The Munsens Premiere “You’re Next” from Abbey Rose EP

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on November 18th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

the-munsens

Denver trio The Munsens release their new EP, Abbey Rose, on Nov. 21. The sense of worship is almost immediate on the four-track/40-minute offering, which is their second behind 2014’s Weight of Night (review here), and the band manages to meter out waves of undulating riffs while giving hints of influences from modern doom without becoming beholden to them. To say it adds to what the New Jersey expats did with the prior outing is perhaps to undercut the strange vibes they conjure throughout or the atmosphere in which one finds oneself immersed while listening despite a near-garage rawness of tone. Their low end — it seems to come from the guitar of Shaun Goodwin and the drums of Graham Wesselhoff as much as the fuzz-laden bass of Michael Goodwin (also vocals and cover photography) — is palpable in the extended pieces “You’re Next” (11:25), “Abbey Rose” (8:12), “To Castile” (9:38) and the closing sequel to the finale of Weight of Night aptly dubbed “The Hunt II” (11:39), and that’s a uniting factor through some shifts in tempo, but while I might argue that something with such a front to back flow that also happens to be 40 minutes long is an album whether The Munsens want it to be or not, what they’ve specifically positioned as a second EP gives more than an ample showing of their hefty wares going into a long-player planned for release next year. If this is them laying groundwork, they’re making sure that ground is duly flattened before they build on it.

And fair enough. With the opening buzz that leads the way into “You’re Next,” I’m immediately reminded of Heavy Temple‘s plug-and-praise sensibilities, but The Munsens take their time letting the leadoff track develop on its own, bass and drums joining the guitar so that by two minutes in the plod is completely underway but you’re not quite sure the-munsens-abbey-rosehow. One could find tonal touchstones in WeedeaterBongzilla, etc., and what The Munsens bring to the mix is an overall cleaner take on sludge than one usually finds in the disaffected libertarian screams the genre usually proffers. Michael‘s vocals still arrive in cave-echoing shouts, but they do so on “You’re Next” with a post-Jus Oborn inflection, calling to mind Electric Wizard‘s earlier, rawer glories, which is a stonerism reaffirmed as they pick up the tempo and shift into a dual-layered solo late in the track, riding the riff into a final slowdown and the memorable nod of the Abbey Rose title-track. It’s the shortest of the four, but has the most prevalent hook of the four cuts, and particularly in light of the cover art seems to play toward a kind of gothic horror vibe as it slow-motion boogies its way into a quieter midsection that builds to a fervent churn across the final four minutes. “To Castile” feels even more immediate. Its quicker tempo brings Wesselhoff‘s raw drum sound to the fore, and though less theatrical than the preceding “Abbey Rose,” it pushes further into a similar kind of atmospheric dankness, breaking in the first half to a section of sparse guitar, slower drumming and far-back organ.

This turn is especially well done, and it’s not the last in “To Castile.” Over the next couple minutes, the Goodwins and Wesselhoff careen through winding prog and chunky-style sludge before landing in near-silence just past the halfway mark, from which they mount a surprisingly and engagingly semi-psychedelic build, never quite returning to what was the core of “To Castile,” but ending in slower, thicker riffing that serves as a reminder nonetheless. And much like the longer-shorter-shorter-longer arrangement of the four songs recalls a mirror, so too does the gradual unfolding of closer “The Hunt II” seem to be as much in conversation with “You’re Next” as it is clearly intended to be with “The Hunt” from Weight of Night. That release, which was far easier to argue as an EP overall than is Abbey Rose, was bigger in terms of its production, but as the organ returns in “The Hunt II”‘s mid-tempo midsection and is met with flourish of lead guitar amid all the crush of low end, and as the slower final instrumental push begins that will develop over the last several minutes of the song, topped with another impressive-if-short solo, I can’t say The Munsens aren’t well served by the organic, live feel brought to bear in this material. It gives the vitality of their delivery a fitting complement and positions them not so much trying to crush everything in their path as carving out a space for themselves in a niche-within-a-niche kind of way. As to which modus their debut album — again, debatable whether or not this is it, and they may indeed decide a couple years from now that it is — might follow when it arrives next year, I’d expect it to keep at least partially in this direction, though one never knows when a steady roll is going to present a sudden turn. It’ll be one to look forward to, either way.

