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Kaleidobolt- This One Simple Trick (2022, Svart Records)

Can’t help showing you this snippet I wrote about Kaleidobolt’s album The Zenith Cracks ages ago on the Bearded Gentlemen Blog:

From Finland hails the awesomely monikered Kaleidobolt. On their second album The Zenith Cracks they prove to be an excellent jam band, conjuring the spirit of ‘70’s rock bands like Thin Lizzy and Blue Cheer while having absolutely no regard for songwriting rules or sense of time in general. What makes their sound so recommendable is its grittiness, the feeling of being surrounded by angry hobos that have accused you of stealing their meth. A band like Bison BC is similar in this respect, only Kaleidobolt are less heavy and more expansive in their approach. Hobo psych rock jam extravaganza. A perfect soundtrack for getting “strunk”, or whatever your mates call it when your stoned and drunk at the same time.

Plenty of hardworking and hard touring years, another album (Bitter), and a couple of rounds on the grindstone called life later and Kaleidobolt present their latest version of themselves: This One Simple Trick. It is a nice and composed work, still featuring some of their wild hairs, but definitely also turning into more accessible grounds and perhaps even opening up completely new markets for these Finns.

Album opener Fantastic Corps still storms out of the gate like some fuzzed up pack of Hellacoptered wolves. First single I Should Be Running is a completely different ballgame though, with a catchy chorus and gradual built-up towards ferocity near the end. It is a song that might have been written by a bigger band like The Black Keys, if they worked out more and weren’t so stuck up their own backsides.

Open mindedness and pure rock ‘n roll joy is key here, as the record jumps up and down from surf rock to psychedelic twirls, always with heavy sixties feels. The heavy fuzzed out bass and pounding drums are pushing the album towards the present, and it is also worth noting that while the songs are a pretty varied bunch of daffodils, they all have a very definable Kaleidobolt stamp.

Here is a “stoner” band that dares to defy the mold, while maintaining the fuzzy heaviness, they explore different nooks and crannies in the rock ‘n roll spectrum. Weirdo Shrine notices and applauds this. Let’s see how the European crowds respond…

Kaleidobolt

Hidden Fortress- The Blue Journey Into-Long Forgotten Sands (2022, self-released)

There are two things about this release by Hidden Fortress that made me crawl out of my smelly cave of procrastination and write this little review; its charming lo-fi musical sound, and the absolute beauty of the painting that is its artwork. It’s this fascinating psychedelic Van Gogh-like sunset on the cover that drew me in, it’s the sympathetic two-man psycho kraut boogie that made me stay.

Hidden Fortress are two guys from Charleston, South Carolina; Raphael Landauer on drums, and Graham Romero on everything else. As a band Hidden Fortress churns out short but sweet EPs, no fewer than four of them last year. The Blue Journey Into Long- Forgotten Sands is the first one in 2022, and it shows a slowburning, jamming side to their music. Each song is well over fifteen minutes long, and basically consists of a lazy bassloop, factory style motorik drums, and Romero laying down some laidback vocals or noodling solos on his guitar.

The recording is pretty much bedroom style and pretty dry, but all of the instruments sound ace, and the whole thing oozes a laidback vibe that would be exactly just like it would when you closed your eyes and these dudes would play in your living room. It made me hungry for another jam session some day soon…who knows? Maybe even this year?

Graham Romero

Review + Q&A: Kevin- Aftermath (2022, Riot Season Records)

Who is up for me some noisy Can-inspired jamming with heavy angular riffing and some guy yelling gibberish on top? All of you, right?! Right!???

Good, because KEVIN from Japan is here to give it to you.

Heavily inspired by Damo Suzuki era Can, and his extraterrestrial vocal delivery, these three gentlemen definitely got their Kraut stomp going on correctly. On top of that, they have a righteous type of noise thing going on, and they don’t ever shy away from being genuinely weird and impossible to pigeonhole.

