Shitty Person Premiere “Take Your Clothes Off” Video; Album out Now on Svart Records

Posted in Bootleg Theater on October 30th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

shitty person

I won’t tell you that you need to do this or that, but if you have a second, you should hit up Shitty Person‘s Bandcamp page and take a look at the lyrics of their debut album, Judgement. Released by Svart Records this past June, the eight-track post/heavygaze/whatever outing by the Seattle-based outfit does so much more to capture the truth of misanthropy in lines like “Nobody believes shit talk’s all true/Even god’s not an asshole like you/If you believe half this shit’s true/Fuck you” than any number of doom bands out there who write songs about killing ladies or some other faux-edgy crap like that. Self-loathing don’t come cheap, and it bleeds through the slow tempos, sax solos, airy tones and dual-vocal melodies of Judgement in songs like opener “Butthole,” in which the above lines appear, and the subsequent “Take Your Clothes Off,” in which the sole lyric amidst the rolling drones and lush tonal unfurling is, well, “Take your clothes off.” If that’s there at all — and I’m not sure it is. To call it anything less than punk rock would be cheapening it, I think.

Later in the record, the they take on Electric Wizard‘s “Behemoth,” but before that, there’s the sad ramble of “Champagne and Cakes,” which brings the vocals of guitarist Benjamin Thomas-Kennedy (see also: Lesbian and Fungal Abyss) forward in a Michael Gira-informed dark post-Americana shitty person judgementthat gives way to biting noise by its finish. It’s hard to think of “Nobody Likes You” and “Your God is Ending You” as anything other than the crux of Judgement, both for the fact that they comprise more than a third of the album’s runtime and the perspective from which they work, both of them saying a lot with not a ton of words in an efficiency that somehow doesn’t at all undercut the fuckall so rampant in the proceedings. “Nobody Likes You” makes an attempt at kind self-talk with “Relax and be nice to yourself/And don’t be that way” before the inevitable turn: “Nobody likes you/Nobody likes you/Like you don’t like you/Nobody likes you,” a voice that seems to be directed inward ahead of “Your God is Ending You,” which is more accusatory.

Either way, Shitty Person is a fucking slog and that’s exactly what it’s intended to be. The disaffection of “Dumbshit” I’m not even going to recount here, because it wasn’t really my intention to just quote lyrics for this entire post, but needless to say, it’s palpable. “Behemoth” is brought suitably into Judgement‘s sonic context, and closer “Dark Bear” is an effects-laden 47-second spoken story of loss that ends the downerism plunge with another low. It’s not so much about catharsis as it is an exploration of that moment where you’re in it and there’s that feeling of utter hopelessness. Where depression informs everything you see and how you see yourself seeing everything; that bleak narcissism that produces an endless cycle of self-loathing that you can’t see any way out of. The last line, “And when he passed, everything turned to blue,” sums up a lot of it, but even that is just a slice of the actual-misery portrayed throughout. Where it’s always been that way and there won’t ever be a time where it isn’t. People call death metal brutal. Ha.

You can watch the “Take Your Clothes Off” video below. It’s got bathrobes. The album is name-your-price on the aforementioned Bandcamp if you’re up for it, and more info follows the clip on the player here.

Please enjoy:

Shitty Person, “Take Your Clothes Off” official video premiere

The video for Take Your Clothes Off is the secord in a series of visual versions of songs from Shitty Person’s debut album Judgement (Svart Records). Directed by Seattle artist/photographer/musician Lauren Rodriguez, it mirrors the song’s ecstatic apathy and laces the senses with same drug-fueled lust that the song engenders. Shot on film, the footage was captured at Shitty Person’s album release show at Seattle’s Clock Out Lounge where the band performed in their bathrobes as they are wont to do. This work follows the band’s first visual effort Butthole (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=161tyF1Of0k) directed by I Want You (http://iwantyoustudio.com/).

Shitty Person is the latest solo-ish project from Benjamin Thomas-Kennedy (Lesbian, Fungal Abyss). Along with other members of Lesbian, Rose Windows, and Master Musicians of Bukkake, Shitty Person makes music about self-hatred and counterproductive self-reflection. It sounds like drugs, has lots of swears, and will probably make you feel terrible.

Although a relatively new band, Shitty Person’s roots run deep. “I’ve been playing drums for metal bands for almost two decades,” explains Thomas-Kennedy, “but before that, I used to front a couple of less heavy bands as the primary songwriter and guitar player. During the time I was touring with Lesbian-the-band, a lot of songs started kicking around my head that I didn’t know what to do with. As that project began to wind down, I had more time to start putting some of these ideas together. I bought a guitar and finalized a pile of songs. I decided to ask some of my favorite musicians if they would help me put a group together, and to my surprise, everyone I approached said they’d be into it. We played a live show to a sold-out crowd opening for Moon Duo in Seattle. It was the first time I had played guitar and sang in front of an audience in over 15 years. It went pretty well, so we made this album. I am extremely proud of it and honored that so much great talent jumped on board to pull it off.”

