Friday Full-Length: My Sleeping Karma, My Sleeping Karma

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 13th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

 

If you asked the band, I bet Germany’s My Sleeping Karma would probably think of their 2006 self-titled debut as primitive in some way, at least compared to what’s come after, the way the arrangements stay relatively straightforward and the spiritual themes that would take hold across subsequent releases only beginning to be explored. Maybe they’d be right in that context, but the six-tracker is also the foundation for all that later growth and exploration. More over, it is an album of detail. Listen to the way the drums complement the emphasis on guitar line in “InTENsion” or the counterpoint to the guitar lines that the bass brings in “Glow 11.” The wisp of effects backing the central guitar line in the quiet stretches of second cut “23 Enigma.” The synth line pushing alongside the space rock drive of “Drannel Xu Ilop” and the way eight-minute closer “Eightfold Path” so gracefully unfolds its rolling progression across its early going. Even just the warmth of its tones. Guitar and bass, granted, but how often do you hear drums that sound warm? Recorded by drummer Steffen Weigand, who shared a prior tenure in underrated rockers The Great Escape with bassist Matte Vandeven — that band’s last album, Nothing Happens Without a Dream, came out on Nasoni in 2005 — My Sleeping Karma‘s My Sleeping Karma arrived through Elektrohasch Schallplatten and delivered an aural smoothness the likes of which heavy rock hadn’t heard before. Sure, Weigand, Vandeven, guitarist Seppi and keyboardist Norman Mehren drew form a well of influences in progressive, heavy and psychedelic rock, but their intent toward individuality, even at this moment of outset, is plain to hear in the tracks of their self-titled. And also in everything that’s come since.

I’d dug The Great Escape, played tracks from 2003’s Escape from Reality on college radio, etc., but the arrival of My Sleeping Karma was something on its own wavelength. At the time, much of my frame for heavy psychedelia was based around the also-Germany-based Colour Haze, and fair enough since they were among the principal European forebears of the style, but My Sleeping Karma‘s My Sleeping Karma emphasized how much more there was to say with heavy psych, how it could go to different places and occupy more than one mindset. There was something spiritual about it from the start. In the crucial unfurling of the 9:21 opener and longest track (immediate points) “InTENsion” (9:21), the four-piece from my sleeping karma self titledAschaffenburg created an immersion of the listener that went beyond “setting the tone” in the spirit of so many opening tracks and moved into a genuine sense of creating a mood, finding a headspace and bringing the listener to it. It was heavy in presence and weighted in tone, but peaceful even in its later, driving reaches, as its intended tension came to a head. And from the resonant keyboard lines of “23 Enigma” to the more active jump and shove of “Hymn 72,” My Sleeping Karma worked its way outward from the start, setting up the deep dive that its final three tracks, “Glow 11,” “Drannel Xu Ilop” and “Eightfold Path,” would represent on a clearly purposeful and clearly hypnotic and clearly switched on side B.

The effect of pairing “Glow 11” and “Drannel Xu Ilop” in particular isn’t to be understated. Like having “23 Enigma” and “Hymn 72” back-to-back just at the end of side A, having “Glow 11” into “Drannel Xu Ilop” lead into side B provides the proverbial “meat” of the album in terms of atmosphere — so yes, the meat you can’t see or touch, but meat nonetheless; don’t you touch that intangible meat! — and drawing the listener deeper into the record’s sphere. It’s not just that the songs are both seven-plus minutes long, or remarkably mellow, or hyper-repetitive. In fact they’re none of those things, but together they make up 15 minutes of a 44-minute LP and go a long way toward creating the saga of My Sleeping Karma‘s creative breadth. Their lushness isn’t overbearing — they’re never a wash of tone or effects or crash — but the movement is so fluid within and between them that one almost can’t help but be caught up in their sweep, and even though the payoff of “Drannel Xu Ilop” hearkens back to an earlier riff to make its impact, that impact is only more engaging for the subconscious familiarity of its figure. And as a bookend with “InTENsion,” “Eightfold Path” finishes with a reinforcement not only of the outward cast of My Sleeping Karma as a whole, but of the progressive future that was at the time ahead of the band. Held together by the bassline, a slower, drifting movement brings the track to its finish, not really soft, but subtle in its groove, with just bursts of intensity in the guitar before the last airy exhale comes forward, closing on a suitably meditative note.

My Sleeping Karma would go on to release two more albums through Elektrohasch in 2008’s Satya (review here; discussed here) and 2010’s Tri (review here) before signing to Napalm Records‘ short-lived heavy rock imprint Spinning Goblin Productions that was soon enough folded into Napalm proper for 2012’s Soma (review here), 2015’s Moksha (review here) and the 2017 live album, Mela Ananda — Live (review here). They put in a fair amount of road time in 2018, playing festivals like Desertfest Belgium and Freak Valley, and just last month they put in an appearance at SonicBlast Moledo ahead of touring in November with Stoned Jesus on an Obelisk-presented run (info here) called ‘Sonic Ride’ that has Somali Yacht Club opening the shows. No way that’s not going to be a good time.

I haven’t heard plans about a new album, but even if something’s in the works, it presumably wouldn’t be out until 2019 at this point, which would  mean a five-year stretch between studio My Sleeping Karma offerings, which is by far the longest they’ve ever had. For all I know they’ve got something mastered and there’s a press release in my email right now about it, though. Hang on, I’ll check… nope. Well, I’ll check again in five minutes and see if there’s anything then. Will keep you posted.

