Posts Tagged ‘Telephone Explosion’

Badge Époque Ensemble

It’s easy to try to lump Badge Époque Ensemble into a category of revivalists — bands intent on running an idea of psych-funk glory through analog tape with a superimposed veneer of ringwear on the cover. Yet, while the band might have a few hallmarks that fit that lazy categorization, they’re a much more mercurial band than any genre misconception can hold. The band’s debut played off of the library funk hangover that’s fed sample crates and rabid collectors for years. The album leaned into instrumental funk, lost in a cloud of smoke that seeped deep into the wire work of the musicians and their instruments. Their follow-up may still remain one of their best pieces — an EP that leaned further into their psychedelic impulses, with vocalist Dorothea Paas lending a ‘60s humidity that sticks to the soul. The bulk of the EP went deep into the band’s ability to get lost in heady Parliament breakdowns and cosmic groove and its as close as they’ve come to letting complete improvisation take over.

They bring all of their strengths to the table on their second full length for Telephone Explosion, leaning away a bit from the instrumental emphasis, anchoring the record around a collection of soul-burnt tracks that melt their edges just a bit, while still pushing towards a sound that’s classic but never safe. Paas returns for a duet with U.S. Girls’ Meg Remy on the album opener and it captures a bit of the rain-fogged charms of her feature from the EP. Canadian crooner James Baley pulls the band as close as they’ve ever come to modern R&B, and it’s actually folk songwriter and RSTB fave Jennifer Castle who anchors one of the album’s best tracks, “Just Space For Light.” She steps away from her folk fragility to deliver a track that’s misty and wistful but steely as anything in BEE’s catalog. With the band pulsating behind her it’s a clear highlight, doused in the icy flute of Alia O’Brien whose work often gives the record its gilded bridge between funk, soul and psychedelia.

Now, I’m always going to hope that the band goes further out, and I’m willing to bet when these tracks are on stage each and every one goes hard into its own particular ether. The instrumentals that remain fit the bill here nicely, recapturing a bit of the Library feel that lets the band straddle the past and present like breaks being formed in real time. Self Help is not as raw as the eponymous or interim EP, but it’s great to see the band experimenting with their different sides, even when those experiments take them towards more traditional waters. There’s a feeling that the band is still in the exciting, figuring things out phase and there’s still plenty of time for the epic double LP mind-bender to come. For now, there’s lots of well-crafted pockets to explore over and over on Self Help.



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Badge Époque Ensemble – “Unity (It’s Up To You)” featuring James Baley

New goodness today from the upcoming Badge Époque Ensemble and it tumbles further down the well of psych-soul that the band has been pumping the past few years. Slippery and hitting a note of ‘70s Stevie here, the band is scratching that itch for flute-dabbled, organ grooves. The band’s crushed velvet sound has long benefitted from a perfect pairing of guest singers and here they don’t slip. “Unity (It’s Up To You)” features Toronto singer James Baley, who has in a tangental move, popped up on the last U.S. Girls LP following his own Roads in 2017. Baley joins U.S. Girls’ Meg Remy, fellow Canadian Jennifer Castle, and and longtime collaborator Dorthea Paas as the voice of the new BEE on Self Help. The band further augments their Summer of ’74 vibes with a psychedelic claymation video, which seem to be making a nice comeback in 2020. The video comes courtesy of Alex Kingsmill of Beyond Wonderland Films. The new record lands on November 20th on the band’s home at Telephone Explosion.



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Dylan Sizemore on Bruce Haack – The Electric Lucifer

I’ve had the new Frankie and the Witch Fingers on the deck for a while now and it only gets better and deeper with each spin. The record is an interconnected odyssey of psychedelic excess that lifts the listener from this temporal plane and into a parallel dimension of glowing psychosis and psilocybin-induced evolution. The colors in the mind match the visual barrage of Will Sweeney’s saturated cover art and the band has never sounded hungry to cross the time-space rift than now. I snagged Witch Fingers’ driving force Dylan Sizemore to dig deep for a pick in the Hidden Gems series and he obliged with a psychedelic odyssey of his own. Check out Dylan’s take on Bruce Haack’s electronic epic The Electric Lucifer below.

