Wovenhand, Star Treatment: All Your Waves

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 22nd, 2016 by JJ Koczan

wovenhand-star-treatment

This year marks 15 since the beginning of Wovenhand. The band was founded by songwriter, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist David Eugene Edwards as his prior outfit, 16 Horsepower was on the wain. Their self-titled debut (discussed here) arrived in 2002, followed by a partial remake, Blush Music in 2003 and the sophomore outing, Consider the Birds, in 2004. A decade ago, Wovenhand released Mosaic, their third album, and though one could still hear some flashes of 16 Horsepower‘s alternative Americana banjo in songs like “Swedish Purse,” it was more than established by then that the band had wider intentions.

Ever since, they’ve released full-lengths on the even years — Ten Stones in 2008, The Threshingfloor (discussed here) in 2010, The Laughing Stalk (review here) in 2012, and Refractory Obdurate (review here) in 2014 — regularly checking in on a progression of sound that has seen them become much more band than project, delving into a heavier, deeper-toned style still defined in large part by Edwards‘ voice and approach to songcraft, but nonetheless more outwardly weighted.

That was especially true of Refractory Obdurate, and in some ways it applies to the eighth long-player, Star Treatment (on Sargent House in the US and Glitterhouse in the EU), as well, though as Wovenhand once grew less and less beholden to neofolk, it now grows less beholden to ideas of what it means to be heavy. Wovenhand‘s work has always been atmospheric, but in listening to the spacious drone experimentation of second track “Swaying Reed” after the full-sprint leadoff “Come Brave,” what they make most readily clear is a focus on breadth rather than intensity, the idea that the process has grown more open over time, not more closed.

Edwards, on guitar and vocals, is joined in Wovenhand by guitarist Chuck French, bassist Neil Keener, percussionist Ordy Garrison and keyboardist Matthew Smith, and like its predecessor, Star Treatment was recorded and mixed by Sanford Parker, so there’s sonic continuity to be found between the two for sure, but the band has never ceased moving forward in one if not multiple directions, and that’s the case in these 11 tracks/54 minutes as well, the opening salvo signaling precisely that kind of multifaceted growth.

With the hard-snare punctuation of “Come Brave” and the post-Swans goth-lysergic pulse of “Swaying Reed” — it does sway — “The Hired Hand” could just about go anywhere, but it’s probably closer to the opener in its emergent shuffle, though it provides the first of several opportunities throughout Star Treatment for Smith‘s keyboards to stand out. Just after the chorus, marked out by the line “give up your dead,” there’s a push of keyboard at the fore the mix that carries into the next verse, and while Wovenhand have had any number of piano, organ, and other key-based instruments in their often complex arrangements throughout the years, rarely have they let them sound so brazenly synthesized.

It adds a psychedelic touch momentarily to “The Hired Hand” and will crop up again soon enough in “Crook and Flail” after “Crystal Palace,” with which it seems paired in part by the memorable hooks around which they both seem to work, “Crystal Palace”‘s more straightforward à la “Come Brave” or “The Hired Hand,” and “Crook and Flail” playing off minor key Eastern spaciousness, still distinctly American in its rhythm, Garrison once more making an impression on drums and a variety of other percussive instruments as he has over the last several records.

wovenhand

What would seem to be the end of side A comes with the quieter start of “The Quiver,” a sort of calming lull that launches with the last of its four minutes into bombast outdoing anything Star Treatment has yet had on offer in its wash of noise and chaotic-feeling surge, Edwards seeming to be at the center of this storm, making obscure proclamations.

Still, the moodier turn is important because it is a major factor in how the second half of Star Treatment plays out, beginning with the near-eight-minute “All Your Waves,” the longest track included by a decent margin, which does not explode deep in its run, but holds to its melancholy poetry and keeps a sense of movement with a far-back but consistent percussion line, shaker or maybe tambourine or could even be a hi-hat, but its enough to hold together its not-sparse-but-wide-open surroundings, and just before six minutes in a heavier distorted guitar line takes hold and it seems like “All Your Waves” might burst forward like “The Quiver” before it, but instead, the guitar simply holds its place and becomes a drone-style ending, swirling forward just as it rounds out into the start of “Golden Blossom,” with a signature blend of acoustic and bright-toned electric guitar.

Keys return, but are more subtle behind the guitar and bass and while Garrison will add cymbal punctuation more for the final chorus, Wovenhand avoid the trap of falling into a build or even teasing one. The vocal melody leads the way through a love song lyric, and for a moment, a portion the severity of songs like “The Quiver” and “Swaying Reed” or “The Hired Hand” is let go. “Go Ye Light” brings some of it back, if only in the more distinct drumming, but is ultimately more about ambience than push, a wisp of lead guitar standing out toward the midpoint that will return again behind the chorus at the end to engaging effect, but it’s “Five by Five” that further revives the impact of Star Treatment‘s early going as it makes its way toward the closer.

Forward distortion and drums are tied to a subdued start by a sparse piano figure before feedback fades into the start of “Low Twelve,” which as the finale would seem to speak directly to the album’s star-minded theme, cosmic in its sensibility and perspective but still held to the earth — repetitions of “heavenly bodies” make for a clever lyrical play even in light of Edwards‘ well-documented and oft-represented Christian faith. This interplay of land and ether would seem to be the central duality at work across the album as a whole.

Likewise, they end neither with bang nor whimper, but on steady ground, and the lasting effect of Star Treatment is even more about the breadth in the music than its thrust, which is a marked departure from Refractory Obdurate and a potential sign of things to come for Wovenhand as a whole. I wouldn’t actually speculate in that regard — because one just never knows — but it has happened that what started out as moments of flourish later became foundations for Edwards‘ songwriting.

The only real safe bet is continued, progressive creativity. Edwards has been called everything from a shaman to the second coming of Johnny Cash via Nick Cave. I’m not sure if to-date he’s sounded less like those things or more like himself than he does in these songs, but even in that, Star Treatment feels like a step in a much larger, ongoing process.

