I don’t have this album in any form, my hope is when they play Leicester on May 6th there will be some copies for sale, I have however, heard this through Bandcamp, this therefore means it’s not been played during a long car journey, its not been blasting my headphones during a countryside walk or spinning around on my precious turntable whilst cooking the evening meal (I have to mention we are talking Michelin quality food) It has however had a hammering on the computer over the last few weeks. Right, lets get one thing straight ‘Blown Out’s’ last album (New Cruiser) gained a review that was simply the words ‘Fuckin’ Epic’ written a number of times. The reason for this was simple, it was actually fuckin’ epic! So how do you follow an album of such (fuckin’) epic proportions? Well a good idea would be to make it much more (fuckin’) epic-er.
Bands like Blown Out don’t ease you in gently, they just get straight on with the full frontal lobotomy and there is no anaesthetic. ‘Impious Oppressor’ opens the album with fifteen minutes of heavy over the top psychedelic jamming that keeps pushing itself, it keeps reaching, finding new levels and never… not even for a nano second does become hard work and that is an achievement. The title track has the same full on tinnitus inducing chaos except this a slower darker beast. It is probably the in flight music to a spaceship full of storm troopers on its way to the Death Star. Mike Vest (guitar), Matt Baty (drums) and John-Michael Headly (Bass) have honed their craft in other bands such as Pigsx7, Bong, Haikai No Ku, Khunnt and Dodge Meteor so they are no strangers on how to make a bloody racket.
‘Blown Out’ are at the forefront of what I personally class as heavy psych, and have proved that they have a knack of making fuckin’ epic albums. For me with this band there is only one thing left to do and that’s see them live, thankfully a good friend of mine is putting them on in my hometown of Leicester. So if you are in the Leicester area on May 6th getcha asses down to Firebug. Riot Season (their label) seems to be sold out of vinyl and is fast running out of tapes and cds.
When this album first came out I was without a turntable, so I got myself a copy on CD, unfortunately I’m a bit careless with CD’s and my copy ended up in my car getting damaged and unplayable. With vinyl copies of this (and most of their albums) fetching a pretty price this is a welcome reissue on the ever reliable Cardinal Fuzz label. The Cosmic Dead have peddled their brand of expansive free form psych for a number of years now and a new album due very soon on the brilliant Riot Season record label, this is a timely reminder of just how good this band and always have been.
It is pretty much impossible to describe the music of The Cosmic Dead, well actually it’s not, they are a free form, tight but loose, psych jam band, yeah I’ll go with that. The real problem arises when you have to explain to people just how good they are. At one time I would have thought, if you don’t already know, why should I bother telling you, fuck off and go and listen to (insert insulting generic pop album)! However, these days I’m not the musical snob I once was (ahem) and I’m more than happy to spread the word. They honestly seem lost in their on world or if you will, their own groove. They push and push, they draw you in almost inviting you to become part of the groove. The title track just keeps going, stretching over the thirty minute mark and never disappearing up its own arse. The album just works so well, at times making you feel like your head has been ambushed by their sound. The drums sound like they are possessed, the bass line are tight and sinuous almost like they are holding the drums in place. The guitars are never too self obsessed and the synths just give everything that extra depth.
The Cosmic Dead’s sound is a heady brew of slightly unstable chemicals and deserve all the praise that is heaped on them. This album maybe a few years old now but it sounds just as fresh as it did on release. This album for me is one of the cornerstones of modern day psych.
I’m afraid, I’m a bit late writing this so if you want to buy this album you may struggle, but seek and ye shall find. They are however, on tour and you may be able to pick something up at one of their shows and watch out for the new album on Riot Season but be quick because they won’t hang around.
