Quarterly Review: Sonic Flower, Demon Head, Rakta & Deafkids, Timo Ellis, Heavy Feather, Slow Draw, Pilot Voyager, The Ginger Faye Bakers, Neromega, Tung

Posted in Reviews on April 2nd, 2021 by JJ Koczan

quarterly-review-spring-2019

Friday morning and the Spring 2021 Quarterly Review draws to a close. It’s been a good one, and though there are probably enough albums on my desktop to make it go another few days, better to quit while I’m ahead in terms of not-being-so-tired-I’m-angry-at-everything-I’m-hearing. In any case, as always, I hope you found something here you enjoy. I have been pleasantly surprised on more than a few occasions, especially by debuts.

We wrap with more cool stuff today and since I’m on borrowed time as it is, let me not delay.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Sonic Flower, Rides Again

sonic flower rides again

Like Church of Misery‘s groove but feel kind of icky with all those songs about serial killers? Legit. Say hello to Tatsu Mikami‘s Sonic Flower. Once upon a 2003, the band brought all the boogie and none of the slaughter of Tatsu‘s now-legendary Sabbathian doom rock outfit to a self-titled debut (reissue review here), and Rides Again is the lost follow-up from 2005, unearthed like so many of the early ’70s forsaken classics that clearly inspired it. With covers of The Meters and Graham Central Station, Sonic Flower makes their funky intentions plain as day, and the blowout drums and full-on fuzz they bring to those cuts as well as the five originals on the short-but-satisfying 28-minute offering is a win academically and for casual fans alike. You ain’t gonna hear “Jungle Cruise” or their take on “Earthquake” and come out complaining, is what I’m saying. This is the kind of record that makes you buy more records.

Sonic Flower on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds on Bandcamp

 

Demon Head, Viscera

demon head viscera

With Viscera, Copenhagen’s Demon Head make their debut on Metal Blade Records. It is their fourth album overall, the follow-up to 2019’s Hellfire Ocean Void (review here), and it continues the five-piece’s enduring exploration of darker places. Dramatic vocals recount grim narratives over backing instrumentals that are less doom at the outset with “Tooth and Nail” and “The Feline Smile” than goth, and atmospheric pieces like “Arrows” and “The Lupine Choir” and “A Long, Groaning Descent” and “Wreath” and certainly the closer “The Triumphal Chariot of Antimony” further the impression that Viscera, though its title conjures raw guts, is instead an elaborate entirety — if perhaps one of raw guts — and meant to be taken in its 36-minute whole. Demon Head make that LP-friendly runtime a progression down into reaches they’d not until this point gone, tapping sadness for its inherent beauty.

Demon Head on Thee Facebooks

Metal Blade Records website

 

Rakta & Deafkids, Live at Sesc Pompeia

Rakta Deafkids Live at Sesc Pompeia

Next time someone asks you what the future sounds like, you’ll have a good answer for them. Combined into a six-piece band, Brazilian outfits Rakta and Deafkids harness ambience and space-punk thrust into a sound that is born of a past that hasn’t yet happened. Their Live at Sesc Pompeia LP follows on from a 2019 two-songer, but it’s in the live performance that the spirit of this unity really shines through, and from opener/longest track (immediate points) “Miragem” through the semi-industrialized effects swirl of “Templo do Caos,” into the blower-noise dance party “Sigilo,” the weirdo-chug-jam of “Forma” and the space rock breakout “Flor de Pele” and the percussed buzz and echoing howls of “Espirais,” they are equal parts encompassing and singular. It is not to be ignored, and though there are moments that border on unlistenable, you can hear from the wailing crowd at the end that to be in that room was to witness something special. As a document of that, Live at Sesc Pompeia feels like history in the making.

