Design a site like this with
Get started

Review + Q&A: Halo Noose- Magical Flight (2023, Echodelick Records/Cardinal Fuzz/Ramble Records/Acid Test Recordings)

Halo Noose hail from the Scottish Highlands, and play a very dense and psychedelic brand of fuzzed up space rock that feels like being blasted by a smoke cannon while riding a Harley Davidson into a wind tunnel. The band sounds like they have played an endless row of shadowy squatter places, drinking only lukewarm lager and smoking 24/7 while spitting random people in the face and shouting c words. You can image my surprise when it turned out all this was the work of one man, all alone in his basement…

And yet, the short half hour of super fuzzy psych rock on Magical Flight is the solo work of Stuart Morrish, who played all the instruments and recorded and engineered it by himself. Originally he released it in 2020 on his Bandcamp, but lucky for us listeners a conglomerate of psych labels picked it up over the past years to release it physically on various different continents.

It definitely deserves your attention too, because space rock seldomly sounded this scuzzy and gyrating. It feels like sticking your head in a car wash, getting a rub that blasts your eardrums out, but still getting out dirtier than you got in. Can space rock get any better? Yes it could have been a little longer…let’s hope Halo Noose fixes that flaw in the near future.

Stuart Morrish in his native Scotland

I talked to Stuart Morrish, from his home in the Scottish Highlands where the wildlife and the Northern Lights are his inspiration for making great psychedelic music. And some very good news near the end too…could it be a new record soon?

Can you introduce the band?

Halo Noose are a solo project I play on every instrument I also engineered mixed and produced the ep. I wanted to experience the whole process even down to help design the sleeve.

What can you tell me about your musical background?

There’s not much to say. I taught myself how to play  I liked watching  bands play live  and I like listening to music.

What does a regular day in your life look like?

Pretty much the same as everyone else’s man Going from here to there. I have a wife and two daughters. They keep me busy.

What is the best thing about Magical Flight?

I guess I can say people get what im trying to do and are digging on it.

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

I live in the Northern part of the Highlands in Scotland, UK. It’s all trees, meadows, birds of prey and deer, lots of free roaming deer. It’s very serene and peaceful. The Northern lights is always a good watch up here.

What would be the perfect setting to see Halo Noose?


Where does the sound come from? Can you take us to some of your inspirations?

I’m a big  fan of late 60s psych , also Loop, Spaceman3, Mudhoney, Sundial early Monster Magnet, The Stooges, and many many more.

What are your immediate and long term future plans?

I’m currently finishing up recording ten new tracks with the intentions of releasing them as an album this year and see where Halo Noose goes from there.

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

Go seek and find Halo Noose music and give it a go you may dig it.

Review + Q&A: Falling Floors- S/T (2022, Riot Season Records/Echodelick Records)

For a psychedelic rock band Falling Floors are pretty hard to pinpoint. I found out that talking to them helped a great deal to place them better in my head. These guys are fans of Butthole Surfers and Jefferson Airplane, the weird and offshoot bands in a genre full of followers, and while they don’t sound like those oldschool heroes at all, it is clear what their aim was here. For contemporary reference I would say that Falling Floors would not be out of place inside the cult following around Hey Colossus and their modern mixture of post punk, noise rock, and psych.

This self-titled album sounds raw and heavy, and was recorded without too many overdubs I am sure, to capture a certain ferociousness and live energy. This is something you might want to plow through a little bit the first listen, but when it “clicks”, like about half way through the eight minute barn burner Infinite Switch, you are hooked.

Between every long(er) form song like the catchy Ridiculous Man, and Flawed Theme, there is a weird interlude, building up from half a minute to two minutes, before all hell breaks loose in the eighteen minute noise jam extravaganza of Elusive And Unstable Nature Of Truth. It is where Falling Floors let’s go of all restraints and just sets the controls for the heart of the sun, in their own noisy botched up psych head way.

A very interesting and mind expanding experience then, this first encounter with these UK psych mongers. Fans of the afore mentioned bands, Wrong Speed Records, GNOD, and genuinely being surprised while taking your overdose of reverb drenched rock, this is your cup of tea.

So let’s have a chat then! As hard as it was to fully grasp what Falling Floors were doing sonically, as easy is it to connect with them. In the following interview they kindly and honestly explain what they are all about and where they come from. Drummer Colin Greenwood gave us the tour…

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

We’re all grand thank you for asking. The pandemic was, in the scheme of things, pretty OK for Falling Floors. We all lived in a wild and beautiful corner of the UK where we could hunker down, hope for the best and wait for it all to pass. And without the pandemic and desire to see people and make a big, messy load of noise, the band would probably never have come to pass.

