Review & Track Premiere: Tuna de Tierra, Tuna de Tierra

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on June 27th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

TUNA DE TIERRA SELF TITLED

[Click play above to stream ‘Morning Demon’ from Tuna de Tierra’s self-titled album, out Sept. 22 on Argonauta Records and available now to preorder.]

A booming Italian heavy rock underground marks yet another win in the self-titled debut from Napoli rockers Tuna de Tierra. Signed to Argonauta Records following a formative but engaging first short offering in 2015’s self-released EPisode I: Pilot (review here), the heavy psych-infused trio of guitarist/vocalist Alessio de Cicco, bassist Luciano Mirra and Marco Mancaniello (who came aboard in place of Jonathan Maurano warm their skin in sun-baked desert influences across the offering’s seven-track/47-minute run, finding a natural-sounding position between jamming and structuring and shifting fluidly between one or the other. Songs like “Morning Demon” seem to speak directly to the heavy rock tonal traditionalism born in the wake of Sweden’s Lowrider, but the later drift of “Raise of the Lights” brings to mind a dreamier take on the psych-blues proffered by All Them Witches, particularly with Mirra‘s bouncing bassline and the handclap-laden semi-interlude “Long Sabbath’s Day” preceding.

Broken into two sides with an intro for each, Tuna de Tierra‘s Tuna de Tierra gracefully builds on what the EP accomplished in setting forth on an aesthetic path, but perhaps most satisfies in the level of growth and expansion throughout its tracks. That is, they sound like a band who really learned from the experience of making their first release and set about writing an even richer and more complex set of songs from which to craft a full-length album. The progression doesn’t sound forced, either, and through extended jams like the jangly 10-minute “Out of Time” and nine-minute “Laguna” — which close side A and B, respectively — Tuna de Tierra immerse the listener in a pretense-free depth of vibe that continues to expand as the album plays out.

That linear flow — and I use “linear” pretty loosely for something that seems to delight so much in the occasional bit of jazzy, post-Causa Sui meandering — is the key element of Tuna de Tierra‘s presentation. Effective dips and swells of volume, particularly when they kick into fuller fuzz, as in the Kyuss-referential burst at the beginning of the second half of “Laguna” or the slower-grunge march that emerges in “Raise of the Lights” or even in the manner in which “Morning Demon” seems to cast out its sunrise — or perhaps welcome its demon — circa the 3:30 mark, give the listener a sense of dynamic and of the chemistry taking shape within their sound, and the drums do well to hold together these free-flowing changes, allowing exploratory moments their breadth but keeping the listener grounded in the experience even by something so simple as a tap on the ping ride amid a running bassline and airy guitar after that thrust in “Morning Demon.”

An undertone of progressive sensibility is foreshadowed in the 2:46 intro “Slow Burn,” but subtly, and the primary, first impression the long-player makes is in the guitar fuzz and the ease with which Tuna de Tierra seem to unfurl their first rollout and lead directly into the rest of what follows. Nonetheless, that progressive flourish is essential and comes through again and again in the low end and in some of de Cicco‘s more post-rocking stretches of guitar, or vocally in the penultimate “Mountain,” which finds him matching notes with the noodling bassline over tense tom work, speaking on some level perhaps to Lateralus-era Tool. Of critical importance is the way in which Tuna de Tierra meld these aspects together so that, while “Long Sabbath’s Day” marks a turning point in its position as the centerpiece track leading to the bluesier, proggier, jammier second half of the record, it’s not like it’s coming out of nowhere in doing so. There’s no interruption to the overarching smoothness occurring song-to-song.

tuna de tierra

And if there were, frankly, the album would fall flat in its mission. That it doesn’t signals an underlying consciousness on the part of the band, and one can’t help but wonder how Tuna de Tierra was composed, as a concept/thematic record or simply as a collection of songs that happened to fit together in this way, but in any case, as the “Long Sabbath’s Day” sets up the bluesy liquefaction of “Raise of the Lights,” the hardest turn Tuna de Tierra will make is pulled off with seeming ease. And once they’re there, de CiccoMirra and Mancaniello likewise have no apparent trouble in establishing themselves within the patient and spacious context that defines side B. Vocals don’t delay in arriving in “Raise of the Lights,” which owes some of its beginning tone to “Out of Time” before it — less directly fuzzed until the swaggering lead hits, but still laid back to the extreme — but the mood is casual all the same thanks to the light swing of the rhythm. Once again, a thrust of more driving riffery hits in the midsection, but though its arrival is willfully sudden, the transition back out to the track’s more serene ending portion, while nothing more then a clicking-off of a pedal, benefits from the hypnosis cast prior.

