Mars Red Sky, The Task Eternal: On Proving Grounds

Posted in Reviews on September 20th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

mars red sky the task eternal

The approach of Bordeaux, France’s Mars Red Sky continues to grow richer on their fourth long-player, The Task Eternal. Also their third outing for Listenable Records, it comprises an eight-track/49-minute run that digs into many of what have become the trio’s signature elements — fragile melodies, tonal heft, nod and march, etc. — while playing toward a wider atmospheric breadth than even 2016’s Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul) (review here) could offer. As ever, the new album was led into by an EP, in this case the short self-release Collector (discussed here) earlier this year, and what was the title-track there shows up early here as well, following opener and longest cut (immediate points) “The Proving Grounds” on side A. Whatever patterns it has followed along the way, Mars Red Sky‘s progression has been steady from release to release, with perhaps the most major jump being from the sweet melodies and hooky bounce of their 2011 self-titled debut (review here) to the second album, 2014’s Stranded in Arcadia (review here), which even with a 2012 split with Year of No Light (discussed here) and 2013’s Be My Guide EP (review here) between them was the point when the band signaled the proggier intent that their subsequent outings have allowed to flourish in their songwriting.

Notable that it was around that same time that the lineup solidified with Matieu “Matgaz” Gazeau on drums alongside founding guitarist/vocalist Julien Pras and bassist/sometimes vocalist Jimmy Kinast, since as they moved through Stranded in Arcadia, 2016’s Providence EP (review here), Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul), 2017’s Myramyd EP (discussed here) and Collector — touring all the while — their chemistry has only become more palpable. That rings true throughout The Task Eternal as well as the band provides their listenership with much to dig into in laid back tempos, some surprisingly aggro lyrics on “The Proving Grounds” and an expansive vision of heavy psychedelia that sees them toying with even their own conventions of songcraft as the paired tracks “Recast” and “Reacts” play one into the next with the latter using the former as a launch point for a plotted instrumental jam that winds up longer than the song that birthed it.

Largesse of tone is nothing new for Mars Red Sky, and as ever, they bring a warmth to the guitar and bass that is engaging to the point of hypnosis as the opener shifts from its initial roll into a section of shimmering guitar-led drift as it oozes into the second half. The stop and return of the marching bassline is sudden and wants to be, but Pras tops it with obscure vocal lines that become part of the melodic wash and the effect is gorgeous as “The Proving Grounds” — you might recall Apex III began with the intro “Alien Grounds,” so clearly the band are conscious of their starting points — fades to silence ahead of the rumble at the outset of “Collector.” At 4:13, “Collector” is shorter even than the closing acoustic outro “A Far Cry” — the band essentially swapping the method of putting the longest track last and the lead-in track first; it works much to the album’s advantage — and something of a return to earth structurally after the relative sprawl of “The Proving Grounds,” still working in deeply mixed layers but doing so around a central chorus and never departing too far from it. That ends up all the more appreciable as “Recast” begins with a quiet sway ahead of unveiling its howling wah over the slow, graceful movement that is unfurled.

mars red sky

Subtle angularity and subtler speed in the riff adds presence and urgency to the verse, but the overarching vibe is still soothing as “Recast” heads in linear fashion toward its chugging crescendo — Gazeau giving nods toward extreme metal in the drums — before the same riff returns at the start of “Reacts,” and becomes the foundation on which that instrumental exploration is built. It’s fitting that “Reacts” should be so utterly entrancing, as it’s tucked at the end of side A, but as it lumbers toward and through its halfway point, it pulls back on the residual energy leftover from “Recast” and instead moves into a sleepy roll, which Pras eventually meets with a solo followed by a section of ethereal vocals (thinking at 5:00, or maybe I’m just hearing things) that quiets down again and rebuilds, ending with a short section of noise as the first half of the album is complete.

