Suncraft Premiere “Bridges to Nowhere”; Flat Earth Rider out Aug. 6

Posted in audiObelisk on July 26th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

suncraft

Norwegian heavy rockers Suncraft release their debut album, Flat Earth Rider, on Aug. 6 through All Good Clean Records. In the vast annals of modern conspiracy theory, those who are committed to the notion of the planet being a disc which one might one day go off the side — ridiculous; reality as a holographic simulation, on the other hand… — are ultimately harmless, at least in comparative terms, and as Suncraft‘s first full-length following behind a few Spotify-able singles likewise content to dig into its own stylistic niche, throw a burly elbow here and there en route to hard-hitting, forward push hooks, but especially early on in “Flat Earth Rider” and “Space Buddha,” the Oslo four-piece seem to be exploring their way through songwriting toward establishing their sound and discovering who they are as a band. The double-guitars of Sigurd Grøtan and Vebjørn Rindal Krogstad lead that charge and boast duly charged leads, while bassist Rasmus Skage Jensen serves vocal duties and drummer Tobias Paulsen patiently awaits the next change requiring a fluid transition, leading the riffs from inside the pocket.

Jensen‘s vocals get into gruffer fare in “Flat Earth Rider,” centerpiece “Lingo Hive Mind,” and here and there throughout “Commie Cannibals and even the more spacious “Adaptation” ahead of the 11-minute closer “Bridges to Nowhere” (premiering below), but the delivery is more dynamic than, say, a cleaner verse and shouted chorus, or vice versa. It might Suncraft Flat Earth Riderbe a line or two with a throatier delivery, then back to a burgeoning melody making a song like “Space Buddha” or “Lingo Hive Mind” less predictable for the single fact that one is less sure where it’s going to turn next, even if the underlying structures are largely straightforward. These clever arrangements, coupled with the ability of the guitars to push the energy of a song forward with a sense of build to which the drums are only suited, help to give Flat Earth Rider its sonic persona, which doesn’t seem to be taking itself too seriously but can bear significant heft when inclined to do so, as in the rolling chorus of “Commie Cannibals” or the early verses of “Bridges to Nowhere,” which opens in its midsection to more complex melodic layering before surging outward and paying off the touches of metallic aggression and progressive heavy rock that have shown themselves across the six-song span to that point.

That span is manageable at 37 minutes and of course vinyl-ready with the atmospheric echo of “Adaptation” signifying a shift to side B even digitally, but that movement becomes important to someone making their way through the entirety, and it feels like another level on which Suncraft‘s potential shines through. The rougher-edged moments bring to mind Orange Goblin from the title-track onward, and “Flat Earth Rider” indeed sets the tone for side A with the hooks of “Space Buddha,” “Lingo Hive Mind” — for which I’d love to read the lyrics; getting a very “guess I’ll go live on the internet” kind of vibe from what I can discern — and the more weighted, longer “Commie Cannibals” acting as a bookend for what’s almost the first of two mini-albums, with “Adaptation” and “Bridges to Nowhere” serving as the second, broader in ambition but holding to a lack of pretense on the whole. All of this rounds out to an affect that makes me less concerned about where Suncraft are going — surely not off the end of the earth — than where they are now.

Their songcraft is obviously in capable hands, and their performance is energetic without losing the thread of its own purpose in being part of the larger album as a whole. If you were looking for an encouraging debut from a relative-newcomer heavy rock band, well, that’s one thing you can tick off your to-do list for today. Cheers. Take the rest of the afternoon off.

Enjoy “Bridges to Nowhere” on the player below, followed by some comment from the band and more info from the PR wire.

Dive in:

Suncraft on “Bridges to Nowhere”:

“Bridges to Nowhere” is the closing track on Suncraft’s debut album, Flat Earth Rider. A ten-minute, ever-changing epic, the song is a journey of a listen, not holding back on anything the band has to offer. Heavy stoner rock riffs, impactful build-ups, thrash-metal-like choruses, riveting guitar solos and intense blast-beats are some of the features to expect. Lyrically, the song is about alienation from a commodity-based society, as seldom knowing where the commodities we buy come from, who made them and why, can make us feel disconnected from others. The song gradually turns from despair to hope and optimism, insisting that a better future is possible.

“Flat Earth Rider” was produced, mixed and mastered by Ruben Willem (The Good The Bad and The Zugly, Okkultokrati, Djevel, etc…) and features six unique tracks that show Suncraft combining elements from groovy stoner rock and riff-based heavy metal.

Since late 2017, this Oslo-based quartet have played their fair share of club shows in the nooks and crannies of Norway, honing the craft of playing explosively energetic concerts. After releasing released their debut EP, “Saigon” in 2019, the live-performances abruptly ended due to Covid-19. Turning the blow of the pandemic into a positive, the boys put all their efforts into writing their debut album, “Flat Earth Rider” and as soon as the world is safe enough, Suncraft will hit the road again and bring their unique flavor of rock n’ roll to a growing audience.

