Review & Track Premiere: Colour Haze, We Are

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on December 3rd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

colour haze we are

[Click play above to stream the title-track of Colour Haze’s new album, We Are. Digital release is this week through Elektrohasch, followed by CDs next week and LPs in January.]

It is no small thing for a band to change its construction after about 20 years of working with the same lineup, but as they cap their 25th anniversary celebration in 2019 with the release of the new album, We Are (formerly titled Life), that is precisely what Munich’s Colour Haze have done. The godfathers of European heavy psychedelia have operated since 1998 as the core trio of guitarist/vocalist Stefan Koglek, bassist Philipp Rasthofer and drummer Manfred Merwald, but with 2017’s In Her Garden (review here), they began to experiment more with adding flourish of organ and various synth from Jan Faszbender, and since then, Faszbender has become a part of a new four-piece incarnation of Colour Haze.

On the seven-track/45-minute We Are, which is released as ever through Koglek‘s Elektrohasch Schallplatten imprint and opens its first side at a rush with its quick-boogie title-track, they continue to experiment and drive themselves forward in that integration, with Faszbender moving between playing off the energy of Merwald‘s drumming, running along with Koglek‘s guitar in the graceful instrumental sweep in the second half of “Life,” and generally filling out the melodic and rhythmic foundations of the material while offering a few standout moments of his own, such as the organ laying the bed for the soaring vocals — and I mean “soaring”; there are some pointedly operatic guest vocals going on there too — of the album apex “Be with Me.” The change, in other words, suits Colour Haze. Their studio arrangements have been branching out since well before 2012’s She Said (review here) brought in strings and horns and 2014’s To the Highest Gods We Know (review here) answered back and built on those impulses, but from where the branching out is happening has changed, and their sound is that much richer for having Faszbender in the lineup on a hopefully ongoing basis.

Of course, signature elements remain. Rasthofer‘s bass is still of singular tonal warmth and execution, and Merwald‘s drumming makes progressive and jazzy changes no less fluid than the bassist’s runs from one fret to the next. Koglek is still an explorer, and while longtime followers of Colour Haze will recognize snippets like a push-off from the central riff of “Aquamaria” from 2006’s Tempel (discussed here) in “I’m with You” on side B, there’s also the four-and-a-half-minute centerpiece “Material Drive” to contend with, led as it is by acoustic guitar with Koglek in the RichieHavens-at-Woodstock role as the rest of the band gradually joins in behind, Faszbender in particular making the song that much more of a high point of We Are with a two-handed approach of organ and synth running concurrently while the bass fills out the mix. And I don’t know if that’s flute — which has been used on Colour Haze records before — or flute Mellotron, but anytime they want to do a record of semi-acoustic acid folk protest songs, I’m ready for it.

colour haze (Photo by JJ Koczan)

That’s not to take away from the running jam of closer “Freude III” or the earlier one-into-the-next-like-the-phrase-it-spells-out “We Are,” “The Real” and “Life” on side A or even the two-part side B complement in “I’m With You” / “Be With Me,” I’m just saying the arrangement of “Material Drive” works well. Really the same applies across the board on We Are, and the band are careful to acknowledge the role of the mix in their presentation of the material, balancing guitar and keys well even just as “The Real” takes off after the initial hooky shuffle of “We Are” itself starts the record at a rush, setting the tone in a way for what’s to come on an almost subconscious level for the listener. In some ways it’s less pointedly prog than was the prevailing spirit of In Her Garden, which ran 72 minutes and was a 2LP of marked immersiveness, but as the band’s 13th long-player, We Are confirms that even in their relatively new four-piece incarnation, Colour Haze‘s focus remains on an organic feel and delivering the most natural sound possible.

Some spoken lines from Koglek and his voice following note for note with his subsequent guitar lead are the only vocals on “The Real,” but as both that and the peaceful-build-int0-fervent-thrust of “Life” top eight and a half minutes, it’s early on that the band captures the listener’s attention and sets to unfolding the course of We Are as a whole, which of course side B expands beginning with “Material Drive” and moving through the layered vocals of “I’m With You” and more flute sounds on “Be With Me,” a whirlwind of guitar turns opening wide to the payoff of the album in the spirit of songs like She Said‘s “Transformation” circa four minutes in, just before the vocals begin their aforementioned flight. That would seem to leave “Freude III” (‘freude’ being ‘joy’ in English) as an afterthought, but it turns out instead to seem to be answering some of the progressions of In Her Garden while still holding to We Are‘s particular balance, an enticing cascade of nuance and natural impulses that plays out across the seven-minute instrumental finale in two distinct movements, the last of which ends — suitably enough — on a long fadeout of synth as if to underscore how far Colour Haze‘s journey has taken them not only since the riffier beginning of the record on “We Are,” but in general across their span of years and span of albums.