Better check that jazz out for yourselves!

I had the honor to talk with drummer Yuichi Umemoto from the band, who did a great job answering my questions…

How are you doing? Can you tell me how the past couple of years have been for you as musicians in Japan? 

Due to COVID-19 and other factors, the days spent only in the confines of Japan were tedious. We wanted our music to cross borders and reach people all over the world as soon as possible. That’s why we worked hard every day on our live shows and songwriting. We are grateful that we are finally able to release our album to the world now.

Can you tell me about how Kevin was formed? And -most intriguingly- what does the band name stand for?

At first, four of us were invited by a friend to form a band. One of the songs we wrote at the time was called ‘Kevin’ and we named the band after that song.Over time, due to musical differences, the bass player left the band, and in January this year the vocalist also left the band, so we are now a two-piece with guitar vocals and drums.

How did you decide on your sound? What were your inspirations for the “Kevin” sound? 

The first thing that struck us was German music(krautrock). We were shocked by Can amongst others. Their human, dry, somewhat explosive beats shocked us. We took the explosive guitar sound of  Kawabata Makoto(Acid Mothers Temple) and combined it with an unprecedented ‘stillness’ and ‘movement’, which is the starting point of our music.
Kawabata is from Osaka like us, so we have seen him live many times and performed with him. He was also a big influence on us.

What are your musical backgrounds? How did you “grow up” on music as a musician and music fan?

We are brothers and we both learnt piano in primary school. That was our first exposure to music. It still helps us to this day. From there, we were exposed to various kinds of music, such as video game music and J-POP, which was popular in the early 2000s, over time. When we were in high school, we traced our roots to hard rock, heavy metal and punk rock, and when we formed a band and started performing live, we encountered psychedelic and jazz, which gave us an unprecedented shock, which is probably the source of our music today. We like any genre as long as it feels good to listen to.

Can you tell me about the role of the vocals in Kevin? I don’t understand a word of it, so any offered context would be very helpful of course 🙂

The vocals on this album have no lyrics. They were improvised and recorded. We hope you will listen to his voice as one sound or imagine what he is saying.

Do you feel part of a “scene” in Osaka/Japan? Are there likeminded artists you like to play with? Is there a club scene with regular shows, etc?

We feel part of the underground scene in Osaka.There is a live music club ‘BEARS’ in Osaka and ‘HELLUVA LOUNGE’ in Kobe. Mainly underground bands from Osaka play there, and we often play there. We play there with HIBUSHIBIRE, Mainliner and others.

What is your main inspiration to do what you do as an artist and release records?

We try to play what we like, the way we like it, without being restricted by genres or boundaries. We are happy if our live performances and records awaken something dormant in people all over the world.

What are your short term and long term goals for Kevin?

The short-term goal is to leave Japan as soon as possible and perform abroad. The long-term goal is to keep making good music and playing good gigs. This is more of a lifetime than a long-term goal.

Anything you’d like to add?

Thank you for reading.Please come see Kevin’s gig.

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

Please listen to our records and come to our live shows.

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Review + Q&A: Ambassador Hazy- The Traveler (2022, Cardinal Fuzz/Hazy House)

On his second album of home made trippy lo-fi fuzz, Sterling DeWeese AKA Ambassador Hazy once again proves he has a whole band in him. His jingly/jangly tunes feature acoustic guitar, fuzzy solos, distorted keyboards, and his characteristic vocals that walk the thin line between insecure and lazy in an undeniably sympathetic way.

It’s music that lets it all hang loose, in proper Velvet Underground fashion, but with a distinctive smelly attic vibe that is definitely not as cool, but all the more cosy and comfortable. Like that ugly rug you kind of need to throw out, but you won’t because of all the memories and because it ties the room together. Yeah, it’s proper “dude” music.

The Traveller isn’t in any way cartoon character goofy though, there are some serious undertones flowing through these tunes. They are just being dealt with in a very laidback, hazy way. And if you don’t like that, well, that’s just your opinion man…

I talked with the dude Sterling Deweese himself, and this is what he said:

Hi Sterling, how are you? How have you been these past pandemic years?

I’m very well thank you.  All things considered, it hasn’t been so bad. My family is healthy and I managed to make a couple of records.

So, this may be a weird question; but are you named after the drum part? And do you use it?

When I played in Heavy Hands our old Slingerland kit did use to to have those heads on it. The guys took to calling me that or just Hazy due to certain habits of consumption that might have given me a bit of brain fog.

How do you usually spend your day?

By day I work doing architecture and design.  

How does music fit in your life usually?

Usually it fits in wherever I can find time which can be complicated between work and family life.  Most often I’m working on music when my wife is out of town on business and my son is asleep (well upstairs supposed to be asleep), so that makes the time I do have limited and I usually get right down to business and try and get something going.

Ambassador Hazy is purely a solo project, right? How come you don’t work together anymore? 

I’ve been recording at home for many years on a 1/2″ 8 track so I have piles of old stuff – but most of it is more in the way of demos that were recorded while I was playing in other bands as a way to develop material.  Eventually the tape machine stopped working, and this coincided with a period where I got married and had a kid so there was 5 or 6 years there where I was pretty much entirely dormant and not doing music.  Then one day I decided it was time to get back at it and I spent some months finding the right guy to service the machine (long story).  And I built out a small studio in my basement, bought some new toys to equip it and then I started making some noise again.  Initially I tried to get together some guys for a band but it was always complicated to schedule and pretty erratic but we did do some stuff which you can hear on the first Hazy record.  For the new record The Traveler it is entirely a solo endeavor as it wasn’t really possible to collaborate in a airless little basement room due to the pandemic.   I have finished a third solo record as well recently and that will probably see the light of day in about another year given the long lead times for pressing etc.

What is your goal with Ambassador Hazy?

 The goal is to make cool music – and just get lost in it. It’s definitely a sort of escapism from the mundane everyday life.   

What are lyrics to you? Do you tend to overthink them or are they rather more of an afterthought? How do they form in your head?

Typically I don’t start with the lyrics, it’s usually something that comes in after there is already some flesh on the bones of the song.   I do try and structure things so there’s a space for the lyrics but rarely do I start there.  I think the only song that was done in a more “traditional” style and written on an acoustic guitar with a lyric already in place was Gone to My Head.   All the other tunes are layered up where I start with one idea or riff and go from there.  When writing lyrics I usually try to do it in a naturalistic way so I’m not overthinking them and usually it’s something that happens very fast and I prefer not to do a lot of takes.  Keep in mind I’m working on tape so most of these takes are straight through and not edited in little bits and pieces. I prefer the song to feel like it was done live.  Some songs are basically improvised around an idea or a phrase and if I like what I get I’ll just leave it, other times I will spend a bit more time composing, but I don’t usually ever get past 2 or 3 verses.

What have your influences and inspirations been as a solo artist? 

Mostly on the turntable at home I am still stuck in the 60’s and 70’s or even earlier (lots of country blues etc).  Also lately I have been revisiting the music of my teenage years; Spacemen 3, Spiritualized, Jesus and Mary Chain etc.  Though I would say one of the great things about doing these records has been getting exposed to a lot of great contemporary artists thanks to all the heads out there running great labels and doing radio shows.  

Will Ambassador Hazy change a lot in a post corona world? Will there be live shows/a band/etc?

I think Hazy will probably remain a studio project, though I would like to start collaborating again.  As far as doing a live band I don’t know that it’s in the cards just yet, but who knows what the future may bring.   

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

Roll a number.  Pop on some headphones and listen to a few numbers from my new record.  And, of course, please buy a record. 

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)

Lammping- Stars We Lost EP (2022 We Are Busy Bodies)

I am in love with Lammping’s guitar tone. The moment I discovered it on their previous full length album Flashjacks I knew something heartwarmingly fuzzy and special was going on. That album wasn’t one of my favorite and most listened records of 2021 for nothing after all. So I was thrilled like a little schoolgirl getting an ice cream when they announced a new EP and opener Everlasting Moor kicked in right instantly with that fat tone.

The EP pretty much kicks off where Flashjacks left us, so if you were paying attention you’d know that these Torontoans are the kings of kickin’ it back. The sleepy, “all good bro” vibes are still there, but Stars We Lost sounds somewhat more hopeful and positive, hell even damn poppy and catchy most of the time. It’s perfect Sunday morning wake ‘n bake music. Somewhere in between psychedelic stoner, 90s nerd bands like Cake (Never Phoenix), and the wavering hippie psych rock of a band like Wooden Shjips, there’s the unique amalgamation of Lammping. It’s just as quirky as their moniker, and I hope they’ll never lose their unique style of being weird and genuine.

Lammping

Too bad Stars We Lost is “just” a twenty minute long EP, but with these guys it’s like one of your best buddies just came by to chill and have a couple of beers. In other words; they are always welcome, and always a good time to hang out with. I’m glad I found their company and I can’t wait to see what their good vibes will bring home to me next time.

Review + Q&A: Wild Rocket- Formless Abyss (2022 Riot Season Records)

Astronauts, when looking at the planet Earth from high above in space, have often felt epiphanies in which they felt compelled to protect it from our own silly behaviors. More than once these epiphanies led to climate activism, or at least an urge to tell as many human beings as possible what a great thing we have here, and that it would be such a pity if we wasted it. A change in perspective can do so much, and here is where Wild Rocket flies in.

The Dublin based band offers a ride into space for anyone willing, and you don’t even have to be a rich asshole like Musk or Bezos. You just have to squeegee your third eye and hop on the Wild Rocket, as it embarks on its massive space rock journey away from our tiny little blue planet and bound for anywhere your imagination dares bring you. While your facial skin tightens from the rocket’s warp speed, the gigantic engines thunder with orbit flinging gravity; this band knows that space rock needs to be heavy to mean anything.

On Formless Abyss, the Wild Rocket has three stages: the heavy Farflung goes postmetal scorcher Formless Abyss, and the dark ritualistic space drone Interplanetary Vibrations. They each last about ten minutes, and then there is the grand finale of the 20 minute monster space jam The Future Echoes. The track becomes heavier and more metallic as it unfolds, even reaching straight up doom metal boiling point at times. The shamanic vocals remind of US sludgy space doomers Zoroaster, evil and low, conjuring up all kinds of imagery that depicts that our future echoes might not be all that bright…

Still, in all its heaviness, Wild Rocket’s space rock journey does give us some perspective on our meaningless life on this little blue dot. We might not all become climate activists after this, but we will be a bit more humble.

Wild Rocket from Dublin, Ireland

I spoke to Cian “Moose” Meganetty (bass) about Corona, being heavy, and influences…

Hi guys, how have you been these past pandemic times and how has it affected being in the band and making music for you?

Same as most people I presume. Was very hard to get all of us in the same room for most of the pandemic. Myself (Moose) and Niallo did get to jam fairly regularly which was good and defo helped keep us sane. We wrote the guts of a record but there’s still plenty of fleshing it all out with the rest of the band. Things always evolve quite a bit once everyone gets involved so don’t be expecting anything too soon.. Obviously we had no gigs to play or attend which was very strange but we all have our health which is the main thing.

Can you introduce yourselves? Where do you come from physically and musically? 

We all come from various parts of Ireland, mostly based in Dublin or Wicklow (bordering county) except Bres on drums who’s been living and working in London a good few years now. We broadly come from a punk/metal background with some experimental beat music/electronics/noise/kraut along the way too. Music with a high level of intensity is the connecting factor across what we listen to and this is reflected in what we do as a band.

