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Aural Innovations
(Staff Picks for Best of 2010)

So here we go with our annual round up of the best from the previous year. 2010 saw the release of a lot of great albums in the space rock/psychedelic genre, including a great new album from the most seminal of all space rock bands, Hawkwind. I put no rules on this, so each writer has their own interpretation of how to do this. Let the lists begin…Jeff Fitzgerald (AI Editor)

Jeff Fitzgerald

15. Gnod/White Hills - Gnod Drop Out with White Hills II
* I liked White Hills' self-titled release of this year, but as mentioned in my review, I had some issues with it. White Hills collaboration with Gnod however struck a great note with me. Nice Krautrockin' grooves and spacey atmospheres.

14. Void Generator - Phantom Hell and Solar Angelic
* It has just four epic, heavy tracks, and when I'm in a heavy mood, this one is a great listen.

13. Mushroom - Naked, Stoned and Stabbed
* Honestly? Not one of their best albums, but anything by Mushroom is heads above most of the stuff out there. I preferred some of the unreleased live recordings from this period and thought they would have made a great album though. Still, this one has a trippy, folksy vibe and is a great one for chillaxin'.

12. Harvey Bainbridge - Dreams, Omens & Strange Encounters
* It was a bit of a surprise to see this from Harvey, but what a great album! It has that classic Tangerine Dream feel to it, with long, spacey sequence-driven tracks, but Harvey updates the sound bringing it beautifully into the 21st century.

11. Hawkwind - Blood of the Earth
* I know, some people have said 'bah, nothing new', but I thoroughly enjoyed this new album from the Hawks. It rocks and it's spacey…what more could you want from space rock?

10. Serpentina Satelite - Mecanica Celeste
* This is totally mind-blowing, hallucinogenic space rock. Wow, this album blew me away. But it can be a little exhausting to listen to.

9. Citay - Dream Get Together
* This is the third album from this San Francisco band with ties to Mushroom. It's a great psychedelic folk/pop album with layered guitars, harmonies (in both vocals and guitars), and some freaky bits. It's wonderful, inventive and highly listenable stuff.

8. Omenopus - Time Flies
* This is Bridget Wishart's new band. I've always been a fan of Bridget and thought her contributions to Hawkwind were terribly underrated. This awesome album has a bit of everything including, yes, some epic space rock.

7. Glass - The Spectrum Principle
* Possibly the best studio release from these guys yet, it finds a perfect balance between the experimental/improvisational and the composed. It's lush, colourful and cinematic at times, dark and spooky at others.

6. Sendelica - Streamedelica She Sighed As She Hit Rewind on the Dream Mangler Remote
* This is a dazzling freakout of an album from this Welsh group. It's hard to describe in just a few words, but it's totally psychedelic and rocks like nobody's business.

5. Hills - 's/t'
* If you like your music with weird sound effects, Krautrock style rhythms, trippy flutes, and heavily delayed guitar freakouts, this is your album, man.

4. Nick Riff - Photon Shift
* This is a spectacular effort from Nick, largely due to his great song writing. It's emotional, beautiful psychedelic music and space rock with lots of variety in sound and feel.

3. Phoresis - Letters to Canberra
* This one seemingly came out of nowhere. Sure, the vocals are occasionally too "sweet" for this kind of music, but at other times they sound great. And besides, two thirds of the album is instrumental anyway. This is just outstanding space rock with an overall mellow vibe, lots of acoustic guitars and analog synths. It falls somewhere between Light Dreams and The Melodic Energy Commission.

2. Samsara Blues Experiment - Long Distance Trip
* Killer album of some of the most psychedelic stoner rock I've ever heard. Great long songs, way out there vibe and some spectacular guitar work. This is one album that lives up to its name.

1. Beyond-O-Matic - Time To Get Up
* It's too bad that my favourite (and most played) album of the year comes from a band that no longer exists. Recorded in 2003/2004, Time To Get Up is a feast for the psychedelic mind. Maybe it's time for Beyond-O-Matic to get up and get themselves together again?

A Few Honourable Mentions

Osiris: The Rebirth - Remnants of Life…released in December of 2009, I didn't get my ears on it till 2010. So while technically not a 2010 release, it was one of my most played albums of the year.

The Pocket Gods - Pondfield Soltice…a confusing release history on this one, I found release dates for both 2009 and 2010, and Scott Heller did a review of it in AI as early as 2005 (though at the time the artist had not found a label). Still, it's got some great grooving, long form space rock and weird, hallucinogenic folk excursions. Well worth a listen.

The Black Keys - Brothers…more of a mainstream release that doesn't really fall under the Aural Innovations umbrella, but this duo really gives some new life to the blues. It's fresh, original stuff, not to mention having some great catchy songs.

Scott Heller

Dzjenghis Khan- Hej you LP (US)
Brant Bjork- God and Goddesses LP (US)
Motorpsycho- Heavy Metal Fruit 2LP (Norway)
Numbah Ten- Reborn in 3D CD (Sweden)
Samsara Blues Experiment- Long Distance Trip LP (Germany)
Church of Misery- Early Works 3LP (Japan)
Hawkwind Triad- Harvestman-Minsk-US Christmas (US)
Widespread Panic- Dirty Side Down 2LP (US)
My Brother the Wind- Twlight in the Crystal Cabinet CD (Sweden)
Void Generator- Phantom Hell and the Soar Angelic CD (Italy)
Serpentina Satelite- Mecanica Celeste LP (Peru)
Hawkwind- Blood of the Earth 2LP (UK)
Dragontears- Tune in Tune out Fuck off LP + 7" (Denmark)
Wino- Adrift LP (US)
Øresund Space Collective- Slip into the Vortex CD (Denmark-Sweden)

Chuck Rosenburg

1.Sonic Arcana - Past Echoes
2.ST 37 - High & Inside
3.Liars - Sisterworld
4.White Hills - ST'd
5.Causa Sui - Summer Sessions Vol 1-3
6.Gunslingers - Manifesto Zero
7.Rollerball - Two Feathers

(released in 2008/2009, acquired this year):
8.Amorphous Androgynous - A Monstrous Psychedelic Bubble Vol. 1 & 2
9.The Orb - Baghdad Batteries

(Oldies Discovered This Year):
11.Sun City Girls

('90s Albums "Reacquired" This Year):
12.Word of Life - Further Ahead
13.Vibrasonic - ST'd
14.Dead Flowers - Altered State Circus
15.Mushroom - Hydrogen Jukebox

Charles Van de Kree

1. Gunter Schickert--Samtvogel (Re-issue)
2. Terje Rypdal--Crime Scene
3. Sendelica--Streamedelica She Sighed as She Hit Rewind on the Dream Mangler Remote
4. Tangle Edge--In Search of a New Dawn (Re-issue)
5. Tangle Edge--Eulogy
6. Hawkwind--Blood of the Earth
7. Steve Tibbetts--Natural Causes
8. O-Head--Dreamstate Circus
9. Klaus Schulze--La Vie Electronique, Vol.5
10. Klaus Schulze--La Vie Electronique, Vol.6

Christian Mumford (in NO particular order)

Hawkwind - Blood Of The Earth
The Legendary Pink Dots - Seconds Late For The Brighton Line
Lloyd Langton Group - Hard Graft
Øresund Space COllective - Slip Into The Vortex
The Smell Of Incense - A Curious Miscellany [compilation]
Monster Magnet - Mastermind
Farflung - Live At Roadburn 2009
U.S. Christmas - Run Thick In The Night
Cathedral - The Guessing Game
Krankschaft - Live Sonic Rock Solstice 2010
Spirits Burning - Crazy Fluid
ST 37 - High And Inside
Swans - My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky
Iron Maiden - The Final Frontier
Savage Republic - Procession: An Aural History 1981-2010

Jerry Kranitz (in NO particular order)

Stone Oak Cosmonaut - Into the Multiverse
* Dutch trio doing killer spaced out stoned METAL. If you like your space rock HEAVY you must check these guys out.

Øresund Space Collective - Slip into the Vortex
* One of the best improvizational space rock units out there. If you like all instrumental space rock and long jams, these guys are hot. AND they don't repeat themselves from one album to the next.

Hawkwind - Blood of the Earth
* By no means one of the best albums of 2010, but certainly the best Hawkwind have released in some time and got quite a lot of airplay on my stereo. Nothing ground breaking here, but I like it.

Huw Lloyd-Langton's LLG - Hard Graft
* Hand downs, this is one of the most beautiful examples of song and guitar-craft this year. Hawkwind repeat themselves. Huw moves forward.

Psi Corps - All Roads Lead to Amber: Parts I & II
* Alisa Coral is, in my opinion, one of the key people on the space rock scene that are keeping the music exciting by taking it in different directions. This album is all the more of a treat due to Alisa's collaboration with Charles van de Kree (Jet Jaguar). The album gets extra kudos for inspiring me to read the books it's based on.

Vespero - By The Waters Of Tomorrow
* This Russian band have several albums out now and keep getting better all the time. Check them out.

Mooch - The Pagan Year
* Thanks to AmbientLive there has been a steady output of albums from Mooch, plus Stephen Palmer solo albums and his Blue Lily Commission side project. ALL well worth checking out, but this is the one that got the most play on my stereo this year.

Beyond-O-Matic - Time To Get Up
* The music isn't new but it only saw the light of day in 2010. These guys put a different spin on space rock. Great stuff.

Ohead - "Dreamstate Circus"
* Outstanding electronic driven space rock but also more rockin' Hawkwind inspired stuff too. David "Ohead" Hendry has a catalog of several excellent albums but this is my favorite to date.

Stone Premonitions 2010 - "The Clowning Achievement"
* The latest from the Stone Premonitions collective is basically Census of Hallucinations + David "Ohead" Hendry, which proves to be a MAGICAL collaboration!

Serpentina Satelite - Mecanica Celeste
* Heavy and totally hallucinogenic space rock from Peru. They've got two killer albums under their belts now. A MUST check out band.

White Hills - self-titled
* If you like your space rock molten lava heavy and leaves your brain completely fried... this is ones of THE albums of 2010 to get.

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