Posts Tagged ‘Space Rock’

Medistation

Slicing off from one’s longtime band for a solo venture can be a dicey roll, especially when traversing similar ground, but Eric Strand of Swedish psych band The Orange Revival manages to leave his past behind on his debut EP as Medistation. Where the Revival tends towards clouds of reverb, repetition and vocals buried in the murk of their impenetrable haze, Strand uses Medistation as a jump off to explore other indulgences. The guitars slice with a clean edge, still using a rumble of fuzz on a few tracks here but feeling his way further out of the My Bloody Valentine / Black Angels grip.

Further in the 12” boasts a dream-laden country croon, evoking the collective members of Galaxie 500 and Luna picking through Primal Scream’s record collection one minute and stomping on the Spiritualized effect pedal the next. The EP feels like an artist grappling with his influences and finding what works. Heads who are already into the touchstones flashing high on Strand’s radar will no doubt appreciate this EP, but like me probably leave wanting it to stretch just a bit further. What does work here is that unlike The Orange Revival, Medisation doesn’t feel indebted to a sound and the variety gives the release a good flow, working its way down slow at the end from the sunburn psych that starts his record off. For what it’s worth he’s emulating many of his influences quite ably, and with the word that Strand’s fleshing this out from the “one man in a room”-type affair to full band vision, means that more input could form this into some high-octane space rock for sure.


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Flowers Must Die – “Oroa Dig Inte”

Swedish psych warriors Flowers Must Die follow up their Rocket Recordings LP, Kompost, from last year with a more abstract set of space rock scrapers. Where the previous record tapped into some Krautrock fueled psych-pop, this time the band stretches for the edges of the mind with a track that’s free floating in a psychedelic haze of feedback, flute and noise. Its a beautiful din, though, and makes the case once again for the band as high-level purveyors of expansion-minded music. The record is released in increasingly limited versions with 20 different covers spread over its run of 300.




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CB3

CB3, or less succinctly Charlottas Burnin’ Trio, hail from Stockholm and in the grand tradition of Swedish psych, they echo the the past smoke curls of prog while stoking the fire for a new generation of psych stormers. Heavy, but not dense, the record lays the rhythm section into a black hole pocket and lets the guitars sketch arcs across the listener’s conciousness. They find a balance between their clear pet loves for metal and jazz without wading into the kind of wankery that often bubbles up with bands who fancy themselves scholars of both classes.

Bookended by serene eddies, the band’s tape for UK psych outpost Eggs In Aspic aspires for a prog/space rock permanence and for the most part succeeds, though they could probably push the needle heavier and still retain their sense of agility. That phased pocket that they often suck the bass into could stand a little loosening, letting the rhythm chug whle the storm of drums and guitar unfold. Mid-point highlight “Beware The Wolf” is the band touching the specter of Space Rock with the firmest grasp and the look suits them, though they soon return to the noodling knots that mark their forte. The record shows promise and obvious skill, but also a little greenness that should only ripen on further releases.




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F/i – “Space Mantra”

I’m always game to expand my catalog of records that fall under the Space Rock tag and this reissue from Wisconsin’s F/i is a long undersung piece of the genre’s puzzle. The band started with a focus on noise, jumping off from Throbbing Gristle’s innovations and beginning to move towards guitars by the time they recorded a celebrated split with their brother band Boy Dirt Car in 1986. They’d full cement the sound as they embarked on their 1988 album Space Mantra, which would serve as their breakout, and become heralded as a lost classic in psych and noise for years.

Now the record is getting a proper issue on Sorcerer records, cut to the same specs as the RRRecords original. The record is swathed in noise, chugging industrial storms that swirl around, nodding heavily to their earlier work. They take those storms and pin them under the sway of groove and that’s where the record gets interesting – finding a nice mesh of Hawkwind, Neu, Popul Vuh and the aforementioned Gristle. They wind up in similar territory to fellow travelers Loop and its easy to see a long, lingering influence in bands like Moon Duo and Föllakzoid. The band continued on through the early ’00s with several augmentations to their lineup, but this album still remains a high water mark for both the group and the genre.




