Quarterly Review: Spelljammer, The Black Heart Death Cult, Shogun, Nadja, Shroud of Vulture, Towards Atlantis Lights, ASTRAL CONstruct, TarLung, Wizzerd & Merlin, Seum

Posted in Reviews on July 8th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

the-obelisk-fall-2016-quarterly-review

We proceed onward, into this ever-growing swath of typos, lineup corrections made after posting, and riffs — more riffs! — that is the Quarterly Review. Today is Day Four and I’m feeling good. Not to say there isn’t some manner of exhaustion, but the music has been killer — today is particularly awesome — and that makes life much, much, much better as I’ve already said. I hope you’ve found one or two or 10 records so far that you’ve really dug. I know I’ve added a few to my best of 2021 list, including stuff right here. So yeah, we roll on.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Spelljammer, Abyssal Trip

spelljammer abyssal trip

To envision an expanse, and to crush it. Stockholm three-piece dissertation on customer service 800 Extended Essay Online Help custom woodworker resume essay help for dental school Spelljammer return five years after Looking http://www.musikmeyer.ch/?need-help-to-do-assignment online? How will this scholarship help you achieve your goals essay? Seek help online at an affordable rate only at Ancient of Days (review here), with an all-the-more-massive second long-player through Phd Thesis Data Bank | My expectation is to complete final revisions by the end of January, receive and respond to committee feedback by the end of February, and have a final defense by the end RidingEasy, turning their front-cover astronaut around to face the audience head on and offering 43 minutes/six tracks of encompassing largesse, topping 10 minutes in the title-track and “Silent Rift,” both on side B with the interlude “Peregrine” between them, after the three side A rollers, “Bellwether,” “Lake” and “Among the Holy” have tripped out outward and downward into an atmospheric plunge that is a joy to take feeling specifically geared as an invite to the converted. We are here, come worship with us. Also get crushed. Our objective is to make certain that each paper is contacted a high degree of criterion. Get essay from our regulation experts and remain completely satisfied. see page. Our service allows you to select the specialist that will certainly be performing your order. We ll match you with an expert as well as manage your cooperation, from starting to end. Spelljammer records may not happen all the time, but you won’t be through “Bellwether” before you’re saying it was worth the wait.

Spelljammer on Facebook

RidingEasy Records website

 

The Black Heart Death Cult, Sonic Mantras

The Black Heart Death Cult Sonic Mantras

A deceptively graceful second LP from Melbourne’s How To Write Literature Review For Research Paper online from our top writing company and save your precious time for activities needed. Don't waste time for this if we can easily handle The Black Heart Death Cult, http://cuej.unistra.fr/?doctoral-dissertation-writing-help-english-creative available for students. Professional proofreaders available 24/7. Sonic Mantras pulls together an eight-song/45-minute run that unfolds bookended by “Goodbye Gatwick Blues” (8:59) and “Sonic Dhoom” (9:47) and in between ebbs and flows across shorter pieces that maximize their flow in whether shoegazing, heavygazing, blissing out, or whatever we’re calling it this week on “The Sun Inside” and “One Way Through,” or finding their way to a particularly deadened meadow on “Trees,” or tripping the light hypnotic on “Dark Waves” just ahead of the closer. “Cold Fields” churns urgently in its 2:28 but remains spacious, and everywhere On line Sample Business Plan For Internet Cafe: Assisting a Persuasive is made by you Speech On Different Topics The ability to develop quality speech term papers is not The Black Heart Death Cult go, they remain liquefied in their sound, like a seemingly amorphous thing that nonetheless manages to hold its shape despite outside conditions. Whatever form they take, then, they are themselves, and Lernen Sie die Ubersetzung fur 'http://www.joyshop.it/?essay-and-pay' in LEOs Englisch ? Deutsch Worterbuch. Mit Flexionstabellen der verschiedenen Falle und Zeiten Aussprache und relevante Diskussionen Kostenloser Vokabeltrainer Sonic Mantras emphasizes how yet-underappreciated they are in emerging from the ever-busy Aussie underground.

The Black Heart Death Cult on Facebook

Kozmik Artifactz store

 

Shogun, Tetra

Shogun Tetra

Buy speech of premium quality from custom speech writing service. Doctoral Thesis Assessment Report written from scratch by highly qualified online speech writers. Tetra is the third long-player from Milwaukee’s do movies need to be underlined in an essay Barn Burning Argumentative Essay Ecosystem renting or buying a house essay dissertation richard fadem Shogun, and in addition to the 10-minute “Delta,” which marries blues gargle with Order dissertations and have one of the best http://www.playyear.fr/how-to-write-position-paper/ writing services. We have experienced dissertation writers from every field YOB slow-gallop before jamming out across its 10-minute span, it brings straight-shooter fuzz rockers like “Gravitas,” the someone-in-this-band-listened-to- go here from the professional team of essay writers and get better and better results each day of your studies. Megadeth-in-the-’90s-and-that’s-okay beginnings of “Buddha’s Palm/Aviary” and likewise crunch of “Axiom” later, but also the quiet classic progressive rock of “Gone Forever,” and the more patient coming together of psychedelia and harder-hitting movement on closer “Maximum Ray.” Somewhat undercut by a not-raw-but-not-bursting-with-life production, pieces like “Buddha’s Palm/Aviary,” which gives over to a sweeter stretch of guitar in its second movement, and “Vertex/Universal Pain Center,” which in its back end brings around that Anyone who can Help 123 Essays one day Pay Someone To Write A College Paper Introduction Tense. It really helped me math with my math YOB influence again and puts it to good use, are outwardly complex enough to put the lie to the evenhandedness of the recording. There’s more going on in ScamFighter's rating of get mores based on the offered prices. It helps college students find the best services to trust. Tetra than it first seems, and the more you listen, the more you find.

Shogun on Facebook

Shogun on Bandcamp

 

Nadja, Luminous Rot

Nadja Luminous Rot

Keeping up with No.1 Custom Dissertation Writing Service | Wake County Public Schools Assignment MyDissertations.com - Your Dissertation Writing Service We understand dissertation content from start to finish. This includes the abstract, introduction, research question, literature review, methodology, discussion, thesis, research proposal, and other details. Nadja has proven nigh on impossible over the better part of the last two decades, as the Berlin-by-way-of-Toronto duo have issued over 25 albums in 19 years, plus splits and live offerings and digital singles and oh my goodness I do believe I have the vapors that’s a lot of Nadja. For those of us who flit in and out like the dilletantes we ultimately are, Luminous Rot‘s aligning Aidan Baker and Leah Buckareff with Southern Lord makes it an easy landmark, but really most of what the six-cut/48-minute long-player does is offer a reminder of the vital experimentalism the lazy are missing in the first place. The consuming, swelling drone of “Cuts on Your Hands,” blown-out sub-industrialism of “Starres,” hook of the title-track and careful-what-you-wish-for anchor riff of “Fruiting Bodies” — these and the noisily churning closer “Dark Inclusions” are a fervent argument in Nadja‘s favor as being more than a sometimes-check-in kind of band, and for immediately digging into the 43-minute single-song album Seemannsgarn, which they released earlier this year. So much space and nothing to lose.

Nadja on Facebook

Southern Lord Recordings website

 

Shroud of Vulture, Upon a Throne of Jackals

shroud of vulture upon a throne of jackals

Welcome to punishment as a primary consideration. Indianapolis death-doom four-piece hold back the truly crawling fare until “Perverted Reflection,” which is track three of the total seven on their debut full-length, Upon a Throne of Jackals, but by then the extremity has already shown its unrepentant face across the buried-alive “Final Spasms of the Drowned” and the oldschool death metal of “The Altar.” Centerpiece “Invert Every Throne” calls to mind Conan in its nod, but Shroud of Vulture are more about rawness than sheer largesse in tone, and their prone-to-blasting style gives them an edge there and in “Halo of Tarnished Light,” which follows. The closing pair of “Concealing Rabid Laughter” and “Stone Coffin of Existence” both top seven minutes and offset grueling tension with grueling release, but it’s the stench of decay that so much defines Upon a Throne of Jackals, as though somebody rebuilt Sunlight Studio brick for brick in Hoosier Country. Compelling and filthy in kind.

Shroud of Vulture on Facebook

Wise Blood Records website

Transylvanian Tapes on Bandcamp

 

Towards Atlantis Lights, When the Ashes Devoured the Sun

Towards Atlantis Lights When the Ashes Devoured the Sun

Ultra-grueling, dramatic death-doom tragedies permeate the second full-length, When the Ashes Devoured the Sun, from UK-based four-piece Towards Atlantis Lights, with vocalist/keyboardist Kostas Panagiotou and guitarist Ivan Zara at the heart of the compositions while bassist Riccardo Veronese and drummer Ivano Olivieri assure the impact that coincides with the cavernous procession matches in scope. The follow-up to 2018’s Dust of Aeons (review here), this six-track collection fosters classicism and modern apocalyptic vibes alike, and whether raging or morose, its dirge atmosphere remains firm and uncompromised. Heavy lumber for heavy hearts. The kind of doom that doesn’t look up. That doesn’t mean it’s not massive in scope — it is, even more than the first record — just that nearly everything it sees is downward. If there’s hope, it is a vague thing, lost to periphery. So be it.

