The Obelisk Presents: The Top 20 Singles, EPs, Splits and Demos of 2014

Posted in Features on December 23rd, 2014 by JJ Koczan

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I did this last year mostly as a result of not having somewhere to put  Assignment Help Experts offer Online Assignment Help and How To Write A Theme Papers in Australia and US. Paper will be written by US and Australian Experts. Elder‘s  http://www.artig.ch/?writing-essay-service - Order a 100% original, plagiarism-free thesis you could only imagine about in our academic writing service Change the way you do Spires Burn/Release EP in 2012, but it went pretty well, so I thought we’d do another round for 2014. The 2013 list covered demos, singles, EPs and splits — basically everything that’s not a full-length album — and the same rules apply here. It’s a pretty basic idea, but it makes sense to me to consider short releases apart from full-lengths because very often they’re trying to accomplish different things.

For example, if an album is trying to tell a story or describe a central theme, either blatantly in its lyrics or atmospherically through the music itself, a demo might just be the work of a band trying to feel their way into their sound. It doesn’t strike me as fair to judge the two on the same standard. Likewise, if a band releases a single, should that really be judged alongside an hour-long release? Granted, some bands’ singles actually are an hour long, but that’s another category entirely. “The ‘Dopesmoker’ Awards” will be handed out at another date.

No, not really. At least not this year.

If you didn’t see the full-albums Top 30 of 2014, please feel free to check it out and think of this and the year-end podcast as companion pieces, albeit both a little more casual. Let’s get to it:

sleepsingle

The Top 20 Short Releases of 2014

1. Sleep, The Clarity
2. Fatso Jetson/Herba Mate, Early Shapes
3. All Them Witches, Effervescent
4. Cortez/Borracho, Split 7″
5. Naam/White Hills/Black Rainbows/The Flying Eyes, 4-Way Split
6. Heavy Temple, Heavy Temple
7. Death Alley, Over Under/Dead Man’s Bones 7”
8. Geezer, Live! Full Tilt Boogie
9. The Sun, the Moon and the Witch’s Blues, The Sun, the Moon and the Witch’s Blues
10. Demon Head, Demo 2014
11. Gold & Silver, Azurite and Malachite
12. The Proselyte, Our Vessel’s in Need
13. Hull, Legend of the Swamp Goat
14. Lamp of the Universe/Krautzone, Split
15. The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic, Through the Dark Matter
16. The Heavy Co., Uno Dose
17. Wren, Wren
18. He Whose Ox is Gored, Rumors 7”
19. Lewis and the Strange Magics, Demo
20. Godhunter/Secrets of the Sky, Gh/0st:s
21. Lord, Alive in Golgotha

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A couple notes: The Sleep single was a given. I don’t think anything could’ve topped it one way or another, even if I hadn’t listened to it 100 times since its release in July as part of the Adult Swim Singles Series. In any case, there was no debate about where to place it. You might notice on the other end the list goes to 21. I thought that being the element of chaos suited Lord well, and since I’m not entirely sure their Alive in Golgotha EP has been officially released, they warranted inclusion just in case.

One thing that struck me in putting this list together was the amount of splits included. You’ll notice Fatso Jetson and Herba Mate‘s Early Shapes right in behind Sleep. That one was an utter joy, as far as I’m concerned, and made me wish both of them would get on putting out full-lengths as soon as possible. Not far behind is Cortez and Borracho‘s split single, which had killer tracks from both bands, and the Naam/White Hills/Black Rainbows/The Flying Eyes split from Heavy Psych Sounds that, even with four bands involved, managed to keep a flowing atmosphere front to back, which was impressive enough in and of itself, never mind the individual contributions of those four acts, which were also top quality. The Krautzone/Lamp of the Universe split also provided a considerable psych blissout, and Godhunter‘s split/collaboration with Secrets of the Sky earned extra points for its adventurous spirit and the payoff its risk-taking brought to bear.

Like their Lightning at the Door LP, All Them Witches‘ Effervescent 25-minute jam figured heavily in my 2014 listening habits, as did Heavy Temple‘s self-titled debut EP. Dutch garage/heavy punkers Death Alley earned spins with their debut 7″, a lack of pretense in melding proto-thrash and heavy rock impulses allowing them to quickly find a niche that one hopes they continue to develop. Their debut single, along with Demon Head‘s Demo 2014 (and, indeed, that band’s follow-up single) and the Lewis and the Strange Magics demo were an allay to concerns retro-minded rock might be stagnating.

