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tiistai 27. joulukuuta 2016

Steve Hillage - Searching for the Spark Box Set

Madfish (SMABX 1045)

Now, if this is not the ultimate Steve Hillage fan's dream come true then I don't know what is. This MASSIVE box set includes 22 (yes, twenty-two!) CD's worth of recordings from 1969 to 1991. So the story begins with the wonderful Uriel/Arzachel and Khan albums that I love so much. This is where Steve's career in music really started. Then he of course joined Gong for a series of amazing albums, but this box does not have any Gong stuff. Sure, Steve's first solo album Fish Rising released in 1975 features most of the members of Gong, and that's what we'll get next, followed by his eight other olo albums. Most of the albums have several extra tracks that have never been heard before... Very interesting!

After the official solo albums it's time for one System 7 album, and then for six discs of live material and four discs of demos and archive material from 1970 to 1990! What a treasure trove this is. At this point I must declare that I have not heard the whole box. I only received the one disc promo version of it, but it includes seven tracks of demo/archieve/live material and gives a good picture of what's inside the box. The sound quality isn't always top-notch on the demos, of course, but that's not the point. The point is to give a definitive picture of a career of one of U.K.'s most talanted, creative and unique artist.

In addition to the actual music, the box also includes a hard-back, 188-page book, a 60-page scrap book, two lyric booklets, three promo posters, an enamel padge, a plectrum and a certificate of authenticity signed by Steve Hillage and his partner Miquette Giraudy. I really wish I could afford to buy this beauty and I'm sure you won't find these at bargain sale anytime soon since this is a strictly limited edition of just 2500 copies worldwide. Definitely warmly recommended for die-hard fans and those who really want to find out about Steve Hillage and happen to have big pockets.

Ahkmed - The Inland Sea

Elektrohasch Schallplatten (Elektrohasch 171)

Ahkmed are an Australian psychedelic and atmospheric space/stoner/post rock band and this is their second full-lenght on Elektrohasch following their great 2009 album Distance. I also have the Russian CD Chicxulub that compiles their early EP's. I have a feeling that this band is relatively unknown to the great audience in Europe, but I'm sure the die-hard psych/stoner/space rock heads know them all over the place. The band's songs are getting longer and longer and more adventurous, so this CD/2LP has only five tracks.

The album kicks off with the rather heavy, energetic and rocking "Kaleidoscope" and you can see the colours swirling around. From the middle onwards the track is atmospheric, hypnotic post rock, but erupts into orgasmic space rocking again towards the end. Amazing! "The Inland Sea" starts in a very laid-back, dreamy way but slowly builds up after the three-minute-marker and gets into a cool stoner rock groove. Then it chills out for a while, and the end of the track is excellent, slow and dreamy post rock with heady spoken vocals. Probably my favourite, phew! "Last Hour of Light" is the longest piece at over 20 minutes, and has a lot of different emotions and styles going on. The beginning of it is peaceful, atmopsheric post rock, but then the heavy and mind-melting space rocking begins! The last nine minutes are spent floating in experimental ambient soundscapes. "Pattern of Atolls" somehow brings to mind their label mates Colour Haze and has both heavy and beautiful moments. The album is finished with the 16-minute isntrumental "The Empty Quarter" that slowly grows and evolves like Explosions in the Sky stuff. Another great album by the band and I advise you to listen to this with headphones on and your eyes closed for the best and most psychedelic effects.

Colour Haze - Live Vol 1 Europa Tournee 2015

Elektrohasch Schallplatten (Elektrohasch 060)

Colour Haze from Munich, Germany might have started as a Kyuss worship act in the mid 90s, but they have matured into an original, very influential heavy psych rock band during the years. They are one of the longest-running bands in the Europe's heavy/stoner rock genre and have played with this ultra tight trio line-up since 1999. For some reason they have only released one live album before this one, the Burg Herzberg Festival 18. Juli 2008 double CD in 2009. Live Vol 1 Europa Tournee 2015 was recorded at several locations on the band's two-week-plus European tour in 2015 and features a perfect collection of real live tracks spanning from most of their career, but concentrating on the albums after 2000. This is a massive 2CD/3LP set, so the fans really get a lot of great stuff here.

The album starts off with "Periscope" that dates to late 90's. Very cool to hear a live version of this desert rock classic! Also the following two tracks, the groovy "Moon" and the longer "Überall/Call" were recorded in Frankfurt, as well as the ultra-long "Peace Brothers and Sisters" Colour Haze anthem that comes later on. The tracks are in a little bit different order on the CD and LP. The Cream inspired, even jazzy and progressive "She Said", the much shortened version of "To the Highest Gods We Know", the hypnotic "Circles", the amazing "Temple" and the even better "Love" all are from their Paris show. The extended "Aquamaria" is from Würtzburg, and the excellent "Transformation" and "Grace" from Berlin. The CD version has one more track recorded in Köln: "Get It On" originally from the CO₂ album released in 2000. My only wish is that they could have included something from Los Sounds de Krauts (2003) and this was the album that I first heard from them.

Anyway, as you might have guessed, this is the real deal with no overdubs what so ever, so you got to experience live Colour Haze as it should be: raw, honest and full of emotion and the pure joy of playing music that they love. This is a killer band both in studio and live, and it's really cool for the fans to have this live album to enjoy. These guys play really put 100% of their energy and emotion into their music and you can feel that.

Astral Visions #70 online now!

You can listen to my latest psych mix at:

 ncluding cool tracks by Verma, Dhidalah, Borracho, Albinö Rhino, Gösta Berlings Saga, Cosmic Letdown, Mysterose Garden, Lamp of the Universe, Megaritual, The Myrrors, Dreamtime, Buddha Sentenza, Al Lover, The Honey Pot, Øresund Space Collective & Baby Woodrose!

sunnuntai 25. joulukuuta 2016

Sun Dial - Made in the Machine

Sulatron Records (ST 16062)

U.K. neo-psych rock band Sun Dial has been one of my favourites since the 90s and a new album by them is always a big deal for me. Made in the Machine is the band's second album for German based Sulatron Records following Mind Control put out in 2012. Things happen pretty slowly at Sun Dial camp these years, but I'm just happy that they are still releasing new music!