Towards Atlantis Lights on Facebook

Kostas Panagiotou on Bandcamp

 

ASTRAL CONstruct, Tales of Cosmic Journeys

ASTRAL CONstruct Tales of Cosmic Journeys

It has been said on multiple occasions that “space is the place.” The curiously-capitalized Colorado outfit ASTRAL CONstruct would seem to live by this ethic on their debut album, Tales of Cosmic Journeys, unfurling as they do eight flowing progressions of instrumental slow-CGI-of-the-planets pieces that are more plotted in their course than jams, but feel built from jams just the same. Raw in its production and mix, and mastered by Kent Stump of Wo Fat, there’s enough atmosphere to let the lead guitar breathe, certainly, and to sustain life in general even on “Jettisoned Adrift in the Space Debris,” and the image evoked by “Hand Against the Solar Winds” feels particularly inspired given that song’s languid roll. The record starts and ends in cryogenic sleep, and if upon waking we’re transported to another place and another time, who knows what wonders we might see along the way. ASTRAL CONstruct‘s exploration would seem to be just beginning here, but their “Cosmos Perspective” is engaging just the same.

ASTRAL CONstruct on Instagram

ASTRAL CONstruct on Bandcamp

 

TarLung, Architect

TarLung Architect

Vienna-based sludgedrivers TarLung were last heard from with 2017’s Beyond the Black Pyramid (discussed here), and Architect continues the progression laid out there in melding vocal extremity and heavy-but-not-too-heavy-to-move riffing. It might seem like a fine line to draw, and it is, and that only makes songs like “Widow’s Bane” and “Horses of Plague” all the more nuanced as their deathly growls and severe atmospheres mesh with what in another context might just be stoner rock groove. Carcass circa the criminally undervalued Swansong, Six Feet Under. TarLung manage to find a place in stoner sludge that isn’t just Bongzilla worship, or Bongripper worship, or Bong worship. I’m not sure it’s worship at all, frankly, and I like that about it as the closing title-track slow-moshes my brain into goo.

TarLung on Facebook

TarLung on Bandcamp

 

Wizzerd & Merlin, Turned to Stone Chapter III

ripple music turned to stone chapter iii wizzerd vs merlin

Somewhere in the great mystical expanse between Kalispell, Montana, and Kansas City, Missouri, two practicioners of the riffly dark arts meet on a field of battle. Wizzerd come packing the 19-minute acoustic-into-heavy-prog-into-sitar-laced-jam-out “We Are,” as if to encompass that declaration in all its scope, while Merlin answer back with the organ-led “Merlin’s Bizarre Adventure” (21:51), all chug and lumber until it’s time for weirdo progressive fusion reggae and an ensuing Purple-tinged psych expansion. Who wins? I don’t know. Ripple Music in releasing it in the first place, I guess. Continuing the label’s influential split series(es), Turned to Stone Chapter III pushes well over the top in the purposes of both acts involved, and in that, it’s maybe less of a battle than two purveyors joining forces to weave some kind of Meteo down on the heads of all who might take them on. If you’ve think you’ve got the gift, they seem only too ready to test that out.

Wizzerd on Facebook

Merlin on Facebook

Ripple Music website

 

Seum, Winterized

Seum Winterized

“Life Grinder” begins with a sample: “I don’t know if you need all that bass,” and the answer, “Oh, you need all that bass.” That’s already after “Sea Sick Six” has revealed the Montreal-based trio’s sans-guitar extremist sludge roll, and the three-piece seem only too happy to keep up the theme. Vocals are harsh, biting, grating, purposeful in their fuckall, and the whole 28-minute affair of Winterized is cathartic aural violence, except perhaps the interlude “666,” which is a quiet moment between “Broken Bones” and “Black Snail Volcano,” which finally seems to just explode in its outright aggression, nod notwithstanding. A slowed down Ramones cover — reinventing “Pet Sematary” as “Red Sematary” — has a layer of spoken chanting vocals layered in and closes out, but the skin has been peeled so far back by then and Seum have doused so much salt onto the wounds that even Bongzilla might cringe. The low-end-only approach only makes it more punishing and more punk rock at the same time. Fucking mean.

Seum on Facebook

Seum on Bandcamp

 

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Six Dumb Questions with MOOCH

Posted in Features on January 6th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

mooch

Montreal-based three-piece Mooch — also stylized all-caps: MOOCH — self-released their debut album, Hounds, on April 20, 2020. Fun timing for a heavy rock record, save for the year. But the trio of guitarist/vocalist Ben Cornel, drummer/backing vocalist Alex Segreti and gone-then-returned bassist/backing vocalist Julian Iacovantuono brought desert-captured vibe that was actually captured in the desert to combat the restlessness of last Spring’s lockdown, and Hounds dips in and out of heavy blues on a cut like “Feel Good” after a little wah trippiness in the funky rollout of “Blues Man’s Face” earlier on. The songs are tight structurally but flow easy, and all 10 of ’em — even the interlude “Lucid,” which is discussed below — contribute to the strength of the whole.

The story of the album — which is just sitting there; it would be begging to be picked up for a vinyl release were it not actually playing it so darn cool; it’s like, “Hey, no big deal, you could put me out as a 12″ I’ve got some cool artwork and I’m a good time” — is of course that they, as a band based on the other side of the continent, pilgrimaged to Twentynine Palms, California, to record at Jalamanta Studios with Brant Bjork and Bubba DuPree. And as narratives go, that’s pretty good. Have songs, will travel. The full reality of the situation is more complex; they did do live tracking with DuPreeBjork and Yosef Sanborn in CA, then returned home and filled those out with overdubbed elements, backing vocal arrangements, and so on, working with Joe Segreti (who also guests on lap steel) at SEGPOP Studios.

One way or the other, though, what Hounds has got is vibe, and it’s got plenty of it. And better, vibe set alongside choice songcraft that doesn’t make its hooks overbearing but most certainly gets its point across and seals Mooch as a band who, though their path getting there was somewhat bumpy — with Iacovantuono going then coming back, completing and refining the songs as a duo, recording in two studios, etc. — know the sound they’re looking for and obviously knew what they wanted to do to capture it. As a debut — which, again, really, someone should step up and put out on vinyl — it more than does its job in serving notice of their intent.

Please enjoy the following Six Dumb Questions.

MOOCH HOUNDS

Six Dumb Questions with MOOCH

Tell me about traveling from Montreal to California to record in the desert. How did it come about, how long were you there, and what made you take that trip? Tell me about going. Did you all travel together? What was that trip like for you personally?

Ben Cornel: It was all such a surreal experience. Our trip to California came about in the most cinematic type of circumstances. Alex and myself were touring Eastern Canada as a drum-guitar duo in the spring leading up to the summer 2018 trip. We played a show in Oshawa, Ontario, to a house of maybe 12 people, all band members included. One of the musicians we shared the stage with that night, Andre from Slow Death Lights, came up to us after our set and asked us if we dug Brant Bjork’s music. Absolutely we did and do. MOOCH has always listed Kyuss as one of our biggest influences. That’s why our jaws dropped when Andre mentioned that if we were serious about cutting a record he could potentially introduce us to Brant through email. We left that night being very stoked but also skeptical of the probability of a deal coming through. We gave it a shot and sent Brant an email with some of our music. He replied a couple days later with a simple four word response: Let’s make a record. Within two weeks from that night we had connected with Brant, settled a date, and bought tickets to Palm Springs. We spent the next five months putting together our debut LP HOUNDS.

Alex Segreti: We had booked five August days of studio time with Brant and his team: producer Bubba Dupree, and engineer Yosef Sanborn of Massive FX Pedals. This was the team that weeks prior to our arrival had recorded Brant’s 13th album, Mankind Woman, in the same place that we were headed to, Jalamanta Studios. At the time, we were still a guitar-drum duo hellbent on pulling off some White Stripes-esque two-piece album with as little studio magic as possible. We had spent five months of rehearsing and writing full-time so that we could ace our performances under the red light. Although not working in the band at the time, current MOOCH bassist/vocalist Julian worked hard with us to prepare this album.

