The Obelisk Questionnaire: Yianna Bekris of Vouna

Posted in Questionnaire on August 2nd, 2021 by JJ Koczan

vouna

The Obelisk Questionnaire is a series of open questions intended to give the answerer an opportunity to explore these ideas and stories from their life as deeply as they choose. Answers can be short or long, and that reveals something in itself, but the most important factor is honesty.

Based on the Proust Questionnaire, the goal over time is to show a diverse range of perspectives as those who take part bring their own points of view to answering the same questions. To see all The Obelisk Questionnaire posts, click here.

Thank you for reading and thanks to all who participate.

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Yianna Bekris of Vouna

How do you define what you do and how did you come to do it?

I have a project called Vouna that I use as an outlet for my musical creativity. I compose, perform, and record all Vouna’s music, and in the live lineup I sing and play guitar. I’ve been writing little doomy songs on my own for a long time, just for the hell of it. I decided that it would be something I would share with other people after my former bands went on hiatus and that was the start of Vouna as it is today.

Describe your first musical memory.

Driving in the car with my dad while he blasted cassettes that he recorded off the radio in Greece.

Describe your best musical memory to date.

I think all the moshing I did while watching death metal bands in my teen years is the reason I’m still alive today.

When was a time when a firmly held belief was tested?

I try to be open-minded when presented with empirical evidence and sound arguments. I do think it’s possible there is more than what can be tested empirically but for me empiricism still reigns supreme, and that has yet to be truly challenged for me. Although sometimes the music that comes to me feels like it’s a transmission from another universe.

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

In my case, I create art as a compulsion and it often doesn’t feel like it’s leading anywhere aside from me becoming more competent in enacting an impulse.

How do you define success?

There isn’t really a catch-all definition in my opinion, but I usually feel like something is a success because of some feeling of accomplishment or fulfillment or because some quantifiable metrics were satisfied. I’ve found that the feeling of success can be ephemeral or an illusion.

What is something you have seen that you wish you hadn’t?

I’d prefer not to answer this question, I’ve seen some fucked up shit.

Describe something you haven’t created yet that you’d like to create.

My next album. After a long time of feeling like I was spending too much effort figuring out how to interface with a computer I was able to establish a flow that felt more natural while recording this album, Atropos. I think having a new comfort in the format and manner in which I create music for Vouna will allow me to be more effective in translating whatever is going on in my head to songs.

What do you believe is the most essential function of art?

“Art makes life worth living.”

Something non-musical that you’re looking forward to?

Spending more time in the mountains this summer.

https://www.facebook.com/VOUNAMETAL
https://www.instagram.com/VOUNABAND/
https://vouna.bandcamp.com/
http://www.profoundlorerecords.com
http://www.facebook.com/profoundlorerecords
http://www.instagram.com/profoundlorerecords
http://www.profoundlorerecords.bandcamp.com

Vouna, Atropos (2021)

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Birth Sign to Bad Omen Records; Three-Song Demo Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 2nd, 2021 by JJ Koczan

San Diego’s Birth will make their full-length debut in 2022 through Bad Omen Records. In conjunction with Tee Pee‘s digital annex, the band bringing together former members of Astra and, on the demo, Radio Moscow, have made their first three-songer demo available as a get-introduced name-your-price download. This material has been kicking around a while — “Descending Us” was posted here in 2017 — and I don’t know who might be playing drums on the impending record, if in fact anybody will, but the demo’s righteous classic prog and one hopes and expects the album will follow suit, given the personnel and Mellotrons involved.

This’ll be good. It’s an easy bet. Grab the demo while you can and keep an eye out for more about the album.

Here’s PR wire info:

birth birth

San Diego Prog-Psych Stunners Birth Sign with Bad Omen Records

Ascending Underground Rock Band Featuring Members of Astra Begins Work on Debut Full Length; Offers Three Song Digital Demo for Free Download

Southern California psychedelic/progressive rock unit, Birth, has signed with respected rock label Bad Omen Records (Wytch Hazel, Spell, Satan’s Satyrs). Featuring members of San Diego’s revered retro rockers Astra, along with current or former members of Joy and Radio Moscow, Birth owns a cavernous cache of credibility rarely found in newly-formed musical groups. Birth is currently in the studio, assembling its debut full length LP which is slated for release in early 2022.