In the meantime, as always, I hope you enjoy the self-titled. It had been a while since I last dug into it, and while their style may have become more complex with the 13 years since, there’s no question that My Sleeping Karma knew they wanted their music to be a soulful, expressive experience right from the start. And so it was.

Thanks for reading.

Got that burnout working pretty hard on me this week. All levels. I’ve been reminding myself it’s the start of The Patient Mrs.’ semester. And she’s starting a new job. And I’m probably still tired from the move. And we have a toddler. And no dishwasher. The list goes on. But I also still have projects like Lowrider PostWax liner notes (this weekend is it; tomorrow they’re getting done), Acrimony liner notes (waiting on interviews back, so there’s still some time there), a piece on the art at Høstsabbat I said I’d put together and a press release for a certain New England band of marked impact hanging over my head, and all that stuff is feeling pretty overwhelming, and not in that good Quarterly Review kind of way. Like in the what-the-hell-am-I-doing-this-for kind of way.

Example: it’s just about 6AM. I’ve been writing for the last hour and a half and I’m falling asleep at the keyboard. The Pecan will be up any minute now. What the hell am I doing this for?

Whatever.

Next week? Fucking packed. Stream of the interview with Lori from Acid King goes up I think on Friday?, but don’t quote me on that. Premieres slated for Cavern, and Iron & Stone, and reviews of Ecstatic Vision, High Fighter, Mars Red Sky and the Ode to Doom show that’s happening next Wednesday in Manhattan. It’ll be my first Ode after co-presenting the series for three years. I’m already a little nervous to go.

I also this week had to take my new lens in for repair and that became a whole thing with Canon. Apparently they sent my warranty to an old email that doesn’t exist anymore, so I never activated it — which means nothing, by the way; the idea of “activating” a warranty by signing up for their system and giving them all the information about what you have and what you do with it? yeah, it’s a data mine and nothing more — and the first time I went to the office it was like I was coming from another planet. Took me all of Tuesday to sort out what had happened to that email, then I got it and had to wait for the warranty confirmation for a day and blah blah blah but I took the lens back in yesterday to the place and it was fine. Hopefully I’ll have it in time for the show next Wednesday, but if not, I’ll slum it with the just-one lens I always used until a couple weeks ago when I bought the new one. Could be worse.

Today is a new episode of The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio. You saw the playlist. It’s a good ‘un, and I kind of get sentimental in the last voice-break, so that’s fun too. Listen at http://gimmeradio.com.

Alright. The baby-monitor shows the boy is still down, so I’m going to take a couple minutes, finish the rest of this coffee and read and probably fall asleep on the couch.

I wish you a great and safe weekend. Have fun doing what you do.

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The Elephant Sign to Karma Conspiracy Records; New Song Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 11th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

the elephant

Preorders are up now through Bandcamp for the debut album from Italian heavy rock newcomers The Elephant. It’s been given an Oct. 25 release, which since you can buy it now is I guess fair enough, and the band make a compelling argument for themselves with the efficient two-minute asskicker “River,” which is led by a noise-rock-style bassline and vocals that seem to pull from the QOTSA oeuvre in a way that doesn’t let the hook sound too redundant. I’ve never heard the three-piece before — they formed last year — and in addition to liking writing about new bands, I like writing about new bands with debut albums, so here we are. New band with new album and new music streaming? All the better.

Obviously I haven’t heard the full album yet, but just going by the quick sample of “River,” it’s interesting to read below Karma Conspiracy — who’ll helm the release — talking about how it doesn’t feel like a debut. I think that comes through in the short track in the level of swagger behind what The Elephant are doing. Just something to listen for, but a definite appeal that piques interest heading into the record.

From the PR wire:

the elephant the elephant

Stoner Rock ‘n Rollers THE ELEPHANT sign with Karma Conspiracy Records & Reveal Full Album Details!

Many bands ( and label promo sheets ) may tell us they are different, unique, and are evolving their sound to a new level you have never heard before. This Italian trio in contrast, The Elephant, truly is. The blues and stoner rock ‘n rollers, formed just last year, have even signed a worldwide record deal with Karma Conspiracy, who will release the band’s first full length on October 25th.

“When we listened to the master of this debut by The Elephant, it didn’t really seem to have a band to debut. This year is a fundamental turning point for our label and this album will be another confirmation.“ Says label owner Phil.

Feeding on a sound that is characterized by the combination of two (!) distorted basses, stubborn and obsessive rhythms with their roots in the blues, alternated with alienating and psychedelic atmospheres; it’s especially also this unique voice of singer and bassist Giovanni Murolo, who gives the trio its very special vibes, soul and grooves. The Elephant’s self-titled album is the result of a year’s work, with themes heavily inspired by the poetry of William Blake, Dylan Thomas and Henry Michaux. Today we get to hear a first track of The Elephant’s upcoming debut, titled River.

“This is the song that started The Elephant project, and made us meet again after years. More than a song, it represents for us our musical bond and friendship.”

The album tracklisting will read as follows:
1. Mud Song
2. River
3. Quicksand Morning
4. Black White Alice
5. Monkey Demon
6. Catfish
7. Summer Blood
8. The Stoker
9. Walk With The Sun

Set for release on October 25th with Karma Conspiracy Records, you can already pre-oder your album copy HERE!
Watch out for many more news and tunes to follow in the days ahead, as one is sure: The Elephant came to stay and revive your blues spirit!

