Special Feature: Track-by-Track Through Grados. Minutos. Segundos. Pt. 1

Posted in Features on June 16th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

Various artists Grados Minutos Segundos

Grados. Minutos. Segundos. is a multi-volume compilation assembled at the behest of Spinda Records, highlighting the label’s native Spanish underground scene across a series of 12 split seven-inch vinyls. Set for release between last Friday and next Spring, the pressing is one-time-only, limited to 240, hand-numbered and though I generally don’t post sale links like, available right here: http://spindarecords.com/grados-minutos-segundos/

I’m not the type to tell you outright to spend your money. I know everyone works hard and cash is hard to come by and capitalism is terrible, etc., but the reason that link is there is because I respect the living shit out of this project and the obvious love that birthed it. Spinda Records is no slouch when it comes to promoting Spanish heavy anyhow, but Grados. Minutos. Segundos. brings that to a different level entirely. Consider — it could’ve probably just been a 3LP box. Or a double-CD or something like that. But the focus here is so much on the lushness of presentation, and on highlighting the work of the bands. Every act is given their own space. It’s a beautiful concept, and if you snag one of these, consider yourself lucky.

My hope is that as each installment of Grados. Minutos. Segundos. comes out, I’ll have a corresponding track-by-track from the bands. You’ll find the first one below. My sincere thanks to Berto Cáceres from the label for putting it — and the compilation — together.

Enjoy:

Grados. Minutos. Segundos. Track-by-Track Pt. 1

MOURA – “Muiñeira da Maruxaina”

“[…] The “muiñeira” is one of the most popular Galician traditional music genres and we wanted to make an approach to it from “krautrock” and psychedelic perspective, respecting some of its characteristics. Lyrically, the song is about the folktale of the Maruxaina, a mermaid who lives in a cave in an island in San Cibrao (north coast of Galicia) and helps or confuse sailors by playing a horn or with her singing, depending on different versions of the tale. Galician traditional percussions were heavily used in the song and an arpeggiator to keep the pulse of the trance along with the guitar riff […]”

ROSY FINCH – “Black Lodge”

“[…] As a big fan of ‘Twin Peaks’, I always had the idea of turning into Laura Palmer and living inside a dark song. In “Black Lodge” you can see many references and symbology of Lynch’s universe. We tried to reflect the anguish but also the seduction undertaken by the characters. But not only the video has been inspired by the TV series; lyrics describe some moments and iconic quotes of the show but always through Laura Palmer’s voice […]”

ADRIFT – “Abracadabra”

“[…] On this track we don’t play around with long progressions as we are used to. Instead we play heavily from the very first second and there’s no time to relax at all. Going against our usual way of writing songs, we chose a couple of riffs and wrote the whole song around them without thinking too much and having fun trying not to get complicated. The lyrics talk about the current situation and how some media and “important” people manipulate the reality in order to control the people and do what they want with them. They’re kind of magicians doing tricks to make you think as they want you to think […]”

ADRIFT – “Lush Lands”

“[…] Inspired by the book ‘Heart of Darkness’ by Joseph Conrad, this tracks talks about a situation in which you decide to go to the deepest darkness looking for somebody and how you can finish feeling attracted by the horror you see on your way to that person. This track stars as a good exercise of space rock, full of delays and reverb, to finish as a huge and repetitive wall of noise. It’s like a mantra to get into trance […]”

MONDO INFIEL – “Estigmas”

This track talks about those close-minded-people who are not able to see further than their own shoes, not being even able to question their way of thinking or understanding that not everyone else will think the same way. This can continue for years and makes them feeling attacked by others just for the fact of them having a different point of view about religion, politics or culture. Type O Negative and Killing Joke inspired the song a lot, although it doesn’t sound to those bands at all – I wish Pete Steele or Jaz Coleman took care of the vocals in the song.

PARTÍCULA – “La Fosa”

From the deepest and darkness roots of heavy psych and the most powerful ’70s hard rock, this track emerges like a cathartic experience, where frustration and hope return to our reality transformed into an authentic iron fist, ready to take you to another dimension.

MEDICINA – “Vilo”

This songs talks about the uncertainty and anxiety caused when things are out of your hands. This can happen on any aspect of your life. We do not attach to any sound in particular when writing but this reminds me to Steve Albini and Big Black.

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Bow to Your Masters Vol. 2 Deep Purple Tribute out Tomorrow; New Teaser Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 6th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

various artists bow to your masters vol 2 deep purple vinyl

Tomorrow, Bandcamp Friday, May 7, marks the digital release of Glory or Death RecordsDeep Purple tribute, Bow to Your Masters Vol. 2. With a 2LP edition set to follow in November, the release brings together an assortment of established and new names — and stuff like Mothership-offshoot Topsy Kretts, Big Scenic Nowhere and Destroyer of Light-offshoot (also Mothership-offshoot) Temple of Love, which is new names from established names — as well as Mos GeneratorWorshipper, Steak, frickin’ YOB and groups from the Glory or Death family tree including Red WizardKOOKGygax, RedWitch Johnny, and collaborations like High Reeper with Ruby the Hatchet‘s Jillian TaylorSteak with Vodun‘s Chantal BrownFrancis Roberts of Old Man Wizard sitting in with Great Electric Quest, on and on and on and oh hell you can see the tracklisting below — just go look at it and tell me you don’t want to hear this thing. If you’ve ever EITHER heard Deep Purple OR heard any of these bands who’ve contributed to the comp, then yes, this is probably something that should pique your interest.

