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A. 'Drifting Way Out Between Suns' (20:11)
B. 'Quantum Shift On Plague Mothership' (21:08)
Following their debut release 'Sun Rot', a cassette only album on Riot Season offshoot label Swap Meat, New Liquid Power Trio Super group from Newcastle, BLOWN OUT issue their debut album proper 'Drifting Way Out Between Suns'
Made from members of BONG, Drunk In Hell, Haikai No Ku, 11Paranoias, Khünnt, Lobster Priest and Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs
'Drifting Way Out Between Suns' offers up forty plus minutes of sonic bass lines, steady free form tempos, totally crushing, waster infused, head-change guitar leads.
The trio evoke the psychedelic jam music of San Francisco's glory days - effects-laden guitar jamming that goes nowhere and everywhere, held down by a hypnotic groove that never misses a beat, no matter how long they play without pause. The blues-rock roots of the jamming makes for a calming experience, after the head-fuck you'll experience waiting for them. Sonically heavy rolling-thunder basslines, shaped by total head-change waster infused guitar freak-outs, gelled together with steady freeform rhythms. You have to learn to die before you die. You give up, surrender to the void, to nothingness.
BLOWN OUT are
Mike Vest (Bong, 11Paranoias, Haikai No Ku, Basillica) on Guitar
John-Michael Hedley (Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs) on Bass
Matt Baty (Khünnt & Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs) on Drums
Blown Out assemble members of several already prolific UK doom, sludge and stoner groups, including Bong, Drunk In Hell and Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs. They produce two sides of space rock that errs more towards the freak out than blissed out. The follow up to their debut cassette ‘Sun Rot’ cements their combination of Hawkwind style heavy motorik and dayglo blues rock solos.
Washing off the blood from their other more feral projects, members of Bong, Drunk In Hell and Khunnt gather together to contemplate the infinite over a brace of mesmeric fuzz-drenched psych epics. The title track unfurls a stream of beatific dronescapes that are immersive in their comfort, a balm-like swathe of contemplative trio interplaying. The second side, “Quantum Shift On Plague Mothership” is a Carlton Melton-style journey through slothful languor: its seductive grooves are a head nod away from enacting blissful unconsciousness. Its rarified, unhurried pulse is a world away from their origins, but only adds more lustre to its exotic otherness”
Ah… Mike Vest. How many bands can an axe slinger take on in any given amount of time? How many ‘waster lead, face slashing, freaked out, black-hole-psychedelic-deathtoll-car-crash-blues-jams’ can a man stand? Quite a few, it seems. In Blown Out, he’s joined by John-Michael Hedley (low axe) and Matt Baty (hammers) from the aptly named Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs, whom themselves released an excellent slab of noise called Psychopomp this September.
Here’s an open secret to the guitar work of mister Vest: pick a random SG, get a Carlsbro Stingray combo amp, then add a core pedal line-up of modified Big Muff, delay, wah, and phaser. Play all of these like you’re a psychedelic caveman version of Hendrix who listened to too many early Skullflower records. Vary amounts of pedals and different studio tricks to diversify records. Give records different names, use different rhythm sections on each. Never forget to add a boatload of useful adjectives like ‘lysergic swirling chocolate’ to describe the noise. Pronto. Thus, Blown Out, Bong, Haikai No Ku, 11Paranoias and other bands Vestorino played in all share a certain guitar sensibility even though production and rhythm dynamics vary wildly.
Primitive psychedelic HendrixFlower. That’s what this album, correctly named Drifting Way Out Between The Suns, sounds like. The two Pigs on rhythm duty aptly support Mike Vest’s subtly changing guitar vortexes, with Matt on drums delivering a single minded, ride cymbal driven Mitch Mitchell groove and Johnny’s thick-as-my-mommas-syrup bass superbly coated over the fluid freeform rhythms. The two jams contained herein each trudge on for a full twenty minutes, giving the band and the listener ample to time to lose themselves in the freeform waves of singular groove and caveman psychedelics. Parts subtly change; sometimes Vest grabs hold of a passing comet while the other two chaps keep it locked tight, sometimes Hedley grabs hold of Vest’s solo parts and amplifies them with black hole bottom-end while Baty’s drums march on to the sun.
It’s all starting to sound a bit familiar, isn’t it? Did I repeat myself there, after making fun of adjectives in the intro? Yeah. Stoner, doom, psych, drone – these by now popular genres (watch the festival line-ups and metal magazines, ya nutter!) are a bit saturated with this kinda psych-jam thing now, not in a small part due to mister Vest himself. They’re also saturated with shitty reviews like this, hence my own self-parody. For those who don’t know Mike’s previous output yet love freeform psych jams, this album is a fine addition to your collection. For those who do, it’s only the twentieth iteration of the same guitar sound with ever-marching jamrock rhythm section, and not the most extraordinary either. Haikai No Ku, Bong and 11Paranoias will serve you better.
Or maybe all you need is a decidedly new slab of noise to stick your heads into in order to forget about tomorrow.
But I? I need more. Vision. Execution. Intuition. I don’t give a fuck, just feed me, ya slackers! I’ve worshipped your dedication to liberating noise for years!! To quote the Big Black Ass Steve Albini, I need it like a fix.. I need it to relieve my pathetic, dilapidated urban existence. And yet, I’ve built up tolerance… But alas… I digress. Apologies. I am keenly aware this is still a review.
