Category Archives: Psychedelic Rock

Der Blutharsch And The Infinite Church Of The Leading Hand – Sucht & Ordnung

(WKN, 2016)

At this point of his artistic career, Albin Julius probably is not that interested in answering questions about his musical past under the name Der Blutharsch. After the pretty much total audial transformation of the band (altho certain vibes and attitudes came along for the ride from the previous incarnation of course), the audiences of the group have now been accustomed to the Psychedelic Rock version of Albin’s musical visions, and there is no doubt he will continue to change and progress his musical identity in the future. But right now, we have this new album in our hands.

“Zucht und Ordnung” in German means “Discipline and Order”, a term associated with for example Christian or Fascist authority in society. “Sucht und Ordnung” however means “Addiction and Order”, and as an album stands for quite different mentalities, in its improvised and jamming ways. Recorded live at Pure Sound Studio (Vienna), this album features three songs and about 30 minutes of intense Psychedelic Rock the Der Blutharsch way we have become so familiar with in the recent years. Of course there is s certain discipline and order present in the song structures and performances of the recent material of the band, but nevertheless this is fucking psychedelia, which stands for total assimilation of control.

The album lifts off calmly with moody oriental melodies from the reverberated guitar, backed by ride-cymbals and the ever-expanding synth. But when the drums and basses kick off, I am surprised to hear a Surf Rock beat from the drums, together with an extremely heavy bass jamming sweet melodies with the already jamming distorted guitars. As the song progresses the synths change colour and texture like splashing various paints on a canvas, making me wanna be high as fuck on weed while listening to this song. After a break-like calm sequence the song ends in a sweet rocking beat and high guitar solos, which together with the organ-like synth makes me feel very classic seventies. This is the exact alchemical stuff the godlike albums of old were made from. This band gets it.

The second song starts off more heavy, not quite Doomy but nearly. Here were are introduced to the powerful majestic and almost preaching vocals of Marthynna. There has always been real dominance and sweetness at the same time in her voice, and this song is no different. However, if I was a bit surprised about the Surf Rock drumming in the first song, I am most definitely lifted off my chair when the song turns into a cool intense blast-beat and tremolo-riff driven Blackened kaleidoscope, before sinking again into slower currents. This was something I did quite not see coming from this band, not yet anyway.

The third song is a bit longer than the previous two, starting out really slow, before kicking off with a pretty minimalistic damping guitar riff and steady rocking drum-beat backed with a cool organ-sound and heavily phasing synths. Very classic Stoner (or just ancient Progressive) stuff here, staring at the night sky in the desert high on mushrooms. Marthynna’s chanting vocals fit the song again very well, as do the electrified howling effects taking the hypnotic riffing further into the mind’s eye. The song starts to fade towards the end only making an intense comeback, giving me spiralling chills down my spine. A very steady and well made song ending the album in extremely positive vibes.

In this age of music softwares one tends to forget the awesome power and magic of organic music. This album is a must for all fans of the previous albums of the band (especially after the musical “transformation”), and for all fans of hypnotic, psychedelic and hallucinatory jamming music in general. This album is my personal favourite among the band’s discography of the last five years.

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Der Blutharsch And The Infinite Church Of The Leading Hand – The Wolvennest Sessions

(WKN, 2015)

Albin Julius, whose releases (and words) have appeared in this blog before, has during the years indeed marvelously managed to transform his Martial Industrial Ambient band Der Blutharsch into a full-on trippy Psychedelic Prog Rock experience, while still maintaining the unique and original personality of the band despite the change of style. This album contains three songs and about 40mins of studio material recorded in 2014, having (as was the case with the previous album “Joyride”) the improvised groove of live material.

