If there is a staircase somewhere to measure epicness in music, Elder is definitely quite high up there. Their brand of psychedelic prog rock is towering high above their peers, each song taking its time to build up carefully only to crash down on the listener with mighty waves afterwards.
Innate Passage, a passage from within (beautifully illustrated on the album cover), is Elder’s latest display of power. On it, in my mind, they hark back to the crushing heaviness of their masterpiece Lore, without losing any of their subtle progression on the albums that came after. Your head will need a little time to fully wrap itself around this “inner passage”, but when you do you will be thoroughly hooked to what probably is the highlight of heavy psychedelic prog rock this year.
The band builds a cathedral, rather than a rock album. The base is of course drums, bass, and Nick DiSalvo‘s ever impressive guitar work, but a cathedral needs more than just a solid foundation to impress. With carefully added layers of acoustic guitars, mellotron, and for the very first time some vocal help from German stoner powerhouse Samavayo‘s Behrang Alavi Elder has also added the outer and inner arches, gargoyles, and ornamental features.
Innate Passage feels like a cathedral when you enter it too, in such a way that you can wander in it for quite a while and still be amazed when you look up and scale the ceiling paintings, or when you discover new patterns in the stained glass windows. Elder awaits you at the entrance time after time, and each time seems to give you a more extensive tour.
The Weirdo Shrine travel agency of psychedelic prog tripping cannot recommend it enough…
To me these days, there are few things as satisfactory as a bunch of free form musical artists finding each other and jamming like there is no tomorrow. To me they are like mind readers almost, or cosmic weavers of sonic threads. The band Can were based on this principle, and they spend many months perfecting their jams, often culminating into what they called “Godzillas”; slowly built up eruptions of sonic energy.
More Klementines definitely bear fruit from that can, and they definitely share four of their most successful Godzillas on their new album Who Remembers Light. There is in fact little about it that I do not like. Whether they wax instrumentally like on opener Hot Peace, or add lyrical poetry like on the much shorter Key Of Caesar, they do it in a way that is ephemeral in nature, here one moment, gone the next. Like ideas, and thoughts, More Klementines’ improvisational music comes and goes, back and forth, sometimes steady rockin’, sometimes more fragile, but ever flowing.
Who Remembers Light is a photograph of this ephemeral power of More Klementines, a recorded moment in time where they rocked, and flowed freely amongst newly discovered sounds. Freshly picked klementines for your listening pleasure…
So I discovered about More Klementines rather late, more than a month after the release of Who Remembers Light. The more I found out about them the more I liked them though, because aside from cool musicians im multiple bands they are also proud record label owners…let’s quickly dive deeper into that with the trio that makes up More Klementines!
Hi guys, can you please introduce yourselves to the Weirdo Shrine audience?
Kiefer: Hey Jasper, thanks so much for taking an interest in More Klementines. Michael Kiefer here, and I play drums in the band.
J: This is Jon – I’m the only person in the band not named Mike or Steubs. I play guitar, banjo and lap steel.
Steubs: Esteemed congregants of the Weirdo Shrine, I greet you heartily! I am Steubs, and I play strings, keys, delay, and bells.
How have you been the past pandemic years? How did you see it affect your musical careers?
J: The pandemic required stepping back and putting things on hold for a bit – in a way it was nice to pull out of the game for a bit and spend time listening and going for walks in the woods. Fortunately, we were able to share ideas and work through new material. One highlight of the pandemic was recording our “sk8 @ yr own rsk” record where we regrouped for an afternoon outside and got to play in my backyard in the fresh air.
Steubs: All that time to play with no real agenda but to try to entertain myself, led to some new ways to hold the instruments, and make happy noise with less of a focus on plucked notes or stacked harmonies. Something about that time led me to seek out lighter ways to make the instrument move the air. Something about melody, harmony or even traditional dissonance seemed to bring the dark quarantine times into unwanted high relief, and finding ways to make the instrument hum, hiss, wobble, and take up new sonic spaces made it seem like I was moving through the time better.
