Listen to the latest Astral Visions Mixcloud Show!

torstai 31. joulukuuta 2015

Å - Å


I must have received this album almost a year ago for a review but somehow forgotten about it, so my apologies... Of course I must say that a band called Å that has a self-titled album without any mention of a label is pretty hard to google down as well... But the name means stream/river in Swedish, so it's actually a pretty cool name. Anyway, now that I remembered this great album again and even found the band on internet, let's get to business. Å is a progressive, psychedelic and experimental rock/folk group from the woods of Uppsala, Sweden, and this is their first album. Like very often in Sweden, there are links to some other cool contempary Swedish psych acts like Me and My Kites, and a very strong 70s vibe.

The album has eleven tracks. The band starts off with the at first peaceful, under-three minute "Hijazz". It's almost instrumental, hypnotic stuff with rather heavy guitar sound and mystical sounding horns. The track turns directly into "Jag Vill" and things get more progressive and we get some great, melodic vocals as well. There's some wild, heavy jamming later on... "Änglarna Dansar" begins in a very mellow way, there's also some keyboards on this one and more saxophone by legendary Swedish musician Roland Kejser who's been playing since the late 60s (Arbete & Fritid etc.) and plays on the whole album. On "Joelbitar" the band gets more psychedelic and rocks out. This is the longest track at 8:13 and reminds me of the early 70s Swedish heavy prog/psych rock, like actually most of the album. "Soluppgung" has a more folky vibe at first but gets deeper and pretty hallucinatory and I really like this one. "Nej Se Det Snöar" is a bit more experimental but heavy piece, "Måndåren" a slow, bluesy number that also has Swedish folk vibes. The B side begins with the soft sounds of "Du Gamla". "Du Fria" is more powerful stuff again, also having some reggae elements. Kejser's great playing adds lots of additional layers as always. One of my favourites is the hypnotic "Tågfärd" that sounds like an improvisational jam. It turns into classic Swedish lullaby "Trollmors Vaggsång" that first gets heavier and then jazzier and somehow fits in really well. What a cool way to end a great album! If I have understood correctly, this vinyl album is a limited edition of just 200 copies but it still seems to be available from the band's Bandcamp site so hurry up! We can also expect some new stuff by Å hopefully next year.

maanantai 28. joulukuuta 2015


(Some sad news from Jerry at Aural Innovations... Please let me know if you have ideas how I could continue my Astral Visions Radio Show that Jerry hosted?)

After EIGHTEEN years of continuous publication I have decided to bring Aural Innovations to a close.

I have not lost interest. I have not gotten bored. In 2007 I began another research and writing project, which I’ll apologize for being vague about, that I made considerable headway with through about 2010, at which point I realized I was over my head in terms of available time to work on it. In recent months it’s been gnawing at me, and increasingly so to the point where I’ve decided it’s time to move on. Actually the decision got easy once I realized that I should consider it a luxury when the worst problems I have in this world are agonizing over which of my passions I want to prioritize.

The good news is that due to the generosity of Brian Feather at Cleveland Hosted the Aural Innovations web site will remain, though in a static, non-updatable form. That means all the reviews, articles and interviews will remain, as will the Robert Calvert, Stone Premonitions and Thru Black Holes Band sites. The radio shows will be removed, though I don’t consider them as significant as the written material from an archival standpoint.

The web site goes static the first week of March. I will spend between now and then clearing out the reviews backlog and doing my best to spread the word to bands and labels that they should remove me from their promo lists. What they should NOT do is remove me from their news/announcement lists. I am STILL interested in keeping up with new releases!

It’s been a hell of a ride. I’ve been exposed to an amazing amount of music, made a lot of great friends, and even got to meet a fair number of you in person. I’m proud that Aural Innovations lasted so much longer than most web sites. Life is good…

I can’t close without sending out HUGE thanks to the staffers who made Aural Innovations possible, especially during the “issues” years: Keith Henderson, Scott Heller, Christian Mumford, Jeff Fitzgerald, the late great Doug “Dr Synth” Walker, Roger Neville-Neil, Adam Strider, Chuck Rosenberg, Charles Van de Kree, Mike Reed, Carlton Crutcher, Albert Pollard, Pat Albertson, Santtu Laakso, and may hell consume me for anyone I’ve left out.