The first song “Out Of Darkness Deep” starts off with very Dark Ambient-like sensations, with murky sounds of low frequencies and an ominous electronic synth loop, before the guitars and organs enter scene, also in a very trance-like and repeating kind of way, satisfyingly familiar and typical to the nature of the band. As the percussions and basses step forth almost in a marching manner, enlivening the guitars as well, the song turns into Martial and Tribal-sounding states, before the more Rock-oriented drums, distorted guitars and Marthynna’s vocals enter the scene, metamorphing yet further into a slow Psychedelic Rock song. The sounds are at this point so heavy, the word Doom could be added to describe the atmospheres, but the term Psychedelia still fits the music the best. Heavy Psychedelia that is.

The guitar-solos flow for an awesomely long time, like an ongoing hash and/or mushroom-enhanced love-making session, while the drums change little in performance, giving the truly trance-infusing effect to the song, while the only thing keeping us from totally sinking into forgetfulness is Marthynna’s voice and the always cool lyrics it performs. Weird spoken samples end the song in style, and the second song “Unreal” begins with again monotonous and Doomy distorted guitars and eerie vintage organs, again slowly growing into a Rock song with the addition of the simple yet effective drums. The quite melodic vocals paint a melancholic and etherial feeling, enhancing the riffs. The atmosphere of the song is not as Psychedelic as of the first song, being more Pop-like (if possible) in nature, while again being really captivating in nature and heavy in production.

The third song “Evil Love” starts with quite a fast played distorted tremolo riff, reminding of Punk or even Black Metal (certain woodsy Norwegian cassette-demos of the early nineties come to my mind), as the beat presents the quite cold skeleton of the song, and we can’t indeed but experience strong feeling of slow nineties Black Metal, with only Marthynna’s vocals and weird synth-leads taking the feeling to the Psychedelia of the rest of the album. A very cool song as well.

The general sound and mix of the songs are very 70’ies sounding, giving an authentic Krautrock feeling of being recorded totally with analogue equipment. Once again the band delivers trips of genuine Psychedelic proportions, a bit more heavy (or even Metal-oriented) than the previous releases, but still the guaranteed (controversial?) quality strangeness of Der Blutharsch only Albin Julius can deliver.

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Der Blutharsch And The Infinite Church Of The Leading Hand – Joyride

(WKN, 2015)

If you need introductions to the music of Albin Julius and Der Blutharsch, you should check out my review of his previous EP “Sous l’Arbre De Science”, as well as my interview with the man, from the pages of this very emag/blog. I received this album as a physical promo from Albin, something that doesn’t happen very often when considering the underground nature of this publication, which was a huge honour. It is also quite cool to think I’m writing this review of this (quite transformed) band now after at least 15 years of hearing Albin’s music for the first time. After lighting some strong incense, I put the album on with a good amount of volume in my hazy apartment, and let the trip begin.

The Joyride starts off with “Drive Me Far”, with it’s quite eerie-sounding deep synthetic basses, squeling noises, and tingling chimes, creating a deep psychedelic atmosphere instantly. After awhile Marthynna’s familiar strong spoken vocals enter the scene with their narrative and poetic psychedelic lines. The ride is at the same time hypnotic in a monotonous way, and at the same vivid with different visions the lyrics produce, like sitting (usually) comfortably at the seat of the convertible of the cover art, taking us deeper into the psychedelic space which is this album.

The second song “Sea Of Love” continues with the synthetic bass-lines and spoken vocals, now introducing a very damp and musty sounding guitar, coming straight from some low-fi yet totally cult 60’ies record. The bass frequencies are at times so low, you can easily physically feel the music from the speakers. The term Krautrock comes again relevant when dwelling in the trancelike states this music produces, and the advice in the sleeve of the covers “For maximum listening pleasure only listen when chemically imbalanced!” makes a lot of sense.

The third song “Falling Out Of Time” continues with the drony psychedelic guitar-sensations, going a bit more groovy in the riffing, now backed up by very retro and authentic (of course) sounding drums, almost inaudible in the background but still very strongly present. This stuff, in all it’s (at a first glance) minimalism, makes your body move in a dreamy dance. The guitars swirl with such amount of phasing flange, they alone are guaranteed to keep you firmly seated on this trip.