One has to consider the possibility that The Task Eternal, the title itself, is referring to the ongoing evolution of the band, and that the task in question is their process of chasing down whatever vision of sound they’re ultimately trying to represent at any given time. A roving target, perhaps. It seems only fair, then, that they’d put “Soldier On” before “A Far Cry” at the album’s conclusion, but before they get there, “Crazy Hearth” and “Hollow King” give something of an effect like “Collector” in their relative return to ground after the float of “Reacts.” Sure, “Hollow King” has plenty of spread in the guitar of its second half and sweeping final chorus, but that comes complemented with a solidified rhythm and that chorus stands among the most memorable throughout The Task Eternal. Particularly following “Crazy Hearth,” it’s a chance for Mars Red Sky to emphasize their well-honed ability to create spaciousness within set sonic and structural ideas.

They reserve a final showcase of swing for “Soldier On,” which also featured on Collector in two versions, and shift into the second half with a quiet stretch before reviving the shove onward toward the last chorus and delivery of the title lines, a theme of persistence emerging between “Soldier On” and “The Proving Grounds” upon which “A Far Cry” allows a moment to reflect with its acoustic and electric lines and emergent effects, smoothly building to a wash so that even after most of it cuts out, there’s still enough left to carry The Task Eternal to its serene conclusion. From the intricacy of its layers to the nuance in how it’s actually put together in terms of where the tracks are and how they play off each other, Mars Red Sky‘s latest is a triumph in what’s becoming a tradition thereof. As they resume the chase next time, it may only be another step along the way, but as only a mature band can, Mars Red Sky know their strengths and how to bring them to light in ways that are as exciting as they are individualized. I’ll readily admit to being a fan, but simply put, they are something special. If you don’t hear that in The Task Eternal, it’s your loss.

Mars Red Sky, The Task Eternal (2019)

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Mars Red Sky website

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Review & Full Album Premiere: Pelegrin, Al-Mahruqa

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on September 9th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

pelegrin al-mahruqa

[Click play above to stream Pelegrin’s Al-Mahruqa in full. Album is out Friday, Sept. 13.]

The fluidity Parisian three-piece Pelegrin conjure throughout their self-released debut album, Al-Mahruqa, finds them easily crossing lines between styles like post-rock, prog and heavy psychedelia, and as their first outing, it blends them with marked poise. Comprised of five tracks running a total of 40 minutes, it is a purposefully immersive listen, drawing its audience in throughout the nine-plus minutes of opener “Majoun” — named for a Moroccan fruit and nut confection often used as a hash jam edible — and moving with grace through “Farewell,” “The Coldest Night,” “Dying Light” and the closing title-track, each one adding to the story arc of the album as a whole while creating a sense of journeying further through its psych-infused desert expanse. The title Al-Mahruqa seems to be taken from the name of a Syrian village, and given some of the sonic influences at play throughout, that seems a fair enough place for guitarist/vocalist François Roze, bassist Jason Recoing and drummer Antoine Ebel to end up, though of course one has to consider the civil war that’s raged in Syria since 2011.

Whether that’s taken into account on Al-Mahruqa — one would wonder how it couldn’t be — the French trio do well in establishing the voyage early in “Majoun,” which opens with a smattering of voices and a percussion-laden departure over winding, ebow-style guitar in Middle Eastern minor key. An immediate touchstone on paper would be Om, and perhaps in some way they’ve been a conceptual influence, but the actual experience of Al-Mahruqa shares little in common with that Al Cisneros outfit, other than perhaps a gaze directed at the region and an overarching interest in the mystique surrounding desert spiritualism. “Majoun” unfolds in heavy rolling fashion with deceptive smoothness, almost catching one off guard by the time it’s made its full impact, a drop-out after five minutes causing reflection on how far one has already come, and indeed how far there still is to go through the energy buildup that follows and pays off in a hard-hitting shove only to give way to a call to prayer that leads directly into the drifting guitar at the outset of “Farewell.”

Already, Pelegrin have made their intention plain. Al-Mahruqa is not at all lacking for character, but neither is it simply letting things happen. I have no doubt some of these parts and stretches were born in the studio or rehearsal space in off-the-cuff fashion — Roze recorded and mixed, while Wo Fat‘s Kent Stump mastered — but whether it’s the louder post-rocking sun-bake-into-desert-triumph that marks the early crescendo in “Farewell” or the more patient and masterful roll that ensues when the cycle comes around again, no single element feels haphazard. Even when the effects seem to create a wash, that wash has a purpose serving the overall song the album of which it’s a part. Given that general level of consideration, it’s perhaps less of a surprise to see it extend to the structure of the record as well, which alternates between longer and shorter tracks in such a way as to maximize the flow between them without the listener getting too caught up in one expectation or the other.

With “The Coldest Night” as the centerpiece, Pelegrin embark on a pivotal stage in their travels with a due sense of increased heft, rightly considering their interaction with those making the trip along with them as they thicken the fuzz in Roze‘s guitar and the thud in Ebel‘s drumming — Recoing‘s bass isn’t lacking weight either, since we’re on the subject. Still, it’s the floating lead over top that takes hold just before the eight-minute mark that lets one know they’ve gotten to where they’re going, and it’s that lead guitar that remains floating on the fade after the rest of the layers have made their way out. And when that goes? Footsteps. How could it possibly be anything else? Pelegrin have made the point thoroughly by the time “The Coldest Night” is through that they’re going from one place to another, taking the listener from one place to another, but those footsteps only reinforce it.

And as the penultimate “Dying Light” touches on a post-metallic march with a still-gentle verse overtop that takes off into a solo, there’s a somewhat more aggressive undertone — it’s in the drumming as well as the 5:21 song nears its midpoint — but the atmosphere stays consistent with “The Coldest Night” and the material preceding both through its measured pace and through its melodic insight. These are no less prevalent as themes through Al-Mahruqa than the concept that bears out across its tracks, but of course less explicitly stated. “Dying Light” caps with lead and rhythm layers of guitar in conversation with a formidable nod of a groove, drifting at their finish into what sounds like a field recording of ritual chanting and percussion, in turn giving way almost immediately to “Al-Mahruqa” itself.

As the only cut to top 10 minutes, the closer earns immediate distinction among the rest of the album — not to mention it’s the title-track — and with additional percussion alongside the drums and a more uptempo initial stretch, it holds to that sense of ritual that closed “Dying Light.” They slow it down soon enough and play back and forth across volume shifts and across an instrumental hypnosis that works well in crafting an otherworldly vibe, but it’s ultimately a heavy, crashing march that rounds out the capstone of Al-Mahruqa, that terrestrial ending followed by the sound of a rainstorm and then a noise that could either be water going down a drain or a door closing scraping on rock. Something concluding, whatever it is. Pelegrin leave a likewise heavy silence when “Al-Mahruqa” is done, giving a due reminder that in fact their journey is only beginning — this is their first album. What it might lead to, I couldn’t say, but the collision of elements and styles at play throughout is only loaded with potential for future expansion of style, arrangements, and general reach, though even if nothing of the sort takes shape, it remains plenty full-sounding as is. Still though, something here makes one think that perhaps Pelegrin are a band with a clear progression in mind. An effect of all that journeying, perhaps.

Pelegrin, Al-Mahruqa (2019)

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Heavy Psych Sounds Fest Announces 2020 Dates in Paris, Antwerp, London & Deventer

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 9th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

mondo generator

At this point, there’s just about no way this is it for Heavy Psych Sounds Fest, the traveling live incarnation of Italian imprint Heavy Psych Sounds that seems to have bands in any town it stops and to pick up headliners wherever it goes as well. Paris, Antwerp, London and Deventer — France, Belgium, the UK and the Netherlands. Well, considering this year saw the first US-based Heavy Psych Sounds Fest run and that there are still dates to play out next month, yeah, it seems likely to me this is just the beginning for Heavy Psych Sounds Fest 2020.

