Quarterly Review: Lucifer, Heilung, Amarok, T.G. Olson, Sun Dial, Lucid Grave, Domadora, Klandestin, Poor Little Things, Motorowl

Posted in Reviews on July 19th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-CALIFORNIA-LANDSCAPE-Julian-Rix-1851-1903

You know what’s disheartening? When someone goes ‘thanks dudes.’ You know, I share a review or something, the band reposts and goes ‘thanks to the crew at The Obelisk blah blah.’ What fucking crew? If I had a crew, I’d put up 10 reviews every single day of the year. “Crew.” Shit. I am the crew. In the description of this site, the very first thing it says is “One-man operation.” It’s a fucking solo-project. That’s the whole point of it. It’s like me looking at your bass and going, “Sweet guitar, thanks for the solos brah.” I’m happy people want to share links and this and that, but really? It’s been nine years. Give me a break.

Oh yeah, that’s right. Nobody gives a shit. Now I remember. Thanks for reading.

And while we’re here, please remember the numbers for these posts don’t mean anything. This isn’t a countdown. Or a countup. It’s just me keeping track of how much shit I’m reviewing. The answer is “a lot.”

Grump grump grump.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Lucifer, Lucifer II

lucifer lucifer ii

Recorded as the trio of vocalist Johanna Sardonis (ex-The Oath), guitarist Robin Tidebrink (Saturn) and guitarist/drummer Nicke Andersson (Death Breath, ex-Entombed, ex-The Hellacopters), Lucifer’s second album, Lucifer II (on Rise Above), follows three years after its numerical predecessor, Lucifer I (review here), and marks its personnel changes with a remarkable consistency of mission. Like Mercyful Fate gone disco, the formerly-Berlin/London-now-Stockholm group bring stage-ready atmospheres to songs like “Phoenix” and the riff-led “Before the Sun,” while unleashing a largesse of hooks in “Dreamer” and the boogie-pushing “Eyes in the Sky.” “Dancing with Mr. D” brings nod to a Rolling Stones cover, and “Before the Sun” reaffirms a heavy ‘70s root in their sound. I can’t help but wonder if the doomier “Faux Pharaoh” is a sequel to “Purple Pyramid,” but either way, its thicker, darker tonality is welcome ahead of the bonus track Scorpions cover “Evening Wind,” which again demonstrates the ease with which Lucifer make established sounds their own. That’s pretty much the message of the whole album. Lucifer are a big band. Lucifer II makes the case for their being a household name.

Lucifer on Thee Facebooks

Rise Above Records webstore

 

Heilung, Lifa

heilung lifa

Lifa is the audio taken from the live video that brought Denmark’s Heilung to prominence. Captured at Castlefest in The Netherlands in last year, the impression the expansive Viking folk group made was all the more powerful with elaborate costuming, bone percussive instruments, antlers, animal-skin drums, and so on. Their debut studio album, Ofnir, came out in 2015 and like LIFA has been issued by Season of Mist, but the attention to detail and A/V experience only adds to the hypnotic tension and experimentalist edge in the material. Does it work with just the audio? Yes. The 12-minute “In Maijan” and somehow-black-metal “Krigsgaldr” maintain their trance-out-of-history aspect, and the 75-minute set blends multi-tiered melodies and goblin-voiced declarations for an impression unlike even that which Wardruna bring to bear. Whether it’s the drones of “Fylgija Futhorck” or the chants and thuds of “Hakkerskaldyr,” LIFA is striking from front to back and a cohesive, visionary work that should be heard as well as seen. But definitely seen.

Heilung on Thee Facebooks

Season of Mist website

 

Amarok, Devoured

amarok devoured

Eight years after their founding, an EP and several splits, Chico, California, atmosludge extremists Amarok make their full-length debut with Devoured on Translation Loss. If it’s been a while in the making, it’s easy enough to understand why. The album is rife with brutalist and grueling sensibilities. Comprised of just four tracks, it runs upwards of 70 minutes and brings a visceral churn to each cut, not forgetting the importance of atmosphere along the way, but definitely focused on the aural bludgeoning they’re dealing out. Tempos, duh, are excruciating, and between the screams and growls of bassist Brandon Squyres (also Cold Blue Mountain) and guitarist Kenny Ruggles – the band completed by guitarist Nathan Collins and drummer Colby ByrneAmarok make their bid for Buried at Sea levels of heft and rumble their way across a desolate landscape of their own making. Eight years to conjure this kind of punishment? Yeah, that seems about right. See you in 2026.

Amarok on Thee Facebooks

Translation Loss Records webstore

 

T.G. Olson, Ode to Lieutenant Henry

tg olson ode to lieutenant henry

Here’s a curious case: T.G. Olson, founding guitarist and vocalist of Across Tundras, is a prolific experimental singer-songwriter. His material ranges from psychedelic country to fuller-toned weirdo Americana and well beyond. He’s wildly prolific, and everything goes up on Bandcamp for a name-your-price download, mostly unannounced. It’s not there, then it is. Olson’s latest singe, Ode to Lieutenant Henry, was there, and now it’s gone. With the march of its title-track and a complementary cover of Townes van Zandt’s “Silver Ships of Andilar,” I can’t help but be curious as to where the tracks went and if they’ll be back, perhaps in some other form or as part of a different release. Both are plugged-in and coated in fuzzy tones, with Olson’s echoing vocals providing a human presence in the wide soundscape of his own making. The original is shorter than the cover, but both songs boast a signature sense of ramble that, frankly, is worth being out there. Hopefully they’re reposted at some point, either on their own as they initially were or otherwise.

Across Tundras on Thee Facebooks

T.G. Olson/Across Tundras on Bandcamp

 

Sun Dial, Science Fiction

sun dial sci fi

If space is the place, Sun Dial feel right at home in it. The long-running UK psychedelic adventurers collect two decades’ worth of soundtrack material on Science Fiction, their new release for Sulatron Records. Made with interwoven keyboard lines and a propensity to periodically boogie on “Mind Machine,” “Airlock,” “Infra Red,” etc., the experimentalist aspect of Science Fiction is all the more remarkable considering the album is compiled from different sources. One supposes the overarching cosmos is probably what brings it together, but with the samples and synth of “Saturn Return” and the lower end space-bass of pre-bonus-track closer “Starwatchers” – that bonus track, by the way, is a 15-minute version of opener “Hangar 13” – and though the vast majority of the Science Fiction relies on synth and keys to make its impression, it’s still only fair to call the proceedings natural, as the root of each one seems to be exploration. It’s okay to experiment. Nobody’s getting hurt.

Sun Dial on Thee Facebooks

Sun Dial at Sulatron Records webstore

 

Lucid Grave, Demo 2018

lucid grave demo 2018

There are three songs on Lucid Grave’s first outing, the aptly-titled Demo 2018, and the first of them is also the longest (immediate points), “Star.” It presents a curious and hard to place interpretation of psychedelic sludge rock. It is raw as a demo worthy of its name should be, and finds vocalist Malene Pedersen (also Lewd Flesh) echoing out to near-indecipherable reaches atop the feedback-addled riffing. Quite an introduction, to say the least. The subsequent “Desert Boys” is more subdued at the start but gets furious at the end, vocals spanning channels in an apparent call and response atop increasingly intense instrumental thrust. And as for “Ride the Hyena?” If I didn’t know better – and rest assured, I don’t – I’d call it doom. I’m not sure what the hell the København five-piece are shooting for in terms of style, but I damn sure want to hear what they come up with next so I can find out. Consider me enticed. And accordingly, one can’t really accuse Demo 2018 of anything other than doing precisely what it’s supposed to do.

Lucid Grave on Thee Facebooks

Lucid Grace on Bandcamp

 

Domadora, Lacuna

domadora lacuna

Comprised of four-tracks of heavy psychedelic vibes led by the scorch-prone guitar of Belwil, Domadora’s third album, Lacuna, follows behind 2016’s The Violent Mystical Sukuma (discussed here) and taps quickly into a post-Earthless league of instrumentalism on opener “Lacuna Jam.” That should be taken as a compliment, especially as regards the bass and drums of Gui Omm and Karim Bouazza, respectively, who hold down uptempo grooves there and roll along with the more structured 14-minute cut “Genghis Khan” that follows. Each of the album’s two sides is comprised of a shorter track and a longer one, and there’s plenty of reach throughout, but more than expanse, even side B’s “Vacuum Density” and “Tierra Last Homage” are more about the chemistry between the band members – Angel Hidalgo Paterna rounds out on organ – than about crafting a landscape. Fortunately for anyone who’d take it on, the Parisian unit have plenty to offer when it comes to that chemistry.

Domadora on Thee Facebooks

Domadora on Bandcamp

 

Klandestin, Green Acid of Last Century

klandestin green acid of last century

That’s a big “fuck yes, thank you very much” for the debut album from Indonesian stoner metallers Klandestin. Green Acid of the Last Century arrives courtesy of Hellas Records and is THC-heavy enough that if they wanted to, they could probably add “Bong” to the band’s name and it would be well earned. Eight tracks, prime riffs, watery vocals, dense fuzz, stomp, plod, lumber, shuffle – it’s all right there in homegrown dosage, and for the converted, Green Acid of the Last Century is nothing short of a worship ceremony, for the band itself as well as for anyone taking it on. With the march of “Doomsday,” the unmitigated rollout of “Black Smoke,” and the swirling green aurora of “The Green Aurora,” Klandestin wear their holding-back-a-cough riffage as a badge of honor, and couldn’t be any less pretentious about it if they tried. From the hooded weedian on the cover art to the Sleepy nod of closer “Last Century,” Green Acid of Last Century telegraphs its intent front-to-back, and is all the more right on for it.

Klandestin on Thee Facebooks

Hellas Records on Bandcamp

 

Poor Little Things, Poor Little Things

poor little things poor little things

You get what you pay for with “Rock’n’Roller,” which leads off the self-titled debut EP from Bern, Switzerland-based Poor Little Things. Around the core duo of vocalist Tina Jackson and multi-instrumentalist Dave “Talon” Jackson (also of Australia’s Rollerball) on guitar, bass, synth and percussion is Talon’s The Marlboro Men bandmate Fernando Marlboro on drums, and together the band presents five tracks of remember-when-rock-rocked-style groove. Fueled by ‘70s accessibility and a mentality that seems to be saying it’s okay to play big rooms, like arenas, cuts like “Drive” seem prime for audience participation, and “Break Another Heart” gives a highlight performance from Tina while “About Love” showcases a more laid back take. They close with the 6:37 “Street Cheetah,” which struts appropriately, and end with a percussive finish on a fadeout repeating the title line. As a showcase of their style and songwriting chops, Poor Little Things shows significant promise, sure, but it’s also pretty much already got everything it needs for a full-length album.

Poor Little Things on Thee Facebooks

Poor Little Things on Bandcamp

 

Motorowl, Atlas

motorowl atlas

Every now and then you put on a record and it’s way better than you expect. Hello, Motorowl’s Atlas. The German troupe’s second for Century Media, it takes the classic stylizations of their 2016 debut, Om Generator, and pushes them outward into a vast sea of organ-laced progressive heavy, soaring in vocal melodies and still modern despite drawing from an array of decades past. The chug in “The Man Who Rules the World” would be metal for most bands, but on Atlas, it becomes part of a broader milieu, and sits easily next to the expansive title-track, as given to post-rocking airiness in the guitar as to synth-laden prog. That mixture of influences and aesthetics would be enough to give the five-piece an identity of their own, but Atlas is further characterized by Motorowl’s ambitious songwriting and benefits greatly from the melodic arrangements and the clear intention toward creative development at work here. Those who take on its seven-track/45-minute journey will find it dynamic, spacious and heavy in kind.

Motorowl on Thee Facebooks

Motorowl at Century Media website

 

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A Storm of Light Announce New Album Anthroscene

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 22nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Hard to believe it’s been five years since the last album from A Storm of Light came out. That record was Nations to Flames on Southern Lord and their new one, dubbed Anthroscene in a clever play on the you-are-here era of planetary extinction in which we currently live, will be out via Consouling Sounds in Europe and Translation Loss in the States this Fall as the band get ready to tour overseas with Mono. It’s a pretty significant run that starts in the UK and ends in Russia, but of course A Storm of Light will be up to the task. In addition to frontman Josh Graham‘s work on graphics for Neurosis, Soundgarden, and a host of others, they’ve always kept plenty busy on the road.

Info and dates follow from the PR wire:

a storm of light

A STORM OF LIGHT ARE BACK WITH A NEW ALBUM TO BE RELEASED IN TIME FOR LIVE DATES WITH MONO THIS OCTOBER

A Storm of Light return with news of a new record. Five years after their last studio album (Nation To Flames, Southern Lord), Josh Graham and his companions Chris Common, Dan Hawkins and Domenic Seita have been working on their fifth full length Anthroscene which shall be released via Consouling Sounds (EU and UK) and Translation Loss (US) this Autumn.

A Storm Of Light will be presenting their new album across Europe in October, performing alongside Mono – see the list of dates below.

A STORM OF LIGHT LIVE WITH MONO
01/10 – UK Bristol, The Fleece
02/10 – UK Norwich, Arts Centre
03/10 – UK Glasgow, Classic Grand
04/10 – UK Newcastle, The Cluny
05/10 – UK Leeds, Left Bank
06/10 – BE Ghent, De Central
07/10 – NL Utrecht, Tivoli De Helling
08/10 – DE Bremen, Tower
09/10 – DE Dresden, Beatpol
10/10 – DE Wiesbaden, Schlacthof
11/10 – CH Aarau, Kiff
12/10 – FR Lyon, CCO
13/10 – ES Barcelona, AMFest
14/10 – FR Toulouse, Le Rex
15/10 – FR Bordeaux, Iboat
16/10 – FR Orleans, Astrolabe
17/10 – NL Heerlen, Nieuwe Nor
18/10 – DE Oberhausen, Drucklufthaus
19/10 – NL Leeuwarden, Into The Void
20/10 – GR Athens, Fuzz Club
22/10 – RU Moscow, Zil
23/10 – RU St. Petersburg, Zal

https://www.facebook.com/astormoflight
https://astormoflight.com/
https://astormoflightsl.bandcamp.com/
https://consouling.be/
https://www.translationloss.com/

A Storm of Light, Nations to Flames (2013)

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Grayceon, IV: The Slow Burn

Posted in Reviews on May 2nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

grayceon iv

I have no problem admitting when I’m a fan of a band, and I’m a fan of San Francisco trio Grayceon. In 2011, the group led by cellist/vocalist Jackie Perez Gratz — once of the vastly underrated Amber Asylum, also a contributor to Neurosis, Agalloch, Om and I don’t know how many others — released their third full-length, All We Destroy (review here; discussed here), on Profound Lore, and seven years later, it’s a record I still break out for periodic listens at least a couple times a year. Thus the prospect of a new LP from Perez Gratz, guitarist Max Doyle and drummer Zack Farwell was one I approached with some trepidation.

It can be difficult when you feel an attachment to a record to accept a group’s “next one.” As I put on the Translation Loss-released IV — obviously named after the Goatsnake LP (that’s a joke) — and began to make my way through opener “Sliver Moon” at the outset of an eight-song/40-minute course that moves swiftly and gracefully between head-down thrash intensity spacious post-heavy and doomed march, my concerns were as much soothed away as they were set on fire. Seven years hence (though to be fair, they had the Pearl and the End of Days EP in 2013 as well), Grayceon has returned with an album that justified the expanse of time it took for it to arrive — a blazingly progressive offering of dare-you-to-keep-up complexity that changes tempos and methods while landing memorable hooks in “Scorpion,” “Let it Go,” “Slow Burn” the closer “Dreamers” while remaining atmospheric in both its moments of intensity and slower marches.

For Jackie Perez Gratz, it’s an utter triumph of performance almost immediately. “Sliver Moon” establishes her as the driver of much of the melody throughout, and she drives counterfigures off Doyle‘s chugging riffs and meets him to join forces on winding transitional lines in a way that makes IV seem absolutely woven. The percussion opening “By-the-Wind Sailors,” handled by Pearl and Pepper Gregory in addition to Farwell sets a tense bed for the sustained cello notes and plucked guitar notes, and with a scream as it approaches the midpoint, the song bursts into one of the album’s most extreme moments, with frenetic blasting from Farwell and likewise speedy guitar and cello to match.

The lines, “We’ve had our time/Time of our lives/We’ve had our time/You and I” sound in context as though they could apply as much to a personal relationship as to that between the human species and the planet on which we live, and the chorus sprints through again before Grayceon settle into a gallop and crash into a momentary respite before the thrashing resumes to close out and lead into the immediate start of “Scorpion,” which finds a middle ground in its early going between the two sides that “By-the-Wind Sailors” seemed to offer; the cello-led metallurgy and the sections more concerned with ambient breadth and melodic storytelling.

grayceon

Upon reaching the three-minute mark, the track stops and shifts into a doomly march that carries it outward with some shifts of cello and melody. Cello as the last remaining element gives way to the quiet open of “Let it Go,” which might serve as the standout track on IV with its likewise slower march, patient delivery and memorable chorus, screams directly contradicting melodic vocals in representation of an inner emotional struggle — “let go” vs. “don’t let go” — as it relates to love itself. A mournful cello line picks up after the final chorus and leads the way out to silence and the fast, intricate picking from Doyle that begins side B with the quick intro to “Slow Burn.”

It’s here and in songs like “Dreamers” still to come that Grayceon show how dynamic they can be, not only writing one kind of song or another, loud or quiet, claustrophobic or spacious, but in putting tempo contrasts smacked against each other in a single piece. “Slow Burn’ opens from its galloping start to a crashing stomp that’s one of the record’s most fervent, and a verse that sets the stage for a slower, richly melodic apex topped with the lines, “What if you knew what you know now?/What would I have said to change your mind?/What if you knew what you know now?/What do you have to say?” that repeats with slight changes in the words but is beautiful and sweeping and painful all at the same time, cutting to an immediate, companion-feeling run of toms to start “The Point of Me,” which exhibits a depressive hopefulness in its melodic verses, and in just over three minutes, puts forth a prog-metal chug of deceptive complexity that cuts to silence as a line of sweet guitar and soothing cello start the penultimate “Pink Rose,” the vocals begging “Please mama, take me home” with subtle background voices behind the sweet and sad forward melody; the most soothing moment on IV, if still somewhat emotionally desperate.

At 2:31 and marked by its lyrical repetition, “Pink Rose” is the shortest track on IV and it gives way to silence before the angular guitar line opens “Dreamers” punctuated by drums and cut through by the cello before the three come together to charge ahead into the first verse. It will get slower as it moves toward its finish, but the crescendo of “Dreamers” happens after a long-held vocal note and the line at 4:21 “we are dreamers,” that winds down at the end like a tape running out before the guitar lurches back in to lead the cello and drums through the the last double-kick march. This instrumental progression consumes the last two minutes of “Dreamers” and ends on a long fade but a not-at-all overdone sense of fanfare.

Certainly Grayceon could’ve put one last burst into IV, but by ending as they do — dug into a groove, all three players putting in clear physical effort but not overselling it — makes IV less about any single moment and more about the affecting listening experience of the album as a whole. “Dreamers” is no less successful in this than is the entirety of IV in conveying its emotional and aural range. Seven years after All We Destroy, which seemed to mourn an entire generation’s war, IV comes through as more personal, but whether they’re looking outward or inward, Grayceon‘s work remains both poised and deeply human. I’ll look forward hopefully to whatever they do next.

Grayceon, IV (2018)

Grayceon on Thee Facebooks

Grayceon on Bandcamp

Translation Loss Records webstore

Translation Loss Records on Thee Facebooks

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Darsombra Summer Tour Starts this Week

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 3rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

If you’re of the belief that sonic resonance can affect those who experience it on a spiritual level, or if you’re looking to be convinced of same, I can only recommend you open your mind as wide as it will open and then go see Darsombra, as the Baltimore duo stand among the best arguments I can think of in that regard. Further, there are few live acts I’ve had the pleasure of watching who so clearly revel in the process of what they’re creating on stage and presenting what they have created, and accordingly, it’s hard not to be swept up in that joy as it hits in swells and waves of drone and experimentalist guitar, keys, percussion, vocals, visuals, and so on. Simply put, it is something you should witness for yourself if you can.

And Darsombra, who tour almost incessantly and released their latest album last year in the form of the two-song Polyvision (review here) via Translation Loss Records, are not stingy when it comes to giving opportunities to do so. This week, they head out across the US and Canada on a month-plus run that will take them through the end of August, and no doubt the next tour is already in the works for when they get back. In the meantime, note the dates in the Pacific Northwest with Thrones (aka Joe Preston) and YOB‘s Mike Scheidt. Righteous company to keep.

Dates follow here, and really, if you can, go:

darsombra photo matt condon

Darsombra – Canada / U.S. summer tour 2017 • 7/5-8/31

Our tour for summer 2017 kicks off [this] week! Please check back closer to dates as changes may occur.

July 5 – Bethpage NY @ Mr. Berry’s w/ Ruckzuck, Claire Raby, Richard Arriaga
July 6 – Allston MA @ O’Brien’s w/ Planet of Adventure, The Modern Voice
July 7 – Manchester NH @ House Show w/ Green Bastard, Lunar Locust
July 8 – Portland ME @ Geno’s w/ All Night, Cadaverette, Apis Malfiore
July 10 – Halifax, NS @ Menz & Mollyz w/ Brett Waye, Hemineglect
July 11 – Moncton NB @ Plan B w/ Gemstonez, The Continuance, Våras
July 13 – Montreal QC @ Casa Del Popolo w/ Pachyderm, Eliza
July 14 – Ottawa ON @ The Record Centre w/ The Visit, Raphael Weinroth-Browne, Heather Sita Black
July 15 – Toronto ON @ The Cavern
July 16 – Sudbury ON @ The Asylum
July 17 – Sault Ste. Marie ON @ New American w/ Pointless, Bizotic
July 19 – Thunder Bay ON @ The Apollo w/ Road Waves
July 20 – Winnipeg MB @ Handsome Daughter w/ Mahogany Frog, Scab Smoker
July 21 – Regina SK @ Cloud 9 w/ The League of One, Robot Hive
July 22 – Saskatoon SK @ Amigo’s w/ Hoopsnake, Black Thunder, The Switching Yard
July 23 – Edmonton AB @ Bohemia w/ Faith Crisis
July 27 – Calgary AB @ Nite Owl w/ Bridal Party
July 29 – Vancouver BC @ 333 Clark (Half Satan)
July 30 – Nanaimo BC @ White Room w/ Crotch, El Hombre Al Aqua
July 31 – Victoria BC @ Vinyl Envy w/ Scars & Scarves
Aug 3 – Olympia WA @ McCoy’s w/ Thrones, Teach Me Equals
Aug 4 – Seattle WA @ Highline w/ Thrones, Teach Me Equals, Noise-A-Tron
Aug 5 – Portland OR @ The Know w/ Thrones, Stöller, Mike Scheidt
Aug 6 – Salem OR @ Fifty Pub & Grub w/ Thrones, Mike Scheidt
Aug 9 – Eugene OR @ Old NIck’s w/ Mike Scheidt
Aug 10 – Bend OR @ Third St. Pub
Aug 11 – Boise ID @ The Shredder w/ Desert Graves, Brett Netson
Aug 12 – Missoula MT
Aug 17 – Bozeman MT @ Filling Station
Aug 19 – Rapid City SD @ Black Hills Vinyl
Aug 22 – Sioux Falls SD @ Total Drag
Aug 23 – Minneapolis MN @ Kitty Cat Club w/ Comets ov Cupid, Magnetic Ghost, RYKYGNYZYR
Aug 24 – Duluth MN @ Red Herring
Aug 25 – Marquette MI @ Women’s Federated Clubhouse w/ Terminal Orchestra, The God Eaters
Aug 26 – Milwaukee WI @ Circle A w/ The Old Northwest
Aug 27 – Chicago IL @ Subterreanean Downstairs w/ Andy Slater, Cascader, Byzmuti
Aug 29 – Detroit MI @ Trumbullplex
Aug 30 – Cleveland OH @ The Magalen w/ Blind Spring, Dead Peasant Insurance
Aug 31 – Pittsburgh PA @ Black Forge w/ Bear Skull, The Van Allen Belt
Sept 22 (rain date Sept 23) – Baltimore MD @ Leakin Park w/ Marian McLaughlin

https://www.facebook.com/events/251836911930646/
http://facebook.com/darsombra
https://www.instagram.com/darsombra/
http://www.darsombra.com/
https://www.facebook.com/TranslationLossRecords/
https://translationlossrecords.bandcamp.com/
translationlossrecords.bigcartel.com/

Darsombra, Polyvisions (2016)

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Review & Track Premiere: Stinking Lizaveta, Journey to the Underworld

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on February 3rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Stinking-Lizaveta-Journey-To-The-Underworld

[Click play above to stream ‘Blood, Milk and Honey’ from Stinking Lizaveta’s new album, Journey to the Underworld. Release is Feb. 17 on Translation Loss.]

You’d have to look pretty far and pretty wide to find a band who’s been weirder, for longer, than Stinking Lizaveta. Much farther and wider than Philadelphia, anyhow, which is from whence the instrumentalist trio have been emanating their one-of-a-kind progressive blend of rock, jazz, punk, metal and doom for more than 20 years — their first album, …Hopelessness and Shame, released in 1996 preceded by a few earlier singles. The three-piece of founding guitarist Yanni Papadopoulos, founding upright electric bassist Alexi Papadopoulos and founding drummer Cheshire Agusta have established their own wavelength over the course of that time, which is to say one expects a certain kind of madcap adventure into blinding turns and near-freneticism when playing a Stinking Lizaveta, at least as part of the overall offering, but right up to their eighth album, Journey to the Underworld — their second for Translation Loss — they retain an evident glee in the experimental process.

That shows itself in the nine-song outing’s overarching progression as much as within individual tracks as it scorches through side A cuts like opener “Witches and Pigs” and the thrashy “Six Fangs” in order to begin to introduce more contemplative textures on “Blood, Milk and Honey” that will flesh out across the subsequent title-track, the spacious “Love Song for Jusu,” the acoustic-strummed “A Stranger’s Welcome” and the brief, classic prog outro “Allegro” on side B. Produced and mixed by Stephen Berrigan (Paul Webb co-produced) with a master by Bruce Leighton and suitably-odd cover art by David GunnJourney to the Underworld is the first Stinking Lizaveta album in five years since the Sanford Parker-produced 7th Direction arrived in 2012 (in Europe via Exile on Mainstream) following up 2009’s Sacrifice and Bliss (review here).

Accordingly, it’s little surprise the non-vocalized outfit seem to have so much to say within Journey to the Underworld‘s utterly-manageable 36-minute span. A principal element of their work has always been an utter refusal to take up the mantle of pretense to which their technical acumen entitles them. They could be real dicks about being so good, but they’re not. Instead, from “Witches and Pigs” onward into the guitar-led trad-metal-gone-noise of “Chorus and Shades” (think alternate-reality Slough Feg) and seeming to even out over the conversational course of “Sharp Stick in the Eye” — each measure seeming to argue with the one before it — Stinking Lizaveta keep their heads about them even as those of their listeners set to spinning. That aspect of their personality, a kind of sonic humility, has been consistent in their studio output over the years, and the clear-but-natural recording from Berrigan here presents it well, but that shouldn’t be taken to mean “Chorus of Shades” or “Sharp Stick in the Eye” — which thuds to a finish just in time to let Agusta‘s drums pick up with the start of “Six Fangs,” soon to depart into thrashier terrain — somehow lacks dynamic.

stinking lizaveta (photo by dante torrieri)

If anything, Journey to the Underworld becomes richer for the here-it-is-style presentation functioning as an implicit dare on the part of the challenging material itself rather than the band’s showiness, which again, they don’t have when they easily could. As the first half of the album transitions into the second, “Blood, Milk and Honey” follows “Six Fangs” as the centerpiece of the tracklisting and works in three stages. The first of them is a mid-paced chug, nodding, relatively straightforward. The second is a wistful acoustic-led turn that sets on a linear build eventually topped by a shredding solo and insistent chug, impeccably mixed. The third is a return to the opening progression following the righteous payoff to the prior build. All of this happens in under five minutes.

It is precisely this kind of efficient, unpostured feel that sets Stinking Lizaveta and the rest of the planet apart. Following “Blood, Milk and Honey” — which, indeed, seems to represent all three — Journey to the Underworld shifts into further sonic expansion as the 6:56 title-track cuts back on tempo in order to move more patiently through a course no less complex than anything that has preceded, trading between lurching rhythm and more atmospheric sprawl. The latter will also be a factor in “Love Song for Jusu,” which is shorter and, fitting its title, less grimly mooded on the whole, but still comes to a wash of noise in its midsection before a sweetness of guitar rounds out. Of particular note in terms of the recording is the tone of the acoustic guitar, or quiet electric, or whatever it is, that Yanni is using. Listening to “A Stranger’s Welcome,” one can hear the strings responding to his fingers, to the strike of his pick, and the song comes that much more to life for it.

As part of the closing duo with “Allegro” subsequent, Journey to the Underworld finds emotional resolution in “A Stranger’s Welcome” as well, and as they finish with a sudden crash and burst of noise, one can hear laughter coming through the room mics. This serves as an inherent reminder of the human core behind the voyage on which Stinking Lizaveta have embarked throughout, and if indeed it’s an Underworld to which they’re headed, it’s one that comforts rather than terrorizes — defying, as ever, the cliché in favor of more individualized expression. Their work has never been and probably never will be for everyone, but that doesn’t make it any less special, and as they end the longest drought between full-lengths of their career — Agusta was involved in a significant hit-and-run in 2012, it’s worth noting — they do so by only continuing to broaden their technical, emotional and aural reach. I almost never use the word “unique” to describe bands, but Stinking Lizaveta earn that and more on Journey to the Underworld, and remain an underrated treasure unto themselves.

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Tomorrow’s Dream: 200+ of 2017’s Most Anticipated Releases

Posted in Features on January 23rd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

tomorrow's dream 2017

Looks like it’s going to be another busy 12 months ahead. It’s been a busy better-part-of-a-month already, so that stands to reason, but you should know that of the several years now that I’ve done these ‘Tomorrow’s Dream’ posts, this is the biggest one yet, with over 150 upcoming releases that — one hopes — will be out between today and the end of 2017.

Actually, at last count, the list tops 180. Do I really expect you to listen to all of them? Nope. Will I? Well, it would be nice. But what I’ve done is gone through and highlighted 35 picks and then built lists off that in order of likelihood of arrival. You’ll note the categories are ‘Gonna Happen and/or Likely Candidates,’ ‘Definitely Could Happen’ and ‘Would be Awfully Nice.’

Beyond that last one, anything else just seems like speculation — one might as well go “new Sabbath this year!” with zero info backing it up. The idea here is that no matter where a given band is placed, there has been some talk of a new release. In some cases, it’s been years, but I think they’re still worth keeping in mind.

Another caveat: You can expect additions to this list over the next week — probably album titles, band names people (fingers crossed) suggest in the comments, and so on — so it will grow. It always does. The idea is to build as complete a document as possible, not to get it all nailed down immediately, so please, if you have something to contribute and you’re able to do so in a non-prickish, “You didn’t include Band X and therefore don’t deserve to breathe the same air as me,” kind of way, please contribute.

Other than that, I think it’s pretty straightforward what’s going on here and I’ll explain the category parameters as we go, so by all means, let’s jump in.

— Tomorrow’s Dream 2017 —

Presented Alphabetically

1. Abrahma, TBA

Late last year, Paris heavy progressives Abrahma announced a new lineup and third full-length in progress. No reason to think it won’t come to fruition, and a follow-up to 2015’s Reflections in the Bowels of a Bird (review here) is an easy pick to look forward to. Even with the shift in personnel, it seems likely the band will continue their creative development, driven as they are by founding guitarist Seb Bismuth.

2. All Them Witches, Sleeping Through the War

all them witches sleeping through the warIf 2017 ended today, Sleeping Through the War would be my Album of the Year. Of course, there’s a lot of year to go, but for now, Nashville’s All Them Witches have set the standard with their second album for New West Records behind 2015’s Dying Surfer Meets His Maker (review here) and fourth overall outing. They’ve got videos up so far for “3-5-7” (posted here) and “Bruce Lee” (posted here). Both are most definitely worth your time. Out Feb. 24. Full review should be later this week.

3. Alunah, Solennial

Seems like UK forest riffers Alunah are on this list every year. Wishful thinking on my part. Nonetheless, their fourth LP and Svart Records debut, Solennial, is out March 17, and if the tease they gave already with the clip for “Fire of Thornborough Henge” (posted here) is anything to go from, its Chris Fielding-produced expanses might just be Alunah‘s most immersive yet.

4. Arbouretum, TBA

I asked the Baltimore folk fuzzers a while back on Thee Facebooks if they had a new record coming in 2017 and they said yes, so that’s what I’m going on here. The last Arbouretum album was 2013’s Coming out of the Fog (review here), and even with frontman Dave Heumann‘s 2015 solo outing, Here in the Deep (review here), factored in, you’d have to say they’re due. Keep an eye on Thrill Jockey for word and I’ll do the same.

5. Atavismo, Inerte

This is another one that already has a spot reserved for it on my Best-of-2017 year-end list. Spanish heavy psych rockers Atavismo up the progressive bliss level with their second full-length, Inerte, without losing the depth of style that made 2014’s Desintegración (review here) so utterly glorious. It probably won’t have the biggest marketing budget of 2017, but if you let Atavismo fly under your radar, you are 100 percent missing out on something special.

6. Bison Machine, TBA

In addition to the video for new track “Cloak and Bones” that premiered here, when Michigan raucousness-purveyors Bison Machine put out the dates for their fall 2016 tour, they included further hints of new material in progress. As much as I dug their earlier-2016 split with SLO and Wild Savages (review here) and 2015’s Hoarfrost (review here), that’s more than enough for me to include them on this list. Killer next-gen heavy rock.

7. Brothers of the Sonic Cloth, TBA

News of a follow-up to Brothers of the Sonic Cloth‘s 2015 Neurot Recordings self-titled debut (review here) came through in October, and it remains some of the best news I’ve heard about 2017 doings. Took them a while to get the first record out, so we’ll see what happens, but it kind of feels like looking forward to a comet about to smash into the planet and cause a mass extinction, and by that I mean awesome. Can’t get here soon enough.

8. Cloud Catcher, Trails of Kosmic Dust

cloud catcher trails of kosmic dustOkay, so maybe I jumped the gun and did a super-early review of Denver trio Cloud Catcher‘s second long-player and Totem Cat Records debut, Trails of Kosmic Dust, but hell, no regrets. Some albums require an early-warning system. Their 2015 debut, Enlightened Beyond Existence (discussed here), was a gem as well, but this is a band in the process of upping their game on every level, and the songwriting and momentum they hone isn’t to be missed.

9. Colour Haze, TBA

I’ve gotten some details on the upcoming full-length from Colour Haze. They do not include a title, artwork, audio, song titles or general direction. Less details, I guess, than word that the CD version of this answer to 2015’s To the Highest Gods We Know (review here) is set to come out next month, as ever, on Elektrohasch. That puts it out in time for Colour Haze‘s upcoming tour with My Sleeping Karma (announced here). Fingers crossed it happens. Colour Haze are perpetual top-albums candidates in my book.

10. Corrosion of Conformity, TBA

Signed to Nuclear Blast after being rejoined by guitarist/vocalist Pepper Keenan, North Carolina’s C.O.C. have been in the studio since last year. The lineup of Keenan, bassist/vocalist Mike Dean and guitarist Woody Weatherman and Reed Mullin on drums is the stuff of legend and last worked together on 2000’s America’s Volume Dealer, so no question this reunion makes for one of 2017’s most anticipated heavy rock records. They nailed the nostalgia factor on tour. Can they now add to their legacy?

11. Elder, TBA

I was incredibly fortunate about a month ago to visit progressive heavy rockers Elder at Sonelab in Easthampton, MA, during the recording process for their upcoming fourth album. I heard a couple of the tracks, and of course it was all raw form, but the movement forward from 2015’s Lore (review here) was palpable. That LP (on Stickman) brought them to a wider audience, and I expect no less from this one as well, since the farther out Elder go sound-wise, the deeper the level of connection with their listeners they seem to engage.

12. Electric Wizard, TBA

Could happen, could not happen. That’s how it goes. Announced for last Halloween. That date came and went. Word of trouble building their own studio surfaced somewhere along the line. That was the last I heard. Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if it showed up tomorrow, if it showed up in 2018, or if the band broke up and never put it out. They’re Electric Wizard. Anything’s possible.

13. John Garcia, The Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues

Out Jan. 28 on NapalmThe Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues (review here) is the first-ever acoustic album from former Kyuss frontman John Garcia, also of Unida, the reunited Slo BurnHermanoVista ChinoZun, etc. — basically the voice of desert rock. He does a couple Kyuss classics for good measure, but shines as well on the new/original tracks, and while it’s a piece for fans more than newcomers — that is, it helps if you know the original version of “Green Machine” — his presence remains as powerful as ever despite this new context.

14. Goya, Harvester of Bongloads

Riffs, dude. Goya seem to have them to spare. The Arizona-based wizard doomers have set a pretty prolific clip for themselves at this point, with at least two short releases out in 2016, one a 7″ of Nirvana covers (review here), and the The Enemy EP (review here). Set for a March 3 release through their own Opoponax Records imprint, Harvester of Bongloads continues the march into the abyss that 2015’s Obelisk (review here) and 2013’s 777 set in motion, finding the band coming more into their own as well. Creative growth — and bongloads! The best of both worlds.

15. Ides of Gemini, TBA

Ides of Gemini are set to record their yet-untitled third album with Sanford Parker early this year, and it will also mark their debut on Rise Above Records upon its release. They’ve also got a new lineup around vocalist Sera Timms and guitarist J. Bennett, so as they look to move forward from 2014’s Old World New Wave (review here), one can’t help but wonder what to expect, but to be honest, not knowing is part of the appeal, especially from a band who so readily specialize in the ethereal.

16. Kind, TBA

Three-fourths of Kind feature elsewhere on this list. Bassist Tom Corino plays in Rozamov. Drummer Matt Couto is in Elder. Vocalist Craig Riggs is in Roadsaw. And for what it’s worth, guitarist Darryl Shepherd has a new band coming together called Test Meat. How likely does that make Kind to release a second LP in 2017? I don’t know, but their 2015 Ripple Music debut, Rocket Science (review here), deserves a follow-up, and I know they’ve demoed some new songs. If it happens, great. If it’s 2018, at least these dudes will be plenty busy besides.

17. Lo-Pan, In Tensions

lo-pan in tensionsYes, Lo-Pan‘s In Tensions (review here) has already been released — CD/LP with an artbook on Aqualamb. It’s out. Limited numbers. You can get it now. Why include it on a list of most anticipated releases? Because that’s how strongly I feel about your need to hear it. The fruit of a shortlived lineup with guitarist Adrian Zambrano, it distinguishes itself from everything they’ve done before in style while still keeping to the core righteousness that one hopes the Ohio outfit will continue to carry forward. It’s more than a stopgap between albums. Listen to it.

18. The Midnight Ghost Train, TBA

It seems to have been a rough ride for hard-boogie specialists The Midnight Ghost Train since their 2015 Napalm debut and third album overall, Cold was the Ground (review here). They’ve never taken it easy on the road or in terms of physicality on stage, and between injuries and who knows what else, their intensity at this point veers toward the directly confrontational. Nonetheless, they’ve been writing for album number four, may or may not have started the recording process, and I expect that confrontationalism to suit them well in their new material.

19. Monster Magnet, TBA

I have it on decent authority that NJ heavy psych innovators Monster Magnet were in the studio this past autumn. I’ve seen no concrete word of a new album in progress from Dave Wyndorf and company, and I wouldn’t necessarily expect to until it was time to start hyping the release, but after their two redux releases, 2015’s Cobras and Fire (review here) and 2014’s Milking the Stars (review here), their range feels broader than ever and I can’t wait to hear what they come up with next.

20. Mothership, High Strangeness

A pivotal moment for Mothership arrives with High Strangeness, and the heavy-touring, heavy-riffing Texas power trio seem to know it. Their third record on Ripple Music pushes into new avenues of expression and keeps the energy of 2014’s Mothership II (review here) and 2012’s Mothership (review here), but thus far into their career, it’s been about their potential and what they might accomplish going forward. 2017 might be the year for Mothership to declare a definitive place in the sphere of American heavy rock.

21. The Obsessed, Sacred

On Halloween 2016, founding The Obsessed guitarist/vocalist and doom icon Scott “Wino” Weinrich announced a new lineup for the band, with his former The Hidden Hand bandmate Bruce Falkinburg on bass/vocals, Sara Seraphim on guitar and Brian Costantino continuing on drums. A genuine surprise. Their first album since 1994, Sacred (due on Relapse) was tracked as the trio of WeinrichCostantino and bassist/vocalist Dave Sherman, but clearly they’ve moved into a new era already. Wouldn’t even guess what the future holds, but hopefully Sacred still comes out.

22. Orange Goblin, TBA

When it was announced that London’s Orange Goblin were picked up by Spinefarm as part of that label’s acquisition of Candlelight Records last Spring, the subheadline from the PR wire was “Working on Ninth Studio Album.” I haven’t heard much since then, but even as 2014’s Back from the Abyss (review here) pushed them deeper into metallic territory than ever before, their songs retained the character that’s made the band the institution they are. Always look forward to new Orange Goblin.

23. Pallbearer, Heartless

pallbearer heartlessDoomers, this is your whole year right here. I haven’t heard Pallbearer‘s third album, Heartless (out March 24 on Profound Lore), but I have to think even those who haven’t yet been won over by the Arkansas four-piece’s emotive, deep-running style have to be curious about what they’ve come up with this time around. I know I am. These guys have been making a mark on the genre since their 2012 debut, Sorrow and Extinction (review here), and there’s little doubt Heartless will continue that thread upon its arrival.

24. Radio Moscow, TBA

Fact: Radio Moscow stand among the best classic heavy rock live acts in the US. They’re the kind of band you can watch upwards of 15 gigs in a row — I’ve done it — and find them putting on a better show night after night, in defiance of science, logic and sobriety. Word of their signing to Century Media came just this past week and brought with it confirmation of a follow-up to 2014’s stellar Magical Dirt (review here), and for me to say hell yes, I’m absolutely on board, seems like the no-brainer to end all no-brainers. Can’t wait.

25. Roadsaw, TBA

Nearly six full years later, it’s only fair to call Boston scene godfathers Roadsaw due for a follow-up to their 2011 self-titled (review here). Granted, members have been busy in KindWhite Dynomite, and other projects, but still. Their upcoming outing finds them on Ripple Music after years under the banner of Small Stone Records, and though I haven’t seen a solid release date yet, my understanding is they hit Mad Oak Studio in Allston, MA, this past fall to track it, so seems likely for sooner or later. Sooner, preferably.

26. Rozamov, This Mortal Road

Speaking of albums by Boston bands a while in the making, This Mortal Road (out March 3 on Battleground Records and Dullest Records) is the debut full-length from Boston atmospheric extremists Rozamov. Haven’t heard it yet, but I got a taste of some of the material when I visited the band at New Alliance Audio in Aug. 2015, and the bleak expanses of what I heard seem primed to turn heads. I’m a fan of these guys, but in addition, they’ve found a niche for themselves sound-wise and I’m curious to hear how they bring it to fruition.

27. Samsara Blues Experiment, TBA

It’s been a pleasure over the last couple months to watch a resurgence of Berlin heavy psych trio Samsara Blues Experiment take shape, first with the announcement of a fourth album in October, then with subsequent confirmations for DesertfestRiff Ritual in Barcelona, and a South American tour. Reportedly due in Spring, which fits with the timing on shows, etc., the record will follow 2013’s righteous Waiting for the Flood (review here) and as much as I’m looking forward to hearing it, I’m kind of just glad to have these guys back.

28. Seedy Jeezus, TBA

Work finished earlier this month on Melbourne trio Seedy Jeezus‘ second full-length. As with their 2015 self-titled debut, the band brought Tony Reed of Mos Generator to Australia to produce, and after their blissed-out 2016 collaboration with Earthless guitarist Isaiah MitchellTranquonauts (review here), it’s hard not to wonder what experimentalist tendencies might show in the trio’s style this time out, and likewise difficult not to anticipate what guitarist Lex “Mr. Frumpy” Wattereus comes up with for the cover art.

29. Shroud Eater, Strike the Sun

Not to spoil the surprise, but Feb. 1 I’ll host a track premiere from Florida’s Shroud Eater that finds them working in a different context from everything we’ve heard from them to this point in their rightly-celebrated tenure. They also recently had a split out with Dead Hand, and their second long-player, Strike the Sun, will be their debut through STB Records. It’s been since 2011’s ThunderNoise (review here) that we last got a Shroud Eater album, so you bet your ass I’m dying to know what the last six years have wrought.

30. Sleep, TBA

If Sleep were any other band, they’d probably be in the “Would be Awfully Nice” category. But they’re Sleep, so even the thought of a new record is enough to put them here. The lords of all things coated in THC are reissuing their 2014 single, The Clarity (review here), on Southern Lord next month, but rumors have been swirling about a proper album, which of course would be their first since the now-legendary Dopesmoker. If it happens, it’ll automatically be a heavy underground landmark for 2017, but it’s one I’m going to have in my ears before I really believe it.

31. Stoned Jesus, TBA

Even as they tour playing their second album, 2012’s Seven Thunders Roar (review here), to mark its fifth anniversary and continued impact, Ukrainian trio Stoned Jesus are forging ahead with a fourth record behind 2015’s The Harvest (review here). The capital-‘q’ Question is whether or not looking back at Seven Thunders Roar and engaging that big-riffing side of their sound will have an impact on the new material, and if so, how it will meld with the push of The Harvest. Won’t speculate, but look forward to finding out.

32. Stubb, TBA

Since reveling in the soul of 2015’s Cry of the Ocean (review here) on Ripple, London trio Stubb have swapped out bassists, and they were in Skyhammer Studio this month recording a single that may be an extended psychedelic jam. I’ll take that happily, but I’m even more intrigued at the prospect of a third LP and what guitarist/vocalist Jack Dickinson, bassist/vocalist Tom Hobson and drummer Tom Fyfe might have in store as the band moves forward on multiple levels. Might be 2017, might not.

33. Sun Blood Stories, It Runs Around the Room with Us

sun blood stories it runs around the room with usIt Runs around the Room with Us seems to find peace in its resonant experimentalist drones, loops, open, subdued spaces, but there’s always some underlying sense of foreboding to its drift, as if Boise’s Sun Blood Stories could anticipate the moment before it happened. Toward the end of the follow-up to 2015’s Twilight Midnight Morning (review here), they execute the 90-second assault “Burn” and turn serenity to ash. Look for it in April and look for it again on my best of 2017 list in December.

34. Ufomammut, TBA

Any new offering from the Italian cosmic doom magnates is worth looking forward to, and while Ufomammut have left the 15-year mark behind, they’ve never stopped progressing in style and form. To wit, 2015’s Ecate (review here) was a stunner after 2012’s two-part LP, Oro (review here and review here), tightening the approach but assuring the vibe was no less expansive than ever. They started recording last summer, finished mixing in November, so I’m hoping for word of a release date soon.

35. Vokonis, The Sunken Djinn

Born out of Creedsmen Arise, whose 2015 demo, Temple (review here), offered formative thrills, Swedish trio Vokonis debuted with last year’s Olde One Ascending (review here) and proved there’s still life in post-Sleep riffing when it’s wielded properly. They signed to Ripple in November and confirmed the title of their sophomore effort as The Sunken Djinn, as well as a reissue for the first album, which will probably arrive first. I don’t know how that will affect the timing on this one, but keep an eye out anyway.

Gonna Happen and/or Likely Candidates

Obviously some of these are more likely than others. Some have solidified, announced release dates — Dopelord‘s out this month, Demon Head‘s out in April, etc. — and others come from social media posts of bands in studios and hints at upcoming releases and so on. A big tell is whether or not a band has an album title with their listing, but even some of those without have their new albums done, like Atala and Royal Thunder, so it’s not necessarily absolute.

Either way, while I’m spending your money, you might want to look into:

36. Against the Grain
37. Amenra
38. Atala
39. Attalla, Glacial Rule
40. Ayahuasca Dark Trip, II
41. Beastmaker
42. Beaten Back to Pure
43. Blackout
44. Bretus
45. Buried Feather, Mind of the Swarm
46. The Clamps
47. Cold Stares
48. Coltsblood, Ascending into the Shimmering Darkness
49. Come to Grief, The Worst of Times EP
50. Cortez
51. Cruthu, The Angle of Eternity
52. The Dead-End Alley Band, Storms
53. Dead Witches, Dead Witches
54. Dealer
55. Death Alley, Live at Roadburn
56. Demon Head, Thunder on the Fields
57. The Devil and the Almighty Blues, II
58. Devil Electric
59. Doctor Cyclops, Local Dogs
60. Dool, Here Now There Then
61. Dopelord, Children of the Haze
62. Doublestone, Devil’s Own/Djævlens Egn
63. Dread Sovereign, For Doom the Bell Tolls
64. Drive by Wire
65. Elbrus, Elbrus
66. Electric Age
67. Electric Moon, Stardust Rituals
68. Endless Floods, II
69. Five Horse Johnson
70. Forming the Void, Relic
71. Funeral Horse
72. Greenbeard
73. Green Desert Water
74. Greenleaf
75. Grifter / Suns of Thunder, Split
76. Hair of the Dog, This World Turns
77. Heavy Temple, Chassit
78. Here Lies Man, Here Lies Man
79. Hollow Leg, Murder EP
80. Holy Mount, The Drought
81. Hooded Menace
82. Horisont, About Time
83. Hymn, Perish
84. Lecherous Gaze
85. Magnet, Feel Your Fire
86. Mastodon
87. Merlin, The Wizard
88. Merchant
89. Mindkult, Lucifer’s Dream
90. Mirror Queen
91. Moonbow, War Bear
92. Mos Generator
93. The Moth
94. MotherSloth
95. Mouth, Vortex
96. My Sleeping Karma, Mela Ananda – Live
97. Orango
98. Papir
99. PH, Eternal Hayden
100. Psychedelic Witchcraft, Magick Rites and Spells
101. Royal Thunder
102. Saturn, Beyond Spectra
103. Season of Arrows, Give it to the Mountain
104. Siena Root
105. Six Organs of Admittance, Burning the Threshold
106. Six Sigma, Tuxedo Brown
107. Sólstafir
108. The Sonic Dawn, Into the Long Night
109. Spelljammer
110. Spidergawd, IV
111. Steak
112. Stinking Lizaveta, Journey to the Underworld
113. Sula Bassana, Organ Accumulator
114. Summoner
115. Sun Voyager, Sun Voyager
116. Sweat Lodge, Tokens for Hell EP
117. Thera Roya, Stone and Skin
118. Toke
119. Troubled Horse, Revelation on Repeat
120. VA, Brown Acid The Third Trip
121. Weedpecker
122. Youngblood Supercult, The Great American Death Rattle

Definitely Could Happen

Maybe a recording process is upcoming (Gozu, Cities of Mars, YOB), or a band is looking for a label (The Flying Eyes), or they’ve said new stuff is in the works but the circumstances of an actual release aren’t known (Arc of Ascent, Dead Meadow, High on Fire), or I’ve just seen rumors of their hitting the studio (Freedom Hawk, La Chinga, Ruby the Hatchet). We’ve entered the realm of the entirely possible but not 100 percent.

So, you know, life.

Dig it:

123. The Age of Truth
124. Ape Machine
125. Arc of Ascent
126. At Devil Dirt
127. Bantoriak
128. Bask
129. BCAD
130. BoneHawk
131. La Chinga
132. Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters
133. Cities of Mars
134. Crypt Sermon
135. Dead Meadow
136. Death Alley (Studio LP)
137. Dee Calhoun
138. Destroyer of Light
139. Devil
140. Devil Worshipper
141. Duel
142. Dustrider
143. Egypt
144. Electric Moon
145. Elephant Tree
146. Farflung
147. The Flying Eyes
148. Freedom Hawk
149. Gozu
150. The Great Electric Quest
151. Green Meteor, Consumed by a Dying Sun
152. High on Fire
153. Horrendous
154. Insect Ark
155. In the Company of Serpents
156. Iron Monkey
157. Jeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus
158. The Judge
159. Killer Boogie
160. King Dead
161. The Kings of Frog Island
162. Lords of Beacon House, Recreational Sorcery
163. Mangoo
164. Mondo Drag
165. Monolord
166. Mountain God
167. The Munsens
168. Naxatras
169. Never Got Caught
170. Ommadon
171. Orchid
172. Ordos
173. Pilgrim
174. Poseidon
175. Purple Hill Witch
176. Ruby the Hatchet
177. Sasquatch
178. Satan’s Satyrs
179. Serpents of Secrecy
180. Shabda
181. Shooting Guns
182. Sleepy Sun
183. Slow Season
184. Snowy Dunes, Atlantis
185. Spectral Haze
186. The Sweet Heat
187. Switchblade Jesus
188. Superchief
189. Tÿburn
190. YOB
191. Zone Six

Would be Awfully Nice

This last category is basically as close as I’m willing to come to rampant speculation. Endless Boogie have hinted at new material, and Queens of the Stone Age have talked about hitting the studio for the last two years. There were rumors about Om, and though Kings Destroy just put out an EP, they have new songs as well, though I doubt we’ll hear them before the end of 2017. I’ll admit that Across Tundras, Fever Dog, Lord Fowl, Lowrider and Hour of 13 are just wishful thinking on my part. A boy can hope:

192. Across Tundras
193. Eggnogg
194. Elephant Tree
195. Endless Boogie
196. Fever Dog
197. Fu Manchu
198. Halfway to Gone
199. Hour of 13
200. Kadavar
201. Kings Destroy
202. Lord Fowl
203. Lowrider
204. Masters of Reality
205. Om
206. Orodruin
207. Queens of the Stone Age

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading. Whatever this year brings, I hope it’s been great so far for you and I hope it continues to be so as we proceed inexorably to 2018 and all the also-futuristic-sounding numbers thereafter. At least we know we’ll have plenty of good music to keep us company on that voyage.

As always, comments section is open if there’s anything I’ve left out. I’m happy to add, adjust, etc., as need be, so really, have at it, and thanks in advance.

All the best.

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Darsombra, Polyvision: Dronenlightenment (Plus Full Album Stream)

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on August 25th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

darsombra polyvision

[Click play above to stream Darsombra’s Polyvision in full. Album is out Sept. 9 on Translation Loss.]

Last year, Baltimorean experimentalist duo Darsombra went on tour. Pretty much for the whole year. They played well over 100 shows on what they dubbed the “Three Legged Monster” tour — it took place over the course of three separate legs — and they played plenty of other shows besides. That nomadic existence seems to feed into the sense of revelry and freedom that one finds in listening to Polyvision, the two-piece’s latest studio full-length for Translation Loss Records and first since 2012’s Climax Community. Or at least that’s easy enough to read into the outing’s two extended, multi-movement component tracks, “Underworld” (21:45) and “From Insects… to Aliens (The Worms Turn)” (22:31).

Guitarist/keyboardist Brian Daniloski and keyboardist/vocalist/visual effects creator Ann Everton bring a clear sense of composition to both pieces, but there’s an undercurrent of improvisation atop which the building layers of samples, loops, synth and effects create their swirl, and where so much of drone/noise is hell-bent on post-apocalyptic desolation, the creation of all-gray spaces, Darsombra offer a full spectrum of sonic color across Polyvision. Moreover, there are moments where they sound truly and genuinely playful in what they do, Daniloski‘s guitar or the keys winding around celebratory figures in one track or the other, bringing about a spontaneous feeling moment of arrival — “We’re here now and isn’t it great here?” — that also would seem to fit with the presented-as-being-completely-on-a-whim turn to nomadic living that the band made in 2015. Have drone, will travel, will be glad to end up wherever.

That’s a simplification of the mindset, obviously, but the underlying point is that Polyvision feels unafraid to embrace joy as it moves through its complex and ritualized-feeling soundscapes. Not that it doesn’t also have its foreboding stretches, as any even vaguely drone release with a low tone will — soundtracks have conditioned us to hear things a certain way, even subconsciously — but though its two titles are somewhat dark in their themes, with the creepy vibe and strangeness of the construction of “From Insects… to Aliens (The Worms Turn)” and an “Underworld” traditionally being a place not known for its pleasant afternoons, it’s not long into Polyvision before Daniloski and Everton are exploring colorful, rich textures.

darsombra

It’s still fair to call Darsombra instrumental, but vocals do play a large role in setting the vibe, and that happens relatively quickly in the first movement of “Underworld”; voices almost choral loop in with undulating volume swells, fading in and out again, moving toward an end just before the five-minute mark where all goes quiet before the next wave starts with what seems to be both their voices leading to the establishing of a slow, patient rhythmic guitar figure around which the keys and a brightly progressive and extended guitar lead unfold. It’s here, making its way toward and past the midpoint of “Underworld” that Polyvision first and perhaps most effectively conveys the joy at root in its creation. It finds itself in a bouncing, almost child-like section of fuzzed-out keys and guitar — still with that original rhythm beneath; it doesn’t leave just yet — that receives due exploration before giving way to rolling waves, which is how “Underworld” ends. At the ocean. I’d assume that’s a field recording from the band, rather than a keyboard sample, but never fully knows. In either case, it’s hypnotic and signifies the kind of perpetualness Darsombra are looking to convey in their material as well as a peaceful moment to collect oneself before moving onto the second, longer track.

“From Insects… to Aliens (The Worms Turn)” finds itself building layers of proggy guitar, more active, more intense, with washes of cymbal added for effect in the first couple minutes. A swirling solo takes hold and winds its way into another seemingly simplistic progression around eight minutes in, but it gives way to lower rumbling undertones, if only momentarily before the guitar surges forward again. Though only part of Darsombra‘s broad approach, Daniloski‘s lead work isn’t to be undervalued. Aside from being technically proficient, it brings a rare spontaneity to what might commonly be thought of as a drone or noise record, neither of which is a style known for working off the cuff, adding to the atmosphere of positivity and basking in the spirit of an apparently ceaseless creative drive. Just past 15 minutes, Everton begins a vocal loop that is ultimately the introduction to the final movement of “From Insects… to Aliens (The Worms Turn)” and after a final crash of guitar, she’s backed by noise that indeed sounds like and may or may not be bugs, like crickets at night something from the forest.

That Darsombra would choose to end both of Polyvision‘s cuts with nature sounds — granted in the closer the human voice is still more prominent in its long fadeout — and one can’t help but wonder in light of the album’s title if the band isn’t trying to see multiple sides, and trying to show their audience multiple sides, of how humans interact with the world around them. Of course that’s speculation on my part, but if you take anything from it, take it as a sign of the depth of the evocation that the duo enact over the course of the album’s 44 minutes. If what they gleaned from those 100-plus days on the road together are the lessons they seem to be teaching here, then their time was well spent.

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House of Lightning to Release Lightworker on Translation Loss

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 5th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

house of lightning

Hey, so yeah. You might recall earlier this year when House of Lightning released Lightworker on LP/tape through Fair Warning Records. No? It was Easter, which was fitting somehow for the Floridian duo’s bright color scheme. Well, either way, it happened. This new version of Lightworker that’s set to release Oct. 14 on Translation Loss is CD-only, though, so it’s not so much a reissue of the album as it is completing the physical pressing triumvirate for those who, like me, still enjoy a disc that can also leave the house when called upon to do so.

The Lightworker CD is available now for preorder through Translation Loss (link below), and the PR wire checked in with the following info on the release:

house of lightning lightworker

Translation Loss Signs HOUSE OF LIGHTNING – New Record Lightworker Due Out October 14th

Artwork and Track Listing Revealed

Translation Loss are extremely proud to announce the signing of the mammoth and ground breaking band HOUSE OF LIGHTNING and the release of their debut record Lightworker! Everyone at Translation Loss are beyond ecstatic to be able to work with Henry Wilson and his new band HOUSE OF LIGHTNING, being huge fans of both Floor and Dove. HOUSE OF LIGHTNING takes what Dove created to an entirely new level of mathy-proggy rock sensation. Today both the artwork and track listing for Lightworker have been revealed.

The album Lightworker will be released October 14th. It is currently available for pre-order HERE.

Proudly hailing from Winter Haven, Florida, they feature current and former members of FLOOR, DOVE and CAVITY!

After the death of DOVE and before FLOOR’s current resurrection, a new band was secretly growing, HOUSE OF LIGHTNING’s long awaited debut album does more than just pick up where DOVE left off five years ago, they blast off out of the known universe and into a completely new and unknown dimension!

The resurrection occurs on October 14th, 2014 in the form of a 10 song, 40-minute riff-rollercoaster entitled Lightworker.

From the mad genius mind of Henry Wilson (FLOOR) comes and almost uncategorizable yet positively spiritual incorporation of Heavy Metal, Thrash, bite of Math, a sprinkle of Prog, a pinch of 1984 and a dash of 5150. Sounds wild, you say? That’s because IT IS! Lightworker is difficult to simply just pin a label onto; you are better off hearing this one for yourself. All aboard the rocket ship!

The album was produced at Atomic Audio, Tampa, Florida by Mark Nikolich & Henry Wilson

Lightworker Track Listing:
1. Quickness
2. Downbeat Situation
3. More Lights More Trails
4. Smoke and Mirror
5. New Jam
6. Vote Yes (To Say You Don’t Want it)
7. Need No Help
8. Wheels I-II-III
9. CHKN
10. Ocean

For More Info Visit:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/House-of-Lightning/196769132312
http://instagram.com/houseoflightning
http://www.translationloss.com
https://www.facebook.com/TranslationLossRecords

House of Lightning, “More Lights More Trails”

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