Desertfest Berlin 2015: The Sun and the Wolf Added to Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 23rd, 2015 by JJ Koczan

the sun and the wolf (photo by Katarzyna Borelowska)

Desertfest Berlin 2015 isn’t letting the week end without adding another band to the mix, and this time around it’s The Sun and the Wolf, who’ve recently released their second album, Salutations, on World in Sound. Based in Berlin now but originating in Auckland, New Zealand, The Sun and the Wolf join a blazing Desertfest lineup that already features Orange GoblinRed FangAcid King and Brant Bjork, among many others, and the fest is set to take place April 23-25 at the Astra Kulturhaus, which I hear kicks all kinds of ass. Wouldn’t mind finding out for myself one of these years.

Info follows, complete with The Sun and the Wolf‘s bio from World in Sound, in case you’d like to familiarize before you get lost in the stream of Salutations:

the sun and the wolf desertfest berlin 2015

It’s time for a new announcement! We are pleased to tell you that the Berlin-based outfit The Sun And The Wolf are now confirmed for DesertFest Berlin 2015!

They freshly released via World in Sound their second album “Salutations”, gladly made to fans of psychedelic music and adventures in sound! Stream it here, it’s a killer, and get your ticket to attend the festival on! (85€ + taxes)

World In Sound presents its first release with Kiwi roots with the young and ambitious quartet “Sun and the Wolf”. Salutations is their return, the second full length album which opens the gates to a psychedelic soaked wonderland. The nine analog recorded cuts are dynamically arranged continuing on from the explosive and overdriven rhythm and blues that their debut LP “White Buffalo” boasted, while exploring darker realms of fuzz driven psychedelia with catchy riffage and splashes of The Beatles´ lysergic era. Tales of heartbreak, debauchery and deceit echoing from a far away room, the guitar driven sound shows a band soulful and haunted in their delivery, live and on record.

The group relocated from Auckland to Berlin in late 2008 leaving behind a band formerly known as “The Have”. Formed in their teens, the band carved its name upon the New Zealand rock’n’roll scene. There they experienced commercial radio and television success, were invited to SXSW in Texas twice and had their debut album produced by Barrett Jones who worked with Nirvana and The Melvins. They have shared stages with likes as Sleepy Sun, Kasabian, Wolfmother, Dead Meadow, A Place To Bury Strangers and standout festival performances at the notorious Fusion Festival. Salutations creates an exciting and unexpectedly colourful spectrum throughout its duration!

DESERTFEST BERLIN #4 – APRIL 23th, 24th, 25th 2015

Red Fang + Orange Goblin + Brant Bjork & The Low Desert Punk Band + Acid King + Ufomammut + My Sleeping Karma + Conan + Black Pyramid + Karma To Burn + Brutus + Dopethrone + The Atomic Bitchwax + Lo-Pan + The Picturebooks + Toner Low + Dirty Fences + Heat + Mountain Witch + Mother Engine + The Sun And The Wolf + Riff Fist + Travelin Jack + many more acts

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Last Licks 2014: Seven that Spells, Elliott’s Keep, The Lone Crows, Krautzone, L’Ira del Baccano, Lae, Atomikylä, Deaf Proof, Jastreb and Arctic Sleep

Posted in Reviews on January 1st, 2015 by JJ Koczan

I thought last night about changing the name of this feature to “First Licks 2015,” but on further reflection, that’s just too much licking. It’s bad enough as it is. All the same, Happy New Year to you and yours, wherever you and they may be. I hope in 2015, your reviews pile never gets so backed up that you think about doing something so absolutely insane as tackling them all at once to wipe the slate clean. Then again, being completely inundated with music has its upsides. The music, for one.

We press on today with the fourth installment in the “Last Licks 2014” series. These are reviews 31-40. I passed the halfway point yesterday with barely so much as an inward breath to appreciate the moment, and I can only hope the pile of discs before me goes so smoothly. I’ll let you know when I get there. Until then, no need to dally, let’s get underway with the first reviews of 2015.

Thanks for reading:

Seven that Spells, The Death and Resurrection of Krautrock: Io

seven that spells the death and resurrection of krautrock io

Reportedly second in a series of three albums from Croatian heavy psych rockers Seven that Spells, The Death and Resurrection of Krautrock: Io follows a first installment subtitled Aum released in 2011 and brings forth heady, mostly instrumental progressions of extended runtimes and a satisfying blend of weighted tones and stylistic clarity. The three-piece who released their first album in 2003 alternate between three shorter pieces and two longer ones across the 47-minute Sulatron Records outing’s five tracks, and while I’m not entirely sure what is the narrative that’s taking place across them, there’s definitely a plotted course and concept at work behind the material – it does not come across as haphazard in any way. When they arrive, vocals do so as chants coinciding with sweeping passages, as on “Burning Blood,” the culmination of which is worthy of being the apex of a trilogy in progress. Io takes the off-the-cuff authenticity in heavy psych and gives it direction and purpose beyond simply being. No small feat, no small results.

