Archive for September 27, 2013

Spids Nogenhat – “Kommer Med Fred” (Bad Afro Records 2013, CD/LP)

Spids Nogenhat (Danish term for magic mushrooms) originally formed from members of On Trial, a band that produced numerous offshoots, including Ghost Rocket, Black Beacon Orchestra, and, perhaps best known to Aural Innovations readers, Baby Woodrose and Dragontears. Twelve years after their 2001 debut, Spids Nogenhat release their second album, Kommer Med Fred (Danish for We Come In Peace). The album is 38 minutes long, with 7 original songs and one cover.

After a high intensity oscillators plus acoustic guitars blast off, Mere Lys launches into a catchy song that can only be described as a space rock version of Baby Woodrose. And the spirit of Baby Woodrose is very much in evidence throughout the album. Lever vi Nu? is an acoustic driven spaced out slab of psychedelic pop. The lyrics may be in Danish but damn, these are all such a catchy songs. Lolland Falster is an easy paced tune with a bit of a garage folk-psych feel, and has a cool combination of 60s west coast guitar, bubbling liquid psych guitar, and searing acidic licks. Vand, Brod Og Te is similar but without the acid licks. Spids Nogenhat I Graesset explores similar territory, being both steady paced and intense, and its warbled psych guitar leads have a sharp sting. Jorden Kalder is a trippy psychedelic magic carpet dream ride. Fred goes in a different direction, being a freeform freak flag waving pagan folk-psych trip that sounds like it would be at home on one of the first couple Spacious Mind albums. And then there’s Den Gennemsigtige Mand, a cover by a band I’ve never heard of called Furekaben. A little Googling reveals them to have been a Danish band that existed from the late 60s – early 70s. I couldn’t find this song but listened to a few others by them on YouTube and hear lo-fi and completely freaky acid-pagan folk. Spids Nogenhat make the song dreamy/trippy but also inject an anthem-like quality. Another great combination of guitars, with spacey fluttering patterns and gorgeously tasteful and ripping acid leads.

In summary, if you like Baby Woodrose you’re guaranteed to like this. It’s definitely on the spacier side. It also fits well with the Bad Afro label theme, and kudos to these guys for so consistently releasing such high quality psychedelic music.

For more information you can visit the Bad Afro Records web site at:
Visit Spids Nogenhat on Facebook at:

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Kevin Ayers and Mushroom – “I Should Have Brought Mananas: Live at the Great American Music Hall, San Francisco, 5-24-98″ (self-released 2013, 3-CD)

Veteran Aural Innovations readers will know that we’re big fans here of the San Francisco band Mushroom, and I’m happy to see this 3-CD set finally release, in its entirety, the May 24, 1998 show in which Mushroom backed Kevin Ayers, who passed away in February of this year. Mushroom drummer and bandleader Pat Thomas explains that the pairing came about in part due to a recommendation made to Ayers by Martin Wakeling, who published a UK based Kevin Ayers fanzine and was a Mushroom fan. Further sealing the deal, Michael Clare, bassist of Daevid Allen’s University of Errors, also knew Ayers and, as Thomas says, “did the real hands on arrangements of getting Kevin to come to San Francisco and stay at my apartment for a week.”

The first CD consists of Mushroom’s opening solo set, and on this night they were the sextet of Pat Thomas on drums, Erik Pearson on guitar and flute, Graham Connah on keyboards, Michael Holt on keyboards and Mellotron, Alec Palao on bass, and Dan Olmstead on guitar (Olmstead would bow out when Ayers took the stage).

The set opens with Leni Riefenstahl, a studio version of which would appear on Mushroom’s Aether Records LP the following year. A repetitive bass riff creates the foundation over which flute, Mellotron and keys casually and contemplatively drift. Oscillating alien electronics make for a freaky counterpoint to the flute and keys. And as the band slowly join in they retain the cool grooving feel of the intro, though the guitar gets nicely rocking, sounding like Neil Young’s Crazy Horse had hopped on stage. I love the combination of that dirty guitar and jazzy flute and keys. The Reeperbahn is next, originally on the band’s debut LP, and reissued the year of this show on the Cream of Mushroom CD. This is the kind of rockin’, groovin’, and eccentric Mushroom that caught my attention years ago with their killer combination of psychedelic, krautrock, jazz, and experimental influences. The infectiously melodic and hip shakin’ Martina, Queen of Hamburg is another song I know from Cream of Mushroom (which was a “sorta” crossover album with the Alive And In Full Bloom CD). This is followed by a trippy jazz and rock improv. We’ll Take You There goes into totally freaked out psych rocking heaven, with juxtaposed opening riffs that sound like Neil Young fucking with both Ohio and the Footloose theme. The last track is a spaced out jam of the Ayers penned Soft Machine song, We Did It Again, which leads into Ayers joining the band on stage.

Discs 2 and 3 consist of the full Kevin Ayers backed by Mushroom set. Each CD runs as individual continuous tracks so you can’t easily choose which songs you want to hear, but speaking for myself, I’m ok with that because it is, after all, a live show, meant to be heard as a whole.

Given Ayers’ Soft Machine roots, Mushroom made a glove fit of a backing band. Other than “Ratledge-isms” cropping up in the keyboards, Mushroom don’t really sound like Soft Machine. Rather, the commonalities are to found in each band’s unique psychedelic/progressive relationship to jazz, and, in Mushroom’s case, this extends to krautrock, pop, soul and more, depending on which of their albums you happen to be listening to. At one point in the set Ayers points out that he only had 5 hours to rehearse with the band, which is pretty damn impressive given how seamlessly the music gels. There’s an English troubadour element to Ayers and throughout the set we’re treated to his songs, interspersed with instrumental workouts. There’s lots of variety too. We’ve got the bluesy swing of Champagne And Valium and Strange Blue Coloured Moon. Lady Rachel is darkly moody, with beautify flute and guitar led instrumental forays. I like the flowing melodic spacey prog and experimental pop of Decadence. Why Are We Sleeping is simultaneously heavy rocking, dream-like and whimsical. Ghost Train comes across like a folk-prog minstrel song. I love the lively, uplifting blues rock of Didn’t Feel Lonely Till I Thought Of You. And there’s even some sad country song to be heard in I Don’t Depend On You. It’s a great set and an outstanding pairing of talents. Ayers had collaborated with a variety of luminaries in his career, and in subsequent years Mushroom would go on to do the same.

As you can see from the picture, the packaging is simple. Three CDRs without artwork, plus a 7 page printout with an excellent essay about Ayers in general and this evening in particular by San Francisco based poet and rock critic Michael Layne Heath, track listings and credits. But the price is right for this gem that will appeal to both Mushroom and Kevin Ayers fans.

Copies of this 3-disk set are extremely limited and are available directly from the band for US $20 in the US; all others: US $32. Price includes postage. Simply PayPal the money to

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Nik Turner – “Space Gypsy” (Purple Pyramid Records 2013, CLP-CD-666)

Let it never be said that Nik Turner is mellowing with old age. From his relentless touring, to his dozens of guest appearances on other people’s albums, to this, his latest solo album, the 73 year old shows no signs of slowing down.

Space Gypsy is simply just brimming over with a remarkable vitality, and Nik’s dynamism can be heard coming through, on every track. But a good part of this amazing energy can also be attributed to Nik’s choice of members for his band. Rather than drawing on the spacerock collective as he’s done before, this time out Nik hand-picked musicians from the punk and industrial scene. Along for the ride are UK Subs co-founder Nicky Garratt on guitar and his Subs band mate Jason Willer on drums. On bass is Jeff Pitchinini, (AKA Geoff Myles), from early punk rock band Chelsea. Rounding out the group is Jürgen Engler, front man of the excellent German industrial band Die Krupps, on guitar, Moog synths and Mellotron. Engler also produces the album. But despite the backgrounds of the band members, make no mistake, Space Gypsy is not a punk or industrial album, it is pure SPACEROCK, but highly infused with the energy of those genres.

Nik is in fine form whether squonking away on his sax on the rockers, or taking some lovely melodic turns on both sax and flute on the mellower cuts. It’s great to hear all those crazy and wonderful sounds he developed in his Hawkwind days again, but Nik is a much better player now than he was back then. After years of honing his skills on his own solo works and on collaborations with others, the Nik Turner of today has an amazing range, from heavy rock n’ roll sax blowing to wild free jazz freakouts (check out the final minute of We Ride the Timewinds) to deliciously melodic pop-style sax hooks like those on the track Anti-Matter. He also does some absolutely gorgeous flute playing on some of the mellower tracks like the softer Galaxy Rise (reminding me a bit of The Demented Man with its seagull cries, acoustic guitar picking and stately Mellotron) and especially on the almost album closer, the epic The Visitor. Vocally he’s also in fine form, whether he’s playing the detached, lost astronaut of the superbly rocking opening cut Fallen Angel STS-SI-L or the paranoid punk of the bonus track Something’s Not Right or story-telling on the darkly psychedelic epic The Coming of the Maya.

The rest of his band is a knockout too. One time punker Nicky Garrett is just as comfortable pummelling out the heavy electric riffs as he is strumming and picking the acoustic guitar. Willer and Pitchinini make for a top notch rhythm section that are as tight or as loose as Nik needs them to be, and Engler piles on the sweeping Mellotron chords and cosmic swathes of Moog electronics with reckless abandon, upping the cosmic quotient considerably. Nik’s former Hawkmate Simon House also contributes stunning violin to a couple of the tracks and erstwhile (and perhaps future) spacerocker Steve Hillage makes an appearance as well.

