NYOS Sign to Pelagic Records; Premiere “Nature” Video

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

NYOS

Somewhere between number-crunching math loops and heavy post-rock float, cascading here and there en route to some yet-unmeasured beyond, one might find Finnish instrumentalist two-piece NYOS‘ 2019 album, Now. The duo of guitarist Tom Brooke and drummer Tuomas Kainulainen have newly signed to Pelagic Records for the reissue this September of Now. and 2016’s Nature — as well as their next album due out in 2022 — and have a video premiering for the title-track of the latter below to mark the occasion. Does it make sense to make a video from an older record? Who cares it’s awesome. Let yourself go for a little while and you might find it’s possible to enjoy the trip without letting something like a release date stand in your way. Plus, nature is gorgeous, and you could do far worse than to take four minutes out of your day to enjoy that. Birds eating, raccoon poking out of a tree, and so forth.

If they had paired “Nature” from Nature with clips of angular buildings — like the cover of Now., for example — you would still say it fit, considering the rhythm underpinning the guitar melody, so kudos to the NYOS on being evocative one way and/or the other. As to where an impending fifth full-length might take them, your guess is as good as mine. Anywhere they want? Yeah, that sounds good.

The PR wire has info on the reissues and the signing announcement. You’ll find it under the video premiere below.

Enjoy:

NYOS, “Nature” video premiere

Pelagic Records Signs Finnish Duo NYOS

We’re excited to announce the signing of loop-driven Finnish instrumental duo NYOS.

To get in the zone for NYOS’ album #5, to be released in the spring of 2022, you can now grab a vinyl copy of their catalogue albums „Nature” (2016) and „Now” (2019) at our shop: https://pelagic-records.com/webshop/

NYOS – Nature – CATALOGUE NUMBER (LP): PEL 198-V RELEASE DATE: 03.09.2021

Nature is the eclectic 2nd album by noisy, loop-driven Finnish instrumental duo NYOS.

Originally self-released in 2016, the band sold over 1.000 albums on tour, but Nature, completely self-released, was never available in record stores. The album was written and recorded with the ambition to capture the atmosphere and vibe of their highly energetic live shows. The 6 tracks on Nature showcase the developing dynamics of the duo, bringing a wide range of influences from math rock to post rock to Lighting Bolt-infused outbursts of noise. Powered by the use of loops, drones and layers of keys and samples, Tom Brooke builds up captivating sonic atmospheres… which are contrasted by the immensely creative and often frenetic and all-over-the-place drumming of Tuomas Kainulainen.

The album was self-released on CD, LP and Cassette. Their third album, Navigation was again recorded and mixed by Tom and mastered by Mandy Parnell (Bjork, Aphex Twin, Sigur Ros), and released in September 2017 via Meta Matter Records.

NYOS – Now CATALOGUE NUMBER (LP): PEL 199-V RELEASE DATE: 03.09.2021

Now is the 4th album by noisy, loop-driven Finnish instrumental duo NYOS.

Originally self-released in 2019, the band sold a fuckton of records on tour, but Now, completely self-released, was never available in record stores. Their most mature album to date, a wide range of influences from math rock to post rock to drum-frenzy reminiscent of Lighting Bolt or Zach Hill is on display here. Listening to the album is another proof that the duo-setup often results in more creative and experimental songwriting, compared to larger ensembles with more musicians in them: there is more space, more room for trying out crazy things, loops, effects, without the risk of overloading the arrangements.

NYOS formed in 2014 when UK-born Tom Brooke and drummer Tuomas Kainulainen met after Tom moved to Finland. Bonded by a mutual love of noisy bands, coffee and playing shows, they quickly wrote their first album, Vltava, a 26-minutes one-track piece. Since 2015, the proactive band has played 200 gigs in over 20 countries, and their top tracks „Haikara“ and „Kelo“ have reached over 400.000 plays on Spotify – a considerable success given the grassroots DYI-approach that the band has taken from day one: they have never been signed with any label, nor any booking agency.

Like their previous releases, Now was recorded in October 2018 at Tonehaven Recording Studio by guitarist Tom Brooke and mastered by Mandy Parnell (Bjork, Aphex Twin). We are now making it available on vinyl, along with 2016’s Nature – these 2 great albums shall serve as a foretaste of the band’s upcoming 5th album, to be released in the first half of 2022 via Pelagic.