They are inherently in conversation with their past on We Are — the name of the record can certainly be taken as a declaration of self, despite how the songs portray it — as even those emergent titular phrases was an element put to use on 2008’s All (discussed here), and perhaps reflecting on a quarter-century of the band’s existence is a part of that either consciously or not, but they show as clearly as ever in this material that looking back by no means has to stop you from moving forward. I will gladly admit to being a fan of the band, so if you need to take this review with that in consideration, that’s fine. From where I sit, every time Colour Haze puts out a record — and again, this is their lucky 13th — it is nothing less than a gift, and We Are sneaks in under the wire as one of the best gifts 2019 has had to offer. For old fans, it offers something new in the shift of lineup and fleshing out of arrangements, and for newcomers, its refreshed sound should prove all the more welcoming. Quite simply, Colour Haze make the world a better place.

Colour Haze website

Colour Haze on Thee Facebooks

Elektrohasch Schallplatten website

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Sound of Liberation Announces 15th Anniversary Shows with Fu Manchu, Sasquatch & The Atomic Bitchwax

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 22nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

sound of liberation 15 years party banner

Happy impending birthday to Sound of Liberation, and I say that with all sincerity. The European booking concern has helped to reshape Europe’s heavy underground particularly over the course of this decade with its involvement in fests like Up in SmokeKeep it Low, and of course the Desertfest series in London, Berlin, Belgium and now New York, while also having a hand in putting together killer package tours on a one-after-the-next ongoing basis that’s as exhausting-looking as it is enviable, watching from a continent away as I am. They’ll celebrate 15 years in late-June 2020 with two shows featuring Fu Manchu (who themselves are celebrating 30 years), SasquatchThe Atomic Bitchwax and more to be announced.

Frankly, with those three, I’m not sure they need anyone else, but the roster of Sound of Liberation continues to expand, moving into the Greek scene recently with Naxatras and Villagers of Ionnina City as choice pickups, so I’m also curious to see who gets invited to the party. The shows are in Wiesbaden and Munich and early-bird tickets are on sale now.

Info follows as posted on thee social medias:

sound of liberation 15 years party

We are super excited to announce the first acts for our 15 years Sound of Liberation birthday events!!

Sound of Liberation is honoured and proud to welcome one of the best live acts on this planet.

Ladies and gentlemen, fasten your seat belts because the mighty heavy rock riff legends, the Kings of the Road, Fu Manchu will push the gas pedal to the maximum! We’re super hyped that our birthday coincides with Fu Manchu’s, who will celebrate their 30 years of existence with a special anniversary tour!

Speaking of killer live acts…we have two more for you.

We are stoked to welcome back in Europe, after 2 long years, New Jersey´s riffdealers The Atomic Bitchwax, as well as L.A.´s powerhouse Sasquatch.

You all surely know their great and highly energetic live performances and we can´t wait to welcome them to our two huge birthday parties!

Dear fans and friends,
we are preparing for two special anniversary shows, in two excellent venues. Expect an outstanding line up with 8 to 10 bands, no overlappings in the timetable, indoor stage and outside area, beergarden and some more specials we are working on! ?

See you in Wiesbaden and Munich, June 26/27 in 2020! Join the fun:
15 years Sound of Liberation / Wiesbaden
15 years Sound of Liberation / München

King of the Road says you move too slow!
Get your tickets fast! Limited amount of early birds available here:
https://www.sol-tickets.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Soundofliberation/
https://www.instagram.com/soundofliberation/
https://www.soundofliberation.com/

Fu Manchu, “King of the Road” official video

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Colour Haze Announce We Are Album Release Tour for Spring 2020

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 7th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

We’re drawing inevitably closer to the release of Colour Haze‘s forthcoming album, which has been retitled as We Are (originally Life) (discussed here), and as a blanket nerd for the band, obviously I find this prospect exciting. Sound of Liberation, which has long handled the band’s booking, has announced a round of tour dates for Spring that will probably coincide at least loosely with the arrival of the vinyl edition of the record, since as discussed in the interview linked above, there’s always some kind of delay between pressing LPs and CDs.

