Italian Adventures

Saint Lawrence Verge

Ashram

German Shepherd Records

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Saint Lawrence Verge were formed in Modena, Italy, in 2012.

The first line-up of the band consisted of Hatsya (vocals, guitar, synths), Mart (guitar, synths) and Acrux (drums). The current line up was completed in 2014 with Nauthiz, who covers the bass guitar duties.

The band say “The key purpose of the Saint Lawrence Verge project is creating,  where that ‘Creation’ is conceived as an expression of our visions, lives and feelings.” 

The name of their first, self-produced,  album was “This Is The Way” and consisted of 8 tracks “drenched with an obscure, dreamlike mood” . It was recorded in 2013 and released in 2014.

In 2015 they recorded a promo named “The Ladder” consisting of two new tracks and including re-arranged versions of two songs previously featured on “This Is The Way”.

On 22nd April 2016, with the support and help of German Shepherd Records, Saint Lawrence Verge new full length will be released, entitled “Ashram”. This is the record labels first release by a band from outside the UK.

The band play what they describe as “trip-rock” which, in essence, combines a strong post-punk ethic, with elements of cinematic progressive styles, in the spirit of Italian composers such as Ennio Morricone, and the rich legacy of that countries rock output. As with most German Shepherd releases it is completely different from what has been released before by the label. The decision to release the album to some extent reflects the label owners love of early 70s prog like Van Der Graaf and Peter Hammill , cinema soundtracks and jazz.

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From the bands promo……

“Ashram” is our sophomore effort, ten songs of trip rock recorded and mixed at Orion’s Lair and Inferno Studios, and then mastered at Sage Audio.

The “Ashram” is a community gathered for mystical purposes, and the album is an intermediate result of the spiritual research channeling through Saint Lawrence Verge.

The cover artwork represents the Roots, the Ladder and the Branches; we come from Cosmos, find ourselves here and rise the Ladder until we reach the Cosmos once again.

The first three songs of “Ashram” are about the Roots, or what lays behind us as historical origin (Wings of Oblivion), metaphysical origin (Nest of Lights) and genealogical origin (Equinox).

The Ladder – our present, visible and reachable existence – inspired the next four songs, each one treating a different type of awareness: Nature and Elements (Struggle Fundamentals), Animals (And in the Black, Them), Humans (Ivory of the Peaks), Means for Other Forces (Ashram).

The expression of this point of Saint Lawrence Verge’s journey is then completed by the last three songs, which are reflections, dreams and mystical abductions about the Branches, the threshold of the Unknown, the road onward (or backward?) to Cosmos. “Black Woods” is about our private and immediate future perspective, “Past Lives in One” is about the relation between Time and Life, while “Cursed Among the Furthest Lights” is a swirling, bleak possession of hostile and far dimensions.

“A call from above to our sleeping cells
to let us ascend out of trembling shells,
We rise from black dwells;
little more than corpses of higher spells,
sidereal currents will overwhelm us,
among the stars our bodies will be crushed.”

An interview with the band

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Q. When was the band formed?

The nucleus of the band formed in 2012, composed of Hatsya & Mart. The following year Acrux joined the band, which in 2014 released “This Is The Way”, our first effort. Then, Nauthiz came in as bass player; “The Ladder EP” was recorded and released in 2015. Now, in 2016, it’s time for “Ashram” to see the light.

Q. Who is in the band and what instruments do they play?

The band is  Hatsya – vocals, guitars & synths – , Mart – guitars & synths, Nauthiz – bass – and Acrux – drums.

Q. Are any of the members of the band in any other groups. or have they played in other groups previously?

Hatsya was in Laetitia in Holocaust and is undertaking – at this very moment – a solo path. Nauthiz was also Laetitia in Holocaust, but has played in a variety of other bands, including Red Pill, Unbirth & Klosteret.

Q. What are your musical influences?

We all have a wide array of influences, but for this project we would mention: Death in June, And Also The Trees, 70s psychedelic rock, Comus, Ianva, Joy Division, Matt Elliott, Pink Floyd, Hexvessel.. but it could be an infinite list!

Q. The album is an interesting mix of styles? How would you describe your style/genre?

Mmh.. trip rock?

Q. I think I here some Sergio Leone/Ennio Morricone influences, is this correct?

An unconscious influence from Ennio Morricone is possible – Sergio Leone is one of the most loved directors in – and from – Italy, so it’s not so unlikely to hear some impact of the musical scores composed by the Maestro. Anyway, it’s really a flattering suggestion!

