Archive for February 29, 2012

Sungrazer – “Mirador” (Electrohasch Records 2011, EH 150)

This is the second album from this Dutch trio of Rutger Smeets (guitar and vocals), Hans Mulders (drums) and Sander Haagmans (bass and vocals). I gotta say, these guys have really perfected the “heavy/mellow” vibe. Combining floating vocal harmonies with slow grooves and heavy riffs, they create a sound reminiscent of Colour Haze and early Queens of the Stone Age, which is thoroughly in play in the laidback opener Wild Goose and the dreamy closer 34 & more… But in between, they take things in their own direction, whether it’s the bluesy plunder of Goldstrike or the blistering instrumental rock of Octo, their songs are filled with hypnotic rhythms and clever riffing.

They are not at all afraid of pushing the psych and space envelopes either. The epic 14-minute long Behind, in particular, is a tour-de-force with its languid, mesmerizing grooves, swirling psychedelic phrasing and druggy vocal harmonies; a slow burning voyage, metamorphosing into a trippy jam that spirals through spacey mellow outs to deliciously fuzzed out intense dream bliss. Tasty stuff!

The title track even veers into clear spacerock territory with its wild wooshes of guitar noise and the underlying spacey textures that permeate the distorted jamming. One of the things I really like about this band is their thorough willingness to pull things right back away from the stoner grooves and just get spacey for a bit. An excellent track for this is Sea, which dips into chilled waters throughout the middle of the piece.

While still retaining the strong Colour Haze influence from their first album, Sungrazer are maturing and starting to explore their own sonic realms, and it makes Mirador a potent, blissed out musical journey worth taking again and again.

For more info, visit:,, and

Reviewed by Jeff Fitzgerald

Sky Burial – “Aegri Somnia” (Utech Records 2011, URCD064)

Sky Burial is essentially one musician – Michael Page – that looks to have at least a half a dozen other CD titles out, and after experiencing Aegri Somnia I realize that I will likely want to seek out more of his work. Movement I – The Synaesthete’s Lament (40:15) is a lengthy journey of post-industrial deep-space ambient that only improves as it progresses and Nik Turner shows up twice throughout this epic playing the sax as only the co-founder of Hawkwind can do. Movement II – Within And Without (16:01) is a good electronic/ambient track that fully evolves into some quite enjoyable experimental sound. Page is a true visual and sound artist (in every sense of the word) who is currently living on Cape Cod. What initially drew me to this CD was the fact that Nik Turner does step in to give Michael Page a hand in creating this wonderful piece of music. But what made me want to play this disc a couple of times before I penned out this review was the masterful talent as well as the majestic playing of Sky Burial – aka Michael Page. Call it ambient, industrial experimental, indie, electronic ambient – call it whatever you like but this genre definitely manages to fully captivate you.

The CD comes housed in a four-way fold-out and that is enclosed in a two-way fold-over piece of artwork. If you want to seek out a physical copy of this CD, simply remember what its cover looks like from the provided image in this review. Should appeal to fans of Tangerine Dream, Nik Turner solo, Liquid Visions, Amon Duul, Cluster, SubArachnoid Space, Kinski and possibly Throbbing Gristle.

For more info, visit:,, and

Reviewed by Mike Reed

The Future Kings of England – “Who Is This Who Is Coming?” (Backwater Records 2012, OLKCD21)

Despite loving their first two albums, I can’t say I was as enamoured by The Future Kings of England’s third release, The Vanishing Point. Not sure why, but it just didn’t grab me. So it was with mild trepidation that I approached their latest disc, Who Is This Who Is Coming? But I was more than pleasantly surprised when listening to it; I was blown away by this terrific album.

Based on a creepy 1904 ghost story by M. R. James entitled “Oh, Whistle and I’ll Come to You My Lad”, Who Is This Who Is Coming? is a richly evocative tapestry of English folk balladry, ambient music, sound effects and of course, great progressive rock. Divided into parts, but intended to be listened to as one whole piece, the mostly instrumental album begins with a cheerful little folk melody set to the chirping of birds. However, it is quickly overwhelmed by the chugging roar and whistle of a rushing train as the band breaks into The Globe Inn, with its stately organ and intricate guitar melodies counterbalanced by ghostly passages of spooky wailing. Further, amidst the sounds of crickets and gentle night winds, soft acoustic guitar weaves a mesmerizing pattern in Finding the Whistle. The Watcher Part 1, one of two vocal tracks on the album is a poignant English folk ballad which leads the listener down the foggy path into the deeply ambient, swirling, sometimes disturbing textures of the nearly 10-minute long title track. This one’s a real tour-de-force as it whirls and spirals. It builds a slow and creeping tension till it all finally explodes with the shattering rock of Convinced Disbeliever. The Watcher Part 2 is hardly a reprise of Part 1, delving as it does into droning, psychedelic folk reminiscent of The Incredible String Band. What follows is another 10-minute epic, The Face of Crumpled Linen, this one covering many moods as it builds to a shattering revelation, before the denouement of Spectacle of a Scarecrow, filled with haunted memories and dreams.

