Human Impact Announce Nov./Dec. Tour Dates

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

human impact (Photo by Jim Coleman)

First, blah blah, it’s nice to see a list of tour dates. Specifically, it’s nice to see Human Impact, who released their self-titled debut (review here) in March 2020 and did one gig before the shutdown, get out and about. Third, it’s nice to see venues like Metro Gallery, Kung Fu Necktie, The Pyramid Scheme and so on resurface having in one way or the other weathered the hard times that were and may yet be again, depending on variants, vaccinations, politics, whatever else. Thinking about that last part I guess isn’t so nice.

But hey, the bulk of the news here is good. Given just how ‘New York’ Human Impact are, speaking aesthetically as well as in geography, I’m curious to know how they play to other regions, but certainly their pedigree precedes them, blah blah Unsane, Cop Shoot Cop, Swans, blah blah. You don’t need me to tell you about it, I’m sure.

The PR wire has dates and at the bottom you’ll find the stream of EP01, a compilation Human Impact released in March of this year, as well as their video for “Recognition” from it.

Here you go:

human impact tour

HUMAN IMPACT ANNOUNCE DEBUT U.S. TOUR

SELF-TITLED DEBUT ALBUM FROM MEMBERS OF UNSANE, COP SHOOT COP & SWANS ARRIVED IN MARCH 2020

Human Impact, the noise rock MVPs featuring Jim Coleman (Cop Shoot Cop), Chris Spencer (Unsane), Chris Pravdica (Swans, Xiu Xiu) and Phil Puleo (Cop Shoot Cop, Swans), have announced a U.S. tour kicking off on Nov. 26 at Brooklyn’s Market Hotel.

“After our debut album being released on the eve of pandemic lockdown, we are extremely happy to finally get out and start doing some live shows,” says Coleman of the band’s debut U.S. trek. “We love our recorded material, but Human Impact is meant to be experienced live and in person. This fall US tour will kick off an ongoing effort to tour through the US and Europe through 2021 and 2022.”

Human Impact issued their self-titled debut album via Ipecac Recordings in March of 2020. A tour was due to follow a week later. The foursome eked out one live performance before the international lockdowns began: March 14 at Brooklyn’s Saint Vitus, in what would be the venerable venue’s final pre-COVID performance as well.

In March of this year, Human Impact released the eight-song EP01. The EP features a mix of singles and unreleased B-sides that were recorded simultaneously to the debut album. A video for the track “Recognition” (https://youtu.be/lwYh9W1RYxA) arrived simultaneously. The vinyl version of EP01 arrives on Aug. 13.

Human Impact tour dates:
November 26 Brooklyn, NY Market Hotel
November 27 Baltimore, MD Metro Gallery
November 28 Philadelphia, PA Kung Fu Necktie
November 30 Pittsburgh, PA Club Café
December 1 Indianapolis, IN HiFi
December 2 Detroit, MI PJ’s Lager House
December 3 Grand Rapids, MI The Pyramid Scheme
December 4 St. Louis, MO Off Broadway Night Club
December 5 Kansas City, MO Record Bar
December 6 Minneapolis, MN 7th Street Entry
December 8 Chicago, IL Empty Bottle
December 9 Louisville, KY Headliner’s Music Hall
December 10 Newport, KY Southgate House Revival Room
December 11 Cleveland, OH Grog Shop

Child Bite open on the Dec. 1 to 11 dates.

HUMAN IMPACT is
Chris Spencer (Unsane, UXO): Vocals/Guitar
Jim Coleman (Cop Shoot Cop): Electonics
Chris Pravdica (Swans, Xiu Xiu): Bass
Phil Puleo (Cop Shoot Cop, Swans): Drums

https://www.facebook.com/humanimpactband/
https://www.instagram.com/humanimpactband/
https://humanimpact.bandcamp.com/
https://www.humanimpactband.com/
https://www.facebook.com/ipecac/
http://ipecac.com/
https://blixtmerchandise.shop/ipecac-music-store

Human Impact, EP01 (2021)

Human Impact, “Recognition” official video

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Human Impact Post “Recognition” Video; EP01 Out Now

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 16th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

human impact (Photo by Jim Coleman)

If you’re looking for ways to mark the one-year anniversary of COVID-19 shutdowns in America — and if you are… okay… — the release of Human Impact‘s 2020 self-titled debut (review here) seems as fitting as any I might offer. The band’s trenchant noise execution and severity were born of a range of other subjects but were nonetheless suited to the ferocious anxiety of that moment when everyone save for undervalued essential workers and complete assholes headed for quarantine. Over the course of 2020, Human Impact trickled out a few more singles, and those have now been assembled as EP01 with vinyl impending through Ipecac, who also released the album. Aug. 13 is the due date.

They call it an EP. Okay. It’s eight songs and somewhere around 40 minutes long, so take that as you will. “Contact,” “Genetic,” “10 Days” and “Subversion” were previously issued through Bandcamp, where now the entirety of EP01 can be streamed. Considering all this stuff was recorded at the same time as the debut, that was one hell of a session. Plenty of anthropocene downfall to document, I suppose. They’ll have no shortage of inspiration for their sophomore outing either.

From the PR wire:

human impact ep01

HUMAN IMPACT RELEASE EP01 VIA IPECAC RECORDINGS

WATCH THE “RECOGNITION” VIDEO

Human Impact, the New York-based band featuring Jim Coleman (Cop Shoot Cop), Chris Spencer (Unsane), Chris Pravdica (Swans) and Phil Puleo (Cop Shoot Cops/Swan), have released an eight-song EP, dubbed EP01, via Ipecac Recordings.