And yeah, YOB doing “Perfect Strangers” is a major draw, and as well it should be. It closes out the 15-song/78-minute offering with a duly flowing rendition of the title-track of the 1984 album that brought Blackmore and Gillan back together, albeit temporarily. But there’s more than just YOB going on here. Asphodel Wine‘s “Child in Time,” KOOK‘s “Space Truckin’,” RedWitch Johnny‘s “Maybe I’m a Leo” — also once covered by The Atomic Bitchwax — and Big Scenic Nowhere‘s “Demon’s Eye” are all killer, and from the boogie of “Black Night” as interpreted by Topsy Kretts to the sprawl of Worshipper taking on “Pictures from Home” — perfect band for that song, and they nail it — Bow to Your Masters Vol. 2 is jammed with what should be considered essentials. I know the sphere of heavy isn’t lacking in tributes these days, between Magnetic Eye‘s ever-expanding ‘Redux’ series and Ripple and others getting on board, but hell’s bells, how on earth are you going to deny Great Electric Quest‘s “Highway Star?” The simply answer is you’re not, and you shouldn’t bother to try.

I’ll make it simple. There’s a lot to like here.

The full thing is out tomorrow, and you can get your vinyl preorders in I assume when you do the Bandcamp thing or through BigCartel or however you go. Whatever it is that gets you on board though — whichever name is your pull — or even if its just the artwork by David Paul Seymour and Carin Hazmat that grabs you, don’t be surprised if you hear one track and wind up on board for a whole bunch more. Whether it’s Gygax boldly daring “Speed King” or Saturn doing “Into the Fire” or Steak taking one of the most iconic riffs ever and admirably making it their own, there’s plenty of fodder for a deep-dive.

That kind of makes the six-minute teaser premiering below excruciating, if I’m honest. Because while it features each song on the outing, it’s just enough of it to get hooked and want to hear the whole thing. A true tease, somewhat brutal. Fortunately a bunch of songs from the thing have already been posted and you can find them on the Bandcamp player nearer the bottom of the post.

The order link is down below as well, and the aforementioned tracklisting, which is substantial. I hesitate to call it a premiere for a teaser, but that’s what it is just the same.

Enjoy:

Bow to Your Masters Vol. 2 teaser premiere

FULL DIGITAL RELEASE is 5/7/21, but we have 6 minutes of pure bliss, a snippet of each song on the release in album order! There are a mix of incredibly faithful covers, cheeky tweaks, and full re-imaginings by 15 of the best bands making heavy music today!

ORDER YOUR COPY: https://gloryordeathrecords.bandcamp.com/

Big Scenic Nowhere – Demon’s Eye
Gygax – Speed King
RedWitch Johnny – Maybe I’m A Leo (Ft. Matthew Putman)
Topsy Kretts – Black Night
Saturn – Into the Fire
High Reeper – Burn (Ft. Jillian Taylor of Ruby The Hatchet)
Great Electric Quest – Highway Star (Ft. Francis Roberts)
Steak – Smoke (Ft. Chantal Brown)
Mos Generator – Love Child
Asphodel Wine – Child in Time
Temple of Love – Gettin’ Tighter (Ft. Anton Pukshansky)
Red Wizard – Fireball
KOOK – Space Truckin’
Worshipper – Pictures of Home
Yob – Perfect Strangers

Cover art by Carin Hazmat and David Paul Seymour
Mastered by James Page at Emerald Age Studios

Various Artists, Bow to Your Masters Vol. 2: Deep Purple (2021)

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Review & Track Premiere, Various Artists, Alice in Chains: Dirt [Redux]

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on September 9th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

dirt redux

[Click play above to stream Howling Giant’s “Rooster” from Magnetic Eye Records’ Dirt [Redux] Alice in Chains tribute. LP/CD/DL out Sept. 18 with preorders here.]

Says Howling Giant’s Zach Wheeler:

“To be honest, getting ‘Rooster’ was a bit intimidating as it’s one of their most popular songs. We wanted to pay tribute to Alice in Chains as much as possible while giving the song that special Howling Giant sauce. We changed a few things around, but tried to reinforce the melodies that make the song so memorable in the first place.”

Says Howling Giant’s Tom Polzine:

“When I was growing up in Buffalo, Minnesota, there was a local band called Blood Root Mother made up of some dudes that were probably four or five years older than me. I remember sneaking out of my house to see them perform at this rundown venue called The Vault. The Vault was run by some 20 year olds that skipped college in order to renovate that old antique shop into a dirty DIY venue. If dirty and uncomfortable was the vibe they were going for, they nailed it. Anyway, Blood Root Mother were tight as hell and I’ll always remember their cover of ‘Rooster’ as one of the most moving performances I witnessed from a bunch of local, lovable scumbags. The energy was so raw, and the volume was overwhelming. I think that witnessing those guys performing that song in particular is the reason I started playing in rock bands in high school, and why I still play today.”

Released in September 1992, Alice in Chains‘ second full-length, Dirt, is a generational landmark. It remains one of a select few records of its era — along with Nirvana‘s Nevermind, Pearl Jam‘s Ten, Soundgarden‘s Badmotorfinger, and maybe one or two others — that helped define the “grunge” sound for which Seattle, Washington, would become almost inextricably known. With an underlying-and-at-times-right-up-front theme of drug addiction and ensuing personal fallout, Dirt was grimmer and could be more aggressive than most of its still-commercially-viable major label contemporaries, and as a result always had some more appeal to metal fans than, say, Pearl Jam, who were strictly a hard rock band at the time. Guitarist Jerry Cantrell‘s now-classic riffs and vocals, Sean Kinney‘s inventive drums, the fluid bass work of Mike Starr and Layne Staley‘s voice that would prove inimitable despite the attempts of three decades’ worth of singers — these essential elements came together around a group of particularly memorable songs, some radio hits, some B sides, and of course, “Iron Gland” for good measure, and served as the proverbial lightning in the bottle and the standard by which the band’s output ever since has been judged.

In continuing its tribute series of full album releases by embarking on a Dirt [Redux]Magnetic Eye Records takes on a no less crucial album than when the label put together compilation tributes to Pink Floyd or Jimi Hendrix. There are some recognizable acts from the Magnetic Eye stable as well as others clearly given to celebrating the work itself, and those who remain loyal to the original versions of the songs while other groups prefer to bring their appointed track into their own sonic context. Like the original DirtDirt [Redux] of course boasts 13 tracks — it’s a whole-album tribute; it wouldn’t do to leave something out — though its runtime is longer than the original, at 63 minutes as opposed to 57. The tracklisting reads as follows:

1. Thou – Them Bones
2. Low Flying Hawks – Dam That River
3. High Priest – Rain When I Die
4. Khemmis – Down in a Hole
5. These Beasts – Sickman
6. Howling Giant – Rooster
7. Forming the Void – Junkhead
8. Somnuri – Dirt
9. Backwoods Payback – God Smack
10. Black Electric – Iron Gland
11. -(16)- – Hate to Feel
12. Vokonis – Angry Chair
13. The Otolith – Would?

Their take on “Would?” — tracked by Alice in Chains first for an appearance on the soundtrack of the film Singles then reused on the album — marks the debut recording from post-SubRosa outfit The Otolith, and arrives with no shortage of anticipation. Bookending with “Them Bones” as interpreted by New Orleans art-sludgers Thou, the atmospheric breadth brought to the finale is a standout on the release and, at that point, one more instance of a band making the track their own. Thou‘s blend of harsh and cleaner vocals notwithstanding, they largely keep to the original tempo and arrangement of the leadoff track, whereas Low Flying Hawks take the subsequent “Dam That River” — a hooky follow-up to the opener — and turn it into an ambient drone only vaguely related to the original.

dirt redux vinyl

And why not? There’s no rule that says a band has to do an impression rather than an interpretation, and as Dirt [Redux] plays out, the likes of KhemmisThese Beasts, Howling GiantForming the Void-(16)- and Vokonis bring their own spin. Khemmis could hardly be a better fit for the emotive doom of “Down in a Hole,” and the crunch These Beasts deliver on “Sickman” is an intense precursor to what L.A.’s -(16)- do with “Hate to Feel” later on. Feeling very much like the vanguard of an up and coming generation of progressive heavy rock, Howling GiantForming the Void and Vokonis boldly tackle their respective cuts, with “Rooster” getting a bolstered melody (no easy feat), “Junkhead” receiving a newfound nodder groove, and “Angry Chair” highlighting a rhythmic complexity that is both a late surprise and oh, oh, oh so very Swedish.

To complement these forays, Somnuri find a glorious and elusive middle-ground on the album’s title-track, the Brooklynite trio not giving “Dirt” a total makeover so much as an organic-feeling performance that captures the subtle spaciousness that was so much a part of Dirt‘s lonely feel in the first place — all those sometimes empty reaches of its mix. Earlier, Chicago’s High Priest offer perhaps the most impressive vocal included on the redux with “Rain When I Die,” with the as-yet-underrated, very-much-need-to-put-an-album-out group play to their own Alice in Chains influence. Ditto that Backwoods Payback, who bleed their love of the original through their raw interpretation of “God Smack,” finding a space somewhere between punk, post-hardcore and heavy rock that is theirs alone on this release and in the wider underground sphere. These cuts serve the vital function of bringing Dirt [Redux] its sense of homage, making the tribute a tribute, and giving a listener who might not be familiar with all the bands on the Magnetic Eye roster a chance to reorient before, say, These Beasts unfurl their pummeling rendition of “Sickman” or Low Flying Hawks taffy-pull “Dam That River” to suit their own whims.

One would be remiss not to point out that the 43-second interlude “Iron Gland” is here covered by Black Electric, which features Magnetic Eye Records‘ own Mike Vitali (also ex-Ironweed and Greatdayforup) on guitar. Their version is almost eerily reminiscent of the original, on which Slayer‘s Tom Araya sat in for vocals, and gives way to -(16)-‘s roughed-up “Hate to Feel” with a similar flow to the progression between the two tracks on Dirt proper. If you come out of this Dirt [Redux] with a hankering to listen to Alice in Chains, don’t be surprised. I’ll admit to having an attachment to the album that borders on the familial, and whatever they do with it arrangement-wise, I have nothing but respect for anyone brave enough to cover songs that have so much specific heart and style behind them. Inevitably a listener’s experience with Dirt [Redux] will depend on their own context with the original record as well as with the bands involved, but when all is said and done, it is a more than worthy inclusion in Magnetic Eye‘s [Redux] series — Black Sabbath would seem to be next — and it points to just how broadly Alice in Chains‘ influence has spread over the last three decades. You can’t really go wrong.

