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Review + Q&A: The Far Sound – The Far Sound (2023, Centripetal Force)

“My friend, get on your horse. Where are we going? It does not matter, as long as we go far. Far away from the urban noise and the daily grind. Let’s see where the winds take us.” And off they went into the sunset, while The Far Sound‘s debut album played softly in the background, guiding the two adventurers on their journey without end.

Armed with his banjo and pedal steel Rick Pedrosa is the man in Portland you go to when you want that typical warm Western slow paced sound. You might have heard him with Abronia, or else with Federale, but he also does his own thing from time to time, and we as listeners should rejoice that he does.

This self-titled debut feels a bit similar to Can‘s Soundtracks compilation in that it never becomes quite clear what came first; the images or the music. Inevitably though the images will come to you, beckoned by the sleepy sounds of the pedal steel and the rippling coziness of the banjo. Pedrosa starts all his compositions with one of those instruments, and then colors the images with percussion and whatever else is necessary for the right feel and form.

Like a painter that creates studies on light and darkness, Pedrosa creates his own studies on captivation and sound depth. We as listener get to watch over his shoulder as he summons wide vistas and endless horseback journeys. It is a magnificent thing to behold.

Hi Rick! How are you doing? How was the pandemic experience for you?

Well currently I’m doing pretty good.  Playing a lot of music with a lot of different people which is always fun.  Always meeting new people and such.  The pandemic was quite the time.  At first seemed like a good break.  Abronia still met every week.  Virtually at first, then slowly in person.   That helped keep my sanity which started to deteriorate after a while.  Also gave me to time to dive into my own stuff.  That’s when I started recording this release.  Man what a joy when shows starting happening again!

Can you introduce yourself and your musical outlets?

Well my name is Enrique Pedrosa but I go by Rick.  I am originally from Maryland but lived in Portland for the past 13 years.  I started play music when I was 5.  I went from piano to sax then to guitar at 12 and have stuck with stringed instruments.  Studied guitar with a teacher then studied jazz in community college but dropped out.  Played in guitar in some bands but got a pedal steel when I was 21 and just really focused on that. After some years I started play steel in bands and have played in many bands since then in many different styles.

What is your musical background?

Kinda answered this in the last question.  Still play some guitar in bands really steel is my main deal.  Have played in everything from country to free improv.  I just like playing and I’m always down to play with friends and other nice people no matter the genre.

What does an average day in your life look like?

Right now I have my own small business.  I have a custom woodworking shop.  I make a lot of furniture and home wares but occasionally get to make some guitars or cabs.  I’m usually there during the day either working/dealing with small business stress but it gives me the freedom to take off kinda whenever for music stuff which was half the reason for trying to work for my self.

What is the best thing about The Far Sound?

I don’t really know the best thing is about this project.  To me it was pretty freeing to do everything myself and rely on my own influences to make something. I’m usually playing in bands or learning songs to sit in with someone, so it was cool just to layer sounds that I hearing. A nice change of pace for me.

What is the biggest difference between TFS and your other bands?

Creatively, TFS is solely just me. I play all the instruments, recorded, and mixed it.  My other projects are a mix of democratic Creative process that take time and playing/writing parts while recording.  I like all the ways to create and feel they all help make me a better musician. This project is nice because I can take my time or not. Just do things when I feel it.

Who are some of your contemporary heroes?

I mean there’s been so many bands and artists I’ve shared bills with that really have inspired me over the years. As far as heros or people who look to as kinda musical role models 2 people come to mind.  1st is Greg Leisz.  He is a LA session pedal steel player and has played with everybody.  I like his attitude towards music and his openess to playing any kind of music.  Not only that he’s a great player with an interesting approach.  He also is a humble guy and seems to move through his career with immense gratitude. 2nd I think is Danny Barnes. He’s an amazing banjo player and artist.  Again I’d admire his openess to playing music and just doing his thing and making work by working hard.  Also just seems like he has a good head on him.  I don’t listen to everything they play on but the stuff I like, I really like, and try to keep that same attitude of openess.

How do you compose and record songs?

So I’d say most of these songs started on the banjo. The ones without banjo started on the steel.  Usually starts with a couple lines, then I create a structure with other parts. After that comes percussion, bass, guitar. Then organ and steel is usually last.  There’s just a lot of trying stuff out.  See what gives me a good feeling. There’s some improv in then soloing and a lot in “Midnight Prarie Rust”.  That started out with all percussion and Bass.  Everything else is improv. There comes a point where I know it’s done. Nothing else will add to the overall vibe and vision.

What are your immediate future plans?

Well my immediate plans are finally releasing this tape then getting ready for the Abronia and Federale shows coming up.  Abronia has a tour coming up in July.  I’m also sitting in with handful of people playing steel around town and a Euro tour in November with a group but it hasn’t been announced yet.

What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do immediately after reading this interview?

I’d say take take a deep breath and relax if only for a minute.

Review + Q&A: 10-20 Project – Snakes Go Dark To Soak In The Sun (2023, Echodelick Records/We Here Now Records/Worst Bassist Records/The Weird Beard)

Music is a universal language, but to speak it anywhere universally is a different thing. For 10-20 Project to be a psychedelic jam unit in their country of Tunisia in Northern Africa is a complete world apart from any similar band in a regular city in Europe or North America. Even apart from the political turmoil in the country you can imagine this to be true.

For me music is just music most of the time, and especially these kind of instrumental jams. However, there is a completely different spirit haunting over 10-20 Project‘s sounds. More than anything I have heard this year so far this jam session called Snakes Go Dark To Soak In The Sun is a ritual celebration of pure unadulterated freedom. The use of saxophone and didgeridoo strengthens this ancient ritualistic feel, as if you were present at a wild shamanistic dance in the desert around a gigantic fire.

Playing the music they play does not feel like killing some time or shooting the shit, it feels like an act of rebellion, and a cry for freedom. Hell, even from my own Western safe haven I felt a bit more alive and free cranking Snakes Go Dark To Soak In The Sun at actual venue level volume through my speakers. Such is the power of imaginative improvisation, and 10-20 Project wield this power with expert skill and a deep, rich soul.

The sonic rebellion is here, joining is easy. Just find yourself a vinyl copy of this record, play it really loud, and sail freely through the endless desert.

I reached out to the band through the the boundless channels of the interweb and found 10-20 Project at their home in Monastir, a city on the central coast of Tunisia. I taked to bass player Dhia Eddine Mejrissi and he introduced me to the rest of the band consisting of Marwen Lazaar (Guitar), and Ismail Bnouni (Drums). Together they are “sonic rebels”, and if you want to know what that means I happily invite you to read on, my dear reader…

How are you? How has the pandemic period been for 10-20 Project? 

Hello, and Thanks for asking. We’re doing fine. I think the pandemic was manageable, we succeeded to survive. How does it affect the band ? For Rock music in Tunisia, with or without the pandemic, it’s nearly the same situation. 

Can you introduce yourself, how did you meet, etc? 

Well.. where to begin ? we are instrumental, DIY, free-form band that plays heavy psychedelic sounds. We change musicians so often.. But due to the fact that marwen and I are the core members, we take control about everything, the style has not changed, but the sound and emotions always depends on the musicians who are involved in recording or live concerts. Our Current line-up is : Marwen (Guitar), Ismail (Drums) and I, Dhia (Bass).

