There’s a serious groove that permeates each track on Justin Pinkerton’s debut record as Furturopaco. Not the typical groove, though. This album has an aged vibe to it that makes it feel both like some lost, sweaty acid-fueled Ennio Morricone score; as well as some Goblin recording session fueled by a night of over consumption of The Doors and some ultra fine vino. With a gig as the drummer of psych rock outfit Golden Void, Pinkerton lays down 9 tracks like he’s got something to prove(he doesn’t.) The results are a stunning debut of heft, melody, and enough groove to get our bell bottoms and funky jean jackets moving all night long.
Futuropaco is tight. There’s no space not filled and no forward motion wasted here. Pinkerton is not a stranger to 60s psych, and that essence is still alive and well here, but there’s a more regal feel. “Fantasma Arancione” sounds like a cross between Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad’s Luke Cage S/T, if Luke Cage had taken place in some neo-futuristic Tuscany instead of Harlem. The rhythm section just grabs you and doesn’t let go. “La Tore Cade” sounds like Lalo Schifrin scoring Umberto Lenzi with The Doors. “Bambino Tiranno” simmers in melancholy like Walter Rizzati attempting a counter-culture version of “Adagio in G Minor”. “Seppelire Fascisti” sounds like Queens of the Stone Age on a Goblin kick.
There’s a real sense that you’ve entered into some alternate reality with this record. A place where cobblestone streets lead you down narrow corridors and faint streetlights barely save you from being consumed by late night shadows. A faint buzz works its way into your brain, making solid decision making difficult. It’s like being under the influence of some unknown substance and letting the urge to succumb to it win. Moonlight and unfiltered cigarettes lead the way into the unknown. “Fuoco Palude” is the music that plays as you step into the unknown. Rock and roll meets the mystical as that street leads to your destiny.
Pinkerton really blurs the line when it comes to genres here. 60s Italian film music, psych rock, and baroque pop meld together to form some hybrid genre that grabs you by the brain stem and pulls until you see brightly lit colors. “Peste Rossa” is all groove with tasteful synths laid over top like some kaleidoscope of colors and freakouts. “Ballare Sulla Tua Tomb” is a dainty, tasteful ending to this trip. A sonically dense mix of wah-wah guitar, synthesizer, and an underlying melody that feels like end credit music. Our tour of Italy is ending, but the sonic scars will remain.
Futuropaco will feel like revisiting some elegant dream from long ago. A dream where you drove a silver Fiat through the Italian countryside in search of nothing in-particular. Danger around every corner, an elevated sense of groove and purpose, and a need to strut in fine Italian loafers. Justin Pinkerton as Futuropaco has laid the groundwork for future grooves to come. Gritty, psychedelic, and full of purpose.
Connecticut’s Landing are a band that seem to evolve and reshape with every new album. On their 2015 El Paraiso Records debut Third Sight it was a slightly psychedelic, slightly ambient affair with hints of delicate dream pop thrown in for good measure. But the velveteen hushes on that great album were just a fraction of the sonic world Landing have haunted for what is now nearly 20 years of making records, seemingly under the radar. The husband and wife duo of Aaron and Adrienne Snow met in college back in the 90s and found partners in art, as well as life, in each other. Along with Daron Gardner and several contributors over the years, which now includes John Bent, Landing has explored everything from 90s indie rock to Komische to late 80s 4AD titans over several self-released albums and EPs.
Landing is the best band you may have never heard of.
On their second release for the Danish El Paraiso Records Landing have reeled in the hushed ambient tones and woozy psychedelia for a more driving sound. Bells In New Towns recalls everything from Neu! to Dinosaur Jr to Ride to Lush, all of which goes into the Landing machine and comes out through buzzing amps and monitors as something slightly new and off kilter. There’s a real urgency in the driving rhythms and bass lines that make this record an all out summer record. There’s still plenty of contemplative moods here, but this one also really rocks.
Right out of the gate, Bells In New Towns changes things up from last time. “Nod” opens the album in an explosion of drums and distorted bass that sounds like a decidedly louder and more rocking shift from last time. Wavering electronics hang in the air as Adrienne’s vocals faintly tease over music that would’ve been right at home on MBV’s Glider or Tremolo EPs. Aaron’s tenure in shoegaze/dream pop band Kindling might’ve rubbed off onto this amazing track. “By Two” feels slightly more wistful, with airy keys and acoustic guitar opening the song. The vocals and drums come in and give the track a more driving feel. Long car rides and contemplation seem proper to go with a song like this. “Gravitational VII” is an exquisite synth piece. It feels like getting lost along the way in a glowing cloud of memories. Hallucinatory, but in the best way possible. “Bright” is all out driving, motorik beats with heady synthesizer giving the impression we’ve traveled back to Berlin, circa 1974. It sounds like Kraftwerk-inspired shoegaze.