A video for “Recognition” debuted this morning, with singer/guitar player Chris Spencer sharing the experience that sparked the song: “Do you ever feel like you’re being watched? The inspiration for ‘Recognition’ came from a time when I was at the Hong Kong International Airport. The track focuses on the advent of global surveillance and loss of personal privacy via facial recognition programs and data tracking. As our world becomes more connected we’re forfeiting our right to a private existence.”

The EP’s release arrives precisely one year after the band unveiled their self-titled debut, Human Impact. The new EP features a mix of singles and unreleased B-sides that were recorded simultaneously to the debut album. The foursome eked out one live performance before the international lockdowns began: March 14th at Brooklyn’s Saint Vitus, in what would be the venerable venue’s final pre-COVID performance as well.

Available now on all dsps (http://lnk.to/HumanEP01), EP01 is also available as a limited-edition clear vinyl pre-order via Ipecac’s webstore and Bandcamp. 1000 copies will be available worldwide with an August 13th release date.

EP01 track list:
Recognition
Genetic
Sparrow
Less Than
Transist
Contact
10 Days
Subversion

HUMAN IMPACT is
Chris Spencer (Unsane, UXO): Vocals/Guitar
Jim Coleman (Cop Shoot Cop): Electonics
Chris Pravdica (Swans, Xiu Xiu): Bass
Phil Puleo (Cop Shoot Cop, Swans): Drums

https://www.facebook.com/humanimpactband/
https://www.instagram.com/humanimpactband/
https://humanimpact.bandcamp.com/
https://www.humanimpactband.com/
https://www.facebook.com/ipecac/
http://ipecac.com/
https://blixtmerchandise.shop/ipecac-music-store

Human Impact, EP01 (2021)

Human Impact, “Recognition” official video

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Alain Johannes Posts “If Morning Comes” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 10th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Alain Johannes (Photo by Tom Bronowski)

Alain Johannes — known as a solo artist as well as for his work alongside Chris Cornell, Queens of the Stone Age, and on and on and on — released his new album, Hum (review here), on July 31 through Ipecac. To be perfectly honest, I don’t have much to add to that review when it comes to talking about the record; bottom line is it’s quite good and I think you’d do well to give it some time out of your busy day. “If Morning Comes” is the fourth video from Hum to surface (the others are all below), and it arrives with the noteworthy direction of Liam LynchTenacious D, Queens of the Stone Age, Sifl & Olly etc. — who basically takes Johannes‘ head and sends it on a Zardozian journey for the duration of the track. In a word, enjoyable.

If you haven’t yet taken the time to dive into Hum, I’m not gonna argue with you. Dude doesn’t need my advocacy and the song and the video do a better job than I could hope to anyhow. Melody. Atmosphere. Floating head. Alright, I’ll stop.

Please enjoy:

Alain Johannes, “If Morning Comes” official video

Alain Johannes, who released his third solo album, Hum, on Friday via Ipecac Recordings (https://lnkfi.re/AJHum), has shared a video for the song “If Morning Comes.”

“’If Morning Comes’ was one of the most cathartic for me during the making of Hum. Many difficult nights while I was ill those words were like my mantra,” explains Johannes of the song which encapsulates the personal nature of the 10-song album, a release written during a period of illness and mourning that found Johannes taking stock of his existence, and his future. The psychedelic video, which echoes the meditative quality of the song was directed by Liam Lynch. Johannes says of the clip: “My dear friend Liam Lynch created this intense world so visually stunning and resonant with the song. He’s the man!”

A series of eye-catching videos have been released in the lead-up to Hum’s arrival: “Hallowed Bones”, “Free” and the title track, “Hum”. The clips have celebrated the beauty of life and the world we inhabit.

Alain Johannes, “Hallowed Bones” official video

Alain Johannes, “Free” official video

Alain Johannes, “Hum” official video

Alain Johannes website

Alain Johannes on Thee Facebooks

Alain Johannes on Instagram

Ipecac Recordings webstore

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Human Impact Release New Two-Songer Transist / Subversion

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 29th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

human impact

Terminology hasn’t really caught up yet with modern the two-song release. The tradition, obviously, comes from a single’s A and B sides, and very often, that tradition is upheld, and a band releases a single as a 7″. As both songs on Human Impact‘s new foray, Transist / Subversion, run near/at six and a half minutes, they’re a little long to fit on a 7″, and unless they’re feeling cheeky and want to do an 8″ — they wouldn’t be first — and if they’re just leaving it digital, it is what it is. When it comes to this kind of thing, I like “two-songer.” Says what it is, gives the B-side a bit of validity, and lets the audience know they’re getting more than just a “single.” If you have to specify, you might as well be specific.

So hey, Human Impact have a new two-songer. It’s not an EP. It’s not just a single — the second track, “Subversion” is a noise wash but lacks nothing for substance in that — but for those who dug the band’s 2020 self-titled debut (review here), it’s an appreciated check-in from the corporeal-chaos noisemakers.

It’s pick-your-apocalypse these days, so we might as well take joy as it comes, huh? Here you go:

human impact transist subversion

HUMAN IMPACT SHARE TWO STANDALONE SINGLES; “TRANSIST” AND “SUBVERSION”

To find out more, visit: https://lnk.to/HumanImpact

Following the release of their debut self-titled album, Human Impact have been releasing brand new material, including the recent single, “Contact” which was written and recorded shortly before the outbreak of Covid-19. The band share two further standalone singles “Transist” and “Subversion.”

About these latest singles the band remark, “Transist” was from a group of songs that we recorded and mixed just prior to the current pandemic. The song is a reflection on what the world looks like as things fall apart. Our broken ideals, the unstable foundations of our civilization, our trusting dependence on technology and our subservience to the ruling governments/corporations. The shining object held up by society that will never be realized. All creating a pressing need for change.”

