Posts Tagged ‘Prog’

Tarotplane

A split last year with Prana Crafter brought Baltimore’s Tarotplane further into the light, at least around here, but PJ Doresey’s been issuing deep-tissue cosmic platters for a couple of years on labels like Aguirre and Lullabies for Insomniacs. He debuts on hometown outpost VG+ with an LP split into two side-long excursions into the outer reaches of crystalline headspace. The Feedback Sutras was conceived mid-winter freeze and the isolation and cold feed into the windswept desolation that scars the album’s surface. There’s something both macrocosmic and microcosmic at work here. Dorsey’s voluminous riffs and synth burble tug at the tundra like an ice core drill down through a glacier. The album leeches out the gasses and grit of eons packed in cold compress, refracting light off the crystal structure to create an earthbound cosmos in compact.

The first side is tenuous and trembling, with a slight tinge of danger lurking beneath the surface. While the coldness is at its core, something in Dorsey’s delivery sidles his work up next to the underwater explorations of Sven Liabek or the watery prog of Dominique Guiot. Like those soundtracks to the deep, there’s something of a descent into the abyss to Tarotplane’s latest. There’s a weightlessness, but also a force pulling the suspended listener further into the depths of shadow and light that flicker through the liquid lines of his playing. The second side sets aside some of the wonder to let the feelings of danger grip tighter. Its hard to fight the pull downward to the frigid waters that grow ever darker, even as the lights of the first track dance in glances back to the surface above. Last year’s split positioned Dorsey to take a hight place on the list of cosmic players filling up the ranks, and with The Feedback Sutras he leaps ever higher. Isolation just got a new soundtrack. Not a minute too late, either.



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Tapiman – S/T

Always good to see some of the crucial reissues I picked up 15-20 years ago making a new round for those that still can’t find those originals anywhere below scandalous prices. This ’72 LP from Spanish trio Tapiman is one of those rediscoveries from the early ‘00s that still resonates today. Lit on the savage burn of guitar by Max Sunyer, the album trades heavy, powerful riffing (that woulda made the Sabbath crowd proud) with nimble prog touches pushing the album beyond mere proto metal curio. Pinned to a rhythm section that keeps Sunyer’s guitars from floating into the bilious clouds of smoke, the band’s songs were a masterclass in heavy-bottomed yet smart runs.

They fill the second half out with spaced organ and and a stab at Thin Lizzy frizzle meets post-Canturbury noodling from later period Soft Machine. As a whole, the record rounds itself out to embrace a wider palette than the average thunder cruncher from the time period. The band could embrace softness, power, and prog flights of fantasy. The Spanish scene often gets shorted at the time, but this along with Truck and Storm always feel like lost classics to me. Plus, that cover is a damned selling point if you ask me. The pink skull is definitely one of the reasons it founds its way into my hands in the first place. New issue has expanded liners and pics.



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Kedama – The Complete Collection

Castleface jumps into the reissue game with a damn treasure-trove of music from Swiss-German prog vets Kedama. They issue their ‘live in the studio” record, the aptly titled Live At Sunrise Studios alongside a wealth of material that never made it to wax. The debut was released in ’76, originally on the Sunrise label, which would notably release early recordings by Kleenex just a couple of years later. The debut was, rather admirably, recorded live in the studio with a binaural microphone and the band passed between different instruments in silence in an attempt to flesh out the record to a huge sound. The technique at the time was always a bit of a gimmick that only really takes shape in headphones (don’t tell Lou Reed), but having pulled it off as long takes its an impressive move.

The multi-movement “Finale” sees the band work their way from dense, smoke-thick riffs to concert-hall piano workouts. They find footing in the rhythm-heavy progressive textures that would befit their German roots coupled with a guitar flash and willingness to add technical piano in an era when most of their peers were leaning into early synth work (there are synths though as well). They up the stakes on this 3xLP set with the addition of live and studio tracks that fall outside of the previously released LP, stretching as far back as ’72 and into the end of ’76. The extra material, while naturally less cohesive than the Sunrise cuts, show a band with a head for experimentation that should light the coals of any fan of Tangerine Dream, Gong (or Steve Hillage’s solo work for that matter), and Manuel Göttsching happy. Nice set from Castle Face and hoping that this leads to some more from the deep record shelves of Dwyer.



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Dhidalah

Back in 2017 Tokyo power trio Dhidalah signed up with GuruGuru Brain and cut a crusher of an EP. Two sides, one song per side and each one a heavy amalgam of space rock and psych with some German Progressive overtones. It was a perfect little pocket universe that dangled the promise of more to come. The band and label seemed a perfect fit and it lit the fuse of expectation. Two years later, seemingly out of thin air the band touches down their debut LP with a whiff of ozone and engine oil. The record, like that EP is packed with lengthy cuts, fleshing this out to four heatseekers, besting the EP’s pervious two side-long kickers. The feelings remain the same from those early days with the air around the record is dense and acrid, swirling with noxious gases like something out of a mockup from ‘70s sci-fi pulp covers. The band eases into the scene with the cosmic creep of “Neuer Typ” before kicking the afterburners into high through the scorch-skidded “Adamski.”

