The Shaking Sensations Premiere “Sightings” Video; How Are We to Fight the Blight? out Oct. 4

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 24th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

the shaking sensations (Photo by Mark Schmidt Andersen)

Well what else were you going to possibly put in a video for an instrumental song called “Sightings?” Scenery! Obviously. Danish heavy post-rockers The Shaking Sensations will release their second album, How Are We to Fight the Blight?, on Oct. 4 through Pelagic Records, and with the issuance of the second single — that’s “Sightings,” in case you missed it — the doubly-drummed Copenhagen five-piece add to the weighted impression of initial-public-offering “Tremendous Efforts” with an evocative flourish of guitar, insistent rhythm and spacious atmospherics. There’s an energy to the performance of both tracks that, given the other sonic differences between them I’m just going to assume extends to the full album since I haven’t heard the whole thing yet, but that doesn’t come at the expense of an otherworldliness that comes through in the ethereal, overarching melodies of the guitar’s airy float.

The immediate curiosity, of course, is what blight we’re talking about, but given the fact that the cover art for How Are We to Fight the Blight? is a human being wrapped in plastic, one is at least somewhat led to think of environmental issuesthe shaking sensations how are we to fight the blight — though one could make an argument for any number of sociopolitcal themes, the rise of a Northern European right-wing nationalism among them, you’ll pardon me if I commit to this one at least on a basic level of making an interpretive guess — in which case, the “blight” in question is also the “we” in question. It may be that the record is about something else entirely, or not any one thing at all, but between the striking imagery and the contemplative feel that “Sightings” brings to the fore in terms of sound while the video seems to contrast natural and human-made landscapes before turning to sheer light as the song hits its tonal-wash payoff, there is a sense of the interaction between person and place that comes through just the same, and it’s no stretch to hear a wistfulness in the guitar work of “Sightings,” the very echo of which seems to encapsulate a feeling of something lost and remembered. Or maybe I’ve been reading too many climate reports. Never thought I’d miss bees until the ecosystem started collapsing.

Whoops.

Whether or not How Are We to Fight the Blight? is taking on these ideas directly, consider the fact that “Sightings” invites such interpreting as a sign of its overall depth and its engagement on more than just a basic “song you put on for background” listening experience. There are some flashing lights toward the end of the clip, but nothing too severe — no strobe — so you should be fine if you have such sensitivities. I’ve included the preorder links for the album below as well as some more PR wire info, should you want to dive into more background.

Please enjoy:

The Shaking Sensations, “Sightings” official video premiere

Order here:

Europe: http://bit.ly/tssEUROPE
N. America: http://bit.ly/tssNA
Australia: http://bit.ly/tssAUSTRALIA

Digital: https://orcd.co/tssdgtl
Physical: http://smarturl.it/tssHAWTFTBshop

Copenhagen-based instrumental post-rock powerhouse THE SHAKING SENSATIONS unleashes second new track from the upcoming album ‘How Are We to Fight The Blight?’

While the month of June saw a new and unorthodox, fresh approach to the genre with the release of the towering 1st single, Tremendous Efforts, Sightings encapsulates the well know virtues and showcases a band still more than capable of unfolding a world of lush, dreamy loud and majestic post-rock.

Sightings is taken from How Are We To Fight The Blight? Out on October 4th on Pelagic Records.

The Shaking Sensations on Thee Facebooks

The Shaking Sensations on Instagram

The Shaking Sensations on Bandcamp

Pelagic Records on Thee Facebooks

Pelagic Records website

Tags: , , , , ,

Quarterly Review: Earth, Heilung, Thronehammer, Smear, Deadbird, Grass, Prana Crafter, Vago Sagrado, Gin Lady, Oven

Posted in Reviews on July 1st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

Deep breath. And… here we go.

Welcome to The Obelisk’s Summer 2019 Quarterly Review. You probably know the drill by now, but just in case, here’s what’s up: starting today and through next Monday, I’ll be reviewing 10 records per day for a total of 60. I’ve done this every three months (or so) for the better part of the last five years, each one with at least 50 releases included. Some are big bands, some are new bands, some are releases are new, some older. It’s a mix of styles and notoriety, and that’s exactly the intent. It’s a ton of stuff, but that’s also the intent, and the corresponding hope is that somewhere in all of it there’s something for everyone.

I’ll check in each day at the top with what usually turns out to be a “hot damn I’m exhausted, but this is worth it”-kind of update, but otherwise, if we’re all on board, let’s just get to it. First batch below, more to come.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Earth, Full Upon Her Burning Lips

earth

Finding post-Southern Lord refuge with Sargent House in similar fashion to Boris, Earth seem to act in direct response to 2014’s Primitive and Deadly (review here) with the 10-track/62-minute Full Upon Her Burning Lips, stripping their approach down to its two essential components: Dylan Carlson‘s guitar and Adrienne Davies‘ drums. The former adds bass as well, and the latter some off-kit percussion, but that’s about as far as they go in the extended meditation on their core modus — even the straightforward photo on the cover tells the story — psychedelic and brooding and still-spacious as the music is. Gone are folk strings or vocals, and so on, and instead, they foster immersion through not-quite minimalist nod and roll, Carlson‘s guitar soundscaping atop Davies‘ slow, steady pulse. It’s not nearly so novel as the last time out, but timed to the 30th anniversary of the band, it’s a reminder that if you like Earth, this dynamic is ultimately why.

Earth on Thee Facebooks

Sargent House website

 

Heilung, Futha

heilung futha

It might seem like an incongruity that something so based in traditionalism conceptually would also turn into experimentalist Viking jazz, but I defy you to hear “Galgadr,” the 10-minute opener of Heilung‘s third full-length, Futha (on Season of Mist), and call it something else. Cuts like the memorable and melodic “Norupo” and the would-be-techno-but-I-think-they’re-actually-just-beating-on-wood “Svanrand,” which, like “Vapnatak” before it, is rife with the sounds of battle, but it’s in the longer pieces, “Othan,” 14-minute closer “Hamrer Hippyer,” and even the eight-plus-minute “Elivgar” and “Elddansurin” that precede it, that Heilung‘s dramas really unfold. Led by the essential presence of vocalist Maria Franz — who could hardly be more suited to the stated theme of calling to feminine power — Heilung careen through folk and narrative and full cultural immersion across 73 minutes, and craft something willfully forward thinking from the history it embellishes.

Heilung on Thee Facebooks

Season of Mist website

 

Thronehammer, Usurper of the Oaken Throne

thronehammer usurper of the oaken throne

The reliable taste of Church Within Records strikes again in picking up Thronehammer‘s first full-length, Usurper of the Oaken Throne. The project is a dark and warmaking epic mega-doom working mostly in longform material — it’s six tracks/78 minutes, so yeah — conjured in collaboration by the trio of vocalist Kat Shevil Gillham (Lucifer’s Chalice, etc.), guitarist/keyboardist Stuart Bootsy West (ex-Obelyskkh, ex-The Walruz) and drummer/bassist Tim Schmidt (Seamount), that hits with a massive impact from 17-minute opener “Behind the Wall of Frost” into “Conquered and Erased” (11:24) and “Warhorn” (19:12), making for an opening salvo that’s a full-length unto itself and a beast of doomed grandeur that balances extremity with clearheaded presentation. They simplify the proceedings a bit for “Svarte Skyer” and the eponymous “Thronehammmer,” but are clearly in their element for the 15-minute closing title-track, which rounds out one of the best doom debuts I’ve heard so far this year with due heft and ceremony.

Thronehammer on Thee Facebooks

Church Within Records on Bandcamp

 

Smear, A Band Called Shmear

Smear A Band Called Shmear

Smear‘s live-recorded A Band Called Shmear EP is basically the equivalent of that dude getting dragged out of the outdoor concert for being at the bottom of the puffing clouds of smoke going, “Come on man, I’m not hurting anybody!” And by that I mean it’s awesome. The Eugene, Oregon, four-piece get down on some psychedelic reefer madness tapped into weirdo anti-genre tendencies that come to fruition in the verses of “Guns of Brixton” after the drifting freaker “Old Town.” The whole thing runs an extra-manageable 21 minutes, and six of that are dedicated to the fuzzed jam “Zombie” — tinged in its early going with a reggae groove — so Smear make it easy to follow their outward path, whether it’s the surf-with-no-water “Weigh” at the outset or “Quicksand,” which hints at more complex melodic tendencies almost in spite of itself. You like vibe, right? These cats have plenty to go around, and they deliver it with an absolute lack of pretense. Whatever they do next, I hope they also record it live, because it clearly works.

Smear on Thee Facebooks

Smear on Bandcamp

 

Deadbird, III: The Forest Within the Tree

deadbird iii the forest within the tree

One hesitates to speculate on the future of a band who’ve just taken 10 years to put out an album, but Deadbird sound vital on their awaited third full-length: III: The Forest Within the Tree (arrived late 2018 through 20 Buck Spin), and with a revamped lineup that includes Rwake vocalist Chris Terry and Rwake/The Obsessed bassist Reid Raley as well as bassist Jeff Morgan, guitarist Jay Minish and founders Phillip (drums) and Chuck (guitar) Schaaf and Alan Short — all of whom contribute vocals — Deadbird emerge from the ether with a stunningly cohesive and varied outing of post-sludge, tinged Southern in its humid tonality but still very much geared toward heft and, certainly more than I recall of their past work, melody. In just 38 minutes they push the listener into this dank world of their creation, and seem to find just as much release in experiments “11:34” and “Ending” as in the crashes of “Brought Low” or “Heyday.” Are they really back? Hell if I know, but these songs are enough to make me hope so.

Deadbird on Thee Facebooks

20 Buck Spin on Bandcamp

 

Grass, Fresh Grass

grass fresh grass

Brooklyn four-piece Grass released a live recording in 2017, but the late-2018 EP Fresh Grass marks their studio debut, and it comprises five tracks digging into the traditions of heavy rock with edges derived from the likes of Clutch, Orange Goblin, maybe a bit of Kyuss and modern bluesier practitioners as well in cuts like “Black Clouds” — the lone holdover from one release to the next — and the swaggering “Runaway,” which veers into vocal layering in its second half in a way that seems to portend things to come, while the centerpiece “Fire” and closer “Easy Rider” roll out in post=’70s fashion a kind of rawer modern take. Their sound is nascent, but there’s potential in their swing and the hook of opener “My Wall.” Fresh Grass is the band searching for their place within a heavy rock style. I hear nothing on it to make me think they won’t find it, and if they were opening the show, you’d probably want to show up early.

Grass on Thee Facebooks

Grass on Bandcamp

 

Prana Crafter, MindStreamBlessing

Prana Crafter MindStreamBlessing

Reissued on vinyl through Cardinal Fuzz with two bonus tracks, Prana Crafter‘s 2017 offering, MindStreamBlessing, originally saw release through Eidolon Records and finds the Washington-based solo artist Will Sol oozing through acid folk and psychedelic traditions, instrumentally constructing a shimmer that seems ready for the platter edition it’s been granted. Songs like “As the Weather Commands” and “Bardo Nectar” are experiments in their waves of meandering guitar, effects and keys, while “Mycellial Morphohum” adapts cosmic ecology to minimal spaciousness and vague spoken word. Some part of me misses vocals in the earthy “FingersFlowThroughOldSkolRiver,” but that might just also be the part of me that’s hearing Lamp of the Universe or Six Organs of Admittance influences. The interwoven layers of “Prajna Pines,” on the other hand, seem fine without; bluesy as the lead guitar line is, there’s no doubting the song’s expressive delivery, though one could easily say the same of the krautrock loops and keys and reverb-drenched solo of “Luminous Clouds.”

Prana Crafter on Thee Facebooks

Cardinal Fuzz webstore

 

Vago Sagrado, Vol. III

vago sagrado vol iii

Heavy post-rockers Vago Sagrado set a peaceful atmosphere with “K is Kool,” the opening track of their third album, Vol. III, that is hard to resist. They’ll soon enough pump in contrast via the foreboding low end of “La Pieza Oscura,” but the feeling of purposeful drift in the guitar remains resonant, even as the drums and vocals take on a kind of punkish feel. The mix is one that the Chilean three-piece seem to delight in, reveling in tonal adventurousness in the quiet/loud tradeoff of “Fire (In Your Head)” and the New Wave shuffle of “Sundown” before “Centinela” kicks off side B with the kind of groove that Queens of the Stone Age fans have been missing for the last 15 years. Things get far out in “Listen & Obey,” but Vago Sagrado never completely lose their sense of direction, and that only makes the proceedings more engaging as the hypnotic “One More Time with Feeling” leads into the nine-minute closer “Mekong,” wherein the wash teased all along comes to fruition.

Vago Sagrado on Thee Facebooks

Vago Sagrado on Bandcamp

 

Gin Lady, Tall Sun Crooked Moon

gin lady tall sun crooked moon

I’m more than happy to credit Sweden’s Gin Lady for the gorgeous ’70s country rock harmonies that emanate from their fourth album, Tall Sun Crooked Moon (on Kozmik Artifactz), from the mission-statement opener “Everyone is Love” onward, but I think it’s also worth highlighting that the 10-track outing also features the warmest snare drum sound I’ve heard maybe since the self-titled Kadavar LP. The Swedish four-piece have nailed their sound down to that level of detail, and as they touch on twang boogie in “Always Gold” or find bluesy Abbey Roadian deliverance in the more riff-led chorus of “Gentle Bird,” their aesthetic is palpable but does not trump the straight-ahead appeal of their songwriting. The closing duo of “The Rock We All Push” and the piano-soother “Tell it Like it Is” are the only two tracks to push past five minutes long, but by then the mood is well set and if they wanted to keep going, I have a hard time imagining they’d meet with complaints. Serenity abounds.

Gin Lady on Thee Facebooks

Kozmik Artifactz website

 

Oven, Couch Lock

oven couch lock

For an EP called Couch Lock — i.e., when you’re too stoned to even stand up — there’s an awful lot of movement on Oven‘s debut release, from the punk thrust of “Get It” to the arrogant sleaze of “Go James” and even the drums in “This Time.” And the nine-minute “Dark Matter” is basically space rock, so yeah, hardly locked to the couch there, but okay. The five-tracker is raw in its production as would seem to suit the Pennsylvania trio, but they still get their point across in terms of attitude, and a closing cover of Nebula‘s “To the Center” seems only to reinforce the notion. One imagines that any basement where they unleash that and the nod that culminates “Dark Matter” just before it would have to be professionally dehumidified afterward to get the dankness out, and an overarching sense of stoner shenanigans only adds to the good times that so much of East Coast-ish psych misses the point on. They’re having fun. You should too.

Oven on Bandcamp

Oven on Thee Facebooks

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Uffe Lorenzen Announces Fall Tour Dates Supporting Triprapport

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 27th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

I’m wrong about all kinds of shit, pretty much all the time, but I’m right about how good Uffe Lorenzen‘s second solo record, Triprapport (review here), is. Issued by Bad Afro Records, which has also long stood behind releases for Lorenzen‘s main outfit, Baby Woodrose, as well as Dragontears, Spids Nøgenhat, etc., it takes psychedelic folk and garage rock and melts them both down to find a signature character not only derived from but adding to them. There are few people I’m willing to believe were as genuinely upset as Lorenzen might’ve been at the recent passing of Roky Erickson, let me put it that way.

Most of the shows are in Denmark, but pardon me if I take the announcement of this barrage of shows — mostly in three-date increments, but some not — as an excuse to post the Bandcamp stream of the album again and encourage you to dig into it. If you’re interested — and you should be, damnit — the documentary film Born to Lose (review coming soon) about Lorenzen is also out on DVD/streaming now.

Here are the dates:

uffe lorenzen tour

In September my Tålt Ophold Tour 2019. It will be once again a walk around Denmark (and a few go to Norway) only armed with 12-string guitar, my travel card, my own Danish songs and a handful of good stories from A slightly unusual living life. You can see the whole turplanen on this flyer that you would love to share and tag your friends in the comments so I can sell some tickets.

Uffe Lorenzen – Tålt Ophold Tour 2019
05.09 Bygingen Vejle
06.09 Dexter Odense
07.09 Paletten Viborg
12.09 Baltoppen Ballerup
13.09 Støberiallen Hillerod
14.09 Gimle Roskilde
19.09 Stars Vordingborg
20.09 Sonderborghus Sonderborg
21.09 Templet Lyngby
26.09 Tøjhuset Fredericia
27.09 Glumsø Biograf Og Kulturhus Glumsø
28.09 Kulisselageret Horsens
03.10 Kunsthal6100 Haderslev
04.10 Studenterhuset Aalborg
05.10 Hanstholm Madbar Thy
10.10 John Dee Oslo
11.10 Statsraaden Bergen
12.10 Folken Akvariet Stavanger
17.10 Radar Aarhus
20.10 Hotel Cecil København (sold out)
25.10 KulturCosmos Viby Sjaelland
26.10 Harder Svendborg
27.10 Hotel Cecil København
31.10 Boxer Trondheim
01.11 Blå Rock Tromsø

My latest album triprapport can still be streaming, downloaded and purchased from these links:

Digital: https://badafro.lnk.to/UffeLorenzen-Album
Bandcamp: https://badafrorecords.bandcamp.com/album/triprapport

https://www.facebook.com/lorenzowoodrose
https://www.instagram.com/themanwhoatetheplant
https://www.facebook.com/BabyWoodrose/
https://www.facebook.com/badafrorecords/
https://badafrorecords.bandcamp.com/
http://badafro.dk/

Uffe Lorenzen, Triprapport (2019)

Tags: , , , , , ,

Review & Track Premiere: Uffe Lorenzen, Triprapport

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on May 7th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Uffe Lorenzen Triprapport

[Click play above to stream the premiere of Uffe Lorenzen’s ‘Psykonauten’ from the album Triprapport, out May 10 on Bad Afro Records.]

Is it really any surprise that Uffe Lorenzen would produce headphone-ready acid folk of the highest caliber? It probably shouldn’t be. The Baby Woodrose frontman, also known as Lorenzo Woodrose, has been proffering psychedelic garage and heavy rock with that outfit for the last 18 years, and his 2017 solo debut, Galmandsværk (review here), was a likewise-directed lysergic journey. Triprapport, recorded and mixed analog, is a more than worthy follow-up to that also-released-by-BadAfro first offering, with its eight songs written in a short period of time during a mushroom binge off in a cabin someplace in Lorenzen‘s native Denmark. The album’s title, Triprapport, might indeed be taken as a report about that trip, and of course, “trip” is the operative word. Across 36 occasionally-sitar-laced minutes Lorenzen builds layers of acoustic and electric guitar, percussion, and echoing vocals to a sensibility that is at once reminiscent of the debut and steadier in its approach.

The mellotron dream of “Angakkoq” and the subtly percussive, semi-spoken “Alting Er Eet” are both likewise assured, and even on the extra spacious “Aldrig Mere Ned,” in which Lorenzen‘s strumming seems to ring out like the Milky Way cutting the night sky in half amid a mounting wall of electrified fuzz, there’s a willfulness to the proceedings that speaks to the consciousness behind all that mind expansion. The narrative of the album’s construction — guy goes into the woods, eats mushrooms, writes songs — does precious little to convey the level of craft or detail that Lorenzen brings to his work, but perhaps it’s best left to the songs to explain themselves, as with the closing Hans Vinding (Furekåben) cover “Hallo Hallo Frøken,” taking the ’70s folk vibe and peppering it with drifting notes of effects-laced lap steel (provided by Peter Knudsen), or even the countdown-to-launch that happens about halfway into opener “Psykonauten” atop a engine ignition of low-end buzz. Lorenzen may not be a stranger to the forms in which he works, but his mastery thereof is what makes Triprapport a voyage worth undertaking.

The launch that ensues there in a scorching, multi-layered electric lead is about as appropriate a beginning point as Lorenzen could give Triprapport, and what follows is due otherworldliness both in that song and “Alting Er Eet,” which follows in linear fashion seemingly headed on a direct course toward “far out,” synth and delay guitar intertwining in dramatic fashion in the midpoint break before Lorenzen starts a call and response to his own melody and the synth swells again. The title-track is indicative of some of the more garage-feeling rhythms Triprapport has on offer. “Alting Er Eet” and “Psykonauten” both certainly have movement — the opener punctuated by tambourine, the second track by a bass drum/snare and the aforementioned shaker — but the tablas and tambourine of “Triprapport” as well as the pinging sitar notes that accompany (courtesy of Vicki Singh) add a sense of boogie that the later “Floden,” indeed with more sitar, answers later.

Uffe Lorenzen Triprapport

“Floden” is the shortest track on Triprapport at 3:17, but Lorenzen only hits the five-minute mark twice and one of those is for the finale cover. Still, “Floden”‘s relative surge of push is well-placed in side B as it follows the drift of “Angakkoq” and “Lille Fugl” with “Aldrig Mere Ned” and “Hallo Hallo Frøken” still to go. It’s a moment whereby Lorenzen directly engages the listener, especially in a linear format (CD, digital), allowing for some grounding factor following the acoustic-and-organ-and-flute (the latter contributed by Adam Dreisler) interplay of “Lille Fugl.” Both that track and “Angakkoq” before it have some percussive aspect, whether it’s the triangle of “Angakkoq” or what might be a bass drum so far back in the mix of “Lille Fugl” that it sounds like water droplets, but “Floden” is a well-placed cosmic burst of energy, that, without losing the melodic focus that proves so resonant throughout Triprapport, responds to the title-track’s classic psychedelia with more of the same as heard in its running measures between verse lines.

As the last original track, “Aldrig Er Eet” feels like a significant moment for Lorenzen as a songwriter, and it might be, with a somewhat moodier pulse, subtle backing line of synth or effects lower register and lower in the mix, as well as a march in acoustic guitar and percussion, but it’s not at all out of place with what comes before it or even what comes after, as “Hallo Hallo Frøken” is brought well into the character of the rest of Triprapport, the lap steel taking the place of the strings in the original and Lorenzen replacing the Dylan-gone-krautrock of the original with his own approach. Across the entire span of Triprapport — its manageable 36-minute run just about ideal for a traditional two-sided LP — the songs are a reminder of just how much character Lorenzen puts into his songwriting. It is, in the end, his work, and however traditional the form in which he’s working might be intended to be, there’s no doubting the progressive aspects of Triprapport even as relates to Galmandsværk.

That is perhaps something the gone-to-a-cabin storyline in which the album occurs takes as a given, but it’s worth highlighting all the same that Lorenzen is nothing short of a master when it comes to psychedelic composition. His work in Baby Woodrose speaks for itself, but can be somewhat opaque for a new listener to take on — in the age-old question of where to start, I’d say the self-titled, but there’s really no wrong answer — but even the fact that the lyrics are in Danish lends his solo material a more personal atmosphere, though I’ll readily admit to my ignorance of the language. Nonetheless, while Lorenzen may be exploring this more personal mode of songwriting, he doesn’t at all lose the writing part of that equation. The material on Triprapport is as deceptive in its efficiency as it is fluid in its front-to-back flow. Ultimately, this is what makes the album his own. Is it surprising? Probably not. But it’s gorgeous.

Uffe Lorenzen on Thee Facebooks

Baby Woodrose on Thee Facebooks

Baby Woodrose on Bandcamp

Baby Woodrose website

Bad Afro Records on Bandcamp

Bad Afro Records on Thee Facebooks

Bad Afro Records website

Tags: , , , , , ,

Review & Track Premiere: Papir, VI

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on April 19th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

papir vi

[Click play above to stream “VI.I” from Papir’s new album, VI. It’s out May 10 on Stickman Records.]

The trio of trio of guitarist Nicklas Sørensen, drummer Christoffer Brøchmann Christensen and bassist Christian Becher Clausen would seem to reach a new level of maturity in their presentation on their sixth album, suitably titled VI. Issued through Stickman Records as the follow-up to their debut on the label, 2017’s V (review here), it continues the Danish instrumentalists’ progressive streak that began with their 2010 self-titled and saw them align to El Paraiso for the subsequent three studio offerings, the last of which was 2014’s IIII (review here), as well as a live album. However, it’s also a marked departure from its predecessor in terms of basic intent, and where V was a 2LP with a staggering 94-minute runtime, VI pulls back on that impulse and instead offers four tracks in an entirely more manageable 39 minutes, feeling less like a splurge and more like a quick excursion to someplace peaceful and other.

Its songs are extended enough and lush with warm crash and mellotron filling out the mix, never mind the dream-toned guitar and effects, to be genuinely immersive, but the mood for the bulk of VI is bright and creative, as though the band were looking to open a conversation or at very least elicit one among those who’d engage with their work. To call it a headphone album is basically to ask someone if they like peaceful summer afternoons, and as the band evoke Yawning Man with some slide guitar and Colour Haze in the apex of “VI.III,” even this is brought into the broader context of their own characterization. That is, Papir have their influences, but rather than work toward them, they’re using them to the band’s own ends. They’re not trying to sound like anything other than themselves, and perhaps unsurprisingly, it suits them.

That shortened runtime is crucial to the experience of the album. It was no hardship to put V on and bliss out for the duration, but part of that experience was getting lost in the flow of Papir‘s material. VI is best given a more conscious approach to shifts like the percussiveness of “VI.IV” or the linear build in “VI.II” or the interplay of drift and wash that opens with “VI.I.” And they make that easy. There is some sense of structure as “VI.I” and “VI.IV” bookend the record at 10:07 and 11:04, respectively, while both “VI.II” and “VI.III” hover on either end of the nine-minute mark, ending side A and beginning side B with a fluidity that seems to extend to the conceptual. Yes, it’s still easy to get lost in what they’re doing if that’s the way you want to go, but doing so misses out on moments like the cascading river of tone in “VI.I” as it moves toward its conclusion, or the gradual opening of “VI.II,” with a bouncing, almost playful guitar leading the way accompanied by quiet but nuanced drums.

papir

I’m not going to try to dissuade anyone from listening to VI however they want, but to just float off on Clausen‘s “VI.III” bassline misses some of the exceptional details surrounding and obvious care the band have put into crafting their work. I guess what’s most called for, then, are multiple listens. So be it. The chemistry between Sørensen, Clausen and Christensen makes that a pleasurable undertaking, to be sure, and hey, if every now and again one might return to VI for a bit of escapism, I’m nobody to call it wrong. The point is that what Papir have created something that’s worth conscious interaction. Once you’ve done that, however you want to spend your time is up to you. Perhaps most crucial, they invite multiple listens in no small part through the accessibility of these tracks and the quicker runtime of the entire affair. You could put it on twice in less than the time it would take to listen to V once. That’s a considerable change, but it shows that growth doesn’t always have to mean just doing things bigger.

Indeed, I’ll gladly argue that VI is Papir‘s most progressive work to-date in no small part because they’ve taken such a conscious step to allow for easier audience engagement. Their material is still plenty far out, of course. The jazz drumming in “VI.IV” and the consuming effects that surround it demonstrate that plainly enough. But they make it so easy to listen. And to listen again, and to listen again. It’s not just about being shorter. That’s a piece of it, but even the songs themselves seem to flesh out in a way that signals Papir reaching a new sphere of expression. They are memorable even without verse or chorus hooks, and the atmosphere they set rests easily atop the entire LP as a welcome presence. Their style has always been exploratory, and that holds true here as well, but VI is as much about being in a place as it is about finding somewhere new to go. One can hear a certain restlessness in “VI.IV” as it rounds out the album with a last, well-earned payoff and crashes out quickly to end, and that’s consistent with what Papir have done in the past, but the difference is in the context through which that moment arises.

If by the end of VI the band are ready to head elsewhere, well, they should be, but that doesn’t diminish the ground they’ve covered in the songs preceding. Rather, across “VI.I,” “VI.II,” “VI.III” and “VI.IV,” they poetically ask their listeners to join them in this space they’ve created. That they don’t ultimately stay there shouldn’t be a surprise — they’ve done nothing to this point in their career that one would call static — but there is a sense throughout of having arrived on the part of the band, and if that’s part of how their maturity comes through in the material, then it finds Papir with an individualized take born of an organic development in their sound that’s played out over their records to this point, getting them to where they are. As to where they might go, the only guess I’d hazard is “forward,” since that’s where they’ve always gone. More important for the moment is what they’ve accomplished here in terms of positioning themselves among upper echelon of European heavy psychedelia.

Papir on Thee Facebooks

Papir on Bandcamp

Papir Blogspot

Stickman Records website

Stickman Records on Thee Facebooks

Stickman Records on Twitter

Tags: , , , , ,

Papir Set May 10 Release for VI; Preorders up Now

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 2nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

papir

If life ever puts you in the position of being in the same place where Papir are playing, you should make every effort to watch them play. Fortunately for everyone else, they do a fair amount of recording. VI, sure enough, is their sixth album since they got their start in 2010, and its four-track LP self follows behind 2017’s mega-expansive stunner, V (review here). That, of course, was a 2LP — no single platter could contain it. Does the shift back to a single-vinyl release indicate perhaps that the Danish trio have likewise reined in their sound to some degree or other? And what effect might that have on the overall result of the record? I said as much when they hit the studio in December, but god damn I’m curious to hear this album. The only thing I was willing to predict about it was the title, and as there’s no audio public from it yet, that remains the case.

Art and info follow from the PR wire:

papir vi

New Papir album VI on presale

release date: May 10th, 2019

Papir, a trio from Copenhagen, might be the ultimate expression of the Danish creative soul: distinctively modern, deceptively minimalistic, and stylish yet understated. A band of virtuoso musicians who move between psychedelic rock, jazz and krautrock seamlessly with the ability to hypnotize audiences, Papir could easily be the showboats of the scene. However, since the appearance of their self-titled record in 2010, Papir have continued to follow their own road map, creating music with little interest in playing to the masses or catering to a specific genre.

On VI, Papir show a mastery of all their faces, combining the guitar heroics of their first few records with the more lush sound of 2017’s V. From epic psychedelic guitar meltdowns à la Earthless to sweeping, reverb-drenched soundscapes, it’s all here and held together by a core of dense rhythm and melody. In a mere 4 songs, Papir once again refresh tired ears with their unmistakable approach to rock music, leaving the listener blissed rather than bludgeoned.

Available on 180gr clear vinyl + download code and on CD.

Tracklist
VI.I
VI.II
VI.III
VI.IV

Preorder here: https://www.stickman-records.com/shop/papir-vi/

Papir is:
Nicklas Sørensen
Christoffer Brøchmann Christensen
Christian Becher Clausen

https://www.facebook.com/papirband
https://papir.bandcamp.com/
https://www.stickman-records.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Stickman-Records-1522369868033940

Papir, V (2017)

Tags: , , , , ,

Heilung to Release Futha June 28; Teaser Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 28th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

So, I know it’s not exactly fitting with the atmosphere of the release or anything, but yesterday when the email came in with the teaser clip for Heilung‘s forthcoming second album, Futha, I was sitting at the kitchen table — as I will with the laptop — post-lunch with The Pecan and The Patient Mrs., and I put the teaser on, and the demon-voice came on, and the baby started impersonating it. I almost died. We’ve done “death metal growls” and stuff before, but he just picked up on what Heilung were doing in the minute-long clip and kind of ran with it. Needless to say, I worry about how he’ll do at pre-school.

But at least he’ll have good taste.

Heilung are way up high on my gotta-see-at-Roadburn list, and they’ve got a bunch of other dates booked as well. All info follows, courtesy of the PR wire. Teaser is at the bottom:

heilung

HEILUNG Tease Forthcoming Album, ‘Futha’

HEILUNG will be releasing their next studio album, ‘Futha,’ on June 28 via Season of Mist. The band have released a poetic album teaser in advance of the release.

The band comments, “‘Futha’ was three years in the making and was finished in the dark, Danish midwinter. But after darkness comes light, after winter comes spring, after suffering comes relief, after ‘Ofnir’ comes ‘Futha.’ Here’s what the spirits has to say about it!”

On the meaning of the album title, HEILUNG explains: “The majority of full rune set inscriptions start with ‘Futha,’ and is known to us as the first four letters in all runic alphabets. It is considered that our forefathers saw magic potential in engraving the full rune line, but there is also great significance in the beginnings. Science has no key for the meaning of only engraving the first couple of letters yet, but there is, of course, a surplus of theories. One of the theories we found inspiration in, is that ‘Futha’ holds the meaning of fertility and female gender. As ‘Ofnir’ focused on war and masculine notions, the great healing power of female wild strength is evoked in Futha. Those who have been present at a birth or have seen lionesses hunting know the spirit, and we welcome and embrace it in the sounds that were born during the creation of ‘Futha.'”

More album details will be revealed soon. In the meantime, you can purchase merch and their last album, ‘Ofnir,’ HERE.

HEILUNG have previously announced a European tour in October and November this year. The tour will kick off on October 22nd in Warsaw (PL) and will end about a month later in Paris (FR). Find the full list of tour dates below.

HEILUNG Festival Performances 2019:
04/11: Tilburg (NL) @ Roadburn Festival
04/17: St. Petersburg (RU) @ Aurora
04/19: Moscow (RU) @ Arbat Hall
06/20: Copenhagen (DK) @ Copenhell Festival 2019 (Exact date TBA)
06/29: Helsinki (FI) @ Tuska 2019 (Exact date TBA)
08/18: Borre (NO) @ Midgardsblot 2019 (Exact date TBA)
09/07: Selb (DE) @ Mediaval Festival 2019 (Exact date TBA)
10/19: Hameln (DE) @ Autumn Moon Festival 2019 (Exact date TBA)

HEILUNG European tour:
10/22: Palladium (PL) @ Warschau
10/24: Berlin (DE) @ Admiralspalast
10/26: Essen (DE) @ Colosseum Theater
10/28: Munich (DE) @ Circus Krone
10/30: Prague (CZ) @ Hybernia
11/01: Halle (DE) @ Händelhalle
11/03: Vienna (AT) @ Der Globe
11/05: Zurich (CH) @ Volkshaus
11/07: Kiel (DE) @ Kieler Schloss
11/10: London (UK) @ Roundhouse
11/17: Brussels (BE) @ AB
11/20: Paris (FR) @ Elysée Montmartre

Line-up
Kai Uwe Faust
Christopher Juul
Maria Franz

https://www.facebook.com/amplifiedhistory
https://www.instagram.com/amplifiedhistory/
https://heilung.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/seasonofmistofficial
https://www.twitter.com/seasonofmist
https://shopusa.season-of-mist.com

Heilung, Futha album teaser

Tags: , , , , ,

Demon Head, Hellfire Ocean Void: Own the Hour

Posted in Reviews on February 15th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

demon head hellfire ocean void

There are those who’ll argue against there being any room for growth in a retro aesthetic. That the style is inherently stagnant. It sounds old, therefore it sounds redundant. It’s an argument as simple as it is ridiculous and Copenhagen’s Demon Head give a compelling glimpse at why by means of Hellfire Ocean Void. It is their third full-length and first through respected purveyor Svart Records, and it manifests a theatricality and progressive sense of drama all its own while staying loyal to an underlying classicism. As songs like “The Night is Yours” and “In the Hour of the Wolf” dynamically blend aspects of gothic post-punk, dark psychedelia, doom and proto-metallic tonality, the five-piece — a returning lineup of vocalist Marcus Ferreira Larsen, lead guitarist Thor Gjerlufsen Nielsen, rhythm guitarist/keyboardist Birk Gjerlufsen Nielsen, bassist Mikkel Sander Fuglsang and drummer Jeppe “No You Can’t Know My Middle Name” Wittus — bring individualism to established styles by crafting a blend that is theirs alone.

To be sure, this has been their trajectory all the while. Their second album, 2017’s Thunder on the Fields (review here), built fluidly on the prior 2015 debut, Ride the Wilderness (review here), and in that context, Hellfire Ocean Void is another forward step in the series — but it’s a big step. That can be heard as “In the Hour of the Wolf” picks up from the jangly “A Flaming Sea,” in which Larsen delivers the title line, and shifts in its second half to hypnotic progressive guitar lines as it moves toward its final, sweeping solo. It can be heard in the folkish vocal harmonies that begin side B with the acoustic-led intro “Labyrinth,” the way in which scorching leads of the subsequent “Strange Eggs” draw down the tempo ahead of the final dirge march, or how closer “Mercury and Sulphur” seems to pull the various sides together into one cohesive entirety for its eight and a half minutes. Simply put, this is the record that those who’ve caught on to Demon Head have been hearing the potential for up till now. It is the realization of their promise as a band.

Much of the noted drama involved can be traced to the vocals, and again, that’s been a steady factor in Demon Head since their beginnings five years ago with Demo 2014 (review here) and the single Demon Head b/w Winterland (review here), but neither should the work of the Nielsens on guitar be understated in its contribution. Even Wittus‘ crash cymbal seems to have a grand purpose in crafting the wash by the time “Mercury and Sulphur” is hitting its payoff, and sure enough the last piece to go from that track is Fuglsang‘s bass, so indeed, it’s everybody. And it’s a question of confidence, definitely. Demon Head are fast veterans at the half-decade mark, and while they haven’t spent six months out of each year touring and playing festivals, they’ve done a fair share of road time, so they should be as sure of themselves and what they’re doing as they are. They sound throughout the eight songs/40 minutes of Hellfire Ocean Void like a band experienced in the studio, who know how to balance live energy of performance with the opportunities for sonic expansion that recording allows.

demon head

Their scope, their sheer sonic reach, has never been so broad, and as the album opens with the quiet piano introduction “Rumours,” the intent of grandeur is clearly stated. And yet Hellfire Ocean Void isn’t overblown. It isn’t consumed by its own progression at the expense of the songs. Demon Head‘s naturalist tonality keeps them grounded, and their level of songcraft assures that even as “The Night is Yours” and “The Flaming Sea” provide an initial showcase of the band’s intent in conveying the maturity of their approach and how far they’ve come, their work is still catchy and engaging on a basic structural level. That remains true even in the wider soundscaping of “In the Hour of the Wolf,” with its goth disco animalia, the delightfully and willfully bizarre “Strange Eggs” and the patiently expansive and doomed “Mercury and Sulphur,” which comprise a movement unto themselves of nuance and character, but have their hooks nonetheless.

Further, Demon Head evince a whole-album approach not only within the songs, but in the patterning of the album itself. From “Rumours” into “The Night is Yours,” “A Flaming Sea” into “In the Hour of the Wolf,” “Labyrinth” into “Strange Eggs” and the penultimate “Death’s Solitude” into “Mercury and Sulphur,” Hellfire Ocean Void shifts from shorter-track/longer-track in such a way as to directly portray the dynamism of the band and a feeling of stylistic diversity. In particular, “Death’s Solitude,” with its xylophone (I’m pretty sure I hear that elsewhere too, unless I’m imagining things) and tension-building tom runs, acts as a direct line into the finale in such a way as to make one believe it was written precisely for that purpose. It’s longer than “Rumours” or “Labyrinth,” and the quiet guitar of its first half seems to foreshadow the breakout that comes circa 1:20 in, but after that, it’s the vocals in a showcase over an instrumental tempest that ultimately holds sway and moves into the closer after a quick fade to set up the stark strum of guitar at the start of “Mercury and Sulphur.”

It’s one more moment in which Demon Head so carefully but so naturally prove themselves to be masters of their sound. Hellfire Ocean Void is not necessarily immediate — it may take a few listens to completely unveil its scope — but when it does, it’s all the more satisfying a listening experience. And it’s worth noting that even as they reach this new echelon of craft, Demon Head maintain an abiding lack of pretense. As far out as they go, they don’t lose themselves in the work, and they don’t lose sight of the songs. The difference that makes across the LP’s two-sided span is massive when it comes time for “Mercury and Sulphur” to make its final outward plod; a stretch that is neither over-the-top emotionally nor failing to connect in terms of affecting a mood. With Hellfire Ocean VoidDemon Head serve notice that they’ve been underrated up to this point in their tenure, and not only reaffirm and manifest their own forward potential, but that of their genre as a whole, even as they grow beyond its confines.

Demon Head, Hellfire Ocean Void (2019)

Demon Head on Thee Facebooks

Demon Head on Bandcamp

Demon Head webstore

Svart Records website

Svart Records on Thee Facebooks

Svart Records on Twitter

Tags: , , , , ,