Jerry Kranitz

tiistai 22. joulukuuta 2015

Electric Moon - Flaming Lake

Sulatron Records (st 1104 / st 1511)

Okay, another reissue from Sulatron Records from Germany and this time by Dave and Lulu's own band Electric Moon. Flaming Lake was originally released on CD-R (250 copies) in early 2011 and soon after that on 2LP (500 copies).  This great live album has been a real favourite among the fans and due to the limited editions has became rather sought after so now it was time to put it on proper CD as well as press another 500 LP's, this time on blue vinyl.

Although Flaming Lake is a live album the sound is excellent. By the time this was recorded the instrumental trio had progressed a lot in their live jams and it seems to me that Dave and Lulu had recently got some new gizmos to their effect collections since the sonic world was more varied and even more psychedelic than before! In addition, Lulu in particular plays more fluently than before which is nice.

Flaming Lake includes four long jams that were recorded in Battenberg on 2nd July 2011. ”The Cosmic Creator” truly leads us to the Great Psychedelic Creator and what a journey this is! As usual, the band starts off slowly creating cosmic moods but later on they rock much harder. Amazing! The psychedelic “Flaming Lake” doesn’t get that heavy than the previous track but rocks out nicely in the middle. The album’s longest jam is the closer to 24-minute-long ”Lost and Found Souls” that has some Eastern, mystical vibes and even gets close to some doom metal bands. But don’t worry freaks: this still is a really hypnotic, cosmic and mind-expanding jam! ”Burning Battenberg” is a bit lighter, spacey going including for example some delay guitar but later on it gets closer to psychedelic stoner rock. On this track Philipp from Daturana replaces Alex on drums and he does a great job as well. The whole album is full of superb stuff and this really is one of the best live releases by the band so far! It's really cool that this stuff is now available again for those who missed it the first time around.

Sun Dial - Mind Control

Sulatron Records (st 1510)

This is the first CD issue of the latest studio album by U.K. neo-psych rock legends Sun Dial. Mind Control was originally released in 2012 on vinyl only and limited to 500 copies, so I guess this was in order. I reviewed the album back in 2012 so I'm using some of that now being a lazy bastard...

The UK based Sun Dial was formed in the beginning of the 90s and is a great example of prime neo-psychedelia. Their 1990 debut Other Way Out is one of the most legendary releases in this genre. The band led by guitarist/singer Gary Ramon made several other great albums in the first half of the 90’s before fading out after the 1995 album Acid Yantra. You can read more of their history from the interview I did with Gary in 2003, for example. In the 00s this band that is one of my favourites luckily started to rise from the dead and I think that especially Zen for Sale (2003) was a very good album. The untitled official studio album from 2010 on the other hand was a sort of disappointment for some of the fans since the band seemed to be trying to reach the metal audience which meant less psychedelia. But that album still has its moments! It’s also worthwhile to get at least some of the compilations and reissues with bonus tracks that have been coming out during the recent years.

Now Sun Dial has very consciously returned to the moods of their first album since the producer is Hugo Chavez-Smith who also produced Other Way Out, their early record label Tangerine has been resurrected to release Mind Control and the music is maybe even more mind-expanding than ever! Recorded in 2011-2012, (the original) Mind Control includes six tracks and I really like them all. The over nine-minute “Mountain of Fire & Miracles” is very hypnotic, druggy and mystical stuff that somehow brings to mind the brilliant Inside the Acid Temple album by Liquid Sound Company. Gary’s voice sounds really good. What an excellent and psychedelic track! The instrumental “Radiation” starts off peacefully and there’s also some flute sounds like on the debut album. Soon the groovy drum beat joins in and then also some electronic soundscapes appear and finally some heavier electric guitar. Great! “Burned In” is a short, experimental sound collage and then Sun Dial goes for a Neu! styled kraut rock jam on the long, instrumental title track “Mind Control”! This is another one of my favourites on the album and is guaranteed to make you feel dizzy in the head. ”Last Rays of the Sun” is a beautiful, tranquil and atmospheric track that doesn’t have any vocals either. ”In Every Dream Home a Heartache” begins acoustically in the same style than many of the songs on their recent semiofficial CD-R EP’s. The chord progression reminds me of Hawkwind’s “Assault & Battery” and there is also some violin in there. Gary’s singing is not that on-your-face but still very efficient. Right in the middle the track starts to move in a heavier manner and works very well. We still get to hear Gary’s wah guitar soloing too which is always nice...

