Quarterly Review: Papir, Kosmodemonic, Steve Von Till, Sex Blender, Déhà, Thunder Horse, Rebreather, Melmak, Astral Magic, Crypt Monarch

Posted in Reviews on July 6th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

the-obelisk-fall-2016-quarterly-review

Day two already, huh? It’s a holiday week here in the States, which means people are on vacation or have at least enjoyed a long weekend hopefully without blowing any body parts off with fireworks or whatnot. For me, I prefer the day on rather than the day off, so we proceeded as normal yesterday in beginning the Quarterly Review. “We now return to our regularly scheduled,” and so on.

There’s a lot of good stuff here, as one would hope, and since we’re still basically at the start of this doublewide edition of the Quarterly Review — 10 down, 90 to go — I won’t delay further. Thanks for reading.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Papir, Jams

papir jams

Two sessions, three days apart, three pieces from each, resulting in six tracks running just about 80 minutes that Papir are only within their rights to have titled simply as Jams. With this outing, the Copenhagen-based psychedelic trio present their process at its most nakedly exploratory. I don’t know if they had any parts pre-planned when they went into the studio, but the record brims with spontaneity, drums jazzing out behind shimmering guitar and steadily grooving basslines. Effects are prevalent and add to the spaciousness, and the sessions from whence these songs came, whether it’s the key-led four-minute “20.01.2020 #2” or the 20-minute opener “17.01.2020 #1” — all tracks sharing the same date-and-number format as regards titles — feel vibrant and fluid in a way that goes beyond even the hazy hypnotics of “20.01.2020 #3.” Papir‘s instrumental dynamic is of course a huge part of what they do anyway, but to hear their chemistry come through in freer fashion as it does here can only be refreshing. I hope they do more like this.

Papir on Facebook

Stickman Records website

 

Kosmodemonic, Liminal Light

Kosmodemonic Liminal Light

Brooklyn outfit Kosmodemonic exist almost exclusively within genre border regions. Their second album, Liminal Light, fosters an approach that’s too considered not to be called progressive, but that owes as much to the cosmic doom of YOB as to black metal as to noise rock as to Voivod as to any number of other various ores in the metallic sphere. In their sprinting moments or in the consuming dark grandeur of centerpiece “Ipomoea,” they are pointedly individual, and cuts like “Drown in Drone” and the later slammer “Brown Crown” owe much to sheer impact as to the cerebral underpinnings of their angularity. Liminal Light is vicious but methodical, and feels executed with a firm desire to catch the audience sleeping and then blindside them with a change, be it in moving from one song to another or within one song itself, like when the penultimate “Chains of Goddess Grove” rears back from its lurching movement and spews thrashier fire in its final minute. Put these moments together and you get a record that challenges on multiple levels and is unflinchingly worth the effort of close engagement.

Kosmodemonic on Facebook

Transylvanian Tapes on Bandcamp

 

Steve Von Till, A Deep Voiceless Wilderness

Steve Von Till A Deep Voiceless Wilderness

The sixth solo offering from Neurosis guitarist/vocalist Steve Von Till is a first for being completely instrumental. The narrative — blessings and peace upon it — goes that Von Till wrote the music for 2020’s No Wilderness Deep Enough (review here) late during jetlagged nights alone on his wife’s family’s property in Germany, where her family has lived for 500 years, only to later be convinced by producer Randall Dunn to write lyrics and record vocals for the songs. A Deep Voiceless Wilderness, as the title hints, pulls those vocals back out of these re-named pieces, allowing elements like the quiet textures of keyboard and piano, horns and mellotrons to shine through in atmospheric fashion, layers of drone intertwining in mostly peaceful fashion. It is the least guitar-based record Von Till has ever done, and allows for a new kind of minimalism to surface along with an immersive melodic hum. Subdued, meditative, exploratory, kind of wonderful.

Steve Von Till website

Neurot Recordings store

 

Sex Blender, Studio Session I

Sex Blender Studio Session I

Based in Lviv, Ukraine, instrumentalist krautrock bizarros Sex Blender have two full-lengths behind them, and Studio Session I takes the consumingly fuzzed “Diver” from 2018’s Hormonizer and three cuts from 2020’s The Second Coming and turns them into a stirring 44-minute set captured on video for a livestream. Reportedly some of the arrangements are different, as will certainly happen, but as someone being introduced to the band through this material, it’s easy to be struck by the palpable sense of glee with which Sex Blender present their songs. “Crimson Master” is the shortest of the bunch at just over six minutes — it’s the only one under 11 — but even there, the manipulated keyboard sounds, drum fluidity and undercurrent of rumbling distortion push Sex Blender into a place that’s neither doom nor prog but draws from both, crawling where the subsequent “Rave Spritz” can’t help but bounce with its motorik drums and intertwined synth lines. May just be a live session, but they shine all the same.

Sex Blender on Facebook

Drone Rock Records website

 

Déhà, Cruel Words

Déhà Cruel Words

Déhà‘s third long-player Cruel Words was originally issued in 2019 and is seeing a first vinyl pressing on Burning World Records. The Brussels solo outfit has released no fewer than 17 other full-length outings — possibly more, depending on what counts as what — in the two years since these songs initially surfaced, but, well, one has to start someplace. The 2LP runs 75 minutes and includes bonus tracks — an acoustic version of opener “I Am Mine to Break,” a cover of The Gathering‘s “Saturnine” and the piano-into-post-metal “Comfort Me II” — but the highlights are on the album itself, such as the make-Amenra-blush 12-minute crux of “Dead Butterflies,” wherein a lung-crushing weight is given patient drama through its prominent keyboard layers, or the goth early going of “Pain is a Wasteland,” which seems to brood until it finally can’t take it anymore and bashes its head (and yours) into the wall. Surprisingly methodical for the manic pace at which Déhà (né Olmo Lipani) works, it makes artistry of its arrangement as well as performance and is willfully overwhelming, but engaging in that.

Déhà on Facebook

Burning World Records website

 

Thunder Horse, Chosen One

Thunder Horse Chosen One

Big riffs, big grooves, big hooks, Thunder Horse‘s second long-player, Chosen One, sees the San Antonio, Texas, outfit inherit some aspects from the members’ past outfits, whether it’s the semi-industrial vocal style of Stephen Bishop on “Among the Dead” or the classically shredding solo work of Todd Connally. With Dave Crow on bass and Jason “Shakes” West on drums, Thunder Horse elbow their way into a nod quickly on Chosen One and hold their ground decisively, with Dehumanizer-esque tones and flourish of keys throughout that closes in lead position on the outro “Remembrance” in complement to the strumming, whistling “Texas” a short while earlier. Even when they shuffle, as on the second half of “Song for the Ferryman,” Thunder Horse do it heavy, and as they did with their 2018 self-titled debut (review here), they make it hard to argue, either with the atmosphere or the sheer lumber of their output. An easy record to dig for the converted.

