Swans Announce Live Lineup & Euro Tour; Leaving Meaning out Friday

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

swans (Photo by Jennifer Gira)

Swans founder Michael Gira is currently on a solo tour in Europe — he’ll be in Slovenia tomorrow, if you’re in the neighborhood — and the band are getting ready to release the much-anticipated Leaving Meaning on Friday. All that’s pretty awesome, but adding a tour announcement never hurts either, so European shows it is. I can’t help but notice this run starts just a few days after Roadburn ends, so I’m going to keep my fingers crossed for that or otherwise look out for the US-dates announcement that’s reportedly coming soon. Either way, it’s Swans, so one wants to show up and receive the due skull-caving.

The live lineup that will play on the European and presumably also the US tour has been unveiled as well, including a few familiar faces, including Dana Schecter, also of Insect Ark, and fellow past Swans contributors Kristof Hahn, Christopher Pravdica and Phil Puleo. Ben Frost, listed on guitar and synth/Mellotron below, also plays on Leaving Meaning but doesn’t seem to have been in the band at any point prior. New face.

Alright then, on to the dates and whatnot:

This collection of individuals will comprise the musical group Swans in live performance in 2020 (see dates below). They will interpret material from the album “leaving meaning.” as well as perform new, unrecorded material…

Christopher Pravdica – bass guitar, weird-ass sounds, keyboards, loops;
Dana Schechter – bass guitar, lap steel, keyboard;
Ben Frost – Synthesizer, Mellotron, electric guitar;
Kristof Hahn – lap steel, electric guitar, loops;
Phil Puleo – drums, percussion, hammer dulcimer;
Michael Gira – acoustic and electric guitars, voice…

Here are the European shows that have been booked (US shows announcing soon):

4/26/2020 Krems an der Donau A Donau Festival at Stadtsaal Krems
4/28/2020 Berlin DE Festsaal Kreuzberg
4/29/2020 Prague CZ Divaldo ARCHA Theatre
4/30/2020 Warsaw PL Progresia
5/3/2020 Stockholm S Nalen
5/4/2020 Copenhagen DK Vega Main Hall
5/5/2020 Hamburg DE Übel & Gefährlich
5/8/2020 Barcelona ES Razzmatazz
5/9/2020 Madrid ES Sala la Riviera
5/10/2020 Porto PT Hard Club
5/13/2020 Zürich CH Rote Fabrik Ziegel oh Lac
5/14/2020 Milan IT Santeria Social Club
5/15/2020 Belfort F La Poudriere
5/18/2020 Wiesbaden DE Kulturzentrum Schlachthof
5/19/2020 Paris FR Le Trabendo
5/20/2020 Amsterdam NL Paradiso Music Hall
5/22/2020 Brussels BE AB
5/23/2020 Cologne DE Gebaeude 9
5/26/2020 London UK EartH
5/27/2020 London UK EartH

Remaining Michael Gira solo tour dates:
23 Oct – Ljubljana, Slovenia
25 Oct – Bucharest, Romania
26 Oct – Cluj-napoca, Romania
28 Oct – Warsaw, Poland
29 Oct – Warsaw, Poland
31 Oct – Kyiv, Ukraine
1 Nov – Vilnius, Lithuania
2 Nov – Helsinki, Finland

Album pre-order: http://smarturl.it/SWANS-LM

http://www.facebook.com/SwansOfficial
https://swans.bandcamp.com
http://www.younggodrecords.com/

Swans, “It’s Coming it’s Real”

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Swans Announce New Album Leaving Meaning out Oct. 25; New Song Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 6th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

swans (Photo by Jennifer Gira)

Alright, sit tight, because there’s a lot going on here. First off, there’s a new Swans record. It’s called Leaving Meaning, it’s out Oct. 25 and it’s available to preorder now from Young God Records. 2CD/2LP. Neat. Second, Michael Gira is introducing a new lineup for the band here, and below, he takes the time to list out the contributors to the new record. There are many of them, some of whom have been involved in Swans before, some who were in woefully underappreciated Gira‘s other outfit, Angels of Light, and some not.

Perhaps most importantly, there’s a new song. It’s called “It’s Coming it’s Real,” and its buildup of tension absolutely lives up to that title. Choral vocals from Anna and Maria von Hauswolff don’t hurt either, but it should go without saying that Gira is in command as much as anyone ever is. He’ll also tour Europe with Norman Westberg next month. Those dates are below. Swans will tour to support the album in Spring. Those dates are not.

From the PR wire:

swans leaving meaning

SWANS – LEAVING MEANING THE FIFTEENTH STUDIO ALBUM OUT ON YOUNG GOD RECORDS / MUTE ( OUTSIDE OF N AMERICA) 25 OCT 2019

SWANS Leaving Meaning is the band’s fifteenth studio album, the follow up to 2016’s The Glowing Man and due for release by Mute / Young God Records (N America) on 25 October 2019. Leaving Meaning will be released on double vinyl in a brown chipboard sleeve, double CD in a brown chipboard digipack and digitally.

Written and produced by Michael Gira, the album features contributions from recent and former Swans, members of Angels of Light as well as Guest Artists Anna and Maria von Hausswolff, Ben Frost, The Necks, Baby Dee, and a Hawk and a Hacksaw – full personnel list below.

Michael Gira explains, “Leaving Meaning is the first Swans album to be released since I dissolved the lineup of musicians that constituted Swans from 2010 – 2017. Swans is now comprised of a revolving cast of musicians, selected for both their musical and personal character, chosen according to what I intuit best suits the atmosphere in which I’d like to see the songs I’ve written presented. In collaboration with me, the musicians, through their personality, skill and taste, contribute greatly to the arrangement of the material. They’re all people whose work I admire and whose company I personally enjoy.”

“Here below are the primary contributors to Leaving Meaning:

Michael Gira – Vocals, words, acoustic/electric guitar, production. I started Swans in NYC in 1982 and have been the primary songwriter, singer and producer throughout the years. In the early years I played bass, but later switched to guitar. During the years of Swans hiatus (1999 – 2010), I released several albums by and toured with a group called Angels of Light.

