Posts Tagged ‘Space Rock’

Garcia Peoples “One Step Behind (Single Edit)”

It would be disingenuous to say that Garcia Peoples rise over the past year has been anything short of impressive. Following their sophomore LP for Beyond Beyond is Beyond in February they’ve become staples of the live circuit in NYC (a quick dig through Archive.org or NYC Taper will confirm their prowess in the room). They’ve opened a slew of dates with Chris Forsyth and Kurt Vile, fleshed out their sound with the help of new permanent member Pat Gubler (Wet Tuna, P.G. Six), cut a lightning crack studio session with Hans Chew, and now they’re onto their second album of the year. Some might think the second helping would leave the band wanting for material, but it’s a goddamned smorgasbord at the Garcia’s house and we’re all invited. Taking their improvisational prowess from the stage to the reels, the band is issuing a 32-minute epoch of a title track that brings Guitarist Tom Malach’s father, Bob on board for a deep dive through space jazz that upends everything you’d expect going into a new Peoples record.

Diving deeper into the mercurial depths than they ever have before, the band eschews their usual groove to get lost in a bit of the cosmic wilds for a patch. Malach, the elder, used to knock down sessions with everyone from Miles Davis to Arto Lindsay to Stevie Wonder so this is no nepotism knockout, this is a familial team-up for the ages. Ah-ah, but you’re gonna have to wait until the full platter’s out of the oven to hear Bob’s double overdubbed sax goodness. Right here is the radio edit, a line closer to what they’ve been playing live for the track. Heard this the other night when they opened for KV and it hit just as hard — the band workin’ up their own “Playing in the Band’ alchemy. They sync up in full symbiosis, playing off of one another with the veracity of players with twice as many trips ‘round the sun and its a delight to watch.

The band’s Danny Arakaki peels back the curtain on One Step Behind’s origins. “We had a great time recording this track,” grins Arakaki. “Many highlights involved. One being, Tom’s dad, Bob Malach, coming to the studio to lay down the sax tracks (which you’ll hear later on the full-length album version of the song) and after killing it, casually saying, “fooled em’ again.” Great to see Tom and his dad work together. Every time we make the trip out to Black Dirt Studio we end up finding new sounds too. That has everything to do with the way Jason (Meagher) works with us. Positive vibes all around. Enjoy the changes and ride the tune.” The record lands October 18th on Beyond Beyond is Beyond. Best be ready.

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Ecstatic Vision – “Grasping The Void”

Philadelphia space rock rounders Ecstatic Vision have been searching for the connective tissue between Düül, Hawkwind, and the infinite for the past few years. They found themselves in metal’s arms at Relapse but seem equally on easy terms at Italian enclave Heavy Psych Sounds for their latest album. It’s a scrubbed, but still sonically expansive vision that pushes their German Progressive and Swedish psych soundboard to the forefront and adds some nice embellishments of flute to the vortex of sound. First cut “Grasping The Void” pounds the pulse and aims to blast a Monster Magnet-sized hole in the old guard’s umbrella of motorik churn and echoplex ecstasy. The song’s a dizzying dive down the quasar causeway, searching for some ineffable mind expansion among the grind and gauze of the best Space has to offer. If the rest of this beast is half as heavy as this cut, then we’re in for the best the band’s had to offer yet.


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Plastic Crimewave Syndicate

Its been a little while since a Plastic Crimewave project barreled down the halls of Raven, but Krakow and co. were always instrumental in the development of the site. Back when Steve was rolling with Plastic Crimewave Sound, the band contributed to the site’s first compilation. Now the Sound has crumbled and the Syndicate has risen, but the same thread of acid-scratched psychedelia remains. Massacre of the Celestials opens with a yowl of guitar and a veneer of fuzz caked on so thick its hard to wade through the wreckage. Those guitars find their way through though, streaking sickness all over the inflammatory opener “Bound to Seek.’ From there the band dives into the murk, digging their sound deep into a puddle of sludge-psych that’s heavy, leaden and loud as hell.