The Elephant is:
Giovanni Murolo – Bass & Vocals
Marco Catacchio – Bass & Vocals
Marco Sanchioni – Drums & Percussion

www.theelephantband.bandcamp.com
www.facebook.com/karmaconspiracyrecords
www.karmaconspiracy.it

The Elephant, “River”

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Friday Full-Length: Egypt, Egypt EP

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 6th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

 

First issued in 2005 by the band themselves, Egypt‘s four-song self-titled demo was picked up first by Lyderhorn Records in 2007 and then by MeteorCity for release as a debut EP (review here) in 2009. That latter version, coming at a time when the label was under new ownership and revamping its lineup with bands like Freedom Hawk, Elder, Leeches of Lore, Olde Growth, WhiteBuzz and New Keepers of the Water Towers, seemed to find an audience that has stayed consistently loyal to it over the last decade, and Egypt, who had already disbanded, wound up getting back together as a result. A reboot! Oh what a difference distribution can make.

Egypt formed circa 2003 in Fargo, North Dakota, and as the trio of bassist/vocalist Aaron Esterby, guitarist Ryan Grahn and drummer Chad Heille, they’d embark on their debut EP very much as an initial demo. In fact, the only things that really make it an EP at all are the quality of Heille‘s 2004 recording/mix/master and the fact that it was later released as one. Otherwise, the four-track 31-minute outing could just as easily be called a demo and left at that — while we’re at it, you could also call it a full-length if you wanted to; it’s long enough and there’s nothing in particular lacking to hold it back from being an LP. At least nothing lacking by accident. There is one pervasive lack that defines in no small part the release as a whole: the lack of bullshit. You’ll find none in catchy, on-that-wah bass of opener “Valley of the Kings,” the massive-sounding “Queen of All Time (Red Giant),” the smoky stoner blues roll of “Dirty Witch” or the fuzzy jam-out in “Touch Ground.” Tone and groove, verses and choruses — Egypt‘s Egypt took the approach of slowing down and revamping classic heavy rock swagger as a languid, flowing thing, not necessarily prone to jams in the finished product, as even “Touch Ground” touched ground eventually, but representative of the take of a new generation of heavy rock playing off that which MeteorCity helped define in the post-Kyuss mid- and late-’90s. Each riff, rumble and crash was made to count for maximum impact, and in a changing rock underground marked by the rise of take-it-with-you social media listening experiences and word of mouth, Egypt thrived at a time when, effectively, they were already dead. Put it in your ‘Go Figure’ file; I know you have one.

The shortest song on Egypt‘s Egypt is “Dirty Witch” at 7:27. That, “Touch Ground” and “Valley of the Kings” all hover around seven and a half minutes, while “Queen of All Time (Red Giant)” tops nine. Why that matters is it means each track has enough time to establish its own presence. The songs aren’t just about building up to a hook or an instrumental exploration, they’re a place to dwell, at least for a time. To be sure, “Valley of the Kings” has its chorus, but it’s also got its fuzz-caked gradual unfolding, a stick-click leading into the egypt egyptwah-bass bounce and the flowing vibe that Egypt keep holy throughout the entire release. What was the *new* stoner rock at the time did not lack for self-awareness, but there’s consistently something organic about the listening experience of Egypt‘s self-titled, which was less sludgy than some of their later output would become and proffered a kind of heavy blues that ran concurrent to the work of an act like Texas three-piece Wo Fat with whom Egypt would share the Cyclopean Riffs (review here) split in 2013.

A sometimes gruff character in Esterby‘s vocals was offset by the warmth of the guitar and bass tone surrounding and even in “Queen of All Time (Red Giant),” where the band married together Sleep-style riffing with a vintage-heavy mentality, engaging a hugeness of nod neither to be understated nor discounted. The ’70s flair came forward more on “Dirty Witch,” with its classic rock misogyny playing off notions of Deep Sabbath (or would it be Black Purple?) might’ve been, and “Touch Ground” dug into a more patient motion that made its impact all the more vital upon its arrival after a long, mellow intro. The short version? Egypt killed it. They absolutely did. What was their demo did more in terms of sound than a lot of first records, and did so with an overarching natural feel that became central to its whole character. It was like they plugged in, hit record, and went for it, threw a bird on the cover and were done. It’s never that simple in real life, of course, but especially when the finished product continues to sound so good even a decade/decade-plus later, it’s nice every once in a while to pretend otherwise. If you want to call that escapism, so be it.

The aforementioned Cyclopean Riffs split with Wo Fat came out just a couple months after Egypt‘s return from the abyss/debut album with guitarist Neil Stein, Become the Sun (review here), and that began a run that would find the band increasing their reach domestically and abroad for the next five years until they called it quits in 2018. During that time they were consistently productive, following Become the Sun with the split as well as two more LPs in 2015’s Endless Flight (review here) and 2017’s Cracks and Lines (review here), which showed them continuing to grow in terms of style without letting go of the central heft that that seemed always to be so essential to their process. A cover of Thin Lizzy‘s “Suicide” would be the capstone included on Glory or Death Records‘ tribute compilation, and since the second breakup, Heille and Stein have gone back to their prior instrumental outfit, El Supremo, which Heille founded in 2008, to issue the debut album, Clarity Through Distortion, this summer.

One tries never to say never in rock and roll in any situation, but whether or not the second Egypt disbanding will hold, I honestly couldn’t say. They managed to put out three killer records and made it to Europe in 2015, touring with Tombstones and playing Freak Valley Festival, so if they were the type to tick off boxes, they certainly ticked off a few good ones, but on the other hand, Cracks and Lines seemed to leave a few things unsaid, so I don’t know. Whatever happens in the future, the band never seemed to forget the initial impact their self-titled had in getting them going again. They’ve reissued it a couple times and have CDs available through Bandcamp for a whopping $5, presumably while they last. Which reminds me…

As always, I hope you enjoy.

