Friday Full-Length: Psychedelic Source Records, This is Psychedelic Source Records

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 29th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

If at any point in the last seven or so years since Psychedelic Source Records started putting releases up on their Bandcamp page, there’s probably not much more to say about the seven-jam collection This is Psychedelic Source Records that came out earlier this month than, “Yeah, pretty much.”

Based in Páty, Hungary — about 40 minutes west of Budapest by train — and featuring a rotating cast of artists, bands and one-offs like this may or may not be, Psychedelic Source Records is more a collective than a record label, bringing together groups like Pilot Voyager, River Flows ReverseSatorinaut and a slew of others under one banner with the apparent central ethic of creative freedom. Sometimes there are songs, sometimes it’s an improv session, a couple times it’s just been founding spearhead Bence Ambrus noodling around in his garden. The framework is about as open as you can get, and the sounds range from expansive acid-folk to heavy psych exploration, and it’s all captured with a feel that only adds to the organic vibes. Releases don’t come with months of hype — though every now and then I’ll get to do a premiere for something they’re putting out, and that’s fun; I’ve got one booked for April 12 — and aren’t always pressed physically, but if you find value in the musical stream of consciousness, it is an open world waiting for you to immerse.

This Is… runs 92 minutes and was posted March 11 accompanied by the simple explanation, “Long time no see jam session, set up accidently two days ago.” So it was recorded March 9. I suppose what you’re hearing is technically a reissue, since at some point in the 18 days since it went live, Ambrus went back and reworked the mix, saying, “update: previous mix was little shitty so i redid it sorry.” Fair enough.

As you might’ve already guessed, the abiding spirit here is casual. Ambrus plays bass and guitar and is joined by Krisztina Benus on keyboard, Ákos Karancz on guitar, Barna Bartos on bass and Máté Varga on drums. I don’t know how much editing or actual mixing was done to what was recorded at the ‘accidental’ session — I love that idea; like, “oops, we just made a record”; the very heart of spontaneity — but the resultant flow within and between the pieces is hypnotic, and a cut like “Bum Bumm” (19:04) comes across as almost surprising itself as it evolves from its drone-backed psych ambience into a more active dub progression, as though the swirling mist solidified and decided to mellow-dance for a while. The guitar gets louder, Psychedelic Source Records This Is Psychedelic Source Recordsbut volume isn’t really the driving consideration anywhere on This Is…, which is more about the space being created and the conversation between the players presented with as-it-happened sincerity.

One can hear the glittering shimmer of guitar in “Sow Your Seeds and Be Patient” (14:09) or the wisps at the outset of “River Styx” (15:23) just prior and float along with the gentle-but-not-inactive rhythm in a semi-hypnotic state — from the subtle build-up of opener “Jamship” (8:15) onward, there’s room to dwell in the sounds being made, and not just because it’s feature-length in runtime — but there are nuances of character to be found too if you’re paying attention, shifts in tone as “Jamship” ends its course with resonant melodic drift and the drums start “Gentle Human Transform” (14:36) which comes to feel more surf-leaning in the reaches of guitar, or the centerpiece “River Styx” redirects from its quick fade-in to free/acid jazz-style searching in its midsection, the group finding their way into a slower, evocative wistfulness before they’re finished in a way that may or may not have been anticipated going in. That is to say, the sense in hearing it is that this check-in jam assemblage are also surprised to find out where they end up. That’s not an easy thing to convey on any kind of recording, even in the outer territories of improv psych, and it feels natural here. It’s part of what ties This Is… together, though I’ll admit that for something so broad and malleable in structure, that idea of ‘tied together’ is more about not interrupting the aforementioned flow.

And in preserving that easy-feeling course throughout while allowing each of its processions to embark and develop on its own terms, This Is… could hardly do more to encapsulate what is readable as the central ethic behind Psychedelic Source Records, which is to foster creativity without restraint. To that I might also add that the just-a-thing-we-did-on-Saturday-here-it-is presentation also speaks to this ethic. It’s a thing, to be sure. It exists. But it’s not a thing in the sense of being any kind of drag, or anybody’s job, or feeling like it’s a hassle somewhere along the line — perhaps notwithstanding Ambrus‘ noted remix after the fact. It’s low-key, agreeable, inviting psychedelia, no less expansive for being so inviting as “Sow Your Seeds and Be Patient” meanders around its guitar as it approaches the six-minute mark or capper “A Mermaid Found a Swimming Lad” echoes the surfy strum of “Gentle Human Transform” before resolving in twistier notes that wouldn’t feel out of place played on a sitar. These aspects also represent Psychedelic Source Records, giving a loose definition or vague shape to an intention, but not losing its freeform character to that.

If you think of art as a declaration of self, This is Psychedelic Source Records makes a fitting summary of what this group was all about on this day during these jams. It is not trying to be a part of any scene other than itself, or to end up on somebody’s chart, or be ‘content’ for some jerk-ass blogger like me to share on social media. It is honest rather than perfect, and while one acknowledges that authenticity is a myth in all cases and nothing can ever be objectively enacted or received because simply by that it becomes a part of human subjectivity — oh I could go on about this; I won’t — there’s no mistaking the ring of truth in these captured moments. And even if both moments and truth are fleeting, well, so is everything. Live in it while you can, if you can.

As always, I hope you enjoy. Thank you for reading.

Yesterday was a wreck of lost time. I overslept by 45 minutes — woke up with my phone on my chest having apparently shut off the alarm and left it there at 5AM — and never got back on track. A Costco trip that was going to be today and a chasedown of Siggi’s Vanilla Yogurt (4% milkfat, not the 0%) — which is one of like two and a half things The Pecan will eat at this point — later, it was after noon and I was back on the couch trying to pound out that Early Moods review and today’s other posts. I apparently didn’t get enough of that done before needing to go pick up The Pecan at school, which is effectively the end of my writing time most days, and that’s a thing I know because I was up all night thinking about finishing the shit I’d left incomplete.

As Orange Goblin (who should be announcing a new album any day now, I hope) once said, “Some you win, some you lose.”

This weekend is Easter, which we don’t really celebrate as anything more than candy and egg-coloring — yay, pagan fertility rites! — but still have to show up for. Tomorrow we drive north to color the aforementioned eggs. Sunday is a brunch that, honestly, I’m just kind of relieved to not be hosting. From there, next week is The Pecan’s Spring Break, so she’ll be home Monday to Friday. I don’t really know how that’ll play out yet. The Patient Mrs. has work, and a lot depends on the weather. If we can go outside, we will, in other words. She’s got a half-day camp-ish-thing Monday to Wednesday (the kid), and so that’ll be my work time on those days, and the rest I’ll just have to sort as I live through it. The biggest surprise of the entire thing is that I’m not doing something completely life-eating like a Quarterly Review or some such. It seems almost out of character.

I have a couple video premieres — Borer, The Vulcan Itch — and I want to review the Craneium record that I’m super-late with and the Viaje a 800 reissue that I’m not super-late with, but we’ll see how it goes. I was also supposed to send questions for a Viaje a 800 email interview that I haven’t done yet. I always find that nerve-racking, asking artists to talk about their work without the benefit of vocal inflection. You never know how somebody is going to read what you say when you’re asking them about something so personal. “So, your art does this. How’s that make you feel?” seems like not the best conversation option, but there’s a language barrier in this case too, so I get it. And I’ll get there.

I hope you have a great and safe weekend, whatever you’re up to. Have fun, watch your head, all that. If you’re celebrating, remember to enjoy it because that’s what a celebration is. I’m talking to myself there, to be sure, but don’t doubt that you’re also included. In any case, thanks again for reading.


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Meditar Stream Debut Album [Atmospheric Soundscapes] in Full; Out Tomorrow

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on December 14th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

meditar atmospheric soundscapes

The drumming at the outset of “As Unity Creating,” the cinematic backing drone and the arrival of the flute all bring a sense of ceremony to Meditar‘s debut release, [Atmospheric Soundscapes]. Throughout the next 39 minutes the Hungarian outfit — whose name and all titles are stylized lowercase in post-rock tradition: meditar, [atmospheric soundscapes], as though capital letters might be an imposition on such a gently immersive listening experience — spread frequencies like they’re körözött at the behest of Psychedelic Source Records and duly reinforce the serenity of those early moments in “As Unity Creating.” Understand, there’s no rug-pull here. Meditar isn’t about to “get heavy.” The closest thing to riffing is probably the flute, so no, it’s not the kind of thing that shows up around here all the time, but the music reaches out in a way that resonates on a psychedelic level without giving up its clarity in the face of ethereal resonance. It can surround you, and if that feels heavy in your head, so be it.

Headphones are just about mandatory to properly listen as [Atmospheric Soundscapes] shifts back and forth between passive and active stretches, fluid movements where the drum — yes, singular; it’s a Middle Eastern tar drum, noted for being wider than it is deep — comes forward in “Transformation of Materials” after the flute leads through “Sound of Zodiacs.” The course of the album also happens across trades between longer and shorter pieces — “As Unity Creating,” perhaps the experiment that became the impetus for what follows, is both opener and longest track (immediate points) — at least until the final pairing of the single-drone pull of “Atomparts” and closer “Symbols,” which has its own subtle changes around the sporadic drum hits and quiet castoff, both of which are left to answer the duly molten “Earth’s Magma,” the guitar effects of which seem to leave a burn at 5:25, but that nonetheless shimmers. If it were the noise heard in the cosmic background radiation leftover from the Big Bang, maybe humans wouldn’t need an entirely new cosmological model of the universe quite so desperately as we do.

But wherever, whenever, whyever and however its evocations put you, the fact is that that’s success on the part of this project. Comprised of guitarist/pedalboardist (and yes, I’m giving credit for pedals separately due to the proportion of the role they seem to play) Ákos Karancz, flutist Marci Havlik and Krisztián Megyeri on the thumps that do so much to ground and make accessible the entire proceedings, Meditar happened at the seeming whim of producer Bence Ambrus, who managed the logistics of remote recording for the other players — none of whom are strangers to the Psychedelic Source Records sphere of influence; having taken part in releases by Pilot VoyagerRiver Flows ReverseSatorinaut, Nagyk​ö​rű Sessions and more — and edited the final release together from the parts sent in, before the trio even knew what they were making. From a label and collective who’ve done so much in the vein of jam-based, often-improv psychedelia, Meditar are a different incarnation of the same spirit. If you told me [Atmospheric Soundscapes] was done live, I’d have no choice but to believe you as the howling guitar rings its clarion to form the centerpiece “Dreamstates.”

