Somnuri Post “Nefarious Wave”; Continue to Destroy

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 27th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

somnuri nefarious wave

I have precious little insight to offer here. Like, none. I guess it’s probably pretty nice when your drummer knows how to make videos? Somnuri are killer? I’m sorry, I’m not sure what you’re looking for. The Brooklynite trio offered up Nefarious Wave (review here) in June through Blues Funeral Recordings, and I feel like if you’re not down with it as yet, well, if you haven’t heard it, that’s okay. The video’s another chance.

But if you’ve heard it and for whatever reason it’s not speaking to you, I can only respectfully disagree. Maybe it’s my born-and-bred Northeastern US mentality — we are an aggressive people by nature — but Nefarious Wave hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks, and continues to do so. Enough that I’m taking the excuse this video provides and posting more about it when I’m sure there’s something out there I could be chasing down. Screw that, whatever it is. This’ll do just fine.

The video? Yeah, some shots of the woods, some shots of the band — guitarist/vocalist Justin Sherrell, bassist Philippe Arman, drummer/video director Phil SanGiacomo — all turned red. Standard enough, but it’s fine. It serves its purpose. It’s better than watching dudes try to sync to parts on Zoom. You know what I’m talking about. We all lived through last year.

This is the third clip by my count from the record. They keep makin’ ’em, I’ll keep postin’ ’em. Simple as that.

Enjoy:

Somnuri, “Nefarious Wave” official video

Says the band about this new song and video: “The song has a trodding and lumbering feel to it. It builds layer after layer, and we wanted the video to have textures as well. We ended up shooting a lo-fi, psychedelic, first-person trek through the woods, tying to the song’s themes of survival and resilience,” said the band. “Those themes are present throughout the record as well and, ultimately, it was easy to see how they paralleled the world around us, filming and editing this video during lockdown. Thanks to our friend Eric Adams of the band Adam’s Castle, who helped get us some crazy shots way the fuck up in the mountains. We’re proud to have this video accompany the title track of this record.”

Video Directed by Phil SanGiacomo (Somnuri)

Taken from the Album “Nefarious Wave”
Release Date: June 4, 2021

SOMNURI is:
Justin Sherrell — guitars/vocals (also bass on the album)
Philippe Arman — bass
Phil SanGiacomo — drums

Somnuri, Nefarious Wave (2021)

Somnuri on Facebook

Somnuri on Instagram

Somnuri on Bandcamp

Blues Funeral Recordings on Bandcamp

Blues Funeral Recordings on Facebook

Blues Funeral Recordings website

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Quarterly Review: Howling Giant, Rose City Band, The Tazers, Kavrila, Gateway, Bala, Tremor Ama, The Crooked Whispers, No Stone, Firefriend

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

the-obelisk-fall-2016-quarterly-review

You know what? We’re through the first week of the Quarterly Review as of this post. Not too bad. I feel like it’s been smooth going so far to such a degree that I’m even thinking about adding an 11th day comprised purely of releases that came my way this week and will invariably come in next week too. Crazy, right? Bonus day QR. We’ll see if I get there, but I’m thinking about it. That alone should tell you something.

But let me not get ahead of myself. Day five commence.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Howling Giant, Alteration

howling giant alteration

Let the story be that when the pandemic hit, Nashville’s Howling Giant took to the airwaves to provide comfort, character and a bit of ‘home’ — if one thinks of live performance as home — to their audience. With a steady schedule of various live streams on Twitch, some playing music, some playing D&D, the band engaged their listenership in a new and exciting way, finding a rare bright point in one of the darkest years of recent history. Alteration, a crisp four-song/20-minute EP, is born out of those streamed jams, with songs named by the band’s viewers/listeners — kudos to whoever came up with “Luring Alluring Rings” — and, being entirely instrumental from a band growing more and more focused on vocal arrangements, sound more like they’re on their way to being finished than are completely done. However, that’s also the point of the release, essentially to showcase unfinished works in progress that have emerged in a manner that nobody expected. It is another example from last year-plus that proves the persistence of creativity, and is all the more beautiful for that.

Howling Giant on Facebook

Blues Funeral Recordings website

 

Rose City Band, Earth Trip

Rose City Band Earth Trip

Vaguely lysergic, twanging with a non-chestbeating or jingoistic ’70s American singer-songwriter feel, Rose City Band‘s Earth Trip brings sentiment without bitterness in its songs, engaging as the title hints with nature in songs like “Silver Roses,” “In the Rain,” “Lonely Planes,” “Ramblin’ with the Day,” “Rabbit” and “Dawn Patrol.” An outlet for Ripley Johnson, also of Wooden Shjips and Moon Duo, the “band” isn’t so much in Rose City Band, but there is some collaboration — pedal steel here and there, as on “Ramblin’ with the Day” — though it’s very much Johnson‘s own craft and performance at the core of this eight-song set. This is the third Rose City Band long-player in three years, but quickly as it may have come about, the tracks never feel rushed — hushed, if anything — and Johnson effectively casts himself in among the organic throughout the proceedings, making the listener feel nothing if not welcome to join the ramble.

Rose City Band on Facebook

Thrill Jockey Records website

 

The Tazers, Dream Machine

The Tazers Dream Machine

Johannesburg, South Africa’s The Tazers are suited to a short-release format, as their Dream Machine EP shows, bringing together four tracks with psychedelic precociousness and garage rock attitude to spare, with just an edge of classic heavy to keep things grooving. Their latest work opens with its languid and lysergic title-track, which sets up the shove of “Go Away” and the shuffle in “Lonely Road” — both under three and a half minutes long, with nary a wasted second in them, despite sounding purposefully like tossoffs — and the latter skirts the line of coming undone, but doesn’t, of course, but in the meantime sets up the almost proto-New Wave in the early going on “Around Town,” only later to give way to the band’s most engaging melody and a deceptively patient, gentle finish, which considering some of the brashness in the earlier tracks is a surprise. A pleasant one, though, and not the first the three-piece have brought forth by the time they get to the end of Dream Machine‘s ultra-listenable 16-minute run.

