Hot Breath Stream Self-Titled Debut EP in Full; Out Friday on The Sign Records

Posted in audiObelisk on October 15th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

hot breath (Photo by Marcus Eriksson)

Swedish classic style heavy rockers Hot Breath will release their self-titled debut this coming Friday, Oct. 18, through The Sign Records. The conglomerate label has emerged as a home for retro-minded heavy (among other styles), from Hypnos and Heavy Feather to Märvel and MaidaVale, and in aligning with newcomer Göteborg four-piece Hot Breath, they continue the tradition of traditionalism, as well as specifically an association with Jennifer Israelsson and Jimi Karlsson. Both the vocalist and drummer of Hot Breath are former members of Honeymoon Disease, whose sophomore LP and apparent swansong, Part Human, Mostly Beast (discussed here), came out through the label in 2017, and the new outfit brings them together with Hypnos bassist Anton Frick Kallmin as well as guitarist Karl Edfeldt, whose other band, Grand, haven’t actually worked with The Sign (yet), but still, three out of four is a compelling enough statistic to tempt one to call Hot Breath a house band for their label. Nothing wrong with that, of course, and it only makes it more appropriate that as Hot Breath offer up the six tracks/21 minutes of Hot Breath just about a year after forming, they’re playing four dates over the next few weeks as part of The Sign Fest with labelmates in Skraeckoedlan, Vokonis, Children of the Sün, and more. Clearly a family affair.

Super-groovy, as the kids might say, and the same applies to the EP itself, which in a song like “1,000 Miles” careens through speed-at-night winding late-’70s proto-metallic riffing, topped with the vocals of Israelsson (I wonder if she’s any relation hot breath hot breathto Truckfighters drummer Daniel Israelsson), whose melodies fit right in with the hard-corner turns in the guitar and the forward propulsion of the rhythm. Whether it’s the hooky “What You Reap” at the conclusion, the earlier “Maniac” or the build-up back at the start with “Still Not Dead,” Hot Breath bring an infectious sense of energy to their tracks, here and there tapping into some non-glam/non-NWOBHM ’80s worship but as likely to pull influence from Joe Walsh as Scorpions as Electric Citizen as Death Alley, the latter seeming specifically to inform “What You Reap” and “Slight Air” before it, wrapping up the quick offering with some of its most fervent and insistent thrust, though that’s not at all to take away from “Got it All,” which is no less brash when it comes right down to it, and boasts some choice backing vocals in the chorus, adding to the already so prevalent catchiness thereof.

If it needs to be said, songwriting is a feature throughout Hot Breath‘s Hot Breath, and though one has to factor in that they’re still basically a brand new band, it shouldn’t be a mystery as to why they seem to have their wits about them in terms of what they want to be doing. It’s because they do. And whether it’s Israelsson and Karlsson‘s prior experience together in Honeymoon Disease or everyone’s experience more generally heavy rock bands of various stripes, clearly the effect of it all is that Hot Breath hit the ground running on their first outing in terms of style and substance both, with tight, high-quality songcraft and an energetic, natural performance captured that serves these tracks well and gives the listener notice of more to come. I don’t know how long it’ll be before Hot Breath get around to a debut album, but if one takes the Hot Breath EP as an advance warning of that, the heads up is indeed all the more appreciable. The converted will have no trouble digging in, and even those less experienced with Sweden’s classic/boogie set will find plenty to grasp onto in the songwriting and delivery.

So, uh, have at it.

The full stream of Hot Breath‘s Hot Breath is available on the player below, followed by more background from the PR wire and live dates, including those at The Sign Fest in the coming weeks.

Please enjoy:

the sign fest

Hot Breath delivers a six track K.O that is set for release the 18th of October on The Sign Records. Blending that immortal sound of 70s classic rock with their own pure attitude, add a bit of all those influences that you like, and you get Hot Breath’s self titled debut. Guitar solos stand side-by-side with Jennifer Israelsson’s (previously seen fronting Honeymoon Disease) swagger-filled vocals and a brilliant rhythm section in Jimi Karlsson (also ex-Honeymoon Disease) and Anton Frick Kallmin (Hypnos). Every track is a hit of its own accord, and by the time “What You Reap” rolls around, it’s clear that Hot Breath provides the soundtrack to the last drink that never ends.

Recorded and mixed by Jamie Elton (ex-Amulet) in Gothenburg during the summer of 2019. Axel Söderberg (Horisont) helped out on keys on the recording. Mastered by Hans Olsson Brookes at Svenska Grammofon Studion. Artwork by Jimi Karlsson. Cover photo by Marcus Eriksson.

Formed in October 2018 (with members from Honeymoon Disease, Hypnos and Grand) the band wanted to mix their various pasts into one vibrating sound. With a common ground of heavy rock Hot Breath quickly took shape and turned into a wicked animal that will twist your hips.

