Quarterly Review: Russian Circles, War Cloud, Here Lies Man, Book of Wyrms, Möyhy-Veikot, Darsombra, Set Fire, Jesus the Snake, Föllakzoid, Dresden Wolves

Posted in Reviews on October 2nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

Had to take a second this morning to get my email back under 100 unread. It currently stands at 95. There’s just something about being in triple digits that I can’t stand. Press releases and stuff I can usually file right away since not everything’s relevant to the site, etc., but that’s all stuff that either wants follow-up or could be a factor here if there was time. I do my best to try to keep up. And I fail, consistently.

The tradeoff, of course, is I spend that time writing reviews and other stuff for the site. Today’s hump day when we pass the halfway mark of the Fall 2019 Quarterly Review, and we’re doing it in absolutely all-over-the-place style, so all the better. Some pretty familiar names today, but some that might not be as well, so whatever your poison, I hope you enjoy the picking.

Quarterly Review #21-30:

Russian Circles, Blood Year

russian circles blood year

There’s simply no denying the force behind the depths and swell of a song like “Kohokia” on Russian Circles‘ latest offering, Blood Year (Sargent House), and though one knows what to expect to some degree from the Chicago heavy post-rockers at this point in their career, they seem to be doing all they can to deliver their instrumental progressions with energy to match the breadth of the spaces and the heft they conjure. Like 2016’s Guidance (review here), the seven-track/39-minute Blood Year — was recorded with Kurt Ballou, whom the trio imported to their hometown to work at Electrical Audio (aka Steve Albini‘s stomping ground) instead of traveling to Massachusetts to track at Ballou‘s Godcity. If it was the long-famed drum sound of Electrical Audio that they wanted and the live feel that so many of the recordings done there have, they got both, so mark it a success and another notch in the belt of one of the heavy underground’s most immersive and evocative outfits. Their building and releasing of tension is second to none and moves into the spiritual by the time they even get to side B, let alone through it.

Russian Circles on Thee Facebooks

Sargent House website

 

War Cloud, State of Shock

war cloud state of shock

Oh, the riffs you’ll gallop. Oakland, California’s War Cloud skirt the line between classic thrash and heavy rock and roll on their second album for Ripple Music, State of Shock, and from the sound of things, they have a good time doing it. The record’s not much over a half-hour long, which is as it should be for this kind of party, and they toy a bit with the balance between their two sides on a rocker like “Do Anything” or the subsequent “Means of Your Defeat” on side B, but the main crux of State of Shock and certainly the impression it makes off the bat with “Striker” and “White Lightning” up front ahead of the six-minute that-moment-when-ThinLizzy-turned-into-IronMaiden “Dangerous Game” is one of homage to the metal of yore, and in following-up the band’s 2017 self-titled debut (review here), it’s a showcase of energy and craft alike as two guitars shred, chug, groove and charge through the material. If they were from the Eastern Seaboard, I’d say something about getting caught in a mosh. As it stands, I’ll go with urging you to jump in the fire instead. Horns up, either way.

War Cloud on Thee Facebooks

Ripple Music website

 

Here Lies Man, No Ground to Walk Upon

here lies man no ground to walk upon

They should’ve just called it an album. Yeah, it would be short at 26 or so minutes, but it’s got everything you’d want from a full-length, and if they’d put a four-minute jam or something on it, they’d have been there anyhow. In any case, Los Angeles’ Afrobeat-infused heavy psych rockers Here Lies Man present seven tracks of dug-in glory with No Ground to Walk Upon (on RidingEasy), continuing to build on the potential shown across their first two LPs, 2017’s self-titled debut (review here) and last year’s You Will Know Nothing (review here), even as they swagger their way through a groove like “Long Legs (Look Away)” and show their continued forward potential. They continue to be a special band — the kind of band who doesn’t just come along every day and who shouldn’t be overlooked during their time, because maybe they’ll be around 30 years and maybe they won’t, but what they’re doing now is bringing something wholly individual to a heavy context. They’ve already proven influential to some degree, but listening to No Ground to Walk Upon cuts like the dream-keyed “Iron Rattles” and the opening strut-into-drone of “Clad in Silver,” one wonders if they wouldn’t be more so if people weren’t too afraid to try to pull this thing off. Hard to argue with that, since more likely than not most couldn’t.

