Quarterly Review: Geezer, Spaceslug, Expo Seventy, Boss Keloid, Bong-Ra, Zebu, Los Disidentes del Sucio Motel, LáGoon, Maha Sohona, The Bad Sugar Rush

Posted in Reviews on July 13th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

the-obelisk-fall-2016-quarterly-review

Oh my breaking heart as we move into day seven of the Summer 2021 Quarterly Review and I am reminded that the wages of hubris are feeling like a dumbass later. I was loading up my laptop on Saturday — so pleased with how ahead-of-the-game I was able to stay all last week — when the thing decided it was gonna give itself some time off one way or the other.

I dropped it for repair about 20 minutes before the guy I’ve come to trust was closing shop. He said he’d be in touch on Monday. Needless to say, I’m on my backup cheapie Chromebook, reviewing off Bandcamp streams, eagerly awaiting that call which I can only hope has come in by the time this is posted. I’ll keep you in the loop, of course, but putting together the reviews for yesterday? That was not pretty.

I expressly thank The Patient Mrs., through whom all things are possible.

Onward.

Quarterly Review #61-70:

Geezer, Solstice

Geezer Solstice

Geezer‘s ambition could hardly be clearer in their 17-minute “Solstice” jam. It was the Solstice — Winter 2020, to be specific — and the Kingston, New York, trio jammed. Guitarist/vocalist Pat Harrington (who doesn’t sing on the track) added some dreamy synth after the fact, and the affect is all the more hypnotic for it. Harrington, bassist Richie Touseull and drummer Steve Markota are no strangers to exploratory fare, as they showed on 2020’s righteous Groovy (review here), and as a Bandcamp Friday-era stopgap offering, “Solstice” brings a sampling of who they are in the rehearsal space, willing to be heavy, willing to not, ready to go where the music leads them. If Geezer wanted to do a whole full-length like this, I wouldn’t fight them, so you most definitely will not find me arguing against a digital single either. With jams this tasty, you take what you can get.

Geezer on Facebook

Heavy Psych Sounds website

 

Spaceslug, The Event Horizon

spaceslug the event horizon

Issued less as a stopgap, which a digital-only single might normally be, than as a response to the band having lost gear in a practice space flood, the 8:52 single-song outing The Event Horizon was recorded at the same time as Spaceslug‘s late 2020 EP The Leftovers (review here) and in a way acts to bridge the melancholy beyond-genre push of that release with the more weighted, spacious roll that has typified the Polish outfit’s work to-date — their latest full-length was 2019’s Reign of the Orion (review here), and they recently finished a new one. So perhaps “The Event Horizon,” with its hypnotically languid rhythm and concluding drift, is a stopgap after all, but between helping the band recoup their losses and thinking of what might be coming next, it’s an exciting if not-unalloyed listening experience, and the three-piece move deeper into a signature sound even as they continue to bring the definition of what that means to new places.

Spaceslug on Thee Facebooks

Spaceslug on Bandcamp

 

Expo Seventy, Evolution

Expo Seventy Evolution

Creating sometimes-scorching, droning psychedelic soundtracks to all your favorite classic sci-fi films that never existed, Kansas City’s Expo Seventy offer a call to worship for freaks and converted heads on their new album, Evolution. Still headed by guitarist James Wright as on late-2016’s America Here and Now Sessions (review here), the band offer new glories celestial and terrestrial instrumental chemistry throughout the six tracks (seven on the CD) of Evolution, lumbering away on “Echoes of Ether” only after floating in brass-section antigrav conditions on “The Slow Death of Tomorrow.” Can you hang? You’ll know one way or the other as the culminating duo “Second Vision, First Sight” and “First Vision, Second Sight” are done with you, having altered dimensions so thoroughly that the ethereal will either come to feel like home or you will simply have melted. In any case, lash yourself to it. Own that shit.

Expo Seventy on Facebook

Essence Music on Bandcamp

 

Boss Keloid, Family the Smiling Thrush

boss kelod family the smiling thrush

Peak-era Faith No More reborn in progressive heavy fuzz? What stoner rock might’ve been if it went to college instead of spending all that time hanging around talking about old cars? I don’t know where UK four-piece Boss Keloid ultimately stand on their admirable fifth LP, Family the Smiling Thrush — the follow-up to 2018’s also-well-received Melted on the Inch (review here) — but they most certainly stand on their own. Across seven tracks, the band careen, crash, lumber, rush and ponder — lyrics no less worth a close read than any other component — and from opener/longest track (immediate points) “Orang of Noyn” on, they make it abundantly clear that their style’s unpredictability is an asset, and that just because you might not know where they’re going next doesn’t mean they don’t. Melodic, complex and cerebral, there’s still a human presence here, a sense of a plan unfolding, that makes the album seem all the more masterful.

Boss Keloid on Facebook

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

 

Bong-Ra, Antediluvian

BONG-RA Antediluvian

Though it’s ultimately less electric-kool-aid than endless-churning-abyss-with-psychdelic-saxophone-screaming-up-at-you-like-free-jazz-trapped-in-the-downward-tonal-spiral, Bong-Ra‘s four-tracker Antediluvian is duly experimentalist in being born out of the mind of Jason Köhnen, whose work on this project not only extends more than 20 years, but who has been a part of landmark Dutch outfits like Celestial Season, The Kilmanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble and The Mount Fuji Doomjazz Corporation, among scores of others. The procession on this full-length, originally released in 2018 through Svart Lava, is wild times indeed, but immersive despite feeling at times like a litmus for how much you can take, with Köhnen‘s bass/keys/etc. and Balazs Pandi‘s drums meeting with Colin Webster‘s saxophone and Chloe Herrington‘s bassoon, willfully plodding through long-ish form improv-seeming movements of atmospheric heft creation.

