Heavy Birds – Drag


[ Moon Records, 2016 ]

Some heavy Velvetian vibes from this New York City three-member unit Heavy Birds presenting their technicolor voyage Drag, issued on their label Moon Records. Maybe I should be paying more attention to band names – because after a few listens, the name Heavy Birds sticks very well with this bunch. It’s flying, in a classic, psychedelic sense of the word – but at the same time too heavy to actually take out. Lots of cavemen riffs and opiate atmospherics clash with the heavy, slow drumming that make the album actually impossible to take off. I don’t know if that’s the Velvet Underground influence, but there is actually a seedy, almost criminal take on the music here. A heavily inebriated psychedelic rock that was conceived in some evil minds. Recommended!

Elkhorn – Elkhorn


[ Beyond Beyond Is Beyond, 2016 ]

I tell you what: I don’t get why this particular brand of folk with extensive fingerpicking techniques mastered in the 1960’s by Robbie Basho or Sandy Bull is called American Primitivsm. Because in my opinion to pull this kind of acoustic guitar trickery you have to be anything but primitive. But hey, there are stranger music genre names out there, so who am I to judge? Anyway, every once and then I return to this guitar goodness and the genre is very well alive, as exemplified by the New York duo Elkhorn. The dynamic duo of Jesse Sheppard and Drew Gardner on twelve-string acoustic guitar and electric guitar (respectively) draws “several different traditions; from American Primitive to Psychedelic Rock, from Hindustani to Mauritanian, from Krautrock to Jazz; pulling from players as diverse as Robbie Basho, Sonny Sharrock, Ben Chasny, and David GilmourThe result is simple, yet complex; clean, yet trippy; relaxing yet totally enveloping. An amazing listen, the intricate guitar soloing puts the listener in a state of constantly heightened awareness, being totally satisfied and begging for more at the same time. Highly recommended!

Grotto – Smokonomicon


[ Eggs in Aspic, 2016 ]

You want it heavier? GOOD!!! Because Grotto is as heavy of a muscle car that is the genre of stoner rock as it can be without turning into a steamroller. Okay, that sentence didn’t really make a whole lot of sense. But who cares!? These Belgian dudes are heavy as fuck, yet manage to make some amazingly melodic, intricate tracks on the way while staying faithful to the Holy Heaviness and the Sacred Fuzz. The oldschool fantasy themes and the great artwork Robin Van Oyen (who also runs the music blog Stonerobixxx) only adds to the great, somewhat nostalgic experience. Riff on! Highly recommended!

UFO Över Lappland – UFO Över Lappland


[ Fluere Tapes, 2016 ]

There’s one thing I’ve noticed missing in the blog posts lately: ROCK!!! Be it psych, kraut, space or stoner rock – this blogs needs MORE of that! The counter-electronic offensive starts with a tape from the Swedish band UFO Över Lappland with its heavy metal umlaut showing promise of some amplifier worship. Well, it’s not exactly super-heavy, but it’s definitely super-heady! The steady, krauty rhythm is about the only thing that anchors them to solid ground – everything else is far out in space, baby! Fuzzy, overdriven, reverbed, it’s all about meaty basslines and trippy distortions! That’s what psych rock should be all about, a sound to get completely lost in and stop giving a fuck about the outside world. Highly recommended!

Andrzej Nowak – Cocktail Paint


[ Dunno Recordings, 2016 ]

Looney Tunes in MIDI: There is a somewhat hazy backstory to this album: the label blurb claims is an archival release by the Polish electronic musician Andrzej Nowak who might actually not be Andrzej Nowak at all. The brief description at the label page states that it’s an archival release of short electronic pieces recorded between 1987 and 1994 for a series of cartoons. Apparently, the soundtrack was scrapped because the producer didn’t like it. However, it’s extremely hard to find any information to confirm this and every attempt to Google musician Andrzej Nowak ends up on Andrzej Nowak the rock musician, who was the founder of the Polish heavy metal band TSA. Whether it’s a genuine archival album or a brand new alter ego mindfuck, the MIDI sounds on Cocktail Paint are deliciously wacky and cheap-sounding, which would make a great early 90’s computer game soundtrack. Strange!

Ssaliva / Wanda Group – Birth Body


[ Woetone, 2013 ]

A seemingly colliding split release between Belgian hypnagogist François Boulanger a.k.a. Ssaliva and the British cryptic sound sculptor Louis Johnstone also known as Wanda Group. At first it sounds like both sides are from different galaxies: the contrast between Ssaliva’s nostalgic, sun-kissed synthwave and Wanda Group forever-locked-in-caps-lock-and-never-going-below-10-minutes musique concrete approach is almost too much to bear. But with each repeated listening, a common vision for hazy, enveloping psychedelic experience emerges that reaches beyond different approaches to music-writing (accessible, even catchy vs. abstract and challenging) and length of the tracks. Both musicians managed to create two unique soundworlds, Ssaliva being the drugged-up 80’s beach memory, and Wanda Group’s being the Ballardian terminal beach. Goodbye, Eniwetok. Highly recommended!

Mirko – LP1


[ Room40, 2016 ]

The debut album by the London based musician Mirko Vogel was something I wanted to put up on Weed Temple as the last post of 2016. A sort of a sombre, dusty, meditative wrap-up on the turbulent year, with lots of violence and chaos arising in various parts of the globe. But LP1 is a calm meditation – it’s full of hope, that maybe, maybe, things will get better. Built around soothing drones, heavy ambience and haunting pianos the music here is a wide-eyed sonic panorama, like overlooking a large city from a big height or distance. Music for seeing the bigger image – definitely a treat for fans of Ben Frost, Fabio Orsi or Tim Hecker. Highly recommended!