Line-up:
Rasmus Skage Jensen: Bass/Vocal
Tobias Paulsen: Drums
Sigurd Grøtan: Guitar
Vebjørn Rindal Krogstad: Guitar

Suncraft on Facebook

Suncraft on Instagram

Suncraft on Spotify

All Good Clean Records on Facebook

All Good Clean Records website

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Dig Deeper Sign to Vinter Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 12th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

Even as the test pressing for the label’s first release comes in, Norway’s Vinter Records continues to add to its roster. The latest is Dig Deeper from Oslo, whose pedal-steel-inflected melodic twang rock can be heard on their third album, 2017’s In Central European Time, streaming on the Soundcloud player below. I’m only excited to admit the four-piece are new to me, but their psychedelia shimmers with tonal brightness and the intent toward warmth and organic spirit of what they do comes through pretty immediately. They haven’t had anything out since this record, so far as I can tell, but their follow-up will presumably arrive in 2022, and that’s something to look forward to.

While we’re talking about digging, I dig the fact that Dig Deeper come across like a polar opposite of Vinter‘s prior signing, Norna, whose bleak ritualization would seem to be far, far removed from the whimsical conversational interplay of lead and backing vocals on “Stars Tonight (Have You Seen).” Of course, the underlying message there is that this isn’t a label looking to do just one thing, even as their first several pickups — MoE (whose test pressings have arrived), Norna and now Dig Deeper — are all Norwegian countrymen. Gotta start somewhere, and fortunately there’s plenty of sonic diversity to work with.

To wit, do my ears hear a little bit of All Them Witches in Dig Deeper‘s In Central European Time? I’m on board with the vibe either way.

Announcement follows:

dig deeper

We’re really excited to share the signing of Oslo´s finest hippie cult. The mighty fine addition of groove rockers Dig Deeper, sparkle our roster with drips of californian lifestyle rock, mixed with a sweet touch of modern americana!

Dig Depper is already a household name all over Norway and we hope that this collaboration will make them reach new heights, and we assure you that their next album is gonna be lit!

https://www.facebook.com/DigDeeperNorway
https://www.facebook.com/vinterrecords
https://www.instagram.com/vinter_records/
http://vinterrecords.com/

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Quarterly Review: The Vintage Caravan, Oslo Tapes, Filthy Hippies, Dunbarrow, Djinn, Shevils, Paralyzed, Black Spirit Crown, Intraveineuse, Void Tripper

Posted in Reviews on July 7th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

the-obelisk-fall-2016-quarterly-review

Day Three. The kinds of material covered have varied, but it’s been pretty good so far, which as you can probably imagine makes this whole process much, much easier. Today would traditionally be hump day, where we hit and surpass the halfway mark, but since this is a double-size Quarterly Review, we’re only a quarter of the way there. Still a long way to go, but I’ve got decent momentum in my head at this point and I’ve taken steps not to make the workload crushing on any given day (this mostly involved working last weekend, thanks to The Patient Mrs. for the extra time), so I’m not feeling overly rushed either. Which is welcome.

In that spirit, let’s get to it.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

The Vintage Caravan, Monuments

the vintage caravan monuments

To every sorrowful head who bemoans the state of rock and roll as being dead, who misses big songs, bands unafraid to groove, to engage their audience, to change things up and stay anchored to a vital spirit of the live experience, the answer is The Vintage Caravan. Monuments is the Icelandic trio’s follow-up to 2018’s Gateways (review here) and it opens with a righteous four-song mission-statement salvo from “Whispers” to “Dark Times” before mellowing out in “This One’s for You” and diving into the eight-minute centerpiece “Forgotten” — later answered by the more subdued but likewise proggy closer “Clarity” — before the hard-hitting shuffle renews on side B with “Sharp Teeth,” “Hell” and “Torn in Two” try to outdo each other in has-the-most-swagger and “Said & Done” sneaks in ahead of the finale to walk away with that particular title. Suitably enough. Momentum is almost a detriment to the proceedings, since the songs are worth individual attention, but among the classic tenets here is leave-’em-wanting-more, and The Vintage Caravan do, no question.

The Vintage Caravan on Facebook

Napalm Records website

 

Oslo Tapes, ØR

Oslo Tapes ØR

First thing to note? Oslo Tapes are not from Oslo. Or Trondheim, for that matter. Founded by Marco Campitelli in Italy, the band is a work of homage and exploration of ideas born out of a trip to Oslo — blessings and peace upon the narrative — and ØR, which is Norwegian for “confusing,” is their third album. It arrives loaded with textures from electro-krautrock and ’70s space modernized through to-day’s post-heavy, a breathy delivery from Campitelli giving a song like “Kosmik Feels” an almost goth-wave presence while the harder-landing “Bodø Dakar,” which follows, shifts with pointed rhythm into a textured percussion jam in its second half, with ethereal keys still behind. The shimmering psychedelia of “Norwegian Dream” comes paired with “Exotic Dreams” late in the record’s eight-track procession, and while the latter emphasizes Oslo Tapes‘ can-go-anywhere sensibility with horn sounds and vague, drumless motion, the hard dance in closer “Obsession is the Mother of All” really seems to be the moment of summary here. That must’ve been some trip.

