Review + Q&A: 23 And Beyond The Infinite- Lumen Del Mundo (2022, Dirty Beach/Stand Alone Complex Records)

Somewhere in a scorching desert outback three men in black walk the thin line between surf and postpunk. They smoke heavily and psychedelically, purple clouds permanently emanate from underneath their black rimmed cowboy hats. Among them they share a love for old bands like Joy Division, Dick Dale, and The Gun Club. And currently they are entranced by outfits like A Place To Bury Strangers, The Horrors, and King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard. Mostly they just want to rock out though, and they want their audience to dance like there’s no tomorrow.

Like their fellow Italian countrymen A/lpaca they know exactly how to make crowds sweat, and how to write the ear worm tunes that could potentially entrance the masses. Lumen Del Mundo is not easy listening though, and it is still rough and heavy enough to scare most dancing little girls back to their respective mamas. It is doubtful then that this album will bring 23 And Beyond The Infinite any popstar fame, but just might bring them to enough dark and smelly basements across Europe to achieve a steady underground status.

I for one can’t wait to join them in their dusty desert trip, as they surf the waves of sand from dystopian post punk bomb shelters to other borderline shady rock ’n roll communities where they will reap new souls for their quest of bringing their Lumen Del Mundo to the world…

I had to have a chat with drummer Gianluca from the band, we talked about pandemics, influences, and new hopes and dreams…

Hi guys, how is 23 And Beyond The Infinite doing? And how have you managed the
past few years?

Now we’re fine, we’re playing as much shows as we can. We released our previous
record during the pandemic and had to cancel a 15-shows European Tour and all
the upcoming dates and it’s been frustrating… But luckily things seems to be going
definitely better. We hope so.

Can you introduce the band? That band name definitely screams for an explanation :))
The band was born on May 23rd 2012 and that’s the reason for the number 23 in the
name. Beyond the Infinite because we don’t want to have any kind of limit and also
because it’s a nice quote from 2001: a Space Odyssey. We started as a 4-piece band
but now we’re the 3 of us. Our music is influenced by a lot of different things like
post-punk, shoegaze, psychedelia, surf rock and we never thought about playing a
specific music genre. We just meet and play as it comes.

Can you describe your hometown/regional scene in Italy? Are there many bands you
feel connected with?

Here in Italy, probably more than anywhere else, there’s a truly shitty mainstream
scene but also a lot of cool bands and artists moving in the underground and we
love this kind of a strong contrast. There are also many independent spaces, radios
and webzines and we hope we’ll be able to create a strong independent net in the
underground one day. In some ways we feel connected with many artists. Here are
some random names you should listen to: Forever Alien, Unruly Girls, Faintin’
Goats
, Clustersun, Hate Moss, God Of The Basement, Lame, Movie Star Junkies,
Maria Violenza, Iosonouncane, Violent Scenes, The Jackson Pollock.

What can you tell me about the making of Lumen Del Mundo? What was your goal at
the start, and how did the process go?

Lumen Del Mundo is our first record as a 3-piece band. It started as an experiment
but easily became our roughest work until now. We put a lot of energies in it and we
hope we’re also able to transfer them to the listeners. The composing process has
been very natural and the live recording and the post-production (made by a
magician called James Aparicio) truly emphasize our live impact and energy and
our natural way of playing this strange mix between post-punk, garage, shoegaze
and surf rock.

What other bands in the world do you feel a connection with? Are there certain bands or
types of music that all band members agree on?

Sure there are. Spacemen 3, The Black Angels or Messerchups for an example are
bands all of us have been listening to a lot and they probably influenced our way of
playing. But we all listen to a lot of different Italian and International stuff. Recently
we’ve often been listening to King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard while on tour,
they’re crazy.

There is a certain Western/surf vibe throughout the record that gives it a warm vibe,
even though it is quite a dark record at times too…can you explain where that comes from?

It’s not easy to explain it, but for us has been really easy to mix this deep dark post-
punk sacredness with some warm desert-surf-psych waves. We really didn’t think
about how the record should play before composing it, we just met and started
playing and we wrote all the songs in a few months. Lumen Del Mundo contains all these vibes and it’s kind of a sum of our art. We feel it like a strong ray of light
coming from the deep space to rip the darkness.

What can you tell me about your upcoming tour? Any other future plans?
We’re playing many shows around Italy during this Spring-Summer and we’re also
working hard to tour Europe again during next Autumn. Stay tuned, beautiful news
are coming soon.