To answer your next question, yes, I really did just buy that CD. I know I have the MeteorCity version and I may or may not have the original CD-R from the band, but screw it, the price was right and it’s early so impulse control is low.

Kind of an up and down week, but whatever. I ate a lot of garlic, I hung out with The Pecan, watched some baseball. The Patient Mrs. started her new job. This weekend is Nebula, Sasquatch, Mirror Queen and Geezer at the Saint Vitus Bar and the show’s going to be so good I’m actually kind of nervous for it. I’ll have a review up Monday, but hell’s bells, how am I supposed to even talk about something like that? “Duh, bands are awesome,” for like 1,500 words. What a wreck. If I have a brain left, I’ll see what I can do.

Also a couple premieres next week, from V, Alunah, Fire Down Below, and reviews of Monolord and High Fighter. An interview with Lori from Acid King that’s scheduled for tomorrow that was originally supposed to happen on Wednesday, which was The Patient Mrs.’ first day of classes, which meant I was on toddler-duty full-on and therefore by 2PM ready to bash my brain into the wall and very much not ready to give due attention to the 20th anniversary of Busse Woods. I love that record. I’d rather not fuck up the interview, if I can avoid it. Fortunately, Lori was kind enough to reschedule.

Look for the audio of that to come. I don’t know if anyone actually listens to those things — should I maybe break them up into parts? — but they’re fun to do. I like talking to people about their work, I just don’t have the will 15 years later to transcribe that conversation, nor the money to pay someone else to do it. That’s also time I could be reviewing something, and the hours of my day are limited and precious. I’d rather be writing about a record than misquoting someone talking about one. Call me crazy.

So anyway, more streaming interviews, I guess. Parker Griggs from Radio Moscow has a new band that I think I’ll be talking to him about, and I’ve floated Alunah and Heavy Temple as future possibilities. I wouldn’t mind hitting up Monolord either, frankly. Or Ufomammut, if I could make it happen.

I also need to write a piece about the art showings at Høstsabbat sometime in the next week or so that I have no idea yet how I’m going to frame. These things are complicated in my head sometimes. I’ll get there. Will I get there before I do the Lowrider PostWax liner notes or the Acrimony liner notes I need to do? I don’t know. I’m trying my best.

Alright, I’m gonna go read for a couple minutes before The Pecan wakes up and sets about dismantling the world around him, one choking hazard at a time. Please have a great and safe weekend, and please check out the forum and radio stream and get a t-shirt from Dropout if you haven’t yet.

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We Hunt Buffalo Self-Titled Reissue out Sept. 20

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 5th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

we hunt buffalo

I always feel compelled whenever I write about these guys — and it’s been a couple times now — to say that I don’t think they really hunt buffalo. Not the least because they’re from Vancouver and I don’t think there are any buffalo in Vancouver, as many as there are anywhere. Nonetheless, even as the B.C. trio We Hunt Buffalo continue to support 2018’s Head Smashed In (review here) as they did earlier this year for a trip abroad that included a stop at Desertfest London, the Fuzzorama Records (Sweden) signees continue to make international headway, hooking up with Greek imprint The Lab Records for a vinyl edition of their long-sold-out early-2012 self-titled debut. The platter, which includes a take on King Crimson‘s “21st Century Schizoid Man,” will be pressed up in an edition of 300 copies and released to the public on Sept. 20, but of course since the record’s been out for seven years, it’s streaming now. You can hear it courtesy of We Hunt Buffalo‘s Bandcamp at the bottom of this post.

The PR wire brings word of the reissue:

we hunt buffalo we hunt buffalo

WE HUNT BUFFALO – We Hunt Buffalo ( LAB040 )

Canadian fuzz rockers We Hunt Buffalo to reprint self titled debut on white vinyl (limited edition of 300) with Greece’s The Lab Records.

The 2011 LP has been out of print for some time now and as demand grows for vinyl copies of the album, the band is thrilled to be teaming up with The Lab Records.

“I think it’s so cool how a collaboration like this can happen” says Ryan Forsythe (Vocals/Guitar). “Here we have a band and record label on separate sides of the world coming together to release this record. We really like what The Lab Records is doing and are stoked to be part of the roster.”

Since the self titled LP, We Hunt Buffalo have gone on to release two additional full lengths and an EP. They’ve spent much time touring Europe, supporting Monolord & Truckfighters. Their first headlining Euro tour was a success in spring 2019 so expect to see them back soon (with hopefully, appearances in Greece! ).

Release date 20/09/2019.

https://www.facebook.com/wehuntbuffalo/
http://wehuntbuffalo.com/
https://www.instagram.com/wehuntbuffalo/
https://www.facebook.com/thelabrecordsgreece/
https://www.instagram.com/thelabrecords/

We Hunt Buffalo, We Hunt Buffalo (2012)

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Electric Jaguar Baby Self-Titled Debut out Oct. 25; New Song Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 4th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

electric jaguar baby

For those who might not be familiar with the Parisian duo’s work — and hey, that’s cool; this is the first I’m hearing them too — it won’t take long into the first single from their impending self-titled debut, “Witch I Love,” for the Josh Homme influence to make itself felt. Whether it’s the style of riffing or the vocals that accompany, the two-piece leave little to wonder where they’re coming from in terms of a central inspiration, taking the desert vibe and transposing it on the metropolis that is the City of Light. Oct. 25 is the listed release date for Electric Jaguar Baby‘s Electric Jaguar Baby, and it will be issued through Slice of Wax Records in addition to the band’s own El Diablo Records.