What’s preserved in that process is the spontaneity. I don’t know how much of [Atmospheric Soundscapes] was improvised by MegyeriHavlik and Karancz, but some of the music in these songs isn’t really the kind you can write. There are no lyrics or vocals as far as I can discern (the mix goes deep and I won’t vouch for their not being something hidden), and they’re not required for the album’s obviously-self-aware-or-they-would’ve-called-the-band-something-else meditative intentions. To be the thing it is, it could only have happened the way it did, and as you make your way through, I’ll suggest you take that thought and extrapolate it in any direction you want. I don’t think we’ve done guided meditation before. Start with closed eyes and deep breaths. The big slowdown.

It might not happen all at once, but maybe as you sit and put your ponderings alongside those of Meditar as expressed through these songs, you’ll find a little peace you didn’t know was missing. Or maybe it’ll miss. Maybe the world’s moving too fast today. Maybe you’ll hear “As Unity Creating” — which they were, even if not physically together at the time — and toss it off. Not everything will resonate with everyone, and while [Atmospheric Soundscapes] isn’t challenging in the sense of being in any way caustic or harsh, traditional pop structures and (most) rock impulses have been put aside for the moment in favor of this somehow invigorating display of open creativity and absorbing sound.

[Atmospheric Soundscapes] can be streamed in its entirely below, followed by comment from all involved parties and more info.

Please enjoy:

meditar, [atmospheric soundscapes] album premiere

Bence Ambrus on [atmospheric soundscapes]:

Krisztián bought this tar drum because his baby was born and he had to leave his drumkit for a few months. i asked him to record something to me for an ambient session in 110bpm. then i asked Marci to record some flute at home, and Ákos too. When i had the takes, i edited and mixed the release at home. they didn’t know what would come out of it. I didn’t give any direction, only the bpm and the tunekey. the flute and the guitar are used as they are, and the tar drum i edited on them a little bit.

Krisztián Megyeri on [atmospheric soundscapes]:

As a fresh father, I had to leave my thundering drum set and our basement for a while, our temple of freedom, where we had countless sonic adventures. Now it’s time for the warmth of home, listening to the whispers of the blood marked goatskin after my own blood fell asleep.

Marci Havlik on [atmospheric soundscapes]:

To be honest, I thought Bence would sample my playing, take small bits and repeat them like you do in electronic music. Instead he used everything I sent just the way I recorded it. Had I known, I would have played better! “Ever since I started playing folk music, it was clear to me how deep one can go on a mental journey through these melodies. However it was my first time explicitly playing meditative music with folk instruments. I tried to embody the ancient truths of folk through authentic flute techniques, which affect the conscious and the subconscious simultaneously.

Ákos Karancz on [atmospheric soundscapes]:

Meditar is over positive or negative emotional state. It is the calm simplicity of existence. These moments are rare but when I sat down to play the guitar it happened in that precious mindset. I did not expect to achieve anything beyond playing something. It was sometime after 4 o’clock. Already in the dark at winter when time seems endless. This is meditar. Meditar is presence.

Order link:

1. as unity creating (8:59)
2. sound of zodiacs (3:23)
3. transformation of materials (8:07)
4. dreamstates (3:20)
5. earth’s magma (8:03)
6. atomparts (4:54)
7. symbols (3:13)

meditar are:
Ákos Karancz: guitar, fx, coverart
Krisztián Megyeri: tar drum
Marci Havlik: flute
Bence Ambrus: editing, mixing, mastering

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Band in the Pit Stream Goda LP in Full; Out Sunday

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on October 13th, 2023 by JJ Koczan


On Oct. 15, which is this Sunday, Hungarian lumber-psych instrumentalists Band in the Pit will release their new album, the four-song Goda, through Psychedelic Source and Para Hobo Records. Why the odd-day release? Maybe just to remind us that these things are completely arbitrary. Maybe they had the day free and a regular Friday appointment. In any case, I assure you the date is not nearly important enough to warrant the four sentences I’ve now dedicated to it. If you want to skip ahead to the player and stream it,

The album runs four songs and three stages, by which I mean that the tracklisting — “Phalaris” (9:48), “Mantle” (11:16), “Goda” (6:38) and “Relight” (5:09) — is patterned through the first two longer pieces such that the shorter title-track and closer act like the reinforcement hypnotic suggestion to make sure you stay entranced. Recorded in 2021, Goda follows 2019’s two-song LP, Durée, and is their sixth full-length overall in the last decade-plus, the trio of guitarist Szabolcs Késmárky, bassist Vilmos Schneider and drummer Norman Prókai continuing to work with László Válik on the mix/master in Budapest and seeming to reside somewhere in terms of method between j-a-m heavy jamming and heavier-toned riffing.

The key is repetition. For as steady in their delivery and patient as they are nestling into their parts and residing there, Band in the Pit begin Goda already in progress — a crash into a new measure, as though the jam was already underway and you just teleported into the studio where it’s being recorded, presumably live (note: I actually don’t know how it was done, but listening, it’s hard to imagine another way). “Phalaris” evolves gradually over its nearly-10 minutes, has space for a right-on-fuzz guitar solo, and so on, but keeps its central rhythm consistent throughout. This means that even as the three-piece pass the seven-minute mark and the stately low end is met by a current of more scorching effects noise, the listener remains encased within the underlying groove. The wash? It’s just something that happens out there somewhere. It comes and goes and the noise is eventually the last thing to go as the song draws down, but it’s not that it was a contest and noise won over march. That march will own the day.

On a first listen, one new to the band — as I have no qualms admitting I am — might be a few minutes into “Mantle” before understanding what’s going on here. Like some of Earth‘s interpretations of drone, Band in the Pit build mantras from nod. Clear in its strum, Késmárky‘s guitar comes to the forefront of the mix and seems to lead the parade with Schneider and Prókai on board. At its root, it might be a heavy stoner riff not out of place on a record rife with Sleep worship, but as one might in a rehearsal space introducing a riff to a band and subsequently feeling out where it goes, “Mantle” suitably taps into the jam beneath what in many other circumstances becomes a part of a structured song. This band in the pitwillfully repetitive take and the raw character of the material overall become defining features, and between “Phalaris” and “Mantle,” more than half of Goda‘s 32-minute runtime is accounted for. As substance goes, it is not misplaced or misused.

Chemistry in the songs should be taken as a given. Band in the Pit probably wouldn’t exist at this point, never mind this record, if they didn’t enjoy being in the room together, and that comes through as they move deeper into the second half of “Mantle” and the procession starts to sort of playfully unravel, noise entering ahead of a fade that brings the crash-in of “Goda” to mirror that of “Phalaris” earlier. “Goda” is the start of side B and it hammers through a heavier riff than either of side A’s cuts boasted, departing at about two and a half minutes in for a ’90s noise howl of a brief solo before realigning around crashes. And I’m not sure if it’s actually something other than the guitar, bass or drums being beaten on, or maybe an echo or effect, but there’s an almost metallic ting as they circle around that same part.

There’s a slight but notable change after about four minutes into “Goda” where the strum opens a bit while the bass and drums, again, hold the foundation, and I swear to you that if they had someone screaming obscurities overtop about the Gemenc Forest would be some of the best progressive black metal you’d hear in 2023. As it stands, they ride the movement to a sudden stop and a dirtier guitar tone begins “Relight,” soon smoothly joined by the rhythm section. The spell of “Goda” is hardly broken by the closer, and Band in the Pit remain true to their purpose — that is, they find where they want to be and stay there in terms of a central chug — before shifting into weightier, noisier duggery to finish. By the time they’re done, they’re quiet again, capping with a quiet drone of residual noise, but they balance that moment of whole-album revelry with the calming affect of their repetitions.

If you can move your neck to nod, you can get down. Band in the Pit aren’t so much laying out a challenge with Goda as inviting the listener to dig in alongside the band. Because the hypnosis cast in “Phalaris” no doubt works both ways; the driver is also on board, if you get what I’m saying. That going-together sensibility further bolsters the immersive aspects of Goda, but if you find yourself feeling lost in listening, rest assured that the ground is still there under your feet and the path you and they are on remains ahead of you.

Please enjoy:

Vinyl preorder:

As heavy mountains sing.

Important to support the band directly at (they do merch combo, and lower prices)

Music written and performed by Band In The Pit.
Recorded in 2021 at L.V. Studio – Budapest – H.
Released in 2023 by Psychedelic Source Records and Para Hobo Records.

Releases October 15, 2023.

Mix and master – László Válik
Original artwork – Anna Kiss
Editing – Viktor Juhász-D

Drums – Norman Prókai
Guitar – Szabolcs Késmárky
Bass – Vilmos Schneider

Band in the Pit, Live at SzimplaRocks

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Quarterly Review: Samsara Blues Experiment, Restless Spirit, Stepmother, Pilot Voyager, Northern Liberties, Nyxora, Old Goat Smoke, Van Groover, Hotel Lucifer, Megalith Levitation

Posted in Reviews on October 3rd, 2023 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk winter quarterly review

I broke my wife’s phone yesterday. What a mess. I was cleaning the counter or doing some shit and our spare butter dish — as opposed to the regular one, which was already out — was sitting near the edge of the top of the microwave, from where I bumped it so that the ceramic corner apparently went right through the screen hard enough that in addition to shattering it there’s a big black spot and yes a new phone has been ordered. In the meantime, she can’t type the letter ‘e’ and, well, I have to hand it to Le Creuset on the sturdy construction of their butter dishes. Technology succumbing to the brute force of a harder blunt object and gravity.

Certainly do wish that hadn’t happened. What does it have to do with riffs, or music at all, or really anything? Who cares. I’m about to review 10 records today. I can talk about whatever the hell I want.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Samsara Blues Experiment, Rock Hard in Concert

samsara blues experiment rock hard in concert

10 years after releasing 2013’s Live at Rockpalast (review here), and nearly three after they put out their 2021 swansong studio LP, End of Forever (review here), German heavy psych rockers Samsara Blues Experiment offer the 80-minute live 2LP Rock Hard in Concert, and while it’s not their first live album, it gives a broader overview of the band from front to (apparent) back during their time together, as songs opening salvo of “Center of the Sun,” “Singata Mystic Queen” and “For the Lost Souls” from 2010’s debut, Long-Distance Trip (review here), melds in the set with “One With the Universe” and “Vipassana” from 2017’s One With the Universe (review here), End of Forever‘s own title-track and “Massive Passive,” and “Hangin’ on a Wire” from 2013’s Waiting for the Flood (review here) to become a fan-piece that nonetheless engages in sound and presentation. If you were there, it’s likely must-own. For the rest of us, who maybe did or didn’t see the band during their time — glad to say I did — it’s a reminder of how immersive they could be, especially in longer-form material, and how much influence they had on the last decade-plus of jam-based heavy psych in Europe. Recorded in 2018 at a special gig for Germany’s Rock Hard magazine, Rock Hard in Concert follows behind 2022’s Demos & Rarities (review here) in the band’s posthumous catalog, and it may or may not be Samsara Blues Experiment‘s final non-reissue release. Whether it is or not, it summarizes their run gorgeously and puts a light on the chemistry of the trio that led them through so many winding aural paths.