It’s a striking beginning though, with Mondo Generator (seen above) headlining the shows with support from Black Rainbows and Duel each time out and various others coming and going including Dead Witches, Lords of AltamontGorilla, Alunah and Giöbia. No less of a scale than one would expect, and again, it won’t at all be the final announcement of Heavy Psych Sounds Fest 2020. More cities, more tours, more bands, more everything. This is not a label that in recent years has shown even the slightest interest in going anything less than all out, all the time.

The PR wire shows tickets on sale already, because of course. With respect:

heavy psych sounds fest 2020

HEAVY PSYCH SOUNDS FEST announce new London, Paris, Antwerp and Deventer editions in 2020 with Mondo Generator, Black Rainbows, Duel, Lords Of Altamont and more!

Heavy Psych Sounds Records, the unstoppable cult and fuzz rock machine rising from Rome, Italy, has announced to once again conquer London, the Netherlands, Belgium and this time also Paris, with their highly acclaimed mini festival series: HEAVY PSYCH SOUNDS FEST!

Heavy Psych Sounds specializes in presenting the best artists in the global heavy psych, doom, fuzz blues and space rock realms, and their festival-series is no exception, spotlighting the ever-growing label’s dedication to its craft. HPS is not only THE address for all heavy rock record collectors, but it has also become an important live and festival institution; with a brisk participation from heavy music fans all over the world. Each hotspot of the traveling festival tour features diverse line-ups including both genre leaders and fast-rising acts, all ready to prove their place among the world’s best!

In cooperation with Desertscene, Rock in Bourlon, Metadrone and SOZ Concerts, Heavy Psych Sounds has announced the dates and bands to kick off 2020 in style in London, Antwerp, Paris and Deventer. Featuring high class acts such as Nick Oliveri’s MONDO GENERATOR, BLACK RAINBOWS, DUEL, DEAD WITCHES and many more, the HPS FEST series 2020 will be taking place in March. The line-up, dates and locations will look as follows:

HPS Fest Paris (FR) – March 5th @ Glazart
Facebook event
The Lords Of Altamont
Mondo Generator
Black Rainbows
Duel
Giöbia

HPS Fest Antwerp (BE) – March 6th @ Trix
Facebook event
Mondo Generator
Black Rainbows
Duel
The Lords Of Altamont
Dead Witches
Giöbia

HPS Fest London (UK) – March 7th @ The Underworld
Facebook event
Mondo Generator
Black Rainbows
Duel
Dead Witches
Giöbia
Gorilla
Alunah

HPS Fest Deventer (NL) – March 8th @ Burgerwheesuis
Facebook event
Mondo Generator
Black Rainbows
Duel
The Lords Of Altamont
Dead Witches

Better be quick and get your tickets HERE: https://www.heavypsychsounds.com/fests.htm#hps-fests-2020

“Heavy Psych Sounds is happy to announce the second edition of the London, Belgian and Netherlands HPS fest!“, label owner Gabriele Fiori comments. “Last year was such a success, so we also added Paris. We want to thank all the audiences, who make the label and booking so great. Bands, fans and promoters, we want to thank you all for your support and making it happen!“

Earlier this year, Heavy Psych Sounds also announced a bunch of festival dates in Berlin, Dresden (De), Rome (It) and Innsbruck (AT) to take place in the fall of 2019 with headlining acts such as CONAN, MONOLORD, among further heavy as hell bands alike BLACK RAINBOWS, THE SONIC DAWN, ALUNAH, ECSTATIC VISION and many more. Find out all details, tickets and info at this location.

https://www.facebook.com/HEAVYPSYCHSOUNDS/
https://heavypsychsoundsrecords.bandcamp.com/
www.heavypsychsounds.com/
https://www.heavypsychsounds.com/fests.htm

Black Rainbows, Pandaemonium (2018)

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Electric Jaguar Baby Self-Titled Debut out Oct. 25; New Song Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 4th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

electric jaguar baby

For those who might not be familiar with the Parisian duo’s work — and hey, that’s cool; this is the first I’m hearing them too — it won’t take long into the first single from their impending self-titled debut, “Witch I Love,” for the Josh Homme influence to make itself felt. Whether it’s the style of riffing or the vocals that accompany, the two-piece leave little to wonder where they’re coming from in terms of a central inspiration, taking the desert vibe and transposing it on the metropolis that is the City of Light. Oct. 25 is the listed release date for Electric Jaguar Baby‘s Electric Jaguar Baby, and it will be issued through Slice of Wax Records in addition to the band’s own El Diablo Records.

