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tiistai 18. syyskuuta 2018

Superfjord - All Will Be Golden

Svart Records

It's been four long years since I reviewed the debut album of then new Finnish psych sensation Superfjord. It Is Dark, But I Have This Jewel was an excellent release and found its way into the hearts of many serious psych rock lovers all over the world. Since then the band has been involved in a couple of split singles on the marvellous Fruits de Mer records, and the cover versions of Coltrane's "A Love Supreme" and Zappa's "Peaches En Regalia" were totally mind-blowing. They have not played that many gigs with several band members also being active in other projects etc., but I have been lucky enough to witness some great, almost spiritual live performances by them.

The band has lots of different infuences from various decades of psychedelic, experimental, jazzy, hypnotic and progressive pop & rock music. They have mixed all these different vibes, sounds and vibes into a fresh, interesting and inviting brew that sounds modern while bowing deep to the musical master-minds of the past. This exactly is their strenght, in addition to great compositions, clever arrangements and superb musicianship, of course! The use of percussion on several tracks brings to mind Santana (or Finnish groove gurus The Hypnomen), the delay guitar on the opener "Cut and Paste" was perhaps first introduced by Ash Ra Tempel's legendary Manuel Göttsching but later used by many fans of cosmic krautrock like Helsinki-based Siinai. In addition to the groove, vibe and texture the music also has some superb melodies. The vocals are mostly used more like a mantra somewhere in the background, they are difinitely not a lead instrument like guitar, synthesizer and saxophone. I really like the solos, by the way! There are also elements of modern electronic (trance) music that I sometimes dislike but Superfjord can handle that too with flying colours. Astralasia, Hidria Spacefolk and Kingston Wall's III came to mind in this respect.

The progressive flourishes remind me of Frank Zappa at times and the sax adds a pleasant, smokey and jazzy element. When the band really let go, they are on fire. Some of the little more relaxed parts will get any Pink Floyd fans to close their eyes and dream. There are no totally chilled-out, ambient tracks this time, though. "Parvati Valley" gives us also some Indian atmospheres without sitar, "Rainha da Floresta" takes us into a whole different trip inside a rainforest. This is absolutely one of the best and most inventive albums released in Finland this year, so be sure to check it out! The official release date is this Friday, September the 21st and the release party will be held at Kuudes Linja on October the 19th. See you there!

Flowers Must Die - Ejefjallajökull, new video world premier!

Astral Zone is honored to present you the world premier of a new video by Swedish psych/space/prog rock group FLOWERS MUST DIE - Ejefjallajökull

This is what the band has to say about the track and video:

“Ejefjallajökull” a name hard to spell, pronounce and to remember but for many people the actual Eyafjallajökull which is a volcano on Iceland is hard to forget. It erupted in 2010 and caused a lot of problem especially air travel all over the globe.
And it was around this period we started playing this song, so even if it´s on our latest album ‘Där Blommor Dör’ it was recorded many years ago. And a track we have included in our live set many times.
But still only a early version was included on a tape in 2012 and then later in a live version on “The Greatest Hits (Live)” tape from 2014.
This recording is probably between those releases and the structure was kept for years, and then we decided to add some instruments as the original take was a bit from our safe zone when Jonas played Xylophone, Rickard Saxophone and Lars only on Djembe through the track. So Sven added more drums, flute, Martin and Jonas some guitars. Rickard took care of the  mixing from home and added some Synth and Percussion and finally a violin on top from Lisa to complete the track.
A fun note, Lisa´s previous band was named after another Icelandic volcano - Katla and we named this track several years before even meeting her.

The band will perform for the very first time in Finland on Helsinki Psych Fest in Gloria this weekend, get your tickets from:

maanantai 17. syyskuuta 2018

Custard Flux - Helium


Custard Flux is a new project by The Luck of Eden Hall psych/prog/pop guru Gregory Curvey. It's easier to let the man himself tell you how this happened: "This project was born out of a vision I had after acquiring a 100 year old Harmonium, and the ability to be able to set up in the park and play progressive psychedelic pop without any electricity. Newly located in Detroit, I've set out to find a group of like minded musicians, including a Double Bassist, Drummer, Keyboardist and Guitarist. It's taken some time, but the spark has been lit, and I'm pleased with the music. I hope you like it too." So the idea was to make psychedelic prog pop in an semi-acoustic way without electric instruments and the Harmonium definitely adds and extra baroque flavor to the music. This is still definitely not "classical music" in any way, although you can hear classical influences in some of the melody lines etc. The drum set and wonderful, rather complex compositions still make it sound more like modern stuff. There's also been some cheating so you can hear a few marvelous fuzz guitar solos in there... Just check the beautiful "Forevermore" for a taste of that.

