Quarterly Review: Iron Monkey, Deadsmoke, Somnuri, Daira, Kavrila, Ivan, Clara Engel, Alastor, Deadly Vipers, Storm of Void

Posted in Reviews on January 11th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Lodewijk de Vadder (1605-1655) - 17th Century Etching, Landscape with Two Farms

Day Four of the Quarterly Review! Welcome to the downswing. We’re past the halfway point and feeling continually groovy. Thus far it’s been a week of coffee and a vast musical swath that today only reaches even further out from the core notion of what may or may not make a release or a band “heavy.” Is it sound? Is it emotion? Is it concept? Fact is there’s no reason it can’t be all of those things and a ton more, so keep an open mind as you make your way through today’s batch and we’ll all come out of it better people on the other end. Alright? Alright. Here we go.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Iron Monkey, 9-13

iron monkey 9-13

I’ll admit to some level of skepticism at the prospect of an Iron Monkey reunion without frontman Johnny Morrow, who died in 2002, but as founding guitarist Jim Rushby (now also vocals), bassist Steve Watson (who originally played guitar) and new drummer Brigga revive the influential UK sludge outfit with the nine songs of 9-13 on Relapse, it somehow makes sense that the band’s fuckall and irreverence would extend inward as well. That is, why should Iron Monkey find Iron Monkey an any more sacred and untouchable property than they find anything else? Ultimately, the decision will be up to the listener as to acceptance, but the furies of “OmegaMangler,” “Mortarhex,” “Doomsday Impulse Multiplier” and the nine-minute lumber-into-torrent closer “Moreland St. Hammervortex” make a pretty resounding argument that if you can’t get down with Iron Monkey as they are today, it’s going to be your loss and that, as ever, they couldn’t care less to see you stick around or see you go. So welcome back.

Iron Monkey on Thee Facebooks

Relapse Records on Bandcamp

 

Deadsmoke, Mountain Legacy

deadsmoke mountain legacy

Mountain Legacy, which is the second Deadsmoke album for Heavy Psych Sounds, might be the heaviest release the label has put out to-date. For the band, it marks the arrival of keyboardist Claudio Rocchetti to the former trio, and from the lumbering space of aptly-titled post-intro opener “Endless Cave” to the later creeping lurch of “Wolfcurse,” it’s an outing worthy of comparison to the earlier work of Italian countrymen Ufomammut, but still rooted in the gritty, post-Sleep plod the band elicited on their 2016 self-titled debut (review here). The central difference seems to be an increase in atmospheric focus, which does well to enrich the listening experience overall, be it in the creepy penultimate interlude “Forest of the Damned” or side A finale “Emperor of Shame.” Whether this progression was driven by Rocchetti’s inclusion in the band or the other way around, it’s a marked showing of growth on a quick turnaround from Deadsmoke and shows them as having a much broader creative reach than expected. All the better because it’s still so devastatingly weighted.

Deadsmoke on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds website

 

Somnuri, Somnuri

somnuri somnuri

To call Somnuri a formidable trio is underselling it. The Brooklynite three-piece is comprised of guitarist/vocalist Justin Sherrell (Blackout, ex-Bezoar, etc.), bassist Drew Mack (ex-Hull) and drummer Phil SanGiacomo (Family), and the noise they make on their Magnetic Eye-released self-titled debut is as progressive as it is intense. Recorded by Jeff Berner and mixed my SanGiacomo, cuts like “Kaizen” and “Same Skies” land with a doomed heft but move with the singular fury of the Northeastern US, and even as eight-minute closer “Through the Dead” balances more rock-minded impulses and seems to touch on a Soundgarden influence, it answers for the ultra-aggro tumult of “Pulling Teeth” just before. A flash of ambience in the drone interlude “Opaque” follows the plodding highlight “Slow Burn,” which speaks to yet another side of Somnuri’s potential – to create spaces as much as to crush them. With an interplay of cleaner vocals, screams, growls and shouts, there’s enough variety to throw off expectation, and where so much of New York’s noise-metal history is about angry single-mindedness, Somnuri’s Somnuri shows even in a vicious moment like “Inhabitant” that there’s more ground to cover than just being really, really, really pissed off.

Somnuri on Thee Facebooks

Magnetic Eye Records website

 

Daira, Vipreet Buddhi

daira vipreet buddhi

Time to get weird. No. Really weird. In the end, I’m not sure Mumbai semi-improvisationalist troupe Daira did themselves any favors by making their sophomore LP, Vipreet Buddhi, a single 93-minute/16-track outing instead of breaking it into the two halves over which its course is presented – the first being eight distinct songs, the second a flowing single jam broken up over multiple parts – but one way or another, it’s an album that genuinely presents a vibe of its own, taking cues from heavy psych, jazz, funk, classic prog, folk and more as it plays through its bizarre and ambient flow, toying with jarring stretches along the way like the eerie “Apna Ullu Seedha” but so dug in by the time it’s jammed its way into “Dekho Laal Gaya” that it seems like there’s no getting out. It’s an overwhelming and unmanageable offering, but whoever said the avant garde wasn’t supposed to be a challenge? Certainly not Daira, and they clearly have plenty to say. Whatever else you listen to today, I can safely guarantee it won’t sound like this. And that’s probably true of every day.