Familiar though the vibe is, it’s well suited to the inherent rawness of a two-piece incarnation, so consider yourself invited to check out the swaggering “Witch I Love” on the player at the bottom of this post.

Enjoy:

electric jaguar baby witch i love

French acid-fuzz/psych/stoner-rock Duo Electric Jaguar Baby premiered new single “Witch I Love”. New album coming out on October 25th.

After released three EPs in three years ( ‘EP 1’, ‘Moonshiner’ and ‘Old Songs From Beyond’ ) and then an EP compilation last year, French acid-fuzz/psych/rock/stoner duet Electric Jaguar Baby is about to release its debut full-length album planned for a physical/digital release on October 25th through El Diablo Records and Slice of Wax Records (Medicine Boy, etc.) .

In the meantime, the band just premiered a first audio glance from this upcoming record with the single “Witch I Love.”

ELECTRIC JAGUAR BABY was born in Paris in 2015, from the ashes of No Cure and 7 Days Before. A drummer and a guitarist, both of them singers, stride across Josh Homme’s desert, flirt with the Black Keys’ choruses and explore Jack White’s saturated riffs.

The duet generates a catchy sound with psychedelic atmospheres, hovering between rock’n’roll and fuzz. After releasing a first EP in november 2016 and ‘Moonshiner’ EP in march 2017 which were warmly welcomed by French and foreign critics, the band left their garage and trampled stages with their boots across France and Europe with bands like Yeti Lane, Charle’s Howl, Astrodome or Death Valley Girls, & L.A Witch. They grabed their old microphones and a 8-tracks-recorder in their cellar in Paris to capture their live energywith a 70’s vibe to put out 5 songs.

Their 3rd EP in 2 years : ‘Old songs From Beyond’ has been released on March 28th 2018 (4 original songs and a Jimi hendrix cover), again on handmade limited CDs and cassette tapes through their own label : El Diablo Records ! All of this 100% DIY. From Paris with fuzz.

https://www.facebook.com/ElectricJaguarBaby/
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http://electricjaguarbaby.band/
https://electricjaguarbaby.bandcamp.com/
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Electric Jaguar Baby, “Witch I Love”

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Mars Red Sky Post “The Proving Grounds” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 29th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

mars red sky (Photo by Rod Maurice)

Today is Thursday. This past Monday, I posted a streaming interview with Mars Red Sky wherein among the subjects covered was the castle in the south of their native France in which the band wrote and recorded for their new album, The Task Eternal, set to release Sept. 27 through Listenable Records. Their new video for “The Proving Grounds,” the expansive opening track of that record, was filmed in presumably around that same space, as we can see the band in the kind of parlor room from whence prior album updates were made, lit by spotlights intended to evoke almost a fireplace kind of feel, playing up a sense of organic surroundings, rock walls, open fields, and so on. There is a character who makes his way to the roof of the structure and sends up a flare, attracting the attention of an awesome disco-ball of a spaceship, which would seem to beam him aboard as the song reaches its melodic wash of a culmination. To call it apropos of how the track itself leads into the rest of The Task Eternal would be underselling it.

One thing I didn’t realize about “The Proving Grounds” until seeing the lyrics printed on the YouTube page with the video itself was the defiant stance of the hook. To wit, “We’ll prove you wrong/And carry on/We’ll carry on/You’re going down now/We’ll prove you wrong/And carry on/On proving grounds/You’re going down.” Those are hardcore lyrics! Mars Red Sky sound like they’re looking for a fight. It’s a somewhat unexpected perspective of confrontationalism from the Bordeaux trio, but still carried across in their trademark melodic heavy psychedelic and progressive fashion. I guess once you’re dug into that vibe, you can do with it as you will, but the edge is still something new from them. I have to wonder what the song is actually about specifically, if there’s one thing to which it’s responding or more of a general statement of purpose pitched in this manner. Too bad the interview already happened.

