Friday, 26 September 2014

The Night Collectors Interview with Connor Gallagher and Jeff Lownsbury!!

All hail the sinister groove, and the propagators of the reinstatement of unbridled, dust-induced human savagery. Or something like that. Prepare to delve into the minds of one of Arizona's best new, up-and-coming desert psychedelia acts, The Night Collectors. Currently, the band's discography boasts several extended instrumental jams which, if indicative of what is to come, make me incredibly pleased to offer an insight into the development of this fantastic rock quintet. - Interview conducted by Daniel Sharman.

Dan: You guys are based in Tuscon, Arizona. How many of you are in the band, and how did you meet?

Jeff: There are five of us and room for one (for now) honorary member--we're really all huge jazz fans and prefer to keep our group open to unique sessions. We've all been friends for years and have played together extensively. I met Connor Gallaher (guitar/ vocals) in 2008 outside of the venue formerly known as Plush. We were both watching and listening to a muffled Silver Jews set. I had snuck in and gotten kicked out, he was just calmly watching from the street. I met Casey Golden (drums) through the skateboarding scene and we've been buddies for years now. I met Adan Martinez-Kee through some painterly friends when I first moved to Tucson seven years ago. He's really into cinematography and we became great friends gradually as we found out we had a lot of mutual friends. I met John Bullock through some skateboarding friends in 2009, he was playing with Connor and some of our friends in a group called Via Entrada that was going through a break-up (this band would later become Dream Sick) at the time. Connor, Casey, and Adan play with me in another group called Secret Highway Secrets... but that's another story...

Dan: Your sound is psychedelic, rock, blues, jazz, avant garde, ect. What are some of your influences? 

Connor: A big influence is Les Rallizes Denudes (Hadaka no Rallizes), also where we got our name. Jeff and I actually started the band as a Les Rallizes Denudes cover band originally.

Dan: I hear a lot of John Cipollina and Michio Kurihara in your guitar playing, I'm guessing those guys influence you in one way or another?

Connor: Yeah, totally! Ray Russell is another big one. He played with Bill Fay, and he also did a bunch of jazz and free jazz stuff. Loren Connors is also a huge influence for me (Ray Russel - Bill Fay - )

Dan: Those two fellas are quite a bit more avant garde than Cipollina and Kurihara. The Night Collectors boast some lovely gear rigs, would you say you get your influence for tone from those guys?

Connor: I guess, a lot from those guys, and then just experimenting with sound. Playing pedal steel has definitely influenced my guitar playing and vice versa.

Dan: I'm not familiar with pedal steel playing myself, how does that inspire you with your guitar work?

Connor: I guess mostly in terms of feel. Also there's the volume pedal too. I listen to a lot steel guitar music which influences my steel playing as well as my guitar playing.

Dan: Sweet, will we hear any pedal steel on any later Night Collectors recordings?

Connor: I hope so at some point.

Dan: This is a bit of a stranger question, but how do you feel about special effects being used in psychedelic music? I mean you guys play damn well with your effects, but some guys just let the effects do the work for them.

Connor: Ahh... Yes, I don't know I guess it can be cool sometimes, but yeah there's definitely things that can get overused.  A lot of bands today seem to just drench everything in delay and reverb thus making their music "psychedelic". I think effects are great as a way of adding colour, though. 

Dan: Your latest record, Voice of the cicada, gives the impression that your instrumentation is somewhat planned, but also fluid and free-moving. How do you normally go about writing a Night Collectors song?

Connor: We definitely work a lot off of improvisation. Our track Maybe Tomorrow was a completely improvised piece that just happened at the beginning of a prectice. With a lot of our stuff we kind of start out with a basic idea and move from that. We also have some songs now that have a more traditional structure. We definitely find a lot ideas from just jamming.

Dan: The guitar playing on the recordings is a big part of the sound, what guitars have you been playing through?

Connor: My main guitar is a Gibson SG3 with a Bigsby. I also play a Fender Stratocaster XII occasionally. Jeff plays a telecaster and John and Adan play an Epiphone SG bass. 

Dan: How about amps, and effects? 

Connor: We only play through AIMS amplifiers, they were a company out Phoenix, Arizona that only lasted a few years in the early 70's. I play through the Eclipsor which is 4x12 stack. Jeff uses the Dual Twelve which is a 2x12 combo and the bass goes through the Vocalsonic IV which is a PA that has two 4x10 towers. All of them have the same tube setup and are around 120watts. They're basically high powered twin reverbs. Sometimes Jeff plays through a Fender Super Reverb if the Dual Twelve AIMS is on the fritz. My pedalboard mostly consists of lots of FUZZ! I use a rotating cast of different fuzz pedals. Pedals that are always on my board are a Wattson FY-6 which is a Shin-ei SuperFuzz remake, a Sarno Earth Drive, Zvex Super Duper, a Vox wah wah, Fulltone Deja Vibe and a Space echo pedal.

Dan: Any comments on additional instruments, playing or otherwise?

Connor: Some of the saxophone playing on Voice of the Cicada seems to have roots in traditional free-jazz. Mostly just guitars and the sax for now, but maybe more in the future. As I said, I also play pedal steel guitar and definitely want to incorporate that in at some point. Yes, there is definitely roots in free jazz.

Dan:How were all these instruments recorded (by that meaning how was the song recorded in general)?

Connor: All the recordings that are up on our Bandcamp were recorded live on my phone and then mixed in Garageband or Logic.

Dan: A question about the latest recording itself (correct at time of interview). What was the importance of the cicada to the track itself?

Connor: In the Sonoran Desert, for months every year there are cicadas that hang out in the mesquite trees and buzz incessantly. The polyphony of thousands of cicadas buzzing at the same time can be likened to mind-melting drone music. The cicada, like a lot of insects, is a sort of pan-cultural symbol; they live on almost every continent and are a natural constant reminder of the power of vibrations.

Dan: Additionally, living in an arid climate such as Arizona, how would say the desert atmosphere shapes your, and other bands, distinct sound?

Connor: I think it definitely has a big effect. Being here in the summer is rough. The heat will definitely take a number on you. With that I think a lot of bands from here have a certain hallucinatory aspect to their sound.

Dan: What's next for the night collectors?

Connor: I'm not sure right now, we're kind in a state of reconfiguration. Two of the guys are really busy with school, but we have a couple shows coming up so hopefully we'll be able to work on some new stuff. We have some recordings from the beginning of the summer that we need to mix and finish.  We also want to record more because we've changed a little bit since then. We also want to tour as soon as possible!

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

Make sure to check out the band's music here, all on free download. 

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

Monday, 22 September 2014

Social End Products: Nutre Tu Cabeza Review

Hard-hitting spook-psych from the heart of Greece, Social End Products return with a strong début LP after their 2011 EP-release, Ego Trip. - Review written by Daniel Sharman.

Released in: 2 May 2013
Genre: Garage-Surf Psychedelia/Acid Punk
Record Label: Radar Eye Records
Medium: Digital download, Vinyl LP
Recorded at: Feedback Studios

Recently, I was fortunate to be sent vinyl copies of both of Social End Products' record releases, Nutre Tu Cabeza and Ego Trip. After giving Nutre Tu Cabeza several listens, I thought I would share my thought's on the record for the whole world to see, and to try and give this record the love it deserves!

The whole of Nutre Tu Cabeza has a consistently relaxed-but-taught vibe, striking the perfect balance between the sinister edge of classic, spooky psychedelia and upbeat, far-out funk trippery. Boasting a track listing of 14 songs, Nutre Tu Cabeza clocks in at around 30 minutes, each song being a short psychedelic burst of about 2:30 minutes.

The LP makes good use of its combination of a large number of tracks and short song durations, demonstrating the band's ability to express different musical nuances within their own developed sound. Throughout the record you can hear influences form genres such as garage, surf, psychedelic rock, acid punk, folk, country, and more. 

Sonically-speaking, Jangling Vox guitar rhythms and blown-out fuzz leads litter the landscape of each track, giving Social End Products a distinctly...European-psych sound. It is this mix of garage, low-fidelity instrumentation with a sheer love of, and conviction, in what they are preforming that gives European bands like the Social End Products an authenticity that I think can sometimes be lacking in contemporary American psychedelia. 

Each track deals most typically in acidic and sombre lyrical territories: deserts, strangeness, women, ect. Like most garage rock, this lack of lyrical innovation actually adds to the listening experience, as the experience in and of itself is made much easier to digest and get engaged with thanks to this aforementioned simplicity. This ease of engagement is also certainly aided by the groovy basslines which thump through the tracks, and the high-octane drum beats which pulse behind most of the tracks (providing the previously-mentioned half- upbeat skew of the record). 

Tracks like 'I'm Strange' and 'Slit Your Wrist' take the listener in one direction with slicing reverberated leads, but then change direction when the basslines and backing rhythm guitars elevate the tracks onto other levels of energy that can't help but make you tap your foot and shake your head in time to the groove and beat. Tracks like 'Wrong Side of the Track' change pace a little, but still remain with the ballpark of the rest of Social End Products work. 

Furthermore, throughout Nutre Tu Cabeza you can hear the influence of surf greats like Dick Dale, The Ventures, and Link Wray; garage legends like The Seeds, and (early) Jefferson Airplane; and many other classically far-out sources such as 1970's psych-prog rock, ect. That is to say, if you like any of the bands I just mentioned, this could be a damn solid record for you.

Critic's Comment: The main success of this album is its ability to lock into that metaphysical 'groove', which is so often associated with psychedelia, and stay with it for damn near 14 short-but-sweet tracks. If you find yourself at an ends this week, or weekend, whilst searching for a record to put on as you drink your coffee, I highly recommend Nutre Tu Cabeza to aid in your invigoration. Heck, if you can, buy the damn vinyl - it's just one of those listens that demands the physical medium.

Find the album here for download AND vinyl purchase here.

Make sure to like the band's Facebook page here, as I am led to believe they are soon to have new recordings being released...

Friday, 19 September 2014

Os Noctàmbulos Interview!!

Picking up where The Seeds left off in 1969, Os Noctàmbulos deliver all the grit, punch and charm of the archetypal surf-garage band. Edgy and morose when required, explosive and aggressive when expected, these guys are delivering some seriously lo-fi, garage gold and we have had the delight of catching up with frontman Nick to discuss their latest record, Corsica Garden, in a little more depth. - Interview conducted by Daniel Sharman.

Dan: Finally a band from France! So happy to see some Franco-psychedeliaists! Can you tell us a bit more about where you come from and who is in the band?

Nick: Hi, we have Coline (Bass) and Valentin (Lead Guitar) who both come Le Mans (Fr) but now live in Paris and used to play in an amazing surf band called Elvis... Baldo, (Drums) who is a true Parisian via Corsica. He has played in too many garage bands to mention and is also a great artist, you can see his artwork on the front cover of french band Frustation records. And I (Nick/Vox) come from Sheffield in England but we all live in Paris now.

Dan: Os Noctàmbulos is a great name, how do you pronounce that? And where does it originate from?

Nick: Thanks! Well, I think i've been pronoucing it wrong for the last year and a half so I don't think i'm the best person to ask. The name comes from a James Ellroy book, L.A. Confidential. There is a bar that features heavily in the story called The Night Owl, so I wanted to call the band The Night Owls but found that name had already been used., I looked for a translation and found that Noctambulos means The Night Owls/The Night Walkers in Spanish. Then we decided to put Os (Portugeuse) instead of Los so the name probably makes no sense at all.

Dan: Obviously the surf, garage, proto-psych angle of the band makes me think The Seeds (whom I love). Who are some of your other influences? I think I heard some Dick Dale on 'Polly'.

Nick: Yeah I love The Seeds, The Haunted, Golden Dawn, 13th Floor Elevators, Ultimate Spinich, Gram Parsons, The Flying Buritto Brothers, Gene Clark, The Byrds, Sly & The Family Stone, Reigning Sound, The Gories, Movie Star Junkies, The Felice Brothers, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Charlatans...but the main influences for me are Gene Clark and Greg Cartwight (Reigning Sound, Compulsive Gamblers, Oblivions) there songwriting had a massive effect on me. Valentin is definetly influenced by the surf guitar greats like Dick Dale but also George Harrison, Link Wray and The Sonics as well as current bands like Black Lips, King Khan, Ty Segall & Thee Oh Sees. I always hear a great soul influence in Coline's bass playing and she loves 60's/70's soul and garage compilations like Nuggets & the Back From the Grave series. Baldo's influences span the whole musical spectrum and he just understands what makes a song work from the base up. His drumming is one of the most melodic parts of our band, when I was mixing our record I could just listen to the drum parts and it sounded like a melody all on its own, crazy drumming.

Dan: Also, are there any specific French bands that influence you?

Nick: Not specifically, there were a few of the older artists like Jacques Dutronc & Serge Gainsbourg that I already liked a few songs of but I need to dig a little deeper into their back catalouges. But there is great music coming from here at the moment: The Liminanas, Magnetix, Cheveu, The Feeling Of Love, TITS, White Ass, Pierre & Bastien, Dusty Mush, Pain Dimension, Miles Coombes, Les Massey Ferguson Memorial, Les Punaises, Les Moonshiners, Sudden Death Of Stars, Forever finally feels as though the french scene has stopped trying to copy English & American popular music and there is a real original  sound to the newer groups, the shackles are off here and the music is only going to get weirder and more expensive. It's a great time to live here.

Dan: Most refreshingly, Os Noctàmbulos writes short, punchy psych gems, unlike most contemporary psych bands. Is this done on purpose, and how does the band go about writing?

Nick: I've always loved pop music in whatever style and will continue to try and write the perfect pop song, it's all about the melody for me. I love some drone/psych bands, Hookworms & The Cosmic Dead really nail that sound but never forget the melody, but that jam music style is something that has never come easy to me due to my limited playing abilities.  We don't purposely write short songs though, If a song sounds better with a structure that lasts 2 minutes that's how long it will last, if it sounds better 7 minutes long then we'll work to that structure. We'll strip away any parts that drag the dynamics of a song down.

Valentin and I usually work on the structure of the songs together before taking them to the band. We only have a very limited time a week to practice so we really need to know what we're doing beforehand as rehearsal rooms here are so expensive. Then Coline and Baldo add their parts and we rework the structure until we're happy with it.

Dan: Surf tones are hard to nail as well as they are on this record, what were some of the guitars used on Corsica Garden?

Nick: Valetin plays a Fender Telecaster, I recorded the rhythm with a Squire Jagmaster and Coline plays a Fender Mustang Bass.

Dan: What about amps, and effects?

Nick: We really should be sponsered by Fender. Valentin plays through Baldo's 60's Fender Twin Reverb, the best reverb sound i've ever heard. He doesn't use any pedals, just the amp reverb. I use a Holy Grail Reverb pedal through a 70's Carlsbrough Hornet amp, a true Sheffield brand. Again, Coline recorded through a Fender Bass amp. We'll definitely be expanding our sound on our 2nd album with more tremolo and fuzz. Fellow psych & garage bands always look at us funny when they see we only use one pedal when we play live, Valentin manages to get a range of different sounds just from the way he plays.

Dan: How about other instruments such as the great Farsifa-sounding organ heard on some tracks?

Nick: I used a Hammond B200 organ I picked up for £70 when I was back in England. I love Farfisa and Vox continentals but I think the Hammond Organ is much more versatile and rich in sound, i'm only just learning how to play but it's so much fun to learn as an instrument, way more fun than guitar for me. The only other instrument on the record is piano which I overdubbed at Coline's family home in Le Mans. Ah, the postman has just delivered our copies of Corsica Garden!

Dan: In the description of Corsica Garden it specifically notes that the record is done in a lo-fi, but also sort of hi-fi way, how was the album recorded and what was your approach to recording?

Nick: We recorded as a live band onto ½ inch reel to reel with a ghost vocal. Once we nailed a performance of a song I overdubbed the vocals. I think it was really important to record the main instruments of the record on analogue equipment so we could really push the levels into the red and still get that smooth sound. Once we had the whole song finished we converted the tracks into numeric files so that I could overdub organ, at my parents house in Over Haddon, England, and piano at Colines parents in Le Mans. We recorded the live parts of the album at Baldo's home studio in Massey Palaiseau, there we had the means to record onto to tape but not to mix so we had no choice but to mix the analogue tracks on a digital program. It's not a perfect way to work but it's a method we'll continue to use in the future as it gives us freedom to experiment and control the exact finished sound of our records. It's cheap too, we only have to pay for the reel to reel tape and mastering, of which Matthew Johnson at Suburban Home Studio did a great job! The sound of Corsica Garden is basically us as a live band after playing together for 7 months, I guess that's why it's seen as a lo-fi record, the hi-fi bit i'm not sure, a lot of my favourite records are from Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Gene Clark & Gram Parsons so I guess I aimed to mix the album with that kind of sound in mind. I wanted to leave space for all the instruments to breathe as modern records are so compressed in sound, I wanted us to play the tracks as well as possible so we didn't have to hide behind feedback or fuzz. We didn't quite hit the mark but we'll look to use the experience to sound better on future recordings.

Dan: What's next for Os Noctàmbulos?

Nick: The 2nd album is written and we're going to concentrate on practicing those songs on our mini European tour at the end of October so that when we get back we can get straight into the studio and record them. That record will be out on Stolen Body Records next May if all goes to plan. We're going to push the sounds on Corsica Garden a lot further and add a few more colours and genres into the mix to. After that there is talk of another split this time on Evil Hoodoo Records and I think we have the songs for that now too, though only Valentin and I have learned them at the moment. Then we may need to take a little break as Coline's studies come into their final year...

Dan: Is there anything else you would like to say?

Nick: Thanks to Daniel at Do You Even Psychedelic? for the interview and everyone who has supported us so far!

Do You Even Psychedelic? would like to sincerely thank Nick for taking the time.

Make sure to add the band on Facebook to get in touch here!

Also, the most important thing, make sure to check out their awesome, awesome album..Corsica Garden, here! (free download!)

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Pale Fires: Mammoth Review

U.K-based Psych-pop outfit, Pale Fires, manage to strike the perfect balance between Bunnymen-esque shimmer, classic Brit-grunge, and sedated space rock psychedelia. This new record follows up Pale Fires' 2014 EP release, Louring Skies, pressing on towards new sonic territory, and delving into previously unexplored, musical environment. - Review written by Daniel Sharman.

Released in: September 2014
Genre: Psych-Pop/Space Rock
Record Label: Self-release
Medium: Digital download, CD
Recorded at: Shrubbery Recording Studios

Even before writing as a listener, or a reviewer for that matter, Mammoth holds a special place in my heart due to its being the product of one of the few psychedelic groups local to myself. Recorded at a local studio, and preformed by local musicians, this record holds both critical, and emotional importance to me. 

As soon as we hear the album's opening track, River, an immediate precedent is set for Mammoth, clearly showing it to be more upbeat and lively than the band's first studio offering, the harmonies and percussion section providing a mellower sound than previously demonstrated in the band's work. However, there is an angst and tension still ever-present in the music, thanks in part to the fuzzed-out guitar work. The playing juxtaposing joyful melodies with heavy, distorted riffage.

Furthermore, the album's eponymous track, Mammoth, opens with a rolling beat accompanied by a shallow bassline groove evocative of some of the same bass grooves of the '80's. Dreamy, dreary guitar follows along, before exploding into an all-out explosion of distortion, a sonic presentation which gives validity to the track's title. Equally dreamy lyrics come into play, being segregated by returns of guitar fuzzdom. 

This album is not all upbeat thrills though, as Mammoth does have is more subdued and restrained moments, more evocative of their Louring Skies LP. Peace of Mind shows a preference for a calmer, darker edge, with a sizzling, wah-drenched Kraut rock guitar refrain (backed with a vocal hook and rhythm section reminiscent of more classic R&B). 'The Boat That is Rowing Slow' is also more subdued, calling to the styles of bands like Kasabian.  

Moreover, the EP's 5th track, Howl, my personal favourite, shows a more classic-psych rock edge. A harrowing set of single guitar notes, with haunting vibrato action to boot, leads into yet another, this time more classically grunge/garage rock, fuzz explosion. The driving grunge riff is joined by a howl and various clever octave-shifting techniques, causing me to think of bands like The UFO Club, and the vocal chant of ''no, no, no'' making me think of some of the later work of Roky Erickson. 

The closing track somewhat combines the elements of the rest of the album's tracks, juxtaposing fast, overdriven riffage with calmer, more passive instrumentation. The vocal delivery on this track didn't particularly inspire me, but does pick up with an ending outro featuring righteous, free-jazz saxophone work.

Critic's Comment: Not for everyone, but certainly for most, Mammoth is another pleasant, wholesome offering from Camden shoegazers Pale Fires. Investigating new territories that their previous EP did not, Mammoth is suggestive of the growing musicianship and artistry that this quartet does have to offer. Although, maybe not as full-blown and raw as my usual preference of psychedelia, Mammoth certainly has plenty of enjoyable, spaced-out moments. 

Monday, 15 September 2014

Montibus Communitas: The Pilgrim to the Absolute Review

Following up their 2013 release, Harvest Times, Montibus Communitas are back with an immersive, sonic experience compiled from past jams and improvisational sessions. Prepare to be taken on a journey like no other, and become a pilgrim to the absolute. - Written by Daniel Sharman.

{Read our interview with Montibus Communitas here}

Released in: September 2014
Genre: Roots Psychedelia
Record Label: Beyond Beyond is Beyond
Medium: Digital download, Black Vinyl, Glow-in-the-dark Vinyl (limited edition), CD
Recorded at: Member's Home Studio

Before listening to this record, I strongly advise wearing headphones as the LP focuses heavily of sonic manipulation to give a rich, and immersive experience. To pick up on the detail and nuances contained within the record, headphones really are the only way to listen.

Being a concept album (based upon a book written by one of the band members), Pilgrim to the Absolute melds the track listings with geographical locations to give the illusion that you, the listener, are in fact a pilgrim on a journey to an unknown location. In doing this, it makes for a relaxing and calming experience, reminiscent of a guided meditation or suchlike.

The record kicks off with 'The Pilgrim Under Stars', and 8 minute opener that sets the tone and pace for the rest of the record. The track utilises several post-recording techniques such as added reverb, panning, drones, and I wouldn't be surprised to hear some of the environmental sounds such as the gushing river, or chirping birds, were added in after-the-fact also. The tracks starts off in a slow, nature-orientated ambience before slowly rising into a gentle crescendo, incorporating shakers, flutes, organ, and calm electric guitars. 

After this 'setting-of-the-scene', and putting you on the course of your journey, you come to The Woods. This Woods is a seemingly more sinister, or possibly more wild, environment than that of the stars with a blistering opening set of guitar phrases. A bongo beat then leads into a second, this time western-esque, crescendo. This latter crescendo being reminiscent of the musical scores which accompanied so many final-act duels in the golden era of cinema. 

The Shrine carries on much of the motifs contained within The Woods, using a consistent drum beat to create a canvas for playful flutes, violins, and chants to dance upon. However, The Source, the first single released from this new album, creates a somewhat different atmosphere with a chugging, delayed guitar riff. This electric guitar being an instrument not too commonly heard on Montibus Communitas' records. The riffage leads to almost trance of sorts, a call to the ritualistic Shaman drumming conducted within so many Native American and African tribes.

Our last sonic stop before we reach The Absolute, and complete our journey, is The Light Masters. Going back to the effects used on the first track of the LP, we experience more post-recording elements such as panning, and ultra-sound. Cascading rhythmic shaking, and groaning warbles, give the track an odd tranquillity, evocative of some far-eastern temples of worship. 

Eventually, we reach the eponymous Source, completing our pilgrimage. This closing track lives up to its name by boasting an expansive sound, filled with reverberated bird calls, monastery-esque organ work, and airy flute passages. The organ's chords keep the return of the gurgling river in its place, and small, assorted chordophone phrases keep the track moving onwards.

Critic's Comment: A conceptual album such as this could seem pretentious and needlessly lofty to those on the receiving end of this album's recommendation, but once you begin listening, and give yourself over to the unusual presentation of the record, Pilgrim to the Absolute is a thoroughly enjoyable listen. If you don't favour hard-hitting psychedelia that is always looking to grab you by the throat, then this could be an LP for you. Worthy of the title 'psychedelic', this is a record that can transport you away from your usual time and place, and into a foreign continuum. 

You can pick up the new record here, out on Beyond Beyond is Beyond (read our interview here).

Sunday, 14 September 2014

The Night Collectors: Voice of the Cicada (Single Review)

Released in: 1 May 2014
Genre: Desert Rock/Wilderness Rock
Record Label: Self-release
Medium: Digital download, Cassette
Recorded at: Unknown

Voice of the Cicada was Do You Even Psychedelic?'s single of the month a while back, and with good reason too. I've pretty much played this record to death, and I'm still not bored of it. Spanning a whole cassette, Voice of the Cicada was released as a sort of LP in its own right, and currently holds a considerable amount of my cerebral focus.

Spanning 15:11, Voice of the Cicada is a hearty offering of raw desert instrumentation, born from the dusty plains of the Arizonan Sunbelt. Lead guitarist, Connor Gallagher, delivers a piercing guitar performance, laden with gingerly chosen delay, fuzz, etc. immediately giving structure to the thudding, tribal beat of the percussion section. Greasy, wild saxophone also accompanies the guitar work, giving a free jazz element to the tracks persona, and evoking the work of fellow Tuscon-based band, the Myrrors (see Romana Parra). The bass work is heavy, and creates an up-and-down, waving beat which the percussion section hazily follows. From this symbiotic energy which the bass and drums create comes a fusillade of drones and chants, some reminiscent of tribal expression, and some evocative of the eponymous Cicada's voice.

As the track progresses, the tempo of the song gradually increases, and so does the instrumentation with it. The guitar sections become more overdriven, starting to align themselves more and more with the aforementioned Cicada. Wailing vibrato bends litter the crescendo beat at 7:00, conjuring up imagery of the savage desert winds, and transforming the song's structural being into a sonic lather. 

This energy keeps building, increasing the tension of the song, and the guitar section becomes more and more violent (pure bliss for anyone who is really looking to dig an effects-soaked guitar played well tastefully for a change). The beat dissipates, and the track slows down, at around 10:00. It is at this point we hear a recording of an actual cicada, closing the song in genuine dust-driven noise. A genuine reminder of the power of vibrations.  

The track is currently up for 'Name Your Price' on Bandcamp, so make sure to head over and get a copy now, and support these guys. Link here. The band also keeps home-made cassette copies of the song, so if you are ever available to hit up one of their gigs..make sure you do! (Facebook page with all events on here).

It also worth mentioning that the band recently did a live recording for radio of the song, which is a slightly different version, so if you are hardcore, check it out here

Review written by Daniel Sharman.

Friday, 12 September 2014

The Dunes Interview with Adam Vanderwerf!!!

Ever wondered what it would feel like to look in the other end of the telescope? Well, wonder no more as we question the soft-rock atmospherists, The Dunes. Their 2013 release, La Musique Nouveau, demonstrated the band's amazing handle on depth, and space. Very recently The Dunes released BAD:LANDS, showing the darker side of the band's talent, and expressing the compendium of psychedelic treats this band still has to offer - (Interview conducted by Daniel Sharman).

Dan: Where do you guys hail from, and who is in the band?

Adam: Stacie Reeves – VOX & percussion
Matt Reiner – Guitar
Adam Vanderwerf – Bass / Synths
Jess Honeychurch – Organ/Synth
Dan Fernie-Harper – Drums / percussion

The Dunes are based in Adelaide, Australia.  We have all been in bands over the years, and fairly involved in the music scene here at home.

Dan: Where do The Dunes get their name from (with addendum to band history)?

Adam: The Dunes was originally conceived as a 2-piece by Matt Reiner. The name came to him in a dream.  After the first EP (Going Under) was released, Dan and I (Adam) joined the band, followed by Jess. It’s a great dynamic in the band now. Originally the songs were mainly written by Matt Reiner, but with our upcoming releases, we have all worked together to come up with new material – I think that people will be surprised with what we are writing now; it’s a departure from some of the old stuff, but still keeping that “Dunes” sound.

Dan: The band has a wonderful, airy space rock atmosphere - Who are some of your influences?

Adam: We have a lot of influences, but ones that have been helping lately are Black Mountain, Moon Duo/Wooden Shjips (read out interview here), Elephant Stone, The Cult of Dom Keller, The Black Angels, Dead Skeletons, and more.

Dan: How do you go about writing for The Dunes?

Adam: As mentioned before, Matt Reiner would often come to practice with most of a song already arranged and written, and the rest of the band would come up with their parts. With the new stuff we have just been locking ourselves in our practice space and recording our jams. With our new track Badlands I had recently purchased a Korg Monotribe and had been playing around with the settings and sounds. After a few jams we had worked out the track and figured out how to play it live. The other new track “End Of The Beginning” basically came from the main riff that Matt Reiner came up with during a jam some time ago. It was too good to let go so we wrote the song around it.

Dan: The Dunes are often posting pictures of their fantastic gear on Facebook, and suchlike. What were some of the guitars used on La Musique Nouveau?

Adam: We are all gear nerds when it comes down to it. On LMN Matt used a Fender Strat and a Mini Maton acoustic. I had just picked up a early 90s Fender P Bass and swapped out the pickups to Seymour Duncan Antiquity II’s. Amazing tone. On the new tracks we are using a Vox Teardrop for guitar and ive recently picked up a ’78 Fender P-bass. The ’78 P has now become my workhorse – there is something about vintage gear that makes it feel and sound better in my opinion.  Most of the guitars are in standard tuning, whilst my bass is tuned down 2 steps. I also prefer using heavier gauge strings (50-115 GHS Boomers).

Dan: And how about amps, and effects?

Adam: Amp wise, for the guitar we used a Fender Princeton and Bass was a Fender bandmaster with Ampeg Classic 4x10. The latest one I used a Fender Bassman 100 head. Effects are a beast, but to give an example of some that we are using: 

Boss DM2 Delay (also used for vocals)

EHX 45000 looper

Strymon Timeline
EHX cathedral (vocals)
Russian Big Muff
EHX Double Muff 
Boss TR2 Tremelo
EHX Pulsar
Tyms Big Bottom
Malekko B:Assmaster
EHX Bass Big Muff
Fairfield Circuitry Unpleasant Surprise
EHX Holy Grail

There are a heap more, but those are the ones that come to mind at the moment. We are always looking for new sounds, and experimenting with pedals/effects. Another pedal that I’ve just ordered is the Elephant Stone Bass Fuzz. We are big fans of Elephant Stone and were pumped to see they released some signature fuzz pedals.

Got Fuzz?

Dan: How about any additional instruments?

Adam: Our keys player uses one of 2 organs – A Baleani 2 tier combo organ that we found in hard rubbish years ago. Works perfectly and easy to transport live. When recording we used a Hammond organ, and also a Yamaha YC25D. We also throw in a Korg MS10 synth when we play live. As I mentioned before, we have been playing around using a Korg Monotribe for some trippy effects, as well as a few noise pedals in loop – that will be coming out more in a live setting later down the track. Also when we play live we use a electronic Shruti Box for that drone tone.

Dan: The Dunes preference of space and ambience over hard hitting instrumentation is a real fresh of breath air in many ways. Was there a conscious effort to keep the songs deliberately clean and relaxed?

Adam: Exploring the idea that music can take you on a journey is always something that I look for when making new music. I think with La Musique Nouveau the theme of space and ambience works perfectly in the context of the EP – the most ‘rockiest’ of the songs was “A Thousand Crimes” I think as you play together as a band you start to hear the songs in a different way which allows you to experiment more and add extended jams to parts, rewrite passages and put something new to the songs. If you want to hear the song note for note, buy the CD, sit at home and listen to it; I think in a live setting the idea of extending songs and improvising bits gives the audience more. I'm a big fan of putting on a “Show” rather than just standing on stage playing the songs start to finish. When possible we try to incorporate visuals into our set as much as possible.

Dan: What is next for The Dunes?

Adam: We have just released a double single BAD:LANDS featuring the tracks Badlands & End Of The Beginning, it also has a live extended version of A Thousand Crimes which is a good reflection of how we play it at the moment. After this, we are having a bit of a break and writing some new material for a few months. We will be heading up to Sydney in mid December (I can’t say much more than that at the moment – but check back on our Facebook page for an announcement soon) and hoping to organise some shows in Melbourne a few times before the end of the year.  We just had some amazing bands over from Melbourne to play with us in Adelaide – The Citradels (read out interview here), Buried Feather and Flyying Colours – so we are hoping to line up some shows with them.

Dan: Lastly, is there anything else you would like to say? 

Adam: Thanks to all for the support so far. Whether it’s coming to a show, buying a CD or tshirt, or just messaging us to say you like the music means more than you can imagine. It's hard to stand out from the (psych) crowd but I think doing what you love and making music that the band stands by is better than following the latest trend or trying to emulate something that’s already been done – it's an easy trap to fall into.  Thanks for the good questions! I could probably talk about gear all day! 

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

You can find the new 'BAD:LANDS' double-single, and all of The Dunes' past discography here.

Make sure to like the band's Facebook page to keep up to date here.

Friday, 5 September 2014

幾何学模様/Kikagaku Moyo Interview with Go Kurosawa and Daoud Akira! (with Guest Questions from Joshua Schultz!)

Movers of the eastern sands, scorchers of the forgotten lands, Kikagaku Moyo burst onto the neo psych scene in mid-2013 with their hard-hitting, self-titled début album. The Japanese coffee-room rockers have since continued their musical expedition releasing a set of meditative jams, Mammatus Clouds, and their début's follow-up LP, Forest of Lost Children. Every time these space mountain men release, it surely gets everyone excited, and for good reason too. We caught up with Go, and Daoud, to find out a little bit more about the band. - Interview by Daniel Sharman.

*Answered by Go [Blue] and Daoud [Red]*

Dan: Where do you guys hail from?

Go: We hail from Tokyo, Japan.

Dan: Who is in the band, and who plays what?

Go: Tomo (Guitar)
Daoud  (Guitar)
Kotsuguy (Bass Guitar)
Ryu (Sitar)
Go (Drums)

Dan: How did you guys get together, and start playing?

Go: Tomo and I first met in Tokyo through mutual friends. Tomo found Daoud in a smoking area of the university that they both attended. Tomo asked him if he wanted to come see our show and after the show we asked if he would play guitar with us. We found Kotsuguy on the street, where he was recording the noises from vending machines for his drone project. Ryu is my brother; he finished his sitar training in India at the time we started playing. 

Dan: Being from Japan, you must be more exposed to Eastern psychedelia than most of my readers, what are some of your influences?

Go: Since Japan is an island, we are isolated from other countries. We are exposed to Japanese music for sure, but not really “Eastern.”

We all listen to different music, so we can't really say who influences the band as a whole. We would rather hear what you think we are influenced by. [laugh]

Dan: How does writing normally occur within the band? Are your improvised recordings, like Mammatus Clouds, planned at all?

Go: We are always trying find inspiration from anything that we encounter like art, books, movies or our own experiences. Actually, we haven't found a set method for writing music.  
Most songs have a part we can freely jam. For Mammatus Clouds, we didn’t really plan it, but we shared one image and tried to express it on the stage. We were just having fun to see where the song goes. 

Dan: You've recently started a new record label, Guruguru Brain, can you tell us a bit about it?

Go: Guruguru Brain focuses on discovering and introducing Asian underground music. Many bands in Asia have grown up listening to American and European music. Now, many bands are trying to be original rather than just copying what they like. We believe that it’s time to make an impact on the music scene in Asia.

Dan: Do you feel Western psych-lovers are underexposed to Eastern psychedelia?

Go: We don’t think so. A lot of old Asian psych/funk has been discovered and reissued by European or American labels. 

Dan: On your two latest recordings, what guitars were used?

Daoud: We used all kinds of guitars. A Squier Stratocaster, a Gibson Les Paul, a Bacchus Jaguar and some other bizarre guitars to name a few.

Dan: And, what about amps, and effects pedals?

Daoud: We used many fuzz pedals and tape echoes. Those are my favourite. I think Tomo and I have used 4 or 5 different tape echoes in the last two years. 

Dan: What about other instruments?

Go: We brought almost all of our instruments to the recording studio—everything from an egg shaker to a souvenir flute from Mt. Fuji.

Guest questions from Josh Schultz of Traveling Circle (Read our interview here)

Josh: While you guys absolutely killed it on your recent U.S. dates, your sets were on the short side for a band of your ilk. This is great for me because I'm old, grumpy, and easily distracted, but why did you guys choose to play shorter sets, when so many of your contemporaries tend to carry on FOR EVVVVVERRRRR?

Go: We are also grumpy and easily distracted, same as you [laughs]

Josh: I noticed you didn’t have the sitar out for the U.S. dates I was lucky enough to catch. While the band still sounded freakin’ amazing, where was Ryu? Are there plans to tour with sitar in the future?

Go: Ryu always travels around the world because he is a forest engineer. He will join the tour whenever he is able to. We have a different set whenever we are with him. Without him, we tend to sound a lot heavier and louder.

Josh: You have been touring with some pretty cool bands as well.  Among these, are there any standouts, favourites or new discoveries you would like to mention?

Go: Our favourites are Moon Duo, Eternal Tapestry, the Myrrors and Kiki Pau. A new discovery was a band called The Night Collectors who we played with in Tucson, Arizona.

Josh: I understand your band was involved with the Tokyo Psych Fest series. Are there any plans to do more of these in the future? What was your favorite edition of the series so far and who played?

Go: We just did a special event called “Kraut Rock Nacht” where each band covers Kraut rock songs. They played songs from Can, Kraftwerk, Amon Duul, Embryo and Neu.
Currently, we are organizing a Japanese tour for mid september and inviting Dreamtime 
from Australia, Rollfast from Indonesia, and Scattered Purgatory from Taiwan. Kikagaku Moyo will be playing the last Tokyo show on September 15th.

Josh: Kikagaku Moyo appeared to be well received at the U.S. shows, is it the same in Tokyo? 

Go: We don't know because we haven't play any shows in Japan after the US tour.

Josh: How do audiences in Tokyo compare with those overseas?

Go: It’s totally different for sure, We barely play shows in Tokyo, so we will see in September.


Dan: What is next for Kikaguka moyo?

Go: We will tour UK in October.

Dan: Is there anything else you would like to say?

Go: Thank you for reading this interview and supporting us! We hope to see you soon at the show. Arigato! - Kikagaku Moyo.

Do You Even Psychedelic? would like to thank the Kikagaku Moyo boys for taking the time out of their busy schedule to do the interview! 

For interviews with the other bands mentioned in this article:
The Myrrors - Here
Beyond Beyond Is Beyond - Here
Ripley Johnson (of Moon Duo) - Here
The Night Collectors - Here

Make sure to like the band's Facebook page to keep up to date - here.

Check out, buy, and stream the band's full discography - here.