The release will be available on CD in Digipack, 180g Vinyl and Digital formats. Hot Breath is touring and kicks off their first Swedish tour joining a four-date The Sign Fest throughout Sweden.

Live:
18 October, Skylten, Linköping, Sweden (The Sign Fest)
19 October, Slaktkyrkan, Stockholm, Sweden (The Sign Fest)
25/26 October – Skövde, Sweden, In Rock Festival
8 November – Musikens Hus, Göteborg, Sweden (The Sign Fest)
9 November – Plan B, Malmö, Sweden (The Sign Fest)

Hot Breath are:
Jennifer Israelsson – Vocals and Guitar
Karl Edfeldt – Guitar
Anton Frick Kallmin – Bass
Jimmy Karlsson – Drums

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Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell Premiere “Mr. Freedom” from Very Uncertain Times

Posted in audiObelisk on October 14th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

admiral sir cloudesley shovell

Oh Admiral, my admiral. UK trio Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell will release their new album, Very Uncertain Times, through Rise Above Records on Oct. 25. It’s the answer to 2016’s Keep it Greasy (review here), and the introduction of new drummer/backing vocalist Serra Petale to the fold with guitarist/vocalist Johnny Gorilla and bassist Louis Comfort-Wiggett, and the core of the Hastings-based band’s approach remains firm in their commitment to raw, mean and dirty heavy garage rock and roll. Since their first 7″ showed up through Rise Above in 2010, followed by their debut LP, Don’t Hear It… Fear It! (review here), that’s been their way, and the intervening years have only made them grittier and greasier of sound. The spirit of Motörhead weighs heavily on the riffs in opener “Very Uncertain Times” and in the structure of hooks on early-goers “Ten Years Later,” “The Third Degree” and “Mr. Freedom,” but if you’re taking on Very Uncertain Times looking for some solution to the world’s larger sociopolitical problems — climate change, Brexit perhaps, the rise of nationalism and the arc of history’s bent toward injustice — that ain’t what Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell are about. I have no doubt that were the band collectively made prime minister they’d get some righteous shit done, but their fourth LP is hardly their way of announcing their candidacy.

Rather, it is a swaggering, show-up-to-the-party-trashed classic rocking bruiser. Gorilla‘s vocals are perhaps the most Kilmisterian aspect of the record, but a ’70s shove is fervent throughout one way or the other, and even when “Mr. Freedom” cuts the tempo inAdmiral sir cloudesley shovell very uncertain times its midsection to a sleeker boogie as a preface to the sleazy “Blackworth Quarry” later on, the change is momentary before the forward thrust resumes. Only three of the total eight tracks reach beyond the five-minute mark, and the longest is the opening title-track (immediate points) at 5:39, with the mid-paced “The Third Degree” (track three, of course) at 5:31 and closer “No Man’s Land” capping at 5:02 with a “War Pigs”-style apex in its bridge before closing on its central riff, but whatever Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell are doing in a given cut, their interest is not in wasting time. They start out at a sprint with “Very Uncertain Times” and hold to that ethic throughout, relying on a classic sound and sheer songwriting to carry them through. In that, they’re nearly as much proto-punk as they are proto-metal, but they’re lizard-brain heavy rock one way or the other, and the primitivism of the material is a crucial tie to their aesthetic that isn’t to be undervalued. It’s worth noting that while the songs are unmistakable in their intent and the production is natural, there’s little about it that feels like it’s playing toward vintage-ism nearly as much as toward a live presentation, and that energy carries through in scorching moments and nods alike, the chorus melody of “Iceberg” touching on psychedelia and the later shuffle of “Biscuits for Victor” as much loaded with biker-style swagger as it is, well, just plainly loaded.

You won’t find me arguing with the basic premise of Very Uncertain Times. If anything, the band seem aware of the understatement they’re making — hence “very” — but by the same token, their approach itself has never sounded more certain. Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell have flirted here and there with ethereal premises and still offer a touch of the otherworldly every now and again, but the great irony of Very Uncertain Times is how grounded it is and just how much the three-piece know what they want their songs to be doing at any given moment. With the addition of Petale‘s vocals alongside those of Gorilla, the dynamic has shifted some, but that only works in favor of the songs and the band as a whole. More than 10 years since their start, they’ve hit, and duly flattened, their stride.

PR wire info follows the premiere of “Mr. Freedom” below.

Please enjoy:

The more things change, the more they seem to plummet down the shitter. Fortunately, rock ’n’ roll is alive and well and guaranteed to make us all feel a little bit better about the state of things. Purveyors of nuts-out, ragged and riotous proto-metal since 2008, Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell have dedicated the last decade to kicking against the pricks and whipping up a thunderous storm of gritty, snotty and irresistible heavy rock. In 2019, Hastings’ finest three-man riff squad will save the day yet again with their fourth album, the shrewdly-titled Very Uncertain Times.

A reassuring presence for ferocious rock ‘n’ roll and medicated madness in a crazy, doomed world, Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell are back in the van and heading towards proto-metal nirvana at maximum speed and with no brakes. These may be uncertain times, but you can rely on the Admiral to keep the sonic accelerator floored.

“Our main hope, as always, is that we sell millions of copies enabling us to retire,” laughs Johnny. “Purely to spare the world from having to endure another greasy Shovell album! Oh, and we want to plague the world’s population with as many stupidly loud gigs as possible. Let’s face it, we sure don’t sound like anything else out there!”

Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell live:
Supporting Church of Misery (except the 17th)
Monday 14-10-2019 Berlin (GER), Zukunft
Tuesday 15-10-2019 Mannheim (GER), Jugendhaus
Wednesday 16-10-2019 Lille (FR), La Bulle Café
Thursday 17-10-2019 Landgraaf (NL), Oefenbunker (Shovell only show, no COM)
Friday 18-10-2019 Siegen (GER), Vortex
Saturday 19-10-2019 Antwerp (BE), Desertfest
Sunday 20-10-2019 Haarlem (NL), Patronaat
Monday 21-10-2019 Hamburg (GER), Hafenklang

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Review & Track Premiere: Hazemaze, Hymns of the Damned

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on October 14th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Hazemaze Hymns of the Damned

[Click play above to stream the premiere of ‘Shadow in the Night’ from Hazemaze’s Hymns of the Damned. Album is out November 22 through Cursed Tongue Records and Ripple Music.]

Vinyl preorders for Hazemaze‘s Hymns of the Damned start Nov. 1 through Cursed Tongue Records for a Nov. 22 LP/DL release. Ripple Music is putting the Swedish troupe’s second album out on CD as well, and the band have announced two release shows that are six days apart from each other, so one way or another, you might say the new record from Hazemaze is coming soon and choose your angle of approach accordingly. While there may be several threads involved in the arrival of the eight-track/41-minute follow-up to the Stockholm trio’s 2018 Kozmik Artifactz-delivered self-titled debut (discussed here), the LP itself is a heavy amalgam much easier to process in its garage-doom churn and dug-in riffage, informed by heavy blues but not beholden to them and bearing a persistent atmosphere of threat that speaks to an affinity for classic doom, particularly in songs like “Green River” (premiered here) and the subsequent weighted boogie of the penultimate “Reverend Death.” Those two cuts, as well as the raucous finisher “Forever Trapped in Hell” are shorter, in the three-to-four-minute range, than the five cuts prior that make up side A and the start of side B, and the effect is almost like Hazemaze have reversed the plot of many LPs and put the opening salvo in the closing position and turned the B side into the A side and the A side into the B side. The bottom line? If the release dates don’t disorient you, they’re going to get you one way or the other.

Actually, when it comes to what’s going to “get you,” it’s probably the songwriting. Hazemaze — guitarist/vocalist Ludvig Andersson, bassist Estefan Carrillo and drummer Nils Arkitekten Einéus — might not be revolutionary in aesthetic terms, but what they do, they do well and with the confidence of a band of much longer standing. There’s some element of Monolord-style atmospherics to the vocals on “Shadow in the Night,” the opening track and new single premiering above, but though certainly riffy, Hazemaze‘s trip is rawer in form and more about roll than crush. What “Shadow in the Night” sets in motion continues through the end of Hymns of the Damned in terms of forward momentum and classic affinity. There’s plenty of nod-fodder, to be sure, but as Hazemaze lead the way into “Morbid Lust” on a swinging bassline, there’s no question that movement is a focal point for the band and crucial to their approach. Einéus is duly beastly on his crash cymbal, adding uptempo flair to Andersson‘s riffing and languid vocals, while Carrillo‘s low end lurks beneath the distortion, carrying the weight that is so essential to the proceedings in mood and the sheer delivery. By the time they’re into “Thrill Seeker,” the course is set in terms of overarching groove and the sound and general spirit of the offering, which is ultimately to the band’s credit in terms of their efficiency conveying the grim (but still kind of a good time) ambience through the early tracks.

hazemaze (Photo by Magnus Nicander)