Still about a month away from the release of this one, but I’m comfortable just the same calling The Task Eternal one of the year’s best records, so if you do the preorder thing, I can only advise it, though that’s pretty much been my stance on these guys all along. Points for consistency.

Enjoy the clip:

Mars Red Sky, “The Proving Grounds” official video

Tidal waves of wounded egos
Crashed in unison
Spreading coast to coast
Now the season has begun

‘The Proving Grounds’ video was shot in the castle of Monteton (FR) and directed by Seb Antoine. The track is taken off our new album “The Task Eternal”, due out September 27 on Listenable Records.

Directed By Seb Antoine
Starring Grégory Dreyfus
Lights: Geoffrey Torres
Visual Effects : Original Cosmic – Romain Marchetti
Filmed In Monteton Castle – Thanks to the local crew
Special Thanks to Manu Feramus, Mathieu Disson, Jean Godet & Pierre-Gérard David.

Recorded and mixed by Benjamin Mandeau at Cryogene Studio, mastered by Pierre Etchandy.

‘The Proving Grounds’ is where Michael Connelly’s character Mickey Haller makes his case before “The Gods Of Guilt”. In this song we are alternately the jury and the accused. Hence the temptation of reaching out to the skies, board a spacecraft and take off, or travel in time to fix what can be fixed.

Mars Red Sky on Thee Facebooks

Mars Red Sky website

Listenable Records website

Listenable Records on Thee Facebooks

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Alcest to Release Spiritual Instinct on Oct. 25; New Video Posted

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

alcest

Alcest are one of those bands who, every time they put out a new release, I see the news about it, listen to some new music if I’m lucky, then get all stoked, write about, and get absolutely zero response. I don’t know if there’s just no audience crossover or what, but this is a popular band, and yet each and every time I put up a post about them: crickets. I mean, I know I’m hardly the only one in the universe covering them, and at least in the case of this news, I’m a couple days late with it, but yeah. They’re just one of those bands. There are a few of them, of varying styles.

Still, I like Alcest, so yes, I am posting about how their new album, Spiritual Instinct, is out Oct. 25 as their debut release on Nuclear Blast, and that the lead single “Protection” is surprisingly intense considering where the band’s last two outings, 2016’s Kodama (review here) and 2014’s maligned-but-gorgeous Shelter (review here), took them. Alcest would hardly be the first band to enter into alliance with Nuclear Blast and mark a turning point with their sound on their next LP — think Blues PillsKadavarGraveyard and a bunch of others — but it’s a noteworthy shift, in no small part because the new song sounds so damn good.

It came via the PR wire:

ALCEST TO RELEASE 6TH ALBUM, SPIRITUAL INSTINCT, ON OCT 25TH

WATCH THE VIDEO FOR FIRST SINGLE, “PROTECTION” AND PRE-ORDER THE RECORD NOW

On October 25th, ALCEST will once again open the gateways to the otherworldly and release their sixth studio album titled Spiritual Instinct. Recorded at the French Drudenhaus Studios and written in bursts both during and after a prolonged period of touring in support of 2016’s hugely successful Kodama, the new album – the first to be released via Nuclear Blast – will lead the blackgaze pioneers into dark soundscapes full of spiritual catharsis.

Today, the wait is over as singer/multi-instrumentalist Neige and drummer Winterhalter have revealed the first single “Protection” from the band’s upcoming album.

Frontman Neige comments:
“‘Protection’ is the first track I wrote for »Spiritual Instinct«. It’s probably one of our most heavy, spontaneous songs. It is about inner conflict, the tension between the spiritual and darker sides of a person, facing your own anguishes in order to embrace them and then fight them. Like the other tracks on the album, writing it was a very cathartic, healing process for me.”