Benjamin Thomas-Kennedy – guitar and vocals
Daniel LaRochelle – rhythm guitar
Arran McInnis – lead guitar
Nicole Thomas-Kennedy – bass guitar
Dave Abramson – drums and percussion
Rabia Shaheen Qazi – vocals
Sam Yoder – percussion
Skerik – saxophone

Produced by Randall Dunn
Mastered by Jason Ward

Video directed by Lauren Rodriguez

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Svart Records website

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Tad Doyle Releases Ambient Collection Experiments of the Spectral Order Vol. 1

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 29th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

thomas andrew doyle
I’m not, but if I was scoring one of those serial horror dramas or a film or even a short or something like that and I needed a creepy aural vibe to accompany, at least I know who I’d call. Working under his full name, Thomas Andrew Doyle, the creative force better known as Tad — he of TadHog MollyBrothers of the Sonic Cloth and copious production work at his Witch Ape Studio — hereby issues Experiments of the Spectral Order Vol. 1, a collection of five ambient pieces running 27 minutes that, if we’re talking about a spectrum, run from terrifying to, well, more terrifying. From the shocking burst in opener “Adorned in Maggots” to the eerie string sounds and swells of centerpiece “Mortality is the Rule, Life is the Exception” and into the depths of nine-minute finale “Outside of Reality,” Doyle makes Stranger Things sound like Strangers with Candy and brings to bear atmospheres of unremitting tension and darkness. Sometimes minimal, sometimes assaulting, it seems perpetually to be a downward trip into something bleak and consuming.

So yeah, good times.

And of course, as any quality work of horror should, it sets itself up for a sequel. Here’s Doyle‘s announcement of the release that came through last week:

thomas andrew doyle experiments of the spectral order vol 1

As of today, I have a new recording that I am releasing to the world.

Experiments of the Spectral Order Vol. 1 is the first in a series of music that is fit for the days we live in. Volume !, is composed of five songs from deep within the dark realms of the psyche that is taylored to those with a tasteb for the macabre. Best of all, it is completely free. You may download the full length on the Incineration Ceremony Recordings bandcamp here at this location.

Some people make joyous and happy music. I do not. However, this is the music that I love and it brings a smile to my face. May it be so with you.

Tracklisting:
1. Adorned In Maggots 04:39
2. Breeding “IS” Pollution 05:09
3. Mortality Is The Rule; Life Is The Exception 04:17
4. Bridge To Purgatory 03:56
5. Outside Of Reality 09:06

https://thomasandrewdoyle.bandcamp.com/
https://www.taddoyle.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Incinerationceremony/
https://incineration-ceremony.bandcamp.com/artists

Thomas Andrew Doyle, Experiments of the Spectral Order Vol. 1 (2018)

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Year of the Cobra Tour Starts Tonight; Playing Prophecy Fest USA in Brooklyn

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 10th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

year of the cobra

Seattle’s Year of the Cobra have a slot booked at the first-ever Prophecy Fest USA in Brooklyn on Nov. 3, and because they’re Year of the Cobra, they’re turning it into a tour of the East Coast and Midwest. The band signed to Prophecy Productions earlier this year after issuing 2017’s Burn Your Dead EP (review here) through Magnetic Eye Records, and they’re set to have their sophomore full-length out in 2019, for which the EP teased multi-directional growth in style and songwriting. The duo have put in massive amounts of road work over the last couple years at home and abroad, and it seems like they’re in a place where they’re ready to step up to the task ahead of them in their next record and see where it takes them. My guess as regards to that? More touring.

They’ll be playing new songs on the tour, and that’s nifty to be sure, but I’m really looking forward to hearing what they might bring to a new record with Jack Endino producing. I’m keeping my fingers crossed the album gets here on the earlier end of next year.

From the PR wire:

year of the cobra tour

SEATTLE DOOM DUO, YEAR OF THE COBRA, ANNOUNCE NORTH AMERICAN TOUR DATES

*BAND TO PERFORM AT INAUGURAL “PROPHECY FEST USA” IN BROOKLYN ON NOV 3RD*

Seattle’s heavyweight stoner doom duo, Year of the Cobra, has announced they’ll be hitting the road for a North American tour this fall. The band will kick of the excursion with a hometown show in Seattle on October 10th and will wrap up the run in Lawrence, KS on November 6th. The tour will include a performance at the inaugural Prophecy Fest USA, alongside labelmates 1476, Crowhurst, Eye of Nix and Alcest, at Knitting Factory in Brooklyn, NY on November 3rd. Tickets for the fest are available now at http://bit.ly/2OCPQ9P.

Year of the Cobra’s upcoming tour will give fans a taste of music to come from the band’s forthcoming 2nd full-length record that’s due out next year.