They continue, ““Subversion” emerged from a 30 minute intro from our last live show (on March 14). We started that show with a 30 minute improv noise/ambient set. All members of the band have varied histories in soundtrack work and scoring music to picture. We look forward to getting back to live shows and expanding on this more.”

HUMAN IMPACT is
Chris Spencer (Unsane, UXO): Vocals/Guitar
Jim Coleman (Cop Shoot Cop): Electonics
Chris Pravdica (Swans, Xiu Xiu): Bass
Phil Puleo (Cop Shoot Cop, Swans): Drums

https://www.facebook.com/humanimpactband/
https://www.instagram.com/humanimpactband/
https://humanimpact.bandcamp.com/
https://www.humanimpactband.com/
https://www.facebook.com/ipecac/
http://ipecac.com/
https://blixtmerchandise.shop/ipecac-music-store

Human Impact, Transist / Subversion (2020)

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Album Review: Alain Johannes, Hum

Posted in Reviews on June 25th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Alain Johannes Hum

While to heavy rock heads he’s undoubtedly best known as the erstwhile guitarist for Queens of the Stone Age, Alain Johannes‘ career stretches back decades and has seen him work in various groups and styles, including New Wave, alternative rock, desert rock, and so on. Ten years ago, he released Spark, his first solo album, through Josh Homme‘s Rekords Records and Mike Patton‘s Ipecac Recordings, and after other self-released solo offerings and collaboration with Patton in The Alain Johannes Trio feat. Mike Patton for the 2018 single “Luna a Sol,” Johannes presents Hum through Ipecac as the third full-length under his own name and the first since 2014’s Fragments and Wholes Vol. 1, though obviously he’s done other work between. The prevailing spirit of Hum, though, is personal and intimate, and the album stretching across just 35 minutes with 10 tracks that vary in arrangement perhaps more in mood, Johannes having no trouble at this stage in his career knowing the comfort zone of his voice, and being likewise able to craft material that is expressive while still engaging for the listener.

His cigar-box guitar and finger strumming, acoustics and electrics populate the songs with due sense of personality, and as opener “Mermaid’s Scream” has echoes of Lullabies to Paralyze at the outset, backing moans and all, what unfolds from there finds a niche for itself that feels as much folk as rock, and perhaps takes some extra delight in dwelling between genres, the finger-dance-on-strings of the subsequent title-track giving a dreamy feel to go with Johannes‘ vocal melody, sounding humble but not at all simple, giving a feeling of space through echoes and backing keys or effects drone — a hum, suitably enough. As “Mermaid’s Scream” and “Hum” are the two shortest cuts on Hum at under two and a half minutes each, even as they complement each other there’s a momentum being built that hints at a straightforwardness of form that “Hallowed Bones” builds outward, taking that foundation of acoustic would-be-minimalism-if-it-weren’t-so-complex-ness and adding textures of vocal layers and string sounds.

Thinking of “Mermaid’s Scream” and the title-track as a foundation for Hum is a useful way of hearing the album, essentially teaches the listener how to hear it, setting the basis early for what stands to follow in “Hallowed Bones” and “Someone,” which returns to the acoustic guitar but keeps an arrangement of intertwining vocal layering in an almost call and response chorus, reminiscent of a contemplative Bowie but remaining smooth in the delivery. “Someone,” then is the back-to-ground reset before the more forwardly electric “If Morning Comes,” bringing percussion with it and a brooding atmosphere that, like “Hallowed Bones,” adds to its strumming rather than departs entirely from it. As the halfway point of the record, it is a well-placed turn, and the first song yet to top four minutes, which is more than enough time for it to affect its hypnotic rhythm and winding solo edge as it progresses through the wash of its second half.

Alain Johannes (Tom Bronowski)

I’m not sure if he’s handling all the instruments himself, but Johannes is in command of the proceedings one way or the other, and after “If Morning Comes” marches out, “Free” pulls back again to a single layer of voice over a finger-plucked guitar, like the title-track before it, effective in its shift, immediately recognizable, immediately familiar, and rife with purpose. There’s a fullness of sound that comes from Johannes‘ technique, but it creates a kind of tension as well for the simple fact that there’s so much melody happening at once. It’s serene, but it’s the serenity of looking at a river with a rushing undercurrent. You realize there’s a pull there even if on the top it seems more peaceful. So it is through “Free,” which is — if it needs to be said — gorgeous, and gives way to the darker blues of “Sealed,” vocals rougher in the tin-can-blues tradition to suit its lumbering guitar progression, centered more around the rhythm than melody. Is ambient blues a thing? It should be. And Johannes should probably spearhead it given what he does with “Sealed,” including the electrified solo ripped out in the song’s later reaches.

Time again to go to ground. “Here in the Silence” is a sweet folk melody filled out by keys or guitar or flute or whatever the hell it is, as well as the cigar-box strum, and leaves nothing unsaid after its sub-three-minute run, offering a quick reorientation before the penultimate “Nine” reframes the proceedings once again with electronic beats and Johannes‘ voice farther back in the distance, locking into what turns out to be one of Hum‘s finest hooks in the process. By the time Johannes gets there, “Nine” functions well alongside the rest of Hum precisely because it doesn’t quite fit. The album has to that point bounced back and forth through these shifts in arrangement, drawn together by mood, melody and Johannes‘ voice, and those elements are consistent in “Nine” as well, despite the difference of use to which they’re put.

“Finis” is a self-aware closer, hinting toward Americana as much as desert-delia, and one gets the sense that had he wanted it to, “Finis” could easily have worked as a harder rocker. Instead, though, it is one last return to the acoustic roots of the rest of the record, though it does flesh out as it proceeds, backing vocals and other whatnot helping to round off the record with a nod toward summary, even if the intention doesn’t seem to be to have it be complete in that regard. There are things Johannes is leaving unsaid here, and it’s not that that makes Hum unsatisfying in some way. Just the opposite. For an outing that carries itself in such unpretentious fashion, there’s an air of mystery and obscurity that comes through the atmosphere as yet another factor adding depth to Johannes‘ craft. We’re that not organic, the record would be a joke, but as it stands, Johannes is able to bring the audience with him on this apparently inward journey, and the going is all the more resonant for that.

Alain Johannes, “Hum” official video

Alain Johannes website

Alain Johannes on Thee Facebooks

Alain Johannes on Instagram

Ipecac Recordings webstore

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Alain Johannes Announces Hum out July 31; Title-Track Video Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 7th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Alain Johannes (Tom Bronowski)

I don’t usually phrase things this way, but Alain JohannesHum is basically the record I’ve wanted Queens of the Stone Age to make since Lullabies to Paralyze and the record I’ve wanted Masters of Reality to make since Give Us Barabbas, so let’s say for the last 15 years-plus. God I’m old. Anyway, Hum is out July 31 on Ipecac Recordings and if you want to get a glimpse at the vibe of the thing, the video for the title-track is at the bottom of this post.

My recommendation is you dig into that and expect a reward of organic, desert-hued, finger-plucked bliss — “Hum” isn’t the only instance of it on the record, which varies in arrangement and dives into and out of psychedelic resonance, but it’s a highlight — and then go ahead and get your preorder in because gawd only knows what the world is going to look like by July so you might as well have something to look forward to in the mail.

I’m gonna go back in the meantime and listen to Johannes‘ other solo stuff, as clearly I have some catching up to do.

You go ahead and enjoy:

Alain Johannes Hum

ALAIN JOHANNES RELEASES HUM ON JULY 31 VIA IPECAC RECORDINGS

https://lnkfi.re/AJHum

Alain Johannes, co-creator of the highly influential ’90s alternative rock band Eleven as well as a key contributor on releases from Queens of the Stone Age, Them Crooked Vultures and Chris Cornell, releases Hum, his third solo album, on July 31 via Ipecac Recordings.

“It’s more about me than probably any album I’ve ever done,” says Johannes about the collection that follows a period of tragic loss, extreme illness and rebirth. “It was something I was striving for and needed to communicate. Coming out of a difficult period, I was liberated. I had lost people who were very close to me. I went through struggles with my own health. There’s a personal energy behind the way it was recorded and the feel of the songs. It’s a document of my life right now.”

Johannes is seen playing the album’s title track in a video released this morning. The clip, which showcases Johannes performing the song in the woods near his Los Angeles home, was shot by Frank McDonough and edited by Felo Foncea.

“You can think of the album title, Hum, a few ways,” adds Johannes. “Of course, there’s a musical hum. There’s an electrical hum. To me, it suggests a sense of mystery. When you stop and listen to silence in nature, the hum is underneath the threshold of hearing. It’s a mysterious and magical sense of something existing, beautiful, and alive. It’s a blanket word for the sound of the ether—something that’s always been there, always will be there, and everything comes from it. It’s the common connection to everything.” Album pre-orders, which include an instant download of “Hum,” are available now: https://lnkfi.re/AJHum.

Hum track list:
Mermaids’ Scream
Hum
Hallowed Bones
Someone
If Morning Comes
Free
Sealed
Here In The Silence
Nine
Finis

Alainjohannes.com
Alainjohannes.eu
Facebook.com/alainjohannesmusic
Instagram.com/alainjohannes
Instagram.com/alainjohannestour
https://blixtmerchandise.shop/ipecac-music-store

Alain Johannes, “Hum” official video

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Quarterly Review: The Cult of Dom Keller, Grandpa Jack, Woven Man, Charivari, Human Impact, Dryland, Brass Owl, Battle City, Astral Bodies, Satyrus

Posted in Reviews on March 25th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

Ah, the Wednesday of a Quarterly Review. Always a special day in my mind. We hit and pass the halfway point today, and I like the fact that the marker is right in the middle of things, like that sign you pass in Pennsylvania on Rt. 80 that says, “this is the highest point east of the Mississippi,” or whatever it is. Just a kind of, “oh, by the way, in case you didn’t know, there’s this but you’re on your way somewhere else.” And so we are, en route to 50 reviews by Friday. Will we get there? Yeah, of course. I’ve done this like 100 times now, it’s not really in doubt. Sleeping, eating, living: these things are expendable. The Quarterly Review will get done. So let’s do it.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

The Cult of Dom Keller, Ascend!

the cult of dom keller ascend

They’re not going quietly, that’s for sure. Except for when they are, at least. The Cult of Dom Keller send their listeners — and, it would seem, themselves — into the howling ether on the exclamatory-titular Ascend!, their fifth LP. Issued through Cardinal Fuzz and Little Cloud records it brings a bevvy of freakouts in psych-o-slabs like “I Hear the Messiah” and the early-arriving “Hello Hanging Rope” and the building-in-thickness “The Blood Donor Wants His Blood Back,” and the foreboding buzz of “We’re All Fucked (Up),” peppering in effective ambient interludes ahead of what might be some resolution in the closing “Jam for the Sun.” Or maybe that’s just narrative I’m putting to it. Does it matter? Does anything matter? And what is matter? And what is energy? And is there a line between the two or are we all just playing pretend at existence like I-think-therefore-I-am might actually hold water in a universe bigger than our own pea-sized brains. Where do we go from here? Or maybe it’s just the going and not the where? Okay.

