|Space Ritual Revisited
Monday, January 28, 2013
What a great way to start off the new year. Sue and I headed down to Herne Bay (Kent, on the east coast of England) on friday to hang out and see the area. We visited Canterbury (Cool old town) and Margate, where Nick and BoB Calvert used to hang out. IT was very cold but sunny during the day and fun to see. Saturday morning we popped by the Kings Hall to see if anything was happening. Chris Purdon (Space Ritual Synthesizer player) and Thomas Crimble (Ex-Hawkwind bassists, now plays Hammond) were setting up but no one else except the organiser was around yet. The PA and light folks were due any moment. Anyway, we hung out at a local pub called the Shiip and had dinner. There were quite a few people going to the show and they had come from all over the UK. Some had even seen Hawkwind in Manchester the night before and said it was a good show but the sound was a bit dodgy. The sound was good tonight but the sax and lead vocals were too loud.
We got into the venue after a very heavy search and grabbed a beer and just walked around. I did not meet anyone I knew except Alan Davey and Nik Turner, who I just happen to run into. He was in a good mood and looked better than the last time I saw him. He was setting up some CDs for sale. Alan had a huge stand of his solo stuff, Gunslinger and a few Hawkwind items. Sadly, they did not have any t-shirts for the event, just a poster for 5 quid but I never liked the design that much in the first place.
The band came out just after 8 and played the first half of the record in about 55 mins. Nik started off the show with a speech about barney Bubbles and how he had assigned everyone special colours and worked around the zodiac signs, etc.. They originally said they were going to use his designs and really try to recreate the light show but that was a complete failure so as it was a pretty ordinary and not very impressive light show and way too much bright lights were used and the occasional strobe light on Nik! Anyway, after Earth Calling, straight into Born to Go we went and it was good and loud and the bass pretty powerful, the way it was suppose to be. They had advertised that Terry Ollis would play drums but he was out because of a injury and no reason why Mick Slattery was out but his replacement, Vincent was quite good and did a long solo straight away in Born to Go to get things going. The Calvert character (JIllian from Hoaxwind) was very good. Ray, the one handling the Dave Brock vocals had no charisma at all but sang decently. They all seem to be having a great time and the time went by fast as cool versions of Down through the Night, Lord of Light, Space is Deep and the powerful Orogone Accumulator, which they jammed out a lot. Upside down was also much longer than on the record and I think they even snuck in some of You know your only dreaming (might have been around the Awakening??).. Jillian was great with the poems as well. Excellent first set and then they good a break.
It was only about maybe 20 mins before they hit the stage again with the 10 seconds of Forever into what was probably a 15min version of Brainstorm and the crowd just loved it. Lots of people dancing. Nik mentioned that 7 by 7 was one of his favourite Hawkwind songs. I recall he messed up the flute part and sadly you could not really hear the space sounds on this song as Chris played the VCS3. Sonic Attack was really cool and spaced out. I had expected a long version of Time we left but it was pretty normal before they blasted out Master of the Universe in a pretty fast version. Welcome to the Future and that was it for the record. On the tour the band would often return with an encore of You shouldn't do that. The band squeezed in Urban Guerrilla first and then a long far out version of You shouldn't do that with a guest sax player and they and a bit of battle. It was like 15mins of spacing out. Silver Machine, which was the single in 1972 was played and Nik did the lead vocal although Jillian was out and looked ready to sing it as Calvert. That was another 90mins and we were done. What a great night. I think they musically really delivered the goods and did the jamming as well. Thomas Crimble played on all the songs but I was so glad you could not hear him at all as Space Ritual did not have any keyboards and should not.. I should mention that Lynda, the dancer was not a dancer at all and mostly just posed and stood around looking sexy but pretty bored. Amazing night.. so glad that I made the trip from Denmark! The whole event was recorded and filmed with five cameras and they did not allow photos so this was the best one of the few I tried to sneak.. I should also say that they will do some sort of Greasy Truckers Space Party in Herne Bay in September where they will perform all of Hall of the Mountain Grill and Robert Calvert's Capt Lockheed and the Starfighters. That will be interesting..
