Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Darsombra Interview

I've been a fan of Brian Daniloski's music since his days in Meatjack, who were a staple of both CBGB's and my college all-nighters. With Darsombra, he took the slow menace of Meatjack and distilled it into something meditative and transcendental - coinciding with my own growing interest in doom/drone. I'm a sucker for music that pushes boundaries, so I e-mailed some questions to Brian, which he was kind enough to answer.

Dreams of Consciousness: How would you describe Darsombra?

An eargasm! An organically morphing entity. Currently Darsombra consists of two randy traveling minstrels roaming the globe in search of fun times with good people, good hiking trails and places to practice yoga, and epic food, all while putting on a mind altering audio-visual rock and roll show.

DoC: Darsombra makes fairly unorthodox music. What is your writing process like? Is there anything you wouldn't do in the context of Darsombra, musically speaking?

Sometimes I get a feeling, not even a melody or anything tangible as such, and I grab my guitar and/or some effects pedals and I try to convey that feeling. Other times I do indeed get a melody in my head from the aether and I try to translate that. Still other times I'll just jam for fun and something usually comes out of that. As far as the context, anything goes if it feels right. It's honest and always reflective of where we are currently.

DoC: At times the songs take on a meditative quality. Is there an intentional religious/spiritual element to Darsombra?

I do like to cultivate a meditative and spiritual quality to my music not only as a personal reflection and for my own enjoyment, but also as an invitation or an offering to the audience. If we can help people to another state of consciousness, or just to relax, with our performance, that is a good thing.

DoC: You recently embarked on a massive U.S. tour, including shows with Floor and Hot Victory. What was your favorite moment? What was your least favorite? Do you see yourselves going on another long tour like this again?

We just played 10 weeks of shows across the U.S. and we had a blast! It's very hard to name a favorite moment because there were so many of them but some highlights for me were: playing on a boat designed as a traveling theater stage in the Louisiana bayou, great hiking throughout the southwest, taking mushrooms in the redwoods, co-ed naked hot springs in California (somebody's gotta bring that to the east coast!), and of course ending our tour by playing a string of shows with Floor and Hot Victory. Least favorite. . . probably Ann getting food poisoning in Nebraska, or when we had to throw away our moldy bedroll at a rest stop in Washington. It's tour. Shit happens! Sometimes literally in your pants. We plan to do another tour like this the same time next year. There were still so many places we didn't get to visit. America is big!

DoC: How did Ann Everton become involved in the band? How has Darsombra changed since she joined?

It evolved very organically. Ann is a video artist. We were asked us to perform a collaborative piece at an event with Ann providing visuals while I made music. Instantly we realized how well this worked and decided to bring this element to Darsombra. We travel well together so it worked out great. A little later, at the coaxing of a friend, Ann joined me onstage, initially just to add vocals. Ann is a natural performer. Again, instantly we realized this worked really well and was fun. So we brought a synth and percussion into the mix. The sky's the limit.

photo by Jackson O'Connell
DoC: How important is the visual aspect to Darsombra's performance?

Pretty important. It's part of the whole performance at this point. We still do occasional shows in the outdoors in the daytime where projections aren't visible and we still have fun playing, but it really is something special in the dark with the visuals. There's an added cinematic dimension that we enjoy.

DoC: What do you want the audience to take away from Darsombra's live experience?

I remember a really good response in Indianapolis on this past tour--after the show, a woman came up to us and told us she wanted to buy some music to take home and fuck her man to. . . and then, a moment later, her man came up and told us how he was going to go home and fuck to our music! Glad they're on the same page! We're content just to make other people happy or feel inspired. I think inspiring others is the greatest compliment--though turning people on is of course a compliment as well!

DoC: How much of what you play live is improvised?

In a usual performance, most of the music is composed and, at times, in sync with the visuals, with a few places for improvising built in the overall compositions. Once in a while we'll do improv sets for special occasions, and we're trying to add in more room for improvisation overall when we get the chance. We have a performance coming up where we'll be inside a large outdoor installation constructed of found material with a bunch of handmade found material percussion instruments inside for the general public to explore and play. For that we will be improvising off of the sounds going on around us.