The Cult of Dom Keller on Thee Facebooks

Cardinal Fuzz on Bandcamp

Little Cloud Records on Bandcamp

 

Grandpa Jack, Trash Can Boogie

Grandpa Jack Trash Can Boogie

Brooklynite trio Grandpa Jack are working toward mastery of the thickened midtempo groove on their second EP, Trash Can Boogie. Led by guitarist/vocalist Johnny Strom with backing shouts from drummer Matt C. White and a suitable flow provided by bassist Jared Schapker, the band present a classic-tinged four tracks, showing some jammier psych range in the 7:47 second cut “Untold” but never straying too far from the next hook, as opener “Ride On, Right On” and the almost-proto-metal “Imitation” show. Finishing with “Curmudgeon,” Grandpa Jack ride a fine line between modern fuzz, ’90s melody and ’70s groove idolatry, and part of the fun is trying to figure out which side they’re on at any given point and which side they’ll want to ultimately end up on, or if they’ll decide at all. They have one LP under their collective belt already. I’d be surprised if their next one didn’t garner them more significant attention, let alone label backing, should they want it.

Grandpa Jack on Thee Facebooks

Grandpa Jack on Bandcamp

 

Woven Man, Revelry (In Our Arms)

woven man revelry in our arms

There’s metal in the foundation of what Woven Man are doing on their 2019 debut, Revelry (In Our Arms). And there’s paganism. But they’re by no means “pagan metal” at least in the understood genre terms. The Welsh outfit — featuring guitarist Lee Roy Davies, formerly of Acrimony — cast out soundscapes in their vocal melodies and have no lack of tonal crunch at their disposal when they want it, but as eight-minute opener/longest track (immediate points) shows, they’re not going to be rigidly defined as one thing or another. One can hear C.O.C. in the riffs during their moments of sneer on “I am Mountain” or the centerpiece highlight “With Willow,” but they never quite embrace the shimmer outright Though they come right to the cusp of doing so on the subsequent “Makers Mark,” but closer “Of Land and Sky” revives a more aggressive push and sets them toward worshiping different idols. Psychedelic metal is a tough, nearly impossible, balance to pull off. I’m not entirely convinced it’s what Woven Man are going for on this first outing, but it’s where they might end up.

Woven Man on Thee Facebooks

Woven Man on Bandcamp

 

Charivari, Descent

charivari descent

Whether drifting mildly through the likes of drone-laden pieces “Down by the Water,” the CD-only title-track or “Alexandria” as they make their way toward the harsh bite at the end of the 11-minute closer “Scavengers of the Wind,” Bath, UK, heavy post-rockers Charivari hold a firm sense of presence and tonal fullness. They’re prone to a wash from leadoff “When Leviathan Dreams” onward, but it’s satisfying to course along with the four-piece for the duration of their journey. Rough spots? Oh, to be sure. “Aphotic” seethes with noisy force, and certainly the aforementioned ending is intended to jar, but that only makes a work like “Lotus Eater,” which ably balances Cure-esque initial lead lines with emergent distortion-crush, that much richer to behold. The moves they make are natural, unforced, and whether they’re trading back and forth in volume or fluidly, willfully losing themselves in a trance of effects, the organic and ethereal aspects of their sound never fail to come through in terms of melody even as a human presence is maintained on vocals. When “Down by the Water” hits its mark, it is positively encompassing. Headphones were built for this.

Charivari on Thee Facebooks

Worst Bassist Records on Bandcamp

 

Human Impact, Human Impact

human impact human impact

Bit of a supergroup here, at least in the underrated-New-York-art-noise sphere of things. Vocals and riffy crunch provided by the masterful Chris Spencer (formerly of Unsane), while Cop Shoot Cop‘s Jim Coleman adds much-welcome electronic flourish, Swans/Xiu Xiu bassist Chris Pravdica provides low end and the well-if-he-can-handle-drumming-for-Swans-he-can-handle-anything Phil Puleo (also Cop Shoot Cop) grounds the rhythm. Presented through Ipecac, the four-piece’s declarative self-titled debut arrives through Ipecac very much as a combination of the elements of which it is comprised, but the atmosphere brought to the proceedings by Coleman set against Spencer‘s guitar isn’t to be understated. The two challenge each other in “E605” and the off-to-drone “Consequences” and the results are to everyone’s benefit, despite the underlying theme of planetary desolation. Whoops on that one, but at least we get the roiling chaos and artful noise of “This Dead Sea” out of it, and that’s not nothing. Predictable? In parts, but so was climate change if anyone would’ve fucking listened.

Human Impact on Thee Facebooks

Ipecac Recordings store

 

Dryland, Dances with Waves

dryland dances with waves

The nautically-themed follow-up to Bellingham, Washington, progressive heavy/noise/post-hardcore rockers Dryland‘s 2017 self-titled debut album, the four-song Dances with Waves EP finds the thoughtful and melodic riffers working alongside producer/engineer Matt Bayles (Mastodon, Isis, etc.) on a recording that loses none of its edge for its deft changes of rhythm and shifts in vocals. There’s some influence from Elder maybe in terms of the guitar on “No Celestial Hope” and the finale “Between the Testaments,” but by the time the seven-minute capper is done, it’s full-on Pacific Northwest noise crunch, crashing its waves of riffs and stomp against the shore of your eardrums in demand of as much volume as you’ll give it. Between those two, “Exalted Mystics” moves unsuspectingly through its first half and seems to delve into semi-emo-if-emo-was-about-sailing-and-death theatrics in its second, while “The Sound a Sword Adores” distills the alternating drive and sway down to its barest form, a slowdown later setting up the madness soon to arrive in “Between the Testaments.”

