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Interview: Shane Hartman (Underground Mountains, Metal Machine Ascension, Acid Test Radio, We, Here & Now Records)

So originally, I intended to write a little piece about Stratford, Canada’s improvisational psych rockers Underground Mountains and their uncanny brand of “anything goes, let the universe guide us, and let’s record every jam CAN style” psych rock. They ARE pretty cool, and you really should check out their debut cassette tape and track everything that there is still to come if you are even remotely into that original kraut rock improv sound. But then I started talking to guitarist Shane Hartman, and it turned out I had already met him two times or more in different online entities. For Shane is a human centipede of psychedelic music, manning a weekly radio show, a record label, a solo project, next to occasionally jamming the stars from the cosmos with Underground Mountains.

It is people like him that keep this tiny psychedelic universe going, and being a fan of the music is first and foremost in that. We are not in it for the money or the fame, we are here to strive for that one ultimate Godzilla jam, whether it is with our own musical projects, or through some other human making noise somewhere on this awful ball of dried up lava. We do it because we have to, because it is better to create and participate than to just consume and get fat. Although we do hunt for that sweet vinyl from time to time, and it can’t be limited enough…

Anyways, meet Shane Hartman people. Lover of psychedelic music, fan of bands like CAN and The Band Who’s Name Is A Symbol, and a valuable contributor to the scene in his multiple enterprises. Let’s meet him and find out all there is to explore through his stories and his sounds…

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

Hi Jasper! Thanks for the interest in all this business. I’m Shane, I have a few irons in the fire but I’ll do my best to cover everything! 

I produce a weekly radio show / podcast called Acid Test Radio whose motto is “Fuzzed Up Sounds In Search of Higher Elevation” since 2019. I play loads of psych, space rock, punk, free jazz, drone, noise, new age…basically everything I’m into and the occasional funk 45.  It can be heard on svpradio.com THURSDAY @ 5pm EST and Midtownradio.ca Saturday @ 7pm EST.

I play guitar, synth and mess around with tape loops  in Underground Mountains – we are currently a 6 piece and play free heavy, psychedelic and krautrock informed music, predominantly in our rehearsal room “The Jam Cellar” located beneath the most excellent Sound Fixation record store here in Stratford. 

Currently Underground Mountains is.. 

Andrew Hunter, Trevor Worsell, Andrew Enns, Jeremy Cox, Tim Nicholls and myself.

I also record solo as Metal Machine Ascension – tape loops, effects, synths creating a droning Maximalist Meditation Music.

aaaand I run We, Here & Now! Records – a psych / experimental / heavy sounds label. I originally started to help release one record which seems charming in retrospect as the amount of projects the label has taken on has snowballed more than I anticipated! Since beginning in April, WHN has officially released  7 tapes and co-released one record with plenty more on the way for 2023!  

Shouts and much respect to Jeff @ Echodelick Records and Dave @ Cardinal Fuzz for all the help and encouragement! These guys release some of my absolute favourite records, I’m sure readers of Weirdo Shrine are probably aware but if you don’t know them, do your ear holes a kindness when you can! 

What can you tell me about your musical background?

I’m a bit of a late bloomer and mostly self taught.. I didn’t start playing guitar until my early 20’s. A friend gave me an acoustic guitar he’d made from the remnants of two broken ones (dubbed the Franken-twanger) and from there got down to learning in earnest. I loved The Replacements and Leatherface the most before hearing The ConstantinesShine A Light record which is still one of my all time favourites. In the last year I’ve been exploring the wide world of synths and tape in my music while slowly acquiring more gear and developing an interest in using non-musical objects and field recordings in my process. I promise that it’s not as pretentious as it sounds! 

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

My partner Catherine and I adopted our pup Fred (Australian cattle dog) in February and we’ve since become very early risers and avid walkers.. if I don’t have to work I’ll be getting caught up on label projects (several at different stages of development right now that I’m VERY excited about!), new music for Acid Test Radio, reviewing our jam recordings. There’s always music on at home, be it records, tapes, streams, radio or one of us singing to the pup. Our house is a very musical house.

What do people often forget when they think about owning a record label?

I think going into this, what I wish I knew and perhaps what others might not understand is how many hats one can end up wearing! Being a one person show, there’s quite a lot to do. I love it and I think for folks who enjoy doing several different tasks, it can be an incredibly satisfying way to help get the music you love further out into the world. 

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

I live in Stratford, Ontario, located about 2 hours driving from Toronto. The city is famous for the Stratford Theatre Festival as well as being home to and having a lot of incredible musicians from here (members of The Band, Janis Joplin’s Full Tilt Boogie Band, Colin Fisher, Darren Dumas (The Salads) immediately come to mind.. oh! Justin Bieber’s from Stratford as well..) 

I moved here from Ottawa several years back and knew that I’d like to play the kind of music I make now but finding like minded heads historically has often been challenging.. I met the fellas I would later end up playing with in Underground Mountains here and I honestly couldn’t believe my luck! We jam weekly if possible, record everything and it’s always a trip! Pre-covid, travelling to see bands in Kitchener, London or Toronto was a frequent occurrence. Post Covid, live music is slowly coming back.. I’m hopeful for the new year! 

What is your take on making improvisational music? What is the ultimate jam?

I think it can be one of the most transcendent and powerful expressions and in a group setting can produce incredibly magical experiences. Communicating without speaking, call it the cosmic nod, whatever you call it, it’s something special.

The ultimate jam.. whether it’s an epic hour long sprawl through space, shifting between psych, blues, funk, dub and freakouts with full on “godzilla” passages to borrow a line from CAN or 10 minutes of focused pocket dwelling.. when it’s over and we’ve re-entered our bodies and can say that was really good!   

Who are your favorite current other artists and record labels at the moment?

