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Umberto - From The Grave (2015) review

Umberto - From The Grave (Permanent Records, 2015)

The past two years have seen an explosion in the soundtrack genre, specifically in what is commonly referred to as minimal synth, dark ambient, giallo or simply horror music which has made a huge comeback and seems all the rage these days.  If you grew up in the 80s like I did, than the sounds of John Carpenter’s movies were likely as much of the experience as the moving images were when you first saw them.  If you’re a fan of the horror/giallo genre though, than you also likely know that this wasn’t an isolated event and there were other, much more prolific, purveyors of that sound who came before Carpenter; Ennio Morricone, Stelvio Cipriani, and Fabio Frizzi all quickly come to mind.  And while there have been a lot of bands popping up lately releasing albums that could easily fall into the same horror/giallo genre, there aren’t many of them that approach the subject matter from such a pure and attentive angle.  Umberto, the musical alter ego of Matt Hill, on the other hand has been pumping out unbelievable albums one after the other since 2009 and he’s showing no signs of letting up anytime soon at this point.  I’m still playing catch-up on with a lot of the bands releasing this kind of stuff and only recently managed to get my hands on a copy of Umberto’s first proper full-length album From The Grave.  It was originally released in 2009 on limited edition CD-R and then quickly on cassette as well by the Sonic Meditations label the same year.  Then in 2010 Permanent Records, who never fail to impress, released From The Grave on vinyl for the first time.  The initial pressing sold out instantly and there have been four concurrent represses of From The Grave in as many years by them since!  That’s enough background on the album though.  After all, it’s the music that really matters… I mean, that’s why we’re all here right?  Well, From The Grave runs the gambit from slowly slinking sinister electronic drones to brutal pulse pounding onslaughts, guttural bellows of synthesized menace alongside funky giallo disco tracks that will have you tapping your toe just as much as they’ll have you nervously peering over your shoulder.  Starting with the ultra-short, minute-and-some-change, “Opening Title Themes” gritty blown-out church organs wail an unholy lament into cold damp air, while a slowly expanding line of synthesizers creep in from first the top-end, then the bottom, slowly surrounding the plodding unsuspecting sounds of the organ completely before beating them to a bloody pulp and forcing them to give way to the start of “Running Blade”.  “Running Blade” ups the ante significantly and starts the trend of the slightly extended run times that make up From The Grave, clocking in at almost six minutes long.  The vibes of “Running Blade” are instantly more ominous than “Opening Title Themes” as well.  There’s thick, heavy, wet synth lines dripping off the frame of a sparse, yet almost funky, drum rhythm that holds the tenuous string of applied sounds together in an immaculate framework of enthralling giallo inspired mystery and suspense.  The sweet drone and simply shifting minor progressions that lurk beneath the funky bone covered exterior of “Running Blade” are definitely grounded in a great love of Carpenter.  However, as the Carpenter vibe begins to fade out for the most part around three-and-a-half minutes in, Umberto’s own unique voice begins to take shape in the haze of tension and horror for the first time on From The Grave.  His reliance on piercing high-end clangs and chimes is something new for me for, at least for the most part.  I’ve heard people toy with them in the past, but Umberto is able to strip away the demonic bass-end of the songs that I’m used to, and his compositions stand as unsettling pieces uniquely they’re own.  “Forsaken Dawn” drives home the distilled and unapologetic giallo influences that you’re hearing extremely successfully.  Yeah, the beat almost sounds like it could be from Escape From New York or something, but the subtly shifting movements of music above it, which drift back and forth from driving bass to spasming explosions of treble, help give “Forsaken Dawn”, and From The Grave for that matter, they’re trademark sound.  It’s an almost danceable giallo disco romp into the territory of Bruno Nicolai, Stelvio Cipriani or Riz Ortolani to my ear, quickly supplying yet another example as to why Umberto has basically been continuously releasing music under this moniker for six years at this point, and hasn’t had a single dud to date in my opinion.  “Forsaken Dawn” builds to such a bestial monstrous frenzy so calmly and collectively, that at first that you almost don’t notice.  That is until you’re trapped in full on psychosis mode, feeling suffocated in a haze of maddening frenzied illusions as the final notes begin to stagger and collapse from your speakers.  While your mind is still reeling from the orgy of sounds showcased in “Forsaken Dawn”, Umberto once more commands your senses be instantly assaulted, this time by the dark electronic stabs that begin “The Child”, which may in fact be my favorite track on From The Grave.  “The Child” is so sparse and the beat seems so sporadic, repetitive but completely un-formulaic – I was hooked from the first time I heard it.  Choirs of disembodied voices begin their funeral incantation, whispering inevitably of your impending demise, but in the most magnificent amalgamated spectacle of grotesque beauty and terror that you’ve ever beheld.  At once, calming and hypnotically entrancing, “The Child” begins to slowly transform.  Like an animal turning rabid, it grows razor sharp synthesized fangs dripping crimson red with the blood of its most recent victim that collect in crunchy puddles of assaulted keys at its’ unholy feet.  Umberto’s ability to take the smallest and simplest of progressions or sounds and transmogrify them, building endlessly on them, molding them into new shapes like a master mason or monster maker, until he’s crafted a towering vestal that menacingly looms before you, is absolutely breathtaking at times.  A few tracks in, just when you think you’ve got a handle on things and they’re going to get hard and heavy like you would expect, “The Child” comes to a quick close and the aggression resends.  Instead, they’re now replaced by the divine sounds of “Dream Sequence” which begin to invade every crevice and crack of your brain almost instantaneously from the moment it starts.  The ethereal opening begins to metamorphasize and juxtaposes the droning otherworldly sounds that it’s composed of with a few differing melodies, rhythms, and instruments.  A phantasmagoric organ floats in and out of the gallery of “Dream Sequence”, along with Umberto’s piercing signature high end, his almost sonic sounding bell tolls and barking screams of synthesizer.  “Dream Sequence” molds and changes shape, fitting in with nearly any possible scenario that it could be confronted with, all while unbelievably still presenting a unified vision of a slowly unraveling reality and forgotten shattered china doll beauty that’s been left shattered on the floor, scattered like the shards of a broken mirror.  The songs on From The Grave don’t accompany a movie or anything, but in a sense they almost do.  The deeper you move into the album, the closer you get to the territory of the grave itself.  The closer to the grave you get, the more images are conjured and thrown at the listener.  It’s never haphazardly though, it’s always with an almost insane level of intention and meaning, even if that’s hard to piece together on the first pass, it becomes much more apparent once you’ve finished From The Grave at least once.  The sixth track “Intermission” utilizes both the repeated haunting groan of organs and the jangling bells tones that are like Umberto’s calling cards from the very outset, but really “Intermission”, a lot like it’s name would imply, seems to operate as more of a mood setter for the next track “It Came From The Swamp” than anything else.  Especially as it’s one of only two extremely short tracks on From The Grave, especially in comparison to the hefty four to six minute vibes of the album.  It may be less than a minute long, but “Intermission” perfectly sets up the foreboding ominous tones that bring “It Came From The Swamp” lurching to life from the murky pit of mud and gore where it dwells.  Piercing synthesizers flutter underneath of a doomey droning note of pure synthetic terror, building to an explosion of horrifically deep bass and the first real discernable strings on the album; a sweet fuzzy distorted guitar grunting and crooning behind the quickly amassing menagerie of insanity.  Instead of shoehorning the instrument into the mix though, Umberto utilizes sustained single chords that ring out and bubble up in the background of the sparse erratic electronic sounds above it.  “It Came From The Swamp” feels like the listener is being pursued by some unseen, yet unarguably and undoubtedly horrible creature of unfathomably evil intentions.  Now, while there are a lot of tracks that a trained Carpenter freak’s ear could pick out on the album as obvious nods to the genius composer if one were to pay a lot of attention, the amazing use of drone and sustained single notes throughout “It Came From The Swamp” are evidence enough for me of his undeniable aesthetic presence.  There’s definitely a Halloween, specifically the more experimental Halloween III, vibe going on with “It Came From The Swamp” and that would be hard to argue against with me.  Somehow, though Umberto’s not derivative or predicable in the slightest.  It’s always annoying when someone is biting someone else’s style, but Umberto never ‘sinks’ to that level.  Instead, he opts to completely dissect what makes a song sound the way that it does, pick it all apart and then turn it on its’ head by reassembling the pieces into a new functional manifestation of his own accord.  Unnerving, disarming, scary but not at all in your face about it, “It Came From The Swamp” could easily underscore any number of extremely famous 70’s and 80’s horror movie scenes – in fact, it’s “It Came From The Swamp” more than any other track on the album that makes me wish there actually was a film to go along with the music.  I suppose the maniacally deranged images that it conjures in my mind will have to suffice, and honestly in the end, that’s fine with me.  There’s really no way anyone could actually produce anything as visually terrifying or horrifically beautiful as to visually accompany Umberto’s music on this album properly anyways.  From The Grave checks all the boxes; creepy, catchy, synthesized, eerie, dark, ominous and infectious as all hell.  From this point on the album takes on a markedly more intense and frenzied approach to the music, imbuing it with even more tension and paranoia than ever before.  In fact “Shower Scene” drives this point home like a steak knife to the heart with the name alone.  It’s an obvious nod to the infamous Hitchcock shower scene in Psycho, which is dangerous territory to tread on for me, and a lot of other people I would guess.  There’s not much in this world that I would even begin to compare with such an iconic, unforgettable and influential piece of cinematic history as that particular scene from one of Hitchock’s most beloved classics.  “Shower Scene” however is far from being out of its class, or it’s element for that matter, and I for one would love to see what Umberto could do actually rescoring a classic film like Psycho or Birds; it would be intriguing without doubt.  That aside though, the pulsating drums and relentless shrill squeals of the synthesizers on “Shower Scene” are soon joined by a rotting foul drone note, slithering from side to side, slowly molting and evolving as the song progresses and unfolds.  Together they merge to create a composition that could easily have been left off of one of the original Phantasm soundtracks – which is perhaps the highest honor I could bestow on an artist of this genre.  This song sounds as though John Carpenter and Fred Myrow got together with Malcolm Seagrave and this is the result of their limited time in the studio, a perfect marriage of the two differing sides of the same coin to create something three times as powerful and intense.  “Shower Scene” is perhaps the best of From The Grave distilled and compiled into one song, at one place at one time, a concentrate of the highest magnitude that creates pure ghoulish perfection!  It’s an unnerving song to say the least, if not immaculately crafted and performed.  Next, “In The Name Of Zuul” brings things full circle again, moving much more into the more danceable, funk, giallo sound that Umberto has become so synonymous with.  In retrospect it’s kind of incredible to listen to an album where a musician so easily taps almost every different facet of the synth and avant-garde soundtrack genres where it doesn’t come off like a jumbled mess, or worse yet, utterly painful.  The entirely derailed keys that bounce like shrapnel from a landmine throughout “In The Name Of Zuul” begin to slowly convalesce with the accompanying melodies and rhythms astride next to them to create a haunting opera from beyond the veil of life and death, a glimpse at the other side.  Even almost tribal hand percussion is eventually introduced, truly making “In The Name Of Zuul” one of the most well rounded giallo pieces ever presented outside of the original format in my opinion.  Listening to songs like this it’s all too easy to forget that this is an album and not an actual soundtrack though, which is something that I can’t often say when listening to new albums like this.  The final track is aptly named “Final Credits” and it delivers a sludge hammer of a blow to finish things off.  I’ve not been taken by many of these horror renaissance projects to be honest and one of the few exceptions is Slasher Dave, and this sounds like it could have been taken from his last album for Bellyache Records Tomb Of Horrors.  If you’ve read my review of that album, you know that’s another extremely lofty comparison for me to make, one I don’t do too often or too lightly.  With unintelligible words speaking some incantation to no-doubt summon ancient gods that we as mortals have long forgotten, Umberto summons up from the depths of the grave the most horrific and sinister sounds that he can for “Final Credits”.  Jangling bells resonate along with what sounds suspiciously like a Theremin, all the while various synthesizers and organs grind any bones that they come into contact with into powder with a devastating bottom-end that seems nearly limitless and infinite.  The sheer immense weight and power of “Final Credits” comes crashing down on the listener like a machete wielding maniac’s kill shot, a fitting end for an album that owes much of its existence to films that draw their subject matter from such things.  In the end however, From The Grave manages to move beyond being merely a good ‘horror’ or ‘giallo’ album though.  It’s not just another great ambient electronic or dark wave offering.  Its composition, production and execution place it high among some of the best recordings of nearly any genre that I’ve compulsively listened to for some two and a half decades now, with absolutely no question in my mind.  It’s not easy to hang with the greats of this genre alone either, Morricone got his name in the giallo game after all.  But Umberto in the end delivers one of the most effective and enjoyable, you can call it what you want but I’m going to just call it a horror, albums that I have ever heard.  Not only do the collected recordings work as an album, but as a kind of perceived soundtrack to images that they conjure in your mind as well.  You just but have to close your eyes and the pictures will begin to flood in with the music on From The Grave.  As fresh now as it was when it was originally released in 2009 some six years ago at this point, you need to make sure you get on top of the recent repressing.  This album belongs on any self-respecting giallo, horror, synth, no wave, dark wave, or dark ambient music lover’s record shelf.  Hell, I bet there’s a ton of psych guys out there that could associate with the approach to construction and execution of From The Grave like I can.  It easily transcends genre barriers and has continued to attract a widely growing audience for more than half a decade now.  Permanent has already done a few pressings, but you never know when the last one is going to be and you do not want to have missed out on this slab of synthesized history.  Get on the links below to hear some of what I’m talking about and do yourself a favor, buy one of these 300 nuggets of purest awesome.  And for the love of all that’s holy – someone make get me more of this man’s catalog so I can review the living crap out of it!  I know he has a new collarborative album with Antonia Maovi on the Mondo/Death Waltz Original label that I’m salivating to check out.  That’ll be in print for a while.  From The Grave on the other hand may not be sticking around as long…  Just sayin’.

Review made by Roman Rathert/2015
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Dave Mihaly’s Shimmering Leaves Ensemble – Euro and Solo (2015) review

Dave Mihaly’s Shimmering Leaves Ensemble – Euro and Solo (Self-Released, 2015)

Mihaly is a multi-instrumental percussionist with San Francisco’s prog-psych jazzbos Mushroom and this is his third release leading the Shimmering Leaves Ensemble. On this recording, a new Ensemble includes occasional ‘shroomer Jon Birdsong (Beck, Beth Orton) on cornet and Belgian bassist Tim Coenen (Admiral Freebee). The album was recorded (mostly) in Antwerp on September 23, 2014 (Mihaly recorded a few solo tracks in San Fran on June 11, 2014 – hence the album title!), and begins with a lovely little relaxing oriental concoction, ‘T’ai’. A reflective thousand-yard-stare overcomes me while grooving to the late night shuffle of ‘Blues For Izu’, highlighted by Mihaly’s crystalline guitar lines and Birdsong’s dreamy cornet. Mihaly also eschews the six-string for the drum kit on a few tunes, the most effective is the sinewy, snake-charmer ‘Midnight Dance’.
The trio branch out in a poppier direction with the calypso-flavoured ‘A Midnight Train’ and ‘Everyday Is Labor Day’, a tongue-in-cheek smack in the face of Jerry Lewis’ past-its-sell-by-date telethon, a worthy cause that, sadly seems to have run its course. (Don’t blame Mihaly, he offers the tune “with utmost respect”.) ‘Altriciality’ is a $50 word that’s easier to listen to than pronounce, as one easily gets lost in Mihaly’s fluorescent vibes and scattershot drumming. It apparently has something to do with young animals who are unable to move around on their own immediately after birth, and Mihaly captures that straightjacket confinement with his minimalist-yet-alluring percussives.
If fairytales be to yer liking, then you’ll dig the Ensemble’s retelling of the origin of Antwerp, ‘Antigoon, Brabo, and The River’. Each instrument (drums, cornet, and guitar respectively) represents the meeting of the Flemish giant Antigoon (who guarded the river Scheldt by demanding tolls from all who requested passage; fare cheats had their hands cut off and tossed into the river) and the Roman soldier Brabo, who killed him and tossed his offending appendage into the drink. The Dutch phrase “hand werpen” (basically, “hand toss”) has morphed over the centuries into Antwerp. And thus ends our history lesson for the day.
A few tracks (‘Overboard’, the puzzling ‘Petaluma Chan Chan’, and the silly ‘Eyebrow’) are a bit too “out there” for my parochial tastes, (and while ‘Healing’ may have done just that for Mihaly, I don’t think the 21st century is ready to embrace drum solos just yet), but don’t let that curtail your enjoyment of this eclectic collection of pop, jazz, blues, with a slightly “Euro” flavor. Head over to Dave’s website and order yourself a copy.

Review made by Jeff Penczak/2015
© Copyright

Pastor interview

Out of the remains of long forgotten heavy psych monstrosity arise Pastor, which is a new band influenced by good ol' dirty rock'n'roll. We spend some time to discuss about their new album out on Who Can You Trust? Records. Enjoy them!

When and how did the members of Pastor meet?

Arik: I actually started the whole thing with this crazy guy called ''Shardik''. I can't really remember when and where I met him though. I think we met in a bar and I started babbering like ''Hey man I want to start a rock band thing... like heavy rock.. kinda 70's style ya know?'' he was totally in for the kill! 
So we started a band kinda thing with some friends back then but it didn't worked out and we left to join our own thing ''PASTOR'', think we jammed together for almost a year till we found our drummer Alex. 

Alex: I met Arik at a Danava/Saviours Show back in 2012 in Austria. I got there with my friends and he was already hanging out outside. I went to the bar for a beer and he was standing right next to me. They were playing Sir Lord Baltimore at the venue and we both sang along to the lyrics. We started talking and he told me he was forming a band. It was obvious I had to join. I originally wanted to play guitar but there were already two guitarist (him and Shardik) so I thought I am just gonna start banging the drums. It was love at first sight. We met our bass player Georg over the internet. One time I showed up at the rehearsal and there was this mean looking guy playing bass like hell. The love story continued...

Where are you originally from?

Arik: I was born in Israel but grew up in Styria/Austria. Freakin countryside man boring and nothing to do. I was a weird child. The whole rock n roll thing started when I moved to the city Vienna. From there on my life went downhill haha. 
Shardik is from Lower Austria and Georg is from Linz/Upper Austria  but they all ended up in Vienna sooner or later.

Alex: I am from Burgenland/Austria. I moved to Vienna because of university and trying to get a life together. Instead of that, I joined Pastor.

What’s the lineup in Pastor right now?  Is this your original lineup or have you all gone through any lineup changes since the band started?

Alex: Actually there were no line up changes. Arik and Shardik started playing with two other guys and I think they called themselves "Moon" back then. We played two songs from that line up but changed some riffs and later on stopped playing these songs altogether. We met our bass player through the internet and ever since that it was a consisting line up.

Arik: If someone leaves, this band is through!

What was the local music scene like where you grew up?

Alex: To me it was awesome! When I lived on the countryside we had a lot of Punk, Hardcore and Screamo bands around town. These were some of my first concert experiences when I was about 14 years old and ever since then I totally fell in love with Punk. There was this local punk band called Determination and they were touring and shit and they were totally fast and wild. I was super into that and wanted to do that myself.

Arik: There ain't been shit at least so far I remember. Like I said I was a weird child and the whole music thing came later.

Are any of you in any other bands or do you have any side projects going on at this point?

Alex: I am singing in Avalanche. It is a Vienna based Sludge/Hardcore call it whatever you want band. We recorded some 7", tapes and a 12“ and got on the road quite often. At the time it is pretty mellow but I think we’ll get our act together and play more in the future. Georg is playing guitar in a band called Mothers Of The Land from Vienna. You should definitely check them out!

Arik: Ain't got time for that in the moment bro.

What does the name Pastor mean or refer to?

Alex: I think we were just going for the most shittiest name ever...  Actually I don’t really know but I can only say it has definitely nothing to do with any religion stuff.

Arik: I think Shardik and me came up with the name when we where drinkin' and spinning records at his place we just thought it sounds heavy but actually I don't know either haha.  

What’s the songwriting process like for Pastor?

Alex: Usually Arik and Shardik come up with some riffs. I try to lay some beats over it and then we work out the details. It is really super chilled and a Pastor song usually comes pretty natural. We also jam a lot and that’s pretty cool as well. 

Arik: Yeah its like Alex said. We get into our rehearsal cave and start jammin. He just forgot to mention all the beers !!

Alex: Oh yeah!

What about recording? You have brand new album out and in 2014 your released a single (''Wayfaring Stranger / The Oath''). Both of the releases are on Who Can You Trust Records?. Would you like to tell us what was the recording process like and maybe some words about songs, that appear on your new album?

Alex: Recording Evoke was crazy. We just had 3 days for the instrumental part and I think 2 days for vocals. We didn’t rush through the songs but it was sometimes pretty hectic because we had to get 3 songs each day done. Our budget wasn’t big enough to spend an entire week in the studio so we did it like that and I think we all liked it. The 7" was recorded in Linz/Austria at KAPU which is a club that has a studio in the upper floor. That was chill. We stayed there three days and recorded three songs. We also slept at KAPU and partied in Linz every night. Some rad stories happened there.

Arik: Recording Evoke was more or less professional compared to the recording session for the 7', haha that was crazy. And all of our shit was recorded live of course. That's the only way we can do it.

What influenced you to make this album?

Alex: To me it was the previous 7". I really wanted to do an album because I haven’t done a long player with any of my bands yet. It was on my to do list for such a long time. I think our main influence was just to get these songs out there. 

Arik: It was just the next step ya know. 

What about the cover artwork?

Arik: Yeah, that was done by Adam Burke who also did the cover for our 7". I think we didn't really knew what we wanted to have on the cover so I just told Adam to do something far out creepy with trees and stuff and I have to say Adam never disappoints. He came up with something thats totally rad that fits the music.

Are there any major plans or goals that Pastor is looking to accomplish in 2015/2016?

Alex: We are doing a three week long tour with our buddy's in Black Wizard from Canada through Europe. We are really looking forward to this tour and had to manage a lot of personal stuff for doing this but I think it will be strictly amazing! 

Do you all spend a lot of time out on the road touring?

Alex: Recently we played a lot of shows in Germany and we just got there for one show. Our last show was in Aschaffenburg/Germany which was planned a 7h drive from Vienna but turned into a 11h nightmare of traffic jams and waiting at the German autobahn. We don’t have a van so we have to go to these shows in my small Toyota in order to keep the expenses low. We always ask ourselves if we have some mental problems while driving but I think that’s just the way it is when you’re playing in a band. No matter how crazy you go inside the car as soon as you can play a show it was all worth it, I guess! And it is always rad to see weird shit in other countries.

Arik: Haha I think there is nothing more to add. We are kinda broke all the time so there is no money for a van or comfort but that's just rock n roll. 

Are there any new bands, that you would like to recommend?

Alex: Depends on what you call new but I am still listening a lot to the new Lecherous Gaze album Zeta Reticuli Blues. That band is just killer! We just played with Death Alley and these guys are just super nice and their new album Black Magick Boogieland is something I can highly recommend! Also we are all super into a band called Joy from San Diego. Seriously there are too many good bands out there these days to mention. 