Seven that Spells on Thee Facebooks

Sulatron Records

Elliott’s Keep, Nascentes Morimur

elliott's keep nascentes morimur

Some metal isn’t doom, some doom isn’t metal, but Texas trio Elliott’s Keep play doom metal, and make no mistake. Their third long-player, Nascentes Morimur, comes after 2008’s In Medias Res (review here) and 2010’s Sine Qua Non (review here), and like them, it was produced and mixed by J.T. Longoria, so that their darkened, metallic chugging is presented with a crisp bite. The three-piece of Kenneth Greene (bass/vocals), Jonathan Bates (guitar) and Joel Bates (drums) toy with the balance between death and doom effectively across Nascentes Morimur’s nine tracks, making highlights of early moments like the double-kick-laden “Now Taken” and the chorus of the proceeding “Days of Hell.” Later cuts like “Tale of Grief” and “Omen” follow suit, with Jonathan riffing out classic metal vibes while Greene switches between clean singing and a rasping, almost black metal in places, scream. Their command never wavers, though, and while there have never been many frills about their approach, Elliott’s Keep have come to offer a fist-pumpingly heavy, sharp-edged push.

Elliott’s Keep on Thee Facebooks

Elliott’s Keep on Bandcamp

The Lone Crows, Dark Clouds

the lone crows dark clouds

Bluesy Minneapolis double-guitar four-piece The Lone Crows show an affinity for classic rock stylization on their World in Sound second full-length, Dark Clouds. Produced modern, with lead guitar front and center, there’s more rock to Dark Clouds than heavy rock, but the vocal style of guitarist Tim Barbeau – joined in the band by guitarist Julian Manzara, bassist Andy Battcher and drummer Joe Goff – has some ‘90s inflection to it, and every now and then they get into a bit of bounce, as on the title-track and “The Dragon.” The penultimate “Midnight Show” would seem like the peak of the album, and sure enough it has one of its best hooks, but the recording doesn’t allow for the same push one imagines the material would carry live, and the quiet ending of “On that Day” feels flat compared to some of The Lone Crows’ bluesy peers. I chalk it up to the difference between blues rock and heavy rock and my own expectations, rather than some fault in the band.

The Lone Crows on Thee Facebooks

World in Sound

Krautzone, Kosmiche Rituale

krautzone kosmiche rituale

I’m not sure if it would be appropriate to call Krautzone an offshoot of Zone Six, of which all four members – guitarist Rainer Neeff, synth-providers Modulfix and Sula Bassana, and percussionist Komet Lulu (the latter two also of Electric Moon) – take part, plus bassist Onkel Kaktus, but either way, the sound is nebulous, brilliantly textured for a meditative, slow-motion churn, and utterly engrossing. Their Sulatron debut, Kosmiche Rituale, is comprised of three lengthy explorations, tones washing in and out of each, smoothly offset by Neeff’s flight-taken guitar, minimal but earthy percussion and an improvised sensibility. “Liebe” (12:46) and “Kosmiche Rituale” (9:09) comprise side A and “Only Fools Rush In” (20:41) consumes side B entirely, a wash of synth and cymbals announcing its arrival as it sets about unfolding its long course, every bit living up to the album’s title in the process. Krautzone also released a split with Lamp of the Universe in 2014 (review here), but on their own, they shine with the chance to really stretch out.

Krautzone on Thee Facebooks

Sulatron Records

L’Ira del Baccano, Terra 42

l'ira del baccano terra 42

Italian instrumentalists L’Ira del Baccano make their full-length debut with the lushly conceived Terra 42, a six-track, 57-minute outing that works in three overarching “phases.” The first of them includes tracks one through three and is dubbed “The Infinite Improbability Drive,” and it makes up more than half the album’s runtime, the first, 13-minute part standing alone while the two subsequent nine-minute stretches feed one directly into the next in a psychedelic wash of open guitar building to a raucous heavy rock finish. Phase II, “Sussurri… Nel Bosco di Diana” is the next two cuts, and moves smoothly from a Yawning Man-style jam to more riff-based thickness. The longest individual part, Phase III, is the 14-minute “Volcano X13,” track six, on which the band move fluidly through their heavy psych and rock impulses, synth and guitar intertwining well as L’Ira del Baccano affirm their more-than-burgeoning stylistic breadth. It’s an interesting, somewhat familiar blend, but they put it to good use on Terra 42 and engage with the spaciousness created.

