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Review + Q&A: Super Pink Moon- Iron Rain (2023, self-released)

Somali Yacht Club guitarist and singer Ihor Pryshliak also lives out his creativity on his own sometimes. Through Super Pink Moon he channels his inner shoegazer, while at the same time maintaining his signature sound. In a way it is an even more interesting album than last year’s Somali Yacht Club record The Sea, because you get the feeling that anything goes here.

The context of Iron Rain is the war in Ukraine. The album was written and recorded in the midst of the chaos, and you can feel the density all through the songs. The vocals are clean, sincere, and dreamy. The lyrics are heavy, and breathe war and loss with titles like Doomscrolling, Collision, and Hollowness. There is also a tiny speck of hope; because despite all the horror and despair there is the possibility of beauty and reparation, so much becomes clear.

From Hum-like bombast to My Bloody Valentine vacuumcleaner antics, Super Pink Moon sounds like a machine, sucking it all up and taking it into space. At times the heavy end prog doom of Somali Yacht Club pops up too, but never too long. Overall Iron Rain is a strong and consistent album that will appeal to heavy mood heads anywhere in the world.

How are you? How has the past year been for you as a musician, especially considering the Russian invasion and the war?
It was rough. Probably the most challenging year of my life. Music was/is a way to escape from a harsh reality.

Can you introduce yourself?
Hi, I’m Ihor 🙂 I love music, dogs, and coding.

What can you tell me about your musical background?
I started playing guitar when I was 16. The first song I learned to play was Nothing else matters 

🙂

 I remember the first time I asked to “test” the distortion pedal in a music store the first thing I played was Nothing Else Matters and it sounded absolutely terrible. Everyone looked at me like pleeease stop it, no no. And I was having the greatest moment in my life lol.

What does a regular day in your life look like?
8am wake up, 9am crossfit or walking in the woods with my dog, 10:30 work, 2pm eat, 3pm work, 7pm music/rehearsals/gaming/chilling pretty every day 🙂 Yeah, I’m a boring software developer/musician.

What is the best thing about Iron Rain?
It’s interesting. You can listen to it several times and find something interesting to you each time. It was designed as a Castlevania-like game or like Elden Ring 🙂 You’re free to roam wherever you want to, but you’re also always welcome to come back and try to go deeper.

Where do you live and what is the environment like for musicians like you?
I guess the biggest challenge is the underdeveloped local music industry. If you play anything harder than hard rock -> you are the underground. Here, it’s a big difference between popular artists and good underground artists who are actually pretty famous abroad. Another challenge is money. My parents couldn’t afford to buy me a guitar or hire a teacher till the moment I got my first scholarship. So yes, I’d say it’s challenging, but not impossible.

What is your main aim with your music, is it complete artistic expression, or an escape from the every day world? (or something else ;))
Initially, it was an artistic expression because I needed to do something with this energy. Now it’s a form of escapism. When I do music I’m in a flow, it’s like a mediation. It means that for a couple of hours a day I can forget about all bullshit going around me and that’s a blessing. I wish everyone could develop such a skill to ignore the outside. Good for your mental health.

Can you tell me about how you go about composing and recording songs?
Oh, it’s different each time. You just sit and play with sound, rhythm, lyrics, riff, whatever is interesting to you at that moment. It’s like a sandbox or Minecraft if you like. Music is pure magic, so it’s always interesting for me to play with it.

What are your immediate and long term future plans?
The future plan is pretty straightforward – survive. Immediate -> release IRON RAIN, start another record, and keep going till the moment I get bored.

What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do after reading this interview?
Go over here and donate to Ukraine -> https://war.ukraine.ua/donate/

Review + Q&A: Tajak – La Sombra Del Agua (2022, Little Cloud Records/Cardinal Fuzz/The Acid Test Records/Hole Records)

Strange and exciting things happen when creative minds decide to drop everything they were doing and move to into the woods. Whether it is the falling away of urban overstimulation, the closer contact to nature, or just the increased focus on the task at hand; beautiful and meaningful things are made. Novels are written, poems are conjured out of thin air, and musicians find new sources of sound within themselves. Tajak definitely did. Their previous album Ciclos was a great album of noisy shoegaze, but it did not fully prepare of what was to come…

Hailing from Mexico, one can imagine that the forest Tajak chose for a creative hideout is rather a different affair than let’s say than Thorough’s when he wrote Walden. I recently got to see the second Avatar movie, and I feel Tajak would have done a much better job scoring the beautiful rain forest and underwater scenes. The music on La Sombre Del Agua (The Shadow Of The Water) is rich and dreamy, layered, and filled to the brim with tiny little sonic easter eggs that make it a true headphone feast. This is a studio album mind you, but one that feels organic, a living breathing thing.

The songs are set up like paintings, and can spread out often longer than twelve minutes. When there is the need for a word or two there are some sparse humanoid voices, but they mostly remain whispers or echoes of wavering guitars and synths. The roots of this psychedelic soundscape music lie in improvisation, but like the grand maesters of kraut Can, Tajak have filled in their jams in the studio for an optimal sonic experience.

And that is why La Sombre Del Agua is what it is; a wet rainforest of sound with a sonic palette as rich as the flora and fauna. Tajak dares you to put on your headphones and disappear with them, away from the hassles and speed of modern life, into the shadow of the water.

Ok, so I had to talk to this band. I needed to know where they came up with their beautiful ideas and how they worked on it. The language can sometimes be a barrier though, standing in between a short and stand offish answer, and the whole thing. I am therefore glad that Tajak gave theirs in their native tongue. I would like to send mad props to Roman Tamayo of Doomed & Stoned Latino for the translation into English so we can all follow…

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

We are fine, everyone surviving as they can. We live in different places so we could only see each other once in a while. During the pandemic, we were recording La Sombra del Agua, in La Orduña, and Zoncuantla, Veracruz. We spent a year over there recording and producing the album, first in a place that a friend lent us in the woods and the rest in an abandoned factory.

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

Tajak are:

Alvaro Castro: Drums + FX and Synth + FX.

Carlos Arias: Electric guitar, effect pedals, and voice, he generally uses other instruments such as Sitar on the album Ciclos and LSDA, Didgeridoo on our self-titled Ep. And flutes and thunder drum on La Sombra del Agua.

Coco Badan: Bassist + Effect pedals and voice, just like Carlos he uses instruments like flutes, and ocarina on tracks like Camino.

Coco and Carlos are originally from Ensenada B.C. for what has been known for quite some time and Alvaro de La Paz B.C.S, we met at the university, and we met during out studies of Audio Engineering.

What can you tell me about your musical background?

I (Alvaro) started playing electric bass in a black/death metal band, when I was 13-14 years old, I started to be interested in drums. I played drums in a band called Orthodox. After that, I started taking classes and playing as a session musician in several bands. I went to a music university but I didn’t feel comfortable, so I left and began to study Jazz with a private teacher, this was in the city of Guadalajara.

