Review + Q&A: SVIN- Introducing SVIN (2022, Tonzonen Records)

And now for something completely different. Take a look at the cover of this album and tell me what you think you might expect. I bet you’re wrong, as little will be able to prepare for the weird sonic palette of Introducing SVIN.

The three -mostly instrumental- Danes of SVIN take us on a trip through sci-fi cyberspace, with heavy Bladerunner synths, dark industrial drum beats, and otherworldly saxophone solos. Their robotic polyrhythmic approach distantly remind us of math metal heavyweights Meshuggah, but metal this is not, and the brooding heaviness comes more from the overall atmosphere then from any distorted guitars or screaming.

If anything at all, the use of synths and other computer generated sounds and the sheer massiveness of it reminds of the way Genghis Tron implemented it in their latest album Dream Weapon; another weirdo angle on the krautrock genre with an exciting result. Let’s call it avant garde then, or the soundtrack of our distant future dreams. Whatever we call it it doesn’t really matter. What counts is: you need this in your ears right now.

So let’s discover who these three Danes really are! Here’s the band with all the answers to our questions:

Hi SVIN! Can you introduce yourselves to the Weirdo Shrine audience?
We are SVIN, a Danish trio out of Copenhagen – Henrik, saxophone and keyboards, Lars, guitar and keyboards, Thomas, drums. We are on the threshold of releasing our seventh release, Introducing SVIN, which, as the previous albums did at their time, seeks out new sonic landscapes for us.

Before anything else, I was wondering HOW do you make your sound? It’s hard to tell from listening to the album, I do hear some traditional instruments, but there is a lot more going on, right?

The material for Introducing SVIN was basically very rough sketches, jammed out in rehearsal, to be turned upside down, jammed upon more, tried on other keyboards etc. and the entire studioproces was left open for waaaay longer, than we have done before.
Much of the sounds are based on guitar, sax, keys and drums, but there are several electronic and analogue effects added to a lot of the drums and bass-parts, which colours the album immensely – not to forget, the extensive dubbing process, involving foot stomping, slowed down cuban bata, trumpet, vocals and much more …We’ve also worked closely together with our producer Anders Bach in this process and his ideas and sounds also play a big role in the music on this album, as well as when we are playing live, where he often does the sound.

Can you tell me about your musical backgrounds?
We are all three involved in several other bands and projects, all of them (more or less) having improvisation as a carrying pillar – its easy to say “jazz”, when hearing relatively improvised, instrumental music, but the blend of our individual backgrounds include a lot more – early rock, African folklore, metal, Japanese court-music and so on …

Are there any bands or musicians that you look up to? 
We have endless lists of inspirations, and many albums we keep as sacred, but the term “looking up”, suggests pedestals and attempts to copy – that might prevent growth and stand in the way of impulsive ideas. In the tourbus you could hear anything from Gagaku, Scott Walker, sing-along to Cranberries (mostly Lars and Thomas), bebop, Cypress Hill and…

How is the scene in Copenhagen/Denmark? Are there a lot of facilities and venues for bands like yourselves? 

The scene in Denmark is generally open to new movements, with venues and festivals that manage to support it – there is a lot of footwork necessary when trying to enter, but persistence in attempts, paired with evolvement in the music will earn you spots and recognition. Denmark has a massive offer of concerts, so if anything, its a symptom of a large number of acts and artists, fighting for stagetime. Beatiful.

Can you tell me about the writing and recording process of the new album Introducing SVIN? Anything you did different from before or collaborations you did?

The adding of the vocal features, is another example of how this album differs from our older. ”Introducing SVIN” is much heavier on decisions made in the studio, than our previous albums – we had that proces somewhat planned, but due to the virus, the dubbing/mixingphase was stretched, and opened for more thoughtful dialogue about the final shape of the music. prior recordings of ours have all had more finished, live-tested tunes, whereas some of these tunes consisted of a sparse riff and an idea of “maybe something stupid, electronic danceable on top?!“. We took more time in the studio to play around with various midi-solutions to blend in old first-batch drum modules, keyboard sounds, even sampling some parts. Mare Eline and BISSE was left to their own wants and needs, with very few, if any, guidelines from us, and they ended up colouring the entire album, in very personal ways.