Daira on Thee Facebooks

Daira on Bandcamp

 

Kavrila, Blight

kavrila blight

Chest-compressing groove and drive will no doubt earn Hamburg four-piece Kavrila’s second album, Blight (on Backbite Records), some comparisons to Mantar, but to dig into tracks like “Gold” and “Each (Part Two)” is to find a surprising measure of atmospheric focus, and even a rage-roller like “Abandon” has a depth to its mix. Though it’s just 24 minutes long, I’d still consider Blight a full-length for the two-sided flow it sets up leading to the aforementioned “Gold” and “Each (Part Two),” both being the longest cut on their respective half of the record in addition to splitting the tracklisting, as well as for the grinding aspects of songs like “Apocalypse,” “Demolish” and “Golem” on side B, the latter of which takes the rhythmic churn of Godflesh to a point of extremity that even the earlier thrust of “Lungs” did little to foretell. There’s a balance of sludge and hardcore elements, to be sure, but it’s the anger that ultimately defines Blight, however coherent it might be (and is) in its violent intent.

Kavrila on Thee Facebooks

Backbite Records webstore

 

Ivan, Strewn Across Stars

ivan strewn across stars

Employing the session violin services of Jess Randall, the Melbourne-based two-piece of Brodric Wellington (drums/vocals) and Joseph Pap (guitar, bass, keys) – collectively known as Ivan – would seem to be drawing a specific line in the direction of My Dying Bride with their take on death-doom, but the emotionalist influence goes deeper than that on Strewn Across Stars, their second LP. Shades of Skepticism show themselves in opener and longest track (immediate points) “Cosmic Fear,” which demonstrates a raw production ready for the limited-cassette obscurism the band conjured for their 2016 debut, Aeons Collapse, but nonetheless fleshed out melodically in the guitar and already-noted, deeply prevalent string arrangement. The subsequent “Ethereal” (12:41), “Hidden Dimensions” (12:25) and “Outro” (8:18) dig even further into plodding shattered-self woefulness, with “Hidden Dimensions” providing a brief moment of tempo release before the violin and keys take complete hold in “Outro” to give listeners one last chance to bask in resonant melancholia. A genre-piece, to be sure, but able to stand on its own in terms of personality and patience alike.

Ivan on Thee Facebooks

Ivan on Bandcamp

 

Clara Engel, Songs for Leonora Carrington

clara-engel-songs-for-leona-carrington

Toronto singer-songwriter Clara Engel pays ambient folk homage to the Mexican surrealist painter/author with the five-tracks of Songs for Leonara Carrington, fleshing out creative and depth-filled arrangements that nonetheless hold fast to the intimate human core beneath. Engel’s voice is of singular character in its melding of gruff fragility, and whether it’s the psychedelic hypnosis of opener and longest track (immediate points) “Birdheaded Queen” or the seemingly minimalist drift of the penultimate “The Ancestor,” her confident melodies float atop gorgeous and sad instrumental progressions that cast an atmosphere of vast reaches. Even the more percussively active centerpiece “Microgods of all the Subatomic Worlds” feels informed by the gradual wash of guitar melody that takes hold on the prior “Sanctuary for Furies,” and as Engel brings in guest contributors for drums, bass, guitar, theremin and choir vocals alongside her own guitar, pump organ, flute and singing, there seems to be little out of her reach or scope. It is a joy to get lost within it.

Clara Engel on Thee Facebooks

Wist Records website

 

Alastor, Blood on Satan’s Claw

alastor-blood-on-satans-claw

I don’t know whether the title-cut of Blood on Satan’s Claw, the new two-songer EP from dirge-doomers Alastor, is leftover from the same sessions that bore their 2017 debut album for Twin Earth Records, Black Magic (review here), but as it’s keeping company with a near-11-minute take on Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Bad Moon Rising,” the four-piece’s return is welcome either way. Unsurprisingly, not much has changed in their approach in the mere months since the full-length was issued, but that doesn’t mean the swing of “Blood on Satan’s Claw,” the central riff of which owes as much to Windhand as to Sleep as to C.O.C.‘s “Albatross” as to Sabbath, isn’t worth digging into all the same, and with psychedelic vocals reminiscent of newer Monolord and flourish of creeper-style organ, its doom resounds on multiple levels leading into the aforementioned cover, which drawls out the classic original arrangement with a wilfully wretched tack that well earns a nod and raised claw. Alastor remain backpatch-ready, seemingly just waiting for listeners to catch on. If these tracks are any indication, they’ll get there.

Alastor on Thee Facebooks

Alastor on Bandcamp

 

Deadly Vipers, Fueltronaut

deadly-vipers-fueltronaut

Give it a couple minutes to get going and Fueltronaut, the debut full-length from French four-piece Deadly Vipers, is more than happy to serve up energetic post-Kyuss desert rock loyalism that’s true to form in both spirit and production. Shades of earliest Dozer and the wider pre-social media older-school Euro heavy underground show themselves quickly in “Universe,” but in the later mid-paced reach of “Stalker,” there’s more modern bluesy vibing and as the mega-fuzzed “Meteor Valley,” the driving jam of “Supernova,” and the let’s-push-the-vocals-really-high-in-the-mix-for-some-reason “Dead Summer” shove the listener onward with righteous momentum toward pre-outro closer “River of Souls,” each track getting longer as it goes, the melody that emerges there indeed feels like a moment of arrival. My only real complaint? The intro “Fuel Prophecy” and (hidden) outro, “Watch the Road End.” Especially with the immediacy that strikes when “Universe” kicks in and the resonant finish of “River of Souls” at its six-minute mark, having anything before the one and after the other seems superfluous. A minor quibble on an impressive debut (one could also ramble about cartoon tits on the cover, but what’s the point?) and showcase of potential from an exciting newcomer outfit clearly assured of the style for which they’re aiming.

