Archive for July 31, 2012

Philip Sanderson – “Hollow Gravity” (Puer Gravy 2012, PG-02, LP)

Puer Gravy is the vinyl only label run by Eric and Matt of Vas Deferens Organization and Philip Sanderson’s Hollow Gravity is the label’s second release. Let’s start with some historical notes…

Philip Sanderson was in the thick of the UK post-punk DIY homemade music/cassette culture scene that enjoyed a brief period of visibility (if not significant sales) in the late 70s and earliest of 80s, with regular coverage of hometaper releases in the nationally distributed New Musical Express and Sounds, airplay by John Peel, and even some distribution through Rough Trade. It was a heady period when people believed that DIY releases could actually break the stranglehold of, or at least subvert to some extent, the major record companies.

From 1978-81 Sanderson’s Snatch Tapes label released compilations, the first recordings of David Jackman (Organum), and tapes by the Storm Bugs, Sanderson’s recording project with Steven Ball, which encompassed noise, soundscapes, cut-ups and collage, songs… all manner of sonic exploration. In fact, Sanderson had a leg up on most of his peers, explaining in a Sound Projector interview (issue #16, 2007-08) how he had access to the electronic music studio at Goldsmiths, University of London, the result being that Storm Bugs releases often consisted of both bedroom studio recordings and those done in the electronic music studio at Goldsmiths. In the same interview Sanderson also describes how during this brief window of time he could take Snatch Tapes releases to the Rough Trade warehouse and they would buy copies without even listening to them, and had a Snatch Tapes display in the Rough Trade shop, all pretty remarkable when you stop and think about it.

I could go on as hometaper/cassette culture history is a fascination of mine but I felt a little Sanderson background was important. So… on to the new Philip Sanderson LP, his first album of new material since 2005’s Seal Pool Sounds CD. Hollow Gravity consists of 12 tracks and Sanderson employs an arsenal of gear, including Korg Montron, Yamaha CS-15, Circuit bent Casio PT-280, Long and Short Wave Radio, Guitar, Evans EchoPet EP-100m WBL 4014, NDA Plug-ins, Soundforum Synth, SoundEdit 16, and Sound Studio 3.

The album includes an intriguing variety of electronic, spaced out, and creatively tape manipulated concoctions. Among the highlights is Prefabrication, on which Sanderson lays down a strange electro guitar-ish/percussive pattern that reminded me of a track from Goblin’s Suspiria soundtrack, and indeed the music has an intense sci-fi/horror flick vibe, and even develops an oddball rhythmic groove. The titles on the back of the LP include little descriptive blurbs, and Chance Operation is described as “For circuit bent piano and cut-up Cage”, featuring a sparse piano melody, eerie soundscapes, narrative voice samples, and other effects. Cut-ups… Chance Operation indeed.

Among the more whimsical fun-with-tape tracks is the jazz band tape manipulation of Tooting Broadway, mixing wild sounds and voice samples from some old advertising or educational recording on The Secret Of The Fountain, the captivating combination of angelic ambient waves and bleepy blurpy electronics on Low Flying Branches, the fun strange spaced out bouncy electro melody of Crystal Set, and the Residents Goosebumps toy instrument style of Pickle Pin.

We’ve also got some really cool and off-the-beaten-path space excursions. Bodysnatcher is like early Tangerine Dream remixed to inject a melodramatic orchestral edge. Described as “A ballad for J.G. Ballard”, Hard Shoulder consists of spaced out soundscapes that starts off with a claustrophobic feel, but slowly adds layers until I felt like the sole passenger on a space station. And Spaghetti Tension has similarly spaced out soundscapes, but with more sound experimentation plus a strange and hypnotic sense of melody.

In summary, Hollow Gravity serves up a creative and often fun blend of electronics and sounds, all cleverly tape manipulated to create music covering of range of spaced out and experimental realms. Note that the LP has been released in an edition of only 100 copies and is pressed on 180-gram laser etched vinyl (which vinyl junkies will dig for sure).

For more information visit the Puer Gravy web site at:
CLICK HERE for a free download of the entire Side A
Visit the Philip Sanderson web site at:
Visit the Snatch Tapes web site at: (LOTS of mp3’s!)
Last but certainly not least, visit the Storm Bugs web site at:

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Øresund Space Collective – “Phaze Your Fears” (Space Rock Productions 2012, SPR006, LP)

Phaze Your Fears is one of two new Øresund Space Collective albums. This one is available in a vinyl edition of 500, plus the album is available as a digital download. The music was recorded in September 2010 during the same sessions as those released on the Entering Into The Space Country album, and features members of The Univerzals, First Band From Outer Space My Brother The Wind, Gösta Berlings Saga, Gas Giant, Claus Bohling (veteran guitarist from Hurdy Gurdy, Secret Oyster, and Elektrum), and OSC organizer Scott “Dr Space” Heller.

Side A consists of the 20+ minute title track and features Johan Dahlstrom and Mathias Danielsson on guitar. Now this is space rock you can dance to! The band set a great groove and jam away. The guitars and rhythms have a bit of a Grateful Dead vibe at first though the synths take it all into deep space. Around the 9 minute mark the guitarists shift gears and transition to a more classic hard rock style, with Dahlstrom and Danielsson’s dual guitars in killer attack mode. I’m really diggin’ this. After a while the mood calms, the guitars jamming lightly and electronic soundscapes whooshing and swirling about, though the pace gets gradually but increasingly intense until we’re rocking hard in space again. An excellent combination of space rock and 70s styled hard rock.

The 24+ minute Ear Meat takes up all of Side B and features triple guitars from Claus Bohling, Stefan Krey and Nickolas Hill. The track opens with a variety of guitar sounds, at least one in gorgeous soundscape mode. The guitars and electronics jam along lightly and it’s all very atmospheric. The bass and drums set the primary groove and the music gradually builds in pace and intensity until the band are rocking hard. We get more than our share of tasty ripping guitar solos though I hear a lot of emphasis on atmosphere and melody. Around the 11 minute mark the jam pulls back and the musicians focus on soundscape creation that supports a spoken word bit in Russian. The sounds and soundscapes get briefly chaotic, really building in intensity and you can just feel the coming explosion and then SMACK!!!… we’re blazing along and I’m reminded of Ozric Tentacles at their most red hot rocking, though OSC also inject a bit of that Grateful Dead in space vibe.

Both sides of the album rock hard but each has a distinct flavor, which is of course good when you’ve got two side long jams. And as usual OSC prove that they can keep their lengthy jams sounding almost composed and hold the listeners attention throughout.

For more information you can visit the Øresund Space Collective web site at:
Digital downloads available at:

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Øresund Space Collective – “West, Space and Love” (Space Rock Productions 2012, SPR005, LP)

West, Space and Love is one of two new Øresund Space Collective albums. This one is available in a vinyl edition of 200, plus the album is available as a digital download. West, Space and Love is interesting in that it’s the smallest lineup of the band I recall hearing. KG Westman and Mr. Love from the Swedish band Siena Root were at Scott “Dr Space” Heller’s home studio in October 2009 for a jam session and the result of the trio’s improv’s are the 5 tracks on this album.

Side A opens with High Rise, an Indian grooving raga surrounded by whooshing windswept synths. Sitar, acoustic guitar and tablas jam along as Scott creates spaced out electronic swirls and effects, even adding to the melody a bit. Ragas in space baby! Kafi (For My Love) is next and starts off sounding like an old Klaus Schulze album. Then the sitar begins soloing, soon joined by folk styled acoustic guitar and then shooting star synth effects. A very cool dreamy and trippy combination of Berlin school Kosmiche, Indian and folk influences. The appropriately titled Spirit Blues rounds out Side A and is an acoustic driven jam with an interesting combination of Eastern influences and Blues.

Side B begins with Repetition, a slow-paced tune with trippy sitar soloing, light percussion, and a dark but catchy keyboard melody, plus various other bleeping and fluttering electronic embellishments. A simple but cool meditative jam. Sitars In Space fills up the rest of Side B and at 14+ minutes is the longest track of the set. The sitar jams away while Scott goes Berlin school again, but also throws in a variety of other alien electronic coloring. Later the sitar recedes into the background for a while and a slowly developing synth pattern takes the lead. It’s a strange but very interesting and difficult to describe effect, almost sounding like avant-garde theater soundtrack music. Finally the sitar returns to the forefront and trips along to the end.

This is definitely one of the most sparse and different OSC albums I’ve heard. A refreshing departure and of course with varying lineups that’s always a possibility and helps keep things interesting. A cool set of spaced out Indian influenced psychedelia.

For more information you can visit the Øresund Space Collective web site at:
Digital downloads available at:

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

ohead – “Visitor” (Headlab Records 2012, HLB CD 08)

Visitor is the seventh release from British psychedelic spacerockers ohead (the band appearing to prefer a small “o” in their name these days), who started life as a side project for producer David Hendry in 1996. After releasing Silent Universe in 1998, little was heard from ohead until the follow-up Steps Across the Cortex came out in 2005. Since that time Hendry, who predominantly features on synths and programming, has been joined by a number of regular collaborators including the lead guitar talents of Tim Jones and John Simms, plus occasional sax and flute from Spacey Rach and Maren Lueg. Although Hendry remains firmly at the helm, Visitor has the feel of a band effort, even including real drums and percussion on a few tracks.

Opening track Kull (perhaps named for Robert E. Howard’s “other” fictional barbarian) features stately choral synths, like sunrise over the mountains, as a 90 second prologue before the real action kicks in with Alluvial Morte. Early ohead releases seemed to take their aural cues from mid-1970’s Tangerine Dream and, although Hendry’s allowing guitars into the mix has caused the band to move more to a rock sound, Alluvial Morte harks back to the early days, with a classic T-Dream programmed note sequence. Both this track and Jagged feature vocals from occasional contributor Al O’Kane, who has a breathy, somewhat alien style very much like Porcupine Tree’s Steven Wilson. Next up is Solar Glide, an almost chirpy slice of melodic space-pop, which even features a kind of Latino percussion break, and Ney flute playing guitar-like lines. This and other tracks, like Utep sound almost more like Ozric Tentacles than the Ozrics do themselves, while Diadanze and Space Soup feature Ozric-patented space-dub themes. This in itself is no bad thing, and ohead’s efforts stand up well against their spacerock forebears, but it does tend to make their sound less distinctive. The aforementioned Jagged is probably about as metal as ohead gets on this album, although it also features a rather tasteful acoustic guitar breakdown. Hendry doesn’t utilise bass guitars on this album, but still manages to conjure up some really funky synth-bass lines on tracks like Solar Glide and Diadaze. Tangerine Dream-esque sequencers make a comeback on the title track, before a return to dub with Alluvial Morte Dub, featuring the sax of Spacey Rach, and more great (Jah) Wobbley synth-bass lines. Album closer Manu has gentle eastern flute sounds, making it easy to visualise the sun slipping below the Pyramids.

Visitor is by no means a ground-breaking album as far as the spacerock genre is concerned, but does present a step forward for ohead as a band. If the thought of a marriage between Tangerine Dream and Ozric Tentacles is your idea of spacerock heaven, Visitor will serve as an excellent introduction to the world of David Hendry and ohead.

For further information, go to
David Hendry and the band can be contacted at

Reviewed by Pat Albertson

Jack Ellister – 7″ Single / Mytron / Yordan Orchestra

How did I miss this guy? When you get a lot of promos things sometimes slip beneath the cracks. A couple years ago I received a CD by Yordan Orchestra, which I apparently played a track from on my radio show but didn’t review. In recent months I received a CDEP by a band called MYTRON, which I’ve not really gotten to yet (I’m so lame). But it took the good folks at Fruits de Mer Records and a new 7″ single to knock me over the head and wake me up to the magic that is Dutch musician and songwriter Jack Ellister. So I’m going to make it up to Jack and give you the skinny on all these releases.

Jack Ellister – “The Man With The Biochopper” / “Citadel” (Regal Crabomophone 2012, winkle 6, 7″ vinyl)

Fruits de Mer Records specialize in vinyl only releases featuring contemporary bands covering songs – many quite obscure -from the 1960s and early 1970s. Regal Crabomophone is the sub-label they use for releases that include original music by the artists. The A-side of this Jack Ellister solo single is an original by Jack called The Man With The Biochopper. The music has a classic 60s sound, but without feeling retro, and a totally spaced out vibe. The best contemporary analogy I can think of is Vibravoid’s songs. It’s got a great catchy melody and Jack fits plenty of tripped out instrumental bits within the confines of a 3+ minute song. The B-side features Jack’s cover of The Rolling Stones’ Citadel, which appeared on the 1967 Their Satanic Majesties Request album. The vocals, melody and general vibe of Jack’s version are faithful to the original, but I’d say he outdoes the Stones for pure psychedelia, leaving us with a tasty instrumental finale.

The single will be available mid-August and is limited to 800 copies, and as usual this is vinyl ONLY, no CDs or downloads. If interested you better hurry because Fruits de Mer releases sell out QUICK!

Yordan Orchestra – “Psych Introduxeon: Bringing Ingredients Together” (MegatierProductions 2009)

Yordan Orchestra was a band headed up by Jack Ellister (spelled Aleister in the credits) that released this one CD in 2009. There’s quite a lot of variety across this 6-track, 30 minute set. The CD opens with the catchy pop-psych Käpt’n el HansIG. Jack really has a flair for writing songs that stick like glue on the first listen, which is certainly helped by the excellent production and arrangements. And like The Man With The Biochopper, this has a 60s feel while at the same time not feeling too retro. I love how the song grooves along at a bouncy pace, but then surprised me with an explosive bit near the end. Faced You In A Neon Light is next and has a more modern rock sound, but the arrangements and thematic shifts hint at a sort of prog-pop style. Jack packs a LOT into this song that’s barely over 3 minutes. RMDK is a somber acoustic song with Mellotron-ish backdrops and passionate vocal delivery from Jack. Washington Z (Zodiac Fullhorn Set Monarch) goes in a different direction, with the band in orchestral prog-psych mode. It opens with dark and ominous piano, orchestration and effects, and Jack singing in a theatrical style that recalls Peter Hammill, but then gets so anguished that I was reminded of Mr Doctor from Devil Doll. VERY intense! Jack is back at what I’m starting to feel is his own brand of prog-pop-psych on the whimsically fun Marjolyne. The final track, T-Borne Egg, starts off very atmospheric, with ambient bells, soundscapes, flowing effects and a light drum and tambourine beat. The track is over 9 minutes so I was looking forward to hear how it would develop. But, alas, things go silent shortly after 2 minutes. Yeah, ok, I know this game, I’ll play along to see what happens. Finally, around the 7 minute mark it all comes back to life as Jack launches into a heavy psych rock song with an eerie keyboard melody and the best psyched out guitar on the album. This is very cool and I wish it would have been a stand-alone and more fully developed song.