They toggle back and forth between the creosote char of amplifier fry and the Zen of sensory deprivation hallucinations. While the heady excursions into the ether bring solace, their sunburn blasts are lethal and might just take the edge for the band’s more welcome face forward. Sons of Hawkwind that they are, though, there’s no constant crush. The band explodes into atomic particles and bounces signals between them in cooling winds before amazing strength once again. They’ve cracked the code on earthquake DNA and brought seismic rumble to each new terra firma they touch down upon. This kind of release snagging a late-November slot is exactly why the rush to year-end judgment should be avoided. You never know when an album’s going to shake the moorings this hard, and when it does, reverence is owed.




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The Hecks

Chicago art-punk experience The Hecks have been laying down a solid revue since 2012, stepping up to the long player party with their 2016 eponymous record for Trouble in Mind. While that was a solid shot at shoving pop on its ass, the band finds their full groove on this month’s My Star. Wedding the pocket pop reactions of new wave and post-punk to the prog that preceded it, the band invigorates the past by folding fractured glass sounds onto themselves – letting their torqued hooks repeat like Krautrock gone glycerin and snap steadily in plastic precision. They capture that moment when the collection of sounds seeping into post-punk felt fresh. The Hecks bend the freakishness and experimentation of the early ‘80s into a whirlwind of light and sound and we all come out better off for it.

Standouts like “Flash” stretch and contort their sound through cracked mirror caverns, taking the normal pop song into a headier direction. They’re quick to compact it back into a plush and prim box when needed, though. They run a Prince flexidisc through the hot n’ warbled presses on “So 4 Real,” going for full sweat cycle and making it sound easy. Like fellow Trouble albums Omni they know how powerful tone can be, and the band nails the core of their sound to guitars that oscillate from metallic to plasticine, keys that shimmer and shine like mall lights off of plexi displays and drums so crisp they threaten to shatter if pushed any further. The record walks the line of nostalgia forward – there’s so much familiar about what The Hecks are doing but it’s all been jumbled and shuffled to obscure their source material. It’s disorienting and thrilling, making for one of the year’s more compelling pop pieces.



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Je Suis France – “I’ve Got The Look”

Georgia’s Je Suis France have amassed a fairly admirable catalog over the past few decades, keeping their output locked in short format EPs, a handful of albums, and a split with Acid Mothers Temple along the way. They’ve cooked up a new LP and it sees the band refining and re-ingesting their sounds for a new age. On the album they utilize the same set of lyrics and drop them against vastly different backgrounds. “Looking For Someone Like Me” takes the punk palette, while “I’ve Got The Look” slows those lyrics down and covers them in a miasma of sound – German-gelled bass, squalls of sax, hazed keys. Side by side they’d barely register as cousins, let alone twins in different garb. “I’ve Got The Look” wins the day for me, locking into some of the signals that give the band legs on stage. The new LP Back To The Basics of Love is out November 5th from Ernest Jenning. Lock into “I’ve Got The Look” below.


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The Silence

Just a few months after his solid solo LP, Masaki Batoh is back on a progressive bent with his band The Silence. Metaphysical Feedback is the first record since the band’s 2016 LP Nine Suns, One Morning, an album that expanded their already dense prog/psych palette from their two albums previous. A frantic pace seemed to be the norm for The Silence in the past, with their first three albums all falling less than a year from each other’s release. A longer time to germinate gives Metaphysical Feedback a bit of distance from its predecessors. The cindered folk stance of Nowhere seeps into the corners of the album, perhaps playing to a bit of crossbred songwriting between the two, but as usual The Silence remains Batoh’s avenue to bite into the wires of ‘70s prog, free-jazz, psychedelia, and the further reaches of space while smashing the boundaries between all of them.

The bulk of Metaphysical Feedback does just that, where opener “Sarabande” filters in slow and serene before igniting the pool of gasoline that’s been collecting over its 8+ minutes on the way out, “Tautology” is a bop-fried scorcher on the constant edge of freakout territory, lacerated by sax and ozone crackle. They employ groove that pushes further toward funk and further from their German Progressive touches on “Okoku” and it fits perfectly into their mindset. A dark current of flute pushes from jazz to psych odyssey on several tracks, and the band often uses them a herald for sweeping sea change within a track – the darkly decadent “Yokushurui” being the prime example.

Post-Ghost, Batoh has proven that he can’t be penned in by expectations, and while his solo record might have returned to a few markers in his past, The Silence proves that he’s still pushing further towards the edges for his future. The band has quickly amassed a catalog of remarkable releases, but it quickly becomes clear that the extra time to develop their latest makes Metaphysical Feedback their fist truly essential release.



