Desertfest Belgium 2017: Graveyard, White Hills, Elephant Tree, OHHMS, Minami Deutsch and Kaleidobolt Join Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 22nd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

As predicted at the outset, the poster showcasing the lineup for Desertfest Belgium 2017 has become very, very crowded. I don’t think they’re done, either. Where will the next batch of bands squeeze, what with the sizable logo addition of Graveyard here along with OhhmsElephant TreeWhite Hills and so on? I don’t know. It’s a problem for a graphic designer to tackle that’s well beyond my depth, to be sure. But they’ll sort it out. They always do.

The Fall festival season — there are many, you know the names and don’t need me to recount — by now rivals Spring. It might even surpass it in terms of the sheer one-into-the-next-into-the-next-into-the-next style proceedings from country to country, weekend to weekend. It’s astounding how strong and sustaining the European underground has become over the last several years. Desertfest, the growth of the brand in general and in its autumnal incarnations in Antwerp and Athens, has been a big part of that, and accordingly, Desertfest Belgium 2017 stands among the best lineups one is likely to find on the continent this Fall.

To wit:

desertfest-belgium-2017-poster-graveyard

GRAVEYARD PLAYS DF ANTWERP 2017 – White Hills, Elephant Tree & more announced

So here it is – Karma strikes, part two!

Last year we were gutted when GRAVEYARD decided to call it quits, moments before their appearance at Desertfest Antwerp. Fortunately, their breakup turned out to be short-lived, and the band announced their return with a new drummer in January 2017. So naturally, we had to put ’em in a headliner spot again to make it up to you guys!

We’re also very glad to announce the appearance of WHITE HILLS, possibly the coolest band in the universe. With OHHMS and ELEPHANT TREE, we present you with two of the hottest bands from the UK heavy scene at the moment. Going worldwide, let’s throw in Oriental Krautrock with MINAMI DEUTSCH from Tokyo, and the psychedelic jazz-prog of KALEIDOBOLT from Helsinki.

From where we’re sitting, Desertfest Antwerp is starting to look pretty good… and we’re still not done!

GRAVEYARD

After the breakup of 2016, Graveyard did what every great classic rock band should do: take some time off to recollect the good spirit, and then come back with a mighty vengeance. And so here they are: the Swedish rock giant is back in the saddle with a new drummer, and ready to kick ass in 2017! We can only imagine what awesomeness they’ll bring to make it up to the DF crowd…

WHITE HILLS

White Hills are proponents of psychedelia as transformation. The music made by Dave W. and Ego Sensation is risky and cutting edge, rooted in dystopian futurism and hyper-conscious of our constant desire for a new and better drug. On their new album ‘Stop Mute Defeat’, White Hills has flipped the script with an industrially-charged record that pulsates unlike anything you’ve heard of them before.

OHHMS

OHHMS (written “((OHHMS))”) are a Canterburian metal band who are quickly becoming the buzz of the UK doom scene. They’ve established a reputation of playing extremely loud, delivering long and complex tracks at a deafening volume. Their first album release ‘The Fool’ is earning accolades across the scene, winning over crowd and critics alike.

ELEPHANT TREE

Another big promise from the UK, Elephant Tree came out with one of the best damn albums from 2016. Combining clear vocal harmonies with insanely heavy riffs, and switching it up with sudden mood shifts and slow-burning grooves, their debut album is truly something special that you should seek out immediately. Word from Desertfest London & Berlin is they easily hold their ground on the stage.

MINAMI DEUTSCH

Minami Deutsch is a Krautrock band from Tokyo. Starting off playing live music on the city streets, they got picked up for a spot at the Tokyo Psych Fest. In September 2015, they released their first record through the English cult label Cardinal Fuzz Records, as well as Japanese psych label Guruguru Brain. Expect motorik kraut grooves with a distinct Oriental flavour!