Samsara Blues Experiment on Facebook

World in Sound Records website

Restless Spirit, Afterimage

Restless Spirit Afterimage

Sounding modern and full and in opening cut “Marrow” almost like the fuzz is about to swallow the rest of the song, Restless Spirit step forward with their third long-player, Afterimage, and establish a new level of craft for themselves. In 2021, the Long Island heavy/doom rock trio offered Blood of the Old Gods (review here), and their guitar-led energetic surges continue here in Afterimage riffers like the chug-nod “Shadow Command” and “Of Spirit and Form,” which seems to account for the underlying metallic edge of the band’s execution with its sharper turns. Their first album for Magnetic Eye Records, its eight tracks fit smoothly into the label’s roster, which at its baseline might be said to foster modern heavy styles with a particular ear for songwriting and melody, and Restless Spirit dig into “All Furies” like High on Fire galloping into a wall of Slayer records, only to follow with the 1:45 instrumental reset “Brutalized,” which is somehow weightier. They touch on the ethereal with the guitar in “The Fatalist,” but the vocals are more post-hardcore and have a grounding effect, and after starting with outright crush, “Hell’s Grasp” offers respite in progressive flourish and midtempo meandering before resuming the double-plus-huge roll and pointed riff and noodly offsets, the huge hook coming back in a way that makes me miss doing a radio show. “Hell’s Grasp” is the longest piece on the collection at 6:25, but “From the Dust Returned” closes, mindful of the atmospherics that have been at work all along and no less huge, but clearly saving a last push for, well, last. I’ll be interested in how it holds up over the long term, but Magnetic Eye has become one of the US’ most essential labels in heavy music and releases like this are exactly why.

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Magnetic Eye Records store

Stepmother, Planet Brutalicon

stepmother planet brutalicon

When did Graham Clise from Witch Lecherous Gaze, etc. — dude used to be in Uphill Battle; I remember that band — move to Australia? Doesn’t matter. It happened and Stepmother is the raw, garage-ish fuzz rock outfit the now-Melbourne-residing Clise has established, with Rob Muinos on bass and vocals and Sam Rains on drums. With Clise on guitar/vocals peppering hard-strummed riffs with bouts of shred and various dirtier coatings, the 12-tracker goes north of four minutes one time for “Do You Believe,” already by then having found its proto-Misfits bent in the catchy “Scream for Death.” But whether they’re buzz-overdosing “Waiting for the Axe” or digging into the comedown in “Signed DC” ahead of the surf-informed rager of a finale “Gusano,” Planet Brutalicon is a debut that presents fresh ideas taking on known stylistic elements. And it’s not a showcase for Clise‘s instrumental prowess on a technical level or anything — he’s not trying to put on a clinic — but from the sound of his guitar to the noises he gets from it in “The Game” (that middle part, ultra-fuzz) and at the end of “Stalingrad,” it is very much a guitar-centered offering. No complaints there whatsoever.

Stepmother on Instagram

Tee Pee Records website

Pilot Voyager, The Structure is Still Under Construction

Pilot Voyager The Structure is Still Under Construction

WARNING: Users who take even a small dose of Pilot Voyager‘s The Structure is Still Under Construction may find themselves experiencing euphoria, or adrift, as though on some serene ocean under the warm green sky of impossibly refracted light. The ethereal drones and melodic textures of the 46-minute single-song LP may cause side effects like: momentary flashes of inner peace, the quieting of your brain that you’ve been seeking your whole life without knowing it, calm. Also nausea, but that’s probably just something you ate. Talk to your doctor about whether this extended work from the Hungarian collective Psychedelic Source Records (szia!) is right for you, and if it is, make sure to consume responsibly. Headphones required (not included or covered by insurance). Do not be afraid as “The Structure is Still Under Construction” leaves the water behind to float upward in its midsection, finally resolving in intertwining drones, vague sampled speech echoing far off somewhere — ugh, the real world — and birdsong someplace in the mix. Go with it. This is why you got the prescription in the first place. Decades of aural research and artistic movement and progression have led you and the Budapesti outfit to this moment. Do not operate heavy machinery. Ever. In fact, find an empty field, take off your pants and run around for a while until you get out of breath. Then drink cool water and giggle. This could be you. Your life.

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Psychedelic Source Records on Bandcamp

Northern Liberties, Self-Dissolving Abandoned Universe

northern liberties Self-Dissolving Abandoned Universe

Philadelphia has become the East Coast US’ hotbed for heavy psychedelia, which must be interesting for Northern Liberties, who started out more than two decades ago. The trio’s self-released, 10-song/41-minute Self-Dissolving Abandoned Universe — maybe their eighth album, if my count is right — with venerated producer Steve Albini, so one might count ‘instant-Gen-X-cred’ and ‘recognizably-muddy-toms’ among their goals. I wasn’t completely sold on the offering until “Infusorian Hymnal” started to dig a little further into the genuinely weird after opener “The Plot Thickens” and the subsequent “Drowned Out” laid forth the crunch of the tones and gave hints of the structures beneath the noise. “Crucible” follows up the raw shove of “Star Spangled Corpse” by expanding the palette toward space rock and an unhinged psych-noise shove that the somehow-still-Hawkwindian volatility of “The Awaited” moves away from while the finale “Song of the Sole Survivor” calls back to the folkish vocal melody in “Ghosts of Ghosts,” if in echoing and particularly addled fashion. Momentum serves the three-piece well throughout, though they seem to have no trouble interrupting themselves (can relate), and turning to follow a disparate impulse. Distractable heavy? Yeah, except bands like that usually don’t last two decades. Let’s say maybe their own kind of oddball, semi-spaced band who aren’t afraid to screw around in the studio, find what they like, and keep it. And whatever else you want to say about Albini-tracked drums, “Hold on to the Darkness” has a heavier tone to its snare than most guitars do to whole LPs. Whatever works, and it does.

Northern Liberties website

Northern Liberties on Bandcamp

Nyxora, “Good Night, Ophelia”

Nyxora Good Night Ophelia

“Good Night, Ophelia” is the first single from the forthcoming debut full-length from semi-goth Portland, Oregon, heavy rock four-piece Nyxora. There are worse opening shots to fire than a Hamlet reference, I suppose, and if one regards Ophelia’s character as an innocent driven to suicide by gender-based oppression, then her lack of agency is nothing if not continually relevant. Nonetheless, for NyxoraVox on, well, vox, guitarist E.Wrath, bassist Luke and drummer Weatherman — she pairs with dark-boogie riff recorded for edge with Witch Mountain‘s Rob Wrong at his Wrong Way Studio. There are some similarities between Nyxora and Wrong‘s own outfit — I double-checked it wasn’t Uta Plotkin singing some of the higher-reaching lines of “Good Night, Ophelia,” which is a definite compliment — but I get the sense that fuller atmosphere of Nyxora‘s first LP isn’t necessarily encapsulated in this one three-and-a-half-minute song. That is, I’m thinking at some point on the album, Nyxora will get more morose than they are here. Or maybe not. Either way, “Good Night, Ophelia” is an enticing teaser from a group who seem ready to dig their niche when the album is released, I’ll assume in 2024 though one never knows.

Nyxora on Facebook

Nyxora on Bandcamp

Old Goat Smoke, Demo

Old Goat Smoke Demo

I hate to do it, but I’m calling bullshit right now on Sydney, Australia’s Old Goat Smoke. Sorry gents. To be sure, your Bongzilla-crusty, ultra-stoned, Church of Misery-esque-in-its-madcap-vocal-wails, goat weed metal is only a pleasure to behold. But that’s the problem. How’re you gonna write a song called “Old Goat Smoke” and not post the lyrics? I shudder to think of the weed puns I’m missing. Fortunately, it’s not too late for the newcomer band to correct the mistake before the entire project is derailed. In that eponymous one of three total tracks included, Old Goat Smoke cast themselves in the mold of the despondent and disaffected. “Return to Dirt” shifts fluidly in and out of screams and harsher fare while radioactive-dirt tonality infects the guitar and bass that have already challenged the drums to cut through their morass. So that there’s no risk of the point not being made, they cap this initial public offering with “The Great Hate,” and eight-and-a-half-minute treatise on feedback and raw scathe that’s likewise a show of future nastiness to manifest. Quit your job, do all the drugs you can find, engage the permanent fuck-off. Old Goat Smoke may not have ‘bong’ in their moniker, but that’s about all they’re missing. And those lyrics, I guess, though by the time the 20 minutes of Demo have expired, they’ve made their caustic point regardless.

Old Goat Smoke on Facebook

Old Goat Smoke on Bandcamp

Van Groover, Back From the Shop

Van Groover Back From the Shop

German transport-themed heavy rock and rollers Van Groover — as in, one who grooves in or with vans — made a charming debut with 2021’s Honk if Parts Fall Off (review here), and the follow-up five-song EP, Back From the Shop, makes no attempt to fix what isn’t broken. That would seem to put it at odds with the mechanic speaking in the intro “Hill Willy’s Chop Shop,” who runs through a litany of issues fixed, goes on long enough to hypnotize and then swaps in body parts and so on. From there, the motor works, and Van Groover hit the gas through 21 minutes of smells-like-octane riffing and storytelling. In “A-38″ — the reference being to the size of a sheet of paper in Europe; equivalent but not the same as the US’ 8.5″ x 11” — they either get arrested, which would seem to be the ending of “The Bandit” just before,” or are at the DMV, I can’t quite tell, but it doesn’t matter one you meet “The Grizz.” The closer has an urgency to its push that doesn’t quite sound like I’d imagine being torn apart by a bear to feel, but the Lebowski-paraphrased penultimate line, “Some days you get eaten by the bear, some days the bear eats you,” underscores Van Groover‘s for-the-converted approach, speaking to the subculture from within. Possibly while driving. Does look like a nice van, though. The kind you might write a song or two about.

