Conan Announce July UK Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 4th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

conan

Go boldly, gentlemen. If anyone might be tapped to charge axe-first into the barren post-touring wasteland, well, at least Conan have plenty of history as regards conquering. The UK trio will hit the road supporting their recent Live at Freak Valley (discussed here) offering through Napalm Records. It’s something of a stopgap, maybe, but fits smoothly in a take-what-you-can-get kind of scenario, this altered timeline in which we exist and they’ve yet to unveil their follow-up to 2018’s Existential Void Guardian (review here) as they otherwise might have done last year.

Forgive the speculation, but I’m wondering if Conan won’t be looking to release their next full-length sometime this summer, either before or following this tour. It doesn’t seem unreasonable to think they’ll be getting their feet back under them here as they head out for what will be the first time in more than a year — certainly the longest break they’ve had since they started touring — and between pandemic regulations and Britain leaving the European Union, I have no idea what further tours this might lead to, if it even happens at all — they’ve been confirmed for a fest in Sweden in August, if that helps — but since they are pushing to hit the road, doing so to support a new album makes even more sense to me, though nothing has yet been announced in that regard and as ever, I’ve zero info to share.

Maybe wishful thinking on my part, then, but it’s nice to think wishfully for a change. Conan posted the tour dates on their social medias with the appropriate event links:

conan uk tour july 2021

CONAN – UK TOUR JULY 2021

!!!UK TOUR – JULY 2021!!!
15.07 London – https://fb.me/e/4JOAi9mmI
16.07 Sheffield – https://fb.me/e/1bGpgrifB
17.07 Nottingham – https://fb.me/e/22aZA5AHb
18.07 Edinburgh – https://fb.me/e/432ZwP3qf
19.07 Southampton – https://fb.me/e/17WDyIPDq
20.07 Bristol – https://fb.me/e/1ds5cMWVU
21.07 Glasgow – https://www.facebook.com/events/477948890240298/
22.07 Swansea – https://fb.me/e/1fqNcajME
23.07 Birmingham – https://www.facebook.com/events/1624399791083231
24.07 Huddersfield – https://fb.me/e/21Fb7XtCC
25.07 Preston – https://www.facebook.com/events/792840121330264

Lineup:
Jon Davis – vocals, guitar (2006-present)
Chris Fielding – bass (2013-present)
Johnny King – drums (2017-present)

http://www.hailconan.com/
https://www.facebook.com/hailconan/
https://www.instagram.com/hailconan/
https://conan-conan.bandcamp.com/
https://twitter.com/hailconan
http://label.napalmrecords.com/

Conan, “Satsumo” live at Freak Valley Festival 2019

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Conan Post “Hawk as Weapon” Video from Live at Freak Valley

Posted in Bootleg Theater on February 10th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

conan jon davis (Photo Credit Clemens Mitscher)

Hey, remember when Conan were announced for Freak Valley 2017? I do. Here’s the announcement. They were supporting 2016’s Revengeance (review here) at the time; their third album. Remember when they released Monnos (review here) some nine years ago through Burning World Records? Yeah, that was pretty awesome too. Conan, in fact, have been kicking ass for some time now.

“Hawk as Weapon” appeared on that righteously lumbering 2012 debut long-player, and proved that there was more to Conan than slow-rolling, molasses-toned churn. They could make that volume move when they wanted, and that made the Jon Davis-led trio all the more devastating as a result. By 2017, they were already well established among the galaxy’s superlatively massive phenomena, and 2018’s Existential Void Guardian (review here) — still their latest LP because the next one hasn’t come out because fucking pandemic blah blah blah I can’t even type it anymore — would do nothing to dispute the reputation. Davis knew at the outset what he wanted the band to be and he has set about making it that thing ever since.

His mission remains honorable and Conan‘s output remains vital in itself and in the influence they’ve had on a rising generation of riffseekers trying to outdo each other in tonal thickness and primitive destruction. Existential Void Guardian helped reinforce Conan as having garnered more dynamic as a result of their years on the road and a solidified lineup. While bassist/vocalist Chris Fielding was in the band at the time this version of “Hawk as Weapon” was recorded, Johnny King had yet to join on drums. They nonetheless managed to tear it up.