Oh boy! Honestly this could go on and on there are so many quality labels putting out so many great records! The short list would include Cardinal Fuzz, Echodelick, Feeding Tube and Noiseagaonymayhem.. and Dreamlord.. oh! Up In Her Room as well! and Fuzzed Up & Astromoon! Weird Beard, Worst Bassist.. 

For artists.. The Band Whose Name Is A Symbol are pivotal, Dead Sea Apes are un-fuck-withable and Anunnaki are a force of nature! Big ups to Thee Cosmic Brick Road, Wasted Cathedral, Pallbearer Industry and pour one out for the fellas in Hawkeyes as well.. 

(sorry, it’s hard to keep it narrow!) 

What is “the dream” for you as an artist, and as a label owner?

As an artist.. to just be able to keep making music. It’s an obsession and probably in my DNA.. Collaborating and growing.. The same applies to the label as well I suppose, in terms of releasing records I’m excited about but I’d also tack on being sustainable – to focus on doing the label full time would be the dream come true!

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

Tell the people you love how much you do.  

Review + Q&A: Gambardella- Caracas (2022, Spinda Records)

Gambardella is a Barcelona trio of musicians who stand for absolute creative freedom. So much so, that they ditched their vocalist as soon as they could so that they would be more free in their stylistic approach. On their third album Caracas this translates itself into an album of instrumental experimentalist art rock that is almost impossible impossible to pinpoint, and that seems to be the whole point from the get go.

These songs effortlessly bend their way from spastic free jazz to cosmic kraut through interstellar postrock and even Albini worshipping noise rock. Their great musical skill is always on display here, but they make room for atmosphere as well, being careful to let the songs flow, and preventing Caracas from becoming a self indulgent noodle fest.

Should we spend more words on it though? The band themselves don’t seem to think so, Opting to let their instruments speak for them. So you better find somewhere to listen to this album fast, and let your ears be the judge for you. Open minded jam freaks will rock themselves a third eye, that’s a Weirdo Shrine guarantee!

I am Jaime L Pantaleon  the guitarist , synths and noise guy in the band.

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

Gambardella is a Barcelona based trio. Our first LP  Benicarló came out in 2017. The second one Sant Andreu in 2019 and finally our last album Caracas  in 2022 but it was created and recorded during the worst days of Pandemic in the city of Barcelona. I remember that we made false passes to reach the rehearsal space and recording studio to avoid street prohibitions. Focussing on music we could confront the fears of the apocalyptic situation.  

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

We formed around 2015 in Barcelona  and we were friends who knew each other from other projects. Personally my former band was called 12twelve and we recorded two albums in Chicago with Steve Albini during the 2000s. Check out Speritismo from 2003 and L´univers from 2006.  In Gambardella both Victor Teller  (Bassist) and Oscar Altaba ( drums) came from other bands more focussed on Post hardcore and post metal bands like Room of Mirrors, Zimt, Oso….

Initially we met as a vocal band but early we realized that instrumental stuff was more inspirational and explosive.

What can you tell me about your musical backgrounds?

Our band is always like a washing machine of influences but mostly we hear jazz, minimal music, krautrock, early electronics and  every instrumental conception . We always conceive our music as a soundtrack and lately we are experimenting as a multi disciplinary act mixing audio visual design, music and improvisation at our live gigs.

In our  sound you can feel some base of bands like Fugazi, June of 44  but maybe our greatest influence would be Tortoise,  a band that we love and who taught us a lot.

What does a regular day in your life look like?

A regular day in our lives is very normal, just guys trying to survive. Our idea of music is quite away from commercial and we have to work for a living.

In our opinion, controlling all your processes in creating, recording and distributing gives us more freedom and autonomy. Our last record is gaining a good reputation and we are so happy with it. 

What is the story about the band name?

Gambardella is the surname of Geppe Gambardella the main character of the  Paolo Sorrentino´s film La Grande Belleza from 2014.

We love that film for being a kind of modern Federico Fellini and for representing the empty life of  luxury of a former writer that had great succes in the past, but  now he is like in deception of the human condition. A very philosophical film, in our opinion  very critical and introspective in some way.

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

At the moment Victor lives in Barcelona city and both Oscar and I live in small villages quite far from the urban turmoil. Covid as you said was a radical change in our points of view about living and I decided to run away from the cement. Oscar lives in Benicarló ( the title of our first record) his hometown. We are working on several projects with our band. The latest project is creating music in a program inside a jail for women. It s amazing the places where music could bring us.

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

I think creating every kind of artistic discipline is the most healthy activity in order to express yourself, feel and discover  a lot of things and always learning.

During 2017,  2018 and 2019 we did a lot of gigs in Spain and  we  played  as well in London, Leeds, Canterbury, Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague,  Paris, Geneve, Pisa  and a lot of European cities.  Pandemic stopped a good tour in Spain in 2020  you know, and just like a lot of other musicians we had to re make our entire world. 

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

We are fortunate in Gambardella because the three components have a super good workflow between us. Songs, sounds and passages normally come with a natural feel and we create relatively quick and easy. 

It s a real democracy and we used to create from improvising and compose in the moment. Not a writing leader. Our music is based in the whole band as an organism. We enjoy playing together and generally the three of us share the same idea. 

The big source of inspiration used to be experimenting with new instruments, patterns and music. We can play  from a totally electronic composition to a traditional Rumba. It s amazing, we are happy and conscious of this situation.

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

I can imagine that the dream of an artist is being able to focus in your creativity and forget a lot of the external world. Of course you have to be aware of certain mechanisms and lines of our cultural fabric in your country. In Spain there is a very little help for musicians if you  are not a teenager or you don’t have ( or don’t want)  commercial potential. We always thought in the richest countries in Europe it could be easy, but in the post pandemic times we suppose it  is difficult for everyone.

