Hypnodrone Ensemble to Release Plays Orchestral Favourites Oct. 26

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 5th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

hypnodrone ensemble

As a five-minute sampling of the upcoming album, Plays Orchestral Favourites, ‘Serial Staging’ presents Hypnodrone Ensemble‘s ambient breadth as encompassing and far-ranging in kind. Tracked as a nine-piece in true-enough “ensemble” fashion, the offering is due out Oct. 26 through Wolves and Vibrancy and features at its core the likes of Aidan Baker of Nadja and Thisquietarmy‘s Eric Quach. It’ll be their third record but first through Wolves and Vibrancy, and will feature arrangements of violin, baritone guitar and synth alongside drones, three drummers and, one assumes, whatever else they could possibly think of at that given moment. Sounds like fun to me.

I’m not always able to keep up with Aidan Baker‘s prolific output — who possibly could? — but I’ll point out that I don’t think I’ve ever checked out anything he’s been involved in, be it Nadja, his solo work, or some other collaboration, and been sorry I did. Considering how much he’s put out, that’s a significant track record.

News from the PR wire:

hypnodrone ensemble plays orchestral favorites

Hypnodrone Ensemble – Ambient Space Rock Collective Featuring Members Of Nadja, thisquietarmy And Caudal Share New Track “Serial Staging”

Hypnodrone Ensemble have recently shared the first track off their forthcoming new album “Plays Orchestral Favourites”, which is set for release on October 26th via Wolves And Vibrancy Records.

Titled “Serial Staging”, this new track is now playing at this location.

Hypnodrone Ensemble was formed in Berlin in 2014 by the Canadian experimental/ambient guitars Aidan Baker (also of Nadja) and Eric Quach (aka Thisquietarmy), along with the drummers David Dunnett, Jérémie Mortier (also of Alice In The Cities, Nearest Gas Station), and Felipe Salazar (also of Caudal).

A quintet at its core, though occasionally expanding or changing members, the group creates free-form, semi-improvisational studies in rhythmic, psychedelic, atmospheric spacerock. Hypnodrone Ensemble released its self-titled debut, a live recording from NK in Berlin, on Consouling Sounds in 2014 and followed that up with the studio album, The Shape of Space, released on Calostro Recordings and Little Crack’d Rabbit Records in 2015.

Following an expanded line-up performance in 2016 in Berlin, the group returned to the studio in 2017 to record ‘Plays Orchestral Favourites’ as a 9-piece group, with Simon Goff (also Molecular, Bee And Flower) on violin, Duchamp on baritone guitar, Felix-Florian Tödtloff (ex-Sun Worship) on bass, and Diego Ferri on synths.

https://www.facebook.com/AidanBakerMusic
https://www.facebook.com/thisquietarmy
http://wolvesandvibrancyrecords.com
https://wolvesandvibrancyrecords.bandcamp.com

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Quarterly Review: Glanville, Destroyer of Light, The Re-Stoned, Ruff Majik, Soldat Hans, High Priestess, Weed Demon, Desert Storm, Ancient Altar, Black Box Warning

Posted in Reviews on July 17th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

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

So Day 1’s done and it’s time to move on to Day 2. Feeling stressed and totally overwhelmed by the sheer amount of stuff still to be done? Why yes, I am. Thanks for asking. In the past, I used to handle the Quarterly Review well ahead of time. It’s always a lot to get through, but the week before, I’d be setting up back ends, chasing down links and Bandcamp players, starting reviews, etc., so that when it came time, all I had to do was the writing and plug it all into a post and I was set.

There was some prep-work done this past weekend, but especially this time, with my old laptop having been stolen in May, it’s all been way more jazz-improv. I was still adding releases as of last Friday, and writing beforehand? Shit. With the baby having just figured out how to climb? Not bloody likely. Accordingly, here we are, with much to do.