Enjoy:

Conan, “Hawk as Weapon” from Live at Freak Valley

Hail Supreme Doom! Live At Freak Valley!

CONAN have just unveiled the heavy, massive live version of their most successful song, “Hawk As Weapon”, on streaming platforms (to date, the studio version has amassed more than a million plays)! With the fuzz pedal pushed to the limit, the masters of brute waves of sound deliver further proof that they are unsurpassable in intensity. The new single clearly shows what a CONAN show is all about.

Heavily distorted and down-tuned sounds turn the legendary fields of the German Freak Valley Festival into madness. The undisputed masters of fantastical, otherworldly, sludgy doom, CONAN, will cast a spell on the listener and propel them straight into the crowd, captured in dust. HAIL CONAN!

Three years after the release of the ferocious caveman battle doom masterpiece Existential Void Guardian, CONAN waves the flag of Pain again and releases Live At Freak Valley on March 12, 2021 via Napalm Records. Following their 2013 live album, recorded at Roadburn festival, and the self-released Live At Bannermans, their third live album could not have been recorded at a better place than Freak Valley Festival.

Line up:
Jon Davis – vocals, guitar (2006-present)
Chris Fielding – bass (2013–present)
Johnny King – drums (2017–present)

Conan website

Conan on Thee Facebooks

Conan on Instagram

Conan on Bandcamp

Conan on Twitter

Napalm Records website

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Friday Full-Length: King Buffalo, Live at Freak Valley

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 29th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

Live at Freak Valley is everything one could reasonably ask a live record from King Buffalo to be. Recorded in 2019 in Germany at the Rockpalast-captured Freak Valley Festival, which has become an institution unto itself in Europe’s heavy rock underground, packed full of outdoor summer fests as it may be, it found the Rochester, New York, trio of guitarist/vocalist Sean McVay, bassist Dan Reynolds and drummer Scott Donaldson supporting their 2018 sophomore full-length, Longing to Be the Mountain (review here), on tour in Europe. And they’re in top form. The 54-minute set pulls together tracks from the second album, their 2016 debut, Orion (review here), as well as the title-cut from earlier-2018’s Repeater EP (review here), and in the energy of their performance and how it melds with their emergent heavy psychedelic grooves, the fluidity in and between the songs, it is nothing less than graceful, and it demonstrates the mastery the three-piece have over the immersive sound they create.

A spoken introduction in German brings them to the stage, and they begin with “Sun Shivers” from Longing to Be the Mountain, starting with a shorter track to draw the crowd in, which seems to work if the captured response is anything to go by. From there, it’s all-in, with “Longing to Be the Mountain” back-to-back with “Repeater” in a gorgeous 25-minute meld of molten, weighted psychedelics. The sprawl King Buffalo establish on stage at Freak Valley is different from on their albums, but no less engaging, and that’s a testament to the band’s commitment to their aesthetic. That is, it would be easy for them to be a rawer band live than they are. Instead, the melodies are intact and songs are drawn together one into the next by improvised-sounding stretches of guitar effects or sort of mini-jams. Consider the way “Repeater” gives way to “Orion,” and the emergence of that recognizable guitar figure as the song itself starts. It is an invitation to those fortunate enough to be assembled in front of the stage watching and hearing the band, to come and take part in the proceedings, as much a journey inward as far-out.

That sounds like hyperbole and maybe it is, but fuck it, I don’t care anymore. Put the song on and listen to the patience in Donaldson‘s drumming KING BUFFALO LIVE AT FREAK VALLEYand Reynolds‘ bassline. Listen closely and you can hear someone in the crowd shout “fuckin’ beautiful!” at the end of “Orion,” and I can’t disagree, as Live at Freak Valley has given me a new appreciation for that song and how it’s obviously grown in the years since they released the album of the same name. But for, well, the rest of the thing, “Orion” would probably be a highlight, with McVay‘s communion with the constellation in the arriving-in-its-own-time first verse leading to the later surge that carries them out into a stop before “Kerosene” from the same record picks up with the drums starting ahead of the guitar, feedback announcing its coming before the actual howling begins. The tension there is palpable and that it gets paid off should be a surprise to no one who heard the album version, its second half working in stages to push through the finish with a winding but energetic pulse.

