So, that thing I was saying the other day, about seeming like a proper fanboy. Well, I must seem like a PR plant for Valerio Cosi sometimes. Or, at least I would if Soundbergs had a following.
Here Valerio collaborates with Brad Rose, something that took longer than a decade to bear fruit. It is a truly sturdy resulting flower of music, as eclectic as I’ve come to expect, and as difficult to describe. (Cue rambling old man rant about how music shouldn’t be described because it can’t be described, just experienced).
Acid rock. Space rock. Stoner rock. Psych rock. All of those tags contain words which have more or less descriptive value when applied to music. It’s an imperfect system, but for all that I slag it off, I have yet to come up with a better one. Well, apart from giving a direct method to listen yourselves and thus make up your own mind.
Giöbia hail from Milano in Italy and are named after an ancient pagan festivity from Northern Italy in which a straw witch is burnt as an offering to the forces of nature – must have post-dated the arrival of patriarchy, then, unless the specifics have changed over the years regarding the sacrificial victim.
Musically, they can be summed up using the opening salvo of descriptions. They can also be compared to a collision between White Hills and Dead Meadow, with a hint of Electric Moon – though I may just be saying the latter because their albums come out via Sulatron Records. They themselves also quote an influence from 70s Italian progressive, not an area I’m familiar with so I shall take their word for it.
So I went to see The Myrrors last night at Duffy’s Bar, a very enjoyable night which reminded me I hadn’t flagged to the world that I love Arena Negra, their album from earlier this year. So this post is really to rectify that. But anywho, whilst there I was talking to my long time friend in musical explorations about how I rarely dive into a bands back catalogue now, unlike when I was younger and tended to go full completist on everything (there are a couple of current exceptions – guess who? and well, obviously).
On the strength of last nights wonderful music, I am therefore going to give all of these things a listen. Those of you unfamiliar with The Myrrors would do well to check out the embedded album below, for I love it very much. These are one of a few bands who are noticeably beginning to channel the wonderful Parson Sound (another being the awesome Les Sorciers du Theil), a band who history will soon regard as the true godfathers of psychedelic rock. I’m going to dedicate a post to Parson Sound soon, actually.
But they do very much their own thing. You can hear the desert in their music, so much space is there (I find the same thing with many of the desert blues acts of North Africa, particularly Tinariwen). There is also a hint of tribal rhythms, and I could easily imagine listening / jamming to this round an actual campfire, probably in the desert (the only desert I’ve seen or been to is the one in Australia; admittedly it’s not a small one, although technically it might actually be an ‘outback’). Don’t know what we’d use for electricity, though. Maybe we could plug into a salamander? I’ve heard those things have juice.
It’s because I love you so much that I’m going to tell you about Circle AND Pharoah Overlord.
I know it quite beggars the belief, but it seems that Circle are not known by absolutely everybody. To try and go reductionist on this mighty entity, they are from Finland, have been releasing albums since 1994, and have more album releases than I can hope to keep up with. To try and describe their style is beyond impossible as it has shifted so regularly over the years, but things they have generally kept in common are repetition, hypnotism and experimentalism in their avant-stoner-psych-prog rock. Having said that, they have done the odd full ambient thing, and the odd full on noise thing. I think if you tried to explain the concept of a boundary to them, they would look at you quite non-plussed. And then they’d probably laugh at you, in Finnish.
Not happy with doing all of the above on a very regular basis, they have several offshoots too. One of them is Pharoah Overlord, who have been putting out albums since around 2001. Much more instrumentally focussed and much more minimalistic in their approach (essentially the repetition of a riff for 10 minutes at a time), they ultimately take you to a similar place as their parent band.
This year, Circle have released ‘Pharoah Overlord’ and Pharoah Overlord have released ‘Circle.’ Some people find this confusing. Personally, I wonder why they didn’t do it sooner. Seems perfectly logical to me.
It is my pleasure and joy to have bought both these albums, although I was unable to find them through my digital outlets again and had to send off for the CDs (unlike when I did this with Thee Oh Sees, I haven’t since found their digital stockist of choice). Maybe those of you who do subscriptions for your digital music will have better luck but I don’t do that sort of thing. Or maybe you want the CD or vinyl anyway.
And you should want them. They are both mighty, they both do what both bands are so good at, they both sit completely in place in their respective bands catalogues without sounding like anything else within them. I probably slightly prefer the album by Pharoah Overlord because it reminds me of Circle circa the Rautatie era, but its early days on both albums and the mileage I generally get from their releases can last for years.
I think I might have given you a preview here but here’s another one: https://soundcloud.com/ektrorecords/circle-kavelen-luiden-paalla
I was reminded of this being out when I got the fantastic news that Hey Colossus have another new album out this year, and the tune they had on preview reminded me more than anything of ‘classic’ Circle. (yes that was a shameless excuse to plug Hey Colossus again. Check out this video of them playing ‘Hey, Dead Eyes, Up!‘)
Bit obvious, really. To be honest, I was secretly hoping it was going to be a bit of a letdown… no chance.
It does take some listening, though. Even taking off the 38-minute bonus live recording that I got for pre-ordering, it will account for a large portion of your evening, assuming you want to listen to the whole thing in one go.
Interesting aside: I don’t have a vinyl player nor the means or practicalities for getting one. If I did, I would certainly consider buying the vinyl, and then I would probably be happier to play the album in chunks. Has anyone else found that whereas they used to happily play one side of a vinyl album, they now think that they have to play the full tracklisting when it’s on CD or MP3?
Back to the album: it is relentlessly ambitious, the sheer range of music contained therein is enormous; everything from Albert Ayler style free jazz to harsh noise, industrial beats, dubby breakdowns… oh, and the occasional blast of psych-rock too!
That 38-minute bonus track? It’s actually my favourite thing on there. It’s not the only piece on the album to make me think of my own personal favourite jazzy artist (Valerio Cosi, if you haven’t been paying attention) but remind me of him it does.
and any band who call one of their best, most epicest tracks ‘White Priveleged Wank‘ have to have your respect. They certainly have mine.
This album is so good it might even challenge the awesomeHey Colossus for best release of the year (I said ‘might…’).