Friday Full-Length: Datura, Visions for the Celestial

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 21st, 2020 by JJ Koczan

With the benefit of 21 years of hindsight, it’s tempting to imbue Datura’s Visions for the Celestial with some kind of prescience, as though the New Zealand-based heavy rockers were somehow ahead of their time. The simpler truth is they were right in line with it. Formed in 1992, Datura were led by bassist/vocalist Craig Williamson — who would later found the one-man acid folk outfit Lamp of the Universe and return to heavy rock with Arc of Ascent — and as they solidified their lineup around WIlliamson, guitarist Brent Middlemiss and drummer Jon Burnside, they also made their way through various recordings and compilation tracks, demos and the like en route to the eventual 1998 debut EP, All is One.

Already there at that point was the sense that Datura were doing more than simply cloning riffs imported from Californian acts Kyuss, Sleep, Acid King and Fu Manchu, or the likes of Monster Magnet, Acrimony, Orange Goblin, etc., and the same holds true on the follow-up debut long-player. Comprised of six songs in its original incarnation, Visions for the Celestial came out on New Zealand’s Cranium Music in 1999 and saw US release through Brainticket Records — the imprint helmed by John Perez of Solitude Aeturnus — in 2000. Running 48 minutes that were expanded to circa 53 with the addition of the five-minute “Into the Light” as a centerpiece for a 2007 reissue on Williamson’s own Astral Projection label (Krauted Mind also did a vinyl in 2010), the album showcases a communion with heavy rock and psychedelia that were highly individual in their balance. Listeners hearing Visions for the Celestial for the first time in 2020 might be struck by the sense of roll in a song like the nine-minute penultimate cut “Voyage,” but there’s more to the track than just its forward motion and swaggering groove. The underlying organ line, the deep punch of its bassline, datura visions for the celestialand the weaving lines of guitar effects atop the live-feeling drums — even before funky-time hits with the solo about halfway through the song — all come together to create a sense of who Datura were as a band, and the personality they brought to their material. Should you be surprised when the flute and watery vocals come out? Yeah, probably, but you should also know by that point to just go with it. They’ve got it all well in-hand.

Songwriting is the underpinning upon which Visions for the Celestial is based, but that’s not just about putting verses together with catchy choruses. It’s also how the material is built, how it plays off each other in the context of the whole record, and of course how it’s performed on the recording. “Magnetise” opens with an intro of wah guitar that tells you much of what you need to know about where Datura are headed, and proceeds into a languid flow and lyrics about drifting in a floating mind, walking in colors, and the like, not hurrying but not at all staid either as it moves through its seven minutes en route to “Sunshine in Purple” and the more straightforward, also shorter, “Reaching Out.” “Sunshine in Purple” largely follows suit from the opener in terms of style — a sense of high-ceiling-room permeating the mix — but Williamson’s bass begins to really shine there and does likewise on “Reaching Out” as well, leading-from-behind a shove that, depending on which version of the record you’re listening to, gives way either to “Into the Light” or “Euphoria.” To be blunt, either way you go, you don’t really lose out, and in terms of placing a bonus track, “Into the Light” adds more to the middle of the record than it possibly could being tacked on after “Voyage” and its just-under-15-minute closer follow-up “Mantra.”

“Euphoria” sets up that last salvo with a trippier feel on the whole and cleverly wrought pulls of guitar as Wililamson preaches cosmic heavy, but clearly the two pieces are intended to stand on their own as the B-side of Visions for the Celestial, and they end up doing precisely that. Neither song is a radical departure from what Datura have been doing all along, but again, it’s a question of balance. “Voyage” shifts in its second half through the aforementioned stretch of purer-strain psychedelia before building up to its resurgent roll. As he has all along, Burnside turns in a righteous performance on drums, not overly flashy, but making even a simple-seeming hi-hat march effective in carrying the momentum behind Middlemiss’ guitar excursions. He starts out “Mantra” at a slow pace soon joined by swells of melodic effects or synth, and it’s immediately clear Datura are going as far out as they’ve gone. Harmonized vocals and progressive space jamming hint at what could’ve been, likewise a hypnotic drum solo before the last push and an ending of residual effects in a melodic dronescape. Resonant, sweet and otherworldly, it could hardly be more fitting.