Wovenhand, Star Treatment (2016)

Wovenhand website

Wovenhand on Thee Facebooks

Wovenhand on Twitter

Wovenhand on Instagram

Wovenhand on Bandcamp

Sargent House website

Glitterhouse Records website

Tags: , , , , ,

Wovenhand to Release Star Treatment Sept. 9

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 28th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Have to wonder about the cover art for Wovenhand‘s upcoming Star Treatment LP — if band-spearhead David Eugene Edwards is facing away from the camera because the title refers to “star treatment” as being ignored, or if he’s turning his back on it, or if the two aren’t related at all? I’m just going on what I have to go on, which at this point is plenty copy-wise. You know I dig copy, and a new Wovenhand full-length is of course worthy of plenty, but the press release came attached to a stream of the song “Come Brave” from the album and I’ll readily admit I clicked that before I started reading.

Though I’d say on first or second impression (i.e. I’ve listened twice through at this point) the record is more atmospheric than 2014’s Refractory Obdurate (review here) — for which, as it happens, I just bought a t-shirt — both were recorded by Sanford Parker so there’s definitely some continuity of sound. “Come Brave,” which opens Star Treatment, emphasizes the rhythmic insistence that made the last outing such a success and the multifaceted approach to “heavy” that the band has come to take, such that it can be about ambience as much as tone, emotion and melody as much as groove. I’m looking forward to getting to know the album better, and “Come Brave” thus far seems to serve as a memorable introduction. By which I mean I can’t get it out of my head.

Find it below, after the PR wire announcement on the release and the band’s upcoming Euro tour dates:

wovenhand-star-treatment

Wovenhand premiere first track from forthcoming new album ‘Star Treatment’

Wovenhand announce their forthcoming new album Star Treatment today with a premiere of the first track. Star Treatment will be available on Sargent House worldwide — excluding Europe, where it will be released by longtime Wovenhand label Glitterhouse Records — on September 9th.

The band plays Psycho Las Vegas fest on August 26th before embarking on an extensive European tour with main support from Emma Ruth Rundle, also of the Sargent House family, on all shows except Helsinki and Reeperbahn Fest. Please see complete dates below.

The music of Wovenhand and songwriter/multi-instrumentalist David Eugene Edwards has always had an unparalleled intensity. Edwards’ rich, billowing and emotive voice is always the driving force of his music, but it’s catapulted by his spellbinding ability to transform instruments that many people might consider mundane relics – be it banjo, accordion, lesser-known folk instruments from around the world, or even an electric guitar – into devices of dark fury and poignant beauty.

From the apocalyptic revivification of antique Americana of Sixteen Horsepower in the 90s to the threadbare balladry of Wovenhand’s early releases, Edwards’ music has maintained its celestial heaviness as it evolved. But now in its current incarnation, Wovenhand is a band that fully expands that power with exacting and inventive skill. It’s a sound so distinctive and compellingly crushing that even the heaviest of metal bands can’t match.

Wovenhand’s current lineup includes guitarist Chuck French, bassist Neil Keener (both of Planes Mistaken For Stars) and drummer Ordy Garrison, now joined by piano/synth player Matthew Smith (Crime & The City Solution). Star Treatment was recorded at Steve Albini’s legendary Electrical Audio in Chicago with engineer Sanford Parker, who also helmed Wovenhand’s 2014 album Refractory Obdurate.

While Wovenhand ought to be a familiar name to anyone interested in forward-thinking music, the album title Star Treatment isn’t a reference to our celebrity culture obsession. Rather, it’s a clever reference to concepts of astrolatry, or humanity’s enduring interest in the stars of the night sky.

“It’s ethereal in its concept,” Edwards explains. “There are many layers, as always. I’ve been paying attention to the stars in the sky and in literature, and it’s a theme throughout the album.” He adds, “There’s more love song style on this in general, which is nice. The idea of what love is and how it’s expressed and all these different atmospheres.”

Star Treatment kicks off full tilt with the anthemic charge of “Come Brave” – the song’s galloping four-on-the-floor drums driving churning swells of droning, chiming guitars and organ as Edwards’ soaring voice compels us to rise and join the fray. “The Hired Hand” takes a more Western bent with swaggering guitars awash in reverb and a throbbing bass line before the chorus erupts with massive open guitar chords as Edwards howls, “give up your dead.” Further, “Crystal Palace” sounds like Eastern European folk driven through a massive wall of amplifiers while a full gospel choir sings just beneath the gurgling surface of guitars. “Crook and Flail” sounds exotic in its twanging acoustic instruments and tabla/dumbec drum pattern. Elsewhere, “Golden Blossom” is a lush and beautifully unabashed love song, strummed out in a simple, catchy melody that builds to crescendo with the chorus refrain, “only you, my love and your light.” Throughout, Wovenhand deftly merge the outer reaches of rock and world folk sounds with increasing urgency and force.

Star Treatment will be available worldwide excluding Europe on LP, CD and download via Sargent House on September 9th, 2016.

WOVENHAND TOUR 2016:
08/26 LAS VEGAS, NV @ Hard Rock Hotel & Casino – Psycho Las Vegas
09/12 COLOGNE, DE @ Gebäude 9 *
09/13 FRANKFURT, DE @ Zoom *
09/15 BERN, CH @ ISC *
09/16 ZURICH, CH @ Bogen F *
09/17 VIENNA, AT @ Flex *
09/18 BUDAPEST, HU @ A38 *
09/20 SALZBURG, AT @ Rockhouse *
09/21 MUNICH, DE @ Ampere *
09/22 LEIPZIG, DE @ UT Connewitz *
09/23 BERLIN, DE @ Heimathafen *
09/24 HAMBURG, DE – Reeperbahn Festival
09/26 ARHUS, DK @ Train *
09/27 OSLO, NO @ John Dee *
09/29 HELSINKI, FI @ Tavastia
09/30 STOCKHOLM, SE @ Nalen *
10/01 LUND, SE @ Mejeriet *
10/02 COPENHAGEN, DK @ Vega Jr. *
10/04 EINDHOVEN, NL @ Effenaar *
10/05 AMSTERDAM, NL @ Melkweg *
10/06 LEUVEN, BE @ Het Depot *
10/07 GENT, BE @ Handelsbeurs *
10/08 CHARLEROI, BE @ L’Eden *
10/10 LILLE, FR @ L’Aéronef *
10/11 PARIS, FR @ La Maroquinerie *
10/13 ORLEANS, FR @ L’Astrolabe *
10/14 GRENOBLE, FR @ La Belle Electrique *
10/15 FEYZIN, FR @ L’Epicerie Moderne *
10/16 TOULOUSE, FR @ La Rex *
10/18 LONDON, UK @ The Dome *
* w/ Emma Ruth Rundle

