Høstsabbat 2024 First Announcement: Inter Arma, SÂVER and More Confirmed

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 11th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

Names, names, names! As the Høstsabbat team is fresh off executing the first-ever Desertfest Oslo last month, perhaps after a week or two of “rest” that was more likely continuing the behind-the-scenes coordination that makes these festivals possible in the first place, Høstsabbat itself has unveiled the first five names of bands who will take part in the annual Oslo-based gathering this October. It’s late this year, Oct. 25-26, which is fair enough as Norway moves inexorably toward the cold and darkness of its ultra-Scandinavian winter without actually tipping over into the can’t-support-life-until-April depths, and this first announcement is headed up by Virginian progressive death metallers Inter Arma, who so far as I can recall have never played Høstsabbat before but whose cross-genre extremity makes them just about the perfect band to feature. I mean really. It’s like why-didn’t-I-think-of-that forehead-slap level appropriate.

SÂVER, who issued their righteous second album, From Ember and Rust (review here), through Pelagic Records late last year and who are also partly aligned in making Høstsabbat, will also make a return appearance, and the doomly Purple Hill WitchBuskas and Feral Nature round out the first lineup reveal with more to come. Last year, Høstsabbat did announcements one at a time and that made it hard for the likes of me to keep up, but I’ll do my best in 2024, whether I end up grouping bands together or what. We’ll have to see how it goes as more names show up.

But generally speaking, how good a time is Høstsabbat? Well, when last I was there I tore my meniscus and had to have surgery but still retain overwhelmingly positive memories of the weekend, so yes, I feel relatively comfortable recommending it as a way to spend your time. If that requires travel, so much the better.

From social media:

Høstsabbat 2024 first names

Sabbathians, let’s get this train rollin!🔥

If anyone of you attended Desertfest Oslo a few weeks back, you might have noticed.
If you’ve had a drink, nap, coffee or just snagged a vinyl at any of the institutions supporting our underground in the Oslo area, you might have noticed.
If not – here it is:
The first announcement for this year’s Høstsabbat!

Appropriately, the weather these days is way more reminiscent of an October night outside the church, rather than a BBQ in June – so the timing feels stupidly on point.

The first 5 names from this years lineup is is a batch of talent spanning from veterans to rookies. Proto-doom to modern sludge, synthscapes to the use of silence.

We feel these five bands represent the core ethos of Høstsabbat, and we are dead proud and psyched to go live with them, and aim our headlights towards the festival in the end of October.

Please welcome US-legends INTER ARMA, Norwegian KVLT-band Purple Hill Witch, Atmospheric post-metal crushers SÂVER, duo-demolishers BUSKAS, and buzzing, ultra-energetic riff-mongers Feral Nature!

What a sick bunch of bands!🖤🤘

Further introductions will follow, but we have a feeling this does it for now,
Make sure to get your tickets – they are limited and then some this year🤝

Design by Thomas Moe Ellefsrud / hypnotistdesign

SPOTIFY PLAYLIST
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NEWSLETTER
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Høstsabbat Spotify Playlist

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Pia Isa to Release Dissolve June 28; Title-Track Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 30th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

Equal parts moody and melodic, the new Pia Isa single bodes well for Dissolve, which is the second solo-ish full-length from Norwegian heavy singer-songwriter Pia Isaksen, also bassist and vocalist for Superlynx, and since it’s the title-track of the album as the first piece unveiled, somehow that’s so much the better. If you have headphones, I’d say that might be your best bet to let some of the psychedelic nuance of the guitar — and bass! — and the intricacy of the layers of her voice shine through, as well as the post-grunge moodiness, though that’s certainly resonant through speakers as well. Her first record under the Pia Isa banner, Distorted Chants (review here), came out in 2022, also on Argonauta, and worked in similar textures, but it seems likely that “Dissolve” was chosen to represent Dissolve as the lead single in part because you can hear growth in terms of arrangement and flourish elements along with the core fluid groove and melody. Sounds cool, in other words.

Also kind of sad, but this too is part of the thing. There’s a mention for it below, but in addition to having put out her Burning Time EP (review here) earlier this year, Isaksen also recently announced the advent of SoftSun, building on her prior collaboration with guitarist Gary Arce (Yawning Man, etc.), who appeared on “Trauma” (video premiere here) from Distorted Chants, as well as drummer Dan Joeright, who doubles as producer at Gatos Trail Recording Studio in Yucca Valley, California. No idea when anything’s coming out from that three-piece, but don’t forget Superlynx had their own LP, 4 10 (review here), out just this past Fall. So, you know, plenty going on one way or the other, if you’re looking to keep up.

Speaking of keeping up, this news came through like last week and I’m still getting caught up. Recall that at no point in the last 15-plus years did I say I was any good at this.

From the PR wire:

Pia Isa Dissolve

Heavy Psych Dronegazer PIA ISA Unveil “Dissolve” Full Album Details; First Single Out Now

Norwegian psychedelic drone rocker PIA ISA, also known as a member of Superlynx, is set to release a new full-length album titled ‘Dissolve’ on June 28th via Argonauta Records on vinyl.

“The new album feels like a further walk on the path I started with my first solo album but with a few different turns. This time I worked more with layers of vocal harmonies and gave my old dark sounding acoustic nylon guitar some space among the heavy distorted guitars. I am super stoked to have Gary Arce once again laying his stunning guitar tones on most of the songs and about Ole Teigen’s brilliant drums and sound work. Dissolvement is a recurring theme on the album, but so is the idea of reassembling the pieces back together in new and different ways.” – says Pia.

Today is also the day Pia Isa presents the title track in the form of a lyric video, now available.

Pia about the single: “The first single Dissolve is the title track and I guess it tries to capture the feeling of falling apart but also holding on to the pieces of your- self for when the time comes that you feel able to start putting them back together. Knowing that they won’t fit the same way they used to, but maybe a different way could be even better. Musically I wanted the song to catch a heavy sad feeling but also a lot of hopefulness.“

“Dissolve” album tracklisting and cover art are as follows:
Side A:
1. Transform
2. Into the Fire
3. Dissolve
4. One Above Ten Below
Side B:
5. New Light
6. Emerald
7. Tide
8. Drown or Float

On the new album Pia has worked more with layers of vocal harmonies and has given an old dark sounding nylon acoustic guitar more space in her massive distorted soundscape. In addition to singing she plays bass, riff guitars and minimalistic guitar leads while Gary Arce (Yawning Man, Fatso Jetson, Big Scenic Nowhere, Ten East etc) plays additional guitar melodies on six of the album’s eight songs. The drums are played by Ole Teigen (Superlynx etc) who also record- ed, mixed and produced the album with Pia co producing at Crowtown Recordings.

Pia’s lyrics are always personal and honest. She wrote Dissolve at a time where a lot of major things in her own life, but also in the world, changed, were uncertain and seemed to dissolve. Dissolvement is a recurring theme in the songs, but so is the idea of moulding things back together in a new form. As Pia often writes what she needs to hear herself, and needs to tell herself, in her lyrics she wonders if there are others out there needing to hear similar things. On this album she is trying to create hope that no matter how scary major changes and the unknown is it can also be an opportunity for new and better ways and ideas.

In addition to her solo project Pia has spent a decade playing bass and doing vocals in heavy psych band Superlynx and recently started the new project SoftSun with Gary Arce and Dan Joeright (Earth Moon Earth, The Rentals etc).

For more info:
https://linktr.ee/piaisa_distortedchants

http://www.facebook.com/piaisamusic
http://www.instagram.com/piaisamusic
https://piaisa.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/argonuatarecords
www.instagram.com/argonautarecords
www.argonautarecords.com

Pia Isa, “Dissolve” lyric video

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Desertfest Oslo 2024 Completes Lineup and Announces Day Splits

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 6th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

Over the last several weeks, the inaugural Desertfest Oslo has piece-by-piece announced the remainder of the lineup for May 10 and 11, and the list is substantial. Wolves in the Throne Room, Weedpecker, Kadabra, Steak, Crippled Black Phoenix, Earth Tongue, Apostle of Solitude, Orsak:Oslo, Margarita Witch Cult, REZN, Bongzilla and Slomosa joined the bill one at a time, broadening the scope exponentially in terms of style from searing black metal thrust to sad post-goth to stoner rock of progressive and willfully unprogressive strains and outright ambience, older and newer bands, and geographical range. It’s kind of stunning how commonplace this standard has become for the Desertfest brand over the last decade-plus.

Tickets for each day are also on sale now — in case, what you want to see Acid King and not REZN? it’s okay, I’m not judging; I know people have lives and things to do — but it’s pretty clear looking at the full roster of who’ll play that Desertfest Oslo 2024 is all-in on the thing. And with KadavarMonolordCrippled Black Phoenix and Eyehategod headlining, they’ll rely on a multifaceted draw from the top down through the entire lineup. This feels both like a festival brand reaching into new territory and new collaborations — which it is, absolutely — and a righteous start to what could become a staple of the Spring touring circuit. Do I really need to go on about Norway’s underground boom? Probably not when a hand-picked selection of those responsible are present below to remind you.

Bottom line here is I look forward to seeing how this unfolds even from a distance, but whatever Desertfest Oslo does in the longer term, this is a monster. Behold:

desertfest oslo 2024 final poster

Finally the day splits are here!

As well as day splits we’ve also made single day tickets available from february 29th.

See you may!

Find single day tickets and festivaltickets here: https://www.ticketmaster.no/artist/desertfest-oslo-billetter/1277694

Full lineup:

Friday:
KADAVAR
Monolord
Wolves In The Throne Room
Acid King
Slomosa
Weedpecker
Håndgemeng
Orsak:Oslo
Kadabra
Earth Tongue
Bismarck
Karavan
Superlynx

Saturday:
CRIPPLED BLACK PHOENIX
Brant Bjork
EYEHATEGOD
REZN
The Devil And The Almighty Blues
Bongzilla
Full Earth
Margarita Witch Cult
Steak
Agabas
Saint Karloff
Apostle of Solitude
Suncraft

https://www.facebook.com/desertfestoslo
https://www.instagram.com/desertfest_oslo
https://www.desertfest.no/

Slomosa, “Rice”

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Quarterly Review: Deadpeach, SÂVER, Ruben Romano, Kosmodrom, The Endless, Our Maddest Edges, Saint Omen, Samsara Joyride, That Ship Has Sailed, Spiral Guru

Posted in Reviews on February 28th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

The-Obelisk-Quarterly-Review

Welcome to Wednesday of the Quarterly Review. If you’ve been here before — and I do this at least four times a year, so maybe you have and maybe you haven’t — I’m glad you’re back, and if not, I’m glad you’re here at all. These things are always an undertaking, and in a vacuum, I’m pretty sure busting out 10 shorter reviews per day would be a reasonably efficient process. I don’t live in a vacuum. I live vacuuming.