The Munsens‘ Abbey Rose is out Nov. 21 on tape and digital.

Please find a premiere of “You’re Next” below, followed by more background on the band from the PR wire, and enjoy:

The Munsens have remained a bit of an enigma over the last handful of years due to the scattered whereabouts of the band’s members, surfacing intermittently for a sporadic arrangement of tours and a pair of releases. 2016 saw the most prominent establishment of the group thus far, with the entire band now residing in the same city for the first time in the band’s career, featuring a rearranged lineup. (Original drummer Shaun Goodwin moved to guitar, with Graham Wesselhoff, formerly of Denver’s Skully Mammoth, taking the helm behind the drums.)

The Munsens made a handful of appearances in Denver during the summer and fall of 2016, and on November 21, will release their first recordings in nearly two years via a 45-minute EP titled Abbey Rose, which preludes their first full-length album, due out in the summer of 2017. Abbey Rose will be available on cassette and as a digital download through the band’s Bandcamp page and will supported by two tours in early 2017, in January and in March. Dates and cities TBA.

All songs by the Munsens
Cover photography: Michael Goodwin
Recorded and mixed by Jamie Hillyer, Module Overload
Mastered by Dennis Pleckham, Comatose Studios
the Munsens is Michael Goodwin, Shaun Goodwin, Graham Wesselhoff

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The Munsens on Bandcamp

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Ice Dragon, Broken Life EP: Scratching at Meaning

Posted in Reviews on November 16th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

ice-dragon-broken-life

It’s only been about 18 months since Ice Dragon put out their last album, A Beacon on the Barrow (review here), but one wouldn’t necessarily be wrong to think of that as an eternity when it comes to the self-releasing Boston experimentalist doom rockers. After all, that record — which was the only thing they had out last year — capped a three-year period from 2012 to 2015 that saw Ice Dragon issue no fewer than eight full-lengths, starting with Tome of the Future Ancients (review here), Dream Dragon (review here), greyblackfalconhawk (review here) and Dead Friends and Angry Lovers (which wasn’t an Ice Dragon release, then it was) in 2012, Born a Heavy Morning (review here) in 2013, and Seeds from a Dying Garden (review here) and Loaf of Head (review here) in 2014. Peppered in with these were splits and shorter releases, one-off singles rife with studio fuckery, willfully trashcan sound and the band trying to dig heavy metal, psychedelic rock and/or garage doom down to their very core rawness, thereby remaking them in their own image.

What started as barebones crunch on their 2007 self-titled (review here) and 2010’s The Burl, the Earth, the Aether (review here) exploded into an anti-genre creative streak that simply refused to falter or not move itself forward, even if that motion was happening through regression. And make no mistake, there were plenty of times when it was. Recording themselves at Ron’s Wrecker ServiceIce Dragon developed a signature in the sometimes harsh production they elicited, but it was no less a part of their aesthetic on the Beach Boysian Born a Heavy Morning than it was on 2012’s patient and proggy single, Season of Decay (discussed here), or the return to doom in the 2013 two-tracker Steel Veins b/w Queen of the Black Harvest (review here). It was a part of who they were as a band.

Then they stopped. Bound to happen eventually, right? It would be unreasonable to ask a group to keep up the kind of pace Ice Dragon were working at into perpetuity. Vocalist Ron Rochondo worked on various side-projects, while drummer Brad played bass in Pilgrim, and presumably guitarist/bassist Carter and bassist/guitarist Joe were at work on something or other — maybe life. In any case, Ice Dragon awaken with the new EP Broken Life. Comprised of just two songs, “Scratch at Your Skin” and “Life Means Nothing, Death Means Nothing,” it’s nonetheless the first new output the band has had since A Beacon on the Barrow and so feels like an event in its arrival, even as that comes just through their usual means of posting on Bandcamp as a name-your-price download. In fact, there’s a lot about Broken Life that’s business-as-usual for Ice Dragon, including its unpredictability. After 18 months, who the hell would guess they were going to come up with anything at all, let alone take a stab at what that might actually sound like? Not me.

ice-dragon

Further, most of the recording seems to have been done at Rubber Tracks Studio in Boston, which is either owned by or somehow affiliated with shoemaker Converse. They still mixed and mastered at Ron’s Wrecker Service, and recorded vocals and some acoustic guitar there as well, but that’s a significant change in venue for an Ice Dragon offering. Would Broken Life had happened in another circumstance, i.e., without the push of putting it to tape someplace else? I don’t know the circumstances that led to their revival anymore than I do what led to their break, but when it comes to new material, I’ll take it either way. Which brings us around to “Scratch at Your Skin” and “Life Means Nothing, Death Means Nothing.” Together, they run just under 11 minutes. If they’d fit they’d make an excellent 7″ pressing — particularly with the Samantha Allen cover art out front — and in their short span of time they manage to reaffirm what made Ice Dragon‘s prolific stretch so satisfying, most of all that part about always moving forward.

Production, as it turns out, is a factor in that process. While Rochondo‘s howling lyrics in the first cut, “It’s killing you/But not quite yet,” may have been recorded at their home studio, the guitar tone that accompanies them, though still plenty raw, comes through bright and clear at the fore of the mix. I’d be willing to bet Baines Kluxen and Matt Carlson, who helmed the session at Rubber Tracks, had at least some measure of prior familiarity with the band going into the session, because they manage to preserve some of the core features of their sound in the guitar, bass and far-back crash of the drums, while enhancing the overall feel. Vocals echo cavernous over a march in the second half where the title line is delivered in a context outside its usual chorus, and “Scratch at Your Skin” rumbles and hums to a finish, leading to the more prominent bass roll of “Life Means Nothing, Death Means Nothing,” a classic doom rocker that seems to inadvertently come across like darker Kadavar in its verse before moving into a chorus capped with surprising harmonies and a guitar triumph that affects immediate nod before shifting into an acoustic stretch.

The heavier push reemerges after the four-minute mark and more prominent harmonies in the hook help carry Ice Dragon to the finish of the second and closing track. I don’t know a lot about this material — when it was written, how the recording came about, whether it will lead to more, etc. — but if Ice Dragon are marking a return with Broken Life, or even general intent toward one, or if it’s a happenstance one-off and they’ll melt back into the semi-psychedelic doom ooze from which they came, it’s secondary to the fact of how well these two songs work together and off each other. Again, if they wanted to press it, as a fan of the band, I wouldn’t argue, but even as a digital release, Broken Life would seem to signify there’s vitality in Ice Dragon yet. Maybe they won’t put out four albums a year, or even one, but if they do or don’t, it’s comforting to know their creativity and sonic individualism are still intact, for whenever or however often they might want to put them to use.

Ice Dragon, Broken Life (2016)

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Playing Records on Bandcamp

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Iron Tongue, Witches: This Freezing Point (Plus Full Album Stream)

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on November 8th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

iron-tongue-witches

[Stream Iron Tongue’s Witches in full by clicking play above. Album is out digitally today, Nov. 8, with physical release Nov. 14.]

A second full-length from Little Rock, Arkansas, six-piece Iron Tongue, Witches, arrives as a self-released follow-up to the band’s 2013 debut, The Dogs Have Barked, the Bird Has Flown (review here). That album came out via Neurot Recordings and had a benefit of relative proximity to 2011’s Rest (review here), the most recent LP from frontman Christopher “CT” Terry‘s then-main outfit, Rwake. Three years later, Terry, fellow vocalist Stephanie Smittle, guitarists Mark Chiaro and Scott Diffee, bassist Andy Warr and drummer Stan James would seem to stand more on their own with the brevity of Witches, a 24-minute five-tracker that nonetheless pushes forward the stylistic modus established their last time out.

Centerpiece “Starless,” with a pedal steel guest appearance from Todd Beene (Lucero) might be where that’s most the case, as Iron Tongue blend moody and mid-paced heavy rock groove with more Southern vibes, and certainly a pedal steel guitar isn’t going to hurt that effort, but even in the call and response gang-style vocals in the chorus of opener “Lose Yourselves Away” and the verse of the subsequent “The Giant,” the lead-topped swing of “Stones and Chains” and the spaciousness in which the dual-vocal hook of crawling closer “Devil’s Friend” seems to take place, Iron Tongue seem intent on casting an identity of their own throughout Witches in weighted Southern-style tones, fluid tempos, clean and soulful vocals, tales of perseverance, and just an underpinning of metal to sharpen the corners.