Rakta on Thee Facebooks

Deafkids on Thee Facebooks

Rapid Eye Records website

 

Timo Ellis, Death is Everywhere

Timo Ellis Death is Everywhere

A madcap, weighted-but-anti-genre sensibility comes to life in supernova-experimentalist fashion throughout the four songs of Timo EllisDeath is Everywhere. The lockdown-era EP from Ellis (Netherlands, Yoko Ono, Cibo Matto, on and on) makes post-modern shenanigans out of apocalypses inner and outer, and from lines like “this bridal shower is bumming me out” in the unabashedly hooky “Vampire Rodeo” to “the earth will still breathe fire without you!” in “Left Without an Answer,” the stakes are high despite the flittering-in-appreciation-of-the-absurd mood of the tracks themselves. The title-track and “Evolve or Die” blend sonic heft and the experimental pop movement that “Vampire Rodeo” sets forth — the third cut is positively manic and maniacally positive — while “Left Without an Answer” almost can’t help but be consuming as it rolls into a long fade leaving intertwining vocals lines as the last to go, telling the listener to “learn to say goodbye” without making it easy. Won’t be for everyone, doesn’t want to be. Is expression for itself. Feels genuine in that, and admirable.

Timo Ellis on Thee Facebooks

Timo Ellis on Bandcamp

 

Heavy Feather, Mountain of Sugar

heavy feather mountain of sugar

With not-at-all-subtle nods to Humble Pie and Ennio Morricone in its opening tracks, Heavy Feather‘s second LP, Mountain of Sugar, has boogie to spare. No time is wasted on the 38-minute/11-track follow-up to 2019’s Débris & Rubble (review here), and true to the record’s title, it’s pretty sweet. The collection pits retro mindset against modern fullness in its harmonica-laced, duly-fuzzed title-track, and goes full-Fleetwood on “Come We Can Go” heading into a side B that brings a highlight in the soft-touch-stomp of “Rubble and Debris” and an earned bit of Southern-styled turn in “Sometimes I Feel” that makes a fitting companion to all the bluesy vibes throughout, particularly those of the mellow “Let it Shine” earlier. The Stockholm outfit knew what they were doing last time out too, but you can hear their process being refined throughout Mountain of Sugar, and even its most purposefully familiar aspects come across with a sense of will and playfulness.

Heavy Feather on Thee Facebooks

The Sign Records on Thee Facebooks

 

Slow Draw, Yellow & Gray

slow draw yellow and gray

Don’t tell him I told you so, but Slow Draw is starting to sound an awful lot like a band. What began as a drone/soundscaping project from Stone Machine Electric drummer/noisemaker Mark Kitchens has sprouted percussive roots of its own on Yellow & Gray, and as Kitchens explores textures of psychedelic funk, mellow heavy and even a bit of ’70s proggy homage in “Sylvia” ahead of the readily Beck-ian jam “Turntable” and acousti-drone closer “A Slow Move,” the band-vibe is rampant. I’m going to call Yellow & Gray a full-length despite the fact that it’s 24 minutes long because its eight songs inhabit so many different spaces between them, but however you want to tag it, it demonstrates the burgeoning depth of Kitchens‘ project and how it’s grown in perhaps unanticipated ways. If this is what he’s been doing in isolation — as much as Texas ever shuttered for the pandemic — his time has not been wasted.

Slow Draw on Thee Facebooks

Slow Draw on Bandcamp

 

Pilot Voyager, Nuclear Candy Bar

plot voyager nuclear candy bar

Freak! Out! The 66-minute Nuclear Candy Bar from Hungarian psychedelicists Pilot Voyager might end mostly drifting with the 27-minute “23:61,” but much of the four tracks prior to that finale are fuzz-on-go-go-go-out-out-out heavy jams, full in tone and improv spirit however planned their course may or may not actually be. To say the least, “Fuzziness” lives up to its name, as guitarist/founder Ákos Karancz — joined by bassist Bence Ambrus (who also mastered) and drummers Krisztián Megyeri and István Baumgartner (the latter only on the closer) — uses a relatively earthbound chug as a launchpad for further space/krautrocking bliss, culminating in a scorching cacophony that’s the shortest piece on the record at just under seven minutes. If you make it past the molten heat of the penultimate title-track, there’s no turning away from “23:61,” as the first minute of that next day pulls you in from the outset, a full-length flow all unto itself. More more more, yes yes yes. Alright you get the point.

