Design a site like this with WordPress.com
Get started

Interview with Santtu Laakso (DJ Astro, Astral Magic, Astral Zone)

Excuse me, can I perhaps borrow five hours of your time? That’s how long it will take you to let everything that Santtu”Astro” Laakso has created this year wash over you and take your head into deep space and beyond. The pandemic has been a double edged sword for many musicians. For some it meant postponing tours and album releases, for others the discovery of hidden wells of creativity and of course the time to do something with it. Laakso definitely falls into the latter category, being extremely prolific and releasing album after album non stop with his Astral Magic project. Of course it is cool that Laakso has found a muse so endlessly generous, but it has its downsides too. For instance, where do you find the record labels to release all of your work on in these times of financial turbulence and vinyl pressing depression? I talked about this and more with this Finish space rock composer, and added links to all his 2022 releases in between, so enjoy, and if you hear anything you like please support!

How are you? How has the past year been for you as a musician, and how have you “survived” the pandemic?

I’m pretty okay, thank you! Actually, I have the pandemic to thank for even starting this project. In March 2020 I decided that it was time to start home-recording and making music again after a long hiatus. My old, psychedelic space rock band Dark Sun has stopped in 2007 and since then I had only played a little bit in Octopus Syng and UFO-tutkimuksia and a few jams with friends. Now I had a lot of time in my hands because of the lock-down and I had to keep sane somehow. This was the best (and healthiest…) way I could think of! So I got myself some recording gear, new synths, first ever electric guitar and here we are now.

In 2022 I have just kept on going, making connections with new collaborators, producing and releasing more music and so on. It’s been great! If only people had more money to actually buy my releases… Then I could do more! But I have made some new fans over the world, which is cool. I’m always looking for labels to release my music on vinyl (or in any other format), since I can only afford to put it occasionally out on CD or CD-R. I have no intention of playing live, but there have been some requests, so who knows…

Our all family had the virus once this year, but it was luckily pretty mild (all had several vaccinations, thankfully).

Can you introduce yourself?

I’m Santtu Laakso, a 51-year old Finnish guy. I’m into a lot of different music, mostly space/psych/kraut/prog rock but also (old) metal, doom, stoner, ambient, electronic, experimental stuff. I have a master’s degree in theology and I was supposed to become a priest, but I decided otherwise and realized how organized christianity (or any other religion, for that matter) is fake. All you need you can find inside. I love sci-fi and fantasy literature and films, am very interested in human psyche, the (pre-)history of mankind, magic, extraterrestrials, parallel universes, other worlds, altered states of the mind etc.

What can you tell me about your musical background?

As a kid, I used to first listen to Elvis/rock’n’roll, then all kinds of rock, pop and punk etc., you name it. I have teenager’s background in heavy metal, joined my first band Oppression as a singer in 1986. Other band’s worth mentioning include Exitus (a short-lived doom metal band, a post-humous LP was released on Svart Records a few years back) and Dark Sun (1991-2007, I played bass and some synths, several releases out there). I used to also organize gigs (mostly in the psych/stoner genre) and write album and gig/festival reviews and interviews for several magazines and web sites. Some people know me as Dj Astro and I still do occasional dj gigs if it suits me. I used to play at Roadburn Festival for many years, for example.

What does a regular day in your life look like?

I wake up, make some breakfast, walk the dog, and go to work unless I can work at home or have a day off. If I’m not at work I listen to music all the time, usually on headphones. Nowadays, I tend to listen to my own stuff the most: I have several albums I’m working on all the time and I need to figure out what more they need etc. I also collect a lot of LPs and listen to them when I can and have time. I like to cook and I make all the food for my three kids and my wife. Most of my free time I make more Astral Magic music… Sometimes I go to see bands live but not that much lately. I try to see some friends once a week and discuss and listen to music mostly and have a few beers and relax… Sometimes I read or watch Netflix or something, but only if I know there is something really interesting there. I don’t watch TV at all. I like to walk in the nature, so I do that quite a lot too, now often with our dog (an Irish Terrier, one year and nine months old).

What is the best thing about Astral Magic?

It’s my own project so I can do anything I want with it! I’m tired of fighting band members with their own agendas and problems. For other people I think the best thing is that Astral Magic makes some pretty great music with cool, trippy vibes!

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

I’m now living in Espoo, Finland. This is close to the capital Helsinki, where I have lived most of my life. It only takes 30 minutes to get to Helsinki, and there are quite a lot of places for bands to play there. Nowadays, I think it is also quite easy to find rehearsal places, but I don’t need one at the moment. Needs money, though. There is no way I could support my family as a musician, so I’m forced to work full-time. I like my work, so it is okay, but I would prefer to devote myself just to music. The state could support underground artists more, like they do in Sweden, but the situation is pretty okay, I think. Most people listen to different kinds of stuff that I make, though… But there is also a small scene for psych around here and we get some foreign acts to play live as well.

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

Both, really! My main aim is to make music that might have healing and/or mind-expanding effects on people. I know it has for me! Since Astral Magic is a solo project with guest musicians, I have full control of what I can do with it. And I do a lot of different things! Of course I also listen to my collaborators and ask opinions, if they have any. Music is a great escape from all troubles and stress of the every day life, it’s maybe the biggest blessing we have after love. It means so much to me. I could not live without music and I like to spread my own music to as many people as possible so they might enjoy and benefit from it as well.

Can you tell me about how you go about composing and recording songs? And what is the main difference from last time around?

I just sit on the computer, open the DAW and start playing synths, bass or guitar and the music comes out by itself from some other dimension. I always compose and record right away simultaneously. I might change some things later, but not often. I tend to keep everything fresh and as it fist came out, not too complex or rational. With other musicians I always loved to jam and improvise, I think I sort of do that now on my own as well. I just play and record something and usually keep that and add overdubs later. If a track or a full album needs something else, I’ll just ask some of my many international musician friends to add their parts which is just amazing! In Dark Sun we had almost all the guys writing songs and it was much more complicated and needed much more compromising.

I do miss working together with other musicians, so I recorded two songs in a totally analogue studio with members of a Finnish space rock band Kultti-25 which was really fun! Should be out  on 7″ next year. We might do some more.

What are your immediate and long term future plans?