What's special for this CD reissue are the two previously unreleased bonus tracks at the end! "Seven Pointed Star (Short Version)" and "World Within You" were both spawn from the same recording sessions than the six tracks on the original LP. The first one is a hypnotic, apocalyctic instrumental that would suit perfectly a Satanic horror movie. The other one is a slow, hazy psych rock song with some signature fuzz guitar work by Mr. Ramon as well as floating flute. A cool, otherwordly atmosphere to end this very nice reissue that's worth getting even if you have the LP already. It's also great to know that the band have been working hard on a brand-new album so beware...

sunnuntai 20. joulukuuta 2015

The best albums in 2015!

Top Ten Finnish albums (in alphabetical order):

Black Lizard - Solarize
Circle - Pharaoh Overlord
Dark Buddha Rising - Inversum
Death Hawks -  Sun Future Moon
Domovoyd - S/T
Galacticka - S/T
Sammal - Myrskyvaroitus
Seremonia -  Kristalliarkki
Tuliterä - Tulikaste
Tähtiportti - S/T

Top Twenty Foreign albums (in alphabetical order):

The Bevis Frond - Example 22
Carlton Melton - Out to Sea
Cranium Pie - Mechanisms Part Two
Dungen - Allas Sak
Electric Moon - Theory of Mind
Giöbia - Magnifier
Golden Void - Berkana
Hills - Frid
Jacco Gardner - Hypnophobia
Kosmischer Läufer - The Secret Cosmic Music Of The East German Olympic Program 1972-83 - Volume Three
Lamp of the Universe - The Inner Light of Revelation
Monster Magnet - Cobras and Fire (The Mastermind Redux)
Ozric Tentacles - Technicians of the Sacred
Polska Radio One - Early Broadcasts
Sendelica - Anima Mundi
Space Invaders - Dreadnaught
Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats - The Night Creeper
White Manna - Pan
Zone Six - Love Monster
Øresund Space Collective - Different Creatures

I made a rule of not including any live albums or compilations. It sure was a grear year what comes to music!

Happy holidaze everyone...

perjantai 18. joulukuuta 2015

The Honey Pot - Lisa Dreams / Into the Deep 7" / Inside the Whale

Mega Dodo Records (MEGA2 / DODOLP/CD14)

The Honey Pot is an English psych rock/pop band formed in 2012 in Devon. They have a deep love for psych rock from the late 60s and you can hear that in their wonderful music. Their sound has both U.S. West Coast vibes as well as strong British elements, and bands like The Yardbirds, The Doors, The Small Faces, Jefferson Airplane, Donovan, The Kinks, The Flaming Groovies, Spirit, The Hollies, The Jeff Beck Group, Love, Kevin Ayers and The Rolling Stones have been mentioned as their influences. I first heard about them when their wonderful female singer Crystal Jacqueline released a solo 7" on Fruits de Mer and soon after that her debut solo album on Mega Dodo. She has now also released another solo album and they both are excellent. While Crystal's solo stuff is mostly more acid folky psych, The Honey Pot is more rock and pop oriented, but still usually rather gentle and very pleasant stuff. They released their first album To the Edge of the World in 2012 on Psychecandy Records, and there is also a split double 7" with Crystal Jacqueline with some great cover tracks on Fruits de Mer that I like very much. This stuff has also been re-released on Mega Dodo with bonus tracks on CD as Electronic Memory (sold out...).

Lisa Dreams / Into the Deep 7" is the first edition in Mega Dodo's singles club that will also feature Finland's Octopus Syng among other superb artists. If I have understood correctly, it's also possible to purchase individual singles but the numbers are very limited. The A-side is a simple, cheery, melodic and catchy pop psych treat that only ends too fast. Great lead vocals by Crystal. "Into the Deep" is a slower, longer and sort of bluesy number that has male lead vocals and a stronger, more energetic chorus. I'm reminded of Spirit a bit, I think, not bad at all! This marvelous 7" should be out in January and I recommend you to preorder it right away.