The fourth song “Cold Freedom” chills us down a bit with it’s mellow cool percussions, and more easy guitar-sounds, staying highly psychedelic still, with it’s Eastern sitars, violins and almost wailing wah-wah guitars making visible patterns in the air. Marthynna’s vocals are still the same, yet fitting all of the music with ease. The fifth song “Mighty Might” (a song that I’d heard earlier) is more analogue-synthlike and playful in it’s nature than the previous songs, with it’s again Funky guitars and weird strings creating a feeling of a huge mushroom smile.

The sixth song “Resume!” is a transitional piece with looping basses, synths and guitars, preparing us for the seventh song “Innocent” which consists of extremely low basses and pulsing thudding synth-bass-lines hidden quite deep in the background, while the song moves in it’s ominous steady pace towards it’s mind-altering destiny. Marthynna’s vocals show all their potential in ways that give you deep insights. The eighth song “Reach The Stars” is again a bit more playful and groovy tune, showing well how the group functions as a more repeating and trancelike entity as well as as a band jamming away. The ninth song “Not Quite Evil” takes us again to Eastern lands with it’s percussions, sitars, backed up by a very cool organ and roaring stoner guitar.

The album ends with much style in the more martial sounding “Immolate My Dreams”, with it’s almost militaristic drum-beats, on top of the trademark soundscapes of this album, perhaps going a bit nostalgic considering the beginnings of this amazing band. As the album ends in a massive drony bassy wave of sound, you are left with a feeling of wanting the trip to go on and on..

It is hard to name a favourite track among the ten, since they all have their unique cool atmosphere, while creating the whole experience of the album with style. The amount of atmosphere and psychedelia (besides the numerous awesome musical ideas) this album contains and creates is immense. I highly recommend it to anyone into psychedelic music of any kind, and if the Krautrock-mentalities of the 60’ies appeal to you, this might be the album of your dreams. And yes, I heartily suggest to “only listen when chemically imbalanced!”.

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Anthony Donovan & JOHN 3:16 – Of The Hex And Its Likeness

(Flood Records, 2015)

This project created by the two talented multi-instrumentalists and conjurers of sound namely Anthony Donovan (an England-based artist and musician with experience in working with the likes of John Zorn and Damo Suzuki) and Philippe Gerber (of JOHN 3:16 among other things, a French musician living in the States with similarly vast amount of experience from working with sound especially in live circumstances) is a match made in Psychedelic Ambient heaven.

From the beginning of the first song, I have stepped into an immensely Psychedelic world of various shamanic trance-like sounds (not trance-producing but like being on a trip already). I feel like sitting by an electric fire in a dark jungle surrounded with Ayahuasca-like visions, but with the traditional Amazonian shamanic musical soundscapes replaced by for example the sounds of the saxophone and an eerie Lynchian guitar in my close-eyed consciousness, I feel like observing scenes of Jazz-clubs and ominous motels. From the first minutes of this album I know these guys know splendidly well how to produce inner cinematic scenes of truly trippy qualities.

The other five songs continue along the same lines (while adding more traditional Psychedelic Rock elements to the mix), being made of several unique parts and scenes of sounds. The amount of different sounds (and even perhaps instruments) on this record is really admirably vast, yet all the low and high, damp and clear, low-fi and upscale, swirling and steadily gliding noises, hisses and choirs of buzzes, chimes, clanks, clicks, thuds, bleeps, and especially the distorted and more acoustic guitars and basses and various synth-sounds, as well as different percussion-sounds plus other effects, fit the overall feeling of the album perfectly, producing extremely dreamlike and vivid visions.

The programmed drums and percussions often sound like being performed by a third member (a percussionist) while Phillippe and Anthony work their magic with their trademark heavily filtered guitars, basses, keyboards and the like. There is also a strong live-atmosphere to the songs (reminding of the vast experience both men have from performing around the world), which gets interrupted only by the sudden changes of the scenes contained on this album divided into six parts. The singing, speaking, whispering, preaching and screaming voices performed by Anthony fit the soundscapes really well, sometimes acting as the voice of the shaman guiding you on this trip, but usually transforming into some entity encountered on the many deep journeys these songs consists of.

I’m not even trying to categorize this music due to its vast array of styles and feelings, but if you are into styles such as Ambient, Noise, Experimental, Psychedelic Rock (especially of the Kraut-nature) and in the same time a fan of extremely cinematic and soundtrack-like Jazzy and Lynchian feelings, rest assured you will not be disappointed by this album.

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Josef Dvorak Feat. Fuckhead + Der Blutharsch And The Infinite Church Of The Leading Hand – Sous l’Arbre De Science

(WKN, 2014)

It has been years since Albin Julius went totally Psychedelic with his previously more Martial-sounding band Der Blutharsch, but there are still aspects in the music reminiscent of the previous incarnations, namely the Ambient, cinematic and soundtrack-like elements and general unerring atmosphere. In other words, the latest recordings still sound like Der Blutharsch above all else.

This collaboration-release with the Viennese “Satanologist” (and co-founder of the art-movement  Wiener Aktionismus) Josef Dvorak, and Viennese Experimental Electronic Performance artists Fuckhead, offers partly Ritualistic Ambient sceneries of sound, partly slow-moving (or a bit faster) seventies- and eighties-sounding Rock with strong old-school Electronic elements. Some organic-sounding percussion-sounds and other effects spice up the mix of otherwise quite Psychedelic guitar, bass, and synth-oriented experience. All the sounds are nicely of very vintage nature. The speeches of Josef Dvorak fit the music very well, or vice versa.

For all fans of the previous work of Albin Julius, or lovers of vintage (or “retro”) Psychedelia of Rock and Electronic nature, this release is worthy of purchase in Mini-CD or 10” formats, while waiting for a possible next full-length album and other future adventures of Albin Julius (and comrades).

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Spectral Haze – I.E.V.: Transmutated Nebula Remains

(Soulseller Records, 2014)

Spectral Haze from Olso is only a couple of years old as a band, but the members have been playing in other Norwegian Doom, Stoner and Black Metal bands for quite some time.

They must have some killer herb (and other substances) in Norway, cuz the amount of quality Psychedelic Stoner bands seems to be quite big.

In the first song the music flows naturally in a groove which brings classic stuff like Iron Butterfly and even Jimi Hendrix to my mind, while the soundscapes remind me of Hawkwind. When we reach the second song, the Hawkwind-influences are very apparent, in a good way. At the beginning of third song the jamming goes so heavy (almost violent and chaotic), the trip turns into a bit anxious, but then comes along a riff banging like “Detroit Rock City” and takes your ship back to orbit. These are pretty much the feelings we will be spending this journey into the deep cosmos.

The bass pounds heavy and low, like in the heavy modern Doom bands, while the guitars are surprisingly thin and filled with a lot of flange and phasing effects, skilfully played, reminding of sixties above all else. The drumming sounds also as if recorded in the sixties (mostly pretty fast jamming full of cool fills, but sometimes slows down to more Rocking pace, or really slow Doom), and the natural talents evident in the playing is very reminiscent of that era as well. The vocals sound very authentic and British, like a mixture of Robert Calvert and Marillion’s Fish.

These dudes know how to create the necessary groove as a band. I’m guessing they function amazingly well on stage as well. The amount of awesome riffs on this release is staggering. There’s basically not a single boring part on this album. Like a 45 min trip, it definitely keeps you in it’s spacy grip, if you wanna listen to this amount of Psychedelia on one sitting.

This is heavy psychedelia, which appeals to you only if you can handle stuff like the biggest influences here (did I mention Hawkwind yet?) with a satisfied grin on your face. For those looking for more chilled (or ultra heavy) modern Doom or Stoner, will be disappointed. This stuff is energetic and old man, as old and energetic as Altamont.

8.5/10 – Antti Mikonmäki

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