Posts Tagged ‘Sunrise Ocean Bender’

Steve Palmer

Sunrise Ocean Bender doesn’t push product with the veracity that some labels seem to adopt these days, rolling out a few choice cuts over the last couple of years – Prana Crafter’s, Enter The Stream and Tengger’s Segye among them – but I’m a firm believer in quality over quantity. The label’s back into the fray this year with the sophomore release from Minneapolis’ Steve Palmer. As with labelmate Will Sol’s Prana Crafter works, Palmer seems adept at mixing the spirit of spare folk with elements of Kosmiche and psychedelia, creating a record that’s densely layered, but also built on a tenderness of touch. I’ve expressed admiration for starting a record off with a crusher in the past (see Axis: Sova) and Palmer does just that, thundering into the album with the cosmic crush of “Statesboro Day.”

As Useful Histories peers out of the clearing smoke from the opener, Palmer blends the barren landscapes of Steven R. Smith and Evan Caminiti with a crumbling sense of American Primitive. Palmer’s version isn’t built on the pristine waters of the plains, but on the ash and ache of our current political climate. There’s less hope to his songs, but it’s there between the cosmic aspirations of “Statesboro” and the ambient numbness of “I Am John Titor.” Palmer has a clear vision that spreads over the disparate, but complimentary impulses on this album and it crafts Useful Histories into a record that is patient and propulsive in equal measures. This record feels like the beginning of a conversation about Palmer that will last well into the coming decade.



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Prana Crafter’s Will Sol on Terry Riley, Don Cherry, Karl Berger ‎– Live In Köln 23.2.1975

Last year Prana Crafter’s Will Sol released two vital parch-folk LPs for Beyond Beyond is Beyond and Sunrise Ocean Bender, both showcasing his mossy, forest-folk prowess mixed with a tenancy to scratch that wooded habit with the key to the cosmos. He’s pushed the cosmic tendencies even further this year with a split with Tarotplane that uses one side of a 12” to wind his folk into kosmiche delights. It seemed only natural, then to ask Will to contribute a pick to the Hidden Gems series and see what’s driven his sound. Will’s picked a ’75 collaboration from Terry Riley and Don Cherry that picks at a peirod that pushed both artists catalogs to in new and interesting directions. Check out how this came into Will’s live and what impact it’s had on his music.

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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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Prana Crafter

Its already been a big year for Prana Crafter, with a stunning tape for Beyond Beyond is Beyond released around the first bend of 2018. Bhodi Cheetah’s Choice was draped in the hallmarks of great psych folk (think Relatively Clean Rivers recorded by Six Organs of Admittance), while pulling from the aesthetic traditions of masters like Amon Duul II and Trad Gras och Stenar. That release already made it into the top albums of the year when I ran down the first half tally, but its gonna have a hard time holding on as the Prana Crafter essential of ’18 with William Sol delivering a short-order follow up that cements his status as the new psych-folk class’ frontrunner. Enter The Stream hits just as hard as the tape that precedes it, digging deeper into the mossy wonderland of humid strums and heat warbled effects that drew me to Prana Crafter’s psychedelic vision. The LP seamlessly snakes between vocal and instrumental folk with an ear towards the grander scale, building a world over its forty-minute run.

The album, like some of the best of its genre(s) isn’t wholly interested in seeding your brain with standalone hooks. Instead the whole thing climbs in under the skin and takes root. There’s a darkness permeating Enter The Stream – quiet, lonesome, aching but never wholly consumed by the creeping dread. Its an album at one with the dark, thriving like mind-altering fungus on the dank corners the world forgot and reaching up towards the peeking light that filters down through the tree cover with a tentative curiosity. Sol knows his way around atmosphere and he wields it with the skill and scale of a cinematographer on the album.

He builds dread on tracks like “Mycorhizzal Brainstorm” then twists the knife on the ensuing “The Spell.” He balls up tension in the pit of the stomach on “Pillow Moss Absorption” then melts it all away with the orange-streaked closer “At The Dawn.” The album can’t be easily parsed, which I always find an endearing quality. Its not meant for part and parcel consumption, but rather it needs to be absorbed in full, preferably in low light with the weight of the day long behind the listener. If Sol was just teasing us with a release as high quality as Bhodi, then with Enter The Stream he proves that his legacy as a psychedelic force is well under way. This one’s an essential pickup for 2018 and only gets richer with each trip ‘round the table.




Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

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