That might be an effect of the noted A/B swap method, or it might just be a consequence of knowing what they want out of their material more generally, but on either level, it only makes Hymns of the Damned more immersive and engaging on the whole for those willing to take it on. “Thrill Seeker” brings chug and violent threat in its verse alike in the Uncle Acid spirit with Andersson touching on layered self-harmony in the vocals, and “Lobotomy” stands among the most outwardly catchy of the inclusions as it rounds out the first half of the tracklist with a hook that continues the momentum set up on the first several tracks. Hazemaze‘s sense of movement might be subtle — that is, it doesn’t feel like they’re shoving you through one track to the next — but it’s there if not brazen in its intensity. They set a balance between atmosphere and push that works well across the span and, again, highlights the contributions particularly of Einéus and Carrillo to the songs on the whole. And though I haven’t seen a lyric sheet, even “Solicitor of Evil” — the longest cut at 6:56 and the presumed side B leadoff — doesn’t seem to be explicitly about killing women, so that’s a plus too if we’re thinking in the sphere of post-Uncle Acid garage doom. Certainly not every band can say the same. I like to think of “Solicitor of Evil” like a devilish attorney, but I’ll say again, I haven’t seen a lyric sheet to confirm that. Would be fun though.

On a lot of records, “Solicitor of Evil,” with its late wah bass and ultra-swing, would be the grand finale, but on Hymns of the Damned it’s just an introduction to the next stage, with “Green River,” “Reverend Death” and “Forever Trapped in Hell” reigniting the riffy momentum — and cowbell — of “Shadow in the Night” and bringing about a more bounding conclusion. In terms of general sound, there’s isn’t so much of a radical shift, but especially across multiple listens, the change is evident as “Solicitor of Evil” gives way to “Green River,” the storytelling aspect of which — “Walking down that dusty road…,” etc. — likewise signals a change of angle. Like the structure of the album generally, it’s not a move a less confident band could pull off, but Hazemaze do it by simply doing it, and that in itself is a statement of who they are as a group. As their second album careens to its brash finish with “Forever Trapped in Hell,” the more active and tightened craft only seems to underscore the point of Hazemaze‘s momentum earlier on the LP, their last hook giving way to a winding charge with a solo in the last minute and a series of hits that uses every single one of the track’s four minutes and 11 seconds. It is righteous and portentous in kind, since Hazemaze come across in the end like a band that still has much more to say; “leave ’em wanting more,” and all that. They do, even with the rest of Hymns of the Damned leading into “Forever Trapped in Hell,” and one can’t help but think that whatever the three-piece do from here, they’ll only have benefited from being so sure and so correct in the decisions they made with and within this material.

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Review & Full Album Stream: Stew, People

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on October 10th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

stew people

[Click play above to stream Stew’s People in its entirety. Album is out tomorrow on Ripple Music. Preorder here.]

Dig into the speed-shuffle vibes and overlaid bluesy overtones of sub-three-minute centerpiece “Play the Fool” and all questions about what Stew are up to should be summarily put to bed. There are few name brands as reliable these days as Swedish Boogie Rock, and while the country and the greater European underground has seen no shortage thereof over the course of this decade, the heavy ’10s round out in strong fashion with Stew‘s Ripple Music-delivered debut album, People. They tip the balance to one side or another in terms of mood and tempo, as one would hope, over the course of the 11-tracker — really 10 and the 32-second “Intro” that starts off — but what makes the crisp 37-minute offering so distinct is the momentum that carries the Lindesberg three-piece through and in particular how much guitarist Nicklas Jansson is responsible for that.

Of course, guitar leading the way through what’s essentially a riff-driven style of heavy rock isn’t so much a surprise as it is a tenet of the genre — and indeed, Stew‘s work will be readily familiar in its ’70s-worship purposes to the converted — but even with that in consideration, the way Jansson interacts musically with bassist/vocalist Markus Åsland and drummer Nicklas Dahlgren proves fascinating and is something that stands the band out among their many bluesy peers. Solos and lead lines periodically step forward to do the work of riffs, as in side B’s “Sweet and True” or the earlier title-track, with its subtly winding progression during the verse and nigh-on-hypnotic jam in its second half (the song, by the way, is under four minutes long, so take “jam” relative to that), and that gives Stew an all the more dynamic sound as they move through more straightforward fare like “Newborn” at a comfortable mid-paced sleek, dropping hooks as they go as trailmarkers for those making their way through an album that still somehow feels light on flourish.