Datura only put out one full-length, and by the time 1999 was done, Williamson would begin exploring the folkier textures that became Lamp of the Universe, which of course is a project he continues to this day, having released Dead Shrine (review here) in June. It wasn’t until 2010 that Williamson returned to heavier fare with Arc of Ascent, but hearing Datura now in relation to that band, it’s clear just how much of his signature style and patterning are essential to both. Visions for the Celestial, while it’s been re-pressed periodically, remains a work of underrated heavy lost to the shifting tides of social media mobilization and internet decay. It and All is One, as well as a live recording from 1998, are all up on Bandcamp, though, so like so many LPs in a crate somewhere in a musty record store waiting to be unearthed and unveil their heavy ‘70s treasures, so too does Datura await a moment to get their due. In terms of what they were doing, when and how, their debut/swansong was one of promise that still stands as a hallmark of its era. Lost classic? Not if you find it.

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

 

As I write this, the site is down. Presumably, it’ll be back up at some point soon, and because my hours are limited, I kind of have to write when it’s time to write, which is now. Or, rather, about two hours ago when I started this post. I’ve been getting up early again — it was 3:45AM today — and that has been a tremendous help to me in terms of productivity. My head is pretty much goo by 8PM, but you know what? I was really fucking tired all the time anyway when I slept until 6AM or 6:30 or whatever I could get away with. I think maybe that’s just getting old.

Also I need to stretch more. As someone who knows zilch zero no nothing about living healthy, I do honestly believe that stretching, hydration and eating more veggies is the secret to immortality. It’s at least as good as anything I’ve seen in an infomercial.

Some requisite-feeling drama in the fallout from my father’s death this week in his side of the family wanting him buried somewhere else rather than where he’s going. Just too late on that end. It’s already all paid for, and I don’t think funeral homes do refunds. Anyway, I can’t and wouldn’t go against my mother’s wishes, regardless. He’ll be buried in Ft. Indiantown Gap National Cemetery in Pennsylvania. He was an Air Force veteran whose time in the service very much resonated with the core of the person he wanted to be, and frankly, if he thought enough of himself to think he had any value whatsoever, it’s the kind of thing he might’ve arranged on his own. He didn’t. I am.

Went for a run a bit ago as I have been on the regular for the last however long. Feels okay. Trying not to be crazy about it. Intentionally not be crazy. It is difficult.

Alright, the Pecan is awake and has probably pooped in his diaper by now, so I need to grab him from his room and get him cleaned up, but thanks for reading this week. Hopefully this post is up before then, but there’s a new Gimme show at 5PM Eastern today if you can listen. Their app is free and so is their site: http://gimmemetal.com

I wish you a great and safe weekend.

 

FRM.

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Mother Mooth Issue Nocturnes LP; Euro Shows Next Month

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 26th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Moody and atmospheric Dublin-based heavy progressive rockers (you sure that description’s long enough?) Mother Mooch have issued their debut album, Nocturnes, on vinyl through Krauted Mind Records, and next month they’ll head to Mainland Europe for the first time to mark the occasion with a couple shows in Belgium and the Netherlands. Testing the waters for more action in 2017? Perhaps. They’ll look to tour the UK at least next year, and since the album has only continued to garner a positive response since it first came out late last year as a digital self-release, one can only imagine they’ll keep making the most of the momentum they’ve built, however that realizes itself.

The PR wire has info for the info-hungry:

mother-mooch

MOTHER MOOCH RELEASE ‘NOCTURNES’ ON VINYL

Dublin psychedelic doom-grunge five piece Mother Mooch self released their debut album Nocturnes in digital format on Friday 13th November 2015 to critical acclaim throughout the international stoner/doom/psych underground. Always intended for vinyl release, the band were on the verge of pressing a vinyl edition of the album themselves when they were contacted by Henry Fauser of Germany’s Krauted Mind Records who had discovered the album on Bandcamp and offered a vinyl release through his label. Aware of the fertile stoner/doom/psych scene in Germany and the rest of mainland Europe, Mother Mooch jumped at the chance to get their music heard by a wider audience.

The marbled orange vinyl limited edition comes in a gatefold sleeve with a new interior piece from Illustrations by Emmet Mulligan to accompany his beautifully rendered cover art, and will also shortly be available in the US through Ripple Music’s Heavy Ripples Distribution.

Earlier this year, Mother Mooch recorded and released their darkly cinematic ‘Hive Mind’ video – which was nominated for Dublin Underground Cinema’s Best Music Video Award 2016 – and recruited new bassist Léon Ó’Gríoffa before a setting off on a successful September tour of Ireland’s major cities with an inspired cross section of Ireland’s rising stoner/doom/sludge/psych bands.