Thunder Horse on Facebook

Ripple Music website

 

Rebreather, Pets / Orange Crush

Rebreather Pets Orange Crush

Heads up children of — or children of children of — the 1990s, as Youngstown, Ohio’s Rebreather effectively reinterpret and heavy up two of that decade’s catchiest hooks in Porno for Pyros‘ “Pets” and R.E.M.‘s “Orange Crush.” Taking songs that, if they ever left your head from rock radio, will certainly be right back in there now, and trying to put their own spin on them is ambitious, but Rebreather have no trouble slowing down the already kinda languid “Pets” or emphasizing the repetitive urgency of “Orange Crush,” and the tonal weight they bring to both honors the original versions as well as who Rebreather are as a band, while showcasing the band’s heretofore undervalued melodies, with call and response vocal lines in both cuts nodding to their sludge/noise rock roots while moving forward from there. They chose the songs well, if nothing else, and though it’s only about 10 minutes between the two cuts, as the first new Rebeather material since their 2018 self-titled EP (discussed here), I’ll take the two covers happily.

Rebreather on Facebook

Aqualamb Records website

 

Melmak, Down the Underground

Melmak Down the Underground

Spanish duo Melmak — guitarist/vocalist Jonan Etxebarria and drummer/vocalist Igor Etxebarria — offer an awaited follow-up to their 2016 long-player Prehistorical (review here) and demonstrate immediately that five years has not dulled their aggressive tendencies. Opener “Black Room” is a minute-long grindfest, and though “Scum” finds its way into a sludgy groove, it’s not far behind. “Poser” starts out as a piano ballad but turns to its own crushing roll, while “The Scene” rumbles out its lurch, “You Really Don’t Care” samples a crying baby over a sad piano line and “Ass Kisser” offers knee-to-the-face bruiser riffing topped with echoing gutturalism that carries the intensity into the seven-minute, more spacious “Jaundiced,” which gives itself over to extremity in its second half as well, and the closing noise wash of “The Crew.” What we learn from all this is it would seem Melmak find the heavy underground wanting in violent terms. They answer that call in bludgeoning fashion.

Melmak on Facebook

Melmak on Bandcamp

 

Astral Magic, Visions of Infinity

Astral Magic Visions of Infinity

Ostensibly a solo-project from Dark Sun bassist Santtu Laakso, Astral Magic‘s debut LP, Visions of Infinity, features contributions from guitarist Martin Weaver (Wicked Lady, Doctors of Space) and Scott “Dr. Space” Heller (Doctors of Space, Øresund Space Collective), as well as Samuli Sailo on ukulele, and has been mixed and mastered and released by Heller, so perhaps the plot thickens as regards just how much of band it is. Nonetheless, Astral Magic have all the cosmos to work with, so there’s plenty of room for everybody, as Visions of Infinity harnesses classic Hawkwindian space rock and is unafraid to add droning mysticism to the ever-outward procession on “Ancient Mysteries” or “Onboard the Spaceship,” to grow playful on “I Was Abducted” or bask in cosmic serenity on “Winds of Time” and “Wizards.” Off we go, into the greater reaches of “out there.” It’s a fun ride.

Astral Magic on Facebook

Space Rock Productions website

 

Crypt Monarch, The Necronaut

Crypt Monarch The Necronaut

Costa Rican trio Crypt Monarch offer their debut full-length in the form of the three-song/36-minute The Necronaut, the sound of which makes the claim on the part of the band — bassist/vocalist Christopher De Haan, guitarist Jose Rodriguez, drummer/vocalist J.C. Zuñiga — that it was made live in a cabin in the woods easy enough to believe. Though mixed and mastered, the 15-minute opener “Morning Star Through Skull” (15:41) and ensuing rollers “Rex Meridionalis” (10:12) and “Aglaphotis” (10:08) maintain a vigilant rawness, laced with noise even as De Haan and Zuñiga come together vocally on the latter, clean singing and gurgles alike. It is stoner metal taken to a logical and not entirely unfamiliar extreme, but the murk in which Crypt Monarch revel is dense and easy to get lost within. This, more than any single riff or lumbering groove, speaks to the success of the band’s intention in crafting the record. There is no clearly marked exit.

Crypt Monarch on Facebook

Electric Valley Records website

 

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Album Review: Øresund Space Collective, Universal Travels

Posted in Reviews on March 9th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

oresund space collective universal travels

A look at jams past and jams still to come, Øresund Space Collective‘s Universal Travels is a collection that builds a bridge between some of the space-improv outfit’s earliest days — a studio session in 2007 — and a vinyl edition to be released of 2011’s Sleeping with the Sunworm. It is curated by none other than Øresund Space Collective synthesist and band leader Scott “Dr. Space” Heller himself, and I don’t think the wordplay on “universal” in the title is an accident. As much as they may be journeying across an untamable cosmos of their own sonic creation, so too are these tracks universally journeying. If anything, Universal Travels demonstrates that what one might call the “Locus Coeruleus” — the heart of the brain, as it were — of Øresund Space Collective has always been the outward intention of its craft. Comprised of six tracks totaling a pack-as-much-onto-the-disc-as-possible 79 minutes, the offering is made exclusively via four-panel digipak CD in order to help fund the construction of a studio in which Heller presumably will continue his and the Collective‘s mission of exploratory and improvisational vibing.

These are peculiar times for the interplay of art and commerce in underground rock and roll and its myriad microgenres. Like so much of everything, bands, labels, promotional concerns have been largely devastated by global pandemic financially — not to mention any loss of life — and have had to pivot in order to find ways to continue. That’s not quite what’s happening here. Øresund Space Collective have already wholeheartedly embraced the audience-engagement possibilities of digital media, offering Bandcamp subscription exclusives and self-bootlegs through the Internet Archive for any listeners who’d chase them down, as well as a steady stream of studio jams carved out of various sessions. As the liner notes (by Heller) describe, “Everytime (sic) we have entered into the studio we have recorded between 3-10 hours of material. Over a period of months some members decide what is the best material and we choose to mix this and create albums.” Thus, what one generally hears on an Øresund Space Collective studio album isn’t so much tracked as carved out. A glimpse at the whole. There have been several hour-plus jams unveiled in their entirety along the way — the aforementioned Sleeping with the Sunworm is one, divided originally into three 20-minute parts flowing together — but Universal Travels takes that sense of curation one step further, covering different sessions with various players involved.

The running order as is would not work on any other format — that is to say, if Heller wanted to do a vinyl at some point of Universal Travels, it would require editing and/or reorganization — but it effectively gives an as-it-happened feel to the proceedings, which is common among Øresund Space Collective releases. I know I’ve remarked on occasion after occasion about the band’s direct line to the creative process; their intention to capture a fleeting improvisational moment and find the treasure therein. It’s an ethic that’s grown no less admirable with time, and on the most basic level of listening, whether a session happened yesterday or 14 years ago matters little if at all. “Locus Coeruleus” and “Jam 26” open to immediate fluidity and breadth of vibe. The latter is more serene than the former, though perhaps outdone in that by the lap steel and sitar pastoralism of “Jam 12,” which begins the procession of tracks recorded in 2010. “Jam 12” itself was issued on the vinyl of Give Your Brain a Rest From the Matrix in 2012, and the subsequent “Anthem Rock,” “Santana Jam” and “Awaken” are from the say day of the same session. The same moment being captured, if you will.

oresund space collective universal travels inside

Synth and keys and guitar and sitar and effects gently intertwine on the 10-minute “Jam 12,” and as one might expect from the title — Øresund Space Collective have never lacked self-awareness, like many instrumental bands, when it comes to using titles to provide context or indicate the kind of atmosphere they’re going for in naming their tracks — the subsequent 20-minute splurge of “Anthem Rock” is somewhat more active. It has drums, for one. It also builds to a satisfying peak topped with a guitar solo worthy of both words in the title, as the group assembled careens wildly only to bring itself down at the finish with grace and a last swirl of keys and synth. “Santana Jam” likewise establishes its mood, the keys and guitar locking through a progression that, if it’s not actually Santana — and it might be — is close enough to it. At just over seven minutes, it’s the shortest inclusion on Universal Travels, and has a playful and meandering feel even as the drums enter for solidification. They end up elsewhere atop the original progression, and the jam seems like the kind of toss-off stretch that might happen while players are standing around waiting for something else. You don’t hear that kind of thing on records all the time, but it makes sense with Øresund Space Collective.

“Awaken” is the final piece and, like “Anthem Rock” before it, accounts for 20 minutes of runtime. It begins motorik in the bass and drums and boasts a winding guitar line in the forward position backed by periods of intermittent synth in and out. A mellower trip and wash take hold as it moves through the midsection, and a satisfying stretch of dream-drone melody and gradual deconstruction take hold in the second half. What’s happening there? I’m not entirely sure, but it’s easy to get lost in, and that would seem to be the idea. Certainly Øresund Space Collective are no strangers to such fare, but it’s worth noting that for being an 11-year-old recording, “Awaken” still feels fresh and retains the vibrancy of its creation. That is true of much if not all of Øresund Space Collective‘s work — they are a band out of time as much as out of space — but it is the fundraising/studio-building aspect that is at root behind this collection, and that’s worth acknowledging both as a reality of its making and a symbol of the group’s ongoing commitment to further adventures in sound. There are no shortage of places one might place one’s cash in a spirit of donation these days, but proportionally few that offer such potential in reward for doing so.

Øresund Space Collective on The Facebooks

Øresund Space Collective on Bandcamp

Øresund Space Collective website

Space Rock Productions website

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Review & Full Album Stream: Øresund Space Collective, Four Riders Take Space Mountain (Plus Video Premiere)

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on November 6th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Øresund Space Collective Four Riders Take Space Mountain

[Click play above to see the premiere of Øresund Space Collective’s live-recorded video for ‘Descent to Reality’ from the album Four Riders Take Space Mountain, as well as stream the album in its entirety. It’s out Nov. 24 on Space Rock Productions.]

Very often a band like Øresund Space Collective can be intimidating to new listeners, and fairly enough so. Ostensibly Danish, or at least named for a city in Denmark, they can pull members from Sweden, the US, Norway, Portugal and just about anywhere else — I don’t think they’d turn anyone away if the vibe was right — and between shifting personnel, their ever-growing discography, the fact that they’ve been at it for 14 years and that pesky slashed-‘o’ at the start of their moniker, it can be hard for the not-already-ingrained to know where to start. I’ll make it easy. Start with Four Riders Take Space Mountain. Start right here.

Why? First of all, it’s as good a place as anywhere. The group — headed by bandleader, synthesist, studio-mixer and guy-most-likely-to-get-on-mic-and-thank-the-crowd-for-showing-up Scott “Dr. Space” Heller — play improvised, instrumental and unflinchingly exploratory cosmic rock. Veering between the already-blurry lines that border heavy psychedelia, classic-style prog and Hawkwindian space fare, Øresund Space Collective might have up to 30 records in their catalog, and my understanding is there’s even more than that when one subscribes to them on Bandcamp, but none of it is inaccessible once the listener has made the choice to dive in. It’s really just getting over that standing-on-the-edge-of-the-board feeling before hitting play.

And while in some ways  it’s as good for an introductory purpose as any of Øresund Space Collective‘s other studio work — that is, these jams have their own personality to be sure, but it’s not like after however many full-lengths they’re suddenly going to put something out where the chemistry falls apart, though it would be fascinating if they did — Four Riders Take Space Mountain seems to provide an especially warm welcome. The album is a 2LP and the first three sides are comprised of “Approach” (20:55) “Ascent” (20:00) and “Summit” (21:20), so there’s a clear narrative arc to follow that ties in with the title and the sense of journeying (or taking a trip) that is so emblematic of the band’s work on the whole.

That might make Four Riders Take Space Mountain particularly engaging for newcomers, and where some other releases in the vast swath thereof pull from different sessions and offer what feel like extended sections of broader works or are just executed with various aims on their own, the fact that “Approach,” “Ascent” and “Summit” move so smoothly — the transitions are seamless on the CD/DL editions of the album, making the three sides one massive 62-minute jam — and flow so righteously between active and atmospheric sections, with drummer Alex Skepp (Gösta Berlings Saga) and bassist Hasse Horrigmoe (Tangle Edge) holding together stretches of lead guitar, keys, synth, as well as the sheer sense of float that comes with the arrival at “Summit,” means that Four Riders Take Space Mountain is a standout even among the band’s other work in being a joy to follow through its progression.

oresund space collective

Psychedelic effects on the violin of Jonathan Segel (Camper van Beethoven), the keys of K.G. Westman (formerly of Siena Root), as well as the range of his guitars and those of Mathias Danielsson (My Brother the Wind, ex-Gösta Berlings Saga), Mats Orbation and Jonas Berge (also organ and synth), as well as the steady presence of synth from Heller himself, give Four Riders Take Space Mountain its engaging sense of sprawl, and as elements come and go and are woven into the fabric of the proceedings, that feeling of motion gradually becomes more prevalent, from the first outward steps and restless shuffle of drums on “Approach” to the wash that ensues atop it, ultimately finding its chill somewhere around 16-17 minutes in and thereby establishing the dynamic that continues in “Ascent” and “Summit” between ambience and underlying movement.