How did we met ? Since we live in Monastir, a small Town in in the central coast of Tunisia, everybody knows each other. We started playing together in 2009, in different bands and line-ups. 10-20 Project is a continuation of all this musical dynamics in 2018. We didn’t really start it with any ambition in mind, or… there was no plan. We wanted to do something different. To create something out of our confort zone when we came to a conclusion that structured songs are restricting and that’s just not how we like to play. 10-20 was born as a meme, all revolve aroud the way we perceive freedom, out of all kind of concepts, ideologies and constructive narratives . Just living the present and playing music the best way it reflects us instantly ,  we worship human imperfection and we FREAK OUT !! .. We have never been ones to abide by conventional styles or certain artistic norms.. we love to act like « Sonic Rebels »

What can you tell me about your musical backgrounds?

We are in the middle of our 30s now, so a lot of music… As teens we were lucky to witness the best era of Tunisian independant underground music in the 2000s.  Bands tried out all sorts of musical genres, moving the boundaries of what is considered underground, the frequency of concerts was acceptable. The scene was so real, resilient and decentralized. You know .. The notion of underground music is really diffrent in Third world countries ..
Marwen played in a heavy Metal band called Passchendael. I joined him at 2009, in a cover band called Stone Age, we tried a lot of Hendrix, Rory Gallagher. I think that era really shaped our musical growth. In 2013 we started another band Green Bottles Blues and we began experimenting with our own primitive sounds and recording it. Generally, our taste is eclectic. We share a lot in common regarding our musical taste, even I’m softer than marwen (laughs). It saved us a lot of grief in 10-20, all music is made by consensus. Maybe a lot of Blues/psychedelic rock from the ’60s and ’70s in our bags. In my opinion, there’s a lot of freedom and originality to the music that bands from these genres show us and no one does it quite like they do. The sounds and the ferocity they express have such a strong impact.

What does a regular day in your lives look like?

In Tunisia, no regular days. We have to improvise. 

What is the best thing about the new album?

Ammm.. The way it was done.

We came out from the lockdown with kind of sounds resonating in our mind like Snakes , it’s hard to explain it.. We just decided to play it and Sailing Stones asked us to film it We combined their visual background with our sonic know-how. 

 As a band we tried to give a psychedelic model of how things could be done collectively and independently from ashes, we gave all people involved a free space to contribute in our music the way they feel it. It was strange. It was an odd process, but at the same time, it was really creative. And I feel like it kept us a band, as a reference of what we can do and what we have to change…

So, It was an honest recording for us, It’s just kind of like… whatever happened. It was important to make like, not super cleaned up. It was really fast to put together. Do a quick mix, master. And it was done live..

Where do you live and how does it affect your music?

Well a lot of things have to be said here (laughs).

 Honestly, if we talk about the Rock music scene, it is now in clinical coma, it is practically non-existent. 

Last decade, it was an era of social and political instability. We witnessed how all kind of ideologies and constructive narratives turned into its opposite, producing violence, Frustrations, insecrurity, angst about the futur, dividing people and turning them into isolation. It’s deadly environment for co-operating things like rock music, and the scene has simply collapsed .. 

The lack of ressources too, has turned the scene into more cost effective solo projects and the underground music is more depending on Authority and Europeans Funds depriving it from an important amount of freedom, shaping how the music must be created.

 We’ve been upset about this situation, maybe accidentally we turned all these limitations into our own favors , into primitive sounds, loud music and manipulating feedbacks.. it’s like turning Hendrix into our own reality and environment. All these emotions are melt in our music. I don’t know, maybe a kind of nostalgia, not nostalgia for a past that was missing, but a nostalgia for the present, a nostalgia for there to be link to the past once again. 

We are stubborn, we’re doing things from ashes by our own terms and we hope we’re doing it well.

Who are some contemporary musical heroes of yours?

Hard question .. still active ? Earthless, Earth, Colour HazeSula Bassana (all the stuff), sharing music moments with him on stage was one of our best memories. Temple Fang was one of our best discoveries in 2022. Maybe something related to Tunisia, Pärson Sound, From Tunis to India in Full moon.

Can you tell me about how you went about composing and recording songs?

How we compose ? It’s all about emotions and flow. We’re not story tellers, we play above our heads.. Mostly it just one take and done. We just choose a key and we go through it, I keep the time and mark changes in modal themes for the fuzzy guitar of Marwen. And we feed off of eye contact in a certain way… kind of vintage psychedelia.. we have our tricks..
For recording.. old cheap gears, a mixing console, simple daw, with some eq, compressor, low cut etc… the usual stuff. 

What are your immediate and long term future plans?

We live day by day, We don’t have future plan. We’re excited about our first Vinyl and we’re happy our music has found its way into a bigger psychedelic family

What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do after reading this interview? 

To Take it easy but take it.

Review + Q&A: The Immortal Samsara Travellers – Hanging Gardens In The Glacial Apocha (2023, Utech Records)

Have you ever heard of a meditation session gone bad? Like when you’re deeply focussing on your concentration and finally finding your true inner voice, but that voice suddenly turns ugly and starts to growl at you…? That happened to me when listening to Hanging Gardens In Glacial Apocha by The Immortal Samsara Travellers.

It is a deeply meditative and serene album, but one with a dark evil lurking somewhere in the abyss below. Its summoners Robert Halloran (guitars) and Stanley Christiaensen (everything else) have created a spiritual being that beckons the listener to sleep, only to creep up at you in your dreams and whisper opaque nightmares in our ears.

The album consists of four parts, each with their own mood and atmosphere. In its creepy manic way, it reminded me of the blackened drone amalgamation of Horseback at its most Gorgon Tongue dronish. It is music to zone out to, but keep one watchful eye open at all time.

The beautiful imaginative art by Hervé Scott Flament is what drew me towards The Immortal Samsara Travellers, the hypnotic drones were what made me stay, the demons in the dark are the ones that will never make me leave again…

Curious to find out what kind of dark magicians were behind the meditative drones of The Immortal Samsara Travellers, I came into contact with Belgian sound experimentalist Stanley Christiaensen, who in his turn also introduced me to electric (bass-)guitarist Robert Halloran. This is their story…

How are you, and how is Robert? How has the pandemic period been for both of you?

We are both in a good place now, creatively and living wise. Financial insecurity was something we both struggled with throughout the pandemic and chances to play live were ofcourse non existent but that is now slowly starting to happen again, which is exciting. I am quite an introverted person so I spent most of the pandemic like I normally would. At home, obsessing over music, film, art and trying to discover obscure gems in history and current time. It gave me the chance to dig deeper into more unconventional ways to make music like odd time, microtonality and trying to grasp music theory from other cultures and parts of the world like Gamelan, ancient greek music, and ofcourse Indian classical. And studying western composers like Stravinsky and Bach to really try and grasp what made them so unique. So I tried to make the most of the pandemic.

Can you introduce yourself and Robert Halloran and the musical projects you are involved in?

I am Stanley Christiaensen. I currently have the following projects:  Folk, baroque pop solo with Boy Minos, of which the debut EP is in the works. Ambient electronic solo with Polymelia. I am also now starting a new Doom metal band simply called GREEN, after the Green Matamp amplifiers which I love. Rob has a hardcore punk band called Disinfo and he ofcourse represents the modern drone guitar with his aptly titled project Amps.

Robert Halloran (AMPS)

What can you tell me about your musical backgrounds?

I have been self taught all my life. Playing on instinct and feel. It’s only recently that I started to really get interested in hardcore music theory with listening to artists like Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever, the afformentioned Bach and Indian virtuosos like Nikhil Banerjee. So now I am really disciplined to become a truly skilled musician. And I have played in many bands, mostly as the drummer, so I am actually a drummer at heart. It was my first instrument that I got for christmas when I was nine years old.

