Naxatras, II: Kin to the Sun

Posted in Reviews on May 10th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

naxatras ii

Greek heavy psych trio Naxatras issued their second album with little by way of fanfare — just posting II on their Bandcamp page as a quick follow-up to the Thessaloniki outfit’s well-received 2015 self-titled full-length debut — and that method suits the stripped back nature of their musical approach as well. Comprised of six tracks that, if they’re not solely jams, certainly feel built out from them, II is a flowing exercise in organic execution, vinyl-ready at 37 minutes but even better taken as a front-to-back whole, an entire work the parts of which make each other stronger for the different sides of the band’s sound they represent. At their core, Naxatras are an instrumental band, and that remains true despite the vocals on “Sisters of the Sun” (perhaps a companion to the also-vocalized “Sun is Burning” from the debut).

A central running theme here is the chemistry between guitarist John Delias, bassist/vocalist John Vagenas and drummer Kostas Harizanis, the language they’ve learned to speak together since forming in 2012, and the fluidity they’re able to harness across these songs, which maintain the raw, live, analog feel of the debut, but feel more laid back in the consciousness of what they’re doing. The album was recorded live to reel-to-reel tape by Jesus I. Agnew at Magnetic Fidelity Studio, and particularly in Harizanis‘ drums, I think that comes through, but the tone in Delias‘ guitar and the ’60s garage psych-pop echo on Vagenas‘ vocals on “Sisters of the Sun” complement this natural feel with a lush vibe, so that there’s depth to the mix as well as movement in what Naxatras are playing, however fast, slow, active or still it might be.

In terms of bare influences, Colour Haze are an automatic touchstone for just about anything warm-toned and jammy in heavy psych, definitely out of Europe if not the world over, but Naxatras also indulge an experimental aspect — see the drum-led beginning of “The Great Attractor” — that makes II feel even more kin to Causa Sui in concept if not actual sound. Either way, their second offering would fall flat if they didn’t bring their own sonic identity to the proceedings, and fortunately they do. A quiet intro, “Oort Cloud,” begins with a faded-in drone and some minimal note plucking, a wash of cymbals, and a backwards guitar loop cuts to drums to start “Proxima Centauri,” which teases tension at its start but soon unfolds a languid spaciousness, delving into thicker tones and more driving rhythm as it moves toward its midsection, but ultimately defined by the serenity of its just-under-eight-minute expanse; not to take anything away from the nod at the end.


The aforementioned “Sisters of the Sun” picks up from there with appropriate luster in the guitar and shimmy on a tambourine, and as the only song with sung verses and choruses is of course a standout. Even more so for its classic psychedelic spirit than the simple fact that Vagenas put vocals on it, though. It wouldn’t be right to call Naxatras a retro band, but “Sisters of the Sun” is speaking to a tradition of psychedelic pop rock that feels drawn directly from 1967, and they do it remarkably well, Harizanis holding together an effective, simple swing as Delias takes a solo out to wander for a while in the back end of the track. In terms of chemistry, “Sisters of the Sun” is no less reliant on it than was “Proxima Centauri” or than is “The Great Attractor,” which follows, but even the fact that Naxatras would so purposefully switch up method of craft here proves a commitment to progressing their sound and continuing to push themselves to create in different ways.

With a more space rock-derived sense of thrust, “The Great Attractor” represents still another side of the band’s sound, and between the 10-minute jam “Garden of the Senses,” which follows as the penultimate cut, and the sax-laden “Evening Star,” which closes with a guest appearance from John‘s father, Alexis Vagenas, Naxatras have by no means told the full story stylistically. Their breadth is drawn together by the resonance of their tones and the chemistry underneath, but while the formula appears simple, that doesn’t necessarily mean nothing went into making it work. “Garden of the Senses” is a defining moment for side B of II in a similar way that “Sisters of the Sun” was for side A, though what it’s defining is much different. With the earlier track, it was about setting up the varied course to follow — with the later one, it’s getting lost in the exploration. Which is easy to do. Even the drums at the start are hypnotic, and what unfurls from there as the guitar and bass build in is only more entrancing.

They build and release tension through heavy psych nod and wind up in a peaceful psych jazz — something Jim Morrison might’ve seen fit to ruin with poetry — which works as well as a lead-in for “Evening Star,” which starts quiet only to be led by the saxophone, less constructed than anything Hypnos 69 ever did with a sax, but still with a memorable guitar line beneath leading a subdued march. As it makes its way toward the finish, “Evening Star” sort of falls apart, and a last blow of the horn is drawn into a pool of effects that fades out as the close. It’s as natural a finish as one might expect for II, which if the debut didn’t should most definitely mark the arrival of Naxatras within the European heavy psych community and possibly beyond. The subtle variety and sense of purpose they bring to this material is pivotal to absorbing (and being absorbed by) the flow between and within the tracks, and while they seem to be on a progressive course moving forward, I wouldn’t speculate where their journey might lead them their next time out. At the rate they’re working, we might find out soon anyhow.

Naxatras, II (2016)

Naxatras on Thee Facebooks

Naxatras on Bandcamp

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Naxatras Announce European Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 6th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

The ink is barely dry on Naxatras‘ newly-issued second full-length, II — which the Greek heavy psych trio dropped at the end of last week in the grand style of oh-hey-no-big-deal-but-here’s-our-record-and-actually-it’s-a-pretty-big-deal — and already they’ve followed up that bombshell with another in the form of a European tour for June and July to support it. Given the response to II, I’d expect these will be some shows to see, and while a couple dates in Italy at the start are still TBA, also included are slots at the Cheapstock fest in Barcelona and Red Smoke fest in Poland, so one could hardly accuse Naxatras of not covering a significant swath of ground as they get out to herald the new album’s arrival.

Shows are presented by Total Volume Agency, and if you haven’t heard it yet, the album is streaming below via the band’s Bandcamp page. Last report I heard — and this was like four days ago, mind you — a physical edition was due out sometime this month. Presumably that’s a CD, unless Naxatras have figured out a magic way to make vinyl records in less than the five months it seems to take everybody else on the planet, but I mention it mostly because their stuff sells quick, and if you want one, it’s best to keep your eye out for when it goes on sale.

The tour dates:

naxatras tour


This wouldn’t be possible without our friends from Total Volume and especially Andre who has worked against all odds for this!!

Get ready Europe…

Total Volume Agency Presents:
“II” European Summer Tour 2016
16.6 Bari (IT) TBA
17.6 (IT) TBA
18.6 Merano (IT) TBA
19.6 St. Gallen (CH) Rumpeltum
22.6 Bordeaux (FR) El Chicho
23.6 Lyon (FR) Le Trokson
24.6 Chambery (FR) Minimal Chords
25.6 Barcelona (ES) Cheapstock Fest
26.6 Zaragoza (ES) TBA
28.6 Lille (FR) Le Biplan
29.6 Ghent (BE) Kinky Star
30.6 Bielefeld (DE) Potemkin Bar
1.7 Ilmenau (DE) Baracke 5
2.7 Karlsruhe (DE) Dorfschanke
4.7 Freiburg (DE) Mensa Bar
6.7 Wien (AT) Viper Room
7.7 Jena (DE) Kulturbahnhof
8.7 Pleszew (PL) Red Smoke Fest
9.7 Budapest (HU) Durer Kert

Naxatras, II (2016)

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Stoned Jesus Touring South America Next Week

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 4th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

stoned-jesus (Photo by Gael Mathieu)

Ukrainian heavy rockers Stoned Jesus recently finished out a tour of Spain and France alongside Bordeaux’s Mars Red Sky. The Kiev trio are still supporting 2015’s The Harvest (review here), though a recent reissue of their 2011 EP, Stormy Monday, isn’t a bad excuse to get out either. In any case, the oft-traveling three-piece will head to South America for the first time this month for a run of shows in Chile, Argentina and Brazil, playing some gigs alongside Saturndust, soon to record a new album of their own with Gabriel Zander of Estudio Superfuzz. Of course, the tour is put on by Abraxas Events.

You might recall Stoned Jesus were slated to make their New World debut last summer at Psycho California, but were held up on visa issues. This year, in addition to a couple shows in Greece at the end of this month, they’re slated to perform in France at Hellfest in June and at SonicBlast Moledo in August, among others I’m sure that have been and are still to be announced.

