Review: Various Artists, Live in the Mojave Desert, Vols. 1-5

Posted in Reviews on April 13th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

live in the mojave desert 1-5

Late in 2020, when the project was announced, Live in the Mojave Desert sounded immediately ambitious. A series of five exclusive streams, taking bands and putting them out in the Californian deserts, with civilization somewhat visible from the aerial drone shots, but definitely far enough away to have been left behind, to record live sets by Giant Rock (see also: Yawning Man, Live at Giant Rock, the video/LP something of a precursor) and be captured doing so by professional audio and video. The series was successfully pulled off, which was impressive in itself, and it set a standard for heavy acts in this era of streaming that few could hope to match. The intention was concert-film, and the results were likewise.

Heavy Psych Sounds and the newly-formed Giant Rock Records — helmed by series director Ryan Jones — have overseen physical pressings of the sets as live albums, taking the audio caught by Dan Joeright of Gatos Trail Studio in Joshua Tree with mixing by Matt Lynch at Mysterious Mammal and others. From this comes Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 1-5, and from the moment Isaiah Mitchell starts echoing out the notes that signal the pickup in “Violence of the Red Sea” to the final wah-out, crashes and shout of Mountain Tamer‘s “Living in Vain,” it remains clear the series is something special — a grand monument built to an ugly time.

A rundown:

Earthless, Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 1

earthless live in the mojave desert
(stream review here)

The crazy thing about this series — or one of the crazy things, anyhow — is that if it had been just Earthless, that probably would’ve been enough to be staggering. Admittedly, it is difficult to hear the audio from bassist Mike Eginton, drummer Mario Rubalcaba and the aforementioned Isaiah Mitchell and not think of the desert at night being lit up by the Mad Alchemy Liquid Light Show, drones flying overhead as trippy lights flash and shift with the music, but I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. Earthless played three songs — “Violence of the Red Sea,” “Sonic Prayer” and “Lost in the Cold Sun” — and that’s enough to make their release the only 2LP of the Live in the Mojave Desert set, topping out at about 77 minutes, with the entirety of sides C and D dedicated to “Lost in the Cold Sun”‘s 39-minute sprawl.

There’s a reason Earthless were the headliners for this thing, and it’s because there’s no one else who has the same instrumental dynamic they bring to the stage — or sand, as it were — and because if you’re going for “epic” as a standard, they’re the band you call. Will Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 1 replace Live at Roadburn 2008 (discussed here) as the band’s supreme live-recorded statement? I don’t know, but it sure sounds incredible. “Sonic Prayer” comes through with due sense of worship and “Lost in the Cold Sun” fuzzy grace feels like the kind of thing a future generation might think of as classic rock. Watching, it was easy to get lost in the show, follow the head-spinning turns of guitar atop the ultra-sure foundation of bass and drums, and listening, it’s the same. With an exquisite mix and a vital performance, it’s every bit the best-case-scenario for what Live in the Mojave Desert could and should be.

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Nebula, Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 2

nebula live in the mojave desert
(stream review here)

With Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 2, I consider Nebula‘s comeback complete. The band reformed in 2017, hit the road hard, and in 2019 offered up the return studio full-length, Holy Shit! (review here), and toured again for as long as that option was available. They have new material in the works too, and what’s most striking about the trio’s performance the 10-song/48-minute set here is how characteristic it sounds. Drummer Mike Amster (also Mondo Generator, etc.) and bassist Tom Davies strap the listener down while founding guitarist/vocalist Eddie Glass takes off to the center of the universe, and amid classics like that opener, Holy Shit! cuts like “Messiah,” “Let’s Get Lost,” “Man’s Best Friend” and the new song “Wall of Confusion” fit right in. There’s never a doubt, never a question of who you’re hearing. Even the sloppiest moments are pure Nebula.