Here Lies Man on Thee Facebooks

RidingEasy Records website

 

Book of Wyrms, Remythologizer

Book of Wyrms Remythologizer

I won’t take anything away from the eight-minute “Blacklight Warpriest” earlier in the offering, but the highlight of Book of Wyrms‘ second album, Remythologizer (on Twin Earth & Stoner Witch Records) has to be the closing “Dust Toad,” which at 9:25 is the longest track and the slowest crawl included. Led into by the synth-infused “Curse of the Werecop,” it takes the crunch that showed itself through opener “Autumnal Snow” and, later, the melody and swing of “Undead Pegasus” — as seen on the cover art — and brings them together in order to perfectly summarize the doom rocking ethic the Richmond, Virginia, four-piece are working from. Tonally righteous and more solvent in their songwriting than they were on their 2017 debut, Sci-Fi/Fantasy (review here), the band sound assured as they move in “Spirit Drifter” from a standout keyboard line to a likewise standout guitar solo, giving a feeling of progressive nuance that’s continuing to take hold in their sound, balanced by the underlying naturalism of their approach. That dynamic continues to duke it out on Remythologizer, much to the benefit of anyone who takes the record on.

Book of Wyrms on Thee Facebooks

Twin Earth Records on Bandcamp

Stoner Witch Records BigCartel store

 

Möyhy-Veikot, Huume Jet Set Life

moyhy-veikot huume jet set life

Too weird for planet earth and, well, probably too weird for anywhere else too, Helsinki psych-space-kraut-whathaveyou experimentalists issue their third tape in the form of Huume Jet Set Life and whether it’s the cosmo-jamming on “MITÄ ON TULLUT VEDETTYÄ?” or the who-the-hell-knows-what-ism of “MEDIA-AJOJAHTI 2000,” the band at no point fail to make an impression of being out there in the far gone far out there reaches of the far out there. Talkin’ freaked out next level total, like the cassette just fell into the atmosphere to represent some other planet’s culture where things are both dangerous and interesting and you never really know if you’re going to get laid or eaten or both. Still, they may be doing math of the likes not yet conceived by humanity, but Möyhy-Veikot go about it in suitably friendly if totally over-the-top fashion, and it’s fun to play along while also being completely overwhelmed at the various pushes and pulls happening all at once, the media samples and the Windows 95 compatibility of it all. It’s one small step for man, one giant leap for disco.

Möyhy-Veikot on Thee Facebooks

Möyhy-Veikot on Bandcamp

 

Darsombra, Transmission

Darsombra Transmission

It’s just lovely. Really. In some ways it feels like the 41:20 single-track full-length Transmission — self-released, no less — is what Baltimore ambient exploratory two-piece Darsombra have been building toward all along, but I think the truth is they probably could’ve done this at any time if they’d chosen to do so. Still, the fluidity of “Transmission” itself is something special, with its cascades of manipulated voice, riffs that swell and recede, loops, synth and somehow-manifested light that are as much immersion for the spirit as the eardrum. One doesn’t want to dive too deep into hyperbole and oversell it to the point of dulling the listener’s own impression, but Transmission is the kind of record that even those who profess to never “get” drone or noise offerings can engage with. Part of that is owed to Brian Daniloski‘s guitar, which provides landmarks along the path of swirl conjured by his own effects and the synth from Ann Everton (both add vocals where applicable; don’t look for lyrics or verses) that allow those who’d take it on to do so more easily. But the real joy in Transmission is letting go and allowing the piece to carry you along its progressive course, genuine in its reaching for the unknown. Plus there’s a gong, and that’s always fun too. Go with it.

Darsombra on Thee Facebooks

Darsombra on Bandcamp

 

Set Fire, Traya

set fire traya

Traya is the third three-song full-length from Boston’s Set Fire, and it would seem that, and in addition to marking the last recording to feature drummer Rob Davol, who’s since been replaced by Josh Cronin, it would seem to show the three-piece nailing their sound of classic-tinged duet-fronted heavy rock and roll. With two powerhouse vocalists on board in guitarist Jim Healey (We’re all Gonna Die, Black Thai, etc.) and keyboardist Jess Collins (ex-Mellow Bravo), they work in varying arrangements across a meager 12-minute run that feels short mostly because it is short. Too short. “Any Place Left” puts Collins in the foreground, while “Sacred Song” is more Healey‘s, and unsurprisingly to anyone who’s experienced their past work either together or separate, they’re more than able to carry the material — only more so with the other party backing. “Waves” brings them together around theatrical layers of piano and keyboard and guitar, and that they manage to hold it steady at all, let alone take flight as it does, speaks to how ready they are to embark on a longer offering. Put out an album, already, would ya?

Set Fire on Thee Facebooks

Set Fire on Bandcamp

 

Jesus the Snake, Black Acid, Pink Rain

Jesus the Snake Black Acid Pink Rain

For those feeling adventurous, Portugal’s Jesus the Snake follow-up their 2017 self-titled EP (review here) with the unmitigated warmth of Black Acid, Pink Rain, their live-recorded full-length debut. And for the sort of heavy psych-jazz-prog meandering, one would almost expect the organ-laced instrumentalist four-piece to track the record as they perform it, if not front-to-back then certainly one song at a time across multiple takes. Not one piece of the five total on the 49-minute offering is under eight minutes long, and sandwiched between opener “Karma” (10:28) and the closing title-track (10:55) are three cuts circa nine that prove no less hypnotic. The beginning of “Floyds I” is so fluid with the interplay of organ and guitar that one almost expects a gentle Portuguese spoken word verse to start, but of course one never does. Instead, Jesus the Snake complement mindful drift with flashes of more weighted or active fare, all the while holding to a central vibe that is peaceful even as “Duna” finds its chill before the halfway point, with no loss of spirit in the process.

Jesus the Snake on Thee Facebooks

Jesus the Snake on Bandcamp

 

Föllakzoid, I

follakzoid i

As with any kind of sonic minimalism or release based around trance induction — see Darsombra above — there’s a certain amount of buy-in that needs to happen on the listener’s side. Accordingly, those going into the fourth LP from Chilean duo Föllakzoid, titled I and issued through Sacred Bones Records as a double-vinyl, should be aware that it’s requires that kind of interaction from one side to the other. It’s not especially loud or abrasive, or even demanding in terms of the basic sonics of the thing, but as “I” becomes “II” becomes “III” becomes “IIII” and the songs such as they are alternate between 17- and 13-minute runtimes and the blend of effects and electro beats tips to one side or the other — “II” with a fervent ‘ump-tis’ in its early going while “III” brings a more Vangelis-style cinematic wash — of course there’s an ask in terms of indulgence happening on the part of the two-piece to their audience. Whether an individual is willing to make that jump is obviously going to be up to their headspace and where they’re at, but Föllakzoid‘s work here is more than worth the investment, even for those less familiar with their methods.

Föllakzoid on Thee Facebooks

Sacred Bones Records website

 

Dresden Wolves, Hiedra – Sencillo

dresden wolves Hiedra Sencillo

The sub-three-minute “Hiedra – Sencillo” is the latest in an ongoing series of digital offerings from Mexico City’s Dresden Wolves, and though the two-piece band bill themselves as post-punk and they may actually have a history in playing punk rock — stranger things have happened, certainly — the song finds them working in a taut heavy rock context, brash in delivery but not overly so as to lose the overarching swagger they seem intent on conveying. Particularly as it follows behind two EPs and a swath of other single tracks, and is offered name-your-price through their Bandcamp, “Hiedra – Sencillo” feels like its most nefarious aim is to hook anyone who’d click play on first listen and try and keep them intrigued for next time out. Fair enough. I won’t profess to know what Dresden Wolves‘ plans are, but they’ve got songwriting in their pocket and the production on “Hiedra – Sencillo” is crisp and clear enough to convey the heft of the guitar but not so much so as to dull its rawer aspects. They’ve got the balance ready to go, whatever they might choose to do with it from here.

Dresden Wolves on Thee Facebooks

Dresden Wolves on Bandcamp

 

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Darsombra Mega-Tour Starts Next Week; New Transmission Trailer Posted

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

Oh, you think you tour a lot? Well, Darsombra think that’s adorable. Next week, they’ll head out on what’s only their latest string of impossible-looking tour dates, running up through the Northeast and into and across Canada and then back through the Midwest in a way that makes me think there’s probably a specifically Californian string of dates to come, and knowing Darsombra — who are based as much “on earth” as they are in Baltimore — it’ll probably run for a month straight. The duo’s new album, Transmission, is up for preorder now direct from their website or Bandcamp, and they’ve got a new trailer for it posted as of pretty much when I post this, that I’m pretty sure was filmed at a haunted house. Neat. The album, of course, is one long track, so you’re getting about 1/45th of it here, but still, it’s a good 1/45th. Mark it a win and then go a show and buy all the merch.

Here’s where they’ll be:

darsombra

Darsombra’s 2019 album, “Transmission” is almost here!!! Preorder is available at www.darsombra.com and www.darsombra.bandcamp.com. Or come out and see us and get a copy in person, in any of the following places:

July 31 – Cleveland OH @ Magalen
Aug 1 – Toronto ON @ Sneaky Dee’s
Aug 2 – Buffalo NY – Infringement Festival @ Nietzsche’s
Aug 3 – Buffalo NY – Infringement Festival @ Hickory Urban Sanctuary
Aug 5 – Rochester NY @ Bug Jar
Aug 6 – Albany NY @ Pauly’s Hotel
Aug 7 – Providence RI @ AS220
Aug 8 – Boston MA @ O’Brien’s
Aug 9 – Portland ME @ Geno’s
Aug 10 – Littleton NH @ Loading Dock
Aug 11 – Burlington VT @ Junktiques
Aug 13 – Montreal QC @ Casa Del Popolo
Aug 15 – Ottawa ON @ Pressed
Aug 16 – Sudbury ON @ The Asylum
Aug 17 – Sault Ste Marie ON @ New American
Aug 20 – Thunder Bay ON @ The Apollo
Aug 22 – Winnipeg MB @ Times Changed
Aug 23 – Regina SK @ German Club
Aug 24 – Saskatoon SK @ Amigo’s
Aug 25 – Edmonton AB @ 9910
Aug 26 – Calgary AB @ Dickens
Aug 28 – Kelowna BC @ Milkcrate Records
Aug 29 – Vancouver BC @ Avant Garden
Aug 30 – Nanaimo BC @ The Cambie
Aug 31 – Victoria BC @ Vinyl Envy
Sept 4 – Olympia WA @ Cryptatropa
Sept 5 – Seattle WA @ Lofi
Sept 6 – Salem OR @ The Space Concert Club
Sept 7 – Portland OR @ High Water Mark
Sept 10 – Boise ID @ The Olympic
Sept 12 – Bozeman MT @ Filling Station
Sept 13 – Billings MT @ Kirks’ Grocery
Sept 14 – Rapid City SD @ Cave Collective
Sept 18 – Sioux Falls SD @ Total Drag
Sept 19 – Minneapolis MN @ Kitty Cat Club
Sept 20 – Duluth MN @ Blush
Sept 21 – Marquette MI @ The Crib
Sept 23 – Milwaukee WI @ Cactus Club
Sept 25 – Rock Island IL @ Rozz-Tox
Sept 26 – Peoria IL @ Trailside Event Center
Sept 27 – Chicago IL @ Charm School
Sept 28 – Detroit MI @ Trumbullplex
Sept 29 – Pittsburgh PA @ 3577 Studios
Oct 5 – Baltimore MD – Mushroom City Arts Festival @ Gwynns Falls Leakin Park

http://facebook.com/darsombra
https://www.instagram.com/darsombra/
http://www.darsombra.com/

Darsombra, Transmission trailer #3 premiere

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Darsombra to Release New Album Transmission in August

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 28th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

The only real surprise here is that Darsombra were at some point off the road long enough to record an album. The Baltimorean experimentalist two-piece tend to tour for months, not days or weeks, at a time, and as they make ready to release Transmission, that seems like it’s not about to change. Their psychedelic noise, drone wash and tonal breadth was last manifest in the studio with 2016’s Polyvision (review here), and they’ve already been to Europe this year, and a US tour is planned to surround Transmission‘s arrival that will likely just be one in a series by the time they’re ready to move forward again. Some groups are just nomadic. I think it’s easier when you don’t have to move drums, though a keyboard and video equipment doesn’t exactly seem easy either.

There’s a teaser streaming for Transmission that you can see at the bottom of this post, as well as the Polyvision stream just because it’s there on Bandcamp and accessible for consumption. Please feel free to dig in.

From the PR wire:

darsombra

DARSOMBRA: Baltimore Psychedelic Duo To Release Transmission LP In August; Trailer Posted + North American Tour Being Booked

Baltimore, Maryland-based psychedelic/experimental duo DARSOMBRA has completed their fifth full-length album, titled Transmission. Following a long line of releases through a vast network of underground labels since 2006, Transmission is being handled entirely by the band to be issued on multiple formats in August, during the band’s latest extensive North American tour surrounding its release.

Uniting Brian Daniloski on guitar, vocals, and effects, and Ann Everton on synthesizer, vocals, gong, and visuals, DARSOMBRA is a transcendental and emotive experience. Live, they create a symbiotic audio-video involvement that creates a temporary reality, woven by sight, sound, and movement. These psychedelic and transcendental characteristics are transferred to record as closely as possible.

Prolifically touring for well over a decade, DARSOMBRA has performed throughout North America, Asia, and Europe, at music venues, dive bars, house shows, galleries, festivals, city ruins, and storage units, as well as their legendary pop-up generator shows at national monuments, or just by the side of the road. Their expansive sound finds them fitting on all kinds of bills. They are equally at home on a metal or psych show as they are on a noise or experimental bill.

Following releases on labels in the US, Germany, Malaysia, and Indonesia, including At A Loss, Public Guilt, Exile On Mainstream, Translation Loss, and Noise Bombing, DARSOMBRA is self-releasing their impending 2019 album, Transmission, on LP, CD, cassette, and digital download in August, while on tour across Canada and the US.

Watch for the Transmission cover art, preorder links for all formats, the massive impending tour itinerary, and much more from DARSOMBRA to be announced and posted in the days ahead and through the coming months.

http://facebook.com/darsombra
https://www.instagram.com/darsombra/
http://www.darsombra.com/

Darsombra, Transmission teaser

Darsombra, Polyvisions (2016)

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