What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do immediately after this interview?
Obviously he has to listen to our last album and then to all the other interesting
music that is coming around.

Singing your own words in your own language: Moura- Axexan, espreitan vs. Leda- Marocco Speed

Mankind has sung songs from the moment they could utter words, and probably even before. In folk music and pagan cultures people have always used their mother tongue to tell each other ancient tales of their people. Of course since the introduction of pop music almost a century ago the world has mostly switched to English as a universal language to express ourselves, but of course there are exceptions. Today I’d like to highlight two of them, and focus on why they use the language they use, and what it means for their art. They are Moura from Spain, and Leda from Italy.

Moura, 2022

With Axexan, espreitan (2022, Spinda Records) Moura from Galicia emerges with their second album of adventurous psychedelic and progressive folk rock. Galicia is an autonomous community in the North of Spain, and Moura is proudly raising its flag for awareness and pride in their heritage. The music breathes a certain ancient folklore tradition, through its rhythm, and instrumentation, but also very much through its lyrics. Now, I cannot understand more than basic Spanish, let alone the Galician language Moura sings in, but it is clear that these lyrics are meaningful tales of Moura’s Galician roots, and the music brilliantly helps painting this picture.

More than just a traditional ethno folk group though, Moura has implemented influences from psychedelic 60s and 70s rock, like lush organs and hazy repetitive jams, that give their sound a unique twist. The fact that they have maintained their original language helps them stay absolutely sincere. It might raise the bar for interested people from without the Spanish language sphere, but once you’re in there is a captivating world of colorful depth to explore.

Axexan, espreitan is a wonderful album of psychedelic music in a language different from mine that still speaks to the same heart; the universal love for self-minded and creative music. The English language is faling me in expressing how highly I recommend this album.

Leda- Marocco Speed (2022, Il Piccio Records)

(Leda is not on Bandcamp)

The first time I heard of Italy’s Leda it was the title track of their latest album Marocco Speed. I was deeply impressed by the unique sound, and placed it somewhere between the 90s triphop of Portishead and other amazing slightly psychedelic female fronted metal bands like Dust Moth. The Italian language used in the song gave it a unique twist.

The Italian language fits Leda’s music so well because it has a very Italian feel. It is quite smooth and streamlined like a well known Italian sports car, it accentuates female beauty in the center with its wonderful singer Serena Abrami, and it focuses on a light industrial vibe and style. Furthermore a song like Il Politicante has a certain bombast that feels Italian as well, like it wouldn’t be out of place echoing through a big football stadium.

Not all songs hold a similar amount of magic as the aforementioned title track, but Marocco Speed does hold a certain spell over its listeners that make you bound to it for the entire ride. It is not every day that we can take a holiday in Italy through a new and exciting rock album. Leda makes this day dream a reality.

Leda, 2022

Studio Report: Giöbia

Sometimes you just have to be bold. So when I saw my Facebook friend Melissa Crema was in the studio with her band (and one of my personal favorites) Giöbia, I couldn’t help contacting her. She has been the driving force of these Italians behind the keyboard, and to my absolute delight she was willing to answer my questions and even add some pictures. The result is a cool “look over the shoulder” of these great psych artists while they do their thing recording the new album and unveiling some details about one of the albums I most look forward to in 2023…

Hi guys, how have you been this pandemic period?

Even though the last two years of pandemic have been very stressful because of the lack of gigs, we managed to take advantage of the bad situation to work on new songs, so that our upcoming album will be ready to be released next year. On October last year we also released a split album with The Cosmic Dead on Heavy Psych Sounds. We have never stopped making music and we can say most of the time music gave us the strength to go on.

Melissa Crema in the studio

What are the current studio plans? Is everything written? Do you leave room for improv?

We are currently finalizing the new album recordings in our third studio session. For what concerns the songs we have composed and worked on so far, we have already recorded drums, guitars, bass and organs, so right now only the vocals are missing before having everything properly set for mixing. By the way, like we did in our last albums with the songs Heart of Stone and Sun Spectre, the upcoming one as well will feature some studio improvisations. We do have a natural inclination to jam, it is something we really love to do. Besides the recordings, recently we have received several proposals for gigs and festivals, so now we are focusing both on the new songs and the rehearsals in order to hit the road soon.

Melissa Crema recording

Is there a big difference in writing and recording compared to your last record Plasmatic Idol?