Importantly, there’s no single element that defines them at any given time, but rather the different ways in which they blend the not-exhaustive aspects above to execute this brief collection. Structure plays a significant role as well. With three songs over five minutes long — “Lose Yourselves Away,” “Starless” and “Devil’s Friend” — and two under four — “The Giant” and “Stones and Chains,” both faster — Iron Tongue set themselves up with a prime opportunity to emphasize dynamics with a back and forth between them, and that’s just how Witches plays out, so that the turns between “Lose Yourselves Away” and “The Giant” and “Starless” and “Stones and Chains” and “Devil’s Friend” are all the more flowing for their consistency. If it was an album that was 40 or 50 minutes long, they might need something more to break it up, but for as bare-bones as Witches seems interested in being, those bones prove solid enough to support its flesh and musculature.

iron-tongue

One can hear a likewise patterning in the vocals. Already-noted call and response between CT and either Smittle on “Starless” and “Devil’s Friend,” or what seems to be a variety of others throughout — might also be layering — becomes a big part of the tracks’ identities, and draws emphasis to the languid sway in the opening minutes of “Starless” before that song kicks into its more uptempo second half as much as it does the barroom strut of “Stones and Chains.” I’m not sure if Iron Tongue are inviting sing-alongs, ultimately, but they wouldn’t seem to be discouraging them by any means, and the parallel moves in positioning of the songs and arrangements within them speak to a drive toward structure that lends Witches an even more cohesive sense of presentation.

And as they make their way toward “Devil’s Friend” to round out, they seem to match that structure with a linear design poised toward a darker-sounding finish. “Stones and Chains,” “Lose Yourselves Away” and indeed “Devil’s Friend” keep a decidedly positive lyrical spin, but the finale is as close to doom as Iron Tongue come, and with its slow-rolling riff, drawn out leads, echoing shouts from CT and punctuating snare from James, they make the point clear. If not for the “You gotta stand up” encouragement in the hook, it would almost be out of place, but the lyrics tie “Devil’s Friend” the rest of what precedes and help bring Witches to a crashing and rumbling finish that helps ensure an impression is left, despite the album being so short.

Arguments could be made for Witches as an EP as opposed to an LP because of that quick runtime — my standard is usually that Slayer‘s Reign in Blood was 28 minutes long — but I think Iron Tongue make a good case for a full-length flow here and that rather than include any filler or take more time, three years after their debut they opted for something that could be both raw and engaging. They got there. Witches has its brooding side, as seen in the Nate Powell cover art, but repeat listens reveal it as a bolder step into sonic individualism than it might at first seem to be, and it takes that step without giving way to any form of pretense, thereby making it even more of a win for the band.

Iron Tongue, “Lose Yourselves Away” official video

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Iron Tongue on Bandcamp

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Sweet Heat, Demo: To Crawl and Entice (Plus Full Stream)

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on November 4th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

swee-heat-demo-cover

[Click play above to stream Sweet Heat’s Sweet Heat Demo in full. They play with The Golden Grass and Pilgrim on Saturday at Dusk in Providence, RI, and will appear at Maryland Doom Fest 2017.]

The story of Sweet Heat begins in 2015 with the demise of Rhode Island-based doom traditionalists Balam. With some impressive local momentum behind them, Balam released their Days of Old (track premiere here) full-length early last year, and by the time 2016 rolled around, the band was done. Sort of. Vocalist Alexander Blackhound, guitarist Jonny Sage, bassist Nicholas Arruda and drummer Zigmond Coffey — four-fifths of Balam‘s lineup — were quick to regroup under the banner of Sweet Heat (also sometimes preceded by a “the”) and set to writing new material. And while one might be tempted to think of the new band simply as an extension of the old, the adoption of a different moniker is very clearly a purposeful move on their part.