In what ways does your geographical situation influence your music?

We like to think we have a fairly strong Irish identity to our song writing and avoid sounding like a band trying to be English or American. Our use of the Irish language reflects this too. The sea surrounding us here plays a big part of our lives too between swimming in it. Having to cross it to play another country. Being in pure awe of its power. Then there’s a fascination with the ocean depths and it’s parallels with deep space.

Formless Abyss sounds freaking dense! What has been the biggest influence for that do you think? And, always a question with space rock. was there a lot of chemical enhancement involved?

We aim to make music that is tangible and can be felt as well as heard by the listener. We also live in heavy times so it makes sense to us that our music reflects this. I love the sound of thundering rivers after heavy rain and waves crashing on the shore so want to also reflect that kinda heaviness in our sound.


There’s also two drummers of course, nothing really sounds as full as two lads on two full drum kits. The effects used play a big part too. All dirt for guitar and bass comes from Moose Electronics, on this record guitar is mostly Battlehammer drive/distortion and bass is the Nomad fuzz. We’re tone chasers too so all the guitars/bases have been customised along the way. Any space after the above was pretty much filled up by George with his modular synth. Production philosophy on all our records has been “everything louder than everything else”  So the answer to that question is really that everything together makes the record what it is so there’s no real biggest influence on it’s sound.

Not a lot of chemical enhancement, we’d be more into beer/stout. Ireland does have a long deep relationship with the other world and we certainly try to tap into that too.

What is the favorite letter in your record collection and why?

Can’t go wrong with B. Close to the start of the collection and includes Black Flag, Black Sabbath, Bong, Blown Out, Bloody Head, Beak>, Beastie Boys, Bongzilla, Bad Brains, Big Country, Bruxa Maria, Buczzcocks, Big black, Black Eyes, Buttholes Surfers. Yepo defo a good letter.

What constitutes “jamming” to you. When do you know it’s been a good one? 

We jam riffs and see where we end up. A good one is when everyone has enjoyed it and/or we get a song/song section from a jam. Live we mix up tight structured sections with sections that allow more exploration while sticking to the core theme.

With what goal in mind do you play shows? Is there a big difference in jamming when there are more people there?

Jamming for us is us in a room together exploring riffs and sounds. Once there’s an audience it becomes a performance. We may explore with the audience present but most if not all we do in front of an audience will be within a predefined structure. We’re certainly not a jam band. If both band and audience can achieve a sense of catharsis and/or otherworldliness we’ve been successful. We also try to have as much fun as possible, it’s pointless playing music if you’re not enjoying it.

How did you end up releasing a record with Riot Season Records? 

We’re all huge fans of the label. Andy has released some of our favourite records over the years. I (Moose) became friendly with him when he did a tape release for Worst, a band I played in too. We’d spoke briefly about working together with Wild Rocket so when this one was ready I sent it to Andy to check out and he was into it and offered to put it out for us. We’ve been more than happy working with Riot Season Records and hope the relationship continues.

What are your immediate and more distant future plans? 

Get back to playing live regularly starting with our record release party in a couple weeks here in Dublin. Get the next record written and recorded. Keep moving forward.

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

Obvious answer, check out our record Formless Abyss if they haven’t already and dive into the Riot Season discography.

Lamp Of The Universe- The Akashic Field: Review + Q&A (2022, Headspin Records)

Sitar-emulating guitars and snippets of mellotronic violins lead up to the hazy vocal lines of Return As Light, the first song of the new Lamp Of The Universe album The Akashic Field. New Zealand native Craig Williamson has once again taken a dive into an ocean filled with kaleidoscopic transcendentalism, and this is what he came up with.

I thought about how cool it was that we came into contact, just shortly after he was recommended to me by Scott Dr Space Heller in his interview on this very blog. He felt Williamson with his bands Datura, Arc Of Ascent and Lamp Of The Universe was a kindred spirit and wished to meet him some time. On The Akashic Field it is demonstrated where those warm feelings stem from.

The music is a mixture of classic 60s psychedelic rock, intertwined with Middle Eastern folk elements, and extremely dreamy multi-vocal patterns. Further on the album sometimes his spaceship takes flight into heavier, fuzzier, space rock territory. It is music made for mind traveling, and meant to take the listener on a magic carpet ride over multi-colored dunes, acidic green oceans, and through wondrous caverns and glowing riverbeds. It is such a satisfying flight, tailor made for headphone heads, with lots of nooks and crannies to explore by ear for days to come.

Spending the Corona years in New Zealand, Craig Williamson wasn’t too much affected in his daily routines. I talked with him about this and the new record, and luckily he was willing to shed some light on all of that and more…

How have you been in these pandemic times? How has life been in New Zealand for a musician?
For me musically, it hasn’t changed anything. Obviously there has been a few disruptions with work and what not, and life in NZ isn’t quite the same as it used to be yet, but its getting there… fortunately we haven’t been too effected like the rest of the world.

Can you explain what living in New Zealand has meant for your music? What was beneficial, what less so?
It’s hard to say, as I haven’t lived anywhere else and it’s all I know. But from visiting other countries I feel the amount of extra space we have here gives you a different perception, and that seems to help quite a bit. There are downsides to being so far away from bigger scenes, but its something that is known, and worked around, so isn’t so bad I guess.


Can you sketch your career so far for our readers? What are some of the absolute highlights?
My career started in 1999, as Lamp of the Universe…and has slowly expanded in many different ways. I’m about to release my 13th full length album next month (January 2022) and am still excited by the new music I’m hearing from others too. Highlights would be releasing the first Lamp of the Universe album “The Cosmic Union”, hearing about artists I look up to say they’ve heard about me or have said they like my stuff. To be honest all the positive reactions from everyone to what I do is a highlight for me.

Craig Williamson


Can you tell us about the way the new album came into being? How was it written and what did you set out to achieve?

I always write for myself first, and I’m continually writing. But this time around I wanted it to be more energetic, more band sounding, so I think that’s how it’s going to be perceived. I wanted to achieve a bigger sound too, improve the overall vibe by making everything a bit more clear and full.


When are you satisfied with your music? Is there a certain formula for a Lamp Of The Universe song?
There’s no real formula, I just go by what feels right. It’s hard to say when I’m actually satisfied with each track, because you could go on adding things forever, but usually just when it just feels and sounds as close as I can get it to how I hear it in my head.


What music are you listening to these days? Are you more of an oldies guy or do you still like to explore new artists?

I like to explore, constantly. I still love the “oldies” too though. My latest things I’ve been listening to would be Aphex Twin, Radiohead, Electric Wizard, Naz, Mastodon, Adam Geoffrey-Cole, Miles Davis, Napalm Death, Pete Namlook, Klaus Schulze, Archgoat, Laszlo Hortobagyi.


Can you tell me about the lyrical concept of The Akashic Field? 
It changes from song to song so there’s no concept as such. The Akashic Field as a title though could basically be seen as a receiving of all influences, an accepting of all information I can process to create a new album from influences that I’ve experienced over many years.


If you could curate your dream band, who would be in it and why?
I certainly wouldn’t play!!! I’d just watch in amazement!!!! The band would be Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix, Paul McCartney, Klaus Schulze, Ravi Shankar and Ringo Starr.


What does the word psychedelic mean to you in the fullest sense of the word?
It means freedom to do what you want musically… to drift into the worlds beyond and back again.


What are you doing after this interview? What would you like our readers to do?
After this interview? Probably have dinner and then, like I usually do, work on new music into the night, and listen to LPs. The readers can do as they please, just be nice to each other!!!

Craig -Lamp Of The Universe- Williamson