Van Groover on Facebook

Van Groover on Bandcamp

Hotel Lucifer, Hotel Lucifer

Hotel Lucifer Hotel Lucifer

Facts-wise, there’s not much more I can tell you about Hotel Lucifer than you might glean from looking at the New York four-piece’s Bandcamp page. Their self-released and self-titled debut runs 43 minutes and eight tracks, and its somewhat bleak, not-obligated-to-heavy-tonalism course takes several violent thematic turns, including (I think.) in opener “Room 222,” where Katie‘s vocals seem to talk about raping god. This, “Murderer,” “Torquemada,” “The Ultimate Price,” “Picking Your Eyes Out” and 12-minute horror noisefest closer “Beheaded” — only the classic metaller “Training the Beast” and the three-minute acoustic-backed psychedelic voice showcase “Echidna” seem to restrain the brutaller impulses, and I’m not sure about that either. With Jimmy on guitar, Muriel playing bass and Ed on drums, Hotel Lucifer are defined in no small part by the whispers, rasps and croons that mark their verses and choruses, but that becomes an effective means to convey character and mood along with the instrumental ambience behind, and so Hotel Lucifer find this strange, almost willfully off-putting cultish individualism, and it’s not hooks keeping your attention so much as the desire to figure it out, to learn more about just what the hell is going on on this record. I’ll wish you good luck with that as I continue my efforts along similar lines.

Hotel Lucifer on Bandcamp

Megalith Levitation, Obscure Fire

Megalith Levitation Obscure Fire

Its five songs broken into two sections along lines of “Obscure Fire” pairing with “Of Silence” and “Descending” leading to “Into the Depths” with “Of Eternal Doom” answering the question that didn’t even really need to be asked about which depths the Russian stoner sludge rollers were talking about. The Sleep-worshiping three-piece of guitarist/vocalist SAA, bassist KKV and drummer PAN — whose credits are worth reading in the band’s own words — lumber with purpose as they make that final statement, each side of Obscure Fire working shortest to longest beginning with the howling guitar and drum thud of the title-track at nine minutes as opposed to the 10 of “Of Silence.” At two minutes, “Descending” is barely more than feedback and tortured gurgles, so yes, very much a fit with the concrete-toned plod of the subsequent “Into the Depths” as the band skirt the line between ultra-stoner metal and cavernous atmospheric sludge without necessarily committing to one or the other. That position favors them, but after a certain point of being bludgeoned with huge riffs and slow-nodding, deeply-weighted churn, your skull is going to be goo either way. The route Megalith Levitation take to get you there is where the weed is, aurally speaking.

Megalith Levitation on Facebook

Addicted Label on Bandcamp

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Quarterly Review: Yakuza, Lotus Thrones, Endtime & Cosmic Reaper, High Priest, MiR, Hiram-Maxim, The Heavy Co., The Cimmerian, Nepaal, Hope Hole

Posted in Reviews on May 10th, 2023 by JJ Koczan


Coming at you live and direct from the Wegmans pharmacy counter where I’m waiting to pick up some pinkeye drops for my kid, who stayed home from half-day pre-k on Monday because the Quarterly Review isn’t complicated enough on its own. It was my diagnosis that called off the bus, later confirmed over telehealth, so at least I wasn’t wrong and shot my own day. I know this shit doesn’t matter to anyone — it’ll barely matter to me in half an hour — but, well, I don’t think I’ve ever written while waiting for a prescription before and I’m just stoned enough to think it might be fun to do so now.

Of course, by the time I’m writing the reviews below — tomorrow morning, as it happens — this scrip will have long since been ready and retrieved. But a moment to live through, just the same.

We hit halfway today. Hope your week’s been good so far. Mine’s kind of a mixed bag apart from the music, which has been pretty cool.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Yakuza, Sutra

Yakuza sutra

Since it would be impossible anyway to encapsulate the scope of Yakuza‘s Sutra — the Chicago-based progressive psych-metal outfit led by vocalist/saxophonist Bruce Lamont, with Matt McClelland on guitar/backing vocals, Jerome Marshall on bass and James Staffel on drums/percussion — from the transcendental churn of “2is1” to the deadpan tension build in and noise rock payoff in “Embers,” the sax-scorch bass-punch metallurgical crunch of “Into Forever” and the deceptively bright finish of “Never the Less,” and so on, let’s do a Q&A. They still might grind at any moment? Yup, see “Burn Before Reading.” They still on a wavelength of their own? Oh most definitely; see “Echoes From the Sky,” “Capricorn Rising,” etc. Still underrated? Yup. It’s been 11 years since they released Beyul (review here). Still ahead of their time? Yes. Like anti-genre pioneers John Zorn or Peter Brötzmann turned heavy and metal, or like Virus or Voivod with their specific kind of if-you-know-you-know, cult-following-worthy individualist creativity, Yakuza weave through the consuming 53-minute procession of Sutra with a sensibility that isn’t otherworldly because it’s psychedelic or drenched in effects (though it might also be those things at any given moment), but because they sound like they come from another planet. A welcome return from an outfit genuinely driven toward the unique and a meld of styles beyond metal and/or jazz. And they’ve got a fitting home on Svart. I know it’s been over a decade, but I hope these dudes get old in this band.

Yakuza on Facebook

Svart Records website


Lotus Thrones, The Heretic Souvenir

Lotus Thrones The Heretic Souvenir

The second offering from Philadelphia multi-instrumentalist Heath Rave (Altars of the Moon, former drums in Wolvhammer, etc.) under the banner of Lotus Thrones, the seven-song/38-minute The Heretic Souvenir (on Disorder and Seeing Red) draws its individual pieces across an aural divide by means of a stark atmosphere, the post-plague-and-the-plague-is-capitalism skulking groove of “B0T0XDR0NE$” emblematic both of perspective and of willingness to throw a saxophone overtop if the mood’s right (by Yakuza‘s Bruce Lamont, no less), which it is. At the outset, “Gore Orphanage” is more of an onslaught, and “Alpha Centauri” has room for both a mathy chug and goth-rocking shove, the latter enhanced by Rave‘s low-register vocals. Following the Genghis Tron-esque glitch-grind of 1:16 centerpiece “Glassed,” the three-and-a-half-minute “Roses” ups the goth factor significantly, delving into twisted Type O Negative-style pulls and punk-rooted forward thrust in a highlight reportedly about Rave‘s kid, which is nice (not sarcastic), before making the jump into “Autumn of the Heretic Souvenir,” which melds Americana and low-key dub at the start of its 11-minute run before shifting into concrete sludge chug and encompassing trades between atmospheric melody and outright crush until a shift eight minutes in brings stand(mostly)alone keys backed by channel-swapping electronic noise as a setup for the final surge’s particularly declarative riff. That makes the alt-jazz instrumental “Nautilus” something of an afterthought, but not out of place in terms of its noir ambience that’s also somehow indebted to Nine Inch Nails. There’s a cough near the end. See if you can hear it.

Lotus Thrones on Facebook

Seeing Red Records store

Disorder Recordings website


Endtime & Cosmic Reaper, Doom Sessions Vol. 7


Realized at the formidable behest of Heavy Psych Sounds, the seventh installment of the Doom Sessions series (Vol. 8 is already out) brings together Sweden’s strongly cinematic sludge-doomers Endtime with fire-crackling North Carolinian woods-doomers Cosmic Reaper. With two songs from the former and three from the latter, the balance winds up with more of an EP feel from Cosmic Reaper and like a single with an intro from Endtime, who dedicate the first couple of minutes of “Tunnel of Life” to a keyboard intro that’s very likely a soundtrack reference I just don’t know because I’m horror-ignorant before getting down to riff-rumble-roll business on the righteously slow-raging seven minutes of “Beyond the Black Void.” Cosmic Reaper, meanwhile, have three cuts, with harmonized guitars entering “Sundowner” en route to a languid and melodic nod verse, a solo later answering the VHS atmosphere of Endtime before “Dead and Loving It” and “King of Kings” cult-doom their way into oblivion, the latter picking up a bit of momentum as it pushes near the eight-minute mark. It’s a little uneven, considering, but Doom Sessions Vol. 7 provides a showcase for two of Heavy Psych Sounds‘ up-and-coming acts, and that’s pretty clearly the point. If it leads to listeners checking out their albums after hearing it, mission accomplished.

Endtime on Facebook

Cosmic Reaper on Facebook

Heavy Psych Sounds website


High Priest, Invocation

High Priest Invocation

Don’t skip this because of High Priest‘s generic-stoner-rock name. The Chicago four-piece of bassist/vocalist Justin Valentino, guitarists Pete Grossmann and John Regan and drummer Dan Polak make an awaited full-length debut with Invocation on Magnetic Eye Records, and if the label’s endorsement isn’t enough, I’ll tell you the eight-song/44-minute long-player is rife with thoughtful construction, melody and heft. Through the opening title-track and into the lumber, sweep and boogie of “Divinity,” they incorporate metal with the two guitars and some of the vocal patterning, but aren’t beholden to that anymore than to heavy rock, and far from unipolar, “Ceremony” gives a professional fullness of sound that “Cosmic Key” ups immediately to round out side A before “Down in the Park” hints toward heavygaze without actually tipping over, “Universe” finds the swing buried under that monolithic fuzz, “Conjure” offers a bluesier but still huge-sounding take and 7:40 closer “Heaven” layers a chorus of self-harmonizing Valentinos to underscore the point of how much the vocals add to the band. Which is a lot. What’s lost in pointing that out is just how densely weighted their backdrop is, and the nuance High Priest bring to their arrangements throughout, but whether you want to dig into that or just learn the words and sing along, you can’t lose.

High Priest on Facebook

Magnetic Eye Records store


MiR, Season Unknown

mir season unknown

Its catharsis laced in every stretch of the skin-peeling tremolo and echoing screams of “Altar of Liar,” Season Unknown arrives as the first release from Poland’s MiR, a directly-blackened spinoff of heavy psych rockers Spaceslug, whose guitarist/vocalist Bartosz Janik and bassist/vocalist Jan Rutka feature along with guitarist Michał Zieleniewski (71tonman) and drummer Krzystof Kamisiński (Burning Hands). The relationship to Janik and Rutka‘s other (main?) band is sonically tenuous, though Spaceslug‘s Kamil Ziółkowski also guests on vocals, making it all the more appropriate that MiR stands as a different project. Ripping and progressive in kind, cuts like “Lost in Vision” and the blastbeaten severity of “Ashen” are an in-genre rampage, and while “Sum of All Mourn” is singularly engrossing in its groove, the penultimate “Yesterday Rotten” comes through as willfully stripped to its essential components until its drifting finish, which is fair enough ahead of the more expansive closer “Illusive Loss of Inner Frame,” which incorporates trades between all-out gnash and atmospheric contemplations. I won’t profess to be an expert on black metal, but as a sidestep, Season Unknown is both respectfully bold and clearly schooled in what it wants to be.