22.04 UK – Liverpool – Wrong Fest
23.04 UK – Leicester- The Musician
25.04 BE – Brussels – Magasin 4
27.04 DE – Dresden – Sabotage Dresden
28.04 PL – Warsaw – Chmury
30.04 DE – Berlin – Astra Kulturhaus (Desertfest)
02.05 DK – Copenhagen – KB18 kødboderne
03.05 SE – Malmö – Plan B – malmö
04.05 SE – Stockholm – Obaren
05.05 SE – Gothenburg – Truckstop Alaska
06.05 DK – Aalborg – 1000Fryd
07.05 DE – Kiel – Die Kieler Schaubude
09.05 DE – Leipzig – AKKO Hummus Bar
10.05 AT – Vienna – DasBACH
11.05 HR – Zagreb – Vintage Industrial Bar
12.05 SI – Llubljana – Klub Gromka
13.05 AT – Innsbruck – p.m.k
14.05 AT – Salzburg – Rockhouse Salzburg
16.05 IT – Zero Branco – Altroquando
17.05 IT – Parma – Titty Twister
18.05 IT – Torino – BLAH BLAH
19.05 IT – Ravenna – Bronson
20.05 IT – Milano – Bloom Bar Milano
23.05 FR – Paris – Gibus Club
24.05 BE – Ghent – Psych over 9000 Fest
25.05 UK – Brighton – The Green Door Store
26.05 UK – Bristol – The Old Malthouse
27.05 UK – London – The Dome, Tufnell Park (Raw Power 2017)
28.05 UK – Leeds – Eiger Studios (Karma Fest)
Russian band Gnoomes return with their second album on Rocket Recordings, playing their on brand of what they call ‘Stargaze’. I wrote about their first album on these pages , and it reached the semi finals of my Best of 2015, only being knock out by eventual winners Dead Sea Apes . The obvious thing would be to compare this album to the high standards of their debut. After a few listens I think this would be a little unfair so, all I’m going to say is that this album seems far more expansive.
The warped opener ‘Super Libido Awake’ is a synth heavy builder that kind of sets the tone for the album in general. It sounds industrial but not in a harsh way, this is more of a light and pulsating soundscape.The following track ‘Maria’ shows the bands almost pop psych sensibilities as does ‘Cascias’. Both of these tracks kind of reminded me of Julian Cope’s debut solo album. It is at this point the band enter a more experimental phase drawing on Tangerine Dream, Cluster and Neu! Everything seem to meld and flow with a more liquid kind of feel. The overall sound is crisp, clean and breezy. The best example of this is ‘One Step’ where vocals harmonise and the guitars cut through like a surgeons scalpel. It seems the lack of drugs (they were busted, imprisoned and have to be regularly tested), has made the band more focused, moot point being album closer B-Day, here all of the bands ideas come together in six breathtaking minutes of pop, psychedelia and experimentation.
Bands often seem to paint themselves into a corner and once they have done that will find breaking out of their self made confines will lead to often unnecessary criticism, Gnoomes have avoided that problem by the kicking the cans of paint around the room and allowing themselves the freedom to explore the entire room.
Copies of available here and in the usual places.
Dead Sea Apes are no stranger to these pages and their albums are never far away from the turntable and even had the dubious honour of being my ‘Album of the Year 2015‘. Their continuous exploratory approach to their sound is something to be applauded, but it’s the high standard of their output continues to earn them a loyal following. This album picks up on the themes of Spectral Domain’s epic album closer ‘Sixth Side Of The Pentagon’ and expands on them.
We start the album with the twisted psych dub of ‘ The Map Is Not The Territory’ which sets out the stall for the album both musically and thematically. The title of the song is a Alfred Korzybski quote, and i wonder if this is a shot at paranoia over boarders, identities and nationalism both here and in America and indeed the world? Musically it’s dripping in sheer class, the bass lines are smooth and free flowing, the drums jab,snap and crack and the guitars just chime and weave their way around the track. A short interlude (Sixth Side version 1) serves as breather before the rumbling bass of ‘Low Resolution’ takes hold and starts the building process. All the classic DSA elements are here but, this slow burner has an increased intensity probably because it’s be boiled down and reduced to less than four minutes. I would have been just as happy if it was twenty minutes long, but this is ratcheted up to increase the tension. Another nineteen second blast of ‘Sixth Side’ gives way to the liquid grooves of ‘Pale Anxities’ features the first of two appearances from poet Adam Stone adding yet more depth and texture to their sound. As ‘Nerve Centre’ takes hold it feels like the best parts of everything the band has done before, it feels both rich and yet stark. Another rumble of ‘Sixth Side’ acts as almost an introduction to the psych dub of ‘Lo Res’ which seems to be part of the same family tree as the earlier track ‘Low Resolution’. The album reaches it’s zenith with ‘Tentacles (The Machine Rolls On)’ featuring Adam Stones dystopian world view. The band create the perfect sonic back drop for Stone’s reflections of a system that is clearly collapsing before our very eyes and all alternatives seemed to be mocked and laughed at before they have a chance to form. This frighteningly stark observational poem has been given the perfect soundtrack. The last ‘Sixth Side’ vignette makes way for the album closer ‘Rectifier’ and with a title like that, it had me wondering what the hidden meaning was, all I know is that once again this spiky take on dub closes the album in style.