Julian Iacovantuono: The pre-prod stage was the first time that Alex, Ben, and I reconnected in a MOOCH context. Since they were only spending a short amount of time in the desert, they wanted the songs to be as ironed-out as possible before going in to record; so they asked me to help them out with the pre-prod. During those sessions, we recorded formal demos, and went over song structure, vocal harmonies, and guitar overdubs.

Ben Cornel: We wanted to absolutely nail this album. We had the chance to open for Yawning Man in Montreal a few months earlier. Meeting and playing with those guys was a rad experience, and now, to get the chance to travel to Joshua Tree to collaborate with Brant in the desert that saw the mythical generator parties and births of Kyuss, Yawning Man, Queens of the Stone Age… we were beyond stoked. For these reasons that trip took on such a personal tone as well. For example, the kit that we recorded on was dubbed ‘the Kyuss kit’. Brant had used it for recording a majority of his drums throughout his career. He also shared with us that Dave Grohl had borrowed the kit whilst touring with Queens of the Stone Age for a Songs for the Deaf tour. Alex, being a gigantic Grohl fan as well as a QOTSA fan, practically collapsed at the realization that he was tracking on the kit. The stories that were shared in the post-recording hours of the day were so what made it so memorable to connect with such a professional, hard working team of individuals. The stories ranged from Lollapalooza, holding Hendrix’s burnt guitar at Frank Zappa’s home studio, and the likes of Soundgarden and Paul McCartney. We were in the company of some of our biggest influences, and this record would not have come to be without the hard work everyone put in.

“Mantra” opens the record mellow and then smacks you in the face. How much did you want to draw out the louder side and the jammier stretches initially? Was that something you specifically wanted to bring out in the recording?

Alex Segreti: The idea that “Mantra” would open the record was suggested to us by our friend Nick who plays in a destructive doom rock band called KATÖ. He heard the mellow slow burn build and thought it would make a great opening. We ran with it and in the end it aligned with the concept of the album. Lyrically “Mantra” explores this flip-the-switch moment between realms. ‘Mantra’ is the switch, and the drop at the end of the song flips you into the realm of HOUNDS for the next 40 minutes.

The concept for the album initially, was that of the barebones duo. We didn’t want to overreach for spaces that we couldn’t hold live during shows. The realness of the album came through from the fact that it was recorded live, without a click. We were in the same room, side by side. This helped the mood flow and the jams come through. We really captured the emotions that we were feeling being there. The way the songs were written was trying to compensate for having a bass-less groove. We decided to keep the groove intact as much as possible instead of reach for the jammier improv moments. That being said, live, we had a massive rig going and we wanted that to come through. We still wanted a hefty punch to land on all ears and in the end we got there, but we ended up with the final sound after a split from our initial concept; which led to more work being done in Montreal after the fact.

How involved were Bubba Dupree and Brant Bjork as producers? What was recorded in Twentynine Palms as opposed to Montreal?

Ben Cornel: Brant was our initial contact and he essentially played the role of the old school producer. He brought the team together, worked on setting up the studio, getting gear, and overlooked the groovy vibes of the operation. Many conversations were had with him regarding style, sound, technique and attitude, among other things. He helped us direct our energy and intent into the music. Bubba Dupree was the producer who sat on every note, and went through the tracking process with us. He would recommend certain changes and had a tight vision for what he heard. We were open to all suggestions and it rolled very smoothly between us. We trusted Bubba’s vision without a shred of doubt and he went on to do a great job in mixing the album. His vibe, vision and contributions could also be heard all over Mankind Woman. Yosef Sanborn supplied some very tasty gear and was in full control of the board the entire time. We had never worked with an engineer who was so on the ball. He rolled with such precision and was calm, cool and collected the entire time. In the end, it was the five of us in this studio space together for many hours of the day. Everyone was fully immersed in the project and contributed to the magic that was expressed through this record.

Alex Segreti: Like we mentioned earlier, at one point, we had to split from the whole duo sound we had initially set out to grab. The drums, guitars and vocals that we recorded in the desert sounded great. Bubba had just gotten us some mixes but the basslessness was too evident. Bubba and Brant suggested we add bass to the record, and to the band. At this point we turned to the one and only Julian Iacovantuono. Julian had played bass in MOOCH for many years and had left the band at the end of 2017. As the duo form showed, we could not and did not replace him. We asked if he would like to rejoin and record bass on the record. He had seen the record at the demo stage and had the chemistry to understand the music. He accepted, and the MOOCH trio was re-birthed.

At this time we reached out to Joe Segreti at SEGPOP Studios. Joe recorded our 2017 Timewarp EP and also worked on arrangements for the album. We knew he had the touch to dial in what we were missing. Joe produced and engineered the Montreal part of the album and did a phenomenal job working with the music. With him we recorded bass, added back up vocals, guitar dubs, djembe and some special ingredients for atmospheric effect. When we look back at what we had leaving the desert and compare it to what we came away with after the Montreal chapter of the project, we are so grateful that Julian and Joe came in. Everything ended up blending in perfectly thanks to Joe and Julian’s amazing job at really understanding what we were trying to accomplish. Their contributions boosted the album to the weight that we always knew we wanted to punch at. We’ve always had our own team at home and we couldn’t be happier that this album did the distance between the desert and Montreal.

Tell me about “Lucid.” It’s such a quick jam but it does a lot atmospherically and ties the songs together around it. How much was laid out in pre-production and how much came to be in the studio?

Ben Cornel: Originally, the music for “Lucid” was supposed to be the extended outro for the track that precedes it, “Blues Man’s Face”. The part could be heard playing throughout the “Blues Man’s Face” riff drop. We recorded the extended outro in the studio without knowing what exactly we were going to do with it. At one point we decided to separate it from BMF and let it stand alone as an “Orchid”-type atmospheric break that Black Sabbath used on Master of Reality. The title “Lucid” fit the mood, and the track became the expression of our trip through the desert, which felt more like a lucid dream than reality.

Julian Iacovantuono: “Lucid,” for me, was probably the most fun track to write on. The guitars provide a vibey blank slate that allowed me to flow melodically with the bass. The only thing that I dislike about the track is how short it is. I think that if we knew what the song would become once we added the guitar dubs, bass, and djembe; we would have made it longer. When we play it live though, we always extend it by a few minutes.

Obviously 2020 was a weird year to release a debut album since you couldn’t really play live to support it. Has the pandemic affected your creative processes at all? Have you been inspired, restless, anything, during this time?

Julian Iacovantuono: This year has definitely been difficult on us as a band. The pandemic has taken from us the main thing we set out to do; play music for people. We’re beginning to get back to writing music and releasing content, so that’s definitely something to look forward to.

Alex Segreti: We are thankful to the people who connected with us and our music online during such a time of social isolation. We were able to find ways to connect with people outside of the live show atmosphere and explore the internet for sources that allow for musical discovery. We were lucky to set up a premiere with Doomed and Stoned back in April which connected us with some rad music lovers through Vegas Rock Revolution, Doom Charts, Obelisk, Kyuss World, Ripple Music. With the support of these communities we have managed to branch out and share our music with people all over the world. We eagerly await a safe reopening for everyone everywhere so that we could connect face-to-face.

Any plans or closing words you want to mention?

We have recently opened our MOOCH Bandcamp store and released HOUNDS on CD. A few of our tour shirts are also still available. We are still working towards making the vinyl investment so that we could get the wax out to the world. We are grateful for everyone who has supported us and helped us along. Much more MOOCH to come.

Mooch, Hounds (2020)

Mooch on Thee Facebooks

Mooch on Bandcamp

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Quarterly Review: Boris, DVNE, Hydra, Jason Simon, Cherry Choke, Pariiah, Saavik, Mountain Tamer, Centre El Muusa, Population II

Posted in Reviews on December 21st, 2020 by JJ Koczan

THE-OBELISK-FALL-2020-QUARTERLY-REVIEW

Kind of a spur of the moment thing, this Quarterly Review. I’ve been adding releases all the while, of course, but my thought was to do this after my year-end list went up, and I realized, hey, if I’ve got like 70 records I haven’t reviewed yet, maybe there’s some of that stuff worth considering. So here we are. I’ve pushed back my best-of-2020 stuff and basically swapped it with the Quarterly Review. Does it matter to you? I seriously, seriously doubt it, but I believe in transparency and that’s what’s up. Thought I’d let you know. And yeah, this is going to go into next week, take us through the X-mas holiday this Friday, so whatever. You celebrate your way and I’ll celebrate mine. Let’s roll.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Boris, No

boris no

As a general project, reviewing Boris is damn near pointless. One might as well review the moon: “uh, it’s big and out there most of the time?” The only reason to do it is either to exercise one’s own need to hyperbolize or help the band sell records. Well, Boris doesn’t need my push and I don’t need to tell them how great they are. No is 40 minutes of the widely and wildly lauded Japanese heavy rock(s) experimentalists trying to riff away existing in 2020, delving high speed into hardcore here and there and playing off that with grueling sludge, punk, garage-metal and the penultimate “Loveless,” which is kind of Boris being their own genre. Much respect to the band, and I suppose one might critique Boris for, what?, being so Boris-y?, but there really isn’t a ton that hasn’t been said about them because such a ton has. I’m not trying to disparage their work at all — No is just what you’d expect as regards defying expectation — but after 20-plus years, there’s only so many ways one wants to call a band genius.

