Melodic Revolution Records and Blå Lotus are thrilled to announce that Högtid is now officially released worldwide.
About the New Album We agreed upon dubbing it “Högtid”, approximately the Swedish word for feast, or rather celebratory season (i.e. Christmas, Easter, Midsummer and so on), sort of hinting at the superficial theme of the two main tracks ‘Pagan Solstice’ and ‘Summer Demons’ and maybe also the inclusion of our momentary rendition of an old Swedish marching tune (‘Gånglåt’). Despite this, it’s not a concept album, no overarching theme or grandiose convolution, no siree Bob! They just happened to be the songs we decided upon rehearsing during this last year-and-a-half. You could say though, that there is a common theme between the two aforementioned main songs in that they both deal with the expectations laid upon oneself and the urge to get away from them; one more in the external side of things (‘Pagan’) and one the internal (‘Summer’). ‘Pagan’ was actually a leftover song from my previous band (as was ‘Unreal Estate’) in which I played the guitar and thus these were written accordingly so I had to find a way to present them on the Hammond but eventually they proved to be more in tune with the Lotus spirit anyway.
‘Summer’ on the other hand began its life as an unassuming, Neil Young-esque folk song, amounting to probably no more than a couple of minutes in all, but demonstrably ended up being the longest track on this record. The mopey lyrics should probably not be interpreted too deeply by a suicidal person though. Then we have the most optimistic track on the album, ‘While You Were Asleep’, a psychedelic ode to the divison of labour and the fact that despite what all the fearmongers tell us, overall the world is a better place at this very moment than ever before throughout history and that it will be ever so slightly better tomorrow, so stop whining and dig into the fact that this is more a showcase of the Farfisa rather than the Hammond. A bit of variation thrown in for good measure. And finally ‘Rats’n Brats’ is just a piece of vintage heavy rock’n roll; a good excuse for letting our hair down and maxing out the fuzz boxes toward the end.
And there you have it. We hope you will enjoy the fruits of our labor as much as we have enjoyed perfecting it during this period. It’s just a pity that we can’t really put into words the exact Anglo-Saxon depiction of its name. Guess that’s why we insist on inserting all these Norse umlaut-laden words everywhere.
//Fredrik, keeper of the sevenhundred keys
Artist: Blå Lotus Formed during the fall of 2016, Blå Lotus was basically three guys with a vision of making heavy prog rock without the aid of a guitar. Heavily influenced by old school progressive acts of yore, they immediately set out to create a fulfilling soundscape equipped with just bass, drums, and Hammond organ and a vast array of lengthy jam-based compositions interspersed with heavy stoner-like riffs.
Album Title: Hötid Album Art: Viktor Örneland Release Date: June 21st, 2019 Label: Melodic Revolution Records Format: Digital
Track Listing: 1. Pagan Solstice 2. Open Hand On All Fours 3. Unreal Estate 4. While You Were Asleep 5. Gånglåt 6. Summer Demons 7. Rats’n Brats
Band Members Fredrik Andersson: Hammond and Farfisa Organ, Mellotron, Synthesizer, Electric Piano, Flute & Vocals Linus Karlsson: Bass Guitar, Theremin & Random Sound Effects Wiktor Nydén: Drums & Percussion
What the critics have said about their debut Tube Alloys
This is a great album, and it is incredible to think that they came together in Autumn of 2016, and recorded this album in April the following year, as they sound as if they have been bouncing ideas off each other for years. If you have ever enjoyed the sound of a Hammond Organ in the hands of someone who knows what they are doing, then this is essential. ★★★★ 4/5 Kev Rowland – Power of Prog
Wow! This new Swedish heavy prog rock band just totally blew me away. It’s clear these guys are totally enjoying themselves. That “no guitar” policy only proves, as Quatermass or Rare Bird (their first two albums only) had proved all those years ago, that great music can be had without a guitar. Blå Lotus is simply the new generation of it. Really worth it. ★★★★ 4/5 Progfan97402 – Prog Archives
The sound is really cool and I like this album a lot. In this case, we are talking old-style 1970s heavy prog and symphonic prog. There is even some John Lord’s Deep Purple like keys and music here. The Hammond organ sends warm shivers down my spine and gives me a silly grin. 3.5/5 points by Torodd Fuglesteg – Sound Of Fighting Cats
I have been having quite a few conversations with keyboard/sax player Marek Arnold about his various musical outlets, and he recently provided me with access to virtually everything that has been released by Toxic Smile. Prior to this, I had only heard their fourth album, ‘7’ (which was their seventh overall release), so I was looking forward to this and jumped into the task with relish. For those who haven’t come across them before, the band started as a collaboration between Marek, drummer Daniel Zehe and guitarist Uwe Reinholz in early 1996 when they were still students, really coming together as unit two years later when they were joined by singer Larry B. ‘M.A.D’ was their debut album, released in 2000, but what I am playing is the 2011 reissue which contains two additional songs, one of which is a cover (more of that later).