Sunday, January 20, 2013
Inner Light Orchestra is a super cool gathering of members of the progressive and psychedelic rock world in Helsinki with members of Uzma, Hidria Spacefolk, Wasami, etc.. The CD has been a long time in the making but has finally been completed and released! Yeah! It is 5 long tracks (50mins) that will take you right back to the early 70s vibe of the great Finnish acts, Wigwam, Elonkorjuu, and Tasavallan Presidentti. Boogie Night starts with a reggae like guitar riff but then quickly changes and does not look back with the saxophone coming in and a more complex theme is repeated over and over while each person takes some solos. Cool and complex stuff. Winds of Oyá is the shortest track at 7 mins and features some really nice guitars from Samuel on the left channel and Heikki on the right trading back and forth. Kimmo lays down the grooving bass and Ville the drums. Jenni plays some saw on this track and Antti the sax. Lamentation of Ancestress features Jukka on the Hammond organ in a really cool progressive jazz rock workout. Summer Days, Summer Nights has a nice rhythm guitar followed by another with a wah effect that is mirrored by the sax in a very cool way. Very melodic, happy music for around the fire on a Finnish summer evening. The smooth bass line is just fantastic, in fact, Kimmo, really drives the music throughout the CD in a very cool way. This develops into a fantastic jam at the end with some great guitar solos and sax. Probably the most psychedelic track on the CD. Domestic Spirts closes out the CD. It starts with some acoustic guitars and flutes as it slowly builds up. This one also turns into a cool jam as well but with flute instead of sax and both guitar players doing solos S(Samuel left, heikka right channel). I sure hope this band makes some more albums as they are just fantastic.
There is no web site for the label or the band, sorry…..
Three Seasons is back with their 2nd full length record and it follows in the footsteps of the last one but is a bit more blues rock oriented. The opening track, Set in Stone will remind you so much of Siena Root. The way the bass line comes in the organ, the guitar riff. Oh yeah, Sartex used to sing with Siena Root. Great 70s sound and vibe and a bit psychedelic effect on the vocal at time. The mid-section features a long organ solo. Searching features a bit more guitar and has a more loose jamming feel to it. Far as far can be starts slowly with a beautiful keyboard line. Sartez sings very passionately on this track and it reminds me of Deep Purple somehow but the guitar is much less dominant. Ain’t got Time is still very organ driven but a bit more aggressive groove and turns into a cool blues rock jam with a great guitar solo. Flip the record over and the title track plays. This is a very melodic track that like the last track becomes a blues style jam. Fantastic vocals. I would be Glad has a pretty cool guitar riff that leads the way on this really grooving one and you even get some cowbell! Maria is a very special song and one of my favourites on the record. A lot of killer dynamics on this instrumental track. Can’t let Go is a really jamming track with great guitar and organ. You can tell the band is really having fun and has a great dynamic. I really want to see these guys live. They only seem to play in the Stockholm area of Sweden and Spain!
Gary and Sundial are back with another new psychedelic experience. While I was not really that wild about the last generic stoner rock record they made, this is some really cool stuff. The opening track, Mountain of Fire and Miracles, has that psychedelic feeling and reminds me of the Dead Flowers from their last LP, Altered State Circus. A repetitive guitar and bass line and spacey floating keyboard. Radiation starts more slowly with some strange electronic noises and delay guitars as the drums and bass keep a steady rhythm. The flute (or keyboard) takes the lead on this journey, which never really climaxes but just spaces out. Burned In closes the A side with a very short instrumental you will hardly notice. Flip the record over and Mind Control starts and it will remind you a small bit of the classic Sundial track, Mind Train but not nearly as psychedelic or intense. It has a real repetitive groove with the keyboard again leading the psychedelic path. It has some pretty spacey slide ebow guitar as it heads towards the end and the next track, Last Rays of the Sun. This track is again more lead by the keyboards and is a very beautiful slow trance of a track. In every dream home a heartache starts with acoustic guitar and reminds me of the Hawkwind song, Assault and Battery with a similar melody. This is only the 2nd song with vocals. A quite heavy guitar riff kicks in the first real guitar solo on the entire record but a cool psychedelic one. Anyway, a pretty cool record but if you were hoping for the guitar oriented sound of the bands early stuff, you will be disappointed. Pretty psychedelic record though.
