Quarterly Review: Loss, BardSpec, Sinner Sinners, Cavra, Black Tremor & Sea Witch, Supersonic Blues, Masterhand, Green Lung, Benthic Realm, Lâmina

Posted in Reviews on July 11th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-summer-2017

Day two of the Quarterly Review and all is chugging along. I was on the road for part of the day yesterday and will be again today, so there’s some chaos underlying what I’m sure on the surface seems like an outwardly smooth process — ha. — but yeah, things are moving forward. Today is a good mix of stuff, which makes getting through it somewhat easier on my end, as opposed to trying to find 50 different ways to say “riffy,” so I hope you take the time to sample some audio as you make your way through, to get a feel for where these bands are coming from. A couple highlights of the week in here, as always. We go.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Loss, Horizonless

loss horizonless

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Loss on Thee Facebooks

Profound Lore Records website

 

BardSpec, Hydrogen

bardspec hydrogen

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BardSpec on Thee Facebooks

ByNorse Music website

 

Sinner Sinners, Optimism Disorder

There’s a current of rawer punk running beneath Sinner Sinners’ songwriting – or on the surface of it if you happen to be listening to “California” or “Outsider” or “Hate Yourself” or “Preachers,” etc. – but especially when the L.A. outfit draw back on the push a bit, their Last Hurrah Records and Cadavra Records full-length Optimism Disorder bears the hallmarks of Rancho de la Luna, the studio where it was recorded. To wit, the core duo of Steve and Sam Thill lead the way through the Queens of the Stone Age-style drive of opener “Last Drop” (video posted here), “Desperation Saved Me (Out of Desperation)” and though finale “Celexa Blues” is more aggressive, its tones and overall hue, particularly in the context of the bounce of “Together We Stand” and “Too Much to Dream” earlier, still have that desert-heavy aspect working for them. It’s a line that Sinner Sinners don’t so much straddle as crash through and stomp all over, but I’m not sure Optimism Disorder would work any other way.

Sinner Sinners on Thee Facebooks

Sinner Sinners on Bandcamp

Last Hurrah Records website

 

Cavra, Cavra

cavra cavra

The five-song/52-minute self-titled debut from Argentina trio Cavra was first offered digitally name-your-price-style late in 2016 and picked up subsequently by South American Sludge. There’s little reason to wonder why. Comprised of guitarist/vocalist Cristian Kocak, bassist/vocalist Fernando Caminal and drummer Matias Gallipoli, the Buenos Aires three-piece place themselves squarely in the sphere of their home country’s rich heritage in heavy rock and psychedelic fluidity, with earthy tones, a resounding spaciousness in longer cuts like the all-15-minutes-plus “2010,” “Montaña” and “Torquemada.” My mind went immediately to early and mid-period Los Natas as a reference point for how the vocals cut through the density of “Montaña,” but even as Cavra show punkier and more straightforward thrust on the shorter “Dos Soles” (4:10) and “Librianna” (2:45) – the latter also carrying a marked grunge feel – they seem to keep one foot in lysergism. Perhaps less settled than it wants to be in its quiet parts, Cavra’s Cavra nonetheless reaches out with a tonal warmth and organic approach that mark a welcome arrival.

Cavra on Thee Facebooks

South American Sludge Records on Thee Facebooks

 

Black Tremor & Sea Witch, Split

black-tremor-sea-witch-split

One has to wonder if whichever of the involved parties – be it the two acts or either of the labels, Sunmask Records or Hypnotic Dirge – had in mind a land-and-sea kind of pairing in putting together Saskatoon’s Black Tremor or Nova Scotia’s Sea Witch for this split release, because that’s basically where they wound up. Black Tremor, who issued their debut EP in 2016’s Impending (review here), answer the post-Earth vibes with more bass/drums/cello instrumental exploration on the two-part “Hexus,” while the massive tonality of duo Sea Witch answers back – though not literally; they’re also instrumental – with three cuts, “Green Tide,” “As the Crow Flies Part One” and “As the Crow Flies Part Two.” The two outfits have plenty in common atmospherically, but where Black Tremor seem to seek open spaces in their sound, Sea Witch prefer lung-crushing heft, and, well, there isn’t really a wrong answer to that question. Two distinct intentions complementing each other in fluidity and a mood that goes from grim and contemplative to deathly and bleak.

Black Tremor on Thee Facebooks

Sea Witch on Thee Facebooks

Hypnotic Dirge Records webstore

Sunmask Records webstore

 

Supersonic Blues, Supersonic Blues Theme b/w Curses on My Soul

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It takes Den Haag trio Supersonic Blues no more than eight minutes to bust out one of 2017’s best short releases in their Who Can You Trust? Records debut single, Supersonic Blues Theme b/w Curses on My Soul. Yes, I mean it. The young three-piece of guitarist Timothy, bassist Gianni and drummer Lennart absolutely nail a classic boogie-rock vibe on the two-tracker, and from the gotta-hear low end that starts “Curses on My Soul,” the unabashed hook of “Supersonic Blues Theme” and the blown-out garage vocals that top both, the two-tracker demonstrates clearly not only that there’s still life to be had in heavy ‘70s loyalism when brought to bear with the right kind of energy, but that Supersonic Blues are on it like fuzz on tone. Killer feel all the way and shows an exceeding amount of potential for a full-length that one can only hope won’t follow too far behind. Bonus points for recording with Guy Tavares at Motorwolf. Hopefully they do the same when it comes time for the LP.

Supersonic Blues on Thee Facebooks

Who Can You Trust? Records webstore

 

Masterhand, Mind Drifter

masterhand-mind-drifter

A neo-psych trio from Oklahoma City, Masterhand seem like the kind of group who might at a moment’s notice pack their gear and go join the legions of freaks tripping out on the West Coast. Can’t imagine they wouldn’t find welcome among that I-see-colors-everywhere underground set – at least if their debut long-player, Mind Drifter, is anything to go by. Fuzz like Fuzz, acid like Uncle, and a quick, raw energy that underlies and propels the proceedings through quick tracks like “Fear Monger” and “Lucifer’s Dream” – tense bass and drums behind more languid wah and surf guitar before a return to full-on fuzz – yeah, they make a solid grab for upstart imprint King Volume Records, which has gotten behind Mind Drifter for a cassette issue. There’s some growing to do, but the psych-garage feel of “Chocolate Cake” is right on, “Heavy Feels” is a party, and when they want, they make even quick cuts like “Paranoia Destroyer” feel expansive. That, along with the rest of the release, bodes remarkably well.

Masterhand on Thee Facebooks

King Volume Records webstore

 

Green Lung, Green Man Rising

green-lung-green-man-rising

Groove-rolling four-piece Green Lung boast former members of Oak and Tomb King, among others, and Green Man Rising, their first digital single, is the means by which they make their entry into London’s crowded underground sphere. Aside from the apparent nod to Type O Negative in the title – and the plenty of more-than-apparent nod in guitarist Scott Masson’s riffing – “Green Man Rising” and “Freak on a Peak” bask in post-Church of Misery blown-out cymbals from drummer Matt Wiseman, corresponding tones, while also engaging a sense of space via rich low end from bassist Andrew Cave and the echoing vocals of Tom Killingbeck. There’s an aesthetic identity taking shape in part around nature worship, and a burgeoning melodicism that one imagines will do likewise more over time, but they’ve got stonerly hooks in the spirit of Acrimony working in their favor and in a million years that’s never going to be a bad place to start. Cool vibe; makes it easy to look forward to more from them.

Green Lung on Thee Facebooks

Green Lung on Bandcamp

 

Benthic Realm, Benthic Realm

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In 2016, Massachusetts-based doom metallers Second Grave issued one of the best debut albums of the year in their long-awaited Blacken the Sky (review here)… and then, quite literally days later, unexpectedly called it quits. It was like a cruel joke, teasing their potential and then cutting it short of full realization. The self-titled debut EP from Benthic Realm, which features Second Grave guitarist/vocalist Krista van Guilder (also ex-Warhorse) and bassist Maureen Murphy alongside drummer Brian Banfield (The Scimitar), would seem to continue the mission of that prior outfit if perhaps in an even more metallic direction, drawing back on some of Second Grave’s lumber in favor of a mid-paced thrust while holding firm to the melodic sensibility that worked so well across Blacken the Sky’s span. For those familiar with Second Grave, Benthic Realm is faster, not as dark, and perhaps somewhat less given to outward sonic extremity, but it’s worth remembering that “Awakening,” “Don’t Fall in Line” and “Where Serpents Dwell” are just an introduction and that van Guilder and Murphy might go on a completely different direction over the longer term after going back to square one as they do here.

Benthic Realm website

Benthic Realm on Bandcamp

 

Lâmina, Lilith

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Smack dab in the middle of Lilith, the debut album from Lisbon-based doom/heavy rockers Lâmina, sits the 20-minute aberration “Maze.” It’s a curious track in a curious place on the record, surrounded by the chugging “Evil Rising” and bass-led rocker bounce of “Psychodevil,” but though it’s almost a full-length unto itself (at least an EP), Lâmina make the most of its extended and largely linear course, building on the tonal weight already shown in the earlier “Cold Blood” and “Big Black Angel” and setting up the tension of “Education for Death” and the nine-minute semi-title-track finale “In the Warmth of Lilith,” which feels a world away from the modern stonerism of “Psychodevil” in its slower and thoroughly doomed rollout. There’s a subtle play of scope happening across Lilith, drawn together by post-grunge tonal clarity and vocal melodies, and Lâmina establish themselves as potentially able to pursue any number of paths going forward from here. If they can correspondingly develop the penchant for songwriting they already show in these cuts as well, all the better.

Lâmina on Thee Facebooks

Lâmina on Bandcamp

 

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BardSpec Post “Bone” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 16th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

bardspec-Photo-Christian-Misje

If you’re not sensitive to flashing lights and you’ve got 12 spare minutes to get weird in your day — and I think we all know you do, even if you think you don’t; one has to set priorities for these things sometimes — then Enslaved guitarist Ivar Bjørnson would like to invite you to a droning dance party. And no, that’s not a rave where little robot helicopters fly overhead, though I’m sure that exists somewhere on this planet. It’s a video for the track “Bone” from Bjørnson‘s upcoming BardSpec debut, which trips out in electronic psychedelia even as it pulsates light and beats across an extended runtime atop a bed of longform guitar effects. Drone and dance. Dance and drone.

Whichever order you want to present those two, they serve as the core of “Bone,” and Bjørnson, along with Today is the Day guitarist/weirdo noise legend Steve Austin, gracefully plays to one side or the other of the balance between them throughout. The song, such as it is, is an undertaking to be sure, but in its place serving as the post-intro opener of BardSpec‘s forthcoming debut album, Hydrogen — out June 23 on ByNorse Music — its hypnotic effect proves well suited in drawing the listener in closer and readying them for the true voyage still to come. In other words, yeah, it’s gonna get stranger. That’s the whole idea.

And yet, “Bone” makes its own kind of sense, sets its own context. You can hear the linear build in the midsection, or the fluidity as one part leads into the next. You might need to make your way through it a couple times to get a sense of what is happening, but exploratory as it is in style, there is a sense of direction at work. Bjørnson is by no means flailing as he crafts the movement-filled wash at the apex. He’s poised. Just poised in another dimension. Go ahead and see for yourself. Take a chance on it.

Video is by David Hall, and is followed by more info off the PR wire.

Please enjoy:

BardSpec, “Bone” official video

Hydrogen, is the forthcoming debut from BardSpec, an experimental project featuring Enslaved’s Ivar Bjørnson and Today Is The Day’s Steve Austin.

BardSpec offer up a stunning fusion of stirring, hallucinatory synth-sounds with mercurial guitar effects and hypnotic rhythms that navigate illusory landscapes. Field recordings and other found-sounds also drift and evaporate into the ether. Working intuitively with these elements and with sharpened senses, attuned to inner impulses, this is immersive music, that can exist anywhere, and anytime within the minds of the listener.

BardSpec is inspired by the German masters Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schultze, and Conrad Schnitzler in addition to contemporary ambient music like Norwegian one-man-band Biosphere and abstract modern electronic music like When, as well as the electronic/industrial-driven metal like Godflesh.

BardSpec website

BardSpec on Thee Facebooks

BardSpec on Instagram

ByNorse Music

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Bardspec Announce Debut Album Hydrogen Due June 23

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 21st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

I was lucky enough to see Enslaved guitarist Ivar Bjørnson perform a Bardspec set at Roadburn 2015 (review here), and it was an immersive experience to say the least. With flashlights on the side of his glasses and accompanied by his bandmate Arve “Ice Dale” Isdal, Bjørnson set about building a wash of exploratory drones and noisescapes that filled the darkened Stage01 at the 013 — since subsumed into the larger Green Room space — and gave a resoundingly progressive impression.

Given Bjørnson‘s ongoing relationship with the fest — he curated that year, along with Wardruna‘s Einar Selvik — it seems fitting that Roadburn should play a role in the release of Hydrogen, the debut recording from Bardspec, as well. Set for issue June 23 on By Norse, the full-length offering will be previewed at a listening session next month at Roadburn 2017.

The details for that, along with the Josh Graham (Neurosis, Kings Destroy) cover art, you can see below, courtesy of the PR wire:

bardspec hydrogen

BARDSPEC: Ambient Project Of Ivar Bjørnson (Enslaved, Skuggsjá) To Release Debut Album, Hydrogen, Via By Norse June 23rd

BARDSPEC is the ambient project/band led by Enslaved composer/guitarist Ivar Bjørnson. This June, By Norse will release the debut album Hydrogen. Having launched at Roadburn in 2015, BARDSPEC has since evolved into a fully-fledged band, with Steve Austin on guitars/effects, David Hall presenting the live visual aspect of the project, with the layout created by Josh Graham (Soundgarden, Neurosis, IIVII, etc.).

BARDSPEC combines stirring, hallucinatory synth-sounds with mercurial guitar effects and hypnotic rhythms that navigate illusory landscapes. Field recordings, and other found-sounds also drift and evaporate into the ether. Working intuitively with these elements and with sharpened senses, attuned to inner impulses, this is immersive music that can exist anywhere and anytime within the minds of the listener.

Whilst BARDSPEC might essentially be the same brain and personality making the music, compared to Enslaved, it is a widely different entity. Thematically and sonically, BARDSPEC is about minimizing, subtracting, and meditating upon the simplest essence of “things;” the single points exemplified through song titles like “Bone,” “Salt,” and so on, the basic elements and foundations that make up the whole. There is an element of “space” in the music and the artwork, as a representation of the inner workings of the mind and the subconscious.

Inspired by the German masters Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schultze, and Conrad Schnitzler in addition to contemporary ambient music like Norwegian one-man-band Biosphere and abstract modern electronic music like When (Norwegian also), as well as the electronic/industrial-driven metal like Godflesh. Ivar describes the appeal and trance-inducing aspects of such music to him, “I remember listening to Richard Burmer and his album Mosaic from 1984. I thought I fell asleep but I was in a semi-lucid state where I still registered music – but not much else. At the end of side A there’s an explosion so violent and extreme that I jumped two feet into the air and was totally shocked. The weird thing is, I couldn’t remember it being there. When I revisited the music again it was just a little ‘thud.’ I was just experiencing a trance so deep into the music that this deviation from the pattern and frequencies in the foregoing half hour of monotony totally shocked me. I loved it!”

Roadburn Festival plays host to a very special public listening session of Hydrogen by BARDSPEC, a chance for people to hear the album from start to finish in advance of the official release date. This event shall take place on April 21st. More information incoming on the Roadburn website.

Hydrogen Track Listing:
1. Intro – Deposition
2. Bone
3. Fire Tongue
4. Gamma
5. Salt
6. Teeth (bonus track)

Hydrogen shall be released on June 23rd across all formats. The six-panel CD digipak is available as limited first press to 1000 including bonus track “Teeth.” The double gatefold LP is limited to 500 black vinyl, and the digital format also including the bonus track.

http://www.bardspec.com
http://www.facebook.com/BardSpec
http://www.instagram.com/bardspec
http://bynorse.com

Bardspec, “Fire – Tongue/Meat” Live in New York

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