Kristof Hahn – Lap steel, various guitars throughout, backing vocals, generous and insightful advice on mixes and arrangements. Kristof first became involved with Swans in 1989, was a principal contributor to Angels of Light, and a core Swans member 2010 – 2017. Kristof’s other musical ventures have included the Rock ‘n’ Roll Noir band Les Hommes Sauvages and Kool Kings (with Alex Chilton). He’s currently working on an instrumental record for Lawrence English’s label, Room 40. He holds a master’s degree in Political Science, and when Swans doesn’t pay the bills, he translates books for a living. Kristof’s presence, on and off tape, is pivotal to this record. Kristof lives in Berlin, Germany.

Larry Mullins – Drums, vibes, orchestral percussion, Mellotron, various keyboards, backing vocals. Larry (AKA Toby Dammit) is a trained symphonic percussionist and all-around consummate musician. He played through the 90s with Iggy Pop and later with The Stooges. He played with Swans in the late 90s and was a main contributor to Angels of Light. He is rumored to have been involved with The Residents. His varied and numerous credits also include a stint with Silver Apples as well as recently, Shakespears Sister. His current main job is playing keyboards with Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. I decided immediately to ask Larry to contribute to Leaving Meaning after watching the German TV series Babylon Berlin, and suddenly, unbeknownst to me, there was Larry as the main focus of various cabaret scenes, drumming behind a huge kick drum in his inimitable style. After laughing in shock for perhaps half an hour, I decided to contact him. We hadn’t been in close touch for a long time and I’m elated I reached out. Larry lives in Berlin, Germany.

Yoyo Röhm – Electric bass, double bass, various keyboards, piano, backing vocals. Yoyo came to my attention through his work with Kristof and Larry in Berlin. In addition to his excellent bass playing, Yoyo’s ears were invaluable in helping to sort out many of the arrangements. Yoyo plays with numerous left field musicians around Berlin and also works with Mick Harvey on his Serge Gainsbourg recordings and tours. Yoyo, Larry, Kristof and I rehearsed in Berlin for 3 weeks prior to recording. Yoyo is a true Berliner – gruff and determined on the outside, a marshmallow inside. He was a great musical resource for this record.

The Necks – (Chris Abrahams – piano, organ; Tony Buck – drums, percussion; Lloyd Swanton – double bass). I have been an avid Necks fan since I first saw them perform at a Big Ears Festival in 2010. They subsequently played with Swans at a few shows in Australia. Their live performances and recordings are just about any superlative you can think of – mesmerizing, transcendent, sublime. Their music is entirely improvisational – it’s my understanding that they have no idea what they’re going to play before they start. And yet, mostly using rudimentary jazz trio instrumentation, they manage to fashion burgeoning and ever-evolving, immersive clouds of sound that utterly envelop the listener as the music unfolds. I’m beyond honored and humbled that they agreed to perform the basic tracks for 2 of my songs (The Nub and Leaving Meaning). Their performances were then delicately, and (I hope!) tastefully further orchestrated upon in Berlin. Tony lives in Berlin, and also played drums on the song Some New Things.

Anna and Maria von Hausswolff – Choral backing vocals. Anna is blessed with a soaring voice, lyrical acuity and increasing facility with the church organ. I was impressed recently to learn that she often travels around Europe and visits churches unannounced, where she talks her way into being allowed to use the resident organ – some of them rather massive, I imagine – and plays and explores for hours. Her searing records and live shows reflect the courage of her imagination and have garnered her increasing, much deserved recognition. Maria is an accomplished Swedish cinematographer and director of photography. In 2017 I heard Anna and Maria singing together at a sound check for a special song they were doing in Anna’s set, was instantly enthralled, and resolved at that moment to ask them to participate together on a Swans recording. I’m delighted they agreed to come to Berlin and record for me. They were a joy to work with! They live in Scandinavia.

Ben Frost – Guitar, synthesizers, sound manipulations. Ben’s adventurous sound-craftings, sometimes harrowing and sometimes delicate and quite musical, and his powerful live shows, have afforded him much recognition of late. I’ve also been highly impressed with his soundtrack work for the HBO series, Dark. He’s an extremely talented arranger and composer. His mission for this record was intentionally ill defined. I basically wanted his ears and sensibility, with no particular part or instrument in mind. I arrived at his studio in Reykjavik, Iceland, put up the songs, and he played what he thought a song needed. I was pleasantly surprised to discover his unique approach to the electric guitar as well as his synth work. Ben also was quite helpful with arrangement and mixing ideas. Ben lives in Iceland.

Baby Dee – Lead vocal on The Nub, supported by her friends Fay Christen and Ida Albertje Michels, and Jennifer Gira. Dee has released numerous records (one produced by Bonnie Prince Billie, I think), and if you don’t know them, you should! The first time I saw her she was riding a unicycle in circles outside the now-defunct Avant club, Tonic, in NYC, playing a ukulele (or accordion?) and singing with great mirth. I saw her set that night and was won over. She’s since toured with Swans several times. Her music could loosely be called neo cabaret, but more accurately she’s totally unique and a great performer and songwriter, graced with a powerful voice and high-end ability on the piano, accordion and more. I wrote The Nub specifically for her to sing. I was stymied for words to the main guitar figure to the song, and suddenly she popped into my mind, floating through the universe in diapers, sucking milk from the stars. The song wrote itself. Dee lives in The Netherlands.