Artist: Wovenhand
Album: Star Treatment
Label: Sargent House
Release Date: September 9th, 2016
01. Come Brave (STREAM)
02. Swaying Reed
03. The Hired Hand
04. Crystal Palace
05. Crook and Flail
06. The Quiver
07. All Your Waves
08. Golden Blosson
09. Go Ye Light
10. Five by Five
11. Low Twelve

wovenhandband.com
sargenthouse.com/wovenhand

Tags: , , , ,

Psycho Las Vegas Announces New Lineup Additions

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 28th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

psycho-las-vegas-lineup

Goodness gracious. Here I was minding my business on a Sunday night and Psycho Las Vegas went and more than doubled the size of its lineup, adding Uncle Acid, Elder, Converge, Wovenhand, Boris, The Black Heart Procession, Budos Band, Dead Meadow, SubRosa, Midnight, Disenchanter, Lumerians, Tombstones, ASG, Death Alley, Ides of Gemini, Goya, Dirty Streets, Crypt Sermon, Mantar, Gozu, Beelzefuzz, Lo-Pan, Holy Grove, CHRCH, Carousel and more. Not like the fest wasn’t huge already, but big bands, small bands, in-between bands, European bands, Asian bands, West Coast bands, East Coast bands — pretty much if it falls under the category of “bands,” they’re probably playing. And by way of a friendly reminder, this isn’t it. As you can see in the lineup below, there are more announcements to come next month.

Just look at this insane shit:

psycho las vegas poster

PSYCHO LAS VEGAS 2016

Psycho Entertainment
Friday, August 26, 2016 at 12:00 PM – Sunday, August 28, 2016 at 12:00 AM (PDT)
Las Vegas, NV

BLUE OYSTER CULT
SLEEP
UNCLE ACID & THE DEADBEATS
THE CRAZY WORLD OF ARTHUR BROWN
PENTAGRAM
CANDLEMASS
DEATH
TRUTH AND JANEY
CONVERGE
(Announced March 3rd)
BUDOS BAND
WOVENHAND
(Announced March 3rd)
BLACK HEART PROCESSION
FU MANCHU
BORIS
DOWN
ZOMBI
COLOUR HAZE
YOB
DEAD MEADOW
ELDER
ACID KING
DANAVA
SUBROSA
MIDNIGHT
SATAN’S SATYRS
THE SHRINE
JUCIFER
BONGRIPPER
BLOOD OF THE SUN
ORESUND SPACE COLLECTIVE
MARS RED SKY
SPELLJAMMER
BELZEBONG
THE COSMIC DEAD
TOMBSTONES
LUMERIANS
ASG
SAVIOURS
A STORM OF LIGHT
DEATH ALLEY
LECHEROUS GAZE
DIRTY STREETS
IDES OF GEMINI
GOYA
SPENCER MOODY SOLO (Murder City Devils)
WITCH MOUNTAIN
HAS A SHADOW
ASHBURY
CRYPT SERMON
MONDO DRAG
MANTAR
TALES OF MURDER AND DUST
SHROUD EATER
CRAZY BULL
DEMON LUNG
LOPAN
CHRCH
BEHOLD THE MONOLITH
DISENCHANTER
CAVE OF SWIMMERS
HORNSS
CAROUSEL
TIA CARRERA
GOZU
FLAVOR CRYSTALS
HOLY GROVE
BEELZEFUZZ
GREAT ELECTRIC QUEST
FAMILY
HIGHLANDS
LYCUS
THE COMPANY CORVETTE
WASHERWOMAN
THE RARE BREED
INVDRS

Psycho Pool Party 8.25.16
MUDHONEY
FATSO JETSON
MOTHERSHIP
GOLDEN VOID
ELECTRIC CITIZEN
MAC SABBATH
GREENBEARD

ACCOMMODATIONS
Join the bands and crew at the Hard Rock Hotel & use the code: Psych16 at checkout to recieve 30% off your rooms.

ANNOUNCEMENT SCHEDULE
1/20 – “Warm up” Tickets Onsale 8am pst
2/14 – Full Lineup (60+ acts)
3/15 – Headliners Revealed
5/4 – Van/Chopper & Alt Exhibitions

http://www.eventbrite.com/e/psycho-las-vegas-2016-tickets-20777507083
WWW.PSYCHOLV.COM
WWW.HARDROCKHOTEL.COM

Sleep, Live at Psycho California, May 16, 2015

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

San Francisco Trip, Pt 2: Cobras and Fire

Posted in Buried Treasure, Features on July 15th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

amoeba music san francisco storefront

When in Rome, you do as the Romans. When in Cali, you get your ass to Amoeba Music. An Amoeba haul is a special thing. It had been five years — half a decade! — since the last time I set foot in Amoeba‘s San Francisco store, right on Haight Street, more or less the birthplace of American counterculture, or at very least where it moved to from the Midwest because it was okay to be weird there. It is a shop we must remember we are fortunate to still have in existence. Places like Sound Garden in Baltimore, Vintage Vinyl in my beloved Garden State, and the three Amoebas in San Fran, Berkeley and L.A. are treasures. Landmarks. Their preservation may not be government-sanctioned, but they’re no less essential as living monuments of our age.