Oslo Tapes on Facebook

Pelagic Records on Bandcamp

 

Filthy Hippies, Departures

filthy hippies departures

Clocking in at 15 tracks and 77 minutes of deeply varied cosmic fuckery, from the motorik push of “Your Are the Sun” to the ’90s Britgaze stylizations of “Mystified” to the twanging central guitar figure of “The Air is Poison” and onward into the blowout kosmiche echo “Sweet Dreams and Nicotine” and chic the-underground-is-actually-made-of-velvet “Like a Halo” ahead of the Hawkwind-on-ludes “I’m Buggin’ Out,” Filthy HippiesDepartures at very least gets points for having the right title. Departs from everything. Reality, itself, you. The whole nine. The good news is the places it goes have a unifying element of grunge laziness woven throughout them, like Filthy Hippies just rolled out of bed and this material just happened — and maybe that’s how it went — and the journey they make, whistling as they go on “Among the Wire” and ending up in the wistful wash of “Empty Spaces” is a joy to follow. Heady. More purposeful than it’s letting on. Not a minor investment, but not a minor reward either.

Filthy Hippies on Facebook

Mongrel Records website

 

Dunbarrow, III

Dunbarrow III

Long since in command of their aesthetic, Norway’s Dunbarrow embark on III, their third long-player, with a full realization of their purpose. Recorded by the five-piece in Spring 2020 and left to gestate for a year’s time, it’s having been unearthed is suitable to the classic doom vibe wrought throughout the eight tracks, but Dunbarrow‘s sound is more vintage in structure than production at this point, and the shifting balance between ‘then’ and ‘now’ in what they do imagines what might’ve been if self-titled era Witchcraft had retained its loyalty to the tenets of Sabbath/Pentagram while continuing to grow its songcraft, such that “Worms of Winter” both is and is decidedly not “Snowblind,” while “Lost Forever” embarks on its own roll and “Turn in Your Grave” makes for an organ-laced folkish highlight, fitting in its cult atmosphere and setting up the rawer finish in “Turns to Dust.” This is who Dunbarrow are, and what they do, they do exceedingly well.

Dunbarrow on Facebook

Blues for the Red Sun Records on Facebook

 

Djinn, Transmission

Djinn Transmission

The year is 2076. The world’s first Whole Earth parliament has come together to bask in the document Transmission, originating in Gothenburg, Sweden, at the behest of an entity known only as Djinn and respected purveyor Rocket Recordings. It is believed that in fact Transmission and its eight component freak jazz psychedelia tracks were not written at the time of their first release some 55 years earlier, but, as scholars have come to theorize after more than a half-century of rigorous, consistent study, it is a relic of another dimension. Someplace out of place, some time out of time as humanity knows it. So it is that “Creators of Creation” views all from an outsider’s eagle eye, and “Urm the Mad” squees its urgency as if to herald the serenity of “Love Divine” to come, voices echoing up through the surcosmic rift through which Djinn sent along this Transmission. What was their purpose? Why make contact? And what is time for such creatures? Are they us? Are we them? Are we alone? Are we “Orpheus?” Wars have been fought over easier questions.

Djinn on Bandcamp

Rocket Recordings website

 

Shevils, Miracle of the Sun

shevils miracle of the sun

Their third album, ShevilsMiracle of the Sun renews the band’s collaboration with producer Marcus Forsgren, which obviously given the sound of the record, was not broken. With a tidy 10 songs in 32 minutes, the Oslo-based four-piece deliver a loyal reading of heavy hardcore riffing minus much of the chestbeating or dudely pretense that one might otherwise encounter. They’ve got it nailed, and the break as “Monsters on TV” squibblies out is a forceful but pleasant turn, especially backed by the pure noise rock of “Scandinavian Death Star.” The band plays back and forth between heft and motion throughout, offering plenty of both in “Wet Soaking Wet” and “Ride the Flashes,” hitting hard but doing more than just hitting at the same time. Topped with fervent shouts, Shevils feels urgent in manner that to my ears recalls West Coast US fare like Akimbo, but is nonetheless the band’s own, ranging into broader soundscapes on “No More You” and anti-shred on “It Never Ends,” the only two cuts here over four minutes long. No time to screw around.

Shevils on Facebook

Shevils on Bandcamp

 

Paralyzed, Paralyzed

paralyzed paralyzed

If they haven’t been yet — and they may have — it’s entirely likely that by the time I’m done writing this sentence some record label or other will have picked up Paralyzed to release their self-titled debut album on vinyl. The Bamberg, Germany-based four-piece bring classic heavy metal thunder to still-Sabbathian doom rock, casting their lot in with the devil early on “Lucifer’s Road (My Baby and Me),” which feels like as much a statement of aesthetic purpose as it does a righteous biker riff. It’s by no means the sum-total of what’s on offer in a more extended piece like “Prophets” or side B’s rumble-and-roll-plus-wah-equals-doom “Mother’s Only Son,” but the brash fare they bring to light on “Green Eyes” and the post-lizard king-turns-Purple spirit of “Golden Days” tie in well with the toss-your-hair-in-the-wind, how’d-that-hole-get-in-my-jeans spirit of the release on the whole. They start instrumental with the eponymous “Paralyzed,” but vocals are a focus point, and as they round out with the rawer “Parallel,” their command of ’70s heavy is all the more evident. They signed yet? Give it another minute, if not.