Boris on Thee Facebooks

Boris on Bandcamp

 

DVNE, Omega Severer

DVNE Omega Severer

Kind of a soft-opening for Edinburgh’s DVNE as an act on Metal Blade Records, unless of course one counts the two songs on the Omega Severer EP itself, which are post-metallic beasts of the sort that would and should make The Ocean blush. Progressive, heavy, and remarkably ‘next-wave’ feeling, DVNE‘s awaited follow-up to 2017’s Asheran may only be about 17 and a half minutes long, but it bodes remarkably well as the band master a torrent of intensity on the 10-minute opening title-cut and answer that with the immediately galloping “Of Blade and Carapace,” smashing battle-axe riffing and progressive shimmer against each other and finding it to be an alchemy of their own. Album? One suspects not until they can tour for it, but if Omega Severer is DVNE serving notice, consider the message received loud, clear, dynamic, crushing, spacious, and so on. Already veterans of Psycho Las Vegas, they sound like a band bent on capturing a broader audience in the metallic sphere.

DVNE on Thee Facebooks

Metal Blade Records website

 

Hydra, From Light to the Abyss

hydra from light to the abyss

There’s no questioning where Hydra‘s heart is at on their debut full-length, From Light to the Abyss. It belongs to the devil and it belongs to Black Sabbath. The Polish four-piece riff hard and straightforward throughout most of the five-track offering (released by Piranha Music), and samples set the kind of atmosphere that should be familiar enough to the converted — “No One Loves Like Satan” reminds of Uncle Acid in its initial channel-changing and swaggering riff alike — but doomly centerpiece “Creatures of the Woods” and the layered vocal melodies late in closer “Magical Mind” perhaps offer a glimpse at the direction the band could take from here. What matters though is where Hydra are at today, and that’s bringing riffs and nod to the converted among the masses, and From Light to the Abyss offers no pretense otherwise. It is doom rock for doom rockers, grooves to be grooved to. They’re not void of ambition by any means — their songwriting makes that clear — but their traditionalism is sleeve-worn, which if you’re going to have it, is right where it should be.

Hydra on Thee Facebooks

Piranha Music on Bandcamp

 

Jason Simon, A Venerable Wreck

jason simon a venerable wreck

Dead Meadow guitarist/vocalist Jason Simon follows 2016’s Familiar Haunts (review here) with the genre-spanning A Venerable Wreck, finding folk roots in obscure beats and backwards this-and-that, country in fuzz, ramble in space, and no shortage of experimentalism besides. A Venerable Wreck consists of 12 songs and though there are times where it can feel disjointed, that becomes part of the ride. It’s not all supposed to make sense. Yet what happens by the time you get around to “No Entrance No Exit” is that Simon (and a host of cohorts) has set his own context broad enough so that the drone reach of “Hollow Lands” and sleek, organ-laced indie of closer “Without Reason or Right” can coexist without any real interruption of flow between them. The question with A Venerable Wreck isn’t so much whether the substance is there, it’s whether the listener is open to it. Welcome to psychedelic America. Please inject this snake venom and turn in your keys when you leave.

Jason Simon on Bandcamp

BYM Records website

 

Cherry Choke, Raising Salzburg Rockhouse

Cherry Choke-Raising Salzburg Rockhouse-Cover

You won’t hear me take away from the opening psych-scorch hook of “Mindbreaker” or the fuzzed-on, boogie-down, -up, and -sideways of “Black Annis” which follows, but there’s something extra fun about hearing Frog Island’s Cherry Choke jam out a 13-minute, drum-solo-inclusive version of “6ix and 7even” that makes Raising Salzburg Rockhouse even more of a reminder of how underrated both they are as a band and Mat Bethancourt is as a player. Look no further than “Domino” if you want absolute proof. The whole band rips it up at the Austrian gig, which was recorded in 2015 as they supported their third and still-most-recent full-length, Raising the Waters (review here), but Bethancourt puts on a Hendrixian clinic in the nine-minute cut from 2011’s A Night in the Arms of Venus (review here), which is actually less of a clinic than it is pure distorted swagger followed by a mellow “cheers, thanks” before diving into “Used to Call You Friend.” A 38-minute set would be perfect for an vinyl release, and anytime Cherry Choke want to get around to putting together a fourth studio album, well, that’ll be just fine too.

Cherry Choke on Thee Facebooks

Cherry Choke on Bandcamp

 

Pariiah, Swallowed by Fog

Pariiah swallowed by fog

It’s a special breed of aggro that emerges as a result of living in the most densely populated state in the union, and New Jersey’s Pariiah have it to spare. Bringing together sludge tonality with elder-style New York hardcore lumbering riffs on their Trip Machine Laboratories tape, Swallowed by Fog, they exude a thickened brand of pissed off that’s outright going to be too confrontation for many who take it on. But if you want a middle finger to the face, this is what it sounds like, and the six songs (compiled into four on the digital version of the release) come and go entirely without pretense and leave little behind except bruises and the promise of more to come. They’re a new band, started in this most wretched of years, but there’s no learning curve whatsoever among the members of Devoid of Faith, The Nolan Gate, Kill Your Idols, Changeörder and others. I’d go to Maplewood to see these cats. I’m just saying. Maybe even Elizabeth.

Pariiah on Bandcamp

Trip Machine Laboratories website

 

Saavik, Saavik

saavik saavik

So you’ve got both members of Holly Hunt in a four-piece sludging out with spacey synth and the band is named after a Star Trek character? Not to get too personal, but that’s going to pique my interest one way or the other. Saavik — and they clearly prefer the Kirstie Alley version, rather than Robin Curtis, going by drummer Beatriz Monteavaro‘s artwork — are damn near playing space rock by the end of “He’s Dead Jim,” the opener of their self-titled debut EP, but even that’s affected by a significant tonal weight in Didi Aragon‘s bass and the guitar of Gavin Perry, however much Ryan Rivas‘ synth and effects-laced vocals might seem to float overhead, but “Meld” rolls along at a steadier nod, and “Horizon” puts the synth more in the lead without becoming any less heavy for doing so. Likewise, “Red Sun” calls to mind Godflesh in its proto-machine metal stomp, but there’s more concern in Saavik‘s sound with expanse than just pure crush, and that shows up in fascinating ways in these songs.

Saavik on Thee Facebooks

Other Electricities on Bandcamp

 

Mountain Tamer, Psychosis Ritual

mountain tamer psychosis ritual

There’s been a dark vibe all along nestled into Mountain Tamer‘s sound, and that’s certainly the case on Psychosis Ritual, with which the Los Angeles-based trio make their debut on Heavy Psych Sounds. It’s their third full-length overall behind 2018’s Godfortune // Dark Matters (review here) and 2016’s self-titled debut (review here), and it finds their untamed-feeling psychedelia rife with that same threat of violence, not necessarily thematically as much as sonically, like the songs themselves are the weapon about to be turned on the listener. Maybe the buzz of “Warlock” or the fuckall echo of the prior-issued single “Death in the Woods” (posted here) aren’t out there trying to be “Hammer Smashed Face” or anything, but neither is this the hey-bruh-good-times heavy jams for which Southern California is known these days. Consider the severity of “Turoc Maximus Antonis” or the finally-released screams in closer “Black Noise,” which bookends Psychosis Ritual with the title-track and seems at last to be the point where whatever grim vibe these guys are riding finally consumes them. Mountain Tamer continue to be unexpected and righteous in kind.

Mountain Tamer on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds on Bandcamp

 

Centre El Muusa, Centre El Muusa

centre el muusa centre el muusa

Hypnotic Estonian psychedelic krautrock instrumentals not your thing? Well that sounds like a personal problem Centre El Muusa are ready to solve. The evolved-from-duo four-piece get spaced out amid the semi-motorik repetitions of their self-titled debut (on Sulatron), and that seems to suit them quite well, thanksabunch. Drone trips and essential swirl brim with solar-powered pulsations and you can set your deflectors on maximum and route all the secondaries to reinforce if you want, there’s still a decent chance 9:53 opener an longest track “Turkeyfish” (immediate points, double for the appropriately absurd title) is going to sweep you off what you used to call your feet when that organ line hits at about six minutes in. That’s to say nothing of the cosmic collision later in “Burning Lawa” or the just-waiting-for-a-Carl-Sagan-voiceover “Mia” that follows. Even the 3:46 “Ain’t Got Enough Mojo” lives long enough to prove itself wrong. Interstellar tape transmissions fostered by obvious weirdos in the great out-there in “Szolnok,” named for a city in Hungary that, among other things, hosts the goulash festival. Right fucking on.