KALEIDOBOLT

Kaleidobolt is a power trio from Helsinki, blending loud guitars with furious jazz moves. Their music is a dizzying maelstrom of progressive song structures, crushing riffs and loose psychedelic soundscapes, delivered with joy and ferociousness. Working since 2014, they’ve released two albums to much acclaim, and toured with the likes of Radio Moscow and Samsara Blues Experiment.

http://www.desertfest.be/tickets
https://www.facebook.com/desertfestbelgium/
https://www.facebook.com/events/264364590656095/
https://twitter.com/DesertfestBE

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Pyreship Premiere Video for “Die/Sect”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on June 21st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

pyreship

Houston four-piece Pyreship made their debut this Spring with The Liars Bend Low on Black Bow Records. It’s a release that brings together sludge tones and groove with post-metallic atmospheres, and as you can see in the video for “Die/Sect” from the album, the Texan outfit keep a mindful approach toward live presentation as well as crafting a moody impression. Starting off with a clip from Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me — or at least one from the show that says the name of the movie; I haven’t watched the new episodes yet, so no spoilers please, as much as anything might ever possibly be explained — and featuring imagery of strafing bombs and other apocalyptic this-and-that as well as footage of the band on stage.

Here’s a fun fact: First time I watched the “Die/Sect” video, I was sitting on the couch with my lovely and loving wife, The Patient Mrs., and I pointed to a guy in the front of the stage and I said, “Hey, there I am.” I told her it was a little while ago, when I was still bearded, and you know what? She believed it was me. It’s not me. I don’t know who it is, but I’ve never had the pleasure of seeing Pyreship live. They make a good case for doing so with this song and this video, but still. I haven’t gotten there. It was hilarious though, because, yeah. Dudes all look alike.

If you missed where it was mentioned above, The Liars Bend Low came out on Black Bow Records, which is the label helmed by Jon Davis, guitarist/vocalist of UK demolition experts Conan. Not a minor endorsement to have, and Pyreship recently shared the stage with Conan and Forming the Void as well as part of supporting the album, so all the more of a connection there. One can hear some influence in the roll of “Die/Sect,” which if you haven’t already skipped to it, follows immediately here.

I’ve also included the full stream of the record at the bottom of the post, because why the hell not.

Enjoy:

Pyreship, “Die/Sect” official video

Official music video for Die/Sect from Pyreship’s album “The Liars Bend Low”. Released 5/26/2017 on Black Bow Records.

You can find all the latest Pyreship news and links to our music and merch at https://pyreship.com/ check it out!

Pyreship is:
Sam -Guitar and screaming
Jason – Guitar and singing
George – Bass
Steve – Drums

Pyreship, The Liars Bend Low (2017)

Pyreship on Thee Facebooks

Pyreship on Twitter

Pyreship on Instagram

Pyreship website

Pyreship at Black Bow Records Bandcamp

Black Bow Records website

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Emerald Haze 2017: Belzebong, The Cosmic Dead, Blaak Heat, Iron Void, Mother Mooch, Electric Taurus, Mount Soma & More Added

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 21st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Thus far, the inaugural Emerald Haze fest has been pretty metered in posting its lineup additions, but in this final one, they’re pretty much going for broke in welcoming a range of acts from Ireland and beyond, including Poland’s Belzebong, Scottish jammers The Cosmic Dead, US/France-based desert progressives Blaak Heat, and UK doomers Iron Void among a vast slew of others. These as well as a swath of native Irish acts — Electric Taurus, Mother Mooch, Gourd, Vulpynes, Korvid, Death the Leveller, Nomadic Rituals, Bad Boat, Magnapinna and Mount Soma, to see the list below — will converge on Dublin the first weekend in September for the festival co-presented by The Obelisk, and as I’ve said all along, I could not be more thrilled to be involved in the fest in the very minimal way I am and to be able to be there to cover it as it happens. Very, very much looking forward to it.

Like, a lot.

My understanding is this is the last announcement for the lineup, but of course there’s always the possibility of some shakeup between now and September, so I’ll keep an eye out. Tickets are available in the meantime via the links below, so get on that. Meet me in Dublin. We’ll hang out. It’ll be awesome.

