Posts Tagged ‘Rocket Recordings’

Djinn

Formed by members of Hills and Goat, and adopting the latter’s proclivity for obscuring identities, Djinn inhabits a style that’s no less psychedelic than its member’s usual haunts, but winds up more experimental than either. Djinn’s debut embraces the free jazz pyrotechnics of Albert Ayler and Don Cherry while also finding solace in the more meditative and serene end of the freeform universe – echoing the haunted ashram of Alice Coltrane and the metaphysical forces of Sun Ra. The band is named after mythical beings – not quite angels, not quite devils – but rather forces of mystery that confuse the senses and play upon the mystical nature of reality. This gives the spirits a bit more agency than their one-dimensional counterparts with qualities that can work towards evil or good. Its as apt a moniker as any for a band that’s cloaked in mystery and seeking to work through noise and nature alike.

The pair weaves through this blend of abrasion and bliss without finding the poles at odds with one another. They achieve a groove that approaches infectious on “My Bankaccount,” then burn down the buoyancy with the following five minutes of improv float and free-associated mumbling of “Rertrand Bussels.” If anything, that track name might be indicative of the only real downside here, the cheeky nature of the titles is sometimes distracting from the disquieting din. Then again, taking oneself too seriously has just the same off-putting effect, so why not slap “Djinn and Djuice” on the title of a song built on sax skronk, a menacing piano totter, and skittering percussion? The record works well in the abstract styles the band seeks to emulate, and while not necessarily coming close to the masters themselves, it serves as more than just mere distraction from the players’ full-time tenures. I’m hoping this isn’t just a passion piece one-off, because it feels like there’s more to grow on here. For now, fans of the freer end of the psychedelic spectra have something to dig into all the same.



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Josefin Öhrn + The Liberation

On their third album Josefin Öhrn + The Liberation embrace wider scope of psychedelia, pushing their lush sound into swirls of hypnotic repetition, languid guitar bliss, silken slow jams, lock-top blues grooves, and a psych-pop shimmer. Having relocated from Stockholm to London, Öhrn and her writing partner in the band Fredrik have teamed up with a cadre of locals to fill out the sound and the new direction is even more polished than their previous incarnation. There’s still a haze hanging over them, but now they’ve added a certain color-saturated oblivion that occasionally feels more comfortable on a towering club sound system than it would from the stage. While this tangent starts out with a pocket full of of Moon Duo, Spacemen 3 galactic dust, they push much further into festival fodder than occasionally benefits their sound. This shift is most readily apparent on “I Can Feel It” and “Desire,” which might have worked better as a 12” pairing, chafing slightly, but still manage to hang on without completely pushing the record off the rails.

Thankfully they pull back the throttle and suck a little serotonin out of the room for cuts that are more about floating in the ether than about transcendence through dance. The sustained tones and spiritual lilt to “Only Lovers” is right out of the Spiritualized playbook and Öhrn pulls off the J Spaceman gravitas with grace. They follow that with another groover that’s a touch more lysergic than your average big budget blues workout, finding room to choogle through the cosmos on “Baby Come On.” Öhrn’s ability to hang her voice on the air like cloud cover is one of her greatest assets and she drapes the dew over much of the second half of the album. She slides out of the euphoric mania of the beginning of the LP for an extended comedown that’s gorgeous, lush, and radiating a shimmer that’s become their signature sound.

All in, the record’s a nice progression from their early echoplex embryo, and it doesn’t let itself stagnate on a sound too long. While a bit of the pop impulses are interesting, too much looses her sense of bliss. When the band’s carving out decadent dreams made of sound, they’re unmatched as far as most of their psych-pop contemporaries are concerned. This feels like a watershed moment for the band before they carve over into the territory earmarked for the Tame Impala, Hookworms, or Temples. Feel free to get to know ‘em now.



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Centrum

Hooked into the drone consciousness of decades of Swedish psychedelia, avant-rock rumblings from across the Atlantic, and progressive nodes from the cosmic German gardens of the ‘70s, Centrum delivers their debut in thrall of the thrum. With members of Hills and Weary Nous in their ranks the duo starts with a solid pedigree. The pair turns För Meditation into an album of deep tissue drop-out that slots alongside contemporaries Myrrors as much as it hooks into the free-psych pastoral history of International Harvester or Träd, Gras och Stenar. Winky umlaut aside, the title’s not just for show here, this is some serious altered state psychedelia, built on a bedrock of harmonic rumble that the band uses to explore molten fuzz guitar runs, mystic organ rituals, and strings that run through Eastern waters.

There’s certainly a meditative state at work here, but the band doesn’t shy away from burning down their temples as well. Tracks saw into the psyche with an insistent OM, but blossom into doom-draped visions of slow-motion destruction by album’s end. The record is fittingly nestled among the lysergic legions of Rocket Recordings, contending nicely with their lineup of higher burning trip makers of late. För Meditation winds up more than its advertised price of inner peace and metronomic pulse, the album is a proper heir to the Swedish sects of psilocybin truth seekers and sweat lodge assassins.