L’Ira del Baccano on Thee Facebooks

Subsound Records

Lae, Break the Clasp

lae break the clasp

Reactivated Montreal noisemakers Lae enlisted the help of their producer, Today is the Day’s Steve Austin, in handling lead vocals for their debut, Break the Clasp, which is a move fitting for their anti-genre approach to noise, drone, doom, post-everything, and so on. A Battleground Records/The Compound release, Break the Clasp reworks unheard material from Lae’s original run in the mid-‘90s – an album that never came out, essentially – but the vitality in the 13 tracks (yes, even the crushingly slow ones) is fresh to the point of its newness, and even the parts meant to be abrasive, opener “Sexy Sadie” or pieces of “17 Queen,” for example, hold onto a wonderful depth the mix and a feeling of texture that feeds Break the Clasp’s otherworldly spirit and brings you along its path of consuming strangeness. Austin is a presence, but by no means the star, and the whole band Lae shines across Break the Clasp’s fascinating span. A debut no one knew they were awaiting, but they were.

Lae on Thee Facebooks

Earsplit Distro

Atomikylä, Erkale

atomikyla erkale

Psychedelia implying such a colorful sound, and black metal implying essentially the absence of that color, the two have rarely been paired well, but Finnish four-piece Atomikylä display a resounding space on their five-song debut full-length, Erkale (released by Future Lunch), and they’re not through the 13-minute opener, “Aluaineet,” before I think they might have mastered the balance between effects wash, unmitigated thrust and far-back screaming that most others have left too far to one side or the other. The four-piece with a lineup half from Oranssi Pazuzu and half from Dark Buddha Rising don’t stay in one place stylistically – the title-track has an almost krautrock feel, while the subsequent “Ihmiskallo” is more resolved to doom – but they keep a consistency of blinding bleakness to Erkale that results in a decidedly individualized feel throughout the 48 minutes. Droning and jazzy guitar experimentalism prevails in “Who Goes There,” and 10-minute closer “Musta Kulta” both broadens the atmosphere and underscores Atomikylä’s vicious stylistic triumph, capping Erkale with a mash of squibblies and screams, effects and distortion that’s so filthy it can’t help but be beautiful.

Atomikylä on Thee Facebooks

Future Lunch

Deaf Proof, Death Sounds Angry

deaf proof death sounds angry

Freiburg, Germany, trio Deaf Proof – guitarist/vocalist J. Fredo, bassist JP and drummer Pedro – released their first demo in 2013, but the three-song/34-minute EP (it’s more like an album, but I won’t argue) Death Sounds Angry is a decidedly more assured, professional affair. The vibe is loose and, in the reaches of 18-minute middle cut “Origin of Pain,” jammy, but the three-piece still seem to have some idea of where they want their material to go, even as they feel their way toward those ends. A Colour Haze influence? Maybe, but less than one might think given the current climate of European heavy psych. JP’s bass has a tendency toward darker undertones, and when they hit the payoffs for “Death Sounds Angry and Hungry for More,” “Origin of Pain” and “The Sense,” they reveal themselves to be in search of something heavier and less peaceful. J. Fredo’s vocals are a little forward in the mix, but Death Sounds Angry still offers plenty to chew on for the converted.

Deaf Proof on Thee Facebooks

Deaf Proof on Bandcamp

Jastreb, Mother Europe

jastreb mother europe

Progressive, mostly instrumental and hypnotic, Zagreb, Croatia, trio Jastreb released their self-titled debut as a single 36-minute song in 2012, and the follow-up, Mother Europe (on HauRucK), is no less ambitious. Vocals appear here and there, both from the core three-piece and a guest spot, but the heart of what Jastreb do is rooted in their ability to craft movements that pull listeners in without falling into lulls of unconsciousness – to wit, the repetitions of “The Black Mountain” seem still but are constantly building and moving forward – as well as in arrangement flourishes like synth, Hammond, sitar and violin among the shades of post-metal in “Haemmer” or the bleary, drone-backed opener “North,” which comes companioned by the subtle churn of “South” to end the album. Not necessarily psychedelic in a loose or jammy sense, but immersive, and purposeful in its variety; the sitar and guest vocals on “The Silver Spire” arrive just at the moment when one thinks they might have heard it all. Could say the same of the record itself, I suppose.