The Tazers on Facebook

The Tazers on Soundcloud

 

Kavrila, Rituals III

Kavrila Rituals III

Pressed in an ultra-limited edition of 34 tapes (the physical version also has a bonus track), Kavrila‘s Rituals III brings together about 16 minutes of heavy hardcore and post-hardcore, a thickened undertone giving something of a darker mood to the crunch of “Equality” as guitars are layered in subtly in a higher register, feeding into the urgency without competing with the drums or vocals. Opener “Sunday” works at more of a rush while “Longing” has more of a lurch at least to its outset before gradually elbowing its way into a more careening groove, but the bridge being built is between sludge and hardcore, and while the four-piece aren’t the first to build it, they do well here. If we’re picking highlights, closer “Elysium” has deft movement, intensity and atmosphere in kind, and still features a vocal rawness that pushes the emotional crux between the verses and choruses to make the transitions that much smoother. The ending fades out early behind those shouts, leaving the vocals stranded, calling out the song’s title into a stark emptiness.

Kavrila on Facebook

The Chinaskian Conspiracy on Bandcamp

 

Gateway, Flesh Reborn

gateway flesh reborn

Brutal rebirth. Robin Van Oyen is the lone figure behind Bruges, Belgium-based death-doom outfit Gateway, and Flesh Reborn is his first EP in three years. Marked out with guest guitar solos by M., the four-track/25-minute offering keeps its concentration on atmosphere as much as raw punishment, and while one would be correct to call it ‘extreme’ in its purpose and execution, its deathliest aspects aren’t just the growling vocals or periods of intense blast, but the wash of distortion that lays over the offering as a whole, from “Hel” through “Slumbering Crevasses,” the suitably twisting, later lurching “Rack Crawler” and the grandeur-in-filth 12-minute closing title-track, at which point the fullness of the consumption is revealed at last. Unbridled as it seems, this material is not without purpose and is not haphazard. It is the statement it intends to be, and its depths are shown to be significant as Van Oyen pulls you further down into them with each passing moment, finally leaving you there amid residual drone.

Gateway on Facebook

Chaos Records website

 

Bala, Maleza

Bala Maleza

Admirably punk in its dexterity, Bala‘s debut album, Maleza, arrives as a nine-track pummelfest from the Spanish duo of guitarist/vocalist Anx and drummer/vocalist V., thickened with sludgy intent and aggression to spare. The starts and stops of opener “Agitar” provide a noise-rock-style opening that hints at the tonal push to come throughout “Hoy No” — the verse melody of which seems to reinvent The Bangles — while the subsequent “X” reaches into greater breadth, vocals layered effectively as a preface perhaps to the later grunge of “Riuais,” which arrives ahead of the swaggering riff and harsh sneer of “Bessie” the lumbering finale “Una Silva.” Whether brooding in “Quieres Entrar” or explosive in its shove in “Cien Obstaculos,” Maleza offers stage-style energy with clarity of vision and enough chaos to make the anger feel genuine. There’s apparently some hype behind Bala, and fair enough, but this is legitimately one of the best debut albums I’ve heard in 2021.

Bala on Facebook

Century Media Records website

 

Tremor Ama, Beneath

Tremor Ama Beneath

French prog-fuzz five-piece Tremor Ama make a coherent and engaging debut with Beneath, a first full-length following up a 2017 self-titled EP release. Spacious guitar leads the way through the three-minute intro “Ab Initio” and into the subsequent “Green Fire,” giving a patient launch to the outing, the ensuing four songs of which grow shorter as they go behind that nine-minute “Green Fire” stretch. There’s room for ambience and intensity both in centerpiece “Eclipse,” with vocals echoing out over the building second half, and both “Mirrors” and “Grey” offer their moments of surge as well, the latter tapping into a roll that should have fans of Forming the Void nodding both to the groove and in general approval. Effectively tipping the balance in their sound over the course of the album as a whole, Tremor Ama showcase an all-the-more thoughtful approach in this debut, and at 30 minutes, they still get out well ahead of feeling overly indulgent or losing sight of their overarching mission.

Tremor Ama on Facebook

Tremor Ama on Bandcamp

 

The Crooked Whispers, Dead Moon Night

The Crooked Whispers Dead Moon Night

Delivered on multiple formats including as a 12″ vinyl through Regain Records offshoot Helter Skelter Productions, the bleary cultistry of The Crooked Whispers‘ two-songer Dead Moon Night also finds the Los Angeles-based outfit recently picked up by Ripple Music. If it seems everybody wants a piece of The Crooked Whispers, that’s fair enough for the blend of murk, sludge and charred devil worship the foursome offer with “Hail Darkness” and the even more gruesome “Galaxy of Terror,” taking the garage-doom rawness of Uncle Acid and setting against a less Beatlesian backdrop, trading pop hooks for classic doom riffing on the second track, flourishing in its misery as it is. At just 11 minutes long — that’s less than a minute for each inch of the vinyl! — Dead Moon Night is a grim forecast of things to come for the band’s deathly revelry, already showcased too on last year’s debut, Satanic Whispers (review here).

The Crooked Whispers on Facebook

Regain Records on Bandcamp

 

No Stone, Road into the Darkness

No Stone Road into the Darkness

Schooled, oldschool doom rock for denim-clad heads as foggy as the distortion they present, No Stone‘s debut album, Road into the Darkness, sounds like they already got there. The Rosario, Argentina, trio tap into some Uncle Acid-style garage doom vibes on “The Frayed Endings,” but the crash is harder, and the later 10-minute title-track delves deeper into psychedelia and grunge in kind, resulting in an overarching spirit that’s too weird to be anything but individual, however mmuch it might still firmly reside within the tenets of “cult.” If you were the type to chase down a patch, you might want to chase down a No Stone patch, as “Devil Behind” makes its barebones production feel like an aesthetic choice to offset the boogie to come in “Shadow No More,” and from post-intro opener “Bewitched” to the long fade of “The Sky is Burning,” No Stone balance atmosphere and songcraft in such a way as to herald future progress along this morose path. Maybe they are just getting on the road into the darkness, but they seem to be bringing that darkness with them on the way.

No Stone on Facebook

Ruidoteka Records on Bandcamp

 

Firefriend, Dead Icons

Firefriend Dead Icons

Dead Icons is the sixth full-length from Brazilian psychedelic outfit Firefriend, and throughout its 10 songs and 44 minutes, the band proffer marked shoegaze-style chill and a sense of space, fuzzy and molten in “Hexagonal Mess,” more desert-hued in “Spin,” jangly and out for a march on “Ongoing Crash.” “Home or Exile” takes on that question with due reach, and “Waves” caps with organ alongside the languid guitar, but moments like “Tomorrow” are singular and gorgeous, and though “Three Dimensional Sound Glitch” and “666 Fifth Avenue” border on playful, there’s an overarching melancholy to the flow, as engaging as it is. In its longest pieces — “Tomorrow” (6:05) and “One Thousand Miles High” (5:08) — the “extra” time is well spent in extending the trio’s reach, and while it’s safe to assume that six self-recorded LPs later, Firefriend know what they want to do with their sound, that thing feels amorphous, fleeting, transient somehow here, like a moving target. That speaks to ongoing growth, and is just one of Dead Icons‘ many strengths.

Firefriend on Facebook

Cardinal Fuzz store

Little Cloud Records store

 

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Review & Full Album Premiere: Somnuri, Nefarious Wave

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

somnuri nefarious wave

[Click play above to stream Somnuri’s Nefarious Wave in its entirety. Album is out Friday on Blues Funeral Recordings.]

The dive into pummeling intensity isn’t quite immediate on Somnuri‘s Nefarious Wave. They give it about three seconds. And though the Brooklynite trio will showcase a number of different looks on their second album and Blues Funeral Recordings debut — their first LP, 2017’s self-titled (review here, also discussed here), came out through Magnetic Eye, and they’ve since taken part in that label’s ‘Redux’ series twice, on tribute releases for Pink Floyd (discussed here) and Alice in Chains (review here) in 2018 and 2020, respectively, and issued a split LP with fellow NYC noisebringers Godmaker (review here) in 2018 through The Company — Nefarious Wave remains defined at least in part by its volatility, by the notion that at any moment the band can and might kick their sludge until it becomes mad enough to be the thrash and grind it is as they unleash “Tied to Stone” (3:54) and “Tooth and Nail” (2:26) at the outset.

Those two songs comprise just over six of Nefarious Wave‘s total 36-minute run, and the rest of the seven-track outing moves from shortest to longest as it makes its way toward the seven-minute titular cut, and though there’s some letup in tempo and further fleshing out of melody in that process, beginning with third song “Desire Lines” and its blend of weighted crash and airier singing — vocals handled by guitarist Justin Sherrell (ex-Blackout, etc.), who also handles bass here, and bassist Philippe Arman, while drummer Phil SanGiacomo (ex-Family) supplies the crash and mixed — and culmination in a build into angular riffing and throaty shouts worthy of comparison to Swarm of the Lotus. Perhaps it’s because they so very much nailed “Dirt” on the Alice in Chains tribute that one can’t help but hear an edge of grunge in their layered and harmonized vocals, but the context is different as Somnuri make these elements their own, and “Desire Lines” ultimately answers the unmitigated rush of “Tooth and Nail” with a massive lumber that opens wide enough to devour that false sense of security whole. What rough beast, its hour come at last, slouches toward Brooklyn to be born?

They’re not tricky about it. Somnuri aren’t trying to be clever for cleverness’ sake and the prog-noise-metal-sludge they choose at any given moment to inhabit is way more Lifesblood than even Remission, if one has to draw a line to Mastodon as the gallop in the beginning of centerpiece “Beyond Your Last Breath” would seem to warrant. But they wear brutality well, and just because it’s part of the plan rather than the entirety of it doesn’t make their proceedings any less brutal. As it moves into its midsection, a throaty bellow echoes out over a stomping procession, and soon the three-piece are twisting between one riff and the next as SanGiacomo gracefully handles change upon change, a quick stretch of melodic vocals giving way to a comedown before the chug surges forth again to round out. “Beyond Your Last Breath” is transitional no matter the format on which one listens.

somnuri

It not only finishes side A of the vinyl, but taking Nefarious Wave as a linear entirety — CD/DL — it functions as a lead-in to the three longer pieces that comprise the remaining circa 20 minutes of the release. The longer half, as it were, made up of fewer tracks. Particularly, it’s easy to pair “Beyond Your Last Breath” and “Watch the Lights Go Out,” which follows, in terms of theme. The latter track trades cleaner verses for a harsher pre-chorus before the soaring hook, and feels not quite patient in its execution, but not far off. Its apex, which arrives around 4:40 into its 6:09, is as furious as it is restrained, lurching back and forth on drawn out lines of guitar topped with hard growls, where the beginning of the song, with its ride cymbal and engaging bludgeonry, seemed to recall the impulses that drove “Tied to Stone” and “Tooth and Nail” in we-like-to-start-fast fashion. Can’t blame them, given how well it works.

But “Watch the Lights Go Out,” whatever it carries over from side A and however malevolent its crescendo proves to be, moves Nefarious Wave into its next stage, bringing on the at-first-hypnotic-then-destructive-then-righteously-melodic-then-everything-all-together-then-breakdown-elbow-to-your-face “In the Grey,” the penultimate inclusion on the album and by no means its first tour de force. It’s true that Somnuri save actual patience for the title-track that finishes, but already coming from “Watch the Lights Go Out,” there’s a sense of the reach going wider that sets that up, so that the melodies that top “Nefarious Wave” aren’t out of place and the echoing solo in its first half is no more random than the are-those-keyboards-or-guitar-effects? layer that accompanies the last crashes before the title-track gives over its last minute to noise. One might be tempted to think of that as time to process, but it’s hardly enough for the head-spinnery Nefarious Wave has had on offer throughout.

What carries the album, however, is the sense of control with which the band deliver the material. The songs certainly are not without an element of danger — there’s a feeling at times like they’re pushing themselves physically as well as creatively — and of course a certain amount of confrontationalism is a regional delicacy of NYC, but Somnuri find a niche for themselves amid that tempest, and they’re able to create both a purpose in the album’s structure and a flow within and between the songs to enact that purpose. It would be easy to have Nefarious Wave unfold as base chaos, an extreme-sludge onslaught running the length of an LP, in and out and done. And there’s nothing wrong with that, but the mission here is different and one finds the richness of melody that ensues leaving no less an impression in the end than did the outright violence of the first two songs. You can hear as much in Nefarious Wave as you want to put into hearing it, and any such effort on the part of the listener is given due reward.

Somnuri, “Beyond Your Last Breath” official video

Somnuri on Facebook

Somnuri on Instagram

Somnuri on Bandcamp

Blues Funeral Recordings on Bandcamp

Blues Funeral Recordings on Facebook

Blues Funeral Recordings website

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Dead Meadow to Release The Unhounded Now for PostWax Vol. II

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 4th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

Okay, count with me. Dead Meadow, Acid King w/ Jason LandrianRezn & Vinnum SabbathiLowrider & Elephant TreeJosiahMammoth VolumeDopelordThe Otolith. That’s eight.

As Blues Funeral Recordings wrapped the well-over-its-goal by crowdfunding this past week for PostWax Vol. II, and as this announcement of Dead Meadow‘s The Unhounded Now is reported to be the final one by the label’s own social media posting, I can’t help but notice that somebody’s missing. I know I’m the guy who does the liner notes for PostWax, but I tell you now I have no idea who the ninth act is.

The PR wire below acknowledges one more to come, so I guess we’ll see soon enough. Here’s looking forward, also to Dead Meadow getting weird and jamming out for this:

postwax year two logo

DEAD MEADOW to issue special project as part of PostWax Vol.II vinyl series on Blues Funeral Recordings.

Washington-based modern psych rock luminaries DEAD MEADOW are set to release a special concept record as part of Blues Funeral Recordings upcoming PostWax Vol. II vinyl series. Also confirmed to take part in the series are Acid King, Lowrider, Elephant Tree, Mammoth Volume, Josiah, REZN and Vinnum Sabbathi.

Emerging in Washington, D.C. in the late 90s, DEAD MEADOW reached critical mass in the mid-2000s, creating a dreamy, universe-expanding blend of classic and forward-thinking psychedelic rock that puts them at the top of modern psych-rock tinged with post-metal, carving out a space somewhere between the Black Angels and Explosions in the Sky.

On the heels of a sublime Levitation Sessions performance at The Pillars of the Gods earlier this year, the band set to work creating a special release for PostWax Vol. II. They were encouraged to push even further into the cosmos, and for a band like this, who knows what far-reaching dimensions that might take them to? Of their forthcoming PostWax recordings, singer and guitarist Jason Simon says: “Dead Meadow present ‘The Unhounded Now’, a mostly instrumental outing of fuzzed-out drone, otherworldly melody, and eastern tinged celebration.”

Announcing a total of nine releases for their upcoming PostWax Vol. II series, Blues Funeral Recordings have already confirmed the participation of Acid King, Mammoth Volume, Josiah, as well as one-off collaborative albums between Lowrider / Elephant Tree, and REZN / Vinnum Sabbathi. The final band to join the series will be announced soon; don’t forget to head over their Kickstarter page to sign up for the series before it ends on Friday 30th April. The purpose of Postwax Vol. II is to create a curated series of releases that stand alone yet also connect, both through art elements and a musical throughline, in the form of next level collectible records for all heavy rock fans worldwide.

=> Get more info & subscribe to PostWax Vol. II at this location: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/bluesfuneral/postwax-vol-ii

https://www.facebook.com/bluesfuneral/
https://www.instagram.com/blues.funeral/
https://bluesfuneralrecordings.bandcamp.com/
bluesfuneral.com

Dead Meadow, “Rains in the Desert” Levitation Sessions

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The Otolith & Dopelord Announced for PostWax Vol. II

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

This brings us up to seven of the nine total inclusions for PostWax Vol. II, and if I tell you The Otolith‘s debut album is among the outings I’m most looking forward to in this series, I hope you’ll know I’m not exaggerating. Been waiting a couple years for that post-SubRosa outfit to release their first record, so yeah, I’ll take that as soon as humanly possible thank you very much. New Dopelord — their Reality Dagger EP (review here) — shows how far the reach of this project goes. They have a few albums out, of course, but like REZ and Vinnum Sabbathi, who’ll collaborate on a PostWax offering, they represent an up and coming generation of players. I like that they don’t seem to know what they’re going to do in the quote below. How about a film score? Really mess with people.

So, two more announcements to come, and then all will be revealed. I can’t wait to dig into these for the liner notes in the meantime:

postwax year two logo

DOPELORD and THE OTOLITH confirmed to release new albums as part of PostWax Vol. II vinyl series on Blues Funeral Recordings!

Blues Funeral Recordings announce the next bands to take part in the PostWax Vol. II vinyl subscription series. Polish stoner doom flag-bearers DOPELORD are set to crank their fuzz up to stratospheric levels, and Salt Lake City avant-garde doom unit THE OTOLITH (formed by SubRosa members) will issue their awaited debut album as part of the series.

Between Acid King, Lowrider, Mammoth Volume and Josiah, Blues Funeral Recordings has gathered a wealth of artists who have been hewing riffs from stone, sand and sky for decades, inviting them to bring their immense talents and peerless legacies to their ambitious PostWax series. But, as shown by the inclusions of REZN, Elephant Tree and Vinnum Sabbathi, they also put the spotlight on bands who represent stoner, doom and heavy scene’s present and future, ones with the benefit to peer across the generation of heavy rock greatness before them as they seek to forge enthusiastically forward.

Blues Funeral Recordings is happy to welcome Poland’s fuzz-doom emissaries DOPELORD on board today. These masters of monolithic normally follow a deeply DIY path, having self-released almost their entire catalog while still managing to secure worldwide adoration. Albums like ‘Children of the Haze’ and ‘Sign of the Devil’ are absolute monsters of granite-thick hallucinatory riff-tripping.

Dopelord’s Piotr Klusek declares: “We’ve been aware of the PostWax project for a few years now and thought it sounded interesting but wanted to see how it all came together, plus we were focusing on our new album. After releasing our latest record and seeing how the first PostWax series came out, we absolutely wanted to be involved if they did it again. Whatever we end up doing, look forward to something adventurous and fun but still massive and utterly Dopelord!”

As for THE OTOLITH, the new four-piece formed from the ashes of SubRosa, they will release their highly anticipated debut double LP as part of PostWax Vol. II. Those who’ve been following the aftermath of SubRosa’s dissolution know that Kim Cordray, Levi Hanna, Andy Patterson and Sarah Pendleton announced the formation of The Otolith in 2019, and tantalized acolytes of SubRosa’s avant-garde sonic palette with songs on Magnetic Eye Records’ one-off ‘Dirt [Redux]’ and ‘Women of Doom’ compilations.

THE OTOLITH hint: “Our debut album reveals the musical mutations and mystical wanderings of a soul, scanning the edges of the known universe through cracked glass. Ghostly symphonic strings interlace with crushing bass, guitar, and percussion; voices conducting signals across time and space to arrive through cosmic storms to a sea of liquid stars.”

The purpose of Postwax Vol. II is to create a curated series of releases that stand alone yet also connect, both through art elements and a musical throughline. Unearthing forgotten bands, unveiling new ones, and catching icons at the height of their powers, Blues Funeral Recordings are set to deliver yet another set of next level and highly collectible releases for all heavy rock, fuzz and doom fans out there.

=> Get more info & subscribe to PostWax Vol. II at this location: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/bluesfuneral/postwax-vol-ii

https://www.facebook.com/bluesfuneral/
https://www.instagram.com/blues.funeral/
https://bluesfuneralrecordings.bandcamp.com/
bluesfuneral.com

The Otolith, “Bone Dust”

Dopelord, Reality Dagger (2021)

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The Obelisk Questionnaire: Jadd Shickler of Blues Funeral Recordings, Magnetic Eye Records & Ripple Music, Etc.

Posted in Questionnaire on April 23rd, 2021 by JJ Koczan

jadd shickler

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

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

Thank you for reading and thanks to all who participate.

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Jadd Shickler of Blues Funeral Recordings, et al

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

I own and operate Blues Funeral Recordings, I’m the label director for Magnetic Eye Records, and I’m the label manager for Ripple Music. If I had to define it, I guess I’d say I’m a music industry professional in the independent heavy label world, although “music industry professional” sounds like a title crafted to sound good on LinkedIn. Basically, I work with underground heavy music for independent labels. I also sing for Blue Heron, the band that original Spiritu guitarist Mike Chavez and I started in 2018.

I came to do what I do when my best friend and I started All That’s Heavy, the world’s first online heavy rock mailorder, back in 1997 at the dawn of the internet, as well as launching our record label MeteorCity. We sold All That’s Heavy about 4 years later, and then sold MeteorCity in 2008.

I was a little bit disillusioned and left the industry for about a half dozen years, but started getting slowly drawn back in 2014 or so. I did some writing for The Ripple Effect and The Doom Charts, then finally ended up falling into a role with then one-man label Magnetic Eye Records in 2016. I had a day job at the time, but as my duties with Magnetic Eye expanded, my interest in doing more grew as well.

I got the idea for what would become the PostWax series around that time, and started working on it in the background of my day job and MER work.

In the spring of 2018, a couple things happened: the prospect of releasing a record myself propelled me to create a new label of my own so that I’d have the infrastructure in place for PostWax whenever it was ready. Ironically, the release which motivated that ended up not happening, but I’d already gone through so much of the setup to get this new label (Blues Funeral) off the ground that it inspired me to give it some attention.

Around the same time, I came to realize that I wasn’t super invested in my day job. My boss realized it too, and she started getting really toxic, which is somewhat understandable given what she was paying me while I was sneakily working on Magnetic Eye stuff from the office, but it still soured me on the job.

I finally decided to quit that summer, which I find a bit funny because I’ve been fired from nearly every “real” job I ever had, but for the first time, I took the step of leaving into my own hands, even though it was the best-paying day job I’d ever had by that point. I nearly took a new day job the following month to replace, but in a moment of passion-driven risk and with support from my wife, I decided to pass on it to see if I could try to make an actual living in the music industry for the first time in my life.

We racked up debt for the next year or so, during which time I joined Ripple Music to handle production and a variety of logistical stuff, as well as launching the first PostWax series. In mid-2019, I was able to facilitate the purchase of Magnetic Eye Records by a larger label group, and part of the deal was that they’d keep me on as label director once the buyout took effect. So, after getting my start in the music industry in late 1997, it became my full-time career on January 1st, 2020, and that’s how I got where I am today, running two labels and working for a third, and not having to supplement what I do with having a traditional day job.

Describe your first musical memory.

I’ve got a few and can’t recall which one is first, but it’s one of these two:

jadd hit explosionThe first record I ever asked for and got which wasn’t a kid’s record was a vinyl compilation called Hit Explosion that came out in 1983 from K-Tel. It’s got tracks from Joan Jett, Rush, REO Speedwagon, Rod Stewart, the Steve Miller Band, and Survivor (yes, “Eye of the Tiger.” Hell yes.). I saw TV ads for it and my parents got it for me, and I would play it down in this big den with high ceilings and a red brick floor where the record player was set up on this wide wooden bookcase, and I’d lay in this brown beanbag chair on the floor with light streaming in from the huge sliding glass door and listen to those songs till I knew every word to every song, even the ones I liked less than others. I think it laid the groundwork for me to appreciate compilations and the idea of someone with a certain level of musical intelligence choosing songs from different artists to put together. It was also the first music I ever found for myself, instead of just listening to whatever my parents played. By the way, I still have this record, nearly 40 years later. It’s warped as hell and beat to shit, but it’s still with me.

My other early memory is listening to my Dad’s Neil Diamond records in that same den on that same stereo and record player. When you’re a kid and before you start to develop your own tastes, you just kind of absorb whatever those around you (like your parents) care about, and my God, did my Dad love Neil Diamond. So I was just kind of always around when he’d be listening to various albums and it got in my DNA. This was obviously not the beginning of my love affair with heavy rock, but it does give me a great connection to caring about music a ton from an early age, always having it playing, always spinning records, and listening to albums from start to finish and flipping the sides. I can still visualize that den and that record player and bean bag chair perfectly, better than I can remember a lot of other stuff from the past 20 years, haha.

Describe your best musical memory to date.

It’s impossible for me to pick just one as THE BEST, but here’s one I love: At the end of my sophomore year of high school, so May of 1990, my best friend Aaron and I went to see Motley Crüe on the Dr. Feelgood tour. It was my first concert. I’d never been to a real show before, and going inside after showing our tickets, we emerged from the tunnel at the far end of Tingley Coliseum and looked longways down the huge oblong auditorium. We were up in the area with the seats above the railing because we hadn’t paid for floor tickets (not sure why, maybe they were sold out, or maybe too expensive). So we were standing basically all the way down the other end of the place looking at the stage from about as far away as we could be. Just then, within like 90 seconds of us coming up from the stairwell and trying to decide what to do, we saw a fight erupt down on the floor between a concert-goer and several of the show’s security guys. All the other security people started running toward the fight, and as soon as they did, attendees on the other side of the auditorium started jumping the railing and pouring down onto the floor and running to go mix in with the rest of the crowd. Aaron and I looked at each other, and I don’t remember saying anything, we just jumped the railing and ran straight into the crowd. That was the start of our first concert – a risk of getting our asses kicked by security and a successful upgrade of where we’d see the show. The concert itself is a bit of a blur, but the two highlights I remember are Lita Ford, who was opening the show, playing “Close My Eyes Forever” and having the crowd sing the Ozzy part, which we did, and then Tommy Lee doing a drum solo during Crüe’s set where he rode some kind of suspended cable car drum kit out over the crowd, so he was basically hanging above us doing his solo as we watched from below. I don’t really ever think about Motley Crüe as a musical influence, but that concert was a great musical memory among many many many that I’ve got.

For good measure, another great music memory is when my old band Spiritu toured as an opener with Clutch and Spiritual Beggars in Europe in 2003. We shared the opening slot with Dozer, so every night for three weeks, we played all over Europe, trading the first and second slot with Dozer each night (and then getting to go watch Dozer, which was awesome), and then I would go out into the crowd and watch Clutch DESTROY. As a Clutch fan, getting to travel to dozens of cities across Europe and watch one of the greatest live bands of all time, who also happens to be one of your favorites, who you also happen to be opening for, is just indescribable. The highlight was somewhere in Germany when, during a short pause between songs when the noise briefly dropped, this giant 6′ 6″ dude yelled out, “Like Marlon Brando, but bigger!” in an almost comically-exaggerated German accent, carrying through the whole theater and making Neil and the whole band briefly crack up, then look at each other immediately launch into playing “John Wilkes Booth.” Three weeks of that! Amazing times.

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

Well, I’m not sure if this fits what you’re saying, and it’s going to sound like a sales pitch for PostWax, but it’s not, this actually happened: Maybe two months ago, my creative director Peder (from Lowrider) and I were talking about filling the last couple slots on PostWax, and he mentioned a band to me that basically has an all-star lineup but who I really don’t care for. I’m not going to say who they are because I don’t want to shit on them for those who dig what they do, but PostWax (to me) is about putting together a lineup of bands that at least one of the three of us choosing artists for the project absolutely loves, and never letting our decisions be guided by how big of a name someone is or whether having them on board might help sell the project. So I basically told Peder, if YOU love them, I might consider it, but if not, let’s not do it.

I’d consider this a test of a firm belief because otherwise, why don’t we go try to lure on some huge emo-metal band to join the project just so we can blow out another 2,000 signups? I’d rather pick bands we love that satisfy the ethic of only working with bands at least one of us deeply believes in and loves musically. And by the way, this belief was established quite a few years ago when I was running MeteorCity and put out a couple things that I did mainly based on the idea that they would sell, and not because I thought there were awesome bands. I did that Hermano record, and the Gallery of Mites record, and the Orquesta del Desierto albums, all first and foremost because of the names involved. There were moments on all of them that I enjoyed musically, but I didn’t go into them feeling moved or inspired as a listener, I was thinking of who the musicians were and how their names would get people to check out the records, not about what I thought of the actual music. So yeah, I’ll never do that again, and would much sooner get behind an unknown band with a niche sound and no fans but whose music I love than ever put my money or label name on something that’s coming from a place of, “people will buy this” ever again.

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

Ha, probably to eventually making a record that not a ton of people besides the artist likes. Not trying to be cynical, but if you’re an artist, there are probably two paths: you make music you like and no one ever cares but you’re happy with what you’re doing, OR, you make something that some people like, and that sets an expectation for everything else you’ll ever do, and eventually, whether it’s your next album or your tenth album, you’ll be sick of trying to deliver something that lives up to what everyone else liked and just make a record you dig, and people will be like, “Too bad, I liked his old stuff better.” I think that’s inevitable, but not a bad thing really. You have to progress, even if followers and fans of your art aren’t always willing to stick with you while you go. I mean, if you just try to rehash what’s already been done, they’ll see through that as well and call you on it.

How do you define success?

Thank God you’re asking easy questions.

I’d probably say success is feeling great about what you’re doing. I’m earning less these days than in at least a couple of my previous “career” jobs, but I’m far happier with what I do and thus feel more successful. I know that being able to buy whatever you want, travel wherever you want to go, eat out every night probably feels pretty fantastic too, but I have a hard time imagining being able to do anything I didn’t love or believe in what I was doing in order to reach that point. If I could have that AND do something I feel great about, then awesome. But if they’re mutually exclusive, then for me the road to success will always need to be paved by personal and artistic satisfaction first and foremost.

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

Literally this morning I saw a dead dog, a pit bull, in a dumpster. It was in its crate, which means this was someone’s pet, and regardless of how it died, the idea that someone felt that the way to lay this dog to rest was to pick up the whole crate with the dog inside and drop it into a dumpster on the street is fucking revolting. Some human beings are just slime, and this world loves to remind us of that fact.

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

Well, I’d like to make a record with my band that I want to listen to from end to end without questioning whether it’s good or if I’m being objective or noticing the flaws. This is probably something that’s impossible for any musician, so I’m not holding my breath, but yeah. My old band only recorded and released a few things, so I’m hoping that Blue Heron is able to make a record that I can enjoy without caveats as a listener, and just dig musically and be proud of.

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

I love this question, because I think about this a lot: I think art is the only value humanity actually has. When I think about all the awful shitty things we do to the planet, animals, each other, etc., it’s hard not to wish for a comet to hit the planet and reset everything. But we create art, and that to me is our only saving grace. We transcend our urges and our pettiness and our destructive tendencies and tap into something more meaningful and lasting when we create art, whether that’s music or paintings or books, and if we didn’t do that, I’d have no hope for us whatsoever. So, I guess the specific answer to your question is, the most essential function of art is justifying humanity’s existence. A bit dark, I guess, but how I feel.

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

New Ghostbusters and Top Gun movies, which will probably both suck, but for the moment I’m excited. I know you said non-musical, but I have to say, being able to go to small-club shows again also. And my wife and I will be taking our first trip to Europe together later this year. She’s never been out of the country, and I haven’t been in fourteen years, so I basically haven’t been abroad as a grownup. Can’t wait.

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Spiritu, “Throwback”

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Mammoth Volume Join PostWax Vol. II Lineup with New Album

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 22nd, 2021 by JJ Koczan

Like Josiah before them, Sweden’s Mammoth Volume will return with their first album in more than a decade’s time as part of Blues Funeral Recordings‘ PostWax series. They’re next on my list for liner notes, as it happens. They join the ranks of Acid King, a REZN/Vinnum Sabbathi collaboration, Elephant Tree and Lowrider, and the aforementioned Josiah in taking part in PostWax Vol. II, and in addition to announcing their involvement below, the PR wire also brings word that art is being handled by Johnny Dombrowski and Maarten Donders, who will alternate covers back and forth and collaborate on a piece together as well, which presumably (that is, I don’t know this for sure, but imagine so) will be used as front-piece for the eventual box that will contain all the Vol. II PostWax offerings.

That’s five of the nine PostWax unveilings in the bag, and if you’re not sure whether or not you should be stoked on Mammoth Volume — who first announced their reunion last summer — putting out a new record, I wholeheartedly invite you to dig into 2001’s A Single Book of Songs By… at the bottom of this post. Another pre-social media gem from the turn of the century, it is.

Dig:

mammoth volume

Swedish stoner prog veterans MAMMOTH VOLUME to release new album as part of PostWax Vol. II vinyl subscription series on Blues Funeral Recordings

Swedish stoner prog veterans MAMMOTH VOLUME are confirmed to take part in Blues Funeral Recordings’ anticipated PostWax Vol. II vinyl series by releasing their first album in almost twenty years. Blues Funeral Recordings also present the art team to provide the illustrations and artwork on PostWax Vol. II: heavy music scene stalwart Maarten Donders and award-winning artist Johnny Dombrowski.

In the years between 1998 and 2002, MAMMOTH VOLUME released three albums that each made an increasingly massive impact among the growing worldwide heavy-rock community. With a style that blended an affection for American desert rock but was just as deeply characterized by a passion for 70s prog, jazzy breaks and wistful passages, their quirky take on heavy rock offered an angular yet infectious alternative to the boogie van riffage advanced by so many of the genre’s purveyors.

Re-activated in 2019, MAMMOTH VOLUME will soon return with a new album that’s vibrating with long-bottled-up energy. Drummer and founder Nicklas Andersson says: “Mammoth Volume is back, stronger than ever. It will be incredibly exciting to share our new music with the people for the first time in quite a few years. One thing is certain: this is exactly the record we wanted to make as we return to underground heavy scene, and we’re anxious for everyone to hear it!”

The work of heavy music art veteran Maarten Donders is known for its surreal, experimental, almost dreamlike qualities, and he has provided handmade illustrations, logos, designs and creative direction for countless musicians, bands, record labels, artists, magazines and venues in the music world. His work includes album covers and posters for the likes of Roadburn, Windhand, Monolord, Graveyard and Brant Bjork. Brooklyn-based award-winning illustrator Johnny Dombrowski has produced pieces for The New York Times, Penguin Random House, StudioCanal, GQ, Black Dragon Press and more. Recently, he has ventured into replicating, as closely as possible, the process and aging of pre-digital comic books. What started as an experiment soon turned into an obsession, taking influence over his client work and technique.

These two illustrators will alternate in creating album covers for each of the PostWax Vol. II releases, as well as contributing other elements throughout the process and collaborating on one cover piece, all under the art direction of Peder Bergstrand.

=> Get more info and subscribe to the PostWax Vol. II
AT THIS LOCATION: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/bluesfuneral/postwax-vol-ii

The PostWax series present exclusive limited edition records from some of the best stoner rock, doom and heavy psych bands on the planet. Benefiting from a spectacular success in 2018, PostWax Year One debuted releases to subscribers first, which were subsequently issued in standard retail versions to the public several months later. With Acid King, Josiah, Lowrider, Elephant Tree, REZN and Vinnum Sabbathi already announced, the upcoming PostWax Vol. II series will present 9 deluxe releases on gorgeous vinyl, with each record including at least one exclusive track only available to subscribers, also coming with next-level sleeve design, hand-crafted art and behind-the-scenes liner notes. The first PostWax Vol. II release will be delivered directly to subscribers in the summer of 2021.

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Mammoth Volume, A Single Book of Songs By… (2001)

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PostWax Announces Releases From Lowrider & Elephant Tree and Vinnum Sabbathi with REZN

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 14th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

Year two of the vinyl subscription service PostWax continues to roll out an impressive array of artists. As I write this, I’m about an hour away from hopping on the ol’ teleputer to talk to Mat Bethancourt of Josiah about their offering, and then I guess it’s on to the next one, which actually hasn’t been announced yet, but also rules. I’m hoping to have the liner notes in by the end of the week. Today’s Monday, right? Ha.

Anyhow, including the likes of REZN, Vinnum Sabbathi (a collaboration between the two) and Lowrider and Elephant Tree (a split with an exclusive collaborative track), doesn’t hurt the project’s case any, and at least I know there will be plenty to talk about when it comes time to putting together the liner notes. Like I said when Josiah and the Acid King-plus inclusions were announced, I don’t need to sell you on the thing. Now that four of the total nine offerings have been unveiled, that seems even more to be the case.

From the PR wire:

postwax year two logo

LOWRIDER and ELEPHANT TREE team up to release special split record as part of PostWax Vol. II vinyl series on Blues Funeral Recordings!

Blues Funeral Recordings announce the next colossal pairing of artists to take part in their PostWax Vol. II series, with Swedish stoner rock legends LOWRIDER and London’s most treasured heavy rockers ELEPHANT TREE. This mind-boggling union will give rise to a special split record, with details to be unveiled soon.

Heavy rock icons ELEPHANT TREE, whose 2020 album ‘Habits’ is a decimating blend of organic fuzz-fueled bliss and transcendent vocal hookery, and LOWRIDER, whose unassailable ‘Refractions’ LP blasted across 2020’s heavy music landscape like an extinction-level desert storm and swept top honors for the year throughout the scene, are joining forces for a titanic special release on PostWax.

Each band will produce a trio of new tracks for this unparalleled split record, topped off by a seventh collaborative tune forged exclusively for PostWax — which will only be available to the series subscribers.

Elephant Tree’s Jack Townley gushes: “When we were flanked by Jadd and Peder about serving up a juicy slab of riffage, we were delighted! We’d been massive fans of Lowrider’s chops since we started out as a band, so didn’t skirt around or mince words when we replied “yes!” with gravy on top! We came up with the idea to go whole hog and collab on a track as well, and now here we are. It’s rare these days to find projects as different and exciting as PostWax, and the veritable carvery of bands on board is mouth-watering. Sausage.”

Lowrider’s Peder Bergstrand adds: “Few releases have moved me the way Elephant Tree’s Habits did. My most played track of 2020 was easily “Sails” and honestly I think Elephant Tree in many ways is the most original flavor of heavy rock I’ve heard in ages, and exactly what the scene needs. I love how they weave blissful and mellow with absolute skull crushing heavy for a blend that’s uniquely their own. The idea of doing a split together, and a PostWax exclusive collaborative track at that, has got us enormously stoked. I have a feeling this will be a very, very special album.”

REZN and VINNUM SABBATHI for new PostWax Vol. II series; Kickstarter for subscription signups live now

Blues Funeral Recordings reveal Chicago’s REZN and Mexico City’s VINNUM SABBATHI as the next two bands to take part in the second volume of their PostWax vinyl subscription series, this time for a special collaborative release.

The joining of REZN’s gargantuan heaviness and lysergic dreamscapes with VINNUM SABBATHI’s hypnotic and jammy superscience soundtracks is the exact type of aural mind-meld that PostWax was conceived to present. These two avant-garde outfits will deliver one massive and ground-breaking effort, one that has chance to make an impression among heavy music lovers and beyond.

REZN guitarist Rob McWilliams elaborates: “Our intention is to give this collaboration a solid REZN foundation with Vinnum Sabbathi providing the cosmic textures and atmosphere to align it all under the same sonic storyline. We’ve been talking about doing something together for a little while now, since our bands are a great match sonically and already sync up in a lot of ways. In the end, we’ll have a roasty REZN dish with a decadent Vinnum Sabbathi glaze.”

VINNUM SABBATHI guitarist Juan Tamayo adds: “For us, this collaboration with REZN is very special. From the day we played with them in Mexico, we knew we wanted to create something together, and being able to do it with Blues Funeral for the PostWax series is a great privilege. We can’t wait to make something truly unique by adding a story to the sonic landscapes, and all the fans are in for some cosmic epicness.”

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