Review: Various Artists, Live in the Mojave Desert, Vols. 1-5

Posted in Reviews on April 13th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

live in the mojave desert 1-5

Late in 2020, when the project was announced, Live in the Mojave Desert sounded immediately ambitious. A series of five exclusive streams, taking bands and putting them out in the Californian deserts, with civilization somewhat visible from the aerial drone shots, but definitely far enough away to have been left behind, to record live sets by Giant Rock (see also: Yawning Man, Live at Giant Rock, the video/LP something of a precursor) and be captured doing so by professional audio and video. The series was successfully pulled off, which was impressive in itself, and it set a standard for heavy acts in this era of streaming that few could hope to match. The intention was concert-film, and the results were likewise.

Heavy Psych Sounds and the newly-formed Giant Rock Records — helmed by series director Ryan Jones — have overseen physical pressings of the sets as live albums, taking the audio caught by Dan Joeright of Gatos Trail Studio in Joshua Tree with mixing by Matt Lynch at Mysterious Mammal and others. From this comes Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 1-5, and from the moment Isaiah Mitchell starts echoing out the notes that signal the pickup in “Violence of the Red Sea” to the final wah-out, crashes and shout of Mountain Tamer‘s “Living in Vain,” it remains clear the series is something special — a grand monument built to an ugly time.

A rundown:

Earthless, Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 1

earthless live in the mojave desert
(stream review here)

The crazy thing about this series — or one of the crazy things, anyhow — is that if it had been just Earthless, that probably would’ve been enough to be staggering. Admittedly, it is difficult to hear the audio from bassist Mike Eginton, drummer Mario Rubalcaba and the aforementioned Isaiah Mitchell and not think of the desert at night being lit up by the Mad Alchemy Liquid Light Show, drones flying overhead as trippy lights flash and shift with the music, but I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. Earthless played three songs — “Violence of the Red Sea,” “Sonic Prayer” and “Lost in the Cold Sun” — and that’s enough to make their release the only 2LP of the Live in the Mojave Desert set, topping out at about 77 minutes, with the entirety of sides C and D dedicated to “Lost in the Cold Sun”‘s 39-minute sprawl.

There’s a reason Earthless were the headliners for this thing, and it’s because there’s no one else who has the same instrumental dynamic they bring to the stage — or sand, as it were — and because if you’re going for “epic” as a standard, they’re the band you call. Will Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 1 replace Live at Roadburn 2008 (discussed here) as the band’s supreme live-recorded statement? I don’t know, but it sure sounds incredible. “Sonic Prayer” comes through with due sense of worship and “Lost in the Cold Sun” fuzzy grace feels like the kind of thing a future generation might think of as classic rock. Watching, it was easy to get lost in the show, follow the head-spinning turns of guitar atop the ultra-sure foundation of bass and drums, and listening, it’s the same. With an exquisite mix and a vital performance, it’s every bit the best-case-scenario for what Live in the Mojave Desert could and should be.

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Nebula, Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 2

nebula live in the mojave desert
(stream review here)

With Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 2, I consider Nebula‘s comeback complete. The band reformed in 2017, hit the road hard, and in 2019 offered up the return studio full-length, Holy Shit! (review here), and toured again for as long as that option was available. They have new material in the works too, and what’s most striking about the trio’s performance the 10-song/48-minute set here is how characteristic it sounds. Drummer Mike Amster (also Mondo Generator, etc.) and bassist Tom Davies strap the listener down while founding guitarist/vocalist Eddie Glass takes off to the center of the universe, and amid classics like that opener, Holy Shit! cuts like “Messiah,” “Let’s Get Lost,” “Man’s Best Friend” and the new song “Wall of Confusion” fit right in. There’s never a doubt, never a question of who you’re hearing. Even the sloppiest moments are pure Nebula.

That’s what they’ve always been — part punk, part heavy psych, part pure go — and Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 2 brings that to bear without question. As a follow-up to Holy Shit! as well as the band’s second sanctioned live recording behind 2008’s Peel Session, it captures their inimitable sonic persona and the sense of chaos that their material always seems to carry, like it’s all about to come apart at any second and if it did, fuck it anyway, you’re the one with the problem. It never does come apart here, which I guess is to the band’s credit as well, but this set is nonetheless a full expression of who Nebula are as a group. Now get to work on that next record.

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Spirit Mother, Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 3

spirit mother live in the mojave desert

(stream review here)

If one might think of including Spirit Mother in the series as a risk, the risk was mild at best, and as the first of two bands representing a next generation of California’s heavy underground, the Long Beach troupe more than acquitted themselves well in their relatively brief 10-song/33-minute showing. Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 3 basks in the violin-conjured atmospheres of the four-piece’s debut album, Cadets (review here), and wants nothing for impact to complement that ethereal sensibility. Their songs are short, and that gives them a kind of proto-grunge edge, and the vocals of bassist Armand Lance, who shares those duties with violinist SJ, add drug-punkish urgency to the procession of one song into the next.

For a band coming off their first album, they are intricate in aesthetic in ways that might surprise new listeners, and that’s exactly why they feature behind Nebula in this series. Hearing them dig into “Black Sheep” and “Martyrs” and “Dead Cells” on Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 3 is the best argument I can think of in favor of signing the band for their next studio release, and if Heavy Psych Sounds doesn’t, someone else surely will. Not trying to tell anyone their business, of course, but Spirit Mother are happening one way or another. That combination of air, earth, and fuzz is too good to leave out.

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Stöner, Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 4

Stöner live in the mojave desert

(stream review here)

Aired fifth but billed almost inevitably as Vol. 4, the unveiling of Stöner, the new trio from Brant Bjork and Nick Oliveri with Ryan Gut (also of the former’s solo band) on drums was a bonus to the Live in the Mojave Desert. On-again-off-again collaborators across decades, Bjork and Oliveri nestled into mostly laid-back, stripped down grooves, their stated purpose in going back to the roots of the sound they helped create in the first place. The Kyuss-ness of the central riff of opener “Rad Stays Rad” is no less demonstration of their having done so than the driving punk of the Oliveri-fronted “Evel Never Dies.” The vibe is nostalgic in that song, as well as “Rad Stays Rad,” the gleefully funked “Stand Down,” and “The Older Kids,” but if Stöner is about looking back at this point, they’re doing so with fresh eyes.

To wit, “Own Yer Blues,” “Nothin’,” and the 13-minute mint-jam finale “Tribe/Fly Girl” are more endemic of who these players have become than who they were in the early ’90s or before, and that applies to “Stand Down” too. Bjork‘s vocals sound double-tracked on some of the parts (or at least close delay), but he and Oliveri work well together as one would expect, and as a reveal for what these guys had come up with in renewing their collaboration, Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 4 offers seven memorable songs that would make anything more seem unnecessarily fancied up. If their calling card is that rad stays rad, they prove it. And I know he’s not the top bill in the trio with Bjork‘s flow and Oliveri‘s bass tone, but Gut‘s contributions here aren’t to be understated.

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Mountain Tamer, Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 5

mountain tamer live in the mojave desert

(stream review here)

Second only to Stöner in curiosity factor, L.A. trio Mountain Tamer have always held a darker edge in their sound, and that comes through in the brash 36 minutes, shouts and screams echoing out over fuzzed garage metal in a fuckall that’s punk in attitude but angrier in its underlying core. Guitarist/vocalist Andrew Hall, bassist Dave Teget and drummer Casey Garcia are the kind of band who open the show and sell the most merch when they’re done. The elements they’re working with are familiar and have been all along in their decade together and across their three LPs — the latest of them, 2020’s Psychosis Ritual (review here), was released by Heavy Psych Sounds — but more even than in their studio work, Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 5 brought to light just how much their own their sound really is.

Whether languid as in “Chained” or “Black Noise” or furious as in “Warlock” and “Living in Vain,” Mountain Tamer give Nebula a run for their money in terms of chaos, and easily make for the most pissed off listen of the bunch in Live in the Mojave Desert. The relative roughness of their edge suits them, however, and the rampant echo on the guitar assures there’s still a spacious sound to act as counterbalance to all that thrashing and gnashing. If you can call it balance, I don’t know, but it works for them and they wield their sound as knife more than bludgeon when it comes to it.

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The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal Playlist: Episode 54

Posted in Radio on March 5th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

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Back to normal, such as it is, for The Obelisk Show. I did two songs in two hours last time and though it seemed to go over decently well in the chat, it was less welcomed by the station itself. Fair. I’ll readily admit that two hours of psychedelic improv is not going to be everybody’s cup of tea, even in a setting that supports extreme fare as a central ethic. I’m lucky they decided to air it. I’m lucky they let me do another episode.

In here you’ll find some more rocky stuff like Greenleaf and Formula 400. I’ve yet to really dig into the new Domkraft, so I wanted to give that a roll, and then the show gets into some heavier industrial stuff. Godflesh were talked about here last week, and Trace Amount, but some Sanford Parker and Author & Punisher too. I’ve had an itch lately that stuff has helped scratch. After that and Yawning Sons is my little homage to the Live in the Mojave Desert stream series. Mountain Tamer are on that this weekend and it’s well worth your time to search out. Of course, Earthless started that series so they’ll end the show here. Only fitting.

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 – 03.05.21

Greenleaf Love Undone Echoes From a Mass
Genghis Tron Ritual Circle Dream Weapon
Sunnata A Million Lives Burning in Heaven, Melting on Earth
VT
Sonic Demon Black Smoke Vendetta
Formula 400 Messenger Heathens
Domkraft Dawn of Man Seeds
Kauan Raivo Ice Fleet
VT
Godflesh Avalanche Master Song Godflesh
Author & Punisher Ode to Bedlam Beastland
Trace Amount ft. Body Stuff Concrete Catacomb Concrete Catacomb
Sanford Parker Knuckle Crossing Lash Back
VT
Yawning Sons Cigarette Footsteps Sky Island
Spirit Mother Space Cadets Cadets
Nebula Let’s Get Lost Holy Shit
Mountain Tamer Black Noise Psychosis Ritual
Brant Bjork Stardust & Diamond Eyes Brant Bjork
VT
Earthless Violence of the Red Sea From the Ages

The Obelisk Show on Gimme Metal airs every Friday 5PM Eastern, with replays Sunday at 7PM Eastern. Next new episode is March 19 (subject to change). Thanks for listening if you do.

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Live Stream Review: Spirit Mother, Live in the Mojave Desert

Posted in Reviews on February 22nd, 2021 by JJ Koczan

spirit mother live in the mojave desert vol 3

Long Beach, California-based four-piece Spirit Mother have the sound, look and mood pretty much nailed. Laced with echoing violin and lead guitar playing off each other in a song like “Martyrs” from their 2020 debut, Cadets (review here), if their inclusion as the third of five in the ‘Live in the Mojave Desert’ series left anyone scratching their head, the issue is promptly cleared up once they start playing.

Directed by Ryan Jones (also of the Stoned and Dusted fest), edited by Sam Grant with Dan Joeright of Joshua Tree’s Gatos Trail Studio doing sound and psychedelic oil projections lighting up Skull Rock — because where else? — by Lance Gordon and his Mad Alchemy team, the level of production, the sheer concert film-ness of ‘Live in the Mojave Desert’ remains staggering, and as parts of the country struggle to keep the lights and heat on and others are dug into cold winter chill, Jones and company successfully make the West-is-best argument seem moot.

As with prior installments featuring Earthless (review here) and Nebula (review here), Spirit Mother‘s ‘Live in the Mojave’ sets and lives up to a high standard. The first hour of the stream is dedicated to interview footage and the odd music video — a preview of Mountain Tamer still to come in the series, as well as clips from Stoned and Dusted and videos from Acid King and King Buffalo; all certainly welcome, content-wise — with Jones hosting in a kind of early-to-mid 1990s MTV atmosphere, including a few awkward moments preserved for posterity.

Unlike Earthless or Nebula, however, when Spirit Mother take the stage — by which I mean a kind of flat piece of land some distance away from Skull Rock, and, apparently, anything else, with lights on either side, projections around and behind and drones and hand-cameras (phones and not?) capturing it all — it’s already night. I don’t know why the band decided to start playing after dark, maybe it was just timing, but the decision meant more time for the liquid lightshow, and more Mad Alchemy is never a bad choice. Particularly for an act as atmospheric as Spirit Mother show themselves to be.