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Paisiel

Released in short supply as a cassette on Portuguese label Lovers & Lollypops last year, Rocket Recordings is giving new life to the eponymous album by Paisiel, the duo of João Pais Filipe and Julius Gabriel. The album’s three tracks are dark sojourns through psychedelic jazz – wrestling with rhythms and running sax down the skin with the menace of a freshly sharpened knife. The pair coax one another constantly throughout the LP, challenging the other to make a step too far, to pierce the psychedelic barrier and scar the psyche beyond repair. On opener “Satellite” the drums pound in the brain with an anxious insistence – skittering in an endless tumult before the foreboding gnash of gongs makes it clear that something transcendental and otherworldly is afoot.

The space rock shivers continue to torment the onset of “Limousine in the Desert,” bandying echo and dust about in a sandstorm of sound that’s only hushed by a return to the polyrhythmic clatter of drums and the lonesome moan of the sax once again. Moans turn to squeals, squeals to squals as the band pounds out ritualistic furor that catches in the throat. The album is drenched in panic sweat, feeling every bit the soundtrack to imminent danger from all directions – the sky, the earth, the mind. There’s a feeling of ayahuasca and adrenaline in the veins and a teeth-clenched sudden realization that maybe there’s no danger at all. By that time the band rolls into the shortest and surest track in their album’s cycle. The panic calms, the dust clears and the earth crystalizes beneath the feet once again. They let the listener go with a grey trickle of rain that nourishes and numbs the psychic wounds inflicted over the past thirty minutes, but the scars remain.




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Josefin Ohrn + The Liberation – “Feel The Sun”

A new single seeps out today from Swedish psych slinkers Joesfin Öhrn + The Liberation. The second single off of her upcoming Sacred Dreams is a hazy bubbler, teeming with rhythmic burble, swirls of echo, and despite the title’s focus on the sun, a darkness that creeps up the spine. Öhrn has long been propping up the more shadowy and less showy end of the psych-pop spectrum, opting for humid atmospheres and an oil painted presence rather than the dayglo colors and high-octane moves of so many riding the psychedelic throttle through pop’s waters. The new record lands April 22nd on her usual stomping grounds at Rocket. Slip into this seether below.



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Centrum – “Stjärnor”

Great new track today from Centrum, the Swedish duo comprised of members of Hills and Weary Nous. The band’s ethos centers around meditation, and while “Stjärnor” does have a meditative thrum to it – built from sawing violins, organ drones and the slow amble of drums – the track doesn’t shy away from the psychedelic melt either. Much like contemporaries Myrrors, and by extension , Träd, Gras och Stenar and International Harvester, the band builds slow tsunamis of souund, with “Stjärnor” crawling towards the ignition of guitar that burns the track down by its close. The cheekily titled För Meditation is out April 19th on Rocket Recording.

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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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Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs

Newcastle’s Pigsx7 tear another hole in the fabric of reality with their sophomore LP for Rocket Recordings. The impossibly named band takes another swipe at their potent mix of Monster Magnet sludgelord psychosis bonded to the give no fucks, take no prisoners mentality of Motorhead. While that seems like a rather tall order to live up to, the band keeps pace here for six monstrous tracks that come on with the apocalyptic heat of a Mad Max location scouting. The songs on King of Cowards, based loosely on the idea of deadly sins and moral corruption, swing wild with a looser feel than those on their predecessor Feed The Rats. The band convened in the Italian countryside to commune with the dirt before laying down these tracks and the country air and lack of neighbors seems to have let them crank the throttle quite a bit and work out a sense of improvisation that licks the knife edge with a sense of danger.

The band brings ex-Gnod drummer Chris Morley into the fold this time around and his animalistic beat works to fuel the band’s appetite for action. While they keep those doom clouds rumblin’ they’re tethered much closer to to Terra Firma this time, scratching the pavement rather than rippling through the godheads themselves. Pigsx7 are still not ones for brevity, but they’re keeping it under the ten minute mark everytime, coming nowhere near Rats’ sidelong ozone-choker bookends. That sense of movement and change works well for the band. While they’re built for epics, its nice to see them tighten the belt on the record, no doubt saving some of the cosmos-scratching jams for the stage when they engage the longer numbers from KoC.

The relatively compact run times allow them to laser focus their brutality, hefting iron-ore riffs with ungodly strength and pummeling the listener until they wear away the rough ends into a numb shell. When Pigsx7 lay into your brain, they aim to knock at least a little something loose. Honestly, in this year, a little sonic lathe to tear off the top layer feels like a good idea. We’re all sinners in the Pigs’ eyes, and penance feels good.



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Goatman on Robert Fripp / Carlos Garnett

When Goat’s World Music found its way out I was immediately smitten, and certainly not alone it would seem. The album has marked many lists over the years and serves as the jumping off point for Goat’s dense catalog of borderless psychedelia. Now, with a solo album of Afro-funk rhythms and psych-folk freakouts of his own on the schedule I asked the band’s shrouded Goatman to weigh in on some overlooked fodder from the past. While the feature usually focuses on one album, there are, in fact, no rules to Hidden Gems. With that Goatman unearthed two gems from his past that he found intrinsically linked in space and time and by proximity of discovery. With that in mind he explores the impact of Robert Fripp’s League of Gentlemen and Carlos Garnett’s Black Love.

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