I really like the artwork! What can you tell me about it?
We were looking for something that would compliment the somewhat electronic vibe from the music, and at the same time, could stand on its own, as a visual piece of art.
Lars knew of Ana Vujovic from artwork she had done for another band, and her very first attempt was very much in line, with what we tried to describe – futuristic, glitchy, retro and coherent from front to back.

Was it hard to find a label for your music? And how did you end up with Dirk and Tonzonen?
Yes – it took a while and we’ve been trying for years to find someone who could get us distributed and out beyond Denmark. There are pros and cons, when releasing your own music which we have done with several albums. The con definitely is that you only have so much time and often for us, the international distribution gets neglected. Actually Tonzonen came up in a Google search on psychedelic music. We checked out the label and really like what we heard and the vibe of the label.

What are your immediate future plans?
performing “Elegi”, our latest release before this – a piece, written for a classical ensemble and SVIN at Copenhagen JazzFestival. The release show for “Introducing SVIN” at Copenhagen JazzFestival. Summer holidays, family hangout and hopefully shipping records en masse. In the fall we are working on a small European tour and gigs en Denmark as well. We also already have plans of recording our next album end of year!

What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do immediately after this interview?
Something that would be nice, helpful or beneficial for more, than just him- or herself ❤

Fabriccio de la Mora- Grand Unified Theories (2022, self-released)

I am late with this review. This album was already released in April this year and I did not have the time to write words about it. Do people ever have the time though? Or does time have us? And as we’re waxing philosophical anyways; does this music need to be put into words? Are you ever late writing words for music that does not really need words? And late in which time? Earth time? Space time? It’s all covered by Fabriccio De La Mora on his Grand Unified Theories, and it also is not, because this album is completely instrumental.

It is a Schrödinger’s Cat of an album that deals with physics through titles like Causal Fermion Systems, String Theory, and Loop Quantum Gravity, but not by writing intricate words, but by being inspired and writing intricate music about it. In my world of reading literature and listening to music and understanding absolutely nothing about quantum physics it is a beautiful and intriguing collection of instrumental kraut rock songs. It is kraut rock in the broadest sense; ranging from motorik stompers to spacey reverb noodlings and even Stooges-like garage rock with a shoegaze twist.

Every song has a certain lick or melody that is instantly recognizable which makes the album an extremely varied and comfortably listenable bunch of songs, especially considering it is instrumental. If you are even remotely into spacey kraut rock tunes it is highly recommended listening material, even if you are not Sheldon Cooper.

Grombira- Lunar Dunes (2022, Tonzonen Records)

My desert. My Arrakis. My Dune. Words from the latest movie adaptation of the sci-fi novel Dune by Frank Herbert shoot through my head while listening to Grombira’s new album Lunar Dunes. It makes sense, the album is called after desert dunes in space, and this time around they really make it sound like that. Space dunes, Dune. The soundtrack to wandering lost into the dangerous space desert sands while the great worm Shai Hulud listens to your every move, waiting to swallow you whole.

Lunar Dunes actually sounds like a lot more fun than that bleak fata morgana vision. Aside from the characteristic Orientalisms and spacey synths it mostly sounds like four guys had a lot of fun jamming and doing what they love best. They never minded about time, just letting things flow naturally and taking the jam as it appeared. Like a Djinn, like a desert mirage, but with more bass noodlings and galloping tabla drums. Grombira has always been about free form progressive kraut rock jams, and with Lunar Dunes they have really outdone themselves in the meanwhile sounding like no one else at this time.

