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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.