Dryland on Thee Facebooks

Dryland on Bandcamp

 

Brass Owl, State of Mind

brass owl state of mind

Brass Owl foster on their self-released debut full-length, State of Mind, a brand of heavy rock that maintains a decidedly straightforward face while veering at the same time into influences from grunge, ’70s rock, the better end of ’80s metal and probably one or two current hard or heavy rock bands. You might catch a tinge of Five Horse Johnson-style blues on “No Filter – Stay Trendy” or the particularly barroom-ready “Jive Turkey,” which itself follows the funkier unfolding jam-into-shredfest of “The Legend of FUJIMO,” and the earlier “Hook, Line & Sinker” has trucker-rock all over it, but through it all, the defining aspect of the work is its absolute lack of pretense. These guys — there would seem to have been three when they recorded, there are two now; so it goes — aren’t trying to convince you of their intelligence, or their deep-running stylistic nuance. They’re not picking out riffs from obscure ’80s indie records or even ’70s private press LPs. They’re having a good time putting traditionalist-style rock songs together, messing around stylistically a bit, and they’ve got nine songs across 43 minutes ready to roll for anyone looking for that particular kind of company. If that’s you, great. If it ain’t, off you go to the next one.

Brass Owl website

Brass Owl on Bandcamp

 

Battle City, Press Start

Battle City Press Start

From even before you press play on Press Start, the 22-minute debut release from South Africa’s Battle City, the instrumental duo make their love of gaming readily apparent. Given that they went so far as to call one song “Ram Man” and that it seems just as likely as not that “Ignition” and “Ghost Dimension” are video game references as well, it’s notable that guitarist/bassist Stian “Lightning Fingers Van Tonder” Maritz and drummer Wayne “Thunder Flakes” Hendrikz didn’t succumb to the temptation of bringing any electronic sounds to the six-song offering. Even in “Ghost Dimension,” which is the closer and longest track by about three minutes, they keep it decidedly straightforward in terms of arrangements and resist any sort of chiptune elements, sticking purely to guitar, bass and drums. There’s a touch of the progressive to the leadoff title-track and to the soaring lead “Ignotion,” but Press Start does likewise in setting the band’s foundation in a steady course of heavy rock and metal, to the point that if you didn’t know they were gaming-inspired by looking at the cover art or the titles, there’d be little to indicate that’s where they were coming from. I wouldn’t count myself among them, but those clamoring for beeps and boops and other 8-bit nonsense will be surprised. For me, the riffs’ll do just fine, thanks.

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Battle City on Bandcamp

 

Astral Bodies, Escape Death

Astral Bodies Escape Death

Spacious, varied and progressive without losing their heft either of tone or presence, Manchester, UK, trio Astral Bodies debut on Surviving Sounds with Escape Death, working mostly instrumentally — they do sneak some vocals into the penultimate “Pale Horse” — to affect an atmosphere of cosmic heavy that’s neither indebted to nor entirely separate from post-metal. Droning pieces like the introductory “Neptune,” or the joyous key-laced wash of the centerpiece “Orchidaeae,” or even “Pale Horse,” act as spacers between longer cuts, and they’re purposefully placed not to overdo symmetry so as to make Escape Death‘s deceptively-efficient 36-minute runtime predictable. It’s one more thing the three-piece do right, added to the sense of rawness that comes through in the guitar tone even as effects and synth seem to surround and provide a context that would be lush if it still weren’t essentially noise rock. Cosmic noise? The push of “Oumuamua” sure is, if anything might be. Classify it however you want — it’s fun when it’s difficult! — but it’s a striking record either way, and engages all the more as a first long-player.

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Surviving Sounds on Thee Facebooks

 

Satyrus, Rites

satyrus rites

Following its three-minute chanting intro, Satyrus let opener and longest track (immediate points) “Black Satyrus” unfold its cultish nod across an eight minutes that leads the way into the rest of their debut album, Rites, perhaps more suitably than the intro ever could. The building blocks that the Italian unit are working from are familiar enough — Black Sabbath, Saint Vitus, Electric Wizard, maybe even some Slayer in the faster soloing of second cut “Shovel” — but that doesn’t make the graveyard-dirt-covered fuzz of “Swirl” or the noisefest that ensues in “Stigma” or subsequent “Electric Funeral”-ist swing any less satisfying, or the dug-in chug of bookending nine-minute closer “Trailblazer.” Hell, if it’s a retread, at least they’re leaving footprints, and it’s not like Satyrus are trying to tell anyone they invented Tony Iommi‘s riff. It’s a mass by the converted for the converted. I’d ask nothing more of it than that and neither should you.

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Satyrus on Bandcamp

 

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Quarterly Review: Spotlights, War Cloud, Rubble Road, Monte Luna, High Reeper, Frozen Planet….1969, Zaius, Process of Guilt, Sundus Abdulghani & Trunk, Owlcrusher

Posted in Reviews on September 28th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk quarterly review

Day two of the Quarterly Review and feeling groovy so far. Managed to survive yesterday thanks in no small part to good music and good coffee, and looking at what’s coming up in today’s batch, I don’t expect the situation will be much different — though the styles will. I try to keep in mind as I put these weeks together to change up what’s in each round, so it’s not just all psych records, or all doom, or heavy rock or whatever else. This way I’m not burning myself out on anything particular and I hopefully don’t wind up saying the same things about albums that maybe only share vague genre aspects in common — riffs, etc. — in the same way. Essentially trying to trick my brain into being creative. Sometimes it even works. Let’s see how it fares today.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Spotlights, Seismic

spotlights seismic

After touring hard with the likes of Melvins, Deftones and Refused, heavy post-rockers Spotlights mark their first release on Ipecac Recordings with their second album, Seismic, which finds the core duo of Mario and Sarah Quintero working with producer Aaron Harris (Isis) to follow-up 2016’s Tidals with 65 minutes/11 tracks of weighted atmospherics and far-spanning melodic textures as shown on emotive heft-bringers like “Ghost of a Glowing Forest.” Heavygaze, I suppose, is the genre tag that’s emerged, but with the opening title-track, the chugging “Learn to Breathe” and the later percussive turns of “A Southern Death,” there’s as much focus on crush as on ambience, though as Seismic makes its way through the pair of eight-minute tracks “Hollow Bones” (wonder if they know the 30 Rock reference they’re making) and “Hang us All” before the minimal subdued drones and melodic effects swirls of closer “The Hope of a Storm,” Spotlights succeed in finding a middle ground that offers plenty of both. In its moments of intensity and its range, Seismic builds cohesion from ether and immediately benefits from the purposeful growth the Quinteros have clearly undertaken over the past year by hitting the road with the dedication they have.