Of course, all the great playing in the world wouldn’t make any difference if the songs weren’t good. Are they? You bet they are! Everyone in the band has at least one writing credit, with many of the members, including Nik himself, with several credits. It’s clear that Nik has tapped into a great pool of talent here as these are some of the best spacerock songs to come out from any former or current member of Hawkwind in quite some time. They are just bubbling over with memorable riffs, catchy melodic hooks, and stunning psychedelic explorations. Engler’s production is also superb, giving the album just the right amount of sheen without overdoing it, letting all the instruments breathe and come alive. There is no doubt in my mind that Space Gypsy will be high on my top 10 albums of 2013. Highly recommended for spacerock fans everywhere!

For more info, visit: and

Reviewed by Jeff Fitzgerald

Comets Ov Cupid – “Vril Kosmische Urkraft” (self-released 2013)

Comets Ov Cupid returns with its third release, following Metalgazer (2007) and Western Lands (2010). Vril Kosmische Urkraft finds the former Skye Klad and Satyrswitch frontman Jason Kesselring expanding on the territory he plumbed in Western Lands, a mix of noisy drones, quaking metal, and cosmic folk. This time out, the mostly instrumental album explores the depths and chasms of Germanic and Norse mythology and mysticism, taking the listener on a journey deep into the realms of the hollow earth and beyond.

Vril was the ancient cosmic power harnessed by the advanced beings that dwelled in the hollow of the earth in The Coming Race, the 1871 novel by British writer Edward Bulwer-Lytton (and indeed, kosmische meaning ‘cosmic’ and urkraft meaning ‘ancient power’ fall in line with this). It certainly does seem that Kesselring is tapping into some kind of power as he unleashes the shivering drone attack of Mysterium Cosmographicum, the opening track on the album. It’s a brief piece, less than two minutes, before we’re flung full force into the throbbing intensity of Sleipner, featuring Kesselring’s trademark sound: a roar of hazy noise; enormous, fuzzed out bass; drum loops buried deep, deep in the mix, and relentlessly creative guitar soloing. It’s a thundering anthem for Odin’s steed. Viking Spacecraft, both a nod, one would presume, to ancient Norse explorers, and the unmanned vessels that landed on Mars in the 1970’s, takes a similar direction, but this time replaces the galloping rhythm with more of a zoned out interplanetary vibe. It’s pure spacerock for the cosmically inclined, perhaps one last glimpse of the outer cosmos before Kesselring turns the listeners attention inward with the brooding soundscape of The Hollow Earth.

It’s as if he’s provided us with a map (Mysterium Cosmographicum) and the transportation of both ancient myth and the space age, then set us on a course into the unknown (something he did well on Western Lands too). Here, besides the aforementioned The Hollow Earth, the unknown manifests in the hauntingly melodic Ultima Thule; the weird, psychedelic folk of Valknut; and the eerie dronescape and restless chants of Ginnungagap (the name that the ancient Norse gave to the vast, primordial void that existed before the universe was created). The album concludes with the rollicking heavy metal stomp of Jormungand and the desolate, empty landscapes evoked by The Eternal Ice (a reference perhaps to the Norse end of the world?). And although that may leave the listener a bit chilled, it’s a good chill, the kind of chill that sends shivers up one’s spine, say, after having witnessed a manifestation of the unexplained, touched the cosmic or dreamed the endless dream.

Kesselring takes a very unique and intriguing approach to mixing his music, like an alchemist experimenting, often inverting the typical mix, burying drums and muting melodies in favour of textural explorations. It serves his music well. One always gets a sense that there is something hidden beneath, some ancient secret or lost wisdom swirling under the surface. It makes the listener want to dig deeper, to find what lies within. But there’s the magic of Comets Ov Cupid: one can never quite find it. It remains elusive and mysterious, as all great cosmic secrets should remain.

For more info, visit: and

Reviewed by Jeff Fitzgerald

BLIM – “Zero / No Frills” (self-released 2013, 2-CD, BLM-001, originally released 1992 & 1993)

BLIM were a UK based band who released two cassette albums in 1992 and 1993, which have been reissued as a 20th anniversary re-mastered 30 track 2-CD set (includes 7 bonus tracks not on the original cassettes). Formed by the core of Andy Read, Tony Child, and Neil Spragg, BLIM played an eclectic blend of Space Rock, Prog, Jazz, Psych, Ska, Punk, and miscellaneous you-name-its. A huge number of bands emerged from the 1980s so-called festie psych scene in the UK, but like The Great Imperial Yo-Yo, Krom Lek, and Omnia Opera (of which Spragg was/is a member), BLIM were crack musicians playing mind-boggling rock that could be simultaneously intense and fun.