In summary, there’s lots of interesting variety on Psych Introduxeon. The music is overall very accessible, but the blending of Psychedelic, Progressive Rock and Pop elements adds a complexity to the music that made it all the more enjoyable for me across multiple spins.

MYTRON – “Palast” (Megatier 2011, CDEP)

MYTRON was formed in 2011 after Yordan Orchestra ceased activities and is the duo of Jack (again spelled Aleister) and Anne von Freyburg. The jacket of this CDEP is interesting as it says MYTRON on the cover, and the promo sheet is all about MYTRON, but the spine and inside say Yordan Orchestra. I suspect a bit of intentional confusion.

This is a short EP. We’ve got Palast, a beautifully seductive and catchy psychedelic song. Once again Jack captures the spirit of the 60s in both music and lyrics, singing of “peace and love and warmth and shelter”, but injects spaced out electronic effects and beats that gives the music is a more updated feel. There’s two versions of the song, one a “radio edit” and the other the “album version”. There’s only about 5 seconds difference in the length between each version and I’m struggling to detect a difference between them. Regardless, it’s an outstanding song. Ditto for The Temple’s Hall. I love the liquid psych guitar licks and keys. The vibe is totally 60s but its driven by modern electronica grooves, making for a very interesting combination. Fluctuation Sign is a bit different, being more purely electronic than psychedelic, propelled by a simple keyboard melody but still a very nice song.

I think MYTRON are working on a full length album and I’ll be very curious to hear how an entire set turns out. I see on the MYTRON web site that they’re playing lots of live shows. MYTRON… Yordan Orchestra… Jack Ellister solo… he’s got my attention.

For information about the new Jack Ellister 7″ single visit the Fruits de Mer Records web site at:
For information about MYTRON, Yordan Orchestra, and all of Jack’s activities, visit the Jack Ellister web site at: and

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Beautify Junkyards – “From The Morning” / “Fuga No.2″ (Fruits de Mer Records 2012, Crustacean 30, 7″ vinyl)

Fruits de Mer Records specialize in vinyl only releases featuring contemporary bands covering songs – many quite obscure -from the 1960s and early 1970s. Beautify Junkyards are a new band from Portugal whose debut is this 2 song single which features covers of Nick Drake’s From The Morning and Os Mutantes’ Fuga No.2.

On the surface, From The Morning is faithful to the Nick Drake original. But Beautify Junkyards put their own stamp on the song by coloring the music with delicate electronics and a spacey keyboard melody. Very nice. Ditto for Fuga No.2. Beautify Junkyards recreate the flowing folk-psych feel of the original, but add a gorgeous symphonic backdrop to the chorus which gets increasingly spaced out as the song progresses.

The single will be available mid-August and is limited to 800 copies, and as usual this is vinyl ONLY, no CDs or downloads. If interested you better hurry because Fruits de Mer releases sell out QUICK!

Also note that Beautify Junkyards are wrapping up their first album which will feature covers of songs by the likes of Kraftwerk, Linda Perhacs, Vashti Bunyan, Bridget St. John, and Roy Harper. Hear a few of the songs at You’ve GOT to hear their acoustic folk interpretation of Kraftwerk’s Radioactivity!!!

For more information visit the Fruits de Mer Records web site at:

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

The Pretty Things – “S.F. Sorrow: Live in London” (Fruits de Mer Records 2012, Crustacean 31, 7″ vinyl)

Fruits de Mer Records has been putting a well deserved spotlight on the The Pretty Things this year. We had the excellent Sorrow’s Children: The Songs Of S.F. Sorrow LP, a re-recording of The Pretty Things 1968 classic S.F. Sorrow, with each track contributed by a different contemporary band. Next they released a two song single with a live track from 2010 and flip sided by a demo track from 1965.

And now Fruits de Mer will release yet another Pretty Things single, this one featuring all live tracks. The first 3 songs are all from S.F. Sorrow, performed live in 2010 at the 100 Club in London. We’ve got S.F. Sorrow Is Born, She Says Good Morning, and Baron Saturday, showing the band – still headed up by Phil May and Dick Taylor – in fine form nearly 50 years after their first album. Note the cover art that’s adapted from the original S.F. Sorrow album. AND… Fruits de Mer make the package all the more fun by including as the fourth song a 1969 cover of The Byrds’ Renaissance Fair which The Pretty Things included in their set during a 1969 concert in Amsterdam.

I’ll also share a humorous story from the promo sheet for the single which includes some words about the 2010 show at the 100 Club by Pretty Things manager Mark St. John. He talks about Paul McCartney making a lunchtime appearance at the club and angering the band by taking his sweet ‘ol time about leaving, and the The Pretty Things subsequently crunched for time to get setup for the show.

The single will be available mid-August and is limited to 1200 copies, and as usual this is vinyl ONLY, no CDs or downloads. If interested you better hurry because Fruits de Mer releases sell out QUICK!

For more information visit the Fruits de Mer Records web site at:

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Saturnia – “AlphaOmegaAlpha” (Elektrohasch Records 2012, 2-CD)

Founded in Portugal in 1996, Saturnia is the brainchild of multi-instrumentalist Luis Simoes. The latest Saturnia release and the fifth to date is AlphaOmegaAlpha, released on Stefan Koglek’s Elektrohasch Records label. Though Saturnia has always been Simoes’ project he wasn’t always the only musician on the albums. And after several spins of this epic set of music its startling to my non-musician, non-technical mind to realize that except for a couple spoken word contributions Simoes recorded the entirety of AlphaOmegaAlpha himself, utilizing an arsenal of guitars, sitar, tempura, bass and bass pedals, philicorda, Farfisa, Hammond, theremin, flute, vibraphone, dulcimer, and various other keyboards and synths.

Recorded between 2007-2011, the album is a sprawling 2-CD set of 15 tracks that for me is the ultimate marriage of Space Rock, Psychedelia and Prog Rock. To understand this coming together of Space Rock, Psych and Prog I’ll quote Simoes’ response to a 2004 Aural Innovations interview question about his influences:

Yes, from the old days, Pulsar, Pink Floyd, Hawkwind, the whole German scene (early Tangerine Dream, Ash Ra Tempel etc.) also the big prog names like Genesis or Yes, although to a smaller extent. I always liked these artists because of their utter free creativity, for doing cool music for its own sake. From the more contemporary influences, which are mainly electronic related, I would say Portishead, Alpha and all the English electronic scene from 1990 onwards, what got me into this was the fact that the evasion and freedom that I always loved about the old hippie bands totally disappeared from the “normal” music scene and it somehow landed on the trance/dance/electronic/trip hop etc. sub genre. Maybe due to the fact that both of these movements were strongly related to drugs. To mix these two bubbles was, for me, quite inevitable. I think it is also important not to forget that there are also other styles very influential in the Saturnia sound, I mean, Indian classical music, easy-listening music and also contemporary composers like Luigi Nono.

As tempted as I am to follow my usual style of commenting on each track there is waaaay too much happening across these 15 songs to do that. So much of the album is pure mind-music, gently carrying the listener through space on a cloud and doing so while creating intricately constructed music. I’ll touch on some of my favorites to give you a feel for what AlphaOmegaAlpha is about and the variety you can expect.

The set opens with I Am Utopia, with its driving rock beat and lulling vocals, winding, backward psychedelic guitars, acid guitar, barrage of alien electronics, and heavenly orchestral-Mellotron backdrop. Rings Of Smoke features jamming jazz piano against a heavy rock beat, full choir symphonic backing keys, roaring and somewhat threatening machine like effects, freaked out electronics, and brief spoken word narrative (words by Goethe) by Stefan Koglek. The keyboards and percussion on Clepsydra bring to mind Pink Floyd circa Wish You Were Here, but there’s a far more deep space head-music element to the music, and I love the guitar on this song which is equal parts molten lava and wasp sting. Alpha Omega is over 13 minutes of mid-70s Pink Floyd shot into cosmic floating space. The prominent Mellotron on Mikado Players & Lotus Eaters conjures up a blend of In The Court Of The Crimson King meets Space Ritual meets Wish You Were Here. I love the space-Bluesy guitar licks with UFO electronics dancing around it. Simoes’ Indian influences are apparent on Moving Mandala, with trippy jamming sitar and Indian percussion, but also a cool grooving rock beat and spaced out electronics, and the vocals remind me of a song from a 60s film that I can’t quite place. Mellifluous is a mind-melting mixture of intensity and cosmic drift, with its eerie keyboard melodies, Mellotron, liquid trip guitar, and spaced out electronics that sound like an alien swarm of bees attacking, but also with a drugged, lullaby 60s feel to the vocals. Tetrahedron is full blown 70s heavy rocking in DEEP space, with its conga-like dance grooves, heavy Hammond organ and some of the most ripping guitar on the album. And Cosmonication is a great closing track, which struck me as a mixture of early Genesis, Moody Blues and Pink Floyd, but with the Saturnia focus on putting a spaced out cosmic spin on everything.

In summary, this sucker is gonna be way high on my best of 2012 list. There’s not a weak track in the set. I just FEEL good after listening to the entire album under headphones. Simoes skillfully brings together multiple influences, creating two hours of blur bliss for Space-Psych-Prog Heads. Highest recommendation!

For more information you can visit the Saturnia web site at
Visit the Elektrohasch Records web site at

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Ax Genrich & Band – “A Trip To Paradise” (self-released 2011, AX 001)

Growing up in Buffalo, New York in the mid-late 1970s I was immersed in an intense flurry of musical discovery. Up the street from my parent’s house was a small record store I was fond of hanging out at because the owner was friendly and talkative. One day he gave me a Jem Records Catalog (1976 edition) which Americans from that era will remember as one of the main importers of adventurous music from overseas. This catalog became a bible for me, though I would have to wait a couple more years until Jem went bankrupt for most of the albums to become easily available when they appeared in the sale racks of the Record Theater store near downtown Buffalo. I still have this old catalog today!

There was a simple description in the catalog for the German band Guru Guru – “Since 1970 producing albums of jamming jazz rock madness”. Guru Guru were the trio of Mani Neumeier on drums, Uli Trepte on bass and Ax Genrich on guitar. I eventually stumbled across bargain priced copies of UFO and Hinten, and some years later Kanguru, albums which were completely mind-blowing to me, primarily because I’d never heard anyone play guitar like Ax before. Some of the music made me think of Hendrix crossed with Black Sabbath and rocketed into outer space. Fast forward to 1990s internet access and I was pleased to discover that Ax Genrich was still active and got his Psychedelic Guitar and Wave Cut CDs, both of which showed the guitarist in even finer form than his early days with Guru Guru.

And Ax is still active today, having been in the Psychedelic Monsterjam trio with Mani Neumeier and Dave “Sula Bassana” Schmidt, as well as other projects. In 2010 he performed at the Finkenbach festival in Germany in a trio of himself on guitar and vocals, Mario Fadani on bass and tuba, and Steff Bollack on drums, a concert documented on the 2011 released A Trip To Paradise CD.

This is a guitar lovers album through and through. After a brief introduction by Mani Neumeier the band open with Blow Up, a song from the 1994 Psychedelic Guitar album. It’s a steady paced rocker with Ax’s guitar front and center. The solos are both tasteful and rip-it-up tripped out, covering rocking, psychedelic, and Blues inflected realms, and at times even recall the classic Guru Guru days. Marsyas is next and is another song from the Psychedelic Guitar album. Ax starts off with spacey trippy efx’d soundscape guitar that duels with a droning and rumbling tuba. At the nearly 4 minute mark Ax begins a whimsical narrative, speaking in an expressive sing-song like voice that perfectly matches the tripped out atmospherics. Then at nearly the halfway mark of this 13+ minute track the band begin to jam, with Ax playing guitar that starts off slowly melodic but gets increasingly and aggressively old time psych rocking.

Wave Cut, from the 1995 album of the same name follows, the opening guitar sounding like a mixture of old spaghetti western soundtrack and surf guitar. But Ax quickly settles into a psych-rocking jam style, soloing steadily and kicking out some fast paced runs up and down the fretboard for nearly 12 minutes of blissful guitar dominated jamming. A Trip To Paradise is a title I was previously unfamiliar with. It begins with a steady rhythmic pace, anchored by a simple but cool grooving bass melody, against which Ax goes into deep space creating guitar soundscapes that are at first sparse and quiet, then steadily upping the volume as the guitar trips along. For the finale Ax kicks into funk-psych rocking mode, cranking out a heavily wah’d spacey solo that brings the song to a close. A TRIP to paradise indeed!

Go! Lemgo is another song from the Wave Cut album. The band jams along for a few minutes and Ax nearly goes Metal guitar at times. Finally we hear the main Go! Lemgo riff as the band launch into the song, but things quickly recede and Ax takes off into an array of guitar jams, from deep space to psych rocking and everything in between, yet continually returning to the melodic core of the song. The final track is another I’d not heard before. Zaragoza opens with a freeform improvisational feel, with jazzy bass and Ax creating spacey effects. It’s all very quiet with the focus on mood and atmosphere. But after about 5 minutes the drumming takes off and Ax cranks out screaming and highly intense solos. The music transitions continually throughout this 15 minute jam, including a tasty Bluesy segment that made me feel like I was floating on a cloud, before once again blasting off into space.

In summary, there’s plenty for psych rock guitar lovers to drool over on this live set. We’re treated to a diverse range of Ax’s skill and craftsmanship. And while I’ve described a predominance of jamming throughout the set there is a tremendous amount of variety and the trio are so in tune with one another that it all sounds flawlessly arranged. LOTS of variety and stands up to multiple spins!

Anyone interested in getting a copy of A Trip To Paradise should email Ax Genrich at
Note that Ax will soon have a new LP out on the Nasoni Records label. Keep your eyes on

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Space Mirrors – Review and Interview

CLICK HERE to enter the Space Mirrors contest for a chance to win a free copy of the new CD!

Space Mirrors – “In Darkness They Whisper” (Transubstans Records 2012, TRANS097)

Russian musician Alisa Coral is back with the fourth Space Mirrors album, the follow-up to 2008’s Majestic-12: A Hidden Presence. From both Space Mirrors and her Psi Corps albums we know that Alisa likes themes and In Darkness They Whisper serves up heaping doses of Space Rock and Metal influenced by the stories of H.P. Lovecraft.

Shadow Over Innsmouth kicks things off hard and heavy with driving metal guitar and eerie gothic keyboards. Later in the song there’s a really cool guitar solo that sounds like something from an early King Crimson album. Martyr Lucifer returns from the last album on vocals, along with Hortus Animae band-mate Massimo Arke on guitar. Martyr’s vocals on the last album ran the gamut from growling to screaming to “clean” (which means no growling or screaming), though on In Darkness They Whisper the vocals are all clean. I was a little ambivalent about this at first. I’m no fan of the growling metal vocal style, but on Majestic-12, the stylistic variety resulted in high vocal drama and you could make out the lyrics (the inability to understand lyrics is my pet peeve with the growly style). But after several listens I tuned myself into the vocals and decided that the combination of spoken word and singing works well on this album.