Musically these guys are at the intersection of prog metal, heavy prog, symphonic, crossover, neo-prog, and more straightforward hard rock. At times they are reminiscent of classic Saga, at others Dream Theater, while IQ has also had an impact, as has Steve Howe. What really ties this all together is the way that Marek and Uwe are joined at the hip, while bassist Robert Brenner is incredibly important to the overall mix with a strong warm bass that can be sat quietly at the back or also provide touches right at the front to provide a completely different and unexpected emphasis. The music swirls, it moves, it switches and loops like a rollercoaster, and right at the very front of this is Larry B., totally in control. He can be emotional, he can be rough and raw, or pure and melodic. The only time he comes unstuck is when the band play “Owner Of A Lonely Heart”. While the arrangement is interesting (I personally would have stuck with the harder riffs they used in the introduction), Larry is singing at the very limit of his range and has to go into falsetto. It would have been more interesting if they had moved away from trying to replicate Anderson and instead did something in a lower register to provide a harshness.
But, that and the sound quality of the snare drum are the only low points of what is a great debut album, and I find it strange that it has taken nearly twenty years for me to come across it and that there isn’t a single review of it on ProgArchives! Well, both of these issues have been rectified now. Well worth investigating.
Unified Past release Etched in Stone the first of many live videos to come from their performance at RoSfest (Rites of Spring Festival) on May 6th, 2017 at Majestic Theater in Gettysburg Pennsylvania. Etched in Stone is the 3rd track from the band’s critically acclaimed album Shifting the Equilibrium and was the final song performed by Unified Past at RoSfest.
The Rites of Spring festival or RoSfest is an annual progressive rock festival which takes place at the end of April or in early May. Established in 2004, and held the Majestic Theater in historic Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
Phil Naro – Vocals
Stephen Speelman – Guitar
David Mickelson – Bass
Roger Banks – Drums
John Battema – Keyboards
Whatever fell from the cosmic sky, it landed in our home town Berlin. And is ready to take your mind on a beautiful journey. Bringing Earthless-level Heavy Psych into the local scene! Taking you into the endless universe, the lonely desert and the depth of the ocean as relaxing sounds and moody melodies will go along with you on this journey. Do you smell it? It’s time for another take off !
To understand a band like Germany’s Cosmic Fall in the present, we must take a journey to Germany’s ‘Krautrock’ past. The very definition to ‘Krautrock’ is ‘Cosmic-Rock’, very contrary to how it was labeled in the United Kingdom. The term “krautrock” was originated by English-speaking music journalists as a humorous name for a diverse range of German bands whose music drew from sources such as psychedelic rock, the avant-garde, electronic music, funk, minimalism, jazz improvisation, and world music styles. You could say that ‘Krautrock’ had a wild west mentality with a broad and vast range of experimentation. Largely divorced from the traditional blues and rock and roll influences of British and American rock music up to that time, the period contributed to the evolution of electronic music and ambient music as well as the birth of psychedelic improvised long form jam band rock, post-punk, alternative rock and New Age music. Important acts of the scene include Amon Dull ii, Can, Kraftwerk, Neu!, Ash Ra Tempel, Tangerine Dream, Popol Vuh, and Faust.
Cosmic Fall definitely falls in line with this rich tradition of improvised jam band songs that are practically played out more than a premeditated write, record, produce process. This form of progressive/psychedelic rock depends more on all the sum of the parts of the instruments to produce a unified wall of sound instead of the instruments coming in off the hands of virtuoso’s with intricate interchanges in time signatures. It allows for every instrument to both breathe and be heard allowing the listener to decide how they will absorb and digest the individual compositions. In modern time bands like Cosmic Fall, Oresund Space Collective, Earthless, Pharaoh Overlord, Hydria Spacefolk, to name a few have really opened up different dimensions of progressive/psychedelic rock that have not recently been tapped until now.
Cosmic Fall’s Kick Out The Jams is a bold and ambitious follow up to their debut album First Fall released back in 2016. Although the band were gracious enough to send me the physical CD copy I am reviewing the Digital Bandcamp Edition with the extra track Purple Weed. Kick Out The Jams Digital Bandcamp Edition contains 3 more mind expansive tracks over their debut First Fall taking the album to just about 90 minutes. Keep in mind Cosmic Fall are only a three man unit but this does not deduct from the vast huge wall of sound they are capable of. Now allow me to analyze this vast expanse of music track by track.
Saturn Highway is a monster 19+ minute epic that opens the album gracefully. This track immediately paints a picture that the listener is experiencing space travel on a deep interstellar level. The guitar opens it with a very heavy 1970’s psychedelic chord progression on the lead and the drums and fuzzy stoner style bass come in and pick up the rhythm off the guitar lead. The guitar also serves in a heavily atmospheric induced capacity during this time. The band already displays in uncanny prowess to add layers upon layers with the instruments at their dispose. Mathias Rosmann – Guitars has a intricate knowledge of guitar pedals and the various sounds they make possible. The same can be said for Klaus Fredrich – Bass. Their effective work on the bass and guitar pedals allow for the track to move forward creating a wall of various progressive and psychedelic atmospheric layers.