The music video for “Protection” was filmed by director Craig Murray (Mogwai, Blood Red Shoes).
Stream or download the new single, here: https://nblast.de/Alcest-Protection

The album is now available for pre-order in the following formats:

– digipak in O-card
– 36 pages earbook including 2 CD + 180g LP (stone effect) (limited to 2000 copies)
– 180g LP in sleeve available in the colors:
black (retail)
ocean green (NB mailorder + wholesale, limited to 500 copies)
burgundy (NB mailorder exclusive, limited to 300 copies)
polar white (Rough Trade exclusive, limited to 300 copies)
royal blue (band shop exclusive, limited to 300 copies)
– Boxset collector’s edition including 2 CDs + 180g LP (stone effect), earbook, bonus mini LP (violet sparkle, etched) in sleeve, art prints and patch (limited to 500 copies)
– Digital

USA exclusive vinyl colors:
mint green (retail, limited to 1.700 copies)
clear+blue/bone splatter (indie exclusive, limited to 300 copies)
blood red (NB mailorder exclusive, limited to 500 copies)

Get your copy of Spiritual Instinct, released on October 25th, here: https://nblast.de/AlcestSpiritInstinct
Pre-save the album on Spotify via this link: http://nblast.de/ALCESTpreSave

ALCEST are:
Neige – vocals, guitars, bass, synths
Winterhalter – drums

https://www.facebook.com/alcest.official
https://www.instagram.com/alcestofficial/
https://www.alcest-music.com/
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https://shop.nuclearblast.com/en/shop/index.html

Alcest, “Protection” official video

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Streaming: Interview with Julien Pras & Jimmy Kinast of Mars Red Sky

Posted in audiObelisk, Features on August 26th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

mars red sky

On Sept. 27, the fourth full-length from Mars Red Sky, titled The Task Eternal, will be released through Listenable Records. The label has been their home since their second long-player, 2014’s Stranded in Arcadia (review here), which followed their 2011 self-titled debut (review here) and set the band on a road of progression that The Task Eternal seems only to continue. In answering back the expansive forward steps of 2016’s Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul) (review here), the new album retains the Bordeaux-based trio’s penchant for songwriting that’s been so central to their purposes since the start, while drifting even further into otherworldly and psychedelic expanses. It is a colorful swirl throughout The Task Eternal, and I won’t tell you how to listen to it, but as much fun as it might be to get lost in the experience, there’s a good chance you’ll retain more than you think afterward, whether that’s from the fading lines of opener “The Proving Grounds” or the hooks of tracks like the marching “Hollow King” or “Collector.”

The latter also serves as the title-track of a newly issued EP intended as a lead-in for the LP to come. Collector bundles two versions of itself with two versions of “Soldier On,” also the penultimate cut on The Task Eternal, including a demo with mars red sky the task eternalguitarist/vocalist Julien Pras as a multi-instrumentalist, and a guest appearance from Igor Sidorenko of Stoned Jesus, the album versions, etc. It’s a welcome piece perhaps aimed at the people who might fit the description of its title, but most importantly, it introduces the listener to the atmosphere that The Task Eternal broadens in songs like “Recast” and “Reacts,” “Crazy Hearth” and even the instrumental closer “A Far Cry,” which, when it’s done, just might be where you feel like you are in relation to from where you started. All told, the album is 49 minutes across eight songs that is unmistakably the work of Mars Red Sky — Pras, bassist/vocalist Jimmy Kinast, drummer Matieu “Matgaz” Gazeau — and yet works to further the reach of that very definition. Like what’s come before it, it is the output of a constantly-refining creative unfolding.