The full-length album Inside the Whale includes nine previously unreleased original compositions in 40 minutes and will be released on LP and very special 3CD set. Both formats will be ultra limited, how ever, so hurry up if you don't want to settle for the digital download. All the songs are just amazing, but I'll try to find a few highlights. The opener "The Outskirts of Your Mind" is definitely one of them. If you like the sunny, trippy vibe of the 80s UK Festival Scene faves The Magic Mushroom Band you will love this as well. I'm also reminded of The Byrds etc., just great melodic psych rock/pop stuff. The longest track is the title track that also has flute and more prog/Canterbury mood. Excellent! "Psychedelic Circles" is a very cool, a bit whimsical track with some weird backwards guitar & other psych effects. Some of the tracks are rather laid-back and dreamy, like the beautiful "Walking on Eggshells". There are also some more folk vibes towards the end. All in all, Inside the Whale is a wonderful, atmospheric and deeply emotional album that works and sounds really well as a whole. A future psych classic for sure!

torstai 17. joulukuuta 2015

Jack Ellister - Tune Up Your Ministers and Start Transmission from Pool Holes to Class O Hypergiants

Fruits de Mer (Friends of the Fish 5)

I was first introduced to the very nice and talented psych rock/folk musician and singer Jack Ellister when he sent me a CD by his psych rock band Yordan Orchestra for a review about five years ago. Jack (real name Jacek Janiszewski) is originally from Poland, but was living in Holland for a long time. He's been going solo for some time now releasing a few 7" singles and contributing on many compilations on Fruits de Mer Records and also playing quite a lot of solo gigs including one at Crabstock on Ice festival in Helsinki. Jack has now relocated in London and seems to be doing great. Tune Up Your Ministers and Start Transmission from Pool Holes to Class O Hypergiants is his first full-length solo album and features nine songs in 32 minutes. Jack plays guitars, synthesizers, percussion, violin, mouth harp and sings lead vocals being helped by some friends on drums, bass, backing vocals, horns, piano etc.

The album starts off with the rather hard rocking, 60s styled psych rock number "The Man with the Biochopper" that brings to mind early Pink Floyd among others. We have already hear this song on his first solo single, but this sounds like a new, fresh version, and I love it. "The Sun Sends Me Hails, Victory, Power, Peace and Shelter" has a more folky vibe but grows on its way. "Saddle Up the Horse" sounds a bit like early David Bowie or Tyrannosaurus Rex and also has lots of acoustic guitar as well as sax and piano. A rather nice song! "Calm Adapter" is minimal, atmospheric, experimental and very peaceful piece to end the A side. "Great Esmeralda" is one of Jack's best and most effective songs with a superb chorus and a definitive highlight on the album. "Curator" is a short, weird, trippy and experimental piece a bit in The Beatles style, and then comes the beautiful, melancholic acoustic psych folk masterpiece "Wishmachine" that I really like a lot. "Old South" is one of the most experimental pieces on the album, and sounds like an old steam train going very slow on a hazy, mysterious landscape. The album is finished with the pretty and psychedelic, organ driven "A Hunter Needs a Gun" that again remains me of early Pink Floyd and has an epic ending. What a great song and a perfect way to end the album, I'm in awe. I'm afraid it might be impossible to get a copy of the first LP pressing that is due out soon since there will be only 111 copies made, but I get the album will be available in other formats as well.

Sula Bassana - Shipwrecked

Sulatron Records (st1602 / st1602-2)

This time David Schmidt aka Sula Bassana has gone to the more electronic side of space/kraut/psych music again. Shipwrecked is his latest solo album and it differs quite a lot from his latest, more rock oriented studio solo album masterpiece Dark Days released in 2012. Of course having an electronic beat on the new LP/CD doesn't make the music any less hypnotic, psychedelic or spacey. In addition to electronics, lots of vintage instrumentation (mainly synthesizers) is also used. This, actually, is very trance-inducing, hallucinatory, kosmische and spacey electronic krautrock.