Various Artists, Dirt [Redux] (2020)

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Ripple Music to Release Dominance and Submission: A Tribute to Blue Öyster Cult

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 24th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Initially a project of Steve Hanford — known for his work in Poison Idea and a slew of others, including most recently Portland, Oregon’s Ape Machine — the various artists project Dominance and Submission: A Tribute to Blue Öyster Cult will see release in the coming months via Ripple Music. What began as a loving homage from Hanford to his favorite band has become a meta-tribute, as it fell to others to complete the project following Hanford‘s death earlier this year. It is, then, honoring as much to him and his work as much as Blue Öyster Cult, since Hanford sits in on many the tracks, including those featuring the likes of Billy Anderson, Rob Wrong (Witch Mountain) and Andrea Vidal (Holy Grove), Jeff Matz of Zeke and High on Fire, Year of the Cobra, Mos Generator and others.

No audio yet, and I expect a solid release date is forthcoming, but the heart with which this has been put together, on both ends, comes through clearly in the announcement below — also the cover art rules — so dig into that in the meantime and when I hear about the rest, I’ll let you know.

Here goes:

va dominance and submission tribtue to blue oyster cult

Dominance and Submission: A Tribute To Blue Öyster Cult

Californian powerhouse RIPPLE MUSIC is proud to announce the upcoming release of their all-star tribute album to Blue Öyster Cult: ‘Dominance and Submission: A Tribute to Blue Öyster Cult’. The album will feature covers by Steve Hanford, Mark Lanegan, Billy Anderson, Jeff Matz, Zeke, Mondo Generator and other major names of the heavy rock world.

This special tribute album was initiated by Poison Idea’s departed drummer Steve Hanford, in conjunction with Ian Watts of Ape Machine. Founded in 1967, Blue Öyster Cult are considered pioneers of occult rock’n’roll, marking generations with timeless anthems such as “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper”, “Burnin’ for You”, “Cities on Flame with Rock and Roll” or “Godzilla”. The New-York outfit has since then remained a reference act of the 70s rock scene alongside Black Sabbath, MC5, The Stooges or Steppenwolf.

The “Dominance and Submission: A Tribute To Blue Öyster Cult” record will highlight some of the finest work from the legendary American band, with unique contributions from JEFF MATZ of ZEKE and HIGH ON FIRE, MONDO GENERATOR, MOS GENERATOR, GREAT ELECTRIC QUEST, QUASI, HOLY GROVE, WAR CLOUD, APE MACHINE, ZEKE, YEAR OF THE COBRA, FETISH, SPINDRIFT as well as MARK LANEGAN and BILLY ANDERSON. The artwork was designed by Dave Snider.

The concept:

Steven Hanford AKA Thee Slayer Hippy lived the rocky road of the rock and roll veteran. As drummer and producer in Poison Idea he played on two of the most influential records of hardcore – War All The Time and Feel The Darkness. As producer he worked on indie rock projects such as Heatmiser (with frontman Elliot Smith) and punk albums for notable names like The Hard Ons. Due to some struggles with addiction which he later attributed to repressed sexual abuse as a child, Steve found himself in prison on multiple occasions, most recently in 2008 for a seven-year sentence after robbing a Walgreens. While in prison, Steve turned his life around and started recording albums for prisoners with a fellow inmate named Sam Redding (Sam appears on this record). After being released in 2015, Steve jumped on a tour playing drums in The Skull and was soon after introduced to Ape Machine by mutual friend Tony Lash (Heatmiser). Steve quickly joined Ape Machine on drums and also as producer for Darker Seas. While on the road with Ape Machine, Steve decided he wanted to produce a tribute record to one of his favorite bands, Blue Öyster Cult.

Steve had a vision of building a studio and originally wanted to use funds from the sale of the tribute record to get some gear. The goal was to be able to work in his own studio, producing records for other bands. The idea was to have bands come and record BÖC tribute songs in his fledgling studio (temporarily using borrowed gear from Ian Watts) which he would produce, simultaneously making a name for the studio, his production techniques, and his drumming skills. Much of the gear and engineering would be provided by Ian Watts.

Unfortunately, Steve didn’t make it to see the project through to release due to his suffering a heart attack on May 21st 2020. Fortunately for music fans though, he had completed most of the recording for the project, leaving Ian Watts to gather the final pieces and mix the record.

Steve was an accomplished and respected musician and was able to round up a star studded cast of bands for the tribute, including members of Mondo Generator, Quasi, Holy Grove, War Cloud, Mos Generator, Great Electric Quest, Ape Machine, Zeke, Year of the Cobra, High on Fire, Fetish, Spindrift as well as notable names such as Mark Lanegan and Billy Anderson.

With Steve no longer being with us, the proceeds of the record will go to benefit his widowed partner, Kitty Diggins who was left with some financial hardships, including much needed house repairs.

TRACK LISTING & LINEUP
1) ME262 (Steve Hanford, Nick Oliveri, Ian Watts, Mike Pygmie)
2) Dominance and Submission (Steve Hanford, Mark Lanegan, Sam Coomes, Sam Redding)
3) Wings Wetted Down (Steve Hanford, Billy Anderson, Rob Wrong, Andrea Vidal)
4) Tattoo Vampire (Mondo Generator)
5) Stairway to the Stars (War Cloud)
6) Veteran of the Psychic Wars (Ape Machine)
7) Flaming Telepaths (Great Electric Quest)
8) Transmaniacon MC (Mos Generator w/ Steve Hanford)
9) 7 Screaming Dizbusters (Fetish)
10) Cities on Flame with Rock and Roll (Zeke w/ Jeff Matz and Steve Hanford)
11) Fireworks (Year of the Cobra w/ Steve Hanford)
12) Don’t Fear the Reaper (Spindrift and Steve Hanford)

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Poison Idea, War All the Time (1987)

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Review: Spacetrucker & Mr. Bison, Turned to Stone Chapter 1 – Enter Galactic Wasteland Split

Posted in Reviews on January 22nd, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Turned to Stone Chapter 1 Spacetrucker Mr Bison

On a level of ambition, a series of split releases is second perhaps only to a series of compilations in terms of the massive amount of work that is involved in coordination. Most ‘Vol. 1’-type outings do not get to ‘Vol. 2.’ An exception to this rule was Ripple Music‘s The Second Coming of Heavy, which, though its title wanted for generational context (the heavy ’10s were at least the third coming), was a deeply admirable 10-installment series that brought bands into the Ripple fold who otherwise wouldn’t have gotten the exposure while staying tied together through artwork as well as the titular presentation. It allowed the label to expand its reach and had a curated, carefully-picked sensibility behind it.

Those 10 offerings were not haphazard. Ripple would hope to bring the same mindset to Turned to Stone, a new series that essentially picks up where The Second Coming of Heavy left off. I guess they’re gluttons for punishment when it comes to logistics? There’s no end-figure stated for Turned to Stone so far as I know — that is, they haven’t said “10 and done” as they did with the prior series — but however far it ends up going, its first installment, the full and somewhat cumbersome title of which is Ripple Music Presents: Turned to Stone Chapter 1 – Mr. Bison & Spacetrucker: Enter Galactic Wasteland, already crosses continental borders in bringing together its component acts.

From Pisa, Italy, come the trio Mr. Bison, whose moniker continues to immediately touch of Gen-X nostalgia for the lost hours of my youth playing Street Fighter II, and from St. Louis, Missouri, the three-piece Spacetrucker, whose three tracks run across side B in deceptively atmospheric fashion. The two bands are complementary in some ways, contrasting in others, but one suspects that’s the idea, and like most landscapes described as a wasteland, one finds the LP’s 38-minute run not at all void of life, but a vital ecosystem of heavy rock and roll that helps to demonstrate just how multifaceted the genre has become.

Mr. Bison don’t make it through the seven-minute “The Grace of Time” before they break out the organ and work in elements of psychedelia and classic prog — and that’s just fine. There are shades of Golden Void in the dramatic arrival of organ amid the guitar, bass and drums, but I wouldn’t call the all-Matteo lineup of guitarist/vocalists Matteo Barsacchi and Matteo Sciocchetto and drummer Matteo D’Ignazi overly derivative. Rather, the drift they inject into moments like the opening stretches of “The Stranger” and “Oracle Prophecy,” which builds as it moves forward, receding in the middle only to surge again at the conclusion in not-unforeseeable but still exciting and progressive fashion.

Their 2018 album, Holy Oak (review here), was like-minded in its somewhat deceptive approach, appearing simpler on the surface than it actually was, and as Barsacchi and Sciocchetto arrange vocals here, layering solos and effects all the while to create a sense of swirl as “Oracle Prophecy” comes to a head, the impression is that the band have obviously continued to solidify and become more assured of their approach. This creative next step is, of course, the ideal, though I don’t actually know how long ago the songs were recorded.

Either way, that Mr. Bison would leave one feeling like the band is making forward progress is, indeed, forward progress, and as their three inclusions are longer than those of Spacetrucker by about four minutes, running 21 minutes, their time only seems to be well-spent in setting up an atmosphere and flow. Listening digitally, this flow is immediately, strikingly contrasted by the shift in production value to Spacetrucker‘s three tracks, which are rawer and more directly fuzz-driven. Guitarist/vocalist Mike Owen, bassist/vocalist Rob Wagoner and drummer/multipadder Del Toro present a ready charge in the five-and-a-half-minute “Nosedive,” eschewing the proggier aspects of their side A counterparts in favor of a more direct attack.

That’s not to say that “Nosedive” or the subsequent instrumental “Distant Earth,” which is the longest track on the release at 7:56, don’t have a sense of atmosphere, just that said atmosphere is more based around the sheer punch of what they do. And when the low-end on “Distant Earth” kicks in there’s no shortage of punch to be had. “Distant Earth” resolves itself in some prog-metal-style chugging completed by a chiming bell, and then moves into a solo before rounding out in similar rhythmic terrain, an impressive more-than-jam that’s fluid if less sonically lush than some of what appeared on the split’s first half. Spacetrucker round out with the shorter “King Cheeto,” an early-Fu Manchu-style fuzz punker that revives some of the more aggressive thrust of “Nosedive” and finishes in a satisfying rush of noise and cut momentum. If that’s what being turned to stone sounds like, then so be it.

In terms of what ties the two bands together, aside from the basic umbrella of “heavy” that is horoscope-vague enough to be applicable on all counts, there’s an undercurrent of stylistic depth shared by Spacetrucker and Mr. Bison that comes through in different contexts, but is there just the same. Spacetrucker are not unaffected by Truckfighters-esque energy, but like Mr. Bison before them, they seem to be engaged in the project of internalizing their influences in order to craft their own sound from them.

In that case, the sheer thrust and rawness of production works for them, standing them out from Mr. Bison and adding to their own take, which doesn’t necessarily shy away from aggression. As Ripple Music stares down the prospect of this new series, one wonders just what will emerge from Turned to Stone. Standing astride The Second Coming of Heavy helped the label become among the foremost purveyors of American underground heavy rock and found them increasingly branching out in aesthetic. If Turned to Stone furthers that mission, it can only be considered a worthy cause.