“We’ve been hermits since our last U.S. tour this past August and have hunkered down and written a ton of new music… going to road test quite a few new songs on this run. Jack Endino will be producing and engineering the next record, which will come out in 2019 on Prophecy Productions. Tours and other exciting news are in the works. Stayed tuned!” – Year of the Cobra

Formed in 2015, Year of the Cobra became a rapidly ascending, radiant star in the horizon of the doom/stoner-scene for a reason: This powerhouse duo, consisting of Amy Tung Barrysmith (vocals/ bass) and Jon Barrysmith (drums), use their limitation in instrumentation to their advantage. Leaving space for every instrument to breathe and to shine, they create a vast, larger than life sound aesthetic. Their songs drift relentlessly from classic epic doom laments into oppressive heavy riff architecture; from catchy, almost upbeat rock moments into transfiguring psychedelia.

Year of the Cobra Tour Dates:
10.10.18 – Seattle, WA. – El Corazon w/ Monster Magnet
10.20.18 – Boise, ID. – The Shredder
10.22.18 – Denver, CO. – Streets of London
10.23.18 – Omaha, NB. – Lookout Lounge
10.24.18 – Oshkosh, WI. – Reptile Palace
10.25.18 – Chicago, IL. – Cobra Lounge
10.26.18 – Toronto, ON. – Coalition: T.O.
10.27.18 – Jewett City, CT. – Altones
10.28.18 – Ottawa, ON. – Cafe Decuf
10.29.18 – Buffalo, NY. – Mohawk Place
10.30.18 – Providence, RI. – Alchemy
11.1.18 – Philadelphia, PA. – Barbary
11.2.18 – Washington D.C. – Altas Brew Works
11.3.18 – Brooklyn, NY. Knitting Factory – Prophecy Fest
11.4.18 – Pittsburgh, PA. – Gooski’s
11.5.18 – Indianapolis, IN. – Black Circle Brewing
11.6.18 – Lawrence, KS. – Replay Lounge

https://www.facebook.com/yearofthecobraband/
https://twitter.com/yearofthecobra
https://yearofthecobra.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/prophecyproductions/
https://prophecy-de.bandcamp.com/
https://en.prophecy.de/

Year of the Cobra, Burn Your Dead (2017)

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Constant Lovers Premiere “Meow Meow Meow” from New Album Pangs

Posted in audiObelisk on October 10th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

constant lovers

Based in Seattle and Tacoma, Washington, good-time weirdo noisemakers Constant Lovers will release their third album, Pangs, on Oct. 26. It’s an 11-track outing, and from the sax-laced opening of “The Wound up Get Down” to the beach sounds of closer “Pang Time,” there are three ways you can listen to it. You can sit and pick apart every move the four-piece make, analyze and overthink every stop and shove in “It’s Electric” or the sharp rhythmic turns of “Lullaby,” and wax poetic as regards the intricacy of the interaction between the guitars of Joel Cuplin (also vocals) and Eric Fisher (also percussion) on the penultimate “Amouse Bouche.” You can do that. It’s fine. Or you can simply not. You can find the overarching groove — it’s there, to be sure — that locks in with funky aplomb on “The Wound up Get Down” propelled by the bass of Gavin Till-Esterbrook and drummer Ben Verellen, as well as that sax, and holds firm as “Meow Meow Meow” sets the go-where-the-hell-they-want-tone with a cast of PNW noise that’ll give silly comfort to ears who never quite recovered from the loss of Akimbo however many years ago and leads into the churn of “Ceiling Sweats” as Pangs unfolds along solid geometrical lines. You can go deep, or you can not. The third way? It’s a little bit of both.

I’m not going to advocate one or the other, frankly. With the play to anticipation in the we-dig-Fugazi-you-dig-Fugazi “Rally Cry for the Pang in Your” and the Rob Crow-style quirk of “Know the Knot” preceding, the mania in the lyrics of “You are Dinner” and its constant lovers pangsimmediate companion-piece “Bone Shard Fashion,” Constant Lovers make arguments on all sides. Any way you might want to go has its appeal, and far more important is that the depth of Pangs holds up to whatever level of scrutiny you might want to bring to your experience of it. In the intensity of “Lullabye,” the band resolve toward the frenetic, and one could point to any number of stretches throughout and hear hardcore punk roots growing up and — let’s face it — getting interesting along the way. But even as they let themselves draw down the tempo just a bit more on “Pang Time,” which is also the longest track at 5:29 and finishes with an ending so eased-out you wouldn’t be wrong to think of it as “gentle,” they don’t let the academic overcome either the adventurous spirit of the songwriting or the energy in their delivery of the material. A production that’s raw-er but still well broad enough to let their tones breathe — one has to wonder if they use Verellen amps — brings through the deceptive balance, sneaky balance, sometimes purposefully unbalanced balance, of elements instrumental and aesthetic, and, well, sometimes you want to have some fun. That’s legit. It’s okay to do that.