But let’s be honest, whenever Colour Haze want to go on tour and for whatever occasion, whether it’s a new record or their 25th anniversary, as it was this year, it’s not like anyone’s going to argue against it. Quite the contrary. If you’ve seen Colour Haze, you don’t need me to tell you to go see them again, and if you’ve never seen Colour Haze, well, go see them and you won’t need me to tell you anymore. Also, if you’ve never seen them as a four-piece with Jan Faszbender on keys, you have all the more reason to be there, whether you have before or not, because it’s a noteworthy shift in dynamic and atmosphere in the band.

Ah screw it, just go.

Here’s where to be, as per Sound of Liberation on thee social medias:

colour haze life tour

Colour Haze – 2020 ‘We Are’ Album Release Tour

We are more than happy to unveil that the legendary Colour Haze are going to promote their upcoming album (keep your eyes peeled for news!) in spring 2020 – with shows in Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Hungary & Austria!

SOUND OF LIBERATION & Elektrohasch proudly present the following tour dates:

Colour Haze – ALBUM RELEASE TOUR 2020
24.03.20 (DE) Dresden, Beatpol
25.03.20 (AT) Salzburg, Rockhouse
26.03.20 (HU) Budapest, A38
27.03.20 TBA
28.03.20 (AT) Wien, Arena
29.03.20 (DE) Passau, Zauberberg
30.03.20 (DE) Wiesbaden, Schlachthof
31.03.20 (BE) Gent, Voruuit
01.04.20 (NL) Nijmegen, Doornroosje
02.04.20 (DE) Hamburg, Markthalle
03.04.20 (DE) Dortmund, Piano
04.04.20 (DE) Ludwigsburg, Scala

Listen to Colour Haze here:
https://tinyurl.com/ColourHazeSpotify

Follow Colour Haze on instagram:
https://www.instagram.com/colourhazeband/

http://colourhaze.de/
www.elektrohasch.de

Colour Haze, “Tempel” live at Høstsabbat 2019

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Streaming Interview: Talking Life and More with Colour Haze

Posted in audiObelisk, Features on October 21st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Colour Haze (Photo by JJ Koczan)

A couple weeks back, I sat outside in the chilly Oslo air on the second night of Høstsabbat 2019 and had the chance to interview guitarist/vocalist Stefan Koglek of Colour Haze. At the time, his band was loading in their gear ahead of their headlining set (review here), and there are a couple moments in the interview where you can hear him directing traffic in that regard. They had played Up in Smoke in Switzerland the night before and would still look forward to their annual slot at Keep it Low in their hometown of Munich, Germany later in the month, as they simultaneously continued the mixing process for their new album, Life, which is expected out before the end of the year on Koglek‘s own Elektrohasch Schallplatten imprint.

Long a trio, Colour Haze is now the four-piece of Koglek, bassist Philipp Rasthofer, drummer Manfred Merwald and key-specialist/synthesist Jan Faszbender, whose arrival as a fully-fledged member of the band follows years of collaboration on arrangements and album guest appearances. I was also lucky enough to see Colour Haze play in this configuration last Spring in London (review here), and for what Faszbender brings to the dynamic of the group as a whole and for the depth of melody added by the organ and synth, the effect is only to make a special sound that much richer.

Life arrives two-plus years after 2017’s In Her Garden (review here), to which Faszbender also contributed, and having been lucky enough to hear a few of the in-progress mixes for songs like the speedy/funky “We Are” and the 10-minute jammer “The Real,” I feel confident saying the new material pushes deeper into the chemistry between guitar, bass, drums and keys, and maintains Colour Haze‘s signature warmth and exploratory feel. Of course I’ll hope to have more to come on the record than that as we get closer to the release, but if you’re a Colour Haze fan — as I most certainly am — it seems unlikely you’ll emerge disappointed, at least based on what I’ve heard thus far.

And at the same time, Colour Haze has just issued the live album, Live Vol. 2 – Duna Jam 2007, capturing the first set from the famed Sardinian “unofficial festival”/gathering that the band played, during the era between 2006’s Tempel (discussed here) and 2008’s All (discussed here). I haven’t heard it yet, but Koglek talks a bit about the performances in the interview below as well as where they’re at with the new record (or were two weeks ago, anyhow), and the idea that they’re using the live album as a form to tell part of the story of the band — especially in light of their 25th anniversary, which they’ve been celebrating all year — seems all the more special as a notion to manifest.

I could go on with all kinds of fanboy hyperbole about how righteous Colour Haze are live and on record, or about the decades of formative influence they’ve had on heavy psychedelia in Europe and beyond, but frankly you probably already know it. And if not, you probably don’t need me to encourage you to get caught up (though I will, happily). The audio of the chat is raw, but there’s some cool stuff in there — my favorite part is when Koglek refers to 2012’s She Said (review here) as being “too perfect” — and some insight into the making of Life that clues you into how the band functions and thinks about what they do. I was happy Koglek was able to take the time, and thanks to you for checking it out if you do.