That’s what they’ve always been — part punk, part heavy psych, part pure go — and Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 2 brings that to bear without question. As a follow-up to Holy Shit! as well as the band’s second sanctioned live recording behind 2008’s Peel Session, it captures their inimitable sonic persona and the sense of chaos that their material always seems to carry, like it’s all about to come apart at any second and if it did, fuck it anyway, you’re the one with the problem. It never does come apart here, which I guess is to the band’s credit as well, but this set is nonetheless a full expression of who Nebula are as a group. Now get to work on that next record.

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Spirit Mother, Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 3

spirit mother live in the mojave desert

(stream review here)

If one might think of including Spirit Mother in the series as a risk, the risk was mild at best, and as the first of two bands representing a next generation of California’s heavy underground, the Long Beach troupe more than acquitted themselves well in their relatively brief 10-song/33-minute showing. Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 3 basks in the violin-conjured atmospheres of the four-piece’s debut album, Cadets (review here), and wants nothing for impact to complement that ethereal sensibility. Their songs are short, and that gives them a kind of proto-grunge edge, and the vocals of bassist Armand Lance, who shares those duties with violinist SJ, add drug-punkish urgency to the procession of one song into the next.

For a band coming off their first album, they are intricate in aesthetic in ways that might surprise new listeners, and that’s exactly why they feature behind Nebula in this series. Hearing them dig into “Black Sheep” and “Martyrs” and “Dead Cells” on Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 3 is the best argument I can think of in favor of signing the band for their next studio release, and if Heavy Psych Sounds doesn’t, someone else surely will. Not trying to tell anyone their business, of course, but Spirit Mother are happening one way or another. That combination of air, earth, and fuzz is too good to leave out.

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Stöner, Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 4

Stöner live in the mojave desert

(stream review here)

Aired fifth but billed almost inevitably as Vol. 4, the unveiling of Stöner, the new trio from Brant Bjork and Nick Oliveri with Ryan Gut (also of the former’s solo band) on drums was a bonus to the Live in the Mojave Desert. On-again-off-again collaborators across decades, Bjork and Oliveri nestled into mostly laid-back, stripped down grooves, their stated purpose in going back to the roots of the sound they helped create in the first place. The Kyuss-ness of the central riff of opener “Rad Stays Rad” is no less demonstration of their having done so than the driving punk of the Oliveri-fronted “Evel Never Dies.” The vibe is nostalgic in that song, as well as “Rad Stays Rad,” the gleefully funked “Stand Down,” and “The Older Kids,” but if Stöner is about looking back at this point, they’re doing so with fresh eyes.

To wit, “Own Yer Blues,” “Nothin’,” and the 13-minute mint-jam finale “Tribe/Fly Girl” are more endemic of who these players have become than who they were in the early ’90s or before, and that applies to “Stand Down” too. Bjork‘s vocals sound double-tracked on some of the parts (or at least close delay), but he and Oliveri work well together as one would expect, and as a reveal for what these guys had come up with in renewing their collaboration, Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 4 offers seven memorable songs that would make anything more seem unnecessarily fancied up. If their calling card is that rad stays rad, they prove it. And I know he’s not the top bill in the trio with Bjork‘s flow and Oliveri‘s bass tone, but Gut‘s contributions here aren’t to be understated.

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Mountain Tamer, Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 5

mountain tamer live in the mojave desert

(stream review here)

Second only to Stöner in curiosity factor, L.A. trio Mountain Tamer have always held a darker edge in their sound, and that comes through in the brash 36 minutes, shouts and screams echoing out over fuzzed garage metal in a fuckall that’s punk in attitude but angrier in its underlying core. Guitarist/vocalist Andrew Hall, bassist Dave Teget and drummer Casey Garcia are the kind of band who open the show and sell the most merch when they’re done. The elements they’re working with are familiar and have been all along in their decade together and across their three LPs — the latest of them, 2020’s Psychosis Ritual (review here), was released by Heavy Psych Sounds — but more even than in their studio work, Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 5 brought to light just how much their own their sound really is.

