Keep it Low 2020 Adds Samsara Blues Experiment, Yawning Man, Last Rizla, Chang & Mindcrawler

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 20th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

keep it low 2020 banner

Calling it right now: there’s gonna be a new Samsara Blues Experiment album out by the time they get to Munich for the 2020 edition of Keep it Low Festival. Do I know that? Hell no. Not at all. I have no such knowledge, and even if I did — mind you I don’t, at all, really; that’s not me being coy, I actually don’t fucking know — but they’re not a band who just get out and do fests on a whim. Now, I don’t necessarily know if they’ll be on tour for four weeks and hit all the Euro fests happening at that time, whereas I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see Yawning Man pop up on other lineups in addition to this one — I wouldn’t be surprised if they had a new record out too, while I’m thinking about it — but it was late-2018 when they said they were getting to work on a follow-up to 2017’s One with the Universe (review here), so it doesn’t at all seem unreasonable to think that record will come to fruition by this Fall.

I don’t know that. But I’m calling it now. If it doesn’t happen, I probably won’t remind you that I said it would. Ha.

Greece’s Last Rizla and Germany’s Chang and Mindcrawler have also signed on to play, and you’ll find the full announcement from the fest below. You’ll note there’s no mention of a new Samsara Blues Experiment album. Nothing: that’s exactly what they would say if it was going to happen.

From thee social medias:

Keepers,

We know that October is quite far away, but we just can’t help it! It’s our pleasure to welcome 5 more killer acts to Keep It Low Festival 2020!

Samsara Blues Experiment (GER)
Yawning Man (US)
Last Rizla (GRE)
Chang (GER)
Mindcrawler (GER)

We hope you like this announcement as much as we do!

2-day tickets are selling fast and there aren’t many left, so don’t sleep on that and get yours here:

Tickets available here:

https://www.sol-tickets.com/produkte/51-tickets-keep-it-low-festival-2020-feierwerk-area-muenchen-am-09-10-2020

https://woolheads.com/product/keep-it-low-festivalticket-weekend-2020

https://www.eventim.de/artist/keep-it-low-festival/

https://www.facebook.com/events/975025036197960/
https://www.facebook.com/keepitlowfestival/
https://www.keepitlow.de/
https://www.soundofliberation.com/

Samsara Blues Experiment, One with the Universe (2017)

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Keep it Low 2020 First Announcement: The Vintage Caravan, Domkraft, Willow Child & The Heavy Eyes

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 16th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

keep it low 2020 banner

With early-bird tickets already sold through and regular ol’ two-day tickets on their way out, it’s never too early for the Munich-based Keep it Low Festival to start announcing acts, and the first bunch arrives in a batch of four with The Vintage Caravan, Domkraft, Willow Child and The Heavy Eyes taking part. One assumes that, barring some tradition-defying circumstance, Colour Haze will be confirmed as well sooner or later, but for now it’s these four and that’s a pretty awesome start.

In addition to of course being most righteous fodder for daydreams — Keep it Low has always been a particularly enticing prospect to me, and that’s true of Keep it Low 2020 as well, but I’ve never been able to make the trip — the slow building of festival lineups over the span of months help indicate who’ll be on the road where and when. Seems likely, for example, that The Heavy Eyes will be touring Europe around this appearance, and they might even make other fest appearances at well, whether it’s at the also-Sound of Liberation-presented Up in Smoke in Switzerland, or Desertfest Belgium or anywhere else. These things will all come together over the course of this year as they do, and I always look forward to seeing how it all plays out, who’s doing a one-off and who’s going to be on a weeks-long stretch, etc. I’m a nerd for that kind of stuff, if it wasn’t obvious.

And I think it probably was.

Here’s the announcement, short and sweet, per the social medias:

Keepers,

we wish you all the best for 2020! Today we can finally present you the first bands for Keep It Low Festival 2020:

The Vintage Caravan (Rock, Blues Rock | Iceland)
Domkraft (Psychedelic, Stoner, Doom | Sweden)
The Heavy Eyes (Fuzz Rock, Blues Rock, Stoner Rock | USA)
Willow Child (Retro Rock | Germany)

We’re very happy to welcome these four great acts to our line-up!
The 2-day tickets are already selling very good – so make sure to grab your ticket soon!

Tickets available here:

https://www.sol-tickets.com/produkte/51-tickets-keep-it-low-festival-2020-feierwerk-area-muenchen-am-09-10-2020

https://woolheads.com/product/keep-it-low-festivalticket-weekend-2020

https://www.eventim.de/artist/keep-it-low-festival/

https://www.facebook.com/events/975025036197960/
https://www.facebook.com/keepitlowfestival/
https://www.keepitlow.de/
https://www.soundofliberation.com/

Domkraft, “The Watchers” official video

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Review & Track Premiere: Colour Haze, We Are

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on December 3rd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

colour haze we are

[Click play above to stream the title-track of Colour Haze’s new album, We Are. Digital release is this week through Elektrohasch, followed by CDs next week and LPs in January.]

It is no small thing for a band to change its construction after about 20 years of working with the same lineup, but as they cap their 25th anniversary celebration in 2019 with the release of the new album, We Are (formerly titled Life), that is precisely what Munich’s Colour Haze have done. The godfathers of European heavy psychedelia have operated since 1998 as the core trio of guitarist/vocalist Stefan Koglek, bassist Philipp Rasthofer and drummer Manfred Merwald, but with 2017’s In Her Garden (review here), they began to experiment more with adding flourish of organ and various synth from Jan Faszbender, and since then, Faszbender has become a part of a new four-piece incarnation of Colour Haze.

On the seven-track/45-minute We Are, which is released as ever through Koglek‘s Elektrohasch Schallplatten imprint and opens its first side at a rush with its quick-boogie title-track, they continue to experiment and drive themselves forward in that integration, with Faszbender moving between playing off the energy of Merwald‘s drumming, running along with Koglek‘s guitar in the graceful instrumental sweep in the second half of “Life,” and generally filling out the melodic and rhythmic foundations of the material while offering a few standout moments of his own, such as the organ laying the bed for the soaring vocals — and I mean “soaring”; there are some pointedly operatic guest vocals going on there too — of the album apex “Be with Me.” The change, in other words, suits Colour Haze. Their studio arrangements have been branching out since well before 2012’s She Said (review here) brought in strings and horns and 2014’s To the Highest Gods We Know (review here) answered back and built on those impulses, but from where the branching out is happening has changed, and their sound is that much richer for having Faszbender in the lineup on a hopefully ongoing basis.

Of course, signature elements remain. Rasthofer‘s bass is still of singular tonal warmth and execution, and Merwald‘s drumming makes progressive and jazzy changes no less fluid than the bassist’s runs from one fret to the next. Koglek is still an explorer, and while longtime followers of Colour Haze will recognize snippets like a push-off from the central riff of “Aquamaria” from 2006’s Tempel (discussed here) in “I’m with You” on side B, there’s also the four-and-a-half-minute centerpiece “Material Drive” to contend with, led as it is by acoustic guitar with Koglek in the RichieHavens-at-Woodstock role as the rest of the band gradually joins in behind, Faszbender in particular making the song that much more of a high point of We Are with a two-handed approach of organ and synth running concurrently while the bass fills out the mix. And I don’t know if that’s flute — which has been used on Colour Haze records before — or flute Mellotron, but anytime they want to do a record of semi-acoustic acid folk protest songs, I’m ready for it.

colour haze (Photo by JJ Koczan)

That’s not to take away from the running jam of closer “Freude III” or the earlier one-into-the-next-like-the-phrase-it-spells-out “We Are,” “The Real” and “Life” on side A or even the two-part side B complement in “I’m With You” / “Be With Me,” I’m just saying the arrangement of “Material Drive” works well. Really the same applies across the board on We Are, and the band are careful to acknowledge the role of the mix in their presentation of the material, balancing guitar and keys well even just as “The Real” takes off after the initial hooky shuffle of “We Are” itself starts the record at a rush, setting the tone in a way for what’s to come on an almost subconscious level for the listener. In some ways it’s less pointedly prog than was the prevailing spirit of In Her Garden, which ran 72 minutes and was a 2LP of marked immersiveness, but as the band’s 13th long-player, We Are confirms that even in their relatively new four-piece incarnation, Colour Haze‘s focus remains on an organic feel and delivering the most natural sound possible.