Clearly they are, so why not follow suit?

Or, more likely, t-shirt.

Not at all without a melodic presence despite the forward nature of its rhythms, Pangs arrives some four-years after the band’s second offering, Experience Feelings, which itself came just one year later as the follow-up to their 2013 debut, True Romance. Whyever the fourfold increase in span between their releases, Constant Lovers obviously relish the opportunity that Pangs gives them to explore the outer reaches of their approach, and regardless of how the listener chooses to take that on, doing so only proves to be an engaging, exciting and let’s-go-again-worthy experience.

Get your digs with the premiere of “Meow Meow Meow” below, followed by some preliminaries on the release courtesy of the PR wire.

Enjoy:

Constant Lovers, “Meow Meow Meow” official track premiere

Seattle, WA quartet Constant Lovers announce their forthcoming sophomore album, Pangs.

Constant Lovers’ Pangs was created during a sustained period of unrest punctuated by moments of intense inspiration. The result is an album where delight collides with angularity, chaos morphs into play, and humor and strangeness are, as always, just beneath the tough exterior. At once a celebration of the heavier sounds featured in their last album, Experience Feelings, Pangs also signals a turn towards a more exploratory nature. With the addition of saxophone and the use of improvisation in both recording and recent live shows, Constant Lovers are pushing at their boundaries.

Pangs will be available on LP and download on October 26th, 2018.

Artist: Constant Lovers
Album: Pangs
Record Label: Self-released
Release Date: October 26th, 2018

01. The Wound Up Get Down
02. Meow Meow Meow
03. Ceiling Sweats
04. It’s Electric
05. You Are Dinner
06. Bone Shard Fashion
07. Know The Knot
08. Rally Cry For The Pang In Your
09. Lullabye
10. Amuse Bouche
11. Pang Time

Constant Lovers is:
Joel Cuplin: Guitar/ Vox
Eric Fisher: Guitar / Percussion
Ben Verellen: Drums
Gavin Tull-Esterbrook: Bass / Vox

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Randall Dunn to Release Beloved Nov. 9; “Something About that Night” Video Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 19th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

randall dunn

Holy mackerel. If you’ve got six minutes or thereabouts, go ahead and plug yourself into Randall Dunn‘s video for ‘Something About that Night’ at the bottom of this post. If you need to go fullscreen because it’s a super thin aspect ratio — cinematic is the whole idea, top to bottom — it’s worth it. The music is affecting, the drama palpable in the soundscape, and the vocals of Frank Fisher give the track a soulful sensibility that works amazingly well with the synthesized worldmaking behind. It’s gorgeous and troubling in the best way.

Dunn, noted for his collaborations with SunnO))) and others, for his participation as a founding member of Master Musicians of Bukkake, and for his production work for Earth, the aforementioned SunnO))), Akron/Family and many more, will release his first solo album, Beloved, on Nov. 9 through Figureight Records. Considering a revolving cast of personnel, I wouldn’t expect “Something About that Night” to speak for the whole album in mood or arrangement, but it certainly stands on its own and the video, directed by Mu Tunç, more than earns its worry beads.

From the PR wire:

randall dunn beloved

RANDALL DUNN ANNOUNCES HIS FIRST SOLO ALBUM, BELOVED (FIGUREIGHT, 9TH NOVEMBER)

FEAT CONTRIBUTIONS FROM PAST COLLABORATORS TIMM MASON, FRANK FISHER (ALGIERS) AND ZOLA JESUS

Randall Dunn, the musician, producer and engineer renowned for his work with Sunn0))), Earth, Tim Hecker, Six Organs of Admittance, Anna Von Hausswolff and so much more, finds his own voice on his first solo album, Beloved, which is set for release on vinyl and digital formats via figureight on November 9th (pre-orders now live).

Following a turbulent period of change and loss, the esteemed producer channeled his energies into a seven song meditation on “anxiety, paranoia, different shades of love, different realisations of mortality, how it can make you feel the stages of your life more deeply.”

Such sentiments are reflected across this beautiful video for the album track “Something About That Night” directed by Mu Tunc, a filmmaker from Istanbul, which we’re delighted to share alongside the album announcement. About the video Randall remarks “I found a common ground in our two cultures current socio-political climates and in the themes of the song – loneliness, loss, and the feeling of human connection’s absence. Mu expressed these sentiments through a compassionate character study of two people who are making their way through a lonely night with all of the pressures of our current age.”

On Beloved Dunn shifts his knack for emphasising the human component of music toward mining emotional resonance, and wrangling a new earthly language from the subtle details and textures generated from early digital and analog synthesisers. “I wanted to make something more like prose or a Gerhard Richter painting with sound,” Dunn says of the album. “Being someone that composes with sound, I wanted to find a voice in it that felt personal, that felt human, especially with electronics, something that didn’t feel too mechanical.” Though electronics can often feel rigid and cold, Dunn sought to find the poetry in their oscillations and a heartbeat in a rhythm outside the grid. “It’s the first time a language hit me and it felt like it was mine,” Dunn says in summation.