This album is huge, there is so much going on but there is space for everything shine and bind,and there is no clutter. We live in strange times, there is barley a day goes by where I don’t shake my head at the almost suffocating volume of injustice, media feeding frenzies and so much shouting and very little listening that it’s almost impossible to make sense of anything. Well this album makes sense because it seems to be holding up a mirror and asking everyone to stop, look and listen.
Buy it here or here if you live on the other side of the Atlantic
Veiled Visions by Milwaukee collective Moss Folk, is thirty odd minutes of drone heaven, available as a ltd cassette each side containing one track (Programs A and B ).
Program A is just shy of twelve minutes and starts with a slow burning synth drone that builds with rhythmic pulses. Eastern sounding guitars and a mantra type vocal lift the track giving the you a astral projection kind of feel. As things progress, an effortless transition replaces the gentle rhythms with a more aggressive traditional drum pounding. As the track breaks into it’s four movements, the common thread of traditional versus contemporary keeps the sonic collision of East meets West.
Program B starts with more of a driving uptempo beat with spiralling guitars and synths.For six minutes, the guitar bobs and weaves around its steady back beat creating a kind of vortex of sound. A hushed vocal adds texture to the overall sound before coming to an abrupt halt. Within seconds, the music starts up again but this time with more of a motorik kind of feel that drives everything along.
Moss Folk are for those of you who like to get your groove on and lose yourselves in steady rhythms and a head full of drone. Everything seems to have it’s place, attention seems to have been given to the overall sound and space within the music. You can check out their fine music here.
It has been five long years since Slomo last decided to spew out their unsettling brand of doom laden experimental noise. In those five years this new album has been created, no birthed, no this albums sounds like Holy McGrail and Howard Marsden have stolen the TARDIS headed back to the dawn of time and recorded the sound of the primordial ooze and played it back through the kind of contraption that was marked ‘Warning electronic brain fucking machine’. This is the fourth Slomo and although I would like to say it picks up from where their last album (The Grain) left off, I’m not entirely sure that it does. You see the thing is as their name suggest, Slomo move slowly, but they do move, like the sinking rays of sunlight that seem hover in the sky forever and then suddenly plunges us into darkness.
Opener ‘Concerning The Explorers’ is a very slow builder and dare I say quite subtle. Wave upon wave of droning tones slowly wash over you and kind of cling and paw at you. It’s like waves of crude oil that seem to hang from the rocks on a beech after a spill. Then a distant storm slowly arrives, gradually, building and building before finally reaching it’s zenith. Crikey! What a way to start! The brilliant thing about Slomo is their willingness to test the listener, to make the listener almost reach within themselves and find that extra bit of resolve, ‘Super-Individuals’ electronic wave seem to come on strong and almost fast, humming, throbbing with hypnotic effect. But it’s length of time that is given to track to develop, the changes are again subtle and controlled. The album closer’The Dialectic’ has a more mellow feel to it, but is no less eerie. I can’t help but think that this is the sound of some kind of intergalactic message that is being beamed across the universe by a distant and highly advanced alien life form.
With ‘Transit’ Slomo have delivered an album that leads. Yes I am sure the album takes its ques from from the golden era of German experimentalism and the modern day artists such as Sunn O))) with whom Mcgrail has worked with in the past and most recently the mind altering Vesuvio. This is an album of endurance and for those who stay the course will find it’s a triumph.
For those of you willing to chance your arm with something a little bit different then Sounds of New Soma may just be the ticket. This is an album of experimental music that I have been playing for sometime now, and it is superb for just zoning out or filling a room full of sound. This album isn’t too intrusive but can be completely immersive.
This synth laden album reminds me of the kind of thing that came out of Germany in the early 70’s. Now I am no expert in this area, I have scratched the surface with albums by the usual suspects such as, Can, Neu, Kraftwerk, Faust and even some of the lesser known acts such as German Oak and Nine Days Wonder. So I very tentatively put this album in a kind of Cluster or Klaus Schulze category. It matters little if I’ve missed the mark a bit, the only thing that matters is that this is a good album. It drifts from one plain to another, never settling too long and just as you feel like to have grasps the concept, its gone again. Each track takes on a form of it’s own, the opener ‘Bundesgartenscau’71’ has a spacerock feel to it, where as the next track is all spoken word and tolling bells. As we progress we are met with the Jazz like groove of ‘Spandua’ and the synth dirge of ‘Wurmloch’.
This album may be eclectic but it’s an album that deserves the attention of those with an open mind and a willingness to travel into unknown or rarely ventured territories.