Gurt Premiere “Knife Fever” Lyric Video; New Album Satan Etc. Out June 7

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 16th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

gurt (Photo by Mithun)

Gurt‘s fourth full-length, Satan Etc., will be released June 7, and to go with announcing that happy and foreboding prospect, the London-based party sludgers are premiering a lyric video for the new song “Knife Fever” that you can see below. With chasm screams and no shortage of aural crush, you’ll be glad to know that the five years since their last outing, 2019’s Bongs of Praise (review here), does not seem to have dulled their impact. But to coincide with its raw push, “Knife Fever” reminds that Gurt have always also been able to make caustic sounds memorable for more than just, well, being caustic, and as frontman Gareth Kelly repeats the lines, “I’ve never done this before/Can you tell?,” don’t be surprised if you end up with those screams stuck in your head after the fact.

Satan Etc. — not their first brilliant title, hopefully not their last — is a welcome reminder of the band’s dual penchants for hooks and aural slaughter, and some of the efficiency-uptick in their delivery as referenced by the PR wire below can indeed be heard in the structural clarity throughout the sub-four-minute runtime of “Knife Fever.” How that might play out across the album as a whole is something that probably requires hearing said thing in its entirety, and as I’ve not yet done that, can’t necessarily speak to it — but if they’re pushing a more pointed attack, “Knife Fever” embodies one in more than just the conveniency of a pun that I assure you was all the way intended.

And as Gurt approach their 15th year in 2025, perhaps you’re thinking this all a sign of maturity, grown-up-Gurt, and so on. Could be, but I mean, they did call the record Satan Etc., so I feel decent in the assumption that there’s further chicanery to follow. Here’s looking forward.

Info from the aforementioned PR wire follows here. Please enjoy:

Gurt, “Knife Fever” lyric video premiere

Preorder: https://gurt.bigcartel.com

It’s been five long years since “party doom” riff merchants GURT released their last crushing opus “Bongs of Praise”, now on June 7th 2024 they are set to return with their latest, crushing-ist opus yet, “Satan Etc”.

A lot has happened in the band members lives since 2019, some suffered tragic losses, some welcomed new life into the world, some grew awesome skullets. Not to mention that global event in 2020 that kept us all inside.

Left to ferment in frustrating circumstances has led to the new material being more aggressive and abrasive than previous offerings, whilst still retaining that signature GURT silliness and swagger.

In January 2024 GURT took these new songs into the mighty Monolith Studios in London and under the watchful eye of Steve Sears, they birthed the magnificent, monstrous “Satan Etc”. This album marks GURT’s 5th collaboration with Sears, who always coaxes the best out of the band with a healthy mixture of positive support and scathing insults.

When asked about the influences and inspiration behind this album vocalist Gareth Kelly states “it’s about survival in the very fucked up world we live in, but of course delivered in the bands tongue in cheek style”. Drummer Bill Jacobs says ” we wanted shorter punchier songs to go with the new aggro vibe, nothing to do with us being older and fatter” whilst bassist David “Spicy” Blakemore enigmatically adds “I’ve been listening to lots of Slavic hardcore!”.

Delving into varied topics, from bodged vasectomies to the beauty of brown cars, from self pleasure on Arrakis to the wholesome matter of how damn much Gareth loves his kids, “Satan Etc” is the sound of the band ready to get back to doing what they love most: having a great big sludgy party with their rabid fans. PARTY DOOM HAS EVOLVED.

“Satan ETC” is released on 7th June via When Planets Collide and is available to pre-order from: https://gurt.bigcartel.com

GURT are:
Gareth Kelly – Vocals
Rich Williams – Guitar
David Blakemore – Bass Guitar
Bill Jacobs – Drums

Band photo by Mithun.

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Darsombra Premiere “Shelter in Place” Video; European Tour Starts This Week

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 15th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

darsombra shelter in place video

Darsombra released their plague-chronicle 2LP Dumesday Book (review here) last August — Crucial Blast has a double-tape out as of March — and, well, maybe it’s time to start thinking of the go-forth-from-Maryland two-piece as more of a longform art project than a band. If they were more pretentious, less inclined to roam and had more money, they’d probably be able to cast themselves as ‘arthouse,’ but the fact is their work isn’t really meant for gallery walls or any other kind. It’s too open in itself to be so contained. Free-drone.

From the sirens of “Call the Doctor (Pandemonium Mix)” and the chants of “Everything is Canceled,” from the drumless guitar prog and oddball vocals repeating the title of “Gibbet Lore” as it comes to a head to the serene reaches where the near-18 minutes of “Azimuth” end up, there’s not much that feels off limits to the duo of Ann Everton and Brian Daniloski. Synthesized, organic, programmed or pulsed, the material is defined in part by the whims it chooses to follow, and while that can at times lead to a kind of willful disjointedness — because not everything connects and not everything is supposed to; you’re not in an ’80s sitcom — Dumesday Book is an encompassing memoir of a time that at least many would rather forget than learn from. They’re not much for percussion and never have been, but neither do pieces like the empty-space strum and blown-out preach of “Plague Times” or the foreboding reprise “Still Canceled” lack movement. As they do, Darsombra are just tracing the patterns of their own math.

I won’t lie to you and say it isn’t helpful having a stated and discernible theme to latch onto in listening to Dumesday Book — the tracks themselves more ‘of the time’ than ‘about’ it — but their keys-and-guitar-based explorations have rarely been unwelcoming in the past, at least to those able to let go of expecting things like verses and choruses in their music. As regards the video premiering below for opening track “Shelter in Place,” the visual fluidity of movement of wind through the dark fabric that becomes ghostly, cosmic, colorized, and so on, is somewhat ironic given the title’s inherent stillness, but I’m not sure that isn’t the idea or that the spectral figure reminiscent of Death itself isn’t the story of the covid pandemic arriving at the shores of humanity’s collective helplessness at the outset of this downhill decade. And you know what? It’s Darsombra, so it’s also okay to not be sure. Not like they’re judging.

Everton and Daniloski begin their next European tour at Roadburn 2024 this Friday, and they’ll hook up with Stinking Lizaveta for the UK portion of the run to hit Desertfest London after playing the anniversary party for Exile on Mainstream in Germany. They’re abroad through the end of May and into June, and it likely won’t be long before they announce the next month-plus tour after this one because that’s how it goes with Darsombra‘s have-noise-will-travel nomadic tendencies. No coincidence that comes paired with such a resonant sense of sonic adventurousness.