Familiar though the vibe is, it’s well suited to the inherent rawness of a two-piece incarnation, so consider yourself invited to check out the swaggering “Witch I Love” on the player at the bottom of this post.

Enjoy:

electric jaguar baby witch i love

French acid-fuzz/psych/stoner-rock Duo Electric Jaguar Baby premiered new single “Witch I Love”. New album coming out on October 25th.

After released three EPs in three years ( ‘EP 1’, ‘Moonshiner’ and ‘Old Songs From Beyond’ ) and then an EP compilation last year, French acid-fuzz/psych/rock/stoner duet Electric Jaguar Baby is about to release its debut full-length album planned for a physical/digital release on October 25th through El Diablo Records and Slice of Wax Records (Medicine Boy, etc.) .

In the meantime, the band just premiered a first audio glance from this upcoming record with the single “Witch I Love.”

ELECTRIC JAGUAR BABY was born in Paris in 2015, from the ashes of No Cure and 7 Days Before. A drummer and a guitarist, both of them singers, stride across Josh Homme’s desert, flirt with the Black Keys’ choruses and explore Jack White’s saturated riffs.

The duet generates a catchy sound with psychedelic atmospheres, hovering between rock’n’roll and fuzz. After releasing a first EP in november 2016 and ‘Moonshiner’ EP in march 2017 which were warmly welcomed by French and foreign critics, the band left their garage and trampled stages with their boots across France and Europe with bands like Yeti Lane, Charle’s Howl, Astrodome or Death Valley Girls, & L.A Witch. They grabed their old microphones and a 8-tracks-recorder in their cellar in Paris to capture their live energywith a 70’s vibe to put out 5 songs.

Their 3rd EP in 2 years : ‘Old songs From Beyond’ has been released on March 28th 2018 (4 original songs and a Jimi hendrix cover), again on handmade limited CDs and cassette tapes through their own label : El Diablo Records ! All of this 100% DIY. From Paris with fuzz.

https://www.facebook.com/ElectricJaguarBaby/
https://www.instagram.com/electricjaguarbaby/
http://electricjaguarbaby.band/
https://electricjaguarbaby.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/sliceofwax/
https://sliceofwaxrecords.bandcamp.com/

Electric Jaguar Baby, “Witch I Love”

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Review & Full Album Stream: Infinity Forms of Yellow Remember, Infinity Forms of Yellow Remember

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on September 2nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Infinity Forms of Yellow Remember Infinity Forms of Yellow Remember

[Click play above to stream the self-titled debut from Infinity Forms of Yellow Remember. It’s out Sept. 6 on Cardinal Fuzz.]

Sweet psychedelic salvation like that on offer throughout Infinity Forms of Yellow Remember‘s self-titled debut is rare. It’s rare, period. Never mind rare for a first album. Or rare for a first album as a 2LP. Rare. Picture yourself in a boat on a river, except the boat is a dragon and the river is lava and you’re not so much you as some kind of mix between Dennis Hopper and Gimli from Lord of the Rings. The Cardiff-based six-piece — listed as Luke, Gaz, Grant, Ropey, Tim, and Owen, and that’s fine — have some semblance of consciousness at work throughout the fully-blazed 66-minute offering, but it is the stuff of expanded minds. The low-end fuzz of “Walk with the King” and motorik thrust accompanying, the mood-setting drift in LP1 intro “Strange Flotsam on the Rising Tide” and the manner in which each platter’s second side — that’s B and D for those playing along at home — is consumed by a massive sprawl, be it the just-under-17-minute glory of “Great Vibrating Seasons” or the multi-movement build into cacophony that precedes the quiet finish of “Sun God Grave Goods,” the 14:31 capper for Infinity Forms of Yellow Remember as a whole.

These cuts represent a pinnacle — and one from which “Walk with the King” (12:38) and post-intro opener “Sub-Sonic Dreamer” (9:31) aren’t far off, by the way — but anywhere the band goes, freakitude follows like some kind of mushroom-added cultist, be it the blowout of “Sub-Sonic Dreamer,” the relatively straightforward “Surely They Know?” with its maddening and catchy hook, or the we’re-just-gonna-take-four-and-a-half-minutes-and-commune-with-the-universe drone of the penultimate “From the One Comes the Many,” which is missing only a warning that too much listening will expose the lizard people. All of these come together to make a killer set of charge-up, melt-down and burn-baby-burn, the band easing and oozing their way through subdued float and full-on warp drive push with an ease that belies it being their debut and every bit earns the yellow and black starkness of the cover that adorns it.

And just in case the point hasn’t been made, it’s gorgeous. Gorgeous and raw and expansive, sun-baked in gazing style but never trying to be anywhere or anything it’s not. Cohesion doesn’t just happen in the moments of solidified verses, either. One can hear it in the age-of-Aquarius chants of “Strange Flotsam on the Rising Tide” and subsequent post-The Heads blower guitar in the early going and latter reaches of “Sub-Sonic Dreamer,” the interplay of harmonica and dreamy jazz guitar in the midsection of “Sun God Grave Goods” and the various washes of synth between them. To be sure, Infinity Forms of Yellow Remember are functioning with a third-eye-open creative sensibility, but it’s worth emphasizing that these tracks aren’t just jams and that there’s a plan at work. “Sub-Sonic Dreamer” and “Surely They Know?” emphasize this with priority on side A, but even the when-Hawkwind-met-Floyd triumphalism of “Great Vibrating Seasons” works with motion in mind beyond barebones exploration.

