Saturday, February 8, 2014

Wheel of Smoke- Signs of Saturn (Private Release)

This quite cool Belgium band has released a new record on vinyl in 500 copies with a poster and a sticker and they are all hand numbered. I have number 338. There are quite a few guest vocalists and players adding horns, synths, and Fender Rhodes. The record has a wide range of diverse material on it and starts off with Sahara, which slowly fades in before the band kicks into an uptempo and intense song but then at the break it goes into a totally 70s section with horns and keyboards and the vocal style changes to this very laid back mood from a very powerful vocal before returning to the power of the start. Cool dynamics. Serpent is an very nice and melodic instrumental piece, which really picks up at the end. Salvation is the last track on side A, which has some very powerful lyrics ending with “chocked on materialism, forced only to see, we’re losing the power to be”.. I like that.. It starts with some very nice harmony guitars by Philip and Erik, before the heavy and slow riff kicks in and the vocals, which have a sort of nasty angry edge to them, to contrast the nice melody of the song. This track actually reminds me a bit a lot of the Finnish band, Amorphis. It ends with a long acoustic section. Flip the record over to hear Sands, which starts with a eastern flute with Fender Rhodes, section before an acoustic guitar section with a female spoken voice and as the rest of the band joins on this slow building piece. Cool song. The record ends in a very heavy fashion with the monster track, Song of Saturn. It has a very heavy riff to start but then really evolves in a unique way. This is a great record and not what I had expected at all. It is also released on a CD digipack, which I forgot to mention before.

Polska Radio One- Cosmos Inside (Trail Records 015)

This is a new Russian band released on the very cool US label, Trail records. From the picture in the digipack, you can see four young men (Dmitry- Guitar, vocal, keys, Alexander- Electric Tambura, Andrei- Keys, bass, and Feodor- Drums, keys) who created this very diverse, cool and interesting musical journey. The Final Mantra starts things off with a slow steady beat that hardly changes throughout the track, but interesting layers of vocal chants and some psychedelic guitar playing compliment this interesting intro track. The 2nd track, The Fractalized Sky will remind people a lot of Wooden Shjips, with its sound, vibe and vocal style. It has some very cool psychedelic guitar. Time Eternity is an excellent eastern style instrumental piece and features Stepan Jee on sitar. Morosim (2 C-P dub) changes the feeling totally as it very spaced out and dub like at times but some spacey vocals and wah guitar lead lead the way.  The track is also pretty hypnotic with a lot of repeated elements. To the Delta of Aquarius has some more spacey synths and a bit of a eastern feel to it again and more singing and Saucerful of Secrets Pink Floyd feel at times. Shagri-La is a slow track with hand drums and a slow evolving lead guitar line that complements the simplicity of the track as the keyboards lay low on this one and slowly creep into the sound as it gains in intensity, when the organ takes over.  Launch #93 has some spoken words taken from some astronauts talking in space, while an acoustic guitar strums and different keyboard fill in the rest of the space.  The 10min long title track, Cosmos Inside ends this excellent musical journey. This track has a more uptempo and groovy bass line that gets things going before the band really improvise and go out into space with a lot of cool guitar and effects and keyboards as this one gets really intense. There is one bonus track called Rhymes and Armonies and once again features Stepan Jee on sitar. The whole journey is 55mins..  I really liked this CD a lot.

Truckfighters- The Chairman 10” (Fuzzorama Records FUZZLP007)

It has been years since I heard any Truckfighters. I had the Gravity X CD but someone made off with it at some point.. Anyway, this 10” has the title track from the bands new record as well as a live track from Australia. The new track is very groovy and has all the features that this band does best. The bass is really leading in this one and they have a lot of cool changes. The guitar player is not playing hardly any lead guitar but mixing up the riffs a lot. A very cool mix of vocals as well. Great song. Desert Cruiser is clearly a song the band and the audience dig as you can hear the audience singing a long and you almost get the energy of the audience jumping up and down with the way the band are into it and stretch this one out to 12mins! If you are a fan you will love this one. I hope to catch them when they play in Copenhagen on Feb 16th

Spidergawd- S/T (Crispin Glover Records)

