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perjantai 31. maaliskuuta 2017

Soft Power - S/T 7"


 Soft Power is a Helsinki-based psychedelic prog/jazz/folk/rock band who have been playing together about five years now. I've seen them live a few times and have enjoyed myself very much. I have not heard their limited tape from 2015, but this single released late last year is just wonderful. The A side "Sleeping City" is a heady, hypnotic and dreamy mid-tempo pop/rock song somewhere in between Velvet Underground, and Spacemen 3. The vocals are rather low in the mix but still audible, and the sitar played by Jaire Pätäri from Octopus Syng adds more trippy, Eastern vibes. Great song and very well produced as well!

The instrumental "Morning Mist" is rather different in style and brings to mind late 60s/early 70s Scandinavian jazzy progressive rock bands. It also includes electric piano and sax adding very nice, laid-back and sunny atmospheres. Cool! There are two different versions of this single, both highly limited. The marbled orange vinyl with hand-made textured cover is limited to just 50 copies and already sold-out, but you can still order the "standard" black vinyl edition (100 copies) from the band's Bandcamp site. Recommended!

sunnuntai 26. maaliskuuta 2017

Sendelica - Nite Flights 7"

Fruits de Mer Records (crustacean 76)

You never know what kind of stuff Sendelica will cover next... They've done at least Velvet Underground, Funkadelic, Donna Summer, David Bowie and Hawkwind before and now it was time for "Nite Flight" by The Walker Brothers!  The track is from their 1978 album with the same name and this was during their art rock / disco phase so don't expect any 60s stuff. Sendelica of course makes the track much more spacy and heavier and the female vocals work also splendidly. This is actually a really good, groovy space rock version! On the B-side there is another, extended version of the track: "Nite Flights (Astralasia's Tabla Mix)" and you know that things will get more psychedelic here... I'm really happy that Marc from Astralasia is working with Fruits de Mer these days and I always enjoy his mixes as well as his original music of course. This instrumental mix is excellent and complements the vocal version on side A. There are two different colours of this 7" on purple and clear purple vinyl and both versions include three postcards with alternative cover designs that were not used. Superb!

Us And Them ‎– Fading Within The Dwindling Sun 10"

Fruits de Mer Records (crustacean 75)

Okay, this beautiful 10" was released alredy in December but unfortunately I've been too busy to review it before. This excellent psych folk duo from Stockholm, Sweden have released two albums and eight singles & EP's but this is their first release in the very cool 10" vinyl format. Keith from Fruits de Mer got the lovely couple of Britt and Anders convinced that it would be a good idea for them to record five folk rock songs sung by his favourite singer Sandy Denny. Some of you might remember her from bands like Fotheringay, Fairport Convention or Strawbs and her career ended in 1978 when she died tragically at the age of 31. In addition to Britt's brilliant voice and the exquisite guitars, keyboards and electronics of Anders the recordings also include Tony Swettenham on Mellotron. Now, you already know the potential of this collaboration from the brilliant Summerisle EP from 2011 and they work together like magic this time as well. I got to say the end results do sound amazing!

The 10" starts with Denny's beautiful and melancholic "Winter Winds" originally recorded by Fotheringay in 1970 and I'm loving it. "Farewell, Farewell" is next and this very touching Fairport Convention song fits perfectly for Us and Them as well. Just wonderful. "Next Time Around" is a slow and somehow mysterious sounding song that was originally released on Denny's second solo album in 1971. Us and Them's spell-bounding version is almost two minutes longer than the original and really gets under your skin in a good way. On the B-side we first got the almost nine-minute version of the traditional "Banks of the Nile" and I really enjoy the fragile, emotional vibes on this one. Later on there are also some male vocals by Anders. Lots of Mellotron on this one! The 10" is finished with the two-minute folk piece "Take Away the Load" (recorded by Fairport Convention as "Sandy's Song") and it's a pretty, a bit more positive way to end this brilliant release. There are 700 copies of this beauty on orange vinyl and also 200 on white. Go and get yourself a copy!