Some spoken lines from Koglek and his voice following note for note with his subsequent guitar lead are the only vocals on “The Real,” but as both that and the peaceful-build-int0-fervent-thrust of “Life” top eight and a half minutes, it’s early on that the band captures the listener’s attention and sets to unfolding the course of We Are as a whole, which of course side B expands beginning with “Material Drive” and moving through the layered vocals of “I’m With You” and more flute sounds on “Be With Me,” a whirlwind of guitar turns opening wide to the payoff of the album in the spirit of songs like She Said‘s “Transformation” circa four minutes in, just before the vocals begin their aforementioned flight. That would seem to leave “Freude III” (‘freude’ being ‘joy’ in English) as an afterthought, but it turns out instead to seem to be answering some of the progressions of In Her Garden while still holding to We Are‘s particular balance, an enticing cascade of nuance and natural impulses that plays out across the seven-minute instrumental finale in two distinct movements, the last of which ends — suitably enough — on a long fadeout of synth as if to underscore how far Colour Haze‘s journey has taken them not only since the riffier beginning of the record on “We Are,” but in general across their span of years and span of albums.

They are inherently in conversation with their past on We Are — the name of the record can certainly be taken as a declaration of self, despite how the songs portray it — as even those emergent titular phrases was an element put to use on 2008’s All (discussed here), and perhaps reflecting on a quarter-century of the band’s existence is a part of that either consciously or not, but they show as clearly as ever in this material that looking back by no means has to stop you from moving forward. I will gladly admit to being a fan of the band, so if you need to take this review with that in consideration, that’s fine. From where I sit, every time Colour Haze puts out a record — and again, this is their lucky 13th — it is nothing less than a gift, and We Are sneaks in under the wire as one of the best gifts 2019 has had to offer. For old fans, it offers something new in the shift of lineup and fleshing out of arrangements, and for newcomers, its refreshed sound should prove all the more welcoming. Quite simply, Colour Haze make the world a better place.

Colour Haze website

Colour Haze on Thee Facebooks

Elektrohasch Schallplatten website

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Sound of Liberation Announces 15th Anniversary Shows with Fu Manchu, Sasquatch & The Atomic Bitchwax

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 22nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

sound of liberation 15 years party banner

Happy impending birthday to Sound of Liberation, and I say that with all sincerity. The European booking concern has helped to reshape Europe’s heavy underground particularly over the course of this decade with its involvement in fests like Up in SmokeKeep it Low, and of course the Desertfest series in London, Berlin, Belgium and now New York, while also having a hand in putting together killer package tours on a one-after-the-next ongoing basis that’s as exhausting-looking as it is enviable, watching from a continent away as I am. They’ll celebrate 15 years in late-June 2020 with two shows featuring Fu Manchu (who themselves are celebrating 30 years), SasquatchThe Atomic Bitchwax and more to be announced.

Frankly, with those three, I’m not sure they need anyone else, but the roster of Sound of Liberation continues to expand, moving into the Greek scene recently with Naxatras and Villagers of Ionnina City as choice pickups, so I’m also curious to see who gets invited to the party. The shows are in Wiesbaden and Munich and early-bird tickets are on sale now.

Info follows as posted on thee social medias:

sound of liberation 15 years party

We are super excited to announce the first acts for our 15 years Sound of Liberation birthday events!!

Sound of Liberation is honoured and proud to welcome one of the best live acts on this planet.

Ladies and gentlemen, fasten your seat belts because the mighty heavy rock riff legends, the Kings of the Road, Fu Manchu will push the gas pedal to the maximum! We’re super hyped that our birthday coincides with Fu Manchu’s, who will celebrate their 30 years of existence with a special anniversary tour!

Speaking of killer live acts…we have two more for you.

We are stoked to welcome back in Europe, after 2 long years, New Jersey´s riffdealers The Atomic Bitchwax, as well as L.A.´s powerhouse Sasquatch.

You all surely know their great and highly energetic live performances and we can´t wait to welcome them to our two huge birthday parties!

Dear fans and friends,
we are preparing for two special anniversary shows, in two excellent venues. Expect an outstanding line up with 8 to 10 bands, no overlappings in the timetable, indoor stage and outside area, beergarden and some more specials we are working on! ?

See you in Wiesbaden and Munich, June 26/27 in 2020! Join the fun:
15 years Sound of Liberation / Wiesbaden
15 years Sound of Liberation / München

King of the Road says you move too slow!
Get your tickets fast! Limited amount of early birds available here:
https://www.sol-tickets.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Soundofliberation/
https://www.instagram.com/soundofliberation/
https://www.soundofliberation.com/

Fu Manchu, “King of the Road” official video

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Villagers of Ionnina City Join Sound of Liberation Booking Roster; New Album out Now

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 8th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Progressive, heavy and psychedelic in a fluid balance that also incorporates elements out of Greek folk, the new album from four-piece Villagers of Ionnina City, dubbed and themed around a mythical Age of Aquarius, is really good. Like, really, really good. Greek bands have been killing it in general the last few years — 1000mods of course, but also acts like Planet of ZeusNaxatras certainly, Puta Volcano, BusSadhus and many others others are stepping from behind the veil of their influences to make statements of their own, and that’s exactly what Villagers of Ionnina City seem to be doing on their second long-player. The album came out in a rush in late September, but I admit I’m still getting to know it as I’ve only had it for a couple days, but it’s got an apparent depth of approach and a conceptual and linear form of songwriting that’s engrossing in a way that bodes well for how it will unfold over longer-term listening.

I’ll be digging in, I guess is what I’m saying.

They’ve just hooked up with Sound of Liberation — one might recall they played Up in Smoke in 2018, which is an affiliated fest — so expect copious European tour dates to come soon. They would seem to be one of many bands from their home country ready to break out. I say go. Go go go. The more the merrier. Greece has a scene at this point that stands up to Germany, Sweden, or even the UK, and it’s as diverse as it is populated. The more people who find out about it the better.

From Sound of Liberation on thee social medias:

villagers of ionnina city sound of liberation

VILLAGERS OF IOANNINA CITY JOIN THE SOUND OF LIBERATION FAMILY

Meet Villagers of Ioannina City ! One of the leading Greek heavy rock bands, with a strong footing in the wealthy folk musical tradition of Epirus, furnished with consistent alt-metal and post rock sonic landscapes.

The inspired mixture of classic rock grooves dwelling between Black Sabbath, Tool and Pearl Jam with the traditional instruments and scales from the Greek rich musical past, created a blend meant to strike an impression both locally and internationally.

Their new album, “Age Of Aquarius”, is exactly what the title implies. A whole new era of creation and experimentation, keeping on board the traditional scent that lies in their roots and at the same time, a modern soundwave of heaviness and atmosphere.

In the meantime feel free to join them on instagram: https://www.instagram.com/villagersofioanninacity

Listen to “Age of Aquarius” on Spotify and all digital platforms here: https://orcd.co/vic_ageofaquarius

https://www.facebook.com/villagersofioanninacity/
https://www.instagram.com/villagersofioanninacity
https://vicband.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/mantrarec/
https://www.instagram.com/mantrarecords.gr/
https://www.mantrarecords.gr/
https://www.facebook.com/Soundofliberation/
https://www.instagram.com/soundofliberation/
https://www.soundofliberation.com/

Villagers of Ionnina City, Age of Aquarius (2019)

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Colour Haze Announce We Are Album Release Tour for Spring 2020

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 7th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

We’re drawing inevitably closer to the release of Colour Haze‘s forthcoming album, which has been retitled as We Are (originally Life) (discussed here), and as a blanket nerd for the band, obviously I find this prospect exciting. Sound of Liberation, which has long handled the band’s booking, has announced a round of tour dates for Spring that will probably coincide at least loosely with the arrival of the vinyl edition of the record, since as discussed in the interview linked above, there’s always some kind of delay between pressing LPs and CDs.

