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Jack Ellister- Lichtpyramide 2 Q&A (2021 Tonzonen Records)

Jack Ellister is a UK based musician who started out creating heavy early Pink Floyd inspired psych rock, but has turned to more experimental and contemplative audio explorations on his recent album Lichtpyramide (2020, Tonzonen Records). Now he is back with a second part of those kosmische kraut explorations, also released on German krautrock cult label Tonzonen.

What we hear here is some high quality synthesizer based experimentalism, ranging from the early German kraut wizards to Kraftwerk to even some more modern Radiohead-type beat mongering. It is altogether a rather introvert affair, forward moving, but quietly, like an astronaut slowly finding its way in zero gravity. It made me curious about the man behind these sounds. Luckily I found him willing to talk to Weirdo Shrine!

Jack Ellister

How have you been? How has life been as a musician in lockdown and afterwards?
Thanks, I’m fine. Life is good. I think my situation wasn’t very different than that of other musicians in Western Europe. Spending time at home, trying to do something useful. I’m glad we’re moving back to normal. Yesterday I went to a packed concert. I’m glad this is possible now, although at first it felt a little bit awkward to be sweating among people again.

Can you tell me your story? You are London-based, but you are from somewhere else, right? How did you end up making music in the UK?
I started making this type of music in the Netherlands. The conservatory in Arnhem has an amazing collection of classical percussion instruments in the cellar. Few people ever go there. Once discovered, I found it really inspiring. I would often be there to try the various, often home-made, instruments and record weird sounds. For shows with the psychedelic band that I had at that time I used to borrow metallophones, tubular bell sets and other sonic excitements from the classical department until they decided that it had to stop. They needed those instruments for their own students they said. I kept borrowing gongs for the performances and I bought myself a tubular bells set from a local orchestra. A pity I couldn’t take it to London when we moved here in 2014. It’s still standing in the woods near Apeldoorn in a shed that belongs to my mother-in-law.

In what way has your personal background played a role in the way your music sounds today?
Having lived in different countries for several years and knowing each culture a bit can help in becoming more open minded in general. Also there was a Denazifizierungsprogramm in Germany after WW2. In the 70s and 80s you had socially aware, slightly leftist children’s programs on TV that had a high educational value. I wouldn’t say TV promoted socialism as such, the establishment there was just as conservative as other countries in the West, but it definitely had those bits where other countries and cultures were portrayed from a non-imperialistic, equal point of view. In public libraries in Stuttgart I would find films by Werner Herzog, which led to listening to Popol Vuh and other kosmische music. The concept of a cosmic music would indicate an absence of national identification. I think it’s okay if people are proud of their origins, as long as it’s not for establishing a hierarchy. At the same time it’s easy to see how uniform mass culture often is. It’s important to at least try and offer an alternative.

Where did you pick up your fascination with psychedelic music? Who or what has been your greatest influence in that respect?
I was eight years old and borrowed the blue Beatles compilation album (1967-1970) on cassette from the local library. Discovering mid era Beatles as a young kid just defines your taste for a huge part. Next thing was Piper At The Gates Of Dawn when I was 9. An uncle bought me the cassette in Poland and Astronomy Domine blew my mind. Other 60s/70s bands followed but the craving for good acid rock clearly dominated.

Your earlier work was much more band-based and guitar oriented, how did it transform to its current form and will your sound ever return to more song based guitar structures with singing vocals?
It started as experiments. And because they lend themselves to unpressured free-wheeling they tend to be more fun to do. Combined with shifting listening habits it felt like the right thing to explore. Still feels that way, but I’ve noticed I try to find combinations nowadays that might work as an arrangement. Like parts in a song. Ideally when I complete the circle and be back to writing melodic songs, I’ll have an extended sound palette and a unique sonic signature to draw on.

Can you tell why you have moved your music from Fruits De Mer records to Tonzonen in Germany?
It’s not moved. I continue to work with both labels. Because the first Lichtpyramide album had a lot of German lyrics, I felt it would be a good idea to reach a German speaking audience.