Arik: DZJENGHIS KHAN! All said. But seriously I dig loads of stuff from the late 60s and 70s era.
And just to mention a few bands that I dig: Hot Lunch, Banquet, Wild Eyes, Harsh Toke, Earthless, Ovvl, and so on... 

What's your opinion about vinyl comeback? How do you listen to music? 

Alex: It is great! I mean I am 25 so I didn’t really grew up listening to records back then but I can still remember the first time I bought a 7". It was magic! I also listen to a lot of CDs in my car but whenever I am at home I go through the vinyl. I think a lot of people are making a big deal out of vinyl and their collection and as long as they are not acting like pretentious a-holes I think that’s really cool! Vinyl has so many positive aspects but I think it doesn’t really matter on what format you are listening to a band as long as you support them. 

Arik: I dig vinyl & tapes a lot and for me it's something special. And of course I use the internet to check out new bands, who doesn't? I don't have a CD player and I  honestly don't give a thing about comebacks or trends. Each to their own! As long as you support the bands you dig.

Alex: Go buy mini discs man!

Well, thanks guys for taking your time. Would you like to send a message to It's Psychedelic Baby readers?

Alex: Thanks for spreading the word about underground and independent bands. We are highly thankful for that! Go check out smaller bands in smaller clubs, it all started there!

Arik: Big thanks to Clem! Thanks to Psychedelic baby! Stay rad! Support rock n roll underground! Be yourself!

Interview made by Klemen Breznikar/2015
© Copyright

IPBM Podcast 3 - Jus Oborn (Electric Wizard)

You have last tab of acid left in your antique dresser box and you're home alone and want to experience psychedelic nightmare? Well who else to ask than Jus Oborn of Electric Wizard. He prepared a really heavy psychedelic mix exclusively for It's Psychedelic Baby Magazine. Enjoy.

Acid Nightmare Playlist

"When Klemen asked me to do a playlist I knew immediatly I wanted to do a hard psychedelic mix. I am usually asked about my favourite doom or horror films....but in my teenage years I was very into LSD. Between '84-'88 my main obsessions were death metal, LSD, Hawkwind and the Occult....haha.....together they created Electric Wizard. Actually the whole early death/black metal scene was very hedonistic and we were all satanic drug fiends..."its a satanic drug wouldn't understand"....and , of course, a lot of dark psych and prog filtered through the scene..(I actually got an Incredible String band cassette from Euronymous...and a lot of early Black metal is very 'Hawkwind'..). These bands were weird and fuzzy and creepy ...all we ever wanted in those old days was to recreate that feeling. That otherworldly experience...bad acid trips and paranoias...all seemed a way to create a darker and more psychological form of music. is a playlist of our favourite psychedelia. I tried not to make it eclectic or obscure on purpose...though there is a mix of classics and some little heard gems. The main purpose was to recreate the vibe and era when Electric Wizard was still jamming in a Dorset cottage high on LSD, mushrooms, weed, speed, pills..etc etc. An Acid Nightmare.....starting out mellow, then creeping tendrils of paranoia as you start to realise things are not as they seem....sounds become colours, colours turn into screams.... the noise intensifies and compels. Your life is a stream, a dark trickle under the sun. A black ocean awaits..."
- Jus Oborn (Electric Wizard)

© It's Psychedelic Baby Magazine

Electric Wizard overture (Funeral Of Your Mind) 
Tiffany Shade - An Older Man
Amboy Dukes - Flight Of The Byrd
Mother Sunday - Midnight Graveyard
Orphan Egg - Falling
Jimi Hendrix Experience - The Stars That Play With Laughing Sam's Dice
Alice Cooper - Fields Of Regret
Fleetwood Mac - Green Manalishi
Stooges - Ann
Moody Blues - Thinking Is The Best Way To Travel
My Bloody Valentine - Feed Me With Your Kiss
Loop - Mother Sky (Can cover)
Van Der Graaf Generator - Whatever Would Robert Have Said?
Saint Vitus - Clear Windowpane
Suck - The Whip
Bob Seger System - Deathrow
Hawkwind - Paranoia Pt.2
Monster Magnet - Ozium

Special thanks for mixing goes to Carlos Ferreira.

 Also check a really cool video made by Electric Wizard fan. Like Jus said this is a really bad acid trip...

It's Psychedelic Baby presents: Wax Machine "Big Boat" premiere

Wax Machine is a new band, that is exploring ground of psychedelia inside a wonderful mixture of sophisticated pop music.

Wax Machine are a 6 month old Brighton 6-piece spawned from the collaboration between Lauro Zanin (guitar/backing vocals) and Freddie Willatt (vocals/saxophone) fueled by late 60s/early 70s psychedelia records such as Velvet Underground, Pet Sounds, Free Your Mind... And Your Ass Will Follow, Their Satanic Majesties Request and Highway 61 Revisited.

Joined by Oscar Burns (guitar), Ellis Dickson (drums), Kat Savage (Glockenspiel/Tambourine) and Joe Thorpe (bass); Wax Machine are set to surf the cosmic vibrations in your mind.

Volcanic Tongue interview with David Keenan

Peter Brotzmann and David Keenan.

With the end of Volcanic Tongue, the closure of the greatest European record store for the past ten years is now a fact. So here’s a final talk with its shopkeeper who never saw himself as a shopkeeper: David Keenan. 

At the end of last year, you wrote a piece for the Wire about 'the end of underground music'. In the beginning of this year, you announced the closing of Volcanic Tongue. Are these two events linked to each other?

My reasons for closing down Volcanic Tongue after 10 years are entirely personal and unrelated to the state of anything else except perhaps the economy. Since the economic downturn it has been very difficult to keep things afloat, I think all small businesses have felt the same, but VT was a labour of love and something we felt was vital for the time, not just to provide a platform for the best new underground music but also to function as a weekly newsletter that provided information, context and enthused prose on the best releases that were coming out. I know that we had many more readers than we had customers. 

I was never a businessman, never wanted to be a shopkeeper, so it was never going to last forever, too many other things I wanted to do but the writing kept me interested, that was the focus of the site and why we never used sound samples, but after 10 years, and with it becoming increasingly hard in terms of cashflow I decided the time was right. I have been writing novels – fiction – for the past five years and now that they are about to start coming out I wanted to make the move to get back to writing full time and focus on my books. For the past ten years I have been working on VT stuff every day and then writing for The Wire and producing novels by night. It is simply too much to sustain and I am enjoying now having the opportunity to write in a less frenetic and more relaxed style. I mean, the VT writing came from that, it was fast, get your thoughts down, instant prose, evangelical, experimental, capturing the first thrill of hearing the music. My Wire writing was always different from that - in depth, critical, worked over - and quite segregated from it. I never considered VT or the state of things or politics or personal profit or whether it will win or lose me friends when I had an opinion or I wrote something for The Wire. I write what I believe in and what I think has to be said. Without forethought, really, which has cost me quite a few friendships over the years but I accept that’s the price you pay for a degree of critical rigour and honesty. 
I can’t think of a single person who, like me, has been a central player in the actual underground for the past few decades who doesn’t believe that the underground is dead. But it doesn’t mean that there are no solitary operatives still doing their thing; that’s where the hope and interest lies. Either way I can’t for the life of me understand why anyone who was seriously involved with their art, who was a real artist, a serious artist, would even care whether the underground was dead or not. Why would you ever think your own art was part of some genre and fight to be included in it? Surely you must believe that your own art stands alone? And that you’ll be making it whether an ‘underground’ exists or not? That’s the mindset that interests me; compulsive creation. 

What has happened with underground music is the same as what happened with independent music. Once it actually meant something, was a descriptive term, then it became ‘indie’, a genre, a ghetto, a dead end. The same thing has happened to underground music, it was inevitable. It has become undie... no need to mourn, let’s just move on, see what happens next. There will always be weirdos making the kind of art that refuses to conform to anything but the awkward contours of their own personality. My faith has always been with the one-offs. 