[Clarification: The digital version of the release lists Mr. Bison as the first band, where on vinyl it’s Spacetrucker on side A. Apologies for any confusion this causes.]

Spacetrucker & Mr. Bison, Turned to Stone Chapter 1 – Enter Galactic Wasteland (2020)

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Friday Full-Length: Various Artists, Blue Explosion: A Tribute to Blue Cheer

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 27th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

The enduring legacy of Blue Cheer — who did no less than shepherd the transition between the ’60s rock and the heavy ’70s, setting a significant blueprint for the latter in terms of tone and bluesy approach — need not be recounted here. Along with the likes of Cream, Jimi Hendrix, and others who took a more volatile turn on the era’s psychedelia and volume push, they were a pivotal act and the work they did in their original run from 1966-1972, as well as in various periods thereafter, continues to resonate, with 1968’s Vincebus Eruptum and 1969’s OutsideInside (discussed here) rightly considered landmarks in the aforementioned temporal and stylistic shift. In a word, they were “important.” They mattered.

There have been plenty of Blue Cheer covers along the way, from artists across the globe, but as regards tribute albums, 1999’s Blue Explosion: A Tribute to Blue Cheer (also discussed here) stands in singular testament to the band’s affect on underground heavy rock and roll and doom. Issued by Italy’s Black Widow Records, it was 16 songs from 15 separate artists, totaling about 78 minutes of material with the following tracklisting:

Various Artists Blue Explosion A Tribute to Blue Cheer1. Pentagram, “Doctor Please”
2. Internal Void, “Parchment Farm”
3. Hogwash, “Magnolia Caboose Babyfinger”
4. Thumlock, “Out of Focus”
5. Natas, “Ride with Me”
6. Fireball Ministry, “Fortunes”
7. Norrsken, “Pilot”
8. Garybaldi, “Fresh Fruit & Iceburgs”
9. Rise and Shine, “Sun Cycle”
10. Wicked Minds, “Just a Little Bit”
11. Standarte, “Sandwich”
12. Space Probe Taurus, “Second Time Around”
13. Drag Pack, “Come and Get It”
14. Vortice Cremisi, “I’m the Light”
15. Ufomammut, “Peace of Mind”
16. Pentagram, “Feathers From Your Tree”

Obviously a few immediate standout names in there. First (and last) is Pentagram, who open and close the proceedings with “Doctor Please” and “Feathers From Your Tree” — two choice cuts as regards the Blue Cheer catalog. It ain’t “Summertime Blues,” which is probably Blue Cheer‘s most known single, but you’ll notice no one takes that on, and that seems like a purposeful decision on the part of the label in terms of staying away from the obvious move. Either way, as regards Pentagram, it’s important to consider the timing. This isn’t Pentagram in 1985 or even in 2009. Victor Griffin is nowhere to be found. This is many years before Sean “Pellet” Pelletier would take over as frontman Bobby Liebling‘s manager/caretaker, and despite the best and noble efforts of Joe Hasselvander handling drums, guitar and bass, Liebling sounds like a human being in the throes of a well-documented heroin addiction. Pentagram were signed to Black Widow at the time, and in 1999 they issued Review Your Choices, which was followed in 2001 by Sub-Basement, and if you know those records, they sound like rough years. You can hear that here too.

Highlights, however, include early-Ufomammut‘s psychedelic rendition of “Peace of Mind,” Internal Void paying simultaneous tribute to Blue Cheer and Cactus with “Parchment Farm,” the shimmering proto-proto-metal of Sweden’s Norrsken — the predecessor that birthed both Witchcraft and Graveyard — doing “Pilot” from 1970’s The Original Human Being, Fireball Ministry‘s “Fortunes” and Rise and Shine‘s “Sun Cycle.” Add to that list Argentina’s Natas, who would soon enough be known as Los Natas, doing a rare song in English with “Ride with Me,” since as far as I’m concerned the guitar tone there is worth whatever price of admission the secondary market might be charging for the disc. If you ever question why I’ll listen to anything Sergio Ch. ever puts out, ever, ever, ever and forever, just listen to that guitar and you’ll have your answer as to how that loyalty was earned.

Further, the fuzz blast of Wicked Minds‘ “Just a Little Bit” and the rawness of Drag Pack‘s “Come and Get It” offer good times to fill out the second half of the disc. These, along with the ’90s post-grunge doom roll of Vortice Cremisi‘s “I’m the Light” and the sure tone of Thumlock earlier on, mean that more than just the bigger names on Blue Explosion have something to offer. There’s a lot to dig, and yeah, some of it is pretty uneven in terms of relative volume and production-style changes from one band to the next — going from Wicked Minds to Standarte is notable, as is Thumlock to Natas, but if you take it as a collection of artists coming together on their own terms to celebrate the legacy of one of heavy rock and roll’s formative acts — i.e., if you take it for what it is — Blue Explosion is both a solid listen and worthy mission.

In my mind, it’s always paired with the 1999 Freedoom Records tribute to Trouble, Bastards Will Pay (discussed here), which I bought around the same time, and which also features Rise and Shine and Norrsken. The latter of course are of particular note because of the paucity of material they actually released — a few demos between 1996 and 1997 and a single in 1999 — and the legacy they cast across Sweden and the rest of Europe in the members’ igniting the continent’s vintage-rock movement. That is an influence that continues to spread, and while Blue Explosion might feature still-active and still-influential bands like Pentagram and Ufomammut and Fireball Ministry, as well as others, the opportunity to chase down output from Norrsken is itself an appeal for the disc as a whole.