DoC: And now, my obligatory Meatjack question(s). [Sorry.] How do you feel when you look back on the band? Do you think Meatjack was appreciated during its time? What do you think their (your) legacy is?

I feel proud of what we did with Meatjack. I thought we were a damn good band (in my humble and unbiased opinion). I do feel that Meatjack was appreciated during its time in its own way. I laugh when people say "I hope you make it!" whatever that means to them. I did make it! I'm making it every day! I don't count heads. That has never been my goal with making music. It takes away from the fun of what I'm doing. If only 3 people appreciate something, I feel that it's just as valid as something appreciated by 3000 people. So yeah, I think Meatjack were appreciated, by a small and wonderful group of freaks! Legacy, that's a hard one. I guess we were one of a smallish group of bands that were operating in some sort of music underground, playing at the cutting edge of one of the myriad offshoot sub-genres of metal. Of the time and well played.

photo by Bronson Karaff
DoC: What does the future hold for Darsombra?

We're currently working on new material. We're playing the Kansas City Psych Fest in October with a few U.S. shows around it, and working on a European tour for right after that. Next spring we plan to do another big U.S. tour.

Darsombra on Facebook

Darsombra on Bandcamp

Darsombra Tumblr

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Friday, July 11, 2014

Meatjack Interview from 2003

As a tie-in with my Darsombra interview, I dug this one up from the archives: One of the first interviews I ever did was with Darsombra's Brian Daniloski and his brother Jason back when they were with Meatjack. It was in 2003, around the time the band released their last album, the criminally underrated Days of Fire.

For some reason, I always remembered the interview as not being very good; I was still learning how to put together questions, and phrased a lot of them awkwardly. In going back and looking at it again, I was surprised to find that the questions weren't that different from the ones I asked about Darsombra, a decade and change later. 

Sigh. Still learning.

DoC:  First off, how did the tour go? Any interesting anecdotes?
Brian: The tour went very well. After 2 1/2 years off the road/looking for a drummer we're incredibly happy to be doing this again. Usually in the past I've got some crazy tour stories but my mind comes to a blank on this last tour. There was a lot of the typical hard partying, sleep depravation and malnutrition that comes with any tour but nothing outrageous that I can think of.

DoC: What was the reaction to the new material?

Brian: People seem to dig it very much. We are getting a great response to the new stuff.

DoC:  Meatjack's sound seems heavily dependant on guitar effects.  Is this hard to pull off live, and how do you cope with any difficulties?

Brian: I don't think that our sound is heavily dependant on guitar effects at all. Maybe some of our earlier material was. It depends on the song. I've been highly influenced by people like Adrian Belew who build these whole sonic landscapes based on guitar effects, but now I'm trying to concentrate more on the song and melody first, then effects second. I think you can hear that shift on the "Days of Fire" CD. If you don't have a good song to start with, all the effects in the world aren't going to amount to shit. It's like a movie with great visual effects but a weak plot. There might be an initial impact of "wow!" when you're seeing it for the first time, but it'll have no staying power.

Some nights it can be a little difficult to pull off all the effects live, especially if I'm cramped for space or having electrical power issues, but for the most part it comes off just fine. I have an elaborate little dance that it looks like I'm doing around my pedals when I'm playing in order to make it all happen.

Jason: A house is only as strong as its foundation, a band is only as good as its drummer and a guitar riff is only as good as it is without effects. Effects are the icing on the cake. With the new stuff I was always saying to Brian, "I like that riff. Now play it like Wino (Hidden Hand, Spirit Caravan, Obsessed)." "What would Wino do?" was my mantra while writing this record. That always made everything rock more.

[completely unnecessary DoC interjection: Scott "Wino" Weinrich is the godfather of modern doom rock, and a living legend.  If you don't know who he is, head straight to Saint Vitus' "Born Too Late" or the Obsessed's "Church Within", or get yourself run over by a bus]

Plus when I write stuff I don't have any effects so they aren't too overbearing on those particular songs. It's all about the all encompassing riff.

DoC:  Do you still use the film projector in the background?  How do/did the visual effects enhance the performance?

Brian: No, we've stopped doing that. Our last projectionist J.R. decided that he wanted to move on and do something else with his life instead of constant touring. We spent almost three years just dealing with trying to find the right drummer so that we could get back to rocking. So by the time we did we weren't about to wait around looking for a projectionist too. We're a rock band first and foremost. So the idea was to strip away all the smoke and mirrors and just be a rock band. It was fun and cool when we used to do projections but I gotta admit the extra space in the van and the shorter loads and less elaborate set ups on this last tour were very nice.

DoC:  What is the writing process like for Meatjack?  Do songs start with jam sessions, or is it a matter of arranging sections that are created individually?  And at what point are the lyrics brought in?

Brian: The writing process can be like either one of those for us and more. Sometimes we'll just jam at the rehearsal space with the tape rolling and we'll come up with something. Lately it seems more like individuals come in with ideas and then the whole band works on modifying and arranging together. Lyrics usually come after we've written a piece of music but not always. Anything goes for the most part but the end objective is that we're doing justice to whatever the song demands.

DoC:  With your line-up solidified and an incredible record just released, what is in the immediate future for Meatjack?

Brian: More touring. Plans are to hit the west coast in spring. Hopefully to hit Europe sometime soon. Plan on seeing a lot more of us.

DoC:  Any bands that you did shows with that you want to plug/give shout outs to?

Brian: Rwake, Stinking Lizaveta, Swarm of the Lotus, Keelhaul, Weedeater, Kita, Nob, Minsk, Members of the Press, Today I Wait, Supagroup, Collapsar, Social Infestation, Cream Abdul Babar, Unpersons, Beaten Back To Pure, Igon, etc., etc., (sorry if we forgot someone, so many bands.........).

DoC:  Thanks so much once again for taking the time to do this.

Brian: Thank you. Anyone interested in more info please check out

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Bandcamp Picks: Mortals, Tombs, The Sheltering Sky, Wolves in the Throne Room

The long awaited full-length debut by Brooklyn's Mortals is finally upon us. Cursed to See the Future is described by their label as "equal parts High On Fire and Darkthrone". You should always be wary of label write ups, but this is the rare instance where that's truth in advertising. There is a definite similarity to Matt Pike's steamroller riffing, and some blackened melodies cover the songs with a frostbitten sheen. But most impressive is the trio's use of dynamics. Not since Kylesa went all psychedelic has a band done something this interesting with the style. Big things loom on the horizon. [$7]

Brooklyn's Tombs were early pioneers in mixing black metal with doomy post-hardcore; while in the past I may have found their black metal sections to be stiff and uninteresting, on Savage Gold they're definitely the best the band has ever done - so much so that it doesn't matter that the other elements of the band's sound have largely been muted. When they do slow things down, it results in the kind of cold menace that Red Harvest did so well. One of the better chapters in the ongoing story of USBM. [$9.99]

Speaking of of the best forgotten bands of the last decade were NYC's Cattlepress. And so it was a big deal for me when I learned former Cattlepress guitarist Eddie Ortiz has returned with The Sheltering Sky. That Which Obstructs The Light is in some ways a sandblasting throwback to the late 90's/early 2000s when hardcore was bursting at its seams with unique and groundbreaking albums (and not coincidentally, when Cattlepress was at their apex). I'm glad Ortiz has a new vehicle for his unorthodox style after The Dying Light and Cattlepress called it quits. [$3]

Black metal bands releasing instrumental synth albums is nothing new; in a way, it was the next logical step for Wolves in the Throne Room. Celestite evokes the keyboard-heavy soundtracks of classic 70's horror and sci fi films by Tangerine Dream and Goblin. To that end, I tried syncing it up with the only sci fi movie I had handy, 2013's Riddick. As goofy as that movie is, the results worked surprisingly well. The Weaver brothers may find a second vocation scoring films. [$9]

Monday, July 7, 2014

Mixtape 13: Kevin Hufnagel of Dysrhythmia, Gorguts, and Vaura PART TWO

Here is the thirteenth installment of the Dreams of Consciousness podcast, featuring part two of an interview with Kevin Hufnagel, the guitarist for Dysrhythmia, Gorguts, and Vaura (among others).