Metaphorically, at least. Looking around the room, it’s pretty obvious ‘vacuum life’ is intermittent.

Today we hit the halfway mark of this standard-operating-procedure QR, and we’ll get to 30 of the 50 releases to be covered by the time Friday is done or die trying, as that’s also the general policy. As always, I hope you find something in this batch of 10 that you dig. Doesn’t have to be any more of a thing than that. Doesn’t need to change your life, just maybe take the moment you’re in and make it a little better.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Deadpeach, The Cosmic Haze and the Human Race

Deadpeach The Cosmic Haze and the Human Race

A new full-length from Italian cosmic fuzz rockers Deadpeach doesn’t come along every day. Though the four-piece here comprised of guitarist/vocalist Giovanni Giovannini, guitarist Daniele Bartoli, bassist Mrsteveman and drummer Federico Tebaldi trace their beginnings back to 1993, the seven-song/37-minute exploration The Cosmic Haze and the Human Race is just their fourth full-length in that span of 31 years, following behind 2013’s Aurum (review here), though they haven’t been completely absent in that time, with the 2019 unplugged offering Waiting for Federico session (review here), 2022’s Live at Sidro Club, etc. But whether it’s the howling-into-the-void guitar over the methodical toms in the experimental-vibing closer “Loop (Set the Control to Mother Earth),” the mellower intro of “Madras” that leads both to chunky-style chug and the parade of classic-heavy buzz that is “Motor Peach,” what most comes through is the freedom of the band to do what they want in the psychedelic sphere. “Man on the Hill (The Fisherman and the Farmer)” tells its tale with blues rock swing while the subsequent “Cerchio” resolves Beatlesian with bouncy string and horn sounds and is its own realization at the center of the procession before the languid roll of “Monday” (so it goes) picks up its tempo later on. A mostly lo-fi recording still creates an atmosphere, and Deadpeach represent who they are in the weirdo space grunge of “Rust,” toying with influences from a desert that’s surely somewhere on another planet before “Loop (Set the Controls for Mother Earth)” turns repetition into mantra. They might be underrated forever, but Deadpeach only phase into our dimension intermittently and it’s worth appreciating them while they’re here.

Deadpeach on Facebook

Deadpeach website

SÂVER, From Ember and Rust

SAVER From Ember and Rust

In or out of post-metal and the aggressive end of atmospheric sludge, there are few bands currently active who deliver with the visceral force of Oslo’s SÂVER. From Ember and Rust is the second LP from the three-piece of Ole Ulvik Rokseth (guitar), Markus Støle (drums) and Ole Christian Helstad (bass/vocals), and while it signals growth in the synthy meditation worked into “I, Evaporate” after the lead-with-nod opener “Formless,” and the intentionally overwhelming djent chug that pays off the penultimate “The Object,” it is the consuming nature of the 43-minute entirety that is most striking, dynamic in its sprawl and thoughtful in arrangement both within and between its songs — the way the drone starts “Eliminate Distance” and returns to lull the listener momentarily out of consciousness before the bassy start of centerpiece “Ember and Rust” prompts a return ahead of its daring and successful clean vocal foray. That’s a departure, contextually speaking, but noteworthy even as “Primal One” lumbersmashes anything resembling hope to teeny tiny bits, leaving room in its seven minutes to catchy its breath amid grooving proggy chug and bringing back the melodic singing. As much as they revel in the caustic, there’s serenity in the catharsis of “All in Disarray” at the album’s conclusion, and as much as SÂVER are destructive, they’re cognizant of the world they’re building as part of that.

SÂVER on Facebook

Pelagic Records website

Ruben Romano, The Imaginary Soundtrack to the Imaginary Western Twenty Graves Per Mile

Ruben Romano The Imaginary Soundtrack to the Imaginary Western Twenty Graves Per Mile

Departing from the heavy psychedelic blues rock proffered by his main outfit The Freeks, multi-instrumentalist and elsewhere-vocalist Ruben Romano — who also drummed for Fu Manchu and Nebula in their initial incarnations — digs into Western aural themes on his cumbersomely-titled solo debut, The Imaginary Soundtrack to the Imaginary Western Twenty Graves Per Mile. To be clear, there is no movie called Twenty Graves Per Mile (yet), and the twice-over-imaginary nature of the concept lets Romano meander a bit in pieces like “Sweet Dream Cowboy” and “Ode to Fallen Oxen,” the latter of which tops its rambling groove with a line of delay twang, while “Chuck Wagon Sorrow” shimmers with outward simplicity with a sneaky depth to its mix (to wit, the space in “Not Any More”). At 10 songs and 27 minutes, the collection isn’t exactly what you’d call ‘feature length,’ but as it hearkens back to the outset with “Load the Wagon (Reprise)” bookending the opener, it is likewise cohesive in style and creative in arrangement, with Romano bringing in various shakers, mouth harp, effects and so on to create his ‘soundtrack’ with a classic Western feel and the inevitable lysergic current. Not as indie or desert chic as Spindrift, who work from a similar idea, but organic and just-came-in-covered-with-dust folkish just the same. If the movie existed, I’d be interested to know which of these tracks would play in the saloon.