THE SLEEPING SHAMAN
Bong released the album of their career this year with Stoner Rock, the new Haikai No Ku album was frankly jaw dropping and having heard a sneak preview of the new 11Paranoias release, I can tell you it is fucking ridiculous. Mike Vest has hit a staggering rich vein of form in 2014 and if those releases aren’t enough, here is another in the form of Blown Out where he’s joined by Matt and Johnny from Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs, who themselves just unleashed the stunningly original and heavy Psychopomp. At this point I would like to ask… what the fuck is happening in Newcastle? It’s become the UK’s creative hub for boundary pushing rock bands. Good on the Toon! Anyway, Drifting Way Out Between Suns is being released on Riot Season, a label that boasts a roster that shits over every other label in the universe. Let’s get stuck in!
Drifting Way Out Between Suns is just two tracks, about 20 minutes each, giving us just the right amount of time to sit in an arm chair and be taken to places. There’s little build up before we’re right in the middle of it, what Blown Out are all about, three guys having a rather laid back jam. It’s a trip, but not a crazy freak out trip… it’s one that is based on repetition and the subtle changes to the guitar work is all you need for your mind to be pulled in different directions.
It does actually feel like you are drifting through space on some kind of craft, someone else driving though so all that is left for you to do is kick back and enjoy the amazing view. The rhythm section keep it tight, providing an tremendous platform for Mike to really let go on his guitar. There is all sorts of experimentation going on where he creates all kinds of trippy swirls and distorted magic.
By the time the second track ‘Quantum Shift on Mothership’ finishes you realise the whole thing is deceptively progressive, the overall story is dramatic but the changes happen so slowly you don’t even notice… like the changing of the seasons. Fucking wonderful, think a slowed down version of The Cosmic Dead. It’s like getting a warm hug from the universe, HIGH-ly recommended!
ECHOES AND DUST
Right, you know that moment in sword and sorcery films where the hero climbs to the top of a peak to see what’s going on and his jaw drops because in the valley below is an orc army thousands and thousands strong? Well, this album would make a great soundtrack for one of those moments.
Two spiralling tracks of unashamed freak out make up Blown Out‘s Drifting Way Out Between Suns that will lead you towards worlds where ancient civilizations once existed and where the black lotus leads your mind into a drug-fuelled fug.
echo-soaked guitar plays a whirling dervish of Side one’s colossal title track already hints at its cosmic expanse from the opening few seconds and from its title. This is trip-out music, a mulch of Acid Mothers Temple and early Hawkwind mixed into a blissed-out, space-trucking guide through galactic other worlds. Bass and drums churn restlessly while wild echo-soaked guitar plays a whirling dervish of notes that could have helped the collapse of Atlantis and signalled the rise of the sons of Aryas.
At points the music spirals around, and the lead guitar gets very Hendrix-like at times as the band lays into a stoner groove and the weedian master rises from the smoke, his cloak of leaves billowing about him. Everything about the track is designed to take your mind to a different landscape and let it wander there for a time (twenty minutes to be exact). This is psychedelic music for the Rodney Matthews poster generation.
Track (side) two is called “Quantum Shift On Plague Mothership” and is a twenty-one minute epic that starts with doom drone notes to which a tolling space echoed guitar sends warnings and portents to the dangers of travelling so far from mother Earth. Here you are so far out that Pluto is your nearest neighbour. This is the kind of track you would put on if you were running the old RPG game Traveller. It’s man drifting alone in the void in pristine spacecraft being separated from the rest of humanity and letting the endless nothing of the cosmos enter his mind. This is Jack Kirby’s 2001 adaptation, this is a multi-coloured trip to the monolith.
The music gains a certain amount of urgency as the track progresses, but all the while the lead guitar pushes the sound out further and further. The bass and drums here still hold some semblance of creating rhythms by which to reach the sky. You are beyond the solar wind and there’s only one route ahead of you. It owes allegiance to space rock, but is more like inner space rock. Put it on and leave planet Earth behind for a while.
Whether you’re standing at the edge of that peak or the edge of the universe, Drifting Way Out Between Suns is for you.
Recently, thanks to Brett Savage of Dead Sea Apes, I was introduced to the sonic delight that is Haikai No Ku’s “Ultra High Dimensionality” – when I saw that sister-band Blown Out were about to release “Drifting Way Out Between Suns”, I knew I had to have more of that sound in my life.
My brain, what there is of it, paints pictures, usually cinematic approximations of what I hear, and in the case of Haikai No Ku and Blown Out, I am immediately, transcendentally conveyed to the Do Long Bridge scene in Apocalypse Now…
I was already a huge fan of Hendrix when I first saw the movie on video as a teenager, so the Hendrix inspired, Randy Hansen scored bridge scene remains indelibly seared onto my hippocampus.
I would however beg to differ with the generalisation, that the aurality of Haikai No Ku or Blown Out is “apocalyptic” – at least in the narrow sense of the word.
What that particular scene and this music effectively portray for me, is a reality so profound that it is often erroneously described as surreal, when in actuality it is more akin to the hyperreal.
Surreal for me is an overused term, a handy pigeon hole for those too lazy to look beyond their comfort zone.
The apocalypse has become an imagined, hackneyed biblical term for the end of days. It is in fact the prophetic disclosure or revelation of the here and now, to be seen by the willing and embraced.
As Huxley postulated, “the man who comes back through the Door in the Wall will never be quite the same as the man who went out.”
“Drifting Way Out Between Suns” transmits you through that door and beyond the realms of inner and outer space, it is a place of peace and tranquility, leaving you floating effortlessly, soulful and serene.
e.e. cummings, with whom I share a healthy disdain for the orhtography of capitlalisation, wrote “the moment you feel, you’re nobody-but-yourself”.
Feeling is everything, there is no light without shade nor doom without absolution, live it, seize feeling for the friend it truly is…
If you do not feel more alive and energised on listening to this record, do yourself a favour and have someone check for a pulse.
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