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Rituals in vitreous psych

Hello beautiful Sunday children, here are two amazing krauty albums for you! Both come on black vinyl in simple but beautiful packaging. One's a cooperative multi-label release by Echodelick Records, We Here & Now and Worst Bassist Records, the other should tell you its Danish origin by one look onto its cover artwork. So here we go:

IVAN THE TOLERABLE - Ritual In Transfigured Time (LP) (2023)

Some artists should come with a label "too prolific; don't even try to follow - you won't keep up anyway". Multi-instrumentalist Oli Heffernan aka Ivan The Tolerable, who already released more than the sensational album "Black Water/Brown Earth" this year, is definitely among those.

The credits on this release almost read the same with Heffernan himself being responsible for bass, guitar, synths, keys, field recordings, but now also drum machines, Mees Siderius on drums and vibraphone and Elsa Van Der Linden on flute and saxophone. The additional fourth member is James Putnam on trumpet and French horn. The music however is quite different. Also jazzy and definitely psychedelic, but both a more inwards and meditavely hypnotic experience.

The key for this may lie in the record being more production-driven as the note "electronically re-recorded to simulate Stereo" on the cover already indicates. So these recordings travelled back and forth, being altered and manipulated a lot before they took their final form.

"Ritual In Transfigured Time" is a meticulously mixed headphones album, which synchronizes vibraphone, winds, guitars and analogue electro sounds with your brain waves, and sends soothing vibrations all through your body, while also being exciting enough not to lull you to sleep. At least if you don't want that to happen.

This is just a wonderfully life-affirming organic take on Ambient and Drone, a proper companion piece to "Black Water/Brown Earth". In some instances like the final track "Ritual In The Hall" it even ascends to the same busy Spiritual Jazz Fusion playfulness.

FUTUROPACO - Fortezza di Vetro Volume 1 (LP) (2023)

The credits for the newest El Paraiso Records release "Fortezza di Vetro" (="Glass Fortress") could hardly be shorter: All songs composed, performed & engineered by Justin Pinkerton / Mastered by Jonas Munk / Artwork [and what a beautiful one again!] by Jakob Skøtt. That's it.

Five years after his self-titled debut the drummer and Library Music composer returns with nine new tracks, on which he continues the groovy, trippy, 70's-cinematic shtick, he already seemed to have perfected back then. But it turns out, that there was still some room for improvement - and be it only that Pinkerton sounds even more like a "real" full band now. Which album contains the actually better compositions, that I cannot determine at this point yet. And I won't even bother to try.

Ultimately this is top-tier instrumental Psychedelic Rock, made very unique by its Italian movie vibes and the super funky drum energy. I coined it Fuzzadelic Spaghetti Fusion in my last review and I still think that's what you should tag it in your music collection. I could actually see this becoming my favortite El Paraiso record of the year, which obviously is quite a high bar to clear. And maybe - depending on my given mood - I'll even fall back from this assessment again, who really cares?

But there surely is something special in the way Futuropaco departs from the of course all-around brilliant, timeless sounds of Causa Sui, Edena Gardens and the London Odense Ensemble. Maybe it is its full dedication to the sound of a certain time frame without actually becoming a carbon copy of its music. I'm not sure. All I know is this is cool, fiery, relaxing perfection - and the added "Volume 1" after the title reads like an exciting promise.


CULT OF LUNA, GGGOLDDD and SLOW CRUSH live at Grünspan, Hamburg (October 24th 2023)

Somehow this tour had only been in the back of my mind as happening somewhere in late October somewhere in Hamburg. Since I had already been quite busy this month I initially didn't even consider going there - until I did. After I realized that I had spend less money on merch than expected so far, I got curious on Monday night. Where was it again? Uebel & Gefährlich? Knust? Ah, Grünspan - haven't been there since December 2017! And even though the venue would be crowded the following night I luckily still got a ticket at around 1 AM.

(Maybe that was due to Paradise Lost also playing in Hamburg the same night - or it was karmatic balance for me missing out on tickets for The Hirsch Effekt coming Saturday, which is very annoying, since they're playing right here in Ruralistan, actually only a couple of minutes from my workplace in Aukrug... damnit.)

Only three hours later - if you don't count sleep, commuting and office- I was already on my way to Hamburg, so I wouldn't miss the quite early doors open.

Speaking of 2017. That was also the year I spontanously decided to change my Roadburn running order and found myself being enchanted by a rather unknown Belgian band on the smallest stage in the Cul de Sac.
Slow Crush have had quite a journey since then, but musically they didn't change their course. So finally meeting them again my perception of the quartet unsurprisingly hasn't changed much. The idea is the same, the execution got better, as the band has gained a lot of  experience and confidence. 

They are still so quintessentially just Heavy Shoegaze that I  can't find much else to say about them. To be honest, the band name really does almost all the work for me. Their show was weighty and weightless, here, now and far away, floating in a faint beautiful dream. Wonderful.

My third time seeing Gggolddd in the flesh - and it has always been different. But since on this tour they were only playing songs from their incredibly moving and important allbum "This Shame Should Not Be Mine" plus their recent EP "PTSD", which follows the same electronic premise, the stylistic gap between the breathtaking "Shame" premiere at Roadburn last year and this recent show wasn't that drastic. There still was one though, because the Dutch band showed up with a sparse line-up of just four members. Switching instruments between synths, electronic drum pads and guitars brought some variety from song to song, but overall this was Gggolddd at their most minimalist (if you don't count unplugged performances).

It suited the material and once again put the presence of singer Milene Eva very much in focus, as she sang about her harsh personal experiences. I loved it, but I must admit that the show didn't resonate with everyone as much. And despite all the respect I feel for this band I hope that they will find back to - not necessarily the Post Everything Rock sound of before, but to a larger format nonetheless. Because as sufficing their approach is right now, their other shows were ultimately much stronger and I don't see very much room for further exploration of this small Electronica incarnation of the band.   

Ok, let's put it out there: Concerning Cult of Luna's studio work I have developed kind of a spoiled snobbish attitude. It's just not quite enough for me to sit down and listen to. Something's missing - and that something's probably for a great part Julie Christmas. Their collaboration and its live performance have raised the bar quite high. But of course the Norwegian wall of Post Metal powerhouse still is a very worthwhile live experience on its own, too.

In this tour package Cult of Luna were also a logical culmination, because it felt like you put the sound of both very different support bands Slow Crush and Gggolddd together - and then put their own ultra heavy hypnotic riff might, epic long track form and Johannes Persson's brutal growl on top of it.
Speaking of the frontman: For a band which always performs as silhouettes, with all the spots and stroboscopic effects pointed at the audience, his stagehand had to readjust his cable and mic stand quite often, because he messed it up during Rock star posing, haha.

Boy, have I been fucking spoiled this month! It sounds and also feels a little arrogant to notice that I've seen at least two - maybe three - shows recently, which were definitely even more colossal than this mountainous Post Metal asteroid. But if you don't have the comparison to Laibach's "Alamut" and Swans yourself and call me a delusional fantasist now - I get it. Because, man, what a force are these six guys!

Cult of Luna (without Julie) still won't be an album band for me soon though. Technically they bring enough variety with interesting rhythmic shifts (always convenient to have two drummers) and atmospheric layering, but apart from my favorite tracks of the night, there's still a lot of stuff, where the songwriting and the constant over the top aggressive yelling just doesn't speak to me much.
It's a huge, enormously impressive facade, which does a fantastic job of intimidating and overwhelming you if you experience it towering in front of you live, but I'm not sure if there's always actually a lot of depth behind it. Or in simpler words: It's just not for always and everwhere for me, so even though I highly enjoyed the show, I was also glad that it ended when it did, just in time before it became a task.

So that was my Tuesday night this week. Pretty awesome. Clearly one of the most well spent this year. Would gladly watch all three bands once again.