Whether languid as in “Chained” or “Black Noise” or furious as in “Warlock” and “Living in Vain,” Mountain Tamer give Nebula a run for their money in terms of chaos, and easily make for the most pissed off listen of the bunch in Live in the Mojave Desert. The relative roughness of their edge suits them, however, and the rampant echo on the guitar assures there’s still a spacious sound to act as counterbalance to all that thrashing and gnashing. If you can call it balance, I don’t know, but it works for them and they wield their sound as knife more than bludgeon when it comes to it.

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Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 1-5 teaser

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Live Stream Review: Mountain Tamer, Live in the Mojave Desert

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

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I’ve never been so fortunate as to see Los Angeles trio Mountain Tamer live, and for the better part of the last six years — through their MTN TMR demo (review here), their signing to Argonauta for their 2016 self-titled debut LP (review here), the jump to Nasoni and Magnetic Eye for the follow-up, 2018’s Godfortune//Dark Matters (review here), and most recently, a shift to Heavy Psych Sounds for 2020’s Psychosis Ritual (review here), as well as various singles along the way — I’ve been trying to reconcile the sinister edge in their sound. Just what it is that makes Mountain Tamer who they are as a band.

Because they’ve always been individual. I don’t think you get to notch so many impressive labels under your belt — three records, four imprints — unless there’s something unique about you, especially as a young group. After watching their ‘Live in the Mojave Desert’ stream on a sunny Saturday afternoon, as well as their ‘Couchlock and Rock’ interview segment with ‘Mojave’ showrunner Ryan Jones as guitarist/vocalist Andrew Hall and drummer Casey Garcia recounted tour stories of watching a naked man on PCP be brought down by police and firefighters at six in the morning in Oklahoma, I feel like I have a little better understanding of where they’re coming from.

Angry psych. Hall noted it in his interview as well, that he was having a rough time seeing his pedal board while they played — the word “challenge” was used multiple times, which took as diplomacy-speak for “fucking pain in the ass” — but that seems only to have fueled in their performance what was already in the songs the entire time. They’re pissed. There’s a lot of psychedelia out there today, but not a lot of it is legit angry. There’s political commentary, there’s party-psych, mellow-peaceful-groovy psych, space rock, all that stuff. Mountain Tamer have found a way to hone inner disaffection into a lysergic rager in a way that no one else I’ve heard does.

It comes through on their records, and listening back to Psychosis Ritual, it’s there for sure, but the rawness of their form was front and center for the ‘Live in the Mojave Desert’ stream. As they have been for the entire series, sound and production level were both top notch, and where their trippy garage noise metal might otherwise have been eaten by the expanse of Joshua Tree National Park, Hall, Garcia and bassist Dave Teget came through sounding full, mad, and purposeful. It’s not that their psych is a bummer, but if you get it drunk enough it might break something.

mountain tamer

Teget, who was the only member absent from the interview as Jones led a taste-test of Mountain Tamer‘s new pineapple and cactus fruit hot sauce — impressively, they grew their own peppers — plays like a headbanger, and headbangs while he plays. Watching him tear into Psychosis Ritual cuts like set-opener “Warlock” and “Turoc Maximus Antonis,” I was reminded of Scott Reeder in old Kyuss videos: hair in front of face, stomping around like at any moment he might just stumble down, some straight-out circle headbangs in Teget‘s case. It was not laid back. It was not serene. It was animalia, suited to the wilder surroundings of not-a-venue as he kicked up sand along the way. Through performances by Earthless (review here), Nebula (review here) and Spirit Mother (review here), he has been the most physical player yet shown in ‘Live in the Mojave Desert’ series. If this were a high school yearbook, he’d easily walk away with Most Likely to Spill Beer on Stage. I mean that as a compliment.

Only the title-track of Psychosis Ritual wasn’t played, and the three-piece brought out “Funeral of a Dog” and the downer-boogie “Living in Vain Pt. II” to close, the former finding Hall breaking out a maraca before tossing it into the sand and hitting into the next riff. “Chained” and “Scorched Earth” might’ve been the most resolutely pissed off they got, but that edge was right there from “Warlock,” and even as things smoothed out, “Death in the Woods” and “Black Noise” made sure their grungy aggro-spaciousness was given its fair shake. Kudos go to Garcia on the subtle class of his play and his ability to pull together the guitar spreading out in one direction and the bass digging in in another; these fascinating, sometimes conflicting impulses in the band’s sound.