In celebration of the signing, Birth has made its self-titled debut/demo EP available for free download via its Bandcamp page. Visit birthprog.bandcamp.com (powered by our friends at NYC’s Tee Pee Records) to absorb this band’s first three formative forays; soaring songs which mark the spark of creation for the Birth universe and deliver a blast of vibrant progressive rock rich in cinematic scope and psychedelic intensity.

Featuring guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist Conor Riley (keyboards, vocals, acoustic guitar) and guitarist Brian Ellis, musicians who burst onto the prog-psych scene in the late aughts with Astra, a formidable, foundational group who would shape the sound of things to come alongside co-conspirators Earthless, Diagonal and Dungen, and whose albums ‘The Weirding’ (2009) and ‘The Black Chord’ (2012) stand proud as two of the greatest progressive achievements of this century thus far, there is a palatable excitement surrounding Birth and the group has been pegged as one to watch in underground circles.

Joining forces as Birth with bassist Trevor Mast and drummer Paul Marrone (for the recording of the demo), the fledgling foursome have created a soundtrack for an epic sci-fi saga on an imaginary timeline which may well lead some listeners back to the wide-eyed days of the early 70’s, offering shades of ‘The Yes Album’, the wayward serenades of Van Der Graaf Generator, the demented potency of King Crimson and even the stellar travelogue of Far East Family Band. On ‘Birth’, elegiac mellotron-assisted songcraft and richly melodious solo passages melt together into kosmische melancholia; a thrilling celestial collision of delirious fantasy, lysergic sonic adventure and thundering jam-room chemistry.

Birth are:
Conor Riley – Keyboards / Acoustic Guitar / Vocals
Brian Ellis – Lead Guitar / Keyboards
Trevor Mast – Bass
Drums on [demo] recording: Paul Marrone

https://www.facebook.com/Birth.prog
https://www.instagram.com/birth_prog/
https://birthprog.bandcamp.com/
http://www.bad-omen-records.com/
https://www.facebook.com/BadOmenRecords/
http://www.instagram.com/badomenrecords
https://badomenrecords.bandcamp.com/

Birth, Birth (Demo) (2021)

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Review & Full Album Stream: Borracho, Pound of Flesh

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on August 2nd, 2021 by JJ Koczan

borracho pound of flesh

[Click play above to stream Borracho’s Pound of Flesh in its entirety. Album is out Friday, Aug. 6 on Kozmik Artifactz.]

Though the band has been around longer, this year is a decade since the first Borracho full-length, Splitting Sky (review here), came out from D.C. to lobby listeners in favor of their particular take on heavy roll, marked out by a distinctive feel of riding their own grooves and doing so on a conveyance of dense-packed fuzz tone. Pound of Flesh follows a collaborative 2020 single with vocalist Jake Starr, formerly of Adam West — of which Borracho drummer Mario Trubiano was also a member — and is comprised of material and recordings dating back to late 2019, recorded and mixed as ever by Frank “The Punisher” Marchand (Foghound, Iron Man, Life Beyond, so many others) across three sessions then and across subsequent months (Tony Reed mastered). Trubiano, guitarist/vocalist Steve Fisher — who also adds keys on three of the nine tracks — and bassist/backing vocalist Tim Martin (who also painted the album’s cover) work within a style and elements that should be well familiar to their established audience base.

They’ve never been a band to radically shift approach from one outing to the next, but it’s also been half a decade since 2016’s Atacama (review here) — the band also celebrated their 10-year anniversary with the collection Riffography (review here) in 2017 — and a significant half-decade at that, and that time has wrought some shifts in their approach, whether it’s that flourish of keyboard/organ sounds introduced on opener “Holy Roller” and spread throughout “Caravan” and the 11-minute pre-outro finale “Burn it Down,” wherein Floyd-via-YOB contemplative guitar also pervades early with proggy melancholy as a precedent to the combination of aggression, breadth and thematic summary that follows, or the use of transitional samples like those between “Judgement Day” and “Dirty Money,” or those that conclude the album in “Foaming at the Mouth,” some spoken word in the second half of “Caravan,” or even just the blatant focus on social and political issues, which one imagines have been nigh on impossible to avoid in the US capitol throughout the years since Atacama, since they’ve certainly been impossible to avoid everywhere else.