This isn’t new territory for Øresund Space Collective — figuratively or literally; the sessions for these first three of the total four tracks took place in 2014 — but it is in the clarity of how they’re presented that they’re ultimately distinguished. “Summit” is announced with gracefully winding keyboard and unfurls with strikingly proggy guitar and synth and violin, the band united for an exciting moment around a near-cinematic chug in the middle that evolves into the final section. And even when the guitar lets go and all that’s left is some residual synth drone to fade out, there’s a feeling that at any moment they might pick up again and continue the voyage.

All the more appropriate then to have “Descent to Reality” added to side D. What on the vinyl is unedited appears on the CD/DL as a 17:35 jam with Westman notably moving from keyboard to sitar. The vibe is different, the personnel is different, Tim Wallander on drums, Heller on synth, Segel on violin, and Horrigmoe on bass — no guitar — and the departure is palpable as Westman and Segel play out sitar and violin melodies in a psychedelic raga made tense by the rhythm beneath and psychedelic by the synth above. Like the three tracks before, there are ebbs and flows, and an especially satisfying section of violin leading to sitar in the middle makes it a highlight, and they end in suitably meandering fashion on a wave of synth before a final tom run and strum of sitar.

To say this is Øresund Space Collective in their element is underselling it, but what Four Riders Take Space Mountain does is to take the dug-in nature of their work and offer it in a manner that asks little indulgence on the part of the listener. Some, to be sure — this is nearly 80 minutes of improv psych jams we’re talking about — but the feeling of the album being purposefully constructed and built toward conveying this story is palpable and it gives someone who might be less familiar with Øresund Space Collective a way to orient themselves in the experience, rather than just flying blind in a sea of interstellar creativity. That has its appeal, don’t get me wrong, but for newcomers or the long-since-converted, Four Riders Take Space Mountain brings into emphasis the transportive nuance and reach of what they do. It is suitably moving.

Øresund Space Collective on The Facebooks

Øresund Space Collective on Bandcamp

Øresund Space Collective website

Space Rock Productions website

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Quarterly Review: The Pilgrim, Polymoon, Doctors of Space, Merlock, Sun Dial, Saturn’s Husk, Diggeth, Horizon, Limousine Beach, The Crooked Whispers

Posted in Reviews on October 12th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

THE-OBELISK-FALL-2020-QUARTERLY-REVIEW

Well, the weekend’s over and it’s time to wrap up the Quarterly Review. Rest assured, I wrote the following during my copious weekend leisure time, resting on the side of a heated Olympic-size pool with a beverage nearby. It definitely wasn’t four in the morning on a Sunday or anything. If I haven’t gotten the point across yet, I hope you’ve found something amid this massive swath of records that has resonated with you. By way of a cheap plug, I’ll be featuring audio from a lot of these bands on the Gimme Metal show this Friday, 5PM Eastern, if you’re up for tuning in.

Either way, thanks for reading and for being a part of the whole thing. Let’s wrap it up.

Quarterly Review #51-60:

The Pilgrim, …From the Earth to the Sky and Back

the pilgrim from the earth to the sky and back

Lest he be accused of laziness, Gabriele Fiori — also of Black Rainbows, Killer Boogie and the head of the Heavy Psych Sounds label, booking agency and festival series — made his solo debut as The Pilgrim with Spring 2019’s Walking into the Forest (review here). Joined by Black Rainbows drummer Filippo Ragazzoni, Fiori ups the scale of the journey with the second The Pilgrim LP, …From the Earth to the Sky and Back. Richer in arrangement, bolder in craft and more confident in performance, the album runs 14 songs and 50 minutes still largely based around an acoustic acid rock foundation, but with a song like “Riding the Horse” tapping ’70s singer-songwriter vibes while “Cuba” touches on Latin percussion and guitar and “Space and Time” journeying out near the record’s end with waves of synthesizer, it seems The Pilgrim isn’t so willing to be pigeonholed. So much the better.

The Pilgrim on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds website

 

Polymoon, Caterpillars of Creation

Polymoon Caterpillars of Creation

There is an undercurrent of extremity to the debut release from Polymoon, who hail from the psychedelic hotbed that is Tampere, Finland. The six-song/42-minute Caterpillars of Creation turns in opener “Silver Mt.” to fervent guitar push or from freaked-out cosmic prog into drifting post-universe exploration, setting the stage for the dynamic that unfolds throughout. The wash early in the second half of “Lazaward” is glorious, and it’s not the first or the last time Polymoon go to that adrenaline-pumping well, but the serenity that caps that song and seems to continue into “Malamalama” in closing side A is no less effective. “Helicaling” mounts tension in its early drumming but finally releases it later, and “Neitherworld” gives Caterpillars of Creation‘s most fervent thrust while closer “Metempsychosis” rounds out with a fitting sense of dissipation. As a first album/first release, it is particularly stunning, and to make it as plain as possible, I will think less of any list of 2020’s best debut albums that leaves out Polymoon.

Polymoon on Thee Facebooks

Svart Records website

 

Doctors of Space, First Treatment

doctors of space first treatment

The two-piece comprised of Martin Weaver (ex-Wicked Lady) and synthesist Scott “Dr. Space” Heller (Øresund Space Collective, Black Moon Circle, etc.) position First Treatment as their proper studio debut, and it certainly hits its marks in galaxial adventuring well enough to qualify as such, but the duo have been on a creative splurge throughout this year — even in lockdown — and so the six songs here are also born out of the work they’ve been doing since releasing their debut single “Ghouls ‘n’ Shit” (video premiere here) late last year. The album launches with “Journey to Enceladus,” which boasts drum programming by Weaver and though one of the movements in the 21-minute “Into the Oort Cloud” is based around beats, the bulk of First Treatment is purely a work of guitar and synth, and it basks in the freedom that being so untethered inherently brings. Running an hour long, it’s improvisational nature isn’t going to be for everyone, but Heller and Weaver make a strong argument that maybe it should be.

Doctors of Space on Thee Facebooks

Space Rock Productions website

 

Merlock, That Which Speaks

merlock that which speaks

Who’s ready for a New Wave of PNW Fuckery? That’s right folks, the NWOPNWF has arrived and it’s Spokane, Washington’s Merlock leading the sometimes-awfully-punk-sometimes-awfully-metal-but-somehow-also-always-sludge charge. Aggressive and damning in lyrics, swapping between raw screams, grows, shouts and cleaner vocals and unhinged in terms of its genre loyalties, That Which Speaks seems to find the “melt faces” setting wherever it goes, and though there’s a sense of the four-piece feeling out what works best for them stylistically, the sometimes frantic, sometimes willfully awkward transitions — as in second cut “Prolapse” — serve the overall purpose of undercutting predictability. Eight-minute opener/longest track (immediate points) “Idolon” stomps and shoves and gnashes and nasties its way through, and that’s the modus across what follows, though the scream-along headbanger “Vessel” somehow seems even rawer, and though it ends by floating into oblivion, the start of “Condemnation” heavy fuckin’ metal to me. You never know quite where Merlock are going to hit next, and that’s the joy of the thing. May they remain so cacophonous.