NYOS are:
Tom Brooke – Guitar
Tuomas Kainulainen – Drums

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

NYOS, Nature (2016)

NYOS, Now. (2019)

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LLNN Announce Unmaker out Sept. 24

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 19th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

llnn (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Once upon a long-long-ago, I was lucky enough to see Copenhagen’s LLNN in a crowded church basement at the vibe-your-face-right-off Høstsabbat 2019 (review here) in Oslo, Norway. It was a lifetime, maybe two, in the past, but the impression the band made that evening holds firm: LLNN wreck shit. It was one of the most vital takeaways from that particular weekend. Accordingly, it is with ready-to-be-crushed bones that I await the arrival of their third full-length, Unmaker, which will be out Sept. 24 through Pelagic Records and is up for preorder now with a track streaming. Also note that they’re doing a separate LP just of the ambient synth parts. That’s a killer idea.

If you weren’t in that particular basement on that particular eve, you might’ve caught LLNN at this year’s virtual Roadburn Redux festivities as part of the Pelagic showcase. Numerous videos have made their way public since that one-weekend-only semi-happening, and LLNN‘s doesn’t seem to be one based on a cursory search, but that may change in the leadup to Unmaker. It’ll be worth keeping an eye out.

Here’s info and links for the record, courtesy the PR wire:

LLNN Unmaker

LLNN To Release Crushing New Full-Length Unmaker September 24th Via Pelagic Records; New Track Streaming + Preorders Available

Copenhagen’s LLNN will unleash their third full-length, Unmaker, via Pelagic Records on September 24th. A stupefyingly unforgiving affair, Unmaker is at once abrasive and vile, at times effervescent and escharotic, and finally absolutely smothering, suffocating, terminal.

LLNN burst onto the scene with 2016’s critically acclaimed debut album Loss. But there is much more to the band’s sound. Following European tours with Bison, performances at esteemed festivals like Roskilde, Roadburn, and Arctangent and a split EP with Wovoka, LLNN returned with sophomore album Deads in 2018, an album that felt more compact, yet more complex and simultaneously organic.

The band further explored the coalescence of the guitar and bass – axis with keys player Ketil G. Sejersen’s synth layers, a direction that is now further pursued on Unmaker. It’s also the very dominant synths that evoke the feel and vibe of dystopian, post-apocalyptic, sci-fi movies, inspired by composers like Brad Fiedel, Vangalis, John Carpenter, and Stanley Kubrick as much as by sci-fi/horror games like Silent Hill, Dead Space, Halo, and Limbo.

“As huge fans of classic sci-fi scores and video games, we’re fascinated by how cinematic sound design can evoke certain emotions and let our imagination unfold into abstract storytelling,” notes Sejersen. A recently released short film gives insight into the creation process and sound design on the new record, showcasing the process from the original sound recording to the final result, a production that took place at a blacksmith using various industrial machines. “A big part of the sound design in LLNN is initially created by field recordings, and afterwards by modulating the raw audio files in post-production,” he continues. A circular metal saw was recorded and modulated — and by layering these sounds over other estranged and heavily treated recordings of industrial tools, LLNN creates their sometimes eery, sometimes harsh but always thematically coherent synth-soundscapes.

These sounds – essentially manipulations of the real world – orchestrate and exemplify the album’s central theme: Unmaker is a tale about how technology, in combination with certain power structures, is transforming humanity, essentially affecting human values, and becoming an end in itself. A tale about how progress becomes regress, depending on the angle of the observer and the standards of appraisal.

In advance of the release of Unmaker, today the band unveils first single, “Interloper.” Vocalist/guitarist Christian Bonnesen comments, “It’s a song about feeling worthless. Forever doomed to sit with the kids at the dinner table, fed with scraps from banquets of kings.”

Stream the track via YouTube at THIS LOCATION and all streaming services HERE: https://listen.pelagic-records.com/llnn-unmaker

Unmaker was produced by Jacob Bredahl at Dead Rat Studio and mastered by Brad Boatright at Audiosiege with sound design production by the Sejersen brothers at Gravitated Sound Studio.