They start the set with what would seem to be a new song in “Toxic (Exodus Inc.)” and guitarist Sean McCormick and drummer Landon Cisneros, violinist/vocalist SJ and bassist/vocalist Armand Lance are immediately locked in. The vibe is vibe if you can vibe, like languid grunge blasted into outer space in the desert night. Credit to Cisneros, who puts on a clinic in holding together elements that a less capable drummer would simply watch fall apart in a cut like “Premonitions,” which begins the second half of the set after a quick break to find out everybody’s favorite live album — Allman Bros.Dave Brubeck, something classical from SJ I couldn’t quite hear over the wind — and ethereal bursts from Cadets like, indeed “Ether,” “Go Getter” and “My Head is Sinking.”

spirit mother live in the mojave desert

Spirit Mother‘s songs are fairly short, so they’re able to pack more in than, say, Earthless, and the double-effect that has is that it never quite lets them wander off. Lance as a vocalist is somewhere between grunge and shoegaze in his delivery, a classic sort of reluctance, keeping it casual as the bass drops out and returns to add impact to McCormick‘s steadier progressions of guitar. Off to stage right, SJ‘s violin fills out the sound with overarching melody as the movements grow more chaotic before cutting out cold, à la “Martyrs” or “Black Sheep,” both of which manage to take the listener/viewer for a ride in a little over three minutes’ time.

Her vocals feature more prominently on “Dead Cells,” which since my tired eyes can’t find it anywhere else I’ll assume is another new track, and that may be a hint of more active interplay between her and Lance in the lead role — she carries the song well and is a good match for Lance in attitude; belting “Dead Cells” out a bit works. Watching Cisneros playing “Space Cadets,” the opener of Cadets, one might be reminded a bit of The Golden GrassAdam Kriney in style, but there’s not the same kind of underlying intensity that feels like it’s trying to break out, and so Cisneros operates fluidly with the lumber in “Space Cadets” and elsewhere, helping not necessarily to keep things grounded, but at least cohesive on its own level, the songs feeling almost willfully incomplete, because really, what’s the point anyway, man?

I can’t argue. Spirit Mother are so Californian I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to find out they’re all originally from the Midwest, but they’re ridiculously suited to their purpose throughout ‘Live in the Mojave,’ locking in highlight grooves in “My Head is Sinking” or “Heathens” — the sudden stop there feeling especially cruel — which caps what turns out to be a pretty short evening’s set. It will make a killer live record — Italy’s Heavy Psych Sounds is seeing to that and I wouldn’t be surprised if they picked the band up for their sophomore studio release — but with the break in between, they’re at about 35 minutes of material, so yeah, a quick run.

In that time, however, they distinguish themselves in style and substance alike. Their songs function like poems rather than verse/chorus pieces, and the linear feel they bring about results in dynamic shifts as they play one into the next. The same was true of Cadets, of course, but to watch Spirit Mother playing live, even prior-recorded as this was, gives further insight into how they function as a unit, and with the new material, where they might be heading next. I only look forward to finding out.

The ‘Live in the Mojave Desert’ can’t take the place of a concert experience, and it’s to its eternal credit that it isn’t trying. Instead, it democratizes a once-in-a-lifetime exclusivity — that night that you just happened to be in the right place in Joshua Tree National Park to find this — so that everyone can be that person, in that place, feeling like they’re floating above all the more as the drones hover around Skull Rock. If that’s escapism in the pandemic age, that doesn’t make it any less beautiful.

Spirit Mother, “Space Cadets” from ‘Live in the Mojave Desert’

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Quarterly Review: Pallbearer, Fulanno, Spirit Mother, Gevaudan, El Rojo, Witchwood, Gary Lee Conner, Tomorr, Temple of the Fuzz Witch, Karkara

Posted in Reviews on December 24th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

THE-OBELISK-FALL-2020-QUARTERLY-REVIEW

There isn’t enough caffeine in the universe to properly sustain a Quarterly Review, and yet here we are. I’ve been doing this for six years now, and once started I’ve always managed to get through it. This seven-day spectacular hits its halfway point today, which is okay by me. I decided to do this because there was a bunch of stuff I still wanted to consider for my year-end list, which I’d normally post this week. And sure enough, a few more have managed to make the cut from each day. I’ll hope to put the list together in the coming days and get it all posted next week, before the poll results at least. I’m not sure why that matters, but yeah.

Thanks for following along if you have been. Hope you’ve found something worth digging into.

Quarterly Review #31-40:

Pallbearer, Forgotten Days

pallbearer forgotten days

Their best record. I don’t want to hear anymore about their demo, or about 2012’s Sorrow and Extinction (review here) or anything else. This is the album Pallbearer have been driving toward since their outset. It is an amalgam of emotive melody and tonal weight that makes epics of both the 12-minute “Silver Wings” and the four-minute “The Quicksand of Existing” that immediately follows, that hits a morose exploration of self in opener “Forgotten Days” and “Stasis” while engaging in metallic storytelling on “Vengeance and Ruination” and “Rite of Passage,” the latter incorporating classic metal melody in perhaps the broadest reach the band has ever had in that regard. So yeah. Pallbearer don’t have a ‘bad’ record. 2017’s Heartless (review here) was a step forward, to be sure. But Forgotten Days, ironically enough, is the kind of offering on which legacies are built and a touchstone for whatever Pallbearer do from here on out.

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Fulanno, Nadie Está a Salvo del Mal

fulanno Nadie está a salvo del mal

The fog rolls in thick on Argentinian doomers Fulanno‘s second full-length, Nadie Está a Salvo del Mal. The seven-track/42-minute outing launches in post-Electric Wizard fashion, and indeed, the drawling lumber of the Dorset legends is an influence throughout, but by no means the only one the trio of guitarist/vocalist Fila Frutos, bassist Mauro Carosela and drummer Jose A. are under. They cast a doom-for-doomers vibe almost immediately, but as “Fuego en la Cruz” gives way to “Los Elegidos” and “Hombre Muerto,” the sense of going deeper is palpable. Crunching, raw tonality comes across as the clean vocals cut through, and the abiding rawness becomes a part of the aesthetic on “Los Colmillos de Satan,” a turning point ahead of the interlude “Señores de la Necrópolis,” the eight-minute “El Desierto de los Caídos” and the surprisingly resonant closing instrumental “El Libro de los Muertos.” Fulanno are plenty atmospheric when they want to be, and one wonders if that won’t come further forward as their progression continues. Either way, they’ve staked their claim in doom and sound ready to die for the cause.

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Spirit Mother, Cadets

spirit mother cadets

Preceded by a series of singles over the last couple years, Cadets is the full-length debut from Los Angeles four-piece Spirit Mother, and it packs expanse into deceptively efficient songs, seeming to loll this way and that even as it keeps an underlying forward push. The near-shoegaze vocals do a lot of the work in affecting a mellow-psych vibe, but there’s weight to Spirit Mother‘s “Ether” as well, violin, woven vocal layers, and periodic tempo kicks making songs standout from each other even as “Go Getter” keeps an experimentalist feel and “Premonitions” aces its cosmic-garage driver’s test with absolutely perfect pacing. The ultra-spacey “Shape Shifter I” and more boogie-fied “Shape Shifter II” are clear focal points, but Cadets as a whole is a marked accomplishment, particularly for a first LP, and in style, substance and atmosphere, it brings together rich textures with a laissez-faire spontaneity. The closing instrumental “Bajorek” is only one example among the 10 included tracks of Spirit Mother‘s potential, which is writ large throughout.

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Gévaudan, Iter

gevaudan iter

UK four-piece Gévaudan made their debut in 2019 with Iter, and though I’m late to the party as ever, the five-song/53-minute offering is of marked scope and dynamic. Its soft stretches are barely there, melancholic and searching, and its surges of volume in opener “Dawntreader” are expressive without being overwrought. Not without modern influence from Pallbearer or YOB, etc., Gévaudan‘s honing in on atmospherics helps stand out Iter as the band plod-marches with “The Great Heathen Army” — the most active of inclusions and the centerpiece — en route to “Saints of Blood” (11:54) and closer “Duskwalker” (15:16), the patient dip into extremity of the latter sealing the record’s triumph; those screams feel not like a trick the band kept up their collective sleeve, but a transition earned through the grueling plunge of all the material prior. It’s one for which I’d much rather be late than never.