But let’s be honest, whenever Colour Haze want to go on tour and for whatever occasion, whether it’s a new record or their 25th anniversary, as it was this year, it’s not like anyone’s going to argue against it. Quite the contrary. If you’ve seen Colour Haze, you don’t need me to tell you to go see them again, and if you’ve never seen Colour Haze, well, go see them and you won’t need me to tell you anymore. Also, if you’ve never seen them as a four-piece with Jan Faszbender on keys, you have all the more reason to be there, whether you have before or not, because it’s a noteworthy shift in dynamic and atmosphere in the band.

Ah screw it, just go.

Here’s where to be, as per Sound of Liberation on thee social medias:

colour haze life tour

Colour Haze – 2020 ‘We Are’ Album Release Tour

We are more than happy to unveil that the legendary Colour Haze are going to promote their upcoming album (keep your eyes peeled for news!) in spring 2020 – with shows in Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Hungary & Austria!

SOUND OF LIBERATION & Elektrohasch proudly present the following tour dates:

Colour Haze – ALBUM RELEASE TOUR 2020
24.03.20 (DE) Dresden, Beatpol
25.03.20 (AT) Salzburg, Rockhouse
26.03.20 (HU) Budapest, A38
27.03.20 TBA
28.03.20 (AT) Wien, Arena
29.03.20 (DE) Passau, Zauberberg
30.03.20 (DE) Wiesbaden, Schlachthof
31.03.20 (BE) Gent, Voruuit
01.04.20 (NL) Nijmegen, Doornroosje
02.04.20 (DE) Hamburg, Markthalle
03.04.20 (DE) Dortmund, Piano
04.04.20 (DE) Ludwigsburg, Scala

Listen to Colour Haze here:
https://tinyurl.com/ColourHazeSpotify

Follow Colour Haze on instagram:
https://www.instagram.com/colourhazeband/

http://colourhaze.de/
www.elektrohasch.de

Colour Haze, “Tempel” live at Høstsabbat 2019

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Streaming Interview: Talking Life and More with Colour Haze

Posted in audiObelisk, Features on October 21st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Colour Haze (Photo by JJ Koczan)

A couple weeks back, I sat outside in the chilly Oslo air on the second night of Høstsabbat 2019 and had the chance to interview guitarist/vocalist Stefan Koglek of Colour Haze. At the time, his band was loading in their gear ahead of their headlining set (review here), and there are a couple moments in the interview where you can hear him directing traffic in that regard. They had played Up in Smoke in Switzerland the night before and would still look forward to their annual slot at Keep it Low in their hometown of Munich, Germany later in the month, as they simultaneously continued the mixing process for their new album, Life, which is expected out before the end of the year on Koglek‘s own Elektrohasch Schallplatten imprint.

Long a trio, Colour Haze is now the four-piece of Koglek, bassist Philipp Rasthofer, drummer Manfred Merwald and key-specialist/synthesist Jan Faszbender, whose arrival as a fully-fledged member of the band follows years of collaboration on arrangements and album guest appearances. I was also lucky enough to see Colour Haze play in this configuration last Spring in London (review here), and for what Faszbender brings to the dynamic of the group as a whole and for the depth of melody added by the organ and synth, the effect is only to make a special sound that much richer.

Life arrives two-plus years after 2017’s In Her Garden (review here), to which Faszbender also contributed, and having been lucky enough to hear a few of the in-progress mixes for songs like the speedy/funky “We Are” and the 10-minute jammer “The Real,” I feel confident saying the new material pushes deeper into the chemistry between guitar, bass, drums and keys, and maintains Colour Haze‘s signature warmth and exploratory feel. Of course I’ll hope to have more to come on the record than that as we get closer to the release, but if you’re a Colour Haze fan — as I most certainly am — it seems unlikely you’ll emerge disappointed, at least based on what I’ve heard thus far.