Same could be said as “Mountain” picks up from the solo-topped march-out in that final section, and though its atmosphere is slightly more brooding, the build that seems to be underway after the first minute actually restrains itself and Tuna de Tierra successfully avoid redundancy, instead allowing for a more organic exploration of the meditative feel “Mountain” elicits. One might be tempted to call it minimal, especially as the guitar gently fades to bring in the soundscaping launch of “Laguna,” but there’s actually a good deal of movement taking place. All the better, since “Laguna” follows suit, finding itself working in three stages as it gradually heads toward the payoff for the full-length as a whole. Following an initial uptick in pace and volume after 4:20 in that leads to a righteously winding solo and some particularly fuzzed bass, a stop just before the six-minute mark and a quick roll from the toms announces the push that will cap Tuna de Tierra, already noted for its Kyuss-ism.

As with the rest of its surroundings however, it’s worth emphasizing about that last segment that Tuna de Tierra do remarkably well in recontextualizing their influences, making the style their own, and that as they may be playing off the past, they’re doing so in the direction of their own future. Like the EP before it, this self-titled demonstrates marked potential in setting the band apart from the increasingly crowded sphere of the Italian underground, but more importantly, it does this by virtue of the organic presentation of the band itself, rather than some hey-look-at-us attention grab playing toward a flawed notion of uniqueness. In further casting Tuna de Tierra‘s stylistic vision and giving hints at where their ongoing development might take them, Tuna de Tierra proves to be one of 2017’s strongest debut full-lengths, and its effectiveness as such only seems to grow on repeat listens.

Tuna de Tierra on Thee Facebooks

Tuna de Tierra on Bandcamp

Tuna de Tierra on Argonauta Records

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Tuna de Tierra Sign to Argonauta Records; Debut Album this Spring

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 15th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

I’m interested to hear what Naples-based trio Tuna de Tierra have in store with their full-length debut. The Italian heavy psych rockers piqued intrigue with their first short outing, EPisode I: Pilot (review here), in 2015. It was a three-songer, and they had some room to grow into their approach, but they offset the initial desert-hued meanderings of “Red Sun” with more propulsive riffing, and thereby set themselves up for a well-balanced sound over the longer-term.

Well, a first album is a crucial step toward getting to that longer term, and Tuna de Tierra‘s will be out via Argonauta Records this Spring, as the label announced. Particularly if you’re invested in the narrative of an underground heavy boom throughout Italy, they might be one to keep an eye on, fitting that bill as they do.

No title or audio yet from the new release, but the label’s announcement follows:

tuna de tierra

Argonauta Records New signing: TUNA DE TIERRA

We’re proud to announce we’ve inked a deal with Italian Desert Rockers TUNA DE TIERRA.

TUNA DE TIERRA was born in Napoli (Italy) in the first months of 2013 from the long-standing union between Alessio De Cicco (guitar and vocals)and Luciano Mirra (bass guitar), then joined by Jonathan Maurano (actually replaced by Marco Mancaniello) on drums.

Already authors of the acclaimed self produced ep “EPisode I: Pilot” (2015) and available below, TUNA DE TIERRA are giving now final touches to their anticipated new album, to be released in Spring 2017 by Argonauta Records.

You can expect psychedelic sounds from the desert, wide landscape full of sand at the sunset, intolerable warm atmospheres, lysergic imagination nurturing air. Tuna de Tierra leaves for a trip with neither destination nor end, but just the purpose to move endlessly.

Tuna de Tierra is:
Alessio De Cicco: guitar, vocals
Luciano Mirra: bass guitar
Jonathan Maurano: drums

https://www.facebook.com/tunadetierra
https://tunadetierra.bandcamp.com/
http://www.argonautarecords.com
https://www.facebook.com/ArgonautaRecords/

Tuna de Tierra, EPisode I: Pilot (2015)

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Quarterly Review: Horisont, Blackwolfgoat & Larman Clamor, Matushka, Tuna de Tierra, MAKE, SardoniS, Lewis and the Strange Magics, Moewn, El Hijo de la Aurora, Hawk vs. Dove

Posted in Reviews on September 30th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

the-obelisk-quarterly-review-fall-2015

Cruising right along with the Fall 2015 Quarterly Review. I hope you’ve been digging it so far. There’s still much more to come, and I’ve spaced things out so that it’s not like all the really killer stuff was in the first day. That’s not so much to draw people in with bigger names as to get a good mix of styles to keep me from going insane. 10 records is a lot to go through if you’re hearing the same thing all the time. Today, as with each day this week, I’m glad to be able to change things up a bit as we make our way through. Let’s get to it.