Much more than on their previous outing Desert Warp they feel completely in synch with each other and more focused on their sound uniformity. They combine oriental instruments and use them to conjure up robot funk, space kraut, and Middle Eastern improv dance sessions. It’s great music to zone out to, but I can easily see the band perform to sweaty crowds doing all kinds of dances too. If any of this gets your kraut rock Spidey sense tickling, make sure to check out Lunar Dunes by Grombira.

Review + Q&A: Primordial Undermind- An Imaginal Abydos (2022 Sunrise Ocean Bender/Deep Water Acres)

In a smokey basement somewhere in the cosmopolitan city of Vienna, Austria, a foursome of humans are conducting a sonic experiment. They are finding out where exactly their combined sonic flow will take them, both musically and lyrically. While the guitars creep meanderingly and the drummer and bassist explore the space, a lone lyricist recites the words that could have only popped into existence on that exact moment in space and time…

Tensity beyond comprehension//I’d forgot my ticket//There creeps the primal fear// lost all concept of existence//Is this singularity?//Everything Is and I am everything, I am terrified but fear nothing…

The tension builds up and up and explodes in a crescendo of bursting energy, coming down and down, dissolving, and turning into the next song.

Things only bend until they break…

It’s this cycle that repeats seven times on An Imaginal Abydos, each resulting in seven completely different outcomes. Yet each filled with a certain similar tension, darkness, and urgency. Lyrics come and go, turning up only when they are summoned by the heavily fuzzed up guitars. Drums and bass fill in the blanks with a strong jazz feel, yet this is not that. It’s not jazz, and it is not experimental, it is four humans, listening closely to each other, and following the creative stream, from here to everywhere…

Illuminous echoes from within//tell a story of old//In voices too quiet to hear//Oh I wish it was real

Yet real it is, and ready for you to dig in. If you are truly an open minded worshipper of the Weirdo Shrine, An Imaginal Abydos will take you exactly where its makers want you to be.

Primordial Undermind

Eric Arn, an American expat in Austria, and guitarist/vocalist in Primordial Undermind was kind enough to shed some light on their work. Being quite overwhelmed with An Imaginal Abydos I was only too happy to be given some well needed context from its makers.

Firstly, can you introduce the band? I understand that it has been a coming and going of members and that that is a policy of yours, right? So who’s in the band right now, and are they the same people as on the album?
This little band of misfits has existed for over thirty years now, based in five different cities on two continents, and with yeah, somewhere around 45 people involved over that time.  Everyone involved has participated voluntarily as their life situations, and their own desire, interest and inspiration allowed, so things have naturally evolved. I can’t imagine how we could have come so far otherwise, and it keeps things fresh. The current lineup is the same as on the new album – Toni Rosa de Pauli on bass, Xavi Scholz on drums, and Chrisi Weikinger and myself providing guitar and vocals.

You are an American in Austria, right? Can you tell me about your journeys? How did you come to settle in Vienna? 
Well, for quite a long time academic scientific research was my ‘day job’, and for 20 years that life took me to universities and institutes in different cities around the US, then to Germany, and finally here to Vienna.  I stopped doing that 15 years ago, having finally come to the realization that there’s really not enough hours in a week to put into that and music and be true to both. It seems obvious now, but apparently I didn’t want to admit it for quite a while.  Since then, I’ve been working freelance with music always taking top priority, and life is much, much better. Something different every day.

What kind of life are you leading there? Are you a musician first and foremost, or do you have other occupations?
I guess I mostly answered that above. Since the music doesn’t generally cover all the bills (outside of when I’m touring), I also freelance doing teaching, translating, proofreading, and writing as needed.

How did you spend your time during the lockdown? What downsides and upsides did you experience?
The biggest downside (musically) was of course no chance to play concerts, which is definitely the main point of what we do. We played two shows in 2020, just one in 2021, and so far just two in 2022. Frustratingly few. Hopefully we’ll be doing more soon, depending on the old Covid.  The only upside I can see is that we had time to spend with the pile of hard drives, tapes, etc and work on recordings, so we did get the new PU album finished in 2020 and I’ve released a few solo and duo albums in the last two years as well.

You are an “experimental” artist, a lot of what you do won’t reach large audiences for being too far out of the realm of normalcy. How much of that is/was a conscious decision to you? And what constitutes “good” music to you?
We’ve never actually tried to be “experimental”, that’s just a label others put on our stuff after the fact. We just make music that we like, that excites us, flips our wigs, and that takes advantage of the strengths of the folks involved in it. When the reviews come in, then we find out that it’s experimental, weird, psychedelic, free, drone (not to mention folk, jazz, etc.) and so on. Since we’re all unique and I guess open-minded, somehow adventurous individuals, what we make ends up unique too.  Which I think is as it should be.  I’ve never understood the desire to create strictly within the confines of some already existing genre, or after the template of another group or artist. No time for nostalgia, let’s go somewhere new

One thing that really strikes me on An Imaginal Abydos are the lyrics. They seem to fit the music quite well in a way that they flow similarly. Where do they come from? 
There isn’t a single answer for that. Christoph wrote the lyrics for Makeshift Jury-rigged Assemblage, and he’s never really told us about his process.  I have noticed that for newer songs he starts out by just moaning along with the music as we play and finding a melody, then filling in more and more words over time as we work out the arrangements.  I wrote Until They Break a few years ago, based on a situation in my life that was quite intense and still fresh in my mind at that time. The words came very quickly in a flow, which tells me that my subconscious had been figuring them out for a while before sending them up.  We actually recorded Rekursiv without any vocals, but when we went in to record the other vocals, Christoph told us that he had a spoken word piece he wanted to add, the first one in the song.  I really liked all the cross-references in it to other songs and themes and ideas of ours.  I was inspired by his text to write the second one, which was developed by skimming through online databases of various psychedelic experiences, and grabbing words and phrases that stood out here and there. 

Can you tell me about the creation process of the album? How much for instance was improv and how much was rehearsed? How important were the recording circumstances?
The process was similar to what we’ve done in the past.  We’re always jamming, improvising, and working out new stuff in our practices. We went into the studio when we had enough finished material for at least half an album, and when those pieces were tracked, we used the rest of that weekend for improvising.  On the album we ended up using five of the more or less composed songs, and three improvised ones.  We also had another four songs from those sessions that ended up on a split tape with the Czech band Lebanon in 2020.  We recorded at Primitive Studios in Vienna, which is run by an old acquaintance who gave us a very nice rate for a full weekend.  That allowed us to set up on Friday and then have two full relaxed days of tracking, which definitely led to a conducive atmosphere.

What are you future plans with Primordial Undermind and as a person?
Play music and then play more music. Hopefully with this new album out on such distinguished labels as Sunrise Ocean Bender and Deep Water Acres, and with the attention it’s already been generating, we’ll be able to get back to booking some good gigs and tours again.  We’re excited to get back on the road as soon as it’s possible.  And we’re already ironing out enough new material for another album, so once those new songs gel a bit more, we’ll be back in the studio again.

What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do immediately after this interview?
Listen to An Imaginal Abydos, of course. If the reader doesn’t have it yet, then check out our video for Hermetic Armada on youtube.  And a few of the other songs form the album can already be found in various Mixcloud mixes around the web.After that, why not go for a swim

Interview with Galician psychedelic folk rock band Moura: When the ghosts of our ancestors are watching over us…

Of course I already spent some time with Galician psychfolk rockers Moura and their mesmerizing take on swirling 70s rock sung in their mother tongue, but I did feel that the rich and historical background they come from needed some more exploration. What makes Galicia stand out from the rest of the Spanish peninsula? Who were Moura influenced by musically? And what on earth are they singing about? Lead guitarist Hugo Santeiro was kind enough to assist me in answering these questions.