Ultimately, though, the reason I closed VT was personal. My father died and my friend Shaun Falconer died within the space of a year. They were both central to VT. Shaun worked for us and my father built our shop by hand. The place was just too haunted without them. It was time to move on to the next adventure. The underground just happened to fall apart at the same time. 

In an interview for the Dutch TV show 'Zomergasten', Cees Noteboom said: "There is no such thing as 'professional journalism'. You know a lot about something because you like it and you write about it because you want to share your enthusiasm... and if there would be something like 'a professional interest', I'm not interested in reading it".
For the last couple of years, my Sunday evening ritual was: reading the new VT update before going to sleep, because it always gave me a boost of positive energy. I liked your reviews because you were never cynical or trying to be clever, like many other British writers. So my question is: why and when did you decided that your VT reviews were going to be all positive, that you wanted to put your time and energy into praising the music and artists you like, instead of criticizing music and artists you don't like?

First thing, I don’t really think of myself as a critic, per se. That’s just a convenient way of describing what I do in a way that’s straightforward and understandable. Critique, however, is of little interest to me, ultimately. I prefer to simply ignore what I don’t like or doesn’t interest me and surround myself with my passions. I prefer building up to knocking down. I cut myself off from mainstream media a long time ago. I haven’t owned a television in 12 years. When I do encounter it, say, when on holiday or at a friend’s house, I’m appalled at the level of garbage that passes for culture and entertainment in the mainstream. I have no interest in pop music or in writing or commentating on it. I hue to the Bill Hicks line: you’re getting all confused, it’s a piece of shit, now walk away. I think it’s hilarious and a little tragic when supposedly ‘intelligent’ critics start taking crap like Drake or ASAP Rocky or Kanye West seriously. But then most critics are career critics, professional journalists, as Noteboom points out, so their whole reason for existence is to be someone who functions as a kind of barometer for the state of culture at large. They will write about anything because really their critiques are based around cultural or sociological or political themes and of course the more mainstream the music or art then the easier it is to hang grand statements on them that reflect on extra-musical concerns. This is also handy for writers who have no vocabulary or lack the imagination to talk about the actual music, the sonics, the quality of the sound. Which is why so much music journalism hangs on analysis of the lyrics. These guys are just out of college and they bring the same tool to writing about music as they did to analyzing fucking Rudyard Kipling in their English Lit class. 

I have no interest in cultural critique on that level. I write for the believers, the obsessives and the fanatics, the people who are looking for a new kind of kick, something real, committed, something still in love with the original revolutionary potential of rock music and free music and radical highly personal art, the kind of music and art and literature that can change your life forever. I don’t believe that stuff really has a chance in the mainstream anymore because of the absolute stranglehold that corporations have over the entertainment industry, more than ever, though the rot set in in the 1980s. The message now is all about reinforcing spirit-crushing mainstream consumer values, even when it is framed as ‘edgy’. But I don’t care. I fight for a space for the music and art that I love, that’s what VT was about and that’s what my ‘critical’ writing is about, I’m an evangelist, an enthusiast. 

With VT we made the decision only to stock things we like. End of story. Of course that caused a lot of animosity, especially with awful local musicians who really believed what they were doing was ‘underground’ or ‘experimental’ or ‘noise’ and that we therefore had a duty to boost it. My only duty is/was to boosting great one-off non-conformist art and music. So, of course, if we didn’t stock your cassettes or CD-Rs, it meant we didn’t like it, obviously, so people got annoyed, inevitably. Go build your own underground. 

I simply could not bring myself to sell or pretend to like something that I thought actually sucked. I couldn’t live with myself. That’s why I couldn’t run a ‘standard’ record shop or on-line retail thing where they just stock all the indie and underground and electronica or whatever releases that come out of all the usual distributors that week and glibly rave about them all. So, primarily, VT was a place where we could put forward our passions, create our own canon, and bring to attention new things that were exciting us. I’m glad you got such a good, powerful, positive feeling from reading the VT updates. It was a total celebration of weirdo culture. I worked hard to mint a spontaneous language and a way of writing about the music that was completely in tune with the experience of listening to it, that didn’t betray it by hoisting a whole buncha non-musical smarts on top of it. I wrote without any agenda except to attempt to match the experience of the music. I wanted my words to be as exciting and fun and radical and new and affirmative to read as the music was to listen to. I have had no training in writing or journalism, no schooling, all feel. I taught myself, through listening to music, through reading and through obsessive writing. Lester Bangs blew my mind when I was 17 and I have been writing almost every day since. I stay away from cultural theory, from Marxist critique, any of that stuff. I abhor any school or fixed approach that is not drawn from my own veins. I know writers who actually describe themselves as ‘Marxist critics’! My god, you are nothing but a cipher for someone else’s ideas. What happened to your balls and your heart and your brain, you moments of secret epiphany, your revelations that were beyond any formal explicatory model? You really have abdicated any responsibility for self-creation. I am of no school. My mantra: is. 

Of course my Wire work is different. I don’t pitch to write about things I don’t like. Why would I? I only pitch things I am falling in love with or excited about and wanna communicate that. Of course I am often commissioned to write about things that I end up not liking and in that case I have to be 100% honest but I approach everything without prejudice and with a completely open mind. I’m always up for being surprised and turned around. I have no problem tearing something to shreds if it comes up in front of me, in life and in writing, but it’s not something I go looking for. Still, watch your back. 

I have no idea how I have managed to make a lifetime career out of what is really just a passionate stance, I really don’t, it’s so unlikely. I have spent very short periods in my life attempting to write for mainstream newspapers, for NME and Melody Maker at IPC etc, where really there was no freedom to follow your own passions and no potential to write about anything that people weren’t already familiar with. I bailed every time, I was so unhappy. Professional journalism is hell on earth and a form of moral and creative servitude that I simply cannot put up with. I’m amazed and thankful to be where I am. Hopefully my novels have a similar enthused, affirmative quality to them. I’m not cynical. I’m always saying yes. 

You say you write for the believers, the obsessives and the fanatics. You could also say you write about the believers, the obsessives and the fanatics. Do you feel like, in the end, you don't write about music and that you actually write about people?

Well, I feel that in my Wire reviews and on VT I write about music, that’s a big thing for me, to capture the sonic aspect of it, to deal with how it sounds and reflect that in my prose. But, yes, I am fascinated with people, artists, for whom there is no separation between their art and their life. I think that’s the ultimate achievement and what fascinates me the most, one-offs, total artists, people like Derek Bailey and Peter Brotzmann, certainly, or like Steven Stapleton of Nurse With Wound, Sterling Smith also and writers, all the writers that I love like Malcolm Lowry and Blaise Cendrars and Pierre Reverdy and Charles Olson and Denton Welch and Kenneth Rexroth and Frater Achad and Alan Watts and Patrick Leigh Fermor and Sylvia Plath and Antonin Artaud and Henry Miller and Robert Aickman and Herman Melville and August Strindberg and Lester Bangs. And I’m very interested in how they lived their lives. 
My features, I would say, my big cover stories, certainly, have much more to do with bringing out what the person is like, of catching them in their own environment, getting a feel for the contours of their personality. That’s what interests me. I never have set questions and I very rarely do much preparation. I spend time with them and I have conversations. It’s always very informal. What interests me most in an interview, although again, I never think of myself as an ‘interviewer’ per se, is how the personality of the artist comes across beyond any straightforward presentation of historical or biographical information; the way they talk; strange things they say;’ their sense of humour; their madness; their combativeness; the way they use language. Above all, that’s what I try to capture and to get across, in overt and in more subtle ways, such as rhythm, pace, structure etc. I like it all to cohere, all to contribute to the overall impression with nothing superfluous, even if it might appear wildly tangential. Content dictates form. I’m comfortable with many different kinds of people, I can talk your ass off plus I have opinions coming out my wazoo, so all that helps. 