Paralyzed on Facebook

Paralyzed on Bandcamp

 

Black Spirit Crown, Gravity

Black Spirit Crown Gravity

Admittedly, I’m late to the party on Black Spirit Crown‘s 2020 debut full-length, Gravity, but as one will when in orbit, it’s easy to be pulled in by the record. The Ohio-based two-piece of Dan Simone (vocals, guitar, theremin, dulcimer) and Chris Martin (vocals, keys & programming, bass) — plus guitar spots from Joe Fortunato (Doomstress, ex-Venomin James) — flourish over longform progressive heavy rock pieces like “Doomstar” and “Orb,” both over eight minutes, and the 21:10 closing title-track, which well earns having the album named after it for its consuming balance between aural weight, darkness of atmosphere and tone, and breadth. Before the last several minutes give way to droning noise, “Gravity” counterbalances the metallic underpinning of “Saga” and the rush of the penultimate “Teutates,” its patience singular even among the other longer cuts, balanced in alternating fashion with the shorter. Peppered-in growls make the proceedings less predictable on the whole, and feel like one more strength working in favor of these complex compositions.

Black Spirit Crown on Facebook

Black Spirit Crown on Bandcamp

 

Intraveineuse, Chronicles of an Inevitable Outcome

intraveineuse chronicles of an inevitable outcome

Parisian instrumentalists Intraveineuse make a strong statement with their 32-minute/single-song debut EP, Chronicles of an Inevitable Outcome, the feeling of aftermath — regret? — permeating the goth-doom atmosphere coming through in tectonically-dense riffs as well as the piano that offsets them. France would seem to have a post-Type O Negative standard-bearer in Hangman’s Chair, but to discount Intraveineuse on that basis is to miss out on the flowing, immersive progression the band emit on this already-sold-out tape, working in three distinct movements to find their own place within the style, building momentum gradually until the last payoff cuts itself short, as if to emphasize there’s more to come. Hopefully, anyhow. EP or LP, debuts with this kind of scope are rare and not to be overlooked, and though there are stretches where one can hear where vocals might go, Intraveineuse ably steer “Chronicles of an Inevitable Outcome” through its various parts with natural-sounding fluidity.

Intraveineuse website

Intraveineuse on Bandcamp

 

Void Tripper, Dopefiend

Void Tripper Dopefiend

Grim, gritty and ghastly, Void Tripper is the debut full-length from Brazil’s Void Tripper, comprised of five tracks marked by the shared/alternating vocals of guitarists Mário Fonteles and Anastácio Júnior. The former gurlges on opener “Devil’s Reject” while the latter complements with a cleaner take on the subsequent “Burning Woods,” setting up the back and forth that plays out in the remaining three tracks, “Hollow,” “Satan & Drugs” and “Comatose.” With the lumbering bass and drums of Jonatas Monte and Gabriel Mota, respectively, as the thickened foundation beneath the riffs, there are shades throughout of Electric Wizard and other acts to be heard, but it’s Sabbath-worshiping sludge one way or the other, and Void Tripper willingly head into that void with a dense fog preceding them and a bleak mood that does nothing if it doesn’t feel suited to our times. Riffy disaffection writ large. You wouldn’t call it groundbreaking, but you’d nod the fuck out.

Void Tripper on Facebook

Abraxas on Facebook

 

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Psychonaut & SÂVER Post Emerald Studio Playthroughs From Roadburn Redux

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 24th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

saver stream

psychonaut stream

Psychonaut and SÂVER‘s Emerald split LP (review here) is out now on Pelagic Records. Both bands last month took part in their label’s showcase for Roadburn Redux, each one with a prior-filmed performance of their respective piece from the split. For Belgium’s Psychonaut, “The Great Realisation” broadened their reach in terms of sound, and “Dimensions Lost, Obscured by Aeons” did much the same for Norway’s SÂVER, the two bands alike in a forward-thinking mindset if not directly sharing a ton of elements sound-wise beyond perhaps falling under the catchall of “heavy.”

So be it. Various Roadburn Redux streams have started to surface and be made public — Tau‘s was posted here not so long ago — and the arrival of these two clips is another chance to revisit what was for me a highlight of the weekend’s viewing. So I’m doing that. If you’ve not yet caught wind of Emerald, consider this an opportunity to be engaged in a fully multimedia fashion, and if you’ve heard the two extended pieces that make up the LP and not yet seen these videos, well, the argument for watching makes itself. If you caught this during Roadburn Redux, same applies. You don’t need me to tell you this is worth hitting up.

The bands offer stories behind their works below. I hoisted it from the Pelagic YouTube posts just because I thought it makes interesting reading and six years from now I’ll probably want to refer back to it or something. I’m like that sometimes.

Enjoy:

SA?VER, “Dimensions Lost, Obscured by Aeons” studio playthrough

Psychonaut, “The Great Realisation” studio playthrough

PSYCHONAUT – The Great Realisation

The Great Realisation represents the start of both an individual and a collective awakening. As we slowly watch our world change to the point where it may actually become uninhabitable for our species, we start to question the story of the world and realise that it may be time for a new story. It continues where the concept of Unfold the God Man left off, which was mostly centered around the recognition of our higher potential as individuals. The Great Realisation is the next step in the transition towards a new collective experience. It functions as a bridge between UTGM and our next album.

