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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: Permanent Clear Light – Right As Rain (2023, Sulatron Records)

With the new Motorpsycho album Yay on the brink of coming out, an album that was produced by members of Dungen and clearly embedded into the famous “Stockholm sound”, I thought it was a good time to revisit some of that other stuff Reine Fiske produced like Melody’s Echo Chamber or Trad Gras Och Stenar, but then I got this little gem from Sulatron Records. Not from Norway, or Sweden this time, but from their Northern neighbours Finland comes Permanent Clear Light, and the ties to all the above mentioned bands is undeniable.

Named after the endless daytime in the upper Northern parts of Scandinavia, their moniker is not the only thing that links them to that part of the world. Right As Rain is a mild, warm, and breezy album with nods to the past and present. I already mentioned the link to the Stockholm Sound and Dungen, but there is more of course. Right As Rain has a strong electronic vibe as well, carried by the heavy use of synths and even beats that at times transport the listener back to the 80s and bands like Talk Talk, or OMD.

It is a thin line between pop and (indie) rock that Permanent Clear Light walks, but they expertly manage to walk on the right side each time. Their expert level musical skills and the psychedelic warmth this album radiates each time you spin it make you return each time and bask in its layered wealth. I am happy I am not forced to choose between the new Motorpsycho album and Right As Rain, let’s just count ourselves lucky there are so many good albums coming out at this time of our existence. In my head, there is always room for one more.

Ready to make an acquaintance with this Finnish trio, I was shocked to find out it might also be a goodbye. For after releasing their new album Right As Rain on Sulatron Records in May, Permanent Clear Light is going on a “break” to discover new horizons as musicians. We are just in time to still get to know them though, so let’s jump in, vocalist Matti Laitinen leads the way…

How are you? How has the pandemic period been for Permanent Clear Light?                                                                           

 I spent most of the pandemic quite isolated in Madrid. In Finland everything was a lot freer. So I traveled to Finland for the summers and we were able to spend a couple of weeks together with the band.

Can you introduce the band, and how did you meet, etc?

We were originally four, but Jussi, a classically trained guitar player, decided to leave the group very early. We have known each other for a very long time and used to be together in odd groups that played a variety of music. Markku (Helin) played earlier in a folk rock band, Arto (Kakko) has played fusion, jazz, rockabilly etc. He has a music education background, plays all kinds of instruments and is a pro with computers. I have always been into melodies and I love punk, for example. When we were young, we played together in a band called Mandrax that was very retro-rock and loud.

What can you tell me about your musical backgrounds?

I more or less answered that already. Arto is the one who has an educational background in music. Markku and I are self-educated. Markku has a very profound knowledge of psychedelic rock. Arto is more into jazz and I am the pop- guy.

What does a regular day in your lives look like?

Arto and I live in Helsinki and we work together a lot on different projects. We have a side-act called Gila Waters, a really traditional, simple rock band. Arto also plays the guitar in a jazz band. Markku lives in Central Finland, Jyväskylä, to take care of his elderly mother. Markku is really into equipment and has a collection of guitars, amps, synths and pedals. He also has an immense record collection.

What is the best thing about Right As Rain?

I think we managed to take off some of the extra steam to do something more peaceful, folky. I really like the idea of the album being an entity. I also like the Finn-prog elements that we managed to slip there. The album somehow goes from innocence to ugly, but still ends with hope. 

What can you tell me about your relationship with Sulatron Records and Sula Bassana? 

We got together when we were looking for someone to put out Cosmic Comics. Markku (Helin) is the one who is mostly in contact with Dave at Sulatron. We send them the material and Dave gives his opinion and we make the changes he wants us to make. Usually he is right, so it’s not a problem for us to make the changes. As a whole, working with him has been really easy. It is enjoyable to read his comments that often go to details.

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

I live in Helsinki and so does Arto (Kakko). We are in contact on a daily basis, because we have other music projects together. We have a side band and we are also making music with lyrics in Finnish. Markku lives in Central Finland in Jyväskylä. During the summer I spend a lot of time at my country house, which is close to where Markku lives. We’ve been doing a lot of the recording at Markku’s summer house, which is situated in a remote place in the middle of a forest by a lake. We spend a few days at a time separated from the rest of the world.

Who are some contemporary musical heroes of yours?

I personally listen very little to music nowadays, but I like bands like Midlake, Fleet Foxes and Dungen. Markku listens to contemporary psychedelia, but I think he is more into 60s psychedelic music. His favourite bands are the likes of Van der Graaf Generator and King Crimson, but also contemporary bands like Temples. Arto is into jazz, but I think he is open to all sorts of interesting music.