Jeremy Barnes and Heather Trost – Jeremy: Santur, hi-hat, fiddlesticks, accordion, engineering; Heather: Stroh violin, violin, viola, fiddlesticks, engineering. Together, Jeremy and Heather comprise the band A Hawk and a Hacksaw. (Jeremy played at one time with the bands Neutral Milk Hotel and Beirut). Again, if you don’t know their music, you should! They’ve released several records. It’s Balkan/Gypsy influenced, somewhat psychedelicized, with great singing, playing and melodies. They’re each multi-instrumentalists and they intrepidly travel the world, both touring and simply exploring the Balkans, in search of adventure and master musicians of the region, some of whom they simply befriend, others whom they record. They toured with Swans a while ago, and I’ve had it in the back of my mind to ask them to record on a record since. I travelled to their home studio in Albuquerque, New Mexico, presented the songs, and did the same thing I did with Ben – I said, “Now what?” You can hear them on several songs on the record, sometimes subtly, at other times more pronounced. In any event, it’s great to have such a pair of wonderful humans on the record.

ADDITIONAL MUSICIANS:

Dana Schechter – Dana played bass on the song ‘Some New Things’. Dana was a core member of Angels of Light. Her current band is Insect Ark. It’s rather heavy and great. Will be working with Dana more soon in the future and very pleased we reconnected recently.

Jennifer Gira – Backing vocals throughout and cameo vocal on Sunfucker. Jennifer has sung backing vocals on the past few Swans albums as well as lead vocal on the song When Will I Return? on the last Swans album, The Glowing Man. She’s also of invaluable help on mixing and arrangement decisions.

Cassis Staudt – Accordion and harmonium. Cassis was a core member of Angels of Light. She moved to Berlin some time ago and we lost touch. Cassis is a composer of music for films in Berlin. I’m very happy to be working with her again.

Norman Westberg – Electric guitar. Norman played on a few key moments on this record. Norman has been in and out of Swans since the beginning (mostly in) and was a core Swans member in 2010 – 2017. We’ll continue to work together into the future, absolutely. Norman releases solo instrumental records through Lawrence English’s Room 40 label. We’re touring (each solo) together in Eastern Europe soon.

Christopher Pravdica – Bass guitar, sounds. Chris played at pivotal moments on this record. He was a core Swans member in 2010 – 2017. We’ll continue to work together in the future, absolutely. Chris has recently been enlisted by Jamie Stewart for his band Xiu Xiu.

Phil Puleo – Phil played hammer dulcimer on the song Amnesia. This might be considered a severe underutilization of his considerable talents as a drummer, but there’s more to come quite soon. Phil was a core member in Swans 2010 – 2017 and played as a member of Swans in the late 90s and contributed to Angels of Light.

Thor Harris – percussion, trumpet, clarinet, sounds, bells, gizmos, additional vibes. Thor drove up from Austin to record for me at Heather and Jeremy’s place in Albuquerque. Always a highpoint to be in the presence of this committed musician and friend. Thor was a core member of Swans in 2010 – 2016 as well as Angels of Light. Certainly, more to come! Thor has his own happening combo, Thor and friends, and they make seductive and beautiful records and tour often. He also has recently been recruited by Jamie for Xiu Xiu.

Paul Wallfisch – Paul played piano to great effect here and there on the record. Paul was a touring member of Swans in 2017. He works with the glorious human chanteuse Little Annie. He’s also a musical director for theater productions in Germany, and recently landed a very fancy-pants job as musical director/composer for a theater production at a historical theater in Vienna.

Thanks to All!!!!
MG”

In autumn, Michael Gira will be touring select cities on a solo tour with Norman Westberg. Swans will tour in the spring of 2020.

11 Oct – Skanu Mezs Festival – Riga, Latvia
13 Oct – Saint Petersburg, Russia
15 Oct – Moskva, Russia
18 Oct – Athina, Greece
19 Oct – Thessaloniki, Greece
23 Oct – Ljubljana, Slovenia
25 Oct – Bucharest, Romania
26 Oct – Cluj-napoca, Romania
28 Oct – Warsaw, Poland
29 Oct – Warsaw, Poland
31 Oct – Kyiv, Ukraine
1 Nov – Vilnius, Lithuania
2 Nov – Helsinki, Finland

Leaving Meaning Tracklisting:
Hums
Annaline
The Hanging Man
Amnesia – with Anna and Maria von Hausswolff on backing vocals
Leaving Meaning – feat.The Necks
Sunfucker – with Anna and Maria von Hausswolff on backing vocals
Cathedrals of Heaven
The Nub – with Baby Dee on guest vocals, also feat. The Necks
It’s Coming It’s Real – feat. Anna and Maria von Hausswolff on backing vocals
Some New Things – digital / CD only
What Is This
My Phantom Limb

Pre-order: http://smarturl.it/SWANS-LM

http://www.facebook.com/SwansOfficial
https://swans.bandcamp.com
http://www.younggodrecords.com/

Swans, “It’s Coming it’s Real”

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Swans Reissuing Soundtracks for the Blind Through Young God Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 22nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

You know, I’ll admit it. Sometimes I just post about Swans stuff to torture myself. Because the truth is, when it comes to the landmark, groundbreaking, etc., etc., New York avant garde, way ahead of the curve on the whole go-fuck-yourself thing outfit Swans, I’m a novice at best. At best. They’re an easy band to appreciate, but always a challenge. So when I see stuff like, “Oh here’s a 4LP set of Soundtracks for the Blind, I say to myself, “Well I’m definitely going to post about that, because I sure would like to own it.” But all the Swans stuff — and yes, I mean all of it — sells out before I even get there. It’s all super-limited runs and basically it stops when Michael Gira says so, and that’s well before I manage to save my pennies. So as they’ve done to so many over their decades, Swans leave me in the dust. Continuously. So it goes.

Soundtracks for the Blind was the last Swans record before the dissolution of the band, and it would be 14 years after its release before they managed to put out another album. Imagine that purge. Yikes.

Since it’s a reissue, it’s streaming now from the band’s Bandcamp page, which apparently exists. It’s at the bottom of the post, where one often finds those kinds of things around here.