I was fortunate enough to see Blue Cheer on what would be their final run as they supported their 2007 release, What Doesn’t Kill You…, which was the same era captured on their 2009 DVD Rocks Europe (review here) — I think the Rockpalast performance is on YouTube at this point, but get the DVD for the bonus interviews with Dickie Peterson, as his stories about Janis Joplin and Grateful Dead are nothing short of amazing — and though of course it wouldn’t have been the same as seeing them some 40 years earlier, it was a chance to relish in and pay homage to the legacy of a crucial band. They were, I can say without reservation, loud as hell. Everything The Rolling Stones were never brave enough to do more than hint at being.

Blue Explosion: A Tribute to Blue Cheer isn’t the same kind of experience, of course, but it’s the same impulse, paying homage to the legacy. Whether you dig in for the academic appeal, curiosity, or just to hear some unfamiliar takes on familiar riffs, I hope you enjoy.

Thanks for reading.

Xmas wasn’t bad. The Pecan learned the word “presents” and how to open same, and he liked the stuffed Pete the Cat and Little Blue Truck and various other such and sundry things — mostly trucks — we and others in my and The Patient Mrs.’ respective family branches got him, so that’s a win. Dude has plenty, plenty, plenty to keep him occupied. The Patient Mrs.’ sister and mother, as well as our niece and nephew on that side, stayed an extra day as well, and my sister’s oldest son came back yesterday to play video games — ace call on my part to tell the CT branch of the family to bring the Nintendo Switch — and my mother, sister, her husband and other nephew came over last night for pizza and leftovers, and it was great having everyone around. There’s a room in this house — the room I’m in now, as it happens — that’s pretty much made for hosting, and I like hosting. And I think The Patient Mrs. does too. So it works out. I dread the holidays. I really do. Got off relatively light, and got a new coffee grinder and mug to boot. So yeah.

New Year’s is next, which means nothing to me except getting used to writing 2020 instead of 2019, which usually takes at least a month, then The Patient Mrs. is going away to a conference in Puerto Rico for a couple days in January — though she’ll be working, I suspect she’ll find the relative change in climate somewhat restorative; at least that’s my hope — and I’ll be on solo duty with Pecan: Toddlerian. Dude and I spent plenty of days on our own this semester as his mom settled into her new job, so I’m not really nervous about it or anything. I’ll be tired. Big change.

I’m gonna punch out in a minute, but a couple quick things:

— The Quarterly Review was originally going to be next week. I’m pushing it back a week. It’ll start Jan. 6.

— The Best of the 2010s poll is being extended for a week. I want to give it more time beyond the Best of 2019 poll.

— There may be a new Gimme Radio show next Friday? I’m not sure yet.

— Going to see Clutch at Starland Ballroom on Monday. That’ll be good.

Thanks for your support in the Best of 2019, Song of the Decade and Album of the Decade posts this week. You warmed my heart, really, and I promise you, promise you, promise you, I don’t take that support for granted. Thank you.

Hope everyone who celebrated Xmas had a good ‘un, and if New Year’s is a party for you, have fun and please be safe. If you need a ride, get one.

FRM: Forum, Radio, Merch at MiBK.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

The Obelisk merch

 

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Ripple Music to Begin Turned to Stone Split Series in Jan.; Mr. Bison & Spacetrucker Taking Part

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 19th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

I’ve been hearing word kicking around for a while that Ripple Music wanted to continue doing a series of splits after the conclusion of The Second Coming of Heavy, which wrapped up with its 10th and final installment this year, and the realization of that promise woulds seem to be taking shape in Turned to Stone. The first “chapter” — a theme continued from the prior series — is titled Enter Galactic Wasteland, and will feature Italy’s Mr. Bison and St. Louis’ Spacetrucker teamed up for a 12″. It was previously announced when Mr. Bison signed to Ripple earlier this year, but more details have now emerged, including the Jan. 17 release date and the cover art by none other than David Paul Seymour, whose work continues to be stunning in technique and use of color. Dude just gets it.

Interestingly, there won’t be preorders for Turned to Stone Chapter 1: Enter Galactic Wasteland, thereby making the onsale-moment something more of an event for those purchasing — the label advises “watch your clocks,” and that’s probably fair enough, if how fast the The Second Coming of Heavy LPs seemed to sell out. With so much focus these days on getting preorders up and in as a part of the promotion of upcoming records though, it’s a noteworthy shift in method. I’m curious to see if and how it works.

From Ripple‘s social medias:

mr bison spacetrucker turned to stone

So many people are bummed that The Second Coming of Heavy split series has finished and have been asking me what’s next?

This!

Brace yourselves, as we get set to release the first chapter of our new ongoing 12” split series “Turned To Stone” Over a year in the planning, Chapter 1: Enter Galactic Wasteland features brand new sides from MR.BISON and Spacetrucker! Art by the ever amazing David Paul Seymour

It’s out January 17th, 2020. No preorders, so watch your clocks. Time of sale to be announced.

https://www.facebook.com/theripplemusic/
https://www.instagram.com/ripplemusic/
https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/
http://www.ripple-music.com/

Cortez & Wasted Theory, The Second Coming of Heavy: Chapter 9 (2018)

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Heavy Psych Sounds Announces New Sampler Vol. V Featuring New Music from Disastroid, Big Scenic Nowhere, Giöbia and More

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 5th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Vol. V is the latest in Heavy Psych Sounds‘ ongoing series of label samplers highlighting new releases and new bands from its constantly-expanding roster. This time around it’s got new music from Big Scenic Nowhere with Gary Arce from Yawning Man and Bob Balch from Fu Manchu, as well as recent stuff from Planet of ZeusYawning ManEcstatic VisionNebula and others. A new track from Giöbia is of further interest — their record is good, watch out for more from it — and I’m pretty sure that this is the first word that Heavy Psych Sounds will be working with San Francisco’s Disastroid, whose latest full-length, Screen (review here), came out in 2017.

The song that’s included here, “8-Hour Parking,” isn’t featured on any of the band’s other releases on their Bandcamp, so while I wouldn’t say whether there’s a new LP in the works that the Italian label will issue or anything like that without the proper confirmation, it’s certainly something to keep an eye on. I’ll be expecting another press release in three… two… one…

Before that gets here, let me post this one in  my ongoing effort to be even remotely caught up on the imprint’s doings:

heavy psych sounds vol 5

HEAVY PSYCH SOUNDS RECORDS To Release Brand New Label Sampler!

Heavy Psych Sounds VOL.V coming December 6th!

Cult and fuzz rock label, Heavy Psych Sounds, has announced to release a brand new sampler on December 6th 2019. VOL.V will feature a finest selection of the company’s eclectic artist roster – from recent to upcoming and hotly anticipated releases, but one is sure: this sampler will make every low tunes’ fan and desert rock heart beat faster!

For more than a decade, Heavy Psych Sounds specializes in presenting the best artists in the global heavy psych, doom, fuzz blues, space punk, stoner rock and all its great sub-genres, and their favored sampler- series is no exception, spotlighting the ever-growing label’s roster and diverse release schedule. Established in 2007 in Rome, Italy, Heavy Psych Sounds Records & Booking belongs to the TOP address for all heavy rock record collectors, but has also become an important live and festival institution to the scene. Today the label proudly revealed the details of their forthcoming, new sampler VOL.V – that will feature high class names and massive tracks from such as BRANT BJORK, BIG SCENIC NOWHERE ( the all-star-project featuring members of FU MANCHU, NEBULA & many more! ), YAWNING MAN, NICK OLIVERI, ALUNAH, PLANET OF ZEUS, ACID MAMMOTH among many more killer acts; introducing the sound of Heavy Psych to new fans and sending an early Christmas gift to longtime friends of the label family!

VOL.V Tracklisting:
1782 – Oh Mary
Acid Mammoth – Them
Alunah – Dance of Deceit
Big Scenic Nowhere – Shadows from the Altar
Brant Bjork – Mexico City Blues
Disastroid – 8 Hour Parking
Duel – Red Moon Forming
Ecstatic Vision – Grasping the Void
Giöbia – In The Dawn Light
Gorilla – Scum of the Earth
Mondo Generator – Listening to the Daze
Nebula – Man’s best Friend
Nick Oliveri – U.S.A.
Nightstalker – Black Cloud
Planet of Zeus – All These Happy People
Ryte – Invaders
Yawning Man – Virtual Funeral

Set for a release on December 6th 2019 as Digifile and Digital formats, the pre-sale of VOL.V has just started at THIS LOCATION!

You will also automatically find the label’s brand new sampler in your mailing boxes when purchasing from their store, at the merch booth of the Heavy Psych Sounds bands on tour, and of course, at the upcoming Heavy Psych Sounds FEST-series! Be quick to purchase your ticket for THE riff and haze party of the year at several European hot-spots and to kick off into 2020 in style, the latest edition of Heavy Psych Sounds Fest that just took place in Innsbruck, Austria, has been sold out:

HEAVY PSYCH SOUNDS FESTIVALS – 2019/2020:

06-07.12.2019 BERLIN, DE
feat. Monolord, Black Rainbows, Sonic Dawn, Giöbia, Alunah & many more, presented by Greyzone Concerts & Heavy Psych Sounds: www.facebook.com/events/328145071206018/

06-07.12.2019 DRESDEN, DE
feat. Monolord, Black Rainbows, Sonic Dawn, Giöbia, Alunah & many more, presented by ElbSludge Booking & Heavy Psych Sounds: www.facebook.com/events/658161097944810/

05.03.2020 PARIS, FR
feat. Mondo Generator, Black Rainbows, Duel & many more, presented by Dead Pig & Heavy Psych Sounds: www.facebook.com/events/373510489998041/

06.03.2020 ANTWERP, BE
feat. Mondo Generator, Black Rainbows, Duel & many more, presented by Metadone & Heavy Psych Sounds: www.facebook.com/events/1132883210255029/

07.03.2020 LONDON, UK
feat. Mondo Generator, Black Rainbows, Duel & many more, presented by Desert Scene & Heavy Psych Sounds: www.facebook.com/events/2319488838292180/

08.03.2020 DEVENTER, NL
feat. Mondo Generator, Black Rainbows, Duel & many more, presented by SOZ Concerts & Heavy Psych Sounds: www.facebook.com/events/736779630067268/

heavypsychsoundsrecords.bandcamp.com
www.heavypsychsounds.com
https://www.facebook.com/HEAVYPSYCHSOUNDS/

Disastroid, Screen (2017)

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