There’s power in that porridge of sound still and the Plastic Crimewave that barrels out of it crests and demolishes all that stands in its path. Add in a squirm of sax, some spaced-phasing that knocks the mind into astral projection, and the record chomps down some Hawkwind vitamins with the best of ‘em. What I’ve always loved about Krakow’s brand of psychedelic soup is that he’s never even thought twice about pushing it too far. Effects? Double down until you can barely see the light from the haze. Guitar scorch? Make it hurt. Make it third degree. The songs tie together under a banner of excess, but in general its like wading through a surrealist stew that’s sticky, mossy, murky, and humid enough to bring on a fevered froth. Whether you’ve been following the choose-your-own psychedelic adventure with Krakow from the beginning, lapsed and returned, or just toeing in now Massacre is as good as any a place to start. Jump in an swim in the deep end of delirium with them and don’t just try not to think as the temporal shift hits its stride.



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The Cosmic Range

Its such a packed year, that as we enter the mid-point its time to go back and sweep out some of the great releases that got lost in the cavalcade. That includes the sorely under-appreciated sophomore LP from Canada’s Cosmic Range. The band, much like their close contemporaries in Badge Epoque Ensemble, is comprised largely of players who found themselves in and around the backing band from last year’s U.S. Girls release. Featuring the likes of Matthew ‘Doc” Dunn and Maximillian (Slim Twig) Turnbull, the record scratches a familiar itch that claws at the crux of jazz, psych, and funk. The band is dipped and doused in the hash den Ashram of ‘70s Miles Davis on his run between the Brew and the Corner. They’re beset with the same shakes that lit up the nerves on Nation Time and they’re weeding out the same calm collective gardens that Alice Coltrane tended.

There’s more than a little hazed quasar space rock floating in the froth as well and the band pulls the throttle way back for the disquieting loneliness of “Eyes for Rivers” before they spark back up for the double barrel burn of “The Observer.” Rhythm is a constant throughout the album, whether tapping out a tender cosmic sendoff or bringing the punishing pound of a polyrhythmic puzzle. The band’s clearly comprised of seasoned vets bouncing their highest beta wave wobble among the collective consciousness. The record is a heady hit, blown through with psychedelic sax n’ wah fried guitar grooves that’ll sate the most ardent heads out there. If you’ve heard the tangential works that the players have cropped up on, then it should come as little surprise that the alchemy is strong among this bunch. Highly recommended that you lock in and let this one wash over you.




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Oblivion Reptilian – “Draconian”

After Blown Out and Comacozer released a joint LP last year, guitarist Mike Vest (Blown Out, BONG, Melting Hand) and drummer Andrew Panagopoulos (Comacozer) decided the only proper idea was to take the collaboration further and create their own band. Despite living on opposite sides of the globe a new spark was lit under the name Oblivion Reptilian. Seemingly taking the conspiracy nonsense of a Reptilian Agenda as the base for the new band, the duo kicks off with “Draconian,” an 8+ minute space shredder that sews the seams shut between Acid Mother’s Temple, High Rise, Earthless, and Helios Creed. The band’s set to lay out five huge instrumental wormholes over the rest of the album, and if they’re half as heavy as this first offering, the record threatens to sink into the Earth like a doomed and damned artifact of civilizations that spit in the eyes of gods.



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Frankie and the Witch Fingers

Frankie and the Witch Fingers have long found a home here at Raven Sings the Blues. From the garage gutwrench of Heavy Rollers to last year’s psych-soul shakedown, Brain Telephone, the band has been burning more ozone than most and I can’t get enough. Impressively, after that synapse-singer from last year, they’re back and burning on a bigger scale with a double LP for new home Greenway Records. The band doesn’t take a break it seems, and that urgency finds its way into the work. In fact, ZAM’s entire ethos is breathless in nature, boiling their fuzz-dipped licks into a psychedelic steam that’s born to singe.

Taking a few cues from fellow lysergic warlocks Oh Sees, the band is melting down details from Krautrock, funk, soul, psych, and space then ladling them into the loving cup atop the alter of Hawkwind. They’re irradiating the populace with enough high-beam hijinks and amplifier fry to bring on bouts of fuzz-fed hysteria and truth be told; the band has rarely felt more in their element. Barreling down Main like a Tarkus tripped out with half-stacks, rippin’ cracks in the pavement, ZAM is the maelstrom made flesh and set to scorch. This LP certainly isn’t made for mediation, so it’s best to buckle in. ZAM is made for mayhem and motion – grinding out grey matter melters with deadly precision on every track.

While the bulk of the album sees the band in full-form freakout, they do take things down every now and then, just to air out the fallout and survey the damage. The all too brief respites roll the record in a sultry scent of electric sex, slipping into the husk of rock n’ roll’s promise and pulling the straps tight. Thing is, ever time the band turns down the burner, you know they’re only waiting to grab the electrodes, double-charge the groove and send it tearing into town like an acid-fried golem. After an hour or so of psychedelic chaos, they slip off into oblivion and never look back. This is a record built on excesses and its all the better for never reigning in its scope. If you’re prepared to unlock a third, fourth and fifth eye and huff in the fever sweat of the soul, then look no further.




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Hoover III – “Fathom”

Following up their excellent album of space-sliced psych from last year, L.A.’s Hoover III return with a new single on French enclave Six Tonnes De Chair. Starting with a riff that scratches the ol’ runes of Sabbath in the sand, the band proceeds to drive the track in a lighter direction, welding the heavy guitar chug to echo-dripped harmonies. The track doesn’t just troll for grooves, though. As they arc into the second half the band stompboxes the warp drive and takes “Fathom” through a few layers of cosmos. Hoover III have been working a particularly potent strain of Space Rock in their first couple of releases, and if this new single is an indicator of where they’re headed, then the next LP threatens to be one to watch out for. In the meantime, this is a good reminder to shake the earthly tether once in a while.



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Sunwatchers

Following the searing burn of their previous album, II, is no easy feat but it seems that Sunwatchers are more than up to the task. As the band flings themselves into Illegal Moves, they tear another hole in the cosmic quilt – shredding the mind and invigorating the soul. Every minute of the new LP is built to launch the listener through a full-body wormhole in space and time – hurtling enough sax n’ skronk one minute to bend the brain, and cooling out the curdle the next with a rippling display of Kosmiche calm. In the world of Sunwatchers Free Jazz, Psychedelia, Krautrock and Space Rock are all on the same temporal plane – either that or once the needle drops we all inhabit several simultaneous universes that have converged on a single aural vessel to enter their plea for a balance between harmony and discord.

They were dipping into the well of electric Miles with shades of Ayler before, but that was then and this is now. Now there’s less mercy, less need to return to the structures that serve. Now the band is hot-gluing High Rise and Pharaoh Sanders to the tail pipe of Hawkwind’s space ship and letting the jagged edges tear up all the no wake zones along the Universe’s glowing canals. Now the band is slicing bits of Sun Ra’s Ark and tying them to the bumper of a biodiesel-powered minibus with Alice Coltrane (whom they cover as well) on the 8-Track at top volume – spreading an aura of defiant calm to the huddled masses. Now they’re building war cries and lullabies for a time when talk is rendered irrelevant so only the splatter of feedback and the warble of synths will communicate the proper level of dread and dreams and anger and anguish.

I said before that there’s no better moment in time for a band like Sunwatchers to exist, and I stand by that statement. The band is recording the moment the wave crashes and rolls back. Not only are they standing at the fray, but they’ve got the thread in hand to pull apart the seams as they tumble headlong into the unknown – taking us with them.



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YAK

The backstory behind Pursuit of Momentary Happiness is almost unbelievably excessive – with tales of the band’s Oli Burslem tracking back and forth across the globe in an attempt to make the album he heard in his head – working to acquire extra band members, couching in studios, and eventually leaving himself without a permanent home in the process. Thankfully for Burslem the resulting album’s breadth speaks well to the hassles he endured. Along the way Burslem connected with Jason Pierce of Spiritualized, who contributes to some tracks and lent his home studio to the cause. The involvement of Pierce dovetails nicely with the idea of making something almost too big to fail. The artist, whose own epic was notoriously hard to tour, given the necessity of orchestras and choirs, seems like the perfect foil to push another into embracing their inner grandiosity.

To that merit, Pursuit can’t be accused of sounding economical or sparse by any means. It is, in fact, the kind of big rock epic usually reserved for bands who’ve paid half a decade’s worth of dues. The album starts out on fire, albeit a fire that sounds like it was borrowed for a job interview at their eventual landing pad, Third Man Records. Opener “Bellyache” is full of the ratcheted staccato that marks much of Jack White’s delivery, feeling like it’s got someone else’s hands on the tiller. Thankfully, though, this affectation dissipates as quickly as it arrives with Burslem aiming for the kind of orchestral space occupied by his mentor Pierce welded to the dirty psych blues that slips through the veins of Night Beats and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. The band wades through some Bowie-isms (most notably on “Words Fail Me”) further cementing their pursuit of an album that’s next to impossible to fit into the room, however once they find their balance between weightless and reckless, the grand plans find their payoff.

Reaching for the ineffable is commendable, but POMH often works best when its reaching not for the stars, but rolling in the dirt. When the band cranks the coils on their diesel-bred guitar scorch, they light up. The heat off of Blinded By The Lies is enough to melt skin. “Fried’ and “White Male Carnivore” are similarly breathless, boiled, and bent. The band feels most comfortable when they’re cobbling together a beast built of feedback and bile. When properly positioned the uptempo fare makes the ozone-scraping opulence of the other tracks feel like a balm. YAK are strapped to a scrap metal spaceship gazing back at the arc of the horizon. After the intense tumult of breaking through the atmosphere they give the listener a little time to breathe, an the scope of Pursuit begins to come into shape. The white-knuckle parts leave the deepest scars, but its nice to feel that breeze on the wounds in the end.



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Writhing Squares

The second slab from Philly’s Writhing Squares brings no disappointment, slump or stumble. The band is as restless and as ragged as ever on the new LP. Built from the embers of space rock and punk while chasing the same fevered hallucinations that haunted the ‘70s German Progressive set, Out Of The Ether imagines a less meditative method than the rhythmic wranglers that came before them. Storming through the halls of Hawkwind’s leather n’ lather vibes with whiffs of Amon Düül II piped in one speaker and The Contortions piped in the other, Writhing Squares aren’t here to get Kosmiche. Far from it in fact – they’re here to demand the cosmos pay up in sweat equity and they’re willing to rough up some rhythms to get their psychedelic due.

That the two halves of Writhing Squares come from a couple of Raven’s favored noiseniks is no surprise – the common ground between early Purling Hiss and Taiwan Housing Project is abundantly clear and goes a long way to explain the impulses at work on Out of the Ether. There’s an overt sinister quality to the record, rotted and raw. Writhing Squares conjure the sounds of nightclub sweat at the end of humanity’s rope. Post-societal collapse there’s no hedonistic joy, only the night terror taps of the band’s inhuman drums, the barbed wire gnash of vocal invective and the rusted saw of a salvaged sax beat into the shape of a call to arms. Provenzano and Nickles thread their wounds with bailing twine through the first half of the record, then smash the fourth wall to ecstasy with the side-long crusher “A Whole New Jupiter.”

While 2019 makes its play as a year that could use a record or two to salve our collective wounds, Writhing Squares make a damn fine argument to cut a few fresh ones first. There’s still work to be done. Stay agitated. Philly’s finest have your back.



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