I’d gotten in after two in the morning. My flight from Boston to SFO was delayed… by five and a half hours. Something about a flat tire on the plane that then wound up requiring an entirely different aircraft altogether. Oh, we sat, and sat. Supposed to be a 5PM flight, took off just after 10:30. What a shitter, but at least it took off at all. I slept about 20 minutes on the plane — remember, with the time zone shift, a 2AM West Coast arrival is still 5AM to my very red East Coast eyes — and then crashed at the hotel, woke up this morning and spent the bulk of they day shaking hands at the convention that brought me out here, trading business cards and the like. All the while, lurking at the back of my mind was Amoeba Music, its call resonating like a dogwhistle nobody else around me could hear. I could’ve cried when I got out of the cab and it was there, just like I remembered.

Seems likely there was more vinyl around than five years ago, though I wouldn’t commit to that 100 percent, not really remembering one way or the other, but in any case, I still found plenty in the CD racks; the notion of traveling with LPs, the general expenditure and desire to actually listen to the music keeping me to the more compressed format, and no regrets. Here’s what I grabbed, alphabetically:

Acid King, Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere
Black Rainbows, Carmina Diabolo
Electric Wizard, Time to Die
Horsehunter, Caged in Flesh
Monolord, Vaenir
Parliament, Motor Booty Affair
Stoneburner, Caged in Flesh
SubRosa, More Constant than the Gods
Swans, To be Kind
Tekhton, Alluvial
Wino & Conny Ochs, Latitudes
Wovenhand, Refractory Obdurate

amoeba haulOf those, it turns out the Black Rainbows was a double. I suspected as much, but I spotted it at the front of the clearance section and it was a dollar, so I figured even if I had it, another wouldn’t hurt. Getting stuff like the Acid King and Monolord was nigh on mandatory, the former because it’s San Francisco and that album is incredible and the latter because it’s a RidingEasy Records release and while I’m pretty sure that label is headquartered south of here, you don’t find that stuff every day on the Eastern Seaboard.

Conversely, I was looking for a bunch of stuff from Tee PeeMirror Queen, The Atomic Bitchwax, Death Alley — that was seemingly nowhere to be found, and I wondered if geographic distance between myself and the NY-based label didn’t have something to do with it. The rule is you take what you can get, and I was happy to do that. The Horsehunter was also absurdly cheap, I’m not really sure why. Between that and the Black Rainbows, it was much easier to justify paying upwards of $14 for new discs and $20 for the Labour of Love Latitudes session from Wino & Conny Ochs. I was on the phone griping to The Patient Mrs. as I walked around the store that somehow even though compact discs are “out of fashion” prices haven’t come down on them and she reminded me to think of it as a premium for being in a place so awesome. She was, of course, 100 percent right. Issue resolved.

Parliament‘s Motor Booty Affair to feed my continued funk addiction, and Stoneburner mostly because it was there, it’s Neurot and I don’t already have it. The Swans is the three-disc special edition of last year’s To be Kind (review here) that also comes with a live DVD as a bonus. Can’t imagine I’ll ever watch the thing, but it’s nice to have. Speaking of stuff I won’t actually put on, I know for a fact I haven’t listened to the Electric Wizard since I reviewed it (the promo was digital), but I heard something about them having a spat with Spinefarm over money or some such and that the album was subsequently out of print, so I figured better now than five years from now on eBay or Amazon. It will likely stay wrapped, but at least it’ll be in the library.

It’s been six years and I still recall enjoying Tekhton‘s first album, Summon the Core (review here), so to find a copy of the 2009 follow-up to that 2007 debut was cool enough to drive me toward the purchase, and Wovenhand are Wovenhand, which is all the justification that one needs. Speaking of bands who played Roadburn this year, as Wovenhand did, I nabbed 2013’s More Constant than the Gods by SubRosa mostly because I missed them at that festival and they’ve continued to haunt me ever since. I’m not sure if playing the record or having paid for it — like a church bribe — will exorcise that demon, but it seemed worth a shot. I’m sure I’ll let you know how it goes.

Tomorrow is more work stuff, starting bright and early and ending less-bright and late. I may or may not make it to Aquarius Records, as had been my hope, but if this turns out to be all the shopping I get to do on this trip, I can’t really complain. And of course, if you’re in SF, get your ass to Amoeba Music.

SubRosa, More Constant than the Gods (2013)

Amoeba Music

Amoeba San Francisco on Thee Facebooks

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

ROADBURN 2015 DAY ONE: My Good Shepherd

Posted in Features, Reviews on April 9th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

roadburn 2015 day one (Photo by JJ Koczan)

04.09.15 — 23.37 — Thurs. Night — Hotel

Some good Roadburn‘ll cure what ails you. Especially if what ails you — it’s what ails all of us, really — is the fact that the rest of your life isn’t Roadburn. Today was my busiest day, and it felt like it. A lot of back and forth. My dogs, such as they are, are barking. It was an early start and a late-enough finish, though it’s worth noting that the finish could’ve been even later. Solstafir (Photo by JJ Koczan)One has to find balance in these things. It’s a four-day fest. This was day one.

I sat on the backside of the photo-pit barrier before Sólstafir went on. They were opening the fest at 15.00, the same time Bell Witch were taking the stage at Het Patronaat — Roadburn means hard choices, always. I sat there, early, alone, tilted my head back and closed my eyes, took a breath in through my nose and let it out through my mouth. My last quiet moment, you see. I let it go, and a short time later, the Icelandic outfit took the stage, performing a live soundtrack to the 1984 film, also Icelandic, Hrafninn Flýgur (translated: When the Raven Flies). It would be my first time seeing them perform, and my first time seeing the movie, so I was probably at a significant disadvantage to some in the crowd, but essentially I was glad to Solstafir (Photo by JJ Koczan)be seeing the band at all, and knowing they’ve got a regular set scheduled for tomorrow, I went in with a pretty open mind. Whatever they were going to do, I was happy to be watching Sólstafir play. Not the most impartial of attitudes, but I dig the band.

Interestingly, a lot of what they did to accompany the movie, was rework their material as instrumental or atmospheric rock. Parts from last year’s Ótta (review here), the back end of the title-track — a landmark for the album if there ever was one — was distinct as the film went on, subtitles in English at the bottom of the big screen behind the band, who were spread out in a manner almost orchestral on the Main Stage. Maybe not surprising, but their sound fit pretty well with images of revenge-seeking Viking-types on horseback, distant mountains, stone weapons and the like. I’m still not entirely sure what was going on, but even to catch Sólstafir playing parts of their songs, I was glad to see it, and it Salem's Pot (Photo by JJ Koczan)made me look forward to their regular set. They took a bow when they were done, after the credits had rolled, and it seemed like they earned it. Over in the Green Room — the middle-size space, smaller than the 013‘s Main Stage or Het Patronaat, bigger than 013‘s Stage01 or the back of Cul de Sac where the stage is (got all that?) — Salem’s Pot were setting up for a buffet of riffs soon to unfold.

Swing, swing, swing. Swing like madmen, and they dressed the part too, all in masks, one in a dress and fishnets, like a troop of droogs gone stoner cult. The Swedish five-piece released their …Lurar ut dig på prärien debut LP (discussed here) last year on RidingEasy Records, and they had a new song for the Roadburn crowd as well as stuff from the album, which was more than solid in that heavy but kind of familiar way, but took on a different character live. Even apart from the theatrics, I guess so much on …Lurar ut dig på prärien was down to the rhythm, but on stage, the songs had different off-kilter melodies in the guitars, the dual vocals worked more dynamically, and the synth and effects swirl was a major factor in how it all came together. “Creep Purple” and “Nothing Hill” were Floor (Photo by JJ Koczan)rolling-groove highlights, and the shorter “Ego Trip,” released as the A-side of a 7″ last fall, was right on as well. I hate to think I had dismissed them, but in presence and performance, Salem’s Pot exceeded my expectations and not only had swing, swing, swing working in their favor, but a more complex approach overall than I saw coming.

A pleasant surprise, then, even though I kind of knew what they’d get up to. In the next room, the Main Stage was being set up for Floor. Now, I’ve seen Floor a few times at this point, and even since they put out their long-awaited studio comebacker Oblation (review here) about a year ago, and my general rule for Roadburn is that the bands I’ve already seen get low priority. Lower, anyway. The difference with Floor was that I’d been hearing all along about how excited people were to see them. I’m not 100 percent, but I think that until this tour, the trio of guitarist Anthony Vialon, drummer Henry Wilson (also of House of Lightning) and guitarist/vocalist Steve Brooks (also of Torche) had yet to play Europe since getting back together half a decade ago. That would make them, if nothing else, due.

The bomb-toners lived up to what one might’ve hoped for on the big stage. As it will, their 2002 self-titled featured prominently in tSpidergawd (Photo by JJ Koczan)he set, starting off with the one-two-three of “Scimitar,” “Return to Zero” and “Downed Star,” Brooks and Vialon pushing out now-classic riffs as Wilson seemed to drum with his whole body behind the kit. The guitarists kept a more quiet presence, Brooks here and there on stage, moving with the music but hardly thrashing about, and Vialon more or less still in a zen-through-volume kind of fashion, but the thrust of those songs is undeniable, and as they moved into “Dove” and “Night Full of Kicks” and Oblation cuts like “Trick Scene” and “Find Away” and “The Key,” they kept their momentum, fast or lumbering. “Tales of Lolita” is always a good time, and it worked well next to the thudding “The Quill,” and closing duo “Loanin'” and “Triangle Song” wrapped up to ensure that no bases were left uncovered. They weren’t, and yeah, I’ve seen Floor before, but there was no question doing so again was the right choice.

That said, there was no way in hell I was missing Spidergawd. Largely unknown in the States, and I think known mostly to those in Europe who’ve heard their two Stickman/Crispin Glover Records LPs to date — 2014’s Spidergawd (review here) and 2015’s Spidergawd II (review here) — because of their affiliation with Norwegian prog magnates Motorpsycho, whose bassist, Bent Sæther, and drummer, Kenneth Kapstad, double in the more boogie-oriented outfit alongside saxophonist/vocalist Rolf Martin Snustad and guitarist/vocalist Per Borten, who is related to but not to be confused with a former Norwegian prime minister of the same name. Spidergawd were aSpidergawd (Photo by JJ Koczan) must-see for me. One of several, but a must-see all the same, and they delivered all the way in the energy and upbeat feel of their songs. By the time they got down to “Fixin’ to Die Blues” from the new record, maybe three songs in, they had Het Patronaat eating out of their hands.

And rightly so. I saw a lot of music today and I’ll see a lot more before this weekend’s out, but I don’t know if anyone will give off a genuinely-happy-to-be-here vibe as much as Spidergawd did, still managing to both groove and be heavy while enjoying themselves. Their spirit was infectious, as are their hooks, and though it was hot in the church — damn hot — they had no letup, SnustadKapstad and Borten up front on the stage while Sæther played behind in a curious configuration, but one that obviously works for them. They’re a band more people should know, based solely on the merit of what they play and how they play it, never mind anyone’s pedigree or anything like that. They lit that room up, closing with the Thin Lizzy-style “Sanctuary” from Spidergawd II as if to portend even better things to come. They’ve been working quickly over the course of their first two records, and hopefully it’s not long before a third surfaces as well. The more the merrier.

Uzala (Photo by JJ Koczan)I stopped by to see some of Primitive Man through the door of the Green Room before they finished. Unsurprisingly they were punishing as fuck. Floor had started something of a bang-bang-bang for the rest of my night, one to the next to the next, and I had planned on catching a bit of Uzala in the Green Room and moving on to the next set, but once they went on, the Boise, Idaho, three-piece held me in place. I didn’t know it at the time, but they were just what I was looking for. Guitarist Chad Remains, guitarist Darcy Nutt (also running her guitar through a bass rig, for extra low-end) and drummer Chuck Watkins had a new song in tow called “The Gallows,” and that moved a little faster than some of their more plodding material from 2014’s righteous Tales of Blood and Fire, songs like “Dark Days” and “Seven Veils,” but wherever they headed, they were just the right blend of beat-you-over-the-head heaviness in Remains and Nutt‘s tones, melody and lurching groove that I couldn’t have left even if I’d wanted to. They were not to be missed, in other words. Vocals were a little low, at least up front where I was standing, but Nutt has a powerful voice and as dense as those tones got — seriously, there were parts where they sounded like a machine grinding to a halt; I wondered how they’d restart it for the next measure — she cut through with little trouble and palpable soul.

Their set was a highlight of the day for me, all the more because I’d seen them before, knew what I Uzala (Photo by JJ Koczan)was getting into and they still managed to surprise with how switched on they were. Remains shredded his solos in top form and had some technical trouble along the way that was fixed so promptly by the Green Room crew that I’m not even sure he noticed. Only complaint? No “Tenement of the Lost.” The closer from Tales of Blood and Fire that begins with a wash of feedback and culminates in one of the sweetest minimalist doom ballads my ears have heard in the last five years — it’s my go-to sad song — would’ve certainly been welcome, but honestly, I think the maximum-volume approach they took was probably a more practical call given the room. I could’ve gone to see Russian Circles on the Main Stage, or Thou at Het Patronaat, or Moaning Cities, whose merch I later looked for and could not find, in Stage01, but Uzala kept me where I was. They were a thrill to watch.

Somewhere in there, it would’ve made sense to have dinner. I did not. No time. Wovenhand would be on the Main Stage shortly, and I knew that was where I wanted to be. It was a return appearance for them and the second time I’d have seen them at Roadburn — never seen them anywhere else, come to think of it — but as I consider the set they played in 2011 a personal landmark, as in, “before I saw it” and “after I saw it,” I’d been very much anticipating their arrival. They were Wovenhand (Photo by JJ Koczan)headliners this time along with Eyehategod, who’d play the Main Stage afterwards, but Wovenhand had the longer set, and put their 80 minutes to use in the most dynamic manner I saw all day, frontman David Eugene Edwards far to the left side of the stage while drummer Ordy Garrison had the middle, and guitarist/backing vocalist Chuck French and bassist Neil Keener anchored the right. Edwards is among the more charismatic stage presences I’ve ever seen, and though he said before they ended that they knew they were “out of their league” in coming back to Roadburn, I felt more like I was out of mine watching them.

Last year’s Refractory Obdurate (review here) featured prominently in their set, which opened with “Hiss,” arguably their heaviest work to-date. Ultimately, it would be a much different kind of intensity they brought than four years ago, when Edwards, seated, laid bare a deeply spiritual — religious, Christian — neo-folk,Wovenhand (Photo by JJ Koczan) worldly in its arrangements and deeper than the eye could follow. Standing, the vocalist/guitarist still had a feather in his hat and still taunted or teased the audience in a kind of war-whoop, but he also softshoed while he played, and Wovenhand this time around was a much more stripped-down, rawer, meaner-toned outfit. Garrison‘s drums, aided now and then by some extra percussion by French, were a driving force, and the seething energy of their rhythm could be felt throughout the main hall, whether they happened to be raging at the time, as in “Hiss,” or engaged in a more quiet brooding, à la “Closer” from 2012’s The Laughing Stalk (review here). Opener “Long Horn” from that album was also a highlight, and I was amazed what a few years could do for band like that progressing in unexpected ways and pursuing different avenues of sound. “Good Shepherd” lacked nothing for its melody, but even that had a coinciding element of pummel.

It was to the point where, I knew I wanted to see Monolord. I’d wanted to see Monolord all along, Monolord (Photo by JJ Koczan)and they were playing Het Patronaat at the same time Wovenhand were on the Main Stage — Roadburn giveth and Roadburn scheduleth conflicteth. I left Wovenhand and went down the block to the other venue just as Monolord were going on. How heavy were they? They were superlatively heavy. A monumental sonic impact that seemed to hit all at once, as though the guitar and bass were also kick drums. It was ridiculous, and the line outside the Patronaat was backed up the longest I’d seen it yet to get in, but as I stood there and watched them, I couldn’t take the fact that Wovenhand were playing Roadburn and I wasn’t in the same room where it was happening. Monolord slayed the place, absolutely. I saw people coming out of there when they were done and they looked even more in a daze than usual. But me, I had to back and watch Wovenhand finish. They were too good to let it pass. And when they were done, they came back out and did an encore. Fucking a.

My evening was more or less done Kandodo (Photo by JJ Koczan)and I knew it, but when Wovenhand finished their encore, I swung back to Het Patronaat to watch some of Kandodo, who are led by guitarist Simon Price of The Heads and were doing a special set with Robert Hampson of Loop sitting in as part of The Heads‘ residency. I didn’t know what that collaboration might bring, but it brought a fervent run of heavy psychedelia that was perfect for me to close out the night. They started in the dark, Price and Hampson on guitar on opposite sides of the stage, bassist Hugo Morgan (also The Heads) and drummer Wayne Maskell (also also The Heads) between, but the lights gradually came up as they jammed their way through a first song — read as “Kandy Rock” on the setlist — and into the next. Watching them made me want to buy many albums, I’ll say that, but time was getting on and I had a review to write, so I cut out after a bit and made my way back to the hotel. It was a mindbender of a first day, but I know there is still much more to come over this weekend.

More pics after the jump.

Read more »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Roadburn Trip Pt. 3: Harvest Begun

Posted in Features on April 9th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

Wovenhand soundchecking. (Photo by JJ Koczan)

04.09.15 — 11.53 — Thurs. Morning — 013 Office

Got to watch a couple minutes of Wovenhand’s soundcheck without feeling too much like I was blowing off responsibilities in the office of the 013 venue, where we were putting together the first issue of the Weirdo Canyon Dispatch ‘zine. That’s being printed now, incidentally. There will be 1,000 copies pressed, with the pages right-side-up and everything, and handed out at the doors once the day has officially started. I’m looking forward to getting one and using the schedule throughout the day, trying not to notice typos invariably missed weirdo canyon dispatch thursday coverin the copy-editing process. Our mantra has been a simple one: “It’s a ‘zine.”