Kiefer: It definitely afforded me some more time to get back to practicing the rudiments of drumming, while also exploring ways to create new textures around the kit.
Can you tell me about your band(s)? I have just been listening to the last More Klementines a lot! It’s awesome! But there is more, right?
Kiefer: Thanks so much! Yeah, I also play in a psych duo called Spiral Wave Nomads with Albany, NY’s Eric Hardiman. We’re just about to put out our 3rd LP, Magnetic Sky in November–another co-release with Feeding Tube Records. And Jon and I also play in another outfit called Drifting North. It’s kind of a fresh take on the Cosmic Americana that’s been bubbling up from the American underground the past several years…psychedelic folk tunes and garage rockers that can morph into motorik train beat jammers or freeform meditative folk ragas.
J: Yes. As Mike mentioned, he and I play in another project called Drifting North that includes some heavy hitters from New Haven – we’re moving into recording mode with a batch of songs and jams and hope to put out songs in the coming year and a full record to follow.
Steubs: My recent side project joy has been to play drums with my kid’s band, and to work on some solo sound compositions and try to teach myself about synths.
What can you tell me about the Twin Lakes record label?
Kiefer: Well, Steubs and I started the label back in 2007, I think when we were still working as a duo called Myty Konkeror…
Steubs: Ah yes, I remember it well! We had a lot of friends at the time with tape labels, or self-recorded labels, and it seemed more logical to pursue the music and the distribution on our own terms. The surprising bit, was that as soon as we released anything by ourselves, we were overwhelmed by amazing musicians seeking help to release their music. We’ve always sought to do limited runs, records if possible, and with the band bringing a unique or handmade art design to the table. It feels like, and felt like, even way back then, that to put a physical object into the world, it had to have some love baked in as well as some aesthetic merit.
Where are you guys from, and how does it affect your music?
Kiefer: Jon and I live just outside of New Haven, CT in Branford/N.Branford, while Steubs lives in Brooklyn. I’m not sure how it affects our music. There’s certainly a lot of great music around the New Haven area, like our friends in the Mountain Movers, Headroom, the C/Site label run by Stefan Christensen, Henry Birdsey, Mercy Choir, Lys Guillorn and many others. Plus other CT artists like Michael Slyne and Fatal Film in New London. Seeing them all continue to keep working and push their creativity in new ways pushes us to keep going and exploring new sounds.
J: Living in the woods of Connecticut near the shore gives the opportunity to listen to the trees, lapping of the water, and drive winding roads while listening back to recordings and mixes. Something about these surroundings permeates the music – it’s kind of a state of mind- the ebb and flow of the tides that pulls on things and has profound influence in subtle ways.
Steubs: The music scene in and around New Haven, CT is very special, and one of the most underrated deep beds of weirdo-music talent in the U.S. People are caring and real and involved the rest of the community at large. I’m so lucky to know Mike and Jon and to be able to get up there to bang around with these guys, skate with these guys, ride down mountains with these guys and surf with these guys.
I am a NYC native, from the boroughs, and I’ve always had an affinity for the music NYC has produced that has aligned itself with sounding out the uncomfortable and harder parts of NY life in a DIY-way: New York Hardcore (CroMags, LifesBlood), Crust and Squatter Punk (Nausea, Missing Foundation – Germans who were nevertheless in Tompkins Square Park), No-Wave (8-eyed-spy —- first time I got to read a Byron Coley cassette insert!), that whole scene that Sonic Youth eventually presided over, metal and crossover (Leeway rocks!), etc, etc… there are so many kinds of heavy music bands and players and composers who have been from here, and it’s so humbling …. so much jazz, noise, beats…John Zorn!, Velvet Underground, SWANS, RUN DMC, KRS-One, Eric B and Rakim, Wu-Tang… it’s made me want to open up to hear so many things, and feel like I always have beginner’s mind when I try to write and perform.
There is a strong kraut vibe in your music, where did that come from? And who are your kraut rock heroes?