Please enjoy:

Interview with Stefan Koglek of Colour Haze

Pt. 1

Pt. 2

Pt. 3

Colour Haze live:
OCT 25 Grund 74 Bischofsgrün, Germany
OCT 26 Festsaal Kreuzberg Berlin, Germany

Colour Haze website

Colour Haze on Thee Facebooks

Elektrohasch Schallplatten website

Colour Haze at Sound of Liberation

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Colour Haze Announce New Album Life out This Fall; Update on Live Vol. 2 & Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 4th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

colour haze 2 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

It was just yesterday day I was sitting around talking about Colour Haze being added to Up in Smoke saying I hoped they had a follow-up to 2017’s In Her Garden (review here) out soon, and here we are. The record that they began putting to tape in April is called Life and will be out this Fall, of course through guitarist/vocalist Stefan Koglek‘s Elektrohasch Schallplatten imprint. It’s due out this Fall, which I’ll assume means either October or November sometime, and that’s fine by me. I especially like the part in the update below where Koglek refers to the process as being “especially delightful.” I want to hear what that sounds like.

They’ve also given some more details on the Live Vol. 2 release they announced this Spring and that will capture their performance from Duna Jam in 2007. That seems like it’ll be especially delightful as well.

Can’t wait to see them again in Norway. Their other confirmed dates are below, along with the promise of more to come and some of their set from Duna Jam this year. Dig it:

Colour-Haze-Duna-Live-2007

Elektrohasch 012 – Colour Haze – Life

The work on our new album is going ahead well and is especially delightful for us this time. We think this will become an exceptional record. More about that later. CD and download will be released in autumn. I can‘t say yet if vinyl can be pressed fast enough to be released until the end of the year. In march we will be on tour with the new album… and until then we play live:

28.09. Villingen-Schwenningen, Kulturzentrum Klosterhof
03.10. CH – Pratteln, Up In Smoke
05.10. NO – Oslo, Hostsabbat
09.10. Bonn, Harmonie, WDR Rockpalast
12.10. München, Feierwerk, Keep It Low
26.10. Berlin, Festsaal Kreuzberg, Rotor XXI

Elektrohasch 061 – Colour Haze -Live Vol. 2 – Duna Jam 2007

Recordings from our first Duna Jam in 2007 – parts of the legendary Tempel-concert and a wonderful session on the beach….

Now ready for preorder, will be delivered by mid of September. DLP in black 180gr. vinyl or handnumbered limited on 500 copies on yellow (beach-side) and blue (tempel-side) vinyl.

Double-CD and downloads coming soon….

http://colourhaze.de/
www.elektrohasch.de

Colour Haze, Live at Duna Jam 2019

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Swan Valley Heights Premiere “My First Knife Fight” Video; Touring in Oct. with Truckfighters

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 19th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

SWAN VALLEY HEIGHTS (Photo by Agathe Riener)

We’re coming up quick on the Sept. 6 release date for Swan Valley Heights‘ new album, The Heavy Seed (review here), on Fuzzorama Records, which the Munich-based trio will celebrate in October with a tour alongside Truckfighters — also Fuzzorama honchos — that includes stops at Night of Fuzz, Festsaal KreuzbergKeep it Low and Desertfest Belgium, as well as a swath of club shows. The Heavy Seed is Swan Valley Heights‘ second LP behind a 2016 self-titled (review here), and their first for the new label, and with it, the band capture a warm-toned fuzz and jammy, heavy psychedelic drift that reminds of the potential that once seemed so prevalent in an act like Sungrazer from the Netherlands, perhaps taking a more active role in their own progressivism. Opening with the 13-minute title-track and closing with the 10-minute “Teeth & Waves,” the five-song/41-minute collection is bookended by sprawl that only adds flourish to the nuance of performance in “Vaporizer Woman,” the alternately spaced and heavy rolling centerpiece “Take a Swim in God’s Washing Machine” — bit of funk there in the second half — and the three-minute “My First Knife Fight,” the shortest track on the release by more than half and something of an aberration in terms of general approach.