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Beaches – “Void”

Aussie psych stormers Beaches are back after what feels like an almost unbearable hiatus (last album was 2013). Though to be fair, the ladies that make up the group have rather a lot going on, with members sharing duties in Love of Diagrams, Scott and Charlene’s Wedding and Panel of Judges among others. The group pushes the pedal down even harder on their motorik psych sound, fizzing like the ragged spirits of Spacemen 3, Neu!, Loop and Popul Vuh had all infected them simultaneously and were fighting for space. “Void” is shrouded in cavernous echo (just like I like it) and pulsating with a rhythm that all but glows. They drop in a touch of space-laced synth to keep it interesting and with that, anticipations are high for this double LP monster to drop later in the fall. Chapter Music is pushing the gems out this year, and this chalks another one up on the board.




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Premiere: In Zaire

Italian space-rock quartet In Zaire step up for their second record on Sound of Cobra and expand their horizons further into the upper reaches of the ionosphere. The record is floating on a Hawkwind high stitched to an intense tribal rhythm section that snatches the ever expanding tones back down to the dirt ridden Earth. The band’s fortitude stems from dipping buzzing drones in a bath of Kosmiche roil then lighting it up with a Molotov cocktail explosion of guitar spreading psychedelic wildfire scattering to the winds.

The band paints in heavy strokes of cosmic fury, running the guitars through enough hardware to find a sound that befits the universe collapsing in on itself. Largely left to the instrumental realm, Visions of Age To Come taps the fear and wonder that have bled into the works of Ash Ra Temple and Acid Mothers endless iterations before them. Check out the album in full below and experience the vortex of sonic slurry that’s taken shape thanks to the good folks over at Sounds of Cobra. The album is out May 2nd.


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Bardo Pond

It’s almost hard to believe that Bardo Pond are approaching 30 years as a band, but at the same time, it’s hard to imagine the psychedelic landscape without them. I personally got hooked into the Pond, as I imagine quite a few folks did with Dilate, coming slightly late to the party but grateful to find them as hosts. They’ve spent the intervening years carving out their own place between the creased consciousness of space rock, dreampop, psych and noise. They come to their latest, Under The Pines, after an epic collaboration with Acid Mothers Temple and Guru Guru last year. The album cuts back on the sheer heft and volume that the preceding project fostered, placing vocalist Isobel Sollenberger floating high above a pounding cascade of feedback and atmospheric billow. This cloaks Under The Pines ably in the band’s dreampop guise.

They wear the style well, but as could be expected of a band that’s spent three decades chasing the tail of the psychedelic snake, they aren’t exactly hewing to a one note sound here. Even when the tracks are similarly built on caged squall, they’re constantly adding nuance to the sonic struggle between the overwhelming wall of noise and Sollenberger’s gorgeous purr. Sollenberger also adds a mystic touch of flute to the proceedings, giving the record a mournful air and another fleck of beauty battling the churning froth. Then, as if to prove their mettle tenfold, they ease out into a dustbowl of psych country for the album standout “Moment To Moment.” It’s this kind of song that stamps them as masterful elder statesmen in a crowded field of newcomers jockeying for time on the psychedelic speakers. In a career full of high caliber records, they’ve never sounded so at ease with their prowess than right now.




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Axis: Sova

Everything about Brett Sova’s second album for Drag City imprint God? is more confident. He’s raised himself out of the murk of tape hiss and brought forth an album that, much like fellow Drag City stabler Purling Hiss, embraces guitar as a saving grace for the psychic stomp of 2016. Unlike the Hiss, though, Axis: Sova isn’t chasing the demons of grunge, but rather the boogie blues and psychedelic sweat of a ’70s vision that holds up Guru Guru and Hawkwind as the reigning class. Hell, you’ve got to have stones to open up your sophomore album with an almost nine-minute acid fuzz assault on the senses that seems like it should be the kind of song that collapses an album to the floor. Instead Sova chooses to blast the listener with a defining statement of Axis’ aesthetic. Its the kind of opening salvo that says, “this is what you’re in for so either strap in or get out of the way.”