Jastreb on Thee Facebooks

Jastreb’s BigCartel store


Arctic Sleep, Passage of Gaia

arctic sleep passage of gaia

Passage of Gaia is the sixth album from progressive melo-doomers Arctic Sleep. A four-piece from Milwaukee including bassist/drummer/cellist/vocalist Keith D, guitarist Mike Gussis and vocalist Emily Jancetic (John Gleisner plays drums live), one is reminded both of the Floydian consciousness of mid-period Anathema (my go-to comparison point for this kind of stuff, admittedly) and the drama in Katatonia and some of Novembers Doom’s clean sections, but ultimately, Arctic Sleep emerge from the eight-track/54-minute DIY long-player with their own personality, measured out in the careful vocal collaboration between Keith D and Jancetic, songs like “Terra Vindicta,” “Green Dragon” and “Passage of Gaia,” and the varied structures between the more rocking “Terra Vindicta” and the build of “Solar Lament.” Through it all, nothing’s out of balance, and Arctic Sleep execute Passage of Gaia with the poise demanded by the style and the fact that it’s their sixth album, accomplishment suiting them as well as the melancholy of closer “Destroy the Urn,” which almost loses its restraint at the end. Almost.

Arctic Sleep on Thee Facebooks

Arctic Sleep at CDBaby

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The Obelisk Radio Adds: Blues Pills, Moab, Monobrow, Prisma Circus, Major Kong, Mope

Posted in Radio on July 3rd, 2014 by JJ Koczan

Click here to listen.

Lots to get to on this holiday week, but I didn’t want to let the Radio Adds slide any longer than I already have. As ever, there’s a lot of good stuff joining the ranks, and hopefully if you listen, you find something you dig. That’s what it’s all about. Also about giving me a never-ending playlist to listen to while I vacuum, apparently. But still, definitely both.

You’ll note six adds instead of five this time around. Every now and then there’s just too much going on to play by your own limits.

The Obelisk Radio Adds for July 3, 2014:

Blues Pills, Blues Pills

The awaited self-titled debut from Blues Pills arrives via Nuclear Blast in August and finds the four-piece with the blazing rhythm section of bassist Zack Anderson and drummer Cory Berry culled from the former ranks of Radio Moscow, French guitarist Dorian Sorriaux and Swedish frontwoman Elin Larsson almost frighteningly cohesive and cognizant of their blues rock lineage. Larsson does a solid Tina Turner on opener “High Class Woman” — as much as anybody can — and Sorriaux quickly proves himself a wunderkind in classic shuffle. Blues Pills offer all the heavy ’70s influence one could ask with less of the retro aesthetic, giving their first record a refreshing charge, though closer “Little Sun” has plenty of Graveyard-style melancholy for those looking to hear it. A relatively subdued midsection in “Black Smoke,” “River” and “No Hope Left for Me” adds emotional depth, but when Blues Pills decide to tear it up, as on “Devil Man,” they’re more than able to do so. A dynamic first full-length from an obviously powerful four-piece. On Thee Facebooks, Nuclear Blast.

Major Kong, Doom for the Black Sun

A two-years-later limited vinyl issue of Polish instrumental stoner doomers Major Kong‘s Doom for the Black Sun debut long-player courtesy of Transubstans Records should be a welcome advent for those who worship riffs, as the trio clearly do. The tracklist is shifted some from the original release and the artwork has changed, but Major Kong are true to the Kyuss reference of their album’s title in their commitment to heavy nod ‘n’ roll. Fuzz abounds and the grooves are smooth as “Witches on My Land” opens up into “The Swamp Altar,” each song getting progressively longer until bassist Domel, guitarist Misiek and drummer Bolek arrive at the 11-minute finale of “Primordial Gas Clouds,” a huge jam peppered by airy psychedelic soloing that doesn’t so much build to a grand finish as it does melt the album down into a molten stew of reverb and fermented buzz. Major Kong released a subsequent single, “Sequoia” early in 2013 and a follow-up full-length in Jan. 2014’s Doom Machine, so there’s plenty of ground to cover for further investigation. On Bandcamp, on Thee Facebooks, Transubstans Records.

Moab, Scion A/V Presents Billow

There are a lot of bands who balance riffs and melody, but few sound as natural or as fluid as Moab in doing so. The L.A.-based three-piece follow their 2011 Kemado Records debut, Ab Ovo (discussed here) with Billow, a self-produced nine-track collection presented by Scion A/V that furthers the noise-rock crunch of their guitars while also branching into languid heavy psychedelic washes (“Said it Would”), tribal-style percussive insistence (“I Concede”) and generally bigger, wider-sounding sonic spaces. Guitarist/vocalist Andrew Giacumakis holds mostly to a subdued delivery no matter the madness unfolding behind him — witness the stomp with bassist Joe Fuentes and drummer Erik Herzog on “No Soul” — and in addition to proffering some infectious hooks along the way, the approach also gives Billow a sense of purpose beyond heaviness for its own sake, Moab‘s element of restraint putting their material in league with Radiohead as much as the Melvins, while offering something that should appeal to fans of either, both or neither. Here even more than on the first record, they’ve crafted their own sound, and they’re giving it away for free. On Thee Facebooks, download Billow.