MiR on Facebook

MiR on Bandcamp


Hiram-Maxim, Colder

Hiram-Maxim Colder

Recorded by esteemed producer Martin Bisi (Swans, Sonic Youth, Unsane, etc.) in 2021-’22, Colder is Hiram-Maxim‘s third full-length, with hints of Angels of Light amid the sneering heaviness of “Bathed in Blood” after opener/longest track (immediate points) “Alpha” lays out the bleak atmosphere in which what follows will reside. “Undone” gets pretty close to laying on the floor, while “It Feels Good” very pointedly doesn’t for its three minutes of dug-in cafe woe, from out of which “Hive Mind” emerges with keys and drums forward in a moody verse before the post-punk urgency takes more complete hold en route to a finish of manipulated noise. As one would have to expect, “Shock Cock” is a rocker at heart, and the lead-in from the drone/experimental spoken word of “Time Lost Time” holds as a backdrop so that its Stooges-style comedown heavy is duly weirded out. Is that a theremin? Possibly. They cap by building a wall of malevolence and contempt with “Sick to Death” in under three minutes, resolving in a furious assault of kitchen-sink volume, that, yes, recedes, but is resonant enough to leave scratches on your arm. Don’t let anyone tell you this isn’t extreme music just because some dude isn’t singing about killing some lady or quoting a medical dictionary. Colder could just as easily have been called ‘Volcanic.’

Hiram-Maxim on Facebook

Wax Mage Records on Facebook


The Heavy Co., Brain Dead

The Heavy Co Brain Dead

Seeming always to be ready with a friendly, easy nod, Lafayette/Indianapolis, Indiana’s The Heavy Co. return with “Brain Dead” as a follow-up single to late-2022’s “God Damn, Jimmy.” The current four-piece incarnation of the band — guitarist/vocalist Ian Daniel, guitarist Jeff Kaleth, bassist Eric Bruce and drummer TR McCully — seem to be refocused from some of the group’s late-’10s departures, elements of outlaw country set aside in favor of a rolling riff with shades of familiar boogie in the start-stops beneath its solo section, a catchy but largely unassuming chorus, and a theme that, indeed, is about getting high. In one form or another, The Heavy Co. have been at it for most of the last 15 years, and in a little over four minutes they demonstrate where they want their emphasis to be — a loose, jammy feel held over from the riffout that probably birthed the song in the first place coinciding with the structure of the verses and chorus and a lack of pretense that is no less a defining aspect than the aforementioned riff. They know what they’re doing, so let ’em roll on. I don’t know if the singles are ahead of an album release or not, but whatever shows up whenever it does, The Heavy Co. are reliable in my mind and this is right in their current wheelhouse.

The Heavy Co. on Facebook

The Heavy Co. on Bandcamp


The Cimmerian, Sword & Sorcery Vol. I

the cimmerian sword and sorcery vol i

The intervening year since L.A.’s The Cimmerian made their debut with Thrice Majestic (review here) seems to have made the trio even more pummeling, as their Sword & Sorcery Vol. I two-songer finds them incorporating death and extreme metal for a feel like a combined-era Entombed on leadoff “Suffer No Guilt” which is a credit to bassist Nicolas Rocha‘s vocal burl as well as the intensity of riff from David Gein (ex-The Scimitar) and corresponding thrash gallop in David Morales‘ drumming. The subsequent “Inanna Rising” is slower, with a more open nod in its rhythm, but no less threatening, with fluid rolls of double-kick pushing the verse forward amid the growls and an effective scream, a sample of something (everything?) burning, and a kick in pace before the solo about halfway into the track’s 7:53. If The Cimmerian are growing more metal, and it seems they are, then the aggression suits them as the finish of “Inanna Rising” attests, and the thickness of sludge carried over in their tonality assures that the force of their impact is more than superficial.

The Cimmerian on Facebook

The Cimmerian on Bandcamp


Nepaal, Protoaeolianism

Nepaal Protoaeolianism

Released as an offering from the amorphous Hungarian collective Psychedelic Source Records, the three-song Protoaeolianism arrives under the moniker of Nepaal — also stylized as :nepaal, with the colon — finding mainstay Bence Ambrus on guitar with Krisztina Benus on keys, Dávid Strausz on bass, Krisztián Megyeri on drums and Marci Bíró on effects/synth for captured-in-the-moment improvisations of increasing reach as space and psych and krautrocks comingle with hypnotic pulsations on “Innoxial Talent Parade” (9:54), the centerpiece “Brahman Sleeps 432 Billion Years” (19:14) and “Ineffable Minor States” (13:44), each of which has its arc of departure, journey and arrival, forming a multi-stage narrative voyage that’s as lush as the liquefied tones and sundry whatever-that-was noises. “Ineffable Minor States” is so serene in its just-guitar start that the first time I heard it I thought the song had cut off, but no. They’re just taking their time, and why shouldn’t they? And why shouldn’t we all take some time to pause, engage mindfully with our surroundings, experience or senses one at a time, the things we see, hear, touch, taste, smell? Maybe Protoaeolianism — instrumental for the duration — is a call to that. Maybe it’s just some jams from jammers and I shouldn’t read anything else into it. Here then, as in all things, you choose your own adventure. I’m glad to be the one to tell you this is an adventure worth taking.

Psychedelic Source Records on Facebook

Psychedelic Source Records on Bandcamp


Hope Hole, Beautiful Doom

Hope Hole Beautiful Doom

There is much to dig into on the second full-length from Toledo, Ohio, duo Hope Hole — the returning parties of Matt Snyder and Mike Mulholland — who offer eight originals and a centerpiece cover of The Cure‘s “Sinking” that’s not even close to being the saddest thing on the record, titled Beautiful Doom presumably in honor of the music itself. Leadoff “Spirits on the Radio” makes me nostalgic for a keyboard-laced goth glory day that never happened while also tapping some of mid-period Anathema‘s abiding downer soul, seeming to speak to itself as much as the audience with repetitions of “You reap what you sew.” Some Godflesh surfaces in “600 Years,” and they’re resolute in the melancholy of “Common Sense” until the chugging starts, like a dirtier, underproduced Crippled Black Phoenix. Rolling with deceptive momentum, the title-track could be acoustic until it starts with the solo and electronic beats later before shifting into the piano, beats, drift guitar, and so on of “Sinking.” “Chopping Me” could be an entire band’s sound but it’s barely a quarter of what Hope Hole have to say in terms of aesthetic two records deep. “Mutant Dynamo” duly punks its arthouse sludge and shreds a self-aware over-the-top solo in the vein of Brendan Small, while “Pyrokinetic” revives earlier goth swing with a gruff biker exterior (I’d watch that movie) and a moment of spinning weirdo triumph at the end, almost happy to be burned, where the seven-minute finale “Cities of Gold” returns to beats over its gradual guitar start, emerging with chanting vocals to become its own declaration of progressive intent. Beautiful Doom ends with a steady march rather than the expected blowout, having built its gorgeous decay out of the same rotten Midwestern ground as the debut — 2021’s Death Can Change (review here) — but moved unquestionably forward from it.

Hope Hole on Facebook

Hope Hole on Bandcamp


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Full Album Premiere & Review: River Flows Reverse, The Homing Bird’s Trace

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on November 14th, 2022 by JJ Koczan


Hungarian psychedelic collective-within-a-collective River Flows Reverse release their second album, The Homing Bird’s Trace, this week through Psychedelic Source Records. The story of its making, which I’ve included below so you can read it from the point of view of the band rather than have me re-tell it, is a winding path that feels both true to life and true to the spirit of the music they create, which is open, pastoral, welcoming, vibrant, at times hypnotic, at times (righteously) confusing, and able at a moment’s notice to conjure coherent gorgeousness out of what feels like an ether of mellow-psych improvisation and exploration.

The project is one of many under the banner of Psychedelic Source Records, which is both a label pressing releases and promoting them digitally and kind of the tent under which various jam sessions take place. River Flows Reverse issued their debut, When River Flows Reverse (review here), in early 2021 (vinyl arrived later), and with it bid the world jó reggelt kívánok across a 2LP’s worth of material that finds answer and expansion on the 45 minutes of The Homing Bird’s Trace, which even in longer pieces like “Seconds” (7:50) and “Birds” (10:46) feels more song-based while maintaining the free-flowing spirit of arrangement makes it and made its predecessor so engaging. Built out of improvisational elements, there is a soft poetry to instrumental stretches like opener “Demons,” where sitar and banjo and zither complement vocals, keys, guitar, bass, drums, etc., and amid the sitar drone and hum of “Black Lake,” they touch on ’60s acidism in a way that both stands out from its surroundings and melts into them.

Players come and go, with drummer Tibor Kovács and multi-instrumentalist Bence Ambrus (who also runs Psychedelic Source) as the only two parties featured on every song. Because of this, it might seem like The Homing Bird’s Trace is somewhat opaque, but by the time “Demons” is 15 seconds into its sub-five-minute run, there’s no shortage of light shining through.

Whatever context rests beneath the surface of these artists’ history with each other through various forms and incarnations, River Flows Reverse invites you along with its headphone-worthy meditative wanderings, which are folk as much as jazz while still born of rock and roll — a bit of rumble at the start of centerpiece “Kingdom” tells the tale and goes a long way, even though the song is ultimately more about the vocal melody, provided by Krisztina Benus (also of Lemurian Folk Songs) as one of several highlight performances — and come across as wholly committed to the process of planting creative whims to see what gardens can grow atop a drum progression. From this, “Birds” seems to emerge as an entire world of its own, reshaping itself across its 10 minutes as part raga, part post-rock, subtle prog and ambient shades making themselves known in the keyboard and drums soon answered in the shimmer at the start of the penultimate “Karnevál III.”

So it goes. For as varied as the actual songs themselves are, with the trumpet showing up at the start of aptly-named second-track-on-second-record “Seconds” followed soon by flute and closer “Shadows” distinguished by its lysergic melancholy and the switch that brings Lőrinc Sántha back in on whispery vocals — there’s a kind of pulled guitar note at 1:52; still a smile on offer somewhere — amid the pitter-patter of ride cymbal taps, there is no lack of fluidity. And, given the fact that The Homing Bird’s Trace wound up as a River Flows Reverse album at all — because if they wanted to call it something else, one imagines they simply would — they would seem to know it.