This is a new Norwegian band to me. They have release two singles before this amazing full length record. The band hails from Trondheim and features the rhythm section from Motorpsycho. This limited edition vinyl record is a super cool package with amazing artwork and on a few different colours of vinyl (I got the purple one). The album in CD is also included. All information about the record is printed on the inside of the sleeve, so you have to sort of stretch it out to see the writing. The record features 4 tracks on the A side and two on the B side, one which is most of the side. Per Borten is the lead man who plays the guitar and sings. There is also saxophone, trumpet and pedal steel on the record.  Into tomorrow starts the record off with a low fi garage rock type song but then when the bass and band kicks in, it is a real rocker. The vocals when Per is at his most powerful he reminds me of Spice of Spiritual Beggars. This track also mixes in some keyboards and horns into the mix and has a cool groove. Blaer Jubel starts off sounding just like Motorpsycho the way the bass line runs through the track but Per is a more intense singer and then the cool lead guitar takes over for a brief section. The track has a long instrumental section where the guitar is mixed up front and the rhythm is just killer and it just ends as a sort of faded out jam. Master of Disguise is uptempo and really reminds me of Spiritual Beggars but with a bit more rock and roll attitude! Southeastern Voodoo Lab starts off a bit funky but then just ends up in a very jamming loose feeling track. Damn, this side is some kick ass rock and roll with attitude, some far out fuzzed out guitars and killer grooves. It is great when the horns kick in as well. Flip over the record you have an extended version of Empty Rooms that was released as a single. It starts off with a sax solo and a long intro before the band and powerful vocal kicks in and the track really rocks with a powerful bass line like Back to Komm by MC5 and a cool guitar with some massive effects on it. Million and Somersault is a long jammed out instrumental track and by far the most laid back on the record but with some excellent space outs and psychedelic parts and lots of changes.  Amazing record..

Mr. Peter Hayden- We Fly High 7” (Doognad Records DOOG019)

The psychedelic rock band from Finland entitled Mr. Peter Hayden have a new 7” record out to proceed the release of their next full length record due out in April. The 7” has the long track split over two sides. If you heard the bands last record, then you will get an idea of the direction the band was heading. The side A starts off slow, heavy and spacey with a quite far out sound production to start (especially if you play it at the wrong speed!). When the track really begins it is heavy, repetitive, and slowly evolving with a distant vocal. The lead guitar lines make it pretty psychedelic before you have to turn the record over. A quick fade up before the monster space laden doom riff kicks in. This track is basically instrumental but towards the end you can hear a voice that sounds like it has a vocoder effect on it but it is mixed into the background. The next record is going to be a trip for sure!

Falcon (Ex-Circle)- Frontier (Full Contact Records KRYPT-048)

The first (and maybe the last) Falcon record is out now. For those unaware, Falcon is all the current line up of Circle playing normal rock, with more than a hint of the worst of the 80s hard rock/metal scene, with the cheesy keyboards, etc.. but they can’t do it totally normal, there is always that little strange Circle twist. I love some of the lyrics especially on Beer and Ribs, which was released as a single last year. If you are a fan of Circle, musically you will find this a bit disappointing, unless you can really see how much fun the band had making a record like this. I enjoyed some of it quite a lot but you have to think about it in a different way, that this is not really Circle, but it still is….   Just check it out and make your own opinion and if you dig, order the record….

Siena Root- Conveniently Blind 7” (Transubstans Records TRANSV708)

This is the first new material by Siena Root in 3 years. The title track the band has been playing in their live set for a year or so. This is the last recorded material with multi-instrumentalist KG West, who has now left the band. Conveniently Blind (plays on 45rpm) is the first material to features the new singer Jonas Ahlen. This is a straight up Siena Root 70s roots rock track with some nice organ and guitar work. The whole band sounds great. Mishra Kafi is a 5½ min instrumental track that is based on a composted sitar piece for the start and then half way through a melodic hard rock build up kicks in and KG plays like a lead guitar line on the sitar that sounds really cool and then the last guitar section he switches back to his trusty Stratocaster! Great song and 7”.. I think it is pressed in 1000 copies. I can’t wait for the full length record later this year!

