Full Length Album
Release date: October 2, 2015
Available from Joyful Noise Recordings
PCP Prep Cook/The Prep Cook is High on PCP
By Brett Netson
Dove and J met in San Jose and had a band with Clay called Duster. Legendary Skip Spence was from San Jose, too. He made one of the best records of all time and went back there to die. Hobgoblins chase people all kinds of different places. "Skippy was just hanging around. He hadn’t been all there for years, because he’d been into heroin all that time. In fact he actually OD’d once and they had him in the morgue in San Jose with a tag on his toe. All of a sudden he got up and asked for a glass of water. Skippy changed radically when we were in New York. There were some people there that were into harder drugs and a harder lifestyle, and some very weird shit. And so he kind of flew off with those people. They took him to The Tombs (and then to Bellevue) and that’s where he wrote Oar. When he got out of there, he cut that album in Nashville. And that was the end of his career. They shot him full of Thorazine for six months. They just take you out of the game."
"Keep your head in there..."
Where the hell does this adorable, demented madness come from anyway? Speaking of clearing out crap, I once had this friend who would say, "I take acid at least every two months & JUST BLOW ALL THE BAD SHIT OUTA MY BRAIN!" So I say the same thing about Dromomania. Except I take it about once a day, like vitamins. Played it backwards again and it still doesn’t make any less sense. I can’t slow it down till the vinyl gets here. Jason... hurry the fuck up man, I need to know some things. Like Mike Johnson said, "you’ve got ideas folding over upon themselves." You built huge frames out of steel to keep the deep holes from caving in and cardboard representations over the top of the river... nice. Representations of, what you could not afford I guess? Elaborate, painted cardboard structures. We don’t HAVE to buy recorded music anymore. Those Beatles records costed tall money Jack. The past is just underneath the skin somewhere. Grab things you have and make something from nothing. Bang bang bang. We have a lot of technical junk laying around. Helvetia. I don’t know how all this happened but thanks for going in. All I’ve got to do is sit here and turn on my stuff. I like when things work out like this. There will be some precious dipshits that might miss the what’s moving everywhere else. I saw it right away J. But just a glimpse. I’m glad I took another look. The groundwater flows under us still, and the traffic and the people above with their concerns that sometimes turn to irritation and anger.
And now, at a time when content is king. Ain’t no one got no time or attention to spare on no slow dissolving magic trick. There’s a kind that shows its form first and all the earth, wind and fire contained within it, fucks you up weeks later. "Trust US! When you need a friend." Don Van Vliet up and died. David Letterman asked him where he got his name. "I’ve got a beef in my heart." "Against society!" Barry Manilow’s favorite singer is Tom Waits. Just remember, we all got it coming. There is art and music that is like a mushroom kit. All you get in the package is the little bag of spores and some sawdust. You gotta soak it in water, you are the one to put together the conditions. It’ll produce for seasons. When the conditions are right, it just can’t help itself. Stevie Wonder didn’t bother fucking around, he made records. Have you seen the footage of him on Sesame Street? Well fuck off. Best thing ever, him and his band could not help themselves.
If you haven’t got it in you to let go and let it rip, or if you are simply too aware of how you fit in with the world and what is appropriate, you might make a great addition to a workforce of some kind. And make sure you get paid! Every motherfucker on earth that’s doing work, deserves to get PAID! But if you wanna talk about rock and roll, as it has become known in all human lexicon, then you don’t have a choice if you have it in you. There are great souls that spread the demon seed and the joy of the messed mind. The part where the fluids and the blood are. The demon seed is alive for ever and ever. This album is something I can’t touch. I can’t. Not even for a second. Turned my head to the left and saw a flash... I knew one more thing. It may or may not matter. "Switzerland, which is his childhood home..." Helvetia, the female representation of the Schweitz. Things happen there. Then they happen in California and Seattle. They happen any place the strand of the creature mind is connected. Like roots and nerves and Wren and Stimpy when the Tooth Beaver came. The nerves are worth money from the nerve ending faerie. I don’t remember if the Tooth Beaver was a nuisance or not...
"You can go off to Bermuda. Yeah... you should do that. You can trip wherever away from me."
What have we done... Only some of us actually make a contribution to all the true things that come from nothing. Beats and Yippies and Haight Hippies. The Hippies in LA were more about drugs and fucking, maybe more honest maybe not. Arthur Lee was a heavy dude, but not without a goof sense of humor. LA hippies and the street jive. If I could just spend an hour with Neil Cassady. Would be a great time and to sort the real from the jive. There is real jive. Look here, theres a thing called enchantment, its a real thing. Jive is real. When it keeps good time. That science and technology shit will put us all into clinical, sucking the life out of every thing that we don’t understand before anyone can understand. Some things just do not need to be understood. I want to know everything. I want to swim deep in the unknowable but that will destroy a man. Have to let it go. Jams are science without even trying. Without even saying so. Did you see when Jimi Hendrix showed up at the meditation center in Hawaii. His jive is real. "Well I hear my train a comin’... ba ba ba badda... hear my train a come ih yunnn..." Get a load of J Bro jamming his days away to the Band of Gypsies record. It takes time and time and time is now.
"My best Boogie don’t work no more..."
J bro, where are you? Maybe you just took a look a the toaster and twisted away, all Sesame Street LSD. People get lost. I have gotten lost. For a time. I can see you on the Bruxxels train. At 5:00 am. dark weird and stranded, jacked of all your Euro’s. Some people are just bound to end up stranded from time to time. You may find yourself at the mishappen and strange time, at the NY hotel. Why the hell wouldn’t you sleep in the lobby. Hobgoblins chase people all kinds of different places. We all have demons and some people will tend to engage. Jason! Im in here and I don’t know where I am... A dot running for the dust... oh son of a bitch! I guess there is always a chance of surviving most anything but, damn dude... What?