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El Rojo, El Diablo Rojo

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The burly heavy rock of “South” at the outset of Italian heavy rockers El Rojo‘s El Diablo Rojo doesn’t quite tell the whole tale of the band’s style, but it gives essential clues to their songwriting and abiding burl. Later pieces like the slower-rolling “Ascension” (initially, anyhow) and acoustic-inclusive “Cactus Bloom” effectively build on the foundation of bruiser riffs and vocals, branching out desert-influenced melody and spaciousness instrumentalism even as the not-at-all-slowed-down “When I Slow Down” keeps affairs grounded in their purpose and structure. Riffs are thick and lead the charge on the more straightforward pieces and the seven-minute “Colors” alike as El Rojo attempt not to reinvent heavy or stoner rocks but to find room for themselves within the established tenets of genre. They’ve been around a few years at this point, and there’s still growing to be done, but El Diablo Rojo sounds like the starting point of an engaging progression.

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Witchwood, Before the Winter

witchwood before the winter

Deep Purple, Uriah Heep, Jethro Tull, some Led Zeppelin in “Crazy Little Lover” and a touch of opera on “Nasrid” for good measure, Witchwood‘s 62-minute Before the Winter 2LP may be well on the other side of unmanageable in terms of length, but at least it’s not wasting anyone’s time. Instead, early rockers like “Anthem for a Child” and “A Taste of Winter” and the wah-funked “Feelin'” introduce the elements that will serve as the band’s colorful palette across the whole of the album. And a piece like “No Reason to Cry” becomes a straight-ahead complement to airier material like the not-coincidentally-named “A Crimson Moon” and the winding and woodsy “Hesperus,” which caps the first LP as the 10-minute epic “Slow Colours of Shade” does likewise for the record as a whole, followed by a bonus Marc Bolan cover on the vinyl edition, to really hammer home the band’s love of the heavy ’70s, which is already readily on display in their originals.

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Gary Lee Conner, Revelations in Fuzz

gary lee conner revelations in fuzz

If nothing else, Gary Lee Conner sounds like he probably has an enviable collection of 45s. The delightfully weird former Screaming Trees guitarist offers up 10 fresh delights of ’60s-style garage-psych solo works on the follow-up to 2018’s Unicorn Curry, as Revelations in Fuzz lives up to its title in tone even as cascades of organ and electric piano, sitar and acoustic guitar weave in and out of the proceedings. How no one has paired Conner with Baby Woodrose frontman Uffe Lorenzen for a collaboration is a mystery I can’t hope to solve, but in the swirling and stops of “Cheshire Cat Claws” and the descent of six-minute closer “Colonel Tangerine’s Sapphire Sunshine Dreams,” Conner reaffirms his love of that which is hypnotic and lysergic while hewing to a traditionalism of songwriting that makes cuts like “Vicious and Pretty” as catchy as they are far out. And trust me, they’re plenty far out. Conner is a master of acid rock, pure and simple. And he’s already got a follow-up to this one released, so there.

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Tomorr, Tomorr

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Formed in Italy with Albanian roots, Tomorr position themselves as rural doom, which to an American reader will sound like ‘country,’ but that’s not what’s happening here. Instead, three-piece are attempting to capture a raw, village-minded sound, with purposeful homage to the places outside the cities of Europe made into sludge riffing and the significant, angular lumber of “Grazing Land.” I’m not sure it works all the time — the riff in the second half of “Varr” calls to mind “Dopesmoker” more than anti-urbane sensibilities, and wants nothing for crush — but as it’s their debut, Tomorr deserve credit for approaching doom from an individualized mindset, and the bulk of the six-song/48-minute offering does boast a sound that is on the way to being the band’s own, if not already there. There’s room for incorporating folk progressions and instrumentation if Tomorr want to go that route, but something about the raw approach they have on their self-titled is satisfying on its own level — a meeting of impulses creative and destructive at some lost dirt crossroads.