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

Of course listen and enjoy mostly the album Caracas.  We are very happy with this record because we have been able to recorded it live  in Wheel Sound Studios with Txosse Ruiz and all the glorious feeling and organicity of playing live gives that album just what we were looking for.

Thanks a lot Jasper!!!! A big hug to all Weirdo Shrine readers and keep on it.

Review + Q&A: Ivan The Tolerable- Black Water/Brown Earth + The Aleph (2022, Up In Her Room Records, Echodelick Records)

No less than three albums will UK solo artist Oli Heffernan AKA Ivan The Tolerable have released this year. One of them, The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe (Library Of The Occult Records) flew under Weirdo Shrine’s radar, but the other two have boldly found their way to the editor’s desk. Last year of course I talked about his incredible album The Long Year (ft. his Elastic Band) and interviewed the incredible American poet Karen Schoemer who featured on the album. This year I felt like the musician behind that album and many many more deserved a little extra attention, and therefore I hit him up for a chat, which he generously indulged in. Vinyl pressing issues might mean that the albums talked about below haven’t quite reached their target audiences yet, but they will, and you need to know about them and about Ivan The Tolerable.

Black Water/Brown Earth (2022, Up In Her Room Records)

Before jumping completely within the skin of his alter ego Ivan The Tolerable, Oli Heff was in King Champion Sounds, with members of The Ex, and collaborating with illustrious rock icons like Mike Watts of the Minutemen, and J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr. This is just to say that he is a veteran musician, a skillful sound maker, and you know, he’s been around the block a few times (just check out the incredible musical library he is building with Ivan The Tolerable alone!).

On Black Water/Brown Earth, his second of three albums in 2022, Heff called in the help of his Dutch friends Mees and Elsa in King Champion Sounds again, and wrote the album in a long distance session. The album feels like an excursion in nature, featuring bird song, flowing water, pots and pans percussion, and a genuine feel of wandering about and experiencing the outside world with eyes and ears wide open. It is a band effort too, with organic sounding drums, the characteristic saxophone, and droning synths. Out of the two albums on display here it is probably the most likely to return on a live stage somewhere as a vibrant jam session.

The Aleph (2022, Echodelick Records)

The Aleph is a rather different beast than its predecessor. Much more than painting a certain atmosphere in nature it feels like an immersion into a different world. It is an ancient Mesopotamian world, guided by tribal drums, Morphine-like saxophones, droning synths, and an allround stifling atmosphere. Is it free jazz? It is definitely free…and the rhythmical excursions are definitely quite out there at times. But there is a strong repetitive element to The Aleph as well, a drone, a pulling power that takes the listener into a spin and sucks it into this “other” world. It is unlike anything I have heard before, really. An adventurous experience, both for musicians and listeners.

On The Aleph Heff did work together with Thomas House (Haress, Sweet Williams) who mixed the album and added some guitars, but it is mostly a solo album, and sounds like less of a joint effort too. In a way that makes it a more exciting listen because you feel that the music could go any direction its maker pleases, and yet it remains a coherent story that somehow resonates its background story and its artwork (check out the interview below).

So let’s meet the mastermind behind the sounds: Here is Oli Heff(ernan), Ivan The Tolerable himself! What drives him, where does he live? And how the heck does he make so many beautiful records each year…read on to find out.

How are you, and how have you struggled through the pandemic period?
Aside from the impending collapse of it all, I’m good thanks! How are you? The pandemic was a total shitshow – so many unnecessary deaths caused by an appalling governments colossal mishandling of the situation. I found the whole ‘stay at home’ aspect of it quite a blessing! I got 8 months off work and I’m not very sociable anyway so I got loads of music recorded and watched an awful lot of TV – there was a point where I thought I’d completed Netflix! It was the longest time I’ve had away from work and touring since I was a teenager, so it was a welcome break really. I think i made about 8-9 LPs in 2020-21 during covid, so yeah… PRODUCTIVE! I lost my day job at the end of it mind, but it’s all good now! Haha

Can you tell me about your musical background?
I guess it’s the same as most peoples – I started playing guitar when I was a kid, probs around 1994, just teaching myself as I went along by figuring out songs I liked, then formed a band with my mates at school, then more and more bands followed until we get to today! I’ve never stopped really, not for more than a month here and there anyway…I’m kind of the odd one out in my family as no one else is into music or plays an instrument which was kind of nice growing up cos I could just find my own way without being made to take lessons or listen to things that were forced on me. I liked that way. I’m a firm believer in just finding your own way to do things

Can you tell about Ivan The Tolerable, when is it just you and when do you have a band
recording with you?

Ivan The Tolerable started by accident in 2013 when I recorded a bunch of songs for my band at the time (Year Of Birds) but they were a bit left-field for a speedy garage band so we didn’t end up doing them and I just put the tape out myself to get rid of it ( I hate having stuff hanging around) and then I kinda just never stopped doing them – for the first 4-5 years it was just me playing everything but for the last 4 or so years I’ve got a lot more people involved – it’s kind of like a very loose collective pool these days, which is great for me as I can work on stuff a lot faster! IDEAL! I have three albums on the go at any one time (with three different sets of musicians) so while I’m waiting for people to do their parts on one album, I can crack on with my parts for the next one – it works well if you are as impatient as me ha-ha. I still do stuff on my own quite often, but i prefer the ones with other folks more as I’m lucky that I get to work with some of the very best people! I think I’m up to about 25-30 albums? I’ve lost count!

You music is like entering a completely different world! How do you go about creating it,
especially all by yourself? Is there for instance a narrative you have in your head?

Not really, I never have a plan really, other than to make an album and I just start recording and keep going until its finished – occasionally if I’m working to a set of lyrics, I’ll have more of a plan but mostly it’s just instrumental stuff so I can just do whatever, which is the best way to do it! No constraints and nothing to overthink! I guess that’s the key for me – I can just do whatever I like! I never spend a great amount of time recording an album – that’s not fun for me – I see it more like audio photographs of a moment, rather than some overproduced, overblown “artistic statement” – life’s too short for that kind of thing, i just love recording and like to do it fast! If once I finish an album I feel like I never want to hear it again, then I know I’ve overcooked it! ha-ha the thing I do notice is that I can make two different albums a few years apart with totally different people and totally different gear and it always still sounds like me – that’s a pretty cool thing I guess. Like some sort of intangible quality that is there but also isn’t…Dunno how it works, but it’s true! I can also hear anything I’ve done and tell you exactly what I was doing, where I was and how I was feeling when it was recorded – which goes back to the audio photo theory!

Where do you live and how does it affect your music?
I live with my girlfriend and a cat in Middlesbrough, England (Between Leeds and Newcastle, right up in the North East) and it has zero impact on my music other than I find it hard to find the right people to play with in my town. There are lots of bands and musicians but it’s all very indie/rock/acoustic/covers-bands kinda stuff round here so I have to look further afield for people who are into the more left-of-centre stuff, which is why I record a lot and play live very little! A lot of the folks who play on my records live in Netherlands, USA and Spain so practicing is a bit of a pain! Hahah! but I do have a UK live band finally so we can play shows if something good comes up – we played Astral Festival in Bristol earlier this year which was the first time we’ve done it and it was lots of fun – I’d deffo be up for doing more so we shall see…But anyway – Middlesbrough has no effect on what I do – its where I live and where all my friends are, plus it’s a relatively cheap place to live (not that anywhere is truly cheap anymore) but I could make these albums anywhere I reckon, and they’d
sound the same. I could spout a load of bullshit about how I’m influenced by the hills and the industrial heritage and all that, but it would be a lie! It’s all just rattling around in my head trying to punch its way out, and my head can go anywhere!

The first album I am reviewing is Black Water/Brown Earth, what can you tell me about its
conception and its background story?

I had a mental block between November and April this year where I couldn’t seem to get anything done – my head was just not in it (It felt like the end of the world at the time, it always does – but in hindsight I think I just needed a break) I had started a couple of sets of songs but I was making no progress on them and just annoying myself – so I shelved them for a bit and started a new thing that I wanted to be very simple, just me and two other people (Mees and Elsa, who play on lots of my stuff) we were in King Champion Sounds together for almost a decade so we are very used to playing together, so even doing it via email it still sounds pretty organic) so I sent them sketches for a bunch of songs and then when I got their stuff back I added some more stuff and then mixed it very quickly and it all just came together really fast – it was such a relief to finally finish something after 6 months
of frustration! The week I finished mixing it I got an email off the folks at Up In Her Room asking if I wanted to do an album with them (They had seen us play at Astral Festival) so I sent them it and they liked it so that’s how it all came about! think it’s a nice sounding record – I cycle down a river every morning when I go to work and I made some field recordings on my phone over a couple of weeks of the birds and the water and they are mixed into the tracks too…aside from those bits it’s just the three of us playing on it – the trio thing is always fun, working with a smaller palette is nice sometimes!

The second album, quite quickly following the previous is The Aleph, what can you tell me about that one?
The Aleph was one of the ones I started in Autumn last year, but I hit a wall with it and shelved it for a while. After I finished Black Water/Brown Earth I returned to this one and it all came together quite fast now I was back on the proverbial horse – I added few more synths and doubled some bass tracks up and then sent it to my pal Thomas House (he plays in Sweet Williams and Haress, and used to run Endless Records out of Brighton, who put out a couple of Ivan tapes and records over the years) and he added a bunch of guitars and then mixed the album for me – he’s very good at stuff so it was very painless- again! Mostly 1st mixes of everything are what you hear on the album – he’s got the good ears for stuff – I’m really pleased with this record – I’m normally guilty of the “throwing everything at the wall and see what sticks” approach whereas Tom is all about space and minimal layers – but I wanted a different sound and he’s totally nailed it – he’s a genius. I was reading a book
of Jorge Luis Borges stories while we were making the record and there is one story called The Aleph which is all about the idea of there being a point in space that contains all other points, from where you can see everything in the universe from every angle simultaneously, without distortion, overlapping, or confusion – which I really liked and it felt kind of apt, so I named the album after it.

The Aleph especially has some incredible artwork! Who made it, and what is the relationship with the music?
I did the sleeve for this one (PLUG ALERT! I have a side-hustle doing sleeve art for bands, check out @ackackackdesign on Instagram for recent work – I’m cheap if I like you! PLUG OVER!) The image is a close-up scan of the endpaper from a Victorian encyclopaedia which I really liked the colours on, so I matched everything else up to it and all the lettering is hand done, one letter at a time with Letraset from my personal collection! ha-ha. Old school cut and paste! I think it suits the music nicely though, which is always the main goal. I do most of my own sleeves but in the last couple of years I’ve had too many records out so got a few other people whose work I liked to do some here and there, so I wasn’t swamped – Limited Output (my old pal Chappy from Newcastle) did the sleeve for The Long Year, Jordan Warren did the sleeve for White Tears and Nathaniel Winter-Herbert did the one for The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe – check them all out, they are fine folks!

Now you have released two albums in one year, what is the next step? More recordings?
Playing live?

I think its three albums this year actually! The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe LP on Library of The Occult was earlier this year wasn’t it?! ha-ha – so yeah – 3! it’s not my personal best (I managed 5 in 2020) but it’s a strong effort! After The Aleph and Black Water/Brown Earth are released, I have another album which is already at the pressing plant which is due out in April (it’s not announced yet so I can’t say any more, but I’m
REALLY pleased with this one cos it’s the first time I’ll have an entire ITT album I am actual able to play live so watch this space…) but I have plans to record a new album for Library of The Occult during November and December as I have some good chunks of time off work, and then after that I’ve got a couple of live things coming up that I need to work on…that’s as far as I’ve planned! I love watching TV too much to commit any further than that! I’m still getting used to not really touring anymore – Brexit and Covid and everything getting so expensive has really made it impossible for the small acts to make it balance anymore, sadly! I toured Europe for a month out of the year every year for the last decade, so it feels weird not to have any stuff on the calendar but I’m sure I’ll get used to the idea eventually. It’s probably why I’ve made so many records over the last two years – I’m overcompensating!

What is your ultimate dream goal as an artist?
I don’t think I have any! I just enjoy doing what I do! I’ve never wanted to be a musician as a job, I like having a normal job (I work in a print room) and doing music around it – stops it getting boring – I reckon it would suck if you HAD to do music every day, especially these days with all the bullshit social media you have to do constantly – i couldn’t do all that, which is probably why I’m not much further on than I am! I like it the way it is though. But yeah, my only goals are to keep making records until I peg it – keeps me sane! It’s a good release for an overactive imagination. But BIG goals nah, don’t have any! I wish I’d got to do a Peel Session, but I never did, does that count? Probably not seeing as it’s no longer possible! I’ve kind of done everything i ever set out to do and more! I’ve made loads of records, toured in loads of countries and met lots of the very best people. JOB DONE! I would secretly love to make a record in Studio 2 at Abbey Road though, but shhh don’t tell anyone.

What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do immediately after this interview?
Well, I’m going to go outside for a smoke, listen to the new Szun Waves album AGAIN and have a beer and then watch some TV. So you could do that if you want, but I’m not yr fuckin boss! DO SOMETHING THAT YOU LOVE! Eat a cake! Knit a jumper! Paint a room! Go for a bike ride! Have a sleep! If you are happy then, so am I.

Oli

Review + Q&A: El Universo- S/T (Echodelick Records/Fuzzed Up & Astromoon Records/The Weird Beard)

Ladies and gentlemen, we are floating in space, in Mexico, where the floating is good and very very experimental…

Leave it to El Universo to do away with any Earthly boundaries and conventions and just lift off into unchartered space rock territories with their amazing mixture of oldschool kraut (Neu!, Can) and modern instrumental postrock/minimal music. Throughout their self-titled album the listener is constantly kept on the edge of their seat because you never know what they will serve you next.

Will there be ten minutes of clip clop beats and distorted guitars? Will there be suffocatingly thick reverb blankets that take away all your sense of gravity and equilibrium? Will there be fuzzed up stomping about, will there be soothing repetitive guitar stroking? Yes, yes, yes and yes. But you never know what happens when, and since your sense of directions is very much screwed at a certain point you will find yourself spinning in a vacuum and seeing colors where there are none.

In other words; a pretty darn good time if you like to put some extra weird in your space rock. Which you do, because duh! You have found your way to the Weirdo Shrine

Originally, El Universo is just Eder Ademar doing all the work, but that’s no fun live and so Eder decided to branch out and add some members to a real live band that plays shows. About this, and more we talked over the interweb communication systems…

How is El Universo doing these days?

We are very excited about our new tour that will end with the Hipnosis Festival, featuring so many amazing bands that I really admire and that inspired me. Personal heroes.

Can you introduce the band to the Weirdo Shrine audience? 

We are playing live with Emilio Ponce on drums & Synths, Samuel Osorio and Gabriel Gavidia sharing bass and guitars, and me (Eder Ademar) playing guitar and synth.

What is your musical background?

I started to play guitar when I was 15 years old, I was taking lessons at a small school very close from my parents’ house and I remember I dropped it very quickly because the method was kind of boring for me. Some months later me and my friends started a band of surf music, we were really into that, almost without any idea of what I was doing. At that time I only had an electroacoustic guitar, I still remember my friends’ faces when I arrived at our first rehearsal. What I know about playing guitar is what I learned by playing.

Can you talk us through your discography so far? The S/T record that is issued right now through Echodelick is not your current newest album, right? 

Yeah, we put out a live bootleg in march of this year with some tracks of the first album and some new ones that we are playing live.

What is the best thing that happened to El Universo so far?

We played at forum indierocks for a HIPNOSIS showcase and the Vans Channel Session.

What can you tell me about being a space rock band in Mexico?

I think in general the Mexican scene is very open to different kinds of music but is true that is not easy to be an instrumental rock band, so many people always ask why the music does not have lyrics and I like to say that our music is like an open source software, we just give you some tools and you create your own stories and landscapes with your imagination.

What are your hopes and dreams for your music?

I hope to play so many festivals and live shows all over around the world, I know and I trust in the power of music.

Where does your inspiration come from?

Originally from watching documentaries of the universe, space missions and sci-fi movies, now I’m living with my girlfriend and my dog in San José del Cabo a very small Town with beach in Baja California Sur and I feel really inspired and connected with that place and with all the surrounding places.

Who are your favorite artists, current and in the past? 

I’m a big fan of CAN, SILVER APPLES, NEU!, GALAXIE 500, SONIC YOUTH, RADIOHEAD, MOON DUO, FLAVOR CRYSTALS & THE BLACK ANGELS.

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

Listen to El Universo 👁️🕳️🔺

Review: Spiral Wave Nomads- Magnetic Sky (2022, Twin Lakes Records/Feeding Tube Records)

Before reading this review, please take some time to check out the interview I recently did with Twin Lakes Records, More Klementines members and 50% of Spiral Wave Nomads drummer/keyboard player Michael Kieffer. It will help placing these very active psychedelic musicians into certain perspective, and hopefully also draw your attention to the plethora of other musical projects they are involved in. They are worth your time.