Mother Mooch are set to play their first ever European shows in November with dates in Netherlands and Belgium and have plans to tour the U.K. in early 2017.

Mother Mooch live:
Nov 11 StudioGonz w/ Cities of Mars + Echelot + Mother Mooch, Gouda, Netherlands
Nov 12 Antwerp Music City w/ The Progerains, Antwerp, Belgium
Nov 19 Legend (Iceland) + Mother Mooch Dublin, Ireland

Mother Mooch is:
Vocals – Chloë Ní Dhúada
Guitar and Vocals – Sid Daly
Guitar – Farl
Drums – Danni Nolan
Bass – Jack Dandy

“Nocturnes” Vinyl Limited Edition is available through Krauted Mind Records: www.krautedmind.com
US distribution through Heavy Ripples: www.heavyripples.bigcartel.com

www.mothermooch.bandcamp.com
www.breakingtunes.com/mothermooch
www.facebook.com/mothermooch
www.instagram.com/mothermooch
http://open.spotify.com/album/7u62qSjEGIS1eCvU285XCY

Mother Mooch, “Hive Mind” official video

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Mother Mooch Post “Hive Mind” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 13th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

mother mooch

Irish double-guitar five-piece Mother Mooch give a somewhat brooding impression in their new video to herald the Krauted Mind Records release of their debut album, Nocturnes. That label, based in Germany, is probably best known for psychedelic outings by the likes of Vibravoid and Pyramidal, and Mother Mooch have a touch of the ethereal to them as well, but “Hive Mind” shows by and large a darker vibe, partly indebted to progressive metal and slowed-down post-grunge, the plod underlying in Danni Nolan‘s drums providing an anchor to bring the vocals of Chloë Ní Dhúada to ground and give the airy guitars of Sid Daly and Farl some structure, further breadth added in Jack Dandy‘s steering of the low end.

The song itself builds tension early and holds it for the duration with denser noise-rock riffing taking hold momentarily past the three-minute mark, and the video directed by Shannon Moncrief takes the fivesome out into the woods to capture some performance footage and smoothly edit it in with a sort of “sheeple” narrative, extras in masks popping up to add to an overarching creepy vibe, which of course a sheep mask will almost always do. A catchy chorus emerges to go with the instrumental hook of plucked guitar notes, and “Hive Mind” rolls forth its critique on a fluid bed of tone and melody, familiar in affect but hardly offensive in that, and piquing the interest as to how the rest of Nocturnes plays out, if the metallic taste here becomes more of a factor or recedes in favor of ambient fare.

Only one way to find out, I guess.

Enjoy the clip for “Hive Mind,” followed by more info from the band, below:

Mother Mooch, “Hive Mind” official video

Independent Irish rockers Mother Mooch have unveiled their darkly cinematic Hive Mind Official Video, taken from their 2015 debut album Nocturnes. Accentuated by the stunning autumnal landscape of Donadea Forest, the video explores concepts of conformity and indoctrination; themes consistent with the song’s dark tone and lyrics. Filmed on location in Donadea Forest Park, Kildare, Ireland by director Shannon Moncrief and cinematographer Philip Blake, and produced by Mother Mooch and Shannon Moncrief. Speaking about the video, lead singer and lyricist Chloë Ní Dhúada said “We’re extremely grateful for all the hard work everyone put into making this beautiful piece of atmospheric art, the end result is even better than we could have hoped for.”

Their debut EP “Preludes”, released in March 2015, began attracting fans from around the globe and brought them to the attention of national and international music media. Their fully self produced debut album “Nocturnes” was released on Friday 13th November 2015 and has received glowing reviews at home in Ireland and throughout the international heavy underground. Songs from the album have featured on radio stations, websites, blogs, podcasts and youtube channels throughout Ireland, Europe and the US.

Mother Mooch are set to release a vinyl edition of “Nocturnes” through independent German Psych/Stoner Rock label Krauted Mind Records in summer 2016, with Irish, UK and European shows later in the year in support of the album to follow appearances on the Irish summer festival circuit.