Jason Köhnen website

Tartarus Records store

 

Zebu, Reek of the Parvenu

zebu reek of the parvenu

A coherent and forceful debut full-length, Reek of the Parvenu quickly shows the metallic undercurrent from Athens-based four-piece Zebu on opener “The Setting Dust,” and pushes from there in groove metal fashion, taking some impulses from heavy rock but holding largely to a central aggressive stance and tension in the rhythm that is a backdrop even as the later “Nature of Failure” breaks from its chugging shove for a quieter stretch. That is to say, the next punch is always coming, and Zebu‘s blows are effectively delivered — looking at you, “Burden” — though some of the slower, sludgier cuts like “Our Shame” or the doomier finale “The City” bring a welcome atmosphere to go with the coinciding burl. I’m not sure if “People Under the Stairs” wants to kick my ass or crack a beer, but the songwriting is air tight and the thrashy threat only contributes to the immediacy of the release on the whole. They’re not screwing around.

Zebu on Facebook

Zebu on Bandcamp

 

Los Disidentes del Sucio Motel, Polaris

Los Disidentes Del Sucio Motel Polaris

It’s been 11 years since France’s Los Disidentes del Sucio Motel debuted with Soundtrack From the Motion Picture (review here), an engaging, kind of silly play on stoner rock and B-movie tropes. Beneath that, however, it was also a concept album, and the band — who now seem to prefer LDDSM for a moniker — still work from that foundation on their fourth full-length, Polaris. The difference scope and sonic maturity. Rife with vocal harmonies and progressive flourish, the 10-track answer to 2016’s Human Collapse (review here) smoothly shifts between the patient and the urgent, the intimate and the grand — and that’s in the first two minutes of “Blue Giant” alone — finding their way into a proggy post-heavy rock that’s too clearheaded to be psychedelic, but that balances the crunch of “Horizon” with a sense of the otherworldly just the same.

Los Disidentes del Sucio Motel on Facebook

Klonosphere Records website

 

LáGoon, Skullactic Visions

LáGoon skullactic visions

With their fourth long-player, guitarist/vocalist Anthony Gaglia and drummer Brady Maurer of Portland, Oregon’s LáGoon welcome bassist Kenny Combs to the fold and dive as a trio — their first three-piece outing was last year’s Father of Death EP — headfirst into murky riffing and heady heavy rock, made all the more spacious through cavern echo and the garage doom vocals Gaglia brings on the title-track, as well as the synth that surfaces on the subsequent interlude “Buried” and elsewhere throughout. The earlier “Beyond the Trees” is particularly bleak and otherworldly, but I won’t take away from the further-down procession of “Hill Bomb” and “The Slow Down” into “Final Ride,” the last of which closes out with scummer doom that’s familiar but distinct enough to be their own. There are moments on Skullactic Visions where, for as much as they could sound like Electric Wizard given the ingredients, I’m all the gladder they don’t.

LaGoon on Facebook

Interstellar Smoke Records webstore

Forbidden Place Records on Bandcamp

 

Maha Sohona, Endless Searcher

Maha Sohona endless searcher

Maha Sohona‘s second album comes some seven years after their self-titled debut, but who cares about time when you’ve got your headphones on and you’re surrounded by the richness of tone on offer throughout Endless Searcher‘s five rolling tracks? Heavy and laid back, the trio of guitarist/vocalist Johan Bernhardtson, bassist Thomas Hedlund and drummer David Lundsten finding some kinship with Polish three-piece Spaceslug in their post-Sungrazer blend of weight and flow, a jam like “Luftslot” nodding and conjuring depth even as it soars. Can’t argue with the quicker push of “A Black Star” or the purposefully straightforward “Scavengers” (where the title-line is delivered) but some of the mellow moments in opener “Leaves” and especially the building instrumental finisher “Orbit X” are even more satisfying for how effectively they move you place to place almost without your realizing it. I’ve got nothing for you if you can’t dig this vibe.

Maha Sohona on Facebook

Made of Stone Recordings on Bandcamp

 

The Bad Sugar Rush, Liar/Push Me

The Bad Sugar Rush Liar Push Me

Keen observers will recognize The Bad Sugar Rush vocalist René Hofmann from his work with Wight, but the work here alongside guitarist Josko Joke-Tovic, bassist Minyeong Fischer and drummer Peter Zettl is distinct from that other unit here, even as the Humble Pie-esque “Push Me” and semi-sleeze “Liar” both have some shade of funk to their procession. Both cuts circa four minutes makes for a suitable debut 7″ with respected purveyor H42 Records doing the honors, and the results are an encouragingly catchy display of what a first full-length might accomplish when and however such a thing emerges. There’s classic heavy rock as the foundation, but more than outright ’70s worship — though some of that too — it’s the organic feel of the songs that leaves an impression on the listener, though the background singers on “Push Me” don’t hurt in that regard, certainly. An auspicious and intriguind first showing.

The Bad Sugar Rush on Facebook

H42 Records website

 

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Karma to Burn to Release Thee Rabbit Hole Demo Collection April 2

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 26th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

I know it’s not what you’re supposed to say, but I like that first Karma to Burn record (discussed here) with the singer Roadrunner made them get. I also like them instrumental, so take that for what you will. And I know these are demos, but they sound pretty rad too. You’ll recognize the riffing of “Ten” even in the has-vocals form it arrives in the crunchy “Soylent Green Eyes.” This is early KTB stuff, but the ’95 demo songs that open are clean and clear and full, and even the Jim Davison stuff is cool to hear. It’s different. It’s different than you think of hearing Karma to Burn, but for fans who might not’ve been in the room circa 1994, it makes an interesting listen.

Karma to Burn have grappled one way or the other with having/not having a singer for over 25 years. Somehow, founding guitarist Will Mecum has always struck me as a fighter.

To the PR wire:

karma to burn thee rabbit hole

KARMA TO BURN – THEE RABBIT HOLE (H42 RECORDS)

For most people the earliest enduring image engrained in their minds from instrumental luminaries Karma to Burn is that of a porcelain statue of a girl on a motorcycle. That was the iconic cover of the debut album released on Roadrunner Records in 1997.

The self-titled record featured singer Jason Jarosz was hired under pressure from the record but shortly thereafter, the band separated from singer to go fully instrumental.

However, before Roadrunner Records – Jason Jarosz was not the first singer for Karma to Burn. The band were pursuing vocals and ideas recorded songs with singer Jim Davison. The three tracks that were recorded in Kentucky and had long been a mystery whether or not they even existed. After 27 years in the vault of guitarist Will Mecum and original drummer Nathan Limbaugh they are finally published in full on the new album Thee Rabbit Hole.

Before then in 1993 Karma to Burn recorded their first demo recordings in West Virginia with the original and classic line-up William Mecum, Nathan Limbaugh and Rich Mullins. The 4 tracks of the demo, which were released as demo tape in 1995, can now also be heard for the first time on vinyl on full on the new album Thee Rabbit Hole.

The entire demo recordings from the early days of Karma to Burn have been remastered from the original masters and will be released on H42 Records on APRIL 2nd 2021 / Presale start FEB 25th 2021. The original graphic designs have been updated and upgraded by long term collaborator Alexander von Wieding.

This release has been remastered by John McBain (Desert Sessions, Monster Magnet) and is presented as a deluxe inside out printed gatefold sleeve with two sided Poster, 1994 Promotion Photo and tarot card with three different color formats – white, clear and traditional black on 12” vinyl!

https://www.facebook.com/karmatoburnofficial/
https://www.instagram.com/karmatoburnofficial/
https://k2burn.net/
https://www.facebook.com/H42Records/
https://www.instagram.com/j.b.h42records
https://www.h42records.com

Karma to Burn, Live at Rock in Bourlon 2018

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Sons of Alpha Centauri to Reissue 2004 Demo This Spring

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 20th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

Ah heck, was 2004 really that long ago? Yes. For those of us of a certain age, some tragic subtraction brings the reminder that we’re now some 17 years removed from way back when, despite, you know, ongoing wars and ecological devastation and all that fun stuff. Anybody want a sub-prime mortgage?

Actually, UK progressive instrumentalists Sons of Alpha Centauri mark their 20th anniversary in 2021, which is even more impressive than their referencing a MiniDisc in the PR below — I loved MiniDiscs; you just knew the format was a bomb but they were so much fun anyway like a ’90s 8-track; I’d pay good money now for Alice in ChainsDirt on MiniDisc just to have it. If you didn’t catch wind of their latest offering — not on MiniDisc — 2019’s Buried Memories (review here) was their most adventurous work to-date, somewhere between an EP and an album with collaborative remixes from Justin K. Broadrick and James Plotkin.

And in addition to this reissue this Spring, they’ll also take part in the new Yawning Sons record, which, not that I’ve heard it yet or anything, is splendid.

There were apparently 13 copies of this demo done by hand. I bet that CD burner went at like 4x max. Ah, technology.

The PR wire brings fodder for nostalgia:

sons of alpha centauri

Sons of Alpha Centauri will release their first Demo back from 2004 on vinyl this spring!

Sons of Alpha Centauri (also known as Demo 2004) is the eponymous demo album by English instrumental rock band Sons of Alpha Centauri.

First published on 11 November 2004, only 13 copies of the album were released in a hand-crafted slipcase. The album’s artwork was designed by Seldon Hunt.

Sons of Alpha Centauri recorded two tracks for the demo in October 2004, stating that they were recorded on 10 microphones and then bounced down to a stereo mix via MiniDisc.

The tracks were recorded at The Yacht Club in Sheerness, on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent.

Now, after 17 years, SOAC and H42 Records decided to re-release the demos on vinyl.