Hi Moura! How have you been the past pandemic years?
Hello there! We’ve been hiding, taking care of ourselves, working slowly on our latest album. Always living the present but thinking about future projects

How have you been keeping up both as people and as musicians?
We survived the best we could, without personal or work losses. Regarding Moura, we released the album just a few weeks after the pandemic hit our lives, so we were fully ready, with all instruments in the van, to go touring but everything stopped and we couldn’t play live anymore, like many other bands. Luckily, the album was a bestseller and managed to sell out the records with hardly playing live. Then, as a result of being confined at home for so long, many ideas came out and we started working on our second album.

Your new album Axexan, espreitan is out now, can you tell me about the difference in approach this time with regard to the previous S/T album?
I think there are mainly two clear differences between the two albums. This time, the songs are a bit shorter which allowed us to have more tracks. I mean, it is obviously an album of long songs inviting you to a non-stop journey. On the other hand, the new album is kind of conceptual, something which reflects on both music and lyrics.

I was told there are strong folk influences in your music, originating from your native Galicia in Spain? Can you explain how we can hear this and why this is important for Moura?
Historically, Galicia always had its on nationality, with its own language and a location which is geographically separated from the rest of Spain, but that’s a long story… but somehow this is implicit in our culture; and this is what we try to show everyone by singing in Galician and using an important number of traditional instrument from our homeland. We tried to mix it all with 70s rock music we grew up with.

What are the lyrics about globally?
The concept of the album revolves around the memories, the traditions, the spirits of those who are no longer here with us… Those memories remain hidden in a corner of our mind and emerge at certain moments of our lives. They “observe and watch over us” (Axexan, espreitan); getting us back to specific moments that seemed forgotten, making blurred the border between the world of the living and the dead ones.

What are some of your most important influences? And are there other “underground” Spanish acts you could recommend?

We all love King Crimson, the Canterbury scene, Kosmische musik, Fairport Convention, The Beatles, Pink Floyd… These are probably the biggest names, but we also listen to present bands such as Psicomagia, Cave, Dungen, Motorpsycho, Elephant9, Beak, Kikagaku Moyo… From Spain some of the artists I usually listen are Peña, Xosé Lois Romero & Aliboria, Za!, Atavismo, Acid Mess, Caldo, Rodrigo Cuevas

What are your personal musical backgrounds? And how did you end up forming a band like Moura?
We used to play in bands such as Lüger, Guerrera, Fogbound, Saharah, AliboriaMoura was formed bit by bit as we all knew each other from previous projects and I guess it was logical that we ended up working together on a new one. The band has gone through different members, rehearsal venues… it’s been a slow evolutionary process until what Moura is now in 2022, but it couldn’t be any other way, keeping in mind that we don’t know how to make 2-minute songs.

What is your long term ambition with Moura? And short term?
In short term we have several festivals in which we really want to play as Sonicblast in Portugal in where we’ll meet with many friends from other bands. In long term, the idea is to keep touring and taking our project to Europe and later on the US.

Is there anything you’d like to add?
Thank you very much for your time; we hope to see you at some point in one of our
concerts.

Moura, 2022

Review + Q&A: 23 And Beyond The Infinite- Lumen Del Mundo (2022, Dirty Beach/Stand Alone Complex Records)

Somewhere in a scorching desert outback three men in black walk the thin line between surf and postpunk. They smoke heavily and psychedelically, purple clouds permanently emanate from underneath their black rimmed cowboy hats. Among them they share a love for old bands like Joy Division, Dick Dale, and The Gun Club. And currently they are entranced by outfits like A Place To Bury Strangers, The Horrors, and King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard. Mostly they just want to rock out though, and they want their audience to dance like there’s no tomorrow.