From the PR wire:

swans soundtracks for the blind

Swans – “Soundtracks For The Blind” deluxe reissue

Much requested by Swans fans, the vinyl package will consist of four LPs in jackets enclosed in a box with a poster, insert and download card. The box set will be a limited edition of 4,000 copies worldwide and once sold out will be followed later in 2018 by a gatefold LP version. The album will also be reissued on CD featuring a repackage of the original digipak for the 1996 Atavistic release plus a bonus disc of the contemporaneous Die Tür Ist Zu EP (a German language version of some of the material from Soundtracks that also includes unique material) recently released for the first time on vinyl in the USA for Record Store Day 2018. Outside of the USA Die Tür Ist Zu EP will be released as a limited edition companion piece double vinyl set, also on 20th July.

“This album has everything in there – all the ideas from Swans’ initial 15 years of work. There’s some contemporary recordings of the band as it existed in ’96/7, with Larry Mullins on drums/percussion, Jarboe singing and playing keyboards, Vudi playing electric guitar, and Joe Goldring playing bass and electric guitar, and me singing and playing electric and acoustic guitar, but there’s also a huge amount of sounds and recordings that Jarboe and I collected over the years. These are reassembled, looped, mangled, and in many cases overdubbed upon to create new pieces of music… I really set my own trap, dug my own grave on this one. There was SO MUCH material to deal with, to sift through (whole trunks full of decomposing, moldy cassettes and discs with samples and sounds), and the task of making it into something coherent was at times debilitating. Really like climbing up a mountain of sand. I don’t remember why I set this goal for myself, to somehow incorporate such a ridiculously disparate amount of material. I think maybe it was so I could justify throwing all that crap into the local dump, which is what I did when I finished the album. But in the end, after centuries of picking at this huge iceberg of material with a toothpick, my trusty engineer Chris Griffin and I managed to sculpt something out of it. It actually breathes, seems to live, in most places I think. … When I decided to reform Swans in 2010 Soundtracks was what I referred to as a starting point” – Michael Gira / Swans 2018

Available for pre-order now at the Young God web store: https://bit.ly/2jHU3Ir

Michael Gira has also announced a short West Coast run of solo acoustic dates this Fall. Support on all dates will be Swans guitarist Norman Westberg. Dates are as follows:

9/27/2018 Los Angeles CA Regent Theatre
9/29/2018 Berkeley CA The UC Theatre
10/4/2018 Portland OR The Old Church Concert Hall
10/5/2018 Seattle WA Columbia City Theater

NYC show to be confirmed soon

“Now that this last phase of Swans is over, I’m not quite sure it actually happened. It’s already fading, like most things. I think we achieved something there though, and it was good after shows to go out and meet people and get a sense of how the music has affected them, either that night or through the years. I’m always touched when I hear the music has had a salutary effect on someone, since it’s had the same effect on me – which is why I do it. So, even if the details are increasingly hazy, I feel we’ve left something positive behind, and perhaps contributed something worthwhile.

Now, as is natural, I’m looking towards what comes next. I’m currently writing new material for the next phase of Swans, some of which I’ll perform on my upcoming solo tours. Sitting there alone on stage with a dead piece of wood and some wires and just my voice is a challenge I set for myself a number of years ago, trying to fully inhabit the same thread that’s run through the music all along, with the simplest of means. I think I’ve gotten pretty good at it over time. I play the guitar my own way. I’ve never really learned how to play it conventionally and I don’t care to do so. I could just as easily be hitting two rocks together. It provides a context for the voice and words, and just as in the music of Swans, when all the elements (known and unknowable) combine, it can lead to something beyond itself, which is always the place I’d like to go: somewhere else. I hope to see you there.”
– Michael Gira / Swans 2018

http://www.facebook.com/SwansOfficial
https://swans.bandcamp.com
http://www.younggodrecords.com/

Swans, Soundtracks for the Blind (1996)

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Michael Gira European Solo Tour on Now; New Short Story Collection Available

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 8th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Swans founder and spearhead Michael Gira will spend much of the rest of this month on tour in Europe. In the latest update from his label, Young God Records, Gira gives a rundown of plans current and future that include more Swans reissues and a live album — no doubt they’ve already sold completely through their pressings even though they don’t exist yet; that’s kind of how it goes with Young God stuff; any hesitation leads only to regret — and notes a new short story collection titled The Egg that’s now available through the Young God site and at shows. I’ve never read any of Gira‘s work before, but hell yes I’d check that out. Dude has perspective to spare, certainly.

Of course, the future of Swans is kind of up in the air at the moment as Gira disbanded the lineup after wrapping the touring cycle for 2016’s The Glowing Man (review here), but until/if that band resurfaces, either way there was never any question he’d be keeping plenty busy.

The latest update follows the creepiest picture I’ll post here this week. Seriously. Here it is. You ready?

Okay:

m gira

M.Gira Solo Tour + The Egg

Short note here to let you know that my Europe Solo Tour commences on February 6.

If you’re interested, tour dates and ticket info here: https://younggodrecords.com/pages/tour-dates

I’ve been working on new songs, and I’ll be performing those as well as some older material.

The new songs are the first steps on my way to formulating the next Swans album. They’re quite heavy on the words – the longest narrative songs I’ve written. Still finding my way into them, but I think they’re good. If you attend one of the shows, I hope they offer something worthwhile… I suspect that the next Swans album will be a variety of these songs, highly (and I hope, tastefully) orchestrated, and then perhaps in opposition some more atmospheric pieces which will draw on and extend the approach evidenced in the more “sfumato” moments on the last few Swans albums… That’s a long way off, and a lot of work and thought involved before I embark on that next venture. In the meantime, I’ll be doing a series of short Solo Tours, both in Europe and USA…

I’ve completed a new collection of short stories, written over the past year or so. It’s called The Egg, and it’s available here: https://younggodrecords.com/products/michael-gira-the-egg

The collection features some rather vivid and wonderful illustrations by Nicole Boitos. It’s a limited edition. It can be found at the link or at my live shows… I thought for a while that this area of my mind was closed off forever, but as it happens, the spigot has opened up a bit and I hope to have more fiction in the near future…

Soundtracks for the Blind is finished and is in the pipeline. It’s taken forever to figure out the packaging and to master it properly. It will be available as a 4xVinyl set, as well as a 3xCD (the 3rd CD is the long out of print Die Tur Ist Zu). Release for Soundtracks will be in May. Die Tur Ist Zu will also be available soon as a limited 3 sided vinyl release, the 4th side being an etched graphic. It will be available for Record Store Day, April 21st in North America (Mute to release at a later date).