Kiefer:CAN tops the list for me. Amon Duul II and Neu! are right up there as well. I’ve always loved the repetition and motorik beats that you’d often hear in those bands. I really liked how propulsive and groovy the rhythms could be while also leaving so much room for the songs to open up with interesting, weird textures and sounds. That coupled with the free approach you hear in a lot of that music…to me it represents the joy of discovery in new sounds that I love experiencing with my friends and collaborators.
J: What Kiefer said is exactly what I’d say on this subject.
Steubs: All of that for sure ++ I also spent a lot of time with 90s kraut-rock influenced bands like Th’ Faith Healers uk (still a rhythm/lead guitar north star for me— the opening riff on Imaginary Friend is just so definitive. Not to mention, I took that whole mark chime thing into song into our own last album.) Thank you, Th’ Faith Healers uk. Incidentally, this has been and remains an album I put on during larger gatherings, and people always start clamoring: “What is this record?!? It’s so great!”
I think we try to be respectful about celebrating our love of these bands that take heavy repetition and building freakouts, but we are trying to move to an entirely new place. I think that one of the things we’ve started to explore more and more, is how you can create the effect of repetition without actually doing it, but instead taking the listener into new places while they think they are hearing repetition. This is almost the opposite of a lot of older psych and krautrock, which would use the repetition to make the same sound unfamiliar. I think we are using heavy music, and playing with dynamics, to make the listener follow us to places that are different and radical, but leaving aspects in place that cushion the giant steps so suddenly what sounded like repetition is doing something totally different.
Who are your favorite contemporary musicians?
Kiefer: Oh man, there are just so many, so I guess I’ll focus on the ones I’ve been listening to most the last couple years. We recently played a gig with Michael Beach at Tubby’s in Kingston, NY, and he just released an EP that confirmed he’s one of the best singer-songrockers out there. The new Elkhorn LP is amazing, and the new Bill Callahan album has been on repeat for me since it came out. I also keep going back to the Myriam Gendron record that came out earlier this year. Oh, and Steubs turned me on to a Curtis Harding record that came out last year that I also revisit a lot. Pretty much anyone on Three Lobed Records…that new Eli Winter record is so good, and I’m always excited when a new Gunn-Truscinski Duo record comes out. Our New Haven buds The Mountain Movers continue to inspire us with each release. Another New Haven artist that blew us away recently is Henry Birdsey’s Old Saw project, specifically his 2021 album Country Tropics.
J: I’ve really enjoyed all the music that Rose City Band has been putting out the past few years – very inspirational stuff right there. I’m a huge Steve Gunn fan as well. I’m continually discovering musicians that are long gone such as Amanaz that just blow me away – I seem to have them on continuous play even though I discovered their record from 1975 a few years back. I’m still discovering decades old records by King Tubby and Lee Scratch Perry that pull me in more than anything.
Steubs:Wille Nelson. Bill Frisell. Mitsky. Jim White. Pete Kerlin.
What is the coolest thing you have done so far? And what is still on the bucket list?
Kiefer: Hmm…I’m not sure there’s one coolest thing. We’re just super grateful to have joined bills with some of our favorite artists. We’ve had such a blast sharing bills with bands like Oneida, Howlin Rain and our buds Garcia Peoples. Playing some shows in Europe is definitely on the bucket list.
J: Probably the coolest thing may have to be our first improv gig at Cafe 9 in New Haven – I can’t remember all the details (year, who else was on the bill, etc) but I recall that Steubs played a gamelan and the three of us managed to levitate a few feet off the ground during our 30 minute set. It was one of the most profound musical experiences I’ve had…
Kiefer: Oh yeah, that gig was amazing. And the fact that we improvised that night was borne more out of necessity than anything else. I remember a couple days before the show Steubs let us know he couldn’t make it, so Jon and I practiced the day before as a two-piece with some rough ideas. But then the day of the show Steubs let us know that he could make it and would just jump in and improvise. I think Jon and I started out the set with whatever approach we had prepared for, but then the set just sort of took on a weird, beautiful life of its own. That show definitely gave us the confidence to keep improvising, and I’m not sure if we’ve written any structured songs since, with the exception of “Key of Caesar.”
Steubs: Getting older and having these two buddies to bang around with is the coolest thing. It’s like that lyric from ‘boogie chillen’: “Let that boy boogie-woogie/cause it’s in him, and it got to come out.” That’s music for me- I don’t have a choice. It’s weird stuff, not universally appealing, and if I could have chosen, I’d probably have chosen to play more popular and profitable sounds. But these dudes and I find some peace and release in playing this noise out of ourselves together—wherever it might originate from. Having a handful of people that seem interested in listening to the noise we make is just gravy.
Kiefer: Yeah…that’s definitely the coolest thing for sure.
What are your immediate future plans?
Kiefer: We do have one gig on the horizon that we’re excited about. We’ll be playing the I Heart Noise Festival on December 10 in Williamsburg at Pete’s Candy Store with some other artists we love, like Wet Tuna, Jim White & Marisa Anderson, Solilians, Skyjelly, and I Feel Tractor. We can’t wait!
Aside from that, we just wanna continue getting together when time allows and jam. We’re all great friends and we feel really lucky that our bonds go beyond the personal connections we have. We have this deep musical connection that allows us to converse in our own language not studied, but fluently spoken and all our own. So we’re looking forward to more of that!
J: I’m about to eat some fresh from the oven apple crisp made from hand-picked macouns. One of the best things about autumn in New England. Don’t forget the scoop of vanilla ice-cream to cool it off!
Steubs: I’ve gotta catch up on a few late parking tickets, and we’re almost out of dog food at home, so I’ll probably head out to the store in a few minutes.
What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do after this interview?
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.
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!
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.
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 :))))
Of course I already spent some time with Galician psychfolk rockers Moura and their mesmerizing take on swirling 70s rock sung in their mother tongue, but I did feel that the rich and historical background they come from needed some more exploration. What makes Galicia stand out from the rest of the Spanish peninsula? Who were Moura influenced by musically? And what on earth are they singing about? Lead guitarist Hugo Santeiro was kind enough to assist me in answering these questions.
Hi Moura! How have you been the past pandemic years? Hello there! We’ve been hiding, taking care of ourselves, working slowly on our latest album. Always living the present but thinking about future projects
How have you been keeping up both as people and as musicians? We survived the best we could, without personal or work losses. Regarding Moura, we released the album just a few weeks after the pandemic hit our lives, so we were fully ready, with all instruments in the van, to go touring but everything stopped and we couldn’t play live anymore, like many other bands. Luckily, the album was a bestseller and managed to sell out the records with hardly playing live. Then, as a result of being confined at home for so long, many ideas came out and we started working on our second album.
Your new album Axexan, espreitan is out now, can you tell me about the difference in approach this time with regard to the previous S/T album? I think there are mainly two clear differences between the two albums. This time, the songs are a bit shorter which allowed us to have more tracks. I mean, it is obviously an album of long songs inviting you to a non-stop journey. On the other hand, the new album is kind of conceptual, something which reflects on both music and lyrics.
I was told there are strong folk influences in your music, originating from your native Galicia in Spain? Can you explain how we can hear this and why this is important for Moura? Historically, Galicia always had its on nationality, with its own language and a location which is geographically separated from the rest of Spain, but that’s a long story… but somehow this is implicit in our culture; and this is what we try to show everyone by singing in Galician and using an important number of traditional instrument from our homeland. We tried to mix it all with 70s rock music we grew up with.
What are the lyrics about globally? The concept of the album revolves around the memories, the traditions, the spirits of those who are no longer here with us… Those memories remain hidden in a corner of our mind and emerge at certain moments of our lives. They “observe and watch over us” (Axexan, espreitan); getting us back to specific moments that seemed forgotten, making blurred the border between the world of the living and the dead ones.
What are some of your most important influences? And are there other “underground” Spanish acts you could recommend?
We all love King Crimson, the Canterbury scene, Kosmische musik, Fairport Convention, The Beatles, Pink Floyd… These are probably the biggest names, but we also listen to present bands such as Psicomagia, Cave, Dungen, Motorpsycho, Elephant9, Beak, Kikagaku Moyo… From Spain some of the artists I usually listen are Peña, XoséLois Romero & Aliboria, Za!, Atavismo, Acid Mess, Caldo, Rodrigo Cuevas…
What are your personal musical backgrounds? And how did you end up forming a band like Moura? We used to play in bands such as Lüger, Guerrera, Fogbound, Saharah, Aliboria… Moura was formed bit by bit as we all knew each other from previous projects and I guess it was logical that we ended up working together on a new one. The band has gone through different members, rehearsal venues… it’s been a slow evolutionary process until what Moura is now in 2022, but it couldn’t be any other way, keeping in mind that we don’t know how to make 2-minute songs.
What is your long term ambition with Moura? And short term? In short term we have several festivals in which we really want to play as Sonicblast in Portugal in where we’ll meet with many friends from other bands. In long term, the idea is to keep touring and taking our project to Europe and later on the US.
Is there anything you’d like to add? Thank you very much for your time; we hope to see you at some point in one of our concerts.
At one point in my life I want to learn how to dance. You know, not the nervous wriggling that I do now when I hear a funky beat, but really proper dancing, with real moves and such. Just so that when I go to a show of a band like Ouzo Bazooka I could actually move my limbs in a way that makes sense and that flows with this kind of music.
What music you say? Well, Ouzo Bazooka plays this really eclectic mixture of traditional Eastern music, 70s disco, and psychedelic rock. It’s the kind of music Khruangbin might have played if they were enjoying life just a little more. Ouzo Bazooka vibrate positivity in a way that would turn any place in a steaming mass of moving bodies, from dank squatter parties to Bar Mitzvahs (they are from Tel Aviv, Israel) to big ass festivals. It’s a living vibe that is so wanted and necessary at the moment, and has been absent from our lives for so long that I cannot recommend it enough. In fact if ever you feel drab or lifeless, I would highly encourage you to take a daily dose of Dalya to lighten up your day.
With 34 minutes on the clock the album is over before you know it, and it’s a cliche but that doesn’t make it less true; it is pretty much the only thing really wrong with Dalya. Unless you are a real grinch or bat person, you will enjoy the hell our of this latest outing by Ouzo Bazooka. So doctor’s orders: inject a daily dosis of Dalya to you ears from now on!
A musician always strives to transcend base notions like genre, style, or even being a band. Becoming your own entity is the highest goal. King Buffalo are well on their way of achieving this goal. With The Burden Of Restlessness they have captured a period in time and a process of inner turmoil in such a way that it completely transcends being a stoner band, playing heavy songs, or being “metal” or whatever.
Sure, these songs are heavy, heavier than King Buffalo have sounded so far, and sure their music still finds itself somewhere between psychedelic rock and progressive metal, but other than that they have firmly founded themselves as their own beast.
Striking for this release especially are the lyrics. For someone who has dealt with depression and inner darkness like me they really hit hard, being more explicit than ever with phrases like “every night I dream a million different ways for me to die” (Hebetation), or the way they describe the walls closing in in Silverfish (I think I’m unraveling…). It’s this amazing vulnerability that the band shows that immensely increases their urgency and importance. The music supports the lyrics and the message, and feels like a vessel in which the lyrics are never an afterthought or just backdrop.
It’s quite unbelievable that The Burden Of Restlessness is only just the first record of three (!) that King Buffalo has planned this year. It would have done fine as a full standalone album, but clearly the band is not yet done talking. As a matter of fact: I wasn’t done talking to them either, because I spoke with singer/guitairst Sean McVay about the past year, about the new album, and what is still to come…
First of all I’d like to ask you how you all are right now, how have the past few months been for the band? We’re all doing well. We’ve managed to stay healthy and extremely busy, which has been great.
I have listened to The Burden Of Restlessness non-stop since I got the stream. The first thing that struck me was that the music sounds a lot heavier and more aggressive, more towards progmetal than psychedelic blues. Would you agree and do you have an explanation for it? I think the past few years have been difficult for everyone (to say the least). I know for me, personally I was dealing with a lot of things and was in a dark place, and the pandemic really just magnified that. I found that in the course of writing and jamming, we were naturally delving into some more focused and heavy sounding territory. For me it was simply what felt right in that moment. I liked the idea of trying to create music that had some of the same feelings of tension and discomfort that I felt was universal at that time, so we really embraced it.
I was also wondering about the lyrics: did you write before or after the music? How did the songwriting process take place any way, what was the setting? All the instrumental arrangements came before the lyrics, but there was usually a line or a phrase of lyrics in the background while sorting all that out. About 95% of all the music came from jamming. We’d simply hit record and play until things either fizzled out or fell apart. I’d take the recordings home and start cutting things and moving sections around. I would send stuff to the band for feedback, and would start putting together the lyrical themes and concepts for the record. Once we had those set, I’d record some improvised vocal mumblings over the instrumental, refining the melodies, and would send those, along with some lyrics and general themes to Scott who would then write a bunch of brainstormed lyrics and send them back to me. I’d then take what he wrote and rework it. We’d go back and forth like that until it was all written.
The lyrics made me worry a little bit to be honest. Having suffered from depression myself I can see a lot of that back in a lot of these songs. Can I say you have never been this explicit before? I saw a glimpse of it in the Repeater EP, but Longing To Be The Mountain was a bit more hopeful(or hidden) wasn’t it? What can/do you want to tell me about them? Well like I mentioned above, I was in a really dark place at the time. A few years ago I had some really intense family things come to light that I really struggled to deal with. Externally, the state of affairs in the US was getting increasingly horrifying, bizarre and dystopian… and on top of all that, a worldwide pandemic hit. The cacophony of everything felt so palpable and inescapable. Trying to write about anything else just felt disingenuous, and trying to nibble around the edges and speak ambiguously felt dishonest. I tend to be a pretty private person when it comes to this sort of thing, so making this open and candid of a record was extremely scary for me. In the end though I am incredibly proud of this record, and hopefully it speaks to at least one other person who maybe was struggling with similar things.
Despite, or maybe due to this Covid period you have taken up the plan of recording three albums this year! Can you tell me a little bit about how this plan came to being? Is there an individual concept for each of these three albums? Is it all worked out yet? We certainly didn’t set out with this whole crazy idea in mind. We started jamming, and before we knew it we had about 4-5 hours of new material that we were excited about. We started whittling things down, and eventually settled on the idea of 3 different and distinct records, with the same protagonist throughout each one. Each record has a very different feel and sound to them, and there is a story arc through all of them, but they really don’t need to be listened to in sequence to be able to follow along in my opinion. Record number 2 is in the later post production phase now, and pre production on record 3 will start here quite soon. Unfortunately I can’t say much more than that at the moment. We will be making announcements as we can. We did just receive word recently that our pressing plant is experiencing delays due to aftereffects of the pandemic, and high order volumes, so we’re crossing our fingers that things get back on track and our whole plan doesn’t get too messed up.
What was the main driving factor behind making this album? And in what way did it differ from your previous work? For me the main driving force behind this record was trying to capture the uneasiness of everything I was feeling at the time. I wanted to try and make our most intimate, honest and aggressive record yet, and I wanted it to sound thicker, and more present than any of our previous works.
Did you guys listen to specific music over the last year? And do you keep up with new music at all? We do keep up with new music, but I can’t speak to what the other guys have been listening to. As for myself, I really haven’t been listening to all that much music lately. I tend to try and limit my listening during writing periods because I feel like I end up accidentally regurgitating too many things if I’m not careful. However, one band that I stumbled across recently that absolutely blew my mind was Guerrilla Toss. They are insane.