Geezer featured on the Short Releases list last year as well. I wasn’t sure what to do with their Gage 12″, since it was released in 2013 as an EP and 2014 as an LP, but either way, their Live! Full Tilt Boogie tape effortlessly recalled classic blues rock performances and demonstrated the fluid chemistry at work in the New York trio, I hope it’s not the last live release they do. Along similar bluesy lines, The Heavy Co.‘s Uno Dose found the Hoosier three-piece dipping into heavy jams more than their last full-length, and if that’s the direction they’re headed, you won’t hear me argue. Hailing from Sweden and arriving as an offshoot of Asteroid, the single-song EP from The Sun, the Moon and the Witch’s Blues had more than a touch of heavy blues to it too, and made me look forward to that project’s development from here on out.

There’s little I’m going to complain about less than hearing Ed Mundell bust out Miles Davis-inspired solos, so yeah, The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic‘s Through the Dark Matter EP gets a nod. Impressive guitar work ran a current through Boston duo Gold & Silver‘s debut EP, Azurite and Malachite, but the proggy feel was what ultimately sold me on the two extended instrumentals included there, whereas with fellow Beantowners The Proselyte, it was the catchy songwriting and variety they showed in just four tracks. The He Whose Ox is Gored 7″ was likewise modern and satisfyingly weighted, though obviously shorter, and last but not at all least, the progressive sludge of Wren‘s self-titled EP seemed to fly under a lot of people’s radar but was a markedly individual take on a well established form that portended of good things to come.

As with everything, I’m sure there’s something in this mix that I forgot. If you’ve got a call you want to make on something, please let loose in the comments. Thanks for reading.

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Krautzone and Lamp of the Universe Stream New Split LP in Full

Posted in audiObelisk on October 6th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

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Coming soon through Dutch imprint Headspin Records is a new split 12″ from German psych purveyors Krautzone and New Zealand’s Lamp of the Universe that features extended works from both bands and an overarching swirl between them that’s irresistibly if expectedly hypnotic. For Krautzone, whose lineup boasts members of Zone Six and Electric Moon — Sula Bassana and Modulfix on synth, Onkel Kaktus on bass, Komet Lulu on drums, Rainer Neeff (also The Pancakes) on guitar — it is the follow-up to their 2013 Sulatron Records debut, Kosmiche Rituale, and it presents in similar form. That album showcased three longer tracks of jammed out heavy space/Krautrock prog, and the new split follows suit, with the aptly-named two-parter “Superkraut” taking up the entirety of their side, accounting for 22 minutes of spaced-out instrumental progression, a steady current of organ and guitar fuzz marking out the improv-sounding jam in its first half while the second part gets even farther out into the cosmos, the drums holding firm as swirling drones begin a build of guitar that starts serene and ends serene but offers a surging wash of noise along the way in a satisfying trance of a journey.

lamp of the universeWhile Krautzone plunge into the dark matter reaches of an unexplored spectrum, Lamp of the Universe provide fitting complement by taking that same search and turning it inward. Those familiar with the solo-project of Hamilton-based multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Craig Williamson know he’s always had a deeply spiritual approach, and his 22-minute track for this split, “Doors of Perception,” behaves accordingly, but where Williamson (ex-Datura) has spent the last couple years in the more straightforward heavy rock-minded Arc of Ascent and even Lamp of the Universe‘s last outing, 2013’s Transcendence (review here), seemed to move in a more traditional songwriting direction, “Doors of Perception” opens with seven-plus minutes of effects swirl before Williamson‘s signature clean-sounding acoustic guitar kicks in, and if you’ve been listening front to back after Krautzone‘s two tracks, the arrival of vocals about a minute later is like the exhale that must come when you reach the temple at the top of a mountain. Williamson unfolds a gorgeous, contemplative progression and then gradually gives way once again to psychedelic experimentation after the 13th minute, sitar, wah guitar and percussion gradually bringing the piece to a noisy apex.

The two acts pair together remarkably well, and both “Superkraut” and “Doors of Perception” offer substantial glimpses of psychedelic flourish that seem bent on drawing the distinction between consciousness and self. I encourage you to dig in on the player below, and be wary of getting lost in the lushness of the tones and vibes:

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krautzone lamp of the universe split

Krautzone and Lamp of the Universe‘s split LP is coming soon on Headspin Records in a limited pressing of 500 copies — 200 color vinyl, 300 black — and boasts a silver embossed cover by Lulu Artwork. More info at the links.

Krautzone on Thee Facebooks

Lamp of the Universe on Thee Facebooks

Krautzone/Lamp of the Universe at Headspin Records

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