Unmaker will be released on CD, digitally, and on vinyl in five different color variants. All variants come with a second LP featuring only the synth sounds, titled Sonic Fragments From Unmaker. These fragments on their own — exposed and without the rest of the band — constitute an unrhythmical, parallel universe to the album, and allow an interesting peak into the band’s dark cosmos.

Find preorders at THIS LOCATION: https://listen.pelagic-records.com/llnn-unmaker

Unmaker Track Listing:
1. Imperial
2. Desecrator
3. Obsidian
4. Vakuum
5. Scion
6. Interloper
7. Division
8. Forger
9. Tethers
10. Resurrection

LLNN:
Christian Bonnesen – guitar, vocals
Rasmus G. Sejersen – drums
Ketil G. Sejersen – synths
Rasmus Furbo – bass

http://www.facebook.com/llnnband
http://www.instagram.com/llnn.band
http://www.pelagic-records.com/
http://www.facebook.com/pelagicrecords
http://www.instagram.com/pelagic_records

LLNN, Unmaker (2021)

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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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Quarterly Review: Carlton Melton, Crown, Noêta, Polymerase, Lucid Sins, Hekate, Abel Blood, Suffer Yourself, Green Dragon, Age Total

Posted in Reviews on July 5th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

the-obelisk-fall-2016-quarterly-review

This will be a two-week Quarterly Review. That means this Monday to Friday and next Monday to Friday, 10 releases per day, totaling 100 by the time it’s done.

Me? I’m taking it one week, one day, one album at a time. It’s the only way to go and not have it seem completely insurmountable. But we’ll get through it all. I started out with the usual five days, and then I went to seven, then eight, and at that point I felt like I had a pretty good idea where things were headed. The last two days I filled up just at the end of last week. Some of it is I think a result of quarantine productivity, but there’s a glut of relevant stuff out now and some of it I’m catching up on, true, but some of it isn’t out yet either, so it’s a balance as ever. I keep telling myself I’m done with 2020 releases, but there’s one in here today. You know how it goes.

And since you do, I won’t delay further. Thanks in advance for reading if you do.

Quarterly Review #1-10:

Carlton Melton, Night Pillers

carlton melton night pillers

Rangey mellow psych collected together with the natural shimmer of a Phil Manley (Trans Am) recording and a John McBain master, the new mini-LP from Mendocino medicine makers Carlton Melton is a 31-minute, five-song meditative joy. To wit, “Safe Place?” Is. “Morning Warmth?” Is, even with the foreboding march of drums behind it. And “Striatum,” which closes with interplay of keys and fuzzy leads and effects, giving a culminating seven-minute wash that doesn’t feel like it’s pushing far out so much as already gone upon arrival, indeed seems like a reward for any head or brain that’s managed to make it so far. Opener “Resemblance” brings four minutes of gentle drone to set the mood ahead of “Morning Warmth” — it might be sunrise, if we’re thinking of it that way — and centerpiece “High Noon Thirty” bridges krauty electronic beats and organic ceremony that feels both familiar and like the band’s own. They may pill at night, but Carlton Melton have a hell of a day here.

Carlton Melton on Facebook

Agitated Records website

 

Crown, The End of All Things

Crown The End of All Things

Weaving in and around genres with fluidity that’s tied together through dark industrial foundations, Crown are as much black metal as they are post-heavy, cinematic or danceable. “Gallow” or the earlier “Neverland” call to mind mid-period, electronica-fascinated Katatonia, but “Extinction” pairs this with a more experimental feel, opening in its midsection to more unsettling spaces ahead of the dance-ready finish. There’s nothing cartoonish or vamp about The End of All Things, which is the French outfit’s fourth album in 10 years, and it’s as likely to embrace pop (closer “Utopia”) as extremity (“Firebearer” just before), grim atmospherics (“Nails”) or textured acoustics (“Fleuve”), feeling remarkably unconcerned with genre across its 45 entrancing minutes, and remarkably even in its approach for a sound that’s still so varied. It’s not an easy listen front to back, but the challenge feels intentional and is emotional as much as cerebral in the craft and performance.

Crown on Facebook

Pelagic Records on Bandcamp

 

Noêta, Elm

Noêta elm

Swedish duo Noêta offer their second record for Prophecy Productions in Elm, comprising a deceptively efficient eight songs and 38 minutes that work in atmospheres of darker but not grim or cultish folk. Vocalist Êlea is very much a focal point in terms of performance, with Andris‘ instrumentals forming a backdrop that’s mournful on “Above and Below” while shimmering enough to bring affirmation to “As We Are Gone” a short while later ahead of the electrified layering in “Elm” and the particularly haunted-feeling closer “Elm II.” “As I Fall Silent” is a singularly spacious moment, but not the only one, as “Fade” complements with strings and outward-sounding guitar, and some of Elm‘s most affecting moments are its quietest stretches, as “Dawn Falls” proves at the outset and the whispers of “Elm” reaffirm on side B. Subdued but not lacking complexity, Noêta‘s songs make an instrument of mood itself and are pointedly graceful in doing so.

Noêta on Facebook

Prophecy Productions website

 

Polymerase, Unostentatious

Polymerase Unostentatious

Unostentatious, which is presumably not to say “humble,” may or may not be Polymerase‘s debut release, but it follows on from several years of inactivity on the part of the Philippines-based mostly-instrumentalist heavy psych trio. The band present four duly engaging and somewhat raw feeling jams, with a jump in volume as “Lightbringer//Lightgiver” picks up from “A Night with a Succubus” and opener “The Traveler” and a final touch of thickened, fuzzy sludge in the rolling “Green is the Color of Evil,” which closes at a lurch that comes across at significant remove from the title-hinted brightness of the song just before it. Uneven? Maybe, but not egregiously so, and if Polymerase are looking to give listeners an impression of their having a multifaceted sound, they most assuredly do. My question is over what span of time these tracks were recorded and what the group will do in moving forward from them, but I take the fact that I’m curious to find out at all as a positive sign of having interest piqued. Will hope for more.

Polymerase on Facebook

Polymerase on Bandcamp

 

Lucid Sins, Cursed!

lucid sins cursed

Lucid indeed. The band’s self-applied genre tag of “adult AOR” is more efficient a descriptor of their sound than anything I might come up with. Glasgow’s Lucid Sins released their acclaimed debut, Occultation, in 2014, and Cursed! is the exclamatory seven-years-later follow-up, bringing together classic progressive rock and modern cult heavy sensibilities with a focus on songwriting that’s the undercurrent from “Joker’s Dance” onward and which, as deep as “The Serpentine Path” or the title-track or “The Forest” might go, is never forgotten. To wit, the penultimate “By Your Hand” is a proto-everything highlight, stomping compared to the organ-prog “Sun and the Moon” earlier, but ultimately just as melodic and of enviable tonal warmth. Seven years is a long time between records, and maybe this material just took that long to put together, I don’t know, but I had no idea “cult xylophone” was a possibility until “The Devil’s Sign” came along, and now I’m not sure how I ever lived without it.

Lucid Sins on Facebook

Totem Cat Records store

 

Hekate, Sermons to the Black Owl

Hekate Sermons to the Black Owl

Australia’s history in heavy rock and roll is as long as that of heavy rock and roll itself and need not be recounted here, except to say that Hekate, from Canberra and Sydney, draw from multiple eras of it with their debut long-player, Sermons to the Black Owl, pushing ’70s boogie over the top with solos on “Carpathian Eagle” only after “Winter Void” and “Child of Black Magick” have seen the double-guitar-and-let’s-use-both four-piece update nascent doom vibes and “Burning Mask” has brought a more severe chug to the increasingly intense procession. A full production sound refuses to let the quick eight-tracker be anything other than modern, and though it’s only 28 minutes long, the aptly-titled “Acoustic Outro” feels earned atmospherically, even down to the early-feeling cold finish of “Cassowary Dreaming.” The balance may be then, then, then, and now, but the sense of shove that Hekate foster in their songs gives fresh urgency to the tenets of genre they seem to have adopted at will.

Hekate on Facebook

Black Farm Records store

 

Abel Blood, Keeping Pace with the Elephants

Abel Blood Keeping Pace with the Elephants

One does not evoke elephantine images on a heavy record, even on a debut release, if aural largesse isn’t a factor. New Hampshire trio Abel Blood — guitarist/vocalist Adam Joslyn, bassist Ben Cook, drummer Jim DeLuca — are raw in sound on their first EP, Keeping Pace with the Elephants, but the impact with which they land “The Day that Moby Died” at the outset is only encouraging, and to be sure, it’s not the thickest of their wares either. “Enemies” already pushes further, and as centerpiece “UnKnown Variant” would seem to date the effort in advance, it also serves the vital function of moving the EP in a different, more jangly, grungier direction, which is a valuable move with the title cut following behind, its massive cymbals and distorted wash building to a head in time for the nine-minute finale “Fire on the Hillside” to draw together both sides of the approach shown throughout into a parabolically structured jam the middle-placed surge of which passes quickly enough to leave the listener unsure whether it ever happened. They’re messing with you. Dig that.

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Suffer Yourself, Rip Tide

Suffer Yourself Rip Tide

Begun in 2011 by guitarist/vocalist Stanislav Govorukha and based in Sweden by way of Poland and the Ukraine, death-doom lurchbringers Suffer Yourself are not strangers to longer-form material, but to my knowledge, “Spit in the Chasm” — the opening and longest track (immediate points) on their third record, Rip Tide — is the first time they’ve crossed the 20-minute mark. Time well spent, and by that I mean “brutally spent,” whether its the speedier chug that emerges from the willful slog of the extended piece’s first half or the viciously progressive lead work that tops the precise, cold end of the song that brings final ambience. Side B offers two shorter pieces in “Désir de Trépas Maritime (Au Bord de la Mer Je Veux Mourir),” laced with suitably mournful strings and a fair enough maritime sense of gothic drama emphasized by later spoken word and piano, and the brief, mostly-drone “Submerging,” which one assumes is the end of that plotline playing out. The main consumption though is in “Spit in the Chasm,” and the dimensions of that fissure are significant, figuratively and literally.

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Aesthetic Death website

 

Green Dragon, Dead of the Night

Green Dragon Dead of the Night

High order Sabbathian doom rock from my own beloved Garden State, there’s very little chance I’m not going to dig Green Dragon‘s Dead of the Night, and true to type, I do. Presented by the band on limited vinyl after digital release late in 2020, the four-song, 24-minute outing brings guitarist/vocalists Zach Kurland and Ryan Lipynsky (the latter also adding keys and known for his work in Unearthly Trance, etc.), bassist Jennifer Klein and drummer Herbert Wiley to a place so dug into its groove it almost feels inappropriate to think of it as a peak in terms of their work to-date. They go high by going low, then. Fair enough. “Altered States” opens with a rollout of fuzz that miraculously avoids the trap sounding like Electric Wizard, while “Burning Bridges” murks out, “The Sad King” pushes speed a bit will still holding firm to nod and echo alike, and “Book of Shadows” plunges into effects-drenched noise like it was one of the two waterslides at the Maplewood community pool in summertime.

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ÂGE TOTAL, ÂGE TOTAL

ÂGE ? TOTAL

The kind of record that probably won’t be heard by enough people but will inspire visceral loyalty in many of those who encounter it, the self-titled debut from French collaborative outfit Age Total — bringing together members from Endless Floods out of Bordeaux and Rouen’s Greyfell — is a grand and engrossing work that pushes the outer limits of doom and post-metal. Bookending opener “Amure” (14:28) and closer “The Songbird” (16:45) around the experimentalist “Carré” (4:06) and rumbling melodic death-doom of “Metal,” the album harnesses grandiosity and nuance to spare, with each piece feeling independently conceived and enlightening to musician and audience alike. It sounds like the kind of material they didn’t know they were going to come up with until they actually got together — whatever the circumstances of “together” might’ve looked like at the time — and the bridges they build between progressive metal and sheer weight of intention are staggering. However much hype it does or doesn’t have behind it, Age Total‘s Age Total is one of 2021’s best debut albums.

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Soza Label on Bandcamp

 

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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».

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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.

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SÂVER on Facebook

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Year of No Light to Release Consolamentum on Pelagic Records July 2

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 21st, 2021 by JJ Koczan

year of no light

Well that’s a pretty heavy 12-minute single you’ve got there, Year of No Light. The Bordeaux-based six-piece haven’t issued a full-length since they gave the Vampyr score a once-over in 2013, and to herald the coming of Consolamentum, the band have revealed “Réalgar,” a post-metallic instrumental soundscaper that’s suitably big on atmosphere and impact without losing itself entirely to either. The new album will be their first for Pelagic, and it comes as they mark their 20th anniversary as a band, also releasing a new limited box set that is nothing if not extensive. You know bands are giving it their all when they put the slipmat along with 12 platters in the hand-silkscreened wood box.

What’s really enticing about “Réalgar” — aside from that synth line running beneath the airy guitars — is how short it makes that 12 minutes seem. Didn’t we just set out on this journey, Year of No Light? And already we’re dissolving into gorgeous ambience? They do spend the last couple minutes in that swirl, but don’t be fooled by the lack of drums, there’s still plenty of substance to the proceedings.

Cool beans. (That’s probably something no one else will say about this track, so there. Thanks for reading.) You’ll find the details for the box and Consolamentum below, courtesy of the PR wire:

year of no light consolamentum

Year of No Light announce Consolamentum album and 20th anniversary box set

Bordeaux, FR post-metal sextet joins Pelagic Records w/ heaviest album to date

Bordeaux, France post-metal sextet Year of No Light announce their forthcoming fifth studio album Consolamentum today, sharing the first single “Réalgar” via all DSPs. Hear and share “Réalgar” via Bandcamp, Spotify and YouTube.

Consolamentum is the band’s first album on Pelagic Records. To celebrate joining the label and Year of No Lights’s 20th anniversary, they will release a limited edition deluxe wooden box set of the band’s entire discography, titled Mnemophobia on July 2nd. The handmade, hand-silkscreened wooden box features 12 vinyl LPs in 6 gatefold sleeves, exclusive colored vinyl variants, a slipmat, metal pin, patch and poster. For more information, see HERE: https://pelagic-records.com/product/year-of-no-light-mnemophobia-wooden-lp-boxset/

Year of No Light’s lengthy, sprawling compositions of towering walls of guitars and sombre synths irradiate a sense of dire solemnity and spiritual gravity, and couldn’t be a more fitting soundtrack for such grim medieval scenarios. But there is also the element of absolution, regeneration, elevation, transcendence in the face of death. Consolamentum is dense, rich and lush and yet somehow feels starved and deprived.

It comes as no surprise that ever since the beginning of their career, the band have had an obsession for the fall of man and salvation through darkness. The term “consolamentum” describes the sacrament, the initiation ritual of the Catharic Church, which thrived in Southern Europe in the 12th – 14th Century – a ritual that brought eternal austereness and immersion in the Holy Spirit.

“There’s a thread running through all of our albums”, says the band, collectively “an exploration of the sensitive world that obeys a certain telos, first fantasized (“Nord”) and reverberated (“Ausserwelt”), then declaimed as a warning (“Tocsin”). The deeper we dig, the more the motifs we have to unveil appear to us. Yes, it’s a bit gnostic. This album is invoked after the Tocsin, it’s the epiphany of the Fall.”

With debut album Nord (2006) and sophomore release Ausserwelt (2010), the band made themselves a name in the European avant-metal scene. Extensive tours of Europe, North America and Russia in 2013 and 2014, including two appearances at Roadburn festival, Hellfest and a spectacular performance in a 17th Century fortress in the Carpathian mountains introduced them to a broader and quickly growing international audience.

With their seminal 3rd album Tocsin, released in 2013, Year Of No Light reached the peak of their career thus far – a logical decision that Consolamentum was made with the same team again: recorded and mixed by Cyrille Gachet at Cryogene in Begles / Bordeaux, mastered by Alan Douches at West West Side.

“We wanted this album to sound as organic and analog as possible”, comments the band. “All tracks were recorded live. The goal was to have the most natural, warm and clean takes possible, to give volume to the dynamics of the songs. We aimed to have a production with a singular personality.”

For the adept listener, Consolamentum seems to be venturing deeper into the dark and claustrophobic spheres explored on Tocsin – but the band doesn’t conceive of the evolution of their music in a linear way, as it would be apparent from looking at their discography.