One of the differences between the previous albums and the upcoming one is that now we are recording in a new studio, called Elfo Studio, based in Piacenza, Italy. We are working closely with a very competent technical staff which has been helping us to make the most of our instruments and gear. We are really happy about this and satisfied with the sound of the songs we are working on. Unlike “Plasmatic Idol” the new album will sound rawer, I mean less sophisticated and more straightforward, so that the songs will be very impactful for the listener.

Drummer Pietro D’ambrosio recording

What are the lyrical themes?

The lyrics reflect the strange period we have been living, with all the frustration it brought into our lives so far. We are used to put in music our feelings and this is what we did this time too – disorientation and confusion may blur vision, but they may also be inspiring somehow. The listeners who sharpen their ears will also notice some references to the war in our songs, being that we could not remain indifferent to the what is happening in Ukraine and our hearts ache for all those who are involved.

The band in the studio

Around what time is the album going to be finished? And which label will it be on?

We plan to finalize the new album before summer and to release it at the beginning of 2023 on Heavy Psych Sounds. It is still too early to unveil the precise date, however you will hear from us soon… stay tuned 🙂

What are your plans after recording? What is your ultimate goal for Giöbia?

Our ultimate goal is to leave a lasting mark with our music, which is our lifeblood. Our priority and what we care most about besides the recordings is to start playing again like we did before the pandemic, touring abroad and meeting old and new fans and friends. We miss the contact with people and standing on the stage in front of the crowd – that’s a unique and invaluable feeling. Our next stops will be Sideral Fest, Heavy Psych Sounds Fests in Winterthur and Salzburg, Volcano Sessions and Saalepartie. Please come and join us!

Guitarist Stefano Basurto recording

Any other projects you’re working on?

Another project we are working on is La Morte Viene Dallo Spazio. The guitar player and I we also play in this band with which we released our second album called Trivial Visions on Svart Records in March 2021, in the middle of the pandemic. We can say Giöbia and La Morte Viene Dallo Spazio run on two parallel tracks, as with this band as well we are recording the new album and getting ready for several gigs and festivals.

Review + Q&A: Lay Llamas- Goud (2022 Black Sweat Records)

Lay Llamas is an Italian band project featuring Nicola Giunta and Gioele Valenti (JuJu, Herself) who have been releasing records for quite some time. Their previous record Thuban was released on Rocket Recordings and featured guest artists among which Mark Stewart of The Pop Group, and members of Goat, Clinic, and Julie’s Haircut. Goud (Gold) is just the two of them though, but it definitely sounds as eclectic, if not even more.

What we get is an imaginative jungle of bird sounds, flutes, new wave synths, all kinds of percussion elements, and vocals that sound at times like Leonard Cohen at his very darkest, and at other times like the most lysergic and stoned hippie choir you can imagine. It is dreamy music, and as surprising as dreams can be as well. One moment you find yourself in a primitive hut in Peru chanting shamanic mantras, the next you’re dancing a drugged up dance on heavily pulsating dub beats.

It’s this freedom and complete creative open mindedness that is so compelling about Lay Llamas and their new album Goud. You never know what they will do next, and what sound collage or filmic scenery lurks around the corner. It’s definitely a trip, and a recommendable one at that.

I talked to Nicola Giunta, who was happy to explain what he and Lay Llamas are all about:

 Hi Nicola! How are you, how have you been doing the past years of the pandemics? What has it meant for you as a person and for being in a musician?

NG: Hi, I’m quite well, thanks! 

My past two years were been…busy! And I don’t talk about Covid and pandemic issues as usual. In february 2020 my second child were born. Just at the start of pandemic here in Italy. So I did it as full time family-man.

At the same time this never seen before situation gave me a strange and lovely feeling of peacefulness. So I did a lot of new music, art, video and projects. 

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your daily life?

NG: My daily life: family, everyday job, music, study, visual art, books, documentaries. 

Does the place where your live affect your art? And if so, how?

NG: no, I don’t think so. On a subconscious level maybe. 

I’m all the places in which I lived until today.

How is your relationship with Gioele Valenti? How have you met and how did Lay Llamas come to be?

NG: First of all Gioele is a very dear friend of mine. We met 20 years ago, in Palermo. We’re sicilian both. Gioele is an amazing musician, a real intellectual and a true gentleman.

In 2013 english label Rocket Recordings asked me to write a record as Lay Llamas, so I ask to Gioele to work on lirycs and vocals, as well as some instrumentals. 

What is the typical Lay Llamas style in your own words? When do you know a sound is fit for Lay Llamas?

NG: Basically is about something into past and future at the same time.

Something hazy but clear as well. An epiphany.

Goud actually means gold in my language (gold) Can you tell me about the concept of “gold” for your new album?

