StonerKras Fest 2024 Announces Full Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 30th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

I’m never going to claim to be an expert on the visual arts, whether it’s a question of aesthetic or technique. But I know when I see something awesome, and the three-eyed ribbitdragon adorning the poster below for Trieste, Italy’s StonerKras Fest 2024 this July for sure qualifies. The art is by Mirkow Gastow, who’s done other posters and graphics in and around the operating sphere of Heavy Psych Sounds, whose flagship outfit Black Rainbows feature in the third edition of StonerKras‘ lineup, assuring the all-dayer’s cosmic-party quotient will be met before German heavy psychedelic forebears Colour Haze headline as part of their ongoing 30th anniversary celebration in 2024.

Last July’s StonerKras had seven bands on the bill — among them 1000mods and Nick Oliveri‘s Mondo Generator — and Black Mamba Rock Explosion, Savanah and Britof round out the stated-as-full lineup of five for this year, but I wouldn’t be surprised if maybe part of that is to allow for longer set times or changeovers, or just to let the crowd take in some of the merch stands or, you know, get a massage. I can’t remember ever seeing a massage therapist on-grounds at a festival before, but speaking as a human living in a body that’s not getting any younger, I get it. Not all considerations are as timeless or ethereally rad as a three-eyed ribbitdragon. Sometimes your back hurts.

Cool to see this one growing and finding its niche over the last few years. Here’s the announcement:

stonerkras fest 2024 poster sq

STONERKRAS FEST 2024 – III edition

– 13.07.2024 – Prosek-Prosecco (Trieste, ITA) –

FULL LINEUP + TICKETS PRESALE ANNOUNCEMENT

StonerKras is a psychedelic music gathering based on stoner, doom and heavy psych music. The festival has an international footprint but with the aim of enhancing the local heavy scene (both Slovenian and Italian) while attracting spectators from the region but also from neighboring countries. Youth aggregation and cultural exchange accompanied by good music.

The festival will be taking place on Saturday, July 13th in the gorgeous village Prosek-Prosecco near Trieste (Italy).

Today Rocket Panda Management in collaboration with Never In has announced the FULL LINEUP and TICKETS PRESALE for the StonerKras Fest III edition !!!

*** STONERKRAS FEST ***
13.07.2024 – Prosek-Trieste (ITA)

COLOUR HAZE (psychedelic heavy rock, DE)
BLACK RAINBOWS (heavy psych/fuzz rock, ITA – exclusive show for north Italy/Slovenia/Croatia in 2024)
BLACK MAMBA ROCK EXPLOSION (hard rock’n’roll, ITA)
SAVANAH (progressive stoner, AT)
BRITOF (doom/sludge, SLO)
+
AFTERPARTY DJ SET

** FOOD & DRINKS **
** MARKET STANDS **
** RELAX/MASSAGE AREA **
** PSYCHEDELIC LIGHT SHOW **
** FREE AFTERPARTY DJ-SET ***
*** CHILDREN FRIENDLY ***

TICKETS PRESALE: https://biglietteria.ticketpoint-trieste.it/dettaglio-spettacolo.php?negozio_spettacolo_id=841

FB EVENT: https://www.facebook.com/events/810302051013124/

ARTWORK by the one and only Mirkow Gastow: https://linktr.ee/mirkowgastow

https://www.instagram.com/stonerkrasfest/
https://www.facebook.com/StonerKrasFest/

Colour Haze, “Tempel” live in Karlsruhe, DE, Feb. 16, 2024

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Colour Haze Celebrate 30 Years with In Her Garden Remix and More

Posted in Features on March 26th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

The studio adventures of German heavy psychedelia progenitors Colour Haze are manifold and occasionally more than their share of tragic, but as the band celebrate their 30th anniversary throughout 2024, they’re an essential part of the story. Guitarist and vocalist Stefan Koglek, who is the remaining founding member, has been a part of studio builds and teardowns, recorded in basements and bunkers, and been driven enough toward the band determining their own destiny to end up creating the space itself in which he’d long wished to create. You might recall that around the time of 2012’s She Said (review here), Koglek talked about some of the years’ worth of challenges behind that record alone. As it turns out, that circumstance — while particularly gruesome — was not necessarily an isolated incident.

In addition to a CD sale through his mostly-dormant imprint Elektrohasch Schallplatten and sundry live dates — including SonicBlast Fest in Portugal and Bear Stone in Croatia — that will culminate in an anniversary festival of their own at Feierwerk in Munich this Dec. 28 (further details TBA), Koglek has begun overseeing revisits to past Colour Haze albums at a home studio that, at least for now, he’s willing to call ‘done.’ One might think of the 2021 remix of 2003’s Los Sounds de Krauts (reissue review here) as a precursor to this undertaking, but in terms of the place where the work happens, the already-streaming upcoming 2LP remix and remaster of 2017’s In Her Garden (review here) presents an evolved ideology in its approach to volume, and takes ownership of the material in a way that lets it realize new ideas without actually being all that different.

I’ll just say flat out that if you cherish the original as I do — I hope always to remember dancing with my then-baby daughter to the la-la-las later in “Lotus” — there’s nothing on the 2024 In Her Garden that wants to take that away from you. If the notion of an artist going back over prior output makes you nervous, I understand that. I’m pretty sure there are still folks pissed off Star Wars did a second trilogy at the turn of the century, and I’m not out here to try and belittle or discount anyone’s point of view. Particularly for records toward which one might feel a deep connection, that change can be scary. With the original In Her Garden, Colour Haze united the expanse of the aforementioned She Said with the intentional pushback, go-to-ground organic performance-capture of 2015’s To the Highest Gods We Know (review here), found peace and a place in-between those sides that was memorable unto itself in the listening experience, and cast sun-coated evocations which have continued to resonate in the now-seven years since it came out. Their two-to-date LPs since, 2019/2020’s We Are (review here) and 2022’s Sacred (review here), would not have taken shape as they did without In Her Garden‘s progressive foundation.

Below, you’ll find Koglek detailing the process of going back into the recordings of In Her Garden with a perspective less about volume and more about dynamic. Some pieces have been (partially) rearranged, as with the vocals on “Black Lilly” after the intro “Into Her Garden,” or Jan Faszbender‘s solo in “Lavatera,” but the overarching impression of the music remains serene in its varied movements, and the songs come across with more space, more live energy, and as you can hear in the 11-minute “Islands” and across the span, an underlying tonal crunch that proves well worth highlighting. He calls its sound as “brighter” and “more ‘open,'” and these are assessments with which I can only agree as he, then-bassist Philipp Rasthofer, drummer Manfred Merwald, as well as Faszbender and a host of guest contributors including Mario Oberpucher — who’d take over for Rasthofer on bass in 2021 — present this fresh and refreshing take on the original.

This isn’t an interview, and it’s not an in-studio, but Koglek goes deep in terms of laying out the ideas behind 2024’s In Her Garden and what actually went into making a record that was already so teeming with vitality feel even more alive. Keep your eyes on their website, as they’ll reportedly roll out more background on other albums as the occasion arises. I did some light editing on the text below, but in parallel to the record’s new mix itself, no actual meaning has been changed.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy:

colour haze in her garden

Revisiting ‘In Her Garden’ with Stefan Koglek

…In the summer of 2015, my new control room was ready to work. Now I had a luxurious home studio. While I couldn’t foresee the dynamics starting from the choice of a 2” tape machine as a basic recorder, I have to admit I got intrigued by the reemergence of analogue audio gear. A fascinating world I dived into with passion. Would you stick with drawing watercolor on paper just for economic reasons if it’s your dream to make big oil paintings on canvas?

I think the experiences of your life are more precious than any money you could probably save. I wanted to have gear that I really liked, not just what was doing the job. Even if it was just for the reason that you couldn’t blame the gear for making a poor-sounding record.

I was reasonable enough not to buy overpriced classics, instead choosing esoteric stuff with good value for the money. And with an analogue studio you need a lot of stuff.

Also in my new home studio, I was still missing some tools, equalizer channels, etc., to really do everything necessary or that I wanted. It was still not grown up. And though the room was good now, the monitoring still was far from perfect. Though I wasn’t too happy with the performance of my monitor speakers in the room, my attempts to change this didn’t get much going. But it was much better than before, so I tried to get used to it. I couldn’t improve the situation for another five years.

In 2016, we had enough music for a new album but the garage below my control room still wasn’t converted into the recording space it was initially intended to be.

For the ‘In Her Garden’ recordings, we booked a great sounding, huge 1960s studio room in Munich, which was now mainly used as a rehearsal for a symphonic orchestra. We would have brought all our own recording gear. One week before our sessions, the booking was cancelled by the studio owner.

Though I thought it was clear from the beginning we would rent the empty room during the orchestra’s holiday in a lockout deal, he was shocked to find out we wouldn’t just work from nine to five like the orchestra musicians. First he wanted to double the already whopping 800 Euro per-day price for an empty room, then he cancelled the whole deal.

There we stood, holiday already taken. We tried to find a different studio but in the end had to go down again in our rehearsal room. A new place that was formerly a beer cellar for Oktoberfest. It was four floors below ground, 40 sqm, concrete, low ceiling. The lift had just enough room to squeeze in the Telefunken.

We tried to swiftly treat the room acoustically with what was around, and just as everything was set up and ready for soundcheck, the tape machine stopped working. It turned out that a huge surge hit the poor electric system of the building while we were setting up mics (maybe from a crane being shut off from the build of the nearby Oktoberfest).

The Logic-platines of the tape machine were destroyed – and so was the lift. The latter never got repaired again, and in the end we had to carry the 250 kg Telefunken in pieces up four floors on small stairs. We spent the week that was meant for recording on fixing the recorder. But we got ‘In Her Garden’ in the end, despite the difficult circumstance. And the recordings sounded better than what we got from the previous place.

The Remixes:

In 2020, I had to change to a different press for LPs. For some years, the company I was working with since founding Elektrohasch had trouble with quality and when they raised prices three times within two weeks in the 2020 vinyl rush, it was time to go.

The pressing-tools were mine, since I always had my vinyls cut at a different cutting studio. I expected they could simply be sent to the new factory and I could work there. But surprise: most tools arrived damaged at Optimal Media. A part of the stock of work we’d built up over 20 years was gone overnight. I had to deliver new cuts. That meant I had to deliver the master recordings again.

Sometimes this was impossible.

For ‘Los Sounds de Krauts,’ the original digital masters were in poor 16bit 44.1 kHz on CD-R – you wouldn’t use a 15-year-old CD-R as a master! I also thought the mixes could be improved with hindsight and better gear. At least for that I had the original (digital) multitrack recordings, but it took two years to get all the digital files running again. Mind that – just 15 years and your digital memory might be lost already or only retrieved with great effort or cost, even within the very same system: ProTools on a Mac. Meanwhile, I just put the tapes from ‘To The Highest Gods We Know’ on the machine and simply work with them.

Other records are still in stock, some won’t be reprinted anyway.

But when possible I will take the opportunity to remix the rest of our catalogue step by step. Because the sound could be better. It is a lot of work (and actually not paid) but it’s simply a thing I want to do.

With the home studio, I have the possibility and occasion to work on them again. And there are reasons why I think I can get to better results now:

– Over the years, I’ve learned more about mixing. I have a better idea what I’m hearing and how to achieve things.

– My studio finally has proper monitoring. For the first time since ‘All,’ I can really hear what is going on.

– The studio is complete. I do not miss another Equalizer-Channel if I need one. I’m happy with it, got used to what I have and don’t want different or new stuff. I have a tendency to collect things, but thankfully this always ends at some point. I can complete a collection.

– I have no pressure. I can work relaxed at home on the recordings whenever I’m up to it.

– Foremost, it is now finally fun to work in that place.

‘In Her Garden’ is the first record I mixed and mastered with this new situation. The actual changes in the mixing are not that big – it is still the same recordings and the same person working with the same setup on them. But little changes make quite some difference for my ears:

– First of all I learned to take much more care with levels. In the individual tracks, differences in gain settings are subtle to hear, but the dedicated control over all levels throughout the signal chain leads to a less “choked,” more open-sounding result. Though my console has headroom forever I had to learn how different it sounds depending on how you drive it.

– Where for quite some time I kept the ideal of mixing very “dry” without any additional reverberation on the basic tracks, I’m a bit less dogmatic about such things now and I learned to utilize reverberation better.

– I learned how to take greater care of mixing keyboards and vocals…

– Another benefit for the remix was I didn’t feel the pressure to present a new album and also had more distance to the music and therefore maybe a clearer view – remixing ‘In Her Garden’ was pretty relaxed and happened over the course of seven months.

For my ears all this results in a more “open,” pleasant and relaxed sound. The record is more dynamic and sounds brighter and fuller, even though the equalizer settings actually haven’t changed much. It’s just a bit more on-spot here and there, so the individual signals integrate better.

What was changed on the material? Not much, just in:

– “Black Lilly”: I was never satisfied with how the vocals worked. I had this melody, an idea of the vocal line, but had trouble performing it. That’s part of why we don’t play this song live; I simply can’t sing it well enough in the original key. But the basic track was the best I could achieve. I mixed it much better now so it is not rolling up my toenails anymore. And I added a new lower background voice to help the basic track. I actually like the vocals in this song pretty much now.

– “Lavatera“ – for ‘In Her Garden,’ I had originally hired Jan as a session musician, which led to expanding Colour Haze to a quartet later. The original organ tracks were a swift improvisation. As “Lavatera” was part of the live set for a couple of years, Jan developed a synthesizer solo that fit the song better. I wanted to integrate this solo also, to create a bridge within the record to Jan being a member of the band now.

Another difference is the mastering.

I’m first generation home-computer, and with all the changes since the ‘80s, I’ve experienced digital memory as shortlived and ever-changing. If you’re reading this and you record anything, ever, mind the trouble we had recreating the ‘Los Sounds de Krauts’ data. From an artistic point of view, a physical copy is still the form that should present the results of our efforts.

We got accustomed to so many things, and until ‘In Her Garden’, I had the idea that the digital master was better with a certain amount of loudness. This by far was not as gruesome as during the early 2000s, but as close as possible to the technical limits of digital audio.

Well, one could imagine it simply is not good to drive anything as far as possible to the technical limits. And though mastering engineers might tell you otherwise, my notion is that limiters (tools that cut off signal peaks so the program can be shifted closer to the limit) never do nice things to audio. They limit.

For [remixing] ‘In Her Garden,’ I forgot all considerations of making it loud. It doesn’t matter for the actual result on vinyl anyway. For or me it sounds less “choked” than everything we did before. Only time will tell if this is a better way.

The recording and mix are analogue. I mixdown to 1/4” stereo tape. From there, mastering is basically the translation to digital, but the tools for it are still analogue – a Hi-End valve equalizer to shape the frequency and a Hi-End valve compressor for some dynamic shaping, to “open up” the dynamics rather than to “squeeze” them together. From there it is converted to digital.

This time I didn’t try anymore to get as loud as possible into the digital domain. I accepted the sonically ideal point of the electronics of my mastering converter (if you need to know, I use a Forssell Mada 2a). And the result after mastering 13 songs every now and then over the course of six weeks with all the songs fitting together in loudness and appearance tells me I’m not totally wrong.

For the vinyl cut I changed from DMM to “half-speed lacquer cut”. The digital files are only half as loud now, but I think it sounds better. You have the volume control – use it! :)

Colour Haze, In Her Garden (2024 remix/remaster)

Colour Haze website

Colour Haze on Facebook

Colour Haze on Instagram

Elektrohasch Schallplatten website

Elektrohasch Schallplatten on Facebook

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SonicBlast Fest 2024 Makes First Lineup Announcement

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 20th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Man, you ever feel like you’re crawling to the finish line? I’m doing news catchup the next couple days, and this announcement from SonicBlast Fest came out like last weekend or some such with a first round of lineup adds for the Aug. 2024 edition of the Portuguese heavy festival — it’s the 12th one — and as I sit here with my e’er expanding ass sinking e’er deeper into the couch I feel about as far removed as I could from, let’s say, the glorious nighttime walk across the beach in Âncora that I was lucky enough to be born to eventually undertake after a night at SonicBlast earlier this year.

Not only was it my first time in Portugal and Iberia, period, but I met people I never thought I’d get to meet, saw old friends and made new ones, and for a few days pretty much lived the festival ideal. You get there, see sets, go back, write, drink all the coffee, take pictures, write more, write more, eventually collapse from fatigue, then go home with a rejuvenated spirit. You know, fest life.

Submitted for your daydreams is the initial billing for SonicBlast Fest 2024, with the heavy, stoner, psych and punk and hardcore sides of the festival represented and a solid punch of names with Graveyard, Brant Bjork Trio, 1000mods and Truckfighters. Think this means Deathchant and Sacri Monti will tour Europe together? I do. Think it means Sacri Monti‘s album will be out by then? I hope so. Deathchant, who also played this year, are awesome, by the way.

Here’s news. Tickets are on sale already:

sonicblast fest 2024 first poster

SONICBLAST FEST ’24 – Aug. 8-10

It’s getting hard to breathe… We’re so proud to announce the first bands for SonicBlast Fest’s 12th edition!! Viagra Boys, Graveyard, Wine Lips, Brant Bjork Trio, Sunami, Colour Haze, Home Front, Truckfighters, Poison Ruin, 1000mods, Sacri Monti, Maruja, Deathchant and Máquina will join us at the craziest heavy psychedelic weekend by the ocean ⚡🌊☀️

*** more to be announced soon ***

🔥 Full festival tickets are already on sale at BOL (Fnac, Worten, Ctt…), at https://garboyl.bol.pt/ and at https://www.masqueticket.com/entradas/sonicblast-fest-2024

Artwork by Branca Studio

https://www.facebook.com/sonicblastmoledo/
https://www.instagram.com/sonicblast_fest
https://sonicblastfestival.com/

Colour Haze, Sacred (2022)

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Bear Stone Festival 2024 Makes First Lineup Announcement

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 23rd, 2023 by JJ Koczan

bear stone festival 2024 banner

There’s more here than I knew was coming, which is cool. High on Fire are the first announced headliner for Bear Stone Festival 2024, to be held next July across four days and three stages. Big, in other words. Or getting bigger, anyhow. I’d imagine that some of the acts listed here who are Croatian-native — Jantar, Tight Grips, Rens Argoa, A Gram Trip, Vukojarac, etc. — will feature on the newly-added third stage, and since I’ll be in attendance for this one (I don’t have the flight/lodging booked yet, but I’ve been invited and said yes and it’s okay with my wife, so I’m going) I look forward to finding out more about the country’s hometeam underground. Having the likes of Colour Haze, GnomePigsx7Mother Vulture and more to fill out the bill is huge, and if it seems like a lot, it’s half the fest. They say there’s one more announcement coming.

What they don’t say is when, but when I hear something I’ll let you know, and while I’ve got your attention, I’d like to thank Bear Stone for the invitation to attend their incredible-looking festival. I have high hopes for both the experience and the music, and I expect both to be exceeded. If you’d like to know more about the bands, there’s a Spotify playlist at the bottom of this post. Bear Stone made you a mixtape.

Here’s info from the PR wire:

Bear stone festival 2024 poster

First Lineup Announcement For Bear Stone Festival 2024

Here it is, the first half of Bear Stone Festival 2024 lineup. As we have previously announced, Bear Stone Festival 2024 will have 28 bands spread throughout 3 stages over 4 days of the festival.

We would also like to announce that Early Bear festival tickets are now on sale! At the end of this email you will find the button that will lead you to the Entrio ticketing site.

Check out our poster below to discover the first 14 bands of Bear Stone Festival 2024.

HIGH ON FIRE (USA)

Prepare for an electrifying experience as the legendary High On Fire take hold of Bear Stone Festival’s main stage! Marvel at the unforgettable sonic journey filled with their signature blend of heavy riffs and powerful vocals.

Witness their seismic performance and join us in an epic night of Metal mastery!

COLOUR HAZE (DE)

Following their sensational Bear Stone Festival Warm-Up club show in Zagreb, we are thrilled to announce that the mesmerising Colour Haze will be gracing our festival stage for the very first time!

Get ready for an unparalleled fusion of Psychedelic Rock and intricate melodies that will transport you to new sonic dimensions. Don’t miss this chance to experience the captivating artistry of Colour Haze in the vibrant atmosphere of Bear Stone Festival.

PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS (UK)

Allow yourself to be ensnared by the mighty presence of Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs as they summon the very essence of Doom Metal overlaid with their distinctive blend of Psychedelic Rock and Heavy Metal. Let the walls of sound crafted in the fumes of Black Sabbath, Electric Wizard and Sleep wash over you, as they embody heaviness itself.

Witness their unparalleled display of distortion, unveiling the exhilarating saga that is Land of Sleeper and encapsulate the heart and soul of the genre in an electrifying performance!

MOTHER VULTURE (UK)

After their electrifying performance at Bear Stone Festival Year Zero edition in 2022, Bristol’s very own Mother Vulture are back by popular demand! Gaze at their adrenaline-fueled spectacle as they once again shock us with their unique energy and raw Rock prowess.

Get ready to be blown away by the powerhouse performance of Mother Vulture at Bear Stone Festival 2024.

GNOME (BE)

Do you feel like your life is missing more songs about gnomes that are oppressed by their evil king? Belgian band Gnome will take care of that and more with an enchanting performance soaked in their signature blend of Progressive and Stoner Rock, accompanied by their already legendary gnome attire.

NEMEČEK (CRO)

Immerse yourself in the raw, intense sounds of Croatian band Nemeček as they mesmerize Bear Stone Festival with their powerful blend of folk-inspired music marked by its fierce and darkly evocative tones.

BARON CRÂNE (FR)

Baron Crâne are a Paris-based instrumental trio known for their dynamic fusion of psychedelic, progressive, and experimental sounds that shape an immersive musical journey filled with powerful riffs and a blend of diverse influences.

SLOWTORCH (ITA)

Channeling an explosive blend of Clutch’s fervour, Black Sabbath’s heaviness, and Corrosion of Conformity’s raw energy, Italian heavy rockers Slowtorch deliver an incendiary onslaught of relentless, riff-driven soundscapes, marked by their fiery intensity and hard-hitting musical prowess.

JANTAR (CRO)

Jantar are a Post-Metal/Prog Rock band from Zagreb, formed after the dissolution of Pink Fairy Armadillo. They are set on delivering a sound that delves deep into irregular rhythms, dissonant tones, and overlapping layers of analog synths.

RENS ARGOA (CRO)

Wonder at the genre-defying musical experience with the instrumental trio Rens Argoa, whose passion for rhythmic riffs and melodies has inspired them to blend together elements of Jazz, orchestral music, Prog Rock, and Punk all across their four albums.

QUIET CONFUSION (ITA)

Join us in welcoming the dynamic Rock’n’Roll/Psychedelic/Heavy-Blues band Quiet Confusion from Verona, Italy, best known for their electric performances and distinctive 70’s-style Stoner Rock vibes showcased in their latest album “Magella”.

TIGHT GRIPS (CRO)

Tight Grips are an explosive and experimental Croatian Rock trio with an evolving sound which infuses mono-synth, Blues, and Grunge elements. They captivate audiences across festivals and regional tours and are currently gearing up for the release of their highly anticipated third album “Jewels”, set for release in autumn 2023.

VUKOJARAC (CRO)

Vukojarac, the dark embodiment of chaos and despair, emanates an otherworldly power that beckons followers into an abyss of maniacal madness. It is driven by its unstoppable desire to spread The Riff and plunge humanity into the void.

A GRAM TRIP (CRO)

Hailing from Zagreb, Croatia, this four-piece band fuels their sound with fuzz-driven intensity, intertwining mantric Doom riffs, Sludge vocals, and intermittent Stoner melodies. They are carving out their unique path across the trifecta of these genres, best exemplified in their debut album “Long Overdue” released in May 2023.

You can listen to our favourite songs from all these bands by clicking on the button below!

https://www.instagram.com/bearstonefestival
https://www.facebook.com/bearstonefestival
http://www.bearstonefestival.com

Bear Stone Festival 2024 Spotify Playlist

Bear Stone Festival 2023 Aftermovie

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Video Interview: Stefan Koglek of Colour Haze on Playing Desertfest New York, Touring North & South America, Sacred & More

Posted in Bootleg Theater, Features on October 13th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Colour Haze 4 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Last month, amid the merciful waning of humid summer on the northeastern seaboard, German heavy psychedelic rock institution Colour Haze traveled to play their first American shows in 17 years at Desertfest New York. They would perform two sets in Brooklyn as part of the festival, an initially-booked headlining slot at the pre-show at Saint Vitus Bar (review here) leading to the addition of a second set for the first night of the fest-proper at the Knockdown Center (review here).

Perhaps for the band’s fans in Europe it might be difficult to appreciate how much of an event this was. Sure, last weekend in their hometown of Munich they played an annual set at the Keep it Low Festival put on by Sound of Liberation, and they’ve got more tour dates lined up for next month that you can see below. Meanwhile, the last time they were in the US was 2006’s Emissions From the Monolith Festival in Youngstown, Ohio, and while I don’t mind telling you that evening changed my life for the better, The Nyabinghi where it happened, was more of an outpost than a scene for a grand entrance for a generational band on new geographic ground. They were brilliant, either way.

Is an American underground ready for Colour Haze? Desertfest sure was. I spoke to several heads in the crowd on both nights who’d been waiting a decade or longer for the chance to see them, and I get it. While their sound is as immersive onstage as it is on record, seeing them actually making that happen is a bit believing it. In the video interview that follows here, Koglek makes some comparison to a jazz band, and there is definitely that element of the crowd watching Colour HazeKoglek, bassist Mario Oberpucher, keyboardist Jan Faszbender and drummer Mani Merwald — to try to understand how it’s done. To learn. You hear about that a lot with the bop era of jazz acts and players. When you’re on the presence of masters, it’s worth paying attention.

The conversation covers a pretty broad range of topics, from NY, to remixing old albums before the tapes decay to the potential of their return to the US for more touring — yes, touring — in 2024, and so on. It was not at all the first time we’ve spoken over the years, but a new format for it to happen. It’s not a short chat, and I treat posting unedited interviews as a moral position, so if you’re gonna dig in, take your time. You also get to see the Colour Haze Studio where at least part of their recording process (as well as the mix/mastering, generally) happens, so that’s a bonus as well. Yes, the tape machine is apparently as heavy as it looks.

I could go on here about the importance of the band, their influence, the possibility of their touring in North America in addition to their already-confirmed South American dates and whatever, but you’ve got enough on your plate. If you dig in, please enjoy, and either way, thanks for reading:

Colour Haze Interview with Stefan Koglek, Oct. 10, 2023

Colour Haze‘s Sacred is out now through Elektrohasch Schallplatten. Following their performance at Keep it Low, the remaining dates for their Fall tour are as follows:

21.10. – (DE) Ludwigsburg – Scala Ludwigsburg
04.11. – (DE) Weiden – Burn the Streets Festival Vol. 1
10.11. – (DE) Dortmund – JunkYard • Dortmund
11.11. – (NL) Maastricht – Muziekgieterij
12.11.- (NL) Deventer – Burgerweeshuis
14.11. – (DE) Bielefeld – Forum Bielefeld
15.11. – (BE) Brussels – Le Botanique
16.11. – (FR) Paris – Backstage By The Mill Garmonbozia Inc.
17.11. – (FR) Vallet – WESTILL VIIème édition
18.11. – (DE) Neunkirchen – Gloomaar Festival 2023

Colour Haze, Sacred (2023)

Colour Haze website

Colour Haze on Facebook

Colour Haze on Instagram

Elektrohasch Schallplatten website

Elektrohasch Schallplatten on Facebook

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Notes From Desertfest New York Night One, 09.15.23

Posted in Features, Reviews on September 16th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

R.I.P. 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

09.15.23 – Friday – Knockdown Center – Before show

Okay, I can admit it’s weird. Not through anything the festival has done, beyond perhaps existing, which I firmly believe is a positive thing, but for me personally, it’s a weird process. The last couple years, I’ve had a much easier time making it to festivals than club shows, and it’s been easier to travel than see something local. The way my schedule and life are arranged right now — bed early, up early to write and begin the day’s domestic whathaveyou — it’s nearly impossible for me to ‘get out to a show.’ It’s a significant rearrangement of multiple lives to make it happen.

My solution has been, every so often, to go to a festival, and I’ve been lucky to travel these last couple years, whether it’s to Germany, Sweden, Norway, Portugal, even Las Vegas. That pulls me out of the norm. I’m on my own. I don’t have to worry about the house, or anyone else’s schedule other than the bands. I’m removed from ‘real life.’ Not so with Desertfest New York.

This is the only festival I’ve been to in the last 15 years-plus where the travel involved is a commute. I spent two hours in traffic last night to get to Vitus. And more than an hour home because why wouldn’t there be dead-stop gridlock at midnight on a Thursday? It’s another layer — something else to worry about — that I feel when I’m here. It was true last year to some extent, but the sheer novelty of being out of the house in May 2022 made up some ground in terms of the overall experience. A big emotional high.

And again, it’s not about the fest. It’s about where I live. Just far enough out to be a pain in the ass. And if you’ve ever been to New York, especially driving, you know the city doesn’t exactly work to make it easy, or remotely pleasant. I’m not trying to complain about some shit — Desertfest has taken great care of me once again and The Patient Mrs. has uprooted herself and our kid on my behalf for the weekend; she even drove to and from the pre-show — it’s just a part of the experience I’m not used to. It’s weird to think about running the dishwasher after you get home from Colour Haze playing one of the best shows you’ve ever seen at the Saint Vitus Bar. It’s weird that the last thing I did before I left the house to come here was change over the laundry.

It’s weird. I’m weird too.

Two-dayer fests rule and here’s how night one of two went down:

SpellBook

SpellBook 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Pennsylvania cultists, doomers, a little bit glammers SpellBook had the bonus factor of having added Greg Diener of Pale Divine on guitar, which is never going to hurt you when it comes to doom riffs. It’s only been a couple months since he started with the five-piece, whose second album under the name — they used to be called Witch Hazel — Deadly Charms, came out last year. They played the title-track from it after “The Witch of Ridley Creek,” the joke there being that initially-cape-clad frontman introduced the first by saying “This next song is about a witch,” then saying the same thing before they played “Deadly Charms.” I missed that record but might pick up a CD if those exist as the swing of that hook sat right, and in the name of good times generally. Funny, before they went on, bassist Seibert Lowe came up and said hi, it’s been a while, etc. Curious, I looked it up. Saw Witch Hazel in 2015 at a fest in Maryland. Yeah, it’s probably been long enough.

Valley of the Sun

Reliability be thy name. Ohio’s Valley of the Sun were in Europe this Spring to do Desertfest Berlin and London, Esbjerg Fuzztival, etc., and a tour around that. Last year, they played the pre-show at Vitus (review here), wrecked it gloriously, and I’m not trying to toot my own horn when I say I knew they’d do the same on the main stage here at the Knockdown Center, but yeah, I had a pretty good idea of what was coming. They’ve been touring basically since before they put out The Chariot (review here) last year, and they absolutely sounded like it. Set was tight, pro, fun, and could’ve been delivered to 15 people at 1PM (there were many more there, and it was later, I’m just making a point) or 10,000 at midnight, I honestly don’t think it would matter. They did their set, their way, their presence bolstered by the unshakeable quality of their craft and the fact that even as veterans however many years later — 12 since the EP, I think? — they continue to look like they’re having fun. And goodness gracious, maybe they are.

Grave Bathers

Dark, moody, urbane heavy rock, with members of Yatra — who played last year — and Heavy Temple, who play tonight. Don’t doubt Philly is where it’s at. They’ve got a whole generation of up and coming bands and I’ll add Grave Bathers to the list. I didn’t hear last year’s debut, Rock ‘n Roll Fetish, so didn’t know the songs, but their delivery was right on as they put that fetish to good use. They were brash, maybe a little druggy — more pills/coke than weed — and seemed in the process of solidifying their approach, which, yes, means it was exciting set to watch.

1000mods

Long drone before they went on. Like 10 minutes. Fair enough, I guess. But it was riffs freshly rolled once they got going, their traditionalism for desert rock very clearly familiar to the crowd on hand, and they were pretty fresh in my mind as well since they reissued their full-length discography ahead of coming to the US to play. They’ve also got socks at the merch table, which is knowing your market, I suppose. They’re probably the most successful heavy rock export from Greece to-date, and their groove answers any and all questions why. Newer material or old, they’ve always managed to find the tempo just right for their riffs. Last time I saw them was a decade ago at The Black Heart in London (review here) and they were killer then, so I knew a bit of what was in store, but the long drone became transitional ambience, and it was interesting to hear the maturity of 2020’s Youth of Dissent (review here) come through in their approach there, but you can’t beat the raw mellow nod of “Vidage.” The very sound of everything cool about this music and probably some stuff that’s only cool because 1000mods made it that way. Definitely need to buy some socks before the night is done.

Castle Rat

I had not yet seen Brooklyn trad metal/doom-adjacent troupe Castle Rat. It’s a particular aspect of New York that might make one feel late to the party before a band has a record out, but the room knew what was up, and the band put on a theatrical display of intermittently sexualized horror that included a bassist in a plague mask, a vampire guitarist, some kind of forest spirit on drums, the storyteller herself up front, a couple druids parked outside the room as greeters. Cool vibe, though I wonder about how it would/will work on an album, but maybe they don’t need to put out an album, though when they signed to King Volume Records in July, word was an LP in 2024. Either way, they’re young and in shape, and thus marketable, in addition to all that rocking and metal-of-eld. They had the room wrapt, and yeah, the evening is getting on and progressively less lucid, so maybe some staring anyway from the crowd, but they put on a show, rather than playing a set, and today or tomorrow there’s not another band playing this weekend doing the same kind of thing, let alone doing it so well, so I’ll take the win. I may never feel like Johnny Groundfloor on Castle Rat, but at least I can say I’ve seen them now. Which I suppose makes the fact that they killed a bonus.

Windhand

I didn’t know this prior to looking it up — yes, sometimes it is handy to have an archive of nearly every show you’ve seen for the last however many years — but the last time I saw Windhand was at The Well for Desertfest NYC 2019 (review here). That place was cool, wouldn’t say a word against it, but DFNY works well at Knockdown Center and being inside for the most part — an outdoor third stage opens tomorrow — allows some seasonal/weather flexibility. As for Windhand, well, their most recent LP, Eternal Return (review here), turns five this year and vocalist Dorthia Cottrell — who’s doing a solo show tomorrow on the aforementioned third stage — put her new solo album, Death Folk Country (review here), on Relapse, to which Windhand are also signed for over a decade, and earlier this year they reissued their 2012 self-titled debut (review herediscussed here), did the Heavy Psych Sounds Fests in California, and it’s kind of the personality of the band that they’re there when called upon. In this case, it was Truckfighters canceling that brought them here, and they did the job they were brought in to do. Slowest band of the day, easily, and the most miserable of the weekend this far. Murkiest sound anywhere. Like an out of focus photograph from the 19th century.

Heavy Temple

Oooh, Heavy Temple’s got new songs. And a new guitarist, who just happens to be Christian Lopez, also of Sun Voyager. High Priestess Nighthawk, Lopez and drummer Will “Baron Lycan” Mellor took to the stage with the door closed into the second room and then about a minute before they went on, the door opened and everyone came in at once and then they started and that was that. But jeez, put out a record. What’s the holdup? Your drummer is an engineer! Granted, it’s only been two years since Lupi Amoris (review here), but they’re about to go tour Europe for the first time with Howling Giant — whose new album is stellar, I had it on in the car on the way here — and taking a new release along doesn’t seem like the worst idea. Hell do I know. Once the door was open, the room packed out immediately, and not even a Colour Haze line check could bring the crowd out from the Texas stage. I don’t know when I last saw Heavy Temple, and at this point in the day I’m too tired to look, but they delivered like a band who has way more to their credit than two EPs, an LP and some other odds and ends — a notably righteous Type O Negative cover among them — and I was only happy to see them again and to hear some new material. The sooner the better on Heavy Temple’s sophomore LP.

Colour Haze

Loud whispers of “shh!” to people talking during the quiet parts. The keys seemed more prominent in the mix, but I stood right in front of the stage last night for the whole set, so who the hell knows what I was hearing or not. The flexibility of a photo pit means I can move around a bit and, say, go to the bathroom or get a drink of water. Crazy shit like that. Most of Colour Haze Night Two — it really is a shame they’re not doing a third set tomorrow — artists-in-residence! pick any album you want out of the catalog and I’ll be more than happy to watch them play it in full — was instrumental, and I had been planning to go see R.I.P., from Portland, also quite far, but life doesn’t always afford you opportunities to see your favorite bands, and life is short and most of it is very, very difficult, so yeah, I stayed put. It was really difficult to think that Colour Haze might be playing in the building somewhere and I wouldn’t be there. So I put myself there and, as I occasionally remember to do, just enjoyed a thing for a couple minutes. On the whole, it was a more laid back set than last night’s at Vitus. They played “Transformation.” It was beautiful. I love the way it skips before it runs straight out and gets fast at the end. I hadn’t eaten since the morning and it was nearly 10PM. The Patient Mrs. texting to tell me to be careful on the way home. An infinity of distractions. But nah, just let me have this one for a minute. They closed with “Tempel” as someone yelled out “what a time to be alive!” No argument.

Quick note: I did go check out R.I.P. after Colour Haze finished. The second stage was packed, they were shredding oldschool-style dirt metal to the delight of all present. The pic at the top of this post is the room when they played.

Monster Magnet

Time marches forward and Monster Magnet remain a salve against bullshit in rock and roll. Of all the bands to close out the night, the stalwart outfit from my beloved Garden State are legends in the field, and founding frontman Dave Wyndorf was simultaneously out of his mind and in command of the show, which I think is how you get to be that dude. I had thought guitarist Garrett Sweeny (also The Atomic Bitchwax) was out of the band, but no. He had stage right while longtime collaborator Phil Caivano — who just put out a solo record; the band is called Caivano — had the other side, drummer Bob Pantella (also also The Atomic Bitchwax, ex-Raging Slab, RiotGod, and so on) was up on a riser in back and the bassist Alec Morton, also ex-Raging Slab [thank you Amanda Vogel for that], hung back with a Rickenbacker that both looked and sounded awfully nice. Original band member Tim Cronin was doing lights, as he reportedly will according to a seven-year planetary cycle. We’ve been back and forth online and I’ve covered his band The Ribeye Brothers a bunch because they’re cool, but we never met in person, so that was awesome earlier in the day. Monster Magnet opening with the Hawkwind cover “Born to Go” was also rather sweet. “Superjudge,” “Powertrip,” “Dopes to Infinity,” “Tractor,” “Mastermind” tucked away in the encore. Even as a headliner, Monster Magnet would have a hard time putting together a full career-retrospective set. I got to see then play “Negasonic Teenage Warhead” tonight, though, and that’s plenty. Pro-shop rock band, one of heavy rock’s all-time great frontmen tossing out middle fingers like they’re free samples at Costco, and all was well and the strobe flashed and the fan blew and the band tore Knockdown Center a new ass — but they did it in space, so it’s even cooler — and reminded everybody there which coast really invented stoner rock.

More pics after the jump. Thanks for reading.

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Live Review: Desertfest NYC 2023 Pre-Show at Saint Vitus Bar

Posted in Features, Reviews on September 15th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Desertfest NYC 2023 schedule

09.14.23 – Thursday – Saint Vitus Bar – Before show

A somewhat harried process getting to Brooklyn. Satnav calls it more than the usual traffic on the route, but I did it yesterday too and this evening was about right. An infinity of vehicles, all trying to squeeze into the same stupid tubes to get somewhere.

Tonight is the Desertfest New York 2023 pre-show at the Saint Vitus Bar, and the four-band bill — Sonic Taboo, Lo-Pan, Duel and Colour Haze — is a suitable precursor to the two full fest days to come. It’s not packed yet, but I expect it will be. There’s an awful lot of adventure that’s going to happen between now and Saturday night.

I’ll do my best to keep up as much as possible, and if you’re reading this or anything that comes out in the next couple days, thank you.

Here we go:

Sonic Taboo

Sonic Taboo 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

By the skin of my earplugs, I made it to see New York’s Sonic Taboo, and the instrumental trio were already rolling out steady nod by the time I made it to the back to watch them. In medias res as it was, and out of my fucking mind as I was to be late, I won’t say I was in the headspace yet, but I did my best, saying a couple quick hellos while trying to position my brain in the moment. Sonic Taboo, who are apparently motorcycle aficionados, were conducive to digging in but not too elaborate or complex to give up the paramount roll. I wasn’t egregiously late, at least not in reality, but it was enough to throw me off. Missed three songs or so, which was about half the set. Lesson learned, about checking out Sonic Taboo, if not about leaving earlier, which I also should’ve done. But they sounded cool and were selling vinyl, so perhaps a Bandcamp perusal is in order. The pre-show here last year did right with Druids, and 2023 easing into the evening with Sonic Taboo’s palette-cleansing riffery worked well along similar lines conceptually, if not with the same sound.

Duel

Duel (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Next week they’ll be at Ripplefest Texas in their native Austin. Next month they head back to Europe for another go there that also includes a Desertfest — in Antwerp — and I don’t know what’s up after that, but it’s Duel, so chances are it’s something. They put out Live at Hellfest (review here) earlier this year, and between that and having seen them the couple times I have at this point, including twice last summer, I feel reasonably comfortable with high expectations when it comes to their live show. They are, and have been, a rager, and they just go and go and go. Also rip. “Children of the Fire” is always a highlight, and I’ll put “Fears of the Dead” right up there with it in terms of this-is-a-chorus-you-want-to-dude-shout-along-with, but fresh off a plane as they were and maybe haggard for that, Duel only benefitted from the wild-eyed madness of improper sleep cycles, and the crazier they were the crazier the shit sounded and the more everybody went nuts. Total win. Nice when you know you’re getting something awesome and then you do. They fucking went on early. That’s who they are.

Lo-Pan

Jeff up front? It’s just crazy enough to work! It’s been just over four years since I last saw Lo-Pan, that long as well since they put out their most recent studio album, Subtle (review here), and that feels like too much time by at least half. To wit, at some point, Jeff moved out front. I stood over by bassist Scott Thompson, which meant that the low end was basically eating me alive, but hell, I’ve been down that road with Lo-Pan before, and you’re not going to hear me complain. To think of it, there is no wrong place to stand. If you’re over by Chris Thompson’s guitar, you’re not wrong. I sure as crap wasn’t wrong where I was, and if you’re up the middle you’ve got Jesse Bartz’s kick drum punching you in the face — or kicking — and Jeff Martin’s vocals cutting through, all soulful glissando and whatnot. So yes, they destroyed. Like Duel, it took them a song or two to warm up, but they locked it down quickly and it turns out they were fucking Lo-Pan and they destroy so that’s what they did. “El Dorado.” “Sage.” “Go West” and “Ascension Day.” They always seem to mix it up, but they hit it hard across the whole set and were a blast to see after some tumultuous years. One of those bands you miss after a while.

Colour Haze

Magic. A guy named John came up to me before Colour Haze went on to tell me I’d introduced him to the band. I heard that a couple times by the end of the night. That was a trip, though not nearly as much so as the set itself. The headline is they played “Peace, Brothers and Sisters!,” the 22-minute forge in which much of the genre of heavy psych was cast. That and the shorter-but-no-less-epic “Love” from the Munich outfit’s landmark 2004 self-titled LP (discussed here) closed out the night, but more recent stuff like the title-track of 2019’s We Are (review here) or “Ideologigi” from last year’s Sacred (review here) was definitely welcome too after they led off with “Turquoise” and “Goldmine.” The room was electric, before, during and after the set. Between songs, the shouts of “thank you!” and “you’re so good” made people laugh and the joy of the set was felt all the more as the band met that energy in their performance, keyboardist/organist Jan Faszbender tight on the Vitus Bar stage behind founding guitarist/vocalist Stefan Koglek on the left side while Mani Merwald — who might be one of the best drummers I’ve ever seen play, and I’ve seen a few at this point in my life — and bassist Mario Oberpucher held down stage right, the latter a quiet presence but a resounding fit with the band’s four-piece dynamic. “Peace, Brothers and Sisters!” ended noisy, as one would hope, and the unexpected addition of “Love” made my night, no shit. I was likely in a minority of people there who’d seen the band before, but even if this wasn’t my first experience with Colour Haze, in another incarnation or in this one — I was lucky enough to catch them last December in Stockholm — the fact that it was something special was inescapable, and as somebody who was there the last time Colour Haze came to the US, which was in 2006 for Emissions From the Monolith 8 in Youngstown, Ohio, I’ll say their sound has only grown richer since then. They’re playing the Main Stage of the first night of the festival-proper, so this won’t be the last word about them, but I have the feeling that, if you were there for this, you’re going to remember it for a long time to come. I am, anyhow.

More pics after the jump.

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Colour Haze Announce Fall Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 12th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Colour Haze will be at Stoned From the Underground and Woodstockenboi Musik und Kulturfestival this weekend and have more fest appearances before they come to the US to play twice at Desertfest New York in September, after which they’ll return to Germany to make their regular appearance at Keep it Low in their hometown of Munich. There’s more beyond that as well leading up to this newly-announced November tour, which puts them out for nine shows in nine days across four-so-far countries (one date still TBA). All well and good. I’m just happy I’ll get to watch them play again when they come to New York.

Their late 2022 album, Sacred (review here), continues to resonate, and having seen them in their current incarnation for the first time this past December (review here), it’s all the more encouraging that they’re getting out like this. I don’t know that they’ll ever want to do six weeks of shows or something on that scale, but the more the merrier. Note that there have not been more US dates announced. I don’t think any others are coming. If you’ve been on the fence about Desertfest, I would offer the friendly suggestion to decide in the positive. Seeing Colour Haze will only improve your life.

From socials:

Colour Haze fall tour

Some new shows added for 2023 –
France, Belgium, Germany and Netherlands!

14.07. – (DE) Erfurt – Stoned From The Underground 2023
15.07. – (AT) Stockenboi – Woodstockenboi Musik und Kulturfestival
05.08. – (GR) Los Almiros Rockradio – Festival
18.08. – (FR) Volcano Sessions – Black Owl
08.09. – (DE) Regensburg – Kulturzentrum Alte Mälzerei
09.09. – (AT) Vöcklabruck – OKH Vöcklabruck
14.09. – (USA) New York – Desert Fest PreParty
15.09. – (USA) New York – Desertfest NYC
06.10. – (DE) München, Backstage – Keep It Low 2023
21.10. – (DE) Ludwigsburg – Scala Ludwigsburg
04.11. – (DE) Weiden – Burn the Streets Festival Vol. 1

November Tour:
10.11. – (DE) Dortmund, Junkyard
11.11. – (NL) Maastricht, Muziekgieterij
12.11.- (NL) Deventer, Burgerweeshuis
13.11. – tba
14.11. – (DE) Bielefeld, Forum
15.11. – (BE) Brussels, Botanique
16.11. – (FR) Paris, Backstage By The Mill
17.11. – (FR) Vallet, Westill Fest
18.11. – (DE) Neunkirchen, Gloomaar Festival

https://www.facebook.com/COLOURHAZE.official/
https://www.instagram.com/colourhazeband/
http://colourhaze.de/

www.elektrohasch.de

Colour Haze, Sacred (2022)

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