Sunday, January 8, 2012

New Weed Temple

2012 marks some changes, including probably the biggest change in Weed Temple since its inception in 2008, that is moving the blog to a new platform. From now on Weed Temple will be on Tumblr - as . This might be a controversial (and slightly unpopular decision), but I'm sure the readers will get over it. I find Tumblr easier to use and customize than Blogger, and while it may be missing a few options, like ability to comment (which I will fix as soon as possible by installing Disqus comment system on the site), it's generally more "forward" than Blogger.

This blog will stay here with all downloads and reviews intact. It's still up to me to decide whether I'll move Weed Temple operations to Tumblr permanently or it will be a disappointment and I'll go back to good ol' Blogger. Time will show. In the meantime, go to the new address and check out some hot new albums!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

røb - røb

Harsh and heavy drones from the former Christchurch, New Zealand resident Robert Martelli created as the aftermath of the 2011 earthquakes in Christchurch. The ghost of Roy Montgomery hovers above this mini-EP, albeit much more tectonic and palpatable, closer to Torlesse Super Group than his solo work. Here's the commentary from the e-mail about the event and the explanation of the track titles:
"A post-earthquake doom-heart thrums through the city’s caverns; the partially collapsed cathedrals and the empty roads at DAWN. Despite the openness, there is a kind of claustrophobia here, an asphyxiating feeling. It’s the swamp, it’ll suck you down.
The hard edges of the DAY push against the skin. All the airconditioner sweat and the black coffee vitriol and the coins across the counter. Hollowed out, sunken-eyed, desperation triggers a yearning to return to the tall grass and big sky of childhood.
Every part of this body groans slowly, feeling too old while still being young. This is a kind of DEATH. In need of revivification, follow the desire to sit still on a mountainside. Hear only the wind in the ears, become a receptacle for the sun’s silent rays. Be reverberant and reverent. Await the fade to white."

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Review: Köhn - Stay Away From the Towers (Sloow Tapes, 2011)

            One thing I was wrong about when reviewing M. Geddes Gengras’ massive The Empty Space was the assumption that the whole lot was recorded during one or two live performances. It was not, and as Ged Gengras himself jokingly noted on his Facebook, if that cassette was a documentary of one performance, he probably wouldn’t have left the venue alive. The case is different with Belgium’s synthesist Jurgen de Blonge, who’s been crafting electronic soundscapes since the 1990’s. Stay Away From the Towers is a documentary of two live performances conducted in clubs in Belgium and the Netherlands. No edits, no overdubs, no post-production. Final destination.
            The comparison between MGG and Kohn is not accidental: both tapes are equally massive and stunning – both clock at around 90 minutes and both take quite liberal cues at the previous eras of electronic music. While for Ged Gengras it was the raw, glitchy electronics of Morton Subotnick, Fifty Foot Hose (minus the psych rock element) or even Karlheinz Stockhausen, Jurgen de Blonde looks at the Berlin School era and progressive electronic masters of the 1970’s and the 1980’s. Each side of the red, unlabeled tape is a lengthy, ever-changing jam of rhythmic electronics and snakelike melodies treated with a pinch of outsider synth weirdness. De Blonde crafts intense cosmic voyages of the best kind: the ones in which the listener gets truly lost and loses the track of time, where seconds stretch into hours and hours into seconds, where the change in the ever-flowing rhythm or melody can be noticed only after several minutes, where one gets zoned out even with deeply focused listening. Once one gets over the slightly abrasive drones that de Blonde likes to put in certain places of the recordings, the world of emotions, images and scenes unfolds as a reward.
            One of the best elements of this cassette (apart from its head-spinning length) is the perfect balance de Blonde keeps between the Berlin School worship and the more abrasive, abstract experimentation. The melodic, progressive parts and the reverbed hiss, crackles and drones are kept in equal proportions, serving as interludes or, in a great prog fashion, “movements” of one track. I can almost imagine a projection screen behind Jurgen while giving performances with various animations as he enters different phases: abstract, psychedelic animations of non-defined shapes or oscilloscope going haywire during the non-melodic sonic bricolage and fragments of films like “Fantastic Planet” or “The Holy Mountain” during the melodic, proggy parts. A great record of two great performances by a somewhat overlooked European synth wizard.