Merlock on Thee Facebooks

Merlock on Bandcamp

 

Sun Dial, Mind Control: The Ultimate Edition

sun dial mind control

Long-running UK psychedelic rockers Sun Dial — led by founding guitarist/vocalist Gary Ramon — released Mind Control in 2012. Sulatron Records picked it up in 2015, and now, five years after that, the same label presents Mind Control: The Ultimate Edition, a 2CD version of the original LP-plus-bonus-tracks reissue that brings the total runtime of the release to a well-beyond-manageable 98 minutes of lysergic experimentation. A full 20 tracks are included in the comprehensive-feeling offering, and from early mixes to alternative takes and lost tracks, and if this isn’t the ‘ultimate’ version of Mind Control, I’m not sure what could be, notwithstanding a complete-studio-sessions box set. Perhaps as a step toward that, Mind Control: The Ultimate Edition gives an in-depth look at a vastly underappreciated outfit and is obviously put together as much for the label as by it. That is to say, you don’t put out a reissue like this unless you really love the original record, and if Sulatron loving a record isn’t enough endorsement for you, please turn in your mushrooms on your way out the door.

Sun Dial on Thee Facebooks

Sulatron Records webstore

 

Saturn’s Husk, The Conduit

Saturns Husk The Conduit

Immersion is the goal of Saturn’s Husk‘s third long-player, The Conduit, and the Riga, Latvia, instrumentalist trio accomplish it quickly with the fluid riffs that emerge from the drone-based intro “Death of Imaginary Lights” and the subsequent 10-minute opener “Black Nebula.” At nine songs and 63 minutes, the album is consuming through the welcome nodder “The Heavenly Ape,” the especially-doomed “The Ritual” and the more mellow-float centerpiece “Spectral Haze,” while “Mycelium Messiah” brings more straight-ahead fuzz (for a time) and drones on either side surround the 10:35 “Sand Barrows,” the latter serving as the finale “A Shattered Visage” quoting Percy Bysshe Shelley and the former “City of the Djinn” running just a minute-plus but still doing enough to reset the brain from where “Mycelium Messiah” left it. Almost functioning as two albums side-by-side with “Spectral Haze” as the dividing point, The Conduit indeed seems to join various sides together, with a depth to coincide that invites the listener to explore along with it.

Saturn’s Husk on Thee Facebooks

Saturn’s Husk on Bandcamp

 

Diggeth, Gringos Galacticos

diggeth gringos galacticos

Landing a punch of classic metal to go along with its heavy-bottomed groove, Diggeth‘s Gringos Galacticos — one supposes the title ‘Spacecrackers’ was taken — was released by the Dutch trio in 2019 and receives a US limited vinyl edition thanks to Qumran Records. One finds some similar guitar heroics to those of Astrosoniq‘s more straightforward moments, but Diggeth‘s focus remains on hookmaking for the duration, offering hints of twang and acoustics in “In the Wake of Giants” and tipping a hat southwestward in “Three Gringos,” but “Straight-Shooter” is willfully breaks out its inner Hetfield and even as the penultimate “Unshackled” departs for a quieter break, it makes its way back in time for the big finish chorus, adding just a touch of Candlemass grandiosity for good measure before the harmonica-laced closing title-track rounds out with its dynamic spacey weirdness, the name of the album repeating itself in an answer to the Stephen Hawking sample that started the voyage on its way.

Diggeth on Thee Facebooks

Qumran Records website

 

Horizon, The White Planet Patrol

horizon the white planet patrol

Cursed Tongue Records has the vinyl here, and Three Moons the tape, and the CD will arrive through Aladeriva Records, La Rubia Producciones, Aneurisma Records, Surnia Records and Violence in the Veins — so yes, Horizon‘s third album, The White Planet Patrol is well backed. Fair enough for the Kyuss-via-BlackRainbows vibes of “End of Utopia” or the initial charge and flow of “The Backyard” that sets the Alicante, Spain, trio on their way. “King Serpent” and “Death & Teddies” bring well-crafted fuzz to bear, and “Blind World” effectively layers vocals in its chorus to coincide, but the more laid back roll of the title-cut is an unmistakable highlight. Shades of mid-paced Nebula surface in “Meet the Forest” later on, but Horizon are part of a tradition of heavy bands in Alicante and they know it. The smoothness of their tone and delivery speaks volumes on its own in that regard, never mind the actual songwriting, which also leaves nothing to be desired.

Horizon on Thee Facebooks

Cursed Tongue Records webstore

 

Limousine Beach, Stealin’ Wine + 2

Limousine Beach Stealin Wine

Debut EP from Limousine Beach out of Pittsburgh, and if the three guitars involved don’t push it over the top, certainly the vocal harmonies get that particular job done. You got six minutes for three songs? Yeah, obviously. They scorch through “Tiny Hunter” to close out, but it’s in the leadoff title-track that Stealin’ Wine + 2 sees the Dave Wheeler-fronted outfit land its most outrageous chorus, just before they go on to find a middle-ground between KISS and Thin Lizzy on “Hear You Calling.” The harmonies open and are striking from the outset, but it’s in how they’re arranged around the standalone parts from Wheeler (also Outsideinside, ex-Carousel) that the outfit’s truest potential is shown. Issued through Tee Pee Records, Stealin’ Wine + 2 is the kind of thing you’d pick up at a show in a normal year and then feel way ahead of everyone else when the LP finally hits. Not a normal year, obviously, but Limousine Beach are serving due notice just the same. In six minutes, no less.

Limousine Beach on Thee Facebooks

Tee Pee Records website

 

The Crooked Whispers, Satanic Melodies

the crooked whispers satanic melodies

I’m sure a lot of records show up at Satan’s door with notes, like, “Dear sir, please find the enclosed submitted for your approval,” but it’s not hard to imagine Beelzebub himself getting down with the filth-coated sludge and rolling doom unfurled across The Crooked Whispers‘ debut offering, Satanic Melodies, marked by hateful, near-blackened screams from Anthony Gaglia and the plodding riffs of Chad Davis (Hour of 13, et al). The title-track is longest at 8:23 and in addition to featuring Ignacio De Tommaso‘s right-on bass tone in its midsection, it plays out early like Weedeater sold their collective soul, and drifts out where earlier pieces “Sacrifice” and “Evil Tribute” and “Profane Pleasure” held their roll for the duration. Stretches of clean-vocal cultistry add to the doomier aspects, but The Crooked Whispers seem to care way less about genre than they do about worshiping the devil, and that unshakable faith behind them, the rest seems to fall into place in accordingly biting fashion.