Visiting Steven Stapleton’s self-built goat farm/home/visionary environment in County Clare was a mind-blower for me, as was staying with Brotzmann at his home in Wuppertal for a while. I feel inspired by people who have created their own universe, who have managed to find a different way of existing than we are told is possible, who have somehow stepped off the edge of the map into the unknown territory of the heart itself, the core of their own being, and how it manifests itself in the world and their environment and their day to day life. That’s what was so fascinating about writing England’s Hidden Reverse, meeting so many eccentric people and also exhuming a history of people moving in the direction of their own passions and interests and secret obsessions, that’s the whole ‘reverse current’ that I talk about, people who refuse to go with the flow, to be caught up in society’s expectations, who dare to believe it is possible to exist outside of a nine to five job, who can turn their obsessions into their life. It is so important and these examples are more necessary than ever now that the whole world is threatening to become a monoculture run by banks and businessmen. I still think art and the example it can set and the inspiration it can provide is vital, it’s a source of strength. But often it looks to other people like you are going backwards, in reverse, if you fully embrace it and its possibilities and – ultimately – its sacrifices. I live my life the way I want to which has meant many sacrifices, all of which I am happy to make in order to live the life I want to live every day and not defer fulfilment to some fantasy future. I’ve pared my life down to my central passions. As I said, I don’t have a TV, don’t have a car, have very few day to day expenses, I try to grow a lot of our own food. And I get to write every day. You can step off the conveyor belt and follow your heart any time you want to. It’s only a lack of imagination that prevents you. And if you lack that, look to art for examples. But most people are too scared. What’s the worst thing that could happen if you started to follow your own inner dictates? You might die? Well, that is going to happen, so, with that out of the way, get on with it. 

It’s the brave ones that fascinate me, the extraordinary people, and you find them everywhere. I don’t dress or particularly look like someone who is into ‘underground music’. It’s important for me to be able to move between different cultures and mix with different types of people. If I had, say, a blue mohawk and a pierced nose and one of those big things in my ear lobe or long hair, tattoos and combat fatigues that would be a little more difficult, in that I would be trumpeting my membership of a certain sub-culture. I mean, I respect people with mohawks, if they still have them when they’re 50 – to quote Keiji Haino. And I always really respected the saxophonist Terry Edwards who got a tattoo that read ‘Individual’ right down his neck so that he could never compromise and end up working in a bank. Amazing! But that’s not for me. I prefer a degree of invisibility – which is one of the key magic powers for a reason – so that I can flit between different groups of people with ease. There are weirdos everywhere, I meet a lot through gardening and living in the hut that I have on the outskirts of Glasgow where I grow my own food and have a wood burning stove. There are many amazing people hidden away there, eccentrics, survivalists, hippies, sociopaths, gangsters, many with singular stories and amazing lives. None of them have any idea what my background is or what I do outside of when they see me. I love that, I cherish a degree of invisibility and anonymity. I’m lucky in that I live in Glasgow and there is no shortage of madness or weirdness or amazing characters and of course there is a love of language here which is a total inspiration for a writer and is a big part of what made me fall in love with language myself. My dad was an uneducated Irishman who had the most wonderful command of language that was completely untutored – he never went to school – and so was truly his own. I grew up in the east end of Glasgow, then as a young adult I lived in Airdrie, in Lanarkshire, and eventually moved back to the west end of Glasgow. These were key formative moments for me, all of them, and much of the inspiration for my novels has come from there. Indeed, my fiction writing is even more focussed on celebrating unique one-off characters, weirdos and eccentrics. The universe gets bigger and stranger and more magical the more you expose yourself to these types and my books, really, are memorials and thanks yous and uncoverings of precisely these sorts of people. I have a novel called Adieu To All Judges And Juries which is a fictional oral history of an underground music scene that never existed in Airdrie and environs in the 1980s. It’s all about what you are talking about. I live to memorialise people, times and places, even if they are phantoms or figments or ghosts. And I love to tell stories. 

If you move from non-fiction to fiction, don't you miss the dialogue? 

No, not at all, I have spent my whole life talking with artists and musicians; I have a lot stored up! 

Sometimes when I'm alone at night, I like to read out loud, fiction and non-fiction. Most of the time, I stop after a while because it doesn't seem to make much sense, but when I read your writing out loud, it always becomes so clear to me how your writing got a beat, a flow, how musical your writing actually is. I saw you playing live once, several years ago, with Tight Meat Duo in Brussels, with The Skaters. And after that concert I thought: Keenan his best writing swings more than his music. But to come to my question: should writing be music? 

Absolutely. I can’t stand an unmusical sentence, a paragraph that doesn’t flow or swing or have some kind of organic movement to it. I have a pet personal theory, maybe more a hunch or an indulgence, a working fiction, who knows, that it is possible to bring writing alive, to make of it some kind of life form or organism, should you capture the correct rhythms, the correct interlocking movements, the mutual strains and forces that would animate it. It’s an idea akin to the Jewish folkloric concept of the golem (I’m very interested in esoteric Judaism and Kabbalah) or the idea of Adam Kadmon as primordial man; a perfectly balanced tree. 
If you bring it to life like that, if you breathe into it – and this might be extrapolated from Olson, from my studies of him - the writing can go out and have its own life in the world and interact with other intelligences. My writing is focussed on facilitating the potential for, the possibility of, spontaneous life; towards movement and rhythm and intuitive form and my novels function biologically as well, I think so, at least that’s how they are keyed. This is an underlying theme of much of my recent writing, with chapters and paragraphs functioning as individual organs. Language is biological. 

I always read my writing aloud to myself once I am getting near the end of a draft or after a morning or afternoon of writing. If it doesn’t have that rhythm, then it goes or is altered, somehow. Of course, as Peter Brotzmann says, there are many ways to swing and the rhythm must be in keeping with the subject matter, the oddity of it, the specifics, so you gotta get deep and feel the embedded notion of time in the piece and then you gotta explicate that. Music and dance is great delight in time. Writing has a reputation for being more static, somehow, more fixed, but I would like to blur the lines between the two. Writing is – and as – physical process.

You often write about outsiders. Why is that, you think? Can I be a bit amateur psychological here and say: because, ultimately, you're the outsider yourself? 

Well, yes, of course. My earliest obsessions were things like science fiction (which I still love) and comics and horror and the supernatural and the unexplained and Forteana and astronomy. Real geek domains, classic outsider spheres. But it was always particularly the DIY self-actualising parts of these cultures that appealed to me the most, like when our local astronomy society, Astra, would print its own newsletters; I fell completely in love with these amateurish photocopied journals with stencilled graphics. Beautiful. That’s what led me to underground music, as I was starting to buy weird sci-fi and comics fanzines and then I discovered there was a similar DIY samizdat culture associated with music. I mean I read NME etc in the 1980s and of course I eventually went on to write for both NME and Melody Maker, both of which by that time, unfortunately, had become completely miserable places to be. But my heart was always with the fanzines and early on I got in touch with Lindsay Hutton who wrote one of the great garage/psych/rock zines to come out of Scotland – The Next Big Thing – and he sent me compilation tapes of garage punk etc and really indulged me and turned me on. I loved Lindsay’s aesthetic, his graphic style, the way he would handwrite the entire issue, the way the print smelled. I would send for zines that he mentioned or reviewed and soon I was getting lots of US and Euro zines, not just on music but like on horror movies and psychotronic flicks etc. I would go to London on holiday with my mum and I would wander around Portobello Road, picking up zines at Rough Trade, buying marijuana for the first time in the old underground toilets in Talbot Road, getting copies of things like Vague in weird head shops run by Rastafarians. It was a true education, a teenage dérive. And of course I published my own fanzine in the 80s, that was my first published music writing, and I wrote for a bunch of other ones too, there were quite a few fanzines coming out of Airdrie at the time, most of which I wrote for, which seems unbelievable now.
I mean, as a kid I was into heavy metal, that’s what all the sci-fi kids and astronomy buffs listened to, everything from Iron Maiden and Scorpions through Deep Purple, Demon, Rush etc. And of course the reason I was drawn to metal was at the time it was the heaviest, noisiest music you would encounter as a young kid in Glasgow or Airdrie but of course I then began hearing people using guitars in even more ferocious ways, that was my kick, and I got into The Ramones and Live Skull and things like that and from there into psychedelia and from there into free jazz and improvisation etc. I started playing some of my early discoveries to sci-fi pals and astronomy heads, thinking they would dig it, but they were just like, uh, this is weird. I didn’t get it. I thought we were looking for weird? I thought that was the point? It was doubly strange because I mean these guys all looked like the goddamn Ramones, albeit unwittingly, with tight Adidas t-shirts and bowl haircuts and leather jackets that were too small for them. 