infinity forms of yellow remember far out

Nothing against that, you understand, but the direction Infinity Forms of Yellow Remember bring to the proceedings make them feel all the more like kosmiche gatekeepers, holding open fuzz-covered doors of perception so that all might pass through into the ocean of effects beyond. Vocals in harmony or at least melodic unison are no less of an instrument than anything else that beeps, boops, beats or strums, and the feeling of fullness in the mix does nothing to undercut the spaciousness of the entirety in which that fullness resides. The volume dynamic in “Great Vibrating Seasons” alone is worth the price both of your soul and international shipping, never mind the manner in which the song rips itself apart at the end to let an acoustic guitar and residual effects subtlety take the helm for the inevitable fadeout. You gotta be kidding me with this stuff. Who the hell are these guys and why the hell haven’t they put out a second record yet? Yeah, I know the first one isn’t out, but no way you can listen to “Walk with the King” or “From the One Comes the Many” and make the argument that linear time matters.

Tell a friend, space-children. Tell two friends. Make new friends and tell them too. Tell your cousin Chuck. There’s beauty in the universe and coffee in that nebula and neither will go un-harvested in the meditations and rush of Infinity Forms of Yellow Remember‘s Infinity Forms of Yellow Remember, and while the rest of the world such as it is debates who’s-who’s cool enough to be neo-this or that, you’ll know that the more important thing is that feeling of your existential being leaking out of your eyeballs in rainbow teardrops of joy as “Walk with the King” pushes over the line between oblivi-off and oblivi-on, propelled from one to the other by a snare that pops like neurons firing, flourish of keys and bass, bass, bass that holds filthy sway while at least seven or eight guitars shred themselves and whatever else happens in an engrossing swell that’s even kind enough to arrive with its own comedown leading into “From the One Comes the Many” and “Sun Gods Grave Goods,” which even with a side flip between them feel no less born for each other.

This is where it’s at. Make no mistake. I’m not saying it’s a one-band revolution, because it’s not trying to be, but for a band to come around on an initial release with such utter and unflinching mastery of these uncontrollable-seeming sounds is not something to be taken lightly. It’s to be taken heavily because it is thusly administered, with patience for patients and intensity when it needs it most to create that feeling of hitting escape velocity, these sweeping builds that every bit demand not just the second platter but the listener attention throughout it. I don’t know much about this band’s circumstances, if they’ll tour, if they’ll put out five records a year or never do anything else, but they’re beginning to dig into something special here. What I said at the outset was true. It’s rare. And if Infinity Forms of Yellow Remember in any way pay off the promise that this debut shows, then all who encounter them can only consider themselves lucky. Double LP? Shit. Make the next one a triple.

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Friday Full-Length: earthlings?, earthlings?

Posted in Bootleg Theater on August 30th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

The 11 tracks of earthings? 1998 self-titled debut are a stirring reminder that sometimes the best thing one can be is weird. Among the core lineup of Dave Catching (who’s contributed one way or the other to Queens of the Stone Age, Mojave Lords, Eagles of Death Metal, Goon Moon, Masters of Reality, and many others), Fred Drake (Mark Lanegan, Queens of the Stone Age, and a host of others in various roles), and Pete Stahl (GoatsnakeScreamWool, Orquesta del Desierto), is the name of the Rancho de la Luna studio itself where earthlings? was recorded for eventual release through Crippled Dick Hot Wax and Man’s Ruin Records. The studio itself plays a massive role in the ultimate personality of the record, as songs become willfully bizarre explanations of drones or keys like the otherwise straightforward “Reaper (Don’t Fear This Child)” or seem built of Wonka-esque psychotronic experimentation like “Conversing Among Misfits,” which, by the way, is the centerpiece of the album, because of course it is.

In these pieces as well as in opener “Nothing” and the desert-Velvet Underground take of “Saving up for My Spaceship/Illuminate,” and even the QOTSA-adjacent riff-style of “Stungun” — with Scott Reeder on bass, no less — the feel becomes not unlike another hidden edition of Desert Sessions, with Stahl‘s malleable vocals, Drake‘s keys/vocals/sometimes-drums and Catching‘s guitar/keys/bass/whatever emerging as having been born of a similar sonic adventurism. No doubt tales of, “let’s get everyone in the studio for a few days, do drugs and make records,” have been exaggerated, but it’s worth noting that all three members of earthlings? were indeed involved in Desert Sessions at one point or another, and the vibe of the self-titled bears that out in “The Dreaded Lovelies” and the same goes for the subsequent ambience of “The Icy Halls of Sobriety (I Dare Not Tread)” and the chill finish in closer “Triumphant March of the Buffoons,” which rounds out a farewell salvo like the band blew out its songwriting apparatus on “Stungun” and decided to just roll with the anti-consciousness impulse. Sometimes the best thing one can be is weird.

Drake and Stahl share vocal duties on the punkish “Cavalry” while Adam Maples (Legal Weapon, Boneclub, Orquesta del Desierto) steps in on drums, and the pattern of offsetting more straight-ahead moments with bizarre fare continues as the impressionist “Happiest Day of My Life” arrives based around a piano line and interweaving vocals and keyboard, carrying forth a wistfulness that continues into an ending of traffic sounds and the arrival of the bouncing anythingism of “Conversing Among Misfits,” each song a departure from the one before it much as “Nothing” at the outset stands as a departure from reality. What ties them all together, such as they’re intended to be tied together at all, is the sense of freedom behind their making. The tracks on earthlings?‘s self-titled by and large earthlings earthlingsare not smoothed-over, structured pieces intended to land a hook. Their sense of expression is on a different trip.