I got to say I was rather surpriced when I first listened to this album, as it's the most electronic the band has ever put out. The 2LP/CD has 14 new tracks and some of them are instrumentals. The album starts off with the hypnotic "Meltdown" and what a great, somehow krautrocky track it is! "Contact" and "Ascension" are two of the electronic instrumentals and pretty spacey and out there. The use of programmed drums and dancey vibe might feel a bit weird on a Sun Dial record but I got used to it. "Sea of Rain" is a more laid-back, melancholic and pretty song with cool synth/keyboard soundscapes and manipulated vocals. "Space Dust" is one of the grooviest tracks and also one of the highlights. This instrumental brings to mind the very psychedelic and groovy CD's by Japanese Christine 23 Onna that I love. Also the sampled astronaut talk fits in perfectly... The motorik "Aurora" continues the astronaut theme in samples, great. "Sun Gate" takes us even further and it's a peaceful, spacey instrumental with a little bit of dub feel to it. "Generator" finishes off the first album with droney soundscapes, heavy, doomy fuzz guitar, slow, hypnotic beat and weird, mantra-like vocals. Highly effective!

"Eclipse" is another atmospheric, laid-back instrumental, and "Autopilot" a very strange and experimental track with an Eastern vibe. "In the Machine" has steady sequencers, odd synths and a krautrock beat and apparently no guitar. On "Dark Planet" the band gets deep into space again in an electronic, old-school Berlin kind of way. I like it a lot! The electronic vibe continues on the mellower "Slipstream" but there's also some cool, psychy guitar on that one. Nice! The album is finished with "The Gates of Eden" that maybe sounds the most like vintage Sun Dial since it's guitar driven and has real drums and those druggy vocals. It also has organ, vibraphone etc. to give it an airy, floating touch and it gets heavier towards the end. Another killer record by Sun Dial, one of the best album in 2016!

Øresund Space Collective - Visions of...

Space Rock Productions (SRP038)

Visions of... is the second new studio album by Øresund Space Collective this year following the awesome Ode to a Black Hole. There have also been a few vinyl issues of albums previously available only on CD, so there has been a lot stuff to dive into for the fans. This is the 23th(!) ØSC release and recorded by a loose collective of American, Swedish and Danish musicians at the same, long jam sessions than Different Creatures and Ode to a Black Hole. The album is released on one CD and 2LP and includes one, massive track and three shorter (to ØSC!) tracks.

The album kicks off with the 42-minute title track. The beginning is very abstract, ambient and somehow free-jazzy, but the beat starts before the three-minute-marker, and slowly the track grows and gets more intense. There's some excellent guitar in there, and the usual spacey, windy analogue synth sounds that are so essential to all ØSC releases. This is a rather groovy but still airy and floating, long piece and I enjoy it a lot! The track is of course divided into two parts for the LP versions. On "Above the Corner" the band gets funky, and although they do it well enough, it's not my favourite modes for them (or anybody else, for that matter). The synth-driven "Piece of Seven" is the trippiest track for me, since it's probably the most psychedelic and has a cool, tribal beat going on. A bit different for ØSC which is a good thing. "Around the Corner" is the most rocking track and maybe the highlight for me after all. Something that also Dark Sun could have done at their rehearsal jams... very cool improvisational space rock stuff! Another killer album by these inner  space astronauts, get it while you can since at least the vinyl editions are again very limited in quantity. Things will now cool down a bit for ØSC since the head wizard Dr. Space is moving out of Denmark in Spring. They will still continue to record and play live, luckily. The farewell party will take place on March 18th at Loppen, I for one will be there...

torstai 22. joulukuuta 2016

Cosmic Letdown - Venera

Clostridium Records (CR 021)

Venera is the debut album by Russian psych/space/shoegaze rock/pop band Cosmic Letdown. It was released in Russia on CD already in 2015, but this limited edition on Clostridium Records earlier this year is the first vinyl release of the album. They also released their second album In the Caves this year on Opium Eyes (Russia, CD version) and Sound Effect Records (Greece, vinyl). On that one the band went in a bit more spaced-out, experimental direction... On this debut the songs are still rather short and simple but very effective. The melodic vocals are in Russian which sound cool but I don't get what they're are singing about.

The band uses guitars, bass, drums, keyboards and sitar to make druggy, heady, hypnotic, swirling and sometimes groovy soundscapes that sort of bring to mind late 80s/early 90s U.K. indie psych rock bands. "The Sea" will please The Verve fans and especially a couple of tracks sound pretty much like Spacemen 3. But there is more... One of the highlights is "Venara-6" that also has some weird spoken samples in Russian and early Pink Floyd vibes. I really like all the tracks and the album is very pleasureable as a whole. This vinyl is hopefully still available as three different versions: die-hard limited to 98 on green vinyl with exclusive poster, blue vinyl limited to 199 copies and  black vinyl limited to 200 copies. All versions are hand-numbered and feature five cards with pictures of the members. Check it out! Personally I can't wait how the next album will sound like...

keskiviikko 21. joulukuuta 2016

Lamp of the Universe - Hidden Knowledge

Clostridium Records (CR 023)

Craig Williamson's one-mand psych band Lamp of the Universe from New Zealand has been one my favourites since the first album came out in 2001. His mystical, spiritual, laid-back, hypnotic and highly psychedelic soundscapes are just the kind of music I like relax to and float away with. It's wonderful that he has found a new home for high-quality vinyl versions of his albums at Clostridium Records in Germany. No wonder then, that his latest outing Hidden Knowledge is one of the best albums in 2016 for me.

Hidden Knowledge includes just four long tracks. The very hypnotic and repetative "Space Craft" captures us for over 13 minutes, and you can sense the presence of the highly evolved extra-terrestial beings. Amazing! "Mu" is a melancholic and beautiful praise for the lost continent and takes us back there in spirit. "Dawn of Nebula" is a great, atmospheric instrumental that also has some old Berlin-school ambient vibe. Very nice! The longest track "Netherworlds" is over 14-minute-long and what an excellent, floating and charmingly beautiful trip it is! Just close your eyes and let Lamp of the Universe to carry you to mystical, wonderful places you have probably never dreamed of before. Again, there are several different limited vinyl editions available. I naturally bought the die-hard version on amazing splatter vinyl including a poster and a slip mat... As far as I know, there is no CD version of this one. At least Craig hasn't sent me one like usually nor is one mentioned on Discogs or Craig's Bandcam page. If you don't buy vinyl, you can always buy the digital version from the Bandcamp site. Very much recommended!

J.K.S. - Universe Beyond Universe

Royal Foulup (RF004)

Jorma Saarikangas is Finnish amatour musician and poet from Lahti. He used to record these weird, experimental and psychedelic soundscapes in the 70s at home with a primitive gear and has been releasing these previously unheard home-recorings on limited edition vinyl issues since 2004. This is the fourth (and final?) part in the series and limited to just 250 copies.

The overal vibe on Universe Beyond Universe is very experimental and weird. It's composed mostly of cosmic synth experiments, but there is also some spoken word, strange, manipulated, howling voice and vocals and a little bit of guitar etc. All the tracks 11 tracks (three of which are only very short intros/outros) on the LP have been recorded in between 1974 and 1976. "Cosmic Travel Begin" and "The Big Crunch" are credited to Hannu Pohjonen, who must have been a good pal of Jorma's in the 70s, as both guys sound like they operated at the exactly same brain wave lenght. The drum machine on "Greatest Story Ever Told" sounds so very 80s that I'm having hard time believing this is from the mid 70s? Anyway, this is probably the best release in this series and very psychedelic and odd. Universe Beyond Universe is definitely worth checking out if you enjoy the weird, trippy lo-fi home-recording vibe of the 70s. I'll just end here with a quote from the back cover to get you some idea: "All this life is part of Divinity. The meaning of life is to develop intelligence into such high level that, when the end comes, it can recreate itself... When the whole of existence collapses, the excisting life-forms will be able to code a new script on the generation of a new universe.The past and the future will be perfectly omnipresent when the divinity says: LET THERE BE LIGHT."

tiistai 13. joulukuuta 2016

Teksti-TV 666 - 1, 2, 3

Svart Records (SRE113)

Teksti-TV 666 is a new Helsinki-based band known for their very energetic live shows. They have released one limited edition 12" EP a year since 2014, and these three EP's have always sold-out pretty quickly. It was a wise move from Svart Records to release all the EP's as one double LP/CD, so that people have the opportunity to buy these great tracks. The band's music has strong roots in punk, indie, noise and krautrock, and has also some psychedelic vibes. Most of the tracks are rather fast and straight-forward with a steady, motorik beat and LOTS of guitar. The guitars are the main thing here for sure, although most of the tracks also have vocals in Finnish.

I've been lucky to score all the individual EP's and have been enjoying them a lot. Teksti-TV 666's music works well in small doses. However, since most of the simple but effective tracks sound and feel sort of the same, a double LP compilation might be a bit too much in one setting. Maybe they could expand their musical scale a bit in the future? Add some synths at least? More cosmic, experimental vibes maybe? Well, I'm sure they will do what ever they feel like and that's just fine by me, since they are hip and they seriously kick ass. Check them out!

maanantai 12. joulukuuta 2016

Dj Astro to blow minds in Tampere!

On January the 7th 2017 I will be playing a special groovy psych/space/kraut rock set at the five-years birthday party of Thirsty and Miserable club @ O'Hara's in the center of Tampere with the wonderful djs Lady Summerisle & Supervixen!

It's a free party so make sure you will be there if you live in or near Tampere and happen to be there at the time. Should be a lot of fun!

maanantai 5. joulukuuta 2016

Kremlin - S/T MLP

Svart Records

Kremlin is a new band from Helsinki playing "Southern space rock". This self-titled mini-album is their first release, and it is a cool mix of heavy, bluesy boogie, twang guitar, surf, Roky Erickson, Black Sabbath and analogue space sounds. There are six tracks on the record and I will now go through them all.

The mini-album starts off with the very Roky Erickson styled mid-tempo "Ghost Flyers" that also has some surf like twang guitar and some space noises. A very nice opener with powerful vocals and strong playing, it rocks! The second, slower track "Krühn" is closer to Black Sabbath and has some great melodies as well. I like it! "Waiting for You" is a bluesy, more atmospheric number, but not bad at all. "Lizards" is the heavy boogie piece of the album and gets your foot stamping. There's also a rather psychedelic, hypnotic part in the middle... "Transition" is a shorter, cosmic instrumental synth interlude that sets the mood for the melancholic, doomy and dark last track "World Is Coming Down" that does not give much hope for our future. Again, the vocal lines bring to mind Roky a bit which is not a bad thing at all. All in all, this is very promising debut release by this new band that's definitely worth keeping your eye (or ear) on. You can see the band live on the 17th of this month when they play with Albinö Rhino, Kaleidobolt and Getsemane at Ääniwalli, with Yours Truly as a dj. This should be fun! 


The best albums in 2016

This has been a great year in music... In alphabetic order, just full studio albums, no reissues, live albums, splits or compilations. Check out the videos at the bottom! Have fun & Happy Holydaze.