Here’s word from the PR wire:

emerald-haze-2017-final-poster

EMERALD HAZE: Final band announcements- Belzebong, The Cosmic Dead, Iron Void and more

For further information, interview requests and/or press passes, please contact: emeraldhazedublin@gmail.com

The final bands have been announced for the inaugural Emerald Haze, Dublin’s brand new heavy psych festival. Poland’s heavy doom/fuzz metallers Belzebong and Scottish psychonauts The Cosmic Dead head the list along with international acts Blaak Heat from France and British doomsters Iron Void. The last of the home grown talent to be announced come from all four corners of Ireland and spans the full spectrum of heavy psychedelic sounds – Bad Boat, Nomadic Rituals, Electric Taurus, Mother Mooch, Death The Leveller, The Magnapinna, Mount Soma, Vulpynes, Gourd and Korvid.

Early bird tickets are on sale now from www.tickets.ie priced at €35 + €3.50 booking fee.
Direct link: https://secure.tickets.ie/Listing/EventInformation/35248/emerald-haze-dublin

For more information see www.emeraldhazedublin.com
Event page: www.facebook.com/events/1321221147946613

EMERALD HAZE takes place on Friday 1st and Saturday 2nd September 2017 over two adjacent venues – Smithfield’s Voodoo Lounge and On The Rox. Performers will be a mix of Irish and international headline acts, alongside established and emerging talent from Ireland and abroad. EMERALD HAZE is a not-for-profit venture, supported by Dublin City Council.

The Mother Fuzzers Ball Stage has been an integral and very successful aspect to CANALAPHONIC Music & Culture Festival since its inception in 2015. EMERALD HAZE creates an opportunity to further develop and nurture Ireland’s contributions to the worldwide aesthetic of heavy psych, draw international attention to the high quality and quantity of acts emerging around the country and provide festival experience to these bands.

https://www.facebook.com/events/1321221147946613/
https://www.facebook.com/emeraldhazedublin/
https://secure.tickets.ie/Listing/EventInformation/35248/emerald-haze-dublin

Belzebong, Greenferno (2016)

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Six Dumb Questions with Esben Willems

Posted in Six Dumb Questions on June 21st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

esben-willems-photo-Hank-Henrik-Oscarsson

Swedish tone-crushers Monolord recently finished work on their impending third album, which will be out later this year via RidingEasy Records. For drummer Esben Willems, the accomplishment is two-fold. In addition to playing, Willems also engineered — a credit he shares with guitarist/vocalist Thomas V. Jäger and bassist Mika Häkki — and mixed and mastered. This was done behind the board in the capacity of Berserk Audio, the nom de guerre under which Willems has helmed projects not only for his own outfits Monolord and formerly Marulk, but many others over the years including Långfinger, Vokonis and Cities of Mars.

Unsurprisingly, as Monolord‘s reputation has grown, that of Willems‘ capacity as an engineer has done likewise, and Berserk Audio has become more established as a result. Founded on principals of flexibility and passion — and coffee, of course — the studio is as mobile as the hard-touring Willems himself, and that’s fortunate, because as Monolord make ready to release the aforementioned new full-length, they’ve already announced a co-headlining Fall 2017 European tour with Conan (dates here) that will follow stops this summer at Stoned from the Underground in Germany, SonicBlast Moledo in Portugal, and so on.

A busy schedule, however, is the lifesblood of a recording engineer, and it would seem Willems‘ position is the more the merrier. Right on. Though he was interviewed here around the 2015 release of the second Monolord album, Vænir (review here), which was followed by the 2016 two-songer EP, Lord of Suffering / Die in Haze (review here), the work he’s done in bringing Berserk Audio to fruition isn’t to be underestimated, and it was high time to give due attention to this side of Willems‘ creative persona, which I hope the Q&A below does, at least in some measure.

Please enjoy the following Six Dumb Questions:

berserk audio logo

Six Dumb Questions with Esben Willems

How did you get your start in recording? What were some of your early projects and how did your technique develop? Do you have a philosophy when it comes to tracking bands or is each project different in what it requires from the engineer?