Across Dunn’s career as an engineer and producer he has also proven to be a valuable studio asset as a collaborator. He’s lent his arrangement ideas to SunnO))) on Monoliths and Dimensions and Earth on The Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull and gone beyond producing to provide instrumentation for Six Organs of Admittance, Anna von Hausswolf, Tim Hecker, and longtime colleague Stephen O’Malley. All of which led to a pivotal invitation to engineer and produce Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson’s original score for the stylised horror film Mandy. During the project, Jóhannsson encouraged Dunn to explore his synth-driven sound designs. Jóhannsson’s unexpected passing in early 2018 also added to what Dunn refers to as “powerful moment of change.” The gentle encouragement of Eyvind Kang and Jóhann Jóhannsson, and the affirming creative contributions across the album by past collaborators like Timm Mason, Frank Fisher (Algiers), and Zola Jesus were all crucial to the birth of Beloved.

Tracklisting:
1. Amphidromic Point
2. Lava Rock and Amber
3. Something About that Night
4. Theoria : Aleph
5. Mexico City
6. Virgo
7. A True Home

Pre-Order Link: https://lnk.to/RandallDunnBeloved

https://www.facebook.com/RandallDunnMusic/
https://randalldunn.bandcamp.com/
https://www.figureightrecords.com/

Randall Dunn, “Something About that Night” official video

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Fungal Abyss Premiere “Croak Toke Parallax” from Benevolent Malevolence

Posted in audiObelisk on September 19th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

fungal abyss

Fungal Abyss will release their new album, Benevolent Malevolence, next Monday, Sept. 24, through Adansonia Records. It is at least the third long-player for the Seattle-based cosmic doom experimentalist collective, arriving behind 2016’s Karma Suture (review here) and 2011’s Bardo Abgrund Temple (reissue review here), though the improvisational, mostly-instrumental outfit may well have snuck one or two others in there while no one was looking. With four-fifths of doomly doom purveyors Lesbian in their ranks, Fungal Abyss reach outward into an interstellar creative wash, finding the background noise of the galaxy and channeling it through max-volume wah in order to convey their exploratory sense. Comprised of two songs, each consuming an entire vinyl side, in “Croak Toke Parallax” (20:59) and “Chaos Condor” (22:08) — kudos to whoever in the band comes up with titles — it’s a noisier brand of heavy psych than one jams of the form often bring, and has a darker undertone of mood than one often expects from even the most churning of tripped-out improv.

So what’s happening and what’s happened? So what’s the now all about? Hell if I know, but Fungal Abyss proffer alternate-dimension — but not alt-dimension, because fuck that shit — lysergics with an admirable sense of freedom.  The ol’ “Croak Toke Parallax” starts out with soft chiming bells and echoing voices in tribalist ritualization, unfolding an ambience à la fellow PNW go-anywheres Master Musicians of Bukkake, and soon consumes itself in a swell of guitar noise and percussivefungal abyss benevolent malevolence awakening. Five minutes deep and the drone is up to your eyeballs and what good was reality anyway? Ten and there’s a march and searing lead lines and drums and still-offbeat percussion whatnots and you’re post-some sample that shows up like someone left the tv on, but you’re also post-just about everything else, so let it go. They’re headed somewhere and that’s into a full-on build-into-wash that plays out in increasing volume and surge to extreme levels of both over the next eight minutes, and there’s a while there where it’s just fucking madness, but they kind of even it out before drawing down into a noisy fade with a couple quiet measures of guitar ending off, as if to be like, “Oh yeah, sorry we just melted your eyeballs, here you go. We made you some new ones that see better colors.”

We’re back in the drone at the start of “Chaos Condor,” and you can almost hear the winged beast itself soaring overhead of the loops and swirls and tambourine and sundry banged-on-stuff. Keys? Maybe. Definitely synth. But at 3:30 there’s a deceptive amount going on and none of it seems to be interested in bourgeois interpretation. Like a data rod shot out of an interstellar probe, “Chaos Condor” carries its message in casual antigravity, with mounting feedback about six and seven minutes on that set the tone for the soon-unfolded fuckall (allfuck?). Maddening atmospherics ensue. It’s a more internal vibe that “Croak Toke Parallax,” but no less spacious, and it too finds its way — albeit later — into a reaching jam. It’s the drums that start the push, somewhere in the 11th minute, and we all know immediately where we’re headed but man there’s just not stopping what’s coming. The noise is even more biting the second time around, with the scorch going all the way to carbon before it blows itself apart and drones to a long finish, the chaos having long since been condored. At the end of the 43-minute run, what’s left? Out-of-body psychedelia and the prevailing feeling of stomach discomfort? Physical affect? Fucking right on.