Samsara Blues Experiment released this 12” of new material just before their winter tour in 2012. The A side is a new fresh version of their song, Center of the Sun. This is probably better than the version on their debut LP. I love the delay guitar section as it is so psychedelic and they kick in with the heavy stoner riff just at the end again. Great stuff. Flip the B side over and you have a track called Midnight Boogie. It is a mixture of the old UFO song, called Boogie (1970) and their own track they jam out of it. Boogie is a killer guitar riff and for years I had waited for a band to do a cover of this one. I picked up the UFO live record back in 1979, even before I heard Strangers in the Night and was hooked on the early UFO sound. Anyway, I have to say that SBE do a pretty cool version. They play it a bit faster but it just does not hook you the way the UFO version does but once they leave the Boogie and enter into the Midnight part you have one of the most amazing tracks the band has ever recorded and wow, this blew me away. Killer vocal, psychedelic guitar and what a solo and riff!!!!! They even have some spacey synthesizers at times. Amazing number. the majority of the track is their own making and fucking great.
I had never heard the Russian band, The Grand Astoria before, only read about them but I am a follower of US Christmas so I was very curious about this 12”. The Grand Astoria start the 12” off with an LP side long track called To Whom it may Concern. It has fantastic lyrics and they have a very unique sound and are a big band, featuring 10 people. It is a strange mix of heavy, psychedelic, progressive, some screaming vocal at times, but a lot of stuff going on all the time as it slowly builds up. The cello, trumpet and trombone come in a bit later in the track when the sound sample from an archaeological show. The next section is really spacey before the track builds up in intensity. The lyrical content is more intense as well. This track is quite a journey. Great stuff.
The US Christmas side I was hoping was new material but it is not. It is two live tracks from the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco (Amazing place to see a concert!). Silent Tongue from the Salt the Wound CD is first and a slow spacey track. Next they perform the most instrumental song, In the Night, from the Run thick in the Night LP. Nice open sound quality but sometimes difficult to hear the two drummers plus hand drummer, violin and synthesizer. If you are a collector you will want this but otherwise it is nothing new. The record is a simple sleeve with a small thick paper insert with all the details about the tracks and who played on them. I think this is limited to 500 copies.
Sardonis left Belgium and did a tour in Japan with the great Eternal Elysium. This 10” was released for the tour (I believe after actually). It features one long song by each band. It was released in an edition of 500 copies with 100 on lavender vinyl. Eternal Elysium starts things off quite heavy. The track is mostly slow and heavy but then a groove kicks in with some psychedelic double tracked guitar. Later they really mix it up with some trumpet and saxophone, which changes things totally but this does not last long before the heavy riff comes in again. It is cool to see this band continuing to experiment. Unbound is a slow bluesy track to start before the heavy riff kicks in. It later really picks up pace into a cool jamming track. Flip the record over and the Belgium duo, Sardonis perform on much shorter track called the Ascending. It starts slow and spacey with some samples and xylophone before the huge guitar riff kicks in. It starts slowly but then the track really picks up tempo as Jelle pounds on the drums. The guitar is riffing in a quite melodic tone but Jelle seems to be running away from him until it slows down again. The xylophone adds a nice touch during these slower parts. The track picks up and takes off just as before.