Borracho tackle the subject with characteristic boldness and bruiser riffing across three vinyl sides — side D of the 2LP is an etching — as Fisher‘s vocals working with a well-established burl that’s been their hallmark since he took over those duties on 2013’s Oculus (review here). His easing into more of a frontman role is a big part of the narrative arc of the band’s career to-date, and the launch of Pound of Flesh in “Holy Roller” and the more melodically fluid “It Came From the Sky” (premiered here) is crucial in marking out the ground that the rest of what follows will cover; strong hooks, weighted groove, and the by-now-a-given chemistry in the performance of the trio as a whole that underscores the more complex structure presented in “Caravan.” It’s hard to think of a band who’ve spent the past 14 years actively working to foster a lack of pretense as being atmospheric, but Borracho are that on “Caravan,” and certainly too on the acoustic “Dreamer” that follows, serving as an interlude before “Judgement Day,” “Dirty Money” and “Year of the Swine” push further into the heart of the matter in their construction and lyrical schematic, which isn’t so much partisan as roundly disgusted.

Following the open keys, shouts, and fuzzy careening that marks the peak of “Caravan” and the stretch of Eastern-tinged noodling and percussion that follows to end the song, and the plucked acoustic strings of “Dreamer,” “Judgement Day” slams in to crack the hypnosis in half, with a riff and rhythm that is definitively Borrachoan, and a hook less immediate than “Holy Roller” or “It Came From the Sky,” but still a notable presence, and a surge of momentum that “Dirty Money” continues at a faster tempo, repeating the pattern of the opening duo but, instead of turning right away into the longer reach that showed itself on “Caravan,” the path twists and brings about “Year of the Swine,” which is willfully lumbering and gnashing in its frustration, bolstered in that regard by a guest solo from Scott “Wino” Weinrich.

borracho

It is the peak the three-piece hit before they hit before that frustration boils into what emerges on “Burn it Down,” the tension in the beginning building over the first 3:44 of the song’s total 11:24 in order to set up the first verse, which only ups the stakes further en route to gang-style shouts of “rise up!” and “tear down!” offsetting the chorus lines “Rise up and fight” and “Burn it to the ground.”

Well, okay. One has to note, of course, that “Burn it Down” was written and recorded prior to this past Jan. 6, when an attempted putsch in Washington, D.C., tried in its way to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. I’ll add as well that I haven’t had the benefit of a lyric sheet, but it’s hard not to place “Burn it Down” in that context. And no, I don’t think Fisher is calling for insurrection — or at least not that particular insurrection. Lines like, “Time to settle debts/We’re taking a pound of flesh,” certainly have an aspect of threat, never mind that they serve as the inspiration for the title, but the message, again, never comes through in favor of one side over the other so much as disaffected with a corrupted entirety. And fair enough. Twice through the chorus again, and “Burn it Down” jams out a solo en route to its bookending more subdued guitar, crying baby and evil cackle samples starting “Foaming at the Mouth” in beginning a sample onslaught — “Here comes the money!” from the beginning of “Dirty Money” makes a return — and the feeling of being overwhelmed is palpable.

Conspiracy theories, chemtrails, that crying baby and of course a riff-led groove all come to a finish just after two minutes in, and Pound of Flesh concludes with a sampling of the apex speech of Charlie Chaplin’s 1940 anti-fascist “talkie” film The Great Dictator, wrapping with the repositioned line that begins that famous monologue: “I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be an emperor. That’s not my business.” The message is clear and relevant and gives depth and context not only to the purposefully overwhelming barrage meant to represent the overwhelming barrage of noise one faces in any given day, but also to “Burn it Down,” to “Judgement Day,” “It Came From the Sky” and the rest of what surrounds. Borracho could hardly have picked a more suitable or relevant capstone for the album they made.

And what impresses about Pound of Flesh on the whole isn’t just that FisherMartin and Trubiano made it, but that they pulled it off while still holding to that central sans-pretense ethic. Remember, this is the band whose slogan has only ever been ‘Repetitive Heavy Grooves,’ and yet they dig deeper here to offer much more than that on every level, from shifts in structure and tempo to new arrangement elements. In the span of the last decade, all Borracho have ever done is exceed expectation. It is the manner in which they are most reliable, and on Pound of Flesh, they deliver once more.

