Salamander – Vessel Is Vacant


Salamander’s “Birds of Appetite” was possibly the most epic of there releases and by this time had therhythmic bedrock of Dave Onnen and Matt Zaun both coming from Skye Klad. This song is one of my favorites from that album. Check out the review below. 

“Birds of Appetite” was Salamander’s most consistent and definitive work to date, refining their mix of eastern-influenced acid folk and giant Ash Ra Tempel-ish cosmic improvisations. It marked the end of a trilogy that documented the first phase of the band, and its rarity led to a 2003 CD release for those that missed out on the vinyl version. By this point, Bryce Kastning had departed to pursue ambient solo work (though he still occasionally contributes to the band’s efforts and remains a good friend to the band as well as a member of Vortex Navigation Company). Skye Klad’s Matthew Zaun took his place on the drum stool. After the recording of “Birds of Appetite” and Salamander’s short East-coast tour with labelmates Primordial Undermind and the Japanese psych monsters Overhang Party, bassist Doug Morman also moved out of state and decided to bow out of the group in order to settle into his life as an avid horticulturist and devoted husband and father of two. His position on bass was ably filled by Skye Klad bassist Dave Onnen, who along with Zaun forms the precise rhythm-section that is the bedrock of Salamander’s music to this day.




Gentle Tasaday is project made up of duo of Erik Wivinus and Eric Hofferber. Sounding like a more Kosmische take on Current 93 or Nurse With Wound they were capable of kicking up a real sense of dread on a galactic level. They were label mates on Camera Obscura and of course Erik plays with me in Comets Ov Cupid and was in Skye Klad. I remember playing one or two live dates with them playing electric guitar while Erik played acoustic. The track “Snow Queen” was from a Tom Rapp/ Pearls Before Swine tribute album on Secret Eye. The second track is by a group Noxagt who I unfortunately know little about.

Gentle Tasaday – “Snow Queen”
Noxagt – “Regions of May”

V.A. “For the Dead in Space II & III”
A Tribute to Pearls Before Swine and Tom Rapp
Secret Eye Records, 2003

Salamander-Red Ampersand


One of the seminal Kosmische groups from the North (Minnesota to be a little more precise) were my label mates and band mates (I have been and am currently in several projects with both Erik and Sean) Salamander.
They were the masthead of the whole scene and definitely a major inspiration. Their first album “Red Ampersand” is definitely a milestone and sounds more current then it did then. This is the title track.

Red Ampersand, 1998…

The Satyrswitch – All Music Review 2005

satyrswitchThe Satyrswitch
by Richie Unterberger

Though there are other musicians involved, guitarist and vocalist Jason Kesselring is most of the show on The High Lonesome Sound of the Satyrswitch. He wrote most of the material and dominated the sparse arrangements with his full-bodied acoustic strumming, with bits of chord organ, keyboard sitar, standup bass, and light percussion added for color. Although this is just about categorizable as folk or folk-rock music, and there are rearrangements of folk standards like “Jack Orion” and “Nottamun Town” among the original compositions, it’s too odd to be embraced by traditional folk listeners. Kesselring has a low and slightly unhinged sing-speak vocal delivery, rather suggestive of a cross between Skip Spence and Jandek, to name-drop a couple of folky cult rock weirdos not much more familiar to most listeners than Satyrswitch are. The moody ambience recalls British folk guitarists Kesselring admires such as Davy Graham and Bert Jansch, as well as (especially on “Israfel” and “Kindred”) the exotic Americana of John Fahey and Robbie Basho, though not to the point of undue derivativeness. However, some of the more fully arranged compositions, like “Angel of Wolves,” are more suggestive of British acid-folk in their lightly trippy, and demented atmosphere, particularly as his vocals are liberally swathed in reverb on that track. It’s a pleasant, nicely varied eccentric album, good for early mornings or late nights when something slightly dark seems called for.


The Satyrswitch Review – High Bias 10-24-2004

The High Lonesome Sound of the Satyrswitch
(Camera Obscura)
Not unlike his labelmate Sharron Kraus, Jason Kesserling filters folk music from both the U.S. and the U.K. through his fertile brain and nimble fingers into wonderfully captivating acid folk. Sometimes he reaches beyond; his version of the venerable warhorse “Ghost Riders in the Sky” evokes the Wild Hunt of Norse mythology as much as the Wild West spirits most people associate with it. Aside from astute song choices (“Boys of Bedlam,” Poe’s “El Dorado”) and strong originals (“Angel of Wolves,” “Kindred”), Kesserling has his melodic guitar work and commanding baritone working in his favor. Not to mention the best album title I’ve read in a good long while.
– Michael Toland

