To stop the wave of suicides that apparently hit the English-speaking part of the Internet after my decision to quit doing WT for a while here’s a lovely “About Me” section with a now-cult photo of me with a basket of shrooms to save the last few remaining readers who haven’t taken their entire stashes of drugs and jumped out of their windows while blasting Fushitsusha at full volume.
Dear Readers, the time has come when I have to suspend the activity of Weed Temple until further notice.
The last few months have been exceptionally difficult both in terms of personal life and managing Weed Temple. The months between April and June have created some sort of bad luck triumvirate, each of these evens was bad of their own, but together they formed a sort of a tsunami wave that just drowned me relentlessly. First, I lost my job. Then, I lost my father (fuck you, cancer). Finally, I broke up with my fiancee with whom I’ve spent almost five years. I need some time to clear things up and get over it.
Thank you all for your cassettes, CD’s and vinyls I got, you all do an amazing job, following your dreams and realizing them in material form. I apologize to all those who are waiting for a write-up about their music and may never see it. There’s just too many of them and it’s becoming overwhelming, especially for one person.
Due to the aforementioned circumstances, I’m not much in the mood to write about music. I’m also at a point when I’m facing a serious risk of burning out, and that’s the last thing I want to happen, because I love music and writing about it. I want my writing to be fresh, interesting and engaging, but that demands some focus and will, the two things I’m missing at the moment.
This is not the end of Weed Temple. I’ll definitely come back, maybe in a month, maybe in half a year. I don’t know yet. I just need to take some time, put my life back into pieces and gain some distance. Maybe that’s what I need: a few months of collecting ideas and thoughts might be great for the blog in the long run. We’ll see.
I’ll probably continue to write some small news or articles for other websites, such as Tiny Mix Tapes, but Weed Temple will have to wait until it gets its fire burning again.
Thank you all for your support. I hope that Weed Temple will return as soon as possible. I don’t want to force it. I’ll come back when I feel ready. I need a breath of fresh air to continue doing this. I hope you understand and respect my decision. If you’d like to help, please donate using the button at the top of the page.
Your devot’d Author, Jakub Adamek
Some great new material from Magik Markers, released via the Arbitrary Signs label Bandcamp just a few weeks ago, proving that the good ol’ free rock Markers are not dead. Some Funk for Tunc and Squeo is a sort of a tribute album for two people: visual artist Michael Tunc, obsessed with detail and Magik Markers, and Tiny Mix Tapes editor Squeo, who’s also obsessed with Magik Markers, basically. Some Funk… greatly combines the distorted, freewheeling side of the band with their penchant for calmer, more melodic pieces. Of course, the opening 13 minute jam is the standout here, providing some tortured guitar processed beyond recognition over the funky, sleazy bass line and unassuming, yet impressive drumming… Magik Markers manage to completely blur the track of time, making 13 minutes feel like 3 minutes and making the listener to rewing to the beginning again… Such is the magik of those Markers. Highly recommended!
Are you hexperienced? That’s the question eveyone should ask themselves before commencing this 60 minute cassette by the Toronto based krautrock/psychedelic group Moonwood. Think of two jams, each half an hour long, which explores this mapless territory of drone-laden communal trippiness that just fluctuates slowly, rising slightly above the constant drones, like a hallucination of an improvised hippie jamming - a bit like Datashock’s Keine Oase in Sicht, with some great female worldess vocals added. This is the kind of psychedelia that doesn’t worship the amplifier or illustrate bucolic visions of nature. Instead we get the freeform, open-ended sonic tapestry that doesn’t really go anywhere, but in case of this tape we’re more content with the process of travelling itself than the destination.
Good God, just leave me floating in those Evian Christ-inspired nervous post-punk synth fluctutations of the opening “Brave New World” and I’ll be set forever. I think, at least. This beast comes from Prague, which is suprising, because it recalls some distinctively dystopian Londonian neighborhoods more than the classicism of Prague, untouched by war. Prague was touched by totalitarianism, however, and it can be heard here - the sound is autoritarian, cold and sometimes punishing. Very rhythmical, basically everything is slave to the rhythm here, in a cold, sorta mathematical way, but not without some worn out club appeal. Something for those blurry, half-drunk, half-energetic night trips when you don’t know whether you want to listen or you want to sleep. Let the digital glove touch you. Recommended!
Reality sure seems distant when you sink in into the angelic fuzz of the cassette analogue drone that sprawls slowly across the senses with the hazy class of Jeff Witscher’s ambient projects, or the early wokrs of Emeralds circa Allegory of Allergies. The new soothing Not Really That New Age electronic project is led by Levi Berner. Living in the hills of Pacific Northwest, he crafts deeply relaxing, otherwordly drones out of the aether, as if emanating from the sky. Or the ground. Or any surface of your choice. Because with this cassette, the world gets illuminated and hallucinatory. Get this tape, damn it.