My first steps in recording was when I moved out of my parents’ house and to a different town in the early ‘90s, where I soon spent all free time in a rehearsal complex. After spending most of my childhood caught in uninspiring music theory in the local municipal music school – I’ve forgotten almost all of that, haha – I finally met likeminded people who just played music with focus on the music, not the strict theory behind it. That was a real eye-opener for me; I’ve been fascinated with the band format since before I even knew how to phrase that, and to be in an environment that was based on constant curiosity, testing, jamming, constantly forming new bands and side-projects, was pure inspiration. I learned so much more about music during those years than all previous years confined inside the make-believe rules of how music should be executed. The latter is still very mechanic to me; I think that mediating a feeling, a mood, a story, is the essence of music, regardless of genre. That’s still always the base of everything music related I do.

Anyway, that rehearsal complex was where I first started playing around with recording. The place had a small and very basic recording studio. One tiny recording room and one even tinier control room. The equipment wasn’t much more than a handful of crusty SM57’s and 58’s and a 4-track cassette recorder (constant creative mixdowns to get the channels you wanted, haha). That was it. We had so much fun at that house, I’m equally happy and sad that all those endless recording sessions are long gone.

Regarding my technique – if I really have any – I think that developed by the boundless and playful atmosphere at that place. Trying to capture a death metal session properly with a half broken 4-track machine forces your mind to come up with creative solutions. I still like to work that way, I’ve always felt that a certain amount of limitations is a good thing. It forces inspiration.

That also applies when recording different bands. All bands and all musicians are of course very different, with different references and experiences. So I don’t believe much in having a work template, apart from always – always – having a reliable supply of fresh coffee where I work.

Tell me about Berserk Audio. Did you build the studio? How did it all come together? What is the atmosphere like, what’s the layout of the rooms and how do you feel like the studio has developed over the last couple years as you’ve been doing more and more work there?

When I first started working professionally with audio I was aiming at building my own studio, and I wanted to do it by first being an apprentice at one or more established studios. I got the dream chance at a place I don’t want to name here, but it was everything I could ever hope for as a newly-graduated sound tech – welcoming atmosphere, fully booked with professional bands, great acoustics and equipment; and, I got the offer very early on to work there part time. But, the majority of bands recording there played a genre I just couldn’t stand, or understand, which is even more important. Also, the recording method was everything I feel takes the music out of music; sound replacing and quantizing drums, autotuning vocals, cut-and-paste editing in the mix and so on. So, after some grueling soul searching I came to the conclusion that it would kill my passion for music over time and I also wouldn’t do a proper job, since I wouldn’t be able to judge when the material was what the bands wanted. “Is this mechanic and sterile enough for you guys?” might not be the question a band wants. But with that said, I’m fully aware of that’s how the main part of the recording industry works and that it makes things very hard to exclude those studios.

But, I finally made the decision that most aspiring sound techs would feel was stupid: I kindly quit the apprenticeship at that studio, got freelance audio work at intensely boring conferences and invested in a small but efficient portable studio rig. I felt that if recording music that would just make me bitter, I might as well have a boring and undemanding day job and focus on recording bands I liked and with that contribute to a relevant production. That was over a decade ago and I haven’t regretted it once.

Of course I’d love to have my own studio, but never at the expense of the passion for music. I currently have a collab with a really cool place here in Gothenburg called Studio Svavel, which I rent when needed.

What have been some of your favorite projects to work on? Do you have a preference between recording, mixing and mastering?

I think my favorite projects are the ones where I’m part of the entire process, all the way from the rehearsal space. As I see it, most of the work should be done before entering the studio. Writing and selecting material, arranging, pre-production, discussions about sound, mood and feel of the production and so on. Most bands don’t have the possibility to rent a studio for a few months and just enter it with a blank slate, so in order to make the most of the time bands pay me for, I always emphasize the importance of that. If you’re well prepared, you’re actually able to compete with the bands that have all the studio time in the world. And the listener will never know or care about your budget. They’re gonna compare you with any and all of their favorite bands regardless.

That’s where that true essence of music comes in again. If your band is well rehearsed with songs you stand behind and your band sounds like an unbreakable unit – as opposed to a collection of humans just playing correctly in time – you actually will be able to make an album that kicks ass in spite of the ever-limited budget and time.

How has it been for you to record your own band? Is there a difference in how you approach working with Monolord as opposed to other acts? How do you coax a great performance out of a bandmate as opposed to someone who has hired you to work as a producer?