Gone is the patient unfolding of “The Heavy Seed” or even the back and forth loud/quiet swaps of “Take a Swim in God’s Washing Machine.” Each song on the album seems to establish its own take around the central unifying tonal and melodic factors in the band’s sound, but no question “My First Knife Fight” is a standout. It doesn’t quite manifest the sense of aggression or violent threat in the title — though even that feels tongue-in-cheek — but it’s a rocker for sure, with searing lead guitar over top and a forward thrust of low end and drums that establishes its own edge distinct from its surroundings. Then there’s the ending: a sudden dropoff as though the riff blinks out of existence and — poof! — it’s done. That’s not the only cold finish on The Heavy Seed, but it is perhaps the starkest, especially as it seems to come what would otherwise be about halfway through any of the other tracks. Further, as Swan Valley Heights weave between instrumental and vocalized material, the overarching flow they conjure isn’t to be understated, and neither is the willful-seeming cut thereof in “My First Knife Fight.” At no point are they lacking groove, but what the penultimate track shows clearest is that with their sophomore full-length, Swan Valley Heights are ready to manipulate that to suit a variety of purposes in their creation.

So much the better when it comes to the album overall. If you’re sensitive to flashing lights, watch out when taking on the colors-do-interpretive-dance clip below for “My First Knife Fight,” but again, the song itself is pretty short, so whether you just put it on and check out the track or stare at the screen and get hypnotized by the washes of I’m-not-quite-sure-what that appear there, I think you’ll be fine. You know what you’re up for.

Either way, please enjoy:

Swan Valley Heights, “My First Knife Fight” official video premiere

Taken from the album ‘the Heavy Seed’ out Sept 6th 2019.
Order your physical copy from www.fuzzoramastore.com

The band is touring as support to Truckfighters in Europe October 2019. Get your ticket: www.truckfighters.com/dates-2

OCT 4 NIGHT OF FUZZ, Linz, Austria
OCT 5 NIGHT OF FUZZ, Wien, Austria
OCT 6 Beatpol, Dresden, Germany
OCT 8 Hydrozagadka, Warszawa, Poland
OCT 9 Festsaal Kreuzberg, Berlin, Germany
OCT 10 Knust, Hamburg, Germany
OCT 11 Universum, Stuttgart, Germany
OCT 12 Keep it Low festival, München, Germany
OCT 13 Helios 37, Köln, Germany
OCT 14 The Garage, London, United Kingdom
OCT 16 Petit Bain, Paris, France
OCT 17 Le Ferrailleur, Nantes, France
Oct 18 Desertfest Belgium, Antwerpen, Belgium

Video credits:
8mm and Acid Operator: Tiago Margaça
tiagomargaca.com
Editor: Alexander Häring
Dark Fox Production
dark-fox-production.com

Swan Valley Heights, The Heavy Seed (2019)

Swan Valley Heights on Thee Facebooks

Swan Valley Heights on Instagram

Swan Valley Heights on Bandcamp

Fuzzorama Records website

Fuzzorama Records on Thee Facebooks

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Quarterly Review: Pelican, Swan Valley Heights, Mark Deutrom, Greenbeard, Mount Soma, Nibiru, Cable, Reino Ermitaño, Cardinals Folly & Lucifer’s Fall, Temple of the Fuzz Witch

Posted in Reviews on July 8th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review

More computer bullshit this morning. I lost about 45 minutes because my graphics driver and Windows 10 apparently hate each other and before I could disable the former, the machine decided the best it could do for me was to load a blank screen. Hard to find the Pelican record on my desktop when I can’t see my desktop. The Patient Mrs. woke up while I was trying to fix it and suggested HDMIing it to the tv. When I did that, it didn’t project as was hoped, but the display came on — because go figure — and I was able to shut off the driver, the only real advantage of which is it lets me use the night light feature so it’s easier on my eyes. That’s nice, but I’d rather have the laptop function. Not really working on a level of “give me soft red light or give me death!” at this point. I may yet get there in my life.

Today’s the last day of this beast, wrapping up the last of the 60 reviews, and I’m already in the hole for the better part of an hour thanks to this technical issue, the second of the week. Been an adventure, this one. Let’s close it out.

Quarterly Review #51-60:

Pelican, Nighttime Stories

pelican nighttime stories

Split into two LPs each with its own three-minute mood-setter — those being “WST” and “It Stared at Me,” respectively — Pelican‘s Nighttime Stories (on Southern Lord) carries the foreboding sensibility of its title into an aggressive push throughout the album, which deals from the outset with the pain of loss. The lead single “Midnight and Mescaline” represents this well in directly following “WST,” with shades of more extreme sounds in the sharp-turning guitar interplay and tense drums, but it carries through the blastbeats of “Abyssal Plain” and the bombastic crashes of presumed side B closer “Cold Hope” as well, which flow via a last tonal wash toward the melancholy “It Stared at Me” and the even-more-aggro title-track, the consuming “Arteries of Blacktop” and the eight-minute “Full Moon, Black Water,” which offers a build of maddening chug — a Pelican hallmark — before resolving in melodic serenity, moving, perhaps, forward with and through its grief. It’s been six years since Pelican‘s last LP, Forever Becoming (review here), and they’ve responded to that time differential with the hardest-hitting record they’ve ever done.

Pelican on Thee Facebooks

Southern Lord Recordings website

 

Swan Valley Heights, The Heavy Seed

swan valley heights the heavy seed

Though the peaceful beginning of 13-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “The Heavy Seed,” for which the five-song album is named, reminds of Swan Valley Heights‘ Munich compatriots in Colour Haze, the ultimate impression the band make on their Fuzzorama Records debut and second album overall behind a 2016 self-titled (review here) is more varied in its execution, with cuts like “Vaporizer Woman” and the centerpiece “Take a Swim in God’s Washing Machine” manifesting ebbs and flows and rolling out a fuzzy largesse to lead into dream-toned ethereality and layered vocals that immediately call to mind Elephant Tree. There’s a propensity for jamming, but they’re not a jam band, and seem always to have a direction in mind. That’s true even on the three-minute instrumental “My First Knife Fight,” which unfurls around a nod riff and simple drum progression to bridge into closer “Teeth and Waves,” a bookend to The Heavy Seed‘s title-track that revives that initial grace and uses it as a stepping stone for the crunch to come. It’s a balance that works and should be well received.

Swan Valley Heights on Thee Facebooks

Fuzzorama Records on Bandcamp

 

Mark Deutrom, The Blue Bird

Mark Deutrom The Blue Bird

Released in the wee hours of 2019, Mark Deutrom‘s The Blue Bird marks the first new solo release from the prolific Austin-based songwriter/producer/multi-instrumentalist through Season of Mist, and it’s a 50-minute run of genre-spanning outsider art, bringing ’70s folk vibes to the weepy guitar echoes of “Radiant Gravity” right before “O Ye of Little Faith” dooms out for six of its seven minutes and “Our Revels Now Are Ended” basks in 77 seconds of experimentalist winding guitar. It goes like that. Vocals are intermittent enough to not necessarily be expected, but not entirely absent through the midsection of “Hell is a City,” “Somnambulist” and “Maximum Hemingway,” and if there’s traditionalism at play anywhere, it might be in “They Have Won” and “The Happiness Machine,” which, toward the back end of the album, bring a sax-laden melancholy vibe and a straightforward heavy rock feel, respectively, ahead of the closer “Nothing out There,” which ties them together, somehow accounting for the 1:34 “On Fathers Day” as well in its sweetness. Don’t go into The Blue Bird asking it to make sense on any level other than its own and you should be fine. It’s not a minor undertaking at 50 minutes, and not without its indulgences, but even the briefest of pieces helps develop the character of the whole, which of course is essential to any good story.

Mark Deutrom website

Season of Mist website

 

Greenbeard, Onward, Pillager

greenbeard onward pillager

Austin bringers of hard-boogie Greenbeard reportedly issued the three-song Onward, Pillager as a precursor to their next full-length — even the name hints toward it being something of a stopgap — but its tracks stand well on their own, whether it’s the keyboard-laced “Contact High II,” which is presumably a sequel to another track on the forthcoming record, or the chunkier roll of “WCCQ” and the catchy finisher “Kill to Love Yourself,” with its overlaid guitar solo adding to a dramatic ending. It hasn’t been that long since 2017’s Lödarödböl (review here), but clearly these guys are committed to moving forward in neo-stoner rock fashion, and their emergence as songwriters is highlighted particularly throughout “WCCQ” and “Kill to Love Yourself,” while “Contact High II” is more of an intro or a would-be interlude on the full-length. It may only be pieces of a larger, to-be-revealed picture, but Onward, Pillager shows three different sides of what Greenbeard have on offer, and the promise of more to come is one that will hopefully be kept sooner rather than later.

Greenbeard on Thee Facebooks

Sailor Records on Bandcamp

 

Mount Soma, Nirodha

mount_soma_nirodha

Each of the three songs on Mount Soma‘s densely-weighted, live-recorded self-released Nirodha EP makes some mention of suffering in its lyrics, and indeed, that seems to be the theme drawing together “Dark Sun Destroyer” (7:40), “Emerge the Wolf” (5:50) and “Resurfacing” (9:14): a quest for transcendence perhaps in part due to the volume of the music and the act itself of creating it. Whatever gets them there, the trajectory of Nirodha is such that by the time they hit into the YOB-style galloping toward the end of “Resurfacing,” the gruff shouts of “rebirth!” feel more celebratory than ambitious. Based in Dublin, the four-piece bring a fair sense of space to their otherwise crush-minded approach, and though the EP is rough — it is their second short release following 2016’s Origins — they seem to have found a way to tie together outer and inner cosmos with an earthbound sense of gravity and heft, and with the more intense shove of “Emerge the Wolf” between the two longer tracks, they prove themselves capable of bringing a noisy charge amid all that roar and crash. They did the first EP live as well. I wonder if they’d do the same for a full-length.

