Saturday, June 27, 2015

Photos and video: Connoisseur, Celeste and Primitive Man



 Primitive Man

On Thursday (June 25) I checked out Primitive Man with French post-metalers Celeste, Oakland weed avengers Connoisseur at the Maywood. Locals Priapus opened, but were mostly done by the time I arrived. Of the bands I saw, Connoisseur easily made the biggest impression on me. These are some hilarious, weed-loving dudes. Every song was about smoking weed, buying weed, not having weed, and friends who will help you out by giving you weed. My personal favorite was the anti-GMO, anti-corporate weed rant below.

Connoisseur from Mann's World on Vimeo.

As for Celeste, I wasn't sure what to think when they started off with a fog machine. A fog machine in a small club is NOT A GOOD THING as far as I'm concerned. But then they all turned on red headlamps and this happened. My iPhone couldn't quite handle it, so there's only 11 seconds, but you get the picture. Good stuff. I recommend you see them if you can.

Celeste from Mann's World on Vimeo.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Journey to the center of your mind with Sacri Monti and Ecstatic Vision

Recently I've been listening to a couple of upcoming releases that are on the trippier side of things, and I suggest you check them out.

San Diego's Sacri Monti will release its self-titled debut July 24 on Tee Pee, which is my go-to label for '70s-inspired psychedelic bands. Like their label-mates Earthless, Sacri Monti knows how to rip, burying their riffage a thick, smoking haze of fuzz, and employing some serious wah-pedal gynmastics.

Philly's Ecstatic Vision take the fuzz to a whole new dimension on their Relapse debut, "Sonic Praise" (out June 30). The album is a spacey, rhythmic concoction of Hawkwind, Krautrock and Sun Ra, which goes full-on freak out on the standout track, "Astral Plane" (stream here).

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Lifting MAKE’s ‘Golden Veil’

Yesterday I posted on Facebook that MAKE’s new album, “The Golden Veil,” is most likely the best work I’ve ever heard by a local band, and is rivaling Ufomammut’s “Ecate” for my personal favorite album of the year. I realize that’s a pretty strong statement, but repeated listenings just make me more certain. MAKE is a band that I’ve been watching for several years now, and they’ve always had tremendous potential. By taking a year off, and honing their work as a trio, they’ve re-emerged with an ambitious and transcendent work that channels Neurosis, The Atlas Moth and Horseback.

The album begins with the sound of static and rushing wind, which gradually gives way to a gnawing drone and delicate acoustic guitar before sputtering out and into the next song. There’s a push-pull between natural and mechanic, delicate and crushing, and full and sparse throughout the song, and the album in general. The album takes sonic flight over a desert landscape with “Breathe.” Tribal drums introduce the song, followed by a lumbering bass, soaring guitar, and finally bellowed vocals. The aural terrain is more lush with “The Immortal,” which includes clean vocals and lyrics that would be a little too New Agey if the music wasn’t so compelling, then turns exotic on the instrumental “We Are Coiled.”

The next two tracks, “The Absurdist” (which can be heard here on The Obelisk) and “The Architect” mark the album’s peak, the point at which all these varying elements join together and launch into the psychedelic stratosphere. The final song, “In the Final Moments, Uncoiling,” rolls through sludgy, blackened territory before droning, vapor-like, away.

Listening to “The Golden Veil,” I kept thinking about Inter Arma’s “Sky Burial,” not really because of the sound (though the spiritual and emotional dynamics of both albums feel similarly to me), but because both albums marked a point where a really good band suddenly emerged from its chrysalis and announced its strength and beauty to the world. So, yeah. I wasn’t joking around. “The Golden Veil” really is that good.

“The Golden Veil,” will be released by the band on July 23. I don’t think they will be label-less for long.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Ufomammut and getting back in the saddle

Ufomammut - Stigma at Maryland Deathfest 2015 from Mann's World on Vimeo.

I mentioned in my previous post that I'm more excited about the blog these days, which is really strange because only a couple of months ago, I was seriously thinking about just doing one final post and ending the blog altogether. My inspiration, I do believe, was seeing Ufomammut at Maryland Deathfest on May 21.

Ufomammut was honestly the only reason I wanted to go to the Deathfest, and I was pretty peeved to find out that they were playing Kings the very next night. Why drive to Baltimore when I can just drive two miles from home and see them in a more intimate setting? Their show turned out to be so mind-bending that I seriously thought of scrapping the rest of the fest to drive back to Raleigh and see them two nights in a row. Part of me really wishes I had done that, but the rest of the fest turned out to be so much fun (including the best set I've ever seen by Inter Arma) that I'm ultimately glad I stayed.

The video above ("Stigma," the first song they played) was shot on my iPhone. It's incredibly dark, even after I bumped the lighting levels up in iMovie. But the audio is pretty good. One thing I have learned is to never try to zoom in while shooting video on the iPhone 6. For some reason the phone thinks you want to switch to slow motion. I spent the last two days trying to figure out how to revert out of slow motion, and finally succeeded, only to have the slow-mo reappear in the final three seconds of the song. If the visuals were better, I might have worked on it some more. As it stands, I just want to get this online as a testament to the best show I've seen in recent memory, one that's gotten my creative juices flowing in a way that they haven't in a long time.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Soon at Neptune's

I made a last minute decision to go see Soon at Neptune's on Wednesday, and I'm really glad I did. I haven't posted much since my mom died a year ago this week. I've been writing for, but that's really it. Recently, though, I've been hearing -- and seeing live -- some music that's gotten me excited again, so expect to see more action on the blog.

Soon, which is perhaps best known for being a new project featuring The Love Language's Stu McLamb, just might be my new favorite local band. You would be forgiven for questioning this project's heaviness. McLamb perfected beautiful, hazy harmonies both with The Love Language and his previous band, The Capulets, but he's never been known for writing heavy music. In fact, I've heard of certain local people saying they won't go see Soon because of who's in the band. That's pretty short-sighted because this band is plenty heavy -- thanks primarily to the powerful rhythm section of bass player Robert Walsh (from the supremely doomy Bitter Resolve) and drummer Thomas Simpson -- while retaining McLamb's signature harmonies. In fact,  it's that mix of heavy and poppy that makes Soon so listenable, especially when McLamb, Walsh and guitarist Mark Conner sing together. The result is a dark, and at times droney, Americana that should appeal to fans of Jex Thoth or True Widow. The next time they play, I recommend you go see them

Check out the video below. I don't know the name of the song. Will update as soon as I know.

Soon from Mann's World on Vimeo.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Vattnet Viskar -- "Settler"

Check out the review I wrote for Vattnet Viskar's latest, "Settler," on Heavy Metal. This is an incredibly ambitious and haunting album, and so far one of my favorites for the year. Check it out here.