Quarterly Review: King Woman, Mythic Sunship, Morningstar Delirium, Lunar Funeral, Satánico Pandemonium, Van Groover, Sergio Ch., Achachak, Rise Up Dead Man, Atomic Vulture

Posted in Reviews on July 19th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

the-obelisk-fall-2016-quarterly-review

Hey, how was your weekend? You won’t be surprised to learn mine was full of tunes, which I mark as a win. While we’re marking wins, let’s put one down for wrapping up the longest Quarterly Review to-date in a full 11 days today. 110 releases. I started on July 5 — a lifetime ago. It’s now July 19, and I’ve encountered a sick kid and wife, busted laptop, oral surgery, and more riffs than I could ever hope to count along the way. Ups, downs, all-arounds. I hope you’ve enjoyed the ride.

This day was added kind of on an impulse, and the point I’m looking to emphasize is that you can spend two full weeks reviewing 10 albums a day and still there’s more to be had. I’ve learned over time you’re never going to hear everything — not even close — and that no matter how deep you dig, there’s more to find. I’m sure if I didn’t have other stuff scheduled I could fill out the entirety of this week and then some with 10 records a day. As it stands, let’s not have this Quarterly Review run into the next one at the end of September/beginning of October. Time to get my life back a little bit, such as it is.

Quarterly Review #101-110:

King Woman, Celestial Blues

king woman celestial blues

After the (earned) fanfare surrounding King Woman‘s 2017 debut, Created in the Image of Suffering, expectations for the sophomore outing, Celestial Blues, are significant. Songwriter/vocalist Kris Esfandiari meets these head-on in heavy and atmospheric fashion on tracks like the opening title-cut and “Morning Star,” the more cacophonous “Coil” and duly punishing “Psychic Wound.” Blues? Yes, in places. Celestial? In theme, in its confrontation with dogma, sure. Even more than these, though, Celestial Blues taps into an affecting weight of ambience, such that even the broad string sounds of “Golgotha” feel heavy, and whether a given stretch is loud or quiet, subdued like the first half of “Entwined” or raging like the second, right into the minimalist “Paradise Lost” that finishes, the sense of burden being purposefully conveyed is palpable in the listening experience. No doubt the plaudits will be or are already manifold and superlative, but the work stands up.

King Woman on Facebook

Relapse Records website

 

Mythic Sunship, Wildfire

Mythic Sunship Wildfire

Mythic Sunship are a hopeful vision for the future of progressive psychedelic music. Their fifth album and first for Tee Pee Records, Wildfire offers five tracks/45 minutes that alternates between ripping holes in the fabric of spacetime via emitted subspace wavelengths of shredding guitar, sax-led freakouts, shimmer to the point of blindness, peaceful drift and who the hell knows what else is going on en route from one to the other. Because as much as the Copenhagen outfit might jump from one stretch to the next, their fluidity is huge all along the course of Wildfire, which is fortunate because that’s probably the only thing stopping the record from actually melting. Instrumental as ever, I’m not sure if there’s a narrative arc playing out — certainly one can read one between “Maelstrom,” “Olympia,” “Landfall,” “Redwood Grove” and “Going Up” — and if that’s the intention, it maybe pulls back from that “hopeful vision” idea somewhat, at least in theme, if not aesthetic. In any case, the gorgeousness, the electrified vitality in what Mythic Sunship do, continues to distinguish them from their peers, which is a list that is only growing shorter with each passing LP.

Mythic Sunship on Facebook

Tee Pee Records website

 

Morningstar Delirium, Morningstar Delirium

Morningstar Delirium Morningstar Delirium

I said I was going to preorder this tape and I’m glad I did. Morningstar Delirium‘s half-hour/four-song debut offering is somewhere between an EP and an album — immersive enough to be the latter certainly in its soothing, brooding exploration of sonic textures, not at all tethered to a sonic weight in the dark industrial “Blood on the Fixture” and even less so in the initial minutes of “Silent Travelers,” but not entirely avoiding one either, as in the second half of that latter track some more sinister beats surface for a time. Comprised of multi-instrumentalists/vocalist Kelly Schilling (Dreadnought, BleakHeart) and Clayton Cushman (The Flight of Sleipnir), the isolation-era project feeds into that lockdown atmosphere in moments droning and surging, “Where Are You Going” giving an experimentalist edge with its early loops and later stretch of ethereal slide guitar (or what sounds like it), while closer “A Plea for the Stars” fulfills the promise of its vocalists with a doomed melody in its midsection that’s answered back late, topping an instrumental progression like the isolated weepy guitar of classic goth metal over patiently built layers of dark-tinted wash. Alternating between shorter and longer tracks, the promise in Morningstar Delirium resides in the hope they’ll continue to push farther and farther along these lines of emotional and aural resonance.

Morningstar Delirium on Instagram

Morningstar Delirium on Bandcamp

 

Lunar Funeral, Road to Siberia

lunar funeral road to siberia

Somewhere between spacious goth and garage doom, Russia’s Lunar Funeral find their own stylistic ground to inhabit on their second album, Road to Siberia. The two-piece offer grim lysergics to start the affair on “Introduce” before plunging into “The Thrill,” which bookends with the also-11-minute closer “Don’t Send Me to Rehab” and gracefully avoids going full-freakout enough to bring back the verse progression near the end. Right on. Between the two extended pieces, the swinging progression of “25th Hour” trades brooding for strut — or at least brooding strut — with the snare doing its damnedest by the midsection to emulate handclaps could be there if they could find a way not to be fun. “25th Hour” hits into a wash late and “Black Bones” answers with dark boogie and a genuine nod later, finishing with noise en route to the spacious eight-minute “Silence,” which finds roll eventually, but holds to its engaging sense of depth in so doing, the abiding weirdness of the proceedings enhanced by the subtle masterplan behind it. Airy guitar work winding atop the bassline makes the penultimate “Your Fear is Giving Me Fear” a highlight, but the willful trudge of “Don’t Send Me to Rehab” is an all-too-suitable finish in style and atmosphere, not quite drawing it all together, but pushing it off a cliff instead.

Lunar Funeral on Facebook

Helter Skelter Productions / Regain Records on Bandcamp

 

Satánico Pandemonium, Espectrofilia

satanico pandemonium espectrofilia

Sludge and narcosadistic doom infest the six-track Espectrofilia from Mexico City four-piece Satánico Pandemonium, who call it an EP despite its topping 40 minutes in length. I don’t know, guys. Electric Wizard are a touchstone to the rollout of “Parábola del Juez Perverso,” which lumbers out behind opener “El Que Reside Dentro” and seems to come apart about two minutes in, only to pick up and keep going. Fucking a. Horror, exploitation, nodding riffs, raw vibes — Satánico Pandemonium have it all and then some, and if there’s any doubt Espectrofilia is worthy of pressing to a 12″ platter, like 2020’s Culto Suicida before it, whether they call it a full-length or not, the downward plunge of the title-track into the grim boogie of “Panteonera” and the consuming, bass-led closer “La Muerte del Sol” should put them to rest with due prejudice. The spirit of execution here is even meaner than the sound, and that malevolence of intent comes through front-to-back.

Satánico Pandemonium on Facebook

Satánico Pandemonium on Bandcamp

 

Van Groover, Honk if Parts Fall Off

Van Groover Honk if Parts Fall Off

Kudos to Van Groover on their know-thyself tagline: “We’re not reinventing the wheel, but we let it roll.” The German trio’s 10-track/51-minute debut, Honk if Parts Fall Off, hits its marks in the post-Truckfighters sphere of uptempo heavy fuzz/stoner rock, injecting a heaping dose of smoke-scented burl from the outset with “Not Guilty” and keeping the push going through “Bison Blues” and “Streetfood” and “Jetstream” before “Godeater” takes a darker point of view and “Roadrunner” takes a moment to catch its breath before reigniting the forward motion. Sandwiched between that and the seven-minute “Bad Monkey” is an interlude of quieter bluesy strum called “Big Sucker” that ends with a rickity-sounding vehicle — something tells me it’s a van — starts and “Bad Monkey” kicks into its verse immediately, rolling stoned all the while even in its quiet middle stretch before “HeXXXenhammer” and the lull-you-into-a-false-sense-of-security-then-the-riff-hits “Quietness” finish out. Given the stated ambitions, it’s hard not to take Honk if Parts Fall Off as it comes. Van Groover aren’t hurting anybody except apparently one or two people in the opener and maybe elsewhere in the lyrics. Stoner rock for stoner rockers.

Van Groover on Facebook

Van Groover on Bandcamp

 

Sergio Ch., Koi

Sergio Ch Koi

There is not much to which Buenos Aires-based singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Sergio Chotsourian, aka Sergio Ch., is a stranger at this point. In a career that has spanned more than a quarter-century, he’s dipped hands in experimentalist folk and drone, rock, metal, punk, goth and more in varying prolific combinations of them. Koi, his latest full-length, still finds new ground to explore, however, in bringing not only the use of programmed drum beats behind some of the material, but collaborations with his own children, Isabel Ch., who contributes vocals on the closing Nine Inch Nails cover, “Hurt,” which was also previously released as a single, and Rafael “Raffa” Ch., who provides a brief but standout moment just before with a swirling, effects-laced rap tucked away at the end of the 11-minute “El Gran Chaparral.” If these are sentimental inclusions on Chotsourian‘s part, they’re a minor indulgence to make, and along with the English-language “NY City Blues,” the partial-translation of “Hurt” into Spanish is a welcome twist among others like “Tic Tac,” which blend electronic beats and spacious guitar in a way that feels like a foreshadow of burgeoning interests and things to come.

Sergio Ch. on Facebook

South American Sludge Records on Bandcamp

 

Achachak, High Mountain

Achachak High Mountain

Less than a year removed from their debut full-length, At the Bottom of the Sea, Croatian five-piece Achachak return with the geological-opposite follow-up, High Mountain. With cuts like “Bong Goddess,” “Maui Waui,” they leave little to doubt as to where they’re coming from, but the stoner-for-stoners’-sake attitude doesn’t necessarily account either for the drifty psych of “Biggest Wave” or the earlier nod-out in “Lonewolf,” the screams in the opening title-track or the follow-that-riff iron-manliness of “”Mr. SM,” let alone the social bent to the lyrics in the QOTSA-style “Lesson” once it takes off — interesting to find them delving into the political given the somewhat regrettable inner-sleeve art — but the overarching vibe is still of a band not taking itself too seriously, and the songwriting is structured enough to support the shifts in style and mood. The fuzz is strong with them, and closer “Cozy Night” builds on the languid turn in “Biggest Wave” with an apparently self-aware moody turn. For having reportedly been at it since 1999, two full-lengths and a few others EPs isn’t a ton as regards discography, but maybe now they’re looking to make up for lost time.

Achachak on Facebook

Achachak on Bandcamp

 

Rise Up, Dead Man, Rise Up, Dead Man

Rise Up Dead Man Rise Up Dead Man

It’s almost counterintuitive to think so, but what you see is what you get with mostly-instrumentalist South African western/psych folk duo Rise Up, Dead Man‘s self-titled debut. To wit, the “Bells of Awakening” at the outset, indeed, are bells. “The Summoning,” which follows, hypnotizes with guitar and various other elements, and then, yes, the eponymous “Rise Up, Dead Man,” is a call to raise the departed. I don’t know if “Stolen Song” is stolen, but it sure is familiar. Things get more ethereal as multi-instrumentalists Duncan Park (guitar, vocals, pennywhistle, obraphone, bells, singing bowl) and William Randles (guitar, vocals, melodica, harmonium, violin, bells, singing bowl) through the serenity of “The Wind in the Well” and the summertime trip to Hobbiton that the pennywhistle in “Everything that Rises Must Converge” offers, which is complemented in suitably wistful fashion on closer “Sickly Meadow.” There’s some sorting out of aesthetic to be done here, but as the follow-up just to an improv demo released earlier this year, the drive and attention to detail in the arrangements makes their potential feel all the more significant, even before you get to the expressive nature of the songs or the nuanced style in which they so organically reside.

Rise Up, Dead Man on Facebook

Rise Up, Dead Man on Bandcamp

 

Atomic Vulture , Moving Through Silence

Atomic Vulture Moving Through Silence

Yeah, that whole “silence” thing doesn’t last too long on Moving Through Silence. The 51-minute debut long-player from Brugge, Belgium, instrumentalists Atomic Vulture isn’t through opener “Eclipse” before owing a significant sonic debt to Kyuss‘ “Thumb,” but given the way the record proceeds into “Mashika Deathride” and “Coaxium,” one suspects Karma to Burn are even more of an influence for guitarist Pascal David, bassist Kris Hoornaert and drummer Jens Van Hollebeke, and though they move through some slower, more atmospheric stretch on “Cosmic Dance” and later more extended pieces like “Spinning the Titans” (9:02) and closer “Astral Dream,” touching on prog particularly in the second half of the latter, they’re never completely removed from that abiding feel of get-down-to-business, as demonstrated on the roll of “Intergalactic Takeoff” and the willful landing on earth that the penultimate “Space Rat” brings in between “Spinning the Titans” and “Astral Dream,” emphasizing the sense of their being a mission underway, even if the mission is Atomic Vulture‘s discovery of place within genre.

Atomic Vulture on Facebook

Polderrecords on Bandcamp

 

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

LLNN Announce Unmaker out Sept. 24

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 19th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

llnn (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Once upon a long-long-ago, I was lucky enough to see Copenhagen’s LLNN in a crowded church basement at the vibe-your-face-right-off Høstsabbat 2019 (review here) in Oslo, Norway. It was a lifetime, maybe two, in the past, but the impression the band made that evening holds firm: LLNN wreck shit. It was one of the most vital takeaways from that particular weekend. Accordingly, it is with ready-to-be-crushed bones that I await the arrival of their third full-length, Unmaker, which will be out Sept. 24 through Pelagic Records and is up for preorder now with a track streaming. Also note that they’re doing a separate LP just of the ambient synth parts. That’s a killer idea.

If you weren’t in that particular basement on that particular eve, you might’ve caught LLNN at this year’s virtual Roadburn Redux festivities as part of the Pelagic showcase. Numerous videos have made their way public since that one-weekend-only semi-happening, and LLNN‘s doesn’t seem to be one based on a cursory search, but that may change in the leadup to Unmaker. It’ll be worth keeping an eye out.

Here’s info and links for the record, courtesy the PR wire:

LLNN Unmaker

LLNN To Release Crushing New Full-Length Unmaker September 24th Via Pelagic Records; New Track Streaming + Preorders Available

Copenhagen’s LLNN will unleash their third full-length, Unmaker, via Pelagic Records on September 24th. A stupefyingly unforgiving affair, Unmaker is at once abrasive and vile, at times effervescent and escharotic, and finally absolutely smothering, suffocating, terminal.

LLNN burst onto the scene with 2016’s critically acclaimed debut album Loss. But there is much more to the band’s sound. Following European tours with Bison, performances at esteemed festivals like Roskilde, Roadburn, and Arctangent and a split EP with Wovoka, LLNN returned with sophomore album Deads in 2018, an album that felt more compact, yet more complex and simultaneously organic.

The band further explored the coalescence of the guitar and bass – axis with keys player Ketil G. Sejersen’s synth layers, a direction that is now further pursued on Unmaker. It’s also the very dominant synths that evoke the feel and vibe of dystopian, post-apocalyptic, sci-fi movies, inspired by composers like Brad Fiedel, Vangalis, John Carpenter, and Stanley Kubrick as much as by sci-fi/horror games like Silent Hill, Dead Space, Halo, and Limbo.

“As huge fans of classic sci-fi scores and video games, we’re fascinated by how cinematic sound design can evoke certain emotions and let our imagination unfold into abstract storytelling,” notes Sejersen. A recently released short film gives insight into the creation process and sound design on the new record, showcasing the process from the original sound recording to the final result, a production that took place at a blacksmith using various industrial machines. “A big part of the sound design in LLNN is initially created by field recordings, and afterwards by modulating the raw audio files in post-production,” he continues. A circular metal saw was recorded and modulated — and by layering these sounds over other estranged and heavily treated recordings of industrial tools, LLNN creates their sometimes eery, sometimes harsh but always thematically coherent synth-soundscapes.

These sounds – essentially manipulations of the real world – orchestrate and exemplify the album’s central theme: Unmaker is a tale about how technology, in combination with certain power structures, is transforming humanity, essentially affecting human values, and becoming an end in itself. A tale about how progress becomes regress, depending on the angle of the observer and the standards of appraisal.

In advance of the release of Unmaker, today the band unveils first single, “Interloper.” Vocalist/guitarist Christian Bonnesen comments, “It’s a song about feeling worthless. Forever doomed to sit with the kids at the dinner table, fed with scraps from banquets of kings.”

Stream the track via YouTube at THIS LOCATION and all streaming services HERE: https://listen.pelagic-records.com/llnn-unmaker

Unmaker was produced by Jacob Bredahl at Dead Rat Studio and mastered by Brad Boatright at Audiosiege with sound design production by the Sejersen brothers at Gravitated Sound Studio.

Unmaker will be released on CD, digitally, and on vinyl in five different color variants. All variants come with a second LP featuring only the synth sounds, titled Sonic Fragments From Unmaker. These fragments on their own — exposed and without the rest of the band — constitute an unrhythmical, parallel universe to the album, and allow an interesting peak into the band’s dark cosmos.

Find preorders at THIS LOCATION: https://listen.pelagic-records.com/llnn-unmaker

Unmaker Track Listing:
1. Imperial
2. Desecrator
3. Obsidian
4. Vakuum
5. Scion
6. Interloper
7. Division
8. Forger
9. Tethers
10. Resurrection

LLNN:
Christian Bonnesen – guitar, vocals
Rasmus G. Sejersen – drums
Ketil G. Sejersen – synths
Rasmus Furbo – bass

http://www.facebook.com/llnnband
http://www.instagram.com/llnn.band
http://www.pelagic-records.com/
http://www.facebook.com/pelagicrecords
http://www.instagram.com/pelagic_records

LLNN, Unmaker (2021)

Tags: , , , , ,

Quarterly Review: Papir, Kosmodemonic, Steve Von Till, Sex Blender, Déhà, Thunder Horse, Rebreather, Melmak, Astral Magic, Crypt Monarch

Posted in Reviews on July 6th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

the-obelisk-fall-2016-quarterly-review

Day two already, huh? It’s a holiday week here in the States, which means people are on vacation or have at least enjoyed a long weekend hopefully without blowing any body parts off with fireworks or whatnot. For me, I prefer the day on rather than the day off, so we proceeded as normal yesterday in beginning the Quarterly Review. “We now return to our regularly scheduled,” and so on.

There’s a lot of good stuff here, as one would hope, and since we’re still basically at the start of this doublewide edition of the Quarterly Review — 10 down, 90 to go — I won’t delay further. Thanks for reading.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Papir, Jams

papir jams

Two sessions, three days apart, three pieces from each, resulting in six tracks running just about 80 minutes that Papir are only within their rights to have titled simply as Jams. With this outing, the Copenhagen-based psychedelic trio present their process at its most nakedly exploratory. I don’t know if they had any parts pre-planned when they went into the studio, but the record brims with spontaneity, drums jazzing out behind shimmering guitar and steadily grooving basslines. Effects are prevalent and add to the spaciousness, and the sessions from whence these songs came, whether it’s the key-led four-minute “20.01.2020 #2” or the 20-minute opener “17.01.2020 #1” — all tracks sharing the same date-and-number format as regards titles — feel vibrant and fluid in a way that goes beyond even the hazy hypnotics of “20.01.2020 #3.” Papir‘s instrumental dynamic is of course a huge part of what they do anyway, but to hear their chemistry come through in freer fashion as it does here can only be refreshing. I hope they do more like this.

Papir on Facebook

Stickman Records website

 

Kosmodemonic, Liminal Light

Kosmodemonic Liminal Light

Brooklyn outfit Kosmodemonic exist almost exclusively within genre border regions. Their second album, Liminal Light, fosters an approach that’s too considered not to be called progressive, but that owes as much to the cosmic doom of YOB as to black metal as to noise rock as to Voivod as to any number of other various ores in the metallic sphere. In their sprinting moments or in the consuming dark grandeur of centerpiece “Ipomoea,” they are pointedly individual, and cuts like “Drown in Drone” and the later slammer “Brown Crown” owe much to sheer impact as to the cerebral underpinnings of their angularity. Liminal Light is vicious but methodical, and feels executed with a firm desire to catch the audience sleeping and then blindside them with a change, be it in moving from one song to another or within one song itself, like when the penultimate “Chains of Goddess Grove” rears back from its lurching movement and spews thrashier fire in its final minute. Put these moments together and you get a record that challenges on multiple levels and is unflinchingly worth the effort of close engagement.

Kosmodemonic on Facebook

Transylvanian Tapes on Bandcamp

 

Steve Von Till, A Deep Voiceless Wilderness

Steve Von Till A Deep Voiceless Wilderness

The sixth solo offering from Neurosis guitarist/vocalist Steve Von Till is a first for being completely instrumental. The narrative — blessings and peace upon it — goes that Von Till wrote the music for 2020’s No Wilderness Deep Enough (review here) late during jetlagged nights alone on his wife’s family’s property in Germany, where her family has lived for 500 years, only to later be convinced by producer Randall Dunn to write lyrics and record vocals for the songs. A Deep Voiceless Wilderness, as the title hints, pulls those vocals back out of these re-named pieces, allowing elements like the quiet textures of keyboard and piano, horns and mellotrons to shine through in atmospheric fashion, layers of drone intertwining in mostly peaceful fashion. It is the least guitar-based record Von Till has ever done, and allows for a new kind of minimalism to surface along with an immersive melodic hum. Subdued, meditative, exploratory, kind of wonderful.

Steve Von Till website

Neurot Recordings store

 

Sex Blender, Studio Session I

Sex Blender Studio Session I

Based in Lviv, Ukraine, instrumentalist krautrock bizarros Sex Blender have two full-lengths behind them, and Studio Session I takes the consumingly fuzzed “Diver” from 2018’s Hormonizer and three cuts from 2020’s The Second Coming and turns them into a stirring 44-minute set captured on video for a livestream. Reportedly some of the arrangements are different, as will certainly happen, but as someone being introduced to the band through this material, it’s easy to be struck by the palpable sense of glee with which Sex Blender present their songs. “Crimson Master” is the shortest of the bunch at just over six minutes — it’s the only one under 11 — but even there, the manipulated keyboard sounds, drum fluidity and undercurrent of rumbling distortion push Sex Blender into a place that’s neither doom nor prog but draws from both, crawling where the subsequent “Rave Spritz” can’t help but bounce with its motorik drums and intertwined synth lines. May just be a live session, but they shine all the same.

Sex Blender on Facebook

Drone Rock Records website

 

Déhà, Cruel Words

Déhà Cruel Words

Déhà‘s third long-player Cruel Words was originally issued in 2019 and is seeing a first vinyl pressing on Burning World Records. The Brussels solo outfit has released no fewer than 17 other full-length outings — possibly more, depending on what counts as what — in the two years since these songs initially surfaced, but, well, one has to start someplace. The 2LP runs 75 minutes and includes bonus tracks — an acoustic version of opener “I Am Mine to Break,” a cover of The Gathering‘s “Saturnine” and the piano-into-post-metal “Comfort Me II” — but the highlights are on the album itself, such as the make-Amenra-blush 12-minute crux of “Dead Butterflies,” wherein a lung-crushing weight is given patient drama through its prominent keyboard layers, or the goth early going of “Pain is a Wasteland,” which seems to brood until it finally can’t take it anymore and bashes its head (and yours) into the wall. Surprisingly methodical for the manic pace at which Déhà (né Olmo Lipani) works, it makes artistry of its arrangement as well as performance and is willfully overwhelming, but engaging in that.

Déhà on Facebook

Burning World Records website

 

Thunder Horse, Chosen One

Thunder Horse Chosen One

Big riffs, big grooves, big hooks, Thunder Horse‘s second long-player, Chosen One, sees the San Antonio, Texas, outfit inherit some aspects from the members’ past outfits, whether it’s the semi-industrial vocal style of Stephen Bishop on “Among the Dead” or the classically shredding solo work of Todd Connally. With Dave Crow on bass and Jason “Shakes” West on drums, Thunder Horse elbow their way into a nod quickly on Chosen One and hold their ground decisively, with Dehumanizer-esque tones and flourish of keys throughout that closes in lead position on the outro “Remembrance” in complement to the strumming, whistling “Texas” a short while earlier. Even when they shuffle, as on the second half of “Song for the Ferryman,” Thunder Horse do it heavy, and as they did with their 2018 self-titled debut (review here), they make it hard to argue, either with the atmosphere or the sheer lumber of their output. An easy record to dig for the converted.

Thunder Horse on Facebook

Ripple Music website

 

Rebreather, Pets / Orange Crush

Rebreather Pets Orange Crush

Heads up children of — or children of children of — the 1990s, as Youngstown, Ohio’s Rebreather effectively reinterpret and heavy up two of that decade’s catchiest hooks in Porno for Pyros‘ “Pets” and R.E.M.‘s “Orange Crush.” Taking songs that, if they ever left your head from rock radio, will certainly be right back in there now, and trying to put their own spin on them is ambitious, but Rebreather have no trouble slowing down the already kinda languid “Pets” or emphasizing the repetitive urgency of “Orange Crush,” and the tonal weight they bring to both honors the original versions as well as who Rebreather are as a band, while showcasing the band’s heretofore undervalued melodies, with call and response vocal lines in both cuts nodding to their sludge/noise rock roots while moving forward from there. They chose the songs well, if nothing else, and though it’s only about 10 minutes between the two cuts, as the first new Rebeather material since their 2018 self-titled EP (discussed here), I’ll take the two covers happily.

Rebreather on Facebook

Aqualamb Records website

 

Melmak, Down the Underground

Melmak Down the Underground

Spanish duo Melmak — guitarist/vocalist Jonan Etxebarria and drummer/vocalist Igor Etxebarria — offer an awaited follow-up to their 2016 long-player Prehistorical (review here) and demonstrate immediately that five years has not dulled their aggressive tendencies. Opener “Black Room” is a minute-long grindfest, and though “Scum” finds its way into a sludgy groove, it’s not far behind. “Poser” starts out as a piano ballad but turns to its own crushing roll, while “The Scene” rumbles out its lurch, “You Really Don’t Care” samples a crying baby over a sad piano line and “Ass Kisser” offers knee-to-the-face bruiser riffing topped with echoing gutturalism that carries the intensity into the seven-minute, more spacious “Jaundiced,” which gives itself over to extremity in its second half as well, and the closing noise wash of “The Crew.” What we learn from all this is it would seem Melmak find the heavy underground wanting in violent terms. They answer that call in bludgeoning fashion.

Melmak on Facebook

Melmak on Bandcamp

 

Astral Magic, Visions of Infinity

Astral Magic Visions of Infinity

Ostensibly a solo-project from Dark Sun bassist Santtu Laakso, Astral Magic‘s debut LP, Visions of Infinity, features contributions from guitarist Martin Weaver (Wicked Lady, Doctors of Space) and Scott “Dr. Space” Heller (Doctors of Space, Øresund Space Collective), as well as Samuli Sailo on ukulele, and has been mixed and mastered and released by Heller, so perhaps the plot thickens as regards just how much of band it is. Nonetheless, Astral Magic have all the cosmos to work with, so there’s plenty of room for everybody, as Visions of Infinity harnesses classic Hawkwindian space rock and is unafraid to add droning mysticism to the ever-outward procession on “Ancient Mysteries” or “Onboard the Spaceship,” to grow playful on “I Was Abducted” or bask in cosmic serenity on “Winds of Time” and “Wizards.” Off we go, into the greater reaches of “out there.” It’s a fun ride.

Astral Magic on Facebook

Space Rock Productions website

 

Crypt Monarch, The Necronaut

Crypt Monarch The Necronaut

Costa Rican trio Crypt Monarch offer their debut full-length in the form of the three-song/36-minute The Necronaut, the sound of which makes the claim on the part of the band — bassist/vocalist Christopher De Haan, guitarist Jose Rodriguez, drummer/vocalist J.C. Zuñiga — that it was made live in a cabin in the woods easy enough to believe. Though mixed and mastered, the 15-minute opener “Morning Star Through Skull” (15:41) and ensuing rollers “Rex Meridionalis” (10:12) and “Aglaphotis” (10:08) maintain a vigilant rawness, laced with noise even as De Haan and Zuñiga come together vocally on the latter, clean singing and gurgles alike. It is stoner metal taken to a logical and not entirely unfamiliar extreme, but the murk in which Crypt Monarch revel is dense and easy to get lost within. This, more than any single riff or lumbering groove, speaks to the success of the band’s intention in crafting the record. There is no clearly marked exit.

Crypt Monarch on Facebook

Electric Valley Records website

 

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

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Jakob Skøtt of Causa Sui & El Paraiso Records

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

jakob skott causa sui

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

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

Thank you for reading and thanks to all who participate.

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Jakob Skøtt of Causa Sui & El Paraiso Records

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

Ever since I was a child, I would always wonder how things worked. “Hmm, what makes the sound come out of the speaker?” That sort of juvenile wonder. And that’s still what drives me: “How do you play the drums to get that sound?,” “How do you design an OBI-strip for a record cover?” Whatever I’m doing, I’m driven by that sense of empirical wonderment — trying to get to the bottom of it, sort of emptying the pool one spoonful at a time, haha.

Describe your first musical memory.

The “Dueling Banjos” theme from the movie Deliverance. My brother and I used to dance around while that played, going faster and faster. When I saw the movie years later, I realized just how twisted it was. “Squeal like a pig.” But I remember the inbred banjo boy was on the cover as well, so that’s probably why it really stuck with me from an early age.

Describe your best musical memory to date.

Motorpsycho live in 1997 — I had bought their CD Trust Us on the recommendation of the guy in the record shop the same day. There were like eight or 10 people in the audience, and the friend from high school I came there with left when he met a girl at the bar before the show. But I stayed and they just slayed it. I love the way they used to mix the vibes of indie bands like Pavement with stoner rock and psychedelic stuff — something very few bands do today (not even Motorpsycho). So yeah, if you know a band that mixes Pavement and Sonic Youth with heavy riffs (may as well throw in some Popol Vuh?), send me a note!

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

Many of my beliefs are constantly tested, so I try to spend more effort remodeling my beliefs, than hanging onto them. But I still feel like working with music and being able to make it and put it out is a gift, so my main assumption is that I’m not a musician and not gonna release any more music ever — since, you know, family, full-time job, bills, etc. I often go for months and months and not play a single note. So every time I’m able to work on music it’s in spite of that, so my own challenging my beliefs, come from hard work of actually making or putting out music.

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

Hmm, I think that’s a dual-edged sword. On one hand, it’s great to have a driving force and sense of wonderment. But on the other hand, the quest for constant rejuvenation could keep you from refining a few good ideas to become even better. I think a lot of bands end up on this course: They start out really hungry and humble, and want to pour every ounce of their creative energy into making the best thing they can in the best way possible. Perfect. But then they’ve done a few albums, have a fan base, and they want to take it to the next level.

Well that’s another quest all together. Spending weeks in the studio, more layers, mixing with more expensive producers, pondering over artwork, shopping for labels — whatever way you can come up with to add unnecessary layers of complexities to your work – you’re pushing for something that isn’t happening organically. So it becomes an artistic struggle, rather than a natural progression. And I think this fixation on “progression” is what leads us there — most people are probably afraid to stagnate. But what I’ve found is that even trying to do what I did yesterday, I’ll do it differently today — it feels the same, but the results are different. And that’s when artistic progression feels meaningful — going along with the natural current in whatever stream you’re in. It’s not something you should have to actively pursue.

How do you define success?

I find that personal happiness has more and more to do with it, rather than any sort of commercial success. Some of the releases I’m most proud of hasn’t sold more than 300 or 500 copies. But it’s a success that it came into the world. So having that personal freedom to control what I do feels like success to me. Again, it’s a privilege to be able to make music. I’m grateful whenever it’s a part of my life.

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

When you get kids and they get sick or hurt, that sucks. Also I wish I hadn’t seen the face of depression in people I know.

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

I’d really like to be involved with making a book. Preferably writing it at some point, but if that doesn’t pan out, then just doing the typography and cover. Or maybe doing a graphic book — perhaps when we hit 100 releases on El Paraiso?! We had the 10 year anniversary in January, but we didn’t do anything. So yeah, in just 35 releases we’ll at epr100. Shit! I should start putting it together now! JJ, you can write the prologue [I’d be honored. — ed.]!

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

I think art in the broadest sense – consuming, creating or curating – makes your mind more elastic! It makes your brain work in different ways.

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

Looking forward to seeing Dune. Also finishing Liu Cixin’s Three-body Problem an epic sci-fi trilogy starting in the 1960s ending at the end of time (!!!) – sort of a Chinese modern day version of Asimov’s Foundation. I’m also looking forward to going skateboarding with my son again, since I fell and stubbed my toe and it’s all blue. And I have some Umberto Lenzi eurocrime Blu Rays in the mail that should arrive any day now – love those movies! Gonna watch them with a tasty hazy double IPA. Cheers everyone!

https://www.facebook.com/causasuiband
https://www.instagram.com/causasuis/
https://www.facebook.com/elparaisorecords
https://www.instagram.com/elparaisorecords/
https://soundcloud.com/elparaiso
https://elparaisorecords.com/

Tags: , , , , ,

The Sonic Dawn Covering Dave Bixby on New Single “666” out June 4

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 31st, 2021 by JJ Koczan

Stay with me on this one, because it’s more of a tangle than the usual band-has-release thing. The Sonic Dawn are releasing a new single, covering “666,” which originally appeared on Dave Bixby‘s 1969 album, Ode to Quetzalcoatl. The single isn’t part of a new The Sonic Dawn offering though. Rather, it will appear on an upcoming compilation/collaboration work Dave Bixby’s Harbinger Orchestra, which will feature covers like The Sonic Dawn‘s, among others, and new Bixby originals. Sounds weird? Yeah, well, it probably is. You got a problem with weird?

It gets weirder in that the Harbinger Orchestra is to be an ongoing project with an open sphere of collaborators — you can apply on Bixby‘s site, linked below — and hear The Sonic Dawn’s “666” starting this coming Friday.

Info all follows:

the sonic dawn 666 single art

DAVE BIXBY ANNOUNCES HARBINGER ORCHESTRA COMPILATION ALBUM. HEAR THE FIRST SINGLE, THE SONIC DAWN’S COVER OF “666” OUT 6.4

DAVE BIXBY’S HARBINGER ORCHESTRA ALBUM FEATURING FIRST NEW STUDIO RECORDINGS FROM DAVE HIMSELF IN OVER 50 YEARS AND NEW ARTISTS COVERING HIS PSYCH FOLK CLASSICS

AVAILABLE FALL 2021 PRESSED BY GUERSSEN DISTRIBUTED BY HARBINGER RECORDS

LISTEN TO SONIC DAWN SINGLE – OUT 6.4
(Art by Robin Gnista)

On June 4th, Harbinger Records will release “666” by The Sonic Dawn, a cover of the Dave Bixby original from his first record, 1969’s Ode to Quetzalcoatl. This interpretation is the lead single off of the upcoming Dave Bixby’s Harbinger Orchestra Compilation. The album is composed of covers of songs from Bixby’s first and second albums, Ode to Quetzalcoatl (1969) and Harbinger Second Coming (1970), as well as 4 new Dave Bixby originals, marking the first official Dave Bixby release in over 50 years. The covers on the album have been recorded by an international collective of musicians known as the Harbinger Orchestra.

In September of 2020, acid-soaked psychedelic folk legend and onetime cult hymnist Dave Bixby was struggling alongside thousands of musicians with the creatively stifling effects of the pandemic. Discouraged by these creative barriers and the emotional weight of a world on fire, he hung up his guitar and abandoned his notepad, retreating from his music. In the following months, Dave began correspondence with Copenhagen-based psychedelic rock band The Sonic Dawn who he had met years earlier while performing in Denmark. The trio were considering recording their own interpretation of one of his early tracks. “The idea that my encounter with The Sonic Dawn all those years ago could result in such a fantastic relationship in a time as dire as this is serendipitous. I consider them minstrels and troubadours of the rock renaissance and they have created something truly special from a song I had nearly forgotten about.” (Dave Bixby, 2021).

A short time after that, an artist from Mexico City, Ana Karen G. Barajas of Karen y Los Remedios contacted Dave about covering another of his songs. Dave was suddenly very aware of the presence his music had around the globe and the fog muffling his creativity dispersed. He would assemble a group of musicians unrestricted by geography, each adoring of his music. He appointed the collective “The Harbinger Orchestra” and in December of 2020 announced it publicly, launching the companion project Harbinger Magazine the following month.

Read Harbinger Magazine: https://davebixby.com/harbinger-magazine/

Dave Bixby’s Harbinger Orchestra is simultaneously the culmination of 50 years of Dave Bixby’s cult influence on psychedelic and folk music as well as the genesis of a new era in his legacy that expands beyond the mythos of the man and embraces the sonic and thematic lineage of his music. While his early work is undoubtedly folk, it is rooted in his mortality-altering experience with LSD which seeps into his music as beautiful, lonely, and occasionally optimistic psychedelia. The Harbinger Orchestra compilation is a distillation of his early work with artists such as The Sonic Dawn approaching their interpretation with purist psychedelia while Dave refines themes explored in his early work with earned wisdom on 4 new tracks.

The album is a meditation on legacy, rebirth, and the cyclical nature of influence. Dave has said that he doesn’t feel ownership over the songs he wrote on those first two albums because he has led so many lives since then and the person he was is so far away from who he is now, effectively making Dave Bixby’s Harbinger Orchestra a passing of the torch.

https://open.spotify.com/artist/0qCSLDFoRtGoaHHSxfuMay
https://www.facebook.com/thesonicdawn/
https://thesonicdawn.bandcamp.com/
https://www.instagram.com/thesonicdawn/
http://thesonicdawn.com/

The Sonic Dawn, Enter the Mirage (2020)

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Rift Giant Announce May 1 Release for Cataclysm

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

Rift Giant

Strong sense of High on Fire-style charge to Cataclysm, which is the second full-length from Copenhagen-based duo Rift Giant. They don’t have a song streaming that I could find, but the album is out May 1 as the follow-up to 2019’s Avalanche, and that you can hear below, provided you’re so inclined. Burly shouts, forceful delivery, and they pepper in some more drawn-out riffs to offset the push-push-push intensity as well, so more the better for them. Planet K Records has the release, and it should be noted that guitarist/bassist/vocalist Matthew Pither, apparently of UK origin, also plays in the Danish death-doom outfit Wokeh, who released their debut album, Where Ancients Tread, in 2020, as well as the solo outfit Epoch’s Ruin. Nice to be productive.

Of those, Rift Giant has been around the longest with a five-year tenure, and they clearly know what they’re going for in terms of sound — giant riff(t)s.

From the PR wire:

Rift Giant Cataclysm

RIFT GIANT Announces Cataclysm Album Details

Denmark Stoner/Sludge RIFT GIANT is stoked to announce that their new album Cataclysm will be released on May, 1st via Planet K Records. The album is going to be shortly available as a jewel case and in digital download.

Rift Giant is a 2-piece band based in Copenhagen, Denmark. Together, guitarist/bassist/vocalist Matthew Pither (UK) and drummer Thomas Ramkilde (Denmark) focus on creating powerful, driving riffs interspersed with heavy, groovy melodies. Founded in 2016, the duo writes music with lyrics inspired by the fantasy literature genre; mammoths, demons, witches, and, of course, giants, feature prominently in their world.

Cataclysm has been recorded by the band himself in an adapted World War 2 bunker. Mixed by Patrick Fragtrup at Wolf Rider Sound Production and mastered by Lasse Ballade at Ballade Studios (Copenhagen). Artwork by Adam C Design & Illustration.

For fans of Doctor Smoke, High on Fire, and Mastodon

Track Listing:
1. Into the Rift (5:09)
2. Hubris (5:37)
3. Queen Witch (7:49)
4. Slaves, She Made Us (5:47)
5. To Three (5:59)
6. Blocks Out the Sun (5:51)
7. Rift Giant (7:34)
8. Cataclysm (3:58)

Line-Up:
Matthew Pither – Guitar, Bass, Vocals
Thomas Ramkilde – Drums

https://www.facebook.com/riftgiantdk
https://www.instagram.com/riftgiant/
https://bit.ly/3msizwC
https://planetkrecords.bandcamp.com/

Rift Giant, Avalanche (2019)

Tags: , , , , ,

Quarterly Review: Sonic Flower, Demon Head, Rakta & Deafkids, Timo Ellis, Heavy Feather, Slow Draw, Pilot Voyager, The Ginger Faye Bakers, Neromega, Tung

Posted in Reviews on April 2nd, 2021 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-spring-2019

Friday morning and the Spring 2021 Quarterly Review draws to a close. It’s been a good one, and though there are probably enough albums on my desktop to make it go another few days, better to quit while I’m ahead in terms of not-being-so-tired-I’m-angry-at-everything-I’m-hearing. In any case, as always, I hope you found something here you enjoy. I have been pleasantly surprised on more than a few occasions, especially by debuts.

We wrap with more cool stuff today and since I’m on borrowed time as it is, let me not delay.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Sonic Flower, Rides Again

sonic flower rides again

Like Church of Misery‘s groove but feel kind of icky with all those songs about serial killers? Legit. Say hello to Tatsu Mikami‘s Sonic Flower. Once upon a 2003, the band brought all the boogie and none of the slaughter of Tatsu‘s now-legendary Sabbathian doom rock outfit to a self-titled debut (reissue review here), and Rides Again is the lost follow-up from 2005, unearthed like so many of the early ’70s forsaken classics that clearly inspired it. With covers of The Meters and Graham Central Station, Sonic Flower makes their funky intentions plain as day, and the blowout drums and full-on fuzz they bring to those cuts as well as the five originals on the short-but-satisfying 28-minute offering is a win academically and for casual fans alike. You ain’t gonna hear “Jungle Cruise” or their take on “Earthquake” and come out complaining, is what I’m saying. This is the kind of record that makes you buy more records.

Sonic Flower on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds on Bandcamp

 

Demon Head, Viscera

demon head viscera

With Viscera, Copenhagen’s Demon Head make their debut on Metal Blade Records. It is their fourth album overall, the follow-up to 2019’s Hellfire Ocean Void (review here), and it continues the five-piece’s enduring exploration of darker places. Dramatic vocals recount grim narratives over backing instrumentals that are less doom at the outset with “Tooth and Nail” and “The Feline Smile” than goth, and atmospheric pieces like “Arrows” and “The Lupine Choir” and “A Long, Groaning Descent” and “Wreath” and certainly the closer “The Triumphal Chariot of Antimony” further the impression that Viscera, though its title conjures raw guts, is instead an elaborate entirety — if perhaps one of raw guts — and meant to be taken in its 36-minute whole. Demon Head make that LP-friendly runtime a progression down into reaches they’d not until this point gone, tapping sadness for its inherent beauty.

Demon Head on Thee Facebooks

Metal Blade Records website

 

Rakta & Deafkids, Live at Sesc Pompeia

Rakta Deafkids Live at Sesc Pompeia

Next time someone asks you what the future sounds like, you’ll have a good answer for them. Combined into a six-piece band, Brazilian outfits Rakta and Deafkids harness ambience and space-punk thrust into a sound that is born of a past that hasn’t yet happened. Their Live at Sesc Pompeia LP follows on from a 2019 two-songer, but it’s in the live performance that the spirit of this unity really shines through, and from opener/longest track (immediate points) “Miragem” through the semi-industrialized effects swirl of “Templo do Caos,” into the blower-noise dance party “Sigilo,” the weirdo-chug-jam of “Forma” and the space rock breakout “Flor de Pele” and the percussed buzz and echoing howls of “Espirais,” they are equal parts encompassing and singular. It is not to be ignored, and though there are moments that border on unlistenable, you can hear from the wailing crowd at the end that to be in that room was to witness something special. As a document of that, Live at Sesc Pompeia feels like history in the making.

Rakta on Thee Facebooks

Deafkids on Thee Facebooks

Rapid Eye Records website

 

Timo Ellis, Death is Everywhere

Timo Ellis Death is Everywhere

A madcap, weighted-but-anti-genre sensibility comes to life in supernova-experimentalist fashion throughout the four songs of Timo EllisDeath is Everywhere. The lockdown-era EP from Ellis (Netherlands, Yoko Ono, Cibo Matto, on and on) makes post-modern shenanigans out of apocalypses inner and outer, and from lines like “this bridal shower is bumming me out” in the unabashedly hooky “Vampire Rodeo” to “the earth will still breathe fire without you!” in “Left Without an Answer,” the stakes are high despite the flittering-in-appreciation-of-the-absurd mood of the tracks themselves. The title-track and “Evolve or Die” blend sonic heft and the experimental pop movement that “Vampire Rodeo” sets forth — the third cut is positively manic and maniacally positive — while “Left Without an Answer” almost can’t help but be consuming as it rolls into a long fade leaving intertwining vocals lines as the last to go, telling the listener to “learn to say goodbye” without making it easy. Won’t be for everyone, doesn’t want to be. Is expression for itself. Feels genuine in that, and admirable.

Timo Ellis on Thee Facebooks

Timo Ellis on Bandcamp

 

Heavy Feather, Mountain of Sugar

heavy feather mountain of sugar

With not-at-all-subtle nods to Humble Pie and Ennio Morricone in its opening tracks, Heavy Feather‘s second LP, Mountain of Sugar, has boogie to spare. No time is wasted on the 38-minute/11-track follow-up to 2019’s Débris & Rubble (review here), and true to the record’s title, it’s pretty sweet. The collection pits retro mindset against modern fullness in its harmonica-laced, duly-fuzzed title-track, and goes full-Fleetwood on “Come We Can Go” heading into a side B that brings a highlight in the soft-touch-stomp of “Rubble and Debris” and an earned bit of Southern-styled turn in “Sometimes I Feel” that makes a fitting companion to all the bluesy vibes throughout, particularly those of the mellow “Let it Shine” earlier. The Stockholm outfit knew what they were doing last time out too, but you can hear their process being refined throughout Mountain of Sugar, and even its most purposefully familiar aspects come across with a sense of will and playfulness.

Heavy Feather on Thee Facebooks

The Sign Records on Thee Facebooks

 

Slow Draw, Yellow & Gray

slow draw yellow and gray

Don’t tell him I told you so, but Slow Draw is starting to sound an awful lot like a band. What began as a drone/soundscaping project from Stone Machine Electric drummer/noisemaker Mark Kitchens has sprouted percussive roots of its own on Yellow & Gray, and as Kitchens explores textures of psychedelic funk, mellow heavy and even a bit of ’70s proggy homage in “Sylvia” ahead of the readily Beck-ian jam “Turntable” and acousti-drone closer “A Slow Move,” the band-vibe is rampant. I’m going to call Yellow & Gray a full-length despite the fact that it’s 24 minutes long because its eight songs inhabit so many different spaces between them, but however you want to tag it, it demonstrates the burgeoning depth of Kitchens‘ project and how it’s grown in perhaps unanticipated ways. If this is what he’s been doing in isolation — as much as Texas ever shuttered for the pandemic — his time has not been wasted.

Slow Draw on Thee Facebooks

Slow Draw on Bandcamp

 

Pilot Voyager, Nuclear Candy Bar

plot voyager nuclear candy bar

Freak! Out! The 66-minute Nuclear Candy Bar from Hungarian psychedelicists Pilot Voyager might end mostly drifting with the 27-minute “23:61,” but much of the four tracks prior to that finale are fuzz-on-go-go-go-out-out-out heavy jams, full in tone and improv spirit however planned their course may or may not actually be. To say the least, “Fuzziness” lives up to its name, as guitarist/founder Ákos Karancz — joined by bassist Bence Ambrus (who also mastered) and drummers Krisztián Megyeri and István Baumgartner (the latter only on the closer) — uses a relatively earthbound chug as a launchpad for further space/krautrocking bliss, culminating in a scorching cacophony that’s the shortest piece on the record at just under seven minutes. If you make it past the molten heat of the penultimate title-track, there’s no turning away from “23:61,” as the first minute of that next day pulls you in from the outset, a full-length flow all unto itself. More more more, yes yes yes. Alright you get the point.

Pilot Voyager on Thee Facebooks

Psychedelic Source Records on Bandcamp

 

The Ginger Faye Bakers, Camaro

the ginger faye bakers camaro

Sit with The Ginger Faye BakersCamaro EP for a little bit. Don’t just listen to the first track, or even the second, third or fourth, on their own, but take a few minutes to put it all together. Won’t take long, the thing’s only 17 minutes long, and in so doing you’ll emerge with a more complex picture of who they are as a band. Yeah, you hear the opening title-cut and think early-Queens of the Stone Age-style desert riffing, maybe with a touch of we’re-actually-from-the-Northeast tonal thickness, but the garage-heavy of “The Creeps” feels self-aware in its Uncle Acid-style swing, and as the trio move through the swinging “The Master” and “Satan’s Helpers,” the last song drawing effectively from all sides, the totality of the release becomes all the more sinister for the relatively straight-ahead beginning just a short time earlier. Might be a listen or two before it sinks in, but they’ve found a niche for themselves here and one hopes they continue to follow where their impulses lead them.

The Ginger Faye Bakers on Thee Facebooks

The Ginger Faye Bakers on Bandcamp

 

Neromega, Nero Omega

Neromega Nero Omega

If you’re not yet keeping an eye on Regain Records offshoot Helter Skelter Productions, Rome’s Neromega are a fervent argument for doing so. The initials-only cultish five-piece are Italian as much in their style of doom as they are in geography, and across their four-song Nero Omega debut EP, they run horror organ and classic heavy rock grooves alongside each other while nodding subtly at more extreme fare like the death ‘n’ roll rumble in closer “Un Posto” or the dirt-coated low end that caps “Pugnale Ardore,” the drifting psych only moments ago quickly forgotten in favor of renewed shuffle. Eight-minute opener “Solitudine,” might be the highlight as well as the longest inclusion on the 24-minute first-showing, but it’s by no means the sum total of what the band have on offer, as they saunter through giallo, psychedelia, doom, heavy riffs and who knows what else to come, they strike an immediately individual atmospheric presence even while actively toying with familiar sounds. The EP is cohesive enough to make me wonder what their initials are.

Neromega on Thee Facebooks

Helter Skelter Productions website

 

Tung, Bleak

TUNG BLEAK

Some of the made-even-bigger-by-echo vocals from guitarist Craig Kasamis might remind of Maurice Bryan Giles from Red Fang, but Ventura, California’s Tung are up chasing down a different kind of party on 2020’s Bleak, though Kasamis, guitarist David Briceno (since replaced by Bill Bensen), bassist Nick Minasian and drummer Rob Dean have a strong current of West Coast noise rock in what they’re doing as well in “Runaway,” a lurcher like “Spit” later on or the run-till-it-crashes finisher “Fallen Crown,” which the only song apart from the bookending opener “Succession Hand” to have a title longer than a single word. Still, Tung have their own, less pop-minded take on brashness, and this debut album leaves the bruises behind to demonstrate its born-from-hardcore lineage. Their according lack of frills makes Bleak all the more effective at getting its point across, and while they’d probably tell you their sound is nothing fancy, it’s fancy enough to stomp all over your ears for about half an hour, and that’s as fancy as it needs to be. Easy to dig even in its more aggressive moments.

Tung on Thee Facebooks

Plain Disguise Records website

 

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

Album Review: Øresund Space Collective, Universal Travels

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

oresund space collective universal travels

A look at jams past and jams still to come, Øresund Space Collective‘s Universal Travels is a collection that builds a bridge between some of the space-improv outfit’s earliest days — a studio session in 2007 — and a vinyl edition to be released of 2011’s Sleeping with the Sunworm. It is curated by none other than Øresund Space Collective synthesist and band leader Scott “Dr. Space” Heller himself, and I don’t think the wordplay on “universal” in the title is an accident. As much as they may be journeying across an untamable cosmos of their own sonic creation, so too are these tracks universally journeying. If anything, Universal Travels demonstrates that what one might call the “Locus Coeruleus” — the heart of the brain, as it were — of Øresund Space Collective has always been the outward intention of its craft. Comprised of six tracks totaling a pack-as-much-onto-the-disc-as-possible 79 minutes, the offering is made exclusively via four-panel digipak CD in order to help fund the construction of a studio in which Heller presumably will continue his and the Collective‘s mission of exploratory and improvisational vibing.

These are peculiar times for the interplay of art and commerce in underground rock and roll and its myriad microgenres. Like so much of everything, bands, labels, promotional concerns have been largely devastated by global pandemic financially — not to mention any loss of life — and have had to pivot in order to find ways to continue. That’s not quite what’s happening here. Øresund Space Collective have already wholeheartedly embraced the audience-engagement possibilities of digital media, offering Bandcamp subscription exclusives and self-bootlegs through the Internet Archive for any listeners who’d chase them down, as well as a steady stream of studio jams carved out of various sessions. As the liner notes (by Heller) describe, “Everytime (sic) we have entered into the studio we have recorded between 3-10 hours of material. Over a period of months some members decide what is the best material and we choose to mix this and create albums.” Thus, what one generally hears on an Øresund Space Collective studio album isn’t so much tracked as carved out. A glimpse at the whole. There have been several hour-plus jams unveiled in their entirety along the way — the aforementioned Sleeping with the Sunworm is one, divided originally into three 20-minute parts flowing together — but Universal Travels takes that sense of curation one step further, covering different sessions with various players involved.

The running order as is would not work on any other format — that is to say, if Heller wanted to do a vinyl at some point of Universal Travels, it would require editing and/or reorganization — but it effectively gives an as-it-happened feel to the proceedings, which is common among Øresund Space Collective releases. I know I’ve remarked on occasion after occasion about the band’s direct line to the creative process; their intention to capture a fleeting improvisational moment and find the treasure therein. It’s an ethic that’s grown no less admirable with time, and on the most basic level of listening, whether a session happened yesterday or 14 years ago matters little if at all. “Locus Coeruleus” and “Jam 26” open to immediate fluidity and breadth of vibe. The latter is more serene than the former, though perhaps outdone in that by the lap steel and sitar pastoralism of “Jam 12,” which begins the procession of tracks recorded in 2010. “Jam 12” itself was issued on the vinyl of Give Your Brain a Rest From the Matrix in 2012, and the subsequent “Anthem Rock,” “Santana Jam” and “Awaken” are from the say day of the same session. The same moment being captured, if you will.

oresund space collective universal travels inside

Synth and keys and guitar and sitar and effects gently intertwine on the 10-minute “Jam 12,” and as one might expect from the title — Øresund Space Collective have never lacked self-awareness, like many instrumental bands, when it comes to using titles to provide context or indicate the kind of atmosphere they’re going for in naming their tracks — the subsequent 20-minute splurge of “Anthem Rock” is somewhat more active. It has drums, for one. It also builds to a satisfying peak topped with a guitar solo worthy of both words in the title, as the group assembled careens wildly only to bring itself down at the finish with grace and a last swirl of keys and synth. “Santana Jam” likewise establishes its mood, the keys and guitar locking through a progression that, if it’s not actually Santana — and it might be — is close enough to it. At just over seven minutes, it’s the shortest inclusion on Universal Travels, and has a playful and meandering feel even as the drums enter for solidification. They end up elsewhere atop the original progression, and the jam seems like the kind of toss-off stretch that might happen while players are standing around waiting for something else. You don’t hear that kind of thing on records all the time, but it makes sense with Øresund Space Collective.

“Awaken” is the final piece and, like “Anthem Rock” before it, accounts for 20 minutes of runtime. It begins motorik in the bass and drums and boasts a winding guitar line in the forward position backed by periods of intermittent synth in and out. A mellower trip and wash take hold as it moves through the midsection, and a satisfying stretch of dream-drone melody and gradual deconstruction take hold in the second half. What’s happening there? I’m not entirely sure, but it’s easy to get lost in, and that would seem to be the idea. Certainly Øresund Space Collective are no strangers to such fare, but it’s worth noting that for being an 11-year-old recording, “Awaken” still feels fresh and retains the vibrancy of its creation. That is true of much if not all of Øresund Space Collective‘s work — they are a band out of time as much as out of space — but it is the fundraising/studio-building aspect that is at root behind this collection, and that’s worth acknowledging both as a reality of its making and a symbol of the group’s ongoing commitment to further adventures in sound. There are no shortage of places one might place one’s cash in a spirit of donation these days, but proportionally few that offer such potential in reward for doing so.

Øresund Space Collective on The Facebooks

Øresund Space Collective on Bandcamp

Øresund Space Collective website

Space Rock Productions website

Tags: , , , ,