Daniel Sax – Drums really has a very flexible vibe about him top adjust to the various chord progressions from the bass and guitars. At about the 8:50 mark the entire composition takes on a strong interstellar echo as if the journey into space gets deeper and deeper to where it takes a subtle break. About the 11:11 mark the track starts to build again with layers upon layers. There is a brilliant isolation with the drum beats and soon the fuzzy style stoner bass comes into compliment the drums. The remainder of the track remains on point towards their objective of quality improvised psychedelic space rock with some heavy elements.
White Stone opens up with a very heavy psychedelic progressive passage that is more rooted within 1960’s style psychedelic rock. The track is very up tempo with plenty of well crafted fuzzy rhythm based guitar and bass. The drums completely carry the vast up tempo that the guitar and bass set up quite eloquently. About the 3:02 mark the track begins to taper off peeling back the layers towards a subtle finishing passage.
Earthfull This is another lengthy epic and longest song on Kick Out The Jams clocking in at 21+ minutes. It begins with a very deep bass drum complimented perfectly by a deeply down tuned bass drum and bass rhythm section. The guitar comes in more as a lead again running congruent with the deep rhythm section. The opening minute reminds me heavily of the band Earthless’ Sonic Prayer from 2007’s Rhythms From A Cosmic Sky.
The chord progressions on the guitar are also a very heavy 1960’s influenced progression in the vein of Paul Kantner of Jefferson Airplane meets Robby Kreiger from The Doors.Mathias Rosmann – Guitars has a very intricate knowledge and ability to use both guitar pedals and a wammy bar to produce the maximum sound distribution with minimal energy. The bass/drum rhythm section give the listener the appearance of a well choreographed dance between the fingers on the bass fret board and the tom tom, hi hat, snare combinations the drums continue to experiment with. This track has some serious stoner rock fuzzy passages throughout it. From a free flow improvised perspective this track has heavy Earthless and Oresund Space Collective influence all over it. About the 10:00 mark the track starts to take a more Lo-Fi minimalist approach very much in the spirit of Can, Popol Vuh and Faust from ‘Krautrock’s’ past. Cosmic Fall are not shy on full experimentation which makes for a very unique listening experience. At about the 14:40 mark the band allows the ‘objective listener’ a strong sense in floating into deep interstellar space. It also allows breathing room for the listener to digest the epic before picking back up again at the 16:00 mark where the band takes a more heavy prog approach.
Purple Weed is the bonus track on the ‘digital version only’of Kick Out The Jams which is what I am using for this review. It starts out like it is a cut away from another song. It opens more with a bridge style passage instead of a traditional genesis where they star off simple and proceed to build layers upon layers. The opening also captures the band in a more straight away psychedelic rock passage. This track does break and takes on another direction around the 2:30 mark allowing for the listener the choice to breath and digest or be alert and anticipate. Cosmic Fall have a unique and distinctive way of allowing the listener a choice of how they want to experience the music. The ambiguous jester within is very on point with the music as well.
Interstellar Junction in a strange backhanded way is probably the bands ‘most’ tangible track to attract people that are new to the band and their genre of progressive/psychedelic rock. It starts very up tempo with straight away 1970’s stoner/psychedelic chord progressions. Think Amon Dull ii meets Can meets Vanilla Fudge. The passages are very heavily progressive laden with various psychedelic atmospheres. This one is also recorded and performed live and is one of two on the album. This track also gives the listener the impression that there are two distinctive personalities on the album. Those personalities being of course, psychedelic and progressive. The last three tracks are more progressive/stoner hard rock than the previous four which are more experimental.
Stairway Jam starts out with a very seriously deep down tuned bass. Soon the methodical and sometimes off timed drums come in and start building a very organic rhythm section. Within that rhythm section and its progressive thunder comes the guitar that is allowed to breathe and take a more front and center approach, allowing the rhythm section of the bass/drums to lead it into various layers and dimensions. This jam takes on some very very heavy fuzzy chord progressions like those from the late 1960’s to middle 1970’s when psychedelic rock carried some heavier doom style elements. In the middle the rhythm section takes a more laid back approach and the guitar is allowed to take the listener on a strange , yet genius, cosmic journey towards the inner-space of the mind of the audience.
Cosmic Conclusion starts out with some seriously heavy hi-hat to tom – tom back to hi-hat drum blast beats. The drums immediately start out more in the aesthetic of doom metal in a very odd progressive kind of way. They literally even take the bass and make it initially as a percussive instrument until they both balance out with a more melodic rhythm section. The bass/drum rhythm section elegantly produce such a thunderous wall of sound that if envelopes the fullness of senses within the listeners audio pallet. For the most part this is a straight away heavy progressive/psychedelic track.
With the rich progressive rock and psychedelic rock heritage from Germany, Cosmic Fall has managed to create their own unique and distinctive sound that separates them from other bands of the genres. They maintain a creative minimalist sound while allowing the fullness of the instruments speak for itself. Kick Out The Jams certainly will give the band a ever growing fan-base while giving the band a much fuller live set. I give Cosmic Fall’s Kick Out The Jams a 5/5for integrity to the genre.
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