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Temple of the Fuzz Witch, Red Tide

temple of the fuzz witch red tide

Well what the hell do you think Temple of the Fuzz Witch sounds like? They’re heavy as shit. Of course they are. The Detroiters heralded doomly procession on their 2019 self-titled demo/EP (review here), and the subsequent debut full-length Red Tide, is righteously plodding riffery, Sabbathian without just being the riff to “Electric Funeral” and oblivion-bound nod that’s so filled with smoke it’s practically coughing. What goes on behind the doors of the Temple? Volume, kid. Give me the chug of “The Others” any and every day of the week, I don’t give a fuck if Temple of the Fuzz Witch are reinventing the wheel or not. All I wanna do is put on “Ungoliant” and nod out to the riff that sounds like “The Chosen Few” and be left in peace. Fuck you man. I ain’t bothering anyone. You’re the one with the problem, not me. This guy knows what I’m talking about. Side B of this record will eat your fucking soul, but only after side A has tenderized the meat. Hyperbole? Fuck you.

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Karkara, Nowhere Land

karkara nowhere land

Rife with adventurous and Middle Eastern-inflected heavy psychedelia, Nowhere Land is the follow-up to Toulouse, France-based Karkara‘s 2019 debut, Crystal Gazer (review here), and it finds the three-piece pushing accordingly into broader spaces of guitar-led freakery. Would you imagine a song called “Space Caravan” has an open vibe? You’d be correct. Same goes for “People of Nowhere Land,” which even unto its drum beat feels like some kind of folk dance turned fuzz-drenched lysergic excursion. The closing pair of “Cards” and “Witch” feel purposefully teamed up to round out the 36-minute outing, but maybe that’s just the overarching ethereal nature of the release as a whole coming through as Karkara manage to transport their listener from this place to somewhere far more liquid, languid, and encompassing, full of winding motion in “Falling Gods” and graceful post-grunge drift in “Setting Sun.”

Karkara on Thee Facebooks

Stolen Body Records website

 

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California Desert Wizards Association Launches CDWA Records & Announce Live in the Mojave Desert Series

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 13th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

The California Desert Wizards Association, in case you’re unfamiliar, are the good souls behind putting together the Stoned and Dusted festival, desert heavy loyalists through and through. This makes the launch of CDWA Records only good news. And kudos to the nascent imprint for doing it in style and announcing not only a first release, but a series of five live albums and videos — LP, CD, DVD — all slated to have online premieres in the early-going of 2021.

The lineup for Live in the Mojave Desert Vols. 1-5 is a powerhouse assemblage of legends and upstarts. Led off by Earthless and Nebula, before dipping into the heavy psych-gaze of Spirit Mother (whose March 2020 offering, Cadets, has been undeservedly lost in the plague shuffle of this year but is a gem nonetheless) and the inexplicable dark forces of Mountain Tamer before unveiling a new Brant Bjork/Nick Oliveri collaboration in Stoner.

Cheers to Ryan Jones of the CDWA on the ambitious kickoff for the new project, and here’s looking forward to hearing this stuff and seeing the videos with Mad Alchemy and the bands. Killer.

Details follow, courtesy of Jones via the PR wire:

cdwa records logo

CDWA Announces Live in the Mojave Desert Livesteam Series

Well, well, well, have we got some big news for you California Desert Wizards. We at the CDWA have been busy! I’m very proud to announce the formation of CDWA Records; created to film, record and bring you concert films and live albums from your favorite stoner and desert rock bands made entirely in the far flung parts of the desert. Coming in Winter 2021, we bring you the first in our concert film series:

LIVE IN THE MOJAVE DESERT VOLS. 1 – 5

5 New Concert Films + 5 New Albums

Filmed and Recorded Live in the Mojave Desert, California

EARTHLESS
NEBULA
SPIRIT MOTHER
MOUNTAIN TAMER and
STONER A heavy new project from BRANT BJORK + RYAN GUT + NICK OLIVERI
With the MAD ALCHEMY LIQUID LIGHT SHOW lighting up the desert!!

Our 2020 Stoned and Dusted party got canceled by Covid. We had to do something rad for all you rockers who bought airfare, booked hotels, bought tickets to the show and then had to get it all refunded, what we call “no-fun”ded. So we filmed Yawning Man at Giant Rock. We filmed Brant Bjork among the Joshua trees at sunset. And in May 2020 we brought you Couchlock and Rock: an online, hosted, break-out-the-bong, concert film watch party. We loved it. We wanted more. So we made more.