The story is narrated in 5 chapters which are based on a psychedelic experience. The protagonist encounters an entity that feels like Mother Earth who reveals the secrets of the universe to him. He enters a euphoric state in which he deconstructs his notion of self, leading him into an unknown yet blissful state of consciousness. However, not knowing what to do with this experience and this information, he loses all connection and is sent into the void. With all his might, he tries to retrieve his anchor to reality, condemning the entity that gave him this experience.

This release is by far the most elaborate production we have ever done. We recorded tons of extra percussion overdubs in Motormusic studio, added additional layers using a Morin Khuur, a 12-string acoustic, violins, didgeridoos, timpani, throat singing, choir vocals etc. To us, this feels like the most creative piece of songwriting we’ve ever done. We knew this would be released as a single track but we still wanted to make it sound like it was a short album or an EP, creating the experience of a bigger story by using different chapters. Doing all of this during a global pandemic was definitely challenging but we are very happy that we managed to find a safe way to record this massive composition without any compromises.

SÂVER – Dimensions Lost, Obscured By Aeons

Needless to say, this piece of music is a result of the weird and uncertain condition we’ve all been living in for the last year. Following a sudden and chaotic journey back home from Hungary after everything got cancelled mid-tour in March 2020, we found ourselves back in our rehearsal space with clean sheets and a society on hold. This allowed us to dive deeper into the sonic landscapes we ?d been wanting to explore, with a strange and somewhat greater sense of calm.

As a natural continuation of «They Came With Sunlight», we were intrigued by cinematic and electronic soundscapes, leaning heavy on atmosphere and mood as much as our heartfelt desire for the more extreme. To always challenge ourselves as musicians, and push the boundaries for what we are capable of as a unit, is a direct consequence of trying to capture what resonates within ourselves.

The pandemic caused harm, but it also granted time.

Ole Rokseth took this time and translated it to magic, giving birth to the first half «Dimensions Lost» with his arsenal of synthesizers recorded in different studios around Oslo. The contrast to the latter half «Obscured by Aeons», the dissonance between the soft and eerie and the furious anger, is a reflection of the key element we want to incorporate in our sound. The void between darkness and light. Ole Rokseth’s extended use of clean vocals gives SÂVER the power to emphasize this even more on «Emerald».

Psychonaut on Facebook

Psychonaut on Instagram

Psychonaut on Bandcamp

SÂVER on Facebook

SÂVER on Instagram

SÂVER on Bandcamp

Pelagic Records website

Pelagic Records on Facebook

Pelagic Records on Instagram

Pelagic Records on Bandcamp

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Review & Full Album Premiere: Psychonaut & SÂVER, Emerald

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on May 13th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

Psychonaut SAVER Emerald Split LP

[Click play above to stream Psychonaut and SÂVER’s Emerald split LP in full. It’s out Friday, May 14, on Pelagic Records.]

In another context, one might think of a split release like Emerald coming from a punk rock label as a seven-inch record, one band per side with about three minutes each to showcase their wares as a sampler from what the imprint considers promising bands. It’s by no means a new idea, however it came about in the instance of Psychonaut and SÂVER, for two up and coming trios on the same label — Pelagic Records in this case, so yes, we’re talking more than three minutes each for sure — to come together and share a release, and as each boast a deeply atmospheric take on post-style heavy and a sonic reach that seems to be expanding in real-time throughout the two side-long cuts here included, they make fitting companions.

Psychonaut, from Mechelen, Belgium — E19 runs right through it going north from Brussels to Antwerp; Saint Rumbold’s Cathedral is there — made their full-length debut in 2020 with Unfold the God Man on Pelagic, following two EPs with an exploration of concept and sound alike that situated them at some remove from the foundation of European post-metal. One tends to think of countrymen Amenra as the point of influence there, but it’s by no means just them, and Psychonaut‘s aesthetic proves to be less directly about pairing harsh and ambient elements together rather than finding the point at which ideas might meet and fleshing them out organically. Their 16-minute “The Great Realisation” complements well the 19-minute “Dimensions Lost, Obscured by Aeons” from Oslo’s SÂVER.

For the Norwegian three-piece, their inclusion follows their own debut long-player, They Came with Sunlight (review here), released by Pelagic in 2019, and roundly well received for its forward-thinking take on atmosludge and blend between crush and space. Both groups, then, are able to conjure as much breadth as suits. Emerald, in bringing them together, highlights the aspects of style they share as well as the differences between them, while ultimately serving that initial purpose in showcasing the potential from each.

Emerald is the kind of split that is chased down later. True, the first pressing is sold out even before it’s released, so I suppose plenty of heads are chasing it down now, but what I mean is that both bands here have a marked possibility to reach a broader listenership in heavy music than they’ve yet reached, and so it seems likely that there will indeed end up being more than the two pressings when all is said and done.