Poster for the Sao Paolo show by Victor Bezzera and the full roster of dates for the tour follow here, courtesy of Abraxas:

stoned jesus hierophant

This is the first time Stoned Jesus come to the Americas, and first time starting from the South! They were supposed to play Psycho California last year but they got some trouble with their visas and the US tour never happened.

All arts by Victor Bezerra (

Below the list of dates:
8/5 – Santiago @ Club Rock y Guitarras
10/5 – Buenos Aires @ The Roxy Live
11/5 – Córdoba @ Casa Babylon
13/5 – Rio de Janeiro @ Teatro Odisséia
14/5 – São Paulo @ Inferno Club
15/5 – Florianópolis @ Célula Showcase

Stoned Jesus is:
Igor Sydorenko – vocals, guitars, Hammond organ, occasional keyboards and percussion
Sergii Sliusar – bass, FX, drummachine, backing vocals
Viktor Kondratov – drums, percussion, backing vocals

Stoned Jesus, The Harvest (2015)

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Naxatras Release New Album II

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


Upstart heavy psych trio Naxatras have issued their second album, II. It arrives less than a month after a prior two-songer, aptly-titled EP (discussed here), and only a year after the Greek outfit made their self-titled debut, which continues to sell through every pressing of it they do. The reception to that album still resonating, it feels quick for a follow-up, but as Naxatras are basking in instrumental chemistry born of psychedelic and space rock explorations, interpreting moods and vibes across II‘s six-track span, plus recording live, it makes sense that as soon as the jams were ready to go, they’d go. Working mostly instrumentally in the tradition of acts like Causa SuiNaxatras bring forth a classic psychedelic pop rock on “Sisters of the Sun,” the near-centerpiece of II, which will reportedly be granted a physical release later this month.

Info on the record follows as posted by the band, who’ve very quickly thrust themselves to the fore of Greece’s fertile heavy underground, and who play the official release show on May 22 at Death Disco in Athens:

naxatras ii

A homage to space travel, inner and outer…

We’d like to thank you so much for your warm reception of our second album!

This time we tried a different, darker and “spacier” attempt in order to capture the strange loneliness and spirituality of Space.

This is reflected in the sound, where with Jesus at Magnetic Fidelity we followed a more raw, minimalist approach with the Direct-to-Master recording (again every track of this album is performed 100% live).

It is also reflected in the magnificent, otherworldly cover our dear friend CHRIS RW delivered.

You can buy the complete album in digital form in bandcamp and there will be CD’s by the middle of May as well as DSD version for the audiophiles!

Cassettes and vinyl as well as a reel-to-reel version are on the line for the (hopefully near) future!

Naxatras, II (2016)

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The Western Mystics Stream The Last Western in Full

Posted in audiObelisk on April 28th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

the western mystics

On my first listen through of The Western Mystics‘ new live release, The Last Western (Live at Treefort 2016), all I had to go by was the waveform. I didn’t know the names of the songs they played, or where one started and one stopped, and while I’ve since been able to garner that information, I think the other way has a certain appeal as well. Not knowing where one piece ends and the next begins, The Last Western flows as a single entirety, and I’ve no doubt that’s exactly how it was presented at Treefort Music Fest 2016 last month in the band’s native Boise, Idaho, lush and psychedelic in some places, showcasing encouraging depth of ambience in quiet stretches with vocals as much as keys and/or baritone guitars, and taking off on flights of classically-styled progressive rock. In short, this is a band capturing the process of finding their sound on stage, live, as it happened.

That’s a pretty bold move for a group who, to-date, hasn’t yet released a studio outing of any form, but neither is it The Western Mystics‘ first time putting out a “bootleg” where a demo might otherwise appear. Then working as the trio of drummer/vocalist Brent Joel and baritone guitarists Travis X. Abbott (rhythm) and Nik Kososik (lead; also of Sun Blood Stories), the western mystics live at treefort 2016they made their debut last fall with Once upon a Time in the Cosmos (discussed here), establishing a space-and-Western thematic blend that continues however many months later into the Treefort performance, which also introduces keyboardist/vocalist Riley Anne Johnson. Her work here is not to be understated in refining the textures of this material. The richness keys bring alongside the depth of tone from Abbott and Kososik is evident throughout, whether that’s organ keeping up with the guitars in “Running from the Living,” the opening movement, or Rhodes-style note droplets bolstering the drones of the penultimate “Sea that has Become Known.”

