Quarkspace – “Spacefolds 12″ (Eternity’s Jest Records 2013, Digital Download)

The Quarkspace Spacefolds series of all improvisational jams continues with its 12th edition. As with the previous several Spacefolds, the new album features the original Quarkspace lineup of Darren Gough on guitar and bass, Chet Santia on bass, guitar and loops, Jay Swanson on keyboards, synth and loops, and Paul Williams on drums, synth, keyboards and loops.

The album opens with Remember The 614, on which Jay Swanson’s piano takes the lead for a melodic song that swings, with Darren adding a dose of swagger with his stinging Bluesy guitar solos. 614 is the Columbus, Ohio area code and I’m guessing the track title refers to Paul Williams’ move to Louisville, Kentucky last year, the last member to leave Cowtown, making Quarkspace officially a formerly Columbus-based band now. A Poor Man’s Diamond follows a similar theme, with Jay jamming away in his trademark majestically melodic style. Darren goes for the grooving tasteful solo on this one, and Chet’s bass jams along nicely too, contributing far more than mere backbone. I was thinking that we’re in slightly different territory for Quarkspace and then noticed the promo sheet reference to “a fresh take on influences from San Francisco to Alpha Centauri“. Sure, maybe a touch of San Francisco in these first two tracks, but still distinctly Quarkspace. Speaking of Alpha Centauri, Return of the Son of Quarkallax goes into deep space, picking up exactly where Quarkallax from Spacefolds 11 left off, being nearly 10 minutes of cinematic, high intensity space-prog with a bit of classic Berlin school electronics. The Flu for Christmas features guitar, piano and bass sharing lead melody duties. San Francisco meets Alpha Centauri comes to mind on South Pass, a spaced out jam with fun freaky loops, ultra funky bass, cool wah’d guitar licks, and ooooh-weeee-ooooh synths. More beautifully tasty soloing from Darren can be heard on the acoustic infused Blue Sky Aerodrome. Old Floyd Walks A Rugged Path has a cool grooving space jazz vibe, with both Bluesy and acidic guitar plus great cosmic synth and keyboard sounds. The Near Frame features more dreamy yet rhythmic melody focused jamming. On iCowboy, Paul jams away on drums and Jay grooves along in the background while the alien electronics, keys and soundscapes take control. And Jeptha’s Sleepy Waltz is a laid back groover that makes a nice closing track.

I do believe Quarkspace are coming up on a 30th anniversary in the next couple years. The interplay between the musicians absolutely makes the music on this set, demonstrating how so many years of playing together can lead to improvisational telepathy. And it really makes me miss the concert era of the mid-90s through early 2000s when Quarkspace live performances were frequent. Spacefolds albums always sound like they could have been composed and their live performances were the same way. Quarkspace would play the songs they had written and rehearsed, and transition just as smoothly to jams that audience members could easily think were part of the songs. Ah, but I’m getting lost in memories.

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

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