Can you tell about your collaboration with Dave Schmidt aka Sula Bassana? How did that come about?
I incidentally met Dave when he was playing a secret show with Electric Moon in a small London venue, prior to a their main gig the next day in a way bigger place. For the first half hour of chatting we didn’t know who the other was. Of course at some point we realized. It was funny. We knew each others music so obviously we stayed in touch.
I like collaborations in general.  So during lockdown I showed Dave some of my new material, and asked whether he wanted to contribute any sounds. He chose the ones he felt that would make most sense to add something.

Do you listen to contemporary music these days? Anything to recommend? What are you mostly listening to anyways when you are not making music?

I listen to Beethoven symphonies on repeat lately, but apart from that I like Prince Rama’s Shadow Temple and Architecture Of Utopia albums a lot. London based bands Soccer 96, Vanishing Twin and Snapped Ankles just released great albums. Russian duo Simple Symmetry have made a very interesting album recently, that I’m very impressed by, and I like their leftfield techno productions too. Gerald Donald’s Der Zyklus EPs are great. Klaus Schultze made some fantastic music, I especially like his Clara Mondschein album.

What are your future plans immediate and long term?
Immediate is actually releasing Lichtpyramide II and starting to play shows.
I’ll soon start compiling the third Lichtpyramide record and will see if I can get it a bit of song structure here and there to provide potential pattern recognition for the workoholics among our little grey cells.

What should our readers do immediately after this interview?
Same as me: The laundry and then go to see a live show.

Juju- La Que Sabe review + Q&A (2021 Weird Beard Records)

Putting on a new JuJu album and closing your eyes always lands you in a place you could not expect before. Coming from the African vibes of the highly respected self-titled debut album on Fuzz Club records on which Sicilian native Gioele Valenti collaborated with members of Swedish cult psych outfit GOAT, the band and its albums have never sounded the same since. Each album turned a different corner and explored different angles but always kept their dark and brooding atmosphere and psychedelic overtones.

La Que Sabe, JuJu’s fourth studio album takes us deep into 80s wave territory this time. Closing my eyes I walk dark and sweaty alleyways and in and out batcave discos where bands like Bauhaus, Anne Clark, Sisters Of Mercy and Echo And The Bunnymen entertain the black clad audiences. It’s sexy, danceable music and quite a departure from the dark ritualistic psych chants of the early JuJu days. What is left is the repetition in the pounding beats, and the overall hazy atmosphere. JuJu is back in a more celebratory mood this time and wants its listeners to go out and sweat blood.

But behold! There is more to La Que Sabe than meets the eye, apart from an excellently executed tribute to the dark ages of gothic new wave it tells a very relevant story about our society’s current state of affairs and its dystopian destination. There can’t hardly be a better soundtrack than this for these times. I had to see if I could find JuJu mastermind Goeile Valenti willing to talk to the Shrine, but luckily he did! I am pretty darn proud of the interview below so please treat yourself and check it out below:

JuJu

Hi Gioele! How are you, and how have you been these strange two years of the pandemic?
Nice too meet you man. I am fine thanks. I passed them between incredulity and amazement. The world has always lived with pandemics. But this time they are turning the world upside down. I spent a lot of it writing, composing and playing, as always. But also to
have fun with my friends. A life worth living must be a life of sharing. We also recently played at Fekete Zaj in Hungary. Well, after two years of enforced detention, it was like touching the sky with a finger.

Also: where have you been? And how has your geographical position influenced your work? In my view, Sicily must be awesome to live, yet it is also extremely far away from everything else…
Sicily is a place geographically and psychologically in its own right. Here cultural differences have always crossed and you cannot find something similar elsewhere, I guess. Arabs, Normans, French, Spanish… a crossroads of different cultures. I can’t say that I was
musically formed from Sicily, because I grew up listening to punk, new wave, postrock, shoegaze, psychedelia… but surely this tendency to mix everything together, forming a kind of melange in baroque sauce, well, this definitely comes from my origins. Sicily has the reputation of being a place of sun and sea. But the Mediterranean has a double soul, one solar, we would say Apollonian, but also a tragic face, which follows us like a shadow, and comes from a Dionysian and dramatic environment, directly from Ancient Greece. JuJu comes from there, I fear.

Can you tell our reader the background story of JuJu? What was it at its conception, and what has it become now?
I started JuJu while playing in another band, Lay Llamas (Rocket Recordings). A band that I am still a part of and that is about to come out with two new records.Then I felt myself developing some topoi connected with African culture, polyrhythm and connection with
mother earth, the magic of the soil. In fact in the first two records of JUJU (Fuzz Club) you can hear this Africanist inspiration. The third album, “Maps And Territory” instead entangled with new wave, glam rock and industrial music. With a hint of avant-garde jazz in it, I
presume. One of the biggest influences I ever acquired it, it was during two support tours for the Swedish masked ensemble GOAT. In fact, a couple of founders (Capra Informis and Goatman) played on my first albums. I like to imagine JuJu as an organism in constant motion. Only chaos generates dancing stars, you know.

With La Que Sabe you have once again reinvented yourself into something else completely, can you describe the writing process and what influenced your sound to turn into this?
Sure. I always wanted to pay homage to the music I grew up with. From dark wave to new wave, from post punk to no wave to art rock. I believe that La Que Sabe embodies all this, passed through my interest in the Vedanta culture, where spirituality is articulated
through the experience, even extreme and vital, of the path of the left hand. In this historical moment it is good to connect with the deeper parts of the cosmic self. Only in this way will we be able to escape the exploitation that politics is implementing on the basis of a
perennial emergency government. In short, try not to go crazy and being alive.

To my ears, La Que Sabe sounds darker, and perhaps more 80s inspired than ever…would you agree? Are there perhaps certain artists you listened
to more to inspire you?

You hit the mark perfectly. The stylistic code of La Que Sabe is precisely that between 80 and 90. From Joy Division, Dead Can Dance and The Cult to Pere Ubu and Jesus And Mary Chain, The Telescopes, Barbie Bones up to Depeche Mode and New Order ending with lapping territories near Swans and Sonic Youth, just to name a few, this record has the ambition to articulate itself through two decades of vital and politically incorrect music.

Can you explain the title and the overall lyrical concept?
Sure. It’s a powerful archetype that resides in the deepest psyche of our soul, of every woman’s soul, specifically, it is in fact a feminine archetype. It is the wild, ancient essence that belongs to us, that we deserve, that is ours by right. Society wants people to be wheels of a functionalist machine. Society wants endless production and tame people. The duty of every human being is to rebel against this capitalist reductionism. The KAPALIKA, the man portrayed on the cover, is an Indian holy man, a practitioner of Shaivism. Shaivism is considered the oldest spiritual path in the world. Society wants divided beings, but if you are connected to yourself, no one will be able to divert you. The lyrics speak of destruction and regeneration, of disappointment, of being a light to oneself, against the false heroes and weak myths of which even Rock’N’Roll is made.

The first self-titled album has become quite a classic in my book. I was excited to recently buy it on vinyl! Can you recall the responses of its release at the time? And have the responses to that album and JuJu as a band changed over time?
The debut of JuJu, initially released on the US label Sunrise Ocean Bender and then reissued for Europe by Fuzz Club, was immediately received enthusiastically. In that record I was talking about people who in 2000 still die at sea while politicians pass the ball, literally making a career out of the lives of refugees. A very nihilistic record. JuJu immediately earned the affection of many fans, especially British ones. This affection and loyalty have grown over time, cemented by a great live activity. We can say that we have a lot of
friends who are willing to go on long trips to one of our concerts. Of course, I always ask for a lot of trust from the fans, even jumping into the dark, as I consider myself a game changer, and I love that each record sounds different. I don’t like bands that don’t mark an artistic evolution from one record to another. They bore me.

You have other projects as well, right? Are they still alive and can we expect new music in the future?
Yes, I have another dark folk project called Herself, on whose last record I hosted Jonathan Donahue of Mercury Rev. I am about to complete the recording of the sixth official album and I hope to be able to release it soon.

Speaking about future plans: what are your plans with JuJu in the immediate future? And can we expect some live action any time soon too?
We’re trying to organize a tour on next Spring. Not easy, these days. People are very afraid in planning something. We’ll see.

What should our readers do directly after reading this interview?
I can’t really say. Maybe hug your partner and tell him/her he/she’s precious?