What does a regular day in your lives look like?

I am fulltime musician so, no day is the same but when I am at home, I wake up around 10 in the morning, drink coffee, as I do everyday, check my emails and go straight to practicing guitar and Sitar for a couple of hours, whether I feel like it or not. Then I drink more coffee and check if there are any obligations such as sending out packages of merch or answering emails and now a lot of my time is spent conceptualizing and working on the blueprint for the next record. I prefer to be in nature most of the times, luckily there are quite a few parks near where I live so to clear my head and connect with nature I take a walk there. I also like to visit new natural locations as much as I can. Rob’s days now are also focused on really honing his craft for the follow up release. He is also busy with his other band Disinfo ofcourse, as the drummer,  they have shows quite consistently so that takes up a lot of his time.

What is the best thing about Hanging Gardens?

That it was finished! Haha. We spent almost three years on this album to realize it. It took so many shifts, changes and turns. Articulating the vision was very difficult. And for me, the fact that is a completely free piece of work with no restrictions, no rules, no attempts at commercial appeal is very liberating. But I believe we were still able to make something that can connect on a deep level with people. And I think its a perfect balance between harsh drones and meditative ambience. Also I am happy that we were able to find a way to make synthesizers and blemishes of psytrance work with the drone metal genre.

Where do you live and what is the environment like for musicians like you?

I currently live in Antwerp, Belgium. The scene is not the strongest here, if you want to do something here as an experimental musician you basically have to do it yourself. So everything I do is built from the ground up. But when it is appreciated by someone, you know its true. 

Who are some contemporary musical heroes of yours?

Ofcourse I have to give a shoutout to my sitar teacher and contemporary visionary Guillame Cazalet of Neptunian Maximalism. The sheer volume of work he puts out and the imagination and deep concept of his releases is truly inspiring. Also, Belgian Bert Dockx with his bands Dans Dans and Ottla, who have released incredibly inspiring and compelling releases. Charlemagne Palestine also from Belgium is in my eyes one of the greatest giants in drone and experimental music and I think one of the most important artists that ever lived. And last but not least the awe inspiring Eliane Radigue who just turned 91! Still going strong. She had a massive influence for Hanging Gardens.

Can you tell me about how you go about composing and recording songs? And/or: what is the best situation to improvise in?

For Hanging Gardens, I would make a background base for Rob to improvise  riffs over. I always look for new ways to make music so now there was a lot of contact mics involved, plugging them into plant life and mushrooms and record those sounds. The sound is always unpredictable and completely new everytime. Most of what I do is based on the unexpected and the baffling and sometimes doubting yourself if you like it or not, but I feel that is a good way of working. I make something, then I move on.

What are your immediate and long term future plans?

Working very hard on the next album. Hanging Gardens was very ambient and more focused on frequential harmonics and meditation. The next album will be much darker and heavy. The focus will be on creating compelling but cohesive pieces with lots of drums and a vast array of instruments and guest musicians delivering virtuosic madness. Beauty and the ethereal will be blended with the relentless and punishing. It will be an even longer work and much more apocalyptic. The drone elements will still be there but new ideas will be introduced such as microtonality, ancient European styles such as Bulgarian vocal choirs, 20th century classical compositions and dizzying soloing. If Hanging Gardens dreams of a possible utopia. The next record will take pleasure in the annihilation of the universe. 

What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do after reading this interview?

First of all, listen to our other projects. You can find us both on Bandcamp as Polymelia, Disinfo and Amps. And read the psychick bible by Genesis P-Orridge and have a good day !

Stanley Christiaensen (live)

Review + Q&A: The Mon – EYE (2023, Supernatural Cat Records)

We all know and love Urlo aka The Mon from his heavy duty stoner doom work as the singer and bass player in Ufomammut. With Ufomammut he has proved to be able to transcend the genre’s narrow boundaries, and add a certain depth and mystique to it that found a wide appeal in the world. Besides Ufomammut, Urlo has also earned his stripes with the Malleus Rock Art Lab, with which he created posters for Roadburn among many others. And of course he steers his own label ship Supernatural Cat. On EYE, all these separate entities have melted together. It has become a very personal and dignified work, but characteristic and close to his musical heritage as well.

His background follows Urlo through the impressive guest list of EYE a well, on which we find living post metal legends like Neurosis‘ Steve Von Till, Amenra‘s CHVE, The Otolith‘s Sarah Pendleton, and White Hills‘ Dave W. Together they add a sea of musical wealth and depth in which we can dream and drown as a listener. The music can be described best that way too; dreamy, each song a different dream state. Not every dream is good either, and sometimes the atmosphere can be quite dark and oppressive. Most of the time EYE is a contemplative album though, a perfect amalgamation of shamanistic mysticism and personal vulnerability.

It is an album that you simply cannot play once. The slow paced meandering, and the many layered production demands a full attention to detail. It is a perfect headphone album therefore, one you can really close yourself off from the outside world with. Focus your inner eye on yourself, and get lost for a while with The Mon.

I asked Urlo all about his current life and all the things he busies himself with. It is an interesting life, and he is always occupied with something, and never bored. “We just live once. We should try to be in love with our life” he says, and who am I to disagree?

How are you? How was the pandemic period  for you as a musician?

I’m fine, thanks.
The pandemic was a weird period, I guess like for everybody else.
It was something unexpected, a moment in life that never happened before.
I was lucky enough to keep things in a positive way, I worked a lot on music and art (I’m also one of the three minds behind Malleus Rock Art Lab –
So, I tried to create, making lots of stuff.
I finished my second solo album, the one that is coming our right now: EYE.
I took advantage of the time I had.

Can you introduce yourself and your musical alter egos?

I’m Urlo.
I play bass, synths and vocals since almost 25 years in a band called Ufomammut.
I’m also working on a solo project called The Mon.
I’ve a new album, called EYE, that is just coming out and I’m pretty excited about it.
I spend more than half of my life playing music and working on it.
As I told You, I’m one of the Malleus Rock Art Lab (we work a lot on music related art) and I run a small record label called Supernatural Cat.

What can you tell me about your musical background?

I started in playing music when I met Poia, my friend since almost 30 years and my partner in crime in Ufomammut. I started quite late, I just began as a singer, it was after high school, when Poia and me decided to create some songs, just guitar and vocals. Then the passion got bigger and bigger and we built up a cover band for a few years. When it started to be really crappy, we decided it was time to change everything and to play seriously something.
We were 21, when we gave birth to Judy Corda and I decided to buy a bass to play it.
It was clear to me I had to play bass and sing, from the beginning. I’m lucky enough to be able to play almost everything when I have it in my hands…Judy Corda lasted for about 5 years, we did 3 demo tapes and we recorded some songs on some compilations. We were a sort of embryonic Ufomammut, more skilled, probably.

When the drummer left the band, Poia and I started in working on new music. I was playing bass and drums, then we had some friend (like Tavor and Gara) and we worked on some tracks that were going to become Godlike Snake, the first album of Ufomammut. At the beginning of 1999, Vita, a friend of us, joined us and the story began. After almost 25 years, Poia and me are still playing together and we’re still doing music with Ufomammut, with our new drummer Levre, of which we’re totally happy. He opened new paths for our music and it’s great.

What does a regular day in your life look like?