Fall 2015 Quarterly Review #21-30:

Horisont, Odyssey

horisont odyssey

Aside from earning immediate points by sticking the 10-minute title-track at the front of their 62-minute fourth album, Swedish mustache rockers Horisont add intrigue to Odyssey (out on Rise Above) via the acquisition of journeyman guitarist Tom Sutton (The Order of Israfel, ex-Church of Misery). Their mission? To rock ‘70s arena melodies and grandiose vibes while keeping the affair tight enough so they don’t come across as completely ridiculous in the process. They’ve had three records to get it together before this one, so that they’d succeed isn’t necessarily much of a surprise, but the album satisfies nonetheless, cuts like “Blind Leder Blind” departing the sci-fi thematics of the opener for circa-1975 vintage loyalism of a different stripe, while “Back on the Streets” is pure early Scorpions strut, the band having found their own niche within crisp execution of classic-sounding grooves that seem to have a vinyl hiss no matter their source.

Horisont on Thee Facebooks

Rise Above Records

Blackwolfgoat & Larman Clamor, Straphanger / Drone Monger Split

blackwolfgoat larman clamor split

I’ll make no bones whatsoever about being partial to the work of both Blackwolfgoat – the solo experimental vehicle of Boston-based guitarist Darryl Shepard – and Larman Clamor – the solo-project of Hamburg-based graphic artist Alexander von Wieding – so to find them teamed up for a split 7” on H42 Records is something of a special thrill. Shepard’s inclusion, “Straphanger,” continues to push the thread between building layers of guitar on top of each other and songwriting that the last Blackwolfgoat full-length, Drone Maintenance (review here), found him exploring, while Larman Clamor’s “Drone Monger” is an alternate version from what appeared on last year’s Beetle Crown and Steel Wand (review here) and “Fo’ What You Did” digs deep into the swampy psych-blues that von Wieding has done so well developing for the last half-decade or so in the project’s tenure. My only complaint? No collaboration between the two sides. Would love to hear what Shepard and von Wieding could do in a cross-Atlantic two-piece.

Blackwolfgoat on Thee Facebooks

Larman Clamor on Thee Facebooks

H42 Records

Matushka, II

matushka ii

II is the aptly-titled second full-length from Russian heavy psych instrumentalists Matushka, who jam kosmiche across its four component tracks and round out by diving headfirst into the acid with “Drezina,” a 20-minute pulsation from some distant dimension that gives sounds like Earthless if they made it up on the spot, peppering shred-ola leads with no shortage of effects swirl. In comparison, “As Bartenders and Bouncers Dance” feels positively plotted, but it, “The Acid Curl’s Dance” before and the especially dreamy “Meditation,” which follows, all have their spontaneous-sounding elements. For guitarist Timophey Goryashin, bassist Maxim Zhuravlev (who seems to since be out of the band) and drummer Konstantin Kotov to even sustain this kind of lysergic flow, they need to have a pretty solid chemistry underlying the material, and they do. I don’t know whether Matushka’s II will change the scope of heavy psychedelia, but they put their stamp on the established parameters here and bring an edge of individuality in moments of arrangement flourish — acoustics, synth, whatever it might be — where a lot of times that kind of thing is simply lost in favor of raw jamming.

Matushka on Thee Facebooks

Matushka on Bandcamp

Tuna de Tierra, EPisode I: Pilot

tuna de tierra episode i pilot

If a pilot is used in television to test whether or not a show works, then Tuna de Tierra’s EPisode I: Pilot, would seem to indicate similar ends. A three-song first outing from the Napoli outfit, it coats itself well in languid heavy psychedelic vibing across “Red Sun” (the opener and longest track at 8:25; immediate points), “Ash” (7:28) and the particularly dreamy “El Paso de la Tortuga,” which closes out at 4:08 and leaves the listener wanting to hear more of what Alessio de Cicco (guitar/vocals) and Luciano Mirra (bass) might be able to concoct from their desert-style influences. There’s patience to be learned in some of their progressions, and presumably at some point they’ll need to pick up a drummer to replace Jonathan Maurano, who plays here and seems to since be out of the band, but especially as their initial point of contact with planet earth, EPisode I: Pilot proves immersive and a pleasure to get lost within, and that’s enough for the moment.