Like their fellow Italian countrymen A/lpaca they know exactly how to make crowds sweat, and how to write the ear worm tunes that could potentially entrance the masses. Lumen Del Mundo is not easy listening though, and it is still rough and heavy enough to scare most dancing little girls back to their respective mamas. It is doubtful then that this album will bring 23 And Beyond The Infinite any popstar fame, but just might bring them to enough dark and smelly basements across Europe to achieve a steady underground status.

I for one can’t wait to join them in their dusty desert trip, as they surf the waves of sand from dystopian post punk bomb shelters to other borderline shady rock ’n roll communities where they will reap new souls for their quest of bringing their Lumen Del Mundo to the world…

I had to have a chat with drummer Gianluca from the band, we talked about pandemics, influences, and new hopes and dreams…

Hi guys, how is 23 And Beyond The Infinite doing? And how have you managed the
past few years?

Now we’re fine, we’re playing as much shows as we can. We released our previous
record during the pandemic and had to cancel a 15-shows European Tour and all
the upcoming dates and it’s been frustrating… But luckily things seems to be going
definitely better. We hope so.

Can you introduce the band? That band name definitely screams for an explanation :))
The band was born on May 23rd 2012 and that’s the reason for the number 23 in the
name. Beyond the Infinite because we don’t want to have any kind of limit and also
because it’s a nice quote from 2001: a Space Odyssey. We started as a 4-piece band
but now we’re the 3 of us. Our music is influenced by a lot of different things like
post-punk, shoegaze, psychedelia, surf rock and we never thought about playing a
specific music genre. We just meet and play as it comes.

Can you describe your hometown/regional scene in Italy? Are there many bands you
feel connected with?

Here in Italy, probably more than anywhere else, there’s a truly shitty mainstream
scene but also a lot of cool bands and artists moving in the underground and we
love this kind of a strong contrast. There are also many independent spaces, radios
and webzines and we hope we’ll be able to create a strong independent net in the
underground one day. In some ways we feel connected with many artists. Here are
some random names you should listen to: Forever Alien, Unruly Girls, Faintin’
Goats
, Clustersun, Hate Moss, God Of The Basement, Lame, Movie Star Junkies,
Maria Violenza, Iosonouncane, Violent Scenes, The Jackson Pollock.

What can you tell me about the making of Lumen Del Mundo? What was your goal at
the start, and how did the process go?

Lumen Del Mundo is our first record as a 3-piece band. It started as an experiment
but easily became our roughest work until now. We put a lot of energies in it and we
hope we’re also able to transfer them to the listeners. The composing process has
been very natural and the live recording and the post-production (made by a
magician called James Aparicio) truly emphasize our live impact and energy and
our natural way of playing this strange mix between post-punk, garage, shoegaze
and surf rock.

What other bands in the world do you feel a connection with? Are there certain bands or
types of music that all band members agree on?

Sure there are. Spacemen 3, The Black Angels or Messerchups for an example are
bands all of us have been listening to a lot and they probably influenced our way of
playing. But we all listen to a lot of different Italian and International stuff. Recently
we’ve often been listening to King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard while on tour,
they’re crazy.

There is a certain Western/surf vibe throughout the record that gives it a warm vibe,
even though it is quite a dark record at times too…can you explain where that comes from?

It’s not easy to explain it, but for us has been really easy to mix this deep dark post-
punk sacredness with some warm desert-surf-psych waves. We really didn’t think
about how the record should play before composing it, we just met and started
playing and we wrote all the songs in a few months. Lumen Del Mundo contains all these vibes and it’s kind of a sum of our art. We feel it like a strong ray of light
coming from the deep space to rip the darkness.

What can you tell me about your upcoming tour? Any other future plans?
We’re playing many shows around Italy during this Spring-Summer and we’re also
working hard to tour Europe again during next Autumn. Stay tuned, beautiful news
are coming soon.

What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do immediately after this interview?
Obviously he has to listen to our last album and then to all the other interesting
music that is coming around.

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