“It’s more a matter of sonic devotion. Music against modern times. Year Of No Light” is above all a praxis. We wanted intensity, trance, climax and threat, all of them embedded in a bipolar and mournful ethos.”

Consolamentum will be available on 2xLP, CD and digital on July 2nd, 2021 via Pelagic Records. Preorders are available HERE: https://pelagic-records.com/artist/year-of-no-light/

Tracklisting:
01. Objuration
02. Alétheia
03. Interdit aux Vivants, aux Morts et aux Chiens
04. Réalgar
05. Came

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Year of No Light, Consolamentum (2021)

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The Obelisk Questionnaire: Will Benoit of SOM

Posted in Questionnaire on April 16th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

Will Benoit of SOM

The Obelisk Questionnaire is a series of open questions intended to give the answerer an opportunity to explore these ideas and stories from their life as deeply as they choose. Answers can be short or long, and that reveals something in itself, but the most important factor is honesty.

Based on the Proust Questionnaire, the goal over time is to show a diverse range of perspectives as those who take part bring their own points of view to answering the same questions. To see all The Obelisk Questionnaire posts, click here.

Thank you for reading and thanks to all who participate.

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Will Benoit of SOM

How do you define what you do and how did you come to do it?

Heavy. Atmospheric. Doom Pop. Shoegaze. We’ve all been fans of dark music with heavy guitars for a long time, but as we’ve gotten older the tempo has slowed down and now it feels more distinct to our own voices. We all are arriving at the same place from different paths, and it seems to be a mixture of working really hard to achieve our own sound, and it just happening naturally over time and life experience.

Describe your first musical memory.

There isn’t one “aha” moment I can remember. But while I was growing up my father had an acoustic guitar that I would play around with. I do remember figuring out if I plugged a microphone into a tape deck that I could record my voice as being a big moment in childhood. And then a bandmate leaving his four-track tape machine in my parents’ basement. That along with buying my first Roland MS-1 sampler were all really standout memories that felt important to my development.

Describe your best musical memory to date:

The first thing that jumps into my head is my memory of the first time I went down to SXSW. It was really incredible to see so many hard-working bands converge on one city, and seeing so many friends from all over the world over the course of one week. I helped book a showcase, and we made trays of vegan food that fed a mob of drunk people. To be part of that was really satisfying, and something that continued for many years.

When was a time when a firmly held belief was tested?

I’ve always strived to allow my beliefs to be tested in order to strengthen them, so it doesn’t answer your question necessarily, but the thing I believe most is — let other people’s ideas in, try to understand their perspective, weigh that against what you think you know, and then either internalize it or reject it.

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

To the highest mountains or the deepest caves, depending on whose hands it’s in.

How do you define success?

This is a tough one that I’d like to think even the smartest people still struggle with. It’s certainly not about financial success, or else we’d probably all be putting our time into something more lucrative, though there is of course some element of that baked into every young American’s head.

At this stage it’s more about trying to add value to my life, which is really difficult to define. But it seems like putting the time, energy and work into something that we can all be proud to put out into the world, and then follow that up with memorable and interesting experiences continuing to travel the world, seeing new places and meeting new people through playing music.

What is something you have seen that you wish you hadn’t?

Coming 2 America.

Describe something you haven’t created yet that you’d like to create.

This EP was our first endeavor into narrative music videos. Our guitar player Mike was doing the heavy lifting behind the scenes acting as producer / creative director, and while we‘ve all had various experiences in the visual production world, it’s something that feels new and uniquely challenging that I’m sure we’ll be looking into different ways to pursue moving forward.

What do you believe is the most essential function of art?

This is another tough one because it’s so relative. In its simplest form, art should provoke further thought or entertain, even if it is just for the person creating it, but even that is entirely subjective. As I’ve spent more and more time in different circles with very different definitions of what art even is, I’ve come to accept that there’s no right way to make art, and I don’t feel like it’s my place to judge what does or doesn’t make someone else feel or not feel something.

Something non-musical that you’re looking forward to?

Going back out in the world — seeing shows, seeing movies, having a beer with friends.

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SOM, Awake (2021)

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