All the 11 tracks on the main CD were written, performed and produced by Curvey himself. I love the way he can make rather complex melodies and rhythms seem and sound so natural, flowing and effortless. His soft vocals are perfect for the music and caress your soul. There's lots of excellent acoustic guitar work throughout the album. The magnificent, progressive instrumentals "The Shire of  Gingin" and "La Mort" are great example of this. Curvey is also an able drummer and has visited several of the recent Sendelica albums as a second drummer, for example. Other instrumentation includes at least piano and double bass, I'm not sure what else, but the overall sound is very lush and well-balanced. The acoustic nature of the music makes some tracks sound more like folk, especially the ones without actual drums. The fans of The Luck of Eden Hall will for sure also enjoy this project since you can hear the similarity with Custard Flux. The music is maybe not THAT psychedelic but songs like "Out of Phase" will still make your head spin a little. As usual, it's almost impossible to name any highlights since I just love all of Curvey's tunes. Warmly recommended! If you want to go all the way, there's also a limited deluxe edition in a beautiful hinged wooden box including a bonus CD with five more tasty tracks as well as a card set and 16-page booklet. Hopefully a double LP version will follow!

keskiviikko 12. syyskuuta 2018

Øresund Space Collective returns to Finland!

After seven long years, the Danish/Swedish improvisational space rock band Øresund Space Collective orbits to Finland again next month! I've been involved in getting them to the country every time so far so I'm really happy to be the dj at their Helsinki performance.

The space ship stops on their Sweden - Finland Tour Oct 2018 on Melody Box, Stockholm, (SE) on the 24th, Reviiri, Turku (FI) on the 26th, Kuudes Linja, Helsinki (FI) on the 27th and Vastavirta, Tampere (FI) on the 28th. They also have the Norwegian psychedelic space rock cadets Black Moon Circle on board for the whole trip and local bands will be added to each night.

Do not miss this rare opportunity to experience a totally improvised, psychedelic sonic trip by the space captains!

Get your flight tickets for the Helsinki show over here!

maanantai 10. syyskuuta 2018

Helsinki Psych Fest Vol.2 - Flower Power, Gloria, 21. - 22.9.2018

I'm really looking forward to this two-day festival taking place at the great Gloria venue (old movie theater) in the heart of Helsinki next week! I will be one of the dj's with Johan Ventus and Daddy Suburbanite and we all will be spinning some of the coolest psych nuggets from the late 60s and early 70s from seven inches. Dj Goldie Claws will also play a special, short late-night set.

The organizer(s) have really worked hard this time to present some of the best psych rock acts of the moment that could make it and suited the budget. The highlights for me will for sure be Our Solar System (SWE) whose LP's I really adore, Flowers Must Die (SWE) that I'm also a big fan of as well as Dead Vibrations (SWE) who I'm not that familiar with but who have released their debut album on the excellent Fuzz Club Records this year and of course Sir Robin & The Longbowmen (GER), who will just release their second album before the fest. I have not seen any of the above yet, so should be exciting...

The legendary cosmic synth wizard Esa Kotilainen (ex-Wigwam, Tasavallan Presidentti etc.) is always a pleasure to experience live and Deep Space Destructors from Oulu will send you on a trip to space. Brand-new experimental spoken-word/freak-out act U.F.O. -tutkimuksia will help with this. It will be cool to mellow out with the progressive, jazzy moods of Soft Power and and Astral Bazaar. The adventurous avant-garde experimentation of Sturle Dagsland (NOR) sounds interesting, and I'm sure Meteor Vortex and Skyjoggers will blow some minds with their stoner space rock.

There will also be visuals by the amazing VJ Jonne Pitkänen, movies, decos, side-atractions and Dr. Psykerö's after party club upstairs with suitable entertainment so, all in all, this festival will be a real trip for all the senses for sure! Get your tickets from or at the door.

Here is the Facebook event.

And here's a Spotify Playlist of the bands.

See you there!!!