And at the same time, Colour Haze has just issued the live album, Live Vol. 2 – Duna Jam 2007, capturing the first set from the famed Sardinian “unofficial festival”/gathering that the band played, during the era between 2006’s Tempel (discussed here) and 2008’s All (discussed here). I haven’t heard it yet, but Koglek talks a bit about the performances in the interview below as well as where they’re at with the new record (or were two weeks ago, anyhow), and the idea that they’re using the live album as a form to tell part of the story of the band — especially in light of their 25th anniversary, which they’ve been celebrating all year — seems all the more special as a notion to manifest.

I could go on with all kinds of fanboy hyperbole about how righteous Colour Haze are live and on record, or about the decades of formative influence they’ve had on heavy psychedelia in Europe and beyond, but frankly you probably already know it. And if not, you probably don’t need me to encourage you to get caught up (though I will, happily). The audio of the chat is raw, but there’s some cool stuff in there — my favorite part is when Koglek refers to 2012’s She Said (review here) as being “too perfect” — and some insight into the making of Life that clues you into how the band functions and thinks about what they do. I was happy Koglek was able to take the time, and thanks to you for checking it out if you do.

Please enjoy:

Interview with Stefan Koglek of Colour Haze

Pt. 1

Pt. 2

Pt. 3

Colour Haze live:
OCT 25 Grund 74 Bischofsgrün, Germany
OCT 26 Festsaal Kreuzberg Berlin, Germany

Colour Haze website

Colour Haze on Thee Facebooks

Elektrohasch Schallplatten website

Colour Haze at Sound of Liberation

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Colour Haze Announce New Album Life out This Fall; Update on Live Vol. 2 & Tour Dates

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

colour haze 2 (Photo by JJ Koczan)

It was just yesterday day I was sitting around talking about Colour Haze being added to Up in Smoke saying I hoped they had a follow-up to 2017’s In Her Garden (review here) out soon, and here we are. The record that they began putting to tape in April is called Life and will be out this Fall, of course through guitarist/vocalist Stefan Koglek‘s Elektrohasch Schallplatten imprint. It’s due out this Fall, which I’ll assume means either October or November sometime, and that’s fine by me. I especially like the part in the update below where Koglek refers to the process as being “especially delightful.” I want to hear what that sounds like.

They’ve also given some more details on the Live Vol. 2 release they announced this Spring and that will capture their performance from Duna Jam in 2007. That seems like it’ll be especially delightful as well.

Can’t wait to see them again in Norway. Their other confirmed dates are below, along with the promise of more to come and some of their set from Duna Jam this year. Dig it:

Colour-Haze-Duna-Live-2007

Elektrohasch 012 – Colour Haze – Life

The work on our new album is going ahead well and is especially delightful for us this time. We think this will become an exceptional record. More about that later. CD and download will be released in autumn. I can‘t say yet if vinyl can be pressed fast enough to be released until the end of the year. In march we will be on tour with the new album… and until then we play live:

28.09. Villingen-Schwenningen, Kulturzentrum Klosterhof
03.10. CH – Pratteln, Up In Smoke
05.10. NO – Oslo, Hostsabbat
09.10. Bonn, Harmonie, WDR Rockpalast
12.10. München, Feierwerk, Keep It Low
26.10. Berlin, Festsaal Kreuzberg, Rotor XXI

Elektrohasch 061 – Colour Haze -Live Vol. 2 – Duna Jam 2007

Recordings from our first Duna Jam in 2007 – parts of the legendary Tempel-concert and a wonderful session on the beach….

Now ready for preorder, will be delivered by mid of September. DLP in black 180gr. vinyl or handnumbered limited on 500 copies on yellow (beach-side) and blue (tempel-side) vinyl.

Double-CD and downloads coming soon….

http://colourhaze.de/
www.elektrohasch.de

Colour Haze, Live at Duna Jam 2019

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