My main “job” is Malleus Rock Art Lab. It’s an art studio I run with Poia and Lu since 20 years. We’re mainly focused on poster art (we’ve done silkscreens for a lot of bands, from Foo Fighters to QOTSA, from NIN to Sex pistols and so on…) but we do illustrations, video and whatever concerns visual arts. So, everyday I’m in the studio working. Then I rehearse with Ufomammut a couple of times every week. And I write music, play and create as The Mon as much as I can. Then I do other stuff, when I got time, like reading books, writing, trekking, motorbike, girlfriend and so on… hahaha I must say I’m always pretty busy:-)

What is the best thing about The Mon?

I don’t know.
You should tell me…
From the inside I could say it’s my way of creating music free from every “chains”.
It’s my solo project in which I can do what I feel, what I want to, without having to filter the music through other people.
It’s something really different.
With the new album EYE, I’ve also invited a few friends (like Steve Von Till of Neurosis, Colin of Amenra, Sarah Pendleton of The Otolith and Dave W. of the White Hills) to add some magic to the tracks. And it’s been such an honor and a great thing for me, like a dream coming true.

Where do you live and what is the environment like for musicians like you?

I live in Italy, in a small town quite close to big cities like Milano and Torino, but far enough from them to remain a spot in the center of the World…I think this “being away from big centres” have always been an engine to create, to try to “escape” from this solitude.
Since the beginning, with Ufomammut, we tried to go out and play as much as possible.
We’ve always tried to break the boundaries. And another important thing of living in a Country that is not exactly known for rock music, and moreover in a small town, is that music becomes important, it gets a different meaning, You need to do something different to be “accepted” and  “noticed” from the outside. There are lots of great musicians here in Italy and, the thing I’ve always noticed, is that we all try to do something unique, something that, even if inspired from a style, always tries to create a personal one.

Who are some contemporary musical heroes of yours?

I don’t have heroes.
I’ve always thought we’re all humans, all equals.
I can say that, if I think about a bass player that is great for me, I could think about Paul McCartney.
But he’s not a hero.

Can you tell me about how you go about composing and recording songs?

With The Mon, the process starts from an instrument that usually is a synth or a guitar.
I create a line, a vibe and then I start in adding layers and try to find an atmosphere.
Then I work on a vocal line and the last thing to come are the lyrics.
I usually work recording a track at the time.
Then, when the skeleton is done, I leave the song to decant for some time.
This is very important, because, listening to a song after a while helps You to understand if it’s good or not, giving You a different approach to it.
Then I start in arrange it and I go to the end of it.
Then I record it in my little home studio The Howl.

What are your immediate and long term future plans?

Well, first of all I have the new The Mon album EYE coming out.
And I’m working on a live set for it, hopefully for the autumn/winter I’ll tour around.
Then I’m already working on new stuff, a very acoustic project and a “Tarots” inspired one.
We’re working on a series of posters with Malleus dedicated to the Major Arcana with a monthly release. And I’m working on the “soundtrack” for it, with a song for every card.
You can check it here:
Then I’m already thinking to the new album. And with Ufomammut we have plenty of ideas too!

What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do after reading this interview?

I don’t have to tell the readers what to do.
I hope they’ll take a listen to The Mon, maybe they’ll look and some videos and I hope they’ll keep in touch with me to tell me what they think about them. And then I hope that everybody will start in taking things easy, it’s so important to be happy and relaxed.
We just live once. We should try to be in love with our life.

Review + Q&A: Nile on WaX – After Heaven (2023, Tonzonen Records)

With a band consisting of professional artists like Nile On WaX, it is hard not to feel a little intimidated at first. These three Belgian musicians fill their lives directing and scoring movies, working with renowned artists like Iggy Pop, and Nick Cave, and designing houses. Their sense of aesthetic is impeccable, and it is one of the strong features shining through on their Tonzonen debut album After Heaven.

The trio builds their instrumental landscapes out of violin, (bass-)guitars, and drums. Stylistically they find themselves somewhere in the exciting spectrum between post rock and jazz, a place where a much applauded band like The Necks also lives. It is a broad country though, and the terrain varies from minimal steppe fields with hardly any movement, to rough terrain with stern rock formations and thundering drums. Nile on WaX’s sense of cinematic is felt throughout thought, and their music demands a careful attention at all times.

I guess the intimidated part of me isn’t as much impressed by the people Nile on WaX met, or the work they did, but by the way they approach their music. Through their skill and background they have created a piece of high art, and while I love and cherish much of the music I receive and listen to on a daily basis, it is hardly ever that. I do not exaggerate when I tell you that I think that After Heaven belongs in a museum. It has every right to be marvelled at and studied by art students than any painting or installation. It deserves the same serious attention and status.

However, if you find yourself in a smokey bar somewhere in Brussels sipping a good whiskey while this band is playing their magical tunes, I am sure that is a fine enough setting as well.

I talked to drummer Elie Rabinovitch, who was kind enough to present me to his other fellows in crime; Catherine Graindorge (violin), and David Christophe (bass). The result is a great slice of life these three people are living around the great love for music that ultimately binds them as Nile On WaX

How is Nile On Wax doing at the moment? 
We’re doing fine. We’re very excited about the new album that’s coming out and our showcase on may 25th ! The album sounds and looks great. We worked with the photographer Sebastien Reuzé for the cover. We produced the album and David Minjauw did the mix. So far, the reception seems to be pretty good, so we hope to be able to bring the music to new audiences.

Can you introduce the band, and how did you meet, etc?
Elie and David met 30 years ago, on the benches of a cinema school in Louvain-la-Neuve (Belgium). In 1999 they started a rock band together with a 3rd member who is no longer with us. The same year, Elie met Catherine and they soon became lovers. Some years later, when Catherine was given a “carte blanche” in a music festival in the center of Brussels, she invited David & Elie. Most of the show, underneath a junction tunnel, was improvised music. We had such fun and pleasure that we decided to become a band. For some time we didn’t even have a name and then we called ourselves Nox. But there were so many NOXs around, from nightclubs to mattresses, from architectural offices to hungarian techno-folk hardcore dance acts…  So we changed to “Nile on wax” in 2017!

What can you tell me about your musical backgrounds?
When she was a child and teenager, Catherine was trained to classical violin. Elie attended the Antwerp jazz school for one year. David took the autodidactic way to bass.
The three of us listen to very varied musical styles, from electronic music to jazz, and from the minimalists to psychedelia. From new wave to post rock.

What does a regular day in your lives look like?
The 3 of us have rather different regular days – and often quite irregular ones as well ! 
Catherine is a professional musician and actress. Her typical day would feature rehearsals for a new show, involving music, but eventually also choreography, acting… Or creating music for her solo projects, a cinema score or a string arrangement requested by another musician.

Elie is working halftime as a TV director, and sometimes not for TV, the rest of the time is dedicated to music. 

David is an architect and would spend a regular day working on the project for a new building. Arguing with urbanists, politicians and builders is a regular occupation of his. In the evening, to counter these long term projects, he would write some documentary music with his friends abroad : Dom, Serge or James.  

What is the best thing about your new album?
The best thing about our new album is that we managed to record most of the music in its original emergence, as pure improvisations. That is : immediately while it was being created.

What can you tell me about how you ended up with Tonzonen? 
We had been hosted by a small Brussels label, run by a friend of ours. It was very nice and cosy. But Belgium is a fairly small territory, split into 2 rather impermeable cultural landscapes. From which you have to choose where you belong. Our music is mostly instrumental, so we thought we needed to find a wider territory to expand ! And Germany is the biggest European country, right ? So we thought it was a good idea to follow that track…

Where do you live and what is the environment like for musicians like you?
The 3 of us live in Brussels. It’s a good place to meet a lot of great musicians. There’s always a nice concert happening somewhere. Unfortunately, the number of places to play in has narrowed, in the post-covid netflix area. People need to go out. That’s where true emotions reach you !