“Shelter in Place,” at just three minutes, is the opening to the world portrayed throughout Dumesday Book. On its own, it provides a sample of Darsombra‘s aural dimensionality without necessarily encapsulating the whole. It leads you in, in other words.

Please enjoy:

Darsombra, “Shelter in Place” video premiere

Music by Darsombra
Video directed and edited by Ann Everton
Camera work by Brian Daniloski

“Shelter In Place” is the first track on Darsombra’s 2023 double album, “Dumesday Book”, available at darsombra.com.

Shot on location at Assateague Island, USA. No ponies were harmed in the making of this film.

The latest video from Dumesday Book arrives with “Shelter In Place,” the album’s opening track. “Shelter In Place” is an ominous, majestic introduction to the album’s uncertain journey of the deep range of human emotions characteristic during plague times. The track is quaking, vast, and full of portent; the video, filmed and edited by Everton, gives the tsunami of precarious fear a doleful, baleful visage. Welcome to the trip.

Dumesday Book is available on CD, 2xLP, and digitally on DARSOMBRA’s Pnictogen Records. Physical formats include a twelve-page booklet, a sticker, and a download code with access to bonus material.

Place orders at the band’s webshop HERE: https://www.darsombra.com/

Bandcamp orders HERE: https://darsombra.bandcamp.com/album/dumesday-book

Additionally, Crucial Blast just released the record in a limited double-cassette box set, available HERE: https://crucialblast.bandcamp.com/album/dumesday-book

This week, DARSOMBRA will make their return to the Roadburn Festival alongside The Jesus And Mary Chain, Chelsea Wolfe, Khanate, Blood Incantation, and dozens more. Roadburn is followed by shows across Germany, Poland, Holland, and Belgium, on their way to play Exile On Mainstream 25 Festival dates in both Berlin and Leipzig – the 25th anniversary of the diverse label for which DARSOMBRA is an alumni act – with Ostinato, A Whisper In The Noise, Caspar Brötzmann Massaker, Conny Ochs, and many others also on the four-day/two-city bill.

In the wake of EOM25, they’ll join up with their allies Stinking Lizaveta for shows across the UK, including Desertfest London with Godflesh, Suicidal Tendencies, Ufomammut, Bongripper, Acid King, Monolord, and many more. DARSOMBRA will then make their live debut in Ireland, playing three shows across the country. See all confirmed dates below and watch for additional tour dates for the Summer and Fall months to be announced.

DARSOMBRA Tour Dates:
4/19/2024 Roadburn Festival – Tilburg, NL
4/24/2024 Kunstverein Hintere Cramergasse e.V – Nuremberg, DE
4/25/2024 Kalambur – Wroclaw, PL
4/26/2024 Lot Chmiela – Poznan, PL
4/27/2024 Awaria – Krakow, PL
4/28/2024 Mlodsza Siostra – Warsaw, PL
5/03/2024 Het Alternatief – Nijmegen, NL
5/05/2024 De Loft – Herent, BE
5/09/2024 Exile On Mainstream 25 Fest – Berlin, DE
5/10/2024 Exile On Mainstream 25 Fest – Leipzig, DE
5/14/2024 The Gryphon – Bristol, UK w/ Stinking Lizaveta
5/16/2024 Puzzle Hall Inn – Sowerby Bridge, UK w/ Stinking Lizaveta
5/17/2024 The Cellar – Cardigan, UK w/ Stinking Lizaveta
5/19/2024 Desertfest – London, UK w/ Stinking Lizaveta
5/22/2024 The Lubber Fiend – Newcastle, UK w/ Stinking Lizaveta
5/23/2024 BLOC – Glasgow, UK w/ Stinking Lizaveta
5/24/2024 St. Vincent’s Chapel – Edinburgh, UK w/ Stinking Lizaveta
5/25/2024 Tooth & Claw – Inverness, UK w/ Stinking Lizaveta
5/30/2024 Coughlan’s – Cork, IE
5/31/2024 Kasbah/Dolan’s – Limerick, IE
6/01/2024 Saturday Anseo – Dublin, IE

Darsombra, Dumesday Book (2023)

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Friday Full-Length: Temple Fang, Live at Krach am Bach

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 12th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

The tab’s been open for the last week in my browser, and that’s as long as Temple Fang‘s Live at Krach Am Bach has been out. I exhausted however many streams were allotted listening through the two-song/52-minute set the Amsterdam psych-of-spirit four-piece played at the June 2023 edition of the Krach Am Bach Festival in Beelen, Germany, and, well, April is tax season here in the US, so I was thinking maybe I could write off the three-euro download if I classify The Obelisk as a failed business venture. Yes, I do consider “failed business venture” a compliment.

There is a cassette pressing of Live at Krach Am Bach as well, 100 copies. It looks pretty sweet, with Maaike Ronhaar‘s on-stage photo of guitarist/vocalist Jevin de Groot as seen from behind mid-testimony printed on a black and white j-card, kind of a bootleg vibe, but pro-shop, as is the recording by Niek Manders for which guitarist Ivy van der Veer handled the mix. To be honest, I just didn’t have the €10 for it this morning or I’d have picked that up, but you take what you can get, and that Temple Fangde Groot, van der Veer, bassist/vocalist Dennis Duijnhouwer and drummer Daan Wopereis — are able to put together an enticing live record at this point should come as little surprise. Live at Krach Am Bach is their sixth one in the last two years.

One might extrapolate from that some idea where the band’s priorities are generally when setting six live releases against their lone studio LP, Fang Temple (review here), which first arrived in 2021 and was pressed the next year through Stickman Records, and its later-2022 EP follow-up, Jerusalem/The Bridge (review here), but if Manders has a penchant for recording off the board while doing front-of-house sound for the band, that has only to this point served them well. To wit, Live at Krach Am Bach is — I believe — the third release from the tour they were doing at the time in 2022. It follows Live at Schlachthuis and Live at Freak Valley (review here), both released last April (the former on tape, the latter a CD/LP on Stickman), and as with those, the narrative around the performance is part of the character that emerges from listening.

