Dungen – Live

The live album occupies a lot of facets in a band’s catalog. If it rears its head, it can act as a placeholder, a preview of a new dawn and shift in direction, the requisite a cash grab or fundraiser, or a beacon of a band’s true place beyond the studio. For Dungen, in 2020, it seems to act as a beacon, but not of the band transforming their catalog by padding out or pushing the boundaries of their normal material, rather as a mercurial showcase for their musicianship beyond their established works. If Haxän proved anything, it’s that a band known for psychedelic prowess and studio savvy was also interested in expanding the horizons of genre by injecting an experimental spirit into their catalog that put aside notions of commercial draw . While this is not quite the seismic shift that led to a soundtrack for an obscure Russian silent film, it is imbued with the same experimental impulses. On Live they transform their acument into an album of whirlwind motion, psychic interplay, and virtuoso solos.

The record showcases the band over two nights in November 2015, at Stora Teatern in Gothenburg and Victoriateatern in Malmö. In addition to the consistently searing guitar work of Reine Fiske and the flute of Gustav Ejstes, the set features their Allas Sak collaborator Jonas Kullhammar laying down some fire on the sax. With a turbulent sea of rhythm behind them these three set loose a psychedelic dervish that’s spun sound into a dizzying conjunction of psychedelia, jazz, and acid rock. The band is at their peak on these recordings, not bound by notions of what Dungen has been defined by in the past, but building something that stands as a singular document of instrumental fortitude. It’s Dungen, in as much as the players are all there, but aside from lingering recurrent melodies from their past, this is a powerful document of players pushing themselves to redefine psychedelia in the live setting. This album, paired with the recent live album by Mythic Sunship from their Roskilde appearances sets a new bar for where the live record can reach. If there was a time that Dungen sparked a fire in your soul, then let this rekindle it yet again. The band’s never lost a step, but this some of the soundest evidence how exactly they’ve kept psych vital.



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Wasted Shirt

Adding to the ever-growing list of Segall collaborators, Brian Chippendale (Lightning Bolt) joins forces with Ty to form Wasted Shirt. Though there’s probably a bit more of the Bolt in the mix than anything that crops up close to the surface of Ty’s catalog, Fungus II proves to be a fruitful collaboration. Built on the frantic drum damage that’s marked LB’s path of destruction for so long, the pair tear through nine cuts of calamitous punk pounce that leaves the listener heaving on the floor by the time the needle bounces off the record. Volume swells as we, the listeners are led into the cavern of Echoplex punishment at the core of their sound. Guitars squelch and tones are squeezed within an inch of life, distorting the air around them and giving off a sickened glow.

The two personalities involved have left such an imprint on their respective catalog’s that its hard not to hear the halves pulling at one another – Segall reaching for squeamish pop and Chippendale looking to push the songs hard enough to make the bolts pop. That tension drives Fungus II and propels it along with a sickening glee. This is a psychedelic album given hardcore’s hammerlock impulses. It’s a blunt force given the keys to reality joyriding through rips in the wormhole. Its also the work of two artists clearly having fun with what they’re doing. Despite some of the seething anger and emotion at the heart of Wasted Shirt, the two sound like they’re having a hell of a time bringing this monster to life.



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RSTB Radio WGXC: March

The end of February into March saw a bounty of new music coming this way and the month doesn’t look bound to stop anytime soon. Check out the show from 3/10 that includes new cuts from Woods, RVG, The Men, King Tuff, Rose City Band, Terry, Odd Hope, Primo, Doug Tuttle and a whole bunch more RSTB Faves. Couple of old favorites in there and reissue goodness from Los Blops, Happy End and Danny Graham. I know I’m biased, but that’s a pretty good show right there. Stream or download the show over at WGXC.

::Playlist::

Los Blops – Los Momentos /// Woods – Where Do You Go When You Dream /// King Tuff – I’m Free /// Rose City Band – Only Lonely /// Happy End – Kakurenbo /// Flat Worms – Market Forces /// Lavender Flu – Barbarian Dust /// The Men – Children All Over The World /// Wayne Rogers – Compliments /// Huevos II – Alright /// The Stroppies – Holes in Everything /// The Tubs – I Don’t Know How It Works /// The Great Divides – Face The World, Again //// RVG – I Used To Love You /// Nude Beach – Love Can’t Wait /// Cool Ghouls – Queen Sophie /// Doug Tuttle – No No No No /// Stephen Malkmus – Xian Man /// Ezrat – Loud Sounds /// Pting – Naps /// Terry – Take The Cellpone /// Odd Hope – All The Things /// Danny Graham – We’ll Make A Deal (In Amsterdam) /// Dragoons – Collateral Damage /// Sunwatchers – Brave Rats – From new Amish Record EP – Brave Rats /// Lithics – Hands – New LP ///Weak Signal – Rolex /// Lewsberg – Cold Light of Day /// Primo! – Best and Fairest /// Mosses – T.V. Sun

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Mapache – “Read Between The Lines”

West Coast duo Mapache has been more than giving in the run up to their sophomore LP on Yep Roc, with a steady stream of videos pouring out. Each new clip is doused in the late summer sun and cooled by the salt-scrubbed breezes of a slower life. On “Read Between The Lines,” the band lays into a hammock of strum and harmony. The bulk of the album has been unfettered by extraneous production, choosing to focus instead on the pairs interplay and sanguine folk prowess. They don’t stray here, and the video continues a thread of day-in-the-life captures that seem to accompany the lead up to the album, showing the duo enjoying the carefree countenance that soaks into their songs. The record is out next week, and I couldn’t recommend it more.

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Pacific Range – “High Upon The Mountain”

West Coast psych searchers Pacific Range have been cooling themselves on the Cosmic Americana winds for a few years yet, but their first proper LP is just now landing at Curation Records. The band’s shared the title track to High Up On The Mountain today and its radiating with silver shivers of country psych bliss. The band is bred on a cocktail of Allman Brothers sunshower shakedowns, Mountain Bus low-gear choogle, shimmers of Help Yourself and, naturally, a requisite dose of The Dead in their veins. The band’s debut, wrapped in an eye-popping Brian Blomberth cover, features Duane Betts (son of Dicky), Sam & Clay from Mapache, and Jade Castrinos among others. “High Upon The Mountain” opens up the LP, and there aren’t many better introductions to the band’s canyon cradled brand of West Coast breeze than this right here. Built on a low-slung guitar line and sweetly stung harmonies, tuck into this one and get prepped for the LP on 3/27.



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One Eleven Heavy – “Hot Potato Soup (live at Jam Castle)”

There have been a rash of insanely good live recordings getting the official treatment lately (see also: Chris Forsyth, Garcia Peoples, Howling Rain, Walker/Gunn/Jewell), making it a bit of a renaissance for the ‘official’ bootleg. The latest to join the fray are RSTB faves One Eleven Heavy, who stunned over the past two years with back to back heavy hitters. Their ensuing US tour from last year was one not to be missed and anyone who was in the room could attest to the band’s ability to spin a jam out into cosmic heights on the stage. If you missed it, now you don’t have to imagine, or even take to the Archive(.org) for proof as the band’s set from Plymouth, WI house party hotspot Jam Castle.

The band wasn’t sure about what to expect from the invite-only private spot, but were pleasantly surprised at the “high-end, above-garage, home studio set-up with Rhodes piano and soundboard recording facilities, truck parked in the driveway giving away free hog roast, and a crowd of mellow suburban Wisconsinites” in attendance. Thankfully the spot also came equipped with recording capabilities and the set was laid down to tape. The band’s gnarled stretcher “Hot Potato Soup” gets some room to take root here, sprawling out to about nineteen minutes of cosmic interplay. It’s a definite highlight of the set, as it has been at most shows recently. The album is headed out May 1st on Phoenix label Was Ist Das? and its one you should grab and alternate in the ol’ Walkman with that Garcia Peeps tape that just landed.

Lucky you, the band’s also headed back out on the road for another short US stint, this time favoring the West Coast. Let this be an inspiration to get out and catch the show. Dates below and you can see video of the Jam Castle set here as well. If anyone in SF misses that date at The Chapel with Howlin’ Rain, I’ll by a plane ticket to come slap some sense into you myself.

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Kanaan

Good to see the fertile jam genes of Europe also embracing in the more improvisational side of psych, with Oslo’s Kanaan following up their 2018 debut with a live in the studio take that pushes them into freeform territory. With the label’s Jonas Munk behind the boards, the LP shows a more experimental side of the band. Kanaan holed up in Munk’s studio Odense (hence the title), and Munk joined in on guitar to take these four tracks beyond where the band had pushed prior. As with their debut Windborne, there’s a sense of unease and tension built into the bones of Kanaan’s sound, giving these tracks a sense of freedom but also a forboding wind at their backs. Opener “Seemingly Changeless Stars” builds slow and steady on riffs that threaten to break and cascading ripples of guitar that come straight from the Ripley Johnson school of liquid licks. The floodwaters break by the end and the band brings a wave of relief crashing down on listeners.

