The Quarkspace Spacefolds series of all improvisational jams continues with its 11th edition. I can’t call Quarkspace Columbus, Ohio based anymore because the members are now scattered. But these guys are old friends and periodically converge on the mothership (i.e., Paul William’s basement studio) in Columbus to record. As with Spacefolds 10, the new album features the original Quarkspace lineup of Darren Gough on guitar, Chet Santia on bass and guitar, Jay Swanson on keyboards and synth, and Paul Williams on drums, synth, keyboards and loops.
The album opens with Surfer Attack, a brief introductory piece with rapid fire electro-percussion and a pleasant melody. But the band get down to business with Quarkallax, a high intensity tension builder with beautiful singing guitar licks, 70s styled syncopated synth patterns, and various other electronics and keys. Last of the ADATs features Jay Swanson’s piano leading the way. Jay has a distinctive style and improvisational melodic flair that stands alone, almost sounding like a jazz pianist playing to a lounge crowd. And accompanying the piano are sweet cosmic guitar licks, bass and drums. The band get a groove going on Christophah Moltisanti. The guitar really rocks out, jamming away in a slightly Bluesy style, along with nice 70s flavored keys creating melody and soundscapes, and it’s all held together by the grooving electronic patterns. Flavioic Interlude and Flavioic Interlude 2 are both light, melodic space-jazz jams. Endless Autobahn has a cool offbeat rhythmic groove, which guitar and keys jam along to. I really like the searing cosmically acidic guitar that starts off Got Run Over By The Bus, eh John?. But there’s so much more going on as the jam includes shimmering psychedelic guitar, Chet’s distinctive jamming bass grooves, and a chilled but rocking spaced out vibe. It all mellows out at the end, including a bit of acoustic guitar in the last minute. A short track, The Tree Whose Leaves Fall Last is also one of the most serene. Really beautiful, and I like the way its offset by bits of jamming Blues guitar. Squirrel Inside a Scoop of Transparent Grape Ice Cream is a really cool mixture of elements, with dark jamming piano, classic prog keys, spaced out electronics, and wild wah’d funky Bluesy psych guitar. Lots going on here. Very intense. One of my favorites of the set. And Celestine Farewell is peaceful tune that, like the Farewell of the title, makes for a fitting closing track.
It’s always a pleasure hearing a new Quarkspace album. I still miss the days of their live shows. These guys could jam away for hours and it would always sound totally practiced and planned. If you like all instrumental, improvisational space rock, these guys have a sound very much their own.
For more information you can visit the Quarkspace web site at: http://www.quarkspace.com
The album is a digital only release and is available from iTunes, Amazon, eMusic and other music services.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz