On the evening of November 17, 2012, heavy music legends Neurosis played their hometown of Oakland in celebration of their tenth studio album called Honor Found In Decay. Neurosis also invited along Portland doom trio Yob, and the Canadian heavy metal band Voivod. Oakland’s Fox Theater was packed to the brim with an audience that spanned multiple generations, proof that their legacy continues to thrive. As usual, Neurosis wasted no breath communicating with the audience, preferring to plunge straight into leaden, dismal riffs, primal howls and captivating visuals. In the spirit of Neurosis, my words end here and I leave you with my photos from that unforgettable night.
During the month of July 2012, San Francisco’s Wreck & Reference and LA’s Doctorshopper made a short run of the West Coast of the United States. In January, Doctorshopper self-released “Degenerate Utopia” on their Cult of Melancholia imprint, an art and music collective from the Los Angeles area. In April, Wreck & Reference released their follow up to the revered “Black Cassette” with an album called “No Youth” which is available on vinyl from The Flenser. More words and a full black and white gallery of both bands after the jump!
Horseback started as a solo project, an intensely personal one at that. Your debut record was, as you’ve described, as a way to deal with you being diagnosed with OCD. It sounds like the sort of thing that one would be hesitant to even release into the world. The music has grown and evolved so much since then, and Horseback has shed the solo drone project tag quickly. Did you ever think that Horseback might become anything more than a bedroom project?
I didn’t intend for it to be more than that while I was recording the first record or two, but things change. I’d say it gained greater potential after The Invisible Mountain was reissued by Relapse in 2010. That brought in some offers from festivals, which allowed us to get out on the road for a bit. Last year, we played the Utech Festival with Locrian, House of Low Culture, Plotkin and Mueller, and William Fowler Collins, among others; the Boomslang Festival with Swans, Pelican, Sir Richard Bishop, and others; and Raleigh’s Hopscotch Festival with dozens of other bands. Still, those opportunities are rare, and since the guys in Horseback’s live lineup are all involved in a bunch of other bands (Caltrop, Airstrip, Hog, and Monsonia, to name a few, and I’m often busy with Mount Moriah), live Horseback shows have become more of a special occasion thing than a regular thing.
So the project remains largely a bedroom project, a creative pursuit that allows me to focus my energy in a daily practice, but sometimes we’re able to mobilize the live band for short tours.
Read the rest of this interview after the jump!
Last year, San Francisco’s Bosse-de-Nage released one of my favorite albums of 2012. The follow up to their self-titled debut, simply called “ii” was a compelling mix of black metal, post rock and indie rock. Drawing heavily from the 90s post rock outfit Slint as well as black metal, Bosse-de-Nage have crafted a sound that is unique entirely to them. Much like Roads to Judah by San Francisco’s Deafheaven, it’s been demonstrated that the black metal sound can be injected with other influences like shoegaze and post rock. Sometimes these influences are at the forefront and the black metal elements are merely an afterthought. When pulled off, like both Bosse-de-Nage and Deafheaven do, the results are astounding. Now with their album iii, Bosse-de-Nage plunge even further into post and indie rock, slowly evolving from black metal with tremendous results. It makes me think that some of the best black metal being made today isn’t really black metal at all. Read the rest of the review after the jump!
Last Tuesday, the reunited influential stoner doom band Sleep returned to their hometown of Oakland to play the massive Fox Theater. Since splitting in the 90s, bassist Al Cisneros and guitarist Matt Pike have experienced success with their new bands Om and High On Fire respectively. Yet over time≤ Sleep’s influence has continue to spread and the band has gained generations of fans. Over the past few years, the band has been playing festivals, small scale tours and special one-off performances, often for sold-out crowds of all ages. Tuesday, June 5th saw them playing a space large enough to contain their enormous sound and the copious amounts of smoke emanating from the audience. In support where two very excellent local bands: Kowloon Walled City and Oxbow. Check out a full color gallery of all three bands after the jump!
Baroness are on the precipice of rock stardom, which is something that today is almost a novelty. To see a band claw their way up from the underground is truly inspiring. Baroness have worked tirelessly and toured endlessly over the years and it’s all about to pay off. Baroness have their roots in sludge metal, but have aged and incorporated more blues and psychedelia into their repetoire to form a sound that is unique but also incredibly accessible. Baroness always used to be “the opening band.” I saw them three times before they even did their first headlining North American tour in support of the acclaimed Blue Record (Relapse).Now with Yellow & Green coming out this summer, we can expect to see the band blow up even further and play some bigger headlining shows. Before that can happen though, Baroness embarked on a tour with Decapitated in Meshuggah; two extreme death metal bands. Baroness were placed right in between on the bill, creating a much appreciated, although bizarre break between the two death metal bands. Read the rest of the review and see a full color gallery of Baroness at The Fillmore in San Francisco after the jump!
During the last weekend in April, in the small college town of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, 19 bands played the Gilead Media Music Festival. The fest, put on by label head/founder Adam Bartlett (interviewed here) featured some of the most innovative and hardworking bands in the genres of doom, black metal, punk, hardcore and even noise/ambient. Both days went off without a hitch. The whole even was thoroughly planned and well put together. It was operated by Bartlett himself and a staff of volunteers. Everything took place at The Electric Lounge, an atypical venue for a metal festival. The downstairs featured a bar, arcade games and a bowling alley. Upstairs was the music hall which looked more like a lodge. It was spacious enough to fit the 250 cap patrons as well as all the merch tables which lined the walls.
(photo by Gina Fagrey)
Read more about the fest and see tons of live photos of bands after the jump!
Great, thanks Bryan.
The Invisible Mountain was the album that really put Horseback on the map, and you’ve released a lot of material since then. Your offerings on splits and collaborations since that release have been very different sonically. Did you intend to distance yourself from the sound of that record a little bit to avoid repetition?
I try to keep the process open. I’m not as concerned with whether or not I’m repeating myself as I am with pursuing ideas as they come. I try to avoid molding these ideas to fit any particular genre — some suggest a “rock-band” approach to realization, while others work best in more abstract arrangements.
The follow up to Mountain was a release called Forbidden Planet which was released initially very quietly on cassette by Brave Mysteries. That release was highly textural and an exploration of drone and soundscapes that focused primarily on guitar. Listening to it on tape adds an extra layer of hiss and noise. Do you see that record as lending itself specifically to the format of cassette?
I did, after it was finished. Listening back to Forbidden Planet is a challenge because there are so few concessions to listenability on that one. Like many harsh noise records, it’s to be endured — maybe even “beaten” — so that completion is an accomplishment. Records like that seem to benefit from an explicit layer of physicality between the listener and the sounds themselves. Cassettes provide that sense of confrontation: they are physical things that the listener must wrestle with, unlock. As you suggest, there’s a layer of hiss that won’t allow you to forget there’s a machine whirring away behind the music. Tape gets tangled in players, sometimes it tears. Cassettes demand a certain level of physical interaction that you don’t get from the digital medium.
Still, I don’t like obscurity for the sake of obscurity. I’m happy to reissue cassette releases in more accessible and widely-distributed formats, should the opportunity arise. The listener can choose which format is right for him or her.
Rest of the interview after the jump…
Last Saturday, French shoegaze metal band Alcest made their second-ever appearance in San Francisco at the Elbo Room in support of their new album Les Voyages de L’ame. Despite being a show that started at 4 and was over by 8, the crowds turned out to catch these elusive dreamweavers of blissed-out metal. I was there to capture these photos of Neige & co. Check out the full color gallery of Alcest after the jump!
Horseback’s career path has been as unusual as the music itself. 2010 game changer The Invisible Mountain was followed up almost silently by a cassette release of full length Forbidden Planet that December. In the meantime, Horseback signed with Relapse Records, released a split with Voltigeurs , a collaboration LP with Locrian, and an LP + CD with Pyramids. Relapse reissued Forbidden Planet on cd along with the first Horseback album, the drone masterpiece Impale Golden Horn. Fans of the band have been anticipating Half Blood since mastermind Jenks Miller first mentioned it in an interview, and now its release is imminent. Horseback (aka Jenks Miller), however, couldn’t resist releasing a bit more material into the world with the On The Eclipse 7 inch. Because of this unconventional release schedule, Half Blood feels like the first proper full length since Invisible Mountain, even though it’s LP number four. Half Blood is an amalgamation of the previous three records and also steers Horseback into new and exciting territory. Read the rest of the review after the jump!