Later in the year, we’ll also be putting together a live Swans album of material from this recent, now past formidable line up. We did a great deal of live recordings. I’m still sifting through it…

And more Swans catalog rereleases of course along the way…

Much Love to You! – Michael Gira / Swans / Young God Records

https://www.facebook.com/younggodrecords/
https://younggodrecords.com/

M. Gira, “Promise of Water” Live in NYC 2007

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Desert Survival: How to Do Psycho Las Vegas on a Budget

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 18th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

psycho las vegas 2017 banner

Hey, if you’re going to go broke, let’s face it: You’re not likely to run into many causes as worthy as the lineup culled together for Psycho Las Vegas. It ain’t cheap — any event that advertises a payment plan obviously knows it’s a considerable ask — but whether you’re going to see Slo Burn for their only US gig or King Diamond doing Abigail or Mulatu Astatke because going to see Mulatu Astatke is a life-event, the arguments in favor are plentiful and convincing. Whatever else you want to say, Psycho Las Vegas is the first annually-held American festival with a focus on heavy and underground rock to really establish itself as world class.

That in itself is a reason to support the cause, whether it’s through a day ticket or a pass for the entire weekend, but it doesn’t necessarily lesson the expense of making the trip or staying in one of the US’ most lucrative tourist traps, let alone things like band merchandise, meals and the occasional adult beverage if you’re inclined to have one. The thought of seeing NeurosisSleep and Carcass share a stage over the course of a weekend or watching Conan, the new trio-incarnation of Pentagram and Yawning Man poolside or from the balcony of a room in the Casino Tower is incredible, and after hearing stories from those who undertook the journey in 2016 or attended the prior Psycho California in 2015, the idea wants nothing for appeal. Fiscal issues can be a bummer. By the time August rolls around, I’ll have been out of paid work for two months. I know how it goes.

And I’m hardly the most responsible person when it comes to money, but the truth of the matter is there are ways to mitigate costs for travel, lodging and other concerns, and if the thing preventing you from picking up a ticket to the show has been the seeming impossibility of affording a stay at the Hard Rock or of finding a cheap-enough flight to get there, maybe it’s worth trying to shift finances around to make it happen. Music is important, and when debt collectors are spamming your phone it’s hard to think about the non-cash value of life experiences, but the fact is the bills you need to pay will still be there. The bill with Corrosion of Conformity in a lineup alongside Kylesa‘s Laura Pleasants, Domkraft, Swans, Elephant Tree and Heavy Temple? Much less so.

Here are a few pointers that hopefully can save you a couple bucks. Some of it’s day-one stuff, but things like hotel picks and transportation nuances are good to know either way.

Check it out:

psycho-las-vegas-2017-poster

Flying In
• Buy tickets on a Tuesday for the cheapest rates.
• Use a discount flight search.
• If you can, fly in on Thursday and leave on Monday for better rates, search different days and times to come in and leave.
• Book early. Rates go up in the summer.

Getting There
• Ride apps cost less than cabs.
• The Hard Rock is less than a mile from the airport. Cheap trip anyway.
• There are free shuttles from most Vegas hotels to the strip and tourist attractions.

Staying There
• This one is huge… don’t stay at the Hard Rock if you can’t afford it! Alexis Park, RUMOR, Red Roof Inn are all across the street and cheap. Scope out a position on a map if you need to; that’s what Street View is there for.
• Partner up to share rooms. You’ve got social media and it’s not like you’re going to do more than sleep and (hopefully) shower there anyway. Might as well join forces and save expense where you can.

Drinks
• BYO. Vegas has open-container laws. If you think hooch is too expensive at the Hard Rock, get loaded on the sidewalk before you go in.
• One way or another, hydrate. You’re staying in the desert in August. Don’t be stupid.

Psycho Las Vegas 2017 Lineup
Abbath, Ace Frehley, Black Anvil, Blood Ceremony, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Buzzov*en, Carcass, Celeste, Chelsea Wolfe, Cirith Ungol, Cloud Catcher, Code Orange, Conan, Corrosion of Conformity, Cough, Cult Leader, Cult Of Luna With Julie Christmas Diamond Head, Domkraft, Earthless, Elephant Tree, Eternal Tapestry, Fister, Floorian, Gatecreeper, GEQ, Gojira, Gost, Graf Orlock, Heavy Temple, Hollow Leg, Inter Arma, Khemmis, King Diamond, Laura Pleasants & Special Guests, Magma, Manilla Road, Merlin, Minsk, Morne, Mothership, Mouth of the Architect, Mulatu Astatke, Murder City Devils, Mustard Gas & Roses, Myrkur, Neurosis, North, Oathbreaker, Pelican, Pentagram, Psychic TV, The Rods, Ruby the Hatchet, Sasquatch, Saturndust, Sleep, Slo Burn, Slomatics, Snail, Sons of Otis, Sumac, Summoner, Swans, The Skull, Toke, Urchin, Usnea, Vhol, Weedeater, Windhand, Wizard Rifle, Wolves in the Throne Room, Yawning Man, Year of the Cobra, Youngblood Supercult, Zeal & Ardor.

http://www.vivapsycho.com
https://www.facebook.com/psychoLasVegas
https://www.instagram.com/psycholasvegas

Pentagram, “Relentless / Broken Vows” Live in Richmond, VA, 2017

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Psycho Las Vegas 2017 Makes Massive Lineup Announcement; Slo Burn, Vhöl, Pelican, Chelsea Wolfe, Melvins and Many More Added

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 17th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Take a deep breath before you dive into the new lineup announcement from Psycho Las Vegas 2017. With 35-plus bands added, it officially qualifies as huge, and considering who those bands are — Slo Burn for a US-exclusive, plus bringing over the likes of Elephant Tree to play alongside SummonerHollow LegGatecreeper and others — it can be a lot to take in. If you haven’t had a meal yet today, you might want to eat something. Make sure you’re hydrated. Basically I want to avoid anyone fainting as a result of reading the list of bands. If you’re sensitive to flashing lights… you’re probably okay. But otherwise, check to see you have something soft to land on nearby, should you need it.