Pandora Pictures

Director – Shannon Moncrief
Cinematographer – Philip Blake
Video Editor – Carolina Caetano
Camera Assistant – Padraic Conaty
Art Director – Eleonora Volpe
Hair and Make up – Marie Murphy, Aminah Bajwa
Location Assistant – Trish Groves
Photographer and Runner – Du Jingze
Catering – Sharon Nolan

Vocals – Chloë Ní Dhúada
Guitar and Vocals – Sid Daly
Guitar – Farl
Drums – Danni Nolan
Bass – Jack Dandy

Mother Mooch on Thee Facebooks

Mother Mooch website

Krauted Mind Records

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The Obelisk Radio Adds: Jakob Skøtt, Sleeping Pulse, Palm Desert, High Fighter and Sans Soleil

Posted in Radio on November 14th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk radio

Managing to do rounds of adds to The Obelisk Radio two weeks in a row? Why, that’s almost too much on-it to bear. I’ll try really hard to contain my self-satisfaction. Okay no I won’t.

A pretty diverse bunch of records joining the playlist today. There are 11 total that went up, and in addition to correcting the oversight of not having put up YOB‘s Clearing the Path to Ascend yet (infinite apologies), there are also new ones from Lord Dying and PrimordialIt’s Casual and the recently-reviewed Elephant Tree. Also the Atavismo that I put up the info for the other day and which will be reviewed at some point soon, and five records I thought it would be worth highlighting out of the bunch. Some of these artists I’m sure you know, one or two maybe not, but again, it’s a fairly wide stylistic berth and that’s just the way I like it best.

The Obelisk Radio adds for Nov. 14, 2014:

Jakob Skøtt, Taurus Rising

jakob skott taurus rising
His third solo album, Taurus Rising is also the second of the year for Copenhagen-based Causa Sui drummer Jakob Skøtt. Released through El Paraiso Records, it continues in the vein of earlier 2014’s Amor Fati in pursuing more of a full-band vibe, but strips that down somewhat to incorporate just synth and live drums. The result across Taurus Rising‘s five tracks is an unremitting progressivism, showcasing Skøtt‘s allegiance to krautrock in songs like opener “Escape from the Keep” while the centerpiece “Pleiades” has a little more of a psychedelic swirl. Keyboards arrive in multiple layers throughout, filling out the mix, and Taurus Rising becomes all the more impressive when one considers that Skøtt is essentially jamming with himself. He does so with a strong sense of evoking varied atmosphere from the tracks, the closing duo of “Bucket Brigades” (10:13) and “Taurus Ascendant” (7:59) pushing deep into spaced-out dynamics and, in the case of the latter, providing the album with its fullest wash and most satisfying linear build. Whether or not Skøtt intends to keep up this pace of releases, I don’t know — no reason not to so long as he’s inspired; it’s his playing, recording and label — but the prog-jazz sensibility of Taurus Rising seems ripe for further development. Jakob Skøtt on Thee Facebooks, El Paraiso Records.

Sleeping Pulse, Under the Same Sky

sleeping pulse unde the same sky

Sleeping Pulse are not yet fully through “Parasite,” the opening track on their Prophecy Productions debut, Under the Same Sky, before Mick Moss lets loose the full emotional juggernaut of his vocal delivery. The duo is a collaboration between Moss, best known as the frontman and founder of Antimatter, and Portugal-based guitarist Luís Fazendeiro of Painted Black, who wrote the music. At 10 songs and 55 minutes, Under the Same Sky is tied together both through Moss‘ voice and a persistent airiness that, were it not so cleanly presented, I’d almost be tempted to call post-rock. It is darkly progressive, and the lyrics match, weaving tales of manipulation in the subtly building “The Puppeteer” (also watch out for the sampled applause about a minute in) and betrayal throughout moody cuts like the later “Noose” and “War.” For those who know Antimatter — whose latest full-length, Fear of a Unique Identity (review here), was released in 2012 — Sleeping Pulse finds Moss well in his element across the board, but Fazendeiro varies the style such that the piano-led “The Blind Lead the Blind” and emergent distortion chug of “Painted Rust” fit well alongside each other, and Under the Same Sky flows smoothly to its concluding title-track, a minimal piano piece backed by ebow-style tones and once more showcasing the resonance in Moss‘ blend of fragility and defiance. A sleeper not to be slept on, particularly with winter ahead. Sleeping Pulse on Thee Facebooks, Prophecy Productions.