Deadly Vipers on Thee Facebooks

Deadly Vipers on Bandcamp

 

Storm of Void, War Inside You

storm-of-void-war-inside-you

Tokyo duo Storm of Void make their full-length debut with the nine-track/48-minute War Inside You, a full-length that might first snag attention owing to guest vocal spots from Napalm Death’s Mark “Barney” Greenway and Jawbox’s J. Robbins, but has no trouble holding that same attention with its progressive instrumental turns and taut execution. Released by Hostess Entertainment, it’s instrumental in bulk, with eight-string guitarist George Bodman (Bluebeard) and drummer Dairoku Seki (envy) coming together to deliver brisk and aggressive prog metal centered around chugging riffs and a tension that seems to take hold in “Into the Circle” and let up only for the momentary “Interlude” in the midsection before closer “Ghosts of Mt. Sleepwalker” finally allows for some exhalation. As for the guest spots, they’re nothing to complain about, and they break up the proceedings nicely placed as they are, but if Storm of Void are going to hook you, it’s going to be on their own merits, which are plentiful.

Storm of Void on Thee Facebooks

Hostess Entertainment website

 

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Eternal Elysium, Searching Low and High: Found at Last

Posted in Reviews on November 30th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

eternal-elysium-searching-low-and-high

To be sure, if you’re looking to start a collection of underrated and ripe-for-broader-appreciation riffage, there are probably few better ways to kick off than with Eternal Elysium. The long-running Nagoya-based outfit trace their stoner rocking Sabbathian loyalties back more than 20 years at this point, and they have a discography chock full of memorable songs that have gone rampantly undervalued in their time. Accordingly, one can only applaud the efforts of Ukrainian imprint Robustfellow Productions in giving due homage to Eternal Elysium‘s 2005 fourth album, Searching Low and High, which from the initial boogie of “Reefer Happiness” through the Hendrixian strut of “Twilight High” and into the depths of 16-minute jammer finale “Green Song” makes just about a perfect lead release for what’s been dubbed the Robust Relics Series.

Given new cover art by Yura “xNinja” Nagorniy and a complete 2017 remix and remaster courtesy of Eternal Elysium founding guitarist/vocalist Yukito Okazaki, the new version of Searching Low and High is comprised of 10 songs and runs a suitably robust 73 minutes thanks in part to the inclusion of two bonus tracks, “Eternal Elysium” (13:53) and “The Spiral Conclusion” (6:59), but even without these, it’s a substantial work of heavy rock idolatry, digging into the roots of the style and focusing less on nuance of presentation than quality of songcraft. That’s not a tradeoff you’re ever going to hear me complain about, and indeed, the band works it to their advantage even for a weirdo interlude like “Approaching Stranger on the Electric Trail of Dreams,” efficiently bringing a sense of atmosphere to the otherwise straightforward attack of the subsequent post-grunge of “No Isolation.”

Following their 1996 debut, Faithful, the next two Eternal Elysium records — 2000’s Spiritualized D and 2002’s Share — were released by MeteorCity, marking their introduction to North American audiences. They’ve had a number of EPs and splits out along the way, including one in 2007 with Black Cobra, and have issued two full-lengths since Searching Low and High in 2009’s Within the Triad and last year’s excellent return, Resonance of Shadows (review here).

Originally issued on Diwphalanx Records with a follow-up vinyl through Hydro-Phonic in 2011, Searching Low and High finds Eternal Elysium at an interesting point in the arc of their overarching progression, confident enough four records deep to throw a little country swing into “Before the Morning Comes” as might a Pepper Keenan-fronted C.O.C. or to play off acid folk on the 1:42 aside “Hazy Sublime” earlier, but well aware that the core of their approach lies in the thickened groove of a song like second cut “Not So Far,” which answers the faster initial rollout of “Reefer Happiness” by unfolding a doomer nod before turning at its halfway point to madcap stoner punk that here jumps from one channel to the other as it makes its way through its careening course toward a solo-topped bookending slowdown.

eternal elysium

The opening salvo, followed immediately by the aforementioned “Hazy Sublime,” represents the very roots of what works best about Searching Low and High, but Eternal Elysium aren’t content to rest on that alone, and the substance of the album proves more varied and more satisfying than it would if they stuck to the same ideas across the span. And it’s precisely there that the band’s experience as songwriters becomes most relevant and, frankly, easiest to discern.

Earlier outings showcased no shortage of fervent stonerism and were righteous in doing so, but with Searching Low and High, Yukito, bassist/vocalist Tana Haugo and drummer Antonio Ishikawa move fluidly between a more varied swath of influences in a way that, in context, seems to provide a model they’d follow even on Resonance of Shadows, planting their feet firmly and moving outward from there. As the organ-laced “Before the Morning Comes” jives into the psychedelically languid “Green Song,” the trio effectively draw the listener along this path as they go, and the final act of immersion into drift is made all the more satisfying by its dynamic ebbs and flows throughout, guitar leads taking the fore of the new mix with a steady rhythmic foundation behind.

Capped with a fadeout and feedback, “Green Song” gives Searching Low and High a fitting conclusion — gone with no return — but the bonus tracks assure that the proceedings aren’t done yet. The eponymous “Eternal Elysium” appeared on the band’s demo in 1992 and “The Spiral Conclusion” featured on their 2012 split with SardoniS, but both were also on the Hydro-Phonic vinyl as well, so they’re hardly out of place here, and if you’re prone to complain about an extra 20 minutes spent with Eternal Elysium coming out of your speakers, you’re probably not taking on a reissue of Searching Low and High in the first place. Another jam. More nodding riffs. Zero argument.

It will be fascinating to see where Robustfellow takes its Robust Relics Series from here. Of course, I’ve discussed on numerous occasions the treasure trove of pre-social media heavy rock and roll that exists both in and out of current print, so there’s no shortage of fodder for the imprint to dig through and stand behind for reissue should it choose to do so, but in beginning with Eternal Elysium, a clear signal and a high standard have been set, and whether Searching Low and High will ultimately mark a departure point into the discographies of other acts or a series of revamped offerings from the Japanese rockers on their own, its arrival is as welcome as its riffs are timeless.

Eternal Elysium, Searching Low & High (2005/2017)

Eternal Elysium website

Eternal Elysium webstore

Eternal Elysium on Thee Facebooks

Eternal Elysium on Twitter

Robustfellow Productions on Thee Facebooks

Robustfellow Productions website

Robustfellow Productions on Twitter

Robustfellow Productions on Bandcamp

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Conan, Kurokuma & Granule to Tour Japan in March

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 23rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Fresh off the heels of releasing their Man is Myth – Early Demos collection on Napalm Records, UK rifflords Conan have announced a run of Japanese dates in March 2018. Support will come from UK compatriots Kurokuma and Tokyo’s Granule, and the tour is being presented under the banner of ‘Doomed Japan,’ which, if you can think of something better to call it, you’ll just have to let me know because from where I sit that about sums it up. Conan do not often go to a place and leave it unflattened, and as they look to hit Nagoya, Osaka, and Tokyo, they’ll also be perhaps on the heels of a new album release expected sometime early next year, so all the more reason to watch out.

The PR wire brings copious info about that and more background on the tour in general:

conan doomed japan

Doomed Japan – Conan, Kurokuma & Granule Japan Tour 2018

UK attack extends to Japan as caveman battle doom trio, Conan announce three shows in the Land of the Rising Sun in March 2018. They will be supported by psychedelic sludge crew, Kurokuma and Tokyo blackened sludge project, Granule.

March 29th (Thu) – Club Zion, Nagoya http://www.clubzion.gionsound.jp/
March 30th (Fri) – Hokage, Osaka http://musicbarhokage.net/
March 31st (Sat) – Earthdom, Tokyo http://www1.odn.ne.jp/~cfs81480/index.html/menu.html

Ticket links can be found via Granule’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/granule.tyo/

Conan (UK) are as heavy as interplanetary thunder amplified through the roaring black hole anus of Azathoth. Remember that sentence, for it is writ large in virgin blood on the walls of the forgotten temple of Bol-Krastor, deep in the steaming forests of forgotten Lemuria. Conan, a monumentally brutal three piece (in the grand tradition of all the hallowed three pieces through time) hold a sinew-tight line and an iron-grip command over the uber-synchronised powerchord changes and tempo-shifts of the anti-holy trio of bass, drums and guitar.

Two weary yet defiant men have the task of vocalising wretched thoughts over the turgid weight of Conan’s metalized bombast. They bear it well, for the task is immense. Hear the roar of battle. Smell the stench of spilt blood. A thousand heads piled high like a grim mound of suffering – a blasphemy to nature. Hail Conan!

Forming in 2006, Conan released their earth-flatteningly heavy debut, Horseback Battle Hammer in 2010. Having revitalised the UK’s slow/heavy scene, they are now signed to Napalm Records and currently recording their fourth album set for release in 2018. They released the Man Is Myth demos earlier this year.

Masters of shamanic, hypnotic sludge, Kurokuma (UK) is Jacob Mazlum (guitar/vocals), George Ionita (bass/vocals) and Joe Allen (drums).

After spending a year in the cold reaches of northern Japan and inspired by his time playing the taiko drum, Joe returned to the UK to start a shadowy three-piece that combined the unassailable power of doom with exotic percussion and an enchanting energy. Taking their name from Kurokuma Falls in Aomori, Kurokuma was born.

Kurokuma’s 2014 demo and the 2016 EP, Advorsus (Medusa Crush Recordins) along with savage live performances have been enough to see them establish a reputation as one of metal’s most potent new forces. In 2018 they will release their Dope Rider concept EP, as well as playing Brutal Assault festival in Czech Republic.

Featuring former members of legendary Tokyo band, BOMBORI, Granule formed in 2017. The five piece soon released AURORA on cassette (w/ zine), this being a rapid crystallisation of the band’s cutting, oppressive sludge sound. More recently they released DEMO #2, an all-out, raw, auditory assault representative of the band’s live show. Granule head up the booking/organisation of the Doomed Japan tour.

https://doomedjapan2018.tumblr.com/

https://www.facebook.com/conancavemanbattledoom/
https://conan-conan.bandcamp.com/
https://twitter.com/hailconan

https://www.facebook.com/kurokumauk
https://kurokumauk.bandcamp.com
https://twitter.com/kurokumauk

https://facebook.com/granule.tyo
https://granule.bandcamp.com/album/aurora
https://twitter.com/granule_tyo

Conan, “Gravity Chasm” from Man is Myth – Early Demos

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Eternal Elysium to Reissue Searching Low and High for Robust Relics Series

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 25th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

eternal elysium

I’ve applied this kind of standard before, I know, but the truth is there are two kinds of people who aren’t going to be down with Eternal Elysium reissuing a fully remixed and remastered version of their 2005 album, Searching Low and High, to kick off Robustfellow‘s new venture, the Robust Relics Series. You know those kinds of people? You guessed it: Jerks and squares. Everyone else should have no trouble getting down, either with the concept or the execution. Not saying I’ve heard it or anything or that I have the mp3s on right now, but the record sounds awesome.