Tuna de Tierra on Thee Facebooks

Tuna de Tierra on Bandcamp

MAKE, The Golden Veil

make the golden veil

Much of what one might read concerning North Carolinian trio MAKE and their second album, The Golden Veil, seems to go out of its way to point out the individual take they’re bringing to the established parameters of post-metal. I don’t want to speak for anyone else, but part of that has to be sheer critical fatigue at the thought of another act coming along having anything in common with Isis while at the same time, not wanting to rag on MAKE as though their work were without value of its own, which at this point an Isis comparison dogwhistles. MAKE’s The Golden Veil successfully plays out an atmospherically intricate, engaging linear progression across its seven tracks, from the cut-short intro “I was Sitting Quietly, Peeling back My Skin” through the atmospheric sludge tumult of “The Absurdist” and into the patient post-rock melo-drone of “In the Final Moments, Uncoiling.” Yes, parts of it are familiar. Parts of a lot of things are familiar. Some of it sounds like Isis. That’s okay.

MAKE on Thee Facebooks

MAKE on Bandcamp

SardoniS, III

sardonis iii

To an extent, the reputation of Belgium instru-crushers SardoniS precedes them, and as such I can’t help but listen to “The Coming of Khan,” which launches their third album, III (out via Consouling Sounds), and not be waiting for the explosion into tectonic riffing and massive-sounding gallop. Still the duo of drummer Jelle Stevens and guitarist Roel Paulussen, SardoniS offer up five tracks of sans-vocals, Surrounded by Thieves-style thrust, a cut like “Roaming the Valley” summarizing some of the best elements of what they’ve done across the span of splits with Eternal Elysium and Drums are for Parades, as well as their two prior full-lengths, 2012’s II and 2010’s SardoniS (review here), in its heft and its rush. A somewhat unanticipated turn arrives with 11:46 closer “Forward to the Abyss,” which though it still hits its standard marks, also boasts both lengthy atmospheric sections at the front and back and blastbeaten extremity between. Just when you think you know what to expect.

SardoniS on Thee Facebooks

Consouling Sounds

Lewis and the Strange Magics, Velvet Skin

lewis and the strange magics velvet skin

With their debut long-player, Barcelona trio Lewis and the Strange Magics answer the promise of their 2014 Demo (review here) in setting a late-‘60s vibe to modern cultish interpretation, post-Uncle Acid and post-Ghost (particularly so on “How to be You”) but no more indebted to one or the other than to themselves, which is as it should be. Issued via Soulseller Records, Velvet Skin isn’t afraid to dive into kitsch, and that winds up being a big part of the charm of songs like “Female Vampire” and “Golden Threads,” but it’s ultimately the chemistry of the organ-inclusive trio that makes the material hold up, as well as the swaggering rhythms of “Cloudy Grey Cube” and “Nina (Velvet Skin),” which is deceptively modern in its production despite such a vintage methodology. The guitar and keys on that semi-title-track seem to speak to a classic progressive edge burgeoning within Lewis and the Strange Magics’ approach, and I very much hope that’s a path they continue to walk.

Lewis and the Strange Magics on Thee Facebooks

Soulseller Records

Moewn, Acqua Alta

moewn acqua alta

Basking in a style they call “oceanic rock,” newcomer German trio Moewn unveil their first full-length, Acqua Alta, via Pink Tank Records in swells of post-metallic undulations that wear their neo-progressive influences on their sleeve. Instrumental for the duration, the three-piece tracked the album in 2014 about a year after first getting together, but the six songs have a cohesive, thought-out feel to their peaks and valleys – “Packeis” perhaps most of all – that speaks to their purposeful overall progression. Atmospherically, it feels like Moewn are still searching for what they want to do with this sound, but they have an awful lot figured out up to this point, whether it’s the nodding wash of airy guitar and fluid heft of groove that seems to push “Dunkelmeer” along or second cut “Katamaran,” which if it weren’t for the liquefied themes of the art and their self-applied genre tag, I’d almost say sounded in its more spacious stretches like desert rock à la Yawning Man.