Monobrow, Big Sky, Black Horse

Big Sky, Black Horse is the third self-released vinyl from large-riffing Ottowa trio Monobrow following 2012’s Bennington Triangle Blues and their 2010 self-titled debut (review here), and immediately the instrumentalists set about knowing their business when it comes to putting the riffs front and center and backing up with strong, forward-pushing rhythmic drive. Parts of Big Sky, Black Horse feel derived from Karma to Burn‘s all-straightforward-all-the-time mentality, but by and large, Monobrow have a more upbeat approach, and even on a mid-paced groove like “These Mountains Don’t Want us Here,” the 8:27 second track of the total eight, they use their longer runtimes to showcase fluidity in pacing and genre-minded stylistic depth. It’s an easy record to dig, and I dig it, whether it’s the bass-led thud of “Old Man Mouthbreather” or the go-anywhere 11-minute apex the album receives in its title-track, which starts big, ends big and is big in the middle. Beware the quiet parts in that song and a cut like “Ancient Arctic Wanderer,” as stretches of silence only seem to presage the next round of riffy pummeling. Monobrow seem comfortable working in either modus, and their third offering is a primo boon to fellow riff-heads. On Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp.

Mope, Mope

Put into the right hands and through the right effects pedals, a saxophone can be a formidable tool in the psychedelic woodshed. Slow-rolling Italian foursome Mope clearly realize this on their three-track self-titled full-length debut CD, which comes in a digipak with gorgeous Snailking-esque black and white art from guitarist Jessica Rassi. They’re not long into opener “Old Grey Street” (7:32) before Sara Twinn distinguishes herself in adding a smoky melody atop the doomly vibes unfolding from Rassi, bassist Stefano Parodi and drummer Fabio Cuomo, and the dreamy-but-still-very-very-heavy mood Mope establish in the first track holds firm on the subsequent “Doomed to Feed the Ground” (12:58) and “La Caduta” (9:58) as well, the instrumental band sticking to a balance between psychedelic and stoner-doom impulses. Hypnosis ensues. The centerpiece is perhaps the most immersive of the three inclusions on the Taxi Driver Records outing, with its surprise piano at the beginning and sparse, minimalist ending, but across the board, Mope hone an engaging depth of presentation by which it’s a pleasure to be subsumed. Ending slow and jazzy on “La Caduta,” Mope‘s Mope is one to close your eyes and just go with. On Thee Facebooks, at Taxi Driver’s Bandcamp.

Prisma Circus, Reminiscences

I don’t know how many times I’ve said it over the years, but, oh, what a difference a great drummer can make. Spanish classic heavy rock power trio Prisma Circus separate themselves on their World in Sound debut full-length, Reminiscences, from the scores of post-Graveyard retro worshipers thanks in no small part to the unmitigated swing in drummer Alex Carmona Blanco‘s playing. Couple that with the fiery leads of guitarist Oscar Garcia Albizu and warm, steady fills and bluesy exultations of bassist Joaquín Escudero Arce and Prisma Circus bang out thick-cut chops on their eight-track outing, starting with longest cut “The Mirror” (immediate points) and tapping into some Radio Moscow-style psych-blues volatility along the way. “Born in a Red House” slows the proceedings some, but Blanco kicks out a drum solo on the subsequent “Napalm” that lives up to the title, and the lighter back-half acoustics of “Cain” and the power trio thrust of “Onyx Star” ensure that Reminiscences stays satisfying to the bitter end, capping off with the smooth roll-out of “Joseph Merrick (The Elephant Man),” which turns tempos fast enough to require multiple listens just to keep up. They may not be innovating the style at this point, but Prisma Circus are tight enough to stand out anyway. On Thee Facebooks, on Bandcamp, World in Sound.

Righteous though these grooves are, this is less than half of everything that joined The Obelisk Radio playlist this week. See the updates page for the complete list.

Thanks for reading and listening.

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Doctor Cyclops Go Behind-the-Scenes in New Documentary

Posted in Bootleg Theater on May 7th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

By way of a confession, I’ve had the World in Sound release of Doctor Cyclops‘ latest and debut outing, Oscuropasso, on my stack to review longer than I care to admit. I’m trying. In the meantime, though, the Italian heavy trio have unveiled a new documentary by Barnabil Produzioni that goes behind the scenes with the first five years of the band, showing backstage footage, live footage, travel shenanigans, and interviews to give the trad rockers’ perspective on where they are and the passion that drives what they do.

