Mythic Sunship : Upheaval

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.

8. 4 out of 10

 

Joe Satriani : Shockwave Supernova

I’ll admit it, I love Joe Satriani. In all seriousness, he was the driving force that pushed me to play guitar as an awkward Midwestern teenager. I’d beenjoe-satriani-shockwave-supernova-album-cover-2015 playing for two years prior to hearing Joe, but once I heard Surfing With The Alien when I was 14 years old I felt like I’d been rechristened with the task of becoming one hell of a guitar slinger. You see, Satriani wasn’t like those other guys. The dudes in spandex and White Rain-hardened hair were out to play as fast as they could, melody be damned. It was all about speed, not nuance. Joe could do both, and wearing jeans and a t-shirt. He threw in sci fi, film, and literary elements in his music as well. Kurt Vonnegut, The Silver Surfer, and Blade Runner were all inspirations for his music. Joe Satriani was a beacon for the nerds and geeks, whether they(or he) realized it or not.

Over the years, he’s put out a steady stream of albums. Some better than others, but always a solid group of tunes. Shockwave Supernova is his newest guitar opus and Joe has found a really comfortable spot musically on this one. He’s left the singing at the door and is concentrating on making the best guitar instrumentals he can. At 59 years old, he can still outplay anybody out there and can still create earworm melodies that won’t leave your head for days. Recorded with longtime producing partner John Cuniberti, Satriani headed into Skywalker Studios and made one of his best sounding records in ten years.

Joe has a style all his own. His songs aren’t dummy tracks that he can fly across the fretboard over for five minutes. He creates mood and feel before laying the mind-melting solos down first, and opening track “Shockwave Supernova” does just that. The song sounds like some massive sci-fi epic. You can almost see the chromed-out space craft traveling at light speed across the universe as this track blows into your earholes. There’s some great slide playing in this one, as well as some patented Middle-Eastern flair in the solo. “Lost In A Memory” harkens back to Flying In A Blue Dream territory. It’s spacious, moody, and really accentuates Joe’s knack for creating an emotional pocket we can get lost in. “Crazy Joey” is a fun as hell kind of song. Some serious face-melting picking technique in there as well that will send guys like me down to the basement and practice for hours(or until we’re told to come upstairs.) “On Peregrine Wings” is a monster rock tune with some seriously meaty riffs.

There’s also some great laid back moments, such as the blues shuffle of “San Francisco Blue” and “Scarborough Stomp”. Both pay tribute to the Bay area that Satriani has called home since he was 20 years old. Joe can also create beautiful pieces of music, much like a classical composer creates sonatas and airy chamber music. “Butterfly and Zebra” is a short-but-sweet piece that reminds one of something like Surfing’s “Midnight”.  “Stars Race Across The Sky” has a melancholy vibe with some great piano to accompany Joe’s nuanced guitar lines.

Shockwave Supernova is a solid musical outing for ‘ol Satch. I don’t think anything Joe puts out now will ever recapture that magic of hearing Surfing With The Alien for the first time when I was 14. And really, that’s pretty unfair of a longtime fan to expect. Though, something you can expect and count on from Joe Satriani is a solid group of tunes each time out. Shockwave Supernova is just that, and easily his best album in ten years.

7.8 out of 10

dreamdistrict and you

DSC04284I’ve been working on this little project by myself for about a month now called dreamdistrict. I currently have five songs done and felt like talking a little about it. What? You don’t want to? Okay, well cover your ears…err, eyes.

So for some time now I’ve had this ridiculous idea about making some (mostly)instrumental music completely with guitar and looper pedal. Not only just with guitar, but limit myself to 4 tracks of a Tascam 414 Portastudio. I wanted this stuff to sound sorta lo fi, but not early GBV and Daniel Johnston lo fi. Just kinda in that grey zone of fidelity. The idea began in December after listening to Kim Gordon’s Body/Head album way too much. I loved the simplicity of voice/guitar/noise/improvisation. There are some truly stunning moments on that album. Also, Boards of Canada, Steve Reich, and Kevin Shields played a big part on molding what I wanted to do with this project. I began my explorations with sound on the first Cambodia Highball album. Shane and I were exploring sonic structures within an improvisational space, but still very much creating “songs” as opposed to mood pieces. I wanted dreamdistrict to be mood. I wanted it to color ones thoughts and ideas while sitting and reflecting with a cup of coffee, glass of wine, or preferred poison. Most of all, I wanted these pieces to be in-the-moment reflections of emotion. If I was feeling cantankerous then I wanted the music to reflect that. If I was feeling lost in thought or reflecting on something, I wanted the music to reflect that. If my head was as blank space, I wanted the music to reflect that. With each recording session I felt they were coming easier and the structures were forming quicker. I could see the beginning, which led me to middles and ends. The shortest piece(“To Love”) is just under 5 minutes, while the first piece I recorded(“Damage/Stars In Ecstasy”) is over 20 minutes. I’m not going into these songs thinking I want them to be a certain length. I’m letting them tell me how long they need to be. Okay, the songs aren’t voices in my head telling me things, but they are leading me along the analog path. I’ve been doing this long enough that I have a sense of when a song is nearing the end. I feel each of these are short stories I’m writing. If you end the story too soon there’s no resolution. If you go on too long the ears lose interest. Knowing when you’ve reached the end is an art form, and one not easily figured out.

Yeah this is a self-serving post about my art, but this blog is named after me. I can occasionally do this sort of thing. I plan on continuing the recording project with dreamdistrict for another month or two then I’ll compile and put an album together. My ultimate goal with this project would be for some young(or old) filmmaker to hear these songs and would want to use some of them for a film score. If he or she was short on cash I’d even let ’em use the songs for free(maybe a couple free movie passes when it hits the cinema.) That is why I’m doing this. These are mood pieces for a film not yet made. Or maybe it’s being made as I type this. Or as you’re playing with your kids. Driving your car down the coast for holiday. Or mourning the loss of a loved one. Or rejoicing in the birth of a child.

Come to think of it, these songs are the soundtrack to your life. Enjoy.

Cambodia Highball: In Session

photo (1)The Saturday afternoon sessions for the post rock/shoegaze/noise rock/atmospheric childrens songs instrumental duo Cambodia Highball are live and in process.  That duo consists of myself and artist/musician Shane Darin Page.  This is the second Saturday in a row we’ve gotten together to record improvisational stream-of-consciousness kind of rock.

Rock.

I’m not sure if that’s the correct way to describe the sound we create, but it’s close enough.  Anyways, we’re extremely happy with what we’ve unearthed in our subconscious that has made its way into the amps and onto to tape, so to speak.  If we could start doing film scores, I’d be happy.  But for the time being, we’re just having a blast playing and letting the music go where it may.  Here’s some pics for you to peruse.  I should have proof of said sessions of jamming in the form of songs soon.  Right now, look at us play instruments and such.

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