Ruben Romano on Facebook

Ruben Romano on Bandcamp

Kosmodrom, Welcome to Reality

Kosmodrom Welcome to Reality

With the seven-minute “Earth Blues” left off the vinyl for want of room, German heavy psychedelic instrumentalists Kosmodrom put a color filter on existence with Welcome to Reality as much as on the cover, shimmering in “Dazed in Space” with a King Buffalo‘ed resonance such that the later, crunchier fuzz roll of “Evil Knievel” feels like a departure. While the three-piece are no doubt rooted in jams, Welcome to Reality presents finished works, following a clear plot in the 10-minute “Quintfrequenz” and the gradual build across the first couple minutes of “Landstreicher” — an intent that comes more into focus a short while later on “Novembersong” — before “Earth Blues” brings a big, pointed slowdown. They cap with “OM,” which probably isn’t named after the band but can be said to give hints in their direction if you want to count its use of ride cymbal at the core of its own build, and which in its last 40 seconds still manages to find another level of heft apparently kept in reserve all along. Well played. As their first LP since 2018, Welcome to Reality feels a bit like it’s reintroducing the band, and in listening, seems most of all to encourage the listener to look at the world around them in a different, maybe more hopeful way.

Kosmodrom on Facebook

Kosmodrom on Bandcamp

The Endless, The Endless

the endless the endless

Heads experienced in post-metal will be able to pick out elements like the Russian Circles gallop in The Endless‘ “Riven” or the Isis-style break the Edmonton-based instrumental unit veers into on “Shadows/Wolves” at the center of their self-titled debut, but as “The Hadeon Eon” — the title of which references the planet’s earliest and most volatile geological era — subtly invites the listener to consider, this is the band’s first recorded output. Formed in 2019, derailed and reconstructed post-pandemic, the four-piece of guitarists Teddy Palmer and Eddy Keyes, bassist James Palmer and drummer Jarred Muir are coherent in their stylistic intent, but not so committed to genre tenets as to forego the sweeter pleasure of the standalone guitar at the start of the nine-minute “Reflection,” soon enough subsumed though it is by the spacious lurch that follows. There and throughout, the band follow a course somewhere between post-metal and atmospheric sludge, and the punch of low end in “Future Archives,” the volume trades between loud and quiet stretches bring a sense of the ephemeral as well as the ethereal, adding character without sacrificing impact in the contrast. Their lack of pretense will be an asset as they continue to develop.

The Endless on Facebook

The Endless on Bandcamp

Our Maddest Edges, Peculiar Spells

Our Maddest Edges Peculiar Spells

Kudos if you can keep up with the shifts wrought from track to track on Our Maddest Edges‘ apparent first long-player, Peculiar Spells, as the Baltimorean solo-project spearheaded by Jeff Conner sets out on a journey of genuine eclecticism, bringing The Beatles and Queens of the Stone Age stylistically together and also featuring one of the several included duets on “Swirl Cone,” some grunge strum in “Hella Fucky” after the remake-your-life spoken/ambient intro “Thoughts Can Change,” a choral burst at the beginning of the spoken-word-over-jazz “Slugs,” which of course seems to be about screwing, as well as the string-laced acoustic-led sentimentality on “Red Giant,” the Casio beat behind the bright guitar plucks of “Frozen Season,” the full-tone riffs around which “I Ain’t Done” and “St. Lascivious” are built, and the sax included with the boogie of “The Totalitarian Tiptoe,” just for a few examples of the places its 12 component tracks go in their readily-consumable 37-minute runtime. Along with Conner are a reported 17 guests appearing throughout, among them Stefanie Zaenker (ex-Caustic Casanova). Info is sparse on the band and Conner‘s work more broadly, but his history in the punkish Eat Your Neighbors accounts for some of the post-hardcore at root here, and his own vocals (as opposed to those of the seven other singers appearing) seem to come from somewhere similar. Relatively quick listen, but not a minor undertaking.

Jeff Conner on Bandcamp

Saint Omen, Death Unto My Enemy

saint omen death unto my enemy

Rolling out with the ambient intro before beginning its semi-Electric Wizardly slog in “Taken by the Black,” Death Unto My Enemy is the 2023 debut from New York City’s Saint Omen. Issued by Forbidden Place Records, its gritty nod holds together even as “Evolution of the Demon” threatens to fall apart, samples filling out the spaces not occupied by vocals, communicating themes dark, violent, and occult in pieces like the catchy-despite-its-harsher-vocal “Destroyer” or the dark swirl of “Sinners Crawl.” Feeling darker as it moves through its 10 songs, it saves a particular grim experimentalism for closer “Descent,” but by the time Death Unto My Enemy gets there, surely your mind and soul have already been poisoned and reaped, respectively, by “The Seventh Gate,” “The Black Mass” and the penultimate title-track, that deeper down is the only place left to go. So that’s where you go; a humming abyss of anti-noise. Manhattan has never been a epicenter of cultish doom, but Saint Omen‘s abiding death worship and bleakness — looking at you, “Sleepness” — shift between dramaturge and dug-in lumber, and the balance is only intriguing for the rawness with which it is delivered, harsher in its purpose than sound, but still plenty harsh in sound.