Deep Space Destructors are a 3 piece group from the Northern Finnish town of Oulu (way up there!). This is the bands 2nd release and it comes in a very cool foldout sleeve with amazing artwork but little information! The four songs are: Beneath the Black Star, Deserted Planet 2078, Spacy Phantasy and Sytli (They are very difficult to read in the sleeve). Beneath the Black Star is a 9½ min journey that starts slowly. The vocal comes in about 1/3 of the way. The music is mostly slow doomy, melodic vocals with a great bass lines like early Hawkwind stuff. Some spacey lead guitar comes in at the last minute before they return to the main theme. Deserted Planet 2078 starts very slow and bluesy. It has a dark mysterious edge to the music as it builds up but it always comes back to the melodic vocal section. Almost exactly half way through it starts to get more psychedelic with some added guitar effects for a brief period before the bluesy guitar returns and then off to a jam. Cool effect on the bass and the guitar becomes more spaced as well and then a back to more uptempo and intense riff. Spacy Phantasy starts with some melodic vocals, some space wind as the melodic guitar riff slowly builds up the piece, which is very riff based. Sytli is sung in Finnish and the longest track on the CD at 11½ mins. It is a slow floating melodic track to start and then about 5mins in a more hard riff kicks in and it goes back to a more doomy theme like the first track and an intense ending. Overall, they remind me a lot of some of the early First band from Outer Space material! A similar vibe at times. Check them out at Bandcamp. Cool stuff..
This is a jam that took place in 2011 with the Portuguese band, Black Bombain and the mighty GNOD. It is a slow developing jam that starts with a simple guitar line and a spoken word piece and space sounds. It really starts to take off when the cool bass line kicks in. About 8mins in he starts to play some lead guitar but the sound is pretty much a crazy mix of sound. You can only really hear the drums and voice clearly and everything else is just sort of a crazy blur of sound with no one really coming to the front much. Very psychedelic stuff, as your mind floats away from your body.. At 14mins a more heavy guitar riff kicks in he adds some long delays to the vocals that are really cool and far out.. around 17mins they come down to earth as things slow down and you can hear the synths (sounds like a kaossilator pad?) and the band try to find direction again. By 25mins the bands are just going nuts and the sound is really fucked up as everyone is the same volume so none of the instruments really stand out so you feel like you can sort of hear everyone but just barely. He is playing a ripping solo and you can only hear it if you really listen hard. It will still blow your mind. Around 30mins the drummer stops and they don’t all totally stop but nearly. The vocals take the center stage now as the others make some delay guitar, space sounds, etc.. the bass player is starting up another line that the drummer will hook into at 32½mins and they take off once again.. Towards the 45min mark it has a darker theme emerging with the guitar line and a very droned out synth-organ. The vocals reappear in a intense way. Spaced out stuff, I just wish the lead guitar was no so buried and there was a bit more clarity in the sound. It is just an audience recording and a lot of people playing so it is not that easy for the sound guy. Enjoy.. Not sure how many of these are made but they are really nicely packaged with some photos from the evening and in a nice sleeve.
Tuesday, January 1, 2013
I have to say I heard a hell of a lot of great records this year so this is a really tough choice for me. There are many great records that did not make the list. Maybe I did not give them enough time, they just arrived or I bought them at the wrong time, one never really knows. Anyway, here is what I really dug a lot.
Dirty Money (USA)
Antibalas (used to be the Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra) are from NYC and on this new record, their first in like 4 years, they go back to simple 8 track analog recording and nearly all live and delivery an totally killer Fela inspired records with cool lyrics. I love this record.
- DZENGHIS KHAN- PREHISTORIC ROCK-LIVE IN SAN
FRANCISCO CASSETTE (US 2012)
Pretty surprising to have a limited cassette only release from 2006 as a top release but this band just blows me away. They have that raw energy of Blue Cheer but their own cool psychedelic vibe. This stuff is just the pure essence of rock and roll in it’s rawest most emotional form. Stripped down and LOUD.
- Mantric Muse- Mantric Muse (Denmark)
This record has been 10 years in the making but is finally out. I have been friends with the band since 1998 and followed the complete journey of this record and it is for sure the best space rock record that came out this year. Heavily inspired by Ozric Tenacles but with its own very unique and psychedelic flavour. Each song is an amazing journey in itself.