NG: The question is: what is really valuable nowadays? Time? Money? Health? Spiritual development? Environment?

So I chose that single word (Goud, gold). Of course I mean not the yellow metal. But something as meant by the alchemist from the past centuries. 

What were your most important outside influences when writing Goud, being music, or anything, really…?

NG: Nothing in particular as all is One. Music comes from the deep. And then goes out.

Do you feel socially conscious when writing lyrics? Is there a certain message you wish people heard when listening to Lay Llamas? 

Sometimes yes. I mean we don’t write protest songs or something like that. Not a proper message in Lay Llamas. A feeling of traveling circularity maybe.

What is the ultimate goal for Lay Llamas to reach? And what are your short term goals?

NG: More Lay Llamas music.

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

NG: Just go outdoor. Take a breath. Stop thinking. Stone thinking.

Nicola Giunta (Lay Llamas)

Q&A with Farflung- 25.000 Feet Per Second (2022 Sulatron Records vinyl re-release)

To travel space is to travel time. Modern day space rockers have always also traveled back in time a bit, specifically to the 1970s when krautrock sprouted from bands like Can, Neu!, and space rock started coming up with the legendary Hawkwind featuring a certain mr Lemmy Kilmister…Farflung is very much aware of this history, being around for quite some time themselves already. Now they are returning to the international stages through the vinyl re-release of their stellar 1995 debut album 25.000 Feet Per Second on Sulatron Records. Cause for celebration of course, and for an elaborate chat with the band’s main two members Tommy Grenas and Michael Esther. Better buckle up for this one, because it is going to be quite a trip into the past and present of this space rock institution!

Can you tell me how you have managed as a musician during the corona crisis so far? In what way(s) has it affected your ways?

Michael:
it has changed everything here. We live in a small town in Italy close to the first epicenter of the pandemic. It’s been really difficult and I worry about how it will effect the independent music scene and what it will look like going forward….
In terms of my own creative practice, the current  vibe has affected it in what ways I am not sure. I will need  a bit of distance, a bit of of time to see in what manner it shaped things.

Tommy:
It did not really effect me that much for a couple of reasons. I moved away from the big city [Los Angeles] about 3 years ago to Ulster county, NY, in the Catskills, and it’s in the forest on the side of a mountain, kinda isolated. I still go back to Los Angeles to do non musical work to keep me financially afloat.

Farflung has never really earned the band much money, and I do get some small royalties from the many Lps and Eps released over the years, but I certainly don’t make any sort of living from it. The band is also spread around the globe a bit, so we don’t just get together and play a lot of shows either. This is the way it’s usually been for quite a while.

It has not ‘Artistically, ‘ affected us either. Michael works on ideas and music in Milan mostly, and I pen lyrics, flesh ideas out and write mostly play riffs, melodies on guitar and make note of them when the urge takes me. As I said I travel to LA to work, and at the end of a job, meet up at Farflung’s 2nd home now’ “Saturn moon “ studios in Yucca Valley, the high desert. I’m joined there by Chris’s Nakatta, owner, multi musican, engineer, and Farflung drummer. Also longtime guitarist and swell guy, Paul Hisher meets up to add to whatever gets created. The core drums, guitar and bass is laid down, and then we flesh it all out between Milan, NY, and Yucca to create something.

We rarely play in the States. I’m just not really into doing that here. But we do love playing in Europe. We usually play at least every couple of years there, and that’s where Corona virus effected us. Unavoidable really, but I have to say we’re not like a lot of bands that heavily rely on that. I really do feel for other musicians and our booking company IBD, who must have suffered through it. We’ll be out again when it passes I hope.

Can you tell me a little bit of where and how you guys live and how you usually go
about your day?

Tommy:

I usually go for a long hike with my dog into the forest, and to the bottom of the small mountain I live on. It takes me through the trees and along streams , rivers ,rock formations and shady areas where I can find mushrooms and plants to take home . After that I usually call into Los Angeles to try to set up work , check in with my friends online, family in Northern Ireland, Michael in Italy etc…

There’s a lot of maintaining and work to do at the house, it’s a constant or nature and the elements can take over fast, but it’s work outside mostly and I love that. We also have our own water now, and a backup generator cos the power is out often. We are subjected to a lot of freakish sudden weather sometimes. My wife Abby Travis is a musician also, and we’ve made a pretty good studio in the old basement dug into the side of the hill. It sounds good. She works there more than I do.