I have been around many subcultures in my time, been a part of many weird groups and fringe enthusiasms but I have never stayed with any of them. I ‘m not a joiner and I’m no team player. I prefer my own company. I love to write because it is an essentially solitary and non-collaborative pursuit. I find common cause with aspects of so much fringe and outsider culture but never enough to wholeheartedly give myself to any one or exclusively identify myself even as an outsider. I have eccentric tastes but I’m not looking to be a part of anything, inside or out. My passion is for the one-offs, the examples of what’s possible, and my interests and values are completely non-mainstream. Somehow I have managed to create my own universe or at least the kind of world I like to inhabit. I’m into self-taught, untutored, raw, personal, compulsive, obsessive art that waits for no-one’s permission or understanding. That’s where I write from. And I’m an enthusiastic writer. That might be the closest I come to any kind of consistent identity. 

I'm married to an Austrian woman, which made me look at my own culture with a different view, through her eyes. You are married with a woman from US. Do you look at your own culture differently because of this? 

Yes, Heather Leigh has further enflamed my love of Glasgow and Scotland and small town Lanarkshire. She is a true Glaswegian and has been for many years now but it was great to see it all again from the outside with her and come to appreciate even more the wild energy and passion for language. We have walked all over Glasgow. We will often take trains out into the east end and walk all the way back home via various spontaneous detours or we will spend a day in a small town in Lanarkshire, walking around, taking photographs, having conversations, stopping in for a beer. We have a great time together. 

Of course, Heather Leigh also initiated me into life in the States, especially through regular visit to Houston, Texas, where her family lives. At first Houston seemed to me to be nothing but a mess of freeways, strip malls and suburbs but if you have the patience and the time to commit to fully uncovering it then there is a real underground there, an amazing folk art scene too and you soon realise why Houston has been home to so many great one-off artists like DJ Screw and Jandek. You can really disappear there and make your own art, in secret. I came to love Texas hip-hop. Still, being in the States only served to reinforce my understanding of myself as a European. That, ultimately, is the culture that I love. There’s only so much USA I can take. 

Interview made by Joeri Bruyninckx/2015
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Psychic Baos - Society’s Lien on Piece of Mind/Can’t Keep Us Down (2015) review

 Psychic Baos - Society’s Lien on Piece of Mind/Can’t Keep Us Down EP – 7” (Magnetic South Records, 2015)

I instantly fell in love with Psychic Baos when I first heard 2014’s Our Friends Call Us Horse and Magnetic South hooked me up a copy of their first cassette The Death Of Bob Plant.  Both releases are just absolutely killer and left me craving more.  I don’t toss around the lo-fi moniker much, as I think most people either don’t pull it off or are just trying way too hard. Psychic Baos on the otherhand are the kind of band that effortlessly defines the label in the best possible senses.  The warm attractive sound of their recordings welcomes you in from the moment you hit play or drop the needle until that last note of sweet psychedelia drips out of your speakers.  With their latest release, again for Magnetic South though this time on much deserved wax in the form of a seven-inch, Psychic Baos delivers a four track blow to the dome in the form of this year’s Society’s Lien on Piece of Mind/Can’t Keep Us Down EP.  Starting off with “Fluicide” Psychic Baos have the organs cranked up on this sucker and the shimmering guitars sit just below it, melting in and out of the mix with the tambourine and the taught, rhythmic tapping of the percussion.  If you can keep from bopping your head and tapping your toe to this one I’m not sure you like psych rock.  Delivered here in one of its purest forms, this is some gorgeously stripped down and melodious music.  The echoing glimmer of feedback that ends “Fluicide” leads directly into the second track “Poisoned Man”, which for whatever reason is just synonymous with Psychic Baos’ sound in my mind and clearly shows off their roots.  The music’s clearly extremely rooted in garage rock and filtered through the gaze of psych and Psychic Baos’ unique refinement process to create the final mind altering unction.  “Sudden Living” is probably my favorite track on the EP.  The dark ominous drone in the background of the music perfectly teams with the repetitive chanting vocal line to create a perfect storm.  The vocals reverberate and bounce down a hallway of organ grinder tunes and looped lines of dialog and feedback.  It’s a kind of timeless sounding song, owing as much to the hollow booming echo of 80’s music production as it does the down and dirty garage and psych rock of the late 60’s and early 70’s, although I’m still not quite sure how they pull it off so masterfully or make it seem so easy.  “Wallet is Dead” finishes off the small collection of songs perfectly, delivering a hefty dose of droning psychedelia, reverberating and bouncing throughout the entire song, along with the finely tuned garage rock sound that makes the music so accessible and Psychic Baos is quickly becoming synonymous with.  This has got a little something for the entire family in a small package and I’m beyond stoked not only to just get another Psychic Baos release, but to see them finally getting some wax out there as well.  I’ve still got my fingers crossed for a full-length LP from them sometime, and hopefully sometime soon.  That’s enough how wind out of me though!  Click on the link below and check out some music, make sure you buy an EP if you like what you hear and once you’re done join me in the collective call for Psychic Baos to get a LP out there, because this is one of the best singles you’ll pick up this year and it only begins to hint at what they might be capable of with forty-five minutes to play with…

Review made by Roman Rathert/2015
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Sunlight - “Creation of Sunlight” (1968) review

Sunlight - Creation Of Sunlight (Lion Productions, 1968/2005)

For many years, folks thought the name of this band was Creation Of Sunlight. But thanks to rock and roll sleuths, the truth finally came to light. Sorry, I can never resist a pun! In any case, Creation Of Sunlight, which was Sunlight’s only album, initially appeared on the Windi label in 1968 in a limited run of five hundred copies. Remarkably obscure, the album was bootlegged a couple of times, but this platter is the one to get. Aside from being a legitimate release, the sound quality is excellent, plus bonus tracks and liner notes are included.

Acid Mothers Temple and The Melting Paraiso U.F.O. - High on New Heaven, Live in New Haven (2015) review

Acid Mothers Temple and The Melting Paraiso U.F.O. – High on New Heaven, Live in New Haven (Safety Meeting Records, 2015)