Who are some contemporary musical heroes of yours? 
Too many of our musical heroes are gone. But heroes don’t die, do they ? Miles Davis and David Bowie, Jimi Hendrix and Frank Zappa, Mark Hollis and Mark Sandman, Ennio Morricone and Ryuichi Sakamoto,… their music is very much alive. 

Catherine manages to work with musicians she loves, like Hugo Race, Iggy Pop, John Parish, Pascal Humbert or Simon Huw Jones. Catherine features on a record with Nick Cave but he’s definitely a living musical hero with whom she’d love to play. 

David Sylvian is one of Elie and David’s heroes for sure. Beth Gibbons and Portishead are masters in musical expression. We also really love musicians that play music outside of radio standards, like The Necks, whose music is in constant movement and creation.

Can you tell me about how you go about composing and recording songs?
The music comes through improvisations between the 3 of us. We have never worked from a sketch that one of us brought to rehearsal. We just get together and play. And record everything. In the past, we would work this way through composition, and then learn how to recreate the improvisation, step by step. Get to the studio and record. and hope to get the magic back. This time, we actually recorded most of the music during its very first performance, in total improvisation. Of course, not everything was great. But we selected and edited and kept the essence. The quality of our listening to one another is great. Now of course we need to figure out how it happened ! 😉 . Who plays what ? With what effect and in which part ?

What are your immediate and long term future plans?
We’re playing at the Ancienne Belgique for our showcase of the new album, more venues will come, we are working right now on this near future…  

What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do after reading this interview?
They should go to our bandcamp page, listen to our albums, discover our video clips, specially the two last ones (Improbable & Ascension) directed by our friend, the very talented Karim Ouelhaj.

picture by Michel Masquelier

Review + Q&A: The Thugs – Holy Cobra Dub (2023, Love Boat Recordings & Buttons)

Excuse me, but I am finding it hard to write anything about The Thugs. You see, it is not that I do not like them or find them uninspiring, no. It is just that every time I put on their debut album Holy Cobra Dub strange purple and green cloud start to emanate from my Hi Fi system, making it hard to even look for my keyboard…and after a while I tend to forget even what I was trying to achieve…?

Holy Cobra Dub might be the stonedest album you’ll hear all year. It is the record that smoked all your weed and blows thick puffs of blue clouds in your face with tiny red eyes. On it our Italian Lay Llamas friend Nicola Giunta expresses his love for pure unadulterated Jamaican dub in his own way, making it even hazier by adding his typical psychedelic twist to it. Just in case you’re not familiar with dub music: it is like reggae but even slower and more subdued. On Holy Cobra Dub Giunta is slowing things down even further, so much that if he slowed it down more it might speed up again but backwards.

I am kidding of course, but only half. The Thugs are the real deal, and their brand of dub will turn your eyes red and tiny. It is also a brilliant album to slowly start your day to, no rush, just you and the laziest beat you’ll hear all year…

I had to find Nicola Giunta to shed some light on his new project The Thugs, and all his other wheelings and dealings. Lucky for the Shrine the connection was already established, so it was a small thing for both of us to get in touch and shoot the shit.

Hi Nicola, what are you doing today?

Just listening a really cool mixtape called Sometimes Sound.

Can you introduce your latest band The Thugs to us?

A couple of years ago I was at work on an LP artwork for the Swedish musician The Idealist who sent me some reference. One of them was Jah Shaka‘s ‘Commandments of Dub’, suddenly I fell in love with that music as well as artwork: The Thugs was born. Quickly I asked my friend Edo Guariento to bring his drum set to my home studio to play some dub fills. Well, you consider that me and Edo are not proper Jamaican music players. But we’re true music lovers. A couple of months later I started to work on these sessions adding instruments and vocals as you can listen on The Thugs‘ record Holy Cobra Dub

What can you tell me about the reason to start a “dub” band like the Thugs?

I love all of that ‘world’so much. I mean those weird guys closed in a recording studio, smoking dope experimenting hard with sounds and dusty tools. Like wizards or alchemists! Wow.

How did most of the music come into existence?

Half of the 12 tracks were born with me playing all instruments and singing onto Edo’s drums. I played bass, guitar, organ, effects… Then I built the rest of the tracklist starting from some old and cheap drum machines. 

Do you listen to a lot of dub and reggae music? Can you recommend any artists?

The whole of Jah Shaka‘s ‘Commandments of Dub’ series, Volume 1-10.

Commandments of Dub’ series, Volume 1

What are your future plans with The Thugs?

We’re already at work on new music.

What can you tell me about your relationship with the Love Boat label?

Andrea (Pomini) is also a fan of my project Lay Llamas so he knows my music from a decade or something and I follow his projects from the same time or more. He’s a true music lover and good chap. And that’s yet a big thing nowadays.

What can we expect from Nicola Giunta the artist in the future? Which band will be first to have new material?

I’m always at work on new music and artwork. I’m coming back to live gigs as Lay Llamas after three years and half. And I’m at work on a new Lay Llamas’ record. 

What should the Weirdo Shrine readers do after reading this interview?

Listen the voice of the ‘Holy Cobra Dub’.

Review + Q&A: Wooden Tape – Music From Another Place (2023, God Unknown Records)

My first encounter with Liverpool’s Wooden Tape is the lovely video (added below) of the song Geodesic Eric in which we see a humanoid dog figure ballet dancing his way through a typically English rural landscape. The whole thing radiates a certain calm, peace, and finesse that is quite typical of Wooden Tape and its music. The album Music From Another Place is a clockmaker’s ambient work in that sense that it is carefully crafted, has a deep sense of detail, and that it fully demands your attention to embrace its deep inner beauty.

Wooden Tape is Tim Maycox, a high school arts teacher in Liverpool. Within this project he has meticulously crafted his own minute little universe, in which every single sound has its function. If it were an armchair it would probably resemble a Rietveld. In a similar way all the extras are stripped but instead of a lesser object, it becomes more, stylistically, and artistically.

There is a strong connection to the world outside as well, and often times we hear various species of bird chirping and twittering away. It personally transported me right back to my own pandemic experience, when the sudden quiet of a society grinding to a halt also seemed to amplify the sound of nature around me. It was actually one of the big upsides of the whole dreary situation.

With its skilfully executed mixture of guitars, electronics, and field recordings Music From Another Place is quite a unique work even among the Avantgarde ambient of today. It would lend it itself perfectly for an arthouse film, but for now it also works fine to visualise your own film inside your brain. Perhaps the latter is even preferable, as every time you put this record on it could transport you to a different place. The album title seems to suggest that, and we are welcome to explore…are you up for it?

I had a nice chat with Tim Maycox from his home in Liverpool. Having had a couple of stints in bands and playing with renowned psych bands like Mainliner and Teeth Of The Sea, he carefully explains his musical roots and current status, and the perks of being a one man band in Wooden Tape.

How are you? How has the pandemic period been for you?

It is during times like the pandemic that you realise how lucky you are to have creative outlets to fall back on and escape into. I was also blessed to have my family with me, not everyone had that. It did lead to some of the writing and recordings on the album.

Can you introduce yourself and the musical projects you are involved in?