I don’t want to just cut and paste the story from their Bandcamp, but the summary is that, as documented elsewhere, they were somewhat winging the tour as they got settled in with Daan Wopereis taking over on drums for Egon Loosveldt, playing different material. It started to rain before they went on. Between songs on the recording, you can hear Duijnhouwer say to the crowd, “Amazing view from here — you guys look good in plastic.” If you had no idea what was going on at the time — if you didn’t know that the audience had either put on ponchos or otherwise tried to cover themselves to keep the water off so they could enjoy the show — you could be forgiven for being confused. Is he on acid? Is he a serial killer? “You look good in plastic?” What the hell is that supposed to mean? It’s ponchos. Chill out.

By then, de Groot has already professed to being on the verge of tears and called the crowd “fucking beautiful, all of you,” before singing out “Take me to the place I have always been” aheadtemple fang live at krach am bach of “Gemini” (21:46) moving into its final phase in the last third, a build that starts with mellow bass, drums and guitar and resolves its extended flow with a striking and memorable chorus, de GrootDuijnhouwer and maybe van der Veer sharing vocals. Both “Gemini” and “Not the Skull” (32:22) featured on 2020’s Live at Merleyn and the recorded-in-2019/released-in-2022 Live at Ocii and Live at Vera, but in different forms with “Silky Servants” included in “Gemini” and “The Radiant” between the other two pieces in the non-festival setting. If your eyebrow went up at Live at Krach Am Bach being the third offering from a single tour, I’ll note that the sets from Live at Schlachthuis and Live at Freak Valley were each comprised of one track only, “Grace,” which to the best of my knowledge, like “Gemini,” has yet to feature on a studio recording.

In addition, both “Gemini” and “Not the Skull” have evolved since those earlier 2019 recordings. That turn back to the chorus of “Gemini” in the back end doesn’t happen with “Gemini/Silky Servants” on Live at Occii, and “Not the Skull” at Krach Am Bach was 11 minutes longer than the studio version that appeared on Fang Temple. What one can glean from this is an ethic of openness to the moment. Standing on stage, the members of Temple Fang are in conversation with each other musically — not just with the “Yeah” at 29:33 into “Not the Skull” to mark the change as the band aligns around Duijnhouwer‘s boogie-shove bassline for a finish likewise raucous and rocking — and the amorphous character of the material that’s been revealed over time comes across as purposefully not definitive. This is what these songs were this day, in the rain, in Germany. The next day it might have been a completely different experience.

The underlying message might be that we limit our reach when we impose rules and definitions on ourselves, of style or substance. If Temple Fang went out and delivered the same set every night in the same way, well, they’d probably still be pretty cool because they play well individually and as a group, but the personality would be different, and by not limiting themselves, they are inspiring on a level that goes beyond the meditative aspects of their exploratory psych or the outright soul with which de Groot tears into a given solo. The songs aren’t completely shapeless by any means — as noted, “Gemini” lands a hook, and “Not the Skull” is all the more encompassing for its plotted movement toward that ending — but on Live at Krach Am Bach, it’s clear they’ve been allowed to breathe and become what they will. Along with the basic audio of the thing, that’s also part of what’s being preserved here. They capture it vividly, and it is an idea worthy of the reminder.

Which I guess is how you get to six live records in a two-year span.

They’re doing a weekender now and have another booked for later in April, two German and one Dutch show for each, and have been confirmed for Sound of Liberation‘s Lazy Bones Festival 2024 this October in Hamburg. I wouldn’t be surprised if more dates surface around that, or if they have another offering or two to make before they next hit the road, reveling as they do in the universe of infinite possibility.

As always, I hope you enjoy. Thanks for reading.

My sister called a few minutes ago. My mother fell. She’s 77, needs new knees, is figuratively and literally crippled by fear at the prospect of surgery. No serious injury — this time — but it’s a stirring reminder of her advancing age and of course of my own. My father is dead and they didn’t live together, and my sister, who lives in the same house with her own husband and two kids, is primary. I’m of course glad she didn’t get hurt. Takes the day down a peg.

But the whole week was a mess, really. The Patient Mrs., The Pecan and I started out Sunday on a four-plus-hours trip to somewhere in New York’s Finger Lakes — which it turns out are gorgeous; go figure — to see Monday’s eclipse in totality. We stayed somewhere in Pennsylvania on Sunday night, and one skinned Pecan knee from running by the motel pool later, continued the ride north Monday to meet up with family friends and their kids who had likewise made the trip from their home in Brooklyn.

Did we see the eclipse? Nope. Cloudy. It got dark, then it got light. It was weird, nowhere near as cool as we all tried to sell it to the children as being, and if the question is whether or not it was worth the five-hour drive home (The Patient Mrs. did the outbound trip; credit where it’s due) listening to The Pecan whining about not being able to play mahjongg on The Patient Mrs.’ phone, let alone the money for gas, food and lodging, my answer is a resounding no. Some you win, some you lose.

Tuesday I wrote all day. Following on from Spring Break all last week, this Wednesday was another day off from school for The Pecan. Most of the day was rainy and I chose to forego her ritalin since it was just the two of us and the dog, and I firmly believe that made her morning, afternoon and evening harder. She was a mess all day, and even after The Patient Mrs. came home from work to take her to her afternoon ice skating lesson while I did my remote-learning Hungarian language class upstairs, I could hear screaming from the ground floor. Something or other. Nothing that mattered for more than an intense four seconds, certainly.

I had gotten less than half of the Heavy Temple review that went up yesterday written in the morning before The Pecan woke up, and since I had homework to do before class, that was the sum total of my writing time for the entire day. It’s never enough, I know, but Wednesday was particularly spare. More so than I’d prefer, whatever the surrounding circumstances.

I’m still behind from that. I have the Horseburner album announcement — which was in my notes as DONE and which I’ve already fucking referenced in a post as a past event — waiting to be finished so it can go up. WyndRider got signed to Electric Valley for their second LP. That’ll be up Monday too I guess. I know this entire endeavor is small stakes, that nobody really cares about these things except me, and that I’m doing my best, but it is frustrating to put everything you can into a thing and come up short of where you want to be. That’s all.