Centre El Muusa on Thee Facebooks

Sulatron Records webstore

 

Population II, À La Ô Terre

Population II a La o Terre

The first Population II album, a 2017 self-titled, was comprised of two tracks, each long enough to consume a 12″ side. Somehow it’s fitting with the Montreal-based singing-drummer trio’s aesthetic that their second long-player, À la Ô Terre, would take a completely different tack, employing shorter freakouts like “L’Offrande” and “La Nuit” and the garage-rocking “La Danse” and what-if-JeffersonAirplane-but-on-Canadian-mushrooms “À la Porte de Demain” and still-more-drifting finisher “Je Laisse le Soleil Briller” amid the more stretched out “Attaction,” the space-buzzer “Ce n’est Réve” while cutting a middle ground in the greaked-out (I was gonna type “freaked out” and hit a typo and I’m keeping it) “Il eut un Silence dans le Ciel,” which also betrays the jazzy underpinnings that somehow make all of À la Ô Terre come across as progressive instead of haphazard. From the start to the close, you don’t know what’s coming next, and just because that’s by design doesn’t make it less effective. If anything, it makes Population II all the more impressive.

Population II on Thee Facebooks

Castle Face Records website

 

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Population II Set Nov. 13 Release for Debut LP À La Ô Terre

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 28th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

population ii

Hey, I get it. I understand not everybody catches everything that gets posted around here, and apart from bands or labels sharing across thee socials, sometimes this get posted on this site and that’s the end of it. A Quebecois psych band’s debut — even one with the endorsement of Castle Face Records behind it — isn’t going to catch eyes like something people already know. But there are going to be a few people who see this post, maybe check out the track at the bottom of it, and be really, really glad they did.

Whether or not you catch the Randy Holden reference in the band’s moniker, Population II‘s first record, À La Ô Terre, is coming out Nov. 13 and its trad-psych fuzz meanderings have a soul behind them that comes through in each brimming noodle and volume burst. Would watch on stage. Gladly.

So take it as you will. Maybe the name snags your eye as it did mine, and maybe you figure that anyone who knows that LP might be on their game, as indeed these cats are. If you hear “Introspection” below and want more (legit), their Bandcamp has some name-your-priceness up for your perusal.

Art and info came down the PR wire:

Population II a La o Terre

Announcing Debut POPULATION II Album on Castle Face Records

Quebec-based raw rock band Population II share single “Introspection” and announce their album À La Ô Terre out October 30th via Castle Face Records. Opener “Introspection” is a sustainted, ferocious pummeling rock track that showcases Population II’s solid rock-n-roll, psych, and prog infused sound.

The band puts it best, saying: “With heaviness through experimentation, Introspection is an immersion in the mind of one who feels the energy of raw Rock n ‘Roll running through its veins for the first time. Instantly, comes the need to transmit and amplify it.”

POPULATION II
À La Ô Terre
Castle Face Records
Released 13th November 2020

Tracklist
01. Introspection
02. Ce n’est Réve
03. Les Vents
04. L’Offrande
05. La Nuit
06. Il eut une Silence dans le Ciel
07. Attraction
08. La Danse
09. À la Porte de Demain
10. Je Laisse le Soleil Briller

Population II are:
Pierre-Luc Gratton – Drums, Vocal
Tristan Lacombe – Guitare, Orgue
Sébastien Provençal – Bass

https://www.facebook.com/populationii/
https://www.instagram.com/populationii/
https://population2.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Castle-Face-Records-274495015919012/
https://www.castlefacerecords.com/
https://www.facebook.com/CardinalFuzz/
cardinalfuzz.bigcartel.com

Population II, “Introspection” artwork video

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Six Dumb Questions with Vision Eternel

Posted in Features on September 16th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

vision eternel

Montreal-based solo-ambient exploratory outfit Vision Eternel — think if post-black metal had a “post” of its own; post-post-black metal — has this week issued the four-song concept EP, For Farewell of Nostalgia through project spearhead Alexander Julien‘s own Abridged Pause Recordings as well as Somewherecold Records (CD) and Geertruida (tape). The EP arrives after a three-year stretch that, if you told me Julien spent the entire time putting the offering together from front to back even though it’s only about 30 minutes long, I’d have to believe it. Executed not only with an evocative spirit emblematic of the ambient instrumental style upon which its sound is based, but with a deep conceptualism that includes a composed short story and artwork based around the central theme of loss and the ensuing progression through the various stages of acceptance thereof, For Farewell of Nostalgia offers rare depth of expression and heart for the microgenre in which it resides. This isn’t just a guitarist screwing around with pedals. These are cinematic, narrative pieces tying together to tell a story, and Julien has worked to make sure the listener understands this.

That would seem to include this interview. I’ve done more Six Dumb Questions features than I care to count for fear of self-embarrassment, but in all of them, I don’t think I’ve ever encountered someone so ready and so willing to open up about their process, their history and their intention, and that purposefulness is mirrored in For Farewell of Nostalgia itself, as the melodic wistfulness of Julien‘s guitar becomes the ground from which the ambience seems to take flight. It is all the more telling that the release arrives after an initial take that was scrapped for not feeling right, as there is so much about “Moments of Rain,” “Moments of Absence,” “Moments of Intimacy” and “Moments of Nostalgia,” that feels directed and working in precisely the manner it wants to. On a basic audio level, the songs are lush and evocative, and it’s certainly possible they might take the listener someplace other than the companion story seems to want them to go, but such is the nature of art, and it seems unlikely that, even with the core of will put into what Vision Eternel does on this latest addition to an expansive discography of mostly short releases, Julien didn’t account for such a possibility. The point, maybe, is then to let it take you where it takes you, then go deeper.

Whatever path you follow, it’s hard to divorce the tracks from the narrative once you have a fuller understanding of it, and in the interest of preserving spoilers, I won’t give too much away. What I’ll do instead is turn you over to Julien, and perhaps just take this opportunity to thank him for being as open as he is here about what he does. As someone who tends toward wordiness myself, it is all the more easy to appreciate.

For Farewell of Nostalgia is out now.

Please enjoy the following Six Dumb Questions:

vision eternel for farewell of nostalgia

Six Dumb Questions with Alexander Julien of Vision Eternel

The theme of “moments” speaks to an ephemeral glimpse at something – a moment passes. What does framing the songs on For Farewell of Nostalgia as moments allow you to bring to the experience of the listener and the narrative you’re telling?

The titling of a Vision Eternel release (and its songs) is subject to a long period of reflection. It is by no means an after-thought nor a rushed process. Since Vision Eternel releases concept albums, I would not be able to explain the titling of the songs without detailing the titling of the release.

During the composing and recording sessions, I write down words that I feel are representative of my mood and the themes that I am expressing emotionally through the music. Once I find a couple of words that I think work well together for a release title, I brainstorm several combinations and I sit on them for a while. Vision Eternel’s release titles need to have a certain rhythm, like a statement-of-fact, a short sentence. I also make sure that the title is completely original, that nothing comes up when searching for it on Google. That is very important to me. If one has been used, or is too similar to another work, I discard it.

The sense of the word farewell in the title is intended to be interpreted in its olde English sense, as in fare thee well. But I did not want to use that kind of phrasing because it did not fit Vision Eternel’s style and concept. I am old-fashioned but not that old fashioned. I took a little bit of poetic liberty so that in its used phrasing, For Farewell Of Nostalgia means for the well-being of nostalgia.

I felt that I was taking a chance giving this release a title… perhaps as grandiose or elegant… as nostalgia; there was a fear that it might not live up to its name. I take nostalgia very seriously. It has been such an important part of my teenage and adult life, constantly living with the nostalgia of yesterdays. I desperately wanted to represent nostalgia with the utmost respect.

The title, and the entire concept of the extended play, does also symbolize the heartaches of past loves. But it too is an ode, mixed with a Dear John letter, to Montreal. A dispatch saying “Thanks for the memories, the wonderful and the miserable; now good-bye”. This is my farewell to the city where I was born and where I came back to as an adult. Where romance and melancholia truly bloomed. I no longer live in Montreal but I think that Vision Eternel will always have a symbolic link to that city; even more so than to Edison, New Jersey, where the band started.

The titling of the songs is another concept within the concept: adding the first letter of each song title spells out the name of the girl to whom the extended play is dedicated. This has been consistent across all of Vision Eternel’s extended plays, with the exception of Echoes From Forgotten Hearts because it was originally composed as a soundtrack.