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Badge Époque Ensemble – “Sing a Silent Gospel”

This week’s just packed with RSTB faves and news of another Badge Époque Ensemble LP is pretty high on the docket. The band’s debut was an undersung jazz-psych odyssey, but it was the last 12” that really caught hold and it was in no small part because of the contribution of vocals from Dorothea Paas, who returns here in a duet with U.S. Girls’ Meg Remy. The band retains their exploratory psychedelic jazz touches, letting poly-rhythmic percussion, cold-sweat organs, and a cool down of sax lead the way. Remy and Paas add a touch of ice water to the veins of the track with banter that’s feeling out the shape of the infinite. For some this might dip into the more ‘adult’-oriented, buttoned-down end of the ‘70s but that’s discounting the smolder that the band creates. Don’t let the smooth taste fool ya, BEE hits hard. This is no lite-jazz parlay, it’s a continuation of filtering deep between Herbie and Stevie and mapping out the outer edges of the soul while they’re at it. The stakes are a bit heavier that on their debut, but with the flute fluttering through the air, I’m down to embark on the journey. The record is out 11/20 on Telephone Explosion.



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Teenanger – “Touching Glass”

Toronto’s Teenanger land back at Telephone Explosion for a new single that’s spring-loaded with a vibrant snap and smoothed down with a quiet cool. “Touching Glass” knocks between its poles of jumpy, caffeinated rhythms and loping bass. They break up the calm with fuzz-eroded guitar blasts and ‘90s radio-ready vocals from bassist Melissa Ball. The song ties nicely with their polished approach from their eponymous 2017 album, seeming to ease into a less traditionally punk format — scraping from pop and post-punk without sounding like they’ve submitted to either totally. Instead the song’s a prime example of their knack for propulsive hooks and and subtle shading. The band’s upcoming LP Good Time is out October 2nd.





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Badge Époque Ensemble – “Zealous Child (ft Dorothea Paas)”

If you missed out on the entrancing last LP from Canadian psychedelic soul-funk unit Badge Époque Ensemble, its time to go back and course correct, but don’t let that stop you from moving forward as well. The band’s issuing a follow-up EP on December 6th and it continues their journey down narcotized rabbit holes slathered with slinking grooves and splashed with Parliament guitar flash and sultry flute. Opener “Zealous Child” acts as a sequel of sorts to their song “Undressed In Solitude,” the sole vocal track on their previous LP. This time they recruit Toronto singer Dorothea Paas on vocals and she gives the track an air of Broadcast with a heavier edge. The song winds through a dream-like headspace before exploding into its turbulent second half.

If the great, undersung psychedelic sojourn that is Lodge 49 survives to a third season (and I damn well hope it does) someone better give Tom Patterson BÉE’s number, as they fit the bill as much as The Soundcarriers or Beautify Junkyards have in the past. Both of those stand as apt comparisons’ to the Ensemble’s space-scraping psychedelic journey – seeking to siphon the past and funnel it to an alternate future that’s resplendent and lush. I recommend getting on board.



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Badge Époque Ensemble

Like fellow Canadian jazz-bent psych troupe The Cosmic Range, Badge Époque Ensemble also dovetails into the Venn diagram sweet-spot that snags members from the backup band for U.S. Girls — the engine that drove her electric last tour. Instead of delving into the quaalude-jazz quadrant that the Range does, however, Badge Époque Ensemble are seeking higher ground with respect to the psychedelic fringe of funk and the lysergic lilt of soul. The band’s stacked with talent, and taking the lead here from Maximillian “Slim Twig” Turnbull. He and the ensemble attempt to embrace the acid-funk backbeat that blew through Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse, meld that with the detritus Stevie left littered through the ‘70s, and melt it down in a mold made in the image of Alain Goraguer.