Saint Omen on Facebook

Forbidden Place Records store

Samsara Joyride, The Subtle and the Dense

samsara joyride the subtle and the dense

The psychedelic aspects of Samsara Joyride‘s The Subtle and the Dense feel somewhat compartmentalized, but that’s not necessarily a detriment to the songs, as the solo that tops the drearily moderated tempo of “Too Many Preachers” or the pastoral tones that accompany the bluesier spirit of “Who Tells the Story” emphasize. The Austrian outfit’s second full-length, The Subtle and the Dense seems aware of its varied persona, but whether it’s the swaggering stops of “No One is Free” calling to mind Child or the sax and guest vocals that mark such a turn with “Safe and Sound” at the end, Samsara Joyride are firm in their belief that because something is bluesy or classic doesn’t necessarily mean it needs to be simple. From the layer of acoustic guitar worked into opener “I Won’t Sign Pt. 1” — their first album also had a two-parter, the second one follows directly here as track two — to the gang chorus worked in amid the atmospheric reach of “Sliver,” Samsara Joyride communicate a progressive take on traditionalist aesthetics, managing as few in this end of the heavy music realm ever do to avoid burly masculine caricature in the process. For that alone, easily worth the time to listen.

Samsara Joyride on Facebook

Samsara Joyride on Bandcamp

That Ship Has Sailed, Kingdom of Nothing

that ship has sailed kingdom of nothing

Like a check-in from some alternate-universe version of Fu Manchu who stuck closer to their beginnings in punk and hardcore, Californian heavy noise rockers That Ship Has Sailed tap volatility and riffy groove alike through the five songs of their Kingdom of Nothing EP, with an admirable lack of bullshit included within that net-zero assessment amid the physical push of riffs like “One-Legged Dog” or “Iron Eagle II” when the drums go to half-time behind the guitar and bass. It’s not all turn-of-the-century disaffection and ‘members of’ taglines though as “Iron Eagle II” sludges through its finish and “I Am, Yeah” becomes an inadvertent anthem for those who’ve never quite been able to keep their shit together, “Sweet Journey” becomes a melodic highlight while fostering the heaviest crash, and “Ready to Go” hits like a prequel to Nebula‘s trip down the stoner rock highway. Catchy in spite of its outward fuckall (or at least fuckmost), Kingdom of Nothing is more relatable than friendly or accessible, which feels about right. It’s cool guys. I never got my shit together either.

That Ship Has Sailed on Instagram

That Ship Has Sailed on Bandcamp

Spiral Guru, Silenced Voices

Spiral Guru Silenced Voices

The fourth EP in the 10-year history of Brazi’s Spiral Guru, who also released their Void long-player in 2019 and the “The Fantastic Hollow Man” single in 2021, Silenced Voices is distinguished immediately by the vocal command and range of Andrea Ruocco, and I’d suspect that if you’re already familiar with the band, you probably know that. Ruocco‘s voice, in its almost operatic use of breath to reach higher notes, carries some element of melodic metal’s grandeur, but Samuel Pedrosa‘s fuzz riffing and the fluid roll of bassist José Ribeiro and drummer Alexandre H.G. Garcia on the title-track avoid that trap readily, ending up somewhere between blues, psych, and ’70s swing on “Caves and Graves” but kept modern in the atmosphere fostered by Pedrosa‘s lead guitar. Another high-quality South American band ignored by the gringo-dude-dominant underground of Europe and the US? Probably, but I’m guilty too a decade after Spiral Guru‘s start, so all I can say is I’m doing my best out here. This band should probably be on Nuclear Blast by now. Stick around for “The Cabin Man” and you’d best be ready to dance.

Spiral Guru on Facebook

Spiral Guru on Bandcamp

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Full Earth Premiere “Echo Tears”; Cloud Sculptors Out March 15

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on February 7th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

FULL EARTH Cloud Sculptors

Norwegian progressive instrumentalists Full Earth will make their full-length debut with the 2LP Cloud Scuptors on March 15. The Oslo-based outfit release through respected purveyor Stickman Records, which makes them labelmates to Elder, Iron Jinn and King Buffalo — Stickman is also the ancestral home of Norwegian prog dispensers Motorpsycho, which will be relevant shortly — and like each of those outfits, Full Earth have their own take on a progressive heavy ideology. To call it expansive is to say the least of it.

There’s been a palpable buzz around Full Earth, and reasonably so. With the three members of Kanaan all involved — guitarist Ask Vatn Strøm, bassist Eskild Myrvoll, and drummer/project spearhead Ingvald André Vassbø — alongside bassist Simen Wie and organist/synthesist Øystein Aadland, the five-piece seemed to be immediately embraced as part of that band’s ongoing momentum. Before a song was released, let alone word of Cloud Sculptors or more details about the project’s prog-honoring, sometimes-longform, deeply methodical approach, the band were popping up on festival bills for Spring 2024, and indeed, they’ll be at Desertfest in Oslo and Berlin as well as Roadburn, with Freak Valley in Germany this June and Down the Hill in Belgium in August and probably tours hither and yon as well.

The actual arrival of the album, then, is anticipated. Full Earth meet that electric undercurrent with a massive glut of headspinning prog and other atmospheric and purposeful explorations. The bulk of Cloud Sculptors‘ feature-length 85 minute runtime resides in its most extended pieces: opener “Full Earth Pt. I – Emanation” and the title-track for a 40-minute one-two pairing at the start of the record. This initial impression, the runs of keyboard notes alongside sustained distortion and feedback around 14 minutes into the leadoff, or the bounce of organ that sweetly starts “Cloud Sculptors” hinting at some of the vintage-synthery both of the largely-melancholy-in-the-Lake-era-King-Crimson-tradition “The Collective Unconscious” (18:37) and the exploratory “Echo Tears,” which premieres below.