What are your plans for after this year? And what is your ultimate dream as a band? Hopefully things keep trending positively and we can get back to touring. We’re scheduled to hit the road again in September and we are super stoked for it. Honestly I don’t know if the “ultimate dream” is much different than what we’ve usually done. I just want to keep making records that push and excite us as musicians, and I want to be able to tour and perform live. Hopefully its something we’ll get to do for a long time.
Well, I really hope I will see you on the road soon. I will definitely show up somewhere in Europe when you get there in the future. Thanks a lot for your time, I wish you all the best. Thank you! We’re definitely itching to get back over to Europe as soon as we can. In the meantime stay safe and heathy, and hopefully we’ll see you soon!
Ladies and gentlemen, I present you: Mainliner: three Japanese psych wizards with an urgency to freaking destroy eardrums around the globe. Seriously though, this band should come with a huge disclaimer because wherever they turn up tinnitus will spread and crystal goblets will shatter. They are loud, but not just for loudness sake. They are loud because their dark psychedelic wizardry compels them to be loud. Try to envision them, standing on a mountain top, conjuring up a hurricane, their long hair pulling in the wind like black banners. I can’t even imagine the size of balls their producer had for thinking he could capture this force of nature on tape, but he did it, and the result is awesome. And a little frightening as well.
One hour and 19 minutes of feedback hurling psychedelic madness is what you get when you decide to put your fate in the hands of Mainliner. Sometimes they mischievously lure you in with some beautiful noodlings (opener Blasphemy Hunter), at other times they are more upfront in their true intentions. Hibernator’s Dream for instance doesn’t even start out properly until you have submitted yourself to over five minutes of raucous noise and demented wailing. Rest assured though, the song is eighteen minutes long, slowly building up to a repetitive wall of hypnotic riffage. And that’s only the first half of the record!
Listening more frequently, I find myself not really up to climbing the whole mountain all of the time. I guess I can only take so much psychedelic freakout all at once. So I resorted to micro-dosing. Now when I want to get my freak on I spin one track at the time, and then put on some Phill Collins or Enya. Just to make sure I don’t end up in the same psychotropic maelstrom these three Japanese wizards ended up in. I mean, I’d love to, but I have other things to do as well…
In the end a feeling of awe remains. To stay in the mountain analogy; Mainliner’s Dual Myths feels like an Everest journey to me. I wouldn’t go all the way, but I love to stare at it in fascination. Mainliner, I tip my hat to thee.
Music can have many purposes. There are musicians that offer consolation, raw energy, or pure unadulterated escapism. Los Mundos definitely fit that last category, as their latest output La Fortaleza Del Sonido is a portal into a freaky other dimension…
It’s a dimension in which the people speak Spanish and the music is dense, psychedelic, and a bit spooky. La Fortaleza Del Sonido is a brilliantly charming record in a crude, vintage kind of way. It is the work of some heavy duty psych veterans, as Los Mundos have been at it for some ten years now, and this is their seventh(!) release so far. They have mastered the art of creating a completely enveloping atmosphere in which they capture their listeners, who are then their slaves and are obliged to press the repeat button again and again and again until oblivion.
Seriously though, this is some addictive and mesmerizing stuff. The dreamy doubled vocals are recorded in such a way that they feel like they sprout directly from your spinal chord into your earholes. I don’t want to be stereotyping here, but it just cannot be a coincidence that this band is from Mexico, home of Peyote and ancient psychedelic mushrooms already used by their ancestors the Aztecs, Zapotecs, and Mayas.
I don’t understand a single word they are singing, and yet Los Mundos speak directly to me with this super psychedelic creation of theirs. In a time like this where travel is not an option it provides a perfect alternative. Travel through your mind with these Mexican shamans, this trip is highly recommended. My compliments to their label L.S.D.R. as well, because after the incredible Rostro Del Sol, this is another fine psych rock release. Let’s hope there is more where those came from!