Pilot Voyager on Thee Facebooks

Psychedelic Source Records on Bandcamp

 

The Ginger Faye Bakers, Camaro

the ginger faye bakers camaro

Sit with The Ginger Faye BakersCamaro EP for a little bit. Don’t just listen to the first track, or even the second, third or fourth, on their own, but take a few minutes to put it all together. Won’t take long, the thing’s only 17 minutes long, and in so doing you’ll emerge with a more complex picture of who they are as a band. Yeah, you hear the opening title-cut and think early-Queens of the Stone Age-style desert riffing, maybe with a touch of we’re-actually-from-the-Northeast tonal thickness, but the garage-heavy of “The Creeps” feels self-aware in its Uncle Acid-style swing, and as the trio move through the swinging “The Master” and “Satan’s Helpers,” the last song drawing effectively from all sides, the totality of the release becomes all the more sinister for the relatively straight-ahead beginning just a short time earlier. Might be a listen or two before it sinks in, but they’ve found a niche for themselves here and one hopes they continue to follow where their impulses lead them.

The Ginger Faye Bakers on Thee Facebooks

The Ginger Faye Bakers on Bandcamp

 

Neromega, Nero Omega

Neromega Nero Omega

If you’re not yet keeping an eye on Regain Records offshoot Helter Skelter Productions, Rome’s Neromega are a fervent argument for doing so. The initials-only cultish five-piece are Italian as much in their style of doom as they are in geography, and across their four-song Nero Omega debut EP, they run horror organ and classic heavy rock grooves alongside each other while nodding subtly at more extreme fare like the death ‘n’ roll rumble in closer “Un Posto” or the dirt-coated low end that caps “Pugnale Ardore,” the drifting psych only moments ago quickly forgotten in favor of renewed shuffle. Eight-minute opener “Solitudine,” might be the highlight as well as the longest inclusion on the 24-minute first-showing, but it’s by no means the sum total of what the band have on offer, as they saunter through giallo, psychedelia, doom, heavy riffs and who knows what else to come, they strike an immediately individual atmospheric presence even while actively toying with familiar sounds. The EP is cohesive enough to make me wonder what their initials are.

Neromega on Thee Facebooks

Helter Skelter Productions website

 

Tung, Bleak

TUNG BLEAK

Some of the made-even-bigger-by-echo vocals from guitarist Craig Kasamis might remind of Maurice Bryan Giles from Red Fang, but Ventura, California’s Tung are up chasing down a different kind of party on 2020’s Bleak, though Kasamis, guitarist David Briceno (since replaced by Bill Bensen), bassist Nick Minasian and drummer Rob Dean have a strong current of West Coast noise rock in what they’re doing as well in “Runaway,” a lurcher like “Spit” later on or the run-till-it-crashes finisher “Fallen Crown,” which the only song apart from the bookending opener “Succession Hand” to have a title longer than a single word. Still, Tung have their own, less pop-minded take on brashness, and this debut album leaves the bruises behind to demonstrate its born-from-hardcore lineage. Their according lack of frills makes Bleak all the more effective at getting its point across, and while they’d probably tell you their sound is nothing fancy, it’s fancy enough to stomp all over your ears for about half an hour, and that’s as fancy as it needs to be. Easy to dig even in its more aggressive moments.

Tung on Thee Facebooks

Plain Disguise Records website

 

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The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal Playlist: Episode 55

Posted in Radio on March 19th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

the obelisk show banner

I was putting the show together the other day — like everything else in the last two weeks, I had to push off doing so owing to family stuff — and when I was picking tracks, it just kind of occurred to me that I might as well do a whole show of Heavy Psych Sounds stuff. It was like, “Oh, I’ll play Bongzilla and those new Hippie Death Cult and Acid’s Trip tracks,” and then it was “Well I haven’t played any of the new Sonic Flower yet and that’s Tatsu from Church of Misery so that’s cool,” and then from there filling out an entire two hours’ worth of Heavy Psych Sounds stuff was shockingly easy.