In 2013 I moved to Mexico City to study Audio and that’s where I met Carlos and Coco, we lived together for a few months and one day we jammed at a colleague’s house. From that day we kept playing and that’s how the first songs of Tajak were born. It is safe to say that there was never the intention of starting a band, we would get together to play for pleasure.

Carlos started playing the guitar at the age of 12 and formed his first band in Ensenada at the age of 15, called Mr. Saldos (shoegaze, noise pop), Coco was part of that band for a while playing the keyboards and singing as well, it was the first time they experienced playing together.

Coco: I started studying music at an early age, taking flute classes from the age of 7, and then I went to a formal music school where I played clarinet in an orchestra, but the truth was that the whole experience was quite unhappy and I almost lost myself. They made me hate music. For me, all those years were a waste of time. It wasn’t until I dropped out of that school and started teaching myself guitar that my musical journey really began. Since then, I have continued on a self- taught path.

What is a typical day like in your life?

Alvaro: I work in a dubbing studio as a Pro Tools operator, usually, I’m recording most of the day, I come home in the afternoon, spend time with my girlfriend and play video games or read some manga or books. Sometimes I do sound design, and effects for audiovisual material such as documentaries or advertising.

Carlos: me and my wife own a vegan restaurant in Ensenada, we are both the chefs there, plus we do music events right there since we have a great outdoor space. Excellent projects from the independent scene in Mexico have been presented. In addition, sometimes I did work related to audio, mainly mastering, recording and production. I really like watching movies and series, playing video games, and sometimes I take the time to record new music or write.

Coco: I am currently living on my family’s ranch in Ensenada, B.C. A rather lonely life but one that I really like, especially in winter. I work in tourism, but during my free time, I paint, read, make music and walk in the countryside. I am preparing a drawing and painting exhibition that will be on February 16 in Ensenada. In Mexico City, I am managing a gallery/venue with a group of friends where we will do a small festival for our label in March.

What is the best thing about La Sombra Del Agua?

Alvaro: The whole process: we went through together recording and producing this album, for my very uncomfortable moments, where I felt that nothing was flowing, but even so, I kept looking for a way to improve the tracks. The best thing was to give ourselves the time and space to be able to work on each track carefully and be as satisfied as possible.

Coco: That such a long and arduous effort has given a very satisfactory result.

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

Alvaro: I live in Mexico City, and there are many places to play music of any genre, and new bands emerge very often. It is more difficult to earn enough money to live with your band: festival fees are generally very low for Mexican bands, compared to foreign bands that visit our country.

Carlos: In Ensenada (where Coco and I live) there are few places to play, there is much less public for this music than in CDMX, that is one of the reasons why I promote shows and bring projects from different parts of Mexico, to contribute this to my city.

Tajik’s previous album Ciclos

Who are some contemporary musical heroes of yours?

Alvaro: I really enjoy some Oneohtrix Point Never records, like Replica. Darkthrone has always been a band I enjoy listening to, their record A Blaze in the Northern Sky. I’m also a fan of Beherit, they recently released an album called Bardo Exist, which oscillates between black metal and dark ambient. Mabe Fratti is also a great influence in the way she uses her musical resources and presents ensembles that I have enjoyed very much live. I also admire Pedro Tirado a lot, his album SalsiPuedes, his lyrics touch me in a deep way. I also really enjoy Container. Lately I’ve been somewhat short on new music, recommendations are welcome.

Carlos: I don’t believe in heroes, but the music that has influenced me the most in my life is: Bardo Pond, Slowdive, My Bloody Valentine, Swans, Wolf Eyes, Donovan, Bhimsen Joshi, A Place To Bury Strangers, Celestial Processions, Mabe Fratti, Sunn O))), The Shangri Las, Jorge Berumen, The Ronettes, Nada, Mito Del Desierto, Coco Badan, Cloks, Jesus And Mary Chain, The Residents, Fernanda P, Oneohtrix Point Never, Silver Apples, Lorelle Meets The Obsolete, The Kowalskis, Alice Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders, Curvo, Julee Cruise, Dirty Beaches, Pedro Tirado, Manto Blanco and many others that I can’t remember right now.

Coco: It makes me very happy to be able to say that many of the projects I admire are people close to me. If Tajak has given us anything, it is the opportunity to meet all these people.

Celestial Processions, Myth of the Desert, Electrical Services, Aviation School, CCOOWWSS, Beru, Mr Saldos, Cloks, Nada, le trash can, Choco bestia, Shax, Mental Induction, gnois, José Orozco Mora, J Zunz, Concepción Huerta, Love Die, Nine Lives, Rogelio the 3rd, etc. etc.

Outside of the local scene I’ve been listening to KMRU, Lucrecia Dalt, Coby Sey, Aaron Dilloway, Lea Bertucci, Keiji Haino, Jun Konogaya, His Name is Alive, Alex Zhang Hungtai, John Tavener, Wolf Eyes, Cindy Lee, Cosey Fanni Tutti , Brin, Ryuchi Sakamoto, lots of rapping and my two biggest obsessions: Nocturnal Emissions and Coil.

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

Generally, we get together to improvise, we come up with something we like and we record it with our cell phone, then we record with bass, drums, and guitar microphones. On top of that we are adding more layers of other instruments such as synthesizers, flutes, etc. Then we edit and select what we like the most about what is recorded, we add effects and volume automation.

On La Sombra Del Agua, we had so much time to do it, we would sometimes spend a month without listening to the tracks, then we would listen again and when we listened again, we would think of new things to add to give each track more depth and dynamics. This was only the case on LDSA, our previous albums were recorded very quickly and mixed in a short time as well.

Being from The Netherlands, I am quite interested in the background story of Amsterdam 211, did you live here for a while?

Amsterdam 211 is the address of an apartment in Mexico City where Carlos and Coco lived. Much of the beginning of Tajak we spent a lot of time there, listening to records, talking about music, experiencing sounds, and having a good time with friends. We listened a lot to Black One by Sunn O))), Amanita by Bardo Pond, Cop, and Filth by Swans, Wolf Eyes, Boris, Barn Owl, Fuck Buttons, Oneohtrix Point Never, among others.

What are your immediate and long-term future plans?

Getting a European and American Booker to spin La Sombra Del Agua, we’ve struggled with that. Record new material in February.

Review + Q&A: Modern Stars- Space Trips For The Masses (2022, Little Cloud Records)

Space Trips For The Masses by Italy’s Modern Stars is a total headphone album. The slow majestic pace of it, the deeply layered fatness of the sound, and the male/female double vocal approach make the production value a trip in its own right. And then we haven’t even talked about the stellar Spiritualized-minded compositions yet

Putting on your black shells, closing your eyes, you are immediately immersed in a different dimension. You can picture the astronaut on the album cover floating around in a sea of green, while gravitational forces are pulling like a maniac, and in the distance you hear an angel singing. It is a lot, and in the wrong hands it could have turned out bloated and pompous, but Modern Stars steers this space ship far from of those murky waters.

The best compliment for Space Trips For The Masses is probably that while seemingly little happens, and the tempo hardly changes, it keeps your attention with its stifling atmosphere, in such a way that the 40 minutes pass before you know it, and you are forced to press the ignition button again. So let’s float some more in deep, green space…they dare you.

I traveled at warp speed through a bunch of black holes to contact the band, and found them chilling on one of Saturn’s rings. In a joined effort they fired back my questions at me. This is what Andrea Merolle (AM), Andrea Sperduti (AS), and Barbara Margani do things:

How are you? How has the pandemic period and its aftermath been for Modern Stars?Here in Italy the pandemic period has been hard in terms of social distancing. We could not rehearse and go live as a band, so we concentrated on studio work. We entirely recorded Psych-Industrial and Space Trips for the Masses in the period between 2020-2021. Anyway, despite the more time you may dedicate to music, composition is negatively affected by the lockdown period because limitations to real life inevitably limit your sensations.

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

Andrea Merolle and Andrea Sperduti began playing Spacemen 3 and The Brian Jonestown Massacre covers. Andrea Merolle and Barbara were already a couple before he asked her to sing the choir on our Hey Man cover. They are friends and enjoy spending time together.

What can you tell me about your musical backgrounds?

Barbara is a graduated soprano and her main influences are Maria Callas and classical music. Andrea Merolle is influenced by delta blues and experimental music. For me (Andrea Sperduti): there isn’t a musical genre that has particularly influenced me, I had my preferences when I was younger but I never knew how to answer the question: what’s your favorite music? In music I have always really appreciated rhythmic parts and not too sophisticated arrangements.

What does a regular day in your life look like?

AM: Wake up, prepare kids for school, work, produce, consume, play with kids, go to bed. Then you need to play something to be yourself. 

AS: I work, always trying to be more creative than the previous day and I must say that I don’t always succeed. During our time together I try to teach my little girl how to try to be free and make conscious choices. I listen to new and old records and watch old movies. I have an extreme admiration for Anglo-Saxon literature and for some classic Italian authors: Moravia, Pavese, Calvino, to name just a few. In the time I have left I try to take care of the sound of my drums.

What is the best thing about Space Trips For The Masses?

The fact that it sounds like a sort of concept album, there is a continuity between tracks and it’s so hard for us to think about them out of that context as single. Even if we extracted two for videos. It also sounds similar but different compared to Silver Needles and Psych-Industrial.

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

We and the other new members of the band (Mario Bruni, Berry Margani and Simone Viscogliosi) all live between the big city (Rome) where we work and the small provincial towns where we were born and raised. It is not a great environment for our kind of music, people prefer Italian easy listening indie pop, but maybe this is positive because it helps to be original and to spread it worldwide. If you listen to our records maybe you may feel that they are composed and recorded in other nations and places and this is great because it means that we can travel with our cosmic music.

AS: The city where I live, Rome, doesn’t have a proper underground music scene. And if there is, I don’t know it enough, perhaps also due to the fact that there are no places where live music is played that deviates a bit from the mid or mainstream. In the province where I was a teenager, however, the attention for music was much more lively, it is in the province that I trained musically. What I can add is that those who listen to English-speaking rock or psychedelic music in Italy do so by appropriating a culture that has never really been theirs, and I’m part of it too. But that’s what I’ve always liked and that’s what I like to play.

What are your favorite contemporary bands and albums right now?

AM:  In the middle there is Andrea Merolle, who does not listen so much to new published music, with few exceptions, but tries to find new music going back to the past and thanks God for the internet.

BM: On the other hand Barbara Margani is immersed in her classical musical influences and does not listen to new records.

AS: I admit that I no longer have the time I wish I had to devote myself to listening to music. However, I don’t want to fall into the commonplace saying that new music releases are worse than the old ones. I happen to hear very interesting ideas on records dated 2022 and boring stuff that came out 20 or 30 years ago and vice versa. Probably what disorients today’s listener is the great overproduction of music, which makes it practically impossible to judge without investigating.

Andrea Merolle: OCHPö Om Pö

Andrea Sperduti: Oren Ambarchi/ Johan Berthling/ Andreas Werliin – Ghosted – 2022

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

Our songs mainly derive from ordinary world noises, which may be birds singing, a fridge humming or water creating a drone and flanger sound while going down the sink. This inspiration is translated into guitar riffs and melodies and so we may say that is how we write down tracks. Then the process is building electronic parts, that are a sort of auto-sufficient song in themselves, adding stringed instruments, voices and acoustic drums on top. A personal method that works fine for us.

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

AM: To do something that may survive us. In this capitalistic and consumer society, we aim at releasing music that we hope will be appreciated by future generations. Something in between Back to the Future when Michael J Fox plays Chuck Berry and Horace Non Omnis Moriar concept. That’s why it is crucial for us also to physically print our music. One day after an apocalyptic disaster maybe someone will find a vinyl and put it on a still functioning stereo to rebuild the world.

AS: I’ve always been fascinated more by the creative process behind a music album than by the results in terms of listening or sales or, even worse, fame or notoriety that can derive from it. I have always participated in the creative process trying to have fun, always doing something different than the previous time. To answer your question, I have never considered myself an artist, in the most literal sense of the word. I consider myself quite a music listener.

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

Go listen to our albums and get some of the coolest colored gatefold vinyls of the world from our Bandcamp page or Little Cloud Records website.

Review + Q&A: Shirley and the Pyramids- Maid Of Time (2022, Fuzzed Up & Astromoon Records)

I dabble in hazy music, I must admit that I like to get disoriented and perhaps even inebriated by music. When the music is the drug, I feel like it is a safe thing to get hooked on. Some music can be mind altering and trippy, other music is more of a downer or upper to the listener’s head. Shirley And The Pyramids definitely falls in the “downer” category; slow paced, purple hazed smoke trickling up…Their brand of fuzzed up shoegaze takes you by the lapels and sits you down in a very, very comfortable chair that starts to eat you when you sink down into it. Blissfully, a sloth-like smile on your face, you fall away into nothingness.

Heavily influenced by shoegazers’ greats Jesus And The Marychain, Ride, and Swervedriver, these Canadians take that typical unhasty 90s feel and run with it. With two vocalists that interchange an almost goth-era Nick Cave like baritone, and a more 60s Liverpool psychedelia tenor, Shirley and the Pyramids finds a nice balance between darkness and light. The darker side makes the record more interesting and ups the playability, while the lighter side keeps you far away from a dreaded bad trip.

Maid of Time was supposed to be a double album, but I find the trip lasts just long enough right now at its 42 minute mark. Like pretty much everything on this record, it is well balanced and thought through. Music addict “heads” like me can safely enjoy it when it’s packed as neatly dosed as this…

I talked to main songwriter, singer, guitarist and lyricist Aron Zacharias about his band, their passions, and the future. Once again, life seems pretty ok for musicians in Canada…

How are you? How has the pandemic period been for Shirley and the Pyramids??
We’re doing pretty good, excited for our new album to finally come out and play some shows again! The pandemic has had its ups and downs, as I’m sure many people out there can relate to. At first it was honestly kind of nice. Most of us live together and we just did a bunch of puzzles and watched dumb movies, made soup, that kind of thing…Then we got evicted from our house in the spring of 2020 and had to relocate ourselves and all of our gear, which was a huge hassle. To make matters worse, our old bass player left the band around that time, and I was also going through a breakup with my, at the time, long-term partner. It got pretty depressing for a while. We got through it though and eventually managed to find a new place to live that had enough space for everyone and all our gear. We found a new bass player. We managed to finish the album. Things are looking up now!

Can you introduce the band, and how did you meet?
Dave (guitar) is one of my oldest friends and I’ve been in many different bands with him since we were teenagers. We’re old now.

I met Duncan (keys/synths) through an old roommate of mine who was going to the same audio engineering course as him. We found out pretty quickly that our taste and philosophy towards music and art was pretty aligned. Duncan recorded my old band’s debut EP and then later joined that band. I asked him to join us when I started Shirley & The Pyramids.

Matthew (drums) has been playing with us for the majority of the band’s tenure.
Dave originally drummed for us, but he is a very good guitar player, so we figured we’d see if we could find someone else to drum. I’d seen Matthew drumming with a few different groups in town and talked to him a few times, thought he seemed cool. I asked him if he’d be down to play with us and he was.

Finally, Peter (bass) is the newest member of the band, having been playing with us for the last year or so. I’ve known Peter for a long time through the experimental music scene in Saskatoon, and through his old (and fantastic) band Caves. He also makes cool videos!

I’m Aron. I started the band and write most of the songs, play whatever instruments need playing, record whatever needs recording. I sing and play guitar live.


What can you tell me about your musical backgrounds?
My background is mostly in electronic and experimental music, as is Peter’s.
I also spent a large portion of my 20s studying blues and American folk music, traveling around Canada and Europe playing banjo badly. I have released a lot of music and played in a lot of groups over the years.

Peter makes experimental ambient music under the name Open Window and, for many years, fronted a very good indie band called Caves.

Dave is a very, very good musician that knows a lot about country music and old rock n roll.
I have to work to play music well, but it seems effortless to him. Dave was a producer for a big radio station once upon a time. He plays in another band that may or not actually be a cult.

Duncan is an avid music lover and listener of every genre. His background is in event planning and audio engineering. He co-founded and helps run the local label, Grey Records.

Matthew is kind of a mystery to me because I’ve only really known him for a few years. I do know that he’s a great drummer that’s played (and continues to play) with many bands. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of 60s pop and garage rock. He’s probably the best driver in the band (I am the worst).

What does a regular day in your life look like?
I can only speak for myself, but usually I get up around 9 or 10 and spend an hour or two reading the news and checking emails. Then I’ll make lunch and get to work, which mostly consists of whatever music shit, band admin work, etc. I don’t have a regular day job so I make extra money recording local rappers and singer-songwriters, as well as doing mixing and mastering work. I’ll usually call it a day anywhere from 8-11pm and unwind a bit before bed.

What is the best thing about Maid Of Time?
That it’s finally done! Just kidding.. kind of 🙂 Seriously though, I really like playing these songs live and can’t wait to show them to more people. Usually it’s a bit awkward trying to figure out how to play our songs live (in the past I wrote and recorded all the parts by myself, piling on synths and weird shakers and shit onto songs) but these ones were written with the band arrangement in mind. It’s the first album we’ve made in collaboration with each other. It’s more “live” than our other albums. I also like that we recorded a whole bunch of songs for this album, like 20. It’s nice to be able to pick and choose what to use. I’m glad we were able to make a somewhat cohesive album after everything! Those other songs will be released at some point too. Maid of Time was originally supposed to be a double-album, but the logistics and price were too prohibitive and scary. Stay Tuned!

Where do you live and what is the environment like for musicians like you?
We are from Saskatoon, which is a mid-sized city in the Canadian prairies. Like any city, there are cliques and certain groups that hang together, but Saskatoon is cool because it’s so small (~250,000 people) that most everyone still supports each other, plays shows with each other. There’s a surprisingly supportive scene here, not always, but for the most part. There are some cool festivals throughout the year, summer is nice. Winter is a good time to hide away and make art because it’s so damn cold. Everything was a bit slow after things opened up again, but shows seem to be picking up again.

What is your main aim with your music, is it complete artistic expression, or an escape from the every day world? (or something else ;))
I don’t know. Some kind of peace of mind in this fucked up world? I really don’t like to think about it too much because it’s not really a question or choice as much as it’s a compulsion. It can and has been unhealthy at times. I’ve never done anything else other than music, I don’t know anything else. In the end, I just hope I can support myself through art and music, maybe travel a bit you know, see some more of the world… In a less personal sense, I just hope people are into what we’re doing. Maybe we can make someone’s day better with music, that’s good shit.

Can you tell me about how you go about composing and recording songs?
Traditionally, I would write and record everything by myself but I’ve been trying to get away from that with our last couple releases. Starting with our 2019 EP, A New American Classic, the other members started writing and playing their own parts on recordings. On Maid of Time, about half of it is recorded live and about half of it is overdubs. Dave and Duncan even wrote a few songs for the sessions.

What is “the dream” when it comes to being an artist
Being able to live off of doing what I love, being able to support my family from making art.  Meeting like-minded people, feeling like we’re not alone in this world.

What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do after reading this interview?
Grab a drink and check out the new music video for our song Infinity Blues!
It’s the first single from our upcoming album Maid of Time, it’s on YouTube.

Review+ Q&A: Holy Springs- E.A.T. (2022, Up In Her Room Records)

Holy Springs must have gotten hold of a time machine somehow. I don’t see how else they picked up that perfect 90s dream tone of bands like My Bloody Valentine, Sonic Youth, and Spacemen 3. Yet upon their return to the present they added even more fuzzy wool to the mix, making E.A.T. into a mega hazy experience that will make you feel like the walls are made out of cotton candy and your chair has come alive to swallow you whole…

The voices whisper sweet and nasty things in your ear while the songs leech their way into your subconscious. Get ready to hum along to Surprise, Believe It, and I Want You, whether you like it or not. Sure, you know this sound, you know the good old shoegaze adagium, but this performance is so spot on, so damn well executed that if you had any apprehension meeting yet another ‘gaze band you will let it go immediately after that guitar hits your cranium.

You will swallow those horse size pills and that chair will swallow you, and you will like it that way. Holy Springs will EAT you, and you will savor every bite.

So let’s meet the band! Here’s Neil Atkinson Jr, Maria Bellucci, and Suzanne Sims introducing themselves and explaining how E.A.T. got so freaking awesome…

Hi Holy Springs! How are you doing these days?

Neil: We’re good thanks. Excited about the album being out and playing live. Also relieved it has had a positive response!

Can you please introduce the band; where are you from, how did you meet?

Neil: I’m the guitarist and somewhat singer! Maria plays bass and keyboards and Suzanne plays drums. I was born in Hampshire but have moved around quite a bit. I’ve known Suzanne for a long time playing music and going to see bands. Me and Maria met in Italy at a music festival (Beaches Brew).

Maria: I’m from South Italy. 

Suzanne: Neil and I have been playing music together about ten years or so. 

What are your musical backgrounds?

Neil: I started playing guitar in my late teens. I grew up listening to punk and garage bands as well as the classic rock bands. Then as I grew up I discovered bands like the Velvet Underground, My Bloody Valentine, Sonic Youth, Spacemen 3 etc and they really influenced how I play guitar and write music now. 

Maria: I used to play the keyboard when I was a child. I’ve only recently started playing the bass (a few years ago).

Suzanne: Bit of a late starter, I didn’t begin playing the drums until my mid/late 20s. I play in Dead Rabbits and have been in a couple of friends’ musical projects. Before drumming, I played clarinet at school and guitar at college. It’s better for everyone that I don’t sing.

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

Neil: Me and Maria live in South London. It’s hard to say if it influences the music. I think a band’s sound usually comes from their musical tastes. 

Suzanne: I live in Southampton. I don’t think the location influences my sound, but there’s a really good community of musicians, all various styles, and it’s nice to hang out and support each other.

What does a typical day in your lives look like?

Neil: We all have day jobs. I work from home mostly and a typical day is sitting in front of a laptop. 

Maria: I’m an NHS nurse so my day can be quite hectic! I try to relax with yoga and some sports.

Suzanne: Oversleep, intense workout session, arrive slightly late to my office job, work overtime, drink too many beers, doomscroll, repeat.

What can you tell me about the writing and recording process of E.A.T.?

Neil: We made demos for most of the songs on an old multi track. We start with recording some guitars then add a bassline. After that the hard part is lyric writing and finding some kind of melody or hook. When the demo is nearly done me and Maria will work on it at home before taking it to the rehearsal room with Suze. We recorded E.A.T over 2 weekends at Press Play Studio and Hackney Road Studios in London. I enjoy the studio and that whole process. Working with James Aparicio was great. It’s cool hearing the songs gradually build through loudspeakers. Those 3 instrumental tracks on the album were recorded at home afterwards feeding a synth through my guitar pedals. That was fun to do.

Maria: We also love hanging out in between takes and going for a drink at the end of the sessions.

Suzanne: I usually panic as soon as the click track starts and that red light goes on. There’s a lot of sitting around waiting when you’re in a band, but it’s worth it to capture a track.

How do your lyrics usually come into being?

Neil: They’re usually the last thing I do. I try to find a melody and will usually mumble nonsense into a mic until the right words come. Sometimes lyrics can form while playing a guitar unplugged and watching TV. I remember watching quite a lot of Abel Ferrara films and reading David Foster Wallace at the time. Maybe that seeped in?! Who knows. 

Can you tell me what music’s on the daily band playlist?

Neil: I’m currently listening to Hotline TNT, Toner, Bloody Head, Spiritualized, Bowery Electric. 

Maria: Minami Deutsch, Horsegirl, Tamaryn, WEED, Mo Dotti, The Gories.

Suzanne: Kikagaku Moyo, Tess Parks, Beach House, Genn, looking forward to checking out the new Goat when I can.

What is “the dream” for your band? And what are your immediate future plans?

Neil: I guess the dream is to record more albums and play shows in as many places as we can.

Maria: Have fun playing and hanging out together.

Suzanne: I prefer playing live to recording, so as long as I get to travel about meeting people, exploring places and making a racket I’m quite happy.

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

Neil: Start a band!

Maria: If you haven’t already heard our album please check it out!

Suzanne: maybe re-read and look for secret messages, I mean there aren’t any but you can put off everyday life for at least 10 mins.

Review + Q&A: Harvey Rushmore & The Octopus- Freedomspacecake (2022 Taxi Gauche Records)

For a psych head, Switzerland’s Harvey Rushmore & The Octopus are a big box of chocolates. From the elusive band name, to the weird fishes artwork, right up to the music in which they effortlessly reference every cool band you have been listening to for the past five years. And they write songs! With jiggly earworm chorusses that will enter your hearing organ and never leave.

Opener Plastiq channels The Black Angels doing their best King Gizzard impression, while Speedmaster brings that eerie weirdo surf vibe that washes salt water over your head the way The Horrors could in their early days, but with a super stoned subdued Wooden Shjips motorik beat. It’s only an impression of what this band has in store for your head, because even when a trained psych ear can trace these tunes back to their roots without too much trouble, that never bothers as these psycho chocolates all contain a nice and balanced mixtures of delicious substances and in that way stay fresh and crispy every time you spin them.

The songs mostly range around the four/five minute mark, never overstaying their welcome and all displaying an experienced songwriting skill, except maybe title track and album closer Freedomspacecake, which is a kaleidoscopic stoned mountain climber of almost nine minutes that sees Harvey Rushmore & The Octopus letting go, surrendering to the beat the way Can could, and creating their own genuine Godzilla…

So I guess we have found another good reason to visit Switzerland. Next time you enter that beautiful Alp country add some Swiss chocolate to your space cake, find this band playing some smoke filled liquid light den, and fill your lungs with total psych indulgement.

I talked to singer/guitarist Massimo Tondini, who I already met some time ago when our bands played together in a rather terribly organized gig in the belly of Germany. This time we conversed over more joyous circumstances: a new album, and the apparent end of the pandemic, which allows his touring machine Harvey Rushmore & The Octopus to finally do what they do best once again: to blow minds on a live stage.

Hi guys! How have you been the past pandemic period?

It was not an easy time. We missed definitely going on Tour and having shows. It was quite depressing sometimes. But it also gave space to use the additional time to go to the studio and work on some new material. In the end we have been lucky, that the album release was not planned during the lockdown period.

Can you introduce the band to the Weirdo Shrine audience?

Of course, we are Harvey Rushmore & the Octopus and we play a mixture of psychedelic, garage and kraut rock. We like that certain atmosphere and a live experience – dark and crowded concert rooms, loud repetitive music with a psychedelic approach and lot of fuzz guitars. We use visuals, drum machines and lots of synths, samples and effects and we love reverb on guitars.

Can you tell me about the new album? What is the best thing about it do you think?

I think the new album is a step further in our musical development and the result of many shows and lots of playing together. We improved musically, in terms of song structure and sound design, but it also offers a variety of songs with different moods that go well together.

In what ways did you approach the writing and recording differently than previously?

The guitar parts are more mature and precise than in the previous albums. We also did a lot of jamming and recorded mostly everything, that lead later to those songs we have here. The whole album was also self-recorded at our own studio in Basel, which gave us more space and time to figure out specific things without having to much pressure.

What is the biggest force that drives the band? Why do you do it?

We really love to play in front of an audience and going on tour, with everything thats involved in it. I think HRO is not so much a “studio” band. I think our qualities stay within our performances and that is certainly our biggest motivation. 

Just doing music together is probably the easiest way to describe our motivation – with all the involved ups and downs. It’s maybe just that.

Can you tell me about your home town? In what way did/does it influence your sound?

Hmm, yes we are all living in different cities, so it makes it difficult to answer the question. I guess we are more influenced by the music we like and listen to or weird movies and art in general. I’m not so much aware about the influences of our hometowns. Maybe more in terms of an anti-posture. The core values of our hometown or country in general are heavily performance or economically oriented. They’re all doing their thing, trying to distinguish themselves. Of course you cannot say that in general and its much more complex, however with our band or the approach to a kind of music that is outside the mainstream, we find a way to get away of that. It gives us a certain satisfaction and a kind of bond to stick together. The madness of current political, environmental and social issues is something that has a big influence on our sound and the lyrics.

Choose: touring with The Black Angels or King Gizzard? (and why)

I think The Black Angels: it was one of the bands that opened a new world for me, when I was starting to get into music more seriously. I like their albums more and the sound has a deeper effect on me then King Gizzard’s sound, although I think their an amazing live band.

Can you tell me about your future plans?

Playing live shows: We are currently up to organise a small tour in Europe and working on new material. It would be nice to have another new album soon.

What is a bucketlist achievement you still want to do with Harvey Rushmore?

Touring through the balkan states, going further and record a live album in Istanbul.

What should the Weirdo Shrine readers do after this interview?

I think you should listen to our new song “Speedmaster” and watch the official clip after a weird night of party – with earphones and while walking home late.

Review + Q&A: Sula Bassana- Nostalgia (2022, Sulatron Records)

Nostalgia, the yearning for a bygone era. An era perhaps without all the incentives and stimuli of these modern times. A world without mobile phones, social media, or even the internet. A world in fact, that not so very long ago was a reality. In the 90s we had to find new music through magazines, word of mouth, real live contact, live shows, or by listening to mix tapes that we made for each other. It was the time of great excitement when crate digging and finding stuff you never heard before, and a time of full venues and bristling underground festivals…

A time you understand a guy like Dave “Sula Bassana” Schmidt yearns for. He lives by himself now, in a forest-y area of Germany and composes music for himself, for his bands Zone Six and sometimes other projects. But the times of the 90s, that time of true underground excitement, even before he lifted of the ground with Electric Moon and shone, that time will never come back. It seeps through the music on this album, from the grand cinematic post doom opening tones of Real Life, to the indie rock anthem We Will Make It, reminiscent of unsung 90s post hardcore heroes Slint, Sonic Youth, and Lungfish. It’s music that is quiet in all its heavy fuzziness. It has a warm glowing energy about it, but it is burning for the past, and through this fire it bears a heartbreaking melancholy too. For these times will never come back, and “the world has gotten itself in a goddamn hurry” to paraphrase one of my favorite movies of all time, Shawshank Redemption…

Sula Bassana will not follow in this rush of modern times. He will go his own tempo or no tempo at all. His stubborn creativity shines through his love of the music he makes, the effort he puts in it, his desperate attempts to preserve some of that glow that he felt in the early 90s and that slowly lost a lot of its magic but that also somehow still perseveres. That is Nostalgia; it harks back to the good old days, but it also stands strongly in the present. It is an album that could not have been made then, it is also very much now. Through all its reminiscing and melancholy that is in fact an uplifting message, and I am sure the deep diving listeners will agree that after relishing in it for all of its mesmerizing 42 minutes, you will invigorated and are ready for more.

Zone Six

I had to speak to Dave Schmidt again. The pandemic “ended” since last time we spoke, he left his longstanding band Electric Moon, and the world had gotten a lot more challenging for small underground labels like his bread and butter Sulatron Records. And now this brilliant new album, here is what he said about that…

How have you been since we last spoke in December of last year?
With the start of the war against Ukraine the sales went even lower, but the production prices rose a lot, so life for a small but professional indie label like mine became pretty hard. But we started recordings for a new album with Zone Six. It was short time after the war started, so it became dark and heavy. We try to go on working on it soon, but bureaucracy rose too so I have a lot of shitty office stuff to do and less time to be creative. My new album arrived and promotion started and soon I will ship all pre-ordered copies out etc. You see there is always work. 🙂 Also I went to concerts and festivals as a visitor, spend much time with friends and enjoy life. And I found 3 very cool other musicians to form my Sula Bassana Band and we start rehearsing soon and want to rock the nice stages in Europe from next year on. 🙂 This gives me a lot of good feel and power.

You mentioned back then you were burnt out, are you feeling better, and/or how are you dealing with that?
I’m still off power very fast and need a lot of rest. Now I also recover from Corona which makes me even less powerful. But I hope I will find back my energy soon.

In the meanwhile you quit Electric Moon, would you like to elaborate on that decision? Do you feel it is over for good or is there room for a reunion at some point?
I went off the band for private/personal reasons. Maybe we will be ready for a concert together in a bunch of years or so. No idea, and I focus on new things, especially my own band.

When one door closes, others open, right? I heard about your new project with Ax Genrich? What can you tell us about that?
Exactly! I guess I haven’t seen Ax Genrich since our last gig with Psychedelic Monsterjam (or Neumeier, Genrich, Schmidt) in 2006 (at Burg Herzberg Festival) but met him on the Take Me To The Moon Festival a few months ago and we decided to make music again. At the same festival I met Steff Bollack again after many years and met Conni Maly. So we had the idea to do something together which led to the new project called Die Raumpatrouille, and to our first concert in November. This will be completely improvised krautrock and I’m really looking forward to this gig and hope we will go on then. Last weekend I joined Ax Genrich and his band for a little jam at their show in Kassel, at the Free Flow Festival, and it was soooo good to spend time with Ax! And the jam was great too.

Let’s go on to Nostalgia, your new album. What can you tell me of the recording sessions?
I started recording new songs in 2013 when my freshly bought Mellotron arrived, sadly only the new digital one, sampled from the original mastertapes from the sixties. Anyway, I love these sounds so much and recorded a track instantly (Mellotraum). Later I recorded more tracks here and there which not fitted to other albums, so I collected them and decided they fit perfectly for a album. But man, 2 of them were real songs, where I need vocals. And writing lyrics is definitely not my superpower, hahahhaha. So they stayed unfinished for years. And in late 2021 I forced myself to finish them, what I did. The title track based on a guitar-theme I had in mind since the early 2000’s, but it changed to a Mellotron dominated track. In 2015 I played around with my Korg Polysix (a early 80’s synthesizer) a few days before the first Electric Moon concert at the Planetarium Bochum, where I used this synth. I found a nice arpeggio thing and recorded it without knowing what to do with it. Some days later, at the mentioned concert, the synth died due to the leaking memory-battery (you can hear that in the first song of the concert: https://electric-moon.bandcamp.com/track/the-last-words-of-mister-p). Later I added drums, bass, guitars and more sounds around the arpeggio and the result became one of my favourite songs of the last years. 🙂

Who was involved apart from you and what did they contribute?
Musically I did everything alone. But for mastering Eroc did his great work again and for the cover I used a fantastic painting by french painter Hervé Scott Flament. I also used some pix a friend did (Kilian CabGuy) and the title font painted by Ryan Koster.

A song like We Will Make It has a strong 90s feel, it kind of made me think of Slint, one of my favorite records from that time! Do you know them and do you feel the same?
To be honest I don’t know Slint. Will search and listen to it. After recording the basic guitars it reminded me a bit of Sonic Youth, what I heard a lot that time (around 2016 or so, when I did the recordings). Back in the 90s I was much more into electronic music first and then into late sixties and early seventies psych, kraut and space rock. Haven’t heard much of the 90s music.

I’d say the general mood of the album is quite melancholic, was that intentional? Can you recall what brought that up at the time?
I’m a very melancholic person. I guess you can hear it in a lot of my music. And the words in these 2 songs with vocals are impressed by the feel of these times…

Will you play any of it live? And when in which band will we be able to see you live soon?
There are too many things going on on that album, that I don’t think a four piece can nicely perform these tracks. But we will rehearse some older Sula “classics” and some more new songs. Also I want to play much more with my old bands Zone Six and Interkosmos. And of course with Die Raumpatrouille.

Would you like to pitch any upcoming Sulatron Records releases? What should we be looking out for?
There will be the new Farflung album Like Drones In Honey out in October (hopefully) on CD and LP. And I just received the testpressings for the debut LP Echo Colonnade by Ukranian krautrockers Reflector and listen to them right now. Sounds
great on vinyl! :-). In the same package I got the testpressings of the split LP of Speck (The Metz Sessions) and Interkosmos! Both LPs will be out in early 2023. And Tetrao Urogallus from Hamburg work on their new LP right now which will be released next year too.

What should the Weirdo Shrine readers do after reading this interview?
Hug someone, spread love and listen to great music. 🙂

Dave “Sula Bassana” Schmidt

Upcoming Gigs:
With ZONE SIX:
02.09.22 GER-Bielefeld, Potemkin Bar
With DIE RAUMPATROUILLE:
10.11.22 GER-Heidelberg, Commissary PHV (South-Gettysburg Avenue 45)

Find Sula Bassana and his projects here:
http://www.sulatron.com
http://www.facebook.com/Sulatron.Records
https://www.facebook.com/groups/573333580261594
http://www.soundcloud.com/sulatron
https://www.instagram.com/sulatron_records
http://www.sulabassana.de
http://www.sulabassana.bandcamp.com
http://www.facebook.com/sulabassana
https://www.instagram.com/sula_bassana_music
http://www.zonesix.bandcamp.com
https://www.instagram.com/zone_six_official
https://www.facebook.com/zonesixz6
http://www.zonesix.de
http://www.interkosmos-official.bandcamp.com
https://www.instagram.com/interkosmos_official
https://www.facebook.com/interkosmosofficial

Review + Q&A: CB3- Explorations (2022, Majestic Mountain Records)

I put on Explorations by the Swedish trio CB3, find a comfortable chair and close my eyes. Immediately I let my defenses go and feel myself drop in a gigantic pink translucent jello pudding. Everything becomes soft and fuzzy, and a rosy smile appears on my lips as the world has become slower, softer, and pinker…

I hear a wonderful mixture of sounds ranging from the shoegaze haze of My Bloody Valentine, through the fuzzy sludge wall of noise of early Baroness, to the angelic voice of singer Charlotta reminding in a far and distant way of 90s icons The Breeders and Sonic Youth. As gravity starts becoming weaker I feel myself slowly spinning upside down, letting the full impact of the killer song To Space And Away hit me with all its hazy repetition. In all of this crazy pink gooey reality it is the perfect soundtrack to just losing control and letting go.

The album continues with more killer riffs and skycraper walls of fuzz, completely encapsulating me while I am listening and disappearing further and further into the sweet and warm pudding. I know this will probably the end as oxygen will have to run out at some point, and yet I want this hazy pink bliss to continue. I want it to never end. I am In a Rainbow With Friends and it is just the best.

When the final tones of Through Space And Time have drifted away I feel the ooze and jelly melting away. I am still alive, but now I feel empty and wishing very much to return. Luckily there is a repeat button…

I was pretty lucky to reach out to CB3 and find band leader, vocalist, and guitar hero Charlotta Andersson willing to answer some of my most burning questions. Here’s what she made of them:

Hi guys! How’s CB3 doing these days?
Hello! We are good.

How have you been holding up during the pandemic? What kept you going?
I work as a guitar teacher when I’m not doing this band and projects, so it was as usual, almost. I’m a creative person and like to create stuff and I sit at home doing demos to the band. Then share it with the members. The pandemic gave me extra time to think about our music and at the time I was bored by playing endless guitar solos, repeating myself. I wanted to tell a story with words not just with melodies. When teaching guitar, I have to sing, or else it can be kind of boring just playing a chord progression. That’s when the idea of singing emerged. I started to experiment with vocals and how to find my sound and incorporate it into our songs.

CB3 stands for Charlottas Burning Trio, right? Did the meaning evolve over time or is it still a kick in the face of the jazz world? 🙂
Yes, CB3 is Charlottas Burning Trio. The meaning has evolved, but I think history still stands. So both I think. When I started out the band I felt that I was an outsider playing guitar and soloing, that I always had to prove something, that I wasn’t ordinary and I hated that. Then also there was or is some kind of “anti-shred” – thing going on. So the “burning” was a statement, in your face, against all people saying “You can’t play like that, or like that…”. I felt and still feel that everyone can play whatever they want, the important thing is having fun and that it feels good. I think it also has evolved into meaning: a band that explores music, being ourselves, not trying to fit into an agenda.

Are you the band’s “leader” in a way? How would you describe the dynamics within the band?
Yes I am sort of. I organize almost everything. Natanael, the drummer, has been in this band since almost the beginning and he helps me out with different organizing things. When we look at new material I’ve written, we jam on it. For example: Sometimes Pelle adds a cool bass line and it turns out a little bit different and so on, so they are a part of the writing process as well.

How’s living and playing in Sweden for a band like CB3?
Not so easy, we play too uncommercial music and funds can be hard to get. I think that goes for most of the bands to be honest. To live a life only playing music in Sweden is hard, but you can do it by combining it with other work or other musical projects. I do this band and some other projects I feel are meaningful and combine it with my work as a guitar teacher. So it works for me.

You’ve started out as jazz musicians but are now somewhat adopted by the “stoner” scene, do you feel comfortable there or do you see CB3 eventually branching out into different, perhaps even bigger stages?

I love the underground/DIY/stoner scene. People, fans, bands and so on are genuine music lovers. They go to concerts and I feel there is a nice atmosphere, like everyone is welcomed. When I started to go to a live scene called “Plan B” in Malmö, Sweden, I first made contact with that underground/DIY/stoner or what you will call it. If I felt that I was an outsider before I felt totally at home. It was people doing creative stuff. And I was so inspired and I wanted to play at scenes like that. I would love to play more scenes like that in Europe for example. But to evolve as a band and play other stages would be exciting as well.

What made you pick the bright pink for the album cover? Was it perhaps in some way inspired by My Bloody Valentine?
Not inspired by MBV, but I love that band, they truly explored music with that album. The artist we have collaborated with since the beginning is called Robin Gnista. When we collaborate I only give him the music, the title and what colors and themes we think about.
Then he is free doing his thing. He always does awesome work. So I thought that the album felt kind of pink and purple.