This is Nowhere- Turn on, Tune Down, Drop D (Nasoni Records 142)

This is Nowhere are a Greek band playing pretty psychedelic stuff, all tuned down, stoney and spaced out! This is the bands third release. The record comes with an insert as well as a CD version of the record with three bonus tracks, which are just remixed and different versions of three of the songs from the record (Moondub, I Need and I wish upon her for my Fall). Anyway the record starts off with Dopehead Blues (Lonnie Johnson song), a slow druggy blues track. Here you can get used to the reverb laden sound production. I need reminds me a bit of White Manna in a way. A sort of straight up rock and roll song but with strange twists and far out vocals, guitar parts, etc.. Bateman’s Late Night Shift is really psychedelic and passionate. I wish upon her for my Fall starts slow and crawling with just vocals and guitar reverb as it slowly grows. Side B starts off with the really psychedelic track, Two Nights.  A great stoner rock riff and groove followed by some really spaced out vocals, which they later ease up on but the grooves continue. There is not a real guitar solo but more some spaced sounds. Theme for Peter slows things down a bit but is like a stoney psychedelic blues song. Theme for Bootsy, pretty much says it all, right? Well, it is not as Funkadelic like as you would expect. The guitar riff is pretty similar to the other songs with more spacey vocals. It gets more uptempo and spaced out towards the end and then returns to the chorus of vocals. Moondub ends this very cool record and is more floating with some nice guitar lines. I really like the vibe on the record as the songs are all like spaced out jams. They have two guitar players but there is very little lead guitar, it is mostly just heavy riffing and some psychedelic guitar parts but not many solos. Anyway, I dug the record, the vibe and it is great when you want a really heavy stoned trip. Enjoy…

Dog & Sky- Denver (Crispin Glover Records NONE5CGR030)

Dog & Sky is a collaboration between Americans Matt Burt and Michael Dutch with three Norwegians from Trondheim. Matt writes all the lyrics, plays the guitar and sings (or speaks), while Michael plays the bass and mandolin, while Eirik (saxophone, piano, glückespiel, tablas, tambura), Truels (guitar, vibraphone, dobro, piano and backing vocals), and Vigdis (drums and backing vocals) make up the band. I this have heard record many time now and am pretty hooked even though it is nothing I would have bought unless someone pushed me in the right direction. Anyway, Denver starts off with a sound sample and a slow steady bass, drum and simple guitar line while Matt sings/speaks very slowly. It has an upbeat section where it becomes more “normal” for a brief period of time before the horns and all other instruments kick in and you wonder just what happened? Cool song. Jail Cells starts with some pedal steel and then the track starts to develop a bit of Americana but with a very cool and unique feel. Woman on the Corner, Matt changes his vocal approach and sings in a bit of high range as this track has an almost strange punky vibe. Reminds me of some of the Sub pop stuff by bands like Beat Happening.. Side B starts off with Sometime a Woman and it reminds me of someone that I just can’t place. The way the vocals, guitar and saxophone are played.. Ugh.. who is it??? Holding Hands has slow and fast parts and tells a nice story in this more mainstream track and features the mandolin. The Midnight Hiker is a very strange spoken word story with only minimal mood music. I found it quite a daring thing to add to the record but I actually liked it a lot. Great record.

Circle- Incarnation (Full Contact Records KRYPT-047)

I am only writing this review as a warning to those who might buy it. THIS IS NOT CIRCLE FROM FINLAND! It is five Finnish musicians from the Death metal scene using the CIRCLE name and making psychedelic death metal. It actually has nothing to do with Circle except being released on the label. There are 5 tracks on the record. The title track starts with like 30 seconds of silence and then some very brutal death metal blast out to shock you. It has a very low fi production and strange feeling to it as it pummels you. The mid-section is totally mad with lots of tortured screams. Infamy has a more melodic start but then hits the road at breakneck speed. The end is totally crazy with some psychedelic guitar madness. Wow.. Crazy stuff. Transcending starts off side B with some solo drums before the heavy stuff kicks in. This is also some intense stuff with the vocals mixed more in the back and some spoken words as the music is generated in waves. Bloodstreams is a very short track and returns to the super fast intense death metal of the first track. Burden has a crazy guitar sound to start things off and then a deep bass starts a kind of hypnotic groove as it slowly gets more and more psyched out and intense. Crazy record..