Just make more Astral Magic music for as long as I live and can hold my body and mind together! I hope I can find more labels to get interested in my music (so far I have worked with Sleep Fuse, Space Rock Productions, Weird Beard Records, Tonzonen Records, Clostridium Records, NoiseAgonyMayhem, Fruits De Mer Records and We Don’t Need No Stinking Badges). I’d still keep on making more music even if no-one else would be interested in it, but it is always nice to notice others enjoying it as well. Astral Magic is also a cool, big experiment for me, I’d like to see how far I can go with it.

 I also started a Hawkwind tribute album this year which I hope to continue and finish in 2023. Hawkwind is my favourite band, so… It will be a full CD/2LP if I can find some one to release it.

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

They should ALL go to my Bandcamp site https://astralmagic.bandcamp.com/music and check all my releases and buy those they like if they are still available! All releases are limited editions, some are already gone. LP’s, CD’s, CD-R’s, tapes or just digital downloads, they are all there. Then they should put out the lights, put the music on, close their eyes and relax and let the music take them for a magical journey and heal them. Everything is also available on Spotify, iTunes, YouTube etc.

Thanks a lot for your interest, I hope we will meet in some reality sooner or later!

All Peace to You, Galactic Brothers and Sisters…

Review + Q&A: Fabriccio De la Mora- Entropy Death (2022, Echodelick Records, Dirty Filthy Records)

Instrumental music takes me to the movies. When there is no story told by a lyricist it is up to the mind to put images to the wordless music. In case of Fabriccio de La Mora (also check out his previous album) this is a very easy thing to do. He loves sci-fi and horror and the mixture of the two genres. David Cronenberg and Stuart Gordon are his celluloid heroes. So if titles like Robo Warrior, Bride Of Re-Animator, Dead Ringers, or Scanner mean anything to you, you’d be able to summon these images as well.

The music is often up tempo and oppressive, with a stifling eerie feel to most of these tracks. Synth effects warp up the sci-fi feel, while the guitars do most of the talking. It is like de La Mora and his band have watched a lot of flicks with speedy space ships and intense pursuit scenes while creating their jams. The guitars howl, the drums thunder, the riffs maul the listener in seemingly endless repetition…it is definitely not kraut rock for the hippie generation.

Steampunks and 80s VHS watching sci-fi nerds should however definitely take heed. Entropy Death might summon up a bunch of unseen movies they might enjoy…

I talked to Fabriccio de La Mora, who dialed in from his hometown of Guadalajara, Mexico. It is amazing how popular culture can connect people allover the world, as my music listening head was fully emerged in the sci -fi world and unsuspecting of its Earthly origins. It is a sign once again that music is universal, and a language we all speak fluently.

How are you? How has the past year been for you as a musician?
All good! Pretty chill actually. Been mostly composing and recording and mixing and making art and all that good stuff.

Can you introduce yourself?
I’m Fabriccio De la Mora. I’m 33 and I’m an artist from Guadalajara, Mexico. 

What can you tell me about your musical background?
My dad is a musician. He plays acoustic guitar since he was a teenager, but he couldn’t pursue a full-on music career because my mom got pregnant when they were both young. So me and my brothers and my sister lived in a musical environment, listening mostly to latin american ballads, son cubano and some rock classics of course. All of my brothers got to choose their favorite instruments, and I started playing drums when I was 12, which I sold later at 15 to get my first electric guitar. I played in a few bands. Been playing both guitar and drums since then. I went to art uni later and took a few experimental sound classes there, so that gave me that part of my background. I started a project called Par Asito in 2010 as a solo project, mostly to release noises I recorded independently. That project grew into a heavy psych band that still exists today. I started my solo project on 2019, and I released my first 2 albums this year. I play this solo work with my friends Bubu, Ratita, Fausto, and my cousin Buki.

What does a regular day in your life look like?
I usually wake up to read. Currently digging William Gibson. I’m a software engineer so I usually spend most of my day programming and by the end of the day I take an hour or two to work on music, but I’m currently on sabbatical so my day to day is quite different. Right now I’m mostly working on either art or music. I’m currently working on some art pieces involving circuit boards, I’m also mixing my 4th solo album which I plan to release on the latter half of 2023, and I just started working on my fifth album. I’m also a fan of old electronics and media so I go out thrice a week to flea markets to see what treasures I can find. I just found a working Powerbook 520 that works perfectly well.

What is the best thing about Entropy Death?
I feel like that album came out straight from the gut. I think there’s a lot of coherence between the conceptualization of the tracks and what is expressed sonically in them. I also think my friends and I did a good job recording it. Overall it feel like a solid art piece.

Where do you live and what is the environment like for musicians like you?
I live in Guadalajara. There’s lost of bands. They mostly don’t last more than one EP. People don’t seem to like spending more than $100 MXN (around $5 USD) on a local band. Some of the older bands I’ve played along for years seem a bit desperate now to get signed, so they come up with these goofy sounding silly looking side projects. Local venues are now being extorted by the cartels. I would say it is mostly not fun.

What is your main aim with your music, is it complete artistic expression, or an escape from the every day world? (or something else ;))
My main aim to create a body of work full of futuristic alien landscapes worthy of Stuart Gordon and David Cronenberg movies.

Can you tell me about how you go about composing and recording songs? And what is the main difference from last time around?
I started composing Grand Unified Theories on the guitar and then moved to the rest of the layers. I started Entropy Death on the drums and moved my way up. I just play until something interesting comes up and then I work on it. Usually takes a week per track. Once I have around 40 minutes I call the friends I work with and record things properly at home. I like having someone else mixing and mastering it.

What are your immediate and long term future plans?
Short term I could really use some help booking some cool shows. As far as the future goes, I have no idea.

What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do after reading this interview?
Go watch From Beyond by Stuart Gordon.
From Beyond (trailer)

Review + Q&A: Temple Fang- Jerusalem/The Bridge (2022, Electric Spark Records)

Temple Fang from The Netherlands is slowly but certainly becoming an undeniable force in heavy space rock worldwide. And yet, they have not recorded a single studio album to this day. They did do two amazing live albums (Live at Merleyn from 2022, and Fang Temple from 2021) but this EP is actually their fist attempt at some studio magic. And magical it is! There are two longform songs on here, Jerusalem, and The Bridge.