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

Most of the compositions are Arto’s. I then add the lyrics and Markku provides his musical ideas. Then we turn this material up and down, record some preliminary versions, change what needs to be changed, add things, take off things, make new versions etc. This can actually take a very long time. Then we get together for a recording session that takes a few days.

On Right as Rain I provided only one of the compositions and so did Markku, but you can still hear our ideas in all of the material. Markku also affects the entire soundscape of the material. In this I more or less rely on the view of the others.

What are your immediate and long term future plans?

To be honest, I think we are going to take a break with the band now. It is not because we would disagree on anything musically, but we just feel that considering the effort we have put in the band, we need to take a rest. At least, this is the feeling we have now. Markku is interested in creating something more abstract, completely different from traditional rock. Me and Arto are going to continue with our Finnish project. All this doesn’t mean that it would be impossible for PCL to work together in the future, if we find the inspiration to do so. Anyway, we are very good friends with each other and we’ll keep meeting on a regular basis, so you never know.

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

Get the albums, of course. The first two can be reached through   digital music services like Spotify, if you can’t get the vinyl or the CD. Right as rain is at the moment available only on vinyl, for example directly from Sulatron Records.

Review + Q&A: Maragda – The Reckless/Evil Seed EP (2023, Spinda Records/Nafra Records)

A little while ago we announced this little live EP by Barcelona’s Maragda. Now the time has come to dive a little deeper into what the band has on offer. The EP will be out soon, and the band embarks on a European tour in support of it. If you look at the video below you will get an idea of what that will look like.

The music shows a labour of love by this band, in which they combine all of their favorite rock flavours into one smooth and tightly executed cluster bomb. There are clear traces of old school metal present, but without the gimmick or the make up. Standing out more perhaps is the lush way the band makes room for psychedelic guitar licks and solos, in a way that makes the whole thing quite unusual in a refreshing fashion.

But hey, better to watch that agenda and witness for yourself. This two song EP is just a glimpse of what Maragda can do so you better stay focussed and don’t miss out when they play you town in the near future…

Introduction time! Let’s see what these Barcelona natives are all about then, shall we? The threesome consisting of Marçal Itarte (bass, vocals), Guilem Tora (guitar, vocals) and Xavi Pasqual (drums) is ready to take over the scene and shows a pretty hungry attitude. Here is Maragda.

How are you? How was the pandemic period  for Maragda?

Hey! We are all fine. Maragda was still a work in progress during the pandemic. The original tracks were already writen by our bassist, and the pandemic just made it a bit more difficult to meet up and rehearse/produce these songs. As the band wasn’t touring yet, and the first record was still to be released, we believe the pandemic did not hit us as hard as it did with other bands or other music projects we are involved in.

Can you introduce the band, and how did you meet, etc, ?

Guillem and Marçal (we) used to live in the same town as a kids, we were friends and played football in a highschool team. At some point we were flatmates too, and we also had a music project together as teenagers. Maragda came some years after, it was a project in Marçal’s head and asked Guillem about being the guitarrist. He was cool with it but we did not have a drummer, so Guillem asked a drummer he knew, and he suggested Xavi as someone who could fit. We reached him out and he jumped in! At that point we started working on the original tracks, and eventually the first record arrived. The the first shows, then a short EU tour, and now this live EP. Busy times at Maragda!

What can you tell me about your musical backgrounds?

Guillem is really into 70’s rock. Of course he listens to other stuff, but he is a Led Zep fanboy and everybody knows it!. Marçal used to navigate different genres of metal and rock music, with a strong influence of desert, stoner and psychedelic rock. Xavi listens tomany different genres of music. 

What does a regular day in your lives look like?

We think our regular day is the average regular day of a working class 30-35 y/o dude. The tree of us have our jobs and family. Guillem is teaching guitar lessons, recording guitars and playing live with some bands. Xavi is a graphic designer and Marçal works as a social worker. Nothing special here, except the ability to combine obligations with music projection and many other activities we might do to feel alive. Xavi summarixes it like this “Work until 6pm, arrive at home, make the laundry, make the dinner, maybe hangout with friends, maybe read some pages of a book, go to sleep.”

What can you tell me about the relationship with your labels Spinda and Nafra Records?Berto of Spinda Records has always helped out Maragda, since the first moment. We reached him out shortly after we recieved our mastered tracks and he decided to participate in the first vinyl edition of our first record. That comes with so many promotionan work and advise. We can’t thank him enough and we are aware the band is going places thanks to his work.

About Nafra Records, this is a DIY non profit project that our bassist started a few years ago, together with two friends. They basically contribute funding vinyl edition of local bands, sell them, help promoting the band and occasionally booking some shows. That money is 100% destined to press other vinyl editions for other bands, and keeping thw wheel turning somehow.

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

Xavi lives in a town called Sant Celoni. It’s a big town or a very small city. There is some cultural activity there, and so many musicians. Even though they are not specificaly centered in psychedelic rock as us, the activity is quite notable for a town of that size. Marçal lives in Granollers, which is quite bigger, but paradoxically there is not so many activity as in Sant Celoni. Or at least we feel it’s like that. Guillem, on the other hand, lives in Barcelona, where so many things happen at the same time, and where you have to wisely choosw what show you will attend, as you will be missing others at the same time.

Who are some contemporary musical heroes of yours?

Guillem’s heroes are LedZep, no discussion about that. Marçal is a declarate fanboy of Motorpsycho, and recently he’s also digging into the producer’s side of artists like Omar Rodriguez of Mars Volta or Kurt Ballou of Converge. Xavi’s ones would be Red Hot Chili Peppers, King Gizzard, Berri Txarrak, he has a wide range actually. 

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

The first record was approached more like a production process of already written songs, or at least, original ideas that were demo-ed. We used to meet periodically to work on each part of these original ideas. We set some deadlines and booked a recording studio for a few months later. That way we ended up having our first record recorded in about seven months. The new songs are a bit of a combination of working styles. Some of them are ideas we play at our rehearsal room, jamming riffs and all that stuff. For example, in this new EP, “The Reckless” is a song that was originally jammed and almost 100% completed in the rehearsal room. “Evil Seed”‘s harmony was born in a rehearsal, and then Marçal took it home and developed a bit, developing a vocal melody and song structure to the next rehearsal, and then work it together a bit more.

What are your immediate and long term future plans?

We believe there are a few processes going by at the same time. Probably the most immediate is to have a succesful release of this live EP. By succesful we mean to sell some copies and make people be curious about it, and spin it, share it, you know.
Our not so immediate plan (but “getting close plan”) is our upcoming EU tour, which will happen in August. We are really excited to be part of the almighty Krach am Bach festival, together with sick bands we love; and we are also very happy to have the chance to tour Europe once again, including new countries like Switzerland and Germany. Last, but not least, we are into iour long term future plan, which is the crafting of what will be our next LP. We are writing new songs slow but steady, and we are expectant of what will be the result of this cool process.

What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do after reading this interview?The best for us would be that you (the reader) listen to our music and support the band if you like what you hear!! But the best for you would be just listening to yourself and do whatever the F you want. That is one of the healthiest things in live!

Review + Q&A: Mirror Revelations – Aura (2023, Little Cloud Recordings/Cardinal Fuzz)

As I am gazing at the gates of my fortieth year on this planet I have my own idea of what a mirror revelation could entail. Somehow your brain tricks yourself into being this godlike twenty-something creature, but the mirror always reveals the truth, warts and all. But what do Mexico’s duo Mirror Revelations know about that? They are still young and beautiful. And with a record like Aura in their pockets, life seems to beam a ray of heavenly sunshine in their faces.

That ray of sunlight does have to pierce through all kinds of tightly drawn up veils though, as Aura is not a shiny happy little record. It is a glowing beauty, but its shimmer is buried deep under layers of reverb, tape delay, and synth meddling. This is a band who loves their synthesizers and clearly know how to use them. Through their dark weaving and raving they create fuzzy gothic tinged wave pop, that will appeal to dancing darkies into Ladytron, Tuxedomoon, My Bloody Valentine, and Vive La Fete. All played with a psychedelic tropic twist though, so don’t be expecting any copycats lurking here.

Aura dances in the dark, blowing smoke in our faces, while we get lost in a hazy rainforest. It is a mystical, magical dream of a record, that you can play over an over again and discover new images in. Once again Mexico steps up psychedelically, and adds a glimpse of dreamy wonder to the table. Thanks Mirror Revelations, I needed this reflection of what psychedelica can still be in this day and age.

I talked to the dynamic duo of Mirror Revelations. They are Gabriela Alcalá and Alam Castillo. Together they live in Mexico where they weave dreams into songs. Their new album Aura is just on of the many reasons to want to get to know them.

How are you? How was the pandemic period for Mirror Revelations?

The pandemic period was tough for us. We both work independently so our income was affected. But we found time to create and, above all, reconnect with music that we had saved. 

Can you introduce the band, and how did you meet, etc?

Mirror Revelations is a never-ending journey, where we explore sounds and most importantly textures, and we absolutely love it. We talked a lot about what Mirror Revelations means to us and we both agree that we want to talk about topics that we’re really passionate about and that we think people would be interested in. However, we also want the sound to be open to interpretation when people listen to it. During the pandemic, Gaby was doing an online program about feminism in Mexico, and that’s when we started talking and realized we had a lot in common. Of course, one of those things was music, so we started creating together.

What can you tell me about your musical backgrounds?

I (Alam) studied percussion at the State of Mexico Music Conservatory, but honestly, I never felt very comfortable in any school. I always felt like a foreigner. So, I started studying Guitar and Keyboard on my own, and on those instruments, I began making very basic compositions. It wasn’t until I got to college that I was able to explore the vibraphone more and my teacher gave me the opportunity to present some pieces I had composed for that instrument. During this time, I realized that what I was most passionate about was creating music. So, again on my own, I started studying synthesis and music production. I played in bands as a drummer, bassist, and guitarist, but none of them lasted. I also started an electronic music project where noise and minimalism were the most important things to me. This project is still going, but I paused it when I started focusing on Mirror Revelations.

I (Gaby) studied digital art for a while, but like Alam, I always felt somewhat strange there, haha. I dropped out of that major and studied graphic design instead. In this major, I also discovered that I really enjoyed photography, so I specialized in that as well. “Fine art” photography is my favorite type, and it’s what we currently try to include on the covers of Mirror R. I also took courses in piano and bass, but I liked the synthesizer much more.

What does a regular day in your lives look like?

Our days are pretty normal, really. We like to meditate in the mornings, play with our cat Dorit, and have breakfast together. We start working and in the evening we get together again to watch movies, play some music, or just relax together.

What is the best thing about Aura?

The opportunity to express part of our journey, life, thoughts, and feelings through sounds.

What can you tell me about how you ended up with the Little Cloud label? 

We ended up with Little Cloud thanks to a great friend who recommended us to them! He shared our Bandcamp and from there we shared the album we had recorded, Little Cloud liked it and we started working together. They’re really great people and we’re very grateful and honored to belong to a record label where bands we admire also belong.

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

We live in Toluca, State of Mexico, very close to Mexico City. But actually, we were both born and raised in Mexico City. There aren’t many places to play music in Toluca, however, in Mexico City, there is a lot of diversity. We have loved meeting people who make incredible music, artists of all kinds who are doing great things.

Who are some contemporary musical heroes of yours?

Jim Jarmusch and his duo Sqürl

Concepción Huerta

Samuel Osorio from Sunset Images

Lorena and Beto from Lorelle Meets The Obsolete

Ripley Johnson from Moon Duo and Wooden Shjips

Victoria Legrand from Beach House

And so on!

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

Our way of composing is diverse. Sometimes it all starts with a phrase we like, an image, a philosophy or a general theme. Then we think about what sounds can evoke that theme, and usually, we compose the drums first. Another way is through jamming. We start playing and at some point, something may catch our attention, like a synth or guitar, a certain melodic line with the vocals. Our recording process is 100% home-based. Usually, we first record the drums and bass, then add synths and guitar, and finally, we add vocals if the song requires them.

What are your immediate and long term future plans?

The next thing for us is to play with Los Mundos in some states of our country. We have some gigs in our beloved Mexico City and, above all, we want to schedule dates to promote our first album “Aura.” We’re also finishing an EP that we want to feature some collaborations, and we’d love to save up to go play in the UK where we were invited next year.

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

You should go listen to our latest tracks Ficción and Luvina

Review + Q&A: Adam Camm – Mirror, Mirror (2023, self-released)

On his debut album Mirror, Mirror Adam Camm from London takes us all the way back to 1970s New York and the new wave scene of CBGBs with bands like Richard Hell and the Voidods, Television, Talking Heads, Patti Smith, and Blondie. The music really represents that half-cheering/half-serious vibe and is similarly irresistible in its jumpy danceability.

The production and execution of these tunes is wonderfully jingly jangly, and played with a looseness that is hardly ever heard these days. Not unlike Richard Hell, Adam Camm himself is not always super solid on his high notes, but he can deliver a message. Where Hell’s message was one of punk, doom and the blank generation, Camm’s messages are closer to his heart with more universal themes. Musically the album is quite diverse, varying from uptempo rockers to Kinks-y ballads, and Bowie-esque crooners. All very much rooted in the 70s, as you might have noticed by now…

Overall Mirror, Mirror is a nice little trip down memory lane that will fit right in with your other alternative rock albums from the mid 70s. So to all the modern dandies, T-Rex and Bowie adepts; here’s your new favorite band!