It’ll get done. I haven’t flubbed a Quarterly Review yet, and if I took an extra day to get there, I’m under no delusion that anyone else would care. So there you go. Let’s hit it for Day 2:

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Glanville, First Blood

glanville first blood

First Blood is the aptly-titled five-song debut EP from Glanville, a newcomer dual-guitar outfit with established players Philip Michel (The Earwix) on lead and Christopher West (Named by the Sun, ex-Stubb, etc.) on rhythm, Wight’s Peter-Philipp Schierhorn on bass and René Hofmann on vocals, and Thomas Hoffman (ex-Bushfire) on drums. Based in Germany and the UK, the group present 23 minutes of material on their first outing, drawing from the guitar-led likes of Thin Lizzy and Judas Priest to capture early metal and present it with a heavy rocking soulfulness and modern production. The most raucous of the cuts might be centerpiece “Durga the Great,” but neither “God is Dead” nor “Dancing on Fire” before nor “Demons” and “Time to Go” after want for action, and especially the latter builds to a furious head to close out the release. Hofmann as a standalone singer wants for nothing in range or approach, and the band behind him obviously build on their collective experience to dig into a stylistic nuance rarely executed with such confidence. They’ve found a place willfully between and are working to make it theirs. Can’t ask for more than that.

Glanville on Thee Facebooks

Glanville on Bandcamp

 

Destroyer of Light, Hopeless

destroyer of light hopeless

Having just recently signed to Argonauta Records for a new album in 2019, Austin doomers Destroyer of Light follow their 2017 long-player, Chamber of Horrors (review here), with a further auditory assault in the lumbering Hopeless. Psychedelic and yet still somehow traditional doom lingers in the brain after “Nyx” and “Drowned” have finished – the latter with an Alan Watts sample discussing alcoholism – and the band moves into demos for Chamber of Horrors cuts “Into the Smoke,” “Lux Crusher” and “Buried Alive.” Between the two previously unreleased songs and those three demos, Hopeless pushes to 39 minutes, but it’s probably still fair to call it an EP because of the makeup. Either way, from the miserable plod of “Nyx,” in which each chug in the riff cycle seems to count another woe, to the rolling nod early and surprising melody late in “Drowned,” Hopeless is anything but. Anticipation was already pretty high for Destroyer of Light’s next record after the last one, but all Hopeless does is show further depth of approach and more cleverly-wielded atmospheric murk. And the more it sounds like there’s no escape, the more Destroyer of Light seem to be in their element.

Destroyer of Light on Thee Facebooks

Destroyer of Light on Bandcamp

 

The Re-Stoned, Stories of the Astral Lizard

the re-stonEd stories of the astral lizard

The inevitable question is “Why a lizard?” and if you make it four minutes into 11-minute opener “Fractal Panorama” and don’t have your answer, go back ad start over. Moscow heavy psych instrumentalists The Re-Stoned intend the reptile as a spirit guide for their new outing Stories of the Astral Lizard (on Oak Island Records), which follows quickly behind their late-2017 offering, Chronoclasm (review here), and given the ultra-patient desert vibes in the opener, the acoustic-laced folk-prog of “Mental Print for Free,” the languid meander of “A Companion from the Outside,” the swirling sprawl of the 16-minute “Two Astral Projections” and the final cowpoke drift of “The Heather Carnival,” one might indeed just find a lizard sunning its belly amid all the atmospheric evocations and hallucinatory vibes. I’ll take “Two Astral Projections” as the highlight, but mostly because the extra length allows the band to really dig in, but really the whole album feeds together gorgeously and is a new level of achievement when it comes to atmosphere for The Re-Stoned, who were already underappreciated and find themselves only more so now.

The Re-Stoned on Thee Facebooks

Oak Island Records on Thee Facebooks

 

Ruff Majik, Seasons

Ruff Majik Seasons

Right on fuzz, right on groove, right on vibe – there isn’t much else one might say about Ruff Majik’s Seasons (on Rock Freaks Records and Forbidden Place Records) beyond “right on.” Heavy rock with twists of psychedelia, the Pretoria, South Africa, three-piece of Johni Holliday, Jimi Glass and Benni Manchino make their home on the lines of various subgenres, but wherever they go, the proceedings remain decisively heavy. To wit, a cut like “Breathing Ghosts” or the later “Birds Stole My Eyes” might dig into shuffle boogie or extreme-metal-derived thrust, but there’s a chemistry between the members and a resonant looseness that ties the material together, and as the last 14 of the total 66 minutes are dedicated to “Asleep in the Leaves,” there’s plenty of progressive weirdness in which to bask, one song moving through the next such that neither “Hanami Sakura (And the Ritual Suicide” nor the semi-doom-plodding “The Deep Blue” nor the funky twists of “Tar Black Blood” come across as predictable. Seasons might take a few listens to sink in, but it’s easily worth that effort.

Ruff Majik on Thee Facebooks

Ruff Majik at Rock Freaks Records webstore

Forbidden Place Records on Bandcamp

 

Soldat Hans, Es Taut

SOLDAT HANS ES TAUT-750

Hyperbole-worthy post-ism from Switzerland’s Soldat Hans makes their sophomore outing, Es Taut – on Wolves and Vibrancy Records as a 2LP – a forward thinking highlight. As rich in atmosphere as Crippled Black Phoenix and as lethal as Converge or Neurosis or anyone else you might dare to put next to them, the six-piece made their debut with 2014’s Dress Rehearsal (review here) and served notice of their cross-genre ambitiousness. Es Taut finds them four years later outclassing themselves and most of the rest of the planet across three extended tracks – “Story of the Flood” (26:15), “Schoner Zerbirst, Part I” (8:03) and “Schoner Zerbirst, Part II” (18:56) – that sprawl out with a confidence, poise and abrasion that is nothing short of masterful. Es Taut may be a case of a band outdoing their forebears, but whatever their legacy becomes and however many people take notice, Soldat Hans singlehandedly breathe life into the form of post-metal and prove utterly vital in so doing, not only making it their own, but pushing forward into something new in ambience and heft. This is what a band sounds like while making themselves indispensable.

Soldat Hans on Thee Facebooks

Wolves and Vibrancy Records website

 

High Priestess, High Priestess

high priestess high priestess

Calling to order a nod that’s immersive from the opening strains of leadoff/longest-track “Firefly” (still immediate points), Los Angeles trio High Priestess build out the psych-doom ritualizing of their 2017 demo (review here) to make their self-titled full-length debut through Ripple Music. The difference between the demo and the album in terms of what’s included comes down to artwork and the track “Take the Blame,” which adds its bell-of-the-ride swing between the atmosphere and melodic focus of “Banshee” and the spacious roller “Mother Forgive Me.” Potential is writ large throughout from guitarist/vocalist Katie Gilchrest, bassist/vocalist Mariana Fiel and drummer Megan Mullins, as it was on their demo, and even the harsh growls/screams on “Despise” seem to have found their place within the proceedings. As they wrap with the guitar-led jam of “Earth Dive,” High Priestess put the finishing touch on what’s hands-down one of 2018’s best debut albums and offer a reminder that as much potential as there is in their sound for future development, the accomplishments here are considerable unto themselves.

High Priestess on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music website

 

Weed Demon, Astrological Passages

weed demon astrological passages

Four tracks of gurgling riffy plunder pervade Astrological Passages, the 41-minute – longer if you get the digital version or the tape/CD, which includes the 7:24 “Dominion of Oblivion” – debut album from Columbus, Ohio’s Weed Demon. Delivered on vinyl through Electric Valley Records, the nodder/plodder carves out a cave for itself within a mountain of tonally thick stoner metal riffing, infusing a sense of sludge with shouted and growled vocals from guitarists Andy and Brian and bassist Jordan – only drummer Chris doesn’t get a mic – and an overarching sense of bludgeoning that’s Sleep-derived if not Sleep-adjacent in terms of its actual sound. Nasty? Why, yes it is, but as “Sigil of the Black Moon” heads toward the midpoint of its 10-minute run, the repetitive groove assault makes the band’s intention plain: worship weed, worship riff. They get faster on “Primordial Genocide” and even sneak a bit of speed in amidst the crawl before the banjo takes hold in the second half of 12-minute closer “Jettisoned” – more Americana sludge please; thank you – but they never lose sight of their mission, and it’s the uniting factor that makes their debut hit like the brick to the head that it is.

Weed Demon on Thee Facebooks

Electric Valley Records website

 

Desert Storm, Sentinels

desert storm sentinels

With Sentinels, Oxford, UK, five-piece Desert Storm pass a decade since making their self-titled debut in 2008. They followed that with 2010’s Forked Tongues (review here), 2013’s Horizontal Life and 2014’s Omniscient (review here), and though they had a single out in 2014 on H42 Records as a split with Suns of Thunder (review here) in 2016, Sentinels is their first outing on APF Records and their first long-player in four years. Burl has always been an important factor in what they do, and the High on Fire-meets-Orange Goblin slamming of “The Brawl” backs that up, but Desert Storm have left much of the hyper-dudeliness behind in favor of a more complex approach, and while Sentinels isn’t a minor undertaking at 10 songs and 51 minutes, longer cuts like “Kingdom of Horns” and “Convulsion” demonstrate the maturity they’ve brought to bear, even as the one-two punch of “Drifter”  and “The Extrovert” offer swinging-fist hooks and beard-worthy chug that assures any and all testosterone quotas are met.

