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Artist of the Month
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July 2015
Ecstatic Vision
"Sonic Praise
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Heavy-psych three-piece Ecstatic Vision conjures cosmic soundscapes with their debut LP Sonic Praise (Relapse Records). Self-ordained as “primal,” the group’s orchestration is undeniably gripping and visceral, altering the embodied state of its listener at an instant. Pressing past the tropes of genre, Sonic Praise is a hypnotic example of the outfit’s versatility. The release of Ecstatic Vision’s tripped-out LP is hopefully the first of many.
 
Beginning with the well-titled “Journey,” Sonic Praise’s opening track unfolds like a swirling chant that gradually builds to bawdy, passionate dirge filled with buzzing riffs and drums. The song’s lyricism is straightforward yet amplified by the unrelenting progression of its instrumentation. The declaration of “Journey” is unapologetic. It’s not a conversation; it’s an invitation. At its climax, the resonance of the recording brings to mind similarly transcendent tracks like Moon Duo’s “Free The Skull” or Ty Segall’s “I Wear Black.”
 
“Astral Plane” is a tentative tip of the hat to the iconic Sun Ra’s masterpiece Space Is the Place, unfolding with driving riffs and drumbeats that elicit the sensation of being transported into the ether. By the two-minute mark, “Astral Plane” is in full swing, impressive guitar work resounding as the track’s earlier established foundation persists. Each component of the song’s structure expands as frontman Doug Sabolick’s vocals urge listeners to “Look in the mirror and tell yourself/this is the place to be.” Undoubtedly indicative of the cosmos (metaphorically or literally), “Astral Plane” is trancelike, with its instrumentation possessing the power to cast a psychedelic spell that lingers well past the song’s end. Nearly thirty seconds shy of thirteen minutes of length, the temporal duration of the recording is as well warranted as it is executed. “Don’t Kill The Vibe” is equally shamanistic, with riffage that feels psychotropic. The LP’s title track, “Sonic Praise,” begins with primeval distortion comprised of oscillating tempos and forlorn chants. The effect of its prelude is mesmerizing, dark, and strangely beautiful. Thematically cult like, “Sonic Praise” is satisfyingly otherworldly, seducing its listener to give in to Ecstatic Vision’s melodic ethos without hesitation. 
 
Sonic Praise’s final anthem “Cross the Divide” extends the mysticism of the album’s narrative, ending Ecstatic Vision’s debut on a plane similar to where it began - one of enlightenment and pure rock 'n' roll. - Dianca London Potts

 

 

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The Deli's SXSW Issue 2014 is online!

Read it digitally here.

P.S. 10k free copies of this issue hit the street of Austin during SXSW Music week!


Chipper Jones' Tropics | COSM " EP of Instrumental Goodness

Instrumental music is hard to nail if you're looking for a decent audience in the contemporary age. Either you're way too technical and/or conceptual, or you're putting an excessive focus on being weird and experimental, and you alienate a huge number of listeners. Or, you could be Austin duo Chipper Jones, and you somehow both make music that's both named after a hell of an Atlanta baseball player and which is also instrumental while still being fresh to death and not boring for a second. Their latest work, the Tropics | COSM EP, is not really post-rock, though it can go there in parts of songs like the end of stand-out track "Tropics," it's not jazz or anything else so well-worn, and it's not fully pop (that'd take way more of a standard radio structure and some vocals), but it's somewhere between all of that in all the best ways it could be. At the very least it's instrumental music with some fucking real energy and little for an ear to apologize for, and you should certainly give the badass "Tropics" a try if you're a person who can get with the non-vocal music even a tad bit. It's better than that, but damn, we know it's hard to convert some of you vocals-needers to the ways of the instrument-only sound. Music is music, g'damnit, but we get that sometimes you just like what you like. Aforementioned all-inclusiveness aside, Chipper Jones is one we think is likely to be a hit with most anyone willin' to take a swing, and you can below with "Tropics," or you can listen to the whole EP here.

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Magna Carda

Unless I'm entirely mistaken in my drunk memories of seeing bands in Austin when I wasn't really plannin' on it (you know that happens a lot in this town), I first heard Austin hip-hop group Magna Carda when I was vending used books at the now-defunct but formerly-the-shit goods market the Wonder Sale back in early 2014. I was stashed in a corner of a backyard off Cesar Chavez amongst a fuckton of real ATX folks vending real ATX-made objects right by the table where the sponsored and free Shiner was kept (of three types, though one was that not that great non-bock plain Shiner shit you see here and there). Regardless of my own band-hearin' experiences and whether they are real or entirely dreamed up on 10+ Shiners worth of imagination, Magna Carda is definitely a crew I've seen live at some point, and they're also defintely one that kills it straight dead from the hip-hop perspective. In fact, they just picked up a residency at the sadly soon-to-be-defunct Holy Mountain (Remember when Beauty Bar closing was a bad sign? Yeah, shit is worse now.). They've been releasin' some damn fine hip-hop lately too, like the coolness defining "Banger Jones" that takes some diamond-sharp rapping to instrumentals that kinda sound like somethin' you'd hear in one of those lava-and-ghost Mario levels in a way that is solid all the way from one piece of the production through to the whole rest of the track. Go see a live-produced Austin hip-hop group that's as killer and grassroots as it gets July 9, 16, 23 and 30 at Holy Mountain, a bar that's going the way of the buffalo on October 1, before Austin music just gives the fuck up and moves to California in retaliation.

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Walter Nichols

Here's something fairly different. It's not indie, it's not psych, it's not electronic (except in the most technical sense), hip-hop or beat: it's the compositional music of multi-instrumentalist Walter Nichols. It's fascinating stuff, music that is both obviously deeply technically advanced and that comes at you in forms and lengths and with style that is far from typical radio-ready pop-structured songs, but which also manages to be not overindulgent, tedious or impenetrable. It pulls the fun side of pop and modern music, not shying away from less stereotypically "classial" instruments but instead including things like synths, looping machines and saxophone (and much more), but it ditches the typical "song" rulebook and also pulls from the focus on technical mastery and experimentation and the willingness to use lengthy, complex structures that composed music tends to have. It's a best of both worlds scenario, really.

I can tell when I listen to Nichols' pieces that there's a lot going on here that, as someone with what's obviously much more limited music theory knowledge than the composer, I'm not fully comprehending or being totally aware of, even while I can still point out to particular elements that seem singularly complex or impressive. Yet, as a student of music history and the relationship between the so-called "high" arts and popular art, I know that what Nichols pulls off here is not easy to do at all, this walking easily between the two worlds of technical composition and music that's modern and fun for anyone to listen to. .

As a plain listener, playful and rich are the words that come to mind when listening to Nichols' latest work, the succinctly titled W, which you can hear below in full. Moods are built and played with and never overdone or hammered too hard home, one track is very much a new flavor from the last and yet all work together conceptually and stylistically. It's glimmering and beautiful at times, harsh and nicely grating at others, and in all a real work-out for the brain.

If you want to push your boundaries a bit, or are already the type to be intrigued by music that isn't tailor-made to slide right into your preconceptions of fun, modern music but which still has the ability to find its way into that part of your brain (rules be damned), give Nichols a try with W below. It's well worth a little time to see if it clicks, because if it does, you'll have some quite nutritious new brainfood to get yer noggin' snacking on.

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