In October 2020 we filmed and recorded five bands in four days, deep in the deep sand and iconic rocks of the desert. It was pretty wild getting all of our gear out there. But we did it and it was waaaaay worth it!
24 track Pro Tools recordings
“All the sounds blew my mind”!
The Mad Alchemy Liquid Light Show projecting on a 4 story high, double pyramid of boulders and a crack squad of badass filmmakers and photographers there to capture it
“All the colors made me blind!”
Holy shit are you in for a treat!!

Coming just in time for a cold, quarantined winter, we will live host five concert film premiers online and release the five albums coming out on vinyl. At the end of November, tickets and albums will go on sale so you Desert Wizards can watch together online, rock out, chat, joke and smoke. We can’t wait to share it with you!

Start drying your fall harvest so it’s ready in time. Check out the video below, and (puff, puff) pass it on to your friends.

Cheers and thanks and stay healthy,
Ryan

http://www.CaliforniaDesertWizardsAssociation.com
https://instagram.com/CDWAOfficial
https://www.facebook.com/StonedandDusted

California Desert Wizards Association Records, Live in the Mojave Desert Vols. 1-5 teaser

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Monolith on the Mesa Lineup Confirmed; Om, Dead Meadow, Wovenhand, The Obsessed, Cloud Catcher & More to Play

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 25th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

monolith on the mesa banner

So, uh, you wanna go get weird in the desert for a weekend? Sure, we all do. And if you’re up for making it the trip of a lifetime, Monolith on the Mesa has a bunch of decked-out vintage trailers available for you to hide from the New Mexico sun while you wait for the show to start. From the pre-party to The Obsessed headlining the second day, the inaugural edition of Monolith on the Mesa looks like the stuff of pilgrimage dreams. Om and Dead Meadow? Wovenhand? Tia Carrera jamming in a brewery? Duel? It’s an obviously curated lineup very purposefully put together with the setting in mind, and whether it’s the indoor or outdoor stage, it’s easy to see where it has the potential to be an incredible time. I’ve gone on at some length about the growth of US festival culture over the course of this decade. Look no further if you need an example of the fruit that would seem to be bearing.

If you make it down, congratulations on your life. You pretty much win.

Lineup and ticket links as per the social medias:

monolith on the mesa poster

Monolith on the Mesa: A High Desert Rock & Art Experience

Join Us On May 16th, 17th, & 18th In Taos New Mexico At Taos Mesa Brewing Mothership For Monolith on the Mesa A High Desert Rock Experience Like Non Other! A Music Festival with Art Visuals & Installations from Local NM Artists. And Of Course Some Of The Worlds Finest Dark, Psych, Stoner, Doom & Heavy Rock from All Over the Globe and SW Region! Browse Our Website monolithonthemesa.com For VIP And check out our Vintage Trailer Packages!!

http://www.monolithonthemesa.com/vintage-trailer-experience/

Hold My Ticket Link:
Pre party Show* https://holdmyticket.com/event/329481
2 Day Pass Ticket * https://holdmyticket.com/event/329524
Day 1 Pass Ticket * https://holdmyticket.com/event/329477
Day 2 Pass Ticket * https://holdmyticket.com/event/329482

MotherShip Outside Stage: Featuring Visuals By Mad Alchemist Liquid Light Show * Day 1: OM * Dead Meadow * Wovenhand * True Widow * EYE * Green Druid * Spirit Mother** Day 2: The Obsessed * Pinkish Black * Castle * The Well * Crypt Trip * WEEED * Cloud Catcher * The Munsens

Taos Mesa Worshipper Inside Stage: Day 1: * Tia Carrera * Wino (Acoustic) * Lord Buffalo * Pharlee * SuperGiant * YOU * Via Vengence * Deep Cross** Day 2 Duel * Stone Deaf * In The Company Of Serpents * Pale Horse\Pale Rider * Communion * Oryx * Sorex * Dysphotic * Devil’s Throne

https://www.facebook.com/events/260645364631316/
https://www.facebook.com/monolithonthemesa
https://www.instagram.com/monolithonthemesa/
http://www.monolithonthemesa.com/

Dead Meadow, “Good Moanin'” live at Endless Daze Fest 2018

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