I missed Psycho this year owing to a new job and a general lack of funds. I’m not sure I can do the same in 2017. This one might just be a gotta-go kind of scenario. Fuckin’ Slomatics are gonna be there.

There are still more than 40 bands to announce, including headliners, whose names will be out at random points over the next 30 days.

Jeebus.

To the PR wire:

psycho las vegas 2017

Psycho Las Vegas 2017

August 18, 2017 – August 20, 2017
Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Las Vegas

Psycho Las Vegas today announces over 35 new additions to its massive 2017 lineup. The festival has quickly become the premier event in the US for underground heavy rock, psych, doom, alternative and beyond, and as the roster grows for this year’s edition, they’re clearly looking to push their boundaries even further.

Headliners remain TBA, but joining previously-announced generation-defining acts like Neurosis, Swans and French prog lords Magma, come UK grind legends Carcass, whose reunion continues to bring gruesome tales of dissections and unparalleled.

They’ll be in good company with Norwegian black metal legend Abbath, formerly of Immortal, who released a raging self-titled debut album under his own name this year, New York’s Myrkur, whose own debut, M, disrupted black metal genre convention on nearly every level, and USBM innovators Wolves in the Throne Room, who continue to refine a style they helped establish more than a decade ago.

Look for the Melvins to boggle brains with their brand of heavy rock – still unique unto itself after more than three decades – as well as for the new project Crystal Fairy with Buzzo and Dale from the Melvins, Omar Rodriguez-Lopez (Mars Volta) and Teri Gender Bender (Le Butcherettes) to bring to life their debut album, which releases in February on Ipecac Recordings.

This latest announcement also brings sludge-laden chaos from the pair of Weedeater and Buzzov*en, and Chelsea Wolfe to emit a darkness that even Las Vegas in the summer won’t be able to hold at bay.

The reunited Slo Burn (vocalist John Garcia’s first project post-Kyuss) will play an exclusive US show at Psycho, and a special highlight performance from psych-jazz legend Mulatu Astatke is open eyes, ears and minds alike as he celebrates a career spanning more than 50 years.

Also added have been long-running mischief-makers Murder City Devils, alt-rock legends Echo and the Bunnymen, progressive thrashers Vhöl (members of YOB and Agalloch), Pelican, Cult of Luna, Psychic TV, and as it did with the landmark 2016 edition, the fest digs deep into the heavy rock underground once again to unearth the best of up-and-coming bands from the States and beyond. Along with the already confirmed riff-crushers Windhand, Blood Ceremony, Slomatics and Domkraft, Elephant Tree (UK) have signed on alongside fellow fest-newcomers Khemmis, Sumac, Gatecreeper, Snail, North, Cult Leader, Hollow Leg, Summoner, Floorian, Wizard Rifle, Merlin and Morne.

Further lineup announcements will follow in the New Year — including headliners — so stay tuned for more from the best and biggest heavy festival the US has ever seen.

Psycho Las Vegas 2017 Confirmed lineup:
MURDER CITY DEVILS
NEUROSIS
MULATU ASTATKE
SWANS
CARCASS
WOLVES IN THE THRONEROOM
CRYSTAL FAIRY
MAGMA
CHELSEA WOLFE
SLO BURN
CULT OF LUNA
ABBATH
SUMAC
MYRKUR
PELICAN
WEEDEATER
ZEAL & ARDOR
SLOMATICS
OATHBREAKER
VHOL
COUGH
BLOOD CEREMONY
INTER ARMA
THE SKULL
WINDHAND
BUZZOVEN
MINSK
CODE ORANGE
KHEMMIS
GATECREEPER
NORTH
CULT LEADER
SNAIL
WIZARD RIFLE
MERLIN
FLOORIAN
DOMKRAFT
ELEPHANT TREE
MORNE
HOLLOW LEG
SUMMONER

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Elephant Tree, Elephant Tree (2016)

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Psycho Las Vegas 2017: First Bands Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 18th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

And so it seems Psycho Las Vegas has found its home. What’s very quickly become a major presence in the US festival scene — certainly the biggest heavy underground fest happening in the country — will take place for the second year in 2017 at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. Since the inception of Psycho Fest as Psycho de Mayo (think “Cinco de Mayo”) in Southern California and certainly through the last two years of Psycho California and this summer’s first Psycho Las Vegas, probably the most glaring name missing from the lineup has been Neurosis. Where’s Neurosis? Every band on the planet but Neurosis. And so on.

Couldn’t be more fitting then that as Psycho Las Vegas 2017 makes its first lineup announcements, not only Neurosis should be found in the batch, but their progenitors and forebears in Swans as well, who should by then be wrapping their tenure or working with a different lineup. Also note the continued commitment to bringing in international acts with Slomatics, Domkraft and Abbath, and the continuing affinity for primo doom that shows itself with Windhand and Blood Ceremony.

Next lineup announcement is in December. I think by the time they’re done, Psycho Las Vegas will have outdone itself again with 2017.

From the ticket page:

psycho-las-vegas-2017-first-announcement

Psycho Las Vegas 2017

August 18, 2017 – August 20, 2017
Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Las Vegas

SWANS – NEUROSIS – MAGMA – ABBATH – WINDHAND – BLOOD CEREMONY – SLOMATICS – DOMKRAFT

** Full lineup + headliners, VIP passes and additional venue information announced in December. **

If you purchased a ticket today you will have access to the pre-party on Thursday at the Paradise Pool. Due to the capacity limit at the Paradise Pool, the pre-party on Thursday is limited to the first 2500 Psychos who purchase a 3 day pass. In order to relieve confusion, we have created a third tier for tickets. If you purchase a Psycho Special, Tier 1 or Tier 2 ticket, you will have guaranteed access to the pre-party on Thursday.

If you purchase a Tier 3 ticket (these are the same price as Tier 2 and will become available after the Tier 2 tickets are sold out) you will unfortunately not have access to the pre-party on Thursday. Bring your floaties.

http://www.vivapsycho.com/
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/psycho-las-vegas-2017-tickets-27758793298
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https://www.facebook.com/events/1636267026703732/
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Neurosis, Fires Within Fires (2016)

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Quarterly Review: Swans, Virus, The Re-Stoned, Castle, Spirit Adrift, Robb & Pott, Family, Les Discrets, Liquido di Morte, Witchskull

Posted in Reviews on October 7th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

the-obelisk-fall-2016-quarterly-review

Last day. As ever, I am mentally, physically and spiritually exhausted by this process, but as ever, it’s been worth it. Today I do myself a couple favors in packing out with more familiar acts, but whatever, it’s all stuff I should be covering anyway, so if the order bothers you, go write your own 50 reviews in a week and we can talk about it. Yeah, that’s right. That’s what I said. Today we start with Swans. Everything’s a confrontation.

Once again, I hope you’ve found something somewhere along this bizarre, careening path of music that has resonated with you, something that will stick with you. That’s why we’re here. You and me. If you have, I’d love to know about it. Until then, one more time here we go.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Swans, The Glowing Man

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Oh fucking please. You want me to try to summarize The Glowing Man – the culmination and finale of an era of Swans that Michael Gira began now more than half a decade ago – in a single review? Even putting aside the fact that the record two hours long, the notion is ridiculous. If there ever was a chart, the scope here is well off it. The material unfolds and churns and is primal and lush at once on “Cloud of Forgetting,” genuinely chaotic on the 28-minute title-track, and it ends with a drone lullaby, but seriously, what the fuck? Some shit is just beyond, and if you don’t know that applies to Swans by now, it’s your own fault. You want a review? Fine. I listened to the whole thing. It ate my fucking soul, chewed it with all-canine teeth and then spit it out saying “thanks for the clarity” and left me dazed, bloodied and humbled. There’s your fucking review. Thanks for reading.

Swans on Thee Facebooks

Young God Records website

 

Virus, Memento Collider

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Oslo trio Virus have long since established that they’re a band working on their own wavelength. Memento Collider (on Karisma Records) is the jazzy post-black metallers’ first album in five years and brings together adventurous rhythms, poetic declarations, dissonant basslines and – in the case of “Rogue Fossil,” the occasional hook – in ways that are unique unto Virus. Look at this site and see how often I use the word “unique.” It doesn’t happen. Virus, however, are one of a kind. Memento Collider makes for a challenging listen front to back on its six-track/45-minute run, but it refuses to dumb itself down or dull its progressive edge, bookending its longest (that’s opener “Afield” at 10:41; immediate points) two tracks around jagged explorations of sound like “Steamer” and “Gravity Seeker,” which engage and intrigue in kind after the melodic push of “Dripping into Orbit” and leading into “Phantom Oil Slick,” a righteous affirmation of the angular thrust at the core of Virus’ approach.

Virus on Thee Facebooks

Karisma Records webstore

 

The Re-Stoned, Reptiles Return

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In 2010, Moscow troupe The Re-Stoned issued their first EP, Return to the Reptiles, and being obviously concerned with evolution, they’ve now gone back and revisited that debut release with Reptiles Return, a reworking of the four studio tracks that made up the initial version – “Return,” “Run,” “The Mountain Giant” and “Sleeping World.” The opener is a straight re-recording, as is one other, where another is remixed and the other two remastered, and Reptiles Return – which is presented on limited vinyl through Clostridium Records and a CD box set with bonus tracks via Rushus Records – pairs them with more psychedelic-minded soundscape pieces like “Winter Witchcraft,” “Walnut Talks,” the proggy “Flying Clouds” and sweetly acoustic “Roots Patter,” that showcase where founding multi-instrumentalist Ilya Lipkin is taking the band going forward. The result is a satisfying side A/B split on the vinyl that delights in heavy riffing for its own sake in the first half and expands the scope in the second, which should delight newcomers as well as those who’ve followed The Re-Stoned along this evolutionary process.

The Re-Stoned on Thee Facebooks

Clostridium Records website

 

Castle, Welcome to the Graveyard

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It may well be the fate of San Francisco’s hard-touring, ass-kicking, genre-refusing duo Castle to be terminally underappreciated, but that has yet to stop them from proliferating their righteous blend of thrash, doom and classic, fistpump-worthy metal. Their latest outing, Welcome to the Graveyard, arrives via respected purveyor Ván Records, and entices in atmosphere and execution, cohesively built tracks like “Hammer and the Cross” and the penultimate “Down in the Cauldron Bog” finding a balance of personality and delivery that the band has long since honed on stage. The Dio-esque barnburner riff of “Flash of the Pentagram” makes that cut a highlight, but as they roll out the cultish vibes of “Natural Parallel” to close, there doesn’t seem to be much on the spectrum of heavy metal that doesn’t fit into Castle’s wheelhouse. For some bands, there’s just no justice. Four records deep, Castle have yet to get their due, and Welcome to the Graveyard is further proof of why they deserve it.