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Jonas Munk & Niklas Sørensen

Another sparkling gem out of the El Paraiso pocket here, this time from label co-head Jonas Munk along with Niklas Sørensen (Papir). Always Already Here locks into a Kosmiche wave and threads synth ripples through the swell. The pair head into the project with minimalism on the brain and they come out of it nicely unencumbered, building hypnotic patterns that play in the analog fizz. With a palette of synth and syncopated guitars, the duo submerge the listener into the light, dripping sounds from the surface and rendering any surrounding noise canceled with their startling calm.

There’s a deep dedication to the Göttsching school here, and the album brings to mind Inventions For Electric Guitar‘s lagurous beauty on more than one occasion, among some later nods towards Ashra’s more synth heavy trips. The album is a sonic cavern, a protective layer that spreads like gel around the brain as it unfolds. More than just hanging the listener into suspended animation, though, the pair strip away the weight of worry with each round of repetition and each opalescent splash of guitar. The record is a sonic scrub for the soul, allowing a disconnect from reality to recalibrate the brain and take a breath. If the world’s been getting to be too much and you’re in need of an aural vacation, then Munk and Sørensen have just the deep dive you’ve been looking for.




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Prana Crafter & Tarotplane

The run of great LPs from Beyond Beyond is Beyond doesn’t let up this month as we’re all treated to a new split from Prana Crafter and Baltimore psych unit Tarotplane. Each band is given a sidelong séance and they both use their groovespace wisely. Coming off the double diamond release of Bodhi Cheetahs’ Choice and Enter the Stream, Will Sol taps deep into the cosmic consciousness with “Jagged Mountain Melts at Dawn.” Moreso than ever, this vision of Prana Crafter owes a debt to the German Progressive and Swedish psychedelic scenes. The track picks at some Träd Gräs before tumbling through Ash Ra Temple touches and finally getting stuck in the web of sound that Achim Reichel wove under the banner of A.R. and Machines. Guitars echo and drip from the porcelain walls of Sol’s world with a disconcerting calm that slowly creeps up the legs like ice in the nerves. Its as expansive as he’s gone and its great to hear him spread out to such a large sonic canvas.

Likewise, the flip, featuring PJ Dorsey’s Tarotplane explores similarly Kosmiche terrain, divining mercurial guitar ripples that have traversed from the Atom Heart of the sun. “We Move Slowly Through the Past” slinks through the dreamtime on iridescent scales. The song unfolds slowly, building to a finish that strips away the calm, crashing with percussive touches and silver-flashed synths. Dorsey plays with echo in a similar manner as his compatriot, though his impulses tend to radiate more than drip. Both pieces inhabit the listener and grow outward until molecules loosen and the consciousness begins to touch the yawning of the ethers around. Any fans of Space Rock, Prog, and Psych-Folk oughta find a foothold in here. Double stunners from both artists and just one more reason you should be wading into the Beyond-verse.

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Nothing On Semble

Another low-profile stunner out of the Feeding Tube camp today, Nothing On Semble is largely the work of Curtis Godino, a member of fellow FT band Worthless. For his work in the “On Semble” he’s exploring a spacey prog that borders library soundtracks, borrows from Floyd-esque wide-eyed psychedelia, and feels wholly displaced from any current song cycles going in 2019. With mellotron upfront, forging the kaleidoscopic path, Godino’s songs riffle through the more outre edges of prog’s academic pomp. The balletic, delicate keys creep into most of his songs with a wary trepidation that begins to warp and bubble like oils over glass or sheets of tin wound and warped in the light. There’s wonder at the heart of his pieces, but in equal regard, a kind of horrific fascination with the macabre. This comes to the forefront most prominently during the sampled psychological examination that takes the forefront on “Careful With Those Keys,” but musically its in the DNA of all of the tracks.

The Library vibes take over fully by the time the listener is onto “Full Theme 1,” which sews baroque psych with a thread of funhouse delirium. It quite rightly sounds like its lost its way out of a Jean Rollin score and the feeling that there are sure to be naked vampires descending at any moment is hard to shake. The queasy unease on the album is battling against a somewhat ever-present campiness and the combination is delightfully disorienting. There’s been a revival of plenty of pockets of psychedelic sounds lo these past few years – from Jam’s resurrection to the instrumental prowess of Frank Matson, but Godino’s got a lock on the kind of off-kilter weirdness that feels like its about twenty years out from showing up as a reissue on Finders Keepers.

This one’s been issued digitally and on limited cassette (sadly no vinyl) and it’s a welcome addition to any collection of DMT-twisted psych classics out there. Recommended that you slide gently down whatever eiderdown Godino is leading us all towards.



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