Spotlights on Thee Facebooks

Ipecac Recordings website

 

War Cloud, War Cloud

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Bay Area rockers War Cloud don’t get too fancy on their self-titled debut, which they make via Ripple Music as the follow-up to their 2016 single Vulture City (discussed here), but as they prove quickly in the dual-guitar Thin Lizzyisms of opener “Give’r” and the later post-Motörhead/Peter Pan Speedrock careening of “Speed Demon,” neither do they necessarily need to. Comprised of guitarists Alex Wein (also vocals) and Tony Campos, bassist Sean Nishi and drummer Joaquin Ridgell, War Cloud offer 31 minutes of brisk, unpretentious asskickery, riffs trading channels at the outset of “Hurricane” as it makes ready to settle into its proto-thrashing rocker groove, and the mood of the release as a whole engaging as much through its reimagining 20-year-old Metallica as a heavy rock band there as on the more grandly riff-led “Divide and Conquer.” Structures are straightforward, and not one of the eight tracks tops five minutes, but they’re more than enough for War Cloud find their place between metal form and heavy rock tone, and cuts like “Chopper Wired” and brazenly charged closer “Vulture City” nail the core message of the band’s arrival.

War Cloud on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music website

 

Rubble Road, The Clowns Have Spoken

rubble-road-the-clowns-have-spoken

Rubble Road ain’t hurtin’ nobody. The Orlando-based double-guitar four-piece take two prior singles and put them together with four new tracks as their 29-minute/six-song debut EP, The Clowns Have Spoken, and thereby bring forth straightforward heavy rock that seems to be finding its personality in tone but nonetheless has a strong structural foundation underlying that holds up the material and “The Judge” tosses in a bit of metallic gallop to go with the forward-directed heavy rock proffered on the prior “Galactic Fugitives” and “Gospel (Get it Together).” I won’t say much for the politics of “Truck Stop Hooker,” which caps with the line, “Your mother gives great helmet, baby,” but “Wizard Staff” and “Do it Yourself” broaden the dynamic of the release overall. They’ve got some growing to do, but again, there’s an efficiency in their songwriting that comes through these songs, and as an initial showcase/demo, The Clowns Have Spoken shows Rubble Road with the potential to continue to grow.

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Rubble Road on Bandcamp

 

Monte Luna, Monte Luna

monte luna monte lona

You might check out the self-titled debut from Austin, Texas, duo Monte Luna. You might even pick up the digipak or tape version. You might listen to extended tracks like “Nameless City” (12:53) and “6,000 Year March” (17:42) and be like, “Yeah, cool riffs dudes.” You might even then chase down the The Hound EP that guitarist/vocalist/bassist James Clarke and drummer/synthesist Phil Hook put out last year. At some point though, you’re going to put Monte Luna’s Monte Luna on your shelf and leave it there. Fair enough. However – and I’m not going to say when; could be sooner, could be later — then you’re going to find yourself remembering its massive, 71-minute sprawl of riffs, its doomed-out grooves, shouts, screams, growls and the way its builds become so utterly immersive, and you’re going to put Monte Luna on again. And that’s the moment when it will really hit you. It might take some time, and part of that is no doubt that there’s simply a lot of record to wade through, but whether it’s the rumbling start of “Nightmare Frontier” (14:26), the cacophonous stomp of “Inverted Mountain” (12:04) or the righteous crash of “The End of Beginning” (9:42), Monte Luna will have earned that deeper look, and if you allow them to make that deeper impression with their self-titled, they almost certainly will.

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Monte Luna on Bandcamp

 

High Reeper, High Reeper

high reeper high reeper

Newcomer five-piece High Reeper telegraph Sabbathian heavy rocker intent with their self-released, self-titled debut album. The Delaware-based lineup of Zach Thomas, Napz Mosley, Andrew Price, Pat Daly and Shane Trimble make no bones about their roots in opener “Die Slow,” and as the stoner-swinging “High Reeper,” the doom-swaggering “Reeper Deadly Reeper” and the yo-check-out-this-bassline nodder “Weed and Speed” play out in the record’s midsection, it seems increasingly likely that, sooner or later, some imprint or other will pick up High Reeper for a wider release. As the band demonstrates through the stomping “Soul Taker” and the seeming mission statement “Black Leather (Chose Us)” ahead of closer “Friend of Death,” which breaks its six minutes in half between Judas Priest thrust and an instrumental finish that calls to mind “Heaven and Hell,” they’ve got a keen ear for updating classic elements, and though formative, their first outing is cleverly memorable and an immediately resonant display of songcraft. Now we know High Reeper can engage these stylistic components — the test will be how they develop them into something individualized going forward.