I am Tim AKA Wooden Tape. At the moment, Wooden Tape is ‘the’ project, with the album due out I am involved in putting together a small band of like-minded types to do some live work over the summer and beyond. Wooden Tape is a combination of my interests in hauntology, acoustic guitar music of the late 60’s/early 70’s, ambient synths and pads, library music and classic OST music. The sound of the album is a set of forgotten theme tunes like audio versions of little, faded ektachrome snaps. There is another collaboration I have been working on but I hope that might be one for the future, involving music, word/text and possible film. I also have a new set of pieces I am developing.

What can you tell me about your musical background?

Played in a couple of bands over the years in the Merseyside/Liverpool region. Did some great shows as ‘Fortunatus’, supporting the likes of Teeth of the Sea and Mainliner, with the excellent Behind the Wall of Sleep promotions and as part of the Liverpool Psych Fest. We could never really get any traction and it kind of fizzled out, like a lot of bands do! I also recorded and wrote as part of a project called ‘Sons of Sekander’, we put out our own E.P, not dissimilar to Wooden Tape but with a bit more spoken word on it. The great thing about Wooden Tape is I have been able to bring together Joe and Sean from those previous bands for the Wooden Tape stuff. I worked at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall for 16 years (I was a classical roadie) so music was never far- at home and at work. Wooden Tape grew from a couple of songs that two close friends championed. Very organic.

What does a regular day in your life look like?

Very dualistic! I am a High School teacher which I love. I teach Art but am based in a building with Music so sometimes I am asked to play on bits (the students put me to shame!) I am lucky to be able to take one cap off and put another on, when I have the time. A regular music day can be anything from recording in my house, to organising mixes to writing. 

What is the best thing about Music From Another Place?

I suppose like anything someone puts out it is a distillation of your particular likes. It can be hard to be subjective about your own music and to stand outside and look in. I think it does sound different and that is the home recorded element to it. I have a set of percussion that maybe different to the next musician’s set of percussion so you instantly get a ‘sound’ I am heavy on melody and don’t mind things being ‘pretty’ but I also like balance, so you get pieces like ‘Birds II’ and ‘Broken Tapestry’ sitting next to each other. That is one of the things I love about my favourite albums that light/dark thing. At school I talk about Chaos and Order in art, and I think that is really important.

Where do you live and what is the environment like for musicians like you?

I live close to one of the great music cities, Liverpool. I also live in a region that is probably untouchable with Liverpool and Manchester, within 35 miles of each other. Then you have got North Wales close by, which is and always has been a hotbed of amazing music. Liverpool is as receptive as any place to alternative sounds and music and the musical environment is very healthy though we have lost some great venues.

Who are some contemporary musical heroes of yours?

I have always loved Ben Chasny/Six Organs of Admittance and really liked Rick Tomlinson/Voice of the Seven Woods. Anything Ghost Box brings out is always amazing. I like Bibio, Hampshire & Foat and songwriters like Bill Callahan the list goes on! Locally we have amazing bands like Ex-Easter Island Head, who are a must see live. Johhny Trunk and Andy Votel are big idols for me, they straddle that music/film/art/outsider/retro thing so well and are culturally so important (I am ever the art student!) I could do this interview tomorrow and add another 100 artists!

Can you tell me about how you go about composing and recording songs?

I tend to write a lot on acoustic guitar and still see myself as predominantly a guitarist, but I love to pretend to be Matthew Fisher or Rick Wright and tinker away on a keyboard. I get bits down on the phone and go back to them, I know if I had to get out of bed, go downstairs, find my guitar, get the phone out and press record it must have been ok (hard listening back when it wasn’t though!!!) I mostly start by looping percussion, put down an acoustic pattern and then add washes with other guitar and keyboard. When you don’t have words, titles become really important as they set the meaning, though I do also like using vague/ambiguous titles so people can have their own take on the themes. Anything I do then goes to the brilliant Marc Joy to sprinkle his wonder dust on. Marc has been pivotal to the sound of Wooden Tape.

What are your immediate and long-term future plans?

Immediate plans are to promote the album, Jason at God Unknown has given me a wonderful opportunity. Also, we need to get out and support the album with some live shows, hoping for some visual aspect to these with film. Long term is more music! I touched upon that other project before, there is music written and a script with some interest so let’s see?! A festival would be nice, we always loved the Green Man so if you are reading…

What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do after reading this interview?

Listen to the album! I would start with the video for Geodesic Eric that the very talented Clifford Sayer animated and then listen to the album in sequence. Then go down that rabbit hole of influences! Umliani & Zalla (or pretty much any Italian Library music, they were the masters) John Renbourn/6 Organs of Admittance/Popol Vuh/KPM again, the list goes on. It’s the wonderful thing about music, it just keeps on giving!

Interview: Mike Vest (Drunk In Hell, Modoki, Artifacts & Uranium, Downtime, Neutraliser, Mienakunaru, Bong, Blown Out, 11Paranoias)

Ok, so we just had to talk to Mike Vest, right? Known throughout the underground for his involvement in Drunk In Hell, Bong, 11Paranoias, and of course the mother of all psych jam breakouts: Blown Out. In stark contrast to his regular noise mongering on record and on stage, we find the man in the quiet environment of his vegetable garden in Newcastle, UK. “I much rather visit the chaos, than live in it” is a beautiful quote from the man who seems to live very much in the presence, and does not dwell on the past for a second. So open your eyes, but definitely also your ears for this one, because there will be a lot of new and upcoming sounds in this one…

How are you? Can you introduce yourself and you multiple endeavors?

I’m good, enjoying these lighter nights, I’ve been gardening, I farmed a lot of potato soil end of last summer. Trying to get the garden soil back to a good pH or whatever. Starting to see the benefits now. De bois, gariguette and cambridge strawberries plants are growing well,
especially happy with the Ceanothus (Lilac Tree). The roots run deep, took about a year for it to be able to stand on its own. Hydrangeas are returning stronger, dark violets and royal reds hopefully, like last year. Going to plant a pear tree in the autumn. Tulips came out nice too. Winter pansies holding strong. Nice to have some freshly picked flowers around the house again.

So…two new LPs out now, MODOKI with Mitsuru Tabata playing leads.
I play bass and do the mixing and Dave Sneddon, handles the drums.
‘Atom Sphere’ our debut is available from Riot Season (UK) and Echodelick Records (US)
Our second, ‘Luna To Phobos’ should be seeing the light in a couple of months I think.
The second has more twists and turns. These were both recorded and mixed around the same time as each other.

New album from Artifacts & Uranium, our 3rd ’The Gateless Gate’ is out on Riot Season (UK) and Echodelick Records (US). Fred Laird did a great job with the production and mixing, as he has done with all our albums. We have just completed the 4th. This has Mitsuru Tabata as a guest feature. As I was working on Modoki stuff at the time.

The Tomoyuki Trio LP should be seeing the light soon as well.
A trio with legendary guitarist Tomoyuki Aoki from UP-Tight. Awesome album. Was a pleasure to work with him. Foundations are laid for our 2nd. Up-Tight have just released a couple of lps on Cardinal Fuzz. Reissues, well worth checking out. kawabata

I completed a new debut album with IIkka Vekka, Ohto Pallas, Otto Juutilainen from Haare & Nolla. New project called Kaliyuga Express, total Hawkwind experience, specifically the Warriors and Masters periods.

Did a lot of experimenting with ultra delays on the guitars and micro tonal changes, lots of automation and octave chords. Tried to mix the guitars so every four/eight bars, something changes tonally. Just recently signed this off with the label.

DOWNTIME, a duo with me and Dave Sneddon. Our debut tape came out on Cruel Nature Records (UK) in January. Might be a few left. Weird instrumental noise rock. Slide guitar ventures. SNED runs a publishing house.