The folks out at Safety Meeting Records have been busy brewing up something extra special in their sonic laboratory lately and the resulting live album is one of the sweetest I’ve heard in a long, long time!  There may never have been a more appropriate opening to an album than this: “It’s 4:20, so please to high on…”  They’re the only words that precede the insane blistering noise and psychedelic psychosis that is the opening track on Acid Mothers Temple and The Melting Paraiso U.F.O.’s new album Live In New Haven “Born Free Stone Free”.  I don’t speak a lick of Japanese, so I have no idea what the song’s about, but I do know that the bone crunching rhythm guitar, spiraling feedback and noisy spatial explosions amongst the airtight rhythm section of The Melting Paraiso U.F.O. builds to an absolute frenzy maybe three minutes into the song.  It then erupts into utterly mind blowing territory, serving up a heaping helping of destructive lead lines and solos interweaving, combining, separating, impacting and repeating - over and over again.  This is what psych rock is all about; balls out, dead ahead rock’n’roll that’d make your poppa proud; or at least my father would be.  Slowly throttling the song back and then propelling it into the concussive lead once more before then trundling back into the main rhythm at what seems like double time, is a hell of a way to build up some steam and it certainly serves to make room for the next brash beast of a song in the procession, “In Search Of Lost Divine Arc”.    Much more mellow and contemplative than its predecessor, “In Search Of Lost Divine Arc” sounds a lot like the name would imply.  Tentacles of hypnotic rhythmic soloing reach up from a maw of gathering darkness and a general sense of foreboding that’s beginning to condense, the vocals now a mere distant chant to some long forgotten gods, dissipating and evaporating into the ether.  Suddenly, the listener is transported from the friendly unassuming setting of the concert in New Haven, to a twisted labyrinth of unsettling, lurching rhythms that spasm and jerk in tormented bursts.  “In Search Of The Lost Divine” creeps up your back like the first rising vibes of an acid frenzy, uncontrollable and inescapable – it’s like some sort of unstoppable force of nature or something…  At nearly eighteen minutes long it almost seems inconceivable that “In Search Of The Lost Divine” isn’t the main focal point of Live In New Haven, the crucial juncture from which all other inlets of inspiration spring, but “Pink Lady Lemonade” (Part One and Two) is probably the heart and soul of the album honestly.  Both sprawling and enigmatic, “Pink Ldy Lemonade” begins innocuously enough, with a few minutes of soft jangling bass and guitar basically alone with no percussion and few other backing sounds.  What you can’t hear the first time you’re listening to the album is the slow burning energy and lithe rhythm that Acid Mothers Temple And The Melting Paraiso U.F.O. are cultivating.  After “In Search Of The Lost Divine” the opening to “Pink Lady Lemonade” is so raw it’s very nearly underwhelming in the beginning, but by the time the drums kick in about four minutes into “Pink Lady Lemonade” and it really starts to get some traction and move ahead, the song has already washed over you like a cleaning wave of psychedelic enlightenment.  The transcendent noise and clamor build to a crescendo of deceivingly powerful, slow and seemingly slightly heartbroken melodies, that stack on top of each other to create something new, unique and beautiful; something freeing and wonderful.  One of the most potent elements of psychedelic music, at least to me, is its ability to remove the mind from the corporeal body and allow it to traverse an endless plain of unending multiverses and never ending possibilities, unhindered by the physical realm and entering into the metaphysical.  But rarely is it so purely conjured up, or so deftly delivered with efficiency.  In fact, while listening to “Pink Lady Lemonade” it’s easy to understand how Acid Mothers Temple has lasted twenty years, the very occasion that marked the release of this material, which was recorded during the 420 holidaze celebrations of 2013.  And thank god this was recorded and released!  An album like Live In New Haven can’t be rehearsed or planned.  It can’t be written out or formulated, bottled or practiced.  It can only happen when the band open themselves up and allow the universe to speak through them with single minded purpose, operating as a singular unit to channel and deliver the messages of the universe as untouched as possible.  The shimmering peak of “Pink Lady Lemonade” is as near to a spiritual revelation through music as you’re likely to find; completely spectacular in its unfettered madness, seemingly pure and unspoiled.  By the time that the screeching sonic bursts that signify the break between Parts One and Two came along, I had completely lost myself in the music.  I felt adrift in space, floating in the endless space of the infinite, but somehow I knew I was still sitting on the couch in my living room, if I thought about it hard enough I could even see myself just sitting there.  Musical epiphanies, hallucinations and balls out psych, I’ll tell you what, this album’s one hell of a trip!  Thankfully the second half of “Pink Lady Lemonade” retains all of the hypnotizing vocal chanting and fuzzy mesmerizing guitar of the first, but kicks the energy level up another notch and rockets Acid Mothers Temple and The Melting Paraiso U.F.O. back into hyperdrive, now headed back to planet earth at a million miles an hour, tearing through the fiery blanket of the stratosphere and plummeting towards the terra firma.  The last four minutes of “Pink Lady Lemonade” might well be the heaviest thing on Live In New Haven, and that’s saying something.  They’re like four minutes of freefall, and you can almost taste your heart in your throat the whole time as you battle against mounting g-forces that threaten to implode your chest cavity and pop your lungs like water balloons!  Then, the tempo shifts down just ever so slightly as to allow Makoto Kawabata to truly shine through the seeming chaos.  There’s definitely a reason that he’s become known as one of the godfather’s of Japanese psychedelia, and this is prime proof right here.  The sheer number of different instruments, sounds, and elements that find their way into “Pink Lady Lemonade”, slowly unhinging its rhythm and melody bit by bit, piece by piece, are utterly gob stopping.  But even “Pink Lady Lemonade doesn’t last forever and eventually we come to “Cometary Orbital Drive”, which starts with some of the only audible speaking on the recording.  This serves as a good reminder that Live In New Haven isn’t some protracted studio experiment or anything, this is just a couple of guys on a stage with instruments, one the spot, right then and there, which is all too easy to forget while you’re listening to the album honestly.  The recording is so crisp, the performance so decisive and so well executed, that you have to keep reminding yourself this is a live album, or at least I do.  With “Cometary Orbital Drive” Acid Mothers Temple and The Melting Paraiso UFO immediately sink their teeth into a gnarly jam from the get go, a simplistic but tasty guitar riff leading the way for explorative space sounds and a confident striding bass rhythm that seems to be the real beating heart at the center of everything.  The slow shift up in time is almost imperceptible until you find yourself nearly levitating out of your seat with tension, hands tense and taught with white knuckles digging into the arm rest beside you.  “Cometary Orbital Drive” begins to invade your brain cavity as the song continues to gain momentum, building like a freight train snapped loose of its controls, rocketing towards some unknown destination an infinity away.  A clamoring wall of fuzz finally builds to a head like a great wave, and eventually breaks, receding back into the ocean of sound and prophesying the oncoming sensory onslaught which is the perfectly named final track on Live In New Haven, “Space Speed Suicide”.  The berserk energy comes to a head here on the final side of the final LP and honestly I don’t know how else you could have ended this album.  The psychotic fits of energy summoned up from the very gates of psychosis are repacked into something tangible, something almost understandable, into something most definitely audible if nothing else.  The howling rhythmic vocals tumble and spill over the wet, distorted guitar lines and hammering bass to join forces with the bone jarring drums, hopping like frogs in a dynamite pond now.  And just when you think things can’t get any harder, the band begins to push farther and farther, harder and harder, probing the abyss of madness for jewels of forgotten knowledge and splendor, ejecting the frantic energy from the song like a shell casing before it finally comes to a grinding halt with the ear piercing feedback of an abused guitar now abandoned and forgotten on an empty stage.  Some people hate live albums.  I’ve always loved them and Live In New Haven is one of those albums I can point to as a great example of why that is.  It allows the truest, deepest, and rawest intentions and components of a band to show through, completely unconstrained or tainted by anyone or anything else in the world.  And that’s not always such a good thing.  In this case though, it’s an amazing one.  I highly recommend scoring the triple-LP set, which is strictly limited to a one time pressing of only 400 copies.  There’s already been an edition of a 100 copies on color vinyl with wicked screen-printed covers that’s sold out, and from what I understand the black wax of Live In New Haven is disappearing at a pretty brisk pace as well.  Live In New Haven isn’t just an essential own for fans of Acid Mothers Temple, it’s in fact more likely a staple in just about any self-respecting contemporary psychedelic rock enthusiasts collection these days.  The shifting soundscapes of Live In New Haven make it an extremely versatile album, with blistering solos, leads and instrumental breaks this is a must have for fans of face melting madness like Earthless or Heavy Blanket, but the slow burning energy of other tracks makes it a must own for fans of more mellow instrumental stuff like GOAT as well.  This album deserves a spot on your record shelf, rest assured…  Check out the link below for some streaming music, and if you like what you hear check out the other link and make sure to cop yourself some of this sweet, sweet psychedelia before it’s all gone!

Review made by Roman Rathert/2015
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