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Review + Q&A: King Isxan- Gishra L’anani (2022, Sound Effect Records)

These days I’m against traveling by plane, unless it is absolutely necessary. It is therefore all the more pleasurable to be able to visit all kinds of different countries and cultures by music, and flying there by ear. It makes me able to visit a country like Canada quite often, even though I was never actually there. Only last week I flew past Greece, the USA, Italy, and Hungary in this fashion. And today I am visiting Israel.

Gishra L’anani is the new album by Tel Aviv’s King Isxan, and their sound transports the mind to the mediterranean, warm breezes, desert sands, and lots of hip shaking middle Eastern melodies. With a sound that holds a middle ground between the weirdo repetitions of King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, the fast forward psychedelic swirl of forgotten heroes Verma, and the lazy city groove of a band like Wooden Shjips it is safe to say that King Isxan will appeal to fans of modern psychedelic music. And while there is not that much new to find here underneath the desert sun, the band does their repetitive sultan swing incredibly infectiously, and will make you hop on one leg across your room wishing of warmer days.

Their focus on repetition, drive, and atmosphere make King Isxan great mind traveling music. It is a perfect soundtrack to close your eyes to and drift to the distant shores of Gishra L’anani

Time for a proper introduction then! I talked to Dor Yadlin, who handles vocals and guitar.

How are you? How has the pandemic period been for King Isxan?

We are just thrilled to have our debut album Gishra L’anani out and to be able to perform music from it, now that live shows  are back. The past two years have been complex in many aspects of our lives, but for the band they were truly creative times. We’ve completed the work on our album, wrote and composed new material that we’ve recorded just a couple of weeks ago, and we even had an amazing and intimate concert just when we missed people the most.

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

King Isxan is a trio consisting of two electric guitars and drums. About five years ago, as we were working together trying to make a living, Eyal, our drummer, and I introduced each other to our music. Back then, I wanted to learn how to record some demos on my computer and he was this talented Trap producer. At the same time, Yuval which I knew from when we were little, just came back from India on the King’s caravan and with a beautiful Sitar, and it was clear that this is a match.

What can you tell me about your musical backgrounds?

We’re all raised in musical environments, beginning like many others with jazz, rock and some electronic, long before we were into psychedelic and krautrock. Also, Yuval is a brilliant oud player, and as such he’s responsible for bringing in the Mideastern sounds to our music.

What does a regular day in your life look like?

Dreaming, waking up, learning, teaching, fighting fascists, making music and so on.

What is the story about the band name?

Back in the day, I was studying ancient cultures and since playing together felt absolutely ritualistic, we looked for a local, ancient kingdom to celebrate. Thank gods, The king revealed himself.

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

Yuval and I live in Tel Aviv and Eyal is living the country dream twenty minutes away from us. Tel Aviv is a cool place to create in, there’s a lot of different scenes, but as the city is pretty small all the scenes get mixed up and there’s a chance to experience and collaborate with very different musicians. There’s a lot of DIY going on in the city which is always a fertile ground for new things.

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

I can only speak on my behalf, but for me King Isxan is, first of all, sincere connection and communication. We leave outside all arbitrary conventions and background noises, having fun and co-create.

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

Usually, we get carried away with long jammings that get a bit shorter and into some structure and order with time.

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

Selling out as an NFT QR code, obviously; or alternatively, to continually explore together our roots, values and sound.

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

You should be proud of yourself. Also, listen to the first 3 tracks on our album without any stops between them. Then, look inside you and ask “again?”.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can you introduce the band to the Weirdo Shrine audience?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can you tell me about your future plans?

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

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

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

What should the Weirdo Shrine readers do after this interview?

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

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

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

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

Lammping

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