So maybe Temple Fang closing the week is my way of telling myself to be less rigid. Or maybe they’re on my mind because next week is Roadburn and I’m actually going to be there for the first time in five years. That’s where I first saw Temple Fang, as well as Death Alley, of which Dennis Duijnhouwer was a founding member, and his prior band with Jevin de Groot, the cosmic-doom proposition Mühr, whose performance remains among the best live music experiences I’ve ever had.

I’m nervous to be back in Tilburg. I’m older. I’m worn down. I’m out of shape physically and mentally in ways that I just wasn’t in 2019. I’m tired all the time. Running in circles around my brain is the mantra that when the music starts it’ll all be okay.

Have a great and safe weekend. Have fun, watch your head, hydrate, all that stuff. See you back here Monday for a Darsombra video premiere and all the rest of it. For now I think I might head up the hill and check on my mom.

FRM.

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Video Interview: Brume on Marten, Dolly Parton, All the Lost Rap Parts of Their Songs & More

Posted in Bootleg Theater, Features on April 8th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

brume (Photo by Jamie MacCathie)

San Francisco’s Brume will release their new album, Marten, through Magnetic Eye Records on May 3. That’s less than a month away. The interview in the video below was conducted back in February, and the reason for that was basically that I heard the thing, got excited about it, and wanted to chat. I had asked bassist/vocalist Susie McMullan (also keys) for a lyric sheet, which she was gracious enough to supply, and reading through, I could see the genuine poetic voice behind a lot of the words; somewhat playful, sometimes sad and/or angry, but pervasively grounded in the actual language being used. Mother Earth, in condemning humanity’s destruction of the planet, calls it rude (that’s “How Rude,” for which they have a new video, also below). McMullan‘s threat “Do you mind if I step in?” is pointedly low-key in redirecting the conversation of “Run Your Mouth.” Just two among many other examples throughout the record.

Part of what makes it striking is that with so much nuance in the careful balance of the vocal arrangements between McMullan, guitarist Jamie McCathie, and cellist Jackie Perez Gratz (also Grayceon, ex-Giant Squid, etc.), the chamber-style presence of the strings amid instrumental dynamics crossing the span from minimalism to outright crush — Jordan Perkins-Lewis‘ drums steady at the foundation for either — you’d almost expect more pretense, more grandiosity. Instead, Marten — named brume martenfor the kind of varmint on its cover, and maybe also a little bit some dude they met on tour in Europe — is casual from the outset. What could be less formal than the name “Jimmy?” However sweeping or consuming “New Sadder You” or “Faux Savior” get, and no matter who is actually delivering the lines in a given verse, that underlying point of view holds firm.

It is a record loaded with stories. There was a lot to talk about, and there probably still is. As regards the interview itself, I’ll tell you that I had had a day by the time McGathieMcMullan and I hopped on Zoom. I should’ve canceled. It’s not a question of performance or anything like that, but about 20 minutes before we started talking I was getting punched by my kid for I don’t even remember what, and I just kind of suck here. I had a hard time going back and watching it, to tell you the truth. I’d transcribe it (ha) if I ever had time, maybe edit the video, but that also feels a little less honest to the experience, and, well, everybody on the internet pretends they’re fucking perfect all the time and in the interest of down-to-earth, here’s me taking myself down a peg. I haven’t done a lot of video interviews in the last year-plus. I really wanted to talk to Brume. If I had it to do over, I would, but sometimes one part of life bleeds into another, and while I’m sure it’s worse to me than to someone else watching, I just kind of get sad looking at and hearing myself here.

So enjoy! Yeah, I know. I haven’t sold it well. Fair enough.

What I’ll tell you is that whether you actually dig into the interview clip or not — and Susie and Jamie had cool stuff to say, so don’t not watch it — listen to the music. “Jimmy,” “New Sadder You” and, as of yesterday, “How Rude” are available as singles. They don’t represent the gospel blues of “Faux Savior” or the emotive fluidity that closes Marten in “The Yearn,” but god damn, do they land heavy on any level you want to consider.

So one way or the other, yeah, do enjoy. Thanks for reading and watching if you do:

Brume, Marten Interview, Feb. 22, 2024

Marten is out May 3 on Magnetic Eye Records. Preorders available here: http://lnk.spkr.media/brume-marten.

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Friday Full-Length: Corrosion of Conformity, Blind

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 5th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

I heard “Dance of the Dead” on the radio this week — that’s right, FM radio; thanks WSOU — and it prompted this revisit. Corrosion of Conformity‘s Blind came out in 1991 on Relativity Records with a follow-up release in 1995 through Columbia during the Raleigh, North Carolina-based outfit’s major label era, and to this day, it occupies a singular place in their history and discography. Running a ’90s-style 52 minutes and 13 songs, it was the first time they worked with producer John Custer, who has helmed everything they’ve done since, the only album they’ve ever done as a five-piece, the first that featured guitarist Pepper Keenan, who after this record would take over as their primary singer, and to my knowledge the only studio release they’ve had without founding bassist/sometimes-vocalist Mike Dean in the lineup.

Dean would be back in the band in time for 1994’s Deliverance (discussed here) as part of the definitive lineup with Keenan and fellow founders Woody Weatherman (guitar) and Reed Mullin (drums; R.I.P. 2020), but for Blind, bass was handled by Phil Swisher, while Karl Agell served as standalone frontman. Those two would play together in Leadfoot afterward, and Agell currently sings for both Lie Heavy and Legions of Doom, the latter of which is the post-Eric Wagner offshoot of The Skull, but during their time in C.O.C., they were part of the transitional moment between the raw punk and hardcore that defined their first two LPs, 1984’s Eye for an Eye, 1985’s Animosity, as well as 1987’s Technocracy EP, etc., and the Southern heavy rock they would in no small part help to shape over the rest of the 1990s.

You should know this isn’t an album I can pretend to be impartial about, let alone the band or the fact that human objectivity is a myth to begin with. Blind was one of the first CDs I ever owned, having unceremoniously swiped my older sister’s copy along with Master of PuppetsRollins Band‘s WeightSuicidal Tendencies‘ The Art of RebellionAlice in Chains‘ Sap and a couple others at around 10 years old, probably sometime in 1992 if I had to guess. “Damned for All Time” and the aforementioned “Dance of the Dead” — the one-two punch of charged riffing and crunching groove that follows the creeper-feedback-into-march of the intro “These Shrouded Temples…” — were on just about every mixtape I made for probably the next three years, the metal band connecting the over-ear headphones of my off-brand Walkman from the Caldor on Rt. 10 pulling my disaffected pubescent sadboy hair out with every tiny adjustment. I remember plotzing through the neighborhood on long walks with nowhere to put myself, sitting by the pond down the road, doing what I’d already been warned was irreparable damage to my hearing.

I’ll admit it’s been years since I actively engaged with it, but it’s always been there. The sinewy delivery of Agell in the chorus of “Mine Are the Eyes of God,” or the swaggering riff in “Painted Smiling Face,” the MTV-ready Corrosion of Conformity Blindhooks and a sound that was in conversation with a classic heavy rock I’d yet to encounter; it was all new for me at that point, and I won’t say it’s the dragon of heavy I’ve been chasing all along for the last three-plus decades, but it spoke to me in a way that ‘regular’ rock and roll didn’t and helped me find my path into heavier and more metallic listening. Put simply, it changed my life.

Hearing it now, Blind is striking in its political theme. Even aside from “Vote with a Bullet,” which brought Keenan to lead vocals for the first time and is still a staple of C.O.C. live sets, its declarations of intended violence landing in something of a different context than when it first came out, cuts like the anti-white-supremacist “White Noise,” the envisioning a new world in “Great Purification” and more general anti-authority lines like “If the system had one neck/You know I’d gladly break it” in “Dance of the Dead,” and so on, land with a disaffection to coincide with the conversant-with-metal thrust behind the shred in “Painted Smiling Face,” and do so with a directness that one rarely if ever encounters in heavy rock now. It wasn’t the first or last time C.O.C. talked about social issues — lest we forget that the 2018 return LP from the KeenanDean, Weatherman and Mullin lineup was called No Cross No Crown (review here), or, you know, that the band’s name is Corrosion of Conformity — but while the language used and rhetoric have changed in the last 30 years, Blind taps American-style anti-governmentalism in a way that, coming off the Reagan years and as George Bush took the country to war in the Middle East in a preface to decades of moral and fiscal bankrupting, still resonates from its place in time.

Obviously, these weren’t cues I was picking up at 11 years old, but I understood wanting to break out, to not be told what to do, and internalized a lot of that from these songs, especially the singles. What I didn’t appreciate at the time was the connection via riffing to Black Sabbath in the starts and stops of “Buried” or the brooding, slower-rolling finale “Echoes in the Well” before the bookending outro “…Remain,” but that’s all over Blind in a way that not much I would’ve heard on the radio at the time would have captured. The idea of ‘heavy rock’ as something separate from metal didn’t really exist in the commercial sphere, but it’s inarguably here, and with the backdrop of what Corrosion of Conformity would accomplish in Deliverance, 1996’s Wiseblood (discussed here) and 2000’s more smoothly produced and undervalued America’s Volume Dealer, it feels both like the sore thumb standing out of their catalog and the root from which they grew into the band they wanted to be.

As noted, Agell is now in Lie Heavy and Legions of Doom, both of which one might consider actively active. Meanwhile, C.O.C. were last year beginning the process of putting together their next LP to follow No Cross No Crown, with DeanKeenan and Weatherman collaborating with Galactic drummer Stanton Moore, who’d previously appeared on 2005’s In the Arms of God. I don’t know if that’ll be out this year, next year, or ever, but here’s hoping. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy, and thanks for reading.

I don’t have much time here. It’s coming on eight in the morning and The Patient Mrs. and The Pecan will soon be finished playing games on the iPad and ready to start a morning that, whatever shape it takes, will require direct participation from me. Off-laptop, in other words.

This week was my daughter’s spring break from school. It started last Friday ahead of Easter, and she goes back Monday unless we decide to abscond to Pittsburgh to watch the solar eclipse. Depends on the weather, partially. It hasn’t been the easiest of weeks — it rained and was cold and miserable from Monday through yesterday morning — but she had a half-day camp thing and ice skating lessons to keep her busy. But stuck-in-the-house, tv-off boredom might be a piece of why there’s been an uptick in attitude and more punches thrown. The other day I ended up carrying her screaming and kicking from the rink after she unloaded on The Patient Mrs. for trying to stop her from skating through the next lesson taking place on the ice. I held her down to get her skates off because I didn’t think she was in control enough to stop herself from hurting either of us. It was an especially shitty moment to be alive.

I got hit last night too, for missing a button combo in Super Mario RPG and some other infraction I can’t remember. It’s a lot of “you can’t tell me what to do” and “you have to do what I say” from her as she, I guess, works on figuring out her place in the world. It has not been pleasant, but neither was the week unipolar in awfulness. We snuggled and watched Bluey yesterday evening as The Patient Mrs. was out at dinner with a friend. Last weekend we went to Connecticut with family to color eggs. She had a nice Easter, kept it together well at brunch, and we beat Link’s Awakening on the Switch. The lows are low, but the lows aren’t everything, is what I’m saying.

We’ll see how today goes. As regards the arguments, the opposition, the way I think of it is like this: It’s never everything, but it could be anything, and it’s almost always something. I just remembered that the other thing I got hit for last night was that I didn’t anticipate she’d want the Chromecast (which hadn’t been used in a year before The Patient Mrs. and I moved it to our bedroom) to watch the “Dad Baby” episode of Bluey, which isn’t on Disney-Plus. So yeah. I’ll be honest and say I’ve had a hard time looking forward to the last couple days. Another mantra, “things will not always be as they are now.”

Two sides to that, of course. Like everything.

Next week is slammed front-to-back and I’m already behind on news, so whatever. I’ll do my best to write as much as I can and that’s that. I hope you have a great and safe weekend, whatever you’re up to. If you get to see the eclipse, don’t look at it. Otherwise, hydrate, move your body a bit, watch your head, and I’ll be back on Monday with more of whatever you call this at this point.

FRM.

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The Vulcan Itch Premiere “Wasted” Video; Rise of the Fallen Out Now

Posted in Bootleg Theater, Reviews on April 4th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

the vulcan itch

Athens-based heavy rockers The Vulcan Itch released their second full-length, Rise of the Fallen, this past Friday through The Lab Records, and there’s barely a second to spare in its 10-song/31-minute run. Sure, in the later reaches of side B’s “The Way” and “Chained Freedom” the trio might have a measure or two of flourish as part of their pointed, directed, plan-in-action execution, and closer/longest track “Drowning” dares to top four minutes, but particularly as “Wasted” (video premiering below) opens with such charge, the subsequent “Perfect Life” makes its sub-three minutes a showcase of perpendicular-feeling corners while unveiling the shoutier backing vocals from bassist and recording engineer Nikos “Lizard” Chalkousis that add a singalong kind of feel soon reinforced in the call-and-response payoff of “Addicted to the Dark” — the verse of which is the first time they really take their foot off the gas in terms of tempo, and even there they stay busy en route to the next chorus surge — the emphasis from Chalkousis, guitarist/lead vocalist Spy Das and drummer Erotokritos “Pepper” Kolaitis is on immediacy.

Their Spring 2020 self-titled debut hardly wanted for urgency in cuts like “Don’t Give a Fuck” or “Addiction,” and 2022’s Trapped in a Cage EP hit a similar degree of rush in “Find Yourself,” but on Rise of the Fallen — and yeah, the title is kinda generic; could you do better in Greek? — The Vulcan Itch have made an obvious effort to strip away anything that could be considered ‘excess’ during the writing process, and as such, “Now or Never,” the side B leadoff “Liars and Betrayers” that both hints at the sociopolitical lyric of “Chained Freedom” and has a bit of Don Henley in the lead guitar, and the already-noted one-two punch that starts the record come across as both worked on and an energetic rush. Das‘ vocals lean almost into pop-punk in “Wasted” and “Now or Never,” etc., but while thrust is such an overarching factor, they’re not at all monolithic in sound or arrangement as “Is it Happening” changes up the melody to evoke vibes from Beatles and Queens of the Stone Age at some remove from the palm-muting The Vulcan Itch Rise of the Fallenand crunching tonality of “The Way,” which puts riffy twists at the end of its start-stop verse measures and straightens its course through the hook before cycling through again.

As one might anticipate, it’s “Drowning” that is the real slowdown, but even there the fuzzy low end flow intertwines with airy guitar and the sense of movement isn’t given up in the chugging bridge and nodder chorus. Whether it’s the skronky flourishes of “Is it Happening,” the return of the shouts in “So Cold” and “Chained Freedom,” or the welcoming burst of speed offered in “Wasted,” The Vulcan Itch are professional in both the production and the consideration of their audience in the writing. Their material is accessible even at its most aggressive and able to deliver “Addicted to the Dark,” which is by no means optimistic in its theme, in such a way as to sound organic coming out of “Perfect Life” as part of Rise of the Fallen‘s momentum build rather than departing from that as more of the record’s personality is revealed. The sense of command and direction is palpable, the writing not at all haphazard in its level of depth or detail, and even at their most all-go-now-now-now, they never lose sight of their goals within the individual songs or in the overarching front-to-back journey, however brief that may be.

And while, yeah, that’s about Rise of the Fallen — the entirety of which is streaming near the bottom of this post — being on the shorter side of ‘full-length,’ that The Vulcan Itch didn’t pad it out and thereby risk giving up the efficiency so central to their purposes should be taken as further indication that they know what the hell they’re doing. The clip for “Wasted” premiering below is about as straightforward as you can get — the band, in a place, playing the track — but as with the record the song leads off, there’s no denying the personality brought to it through their collective performance.

Credits and such follow under the embed. Please enjoy:

The Vulcan Itch, “Wasted” video premiere

The Vulcan Itch – “Wasted” from the album “Rise Of The Fallen”
The Lab Records (2024)

Video credits:
Directed by Gerasimos Kolaitis
Cinematography by Alex Haritakis

Album credits:
Music written and performed by The Vulcan Itch
Lyrics by Spy Das
Recorded and mixed by Nikos Chalkousis at Lychnopolis studio
Mastered by Bill Lagos at Entasis studio
Design and illustration by A.D.Visions

Tracklitsing:
1. Wasted (2:12)
2. Perfect Life (2:47)
3. Addicted to the Dark (3:11)
4. Now or Never (2:44)
5. Is it Happening (3:18)
6. Liars and Betrayers (2:28)
7. The Way (3:37)
8. So Cold (3:23)
9. Chained Freedom (3:32)
10. Drowning (4:14)

Formed in 2018, The Vulcan Itch have released one self-titled album and one EP titled “Trapped In A Cage” which were both met with great critical acclaim and allowed the band to play numerous throughout Greece.

The Vulcan Itch are:
Vocals and guitars : Spy Das
Bass and backing vocals : Nikos “Lizard” Chalkousis
Drums : Erotokritos “Pepper” Kolaitis

The Vulcan Itch, Rise of the Fallen (2024)

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Borer Premiere Video for Title-Track of Debut LP Bag Seeker; Album Out May 10

Posted in Bootleg Theater, Reviews on April 2nd, 2024 by JJ Koczan

BORER Photo by Dan Cooper

New Zealand’s Borer are set to make their full-length debut May 10 with Bag Seeker, on Landmine Records. With it, they bring the sludge of one thousand deaths, and no, that doesn’t mean they’re giving you a bunch tiny cuts until eventually you bleed out. It means they sound like they’ve died inside a thousand times and perhaps, somewhere around 920 or so with that last 80 still ahead of them, they got bitter about it. The resulting five-tracker waves its disaffection like a banner; a resolved call to everybody who, perhaps only for today, has landed at “fuck it” as the endgame of their existence. If you can’t relate as the leadoff title-track “Bag Seeker” moves from its opening sample of Ozzy talking about drugs — immediately writing off 99 percent of the planet’s population who won’t get how brilliantly on/up the nose that is — into the dense low-end lurch wrought through Boden Powell and Tim Hunt‘s guitars and Greg Newton-Topp‘s bass, with Josh Reid‘s drumming making it roll and vocalist Tom Brand‘s mood-defining, actively-doing-damage raspy gurgle telling a story few will be able to decipher but getting the point across anyhow in its omnidirectional fuckyouism, well, you’re probably lucky.

The video premiering below for “Bag Seeker” brings this ultra-stoned, ultra-heavy despondency to the visual realm as Brand stands in a not-warm-looking flow of river water and mimes the lyrics deadpan for the bulk of the song’s nine minutes as the rest of the band hangs around behind. Save for passing a joint, vaping and drinking some beer, they barely move until it’s time to de-tableau and split as a bookending sample of some guy from a viral TikTok talking about how having too much gear is better than running out of gear brings the track to its end — Terence McKenna starts the subsequent “Ket Witch,” pontificating on the effects of ketamine — and the vibe is set.

There’s more on offer in Bag Seeker‘s 55-minute stretch than raw, searing punishment, but the more subdued moments happen around the core extremity, like the baked-creeper nod in the five-minute buildup of “Ket Witch” before it reverts to the primitive assault methodology of the opener or the shorter backdrop at the outset of 21-minute finale “Lord of the Hanged,” which puts dialogue from the 2010 Cohen Bros. remake of True Grit of three men about to be executed saying their last words before the riff kicks in and Borer dive into a by-then-characteristically scathing verse section with stops beneath the screams offset BORER Bag Seekerby crash and death-stench sensory overload. These stretches, a longer break in “Lord of the Hanged” after that verse, and the two-and-a-half-minute centerpiece “6.32” — mostly harsh noise and a likely-inebriated voicemail telling you that you missed the party; “I hope you had a good sleep” sounds like an accusation — add to the atmosphere and provide some opportunity to breathe before, say, the markedly-soaked-in-feedback “Wretch” or the next round of tonally-consuming gnash in “Lord of the Hanged” takes hold, but the five-piece leave no question as to where their priorities lie in the filthier end of caustic, slow subjugation.

I had to go to the urgent-care place down the road yesterday. They built it in the middle of a strip-mall parking lot last summer, which should tell you the state of the American healthcare system just by virtue of being somehow normal, last summer. It is cube-shaped. I’ve had an infection in my left middle finger, probably a hangnail I tore out; can’t really remember. The doctor — who was not an actual doctor, but I don’t even ask anymore because I trust nurses more anyway in that kind of situation — took some cold-spray and numbed up the swollen, hard and very-clearly-full-of-pus side of my finger before digging in with a scalpel to drain it and as I watched this fluid ooze out of my person, saw the faces of the two women in the room trying to maintain their professional aspect in the face of something universally ‘ugh,’ it was echoes of Borer‘s Bag Seeker ringing in my head. I felt the cut despite the cold, felt the gunk being pushed out, got a band-aid and a prescription and was sent on my unmerry way, alone. You check in with a QR code now. They already have your information because of course they do. $15. Supposed to be a bargain.

This experience may end up defining my engagement with Borer‘s first album, because as much as I’ve been unable to get that picture of metal cutting into my skin and some tiny manifestation of the sheer wretchedness of my being leaking forth, the physical catharsis, the Kingdom Animalia satisfaction of resolving a thing, resonates as the extended soloing in the back half of “Lord of the Hanged” gives over to the last screams, crashes and feedback that end Bag Seeker as they invariably would. Release of pressure bought with pain. Expurgation. Put on the record again and churn into foul-smelling-goo oblivion what used to be vaguely human. Fucking a.

“Bag Seeker” video follows below. Jewel case CD of the album is limited to 100 copies. If you get one, give it plenty of room.

Enjoy:

Borer, “Bag Seeker” video premiere

Clocking just under a ten-minute runtime, the resin-coated title track to Bag Seeker is delivered through a video directed by Tim Hunt and edited by Nick Smith, that rolls in like the tidal waters depicted within. The band reveals, “‘Bag Seeker’ captures a year-long descent into the shadows, where a man pursues fleeting happiness through the enigmatic allure of a bag, a quest for joy in the embrace of ephemeral highs.”

Bag Seeker will be released on CD and all digital platforms on Landmine Records May 10th. Find preorders HERE: https://borersludge.bandcamp.com/album/bag-seeker

Bag Seeker was recorded and mixed in Christchurch by Joseph Veale (Blindfolded And Led To The Woods), mastered by Luke Finlay at Primal Mastering, and completed with artwork and layout by Jake Clark (Mr Wolf), and is a detrimental listen for fans of Iron Monkey, Bongzilla, Weedeater, Fistula, Indian, Dystopia, and Electric Wizard.

Tracklisting:
1. Bag Seeker (9:33)
2. Ket Witch (11:36)
3. 6.32 (2:30)
4. Wretch (10:21)
5. Lord of the Hanged (21:44)

BORER has also booked two release shows for the album, taking place in Dunedin on Bag Seeker’s release date and in their hometown of Christchurch the following day. Watch for additional shows to be announced over the months ahead.

BORER Bag Seeker album release shows:
5/10/2024 The Crown Hotel – Dunedin, NZ w/ Brackish, Festering Death
5/11/2024 Churchill’s Tavern – Christchurch, NZ w/ Witchcult, From Moose Mountain

Tickets: https://www.cosmicticketing.co.nz/

BORER:
Tom Brand – vocals
Boden Powell – guitar
Tim Hunt – guitar
Greg Newton-Topp – bass
Josh Reid – drums

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Friday Full-Length: Psychedelic Source Records, This is Psychedelic Source Records

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 29th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

If at any point in the last seven or so years since Psychedelic Source Records started putting releases up on their Bandcamp page, there’s probably not much more to say about the seven-jam collection This is Psychedelic Source Records that came out earlier this month than, “Yeah, pretty much.”

Based in Páty, Hungary — about 40 minutes west of Budapest by train — and featuring a rotating cast of artists, bands and one-offs like this may or may not be, Psychedelic Source Records is more a collective than a record label, bringing together groups like Pilot Voyager, River Flows ReverseSatorinaut and a slew of others under one banner with the apparent central ethic of creative freedom. Sometimes there are songs, sometimes it’s an improv session, a couple times it’s just been founding spearhead Bence Ambrus noodling around in his garden. The framework is about as open as you can get, and the sounds range from expansive acid-folk to heavy psych exploration, and it’s all captured with a feel that only adds to the organic vibes. Releases don’t come with months of hype — though every now and then I’ll get to do a premiere for something they’re putting out, and that’s fun; I’ve got one booked for April 12 — and aren’t always pressed physically, but if you find value in the musical stream of consciousness, it is an open world waiting for you to immerse.

This Is… runs 92 minutes and was posted March 11 accompanied by the simple explanation, “Long time no see jam session, set up accidently two days ago.” So it was recorded March 9. I suppose what you’re hearing is technically a reissue, since at some point in the 18 days since it went live, Ambrus went back and reworked the mix, saying, “update: previous mix was little shitty so i redid it sorry.” Fair enough.

As you might’ve already guessed, the abiding spirit here is casual. Ambrus plays bass and guitar and is joined by Krisztina Benus on keyboard, Ákos Karancz on guitar, Barna Bartos on bass and Máté Varga on drums. I don’t know how much editing or actual mixing was done to what was recorded at the ‘accidental’ session — I love that idea; like, “oops, we just made a record”; the very heart of spontaneity — but the resultant flow within and between the pieces is hypnotic, and a cut like “Bum Bumm” (19:04) comes across as almost surprising itself as it evolves from its drone-backed psych ambience into a more active dub progression, as though the swirling mist solidified and decided to mellow-dance for a while. The guitar gets louder, Psychedelic Source Records This Is Psychedelic Source Recordsbut volume isn’t really the driving consideration anywhere on This Is…, which is more about the space being created and the conversation between the players presented with as-it-happened sincerity.

One can hear the glittering shimmer of guitar in “Sow Your Seeds and Be Patient” (14:09) or the wisps at the outset of “River Styx” (15:23) just prior and float along with the gentle-but-not-inactive rhythm in a semi-hypnotic state — from the subtle build-up of opener “Jamship” (8:15) onward, there’s room to dwell in the sounds being made, and not just because it’s feature-length in runtime — but there are nuances of character to be found too if you’re paying attention, shifts in tone as “Jamship” ends its course with resonant melodic drift and the drums start “Gentle Human Transform” (14:36) which comes to feel more surf-leaning in the reaches of guitar, or the centerpiece “River Styx” redirects from its quick fade-in to free/acid jazz-style searching in its midsection, the group finding their way into a slower, evocative wistfulness before they’re finished in a way that may or may not have been anticipated going in. That is to say, the sense in hearing it is that this check-in jam assemblage are also surprised to find out where they end up. That’s not an easy thing to convey on any kind of recording, even in the outer territories of improv psych, and it feels natural here. It’s part of what ties This Is… together, though I’ll admit that for something so broad and malleable in structure, that idea of ‘tied together’ is more about not interrupting the aforementioned flow.

And in preserving that easy-feeling course throughout while allowing each of its processions to embark and develop on its own terms, This Is… could hardly do more to encapsulate what is readable as the central ethic behind Psychedelic Source Records, which is to foster creativity without restraint. To that I might also add that the just-a-thing-we-did-on-Saturday-here-it-is presentation also speaks to this ethic. It’s a thing, to be sure. It exists. But it’s not a thing in the sense of being any kind of drag, or anybody’s job, or feeling like it’s a hassle somewhere along the line — perhaps notwithstanding Ambrus‘ noted remix after the fact. It’s low-key, agreeable, inviting psychedelia, no less expansive for being so inviting as “Sow Your Seeds and Be Patient” meanders around its guitar as it approaches the six-minute mark or capper “A Mermaid Found a Swimming Lad” echoes the surfy strum of “Gentle Human Transform” before resolving in twistier notes that wouldn’t feel out of place played on a sitar. These aspects also represent Psychedelic Source Records, giving a loose definition or vague shape to an intention, but not losing its freeform character to that.

If you think of art as a declaration of self, This is Psychedelic Source Records makes a fitting summary of what this group was all about on this day during these jams. It is not trying to be a part of any scene other than itself, or to end up on somebody’s chart, or be ‘content’ for some jerk-ass blogger like me to share on social media. It is honest rather than perfect, and while one acknowledges that authenticity is a myth in all cases and nothing can ever be objectively enacted or received because simply by that it becomes a part of human subjectivity — oh I could go on about this; I won’t — there’s no mistaking the ring of truth in these captured moments. And even if both moments and truth are fleeting, well, so is everything. Live in it while you can, if you can.

As always, I hope you enjoy. Thank you for reading.

Yesterday was a wreck of lost time. I overslept by 45 minutes — woke up with my phone on my chest having apparently shut off the alarm and left it there at 5AM — and never got back on track. A Costco trip that was going to be today and a chasedown of Siggi’s Vanilla Yogurt (4% milkfat, not the 0%) — which is one of like two and a half things The Pecan will eat at this point — later, it was after noon and I was back on the couch trying to pound out that Early Moods review and today’s other posts. I apparently didn’t get enough of that done before needing to go pick up The Pecan at school, which is effectively the end of my writing time most days, and that’s a thing I know because I was up all night thinking about finishing the shit I’d left incomplete.

As Orange Goblin (who should be announcing a new album any day now, I hope) once said, “Some you win, some you lose.”

This weekend is Easter, which we don’t really celebrate as anything more than candy and egg-coloring — yay, pagan fertility rites! — but still have to show up for. Tomorrow we drive north to color the aforementioned eggs. Sunday is a brunch that, honestly, I’m just kind of relieved to not be hosting. From there, next week is The Pecan’s Spring Break, so she’ll be home Monday to Friday. I don’t really know how that’ll play out yet. The Patient Mrs. has work, and a lot depends on the weather. If we can go outside, we will, in other words. She’s got a half-day camp-ish-thing Monday to Wednesday (the kid), and so that’ll be my work time on those days, and the rest I’ll just have to sort as I live through it. The biggest surprise of the entire thing is that I’m not doing something completely life-eating like a Quarterly Review or some such. It seems almost out of character.

I have a couple video premieres — Borer, The Vulcan Itch — and I want to review the Craneium record that I’m super-late with and the Viaje a 800 reissue that I’m not super-late with, but we’ll see how it goes. I was also supposed to send questions for a Viaje a 800 email interview that I haven’t done yet. I always find that nerve-racking, asking artists to talk about their work without the benefit of vocal inflection. You never know how somebody is going to read what you say when you’re asking them about something so personal. “So, your art does this. How’s that make you feel?” seems like not the best conversation option, but there’s a language barrier in this case too, so I get it. And I’ll get there.

I hope you have a great and safe weekend, whatever you’re up to. Have fun, watch your head, all that. If you’re celebrating, remember to enjoy it because that’s what a celebration is. I’m talking to myself there, to be sure, but don’t doubt that you’re also included. In any case, thanks again for reading.

FRM.

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