Re-mastered by John McBain (Monster Magnet, Hater) and with revised artwork.

https://www.facebook.com/sonsofalphacentauri
https://sonsofalphacentauri.bandcamp.com/
http://www.sonsofalphacentauri.co.uk/
https://open.spotify.com/artist/5N9S58a1trUvMiavf5vwFl
https://www.h42records.com

Sons of Alpha Centauri, Buried Memories (2019)

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Mos Generator to Release I’ve Got Room in My Wagon EP

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 22nd, 2020 by JJ Koczan

I went back and looked. It hasn’t even been a week since the last time I posted about something Mos Generator — or in this case, Mös Generatör — were up to. It was last Friday, when they were announced as part of Glory or Death Records‘ tribute to Deep Purple. Plus, the same day, there was the announcement of Mos‘ upcoming split with Italy’s Di’Aul. That’s two, and if you count the fact that Tony Reed mastered the Stubb self-titled that closed out last week, there were three mentions in one single day, less than a week ago. And here’s another new release.

Tony, you alright, man?

As Mos Generator continues its frenetic, perhaps manic, pace of offerings and Reed bounces from recording with one project to another — Constance Tomb, Mos Generator, his upcoming solo debut (which is freaking awesome, by the way), probably six or seven more — he’s got this EP announced through H42 Records even before the band’s previously announced split with Void Vator shows up on the same label! That’s out July 31. Mark your Releases of Reed 2020 calendar accordingly, and I’ll do the same.

Shit is nuts, is all I’m saying.

Here’s the EP info:

mos generator ive got room in my wagon

Mos Generator releasing new Vinyl EP of the series ‘The plundering of the vaults” called I’ve got room in my wagon.

Release September 4th 2020
Presale August 14th

New 12″-vinyl EP from Mös Generatör (MOS GENERATOR) coming September 4th. This will be a special Collectors Item limited to only 250 copies with exclusive silkscreened B-Side.

Diane is a Husker Du song I used to play in a band in the late 80s and when the idea of doing one of their songs came up, this was the first tune I thought about. I’m not sure what gave me the balls to reach out to Bent from Motorpsycho to play bass on it, but I did, and he agreed. I sent him a demo that I did of the song and he sent back bass (5 different tracks of it) and vocal tracks on the choruses, which was a nice surprise. Then I had Jono replace my demo drums and I re-recorded guitars (with that classic Bob Mould scratchy guitar sound) and did a proper vocal take.

The other three songs are what I’m calling “the plundering of the vaults”. This has been going on for a few years now and it’s hard to believe there is still a nice well of material. “Flower & Song” is a live demo from 2017 with overdubs on it. The song is taken from a side project I have called HeavyPink and was being re-recorded for the Shadowlands album but never made it past this demo. I forgot how good it turned out and I’m glad it’s getting released. The other 2 songs, “Slow/Moody” & “Early Mourning (live at Freak Valley)”, were both previously issued on cassette only by H42 in the deluxe edition of a split 7″ we did with Daily Thompson in 2015. Slow/Moody is another live demo with overdubs we did in 2014. We were testing the sound quality of Shawn’s living room to see it was worth recording in and we wrote this song on that day. It has a very ambient sound that works well for the song. The record cover was done by my old friend Mike the Pike in the style of the Pettibon / SST records album covers and I did the Husker Du style MG logo to finish it off.
(Tony Reed, Mos Generator)

The vinyl will be available in following editions:

lim. 50 copies on clear red vinyl with gold silkscreened b-side
lim. 70 copies on clear red vinyl with white silkscreened b-side
black vinyl with white silkscreened b-side

http://www.facebook.com/MosGenerator
http://www.instagram.com/mos_generator
https://mosgenerator.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/H42Records/
https://www.instagram.com/j.b.h42records
https://www.h42records.com

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Mos Generator & Void Vator to Release Covering Queen Split 7″ on July 31

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 20th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

With the ready confession that I’m a sucker for such things, you pretty much had me at ‘Mos Generator cover.’ There are few who dig as deep into ’70s aficionadodom as Tony Reed, so when it comes to picking tracks to take on with his band (or on his own, as he’s also done), he knows what he’s doing. That’s not to take away from Void Vator, who share the other half of the double-A side Covering Queen 7″ due out July 31 on H42 Records. The Los Angeles classic metallers issued their Stranded full-length through Ripple last year, and if the sharpness of their logo doesn’t clue you into the kind of bite on offer, I suggest you find an online class in thrash history to take. There has to be one somewhere, and if it’s not taught by Jim Durkin from Dark Angel, it should be.

How does one become a degree-granting institution, anyhow?

Sorry, sidetracked. Here’s PR wire info about the split:

mos generator son and daughter

void vator tie your mother down

MOS GENERATOR & VOID VATOR Split-7″ vinyl COVERING QUEEN

Despite corona we are still working on the upcoming releases. On July 31st there comes a new small piece of plastic that you have all been waiting for, even if you don’t know it yet.

The release will take place in collaboration with RIPPLE MUSIC with whom we have successfully often collaborated over the past few years. Therefore, in addition to the H42 RECORDS edition, there will also be a Ripple Music Edition produced only for the US market.

Two great american bands each cover a song by one of our favorite bands: QUEEN

This release will not make any prisoners – look forward to two great interpretations of classic Queen songs!

We were actually always the opinion that you shouldn’t cover any Queen song. But after we heard the master of the split 7″-vinyl, we are converted! Great punchy versions are waiting for you …. let yourself be surprised and “let me entertain YOU”!