Bells In New Towns, even with more pop-oriented tracks, feels more exploratory than even the ambient tones of Third Sight. There’s a feeling of movement on this record. A forward motion into the unknown. Landing sounds like a rock band here. Not that they weren’t a rock band, but these tracks push that notion right into your ears.
There are moments of hazy contemplation, though. A track like “Secret” has the artful spirit of Popul Vuh mixed with the dream pop grandeur of The Besnard Lakes, while “Gravitational VIII” pushes those analog dreams further into your brain with synthesizer circuits dotting your cerebral cortex. “Fallen Name”, however, is an absolutely gorgeous pop track. Lilting like the best Yo La Tengo but dreamy like Auburn Lull, the track achieves a certain kind of personal transcendence not often found nowadays. On the flip side, “Wait Or Hide” is both jagged guitar and psychedelia rolled into one. Slightly more Sebadoh than Dino Jr. The tranquil “Second Sight” closes out the record with chiming sonics and big sky openness.
With Bells In New Towns, Landing turn up the amps and the urgency in their songs. Where Third Sight was like a waking dream, Bells is wide awake and forward motion to something, or someone, of significance. This album sounds and feels like a classic indie rock record in the making.
I came to Connecticut’s Landing by way of Denmark. We met up in a pub called El Paraiso Records, had a few pints, got to know each other, and now they are fast becoming a favorite ghost that haunts my skull. Thanks El Paraiso for introducing us. I have to say I’m a bit embarrassed that I hadn’t ever heard of Landing before 2016, but sometimes that’s just how it goes. You sometimes never notice the best view is right from your backyard. Not that Connecticut can be seen from my Midwest perch, but you get the gist.
To say Landing is a prolific band is an understatement. They’ve been putting out various full-lengths, EPs, and ambient sound excursions for 20 years now. The husband/wife duo of Aaron and Adrienne Snow, Daron Gardner, John Bent, and other capable creative types over the years have been churning out a kaleidoscope of dream pop, psych, shoegaze, ambient, and anything else 4AD or Sire would’ve happily released back in the heyday of early 80s alternative. Despite the sometimes hallucinogenic effect their woozy guitar and synth waves may cause, there’s always an underpinning of pop and melody(thanks to the capable and dreamy vocals Adrienne adds.) If you’ve ever melted into the darkened corner of your bedroom as you pined for that dark-haired guy or gal in Physics class listening to early Cure, Cocteau Twins, Siouxsie and the Banshess, Spacemen 3, Jesus and Mary Chain or My Bloody Valentine, then Landing is going to be your new favorite band.
As I was saying, I was introduced to Landing by way of Danish record label El Paraiso Records. Co-label head Jonas Munk had been a fan of Landing for years and decided he wanted to work with them. The collaboration was Landing’s 2016 record Third Sight(Impetus 25, if you’re keeping count.) It was a mix of psychedelic ambient and hazy dream pop. It was a stellar LP and a beautiful first collaboration between prolific band and prolific record label. Nearly two years later Landing are readying their next record with El Paraiso titled Bells In New Towns. They’ve dropped their lead single and opening track called “Nod”. If “Nod” is any indication, Landing are turning up the intensity and it’s a hell of a good fit.
“Nod” opens in a blaze of drums, bass, and wavering synth. Where Third Sight was very much floating on a cloud of pink and purple into the ether, “Nod” has Dino Jr drive. Everything blurs into a fuzzy riff that explodes into an almost Lush feel, courtesy of Adrienne’s vocals. There’s an aggressive quality here that was absent before. This sounds like rock band exploding at the seams. Landing still adds plenty of dreamy, psychedelic heft within the buzzing bass-heavy track, but there’s no mistaking this for anything but a hell of a rock and roll banger.
I think with “Nod”, Landing have taken their sound to the next level. I’m hoping to share a few more pints with them as well.
Bells In New Towns arrives on May 4th via El Paraiso Records. Preorder the album here.
The first album I ever bought from the Danish record label El Paraiso was the debut album from skronky psych jammers Psicomagia. They were a collaboration between bands Astra and Radio Moscow, two prolific bands in their own right. With Psicomagia they combined the groovy psych escapism of Radio Moscow’s buzzing sound and Astra’s booming escapism and epic crawls to some existential drift into this mystical whoosh of voodoo psych that felt part desert incantation and part psilocybin fever dream with a hefty dose of South American rhythms and poetry. Imagine John Coltrane freaking the hell out with an Afro Cuban-inspired Blue Cheer in an Aztec temple during a blood moon and you’re on your way to getting Psicomagia.
I’m not quite sure how I found myself asking my local record shop to get me in a copy of Psicomagia, but I did. I believe an acquaintance of an acquaintance might’ve recommended it on the third Tuesday in a rainy October in 2013. Or I was possibly visited by the ancient spirits of Alf and Dana Plato after a night of heavy thinking(or drinking) and they told me of this thing called “Psicomagia”. Either way it went down, I did end up getting my hands on a copy of this debut record and I was immediately blown away. It was a whole new vibe to me. The combination of drums, bass, organ, and saxophone(no guitars, guys), along with the spoken word poetry was like being transported into outer space via Mayan ruins and a psych rock explosion.
When a band names themselves after the term Alejandro Jodorowsky self-branded his style of mystical healing through art and film, you know these cats mean business. The band consists of Tyler Daughn on organs and synthesizers, Brian Ellis on tenor saxophone, Paul Marrone on drums, Trevor Mast on bass, and Bernardo Nuñez reading poetry. Take the best parts of Coltrane’s final five years in this plane, his heady spiritual explorations and far-reaching sound explosions, along with serious Detroit rock grooves and prog keys, and Psicomagia you have.
So are you thinking to yourself, “Hey, would I like this?” Well, that’s a good question. Let me throw a couple questions back at you. Have you ever found yourself longing to get lost in some spiritual black hole, leaving a trail of regrets and dreams in order to find your way back out of it? Has the idea of inter-dimensional time skipping ever crossed your mind? Has there ever been a moment in your existence while contemplating the universe under a star-streaked open sky that you thought to yourself “The answers are up there.”? Have you ever let a shaman walk you through your own past and show you your future all the while sitting motionless in a buffalo hide lean-to somewhere lost in the desert? Has music ever cracked open your skull and allowed the cosmos to sink in let you bask in its infinite beauty?
If you answered yes to any of these, then I’d say you should put Psicomagia into your brain as quickly as possible, as you’re missing an integral element in your DNA make up. If you answered no these questions, then you still may dig this record. If you closed the browser screen after that first question I’d say this one may be a little too “dense” for you.
Listen, throw in some Coltrane, some Mahavishnu Orchestra, some acid-burnt garage rock, some blazing psych rock, and a smattering of forward-thinking fusion and you’ve got yourself Psicomagia. “El Memorioso” is like a glass of abisnthe with a tequila chaser. It’s a groovy exorcism that instead of pulling a spirit out, it puts a thousand years of soul in. “El Congreso part 1” and “El Congreso part 2” are a nearly 28-minute suite of organ and synth-fueled madness. Bernardo Nuñez lays on some thick-tongued voodoo that feels like an out-of-body experience as the rhythm section feels like tectonic plates grinding underneath your feet. The keys fill in for whatever guitar freakout would’ve fit in nicely. It’s an outer space jam that feels at the same time like ancient, Mother Earth tomes.
It’s Friday. Time to put some heady tunes in your skull. Psicomagia has you covered.
It was very early 2014. I recall I’d just been introduced to the wonderful world of Causa Sui and El Paraiso Records, the home of the Danish four-piece which is run by Causa Sui’s Jonas Munk and Jakob Skott. I was still pretty wet behind the ears when it came to what I would find out would be a treasure trove of musical delights, so when the announcement came of the impending release of Jakob Skott’s Amor Fati I wasn’t quite sure what that was. I listened to the title track and put my preorder in. As soon as that album arrived I knew I’d be a fan for life. Skott had a sound all his own. I’ve expressed my admiration for the man and his music time and time again on this site for the past nearly four years, but I don’t think I could ever truly explain how his records have rewired my brain.
There’s the sci fi leanings in the look of the album covers as well as the album titles and song titles, which gives the albums this cosmic, otherworldly feel. Anything sci fi wets my whistle. But of course you can’t be all looks and no brains. Jakob Skott started his solo album career with the heady, analog-drenched synth classic Doppler. It was all warm, bubbly synth that brought to my mind Boards of Canada. But then with Amor Fati he created this synth/drum dual of sorts. A synthetic/organic orgy of man vs machine. Skott is a prolific drummer to begin with. His style is heavily groove-oriented, but not in a Bernard Purdie sort of way. Kind of like Keith Moon, Tony Williams, and Stewart Copeland fused their styles together and added a touch of alien DNA. There’s power, but a hell of a lot of finesse. Skott took his drum skills and combined them with his analog synth patches to create this amazing coming together of synthetic and organic musical storytelling.
His records are really like nothing I’ve ever heard.
You can’t go “Well, Amor Fati reminds me of(insert artist here) with a touch of (insert album here.)” I’m sure Skott was influenced by someone or something in his life which led him to making these amazing records, but I’ll be damned if I can pinpoint them. It’s not often you come across someone building a sound and vibe all their own that feels like a true original. His records are like this mix of spacebo jazz fusion heavily circuited with analog warmth and Isaac Asimov dreams.
In 2014 Skott released both Amor Fati and Taurus Rising, a monolithic one-two punch of groovy spaced-out rhythms and hazy, heady galactic vibes. Then in the spring of 2016 he laid on our ears the excellent All The Colours Of The Dust. This one seemed to bring together all that had come before with a newfound confidence and vision that if it was the last of its kind, mankind could disintegrate into the burnt terra firma knowing they’d heard all they needed to hear.
Ashes to ashes, dust to coloured dust.
Okay, maybe that’s a bit much. You must forgive me, this record came to my ears at a decidedly strange time. I was off work on medical leave healing from back surgery. When I first heard All The Colours Of The Dust I was home on a semi-regular dose of Norco and muscle relaxers in between naps and pots of coffee. Under the influence, Skott’s record felt like a revelation. There was ample cabin fever going on as the kids were all in school and my wife was working. I couldn’t yet venture downstairs or drive so I was stuck upstairs in the living room spinning albums and staring out the window curious about the hole that was healing in my back.
The album opens with the epic “Age Of Isotopes”. It begins in a cacophony of drums and noise before locking into a heavy groove. There’s almost this island vibe as the drums sway along to the woozy synths. In a semi-medicated state this song feels like pushing the boundaries of reality. The song starts to speed up as a storm of chaos builds to a crescendo. The song slows to a point where you think you’re melting into the universe. The song seems to find some resolution as it comes to its conclusion.
This is how you start an album, people.
Before I get all the D.A.R.E. folks and Nancy Reagan “say no to drugs” trolls in an uproar because of the pain meds talk, I was recovering from surgery, okay? Besides, I’m listening to this album right now and its equally mindblowingly-good sober(though, with a lager or two you’ll be in heaven.)
“Face Peradam” sounds like a space jam of epic proportions. Skott lays down some serious drums as the synths bubble and pop with an almost 80s sound. The wavering synths in the background give off a more pop feel, but don’t think this song doesn’t give off heady vibes. It does.
Side B opens with a massive explosion of groove, vibe, and attitude with the excellent “The Variable”. Skott doesn’t like to say he’s a good keyboard player, but man he’s got a knack for creating serious melodies. It’s not about technical skill as much as it is about feel and nuance. Jakob Skott creates aural worlds with the best of the Komische alumni. “The Variable” rides on a musical conversation between drums and synth. It’s a conversation where you may not know what words are being said but the intention of the conversation is well established. Throw some headphones on or you’ll be doing this song and your ears a disservice. The layers of sound make their presence known when wearing some cans on your cabeza. The stereo field comes alive with the drums living in the middle as skronky synth structures waver from left to right.
“Iron Nebula”. Just saying that makes me feel giddy. It’s this heady, sci fi language Skott uses that makes his records so magical. Is this “Nebula” Skott speaks of the dust the album is named after? Who knows. What I can say is that this song has some seriously Afro-Cuban vibes. Not only is there layers of keyboard goodness but Jakob Skott makes this incredible rhythmic track that is part ‘Trio of Doom’ and part “Manteca” with a heady dose of Ice-9 thrown in for good measure. Right here is Skott’s magic in concentrate. Nobody is making this music. Just Jakob Skott. Is it something in the Danish beer? Is the Odense soil filled with galactic minerals? I guess only the Iron Nebula knows for sure.
“All The Colours” closes out the album. Jakob Skott isn’t going to end the album on a laid back note. Seriously dirty space grooves kick in to take us out with a bang. It’s like Electric Miles took a hit of some seriously banging alien weed with Can in 1969 and got lost somewhere between here and the Milky Way. The track slows to a mellow crawl before dissipating into the ether.
So there you have it, my long-winded ode to one of my favorite albums of 2016. Or 2017. Or 1916. Jakob Skott is a one-of-a-kind composer/musician/righteous dude that to my ears has created the spacebo analog synth fusion. Or space jazz synth rock. Improv synth fusion. Whatever you want to name it, just play that shit LOUD.
Throw any of Jakob Skott’s records on and I’ll shake your hand. I’ll buy you a beer. I’ll make you the best damn barbeque chicken pizza you’ve ever had. Though out of all his incredible albums All The Colours Of The Dust holds a very special place in my heart and mind. A place that’s kind of hazy and foggy and tinged with a bit of melancholy for me. It was a soundtrack for being alone and cabin fever and healing. It was a soundtrack to getting on when getting on was a bit painful.
The right name can say a hell of a lot. The right name can say it all, really. Take Mythic Sunship, for example. That’s a name that leaves its mark. When it rolls off the tongue it feels as if it’s a statement of defining purpose. I imagine if there was an actual Mythic Sunship scooting across the galaxy that it would hold Gods and super beings with the secrets of the universe. They’d be traveling from world to world attempting to right wrongs and espouse knowledge that could help beings make their worlds better places.
As it happens, there really is a Mythic Sunship. They’re a four-piece improvisational rock outfit from Copenhagen, Denmark. The band consists of Emil Thorenfeldt, Frederik Denning, Kasper Andersen, and Rasmus “Cleaver” Christensen. They fly high on a wave of snarling, atmospheric noise that brings to mind both early Mogwai, Blue Cheer, and Black Sabbath; to free-thinking jazz Gods like John Coltrane, Pharaoh Sanders, and Sun Ra. They lay the riffage on thick, but leave room for mind expansion and serious inner exploration. From their debut Ouroboros to last year’s Land Between Rivers the band expanded and honed their sound exponentially. Now with their newest record(and third release for El Paraiso Records) Upheaval, Mythic Sunship seem to have reached a newfound high when it comes to their brand of molten improvisational post/doom rock.
I got the chance to talk to the guys about the band, their music, and how after 500 titles they finally arrived on Mythic Sunship for a name.
J. Hubner: So tell me about Mythic Sunship? How did you guys get together?
Frederik: I think that back then, Rasmus was the only one playing in another band. Coincidentally he didn’t join Mythic Sunship until much later, when his other band was no more. Originally it was just Emil, Kasper and me jamming. Our first time together must have been 2009 or 2010. Our debut concert was in 2010 at least. As anyone who’s heard our first CD-R will be able to testify we were horrible back then.
Emil: I still have a soft spot for ‘Colour out of Space’, the cassette we released in 2011. Fittingly enough, the two jams on that tape were the two very first 100% improvised tracks we ever recorded.
Frederik: We were just back jamming yesterday and something actually struck me, while we were playing: I think all of us have developed a lot as instrumentalists while playing in Mythic Sunship. Before playing in the band, I had never played drums, and I basically learned playing drums by playing with Emil, Kasper and later Rasmus. I think the same goes for Emil and – to some extent – Rasmus too. Kasper was already a very good guitarist when we started out, but would likely also say that he has developed a lot in Mythic Sunship. So what this boils down to is that we’ve basically learned to play our instruments playing in Mythic Sunship. When people tell me that they think I’m a good drummer (it does actually happen), I just shake my head in disbelief. I imagine myself playing in any other band, and I would probably suck. I don’t think I’ll ever play drums in any other band, so I’ll never know, but I really think that our situation in that sense is very unique. We’ve developed this style of playing our instruments that is so significantly Mythic Sunship that it fits very well in the band and together, but would probably fit very poorly in other bands. This is also the reason that if you took anyone in the band and replaced them with a far better musician, the band would get significantly worse.
Rasmus: Yeah, so I joined the Sunship in late 2014. And I think Frederik is right about our evolution as a band. I picked up playing music very late in my youth and wasn’t a very good bass player in my first band. Mythic Sunship was only the second band I joined. I guess growing as musicians simultaneously and together probably makes for a more cohesive band in the end.
J. Hubner: Can you tell me how you decided upon the name Mythic Sunship? Has a real “out there” feel to it. Free jazz, acid, and very freak scene.
Frederik: Honestly, I don’t think anyone remembers. Emil has said before that we went through probably 500 names until we came up with Mythic Sunship which none of us particularly hated. At that time that was a huge success. El Paraiso made up a great story about the name stemming from Coltrane and Sun Ra titles. In retrospect that sounds perfect.
J. Hubner: Your records are all instrumental. There’s a lot of that coming out of Denmark which I love. As I get older I find myself gravitating towards instrumental music. Seems to be more room for interpretation for the listener. Was it a conscious decision to go the instrumental route, or was it that no one wanted to sing?
Frederik: Very conscious. We always knew that we wanted to play music with a certain element of improvisation to it, and we have been 100% improv almost from day one. We used to plan out our jams a bit more, discussing how and when we wanted it to peak for example. Maybe we had a simple riff we wanted to play halfway through. It was horrendous. A big part of it probably was due to the fact that we (except for Kasper) couldn’t really play our instruments back then, but largely it’s just not what the band is about. We’ve found that every time we try to write something down or make some kind of agreement before we start it always ends up sucking. We tried “writing” a riff once, when we recorded ‘Ouroboros’ and it’s as painful to listen to as it was to play. It ended up being the worst recording from the entire session by a very wide margin.
Rasmus: If you want to make music, and you’re not a songwriter, and you don’t have anything in particular you want to express with words, I don’t see a reason not to just play instrumental music. I find it so hard to write lyrics, and most of the music I listen to is instrumental anyway, so for me it’s the most natural thing.
J. Hubner: Who are some artists you guys are pulling inspiration from; be it bands, musicians, writers, filmmakers, or painters.
Frederik: One of the things that is great about the dynamic in the band is that we are all huge music nerds, but with slightly different preferences. Personally, I’ve listened to a lot of jazz the past 10 years. In some periods exclusively. So for me I actually find much more inspiration in jazz than rock. What I like about the band is that there is no idea of: “Let’s play something that sounds like Black Sabbath, but jazzy” or anything like that. When we rehearse, of course we have discussions about how we can evolve our musical expression, but in the end, we just start playing, and all we’ve agreed upon is the key we play in. This means that it’s basically just the four of us bringing whatever musical inspirations we have to the table. We don’t overthink it, we just play some rock. And yeah, that’s what I like about this band. It always feels fresh and very pure in some sense. I’ve played in other bands were we have played more traditional songs, like indie-rock bands and that sort, and in those bands it never really made sense to play if it wasn’t targeting an audience in the end. With Mythic Sunship it would still be great to play in the band even if we didn’t play another concert ever. Though of course, specifically playing live is the best thing about the band by far.