Jerusalem is a strong song with huge vocal choruses and deep noodling valleys. It soars epically, combining elements of space rock, stoner, and more progressive elements , ultimately building their own house that is not linked to any other. The Bridge opens up a completely different side of the band, a much calmer version of Temple Fang with a vibe that reminds of Black Sabbath‘s Planet Caravan. Together they show two faces of a band that has in fact many more in them. Just visit one of their live shows to see those. I for one, would welcome a full studio album of their musical prowess like the force they show on display here. Until then, this EP will have to make do.

Ivy, Dennis, Jevin, and Egon by Maaike Ronhaar

I talked to bass guitarist and vocalist Dennis Duijnhouwer, who introduces the band and carefully explains their story. A story that might have just begun…

How are you? How has the pandemic period and its aftermath
been for Temple Fang?

Many bands will tell you a similar story, it’s really hard to keep a band together when the thing that bonds you, playing your music for a live audience, falls away for that long. We tried everything we could to stay active and keep the feeling of a band as a gang, but we still ended up losing a member and almost breaking up. When we found our current drummer Egon, we decided to ditch all we had done before, create some new jams and when things opened back up, we hit the road as hard as we could. Since then we’ve played a zillion shows and have really found a new commitment to doing Temple Fang. We are very grateful for this amazing tour season, everyone was so starving for live-music it made for an intense shared experience.

Can you introduce the band, and how did you meet?
Jevin de Groot
(vox, guitar) and me met when I was doing a barshift and was playing this CD-R from a band called Slint, an album called Spiderland, something I had then recently
discovered and was obsessed with. It was kind of my own private secret this record as I didn’t really know anyone who was into this. Jevin walked in the place and immediately came up to the counter and yelled “Spiderland!” at me, we struck up a conversation about this masterpiece and I ended up giving him the CD when he left. Some time later I walked into a rock bar in Amsterdam called the Pits and saw him fronting a band called The Felchers, I had an overwhelming sense of needing to connect with him and do music together, and that just so happened not long after when one of the bands he played in, a punk band named Brezhnev, needed a bass player and we went on our first tour together. (Interesting side note, my former bandmate Oeds Beydals (Iron Jinn) had also walked into that same bar, saw Jevin and decided to dedicate himself to electric guitar.).

Ivy van der Veer (guitar) was a kid I had heard about around town, he was in a whole bunch of bands either playing guitar or drums, and when a friend played me some recordings he was on I made a mental note that if I ever needed a guitar player he would be the guy I’d call first, very musical dude.


Egon Loosveldt (drums) we met through our drum auditions when we lost our first drummer. We were already kind of done with the auditions when Egon send us a very sincere and interesting email, saying he saw us play Sonic Whip festival in Nijmegen in 2019 and he imagined himself to be our drummer. It took one jam with him to realize he was indeed our guy, we took that jam and basically turned it into the set we’ve been playing on this tour.

What can you tell me about your musical backgrounds?
Oh, that’s a complicated subject. I guess we all have very seemingly contradictory backgrounds. For example, Jevin is the biggest Grateful Deadhead I know, but the first band we played in together was a punk band so besides being a ’70s psychnoodler, he’s also an amazing Ramones style, punk-rock downstroker. Also, listening to him playing Willy Nelson songs in soundcheck is a real treat. Ivy’s first band was a Poison Idea cover-band and he still plays drums in a punk band with his dad called Teenage Tits but is also probably the biggest Yes fan in the band, he might be the most prog guy in Temple Fang. And he has an Opeth tattoo… Egon’s background is still a bit of a mystery to us, he’s definitely the most musically trained person in the band, he’s a jazz guy but he’s always had a thing for loud, underground
guitar music. Egon loves Norwegian jazz-rock, Motorpsycho, Elephant 9, Needlepoint and such. But he’s also spend a lot of time in South America and has strong connections with that scene. As for me, I’ve always kind of been all over the place musically. I was into terrible guitar-shredding when I was a kid and things like Zappa. Since then I’ve expanded my influences to include everything from John Coltrane, Bad Brains, Mahavisnu Orchestra. And Hendrix of course. I have to mention one album in particular that changed the course of my personal musical journey, when I heard Tool-Undertow I got so obsessed with the
bass sound on that record I ended up trading my strat in for a Rickenbacker bass.
Furthermore, the past few years I’ve been really tryin to focus on songwriting and trying to learn from the greats, so I take a lot of influence from Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and such. And contemporary artists like Weyes Blood.

TF live by Maaike Ronhaar

What does a regular day in your life look like?
For me right now, TF is pretty much a full time job. I get up in the morning, do some yoga, then start answering emails, checking mixes, collecting artwork ideas from Jevin, uploading
rehearsal recordings, working on new music ideas etc. Lately it’s been hard to find, but I’ll try to get some ‘me’ time in later in the evening, to get in my creative zone, which could consist of me playing bass along to dub records, writing ‘poetry’, listening to records, just anything that has no real purpose behind it other than just being in the moment. Or just getting lost in youtube rabbit holes and feeling really dirty after that.

What can you tell me about the way you have released albums so far? It’s far from the conventional “studio album cycle” right?
Jevin says it best, we work with what’s in front of us. Because our creative process is so collective, it’s difficult to make a solid plan and stick to it. So we just kind of wander in the dark until we find something. Now our band is becoming a bit more of a ‘career’, there’s a bit more pressure to follow ‘album cycles’ but we try to work with labels that understand our way of working and respect it. We try not to make much of a difference between live albums, studio albums, EP’s or whatever, there all just things that we do that capture us wherever we are at a particular moment.

Where do you live and what is the environment like for musicians like you?
We live and operate from Amsterdam, Holland. Ivy grew up here and me and Jevin have lived here for a long time. To say there’s a ‘scene’ here for what we do would be lying, we’ve got a network of friends who are all involved in music and art but everyone is operating in different ‘scenes’. Amsterdam is a difficult city for bands, it’s expensive and crowded and being dominated by money and the people involved in that. We’re lucky to have a great studio now, after having been pushed around by gentrification for years. We’ll just have to wait til the neo-liberal system eats itself and collapses and then artists can move back to this beautiful city and create something new from the rubble.

