The Cosmic Garden – “Sun Secrets” (Hypefactory Records, 2012)

The Cosmic Garden is the duo of Tibor Fredmann and Sigi Hümmer. Their debut full length CD (following the 2011 release of the EP Spirale), is a spaced out journey of improvised music. Between the two of them they play synths, Mellotron, acoustic and electric guitars, piano, strings, drums, percussion and voices.

Fredmann and Hümmer find a comfortable place right about midway between classic Krautrock style grooves and modern electronica rhythms (which were heavily influenced by Krautrock artists anyway) to form the backbone of their improvisations. From there they lay down some terrifically cosmic soundscapes. What makes them different from other bands of this style is that it’s not all loosey goosey random spaciness. Fredmann and Hümmer focus on structure within their improvisations to give the music a semi-composed feel. And although the rhythmic aspects of the music are creative and interesting in their own right, the musicians remain focused on weaving melodic lines throughout them.

What also sets The Cosmic Garden apart from many other improvisational ambient/space artists is that every track on the album has its own distinctive feel. Their previous release, the EP Spirale, was a mostly laidback affair, though it did get dark on occasion, but it remained pretty much in ambient mode throughout. You know that Sun Secrets is going to be a bit different from the very start. Instellar Waves opens up fairly intensely with dangerous drones and wails, echoing voices and a sudden echoing guitar chord before it breaks into a driving, rhythmic odyssey into deep space. Abstieg In Die Unterwelt takes you in the opposite direction. Descent Into the Underworld is roughly what it translates to, and it is, not unexpectedly, a dark and eerie piece of music. Layered drones shift and change as primitive percussion echoes throughout. But it constantly evolves, through serene, piano-like music to shivering dark soundscapes to haunting voices. It never gets boring.

From the intensely rhythmic Purpure Liquid Plejades (a reference to the first track on Tangerine Dream’s Zeit album maybe?) to the spacious atmospheres of Munich 1969 – Summer of Love, the moods alter from one state to the next. In Love With Rosy Rosy (a nod to Ash Ra Tempel’s Starring Rosi perhaps?) sounds like the lovechild of some lost experimental sci-fi movie soundtrack and some forgotten, early 90’s ambient techno excursion. Im Tal Der Eremiten (In the Valley of the Hermits), on the other hand, is a vast, ambient soundscape, full of mystery, from mist haunted hills to the depths of time and the cosmos. Where Have All the Flowergirls Gone is a bit lighter; still though, a journey into mutant electronica with some crazy soloing in it. And the final, brief Himalayan Space, not surprisingly combines East Indian sounds with angelic space voices, a gentle coming down after the weirdness of the previous track.

In short, there is some great music on Sun Secrets. Hints of exotic lands, myth and mystery collide with visions of interstellar realms. For lovers of Krautrock, ambient space music and experimental electronica, it is a feast for the ears. Check it out!

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Reviewed by Jeff Fitzgerald

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