At some point before the release date, I’ll put up a review, which I guess will probably just say that in wordier fashion, but among the topics I wanted to discuss with Pras and Kinast in this interview was the notion of The Task Eternal being the band’s creativity itself: that constant hunt for an ideal vision that’s a moving target from release to release as the band develops. In addition to that, the fact of Mars Red Sky‘s heavy touring and upcoming Fall European run (including shows with Kadavar) had me wondering if they might make it back to the US anytime soon — you might recall they were here in 2016 to play Psycho Las Vegas and made a stop at The Obelisk All-Dayer in Brooklyn beforehand (video here). They let it drop that they’ve got some stuff in the works, and indeed talked about the process of working with a different recording engineer each time out in an effort to capture different sounds, and how the change itself is a part of chasing that ideal. We also spent a good amount of time talking about the castle where they jammed, finished writing and started recording The Task Eternal, which, really, had to be done, when you think about it.

Interview follows here on the player below.

Enjoy:

Interview with Julien Pras & Jimmy Kinast

 

Mars Red Sky on Thee Facebooks

Mars Red Sky website

Listenable Records website

Listenable Records on Thee Facebooks

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Pelegrin to Release Al-Mahruqa Sept. 13; Streaming “Majoun”

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 1st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

With a meld of heavy post-rock and Eastern-inflected psychedelia, Parisian trio Pelegrin will self-release their debut album, Al-Mahruqa, on Sept. 13. I happen to know that the song they’re streaming from it, “Majoun,” is the opening track both because I can see the tracklisting below and I’ve got the record on while I’m writing this — first listen — and thank you very much its warm melodies, patient psych songcraft and immersive stylistic blend is hitting the spot nicely. It’s a first record, fair enough, but clearly one made with aesthetic intent and a ready sense of spaciousness, as the three-piece go exploring through not just “Majoun,” but the expansive rollout of “Farewell” and the progressive drift of “Home Again,” balancing longer and shorter pieces off each other as they make their way through “Dying Light” toward the closing title-track. Immersion is the idea and Pelegrin provide plenty of depth for it. I’m looking forward to getting to know Al-Mahruqa better.

The PR wire brings album details and the aforementioned stream:

pelegrin al-mahruqa

Psych rock adventurers PELEGRIN share details about imposing debut album “Al-Mahruqa”, out September 13th on digital.

The bazaar crowd hails, haggles, ruffles. Life at its most, screeching and hustling. Gradually, the ruckus fades away. In the vacuum that’s created, a bass roars, answers its own call. A guitar string vibrates endlessly. The note hangs on ominously, then slips up. Percussions soar and the engine starts running… The listener’s fate is sealed. No turning back; he is bound for a 42 minutes-long sonic tale. He will follow the footsteps of an ailing war veteran, from the bazaar of Tangier to a millenary temple, carved into the rock at the very end of a desert valley: Al-Mahruqa.

On the way, the listener will encounter mesmerizing ambiances. Melodies soaked with eastern influences. Rock-solid riffs. Unsettling songs, always on the move. References, wink, nods? Of course. But no obvious comparison will jump to mind. If the power trio PELEGRIN (“pilgrim” in ancient French) roams the lands of stoner, prog and heavy psych, it is with the intention of making a few steps into the unknown. What drove François (guitar/vocals/production), Jason (bass) and Antoine (drums) is the will to play the music that they would have liked to hear. To fill a tiny space that seemed vacant in the ever-expanding galaxy of distorted music.

The road to “Al-Mahruqa” was long and winding, covering almost five years. The creation of its followup should be a smoother affair… And PELEGRIN is already hard at work on it. Where the three friends are the most comfortable: in their own bubble, away from stages. Where ideas fly, sweet smoke rises, and stories are written.

“Al-Mahruqa” was recorded and mixed by François Roze. It was mastered by Kent Stump (Wo Fat) at Crystal Clear Sound. The artwork was designed by Hadrien Virima.

Tracklisting:
1. Majoun
2. Farewell
3. The Coldest Night
4. Dying Light
5. Al-Mahruqa

PELEGRIN is
François Roze – guitar, vocals
Jason Recoing – bass
Antoine Ebel – drums, percussions

https://www.facebook.com/PelegrinMusic/
https://pelegrinmusic.bandcamp.com

Pelegrin, “Majoun”

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