These songs share a sense of reverence for the organic with When River Flows Reverse, as well as a unity through disunion; the effect of broadening the audience’s expectations by doing what feels right. It is a simple idea and something very, very few songwriters can accomplish. I have no doubt some of this material was edited together, that maybe more than one take of vocals or guitar was required to properly capture what they were going for, and if that’s the case at all, I don’t think it makes the strummy flourish of “Black Lake” any less authentic.

Whether it’s Sántha‘s vocal there or the noodling lead work of Dávid Nagy over Ambrus‘ cyclical sitar drone, or Iván Eln seeming to complete the thought on lead guitar in the finale — though it’s drums and banjo that have the last word; somehow fitting — The Homing Bird’s Trace is singly beautiful. It trusts the listener to weave through whatever disparate aspects might be perceived and to find its heart in the melody and the vibe, both of which await with arms wide. Structures exist but are duly vague, verses come as recitations, and the immersion of the entirety seems to encourage mindfulness even as it is otherworldly, moving. If you are willing to follow, River Flows Reverse will serve not so much to lead as to allow you to join in their own journey, to be a part and participant in the experience of this material as it happened. If one thinks of records as capturing moments, either as they happened or moments of creativity in a broader sense, The Homing Bird’s Trace is one fortunately preserved.

It would be truly silly and not at all in keeping with the soul of this music to try and predict when, if, or how River Flows Reverse might continue on from here. Even thinking about a future collection of songs — which might already exist for all I know — feels somewhat cheap in terms of looking at The Homing Bird’s Trace. Instead, let’s take a breath and be present in the present, here for the expansiveness on offer right now, leaving the rest to work itself out as it will or won’t. If what we have is today, The Homing Bird’s Trace would seem to argue in favor of taking it in as much as possible, and while I don’t necessarily agree with every position being taken in the statement on the project below, the resonance and character of this collection remain vital and sure to bring comfort where it is needed.

You’ll find the album streaming in full on the player below. Years from now, I will be proud to have hosted it.

River Flows Reverse

River Flows Reverse – The Homing Bird’s Trace (2022)


Recorded in Páty track by track, soon after the birth of Olívia.

It all started with a seedy yet friendly practice space on the Buda side, named after Miki, the underground cult hero. This is where Bence and Lőrinc (of the band Indeed) met. And as this venue was a true melting pot for musicians, jam sessions took place and the band Lemurian Folk Songs was formed, which Krisztina joined as singer. Ákos was also a regular at the venue and joined the community. However, to everyone’s dismay, Miki’s had to close down. So its musicians and bands began a wandering round town to find new places to practice and chill at. It was at one of these new venues (another old factory complex) where Ivan and Tibor entered the scene (both from the band Contremarque). Lemurian Folk Songs and Contremarque had lots of joint gigs. This led to Tibor drumming on Bence’s solo projects. Ákos also returned with his ambient postrock – showcasing his talent at a garden party – dazzling even the birds.

Volume I of the LP When River Flows Reverse was recorded haphazardly as musicians came and went, in a dank shanty in the very same garden during the global pandemic. Dávid, the guitarist of the jam-trio Slight Layers, Predictions hooked up with the gang in a psychedelic practice space-complex in Bajza Street, on the Pest side. Márton and Bence are childhood friends, having formed their first band in fourth grade. Nico is the trumpeter from the French band Hold Station. The other trumpeter, Miklós was recorded by accident while mixing another album. The song Homing Bird’s Trace (excepting the drums) was recorded during a pause of dogs barking and a baby crying, as it was during this time that Olivia – Krisztina and Bence’s daughter – was born.

The whole album is an edited, building improvisation with the drums serving as the foundation. None of the songs manifested before they left the instruments and recorded. The general mood of the release shifts slowly from glad to sad as a true mirror of our times gloomy reality. Truth be told, this is not depressing music. Depression is a new-age bullshit for boring, blinkered people. Nature is not sad, mountains don’t cry, the Sun isn’t melancholic. Sure, it can be cold and freaking scary alone in a rainy forest but the forest itself doesn’t feel depressed. Humans with souls folded by demons are the ones who have turned away from nature. But birds will keep on homing until the very end, rivers still run till they run dry, and lakes’ depths are truly the deepest black.

Mainly produced by Bence Ambrus and the Psychedelic Source Records crew.

1 – Demons
Tibor Kovács – drums
Krisztina Benus – vocals, keys
Bence Ambrus – guitar, noises, sitar, bass, lyrics, banjo
Iván Eln – guitar
Márton Havlik – Zither

2 – Seconds
Tibor Kovács – drums
Krisztina Benus – vocals, keys
Bence Ambrus – guitar, mandoline, bass, lyrics
Iván Eln – solo guitar
Márton Havlik – folk flute
Nico Delmas – trumpet

3 – Black Lake
Tibor Kovács – drums
Krisztina Benus – keys
Lőrinc Sántha- vocals, lyrics
Bence Ambrus – guitar, sitar, bass
Dávid Nagy – solo guitar

4 – Kingdom
Tibor Kovács – drums
Krisztina Benus – vocals, keys
Bence Ambrus – guitar, bass, lyrics
Dávid Nagy- solo guitar

5 – Birds
Miklós Kerner – trumpet
Krisztina Benus – vocal
Tibor Kovács – drums
Bence Ambrus – sitar, bass, lyrics
Ákos Karancz – ambient guitar
Dávid Nagy – noise guitar, slight solo
Márton Havlik – folk flute

6 – Karnevál III
Tibor Kovács – drums
Bence Ambrus – bass, slide guitar
Ákos Karancz – ambient guitar
Iván eln – solo guitar

7 – Shadows
Tibor Kovács – drums
Lőrinc Sántha – vocals, lyrics
Bence Ambrus – fingerpicking guitar, bass, banjo, slide guitar
Iván Eln – solo guitar

Psychedelic Source Records on Facebook

Psychedelic Source Records on Bandcamp

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Quarterly Review: Crippled Black Phoenix, Chat Pile, Early Moods, Larman Clamor, The Necromancers, Les Lekin, Highbay, Sound Animal, Warcoe, DONE

Posted in Reviews on September 23rd, 2022 by JJ Koczan


See you back here Monday, huh? Yeah. If onslaughts of new music are your thing and you’ve been following along throughout this week — first, thank you — and second, we’ll pick up after the weekend with another 50 albums in this double-wide Fall 2022 Quarterly Review. This was a good week though. Yesterday had some genuine killers, and I’ve added a few to my best-of lists for the end-of-year stuff to come. There’ll be another Quarterly Review then too. Never any trouble filling slots with new releases. I’ve already started, in fact.

Madness. Didn’t I say something yesterday about one thing at a time? Ha.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Crippled Black Phoenix, Banefyre

crippled black phoenix banefyre

There are times where I wonder if Crippled Black Phoenix aren’t just making fun of other bands, their audience, themselves, and everything, and then there are times when I’m pretty sure they are. To wit, their latest outing for Season of Mist, Banefyre, is nearly an hour into its 90-plus-minute runtime before they offer up the 10-minute “Down the Rabbit Hole,” and, well, if we’re not down it by then, where the hell are we? See also “Wyches and Basterdz” near the outset. Whatever else they may be, the long-running, dynamic, progressive, dark heavy rock troupe surrounding founding songwriter and guitarist Justin Greaves are like nothing else. They offer shades of influences, discernable elements from this or that style, this or that band — “The Reckoning” has a bit of The Cure, “Blackout77” filters that through Katatonia, etc. — but are never working to be anyone but themselves. Accordingly, the thoroughly British depressive triumphs throughout Banefyre — looking at you, “I’m OK, Just Not Alright” — are part of an ongoing narrative of creative development that will hit its 20th year in 2024 and has offered listeners an arc of emotive and stylistic depth that, in whatever genre you want to try to confine it, is only ever going to escape. The only real tragedy of Banefyre is that they’ll probably have another record out before this one can be properly digested. That’ll take a few years at least.

Crippled Black Phoenix on Facebook

Season of Mist website


Chat Pile, God’s Country

Chat Pile God's Country

An Oklahoma hardcore-born circus of sludge-toned tragedies personal, cultural and socioeconomic played out across nine songs/42 minutes held together at times seemingly most of all by their disenchantment, Chat Pile‘s debut album, God’s Country is arthouse angularity, raw aggression and omnidirectional intensity. As the UK’s post-industrial waste once birth’d Godflesh, so now come vocalist Raygun Busch, guitarist Luther Manhole, bassist Stin and electronic-drummer Cap’n Ron with brilliantly constructed tales of drugs, murder, suicide, loss, violence, misery, and general wretchedness of spirit, presented instrumentally with quick turns that draw from hardcore as noted, but also death metal, sludge, industrial doom, and so on. The lyrics are masterful drug poetry and delivered as such, semi-spoken, shouted, some singing, some acting out, such that you never know from what direction the next punch is coming. “Why” tackles homelessness, “Pamela” demonstrates the impossibility of coping with loss, “Slaughterhouse” is what it says, and closer “Grimace_Smoking_Weed.jpeg” resolves its nine minutes in long-held feedback and crashes as Busch frantically screams with decreasing intelligibility until it’s even words anymore. A perfect finish to a stunning, terrifying, moving first album. Don’t go into it expecting listenability. Even as “I Don’t Care if I Burn” offers some respite, it does so while describing a murder fantasy. It’s not the only one.

Chat Pile on Instagram

The Flenser store


Early Moods, Early Moods

Early Moods Early Moods

Fuck yes Gen-Z doom. Yes. Yes. Yes. Show the old men how it’s done. Please. Not a gray hair in the bunch, or a bullshit riff, or a lazy groove. Early Moods got their influences in line with their 2020 debut EP, Spellbound (review here), and you can still hear some Candlemass in “Broken,” but their self-titled debut LP stamps its foot to mark their arrival as something new and a fresh take on classic ideas. Vocalist Alberto Alcaraz is a distinct presence atop the hard-distorted guitars of Eddie Andrade and Oscar Hernandez, while Elix Feliciano‘s bass fuzz-rumbles through the interlude “Memento Mori” and Chris Flores‘ big-room-ready kick counts in the Trouble‘d early highlight “Live to Suffer.” Later on, “Curse of the Light” leans into the metal end of classic doom metal ahead of the chugging roll of “Damnation” and the finisher “Funeral Macabre,” but Early Moods have already put these things in play by then, as demonstrated with the eponymous title-track. Songs are tight, crisply produced, and executed to style with a promise of more growth to come. It’s an easy record to get excited about, and one of 2022’s best albums. I might just buy the tape and the CD.

