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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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Vicky Flair the Voodoo Child (vftvc) Hides Nothing on the Raw "sounds of insomnia"

It doesn’t take long for shit to start getting weird when you’re not on the typical “wake up in the morning, sleep through the night” schedule, especially if you start pushing the time you do sleep further into the daylight hours. And the longer you’re on the vampire grind, and the longer you actually don’t sleep at all, the more things go from just a bit off to a point where you feel almost completely unlike all the people you see in the world who sleep normally. Feeling unreal and like other people and their regularly scheduled lives are completely alien, living in some other universe, becomes the normal.

This is the sentiment that provides the framework for local rapper vftvc’s (Vicky Flair the Voodoo Child) new album sounds of insomnia, which is a deeply candid attempt to explain and share the feeling of being an insomniac, and a drug-using, cynical, conflicted one at that. It’s rough in parts and it’s not hard to see that it’s spawned from a young mind dealing with a lot of issues (and not always in a healthy way), but it is striking for what it does right.

For one, it gets the feeling of insomnia and feeling distant from the world absolutely perfect. The tracks, all produced skillfully by beatmaker forest green, are designed to induce feelings similar to those that come with insomnia; they often drag along, there’s a lot of dreamstate sounds like bells and meandering horns, and the delivery is often very deadpan and low-energy (in a good way that drives the insomnia feeling home) but sometimes goes manic or gets heavily distorted in a psychedelic way (a bit Odd Future-esque).

The lyrics do much the same, often directly talking about the weird unliving state of being an insomniac, such as in the intro for “demons,” which is delivered in a way that makes it sound like an entry in an audio journal by someone losing their mind. In it Vicky delivers, in his standard listless voice and over a barking dog that really places it in a physical place (you can almost see him sitting in a dark room with the light of the day that’s already come again leaking through the blinds) the following, which we’re copying in its entirety because it gives an excellent summation of the feelings at play in this album:

“It’s around the end of July, and sleep has become a total stranger. I try to stay in the good frame of mind throughout this time, amidst all the things falling apart around me. But it seems in those twilight hours, those voices those [something, hard to hear], their influence in my head seems to get stronger and stronger, and I feel it puling me to the dark place. I try to rise above it, but. I don’t know how much longer I can hold on.”

The levels of introspection and honesty here are strong, and impressive for a young creator. Whether or not you empathize with the rapper or support how vftvc deals with and sees life, which is admittedly a dark perspective most of the time, that he’s giving his perspective so fully makes the album rich. He’s not hiding much of anything here, though while he’s revealing the things that are making him depressed or conflicted, he’s also reveling in it a bit, and he doesn’t hide that either. It’s all on the table- the way he both loves and needs drugs and also sees the bad shit they’re doing to him, the way he isn’t sure if he likes himself or not or you or not but is also set in his ways and has developed a sort-of comfort with them, or at least he wants you to see it that way (something he also doesn’t hide).

The album shies away from nothing and will very likely make you uncomfortable for doing so in at least a few places, and some may not connect with it at all either for its roughness or its perspective, but because of that rawness and revelation, it’s also a striking piece of art from a young thinker worth watching. The whole album is well worth a listen, so get doing so below and get ready to feel a little…off.

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billy Makes Weird Electropop, Has a Cat and That's About All We Know

Sometimes you come across a bit of music that’s so in its own world and by an artist with so little information available online, that it seems almost more like outsider art than a part of the general scene- even the really obscure parts of the scene. That’s a dead-on description of billy, an (apparently) Austin-based solo artist that does some washed-out, way weird psychedelic electropop and who released his best yet piece this month with the structurally surprising and oddly charming track “mindz.” We couldn’t even get a legit picture of this elusive artist who doesn’t seem to have a Facebook page (at least that we can find); we had to take a screenshot of his Instagram and crop it. That ain’t normal these days y’all, but it kinda does add to this kid’s charm in this age of oversharing.

The track itself is equally enigmatic- it starts heavily melancholy in both tone and concept, a piece of slow electronic pop with equally balanced elements all plodding within its simple drum machine beat. Butt then at 1:07, when the chorus pops in, a very Air-esque high-toned, bright and pretty hook comes through hard and just massively changes up the feel of the whole song. It takes it from weird and cute but potentially something that might get overlooked after a few listens to a track that’s just arrestingly unique and which can even get the spine tingling a bit with its lazer-clear tones.

The lyrics continue the trend of ambiguity, seeming to be a reflection on perception and the way it interacts with relationships (“In our minds/We won’t go/In my mind/You want them”), but being deliberately obtuse about it in a way that pairs happily with the way the track’s sound is hard to pin down. All of it makes you wonder who billy is, what they’re all about and what else they can do, and that to us is the sign of a very interesting emerging artist indeed. Try billy’s stuff out yourself below, and if any of y’all have more info on this musician (at the least so we can let them know about the post), feel free to share in the comments. We’d like to know more about this one.

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Sweat Lodge's Heavy-Ass "Bed of Ashes" Video, Filmed in One of Austin's Most Drunk Bars

Sometimes all a straight killer music video needs is a good fuckin’ setting, a cool ass scene of folks into the shit in front of them, and a few dicks, fart clouds, battle axes, demon tongues and horns ’n skeletons drawn all over the frames. That, at least, is the winning combo for the new vid by long-hair havers and dive-bar rockers Sweat Lodge, who (in conjunction with Kash Powers) used to make the visual accompaniment to the deeply early metal of track “Bed of Ashes.” Speaking of the young days of the big-chord, reverbed-up, psych-on-edge version of metal, this video reads like the music-and-quick-cuts intro to a movie about metalhead kids in those simple, patched denim vest loving days, being slammed full of fuck-off attitude, booze and weed and characters aplenty partaking in both of ‘em and what’s obviously a show that everyone is pretty fuckin into, all with hair a’bangin’ in the dingy, slightly-vomit scented air of one of Austin’s least 6th Street bars, The Grand on Airport Boulevard. All stories I know of and have been part of that take place at The Grand are on the “what even is sobriety” end of the debauched scale, and from the looks of things, Sweat Lodge and their crew of merry friends are there these days makin’ damn sure the place doesn’t go and do somethin’ dumb like getting more respectful or whatever.

Looked at as a peak into a very different kind of scene than that which you’ll typically find at the more mainstream venues in town, this video ain’t just a hell of a track to throw one back to and get raucous with, it could also be taken as an invitation to a scene in Austin that doesn’t give a fuck about flannels or manscaping, if of course you can find it and you ain’t an asshat. The Deli wants more of this, and Austin’s soul kinda needs it. Please keep it up Sweat Lodge, and the rest of y’all turkeys need to switch out some of those quiet ass records you got for somethin’ louder ASAP, ya hear? This is a hell of a good place to start.

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