My life is mostly keeping the house alive, then sporadic hard periods of work in LA to make money. I work on music here and there, but it needs to come naturally. Farflung I think has worked this way for a long time. There’s never been an urgency to release something, and we’ve never been on a big label that’s demanding a life on the road or a lot of commercial work opportunities. I don’t think back in the day we would have turned that down, but now we’re groaning old men. It works out ok I guess ha ha.

Michael :
I live in a small town in Northern Italy, on the banks of a river…
The opposite of Los Angeles, things here are slow and quiet….
A day usually consists of, in no particular order
Play with my cats….
House chores
Work on visual art
Work on music
Bake bread
Read

Farflung in 2021

You have been around in the psych/stoner/kraut scene in Europe and the USA for quite some time, what is or was the best time for this scene would you think and why? Can you share some memories?

Michael:
That’s difficult to say, when you’re young everything is new and exciting….
I hope the psych scene will keep rebirthing itself in interesting ways….

In terms of memories there are so many. Maybe meeting people and having the chance to play shows and collaborate. Roedelius, Going fishing with Damo, shrooms with Del and Nik, Dave Catching’s and BOC’s cooking and generosity, Ian Maclagan’s guitar, Hutch’s workshop. Tom Grimley’s noise bombs, Raging Slab’s farm, Silver Apples, Gong, Amon Duul, Ronnie Wood, weird parties in the hills……I could go on and on and on……

Tommy

It’s always been my favorite genre. I grew up in the world of post punk and alternative, but as mark e smith said, know your history. Older friends and of course John peel taught us of the forefathers of it all, and this is what really interested me. I lived in the shadow of Hawkwind, Gong, and here and now, but it was upon discovering Can, and Neu I really got inspired to make the music I do. Yes, I grew up and played in garage bands in Belfast and the UK doing our version of our punk hero’s etc, but the cosmic route was the grounding rod.

After living briefly in london, I moved to Los Angeles in the mid 80s with this firm in my brain, and what surprised me was that space rock, krautrock awareness was almost non existent. I met some folk like Don Bolles of the Germs, and Damion Romero of Slug who loved the sounds of kraut especially Neu but that was it until I met Len del Rio, my partner in my first band Pressurehed, then Michael Esther of course in Farflung. Pressurehed was a cross pollination of industrial punk, and spacerock. I released about 3 Lps with that band and did many shows in the collage rock underbelly of Los Angeles. I had heard a few bands around the US spacerock scene, but apart from fi, Mars everywhere, alien planetscapes, architectural metaphors, and scattered planets, it seemed like a lot of bands were Hawkwind tributes or rather weak sounding pseudo prog cover bands. Pressurehed , Helianthus, and Farflung were always a movement combining trippy elements to take the influences and move it forward.


I also think as far as Hawkwind was concerned, people totally missed out here on the tribal, freak, political communal intent of the group of musicians I grew up listening to, and being artists trying to create a movement of radical and conceptual sound. Same goes for Amon Duul II, and Faust etc. You had people that were just not in a band for being a band, but movements including radical visual, theatrical and spoken word artists creating a movement. Later with psych I feel, things got really boring and predictable when rather square characters were basing their sound on pseudo metal concepts that I never understood. whilst I somewhat kinda loosely liked some metal, I thought it was mostly a cheesy gag . I still don’t understand the rather silly culture around it other than having a rocking when drunk like for the music, but a chuckle for the content.

Farflung I like to think, was more aligned with things cross pollinating in the early 90s with many influences. Like many folk might have quoted the Butthole Surfers with a rock vibe like Chrome or tg, Loop channeling- seminal Stooges, Spacemen 3 – vibing Suicide, I’d more think of us as a kinda Amon Duul, Ashra Temple, Cabaret Voltaire , sorta thing at the time. That’s just my opinion for what we were doing when we started. We were playing lots of free shows and collage gigs when we started, our roots were firmly planted in that atmosphere. We shared the stage with a very eclectic and diverse crowd of performers and audiences.

Farflung in 1995

Can you tell me specifically about the time 25000 FT was released? What was the status of the band at that time? What was the reception? Did you tour a lot…etc!

Michael:
It was a great time filled with lots of energy and musical experimentation.
Brandon and I were students at Calarts  and were tied into that scene. There were three schools: Calarts, Art Center and Layola Marymount, each had it own little music scenes and they cross pollinated in the East LA music scene……

Tommy:

It was a somewhat  unique crowd of people and performers all trying to create and melt in a mostly non rock environment in Los Angeles based around collage radio and individualism as I just described.

Europe is no stranger to themed events or outsider festivals, but it was rather non existent in Los Angeles where the band was based at the time we started. Apart from the odd event type things set up by likewise minds here and there, it was the usual hair band nightclub like venues where most bands had to run the boring gauntlet to get a gig.

We did not have any desire to be a part of that, so warehouse , art studios, loft gigs were more our thing. Most of these were themed evenings combining mixed media artists and performers. It was not necessarily a rock type thing.

When I met Michael, when his band Helianthus was playing gigs around the Calarts collage area and my band Pressurehed, around punk and loft venues. When Farflung was born, we were writing a lot and playing in this circuit when flipside magazine approached us to record our first lp 25000 ft.

We had known the work Tom Grimlry had been doing with Slug, the Haden sisters, Beck, Rod Pool, Polar Goldicats , Uphill Gardeners, etc, etc, and liked his sound. It was also important to me that there was a diversity and total individualism with each band, with the outcome being equal in productive freedom.

When we went there with our post punky, krauty alternate sounds it was a total un-challenged freedom to create that first lp. We have definitely weaved our way through different periods but the intent has never changed. We continued to play what I remembered as cool events and interesting evenings at that time.

Michael:
We did a few short tours. But it was difficult in those days in the states. We did one with Raging Slab and another short East Coast thing with Nik. Nik Turner and Farflung as the Sons of Cydonia…..

Tommy:
Long tours really weren’t an option.

 We would also jaunt up to sf at that time but that was the extent. When 25000 ft came out it was a very local underground type of deal. We had our fans and people but it was very localized.

During that period we realized demos and the cd were spreading between the collage radio stations and reaching the early networks of diehard spacerock fans. I was also keeping in contact a bit with some of the Hawkwind folk like Nik, Hawkwind guys, and Helios Creed.

Farflung live in 1995

Which or what influences have made you into the musician you are to today? Can you recall the moment you knew you just had to “go for it”?

Michael:
Music for me while growing up, was a thing that was always present. It gave me an overwhelming joy….
Music as well as books and visual art were mysterious and transported me to other worlds.
I just naturally gravitated to towards doing those activities.

I grew up in San Francisco,  the Stones  were playing. Probably the 1972 tour maybe the Winterland. There was footage on the evening news of Jagger dancing around with a huge scarf. To my parents  dismay, I thought it was the coolest thing ever. I just wanted to dance around with scarves…I wanted to be just like him but I ended up  more like a damaged Richards. Tommy and I even to this day after a few whiskies  have been known to  break out our Jagger dances….

Tommy

As I said, early Hawkwind, Neu!, Can, Cabaret Voltaire, Amon Duul II, the Fall, This Heat, lots of post punk bands. But I also love early dub, severed heads, soundtrack music ect ect. The biggest influence though is the day to day experience and my band mates around me. I’ve always bounced ideas between me and Michael, and now Chris and Paul.
We’re a band in every sense of the word, I just tend to move rather fast on things and go off the wall here and there. As a kid, I remember the first time I had the go-for-it experience was probably hearing radio Luxembourg playing, neon lights by Kraftwerk in bed one night on a transistor radio.

I was just blown away by the simplicity and change in the rock dominated sound at that time. It really sounded to me like things had moved into modern times, and it did not mean anything to me specifically about synthesized sound or whatever, rather than I was entranced and moved by it. Not long before that, like most kids in Belfast, it was Never Mind The Bollocks. My gran was mortified when by accident she walked into my room when Johnny sung Bodies and dropped the tea tray. Also, they were all over the papers etc. I just loved them and that lp at the time. Fondness but not necessarily influence was watching Top of the pops in Ireland as a kid, Sparks, the Sweet, T-rex, Bowie, all that stuff in the mists of time.

What do you think about the psych “scene” today, is there one? Do you feel there is a lot of support for our music these days? Was it better before, and how?

Tommy
Yes. I am glad that in recent years, Wooden Shjips, Electric Moon, Dead Skeletons, etc are around, but also I the recent past Loop, Spacemen 3, Spiritualized, 35007, the Heads etc are making sound. I don’t care for “stoner rock” or Sabbath clone rock, it’s overdone and always has been. It’s time to get over the desert thing. Most bands out there have been over that and moved on a long time ago. As I said before I don’t listen to progressive metal or any metal stuff for the most part, but don’t have any thing to say to people do. It’s their own bag. I’m a bit of a historian, I’m still discovering new bands from the past to this day. I’m a crazy record collector and have a lot of obscure and interesting things. I’m so caught up in discovery, I don’t really pay that much attention to the current. Paul in Farflung turns me on to a lot of new things. Some of them I’m like. It’s a pity we have not toured in a while due to Covid, as it’s a great opportunity to shatter the past and the now in the van.

The psychedelic music scene has of course always had associations with drug use, or at least being inspired by the use of certain psychedelics. In what way have you experienced drugs as an inspiration for your art?

Tommy:
Yes of course. I live up here in the wilds of Ulster co New York. There’s a lot of things growing in our woods, not also for the mind but also the body. I’ve learned a lot. I can’t think of any Farflung lp were it might not have played a part in something. My musical contribution with FF is a form of shamanism in some form or another. What grows is a gift.

Michael:
In my youth, it was about expanding my consciousness. A search for greater meaning and understanding. A type of slowed down focus….a soft world……but that’s a long time ago now. We’ve seen the upside and downside of that path……
In relation to our collective musical work. I am always searching for a kind of feeling inside the sound that we are making, that is difficult for me to locate with words. Sometimes we accomplish it and sometimes not….

Farflung live in 1995

Can you tell me about your current status? What about Farflung should be aware of or waiting for?

Michael:
I am hoping this year will be one of lots of activity. We have lots of ideas we are kicking around….

Tommy
We just finished a new lp that is in the works with Dave and Sulatron records. We are very happy to be working with our old friend. It’s basically mixed but who knows when it will come out.

(The pressing situation in general is quite dire and there’s a huge backlog dave has to deal with due to Covid,. )

It’s mixed and I just finished the artwork. I think it’s a natural progression from all the last Lps. We don’t like to repeat ourselves, but broaden the horizons. It’s a very natrual progress, and maybe this is the most cohesive recording from the most solid lineup of me, Mike, paul, and chris from the past, 10 years or so. It’s a transcendental journey that has the “Farflung flow” that is our signature, passages and journeys through the minds of the disturbed, euphoria, and unknown. I rather happy with it.

Which current artist do you like? Which artist would you like to read an interview with?

Tommy:
I kinda like the psych band A Place To Bury Strangers, but they seem to be getting rather popular and maybe have enough interviews already. Dave from Sula Basanna ‘s Loop Drones lp is astounding, I think maybe you just did one from him. I don’t know really.
I’ve never read an interview with Del Dettmar from Hawkwind. I know he lives alone in Kootenay Bay in British Columbia and has done so for the past 35 years. He played with the band Melodic Energy Commission in the past, but has been steadily making music on the VCS3 since he moved there. He lives alone in a cabin and used to plant trees out there . His music is very interesting and cosmic. I’d love to hear about what’s going on in his world.

Michael:
In terms of new artists Tommy is much more up on that than I am….
Del sounds like a great choice to me …..

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

Tommy:
Go outside and look up at he sky.

Michael:
Then look down, dig a hole and plant a seed….

Giöbia/The Cosmic Dead- The Intergalactic Connection-Exploring The Sideral Remote Hyperspace (2021 Heavy Psych Sounds)

Talking about a record that does exactly what it says on the tin: The Intergalactic Connection: Exploring the sideral remote hyperspace is exactly the super psychedelic trip into space and beyond it promises to be.

The two veteran bands, Giöbia from Italy and The Cosmic Dead from Scotland, complement each other quite brilliantly on this 38-minute wonderful little split record released by Heavy Psych Sounds. Giöbia contributes two new songs and a cover of Pink Floyd’s Julia Dream, while The Cosmic Dead takes up the entire B-side with their 20 minute monster jam Crater Creator.

Giöbia is one of my favorite psych bands out there, playing a lush melodic style of psychedelic rock with influences from ancient folk music as well as early Pink Floyd and classic space rock. Their sound is heavy on the synths, and I love the way they interchange male and female vocals. It’s a very versatile sound that never bores and keeps me hungry for more (where’s that next full length!).

Giobia

The Cosmic Dead on the other hand are by far the heavier of the two. Taking their time to let their jam Crater Creator warm up, they then embark on a sonic space journey full of distorted guitar wailing and intuitive psychedelic outbursts. You can hear the eardrums pop when imagining this band in a live setting. I find it a consolation that on this record I am the master of the volume and the captain of this sonic space ship.

The Cosmic Dead

This split album presents us with two completely different bands embarking on the same mission: to conquer space and to leave its listeners swirling and longing for more new tunes. Hopefully their black hole will be filled by Heavy Psych Sounds soon, but for now this brilliant split will do nicely.