Early Moods on Facebook

RidingEasy Records store


Larman Clamor, With a Deadly Hiss

Larman Clamor With a Deadly Hiss

Less than a year after a return born of celebrating the project’s 10th anniversary with the Ink fo’ Blood (review here) full-length, prolific visual artist, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and singer Alexander von Wieding returns with Larman Clamor‘s latest, With a Deadly Hiss. As ever, formalities are dispensed with in favor of deceptively intricate arrangements of slide acoustic and electric guitar, whatever’s-around-style percussion and von Wieding‘s telltale throaty vocals, which on “Swamp Jive” and even a bit of the six-minute finale “Eleventh Spell to Cast” draw back the throaty grit in favor of a more melodic, somewhat less performative delivery that suits the material well. Songs are mostly short — there are 11 of them and the aforementioned closer is the longest by about three minutes — but each is a blinking glimpse into the humid, climbing-vine world of von Wieding‘s creation, and in instrumentals like the manic percussion of “Monkey and the Trash Goblins” and the distortion-backed algae-delica of “Iguana at the Fountain,” the brashness of “Tortuga” and the playful falsetto of the leadoff title-track are expanded in such a way as to hint of future paths to be explored. One way or the other, Larman Clamor remains an entity unto itself in concept, craft and delivery, and if With a Deadly Hiss is just another forward step en route to the next stop on down the road, even better.

Larman Clamor on Facebook

Larman Clamor on Bandcamp


The Necromancers, When the Void Rose

The Necromancers When the Void Rose

Recorded in 2021, The Necromancers‘ third album would seem to have a mind toward picking up where the Poitiers, France-based four-piece left off pre-pandemic with 2018’s Of Blood and Wine (review here). Can hardly blame them, frankly. Now self-releasing (their first two albums were on Ripple), the semi-cult heavy rockers bring an air of classic metal to the proceedings but are remarkably cohesive in their craft, with guitarist/vocalist Basile Chevalier-Coudrain fronting the band even in the studio as demonstrated on the ’80s metal roller “The Needle,” which follows the eight-minute doom-adjacent unfolding of “Crimson Hour” — and that “adjacent” is a compliment, by the way; The Necromancers are less concerned with playing to genre than with it — wherein guitarist Robin Genais adds a short but classy solo to underscore the willful grandiosity. Bassist Simon Evariste and drummer Benjamin Rousseau underscore the grooves, prominent in the verse of the title-track, and while it’s guitars up front in traditionalist fashion, the truth is all four players are critical here, and it’s the overarching affect of the whole that makes When the Void Rose such an engaging listen, rather than the individual parts. That is to say, listen front to back for best results.

The Necromancers on Facebook

The Necromancers on Bandcamp


Les Lekin, Limbus

Les Lekin Limbus

Though instrumental across its vast stretches, Les Lekin‘s Limbus — their first full-length since 2017’s Died with Fear, also on Tonzonen, and third overall — begins with a verbal message of hope, lyrics in German, in the beginning intro “Licht.” That gives a specifically covid-era context to the proceedings, but as the subsequent three massive sans-vocal pieces “Ascent” (14:14), “Unknown” (8:18) and closer “Return” (22:00), unfold, they do so with a decidedly otherworldly, deeply-weighted psychedelic verve. The narrative writes itself in the titles, so I’ll spare you the pretense of insight (on my part there), but note that if it was escapism through music being sought on the part of the meditative Salzburg three-piece, the richness of what’s on offer throughout Limbus is generous enough to share that experience with the audience as well. “Ascent” swells and builds as it moves duly upward, and in “Unknown,” the trio explores post-metallic atmospherics in a crunching midsection without ever losing sight of the ambience so central to what they’re doing, while it would be hard for “Return” not to be the highlight, drums and initial bass rumble giving way to a huge sounding, engrossing procession of atmospheric density. Les Lekin have been a critical favorite for a while now, and it’s easy to hear why, but their work here holds far more than academic appeal or to-genre conformity. They embody the release they would seem to have sought and still carry an exploratory spirit despite the clearly charted course of their songs.

Les Lekin on Facebook

Tonzonen Records store


Highbay, LightShower

highbay lightshower

LightShower is the fourth session from Hungarian jammers Highbay to see release in the last year-plus, and it arrives with the immediately noteworthy backing of Psychedelic Source Records. In the vein of many of that collective’s offerings, it is live recorded, probably improvised, and wholly instrumental, the trio vibing their way into a groove early on “Walking on Bubbles” and holding gently to that locked-in, entranced feel across the following five jams. The shimmering guitar tone, particuly as “Miracle Under Water” moves into the more extended “Spaceship” and the pleasantly funky “FunKing Dragons Above Fissure Mountains,” is a highlight, but the intention here is a full set, and I won’t take away from the fuzzier, riffier emergence later on in “FunKing Dragons” either, or, for that matter, the ready-to-wander post-rock float of closer “3D(ays) Trippin’.” It’s a big universe, and Highbay have their work cut out for them if they want to feel their way through all of it, but “Spaceship” mellows its way off into a greater beyond, and even “Hungover Sadness (’90s Romance)” manages to not be a drag as filtered through the trio’s chemistry. Maybe it will, maybe it won’t be the last time Highbay are heard from this year, but they’re yet another name to add to the list of Psychedelic Source-associated acts whose jammy sensibilities are helping manifest a new generation of Eastern European lysergic rock and roll.

Psychedelic Source Records on Facebook

Psychedelic Source Records on Bandcamp


Sound Animal, Yes, Yes, You

Sound Animal Yes Yes You

Think of this as less of a review and more of a general reminder to throw a follow in the direction of Berkeley, California’s dug-in-as-hell Sound Animal, or at very least let your ears pay a visit every now and again to soak up some of the weirdo drone, dance, psych electronics and whatever else might be had on any given afternoon from the prolific solo-project. “Yes, Yes, You” is the latest single, but likely not for long, and it plays out across 3:33 of keyboardian ambience and recitations of the titular reassurance that would be soul-pop were they not so definitively experimental and part of such an ongoing creative splurge. Tucked away in a corner of the Bandcamp dimension, Sound Animal comes across as an outlet for ideas as much as sonics, and with the persistent thud of a beat beneath, one, two, three, four, the melodic serenity of the wash feels like direct conversation, with the listener, the self, or, more likely, both. It is beautiful and brief, as I’m told life also is, and it may just be the thing that came after one thing and before the next, but if you stop for a minute or three and let it sink in, you just might find a more substantial place to reside. Not gonna be for everyone, but the fact that “Yes, Yes, You” is so vague and yet so clearly encouraging rather than accusatory speaks to the artistic purpose writ large throughout Sound Animal‘s e’er expanding catalog. Wouldn’t be surprised or sad to find a subsequent single going somewhere else entirely, but again, just a reminder that it’s worth finding that out.

Sound Animal on Facebook

Sound Animal website


Warcoe, The Giant’s Dream

Warcoe The Giant's Dream

Somewhere between classic metal and doom, heavy rock’s riff-led impulses and cultish atmospheres there resides the Pesaro, Italy, trio Warcoe and their debut album, The Giant’s Dream. Led by guitarist/vocalist Stefano — who also plays bass on some of the later tracks — with bassist Carlo and drummer Francesco proffering thickened roll and punctuating rhythm all the while save for the early acoustic interlude “Omega Sunrise,” the band nestle smoothly into a modern-via-not-at-all-modern sphere, yet neither are they retro or aping ’70s methodologies. Maybe that moment has passed and it’s the ascent of the ’80s metal and doom we’re seeing here — or maybe I just slated Warcoe and Early Moods the same day and both bands dig Trouble and Death Row/Pentagram, I won’t pretend to know — but the bass in “Fire and Snow” is more of a presence than bass was pretty much ever 40 years ago, so to call The Giant’s Dream anything but ‘now’ is inaccurate. They lean into rock on “Thieves, Heretics and Whores” and manifest grim but stately lurch before the fade of the penultimate “Scars Will Remain,” but wherever each piece might end up, the impression is abidingly dark and offers a reminder that Italy’s history of cult doom goes farther back than most. Paul Chain, Steve Sylvester, your legacy is in good hands.

Warcoe on Facebook

Forbidden Place Records on Bandcamp


DONE, Aged and Untreated

DONE Aged & Untreated

Hard to find info on the Boston or Boston-adjacent extreme-metal-inflected, sludge-toned dark hardcore outfit DONE — and that may just as well be anti-social-media mystique creation as the fact that their name is ungooglable — but the tape slays. Aged and Untreated hammers 15 scathing tracks into its 28 minutes, and dies on a hill of wintry black metal and barking hardcore mostly but not completely summarized in the turns of “Soulsplitter.” The fun part is when they bounce back and forth, throw in some grind on “To Curt on Waverly,” scratch your eyes out with “Dance for Them” — the second cut behind says-it-all-in-a-minute opener “Nah” — and willfully crash into a wall on the comparatively sprawling 2:35 “I Fucking Hate Thinking About You.” Haven’t seen a lyric sheet and probably won’t if my success rate in tracking down relevant factoids is anything to go by, but shit, I lived on the South Shore for seven years, including the record-breaking winter of 2014, and it sure felt a lot like this. Maybe they’re from Arizona, and if they are, I’m sure some hack would say the same thing, but hell’s bells Aged and Untreated is an intense listen, and its wreck-your-shit violence is meted out such that even the slightly-slower punch in the first half of “Hope Trickle” makes the song feel sarcastic. I wouldn’t put it on every day, but yeah. Righteously pissed.

Tor Johnson Records on Bandcamp

Tor Johnson Records store


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Quarterly Review: Endless Boogie, Sula Bassana, Redscale, Seven Rivers of Fire, Cult Burial, Duster 69, Tankograd, Mother Iron Horse, Ouzo Bazooka, Pilot Voyager

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


Somewhere just before I started this Quarterly Review, the contact form on this website was fixed. This, obviously, was a mistake. On my desktop that have come in over the last week and a day are more than enough releases to have continued the Fall 2021 QR for at least two more days, if not longer. That’s just not happening. The music’s been good, but I’ve had both of our family cars break down in the last two days, I’ve been fighting to get a bus to pick my kid up for school in the morning, and waking up at 4:30 to write only seems to result in nodding off while brushing my teeth. Not to mention, as The Patient Mrs. very gracefully doesn’t tell me during these times, I’m a total bitch when I do this. Again, she doesn’t say it. The message though is pretty clear.

So best to quit while I’m… already behind again…

Thanks for reading.