You would be hard-pressed to find someone less qualified than I to discuss the work of Daniel Lopatin or probably any number of the other krautrock and classic prog influences under which Full Earth are operating, but what you really need to know in listening to the album is everything’s under control. Yeah, Full Earth are kind of doing for krautrock and the headier end of kosmiche what Earthless did for classic heavy in cherrypicking stylistic aspects and blowing them out to epic proportion while staying conscious enough to actually guide the listener. But it’s that last part that’s the most important, because what most affects the listening experience is the skill with which Full Earth execute these pieces.full earth echo tears

I won’t pretend that “Full Earth Pt. I – Emanation” or its closing counterpart “Full Earth PT. II – Disintegration,” “The Collective Unconscious” or “Cloud Sculptors” itself aren’t overwhelming. They absolutely are and I think that’s the point; operating under the “put it out now and let them spend the next six years picking it apart” ethic, and indeed Cloud Sculptors might be densely packed enough at its most intense to provide fodder for a long-term deep-dive (if they do more records, I expect the phrase “long term deep dive” to come up again as a summation of their career arc), while remaining dynamic in the starts-peaceful “Full Earth Pt. II – Disintegration” and “Weltgeist,” which makes me want to put on a lounge jacket and make a documentary about space with all the latest science 1976 has to offer, speaking in clear, Saganian tones about the mysteries of the universe while Full Earth remind that at its heart all of the cosmos is math.

It is rare that a debut album comes with such a sense of mastery, and Cloud Sculptors has purpose to match. Each song, each change, a little swap in the drums or on keys in that all-in immersive rollout at the start, is in its place and keyed to bring as much to the proceedings as possible. They’re willing to reside in parts, as a band with 20-minute songs had better be, but cognizant of the listener’s place in and interaction with the material. Songs unfold in movements, ideas fluidly melding with graceful performances, a marked heft in reserve for when it’s needed, and guide the listener through Cloud Sculptors‘ otherwise staggeringly complex path. They might be pairing the half-time drums and what sounds like double-time guitar on “The Collective Unconscious” or making aural references that at very least I’ll probably never get, but you can also put on the album and Full Earth, through the music itself, act as a guide to get you safely from one end to the other. So while it’s a lot to take on, you can also roll with it as Full Earth quickly earn a trust that can’t be faked.

In talking about “Echo Tears” under the player below, Vassbø talks about using instruments “to their full extent.” That’s a classic prog phrase and mentality. He’s pushing himself and the instrument(s) as part of the same drive, trying to “get as much out” of the drums, organ, whatever it might be. Keep that in mind as you listen to “Echo Tears,” which is drumless and comparatively minimal next to “The Collective Unconscious” before or “Full Earth Pt. II – Disintegration” after. Because it doesn’t just have to mean playing fast, or making a part as busy as it can be, but utilizing a given instrument as a tool of emotive expression or sonic exploration, as seems to be the case with this track. And no, “Echo Tears” doesn’t represent the whole crux of Cloud Sculptors‘ 85 minutes — how could it? — in terms of basic sound, but as you listen to the track, know that Full Earth‘s ability to carry the listener through its atmospheric contemplations absolutely does.

The potential here is vast, and it’s difficult not to think of what Full Earth might accomplish in the future based on their achievements here, but worth staying in the moment as you listen.

As always, I hope you enjoy:

Full Earth, “Echo Tears’ track premiere

Full Earth (Photo by Thea Grant)

Echo Tears is the second single from the up and coming experimental rock band Full Earth’s debut album, Cloud Sculptors. Album preorders launch Feb. 9 via www.stickman-records.com.

The tune is one out of two shorter organ-compositions from the album that are more inspired by electronic and modernist classical music. The song is an echo-jam for Full Earth’s combo-organs in the style of Oneohtrix Point Never’s early releases, and an attempt to adapt this cosmic style for fluttery organs. The French band Heldon and Laurie Spiegels Expanding Universe are two other important references. The organ-arpeggios, recorded by Øystein Aadland and Ingvald Vassbø in their rehearsal space, feels like they are levitating and circling freely in the air. One goes into a trance and the insisting and repetitive music grows continuously. In a mechanical but analog way, always towards an ecstatic vision. Echo Tears is exploring another edge of the Full Earth-universe than the band’s first single Cloud Sculptors did, and shows how wide and multicoloured the bands’ pallet at times can be.

Says Ingvald Vassbø: «A few years ago, I was totally in love with the early and cosmic synth-works of Daniel Lopatin, and listened to it almost every night before going to sleep. It was a really fun process to let myself be inspired by that music, make some kind of echo-jam in that vein and record it together with Øystein in our rehearsal space. We got really inspired, and I really feel that we managed to utilize our instruments, my Terry Riley-organ, Øystein’s Farfisa and our tape-echo to their full extent.»

Cloud Sculptors tracklisting:
1. Full Earth Pt. I – Emanation (21:06)
2. Cloud Sculptors (20:05)
3. Weltgeist (6:08)
4. The Collective Unconscious (18:37)
5. Echo Tears (5:36)
6. Full Earth Pt. II – Disintegration (13:46)

The fantastic “Echo Tears” artwork is made by Sunniva Hårstad
Pre save: https://bfan.link/echo-tears

Full Earth live:
18.04 – @rare_guitar Münster 🇩🇪
19.04 – Magazine 4 Brüssel 🇧🇪
20.04 – @roadburnfest , Tilburg 🇳🇱
22.04 – @le3pieces , Rouen 🇫🇷
23.04 – @linternational_paris Paris 🇫🇷
24.04 – Venue tbc, Köln 🇩🇪
25.04 – @trauma_marburg Marburg 🇩🇪
26.04 – Freaques de la Musique, Bremen 🇩🇪
27.04 – @husetkbh , København 🇩🇰
10.05 – @sonic_whip , Nijmegen 🇳🇱
11.05 – @desertfest_oslo 🇳🇴
23.05 – @gjovikkinoogscene 🇳🇴
24.05 – @lokal.trhm , Trondheim 🇳🇴
26.05 – @desertfest_berlin 🇩🇪
29.05 – Blauer Salon/Hausbar, Tübingen 🇩🇪
30.05 – @freakvalleyfestival Netphen 🇩🇪
30.05 – Posten, Odense 🇩🇰
31.05 – @esbjerg_fuzztival l 🇩🇰
31.08 – @downthehillfestival Rilaar 🇧🇪

Full Earth are:
Øystein Aadland – farfisa organ, yamaha yc30 organ, mellotron, synthesizer
Ask Vatn Strøm – guitars
Simen Wie – electric bass, additional guitar
Eskild Myrvoll – additional guitar, korg MS-20 synthesizer, noise
Ingvald Vassbø – drums, yamaha yc30 organ

Full Earth, Cloud Sculptors (2024)

Full Earth on Facebook

Full Earth on Instagram

Full Earth on Bandcamp

Stickman Records website

Stickman Records on Facebook

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Desertfest Oslo 2024 Makes Second Lineup Announcement

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 4th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

You knew there were going to be a ton of Norwegian bands. Honestly, why have a Desertfest Oslo if you’re not going to celebrate the host country’s generational boom of native acts? The Devil and the Almighty Blues — who just rule live; they’re so good — lead the Norse charge here, but Saint Karloff, Superlynx, Suncraft, Karavan and Håndgemeng have been brought on as well. These join the previously-announced ranks of Kadavar and Monolord, the Brant Bjork Trio and Acid KingBismarck and Full Earth and so on as the lineup begins to take shape for the inaugural Scandinavian edition of Desertfest.

They say there’s more to come, and I believe it. Desertfest Oslo 2024 is May 10 and 11. If you can get there, I’m not sure why you wouldn’t. I’ve been keeping up both with the Desertfest Oslo socials as much as possible as well as those of the Oslo fall fest Høstsabbat, whose behind-the-scenes team are at least in-part involved here.

Oh yeah and Eyehategod are playing. There is that little detail. Ha.

To wit:

Desertfest Oslo 2024 second poster

DESERTFEST OSLO- New band announcement!

Norway has so much talent on offer these days, it would be anything but fair to exclude our own horde of bands on the first Desertfest Oslo.

We are super proud to announce the return of the Tired Old Dogs in The Devil And The Almighty Blues to our domestic live scene. This bunch of legends haven’t played Oslo since 2019, and we simply can’t wait to see their blues-laden excellence on stage again.

The other Norwegian acts following this announcement are all extraordinary examples of the diversity found in our bursting scene:

Karavan bring the filth, Håndgemeng bring the party, Saint Karloff bring the groove and Superlynx bring the laidback jams while Suncraft bring the energy.

Highly recommended every single one of them.

BUT – let’s not forget!

EYEHATEGOD is coming

This true force of nature is bringing their NOLA sludge overseas, and all the way to Oslo next spring.

EHG will leave no mind untouched, or unblown for that matter.

RIFFS!🔥

More announcements to follow shortly!

https://www.facebook.com/desertfestoslo
https://www.instagram.com/desertfest_oslo
https://www.desertfest.no/

Saint Karloff, “Psychedelic Man” official video

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Desertfest Oslo 2024 Announces Initial Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 2nd, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Desertfest Oslo banner

Set across two days from May 10-11, the inaugural Desertfest Oslo has made its first lineup announcement, with German heavy rock magnates and now-four-piece Kadavar at the top of the thus-far bill with Monolord as the Swedish riff-huffers apparently will look to return to the road next year. Not a ton of names, but you’ll note those and a few other Desertfest veterans in Acid King and The Brant Bjork Trio (who obviously haven’t played Oslo but have appeared elsewhere under the Desertfest banner), as well as Norway’s own Full Earth, Bismarck (new LP in 2024?) and Agabas rounding out the initial salvo in representing Oslo and the surround country’s vibrant and varied native underground.

A bit of behind-the-scenes fun here as well. This past weekend in Oslo was the annual Høstsabbat Festival, and part of the team behind that event held each year at the Kulturkirken Jacob is also involved in putting together Desertfest Oslo 2024. So after no doubt working on the two at the same time, they’ve now finished one event and almost immediately begun announcements for the next. This is the cycle of festival seasons in Europe now, and that team is not the only crew in the heavy underground with more than one multi-day lineup in progress at the same time.