The Crooked Whispers on Thee Facebooks

The Crooked Whispers on Bandcamp

 

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Finding Comfort in Live Music When There Isn’t Any

Posted in Features on August 12th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Bands and festivals have begun to announce 2021 dates and all that, but let’s be realistic: it’s going to be years before live music is what it once was. Especially in the United States, which is the country in the world hardest hit by the ol’ firelung in no small part because of the ineptitude of its federal leadership, an entire economic system of live music — not to mention the venues, promotions and other cultural institutions that support it on all levels — needs to be rebuilt from the ground up. It isn’t going to be just as simple as “social distancing is over and we can all crowd into the bar again.” Maybe not ever.

You’ve likely seen a band do a live stream at this point, even if after the fact, and I have too. Not the same as a real-life gig, duh, but if it helps raise some funds and keeps creative people working on something and gives an act a way to connect with its audience, you can’t call it bad. I’ve found, though, that with the dearth of live music happening and the nil potential that “going to a show” will happen anytime soon, I’ve been listening to more and more live albums.

This, in no small part, is because there are plenty to listen to. Some groups attempting to bring in cash either for themselves or relevant causes have put out live records in the last few months and made use of the downtime that would’ve otherwise been given to actually being on a stage or writing together in a room or whatever it might be. It’s been a way for a band to not just sit on its collective hands and wonder what the future will bring. When so much is out of your own control, you make the most of what you’ve got.

In that spirit, here’s a quick rundown of 10 recent live outings that I’ve been digging. If you’ve found you’re in the need of finding comfort in live music and whatever act you want to see isn’t doing a stream just this second, maybe you can put one of these on, close your eyes, and be affected a bit by the on-stage energy that comes through.

Thanks as always for reading, and thanks to Tim Burke, Vania Yosifova, and Chris Pojama Pearson for adding their suggestions when I asked on social media. Here we go, ordered by date of release:

Arcadian Child, From Far, for the Wild (Live in Linz)

arcadian child from far for the wild

Released Jan. 24.

Granted, this one came out before the real impact of COVID-19 was being felt worldwide, but with the recent announcement of Arcadian Child‘s next studio album coming out this Fall, including From Far, for the Wild (Live in Linz) (discussed here) on this list seems only fair. The Cyprus-based four-piece even went so far as to include a couple new songs in the set that’ll show up on Protopsycho as well this October, so it’s a chance to get a preview of that material as well. Bonus for a bonus. Take the win.

Kadavar, Studio Live Session Vol. 1

kadavar studio live session

Released March 25.

Germany began imposing curfews in six of its states on March 22. At that point, tours were already being canceled, including Kadavar‘s European run after two shows, and the band hit Blue Wall Studio in Berlin for a set that was streamed through Facebook and in no small part helped set the pattern of streams in motion. With shows canceled in Australia/New Zealand and North America as well, Kadavar were hoping to recover some of the momentum they’d lost, and their turning it into a live record is also a part of that, as is their upcoming studio release, The Isolation Tapes.

Øresund Space Collective, Sonic Rock Solstice 2019

Øresund Space Collective Sonic Rock Solstice 2019

Released April 3.

Of course, I’m perfectly willing to grant that Sonic Rock Solstice 2019 (review here) wasn’t something Øresund Space Collective specifically put out because of the pandemic, but hell, it still exists and that enough, as far as I’m concerned. As ever, they proliferate top notch psychedelic improv, and though I’ve never seen them and it seems increasingly likely I won’t at the fest I was supposed to this year, their vitality is always infectious.

Pelican, Live at the Grog Shop

pelican Live at The Grog Shop

Released April 15.

Let’s be frank — if you don’t love Pelican‘s music to a familial degree, it’s not that I think less of you as a person, but I definitely feel bad for you in a way that, if I told you face-to-face, you won’t find almost entirely condescending. The Chicago instrumentalists are high on my list of golly-I-wish-they’d-do-a-livestream, and if you need an argument to support that, this set from Ohio should do the trick nicely. It’s from September 2019, which was just nearly a year ago. If your mind isn’t blown by their chugging progressive riffs, certainly that thought should do the trick.

SEA, Live at ONCE

sea live at once

Released June 19.

Also captured on video, this set from Boston’s SEA finds them supporting 2020’s debut album, Impermanence (review here) and pushing beyond at ONCE Ballroom in their hometown. The band’s blend of post-metallic atmosphere and spacious melody-making comes through as they alternate between lumbering riffs and more subdued ambience, and it makes a fitting complement to the record in underscoring their progressive potential. The sound is raw but I’d want nothing less.

Sumac, St Vitus 09/07/2018

sumac st vitus

Released July 3.

Issued as a benefit to Black Lives Matter Seattle and a host of other causes, among them the Philadelphia Womanist Working Collective, this Sumac set is precisely what it promises in the title — a live show from 2018 at Brooklyn’s famed Saint Vitus Bar. I wasn’t at this show, but it does make me a little wistful to think of that particular venue in the current concert-less climate. Sumac aren’t big on healing when it comes to the raw sonics, but there’s certainly enough spaciousness here to get lost in should you wish to do so.

YOB, Pickathon 2019 – Live From the Galaxy Barn

YOB Pickathon 2019 Live from the Galaxy Barn

Released July 3.

They’ve since taken down the Bandcamp stream, but YOB’s Pickathon 2019 – Live From the Galaxy Barn (review here) was released as a benefit for Navajo Nation COVID-19 relief, and is an hour-long set that paired the restlessness of “The Lie that is Sin” next to the ever-resonant “Marrow.” Of all the live records on this list, this is probably the one that’s brought me the most joy, and it also inspired the most recent episode of The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal, which jumped headfirst into YOB‘s catalog. More YOB please. Also, if you haven’t seen the videos of Mike Scheidt playing his guitar around the house, you should probably hook into that too.

Dirty Streets, Rough and Tumble

dirty streets rough and tumble

Released July 31.

If you’re not all the way down with the realization that Justin Toland is the man when it comes to heavy soul and blues guitar, Dirty Streets‘ new live record, Rough and Tumble, will set you straight, and it won’t even take that long. With the all-killer bass and drums of Thomas Storz and Andrew Denham behind, Toland reminds of what a true virtuoso player can accomplish when put in a room with a crowd to watch. That’s an important message for any time, let alone right now. These cats always deliver.

Amenra, Mass VI Live

amenra mass vi live

Released Aug. 7

Look, I’m not gonna sit here and pretend I’m the biggest Amenra fan in the world. I’m not. Sometimes I feel like they follow too many of their own rules for their own good, but there’s no question that live they’re well served by the spectacle they create, and their atmospherics are genuinely affecting. And I know that I’m in the minority in my position, so for anyone who digs them hard, they put up this stream-turned-record wherein they play a goodly portion of 2017’s Mass VI, and even as the self-professed not-biggest-fan-in-the-world, I can appreciate their effort and the screamy-scream-crushy-crush/open-spaced ambience that ensues.

Electric Moon, Live at Freak Valley Festival 2019

Electric Moon Live at Freak Valley Festival 2019

Releasing Sept. 4.