RELEASE JULY 31st in different editions

EU H42 Records Edition on clear vinyl (ltd. 60 with OBI) H42-066
US Ripple Records Edition on gold vinyln (ltd. 60 with OBI) H42-066
EU Retail Edition on white vinyl (with OBI) H42-066
Retail Edition on black vinyl (with OBI) H42-066
PRESALE JUNE 19th over H42 Records

Side A ‘Son & Daughter’
(original by Queen, B. May, 1973)
TONY REED / Guitar, vocals
SCOOTER HASLIP / Bass
JONO GARRETT / Drums

Side AA ‘Tie Your Mother Down’
(original by Queen, B. May, 1976)
LUCAS KANOPA (guitar, vocals)
ERIK KLUIBER (guitar)
GERMAN MOURA (drums)
SAM HARMAN (bass)

http://www.facebook.com/MosGenerator
http://www.instagram.com/mos_generator
https://mosgenerator.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/voidvator/
https://www.instagram.com/voidvator/
https://www.facebook.com/H42Records/
https://www.instagram.com/j.b.h42records
https://www.h42records.com

Mos Generator & Void Vator, Covering Queen split teaser

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Review & Full LP Premiere: Sons of Alpha Centauri, Buried Memories

Posted in audiObelisk on October 8th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

SONS OF ALPHA CENTAURI Buried Memories Cover

[Click play above to stream Sons of Alpha Centauri’s Buried Memories in full. It’s out Friday and available to order here.]

UK progressive instrumentalists Sons of Alpha Centauri will release the new LP Buried Memories on Oct. 13 through H42 Records, and it’s an offering that immediately begs inspection. Is it an album or a collaboration? An EP, since the first side is three different versions of the same track? As the follow-up to the band’s 2018 outing, Continuum (review here) — which was essentially the band on their own, even if they did work with Aaron Turner (Sumac, ex-Isis) as producer/mixer and John McBain (ex-Monster Magnet) for mastering — it continues a string of joined-f0rces efforts that goes back to their 2009 outing with Karma to Burn side-project Treasure Cat, which included tracks by Alpha Cat with both bands working together. Along the way, in addition to their 2007 self-titled debut (discussed here) and Continuum some 11 years later, they’ve also worked with Gary Arce of Yawning Man as Yawning Sons for the 2009 album, Ceremony to the Sunset (review here), and had a trilogy of splits with Karma to Burn (2010, 2014, 2015) as well as splits with A Death Cinematic and Hotel Wrecking City Traders/WaterWays (review here) in 2010 and 2012, respectively.

All of this, as one might expect, has made them somewhat hard to track, as they’re in and out of different incarnations and collaborations, but I think the band probably wouldn’t have it another way, and Buried Memories shows some of where that impulse comes from. The six-track/47-minute 12″ dwells in its complication no less than it dwells in instrumentalists depth and purpose, and I should point out right away that while “Hitmen” is the first three songs, not one version is immediately recognizable from the others. And that’s doubly to Sons of Alpha Centauri‘s credit, because it shows how much they’re willing to let their material be malleable. You see, each half of Buried Memories is dedicated to an outside mix collaboration. For “Hitmen,” they bring in three different incarnations of Godflesh‘s Justin K. Broadrick, who takes the song on first under the guise of himself, then as Jesu and finally as JK Flesh, bringing a distinctly different feel to each edition of the same root work. It’s perhaps easier to do since the songs don’t have verses or choruses weighing them down to a strict structure, but it’s true that each one carves its own impression, and as they move from eight-and-a-half, nine- and nine-and-a-half-minute versions, Broadrick seems to pull the track further from its foundation and bring something of his own to it. It’s not just a simple process of mixing in the sense of finding the right volume for Marlon King‘s guitar or Blake‘s synth, Nick Hannon‘s bass and Stevie B.‘s drums, but of exploring what distance “Hitmen” can cover from its origin. As the Broadrick mix turns to the more melodic Jesu mix to the avant-electro JK Flesh mix, that distance turns out to be pretty vast.

The second-side collaborator is no less than James Plotkin, whose mastering and production work covers myriad outfits and whose work in Khanate alone — never mind his copious other projects — deserves an eternity of thank-you cards, who takes on three different songs, all under the guise of himself. So side A, one song mixed by three versions of the same person. Side AA, three songs mixed by one version of the same person.

Everyone got it?

Okay.

Sons of Alpha Centauri 2019

And much to Plotkin‘s credit, the three inclusions he takes on also push further and further out as they go. “Warhero” (9:33) is relatively straight ahead, but in comparison to Broadrick‘s “Hitmen” shows a focus on bringing out a sense of space in the work, while the shorter “Remembrance” (2:42) dips into minimalist drone guitar almost as a transition into closer “SS Montgomery,” which also takes on a more electronic vibe, in a kind of dark-industrial vein that still holds a heavy presence thanks to the prominence of the live drums, but nonetheless surrounds those with a chaos-swirl of synth and the guitar. “SS Montgomery” is the payoff for the whole release, pushing through clarity toward destructive noise wash in its quick apex and leaving behind residual noise on a long outward fade, and the fact that even given all the shifts of style and intent that Buried Memories holds, Sons of Alpha Centauri would be able to pull everything together at the end speaks to what makes them so underrated in the first place. They are very much a conceptual outfit but still not blind to the basic purpose of making an album, of making songs.