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

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

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

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

JuJu

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gioele Valenti

Oslo Tapes- Ør (2021 Pelagic Records)

Space is the place indeed! The new album by Italian neo-krautrockers Oslo Tapes ignites in all the right colors with opener Space Is The Place, setting the tone and atmosphere for the rest of the record. This is an album for heads, reverb addicts, and krautrock chewers with their third eye widely open to weird experiences.

Your mind needs to open itself like a window in spring, because Oslo Tapes don’t walk any easy roads. Nor do they settle for a certain comfortability in their sound, as each song sounds completely different. For instance, Zenith and Kosmic Feels are more electronic-based haze tracks, while Bodø Dakar starts of with a Queens Of The Stone Age riff, only to completely electro-fy it later. Sometimes they do a ritualistic New Order dance, at their poppiest they’d even border 80s wave like Cocteau Twins. At other times they edge towards goth via Nine Inch Nails or even the harsh psych noise of a band like Gnod. And not a Norwegian in sight! It’s outrageous.

As an album experience, Ør really feels like a dream in which your mind wanders from room to room. In each room there’s a different weird experience, from the surreal weightlessness of Exotic Dreams to the electronic gothwave stomp of Obsession Is The Mother Of All. However, in all its haziness one thing is crystal clear: Oslo Tapes provides an electronic palette of sounds and will never settle for boredom. Ør is an electrifying album that serves a much needed breath of fresh air in a scene based on old values. It comes highly recommended.

A/lpaca- Make It Better (2021 Sulatron Records)

Is there ever enough King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard music? Considering their ever-growing discography the Australian psych garage heroes themselves don’t seem to think so, and neither do the Italian psych heads of A/lpaca, as they truly wear their influences on their sleeves. The real question is: do they really Make It Better? Well, it’s probably better to let the listener be the real judge of that, but I can say that this debut album is as enjoyable as it is impressive.

First of all; all of the songs on Make It Better are memorable ear worms that will quickly nestle themselves in your earholes and make you hum along phrases like “death in the citadel!”, “Make it better” and “bring me to the city…”, so that’s already a job well done in a genre that often tends to focus on atmosphere and less on proper songwriting. There’s plenty to move your limbs to as well, with A/lpaca focussing strongly on postpunk-y drums and faster paced jams in line with King Gizzard songs like Robot Stop and Rattlesnake.

I do have to say that the songs on Make It Better are a bit less intricate and layered, and might even come across a bit one dimensional, but in return they slam a whole lot of directness and urgency on the table, which definitely counts for something I guess.

In conclusion I’d like to point out that I hate having to compare A/lpaca to their Australian peers so much, but they should probably take it as a compliment. After all, there really aren’t many weirdo psych garage bands out there with a similarly fierce and adventurous approach, and definitely not in Europe. So I do think once the borders re-open, these guys have their work cut out for them touring!

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La Morte Vienne Dallo Spazio- Trivial Visions (2021 Svart Records)

La Morte Viene Dallo Spazio: death comes from space. If you are -unlike me- not a complete moron when it comes to Italian you might have unravelled that mysterious band name by yourself already. To know it is to hear it too; because it is exactly what these Italian Startrek loving void cruisers sound like.

The music is dark, there are clear traces of (black?) metal, through guitars and drums. Keyboards and synths are dominant though, and the main feeling through out Trivial Visions is that of being hurled into a black hole eighties style; in sloppy 2-D, with 8-bit special effects. Which is wonderful of course, and weird. Wonderfully weird. A band like Giobia (who they share members with) sounded this spacey before, but without the metallic touch, and considering bands like Oranssi Pazuzu and Dark Buddha Rising are also on their roster, it is not surprising Svart Records signed them.

I like how a lot of these jams are instrumental, how the band invites you to fill in the blanks and create your own creepy sci-fi movie in your mind. Sometimes theremin/synth/keyboard muse Melissa Crema does lend her voice for some reverb-drenched postpunk singing, like a drugged and distorted Siouxie Sioux, but most of the time it’s just you and the band for the ride.

A wonderful ride it is too, its 41 minutes are so extremely vivid and adventurous they feel like a ride in an amusement park to me, and over before you know it. In all its goth sci-fi horror schtick it sometimes threatens to be a bit cheesy and over the top too, but when the whole trip is so freaking exhilarating, there is no way that’s stopping anyone from falling head over leather clad heels in love with it. It’s space man, it’s death from space, it’s La Morte Viene Dallo Spazio; one of the most exciting and thrilling space rides you’ll experience this year.

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