Yeah, okay, this one’s not out yet, but sometimes I’m lucky enough to get things early for review and sometimes (on good days) those things happen to be new live records from Germany psychonauts Electric Moon. The Always-Out-There-Sula-Komets are in top form on Live at Freak Valley Festival 2019 as one would have to expect, and they’re streaming a 22-minute version of “777” now that rips so hard it sounds like it’s about to tear a hole into an alternate dimension where shows are still going on so yes please everyone go and listen to it and maybe we’ll get lucky and it’ll really happen. The magic was in you all along.

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Album Review: Øresund Space Collective, Sonic Rock Solstice 2019

Posted in Reviews on June 1st, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Øresund Space Collective Sonic Rock Solstice 2019

The voice of Scott ‘Dr. Space’ Heller is one of the first things one hears on Øresund Space Collective‘s Sonic Rock Solstice 2019 live CD as the first of the collections liquefied jams fades in behind him. He thanks the crowd, says, “Have a nice trip,” and then, a second or two later, adds, “And kill the white lights!” That pretty much tells the tale right there. Of course, Heller — the synthesizer wizard joined on this recording by a multinational cast of players including Vince Cory and Vemund Engan on guitar, Jiri Jon Hjort on bass, Mogens Pedersen also on synth and Tim Wallander on drums — is talking about the lights hitting the stage, and by killing the white ones, he’s leaving nothing but presumably vibrant colors behind, reds, blues, oranges, yellows, whatever, in order to complement the 90 minutes of swirl that’s about to unfold. And fair enough, as Øresund Space Collective — the long-running improv psychedelic/space jam unit ostensibly based in Denmark but whose members hail from Norway, Sweden, and now Portugal, where Heller himself has resided for some number of years now — have never been anything but colorful.

Sonic Rock Solstice 2019 captures of course a performance at the festival of the same name, based in Worcestershire, UK, and as Heller notes just before the group dives headfirst into the 31-minute “Jam for Gavin,” it’s their first time playing in the country. To say the least, they do it up, and from the funky bass of “SRS Solstice Jam” and the space-proggin’ that ensues through the early stretch of “Jam for Gavin” and the mellower drift that takes hold circa 16 minutes in as they make their way back toward solo guitar scorch and finally a kind of quirky bounce outward over the last few minutes held together by the drums as much as anything, and on through the first of two band introductions and into “Jazz it up Boyzz” — nothing if not self-aware in its title — and the extended closing pair “Solstice Jammers Pt. 1” (14:44) and “Solstice Jammers Pt. 2” (21:12) at the end of which Heller again says everyone’s name the band (a follow-up introduction well-earned on the band’s part), Sonic Rock Solstice 2019 as much typifies Øresund Space Collective‘s mission as any live release could and most of them do.

Whether they’re in the studio or on a stage, Øresund Space Collective jam. There is a reason five out of the six tracks on Sonic Rock Solstice 2019 have some variation of “jam” in the title, and it’s because they fucking jam. And that other track? It’s 35 seconds of talking in between “Jam for Gavin” and “Jazz it up Boyzz,” so yeah. The focus here is clearly on jamming, and as Heller says early on, they don’t have a lot of time for chit-chat. And accordingly they don’t mess around, instead hitting it head-on with “SRS Solstice Jam” and keeping the flow central throughout the entire set. And it should comes as little surprise to anyone familiar with what Øresund Space Collective is or what they do that they’re locked in and their musical conversation is second to none. For a group who regularly record and release their own live shows via the internet archive or Bandcamp, it’s telling when they go to the lengths of doing an actual physical pressing of a live release, and as Sonic Rock Solstice 2019 was initially put out to Bandcamp subscribers — there are a host of exclusive offerings to go along with the steady stream of “regular” ones; this follows February’s Experiments in the Subconscious (review here) studio LP as the second full-public outing of 2020 — and then put on limited CDs for those who’d chase it down, it’s clear they consider it an occasion worth marking.

sonic rock solstice 2019 poster

Fair enough for the performance they got, taking advantage of the multi-track recording by Peter Wibrew (which Heller mixed afterward) to present their freeform psychedelic improvisation as best they could hope to do. With the white lights presumably shut off after the request, the band shine bright just the same, and as they marked 15 years of existence in 2019, and as they were headliners of the fourth and final night of the festival — other headliners included Hawklords and Tir Na Nog — and, as noted, since it was their first time ever in the UK, the party spirit seems certainly justified. The jams are for the most part upbeat, of course with some spaceouts, and though I’ve no doubt that those in the building would say they felt it even more — such is the nature of live albums — but the good-time vibe practically leaks out of the speakers when listening here.

It’s reasonable to assume that if that wasn’t the case, Sonic Rock Solstice 2019 wouldn’t exist as it does. No band ever willingly put out a crappy live record. But especially for an act like Øresund Space Collective, whose purpose all along has been to enact an instrumental conversation among players, whether it’s regulars like JiriMogens, or Tim — often just presented as their first names, like old friends — or others who’ve made their way into and out of the group over the years, including members of PapirBlack Moon Circle (of which Engan and Heller are both tenured) or Sgt. Sunshine, the ability to bring about so much consistency in that regard while staying so willfully amorphous in makeup and in the basic sonic pursuit, is nothing to be taken lightly. I’ll admit gladly to being a fan of Øresund Space Collective‘s on-paper mission and in-reality output, and as with the most resonant of their various offerings and offshoots, Sonic Rock Solstice 2019 puts together immersive and hypnotic jams that neither fade into the background nor force themselves upon the listener. They unfold naturally, in their own time, and though the band may not have had much time to talk as Heller says, they make their statement without any trouble by the time they’re through with “SRS Solstice Jam” and into the kosmiche launch that is “Jam for Gavin.” This is as organic as the roots of heavy psychedelic rock can get, and Øresund Space Collective make the trip their own as only they can. In times that do nothing if not warrant it, this is my comfort music.

Øresund Space Collective, Sonic Rock Solstice 2019 (2020)

Øresund Space Collective on The Facebooks

Øresund Space Collective on Bandcamp

Øresund Space Collective website

Space Rock Productions website

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Days of Rona: Scott “Dr. Space” Heller of Øresund Space Collective

Posted in Features on April 9th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

The statistics of COVID-19 change with every news cycle, and with growing numbers, stay-at-home isolation and a near-universal disruption to society on a global scale, it is ever more important to consider the human aspect of this coronavirus. Amid the sad surrealism of living through social distancing, quarantines and bans on gatherings of groups of any size, creative professionals — artists, musicians, promoters, club owners, techs, producers, and more — are seeing an effect like nothing witnessed in the last century, and as humanity as a whole deals with this calamity, some perspective on who, what, where, when and how we’re all getting through is a needed reminder of why we’re doing so in the first place.