In this second part of the interview, we discuss Kevin's work with Gorguts and Vaura.

Listen to part one here.

Once again, my thanks to Kevin for making the time to talk with me.


Gorguts - Obscura (live)

Dysrhythmia - Room of Vertigo
taken from the album Psychic Maps

Gorguts - Forgotten Arrows
taken from the album Colored Sands

Vaura - Obsidian Damascene Sun
taken from the album Selenelion

Vaura - Mare of the Snake
taken from the album The Missing
Vaura - Incomplete Burning
taken from the album The Missing

Kevin Hufnagel on Bandcamp

Kevin Hufnagel on Facebook

Kevin Hufnagel on Vimeo

Dysryhthmia on Bandcamp
Dysrhythmia on Facebook

Gorguts on Bandcamp
Gorguts on Facebook

Vaura on Bandcamp
The Missing on Bandcamp
Vaura on Facebook

Check out these other podcasts on the Dreams of Consciousness Mixcloud

Dreams of Consciousness is on Facebook


34 minutes after I had pressed play, my consciousness returned and I took in the destruction to my home. My furniture was smashed to bits. Electronics lay in broken piles. On the other side of the apartment wall I could hear the neighbour's kids crying. Someone had called the cops; the sirens got louder, signalling their imminent arrival. As I prepared to set fire to my worldly belongings and go out in a hail of gunfire, I decided to hit play one last time.

The album I've been waiting for all year has finally arrived: Mighty Origin has unleashed Omnipresent, and god damn, is it something.

After the somewhat experimental Entity, I was wondering where Origin would go next. How far would they push their newfound love of groove and melody? Would the results still be death metal? The answer to that second question is an emphatic "yes". There's nothing as gonzo as the skronking midsection in "Committed"; and any hope of the band topping the best death metal album of the last decade were unrealistic. Antithesis is, and probably will always remain, the band's high water mark.

But taken on its own, Omnipresent is a work of remarkable craftsmanship. Though on occasion the band retreads past glories, there are enough moments that show Origin isn't afraid of tampering with their formula: "Redistribution of Filth" is three minutes of moshpit bait that may be the result of touring with Misery Index. And a black metal influence makes itself known with "Source of Icon O" being a fairly obvious (smart-ass) shout out to Emperor, as well as closer "The Indiscriminate" recalling the epic melodicism of the dearly departed Dawn.

Anyone who's seen Origin in the last few years knows what an entertaining presence frontman Jason Keyser is on stage; but in his first studio outing with Origin, he delivers some of the best vocals that the band has ever had on record. Alternating in classic grind fashion between a low bark and a high pitched scream, he's the vocalist that Origin has always needed.

Guitarist Paul Ryan, of course, is the heart of the band. Origin are often painted with the "technical death metal" brush, but while Ryan is a fret burner of the highest order -and the number of bands biting his style seems to be multiplying exponentially - it is his prowess as a songwriter that makes Omnipresent such a delight. The album is filled with memorable moments; nothing is overly complicated for its own sake and songs never outstay their welcome. Indeed, one of the great joys of the album is its brevity. Minus the occasional interlude and instrumental, it's barely half an hour long. [Reign in Blood anyone?]

On top of it all, behind it all, in front of it all, around it all: John fucking Longstreth, blasting away. There may be more inventive drummers in death metal right now (Ulcerate's Jamie Saint Merat comes to mind), but there are few who drive the music forward with such ease. One of my major regrets is that I didn't get to see Origin tour with Gorguts, when Longstreth play two sets per night.

I listened Omnipresent four times just the Friday I downloaded this; by the time the week-end had finished, the number of plays had probably tripled. I can't wait to load this up on my running playlist and take it out for a spin. I have a feeling I'm going to need a new pair of shoes by the end of the month.