Shipwrecked includes six instrumental (apart from some sampled spoken word) tracks that vary in length from just under three to almost eleven minutes. The opener, the pulsating, hypnotic and trippy "Moonbase Alpha Alpha" is a very suitable soundtrack for astronauts and you can feel the space ship taking off and flying though space. Wow, I love this vibe! The longest piece "Shushi Express" is another great hypnotic, motorik and spacey number that puts you in trance. The slower "No Time : No Eternity" chills things down in a cool way. I'm reminded of Helios Creed's Dark Matter ambient project a bit. "Planeta Bur" is a nine-minute psychedelic, electronic space journey and also rather peaceful stuff. Great! The most relaxing pieces are the last two: the beautiful, floating and laid-back title track "Shipwrecked" that also has some soothing strings sounds (Mellotron?) and the shortest track "No Way" that has nice organ and very ambient atmosphere. Personally I usually prefer the more "rocking" output of Sula Bassana, but he really knows how to make this kind of electronic stuff interesting and trippy too and I must say I enjoy this album enormously. This will be out in February, make sure you'll get a copy!

perjantai 11. joulukuuta 2015

The Grand Astoria - The Mighty Few

FireStorm Production / Setalight / Robust Fellow / Voron Nest (FSP 0915 / 697)

The Grand Astoria from St. Petersburg, Russia have for sure produced their most ambitious album so far. The Mighty Few includes just two massively long tracks that feature everything from heavy, doomy stoner rock through prog rock/metal, psych rock, space rock, hard rock, heavy metal all the way to folk, funk, reggae, experimental and free jazz! The instrumentation includes guitars, flute, synths, bass, electric and acoustic pianos, clarinet, trumpet, saxophone, percussion, drums and then some... Even a choir! The CD and vinyl versions differ a bit, since the CD has two separate tracks "Curse of the Ninth" (28:19) and "The Siege" (21:19) and the vinyl three: A1 "Curse of the Ninth (pt 1)" (22:39), B1 "Curse of the Ninth (pt 2)" (5:28) and B2 "The Siege (Vinyl Edit)" (15:48), so the CD buyers get a little bit over five minutes' worth of more music.

Two long tracks that have some much different stuff in them might not sound that easy for the listener to absorb, and this really isn't an easy-listening experience. Having said that, you get sucked into the music rather easily, and time just flies by. I especially adore the way "Curse of the Ninth" develops and takes you on an amazing journey through space and weird landscapes.  I think fans of Porcupine Tree, Steven Wilson, Devin Townsend, King Crimson, Dream Theater, Liquid Tension Experiment etc. will love this album. The vocals are now better than ever, and the playing and sound quality is top-notch. It would be interesting to see how they perform these two mega tracks live since the studio versions feature 10 persons... Check this out!

torstai 10. joulukuuta 2015

Bread and Circus - Born Again Again

SlowBurn Records (SBR 061)


Bread and Circus is an American indie rock band with some punk and just enough psych vibes for me to include this review on my psych blog. Another reason of course is that this CD was released on SlowBurn Records, who have given us great albums by Black Sun Ensemble and Sun Zoom Spark etc. and it also features several psych rock musicians from the Tucson scene. The promo sheet compares this album to Jayhawks (never heard them...), Peter Green from Fleetwood Mac and Blue Cheer, and maybe they know they are talking about. Personally I like the fact that some songs (and great guitar solos!) remind me of British indie psych heroes The Bevis Frond and maybe also Neil Young, especially the last, rather heavy and great track "Tired". Some of the songs and melodies also bring to mind some Irish folk/indie rock acts and well as country music. Highlights for me are the energetic opener "Black Wing Bird" that has plenty of psychy, fuzzy guitar work and the slow, bluesy and melancholic ballad "You Were in Love". "Clumberland Farms" is pretty straight forward punk, and I also like the mid-tempo and bit darker "Scarecrow". This is not the kind of music that I usually listen to, but I still like it.

Window Blinds - Lobotomil

Ski Star Productions

This latest release by Window Blinds was released already a year ago, so sorry for the delay. The duo is formed by Petri Parkkali (Finland) and Thomas Schärer (Germany), and they make very dark, strange, depressive and mostly electronic music that makes you feel heavily sedated or, indeed, lobotomized. Whether you like the feeling or not, is up to you... You can check my review of their first release over here.