The best 30 foreign albums in 2016:

Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso U.F.O. - Wake to a New Dawn of Another Astro Era
Baby Woodrose - Freedom
Blown Out - New Cruiser
The Chemistry Set - The Endless More and More
Camera - Phantom of Liberty
The Cosmic Dead - Rainbowhead
Dreamtime- Strange Pleasures
Dungen - Häxan
Earthling Society - Sweet Chariot
Electric Orange ‎– Misophonia
Farflung - 5 
Ghost Box Orchestra - High Plaine
Gong - Rejoice! I'm Dead! 
Hashish - A Product of Hashish
Hawkwind - The Machine Stops
The Honey Pot - Ascending Scales
Kikagaku Moyo - House in the Tall Grass
Lamp of the Universe - Hidden Knowledge
The Luck of Eden Hall - The Acceleration of Time
Megaritual ‎– Mantra Music
Mugstar – Magnetic Seasons
The Myrrors - Entanced Earth
Psychic Lemon – S/T
Saturnia ‎– The Real High
Sendelica - I Walk with the Stars for You
Sendelica - The Cromlech Chronicles
The Spacelords - Liquid Sun
Sun Dial - Made in the Machine
Our Solar System - In Time
Vibravoid - Wake Up Before You Die

The best 10 Finnish albums in 2016:

Dasputnik - Psykhixplosion 
Jess and the Ancient Ones - Second Psychedelic Coming: The Aquarius Tapes
K-X-P - III Part II
Laserdrift - S/T 
Octopus Syng - Hollow Ghost / Rochelle Salt
Oranssi Pazuzu - Värähtelijä
Seremonia - Pahuuden äänet
Spiritus Mortis - The Year Is One
Throes of Dawn - Our Voices Shall Remain 
Tähtiportti - Eetterimessu

perjantai 2. joulukuuta 2016

Dreamtime -Strange Pleasures

Cardinal Fuzz/Sky Lantern Records/Tym Guitars (CF065/SLR203/TYM050)

Strange Pleasures is the third album by Australian psych/space/prog rock band Dreamtime. It is released today on 2LP by Cardinal Fizz (U.K.) together with Australian labels Sky Lantern Records and Tym Guitars. Their first two vinyl albums were originally released in tiny quantities (100 pieces each) and I have not been able to locate original copies unfortunately... There are some (again limited edition) reissues for those who are reasonable enough to be able to live with those. Anyway, this 76-minute album limited to 500 copies is so wonderful that you definitely need to hear it if you like mystical, spiritual, dreamy and psychedelic rock music.

The album has 12 tracks, most of which are rather long. The superb opener "Luminous Light" sets the tone in a great way. The groovy beat, great, fuzzy guitars, synths and female vocals sort of bring to mind Goat from Sweden, but this is a bit more progressive and melodic. Excellent! On the next track "Golden Altar" the band gets more spiritual and spacey, this is really deep, hallucinatory, atmospheric and beautiful stuff, that gets more intense later on. "River Sprites" is a pretty and melancholic song with male/female vocals and a sort of ancient folky vibe. The bit heavier, amazing and hypnotic "Fire" brings to mind Liquid Sound Company (like some of the other tracks) and also Hills and I love it. The last track on the first disc is the meditative and deep "Ascension" and I again enjoy the male/female vocals very much. Before the three-minute-marker things get weirder and more experimental, whoah!

"The Sentient" has an experimental, spacey ambient intro, and then the band goes into heavy, hard-rocking and rather fast space rock mode sounding like a mix of Hawkwind, Monster Magnet, Chrome and Yuri Gagarin but with a twist of their own. My mind is blown to pieces! The title track "Strange Pleasures" is more progressive and even a bit funky and reminds me of some of the early 70s psychy prog rock bands. The spacey and atmospheric instrumental "Celestial Spores" is the shortest piece at under three minutes, and then it's time for the album's longest track "Spectral Entrophy". It starts off slowly, and has a great, uplifting vibe that brings to mind DarXtar or Melting Euphoria, some very cool solo guitar work and a trippy overall mood. "Gamma Gobulin" is another weird, experimental and ambient instrumental piece that seems to come directly from the Australian aboriginal dreamtime. The album is finished with the powerful and mind-blowing psych rocker "Serpent's Tongue". This album is a true masterpiece of spiritual, psychedelic and mind-altering space music and definitely one of the best albums in 2016. Do not miss it!

lauantai 26. marraskuuta 2016

Gong - Rejoice! I'm Dead!

Madfish (SMALP1049)

Gong has been one of my favourite bands for decades. For many fans it was a bit hard to think of the band continueing after Daevid Allen sadly died in March 2015 after battling with a fast advancing cancer. I must say I also had my doubts, even if that was exactly what Daevid had wanted and the present members had already played and recorded with him for a while. After that we have also lost Gilly Smyth, another key character in the history and mystery of Planet Gong. Now the band is fronted by guitarist/singer Kavus Torabi, who some might know for example from his band Knifeworld, and I got to say this new album released in September is really good and a worthy addition to the Gong saga.

The standard CD and the 2LP both have nine new tracks starting with the relatively short (3:34), sort of introductory "The Thing That Should Be". As you can already guess from the album title, much of the record deals with the death of Daevid Allen, but mostly as a transformation to another stage, so the overal feel is still quite positive and soothing. "Rejoice!" is a more progressive, long piece with Steve Hillage guesting on guitar. The band goes into some deep, hazy atmospheres later on and I love it. This sure sounds like Gong! "Kapital" is a pretty weird, shorter track, and "Model Village" a beautiful, floating piece with old Gong member Didier Malherbe guesting on duduk. Wonderful! The very melancholic, rather minimal "Beatrix" is the shortest track at 2:54, and I almost started to cry when I first heard the distant voice of Daevid Allen, and the track still has the same effect on me. Next we have "Visions", an ambient excursion. The longest track on the album is "The Unspeakable Stands Revealed" and it's a marvellous, trippy and jazzy journey with lots of different turns and twists. Amazing! "Through Restless Seas I Come" is a meditative, peaceful and pretty tune that gets more intense and alive later on. Didier is also featured on this one. The album is finished with "Insert Yr Own Prophecy", a very cool and partly more energetic track that sounds and feels quite a lot like early 70s Gong which I think is great. What a marvellous trip! There is also a special 2CD/DVD-A release also including demos, rehearsals and a 5.1. mix of the album.

I know this must have been a difficult album for the band to make, but I can honestly say that they have done a great job and I know Daevid Allen is very happy on his flying teapot somewhere out there seeing that the legacy of Gong continues on this plane as well...

Weites Luftmeer - Siebenunddreißigachtundvierzig

Tonzone Records (TON 020)


Tonzonen Records once again succeeded to surprise me with some great, never before heard psychedelic music! Weites Luftmeer is a duo from Munich, Germany, making instrumental, psychedelic, alternative shoegaze music. Now I really don't know anything about their past, but Kim (drums, bass, hammered dulcimer) and Jochen (guitar, effects, berimbau) formed the band in 2012 and they have several digital only releases on their Bandcamp site. I guess this LP is their first proper release and as always on Tonzonen, a strictly limited edition.

Siebenunddreißigachtundvierzig includes just four tracks, but they are all about ten minutes in length. I don't really know how to descibe their pretty unique music, but it has elements of 60s/70s psych rock, 80s shoegaze, experimental and ambient music, even prog. Some of it rocks out, but there are also very floating, atmospheric and emotional elements (just listen to the heavenly "Trail of Thoughts"). The last, a bit harder rocking and mind-blowing "Oxykotin" brings to mind some other modern psych masters like Vibravoid or Giöbia. I'm an instant fan of the band and since all the elements (arrangements, playing, sound quality, psych vibe etc.) really work I'd like to recommend this album to all fans of instrumental psych rock.

sunnuntai 13. marraskuuta 2016

Dj Astro's playlist @ Pentagram/Satan/Spiritus Mortis/The Order of Israfel/Satan's Fall, Nosturi, Helsinki, 12.11.2016

Wow, what an amazing event... I had lots of fun!

This is what I played, more metal than usual of course!

Liquid Sound Company - League for Spiritual Discovery Lives
La Ira De Dios - Perdidos En El Espacio
On Trial - Blinded by the Sun
Josiah - Looking at the Mountain
Exciter - Oblivion/Violence & Force
Mercyful Fate - Satan's Fall
Damien Thorne - The Sign of the Jackal
Cloven Hoof - Cloven Hoof
Hallow's Eve - Hallow's Eve
Manowar - Gloves of Metal
Blessed Death -  Blessed Death
Demon - Don't Break the Circle
Angel Witch - White Witch
Candlemass - Gothic Stone/The Well of Souls
Trouble - Run to the Light
Deep Purple - Burn
Iron Maiden - Where Eagles Dare
Black Sabbath - Children of the Grave
Witchfinder General - Friends of Hell
Judas Priest - Breaking the Law
Manowar - Warlord
Obsessed - Tombstone Highway
Saint Vitus - One Mind
Motörhead - The Ace of Spades
Venom - In League with Satan
Blue Öyster Cult - Astronomy

Some videos I shot at the event:

torstai 10. marraskuuta 2016

Dj Astro to dj at the Pentagram/Satan/Spiritus Mortis/The Order of Israfel/Satan's Fall show in Helsinki this Saturday!

I'm thrilled to announce that I will be djing at the Pentagram show @ Nosturi, Helsinki, this Saturday 12.11.2016! Get your tickets now since this will be an event not to miss...

I will be spinning the best doom/metal/heavy psych available to human ears starting at 20:00.

23:00 SATAN (UK)


keskiviikko 9. marraskuuta 2016

The Honey Pot - Ascending Scales

Fruits de Mer Records (winkle 25)

Fruits de Mer Records with their sister labels have been very productive  since their inception in 2008. What would be a better way to celebrate the 100th release on the label than to make excellent psychedelic musicians to record a great double LP with original and classic tunes and inviting lots of friends of the fish to join the mind-altering ride as guests! This is exactly what happened and the result will see the light of day next month with Ascending Scales, one of the best albums in 2016.

The Honey Pot is an U.K based psych rock/folk band featuring FdM / Mega Dodo heroes Icarus Peel and Crystal Jacqueline, who are very capable of creating marvellous music by themselves. On this album their band is joined by many famous musicians like Dick Taylor (The Pretty Things), James Lowe (The Electric Prunes), Tom Newman and Peter Cook (July), Tony Durant (Fuchsia), Nick Saloman and Adrian Shaw (The Bevis Frond) as well as lots of little more underground and modern artists that have been connected to Fruits de Mer. Even 12 of the 14 tracks on this 80-minute album have at least one guest musician on it!

Right away from the opener "1969" starting off with a small spoken piece by James Lowe it's clear that this album is a winner. "Solomon Deep" sounds a bit like Bo Diddley's "Who Do You Love?", so Dick Taylor's great guitar solo fits like a glove. "Love Is Green" with Jack Ellister on guitars is a beautiful, folky tune. Anton Barbeau's vocals are perfect for the rather cheery and up-beat psych pop piece "Dr. Crippen's Waiting Room", originally by Orange Machine. One of my faves on this album! The spooky "Can't You See the Witch" (The Ruttles) rocks out great with synths by Cary Grace, another highlight on the first album. The July guys are a great match to the mellow, a bit bluesy "Half a Memory", a new song written for this album. Then it's time for some folk vibes again with the Pretty Things classic "Sitting Alone". Wonderful female vocals (four different ones) on this one! The seven-minute "I've Been So Tired" is one of the most psychedelic and experimental tracks and originally from Mordecai Smyth's first album. There's also some sax by Tabatha Smyth and very psyched-out solo guitar work. Very nice!

The second slap of vinyl starts off with "Time Machine" by Stray. Ade Shaw is playing bass and Nick Saloman does the wonderful guitar solo when the track really starts to rock out. I can never get enough of his guitar! "Lucky Spaceman" has Curvey from The Luck of Eden Hall on vocals and guitar and I like it a lot. "Rainy Day Mushroom Pillow" (Strawberry Alarm Clock) gets a very special and atmopsheric treatment with Steve Palmer from Mooch playing some exotic whistles and pipes from his large ethnic instrument collection. "America" is a tune we all are familiar with, but it still sounds somehow fresh in here. Then it's time for a The Honey Pot original "Into the Deep" and it sure is a great track as well. I love there spacey sounds and theremin and the guest on this one is Bruce Woolley (from Buggles). Tony Durant from Fuchsia is saved for the last and "River Runs By" joint written by Icarus Peel and Tony for this release is a wonderful, peaceful way to end the trip. There are no fillers on the album, so 80 minutes go by in a lovely haze and wonder. The mix of old and new songs and inclusion of so many superb guests makes this a very interesting and enjoyable experience. Just get this marvelloous album!

tiistai 8. marraskuuta 2016

Various Artists - Plankton - A Fruits de Mer Collection

Record Collector Magazine / Fruits de Mer (?)

I feel a bit weird reviewing an album that was originally released three years ago, but what an excellent compilation this is. Record Collector honored (and quite rightfully too!) Fruits de Mer Records in 2013 by releasing a vinyl compilation of the first dozen FdM releases with all tracks remastered, and it surely was one of the best releases that year for me even though I of course had all the original cover EP's. This great LP also got a one-sided 7" with a Pretty Things track on it and was limited to 500 copies. Now the album is available again but now through Fruits de Mer and on CD, but limited to just 300 copies!

The cover track selection is totally superb, and you just can't wrong with bands like Schizo Fun Addict, Stay, Vibravoid, Us and Them etc. Okay, so as you know, the key is that modern artists perform the psychedelic treasures from the past, but you can also find two 70s cult acid folk heroes on the disc: Mark Fry doing a new version of his sublime "Dreaming with Alice" and Alison O'Donnell doing a lovely cover of Nick Drake's "When the Day Is Gone". Since things are never too smooth and clever with Fruits de Mer, they have used the very same, and really awesome, cover art than was used on the original LP, so the bonus Pretty Things live track is not even mentioned, and the label story inside the open gatefold by Fruits de Mer's Keith is almost unreadable for most people over forty. But these are just minor things considering how wonderful it is that you can now get all that great music easily even if you don't have a vinyl player and at a great price too.

Hotlist November 2016!

High there! I was too busy last month to even put out a hotlist but here's my top ten at the moment (in no particular order):

Baby Woodrose - Freedom LP + 7"
Blown Out ‎– New Cruiser LP + CD
Kandodo / McBain ‎– Lost Chants/Last Chance 2LP
Vibravoid ‎– Wake Up Before You Die LP + bonus live LP
Various Artists ‎– Magnetic North LP
Flowers Must Die ‎– Sista Valsen 12"
Our Solar System ‎– In Time LP
Seedy Jeezus with Isaiah Mitchell ‎– TranquonautsLP
Lamp Of The Universe ‎– Hidden Knowledge LP
Sendelica ‎– The Pavillion Of Magic And Trials Of The Seven Surviving Elohim 2LP

maanantai 24. lokakuuta 2016

Astral Visions #69 online now!

Astral Visions #69 finally online with cool psychy tracks by The Astral Army, Goat, Kremlin, THE CULT OF DOM KELLER, Flowers Must Die, Gong - Band, The Fërtility Cult, Katla, Sundarata, The Orange Drop, TEKSTI-TV 666, Narcosatanicos, Sherpa, Cary Grace, Steve Hillage, Paul Marcano and Light Dreams, Ahkmed & Neil Anderson. Let the journey begin...

lauantai 22. lokakuuta 2016

Playlist at Blowup II Festival, Korjaamo, Helsinki, 14.10.2016

I had a really great time at the second incarnation of Blowup last weekend! It was so cool to meet so many friends old and new and hear some of the heaviest and best bands ever. I was the dj on Friday and this (I think...) is what I played:

Sleep of Monsters - The Devil and All His Works (thanks again Sami...)
Black Sabbath - Lady Evil
Flowers Must Die - Taskig Stämning Annars
Aluk Tolodo - Burial Ground
The Cult of Dom Keller - Broken Arm of God
Celtic Frost - Procreation of the Wicked
Seremonia - Hasiskultti
The Cosmic Dead - Gustav Björnstrand
Angel Witch - Angel Witch
The Skull - The Skull
Aleister Crowley - Excerpts from the Gnostic Mass
Kikagaku Moyo - Green Sugar
Minami Deutsch - Futsu Ni Ikirenai
Baby Woodrose - Reality
Coven - White Witch of Rose Hall
Black Widow - Come to the Sabbath
Blue Öyster Cult - Don't Fear the Reaper
Mercyful Fate - The Oath
Blood Ceremony - Return to Forever
Aphrodite's Child - The Four Horsemen
Mana Mana - Mikä on sun taivas
Earthless - Acid Crusher
Bathory - Enter the Eternal Fire
Venom - Manitou
Moon Duo - Sleepwalker

Thanks a lot everyone involved! Again next year?

torstai 13. lokakuuta 2016

Uluru - Imaginary Sun

Tonzonen Records (TON 018)

Uluru is a new psychedelic stoner rock band from Instanbul, Turkey. This is their first full-length album released on two different limited vinyl editions on the excellent Tonzonen Records. You can also get this as a double CD including two EP's: Imaginary Sun and Dazed Hill (seven tracks in total), and this LP version has five of those tracks. Two shorter pieces, the title track "Imaginary Sun" and "Set Loose" from Dazed Hill are missing from the LP. Confused yet?

So what do we have here? Long, instrumental tracks of rather heavy and gloomy, but also atmospheric stuff played by a trio of guitar, bass and drums with no (noticeable) overdubs. So it's all real and pretty simple yet effective played with a lot of emotion. These young guys know their shit and can play, and the music they make is rather interesting, but not really that psychedelic or spacey. The first track "Uluru" is slow and sort of bluesy, apart from the faster ending. "Demon Spirit" is similar in style, but has more soloing and also more laid-back jam parts. Cool! "Elegy" is one of my favourites with a bit mystical, melancholic and spiritual vibe. I'm somehow reminded of Finnish band Kingston Wall, very nice! Another slow piece. The almost 11-minute "Dazed Hill" starts off side B and yes, slow jamming again. Some excellent vibes in this one as well, although they might have done something different by now like exploding my brain with some faster psych rocking. Okay, they sort of do that after the seven-minute-marker actually when the track grows and gets more intense! More of that, please. The LP is finished with the dreamy "Blind Camel" that has some Oriental touch. I wish they would use some more Turkish / Anatolian influences since I think that would make their music more unique and memorable. There are just so many bands playing this kind of heavy instrumental jam music, that's it's easy to get lost in the middle. Anyway, Uluru is a very promising band and everybody into atmospheric, psychedelic stoner/hard rock should check out this album.

lauantai 17. syyskuuta 2016

Autumn of Paekward - Cern

Tonzonen Records (TON 014)

Autumn of Paekward is an experimental electronic ambient drone project by Jochen Koch from Leipzif, Germany. Cern is his second album under the monicker and also features the Schmalkalden Philharmonie to give a the album a bit of modern classical music feel and other people on vocals (narration) and solo guitar. As you might have guessed this is a concept album about Cern, The European Organization for Nuclear Research in Geneva. Yes that's right, it's the world's biggest particle physics lab established in 1954 where the secrets of the universe are being unveiled. What a great idea to use that as a theme for cool ambient music!

The album includes six rather long tracks of mesmerizing, rather psychedelic experimental music that's very electronic in nature and also includes some spoken-word in different languages, field-recordings etc. Most of the music has no rhythm, but the third track "Director's Office" also has some programmed drums and very nice solo guitar work, and "Attic" drums, post-rock styled guitar and even some quiet screamed vocals giving it an icy black metal undertone. Synthesizers and keyboards are the main instruments, virtual or real. The other tracks are called "Canteen", "Wardrope", "Cupboard" and "Collider", so I guess all the titles are from actual (or imaginary) places at Cern. I must say I'm not usually really a big fan of experimental ambient music, but Autumn of Paekward is an exception. I love the laid-back, cinematic mood of the album, and  there's even some koschmische krautrock vibes in there although the sonic landscape is very modern sounding with lots of computer effects & manipulation etc. It would be really cool to listen to this on your headphones while walking around at Cern! This is a rather trippy experience and I've been enjoying it a lot. Check this album out!

torstai 15. syyskuuta 2016

Hotlist September

This is the hottest stuff right now at Astral Zone:

Cult Of Dom Keller – Goodbye To The Light LP
Manilla Road – Dreams Of Eschaton 2LP
Vibravoid – In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida 7"
Camera - Phantom of Liberty LP + CD
Farflung - 5 LP
Circle – 6000 km/h Part 2 LP
V/A – Kraftwerk? Ja Bitte! LP
Minami Deutsch - S/T LP
Pharaoh Overlord – #1 2LP
Saturnia ‎– The Real High LP

torstai 8. syyskuuta 2016

Megaritual - Mantra Music

White Dwarf (WHD06)

Megaritual is a solo project by multi-instrumentalist Dale Walker who is also a member of a psychedelic stoner rock band called Sun of Man. Megaritual has released two digital download solo EP's on Bandcamp, and this LP compiles most of both Mantra Music I and Mantra Music II and I must say I enjoy it very much. The first thing that came to my mind when I put the LP on was the brilliant Lamp of the Universe from New Zealand, another solo project from the same area. Like Craig Williamson, Dale uses bass, guitars, drums, sitar and dreamy vocals to create hypnotic, mantra-like psychedelic soundscapes that you can easily get lost in. Also the lyrics are of the cosmic, esoteric and Eastern / Hindu variety, so I would be very surpriced if Dale is not a LotU fan. Okay, there are lots of similarities, but when Craig leaves the heaviest, doomiest stuff for his other project band Arc of Ascent, Dale also incorporates that into Megaritual making it more varied in intensity. Craig of course uses a much more varied instrumentation including also synthesizers, which is another big difference.

Megaritual gets really HEAVY at times, and I'm sure fans of Om or even Sleep will like this too. Samsara Blues Experiment also comes to mind. But even when the going gets doomy and heavy, you can usually also hear the acoustic guitar or sitar in the background. The album includes eight tracks recorded in between 2014 and 2015, and I got to say I love them all. The shortest is the drone-like opener "Is the Heart of the Mystery" at under two minutes, and the longest the majestetic and magical "Tatt Tvam Asi" (8:23). Most of the album is pretty slow, trance-inducing and hypnotic, but the last instrumental track "Have You Seen The Sky Lately" is faster, and somehow celebratory, happier stuff with also some cool psych sounds. I get the feeling an Indian wedding party went crazy after somebody spiked the traditional wedding cake... Superb! This album is released in limited edition of only 300 copies on cool blue marbled vinyl and comes with a download code. Highly recommended! I hope there will be more (vinyl) releases by Megaritual soon.

keskiviikko 7. syyskuuta 2016

Baby Woodrose - Freedom

Bad Afro Records (AFROLP/CD050)

I've been a fan of Danish psychedelic garage rock band Baby Woodrose from the very beginning, and even before that I digged the main man Lorenzo Woodrose's previous band On Trial. He has also been part of several other band projects like Spids Nøgenhat and Dragontears, and I love it all. Baby Woodrose still seems like his main vehichle for creating and releasing music, although there was a four-year break for a new album after the previous mind-blowing masterpiece Third Eye Surgery put out in 2012. Freedom was recorded and mixed on tape to give it a full-analogue vibe and it does sound amazing. The album concept deals with "mind control, brainwash, hamster wheels, slavely and oppression", some of the darker aspects of our culture that affect as all. The whole idea came from an old gospel / slave song "Freedom" that the band had been playing around for a year or so. You might know this song for the Richie Havens version played at Woodstock in 1969.

Several songs on the new album sound quite a lot like the more stoner rock oriented On Trial, like the heavy rocking opener "Reality". Excellent! "21st Century Slave" sounds more like a standard (but great!) Baby Woodrose song with strong 60s garage psych vibes and excellent melodies. The pounding "Open Doors" was the first video track of the album and I can see why, it has a lot of potential with excellent chorus and I like it a lot. Just check out the video! "Mind Control Machine" starts off with some space sounds and then the heavy stoner rocking begins, wow! Another On Trial sounding song, and why the hell not. Some cool guitar soloing on this one as well. "Peace" is the pretty and melancholic acoustic track of the album, very nice and touching. Baby Woodrose's cover version of "Freedom" rocks pretty hard and once again I'm reminded of On Trial. Great! Another cover follows: "Red The Signpost" originally by the late 60s psychedelic freaks Fifty Foot Hose! I love what they have done to this great tune, it's very psychedelic and fuzzy and really rocks out! "Mantra" is a slower, beautiful and atmospheric song with a rather powerful chorus. As usual, the album is finished with a long, trippy track and this time its the hypnotic, eight-minute "Termination" that takes us into the spheres. Lots of mind-altering effects on this one, what a great way to end an amazing album! If you were fast enough, you could pre-order the first limited edition black vinyl with an exclusive 7", can't wait to receive my vinyl copy... This is definitely one of the best releases this year.

lauantai 3. syyskuuta 2016

Woodrue - Low on Luck

KRH Records

Woodrue is a Helsinki based psychedelic horror doom/sludge/hardcore band that has been around for some years now. I was lucky to get their first tape Bones, Bile and Black Blood from the band in 2011 and have baan a fan ever since. After the split LP with their even smokier friends Semtex released in 2014 the band has dropped the second guitar player and is just a trio but that has not slowed them down (pun not intended) or made them any less heavy and skull-crushing. Low on Luck released on highly limited vinyl is essentially their debut album, and the boys have every right to be proud of it.

There are just five tracks on the album. Most of the down-tuned, heavily distorted music is pretty slow and groovy, but they also go into hardcore styled fast and energetic bursts from time to time and I like it. I got to say that I don't listen to sludge that much at home, although I do enjoy its harsh energy live, so I can't think of any bands to compare, but even the good old Carnivore comes to mind at times, especially during the faster parts. They say on their Facebook page that they are inspired by Robert Johnson and Black Sabbath. The tracks are well constructed and varied enough and they are not just repeating one simple riff on and on like some bands do. They know how to write killer riffs and the playing and powerful, rough vocals are great. I really enjoy when bands like this also play cool guitar solos, since that gives the music more scope and feel. There are also some spoken samples on a few songs. The overal vibe of the album is pretty dark and hopeless, so don't expect any happy hippie stuff here. Somehow the unbelievable groove still manages to make a grin on your face from time to time, even though the message is very gloomy and black. I really can't name favourite songs from the album, I like them all. The title track ends the album in an extremely heavy and depressive mode and is also the longest piece at almost eleven-minute. Really heavy shit!

Astral Visions #68 now online @ Mixcloud

Check out my latest psychedelic podcast with cool tracks by by Melody Fields, Suns of Thyme, Morgan Delt, Psychic Lemon, Minami Deutsch / 南ドイツ, Camera, Saturnia, The Luck of Eden Hall, monkey3, Baby Woodrose, Radio Moscow, Tombstoned, Blown Out, Adama, Sir Robin & The Longbowmen, Electric Orange & Acid Mothers Temple Official. Fly high and enjoy the ride!

Radio Moscow - Live! In California

Alive Records ‎(0183-1) 

Radio Moscow is an American psychedelic hard rock/blues band formed in Story City, Iowa, in 2003. They have released several studio albums, latest being Magical Dirt in 2014. One cool release that they are also featured is the three-way split album with Earthless and Premonition 13 put out in 2012. I have not heard all their stuff, but I'm often reminded of late 60s /early 70s U.S. hard rock/blues bands like Blue Cheer and especially on this new live album they also sound a bit like Jimi Hendrix Experience or Cream when they jam out. The power trio line-up works perfectly and the guitarist also does the singing job very well.

This 2LP / CD recorded at the Satellite Club in 2013 has 14 tracks and lasts for 75 minutes. The sound is excellent and the band in superb form. The performance is so powerful that when you close your eyes you almost feel like you are experiencing the band live right now! These guys play together so tightly and really rock out. I usually prefer the fast and energetic tracks like "I Don't Need Anybody", but it's nice to have some slower, bluesy songs in the middle to give some balance and time to breathe. It's cool to hear some audience reactions as well, and they seem to be really into it too! The guitar solos feel like they could rip your head off, and the rhythm section is also on fire. The extended jam sections bring to mind their buddies Earthless, which is never a bad thing. I'm not going to go through the individual tracks here, let's just say that if you are into wild, bluesy vintage style hard rock you definitely need to check this album out.

keskiviikko 31. elokuuta 2016

Candlemass - Death Thy Lover

Napalm Records ‎– NPR 640 DP 

Swedish epic doom metal giants Candlemass used to be one of my favourite bands in the late 80s and albums like Epicus Doomicus Metallicus, Nightfall and Ancient Dreams are still very dear to me. After Chapter IV put out in 1992 they stopped for several years and after their reunion, re-reunion etc. they have only been marginally interesting in my books. I still go see them if I can (who ever the singer is) and check out their new stuff, but that's about it. Anyway, the founder member, bassist Leif Edling still knows how to write heavy, gloomy tunes even though I think he doesn't play in the live band anymore. In 2016 they celebrate the 30th birthday of the band with this four-track EP that doesn't actually sound bad at all.

The title track starts off the EP and presents the band in their faster heavy metal mode. It rocks and even has a catchy chorus! "Sleeping Giant" is a mid-tempo riff monster that also works really well. The slower and doomier "Sinister and Sweet" even brings back memories of the 80s Candlemass vibes with it's more peaceful, beautiful passages as well as the ultra heavy riffs. The last, instrumental track "The Goose" is even slower, dark and gloomy, rather Ancient Dreams in style as a matter in fact. This is a very fine EP with great production, good, solid songs, melancholic moods, marvelous heavy riffs, majestic guitar solos and great vocals, what else could a doom metal fan wish for?

Suns of Thyme - Cascades

Napalm Records (NPR 662)

"Krautgaze" band Suns of Thyme from Berlin have released their second LP earlier this year, so I'm a bit late again. I liked several songs on their 2013 debut Fortune, Shelter, Love and Cure (especially the hypnotic "Soma (God For Gods)" and "Asato Maa", check them out!), but some tracks just were a bit too mainstream for me and not really interesting. Cascades has the same problem, it's partly some sort of psychedelic rock, but then they sound more like U2, Depeche Mode or The Cure or something, that also goes for the vocals. Never that bad, I must admit, but just not very mind-blowing or exciting for me. Also the guitar sound is too much the same with lots of stereo chorus of something all the time. They do get a bit experimental for example on the short, peaceful instrumental "To Vanish" and Oriental & mystical on another one called "The Field" and have some great melodies and stuff, but this album just doesn't do it for me, sorry guys.