Circle- SSEENNSSEESS (Full Contact Records KRYPT-052)

Circle are back with a new live record, featuring 4 tracks recorded live on Nov 22nd, 2013 as part of the Mika Taanila art exhibition in Helsinki. Kudos starts slow and building with a very beautiful melodic thread and keyboard line. Slowly the lead guitar starts to play and then Mika kicks in with some really unique Finnish vocals. He is singing in a bit different style than normal Circle. The keyboards play a major part in this 15mins song that slowly builds with short keyboard and guitar solo sections interspersed between the singing. It makes a few dramatic changes at several points into an almost jazz like theme. Radiant is the next piece on Side A and nearly 9 mins long. It has a melodic repetitive groove to start but then it sort of evolves into as the operatic vocal kicks in. Again, the keyboard is playing a major role in the sound on this track, creating the main melody but also padded space at times. This can only be Circle! Flip the record over and there are two 11 min songs starting with the Sleepwalker. It has a slow repeated theme as the guitars noodle, the vocals appear and go away over the course of the track as Mika gives an occasional shout. There is some sort of recorded talking also you hear now and then but maybe it from the audience or the art exhibit? Terminal brings back the intensity with a more heavy metal like riff but 80s Falcon like keyboards in another diverse track with some cool dual psychedelic guitar jamming. This was my favourite track on the record. Pretty cool record..

Black Prism- Satan’s Country 7” (Easyrider Records EZRDR-006)

This is a totally new band for me. I just read a description and thought it sounded cool so I ordered it. The band have a very raw, low fi, nasty sound but play just heavy rock in the Sabbath worship vein. The title track starts off side A is very Black Sabbath inspired (the singing) but the sound is way too low fi and gritty for Sabbath. Cool guitar riff drives the track but sadly no guitar solo at all. Yrtnuog S’natas, is the same song as the A side spelled and played backwards…… what a complete waste that is? I have no interest in listening to this. Overall, I would not recommend this 7”. The band has a cool sound but no solos, and they need some more ideas, clearly.

Mammatus- Heady Mental (Spiritual Pajamas 012)

The San Francisco bay area band, Mammatus are finally back with a new record after a long break. Each side features 2 tracks related to messing up your brain with intense music. The overall sound production is much cleaner on this record than the past ones.  Brain Drain starts things off with a frantic pace and a lot of harmony guitars and is pretty complex at times reminding me of Danava but with more spaced out vocals. Lots of guitar solos with chorus driving this first track. Main Brain brings things down and there are some spacey sounds as the vocals are mixed into the background and quite trippy at times, but they raise the intensity level when it is necessary. A ripping guitar solo is played in the end section and when he kicks in the wah pedal, it brings back the memories of what band we are listening to as the other guitar is making a wall of sound in the background and the drums are pounding. Brainbow is next. I wonder if any of the band are referring to the Brainbow mouse used in neuroscience research? Anyway, this one starts off with a quick pace with the bass line mixed way up front as the driver. The vocals are really trippy as sounds criss cross the soundscape and some synths as well. The guitar takes the lead later with a lot of really cool melodies and fast runs as well. Brain Train is your last trip for this record and starts with a train horn as well before taking off at a fast pace with the bass and guitar lines pushing back and forth in a really cool rhythm. Fans of Danava will dig this record for sure. It gets beautifully spaced out and then goes back to the ripping guitar before coming to a dramatic end. Wow..

Goat- Live Ballroom Ritual (Rocket Recordings Launch 062)

