Quarterly Review: Paradise Lost, Alastor, Zahn, Greynbownes, Treebeard, Estrada Orchestra, Vestamaran, Low Flying Hawks, La Maquinaria del Sueño, Ananda Mida

Posted in Reviews on July 15th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

the-obelisk-fall-2016-quarterly-review

The days grow long, but the Quarterly Review presses onward. I didn’t know when I put this thing together that in addition to having had oral surgery on Monday — rod in for a dental implant, needs a crown after it heals but so far no infection; penciling it as a win — this second week of 10 reviews per day would bring my laptop breaking and a toddler too sick to go to camp for three hours in the morning. If you’re a fan of understatement, I’ll tell you last week was easier to make happen.

Nevertheless, we persist, you and I. I don’t know if, when I get my computer back, it will even have all of these records on the desktop or if the hard-drive-bed-shitting that seems to have taken place will erase that along with such inconsequentials as years of writing and photos of The Pecan dating back to his birth, but hey, that desktop space was getting cleared one way or the other. You know what? I don’t want to think about it.

Quarterly Review #81-90:

Paradise Lost, At the Mill

Paradise Lost At the Mill

If Paradise Lost are trying to hold onto some sense of momentum, who can blame them? How many acts who’ve been around for 33 years continue to foster the kind of quality the Yorkshire outfit brought to 2020’s studio outing, Obsidian (review here)? Like, four? Maybe? So if they want to put out two live records in the span of three months — At the Mill follows March’s Gothic: Live at Roadburn 2016, also on Nuclear Blast — one isn’t inclined to hold a grudge, and even less so given the 16-song setlist they offer up in what was the captured audio from a livestream last Fall, spanning the bulk of their career and including requisite highlights from ’90s-era landmarks Gothic and Icon as well as Obsidian features “Fall From Grace,” “Ghosts” and “Darker Thoughts,” which opened the studio LP but makes a rousing finisher for At the Mill.

Paradise Lost on Facebook

Nuclear Blast Records store

 

Alastor, Onwards and Downwards

alastor onwards and downwards

The second long-player from Sweden’s Alastor is a surprising but welcome sonic turn, pulling back from the grimness of 2018’s Slave to the Grave (review here) in favor of an approach still murky and thick in its bottom end, but sharper in its songwriting focus and bolder melodically right from the outset on “The Killer in My Skull.” They depart from the central roll for an acoustic stretch in “Pipsvängen” after “Nightmare Trip” opens side B and just before the nine-minute title-track lumbers out its descent into the deranged, but even there the four-piece hold the line of obvious attention to songcraft, instrumental and vocal phrasing, and presentation of their sound. Likewise, the spacious nod on “Lost and Never Found” caps with a shorter and likewise undeniable groove, more Sabbath than the Queens of the Stone Age rush of “Death Cult” earlier, but with zero dip in quality. This takes them to a different level in my mind.

Alastor on Facebook

RidingEasy Records website

 

Zahn, Zahn

Zahn Zahn

Its noise-rock angularity and tonal bite isn’t going to be for everyone, but there’s something about Zahn‘s unwillingness to cooperate, their unwillingness to sit still, that makes their self-titled debut a joy of a run. Based in Berlin and comprised of Felix Gebhard (Einstürzende Neubauten keyboards) as well as drummer Nic Stockmann and bassist Chris Breuer (both of HEADS.), the eight-tracker shimmers on “Tseudo,” punkjazzes on lead cut “Zerrung,” goes full krautrock drone to end side A on “Gyhum” and still has more weirdness to offer on the two-minute sunshine burst of “Schranck,” “Lochsonne Schwarz,” “Aykroyd” and finale “Staub,” all of which tie together in one way or another around a concept of using space-in-mix and aural crush while staying loway to the central pattern of the drums. “Aykroyd” is brazen in showing the teeth of its guitar work, and that’s a pretty solid encapsulation of Zahn‘s attitude across the board. They’re going for it. You can take the ride if you want, but they’re going either way.

Zahn on Facebook

Crazysane Records website

 

Greynbownes, Bones and Flowers

Greynbownes bones and flowers

Bones and Flowers is a welcome return from Czech Republic-based heavy rockers Greynbownes, who made their debut with 2018’s Grey Rainbow From Bones (review here), and sees the trio foster a progressive heavy flourish prone to Doors-y explosive vocal brooding tempered with Elder-style patience in the guitar lines and rhythmic fluidity while there continues to be both an underlying aggressive crunch and a sense of Truckfighters-ish energy in “Dream Seller,” some blues there and in “Dog’s Eyes” and opener “Wolves” besides, and a willful exploratory push on “Burned by the Sun and Swallowed by the Sea,” which serves as a worthy centerpiece ahead of the rush that comprises much of “Long Way Down.” Further growth is evident in the spaciousness of “Flowers,” and “Star” feels like it’s ending the record with due ceremony in its largesse and character in its presentation.

Greynbownes on Facebook

Greynbownes on Bandcamp

 

Treebeard, Nostalgia

Treebeard Nostalgia

One can’t argue with Melbourne heavy post-rockers Treebeard‘s impulse to take the material from their prior two EPs, 2018’s Of Hamelin and 2019’s Pastoral, and put it together as a single full-length, but Nostalgia goes further in that they actually re-recorded, and in the case of a track like “The Ratchatcher,” partially reworked the songs. That makes the resultant eight-song offering all the more cohesive and, in relation to the prior versions, emphasizes the growth the band has undertaken in the last few years, keeping elements of weight and atmosphere but delivering their material with a sense of purpose, whether a give stretch of “8×0” is loud or quiet. Nostalgia effectively pulls the listener into its world, duly wistful on “Pollen” or “Dear Magdalena,” with samples adding to the breadth and helping to convey the sense of contemplation and melodic character. Above all things, resonance. Emotional and sonic.

Treebeard on Facebook

Treebeard on Bandcamp

 

Estrada Orchestra, Playground

Estrada Orchestra Playground

Estonian five-piece Estrada Orchestra recorded Playground on Nov. 21, 2020, and while I’m not 100 percent sure of the circumstances in which such a recording took place, it seems entirely possible given the breadth of their textures and the lonely ambience that unfurls across the 22-minute A-side “Playground Part 1” and the gradual manner in which it makes its way toward psychedelic kraut-drone-jazz there and in the more “active” “Playground Part 2 & 3” — the last part chills out again, and one speaks on very relative terms there — it’s entirely possible no one else was around. Either way, headphone-ready atmosphere persists across the Sulatron-issued LP, a lushness waiting to be closely considered and engaged that works outside of common structures despite having an underlying current of forward motion. Estrada Orchestra, who’ve been in operation for the better part of a decade and for whom Playground is their fifth full-length, are clearly just working in their own dimension of time. It suits them.

Estrada Orchestra on Facebook

Sulatron Records webstore

 

Vestamaran, Bungalow Rex

Vestamaran Bungalow Rex

Even in the sometimes blinding sunshine of Vestamaran‘s debut album, Bungalow Rex, there is room for shades of folk and classic progressive rock throughout the summery 10-tracker, which makes easygoing vibes sound easy in a way that’s actually really difficult to pull off without sounding forced. And much to Vestamaran‘s credit, they don’t. Their songs are structured, composed, engaging and sometimes catchy, but decidedly unhurried, unflinchingly melodic and for all their piano and subtle rhythmic intricacy, mostly pretense-free. Even the snare sound on “Grustak” feels warm. Cuts like “Risky Pigeon” and “Cutest Offender” are playful, and “Solitude” and closer “Only for You” perhaps a bit moodier, but Vestamaran are never much removed from that central warmth of their delivery, and the abiding spirit of Bungalow Rex is sweet and affecting. This is a record that probably won’t get much hype but will sit with dedicated audience for more than just a passing listen. A record that earns loyalty. I look forward to more.

Vestamaran on Facebook

Apollon Records website

 

Low Flying Hawks, Fuyu

low flying hawks fuyu

Three records in, to call what Low Flying Hawks do “heavygaze” feels cheap. Such a tag neither encompasses the post-rock elements in the lush space of “Monster,” the cinematic flourish of “Darklands,” nor the black-metal-meets-desert-crunch-riffing-in-space at the end of “Caustic Wing” or the meditative, post-Om cavern-delia in the first half of closer “Nightrider,” never mind the synthy, screamy turn of Fuyu‘s title-track at the halfway point. Three records in, the band refuse to let either themselves or their listenership get too comfortable, either in heavy groove or march or atmosphere, and three records in, they’re willfully toying with style and bending the aspects of genre to their will. There are stretches of Fuyu that, in keeping with the rest of what the band do, border on overthought, but the further they go into their own progressive nuance, the more they seem to discover they want to do. Fuyu reportedly wraps a trilogy, but if what they do next comes out sounding wildly different, you’d have to give them points for consistency.

Low Flying Hawks on Facebook

Magnetic Eye Records store

 

La Maquinaria del Sueño, Rituales de los Alucinados

la maquinaria del sueno rituales de los alucinados

Cult poetry on “Enterrado en la Oscuridad,” garage rock boogie “Ayahuasca” and classic, almost-surf shuffle are the first impressions Mexico City’s La Maquinaria del Sueño make on their debut full-length, Rituales de los Alucinados, and the three-piece only benefit from the push-pull in different directions as the seven-song LP plays out, jamming into the semi-ethereal on “Maldad Eléctrica” only to tip hat to ’60s weirdo jangle on “Mujer Cabeza de Cuervo.” Guitars scorch throughout atop swinging grooves in power trio fashion, and despite the differences in tone between them, “Enterré mis Dientes en el Desierto” and “Ángel de Fuego” both manage to make their way into a right on haze of heavy fuzz ahead of the motoring finisher “La Ninfa del Agua,” which underscores the live feel of the entire procession with its big crashout ending and overarching vitality. Listening to the chemistry between these players, it’s not a surprise they’ve been a band for the better part of a decade, and man, they make their riffs dance. Not revolutionary, but cool enough not to care.

La Maquinaria del Sueño on Facebook

LSDR Records on Bandcamp

 

Ananda Mida, Karnak

Ananda Mida Karnak

A three-tracker EP issued through drummer Max Ear‘s (also of OJM) own Go Down Records, Karnak features an instrumental take on a previously-vocalized cut — “Anulios,” from 2018’s Anodnatius (review here) — an eight-minute live jam with Mario Lalli of Fatso Jetson/Yawning Man sitting in on guitar, and a live version of the Conny Ochs-fronted “The Pilot,” which opened 2019’s Cathodnatius, the cover of which continues to haunt one’s dreams, and which finds the German singer-songwriter channeling his inner David Byrne in fascinating ways. An odds-and-ends release, maybe, but each of these songs is worth the minimal price of admission on its own, never mind topped as they are together with the much-less-horrifying art. If this is a reminder to listen to Anada Mida, it’s a happy one.

Ananda Mida on Facebook

Go Down Records website

 

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Quarterly Review: Spelljammer, The Black Heart Death Cult, Shogun, Nadja, Shroud of Vulture, Towards Atlantis Lights, ASTRAL CONstruct, TarLung, Wizzerd & Merlin, Seum

Posted in Reviews on July 8th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

the-obelisk-fall-2016-quarterly-review

We proceed onward, into this ever-growing swath of typos, lineup corrections made after posting, and riffs — more riffs! — that is the Quarterly Review. Today is Day Four and I’m feeling good. Not to say there isn’t some manner of exhaustion, but the music has been killer — today is particularly awesome — and that makes life much, much, much better as I’ve already said. I hope you’ve found one or two or 10 records so far that you’ve really dug. I know I’ve added a few to my best of 2021 list, including stuff right here. So yeah, we roll on.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Spelljammer, Abyssal Trip

spelljammer abyssal trip

To envision an expanse, and to crush it. Stockholm three-piece Spelljammer return five years after Ancient of Days (review here), with an all-the-more-massive second long-player through RidingEasy, turning their front-cover astronaut around to face the audience head on and offering 43 minutes/six tracks of encompassing largesse, topping 10 minutes in the title-track and “Silent Rift,” both on side B with the interlude “Peregrine” between them, after the three side A rollers, “Bellwether,” “Lake” and “Among the Holy” have tripped out outward and downward into an atmospheric plunge that is a joy to take feeling specifically geared as an invite to the converted. We are here, come worship with us. Also get crushed. Spelljammer records may not happen all the time, but you won’t be through “Bellwether” before you’re saying it was worth the wait.

Spelljammer on Facebook

RidingEasy Records website

 

The Black Heart Death Cult, Sonic Mantras

The Black Heart Death Cult Sonic Mantras

A deceptively graceful second LP from Melbourne’s The Black Heart Death Cult, Sonic Mantras pulls together an eight-song/45-minute run that unfolds bookended by “Goodbye Gatwick Blues” (8:59) and “Sonic Dhoom” (9:47) and in between ebbs and flows across shorter pieces that maximize their flow in whether shoegazing, heavygazing, blissing out, or whatever we’re calling it this week on “The Sun Inside” and “One Way Through,” or finding their way to a particularly deadened meadow on “Trees,” or tripping the light hypnotic on “Dark Waves” just ahead of the closer. “Cold Fields” churns urgently in its 2:28 but remains spacious, and everywhere The Black Heart Death Cult go, they remain liquefied in their sound, like a seemingly amorphous thing that nonetheless manages to hold its shape despite outside conditions. Whatever form they take, then, they are themselves, and Sonic Mantras emphasizes how yet-underappreciated they are in emerging from the ever-busy Aussie underground.

The Black Heart Death Cult on Facebook

Kozmik Artifactz store

 

Shogun, Tetra

Shogun Tetra

Tetra is the third long-player from Milwaukee’s Shogun, and in addition to the 10-minute “Delta,” which marries blues gargle with YOB slow-gallop before jamming out across its 10-minute span, it brings straight-shooter fuzz rockers like “Gravitas,” the someone-in-this-band-listened-to-Megadeth-in-the-’90s-and-that’s-okay beginnings of “Buddha’s Palm/Aviary” and likewise crunch of “Axiom” later, but also the quiet classic progressive rock of “Gone Forever,” and the more patient coming together of psychedelia and harder-hitting movement on closer “Maximum Ray.” Somewhat undercut by a not-raw-but-not-bursting-with-life production, pieces like “Buddha’s Palm/Aviary,” which gives over to a sweeter stretch of guitar in its second movement, and “Vertex/Universal Pain Center,” which in its back end brings around that YOB influence again and puts it to good use, are outwardly complex enough to put the lie to the evenhandedness of the recording. There’s more going on in Tetra than it first seems, and the more you listen, the more you find.

Shogun on Facebook

Shogun on Bandcamp

 

Nadja, Luminous Rot

Nadja Luminous Rot

Keeping up with Nadja has proven nigh on impossible over the better part of the last two decades, as the Berlin-by-way-of-Toronto duo have issued over 25 albums in 19 years, plus splits and live offerings and digital singles and oh my goodness I do believe I have the vapors that’s a lot of Nadja. For those of us who flit in and out like the dilletantes we ultimately are, Luminous Rot‘s aligning Aidan Baker and Leah Buckareff with Southern Lord makes it an easy landmark, but really most of what the six-cut/48-minute long-player does is offer a reminder of the vital experimentalism the lazy are missing in the first place. The consuming, swelling drone of “Cuts on Your Hands,” blown-out sub-industrialism of “Starres,” hook of the title-track and careful-what-you-wish-for anchor riff of “Fruiting Bodies” — these and the noisily churning closer “Dark Inclusions” are a fervent argument in Nadja‘s favor as being more than a sometimes-check-in kind of band, and for immediately digging into the 43-minute single-song album Seemannsgarn, which they released earlier this year. So much space and nothing to lose.

Nadja on Facebook

Southern Lord Recordings website

 

Shroud of Vulture, Upon a Throne of Jackals

shroud of vulture upon a throne of jackals

Welcome to punishment as a primary consideration. Indianapolis death-doom four-piece hold back the truly crawling fare until “Perverted Reflection,” which is track three of the total seven on their debut full-length, Upon a Throne of Jackals, but by then the extremity has already shown its unrepentant face across the buried-alive “Final Spasms of the Drowned” and the oldschool death metal of “The Altar.” Centerpiece “Invert Every Throne” calls to mind Conan in its nod, but Shroud of Vulture are more about rawness than sheer largesse in tone, and their prone-to-blasting style gives them an edge there and in “Halo of Tarnished Light,” which follows. The closing pair of “Concealing Rabid Laughter” and “Stone Coffin of Existence” both top seven minutes and offset grueling tension with grueling release, but it’s the stench of decay that so much defines Upon a Throne of Jackals, as though somebody rebuilt Sunlight Studio brick for brick in Hoosier Country. Compelling and filthy in kind.

Shroud of Vulture on Facebook

Wise Blood Records website

Transylvanian Tapes on Bandcamp

 

Towards Atlantis Lights, When the Ashes Devoured the Sun

Towards Atlantis Lights When the Ashes Devoured the Sun

Ultra-grueling, dramatic death-doom tragedies permeate the second full-length, When the Ashes Devoured the Sun, from UK-based four-piece Towards Atlantis Lights, with vocalist/keyboardist Kostas Panagiotou and guitarist Ivan Zara at the heart of the compositions while bassist Riccardo Veronese and drummer Ivano Olivieri assure the impact that coincides with the cavernous procession matches in scope. The follow-up to 2018’s Dust of Aeons (review here), this six-track collection fosters classicism and modern apocalyptic vibes alike, and whether raging or morose, its dirge atmosphere remains firm and uncompromised. Heavy lumber for heavy hearts. The kind of doom that doesn’t look up. That doesn’t mean it’s not massive in scope — it is, even more than the first record — just that nearly everything it sees is downward. If there’s hope, it is a vague thing, lost to periphery. So be it.

Towards Atlantis Lights on Facebook

Kostas Panagiotou on Bandcamp

 

ASTRAL CONstruct, Tales of Cosmic Journeys

ASTRAL CONstruct Tales of Cosmic Journeys

It has been said on multiple occasions that “space is the place.” The curiously-capitalized Colorado outfit ASTRAL CONstruct would seem to live by this ethic on their debut album, Tales of Cosmic Journeys, unfurling as they do eight flowing progressions of instrumental slow-CGI-of-the-planets pieces that are more plotted in their course than jams, but feel built from jams just the same. Raw in its production and mix, and mastered by Kent Stump of Wo Fat, there’s enough atmosphere to let the lead guitar breathe, certainly, and to sustain life in general even on “Jettisoned Adrift in the Space Debris,” and the image evoked by “Hand Against the Solar Winds” feels particularly inspired given that song’s languid roll. The record starts and ends in cryogenic sleep, and if upon waking we’re transported to another place and another time, who knows what wonders we might see along the way. ASTRAL CONstruct‘s exploration would seem to be just beginning here, but their “Cosmos Perspective” is engaging just the same.

ASTRAL CONstruct on Instagram

ASTRAL CONstruct on Bandcamp

 

TarLung, Architect

TarLung Architect

Vienna-based sludgedrivers TarLung were last heard from with 2017’s Beyond the Black Pyramid (discussed here), and Architect continues the progression laid out there in melding vocal extremity and heavy-but-not-too-heavy-to-move riffing. It might seem like a fine line to draw, and it is, and that only makes songs like “Widow’s Bane” and “Horses of Plague” all the more nuanced as their deathly growls and severe atmospheres mesh with what in another context might just be stoner rock groove. Carcass circa the criminally undervalued Swansong, Six Feet Under. TarLung manage to find a place in stoner sludge that isn’t just Bongzilla worship, or Bongripper worship, or Bong worship. I’m not sure it’s worship at all, frankly, and I like that about it as the closing title-track slow-moshes my brain into goo.

TarLung on Facebook

TarLung on Bandcamp

 

Wizzerd & Merlin, Turned to Stone Chapter III

ripple music turned to stone chapter iii wizzerd vs merlin

Somewhere in the great mystical expanse between Kalispell, Montana, and Kansas City, Missouri, two practicioners of the riffly dark arts meet on a field of battle. Wizzerd come packing the 19-minute acoustic-into-heavy-prog-into-sitar-laced-jam-out “We Are,” as if to encompass that declaration in all its scope, while Merlin answer back with the organ-led “Merlin’s Bizarre Adventure” (21:51), all chug and lumber until it’s time for weirdo progressive fusion reggae and an ensuing Purple-tinged psych expansion. Who wins? I don’t know. Ripple Music in releasing it in the first place, I guess. Continuing the label’s influential split series(es), Turned to Stone Chapter III pushes well over the top in the purposes of both acts involved, and in that, it’s maybe less of a battle than two purveyors joining forces to weave some kind of Meteo down on the heads of all who might take them on. If you’ve think you’ve got the gift, they seem only too ready to test that out.

Wizzerd on Facebook

Merlin on Facebook

Ripple Music website

 

Seum, Winterized

Seum Winterized

“Life Grinder” begins with a sample: “I don’t know if you need all that bass,” and the answer, “Oh, you need all that bass.” That’s already after “Sea Sick Six” has revealed the Montreal-based trio’s sans-guitar extremist sludge roll, and the three-piece seem only too happy to keep up the theme. Vocals are harsh, biting, grating, purposeful in their fuckall, and the whole 28-minute affair of Winterized is cathartic aural violence, except perhaps the interllude “666,” which is a quiet moment between “Broken Bones” and “Black Snail Volcano,” which finally seems to just explode in its outright aggression, nod notwithstanding. A slowed down Ramones cover — reinventing “Pet Sematary” as “Red Sematary” — has a layer of spoken chanting vocals layered in and closes out, but the skin has been peeled so far back by then and Seum have doused so much salt onto the wounds that even Bongzilla might cringe. The low-end-only approach only makes it more punishing and more punk rock at the same time. Fucking mean.

Seum on Facebook

Seum on Bandcamp

 

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Delving Fall European Tour Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 29th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

delving nick disalvo

If you watched/read the recent interview with Delving‘s Nick DiSalvo — the video of which is also embedded below — you already knew that a tour announcement was forthcoming, but really, isn’t it nice to see? Am I going to go to one of these shows? No. Sadly there are no trips to Luxembourg slated in my immediate future (I say that sincerely). But still, it’s refreshing to be able to post a list of tour dates not just for established acts — though DiSalvo brings a pedigree with him via fronting Elder for the better part of the last 15 years — but for a new project as well. Spring comes to planet Earth. New life out of all the chaos and death, and so on.

Delving‘s debut album, Hirschbrunnen (review here), is likewise refreshing and engaging and all that good stuff, not beholden to a sense of heft, but not entirely removed from one either, transposing the proggy flow of Elder to an instrumentalist context that lets itself be driven by other forces, keys, synth, etc. It’s out on Stickman, and while I won’t get to Luxembourg this time around, the fact that DiSalvo is taking Delving on the road even in this initial feel-it-out capacity speaks to his intention to keep the band going as more than a one-off. That’s also good news.

Dates follow, along with ticket links:

delving tour

DELVING – FALL TOUR 2021

I’m beyond excited to announce some tour dates for delving coming up in a few months! Hope to see you at one of the shows below.

Thank you to Artourette for the beautiful tour poster! We’ll definitely be printing some of these for the upcoming run.

26.11. DE – Leipzig, Moertelwerk
Tickets: https://tinyurl.com/delvingleipzig

27.11. DE – Berlin, Urban Spree
Tickets: https://tinyurl.com/delvingberlin

28.11. PL – Pozna?, Klub pod Minog?
Tickets: https://tinyurl.com/delvingpoznan

02.12. DE – Munich, Sunny Red
Tickets: https://tinyurl.com/delvingmunich

03.12. IT – Bologna, Freakout Club
Tickets: https://bit.ly/3d7OZZT

04.12. IT – Milan, Bloom
Tickets: https://bit.ly/3xKaxn9

05.12. CH – Aarau, KIFF
Tickets: https://tinyurl.com/delvingaarau

08.12. DE – Karlsruhe, Die Stadtmitte Karlsruhe
Tickets: https://bit.ly/3wWBrrW

09.12. LUX – Esch-Alzette, Kulturfabrik Esch-sur-Alzette
Tickets: https://tinyurl.com/delvingluxembourg

10.12. NL – Haarlem, Patronaat Haarlem
Tickets: https://tinyurl.com/delvinghaarlem

11.12. DE – Essen, Cafe Nova
Tickets: https://tinyurl.com/delvingessen

12.12. DE – Hamburg, Hafenklang
Tickets: https://tinyurl.com/delvinghamburg

https://www.facebook.com/delvingmusic
https://www.instagram.com/delving_music/
https://delving-music.bandcamp.com
https://www.stickman-records.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Stickman-Records-1522369868033940

Delving, Hirschbrunnen (2021)

Delving Interview with Nick DiSalvo, June 15, 2021

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Video Interview: Nick DiSalvo on New Project Delving, Elder Recording and More

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 17th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

delving nick disalvo

Founding Elder guitarist/vocalist Nick DiSalvo released the debut album from his don’t-call-it-a-solo-project Delving last week. Titled Hirschbrunnen (review here) and issued through Stickman Records, it’s an excursion into stylistic and instrumental freedom that brings new textures of synth, electronics and layered guitar to some methods familiar and unfamiliar to the context of his prior work. Classically progressive in some ways, touching on heavy in others, it is a pandemic-era exploration that, DiSalvo notes, was born of the restlessness of being off tour but was a long-simmering back-burner concept. Always wanted to do a thing? No time like lockdown.

Immediately, Delving is brought into coexistence with DiSalvo‘s main outlet. Elder will hit the studio in Hamburg in August to begin their next LP even as Delving — which was recorded at Big Snuff in Berlin — looks to do a kind of mini-tour this Fall, feeling out a process of playing live at least in Germany. Hirschbrunnen, which takes its name from a statue in Rudolph Wilde Park near where DiSalvo lives in Berlin, embraces its distinctions. Part of the point of the thing is to be a home for material that, to DiSalvo‘s ear, is separate from Elder in its form or fluidity.

I asked him outright if he was tired of writing heavy riffs. He didn’t prevaricate in saying no, but it’s likewise clear that pushing back on internal and external expectations of Elder as a “heavy” band — which they are, even on last year’s Omens (review here), which introduced a new drummer and an even more progressive sound — and being free to create outside of those expectations was refreshing in his work on Delving. Though instrumental in its entirety, that sensibility comes through the songs without question. They go where they want, even if Hirschbrunnen is presenting a nascent form of these ideas.

There will be more Delving, and Elder will have that new record as well, and return to touring when possible — they’ve already had a few confirmations for 2022. Those are things you’ll want to know. Beyond that, I hope you dive in here and enjoy.

We start off talking about yerba mate, as one will.

Thanks for reading and watching:

Delving Interview with Nick DiSalvo, June 15, 2021

Delving‘s Hirschbrunnen is out now on Stickman Records. You can hear it on the player below and get more info at the links.

Delving, Hirschbrunnen (2021)

Delving on Facebook

Delving on Instagram

Delving on Bandcamp

Stickman Records website

Stickman Records on Facebook

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Kadavar Announce German Live Dates for August & September

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 11th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

Berlin heavy rock three-piece Kadavar will play a series of weekender shows later this summer in their native Germany. One can hardly say the trio didn’t make the most of their time in lockdown, between their two livestreams — both released as live albums afterward — and later-2020’s The Isolation Tapes (review here), which found them ahead of the game in conveying a sense of pandemic-loneliness now broadly heard in a variety of acts while pushing their own sound to new places in terms of atmosphere and influence, as well as working with their own label, Robotor Records, for the first time.

This year, they also released a split 7″ with Lucifer, again through Robotor, and have set about adding to the label’s roster by bringing in Dutch outfit Splinter. As parts of the planet — and isn’t it astounding how many of these parts are rich and white? what a coincidence — take initial steps toward life post-pandemic, removing lockdown regulations, and so on, Kadavar have now announced a couple of weekender live shows in Germany, presumably tentative steps toward broader touring. Under general circumstances, the band spends a goodly portion of any given year on the road. That they’re getting out at all felt noteworthy to me at this point, regardless of the amount of territory they’re covering.

It’s been long enough that I’m not even going to try to remember what plans they had that were canceled — Australia? — but in the alternate reality that happened and is still happening, they’ve persevered admirably. I hope this shows and many more go off without a hitch.

As seen on socials:

kadavar tour

Kadavar – German Live Dates

This feels a little weird but here we go.

We are back:
14.08. Augsburg – Sommer am Kiez
15.08. Lindau – @clubvaudeville
28.08. Vilshofen – Zauberberg Passau
30.08. Hannover – KOMMRAUS Hannover
09.09. München – Backstage München
10.09. Dortmund – JunkYard
11.09. Bremen – Hellseatic

Kadavar are:
Lupus Lindemann – Vocals & Guitar
Simon ‘Dragon’ Bouteloup – Bass
Tiger – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/KadavarOfficial/
https://instagram.com/kadavargram/
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVmSmatRaSUU2LMhecGKiqg/
https://www.kadavar.com/
https://www.facebook.com/robotorrecords/
https://www.instagram.com/robotorrecords/
https://robotorrecords.bandcamp.com/
https://www.robotorrecords.com/

Kadavar, Studio Live Session Vol. II (2020)

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Album Review: Delving, Hirschbrunnen

Posted in Reviews on June 9th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

delving hirschbrunnen

For a quarantine-era project, Delving isn’t necessarily all that insular. The outfit — stylized all-lowercase: delving — offers clues right on its face, from the colorful artwork depicting a fountain in Rudolph Wilde Park in Berlin, Germany, to the fact that the title Hirschbrunnen translates to “stag fountain,” to the fact that the moniker chosen is describing the exact process of what’s happening in the music. Think of the idea of “delving,” and the fact that the name of the band is lowercase. There’s something humble about it, and even in the eponymous second track, something tentative that dissipates the deeper you go into, say, the three-minute motorik psych rocker “Einstürzende Plattenbauten” or the concluding “Vast,” an 11-minute expanse that moves between willful drift and the record’s most weighted crush. So perhaps Delving is driven in part by an abiding awareness of its own craft, and fair enough for that.

For multi-instrumentalist Nick DiSalvo, who’s best known for his work as founding guitarist/vocalist and principle songwriter for Elder, that awareness is well earned, and even as far into progressive rock as his main outfit has pushed — 2020’s Omens (review here) brought them to a new level in that regard — Delving nonetheless represents a pushing back or pushing aside of expectations and a refreshing creative freedom that comes through even in the tonal clarity of the guitar and the keyboard bounce of opener “Ultramarine.”

To make the album, DiSalvo recorded with Richard Behrens (Heat, ex-Samsara Blues Experiment, FOH for Kadavar, etc.) and Emanuele Baratto (who also mastered) at Big Snuff Studio, and as DiSalvo handles the bulk of guitar, bass, drums, keys, etc., himself, Elder bandmate Mike Risberg also steps in to add guitar to Hirschbrunnen‘s three longest tracks, “The Reflecting Pool” (9:30), “Hirschbrunnen” (9:34) and the aforementioned “Vast.” These songs, with “Ultramarine” starting the record at just under eight minutes, are interspliced with comparatively shorter pieces, whether that’s “Delving” (7:01) or “Wait and See” (7:13) or “Einstürzende Plattenbauten” (3:40), adding to the feeling of movement between one cut and the next, however individual the explorations within might prove.

And the personalities within Hirschbrunnen do vary, whether it’s “Delving” adding forward rhythmic momentum to the textural foundation “Ultramarine” sets forth, or the piano and basslines of “The Reflecting Pool” tying together with the Mellotron (or Mellotron-esque guitar; one has been fooled before) and hypnotic guitar progression in the second half of “Wait and See,” the keystone surge of which serves as a fitting and purposeful-seeming centerpiece to the record as a whole. Those looking for some commonality with Elder will find it in that moment, as well as in DiSalvo‘s winding style of guitar in “Delving” itself, reminiscent of some of the breaks in his main unit’s more recent works, and here and there throughout if you really feel like digging — but to do so is to miss part of the point of the project as a whole.

While Elder have not wanted for exploration — their The Gold & Silver Sessions EP (discussed here) boasted plenty in 2019 — Delving ultimately holds more in common with 2014’s Azurite & Malachite (review here), on which DiSalvo also worked with Risberg, under the banner of Gold and Silver. Aside from the instrumentalism, the two projects share a progressive foundation, but where Delving departs from its conceptual semi-predecessor is perhaps even more in its willingness to not be “heavy” in the sense of weighted low-end distortion and crash, and to allow its parts to flesh out melodically along an organic course of their own.

delving nick disalvo

These aren’t exactly jams, though “Einstürzende Plattenbauten” has some spontaneity to its guitar and it’s not alone in that — the prevailing spirit of the release is exploration, after all, and particularly where Risberg sits in, there’s more opportunity to flesh out what’s there in the basic tracks. “The Reflecting Pool” is accordingly spacious in its finish, and the shimmer into which the title-track makes its way carries all the refreshing spirit of, yes, running through a park fountain in the middle of yet another record temperature summer. Escapism? Maybe, but at least as much about the going itself as the being gone.

As regards descriptors, it’s low-hanging fruit to call Hirschbrunnen atmospheric, though it is that. But in this case, that doesn’t necessarily mean quiet or droning or ambient so much as able to convey a sense of place, mental or physical, though following the what-if-Earthless-but-one-person kraut shove of “Einstürzende Plattenbauten,” “Vast” brings out a grand-style culmination that has its subdued stretches. In the context of the preceding six tracks, which alternate between patient and pointedly impatient in their structures, “Vast” still represents a next-stage far-outness, and though its payoff lacks nothing for heft, it’s still a departure in form.

It might be fair to point to those two final inclusions as showcasing the truest potential of Delving as a project distinct from Elder in terms of where and to what they might lead creatively, but the truth is that potential is writ large across the album as a whole and the end is just a convenient summary. If Delving is to be an ongoing project with its own development or a periodic aside for DiSalvo or, like Gold and Silver, an outlet whose progressive stylizations were eventually worked into Elder‘s songwriting, it remains to be seen. In a time so marked by upheaval of one’s normal processes, DiSalvo is hardly alone in finding a new and somewhat-different avenue of expression.

With familiar elements and individualized nuance, where Delving ends may be a mystery, but it begins here, and as an initial offering, Hirschbrunnen demonstrates not only its own potential, but how comfortable DiSalvo has become in his own skin as a songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. Even without vocals, these tracks stand on their own, not entirely separate from his work elsewhere, but neither entirely of it, inhabiting multiple spaces carved out as they go. Humility may have driven calling the “band” Delving, but the greater creative process of which this project is a part is broad and only growing more so with time.

Delving, Hirschbrunnen (2021)

Delving on Facebook

Delving on Instagram

Delving on Bandcamp

Stickman Records website

Stickman Records on Facebook

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Tau and the Drones of Praise Post ‘Dream Awake’ Set From Roadburn Redux

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 10th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

tau and the drones of praise dream awake

Originally aired last month as part of Roadburn Redux and ‘premiered’ via YouTube this past weekend, ‘Dream Awake’ brings an hour-plus live set from Tau and the Drones of Praise celebrating the band’s past, present and future. I was fortunate enough to interview guitarist/vocalist Seán Mulrooney for the Roadburn ‘zine, the Weirdo Canyon Dispatch, and the way he described it was, “It’s like the hero’s quest, the return home, and infinite possibilities. It’s a set of three parts. It’s the hero’s quest, the return home, the cosmos: infinite possibilities.”

Not wanting for scope, then, and fair enough given the sonic breadth — and breath, since this music is very much alive; the changes can be seen signaled between bandmates with sometimes urgent glances — that comes across in the 68-minute offering. And yet it is very much tied to the land and the spirit of the land that comes through in Irish folklore, from the inclusion of Pól Brennan of Clannad — who marked their 50th year in 2020 — to the paeans to ancestors and culture that are born in melodies and arrangement as well as lyrics and themes that perpetuate in the songs. It is a beautiful music, and by no means restricted to Irish influences, but every outward journey begins somewhere.

I was enthralled earlier this year when Tau and the Drones of Praise posted a live set from Dublin in support of their 2020 EP, Seanóirí Naofa (discussed here), and I knew going into Roadburn Redux that this was my gotta-see set of the entire affair. I am glad that as other exclusives have begun to trickle out to the greater public, this one has not been left to languish, because it deserves no less than to catch as many eyes and ears as possible with its transportive atmosphere and resonant emotional foundation, human and otherworldly at once.

Enjoy:

Tau and the Drones of Praise, ‘Dream Awake’

Full concert recorded exclusively for Roadburn Redux.

So glad you can be here now. Thanks so much Global community.
Donate here to help us record 3rd album.
paypal.me/taufornow

Thanks so much Global community.

Subscribe to the Tau YouTube channel here:
https://www.youtube.com/c/TAUMUSICA?

Listen to and purchase all music on BandCamp:
https://tauofficial.bandcamp.com/
Tau and the Drones of Praise:
Seán Mulrooney – guitar/vocals
Ruarí Mac Néill Aodha – guitar
Bob “Wildman” Glynn – percussion/vocals
Iain Faulkner – bass/vocals
Ken “Moon” Mooney – drums/percussion

Tau and the Drones of Praise, Seanóirí Naofa (2020)

Tau on Instagram

Tau and the Drones of Praise on Thee Facebooks

Tau and the Drones of Praise on Bandcamp

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Samavayo Post ‘New Riffs Burnin” Rehearsal Room Footage

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 26th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

samavayo

Berlin trio Samavayo are by no means the only outfit to take the opportunity to develop their visual presence in the absence of broader touring, and you can’t really fault the method by which they’re going about it. Instead of trying to mimic a full concert experience, they’re giving their audience a chance to peek at their songwriting process as it happens. They’ve begun what purports to be a series of videos called simply ‘New Riffs Burnin’,’ and fairly enough so. As the next few weeks play out, they’ll be posting clips from their rehearsal room of them working on new songs for what will be their follow-up to 2018’s Vatan (review here), tentatively to be recorded this Fall with an eye toward releasing in Spring 2022, at which point — hey how about that? — they’ll also be returning to the road.

Sounds like a plan? That because it is one, and kudos to the three-piece on that. Unless I’m mistaken, the band’s last run was Fall 2019, so they’ll be at a decent remove from that — of course the circumstances are well beyond their control, and all ‘plans’ should be taken with the acknowledgment of being pandemic-pending — and having new material is all the more reason to get out again. One hopes the timing works out, for them as well as, you know, the rest of the world. Spring 2022 puts them in the midst of a resurgent and perhaps somewhat tentative festival season in Europe, so it will be an early chance to see what shakes out as regards bands, venues and gatherings in various countries of the European Union and beyond its borders. What does touring post-Brexit actually look like? How often are these poor guys going to have Q-tips shoved up their noses? We’ll find out together as the world attempts to move out of the hellscape that the last year-plus has been and into (hopefully) a more hopeful time.

And it’s in a spirit of that hopefulness that Samavayo focuses on moving forward, on their next record, on getting back to shows, and so on, that they bring this video and the ones that would seem to be set to follow to light. All the better.

It’s a short, under-two-minute consumable — but they’re not kidding when they call it “Sludge Burner.” Here’s looking forward to more.

Enjoy:

Samavayo, ‘New Riffs Burnin’ Ep. 1: Sludge Burner’

Check out a heavy Stoner Rock Riff in Drop-C Tuning from Berlin based Stoner Rockband Samavayo. We are presenting you some kewl new riffs in the next weeks, so you can follow our songwriting for the next upcoming album. Let us know what you think about it in the comments.

Samavayo is:
Behrang Alavi, Andreas Voland & Stephan Voland

Samavayo, Vatan (2018)

Samavayo on Thee Facebooks

Samavayo on Instagram

Samavayo website

Samavayo on YouTube

Samavayo on Twitter

Noisolution webstore

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