New 16, 1782, Cosmic Reaper, Acid Mammoth, on and on, and some other awesome stuff that’s come out in the last couple years, and two hours later, it still only barely scratches the surface of what the Italian label has done. To wit, the catalog reissues from Doze and Nebula and Brant Bjork go unrepresented here. As does the last Yawning Man or the upcoming Yawning Sons, both of which I’ve played recently on the show. But yeah, there’s so much stuff to go through, I simply didn’t have room for it all, especially knowing that I wanted to end with the 19-minute track from Orgöne because that record is so weird and out there even in comparison to other stuff the label does.

I talk a bit here, mostly just to be like, “Duh that was awesome” about one song or another. Despite my verbal bumbling and constant “uh”-ness, I hope you enjoy the show.

Thanks for listening and/or reading.

The Obelisk Show airs 5PM Eastern today on the Gimme app or at http://gimmemetal.com

Full playlist:

The Obelisk Show – 03.19.21

Bongzilla Free the Weed Weedsconsin
Hippie Death Cult Red Meat Tricks Circle of Days
Acid’s Trip Faster, Chopper, Boogie! Strings of Soul
Sonic Flower Super Witch Rides Again
16 Death on Repeat Doom Sessions Vol. 3
VT
Black Rainbows Sacred Graal Cosmic Ritual Supertrip
Fatso Jetson Flesh Trap Blues Split with Farflung
Ecstatic Vision Grasping the Void For the Masses
Acid Mammoth Ivory Towers Caravan
Crypt Trip Hard Times Haze County
VT
Big Scenic Nowhere Tragic Motion Lines Vision Beyond Horizon
High Reeper Bring the Dead Higher Reeper
The Pilgrim Waiting for the Sun …From the Earth to the Sky and Back
Geezer Black Owl Groovy
Cosmic Reaper Hellion Cosmic Reaper
1782 The Chosen One From the Graveyard
VT
Orgöne Erstes Ritual Mos/Fet

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal airs every Friday 5PM Eastern, with replays Sunday at 7PM Eastern. Next new episode is April 2 (subject to change). Thanks for listening if you do.

Gimme Metal website

The Obelisk on Thee Facebooks

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Sonic Flower to Issue Unreleased Album Rides Again; Premiere “Super Witch”; Self-Titled Being Reissued

Posted in audiObelisk, Whathaveyou on November 4th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

sonic flower

There was word early in 2019 that renowned bassist/riffmaker Tatsu Mikami was working on new material with his Church of Misery offshoot project, Sonic Flower. Any new record that might’ve surfaced — and none has yet — would be first the band has done since their 2003 self-titled debut (reissue review here), and it seems now that not only will the band’s awaited new full-length come out through Heavy Psych Sounds, but the Italian label will also publish the band’s lost Rides Again second album from 2005 and a reissue of the self-titled to boot. Preorders are live for Sonic Flower and Rides Again as of… right now. Now. Okay now.

Now.

To celebrate that fact, one can dig into a premiere of the ripper opener “Super Witch” from Rides Again, which also boasts in its ranks not only a cover of The Meters, but one of Graham Central Station as well. Really nailing home the point of classic heavy rock and funk crossing over there, but it’s a point too often forgot and well worth making.

The lost album should and will be a gotta-grab for collector types and other interested parties, but I’m dying too to find out what Tatsu and co. have in store for a new record. Either way you go, you don’t lose, and if you’ve never checked out Sonic Flower before, take the time to get introduced.

PR wire info follows. “Super Witch” is at the bottom of the post.

Dig:

sonic flower rides again

Sonic Flower were formed as a side project of Church of Misery in 2001. Tatsu Mikami (bass) and at that time Church’s guitarist Takenori Hoshi (guitar on Church of Misery’s 2nd album “The Second Coming”), teamed up to play more bluesy & non Doomy taste instrumental Heavy Rock. They were influenced by famous 70’s heavy rock bands like CACTUS, GRAND FUNK RAILROAD, GROUNDHOGS, SAVOY BROWN etc. Soon female guitarist “Arisa” and drummer Keisuke Fukawa joined the band. In 2003, they released the self titled debut album “SONIC FLOWER” on Japanese Heavy rock label “Leafhound Records”. All instrumental bluesy heavy rock and improvised doubleguitar, they got a tons of good response from all over the world. They also played some shows as support for some foreign band’s Japan appearance like Electric Wizard, Bluebird (Amen’s side project), Acid King etc.