They may be the same players, but the ground they’re exploring on Sweet Heat‘s four-song debut demo, aptly-titled Demo or Sweet Heat Demo, differs greatly from the darkened and moody tonality of the prior outfit. Of course, they’re just starting out, so where they might end up after these 18 minutes remains to be seen — they may well return to the dark side — but as a debut offering, Sweet Heat‘s first skillfully blends impulses out of classic heavy rock with a riffy foundation. There are some flashes of doom or at very least proto-metal on opener “Night Crawler,” but even as “The Enticer” digs into Sabbathian roll, Sage‘s guitar scorches in a manner altogether more rocking.

Likewise, “How it’s Done” seems to owe as much to Radio Moscow as Pentagram, and one can hear some residual Uncle Acid influence in the buzz and shuffle of “Night Crawler,” though Blackhound‘s vocals — his presence as a frontman was a major factor in Balam as well — assures the overall feel doesn’t come too close to anyone else. It’s a demo, of course, so basically Sweet Heat are showing off an initial batch of songs trying to encourage people to investigate further, be it at a show or their inevitable next release. But even that feeds into their aesthetic. In a day where a band doesn’t have to do anything more than slap a cover together and post it on Bandcamp, a demo easily becomes a “first EP,” but it’s telling that Sweet Heat embrace the rougher-feeling impression that even the word “demo” gives off. Cassette-ready.

sweet-heat-demo-back-cover

And the music follows suit (though actually the release is on CD). There is a noticeable shift in production and volume between “Night Crawler” and “The Enticer,” and though the feel remains live and energetic into “How it’s Done” (premiered here) and the eponymous closer “Sweet Heat,” the actual sound is cleaner. On an album that might be jarring, but here it just feeds into the notion that Sweet Heat are exploring a new style and coming together as songwriters in a new way. It is laced with attitude. In the swagger of “The Enticer” and “How it’s Done,” the foursome build on the swing of “Night Crawler” and as they close out with “Sweet Heat,” they do so with classically metallic defiance: fist-pumping, a pervasive self-othering, and chug. Righteous and crisply, efficiently executed.

As “Sweet Heat” moves into its chorus, “We are the ones that you fear/You don’t like us?/We don’t care/We are who we are,” the band not only once more reinforce the perspective of the Demo as a whole, but provide their first outing with its most landmark hook while showing an ability to fluidly turn from one side to another in their play between rock and metal. From Blackhound‘s convicted recitation through Coffey‘s cymbal work and Arruda holding the rhythm together under Sage‘s blazing multi-layered solo in the second half, Sweet Heat live little to wonder as to why the finale of their demo wound up being the song that took their name. I wouldn’t be surprised if, on whatever kind of offering comes next for them, the track didn’t show up again, though of course one never knows.

In any case, Sweet Heat‘s Demo more than lives up to the tasks before it in establishing the group as an entity separate from their past work together, giving listeners a glimpse of their ample chops in songwriting and performance delivery, and setting a foundation on which they can continue to build as they move forward. There isn’t much more one could ask of it on the whole than it delivers, but the punch Sweet Heat‘s first batch of material packs goes beyond “band starting out” and finds their potential all the more bolstered by the chemistry they so clearly and so rightly wanted to preserve.

Sweet Heat on Bandcamp

Sweet Heat website (coming soon)

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The Crazy Left Experience Premiere “Subject Bill” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on November 4th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

the-crazy-left-experience-logo

“I feel as though I’m several other people, and all of them better.” — William Millarc

There are a couple crucial pieces of information you’ll want to have before you make your way into “Subject Bill,” the new video from Lisbon-based space-jammers The Crazy Left Experience taken from their debut album, Bill’s 108th Space Odyssey, which is out Nov. 18. First is who the “Bill” in question is. He’s painter William Millarc, who in 1955 took part in a controlled experiment on the effects of LSD on the brain overseen by Dr. Nicholas Bercel working for the pharmaceutical company Sandoz. Millarc‘s experience taking the drug was filmed and one can find that footage at the bottom of this post. It’s a 25-minute documentary including many soundbite gems including the one quoted above, which I thought kind of summed up the whole idea.

