GENTLE TASADAY & NOXAGT

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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

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The Satyrswitch and Salamander Reviews- Feb 2005

satyrswitchsalamanderthe satyrswitchMatt Zaun- Skye Klad and Salamander

Monday, February 28, 2005
The Satyrswitch The High Lonesome Sound of… (Camera Obscura)

If the Salamander review below made you curious of the fledging Minneapolis psych/folk/improv scene I suggest that you also check out the Satyrswitch, which primarily is the solo work of Skye Klad and Blitzen member Jason Kesselring. Just like Bent Hemlock, this late 2004 release offers a step away from Kesselring’s previous outings. On The High Lonesome Sound of Satyrswitch we find him exploring all kinds of folky traditionalism; from old-school Americana and acoustic ragas to captivating acid folk. It’s all surprisingly melodic and structured but nevertheless rewarding.

The very capable bit of folky pop and soul-touching harmonies, which is Stan Jones’ ”Ghost Riders in the Sky”, is a catchy stunner where Kesselring’s baritone vocal comes to full effect. The vocals is probably a hit or miss thing depending on who you ask, but if you ask me they add something distinctively unique to the somewhat dark proceedings. The acoustic folk guitar and fingerpicking techniques present on the lovely “Israfel” makes me think of equal parts Bert Jansch and modern interpreters of the Takoma tradition, and if that’s not a good thing I am not quite sure what is. The High Lonesome Sound of… does admittedly borrow plenty of elements from the past but is still a powerful and beautiful listen.

# posted by Mats @ 12:16 AM
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Friday, February 25, 2005
Salamander Bent Hemlock (Camera Obscura)

Here’s one of the most anticipated records I’ve been fortunate to treat my ears with in the last cpl of months, a brand new recording from Salamander, the much-beloved Minneapolis psych/space/improv/folk unit. I am positive that most long-time fans will enjoy this CD but I am also quite sure that they’ll be equally surprised by its relatively downcast folk vibe. With slow dark folk attributes, Salamander escorts us to a dark rural vista and when you expect the guitars from the previous records to suddenly blast in, they choose to explore the same hidden track through the outskirts of forested psych/folk all over again, and the results are just mind-bending. The improvisational component is still very much present but it’s playing a much more sporadic and concentrated role on Bent Hemlock.

The relatively short opener “Galleon” presents a solemn combination of beauty and melancholy, with the unmistakable touch of the Appalachians hovering just on top of 11 year-old Madeline Westby’s angel-like vocal delivery. Then “The River Song” is positively gothic in its presentation, a vibe that largely comes from Sean Connaughty’s unmistakable voice and I guess that the violin that meanders around the acoustic guitar just further cements this feel. Before it all sinks to the eerie depths of the ocean some tasty guitar fuzz appears on the horizon, but we can only hear it in the distance and when the acoustic brilliance of the slightly Pelt-sounding “The Somnambulist” appears it’s already long gone. The more upbeat “Portal” is closer to what we’ve come to expect from this quartet, but then “Diagram” again emphasizes on the most vulnerable side of their repertoire. “Nocturne” is just like a handful of other tracks on the album an instrumental snippet of sorts that beautifully manages to knit a strong link between the relatively different styles of the band’s two primary songwriters, the aforementioned Connaughty and Erik Wivinus. “Call of the Hills” is a Wivinus track that sets acoustic guitar strumming against a howling wall of feedback and in the middle of it all we find Dave Onnen and Matt Zaun not only providing an impressive rhythm section but also keeping the whole thing in one piece.

Despite its relatively mellow vibe, Bent Hemlock is easily one of the most haunting records I’ve heard in 2005. It’s an album of great depth of maturity, and honestly quite unlike anything you’re likely to hear this year. This better make some year-end top ten lists.

# posted by Mats @ 4:18 AM

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.

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The Satyrswitch review- Foxy Digitalis June, 2005

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The Satyrswitch “The High Lonesome Sound of Satyrswitch”

Camera Obscura

Largely the work of one Jason Kesselring (heard previously as a member of Skye Klad) and a few friends, ?The High Lonesome Sound of Satyrswitch? combines a familiar cow-folk base with dazzling ragas and old style Americana. It?s a modern dash of traditionalism, resulting in the off-beat weirdness of ?Boys of Bedlam? as well as the Syd Barrett inspired folk psych sprawl of ?Angels of Wolves.? ?Second Air? on the other hand is 49 seconds of precise, ornamental finger-picking in the Bert Jansch mold, more of which can be found on the mind-blowing ?Israfel.? ?Ed Dorado? sounds sort of like Lee Hazlewood doing a worthy attempt at psych folk. That comparison is largely due to Kesselring?s baritone vocal, possibly the one obstacle to overcome here. But at the same time his voice and persona is a big part of what makes this so charming and unique in a Sergio Leone kind of way. If you?re digging on this whole ?folk revival? thing, and looking for something further off the beaten path, give the mighty Satyrswitch a lash. 7/10 — Lee Jackson (8 June, 2005)