La Otracina “We are making OUR sound, and maybe it ain’t all ‘new,’ but it’s ‘ours,’ and it changes and grows.”

For those fed up with hipster Williamsburg's often insufferable parade of fauxhawks, skinny jeans, and Pains of Being Pure at Heart t-shirts, there lies an entirely different psychedelic underground, not led by your flash-in-the-pan, lo-fi, asymmetrical hairdo-sporting heartthrob d'jour, but by a group of true psychonauts, whose appreciation of and obsession with worldwide sonics and entheogenic modalities from past to future is comparable only to perhaps Japan's Acid Mother's Temple. This group is La Otracina, and their extended freak-out jams seem to extend a middle finger that signifies "Death to False Psych" to all the trust fund "artists" and "musicians" who tend to routinely populate its streets.

I caught up with Adam Kriney of La Otracina/Colour Sounds Records over e-mail (with very minor edits for clarity purposes) to discuss his obsessions with all things psychedelic, Kraut and Jap rock, his upbringing following The Dead, and his early gnosis involving the correlations between heavy metal and acid rock.

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So, last we met was at the Flower Travellin' Band show. That was a real doozy huh?

Yeah, we were a bit disappointed, especially since we had just seen PENTAGRAM play the week earlier and they were fucking amazing, so we had our hopes up that we'd see TWO good reunion shows in one week, not so! I think it was cool to see FLOWER TRAVELLIN' BAND play though; I mean, those guys are legends and we worship their albums, but I don't think they ever saw themselves as we do, as purveyors of this eastern-psychedelic-magical-proto-doom band,;they were just playing pop music in their eyes, who can say. Their live renditions of old stuff were cool, but slightly goofy, as their overall vibe, especially their new music, was a mixed up bag of '80s production and sound with some sort of jamband/world music thing happenin… well, actually it wasn't very happenin at all.

Is the Japrock sound and scenes of today and yesterday influential to you and La Otracina?

Well, there are many different musical scenes from Japan from the past and present that we are interested in. Firstly, the original '70s psych rocker thing there was very hip, and of course we dig it. Also we are into the more ‘out' sounds of Japanese music, found in their extreme improvisors and free-jazz musicians. And yeah we dig some of the modern stuff there now, such as ACID MOTHERS TEMPLE, GREEN MILK FROM THE PLANET ORANGE, DMBQ, GHOST, BORIS, etc. Overall, the Japanese experimental and psychedelic musical history has been a significant part of our study.

Do you hold any specific acts, groups or people in an especially reverential light?

FLOWER TRAVELLIN BAND, LES RALIZZES DENUDES, GHOST, ACID MOTHERS TEMPLE, Keiji Heino/FUSHITSUSHA, MERZBOW, Tatsuya Yoshida/RUINS, to name a few favorites.

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"We just float and go where the seas take us, but I hope it's clear that we are not interested in ‘genre-hopping' or making our ‘metal record' or our ‘psych record'"

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Have you checked out Julian Cope's Japrocksampler?

Yeah, its very cool. Great stories and photos, and the lineage of Japrock history I found to be quite interesting, from Yoko Ono onward… But about two-thirds of the way through the book, I put it down. I got the gist of it and didn't need to read anymore.

From listening to La Otracina and your related works and side projects, I get the sense that you guys are psychedelic connoisseurs. Do you feel like La Otracina borrows from the specters of global psychedelic musics in your writing processes, and how do you synthesize all your varied influences?

Well, I see our music as a vortex of sounds, where various musical worlds become psychedelic and intersect with each other, and these form the basis of our explorations and studies. Whether its classical minimalism, sound-collage, atonal music, free-jazz, psychedelic pop/freakbeat/garage rock/mod, progressive rock, jazz-rock/fusion, hard rock, heavy metal, ambient, electronic music, eastern/asian music, African/jungle music, jazz, blues, folk, funk, etc, we somehow come up with cohesive methods of fusing these all (and other ideas) into a non-lame visceral psychedelic musical experience, both live and recorded. Our music had intense transportative qualities, and that is its unified psychedelic nature; its not just using a phaser pedal and a wah-wah! We take this music very seriously, almost to an academic nature, but with complete love and fun as we swim through all these sonic worlds! How we do this all and when or why is a complete mystery, but we do not shy away from risks and attempts to find new intersecting points between musical worlds, and this is why our sound has changed so much since I started the band in 2003, when we were instrumental, heavily into free-improvisation, and sculpting 20 minute prog epics. Every time we release a new album or EP, we are documenting yet another foray into our studies, if you will, and we hope everyone digs in, sparks up, and gets lost within our universes!

There's no doubt you hear krautrock influences in your music as well. Can you speak to your appreciation of krautrock?

Well, I feel the the German rock movements of the '70s are extremely relevant to us, both in methodology and aesthetic. The mixture of styles combining psychedelic rock with jazz, improvisation, and experimental music are what we're all about. And also the gravitation towards taking risks in fusions of ideas, mixing/recording techniques, and general craziness of the Germans is another thing we feel greatly in tune with. I am also a German music collector from this period, it's my specialty. I think the Germans, with their post-war rebirth as well as technological advances, and the hippie movements all aligned to allow such amazing things to happen, and that's why so much Krautrock is of such high quality and so damn bizarre! I am listening to Klaus Schulze's Timewind right now!

I get the sense that there's an equal appreciaton of the repetive motorik of Neu! and the synth worship of Berlin School alum like Cluster and Klaus Schulze. Can you speak to that?

Well NEU! is of course an influence, but a bit benign at this point, as they're embedded so much in pop music in general these days. My interest in German bands goes way deeper than that, and I don't really do the NEU!-beat thing in my drumming, unless I am specifically trying to conjure up that vibe. As for CLUSTER and Klaus Schulze, okay, now we're talking, as I am heavy into synth worship, although the current LA OTRACINA live show doesn't reflect this, our mini-albums (Woven Wanderers, Gardens Of Blackness, Fauna & Animated Floral Arrangements, Spatial) all speak highly to the cosmic electronic space music universe. And also my side projects GREENWURM (formerly DRAGONFRYND) and VORG VESSEL are both cosmic keyboard-based, which is really exciting for me to do, to back off the drums and play instruments with infinite sustain! Of course, I an a devotee of TANGERINE DREAM, as their music is so truly blissed. Some other German cosmic/synth stuff I dig is HARMONIA, SFF (SCHICKE, FØHRS, & FRÖHLING) Ticket To Everywhere, Achim Reichel's Echoes album, as well as some great Italian and French groups such as PULSAR, SPACECRAFT, and the mighty HELDON!

But as far as LA OTRACINA's current live sound, we are heavily influenced by the German hard-rock, jazz-rock, and proto-metal bands such as LUCIFER'S FRIEND, GURU GURU, BIRTH CONTROL (singing drummer love!), EPITAPH, HAIRY CHAPTER, ELOY (who also are a big influence because of their synth work!), DZYAN, NEKTAR, SCORPIONS, basically the heavier stuff.

Of course, we all love CAN, NEU!, KRAFTWERK, AMON DUUL, ASH RA TEMPLE, etc, you know the obvious ones, but they're not so much our actual inspirations and influences. When I first heard LUCIFER'S FRIEND Where The Groupies Killed The Blues, man, THAT was what I had been waiting for my whole life, this was music that speaks to me on infinite levels and is so fucking bad-ass! I'm an obscurist, not an elitist, so I am much more likely to freak out on a lesser-known group than to put Yeti or Unlimited Edition on again. Or ELOY's Silent Cries and Mighty Echoes -- that album is a goddamned anthem for our band, like daily vitamins, it's so important, haha -- you think we sit around listening to SLEEP or MASTODON(?!). Not that there's anything wrong with those groups, but we dig way back for magical sounds to blow OUR minds!

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"Our music had intense transportative qualities, and that is its unified psychedelic nature; its not just using a phaser pedal and a wah-wah!"

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I think the growth in La Otracina's sound within the past year or two has been brought on by later psychedelic influences, namely the sludgier '80s hard rock of groups like Pentagram and Saint Vitus. Is this an accurate appraisal?