You can see the first issue online here if you’d like to check it out. I’m way into the cover for it, by Cavum.

Slept hard, which was to be expected. It was a little after 01.00 when I went out, and woke up at 09.00, still groggy despite no small level of restoration. I had sat down at the office and opened my laptop before I remembered to have a cup of coffee, which I may have rectified with a bit of overkill as regards the double-double espressos. I’d say “whoops,” but it’s about the only thing that has me upright, so if I’m a bit twitchy, it’s a small price to pay for a brain that — if you’ll pardon me saying so — is functioning at least on a semi-conscious level. The entire office is abuzz, one way or another.

The day kicks off officially at 15.00 with Sólstafir on the Main Stage and Bell Witch at Het Patronaat. I’ll catch a bit of Minsk, probably through the door of Stage01, as well, and then on from there, Uzala, coffee cupSpidergawd, Wovenhand, etc. Looking at the schedule, today is one of my busiest days of back and forth at the fest, so maybe the extra coffee was a good idea after all.

I don’t think I’ll get much time to sit in Weirdo Canyon, as is my usual pre-Roadburn ritual, but hopefully at some point over the next couple days I’ll be able to sit and enjoy the vibe a bit and maybe a Roadburn Burger or some Roadburn Ribs or Roadburn Whatever It Might Be — the fest-specific specials abound, priced accordingly. It was quiet as I walked through this morning on the way to the office, but that will change by this afternoon for sure. If the next couple of days are going to be anything at all, that thing will most certainly not be “quiet.”

Tags: , , ,

Roadburn 2015: Wovenhand, Russian Circles, Uzala, Argus, Tombstones, Bell Witch and More Added to Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 12th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

roadburn-2015-header

Just days after announcing Anathema‘s special reunion setRoadburn 2015 turns around and lets loose with another round of lineup additions, including Wovenhand headlining Thursday night — ask me about how they were the heaviest band I saw at the fest in 2011; I’d love to tell you all about it — and Enslaved and Wardruna each playing individual sets on top of their collaborative Skuggsja set. Russian Circles will also play, and Helms Alee with whom they’ll be on tour in Europe, and it’s kind of buried under all the other details, but some other killer acts have joined the bill as well.

Among those, an immediate standout is Uzala, whose “Tenement of the Lost” has been stuck in my head the last few days, with its glorious wash of feedback and the sweetly depressive melody that emerges therefrom. The thought of Argus taking stage at Roadburn is a thrill as well, and Tombstones, who released their Red Skies and Dead Eyes (review here) album last year, and Bell Witch and Eagle Twin and Sun Worship and even more than that. It’s an astounding and exciting bunch of acts.

I won’t delay any further. Dig in:

Roadburn-2015-12-November

Wovenhand, Russian Circles, and more announced for Roadburn 2015; Enslaved and Wardruna unveil more show details

Roadburn is very pleased to announce Wovenhand, Russian Circles, Wardruna, and a second Enslaved performance among the latest additions to the 20th edition line up of the festival which will take place in April 2015.

Wovenhand and Russian Circles added to Thursday line up

Wovenhand’s incendiary performance at Roadburn 2011 remains one of the most talked-about shows in the festival’s history, and it’s a great pleasure to have David Eugene Edwards and his band back at the festival for what should be another thrilling, transformative concert. The band will reignite the 013 stage as the headline act on Thursday April 9.

Led by former 16 Horsepower frontman Edwards, Wovenhand similarly delves deep into the darker, more gothic side of Americana, only on a much more personal, introspective level. The latest album ‘Refractory Obdurate’ is the band’s most visceral work yet, with its heavier arrangements packing a devastating punch.

Already veterans of Roadburn, Chicago instrumental trio Russian Circles will return to the 20th edition of Roadburn Festival for a much anticipated main stage performance on Thursday, April 9, filling the main hall with their spacious, tonally lavish sound.

With a blend of post-rock airiness, heavy riffing and progressive rhythms, they are one of the most evocative instrumental bands in the underground today, and we at Roadburn couldn’t be more excited to welcome them back.

Roadburn curators confirm details of special performances

After a stunning sneak preview of the upcoming Enslaved album, we can only conclude that the band keeps blasting past their own and their associated genres’ limits. Listening to the album prompted us to invite the band for a second show at Roadburn 2015 on Saturday, April 11th, so that all of our beloved attendees can bask in the band’s creativity and talent, and share our excitement about what is sure to become another Enslaved classic.

We at Roadburn are huge admirers of Enslaved, thus it won’t have come as a suprise that we have invited their guitarist/composer, Ivar Bjornson, along with Einar Selvik (Wardruna), to curate the 20th edition of Roadburn Festival (a special event named ‘Houses of the Holistic’) on Friday, April 10 at the 013 venue.

Besides performing Skuggsjá, the sound of Norway’s Norse History, together with Wardruna, Enslaved will also perform a show dubbed ‘House of Northern Gods’, which will consist of a set list specially put together for ‘Houses of the Holistic’, featuring songs from the band’s entire catalogue that embody the Norse gods, with accompanying visuals created by revered Romanian artist, Costin Chioreanu.

“The Friday show during Roadburn 2015 will indeed be a special one”, says Ivar Bjørnson. “We have named the concert ‘House of Northern Gods’ and it will consist of a walk-through of an imaginary, magical house. It is a mental construction that could represent the mythological Valhalla with its inhabitants – or in Jung’s school of psychology: the archetypical roles of the human psyche. This will be the foundation for the set-list and the framework around the concert; there’s a stem of thematic songs from ‘Allfadr Odinn’ (the Paternal archetype) on ‘Hordanes Land’ in 1993 up to ‘Materal’ (the Maternal archetype) from 2012’s ‘RIITIIR’ where various characters/ roles in the ‘House of Northern Gods’ are represented and materialized into music. These are the songs that will make up the Friday show at Roadburn 2015!”