Mount Soma on Thee Facebooks

Mount Soma on Bandcamp

 

Nibiru, Salbrox

nibiru salbrox

One might get lost in the unmanageable 64-minute wash of Nibiru‘s fifth full-length (first for Ritual Productions), Salbrox, but the opaque nature of the proceedings is part of the point. The Italian ritualists bring forth a chaotic depth of noise and harsh semi-spoken rasps of vocals reportedly in the Enochian language, and from 14-minute opener “EHNB” — also the longest track (immediate points) — through the morass that follows in “Exarp,” “Hcoma,” “Nanta” and so on, the album is a willful slog that challenges the listener on nearly every level. This is par for the course for Nibiru, whose last outing was 2017’s Qaal Babalon (review here), and they seem to revel in the slow-churning gruel of their distortion, turning from it only to break to minimalism in the second half of the album with “Abalpt” and “Bitom” before 13-minute closer “Rziorn” storms in like a tsunami of spiritually desolate plunge. It is vicious and difficult to hear, and again, that is exactly what it’s intended to be.

Nibiru on Thee Facebooks

Ritual Productions website

 

Cable, Take the Stairs to Hell

Cable Take the Stairs to Hell

The gift of Cable was to take typically raw Northeastern disaffection and channel it into a noise rock that wasn’t quite as post-this-or-that as Isis, but still had a cerebral edge that more primitive fare lacked. They were methodical, and 10 years after their last record, the Hartford, Connecticut, outfit return with the nine-song/30-minute Take the Stairs to Hell (on Translation Loss), which brings them back into the modern sphere with a sound that is no less relevant than it was bouncing between This Dark Reign, Hydra Head and Translation Loss between 2001 and 2004. They were underrated then and may continue to be now, but the combination of melody and bite in “Black Medicine” and the gutty crunch of “Eyes Rolled Back,” the post-Southern heavy of the title-track and the lumbering pummel of “Rivers of Old” before it remind of how much of a standout Cable was in the past, reinforcing that not only were they ahead of their time then, but that they still have plenty to offer going forward. They may continue to be underrated as they always were, but their return is significant and welcome.

Cable on Instagram

Translation Loss Records webstore

 

Reino Ermitaño, Reino Ermitaño

Reino Ermitano Reino Ermitano

Originally released in 2003, the self-titled debut from Lima, Peru’s Reino Ermitaño was a beacon and landmark in Latin American doom, with a sound derived from the genre’s traditions — Sabbath, Trouble, etc. — and melded with not only Spanish-language lyrics, but elements of South American folk and stylizations. Reissued on vinyl some 16 years later, it maintains its power through the outside-time level of its craft, sliding into that unplaceable realm of doom that could be from any point from about 1985 onward, while the melodies in the guitar of Henry Guevara and the vocals of Tania Duarte hold sway over the central groove of bassist Marcos Coifman and drummer Julio “Ñaka” Almeida. Those who were turned onto the band at the time will likely know they’ve released five LPs to-date, with the latest one from 2014, but the Necio Records version marks the first time the debut has been pressed to vinyl, and so is of extra interest apart from the standard putting-it-out-there-again reissue. Collectors and a new generation of doomers alike would be well advised on an educational level, and of course the appeal of the album itself far exceeds that.

Reino Ermitaño on Thee Facebooks

Necio Records on Bandcamp

 

Cardinals Folly & Lucifer’s Fall, Split

cardinals folly lucifers fall split

Though one hails from Helsinki, Finland, and the other from Adelaide, Australia, Cardinals Folly and Lucifer’s Fall could hardly be better suited to share the six-song Cruz Del Sur split LP that they do, which checks in at 35 minutes of trad doom riffing and dirtier fare. The former is provided by Cardinals Folly, who bring a Reverend Bizarre-style stateliness to “Spiritual North” and “Walvater Proclaimed!” before betraying their extreme metal roots on “Sworn Through Odin’s and Satan’s Blood,” while the Oz contingent throw down Saint Vitus-esque punk-born fuckall through “Die Witch Die,” the crawling “Call of the Wild” and the particularly brash and speedier “The Gates of Hell.” The uniting thread of course is homage to doom itself, but each band brings enough of their own take to complement each other without either contradicting or making one or the other of them feel redundant, and rather, the split works out to be a rampaging, deeply-drunk, pagan-feeling celebration of what doom is and how it has been internalized by each of these groups. Doom over the world? Yeah, something like that.

Cardinals Folly on Thee Facebooks

Lucifer’s Fall on Thee Facebooks

Cruz Del Sur Music website

 

Temple of the Fuzz Witch, Temple of the Fuzz Witch

Temple of the Fuzz Witch Temple of the Fuzz Witch

A strong current of Electric Wizard runs through the self-titled debut full-length from Detroit’s Temple of the Fuzz Witch (on Seeing Red Records), but even to that, the outfit led by guitarist/vocalist Noah Bruner bring a nascent measure of individuality, droning into and through “Death Hails” after opening with “Bathsheba” and ahead of unveiling a harmonized vocal on “The Glowing of Satan” that suits the low end distortion surprisingly well. They continue to offer surprises throughout, whether it’s the spaciousness of centerpiece “329” and “Infidel,” which follows, or the offsetting of minimalism and crush on “The Fuzz Witch” and the creeper noise in the ending of “Servants of the Sun,” and though there are certainly familiar elements at play, Temple of the Fuzz Witch come across with an intent to take what’s been done before and make it theirs. In that regard, they would seem to be on the right track, and in their 41 minutes, they find footing in a murky aesthetic and are able to convey a sense of songwriting without sounding heavy-handed. There’s nothing else I’d ask of their first album.

Temple of the Fuzz Witch on Thee Facebooks

Seeing Red Records on Bandcamp

 

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Swan Valley Heights Sign to Fuzzorama Records; The Heavy Seed Due Sept. 6

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 23rd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

swan valley heights (Photo by Agathe Riener)

Band puts out cool record, gets signed for the next one. Such is the order of things, and I can’t argue when it comes to Germany’s Swan Valley Heights inking a deal with Fuzzorama Records to release their second long-player, The Heavy Seed, this September through the venerable imprint helmed by Sweden’s Truckfighters. Their first outing, a 2016 self-titled (review here), had more than enough charm to grab attention, and the 10-minute showcase of tonal warmth and progressive bent they’re giving for the new LP in the streaming track “Teeth and Waves” — the closer of the album, to be heard at the bottom of this post — bodes well for what might accompany on the rest of the record without necessarily giving away every trick up the band’s collective sleeve.

I’ll take it, in other words. There are a couple different versions that will be available, as detailed in the PR wire info below:

swan valley heights the heavy seed

Fuzzorama records signs Swan Valley Heights (GER)

The fuzz is flowing and Fuzzorama records’ family is growing!

Fuzzorama records are happy to announce the signing of German psychedelic stoner rockers Swan Valley Heights and the upcoming release of their new album called ‘the Heavy Seed’. The album’s first single Teeth & Waves is out now on all streaming platforms, give it a ‘spin’ to hear what the fuzz is all about.

A fat baby is born in Germany: The Heavy Seed, the second album of Munich and Berlin-based three-piece Swan Valley Heights. Ranging from three-minute-long instrumental bangers with no other intention than smashing heads to massive psych journeys that almost reach the quarter-hour mark; from big, ugly dissonances to acoustic guitar-driven beach vibes – this eclectic piece of fuzz-rock found its right home on Fuzzorama Records, even being mixed and mastered by no other than Truckfighters’ Mr. Dango.

Releasing their debut album back in 2016, Swan Valley Heights quickly found their booth within the scene. Heavy, unique riffing and a semi-serious take on stoner rock’s clichés are fusing with a fascination for the psychedelic aesthetics and big spaces of the many branches the genre has to offer.

Swan Valley Heights has been labeled progressive stoner, psychedelic fuzz-rock and space grunge, birthing music that is far away from simply riding standard patterns into oblivion.

Five-track beast The Heavy Seed will see the light of day September 6th, 2019.

The album comes in CD Digipak, and three different vinyl versions:
LTD edition Aside/Bside twin colored vinyl RED / AQUA BLUE + poster + patch + pick
SEA BLUE LP
BLACK LP.

https://www.facebook.com/swanvalleyheights/
https://www.instagram.com/swanvalleyheights/
https://swanvalleyheights.bandcamp.com/
http://www.fuzzoramarecords.com/
http://www.facebook.com/Fuzzorama

Swan Valley Heights, The Heavy Seed (2019)

Swan Valley Heights, Swan Valley Heights (2016)

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