After due applause, they wrap with Longing to Be the Mountain closer “Eye of the Storm,” McVay saying beforehand that they’ll be hanging out by the merch area after the set. It’s easy to romanticize that idea now, right? Band plays a good show to a ready crowd, it goes out streamed live through one of Germany’s greatest rock and roll properties — that being Rockpalast — and then goes and sees friends new and old, sells some vinyl, some shirts, shakes hands, takes pictures, maybe watches some of A Place to Bury Strangers, who play next, and then probably eventually goes to find some food. It’s like something that happened in a different dimension and it sounds so simple. What the hell.

I’ll spare you the in-a-world-without-live-music-live-albums-are-treasure rant. You’re welcome. More even than that, what Live at Freak Valley does is give a look at the vitality of the band itself. They sound excited to be there. They’re playing like they’re excited to be there, and yet the songs aren’t egregiously fast. King Buffalo aren’t rushed in their delivery. They play through the material with, as noted, a masterful touch; one born of time spent doing exactly what they’re doing here — playing the set. The progression the band undertook between their first album and their second was no accident — they’ve communicated it to their listeners every single step of the way. From Orion to Repeater to Longing to Be the Mountain, the band cast off the trappings of being strictly heavy blues or strictly anything else. Psychedelic, progressive, thoughtful, melodic, heavy, spontaneous — all that and more carried across in the material of Longing to Be the Mountain, and it comes through on Live at Freak Valley as well. Shit, they end with a jam. A jam! What more could they possibly do to signal that the story goes on from here?

And it does. Last year, amid canceled tours and plans upended, King Buffalo issued their Dead Star EP (review here), which showed not only a more meditative aspect of their sound, but a branching out into the realms of atmospheric and dramatic synthesizer as well. What does all that portend when it comes to an awaited third full-length? I have no clue, and likewise I have no clue how spending a year off the road will affect their style or their approach in the studio, because of course these things feed off each other. All of this we’ll have to wait to know, but that the anticipation to do so even exists is evidence of how crucial a purpose Live at Freak Valley serves, not just in bridging the gap between one release and the next — though that too — but in giving a showcase to the depth and multifaceted nature of the band’s evolution. Long may it continue.

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

Another week where I could feel my mind shrink and my ass expand. I’m just trying to get through the days at this point. I don’t even have a reason why. I just want to go to bed, put the pillow over my head, and wake up three times and push the alarm back until I finally just give up and sleep as late as I can. That’s around 7 or so when The Pecan is up. He’s back in school now. Two cases of the plague among the staff this week. They’ll shut down again, I’m sure. Probably a day after he’s used to getting on the bus again. That seems to be how it’s timed thus far. Yes, I take it personally. I take everything personally. It’s fucking called narcissism. Look it up.

Speaking of me, I was doing myself a favor with the King Buffalo pick up there. Feel like I’ve been writing about a lot of live records lately but of course there are a lot to be written about as bands try to keep momentum going between albums when they can’t tour, or want to take advantage of a Bandcamp Friday or want to remind people they exist or whatever it might be. I knew it was something I’d enjoy when I put it on and, sure enough, I enjoyed it. That’s a good band.

Anyway.

Next week is packed. Some of it you’ll give a crap about, some of it you won’t. Same as ever.

No Gimme show this week, though I turned in the playlist for next week already. It’s a weird one. Cool.

I wish you well. Hope you and yours are safe and healthy and all that. Don’t forget to hydrate.

Thanks for reading.

FRM.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

The Obelisk merch

 

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Conan Announces March 12 Release for Live at Freak Valley

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 14th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

conan freak valley 2019 (photo by Clemens Mitscher)

2021 marks 15 years since guitarist/vocalist Jon Davis founded Conan. What a way to celebrate, right? They should be on tour right now, with a new album coming if not already out. A lot of things should be a lot of things. I don’t know what to tell you.

I’m down with a Conan live album. It feels earned, not just because they’re killer live, and not just because they should be touring, but because they’re still under-celebrated as a live act. This was recorded at Freak Valley Festival in Germany in 2017. The before-time. The long-long ago.

You should watch the video for “Satsumo” and see how close people are standing together. It’ll blow your fucking mind. I hope there’s a Freak Valley this year. And if there is, I hope I get to go. That’s about as much insight as I have to offer. Great band, live record, preorders up.

The PR wire has it like this:

conan live at freak valley

Caveman Battle Doom Masters CONAN to Release New Live Album, Live At Freak Valley, on March 12

First Single and Video “Satsumo” Out Now

Pre-Order NOW: https://www.napalmrecordsamerica.com/conan

Hail Supreme Doom! Live At Freak Valley!

Heavily distorted and down-tuned sounds turn the legendary fields of the German Freak Valley Festival into madness. The undisputed masters of fantastical otherworldly sludgy doom, CONAN, will cast a spell on the listener and propel them straight into the crowd, captured in dust.

Three years after the release of the ferocious caveman battle doom masterpiece Existential Void Guardian, CONAN waves the flag of Pain again and releases Live At Freak Valley on March 12, 2021 via Napalm Records. After their 2013 live album, recorded at Roadburn festival, and the self-released Live At Bannermans, their third live album could not be recorded at a better place than Freak Valley Festival.

“Satsumo” is oppression, massiveness and rage. The first single and video breaks out as a harbinger of the devastation that CONAN brought at their massive show at Freak Valley Festival. With mechanical wizardry heaped upon their pure-hearted compositions, they cement their colossal and brutish live ascendancy! HAIL CONAN!

Tracklist Live At Freak Valley:
1. Gravity Chasm
2. Throne of Fire
3. Thunderhoof
4. Battle in the Swamp
5. Hawk as Weapon
6. Satsumo
7. Foehammer
8. Total Conquest
9. Revengeance

Live At Freak Valley will be available in the following formats:
– 2 LP Gatefold Vinyl White / Black Marble (Napalm Records mailorder only) – strictly limited to 200
– 2 LP Gatefold Vinyl Grey
– 1 CD Jewelcase
– Digital album

Lineup:
Jon Davis – vocals, guitar (2006-present)
Chris Fielding – bass (2013-present)
Johnny King – drums (2017-present)

http://www.hailconan.com/
https://www.facebook.com/hailconan/
https://www.instagram.com/hailconan/
https://conan-conan.bandcamp.com/
https://twitter.com/hailconan
http://label.napalmrecords.com/

Conan, “Satsumo” live at Freak Valley Festival 2019

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King Buffalo: Live at Freak Valley LP Preorders Start Friday

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 17th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Working in conjunction with Stickman Records and Rock Freaks Records, Rochester, NY’s King Buffalo will release Live at Freak Valley next month on a variety of 2LP styles. Test pressings, different colors, you know the drill. They’re not doing straight-digital or CD, but if you saw the stream of their set while it was happening at the German Freak Valley Festival last year, you know what you’re getting is a pretty astounding product, and even though the set took place before they released the Dead Star EP (review here) earlier this year, it should make an essential companion to the prior LP, 2018’s Longing to Be the Mountain (review here).

I’d have more to say, but hopefully I’ll be able to review the thing when the time is right.

From the PR wire:

KING BUFFALO LIVE AT FREAK VALLEY

KING BUFFALO – LIVE AT FREAK VALLEY Preorders start THIS FRIDAY 11/20/20 at 12pm EST.

King Buffalo is proud to announce our first ‘Live Album’ will be self-released on 12/11/20 throughout North America and see European issue via Stickman Records and Rock Freaks.

This a One-Time ONLY Pressing. It has been completely remixed and mastered for vinyl, and pressed to a double LP! Live at Freak Valley is a VINLY ONLY release. It will not be available as a CD or digitally (except for the download code that accompanies the vinyl).

“My favorite records have always been Live Albums. There’s something about the vibe that allows musicians to feed off the energy from the crowd and take things to another level. To have one of my favorite performances as a band remixed and mastered and pressed to vinyl is bucket list type stuff. I can’t wait for people to hear it and feel some Live Music again.” – Scott Donaldson (King Buffalo)

PREORDERS: https://kingbuffalo.bigcartel.com/

Live at FV Test Presses – Available this Friday at 12pm EST. Limited to 25, hand numbered, and ship immediately! They include a download code, poly bag, a signed “thank you” from the band, a hand numbered insert, and an exclusive alt art poster.

Live at FV Deluxe Edition – Limited to 250 units and pressed to 12″ Black and Gold Vinyl. The Deluxe Edition includes a polybag, a hand numbered tour poster, tour laminate and a download code. They’ll be shipped mid December.

Live at FV Standard Edition – Limited to 750 units and pressed to 12″ Green Splatter Vinyl. They include a polybag and download code. They’ll be shipped mid December.

kingbuffalo.com
facebook.com/kingbuffaloband
instagram.com/kingbuffaloband
kingbuffalo.bandcamp.com
stickman-records.com
facebook.com/Stickman-Records-1522369868033940
https://www.facebook.com/rockfreaksrecords/
http://www.rockfreaks.de/

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Great Electric Quest to Release Live at Freak Valley March 27

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 4th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

great electric quest

I’m not usually the type to go in on a release on the basis of one song, but let’s face it, Great Electric Quest covering Deep Purple‘s “Highway Star” could hardly be more appropriate. And they nail it as they wrap their set on Live at Freak Valley. Well established across their two studio full-lengths as being rad in the long-running West Coast tradition of heavy rock radness, the four-piece took to European stages last summer and included a stop at the Siegen, Germany-based festival that was captured and will see issue through Ripple Music on March 27. The cover isn’t streaming yet, if it will at all in advance of the release, but they’ve got “Seeker of the Flame,” taken from 2018’s Chapter II: Of Earth (review here), available to check out down below and it gives a pretty good sense of the energy they bring to the stage.

Never having had the pleasure myself, I’m nonetheless aware of the reputation for bombast Great Electric Quest have when it comes to performing live. It’s not hard to imagine them climbing amps and going all-in for this one as you listen.

From the PR wire:

great electric quest live at freak valley

GREAT ELECTRIC QUEST share details for upcoming “Live At Freak Valley” album on Ripple Music!

The mighty rock’n’roll crusaders have returned! After touring extensively in North America and Europe, San Diego’s one and only GREAT ELECTRIC QUEST return with their blazing hot “Live From Freak Valley” album this March 27th on Ripple Music. Listen to a first excerpt now!

With “Live At Freak Valley”, GREAT ELECTRIC QUEST are about to establish their mighty reign over the heavy rock underground for good. If headbanging to their first two albums “Chapter I” and “Chapter II” wasn’t enough, you are about to experience the exhilarating force of their live shows through this absolutely must-have live record. Clocking in at one full hour, the band delivers with maestria those epic vocals, high-flying solos, proto-metal grooves and jam-laden turnarounds they are known for: electricity instantly fills the air while the crowd jubilates… You’ve just been thunderstruck by the sheer awesomeness of Rock’n’Roll’s saviours GREAT ELECTRIC QUEST.

Guitarist Buddy Donner comments: “Ahhhhhhhh yeah! Freak Valley Festival 2019 was the absolute highlight of our three-month “Beer Wars Tour”. Journeying from the west coast of North America to Canada and all over Europe, nothing topped the vibe at Freak Valley Festival in Netphen, Germany. A sold-out gathering of 2500 people, but it felt like everyone knew each other. One massive Rock’n’Roll Family. It was an honor to share the stage with Corrosion of Conformity, Wolfmother, Brant Bjork, Dead Lord, DeWolff and so many more. We are quite excited to release a live version of our performance at this event, and most honored to be releasing this with the mighty Ripple Music! It’s been a long time coming!”

GREAT ELECTRIC QUEST “Live At Freak Valley” Out March 27th on Ripple Music

TRACK LISTING:
1. In The Flesh
2. Seeker Of The Flame
3. Of Earth Part I
4. Of Earth Part II
5. Of Earth Part III
6. Victim Of Changes
7. The Madness
8. Heart Of The Son
9. Wicked Hands
10. Highway Star (Deep Purple cover)

GREAT ELECTRIC QUEST is
Tyler “T-Sweat” Dingvell – Vocals
Buddy Donner – Guitar
Daniel “MuchoDrums” Velasco – Drums
Jared Bliss – Bass

https://www.facebook.com/electricquest/
https://electricquest.bandcamp.com/
http://greatelectricquest.bigcartel.com/
https://www.facebook.com/theripplemusic/
https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/
https://www.ripple-music.com/

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Ape Machine to Release Live at Freak Valley May 26; West Coast Tour on Now

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 13th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

ape machine

Underrated Portland heavy rockers Ape Machine kicked off a West Coast tour last night at the Star Theater in their hometown. The run will take them down through California and into Texas for South by Southwest and then back up to Seattle over the next couple weeks with stops in Arizona along the way. Kind of standard procedure for Ape Machine by this time, as they seem to bust out West Coast dates on the regular. They’re still supporting 2013’s right-on-the-money Mangled by the Machine (review here), but they’ll have a new live record, Live at Freak Valley, out through Ripple Music in May as well.

They’re also gearing up to record their next studio album, and are promising some new material on this tour, so if you happen to be in their path, it seems like solid reasoning to stay there. We turn to the PR wire for the particulars:

ape machine tour dates

Ape Machine to release Live At Freak Valley LP/DVD set via Ripple Music | US Tour Dates for March (Inc. SXSW appearance)

Ape Machine’s Live At Freak Valley (LP/DVD) to be released on 26th May 2015

Having recently toured the US and Europe in support of their latest full-length album Mangled By The Machine, Portland stoners Ape Machine are set to hit the road this month in support of their new Live LP/DVD combo release Live At Freak Valley on Ripple Music.

The daring new release was filmed and recorded at the Freak Valley Festival in Germany last year; an event that has proven to be a veritable showcase and ‘Who’s Who’ in the brave new world of upcoming psychedelic and heavy stoner-rock bands. The set features Ape Machine’s blistering hour-long performance in front of a sold-out festival crowd and serves up proof that the band lives up to their reputation of captivating and commanding live audiences.

In addition to the upcoming Live at Freak Valley release, Ape Machine has released three critically acclaimed full-length albums, two recent releases of which – Mangled By The Machine and War To Head – were produced by Ikey Owens (Jack White, Mars Volta, Mastodon) who also contributed keyboards to both albums. Owens was slated to produce the band’s fourth full-length this summer before his untimely death this past October while on tour with Jack White. In Ikey Owens’s absence, the band plans to record their next full length this April with long-time friend Jacob Golden producing.

Last year also found Ape Machine touring extensively, sharing the stage with bands such as Motorhead, Helmet, Orange Goblin, Crobot plus many others. This March however the band kicks off their own West Coast tour, bringing their frenzied live show stateside on a trip through SXSW and beyond. (For the full list of dates see below.)

With their Live At Freak Valley release arriving on 26 May, this coming spring tour across the US, a new album in the pipeline and more planned for later in the year, 2015 promises to be busy year for one of the best new bands on the scene.

Tour Dates:
March 13 – Club 66 (Ashland, OR)
March 14 – Cafe Coda (Chico, CA)
March 15 – Audie’s (Fresno, CA)
March 16 – Slide Bar (Fullerton, CA)
March 17 – JR’s (Sierra Vista, AZ)
March 18 – Blue Max (Midland, TX)
March 19 – Eastdown Warehouse (Houston, TX)
March 20 – DIY Spot (Tyler, TX)
March 21 – SXSW Official Showcase on the Monster Energy Stage (Austin, TX)
March 21 – Fuzzed Out (Lola’s) (Ft. Worth, TX)
March 23 – Flycatcher (Tucson, AZ)
March 24 – Casbah (San Diego, CA)
March 25 – The Saloon (Encinitas, CA)
March 26 – El Rio (San Francisco, CA)
March 27 – Black Forest (Eugene, OR)
March 28 – The Mix – (Seattle, WA)

apemachine.com
facebook.com/apemachinemusic
twitter.com/apemachine
youtube.com/user/ApeMachineMusic/videos
instagram.com/apemachinemusic/
ripple-music.com

Ape Machine, “Wear Me Out” from Live at Freak Valley (2015)

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Causa Sui, Live at Freak Valley: Sacred Blood in the Garden (PLUS Full Album Stream)

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on March 31st, 2014 by JJ Koczan