The first part of Silver Key is an easy going rocker. But then the guitar morphs into something more anguished, surrounded by space synths, before returning to the main theme. Geometry Of Witchcraft is a mixture of metal, space rock and 70s rock. I got a kick out of the playful synths which are like little aliens dancing around and contrast with the intensity of the music. About halfway through the band crank up the metal and Martyr gets just a wee bit growly and the whole thing builds up to a frenzy until a bubbling run of space synths lead to a space rocking metallic finale.

The title track begins with a dark gothic theme and atmospherics, quickly launching into a metal rocker with crunchy head-banging guitar chords but also classic 70s styled hard rock solos. I liked the fist-pumping “IN DARKNESS!!” background vocal chants. There’s a really cool and strange mid-song space-prog section with Cyndee Lee Rule’s ripping viper violin, fluttering synths and spectre-like efx’d vocals. Even after they return to the main theme Cyndee is still cranking out some beautiful violin solos.

Rue d’Auseil is Missing is an instrumental featuring Sparky Simmons from Acid FM on guitar and Cyndee on viola and comes off like a duel between the two. I really like the opening on Cats Of Ulthar with synths that are flittering and soundscape producing plus Cyndee’s jamming violin. Then there’s a threatening cat meow and we’re in the song, which starts as mellow space rock then launches into a space and metal rocker. It’s like Hawkwind with metal elements but also a prog rock sense of thematic development. LOTS going on with this really outstanding song!

And then there’s the 22 minute 8-act suite, The Dreamquest of Unknown Kadath. It begins with Nik Turner jamming on sax along with bashing metal guitars, a wild combination if there ever was one! Alan Davey plays bass on these tracks and his presence is definitely felt. Alan has long comfortably straddled both the space rock and heavy rock/metal realms. Fabio “Amon 418″ Bartolini, another member of the band Hortus Anima (and another band I don’t know called Hate Profile) plays guitar on the entire suite. I like the brief mellow section with Nik on flute which then leads back to the sax plus metal guitar jamming. And of course we transition through multiple thematic shifts. We’ve got heavy symphonic prog, goth and anthemic metal. There’s a cool segment where Martyr reads a narrative backed by ghostly soundscapes and haunting keyboard melodies. Then the metal guitar starts to lightly chug along and we’ve got Nik jaaaaaaming away on sax. I really love the combination.

In Darkness They Whisper is an ambitious set of music and though contributions from around the world are common in the internet age I still marvel at how Alisa has organized all these musicians to create something so tight and consistently coherent. Throughout the review I’ve made references to space rock and metal, but I wouldn’t call Space Mirrors Space-Metal. It’s like bringing elements of the two worlds together but not necessarily blending them. It’s hard to describe and that’s a good thing because Alias is doing something that to my ears is different.

Wanting to know more about the album I conducted the following email interview with Alisa Coral:

Aural Innovations (AI): The last Space Mirrors album – Majestic-12: A Hidden Presence – came out in 2008. How long did it take to record In Darkness They Whisper? You are organizing so many musicians from so many countries.

Alisa Coral (AC): I started my recordings for the album in 2010 and by the spring of 2011 I had all songs sent out to other musicians to record their music parts. We have many people on this record as you noticed so of course it took some time for everyone to record. For example Alan Davey and Nik Turner recorded during the summer. While doing some preview mixes I decided one song needed synth solos and I asked my friend Bjorn Jeppesen from Nattefrost to play them. In January 2012 we had all music put together and vocals were recorded. And also in March it was the latest part added – an additional sax solo by Nik. Then it was finally mixed and mastered.

AI: The lyrics are inspired by the stories of HP Lovecraft. Tell me more about that and what inspired you to focus on Lovecraft.

AC: Lovecraft is one of my favourite authors. His stories are not simple horror stories but are cosmic horror. He writes about the oldest and strongest kind of fear, fear of the unknown. His language is great and a pleasure to read, his descriptions are very colourful and full of sounds. But also he brings up very interesting metaphysical and philosophical ideas. Many consider him just a dreamer but it’s not entirely true. Some things are relevant actually. For example, in the lyrics of our song Silver Key I tried to show how the main character is lost in the prosiness of day-by-day life, how modern people lose the ability to sense the fear of the unknown, they don’t care about the stars anymore. Imagination and stargazing is totally replaced by “Dancing with the Stars.” I guess you understand what I mean. :-) By the way, Lovecraft has a great essay written about Horror literature where he describes his attitude to many things really well. It can be read here:

AI: You’ve described the album as being the first one in the “Cosmic Horror” series. What can you tell me about your plans for this series?

AC: First I planned to record two albums in the series then our singer Martyr inspired me to turn it into a trilogy. So there will be three albums based on H.P. Lovecraft stories.

AI: Michael Blackman was THE Space Mirrors guitarist on the previous albums. He’s gone and now you’ve got several guitarists, so that’s a big change.

AC: Michael was a part of Space Mirrors from the very beginning. But in 2010 he decided to leave Space Mirrors to concentrate on some other things. I don’t want to go into the details but he couldn’t guarantee his commitment to the band. So I started a search for other guitarists. First one who recorded for the album was John Pack of Spaceseed and he also brought to the album the wonderful keyboard player Allen Welty Green. It was a very welcome addition. Meanwhile I also contacted an old friend of Martyr – Massimo Arke. We agreed that he would play on several songs. You should understand that people with whom I work are busy musicians so I had to adjust my plans according to their schedules. So when Massimo couldn’t find time for more songs I switched to another guitarist from Italy – Fabio “Amon 418″ Bartolini and he contributed excellent guitars to the 22 minute epic The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath. Both Massimo and Fabio played in Italian extreme prog metal band Hortus Animae where our singer Martyr Lucifer is also from. And while recording In Darkness I met another great guitarist in Sparky Simmons from stoner rock band Acid FM. I had one track left for guitar recording, it was an instrumental Rue D’Auseil is Missing. I asked Sparky to add his powerful guitar to this track. He makes a really cool duel there with Cyndee Lee Rule who plays the viola. It follows the concept of the story which inspired this track. After that Sparky immediately became a permanent member of Space Mirrors. So now the core of Space Mirrors are: myself, Martyr Lucifer, Sparky Simmons and Fabio Bartolini. Cyndee Lee Rule is a permanent guest member as well as Nik Turner (they both played on the Majestic-12 album as well) and I hope Alan Davey. :-) They all delivered great playing on the new album. Nik Turner is just amazing with sax and flutes and Alan… well, Alan is my favourite bass player, one of the best in the world, so you can imagine how happy I was to get him to play on The Dream Quest epic.

AI: The last two albums were on the more purely metal based Sleaszy Rider records and now you’re on Transubstans, which specializes in both 70s styled rock bands and space rock.

AC: Sleaszy Rider looked really good when we signed to them in 2005. EMI distribution and such… and our friends Hortus Animae were also there. But all changed for worse in 2009 when Majestic-12 was released, most of the promotion and distribution went in Greece. But still I’m very grateful to Sleaszy Rider for all the opportunities. The contract was for two albums and I knew I would be looking for a new record label home with a worldwide distribution. When I found out that Transubstans Records started to sign non-Scandinavian bands I decided that I would contact them. I know music of this label very well, I’ve heard many good things about them and they were the obvious first choice. I’m glad they have found my music interesting enough to release too. Thanks to Johnny, Tobias, Jocke and all the crew of Transubstans Records.

AI: One of the things I find unique about Space Mirrors is the way you bring together Space Rock and Metal elements. There are several bands that do that but you are different in that it’s not Space-Metal… but rather a difficult to describe meeting between the two… like Space Rock PLUS Metal rather than a blend.

AC: Haha, I don’t know what to say. That’s probably just the way I write music. What I compose is the music I would like to hear but can’t find anywhere else… So I just compose it myself. I grew up listening to both Space Rock and Metal and it somehow comes together in my head. :-) Maybe I should mention that I’m also a big fan of Steve Harris songwriting? He is one of the best at writing the epic songs. His Rime of The Ancient Mariner is incredible and a huge inspiration… So I don’t know, maybe this all together makes my music to sound this way?

AI: Martyr Lucifer’s vocals are different on this album. All what you describe as “clean”. Very little of the growling or screaming. Was that intentional?

AC: Yes, we both decided the new album needs mostly clean type of vocals. He just recently released his solo album Martyr Lucifer – Farewell to Graveland where he also almost doesn’t use any growls. So this is the direction where he is heading. If I need a growl somewhere he does it but we both feel comfortable at the more clean voice direction. His vocals were recorded in an excellent professional Italian studio by Simone Mularoni (sound producer very well known in Italy). Me and Martyr, we worked together a lot on the final mixing production concentrating especially on vocal sound until we both were happy with that. Martyr is now an essential part of the band; he helps me a lot with his advices and opinion. :-)

AI: Since the last Space Mirrors album in 2008 you’ve released two Psi Corp albums. How would you describe the difference between Space Mirrors and Psi Corp?

AC: Space Mirrors is more about songwriting and Psi Corps is about instrumental experiments. Psi Corps was a very interesting experience but I doubt I will return to this project sometime in the near future. I’m too busy with Space Mirrors and actually have no mood for the purely instrumental music now.

AI: Any other news or upcoming projects you’d like to tell us about?

AC: We are recording a sequel to In Darkness They Whisper right now. I can reveal that we already did the basic tracks for 5 news songs. And two more are lined up to record. The titles of the album and songs and guest members will be named later. So stay tuned! Also I recently recorded synthesizers on several songs of a new Spaceseed album which should be out sometime later this year.

For more information you can visit the Space Mirrors web site at:
Visit The Transubstans Records web site at:

Review and interview by Jerry Kranitz