Tag: MIEN

Live Footage: The Black Angels Perform “Young Men Dead” at LEVITATION Festival

Levitation Festival (formerly known as Austin Psych Fest) can trace its beginnings to a simple idea devised by the members of  The Black Angels in the back of a tour van in 2007 — let’s invite all of our favorite bands and all of our friends for our version of a music festival. 

The inaugural Austin Psych Fest was in March 2008 and by popular demand, the festival expanded to a three day event the following year. Austin Psych Fest quickly became an international destination for psych rock fans with lineups featuring up-and-comers, cult favorites, legendary and influential acts and a headlining set from The Black Angels. Renamed Levitation in honor of Austin psych rock pioneers The 13th Floor Elevators, the festival has sparked an new, international psych rock movement while inspiring the creation of several similar events across the globe, including Levitation Festival events in Chicago, Vancouver, France and a SXSW showcase, as well as other special events in Europe and Latin America.

Late last year, Levitation Festival’s record label, The Reverberation Appreciation Society announced the launch of a new live album series, Live at LEVITATION. Comprised of material played and recorded throughout the festival’s decade-plus history, the live album series specifically captures and documents key artists in the contemporary psych rock scene. Of course, many of these moments were also important moments of Austin’s live music scene. 

The live series’ first album Kikagaku Moyo — Live at LEVITATION featured two different Kikagaku Moyo sets — their 2014 Levitation Festival set, which was one of the Japanese psych rock act’s first Stateside shows and their return to Levitation back in 2019, during a sold-out Stateside tour, which included a stop at Warsaw that year with Japanese krautrockers Minami Deutsch.

Live at LEVITATION‘s second album The Black Angels — Live at LEVITATION features the festival’s founders The Black Angels. The Black Angels live album is comprised of material recorded at Austin Psych Fest 2010, 2011 and 2012, and captures a rare glimpse of the festival’s earlier, more humble days. And of course, for Black Angels fans, like myself, the album features live version of six songs from their first two albums — Passover and Directions to See a Ghost. “Since the beginning The Black Angels were meant to be heard live,” the band’s Christian Bland explains in press notes. “This record captures the rumble of the drums and amps, and the very essence of the way it should sound. Now future generations and new listeners can now hear how these songs were meant to be heard.”

The album’s first single was a hypnotic and equally menacing version of Passover single “Manipulation” that featured a mesmerizing guest spot from Elephant Stone‘s bassist, sitarist and frontman Rishi Dihr. And building up more buzz for the album’s release day — which is tomorrow — the band released the live album’s second and latest single, a muscular and menacing version of Passover single “Young Men Dead.” The accompanying live footage captures the band and their live sound with an uncanny fidelity.

This weekend is a big weekend for the band: As I mentioned their live album, Black Angels — Live at LEVITATION is slated for a digital and vinyl release tomorrow. And if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past year, you’d recall that The Black Angels and MIEN frontman Alex Mass released his solo debut, a meditative and gentler take on the psych rock sound he’s developed throughout his nearly two decade career, inspired by the birth of his son Luca.

Much like countless other artists across the globe, the pandemic has put touring on hold indefinitely. So, Maas and his backing band — Bryan Richie, Jake Garcia and Rob Kidd — decamped to nearby Bastrop, TX to bring the live show that they had developed around the album’s material to the world through a live performance film, shot in the Texan city’s historic downtown.  “We shot this down in an old opera house built in 1889 and a 100 year old German tailor mercantile building in historic downtown, which is now Astro Records,” Maas says in press notes. “This session is a glimpse of what a tour on Luca would look like had we not been in a pandemic. It was a joy to get out and get back with the friends and collaborators I created this album with, and bring these songs to life. For now this is the world tour, and a look at what we’re looking forward to being able to do on stage when we are back up and rolling! Thank you to Jonas Wilson of Mr. Pink Records who asked me originally to film this in the beautiful city of Bastrop.” 

Featuring sections from Luca and three new songs, the live session shot in Bastrop, TX will stream as a Levitation Session on March 27, 2021 at 7:00PM Central.

Live Footage: The Black Angels’ Alex Maas Releases a Teaser of His Upcoming LEVITATION Session

Alex Maas is an Austin, TX-based singer/songwriter, best known for being the frontman and founding member of acclaimed Austin-based psych rock act The Black Angels and psych rock supergroup MIEN. In 2018, Maas’ life changed with the birth of his first child, a healthy and happy baby boy that he and his partner named Luca, which means bringer of life.