Review: Tharpa Jigme - Nada Tarangini (Rocket Machine, 2011)

Until lately, Netherlands’ Robert Kroos has been more known to the noise aficionados for his “bleak ultra noise” project Torture Corpse, which served as a creative output for bone-shredding outbursts of sonic energy. This extreme and brutal music, however, is just one side of Robert’s work as a musician. Tharpa Jigme is his another project, where he goes into the exactly opposite side of the spectrum, replacing nihilist noise with blissful, meditative synthesizer drones. Those are not your simple synth drones, however. What sets Tharpa Jigme apart from the countless other “floaty ambient” projects is his fascination with classical Indian (Hindustani) music and traditional Indian instruments. On the j-card of the cassette Robert lists Nada Tarangini, Sitar and Swarmandal and his voice apart from the usual suspects (synthesizers).
Side A’s “Nada Tarangini (Outward)” is the more extroverted side, layering one exhilarating drone upon another while the sacred sitar strums tirelessly throughout the entire length of the track, resulting in a sort of droning mass of light reminiscent of Sitaar Tah! or the less looping moments of Kawabata Makoto. While the opening drone seems impossibly heavy, it manages to get even heavier and more intense as the track progresses, becoming an immense monolith which somehow manages to stay incredibly light and meditative instead of crushing with its heaviness. Towards the end of the side, the massive, massive theme gradually fades out, marking the end of the more ecstatic, louder meditation and preparing the listener for the more introspective, quieter side B, “Nada Tarangini (Inward)”. The second track hits the darker, more mysterious areas. The energy and intensity of side A is gone, being replaced instead with sparse sitar strumming and almost dark ambient synthesizer swells, exploring the deeper, often more sinister sides of the psyche, the ones we prefer to keep well hidden, pushed as far back as possible. And while the “Outward” side was loud and seemingly designed for listening through loudspeakers at highest possible volume – so that the sound can come out freely to bounce between the walls and even to stream outside, through the open window and into the world; the quiet ambience of “Inward” is a specifically headphone listening, especially the very last part of the cassette, where the music becomes a barely audible drone fadeout.
Nada Tarangini is yet another indication that the musicians are looking for more genres and inspirations to add to the basic drone. The classical Indian instruments are a wonderful addition, and even if their presence on side B is not very noticeable, they CREATE the sound of side A, without which maybe it wouldn’t be half as impressive. We can only hope for more sitar-infused immersive drones in the future. Great job, Robert Kroos.

No Mind Meditation - Malaise 1 & 2

Two soothing ambient soundscapes from No Mind Meditation, the entity behind the Chicago label Goldtimers Tapes. 20 minutes of layered, psychedelicized droning experimentation, which can work as a soundtrack to forming new year's resolution or simply as a cure for new year's hangover.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


East-Ra are a self-proclaimed "psychedelic lo-fi rock" band from Croatia. Usually straying away from the "free form freak-out" territory to the more song-oriented, briefer format, the band creates rather toned down, quiet form of psych heavily inspired by 60's and early 70's songwriters such as Nick Drake or Syd Barrett, musical dadaists such as Captain Beefheart of free-flowing commune spirit of Germany's krautrockers like Amon Düül II or Agitation Free. The band retains a lovely garage/basement quality to their tracks, somewhat enhancing the authenticity of their music and intimacy with the listener. Two of their albums, Cold Summer and Substitute 3 are sung in English, while Sutra is written entirely in a local dialect. Recommended!

Good Amount - Power

Now that the Christmass laziness is officially over, it's about time to get back to posting. The first album after the break is Power, a cassette by Holy Page Records founder Christiano Filardo using the moniker Good Amount. I think the term "good amount" might mean the good amount of creative energy, because what we get here is quite a healthy, not-so-short collection of semi-lo-fi synthesizer dreamscapes created entirely during meditation. Might need a few repeated listens to finally click, but once it clicks, you just can't get enough. Reminds me of Lee Noble's early dusted drones, but without his penchant for downer atmospheres and melancholy and with a more New Age-y worldview. Also, totally digging the somewhat kitschy, rainbowy computer gfx aesthetic Holy Page have for many of their cassettes, including this one.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Review: Nicoffeine - Lighthealer Stalking Flashplayer (bluNoise, 2011)