Dennis Duijnhouwer by Maaike Ronhaar

What are your favorite contemporary bands and albums right now?
We’ve played a ton of ’stoner’ festivals this year which made us pretty weary of downtuned Kyuss/Sleep influenced bands, but there’s been a handful of bands we’ve seen and played with that blew us away, Elder, Yob, Ecstatic Vision, Spill Gold, Neptunian Maximalism to name a few. We’re always curious to see what Motorpsycho and King Gizzard put out, or guitar pickers like Steve Gunn or Ryley Walker. Daniel Romano I’ve been obsessing over lately and also, this 2019 record by Dutch singer Eefje de Visser called Bitterzoet has been on repeat. And I’ve been deep diving in the new Richard Dawson record, the ambition he displays on a songwriting level is something I take a lot of inspiration from.

And because of my friend Abel from Hang Youth, I’ve been deep-diving into a lot of modern Dutch hiphop, the grimier, the better. I bet no one expects someone in TF to be influenced by Mula B, but I am.

Can you tell me about how you go about composing and recording songs?
Also in Jevin’s words, we work in layers. So a song that may be birthed as a riff or chord progression one of us has, gets taken to rehearsal, jammed on, rewritten, tried live a couple times, rewritten again etc. Sometimes there’s themes that keep coming back in jams that eventually become songs of their own. It rarely works if one of us brings a complete song in, I wish it was that easy, but it’s not. And songs keep changing after they’re recorded too, that’s why a song might be on multiple albums we do. Also lately we’ve been embracing riffs or melodies being in different songs, we’ve stopped resisting such things, it’s just
how it works for us.

What is “the dream” when it comes to being an artist?
We’re sort of constantly in a creative zone, our music is in a constant state of flux and there’s always new things happening. If my biggest nightmare is playing in a band doing the same set over and over or having to play the ‘hits’, then this must be the dream!

What are your upcoming plans, and what are you looking
forward to most? We’re putting a new EP out on 29-11 and have a new release after that already in the works, more on that soon. Most looking forward to the next rehearsal, we’re working on a bunch of new music that’s starting to take shape so I’m always excited to see what’s gonna happen to these pieces.

What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do after reading this interview?
Take a moment to count your blessings that there’s bands out there really going for it, putting in the time and the miles on the road. We’ve all missed it so much, we should never take it for granted! Peace, XO DD/TF

@ Heldorado, pic by Maaike Ronhaar

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

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

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

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

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

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

How is El Universo doing these days?

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

Can you introduce the band to the Weirdo Shrine audience? 

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

What is your musical background?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are your hopes and dreams for your music?

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

Where does your inspiration come from?

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

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

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

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

Listen to El Universo 👁️🕳️🔺

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are your musical backgrounds?

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

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

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

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

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

What does it look like when you are writing music?

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

Where do you gather your inspiration?

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

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

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

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

Realising our dream.

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

Feel loved. 

Interview and album walkthrough: Farflung- Like Drones In Honey (2022, Sulatron Records)

With the re-release of Farflung’s 1995 classic 25.000 Feet Per Second only last year it seems like Farflung has not been off our collective radars for a while, but in fact their last outing This Capsule was released over four years ago! Four years in which a lot can happen, like a freaking pandemic! Luckily our four spacemen can travel space and time, and will not be held back by distance or time. Even with lyricist and guitarist Michael Esther living on another continent (Europe) and the rest of the band in Los Angeles, USA Farflung kept on writing and recording. The result is no joke! Like Drones In Honey feels in everything like a full band operating with all engines running full speed. There is Hawkwind worshipping space rock madness, there is postpunk tripping, there are full blown weirdo experiments fueled by nightly escapades in the Californian desert…in other words, not much has changed.

But hey! Why take my word for it when you can have the full band explaining what is going on in your ears when you are listening to the new album? Tommy Grenas, Michael Esther, Paul Hischier, and Chris Nakata were kind enough to spend some time describing their thoughts on the writing process, and ultimately on taking a full blown walk through the album. So buckle up, it’s going to be a spacey ride…

Hi guys! First of all: how are you and how have you been since last time we spoke? (at the re-release of 25.000 ft per second LP in January this year).

Paul: Hi there. Things have calmed down after turbulent times; the pandemic, the death of my father, collapsing relationships, but those struggles have passed.  Now it’s mellow vibes on the West Side.  We did an interview the other day and it wasn’t until I saw the other guy’s faces that I realized how much I miss seeing my Farflung brothers.  We were so happy to see each other!  I’m pleased that Like Drones in Honey has officially released.  Stoked to be on Sulatron!!!  Dave rules!!

Michael: Things are ok here. Not much has changed…working on the music and art… hoping for more positivity in the world…

Tommy: Things have been good. I ‘we’ve’ been very happy working with Dave at Sulatron, and the releases that have come out so far. I was glad to do it, and with all the guys to come up with the concept and artwork for the new lp , and the groups overall construction on the mixes and vibe of it all. There’s new things on the back burner and ideas are already starting to formulate. There were also a couple of interesting sessions out at Saturn Moon (Nakata’s studio in Yukka valley] and I’ve been working on ideas out here in Woodstock, NY. I hope to get out to the desert to see Chris and Paul soon to continue with things. Out here in the Catskills, NY, things slow way down in winter, so I’ve been taking Jobs here and there to prep for it. This is quite a contrast to the Covid shutdown of the recent past. I’ve also been working with a local cinema, and record store, putting on events that are live music to film, or visual to music also. We’ve had some great artists involved and it’s been a great experience. I also built a small print shop and have been making posters and shirts, sleeves, for the event, and other things. Yes, been a quite busy year so far. 

The new album has been finished for quite a while, right? Can you tell me about the writing and recording process

Paul: From my angle the process was, and the product is, pure ecstasy in the Greek meaning: “entrancement, astonishment, insanity; any displacement or removal from the proper place”. The time of recording this LP is the most free that I have ever felt making a record. 100% the process for me was to disassociate from the pandemic and it’s ripple effects.  To me (us?) it’s sculpture and collage, improv avant-freedom-rock, no boundaries.  We create & capture everything; the deeply psychedelic and confrontational, the perfect and the sublime, the incorrect and the wrong. Add in existential void screaming, found sound, field recordings, then exploit our limitations, then add in a dash of kosmische moon howling.  Reverse everything and start over. 

Michael: It’s different than it was years ago…seeing that we are spread across the globe… from my side… the difficult thing is and the thing I miss most is all of us being in the studio at the same time…. we trade track ideas and overdubs back and forth via the internet and Chris does his magic… 

Tommy: Well this will be a long answer, but ~Most of it started  at Tarantula Ranch [my wife Abby Travis’s old studio in Los Angeles]. It was an interesting time. We ‘were already prepping to pull up anchor and leave that city. Abby was on tour and the studio was basically 3/4 gutted of stuff for the move. All that remained was faulty equipment, pieces of drum kits, stuff too sell, low grade amps and dodgy synth gear. Chris had a mobile pro tools unit he would slung around to jam sessions, and brought it over and set it up. We had no planning, just, let’s try to use what’s here and if it’s crappy sounding well so be it. It turned out to be quite the challenge and totally rewarding. Chris basically duct taped and bolted a kit together using what was around into a rather strange set. He also just set up things to hit that would give off sound.  Me and Paul chained our gear together and experimented with the tweaky ramshackle amps to get tones. Between what was glitchy and operating, and with the rather bizarre keyboard selection Chris had at Saturn Moon, I created the synth pad arena. Last but not least, Skott Rusch, old time Farflung, when science fails guitar psych-scaper, showed up with the wired out troglodonic noisemaker, and generators amongst everything else. Mean while in Italy Michael was conjuring strange worlds and patterns at his mobile unit, that would be transmitted to our radar station of sorts. I think this all started around may of 2019. It certainly was not an album session as many of Farflung’s were, but just another field of experimentation. Sessions were whoosey, and magical. It seemed like we’re we’re on another off charts adventure with the band. Sonically, it was an experimentation on a new level for me. I’d like to think Farflung has never been a slave to a genre, even though sometimes we’ve been pigeonholed to it by certain folk, but that’s ok. Whatever there pleasure is. We have never been interested in trends or tags, and this compendium of tracks is clear of that on this lp. Coincidentally, Chris was living in Los Angeles, and that is where the original Saturn Moon was. I’ve spoken about that wonderful lab before, but Chris also pulled up anchor, and found a place to set up studio in Yucca valley . It was a bit later, but we got together and started to flesh out the tracks more into song there. I did not bring any gear really, Just used what Chris had there. We were also joined by Bobby Lee [moso groto] who had played a bit on the original sessions. He put down some great low and driving stuff on a couple of the tracks, and he’s an all all round swell guy. After some long walks in the desert and “stimulation” later, we were laying down the vocals and finishing touches to the tracks from Mike’s emu3 in Italy, and the Los Angeles, and Yucca sessions . We Mixed remotely, but had a good idea of what it should be like. Chris doing most of the honors on that end.  

Can you both tell me your favorite thing about the album and why?

Tommy: To me it’s a natural continuation of This Capsule, the previous LP. It felt like it should be. It does go off in its own tangent here and there but they still seem related. The same is reflected in the look and artwork continued in a more sparse and forward visual. We have also become tighter with friends and family. Everyone put a lot into it and I can feel it. I sure the next one will be quite different, but for now this is still the focus. My favorite tracks are King Fright and Tiny Cities [best section is the end of side one, where it really levitates to me.] it’s in the sound on there very clear. I don’t think anyone who has followed what we do will not see that’s but essentially, we [I] also do it for ourselves own goal. 

Paul: My favorite thing about the album is the journey.  I prefer to listen to the whole LP in a sitting with headphones. Like when I was a kid listening to LPs, hyper focused on every detail.  It’s a love letter to decay and collapse from wizened survivors. 

What can you tell me about the title Like Drones To Honey?

Michael: We were tossing ideas around and this one worked… I like the open reading possibility of the word drone…(a bee, a sound, a flying device). I think about recording in terms of layers of sound… of ideas that come together and arrive at a song, then a group of songs, then album artwork that solidifies into an object..  sonic and physical…Bees carrying pollen flower to flower…Honey as residue… similar to the way in which ideas float person to person…thought as a productive function of the body…a type of secretion……all these types of things I’ve been fascinated with for years….  it just worked for this album

Tommy: I think Michael came up with it.  There was a photo of a woman laughing in a garden by photographer Peter Graham we were going to use, but I don’t think it was in a place were the label were too excited about it. I ended up making collages around the title. It was a lot of fun and I like doing things by hand and not on a computer. I liked the triple meaning of the LP title, a kind of calvertesque sci fi vibe to it. Drunken workers floating in the mead, mind bombs gliding without fuel, the sound of open chords together, something like that.

Paul: We started it in May 2019 without a hint of what would happen 6 months later.  At that point we were personally undergoing a ton of changes; Chris moving out of LA to the desert, Tommy moving to Woodstock after living in LA for so many years, and I had just moved back here after living overseas for a long time. Mikey had a lot going on in Italy.  A lot of major changes with us were already underway.  A good portion of the music was recorded during the height of the pandemic, so there was a lot of strange feelings happening all around us, which the music captures.  A lot of fear/uncertainty/doubt permeating the atmosphere. The music and the rituals around the music making were a bright spot during that period, but it was very dark and isolating time for everyone.  Like Drones in Honey was a coping mechanism for me (us?). 

On to the walkthrough: let’s go through all the songs of the album and their meaning:

  • Acid Drain

Tommy: Lyrically, someone I knew had passed away from dementia, and did not receive much needed help. She left a great sweetness behind her in her past, so both things colliding there a bit. Musically, a little nod to Can, but definitely also one of my favorite movies, Robinson Crusoe on Mars, all those ominous melodies creating a weird score. That was the first track recoded We believe. Paul’s Pro One making fuzzy bass freak outs on the chorus, and lots of vocal mayhem. 

Paul:

Perfect start “klingggg” 

3 tix to CS

Tremmmy guitars and pings, such a swirl happening

Gut punches and screams

Pro~One sweepszzzz

A rich tapestry of tones, zones zones zones zones zones zones zones

Chris: Yes, this was the first track we recorded. I remember familiarizing myself with the drums, and liking them. Tommy was excited by the sound from the start. That was a great way to begin, and pretty much set the tone for much of the album. I can still see Paul, peering at me through the small opening of the hood of his hoodie, zipped up to the top because it was cold in the garage, his wide eyes growing even larger from the massive sound of his synth.

  • Earthmen Look Alike To Me

Chris: This one seemed to go down quickly. Just a lot of fun. Tommy could often be seen shaking his butt to this one during playback.

Tommy: Moving to the Catskills forests in autumn  was mystical and surreal being in a big city for so long. There was a big male red bull cardinal who would fly into the windows dawn till dusk relentlessly waking us to explore things early, very early. The silence, and sounds of trees and animals that has become normal now. We had discovered weird rock formations on the property that were were told to be paleo Indian. It was magical an foreboding. The title was a working title, and the lyrics came much later, so it just stuck with a quote from and old analog, pulp novel.  The musical session was a big jam. I was channeling RCA period Hawkwind a little I think. Then it just goes into Farflung, it reminds me a lot of what a session from us in the 90s would of sounded like. 

Paul:

Sick Casio beat into Uncontrollable Urge acoustic

Super sick turnaround

50 tracks of guitars, or 50,000?

Chrome-esque Helios-y ‘Destroyed My Brain” turnaround is incredible 

  • King Fright

Tommy: Mike’s original track, overdubbed by the rest of us, then mike back on it again. Lyrically the main thread is Michael. I interpreted it as having an almost Nick Cave vibe to it, but the retort that I vocalized came off rather PIL in a weird way. Political PIL meets Crass ha ha. The sound in the beginning is an old printing rack slamming and creaking with me being, well drunk, blabbering . Chris was percussively playing his whole kitchen on that track. 

Paul:

Another fooking amazing Mikey Surprise

Turns into a face puncher

Diamond nipples

Then the bells, so many bells, bells and swirls

Fuzzy chuggzzz 

GREEN HAS LEFT THE BORDER

Chris: Basically, a back-and-forth between Michael and Tommy. A great juxtaposition, and very gratifying to lay down tracks on this.

  • Tiny Cities Made Of Broken Teeth

Tommy: I was sitting in an old art warehouse in Woodstock, in the middle of winter looking out into a dead frozen woods surrounded by water. It truly looked like an alien planetscape. I thought about how life almost dies but is dormant, in a dream state we can’t imagine.  I was listening to a lot of old dub at the time, and there was a cinematic vibe to the jam. We were a little confused what to do with it, but one night a layering session in the desert just blossomed and we’re were all lying around just spacing on it. It just came to be like that. Two worlds collide, and end with someone standing on a flyover in Los Angeles in the rain. Past future present. 

Chris: A very soothing trip. Such a groovy bass from Bobby. In the last section, Tommy hummed the bassline for me to play, and I really liked the orchestral sound of the bass part. Then, Michael sent his parts with such an orchestral approach, fermenting the gentle crescendo that allows for the exhale to end the side.

Paul:

From where do these seeds sprout?

I’ve hitched my space-steed to the goddamn ring mod on this one

Early Pink Floyd chord progressions

Michael’s slide, perfect as always

The tremolo guitar has so much sustain

The ending is straight off of a LA ’68 Love re-issue

Soo psychedelic 

  • Dludgebmasterpoede

Chris: Honestly, I wasn’t sure where this one was going, but somehow Tommy’s other-worldly mind managed to bring it all together. Originally, a working title (again, from Tommy’s mind) that I insisted on keeping.  Resistant at first, Tommy relented after he saw how particular I was about the original spelling and pronunciation.

Tommy: 3 sessions fused into one, but strangely , also recorded in that order. I really love Manuel Göttsching‘s inventions for electric guitar, and it’s funny that, well, I always thought Steve Hillage’s, Rainbow Dome Music LP is also related musically. I got this new guitar pedal thing in the mail, that just happened to sound like that and went for it. Old Farflung luminary Skott Rusch [hunting lodge] just happed to  be around and added his trogotronic transmission device to the whole track, levitating it out of orbit. Part two, a little Rudimentary Peni vibe on it. Just a great fun punk moment for us that’s always there. Paul phrased “self cleaning oven” as a way that nature gets rid of an irritating presence on its skin, the rest of the lyrics just ran in. Title ? No idea. 

Paul:

Infinite pings and unceasing pongs

glissando guide master Michael

Chirps, tweets, and sweeps

Jaki Liebezeit beat to the T 

Delay 68 Can meets Heldon 

With INSANE turnaround after “OKAYYYYY!!!!”

The teeth on that guitar and the drummer, Jesus what a drummer . . .

Sneaky fucker on bass, the balls on that kid performing those sick runs

A SELF CLEANING OVEN – a lack of empathy will destroy us

  • Baile an Doire

Tommy: I always thought some surf music sounded kinda Celtic, or euro ethnic. Or maybe it had an influence on it in the 60s, probably the latter, anyhow always loved the rousing element to it. We laid down the track and thought it was also kinda goth sounding. My grandparents some aunts uncles spoke a little Gaelic, and I remembered the pigeon English that would happen after a few drinks behind the piano or even transistor in the kitchen. I was burnt out that day and could not come up with any theme or idea, so I started to run off in that banter. Paul and Chris both loved it, but also we’re amused by it. I decided, why not. the rousing tribal drums almost sound like a battle call and I  was reminded of an area where I grew up, where the river crossed into the Lough Neagh through an oak wood. I used to go fishing there.  But I was told a site of great turmoil. If you’re up for some history, look it up, Baile an Doire,  Ballinderry.  Just probably channeling spirits, of sorts.  

Chris: My main memory is the night we recorded vocals. As soon as Tommy started singing in this style, we knew it was right. Or was it? Who knows. All I know is that Paul and I couldn’t stop laughing.

Paul:

Why don’t you try the lyrics in Gælic?”

Turns into a Killing Joke song

Who did the haunting lead?

All of a sudden it is an Echo & The Bunnymen song

Absurdddd-uuu ringgggg-uuuu moddd–uu klannnnggzzz

Into bliss

The forever-ending is too beautiful

  • Touch of the Lemmings Kiss

Tommy: Mikes lyrics. Sounded ominous and soothing. Felt like I was lying down in a meadow somewhere, waiting for it to end. 

Paul:

Mikey flying in from a deep and beautiful place to give us his blessings

Dolce piano pianissimo 

Goddamn always with the bombers, love it!

Chris: Michael’s tracks were trippy and didn’t need much, really. We just added a few instruments here and there.

  • A Year In Japan

Chris: A late-night video-call led to making the background for Tommy’s whispers.

Tommy: Talking birds in the forest one night. I just recorded me speaking back to them after enjoying things I found to eat there. These birds fly to japan in winter. Hope they took my message. I miss Japan a bit. Would like to go there again. Very different. 

Paul:

Beefheart gone wild

Right into a later Wire song

What are your immediate future plans? (hoping for some tours!!!)

Paul: The immediate plan that I want to happen is for all of us to hang out in person again.  It’s been far too long.  A tour will happen at some point after all the uncertainty dissipates. Until then I’m good to stay in the studio and work on the next batch of songs.

Michael: It would be great to tour. We have to see how things shake out ….

Tommy: Oh boy I don’t know. I’d do it with Sula Bassana or a Dave Sulatron thing. Cosmic minds, for like minds. Good vibes, no neg stuff. We play better when it’s connected. I’m kinda over the random stoner rock night out, and we’re the lemon band not riffing off 3 bars to hard shit. I’m not that into getting sick on the road either. We’ll see. I’d love to travel with my friends, no pressure no worries. We’re a bit older, just don’t want to be away from home and sick. That may not sound very rock n roll, but fuck that shit. I don’t care. Recording stuff can be way too much fun sometimes. Especially with the guys in Yucca valley, and Milan. 

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

Michael: It’s difficult times these days in the world…I’d say, produce some joy. Think of joy as a  transformational act… 

Tommy: Do whatever is possible to support the true people to end this global tyranny wherever you are, and also support those who do it. It’s a frightening world, and I’m very concerned for the next generations. There’s no way you can’t be concerned about that. Things have to be better than this. 

Paul: Give Like Drones in Honey a spin and ride the cosmic tides.  Then head out into nature. 

Review + Q&A: Snakes Don’t Belong In Alaska- Interstellic Psychedelic (2022, Up In Her Room Records)

So the new Snakes Don’t Belong In Alaska album…is freaking dense! It’s like they took all their dark thoughts and frustrations with the past pandemic period and channelled them into these five slabs of heavy psychedelic space rock. There’s even a sense of sci-fi horror and evil lurking over Interstellic Psychedelic, oozing out of it. A sense of dread that is fed by the spoken word snippets left, right, and center, theatrically building images of lost souls and dark visions…but keeping their tongue firmly in their cheek at the same time.

Because at the same time that some of this record will give me the shivers, the campy keyboards, the over the top theatrics, and the thick emphasis on spaciness also made me conjure up images of Douglas AdamsHitchhiker’s Guide To The GalaxyInterstellic Psychedelic could well have been one of its hazier chapters. You know; it’s about total death and the destruction planets, but it’s gruesomely funny at the same time. You can totally see Zaphod Beeblebrox throwing down some Pan-Galactic Gargleblasters and rocking out to this in his space ship.

Nothing about their true intentions becomes entirely clear though, and that is on purpose. Snakes Don’t Belong In Alaska are true improvisationalists; they love taking things as they present themselves. That’s how you have to listen to this album as well. You’ll never know what lurks beyond the corner, because neither do they! Anything is possible, from playing the electric Kazoo to including a 12-year-old kid’s poetry. It makes this mostly instrumental journey all the more exciting. It moves from dangerous to funny to epic in minutes, like the good sci-fi movies of yore used to. Best thing to do is light one up and let these intergalactic Englishmen take you to the next dimension…

Snakes Don’t Belong In Alaska

So with this being the second time I reviewed Snakes Don’t Belong In Alaska, I could certainly not just leave it at that? I had to talk to them! Luckily Aaron Bertram (bass snake) kindly and swiftly replied...

How are you guys doing these days? How did you deal with the dreaded pandemic?

Absolutely awesome. We were very lost in the beginning of the pandemic but I (bass snake) decided to buy equipment to record and produce from home and spent hundreds of hours watching YouTube video tutorials. our first home recording experiment was Electric Bong Water. After finishing that we realized with a bit more hard work we could probably record an album this way, so we set to work on The Eternal Electric Landscape. The strangest thing about it was actually having to write music as everything up until this point was completely improvised. After electric bong water Dan from Up In Her Room Records got in touch about working together. So overall i’d have to give us a pat on the back and say we done pretty well through the pandemic. If you listen to Enter The Psychedemic from the new record the lyrics reflect this.

Can you introduce the band to the Weirdo Shrine readers? Anything people really need to know up front about your band?

Our motto is try everything and anything, record it, see if it works. This mindset has led to the use of things such as electric kazoo on The Eternal Electric Landscape and Interstellic Psychedelic. Our live sets are mostly improv jamming our own tracks loosely. The weirder something sounds the better.

What can you tell me about the making of Interstellic Psychedelic? In what way did your approach to record differ from The Eternal Electric Landscape?

We begun the writing and recording of this record in October 2021 and at first approached it in a very similar way to The Eternal Electric Landscape. However the record slowly started becoming its own entity and we viewed it that way. The last song on the record called Nature Of The Evil Within is A poetic story direct from the twisted psychedelic mind of 12 year old honorary baby snake Layland Bertram (my son). Sound tracked and performed by dad’s band. He won an award at school for it and once I read it I knew we had to work on it to make it into a sound tracked version of the story. So we were taking influence from places we’d not normally think to explore.

How important is jamming and improvisation for SDBIA? How do you make sure that comes across right on record?

It is the core of what we are. Even in this record although it has been written, it was all written and recorded in one take to maintain the core vibe and we stay away from thinking too hard about structure, you’ll never hear us doing verse, chorus, verse, chorus.

You guys are from Newcastle, right? In what way does living there influence you as an artist? Is there a psychedelic scene for instance?

We are yes, although Jarrid is actually Canadian. When people think of Newcastle they think of poverty and a tough social attitude and i think that comes across in our rough and ready, high energy sound. There isn’t much of a music scene at all in Newcastle now, many touring bands completely miss the city. That being said there is still a pretty cool underground scene that consists of many genres working together, which is pretty cool.

In what way is playing psychedelic music and using psychedelic substances interwoven with each other do you think?

Oh dear my mum will be reading this haha, Hi Mum. I think the two are part of the same entity. Psych music, at least our psych music is completely about exploration of the mind and I’d say that psychedelic substances have the same purpose. Although we’re mostly good boys these days haha.

What would you say is your biggest influence, both musically and otherwise?

