Sunday, March 31, 2019

I am Damo Suzuki by Damo Suzuki and Paul Woods (Ominbus Press)

I have been exchanging mails with Damo since about 2008 and he finally performed with my band, Øresund Space Collective on Valentine’s Day 2014 and stayed at my apartment in Copenhagen. We have exchanged many mails and postcards over the years but this book has really let me into his life in a totally different way. 

It has a been a long and difficult project to make this happen and to organize it is in a way that is easy to read. No simple feat. Damo has been a world adventurer since he left Japan in 1968 on his 18th birthday and never looked back. Always forward to the next adventure, the next musical creation event. Making things happen in this reality and time and space. Improvisation is his way of life, not just in music.  He is here on this planet to experience life to it’s fullest. To see, hear, watch, listen and take it all in, learn from it, become the energy of the moment (for the good and the bad) and use this knowledge to make himself more experienced for the next adventure. He likes people very much.

This book pretty much charts all the major events in his life from the early days of leaving Japan for Sweden and then some travels in Europe and ending up living in Ireland for nearly a year before settling down in Germany. He is never really settled though. He has to be on the move always… It is not his way of doing things.   His travels in Africa were very interesting to read about and the way he just arrives at one place and books a departure from another country and just goes. No plans about what to see or where to stay, just on the move to live like Africans, eat like them, sleep like them, take in the full experience of what it is like to be one of them. Sitting often, just observing the world.  Wow..

Damo also has a normal life for many years after CAN, being a father to three boys and working several normal jobs, one for a Japanese company for 26 years! His wife also has made a very interesting contribution to the book. After nearly dying in the early 80s from cancer, he decided it was time to get back into music again and besides some travel breaks, after 1997, he has never stopped. Fascinating life.

One very important section is written by Luca from Julie’s Haircut. It is only about 3 pages long but it explains a lot about what it is like to perform with Damo, probably spells it out better than any other part of the book. Great job Luca. There are a lot of small sections like this interspersed in the chapters that relate to the subject being spoken about from different people who have played with Damo including some of the guys from Cul de Sac, Domink von Senger, Alexander Shönert, Jaki Liebezeit and others (wife, girlfriend, movie maker).  The chapters dealing with his cancer return and near death are quite touching and we are lucky Damo is still with us.  The end of the book as a pretty extensive discography of virtually all the officially released recordings from Damo.

I loved this book and what an amazing story. I was lucky to see Damo perform three shows last year, one of these, the Minami Deutsch and Damo Suzuki Live at Roadburn Festival has just been released. Damo was sounding great last year.  I wish Damo many more years of performing as he will continue to do this until it is not possible. Damo is the ultimate improvised world traveler. It is in his blood and genes, that he must continue to experience human, musical energy and different places for the rest of his life..  Peace, love and energy.

The Golden Grass- 100 Arrows EP (In for the Kill Records 2019)

The Brooklyn NY band, the Golden Grass is back with a new EP supporting their upcoming European tour with the great German band, Wedge. The EP features 2 mew original songs and a few covers as well. 8 tracks in total.  Here is the detailed info:

The “100 Arrows” EP consists of 4 brand new studio recordings, featuring 2 original new compositions as well as smashing covers of OPEN MIND’s “Magic Potion” & BUBBLE PUPPY’s “Hot Smoke And Sasafrass”, both of which have been standards in THE GOLDEN GRASS’ live show for several years. In fact, this is the 2nd time they have recorded “Hot Smoke And Sasafrass”, as it previously appeared on their 2xLP split release with KILLER BOOGIE, BANQUET & WILD EYES in 2016 (on Heavy Psych Sounds), and they chose to re-record it because they had developed such an intense and expansive version of it over the years, it needed proper documentation! The CD release will also include 4 bonus tracks, 2 of which come from 2016 pre-production demos for their “Absolutely” LP and the other 2 from their live Daytrotter session from 2017, which includes cover versions of TIN HOUSE’s “I Want Your Body” and ICECROSS’ “Wandering Around”, both of which had also been staples in their live repertoire for years.

100 Arrows is a fast paced rocker with a heavy guitar riff. It slows down around the vocal chorus and then off we go, rocking away. This track reminds me a bit of the vibe of Adam’s other band, Rattlesnake! Fast Time Running has a great guitar riff like old ZZTOP before the vocals kicks in and then a more melodic side appears. Adam and Michael trading off and sharing the vocals on this one. Lots of changes in this track with some great riffs and always keeping it interesting.  I was not so keen on their version of Magic Potion. My fave version is by Sundial.  They really nail Hot Smoke by Bubble Puppy on this newly recorded version. Catch your Eve, was on the Absolutely LP but this version has a bit more air in the sound production but the track is pretty similar with the LP version but the slide guitar part does not cut through the way it does on the final version. A great song and vibe. Burn it all Away is an instrumental jammed out track with some intense drumming.  I want your Body is a track I had never heard them play. They have fun playing this one. Wandering Around by Icecross, they played in Copenhagen a few years back and they really rock this one out nicely, with an almost QUO like vibe.  Great EP and one that really grows on you.  I hope I can hunt down the CD.