In hindsight, the post-rocking drift in the guitar of “Nothing” feels somewhat prescient, even with the launch-countdown over top, but what it conveys most of all is that earthlings? were not formed as a band with limits placed on their sound. They were not going to be “this” kind of band or “that” kind of band. They were going to see what happened. True, they inevitably are lumped into the sphere of Californian desert rock in no small part because of their many associations therewith, but that’s not a limit on what they do. With a first album that appeared shortly after Kyuss disbanded, they showed a different side of the desert, less aggressive and more embodying a kind of we-moved-to-the-middle-of-nowhere-for-a-reason aesthetic libertarianism, unwilling to follow dictates other than those of their own creativity. That would turn out to be plenty, of course, as “Saving up for My Spaceship/Illuminate” tops seven minutes of percussion-addled sand psych before giving way to the return of the drum kit on “Reaper (Don’t Fear This Child),” on which Drake‘s sneering vocal approach should recall for anyone who’s heard it that of Zach Huskey of Dali’s Llama, also long underappreciated.

And maybe that middle finger to convention is part of the desert ideal as well, though it’s hard to assess such things from (1:) across the country and (2:) two decades after the fact without indulging the peculiar gonzo romanticism of American counterculture. I’ll save my breath, if that’s cool, and just note that whatever accidents it might produce, the kind of stylistic individuality one hears on earthlings? is never itself anything but willful, and whatever the album might share in common with other outfits to which Stahl or Drake or Catching played in the years since seems much more born of the fact that it’s the same personality being taken along with them on the way. Those personae, in combination with each other and with Rancho de la Luna itself, produced something in this first earthlings? record that inherently could not be reproduced — the capture of a singular moment in time.

Of course, the self-titled isn’t the only thing earthlings? ever put out. They followed it with Human Beans, which featured an even broader range of guests, including Mark Lanegan, Barrett Martin, Josh Homme and Petra Hayden, as well as a drum spot from Dave Grohl, in 2000, members continuing to contribute to Desert Sessions in between. The death of Drake from cancer in 2002 came shortly after the band released their Disco Marching Craft EP, on which he did not appear, and over the years that followed, earthlings? would release sporadic short offerings like 2005’s Individual Sky Cruiser Theory or 2008’s Humalien EPs, bringing Mathias Schneeberger and a swath of other players into the lineup along the way. It wasn’t until 2016’s Mudda Fudda limited vinyl on Last Hurrah Records that earthlings? issued a third full-length, and I wouldn’t profess to know anything about future plans or anything like that. Still, their work remains delightfully strange and rife with the kind of indulgence one wants to indulge because it’s so much fun to follow along, and 21 years after the fact, earthlings? continues to stand resoundingly alone.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

New episode of The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio today at 1PM Eastern. I’m doing a special on the Kyuss family tree, the research for which I’ll admit also had me digging into this earthlings? record earlier this week. If you get to check that out, it would surely be appreciated.

Listen at: http://gimmeradio.com

And thanks.

It’s very nearly 4AM now. The Patient Mrs. and I had friends over last night. I turned in around 10 and fell asleep immediately, so don’t even know when she came to bed, but I woke up at 1:30 and never got back to sleep. That’s not going to make my day any easier, I think, but “making my day easier” has never been among my specialties.

This week was a fucking mess. The Esogenesi track that went up earlier I actually reviewed back on like Tuesday because I wanted to review the Orange Goblin show Wednesday morning and still be ahead, so wound up doing Esogenesi on Tuesday to go up today so that yesterday I could just do PH and have that go up immediately. Why does it make a difference? I’m not sure. Would it matter if the Orange Goblin review had gone up the next day? To me, maybe. Which I guess is how that dumb crap happens in the first place.

Ah, now it’s 4AM. The alarm on my phone just went off.

If you saw that Orange Goblin review, thanks. I was pretty thrilled with it. I bought a new lens last week as a moving-house present to myself and took it to that show and C.O.C. in Jersey in order to break it in. It’s fun. I’m pleased with it. It’s not a magic bullet to make me a better photographer or anything, but it’s pro-level even if I’m not. There are a few other shows coming up in the next several weeks, so I’m looking forward to getting to know it more.

This weekend? Yeah, I don’t know. The Patient Mrs. is gone at a conference in Washington, D.C., that will mark the longest time she’s been away from The Pecan. I think she’s nervous about that, but fortunately there’s plenty of distraction. The kid yesterday, man. Oof. What a day. Hitting and yelling and whining and pouting and smacking himself in the face and just crying for nothing. Made me want to check him for new teeth. “Bro, what the hell?” and so on. He can have some pretty intense moments, in the true spirit of a toddler. Splatter my brains on the fucking wall. He’ll be two in October. Not there yet.

It’s okay though. I hear it gets much easier from here and all the concerns go away and you just all of a sudden have a person you love a bunch and can talk to about baseballs and various kinds of gouda cheese and heavy metal and it’s all good and then they take care of you until you die. Pretty sure I read that somewhere.

I signed on to do a bio for WarHorse. It was an honor to be asked. I don’t know when they need it or anything, but I’ll probably post it here when the time comes. In the meantime, I’m interviewing Lori from Acid King next week for a streaming chat — those are getting me back on the phone/Skype with people and I like that; transcription had been keeping me away, and I hate setting up email interviews, which is why Six Dumb Questions only has six questions — and I’m supposed to email questions to the guys from a certain bud-loving British band for liner notes for a reissue they’re doing of a landmark album that I haven’t done yet, and I’m supposed to talk to Peder from Lowrider this weekend about their upcoming PostWax release for liner notes for that. I am, in a word, over-fucking-whelmed. But I do these things to myself. I like being asked to do things. I like being a part of things. I appreciate the fact that someone might give enough of a shit about what I say to print it with their record or to send it out as their statement of who they are as a band. Is the weekend when I’m on my own with the kid the time to be thinking about getting anything at all done? Yeah, no. Am I doing so anyway? Clearly.