Together with Eric Hardiman (Sky Furrows) who pays guitars, bass, and electronics on this album, as Spiral Wave Nomads Kieffer has fully immersed himself into full blown instrumental jams. They absolutely go with every flow on this one, letting the conjured spirits of their own creativity take them wherever they may go.

The repetitive nature of the music is quite hypnotizing. A song like Carrier Signals for instance flutters upwards in spiraling motions, taking the listener on a levitational trip. The drums are more jazzy and supportive to the trip than machine-like motorik in nature, making Magnetic Sky a very natural flowing album, always wandering and seeking, kindly, without pressure, but with wonder and an always open mind. It’s like they warmly ask you: “hey, wanna go on a trip with us? Let’s go, man”, and if not that’s ok too. No hassle dude, better luck next time.

I have said this before, but I’ll say it again because it is extremely important to notice. It is mentally liberating to be able to trip on music like this. To completely be free in the moment. Especially when you do not have a mindset like Spiral Wave Nomads and your life is fleeting and stressful it is important to know that it is possible to take this trip with them and synch in this rhythm for just this album. They have invited you man, let’s go…

Review+ Q&A: Moon Goose- La Nuit (2022, Fruits De Mer Records/Inflatable Tarmac Records)

Sometimes it’s best not to overthink or over analyze things. Reading back my questions and the answers for the interview with UK’s space rock quintet Moon Goose I realized that what they expressed in words exactly covered what they are about; five guys creating music in the moment, taking it the way it comes in the moment. Not taking themselves too seriously, but definitely giving room for the free creative process. Anything they might think or say more about it is pretty moot, really. That does not mean it is less valuable or interesting as an art form though.

And it does not mean the listener cannot have their own thoughts. On the contrary, their new album La Nuit is filled to the brim with all kinds of crazy ideas and side paths that will make your brain do loopings and somersaults trying to stay on track of what is happening. Because with Moon Goose anything goes, within the domain of their -mostly- instrumental space rock psycho debauchery, that is.

Whether it is the soundtrack to understanding the inner feelings of future sex robots, being cursed by a lemon, or “a vicar’s brain being fried by the light”, Moon Goose will take you through it on this weird psychedelic journey. And when the final notes of Great Halls Of Broken Tools have sounded…you will hit the repeat button and take the ride again.

Moon Goose Dave handled the answering duties today, and as it appears these space rock Britons are just as as wacky in their daily lives as in their music businesses….

Hey Moon Goose! How is everything on your side of the globe?

Hello Weirdo Shrine! Literally everything is perfect on our side of the globe. No surprise really, once you know about the underlying geology in this part of the world. (It’s mostly Devonian-era Old Red Sandstone.)

Can you kindly introduce your band to the Weirdo Shrine audience?

We are five humans who use electricity, food and some other inputs to create noises which have the capacity to make people dance. 

What are your musical backgrounds?

Our musical backgrounds represent a clashing and infinite mix of styles ranging from Ennio Morricone to Jah Wobble via the sound of urban frogs in a storm drain on a humid Nairobi evening. 

Where do you live, and how would you say that influences your music?

Well the sandstone obviously influences everything else, including the heavy clay soil which supports a quixotic range of crops that can tolerate the waterlogged soil here in the in-between-space where England meets Wales. Overlay that biological reality with the tribal back-and-forth that characterizes life here as well as in the borderlands in every part of Earth and you will have a good understanding of the shifting identity, ruined castles, and potatoes that underpin our music. 

What does an average day look like for a Moon Goose cult member?

If we’re not riding the mile-high circular monorail that sketches the boundary of the entire bioregion, we are often to be found using our heads to roll gym balls up scree. 

What does it look like when you are writing music?

It looks like the feeling you get when you rediscover a half-eaten bag of crisps lying on precisely the windowsill you would have imagined it to be lying on, had you taken the proper time to think about it. 

Where do you gather your inspiration?

Inspiration-gathering is too active a description. Inspiration emerges when we play together in our barn. We inspire each other and the place we play adds its extra quality. Someone starts playing nothing in particular, someone else joins in, there’s a vibe or not, we remember it or not. Most if not all of our best stuff we’ve only ever played once when inspiration has crept up on us, and then we have failed to recapture it. If that sounds too fragile, don’t worry. 

What is “the dream” for Moon Goose as a band?

The dream is probably the ability to get somewhere close, on a record, to how we sound in the barn where we rehearse, on a night when the moon is shining and we are in flow. This would probably require spending several days and nights in the recording studio with our sound engineer Ryan and our producer Leon, maybe along with a pile of cheap garish cakes, and the more exhausted and delirious things became, the closer we would get to that precious barn vibe. 

What are you most looking forward to in the immediate future?

Realising our dream.

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

Feel loved. 

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

Interview: “Komet” Lulu Neudeck (Electric Moon, Worst Bassist Records)

A young Lulu (from her Bandcamp page)

Whether you know her as a cult hero on bass guitar for Electric Moon, a super friendly and generous distributor of vinyl through her Worst Bassist Label, or as a witchy cat lady living in a backwater woods area in Germany, you cannot have anything but the sincerest sympathy for Lulu -Komet- Neudeck. Since it is October 12 and International Hug a Bassist Day, I felt it was high time to honor her with a chat and some well deserved attention for her impressive contribution to the international psychedelic scene. Luckily, she felt the same way! So here we go:

Nice to finally do this interview with you! How are you these days?
Hi Jasper. Thanks a lot for taking your time for sending me some questions.
I am a bit puzzled by the circumstances. Having started my label right before the pandemic
kicked in, was a challenge for itself, that whole situation on the world doesn’t make it better. I have no new release in the pressing plant right now yet, so this means around 12 months
without a release… So I will have to check more artwork commissions to have a slight
stream of income. But it is important to see everything in relation again and again and to remind oneself that having something to eat and not facing a gun is luxury…. So all in all, I am fine, thank you, how are you?

First of all: can you introduce yourself, your music, your label, and your cat(s)? –insert
cute cat pictures here–

Yeah, hi, I am Lulu, nice to meet you 🙂 I am founder and bassist of the band Electric Moon, played bass in Zone Six for 11 years, graphic designed for both too and have founded a little independent label named Worst Bassist Records few years ago, of which my tomcat Johnny is the boss. Since some weeks, we have a new trainee-cat in the house, who learns quickly I must say. Since 2002 I do artworks as Lulu Artwork, commission paintings, logos, record covers, concert posters etc… The past 2 years I was diving into this a lot more again.

Johnny the Cat

How has the past pandemic period been for you as a musician? Did you see upsides next
to the downsides?

Yeah, all in all we all know the basic effects of the pandemic on musicians, so I won’t repeat those. But yeah, good question, and yes, there are indeed upsides! At least from my point of view… Times of lockdown forced ourselves to view the insides and I embraced that and took it as a possibility to get to know myself on a much deeper level. We always think we absolutely know ourselves, but spotting some blind spots can be very illuminating….


I enjoyed being a lot on my own, embracing the calmness of this state, create…The financial aspect is a total ruin but somehow it always goes on and on. I also learned to be more relaxed with that and to live more in the moment! Also, relationships changed and some improved, some fell away and that’s fine! Some connections even got deeper due to distance…Sounds weird first, but might make sense…

And how about for you as a graphic artist and label owner?
Well, same as above. For the label, it was and is still a hard challenge. But especially for visual artworks, it was kind of a blessing! It so much fired my creativity and changed my point of view to things. My sight changed. I saw art everywhere. In everything. Everything was kind of inspiring my view, my imagination, my senses, my thoughts…

Can you tell me what made you start the label two years ago?
In 2018, my collaboration with Sulatron Records as graphic designer, business consultant and trend spotter ended, so I needed a new job. I thought about what I can do and I thought, well, I worked with a label the past 10 years, which releases a band I am playing in – why not starting my own label and also release a band I am playing in? 😀 I needed an income and I did not want to go to government and ask for social system money. So I gave it a try and the 1st release started off well.

What does a regular “Lulu day” look like? And what does an awesome “Lulu day” look
like?
Hehe… A regular Lulu day looks like:
I get out of bed quite early in the morning, to have some free time before busting out my work mode… So I get up and cook coffee, feed the cats, sit there, meditate, drink coffee and get awake slowly. This needs time. Later on I check my schedule and start to work on it.
If a fresh release is here, I pack parcels the whole day. Coming to an end of my working day, I do my bookkeeping so that everything is always well prepared for quarterly tax work which I do on my own. In between all that of course, I have 2 hours of break to calm down nerves, muscles and brain, feed the cats again, cook coffee, cook some meal etc…At the end of the day, I take a longer walk to complete work and get rid of the work atmo in
my living space! I love my flexible schedule, so when I am not able to sleep at night, I can work on it either way and take a day off after such a night.


Where we come to a great Lulu day. A great Lulu day can be both, a very, very productive or
a very lazy selfcare day. A great Lulu day starts off with waking up somehow inspired and realizing, not so much physical pain is there right away. Having chronically lyme disease since almost a decade, sometimes fucks my system so hard, so a great day starts off with less pain and therefore more space for good stuff. After realizing my blessing, I cook coffee, take a walk in the morning sun and work a bit but mostly then on artworks, cause I feel so inspired then and happy. Sometimes, a great day also starts after a night I was painting the whole night and feel totally smashed but blissful. The great Lulu day often ends late at night, cause I have such a force of energy and drive on a great Lulu day, that I sometimes overwhelm myself with that, lol.

Where do you live and how does it affect your art and music?
I (yet) live in a very old house in the middle of nowhere in northern Hessonia in Germany. It is
the area where I lived in my early youth also and it’s not far from my dad’s house.
It affects my living as an artist / musician of course, surrounded by nature and the stillness at night… But I have to move out by the end of the year and this is a bit of a struggle right now, as it’s very hard to find something to live in this insane situation at the moment!

Art by Lulu

Tell me about your best memories with Electric Moon so far!
Wow, this is a difficult thing, not cause there are none, but as there are SOOOO many that
as soon as I wanna pick out some, I overtake myself in the brain, haha. Of course, the traveling in general when we have been on tour. It was always a blast, yet very exhausting, but also very inspiring and always a change of perspective, which keeps the mind on the move…


Some particular awesome moments have been on stage, where we all were so connected
and caught by the happening magic, that we all were looking at each other at the same
second, realizing what was happening there and feeling out of breath by that stunning
feeling of getting played by the music not playing it. Weird and intense and magical.
Also, I will never forget our 2 weeks Italy tour back then in 2013, where we traveled down to
south Sardegna, and when we played there in a little ancient town near a old spring with hot
sulfuric water etc…The night after the concert, we went to our sleeping place, which was a super old building, a small school. We arrived and there were some benches with trees around them, so we sat down and heard around hundreds of nightingales singing. When we went up to finally go to sleep, they all flew away which was a mesmerizing, sublime, and stunning moment. Never saw or heard SO many of them on the same spot…..


Or our residency in Tunisia where we stayed around 10 days with several bands, making
music together and hanging together and then, at the end of that, playing a festival where
you could hear a common influence on every band from every band. That was ace! It was in the middle of nowhere about 2 car hours from Tunis away, in an ancient area where an artist had built a cave for his artworks, kind of a showroom. There were so many weird, special and intense trips that I’ll never forget and am grateful for, having experienced them together. They’ll be locked in my heart for my lifetime. And, curious about what to come in the future….

What was your musical background before playing in Electric Moon? What and who made
you pick up that bass?

Mark Sandman of Morphine was the reason why I wanted to play the bass since I was a
teenager. But I learned Saxophone first, also because of them, haha. I have a total different musical background than you might think considering the sound Electric Moon had from the start. Of course, the “ol’ classics” are also in my background, like all that Pink Floyd stuff and so, from my dad. But also, I love electronic music, trip hop, punk, indie and am a huge, huge fan of Jason Molina / Songs Ohia…Also bands like Shellac and God Machine have been a huge influence to me.

Art by Lulu

What are you most looking forward to in the near future? And what would be a dream
goal for the longer term future?

I am most looking forward to finding a super nice place to live with my boss and his trainee, haha, sound like a old cat lady witch, but it might not be the worst (bassist lol). No, really, this is something I visualize every time I think about it and try to manifest it somehow. It is as it is, and what will be will be, is a good state of mind. What does not mean that nothing is a matter of interest to you, it just means to relax the tangling mind a bit more into the present moment…A dream goal for the longer future would be living near the northern sea. I have loved it since I was a kid. And I like the people in the north. Also, a more topic related dream goal would be making music with people like Emma Ruth Rundle

What is something that people should stop doing in your opinion?
Complaining less about others and checking in more on themselves might be a good start
:-D. Also, I think we all should feel more gratitude and should remember, that we’re a family here on this ball of rock, lava and other masses, floating through space, not knowing what would happen. I am not a fan of thinking about other people too much, so in my world, they’re free. But one thing, yeah, we all should stop, is this victim mentality position in which we put ourselves automatically, while complaining about others….

What should the Weirdo Shrine readers do after reading this interview?
Make love :))))

Review + Q&A: Korb- III (2022, Dreamlord Recordings)

Sometimes the less you know about a subject, the more interesting fantasizing about it becomes. Take space travel for instance In the 1970s and 1980s. Even before space telescopes started mapping our milky way (animated) movies about space travel showed us wild and foreign habitats like Le Planete Sauvage (1973). Korb knows about this, and plays with this notion when they vibe on space with their instruments. The video for Ritual For The Gods for instance consists of images from the French series Maitre du Temps from 1982. Korb take this naive and free flowing fantasy about space travel and go with it, weaving their 70s oriented electronics in the finest tradition of oldschool kraut rockers Can, Neu! and Cluster while maintaining a fresh outlook. Welcome to the third chapter of Korb, in which nostalgia and modern creativity fight for the upper hand creating an exciting modern carpet of instrumental psychedelic music.

It’s music to clear your mind to, letting everything go and just flow with it. You might encounter strange planets and exotic civilizations, you might not leave the confines of your home or even your head. It does not matter, Korb has got your soundtrack for spacing out covered. For the third time around, let’s take a trip…

I talked to Jonathan Parkes and Alec Wood about being in Korb and maintaining their record label Dreamlord Recordings. Here’s what the duo came up with….

How have you been guys? Can you tell me about the period between the previous record and the new one?

We’ve been busy. Since Korb II we’ve had various releases – a split 10″ with Kombynat Robotron on Weird Beard, a 7″ on Woodford Halse, Korb and Arboria tracks on Undulating Waters 6 & 7 on Woodford Halse, Arboria II on Dreamlord Recordings and Up In Her Room and most recently our album From the Mountains to the Oceans a collaborative project with El Hombre El Agua, another joint release between Dreamlord Recordings and Up In Her Room.

Can you tell me about the start of Korb? How did you find each other and decide on the sound?

We’ve been working together for over 20 years. We started out in a jazz quartet and having bonded over our love of Krautrock we started work on what would later become Korb.

Krautrock is very important to you guys, right? What could you recommend as the best (classic) albums to start with the “genre”? 

Some of our favorite Krautrock bands are Can, Faust, Neu!, Amon Duul II, Ash Ra Temple, Kraftwerk.

How do Korb songs come into existence generally? Is there a lot of spontaneous jamming or is everything more composed?

The tracks start spontaneously and are developed over a period of time.

Where do you guys live and would you say your environment plays a role in the music that you make?

We live in the UK but we don’t think that Korb has a ‘ British ‘ sound, We’re part of an international psych scene, our other project Arboria probably has a more distinctly rural British sound.

Korb’s music is -mostly- instrumental right? Did you ever experiment with vocals? Would there be a vocalist you’d make an exception for if he/she was available to work with?

All of Korb’s releases have been instrumental so far, but that doesn’t mean wouldn’t be up for working with a vocalist in the future. We worked with vocalist/songwriter Shane Horgan on the Wolfen album.

Do you listen to a lot of contemporary music? What are some names you’d recommend diving into at the moment?

We listen to a lot of releases on contemporary independent British labels such as Weird Beard, Up In Her Room, Woodford Halse, Library of the Occult, Drone Rock Records, Buried Treasure Records, Fruits de Mer Records and Feral Child Records.

The artwork is pretty amazing! Who made it and how does it relate to the music?

The artwork for Korb III was created by Russ Brown [ https://www.instagram.com/mrrussbrown/ ] and coloured by Dom Keen of Studio Kosmische. We asked Russ and this is what he said – ” Essentially it’s how I visually picture the music you create, I get myself into the zone by listening to your previous work and inspiration comes from ancient civilizations and 70s sci fi book covers “

What are your immediate future goals, and what is “the dream”?

For Dreamlord Recordings‘ tenth release we have a special double album with 24 tracks featuring rare and unreleased tracks that will particularly interest Korb fans, which we’re co – releasing with Fruits de Mer. The first Dreamlord Recordings release ‘ Mutante ‘ DR-01 is getting it’s first vinyl release on Up In Her Room Records soon. We are always working on new material. Currently we are working on various projects including Arboria III, Mutante III, Korb IV and The Hologram People.

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

Go and check out the Dreamlord Recordings bandcamp page – https://dreamlordrecordings.bandcamp.com/