This is an interesting observation. It is more of a coincidence; we actually all got into these bands very recently. Really, I have only heard a few SAINT VITUS songs, which I think are cool, but hardly an influence.. but since hearing PENTAGRAM only recently, I am totally in love with them, so maybe some of their influence has crept in, but only in the past few months. So, any other comparisons are just testament to the whole movement of psychedelic/heavy music, being all birthed of the same stuffs, and tapping into it, and extracting sounds to channel into our music. SAINT VITUS and PENTAGRAM are just a bunch of weirdo music nerds as we are, and we all do our psychedelic homework, and lots of drugs and intense life experience, and it all comes out, BANG!

I also hear tinges of thrash metal, a la Judas Priest and possibly old Metallica. Do you find there's a connection with metal and psychedelia?

Well, our movement into heavier/metal music is of extreme interest, even to me. Me and Evan have been metal heads since our pre-teen years; METALLICA is responsible for ALL of my musical upbringing, as they're the first group I got excited about when I was 12, and I felt they were MY music. Ever since, I've loved heavy music. But I was raised by a hippie mom, going to see GRATEFUL DEAD shows, etc., so when I got older I reconnected with that music from the '60s and '70s, and dug deeper, and my musical knowledge increased and I found the intersecting points between METALLICA and GRATEFUL DEAD; they are not exclusive worlds! And our recent tapping into the more proto-metal/heavy hard rock sounds has been a conscious decision to see how it all connects. Two years ago, we maybe would have flirted with doing something ‘metal,' be it a riff or drum part, but we hadn't created or understood the lattice to reach that place yet, so it was irrelevant and even silly to us. We needed to reconnect with more progressive rock roots, which begat the proto-metal, and then we found out how it could be done. It's all part of the “our band is a living experiment” vibe and how we are willing to see what happens when, for instance, after five years of being an instrumental band, I started singing while drumming, and then our music got heavier, and less improvisational. We just float and go where the seas take us, but I hope it's clear that we are not interested in ‘genre-hopping' or making our ‘metal record' or our ‘psych record'; we're just tapped into the aforementioned Krautrock vibe of ‘let's see what happens,' mix it up, change it up, take chances, and fucking go! I see major connections between the whole history of heavy music from '60s rock to thrash to prog to punk to psych to hard rock to hardcore to metal, and we're just digging in to all of this, and making some weird shit up!

At this point in time, as musicians, we must all take a serious yet humble look at what we do and realize that there is nothing ‘new' to be done; the only thing left is to creatively fuse ideas of what already is/was, and try to birth some new twist to rest on the shoulders of the musical giants who paved the way. We are making OUR sound, and maybe it ain't all ‘new,' but it's ‘ours,' and it changes and grows. Of course, we all wish it was 1972, and that progressive rock could fill an arena, and that people actually wanted to blow their minds every time they bought a new record, but these are darker times; fear has gripped everyone, and culture is an irrelevant term, and with all of this in mind, we just hope that our music can bring a beautiful experience to someone in a live or listening setting, and that is why we ride on, making this mysterious moon music, be it psychedelic/thrash/cosmic/space-rock/improv/jazz-rock boogie woogie oogie.

Your latest album is Blood Moon Riders on Holy Mountain. Was there a personnel change for this record?

Well Blood Moon Riders came out in Jan 2009, but was recorded mainly in 2007, spilling over into '08 for overdubbs, etc. The lineup was me on drums, Evan Sobel on electric bass, and Ninni Morgia on electric guitar, and the music on this LP was basically what we had written with Ninni in the band during spring/summer '07. We ceased playing with Ninni in late fall of that year. This album is from when we were still an instrumental band, playing more improv and experimental psych/prog stuff. We love the LP, but it's not what we are doing now! Go buy it anyway, you'll love it!

What's next for La Otracina in terms of releases?

Well, I just released three new ones on my label Colour Sounds Recordings, the new tour EP Woven Wanderers and the CD-R version of Gardens Of Blackness, which came out on cassette on Digitalis last year, and the CD-R version of the Blood Moon Riders, which came out on Holy Mountain in January. Beyond these, we're in the studio finishing the album of music which we've been playing live for the past year. And beyond that, the ‘next' album is already three-fourths written and we're playing three of those tunes live right now, so we need to record and finish that one this coming fall/winter. There will probably be some more archival releases and vinyl versions of things, maybe some small tape releases, and a few comps including the next Galactic Zoo Dossier magazine and Bad Acid DVD.

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