It’s called Borgopasso: Doctor Cyclops Not the Movie, which I guess is the band’s way of reserving the right to have a longer movie about themselves come out down the line and not have it be a sequel? Not sure what’s going on there, but it’s a cool and stylized look at the trio anyway, and whether you’re a fan of the Oscuropasso or someone unfamiliar, it tells a story I think a lot of people can relate to in terms of music defining a key part of their lives.

Check it out below, followed by the band’s announcement of its release and their tour dates for later this month:

Borgopasso: Doctor Cyclops Not the Movie

Ladies & Gentlemen, dogs & cats, stoned and boozes… We are more than proud to introduce you the first-ever documentary about Doctor Cyclops. It celebrates the first five years of activity of our band. Directed by our friend and film-maker Luca Chinaglia and produced by his own company Barnabil Produzioni, it’s been shot during a tour between Italy, Switzerland, France and Austria last may and october 2013… The Bruch Brothers, Le Brin de Zinc, United Club, Mark Kulturzentrum, Freysitz Bar, Ann-and Pat and probably your good self are surely involved…. Enjoy and please help us sharing it!

Doctor Cyclops will take a new Swiss/German tour [this] month. Here it is…”The German Crossing part II”. Will you join us?

16.05: (IT) Mondovì@Ca’ di matt
17.05: (CH) St.Gallen@Rumpeltum
18.05: (CH) Luzern@Bruch Brothers
21.05: (DE) Wurzburg@Immerhin
22.05: (DE) Hamlar@Rockmusic
23.05: (DE) Berlin@Jagerklause
24.05: (DE) Zwickau@Ugly Bar

Doctor Cyclops on Thee Facebooks

Barnabil Produzioni on Thee Facebooks

World in Sound

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In the Round: ’60s and ’70s Heavy Psych from C.K. Strong, Cosmic Dealer, Darius, Dragonwyck and Mystic Siva

Posted in Reviews on March 13th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

For those who’d go exploring, the World in Sound back catalog provides considerable terrain to cover. Though their contemporary work with acts like The Flying Eyes, Samsara Blues Experiment, Doctor Cyclops, Prisma Circus, etc., is exemplary, a whole other side of the German imprint is dedicated to rereleasing albums of the original psychedelic era, circa-’68 to circa-’74, and they’ve done so over the years with a tally of considerable accomplishments along the way. To get a decent sampling of the scope of some of their wares, I rounded up five discs with a real sense of variety between them and set the controls for the heart of the red sun. Dig it:

C.K. Strong, C.K. Strong (1969)

Bluesy, bluesy, bluesy. California based five-piece C.K. Strong — who took the initials of their moniker from the last names of vocalist Lynn Carey and guitarist Jefferson Kewley — recorded their debut in Hollywood, and it’s easy to imagine how there would’ve been a buzz around them. Though she would’ve been a couple years behind Janis Joplin, Carey was in possession at the time of a stellar vocal range, convincingly soulful delivery and impressive command. Combined with the burgeoning weight in Kewley and fellow guitarist Geoff Westen‘s tones and in songs like the nine-minute “Trilogy,” a jammy meandering comes to ground with crisp and memorable verses. The self-titled trades shorter songs off longer ones until it gets to the closing duo of the shuffling “Rolling down the Highway” and more brooding, smoke-blues plucked “Daddy,” on which Carey — who’d release an album under the name Mama Lion and pose for Penthouse in 1972 — lets loose a series of shrill chirps that sound like the kind of curiosity one hears on old Zeppelin bootlegs, only clearer and more ably performed. The dominance of the vocals and guitar can be a bit much to take at times, but there are a couple gems here that beg investigation.

Cosmic Dealer, Child of Tomorrow (1973)

The World in Sound version of Cosmic Dealer‘s Child of Tomorrow brings together the original album — recorded in 1973 but never released — with earlier material and live bonus tracks from around their 1971 debut, Crystalization, so it’s a substantial mix that plays out over the course of the CD’s 67 minutes, but the live finale “Cosmic Jam” that closes out is worth waiting for. If the Dutch band had formed in 2011 and sent this to me this week as a live demo, I’d still call it awesome. Eight minutes and instrumental, it soaks what we now think of as vintage guitar and bass tones in wah and provides a decent look at how earlier highlights like “Sinners Confession” and “Julia” came about. There’s some progressive sensibility on display in the well-harmonized “Winterwind” and earlier “You’re So Good,” but Cosmic Dealer — who also win the battle for best logo — did well to shift their approach up, with multiple songwriters taking the fore on the album as it’s presented here. Listening through, there’s a clear divide in production value when “Julia” ends and the rehearsal recording “Don’ You Know (Footprints in the Sand)” starts, but as a compilation and unearthing of the band’s lost second LP, there’s not much to ask of Child of Tomorrow that it doesn’t deliver.

Darius, Darius (1969)

Somewhere between the tropes of early full-band acid rock and singer-songwriterisms, one finds the curiosity of Darius, who recorded his self-titled debut in 1969. Shades of Elvis Presley show up on “Don’t You Get the Feelin'” and “Sweet Mama,” which is fitting since the rhythm section was comprised of players who had and would work with The King. As for Darius (né Robert J. Ott) himself, he ties the diverse material together with deceptive ease (and, as the cover shows, landmark hair), no less at home in The Turtles-style sweetpop than he is in the fuzzed out blues of “Ancient Paths” and “Dirty Funky Situation.” Most of the songs check in under three minutes long — the most expansive is instrumental closer “Peace and Love” at 4:44 — so it’s almost a collection of accessible snippets, though that’s not to say tracks don’t work well one into the next, because they do. The self-titled would get a follow-up with Darius II in 1971 (released by World in Sound in 2002), but Ott‘s solo career was cut short by a car accident in ’74, though he continued to write and produce into the ’80s with his band The Earthlings and remained active until passing away in 2006 after a fight with cancer. As a legacy piece, I won’t say all of Darius fits my personal tastes, but I’ve never heard quite as efficient a summary of the various sounds of the period from just one artist, so it seems fair to consider the album a significant if largely unheralded achievement.

Dragonwyck, Chapter 2 (1973)

Even before they get to the multi-vocal/mellotron wash of “Freedom Son,” there’s a significant enough amount of prog influence in Dragonwyck‘s 1973 second offering, Chapter 2 — coupled here with two cuts from a subsequent 1974 single — to trace back to a more fully-toned Jethro Tull. The keys are a major factor in the Ohioans’ approach here, and one imagines they would’ve made a hell of a double-bill with fellow Clevelanders Granicus at the Agora, though that act was more Zeppelin-minded where although Dragonwyck seem to be knocking on the door of early King Crimson instrumentally and The Doors vocally in “Dead Man,” they’re ultimately more concerned with texture than forward drive. Whether or not that was the case on their 1969 debut, I don’t know, but Chapter 2 has underlying sonic heft that isn’t completely lost in the tradeoff for more complex stylization. Bonus tracks in the six-panel digipak include “Lovin’ the Boys” and “The Music” (the latter which also appears on the album), and offer a Who-style theatricality and clearer focus on melody, though that does come at the expense of some of the album-proper’s grit, such as it is with the ready blend of acoustic and electric guitars, keyboards and vocals that, in another context, would’ve been well-suited to psychedelic folk.

Mystic Siva, Mystic Siva (1970)

Brightly toned but still substantially heavy, the 1970 self-titled debut from Mystic Siva was recorded when the Detroit outfit were teenagers. As the liner notes tell, they were unhappy with the mix at the time, with going direct line instead of mic’ing the amps, but the reissue addresses this with a new mix direct from the original tapes, as well as a new mastering job. As such, what you get is heavy, organ-laced rock that’s raw stylistically but still presented with an overarching sonic clarity — a rare balance. The songs themselves, cuts like opener “Keeper of the Keys,” “Come on Closer” and the penultimate “Touch the Sky,” demonstrate a nascent but already consistent approach on the part of the band, who also rereleased their second album, Under the Influence (1970), through World in Sound in 2002. For those who can’t get enough of the particular vibe and low groove of the heavy ’70s, Mystic Siva should be a welcome addition to the collection, and in this version, has major label sheen and private press dirt in just the right amounts, songs like “Eyes Have Seen Me” and the swirling, lead-topped “Supernatural Mind” offering sonic space and straightforward crunch in no less a satisfying balance.

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World in Sound Offers Free Voyage through the Ages Sampler

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 10th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

There’s little I’m going to argue against less than free psychedelia, and if you’re in the mood, German imprint World in Sound have a new compilation called Voyage through the Ages that plots a pretty ambitious cosmic course. The mission? To summarize the relationship between modern psychedelia and that of the earliest days of the movement, or as they put it on the cover of the thing, to “Witness Yesterday Becoming Today!”

It’s a cool idea, and they’ve made it easy with each included song having not only the year of its release right in the title, but also the artist/band’s country of origin, so you get a sense of flavor not only of eras, but different places in Europe and the US and how mind-expansion was treated where and when. In both modern stuff like Doctor Cyclops and Buddha Sentenza and classic-era inclusions like Cosmic Dealer and Mystic Siva, they do about as much as one could ask without just making a 60-hour release that actually includes everything, and again, when it comes to free psychedelia, you’re not going to hear me complain.