Borracho, “Holy Roller” official video

Borracho on Facebook

Borracho on Twitter

Borracho on Bandcamp

Borracho website

Kozmik Artifactz website

Kozmik Artifactz on Facebook

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Pia Isa Debut Album Due out Next Year on Argonauta Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 2nd, 2021 by JJ Koczan

Admittedly, there isn’t much to go on here. About 30 seconds of slow riffy undulation and drifting vocals set to a video backdrop of black and white waves. But I’ll be damned if that isn’t enough for Pia Isa to give a sense of atmosphere ahead of whatever debut album might be forthcoming. The project is a solo break for Pia Isaksen, also of Oslo’s Superlynx, who released their Electric Temple (review here) full-length earlier this year, and while there’s not much more public than that at this point, the fact that Superlynx‘s own Ole Teigen handles drums and none other than Gary Arce steps in on guitar for a few tracks only helps build anticipation. Argonauta Records has the release sometime early next year. I hope I get to hear it before then.

If you didn’t hear Electric Temple, that’s streaming below, along with the Pia Isa teaser. Info came down the PR wire:

pia isa

SUPERLYNX Bassist/Vocalist Launches Solo Project PIA ISA And Signs To Argonauta Records!

Debut Album coming in early 2022!

Bassist/vocalist Pia Isaksen from the Norwegian heavy psych and doom band Superlynx has launched her first solo affair entitled PIA ISA! Her debut album will be released in early 2022 through powerhouse label Argonauta Records.

Having played and written music for most of her life, a solo album has been brewing in Pia´s mind for a long time. Recorded in early 2021, the album will feature high class guests such as Ole Teigen (Superlynx) on drums and guitarist Gary Arce (Yawning Man, Big Scenic Nowhere) on three of the album tracks.

As much as Pia loves playing with Superlynx and other fellow artists, her ideas for this album seemed more right to work through on her own. Her music is rooted in slow heavy drones but also has a lighter, dreamy and hopeful side. She is inspired by massive soundscapes, heavy psych, meditative moods, desert vibes and eastern scales as well as her nordic coastal surroundings. Superlynx listeners may recognize her slow, heavy, minimalistic riffs and haunting sometimes chanting voice, but also fans of acts such as Chelsea Wolfe may fall in love with her solo sound! Being open minded and not caring about fitting to any genres but channeling honest and heartfelt music in her own way, the lyrics on Pia‘s debut are deeply personal and stretches from the very inner self and throughout nature. According to Pia, “writing and recording the album has been a very cathartic process.“

Slated for a release early next year through Argonauta Records and with many more details and songs to follow soon, you can now listen to a first album teaser by PIA ISA here:

www.facebook.com/piaisamusic
www.instagram.com/piaisamusic
www.argonautarecords.com
www.facebook.com/argonautarecords

Pia Isa, Debut Album Teaser

Superlynx, Electric Temple (2021)

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Friday Full-Length: The Awesome Machine, The Soul of a Thousand Years

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 30th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

Released in 2003, The Soul of a Thousand Years was the final of five albums from Swedish heavy rockers The Awesome Machine. It’s probably not their best-known work, which might be their 1998 self-titled debut or 2000’s …It’s Ugly or Nothing, but for a decade from 1996 to 2006, they developed a take on meaty fuzz riffs and particularly Swedish burl that no one else ever managed to do in the same way during their era. After their 1999 second album, Doom, Disco, Dope, Death and Love, which was self-released, their last three LPs — the aforementioned …It’s Ugly or Nothing, 2002’s Under the Influence (also a gem) and The Soul of a Thousand Years — were all issued through People Like You Records. Now a subsidiary of Century Media — and it may have been then as well for all I know — the German imprint centers mostly on psychobilly and garage rock, very post-Hellacopters stuff, and acts like The Bones and so on. Their website doesn’t even mention any of these releases, so apart from the secondary market, they’ve been unavailable for however long.

The lineup on The Soul of a Thousand Years was vocalist Lasse Olausson, bassist Anders Wenander, guitarist Christian Smedström and drummer Tobbe Bövik, and the record is rife with hidden guest appearances from around the Gothenburg metal set of the time, but the impact is much more about the songs themselves. They open spacious on “Eating Me Slowly,” with big drums behind bigger guitars and vocals that soar largely because of the gutted-out power pushing them forward — Olausson reportedly blew out his voice during the recording in such a way as to have done permanent damage, removing his ability to tour and factoring into his leaving the band; listening to the record now, I believe it — but even in that track there’s an immediacy to the chorus that finds ready answer throughout the 12-song span.