We all have a similar core of influence, Hawkwind, Floyd, Earthless, 35007, etc. But we all have our own individual musical influences too, myself being into a lot of punk, Alex being into British indie and Jarrid being classic rock and folk. We also take a lot of influence from the psych world in general, people like Kenneth Anger.

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

We are going to put way more energy into gigging, we’ve all been so buys in our home lives recently. We are currently organizing a short UK tour for the back end of the year and hopefully looking to slither our tails a little further a field next year.

When will your spaceship land in The Netherlands?

We are hoping to put together some mainland Europe shows next year but it’s difficult with finances, if we can get the right deals with promoters so we can actually afford to do it, the Netherlands will definitely be one of our top priorities of places to play.

What should the Weirdo Shrine readers do after this interview?

Go listen to Interstellic Psychedelic and some of our historical stuff so you can hear the evolution of SDBIA and continue to support your local psych scenes especially the DIY ones. Thank you everyone!

Studio Report: Giöbia

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

Hi guys, how have you been this pandemic period?

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

Melissa Crema in the studio

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

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

Melissa Crema recording

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

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

Drummer Pietro D’ambrosio recording

What are the lyrical themes?

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

The band in the studio

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

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

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

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

Guitarist Stefano Basurto recording

Any other projects you’re working on?

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

Grombira- Desert Warp (2022 Tonzonen Records)

Grombira from Würzburg, Germany, play “oriental” space rock using electric sitars and traditional melodies to mind travel to a hippie 60s time where everything was a lot more simple and laid back. A time where you could easily tune in and drop out with your Shisha bong in one hand and your favorite Pink Floyd and Grateful Dead albums in the other.

Desert Warp is their second outing, a record like many other independent releases plagued by Corona delays. It has been finished for quite some time, and I reckon that bandleader Ralph Nebl and his fellows are dying to present it in a live setting, where instrumental space trip music like this is at its best.

The record starts with an ode to an Indian Goddess through So Far Goddess, a track riddled with spacey Sitar sounds and ambient oriental musings. It gets a lot weirder next with the extra terrestrial space funk song Alien Communication, which lets in some of those sweet Funkadelic influences and is deliciously larded with weirdo synths and reverb trickery. It is followed by the album’s title track Desert Warp, which is a heavier rocking, desert style jam that has an extremely cool and laid back camel riding vibe through it all. It is also the first track to feature some chanted vocals, although Grombira mostly keeps their jams 100% instrumental. The album closes with the ambitiously conducted Per Aspera Ad Astra, a twenty minute space odyssey that is cut into three separate chapters. It is a long jam, starting out funky, turning more into all out space rock through the middle, then getting very spooky and minimalistic for a while building up to a great crescendo that hurls us all in a desert warp around the milky way again.

It is a lovely instrumental space nugget that will definitely finds its way to the right hippie ears out there. Let’s hope it will also lead to a bunch of well deserved live rituals, because that’s where these spacey sounds belong first and foremost.

I talked to Grombira bandleader, guitar, voice and sitar player “sheyk rAleph” aka Ralph Nebl about the making of the record and a lot more:

How are you? How has Grombira been during the pandemics? Any upsides to it, would you say?

I’m ok thanks. We were stopped like all the other bands and artists. There were lots of plans and concerts cancelled but on the other hand I had time to write and we used the time for sessions. That was a very creative time finally were we encountered layers of our creative personalities. That’s an upside I guess.

Can you describe the process leading up to the release of this album, it’s been a bumpy ride, wasn’t it? 

Well…Our Studio Album was almost done in spring 2020. But due to the right feel and the right moment I decided to listen to our session materials. After one week of listening I realized there were a lot of outstanding sessions, in particular two days with about 6 hours of direct to tape recorded magic. We decided to ask Tonzonen if they’d like to put it on vinyl. After few hours at the studio everything was at the right place. The bumpy ride began when vinyl got rare suddenly and my cover artwork went too complicated to realize. But there was somewhat like a good spirit carrying us… don’t know how but it felt good all the time. We had a lot of fun during the free sessions and I did the cover ideas in one night. Well, after nearly one year we have a wonderful production done which would have never been realized without Chris and Dirk at Tonzonen. Rough times but we went tough through it 🤓

Can you tell me about the writing process and the recordings?

Writing is an ongoing process. We draw a large part of our compositions from the joint sessions. That has always been the way with me and this is how magic hours arise that, with a lot of luck, we also record. It is important that you play authentic, anyway with or without an audience. The idea for the name Desert Warp came about after the title track had been mixed. It was like a wild flight through the desert at night. The track Alien Communication works like a musical encounter of the 3rd kind. I think it has a cool flow and carries the laughter and humor we had during the recording. At: So far goddess I was able to return to my Indian music roots. That hasn’t happened to me in sessions for a long time. With Fred, Achim and Andy, musical journeys through the universe of styles are possible, which I have always dreamed of. This mixture of session flow, humor and professionalism means a lot of fun. At: Per Aspera ad Astra we really went on a journey. The original track was 71 minutes long and unfortunately had to be cut. Otherwise the LP was recorded completely live in the magic caboose. I did the mixing and mastering with Ali Lionnet at Jam Productions which appeared to be really enriching in every moment during the process.

Can you tell me about your relationship with Tonzonen Records? How did Grombira end up there?

I remember that a friend called and told me, that Dirk of Tonzonen asked him about us. We were in the studio at this time and I was working on a few tracks we’d recently performed live and wanted to fit them into a more structured form. Tonzonen seemed to be perfect for us and offered us to produce our first official LP. Since 2006 we had released lots of tapes, limited CDs, limited vinyl singles, EPs and stuff. But my label Sheykwheel music was too small for the next step. With Tonzonen we entered the next level and it still feels very comfortable being able to share authentic non mainstream sounds with our fans.

What are your plans and ambitions with Grombira? 

Oh let’s see. We are all hoping for better times to come and perform live again. In 2022 our studio album and two tapes with outtakes will also be released. Actually I’m working on a few oriental electronic & acoustic jams I did with friends from Canada in 2020. I’m optimistic for 2022 and beyond. Whatever will happen- we are at the right place at the right time. I always had a crush on oriental music and fusion. With Grombira a star gate opened and I’m lucky to invite everyone to join us.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Craig Williamson


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

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


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


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

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


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


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


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


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

Craig -Lamp Of The Universe- Williamson