Åsland‘s performance on vocals as well is worth specific note, as the character he brings to a song like “Endless Journey,” finds him settled into a niche somewhere between Chris Cornell and Robert Plant as the track careens between volume changes. From the outset of post-“Into” opener “Right on Time,” through “People” and the slower turn of “Newborn” after the opening salvo is concluded, Åsland is in command of the proceedings vocally and he remains so for the duration. Between his presence and Jansson‘s standout guitar work, Stew hone the very classic-power-trio impression they would so much seem to be shooting for — and in righteous fashion, most especially for the spirited edge they bring to the style. That is, they’re playing to genre, no question, but they’re bringing a sense of who they are as artists to that. It can be heard in a track like “Fruits,” which delves into more spacious fare pushed forward by Dahlgren‘s drumming, the swing of which is a somewhat understated but ultra-necessary anchor for the proceedings as a whole, and it’s their burgeoning identity that helps them stave off stylistic redundancy.

stew

And it is burgeoning. One should know going in that Stew seem by no means to be a finished product on their first album, but what they do throughout People, all the way down to the birdsong-laced acoustic closer “Morning Again,” is to give an initial showcase from which to build as they move forward. They’re working to establish themselves within a crowded subset of heavy rock that has been largely abandoned by its foremost champions, and while they bring classic ideas to bear with a modern production style and clarity, their purposes remain fluid throughout in songwriting and their ability to shift between various vibes, from the smooth semi-psych melodies of “Goddess” and the mellow blues in the first half of “Afraid of Getting Nowhere” to the rock ‘n’ riot of “Play the Fool” and the earlier one-two punch in “Right on Time” and “People,” they’re only bolstered by the obvious strength that comes from such flexibility.

When it comes to getting on board, they make it easy. People isn’t about issuing challenges to its audience so much as bidding welcome, and of course the familiarity at play in their sound is a part of that. They’re using the more established aspects of their sound — their direct influence from modern takes on vintage heavy — as a way of connecting with a specific listener, who knows what they’re doing and appreciates it, but the whole thing would fall flat were it not for the songwriting and performance underlying. It’s easy enough — if potentially expensive — to fire up the right gear and roll out a bit of boogie here and there, but to do so while leaving behind memorable tracks marked by highlight interplay between the members of the band is something else and something worth celebrating. As People plays out across its tight 37-minute run, it’s no challenge to discern where the band are coming from, but especially in considering it as their debut LP, even that fact says something positive about how they’re able to bring their stylizations to bear in such an effective way.

I don’t necessarily think Stew are setting out to rewrite the script when it comes to how boogie jams happen, and frankly, they don’t need to be. The only real shame about People is that it’s coming out as the air is getting colder and the nights are getting longer, instead of the opposite. Maybe it’s perfect Australian summer album. It’s not so much that its centered around tonal warmth, but there is something wholesome and sincere about its bluesy execution that seems just made for the outdoors, for sunshine, for some small “festival” happening on a stage outside in a Swedish forest with good friends and copious coolers of beer, maybe. I’m sure a given listener can paint their own scenario, but inspiring that too stands as one of Stew‘s marked strengths. There are more than a few throughout People, and they all tend to bode well for the band’s future prospects.

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Review & Full LP Premiere: Sons of Alpha Centauri, Buried Memories

Posted in audiObelisk on October 8th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

SONS OF ALPHA CENTAURI Buried Memories Cover

[Click play above to stream Sons of Alpha Centauri’s Buried Memories in full. It’s out Friday and available to order here.]

UK progressive instrumentalists Sons of Alpha Centauri will release the new LP Buried Memories on Oct. 13 through H42 Records, and it’s an offering that immediately begs inspection. Is it an album or a collaboration? An EP, since the first side is three different versions of the same track? As the follow-up to the band’s 2018 outing, Continuum (review here) — which was essentially the band on their own, even if they did work with Aaron Turner (Sumac, ex-Isis) as producer/mixer and John McBain (ex-Monster Magnet) for mastering — it continues a string of joined-f0rces efforts that goes back to their 2009 outing with Karma to Burn side-project Treasure Cat, which included tracks by Alpha Cat with both bands working together. Along the way, in addition to their 2007 self-titled debut (discussed here) and Continuum some 11 years later, they’ve also worked with Gary Arce of Yawning Man as Yawning Sons for the 2009 album, Ceremony to the Sunset (review here), and had a trilogy of splits with Karma to Burn (2010, 2014, 2015) as well as splits with A Death Cinematic and Hotel Wrecking City Traders/WaterWays (review here) in 2010 and 2012, respectively.

All of this, as one might expect, has made them somewhat hard to track, as they’re in and out of different incarnations and collaborations, but I think the band probably wouldn’t have it another way, and Buried Memories shows some of where that impulse comes from. The six-track/47-minute 12″ dwells in its complication no less than it dwells in instrumentalists depth and purpose, and I should point out right away that while “Hitmen” is the first three songs, not one version is immediately recognizable from the others. And that’s doubly to Sons of Alpha Centauri‘s credit, because it shows how much they’re willing to let their material be malleable. You see, each half of Buried Memories is dedicated to an outside mix collaboration. For “Hitmen,” they bring in three different incarnations of Godflesh‘s Justin K. Broadrick, who takes the song on first under the guise of himself, then as Jesu and finally as JK Flesh, bringing a distinctly different feel to each edition of the same root work. It’s perhaps easier to do since the songs don’t have verses or choruses weighing them down to a strict structure, but it’s true that each one carves its own impression, and as they move from eight-and-a-half, nine- and nine-and-a-half-minute versions, Broadrick seems to pull the track further from its foundation and bring something of his own to it. It’s not just a simple process of mixing in the sense of finding the right volume for Marlon King‘s guitar or Blake‘s synth, Nick Hannon‘s bass and Stevie B.‘s drums, but of exploring what distance “Hitmen” can cover from its origin. As the Broadrick mix turns to the more melodic Jesu mix to the avant-electro JK Flesh mix, that distance turns out to be pretty vast.