The addition of a second guitar suits the band, and Munk seats himself well into their sound, carving out delicate textures through the band’s monolithic rock structures. Over four tracks, the band cements their status as ones to watch on the psychedelic spectrum. The band’s debut was solid, but this moves them beyond echoing their influences and into etching a few new pages in the ledger of lysergic travelers. They strip away some of the tension by the time the second side rolls around and we’re treated to a mercurial melt on “Vacant Spaces,” slowly creeping to a growling close. The band doesn’t let the eleven-minute mark define the limits of their mind expansion, though. They tip into the fourteen + closer that also balances nimble fretwork and tempered chaos, exploding through the second half with a clear-cut fury. If you missed out on Windbourne pick up the story here, this feels like the moment that Kanaan begin.


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Tengger – “Achime”

The last LP from Tengger was a beacon of hope, a calm respite in troubled times, and as the band eases into the release of their follow-up, Nomad, they don’t falter as the deep breath on a cool morning we’d all like about now. Still rooted in shimmering tones, “Achime” also lets in a soft burble of rhythm to the mix, percolating with a cosmic ripple that drives the celestial tones and the vernal glow of life that’s woven into the vocals. The band accompanies the track with an equally gorgeous video, tying their sound to natural wonders as they have in the past. Nature and the splendor of Tengger always seem to be on parallel tracks and here they wet down our souls in the font of rebirth yet again. The LP lands June 7th on Beyond Beyond is Beyond.



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White Heaven – Out

I wrote about this one a little while back, but it bears another mention since this is the first time that this essential LP has been readily available. White Heaven’s proper debut may stand as one of the greatest psychedelic records of the ‘90s and argument goes to push it well up the all time list as well. The record brought together a formidable collection of musicians, lead by the talents of You Ishihara and Michio Kurihara. The former would go on to form The Stars and the latter would helm Ghost, but while they were together for a short time, they stood at the epicenter of a Japanese psychedelic bloom that can still be fell flowering today. Later, the band would bring Shimura Koji (Mainliner, Acid Mothers Temple) into the fold, but here, even though they were just beginning, their sound had already begun to form the exploratory blues pyrotechnics that cemented them as a primordial force in Japanese rock.

Prior to this album, the band released a live tape that documented their early shows, but the studio lit the light of some fertile collaborations. Kurihara’s guitars singe and demur over the course of the album, especially the epic centerpiece “Mandrax Town.” Following this album both Michio and drummer Ken Ishihara exited, but this was a document of the band at their most vital and elemental. The band would finally call it quits around the release of 1997’s Levitation and Kurihara would take Ghost on to be one of the premiere exports from the scene, but this moment of inception and incubation proves where much of his sound got its start. Black Editions has restored this LP to its proper position as a centerpiece in any psychedelic bin. Necessary by all measures.



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Ezrat – “Loud Sounds”

While they often bubbled under the surface, Brooklyn’s EZTV were a vital piece of the power-pop puzzle from the last few years. As the band’s mercurial sound began to change over the years they pulled in a soft lilt of country and folk that rounded their sound into something far more nuanced than genre tags can hope to evoke. Much like Canadian contemporary Michael Rault, they’d found a sound that was lush and luxuriant within the bounds of pop, and while it seems that EZTV as an entity have faded into the ether that informed them, their spirt lives on with Ezrat. Songwriter Ezra Tenenbaum has begun a new journey that’s gilded with many of the same charms as his previous band. Hung heavy with the dissolution of not only the band but many past relationships, the songs on Carousel were culled from a cache of 50 recordings Tenenbaum had saved up as home demos.

Ezra brought Kyle Forester (Woods, Crystal Stilts), John Andrews (Hand Habits, Cut Worms), and Michael Hesslein (Mail the Horse) along for the ride, fleshing out a bittersweet gem of an album at Figure 8 Studios in Brooklyn. On the first single, “Loud Sounds,” a knotted riff gives way to the sighs of strings (provided by Elena Moon Park & Kyla-Rose Smith) with Tenenbaum giving the track his usual rose-colored veneer – soft strums fading into the winds and melodies wrapping themselves around your own memories until they tug at the heartswell sweetness of melancholy days gone by. The record is out May 1st. Take a few spins ‘round with “Loud Sounds” below.



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