Posts Tagged ‘Lay Llamas’

Design Inspiration: Chris Reeder

There have been plenty of touchstone labels around here, but I’d wager to say that Rocket Recordings is up there in the top ten that get referenced on the site. Their take on psych and metal is always interesting and always quality, but aside from just digging up some of the best band, the label also embraces a spotless design aesthetic that I’ve always been attracted to. This comes largely in part from label heads Chris Reeder and John O’Carroll, who both contribute sleeves to their stable of releases. Design in psych and metal can either be transcendent (see Design Inspiration: Arik Roper) or drag the releases into parody. Reeder and O’Carroll fall squarely in the former camp, elevating their releases to art pieces visually as well as aurally.

Reeder and O’Carroll both agreed to contribute picks to Design Inspiration, but I’ll focus first on Chris Reeder. His sleeves have a clean design that’s crisp and classic at the same time, rendering them iconic each time. If you’re familiar with the output of Goat, GNOD, Lay Llamlas, Pigs x 7 and Hey Colossus, then you’ll have an idea of what I’m talking about. Chris dives into five of his all time favorites, but leaves the caveat: “It is really hard to pick only 5 sleeves as so many have meant so much over the years, but on the day I wrote this piece these are the 5 that I wanted to talk about.”

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RSTB Best of 2018

So, it seems that 2018 is finally coming to an end. It’s been a hell of a year by most standards, but musically its been damn entertaining. Perhaps its fair that there’s some bright spot in all the chaos. Not to diminish the chaos, but when the negativity is at an all-pervasive fever pitch, its feels good to have something to hold onto. I’ll choose to remember 2018 as a banner year for music and for the birth of my second daughter rather than the year that page refresh politics threatened to give me an ulcer any day. Below are my favorite albums of the year, taking care to highlight some that might otherwise get forgotten. They’re in (quasi) alphabetical order with no other particular weight on the list. Keep your eyes out for a few more year-end features this week before I reset for the new year. As always, thanks for sticking with RSTB for these 12-odd years or so.

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Lay Llamas

Heading into Nicola Giunta’s second outing for Rocket there’s a sense that the Italian artist has reached further and deeper than he has previously under the Lay Llamas moniker. Where his previous outing saw fit to ruminate in the Krautrock kiddie pool, Thuban embraces an immersive psychedelic experience, roping in African polyrhythms, snaking Thai funk, German Progressive sweat and late ‘90s UK psych-pop. The tapestry he weaves out of those pieces makes it clear that Giunta’s record shelf runs deep, and while emulating (and to some extent, yes, appropriating) these sounds can often place an artist on a precarious perch, Giunta layers his influences like samples, finding the common threads in his preferred sounds and tightening the seams until they fit snug.

Given his curatorial bent and label affiliation it should come as little surprise that there is a crossover kinship between Giunta and Goat. The bands met while playing shows together and hit it off well enough for Giunta to snag a vocal contribution from band members on “Altair,” a tack that can’t help but sound like Goat as a result. Though the album is largely Giunta’s own, having parted ways with Lay Llamas previous steady vocalist Gioele Valenti, there’s a collaborative air to the record that accentuates its patchwork quality. Aside from the aforementioned Goat drop in, Mark Stewart of The Pop Group and members of Clinic also find their way to the grooves of Thuban and Giunta makes the most of the input of his influences.

Unlike his Swedish counterparts who might take it a step too far in the cosplay department, trying on their inspirations in full regalia, Lay Llamas have created an album that’s obsessed with the cornucopia of sounds blooming from the subcontinent but crafting that interest into a collage rather than an homage. The record winds up dark and danceable, brooding, apocalyptic and shambolic. With Thuban the band has succeeded in marrying the deep crates of Andy Votel’s Finder’s Keepers label with the sound-sculpture progressive pop of The Beta Band. More than just a sum of its parts though, the record works these into a flow that’s cinematic in its approach, never sticking too hard on one particular facet of the sounds he’s clipping and arcing from pop sunrise to a danger-imbued sunset by the album’s close. Thuban elevates Lay Llamas beyond the ones to watch pile and into endless repeat bin for all time.



Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

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Lay Llamas – “Holy Worms / Silver Sun (Red Sun – Negra Branca Remix)”

On the first single from his global psychedelic stewpot of an album, “Silver Sun,” Nicola Giunta draped the German Progressive paradigm in shades of late ‘90s electronic psych, dredging up allusions to The Beta Band and Clinic. On the album’s second point of entry, “Holy Worms,” he embraces a multicultural funk that puts him in leagues with his labelmates in Goat, pinning a tangle of polyrhythms to a ‘70s afrofunk guitar line and a vocal workout that stretches through Talking Heads territory, but gets caught short in a haze of narcotic bliss.

This second single, in its most digital of forms, also happens to come with a standout flip side that digests the original version of “Silver Sun” and mangles it into a completely different animal. Remixed by Gnod’s Marlene Ribiero masquerading as Negra Branca, the “Red Sun Remix” shaves off Giunta’s psych-pop romp appeal and delves darker, amping up the rhythms until they pound at the eardrum. Ribiero also brings in a chorus of female vocals to replace Giunta’s originals. They breathe the mantra “Red Sun, Green Sun” in calming contrast to the panic attack psych bubbling throughout her version and it becomes an oracle of calm inside a virtual storm of a track.

She shaves down the acidic sax solo that adorned Lay Llamas original, saving only a few panicked bleats to whinny away over the chaotic atmosphere brewing below. The reconfiguration slides Giunta into a much more lysergic territory gnashing Krautrock’s teeth on a mash of dub and gospel with a free jazz storm threatening in the distance. Great remixes can often lay the original to waste, but here Negra Blanca simply prove that while the pop sheen adorning Lay Llamas new album is welcome, sometimes you gotta go deep into the cave to find the psychedelic heart.




Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

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