That Doctor Cyclops is especially notable for being a 2014 — i.e. forthcoming — release. It’s one of three on there, alongside Prisma Circus and The Rising Sun Experience, who just happen to lead the thing off. Funny how that works out. Seems the label get to give a little glimpse at the future as well as the past and the present here, so I guess Voyage through the Ages lives up to its title all the more:


World In Sound invites you to a trip in time from 1969 till today with 13 international heavy psychedelic artists from the WIS catalogue.

Feel free to download and share this timeless and mindblowing 72 min piece of music!

Artists include The Lone Crows, Prisma Circus, Orcus Chylde, Cosmic Dealer and many more…

Various Artists, Voyage through the Ages (2013)

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Doctor Cyclops Release Video for “Angel Saviour in the Cannibal House”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 30th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

Italian trio Doctor Cyclops debuted in 2012 with the full-length Borgofondo and in February, they’ll follow that album with their second offering, Oscuropasso, keeping loyal to a heavy ’70s methodology while not at all shying away from getting weird in a longer jam like that within the cumbersomely-named “Angel Saviour in the Cannibal House.” Near as I can tell, that’s not the title of a horror movie from 1973, but it probably should’ve been. Either way, Doctor Cyclops give the song — which also appeared on their first EP in 2010 — a natural treatment in the video, and then the masks go on and there’s a whole bunch of freakoutery happening and gasmasks, running through the woods, etc.

Sounds like a party at the Cannibal House. Oscuropasso will be out through the varied and venerable World in Sound and there’s plenty in the clip below to give a sampling of what the three-piece of vocalist/guitarist Christian Draghi, bassist Francesco Filippini and drummer Alessandro Dallera have to offer with the record, which obviously includes no shortage of riffs and classic atmospheres.


Doctor Cyclops, “Angel Saviour in the Cannibal House” official video

Doctor Cyclops releases their new video

Welcome to the roots of life and witchcraft, welcome to Doctor Cyclops’ mountains. Born in the middle of nowhere in northern Italy, the power trio is ready to unleash its 2nd LP “Oscuropasso” next february.

Their first video for this album will take you to the Cannibal House, following the steps of Kaspar Hauser and all the people lost in a society they can’t understand anymore. Shot like a 70s horror film, the video for Angel Saviour In The Cannibal House is a great introduction to the atmosphere and grooves of “Oscuropasso” : life, death, sorcery, goblins and rotten trolls.

Doctor Cyclops on Thee Facebooks

Doctor Cyclops’ website

World in Sound

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Samsara Blues Experiment Fifth Anniversary Tour Underway Now

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 11th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

Last Friday, Samsara Blues Experiment began their fifth anniversary tour. It’s also the four-piece’s first stint in support of their new album, Waiting for the Flood (review here). That’s particularly  noteworthy first because the record is awesome — there, I just saved you reading that whole review — and second, because they’ve also made the whole thing available for stream, download, etc., through Bandcamp. I grabbed the player for that and tacked it down under the tour dates below in case you haven’t yet had a chance to listen, because it’s a winner and I dig it and hope you will as well.

Way back in 2009 (maybe it was late 2008), these guys came to the West Coast of the US for a tour. I keep hoping they get to come back, and when they do they hit the East, but until then at least they’re getting out in Europe on the regular. Sound of Liberation sent this update down the PR wire:

Berlin-based psychedelic stoner rock band SAMSARA BLUES EXPERIMENT celebrates this year its 5th anniversary !!

According to that, they are going to release in a very few days their 3rd album “Waiting For The Flood”. Available from November 14th on via Electric Magic / World In Sound, this album is already considered as their best and most accomplished work yet !! This release goes with a 3-weeks European tour !!

11.11 (DK) Copenhagen – Stengade 30
12.11 (GER) Hamburg – Hafenklang
13.11 (GER) Dortmund – Kaktus Farm
14.11 (BEL) Brussels – Magasin 4
15.11 (UK) London – Borderline
17.11 (FR) Paris – Glazart
18.11 (FR) Bordeaux – Bootleg
19.11 (SP) San Sebastian – Bukowski
20.11 (POR) Oporto – Hard Club
21.11 (SP) Léon – El Gran Café
22.11 (SP) Madrid – Barracudas
23.11 (SP) Barcelona – Plataforma
24.11 (FR) Chambery – Brin de Zinc
25.11 (GER) Freiburg – White Rabbit
26.11 (CH) Zurich – Mascotte
27.11 (GER) Munich – Feierwerk
28.11 (AT) Vienna – Arena
29.11 (AT) Steyr – Kulturhaus Roeda
30.11 (GER) Berlin – Cassiopeia

Samsara Blues Experiment, Waiting for the Flood (2013)

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