Nothing in Rambling
Full Length Album
LP, CD, Cassette
Release date: September 11, 2012
Available in our store
The stripped down experimental psych of Helvetia plays out like a series of sun-faded snapshots: subtle, stark, hazy and gritty as hell.
Albertini's laissez faire approach to personnel has resulted in a diverse catalog of material, ranging from 4-track lo-fi indie to surreal, unhinged soundscapes.
Self-produced by Albertini, and recorded on a Teac 1/2 inch reel to reel 8-track, with "Nothing in Rambling" Helvetia's sound has culminated into a cohesive balance of familiar and experimental.
Helvetia is that rare breed of rock band that is not only talented, but also very artistic.
Junk Shop sounds like something that would be heard all over one of those indie films that features really good, must have music. The singing is somewhat minimized, with the lead singer normally singing in a low, soft voice, while the music is highly emphasized. Though there is emphasis on the actual music, the singing is not that suicidal emotionally depressing stuff. It's more slow paced and poetic, a true work of art.
(Review from Comfort Comes)
Headless Machine of the Heart
Helvetia is back with this offering, an ode to the lo-fi world of cassette 4-track recording and a testament to this projects prolific nature.
These 10 songs were realized after the completion of their sophomore album, The Acrobats, which was released last March to favorable critical reviews. Because of the bands D.I.Y ethics and lack of any real funding, they have decided to release these songs as-is to preserve the excitement of these sessions and to avoid stagnation. Headless Machine is almost an anthisesis to The Acrobats, showing a different side of the band, in a state of transition.
Helvetia founder Jason Albertini recorded these songs at home in Seattle, Wa, following a month long tour with a newly reformed Meat Puppets and Built To Spill.
The music plays out like a series of snapshots, subtle and hazy, dreamlike in it's consistency. It's a cut and paste style of arranging, much like the making of a mix tape, but lending to a time before computers took over. Ideas and musical concepts come and go, haunting, but never imposing. Guitars weave around drums with simple execution. It's spaced out soul and pop with a sinister edge. Vocals lament and stretch out to be heard, attempting to define the sound.
Prior to Monday afternoon, I had never heard/heard of Helvetia. Since Monday afternoon, I haven't really listened to much else. There's just a certain warmth and craggy fluidity pulsing through this Seattle trio's music that makes you want to stretch out and live inside your headphones. In fact, if Helvetia were an apartment, it would be the opposite of those stark, modern lofts lifted from the pages of Design Within Reach. Hell no. It would be one of those awesome brownstones with a roaring fireplace, ornate wood paneling and bookshelves filled with dusty volumes of lost classics where you would spend all night playing backgammon, drinking red wine and listening to records. Sounds nice, right?
This ability to create such inviting sonic environments may have something to do with their impressive pedigree: multi-instrumentalist Jason Albertini was a longtime member of Duster and both drummer Dove Amber and bassist Adam Howery perform in Arthur & Yu. Their music recalls Built To Spill, Flaming Lips, Comets on Fire and even early Sabbath and 70s stoner rock in some places. Perhaps best known for touring with Built To Spill in support of their 2006 debut album The Clever North Wind, Helvetia has readied a new album, The Acrobats, that will be released in March of 2008 in time for yet another tour with Doug Martsch and company.
Consider this an early warning then, because this album is fantastic. Recorded with Jim Roth (Built To Spill, Apostrophes) in his Seattle home studio, it boasts a throwback production quality - similar to that of the Dungen albums and Fiery Furnaces' Gallowsbird's Bark – where every guitar line is deliriously fat and fuzzy and bleeding perfectly into the crackling organ and cavernous drums. And ultimately, the guitar is king in Helvetia's world, pushed to the front to dictate melody, mood and dynamics. Alternately aggressively wah-drenched and peppered with deft jazz voicings and delicate flourishes, this is the sort of album that makes me wish it was standard practice to list effects pedals and setups in liner notes.
The prospect of seeing them paired with Built To Spill this spring should be enough for even the most casual of gunslingers (those of you still rocking Wolfmother on Guitar Hero) to consider revisiting the lost art of playing some live air guitar. While rocking out, you can thank Helvetia, just like the font, minus the c.
(review from Ear Farm)
The Clever North Wind
Helvetia play the tribal lo-fi anthems of outer space to infintity. It sounds like a triumphant exploration of space and time. It drives relentlessly through to an epiphany of sound and time signatures, kicking over the top and letting us crash down in the glory of chaos. Helvetia's reach exceeds their grasp, and that's what makes this great music. Everybody should try to accomplish more than they are capable of, because usually, they end accomplishing more than they thought they were capable of.
Sometimes this sounds like lo-fi achievments from Lou Barlow and Eric Gaffney's Sebadoh experimental bedroom recordings, but sometimes it goes beyond that, jutting out into outer space and reaching for more. This could have been great in 1992, but it's timeless quality makes it sound just as relevant today. There's also catchy grooves of AM radio sounds and lively beats with spurious guitar leanings, very catchy. It's like Steely Dan inhabited a station on your AM dial and started cranking out lo-fi workouts.
The music is a combination of an otherworldly dreamscape with it's feet firmly planted on the ground. On the first few listens, it's cool, interesting, and captures your attention. After repeated listens, it's still holds your attention, but you hear a lot of the deeper elements that weren't present in the beginning.
The Clever North Wind was recorded on an inch wide 8 track tape to preserve the boundless elements of analogue. They spent a whole year recording and working on the tracks. It shows. There's odd time signatures, complex melody arrangements, and unconventional song structures that sound fresh over and over and over again. For as complicated as this all sounds, it's a very easy album to listen to.
(review from Spacelab)