The Crazy Left Experience liberally incorporate samples from the documentary across the album’s expansive 56-minute course, including in “Subject Bill,” which opens the seven-tracker. This leads to a second piece of crucial information: Drift. “Subject Bill” is four minutes long and otherwise sans-vocals apart from the original documentary introduction and a clip from Millarc himself near the end, but the intention is to lead the listener into Bill’s 108th Space Odyssey, which begins to move even futher outward with “Unarius Part V (Uriel Cadillac)” and “Unarius Part VI (String Theory)” before delving into three extended tracks — “Unarius Part VII (Space Brothers),” “Funky Meteor Drop” and “Bill Sided Flashback” — each a departure in one way or another, and rounding out with the serene drones of “God of the Outer Rings.” So what you’re getting in “Subject Bill” is the beginning of a much larger process. It’s not really intended to stand alone, and on the album, it certainly doesn’t.

Nonetheless, it does draw the audience in with expanded-mind textures and a broadening reach, so as the launch point for that near-hour-long unfolding, the immersion of “Subject Bill” does represent some of the core appeal of Bill’s 108th Space Odyssey, and the video would seem to unfold from our protagonist’s direct point of view. The album is out Nov. 18 and follows a slew of shorter releases from The Crazy Left Experience, whose ambitions and sonic breadth come paired with natural tones and an unbridled sense of exploration fitting for the character around which they’ve opted to build their debut’s theme.

You’ll find “Subject Bill” below, followed by more info from the PR wire and the original documentary footage.

Please enjoy:

The Crazy Left Experience, “Subject Bill” official video

The Crazy Left Experience, “Bill’s 108th Space Odyssey”
Release date: November 18, 2016

“Bill’s 108th Space Odyssey” is a revamp of the existing complicity between The Crazy Left Experience members, and proof of how the power of intention and manifestation are not only possible but real.

Seven tracks of cosmic soundscapes, wherein the band gives wing to their own interpretations of the Rock universe and experimentalism. Spontaneity and improvisation; two ingredients that are always present in their tunes, enrich our senses.

Bill, the “subject”, may represent here the humanity conditioned by the forces of the system… So, like most of us!

A small dose of LSD is enough to catapult you through the galaxies to a more expansive, creative and spiritual place. It can be you, or a paradoxical version of yourself. Accompanied by melting guitar lines woven into a bed of bass and drums. It flows between intention and spontaneous outbursts of wild psychedelia. You will dive into a vast, deep, and mysterious sea of sound!

“Bill’s 108th Space Odyssey” is an invitation to old and new perceptions of psychedelic Rock. All you need to do is press PLAY, turn it up to ELEVEN… forget the seat belt, and rely on the powerful sound sights that The Crazy Left Experience’s experimental music has to offer.

With eyes open or closed, Bill’s trip is further evidence that psychedelic Rock is good for life!

Bill wants more, and so does The Crazy Left Experience too!

Bon Voyage!

Drums, Guitar: Rui Inácio
Guitar and Sound Effects: Luís Abrantes
Bass and Flute: Tiago Machado

LSD Experiment, “Schizophrenic Model Psychosis Induced by LSD 25”

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Dead Otter Release Debut EP Pathfinder

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 2nd, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

First of all, it’s not like Dead Otter are advocating for otter murder. They make a point to mention their otter-friendliness, but they never called themselves Kill Otters or something like that. Maybe bassist Gav Riddell had a pet otter at one point and it died and he decided to name the band in its honor. Or maybe Omar Aborida, who also plays in The Cosmic Dead, journeyed into the woods outside Glasgow — note: find out if there are woods outside Glasgow; don’t there have to be? — and made a special otter friend. I’m just saying, the name Dead Otter calls to mind a pretty gruesome image, roadkill and all that, but could be worse.

The Scottish four-piece’s debut EP, Pathfinder, builds off jammy impulses toward heavy psychedelic rock that retains an open feel — see “The Whangy,” which feels as much indebted tonally to Ween as Hendrix — and is available now to stream in full. You can see its flat-out amazing cover art below, and while I hope it gets pressed to CD for that alone, I wouldn’t mind a copy of these tracks for the archive either. Take a listen on the player below and you’ll hear why. Some potential here:

dead-otter-pathfinder-700

Dead Otter – Pathfinder

Dead Otter are an exploratory rock outfit based in Glasgow, crafting jams since rock music was invented in 1995. Influences range from such pre-95 heavyweights as Hawkwind to Gong, Black Sabbath, Captain Beyond, Led Zeppelin and The Sensational Alex Harvey band.

Over time the band has evolved into the current line up of John Riddell on Guitar and Vocals, Gav Riddell on Bass, Scott Falconer (Skeleton Gong, Los Destructos) on drums and Omar Aborida (The Cosmic Dead) on Guitar. This line up has just released a selection of Otter classics (Pathfinder EP) and are looking to follow up with a full length LP in 2017.

PS. Also should be noted that we’re 100% Otter friendly

Dead Otter, Pathfinder tracklist:
1. Stoner Devil 06:24
2. Open my eyes.. seen enough now 06:49
3. The Whangy 03:07
4. Pathfinder 07:53

Band Members:
John Riddell – Guitar / Vocals
Gav Riddell – Bass
Scott Falconer – Drums
Omar Aborida – Guitar

https://www.facebook.com/deadotterband/
https://dead-otter.bandcamp.com/releases

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Krobak, Nightbound: Pressure March (Plus Full Album Stream)

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on October 31st, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

krobak-nightbound

[Click play above to stream Krobak’s Nightbound in its entirety. Album is out Nov. 4.]

Resonance is the key. Wherever Krobak decides to take their third full-length, Nightbound, at any given moment in terms of arrangement, whether it’s violin, wisps of effects-soaked guitars, or hypnotically rhythmic outside meandering across the four mostly-extended tracks, it’s a sense of resonance that ties them together — sonic and emotional.

The Kiev, Ukraine, outfit were last heard from on 2013’s Little Victories (discussed here) and began life as a side-project from Igor Sidorenko of Stoned Jesus looking to explore a more post-rock style of sound, basking in the influence of Godspeed You! Black Emperor and the like on the 2008 solo outing, The Diary of the Missed OneSidorenko‘s guitar still takes the fore in what’s become a full-band lineup, though I wouldn’t minimize the contributions of bassist Asya, violinist Marko or drummer Natasha, who add to the depth and textures of this material and make Nightbound all the more of an immersive experience.

Its four inclusions — “Stringer Bell” (13:21), “No Pressure, Choice is Yours” (7:04), “So Quietly Falls the Night” (11:21) and “Marching for the Freedom We Have Lost” (10:13) — only total just under 42 minutes, but they are indeed immersive, and though there are some tense moments in “No Pressure, Choice is Yours” and the apex of “So Quietly Falls the Night,” the prevailing sensibility is patient, the prevailing mood melancholic, and Krobak never seem to lose the control they’re quick to establish on “Stringer Bell,” which curiously takes its name from a character on the tv show The Wire.

Sidorenko‘s guitar begins the opener and longest cut (immediate points) with circa-five minutes of trance-inducing guitar soundscapery. The effect that initial movement has on the listener isn’t to be understated. If approached with due patience — that is, so long as you know you’re not waiting for the song to “start,” and that you’re already in it — the subtle intertwining of layers, periodic washes of cymbals, and outstretching reverb are a joy in which to bask.

At about 2:30, it breaks to just the guitar again as the foundation is laid for what will become the remainder of “Stringer Bell”‘s run, a gradual march joined by soft ride and snare, and bass, with the arrival of what might be the violin (I’d also believe a horn of some kind) a couple minutes later. By then, the opener is moving toward the halfway mark and a build is clearly in progress.

krobak

More distorted tones push through in the second half, and there’s even a bit of faster thrust, some winding turns, and finally, a release of the tension before a final swirling surge, but Krobak never lose that patience in their execution, and as otherworldly effects noise rounds out the last minute-plus of “Stringer Bell” and fades to lead into the more immediately organic, string-led opening of “No Pressure, Choice is Yours,” that patience sets the tone for the entirety of Nightbound that follows.

As noted, the second cut is more active — at one point in the early going, it borders on surf rock — but it maintains a multifaceted feel with the guitar and violin working in and out of tandem with each other, serving similar purposes perhaps, but individually, as guitar, bass and drums gallop through the halfway point, Asya adding a choice fill right around 3:45, and finding common ground in the chugging build of the second movement, which ends cold and manages to feel short at seven minutes.

If one assumes a vinyl structure to Nightbound, that seven-minute runtime makes sense in fitting on a single, 20-minute side with “Stringer Bell,” and likewise, the pairing of “So Quietly Falls the Night” and “Marching for the Freedom We Have Lost” on side B works to fit not only in practical terms but thematically as well.

Two such evocative titles, positioned next to each other, invite the audience to provide their own context, but the prevailing vibe does so even more — a thoughtful moodiness, never quite despairing, but certainly wistful, almost nostalgic. Hard to position, but it runs deep in both the quiet early going and the later swell of “So Quietly Falls the Night,” which hits its crescendo in progressive guitar work and forward rhythmic charge, never out of control, never any more over the top than it wants to be before it gives way to the noise that once again rounds out.

Likewise for “Marching for the Freedom We Have Lost,” which, despite being instrumental like the rest of Nightbound actually finds Krobak naming the thing that has gone — in this case, freedom. In light of the conflict in the Ukraine over the last couple years, one can interpret that title in a number of ways, but sonically, it does indeed live up to being a march, if a subtle one. Natasha‘s drums form a consistent pattern around which the rest of the band moves, and even clearer than “So Quietly Falls the Night” or “Stringer Bell,” the finale holds to a linear pattern that proves to have an impact despite remaining somewhat understated as it peaks.

Most of all, it underscores the fluidity at hand across the release as a whole, the dreamy otherplaceness, and the underlying purposeful nature of the direction Krobak follow at any given point. Some might take it on just to get lost in its wash, and some might be drawn in by its ebbs and flows, but Nightbound stands up to multiple levels of engagement, and as looped snare leads the fading way out of “Marching for the Freedom We Have Lost,” it reminds once more of the balance between cohesion and sprawl that Krobak have brought to bear so organically throughout.

Krobak on Thee Facebooks

Krobak on Bandcamp

Krobak BigCartel store

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Green Meteor East Coast Tour Starts Nov. 9

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 27th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

green-meteor

Philly heavy psych fuzzblasters Green Meteor are currently looking for a home for their five-song debut album, Consumed by a Dying Sun. To herald its arrival, they’ve posted a rough version of the gleefully blown-out “Acute Emerald Elevation,” which I think is just fancy verbiage for getting high and which opens the record. One will find it preaching lysergics to the converted in a manner that should serve Green Meteor‘s spaciousness well as they hit the road next month for what I’m pretty sure is the first time, running part-way down the Eastern Seaboard and back up just in time to round out with a gig alongside none other than Hawkwind at Philadelphia’s rightly-esteemed Kung Fu Necktie.

Not a bad show to open by any means, and as they’ll also share stages with Virginian weirdos Buck Gooter and Nate Hall of U.S. Christmas, among others, they seem intent on making the trip worthwhile all the way through. May it be the first of many.

Also they’re willing to play your house on Nov. 11 if it’s between Asheville and Wilmington, North Carolina. Just saying.

Info, dates and audio follow:

green-meteor-tour

Green Meteor tour in a few weeks.

Climb aboard the mothership with us!

We have no show on Friday 11/11 and will be in travel distance between Asheville and Wilmington, NC. Anyone wanna have a ridiculous house party and have us play? Hit us up.

Green Meteor live:
11/09 – Harrisonburg VA @ Golden Pony w/ Buck Gooter, etc
11/10 – Asheville NC @ The Odditorium w/ Nate Hall, etc
11/11 – South Carolina
11/12 – Wilmington NC @ Reggies 42nd st Tavern w/ City of Medicine, etc
11/13 – Richmond VA w/ US Bastards
11/14 – Baltimore MD @ The Ottobar
11/16 – Philadelphia PA @ Kung Fu Necktie w/ HAWKWIND

GREEN METEOR IS…
Leta: Celestial Summonings & 6th Level Sonic Complexities
Amy: Explorations of the 6 Degrees of Freedom
Tony: Anti-Gravitational Percussive Reverberations Through Time Space Continuum
Algar: Anti-Cosmic Astral Verses & Journeys into the 4th Dimension

https://www.facebook.com/Green-Meteor-183210485410192/
https://greenmeteor.bandcamp.com/releases

Green Meteor, “Acute Emerald Elevation”

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