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

So we are Rob on guitars and vocals, Harry on bass, and me, Colin, on drums. Rob and I know each other from the London psych / prog / rock / 60s music scene. We have almost certainly exchanged sweat on a crowded dance floor. I’m originally from around here, so once everyone had moved up north we all became friends. Harry and me started jamming and then Rob joined and brought some much-needed discipline to our freeform mucking about.

What can you tell me about your musical backgrounds?

So Harry has spent a lot of time getting lost in free-noise jams and found himself hankering after a tune. Rob’s actually had some moderate success, first with Elks and then with Early Mammal, who found kinship with the London stoner / avant garde rock scene based around the Baba Yaga’s Hut nights. I’ve noodled in bands for years without achieving much of note. We all like a tune and we all like taking said tune and bashing it to a bloody pulp.

What does a regular day in your life look like?

First off we’ve all got day jobs 🤘so let’s be real here and accept there’s fair bit of selling our life, one day at a time, to suck on Mammon’s teat. And then we’re all pretty different. Harry makes films, Rob’s an academic (handy if you find yourself in a tight spot and needing a bit of emergency jurisprudence) and I’m a designer, with two kids and all that comes with that.

What is the story behind the album? It has a strong “live” feel to it, could you explain that?

Well first off we’re not session ninjas, so there’s gonna be rough edges. And then we’ve all played in bands which have recorded and mixed and EQ’d and noodled themselves to a standstill. We didn’t want to make perfect product. We’d got some songs, we were quite excited, and we wanted to capture that. We wanted to make something righteous and true in a world drowning in almost unbearable bullshit. A mini, futile, defiant stand. 

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

Ace, basically. Harry and me live in the Calder Valley, which is one of a few valleys which cut through the hills that run down the spine of England. It’s all rain and mud and moorland and wet stone and scudding clouds. Beautiful. And inspiring. The rehearsal rooms are cheap, there’s a joyous DIY spirit, and a great music scene based around a couple of fearless, supportive venues. Rob moved down south to Devon just after recording the album. He’s still in the countryside, but it’s a softer, fatter vibe down there. He claims not to miss the north, but I think he’s lying.

What is your main aim with your music, is it complete artistic expression, or an escape from the every day world? (or something else ;))

Make something true and honest. I can’t speak for Rob and Harry but I’d love to get wilder and weirder. It’s so easy for ideas to get censored and trimmed and sanitized. I’ve always been inspired by bands like the Butthole Surfers who made genuinely weird things, the likes of which the world had never heard before. Doing things that haven’t got a name yet, to quote Jefferson Airplane. If we could make something that was pure unfettered expression, but still had a killer tune, I’d die a happy man.

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

There isn’t really a pattern yet. Rob brought one song pretty much fully formed. Harry brought some bass lines which were the spine of another couple. And one was jammed into existence starting with a drum pattern. I hope we’ll all keep writing and contributing and it’s doesn’t become one person’s project. As for recording, we get in a room, we point microphones at things, we play the song a few times, few overdubs and we call it done. Old school.

What is “the dream” when it comes to being an artist?

Crikey. Making the charidee album with Eric, Keef and Bono obviously. No, not that. Playing something which you’re proud of, which adds something new to the world, to people who appreciate the effort. I’m sure we’d all like our Falling Floors jet, but I think them days are over.

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

Walk to the top of the highest hill you can find, strip to the waist and whilst wearing headphones listen to our tune ‘Infinite Switch’, square off into the wind and rain and scream your fury at all the see-you-next-tuesdays of the world. Then go home, have a nice cup of tea and kiss your kids / dogs / loved ones on the head. 

Review + Q&A: Thought Bubble- Nowhere (2022, Echodelick Records)

Although UK duo Thought Bubble opted for a cartoonish moniker, their musical output is nothing to laugh at. Rather than a soundtrack for comic book communication methods, the music on Nowhere will transport you to into your own thought bubble; the confines of your own head. Being very electronic through synths, loops, and beats, the music at times feels “bubbly” as well, in a sense that you are experiencing your own thought bubble while being wrapped in bubble wrap wobbling away through the colorful artwork on display.

There are shards of spoken word and lyrics popping up through Nowhere, presenting the eerie modern day feeling of being rushed, as well as some claustrophobic reflections on the covid period, which was not a walk in the park for these guys as you will read in the interview below. While the moods and atmospheres on Nowhere are very varied, the listener cannot escape this sense of isolated gloom that stretches over the music, an obvious result of the state of mind of the makers.

Not to say that Thought Bubble have created an allover gloomy affair. There’s even some room for a dance (Cloudbursting), and on the Can-inspired more repetitive parts you have to be dead if you do not at least wiggle your right toe to it. It is electronic music for people who do not like electronic music. And some very good music at that.

I talked to Thought Bubble‘s duo Nick Raybould (percussion) and Chris Cordwell (keys) about the making of Nowhere, there pretty dense covid experience, and of course their love of music…

Hi guys! How are you these days?

Chris: Well thanks, recovering from a bout of covid but good.

Nick: Considering the bizarre times we are now living through, surprisingly well. As Chris says, we’ve both just recovered from bouts of Covid, but are feeling proud of our new album and are already back making new music.

The writing and recording process of “Nowhere” was all during covid, right? And I heard they were some stressful times for you as well! Can you tell me what happened and whether you think it can be heard in the music?

Chris: Yeah, Nowhere was made during covid lockdowns, but also Nick was diagnosed with a heart condition and needed urgent surgery which, unfortunately, due to the stresses on the NHS turned out to be a lengthy process. So Nowhere turned into a welcome diversion for Nick. 

Nick: That period will probably be remembered by most of us all as the lockdown years, or something like that. For me personally, of course, it was also a pretty bleak and terrifying time. Having spent much of 2020 strangely exhausted, with sharp back pains, in February 2021 I was eventually diagnosed as suffering from chronic heart disease, which would require urgent multiple bypass surgery. I’m guessing I’d have been especially vulnerable to Covid with my heart issues and that catching it could have delayed my operation, should a surgery slot have actually come available. So that was that – my wife and I became hermits.

Everyone around me set about helping to distract me from dwelling on it too much, as I waited, in various ways. Not least my Thought Bubble partner Chris. He’d hit a particularly prolific and creative seam, so started sending me lots of new Thought Bubble tracks to work on. One of which assumed the apt name ‘Distraction Engine’. 

Despite being a generally quite bouyant person, there was still a darker corner in my mental makeup telling me there was a chance things could go very wrong indeed. Either on the operating table – or even before I managed to get there. Another new track we’d started creating started of as a snappy drum work out, which I sent over to Chris. What he sent back was another pretty much finished sounding track. It was now a lovely trippy funk groover. His original parts included a sampled voice, from some royalty-free archive, as a percussive effect. While I felt it sat right, I considered that voice a bit anonymous and something of a missed opportunity to say something for ourselves. So I quickly wrote a short poem. And, while I usually hate the sound of my own voice, set up a mic and recorded myself reading it. I was facing this big heart operation and had already reconciled that these recordings might be our ‘Black Star’. So yeah, for once I actually used my own voice. Yeah, proper heavy shit was going on in my head by this stage. 

Can you tell me about your musical backgrounds? How did you find each other to form Thought Bubble?

Nick: Chris and I met when we formed a ‘dads’ band through mutual friends. Nobody could play particularly well. It was really more of a boozy social thing really, but over a few years and line-up changes we improved. I eventually broke away and played with different muzos and bands, before reuniting with Chris in Glowpeople a sort of funky prog fusion band. That band released several CD albums and played lots of crazy gigs and psychedelic rock festivals. Inevitably being a band that burned bright  – we inevitably burned out! Chris and I then played for a year in another festival band; the more rocking Delphini. All this time, at rehearsal sessions, awaiting the arrival of our bandmates, Chris and I were jamming together, sometimes recording our improvised grooves, unaware that we were already forming Thought Bubble!

Chris: Most of my friends during my formative years were musicians and I used to mess around with sine wave generators and ring modulators, even owning an original ARP Odessy at one stage, but certainly never considered myself a musician as such, but music has been one of the mainstays of my life.

Nick and I were both brought up in Redditch in the West Midlands but didn’t meet up until much later when we both moved to the Shropshire Hills. We first played together with band of friends who just got together for a bit of light entertainment during those long winter nights, nothing too serious and that didn’t last too long. Nick and I kept in touch however as we seemed to have similar curiosity when it came to the sort of music we listened to. Some time later Nick got in touch with me as he was playing with a bass player and guitarist and thought I’d fit in. That turned out into the band Glowpeople which went through a couple of incarnations. We played a lot together, mainly improvising mad jams taking them in many weird and wonderful directions. We played at small festivals and were well received but as is the way of bands after a number of years we drifted apart.

Nick and I went onto to play with the short lived Delphini before covid threw everyone’s lives into abeyance. We’d always swapped musical ideas over the years and when covid and lockdowns came along it only seemed natural to keep ourselves busy.

How do the two of you write music? Is there for instance any jamming involved?

Chris: Sometimes Nick will send a drum track to me to work to, but generally I’ll send Nick something I’ve been working on. Nick has a great ear, so I’m always comfortable sending tracks across to him for mixing and editing before they come back to me for mastering. Unfortunately there has been very little of us being able to jam together lately but a number of tracks have stemmed from lengthy jams that I’ve done which have then been edited down and refined. Neon Garden and Superficial being cases in point. We also enjoy having other people play on tracks if we think it needs another voice and are truly grateful for their willingness to engage and bring never fail to enhance the tracks.

Nick: Yeah, before the pandemic messed everything up – and my subsequent heath issues necessitated my isolation, we did actually jam together. So several tracks on the previous two albums were live jams. However, while ‘Nowhere’ was taking shape we only met outdoors, socially distanced, to discuss ideas.

Tracks, these days, are created remotely. We’ve fallen into a routine that works. It’s usually me who mixes and edits the whole thing into shape. We seem to have fallen into roles and routines, but these aren’t written in stone.

What can you tell me about the spoken word part in Superficial?

Chris: I’ll leave Nick that one, but just say that we’ve probably all been on both sides of that story, and beautifully delivered by Pablo.

Nick: I keep a notebook In which I’m continually scratching away at lyrics and silly rhymes. But, this poem was a bit different. This one was done in response to some miserable arsehole who was draining the joy out of my day. I’m sure we’re all acquainted with at least someone who seems to find pleasure in bringing the whole vibe down. Well, this was me venting myself, without having to resort to sticking pins in a voodoo doll. They’re usually narcissists who aren’t quite getting the attention they crave so resort to less constructive means.

My brother Pablo Raybould is an actor. He does stage, film and television work – and he also has that gift of a versatile voice and can perform in all manner of styles. And, thankfully, once again he was happy to help us on this Thought Bubble track. You may remember him from Möbius Trip on our first album, maybe?

As you’ll hear, once the words have finished, the track changes gear and goes off into rather different territory. We do this a lot and will do again, later on this album.

What are your musical influences? Do you listen to a lot of contemporary music?

Chris: I’ve got an extremely wide range of musical influences in all genres of music and am always searching for things that whet my curiosity. I love music that takes you somewhere unexpected, the thrill of Can, Sun Ra, the melding of different genres of the new generation of British jazz musicians. I recently had the privilege of seeing Matmos perform at the Sonic Lab in Belfast an amazing evening at an amazing venue. It was a real ear opener and truly inspiring. At the moment I’m listening to a lot of Telefis, the collaboration between the sadly recently passed genius Cathal Coughlan and Jacknife Lee. Cathal’s band Fatima Mansions were one of my favourite ever live bands, truly awesome.

Nick: When Chris and I were playing in Glowpeople and Delphini, we’d usually give each other a lift over to the rehearsal studios. In our cars is where we’d share our latest discoveries, as we drove. As I remember it, it was probably more Chris turning me onto some amazing new producer than vice versa. I like fusion bands like Snorkel, Taupe and Red Snapper, also more danceable electro outfits like Lamb. I spent the late 80s in a band called The Libertines (not them), who toured as support band to Stourbridge groovies The Wonder Stuff and watched in awe as their lovely and grifted drummer showed me how it’s done.

I think we’re both very open and catholic in our musical tastes. Despite being of senior years, we have pretty much always explored new music. My record buying started with T.REX in 1971 and one of my latest purchases were King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard and one of Chris’s recommendations Hania Rani

How do you translate the music on Nowhere to a live setting? What does that look like?

Chris: That’s a tricky one which hopefully we’ll resolve over the coming months. I think for sure it will be the same but completely different if you see what I mean.

Nick: Live? I’ve really no idea yet. Only, our very early recordings were done we played live, in a studio. We’ve yet to actually play a gig, as Thought Bubble. All of this album was done in our two separate studios, recording our responses to each other’s initial tracks. However, I must mention that we do have plans to perform live. I doubt we’ll strive to replicate any actual released track, though. All of ‘Nowhere’ is a series composite production pieces, built up in layers. Lots of performed pieces with overdubs, which have then been edited. And remember we’ve used guest artistes some of whom I doubt we’ll ever meet on a stage.

What is “the dream” for Thought Bubble as musicians?

Chris: To get better.

Nick: I think I’d like to play live with Thought Bubble, which we’re yet to actually achieve – and it would be nice to invite some of the guest collaborators along, too. I’d also like there to be more of a buzz around our releases and enough sales to allow us to buy better gear. I’m happy to continue doing what we do, at the level we’re currently doing it though, too. Maybe a manager could help with getting us into soundtrack work? Also for badgering labels and publishers for future releases.

What are your immediate future plans?

Chris: Looking forward to getting together more often, in order to see what comes out when we’re in the same room.

Nick: As this album took so long to be manufactured – and because we were so locked into that prolific seam, we carried on recording lots more tracks, so we probably have at least one album already done. In fact, we are already in discussion for a release early in 2023.

I might also add that before even that we are planning to release a download only EP, through our Bandcamp site. Online acquaintances Unio & Petitio, a particularly quirky electronic duo offered to remix some of our tracks! So, that will be our next thing. We are reciprocating, by the way – so, I guess their next release will be our remixes of them!

I had a quadruple bypass operation in January 2022, which seems to have been an enormous success, so I feel rebooted and ready to get back out there playing live.

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

Chris: Obviously get a copy of Nowhere, if they don’t already have it. Then go out and see some live music. It’s good for the soul.

Nick: To get get themselves into an appropriately receptive frame of mind and before their motor skills abandon them, to get over to our Bandcamp portal, crank up the amp and immerse themselves into our explorations and sonic adventures. Several times, maybe. And yes, as Chris says, get Nowhere.

Review + Q&A: IO Audio Recordings- Awaiting The Elliptical Drift/VVK (2022, Echodelick Records, Fuzzed Up And Astromoon Records, Weird Beard, Ramble Records, We Here And Now!)

Immersive, all encapsulating, and inescapable. Like jumping in a big silo of smoke and free falling into a seemingly bottomless pit, weightless, no sense of gravity or time or any of the other Earthly constants. This state of being absolutely in the moment, that is what IO Audio Recordings is soundtracking for, or perhaps not just tracking the sound, but conjuring the feeling, like a sonic shaman of this modern age.

Both of the EPs on this combined vinyl release sound absolutely huge, due to the layered build up of the music. With fuzzy guitars upon fuzzy guitars, surrounded by spacey synths and pulsating bass throbs the songs are manifesting themselves as mind massages, spiraling images into your frontal cortex until you become part of the proces. Needless to say, you will not miss any lyrics, although there are mists of humanoid whispers floating through ever so slightly on occasion.

I was afraid to grow tired of space rock pretty soon, there are only so many oscillators and droney sitars you can listen to in your life time, yet bands like IO Audio Recordings prove that there is still more to explore, if only you open your third eye widely enough. It is no coincidence that over four record labels from allover this planet have jumped on this album to spread the word, because this wordless word needs spreading.

“My name is Jonas.  Seriously.  That’s not a Weezer joke.  I play all the instruments, make all the artwork” That is the first line I get from IO Audio Recording mastermind and sole member when I asked him for this interview. I did not know he was a one man band, and it makes this effort even more impressive. I couldn’t wait to know more about this illusive Californian space rocker…

How are you? How has the pandemic period been for IO Audio Recordings?

I’m doing well.  These last couple of years, in terms of COVID and all that it has wrought, has actually had very little effect on me.  I didn’t get sick with COVID nor did anyone close to me and as far as quarantine is concerned,  I can go a pretty long time without ever leaving the house as most everything I do is here.  I record here, draw here, build things here, etc… Hell, I currently don’t even have to leave the house for my day job as I can do that here too.  I really can’t say the pandemic has really changed what I do all that much.

What can you tell me about your musical background?

Oh man… that’s a really big question.  I don’t really have much in the way of musical training to be honest.  I played the trumpet for a number of years in elementary school but I don’t really consider those years particularly influential in my musical development.  Really I think there are three main things that really make up the core of my musical drive… 

First, I’ve always been an avid and studious musical listener.  Music has been my go to for creative expression for a long time.  I have no idea why that is, I was just born that way it seems.  I’ve always been particularly attracted to it and my pursuit of it led me through all sorts of things that have had a profound influence on what I do.  At first it was my parent’s record collection, but that was never fully satisfying.  It just wasn’t wild or “out there” enough (more on that in a minute).  So I then gravitated to hard rock which is what first introduced me to my favorite sound in the world: the distorted guitar.  Then I discovered punk.  More distorted guitars, but also coupled with the DIY ethos and the whole “who cares what others think?  Create what you want” mentality.  So my whole musical journey was this constant searching for something that was just a little bit more than the last thing.  Then at some point you reach Nurse With Wound, listen to a guy whose credits himself on a record as playing a squeaky chair and you realize that you are now on the outer fringes of music, your mind has been opened up to just a ton of stuff, and then you just start putting that all together in a way that makes sense to you.

Second, I’ve always gravitated to music/art that was more “out there”. For instance, I discovered Salvador Dali at a very young age and his paintings naturally spoke to me.  So as I was gathering up and listening to music, I was always looking for stuff that was kind of the equivalent of that. 

Third, I spent an awful lot of time recording.  As a kid my parents had a reel to reel tape recorder that I would experiment with constantly.  Then when I was older I purchased a four track cassette recorder, then an 8 track, then digital…. So even when I started playing in bands as a teen and learning all the things that being in a band and playing shows can teach, I was still just doing a lot of recording on my own.  Since all that recording had much less to do with things like “proper mic placement for a kick drum” and much more to do with “what kind of weird sounds can I make today?”, I think that was much more influential on what it is that I do. 

What does a regular day in your life look like?

A regular day really just consists of working the day job, household chores, art/music, time with the wife, more art/music and then sleep.  It’s pretty routine but it works for me.

What is the story about the band name?

There really isn’t much of a story behind the name to be honest.  Initially it just started out as “io” and didn’t really have any particular meaning to it.  It’s just something that came to me and the more I looked at it, the more I liked it.  There was just a lot of different symbols and meanings to it that I found attractive.  It’s a line and a circle.  Besides being these really fundamental geometric concepts, I’d read at some point how the line and the circle  were used to symbolize the lingham and yoni in tantric yoga.  I’d see I and O used to symbolize “On” and “Off” on power switches.  Then of course there is the fact that it’s the name of one of the moons orbiting Jupiter.  All of those were things that I thought was cool and so I started using that as a moniker.  At some point I came to feel that for various reasons I needed more and so I tacked on the “audio recordings”, which was partially inspired by the name of the group The Tower Recordings.  I’d never actually ever listened to The Tower Recordings mind you.  I was just aware of the name and liked how it felt.  Plus, it’s kind of ambiguous.  Is it a label?  Is it a band?  Is it hardware?  I like that sort of thing. 

Orange, California somehow does not immediately say: “space rock” to me, what can you tell me about you surroundings in relationship to the music you make?

I like Orange, CA quite a bit but it is definitely not very space rock.  I don’t think I’d ever say that living here influences my music very much at all.  In fact I’d say the music I create is less influenced by external factors than it is internal ones.  My music has been influenced much more by drives I’ve had ever since I was a young child than anything else.

What can you tell me about the artwork, I have heard it is an important piece of your work, right?

I think the artwork is an important piece of what I do.  On a basic level it’s like music in that I have this vision of a thing that sort of bubbles up to the surface of my conscious mind at which point I am driven to make it manifest.  In the context of io audio recordings I think it speaks to the fact that as Fuzzed Up/Astromoon puts it, it “keeps music physical”.  I’m a collector and I’m not totally satisfied with just digital files.  I like having something I can hold, witness, and display.  I’m also really inspired by the idea that packaging can be something more than just a thing that contains an LP, CD, or whatever.  That it can be something that stands on its own as a piece of art.  That’s something that Zoviet France really opened up my mind to. 

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

I don’t really have a set way of going about composing and recording songs.  If I do have a guideline, it’s to just follow my feelings or intuition.  At the beginning I might have a particular pull in a certain direction.  Maybe I feel writing a song start to finish on the guitar/bass/whatever and then just pursue that.  Maybe I just want to experiment with instrument/effects and that leads to something interesting that I can build around.  Whatever the case may be, it all begins with just being inspired to create something in a certain way and then I just listen continue to follow my gut.  It’s pretty common for a song I’m working on to take a direction that I didn’t initially intend to pursue.  It’s such a floaty, intuitive process.  It’s pretty much the opposite of having a plan.

As you are a one man band; what makes you decide what the domain of your sound making is? It seems like anything is possible ;)))

Yes, that is pretty much how I see it.  Anything is possible.  But no matter how much I tend to lean towards the experimental side of things, I always remain very fond of the riffs, and rhythms of rock music.  It was ultimately my first real musical starting point and so there’s a deep fondness for it.  As such I’ve always really balanced these two things in my musical life, experimental music and rock music.  What really helped shape the direction I took io audio recordings was my day job oddly enough.  I work as a sound designer for a video game company where I create sounds for fantastical creatures, magic spells, etc… and so in a manner of speaking, I make my living creating my most experimental music.  So when it came to creating music for io audio recordings, it was pretty natural to want to express my more rock oriented leanings, while still bringing a heavy dose of experimentation into the mix.  So that’s always been the guiding principle behind io audio recordings, to start with the core of rock music and then experiment with it to find different directions to take it.  I’ve often joked around with friends by saying that I’m trying to create space rock Zoviet France and while that’s ultimately an over simplification, it does symbolize the aesthetic I’m shooting for pretty well.

What is “the dream” when it comes to being an artist?

Honestly I think that at its root, being an artist has less to do with dreams or goals and more to do with the fact that I’m just driven to create these things that come into my head.  It’s what I’m naturally motivated to do and that creativity, in and of itself, is its own reward.  So I guess in that way, I’m already living the dream.  However as an artist that shares his art, I suppose the “dream” is that anyone who might like what I do has the chance to experience it and ideally it will prod them to discover their own creative path, whatever that may be.

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

They should do whatever bring them the maximum amount of happiness.

Jonas AKA IO Audio Recordings

Review + Q&A: C. Ross- Skull Creator (2022, Echodelick Records/Ramble Records/NoiseAgonyMayhem)

Chad Ross, it is always such a pleasure to hear his voice. Whether is is in his early band Quest For Fire, his current vehicle Comet Control, or his side project Nordic Nomadic, he sings to soothe, to embalm the listener into a soft and kind state of inebriation. With Skull Creator he presents us with his first full on solo project, and man am I glad it found its way into these ears.

In the Balloon Factory studio of Destroyer‘s Dan Bejar Ross started to work his magic with producer and (ex-) Black Mountain drummer Joshua Wells , and later he asked his friend Isaiah Mitchell of Earthless fame to help out on guitar as well. The result is bigger than the sum of its parts, as in this smaller, more fragile and emotional space Ross’s voice gets the full attention and mandate to speak personally and directly to the listener.

Whether he sings about getting high on mushrooms or the death of a close friend, Ross always sounds profound, sincere, and in a way otherworldly, like a ghost voice speaking to you from the inside of your skull. More than in his heavier projects his voice touches you deeply this time, whispering soft poetry in your ear while the music gently weeps…

Some times it is time to rock hard and blast magic, and sometimes it is time to contemplate and enjoy some beautiful quiet music. Chad Ross offers both in his many endeavors, but this time he offers the latter. I can’t think of a better way to get down and out at the moment.

I had the absolute honor and pleasure to ask mr. Ross some questions that were burning in my mind. Here’s what he made of them:

How are you? How have you been during the pandemic and how did you  spend most of your time? 

We’re doing really well living in rural Ontario. In April of 2020 my wife Nicole,  who is also the bass player in Comet Control, and I had a baby girl, so our  lives have been filled with raising a child. It has been really challenging and  beautiful. Life as a musician was on hold but Comet Control still released  Inside the Sun and I managed to finish this solo record during the first  lockdown. I also build furniture and do custom carpentry for recording  studios, which has kept me very busy. We can’t complain, life is good despite  the state of the world. 

I really enjoyed your last album with Comet Control, which I reviewed as  well I think it is really cool that it is so quickly followed by your first solo  work. Can you tell me how the separate entities can live next to each other? 

Comet Control is really a collaborative process between Andrew and I, we  work pretty fast together and it’s all about the riff/hook. My solo work is all  acoustic/fingerstyle based and I find it takes longer to finish and arrange the  songs. However, I instinctually know what songs fit where. I was working on  both records at the same time when the pandemic hit, and they both sat  finished for a while… it just seemed like the obvious decision to stagger the  releases slightly. 

After two Quest For Fire and three Comet Control albums, what made you  decide the time was right for a solo record? What was your main focus? 

Ive always been working on solo acoustic works. I released 2 Nordic  Nomadic LPs and an ep during the existence of those bands but I finally  decided to go under my own name for this one. The reality is, being in a rock  band takes it’s toll on my mental health and doesn’t often mix well with my 

addictive personality. I need a quiet, solitary creative process. My main focus  has been becoming a better acoustic guitar player and not taking the music  so seriously. It’s become more of a meditative process in the warmth of my  home. 

Can you tell me how you know Joshua Wells, and what role he played for  Skull Creator?  

My very good, old friend Matt Camirand was the original bass player for Black  Mountain. They were looking for a roadie and Matt asked me if I wanted to  tag along for the ride. I ended up doing 3 or 4 of their early North American  tours. I became good friends with all of them, and we’ve remained in touch  and toured together in various bands over the years. Josh has always been  one of my favourite drummers and his musicianship expands far beyond the  drum kit. He ended up recording, mixing and co producing the record with  me…. As well as playing drums and keys. Truly a gifted human. 

How did you manage to have Isaiah Mitchell and Aaron Goldstein on the  album as well? Will they join you on stage as well? 

I’ve known Isaiah for years. Earthless stayed at my house in Toronto the first  time they ever played here. QFF opened the show and Witch played as well.  That was right around the time QFF got signed to teepee. We’ve always  stayed in touch over the years and Comet Control toured Europe supporting  Earthless in 2018. I just reached out during the first lockdown and sent him  the tracks… very happy he was stoked to do it. Aaron is an amazing  producer/engineer based in Toronto and a go-to on the pedal steel. I was  happy that he came along for the ride as well. I’ll probably end up playing  solo when I get around to playing shows…..everyone who played on this  record is very busy with their own musical endeavours, and functioning at a  much higher touring level than myself ha.  

You are from Toronto, right? But the album was recorded in Vancouver,  which city was more important for the way it sounds do you think? 

Josh and I recorded the bed tracks at the Balloon Factory in Vancouver, the  home studio of Dan Bejar of Destroyer. Just drums and electric guitar. I  recorded acoustic, vocals, bass and electric guitars myself, when Nicole and  I lived in a small Ontario city called Guelph in 2020. In that regard, it’s got a  bit of Guelph and Vancouver mainly … but also a touch of San Diego, Toronto  and Chicago if you count the other remote recordings. 

Where did you draw most of your inspiration for the lyrics?  

I had a list of song titles stored in my phone that made me laugh. When I  thought of something I would write it down. The goal was to make the  process less serious and semi autobiographical while making fun of myself.  No one really needs to hear another middle aged singer songwriter with the  blues. But the things that made me laugh took a more serious turn when  juxtaposed with the production….it almost backfired and I was stuck  reflecting on addiction, past lives and really beautiful and dark moments in  my life. I think the experiment worked though….unintentionally.  

Can you elaborate on the addiction part?

Luckily most of the subject matter on ‘skull creator’ comes from a joyous part of my conscience. Buzzin in the Bush is about bush parties, Takin a Dip is about swimming on
mushrooms, Wrong side of the Sky is about staying home with my wife instead of going out to the bar, Skull Creator is about my skull literally multiplying on my first paranoid acid trip when I was 16. Awesome silly shit really, and kinda funny and unintentionally dark. But On Golden Pond kinda sums up the whole record, a tribute to my oldest childhood friend who died of a drug overdose 3 years ago. When you’re young, innocence doesn’t really understand addiction and mental health. I’m seeing things through rose colored glasses on this record, of course, but it’s hard for some people to see where the party starts and ends. I’m feeling very grateful these days.

What happens now? Will you play live shows? And when and with which  band(s)? And important for me: will we see you in Europe (The Netherlands  especially)? 

I haven’t played any solo shows since 2019. Just starting to reach out to  people now. The pandemic pretty much pulverized a lot of small bands.  Comet Control was comfortably touring Europe once a year before the  pandemic hit… but I’m not sure how that would play out now. We got  dropped by our booking agent because they could only really focus on their  big bands. Things appear to be back to normal… but I’m guessing that’s a  facade. I’d love to play some solo shows in Europe….but time will tell. 

What is your ultimate bucketlist goal? And where would you like to be in  five years? 

It’s a boring answer, but my goal is to continue to make records. To this day,  I’m still amazed that people are still interested in putting out my music.  When I started off playing in punk bands in my teens, I would have never  believed you, if you told me id have all the opportunities, that I longed for  then. In five years I will have liked to tour Europe again… at least once. 

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

Take a deep breath and make some art…. or a plate of spaghetti.

C. Ross

Instrumental Triple feature: Noorvik vs. Der Neue Planet vs. Trigona (2022, Tonzonen Records/Echodelick Records, Worst Bassist Records)

Last time when I talked about instrumental music I discovered the German outfits Kombynat Robotron and Shem and did a double feature. Then Tonzonen Records and Echodelick Records sent me these instrumental records and I told myself it was time to do it again, but tripled this time. For instrumental music is a different kind of animal. It leaves something to be filled in at the dots for the listener. And it often invites its audience to dive into their minds, or out, which makes for a completely different listening experience than with their more, ahem, “vocal” brethren…

Der Neue Planet (The new planet in German) are an instrumental stoner prog band that takes full advantage of the fact that they don’t have to bother about stuff like verses or choruses, rhymes, or repetition. Opener Heavy Dream Prog describes their sound quite aptly in a song that shoots back and forth from heavy stoner walls to chilled out dungeon jazz, to stoner disco and everything in between in a near ten minute journey. It’s seriously heavy music, but there is room for tongue in cheek humor too, just like on their album title and cartoonish artwork. Area Fifty-Fun is exactly that; it’s a heavy psychedelic fun trip that rides like an amusement park.

Noorvik are the heavy brothers of this triplet. The music on Hamartia is serious, epic, and leans pretty close to metal at times, from massive doomed out postmetal, to more uptempo riffage and even a couple of blast beat volleys. If you picture a singer like Michael Akerfeldt fronting this band with a good deep grunt they would actually do a pretty good oldschool Opeth/Katatonia crossbreed.

Now, without human voice, the music forces you to use your own imagination for the imagery. The music becomes a painter’s palette picturing vast glacial landscapes, tall and impenetrable mountain ranges, but also peaceful ponds of calmness and serenity. Noorvik are a force of nature, conjuring up the rawness and beauty of our planet quite vividly.

The only non-German band that I will talk about here actually plays the most kraut oriented music of the three, and starts off with a song called Von Graf…but that’s pure coincidence of course. Trigona from Australia does motorik instrumentals like they were born somewhere between the 80s of Neu! and the 90s of bands like Karma To Burn with a sound that holds a pretty good middle ground between the motorik repetition of krautrock and the heaviness of stoner.

The strength of the album is that each song swirls away in a different inner mindset, taking the listener on six completely different trips, but without losing a strong band identity. I like it best when Trigona pumps out a Joy Division bass line, and then completely drives it into outer space with its gravitational reverbing guitar parts. It’s transcendental music, made for levitation and rising above the daily grind. Stuff to aspire to.