Conspicuously absent was Mad Alchemy. The famed psychedelic lightshow purveyor has been on board for at least part of each stream to-date, but Mountain Tamer played the entirety of their set by sunlight, so I guess that was that. Kind of hard to light up the desert when you’re competing with a literal star. Fair enough. The 36-minute set will nonetheless make for a killer live record (not that I’ve heard it, but yeah, I have; don’t tell anybody), to be delivered in the US by ‘Live in the Mojave Desert’ itself and in Europe by Heavy Psych Sounds. If they haven’t yet, Mountain Tamer should consider doing their next LP completely live in the studio. If ever there was a heavy psych band tailor-made for Steve Albini, here they are.

‘Live in the Mojave Desert’ is slated to continue in two weeks with Stöner, the anticipated new collaboration between Brant Bjork and Nick Oliveri. Worth noting that Mountain Tamer were ‘Vol. 5’ in the series and Stöner ‘Vol. 4,’ but if we’re running out of order, my only response is a shrug. Jones and his company of humans and drones have proven at this point they can put on a show. I’m happy to tune in, whatever number we’re on.

Mountain Tamer, “Living in Vain Pt. II” from ‘Live in the Mojave Desert’

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The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal Playlist: Episode 54

Posted in Radio on March 5th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

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Back to normal, such as it is, for The Obelisk Show. I did two songs in two hours last time and though it seemed to go over decently well in the chat, it was less welcomed by the station itself. Fair. I’ll readily admit that two hours of psychedelic improv is not going to be everybody’s cup of tea, even in a setting that supports extreme fare as a central ethic. I’m lucky they decided to air it. I’m lucky they let me do another episode.

In here you’ll find some more rocky stuff like Greenleaf and Formula 400. I’ve yet to really dig into the new Domkraft, so I wanted to give that a roll, and then the show gets into some heavier industrial stuff. Godflesh were talked about here last week, and Trace Amount, but some Sanford Parker and Author & Punisher too. I’ve had an itch lately that stuff has helped scratch. After that and Yawning Sons is my little homage to the Live in the Mojave Desert stream series. Mountain Tamer are on that this weekend and it’s well worth your time to search out. Of course, Earthless started that series so they’ll end the show here. Only fitting.

Thanks for listening and/or reading.

The Obelisk Show airs 5PM Eastern today on the Gimme app or at http://gimmemetal.com

Full playlist:

The Obelisk Show – 03.05.21

Greenleaf Love Undone Echoes From a Mass
Genghis Tron Ritual Circle Dream Weapon
Sunnata A Million Lives Burning in Heaven, Melting on Earth
VT
Sonic Demon Black Smoke Vendetta
Formula 400 Messenger Heathens
Domkraft Dawn of Man Seeds
Kauan Raivo Ice Fleet
VT
Godflesh Avalanche Master Song Godflesh
Author & Punisher Ode to Bedlam Beastland
Trace Amount ft. Body Stuff Concrete Catacomb Concrete Catacomb
Sanford Parker Knuckle Crossing Lash Back
VT
Yawning Sons Cigarette Footsteps Sky Island
Spirit Mother Space Cadets Cadets
Nebula Let’s Get Lost Holy Shit
Mountain Tamer Black Noise Psychosis Ritual
Brant Bjork Stardust & Diamond Eyes Brant Bjork
VT
Earthless Violence of the Red Sea From the Ages

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal airs every Friday 5PM Eastern, with replays Sunday at 7PM Eastern. Next new episode is March 19 (subject to change). Thanks for listening if you do.