Thanks for your time Jasper, it’s been a pleasure.
We Are You
Gioele Valenti/JuJu

Gioele Valenti

Smote- Drommon (2021 Rocket Recordings)

Take a look at the carvings on the totem that eyes you in the face on the new Smote album Drommon. What is a drommon you say? Well, can’t you see it when it hits you in the face like a smote?! Now take a look at this totem overhere and realize that this is a drommon; it is a piece of ritualistic, savage, unrestrained art, and Smote have just created a perfect soundtrack for it.

The album consists of four pieces: the lengthy droners Drommon parts 1 and 2, and two shorter songs Hauberk and Poleyn squeezed in the middle. It is probably best to just take your daily dose of Drommon as a whole though, because it works best as a forty minute meditative mindfulness journey.

All along the trip the mind wanders through distant lands, sweaty jungle swamps, and dark rituals around blazing camp fires, but never through Newcastle or Northern England. And yet that’s where these master cinematic repetitioners stem from. It is a testament to their ever expanding imagination that their take on instrumental music offers such wild and exotic images nevertheless. Makes you in part want to be witness to a live ritual, and in another part to stay far away from it to keep on visualizing these sounds in your own mind. Like reading a good book and being harrowed by the idea of distortion in the movie version.

So onwards reader, don’t let my mental images taint yours while listening to Smote’s excellent instrumental mind movie. Go forth and create one of your own.

Obey Cobra- Oblong (2021 vinyl release, Box Records)

Box Records is a record label I got to know about through weird pop collective Dorcha (reviewed here on the blog) whose debut album Honey Badger was seriously weird and seriously awesome at the same time. Above anything else it was impossible to categorize, which a quality Weirdo Shrine is always looking out for. Lucky for me Box Records did not leave me hanging for too long, because their new signing Obey Cobra does the weird and unfathomable thing again (and then some!) on their terrific debut album Oblong.

Oblong starts off with the majestic OK Ultra, a song like the ouverture to a sinister space abduction opera. It’s got angelic choral vocals, heavy doom-laden riffs, noisy guitars, and a whole lot of of spacey atmosphere.

Next is Capita, a completely different world now, much noisier, chaotically produced, noisy racket song. Like The Mae Shi and Savages got into a horrific bloody catfight or something. Followed by Sunflowers, which sounds more 90s shoegaze oriented, and forms a nice breath catcher after all that violence. Obey Cobra displays an impressive feminine vocal palette, basically allover the place and still all in service of the atmosphere of the song whether it’s spooky background choirs or distorted yelling. The overall atmosphere is dark, and abrasive, yet exciting and adventurous, without a dull moment in sight for miles…

Sophia Can’t Walk is a song that picks up the pace a little, with an anxious contemporary postpunk feel fitting right in with bands like Dry Cleaning, Drahla, and the likes. There’s a brooding tension in this song that builds up and up and eventually erupts in a magnificent shout fest catharsis. You just got to love the level of emotion and guts that are poured into it.

Which goes for Oblong as a whole: this is an album that does not give two cents about being hip or trendy or how high you should wear your trousers at the moment. It’s completely self-centered in the best of ways. Whether playing dark shoegaze, noisy doom pop, or jumpy postpunk, this band is completely in a world of their own. Be glad you are invited in…

K. Wood

I had the pleasure to be able to fire a couple of questions at the band, which were fired back by the band’s lead singer K Wood. Check out the result right here:

How are you right now, and how have you been doing the past Corona period?
Hi Jasper, we are all doing fine, individually busy over summer but it’s good! The past year
and forever has been a strange time but in relation to the band especially due to having
released our debut album ‘Oblong’ in April 2020 – pretty fresh into the first lockdown and not being able to travel outside of your own house let alone gigging and having the opportunity to perform the album further afield. It blows my mind that our last gig was Dec 2019?! Thankfully we have had a huge amount of support from both Box Records, who has just released the album to vinyl, and local music heroes at Buzz Magazine, Cosmic Carnage and Adam Walton on BBC Radio Wales. And it gave us a chance to be creative in different ways where we’ve made our own music videos for a lot of the tracks on the album which you can find on our YouTube channel.

