Straytones — Beware, Dark Lord! Here comes Bell-Man! (2019)

"When it is really sweet, sugar is not needed." You can see a such vanilla phrase if you visit coffee shop "Lvivska Maisternia Shokoladu". No, this is not an advertisement, this is the most apposite intro.

Not often there are releases about which you want to say nothing, except destructive critics: praise, stories about what can be done; laudatory odes and stuff like that. That's true — when everything is fine, then there is nothing to add.

About the band

Straytones — a psychedelic trio from Kyiv — is known for a peculiar approach to rethinking the classic sound of psychedelic and garage rock, a new milestone in the development of which is presented in the mini-album "Beware, Dark Lord! Here comes Bell-Man!".

The band was formed on March 03, 2011 — as stayed at their Facebook page. They have a mini-album "Blossom", released in August 2012 and s/t full-length album that saw the world on February 15, 2017. "Beware, Dark Lord! Here comes Bell-Man!" EP releases today under the auspices of Robustfellow mastodons and consists of three tracks, one of which, "Dark Lord", was presented live more than a year ago.

— Tell us about the cooperation with Robustfellow. How did you come up with this solution, is it a one-time partnership or will you continue to release material together?

— We'll see. We have agreed on the digital distribution of the EP and the re-release of the s/t album in 2017 so far.

About the album

The conceptual material that tells about the eternal confrontation between the dark and the light side, of which the Vova and drummer Marina stumble in the playful role:

"The history of the two tracks began with a joke about the clothes of Marina and Vova, as a result of which Vova became Dark Lord, and Marina, a man-bell, or Bell Man. We've created the idea of two characters that should to confront each other, and if it is more or less clear with the evil antagonist Dark Lord, then the description of Bell Man is a little more complicated. We have created it as a chaotic entity, which, by its incomprehensibility, can not only resist, but also defeat the dark lord. The track "Abyss" appeared spontaneously and symbolizes occurrence of the dark lord to the meta-space."
Artyom Dudko, guitar/vocal"

— It is said in a press release that the idea of the album arose because of a joke about clothes, which musicians were wearing. What's the thing that was able to inspire a whole conceptual work?

— Vova was in all black, starting with shoes and ending with a coat and a hat. Also, Vova has dark humor. I first and then Marina, at the next rehearsal, called him Dark Lord. It turns out that we called him so almost at the same time. Also, Marina has a bell jacket. She has winter jacket made by a designer (Whoisit, if I'm not mistaken), which looks funny from below.

About music

I remember the times when Stoned Jesus only began to become famous among more or less widespread people, and they were compared to Black Sabbath all the time. The vectors changed a bit when the penultimate album "The Harvest" came out, then musical and not musical critics began to say that band has a domestic analog to the Queens of the Stone Age. Something similar, probably, I repeat, probably, was with Straytones, in the direction of which there were casualties about the shredding of famous psychedelic/garage/ proto-punk bands. I can swear, if you want, you will be able to see a black cat in a dark room at night.

"Beware, Dark Lord! Here comes Bell-Man!" — one of those rare phenomena of musical porridge, when you can easily say while listening: oh! so it's similar to bandname. Listen 15 seconds more and again: oh! so it's similar to bandname # 2. The next song starts to play and you will be like: oh! so it's similar to bandname # 3. Here you can find the influence of a variety of musical epochs, styles and genres, which ultimately creates a unique sound.

Let's check, for example, the "Dark Lord" — only the lazy or deaf will not hear the style of Tony Iommi (during the first two albums of Black Sabbath) in the first chords of a guitar. On the other hand, the overall sound, or if you like, an atmosphere, is so typical for a dirty rock/punk, with a feeling that hard blues will now start to play. Let's say hi to Ty Segall, Black Lips and even The Reatards. From the third one — in the background, without giving privilege and lead, you can hear the keys or synthesizers, in the best traditions of the early years of the Pink Floyd or Quickspace.

Instrumental "Abyss" connects the history of Dark Lord and Bell-Man and is executed in the style of classical German-speaking kraut rock.

The last but not the least, "Bell-man", on the background of the other two tracks, looks like an experimental canvas with pieces of the surf-rock, proto-punk, hypnotic and occult-mysterious vocal, which sound like a poorly functioning radio with a tragic-tensile atmosphere.

— In the description of the band it is said that you are simultaneously inspired by the classics of the era of the psychedelic and garage rock. What has changed or added at the time of creation/recording? Perhaps something is written under someone's strong influence?

— It's not that much that has changed, but rather added and not only by the classics, but also by the modern bands of the same genres. In addition, we still have a lot to listen to. As for the preference, first of all, my and Marina, you can draw some conclusions if you listen to our podcasts at loonalampa.com — there is a lot from the genre positions. That inspires us.

At the time of creating these songs I already had the main (verse) reef to "Dark Lord", and it sounded perfectly well with the concept. As for Bell Man, this character needed some more time to be created. There was no particular inspiration, there was an attempt (and I think it was justified) of creation a description and history of the character in this release. 

About the lyrics

— What is the main point in two tracks and will the texts be published in the future?

— Everything is simple here — it's a description of the history of two people, without anything superfluous. As for the texts, yes, we think that they will be published.

Conclusion

It is not necessary to reinvent the bike in order to surprise a potential listener, reviewer or average music lovers. It's enough to look at the usual things in an unusual way. Yes, of course, it sounds too easy, but in good hands the gray will become brilliant.
Seems that nothing can be shown in two and a half tracks? Straytones were able to combine the entire era: hippie-music, classical psychedelic rock, garage rock and its revival, surf, proto-punk and proto-heavy and krautrock. "Beware, Dark Lord! Here comes Bell-Man!" is good even because it is not long enough to get bored and leaves no questions after itself. Strong work.

— What are the plans for the future? If to believe in the power of the Internet, the idea of the release has existed for at least a year, do you already have some new works?

— We have some new materials, there are plenty of it, but it's not all full of songs. Of course, we play fresh material at our concerts. We will record it in the near future and plan to release until the fall of this year. Also, we want to release a single (which I am currently composing) at the end of spring/early summer. It does exist for more than a year already, but will not have any relation to the autumn release.

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Straytones in social networks:

https://straytones.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Straytones/
https://soundcloud.com/straytones
https://vk.com/straytones

Release - http://smarturl.it/rimxad

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1. Dark Lord
2. Abyss
3. Bell-Man

22.02.2019
Robustfellow