I quite liked the Goat record and thought I would give this double live album. Goat is a band from the Gothenburg Sweden area. This double live record, recorded at the Electric Ballroom, Camden, London features all the songs from the record and the two from the Dreambuilding 7”/12”. The record starts off with the instrumental Diarabi and while the band stretch it out a bit, that is almost all the jamming you get. The Golden Dawn is next and the guitar does an extended psyched out solo and then back to the main theme. Disco Fever is played very straight up with the hand drumming mixed quite up front as well as the afrobeat like guitar, with the vocals a bit further back in the mix. The guitar solo comes late. Stonegoat is very short and ends the side with another uptempo track and the intense female vocal. Sounds a bit like she is getting tired of screaming already though and it is early in the concert.. Side B features 4 songs starting with Let it Bleed, which is slower and more groovey and features the saxophone. I had never heard this track Dreambuilding and it is a bit more mainstream and dreamy and the vocal is more relaxed and not so much in your face. Cool drumming. The track Run to your Mama kicks up the heat again but I was a bit disappointed they did not do anything interesting in the mid-section, just a simple guitar riff and drumming (maybe there were some special dancers or something going on that we can’t see here..), when it could be some cooler guitar or something. Goathead ends the side with another quick track but with a cool wah solo at the end. Side C starts with a straightup version of Goatman and after some feedback from the end of that track, Goatlord is a very short and leads into the long spaced out  instrumental track, Det som aldrig Förandras- Kristallen den fina.  Some of this will remind you of the way Hills space out. Side D has the sole track, The Sun and The Moon (6mins). Again, I get the feeling there are a lot of dancers or something going on as they have this killer groove going but the guitar is not really going for it, he is really holding back most of the time.. If you are a fan you will dig this record for sure..

Purson- The Contract 7” (Rise above Records)

This was a limited edition 7” sold at the Rise Above Records 25th anniversary concert in London in December 2013. It features the song The Contract from the bands last studio record and the unreleased song, Blueprints of the Dream. The leftover copies are still available from the Rise Above web store (green vinyl only).  The Contract (written by Cunningham) is a sort of beautiful spooky track with a driving bass line and lots of layers of instruments and then a dramatic change and upbeat section and then back to the more spooky stuff with mellotron, strings and then back again. Nice song. Blueprints starts with some organ and bells and then another pretty spooky but lovely track begins and it has a nice fuzzed out guitar for the short solo. If you like the band, this is worth getting… There are still some for sale at the Rise above web site.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Trondheim Calling Live 2014- Jan 30th- Feb 1st

I was invited up to play with a great new Norwegian band called Black Moon Circle, who I just released their debut EP on my Space Rock Productions label, as well as played on. This festival is mainly a showcase for new bands from all music genres and mostly local acts. You get a wristband and then you can go to any of the clubs (10) where the bands are playing in Trondheim. There were a few very cool bands playing like Spider Gawd (features the rhythm section from Motorpsycho) and High Priest of Saturn, but I did not recognize any of the other names. Spider Gawd played two shows but we missed them both due to rehearsing on Friday and them playing just before us at another venue on Saturday. After rehearsal on Friday though Vemund and I went out to see High Priest of Saturn, a local doom band at a club called Blæst. I had seen them before and was hoping to hear some new material and they did play a new song, which I shot a video of called Serpent World. They only had 30mins like all bands so only played 4 tracks. The sound needed to be much more massive and the drummer was just too laid back so when you also have a laid back vocal, it just lacked intensity. It was a bit disappointing considering that I liked the record they made on Svart quite a lot.

               The next day I saw part of the band playing before Black Moon Circle and they were called New Brian. They were young kids all dressed up to the max with ties, perfect hair and looks playing 80s like music, something like Wham! It was not for me and the small crowd seem to like it but I just don’t understand the point of doing stuff like this… Ugh..

               We hit the stage right at 23 and played 32mins. We opened with Jack’s Cold Sweat, a track that will be on the band’s first full length record later this year. Øyvin (singer and bass player) has been fighting a cold the entire weekend so his vocals were quite harsh at times but he really sang with intensity and gave it his all. We had a nice spaced out section on this track. American Eagle, which is on the EP, was really extended with two different improvised sections and quite different from the record. We really had it together on this track and I had come up with some cool spacey sounds, that are not on the record. Plains, also from the record really let Vemund play some amazing guitar parts as we took the psychedelic space rock to another level. Sound was great on the stage (and also the audience recording). Short, powerful show..  We quickly packed up and headed back to the rehearsal room as we were going to have a studio recording session the next day. It was a great concert. I feel like I have a special musical connection with these guys that I have not had with all the bands I have played with, so early on. Awesome.
Black Moon Circle