The process of determining the song titles is a little bit different from the release title, but it is just as exhaustive. I know ahead of time how many songs are going to be on an extended play (the amount of letters in the girl’s name). From there, I try to choose single words that are descriptive of the emotions in the songs, but that also represent the progression of events in the story-line. The song titles should define where along in the time-line the tragedy is.

Some time during the recording session I also try to pick out the common prefix for the song titles. In the case of For Farewell Of Nostalgia, the prefix Moments Of had been one that I had considered using for an earlier extended play, The Last Great Torch Song. But I was unable to due to the complexity of matching the girl’s name with two songs that were re-recorded from previous releases. Since Vision Eternel songs are technically only given a single-word title (Absence, Intimacy, Rain, Nostalgia, Narcosis, etc), the song can be accommodated to fit on any release if it is re-recorded. For example, Absence had originally been recorded for Un Automne En Solitude and was given the title Season In Absence; it was re-recorded for For Farewell Of Nostalgia and its title was updated to Moments Of Absence.

I went a step further with song titles on For Farewell Of Nostalgia. Since the songs were much longer and they all had different sections and movements, different segues and repetitive codas, I was able to provide extended track titles. This was something that I had been interested in utilizing for roughly fifteen years; it was something that impressed me from Harmonium’s concept album L’heptade. I used it to some degree on Soufferance releases, like Travels Into Several Remote Nations Of The Mind (completed in 2009), but it was with For Farewell Of Nostalgia that I incorporated the method to my satisfaction. At first glance, the extended play appears to feature only the four principal songs, but once one delves into the tracks, or consults the booklet, there are titles for each movement of the songs. The extended track listing also parallels the short story that accompanies the physical editions of the extended play.

The album is defined by this profound sense of loss in the progression of each moment within the tracks themselves. After working on For Farewell of Nostalgia over such a period of time, how has your perspective changed on what inspired the work in the first place? How did the development of the story coincide with the development of the songs themselves? Which came first, the narrative frame or the music?

The music was recorded first; I penned the short story during the post-production. But the short story, and the extended play, are based on events that occurred prior to the composing and recording of the music. This goes back several years, partly due to difficulty composing and finding my direction; partly because For Farewell Of Nostalgia was recorded twice.

I had made several attempts to compose new material between October 2015 and February 2017 but my heart was not into it. The material lacked direction and substance. I began composing and recording better-developed demos in the spring of 2017 but I was forced to put that aside in order to finish compiling the boxed set An anthology Of Past Misfortunes. Once that was released in April 2018, I could go forward, without hindrance, composing and recording new music. From April to October 2018 I recorded For Farewell Of Nostalgia. But I was not happy with it. There were a number of things that I felt were wrong with the release. Some things were unacceptable, like crackling, distortion and humming in the recordings. I attempted to re-record a lot of it, only to find out that some of it was caused by my studio equipment. Just as I began fixing that problem, an uncontrollable fret buzz plagued the main guitar with which I was recording.

Some of the other problems that I had with the first version of For Farewell Of Nostalgia had to do with personal preferences. For example, I did not feel that the songs flowed well together; they each sounded too different. I also had difficulty mixing because I was using too many layered tracks and effects. These original recordings, which I later started referring to as pre-production versions, were a lot darker, harsher and abrasive, not only in sound but in nature; I had a different perspective and approach when I was recording them. It was a very difficult decision to make, because I had garnered record label interest, but I put the release aside, for what ended up being a whole year, while I regrouped.

Throughout the spring and summer of 2019, I upgraded my gear and studio equipment. In early October 2019 I started re-recording For Farewell Of Nostalgia; by mid-November I was done tracking. Minor mixing and editing lasted until late December while I wrote the short story. In early January, Carl Saff mastered the extended play. I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to work with him and it really made a big difference. I was impressed by his work with Castevet (CSTVT, the Chicago emo band) and he was the first person that I approached once I finished the recording in November 2019.

It was a well-contained recording session because this time around, I wanted the songs to sound like they belonged together and I knew where I was going. All of the songs were re-recorded in a consistent mind-frame and mood. It helped tremendously that the sequencing was already planned by this point. That allowed me to properly end and start each song in a way that it was complementary to each next piece. I was mindful of how editing one song may alter the others, which is not possible (or would require additional editing at a later time) if the sequencing is done during the mastering stage. The sequencing of the songs is really important when I approach a concept release.

I was very proud of the new version. The songs greatly improved the second time around, especially once I added textual guitar leads; the pre-production versions did not have leads. Nearly everything that appears on the released version of For Farewell Of Nostalgia was recorded during the 2019 session, with the exception of a couple of backing tracks on one song, which I kept from the 2018 session because I felt that the emotions were stronger on the original recording.

Something so personal is still somehow also vague – there aren’t lyrics or verses or choruses, etc. – but the story is expressed in emotional and evocative terms. How do you feel about putting something like this out and opening it up to the interpretations of others?

There are no vocals on this release but I consider the short story that accompanies For Farewell Of Nostalgia to be of equal value to lyrics. The extended song titles are, in-sort, the chapters to the short story. This is only available with the physical editions of the extended play however, because I felt that it should be read, like lyrics, in an old-fashioned setting: putting on a record, admiring the sleeve art and reading through every part of the concept while listening. It is an event; a presentation; an experience.

One of my ambitions with For Farewell Of Nostalgia was to present something different to the ambient community; to face them with a release that embarks an alternate pathway: a profound approach of focus. I do not want Vision Eternel to be diminished to background music while listeners perform other tasks. From the visual presentation of the cover art and deluxe packaging, to the conceptual delivery within the sequencing and production, the extended song titles and the short story, For Farewell Of Nostalgia was my way of documenting and sharing my most personal sentiments.

The short story, appropriately titled For Farewell Of Nostalgia, recounts events that inspired the extended play. It is a narrative of how I was emotionally devastated after falling in love too fast, and the aftermath of this heartbreak. Falling in love-at-first-sight, the intimacy of it all, and the stifling wound when the realization hits that it is not reciprocal. It is about learning to befriend absence and loneliness and living with constant sentiments of nostalgia and melancholia.

I do not want to appear closed-mouthed about the short story; it is simply that I do not want to give too much of it away. I very much want people to read it and interpret it for themselves. That is part of the experience.

Tell me about the artwork and the direction that ended up taking.

I absolutely adore the illustration that graces For Farewell Of Nostalgia’s cover. I feel that it is the first real artwork that I have had for Vision Eternel. On the first three releases (Seul Dans L’obsession, Un Automne En Solitude and An Anthology Of Past Misfortunes [the compilation, not the boxed set]), the artwork was simply my own photography. The photographs were not particularly good and I do not consider myself a photographer by any means. I liked the colours within but the subject matters were rather bland. You might say that this style is typical of ambient album artworks today, but at the time, they were simply used because I had no alternative… I wanted to handle every aspect of Vision Eternel myself, including the artwork, and that resulted with ordinary covert arts.

For Abondance De Périls and The Last Great Torch Song, my friend and former room-mate Marina Polak provided a photograph for the artwork. I had attempted to take photographs for Abondance De Périls myself but they were sub-par, even by the standards of my own photographic competence. Marina, who was a terrific photographer and studied art and photography at the university, offered to contribute one of her own. The moment that I saw the picture, I fell in love with it; it represented Vision Eternel perfectly. The photograph is credited to her name but she did not actually take the picture. She had found the negative in a garbage bin in the streets of Poland during one of her visits in the mid-2000s. From what I understand, the person who owns a photograph’s negative is the legal owner.

The artwork for Echoes From Forgotten Hearts was done on the rush by my friend Jeremy Roux. This one was more in line with the band’s early artworks: it was extremely bland and without direction. It was nondescript. It faded into the background next to other ambient albums on a web-page. But that is what I was going for at the time; it was what I asked Jeremy to come up with. He is actually a terrific graphic designer and he was responsible for all of the early visual material used by Abridged Pause Recordings and also designed Vision Eternel’s first logo in 2008.

The artwork from An Anthology Of Past Misfortunes (the boxed set) was on the opposite end of the spectrum: it was vivid and eye-catching. It was constructed partly from original abstract paintings by Rain Frances and partly from a cardinal bird craft art done by my late grand-mother Pierrette Bourdon. She was a craft artist and the bird artwork was actually her last piece of art before she passed away in 2012.

The approach to For Farewell Of Nostalgia’s artwork was completely different. It was very well planned out. When I re-recorded the extended play in 2019, I wanted to contain my mood and atmosphere so that the entire release would sound whole. That was very important for me and for a concept album; you do not want the songs to sound like they were recorded or mixed at different times. I brought out one of my favourite albums: Frank Sinatra’s In The Wee Small Hours. I put the vinyl sleeve next to my computer so that I would always have it there to inspire me. I also limited myself to solely watching Frank Sinatra’s films during those two months. He is an incredible actor and most people do not seem to remember (or know about) that aspect of his career. I am not a fan of his musicals (nor of the musical film genre as a whole), but his dramatic films are amongst my favourite films. When it came time to decide on the artwork, it seemed like an obvious choice; pay homage to Frank Sinatra’s In The Wee Small Hours. Tom Waits had done it with his second album The Heart Of Saturday Night, so I figured that I could too.

I then went to the extent of combining several photo shoots from over the years (some done with Jeremy Roux, others with Rain Frances) into an original collage mockup that represented Montreal and paid tribute to Frank Sinatra. It also took several new photo shoots until I was happy with my pose; I wanted the angle of my body and my facial expression to be just right. This was not a parody like a “Weird Al” Yankovic album cover (and I mean that respectfully); it was a legitimate homage to something that I felt had become part of me, that helped me get through so many of those lonely, depressed nights that led me to write and record this music.

It was also important for me to incorporate things into the artwork that represented me, that made it a little different from Frank Sinatra’s original, and that tied into the concept of the release. I smoke a pipe (and not cigarettes like Frank Sinatra did) so that was put into the image. Other details that perhaps only a hat fanatic may notice are the subtle differences in shape and style of my fedora. Frank Sinatra had a skinnier face so he wore narrow-brimmed hats; I have a round face so wide-brimmed hats suit me better. My hat also has a ribbon edge binding, while Frank Sinatra’s was a raw edge cut. I wore an overcoat and scarf for the photo shoot, while Frank Sinatra wore a suit and tie. Several Montreal landmarks were also put into the background: the Montreal Harbour Bridge, Windsor Station, the Saint Lawrence River, the Sailors’ Memorial Clock Tower on Victoria Pier. There were many more iconic Montreal structures that I originally wanted to include in the background but it became too busy, too removed from Frank Sinatra’s minimalist artwork. The background on my release is very descriptive; it clearly represents Montreal, whereas Frank Sinatra’s cover made him the sole focus with a nondescript street scene behind him.

It took a long time to find the right person to paint it. I finally landed on American illustrator Michael Koelsch because he had illustrated two cover artworks for The Criterion Collection. In 2000 he illustrated the DVD cover (later re-used for the Blu-ray edition) for The Blob; and in 2001 he illustrated the DVD cover for My Man Godfrey (this one was unfortunately not re-used for the Blu-ray edition). Pulp art design has made a considerable comeback in film posters and in paperbacks but it was really difficult finding someone who was able to work it into an album cover art. Luckily, Michael happened to be a big fan of Frank Sinatra and knew In The Wee Small Hours well, so he was able to incorporate the sadness of both albums (Frank Sinatra’s and Vision Eternel’s) into the new painting. He had also worked on several notable music album artworks during his career so he understood what I wanted and where I was coming from.

I then approached Rain Frances to paint two abstract paintings to use in the physical editions of the extended play. One of them, which happened to have already been painted in 2019, was used for the short story booklet. The other painting, which was painted especially for the release, was used on the bonus compact cassette Lost Misfortunes: A Selection Of Demos And Rarities (Part Two). Rain had painted the artwork for the first tape in that series (included in the An Anthology Of Past Misfortunes boxed set) so it made sense that I approach her for this sequel.

I was aiming for an eye-catching presentation with the artwork of For Farewell Of Nostalgia and I could not be happier with the results. I wanted it to represent who I am and how I see the world. I did not want people to look at my release and think “Hey, this looks like a nice peaceful album”, in the manner in which so many album covers remain descriptive of their genres. This is Vision Eternel’s first extended play to be released and distributed by established record labels (meaning not my own imprints), so it will be seen and heard by mostly newcomers to my music. I want these new listeners to be intrigued by it, and to approach it from a different perspective than they are used to.

Where do you go from here?

Over the years, I have slowed down my rate of releasing music considerably. I have always been a firm believer of quality over quantity; my approach to composing music for Vision Eternel has evolved in such a way that I could no longer rush out a new extended play each year.

On Vision Eternel’s first two extended plays, 2007’s Seul Dans L’obsession and 2008’s Un Automne En Solitude, the compositions and arrangements were minimalistic; short songs that sounded sad but remained hopeful. The production was also minimal and straightforward: very bright and focused on treble.

In 2009, I changed my setup while composing Abondance De Périls. The new setup helped provide a warmer, more accessible sound, which was emphasised, and greatly improved, during the mastering by Adam Kennedy. This was the first time that a Vision Eternel release was mastered. The same setup was used to compose and record the songs that ended up on The Last Great Torch Song.

Up until this point, the songs were still minimalistic but The Last Great Torch Song marked the beginning of a change. It welcomed several guest appearances by my close friends: Garry Brents on keyboard, Alexander Fawcett on guitar and bass and Howard Change and Eiman Iraninejad on vocals. I was unsure of Vision Eternel’s future at that point so I was treating The Last Great Torch Song as a potential swansong. I had hoped to incorporate many more guests on the release but many were not able to provide their contributions in time for the mastering deadline.

The Last Great Torch Song’s closer Sometimes In Absolute Togetherness was the real turning point. The song had originally been composed and recorded as a Soufferance song, but it always felt to me like it had far too much of Vision Eternel’s style to be a true Soufferance song. I was torn but I ultimately used it on a Vision Eternel release; that was my first of many steps letting go of the strict guidelines that I had set for Vision Eternel. Soufferance was much darker, more self-destructive; it had longer songs and experimented with more instruments and vocals. Vision Eternel by contrast was straight-forward guitar-based music; optimistic and hopeful (I always hoped that the girl would come back).

Things changed further with Echoes From Forgotten Hearts in 2014/2015 and that is because that release was not recorded, nor approached, as Vision Eternel. I had been contacted to compose the soundtrack to a short film. I therefore approached the songwriting as myself, without the restrictions that I normally placed to conform the music within what is expected of a certain band. It was a completely natural songwriting approach. When the short film fell through, I was unwilling to let this music be unheard because I was really proud of it. So I partly re-recorded, re-edited, re-mixed and re-conceptualized the soundtrack into an extended play. I released it under the Vision Eternel banner because that was the project closest to my heart and I felt that the music sounded most like Vision Eternel did at that point.

Having broken so many barriers along the way, and considering that Vision Eternel had become my principal band, I was now free to compose music that was entirely natural to me. I no longer felt the pressure to sort songs into what each band was supposed to sound like. Vision Eternel’s new material was simply going to incorporate the best of what I once brought to each of my ambient bands (Vision Eternel, Soufferance, Citadel Swamp and Éphémère).

But in a realistic sense, since Vision Eternel was always my pet project, the new material will not be alien in comparison to the older works; it is simply a natural progression, placing less restrictions on myself over the years. I still approach Vision Eternel compositions with the same emotions, the same themes; always about heartbreak. Hitchcock once said “self-plagiarism is style”, and I think that applies to Vision Eternel. But I am now incorporating additional elements, which are already familiar to folks accustomed with my other bands. From Soufferance, I brought in longer songs, the segues and movements, the lengthy emotional build ups and the hypnotic, repetitive codas (think of Swans in the mid-1990s). From Vision Lunar and Éphémère, I brought in guitar leads; that was something that I was not utilizing often in my ambient projects. And from Citadel Swamp, I brought in the way that I layer and mix several instruments together; finding ways of making leads flow over rhythm tracks.

The music took a long time to be polished and I spent nearly three years working and re-working the songs that ended up on For Farewell Of Nostalgia. With that in perspective, I plan to heavily promote this release for the next couple of years. I am also actively looking for a record label to release For Farewell Of Nostalgia on vinyl format with an exclusive bonus track.

I am also in discussion with Somewherecold Records about the possibility of re-releasing Vision Eternel’s 2015 soundtrack/extended play Echoes From Forgotten Hearts as a double-disc edition. It would feature a remastering of the extended play version as well as the never-released soundtrack version. There are several notable differences between the two versions.

Vision Eternel, For Farewell of Nostalgia (2020)

Vision Eternel website

Vision Eternel on Thee Facebooks

Vision Eternel on Instagram

Vision Eternel on Soundcloud

Vision Eternel on Spotify

Vision Eternel on Bandcamp

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Vision Eternel Set Sept. 14 Release for For Farewell of Nostalgia

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 15th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

It’s been a while in the making, but Vision Eternel‘s new EP, For Farewell of Nostalgia, has been slated for Sept. 14 release on CD, tape and DL. Somewherecold Records has the CD, Geertruida has the tape, and those two and Abridged Pause Recordings will all have a hand in the download. That’s covering a fair amount of ground, but of course, Vision Eternel do the same in terms of sound as well, the cinematic drone of the Montreal one-man outfit evocative of place and time as well as emotion/mood and atmosphere. I haven’t heard the new outing yet, so can’t comment on what it might hold sonically, but ambience is the stock and trade here, so expect some depths to dive into, nostalgic or not.