lauantai 25. maaliskuuta 2017

Albinö Rhino - Upholder


 This excellent Finnish psychedelic stoner doom metal band continues on their second full-length exactly where they finished on their eponymous 2014 debut. The last song of their first album was "Uphold the Light Part 1" and the second album includes just two long tracks, "Uphold the Light Part 2" and "Uphold the Light Part 3". Using just guitar, bass, drums and a little bit of mantra-like vocals this trio creates a hypnotic, sometimes heavy, sometimes atmospheric groove that just takes you away and blows your mind. Looking at their green album covers you get the feeling that they are strongly influenced by the wild but beutiful Finnish nature and there is almost like a spiritual vibe in there as well.

The first, slow track is very repetative and hypnotic and mostly based on just one simple riff, but they make subtle progression and breathe life into it so that things keep interesting. Most of the track is instrumental, and at its heaviest it sounds a bit like Sleep but there is mush more in there as well. Great! Totally instrumental Part 3 is faster going and the addition of Dr. Space from Øresund Space Collective on spacey analogue synthesizers makes it sound almost like heavy space rock! Well I'm not complaining since this happens to be my favourite music genre if there ever was one. Dr. Space fits in perfectly and makes a whole lot difference making this a very pychedelic track. The motorik guitar/bass/drums stoner groove in itself is already very uplifting and makes you want to boogie. There is also a slower doom part with clear Black Sabbath vibes and I'm loving it. Towards the end they sound more like Kingston Wall which is great as well. Albinö Rhino is definitely one of the best bands in the Finnish psychedelic stoner/doom scene and also worth experiencing live. Try also to find a copy of their very limited edition split LP with Morbid Evils, it kicks ass.

Sendelica - Sleepwalker Fever Soundtrack / Lilacs Out of the Deadlands

Frg Records / Sunhair Records

Our Welsh psychedelic space rock friends Sendelica have been busy again. Late in 2016 they released a limited 2CD/DVD live set to celebrate their 10-year career and in February came out their first picture disc LP Sleepwalker Fever Soundtrack. The wonderful, atmospheric and dreamy music on this disc was produced in 2007 for Grant Wakefield's movie with the same name and released only as a special tin box edition limited to just 50 copies. The band was then only in its early stages but the soundtrack really sounds and looks amazing. "Return of the Maggot Brain" of course more or less is a psychedelized cover of the beautiful Funkadelic masterpiece that the band also later recorded for their first Fruits de Mer 7" in 2010. Just close your eyes and float away... "To Create Is Divine" is another amazing, floating ambient piece that somehow transports you into a hazy dreamland. Later we also get some dub vibes and mellow, jazzy saxophone to make the journey just perfect. Another ten minutes gone in a lovely dream state..."Mr. Floyd Walker" is divided into two parts for the vinyl release, and it's a strange, trippy drone collage of different sounds, spoken word and soft guitar. The second part also includes some electronic beat. "Possessor of Your Heart" is a rather experimental piece with electronics, synthesizers and sax. "Sun of Sunfazed" is a more melodic and "normal" track that they later did again in a shorter form for Spaceman Bubblegum CD as "Sunfazed". It has nice guitar, soft bass and soulful sax with relaxed programmed drums and ends the album in a great way. Get this limited (300 copies) edition soon if you want a copy! Also available as a test pressing (sold out) and box version limited to just 75 copies that also includes a t-shirt, DVD, poster and postcards. What an amazing set I tell you!

 Lilacs Out of the Deadlands is the band's brand-new 2LP that will be out on the 15th of April. The band descibes it as their yin/yang album, since it has two long, floating and ambient tracks on the first album and shorter, heavier, space rocking tracks on the other. Personally I love both of those Sendelica modes so this is a perfect combination for me! Both LP's also feature quest musicians as usually is the case with Sendelica. The chilled-out "yin" LP has tracks called "Occhiolism" and "Onism" and both last ove twenty minutes. I love the female voice on the very visionary, dreamy and wonderful "Occhiolism" and the equally drugged-out and hazy instrumental "Onism" has some very nice saxophone. Sounds like this one was totally improvized. The second album starts with the heavy and slowly pounding rocker called "Kenopsia". One of the band's heaviest tracks I guess! I just love Pete's guitar work as well as the sax. "Father Todd and His Official Faustian Bargaining Kit" rock faster and has s nice groove to it, I love it! "Not the Time for Salads" is the shortest track at 4:46 and another groovy and pretty heavy instrumental space rocker. The theremin adds spacey vibes in a cool way. "Staring at the Fainting Goats" is a rather energetic jam with doouble drummers that lasts for over ten minutes. The guys go pretty wild somewere along the way... The album is finished with another long and hard-rocking piece called "Dancing to Dante's Inferno" that reminds me of Hawkwind a bit. Never a bad thing in my books, of course! All in all, this is a marvellous, mostly instrumental album that's very psychedelic, half laid-back/half rocking and only the short, more song-structured tracks with proper vocals that the fans have heard on the couple of latest sudio albums are missing. There are three different, limited versions available and I recommend you to pre-order right away so that you won't miss out.

Please also note that the band will be on tour next month also playing three dates in Finland on 27.-29.4.! See you there...

tiistai 21. maaliskuuta 2017

Knall - Raubkatze Auf 12 Uhr

Tonzonen Records (TON 024)

I just got to know Knall last year when I reviewed their live album, but this German experimental band of guitar, bass, spacebass and drums has stayed together at least around 15 years by now. This pretty, pink marbled 2LP comes in cool psychedelic open gatefold cover and is limited to 500 copies, and not on CD at the moment, it seems. The band is labelled as space/kraut/psych/acid rock but they also have other dimensions like funk and ambient.

All the four sides of this new album include two instrumental jams and I think all of the music is totally improvised in the moment it was recorded. Sometimes the overall vibe is chilled out and peaceful like on beginning of the 11-minute opener "Raubkatze", but at times the band gets more intense and freak-out for a while as you will hear towards the end of the first track already. My favourite tracks include the hypnotic and upbeat "Derwisch" that keeps your mind spinning for over seven minutes. The longest piece is the 15-minute "Fell" that is a bit funkier, groovier piece. "Sightseeing" includes some of the most exciting and intense guitar work on the album. "Seaweed", on the other hand, is way more progressive and even a bit jazzy. "Catwalk" is a pretty weird number and the last piece "Lachs" has more cool psychedelic space effects as well as melody than some other tracks and is one of the highlights for me. This is experimental and weird stuff for sure but not really THAT psychedelic in my mind. The 2LP edition limited to 500 copies also includes a nice poster and sticker so go and get it!

lauantai 11. maaliskuuta 2017

Sounds of New Soma - La Grande Bellezza

Tonzonen Records (TON 023)

I've really been enjoying the two first albums by German neo-krautrock duo Sounds of New Soma. Their highly psychedelic, kosmische soundscapes never fail to get you into "the zone". SONS is formed by Tonzonen label boss Dirk Raupach (synthesizer/effects/vocals) and Alexander Djelassi (guitar/bass/synthesizer/effects/vocal) and on this third trip of theirs they are accompanied by guest musicians Armin Schopper (drums) and Andreas Lessenich (saxophone) to give the album some more texture and dimension.

The album starts off with the excellent "Bundesgartenschau '71" and the guest drummer really makes a difference here. This is a really hypnotic, enjoyable instrumental ride straight into the heart of the cosmos. I'm sure all fans of krautrock old and new will enjoy it. The shorter, experimental "Der Grüne Pilz" just has some effected narration in German and little bit of occasional drum sounds. Weird! "Einheit des Lichtes" is a ten-minute ambient sequencer journey in the vein of Tangerine Dream or Klaus Schulze, and on "Garten des Lichtes" the trip goes on but gets even more cosmic and far-out. Deep, trippy vibes! "Das Weiße Rausche" gets more experimental and even a bit scary. Starting off with some field-recordings that remain in the mix "Spandau" is a jazzy, groovy and funky instrumental also including drums and sax. Very nice way to end the first album of this 2LP set!

"Wahn" is a very hypnotic, brain-melting piece with spacey guitar sounds, synths and sequencers as well as some cymbal and manipulated human voice. Strange and effective! On "Schwurbel" and "Schönheit" the vibe is more relaxed and laid-back, phew. The more motorik, monotonic krautrock style of the first track returns on the ten-minute "Wurmloch" that I like a lot too. The album is finished with the beuatiful and melencholic "Duftnote" in a very pleasant manner. Some of the SONS stuff reminds me a bit of another superb neo-kraut act Electic Orange but they still definitely have a sound and style of their own. All in all, this is a marvellous 78-minute set of cosmic, mostly ambient and trippy soundscapes that you really should listen to if you want to chill out and escpace to a whole different universe for a while. The album is available on limited CD (300 copies) and two different 2LP editions both in brilliant gatefold cover. The special 2LP edition also comes with an extra sprayed cover that includes signed inlay, very cool 12-page booklet, poster and download code. Warmly recommeded!

Cholo Visceral - Vol. II

Tonzonen Records (TON 021)

Cholo Visceral is a progressive psych rock band from Lima, Peru, and as you might have guessed this is their second album. Vol. II was released last year and followed the self-titled debut put out in 2013. I was immediately reminded of early Gong when I first put the album on. Just listen to the wildy progressive and suitably spacey 12-minute opener "Explosión del Misti". The use of saxophone is of course partly the reason, but the music has lots of similarities except it's mostly instrumental so no pot-head silliness here as such. Having said that, there is also more in the mix. I think I can hear some Zappa influnces (for example on the pretty experimental and weird "Cholo Visceral") and "Jarjacha" is mostly acoustic with some nice vocals in Spanish. "10 Anos de Terror" has some pretty oppressive King Crimson vibes and a cool, groovy beat at one point. The last, ambient track "El Paso Entre las Lomas" is almost like musique concrete. All in all, this is a very interesting, varied and highly proggresive 2LP with mostly long tracks full of great ideas and musicianship and enough psychedelic elements to keep the spaceheads happy as well. I'd still mostly recommend this to the prog rock fans. Check it out!

keskiviikko 8. maaliskuuta 2017

Astral Visions #71 now online for your aural pleasures!

1 Zukunft (from Invocation and Ritual Dance of My Demon Brother) by Julie's Haircut
2 The Death Set (from Occult Architevture Vol. 1) by Moon Duo
3 Aurora (edit, from S/T) by Lamagaia
4 Trick of the Mind (from Stop Mute Defeat) by White Hills
5 Sinister Waters II (from Ruination) by KAIRON; Irse
6 There Used to Be a Darkness (from Amen 2) by Mikko Joensuu
7 Reach (from Eternal Hayden) by PH (Mr. Peter Hayden)
8 OutsideOfInTime (from Zen Bastard) by Earthling Society
9 Rayuela / Night Flower Codex (edit, from Wudkamrater split) by The Myrrors
10 The Misunderstood (from The Sorrows That Refuse To Drown) by Jesters of Destiny
11 Dave's War (from Tao of All Evil) by Brant Bjork
12 Glow11 (live, from Mela Ananda - Live) by My Sleeping Karma
13 Sugar Hills (edit, from Mal Du Siècle) by Hisko Detria
14 Deep Snow II (from Chalice Hymnal) by Grails

Available over here: