Tag Archives: psych

Underground Sounds: Sir Robin & The Longbowmen – S/T

Label: Independent
Band: Sir Robin & The Longbowmen
Origin: Germany

With a beaver on the cover and an obvious reference to Robin Hood in the band name, this group from the German city of Dresden captured my eye instantly. Sir Robin & The Longbowmen is a big band with seven members that likes to play psychedelic music and that they do well.

The band also has a rather big load of humor if you look at their facebook page, where they claim inpspiration from Czech porn and thank Michael Jackson, Phil Collins and Costas Cordalis for some dubious contributions. Oh, that and they claim to be the tallest band in Saxony, which might be true.

Musically the sound of the band is rather filmic, oriëntal even on openern ‘Sissi’s Harp’, where the sitar-like sounds meander through hypnotically. That atmosphere sticks to the music, which also includes funky bass loops, frilly samples and a good buit of world music here and there. The sound is not too filled up with all sorts of jambling by the huge band, the sound is condensed into a meaningful and fitting form.

Repetition is one of the key elements of psych music and that is what you hear mostly on the songs, but the vocals vary immensely. From the muttering Spanish on ‘Tramboliko’ to be burly roar on ‘Dead Horse’ with it’s nice 70’s vibe. There is a trace of chamber poppiness in their sound, most notably on ‘I Would Like’, with some sensitive arrangements.

Shimmering slow pop with fluttering instruments is what the band does with little effort, as much as their more dense psychedelic jams. It’s all particularly captivating and enjoyable. Why do I dig this so much? Because the whole record is good, it feels like a whole, a complete record with good, pleasant music. Check them out, you know you want to!

Sounds of the Underground #20

New music for the people! A batch from the underground with Khemmis, For Giants, Les Attitudes Spectrales and Benoît Pioulard. Good music for your ears, this is.

Khemmis – Absolution

source: bandcamp

Though the name is not ringing any bells yet, the cover of the new record by these doom lovers reminds me of 70’s fantasy and immediatly attracted my attention. A big sounding band with a classic influence. Towering riffs and majestic solo work. The Colorado band has only been around for a short while, releasing their debut on 20 Buck Spin. Production was in hands of Dave Otero (Cobalt, Nightbringer). This promises much for the future of these young men, since their sound is that kind which has a quality that doesn’t tie itself to certain decades.

Six monumental tracks of clean vocal doom, sounding mournful but still keeping an energetic pace that works pretty well from your lazy chair. It has pretty much everything going for it. A fancy cover, good production and the sound of earthy catacombs. Lyrically the band is in love with grandeur and dark themes. How else would you like to have it? There’s a certain pop sensibility to the sound of this band, that makes the music very accesible. I would argue that this is a good thing for what they are aiming to do. Doom traditionally has that element and these guys put it to their best use.

For Giants – You Are The Universe 

Source: Bandcamp

Nothing beats a good bit of atmospheric, instrumental rock music. Specially if it masterfully sets down a mood and tells a story on its own without using words. This continent spanning American project has produced a couple of releases over the last few years and this is the most recent album, number two if we were counting. The sound is a clean, sharp and spacious. It feels a bit like an outer space adventure sonically.

The feeling this music gives can be described as a bit of Ayreons grandeur (call me crazy if you will) and The Mars Volta’s experimental zoning out. Add a bit of that good old Devin Townsend weirdness and I guess you got a bit of the vibe these guys offer.  The clean, soaring guitar parts take over where you’d expect vocals and do so rather succesfully. The band themselves put their sound between progressive, djent and metalcore and that seems pretty much fine as well. It’s a good listen, thats for sure though.

Les Attitudes Spectrales – Floral Wreck

Source: Bandcamp

Maybe its a personal thing, but a noisy/experimental French/Latvian duo that is being compared to the White Stripes is for me reason enough to check some music out. The result is a psyched out, primitive, jangling series of pop tunes featuring drums and guitars from the duo. There’s a certain weary drag to the sound that is slightly remniscent of the more dreamy and hypnotic psych bands of these days.

The unpolished, raw sound of the band is in fact the greatest charm of their sound, which is natural and free in shaping itself. Labelling it as compost rock or ghost punk seems rather fitting. The lo-fi sound only adds to the charm of the band, which has been performing in the Baltics mainly. Truth be told, I feel this is a worthy candidate for next years Eindhoven Psych Lab. The sound is much more adventurous, daring and yet minimal to the almost primitive with a good dose of weird.

Benoît Pioulard – Stanza 

source: Bandcamp

Thomas Meluch decided to take up an artist name with Benoît Pioulard for his organic work. It’s music and photography, and the two seem to have become intertwined somehow. The soothing, fuzzy sounds are like the nature pictures accompanying them. Free of human intervention, clean and pure. Meluch is extremely productive and every other month another record appears to be released on his bandcamp. A good thing, if you ask me.

The seven songs of this record are not action packed tracks. They embrace a sense of tranquility, calm and atmosphere like the sunrays through a forest on a summer morning. Life is slowly awakening and things are still quiet. Slow droning sounds quiver in the air, sounding a bit distant as if its a concious lo-fi recording to create more ambience. The record is intended as a companion piece for the LP ‘Sonnet’, but I’m fairly sure it stands strong enough on its own as a soothing piece of ambient.

Sounds of the Underground #15

Another taste of the Underground with some new music, some unreleased stuff that promises a lot and so on, this time Urfaust, King Woman, Crowbar and Kjeld.

Urfaust – Apparations/Die Erste Levitation 

Source: Metal Archives

I love Urfaust, it’s one of the strangest and most whimsical black metal bands around. Everything about them feels hardcore, unless when you look a bit closer and it becomes a big mockery of black metal traditions. Booze and half arsed German seem to be the overlying themes of their work. Because the album ‘Apparations’ is not out yet, I’d like to look at their latest 7″ and the just released track, titled after the album. ‘Die Erste Levitation’ is a haunting record, that seems to have some oriëntal influences in it (a bit like the mighty OM). The screams are the typical dolorous screams of their singer, while the sounds seem to rattle all around them.

The new track continues that feel of a strange ambient atmosphere, even making me think about the famous ‘Sylvester Anfang’ as used by Mayhem. Wavering rhythms and harrowing vocals are always present, while the song slowly builds up to its crescendo. Is this still black metal? I wonder if it should be called that. There’s a classical or folky atmosphere to it, that moves the duo away from what it originally sounded like. I’m quite excited about hearing the full album, can’t wait for that one.

King Woman – Doubt/’Dove / Fond Affections’ 

Source: thenativesound.limitedrun.com

The most particular thing about King Woman are the vocals, which remind you of either Rabia Shaheen Qazi (as on Earth’s ‘From The Zodiacal Light’) or, as commonly used in reviews, PJ Harvey. Kristina Esfandiari truly carries the sound of this band, formed by languid vocal, doomy drones and spun out riffs. Add to that a dark, gloomy atmosphere that reeks of neo-folk, and you have something quite special brewing here.

Though I’d love to make this all about the forthcoming EP ‘Doubt’, I can’t because it’s not out yet. So luckily one can check some of the previous songs. Only then it becomes clear what a leap the band made in between, they really seem to have found their sound. The poppy, clean sound of their earlier songs definitely doesn’t  live up to the shattering, gloomy impression of this new work. I’m eager to hear the whole thing to be honest.

Crowbar – Symmetry in Black 

Source: Metal Archives

Crowbar has been around forever with their New Orleans sludge, but I’ve never given them much thought. Truth be told, I never gave any band from over there much thought until I started getting into EyeHateGod. The heavy, monolithic sound of the band around Kirk Windstein is quite awesome. Being so heavy, yet so calculated and intelligent is a gift not every band seems to have. Since 1989 the band has been blundering through the musical landscape with their peculiar sound. The pummeling sounds of songs like ‘Walk with Knowledge Wisely’ are impressive and still as convincing as all that time ago.

Clean guitar wailing pierces the sludgy rhythm section for some respite. The sheer brutality of a song like ‘Ageless Decay’ provides a whole other side to the balanced songs you hear. It’s for those that worship the riffs this album provides the tasty bits you need. It always seems to hang near bombastic, but stays earthy and organic. The roaring thunder of Windsteins vocals gives every song the effect of a wrecking ball, if not for the sheer impact of the heavy riffs that is. This album is thoroughly enjoyable and a steady homage to the southern sludge sound. Filled with elements of doom, punk and depressed violence, its one for the road.

Kjeld – Skym 

Source: Metal Archives

While yesterday I struggled to put words to paper (screen..whatever) about the sludgers of Crowbar, today comes brimming with inspiration from my own country with black-metallers Kjeld from the north. They hail from De Wâlden, Fryslân, and their debut sounds like the finest majestic stuff from the north with grim battle-readiness. The sheer brutality of the blastbeats is overwhelming, but the band continually maintains a melodic structure in their songs. Filled with great passages and captivating sections of intensity, this is one hell of a record.

Songs like ‘Brek En Bran’ are hectic and wild, hardly easy to follow for a casual listener. ‘Stoarm’ feels like an actual storm, raging around you but following patterns, slowly descending to a short calm before launching once more to the heavens. On closer ‘Bern Fan Freya’ we can hear an outro that adds to the mythical elements in their music, the attention to atmosphere and feeling for the listener. A few times the band shows this side, the capacity to maximize on the minimal, like the break in ‘Gerlofs Donia’. This band is the kind that keeps proving to me that black metal is alive and kicking.

Stream the whole album here.

Fat White Family @ Area51

It’s time to get down and dirty in Area51 with the most dangerous band of the moment: The Fat White Family. It’s been quiet in the skatecenter for a while, but music is being made in their refurnished concert hall.

The place was suffering from a lack of isolation for the sound, but that seems to be fixed with this new solution. Luckily, the grimy atmosphere is still there. Walking past the railing, visitors can see kids skate untill they face a black curtain, behind which the magic happens.

Fat White Family getting it on.
Fat White Family getting it on.

Todays show is one by the Gruismeel club, who’ve been putting up awesome psych shows in Eindhoven for a while now. One of their great talents seem to be to find the exact right location for shows.

Warming up is the band The Voyeurs, who capture they eye mainly due to their almost identical guitar players on the stage. Inspiration seems to come from the early garage scene of the artsy seventies and a bit of Iggy Pop. That results in a hazy sort of psych rock, where you can casually drift along with. The turtleneck sweaters are very noticable.

They calm sound of the five from London makes the a good warm-up for what is to come. Interesting is the fact that the band has roots in the middle-east, which might be detectable in their hypnotic sound. There’s something about this band that is captivating, but I find I cannot grasp it fully.

In between the set, DJ ONONiiONIONIION is playing a maddening mixture of what seems to be Eastern folk music, dance beats and Bollywood blitz. Though confusing some visitors, it is a detail to the night that creates a rather fun atmosphere. Better than to drown the crowd in fuzzed out psych, it opens up the bouquet of the bands a bit by letting it breathe.

Properly dressed still
Properly dressed still

Fat White Family has become notorious for their live act. There’s something fatalistic in their whole swagger. Frontman Lias Saudi makes you feel drunk or stoned (or both) by just the way he holds himself. The band needs no words and lunges into a set full of jangling punky tracks, mainly from their debut album ‘Champagne Holocaust’.

Wether you find them ridiculous or outrageous, there’s a strenght to this band and a conviction to simply not give a flying fuck about anything. Saudi soon has his t-shirt of, jumping into the crowd, shrieking and franticly dancing. In fact, I think he’d do the exact same thing if no one had turned up. The pants stay on however, which makes this an occasion where one can actually take a look at the rest of the band.

It’s that empty gaze of doom of guitar player Saul Adamczewski (formerly of The Metros)  that seems to embody the futility of it all that can be felt through songs like ‘I Am Mark E. Smith’, which is one that gets the crowd going. The band just throws itself at one song after another, of which the perverted tones of ‘Touch The Leather’ seems to be the peak of the set.

The band doesn’t last an hour, but that’s ok. Instead of making you think you had enough, they leave you hungry. That feels about right with these guys.