Moewn on Thee Facebooks

Pink Tank Records

El Hijo de la Aurora, The Enigma of Evil

el hijo de la aurora the enigma of evil

Since their first album, 2008’s Lemuria (review here), it has been increasingly difficult to pin Peruvian outfit El Hijo de la Aurora to one style or another. Drawing from doom, heavy rock, drone and psychedelic elements, they seem to push outward cosmically into something that’s all and none of them at the same time on their third album, The Enigma of Evil (released by Minotauro Records), the core member Joaquín Cuadra enlisting the help of a host of others in executing the seven deeply varied tracks, including Indrayudh Shome of continually underrated experimentalists Queen Elephantine on the acoustic-led “The Awakening of Kosmos” and the penultimate chug-droner “The Advent of Ahriman.” Half a decade after the release of their second album, Wicca (review here), in 2010, El Hijo de la Aurora’s work continues to feel expansive and ripe for misinterpretation, finding weight in atmosphere as much as tone and breadth enough to surprise with how claustrophobic it can at times seem.

El Hijo de la Aurora’s website

Minotauro Records

Hawk vs. Dove, Divided States

hawk vs dove divided states

Dallas outfit Hawk vs. Dove recorded Divided States in the same studio as their self-titled 2013 debut (review here) and the two albums both have black and white line-drawn artwork from Larry Carey, so it seems only fitting to think of the new release as a follow-up to the first. It is fittingly expansive, culling together elements of ‘90s noise, post-grunge indie (ever wondered what Weezer would sound like heavy? Check “X”), black metal (“Burning and Crashing”), desert rock (“PGP”) and who the hell knows what else into a mesh of styles that not only holds up but feels progressed from the first time out and caps with an 11-minute title-track that does even more to draw the various styles together into a cohesive, singular whole. All told, Divided States is 38 minutes of blinding turns expertly handled and impressive scope trod over as though it ain’t no thing, just another day at the office. It’s the kind of record that’s so good at what it does that other bands should hear it and be annoyed.

Hawk vs. Dove on Thee Facebooks

Hawk vs. Dove on Bandcamp

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audiObelisk Transmission 050

Posted in Podcasts on August 3rd, 2015 by JJ Koczan

Click Here to Download

 

Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!

We’re a little bit overdue for a new podcast and I know it. A hectic couple weeks, I suppose. But it’s here now and there’s plenty to dig into, so hopefully it’ll make up for some of the lost time. Not like the site’s lacking for audio — you might say there’s a 24-hour live-streaming radio station with a permanent home over there in the sidebar — but it’s still nice to feature some new tracks from what’s come across for review and other consideration.

A few marquee names this time around: Monster Magnet, Pentagram, Kadavar. And on the other end of the spectrum, a band like Seagrave, whose inclusion here is taken from their demo. In between those extremes, an outfit like Borracho continue to refine their heavy rock bona fides, Thera Roya delve deep into post-metallic abrasion, Black Tremor capture a dark Americana, and Weeed earn their third ‘e’ with massive stoner sprawl. And speaking of sprawl, you might notice the first hour ends at 52 minutes. Well, things get long early. Thera Roya, Iguana, Matuska and We Lost the Sea all top 10 minutes — the latter 20 — and that pushes the total runtime over two hours. I figured it’s the 50th one, so fair enough to stretch a bit. Hope you enjoy:

First Hour:
0:00:00 Kadavar, “Last Living Dinosaur” from Berlin
0:04:02 Pentagram, “Walk Alone” from Curious Volume
0:07:18 Monster Magnet, “Mastermind ‘69” from Cobras and Fire: The Mastermind Redux
0:13:34 Weeed, “Rainbow Amplifier Worship” from Our Guru Brings us to the Black Master Sabbath
0:22:08 Tuna de Tierra, “Ash” from EPisode 1 – Pilot
0:29:29 Seagrave, “Through the Lion’s Eye” from Dead Demo
0:32:45 Vinnum Sabbathi, “Hex I – The Mastery of Space” from Split with Fuzzonaut
0:39:52 Borracho, “Superego” from The Second Coming of Heavy Split with Geezer
0:47:27 Black Tremor, “Rise” from Impending
0:52:36 Thera Roya, “Unraveling” from Unraveling

Second Hour:
1:05:37 Iguana, “Cult of Helios” from Cult of Helios
1:21:09 Matushka, “Drezina” from II
1:40:55 We Lost the Sea, “Challenger Pt. I: Flight” from Departure Songs

Total running time: 2:04:22

 

Thank you for listening.

Download audiObelisk Transmission 050

 

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