This digital-only (well, I got a promo CD-R here), almost totally instrumental release includes 11 tracks in 35 minutes, so most of the pieces are relatively short. The second longest track "Finistère (Check-in)" starts off the album in very dark and Gothic mode. This one also has depressive vocals. There is more melody towards the end that keeps things interesting. I'm actually reminded of some of the most electronic and gloomiest Post Romantic stuff from the 80s, which is actually quite nice. The instrumental "Suicide Tourism" is a bit more experimental and weird, but melancholic stuff. The title track is not just as dark, somehow an image of lo-fi Atari Kraftwerk gone weird comes to mind, and the same goes for some other pieces as well. There are a couple of very short experimental tracks, and some tracks have also piano in addition to the odd soundscapes and electronic experimentation. The longest piece is the 8-minute "Sister Ruth" that's rather odd and out-there. I really can't get a grip of it or most of the other tracks, but maybe that's just how they wanted. I can't say that this is exactly the kind of music that I enjoy to hear, but I'm sure there are people who enjoy this stuff very much.


keskiviikko 9. joulukuuta 2015

Moonwagon - The Rule of Three

Presence Records (precd 050)

Finnish progressive/space rock band Moonwagon seems to get into a bit more jazz/rock fusion and less space/psych direction on their new, third album. Synth wizard Ami Hassinen (Nemesis) is out of the band leaving just the trio of Janne Ylikorpi (bass, keyboards, bass pedals), Joni Tiala (acoustic & electric guitars, keyboards, dulcimer, mandolin, voice, backing vocals on "Run to the Sun") and Jani Korpi (drums & percussion, acoustic guitar, voice, lead vocals on "Run to the Sun"). In addition to the late 70s/early 80s styled prog/jazz fusion there are also more acoustic elements on several songs giving some folk vibes.

The album starts off with the rather progressive "The Infinite Pattern" that sounds to me like Rush or latter day King Crimson, although totally instrumental, like rest of the album apart from "Run to the Sun". On "Forgotten by Time" the bass is playing an important role, and this brings to mind some 70s/80s rock/jazz fusion albums that I have gotten rid of years ago. When the track starts to roll it gets better, and I'm reminded of Wigwam. The bass solo sounds like Pekka Pohjola or something, not bad at all! "Fresh Avocados" is a short, cheery, acoustic-driven piece that only lasts for a little over two minutes. "Run to the Sun" has vocals too, which if I remember right is the first time for Moonwagon. This is a rather up-tempo, sunny and happy song and has some cool synth sounds and a nice guitar solo. Actually this brings to mind the 80s U.K. free festival scene heroes The Magic Mushroom Band, but I doubt that the Moonwagon guys have actually ever listened to them. "Skylines at Night" is a very nice melodic progressive hard rock piece with some great atmospheres and playing. The album is finished with the almost 17-minute "The Journey Back Home" that has a very peaceful beginning. Then there's some soulful, bluesy going, and then things get more progressive and interesting. Around the nine-minute marker the track gets heavier and starts to rock out, very nice! Then there's some jammy, jazzy stuff, and things cool down until the very end where there is a more powerful part again. Maybe the highlight for me! Warmly recommended to fans of progressive rock with some fusion and space elements.

Chef Menteur: III

Sunrise Ocean Bender Records (SOB004)

Chef Menteur is a psychedelic space/art/prog/post/shoegazer/drone/ambient rock band from New Orleans, and they have been putting out albums for ten years now. This triple CD-R release is the first one that I've heard, and it's a pretty interesting package. This limited edition, professionally printed 3CD-R in cool cardboard cover includes a re-release of their 2012 2LP East of the Sun & West of the Moon, the unreleased companion album North Tomorrow & South of Yesterday from the same sessions, and their very limited 2014 tape Force Majeure.

So the first disc includes all the 12 tracks from the 2LP East of the Sun & West of the Moon. The music differs from hard-rocking sonic assaults through ambient, atmospheric soundscapes to minimal, experimental and sometimes electronic experiments, and it can all happen even within one track. There's stuff to like for post rock fans, prog maniacs, space heads as well as those who dig modern indie rock. No matter if your favourite band is Radiohead, Lumerians or GSY!BE, you will enjoy this. The 69-minute North Tomorrow & South of Yesterday disc apparently has stuff that was recorded at the same time as East of the Sun & West of the Moon but not included on that one for what ever reason. Personally I think that most of the 15 tracks don't sound like left-overs but have distinct ideas, but there are also many very short experimental pieces that maybe don't really go anywhere special. But the best pieces, like the chilled-out tracks "Farfisa Duo Raga" and "Terpsichore (Long Version)" or the epic "The Long Stand (Parts I & II)" are really cool. Force Majeure is much shorter at 32 minutes, and only includes five tracks. "Færoe" is a very laid-back ambient piece, "Pyramid Scheme" a funky psych rock track you can dance to, and "Death Wraith 2000" a pretty heavy space rock blast. "Surface Tension" is at first more peaceful stuff but it starts to rock later on. "Immense Dimension" is a rhythmical and exciting track that also has some great melodies and more tranquil, experimental elements. Wow! This band can do some much different stuff that I can only be amazed. Somehow it all still stays together. This is a very thorough and interesting introduction to this unique and varies group, and a must have for their fans of course.

tiistai 8. joulukuuta 2015

Ole Lukkøye: Dyatly

Trail Records ‎(TR-016)

Russian's own  shamanistic, ethnic world/psych/electro masters Ole Lukkøye have been around for over twenty years now, but this is their first new studio album in nine years. It's been five years since their latest compilation Petroglyphs as well, so I'm happy that they have something new to offer now. On this new album they wanted to keep the sound pretty simple and close to the live experience. So most of the music was recorded live in studio, just some percussion and lead vocals were dubbed. They have also used cool studio wizardy to create a really spacey, psychedelic, tribal and hypnotic result. I fell in love with the band in 2000 when they released Crystal Crow-Bar on Klangbad and was really happy to find a copy of their debut album on vinyl shortly after that.

There are only five tracks on this 67-minute CD. Four of them are pretty extended, and in the 14-18-minute range. The overall vibe on the album is deep, trance-inducing and mind-altering as always, but this time there is more room for psychy effects which is great. The sound is created with excellent female female vocal improvisation, male vocals, keyboards, guitar, programming, gluckophone, bassoon and different kinds of percussion etc. as well as those spacey soundboard effects. The experience is really other-worldly, and the listener feels like being transported into some mysterious, magical and ancient place. I really like the fist track "Kommuna Ra" that starts off with something that sounds like wolf's howling. It's a hypnotic, very percussive and dreamy piece with lots of spacey swooshes, bleeps and other trippy effects. The title track "Dyatly (Woodpeckers)" is a rather relaxed and mellow affair, but grows a bit along the journey. And what a journey it is... "Bela Dama" has a bit more energetic beat you can dance to which reminds me of Ozric Tentacles a bit. "Just Wind" is a little more electronic in nature also including some pulsating sequencers. The last track "Veni, Vidi, Vici" is the shortest at 3:53 and it's a very chilled-out, ambient and peaceful piece. In summary, this is an excellent piece of shamanistic world/folk/psych/trance music that deserves to be heard all around the globe.

Paradox One: This Fragile Peace

Stone Premonitions (SPCD 080)

Paradox One was formed by vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Phil Jackson from U.K., and he released four albums on his own before inviting other people to join in his project. On This Fragile Peace he is helped by Stone Premonitions crew members John Simms (Clear Blue Sky etc.) on vocals, guitars, bass & programming, Maxine Marten (Clear Blue Sky etc.) on vocals, Paddi (Cencus of Hallucinations etc.) on drums and percussion and Tim Jones (Cencus of Hallucinations etc.) on bass guitar. This is a very laid-back, sometimes jazzy, sometimes experimental and ambient prog rock album including nine tracks in 39 minutes. The sound is crystal clear and very digital like, so this is not for those who want their prog rock analogue and raw. I find this album very suitable for starting your morning with, it has this chilled-out, relaxing and beautiful vibe and the sounds and vocals just sooth your spirit and soul in a very nice way. Only the last track "The Unknown Unknows" rocks out a bit more and gets your energy levels up. All in all, a very nice, spacey and a bit psychedelic album with cool synth sounds and talented playing by everybody. Check it out!