At this point, I could tell you where exactly where each track starts and ends between “Running from the Living” and “Running from the Dying,” which closes with an apex of Magma-style progressive bounce, but I honestly think you’re better off like I was, making your way through the entirety of The Last Western (Live at Treefort 2016) without knowing and then hitting up The Western Mystics‘ Bandcamp to find the runtimes and how it all divides up as the band work their way closer to where they want to be sound-wise and stylistically through this material. It’s only been a few months since Once upon a Time in the Cosmos (on which “Running from the Living” also appeared), and that leads one to hope it won’t be much longer before a studio recording of one sort or another surfaces from The Western Mystics, who even on stage show themselves as being able to pull elements from various genres — prog rock, heavy psych, post-rock, drone, etc. — in order to service an individualized intent. I look forward, in other words, to nerding out over their debut. Whenever it might arrive.

Stream The Last Western (Live at Treefort 2016in full below. You’ll find more info on the release beneath the player.

Please enjoy:

The Western Mystics on The Last Western:

As far as our plans go, we are constantly writing new material, especially due to our newest member, Riley Johnson, on the keys. We are going to play some out of town dates in Washington and Oregon this summer with other Treefort Alumni and hope to keep pushing out new material.

We as a band are definitely fans of improvisation and writing on the fly so we can guarantee our next batch of songs won’t be anything like the previous.

Recorded Live at Neurolux for Treefort Music Fest V on 03/23/2016

1. Running from the Living
2. See You In Space
3. The Scary Can Be A Psyche Place
4. Intramolecular Summit
5. Sea That Has Become Known
6. Running from the Dying

All songs written by Brent Joel, Riley Anne Johnson, Nik Kososik & Travis X. Abbott

Brent Joel – Drums, Vocals
Riley Anne Johnson – Keys, Vocals
Nik Kososik – Lead Baritone
Travis X. Abbott – Rhythm Baritone

Live mix by Eric Penney & Lawrence Van Bishop at Neurolux. Mastered by Travis X. Abbott. Special thanks to: Tyler Walker (lights & visual effects). Photo credit: Cameron Andreas.

The Western Mystics on Thee Facebooks

The Western Mystics on Bandcamp

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Moon Tooth and Rozamov Announce Tour Dates

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

In a little less than a month, Long Island prog-metallers Moon Tooth head out on tour to support their latest album, Chromaparagon, which was released in February. They’ll be doing essentially a month-long swing down and back up the Eastern Seaboard, playing New England with Warm at the end of May, pushing into the South early in June, and then cutting back north, meeting up with Boston trio Rozamov to continue into Upstate New York and into Canada for shows in Montreal and Toronto before rounding out June 20 in Burlington, Vermont.

All put together, it’s a not inconsiderable run, and hardly Moon Tooth‘s first, the band over the last several years having basically forced their way into East Coast the progressive consciousness through hard work and volume. As noted below, this is the first time both of these acts will hit Canada, and Rozamov do so ahead of the release of their much anticipated debut album, due out later this year. They’ll apparently be playing new material at these shows.

Word came down the PR wire:

moon tooth rozamov poster

Long Island progressive sludge rock weirdos Moon Tooth and Boston atmospheric sludge mongers Rozamov have announced a string of dates together this June. This will be both bands’ first excursion north of the border, hitting both Montreal and Toronto on this run. Moon Tooth are supporting their self released debut LP “Chromaparagon” which has reached numbers 85 and 120 on the Hard Rock and Best New Artist charts respectively.

Rozamov recently wrapped up the recording for their own first full length, and will be airing songs from the album on this run. Last year saw Rozamov release “Ghost Divine” on a split with Deathkings via Midnite Collective.