Thus, Days of Rona, in some attempt to help document the state of things as they are now, both so help can be asked for and given where needed, and so that when this is over it can be remembered.

Thanks to all who participate. To read all the Days of Rona coverage, click here. — JJ Koczan

scott dr space heller

Days of Rona: Scott “Dr. Space” Heller of Øresund Space Collective, Aural Hallucinations, Space Rock Productions, etc. (Portugal)

How are you dealing with this crisis as a band? Have you had to rework plans at all? How is everyone’s health so far?

Well, at the moment our concerts in May are in doubt and we might have to postpone them till late summer or fall. Looks like Høstsabbat for Oct 1st will still happen though so that might be one of the few shows we do. As far as I know all the members of the band are healthy and staying at home, probably making or mixing music!!!

What are the quarantine/isolation rules where you are?

Portugal has taken this very seriously as has Denmark, where a lot of the members live. Schools are closed, bars, restaurants, pretty much everything except small local businesses, grocery stores, gas stations… Where we live there are still no cases reported yet. Denmark is shut down for three;, months. Oddly, where some of the members are in Sweden, it is business as usual. They have not shut down anything much. They also have the most cases of all of Scandinavia. We will see how it goes.

How have you seen the virus affecting the community around you and in music?

We have a huge view of the valley where we live and you just don’t see many people out or cars, so I think people around here are being vigilant. I go to the post office every week to mail packages and they only let two people in at a time and you can’t get close to the workers, they have a large plastic window with a gap. As for music, there is no live music at the moment but I am making a lot of music and improving my skills, mixing new tracks, recording for new collaborations (a secret at the moment). My fourth Dr Space’s Alien Planet Trip LP –  Space with Bass is still coming out in May. My collaboration with Matt (Ex-Elder, Kind, Queen Elephantine) called Aural Hallucinations will be out on LP, CD and tape around May 1st. A new subscriber-only release of Øresund Space Collective is supposed to arrive this week… So lots still happening..

What is the one thing you want people to know about your situation, either as a band, or personally, or anything?

We are pretty safe and unlikely to get this virus if we just stay at home since we live so isolated and all my music projects will continue but live concerts will be fewer this year for sure. I wish everyone the best and hope you all ride this crazy virus wave to a safe place and we can all be together again later this year. Thanks to everyone who has bought our music. Peace…

http://oresundspacecollective.com
http://oresundspacecollective.bandcamp.com
http://doctorsofspace.bandcamp.com
http://writingaboutmusic.blogspot.com
http://www.spacerockproductions.com
http://blackmooncircle.bandcamp.com
http://auralhallucinations.bandcamp.com

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Aural Hallucinations Stream Debut LP Alucinações Auditivas in Full; Preorders up Now

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on April 1st, 2020 by JJ Koczan

aural hallucinations

Aural Hallucinations will release their debut album, Alucinações Auditivas, through Space Rock Productions on May 1. The ocean-spanning experimentalist duo brings together Massachusetts-based Matt Couto — best known as the now-former drummer for Elder, and also currently of Kind — with Scott “Dr. Space” Heller, who, though currently residing in Portugal, nonetheless continues to work as the prolific synthesist and bandleader of Øresund Space Collective and also, so far as I know, still hold a place in the otherwise-Norwegian Black Moon Circle and a few other projects as well.

The semi-self-titled Alucinações Auditivas is their first release of any sort as well as being their first album — though they led up to it by unveiling “Brain Stimulator” and “Fly Free, Furry Friend” as singles — and in its vinyl-ready form it runs seven tracks and 41 minutes of way-far-gone mostly-instrumental collaboration. Pieces like “Hills White, House Blue” become a kind of miasma of synthesizer sounds, and from the leadoff cut “Formigas,” on which the applied “vocals” would seem to be recorded and manipulated breathing, onward, the prevailing sentiment is that anything is welcome noise-wise so far as the vibe is maintained.

To wit, the underlying low end synth progression behind the penultimate “Don’t Take the Granite Acid” follows an eerily similar rhythm to that of my basement washing machine when heard through the floor of my living room. There are eerie whispers there as well (not in my basement, fortunately), and “Spore Cloud Dispersion” offers a drum progression and bassline that echoes the space rock at its most frenetic, while closer “Surreal InhiVisions” finds its anchor in acoustic guitar almost in a manner reminiscent of Lamp of the Universe were that outfit more given to conjuring a total wash AURAL HALLUCINATIONS ALUCINACOES AUDITIVASof effects rather than sticking to some semblance of structural traditionalism.

Despite all the far-out-itude of Alucinações Auditivas and the piercing high-pitched frequency that makes its way into “Brain Stimulator,” the project is consistent with elements of both Couto‘s and Heller‘s past work. Certainly the latter has been no stranger to improvised-seeming experimentation — that’s Øresund Space Collective‘s wheelhouse — and the former has handled modular synth and other noisemaking whatnots in Kind as well, so it’s not that Aural Hallucinations comes out of nowhere in terms of their approach, just that the two parties involved have very clearly made a conscious decision to highlight this aspect of their creativity together.

The mission and resulting LP are likewise admirable though both by their very nature are not necessarily widely accessible. Still, the wide open range that Alucinações Auditivas establishes nearly immediately and only continues to push into broader spaces is a closed-eyes-headphones-on escape that one can easily imagine as a ready foundation for future such expeditions. With their driving principle seeming to be just building pieces from the ground up and seeing what works, they show an awareness of that and a corresponding awareness of when a piece is done or might not need anything else going on in it.

This makes Aural Hallucinations dynamic as well as varied in their approach, and from minimal to maximal, Alucinações Auditivas demonstrates a dimensionality that goes beyond the depth of its mix. Actually, its dimensionality kind of goes outside of this dimension altogether, but I suppose that’s a different matter.

Also it’s not made of matter.

You get the point.

With preorders open as of today ahead of the release next month, Aural Hallucinations have opened the floodgates and are letting the noise drift through with a full album stream of Alucinações Auditivas below. Should you choose to plunge in, I most certainly hope you enjoy:

This is the debut album by Matt Couto (Kind, ex-Elder) and Dr Space (Øresund Space Collective, Black Moon Circle). It features a number of tracks to have Aural Hallucinations to. Luis Antero has kindly provided us with several field recordings that have been mixed into a few of the tracks.

Matthew Couto- Moog Opus III, Moog Werkstatt, VRL Modular Synthesizer, Drums, Bass, Acoustic guitar, Electric Guitar, Vocal

Dr Space- Yamaha CS10, Custom Modular Synthesizer, KORG SQ-10, Nord Lead 2, ARP Odessey, Vocal

Artwork by Matt. Logo and cassette/CD layouts by Josh Yelle.

Mixing and mastering at Éstudio Paraíso nas Nuvems, Central Portugal by Dr Space.

Aural Hallucinations on Bandcamp

Space Rock Productions website

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