It’s weird and great. It’s inevitable that there’s a difference, since I’m one of the band members. But when we record, we all produce it collectively. We’re all part of the entire recording process. So in some ways the recording part doesn’t differ that much from everything else we do in the band. And the coaxing, I guess that’s a mutual three-way process, haha. When I tell my drum kit to go fuck itself, I rely on Thomas and Mika to filter my anger. And that goes the other way around as well.

The only part where I work alone is during mixing and mastering. But I constantly update my bandmates online, so they’re very much part of that process as well.

Recording your own band makes it a bit harder to be objective and to kill your darlings. But I enjoy that challenge. I’ve learned a lot from it through the years.

You recently finished mixing the third Monolord album. What’s the status of that release now? When can fans expect it to come out and what’s in store this time around from the band? How does splitting your time with being on the road and in the studio affect your ability to take on more recording jobs?

I really wish I could tell you everything about, but we’ll announce all details shortly. What I can tell you is that musically it’s groovier and more dynamic, in all aspects. Still misanthropic and still rumbling, though. The humanity is broken and this is our safety valve, as always.

The mixing and mastering is done and the album will be released in all its glory later this year. Hope you’ll like it!

Being a touring musician and also a studio leprechaun is actually the perfect combo. When I can, I work from home, which means I only have a deadline to consider. I’m not a fan of daily routines when it comes to working hours, so that fits me and my family life just perfectly. And my world is a world without borders, so I can easily have clients all over the planet. And when it comes to mixing and mastering they can easily hire me without insane travel expenses. I’m old enough to have grown up in an internet-free world, so I love the possibilities that has opened up thanks to the online community culture. Borders and flags are war tools. I’d rather work past them.

Who’s next in the studio? Any other recordings coming up, closing words or other plans you want to mention?

Next up is always working on new stuff with Monolord. That’s an ongoing process, so we’re always fiddling with ideas, regardless of actual future plans.

But apart from that, I have a few mastering projects this week I’m gonna sink my teeth into. I break every rule possible when I master and I’m sure most audiophiles would like to subject me to public torture, but the clients I’ve worked with seem to hear things the way I do, so I keep getting requests to do the things I do with their music.

And, with some actual free time for the first time in forever, I’m gonna start working on some side solo stuff that’s been rattling in the back of my head for a while. I have no idea what will come of it.

Monolord, “Lord of Suffering” official video

Berserk Audio on Thee Facebooks

Monolord on Thee Facebooks

Monolord on Twitter

RidingEasy Records website

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This is the 9,000th Post on The Obelisk

Posted in The Numbers on June 21st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

9000th post

I’ve been trying to keep an eye over the last couple weeks so I didn’t miss this one. 9,000 posts. Let me spell that out: Nine. Thousand. Posts.

It is not a small amount of posts.

It’s taken me about eight and a half years to get to this point. Over that period, the pace of productivity has only increased — I feel bad about myself if I put up fewer than five posts in a day — and between reviews, interviews, news, videos, audio premieres, streams, the Radio, Quarterly Review roundups, the constant onslaught of bands with new releases, etc., etc., on and on, I’m still a long way from what I’d call “keeping up.” Still, I do the best I can, and as the site hits its 9,000th post, I just want to stop for a minute and thank you for being a part of this process.

Because it is a process. An ongoing one. In tone, content, execution and my own mindset, The Obelisk has become something completely different from what it set out to be. It’s something different than it was three years ago. I suspect, if I’m fortunate enough to keep it going for another three years, it’ll be something completely different then as well. But the consistent factor has been the level of support I’ve received for doing this. If you want to call it the heavy underground, or a community, or a scene, or whatever it is, it’s been very good to me and I deeply appreciate the level of interaction here and via social media — that’s not just me begging for comments, though they’re always welcome — and the conversation that has developed.

One time when I did an anniversary-type post like this I calculated how many posts per day was the average over the years. It may have been last year? I don’t know. I have neither the time nor the inclination nor the mathematical capacity to do so again either way, and more important than the quantity of the work to me is the fact that I stand by everything on this site. Opinions, facts, hell, even the choices of images and videos and audio to go with posts. All of it. I believe deeply in this — more deeply than I ever thought I would — and your participation in it has only made me treasure all the more what The Obelisk has become and is still becoming.