That underlying message comes through clearly across Buried Memories, and whether you consider it an album, an EP, a one-off, or something else, there’s never any doubt Sons of Alpha Centauri are ready and willing to push themselves to take their music to new places and to try and encompass different ideas and evoke various mindsets as they go. It’s not every band who would be willing to hand off their material like this, even to the likes of Plotkin and Broadrick, let alone put it out in such a way that allows the tracks to take on a life of their own within their overarching catalog. I won’t pretend to know what Sons of Alpha Centauri might do next or where they’ll go from here — though they were certainly busy enough in between, it’s notable that it was 11 years from their self-titled to Continuum — but the way their progressiveness extends not only to the sound of the band but to the very makeup and intent thereof continues to make them individually flexible in a universe that seems rigid by comparison. Whatever they might do, this openness and dexterity can only continue to bolster their work. Imagine asking Justin Broadrick for three mixes by different personae. Imagine telling James Plotkin, “Just go with it.” The beauty of Buried Memories is in its outward movement and the sense of freedom it portrays: art as a living thing, music as sculpting clay to be shaped and re-shaped. As regards the creative, there are few ideas more noble.

Sons of Alpha Centauri on Thee Facebooks

Sons of Alpha Centauri on Bandcamp

Sons of Alpha Centauri website

H42 Records website

H42 Records on Thee Facebooks

H42 Records on Bandcamp

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Sons of Alpha Centauri Announce Buried Memories Collaborative LP with JK Broadrick & James Plotkin

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 20th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Sons of Alpha Centauri 2019

You have to give it to Sons of Alpha Centauri: they keep good company. These are gentlemen of refined taste. Their last album? Produced by Aaron Harris of Isis and mastered by John McBain, formerly of Monster Magnet. Before that, oh, they’d worked with the likes of Gary Arce and Karma to Burn, and so on, producing killer splits and collaborative offerings in the process. Now? They’ve got a kinda-EP/kinda-LP called Buried Memories coming that has four songs total — one is a revisit of a song from their first record — with mixes by Justin Broadrick, who does three different versions of “Hitmen” in various guises as Justin K. Broadrick, JK Flesh and Jesu, and James Plotkin, who’s only James Plotkin throughout but when you played in Khanate that’s enough as far as I’m concerned. Sons of Alpha Centauri‘s sense of sonic adventurousness continues to extend to a meta level, and if you’re not intrigued to hear this, you probably just haven’t paid enough attention. Snap to it.

It doesn’t actually say so below, but the press kit lists Oct. 13 as the release date through H42 Records, so let’s go with that. They’ve got a quick teaser posted as well, and you’ll find that at the bottom of the post, along with the stream of 2018’s Continuum (review here). Enjoy:

SONS OF ALPHA CENTAURI Buried Memories Cover

H42 Records: SONS OF ALPHA CENTAURI Announce New Album with JK BROADRICK and JAMES PLOTKIN!

Sons of Alpha Centauri are back to release Buried Memories, a collaborative post metal colossus and the second part of the journey that started with last album Continuum!

The new album Buried Memories has been mixed by industrial metal icon Justin K. Broadrick (Godflesh, Jesu…) and ambient gloom metal maestro James Plotkin (Khanate, Jodis etc.). Buried Memories contains two 10 minute slabs of eclectic ambient progressive rock and a series of interpretative remixes of the theme tracks by both Broadrick and Plotkin.

Justin Broadrick collaborates with the band on side A through the progressive riff saga of Hitmen which he has mixed and also provided two remixes in his guise as Jesu and another as the eponymous JK Flesh. These three staggering pieces of music elapse over 27 minutes of pure instrumental voyage in a way only Sons of Alpha Centauri and Justin Broadrick could deliver!

James Plotkin and SOAC collaborate through several tracks including Warhero a sprawling 10 minute odyssey and a masterful remix of SS Montgomery – the single from the bands classic instrumental landmark debut album.

After entering the Continuum (2018) the listener must now bury their memories. The darkness will envelope the listeners in this second part of their epic sprawling progressive dark rock saga.

The LP version of Buried Memories comes on a selection of 180 gram heavyweight colored vinyl in a gatefold sleeve with photo inlay and download code.

Tracklist
1. Hitmen [Justin K. Broadrick Mix]
2. Hitmen [Jesu Remix]
3. Hitmen [JK Flesh Remix]
4. Warhero [James Plotkin Mix]
5. Remembrance [James Plotkin Mix]
6. SS Montgomery [James Plotkin Remix]

https://www.facebook.com/sonsofalphacentauri
https://sonsofalphacentauri.bandcamp.com/
http://www.sonsofalphacentauri.co.uk/
https://www.h42records.com

Sons of Alpha Centauri, Buried Memories teaser

Sons of Alpha Centauri, Continuum (2018)

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Quarterly Review: Salem’s Bend, Motorpsycho, Sigils, Lord Dying, Sunn O))), Crimson Heat, Molior Superum, Moros, Glitter Wizard, Gourd

Posted in Reviews on July 2nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

Today is Tuesday, I’m pretty sure, and hey, that’s nifty. I thought yesterday kicked off the Summer 2019 Quarterly Review really well, and any time I get through one of these without my head caving in on itself, I feel like that’s a victory, so yeah. Now we wade even deeper into what will ultimately be a 60-review plunge, with another 10 offerings of various stripes and takes on heavy. Some higher profile stuff in here, which is fine, I guess, but most of it is pretty recent, so if there’s something you haven’t heard yet, I hope you find something you dig, as always.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Salem’s Bend, Supercluster

salems bend supercluster

This is the sound of a band who’ve figured it out. Salem’s Bend have taken retroist boogie and modern tonalism, production and melody and turned it into something of their own. Supercluster (on Ripple) follows the Los Angeles trio of guitarist/vocalist Bobby Parker, bassist/vocalist Kevin Schofield and drummer Zach Huling‘s 2016 self-titled debut (review here), and with an uptick in the complexity of songwriting overall and particularly in the arrangements of dual-vocals, it is a marked step forward palpable as much in the hook of “Ride the Night” — and if you’re gonna call a song that, you better bring it — as the heavy crash ending “Heavenly Manna” and the languid, lucidly dreaming groove in “Infinite Horizon,” which appears ahead of the acoustic hidden track “Beltaine Chant.” That won’t be the last time these guys unplug, but whether it’s the raw Zeppelin vibe of “Show Me the Witch” or the crunching low-end nod of “Thinking Evil” or the leadoff thrust in “Spaceduster,” the message is clear that Salem’s Bend have arrived.

Salem’s Bend on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music webstore

 

Motorpsycho, The Crucible

motorpsycho the crucible

The latest in Motorpsycho‘s nigh-on-impossible-to-chart and ever-growing discography is The Crucible, issued through Stickman Records, and taking some of the heavy rock push of 2017’s The Tower (review here) and stretching out to more willfully progressive execution across three increasingly extended tracks. Running from shortest to longest, the album begins with “Psychotzar” (8:44) which resolves itself in maddening turns after fleshing through an energetic beginning, and rounds out side A with the 11-minute “Lux Aeterna,” with vocal harmonies and mellotron building into a graceful swell of volume before a headspinner solo and jam take hold, break to near-silence and finish in a burst of directly earliest-King Crimson majesty. This all before the 20:51, side B-consuming title-track crashes in with immediate tension and plays back and forth at releasing that through a course that is rife with melody and an emphasis on the mastery of Motorpsycho over their sound and direction. Onto the list of the year’s best records it goes.

Motorpsycho on Thee Facebooks

Stickman Records website

 

Sigils, You Built the Altar, You Lit the Leaves

Sigils You Built the Altar You Lit the Leaves

Hypnotic and immersive heavy post-rock and metal becomes the genre tag well enough, but what New York’s Sigils do on their markedly impressive self-recorded, self-released debut album, You Built the Altar, You Lit the Leaves, is more soulful and emotive than “post-” anything generally conveys. With four tracks/38 minutes best taken as a whole, single listening experience, the band offer resonant depths of tone and vocal echoes centered around airy but still weighted guitar and consuming rhythms brought to bear with the patience of an organic Jesu. The ultimate triumph is in the melody and payoff of 13-plus-minute closer “The Wicked, the Cloaked,” which seems to manifest the haunting sensibility that “Samhain” and “Ritual” advocate on side A, but neither will I discount the chug of the prior “Faceless” or the underlying churn in those two leadoff tracks. Especially as a first album, You Built the Altar, You Lit the Leaves casts a sonic identity for itself that is striking and sees the band already beginning to push themselves forward. One hopes they continue to do so.

Sigils on Thee Facebooks

Sigils on Bandcamp

 

Lord Dying, Mysterium Tremendum

Lord Dying Mysterium Tremendum

Following 2015’s Poisoned Altars (review here), subsequent years of touring and a jump from Relapse to eOne Metal, Lord Dying‘s Mysterium Tremendum is enough of a stylistic melting pot that the best thing to do is call it progressive and just let it roll. Comprised of 11 tracks themed around death and the afterlife, the record takes the Portland, Oregon, outfit’s prior death-doom ways and expands them to incorporate an array of styles and melodies, like a vocoder-less Cynic or even Atheist, but more focused on the songs themselves. It’s being widely hailed as one of 2019’s best metal releases, and honestly I can’t speak to that because who the hell knows what “metal” even means, but it sees Lord Dying pull off a major sonic leap and if this is the direction they’re headed from now on, then I guess “metal” is going to be whatever the hell they want. So there. Expect to see a lot of Lord Dying t-shirts around in the years to come.

Lord Dying on Thee Facebooks

eOne Heavy on Thee Facebooks

 

Sunn O))), Life Metal

sunn life metal

The core of Sunn O)))‘s sound — that is, the drone-riffed tonality of Greg Anderson and Stephen O’Malley, has proven amorphous enough over the last two decades to either be orchestral, minimalist, impossibly bleak, or now, something brighter. The Steve Albini-recorded Life Metal is one of two purported Sunn O))) releases slated for this year, and it follows behind 2015’s Kannon (review here) in manifesting their project in a new way. It is 68 minutes long, comprised of four tracks — the first, “Between Sleipnir’s Breaths,” is notable for the inclusion of vocals from Hildur Guðnadóttir; the rest is instrumental — and while one wonders how much is the power of suggestion amid their colorful artwork and titular presentation, “life” as opposed to death metal, etc., their resonance throughout “Aurora” (19:07) and “Novae” (25:24) strips away much of the flourish that has engulfed Sunn O))) in their post-maturity years and reminds of the power at their center. They chose the right producer.