- Astra- The Black Chord (USA)
This was a highly anticipated record and it did not disappoint at all. Very powerful, intense, dramatic music and not as laid back as the first record and more solos. Just amazing tracks. True Heavy Progressive Rock!
Smoke- Whippoolrwheel (USA)
This is an American southern rock band with a slight country twang at times. I have to say they write some of the best damn southern rock songs since the 70s.. Simply a great band. If they would turn into one that does some jamming like the Allman Brothers, they could turn into a favourite of mine but they seem happy playing nearly the same songs every night and just like on the records and their fan base is growing all the time, so they see no reason to do anything else. They are not going to turn into a jamming band to please me, that is for sure.
- HIDRIA SPACEFOLK- ASTRONAUTICA (FINLAND 2012)
It has been 4-5 years since the last Hidria Spacefolk record and they have had some changes in the band and moved into a more progressive rock area with more complex songs and layers but still maintaining that killer groove and psychedelic nature and unique sound. A totally amazing musical space rock trip.
- Saint Vitus- Lillie F-65 (USA)
Saint Vitus have not made a record in a long time and Wino is in absolute top form. I really like the songs on this record a lot and I spun this one a bunch but I am really disappointed with the sound production. It is just to open, drums are too loud and the guitar just not in your face. It takes away from the power of these great songs. If this had the production of the early record it would have been at the top of my list but the drums being the loudest instrument really ruins it for me.
- Oresund Space Collective- West, Space and Love (Denmark/Sweden)
I know, this is my own band but this release really has a special place in my heart and it is totally different from all my bands other releases. I love the other two we made this year but this one, which is just laid back eastern psych with the guys from Siena Root just takes me to a different place.
9. 9. DARXTAR- AGED TO PERFECTION CD-R (SWEDEN 2012)
Darxtar are Sweden’s longest running Space rock band and they have evolved quite a lot over the years but this is certainly their best album since the early Hawkwind inspired days. Just a fantastic record with really potent ecopolitcal lyrics as well. Great job…
- MAY BLITZ- ESSEN 1970 LP (GERMANY 2012)
This is a true archive release but one that really represents a special time and place when bands would just set up and loosely play their songs but expand, jam and space out just based on how they felt at the moment and this was a damn heavy rock band from the UK and here you get to hear what they were like live and they killed. Great amazing record..
- ARC OF ASCENT- THE HIGHER KEY LP (NEW ZEALAND 2012)
This is the 2nd Arc of Ascent record and while I quite liked the first one, this one sees the band heading into a more jamming spirit while still maintaining that hyponotic spacey stoner rock sound. You can really get sucked into these songs. Very inspired by the early Datura material. Check out that rerelease of their first with the live album. The live album is a killer..
- LORD VICAR- SIGNS OF OSIRIS 2LP (SWEDEN/FINLAND 2012)
I have really become a great fan of this band and was lucky to see them live twice last year and they were excellent both times. This album is even more diverse than the first full length release and has really grown on me. I wish they had more guitar solos but they write excellent songs.
This is not new material but very few people heard this music before it was released on vinyl there year. The band is really able to evoke that early 1970-1971 Hawkwind feel and this is spacey, emotional and powerful stuff.
- ADMIRAL SIR CLOUDSLEY SHOVELL- HEAR IT, FEAR IT LP (UK 2012)
The Admiral blew me away at Roadburn so when I popped this record on the turntable I was prepared for the raw nasty rock and roll that blasted from the speakers. This record just kicks ass from start to finish.
- SEID- MAGIC HANDSHAKE 2LP (NORWAY 2012)
I did not expect the SEID would ever return from the depths of Trondheim but they did and have released an amazing double LP and the most powerful intense music they have ever created. The Balkan themes are gone but the intense space rock has been turned up a notch. A great selection of songs.
15½. Glitter Wizard- Hunting Gatherers (US 2012)
I have to mention this one as I have been spinning it constantly and it still surprises me. I can play the Wizard Wagon track over 100 times. It is so damn catchy… If you dig psychedelic rock with some space rock influence thrown in, this is a record for you..