With quiet stretches in the eventually-bursts-in-volumeThe Awesome Machine Soul of a Thousand Years moody highlight “Scars” and the later more gradual build of “Not My War” (the vocal layering there is subtle but worth specifically appreciating) that prove no less memorable than anything that surrounds them, cuts like “Forgotten Words,” “Hunt You Down,” “My Friend,” “Black Hearted Son” and “Bring Out the Dead” are ragers worthy of anything from the era you’d want to set them up against. “My Friend” careens and stomps with an intensity that’s raw despite sounding so full — oh, that bass is a delight; see also “Deadly Caress” and, well, just about everywhere — and all the while, the four-piece let loose killer hooks regardless of tempo or other aesthetic intent. For instance, they necessarily tell you that in “Hunt You Down,” with its great, lumbering swing, that it’s King Kong doing the hunting, but you get the idea anyway, and the song still gets stuck in your head. It is a multiple-tiered win.

And a multiple-tiered album. At 12 songs and 50 minutes, you would be within rights to call it a relic of the CD era, but one could hardly accuse The Awesome Machine of filler. The tracks vary widely. “Hunt You Down” moves into “Scars” moves into “My Friend” moves into the drum-centered, keyboard-inclusive interlude “Ghosts of Patroklos,” which is one of several short instrumental breaks where the forward shove of The Soul of a Thousand Years lets up. After “Black Hearted Son” delivers one of the collection’s most engaging heavy rock onslaughts and the subsequent “Deadly Caress” rolls out its own slower, creepier, still-chorus-minded and still-definitely-weighted fare, the analog pops and manipulated, sounds-like-an-old-78RPM guitar of “Tom’s Serenade” (Tom who? I don’t know) step back before the final movement of “Bring Out the Dead,” “Not My War” and the broader-echoing, intentionally-melodic closing title-track — the lyrics of which are largely kept to repetitions of the title-line — brings the album to a jammy, surprisingly fuzzed finish, consistent in its roll but purposefully left more open in its structure. If it’s a bid to emphasize how far The Awesome Machine have pulled their audience since the outset pair of “Eating Me Slowly” and “Forgotten Words,” the message of a journey undertaken is well received.

For a band to have established their sound five records into their career isn’t a huge surprise. The Awesome Machine knew their game and obviously knew how to put a full-length together from a procession of tracks. Frankly, they proved that before The Soul of a Thousand Years even came along. What their final album managed to do, however, was push the aggressive tendencies of Under the Influence into a more coherent form around tight-crafted, distinct songs. If you think about the progression of fellow Swedes Dozer and the shift they were undertaking at the time toward harder-hitting material, The Awesome Machine weren’t so far apart in ideology, but their melodies, the spaces they cover across their last offering and the identity that emerges therefrom is theirs in its entirety. This record, whatever identifiable genre roots and stylistic familiarities it might present, stands on its own in the strength of its writing, performance and overarching production.

After Olausson left, The Awesome Machine continued on by bringing in vocalist John Hermansen, who also made a debut in 2004 with Mother Misery. There are live videos available, but to my limited knowledge, apart from the two-song single “Demon King” released as a 7″ in 2005, there were no other proper recordings of that lineup.

I might be proved wrong, as The Awesome Machine just recently announced a deal with Ozium Records on their Facebook to issue a collection of rare tracks from throughout their career in limited numbers this Fall. No tracklist or specifics on that yet, but that there’s continued interest in the band some 15 years after their breakup should tell you something about the quality of the work they did together.

This was a record that, when I was a beardless lad discovering my way from more aggro metals into heavy rock groove, helped me understand that transition and how something could be heavy in a different way. Accordingly, it continues to hold a special place, and I’ll tell you honestly that putting it on even after a number of years of not hearing it, the songs came right back like old friends.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

Thanks for reading.

The Patient Mrs. is away for a few days, visiting old friends of her own. High school friends, in fact. We met in high school, so I know them as well, but the number of people I keep in touch with from that time in my life is about two-point-five — including my wife — and I’m pleased with that, generally speaking. But she’s well earned a couple days’ respite after having her work/life balance upended for the last year and a half. Let her go get drunk and have ladychat. It will be rough on Sunday when she comes home and invariably does the I-didn’t-do-any-work-for-three-days-so-I’m-totally-overwhelmed-and-also-really-exhausted-because-three-days-of-hardcore-social-interaction-is-draining, but worth it in the longer term. Not an undertaking I expect she’ll regret. She’s back on Sunday.

I meanwhile have been working on putting together a couple interviews. I’ll say outright that it fucking sucks to write about a band for 17 years and not be cool enough to get the guitar player to do a Zoom chat. That is humbling in a way that the music industry has always been humbling. Not that I’m owed anything, not that I’m entitled to anyone’s time or anyone’s entitled to mine, but yeah, oof. In the meantime though, I talked to Amber Burns from Witchkiss yesterday afternoon about her new band Guhts, and in about 25 minutes I’m on with Pat Harrington from Geezer with a plan just basically to catch up. Also there was the Hippie Death Cult interview that went up today, so I’m trying to keep up with that after being kind of derailed for the Quarterly Review a few weeks back. Making up for lost time and whatnot.

And of course I’m on full-go Pecan duty for a couple days. Dude has camp for a couple hours in the morning, so that’s good. Yesterday he had speech in the afternoon and took a nap — thereby facilitating the Guhts int — and today we’re going to go to the Turtle Back Zoo and bum around and ride the train, ponies, carousel, etc., for a while before probably going to Costco and back here for dinner. We’ll see. I’m not in a terrible rush or particularly worried about it. The truth is he’s a pretty good kid, and a little more prone to cooperate when he’s not showing off for his mother. I have high expectations for him, but he consistently meets them in a way a three-year-old might. I expect the zoo will be crowded since the weather’s nice, but it’s all outside so I’m not concerned about plague exposure so much as sun exposure. Hats and suncreen for all. Maybe a mask for me. He’ll have snackies.

Tomorrow’s a loaf day, which means morning cartoons (Daniel Tiger, maybe some Peep), and then my family is going to come hang out, so that should be good. I’ll be up early working on stuff for Monday — gotta stay ahead while you can — so if you need me for anything, I’m around.

Whatever you’re up to, I wish you a great and safe weekend. Have fun, hydrate, watch your head. All that stuff. Back for more shenanigans on Monday.

FRM.

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Video Interview: Eddie Brnabic of Hippie Death Cult

Posted in Bootleg Theater, Features on July 30th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

hippie death cult

We’re more than halfway through 2021 by now and nothing else has come down the line to vibe in quite the same way as Hippie Death Cult‘s Circle of Days (review here). Released in May through Heavy Psych Sounds as the follow-up to 2019’s 111 (review here), the components the Portland, Oregon, four-piece put to use are familiar enough — warm tones in the guitar of Eddie Brnabic and the bass of Laura Phillips, steady groove from drummer Ryan Moore, vocal melodies in increasingly complex arrangements from organist/keyboardist Ben Jackson and Phillips, fluid songwriting, etc. — but there’s something intangible about what they conjure on the five-track outing that’s distinct in mood and presentation alike.

Accordingly, since Brnabic (pronounced “brenn-a-bic”) has helmed all the band’s recordings and is the principle songwriter, he seemed likeHippie Death Cult Circle of Days the cat to hit up for a discussion about making Circle of Days both as a producer and an artist involved in the baseline creative process. Turned out he was. The conversation was initially mired in technical difficulties — it’s amazing that “crappy connection” has continued to be a theme throughout decades and generations of communication technologies, from “Mabel can you put me through to Klondike-609” to “Let me send you a new Zoom link, hang on,” but here we are — but Brnabic‘s personality actually mirrors the style of Hippie Death Cult in its subdued engagement. Neither performer nor group is a full-on blowout, but both offer an assurance of purpose and a subtlety. With the songs of Circle of Days, even the drift feels heavy.

Brnabic discusses digging deep into the tracks during the writing, digging deep into tones during the recording under pandemic lockdown, and puts that against the process of making 111, which as he tells it was essentially the band’s demo cuts put together as an album. Fair enough. One way or the other, the work done in making Circle of Days what it is shows a dedication to craft that is both structural and atmospheric, audience-considerate while in search of its own breadth and progressive boundaries yet to be discovered. Hippie Death Cult are already jamming new songs even as they look to embark on a West Coast tour supporting the current album, their release show for which was canceled in May, resulting in their playing a last-minute rooftop set at their practice space instead.

Well of course I wanted to talk about that too.

Interview follows here. Please enjoy:

Hippie Death Cult, Circle of Days Interview with Eddie Brnabic, July 27, 2021

Hippie Death Cult‘s Circle of Days is available to order through Heavy Psych Sounds. West Coast tour dates follow, including Psycho Las Vegas and Crucialfest X. More info and whatnot at the links.

Hippie Death Cult West Coast tour:
8/14 Portland, OR – Star Theater
8/17 Nevada City, CA – The Brick Venue
8/18 San Francisco, CA – Bottom of the Hill
8/20 Psycho Las Vegas , NV – Mandalay Bay
8/23 Tempe, AZ – Yucca Tap Room
8/24 Albuquerque, NM – @monolithonthemesa
8/25 Denver, CO – Hi-Dive Denver
8/27 Salt Lake City, UT – Crucialfest 10
8/28 Boise, ID – Neurolux

Hippie Death Cult, Rooftop Show in Portland, OR, May 22, 2021

Hippie Death Cult, Circle of Days (2021)

Hippie Death Cult on Bandcamp

Hippie Death Cult on Instagram

Hippie Death Cult on Facebook

Hippie Death Cult on Soundcloud

Hippie Death Cult website

Heavy Psych Sounds on Bandcamp

Heavy Psych Sounds on Instagram

Heavy Psych Sounds on Facebook

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Healthyliving Post “Until” Video; Until / Below Single out Now

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 30th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

healthyliving (Photo by Sandrina Schwarz)

Running about seven and a half minutes between its two tracks, the debut release, Until / Below, from multinational trio Healthyliving was released in late June. So about a month ago. I missed it coming in at the time, because blah blah suck at life, but the group based in Scotland and Germany — who stylize their name all-lowercase with spaces between the letters: h e a l t h y l i v i n g — are working their way toward a first full-length next year, and have a new video up for “Until,” the three-minute lead cut from the outing, and I’m happy to take it as a means of getting caught up.

The sonic foundation here is in heavy post-rock, and even in its comparative crunch when set against the subsequent “Below,” “Until” holds its atmospheric focus. Vocalist Amaya López-Carromero — also of Maud the Moth and operating as Amaya López-C. — is forward in the mix and as the chorus of “Until” pushes ahead in its layers, her voice is right there with the insistent rhythm behind, but the track is by no means overselling its hook. A straightforward structure underlieshealthyliving until below, but any pop elements are transmuted to suit Healthyliving‘s purposes. “Below,” a video for which came out at the time of the two-songer’s release and can be found near the bottom this post — which is not to say “below” — is calmer and moves deeper into ambience, with the striking addition of Stefan Pötzsch‘s spacious drums late along the contemplative noodling of guitar and vocal melody as a reminder of the heft that might resurface at any point. The wash that “Below” enacts in its midsection is immersive and brooding in kind, too short to really fully hypnotize, but willful-seeming in its lull and minimal in spite of its fullness, quiet in spite of its loud, expertly presented through the recording by guitarist/bassist Scott McLean.

I’ve included the full PR wire info about the release in no small part so that it’s there when inevitably I write about the band again and want to look back on it without digging through my emails. That’s just me being honest. If you take anything away from it, though, take the fact that one might already be thinking about “the next time” when it comes to Healthyliving as a sign of the potential for where the project might go on future offerings. Or, you know, just check out the video and dig a riff or whatever. Either way, you’re not gonna lose.

And in addition to both videos, you’ll find the Bandcamp stream of Until / Below too, for good measure.

However you go, enjoy:

Healthyliving, “Until” video

healthyliving is the project of long-time collaborators and friends Scott McLean (Falloch) on bass, guitars, and production, Stefan Pötzsch on drums, and Amaya López-C (Maud the moth) on voice and lyric writing. The shoegaze/alternative trio released their two-track release, until / below, last month on digital/streaming platforms.

“‘until’ was the first track written for the band, this was before we had any defined idea of what we were going to be doing as we hadn’t discussed the direction of the band before we had any music; it was informed on reacting to each other’s expression rather than a fixed direction,” shares Scott (bass, guitars). “Although ‘until’ is very different from ‘below’ they are both developed in the same emotive world but we are just responding to it in a different way, with ‘until’ being far more aggressive and ‘below’ having a much more introverted feel.”