So as always, thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

On to the next thing,
JJ Koczan

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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Fheels Release Debut EP Traveller

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 21st, 2017 by JJ Koczan

fheels

Coursing with elements of crisply-produced heavier blues rock, the newly-issued Traveller EP marks the debut from Hamburg four-piece Fheels. The offering is comprised of five tracks that show clear-headed soulfulness and a rocking traditionalism of songcraft that emphasizes hooks without necessarily making a crutch of them. An aesthetic in development, but one would ask nothing less or more of a first release, even if the EP was preceded by the digital single “Igor,” for which the band also have a video posted.

Below you’ll find the release announcement accompanied by some comment from the band. As one might imagine, they’re pretty stoked to have a release out. CD is available on JodelDiplomRecords.

Dig:

fheels traveller

Formed as a band project in 2015 by students of Hamburg- based School of Music, FHEELS create an exciting mix of Blues, Rock, psychedelic moments with a hint of soul that makes it fheel special. Emphasized by singer & guitarist Felix’ impressively versatile vocal abilities, this band won’t be easy to forget!

FHEELS already became more then just a study-based music project. With their very own spirit, upcoming live plans and a perfect chemistry between the band members, FHEELS are set to release their first 5-track EP titled „Traveller“, available on CD + as Digital Download, on June 16th 2017 with JodelDiplomRecords.

Traveller is here!
You can now hold our very first own, self made and as we think most wonderful CD in your hands and put it in a CD player and listen to it, and we personally couldn’t think of anything more beautiful than that.
We can’t wait to hear what you think about it!

CD-> http://shop.jodelrecords.de

Of course we were not completely alone. We would like to take this opportunity to express our deep gratitude to everybody who helped create this wonderful record.
Thank you Jan-Philipp Kelber, Karsten Böttcher, JodelDiplom Records, J4 art & design Studio, Sophie Schwarzenberger, Lena Scherer, Dominik Pobot, Matthias Pogoda and thank you to all our family and friends!

FHEELS are:
Felix – Vocals & Guitar
Tobias – Rhodes & Organ & Backing Vocals
Jens – Bass
Justus – Drums & Backing Vocals

www.facebook.com/Fheels.Band
https://fheels.bandcamp.com
www.jodelrecords.de/kuenstler/fheels
https://open.spotify.com/album/7aQ4YyIz2JWY7wNqGrbw5k

Fheels, Traveller (2017)

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The Myrrors Release Hasta la Victoria June 30; Track Streaming Now

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 20th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

the myrrors

The Myrrors‘ new album, Hasta la Victoria, is due out June 30 via Beyond Beyond is Beyond Records, and its venerable, purpose-driven psychedelia would seem to exist on that horizon line where the flat desert earth meets the nighttime sky indistinguishable from outer space itself. Can you see it? If not, you might want to check out the winding krautjazz of “Organ Mantra” when the time comes or simply dig into on “Somos la Resistencia” below. The track is streaming ahead of the release and has been for some time, but if you haven’t caught it yet, its neo-psych intensity speaks to some of the urgency of the themes the Tucson-based outfit are tackling with the record while still holding onto the vastness of the landscape that surrounds them. Vibe? Yeah, they got vibe.

Info and audio follow, courtesy of the PR wire:

the-myrrors-hasta-la-victoria

Tucson psych band The Myrrors – new album ‘Hasta La Victoria’ out 6/30 on Beyond Beyond is Beyond

If you turn your eyes to gaze even momentarily at the current state of our shared human environment, you’ll be forgiven for thinking it may be an unusual time to spend much time in consideration of “victory.” The forces that seek to stall progress and the forces that seek to pollute progress are intertwined, the path to progress choked, gasping for the breath of new ideas. It’s against this backdrop that we reconnect with the The Myrrors, and their beautiful, bewildering new album, “Hasta La Victoria.