The marvellous poster by Ekku Säily.

lauantai 8. syyskuuta 2018

Fuchsia - S/T 2LP + DVD

Fruits de Mer Records (crustacean 86)

For the first actual reissue album on Fruits de Mer Keith has really pushed the boundaries! Fuchsia's eponymous debut album is one of those legendary early 70s cult albums that dissappeared in the winds of time due to the group disbanding short after the release. Surely it was not the case of just another standard quality band splitting up since the innovative, original progressive folk rock that Tony Durant and his mates put out in 1971 still sounds fresh and magical today. There have been several reissues on CD and semi/un/official vinyl bootlegs as well, but this is the first time the album has been reissued officially on double vinyl with amazing, remastered quality. So,  the release also includes a bonus LP with demos etc. as well as a DVD where Tony tells about the album and what has happened since its release.

The actual album includes the seven original tunes sounding crystal clear and totally spellbounding. I really like the compositions that are rather complex but natural sounding at the same time. In addition to the usual band instrumentation we have strings that give a the music a bit classical touch at times. The music is not that psychedelic but has a strange, very pleasant and magical appeal. Tony's vocals are a bit part of the enjoyment for sure. One of my favourites is "Another Nail"  that rocks out a bit more and reminds me of S. F. Sorrow era Pretty Things a bit. Sometimes I hear echoes of Love and some U.K. acid folk acts, but overal Fuchsia pretty much sounds just like themselves. The longest track "The Nothing Song" is perhaps the most psychedelic and also one of the highlights for me. Wonderful!

The bonus disc has some special treats. The dark and mystical "Somnabulist" is a new recording (yes, Fuchsia has been active again during the recent years and even released a second album!) of a very old song and I really like it. "Rock and Books" is another old song newly recorded and has a more folky touch also including some accordion. Then we've got the original 15-minute long "Fuchsia" demo that got the band signed to Pagasus label in 1970. The sound is a bit inferior here of course, but still totally okay and this historical recording is a joy to experience. Next it's time for a couple of original demos ("The Band" and "Ragtime Brahms"). I especially love "The Band" that was re-recorded for the Me and My Kites with Tony Durant of Fuchsia single released on Fruits de Mer in 2013. Then there's an acoustic version of the Fuchsia II song "Fuchsia Song". The great Swedish band Me and My Kites perfom "The Band" next with Tony and I really like this version that somehow caresses my soul. The album is finished with another Fuchsia II demo "The Waves" that has a bit spooky, hypnotic mood. In addition to the two LP's and DVD fans will also get a marvellous 24-page A4 magazine and a fold-out poster all packed in a glorious gatefold sleeve including lots of notes by Tony himself. This must be the best reissue I've seen or heard this year! It's no wonder the album is already sold-out at Fruits de Mer HQ but check out the best stockists.

perjantai 7. syyskuuta 2018

Ufo Över Lappland - S/T

Sulatron Records (st1804)

Ufo Över Lappland is a new instrumental psychedelic space rock band from Northern Sweden and a most welcome newcomer to the Scandinavian scene for sure. They are not as heavy or powerful as their Southern space cousins Yuri Gagarin and maybe closer to some hypnotic trance rock outfits. The bass is still pretty heavy and Hawkwind-like! I've seen the band live once at Uleåborg Festival of Psychedelia, Oulu, and enjoyed their show although was not totally blown away. It somehow seemed they were not 100% into it, maybe they were a bit nervous or tired or both, or maybe it was just me.

Anyway, the band released their first tape in 2016 and this LP/CD seems to be pretty much identical to it. One new (?), a bit more progressive track "JaEDeJaE"has been added, and the long, cool spacey jam "Lemmy on the Beach" is only a bonus track on the CD version, just like on the first tape release. My favourite track is perhaps the opener "Keep On Keepin On Space Truckin" that keeps a steady, hypnotic krautrock-like beat going for over 12 minutes. The spacey, windy synth noises  and heavy bass remind me of Hawkwind, but the airy, delayed guitars are closer to modern kraut/psych rock. Towards the end the track gets a bit more intense which is great. "Podzal" is a bit more ethereal and dreamy track with some cool synthesizer work. "Nothing That Lives Has.... Such Eyes" has a bit eerie, otherwordly vibe and I can almost see the UFO's flying through the Northern Lights. Wonderful! The end gets pretty weird and experimental. Too bad that the LP version doesn't have room for the CD bonus track "Lemmy on the Beach" since it is rather intense stuff bringing to mind Hills etc. All in all a very promising debut, I have a feeling the next proper studio album will be a real killer! This album will be released in a couple of weeks so be prepared.