Ask the casual music listener what they consider to be the sound of the ’90’s, and the most likely answers you get will be a combination of grunge and alt rock, or techno and Britpop. Few indeed would be familiar with what was then known as the “new wave of US spacerock”, the isolated strands of which were brought together to a certain extent by the legendary Cleopatra label, which released a number of compilations featuring bands like Farflung, Pressurehed, Alien Planetscapes, Anubian Lights and Architectural Metaphor, performing either their own material or classic rock covers of the likes of King Crimson, Pink Floyd and Hawkwind. Buried deep underground, these bands helped to inspire a third and current generation of spacerock bands including Oresund Space Collective, Secret Saucer, Litmus, First Band From Outer Space and plenty more who are still going strong today. Although Cleopatra Records is still a going concern, things have been rather quiet for most of those American bands that kept the flame alive in the ’90’s. The release of Architectural Metaphor’s Everything You Know Is Wrong is therefore a most welcome surprise, a bit like finding a gold nugget amongst rubble thought picked clean.
Although a version of Architectural Metaphor, built around keyboard player Paul Eggleston, was releasing cassettes in the late 1980’s, it took the arrival of guitarist Greg Kozlowski to record their proper debut album, 1995’s “Odysseum Galacti”, which contained a version of Hawkwind’s Sonic Attack, a statement of intent if ever there was one. 1997’s Creature Of The Velvet Void featured a twelve minute take on Hawkwind’s Golden Void and, far less obviously, The Velvet Underground’s All Tomorrow’s Parties (a storming version of Pink Floyd’s Echoes was a staple of their live set). Appearing at the Strange Days Space Rock Festivals and opening for the likes of Gong, Pressurehed, Ozric Tentacles and (perhaps unsurprisingly) Hawkwind, the band line-up which recorded 2004’s live Other Music included former Dinosaur Jr drummer Pat “Murph” Murphy. Between then and now there have been no new transmissions from spaceship ArcMet, and it appeared as though the band had vanished into a black hole. However, 2013 has heralded the release of Everything You Know Is Wrong, a stunning return which features “new” vocalist Andrea Aguayo (she actually joined in 2005, but this is her recorded debut with the band). Actually, it may be not be completely accurate to call this release a “new” album, as rumour has it that the tracks were recorded in 2005, and that the band may not be a functioning unit. Nonetheless, Everything You Know Is Wrong is a full length studio album of previously unreleased tracks that serves as a great introduction to the band for those (myself included) who missed them first time around.
The album opens with the riffy Apocalypse, which sounds a little like early Uriah Heep, but with wailing female vocals, and a crunching freakout guitar solo. Strangely, Architectural Metaphor have never had a permanent bass player, but this absence just gives Murph more room for his jazz-style drumming, and gives the band a kind of “dislocated” sound (in a good way!). With that Echoes cover in their live set, and On The Run appearing on 2004’s Other Music, it is no secret that the band have a heavy Pink Floyd influence, and Nuclear Sun features Saucerful Of Secrets-style choral vocals. The writing credits include Deb Young, drummer/vocalist who left the band in early 2000. The three-minute title track is a semi-acoustic ballad that showcases the soulful vocals of Andrea Aguayo, who won a couple of awards in jazz magazine Downbeat before she turned 18. The title Neu Klangfarbenmelodie would suggest motorik rhythms, but instead we get nine minutes of wild spacerock improvisation built on jazz drums, freaky guitars and whooshing keyboards. The Temple Song is just a two minute interlude before Wasserfall (Zeit), which features spooky wordless female vocals, pulsing synths and Gilmour-esque sustained guitar lines. S.P.Q.R is another three-way spacey jam credited to the core instrumental trio of Eggleston, Kozlowski and Murphy, parts of which sound like their interpretation of Cirkus from the Cleopatra tribute King Crimson album Schizoid Dimension. With no bass in evidence, the riff is held down by Eggleston’s keyboards with Kozlowski and Murphy soloing over the top. A second Wasserfall, subtitled Der Weltraum, runs for a scant two and a half minutes, before the final track, an amazing cover of Roxy’s In Every Dreamhome A Heartache [sic] kicks in (is it just me, or does this sound like the chord sequence to Hawkwind’s Assualt And Battery?).
Regardless of the origins of these tracks and the current status of the band itself, Everything You Know Is Wrong is an excellent slice of classic spacerock that deserves heavy rotation on my CD player, and has made me want to investigate their earlier work. Let’s hope it is more than just an epitaph to a great band.
For more information, see the band’s website http://www.architecturalmetaphor.com
NOTE: At the time of publication this web site is still under construction. Inquiries for the CD should go to firstname.lastname@example.org
Reviewed by Pat Albertson