Can you tell me what Obey Cobra stands for, who you are, and why you started a
band?

We like to view Obey Cobra as a collective, it’s heavily influenced by blending art and music.
We’re not rooted in one thing and people involved can change. When we first started, myself (K Wood) and Rory joined Gareth & Steveo and were called ‘Oblong’ – we were interested in mixing doom with synth pop. We used to play a lot of house shows across Cardiff and it was mainly an improvisational band. When Obey Cobra was formed with the addition of Rosie and Ian we were already more clear on what the debut album was going to be like.

Can you tell me about your musical backgrounds?
Everyone is deep-rooted into the South Wales DIY music scene coming from bands such as
Made of Teeth, Boris a Bono, Inanna Meets the Dawn

Who would you consider your creative kindred spirits?
Hugely – I think most of us are driven by creativity in most that we do, we’re made up of film
makers, artists, music producers, and a blacksmith (?!) & it feels like we really elevate each
other.

Did you start Obey Cobra with a set plan on what it would be, or is it more fluid?
Also; who or what decides what the direction is going to be?

We all have a say in what direction it goes in but it is very fluid, everyone writes music or has
a role to play and we constantly try to push our boundaries through improvisation and
developing ideas until we have something solid. Most of us take on the bedroom producer
approach with structures or first draft ideas and then bring it to the band where we then
rework the songs to suit us as a whole.

What was the best experience you have had as a band so far, and what are you still
looking forward to?

We have a lot of fun in most things that we do but when we recorded ‘Oblong’ we got the bare bones down at Foel Studio in Mid-Wales in a really remote cottage and studio space which was really amazing. We then used Rory’s family house to record the rest over a few
days and it got really experimental and weird where we were recording beat up cymbals
being thrown down stairs and wonky saxophone solos!

What are you guys talking about when you are not making music?
We can talk about everything, we are all really close friends but we often like to be creative
together and share things that have inspired or interested us.

What are your dreams about?
Too many bizarre, nightmarish things! We are working on writing a psychedelic short horror
film that is based around our dreams which we will film and do the soundtrack to so hold
tight and you’ll be able to delve right in.

What should Weirdo Shrine readers do immediately after reading this?
Go float in the nearest natural body of water to you.

Horte- Maa Antaa Yön Vaientaa (2021 Pelagic Records)

I had a super weird dream last night. I dreamt that Shakespeare’s Weird Sisters were at my bed singing their oracle hymns and probably predicting all kinds of ominous things for me. Except they sang in a weird language unknown to me, so I could not make anything out of it.

I woke up, checked my email, and found this new band called Horte in my inbox with a new outlandish album titled Maa antaa yon vaientaa. When I first listened to it I was immediately struck by lightning: this was the singing I heard in my dream.

I had already heard of this Finnish band, as they are related to one of my all time favorite Finnish bands Oranssi Pazuzu by their producer Juho Vanhanen, and through fellow dark psych brooders Dark Buddha Rising by the mix which was done by Saku Tamminen. Was I stoked? I was beyond that, this was an altogether mesmerizing experience.

Although their hazy psychedelics and weird atmospherics ties them together with their illustrious Finnish brethren, Horte plays some completely different music. Maa antaa yon vaientaa consists mostly of heavenly female vocals, fuzzy basslines, and songs that hold the line somewhere between modern Radiohead and Portishead. Just once, on Väisty Tieltä, they completely let go of all constraints and sound as erratic and otherworldly like Oranssi Pazuzu might, but mostly their sound is majestic and soothing.

I think presenting themselves as a shoegaze band, or a female vocal act in the vein of Chelsea Wolfe is selling Horte short actually, because what they have created here on this album is quite unique. It’s a psychedelic dream I like to dream some more, if only I knew what those Weird Sisters were singing…

Midwife- Luminol (2021 The Flenser)

I am alone in my room listening to Midwife‘s latest album Luminol and I feel pretty mixed up. On the one hand this is stunningly beautiful music and unlike anything I have ever heard. On the other hand, it’s making me close the curtains, curl up into a ball and never leave this corner of my room ever again…

Luminol has a very melancholic wide-screen cinematic feel to it. Though I can’t confirm it, I swear they used it on the German Netflix series Dark in moments when time seemed to stand still and the main characters came to their most profound and dramatic realizations about life and time itself. This is slow music, with low, plodding beats and long stretched out distorted vocalizations. For all its soundscape-y qualities the songs on Luminol are all very well written with stellar built ups and vocal hooks that will stay with you for a long time. And again I have a moment of deja vu where I swear I heard the lyrics of 2020 before in The Offspring‘s Gone Away….must be me though.

