Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Montibus Communtias and Ø+yn: Offerings For The Destroyer Review

Review of Offerings For The Destroyer, "the long-awaited collaboration between Peruvian psychedelic collective Montibus Communitas, and Argentina's premier improvisers Ø+yn" - Written by Daniel Sharman. 

{Read our interview with Anthony of Montibus Communitas here}

Released in: October 2013
Genre: Roots Psychedelia
Record Label: Sky Lantern Records
Medium: Digital download, Cassette
Recorded at: Live at Círculo Bar 

The first thing to note before anything is said about this record is that it is not your archetypal album in any stretch of the imagination. It is, more simply put, a somewhat insane, and abstract piece. To go into it with ears that expect conventionality is altogether misguided, and to a greater extent, prohibitive to a desired listening experience. 

Offerings for the Destroyer is most unlike some psychedelic LP's you may hear this year, and this particular aspect works most certainly to it's favour. The record consists of only a single song, or what should better be referred to as free-form jam, clocking in at 35:42. For some, this duration may seem slightly short, when compared to some other psychedelic offerings, but Offerings for the Destroyer, or to give the recording its actual name, Prepare the Bhang at Dawn, actual feels quite epic, and endless, in its length. Time melts away, and you are graced with a wholesome psychedelic atmosphere to surround yourself with, one which is notable for its ability to clear the mind of current issues, and ideas, and replace them instead with emotion, and feeling.

Recorded live, in the early hours of the morning, Offerings for the Destroyer adopts a totally fluid approach to instrumentation. The recording features no real editing, and certainly no overdubs or added effects like reverb, and this once again adds to the experience. If anything, it provides a real breath of fresh air in a psychedelic community that normally focus too heavily on effects, and sonic manipulation. Furthermore, the instrumentation being played is very intuitive, and the raw skill of both of the bands playing is clearly shown for all to see, never is the sound too abrasive, or the instruments being played to conflicting. 

However, it is worth noting that this is not a record that you can be quickly listened to off the cuff , or even digested in a single sitting. Offerings for the Destroyer offers a rich and immersive experience which will require multiple relistens before it can be fully appreciated, and is best enjoyed in a relaxed environment in which it can be heard in its entirety. 

Critic's Summary: If you are finding yourself pining for a more raw, and true, psychedelic experience day after day, Offerings for the Destroyer could very well be the perfect record for you. It's minimal editing, total lack of formality, and fluid instrumentation makes for a sonic delight that is not easily topped by its contemporaries. If in one of these hot, summer nights, you find yourself with a free half hour, do not hesitate to lay back, peel open a banana, and chow down on this seriously psychedelic, rootsy recording. 

Friday, 25 July 2014

Montibus Communitas Interview: Anthony talks recording, playing, gear, and more! (with 1 year anniversary post)

1 Year Anniversary Foreword

As if in the blink of an eye, Do You Even Psychedelic?'s first year has already come to pass. On this exact day, last year, the blog was officially launched with the posting of my first ever piece of released material - a band 'case file' on space rock quartet, Wooden Shjips. That post can be found here, and I feel that it still holds quite well, 365 days after its being published (although, it could do with some new formatting!). 

As the blog has developed, I've been presented with several astounding chances to not only review some brilliant albums, and material, but to also interview some of the most genuinely interesting people around in music today. Furthermore, I am pleased to say that things are only looking up from this point onwards; I've been fortunate enough to land interviews with bands such as Kikaguka Moyo, The Dunes, The Social End Products, The Night Collectors, Savage Blush, and many more artists! Additionally, I have many, hopefully exciting editorial pieces in the pipeline, that might just inspire something in you all, and help you all better make sense of this crazy world we're living in today. 

I would like to thank family, friends, all my reader's, Bear Peterson, Rebbeca Williams, Brayan, Anthony, Nikolas Rayne, Connor Gallagher, Bra Bea, Joshua Schultz, Klemen Breznikar, It's Psychedelic Baby! Magazine, Dave Cambridge and Cardinal Fuzz Records, Phil Dickson, the guys over at Guitarforums.com, Riley McBride, and anybody who did the little things to help the blog continue.

Dan: You don't hail from the usual locations of our interviewees, where is Montibus Communitas located?

Anthony: Here, there and everywhere.

Dan: The band has an unusual setup, a partly solo project, whilst also a partly collective project also. How does that dynamic work in terms of members of the band ?