In 2005 they went to studio for new recordings. At that time the band has some problems and after the recording quit. So this recordings were long years sleeping in the vault. Totally unreleased studio materials. In 2018 Tatsu decided to re-form the band. He has already tons of new songs. This time he teamed up with old Church singer and his old friend. A new album is in progress and will be released in 2021.

sonic flower self titledSONIC FLOWER ‘Sonic Flower reissue out 22.01.20 on Heavy Psych Sounds Records
Presale start November 4th on heavypsychsounds.com

TRACKLIST:
A01 Cosmic Highway – 3:22
A02 Black Sunshine – 4:37
A03 Astroqueen – 3:45
B01 Sonic Flower – 3:39
B02 Indian Summer – 4:42
B03 Going Down – 5:10

Available as:
Test Press Vinyl
150 Ultra Ltd Splatter Red/Orange Vinyl
350 Ltd Fucsia Vinyl
Black Vinyl
Digipak
Digital

This Sonic Flower self-titled debut album is an instrumental bluesy heavy rock with no DOOM taste. A lot of improvised double guitar solo and a very special groovy rythm section. The release got a real unexpected awesome response all over the world. All the tracks are 100% original, except the cover of the blues classic “Going Down”.

SONIC FLOWER New album ‘Rides Again’ out 29.01.20 on Heavy Psych Sounds Records
Presale start November 4th on heavypsychsounds.com

TRACKLIST:
A01 Super Witch – 3:26
A02 Black Sheep – 3:10
A03 Jungle Cruise – 4:19
A04 Captain Frost – 3:45
B01 Stay Away ( Meters cover ) – 4:42
B02 Quicksand Planet – 4:08
B03 Earthquake ( Graham Central Station cover ) – 4:26

Available as:
Test Press Vinyl
150 Ultra Ltd Half – Half Orange/Blue Vinyl (With Alternative Orange Cover)
350 Ltd Transparent Red Vinyl
Black Vinyl
Digipak
Digital

All the tracks on this Rides Again album are unreleased studio material recorded after 1st album came out in 2005. At that time the band members had some troubles during recording, so after the recording sessions they broke up. These tracks were sleeping in the vault for more then fifteen years. The music is a mixture of psychedelic groove, rock, funk, and doom metal. For fans of Cactus, Grand Funk Railroad, Mountain, Sir Load Baltimore, Captain Beyond, Meaters, Graham Central Station and Funkadelic. On the album you can find four original songs plus two cover tracks: “Earthquake” from Graham Central Station and “Stay Away” from Meters.

https://www.facebook.com/HEAVYPSYCHSOUNDS
https://instagram.com/heavypsychsounds_records/
http://www.heavypsychsounds.com
https://heavypsychsoundsrecords.bandcamp.com

Sonic Flower, “Super Witch” official track premiere

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Sonic Flower to Release New Album Later This Year

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 1st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Emetic Records has posted the news that Sonic Flower will release a second full-length before the end of 2019. Any news about the Tokyo, Japan-based psych/stoner project is somewhat surprising when one considers their self-titled debut (reissue review here) came out in 2003 through the long-defunct Leaf Hound Records, and that bassist Tatsu Mikami spends most of his time these days celebrating psychosis in Church of Misery. Unsurprisingly, Tatsu is joined by a different lineup than that which appeared on the original Sonic Flower offering — which Emetic put out in 2011 — and and it looks somewhat like they’ll follow a structure not dissimilar from Church of Misery‘s last couple outings in including originals as well as a heavy ’70s-era cover, in this case, of Savoy Brown.