The second-side collaborator is no less than James Plotkin, whose mastering and production work covers myriad outfits and whose work in Khanate alone — never mind his copious other projects — deserves an eternity of thank-you cards, who takes on three different songs, all under the guise of himself. So side A, one song mixed by three versions of the same person. Side AA, three songs mixed by one version of the same person.

Everyone got it?

Okay.

Sons of Alpha Centauri 2019

And much to Plotkin‘s credit, the three inclusions he takes on also push further and further out as they go. “Warhero” (9:33) is relatively straight ahead, but in comparison to Broadrick‘s “Hitmen” shows a focus on bringing out a sense of space in the work, while the shorter “Remembrance” (2:42) dips into minimalist drone guitar almost as a transition into closer “SS Montgomery,” which also takes on a more electronic vibe, in a kind of dark-industrial vein that still holds a heavy presence thanks to the prominence of the live drums, but nonetheless surrounds those with a chaos-swirl of synth and the guitar. “SS Montgomery” is the payoff for the whole release, pushing through clarity toward destructive noise wash in its quick apex and leaving behind residual noise on a long outward fade, and the fact that even given all the shifts of style and intent that Buried Memories holds, Sons of Alpha Centauri would be able to pull everything together at the end speaks to what makes them so underrated in the first place. They are very much a conceptual outfit but still not blind to the basic purpose of making an album, of making songs.

That underlying message comes through clearly across Buried Memories, and whether you consider it an album, an EP, a one-off, or something else, there’s never any doubt Sons of Alpha Centauri are ready and willing to push themselves to take their music to new places and to try and encompass different ideas and evoke various mindsets as they go. It’s not every band who would be willing to hand off their material like this, even to the likes of Plotkin and Broadrick, let alone put it out in such a way that allows the tracks to take on a life of their own within their overarching catalog. I won’t pretend to know what Sons of Alpha Centauri might do next or where they’ll go from here — though they were certainly busy enough in between, it’s notable that it was 11 years from their self-titled to Continuum — but the way their progressiveness extends not only to the sound of the band but to the very makeup and intent thereof continues to make them individually flexible in a universe that seems rigid by comparison. Whatever they might do, this openness and dexterity can only continue to bolster their work. Imagine asking Justin Broadrick for three mixes by different personae. Imagine telling James Plotkin, “Just go with it.” The beauty of Buried Memories is in its outward movement and the sense of freedom it portrays: art as a living thing, music as sculpting clay to be shaped and re-shaped. As regards the creative, there are few ideas more noble.

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Bask Premiere “Three White Feet” from III

Posted in audiObelisk on October 2nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

bask (Photo by Jameykay and Arlie Huffman)

North Carolina’s Bask release their new album, III, on Nov. 8. It is, as you might expect, their third album, as well as being their debut on Season of Mist after issuing 2017’s Ramble Beyond through tastemaking Euro imprint This Charming Man Records and their 2014 debut, American Hollow, through Crimsoneye and Wonder Records. If what you’re reading in that is a steady progression, then you’re getting the underlying message that applies as well to the sound of the band, which reaches to new heights of melodic accomplishment on III‘s seven-track/36-minute run. I’ll say that it’s not often I review an album and then the same week do a track premiere from that same record. Generally I’d try to coordinate those things together or, having already reviewed it, take a pass on the premiere and cover something else. In the case of Bask, it’s an exception for a record that I think is worth the extra focus.

III isn’t and shouldn’t be shy about its pastoral aspects, and that is something that begins as the Asheville four-piece of guitarist/vocalist Zeb Camp (who since he’s apparently the only one singing does a lot of self-harmonizing on the recording, I suppose), guitarist Ray Worth, bassist Jesse Van Note and drummer Scott Middleton get the proceedings underway with “Three White Feet.” As the opening song premieres below, it’s interesting to note that it was also the first song that came together when they started writing this batch of material. Mostly because it’s so complex. One might guess at the riff that kicked them off — you’ll know it when you hear it, and subsequent side A installments “New Dominion” and “Stone Eyed” operate similarly in solidifying around a capital-‘r’ Riff, while centerpiece “Rid of You” centers more around the melody, and “Noble Daughters I: The Stave” recalls much-missed NC natives Caltrop in its vocal, “Noble Daughters II: The Bow” pays off itself as well as its predecessor and, really the whole album, and “Maiden Mother Crone” exits on a banjo-fied note — but the rest of the track brims with rich melody and progressive stylistic turns that indeed foreshadow a large part of III‘s personality. If this was how they started off, then clearly they knew what the fuck they were doing going into making the album.