The Future Kings of England capture the glory days of early 70’s progressive rock, but they manage to take it in entirely new, fresh and original directions. Within this context, Who Is This Who Is Coming? is a truly brilliant evocation of the M. R. James story, not only bringing the story to life, but bringing the landscape and folklore of the Suffolk region of England to life as well. This one is highly recommended!

For more information, visit: and

Reviewed by Jeff Fitzgerald

Space Debris – “Archive Vol. 3: Deepest View” (2011)

Following closely in the footsteps of their first two archival releases, Space Debris return with a third volume of live recordings and bits and pieces. Starting off in an unusually subdued mood, with moody acoustic piano, the 10-minute opening cut Mary-Joe-Anna nonetheless gets going eventually into another heavy jam from the band. The shorter Reprise of the Sun features some nice electric piano. Off course, throughout is the sterling organ work that is something of a signature sound for Space Debris, provided on some tracks by current keyboardist Winnie Rimbach-Sator and on others by former keyboardist Tom Kunkel. But let’s not forget the tight rhythm section of Peter Brettel (bass) and Christian Jäger (drums) and the endlessly creative guitar playing of Tommy Gorny. Those looking for trippy or spacey music won’t find much here (maybe dashes here and there, like the opening of Anima and the spacey drumfest of Astronaut Versus Kosmonaut). But for those looking for some top-notch, 70’s style instrumental rock with some bluesy/jazzy touches (diggin’ the last few minutes here of the 21-minute epic title track) will find plenty to love on Vol. 3. The bluesy stuff really comes out in the appropriately titled Blues; there’s some groovin’ Santana-style Latin jamming on Latrino Mortadella II, and even a bit of moody midnight soul music on the lovely Mynona. The band throw in a few really short tracks too, some fun little fragments like the trippy drum patter of the 27-second Namber Nein and the funky jam of the minute and a half long MoJoMe III. And there’s even the 11-second closing cut, Jerrys Aural Innovations, featuring our own starship captain Jerry Kranitz giving a bit of commentary that, like this collection, really sums up everything that Space Debris is all about.

For more information you can visit the Space Debris web site at:

Reviewed by Jeff Fitzgerald

Black Wyrm Seed – Self-titled CD-R (2011)

I got this CD-R and listened to it once – then I attempted to touch base with the band itself. After I never did hear back from them, I decided to give the disc a second listen and to check out their Myspace page to hopefully be able to scrap together enough information to give this disc a proper review. You get seven tracks – with a running time 38:25. Best described as mid-to-slow tempo psychedelic with a touch of the blues worked in. Black Wyrm Seed is based in Chicago and I saw noted that this CD-R was initially put out on cassette. Songs I liked best were Shadows Of Time (has some good lyrics, I thought), Goodbye, Blue Monday – sort of maybe reminds me of Syd Barrett, the two-and-a-half minute Sleeping Sickness, the seven-minute Walls Of Sodom and Broken Windowpane. A bit too low-key compared to what I prefer – yet don’t get me wrong it’s all still good. Line-up: Nathan M. Dodge – electric & acoustic guitars & vocals, Matthew Dodge – bass and Kurt Long – drums. I am not sure of just who I might compare Black Wyrm Seed to. But after spending a certain amount of time on their Myspace page, I found some notable bands and artists that might be similar or even somewhat similar to their music which are Dark Fog, OM, Plastic Crimewave Sound, Sleep and Heavy Water Experiments. This CD-R tends to sound better with each spin. Really liked their Myspace page.

For more info, visit: and

Reviewed by Mike Reed

Temple of the Smoke – “…Against Human Race” (R.A.I.G. 2011, R066)

Formed in Belgrade as recently as 2010, Serbian band Temple of the Smoke have released their debut album … Against Human Race on the Russian Association of Independent Genres label in 2011 (following the free download EP Consecration & Temple of the Smoke Big Band released earlier the same year). Such a nihilistic title may have been a factor in one reviewer commenting that the (pretty much) all-instrumental album “… indicates just how screwed up the world is”, while the band name brings to mind pure stoner rock, both giving premature warning of a bleak listen ahead. True, there is a certain amount of dark energy to be found on “… Against …” but there are also lighter shades and colours, as well as a multitude of influences beyond mere stone-age jamming. Comprising Dragan Mirkovic (drums, percussion and most excellent nom de rock), Dusan Zica (guitar, synthesizers, samples), Marko Ilic (bass) and Janko Strojanovic (guitar, voice), the band have obviously got their obligatory Hawkwind, Black Sabbath and Ozric Tentacles credentials sorted, but have also had an ear for less obvious influences – for example the heavy dub rhythm track and chukka-chukka guitars of Unnatural Recession brings to mind The Clash’s Guns Of Brixton.

Opening track Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator (nice title) comes out storming like Queens of the Stone Age riffing on a razor blade, before breaking down to just bass overlaid with soaring Edge-style guitar and bubbling synths. Following the dub-plated Unnatural Recession, the ten minute Naked Sun brings to the table a high energy yet melodic spacerock jam that is a perfect example of how to bring about sonic mood changes without resorting to the rather clichéd “loud bit/quiet bit” formula. Deadly Skies has a rather funereal opening but for sheer menace it pales in comparison to South of Heaven with its doom-laden Iommi-style riffage. This contrasts in turn with the reggae beats of Into the Storm with its (ironic?) sampled message that “citizens need to be armed to protect themselves from a tyrannical government”. Closing track Tortoise Du Mars is perhaps the most obvious nod to the space fusion sounds of Ozric Tentacles, until the roaring and distorted guitars emerge from their protective shell. Beyond this is about eight minutes of void, as if nobody had quite remembered the tape was still rolling – strange and perhaps a little anticlimactic to be waiting for a hidden track which doesn’t exist.

Taking many varied styles, Temple of the Smoke have managed admirably to weld and weave them into a thoroughly cohesive whole. Each individual track on its own is great; together, they present an epic sonic experience not to be missed for fans of psychedelic spacerock. If you think you don’t need to hear yet another album of instrumental stoner rock, you most definitely do need to hear … Against Human Race while it is still smokin’!

Temple Of The Smoke’s web-page can be found at
For more information on R.A.I.G., go to

Reviewed by Pat Albertson

Electric Orange – “Netto” (Sulatron Records 2011, ST 1102)

This year Electric Orange will be clocking up two decades of psychedelic experimentation, having been formed in 1992 by German musician Dirk Jan Muller. Muller, who plays all manner of vintage keyboards on Netto (including such mouth-watering gems as Mellotron, Minimoog, Farfisa and Hammond organ), was joined in 1994 by guitarist Dirk Bittner, and the current line-up is completed by bassist Tom Ruckwald and drummer Georg Monheim. Netto is the band’s eighth official studio album, recorded in August 2011 and released on Dave Schmidt’s Sulatron Records (home of Vibravoid and Electric Moon, amongst many other 21st century space cadets). Earlier albums (including 2010’s Krautrock From Hell) have received positive reviews in Aural Innovations, and Netto seems well-placed to continue in similar vein.

Netto features nine instrumental tracks, recorded live in the studio, and spread across just under 80 minutes, with not a minute wasted. Indeed there is almost a feeling of regret that some of the lengthy and epic tracks such as Fluff and Supptruppen do not go on even longer than their respective ten and thirteen minutes! Taken as a whole, the album contains a stunning array of moods, ranging from deeply melancholic to powerfully uplifting, sometimes capturing both extremes simultaneously. Most of the track titles are likely obscure for non-German speakers, and are in any case unimportant for an album which works beautifully as a complete work. This is not psychedelic rock of the stoner/guitar-jam variety, but rather atmospheric experimentalism placed somewhere between classic era Tangerine Dream, and early Verve shoegazing (the pulsing soundscapes served up by Scandinavians The Spacious Mind are a further musical touchstone). The guitars are certainly there in the mix, but not at the expense of the other instruments. Neither is this a place for flashy prog rock keyboard solos. Instead, each instrument weaves in and out of the others, making both band and album much more than merely the sums of the individual players’ parts. Perpetuum Mobiliar and Supptruppen are perhaps the most uptempo tracks, while set-closer Zeitheiser moves forward with glacial speed for much of its spell-binding fifteen minutes. By contrast, Basslochner is a concise three minute slice of tribal drums over spooky effects.

For fans of the more kosmische end of the krautrock and spacerock spectrum, Netto could well be an early candidate for end-of-year top album lists, and continues to deliver on repeated listening. Serving as a great introduction to the band, it also makes exploration of their back catalogue (some of which is apparently hard to track down) all the more enticing.

To visit Electric Orange’s web-page, go to:
For more information on Sulatron records, go to

Reviewed by Pat Albertson