Castle website

Ván Records

 

Spirit Adrift, Chained to Oblivion

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One can hear a new wave of modern doom taking shape in Chained to Oblivion, the Prosthetic Records debut from Arizona one-man outfit Spirit Adrift. The work of Nate Garrett alone in the studio, the full-length offers five mostly-extended tracks as a 48-minute 2LP of soaring, emotional and psychedelic doom à la Pallbearer, but given even further breadth through progressively atmospheric passages and a marked flow in its transitions. To call it personal seems superfluous – it’s a one-man band, of course it’s personal – but Garrett (also formerly of metallers Take Over and Destroy) brings a palpable sense of performance to the songwriting, and by the time he gets to the 11-minutes-apiece finale duo of the title-track and “Hum of Our Existence,” it’s easy to forget you’re not actually listening to a full band, not the least because of the vocal harmonies. Calling Chained to Oblivion a promising first outing would be underselling it – this is a project with serious potential.

Spirit Adrift on Thee Facebooks

Prosthetic Records website

 

Robb & Pott, Once upon the Wings

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Unpredictable from the start of opener “Flesh ‘n’ Steel,” Once upon the Wings is a first-time multinational collaborative effort from Robbi Robb of California’s 3rd Ear Experience and Paul Pott of Germany’s The Space Invaders. Its five tracks/42 minutes arrive through no less than Nasoni Records, and provide a curious and exploratory blend of the organic and the inorganic in sound, as one finds the 11-minute “Grass” no less defined by its percussion solo, guitar line and ‘60s-style vocal than the electronic drums that underscore the layered wash of noise in its midsection. Further definition hits with the 16-minute centerpiece “Prophecy #1,” which works in a space-rocking vein, but the shorter closing duo of the catchy “Looney Toon” and darkly progressive “Space Ear” show a creative bent that clearly refuses to be tamed. Robb & Pott, as a project, demonstrates remarkable potential throughout this debut, as they seem to have set no limits for where they want their sound to go and they seem to have the command to take it there.

Robb & Pott on Bandcamp

Nasoni Records website

 

Family, Future History

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Most of the tracks on Brooklyn progressive noise rockers Family’s second album and Prosthetic Records debut, Future History, come paired with interludes. That cuts some of the growling intensity of winding pieces like “Funtime for Bigboy” and “Floodgates,” and emphasizes the generally experimental spirit of the record as a whole, broadening the scope in sound and theme. I’m somewhat torn as to how much this actually works to the 51:50 outing’s benefit, as shorter pieces like “Prison Hymn” and “Transmission,” while adding dynamic to the sound and narrative drama, also cut the immediacy in impact of “The Trial” or closer “Bone on Bone,” but it’s entirely possible that without them Future History would be an overwhelming tumult of raw prog metal. And while the play back and forth can feel cumbersome when one considers how effectively “Night Vision” bridges the gap between sides, I’m not sure that’s not what Family were going for in the first place. It’s not supposed to be an easy record, and it isn’t one.

Family on Thee Facebooks

Family website

 

Les Discrets, Virée Nocturne

les-discrets-viree-nocturne-700

France’s Les Discrets haven’t had a studio offering since 2012’s Ariettes Oubliées (review here), and while they released Live at Roadburn (review here) last year documenting their 2013 set at that festival, there’s little there that might presage the stylistic turn the Fursy Teyssier-led outfit takes on their new EP, Virée Nocturne (on Prophecy Productions). With four tracks – two new, complete recordings, one demo and the last a remix of the opener by Dälek and DeadverseLes Discrets attempt to find a stylistic middle ground between post-rock and trip-hop, and for the most part, they get there. “Virée Nocturne” itself leads off and can be jarring on first listen, but successfully blends the lush melodicism for which the band is known with electronic-driven beats, and both “Capricorni. Virginis. Corvi” and even the demo “Le Reproche” continue to build on this bold shift. The finale remix adds over two minutes to “Virée Nocturne,” but uses that time to make it even more spacious and all the more immersive. For anyone who thought they might’ve had Les Discrets figured out, the surprise factor here should be palpable.

Les Discrets on Thee Facebooks

Prophecy Productions website

 

Liquido di Morte, II

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Presented across four tracks beginning with the 12-minute and longest-of-the-bunch (immediate points) “The Corpse of Dr. Funkenstein” (double points for the reference), II, the aptly-titled second album from Liquido di Morte expands the progressive atmospherics of the Italian four-piece’s 2014 self-titled debut (review here) without losing sight of the performance and spirit of exploration that helped bring it to life. Isaak’s Giacomo H. Boeddu guests on brooding vocals and whispers for “The Saddest of Songs I’ll Sing for You,” which swells in seething intensity as it moves forward, while “Rodents on the Uphill” casts a vision of post-space rock and closer “Schwartz Pit” rounds out with crash and wash that seems only to draw out how different the two halves of II actually are. Not a complaint. Liquido di Morte make their way across this vast span with marked fluidity, and if they prove anything throughout, it’s that they’re able to keep their command wherever they feel like using it to go.

Liquido di Morte on Thee Facebooks

Sstars BigCartel store

 

Witchskull, The Vast Electric Dark

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Canberra, Australia, trio Witchskull initially released their debut full-length, The Vast Electric Dark, last year, and caught the attention of the cross-coastal US partnership between Ripple Music and STB Records, who now align for a reissue of the eight-tracker. Why is quickly apparent. In addition to having earned a fervent response, The Vast Electric Dark basks in quality songcraft and doomly, heavy vibes, keeping a consistent pace while rolling through the semi-metallic push of “Raise the Dead” or the later rumble/shred of “Cassandra’s Curse.” All the while, guitarist/vocalist Marcus De Pasquale provides a steady presence at the fore alongside bassist Tony McMahon and drummer Joel Green, and what’s ultimately still a straightforward rocker of an album finds a niche for itself between varies underground styles of heavy. Between the balance they strike across their 37 minutes and the energy that courses through their songs, Witchskull’s The Vast Electric Dark proves easily worth the look it’s getting.

Witchskull on Thee Facebooks

STB Records webstore

Ripple Music website

 

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