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The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal Playlist: Episode 50

Posted in Radio on January 8th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

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Hey, look who’s got 50 episodes of his silly little show? Crazy, right? I’ll be honest, I was genuinely surprised when it lasted five. I expected and still kind of expect to get an email or a phone call from Program Director Brian Turner (also of WFMU fame; remind me to tell you sometime how badly I continue to dream of DJing on that station) or CEO Tyler Lenane saying, “Yeah, sorry but this just isn’t working for us.” I wouldn’t even be able to blame them. I play some pretty weird, not-at-all-metal shit for a station that nowadays calls itself Gimme Metal instead of Gimme Radio.

It goes without saying but I’ll say it anyway how deeply I appreciate Gimme giving me the outlet that the show has become. Heartfelt thanks to Lenane and Turner and to the regular crew of listeners who check in via the Gimme chat during the show. I know not everybody’s into everything that gets played (I mean, except me, ha) but the openness and willingness to try new things is humbling.

This stuff was all culled from the recent Quarterly Review. As I explain in the lone voice break, doing the show is enough celebration for me, so that’s how I wanted to mark 50 episodes.

Thanks for listening and/or reading. New art (still) coming soon.

The Obelisk Show airs 5PM Eastern today on the Gimme app or at http://gimmemetal.com

Full playlist:

The Obelisk Show – 01.08.20

Emma Ruth Rundle & Thou Killing Floor May Our Chambers Be Full
Spaceslug From Behind the Glass Leftovers
Crippled Black Phoenix House of Fools Ellengaest
Malsten Compunction The Haunting of Silvåkra Mill
VT
Domo Dolmen Domonautas Vol. 2
Howling Giant Masamune Masamune/Muramasa (Split)
Mountain Tamer Warlock Psychosis Ritual
Temple of the Fuzz Witch The Others Red Tide
Sumokem Parak-Dar Prajnaparadha
Völur Reverend Queen Death Cult
16 Sadlands Dream Squasher
Khan Monsoons Monsoons

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal airs every Friday 5PM Eastern, with replays Sunday at 7PM Eastern. Next new episode is Jan. 22 (subject to change). Thanks for listening if you do.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Saavik, Saavik

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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.

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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.

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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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California Desert Wizards Association Launches CDWA Records & Announce Live in the Mojave Desert Series

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 13th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

The California Desert Wizards Association, in case you’re unfamiliar, are the good souls behind putting together the Stoned and Dusted festival, desert heavy loyalists through and through. This makes the launch of CDWA Records only good news. And kudos to the nascent imprint for doing it in style and announcing not only a first release, but a series of five live albums and videos — LP, CD, DVD — all slated to have online premieres in the early-going of 2021.

The lineup for Live in the Mojave Desert Vols. 1-5 is a powerhouse assemblage of legends and upstarts. Led off by Earthless and Nebula, before dipping into the heavy psych-gaze of Spirit Mother (whose March 2020 offering, Cadets, has been undeservedly lost in the plague shuffle of this year but is a gem nonetheless) and the inexplicable dark forces of Mountain Tamer before unveiling a new Brant Bjork/Nick Oliveri collaboration in Stoner.

Cheers to Ryan Jones of the CDWA on the ambitious kickoff for the new project, and here’s looking forward to hearing this stuff and seeing the videos with Mad Alchemy and the bands. Killer.

Details follow, courtesy of Jones via the PR wire:

cdwa records logo

CDWA Announces Live in the Mojave Desert Livesteam Series

Well, well, well, have we got some big news for you California Desert Wizards. We at the CDWA have been busy! I’m very proud to announce the formation of CDWA Records; created to film, record and bring you concert films and live albums from your favorite stoner and desert rock bands made entirely in the far flung parts of the desert. Coming in Winter 2021, we bring you the first in our concert film series:

LIVE IN THE MOJAVE DESERT VOLS. 1 – 5

5 New Concert Films + 5 New Albums

Filmed and Recorded Live in the Mojave Desert, California

EARTHLESS
NEBULA
SPIRIT MOTHER
MOUNTAIN TAMER and
STONER A heavy new project from BRANT BJORK + RYAN GUT + NICK OLIVERI
With the MAD ALCHEMY LIQUID LIGHT SHOW lighting up the desert!!