With his son’s birth, Maas experienced a complex flurry of emotions he hadn’t experienced or known before. Of course, he felt profound joy and awe over the creation of a new life — but there was to some lesser degree a deeply gnawing fear: What sort of world was his son going to grow up into and inhabit, exactly? How could Maas protect him its dangers and uncertainties? “The world is definitely messed up,” Maas says in press notes. “But there’s a lot of good in it too, and that’s why the whole world isn’t on fire—parts of it are. I do believe that there’s more good than evil.”

Deriving its name from the name of his first-born son, Maas’ Brett Orrison co-produced, full-length album Luca was released late last year through Innovative Leisure. Although, the album found Maas’ stepping out into the spotlight as a solo artist in his own right, the album’s material was a actually a long time coming, with some of its material dating back almost a decade — and painstakingly put together piece-by-piece over the past couple of years. While still rooted in the psych rock sound that helped win him fans and accolades across the global psych rock scene as a member of The Black Angels and MIEN, Luca’s material offers a much gentler, mediative take, showcasing what Maas says is “a whole different part of my brain.”

Inspired by the enormous skies and quiet, nature-filled expanses of his home state, the album finds Maas contemplating his son’s future in the terrifying and uncertain world, which he was born in and how he may attempt to navigate the perils, disappointments and frustrations of our world and our society. Unsurprisingly, it makes Luca the most personal and direct material, Maas has written and recorded in his nearly two decade recording career.

Last year, I wrote about two of Luca’s album singles:

“The City,” a woozy and intimate campfire-like song with a hauntingly sparse arrangement that reckons with the larger and brutal, historical cycle of human cruelty and violence. The song evokes despair, heartache and horror over the senselessness, stupidity and cruelty of our infighting and behavior towards each other,. “The enemy is always just outside the door and the enemy could be anything,” Maas explains.
“Been Struggling,” a dreamy and shuffling waltz that brings both classic Nashville and Scott Walker to mind, centered around a meditation on memory, fate and loss from the prospective of narrator who has seemingly lived a full and very messy life.

Much like countless other artists across the globe, the pandemic has put touring on hold indefinitely. So, Maas and his backing band — Bryan Richie, Jake Garcia and Rob Kidd — decamped to nearby Bastrop, TX to bring the live show that they had developed around the album’s material to the world through a live performance film, shot in the Texan city’s historic downtown. “We shot this down in an old opera house built in 1889 and a 100 year old German tailor mercantile building in historic downtown, which is now Astro Records,” Maas says in press notes. “This session is a glimpse of what a tour on Luca would look like had we not been in a pandemic. It was a joy to get out and get back with the friends and collaborators I created this album with, and bring these songs to life. For now this is the world tour, and a look at what we’re looking forward to being able to do on stage when we are back up and rolling! Thank you to Jonas Wilson of Mr. Pink Records who asked me originally to film this in the beautiful city of Bastrop.”

Featuring sections from Luca and three new songs, the live session shot in Bastrop, TX will stream as a Levitation Session on March 27, 2021 at 7:00PM Central. To celebrate the upcoming release of the live session and to build up some buzz for it, Levitation and Maas released a sneak peek of the session, “Too Much Hate,” a new song, played in a live setting. Centered around a spectral arrangement of reverb-drenched guitars, driving and tribal-like toms, shimmering keys and Maas’ intimate vocals, “Too Much Hate” is an incisive and thoughtful criticism of the ills of our world: from how we treat each other, how we raised our babies and our penchant for rash and impulsive decisions — without consideration of their long-term effect on ourselves and others. Indeed, there’s too much hate in our world and not enough listening and thinking.

“I tried to touch on a few things on this song that would attempt to identify things that make the world more beautiful,” Maas says of the new single. “I’ve been trying to give solutions and not just speak about the cancer that is eating our culture. Some problems of society are rooted in how we raise our children, how we treat each other and quick uninformed decisions when people shoot from the hip as opposed to sitting back and thinking rationally about how to act instead of reacting.”

You can purchase tickets to the livestream. But along with that you can grab an audio download of the session, plus limited edition cassettes and t-shirts with artwork by Real Fun Wow, available exclusively as part the stream. And you can also purchase a package that includes all of the above, with a limited edition vinyl pressing LP, signed by Maas and his backing band. Purchase link and information can be found here: https://levitation-austin.com/products/alex-maas-stream-ticket

Levitation Sessions Presents Alex Maas will be releasing through all digital retailers on April 9, 2021 and on vinyl early this summer.

New Video: Alex Maas Releases a Meditative and Melancholic Visual for “The City”

Austin, TX-based singer/songwriter Alex Maas is known for being the frontman and founding member of acclaimed Austin-based psych rock act The Black Angels and psych rock supergroup MIEN. Maas’ life changed in 2018 with the birth of his first child, a healthy and happy baby boy, he and his partner named Luca, which means “bringer of light.”

With Luca’s brith, Maas experienced a flurry of emotions he hadn’t felt before.There was profound joy and awe over the creation of a new life — but there was to some lesser degree, a gnawing fear: What sort of world was his son going to grow up into, exactly? And how could Maas protect him from its dangers? “The world is definitely messed up,” Maas says in press notes. “But there’s a lot of good in it too, and that’s why the whole world isn’t on fire—parts of it are. I do believe that there’s more good than evil.”

Named for his first-born child, Maas’ Brett Orrison co-produced full-length debut Luca saw its official release today through Innovative Leisure. Interestingly, the new album was actually a long time coming, with some of it material dating back almost a decade — and put together piece-by-piece over the past couple of years. Featuring songs that are a much gentler, meditative take on the psych rock sound he’s best known for, the album is a decided sonic departure, showcasing what Maas says is “a whole different part of my brain.”

Driven by the quiet, nature-filled expanses of his home state, Luca finds Maas contemplating his son’s future, the terrifying and uncertain world he was born in and how to navigate the perils and frustrations of our society. And as a result. Luca is arguably the most personal and direct material Maas has written in his nearly two decade recording career.

“The City,” Luca‘s latest single is a woozy and intimate campfire song that reckons with the larger, historical cycle of human violence. The hauntingly sparse arrangement — guitar and Maas’ imitable vocals — manages to evoke the horror, terror and senselessness of our behavior to one another. “The enemy is always just outside the door and the enemy could be anything,” Maas explains.

To celebrate the release of the album, the Laura Lynn Petrick-directed video for “The City” was shot on grainy and old-timey Super 8 film — and the visual is a meditative and melancholic look at America, capturing the mundanity of the country with a sort of bleary-eyed exhaustion.

New Audio: The Black Angels’ Alex Maas Releases a Haunting New Single off His Solo Debut

Austin, TX-based singer/songwriter Alex Maas is known for being the frontman and founding member of acclaimed Austin-based psych rock act The Black Angels and psych rock supergroup MIEN. Maas’ life changed in 2018 with the birth of his first child, a healthy and happy baby boy, he and his partner named Luca, which means “bringer of light.”

With Luca’s brith, Maas experienced a flurry of emotions he hadn’t felt before.There was profound joy and awe over the creation of a new life — but there was to some lesser degree, there was a gnawing fear: What sort of world was his son going to grow up into, exactly? And how could Maas protect him from its dangers? “The world is definitely messed up,” Maas says in press notes. “But there’s a lot of good in it too, and that’s why the whole world isn’t on fire—parts of it are. I do believe that there’s more good than evil.”

Named for his first-born child, Maas’ Brett Orrison co-produced full-length debut Luca is slated for a December 4, 2020 please through Innovative Leisure. The album was a long time coming, with some of its material dating back almost a decade — and put together piece-by-piece over the past couple of years. Featuring songs that are a much gentler, meditative take on the psych rock sound we know him for, the album is a decided sonic departure, showcasing what Maas says is “a whole different part of my brain.”

Driven by the quiet, nature-filled expanses of his home state, Luca finds Maas contemplating his son’s future, the terrifying and uncertain world he was born in and how to navigate the perils and frustrations of our society. And as a result. Luca is arguably the most personal and direct material Maas has written in his nearly two decade recording career.

Last month, I wrote about “Been Struggling,” a dreamy and shuffling waltz that reminded me a bit of the melancholy psychedelia of Scott Walker and the classic Nashville sound — but while centered around meditation of memory, fate and loss from the perspective of a narrator, who has lived a messy and full life. “The City,” Luca’s latest single is a woozy and intimate campfire that reckons with the larger, historical cycle of human violence. The hauntingly sparse arrangement manages to evoke the horror, terror and senselessness of our behavior to one another. “The enemy is always just outside the door and the enemy could be anything,” Maas explains.

New Audio: The Black Angels’ Alex Maas Releases a Contemplative and Dreamy Single off His Forthcoming Solo Debut

Best known as the frontman and founding member of the acclaimed Austin, TX-based psych rock act and JOVM mainstays The Black Angels — and a member of acclaimed psych rock supergroup MIEN, Alex Maas will be stepping out into the spotlight as a solo artist with the release of his full-length debut Luca.

Named for Maas’ firstborn child, Luca, which means “bringer of light,” the Mass and Brett Orrison co-produced album, which is slated for a December 4, 2020 release through Innovative Leisure was a long time coming — with some of its material dating back almost a decade and put together piece-by-piece over the course of a couple of years. Centered around a much gentler, contemplative take on psychedelia, Luca is a decided sonic departure from Maas’ best known work, showcasing what Maas says “a whole different part of gym brain.”

“I wanted to go someplace musically that I’ve never gone before,” Maas continues. Thematically, the album is driven by the nature and quiet of Maas’ home state and by his meditations about his son, his future, the often frightening world he was born in and how to navigate through the perils and frustrations of modern society. Interestingly, the album’s first single “Been Struggling” is a dreamy and shuffling waltz, centered around strummed guitar, shimmering pedal steel and Maas’ imitable falsetto that sonically nods at the melancholy psychedelia of Scott Walker and the classic Nashville sound. Instead of the menace, madness and darkness of his best known work, “Been Struggling” is a pensive meditation on memory, fate and loss from the perspective of a narrator, who has lived a messy and drama fueled life.

New Video: Psych Rock Supergroup MIEN Release Sinuous, Hand-Painted, Animated Visuals for Album Single “Earth Moon”

Comprised of The Black Angels‘ Alex Mass (vocals, samples, loops), The Horrors‘ Tom Furse (keys, programming), Elephant Stone‘s Rishi Dhir (bass, sitar, keys) and The Earlies‘ John-Mark Lapham (keys, samples, programming), the indie All-Star supergroup and side project MIEN can trace its origins to roughly 2004, when Rishi Dhir, who was playing sitar and bass with a previous band on a SXSW bill with The Brian Jonestown Massacre had a chance encounter with The Black Angels’ Alex Mass. Dihr also had a chance encounter with The Earlies, who he would similarly collaborate and share a stage with. Interestingly, Mass, Dihr and Lapham bonded over a mutual love and appreciation of The Association‘s “Wantin’ Ain’t Gettin;” in fact, upon learning that Lapham had a deep desire to cover it, they all began the slow process of putting together the version they’d always dreamt of. Unfortunately, while that never came to fruition, it created the collaborative and creative sparks that would become MIEN.

In 2012, Dihr was playing bass with The Black Angels, and at the time they were sharing bills with The Horrors, whose Skying was on heavy rotation for him. Dihr made the acquaintance of Tom Furse, and they made a pact to work together on something in the future. As a quartet, the members of MIEN made another pass at covering The Association but coincidentally around the same time, there was a Lapham demo, based around a Beastie Boys sample that eventually became the murky and hallucinatory “Black Habit,” the first single off the band’s self-titled debut.

The album’s second and latest single “Earth Moon” continues on a similar ambient and kaleidoscopic vibe; however, the song finds the act pairing propulsive yet atmospheric electronics with shimmering sitar — and while being as menacing as its predecessor, sonically it’s a perfect amalgamation of Directions to See a Ghost-era The Black Angels and Elephant Stone. 

The recently released video for “Earth Moon” features the sinuous and undulating, hand-painted animation of Rochester, NY-based visual artist and musician Mike Turzanski. As MIEN’S John Mark Lapham says in press notes “I’ve admired Mike Turzanski’s artwork since around 2011 when he did some work for a project I was working on at the time called The Revival Hour. Mike is a Rochester, NY based artist and musician that creates these surreal and oftentimes nightmarish worlds through his art. (I’ve been looking for ways to work with him again ever since he had me and a friend of mine dunked in a cold lake in Rochester spitting pink goo out of our mouths for a photography project… don’t ask…) When it came time to find an artist to create a video for Earth Moon, he was the first person I thought of. I knew he had done a lot painting and sketches, but wasn’t sure he ever tackled a completely animated video production. When I asked him if he’d be interested, he jumped on it and within a few weeks we got a fully formed hand painted video! Mike’s an amazing artist and we’re honored to have his hands all over MIEN. I’m looking forward to our next collaboration (though hopefully not in a freezing lake this time…)”

“The vision for “Earth Moon”’s video was first presented to me with the visual inspiration of early 70s animations. These vintage videos have the distinct look and feel of something completely hand made,” Mark Turzanski explains of the video concept in press notes. “Looping psychedelic visuals in a very raw form felt like the best approach. Each frame was hand drawn and scanned in to produce the analog and physical look. Taking this older cel animation frame by frame technique was very consuming but well worth the result.  “Earth Moon” is a song that makes you feel like your body is a rippling wave in space. I wanted to create a video that would only add to this feeling.”

New Audio: Indie Rock Supergroup MIEN Return with a Shimmering and Menacing New Single

Comprised of The Black Angels‘ Alex Mass (vocals, samples, loops), The Horrors‘ Tom Furse (keys, programming), Elephant Stone‘s Rishi Dhir (bass, sitar, keys) and The Earlies‘ John-Mark Lapham (keys, samples, programming), the indie All-Star supergroup and side project MIEN can trace its origins to roughly 2004, when Rishi Dhir, who was playing sitar and bass with a previous band on a SXSW bill with The Brian Jonestown Massacre had a chance encounter with The Black Angels’ Alex Mass. Dihr also had a chance encounter with The Earlies, who he would similarly collaborate and share a stage with. Interestingly, Mass, Dihr and Lapham bonded over a mutual love and appreciation of The Association‘s “Wantin’ Ain’t Gettin;” in fact, upon learning that Lapham had a deep desire to cover it, they all began the slow process of putting together the version they’d always dreamt of. Unfortunately, while that never came to fruition, it created the collaborative and creative sparks that would become MIEN.

In 2012, Dihr was playing bass with The Black Angels, and at the time they were sharing bills with The Horrors, whose Skying was on heavy rotation for him. Dihr made the acquaintance of Tom Furse, and they made a pact to work together on something in the future. As a quartet, the members of MIEN made another pass at covering The Association but coincidentally around the same time, there was a Lapham demo, based around a Beastie Boys sample that eventually became the murky and hallucinatory “Black Habit,” the first single off the band’s self-titled debut. 

The album’s second and latest single “Earth Moon” continues on a similar ambient and kaleidoscopic vibe; however, the song finds the act pairing propulsive yet atmospheric electronics with shimmering sitar — and while being as menacing as its predecessor, it’s oddly enough the most Black Angels-like song they’ve released to date. 

New Video: Indie Rock, All-Star, Super Group MIEN Release Trippy and Menacing Visuals of “Black Habit”

Comprised of The Black Angels’ Alex Mass (vocals, samples, loops), The Horrors’ Tom Furse (keys, programming), Elephant Stone’s Rishi Dhir (bass, sitar, keys) and The Earlies’ John-Mark Lapham (keys, samples, programming), the indie All-Star supergroup and side project MIEN can trace its origins to roughly 2004, when Rishi Dhir, who was playing sitar and bass with a previous band on a SXSW bill with The Brian Jonestown Massacre had a chance encounter with The Black Angels’ Alex Mass. Dihr also had a chance encounter with The Earlies, who he would similarly collaborate and share a stage with. Interestingly, Mass, Dihr and Lapham bonded over a mutual love and appreciation of The Association’s “Wantin’ Ain’t Gettin;” in fact, upon learning that Lapham had a deep desire to cover it, they all began the slow process of putting together the version they’d always dreamt of. Unfortunately, while that never came to fruition, it created the collaborative and creative sparks that would become MIEN. 

In 2012, Dihr was playing bass with The Black Angels, and at the time they were sharing bills with The Horrors, whose Skying was on heavy rotation for him. Dihr made the acquaintance of Tom Furse, and they made a pact to work together on something in the future. Now, as a quartet, they made another pass at covering The Association but coincidentally, there was a Lapham demo, originally based around a Beastie Boys sample that eventually became “Black Habit,” the latest single off the band’s forthcoming self-titled debut. Interestingly, MIEN’s sound as you’ll hear on “Black Habit” manages to be a seamless synthesis of the sounds and work of each of the individual members long-term, major projects, the song finds them exploring ambient sounds paired with motorik-like grooves; but underneath is a feverish and hallucinatory vibe that manages to evoke the unsettling paranoia of our Fake News/everything is going to hell in a hand basket world. 

Naturally, the accompanying visuals are equally trippy — drawing from 60s psychedelia but with the same paranoia at its core.