Emil: In addition to what Frederik said, some of my specific references would be Can, Grateful Dead, Bardo Pond, Sonny Sharrock, and noisy Japrock like Mainliner or Fushitsusha.
Rasmus: Yeah, what Frederik and Emil Said. Also, It’s hard for me to play improvised rock without being just a little influenced by especially Grateful Dead and some of the Japanese and German 70’s jam bands of the Japrock and Kraut scenes, as Emil suggests. I also dig a lot of classic rock and draw inspiration for bass licks and styles of playing from that. But mostly I would compare our way of structuring the music and the interplay between the instruments to that branch of jazz, that’s built around collective improvisation but still holds on to a groovy, bluesy feeling – Charles Mingus, Ornette Coleman, mid-60’s Coltrane, that sort of thing.
Frederik: I never listened to a Grateful Dead record in my life, so there you go.
Rasmus: That’s not true. We’ve listened to it many times in the cabin. So maybe you are under the influence…
J. Hubner: I suppose we’ll have to leave the Grateful Dead mystery for the next interview, though I wouldn’t mind hearing you guys cover “New Speedway Boogie” at some point. But about the Sunship’s sound, I feel that it’s this massive wall of noise that just engulfs you. Part punk rock, part post-rock, and all sonic devastation. The band has been dubbed as “anaconda rock”. For the person not in-the-know, can you describe Sunship’s sound? And where did the “anaconda rock” moniker come from?
Frederik: I can understand that experience, and it somehow relates a lot to my answer above. You know, just four guys playing whatever they feel with whatever inspirations they have at the moment. I think you are very right that what makes up our sound is super eclectic – meaning at least the elements that make it up are eclectic, the end result, I find to be fairly consistent. There are some elements in our sound that we are trying to stay away from. Never using a Wah pedal has actually been a conscious choice to avoid the typical “psych”-jam sound, and we know when we go too much in the post-rock or prog-rock direction. We’re all music nerds, so we’ve all been at the edges of music, from Merzbow to Mayhem to Stockhausen. When you listen to a lot of music, its natural to seek out the extremes, to continually be challenged. I think everyone can recognize this, whether they listen to a lot of music, drink a lot of whisky or go to a lot of art exhibitions. Mythic Sunship to me is not extreme music in any sense of the word, and it’s not something we are trying to achieve. But when you describe that feeling of noise that engulfs you, I think that is simply something that is “built in” to all of us. I think it’s just a natural part of who we are as musicians and music-lovers, so there has never been a conscious choice to go: “Let’s be a noisy band”. I actually find that we are fairly straight rock music, but when my mother tells me that it sounds like noise, I also get where she is coming from. It’s all a matter of perspective.
Emil: My mom thinks ‘Ouroboros’ sounds like Santana, for what it’s worth. I think it’s funny that we tend to get pigeonholed into being a doom or stoner rock band, because I don’t get that feeling at all.
Frederik: The term anaconda rock is pretty simple to grasp. Just like an actual anaconda, it’s long, it’s heavy, and it’s a metaphor for a big, fat dick.
Rasmus: Not fully embracing the big, fat dick part, I think the anaconda moniker fits the brutal, monolithic feeling that our wall-of-sound-type music can have. Also the tracks are fairly long, like anacondas are long.
J. Hubner: You just released your newest record, ‘Upheaval’. Before that it was ‘Land Between Rivers’ last year and ‘Ouroboros’ in 2016. Three albums in two years I think qualifies as prolific. What’s the writing process like in Mythic Sunship? Do you fill the fridges with plenty of lagers and then just see what happens when you hit record? Do you start with a riff and go from there? How do you know when a song is done?
Frederik: I touched a bit upon this above, but we’re 100% improvisational. When we record, we usually have a couple of ideas for how a track can start out, but it’s always more of a mode than a riff or a fleshed-out idea. An example could be that we know we’re playing in A, we know that it starts with guitar and we know that we want it to be “cosmic” for example. So maybe we play with that in mind 10 times when we rehearse, and in the end we have a good idea about the mode. It never starts with the same riff, in the same tempo or anything, but we kinda know how we want the track to feel. I think a fair guess is that 50% of the stuff that ends up on the records, we have never played before going to the studio in any sense, the other 50% are tracks where we had a general idea of the feeling. For ‘Ouroboros’, ‘Land Between Rivers’ and ‘Upheaval’ we isolated ourself along with our good friend and engineer Jesper Bagger Hviid in a cabin north of Copenhagen. We drink a lot of beers, cook some nice food and have a good time. We also play rock music 10-12 hours for two days straight. It’s intense, but it works. Three records might seem like a lot, but honestly when you work like we do, it has felt natural. We record ‘Ouroboros’ and then, the week after we’re back in our rehearsal space thinking: “Now what?”. Then we try to challenge ourselves, try new directions out, we play concerts. A LOT happens in just a few months, when you’re an improv band. Imagine what happens in a year. You can hear the change simply by listening to the openers of the first two records: “Ophidian Rising” and “Nishapur” from ‘Ouroboros’ and ‘Land Between Rivers’ respectively. Even though I believe that we have been consistent in our sound, we are actively trying to evolve it, and then three records in two and a half years doesn’t feel like that much.
Emil: It helps that we don’t spend ages tracking guitars, making sure the levels and tone are just right and so on – we set everything up, make sure all the instruments are properly plugged in and start playing.
Rasmus: Exactly. In relation to what I said earlier, when you’re not writing songs nor composing, but do everything instantaneously, you don’t really need to be in control of the situation, and you don’t need much time to make an album. Of course we couldn’t record a new album every week. It’s a culmination on months of rehearsing and finding a form and a sound that we want to document for prosperity. But most of the time between the first three records has been put into mixing, artwork, making up titles, pressing vinyls etc. That’s a much longer process. After these three records, we’re also ditching the cabin for a real recording studio.
Frederik: As Rasmus jokingly put it the other day: For us, deciding on titles is an equal task to creating the album, haha.
Rasmus: Who said I was joking?
J. Hubner: Let’s talk a bit about the new album ‘Upheaval’. Going into record it, were you guys wanting to achieve something different than the last two records? There seems to be more contemplative moments this time around. More dynamics going on, especially in both “Aether Flux” and in the last track “Into Oblivion”. What were some influences going into this new album? I think it’s your best work yet.
Frederik: First of all: Thank you. I can tell you that it means a lot to hear, because we do put a lot of effort into not stagnating as a band. Being an improv band I think it’s very easy to fall into the trap of being good at jamming in a specific way and then just doing that 50 times. With ‘Upheaval’ we’ve tried to explore some new territory, though it falls very naturally in line with ‘Land Between Rivers’. I don’t think we had any specific influences in terms of other bands, but I definitely think that you’ve caught onto something with regards to the dynamic. Especially “Aether Flux” represents a mode that we’ve been playing a lot, but that just hasn’t felt natural on a recording so far. It’s not that far from something like “Year of The Serpent” from ‘Ouroboros’, but as you say, it’s a bit more dynamic and contemplative. “Into Oblivion” was a very specific idea of exploring a much heavier sound. We’re tuned in drop C, and the whole feeling of the track is like we’re almost dragging every note behind the beat like four cavemen returning from a hunt.
Rasmus: Yes, thanks so much! I feel like the whole A-side of ‘Upheaval’ is a kind of Other Sides of Mythic Sunship concept that has – as you say – a more contemplative and in the case of “Aether Flux” almost laid back feel to it (as laid back as it gets around here). We felt that we could do that on this album, whereas on the first two… we mostly wanted to move some speaker cones. “Into Oblivion” was an attempt to take that vibe and channel it downwards and get real earthy, heavy, doomy even.
J. Hubner: Your guitar sound is immense. What are your guitar/amps of choice? Are there any pedals you can’t live without, or do you go straight into the amp? Also, your rhythm section is very tight. That allows the guitars to really go interstellar.
Emil: I’ve never been obsessed with guitar tone so I’ve gotten by playing on beat up, cheap guitars and mostly shitty pedals plus whatever I could borrow from friends whenever we’ve had recording sessions. I quite like not being completely in control of the tone and having to work with what I’ve got. I think Kasper’s pretty much the opposite which makes sense given that he’s the brains and I’m the brawn when it comes to the guitar section, haha. I don’t think I could live without a delay pedal and a couple of overdrive/distortion/gain pedals, though.
And definitely, having a tight, forward-moving rhythm section allows us the freedom to mix it up and kind of go back and forth between playing melodic, airy bits and digging into the groove. I don’t think you can underestimate how much the drums lead the way, Frederik can change the complexion of a jam completely whenever he wants to just by varying his intensity or pattern.
J. Hubner: Production-wise, are you guys producing yourselves or is there someone guiding you in the studio? Where do you typically record?
Frederik: The first three records are recorded by our friend Jesper Bagger Hviid. He also mixed ‘Ouroboros’, while the two latest are mixed and mastered by Jonas Munk. We have been going to a cabin for the first three recordings, but now we’re trying out other methods.
Rasmus: I’ve really liked doing the cabin recording sessions. Going there in the summer time, creating a really nice, friendly, and relaxed atmosphere around recording. But taking that with us to a real recording studio, I’m sure the music only benefits from the sonic possibilities the studio gives us.