Lot of punk literature and art books.

NEUTRALISER, collaboration with Charlie Butler, released a tape on Cruel Nature Records (UK) in January.‘Capsule Bowed Space’ There is some copies of the 2nd run of tapes.
Also self released a digital album a month back, called ‘Liquid Oxygen Kerosene’.

What can you tell me about your musical background?

Been playing guitar & bass in bands’ since I was 16, got into improvisation and noise/drone music specifically when I was 20, I think. Started BONG, loosely, when I was 22/23. Played in noise, drone, improv sludge, noise rock, thrash, punk, grindcore bands through my 20s. Started playing gigs heavy from the age of 25 till 38. Probably more known for playing in BONG, 11Paranoias, Drunk In Hell, Melting Hand, Blown Out, Mienakunaru….

What does a regular day in your life look like? What role does music play?

Most days I’m working on music, mixing, recording or just listening and making notes.
I’ve got so many notepads full of numbers, track names, ideas, edits…etc. Maybe for only for an hour or so. But everyday, there is something to check over. I minimised my recording setup and the way I record albums. So it’s not a big thing to just start checking/recording/mixing various projects I’m working on. Its a fluid motion, I’ve made it easy to just pick up, play and start recording/mixing and so on..

I paint whilst I listen to mixes.

Painting by Mike Vest

Where do you live and how does it affect your musical doings?

I lived at the coast for years, now I live close to the boarder between Gateshead and Newcastle. I used to be away all the time, playing shows/recording in larger cities, so, with being away lot, made me appreciate the smaller scale and calmer atmosphere I would return to. Less daily stress means more time to be inspired and productive, I guess.
Like a pirate, I would go and gather all gold from the capitals and go back to the sea.

I much rather visit the chaos, than live in it.

Can you highlight some of your favourite releases you were involved in, and tell us why?

The stuff I’ve released over the past 2-3 years and LPs that are on the way. I’m most proud of. I don’t save any copies of any album I have done. They either all get sold, given away or traded, everything is in the outbox. Test pressing etc, everything goes eventually. Being able to create music with Mitsuru, Junzo & Aoki over the past couple of years has been great. Same with Fred Laird with A&U & Charlie Butler in Neutraliser, got me back into enjoying, what I love the most about music.

The creating of it and the evolving process. Most importantly though is Dave Sneddon, without his drums, many of these albums/projects/bands would not be possible.

What is “the dream” for you as an independent artist?

To have 10% of my followers, buy my music and art.

What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do after reading this interview?

Buy music and art.

Review + Q&A: Glazyhaze – Just Fade Away (2023, Slimer Records)

I remember when I was 18 years old. What a bright time in my life, with the world at my fingertips, sitting in college lecture halls and absorbing knowledge. Oh, there was music, poetry, and all the wonders of the liberal arts! There were unlimited possibilities; the world was opening before me, even though the “Great Financial Crisis” of 2008 struck at the time of my graduation.

Despite the bankers jumping from golden parachutes and my increasing addiction and mental health problems, I felt free as a bird. No one could hold me down, and here in America, Barrack Obama spoke of hope! Imagine that! In 2023, the theme I feel is hopelessness and resignation. I sense it worldwide on the interwebs and wherever I go – that is when I go outside.

Over in Northern Italy, there’s a young duo of 18-year-old musicians that have formed a band called Glazyhaze, and let me tell you, they have the world by the balls! Sure, artificial intelligence may entirely destroy the music industry and release singing and dancing robots into the world soon. But the new dream pop and shoegaze band Glazyhaze has something special. And, god damnit, they are holding onto it close because they know how damn special it is.

Glazyhaze’s new album, Just Fade Away, has everything your greedy music fan heart could ever want in a shoegaze album – and much more, my friends. The album is due out on May 19th, and if you don’t purchase it on Bandcamp, you will be letting these young folks down. And do you really want to crush someone’s dreams like that, you selfish individual, you?

The core members of Glazyhaze are Irene Moretuzzo and Lorenzo Dall’Aremellina, and they are musically wise beyond their years. Sure, I don’t know jackshit about shoegaze and dream pop, but from what I understand and what little brain cells I have left, Just Fade Away has all the hallmarks of these genres: the reverb-laden guitar, the distortion, the seductive and obscured vocals, and the warm, fuzzy feelings that will lead you to reverie.

It is an album of youthful anthems of self-expression and, as the band says, “an ode to freedom, which can be reached in believing in and following the principles of sincerity, vulnerability, and love.” Love is the answer, my friends. Let me tell you something else: this album has plenty of melancholy, bittersweetness, and gothic touches, but the underlying message is one of strength, hope, and overcoming the world’s bullshit. And there’s tons of bullshit out there. 

On the last track, Irene sings, “Just fade away” and “I see the other side.” I see the house upon the hill and the shining lights, and I know our day will come. Or something like that.

Anyway, look up Glazyhaze and pre-order the damn album before you waste your money on something else. Support these young musicians and bring some positivity into the world for once. And let yourself feel like you’re 18 years old again and live vicariously through the members of Glazyhaze and the musical journey they have created. But not in a weird way. Don’t spend your life’s savings to reconstruct your body to look like an 18-year-old again, which I saw someone spend a million dollars on. I saw it on the news. Really weird, right? Just buy the goddamn album already, get stoned, and listen to it, okay?

I was lucky enough to speak with the members of Glazyhaze as they prepared to release Just Fade Away and tour Europe and Italy. Let’s warmly welcome them and make them feel comfortable at The Weirdo Shrine.

Can you introduce the band? How did you two meet and start making music together?

Hi! We are Glazyhaze, and we are simply two 18-year-olds from Italy who love music and believe in it more than anything else. We met almost by chance in 2021 and instantly felt a strong connection, but we didn’t immediately start making music. Irene came from a more jazzy/folk background, while Lorenzo was already used to the kind of sounds we have now. 

Probably for this reason, we didn’t start playing together right away, but some time later, we casually started jamming and realized that together we got along very well, and we haven’t stopped since. We really believe in what we have created and hope to continue this path for as long as possible.

Along the way, we met Francesco and Seva, who have become part of our project and whom we are glad to have with us. We are very happy with the environment created within the band and even more excited about everything to come!

What was it like recording the new album? Since it’s your debut as Glazyhaze, what was that first-time experience like?

The feeling we had in the studio was that we barely knew what we were doing, as if we were a little unaware, but we are happy with that because it definitely made our work more spontaneous. Going into the studio and experimenting with sounds and instrumentation brought us very close to the sound we have now; it was definitely relevant to our progress as a band, and it was so much fun!

The press kit says you’re getting ready to tour Italy and Europe. Will this be either of your first touring experience? Are you excited?

Yes, it will be the first touring experience for both of us, and we couldn’t be more thrilled. Playing live is always magical and exciting for us as it’s the time to share with others what we love to do, but the idea of going on tour and discovering different places, people, and situations intrigues us even more; we can’t wait!

I imagine you two are big dream pop and shoegaze fans. But what is one offbeat musical genre that you both adore?

Besides being super into everything dreamy and ethereal, we also madly love everything that sounds rough and punk. If we had to tell you one offbeat genre we love, it would be hardcore music. We are referring to bands like Turnstile, Refused, Fugazi, NoMeansNo, and many others.

What can you tell me about your songwriting process?

We usually come up with chord progressions, riffs, or melodies on our own, and then we work on the arrangements together or with the other members of the band. This method works best for us as it gives us much creative freedom.