The album title is Exploration, what was the most interesting thing you explored in making the album?
For me it was creating songs with vocals, finding my vocal sound and to develop our song structures.

Were there any psychedelic experiences during the writing or making process of the album or is that just my imagination ;)?
As the drummer of our band said during our last band practice: “We are the most sober stoner/doom band in the scene.” 😀 When I think more about it, the most psychedelic experience must have been the high rush of love, a mesmerizing sci fi tv-series and jamming with the band.

What are your immediate future plans and what is “the dream”?
Releasing the album, release concert and a small tour with a local Malmö band during the autumn. My dream is continuing this band and hopefully go on tour in Europe. Another dream is to play Desertfest Berlin, Roadburn and Levitation or other experimental music festivals. Also doing something collaborative with another form of art.

What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do immediately after reading this interview?
Check out our new music. And if you like it, tell your friends 🙂

CB3

Review + Q&A: Blume- Waves Of Love (2022, self-released)

I’ve been meaning to write something about Canada’s Blume for a while now. Multi-instrumentalist Arthur Benell has conjured up a very infectious way of fusing old school electronic Kraut with modern jangly psych pop rock that worms its way inside your ear and satisfies the old psychedelic jammies at the same time.

Take the wobbly synths of early German kraut pioneers Cluster and Neu! and mix it up with the lethargic guitar vibes and vocals of The Brian Jonestown Massacre and you’ll have a mix that not many psychedelic heads won’t love to wrap around their brain. On Waves Of Love Blume has opted for a more straight forward psych rock sound, also in order to bring it out to live stages in the near future. The result is a record of catchy riffs intermixed with entrancing reverb drenched jams that could go on for days…

Waves Of Love sounds wonderfully warm and thick, and feels at times like taking a dip in a pool full of maple syrup. I think after this one Blume can’t officially call itself lo-fi again, as this record is definitely headphone material that’ll get your head tripping even without any extracurricular substances. It is hard to believe that all this came from just one guy making noise in his bedroom, but there it is. There is something special going on in Edmonton, Canada, and it is clear to me that more people should get to know Blume and dive in Waves Of Love.

I asked Blume’s main (and only) man Arthur Benell to introduce and explain himself and his music. I found him more than willing to spill the beans and invite us into the world of Blume…

Hi Arthur, how have you been doing the past two years?

Hey, I’ve been doing pretty well, thanks for asking. The pandemic had me laid off from my usual work which turned out to have some positives that came along with the free time I had. I was able to put a lot more time into music and was able to really focus on this project. During that time I wrote and recorded my first album and kinda changed the path I wanted Blume to head down.

Where are you from, and do you think where you live effects the music you make?

I’m from Edmonton, in Alberta, Canada. It’s a great city with a vibrant music scene, especially within the more experimental genres. One great thing about Edmonton is that you really experience all the seasons; Summer is full of long sunny days, Fall you get the crisp weather with the colors changing everywhere, Winter is full of snow and night falls early, and spring brings the warm weather and rain to thaw everything out. The change of seasons is always something that gives me a burst of creative energy so it’s nice to have.

Can you tell me how exactly you make music? It’s all DIY, right?

Yeah, it’s all DIY for the most part. I did have my pal Zach Budinski handle the mastering for my first album, but other than that everything has been done by myself. Everything is all self recorded in my spare bedroom on a simple 2 input interface that connects to my computer where I use free software to record. Normally the songs start with no real intention or solid idea in mind. I will just be playing around on whatever instrument it is that time and when I hear something I like I’ll try to build something off that either capturing loops or elaborating more on the part. Majority of my songs are really simple one chord songs at the core, utilizing layers to make the songs sound bigger and more varied.  

How did you start, and when was the moment you started reaching out into the world with your music?

I started Blume as a side project back in 2014 as a means to work on music outside of a band situation. It was a good way to learn and grow in areas I didn’t know and to have an outlet for the ideas I had that I could work on in my own time. I was playing in groups as well but wanted to do my own thing on the side. I released my first EP back in 2015 and released a few more up until 2020. Then in 2021 I released my first album, Synthetic Sounds For The Modern Soul, and have been focusing on this project much more heavily since. 

How did you started getting influenced by psychedelic music? The reason I ask is because your music sounds like it was influenced by oldschool Kraut rock like Cluster and Neu! and you don’t hear that all that often 😉

Psychedelic music has been something around me as long as I can remember. My parents were into a lot of the classic bands but groups like Pink Floyd, Hendrix, and The Beatles always really stood out to me. I myself didn’t really start making psych music until I heard bands like the Velvet Underground and The Stooges in my late teens and I haven’t looked back since. Also good ear, I definitely was influenced by krautrock groups, especially Neu! And Cluster, I really enjoy how they tended to stay away from the usual song structures and really create hypnotic atmospheres using repetition and simplicity. That is something that has influenced me in a huge way.

What are some of your favorite contemporary artists?

Sonic Boom and Spiritualized are obvious ones. There are a tonne of great groups out there right now though. Bands like Moon Duo, The KVB, Holydrug Couple, Cheval Sombre, Black Market Karma, and A Place To Bury Strangers are all bands that are constantly in my rotation. So many great artists out there I could go on and on.

The new album Waves Of Love was intended to play live, right? Are you following through on that intention? I for one would love to see Blume one day!

Yeah, that is one thing I kinda had in the back of my mind when making this album. I wanted things to be a bit more energetic and with more drums so when I did play live it gave people something to bob their heads too. I got a couple shows lined up for this summer so I’m excited for that and to try the new material in front of an audience.

What are you looking forward to in 2022? And in 2023?

This year I’m excited to be back to playing live again and to have put the new album out into the world. For 2023 I am working on another album so hopefully that will all come together and be ready for next year.


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

Check out my new album Waves Of Love!

Cloakroom- Dissolution Wave (2022 Relapse Records)

There is a powerful musical movement on the rise, with new bands combining heavy doomy guitars and dreamy shoegazey melodies and vocals into something sometimes dubbed doompop or heavy shoegaze. Bands like Pelagic Records’ SOM, Willowtip’s Seven Nines And Tens, and now Relapse’s Cloakroom are all weird ducks in their particular pond, treading more melodic and less aggressive waters than most of their label mates. And yet still being heavier in their dark atmosphere than most.

Dissolution Wave for example sounds like being drugged under water, and watching the lights in the sky slowly fading in a subdued haze. It is beautiful, deadly, and melancholic at the same time. On their new album Cloakroom has two faces; they are either The Smiths on horse tranquilizers (take Dottie Black Thrush), or they are a very stoned Jesu. Needless to say I dig both faces quite a lot, being into all of these bands and able to stomach the mood swings.

It’s also perfect music for current times. Subdued, lurking, chilled, drugged, a constant threat always on the surface, yet never really manifesting itself that clearly. It is a soundtrack to listen to on your headphones while you bury yourself underneath a mountain of blankets waiting for better days.

Cloakroom