Of course, you’ll also be forgiven if you’ve not been privy to pay attention to the path of progress pursued by these largely indefinable desert defenders—though it’s not that The Myrrors haven’t given listeners plenty of chances to reflect. “Hasta La Victoria” comes just one year after the band’s previous “Entranced Earth,” and serves as more than an enthralling companion piece. In scope and sound, this group of Arizona arhats has developed their own, altered and all-encompassing definition of “victory.”

On “Hasta La Victoria,” The Myrrors win the fight by largely giving up, so to speak. By almost completely abandoning traditional electric guitar sounds, the band lives to fight another day and sounds all the stronger for it. Minimalist influences perfume the surroundings of the album as a whole, transforming the proceedings into a transformative platter in which sun-soaked dervishes ascend and descend, informed by interlocking influences, and instruments as well. “Hasta La Victoria,” in name and deed, embraces and is endowed by the potency of this unbounded approach, merging the sounds of Arizonan and Afghani heads into a single, satisfying whole.

And yet, not a moment of the album’s thirty-seven minutes ever feels anything short of natural, or even remotely rushed. Indeed, in the best possible way, “Hasta La Victoria” sounds like The Myrrors couldn’t be doing anything else—and by continuing to forge their own path, it’s further proof that the band has never done anything less. Perhaps it’s not the word “victory” in the album’s title that should focus our attention; perhaps it’s the persistent, propulsive “until.”

“Organ Mantra” opens the album in an appropriately mystical manner, ten minutes of The Myrrors shining at their brightest, somehow exhibiting the grace and power of a freely flowing river. “Somos La Resistencia” follows at a fraction of the length, but with no reduction in impact, its declaration that “we are the lost that want truth” understandable in any language. “Tea House Music” and “El Aleph” follow, sister-songs in solidarity with the solidly transcendental terrain traveled on the album. The title track, at nearly fifteen minutes in length, ends the album on a high note – if by “high” you’re referring to the daily waking consciousness of, say, Neem Karoli Baba. Because it brings the album to a close, it’s unfair to call the song the album’s “centerpiece.” But it certainly stands as the album’s emotional and musical core – unrefined, unrestrained and unforgettable.

Throughout “Hasta La Victoria,” the band sounds utterly propelled by an invisible force, by the indelible impression that their actions – as a band, as artists, as people. Be here now or be here later, but there’s little doubt that The Myrrors will be continuing to pursue the path at whatever time you arrive. – Ryan Muldoon

https://www.facebook.com/themyrrors.az/
https://twitter.com/the_myrrors
http://themyrrors.bandcamp.com/
http://beyondbeyondisbeyond.com/https://www.facebook.com/beyondbeyondisbeyond
https://beyondbeyondisbeyondrecords.bandcamp.com/

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Review & Full Album Stream: Abronia, Obsidian Visions / Shadowed Lands

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on June 20th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

abronia-obsidian-visions-shadowed-lands

[Click play above to stream Obsidian Visions / Shadowed Lands by Abronia. Album is out June 26 on Water Wing Records. Tour dates below.]

It’s telling that Abronia‘s first album, Obsidian Visions / Shadowed Lands, should open with such a strong sense of place. The leadoff track, which begins with a sparse minute-plus of atmospheric, prairie-vibed guitar before exploding into a cacophonous wash of noise, cymbal crashes, saxophone, etc., is called “The Great Divide.” Also known as the Continental Divide, its name derives from the point along the Rocky Mountains at which water flows either to the Pacific or Atlantic Ocean. In the context of the Portland six-piece’s Water Wing Records debut, it could just as easily refer to the slashed duality of the title, that moment where the calmness erupts at the beginning, or the shift into spacious, swinging heavy Americana, folkadelia and rock that emerges therefrom.

But the important thing is there is a definite place, bound to the earth, that the opener positions the listener, since the core of the five-track/34-minute offering would seem likewise to be of and about the land. One finds this rooted in the use of a 1930s marching drum as a percussive focus throughout instead of a standard bass drum, as well as in the organic, direct-to-tape production through which the material is presented, having been tracked by Jason Powers (Moon Duo) at Type Foundry, and in the patient, methodical manner in which the ambience unfolds, creating a flow from the beginning of “The Great Divide” that is at once vividly present in its groove and seeking something ethereal or transcendent. Another great divide entirely, perhaps.