I see you formed in Northern Italy, and I assume you live there now. What is that environment like for musicians like yourselves?

Possibilities are limited since we both live in small provincial towns, but we have a lot of friends who play, and there are a lot of super cool bands around; the community is big. Nevertheless, Italy is definitely not the right place for rock ‘n roll.

What is one album you both can’t stop listening to right now?

Irene: An album that totally captivated me in the last year and that I am still obsessed with is Just Mustard’s latest record, Heart Under. I just love the texture of their sound, it’s super noisy and full of feedback, and it’s contrasted with Katie Ball’s siren-like vocal lines that are pure and beguiling; I really love her singing style. If you are looking for a dense and hypnotic album, Heart Under is definitely what I would recommend.

Lorenzo: I’d probably say Deceiver by DIIV; I love it for its originality and songwriting, which I find amazing.

What should the readers of Weirdo Shrine do immediately after reading this review and Q&A?

Well, our first album just came out, so we would obviously recommend giving it a try, ahah. Hope you’ll enjoy it!

This review and Q&A was done by fellow weirdo Nick, who runs the psychedelic rock and music blog, The Third Eye. Born in the Philly area, Nick currently lives in Tennessee with his wife and three domesticated animals. When he’s not writing about music, you may not be able to find him because he’s grown increasingly reclusive as he’s gotten older.

Review + Q&A: Son Of Buzzi – Die Hand Der Riesin (2023, Cardinal Fuzz/Centripetal Force/Ramble Records)

On a porch somewhere in Zurich, Switzerland, a guy is playing guitar by himself. He just lets the tones flow in rhythmic patterns, while he gains inspiration from the birds chirping around him and even from the city noises in the background. This is Son Of Buzzi.

The outside noise being there strengthens the overall feeling of loneliness and contemplation that ripples from this music. All by himself, just a man with his guitar and a four track recorder, Son Of Buzzi captures a moment. The moment is good as it is captured, no overdubs, no fancy stuff. It is the moment as it was captured at that time. To capture a moment in time in itself and record it for it to be repeated in eternity is a kind of magic if you think about it. And Die Hand Der Riesin (“The hand of the giantess”) feels magical in the way that very tiny things sometimes can feel.

I’m sorry if my mind wonders off while I write this, but minimalist guitar music like this can do that to your head. I do believe it is where strange, surprising, and new ideas grow from. In a sense you could say that listening to a Son Of Buzzi album could turn you into a writer, or a rambler, a poet, or even a sole guitar slinger…it could be a bit of magic.

I talked with Sebastian Bischoff from his home in Zurich, Switzerland. He seems a lover of music first, and then a musician, even though he plays a lot too and with delight. As solo artist he revels in taking the flow and roll with it, recording surrounding sounds and living in the moment. To live, to escape, to be alone with his instrument. Here is Son Of Buzzi.

Hi Sebastian! How are you doing? How was the pandemic for you?

I am doing well, thank you. Of course, like for most of us, the pandemic was special. Not going out for more than two years, not meeting with friends, especially not playing or going to concerts and live music was really exhausting. However, I was in the privileged position of not belonging to a risk group, having a day job and being able to work from home, and most importantly, not being alone, but with my family. But hopefully, no more pandemic.

Can you introduce yourself and your music? 

Ok, my name is Sebastian Bischoff or “Son of Buzzi”. I am now based in Zurich/ Switzerland. 
My music is mainly acoustic steel string guitar, 6 and 12 string. Sometimes I also use electronics (synthesizer, mixer…) or other instruments like double bass, banjo, or whatever fits the mood. I try to create intimate soundscapes with my instrumental music. The sounds and the space around the sounds are important to me. But the most important thing for me is to play the music myself. It allows me to pause or simply to escape. And I hope that I can create such a personal mood with my sounds that this is also transferred to the listener.

What can you tell me about your musical background?

Oh, music has always been an important part of my life. I’m a self-taught musician. I played bass and was singing in local hardcore bands as a teenager, switched to upright bass in my 20s and now, in my 40s, it’s solo acoustic guitar. 

What does a regular day in your life look like?

Most of time is taken up by my day-job as an engineer for strucural mechanics in tunneling construction. And when I find the time, I play or listen to music, mostly in the evening and on my roof terrace. 

What is the best thing about Die Hand Der Riesin?

For me it’s the collaborative work on the vinyl release. Starting with Michal Potter who helped me again with the mix and also with the arrangement of “Die Hand der Riesin I + II”, Zita (Bischoff’s daughter-ed), who made the drawing on the front cover, Mischa Scherrer who contributed the picture for the back cover, Brett Savage who helped me with the design and layout, Holger Adams who wrote the liner notes/ Begleittexte and of course the collaboration with the labels: Dave from Cardinal Fuzz, Mike from Centripetal Force and Mike from Ramble. There were quite a few people involved in the makin, and it was a lot of fun working with these folks. Considering it’s solo instrumental music, this is more than I could have asked for (smiles)!

credit pictures: Mischa Scherrer

Where do you live and how does it affect your music?

I’ve been living in Zurich since 2010, moved here from Munich. Zurich has a very vibrant music scene and there are many good venues and great concerts to see. That’s really great, because live music is very important to me.

My apartment near Europabrücke and Werdinsel in Zurich has a very nice roof terrace where I spend most of my time playing the guitar. Obviously the landscape and also the sounds of the adjacent road and nearby river as a constant background for my playing have a big impact on my music and how I want it to sound. You can even hear it on some recordings, for example on „Die Hand der Riesin“ or on the album „Eins bis vier“ that I recorded for Dadaist-Tapes, where the ambient noise plays an important role for me.

Who are some contemporary musical heroes of yours?

Oh, „heroes“ is difficult, but if I’d have to name any, it would be Nina Simone, Alice Coltrane, Pauline Oliveros. Of course there are influences by other contemporary guitar players such as Loren Connors, Jim o`Rourke, Daniel Bachman, Shane Parish, of course Jack Rose/ Pelt, Mike Gangloff, Joseph Allred, Willie Lane, Joost DijkemaBasho and Fahey obviously. I was listening a lot to Tongue Depressor recently, also Magic Tuber Stringband, Sarah Davachi, Natalia Beylis, and I’m really looking forward to my copy of the re-pressing of Abdul Wadud‘s „By Myself“ (still in the mail)…music is cool!

Can you tell me about how you went about composing and recording songs?

Composing here is usually trial and error. I’m not a trained musician, so the composition process is very unstructured. Sometimes I’ll start with a melody or rhythm pattern and go from there, repeating the parts endlessly, discarding them and starting over. It’s not clear what will come out in the end, but I have to be convinced of the piece in order for it to be “done”. In the end, It’s also important to me that the whole album stands on its own and is consistent in terms of mood and sound. This also applies to the improvised parts, because I also see these improvised passages more in terms of sound and dramaturgy, that is, how they fit into the musical mood and where I want to go from there.

The recording itself usually takes place in my kitchen or living room, straight into my 4-track recorder. It’s important to me to record the music as a whole, live and without overdubs, but with all the little flaws and random noises from the environment and such.

What are your immediate and long term future plans?

Well it looks like there will be a 7” release this year on a really great label from the Czech Republic. And I or rather we (yeah!) are working on some new recordings, but it’s not finished yet so I won’t talk about it. And hopefully I’ll go on tour this fall and play some live shows, but nothing fixed yet.

What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do after reading this interview?

Hug a friend!

credit pictures: Mischa Scherrer