June 16th – Kingston, NY @ The Anchor
June 17th – Rochester, NY @ Monty’s Krown
June 18th – Montreal, CAN @ Crobar
June 19th – Toronto, CAN @ Smiling Buddha
June 20th – Burlington, VT @ Nectar’s

Moon Tooth, Chromaparagon (2016)

Rozamov, “Ghost Divine” from split with Deathkings (2015)

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Stone Machine Electric Premiere “I am Fire” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 27th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

stone machine electric

Wade patiently into the murky depths of Stone Machine Electric‘s first single from their new album, Sollicitus es Veritatem, and imagine that the Texas two-piece are setting the stage on which, as the title indicates, nightmares might become reality. Of course, the nightmare they’re talking about — at least if the album artwork is anything to go by — is 30-plus years of Republican anti-government rhetoric coming home to roost, but that otherworldly sense of darkness is evident in the opening of “I am Fire” as well. And as much as Stone Machine Electric — the duo of guitarist/vocalist William “Dub” Irvin and drummer/vocalist/Thereminist Mark Kitchensstone-machine-electric-posterteased jammy vibes with their late 2015 EP, The Amazing Terror (review here), “I am Fire” does wind up with a hook to go with its rolling groove, centering the nightmare in a real-world structure.

As much as this is the real world, anyway.

As previously announced, The Obelisk is presenting Stone Machine Electric‘s release show for Sollicitus es Veritatem, which takes place at The Grotto in Fort Worth on May 27 and finds Dub and Kitchens joined by FoggThinman Conspiracy and The FTW. My reasoning for climbing on board for said event was pretty simple: I dig Stone Machine Electric a lot. Their material has always kind of a weirdo underpinning, whether they’re working in open structured jams or more grounded songcraft, and in combination with a richness of tone often captured by Wo Fat‘s Kent Stump, the appeal is that you never quite know what Stone Machine Electric are going to do next. You’ll know what I mean as “I am Fire” jumps from its intro into the nod of the first verse. They’re still able to catch their audience off guard. I like that.

Sollicitus es Veritatem is out May 17 — though if you’re in Europe, you can apparently buy copies from Wo Fat‘s merch table now — and you can find the premiere of the “I am Fire” video below.

Please enjoy:

Stone Machine Electric, “I am Fire” official video

The Obelisk presents “I Am Fire” – the first track off Stone Machine Electric’s anticipated album “Sollicitus Es Veritatem”. The new album is set to be released May 17th, 2016.

Stone Machine Electric on Thee Facebooks

Stone Machine Electric on Bandcamp

Release show event page

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Dinosaur Eyelids Post “Vernal Equinox” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 26th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster

dinosaur eyelids

New Jersey-based heavy rockers Dinosaur Eyelids are currently in their seventh year and working on their fifth album. Their last offering, Bypass to Nowhere — even as I know the exact bypass they’re talking about I can’t help but wonder why it always comes back to highways with New Jersey — was released in 2014 and among its featured tracks is the spacey, jammy “Vernal Equinox.” And it just so happens that Dinosaur Eyelids have a new video for that song put together with satellite/ISS views from space, performance footage that I’m pretty sure comes from the Court Tavern in New Brunswick, some cool sunspots and so on.

Point is I doubt it’s anything you’d see paired with the track itself and think it’s out of place. While I think I’ll always hear an underlying edge of aggression in anything from my formerly beloved Garden State, Dinosaur Eyelids are at very least toning it way down here, I guess leaving the crunchier vibes for album cuts like “Halo Judgment” and “Talkin’ to Me” while the bulk of the record basks in a post-grunge alternamelodic looseness, and if it’s disaffection, well, at least it’s disaffection in the summertime humidity. These guys have always been right on the line between what I think fits around here and what doesn’t, and I won’t speak for their currently-in-progress next record, but at least this song works.

Find the “Vernal Equinox” video below, and enjoy:

Dinosaur Eyelids, “Vernal Equinox” official video

Official music video from the album “Bypass to Nowhere”

We’d like to take a moment to clear up some of the rumors currently circulating in the media. Yes, we are in the studio working on our fifth album. Yes, it is better than anything we’ve ever done. Yes, we are working with music legend Ed Wilson as our producer. Yes, Mark has impregnated all of the Kardashians.

We hope this clears things up.

Thanks to everyone who came out to our ALS Benefit Show at John in Peter’s (New Hope, PA) in December! We raised almost $1,000 for a very good cause. Thank you also to everyone who came to our big return to the Court Tavern (New Brunswick, NJ) on March 4th. It was our 20th show in the basement and definitely one of the best.

Dinosaur Eyelids on Thee Facebooks

Dinosaur Eyelids on Bandcamp

Dinosaur Eyelids website

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