They’re building altars here. Two of them. And the challenge is on you whether or not you can get down. They’re like handing you your first joint and telling you all the cool kids are doing it. Or eating mushrooms and playing Dungeons and Dragons. You get the idea.

Go.

Listen:

For these sessions, the collective spent two long days set up at the Killroom in Seattle keeping the tape rolling nearly the whole time as members came and went as the mood stuck or the drugs kicked in. These two half-hour tracks Croak Toke Parallax and Chaos Condor, capture some of the best moments of the various ensembles formed during this marathon improvisation.

Players from this session include: Benjamin Thomas-Kennedy, Arran McInnis, Dorando Hodous, Daniel LaRochelle, Nathan Smurthwaite, Andrew McInnis, B.R.A.D. Mowen, Sam Yoder, and Jim Davis.

The band will be celebrating the release of the album on October 12th at the Parliament Tavern in West Seattle with Nosretep and guests.

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Friday Full-Length: Alice in Chains, Rainier Fog

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 7th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Alice in Chains, Rainier Fog (2018)

Alice in Chains have now released as many full-length albums without Layne Staley as they had with him. Of course, their original run also produced the landmark EPs Sap (discussed here) in 1992 and Jar of Flies in 1994, as well as their captured performance at MTV Unplugged in 1996 and other sundry singles and soundtrack appearances — anyone remember Last Action Hero? — so that’s not necessarily a comparison of total output so much as the passage of time. Indeed, if one counts the Seattle grunge legends’ beginning point as 1987 and the end of their original run as the release of the Music Bank box set in 1999 — they never had a hard breakup so much as a general recession in 1996 as Staley battled with the heroin addiction that claimed his life in 2002 — and the beginning of their new run with vocalist/rhythm guitarist William DuVall joining lead guitarist/vocalist/principal songwriter Jerry Cantrell, bassist Mike Inez and drummer Sean Kinney as 2005 when they started playing shows again, their second era is already longer than their first in terms of duration. Listening to their third album with DuVall in the lineup, Aug. 2018’s Rainier Fog, there’s no reason to think they’re stopping here, either.

With 10 tracks and a 53-minute front to back runtime, Rainier Fog follows 2013’s The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here and 2009’s Black Gives Way to Blue and finds Alice in Chains in more direct conversation with their legacy than they’ve been since they were forging it with landmark albums like 1990’s Facelift, 1992’s Dirt and their 1995 self-titled, each of which offered a darker and heavier take on the Seattle grunge scene that birthed them and so many others in the same era. From the title’s reference to Mt. Rainier to Cantrell‘s solo in opener “The One You Know” to the creeping modus of “Deaf Ears Blind Eyes” that speaks to some of the same atmosphere as the self-titled — which I’ll gladly argue as one of the grimmest commercial rock records ever made — Rainier Fog basks in signature Alice in Chains elements like the gorgeous vocal harmonies of “Maybe” and “Never Fade,” the crunching guitar-led stomp of the aforementioned leadoff cut or the later “So Far Under,” and the inventive rhythm work of Kinney and Inez that backs the acoustic/electric guitar arrangement of side A closer “Drone.” In tone and songwriting, Rainier Fog isn’t so much Alice in Chains trying to ape their work in the early and mid 1990s as it is their reclaiming it as their own and arguing for it not as chiseled in marble on a pedestal for all time, but something meant to be pushed forward and reshaped according to the will of their songwriting.

alice in chains rainier fogAnd their argument is compelling. Returning to the Seattle studio where they recorded the self-titled (as well as other locales in Los Angeles and Nashville), the band once again employed producer Nick Raskulinecz to work the board, and the differences in sound between Rainier Fog and its two AIC Mk II predecessors only speaks further to the consciousness with which they’re engaging their history in a way that their last two records didn’t seem to dare. It’s still a modern, commercial production. Drums are triggered — a tragedy considering the loss of the human character in Kinney‘s playing — and stops are muted and a sense of digital smoothness extends even to the vocal arrangements between DuVall and Cantrell. And while that inherently undercuts any kind of organic feel the band might be looking for, it’s a necessary evil for making an album with the scale of release — they’re on BMG — they have, and their level of craft and melody shines through just the same.

The title-track and “Red Giant” join the opener to make an initial salvo of marked weight in tone and atmosphere, while the semi-acoustic “Fly” finds Cantrell leading a softer-landing verse into an appropriately soaring hook. DuVall, who may forever be cursed with consideration as the “new guy” in the band, handles his role like the veteran he actually is, bringing personality of his own to “Deaf Ears Blind Eyes,” “So Far Under” and the penultimate “Never Fade” while seeming no less in ownership of Alice in Chains‘ past than any of the other three members of the band. Listening to “So Far Under” one is reminded of how Norwegian black metallers Darkthrone would cite themselves as an influence in their own liner notes. If Alice in Chains could influence Alice in Chains, that seems to be happening most vividly on “So Far Under,” though there are aspects new and old throughout that cohabitate fluidly in the material. They’re using their legacy as a tool, not a blueprint.