Our 2020 Stoned and Dusted party got canceled by Covid. We had to do something rad for all you rockers who bought airfare, booked hotels, bought tickets to the show and then had to get it all refunded, what we call “no-fun”ded. So we filmed Yawning Man at Giant Rock. We filmed Brant Bjork among the Joshua trees at sunset. And in May 2020 we brought you Couchlock and Rock: an online, hosted, break-out-the-bong, concert film watch party. We loved it. We wanted more. So we made more.

In October 2020 we filmed and recorded five bands in four days, deep in the deep sand and iconic rocks of the desert. It was pretty wild getting all of our gear out there. But we did it and it was waaaaay worth it!
24 track Pro Tools recordings
“All the sounds blew my mind”!
The Mad Alchemy Liquid Light Show projecting on a 4 story high, double pyramid of boulders and a crack squad of badass filmmakers and photographers there to capture it
“All the colors made me blind!”
Holy shit are you in for a treat!!

Coming just in time for a cold, quarantined winter, we will live host five concert film premiers online and release the five albums coming out on vinyl. At the end of November, tickets and albums will go on sale so you Desert Wizards can watch together online, rock out, chat, joke and smoke. We can’t wait to share it with you!

Start drying your fall harvest so it’s ready in time. Check out the video below, and (puff, puff) pass it on to your friends.

Cheers and thanks and stay healthy,
Ryan

http://www.CaliforniaDesertWizardsAssociation.com
https://instagram.com/CDWAOfficial
https://www.facebook.com/StonedandDusted

California Desert Wizards Association Records, Live in the Mojave Desert Vols. 1-5 teaser

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Mountain Tamer Stream “Warlock”; Psychosis Ritual Preorder Available

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 26th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

There’s been a menacing undercurrent to Mountain Tamer‘s take on psychedelia since their inception, and it would appear that the forthcoming Psychosis Ritual will continue that thread at least in some measure. The Los Angeles trio have newly unveiled “Warlock,” track two of the seven-cut release, and the song brims with freak-punk intensity, churning riffs around wide-spaced echoes that seem to radiate ill intent, not in that hey-let’s-go-kill-ladies kind of way, but definitely in some fashion that’s up to no good. And that likes being up to no good.

Dark magic, and whatnot. I said last week when the band got signed that they’d probably have a track up to go with preorders. Look at me, seeing patterns.

Preorders for Psychosis Ritual are open and available through Heavy Psych Sounds, and the album has been confirmed for a Sept. 25 release date, which also happens to be my wedding anniversary. Guess it’s a Friday this year. In 2004, it was a Saturday.

Album cover and details came down the PR wire:

mountain tamer psychosis ritual

Heavy Psych Sounds to announce MOUNTAIN TAMER brand new album PSYCHOSIS RITUAL – presale starts TODAY!!!

Today we are extremely proud to start the presale of the MOUNTAIN TAMER brand new album PSYCHOSIS RITUAL !!!

Psychosis Ritual is the sum of Mountain Tamer’s first decade of exploration into the psychedelic arts. The album takes the band on a journey through the occult rhythms and tones of worlds forgotten. Each track is a new chapter of Mountain Tamer riffing their way into uncharted territory. For this ritual, you are the sacrifice…

Mountain Tamer is Andru Hall (Guitar/Vocals), Casey Garcia (Drums), and David Teget (Bass). Psychosis Ritual was recorded and mixed by Salem’s Bend guitarist Robert Parker, with mastering by Mike Tarsia at Sigma Sounds Studios. This recording is the most cohesive and lucid experience Mountain Tamer has yet to offer.

The album artwork by photographer Dillon Vaughn and tattoo artist Derek Pratt only adds to the singular vision of Psychosis Ritual by providing beautifully lysergic visuals that are inseparable from the music itself.