There’s a new Japanese record label on the block, and it’s desperate to catch every aspect of new psychedelic rock that’s emerging right now in Japan. Knowing that Japan has a really long and fertile tradition of psychedelia, from the extended hippie jams of Flower Travellin’ Band to the white noise romantism of Les Rallizes Denudes and extreme jam homages of Acid Mothers Temple and the black hole apocalypse visions of Fushitsusha and the endless supersonic ascent of Boredoms, it’s a country that’s full of different ideas of psychedelic music. And the guys from Guruguru Brain take the torch of Japanese psych vanguard with grace and class. The Guruguru Brain Wash compilation manages to contain different shades of modern-day Japanese guitar psychedelia, from pop-oriented sunshine jams with some killer radio potential to labyrintine hallucinations stretching over several minutes, filled with soloes and distorted, illusory basslines. And the best thing is, the whole thing is available for free! Download it now, it’s a lengthy exploration of Japanese minds, but it’s totally worth it! Highly recommended!!!
Riot Season label gets some eternal cool points in my eyes not only for releasing albums from such kick-ass bands as Acid Mothers Temple or Shit & Shine, but also for putting all their catalog on Bandcamp for streaming and download (with quite low prices, too!). Now, here comes this 2009 sludgy, dirty gem from the London based distortion caveman team Todd. On Big Ripper they refine their style, combining relentless, unforgiving hxc vibes with super-amplified hyper-distortion, offering a good combination of psychedelic energy and punk nihility to destroy everything in sight. “The (R)wub” is a stand-out here, my absolute favorite, tearing through everything in its acidic heroin blues mode, piercing the ears and the skin with not-giving-a-fuck solos and mangled vocals. This is album is not only a big ripper. It’s a huge ripper. Highly recommended!
Under the simple and vulgar name of Kurws (literally: Whors) hides one of the more intelligent and well-thought out band of the last few years.
Despite the Wrocław based band is often compared to jazz groups, they say that punk rock is more important to their work. The subversive, rebellious nature of the band can be found in the band name itself. Jakub Majchrzak, the bassist of the band, admits: “My assumption after the first rehearsals with Kurws was enhancing for my own use the definition of the word punk”. There’s a clear reason why a voice says in the beginning of “Tanz Mit Kommune I”: “Poor youngsters play punk rock and they’re happy with that”. Kurws have also collaborated with Maciej Salamon from the Gdańsk based punk unit Gówno (Polish for “shit”), with whom they have made a cassette entitled “2012” with as Pustostany.
After the 2011 debut release “A Hole in the Ghetto” (Polish title: “Dziura w getcie”), Kurws are back with a new release “All That Is Solid Melts Into Air” (Polish: “Wszystko co stałe, rozpływa się w powietrzu”) via Gusstaff Records. It can be said that at the beginning of their career their image was tongue-in-cheek and quite humorous. Now it seems that they have gotten more serious and their music got a more concise sound. These suspicions are confirmed by Majchrzak: “There’s definitely less stupid fun, less pastiche and less funfair-like style juggling. There is, however, a whole caleidoscope - conscious or not - inspiration, the enjoyment of the stuff we play and I think it can be seen live. This new material unveiled its depressive potential, which makes me very happy, because I don’t see the band’s image as too “hooray” optimistic”.
An important information about the output of Kurws is the fact that the leave lots of hints to the educated and well-read listeners, as exemplified by the track titles. Many of them may sound funny or absurd at the first glance, but upon closer inspection one can find references to philosophers, famous figures, works of literature or historical facts. The title of the newest album is a quote from the “Communist Manifesto” by Karl Marx. Hubert Kostkiewicz, the bassist of the band, points out in the direction of the work of Marshall Berman under the same title. He also admits that he does not want to fully expain the title, because “he likes understatements”. However, as we will find out, the text of Berman’s book - describing different forms of modernist pursuit of destroying and rebuilding (from Goethe’s “Faust” to the oeuvre of New York architect Robert Moses) - is surprisingly coincident with the music of this Wrocław group.
There are many more references such as Berman’s on the album. Under the musical layer of energetic pieces, combining punk fury and the freedom of improvisation, there are references to the Italian marxist philosopher Antonio Gramsci (“Gramsci’s Nightmare” from the debut album) or the concepts of George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (new album’s opener “Weltgeist”). “Colossus on the Feet of Clay” refers to the term coined by the French writer Denis Diderot to describe Russia, taken from the Biblical Book of Daniel. “There Was no Wheel in the Inca Empire” refers to the curious fact of one of the biggest pre-Colombian civilization not knowing the invention of wheel. “Escape from Freedom” is an obvious nod to Erich Fromm. The band does not stay indifferent to current issues - dedicating one of the tracks on the previous album to Lech Wałęsa and making a composition about the Euro Zone on the new release. It can be said that each of titles has some sort of a second layer and the Kurws invite the listeners to explore the labyrinth not only of sounds, but also of ideas.
A certain toning down in the playful image of Kurws can be seen in the cover of “All That is Solid Melts Into Air” by Karolina Pietrzyk. The artwork is radically different from the parodistic cover of “A Hole in the Ghetto” by Janek Koza. On the cover the debut album we can see the fake, plastic-like pop star and… a pig. It works both as a funny contrast as well as an analogy (both are seen as products ready for consumption). Pietrzyk’s illustrations for the new album, depicting earthworks (and not digging of the grave, however the band members were aware of the comparison when choosing the picture) are sketchy, simple and seemingly made without much care and effort. Hubert Kostkiewicz explains the genesis of the cover: “The starting point when working on the new album’s cover was the renewal of the Nadodrze district a in Wrocław. Karolina Pietrzyk was exploring the area with a camera and a sketchbook and prepared an impressive documentation of endless renovations, excavations and metamorphoses. The material on the new album was recorded during many changes that we were experiencing. It was a very wide spectrum: from some prosaic changes to the awareness of an end of a certain period”. The metaphor, seen on the cover, refers not only to the process of recording of the second album and the changes in members’ personal lives, but also to the music itself. Anyone who has ever observed a construction process over a period of time, knows the feeling of chaos transforming into order - one gets the similar feeling when listenings to Kurws. With successive listens the seemingly mixed-up and messy music unveil the rigorous structure, showing the discipline in the band as well as the skill and the musical horizons of the band’s members.
The changes can be clearly heard on the new release: the sound of the band is still rowdy and rough, but there is more fluidity. Sometimes the rhythm and the melody can change several times over the course of one track, there is also more space for pure improvisation - however, Kurws consistently cut themselves off from jazz, often associated with improvised music. “If you treat jazz more as a philosophy, a pursuit of open forms, then I’m OK with this”, says Kostkiewicz, “But at the same time I really like the feeling of not knowing at all what is going to happen. Apart from that, to be honest, I don’t know much about jazz. This is how I imagine jazz”. Majchrzak too points out that the album is devoid of any “jazz-punk pretensions”. It is easiest to say that Kurws do not like to pigeonholed and labeled, like the case of often describing them as a noise rock band. “When it comes to noise rock and math rock, I don’t find myself in those traditions at all”, Jakub Majchrzak continues. “I don’t see any praise for mathematical beauty in our music - a few breaks in the 4/4 signature are not enough”. Kostkiewicz is also against the noise rock tag: “I was really tired and bored by the distortion, the amplification, the wall of sound. I was looking for a different dynamic. I was listening to a lot of garage, beat music and surf rock stuff from the mid 60’s, but also to Minutemen and Wire. Hell! I even listened passionately to Queens of the Stone Age and The Hives”.
I already wrote before about how Kurws tip their hat to the well-read, intelligent listeners. But that is not all. The members also treat their foreign listeners with special respect, translating the Polish titles of the tracks into English, Russian and even Spanish (with the American release of “A Hole in the Ghetto”). On the band’s Bandcamp page the English titles exist right next to the Polish originals in harmony. Apart from widening their fanbase with foreign language titles, the Kurws also have a rich history of touring across Europe. Jakub Majchrzak recalls: “the best reception is either in places where the people listen to a lot of music and have wide horizons or where the people are very open for new experiences and hungry for new music. There are two such extremes: Slovenia on one end and Bosnia and Herzegovina on the other”. He remembers the great reception of the Swedish fans, especially in Stockholm, where they are welcomed with bigger enthusiasm every time they visit the Swedish capital. Maybe it is now time to translate the titles into Swedish?
(Almost) hot on the heels of Duy Gebord's Mangrove comes a new cassette, Kelp, released by the Toruń/Warsaw avant-garde revivalists Pawlacz Perski (English for “Persian cupboard”). Considering the content of Gebord’s previous tape, the music found here is surprisingly quiet and coherent, not lacking a healthy portion of mystery and scraped, bare soundscapes with a touch of field recordings and sound collage disinformation techniques. A bit in the field of cold musique concrete and a bit in the cozy early IDM area, the new cassette by Guy Debord is like a mirror labirynth; fascinating and dazzling at the same time.
It seems like there are so many cool labels, projects and bands popping up in my country every month (every week, even!), I could easily change the name of the blog to Awesome Tapes from Poland and still keep the same rate of posting, if not higher. This time, following the footsteps of Sangoplasmo, DUNNO Recordings, BDTA and Wounded Knife (to name a very few) is the fresh Warsaw based label Jasień. The label debuts with two cassettes.
The first release is Hang by the Warsaw shoegaze band Evvolves. With a strangely psychedelic, messy cover comes a surprisingly strong and gentle distorted dream pop, with some beautifully reverbed vocals, leaving ghostly vapors all over the place (maybe that’s why the artwork seems informed by vaporwave in some twisted, prophetic way?). The songs come off as well-rounded and greatly executed, as if culled from the golden era of shoegaze.
The next release will be probably already known to the readers of Weed Temple, because the second cassette by the Jasień label is 30 Minut tape by Jakub Lemiszewski, one of my favorite Polish experimental artists. This album was already featured on WT, and it’s doubly great to see this collection released in a material format. Barbaric, crazy plunderphonics combining spoken word passages with faux-luxury sleazewave stuck somewhere between 1991, Negativland and some ultra lo-fi slowcore stuck deep in the woods (or in the bedroom, at least).
You can visit Jasień on Facebook.