Skye Klad review – Rockerilla (Italy) (Sept 2001)


Rockerilla (Italy)

“Birds Of Appetite” & “Skye Klad”

A trip beyond the temporal dimension ensured by a psychedelic spice-loaded double LP, and one beyond the co-ordinates of cosmos conveyed by the magmatic propellant of a space-rock band as dark and abrasive as few others…

The double vinyl package (heavyweight as in the good past times) is the third seal bearing the moniker of Salamander, an incredible quartet led by the visionary Sean Connaughty and Erik Wivinus, prophetic experimenters of future soundscapes in the previous “Red Ampersand” and “Red Mantra”, and now come to a sonic turn with shades of exotic folk, of Asia and ancient Egypt, of increasingly half-acoustic and less and less noise scraped timbre solutions, partially tuned to what recently proposed by Shalabi Effect or Idyll Swords. This holds especially true for “Birds of Appetite”‘s first volume, opened by the indianisms of “Vessel Is Vacant” e “Isthmus”, coloured of hippy pigmentation in “Minutia Divine” (a little gothic tale set in the woods of Twink, Sam Gopal, and “Beard Of Stars”‘ Tyrannosaurus Rex), exposed to the heavy weather of “Sadhu”, slowly self-assembling as a minimal tangram until finding a Floydian beat to the Sun’s heart control room. The third side, wholly taken by “Trench Of Fire”, is the more experimental and chaotic, thundering and reverberating until encompassing globular masses of scratched post-rock, without renouncing to introverted lysergic combustions of High Tide ancestry. Finale with the psychedelic gallop of “Mumpsimus’ Lament” and the solemn floydescent progression of “The Wreck Of Old”, liquefied in the vapours of an enigmatic organ. Music of lavish fantasy, as lavish is the packaging, wrapped in the beautiful paintings, psychedelic as well, by Connaughty. Definitely worth your money, even though the postal freight will add a sensible contribution, but be quick because this is a very limited edition…

Erik Wivinus is also member of a local legend in the Twin Cities’ space-rock scene, Skye Klad (not to be confused with the almost homonyms Skyclad, champions of early 90ties folk-metal). Especially known as a stable presence of the Strange Daze festival (the one dedicated to the Hawkwind) and as organisers of the Solarium (happening that annually sets Minneapolis ablaze with its no-stop of psychedelia, free jazz and other alternative musics), the five relevant psycho-terrorists had up to now made only one impossible to find self-produced CD. “Skye Klad” restarts from zero with its really hard mixture of Hawkwind/Can space fuel and Bauhaus/Joy Division dark wave, made credible by a vocalist, Adam Backstrom, sounding as a cross-breed between Peter Murphy and Damo Suzuki. Another distinctive element is given by the virtual absence of keyboards, replaced in the topic moments by a theremin. Big emotions come from the opener “Mind’s Eye” (with a surf emphasis!), from “Ionosfere”‘s atmospheric suggestions, from “Toxaphene”‘s vibrating freakbeat, from “Amber” and “Falling Clear”‘s barrettesque hallucinations. An absolute must, almost completely downloadable from the band’s site ( A kick in the stomach of the logic of copyright and profit…


Seasons They Change By Jeannette Leech (new book mentions Skye Klad, Satyrswitch, Vortex Navigation Co. )

Seasons They Change By Jeannette Leech (new book mentions Skye Klad, Satyrswitch, Vortex Navigation Co.

• Seasons They Change By Jeannette Leech (new book mentions Skye Klad, Satyrswitch, Vortex Navigation Co. In the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, the inherent weirdness of folk met switched-on psychedelic rock and gave birth to new, strange forms of acoustic-based avant-garde music. Artists on both sides of the Atlantic, including The Incredible String Band, Vashti Bunyan, Pearls Before Swine and Comus, combined sweet melancholy and modal melody with shape-shifting experimentation to create sounds of unsettling oddness categorized as acid or psych folk. In the mid-2000s, a new generation of artists collectively tagged New Weird America and spearheaded by Devendra Banhart, Espers, and Joanna Newsom rediscovered and renewed acid and psych folk Seasons They Change tells the story of the birth, death, and resurrection of this genre. It explores the careers of the original wave of artists and their contemporary equivalents, finding connections between the generations and uncovering a previously hidden narrative of musical adventure.
Jeanette Leech is a writer, researcher, DJ and music historian.She writes regularly for Shindig! magazine, and as part of the B-Music collective she has DJ’d throughout the UK, including at the female acid folk events known as ‘Bearded Ladies’ and the Green Man Festival.