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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: 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!

Meditation In Space: Fred Laird’s Empty House, Dave Read’s El Hombre Al Agua, Chino Burga’s Invokaciones, and Angad Berar’s A Broadcast Under Water.

Space rock vs. meditation…a good pairing?

Through all the noise of daily life, the constant pull of social media, the wars that are fought allover the world, the stress of pandemics and the worries about climate change, it would seem like a good idea to escape everything and push all of those things away and out of your head. In stead of constantly being on edge about everything it would seem like a better idea to try to live in the moment, with nothing more than your senses. Try for a second to just sense your surroundings without judgment. It seems impossible. And yet, mindfulness and meditation are based on that principle; to live in the moment and to empty your mind. Some musicians are aware of this, and they write music to accompany this idea. In this article I tried to experience a meditative state while listening to their music, and I asked the makers about their own experiences.

El Hombre Al Agua- Memories Can Be Injected (2022, Echodelick Records/Up In Her Room Records)

El Hombre Al Agua

Starting off with Dave Read’s solo project El Hombre Al Agua, basically the reason why I came up with the idea in the first place. Very differently from his work in bands like Moths & Locusts or Annunaki, Read here completely lets go of the principle of the “song” and simply goes with the flow, letting the sounds, bleeps, and effects do the talking. Is it music for meditation? Well, the first track is called Three Minute Meditation, which features a singing bowl, and a deep male voice telling us to “relax” and how to breathe. I tried this, and it works! Closing my eyes, and breathing in deeply twice, then letting go I got in the right mood to let the other songs wash over me in a very dreamy mental state as well. I wouldn’t directly say I was already meditating, but I was definitely listening more intensively and with full attention. I have to say though, the exercise worked better with the tracks without any rhythmic throb or beat, especially on the title track Memories Can Be Injected that got a little in the way of my quiet state of mind.

Do you meditate, what brought you into contact with it?  

I do meditate, in my own personal way, generally just taking time daily for mindfulness and reflection. It helps me calm my mind and focus on whatever needs focussing on.  I have a bunch of meditation LPs in my collection, some I’ve had for many years, I guess you could say that’s how I got into it.  That and reading people like Thich Nhat Hahn who inspire me to pursue the best life possible for myself and others.

In what way does (your) music play a role in meditation? 

 I apply breathing and repetition exercises in both music and meditation, and I find drone music in particular is especially receptive to using these techniques.  I’m a big fan of long form musical pieces that slowly ebb and flow, they feel like the musical equivalent of meditation.  I also take inspiration from old 1970s New Age spiritual guru type records.

Can you describe the importance of meditation in your life and in general? 

It is something that helps me keep calm and focussed, not an easy task in today’s society.  I find it’s important to take a few moments each day for meditation, it helps me stay positive and productive.  Ram Dass introduced me to the philosophy of Be Here Now.

Do you have any tips/tricks for starters? 

 John Lennon says it best, ‘Turn off your mind and float downstream’

Anything you would like to add, names to drop, etc  

Check out Ram Dass, Sufi Inayat Khan, Thich Nhat Hahn, Chino Burga, Wasted Cathedral, Ravi Shankar, Brian Eno and Sunn O)))

Empty House- Blue Bamboo (2022, self-released)

Empty House- Blue Bamboo

For my next exercise I used the latest Empty House release Blue Bamboo by UK psych wizard Fred Laird, also known for his work in space rock band Earthling Society and his current endeavor Taras Bulba (which featured on this blog twice before). Needless to say I am a big fan, and follow his ever growing creative outlets under various different monikers with great interest.

For Blue Bamboo he wrote: “Blue Bamboo consists of four improvised pieces for meditation or total chill out. Recorded over a few days in February and built upon drones created by the organ through a dream pedal or Tanpura box. The tracks were then splashed with colour and hues with treated piano, shakuhachi flute, bells, synth, field recordings and other instruments. Inspired by my faith in Buddhism as well as the music of Eno, David Sylvian, Midori Takada and Popol Vuh – Blue Bamboo is 30+ minutes of escape from a bullshit warmongering climate.”

And so I prepped myself with the breathing instructions I gained from Dave Read’s Three Minute Meditation and dove right in. The music on Blue Bamboo is very tranquil, very open, and less focussed on spacing out. Perhaps its more written about spacing “in” if you catch my drift. There are lots of beautiful moments to ponder about, similar to taking a morning forest walk and really taking in the beauty of what you see. Like El Hombre Al Agua, some spoken word is used, which adds to the experience, and can be pushed aside if you will your mind to it. Thirty minutes later I return back into my room. I open my eyes and for a moment think of nothing. I think I succeeded.

Fred adds: I started practicing meditation from the date the first lockdown began in March 2020. Whilst my employers where wondering what to do with the work situation and the rest of civilisation thought we were entering the opening chapters of Stephen King’s ‘The Stand’, my lazy old self thought it was ample time to kick back and practice some Chi breathing and other relaxing pursuits. I started reading the books of Taoist master Mantak Chia which taught you how to develop the cosmic orbit meditation. This technique is performed by breathing through the naval similar to how an unborn child breathes when attached to the umbilical cord, or when you see an infant breathe and the tummies extend because they still have the antenatal instinct. This enables you to fully engage your lungs rather than a fraction of what adults use. Apparently you lose the art of how to truly breathe.

However as normal life starts to come back and crush your spirit, trying to put 30 minutes aside to stare at a wall and breathe like a baby starts to become an impossibility.

Instead I incorporate meditation into other concepts. I put 20 minutes core exercise into my routine 4 times a week. This involves a number of abdominal and leg exercises that are pretty steady and usually performed to music. I prefer Brian Eno’s ambient albums or Tony Scott’s ‘Music for Zen Meditation’ which is an absolute classic. I started to paint in watercolours to music as well. A lot of my paintings feature clouds and blue skies, pretty aimless images, bamboo, flowers that kind of thing. I like to listen to Susuma Yakota’s Sakura album, Midori Takada, Mkwaju Ensemble or Popol Vuh whilst I paint.

As I practice martial arts, I use the poomsae which is the patterns you learn for grading as another form of meditation. Emptying your mind and focusing your energy on the poomsae helps block out things that maybe troubling you and helps you focus on the now.

So there are lots of ways to meditate without sitting under a bodhi tree waiting for enlightenment. Meditation walking for another example.

A good guide to start would be the book ‘Peace is every step’ by Thich Nhat Hanh. It’s a very clear and simple book from a zen master.

Chino Burga- Invokaciones (2021, Echodelick Records)

Chino Burga- Invokaciones (2021)

Invokaciones by Peruvian psychedelic drone master Chino Burga was brought to my attention last year by Echodelick Records when they sent me a test pressing of this piece of dense instrumental drone. I have to say it took me a while before I knew what I was to do with this, but in writing this piece about meditation all fell into place. I contacted Chino, and to my delight he was already deeply immersed into meditation.

Getting rid of time and tempo is exactly what Invokaciones does. It lurks and lumbers in a very eerie, and unfathomable way. It rather fills up an entire room with audio smoke, engulfing its listener with its soundwaves and lulling you in a trance. I could very well see me losing myself in a tranquil meditative state on this record. The way Chino Burga himself talks about, it might even been written to do so…

Do you meditate, what brought you into contact with it?

I passed throught a very dark period where I had almost no control of my own life, leading by anxiety, depression and addictions, it was reflected in several months with no sleep at all. So I started to calm down my brain with binaural frequencies and that was the first step for a deeper search

 In what way does (your) music play a role in meditation?

My music is the result of a lot rituals, where meditation is one of the phases that I set up to be able to process a new album. I found the act itself of playing as a meditation practice. As I try to play with no tempo and repetitively, soon I lost the sense of time, leaving me in a no-space-or-time place, perfect for introspection. But of course it’s a very own thing

Can you describe the importance of meditation in your life and in general?

Most people think meditation means close your eyes and relax for a certain period of time. To me represents a state of mind where you are aware of yourself, can happens listening music, reading a book or watching the trees, it just takes me to a silence in mind state that I appreciate each day more

Do you have any tips/tricks for starters?

I’m not a point of reference for sure….but…Try to keep silence in every sense in order to be able to listen in every sense

Anything you would like to add, names to drop, etc

Thank you and Echodelick for the support

Angad Berar- A Broadcast, Underwater (2020, self-released)

I got to know Angad Berar through his 2019 album Elephants On The Beach, that was re-released on vinyl by Echodelick Records last year. I was immediately struck by the immense tranquility and peace that emanated from his work. Samples of birds chirping and spoken word are worked delicately into his layered solo guitar structures, making for beautiful soundscapes that stay wonderfully captivating. A Broadcast, Under Water is a later release on which Angad Berar explores an even more tranquil and silenced mode of himself. It is a record that seems purposed for meditation. And so I contacted its maker, and once again asked him to comment.

 Do you meditate, what brought you into contact with it?

Yes, however the frequency is lesser than I would like (hahaha). I got introduced to meditation whilst living~working in a community located in South India. Invoked by the lush green vegetation, the quiet neighbourhood and the beauty of nature near the equator — the place offered dynamic meditation. We were gently motivated to live our day consciously and actively meditate on the tasks in hand.

In the evening, we collectively meditated in a shared space. A practice similar to Sri Aurobindo and Mirra Alfassa’s teachings — a branch of conscious meditation.

This new found approach to life brought significant changes to my approach to music, in terms of listening and playing. Hence, it was natural to continue this practice.

In what way does (your) music play a role in meditation?

Music is both the path and the vehicle when it comes to meditation. Often, it takes a form of either and on those rare occasions, it embodies a dual nature.
As a role, currently my music is still maturing and the preferred form is yet to be established. Most of the music I play is intended to calm the listener or to the very least induce joy. That’s the dream, you know?
Until now, I haven’t yet consciously created music for meditation. However, I feel its meditation which has played a role in my music. There is more air and pace between the notes.

Can you describe the importance of meditation in your life and in general?

I think it boils down to Cause and Effect. If the ‘cause’ is created mindfully then the ‘effect’ of it is true to it’s intent. For example if a song is created to induce peace or happiness, and for some reason the artist wasn’t mindful about what they were playing and how they were playing, it might happen that the final piece does not fully solve its purpose (of spreading happiness). In my family often when my mother or grandmother cook food – it induces happiness and joy amongst everyone. I feel that they cook mindfully with love and that gets translated into the food.

Meditation helps me clear the noise and centre myself. This ‘state’ allows me to be 100% focussed on the matter in hand – a being, task, dance, music whatever : )

In the words of Satprem – When the mind is silent, words come, speech comes, action comes, everything comes, automatically, with striking exactness and speed. It is indeed another, much lighter way of living.

Do you have any tips/tricks for starters?

For starters, I would suggest finding a mentor / guru to guide you. It might take some time to find the right person but in the end it will make all the difference.

Anything you would like to add, names to drop, etc

Songs that help me get there –

Madeira by Debashish Bhattacharya 

A Meaningful Moment by Stars of the Lid

Raga Yaman – Zia Mohiuddin Dagar

Zakir Hussain and Rakesh Chaurasiya 

Anti-Stress for babies and families by Suso Saiz

Telephone Exchange- Télegrafos de México (2021 Up In Her Room Records)

Telephone Exchange from Mexico are definitely one of the weirder ducks in our proverbial pond. I reckoned I had them pinned down quite well when they released their first sign of life a while ago (previewed exclusively on this blog), but a quick listen through Telegrafos de Mexico proves I had absolutely no idea. The album starts out with “Plagiarism as an Art form” (I loosely translated the Russian letters in the title) and presents us with a bucketload of feedback and a hypnotic but catchy garage pop chant.

Hypnotism and repetition is definitely on the menu in Mexico at this particular time because tracks like Que Irresponsable and ཧཙལར ཕརམའ (hatsalara pharama’a) are both that, while at the same time being nothing alike. At once being noisy and loud, and then suddenly lovely and cartoonish, to being dark and shamanistic, there is just no way to possibly know what will be next, which is a treat of course, and a quality to applaud.

If I had to be forced to provide the reader with a contemporary reference or a peer band it would probably lead somewhere deep into King Gizzard land, be it way noisier (Butthole Surfers-noisy even) and perhaps a tad naive in a cool outlandish way. Their style can be traced back to no wave at times, also in its stubborn quirkiness, with all kinds of detours through other genres. The overall atmosphere is one of psychedelic anxiety though, a violet colored acid trip gone way down into the rabbit hole and perhaps never back out again…

I must say I am really happy to be able to be in contact with the outskirts of the weirdo psych spectrum and pick up on a band like Telephone Exchange. It takes a pretty “different” type of waterhead to take the listener on trips just a tad further around the corner like this. I love that their transmission reached all the way out of Mexico into my room, and I would encourage everybody that feels in any way part of this Weirdo Shrine of mine to pick up this crazy telephone conversation and enjoy the trip!

Track premiere: Telephone Exchange – ~ (2021 Up In Her Room Records)

~ from the upcoming album on Up In Her Room Records

All the way from Mexico City, the enigmatic musical entity Telephone Exchange brings us a new sign of life that eventually lead to their new album Telegrafos de Mexico on Up In Her Room Records later this year.

So who are they? Well, that remains a bit shady, and their official bio states: “Telephone exchange is a giant processor of all human practice” so I guess we should just listen to the sounds…which are quite hazy and enigmatic as well! From their first instrumental song “~” we can conclude that they mix shoegaze, postpunk and krautrock with cinematic black and white images, so I what’s not to love? Dive in deep people and stay on the look out for that album.

Snakes Don’t Belong In Alaska- The Eternal Electric Landscape (2021 Up In Her Room Records)

Improvisational bands live dangerously. You’ll never quite know what you’re going to get. That’s why it is so incredibly impressive that The Eternal Electric Landscape by Snakes Don’t Belong In Alaska sounds like a dark concept album, like the whole thing has little to do with chance or fate…or is it perhaps black magic?

From the get go the UK quartet goes Through The Darkest Dimensions, summoning a mysterious atmosphere, with ghoulish, wailing vocals and hair-raising synths. The plodding drums plod threateningly on, towards impending doom…but slowly, without any rush, the whole eleven minutes long…

Onwards with the hypnotic German krautrock vibes of Elektrische Zeitreise. Kaleidoscopic melodies claw into each other playing tricks on your senses. And that’s still the lightest track of the bunch, because The Holy Mountain Of Fire brings all the epicness that title promises, and then some. The vocals sound like a demented sermon by some fallen priest, while the guitars build up ominous walls.

Walls that lead up to the final song The Eternal Electric Landscape, and its big crescendo: The Horned Serpent. It’s a ritualistic song with dark chanting gang vocals and endlessly spiraling riffs over brooding synths. Once again it amazes me how Snakes Don’t Belong In Alaska are able to keep up their dark concept of psychedelic madness without much planning or scheming. The fact that they are an improvisational band, and that these dark musings spring from their band chemistry and collective imaginations is quite amazing, and a bit frightening too…it must be black magic.

Wolfen- The Mission (2021 Up In Her Room Records)

Dreamy music in general is mostly associated with good dreams: dream pop, dream like trance music, trippy stuff, good times. Wolfen (UK) undeniably makes dreamy music, but whether they are good dreams or nightmares still remains to be seen…

Consisting of members of British trip conveyors Korb and vocalist/multi instrumentalist Shane Horgan, The Mission truly feels like a melting together of two completely different worlds: dreamy spacerock, and a darker take on gothic garage rock. The latter is mostly due to Horgan’s vocals, which sound raspy and broken, like a bat out of hell howling at the moon. To be honest, it took me some time to truly appreciate them, but it’s the inherent darkness they add to the mix that does make Wolfen sound completely unlike anything else.

The raw vocals and the space-y music together make for a sound faintly reminiscent of early 90s British bands like Stone Roses or Spacemen 3. Wolfen sound more otherworldly though, like some relic out of the druggy shoegaze scene shot into space. All alone in his tiny little space capsule Wolfen wails and rages against the merciless void, slowly and inevitably moving further away from planet Earth into the growing vastness of the galaxy.

Whether you want to embark on this trip is up to you, the listener. Just beware of the type of dreamy music Wolfen makes. It might be a darker dream than you are capable of handling. Once fully prepared though, The Mission takes you to parts of the galaxy no other band has taken you before.