Their quote on the subject, aside from that useful info nugget, is pretty short, but you’ll find that below, as well as the preorder link for III courtesy of Season of Mist. I won’t delay you further from the song.

Please enjoy:

Bask, “Three White Feet” official track premiere

Bask on “Three White Feet”:

“We are excited to bring you ‘Three White Feet,’ a song of devotion and revenge. It’s track one on our upcoming album ‘III,’ and the first to take shape during the writing process.”

Taken from the forthcoming album, ‘Bask III.’ Release Date: November 8, 2019.

Order here: https://smarturl.it/BaskIII

Bask is:
Jesse Van Note – bass
Scott Middleton – drums
Ray Worth – guitar
Zeb Camp – guitar/vocals

III Guest Musicians:
Jed Willis – Pedal Steel on “Maiden Mother Crone”
Meg Mulhearn – Violin on “Maiden Mother Crone”

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Bask website

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Leeds Point Premiere Title-Track of New Album Equinox Blues; Out Oct. 4

Posted in audiObelisk on September 30th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

LEEDS POINT

Long Island-based heavy trio Leeds Point will issue their third album, Equinox Blues, on Oct. 4. They’ve been kicking around the NY heavy underground for the better part of six years, with Eddie Combs on vocals and bass, Mike Minolfo on guitar and Anthony Minolfo on drums, and Equinox Blues follows a host of self-released outings; singles and EPs, but also 2016’s Fahnestock Rock and their 2014 debut, The Hooded Ones, which more openly embraced a straight-ahead stoner metal ethic. True to its title, Equinox Blues takes a bluesier approach across its seven-track/39-minute run, and considering the fact that the band record everything they do themselves — this time on analog equipment; self-recording is one thing, self-recording to tape quite something else — one can only think of the shift in sound as purposeful. Combs‘ vocals reside comfortably deep in the mix and are backed by harmonized layers. The guitar sound is wide-open and classic feeling but still weighted, and the drums push ahead through one rolling nodder groove after the next, resulting in a naturalism reminiscent of Mos Generator and Australia’s Child at the same time, but not really sounding like either.

After opening with its longest track (immediate points) in “Elemental Haze,” the album shoves its momentum forward on “Turn of the Wheel” while letting organ and mellotronLeeds Point Equinox Blues add shimmer to “Valley of Torches,” managing to keep an organic feel despite obvious and necessary use of layering — otherwise they’d need about six people — but I have to believe some amount of basic tracking was done live given the energy in the build of “Valley of Torches” or the way the boogie of “Elemental Haze” seems to follow the guitar’s direction in its later reaches. The title-cut is the shortest inclusion on the record at 3:34, but proffers a shuffle worthy of any heavy ’70s comparison you’d want to put to it, and still seems to bring a reminder that once upon a time a Cactus grew and a Mountain emerged from Long Island. Leeds Point aren’t doing pure ’70s worship either in songwriting intent or production style, but Equinox Blues tips the balance that’s always been in their sound to that direction, and as they find the right position of elements in the mix such as to maximize the fluidity and hook of “Sunken Mine” without any single piece being too high or too far back, it’s hard to argue with the notion that they nailed the stylistic shift that they undertook with such clearheaded intent.

By the time they get to the rampaging solo in “Sunken Mine,” they know it, and that swagger suits their sound as well, whether it’s the swing in Minolfo‘s drumming or the smooth air push in Combs‘ bass. “Sunken Mine” jams its way into a last roll and leads into “Blood from a Stone,” a more forceful boogie that acts as the penultimate shove before the mellotron drama of “The Ritual” closes out with a fervent final build culminating in tight but still natural twists as the band circle around the crisp rhythm they’re putting forth. They make it easy to imagine seeing that live, which likewise can only be purposeful, and underscores the success of the album as a whole in conveying its intended vibe. I don’t know what gave Leeds Point the blues sometime in the last three years, but it works for them, and seems to have taught them a more patient vision of songcraft and execution that allows parts to breathe without becoming redundant. If nothing else, Equinox Blues seems to be begging for a vinyl release, and if the band don’t do it on their own — they are pretty self-sufficient, remember — no doubt someone out there will pick them up for one.

Happy to premiere the title-track below ahead of the Oct. 4 release. Leeds Point have dates lined up in October around New York and Connecticut and you’ll find those listed below.

Please enjoy:

LEEDS POINT is a heavy rock band from New York, bent on doing things the old way. Drawing inspiration from many different eras of music, Leeds Point has used this as a foundation to create its own unique, timeless sound. With only three members, the band still manages to pack a punch utilizing a deep, heavy groove, and powerful riffage.

Tracklisting:
1. Elemental Haze
2. Turn of the Wheel
3. Valley of Torches
4. Equinox Blues
5. Sunken Mine
6. Blood From a Stone
7. The Ritual

Leeds Point live:
10.07 Tipperary Huntington NY
10.08 Mr. Beery’s Bethpage NY
10.21 Lucky 13 Brooklyn NY
10.28 Outer Space Ballroom Hamden CT
11.18 Mr. Beery’s Bethpage NY

Leeds Point are:
Eddie Combs – Vocals/Bass
Mike Minolfo – Guitar
Anthony Minolfo – Drums

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No Requests Premiere Nobody Knows What We’re Doing… Neither Do We EP in Full; Out Tomorrow

Posted in audiObelisk on September 26th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

no requests

The new No Requests EP — out tomorrow — is called Nobody Knows What We’re Doing… Neither Do We, and fair enough. But I’m not sure I believe it. That is to say, yeah, the South African three-piece probably have a decent amount of improvisation and experimentation at the heart of their approach, but this kind of progressive weirdo psych jazz funk astro rock doesn’t just happen. Even if they’re freely exploring, you can hear it in the way the bass and drums give the guitar room in the expansive solo of opener “Choir on Fire,” or the way the punch of the bass in that song and the vocals in the later title-track seem to echo Parliament-via-Primus, that at very least there’s some kind of masterplan at work. I get a cheeky title, and I’m on board with the fact that a lot of people who listen to this 26-minute four-tracker are going to have no idea what the hell is going on with it — that was part of the appeal for me in hosting the stream, to be perfectly honest — but take at least the second clause of the EP’s title with a grain of salt, because they make it pretty clear they know what they’re doing. You don’t call a song “Tonal Shampoo” that actually sounds like tonal shampoo by mistake.

But while you infuse your conceptual engagement with Nobody Knows What We’re Doing… Neither Do We with the due amount of sodium — however many grains it takes — give the audio a genuine chance. Go into it knowing that,no requests nobody knows what were doing and neither do we yeah, the bass on “Tonal Shampoo” and some of the guitar might be turned backwards. That, yeah, the title-track is way over the top. It’s supposed to be. Guitarist/vocalist Chris van der Walt, bassist Clint Falconer and drummer Gareth Bunge are perhaps playing the kind of freakout prog that’s best appreciated by other musicians but I’m willing to wager that any fan of sonic absurdity in general can get down with the repeated title-line of “Nobody Knows What We’re Doing… Neither Do We” as van der Walt swaps between different voices, and maybe even the free jazz of closer “Row-Bot,” which is just the kind of bizarre out-there six-minute conclusion the rest of the EP earns. It’s a stretch, but this is real life, what isn’t. And if you can’t get down with something that’s genuinely trying to challenge both itself and its listenership, I’ve got nothing for you. Certainly not an EP to listen to.

Otherwise, you can dig into the entirety of Nobody Knows What We’re Doing… Neither Do We via the YouTube embed below. Take a second, take a deep breath, let your expectations get loose a little bit, and be ready to have fun with it, because at its heart, it is a good time. I hope you think so as well.

Please enjoy:

No Requests, Nobody Knows What We’re Doing… Neither Do We (2019)

Nobody Knows What We’re Doing Neither Do We, the new album from South African experimental psychedelic funk rock band No Requests releases today.

Formed by Chris van der Walt (Vulvodynia), Clint Falconer (Dan Patlansky) and Gareth Bunge (The Black Cat Bones) who have been all been a constant force in the SA music scene for the last 15 years. Focusing on different styles of composition and improvisation, the band creates an unheard sound and mood that grooves deep into your soul.

The 4 track EP is a collection of free form jam sessions as bassist Chris explains, “It was a different experience. We walked in, wrote an idea, jammed it, and recorded it. Most of it is improvised.” He goes on to add, “When you jam in that unknown space the magic starts to happen. You rely on other instincts and use your musical bag of tricks to survive.”

Track Listing
1. Choir on Fire
2. Tonal Shampoo
3. Nobody Knows What We’re Doing
4. Row-Bot

Nobody Knows What We’re Doing Neither Do We is out now on all digital platforms including Spotify and Apple Music

Order Link: https://music.apple.com/za/album/nobody-knows-what-were-doing-neither-do-we-ep/1477361094

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