Details from the PR wire:

vision eternel for farewell of nostalgia

Vision Eternel’s For Farewell Of Nostalgia EP Scheduled For Release

For Farewell Of Nostalgia, Vision Eternel’s newest extended play, will be released on September 14th 2020. The release will come out on compact disc, compact cassette and digitally.

– The Compact Disc Edition will be released by Somewherecold Records and packaged in a four-panel eco-wallet, factory-numbered and limited to 100 copies. The CD will feature an exclusive bonus song, unavailable elsewhere, and a booklet with a short story written by Alexander Julien.

– The Compact Cassette Edition will be released by Geertruida and the coloured tapes will be packaged in a double-tape case with an over-sized booklet, factory-numbered and limited to 50 copies. The tape will feature an exclusive bonus song, unavailable elsewhere, and a booklet with a short story written by Alexander Julien. The Compact Cassette Edition will also bundle a second tape, titled Lost Misfortunes: A Selection Of Demos And Rarities (Part Two), containing twelve exclusive b-sides, demos and alternate takes, all unavailable elsewhere.

– The standard Digital Edition will be jointly released by Somewherecold Records, Geertruida and Abridged Pause Recordings. Anyone purchasing a physical edition from one of the three record labels will automatically receive a free digital edition.

For Farewell Of Nostalgia was mastered by Carl Saff at Saff Mastering. The cover art was painted by Michael Koelsch at Koelsch Studios, and the booklet art was painted by Rain Frances.

Vision Eternel is still looking for a record label to release For Farewell Of Nostalgia on vinyl, so get in touch!

https://www.visioneternel.com
https://facebook.com/visioneternel
https://instagram.com/visioneternel
https://soundcloud.com/visioneternel
https://play.spotify.com/artist/52WyoEAtuPS2QJ2qYOmb6u
https://visioneternel.bandcamp.com

Vision Éternel, Sixth EP Teaser

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Days of Rona: Marc Zolla of Pink Cocoon

Posted in Features on April 13th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

The statistics of COVID-19 change with every news cycle, and with growing numbers, stay-at-home isolation and a near-universal disruption to society on a global scale, it is ever more important to consider the human aspect of this coronavirus. Amid the sad surrealism of living through social distancing, quarantines and bans on gatherings of groups of any size, creative professionals — artists, musicians, promoters, club owners, techs, producers, and more — are seeing an effect like nothing witnessed in the last century, and as humanity as a whole deals with this calamity, some perspective on who, what, where, when and how we’re all getting through is a needed reminder of why we’re doing so in the first place.

Thus, Days of Rona, in some attempt to help document the state of things as they are now, both so help can be asked for and given where needed, and so that when this is over it can be remembered.

Thanks to all who participate. To read all the Days of Rona coverage, click here. — JJ Koczan

pink cocoon marc zolla

Days of Rona: Marc Zolla of Pink Cocoon (Montreal, Quebec)

How are you dealing with this crisis as a band? Have you had to rework plans at all? How is everyone’s health so far?

Pink Cocoon had to cancel the “Ridin’ Out West” Canada tour in April. Last remaining date (hopefully does not get cancelled) is May 8th at Casa Del Popolo in Montreal. The tour will be re-booked at a later date possible during the summer or fall 2020. A situation as such is unexpected for everyone and many bands/musicians have cancelled their upcoming tours.

We’re all healthy and doing good. My buddy Patrick Murphy (drummer live gigs) is working from home and my buddy Noah Amick (bassist live shows) in New York City is doing good.

I recently filmed a music video in NYC that will be released soon. If I waited another month to go down into USA, it would not have happened with current border restriction due to COVID-19. I’d say it was pretty lucky how this all turned out.

What are the quarantine/isolation rules where you are?

The police can give you a fine of 1000$ CDN or more if you’re found roaming the streets or gathering with two or more people in public. It is recommended to work from home. You should only be leaving house to go to grocery store, hospital, pharmaprix or for essential work/services.

I cannot visit my grandparents since the youth can carry the virus and put the elderly people at risk. Everyone has to practice social distancing (minimum two metres away from other people).

Government of Canada has announced an emergency benefit of 1800$/month for those who lost their jobs due to COVID-19 and haven’t already applied for Unemployment Insurance.

Honestly, everything feels very surreal.

“It’s like the Black Plague with wifi” (some post I saw on Facebook).

How have you seen the virus affecting the community around you and in music?

A lot of people in public whether at grocery stores or drive thrus seem stressed out and on the edge. There is security at every grocery store and pharmaprix with a zone to wash your hands/sanitize before going into the facility. Shopping centres are closed down. All bars, venues, theatres are closed down temporarily. Many people are saying this will continue until May 2020, although I have a feeling it might stretch out till June. Our premier of Quebec Francois Legault announced Montreal as local state of emergency. The province is reporting 2,021 confirmed cases, with 141 people in hospital, including 50 people in intensive care [as of March 30]. The numbers are escalating every day.

What is the one thing you want people to know about your situation, either as a band, or personally, or anything?

Pink Cocoon will keep on going. The Canada tour is cancelled, although I started a quarantine cover video series on Facebook, Youtube, IG TV to entertain everyone stuck at home. It’s the minimum I can do since I can’t play a live show in person for the fans. New music is planned to be released soon.

I want everyone to take precaution when leaving your house during this time. It is serious and should not be treated as joke. Even if you’re not sick, you can put someone else at risk. There is a lot of videos online of the situation in various countries in public spaces, hospitals, etc… I won’t post them here but it’s getting real and dangerous.

To all of the musician/artist friends out there, solitude is the best place for an artist to create. You can use this to advantage to create.

Thx
-MarcZ.

www.facebook.com/pinkcocoonband/
www.instagram.com/pinkcocoonband/
www.pinkcocoon.bandcamp.com/
www.pinkcocoonband.com/

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The Hazytones Premiere “The Hand that Feeds” Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on February 6th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

the hazytones

Just as the skeletal hand grabs the giant floating joint and the bigger riff kicks in and the nuclear bomb goes off, that’s probably when the new video from Montreal four-piece The Hazytones most gets its message across. The song “The Hand that Feeds” is taken from 2018’s II: Monarchs of Oblivion (review here) on Ripple Music and is a fitting showcase of the band’s druggy garage doom style, thicker in its riffing than some and not as lumbering as others, but able to go where it wants when it, you know, decides it’s time to move. But maybe it’ll just kind of sit around for a while instead, man. Anyway, what’s your rush?

Shenanigans ensue in the video, and hey, that’s awesome. I’m a big fan of shenanigans, and stonerly charm as presented in things like dimensional portals, skeletons, green-screen desert backgrounds, nuclear bombs and giant floating doobers is nearly always welcome as far as I’m concerned, but it doesn’t manage to outshine the hook of “The Hand that Feeds” itself, and the ability to write songs so catchy is one of The Hazytones‘ most powerful assets. They’ve been through some lineup changes along the way around guitarist/vocalist Mick Martel, but as they look to embark on a tour of Europe that includes an already-announced stop at Desertfest London — it’ll be their first time in the UK — that’s no doubt an experience that will only serve to further hone what they do in terms of style and structure.

Those dates are forthcoming, but y0u can see the premiere of “The Hand that Feeds” on the player below, followed by some more background from the PR wire, and the Bandcamp stream of the album just for the hell of it.

Please enjoy:

The Hazytones, “The Hand that Feeds” official video premiere

Ripple protégés THE HAZYTONES (psychedelic rock / MTL) deliver their trip-inducing new video “The Hand That Feeds.” The song is taken from their latest 2018 album ‘Monarchs of Oblivion’.

Formed in 2015, The Hazytones’ shadowy sound is the epitome of a “hazy tone”. The band’s black acid-drenched shock rock drips with harmonies that harken back to the trippiest of late 60’s psych and its chained-to-the brain hooks bleed with a palpable, eerie energy that surges and swings in equal measure. Live is where the band really finds its swagger, flinging themselves around the stage and converting new disciples with each and every performance. With full European and North American tours already under their belts, The Hazytones are a developing band on the rise, who delivered a sweeping salvo with the release of their substantial sophomore LP, II: Monarchs of Oblivion.

The band will announce their European tour very soon!

The Hazytones are:
Mick Martel
Gabriel Prieur
Ben Dennis
John Choffel

The Hazytones, II: Monarchs of Oblivion (2018)

The Hazytones on Thee Facebooks

The Hazytones on Instagram

The Hazytones on Bandcamp

Ripple Music on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music on Bandcamp

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