Posted in Whathaveyou on May 22nd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
I really, really don’t have a spare grand-plus lying around at this point, but golly that’s a cool lineup posted for Stoned from the Underground this year in Erfurt, Germany. It seems Lowrider‘s reunion — they were a highlight of the London Desertfest in a one-two punch of Swedish awesomeness completed by a set from Dozer immediately following — continues, which is unmistakably good news, and along with the likes of Earthless, Acid King, Troubled Horse, The Gates ofSlumber, Pelicanand the many others listed below, it seems like it’s going to be a killer weekend July 11-13. The kind of weekend I’d like very much to see, let’s say with a camera and laptop in tow. One of these years, maybe.
Indulge a bit of escapism with me, won’t you?
Welcome to the Mother of all German Stoner Rock Meetings
July 11th , 12th & 13th – Alperstedter Lake near ERFURT
Festival founded in 2001 and located in the very geographical center of Germany, in the area of Erfurt (Thuringen): Stoned From The Underground grew from a one day indoor event with 400 visitors in 2001 to a 3 days outdoor event with 3000 visitors last year !
Located a few kilometers away from the city, in a nest of nature bordered by the Alperstedter Lake, the festival is the perfect location for a very first relaxing summer weekend !
Whether you want to sit in the grass, puffing up clouds of smoke, sipping a beer while checking out the best Rock & Stoner acts of the moment,
Or whether you want to chill out laying on your belly on the sand of the beach with your toes cooling down in Lake’s water…..
STONED FROM THE UNDERGROUND is the place where all your dreams will come true.
LINE- UP 2013: EARTHLESS ( Usa) MUSTASCH (Swe) POTHEAD (Ger)
TRUCKFIGHTERS (Swe) THE GATES OF SLUMBER (Usa) BEEN OBSCENE (At) LOWRIDER (Swe) HORISONT(Swe) TROUBLED HORSE (Swe) ISOPTERA (Ger) LORD VICAR (Fin) MIRROR QUEEN (Usa) ACID KING (Usa) PELICAN (Usa) THE OPERATORS (Ger) THE ATOMIC BITCHWAX (Usa) FIVE HORSE JOHNSON (Usa) SARDONIS (Bel) HYNE (Ger) DEVILLE (Swe) BLACK BOMBAIM (Por) HERKULES PROPAGANDA (Ger) TRECKER (Ger)
Not that it’s not something I do on the regular anyway, but there’s something even more satisfying about going record shopping when The Patient Mrs. isn’t around. I guess it’s the illusion that I’m getting away with something, though basically, it’s that: an illusion. But a couple weekends ago, as I was headed down to Philly to catch Been Obscene share a Kung Fu Necktie bill with Borracho, SuperVoid and Clamfight (review here), she was gone for a few days and I took it upon myself to make a stop off at Vintage Vinyl in Fords to pick up a few odds and ends.
If ever there was a justification for the Garden State Parkway — which is among the most overpopulated, miserable, thin-laned highways I’ve ever driven on (and I’ve driven on California’s 101, the Masspike into Boston and I-95 all up and down the Eastern Seaboard) — it’s Vintage Vinyl. Exit 130 if you’re going southbound, as I was, it’s a destination-type shop; one worth traveling to even if you’re not necessarily driving somewhere else. Jersey has a scant few remaining, but Vintage Vinyl is the one most geared toward the heavier end of the spectrum. The metal CD section is the first thing you see after getting in the door. Awesome.
Most of what I grabbed this time through was stuff I’d reviewed by wanted a physical copy of. I’ve ranted enough about how much it annoys me to make these purchases — I suppose if someone had to be the last one to place any value whatsoever on my time, it was bound to be me — so I’ll spare that, but I was still glad to nab recent outings from Samothrace, Troubled Horse, Darkthrone, Orange Goblin and SardoniS. I’d wanted to get Royal Thunder‘s CVIand finally give it the listen I’ve felt it really deserved since I saw the band in Manhattan in February — even though their guitarist spit beer on the crowd — but decided to roll with the preceding 2010 self-titled instead.
That’s an old impulse. I remember being upwards of 10 years old, hearing a band’s song on the radio, and then buying the album before to hear where they came from. I don’t know if I’m the only one who does it, but it’s something I’ve always done. It’s a two-sided deal, because I do get to listen to the origins of a band, or at least the relative origins, but don’t get the material I want to hear. Why, when I was obviously buying a stack of discs, was I limiting myself to just one Royal Thunder CD when I could’ve easily solved the problem by getting both? I don’t know. Old habits die hard.
Fortunately, the self-titled is pretty awesome in its own right, though I think the pick of the haul might have to be Beast in the Field‘s 2009 sophomore outing, Lechuguilla. The Michigan instrumentalists hadn’t quite yet adopted the Satan-loving aesthetic of their two subsequent albums to date, 2010′s World Endingand 2011′s Lucifer, Bearer of Light, but the work itself is no less malevolent. Broken into six tracks, the 37-minute long-player is essentially one extended piece, building a huge tension throughout the first several tracks before finally landing at full impact with “Lake OF Blue Giants” and carrying a vicious lumber through the remaining two extended cuts, “Castrovalva” and “The Emperor’s Throne Room.” I got turned on to these guys last summer when I was out their way en route to Days of the Doomed II, and I have yet to regret getting ahold of one of their albums. I’ve got them all now, so they’re four for four in my book, and hopefully Lucifer, Bearer of Lighthas a follow-up soon.
I’d heard Mirror of Deception‘s previous outing, 2006′s Shards, and so was glad to pick up 2010′s The Smouldering Fireon the cheap with the bonus disc, and something I’ve been meaning to get as long as I’ve been meaning to get to Vintage Vinyl was My Sleeping Karma‘s last album, Soma. The purchase was bittersweet (it’s the first of their albums I’ve not been given a physical promo to review), but I was comforted by the opportunity to hear the two bonus tracks in the digipak version. First is “Interlude by Sheyk rAleph,” performed by the long-tenured German sitarist/psychedelic soundscaper Ralph Nebl, who uses Sheyk rAleph as a stage name, and second is “Glow 11,” a remix credited to Holzner & Kaleun that brings electronic beats into the melting pot of My Sleeping Karma‘s heavy psych meditations. What’s really interesting about it is neither would’ve been out of place had they been included as part of the album proper, which I guess shows just how expansive the band’s palette has become.
Of course, the subsequent gig at Kung Fu Necktie was the highlight of the night, but a bit of record shopping beforehand certainly took the bite out of the trip, there and back afterwards. And The Patient Mrs. was kind enough to not even mention it later, letting me keep my delusions of sneakiness, so really it was an all-around win however you might want to look at it.
Posted in Reviews on December 21st, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
After making a splash at Roadburn 2010 on the strength of their “Bring My Horses Home” single and after about a decade of writing material and playing shows, Sweden-based ’70S aficionados Troubled Horse have made their full-length debut in the form of Step In, on Rise Above/Metal Blade. The album has already met with a sizable and welcome reception, and Witchcraft comparisons have abounded for songs like “All Your Fears” and “Sleep in Your Head.”
This is probably to be expected. While fronted by Martin Heppich, whose presence is strong throughout Step In‘s 10 component tracks/36 minutes — even on the record, he’s very much a frontman — the rest of Troubled Horse traces a lineage directly back to the aforementioned forebears of Örebro retro rocking. Bassist Ola Henriksson is still a member and can be heard on Witchcraft‘s 2012 outing, Legend(review here), while guitarist/backing vocalist John Hoyles and drummer Jens Henriksson (Ola‘s brother) both used to be in the band, Jens having left after playing with them in their early days and producing the first two records while Hoyles stayed aboard for The Alchemist before leaving to focus on Troubled Horse and his other band, Spiders.
On Step In, which sounds no less inviting than its title might imply, the four-piece sound as experienced as they are, and though cuts like the aforementioned “Bring My Horses Home” and “All Your Fears” are highlights, it’s songs like the brash “Shirleen” that actually do the brunt of distinguishing Troubled Horse from either Witchcraft or anyone else in Sweden’s densely populated retro set. Heppich contributes guitar as well alongside Hoyles, and while it’s the riffs setting a course throughout, the all-Henriksson rhythm section is culls rich, classic grooves on the Blue Cheer-esque “As You Sow,” laying a strong foundation for Heppich‘s vocals, which are a standout element thanks in part to movement into and out of a Bobby Liebling-style delivery that plays up familiarity while introducing new context.
It’s also worth mentioning that while there is a current of heavy ’70s lovin’ running throughout Step In– in places it feels like Witchcraft decided to stop sounding like Witchcraft, so Troubled Horse stepped in (ahem) to pick up the slack — the production seems to be neither postured tape for tape’s sake nor overtly retro-minded. The post-Morricone spaghetti western guitar line in the verse of “Don’t Lie” is organic, but it’s bringing the past to meet the present rather than taking pretending the last 40 years of advances in production never happened. It’s a bigger difference than one might think, and on Step In, it’s the difference between Troubled Horse being a toss-off in a crowded scene and finding their individual mark in the balance they strike between clarity of ideas and fullness of sound.
Principally though, Step In works because of the songs; the swagger Heppich puts into his cadence on “Another Man’s Name,” and the circus atmosphere the organ brings out in closer “I’ve Been Losing,” the super-catchy chorus of which — “Yes, I’ve been losing/But the winds begin to change/And this over/I have the upper hand” — provides ample culmination for the record, wrapping up a swirl first introduced in Jens‘ steady snare on opener “Tainted Water,” shades of late-’60s psych as reinterpreted à la Baby Woodrose beginning to show themselves. If Step Inreally is the result of 10 years’ work, I wouldn’t call the time misspent.
That said, one does wonder what Troubled Horse would/will be able to do with a shorter songwriting span, as in, if it’s not another decade before they put out another record. But I suppose those are questions for another time. For now, the brash insistence of “Shirleen,” the proto-metal chug and stomp of “Tainted Water” and Heppich’s brazen, soulful hooks are more than enough.
Posted in audiObelisk on July 19th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
Well, it’s official: There’s a whole buttload of audio streams from Roadburn 2010 for you to check out. I thought on this Monday afternoon, posting a few more to get you through whatever it is that has you sitting in front of a computer would probably be the way to go. Hope you enjoy: