Dizygote Announce Fathoms EP out Aug. 6; Premiere “Drowning”

Posted in audiObelisk, Whathaveyou on June 22nd, 2021 by JJ Koczan

dizygote

Floriffian two-piece Dizygote will issue their new EP, Fathoms, on Aug. 6 as their first outing for Desert Records. The duo’s debut full-length, Freedom, Incorporated, was issued in 2020 and the band recently announced their signing with all due stoked-ness. Comprised of the father and son pair of Ned and Ethan DuRant, who respectively handle guitar/vocals and drums/backing vocals, the band weave various forms of hard and heavy through their grooving context, a song like “Children of Talos” from the last album neither shying away from thrash nor fully committing at the expense of the later feedback-soaked sludgery.

To go with the announcement of Fathoms, the band are premiering the track “Drowning,” and they were kind enough to provide the lyrics with it as well as some comment from Ned giving a track-by-track through the impending four-song release. Note Steven Yoyoda cover, if only because it rules.

Enjoy:

Dizygote, “Drowning” track premiere

dizygote fathoms

Ned DuRant on Fathoms:

Stuck in the mire of the goddamned pandemic, fighting boredom and depression we needed an outlet so we wrote and wrote and wrote. With no idea when we’d be able to play out again, we decided to experiment writing songs with more parts than we had players. In the studio we both layered guitar tracks like stacks of roast beef through lots of different amp and cab combinations. You can hear Ethan’s seven string work here and there. I (Ned) think we flipped a coin to see who’d play bass on one of the tracks… it’s all fuzzy and we can’t remember exactly how that went down.

These are the first songs we’ve written with actual guitar solos and we kinda dig it. When I recorded the solo for Poison Garden, I wanted a classic-sounding tone, so I went straight into the amp and cranked the gain… no pedals.

“Fathoms” is our antidote for the pandemic blues. Poison Garden is a reflection on why America ain’t so great. Drowning was inspired by accounts I’ve read about near-death experiences. Keeping things experimental, we added a metalcore breakdown in the middle of Stimulate Me! – a song inspired by the boneheaded madness surrounding the pandemic. Finally, Ethan released his inner demons on Out For Blood… another nod to the early days of punk rock.

Drowning
Lost in the open raging sea
Dark as the ink on the page
A cold only known by the sage

Terrified by the thrashing unleashed
The lightning is Zeus in a rage
Battered by sheer crashing waves

Choking and hoping your god hears your plea
Your prayers have you locked in a cage
Drowning in sins that you’ve waged

Panicking wild, you have to breathe
Your lungs fill so quickly you drift of to sleep

The body knows which way’s down
It’s a memory the moment you drown

DIZYGOTE are a father and son loud and heavy metal duo from Cape Coral, FL. Ned plays guitar and sings, while Ethan smashes the drums and handles backup vocals. Ned is a disciple of classic punk rock and all things loud and heavy, while Ethan dabbles with the technicalities of prog and newer metal genres. Their sound is a riot of sludge, doom, punk, thrash and prog.

Produced by Howard “Merlin” Wulkan at Farmadelica Sound, Bokeelia, FL during the goddamned pandemic.
Cover & CD artwork by Steven Yoyada
Inside photo by Ned
Back cover still shot from video produced by Liam & Cameron Wright

Dizygote is:
Ned DuRant: Guitar/Bass/Vocals
Ethan DuRant: Drums/Guitar/Bass/backing vocals

https://www.facebook.com/dizygotetheband/
https://www.instagram.com/dizygoteband/
https://twitter.com/Dizygote1
https://dizygoteband.bandcamp.com/
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https://desertrecords.bandcamp.com/
https://desertrecords.bigcartel.com/

Dizygote, Freedom, Incorporated (2020)

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Quarterly Review: Jess and the Ancient Ones, Dread Sovereign, Space Smoke, If it Kills You, Clara Engel, Maya Mountains, Cave of Swimmers, Blind Monarch, Cancervo, Sahara

Posted in Reviews on March 30th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-spring-2019

Hello Day Two of the Quarterly Review. It started by oversleeping by about an hour, but so it goes. Yesterday went about as smoothly as I can ask a QR day to go, so I’m hoping that today follows suit despite the rough start. There’s nothing like building some momentum once you get going with these writeups. It’s about as close to ‘in the zone’ as I get. Trance of productivity.

As always, I hope you find something here you dig. Today’s round is good and all over the place, so maybe everyone’ll get lucky. Here goes.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Jess and the Ancient Ones, Vertigo

jess and the ancient ones vertigo

More than a decade on from their founding, Finland’s Jess and the Ancient Ones are an established brand when it comes to cult psych rock, and their fourth full-length, issued through Svart, is gleeful to the point of witch-cackling on “Talking Board” (think Ouija) and offers rousing classically-stylized hooks on fellow early cuts like opener “Burning of the Velvet Fires” and “World Paranormal” as well as side B’s “Born to Kill,” the Dr. Strangelove-sampling “Summer Tripping Man” and the organ-washed “What’s on Your Mind” ahead of an 11-minute prog rock grand finale in “Strange Earth Illusion” that feels very much like the impetus toward which the album has been driving all along. Relax, you’re in the hands of professional mystics, and their acid rock vibes are made all the more grand by Jess‘ soulful delivery atop the ever-clever arrangements of guitar, organ, bass, drums, samples, and so on. This kind of cultish lysergic fare has never been and never will be for everyone. Listening to Vertigo, you can only really wonder why that is.

Jess and the Ancient Ones on Thee Facebooks

Svart Records website

 

Dread Sovereign, Alchemical Warfare

dread sovereign alchemical warfare

Metallic overload! Irish assault supreme! All sentences end with exclamation points! A new Dread Sovereign record doesn’t come along every day, or year, but the Dublin trio certainly make it count when one does. Alchemical Warfare is the third LP from the Alan Averill-fronted outfit, and with Johnny “Con Ri” King (also Conan) on drums and guitarist Bones Huse (also Wizards of Firetop Mountain), the band tear through nine tracks and 51 minutes of doom-colored metallurgy, throwing unrepentant fists in the air under darkened, irony-free skies. By the time 10-minute post-intro opener “She Wolves of the Savage Season” is over, if you’re not ready to quit your job and join the legion about to set march to “The Great Beast We Serve,” it’s no fault of the band’s. “Nature is the Devil’s Church” was the lead single and is a standout hook, but the grandiosity of “Ruin Upon the Temple Mount”‘s Candlemassy riffing is too good to be ignored, and they finish with a Bathory cover, because fucking a, that’s why.

Dread Sovereign on Thee Facebooks

Metal Blade Records website

 

Space Smoke, Aurora Dourada

Space Smoke Aurora Dourada

The debut EP from Brazilian instrumentalist trio Space Smoke runs all of 12 minutes, but that’s long enough for Aurora Dourada to give an impression of where the band are coming from. Three distinct tracks — “Magia Cerimonial,” “Interludio” and “Corpo Solar” — comprise the outing, and the middle one is indeed an interlude, so it’s really the opener and closer doing the heavy lifting. “Magia Cerimonia” starts off with a sense of foreboding but makes its way instead into hypnotic repetition, bordering on a meditative lumber that doesn’t stick around long enough to be redundant, and with the interlude as a breath between, the eight-minute “Corpo Solar” rounds out as the most substantial piece of the outing, drifting guitar over languid drums and bass, dreamy and sopping wet with reverb. They push it heavier than its quiet beginning, of course, but even the howling lead work near the finish maintains the inviting and immersive vibe with which they set out. Might be a blip of things to come, but it’s a blip worth checking out. Mini-trip.

Space Smoke on Instagram

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If it Kills You, Infinite Hum

if it kills you infinite hum

Infinite Hum is the striking debut LP from Bakersfield, California, post-hardcore heavy three/four-piece If it Kills You, who along with the periodic charred guest vocals on half the six tracks, bring together a quick assemblage for a 12″ that readily alternates between melodic sway and shoutier roll. They groove despite unpredictable turns, and their blend of hefted tones and punker-grown-up melodies makes a welcome impression on opener “We Don’t Belong Here” or “Moving Target.” Starts and stops and a bit of winding lead work give “Repeat Resolve” an edge of noise rock — more than an edge, actually; kind of like the flat side of a brick — but If it Kills You never push to one side or the other entirely, and as the screams return for later in “Repeat Resolve” and closer “Projections,” charged every time with and succeeding at pushing a crescendo over the top, the band manage to bring sincerity and structure together with what sounds like experienced hands. Don’t be fooled by “first album”; they know what they’re doing.

If it Kills You on Thee Facebooks

Killer Kern on Bandcamp

 

Clara Engel, A New Skin

Clara Engel A New Skin

I’m not sure if anyone still calls this kind of thing “neo-folk,” but I am sure I don’t care. The sense of atmosphere Clara Engel puts into her latest album, A New Skin, beginning with the shift between minimal guitar and keyboard on “Starry Eyed Goat,” uses negative space no less effectively than does the mostly-black cover art, and the eight-song/46-minute outing that ensues alternates between emotive and wondrously ambient, suited to the home recording done during (presumed) isolation in Fall 2020. Engel handles all instrumentation herself and remains indelibly human in her sometimes-layered vocal delivery all the while, speaking to a building-out process of the material, but one does not get the sense in listening to “Night Tide” and the sparse “Thieves” back-to-back that the foundation of all the songs is the same, which is all the more representative of an exploratory songwriting process. A New Skin as a whole feels likewise exploratory, a reflection inward as much as out.

Clara Engel on Thee Facebooks

Clara Engel on Bandcamp

 

Maya Mountains, Era

maya mountains era

Long-running Italian trio Maya Mountains issued Era through Go Down Records in 2020 as their first album in some six years, readily engaging with desert rock on cuts like “San Saguaro” and closer “El Toro,” working in a bit of post-Queens of the Stone Age riffy quirk to go along with less bouncing and chunkier fare on “Vibromatic” and “Baumgartner,” or “Extremely High,” which makes its speedier tempo feel organic ahead of the finish. All told, it’s 44 minutes of solid heavy rock, with variation between songs of what each is working toward doing that does nothing to pull away from the vibe as a whole, whether that’s in a more aggressive moment like “Vibromatic” or the spacier playfulness at the start of “Raul,” the band clearly unafraid of letting a little funk hold sway for a minute or two. Engaging without being revolutionary, Era knows its craft and audience alike, and offers one to the other without pretense or presumption. It’s rock for rockers, but what’s wrong with that?

Maya Mountains on Thee Facebooks

Go Down Records website

 

Cave of Swimmers, Aurora

cave of swimmers aurora

An awaited first long-player from Miami duo Cave of Swimmers — vocalist/guitarist/synthesist Guillermo Gonzalez and drummer/percussionist/vocalist Arturo Garcia — packages epic metal in tight-knit bursts of heavy rock tonality. Choruses in “The Sun” and “Double Rainbow” are grand affairs not because their tones are so huge, but because of the melodies that top them, and at the same time, with riffs at the forefront of the verses, the duo make progressive shifts sound classic in the vein of Iron Maiden or Dio with a still-prevailing fuzzy topcoat. Centerpiece “My Human” is a love song that slams, while “Looking Glass” leans deeper into prog metal but brings the listener along with a another sweeping hook, a pattern of tension and release that carries over to “Dirt” as well, which leaves “C.S” to close out with its “Sign of the Southern Cross” keyboard-and-harmonies intro en route to a poised but still thrashing finish. There’s life in heavy metal, and here it is.

Cave of Swimmers on Thee Facebooks

Broomtune Records website

 

Blind Monarch, What is Imposed Must Be Endured

blind monarch what is imposed must be endured

Straight out of Sheffield, UK, Blind Monarch first released their What is Imposed Must Be Endured four-song/56-minute full-length on Black Bow Records in 2020 and it’s been picked up for a 2LP vinyl pressing by Dry Cough Records. There’s something to be said for splitting up these tracks each onto its own side, making the whole release more manageable despite getting up to do a side or platter flip, but any way you go, “Suffering Breathes My Name” (13:45), “My Mother, My Cradle, My Tomb” (10:47), “Blind Monarch” (14:10) and closer “Living Altar” (17:54) are geared toward sharp-toothed death-sludge consumption, extreme in thought and deed. Feedback is strewn about the place like so much flayed skin, and even in the quiet moments at the start and laced into “Living Altar,” the atmosphere remains oppressive. Yet, endure one must. Blind Monarch, even among the UK’s ultra-packed underground, are a standout in how maddeningly heavy they manage to be, and on their debut outing, no less. If you missed it last year, be ready to pay extra for shipping.

Blind Monarch on Thee Facebooks

Dry Cough Records website

Black Bow Records webstore

 

Cancervo, 1

cancervo 1

Each track on Italian instrumentalist trio Cancervo‘s debut album, titled simply 1, is intended to represent an area near their home in the mountainous region of Lombardy, Italy. Their tones are duly thick, their presentation patient and their cast is broad in terms of its landscape. From “Averara,” one might see kilometers, in other words. Whether or not you’re familiar with Cancervo‘s locale, their tonal warmth and heavy psychedelic expanse resonates immersively, letting each of the two sides develop on its own from the beginnings in “Cancervo” and “Darco,” both the longest cuts on their respective halves. The fuller fuzz of “SWLABR” and the punch of bass that accompanies the tom hits on closer “1987” are subtle shifts emblematic of Cancervo‘s creative progression getting underway, and the task to which they set themselves — portraying place in sound — is no less admirable than their accomplishment of same would see to be. I’ve never been there, so can’t confirm 100 percent if that’s what it sounds like, but in repeat listens, I’m happy to take the band’s word (or riffs) for it.

Cancervo on Thee Facebooks

Electric Valley Records website

 

Sahara, The Curse

sahara the curse

Its four cuts run 17 minutes with the last of them an instrumental title-track that’s under three, but I don’t care — the entire thing is so righteously raw and garage nasty that I’m on board with however much Argentina’s Sahara want to bring to The Curse. “Gallows Noose” sounds like it was taped, and then re-taped, and then re-taped again before finally being pressed (to tape), and there’s no mistaking that’s an aesthetic choice on the part of the band, who probably have phones that could make something with clearer audio, but the in-room demo feel of “Hell on Earth” and “Altar of Sacrifice,” the rootsy metal-of-doom feel of it hits on its own level. Sometimes you just want something that comes across barebones and mean, and that’s what The Curse does. Call it retro, call it unproduced, call it whatever you want, it doesn’t matter. Sahara (bring looks that) kill it on that Sabbath-worshiping altar and sound dirt-coated all the while, making everything everything else in the universe seem more complicated than it needs to be.

Sahara on Thee Facebooks

Helter Skelter Productions website

 

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The Obelisk Questionnaire: Constantine Grim of The Electric Mud

Posted in Questionnaire on March 19th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

Constantine Grim Electric Mud Photo Cred Jesi Cason photography

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: Constantine Grim of The Electric Mud

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

I’d say pretty definitively I have the best job in the world. I get to write and play music that means the world to me with three dudes that mean the world to me. I picked up a guitar early in my teens as a lot of kids do, as a means of self expression at an age when it’s tough to do that on your own, and it’s been really good to me as an art and a discipline.

Describe your first musical memory.

My earliest memory in general that I can recall is riding around with my mom while she listened to the Graceland album by Paul Simon. She emigrated to the states from east Africa in the mid ’80s, and even though the musicians on that album are predominantly South African, it was an album she really connected with, and to this day it’s what I throw on if I’m trying to really check in with myself and relax. My dad is also a monster steering wheel drummer, so watching him thump out all of Led Zeppelin 1 and At Fillmore East by The Allman Brothers from the car seat really drilled into me how much fun rock and roll is.

Describe your best musical memory to date.

That first tour is the dragon I’m still chasing haha. I love it, the traveling, the bonds you build not just amongst the guys in the van but the bands you meet and the folks that show up in some dive on a Tuesday on faith that you’re gonna bring the goods.

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

You really don’t have to look farther than the last year to find that answer. To be coming off signing to a label you really dig and have a record coming out that you’re excited about, to be geared up and rehearsed and ready to play SXSW for the first time as an official act and have that all get iced overnight, frankly was fucking gnarly.

We’ve got the motor idling, and when we get the green light we’re gonna come out swinging with a ton of new tunes spread out over a couple releases, but yeah I mean you don’t go through something so jarring with such an open ended timeline for a return to normalcy without some serious gut check moments with the dude in the mirror.

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

It’s a very liberating experience, for me personally. I love the process of writing a record, doing the best you can, putting it out, and then turning that page and sitting down and trying to top it. It’s this cross section of art and effort and holding yourself accountable to really get the most out of yourself both as one of the writers but also as a bandmate whose vision is a piece of a larger thing we’re all trying to realize together.

How do you define success?

Payin the light bill doing something that makes you happy.

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

I have seen a Buffalo chicken gyro, and as a Greek boy that is something that is an unholy creation that needs to go back to whatever circle of hell created it.

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

A perfect album.

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

It’s a way for me to reach out and connect with people in a universal language, but also on my terms. I love the ambiguity of being a guitar player who writes music and plays lead but doesn’t have to mess with lyrics or singing. I can say whatever I want, about whatever I want, without saying anything specific that I’ll be poked and prodded about. I live just to the left of the spotlight, and I love it.

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

The birth of my daughter! MaryAnn Emmanuel Grim, comin July 2021.

http://www.theelectricmud.com
http://www.facebook.com/TheElectricMud
http://www.instagram.com/theelectricmud
http://www.smallstone.com
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The Electric Mud, “First Murder on Mars” official video

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Quarterly Review: Boris, DVNE, Hydra, Jason Simon, Cherry Choke, Pariiah, Saavik, Mountain Tamer, Centre El Muusa, Population II

Posted in Reviews on December 21st, 2020 by JJ Koczan

THE-OBELISK-FALL-2020-QUARTERLY-REVIEW

Kind of a spur of the moment thing, this Quarterly Review. I’ve been adding releases all the while, of course, but my thought was to do this after my year-end list went up, and I realized, hey, if I’ve got like 70 records I haven’t reviewed yet, maybe there’s some of that stuff worth considering. So here we are. I’ve pushed back my best-of-2020 stuff and basically swapped it with the Quarterly Review. Does it matter to you? I seriously, seriously doubt it, but I believe in transparency and that’s what’s up. Thought I’d let you know. And yeah, this is going to go into next week, take us through the X-mas holiday this Friday, so whatever. You celebrate your way and I’ll celebrate mine. Let’s roll.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Boris, No

boris no

As a general project, reviewing Boris is damn near pointless. One might as well review the moon: “uh, it’s big and out there most of the time?” The only reason to do it is either to exercise one’s own need to hyperbolize or help the band sell records. Well, Boris doesn’t need my push and I don’t need to tell them how great they are. No is 40 minutes of the widely and wildly lauded Japanese heavy rock(s) experimentalists trying to riff away existing in 2020, delving high speed into hardcore here and there and playing off that with grueling sludge, punk, garage-metal and the penultimate “Loveless,” which is kind of Boris being their own genre. Much respect to the band, and I suppose one might critique Boris for, what?, being so Boris-y?, but there really isn’t a ton that hasn’t been said about them because such a ton has. I’m not trying to disparage their work at all — No is just what you’d expect as regards defying expectation — but after 20-plus years, there’s only so many ways one wants to call a band genius.

Boris on Thee Facebooks

Boris on Bandcamp

 

DVNE, Omega Severer

DVNE Omega Severer

Kind of a soft-opening for Edinburgh’s DVNE as an act on Metal Blade Records, unless of course one counts the two songs on the Omega Severer EP itself, which are post-metallic beasts of the sort that would and should make The Ocean blush. Progressive, heavy, and remarkably ‘next-wave’ feeling, DVNE‘s awaited follow-up to 2017’s Asheran may only be about 17 and a half minutes long, but it bodes remarkably well as the band master a torrent of intensity on the 10-minute opening title-cut and answer that with the immediately galloping “Of Blade and Carapace,” smashing battle-axe riffing and progressive shimmer against each other and finding it to be an alchemy of their own. Album? One suspects not until they can tour for it, but if Omega Severer is DVNE serving notice, consider the message received loud, clear, dynamic, crushing, spacious, and so on. Already veterans of Psycho Las Vegas, they sound like a band bent on capturing a broader audience in the metallic sphere.

DVNE on Thee Facebooks

Metal Blade Records website

 

Hydra, From Light to the Abyss

hydra from light to the abyss

There’s no questioning where Hydra‘s heart is at on their debut full-length, From Light to the Abyss. It belongs to the devil and it belongs to Black Sabbath. The Polish four-piece riff hard and straightforward throughout most of the five-track offering (released by Piranha Music), and samples set the kind of atmosphere that should be familiar enough to the converted — “No One Loves Like Satan” reminds of Uncle Acid in its initial channel-changing and swaggering riff alike — but doomly centerpiece “Creatures of the Woods” and the layered vocal melodies late in closer “Magical Mind” perhaps offer a glimpse at the direction the band could take from here. What matters though is where Hydra are at today, and that’s bringing riffs and nod to the converted among the masses, and From Light to the Abyss offers no pretense otherwise. It is doom rock for doom rockers, grooves to be grooved to. They’re not void of ambition by any means — their songwriting makes that clear — but their traditionalism is sleeve-worn, which if you’re going to have it, is right where it should be.

Hydra on Thee Facebooks

Piranha Music on Bandcamp

 

Jason Simon, A Venerable Wreck

jason simon a venerable wreck

Dead Meadow guitarist/vocalist Jason Simon follows 2016’s Familiar Haunts (review here) with the genre-spanning A Venerable Wreck, finding folk roots in obscure beats and backwards this-and-that, country in fuzz, ramble in space, and no shortage of experimentalism besides. A Venerable Wreck consists of 12 songs and though there are times where it can feel disjointed, that becomes part of the ride. It’s not all supposed to make sense. Yet what happens by the time you get around to “No Entrance No Exit” is that Simon (and a host of cohorts) has set his own context broad enough so that the drone reach of “Hollow Lands” and sleek, organ-laced indie of closer “Without Reason or Right” can coexist without any real interruption of flow between them. The question with A Venerable Wreck isn’t so much whether the substance is there, it’s whether the listener is open to it. Welcome to psychedelic America. Please inject this snake venom and turn in your keys when you leave.

Jason Simon on Bandcamp

BYM Records website

 

Cherry Choke, Raising Salzburg Rockhouse

Cherry Choke-Raising Salzburg Rockhouse-Cover

You won’t hear me take away from the opening psych-scorch hook of “Mindbreaker” or the fuzzed-on, boogie-down, -up, and -sideways of “Black Annis” which follows, but there’s something extra fun about hearing Frog Island’s Cherry Choke jam out a 13-minute, drum-solo-inclusive version of “6ix and 7even” that makes Raising Salzburg Rockhouse even more of a reminder of how underrated both they are as a band and Mat Bethancourt is as a player. Look no further than “Domino” if you want absolute proof. The whole band rips it up at the Austrian gig, which was recorded in 2015 as they supported their third and still-most-recent full-length, Raising the Waters (review here), but Bethancourt puts on a Hendrixian clinic in the nine-minute cut from 2011’s A Night in the Arms of Venus (review here), which is actually less of a clinic than it is pure distorted swagger followed by a mellow “cheers, thanks” before diving into “Used to Call You Friend.” A 38-minute set would be perfect for an vinyl release, and anytime Cherry Choke want to get around to putting together a fourth studio album, well, that’ll be just fine too.

Cherry Choke on Thee Facebooks

Cherry Choke on Bandcamp

 

Pariiah, Swallowed by Fog

Pariiah swallowed by fog

It’s a special breed of aggro that emerges as a result of living in the most densely populated state in the union, and New Jersey’s Pariiah have it to spare. Bringing together sludge tonality with elder-style New York hardcore lumbering riffs on their Trip Machine Laboratories tape, Swallowed by Fog, they exude a thickened brand of pissed off that’s outright going to be too confrontation for many who take it on. But if you want a middle finger to the face, this is what it sounds like, and the six songs (compiled into four on the digital version of the release) come and go entirely without pretense and leave little behind except bruises and the promise of more to come. They’re a new band, started in this most wretched of years, but there’s no learning curve whatsoever among the members of Devoid of Faith, The Nolan Gate, Kill Your Idols, Changeörder and others. I’d go to Maplewood to see these cats. I’m just saying. Maybe even Elizabeth.

Pariiah on Bandcamp

Trip Machine Laboratories website

 

Saavik, Saavik

saavik saavik

So you’ve got both members of Holly Hunt in a four-piece sludging out with spacey synth and the band is named after a Star Trek character? Not to get too personal, but that’s going to pique my interest one way or the other. Saavik — and they clearly prefer the Kirstie Alley version, rather than Robin Curtis, going by drummer Beatriz Monteavaro‘s artwork — are damn near playing space rock by the end of “He’s Dead Jim,” the opener of their self-titled debut EP, but even that’s affected by a significant tonal weight in Didi Aragon‘s bass and the guitar of Gavin Perry, however much Ryan Rivas‘ synth and effects-laced vocals might seem to float overhead, but “Meld” rolls along at a steadier nod, and “Horizon” puts the synth more in the lead without becoming any less heavy for doing so. Likewise, “Red Sun” calls to mind Godflesh in its proto-machine metal stomp, but there’s more concern in Saavik‘s sound with expanse than just pure crush, and that shows up in fascinating ways in these songs.

Saavik on Thee Facebooks

Other Electricities on Bandcamp

 

Mountain Tamer, Psychosis Ritual

mountain tamer psychosis ritual

There’s been a dark vibe all along nestled into Mountain Tamer‘s sound, and that’s certainly the case on Psychosis Ritual, with which the Los Angeles-based trio make their debut on Heavy Psych Sounds. It’s their third full-length overall behind 2018’s Godfortune // Dark Matters (review here) and 2016’s self-titled debut (review here), and it finds their untamed-feeling psychedelia rife with that same threat of violence, not necessarily thematically as much as sonically, like the songs themselves are the weapon about to be turned on the listener. Maybe the buzz of “Warlock” or the fuckall echo of the prior-issued single “Death in the Woods” (posted here) aren’t out there trying to be “Hammer Smashed Face” or anything, but neither is this the hey-bruh-good-times heavy jams for which Southern California is known these days. Consider the severity of “Turoc Maximus Antonis” or the finally-released screams in closer “Black Noise,” which bookends Psychosis Ritual with the title-track and seems at last to be the point where whatever grim vibe these guys are riding finally consumes them. Mountain Tamer continue to be unexpected and righteous in kind.

Mountain Tamer on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds on Bandcamp

 

Centre El Muusa, Centre El Muusa

centre el muusa centre el muusa

Hypnotic Estonian psychedelic krautrock instrumentals not your thing? Well that sounds like a personal problem Centre El Muusa are ready to solve. The evolved-from-duo four-piece get spaced out amid the semi-motorik repetitions of their self-titled debut (on Sulatron), and that seems to suit them quite well, thanksabunch. Drone trips and essential swirl brim with solar-powered pulsations and you can set your deflectors on maximum and route all the secondaries to reinforce if you want, there’s still a decent chance 9:53 opener an longest track “Turkeyfish” (immediate points, double for the appropriately absurd title) is going to sweep you off what you used to call your feet when that organ line hits at about six minutes in. That’s to say nothing of the cosmic collision later in “Burning Lawa” or the just-waiting-for-a-Carl-Sagan-voiceover “Mia” that follows. Even the 3:46 “Ain’t Got Enough Mojo” lives long enough to prove itself wrong. Interstellar tape transmissions fostered by obvious weirdos in the great out-there in “Szolnok,” named for a city in Hungary that, among other things, hosts the goulash festival. Right fucking on.

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Sulatron Records webstore

 

Population II, À La Ô Terre

Population II a La o Terre

The first Population II album, a 2017 self-titled, was comprised of two tracks, each long enough to consume a 12″ side. Somehow it’s fitting with the Montreal-based singing-drummer trio’s aesthetic that their second long-player, À la Ô Terre, would take a completely different tack, employing shorter freakouts like “L’Offrande” and “La Nuit” and the garage-rocking “La Danse” and what-if-JeffersonAirplane-but-on-Canadian-mushrooms “À la Porte de Demain” and still-more-drifting finisher “Je Laisse le Soleil Briller” amid the more stretched out “Attaction,” the space-buzzer “Ce n’est Réve” while cutting a middle ground in the greaked-out (I was gonna type “freaked out” and hit a typo and I’m keeping it) “Il eut un Silence dans le Ciel,” which also betrays the jazzy underpinnings that somehow make all of À la Ô Terre come across as progressive instead of haphazard. From the start to the close, you don’t know what’s coming next, and just because that’s by design doesn’t make it less effective. If anything, it makes Population II all the more impressive.

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Castle Face Records website

 

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Friday Full-Length: Floor, Oblation

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 23rd, 2020 by JJ Koczan

In 2009, Robotic Empire released the comprehensive and consuming 11LP/8CD discography box set Below & Beyond (discussed here) from Miami bomb-tone heavy rockers Floor. The band, part of the wide-reaching family tree of sludgers Cavity, had their own sludge elements, but with the vocals and tonal heft of guitarist Steve Brooks, fostered a penchant for upbeat and almost poppy songcraft. Amid a vast swath of EPs and other short releases, their 2002 self-titled debut full-length (discussed here) gained an after-the-fact cult following despite the band’s breakup the same year, thanks at least in part to Brooks‘ subsequent work in the similarly-minded-if-less-punk Torche. Even with the box set, a Floor reunion didn’t seem likely. At that point, Torche were riding the success of 2008’s Meanderthal and their Chapter Ahead Being Fake split with Boris, and that seemed very much where the priority was. Fair enough. One more band that those who saw the first time around were lucky to have seen.

You see where this is going. By 2010, Floor — with the lineup of Brooks on guitar/vocals, Anthony Vialon on guitar and Henry Wilson on drums — were touring (review here) and drawing out the next-generation crowd who’d either heard of them through word of mouth on the burgeoning phenomenon of mobilized social media, or had otherwise traced the line back from Torche and discovered that Floor were not only the root from which that band’s early ideas grew, but a special act with landmark material of their own. One way or the other, people came out, and Floor continued activity mostly around Florida and Georgia, but elsewhere too. In 2013, the announcement came through they’d signed to Season of Mist and had a new album coming, and a little over a year and more touring (review here) later, they released Oblation (review here), collecting 14 tracks and 44 minutes of new material that even six years later continues to resonate.

Though it seemed at the time to exist in the shadow of the self-titled, Oblation was and remains its own album with its own strengths of songwriting and delivery. The opening riff of the title-track brings the massive weight that Floor always made bounce in what seemed like such a miracle, and unfolded with immediate spaciousness and melody. Slower than much of what would follow, its lurch doubled as a setup for the sprint of the hooky “Rocinante”floor oblation and the bombastic “Trick Scene” — a showcase for how underrated Floor always were as songwriters and doubly so how underrated Wilson was/is as a drummer. He not only follows the changes of riff, meter and rhythm, but enhances them, and comes across as duly massive in so doing, complementing the tones of Vialon and Brooks while also being the punch behind the stops in “Trick Scene” and the wash that flows through “Find Away,” which follows. The hook party continues as the 47-second instrumental “The Key” makes an intro for “New Man,” another in the ongoing series of righteously propulsive grooves, catchy despite no obvious hit-you-over-the-head-chorus and a lead-in for “Sister Sophia” and the feedback-soaked “The Quill,” which finish the first of the two LPs with Floor‘s signature sensibility of all-momentum-until-the-crash well intact.

Outside of the still-to-come “Sign of Aeth” (7:54), side C opener “Love Comes Crushing” is the only other track on Oblation over four minutes long. It still manages to sprint and gallop to its conclusion, and by the time “War Party” starts, Floor have picked up where they’ve left off. “War Party” was the first single released from the record ahead of its release, and fair enough. Under three minutes. Melodic. Unspeakably heavy. Motion. Quick and memorable with an emotional undercurrent to its melody — it would be and was a sign to listeners both of Floor‘s progression since their disbanding nine years earlier and of how much of their original approach was held over to their reunion. With “Homegoings and Transitions,” which would be enough of a standout to feature on a 12″ EP in 2014 with “Shadowline” and an etched B-side, pushed melody to the forefront with a rare, more patient take, and so brought about “Sign of Aeth” on side D as the beginning of Oblation‘s final movement. Riddled with Rush references, the sense of willful departure in “Sign of Aeth” is of course palpable, but as much as Floor are known for shorter songs, they’ve never had any trouble transposing that to longer material when it suits their needs. And though the fadeout of “Sign of Aeth” feels awfully final as it goes, “Raised to a Star” revives the forward thrust and “Forever Still” adds more melody to that as the record runs inexorably to its end.

Floor toured to support Oblation, and hit Europe for what I’m pretty sure was the first time ever in 2015, including a stop at Roadburn (review here) in the Netherlands. They continued to do regional Florida gigs periodically until about 2016, and by then, Brooks‘ focus seemed to have shifted back to Torche and Wilson had already released one full-length with his House of Lightning project and would soon offer a second. No one could say they didn’t put their work in or give the record its due, but Floor just kind of petered out after that, which considering the energy and the momentum built up in Oblation‘s tracks, kind of left them in the same place as the self-titled — seeming like a band with more to say leaving it unsaid.

To me, Floor is movement. I have a few albums I refuse to travel without, and Floor‘s self-titled and Oblation are both on that list, permanently. That sense of momentum. I hear Oblation and think of getting off an airplane, walking up to a gate. Maybe going somewhere else, maybe going home, but going. Floor is get-off-your-ass-and-do-something music, and more than just that too. Because it’s not just that the songs are fast, or that they lock in this mini-epic feel, or that they’re catchy. They’re almost totally individualized. Even when one puts Floor next to Torche, they don’t sound the same. Floor‘s identity as a band was/maybe-is something unique, and something that well deserved the fulfillment that Oblation gave it. As to whether it’s the final word on Floor as a whole, of course I have no idea, but its character and that distinctive shove still feel like they want to keep moving forward.

As always, I hope you enjoy. Thanks for reading.

This weekend, The Pecan turns three, and the “still two” mantra that The Patient Mrs. and I have employed to explain various behaviors over these hard months of isolation will no longer apply. It’ll be “still three.” I love him desperately — more than I thought I would, if I can say that — and I look forward to being a grandfather.

I had one of those things this past week where you get a year older as well. I’m 39 now. As The Patient Mrs. precedes me by eight months or so, she has already been experiencing some anxiety about turning 40. Fortunately — or not at all so — there has been plenty happening throughout this year to pull her attention in other directions. I do not see myself having particular trouble turning 40. I was never particularly good at being young, except maybe for the drinking. Mostly I was just an asshole. Now I’m quieter about it and I care less about what music other people listen to or what movies they watch. I was a real prick about that stuff for a long time. Different brand of asshole these days.

Her semester continues to be hard, and harder than it needs to be thanks to her university’s handling of the situation. I have friends who teach in high school and middle school I saw this week as well and their misery was recognizable (if differentiated) from hers. My mother was a teacher, and I probably should’ve been too, if we’re honest, but I am a firm believer that no teacher at any level of education should make less than $100,000 a year. Ever. Anywhere. Plus holiday bonuses. There is no more important work, and to see those in position as educators get so screwed over time and again, in the case of my friends as benefits and positions are slowly chipped away toward the cause of privatization, only emphasizes the point that the ruling elite class of this country wants the middle and working classes beneath them to be dumber and easily controlled. Those without awareness of critical thinking are less inclined to look around and see how they’re being fucked over by capitalism.

Alas, tangent.

The dog also peed on The Patient Mrs. last night while we were sitting on the couch watching the new episode of Star Trek: Discovery. I remain in camp “find this dog a better home,” and I continue to seem to be the only one there. Three months now, zero joy, zero fun. At her most tolerable moments, she is at least work. I find the best times are when I can pretend for a while she doesn’t exist. It does not feel good to actively dislike an animal.

So, family time this weekend for The Pecan’s birthday and also my niece’s, which is after Halloween — I would not be surprised to see us journeying north to see them in Connecticut next weekend even though they’re here as of whatever point today — and a full week next week both domestically and in writing terms. Premieres slated every day, which has its ups and downs like anything.

I’m going to try to do another video interview — looking at you, Peder Bergstrand from Lowrider — but with a packed weekend, a Gimme Metal show next week, and The Pecan starting pre-K on Monday, I honestly may or may not get there. We’ll see.

Or won’t see, if I don’t get it done. I kind of hated seeing my face in that Crystal Spiders interview this week. I wonder if I could take myself out of the picture.

Anyway, it’s 6:30AM and The Pecan’s starting to stir and I need a post-run shower, so I’m gonna split out. Have a great and safe weekend. Enjoy the Fall if that’s your thing — it’s my favorite season or at least it used to be before climate change — and don’t forget to hydrate. So important.

FRM.

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The Electric Mud Premiere “A Greater Evil” Lyric Video from Burn the Ships LP

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 1st, 2020 by JJ Koczan

the electric mud

Floridian heavy rock four-piece The Electric Mud will issue their second album, Burn the Ships, on Sept. 25 via the multinational consortium of Small Stone Records and Kozmik Artifactz. The unit, who of course take their moniker from Muddy Waters‘ 1968 “rock” album, Electric Mud (discussed here), offered their debut, Bull Gator, in 2018 and found themselves dug into a bayou of heavy blues rock, a classic-style inflection in their tone and presentation that one imagine perked up the ears of Small Stone perhaps like a next-generation Five Horse Johnson, and after posting a video for “First Murder on Mars” with the announcement of the release, they have a new lyric video for “A Greater Evil” premiering now.

Usually when it comes to Small Stone stuff, the opening track is posted first, then another one or two down the line ahead of the release. Why all the videos for The Electric Mud? Well, when the band has already put the album out,the electric mud burn the ships you kind of have to take a different approach. It was last August that the The Electric Mud had Burn the Ships set to go, but frankly, when you hook up with two ultra-established, brand-name heavy imprints to give your record a proper release across two continents and multiple physical formats, it seems like maybe that’s worth pulling said record down from your Bandcamp — for a little while, at least. Cheers to The Electric Mud on that one, by the way.

As for the magic formula that got them there, look no further than the not-so-mysterious alchemy that is songwriting, performance and production. The recording is modern but organic, the pace is uptempo but not harried, and though the lyrics of “A Greater Evil” take a social stance — from 2019! ah, simpler times! — they seem to purposefully do so through storytelling rather than soapbox-style opining. Comprised of guitarists Constantine Grim and Peter Kolter (the latter also vocals), bassist Tommy Scott and drummer Pierson Whicker, the band tap into a heavy rock vibe that feels natural and maybe even straightforward, but is still remarkably difficult to pull off without falling flat. If the endorsements behind them — i.e., the label logos on Burn the Ships — don’t speak of their not-fallen-flat three-dimensional status, then surely “A Greater Evil” itself will.

Thus, have at it, and enjoy:

The Electric Mud, “A Greater Evil” lyric video premiere

The Electric Mud on “A Greater Evil”:

‘A Greater Evil’ represents a bit of a progression in our sound. Between the four of us we listen to just about everything, and you can really hear some of those unexpected influences coming out the more we write together.

Crawling from the humid, mangrove-choked banks of the Caloosahatche River, THE ELECTRIC MUD drifted from late night jam sessions, backyard keggers, and a revolving cast of members until one night, in the taproom of a closed up brewery, Peter Kolter, Pierson Whicker, Tommy Scott, and Constantine Grim found themselves in an old fashioned Morricone-style standoff. THE ELECTRIC MUD released its debut album, Bull Gator, in 2018, and hit the road.

With hard work came opportunity that found the band opening not just for Southern rock legends such as Molly Hatchet, Blackfoot, The Devon Allman Band, Brother Hawk, and others but also winning a tri-state battle of the bands competition that drew the eye of Matt Washburn owner/operator of Ledbelly Sound Studio (Mastodon, Elder, Royal Thunder) in north Georgia. Washburn and the band hit it off immediately, and the band decamped to The Peach State in 2019 to write and record its follow up album, falling in along the way with the legendary Small Stone Records.

Following an independent unveiling by the band, Burn The Ships will see official release on CD and digital formats via Small Stone as well as limited edition vinyl via Kozmik Artifactz. For preorders, visit the Small Stone Bandcamp page at THIS LOCATION.

THE ELECTRIC MUD:
Constantine Grim – guitar
Pierson Whicker – drums, percussion
Peter Kolter – vocals, guitar
Tommy Scott – bass

The Electric Mud, “First Murder on Mars” official video

The Electric Mud website

The Electric Mud on Thee Facebooks

The Electric Mud on Instagram

Small Stone Records website

Small Stone Records on Thee Facebooks

Small Stone Records on Bandcamp

Kozmik Artifactz website

Kozmik Artifactz on Thee Facebooks

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Cave of Swimmers Post “Still Running” Playthrough From Reflection Remaster

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 18th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

cave of swimmers

They call it a play-along rather than a playthrough, and to me that just sounds like a dare. As if to tell you to go ahead and try it. You might, and hell, you might even be able to pull it off, but you’d be one up on me. Cave of Swimmers‘ new video for “Still Running” essentially portrays the duo’s studio process, each member of the band shown on two separate cameras playing their parts, with Guillermo Gonzalez pulling minor double-duty switching between bass and guitar necks as Arturo García jumps from snareless-snare percussion lines to blastbeats like it’s the kind of thing bands do all the time.

The track comes from a remastered edition of Cave of Swimmers‘ 2015 EP, Reflection, and though they haven’t done much in the studio since putting out the single “The Sun” in 2017, they’ve continued to put their time in on tour (not this year, obviously) and have obviously been honing their chops. They make this song look easy.

And maybe it is for them. It’s an older track, after all, so presumably they’ve been kicking out the proverbial jams on it for the last half-decade and it’s routine. Still an impressive sight from this end, and it’s a reminder that, sooner or later, someday, somewhere, somehow, Cave of Swimmers are going to release a full-length debut. It will happen. They released their first EP in 2013 and sounded ready then, and they don’t seem to have gotten less so over time, but nothing has manifested up to this point and, well, I think it’s been long enough. A remaster of Reflection is cool, certainly a welcome refresher on the quality of the original, but it’s time to make a record happen and watch heads start spinning in response.

Video follows. Enjoy:

Cave of Swimmers, “Still Running” playthrough

MERCH http://www.caveofswimmers.com

With the remaster of the album “Reflection” comes a two-part video series. Part 1, “Still Running” a fast-paced-prog-influenced song with revealing lyrics and a cool interlude showcasing Guille’s double neck guitar/bass. The split screen theme has been used a lot during these pandemic times in social media, yet Cave of Swimmers bring a very high quality split screen video showing each member in detail for those daring to learn their parts. Part 2 coming soon…

Since the band’s conception, this Florida-based power duo continues to earn a reputation as a beautifully strange and artistic musical force, rich with wild and colorful dynamics and genre-bending soundscapes. They have toured the country, garnering fans across the US, and have a surprising international following in Europe, South America, Australia, and Russia despite never having been overseas. They were also invited to play at the Psycho Las Vegas Festival in 2016 along side Sleep, Blue Oyster Cult, Electric Wizard, among others. The writing is on the wall, pun intended. Simply put, the Cave of Swimmers has never stopped making Rock Art.

Cave of Swimmers are:
Guillermo Gonzalez: Lead Vocals, Guitar, Synth
Arturo García: Drums, Percussion, Vocals

Cave of Swimmers, Reflection (2015)

Cave of Swimmers on Thee Facebooks

Cave of Swimmers on Instagram

Cave of Swimmers on Bandcamp

Cave of Swimmers website

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The Electric Mud to Release Burn the Ships Sept. 25 on Small Stone/Kozmik Artifactz

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 30th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

the electric mud

This one was released independently by the band last year, but has since been picked up by Small Stone and Kozmik Artifactz. To the best of my admittedly faulty recollection, that’s the first time Small Stone has picked up a release from this generation of Bandcamp records and handled the physical pressing in this manner. Of course it’s done reissues before but this would seem to be more in line with the “first official” rather than a reissue coinciding with another, corresponding new release.

Does that distinction matter? Maybe, if Small Stone makes a habit of it or if you’re the sort to be particularly interested in the evolution of indie label business models. Either way, The Electric Mud’s Burn the Ships has a Sept. 25 release date and there’s a new video out to mark the occasion.

You’ll find that and PR wire info below:

the electric mud burn the ships

THE ELECTRIC MUD: Florida Stoner Rock Unit To Release Burn The Ships Full-Length Via Small Stone September 25th; New Video Now Playing + Preorders Available

Florida-based stoner/retro rock unit THE ELECTRIC MUD will release their Burn The Ships full-length September 25th via Small Stone Records.

Crawling from the humid, mangrove-choked banks of the Caloosahatche River, THE ELECTRIC MUD drifted from late night jam sessions, backyard keggers, and a revolving cast of members until one night, in the taproom of a closed up brewery, Peter Kolter, Pierson Whicker, Tommy Scott, and Constantine Grim found themselves in an old fashioned Morricone-style standoff. Each had reputations around their Florida town as serious musicians and hard workers, and after throwing lightning bolts around the room for a few hours it became clear that they had found not just a band, but a sound. Alongside their love for The Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd and their shared Florida roots, came also a deep appreciation for the proto metal of Black Sabbath and the prog metal of Mastodon, and the band aimed to slow cook it and serve it to the masses. After countless hours of grueling rehearsals and gigging in the dives and biker bars of their hometown, THE ELECTRIC MUD released its debut album, Bull Gator, in 2018, and hit the road.

With hard work came opportunity that found the band opening not just for Southern rock legends such as Molly Hatchet, Blackfoot, The Devon Allman Band, Brother Hawk, and others but also winning a tri-state battle of the bands competition that drew the eye of Matt Washburn owner/operator of Ledbelly Sound Studio (Mastodon, Elder, Royal Thunder) in north Georgia. Washburn and the band hit it off immediately, and the band decamped to The Peach State in 2019 to write and record its follow up album, falling in along the way with the legendary Small Stone Records. THE ELECTRIC MUD calls upon a punishing rhythm section and dizzying twin guitars alongside gritty, soulful vocals to remind audiences that rock and roll is a timeless, cosmic giant that never truly dies.

In advance of the record’s release, the band is pleased to debut a video for opening track, “The First Murder On Mars” shot at Sonic Studios in Fort Myers, Florida by Matt Anastasi.

Following an independent unveiling by the band, Burn The Ships will see official release on CD and digital formats via Small Stone as well as limited edition vinyl via Kozmik Artifactz. For preorders, visit the Small Stone Bandcamp page at THIS LOCATION. Fans of The Sword, Radio Moscow, Clutch, Captain Beyond, The Allman Brothers, and the like, pay heed.

Burn The Ships Track Listing:
1. The First Murder On Mars
2. Stone Hands
3. Reptile
4. A Greater Evil
5. Call The Judge
6. Priestess
7. Good Monster
8. Led Belly
9. Terrestrial Birds

THE ELECTRIC MUD:
Constantine Grim – guitar
Pierson Whicker – drums, percussion
Peter Kolter – vocals, guitar
Tommy Scott – bass

http://www.theelectricmud.com
http://www.facebook.com/TheElectricMud
http://www.instagram.com/theelectricmud
http://www.smallstone.com
http://www.facebook.com/smallstonerecords
http://www.smallstone.bandcamp.com

The Electric Mud, “First Murder on Mars” official video

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