Quarterly Review #61-70:

Endless Boogie, Admonitions

endless boogie admonitions

Let’s not talk about how Paul Major has cool hair. Or how he’s well known in record-trader circles or whatever else. Let’s talk about Endless Boogie‘s largely-insurmountable 80-plus minutes of jams on Admonitions and how reliable the band have become when one seeks sleek-grooved expanses, not reliant on effects wash and synthesized swirl, but just the rawer guitar, bass, drums, periodic-but-don’t-go-expecting-them vocals. You put on Endless Boogie, you’re gonna get some groove. Pick a favorite between the sides-A-and-C-consuming 22-minute tracks “The Offender” and “Jim Tully” if you want, I’ll take both, and the minimal drone of “The Conversation” and “The Incompetent Villains of 1968” for a bonus. At 5:12 and with vocals, “Bad Call” is about as close as they come to a ‘single’ in the traditional sense — it’s the centerpiece of side B, with “Disposable Thumbs” before and the cool-built funk of “Counterfeiter” after — but if you’re looking for singles you’re missing the point here. The point is to put it on and go. So go, god damn it.

Endless Boogie on Bandcamp

No Quarter website


Sula Bassana, Loop Station Drones

sula bassana loop station drones

A collection of various pieces — aren’t we all? — by Dave “Sula Bassana” Schmidt (Electric Moon, Zone Six, etc.), Loop Station Drones may be aptly named in terms of the basic process of creation, but that hardly covers the scope of the release’s 78-minute span, whether that’s the meditative undercurrent in opener “Roadburn Haze,” slightly edited from Schmidt‘s Roadburn Redux appearance earlier in 2021, the 16-bit cosmic soundtracking of “Rolling in Outer Space” (I’d play the shit out whatever game that is on SNES), the moodier breadth of “Die Karawane der Unsterblichen” and “Wastelandgarden” or the motorik pulse of the 17-minute “Dopeshuttle.” Especially pivotal is the closing duo of “Stargate” (14:06) and “One Way” (6:04), which offer serenity and wistfulness, respectively, that bridge a rare emotionality for what according to its title is a simple ‘drone.’ Anytime Schmidt wants to turn this into an ongoing series, that’ll be fine.

Sula Bassana on Facebook

Sulatron Records webstore


Redscale, The Old Colossus

redscale the old colossus

Rock for rockers. Berlin four-piece Redscale roll out a scenario in which Clutch and Kyuss and Soundgarden and Truckfighters and probably six or seven other of your favorite heavy rock live acts got together and decided to put down a batch of kickass songs. That’s what’s up. The Old Colossus is the band’s fourth LP, first for Majestic Mountain, and if they spent their first two albums figuring out how to get shit done, well, they sound like it. Things get duly big-sounding on “Hard to Believe” and they go acoustic on “At the End” ahead of the closer “The Lathe of Heaven,” but basically what Redscale do here is identify the boxes needing ticking and then tick the crap out of them. They’re not reshaping the genre, but they’re definitely doing righteous work within it. The rockers will know the rock when they hear it. Everyone else can get bent.

Redscale on Facebook

Majestic Mountain Records webstore


Seven Rivers of Fire, Hail Star of the Sea!

Seven Rivers of Fire Hail Star of the Sea

A solo-project of William Randles, also of Durban, South Africa’s Rise Up, Dead Man, the acoustic-led Seven Rivers of Fire brings a sense of outbound ritualism to drone-folk and organic psychedelia with this second self-released offering, Hail Star of the Sea!. I’m not sure if he’s handling all the instruments himself or not, but one is reminded of Om-split-era Six Organs of Admittance throughout the 20-minute “Crossing the Abyss / The Magician’s Journey,” and instrumental pieces like “I Saw Satan Fall Like Lightning” and “Ghost Dance / Sign of the Goddess” and “Ha-Sulam / Drawing Down the Moon” have a current of tension running alongside their largely-unplugged peacefulness. The 76-minute entirety of the outing is best enjoyed in the sun, outside, but whatever the context in which one might visit it in part or whole, the material is evocative of warmth and its swells and recessions effectively call out to the water. Not a minor undertaking, but neither should it be.

Seven Rivers of Fire on Facebook

Seven Rivers of Fire on Bandcamp


Cult Burial, Oblivion EP


What to call it? Wrench metal, because it feels like it’s systemically pulling you apart? Cement metal because of all that crushing? Post-death metal because all that sludge and doom mixed in sure sounds like decay and that’s what comes after? I don’t know. None of my names for anything ever stick anyway — the tragedy of being irrelevant — but London extremity-purveyors Cult Burial offer three-tracks of doom-laced death in Oblivion, with the short outing following-up on their well-received 2020 self-titled debut in an impressively seamless melding of genres, technical leads searing through lumbering riffs, harsh vocals, various barks and screams, populating this dense and pummeling sampler from the nine-minute opening title-slab through “Parasite” and “Paralysed,” and I’d say they save the heaviest for last, but they hammer-smashed the scale to bits because who the hell cares anyway? All this and atmosphere too. Whatever big-timey metal label ends up snagging this band is gonna have a beast on their hands.

Cult Burial on Facebook

Cult Burial website


Duster 69, 2021

duster 69 2021

German heavy rockers Duster 69 — or Duster69, if you prefer — seem to be testing the waters with their first release in 13 years. Called 2021, the two-songer brings just nine minutes of music in a kind of see-how-it-goes spirit. During their initial run, the outfit with Daredevil Records honcho Jochen Böllath (also of Grand Massive) on guitar released three full-length and splits alongside the likes of Calamus, Rickshaw, The Awesome Machine and House of Broken Promises, and though there’s something unassuming about thinking of “Oppose” and “Remember” as a comeback, it seems more about the band internally figuring out if they still work together as a unit. The answer, of course, is yes, or presumably 2021 wouldn’t see release. The production is rough, but if this is Duster 69 heralding a return in “soft opening” fashion, then something grand may yet be to come.

Duster 69 on Facebook

Daredevil Records website


Tankograd, Klęska

tankograd kleska

With Tomasz “Herr Feldgrau” Walczak, now also drumming in Weedpecker on vocals and guitar, Warsaw’s Tankograd present a Soviet-aftermath through a meld of styles that pulls together heavy rock, sludge, death and black metal. Second album Klęska is as likely to find Walczak — joined by drummer Jakub “Herr Stoß” Kaźmierski, guitarist Grzegorz “Herr Berg” Góra and bassist Herr “I Can’t Find His Real Name” Schnitt — harmonizing as engaging guttural growls over blastbeats, nodding riffs, and so on. “Niech Liczą Trupy” seems to willfully take on Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride, but this is only after “Za Ofiarną Służbę” and “Nie Dać Się Zarżnąć” have blown genre convention out of the water. Tankograd continue in this fashion through the blues-into-blasts “Hańba” and the mostly-more-doomed “SLAM,” with “Nostalgia” closing out in a manner one can only call progressive for its clearsighted execution of vision. Bonus track “Polska” is anthemic and to translate the lyrics is a lesson in perspective waiting to happen. I’ve heard 70 albums for this Quarterly Review, and plenty of them have mixed styles. I haven’t heard anything else like this in that process.

Tankograd on Facebook

Piranha Music on Bandcamp


Mother Iron Horse, Under the Blood Moon

Mother Iron Horse - Under The Blood Moon artwork

Something something Salem, Massachusetts, something something witches. Fine. Cheers to Mother Iron Horse, who indeed hail from that storied Halloween tourist destination, on having more in common sound-wise with Doomriders than any tryhard-pagan retro-style novelty acts, and on not pretending to worship the devil despite the theme they’re working with throughout this sophomore LP and Ripple Music debut, Under the Blood Moon. A 37-minute, vinyl-ready-but-is-vinyl-ready-for-it affair that moves between sludge and uptempo heavy rock, there’s little pretense to be found across the eight tracks, even as side B moves through the title-track and into the chuggery of “Samhain Dawn” and the atmospheric-but-for-all-that-screaming-oh-wait-that’s-atmosphere-too “Samhain Night” before the rolling capper “Mass at Dungeon Rock” puts the nail in the proverbial coffin. Cult-themed riffy post-hardcore sludge, anyone? Yeah, probably. Can’t imagine there isn’t a market out there for “Old Man Satan.”

Mother Iron Horse on Facebook

Ripple Music website


Ouzo Bazooka, Dalya

Ouzo Bazooka Dalya

You know that episode of Star Trek where Captain Kirk & Co. end up carting around this bunch of troublemaking space hippies? And they play songs like “Hey brother let’s get together and have some fun?” Of course you do. One of them was Chekhov’s ex-girlfriend from Starfleet Academy. Anyway, if you’re ever out warping from planet to planet wherever and you encounter space hippies and the songs they play don’t sound like Tel Aviv’s Ouzo Bazooka, you should drop their asses at the nearest starbase. Across the six songs and 34 minutes of Dalya, the Freak Valley veterans plant a garden of cosmic weirdness that’s as much retro spacefunk as it is Middle Eastern psychedelic jam rock, and I don’t care what decade you want to trace it to, if “Kruv” isn’t the sound of the 2260s happening right fucking now, then the future is going to be no less a disappointment than the present. Krautrock would’ve been better off if this is what it had become, and yes, I mean that.

Ouzo Bazooka on Facebook

Stolen Body Records website


Pilot Voyager, Roadtrip to Fantazery

Pilot Voyager Roadtrip to Fantazery

Those who’ve engaged with The Obelisk’s Quarterly Review at some point in the last seven-plus years that I’ve been doing them might understand that when it comes to finishing out, I like to do myself a favor and close with something awesome. Thus it is that the last record here is Pilot Voyager‘s Roadtrip to Fantazery, with four extended heavy psychedelic jams recorded by the Hungarian outfit in July at the Fantazery festival in Ukraine. It’s a full-on spacey blowout, with the trio of guitarist Ákos Karancz, bassist Ádám Kalamár and drummer Anton Ostrometskiy pushing interstellar vibes along an uptempo course charted by the likes of Earthless or Slift on “Dog Bitten Blues” (10:20) before “Dark Flood” (14:55) slows down and gets really vibed out. “Polite Screams and Electrolytes Between Me, Myself and My Pickups” (13:37) evens things out a bit, contrary to what its title might lead you to believe, and offers a highlight bassline late, and “Rare Wolfs of Yasinya” (13:29) builds to something of an apex before letting go, but the truth is if you’re not on board from the outset with Pilot Voyager‘s roadtrip — emphasis on ‘trip’ — it’s only going to be your loss. One way or the other, they’re gone.

Pilot Voyager on Facebook

Psychedelic Source Records on Bandcamp


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