Anthony: There’s definitely a kind of unprofessional/uncompromising/anarchist approach in the way that things are done, so there aren’t really members or something like that, people come and go. On gigs whoever will like to join us could do it, like on the gigs for the live album, in which some people asked us to play with us like 5 minutes before going on stage and they ended up on the record haha. It’s pretty chaotic, but it’s pretty nice too.
I think that uncompromising is the key word, because it’s been something that me or anyone else involved on this haven’t really pay attention, it was like a weird side project that ended up involving so many people that played and then moved on with their own projects, so I guess it’s just way too free, up to the point that I don’t really know what this is. Call it what you want. Then it’ll be yours, and you’ll be it. 

Dan: Your records seem to vary quite a bit from one to the next, for example: Harvest Times is great because it is just you creating the piece, but on a recording such as Offerings For The Destroyer there is large presence at work. How do you like the two setups when compared with one another?

Anthony: It’s all about the context. If it can be just me then it’ll be just me, if it can involve more people, then it’ll involve more people. I don’t like to force things too much, its better when they just happen, and that’s how most of this have happen so far.
When it’s just me, I tend to approach it like if I’d jam with myself in different dimensions, so I go to the drums, jam out some cool beats, then I pick the bass and I jam over the recorded drums, and so on with the rest of the instruments, so I don’t really know where I’m going, and that’s kind the fun part, and that’s why the songs have a kind of free flow jam vibe.

Dan: What sort of equipment are you usually using for guitars on your records?

Anthony: For the first album I used an epiphone casino, for the second one I used an unbranded acoustic guitar from my cousin, a really cheap and extremely shitty one, that sounds like it would have some sort of distorsion built inside haha, but I just love it, it sounds really raw. For the live album

I used the casino, a 2nd hand walden acoustic guitar and one that I borrowed from one of the bands that played that night, can’t remember the brand, but It was a sort of stratocaster imitation.

For Harvest Times I only used a cheap Peruvian handmade guitar, an extremely cheap and shitty one. It was the first electric guitar I ever had, and I used to think it was sooo shitty until one day, while I was cleaning my room, I found it over the closet. Dunno why I grabbed it, I plugged it in and voila! It turned out that it had a really nice 60’s sound, like those cheap teisco/guyatone guitars that some bands used to have back in the 60’s, so I just bought some new strings and started recording with it. Guitarists here hate that guitar, I haven’t seen not even one band playing with those cheap Peruvian (or national, as we call them here) guitars, so I guess that’s a good sign haha.

Dan: And amps, and effects?

Anthony: I use a Line 6 combo amp (I live on a department, so I can’t make too much noise), which again, most of the people I know hate those amps, but I just love them haha.  It has a really nice saturation that sometimes reminds me of the Bo Anders Persson’s guitar sound on Pärson Sound’s 10 minutes, pretty crunchy but still comprehensible. About effects, I usually use the ones built inside the amp (like sweep echo and chorus) but I also used a cheap Digitech that has some really crazy sounds, like some sort of weird wah wah sounds that reproduce what you’re playing backwards, some really nice vibratos, etc. I recently got an analog guyatone tape-echo , which was gifted to me by one of the coolest dude I’ve ever met, Daoud, the guitarist of Kikagaku Moyo, while he was in Lima. I still need to get it fix, but I’m sure it’ll sound amazing on the new albums for sure. Don’t Daoud it.

Dan: How about other instruments? From listening to Harvest Times I could tell you are obviously a man with a range of instruments at his fingertips.

Anthony: About instruments, I’m kind a maniac for instruments, so I keep buying weird stuff that I don’t know how to play but I just fool around with it until it sounds nice to me, so you might find some stuff like charango, quena, zampoña, andean bass drum, chacchas, organ, toy pan flutes, donkey jaw, tambourine, electric tampura, tampura quilmeña, bongos, wiro, rain stick, didgeridoo, andean harp, synths, traverse flute, etc. There are also some sounds on harvest times that are made with my hands, a sort of flute/birds sounds made by blowing my hands. Also, some percussive sounds were made in a similar way.

Dan: And how do you usually create your albums in terms of writing, and collaboration with other artists in the collective? I read that you write as you interpret your music.

Anthony: I think there’s no writing process. It’s more like a flow of ideas, I don’t really think on what I’m going to record, I just go on with the guitar or the drums or whatever is that I’m playing at the moment, and, as I keep recording, suddenly the songs start to dictate me what to do, what notes I should play, which instruments I should add. When it’s collaboration with other people, we just jam out and see what happens. That’s how most of the stuff has been coming out.

Dan: Going back to Harvest Times, and other such albums, how does the recording get carried out, and differ between records? Is it hard to capture a live sound well?

Anthony: It’s all pretty unprofessional, and I just love to do things that way haha. It’s all mostly done on a small room  that serves as a dining room, library, study room, party room and, just sometimes, recording studio. I have all my instruments there and some microphones, so I just try to make things work within that small room of the size of a bathroom haha. It’s easier when it’s just me, but when there are other persons, we try to make everybody fit on the room to play whatever they’re playing at the moment. If there are too many people then we move the mics and the instruments to the living room.

About the recordings, I mostly try to capture the room rather than each instrument. I like that kind of ambient feeling on recordings. I like when I can feel the space in which people are playing.  When I record alone is quite easier up to some point, because you can go crazy with the options that you have now with technology for mixing audio, and that’s when things can go pretty fucked up. When recording with other people live it may look like harder to capture the ‘’live’’ sound, but when you got it, it’s like the live feeling speaks for itself. I can’t really get to make that much mixing game since I don’t really record each instrument, so when I get a nice volume for everything, that will be pretty much it. So yeah, both ways are tricky in their own way, but both ways are pretty fun. I have tons of fun while trying to figure out how to make the recordings work.

Dan: Obviously being from Peru you are going to have some alternative influences to our usual interviewees too, what are some of them?

Anthony: There’s definitely lots of folk music going on in Peru. I actually like peruvian folk musicians like Pastorita Huaracina and Jaime Guardia, also bands like Los Hijos de Lamas. Somehow you can hear those influences on Harvest Times. Besides that, I guess I’m more open to any kind of band of any kind of genre; I don’t really have a strict musical taste, so I listen to all kinds of things like afrobeat, Mongolian folk music, ambient/new age, classical music, classical indian music, japanse folk music, Tibetan throat singing, tribal/percussive music, drone, etc. I like to keep listen new stuff, especially music that I haven’t heard yet, cause’ that’s when I feel more inspired to push my own mental boundaries into territories that I haven’t explored yet and I can get to explore and add new elements to my music.

Dan: And what is your favourite, current band putting out music right now?

Anthony: There are so many cool bands right now! I feel really honoured of being part of amazing record labels like Beyond Beyond is Beyond, Trouble in Mind, Cosmic Eye, Sky Lantern, Inner Islands, Reverb Worship, etc. because they’re releasing some of the most amazing music right now. Lots of bands I’ve discovered lately has been because of those labels, like Krakatau, Kikagaku Moyo, The Myrrors, Queen Elephantine, Stag Hare, Ashan, Our Solar System, etc.

Dan: Lastly, What's next for Montibus Communitas, any new albums upon the horizon?

Anthony: On September 29th, the US record label will be releasing the new album ‘’The Pilgrim To The Absolute’’, a conceptual album based on a book I wrote some time ago. It’s probably one of the most far out records I’ve produced in terms of sculpt songs and sounds under a pretty define concept and vibe. Trippy is key word haha.  It’ll be released on LP and CD. You can check the 
BBIB web page for more information: http://beyondbeyondisbeyond.com/

Besides that, there’s some more stuff going on, like some recordings with Kikagaku Moyo’s Daoud, a split with a cool psych band that you’ve already interviewed [Check that out here] and some more recordings I’ve been making during this year. Then I’ll keep recording as usually, so the music is there. Nothing concrete in terms of releases, but we’ll see.
Do You Even Psychedelic? would like to thank Anthony for taking the time out to do this interview.

You can find the full Montibus Communitas Discography here.

Also, make sure to like the band's Facebook to stay up to date, that page can be found here.

Foreword written, and interview conducted, by Daniel Sharman.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Roots Psychedelia: There's More to Psychedelic Music Than Sounding Like The Black Angels (Editorial)

In my recent interview with Nik Rayne of Sky Lantern Records, we spoke of the label's response to current psychedelia as a whole, and touched upon what is happening in the modern psychedelic scene - "in some ways [the label was] a specific response to what I've seen happening in the field of contemporary psychedelia, which is an extraordinary general collapse into banality". Now whilst I don't totally agree with this analysis, the current scene including many thousands of acts, all with a slightly different take on what it means to be a 'psychedelic band', Nik's comment did get me thinking about what it means to sound generally psychedelic.

Nowadays, depending on the school of thought you subscribe to, an opinion of what classifies something as 'psychedelic' could vary quite massively from person to person. My understanding is that originally what classified something as 'psychedelic' was more easily identifiable - if you were to produce something weird that didn't sound like the general rock music of the day, it was considered unconventional, and that unconventionality was (or thought to be) brought about by the use of psychedelic substances, such as LSD (hence the term 'Psychedelic music' was derived).

However, as the years have progressed, and the psychedelic scene has both flourished, and fallen into disrepair at certain points, the definition of 'psychedelic music' has become considerably hazier. Some feel that to be psychedelic means the same as it always has 'someone who indulges in psychedelic, and other hallucinogenic drugs, and then creates music of this' -  a band like the Brian Jonestown Massacre would fall into this definition, the band's leader, Anton Newcombe, often citing his use of illegal substances in the creation of the band's albums. In contrast though, some feel that psychedelic drugs actually have little to do with the music itself, and that the music is the drug - A psychedelic state can be brought about by certain sonic qualities in the music itself, and can (but, not necessarily) render the need for often illegal, and sometimes dangerous, drugs useless. For example: a band whom have advocated this in certain interview include the psychedelic statesman themselves, The Black Angels. 

Whilst there are other schools of thought about, (please feel free to comment your own opinion in the section below, or on Facebook's comment section) these are the two main ones I have heard of. I myself fall into the latter category, tending to see the creation of psychedelic music as a resource that any one can enjoy, no matter whom they are, without the necessary need for additional substances. This definition can as a result encompass a much larger range of music, due to the fact that the music itself then becomes a personal experience, and not a set of followed rules in it's creation. In a sense, most music created with the idea of helping the listener transcend into a metaphysical state (essentially experiencing a theme or motif as delivered by the vehicle of sound) can be considered 'psychedelic'.  

So to get the crux of the matter, bearing all this previous information in mind, I feel I understand the malaise Nik feels at the some of the things happening in the current psychedelic scene. I good deal of band's trying to enter the world of modern psychedelia seem to feel like there is a 'right' and a 'wrong' way to make psychedelic music. Many seem to believe to sound like a good psychedelic band you need to turn the reverb up, put on as much delay as possible, and light up a joint and write down whatever nonsensical gibberish comes to mind.  Although none of the techniques are at all 'unpsychedelic', this way of approaching the music misses the point of psychedelic music, and lacks creativity, and understanding. 

Psychedelic music does not need any of the aforementioned to be credible, or considered 'good', it is all about the experience. Innovation, and a desire to work outside the box, is needed if you truly wish to connect with the listener and make them feel the feelings you desire for them to feel. Inevitable stagnation and decline lies ahead of us on the road to psychedelia if we do not reconnect with the core principles of the art form. It is an abstract thought, and tool of communication, and as such, cannot be approached with an underlying sense of conventionality. 

Going back to the original point, I chose to name this post 'Roots Psychedelia' because it is one of the shining examples of how unconventionality is the key tool in the psychedelic musicians bag. Artists such as Montibus Communitas, Kikagaku Moyo, and Sheldon Siegel, offer an incredible example of how many pivotal elements of what may be considered the most 'far-out' psychedelic bands by some can actually be totally unneeded (not to say they are universally redundant, though) - e.g: Reverberated electric guitars, Farsifa organs, ect. 

To conclude, to prevent banality in the modern psychedelia, listeners and musicians alike need to realise that psychedelic music isn't a specific sound that can just be tapped into with a set of key elements. It is an abstract concept that anyone can create.  Any person, or set of people, can only be truly psychedelic in the music they create if they realise this. To embrace psychedelia is to want to convey an experience, and put most simply, to share with another a communication of honesty, innovation, and truth. 

Do You Even Psychedelic would like to thank you for being with us this evening, we hope that in some small way we gave been able to add to your pleasure, comfort, and relaxation. 

Picture credit: Montibus Communitas - Pilgrim to the Absolute (album cover)

Written by Daniel Sharman on 20/7/2014.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Sky Lantern Records Interview with Nik Rayne!

Earlier this year Nikolas Rayne, of the Myrrors fame (see our earlier interview with Nik about the Myrrors here), opened a new, independent called Sky Lantern Records. This new label aims to seek out the most rootsy, and raw, psychedelia currently around. Some of the current acts out on the Sky Lantern roster are folk-collective, Montibus Communitas, Japanese psych-rock outfit, Kikagaku Moyo, and Swedish garage band Centralstödet. More fantastic bands are promised to be sourced, so make sure to like the Facebook page as soon as possible to keep up to date, and to check the label's Soundcloud, and Bandcamp, pages too, so you don't miss any new pieces when they go up.


Dan: Most people know you from your band the Myrrors, but now you've started 
your own label, Sky Lantern Records. When did it begin, and why did you choose to start a label?

Nik: I started Sky Lantern earlier this year pretty spontaneously, though the idea had been in the back of my mind for several years. I'm a pretty intensive music listener, and it has always seemed as though I was discovering these little gems of music buried beneath the weight of a capitalist music industry. There are so many wonderful artists at work around the world who rarely get heard because their music does not operate on anyone else's terms.

As far as the label becoming what it did, it was in some ways a specific response to what I've seen happening in the field of contemporary psychedelia, which is an extraordinary general collapse into banality.

Dan: The label seems to be slanted towards a desert-like, almost wild sound, putting out bands with very instrumental and fluid styles. Does the label have any specific aim with the music it chooses to release?

Nik: The other day I was joking with Brayan from Montibus [Communitas] that we're starting a new movement: the New Organic Music Society, or “environmental psychedelia.” Perhaps more than anything, the music I gravitate towards is that which exudes an honest, natural spirit. That isn't to say I prefer acoustic music - Centralstödet is a good example of how a heavy, electric ensemble can tap into something raw and earthy. Honesty and improvisation, I think, play a good part in that, as does a musician's ability to function as a concentrated reflection of their natural environment.

Dan: How do you find bands for the music you release?

Nik: The internet is, of course, an invaluable resource, especially when it comes to discovering low-profile international artists. A lot of the musicians I have been in contact with, however, have actually been directed to me by other artists!

Dan: How does the collaboration between the label and band usually work?

Nik: It's a back and forth process, though Sky Lantern is a pretty hands-off label when It comes the music we release. As per the old ESP-Disk philosophy, “the artists alone decide what you will hear.”

Dan: All your current releases have a very distinct, 'collect-them-all' art style, who does the designs for the records?

Nik: I'm a big fan of labels with a distinct identity to them, from early free jazz labels like BYG Actuel and ESP-Disk to contemporaries like Sloow Tapes. As such, I knew when I started Sky Lantern that I wanted to create an immediate artistic statement that would carry that tradition while also emphasizing the organic roots that I mentioned earlier. All four of our first tapes were drawn and designed by myself in collaboration with the artists, though for our forthcoming batch the artists have come up with some of their own illustrations in the same spirit.

Dan: When it comes to the perfect medium...Cassette, vinyl, or CD, and why?

Nik: Vinyl, but it's expensive. Presuming that the label manages to get its economic feet off the ground in the near future, I absolutely plan to move in that direction, but as it stands I'm operating on a pretty non-existent budget, and for those purposes I've stuck to releasing tapes. Not only does the format allow me to release a variety of albums in small runs, but it is also very affordable for fans. Six dollars is even cheaper than most digital albums are priced, and there is a free download of each Sky Lantern tape included in the purchase! Even if you don't have a cassette deck then you at least get something physical to go along with the music tucked away on your hard drive.

Dan: As a man who puts out records, you must have some of your own, what are some of your most prized record possessions?

Nik: Man, that's a tough one really. I've never been a collector in the sense that I buy expensive or rare records, I don't have nearly enough money to throw down that way. A few albums that I do prize highly, for a variety of reasons (most tied to assorted memories and times in my life), would be a copy of Quilapayún and Víctor Jara's Canciones Folklóricas de América, a beautifully illustrated compilation of Moroccan Sufi music, a played-to-death Jazz Composer's Orchestra box set, and an original thrift-store copy of Captain Beefheart's first 45, Moonchild.

Dan: Do you have advice for prospective label entrepreneurs?

Nik: I'm not sure I've been in the game long enough to go around offering advice, but I suppose we could go with: be true to the music you love, trust the artists to do what they do, and by no means get into the game with money on the mind. You are there for the musicians, not the other way around!

Dan: Lastly, are there any shout outs you'd like to make?

Nik: Much love to all of the artists that have contributed their time and music, and endless thanks to all of the folks who have bought tapes! Obviously this label wouldn't exist without them, and their support and encouragement has made this little project of mine a real joy so far.


Like the Sky Lantern Records on Facebook here.
Check out the label's full catalogue here.
The label's Soundcloud page can also be found here.

Do You Even Psychedelic? would like to thank Nik for taking the time out to complete this interview.

Interview conducted by Daniel Sharman