Speaking of awesome, the long-running Japanese doom rockers issued their sixth album, Resonance of Shadows (review here), in 2016 and it was an absolute riff-rolling gem. The trio also contributed the track “Highflyer (Remix)” to Robustfellow‘s expansive 3CD Electric Funeral Cafe Vol. III compilation (review here) earlier in 2017, so this isn’t exactly the first time the band and the Ukraine imprint are working together, despite being a marked deepening of the relationship between the two.

Announcement came down the PR wire with new album art and so on:

eternal-elysium-searching-low-and-high

Robustfellow Prods. To Re-Release the Classic Album of Japanese Heavy Psych/Doom Legends – Eternal Elysium

Robustfellow Prods. is happy to present a new activity supporting the robust scene – Robust Relics Series {RRS}. Here we rediscover robust albums from the past , giving them new life. We create new artwork with one of our artists, complete audio remaster and add bonus tracks from the respective period. RRS reissues are going to be produced with maximum attention to details while paying respect to the original feel of the release.

The first RRS release is going to happen with legends of Japanese heavy psych/doom scene – Eternal Elysium and their fabulous fourth album, Searching Low & High. It was originally released by Diwphalanx Records [CD, PX-132] in 2005, with a vinyl edition from Hydro-Phonic Records [2LP, HPR-247] in 2011.

12 years since its original release, Searching Low and High has become a hard-to-find issue on Discogs and eBay, so we decided to take a robust shocel and dig deeper.

“I think people can feel more raw and natural vibes on this remix version. And I feel this one is still deep and heavy. The big differences in sound between the original release and this remix/remaster are the textures and feeling of air/ambience,” Yukito Okazaki comments. “Those are the things I’m really aware of and taking care of now.”

The album retains the same energy of the moment, each track on the plate is catchy and memorable. Robustcrew considers this album an instant classic release and highly recommends it for everyone who is into heavy psych/doom/robust scene today!

Reissue features:
– Artwork by Yura “xNinja” Nagorniy [Robust Artist]
– Two bonus tracks (appearing on CD for the first time)
– Complete remix/remaster by Yukito Okazaki at Studio Zen in July-August 2017

Eternal Elysium in 2017 is:
Yukito Okazaki-guitar, vocal
Tana Haugo-bass, vocal
Antonio Ishikawa-drums

www.eternalelysium.com/
http://eternalelysiumshop.bigcartel.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Eternal-Elysium-official-160089987381948/
https://twitter.com/ETERNAL_ELYSIUM
https://www.facebook.com/RobustfellowProds/
http://robustfellow.blogspot.com/
https://twitter.com/robust_fellow
robustfellow.bandcamp.com

Eternal Elysium, “Green Song” (original)

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Boris Touring Europe in August to Support New Album Dear

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 25th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

It begins. And by ‘it,’ I suppose I mean the touring cycle Boris will undertake to support their new album, Dear, which releases on July 14 via Sargent House and Daymare Recordings. This touring cycle — you know, as opposed to the general touring cycle that Boris never seem to leave, which in 2016 had them out performing Pink in full and which, in addition to heralding the arrival of Dear on this upcoming run, will see the Tokyo experimentalist trio celebrating their 25th anniversary. The run starts in Moscow on Aug. 3 and will include shows around Poland, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Belgium, Ireland and the UK before finishing in Finland on Aug. 25. Lots of travel, lots of volume. Boris don’t mess around when it comes to either.

If you haven’t checked it out yet, the band unveiled the first bit of audio from Dear in a video for “Absolutego” when they announced the album earlier this month. You’ll find that clip at the bottom of the post here, because it’s the internet and I can do that kind of thing.

From the PR wire:

boris dear euro tour

BORIS DEAR/25TH ANNIVERSARY TOUR ANNOUNCED, NEW ALBUM OUT VIA SARGENT HOUSE, 14 JULY

Legendary amplifier-worshipping trio Boris recently announced the release of their twenty-third studio album, Dear, which is due out July 14th on Sargent House. Today we’re pleased to share news of live shows on the horizon in support of the album and their 25th Anniversary, including festival appearances, all dates below:-

BORIS 25 ANNIVERSARY/DEAR TOUR DATES
03/08 – Moscow, Volta – RU
04/08 – St. Petersburg, ClubZal – RU
05/08 – Vienna, Szene – AT
06/08 – Katowice, OFF Festival – PL
07/08 – Leipzig, Naumans – DE
08/08 – Berlin, Lido – DE
09/08 – Jaromer, Brutal Assault – CZ
10/08 – Munich, Backstage – DE
11/08 – Frankfurt, Das Bett – DE
12/08 – Lausanne, Rock Altitude – CH
13/08 – Ieper, Ieperfest – BE
15/08 – Cologne, Underground – DE
16/08 – Hamburg, Hafenklang – DE
17/08 – Bielefeld, Forum – DE
18/08 – Amstelveen, P60 – NL
19/08 – Bristol, Arctangent Festival – UK
20/08 – Dublin, Whelans – IE
21/08 – Cork, Cyprus Avenue – IE
23/08 – Belfast – Limelight – UK
25/08 – Helsinki – Nosturi – FI

Read on for more information about the new album…

Dear marks the band’s 25th year of existence and while the 10-track album is chockfull of early-Boris calling cards, the avant-garde mavens aren’t learning on old tricks, describing the album as “heavenly—far beyond heavy.” Boris have shared the album’s first single and magnificent new music video “Absolutego”.

Though Boris have traversed a broad swath of sonic territories, they have always been consistently embraced the excess, pushing their myriad of approaches and stylistic forays to points of intoxicating absurdity. Eventually the band reached a crossroads in the early years of their third decade together, leaving them wondering if there were any new horizons left to explore. The renewed vitality yielded an album that fortifies their monolithic wall of sound while also allowing the individual band members to explore the nuances and intricacies of minimalist riffs played at maximum volume.

Songwriting for Dear initially yielded three albums’ worth of material by the end of 2015, but as the band was slated to spend a large chunk of 2016 on their “Performing Pink” worldwide tour, they decided to hold off on releasing any new material. The tour further rekindled their passion for the craft, spurring the band to return home to crank out even more new material while scaling down three records’ worth of sonic deluge down to one.

From the glacial pacing and earthquaking rumble of the album opener to the smouldering rock ’n roll-infused “Absolutego”, Boris have managed to find wildly thrilling work in the familiar trenches of metal. Never ones to shy away from a challenge, the trio carves even experiments with fuzz fuelled dream pop. “At the very first moment, this album began as some kind of potential farewell note of Boris,” the band said. “However, it became a sincere letter to fans and listeners… you know, like ‘Dear so-and-so, this is the new album from Boris’ or something like that. We feel so grateful we can release this album in our 25th anniversary year.”

Dear will be released to the world on July 14, 2017 on CD, 2xLP, and digital formats. Stay tuned for more news to come.

Dear Track Listing:
1. D.O.W.N. (Domination Of Waiting Noise)
2. DEADSONG
3. Absolutego
4. Beyond
5. Kagero
6. Biotope
7. The Power
8. Memento Mori
9. Dystopia -Vanishing Point-
10. Dear

http://www.facebook.com/borisheavyrocks/
http://borisheavyrocks.com/
https://www.facebook.com/sargenthouse/
http://www.sargenthouse.com/
https://www.facebook.com/daymarerecordings/

Boris, “Absolutego”

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Boris to Release New Album Dear to Celebrate 25th Anniversary

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 16th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

boris

25 years of Boris. How is the world not weirder than it is? The long-running Japanese genreproof experimentalists have been everywhere, seen everything, done just about everything, kicked more ass than one could’ve thought a human foot would endure and still come out of it with the creative drive to alienate entire segments of their audience at will. After a quarter-century, they remain nearly impossible to predict, and even now as I look at the cover below of their forthcoming album, Dear — which is out July 14 on Sargent House and Daymare Recordings — I have absolutely no idea what to expect from the record. How many bands can you sincerely say that about?

That’s not the only thing that’s made Boris so crucial for the last two and a half decades, but it’s definitely part of it. Info on the new record follows below from the PR wire, along with their new video for “Absolutego” from Dear, which, if it has you scratching your head and wondering, “Hey, wasn’t Absolutego the name of Boris‘ first album, released in 1996?,” yes, yes it was. I don’t think it’s a coincidence.

Have at you:

boris dear

Boris celebrate 25 years together with new album Dear, watch a music video for their first single “Absolutego”

Legendary amplifier-worshipping trio Boris have announced the release of their twenty-third studio album, Dear, which is due out July 14th on Sargent House. Dear marks the band’s 25th year of existence and while the 10-track album is chockfull of early-Boris calling cards, the avant-garde mavens aren’t learning on old tricks, describing the album as “heavenly—far beyond heavy.” Boris share the album’s first single and magnificent new music video “Absolutego”.

Though Boris have traversed a broad swath of sonic territories, they have always been consistently embraced the excess, pushing their myriad of approaches and stylistic forays to points of intoxicating absurdity. Eventually the band reached a crossroads in the early years of their third decade together, leaving them wondering if there were any new horizons left to explore. The renewed vitality yielded an album that fortifies their monolithic wall of sound while also allowing the individual band members to explore the nuances and intricacies of minimalist riffs played at maximum volume.

Songwriting for Dear initially yielded three albums’ worth of material by the end of 2015, but as the band was slated to spend a large chunk of 2016 on their “Performing Pink” worldwide tour, they decided to hold off on releasing any new material. The tour further rekindled their passion for the craft, spurring the band to return home to crank out even more new material while scaling down three records’ worth of sonic deluge down to one.

From the glacial pacing and earthquaking rumble of the album opener to the smoldering rock ’n roll-infused “Absolutego”, Boris have managed to find wildly thrilling work in the familiar trenches of metal. Never ones to shy away from a challenge, the trio carves even experiments with fuzz fueled dream pop. “At the very first moment, this album began as some kind of potential farewell note of Boris,” the band said. “However, it became a sincere letter to fans and listeners… you know, like ‘Dear so-and-so, this is the new album from Boris’ or something like that. We feel so grateful we can release this album in our 25th anniversary year.”

Dear will be released to the world on July 14, 2017 on CD, 2xLP, and digital formats. Stay tuned for more news to come.

Dear Track Listing:
1. D.O.W.N. (Domination Of Waiting Noise)
2. DEADSONG
3. Absolutego
4. Beyond
5. Kagero
6. Biotope
7. The Power
8. Memento Mori
9. Distopia Vanishing Point
10. Dear

http://www.facebook.com/borisheavyrocks/
http://borisheavyrocks.com/
https://www.facebook.com/sargenthouse/
http://www.sargenthouse.com/
https://www.facebook.com/daymarerecordings/

Boris, “Absolutego”

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Friday Full-Length: Shinki Chen and His Friends, Shinki Chen and His Friends

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 17th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Shinki Chen and His Friends, Shinki Chen and His Friends (1971)

One can scarcely find any information on Tokyo-based guitarist Shinki Chen that doesn’t refer to him in one way or another as ‘Japan’s Jimi Hendrix.’ Don’t get me wrong — Hendrix is Hendrix, and without him heavy rock and roll doesn’t exist as we know it, but the designation is more telling about the Western perspective of those making it than it actually is in conveying the character in Shinki‘s playing, which is writ large over his 1971 debut, Shinki Chen and His Friends (also discussed here). Isn’t every lead guitarist Something or Somewhere’s Jimi Hendrix, anyway? At least if they’re doing it right?

Shinki most certainly was that — doing it right — but again, that’s hardly the sum total of what’s on offer with Shinki Chen and His Friends, and all one has to do to realize that is make their way through the opening backwards psychedelic experimentalism of “The Dark Sea Dream.” It’s an intro, made basically of manipulated guitar noise, and yet at 4:51 it’s longer than all but two of the tracks that follow, the closing duo of “Corpse” (5:16) and “Farewell to Hypocrites” (12:52), the latter of which seems to be pieced together from a couple different jams. Not only does Shinki Chen and His Friends remain affected by this initial bend into weirdoism for its duration, but to hear the bass and vocals of George Yanagi and the keys of Hiro Yanagida on “Requiem of Confusion” as backed by Shinichi Nogi‘s drumming, it’s obvious the Friends portion of the four-piece outfit have a key role to play. Hell, “Requiem of Confusion” sounds like the blueprint on which Radio Moscow and too many other classic-styled heavy rock outfits were built, and to get into the fuzzy blues bounce of “Freedom of a Mad Paper Lantern” and the organ-laced sentimentality of “Gloomy Reflections,” there’s a progressive character in Shinki‘s playing and in the performance of the rest of the band that goes beyond being anything other than itself. We know well that by 1971, a heavy rock boom was taking place the world over, from post-hippie Californian fields to Nigerian psychedelic funk dancehalls to Australian barrooms, but as a player and a bandleader, Shinki Chen deserves to be in the conversation of underrated purveyors who had something no one else could offer in quite the same way.

With a song like “It was Only Yesterday,” on which the mix seems to be as fluid as the overarching groove itself, full of swells and recessions and pans between the organ and guitar while the drums remain buried far, far in the back and the fuzzy bass does most of the rhythmic work, part of it is down to finding just the right tempo at which to execute. Shinki Chen and His Friends, unlike much of the era’s output, isn’t just about nailing the heaviest or fastest part or about aping the blues. It’s not quite totally prog, and it’s not quite proto-metal, but it’s definitely psychedelia-plus, and its 39-minute run unfolds quickly by the time “Corpse” comes around with another open-feeling nod, distinct separation between keys, guitar, bass and drums, and a languid spirit that makes a fitting summary leading into the more expansive “Farewell to Hypocrites,” more raucous on the whole and rawer than a lot of the record, but still cohesive as it makes its way into the realms of “far out” and on to whatever lay beyond, Shinki‘s razor-sharp fretwork at the head of the forward charge.

The same year Shinki Chen and His Friends was released, Shinki would form the trio Speed, Glue and Shinki with bassist Masayoshi Kabe (who sniffed glue) and drummer/vocalist Joey Smith (who took speed). They’d put out one album in 1971 on Atlantic called Eve that’s worth driving through a hurricane to pick up and a self-titled 2LP compilation the next year, but that would mark the final recorded appearance of Shinki Chen, who by all reports simply decided he didn’t want to do it anymore and so stopped. Heck of a talent to let go to waste, but fair enough. Shinki Chen and His Friends, Eve and Speed, Glue and Shinki have all been duly bootlegged and reissued, and though his tenure was brief, Shinki Chen remains one of the standout players of the period.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

I wrote the above at about 2:30 in the morning last night, so if it’s completely incoherent, I apologize. At that point I’d already been up for more than an hour. I went to sleep at about quarter after nine, woke up circa 1AM, and was awake for most of the night thereafter. I slept a bit between 2:45 — when I put the laptop back down — and 3:15, and 4:00 and 4:45, when the alarm finally went off, but yeah. Pretty terrible evening of rest on the whole. Doubt it will be my last.

Prior to, I’d been doing pretty well this week in that regard, especially considering The Patient Mrs. has been away the last few days and that’s always a kink in the sleep pattern. I got home from work around 6:30, feeling frustrated about that very fact and any number of other things, so yeah, I guess that was enough taken in combination with feeling anxious around a work off-site for today — it’s different! — and not really knowing what’s going on this weekend (supposed to have family up, but might not on account of impending weather). Plus there’s dog poop outside I need to pick up, and there was the Shinki Chen writeup to do. Quite literally these are the things that keep me up at night. At least last night they were.

I repeated my mantra, “It’s okay it’s okay it’s okay it’s okay,” but to no avail. I’ve been taking herbal supplements for anxiety the last couple weeks at the kind recommendation of a reader, but have a doctor’s appointment on Monday for a physical and might ask for something a little more defizzle-your-brain on a chemical level, just to even me out a bit for a while. Feeling uneven.

Also, anybody got $200,000 they don’t need? Ha.

Okay. Sorry we didn’t get that Samsara Blues Experiment stream up today. There were some timing issues. It’ll be premiered on Monday with the cover art. Here’s the rest of what’s in the notes:

Mon.: Attalla full-album stream/review; Samsara Blues Experiment track premiere/artwork reveal.
Tue.: Los Natas LP review; Phlefonyaar video premiere.
Wed.: Drug Honkey track premiere; Cybernetic Witch Cult video premiere.
Thu.: Review and track premiere for the new Lord (yes!).
Fri.: Q&A and track premiere for Doctor Cyclops; new single premiere from Mirror Queen.