It’s a landmark foundation to work from, to be sure, but Alice in Chains are long past having something to prove, and though some of its emotional grit in the lyrics feels performative, they seem to find some resolution in the questioning of closer “All I Am,” and finish the album with a patient, flowing execution of their modern sound with a maturity of approach their earlier work was simply too troubled to bring to bear even in their acoustic material. Whatever else it might be, Rainier Fog is heavy in the way Alice in Chains always have been — never outwardly aggressive enough to be metal, but sharper in craft and meaner in tone than any of the other major grunge acts — and I found even in listening to it for the first time that I was humming along to choruses of songs I’d never heard before. That’s rare, to put it mildly. I’ll grant that I’ve been an Alice in Chains fan for more than a quarter-century, but even so, Rainier Fog establishes a relevance of its own that feels like more than just by-the-numbers classic rock from a band going through the motions. One suspects that if that were the case, it simply wouldn’t exist. That’s not to say it was created simply for the joy of the process of its making, which would be naive, but there’s still heart and still passion behind what Alice in Chains do — a credit to DuVall at least as much as the other three, as songs like “Never Fade” and “The One You Know” demonstrate — and Rainier Fog presents that with as clear a vision as one could ask.

As always, I hope you enjoy, and thanks for reading.

Not that I need to justify writing about records I like, but I don’t enjoy writing about commercial releases generally. Which is why I don’t. It’s not like Alice in Chains need the press from my dickweed blog, and the bottom line is that for a band of their stature, those who are going to be open to it already are and those who aren’t won’t be. But I did something I don’t usually do and actually read a couple reviews from other outlets for Rainier Fog and didn’t really see what I thought there was to say, so decided to say it. No regrets. If you’re looking for something in a more obscure, riffy vein, I might refer you back to Shovelhead, who closed out last week.

Anyway, that’s where that came from. Not the usual fare, but I think there’s enough of a connection that it works, and as I have to periodically remind myself, I can write about whatever the hell I want. That was the whole point of this site to start with.

Okay.

It was a busy week, but I managed to stay on top of things pretty well. I have some running around to do this weekend — Providence today, Boston tomorrow — but it felt good to get as much stuff done as I did and still have the time to see something like that Greenleaf news come in yesterday and have the flexibility to post it immediately. That wouldn’t happen every day.

Next week is a little different. There’s one premiere set for Monday, but beyond that, it’s kind of open at the moment and accordingly, I’m doing kind of a curated series of reviews. Just stuff I feel like should be covered and that I’ll be writing about because I want to write about it. There will inevitably be some changes before and when we get there, but here’s how it looks for now:

Mon.: Øresund Space Collective live album stream/review; ST 37 video premiere.
Tue.: Iron Void review.
Wed.: Brant Bjork review.
Thu.: The Skull review.
Fri.: Rotor review.

I have to look at the release date for that Rotor album and when it actually comes out to see if that review makes any sense at this point, but otherwise, yeah, that’s how it looks today.

So, I spoke a little bit last week about The Little Dog Dio having bone cancer. She was fairly miserable and clearly in pain following that initial vet appointment, and The Patient Mrs. and I kind of thought that was it, she’d either pass on her own or we would end up having her put down, which I’ll just say has been a nightmare scenario of mine for years now but when you come to it you come to it. We went back to the vet on Tuesday though to reassess and she got a steroid shot, a stronger painkiller and some takehome prednisone pills that have made a huge difference.

She wasn’t eating or drinking or really picking her head up when she stood. Now she’s able to get up on the couch and lay next to me while I type and she’s being hand-fed chicken breast and basically any cheese, as much as she’ll eat in a sitting, and drinking water. She’s markedly more comfortable, and that’s the whole point. I know we’re buying time — and if I ever need a reminder, I can look at her and see the huge fucking tumor in her shoulder — but if we can buy her good time where she’s not hurting and is still able to have some good life and eat good food and be loved on for a little while longer, she deserves nothing less.

I’m thinking about getting her some shrimp toast. It’s the only thing she’s ever eaten when she’s been left alone in the car with food. Took it right out of the bag of Chinese takeout and it was simply gone. We only knew she ate it because some of the cardboard from the container it came in was left on the back seat. This was years ago, but it seems to me that as long as she’s taking in food, speaking of things she deserves, it’s a treat that feels fitting. My only concern is what it would do to her stomach. She needs to put weight on, not take it off, and she’d almost certainly puke up that shrimp toast. We’ll see.

She’s the best dog I’ve ever had and the best dog I will ever have. Every minute I get with her is a gift.