He’s not the only Church of Misery veteran involved in the band either though, with guitarist Yasuto Muraki and vocalist Kazuhiro Asaeda taking part alongside original Sonic Flower drummer Keisuke Fukawa. I won’t pretend to know what the future might hold for Sonic Flower or what the album might sound like — or be called, for that matter — when it arrives, but when Tatsu Mikami plays bass, the thing to do is pay attention, so here we are and here’s looking forward to more on a record that I don’t imagine I’m the only one who thought would never happen.

Emetic has the news like this:

sonic flower

Towards the end of 2019 we’ll be releasing the long awaited 2nd full-length from Sonic Flower.

Here’s a statement from the band:

Sonic Flower rises again! We’ve been preparing for new album recording. It includes 7 new songs and Savoy Brown cover. All songs written by Tatsu Mikami & all lyrics by Kazuhiro Asaeda.

SONIC FLOWER:
Vo: Kazuhiro Asaeda ( ex.C.o.M “vol.1”, Scarlet Garden)
G: Yasuto Muraki ( Church of Misery)
B: Tatsu Mikami ( Church of Misery, Skull Pit)
Dr: Keisuke Fukawa (Skull Pit, ex.Desperate Corruption)

https://www.facebook.com/Emetic-Records-198699170144825/
https://www.instagram.com/emetic_records/
https://www.emeticrecords.com

Sonic Flower, Sonic Flower (2003)

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Sonic Flower, Sonic Flower: The Only Coming

Posted in Reviews on February 17th, 2012 by JJ Koczan

Side-stepping his role as bassist for Church of Misery, Tatsu Mikami put together Sonic Flower as a heavy blues rock side-project. Their lone EP, Sonic Flower, was released in 2003 on Japan’s Leaf Hound Records, and now that the label has been defunct under what were at the time somewhat mysterious circumstances, Sonic Flower has become a kind of fascinating asterisk in the Church of Misery canon. Enter Michigan imprint Emetic Records, who’s already backed reissues of Church of Misery’s Early Works Compilation (also originally a Leaf Hound release) and previously-unreleased Vol. 1 outing (review here), and Sonic Flower now finds release as a limited-to-500 hand-numbered CD and an already-sold-out limited-to-300 marble vinyl. The artwork matches the original, and there isn’t any bonus material included (I don’t think there was anything to include), so Emetic’s Sonic Flower is basically a chance for anyone who didn’t manage to pick up the original while Leaf Hound was operational to do so now. The six tracks of the EP total 25 minutes and are entirely instrumental, steeped in hard-jammed ‘70s blues, Cactus being a particular reference point for a song like “Astroqueen” or the off-the-rails opener “Cosmic Highway.”

Production-wise, Sonic Flower’s Sonic Flower has plenty in common with what Church of Misery were doing at that time, which is expected. Joining Tatsu in the band were guitarists Takenori Hoshi (ex-Church of Misery) and Arisa, and drummer Keisuke Fukawa (now ex-G.A.T.E.S.), who’d later be replaced by Church of Misery’s Junji “J.J.” Narita. In 2003, Church of Misery released their split with British stoner heavyweights Acrimony, and the following year saw their ultra-blown-out The Second Coming released, so Sonic Flower’s overall sound is right at home between the two. Keisuke’s cymbals are nowhere near as prominent in the mix as were Junji’s on The Second Coming, and the lack of vocals gives the guitars space to breathe and fill the void with harmonic interplay and soloing. The songs are built around and follow the riffs exclusively, with Tatsu adding funky flourishes in fills between cycles of “Black Sunshine” before the song moves into and out of spacey freakouts and revives its bluesy stomp. It’s a solid 25-plus minutes of grooving, and Sonic Flower didn’t seem to have anything more in mind than that; the unabashed stoner rockness of it being half the appeal. Church of Misery’s singularity of focus on serial killers is absent here, but many of the same musical influences persist – Tatsu being principle songwriter, it stands to reason – and even the closing Don Nix cover “Going Down” is inflected with heady distortion and well-fitting rhythmic heft.

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