In fact the last one hits especially hard, while there are grooves — tons of grooves, in fact — the album swims through an abstract narrative that feels right at home with Goraguer’s masterpiece La Planete Sauvage. Their eponymous platter is swung through with flutes, hollowed-tree organ ambience, and the stomach-punch crunch of fuzz hungry guitars. When they light into the almost eleven-minute centerpiece “Undressed in Solitude,” everything within earshot melts to sweet creamery coolness — even the molecules in the air seem to move just a touch slower until the song finally evaporates on a cloud of steam.

As a genre exercise this would make a great anonymous entry to the library music archives of the ‘70s slotting alongside admitted influences like Daniela Casa, Alessandro Alessandroni, and Piero Umiliani. For the casual traveler, this might be a bit too heady, but for the funk freak already scratching through the psychedelic tributaries jutting out of the Library canon’s core, this is a perfect fit. Late nite vibes abound here. Dim the lights, light a candle, and let the polyester polyrhythms pour over you.

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Badge Époque Ensemble – “Undressed In Solitude”

Centering around the works of Maximillian “Twig” Turnbull (formerly Slim Twig), Alia O’Brien (Blood Ceremony) and a host of live players who’ve been backing U.S. Girls on the road over the past year, Canadian collective Badge Époque Ensemble creates a heady mix of jazz, psych, tropicalia and prog. The last U.S. Girl album was noted for its expansive sound and blistering live show, much of which is owed to the players here. Along with Twig, the band stretches out hitting the sweet spot of ‘70s soul-jazz under the sway of pharmaceuticals. On lead single “Undressed In Solitude” the band adds the vocals of James Baley to give the affair a midnight aura. The track stretches past the eleven-minute mark and fully embraces the boundless visions of Isaac Hayes’ unrestrained late ’60 / early ‘70s run. You just know this one is going to kill on stage. The record is out June 7th on Telephone Explosion.




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Deliluh – “Rabbit”

Toronto post-punks Deliluh scrape at the gritty end of the genre, rolling a dirge of noise into clattering instrumental jousts among the players. “Rabbit” pokes into the speakers slowly, crawling up the spine with patience and practice before the song lets loose a hunger for blood around the 2:30 mark. The group has a way with anxious energy, spooling those early inklings of dread around their sound until it pulls tight at the throat. Then, just at the right moment, the band uncoils its reserve of tension and the release is primal and pounding. They let the guitars howl at one another until all that’s left is a pool of sinew and skin and an air of electricity on the breeze. Its an incredibly cathartic track that gives a notion of what’s in store on their upcoming sophomore LP, Oath of Intent. The record is out May 3rd on Telephone Explosion.





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Laaraji & Lyghte – Celestial Realms

In the past few years Laraaji has gone from something of a tightly traded name among New Age heads, experimental aficionados and yoga practitioners to a roundly celebrated artist with a wealth of material seeping back out into the reissue world. With entries into RVNG’s FRKWYS series and a collaboration with Brian Eno and Bill Laswell, he’s not light on stature, but it seems the current hunger for respite has driven the master of the zither further out into the light. There are plenty of points of entry for the curious among a catalog that’s decades deep, and none are more appropriate than his 1986 album with longtime collaborator Jonathan Goodman, aka Lyghte.

The original version of Celestial Realms was released to tape by New Age label Spirit Music, and it gets an upgrade here via Telephone Explosion’s brand-new offshoot Morning Trip. The album is two side-long tracks that delve deep into meditative trance. Lyghte provides the hypnotic bedrock that pins this to the mind – wavering and low, like the slow lap of a river. He leaves the sparkle to his foil Laraaji, who dazzles atop the drones with his Zither, bells, and guitars that predict the coming of Sun Araw’s psychedelic wobble long at a time when Stallones was more into silly putty than psilocybin.

The album is perfect not only for fans of vintage drone or New Age, but for those captivated by the dropout knockouts of more recent times – Emeralds, Kevin Drumm, Stars of the Lid fan take note and listen deep. It’s a great inaugural release for the fledgling label and perks my interest to see when Morning Trip goes from here. Whether you’re already scooping up the new and old issues from this NY legend or just want to unwind, a copy of Celestial Realms might be just the trick to block out the constant clatter of 2019.



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