Lighthealer Stalking Flashplayer, the newest LP from the German noise rock trio Nicoffeine is a disorienting, amphetamine-fueled black mass followed by the world’s hardest coming down. Any sort of gentle introduction is an alien concept to these guys. There is no quiet guitar part, no gradual intensification or at least a fade-in. The very first track, “Holy Hell of a Himmel” throws the listener into the ultra-distorted, breakdown-filled mental breakdown of highest order, changing pitches and shifts with mathematical precision, obscuring the guitar tones to the point it becomes a thunderous bass propelled, sludgy shoegaze. Free noise units such as Gravitar, Heavy Winged or pre-Boss era Magik Markers might be used as points of reference, but while for most of the time there were elements of post-rock, free improv or straight-down psychedelic beauty hidden under walls of feedback and distortion those bands so abundantly use (or used), there is none of that in Nicoffeine’s music. The Germans’ music is infused with a sort of nihilist, hardcore punk or maybe even grindcore negativity, which they cleverly deconstruct and re-shape for their needs.
            It takes a few listens to notice that most of the tracks are actually constructed and well thought out compositions and not just carnage for the sake of carnage. Once we get over the incredibly overdriven, high-pitched guitar destruction, one can notice how tight the bass is with the brutal, fast notes and the seemingly anarchist drumming isn’t all that anarchist after all and the only thing keeping the album from becoming a possible noise punk gem is the length of the tracks and the lack of vocals. The shorter, 3-4 minute tracks share space with three monsters, each well over 10 minutes long, with the very last track, the 16-minute noise/drone behemoth “I Always Shine When You Say Nein” devolving into a monstrous, cavernous amplifier hangover not far away from The Dead C’s “Bury (Refutatio Omnium Haeresium)” off their Trapdoor Fucking Exit.
            The brutal and chaotic music of Nicoffeine is accompanied with a simple, yet effective packaging: what you see above is not the actual LP cover, but rather one of two inserts  containing information about the tracks, the record label and a few photos of the band. The cover itself is black on both sides, with a white vinyl inside. The pure blackness of the cover reflects the pure blackness of the sound and the white vinyl signifies the amphetamine craze of the music on the format, echoing Velvet Underground’s White Light/White Heat, which indeed was a hymn to the white powder. The possible VU inspirations are further reflected by the track titles, which often allude to the darker/more twisted sides of the human sexual psyche, cleverly referencing fetishes (“Milf & Honey”, “Handjobs & Runaways”, or “Motocrossdress” off their Admiring Those Artholes LP). Nicoffeine is something to be watched and heard – the ferocity of their sound really puts them somewhere above most of their contemporaries in a scene where it’s hard to be harsher, louder and noisier.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Miles Dyson Spheres - Cosmic Schmuck Entries

A MASSIVE collection of six-string madness by Paul Stella, proprietor of the Obsidian Obelisk blog. 19 compositions, with some reaching over 20 minutes. Endlessly soloing, soaring fuzzed-out electric guitar over maniacally looping, droning basslines. Reaching a point when psychedelic rock becomes ambient. Sublime. And by the way - I love the guy's moniker - Miles Dyson, one of the creators of SkyNet in Terminator 2 and Dyson Sphere, a hypothetical megastructure with solar power satellites encompassing a star in order to gain energy from it. There is also another album in the works, entitled Formless Forms, which will be just as massive and which will be available for download in February. So far it can only be streamed on Bandcamp.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Old Age - This Land Stays With Me

If you think Connor Waldman's Old Age project is yet another drifting, dreamy ambient project like many others, think again. While the first track stays tightly within the ambient territory with a sound between the artists of Sunshine Ltd. label and the massive drones of early Emeralds, the second track abrubtly cuts the heavenly drone zones with a steady, bassy, folktronica beat with female vocals. The sound is brooding and full of light at the same time. The songs on the album are an amalgam of trip hop beats, surupy krautrock aesthetics at times and echoed vocals adding to the synthesizer background ambience with glitched-out electronics on top. The sound of Old Age is difficult to categorize, costantly shifting between introverted folk and vast ambient mindscapes, reflecting the changing moods of the artist during the creative process. Sometimes melancholic, sometimes uplifting. Also make sure to check out Connor's earlier release, Minnesota and David Lynch inspired ambient trip Lutsen.