The rest of the album doesn’t hold back any fury either. Following that scorcher of an opening shot, the rest of Motor Earth cranks its way through exhaust fume choked psych swagger and low and gritty fuzz rumblers leveled at ya with the kind of steady gaze that proves that Sova can back up the chatter with more than a few dirty riffs. Sova brings along fellow guitarist Tim Kaiser for the ride and the two staple their riffs to a chassis of stomp n’ clatter beats that, though workmanlike, fill in the space between the two amplifier clouds amiably. Its clear that the folks over at DC could see through the swamp of his debut to this cleaner burning version of Axis’ power. Though, in the same capacity as Mike Polizze’s Purling Hiss transformation, it would be interesting to see the band evolve into a three-piece with a proper pound rounding out the storm. Still, the record holds its own with just the two players making one hell of a ruckus. Trailing out their love for the ghosts of ’70s space rock and gravel pelted grinders alike, they prop themselves up as a two-man Leaf Hound on an Afflicted Man budget, and to tell you the truth, its workin’.

Listen to the album in full below!





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Suzuki Junzo

What’s been lacking from my 2016 is in fact a healthy dose of Japanese psych. And maybe that’s my fault, take your eye off the ball and it’ll slip right through your fingers. So to help heal the wounds Wisconsin’s Utech records comes to save the day with a vinyl issue of an overlooked tape cut last year by Japanese psych-blues savant Suzuki Junzo. The album stretches out from Junzo’s more typical space-boogie bag and hits hard into the outre realms with plenty of noise and clatter and guitar meltdown. Its Junzo transported to another plane of existence and madly tying to translate what he sees into a form of communication that can be digested by us terrestrials. Junzo’s not alone in this journey either, this time he’s taken along fellow psychic traveler and legend in his own right Kuro Takahashi of LSD March, Fushitsusha and High Rise.

The pair bashes in with little regard for self-preservation on the opener, which bears the winner for psychedelic song title of the year, “Crossing the Valley of the Cosmic Death Demons,” then tumbles further off the plane for a battle royale of strings and percussion against an unseen enemy on “Les Visiteurs Du Soir.” The new issue of If I Die Before I Wake adds in some slashing new material that wasn’t on the original tape, in the form of a bonus new track and a second with a double shot of live material. The record’s not for the faint of heart or sensitive of ear, but its just what the year needed, placing it up in the ranks of noise with the great overlooked RSD gem AcidGuruPond from earlier this year.



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The Writhing Squares

Philly duo The Writhing Squares is the brainchild of Kevin Nickles (Ecstatic Vision, Taiwan Housing Project) and Daniel Provenzano (Purling Hiss, Spacin’). The connection to Purling Hiss and Spacin’ feels on the money, though The Writhing Squares have a cleaner vision of the psychedelic expanse than Spacin’ and a much more motorik take than Purling Hiss usually indulge in. They muster creeping ambience and snowball it into a torn vortex of psychedelic stomp. At their best they’re conjuring up a Hawkwind obsessed Suicide tapping into the cosmic (or is that Kosmiche) well, while keeping the beats locked and pulsing. They beg the question, did Suicide always need more flute? Maybe so if it wound up floating into the sweet strains of lysergic lockstep “Astral Trane.”

They aren’t totally clipped into the Krautrock tag with any dogged devotion, though, opener “Unknown Drone” finds its way through the darkness in dirgey drones with space rock pockets popping up all over. They push into a no wave flutter that pairs easily with psychedelic grind on “Lava Suit” throwing their guitar growl to the wolves of a James Chance sax skronk that gives the track plenty of bite. The rest of the album doesn’t falter. There are no real weak spots. Provenzano and Nickles are the rare pair that know exactly the sounds they’re looking for and know just how to grind it into sonic sausage. Deeper listens bring more and more pockets of joy from In The Void Above and its been a while since someone took space rock on a worthwhile tour of complimentary vices in the last few years. Keeping this one locked on the stereo and the knob twisted up. Its a burner.




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