What a dope.

I guess I’ll leave on that happy note. A few good premieres next week, and the audio of my interview with Jesse Bartz from L0-Pan that I recorded at their show in Jersey, so keep an eye out for those. It’ll be fun.

Alright. Have a great and safe weekend. Please check out the forum and radio stream and merch at Dropout.

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Esogenesi Premiere “Decadimento Astrale” from Self-Titled Debut out Oct. 4

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on August 30th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

ESOGENESI

Milano death-doomers Esogenesi will release their self-titled debut album on Oct. 4 through Transcending Obscurity Records. The four-piece are a relatively new band, having formed in 2016, but as the five-track/39-minute full-length plays out, it becomes increasingly clear they’re doing more with the collection than just getting their feet wet in the style. They’re doing that too, to be sure, but if we’re sticking with the liquid idiom, they’re much more “up to neck” than “wet feet” when it comes to the particular grueling atmosphere that typifies the death-doom aesthetic — that ultra-dark churn marked out by a severe emotional conveyance, a mournfulness that gives the death metal aspects of the sound a that-much-truer resonance. Esogenesi‘s background as players varies, between black metal, hardcore, classical and, presumably, some doom as well, but even as album-closer “Incarnazione Della Conoscenza” hits its crescendo with blastbeating insistence, the commitment to the whole-album ambience remains firm. In other words, though they haven’t done it before, they know what they’re doing.

There’s comfort in that for the present and promise for the future, of course. Esogenesi show quickly what the crux of their first offering will be in the brooding guitar and bass intro of opener “Abominio,” one of three cuts to top nine minutes on the vinyl-ready outing. ESOGENESI ESOGENESISoon double-kick enters, but the tone of patience is already set, and that will prove crucial to both band and listener as “Abominio” unfolds into its morose riff and speedier chug en route to the subsequent “Decadimento Astrale,” which essentially flips the structure to fast-slow instead of slow-fast in terms of its buildup, establishing a fluidity that carries into the standalone guitar of “…Oltregenesi…” — which in another context I’d directly liken to Dylan Carlson — which is joined in its second half by understated drums before it kind of disintegrates into the start of “Esilio Nell’Extramondo,” the penultimate and longest inclusion on Esogenesi at 9:51 and perhaps also the darkest of processions the band here unfurls. A quiet beginning is mirrored in the ambient midsection, but on either side of that is a dirge procession that finds the band — guitarist Davide Roccato bassist Carlo Campanelli, vocalist Jacopo Marinelli and drummer Michele Adami — pushing toward a new level of extremity in aural gruel that, yes, will pick up some speed by the end, but still remains pummeling in its finish in a manner consistent with how they started out. It’s a gorgeous execution of style.

And taken in kind with “Incarnazione Della Conoscenza” as it would be on side B of a vinyl release, it further demonstrates where Esogenesi are coming from in their initial approach to death-doom, which is straightforward at least in the microgenre’s own terms. I wouldn’t be surprised to find them adding keyboard, or strings, or even just more guitar effects to flesh out arrangements as they move forward, but as a flag-planting endeavor, Esogenesi‘s self-titled lays claim to a chunk of space in death-doom and proceeds to make that space its own. The band’s trades between loud and quiet stretches, fast and slow stretches, the interlude vibe in “…Oltregenesi…” and the sharper-edged riffing that caps the pre-apex burst of “Incarnazione Della Conoscenza” — they end on their most extreme push, as noted — all feed together to make an overarching impression of bleakness that is consuming, but still not overwhelming or redundant simply because at under 40 minutes, it doesn’t stick around long enough to be. A certain amount of repetition is fair game, one might argue essential, to what they’re doing, but one of the things Esogenesi get right on their first LP is realizing that it doesn’t need to be 65 minutes long to get its point across, and whether that’s a conscious decision on their part or an instinct and how it worked out with the timing of recording or whatever else, it’s another impulse that will only serve the band well as they seek to follow-up this impressive debut.

Happy today to host the premiere of “Decadimento Astrale” below, which you’ll find followed by more info from the PR wire.

Please enjoy:

Esogenesi, “Decadimento Astrale” official track premiere

Death/doom metal band Esogenesi have concocted a sublime blend that harnesses the power of death metal with the poignancy of doom metal, backed with an able, organic yet powerful sound that the band can call it their own. Even though this is only their debut, the quartet have outdone themselves in creating music with unfathomable depth and emotional poise. The five songs plod along with subtle but effective changes in mood, tempo and groove, and it often becomes imperative to revisit them to catch the brilliant nuances ensconced in the rumbling death metal-spiked parts. This is as good a debut as any to come out in the genre and it only solidifies the band’s place in the increasing death/doom roster of Transcending Obscurity.

Tracklisting –
1. Abominio
2. Decadimento Astrale
3. …Oltregenesi…
4. Esilio Nell’Extramondo
5. Incarnazione Della Conoscenza

Lineup –
Jacopo Marinelli – Vocals
Davide Roccato – Guitars
Carlo Campanelli – Bass
Michele Adami – Drums

Cover art by Korvo
Internal layout and graphics by Luca Brusa

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