There are more names to come — certainly Norway has a ton of bands; I’d be surprised if Norna didn’t get added, and Slomosa seem like an absolute must — but there’s time for such things and tickets are on sale in the meantime if you’re either up for making early travel plans (I am) or just looking to spend a bit of cash. It will be interesting to see how this complements Desertfest London and Desertfest Berlin as those two begin their announcements as well for next Spring. Going to be a busy season, I think, but most are.

From social media:

desertfest oslo 2024 first poster

Finally! (#127797#)

It´s time to reveal the first band announcement for the first Scandinavian Desertfest edition ever.

And man, what a start!

We are more than thrilled to present this first batch of bands, including massive Desert-legends such as Acid King and Brant Bjork Trio, the ultra riff-worship from Monolord, German groove-excellence from the lords in KADAVAR, and steaming local talent from Agabas and Bismarck, and to top it off, the new outlet spawning out from wünder-group Kanaan, Full Earth!

This weekend in May will treat you with the best of the best, leaving no amps unturned(#128293#)

Ordinary tickets out now!

More to follow soon..

https://www.facebook.com/desertfestoslo
https://www.instagram.com/desertfest_oslo
https://www.desertfest.no/

Kadavar, Live in Bremen, Germany, April 16, 2023

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Høstsabbat 2023: Ruff Majik and Witchcraft Added; Lineup Complete

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 28th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

The last two bands added to Høstsabbat 2023 are Ruff Majik, who put out one of 2023’s best heavy rock records in this Spring’s Elektrik Ram (review here), and perennial top-of-bill features Witchcraft. Together with the likes of Lowrider, Yawning Man, Moonstone, Black Rainbows, LLNN, Bongripper and a mountain of others, these two fill out the 10th anniversary edition of the Oslo-based festival, which in the last decade has grown and expanded its palette even as it has reinforced the intimacy that is so much a part of its appeal. Thinking of that basement in the Kulturkirken Jacob. I don’t know if Ruff Majik will be down there, but if they are, I bet it’s to headline, and if they do, I bet it’ll be a rager. The stuff of which legends are made.

As for Witchcraft, it’s been three years since 2020’s acoustic Black Metal (review here) and nearly 20 since their 2004 self-titled debut (discussed here), but they continue to deliver in the live setting, founder Magnus Pelander one of his generation’s most influential figures in European heavy rock. Surely a welcome addition to any bill, including this one.

This is it for Høstsabbat 2023. I’m sorry to say I won’t be there this year — scheduling conflict — but I wish everyone who is the very best of times, and I’ve got a whole other t-shirt that I bought last year that I’ve been saving. Might be time to break it out as I console myself that weekend in late October.

From socials:

Hostsabbat 2023 ruff majik

(#128293#)RUFF MAJIK (SA)(#128293#)

Sabbathians!

It´s time for our final band announcement, and Oh Yes!

It sure brings some perfectly timed party spice to our lineup.

Hailing from South Africa, Ruff Majik have brought their high energy rock show to stages across Europe for quite some time, gaining them a massive live reputation as a definite must-see. It´s pure rock n´roll with an almost sassy vibe to it. Joyful and melodic with a feelgood kind of aggression. You will probably end up dancing!

Ruff Majik have been on our wish list for years now, and luckily, some times the stars align, and this time they actually just did. Being able to add Ruff Majik last minute, gives our lineup the perfect balance. It has all the ingredients a 10-year-anniversary should have, and we can not wait to welcome you to church a good month from now.

Speaking of that.

Many of you are asking for the day splits, and we are almost ready to share the schedule with you.

Those who show up at our event at Vaterland tonight will have a sneak peak, and the rest of you will be enlightened this coming Friday.

Hostsabbat 2023 Witchcraft

(#128293#)WITCHCRAFT (SE)(#128293#)

Witchcraft, take one!

Those three words, coming from the mouth of Magnus Pelander in a what seems to be a live studio-session, followed by the instant-classic riffery of the self titled song «Witchcraft», from their equally named album:

That was how Witchcraft introduced themselves to a new horde of doom heads.

That was how Witchcraft managed to conquer a new era of proto-doomers, following the path of former legends such as Pentagram, Witchfinder General, Sir Lord Baltimore and so on.

It was a formative time for many of the bands seen on top of the festival bills today. That obviously counts for Witchcraft as well.

They were the leaders, not the followers.

There is absolutely zero doubt of the impact these guys have had on our scene.

Zero.

Witchcraft however, did not get stuck in the swamp of lo-fi proto-doom for much too long.

Their incredible albums «Legend» and «Nucleus» from 2012 and 2016 marked a transition in sound, steering Witchcraft in a slightly more modern direction, but still keeping all their key elements intact.

The marvelous vocals of Magnus Pelander are always present, as is his top shelf riffs.

These God -given qualities, along with clever arrangements and forward thinking instrumentation, have secured Witchcraft a top slot for years to come.

We are dead proud and psyched to present such a legendary band to our Church of Riffs, honoring our anniversary in the best possible way.

Please welcome Witchcraft to Høstsabbat 2023(#128165#)

TICKETS
https://bit.ly/HS-festivalticket23

SPOTIFY PLAYLIST
https://spoti.fi/3tkuMZl

NEWSLETTER
https://bit.ly/HostsabbatNews

https://www.facebook.com/hostsabbat/
https://www.instagram.com/hostsabbat/
http://hostsabbat.no/

Høstsabbat Spotify Playlist

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