J. Hubner: Are you guys touring to promote ‘Upheaval’?
Frederik: There will in fact be a tour in April. For now that tour will be in (most of) Europe, but in the future we are looking to possibly tour the US as well. However, it goes without saying that touring within the EU is one big logistical puzzle, going outside to the US would be a completely different and even more complicated story.
Emil: This will be our first foray into Europe, so that should be a blast. Massive shout-out to Jonas Gonçalves from Ya Ya Yeah for organising everything!
J. Hubner: How did you guys get hooked up with El Paraiso Records? Seems like a pretty solid group of dudes to make records with.
Frederik: El Paraiso is an amazing label, yes. I’ve known Jonas and Jakob for a long time, and when ‘Ouroboros’ was done and being mixed they were the only label we sent it to. We knew they were perfect for us, and to be honest, it had been a dream signing with them since we started the band in 2010. The fact that they were actually up for putting the album out was great, and we’ve continued to have a great relationship with them in the couple of years since.
J. Hubner: So what’s 2018 looking like for Mythic Sunship? More improvising and maybe another album?
Frederik: It’s probably a bit too early to share details, but I can say that 2018 will very likely be the most prolific year for Mythic Sunship so far, and that people can expect something significantly different than what they’ve heard on first three records.
If you’re in Europe make sure to get out and see these guys live. It’s gonna be a face melter, for sure. And if you haven’t yet snag a copy of Upheaval right here. Can’t say enough about the record, or the band. Good dudes all around.
Mythic Sunship are a band that waste no time with subtleties. There’s no tip-toeing around whether things are gonna get loud and intense, as you know right as the first song begins to play on any of their albums that things are gonna get pretty damn loud. And pretty damn intense. But that’s not to say they don’t get nuance or dynamics. The Copenhagen four-piece know when to bring things down just enough to give the listener a little breathing room. You know, let ’em see some blue sky and a pinch of sunlight before the sky turns red again and molten lava reigns down once again as these “Anaconda Rockers” put their heaviest foot forward and set free their fuzzed-out, monolithic riffage.
Welcome to the world of Mythic Sunship, lovelies.
These monolithic rockers released their first record with El Paraiso in May of 2016. Ouroboros introduced the better part of the universe to the tectonic sounds of Mythic Sunship. Not quite a year later in April of 2017 they were at it again with the excellent Land Between Rivers. Not to just sit on their musical laurels, the guys are back with a new album just a mere nine months later after Rivers. Upheaval is both Mythic Sunship’s heaviest and most nuanced record yet. The double guitar attack crackles and shakes the earth, while the rhythm section gives the guys a solid foundation to do as much damage as possible. There’s also a lot of contemplative moments here strewn throughout the skull-rattling guitar and bone-crunching bass. It’s an all-encompassing sonic shakedown.
While on first listen Mythic Sunship’s sound seems like a blunt tool for eardrum and psychic destruction, you’d be mistaken not to let yourself sink into the wall of sound. Inside that sound wall is a center of bliss. “Tectonic Breach” opens the album with the said wall of sound, but burrow into it’s center and look out from inside it. Once at the heart of this beast of a song you look out and its as if you’re at the controls of a Jaeger, a man manning a towering creature of destruction. That may be a dramatic way to put it, but its totally the vibe you feel. This song sounds like some cross pollination of Blue Cheer and Voltron. There’s both punk rock blunt force and carefully layered sonics. “Aether Flux” shows the band dialing down the rock and roll destruction derby for a more windswept, post-rock feel. At moments the song is reminiscent of psych rock big brothers(and labelmates) Causa Sui, but as the 10-minute epic rolls along the guys muddy the crystalline waters a bit with some fuzzed-out goodness. All in all, a steady, vibe-y classic.
Go to side B and all bets are off. “Cosmic Rupture” is a tour-de-force of molten groove and “Anaconda Rock” as Mythic Sunship’s music essence has been dubbed. It’s sleek but brutal. With each passing second the band tightens up on you until your gasping for breath(or at least another beer.) Amidst the fire and fury there’s also plenty of groove and space-y vibes to get lost in. The twin guitar attack adds a flurry of noise, like a hornet’s nest at full agitation. “Into Oblivion” closes the album on a dirge-y note. This is about as doom metal as the Sunship has gotten. The track opens ominously in drop-D, as if Tony Iommi himself is there in spirit. Pretty soon tribal drums roll in and things begin to build. Like a battalion off to war, these four guys make their way through over 13 minutes of barb wire, enemy fire, and a steady march that leads to a climactic end, complete with a flurry of guitar squall J Mascis would be proud of. The drum and bass groove here is what keeps the track on a steady forward motion through the muck and mire. This is one hell of a way to end an album.
Upheaval keeps Mythic Sunship moving in an upward motion. With each successive record this quartet from Copenhagen take that blunt musical tool they wield so well and refine and hone it into something more precise and exhilarating. Upheaval is a masterclass in sonic annihilation.
Drop the needle for your rock and roll comeuppance.