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High Reeper on YouTube

 

Frozen Planet….1969, From the Centre of a Parallel Universe

Frozen-Planet-1969-From-the-Centre-of-a-Parallel-Universe

From the Centre of a Parallel Universe is the second long-player of 2017 from Sydney/Canberra’s Frozen Planet….1969. It arrives on CD through Pepper Shaker and LP via Headspin with five tracks/43 minutes of improv-style psych jams following suit from the prior Electric Smokehouse (review here) and helps to bring the band’s funk-infused, spacious dynamic all the more into focus. Also out of focus. Like, blurry vision-style. They range far and wide and keep the proceedings delightfully weird in the three extended pieces “Celestial Gambler,” “Through Hell’s Kaleidoscope, Parts I & II” and “Ancient Wings Taking Flight” – all north of 11 minutes – and with “Signals (Channelling…)” and “The Lady and the Archer” leading the way into each LP side, Frozen Planet….1969 take the time to assure they’re bringing their listeners along with them on their potent journey into the cosmically far out. The must-hear bass tone in “Ancient Wings Taking Flight” is but one of many reasons to dig in, but whatever it takes, From the Centre of a Parallel Universe’s invitation to get lost is not one to be missed.

Frozen Planet….1969 on Thee Facebooks

Pepper Shaker Records on Bandcamp

 

Zaius, Of Adoration

zaius of adoration

Chicago’s history with instrumentalist post-metal goes back as far as the notion of the subgenre itself with acts like Pelican and Russian Circles providing aesthetic-defining landmarks over the last 15-plus years even as a group like Bongripper embraces darker, more lumbering fare. The four-piece Zaius, who make their full-length debut with Of Adoration on Prosthetic Records after two self-released EPs in 2013 and 2011, position themselves more toward the shimmering airiness of the former rather than the latter’s raw lumber, but there’s heft to be found in the expanses of “Sheepdog” and “Seirenes” all the same, and the second half of “Echelon” and closer “Colin” tighten up some of the ethereality of pieces like opener “Phaneron” and the driftingly progressive “Reformer” or the penultimate, patient rollout of “Anicca” to hone a sense of balance that feels as emotionally driven as it is cerebral in its construction. Hard for a band like Zaius to stand themselves out at this point given the swath of acts working in a similar style in and out of the Windy City, but in its textural approach and held-steady flow, Of Adoration satisfies.

Zaius on Thee Facebooks

Prosthetic Records webstore

 

Process of Guilt, Black Earth

process-of-guilt-black-earth

Portuguese post-doomers Process of Guilt hit the 15-year mark with the release of their fourth album, Black Earth (on Division/Bleak Recordings), and with a mix by Brooklyn noise-rock specialist Andrew Schneider, a mastering job by Collin Jordan in Chicago and striking cover art by growler/guitarist Hugo Santos with images by Pedro Almeida, the sense of atmosphere is thick and the mood is aggressive throughout. Santos, along with guitarist Nuno David, bassist Custódio Rato and drummer Gonçalo Correia chug and flow through a linear 42 minutes and five tracks on the suitably darkened offering, touching on progressive nuance but not letting cerebral underpinnings take away from the onslaught feel of “Feral Ground” or the tension mounted early in the 11-minute penultimate title-track, which uses feedback as a weapon throughout no less capably than the subsequent closer “Hoax” affects immediately with its nodding tonal wash. Taken as a whole, Black Earth finds Process of Guilt exploring depths of their sound as much as with it, and the directions they go feel as much inward as out.

Process of Guilt on Thee Facebooks

Division Records website

Bleak Recordings website

 

Sundus Abdulghani & Trunk, Sundus Abdulghani & Trunk

Sundus-Abdulghani-Trunk-self-titled

The challenge for an outfit like Stockholm’s Sundus Abdulghani & Trunk, whose self-titled debut arrives via respected purveyor Kozmik Artifactz, lies separating themselves from the shadow of fellow Swedes Blues Pills, whose semi-psych heavy-blues-rocking first album has cast a wide influence that can be heard here as well as in any number of other bands currently kicking around the Euro underground proffering as balance of soul and heavy rock as songs like “It Ain’t Love (But Close Enough)” and “Like Water” do here. Where Sundus Abdulghani & Trunk most succeed in doing this is in the harmonies of “Black Magic Man,” which brings to mind classic acid folk while holding to a heavy blues vibe, but there are other moments throughout when individuality flourishes as well. The attitude is laid on a bit thick in “Them Dames,” but the hooks of “Sister Sorrow,” “She Knows,” “The Devil’s Got a Hold on You” and “Stay” and the burgeoning sense of arrangements complementing Abdulghani’s vocals do well in helping cast an identity one hopes will continue to develop.

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Kozmik Artifactz website

 

Owlcrusher, Owlcrusher

owlcrusher owlcrusher

Conceived by guitarist/vocalist Andrew Spiers, bassist/vocalist Steve Hobson and drummer Damien McKeown, Banbridge trio Owlcrusher conjure three extended, slicing slabs of black-singed sludge extremity on their self-titled Seeing Red Records debut, and it’s enough to make one wonder just what the fuck is going on in Northern Ireland to inspire such outright bleakness. Beginning with the 16-minute “Feeble Preacher” (also the longest inclusion here; immediate points), Owlcrusher’s Owlcrusher lumbers excruciatingly forth with screams and growls cutting through a tonality geared for max-volume consumption, though it remains to be seen who is consuming whom as “Feeble Preacher” gives way to the likewise scorched eponymous “Owlcrusher” (11:30) and 15-minute closer “Spoiler,” the last of which brings the only real moment of letup on the album after about nine minutes in, and even that takes the form of an interlude of Khanate-style minimalist ambience before the rolling megacrush resumes and plods to a somehow-even-heavier finish. Clearly a band pushing themselves toward the superlative, Owlcrusher get there much faster than their crawling tones would have you believe. Madness.

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Seeing Red Records on Bandcamp

 

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