Generally speaking, one of the problems with a live album is that save for rare exceptions, unless you happened to be at the show where it was recorded, it’s that much harder to make a connection to the experience of actually seeing the band on stage. I wasn’t so fortunate to be in Netphen, Germany, when Danish heavy psych masters Causa Sui played at Freak Valley 2013, but listening to the El Paraiso Records 2CD/2LP document of their set — fittingly titled Live at Freak Valley and available for preorder now ahead of an April 7 ship date — the audio easily gives a sense of the warmth and vibrancy of the four-piece’s performance. The material is culled from their 2005 self-titled debut (the inimitable “El Paraiso”) all the way to and through 2013’s hyperbole-worthy Euporie Tide, touching on the expansive jams taken from their Summer Sessions and Pewt’r Sessions along the way for a steady flow that, as the lineup of guitarist Jonas Munk, bassist Jess Kahr, drummer Jakob Skøtt and keyboardist Rasmus Rasmussen progress through their own catalog in swells of volume and stretches of subdued exploration, never subsides throughout the two-disc entirety of the release. Live at Freak Valley is Causa Sui‘s first official live album, and it’s not difficult to tell from listening why they’d want it made public. Especially in the longer-form cuts like “Red Valley” (10:19), the “Lonesome Traveller” medley that also includes pieces of “Santa Sangre” and “Garden of Forking Paths” (14:07), “El Paraiso” (12:36), “Euporie” (12:02) and “Homage” (9:56), Causa Sui are as engaging on their live incarnation as they are in their studio output.

Part of that has to be because Causa Sui‘s albums are closely tied to live performance. That sense was certainly true on Euporie Tide, where the mood was spontaneous, like the band could take their laid back grooving and tonal warmth anywhere they wanted to do go, places alternately lush and expansive or driving in their heavy riffs. Live at Freak Valley doesn’t allow for quite the same level of production value as a studio album, but it’s not far off, either. Munk handled the mixing and mastering himself, so the band’s touch is on every level of the release, and that’s clearly made a difference in the atmosphere of the audio. Each disc — or each platter, if you get the vinyl version — holds just under 45 minutes of runtime, so Live at Freak Valley comes across not as a live album sloppily assembled, lazily mixed and tossed out to capitalize on a willing fanbase, but as something that not only recounts Causa Sui‘s work in the past but actually adds something new to their oeuvre as well because of how well the spirit behind their material is carried through these songs and how plain to hear is the chemistry between the band members. Both the first disc (red) and second disc (blue) position Causa Sui not just as a group hitting their stride on stage, but pushing themselves past where they’ve been before to new places that are captured here. As “The Juice” and “Boozehound” from Euporie Tide flesh out into “Lonesome Traveller”-plus, the band elicit a hypnotized response that shows their command of their form and presentation and is only interrupted when the disc ends and it’s time to put on the other one. If anything interrupts the flow on Live at Freak Valley, it’s the constrictions of media.

That’s inevitable, however, and the tradeoff — aside from the positive, atmosphere-enhancing presence of physical media as a whole in comparison to the digital alternative — is that each half of Live at Freak Valley can be read as having a personality of its own, the first plenty immersive but more varied, with more songs included, the pieces worked into “Lonesome Traveller,” the jazzy jumps in “Mireille” and the thoroughly nailed build of “Red Valley” from Summer Sessions Vol. 3 marking the transition point to the second half’s come-get-lost-in-here sprawl. Those four songs alone — “El Paraiso,” “Euporie,” “Homage” and closer “Soledad” — make for what I have no doubt will prove one of 2014’s most satisfying in heavy psychedelia, but to have them coupled immediately with the preceding five tracks and to think of the entirety being presented whole, as one free-flowing set performed live, well, it’s one of the best live albums I’ve heard in a very long time and makes a solid argument for the live album as being able to capture the essence of a band on stage while also giving those who weren’t there a closer look at what they might have missed. Listening back to Munk‘s guitar and Rasmussen‘s keys lead the way over the steady progression of Kahr and Skøtt toward that song’s payoff, it’s clear that Causa Sui‘s creativity extends to how they conduct themselves live. It’s also clear that I need to see these guys play as soon as humanly possible, because whether it’s the initial wall of fuzz that “The Juice” builds or the serenity that bleeds through “Soledad,” Live at Freak Valley showcases some of the finest heavy psych that Europe has to offer. It’s a release the success of which exceeds even the considerable ambition that birthed it. Recommended.

PLEASE NOTE: I’ve been given permission to host the premiere of the full stream of Live at Freak Valley with this review. Please find it on the YouTube player below and enjoy!

Causa Sui, Live at Freak Valley (2014)

El Paraiso Records’ website

El Paraiso Records on Thee Facebooks

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