A solid DIY production is always worth supporting, and for Mirror,Mirror Adam Camm did most of the work and creation all by himself. Strangely enough no label was involved either, so here is presenting this cool album of his all by his lonesome. It does give the man all the credits as well, and credits are due, because Mirror, Mirror is highly enjoyable. So let’s meet Adam and see what he is all about!

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

Hi, I’m very good thank you. 

I think the pandemic, whilst troubling in so many ways, did give some musicians the time to try out new things and work on writing more than perhaps they possibly could before. It was during the pandemic that I wrote and recorded my debut solo EP Echo Chamber and then shortly afterwards, began work on what was to be my debut solo album Mirror, Mirror.

Whilst Mirror, Mirror isn’t really influenced by the pandemic in the same way that the EP was, it might not have happened had I not had the time and opportunity to focus on my solo outing.

Can you introduce yourself, how did you start your career, etc? 

My name is Adam Camm and I was born in Bristol, England but have lived in London since the late 2000’s. I’ve been a musician since I was at school when I started my first band and have had a few different bands since then. After taking a break for a few years in the late 2010’s I got back into writing and recording which spurred me to complete and number of projects including the one I’m now talking to you about.

What can you tell me about your musical background?

My earliest memories are watching glam rock videos with my dad. Being brought up on a diet of Bowie and Bolan and then getting into other artists like the Beatles and Stones from a pretty young age has stuck with me and that’s undoubtedly heard in my music. Then when Britpop came around and Oasis hit the scene, that was when I started to take music seriously and play rather than just being a consumer.

What does a regular day in your life look like?

Sadly, my music is yet to pay my bills so I do have a day job which luckily for me helps to keep me in instruments, records and everything else.

I have a dog, a Norwegian Buhund, called Bergen who is shown by my partner, Marie. He recently won Best of Breed at Crufts so he tends to steal the limelight!

Outside of that I enjoy watching my football team Bristol Rovers and watching the England national team at home and abroad when possible.

What is the best thing about Mirror,Mirror?

I think it’s the best sounding record I’ve made. I don’t like how many modern records sound. I wanted this to have that rough vintage edge and I really think it has that. I’m very happy with the mixes by Steve Cornell and the mastering by Ben at Rare Tone Mastering is excellent. He made sure to run it through his huge range of analogue outboard gear and you can really hear the difference.

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

As I said, I live in London which obviously has a rich music history. However, I think that it’s becoming less friendly to musicians with the closure of venues and the cost of living and being a musician.

I aim to play a few gigs this year but I haven’t done anything since 2016 live because of the costs and the difficulties involved.

Who are some contemporary musical heroes of yours?

Probably my most favourite band that has come out in the last five years or so is The Lemon Twigs. Obviously their sound and aesthetic fits right in with my tastes, but I admire their mentality too. Having such a big hit first album and then deciding to do a double album musical about a monkey going to school takes some balls!

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

I was lucky to go through a couple of hot streaks for this album. I often write and record at the same time in my home studio. I had a couple of ideas that I was determined to flesh out and finish, but the vast majority of the songs were conceived and recorded relatively quickly. 

Anything can inspire a song. It could be a lick, a riff or a turn of phrase that inspires a lyric. Sometimes it comes to me quickly and other times I just need to play about and see what happens!

What are your immediate and long term future plans?

My immediate plans are to support the album with a few gigs. I have a band and we’ll start rehearsing with a plan to do some gigs in the latter part of the year.

Longer term, I will continue to write music and record with my solo project and also my other projects I have. I’d like to do a few collaborations at some point with friends and other musicians I’ve connected with through social media so this won’t be the last thing I do for sure!

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

I’d like them to listen to Mirror, Mirror. I hope they enjoy it, and most of all… Stay weird!

Review + Q&A: Doug Tuttle – Keeping Alive (2023, Echodelick Records)

Doug Tuttle‘s laid back fuzzed out slacker pop might not sell as many records as like-minded spirits such as Kurt Vile, Eels or Jonathan Wilson, but that has nothing to do with the quality of his songs or his skilled performance. Keeping Alive is yet another example of why life can be pretty damn unfair in that respect.

Then again, there is no art without suffering, and Tuttle’s music might have lacked the subtle melancholy that is so striking about his performance were he more rich and successful. The why of it remains a big question mark though, because the ten songs on Keeping Alive are all major earworms, sung straight from the heart, and with plenty of character to make them stand out from a crowd.

The slight psychedelic haze makes it perfect music to play out on your porch, preferably in a hammock, reflecting on life, and realizing it is not so bad. We are alive, we keep ourselves afloat, and we are here in the summer evening on our own porch sitting back and enjoying good music. So from this perspective I’d like to raise my beer to Doug Tuttle and say “cheers man, thank you for keeping alive and penning these fine tunes”. You are being heard, at least by this little Shrine Weirdo.

I find Doug Tuttle at his home in the Boston area, where he builds guitar pedals for a living. Like a lot of contemporary musicians, he is struggling to get by from his music. All the more reason to shine a light on his music and his person in praise of the creative talent that is Doug Tuttle and is latest creation Keeping Alive.

How are you? How was the pandemic period for you?

Hey! The pandemic for myself and lots of other folks who either are at high risk/have folks in their lives at high risk is still very much an ongoing thing. The first year or so felt hopeful, and there seemed to be some sort of coming together/people looking out for one another, but the more time passes, the clearer it’s become how little the US government cares about the disabled community. 

Can you introduce yourself and your music? 

My name is Doug Tuttle (He/Him), I currently release records under my birth name. A number of years ago I was a part of the band MMOSS. Pre pandemic I also played bass in Mayo Thompson’s band. I’ve been writing and recording by myself for the past decade or so, and have 5 LPs, and EP, and a 7” to show for it. 

What can you tell me about your musical background?

I got my first guitar around 6-7 as a gift from my mom’s cousin and her husband. I started playing in bands at around 12 years old, picked up the drums around 15 and played in countless short lived groups over the years. At 17 I started taking out electronics books from the library and teaching myself to design/build guitar effects/electronic musical instruments. 

What does a regular day in your life look like?

I wake up some time between 8-9, take my medication and make coffee, walk 10 feet to the room were I work and build any pedal orders I may have (my day job: Once that’s done I might sit around and play guitar, record a little, or build something musical/electronic for myself. Around 6 I make dinner for myself and my partner, at 7:30 I watch Jeopardy. At 9:30 I start smoking weed and watch TV/play guitar till I fall asleep. On the weekends my partner and I generally go for a hike.

What is the best thing about Keeping Alive?

Oh, I don’t know. It’s hard to get excited/have an accurate assessment of anything I put out at this point. The music world is so beyond shot, that it seems something will always pop up and make you/your music feel worthless no matter what you’re putting out/your original relationship with it. Over all I’m happy with the record, and so far only regret releasing one of the songs.

What can you tell me about its general message?

The current state of the US runs though all of it in one way or another -the rise of fascism, greedy landlords, over development, the seemingly purposeful dissolving of any sort of culture not based on nationalism, hatred or other-izing the marginalized.

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

I live in the Boston area. It was once a great place to live, with a thriving community for nearly anything you could dream up. Now 99% of the people I know have been forced out/there’s little left to like here. We’re hoping to move away from the city at some point, but life circumstances have kept us here for the time being. 

Before the rents shot up I was able to play/record drums in my apartment during the day which always felt like a pretty huge victory. Now years into the heavy handed gentrification that’s been running ramped it’s not really doable, so my last few records have programmed drums. That’s the only direct influence of the city I can think of. 

Who are some contemporary musical heroes of yours?

I honestly don’t listen to music too often these days, and when I do it’s the same 5 records I’ve listened to over and over most of my adult life. Getting kind of bored of the rich kids from the north playing country music vibe that’s going round these days/hoping for someone new to shake things up. 

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

My songs almost always start as a chord progression that catches my ear, then I’ll start humming along till a melody jumps out. From there it’s a few weeks of playing around with that, finding other bits and pieces that’ll work along with the original idea. Once there’s a basic structure and melody down, I’ll record myself mumbling nonsense along with the chords, then go through and write down what it sounds like I’m singing. 

Then I just start replacing words here and there till an idea starts to take shape. The sound of the words is way more important to me to get right from the start than the lyrics themselves, the meaning can be applied to a nearly limitless number of words if you work at it long enough, but there are only so many words that will sound right in certain places.

I record everything in my apartment myself. Nothing too crazy for the most part, just a laptop and a two channel interface. 

What are your immediate and long term future plans

Nothing comes to mind, I put playing live/touring on the back burner back in 2018. It was just getting too expensive and quite honestly depressing to go out for two weeks and lose a bunch of money playing to nearly empty rooms. I’m always trying to write/record new songs, but that generally only becomes fruitful in short bursts so it’s hard to say definitively when that’ll lead to a new release. 

I’m always trying though

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

Not sure

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: Loma Baja – Piscinas Verticales (2023, Spinda Records/Echodelick Records/Lay Bare Recordings/Clostridium Records)

Piscinas Verticales…take a good look at the picture above if your Spanish is a little rusty and you’ll get there too. You’ll be needing those wits, because the quirky title and artwork are only the start of this weird adventure you are about to embark on. Loma Baja is the name, and this Spanish collective of experienced noise mongers have made an effort to shake up all of their favorite musical styles and genres to appeal to the true adepts of the weird and avant-garde…and they succeeded gloriously.

I won’t be throwing around those genre tags or styles and spoil the surprise for you, but the fact Loma Baja listed the following artists as their influence speaks volumes in my book: Beak, True Widow, Breach, Black Midi, Liars, and Portishead to name only a few…I could add Tom Waits, Thom Yorke, Captain Beefheart, and Hey Colossus, but the list would still not be complete. It does give you an idea of the self-minded pioneership of these artists.

What we get then from this mixture is a distillation of the finest strain of musical creativity, bottled in years of hardworking band experience, and served with the craftsmanship of a skilled film director to completely pull you in as a listener, and only let you go after these 45 minutes are over.

The thing I like most about Loma Baja though, is that they don’t “try” to be different, weird, or “out there”. Their accumulative backgrounds and personalities just made them like this, forward thinking, staying far away from cliches and stylistic straight jackets.

It makes Piscinas Verticales into the the exciting adventure it is, because you never know what will happen next, and your (fixed) mindset and genre concepts are constantly challenged. If there were a prize for the album that fits most on this Weirdo Shrine internet space of mine, Loma Baja would win it hands down.

In line with their characteristic combined performance, Loma Baja also answers their questions with combined synchronicity, leaving room for the individual touch while ultimately remaining a strong collective. Here the story of the band as told by Víctor Teixeira (guitars), Pacomoto (bass, keyboard, vocals), Jorge García (synths, samplers, guitars, vocals), and Raúl Lorenzo (drums).

How are you? How was the pandemic period  for Loma Baja?

ALL: ”Hello! We are fine, at the moment we are aging correctly. First of all we want to thank you for giving us space in your blog.

VICTOR: For Loma_Baja it was the beginning of everything. Originally, the band was structured differently. During the lockdown, each of us contributed songs from our homes. When we finally managed to get together, we realized that things weren’t working out and decided to start from scratch, proposing ideas as a band. Raul’s entry was what set the direction of the band. It was his first time playing drums, although he had a lot of experience with other instruments. Jorge also took the opportunity to play synthesizers instead of guitar. I think these two elements are what best define Loma_Baja’s sound

PACO: Loma_Baja GOOD  Pandemic period BAD; still recovering.

RAUL: The pandemic hit me at the perfect age, 41 years old. I wouldn’t have liked to be locked up at home for three months at 16.

Can you introduce the band, and how did you meet, etc, ?

PACO: I’m the oldest but undoubtedly the most handsome guy in the band. I live near the mountains of Madrid and besides playing music with Loma_Baja, I’ve been playing bass with my bros from G.a.s. Drummers (punk rock from southern Spain) for almost 25 years. I also work as a TV producer (working for the enemy), but I love my Loma_Baja bandmates.

RAUL: I am the drummer, a friend, and a companion in a thousand adventures with Jorge since we were about 20 years old. One day in June 2021, Jorge asked me to join one of his bands to replace their original drummer. At that time, I had only been playing the drums for two or three months, but since the rest of the band were also old acquaintances and friends, I wasn’t afraid of the challenge.

VICTOR: I’ve played guitar all my life, and that’s what I do in Loma_Baja

JORGE: Synths and samples (which are new instruments for me), guitar and vocals are my world in Loma_Baja.

What can you tell me about your musical backgrounds?

PACO: I grew up in a very musical family (thanks to my mom and dad) and have a wide spectrum of musical tastes, including rock and roll, punk rock, hardcore, heavy metal, krautrock, psychedelic, pop, classical, folk, and jazz. In Loma_Baja, I play bass, synth bass, and also handle some vocals.

RAUL: I have played guitar all my life and I regret not discovering the drums earlier.

VICTOR: Well, all of us come from playing metal, hardcore, and punk. That’s our connection. Some of us have known each other for more than 25 years. With our previous bands, we have played together many times.

What does a regular day in your lives look like?

JORGE: I work as a freelance animator and Designer so i use to spend all day sitting in my studio working in pijamas. When I finish I like to go skateboarding, play some Miyazaki’s vídeo games or enjoy my time with my girlfriend.

VICTOR: I’m a first-time father, so you can imagine.

PACO: My life revolves around working, sleeping, listening to and playing music, eating, reading books and watching films, and spending time with my family. The best moments of my week are drinking coffee, playing with Loma_Baja, and visiting my baby niece.

RAUL: On weekends, I don’t set foot in my house because I work as a sound technician. However, during the week, I lead a fairly quiet life, dedicating my time and energy to what makes me happy: playing the drums, cooking, making electronic music, and watching series with my partner.

What is the best thing about Piscinas Verticales?

RAUL: I would highlight two things: its honesty and the pleasure it transmits when listening to it from beginning to end

VICTOR: It’s really otherworldly. It wasn’t until we had it recorded that we became fully aware of how we sounded. We believe it’s a pretty original album, with all that entails. It’s not a genre-specific record, and the best part of it is that anyone who listens to it can enjoy it quite a bit.

PACO: Personally, the best thing about this album is that I had the opportunity to meet these guys whom I love and respect not only as individuals but also as talented musicians. We were able to share our different perspectives on music and help each other develop new ways of composing.

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

VICTOR:The Spanish music scene (where we’re from) has always had a niche of unclassifiable and quite surprising bands. Everything is pretty interconnected. It has all come from the scene from 20-25 years ago related to punk and hardcore (especially in attitude), and many of these people continue to do very interesting and completely original things. This fact is fundamental for us. Loma_Baja didn’t have to start from scratch, people have been interested in what could come out of the union of four people with such different backgrounds. And that’s thanks to this freaky and interesting scene in which we have grown up all these years.

PACO: I live by the mountains, away from the big city; Madrid city is a good spot for musicians, there’s not a bad offer for rehearsal rooms, venues and freak people that come to shows of bands like ours.

Who are some contemporary musical heroes of yours?

PACO: Jeff Lynne, Nick Cave, Neil Young, Ian MacKaye and Guy Picciotto.

RAUL: People who make music in the world and do not have the impact or ease of making a living from it.

VICTOR: (from the band perspective) The cornerstone of Loma_Baja’s influences may be things like Beak, True Widow, or Breach (perhaps these are not so new). We don’t deliberately try to sound like any particular thing. In the band, there are people who still listen to a lot of new music, while others delve into music from other eras and try to bastardize those sounds and make them meaningful in what we do. Nationally, we’re into Akron or Tze Tze, not as a direct influence but in the way they create from very personal concepts.

JORGE: As Victor said many of out influences aren’t very contemporary but I love the music of Blank Mass, The Bug, Gnod, Black Midi, Squid and now I’m digging in a band called Trees Speak.

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

PACO: Composing for us is about getting four guys in a rehearsal room and seeing what happens, along with automatic writing. When it comes to recording, we prefer to do it live and Pedal to de Metal!

RAUL: When it comes to composing, we usually quickly realize what works and what doesn’t. Communication between us is fluid at all levels and we don’t take long to shape the songs. To record PISCINAS VERTICALES, we were respectful of the composition since we recorded it entirely live except for the vocals and some overdubs. We wanted the mixing and mastering of the album to be natural as well, and Rafa Camisón in mixing and Victor García in mastering did a perfect job.

VICTOR: We don’t have a very premeditated way of composing. Sometimes someone brings a more or less complete idea, other times they are more or less defined concepts or ideas, and many times they are improvisations. Among us, we have a fairly closed and primitive language that works quite well for us. There are no impositions of any kind. It’s fundamental both in how the band sounds and in composing that two of us started from scratch with our instruments. That has kept us away from any preconceived idea of what we could have sounded like coming from the bands we come from.

What are your immediate and long term future plans?

PACO: We are excited to announce the upcoming presentation of our first album! It will take place at Sound Isidro in Sala Maravillas, Madrid on May 26th. We would like to express our gratitude to our record labels: Spinda Records (Spain), Lay Bare Recordings (Netherlands), Clostridium Records (Germany), and Echodelick Records (USA).

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

PACO: Deep breathe, survive, love your family, friends, Fugazi and Beak and (of course) listen to Loma_Baja.

RAUL:Put more cowbell on everything.

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’.