Posts Tagged ‘Prog’

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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Oh Sees

At this point in their career, nobody’s gonna tell Oh Sees not to be free. The band’s entering their fifteenth year, give or take (if you count the OCS material), and Dwyer and his consortium have been consistently building psychedelic pyres only to torch them each season. Not a band can yowl through an Echoplex without the “Oh Sees Sense” going off these days, yet somehow the band still manages to push their sound further from those initial seeds of garage with each record. This time the band delves further and deeper into the waters of prog than they ever have previously. Sure, there’s always been a touch of the exploratory crawl and plenty of psychedelic jetsom, but this time the band’s cradling their jams in a fog of organ ripple ripped right from Greg Lake’s cutting bin. They’re tossing in a space ooze that’s sliced clean out of the Miles/Ra/Cherry vein, letting drops of scattered noise sluice through the cracks of their shredded sensibilities.

Over the last few albums the band has embraced longer runtimes, but here they close out both LPs with crushers that push in excess of 14 and 20-minutes respectively. They don’t waste the space, either. Both tracks push Oh Sees out of their panicked pacings, layering in downtempo modes of Gong and Amon Düül II between the flashes of freaked-out guitar, punk sputter, and motorik pounce. It is, admittedly, a lot of album. The full runtime clocks in around an hour twenty, so this is more of an undertaking than a light listen, but Oh Sees embrace the journey, pushing the listener through chapters and changes – a prog mindset without necessarily ascribing an overarching theme. Sometimes the harder hitters pull away from the squirrelled weirdness. I’m always going to cue up a track that squirms or seethes like “Together Tomorrow,” or “Scutum & Scorpius” over the frantic fangs of “Heart Worm” but they make it all stitch together without missing a seam. Overall, another set of cavernous crawlers from Dwyer and co. that cement their status among the top-tier psychedelic pantheon.



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Ty Segall on Aphrodite’s Child – 666

As long as Hidden Gems has been a series, I’ve had a few folks on the shortlist for contributions. Pretty close to the top has always hovered Ty Segall, long a fixture here at RSTB, but also an understandably busy acquisition for the feature. As Ty’s latest, First Taste, approaches next month he’s found some time to think on a rare gem of psychedelic proportions while also giving a bit of insight into how it may have helped shape his new album’s sound. While First Taste might not reach double-fold prog lengths like Freedom’s Goblin its still mining an off-kilter pop sensibility, rooted in psych touches and prog embellishments. This time around the entire record is boiled down to sharp, punchy track lengths, a quality that also informs the third LP from Aphrodite’s Child. The band, and its harrowing, biblical epic 666, served as one of the first outlets for synth master Vangelis, but it’s equally a showcase for sharp-toothed soothsayer Demis Roussos. Though the band’s album spanned four sides of vinyl, they shook prog conventions by keeping the tracks rather tight, spurning the instinct towards improvisation, but not the instinct towards delightful excess. Check out how this album came into Ty’s life and the impact it’s had on his work.

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De Lorians – “Toumai”

Ah it seems the psych gods are smiling on this week. Japanese prog-jazz disruption unit De Lorians have a new gem out and its accompanied with a hell of a video. The band’s been touting their Zappa love, and that came crushing through on the first single, “A Ship of Mental Health,” but “Toumai” is a different animal. The 8+ minute crusher weaves and wobbles through psych and jazz, bumping into corners and melting through modes that are as indebted to the silken swing of Placebo’s 1973 as it is to The Soft Machine’s blow through Switzerland 74 a year later. The song’s only further enhanced by liquid mind meld paint splatters of the video. This is gonna be one of the essentials for 2019. Get in on the ground floor.



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