Melancholy, mystery, sedation, fake memories, mystification, all feelings are in place experiencing Midwife’s Luminol. It is one of those albums you have to take some time off for, undergoing its magic in the dark like a floatation tank experience. Another wonderfully weird release by The Flenser!

Kaouenn- Mirages (2021 Atypeek Music/Beautiful Losers/BloodySound Fucktory/Ph37 Soundlab)

I wish I could say I was a strong minded individual who could not be bribed by delicious vinyl to do write ups. I am really not though. Besides, when you give me vinyl and also make incredibly cool experimental trip music like Kaouenn did I would love to shout your name from the rooftops, it’s why the Weirdo Shrine was raised god damn it!!!

So about this LP. With Mirages this French single person entity Kaouenn has seriously stepped on something powerful while experimenting with ancient Eastern tribal rhythms, a beatbox and his guitars. Musically the album meanders from subtle Pink Floyd-y reverbisms to heavy danceable blues beats reminiscent of My Baby. Jazz definitely plays a role here too, with horns (or horn-like synths?) and smooth technical noodlings. Everything is balanced out with perfectly skillful musicianship and executed with a unique and mind-blowing flair and style. And it seems a good record to smoke herb too, but that’s purely an assumption on my part of course.

Mirages is an album you can easily visualize played out live at a beach in Southern Italy; people gather around this masked multi instrumentalist, toke up, dance a little dance, float up in space, and just experience some really good vibes. The reverb naturally meshes up with the soft rumbling of the waves, and at the grand finale the artist disappears with flash and a bang…was it all a mirage?

The Holy Family- S/T review + Q&A (2021 Rocket Recordings)

The Holy Family is a new art music project by members of Guapo, and their debut album is a wonderful dreamy forest walk of adventurous freak folk chants and shamanistic mumblings wrapped in thick clouds of purple smoke. It is really beside any point to reference this work to other music, the point is more to take it in with your third eye opened up as wide as mentally possible and let the concept engulf you.

The term freak folk has been coined before, but never really justly. Just listen to this record and realize why. The album unfolds to the listener as some kind of strange magical realistic children’s book, with lots of colorful pictures and a completely different feel to each page. though its nature is narrative, how the story goes exactly remains completely up to the listener. The Holy Family has written a deep trip, but it is lighter than heavy trips usually are. It is a magical wonderland you can visit when you feel like, and be on your way again when you leave. It is a unique experience, and I just had to talk its mastermind David Smith. Here is what he had to say:

David Smith

How have you been? How have you been keeping yourself in these troubled times? 
FORTUNATE AND THANKFUL THAT I’VE BEEN ABLE TO KEEP A ROOF OVER MY HEAD FOR SURE AND COMPLETING THIS MONSTER OF A NEW RECORD HAS BEEN A MUCH NEEDED DISTRACTION AND HELPED KEEP ME SANE…..

My word, this new album of yours is an incredible album! So much happening, so many different styles and directions! Could you sketch me your band and own your musical background that would lead to such an album?

I THINK FOR PEOPLE THAT ARE FAMILIAR WITH MY WORK WITH GUAPO AND THE STARGAZER’S ASSISTANT YOU CAN PLOT A PATHWAY THROUGH THE STARS THAT LEADS TO THIS ALBUM.


Most of you guys were in the band Guapo, right? What made you start a new project, Guapo is already so genre-bending, why did you feel the need to start a new project for The Holy Family?

YES, THIS RECORD FEATURES THE LAST LINEUP OF GUAPO AND WE BEGAN RECORDINGS FOR THIS RECORD BACK IN 2018 STILL UNDER THAT NAME TO SOME EXTENT. GUAPO HAS ALWAYS CENTRED AROUND THE DRUM KIT AND ONE OR MORE MEMBERS OF THE GROUP WRITING THE MATERIAL AND THEN THE WHOLE GROUP REHEARSING INTENSIVELY PRIOR TO GOING INTO THE STUDIO. THE HOLY FAMILY ALBUM BEGAN AS A SERIES OF LENGTHY FULL GROUP IMPROVISATIONS THAT I THEN WORKED ON ALONE FOR THE MOST PART. ADDED TO THIS THE FACT THAT HAND PERCUSSION AND DRUM SYNTHESIZER’S TAKE PRECEDENCE OVER THE DRUM KIT AND THE USE OF VOCALS MADE IT QUITE A MAJOR SHIFT EVEN FOR US. 25 YEARS HAS BEEN A PRETTY GOOD INNINGS FOR GUAPO TOO SO IT’S EXCITING TO BE STARTING A NEW CHAPTER……


Did you have a plan or concept when you started The Holy Family? Like ground rules, or a common starting point, or perhaps even a story that you wanted to tell? The album feels very much like a story unfolding, that’s why I ask….

 WELL, ONLY IN THE SENSE THAT WE HAD DECIDED TO START A NEW RECORDING PURELY THROUGH IMPROVISATION AND THAT IT WOULD NOT BE CENTERED AROUND THE DRUM KIT. (AT LEAST TO BEGIN WITH) WE WERE RECORDING LIVE IN THE SAME ROOM SO THIS NATURALLY LENT ITSELF MORE TOWARDS USING HAND PERCUSSION, ACOUSTIC GUITAR, ACOUSTIC PIANO ETC…  THE “UNFOLDING STORY” AND SUBSEQUENT ARRANGEMENT OF THE MATERIAL CAME LATER BUT I’M GLAD IT COMES ACROSS THAT WAY TO YOU AS THAT WAS THE INTENTION.


What can you tell me about the lyrical concept? 
IT’S AN INCREDIBLY PSYCHEDELIC MURDER MYSERY TALE!


What was your main inspiration for this album lyrically, and what was your inspiration musically? 

THE LYRIC/STORYLINE IS VERY MUCH INSPIRED BY THE WRITINGS OF ANGELA CARTER, MOST NOTABLY HER REIMAGINING OF CLASSIC FAIRY TALES FROM HER COLLECTION OF SHORT STORIES ‘THE BLOODY CHAMBER’. ALONG WITH DOROTHEA TANNING’S NOVEL, CHASM: A WEEKEND. 
THE BANDS NAME IS TAKEN FROM ANGELA CARTERS LAST WORK – A TV DOCUMENTARY CALLED THE HOLY FAMILY ALBUM.
DELVING INTO THE WORLD OF DRUM SYNTHESIZER’S AND TAKING THE PLUNGE TO SING ON IT WERE THE KEY TO TURNING THIS RECORD AROUND AND INSPIRING ME TO FOCUS MUSICALLY. 


Can you tell me about the recording process? It feels like you guys were recording during a trip in the woods, but I guess that wouldn’t have made for such an incredible sound haha…

THE INTIAL RECORDING SESSION WAS PRETTY MUCH LIKE THAT ACTUALLY EXCEPT WE WERE IN A HOUSE IN THE COUNTRY NOT RECORDING OUTDOORS IN THE WOODS. IT WAS WINTERTIME!
WE RECORDED SEVERAL HOURS OF IMPROVISATIONS OVER A WEEKEND THAT WERE THEN GRADUALLY HONED DOWN TO WHAT I THOUGHT WAS USABLE MATERIAL. I THEN BEGAN WORK ON AN INSTRUMENTAL ARRANGEMENT BUT OVER THE COURSE OF A COUPLE OF MONTHS IT JUST DID NOT COME TOGETHER SO I SHELVED IT FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR. DURING THIS PERIOD I BEGAN EXPERIMENTING WITH THE AFOREMENTIONED DRUM SYNTHESIZER’S FOR THE FIRST TIME AND WENT BACK TO THE RECORDINGS WITH THESE NEW TOYS. THIS INJECTED A FRESHNESS AND RENEWED ENTHUSIASM AND PUSHED ME INTO CREATING A LYRICAL THEME AND FROM THEN ON THE WHOLE RECORD CAME TOGETHER.