Q. What music by other bands/artists is each member of the band listening to at the moment?

Right now, for the most part our listening revolves around Hexvessel, Fabrizio de Andrè, Camel, Spite Extreme Wing, The Devil’s Blood, Hood, Directorsound & Nick Cave.

Q. What can you tell us about the music scene in Modena/Northern Italy?

The scene is quite dead, but some bands have survived: Demiurgon, Red Pill, Ataraxia, Jesus Ain’t in Poland, Grumo, Fata, Na Isna & J.T.R. Sickert are all groups from our area.

Q. Where can people find out more about the band?

Facebook 

SoundCloud 

You Tube 

The album can be pre-ordered now.

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Fascinating Things : Issue 53

It’s that time of the year, between Winter and Spring, when things go a little quiet. A lot of what has been sent over to me in the last week or so hasn’t made the cut. There are one or two exceptions worth bringing to your attention.

Mr Graney and his mistLY will be over from Melbourne next week, he starts off north of the border and then makes his way down to this neck of the woods for a Marc Riley Session down at Salford Quays on 13th April and then an intimate gig at the Eagle in Salford on the 14th before heading west to the Welsh coast for what looks like a fascinating ATP curated by Stewart Lee. Places are limited to 75 for the Eagle Gig so North West Graney fans are advised to book tickets at the German Shepherd Merch Page. Dave is supported by local band Poppycock lead by Una Baines (ex Fall and Blue Orchids) and a solo set by new German Shepherd star Franco Bandini.

Dave is releasing a series of singles throughout the year the latest one is a bit special. As Dave says “It’s a kind of tribute to lousy gigs, jinxed rooms, bad nights bum crowds. Inspired in parts by a Willie Nelson track from early 2000’s called ‘I never came in here (and I ain’t leavin’)’. The tracks forms around a funky beat that Dave Graney cooked up and asked Clare Moore to drape a string of pearls over. (Over the cymbals- to get the right ambient sound) It follows February’s “I’m A Good Hater” and will be followed in turn by “I Been Trendy” in late April. The plan is to release a track each month. This Is the Deadest Place That I’ve Ever Died In is a “punk funk” stomper recorded at the Ponderosa by Graney and Moore. A video clip comprising a series of photographs by Barry C Douglas aka Barry takes Photos at a ghostly tourist haunt along the road between Adelaide and Melbourne is hear for your listening and watching pleasure.

The forthcoming album from Saint Lawrence Verge is trailed by the release of another track “Equinox” this week. The album will be available for pre-release on April 8th and I’ve an interview with the band to share with you next week. Pending that have a listen….

 

Here’s an exclusive clip of Hiatus Kaiyote rehearsing their track ‘The Lung’ from the album ‘Choose Your Weapon’ ahead of their UK tour this April. This will be the first time they have played this track live. They play live at O2 Ritz, Manchester on 27th April 2016, with support from Jordan Rakei. The show is promoted by Band on the Wall.

 

Baltimore-based Grimoire Records is preparing the upcoming third album by West Virginia stoner/noise metal trio Rhin for release in May, with “Passenger”. Following their well-received 2014-released Bastard LP, the new album  sees the band delivering just under thirty-four minutes of pummeling new riffery. I’ll be featuring it on the Sonic Attack podcast, however I haven’t got anything from the new album to share so here’s a track from the previous one to whet your appetite.

Stuart Dahlquist and Edgy59 are The Poisoned Glass, they release their debut album via Ritual Productions in April.  On “10 Swords”, intense industrial electronica merges with  unique vocal pyrotechnics to create a unique sound.  “The Poisoned Glass started with the song ‘Silent Vigil’, a twelve-tone progression Dahlquist had originally intended as a tonal bass solo. After experimenting, he felt that the resulting sound was heavier, more despondent and unforgiving than any of his existing projects and sent the rough mix to Edgy, who understood immediately that this music represented perfectly both voices as a unit. In spite of seemingly limiting instrumentation The Poisoned Glass is far from minimalist; ‘the atmosphere is bleak yet tonally dense, a virtual sonic attic-warm but without air, breathles.'”. Pretty intense stuff folks!

Scott Kelly (Neurosis) and producer/engineer/sonic warlord Sanford Parker (Buried At Sea) are a restless pair. This inquietude has culminated in another collaboration. The two work together in Corrections House, a project that also features the talents of Mike IX Williams of Eyehategod, and Bruce Lamont of Yakuza. While Corrections House seem hell-bent on impersonal bludgeon and unfettered terror, the pair’s latest project, Mirrors For Psychic Warfare by comparison – is far more restrained. It is released on April 22nd. It’s a great release, full of dark corners and brooding intensity, very atmospheric  Here is a live taster from last year. Watch out for it on the podcasts!

Ratner, Tatlock and Meacock

It is always a huge pleasure to report the release of a new album from West Coast Sick Line. Since the last one “The Road to Billinge Hill” in 2014 the band has changed line-up, main man Dusty has relocated around the coast of North Wales from Penrhyn Bay to the Conwy Estuary, and the band have played a few more live dates. Once again the Sick Line have caught my ear with this release and will definitely  be up there in the “album of the year list” come December.

It is called “Europee”, somewhat current given the June referendum.

Europee

As with most WCSL releases there’s a concept/theme going on, but, perhaps not as overtly as in previous releases. To be honest I think that this is their best yet. Not everyone agrees with me on this, notably the band, who seem a little less enthusiastic about it than I am. Perhaps the energy/emotion that went into “Billinge” had more of an impact on their psyche. I think the thing that swings it for me is that it’s less pop and more rock, with a maturity that comes with getting to the fourth release. This feels like a proper album that you can sit down and listen to as a whole experience. Not good for the short attention span. track shuffle, Spotify generation, but great for those who like the experience of a complete set of music that demands your attention. You need to sit down and listen to this all the way through from beginning to end.

It starts off with burst of static, some found sounds and an aural sculpture for just over a minute and then kicks into the excellent brooding “Chips Off” which starts all John Barry 60s TV theme and morphs into a full on ‘Stones rock out. New female lead Chaimaine Smith is a perfect foil to Moonan’s voice, the lyrics are, as usual, excellent. “Incidently, Sophie” is a typical Moonan love song which touches on Nick Drake with its’rich string arrangements and more-ish melody.

Next up is the stunning “Best Lost In Translation” which previously appeared on German Shepherd’s “100” compilation.Moonan mines his Fall/Post Punk back catalogue for influences and launches into a scabrous invective, which is both memorable and adorable. The song structure is fascinating, building organically into a half spoken rant. It reminds me of the complexity of the tunes that Spirit achieved on “12 Dreams of Dr Sardonicus”.

Time next for some partying with riotous “Quando” which matches Bo Diddley rhythms with Eurovision chants. I can’t help feeling that this should have been chosen for the UK entry for the Eurovision Song Concert. Pure fun and with a completely inappropriate grunge guitar solo in the middle, which works when it shouldn’t, this should be a stunner live.

Guests, The Bird and The Monkey, add another layer of loveliness to the remarkable “Le Cauchemar” which echoes Dusty’s love of french popular music. It reeks of Serge Gainsborough and his ilk, a gorgeous confection of Gallic sounds and interweaving vocals which would not have been out of place on “Pet Sounds”.

The title track is pure Moonan pop echoing 60s styles – guitar and piano over a simple melody evokes the tension of the “European Project” and is a pause for thought.

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Party time with the Sick Line – Dusty, Chaimaine, David and Nathan

The loose bluesy “Thrashing Around” gives Dusty and Chaimaine the chance to strut their vocal stuff, demonstrating that the band can operate in any genre with ease. This is the sound of a band enjoying what they do and giving great pleasure to their audience whilst they do it. The trademark word play, which is always a highlight of a Sick Line album, stands out as Gerald Ratner, Albert Tatlock, and Lucy Meacock, amongst others, get name checked in a fascinating closing section.

The brain flipper on the album is the intense and captivating “Where did all the birds go?” which appears to emerge from somewhere from the west coast of America in the mid 60s. This is Dusty in full protest singer mode, stripped back and emotional, with stunning percussion from David Majoros the bedrock of the track. That you would not expect this on a Sick Line album is its strength.

Nathan Page kicks off the acerbic “Crates” with a motorik bass line, this is pure Sick Line, building to an intensity, before slipping into a quirky middle section, and flipping back into the bass line and a searing guitar solo.

The closer  “Clic” freaked me out when I first heard it. I didn’t quite get what was going on. But with all good things it grew on me after a few listens. A slow reflective piece it takes the album to another place entirely and leaves this listener with a few questions about what he has just enjoyed. An atmospheric closer which plays with form and content and drifts away into the night. An unusual, but after some thought, perfect conclusion to a perfect album.

As I say their best yet and not to be missed.

The album is released on April 1st on German Shepherd Records and can be pre-ordered now.

Fascinating Things : Issue 34

Since I last wrote a couple of nice things have happened. Firstly I am now working with the excellent music venue Band on the Wall in Manchester to compile a monthly “new jazz” podcast which will reflect some of the jazz artists that will be playing at the august establishment as well as featuring some of the best new jazz releases. I am hoping to feature up and coming jazz musicians especially from the Greater Manchester area in those podcasts as well. I have an abiding love for the place as I have seen some of my favourite artists there over the years so it is a real treat for me to be doing this for them. Secondly I am now a featured blogger on the excellent Hype Machine website which highlights some of the best new music.

Talking of the Band on the Wall I was pleased to note that the legendary Curved Air will be playing there on Thursday next. Sadly I cannot attend due to ongoing post ankle fracture problems but my good buddy Stephen Doyle is attending on my behalf and a review of the gig will appear on the blog, courtesy of SD, in due course. It’s a long while since I saw Sonja and Co (supporting Mott The Hoople in Northampton back in the dark ages) so I am keen to hear what Steve and his wife Yvonne make of the performance. More information and ticket options can be found here.

Regina,Saskatchewan, based band Library Voices have released their new album  ‘Lovish’. Their self-produced third collective effort, ‘Lovish’ was recorded in an old funeral home. The album was mixed by Dave Plowman and Alex Bonenfant (METZ, Crystal Castles, July Talk). The band have upped the fuzz and fidelity on this release, but have not lost any of their charming melodic pop elements. The 11 song album opens with the line “All of your heroes, they’re all assholes/but that don’t mean you should piss on your dreams” and then embarks on an anthemic 40-minute alternative rock journey. The cavernous reverb of an old Space Echo and a busted up tape machine provides the sonic backbone to this engaging guitar-driven album. There’s almost a mid-period Go-Betweens feel in places which of course ticks all the right boxes for me. One of the better albums of the year, especially when the band get the guitars up to full pelt and the punk psychedelia kicks in.

Father Murphy, the Italian duo comprised of Rev. Murphy and Chiara Lee, who have been inhabiting the underground since the early Noughties with a series of dark, disturbing recordings, have teamed up with producer Fabrizio Modonese Palumbo (Larsen) for a 10” EP, which is appropriately entitled “Lamentations” and is to be released by the avant-garde label Backwards on 20th November 2015.

Picture by Sara Xiaygu
Picture by Sara Xiaygu

Preparations continue for the release of SUNN O)))’s upcoming LP, “Kannon”, to be released this December via Southern Lord, and this week the album’s cover art and pre-order options have been released.

Sunn o)))

As part of the label’s ongoing 25th anniversary celebration, Relapse Records has released a 38-song label sampler available for free download via Bandcamp and Amazon MP3. The label sampler features songs from all of Relapse’s 2015 new releases including TORCHE, WINDHAND, ZOMBI, MYRKUR, ROYAL THUNDER and many more. It also includes tracks from the remixed and remastered reissues released in 2015, including music by PIG DESTROYER, SACRILEGE, EXHUMED, RAZOR, and more! Additionally, the sampler contains tracks from 2015’s new signees MAGRUDERGRIND, ILSA, SEVEN SISTERS OF SLEEP, WRONG, GRAVES AT SEA, and LYCUS. The 2015 sampler is also available for free streaming via all majorportals.

Additionally, Relapse Records released a massive 194-song sampler spanning the label’s entire 25-year history earlier this year.

The Scissors are self proclaimed as “Swirling Hammond organ fuelled psychpop with horrorshow freakbeat guitars and new wave post punk synergy”. They are from Cambridge and is the case with that places music scene there are all sorts of links. Band member Stewart Harris not only designed the sleeve for the recent Bouquet of Dead Crows album but also plays bass in excellent band The Seven Twenty. The Scissors have recently remastered their debut album as well as working on some new recordings which have been sent my way and will appear on a future podcast. Highly recommended!