Busy week. Busy weekend, accordingly. I’ve finished mapping out what will be included in the Quarterly Review in two weeks, and I’d like to start organizing the covers, links, tags and so on for those posts this weekend. I also have a bio to write for Lords of Beacon House and copy to assemble for the Roadburn ‘zine, and that Los Natas review will have to be written on Sunday since I don’t have a turntable in my cubicle at work, etc., etc. I don’t expect to sleep much.

But anyway. I gotta get my last cup of coffee (house coffee, as opposed to that which I’m bringing with me to the office) and get ready to head out, get through this Friday and get started as quickly as possible on the aforementioned weekend. I hope you have a great and safe and stress-free one and that all is well on your end generally. I hear on the social medias that Mike Scheidt of YOB is having (more) surgery today. Send him good thoughts for an easy time and speedy recovery. Surgery blows.

Thanks for reading. Please check out the forum and radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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Kikagaku Moyo Touring the US in May; New EP out Next Month

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 14th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Tokyo psychedelic mavens Kikagaku Moyo are coming to the US for a tour starting in scenic Philadelphia, Pennsylvania — really, I mean that; I love Philly — on May 2. The adventurous lysergic rockers released their third album last year and will have a new EP titled Stone Garden out April 21 on Guruguru Brain ahead of the tour, the rather extensive reach of which you can find below.

It goes coast-to-coast and finds them paired with Holy Sons, which of course is Emil Amos from Grails and Om, as well as Mono. Routing-wise, it’s a little all over the place — Philly, D.C., Brooklyn, Vermont, Montreal; Oregon, British Columbia, Washington, Oregon — but no doubt it’ll get them in front of open eyes and open minds along the way, and of course that’s the whole idea.

Wanna see what the PR wire has to say about it? Well, here you go:

kikagaku moyo Jamie Wdziekonski

Kikagaku Moyo Announce North American Tour Kicking Off In May

New EP ‘Stone Garden’ Out April 21st

Today, Kikagaku Moyo announce their spring North American tour, to follow the release of their new EP ‘Stone Garden,’ out April 21st via Guruguru Brain. The tour will kick off in Philadelphia on May 2nd, and will take the band from the East to the West Coast.

‘Stone Garden’ started in a basement studio in Prague with a nearly continuous session over several days and nights. The original concept was influenced by the raw and seemingly endless jams of psychedelic pioneers. The freeform songs that emerged from those sessions were refined over several months at the band’s home in Tokyo where each song was sculpted into an uncommon form.

Compared to their relatively song based previous LP ‘House in the Tall Grass,’ ‘Stone Garden’ is a window into Kikagaku Moyo’s experimental side. While improvisation is essential to their songwriting process it can take on many forms. This record enabled the band to experiment not only with instrumentation but also atonality and a playful approach to mixing. The unexpected results have become five unique songs each woven together through the same process.

Kikagaku Moyo (Japanese for Geometric Patterns) is the musical union between five free spirits. Go Kurosawa (drums, Vocals) and Tomo Katsurada (Guitar, Vocals) formed the band in 2012 as a free artist’s collective. They met Kotsuguy (Bass) while he was recording noise from vending machines and Akira (Guitar) through their university. Ryu Kurosawa had been studying Sitar in India, upon returning home he found the perfect outlet for his practice.

TOUR DATES
5/2 – Johnny Brenda’s – Philadelphia, PA *
5/3 – Rock & Roll Hotel – Washington DC *
5/4 – Rough Trade – Brooklyn, NY
5/5 – Waking Windows Music & Arts Fest – Winooski, VT
5/6 – Bar Le “Ritz” P.D.B. – Montreal, QC
5/7 – Great Scott – Allston, MA
5/9 – Mahall’s – Cleveland, OH
5/10 – Spirit – Pittsburgh, PA
5/11 – Marble Bar – Detroit, MI
5/12 – The Empty Bottle – Chicago, IL
5/13 – Company Brewing – Milwaukee, WI
5/14 – 7th St. Entry – Minneapolis, MN
5/17 – Doug Fir Lounge – Portland, OR ^
5/18 – The Cobalt – Vancouver, BC ^
5/19 – Sunset Tavern – Seattle, WA ^
5/20 – Hi-Fi Music Hall – Eugene, OR ^
5/21 – The Independent – San Francisco, CA ^
5/22 – The Echoplex – Los Angeles, CA ^
5/23 – The Hideout – San Diego, CA ^
5/24 – The Flycatcher – Tucson, AZ ^
5/26 – Scottish Rite Theater – Austin, TX
5/27 – Foundry Beer Garden – Dallas, TX
5/28 – Growler’s – Memphis, TN
5/29 – Mothlight – Asheville, NC
5/30 – High Watt – Nashville, TN
5/31 – The Earl – Atlanta, GA
* w/ MONO, Holy Sons
^ w/ Sugar Candy Mountain

Stone Garden EP – TRACKLISTING
01. Backlash
02. Nobakitani
03. Trilobites
04. In a Coil
05. Floating Leaf

http://kikagakumoyo.tumblr.com/
https://www.facebook.com/kikagakumoyo/
https://twitter.com/kikagaku_moyo
https://geometricpatterns.bandcamp.com/
https://gurugurubrain.bandcamp.com/album/house-in-the-tall-grass
http://www.facebook.com/GuruguruBrain

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