The band is comprised of vocalist/saxophonist Keelin Mayer (formerly of Eternal Tapestry), guitarist Benjamin Blake (also Young Hunter), guitarist/backing vocalist Eric Crespo (also Ghost to Falco), bassist Amir Amadi, Andrew Endres of Ohioan on lap steel guitar and James Shaver on the aforementioned marching drum and other percussive elements, and the stylistic trip on which they embark beginning with “The Great Divide” is significant. The opener is also the longest track at 8:36 (immediate points), and its instrumental fluidity carries the listener smoothly into the shimmering, sunshine-on-the-river melodica-topped folk of “Shala,” on which Mayer gradually makes her presence known vocally (it is a presence worth knowing) as she locks in with the melody of the guitar.

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Here and across the following tracks, vocals will come and go with naturalist ease, adding to the earthy psychedelic impression of “The Great Divide” and giving the whole affair a front-to-back feel of willful meandering — the band seeming to head out in the woods and set themselves to ranging. They’ll do so throughout “Shala,” the centerpiece “Smoke Fingers,” the Jefferson Airplane-esque highlight “Glass Butte Retribution” and seven-minute closer “Waning Wand,” playing instrumentals off memorable, poetic verses handed down by Mayer with suitable command. Followers of Young Hunter will find some continuity with that band’s bouncing, plucked guitar notes via Blake‘s playing, but Obsidian Visions / Shadowed Lands is ultimately less gothic in its intent, and though there’s a tension to some of the craft following the blowup at the start, it’s not until the cymbal wash of “Glass Butte Retribution” and the payoff of “Waning Wand” that the album again finds itself pushing toward a noisy crescendo, and even the last is a quick one to end the finale.

Instead, for most of the duration, Abronia affect a meditative attitude, and concentrate on an exploratory feel within their tracks. That suits the space-jazz of “Smoke Fingers” well, which has a steadily nodding rhythm and some righteous interplay of sax and guitar, and the vast, open spirit of “Glass Butte Retribution,” which might be the most straightforward inclusion on Obsidian Visions / Shadowed Lands as regards the relative simplicity of its march, but still wants nothing for atmospherics despite a somewhat minimalist impression early that moves on a linear build to crashing cymbals and a surprising final scream from Mayer with an epilogue measure of guitar behind it. It doesn’t necessarily speak for the entirety of the record in terms of mood or sound, but “Glass Butte Retribution” makes a fitting ambient summary nonetheless, and with “Smoke Fingers” before and “Waning Wand” after it, side B of Obsidian Visions / Shadowed Lands proves no less a deep, headlong dive than did side A with “The Great Divide” and “Shala.”

That said, while one imagines vinyl release was a consideration in the album’s making, by the time the nuance guitar of “Waning Wand” starts as a bed for Mayer‘s first verse three minutes into the song — almost sounding like flourish of East Asian folk — it seems Abronia as much benefit from the nonstop immersion of a digital/CD structure in that once it starts, there’s no point of interruption to draw the audience away from what the band is doing. As to that, Obsidian Visions / Shadowed Lands may well serve as a formative debut release from which Abronia will commence a sonic progression — they’ve certainly set themselves up for one — but there’s no question they establish themselves here as a cohesive unit of songwriters with a definite story to tell through their work. One hopes that as their journey continues forward, they hold onto the wandering sensibility that serves them so well here and feels so crucial in the crafting of their narrative of place and being.

Abronia on tour:
S –7/01 – Raymond, WA @ Thirst for Light Festival
R –7/27 – Portland, OR @ The Know
F – 7/28 – Arcata, CA @ Miniplex
S – 7/29 – Oakland, CA @ The Hole
S – 7/30 – San Francisco, CA @ Adobe Books
M – 7/31 – Oakland, CA @ The Nightlight
T – 8/01 – Los Angeles, CA @ Zebulon
W – 8/02 – Yucca Valley (Joshua Tree ), CA @ Frontier Cafe
R – 8/03 – Fresno, CA @ Tioga Sequoia
F – 8/04 – Sacramento, CA @ Luna’s Cafe
S – 8/05 – Chico, CA @ Duffy’s

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