The band is on tour in Europe with Wedge until the middle of April. Check them out. Great live band.

Pyramidal (Lay Bare Recordings LBR22)

The Spanish band, Pyramidal are back with another limited edition release in only 250 copies.  They are probably my favourite band from Spain so I always am excited to hear the next one. Anyway, Visions of an Astral Journey starts this record off and you might have heard an early version if you have the bands Live from the Psychedelic Network release.  IT starts smoothly with some nice sax the melts in with the spacey guitar and after about a minute, the rhythm changes with a harder guitar as one plays the riff and one the wah guitar. Later the track does King Crimson with some complex changes, wild sax and intense parts. Fantastic track with so many cool parts. Creatures of the Ancient World starts a lot like the last track and has many similarities at the start and then a sort of middle eastern dreamy section with some vocals takes you on a trip across the desert sands before you crash into the palm tree and get blasted back into the space rock with some great guitar playing. Another track to just get lost in. Great build up at the end.

The 3rd track starts with a riff like from Deep Space Riders and then goes into a quite heavy section a lot like Assassins of Allah by Hawkwind but then the band goes into their own direction with an almost Spanish acoustic guitar and then back to the sort of complex rhythms after a great guitar solo section. The 4th and last track, Alussa Infinity is one of the bands heaviest track and features some quite shouty vocals, like nothing to ever appear before on one of their records. Don’t be fooled though as the track goes into a long melodic section til the end. Intense stuff and another fantastic record. I would love to see them live again. Portugal is not that far away. Please come play guys. This will for sure be one of my fave records this year.

Sonora Sunrise- The Route through the Canyon (Trail Records )

Sonora Sunrise is a new Russian band. This CD is a sort of a concept album with the lyrics telling a deep desert story. Comes in a lovely 8 panel digipack CD made in only 300 copies.  The female singer has an amazing voice but the album is mostly instrumental. Ancient Stones (Sundown) is a short 2min intro piece leading into 11min, Welcome to the Sandland. The track starts slowly with some nice melodic guitar lines and then the track builds up nicely, almost like and ØSC jam and the keyboards come in a bit more. Unexpected Trip has some really cool synthesizers and a bit more experimental vibe from the guitars as the drums and bass just keep the pace steady and uptempo. Beautful vibe and cool spacey wah guitar to compliment the gliding synths. Poison starts off with a long synths solo and some wild guitar soloing as well. Quite a psychedelic track and not as dangerous as the title. Ancient Stones (Uprise of Jupiter) brings back the female voice once again. Canyon starts with a simple guitar and some echoed sounds and then the voice, her voice, slowly flows into the track. Lovely track and cool guitar.  

Millions of Snakes has this nice penetratin guitar line while the other plays a more heavy riff. A bit like a slowed down Yuri Gargarin. Later it slows down with an acoustic guitar and is very spacey. Nice bass lines. Roadside Picnic is something totally different but another very nice song with great melodies and feelings. Nice lead guitar lines. Ancient Stones Planetary Standoff) ends this great album with a 2min outro. Excellent stuff…

Magnified Eye- The Virgin, the Whore, The Martyr (OSR999 / DDR059)

A co-release with Osmium and Daredevil records, the Danish stoner rock band is back with their 3rd full length album and first since 2005!  This time, the band is joined by long time friend, Stefan Krey from Gas Giant on lead guitar. There is a long history of Gas Giant and Magnified Eye. Stefan has been playing with the band for the last several years.  Anyway, the album features 9 tracks and it was all recorded live in the studio. The band has never been so heavy as on this release and I would almost say it is stoner doom rock now.  Battle of Edessa starts things off with a mid-paced but heavy track some great energy and cool guitar parts. Trailblazer is the first of several tracks to feature the harmonica, which is followed by the drums and harmony guitar before the main riff kicks in. Sounds really cool the way the guitar and harmonica interact throughout the track. Outside the Omniapparatus speeds things up a bit with a true rocker. I really like the solo section on the track. Chimp King starts slowly and is a bit doomy and again features the harmonica. Homeless Shelter is a CD and digtal only track that starts with a straight guitar (no fuzz) before the main heavy fuzz riff kicks in. Potent lyrics on this track, which is another faster track but still with some nice melodic undertones. Legion (you can check out the video below), 

the start reminds me a bit of Gas Giant but with some harmony guitar parts. Heavy Stuff. Word of Faith, the vocal is almost strained as Torben tries to get his message across, on this rocker with a very special guitar riff. Moat has some cool drumming to compliment the guitar riff before the harmonica and vocals kick in on another mid paced stoner rock groove. This one grooves a bit more than some of the tracks. Back to the roots. The title track, ends this track and is one of my favorites. Wish this one was on youtube so you can could hear it!  Enjoy the return of the Magnified Eye!!!!!!!!!