maanantai 7. joulukuuta 2015

Theodor Bastard: Oikoumene / Vetvi

Dance Macabre Records / Theo Records (005)

Theodor Bastard is a Russian Ethnic folk/psych/ambient/Gothic/Electronic/World music group from St. Petersburg. They have been releasing CD's from the beginning of the millennia, and just recently sent me a couple of their latest releases. I had never heard of them before, but got to confess that I like their hypnotic, mystical sounding music that combines ancient acoustic instruments and folk music vibes with modern sounds. There's everything from traditional folk music, trip hop and rock fusion in their music. I'm often reminded of Dead Can Dance or Theodor Bastard's fellow countrymen Ole Lukkøye, also from St. Petersburg.

Oikoumene was originally released in 2012 in Russia, but I got a German reissue from 2013. The CD includes 12 tracks in 64 minutes. There's also a highly limited (200 copies) LP version with two less tracks out there. One of my favourite tracks is the quite Ethnic sounding opener "Takaya Mija". I love the female singer's voice and the percussion and other instrumentation that makes this sounds very tribal. "Gerda" has more modern instrumentation like keyboards and electric guitar making it sound more like Mountain of One or even Pink Floyd with its great melodies, another highlight. Some of the songs are much more minimal and acoustic/folky in nature and also feature male vocals, some bring to mind Massive Attack with trippy beats. I also really like the rather dark, Dead Can Dance like title track and the mystical "Anubis". The last track "Benga (Fun-Da-Mental Version)" is a remix by Aki Nawaz and more experimental, rhytmic and electronic sounding but pretty interesting too. A very cool album!

The new album Vetvi is a collector's edition in very nice digipak (with text in Russian) inside a slip case (with texts in English). It also includes a booklet (in Russia and English). The CD lasts 49 minutes and includes ten tracks. The album starts off with the very peaceful and melancholic "Umbraya Erze" that only has acoustic instruments (like bone flute, Siberian violin, hurdy-gurdy, percussion), lead vocals and a choir. "Vetvi" also has electronic beats, synths & keyboards in addition to strings etc. "Salameika" is another slow, soulful song at first, but it grows when the modern Ethnic rock beat is added in the middle. The beautiful "Kukusha" starts off in ambient mode, but soon a cool, trip hop styled beat is added. I really like the vibe on this one. On "Aion" the band plays a bit harder rocking psych rock and I like that side of them as well! A great track. "Niti" is rather minimal stuff, and the same goes for the beginning of "Veter" that grows into A Mountain of One like hypnotic groove. "Yaard"has for example dulcimer, cello and didgeridoo on top of modern electronics and and female vocal melodies are amazing as always. The slow and mesmerizing "Beliy Gorod" has an ancient, mysterious vibe to it, and so does the last track "Colodec", although there is also some programming. Another great album, and this band is definitely worth checking out if you like deep, dark, percussive, Ethnic, acoustic/electronic fusion music with some psychedelic vibes, great musicianship and amazing vocals.


keskiviikko 2. joulukuuta 2015

The Band Who's Name Is a Symbol: Masters of the Mole Hill

Birdman Sound Records (BS016)

I must admit, that although The Band Who's Name Is a Symbol from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, have been around since 2008 and released even nine vinyl only albums (the way to go!), this latest release is the first that I've heard. Their instrumental, hard-rocking and pretty raw and punky music is a cool mix of space rock, krautrock and improvisation.The album (or at least the digital download promo) sounds pretty much is was recorded at a rehearsal space or something, so don't expect super high quality which is for pussies anyway. I'm not saying the album sounds bad, just pretty rough and raw which matches perfectly with the vibe. I think the band is now a six-piece, and I can hear mostly guitars (also solos!), bass, drums but there are also some keyboars/synthesizers in there. The more floating pieces are the experimental opener "Underworld" and especially the last, long and at first almost ambient, then sort or tribal track "Ice Rings". A bit slower "Darkness" sounds like a heavier version of Amon Düül II and has more keyboards. Most of the tracks are rather energetic and up-beat and rock hard. For fans of raw, hard-hitting psychedelic rock!