So if you’re interested, that’s where we’re at. It might be a couple weeks, it might be a month, I don’t know. The scale of immediacy has changed a little, but she’s not actually going to heal. There’s no point at which she won’t have cancer. It’s just a question of how long she lasts with it. We’ve been very sad. A lot of crying. There will be more.

I hate to leave you on that note, but I’m going to. Just a matter of timing. We’re past 5:30AM now — woke up at 2 — and The Pecan will be up soon and ready to party as he is in mornings of late, and The Patient Mrs. will follow shortly thereafter. I have some work to do this weekend — a Roadburn writeup and another bio besides — so I’ll be around at least a bit if you need me for anything.

Till then, have a great and safe weekend. Have fun, be safe, enjoy summer’s remnants and don’t forget a little rock and roll. See you back here Monday for more of that.

Thanks again for reading. Forum and Radio:

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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Witch Ripper Set Sept. 28 Release for Homecoming; “The Witch” Lyric Video Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 23rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

witch ripper

That’s gotta be kind of awkward, right? You’re in Witch Ripper and you meet ‘The Witch?’ You know, I was in McCarren Airport the other day in Las Vegas about to fly home and I heard a young woman on her cellphone listening to tips on how to perform a binding spell. She had it on speaker and everything. I wonder what she’d think if she ran into Witch Ripper down at the bar. “Oh you’re in a band, that’s so cool! What are you guys called?” Instant bum-out.

Witch Ripper, though, I don’t think they’re talking about the hippie-naturalist kind of witches. At least not if the lyrics of “The Witch” are anything to go by. You can see those in the lyric video for the track at the bottom of this post, and they come from the band’s forthcoming DHU Records debut album, Homestead, which is released Sept. 28 with cover art by Adam Burke, as per the PR wire info below.

Also note the tour dates, as I doubt they’ll be the last Witch Ripper undertake in supporting the record. These guys seem ready to go, and the comparison points noted below — Mastodon, High on Fire and Baroness — I agree with wholeheartedly.

Dig:

witch ripper homestead

WITCH RIPPER ANNOUNCE DEBUT LP, NEW VIDEO, PLUS TOUR DATES

WITCH RIPPER release video for the new song “The Witch” from the upcoming debut LP HOMESTEAD, out September 28th via DHU Records

Seattle based progressive sludge metal outfit WITCH RIPPER have announced the impending release of their debut full length LP Homestead via DHU Records this fall, and have released a lyric video for the track “The Witch.” With artwork from renowned painter Adam Burke, the Matt Bayles (Mastodon, The Sword, Botch) produced album sees WITCH RIPPER smashing mind bending progressive riffs with psyched out stoner metal melodies to create a wall of sound uniquely their own.

Pre-orders for Homestead will begin August 24th via DHU Records, with a digital release September 13th and official vinyl release on September 28th.

WITCH RIPPER will be touring throughout September in support of Homestead. Dates and cities listed below.

WITCH RIPPER “HOMESTEAD” TOUR DATES
9/06 SEATTLE, WA // FUNHOUSE
9/13 SPOKANE, WA // TBA
9/14 KALISPELL, MT // OLD SCHOOL RECORDS
9/15 BOISE, ID // SHREDDER
9/17 SALT LAKE CITY, UT // URBAN LOUNGE
9/18 ALBUQUERQUE, NM // MOONLIGHT LOUNGE
9/19 EL PASO, TX // RCBG
9/20 TUCSCON, AZ // CANS
9/21 PHOENIX, AZ // YUCCA TAP ROOM
9/22 SAN DIEGO, CA // TOWER BAR
9/23 LOS ANGELES, CA // FIVE STAR BAR
9/24 SAN FRANCISCO, CA // ELBO ROOM
9/25 SACRAMENTO, CA // BLUE LAMP
9/26 EUREKA, CA // SIREN’S SONG TAVERN
9/27 EUGENE, OR // HI FI LOUNGE
9/28 PORTLAND, OR // BLACK WATER

WITCH RIPPER formed in Seattle, WA behind guitarist/vocalist Curtis Parker (formerly of Iron Thrones). The debut self-titled demo EP was well received by various blogs as well as local press, drawing comparisons to Mastodon, High On Fire, and Baroness. With a solidified lineup consisting of guitarist Coltan Anderson, drummer Joe Eck, and bassist Brian Kim, the band has done several west coast tours and shared the stage with bands such as YOB, Elder, Samothrace, and CHRCH.

https://witchripper.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Witchripper/
https://www.instagram.com/witch_ripper/
https://www.facebook.com/DHURecords/
https://www.instagram.com/dhu_records/
https://twitter.com/dhu_records
https://darkhedonisticunionrecords.bandcamp.com/
darkhedonisticunionrecords.bigcartel.com/

Witch Ripper, “The Witch” lyric video

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