Desert Storm on Thee Facebooks

APF Records on Bandcamp

 

Ancient Altar, Cosmic Purge/Foie Gras

ancient altar cosmic purge foie gras

Based in Los Angeles, Ancient AltarScott Carlson (bass/vocals), Barry Kavener (guitar/vocals), Jesse Boldt (guitar) and Etay Levy (drums) – were last heard from on 2015’s dug-in atmosludger Dead Earth (review here), and they return lo these several years later with the two-tracker Cosmic Purge/Foie Gras, pushing into more extreme crush-of-riff with an abandon that’s anything but reckless. On the contrary, there’s some clear development in the 10-minute “Cosmic Purge” and 13-minute “Foie Gras,” rolling out oppressive grooves with blended screams/shouts and cleaner vocals. As with the last album, a drive toward individuality is central here, and Ancient Altar get there in tone while bringing forth a sense of scope to a sound so regularly thought of as closed off or off-putting in general. In its early going, “Foie Gras” hypnotizes with echoing melody and spaciousness only to resolve itself in a deeply weighted dirge march, furthering the pummel of “Cosmic Purge” itself. I don’t know if the EP – on vinyl through Black Voodoo Records, CD on Transcendental Void Records – will lead toward another album or not, but the sense of progression in Ancient Altar’s style is right there waiting to be heard, so here’s hoping.

Ancient Altar on Thee Facebooks

Black Voodoo Records on Thee Facebooks

 

Black Box Warning, Attendre la Mort

black box warning attendre la mort

Listen to it on headphones and the kickdrum on Black Box Warning’s Attendre la Mort is downright painful. Next-level blown-out aggro pulsations. Brutal in a physical sense. The rest of the band doesn’t follow far behind in that regard. Riffs are viscous and violent in noise rock tradition, but denser in their tone despite some underlying punkishness, and the vocals are likewise distorted and abrasive. The five-song/23-minute EP’s title translates to “Waiting for Death,” and each of the tracks is a dose: Opener “5 mg” is followed by “4 mg,” “1 mg,” “2 mg” and “3 mg.” Unsurprisingly, pills are a theme, particularly on “4 mg,” and the sense of violent threat is clear in “2 mg” and 3 mg,” which boast lines like, “Watch them all scream/Watch your enemy bleeded,” and “You are the pig/I am the butcher,” respectively. Between the lyrical and the general aural cruelty, the dis-ease is consuming and unmitigated, sludge becoming a slow-motion grindcore, and that’s clearly the point. Not stabbing, but gouging.

Black Box Warning on Thee Facebooks

Black Box Warning on Bandcamp

 

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Soldat Hans to Release Es Taut April 28

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 27th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

solldat hans

This band is fucking awesome. I’m serious. You like Amenra? That’s cool. Soldat Hans are better. You think Cult of Luna are the shit? Soldat Hans will eat your fucking soul. I said as much when they put out Dress Rehearsal (review here) in 2014, but they’re something special, and having now listened to the follow-up, Es Taut, which is out at the end of April via Wolves and Vibrancy Records, their potency has diminished none in the intervening four years between releases. Some music is just powerful. That’s pretty much the story here.

You can stream the 26-minute opener “Story of the Flood” at the bottom of this post, and I recommend you do so. Es Taut has more melody but no less impact than its predecessor, and yeah, it basically makes mincemeat out of the current sphere of post-metal, atmospheric sludge, or whatever the hell else you might want to call it. Will be on my best of 2018 list for sure. Already is, in fact.

From the PR wire:

Soldat Hans Es Taut

Soldat Hans – Es Taut – Wolves And Vibrancy Records

Switzerland-based sextet Soldat Hans began their career as an instrumental noise band playing solely improvised sets. The turning point happened around 2013 when they settled to write some material for their first album “Dress Rehearsal”, which was released in November 2014. Taking their name from the old fairytale “Des Teufels russiger Bruder” by the brothers Grimm, the sound of Soldat Hans somehow echoed the desolate feeling of this very tale, also making reference to others like Mahler and Schubert. “Dress Rehearsal” was an adventurous journey crossing disparate musical genres like doom, post-rock, drone and dark jazz.

After playing numerous gigs in support of their debut album the Swiss group now returns with their sophomore album, “Es Taut”. A three song album spanning 54 minutes, “Es Taut” was recorded in Winterthur by Philip Harrison, who also recorded the band’s debut, and mastered by Magnus Lindberg in Stockholm. The album sees the band following the same trajectory explored on “Dress Rehearsal”, merging elements of doom, post-rock, drone and dark jazz to craft music that sounds utterly depressing, haunting and enigmatic and yet extremely engaging.

Tracklisting:
1. Story Of The Flood 26:15
2. Schoner Zerbirst Part I 8:03
3. Schoner Zerbirst Part II 18:56

Soldat Hans is:
Omar – Guitar, Vocals
Tobias – Guitar
Omar – Guitar
Jonathan – Bass
Clemens – Keys
Justin – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/soldathansband/
https://soldathans.bandcamp.com/
https://soldathans.org/
http://wolvesandvibrancyrecords.com
https://www.facebook.com/wolvesandvibrancyrecords
https://wolvesandvibrancyrecords.bandcamp.com

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Hundred Year Old Man Announce Rei EP out Jan. 26; Title-Track Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 30th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

hundred year old man

Got nine minutes to spare and a skull that wants cleaving? If so, Leeds-based post-sludgers Hundred Year Old Man would like to share with you the title-track of their forthcoming debut EP, Rei. Set for release on Jan. 26 through Gizeh Records and Wolves and Vibrancy Records, Rei answers the band’s initial single “Black Fire” and while I usually see phrases like “debut EP” and wistfully remember the days when we called such things “demos” and left it at that, I think a listen to “Rei” itself — stream it at the bottom of this post — justifies the distinction in its cohesiveness and bludgeonry alike. In other words, it’s pretty clear these cats know what they’re doing.

I haven’t heard the full thing yet, but the groove on “Rei” kind of kicked my ass, so here’s info from the PR wire including current and future live dates:

hundred year old man rei

HUNDRED YEAR OLD MAN ANNOUNCE NEW EP

Leeds-based post-metal six-piece Hundred Year Old Man follow up their stunning debut single Black Fire with Rei, a three track EP, released via Gizeh Records and Wolves & Vibrancy on January 26th. Rei is released as a limited 12” vinyl with an etched b-side in an edition of 300. With a debut album due for release in 2018, this EP is the perfect offering to stoke the fires for a full-length whilst comfortably holding its own as a stand-alone piece of work.

Pre-orders are now open and we have an assortment of different bundles on offer. These will ship in late January. Hundred Year Old Man take to the road in February in support of the release. Stream the lead track from the EP below.

Pushing even further into the abyss, this new work opens with Sun & Moon and a monstrous slab of heaving guitars fall out of the atmospheric beginnings. Paul Broughton’s vocal erupts and the track explodes into life, destroying everything in its path until the shadows return to close, leading the way into an interlude that corrodes and drifts before joining these two monolithic pieces together. The title track demonstrates the staggering ambition that Hundred Year Old Man posses. Ripping into a cathartic sludge reminiscent of Neurosis at their best, it’s a towering, immersive, nine minute journey that refuses to loosen its grip until the dying moments.

TOUR DATES
02.12 – Newcastle (UK) – Byker Grave Festival
02.12 – Bradford (UK) – Lizardfest
15.12 – Nottingham (UK) – The Angel
01.02 – London (UK) – The Black Heart
02.02 – Boulogne (FR) – L’Horloge
03.02 – Paris (FR) – Olymipic Cafe
04.02 – Mouscron (FR) – El Bar
06.02 – Hamburg (DE) – AstraStube
07.02 – Braunschweig (DE) – Nexus
08.02 – Prague (CZ) – Eternia
09.02 – Berlin (DE) – Nuke Club
16.02 – Birmingham (UK) – tba w/ Nadja
17.02 – Manchester (UK) – Gizehfest
21.02 – Liverpool (UK) 27 Club
?23.02 – Sheffield (UK) Mulberry
+ more to be announced

http://facebook.com/hundredyearoldman
http://twitter.com/hyomband
http://instagram.com/hundredyearoldman
http://www.gizehrecords.com/
https://www.facebook.com/gizehrecords
http://wolvesandvibrancyrecords.com/
https://www.facebook.com/wolvesandvibrancyrecords/

Hundred Year Old Man, “Rei”

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