Would you say you are a “psychedelic” band? Can you explain why/why not?
VERY PSYCHEDELIC IN THE BROADEST FUTURE SOUND SENSE YES! AS OPPOSED TO A RETRO NOD TO 6O’S PSYCHEDELIA ETC… 


Who are your kindred spirit(s)?
I HAVE NO IDEA! WHAT DO YOU THINK?

What are you going to do immediately after the pandemic is over, and what are your long-term goals?
HUG MY FRIENDS AND FAMILY A WHOLE BUNCH AND ROLL WITH THE PUNCHES…… FINGERS CROSSED WE’LL GET TO PERFORM AS THE HOLY FAMILY LIVE SOMETIME TOO!   WILL IT EVER BE OVER THOUGH? WILL IT??!!!!!

Taras Bulba- Sometimes The Night (2021 Riot Season Records)

Sometimes to be by yourself is the best thing you can be. Take Fred Lair’s alter ego band Taras Bulba; on this third outing he once again displays an amount of artistic freedom and genre-stretching many other multi-headed “collectives” would start personal wars about. In Taras Bulba mr Laird is master and king, and so the ship sails where he wills it, even if it means threading the weirdest and remotest territories.

For instance, I don’t even know how to genre-tag this. I hear shards of Nick Cave, Gallon Drunk, and other dark and avant-garde rock music. Of course Laird’s Earthling Society space rock background is ever present as well, but Sometimes The Night is more about atmosphere and cinematics than about tripping balls. Even though it is probably very possible to trip balls on it too, don’t ask me, I’m just a innocent bystander trying to tell you what I hear…

Fred Laird

Trying to fit into words what is on display here is difficult enough of a task indeed. There are reverb-drenched surf-y guitars abound, carnivalesque organs, sparse moments of beautiful female vocals, trippy off-kilter percussion, and loads of quirky and adventurous melodies worming their way inside your skull. Unhindered by any superficial image worries or genre boundaries Taras Bulba soundtracks a dark movie that does not exist yet. It has become a movie David Lynch would have wished he directed, and an experience that is probably better lived through than written about.

Dark as it is, ultimately it radiates some light as well. For if one lonely guy in lockdown can make art like this, we as a species can never be truly lost.

Iceburn- Asclepius (2021 Southern Lord)

Iceburn, or The Iceburn Collective as they called themselves back in the day, takes me back a great deal. All the way to 1997 and little punk me discovering them on the In Flight Program sampler by hardcore label Revelation Records. Iceburn was the odd duck on that compilation, playing some of the most intriguing stuff ever somewhere between jazz, metal, and postrock. Totally ahead of their time too, and of course criminally underrated. The band disbanded in 2000 and members went on in bands like Eagle Twin and Ascend…but now after 20 years they are back!

For their comeback album Asclepius (named after the Greek god of medicine) the band wrote just two songs. However, both tracks stretch themselves for about 18 minutes, so the album is still pretty much a full length affair. It doesn’t become quite clear whether Iceburn forged these tracks completely on improvisation alone, some of these riffs just seem too strong to have been crafted on the spot. Iceburn has been known to improvise a lot before though, and there is definitely an element of adventurist “let’s see where this riff takes us” vibe present.

Like his other heavy doom outlet Eagle Twin, Iceburn’s music on Asclepius is mostly riff based, with doom-y beardo chants. References to bands like Om, Sleep, and Melvins are justified. There is however a deeper layer to these tunes, with strange rhythmic patterns and outlandish song structure that firmly establishes their own place among their peers. On Dahlia Rides The Firebird there’s an underlying element of Greek folk mysticism that serves as its red threat. In the end, the versatility of these songs makes them easy to listen to, even considering their great length.

The overarching theme on Asclepius is healing, which is a quite magical coincidence considering the fact that they wrote it before Corona times. Nevertheless its message is welcome; healing is always possible, just take the time it needs. Iceburn lives by that message through these songs and their length, but also by returning back to their original form after 20 years of silence. A lot has changed in heavy music over the years while they were absent. Perhaps now the world is finally ready for them?