“For this video I tried the same approach as for ‘below’, but things got a bit out of hand given my video-making limitations, so I needed help finishing it,” informs Amaya (vocals). “My friend Ana López, who made a video for Maud the moth, did most of the heavy lifting – editing and adding her amazing personal touch and vision which was a perfect match for this song. I somehow find it very aggressive visually which was super fun to do under a symbolic approach and resorting to movement and colour to convey this rather than more explicit imagery.”

until / below is now available on DSPs, access it RIGHT HERE: http://smarturl.it/until-below

After working on music together for years, healthyliving members’ artistic and personal connection coalesced naturally into what is now a small transnational collective and scene across Scotland and Germany. The group emerges to honour this connection which is reflected in the simplicity, rawness, and immediateness of both the compositions and the performances. With a stripped-down approach to instrumentation and visual universe, healthyliving draws from the beauty and horror of the mundane.

until / below, their first release is formed by two tracks — “until” and “below” — which work back to back like two extremely distanced sides narrating the same story. The trio is currently working on their debut album.

Recorded, mixed and mastered by Scott McLean at Fry the rich studio www.scottmclean.de.

healthyliving:
Scott McLean: Guitar+bass
Stefan Pötzsch: Drums
Amaya López-Carromero: Vocals

Healthyliving, “Below” official video

Healthyliving, Until/Below (2021)

Healthyliving on Facebook

Healthyliving on Instagram

Healthyliving on Twitter

Healthyliving on Bandcamp

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DoomFarmFest 2021 Set for Aug. 27-29; Earthbong, Confusion Master, Deadly Moussaka & More to Play

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 30th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

The sadly-usual caveats that apply to everything circa 2021 — announcements, life, etc. — are of course in play here. Is DoomFarmFest 2021 going to happen? Well, I’m no viral expert — and that should probably be the end of the sentence, but it’s not — but it seems to me the fact that it’s in a barn, which is presumably a pretty well ventilated area, plus the fact that it’s in a kind of remote locale, means that you’ve got a likelier chance than something in a major urban center that’s perhaps about to come under lockdown scrutiny again. That doesn’t mean DoomFarmFest will, or can, or should be anything less than diligent in observing any and all local, national, international and — let’s face it — reasonable restrictions, I’m just saying we don’t know what those might be by the time the end of next month comes. Or next week, for that matter.

And anyway, if you’re getting either your information or your opinions on such things from my ass, shame on you.

But as I’ve said once or twice at this point, I’m choosing to err on the side of positivity. If that makes dumb in the face of cynicism-as-intelligence, then fine. I’ll be dumb.

Here’s event info:

doomfarmfest 2021 poster

Welcome to DoomfarmFest 2021! 27-29 August

https://www.facebook.com/events/182841223860374/

2 days packed with concerts from dusk till dawn. Come join the harvest of the DOOMFARM in the wastelands of Brandenburg. The stage is in a huge barn on a ancient farm outside of Putlitz, Brandenburg.

After a season of enjoying riffs with our online events on DoomFarmTV, the time of harvest has come to the farm of doom. 12 bands bringing you doom, psychedelic, black metal funeral doom, post-metal, stoner, sludge, bloodthirsty metal, dope doom bong metal, that will be a feast to your ears.

Fuzzy fields and distorted cows roam stoned through the meadows. After months of silence, our Post quarantined needy ears will rejoice to the drone of heavy riffs and growls through the night.

BANDS OF THE HARVEST:
++ EARTHBONG (Kiel, Germany)
++ CONFUSION MASTER (Rostock, Germany)
++ DEADLY MOUSSAKA (Berlin, Germany)
++ AUFHEBUNG (Brussels, Belgium)
++ PIECE (Berlin, Germany)
++ LARES (Berlin, Germany)
++ TEARS OF FIRE ((Berlin, Germany)
++ HOMECOMING (Paris, France)
++ CANNABINEROS (Berlin, Germany)
++ HEXKEY (Berlin, Germany)
++ HONEY BADGER (Berlin, Germany)

More bands to be announced!

Tickets: https://www.eventbrite.de/e/doomfarmfest-2021-tickets-163882455837

Free camping & shower. Food and bar will be there! We will be following all current and local hygiene requirements. To ensure the health of our crew and guests Everyone MUST bring a Negative test result or proof of vaccination, or convalescence. Stay doomed! Stay healthy!

See you there!

https://www.facebook.com/events/182841223860374/
https://www.facebook.com/electricsabbathshows/
https://www.instagram.com/doomfarmfest/

Earthbong, Bong Rites (2020)

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