“As if it wasn’t a big enough honour to play one show at Roadburn 2015, we get to play a second show Saturday!” Ivar continues. “We are already hard at work with planning to turn these into the most spectacular two Enslaved shows possible, as we know that this double-Roadburn-whammy is not likely to happen again (we’ve heard of lightening striking twice, but thrice?). This second show will be one of the first European shows where we present our new album, that will be released something like a month prior to Roadburn 2015. We don’t like to brag; but be prepared for something monumental! We will also make use of the fact that Tilburg will be loaded to the brim with friends and colleagues at this point, so don’t be surprised if the show culminates in Enslaved having good friends on stage to make sure we go out with a blast! He who lives will see…

Ivar Bjornson’s fellow curator, Einar Selvik will also be performing with Wardruna in a special performance, dubbed ‘House of the Spinning Seer’. The winners of Metal Hammer’s Golden God award for Best Underground Band, will take to the stage on Friday 10th of April as another part of ‘Houses of the Holistic’.

“We are very excited as well as honored to be back to perform at Roadburn 2015″‘ says Einar “Kvitrafn” Selvik, “and so we plan to use this occasion to give the audience a concert out of the ordinary. It will be a Wardruna concert in an all-new form. With almost twice the amount of musicians that we normally have on stage our sonic threads of old and new shall be majestically spun and our soundscape carefully woven on the loom of the spinning seer.”

Argus, Bell Witch, Darkher, Eagle Twin, Helms Alee, Sun Worship, Terminal Cheesecake, Tombstones, Brimstone and Uzala have also been confirmed for the 20th edition of Roadburn Festival.

Tickets are still available HERE.

Curated by Ivar Bjørnson (Enslaved) and Wardruna‘s Einar “Kvitrafn” Selvik, Roadburn Festival 2015 (including Fields of the Nephilim, Anathema, Skuggsjá, Enslaved, Wardruna, Claudio Simonetti’s Goblin performing Dawn of The Dead and Susperia in its entirety, Zombi, Sólstafir, White Hills, Bongipper, Floor, Eyehategod and The Heads as Artist In Residence among others) will run from Thursday, April 9 to Sunday, April 12 at the 013 venue in Tilburg, The Netherlands.

http://www.roadburn.com/roadburn-2015/tickets/
https://www.facebook.com/roadburnfestival
https://twitter.com/roadburnfest
roadburn.com

Uzala, “Tenement of the Lost” from Tales of Blood and Fire (2013)

Tags: , , , , ,

Wovenhand West Coast Tour with Pontiak Starts Nov. 4

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 24th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

I’ve only seen Wovenhand once. They’ve come through New York a few times, but I never went because I didn’t want to deal with the crowd. When I caught them though, they were staggeringly good, and that was before Refractory Obdurate (review here), which is their latest album. I guess the point I’m trying to make is if you get the chance and you can put yourself in a place where they’re going to be, you should give it a shot. Particularly now since the new record is so unbelievable, though I’d probably have told you the same thing with the last one too.

Okay:

david eugene edwards

WOVENHAND ANNOUNCES U.S. TOUR DATES IN NOVEMBER WITH PONTIAK

New Album Refractory Obdurate Available Now from Deathwish Inc.

Wovenhand is a band led by dedicated life-musician and lyricist, David Eugene Edwards. Over the last two decades, his prolific work in both Wovenhand and the legendary 16 Horsepower has influenced and inspired a generation of musicians throughout the expansive alternative music world. Wovenhand cannot be described in traditional terms. Its sound is an organic, weavework of neo-folk, post rock, punk, old-time, and alternative sounds, all coming together as a vehicle for David’s soulful expression and constant spiritual self exploration. Sometimes sad and sorrowed and at other times uplifting, Wovenhand is always unforgettable in spirit and sound.

Wovenhand released its landmark effort Refractory Obdurate this past April via a partnership between Deathwish Inc. and Glitterhouse Records. Refractory Obdurate is a moving masterwork that shows Wovenhand exploring louder roots hinted at on prior albums.

Now, Wovenhand is gearing up to play a three-week-long tour of the Western United States with Pontiak (Thrill Jockey) throughout November. The bands will make a stop at Fun Fun Fun Nites in Austin, TX on November 7th, as well as play an amazing show with a lineup including King Dude and Spencer Moody with DJ Chelsea Wolfe in Los Angeles on November 12th – check out the full routing below.

Wovenhand – On Tour With Pontiak
Tue 11/4/2014 Santa Fe, NM- Skylight (no Pontiak)
Thur 11/6/2014 Lubbock, TX- Bash Riprock’s
Fri 11/7/2014 Austin, TX- FFF Nites, Venue TBA // Free Show
Sat 11/8/2014 Dallas, TX- City Tavern
Mon 11/10/2014 El Paso, TX- Lowbrow Palace
Tue 11/11/2014 Phoenix, AZ- Pub Rock Live
Wed 11/12/2014 Los Angeles, CA- Jewel’s Catch One ** ^^
Thur 11/13/2014 Atascadero, CA- Molly Pitcher // Free Show
Fri 11/14/2014 San Francisco, CA- Bottom of the Hill
Sat 11/15/2014 Arcata, CA- The Alibi
Mon 11/17/2014 Portland, OR- Hawthorne Theatre
Tues 11/18/2014 Bellingham, WA- The Shakedown
Wed 11/19/2014 Vancouver, BC
Thur 11/20/2014 Seattle, WA- Highline **
Fri 11/21/2014 Boise, ID- Neurolux
Sat 11/22/2014 Salt Lake City, UT- The Garage

** w/King Dude
^^ w/Spencer Moody, DJ Chelsea Wolfe

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Wovenhand-official/189495264425563
http://www.deathwishinc.com/
http://deathwishinc.bandcamp.com/album/refractory-obdurate

Wovenhand, Refractory Obdurate (2014)

Tags: , , ,