Sunn O))) on Bandcamp

Southern Lord Recordings website

 

Crimson Heat, Crimson Heat

Crimson Heat Crimson Heat

With a handful of tracks of dirt-coated Sabbathian doom rock, Crimson Heat make their debut with a self-titled demo/EP in no small part defined by its lack of pretense. I’d buy the tape at the show. You’d buy the tape at the show. The download is free. Clearly this is a band figuring out what they want to do and trying to catch a few ears, but the sound is right on. Notable as well for the participation of Sam Marsh of Sinister Haze, tracks like “At My Door” blend Tee Pee Records-style skate vibes with darker traditionalist crunch, and the subsequent acoustic interlude “Firewood” indeed adds a bit of burning-stove smell to the procession ahead of doomed shuffler finale “Deep Red.” They might be new, but from the nod of “Premonition” and the double-layered guitar of “Fortune Teller,” they very clearly know where they’re coming from. What they do with that from here will tell the tale, but for now, selling the tape at the show isn’t nothing. Guess they better get on pressing some up.

Sinister Haze on Thee Facebooks

Crimson Heat on Bandcamp

 

Molior Superum, As Time Slowly Passes By…

Molior Superum As Time Slowly Passes By

The boogie runs strong in Molior Superum‘s first album in seven years, As Time Slowly Passes By… (on H42 Records), the title of which might just hint at the distance between their two full-lengths. Their debut was Into the Sun (discussed here) in 2012, and they answered that with 2014’s Electric Escapism (review here), but for a band who sound so energized on cuts like “Att Födas Rostig” and “Through Valleys of Wonder,” the time differential from one record to the next is curious. Still, no question the Swedish four-piece make the most of the 36 minutes they present on their sophomore offering, realizing classic vibes and fuzz tones through modern production that recalls the likes of GraveyardJeremy Irons and the Ratgang Malibus and even, on “Into the Grey,” Demon Head‘s doomier fare, with an overarching bluesy sensibility that remains exciting even in moments like the hypnotic midsection build of centerpiece “Divinity Blues.” Even the closing soft-guitar title-track has movement. They sound hungry in a way that suggests maybe it won’t be another seven years before a third LP arrives.

Molior Superum on Thee Facebooks

H42 Records

 

Moros, Weapon

moros weapon

Just because Philly is leading the Eastern Seaboard in terms of psychedelic charge, that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for the guttersludge extremity of a unit like Moros. The destructive three-piece’s first full-length, Weapon (on Hidden Deity Records), is vicious in its bite and downright nasty in its groove, abrasive from the static intro “(Vortexwound)” onward through “We Don’t Deserve Death” and “Devil Worshipper,” which recalls slower Napalm Death in its riff but is met with a harsh scream as well as shouts. The brutality continues through “Wizard of Loneliness” and into the outright pummel of “Death Nebula,” such that the locked-in nodder groove in the second half of “Every Day is Worse Than the Last” feels almost like a lifeboat, though there’s little salvation on offer in the closing title-track, which fades out on a noisy note in much the same way it faded in. Filthy, mean and heavy. The crust is real and it is thick.

Moros on Thee Facebooks

Hidden Deity Records website

 

Glitter Wizard, Opera Villains

glitter wizard opera villains

I was enticed to dig further into Glitter Wizard‘s Opera Villains (on Heavy Psych Sounds) by the recent video for opener “A Spell So Evil” (posted here), and it’s not a choice I regret. The San Fran-based weirdo collective are putting on a show, no doubt, but the quality of their songwriting on “The Toxic Lady” and the punkish underpinning of “Dead Man’s Wax,” etc., puts them in a classic rocking no man’s land in which they absolutely revel. The laser-strewn drama of “March of the Red Cloaks” and the organ- and flute-laced swing of “Hall of the Oyster King” embrace the grandiose in brazen fashion, and thereby make it that much easier for the listener to join them on this wavelength that is so thoroughly their own. Closer “Warm Blood” taps prog-of-old pomposity in its largesse while the earlier “Fear of the Dark” seems to do the same thing with just an acoustic guitar and some vocal harmonies. A record that knew exactly what it wanted to be and then became that thing. Awesome.

Glitter Wizard on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds website

 

Gourd, Moldering Aberrations

gourd moldering aberrations

Ambient darkness is inflicted with only the cruelest of spirit throughout Gourd‘s Moldering Aberrations EP, the Irish two-piece alternating minimalist spaciousness with gurgling drone intensity, the extremity of which doesn’t so much come through in pummel or drive, but in the swell of volume and its contrast with the emptiness surrounding. Also the growls. Three tracks are offered up like monuments to pain, and through “Befoulment,” “Mycelium” and the title-track, they conjure a heft of atmosphere as much as one of low end, the claustrophobic feeling of their craft coming through even in the relatively peaceful opening of the last song. That peace, of course, isn’t so much moment of respite as it is precursor to the next plunge, and either way, Gourd work in grueling fashion over 23 minutes to dismantle consciousness and expectation with a grim, distortion-fueled chaos from which there seems to be no escape, until the rumble and noise leave “Moldering Aberrations” and there’s just residual hum and a cymbal crash left. Madness.

Gourd on Thee Facebooks

Cursed Monk Records on Bandcamp

 

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