2011 has been a busy year for Dusseldorf astral travellers Vibravoid, with the release of Zero Gravity, a second studio offering (their sixth all told) to complement the Minddrugs album that came out in April (as well as another live album recorded at the 2011 Burg Herzberg Festival) – truly, their cup runneth over! For the uninitiated, the band, helmed by guitarist/vocalist Christian Koch, have a mission statement that consists of bringing the great era of ’60’s and early ’70’s psychedelic rock into the present. In doing this, they are eager to draw a line in the sand between their brand of psychedelia and that which comes under the varying labels of heavy psych/stoner/doom rock. Although no stranger to lengthy live jams and improvisations of their own (check out their awesome live version of Can’s Mother Sky on youtube), Vibravoid place a strong emphasis on song craft, either of their own design, or interpretations of classic psych covers from the past. Zero Gravity contains three such covers, all previously released by the band but exceedingly hard to get hold of, plus eight originals (two of which are CD-only bonus tracks) across almost 60 minutes of music. Most of the tracks are relatively short, with the album bookended by a couple of excellent extended pieces.
Proceedings are opened by the (almost) title track Gravitation Zero, which features some gloriously woozy guitar drones and semi-chanted vocals over trademark metronomic drums in a manner which recalls ’90’s spacerock greats Farflung as much as it does ’60’s psychedelia. In a further link with that renaissance period of spacerock, the band next cover No Silver Bird, originally recorded by ultra-obscure American band The Hooterville Trolley in 1968 and covered/rediscovered by Pressurehed for the 1990’s Cleopatra Records spacerock compilation Space Daze. Vibravoid’s version more than does justice to past renditions, and it is great to see a lost gem like this reinvented for the 21st century. The short Travelling Without Moving references the minimalist vintage keyboards of Florian Fricke’s Popul Vuh, while the sparkling psychedelic pop of Photosynthesis In Darkness and Eruptions Of The Green Sun evoke the spirit of hippies, yippies and London’s UFO Club. Shot Gun Wedding is an Eddie Cochrane cover, although you would never know from its sitar-drenched, acid-fried arrangement. Sitars return again on the six-minute The White Ship, originally recorded by Chicago psychedelic folk band H.P. Lovecraft in 1967, and echoing the 1960’s escapist dreams of The Doors and Jefferson Airplane. Get Out Of Here follows the theme of escape, although in a somewhat heavier and definitely more dismissive manner (“I don’t want your love, I don’t want your tears / I don’t need your love, I want to get out of here!”). Brainplane, the closing track on the vinyl release, encourages the listener to drift away into the void. The CD edition closes with the shimmering La Vie En Dusseldorf and the downright bizarre Radiation Zero with its random oscillators gradually morphing into an odd rhythm reminiscent of Pink Floyd’s Syd-era Pow R. Toc H.
Zero Gravity is perhaps a step away from the hard rocking psychedelia of some of their previous releases (the first half of Minddrugs, being a better example of their heavier side), but is none the worse for that, serving as a bright beam of sunlight across an ocean of heavy and dark stoner rock. Those who want to experience the summer of love transplanted into the modern era should brace themselves for a zero gravity trip through space with Vibravoid.
Reviewed by Pat Albertson