A gentle strum and foreboding thud begins “The Great Realisation,” which calls to mind some of Neurosis‘ tense ambience — both bands here will have a “Stones From the Sky” moment as regards riff structures — but Psychonaut are underway even before the audience knows it’s being immersed, and within the first 90 seconds, guitarist/vocalist Stefan De Graef, bassist/vocalist Thomas Michiels and drummer Peter Le Page are underway, layering screams and clean vocals over galloping drums and spacious guitars, breaking into angular turns, receding and surging forward again.

psychonaut

saver

They’ve twisted and churned and moved fluidly between loud and quiet multiple times over as they approach the midsection of “The Great Realisation,” but it’s the flow with which they execute their changes that’s most consuming — though the melodic apex they reach at about nine minutes in isn’t to be discounted as far as appeals go either. A more weighted chug follows, by a percussion- and digeridoo-laced stretch of prog metal guitar before Psychonaut draw it back to harsh screams and pounding heft, a semi-blackened assault acting as a prelude to their crescendo of engulfing lumber. As far out as they’ve gone, it’s to their credit that they’re still able to bring it all crashing down in just a few measures, soon drawing back into a residual fade and silence from whence the first hum of SÂVER‘s inclusion picks up.

Between the two songs, “Dimensions Lost, Obscured by Aeons” is arguably the more patient, at least in its initial unfurling. SÂVER — the returning lineup of guitarist/vocalist Ole Ulvik Rokseth, bassist Ole C. Helstad and drummer Markus Støle — begin with a stretch of cinematic whistling drone, and join it with an electronic beat before the three-minute mark, immediately demonstrating a progression of intent following their debut. The build is gradual and hypnotic and takes place over the next several minutes, drums starting far back before they’re seven minutes in, so really the opening of “Dimensions Lost, Obscured by Aeons” is a movement unto itself, but when the crush hits at 7:30 — on the dot — there’s little mistaking the intended contrast between float and weight.

The latter takes even fuller hold as SÂVER progress through the midsection of the song, vocals arriving at about 10:30 in screams before giving way to cleaner melodies over a chugging procession. An underlying foundation of noise influence isn’t new for them, but like Psychonaut prior, SÂVER have no trouble finding beauty in the outwardly harsh, and Støle‘s half-time drums only make their nod more engrossing as they march through the track’s back half, hitting into a stop and push 14 minutes in that feels like it might just consume the next five minutes but doesn’t, as the band move through twistier fare before arriving at their own finale of willful plodding, more stretched out than that of Psychonaut but no less elephantine. The bulk of the final minute is given to a curse of feedback and noise, readily mean and backed by static that cuts short to end, because there’s nothing else that needs saying at that point anyway.

So be it. If one thinks of Emerald as setting out to expose new listeners to these bands, then it accomplishes that in enticing fashion and then some. On the level of likewise showcasing the progression of each, it further succeeds. And just as a basic listen, I can’t see any way it’s not one of 2021’s best split releases, given the individualized approaches of SÂVER and Psychonaut and how well they coincide. It is no mystery why they might sell out of the vinyl on preorders, and the overarching story of Emerald is still of two acts defined by their forward potential. It is a story worth hearing.

Psychonaut on Facebook

Psychonaut on Instagram

Psychonaut on Bandcamp

SÂVER on Facebook

SÂVER on Instagram

SÂVER on Bandcamp

Pelagic Records website

Pelagic Records on Facebook

Pelagic Records on Instagram

Pelagic Records on Bandcamp

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Jordsjø Stream Pastoralia in Full; Album out Friday

Posted in audiObelisk on May 4th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

JORDSJO

Norwegian classic prog duo Jordsjø release their third (at least) album, Pastoralia, this Friday, May 7, through Karisma Records. It is nothing if not aptly-named. The follow-up to 2019’s Nattfiolen, it boasts eight songs across 43 minutes that bring together lush melodic vibes and an intimacy born of what seems to be largely singular composition. Even at its most active, the overarching spirit is subdued if not peaceful, and the intro “Prolog” finds guitarist, keyboardist, flutist and vocalist Håkon Oftung and drummer/percussionist Kristian Frøland working alongside a range of others but fleshing out a creative breadth of their own that draws the varied pieces and parts of pieces together. Following “Prolog,” for example, “Skumring I Karesuando” is the longest track at 7:37 until the concluding 10-minute “Jord III,” and the band’s purpose toward listener immersion could hardly be clearer.

And it works. With patient composition, dynamic layering and consistent melodic focus, Jordsjø enact Scandiprog naturalism with a vision that washes away decades. Their execution throughout “Skumring I Karesuando” and the subsequent “Mellom Mjødurt, Marisko og Søstermarihånd” is fluid and rolls easily along the ears to the brain, rife with subtle flourishes and a smoothness of production that make stretches like the Mellotron/flute break in “Mellom Mjødurt, Marisko og Søstermarihånd” and the weightierjordsjo pastoralia guitar at the end of the title-track, which follows and caps side A, stand out all the more. Having established such balance over the course of the first half, the best thing Oftung and Frøland (and company) can do is mess with it, and the acoustics and string sounds of “Fugleviskeren” that serve as the instrumental intro to Pastoralia‘s side B do exactly that, working in counterpoint to preface the more outwardly Crimson-toned progression of “Beitemark,” culminating as it does in crashes that act as setup for the sudden turn of the penultimate “Vettedans.”

