather” positioned near the album’s center, the metaphors may be mixed, but the hopeful movement is nonetheless conveyed over the course of the eight analog-recorded tracks. The Arbouretum lineup that also brought forth 2011’s excellent The Gathering Heumann, bassist Corey Allender, drummer Brian Carey and Matthew Pierce on keys and extra percussion – has returned and that album’s lush tendency for creative genre defiance has been retained as well, Arbouretum working with patience and grace to walk a line between heavy psychedelia, doom, folk and indie rock(s), and while the album flows easily and naturally, there is a definite structure to Coming out of the Fog as well, each side ending with a quieter piece, be it “Oceans Don’t Sing” or the aforementioned title-track. Something else Arbouretum’s latest shares with its predecessor is a strong launch point – “The White Bird” was one of The Gathering’s high points, and “The Long Night” has an immediate appeal here as well, residing on the heavier end of the band’s sound without unveiling the full tonal crunch that will make itself known on “The Promise” still to come. Heumann begins solo on guitar and introduces the first two lines of the verse vocally before Allender’s bass and Carey’s drums join in. A not-overbearing hook persists in both the verse and the chorus, and Pierce makes his presence felt playing off the guitar in a bluesy solo section as the rhythm section holds fast to the established groove before shifting on a stop back into a final verse, where they end rather than reviving the chorus for a last runthrough – more a testament to the weight of that progression than an oversight – there’s nothing on Coming out of the Fog that feels like a misstep when it comes to songwriting.

Or, for that matter, performance. Heumann gives the music plenty of space to breathe, but when singing, he’s very much at the fore vocally and shows no hesitation in carrying the band when appropriate. On second track “Renouncer,” a dug-in distorted riff is complemented by the vocal line following it, but with the heavier “The Promise,” Heumann is all the more up front in his delivery, and where’s “Renouncer”’s chorus has a gentle bounce, “The Promise” announces its arrival with sharp snare hits from Carey and an insistent, thick rhythm bolstered by Pierce’s added percussion. At no point on Coming out of the Fog are Arbouretum trying to be heavy for heaviness’ sake, instead using aural heft as a tool in their varied arsenal to evoke a specific feeling or add to the overarching atmosphere of the album. Such is the case on “The Promise,” which meets Heumann’s solo with a layer of surprisingly abrasive feedback noise that comes on with two minutes left in the song and remains for the duration of the instrumental jam remaining even as the rest of the music fades out, working to setup the transition into “Oceans Don’t Sing.” A contrast in sound winds up making the flow between the two tracks work, as the side A finale, even at the peak of its build, is given more toward Americana twang, filled out by a pedal steel guitar. At 3:24, when the song opens wider, Pierce’s piano adds to the breadth, and Heumann’s vocal doesn’t quite soar, but is masterful nonetheless in keeping the fragility of earlier in the track. A pair of heavy rockers in “All at Once, the Turning Weather” and “World Split Open” start out side B, the former stretching Arbouretum’s sonic naturalism into psychedelics late into its run while the latter affirms the earthier fuzz of “Renouncer” while setting it to a more active rhythm. Both are exceedingly engaging, especially for listeners from the fuzzier end of the musical spectrum, rife with tonal warmth and a maintained balance of influence that still finds Arbouretum sounding like no one so much as themselves. Take your pick for which is the high point of the album; it could just as easily be any cut on Coming out of the Fog, depending on your mood when you hear it.

Read more »

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Live Review: Arbouretum in Brooklyn, 01.15.13

Posted in Reviews on January 16th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

I’ve had an itch to catch Baltimore’s Arbouretum live really since I caught wind of their 2011 album, The Gathering (which I didn’t review here because I didn’t think it would fit; I’ve since stopped caring), but especially since hearing about their sharing the stage with Om in their hometown the same weekend I was there and not being able to make that gig. Hearing their new record, Coming Out of the Fog, which is due out Jan. 22 on Thrill Jockey, only added to the urgency, and when I heard they were sharing a two-band bill with long-running alt country pioneers Freakwater at The Bell House on a Tuesday night, the decision basically made itself.

The ride in was easy enough. I’d stayed at the office late to split on time to get there for a 9PM start and miss most of the tunnel traffic, and when I got to The Bell House, I paid the door charge and was somewhat surprised to find rows of foldout chairs set up in front of the stage. I was taken aback, since last time I was there was to see YOB in May 2012, but I grabbed a seat up front and proceeded to make an activity of waiting the 10 or so minutes for the band to come out. It was mildly awkward and I felt a bit like the curtain behind Brian Carey‘s drums was going to rise and we were all going to be treated to a live The Creation of Adam à la Arrested Development (“Where is god?” “There is no god!” etc.), but no, in another couple minutes, Arbouretum emerged from the side door and the show began.

This being my first time watching them play and a big part of my attraction being their tonal warmth, I was particularly interested to see what kind of amps guitarist/vocalist David Heumann was playing through. It would be just as easy to imagine full stacks from some obscure fuzz factory, or even Dead Meadow-style Orange combos, given the sonic richness and fullness that pervades from Heumann and bassist Corey Allender, though the reality was far more understated. Heumann ran two small Egnater half-stacks arranged separately (it was a bit of linguistic near-irony when one of them started smoking mid-set; I couldn’t get “ignitor” out of my head), and while the striking visual aspect wound up working in the opposite direction from what I’d figured, his tone was unmistakable, and the band quickly went to work straddling and crossing the lines between heavy psychedelia, folk, indie and doom, as few other than them seem to be able to do.

My familiarity is really with the last couple albums (I was kind of hoping they’d have any of the first three on their merch table and I’d be able to get caught up, but no dice), but I recognized a goodly portion of the material they played, the memorable “Oceans Don’t Sing” standing out from Coming Out of the Fog along with “Renouncer” and “The Promise.” The three cuts from the new album ran in order as they do on the record behind set opener “Mohammed’s Hex and Bounty” from 2007’s Rites of Uncovering. It seemed a curious choice to me to start off with — one would expect something more recent, and, if they’re playing tracks two, three and four from the new one, then “The Long Night,” which leads off Coming Out of the Fog, wouldn’t have been out of place — but it very quickly became apparent they knew what they were doing.

The lightly rolling groove of “Renouncer” and more lumbering fuzz of “The Promise” — on which Matthew Pierce turned from his Rhodes to add percussion and complement Carey — were an excellent setup for the instrumental build of “Oceans Don’t Sing,” which also proved a highlight for showcasing Heumann‘s voice, like an earthier David Bowie gone west. The setlist was probably tailored to the show, that is, playing with Freakweather, Arbouretum probably weren’t looking to blast out eardrums — though before they got going, Heumann warned that parts would be pretty loud and they were — but the flashes of heavy that came through the songs seemed to be met with appreciated from where I was sitting. Catchy almost in spite of itself with the vocals following the guitar line in a bouncing melody, “Renouncer” rumbled a subtle threat in Allender‘s bassline, and “The Promise” paid that off with a noisy finish and a solo that Heumann didn’t seem to want to let go.

Contrast was a big part of what made it all work. Arbouretum balanced heaviness and sweetness of melody and tone and ranged dynamically in terms of pace and volume. Rites of Uncovering opener “Signposts and Instruments” followed “Oceans Don’t Sing” with a similar if less countrified linearity and the subsequent “St. Anthony’s Fire” provided the most raucous stretch of the set. Longer than everything else and seeming to range even further than the studio version (which appears as part of a 2012 split with Hush Arbors called Aureola), “St. Anthony’s Fire” gave way to a legitimately huge-sounding jam led by Heumann‘s guitar, which broke into an extended heavy solo, periods of shred offset only by the crunch elicited when the guitar, percussion and bass came together with Carey‘s thudding drums. Maybe it was the fact that I was sitting right in front of it, but Heumann’s lead was particularly impressive, sounding soulful and even a little funky as it moved along in a world seemingly of its own.

Little doubt that’s what Heumann was thinking of when he warned earlier they’d get loud, and the band lived up to the warning. The crowd at The Bell House had been filtering in throughout their whole set, but there were enough people in the room by the time Arbouretum got around to “St. Anthony’s Fire” to give a genuine response, and it was a cool moment to witness, cheers coming up after Heumann finished that solo. I had been hoping for “The Long Night” or even “The White Bird” from The Gathering, which still gets stuck in my head on the regular, as a closer, but they finished with the title-track to Coming Out of the Fog. It rounds out the album as well and might have been somewhat faster live owing to the sheer momentum they built during “St. Anthony’s Fire,” but they made it work anyway, despite what looked like some technical difficulty in Allender‘s backing vocals.

Given that it was still early when they finished, I thought maybe I’d stick around for a bit and catch at least some of Freakwater, even just for myself if not to write about it later, but the temptation of being able to go to a show in Brooklyn and still get back to Jersey before midnight won out. I waited for the band to emerge so I could buy a copy of Coming Out of the Fog and then headed out, the freezing rain that would turn to snow overnight just starting to fall as I crossed the street to my car.

Extra pics after the jump. Thanks for reading.

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