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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!