Therein lies the twist. Marked out by its Deep Purple keys, chime bell and meandering guitar-then-flute, “Vettedans” comes across like a tw0-minute condensed version of the album’s arrangements as a whole. It’s an intentionally strange interlude and not at all unwelcome, but like “Prolog” and “Skumring I Karesuando” were meant to bring the listener into the world being made for Pastoralia, so too is “Vettedans” meant to clarify just how in command of that world Jordsjø are ahead of the finale in “Jord III.” As for “Jord I” and “Jord II,” they showed up on 2017’s Jord, and the piano line that brings in “Jord III” could just as easily work coming out of the cymbal wash of “Jord II” as it does from the silence after “Vettedans.” The sense of flow, the class in the delivery of its later spoken parts and guitar leads, and the peaks and valleys it creates across its course are rightfully distinguished in the closer position, and it’s one more aspect of Pastoralia that speaks to the underlying consciousness of Jordsjø in its construction, on the songwriting and presentation levels alike. If one thinks of progressive rock as that which is considered in its exploration and thoughtful about what it does, this is what that sounds like.

That they’d bear relation to Tusmørke through Oftung shouldn’t be a surprise in listening, and they’re well at home on Karisma Records among the likes of Wobbler and Lucy in Blue and others, but there is a distinct take to be found in the balance of folk and prog throughout Pastoralia, as well as the delicate guiding hand that leads the audience through the work as a whole. I’m happy today to host the album for streaming ahead of the release Friday.

You’ll find it on the player below, followed by more info from the PR wire.

Enjoy:

In the tradition of some of last century’s best Nordic rock, Jordsjø’s duo of multi instrumentalist Håkon Oftung (Tusmørke, Black Magic) and drummer Kristian Frøland, meld Progressive rock with interesting melodies, whilst giving the whole a Folk-inspired twist. And, for Pastoralia, they have produced an album that is a musical journey that travels from minimalist mellotron passages to a full on rock tempest, and which sees Jordsjø moving further into jazzy, progressive, musical landscapes.

Thematically, the album is based on dreams, a longing for freedom and the fictional place Pastoralia, where every day is like tropical nights in Northern Norway, where the forest people dance around campfires.

Joining the duo on Pastoralia are a number of guests including Ola Mile Bruland (Actionfredag), Håkon Knutzen, Vilde Mortensen Storesund, Mats Lemjan, Christian Meaas Svendsen and Åsa Ree (Meer, Tusmørke, Wobbler).

With artwork by Sindre Foss Skancke, the album is set for release on Karisma Records on the 7th May, Pastoralia will be available on CD, digital and black vinyl formats as well as in a blue vinyl version which will be limited to 600 copies. The album can be pre-ordered right here: https://www.karismarecords.no/product/artist/jordsjo/

Tracklist
1. Prolog
2. Skumring I Karesuando
3. Mellom Mjødurt, Marisko og Søstermarihånd
4. Pastoralia
5. Fuglehviskeren
6. Beitemark
7. Vettedans
8. Jord III

Jordsjø on Thee Facebooks

Jordsjø on Bandcamp

Karisma Records on Thee Facebooks

Karisma Records on Bandcamp

Karisma Records website

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Vinter Records: New Norwegian Label Forms & Signs First Act MoE

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 29th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

vinter records staff

With ambition a-plenty and a varied background among its staff that includes label work, booking shows, curating a festival, playing in bands and all manner of promoting all of the above — up to and including sending out an announcement of the fact that they exist — Vinter Records is a new Oslo-based venture that brings together recognizable faces from the likes of HYMN, SÂVER, the Høstsabbat fest and Indie Recordings to explore and rightly put forth bands beginning by highlighting the aesthetically diverse and vibrant creative underground in their home country of Norway. The first act signed to the imprint is MoE, who are also from Oslo and not at all to be confused with the all-lowercase jam band, who are terrible.

In addition to that first pickup, Vinter Records also announces intentions toward creating a Høstsabbat Live Series, and jeez, if they have anything from the last five-plus years recorded, we’ll all be lucky. Even if not and it’s only something they do going forward, that will be a series to watch for. Whether it’s Slabdragger in the basement or The Devil and the Almighty Blues up on the altar, Høstsabbat gets great sound.

And just so everything’s clear, it’s Vinter Records staff above and MoE below. Lest we mix up our promo shots.

From the PR wire:

moe norway

Announcing VINTER RECORDS

New record label founded by Indie Recordings, Høstsabbat Festival professionals

Vinter Records is a tight-knit group of four, consisting of musicians, enthusiasts, a label-head and a festival organizer, booker and promoter — all closely connected to the heavy underground scene in Oslo, Norway.

“Our motivation is simple: We want to help highlight the scene and culture we love, and is a big part of ourselves. Our scene in Scandinavia, and in Oslo in particular, is thriving. We will offer new perspectives and showcase this special scene to a broader audience,” says Ole Helstad, co-founder of Høstsabbat, head of booking at Revolver Oslo, bassist in SÂVER and Kite and now co-founder of Vinter Records.

First Signing: MoE

Vinter Records announces the first band on its roster is Norwegian avantgarde sludgers MoE – one of the most prolific and interesting heavy bands Norway has to offer.

“We’ve been huge fans of MoE for a very long time, so we’re very honored by their trust in us. To have MoE as a Vinter Records debut release is a hell of a start,” says Markus Støle, drummer in SÂVER and HYMN and co-founder of Vinter Records.