ALBUM PRESALE:
https://www.heavypsychsounds.com/shop.htm#HPS137

USA PRESALE via Forced Exposure (link available soon):
https://www.forcedexposure.com/SearchResult.html?SearchType=Basic&Type=artist&Key=mountain%20tamer

RELEASE DATE: SEPTEMBER 25th

RELEASED IN :
– 20 ULTRA LTD TEST PRESS VINYL
– 150 ULTRA LTD HALF HALF – ORANGE/GREEN VINYL
– 450 LTD BLUE VINYL
– BLACK VINYL
– DIGIPAK
– DIGITAL

TRACKLIST:
1. Psychosis Ritual
2. Warlock
3. Turoc Maximus Antonis
4. Scorched Earth
5. Death In The Woods
6. Chained
7. Black Noise

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Mountain Tamer Sign to Heavy Psych Sounds; Psychosis Ritual Coming Soon

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 18th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

For those in the States, I know a good portion of Heavy Psych Sounds‘ distribution was formerly handled through the All That is Heavy store. How that whole situation has shaken or will shake out, I don’t know, but it seems to have gotten ugly from my limited, reading-posts-on-social-media-based understanding. Nonetheless, the Italian imprint which by now is one of the world’s foremost purveyors of quality heavy pressed forward, and Los Angeles upstarts Mountain Tamer are a choice snag. The band issued their “Death in the Woods” single (posted here) last year to coincide with a tour that also followed the arrival of their second album, Godfortune//Dark Matters (review here), which came out in 2018 through Nasoni and Magnetic Eye.

There isn’t an exact release date given for Psychosis Ritual, which will be Mountain Tamer‘s debut for Heavy Psych Sounds, but preorders start on June 24 and I’d expect more info, artwork and maybe even a song premiere around then as well.

Until next week, then:

mountain tamer

Heavy Psych Sounds to announce a new band signing: US heavy rockers MOUNTAIN TAMER!!!

We are so stoked to welcome in our roster a brand new band.

Ladies and gentlemen please welcome the Los Angeles based heavy rockers MOUNTAIN TAMER !!!

The band will release their brand new album Psychosis Ritual via Heavy Psych Sounds.

ALBUM PRESALE STARTS JUNE 24th

SAYS THE BAND:

For Psychosis Ritual, we really wanted to work with a label that could bring our music to a new audience and make our long time fans proud. To sign with a label that has done so much for rock n roll and worked with legendary artists has been a dream come true!

BIOGRAPHY

Mountain Tamer takes the expansive vision of pure psychedelia and pares it down through the brooding and focused lens of doom and stoner rock. Guitarist/vocalist Andrew Hall, drummer Casey Garcia and bassist Dave Teget, formed their signature fusion of heavy psych rock in 2011 just outside of San Francisco. Now based in Los Angeles, Mountain Tamer’s cult following is built on their DIY ethics, inimitable songwriting, and in your face live performances. After self-releasing several demos, the band released their s/t debut album in 2016 on Argonauta Records.

Mountain Tamer toured heavily following the release, playing with notable acts along the way such as Fatso Jetson, Weedeater and Dead Meadow. In 2018, Mountain Tamer teamed with Magnetic Eye and Nasoni Records to release their sophomore album, Godfortune// Dark Matters to critical acclaim for its unique approach and genre bending aesthetics. The band rode this success to a full US tour and appearances at SXSW in 2019. The band quickly followed up with a taste of their upcoming album, Psychosis Ritual, with their single, Death in the Woods. Although only a teaser of their next work, it has quickly become a fan favorite.

MOUNTAIN TAMER is:

Andrew Hall – Guitar/Vocals
Casey Garcia – Drums
Dave Teget – Bass

https://www.facebook.com/MTNTMR/
https://www.instagram.com/mtntmr/
https://mtntmr.bandcamp.com/
heavypsychsoundsrecords.bandcamp.com
www.heavypsychsounds.com
https://www.facebook.com/HEAVYPSYCHSOUNDS/

Mountain Tamer, “Death in the Woods”

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