Palm Desert, Pearls from the Muddy Hollow

palm desert pearls from the muddy hollow

Perhaps unsurprising when one considers they take their name from the hometown of California’s ’90s desert rock movement, but Poland’s Palm Desert owe a large sonic debt to Kyuss. In the Wroc?aw four-piece’s style of riffing, tonality and propensity for the occasional stoner jam on their third album, Pearls from the Muddy Hollow (Krauted Mind Records), they show their allegiance to the desert style and its blend of fuzzed-up punk and laid back psychedelia. Vocalist Wojciech Ga?uszka helps change things up, however, with some elements of Soundgarden-era Chris Cornell to go with periodic John Garcia gruffness, so that Pearls from the Muddy Hollow‘s nine tracks make a suitable companion piece to Steak‘s 2014 full-length debut, Slab City, which basks in a similar mindset. That’s not to say Palm Desert bring nothing of their own to the style — both the quick “Rise Above” (not a Black Flag cover) and extended closer “Forward in the Sun” (8:19) branch beyond idolatry to an individualized moment — just that the resounding impression throughout Pearls from the Muddy Hollow is Kyuss loyalism. Within the style, they do well in portraying a warm-toned feel and shift smoothly between movements both inside of and between their songs. They’re not revolutionary, but Palm Desert do justice to a familiar sound and sometimes that’s plenty to make for a quality record. Another decent bit of output from Poland’s fertile scene. Palm Desert on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

High Fighter, The Goat Ritual EP

high fighter the goat ritual

Formed earlier this year as an amalgam of members from A Million Miles and Buffalo Hump, Hamburg, Germany’s High Fighter storm out of the gate with the five-song The Goat Ritual EP, a 21-minute thrust of modern metal and heavy rock ideals. Vocalist Mona Miluski shifts readily between a bluesy clean delivery and searing screams over the nod-ready riffing of guitarists Christian “Shi” Pappas and Ingwer Boysen, bassist Constantin Wüst and drummer Thomas Wildelau trading off between riding the grooves on “2Steps Blueskill” and energizing the bounce on “Fire in the Sun.” Second cut “Breaking Goat Mountains” seems to be particularly geared toward Kyuss‘ “Green Machine” in its riff, but bleaker, screamier centerpiece “Black Waters” shifts between the EP’s heaviest assault and a guitar-only peaceful moment that rounds out with a bit of fading feedback that leads to the wakeup punch of “Fire in the Sun,” in turn given over to the mosh fodder of “In Veins”‘s early going, which somehow transitions into more laid-back heaviness in its second half, of course building back to the initial riff to round out. In its production and much of its execution, it’s metal, but High Fighter keep command of heavy rock elements in such a way as to showcase the nascent moments of what has the potential to be a fascinating progression. The ritual, it would seem, is only beginning. High Fighter on Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Sans Soleil, A Holy Land beneath a Godless Sky

sans soleil a holy land beneath a godless sky

Calling a string-infused, instrumental post-metal release “atmospheric” seems completely superfluous, but Austin fivesome Sans Soleil put enough of a focus on ambience throughout their four-track Tofu Carnage Records debut long-player, A Holy Land beneath a Godless Sky, that to not say so would be worse. Eva Vonne‘s viola plays a major role in the band’s sound on “A Holy Land” and is complemented there and thereafter by guitarists Dustin Anderson and Lee Frejyalune and bassist Theron Rhoten, but it doesn’t come across as trying to fill a gap where vocals might otherwise be, instead just a weaving current between the distortion and sub-doom plod of drummer Zach Hoop, whose crash distinguishes itself on “An Umbral Plain” in keeping a slow march together early and moving fluidly to double-time in the middle third. Dense but not claustrophobic, the subsequent “Across Brilliant Sands” opens direct interplay between Vonne and a line of lead guitar before moving into Grayceon-style sparseness and explosion, or at least a more doomed interpretation thereof, and building to what feels like an apex for the album until the 11-minute closer “Beneath a Godless Sky” busts into a gallop as it passes the halfway point and relents from there only to resume again with greater force, closing out A Holy Land beneath a Godless Sky with a fitting push to coincide with the tonal weight preceding. An exciting and engaging debut from a group who arrive with a firm sense of what they want to convey sonically and emotionally. Sans Soleil on Thee Facebooks, Tofu Carnage Records.

Like I said at the outset, a little all over the place this week, but hopefully you find something to dig one way or another. To check out the full list of adds for this week and every week back to late 2012, and to see what’s been played on The Obelisk Radio today (some good stuff there), check out The Obelisk Radio Updates and Playlist page. It’s where the cool kids hang out, or something.

Thanks for reading and listening.

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