MoE comments: “There’s a new kind of energy in the Oslo underground. There’s a sense of will, and the power to execute this very will. When we met up with Vinter there was a sense of immediate chemistry. They have a different background, other perspectives, different acquaintances and an energy matching our own. We look forward to moving forward with our most ambitious album to date in partnership with Vinter.”

Vinter Records Background:

Vinter Records consists of Ole Helstad, Christer Kaupang, Linda Melsom and Markus Støle, whose combined experience, years of touring and numerous album releases, have led to valuable understanding of the industry’s do’s and don’ts, in terms of what makes a fruitful label relation as well as how to pinpoint a band’s next logical step.

With various backgrounds from booking, as musicians, and as promoters, combined with Melsom’s decade-long involvement in the record industry; Vinter Records begins with an extensive international network.

“All of us have been active contributors in the underground for years. Vinter Records is a natural extension of this devotion. It feels great to start something new and fresh, grounded in and made for the scene we love and part take in,” comments Melsom.

Høstsabbat Live Series

Vinter is closely knit to the annual Høstsabbat Festival and will offer physical, exclusive live recordings from their promoted shows, titled Høstsabbat Live Series.

“It feels natural to work within our own scene, though we don’t seek to be a genre-specific label. We will take one step at a time. Our concept is organic growth,” says Melsom.

https://moepages.bandcamp.com/
http://www.facebook.com/moepages
https://www.facebook.com/vinterrecords
http://vinterrecords.com/

MoE, La Bufa (2020)

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Psychonaut and SÂVER Team for Emerald Split LP

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 23rd, 2021 by JJ Koczan

Two bands, two sides, two songs. Don’t mind me, but I’m just kind of over here wondering if we’re seeing Pelagic Records chart the way forward for post-metal? The German label founded by The Ocean‘s Robin Staps seems to be doing an awful lot of pivotal work these days, including releases by both Psychonaut and SÂVER, who are the two bands sharing a side apiece on this Emerald split LP. The Belgian troupe lead off with the 16-minute “The Great Realisation,” bringing progressive textures and patient melodic build en route to a satisfying onslaught, volume trades not necessarily unpredictable but welcome nonetheless, as Norway’s SÂVER follow with the 19-minute “Dimensions Lost, Obscured by Aeons,” dedicating its opening stretch to surprising drone atmospherics before making its way into their sludgy-but-not-dumb crunch and a confident increase in melodic reach.

All told, it’s a 35-minute LP sampler platter of two deeply creative acts in stylistic bloom. There’s no audio public yet ahead of the May 14 release date (fair, since it’s two songs), but if you’ve not yet dug into Psychonaut‘s Unfold the God Man or SÂVER‘s rightly-ballyhooed 2019 debut, They Came with Sunlight (review here), both are at the bottom of this post. You’ll not regret taking the time.

Split info comes from the PR wire, of course:

Psychonaut SAVER Emerald Split LP

Announcing: PSYCHONAUT / SÂVER ‘Emerald’ (Split Release)

‘Emerald’ will be released on May 14 and is available for pre-order on April 6!

PSYCHONAUT and SÂVER are akin in many ways: both artists embody and explore corporal, physical heaviness in their sound as much as spirituality and philosophy, both artists often stretch their compositions close to the 20 minutes mark, and both artists redefine the concept of the classic power trio within a context of genre-bending, modern heavy music: where SÂVER plea for calculated minimalism, PSYCHONAUT employ an arsenal of percussion instruments on their recordings, and it is even more so astonishing how well they manage to reduce the polyphonic assault to the trio in a live setting.

PSYCHONAUT literally came from out of nowhere, Mechelen, Belgium, to be precise. Their 2020 album Unfold The God Man showcases excellent musicianship and songwriting abilities, heavily influenced by 70’s bands like Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, but also drawing inspiration from contemporary heavy artists like Tool or Amenra.

“This release is by far the most elaborate production we have ever done. We let go of all boundaries and gave ourselves complete freedom in terms of songwriting and arranging. This massive track represents a process of both personal and collective change that is conveyed through five chapters which are based on a psychedelic experience.”

SÂVER from Oslo, Norway delivered an equally astounding debut album of sublime heaviness, shimmering moogs, abrasive vocals and a devastating, gnarly bass tone. Their jaw-dropping performance at the renowned Oya Festival in Oslo in the summer before the pandemic, accompanied by mesmerizing visuals on a huge screen, was a foreboding of what to expect from this band in the future.

“As a band , we try to write music we would love to listen to ourself and we believe this 20-ish minute song really sets the path for what we want SÂVER to sound like. Atmospheric, brutal, yet beautiful and heavy as the sun itself. We love the way this release turned out and we hope you will too.”

https://www.facebook.com/psychonautband
https://www.instagram.com/psychonautband/
https://psychonautband.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/saveroslo/
https://www.instagram.com/saeverofficial/
https://saeverband.bandcamp.com/

http://www.pelagic-records.com/
http://www.facebook.com/pelagicrecords
https://www.instagram.com/pelagic_records
https://pelagicrecords.bandcamp.com/

Psychonaut, Unfold the God Man (2020)

SÂVER, They Came with Sunlight (2019)

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