2014 has been a banner year for death metal, but Omnipresent makes all the rest redundant. I don't want another death metal album for the rest of the year. I don't need one.


Friday, July 4, 2014

Bandcamp Picks: Cannabis Corpse, Unfathomable Ruination, Desecration, Paroxysm

Cannabis Corpse are back (and, one presumes, high). From Wisdom to Baked is their newest stem-strewn love letter to classic Florida death metal. Though the album and song titles are obvious nods to Gorguts and Death's later albums, this is still the same meat and potatoes style of early Cannibal Corpse. The band's gimmick makes it easy for people to dismiss them as a joke band, but this is a solid death metal release - smartly written and expertly played. And c'mon, "Individual Pot Patterns"? POINTS! [$9.99]

Speaking of gimmicks... a lot has been made about Unfathomable Ruination's participation in a performance art piece to play in an airtight box until they run out of oxygen (because "art", or something). I suppose any time a band gets this kind of mainstream attention the haters come out in droves, but UR are one of the more impressive death metal bands out of the UK these days. Idiosyncratic Chaos is their newest two song single, and combines the band's mission statement of being "brutal and unrelenting" with some pretty impressive chops. My only complaint is the snare sound, which sounds like someone banging on a paint can. Or maybe the inside of a tiny metal cube. [£2]

One of my friends recently took to telling me, "I thought 'catchy' songs went against all that death metal stands for!" I've always contended death metal is at its best when it has both hooks and blastbeats, as in the case our recent SE Asian visitors Desecration. Cemetery Sickness is described by the band as "blistering and catchy death metal", and I can't think of a better way to put it. With songs like "Cunt Full of Maggots" and the occasional porn sample, I don't think we'll ever have to worry about Desecration getting too smart for their own good. [£7]

[Note: At this time only two songs are available for streaming on their bandcamp page, but having listened to the whole album through clandestine means, I can confirm that it's all very much consistent with those two. Also, hella good.]

I'll admit it - I love me some Canadian death metal, and was excited to discover Paroxysm. Voracité, their newest album (and third overall) is a hook-driven affair that does a good job of juggling melody, technicality and brutality. There are definite shades of countrymen Neuraxis, but Paroxysm never get as convoluted as their ADHD countrymen. The album is also available as a single track, if that appeals to you for some reason. [$7 CAD ]

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Mixtape 12: Kevin Hufnagel of Dysrhythmia, Gorguts, and Vaura PART ONE

Here is the twelfth installment of the Dreams of Consciousness podcast, featuring part one of an interview with Kevin Hufnagel, the guitarist for Dysrhythmia, Gorguts, and Vaura (among others). I ran into Kevin while leaving the Red Bull Hardcore Activity in Progress event, when we were both waiting for the shuttle to take us from the venue back to the subway station. I've been listening to Gorguts since I was a teenager, so I asked him if he was interested in doing an interview. We met the following week at a coffee shop in Queens, and talked for over an hour.

In this first part of the interview, we discuss Kevin's musical background, the origins of Dysrhythmia, and how he ended up joining Gorguts, and the making of Colored Sands - my favourite album of 2013. Part two of this podcast will be up in a few days.


Gorguts - An Ocean of Wisdom
taken from the album Colored Sands

Dysrhythmia  - Catalog of Personal Faults

taken from the album Pretest

Grey Division Blue - Emily
taken from the Departure demo

Dysrhythmia -  Iron Cathedral
taken from the album Psychic Maps

Dysrhythmia  - Test of Submission
taken from the album Test Of Submission

Gorguts - Ember's Voice
taken from the album Colored Sands

Kevin Hufnagel on Bandcamp

Kevin Hufnagel on Facebook

Kevin Hufnagel on Vimeo

Gorguts on Bandcamp
Gorguts on Facebook

Dysryhthmia on Bandcamp
Dysrhythmia on Facebook

Grey Division Blue on Bandcamp

Check out these other podcasts on the Dreams of Consciousness Mixcloud

Dreams of Consciousness is on Facebook