The first album, Zero, features the 6-piece lineup of Read on guitar/vocals, Child on keyboards/FX/samples, Spragg on drums/vocals, plus Ben ‘BJ’ Garniner on bass, Phil Cook on sax/vocals, and Nigel Pugh on flute/keyboards. Among the highlights is Derangement, a space-prog instrumental that starts off rocking with Hawkwind alien synths, flowing classic prog keyboards, swingin’ sax, and the spirit of Gong looming, but then shifts to a higher intensity space rocker with an almost metallic crunch to the guitars, before changing gears once again to a dreamy, flute driven melodic segment, and then steamrolls over the listener for the finale. F features turn-on-a-dime transitions between cool grooving lounge-jazz in space and Omnia Opera styled guitar intensity, plus the tripped out whimsy that I recall from The Great Imperial Yo-Yo, as well as another mind-massage flute led bit. Yeah, these guys are all over the place, but space rockers who are also progheads will love the compositional gymnastics and now ya see it, now ya don’t arrangements. Synchromesh is a similarly varied spaced out power-prog instrumental that includes a guest synth solo from Omnia Opera’s Ade Scholefield (both albums were recorded at Ade’s studio). The guitar on all these tracks is monstrous and I have to say that… move over Ed Wynne… Andy Read is one of the 80s/90s space rock era’s great guitarists. The nearly 12 minute Disappearance starts off quite sedate, with drifting acoustic guitar, flute, sax, and throbbing fretless sounding bass, then shifts to a threateningly moody King Crimson-ish feel, before launching into the BLIM brand of blistering full frontal assault power rock, and then shifts back… you get the idea. The mood lightens with Country & Eastern – I smoke a little ganja, I smoke a little hash, wheeeeeeeeeee!!!

For No Frills, BLIM paired down to the quartet of Read, Child, Spragg, and Robert Illesh on bass/mandolin/keyboards/vocals. The space rock elements are by no means gone, but this album is more about prog infused heavy rock (plus other fun stuff) and tight-as-a-knot performances. Standouts include The Noup, which puts the spotlight on Read and some serious guitar shredding plus a killer bass sound from Illesh, and includes dead on riffage from Gong’s Master Builder. Junk is a head-spinning space-prog workout with more monster guitar. Sparsely & Much is a schizophrenic, whirling ride, transitioning between jazz-funk-psych-rock, funky Discipline-era King Crimson, and throbbing spacey Reggae/Dub grooves. I love it. Ditto for Vector, which see-saws between a blend of Red-era King Crimson and punk, to hyper-kinetic Ska, and includes spaced out meteor shower electro oscillations. Plop starts off as a cool grooving rocker, which reminds me of the jazzier songs on Snakefinger’s Manual of Errors album, and then launches into a blistering high intensity hard rock/jazz/metal exercise. Wet Potato is a hard rock carnival that will throw your equilibrium completely off. These guys are fucking TIGHT! And Ocean and Beejayone are surprisingly pastoral (for BLIM), the latter dishing out some of the most tastefully rocking guitar licks of the set.

So… wow, what a roller coaster ride. Can’t believe I’d not heard of these guys, though I see now that Neil mentions BLIM in Doug Shaver’s Omnia Opera interview published in Aural Innovations #8 back in ’99. Summarizing “quote” descriptions of these guys are impossible. But what the hell… let’s have some fun… imagine Ozric Tentacles, King Crimson and Frank Zappa at an Allan Holdsworth backyard BBQ, and you might get something like BLIM. You want this. That is all.

For more information you can visit the BLIM web site at:
Stream and purchase at:

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Chris Forsyth – “Solar Motel” (Paradise of Bachelors 2013, PoB-10)

Cosmic Americana. That’s what Chris Forsyth terms his music, with its roots as deep in American blues and rock n’ roll as much as they are in the cosmic psychedelia of European space explorers and the entrancing epics of Mike Oldfield.

Citing diverse influences such as the Grateful Dead, Brian Eno and Television, Chris creates four pieces, all parts of the grand suite which takes the title of the album (apparently named after a legendary derelict (and now vanished) structure in New Jersey). Each piece is built on, initially, a single guitar riff, before it expands outwards with multiple layers, not just from Chris, but also from Mike Pride on drums and percussion, from Peter Kerlin on bass, and from Shawn Hansen on organ, piano and keyboards. Part 1 begins with a loping guitar rhythm that slowly builds, looping around itself in mesmerizing helixes. As droning keyboards along with driving bass and percussion enter the scene, they let Chris cut loose to freak out on his guitar, a style that finds a mid-point somewhere between the raw emotional wail of the blues and the far out and trippy soundscapes of psychedelic rock. Things get downright weird towards the end with a calliope of twisted sonics whirling around in a haze of smoke and mirrors before the music gently segues into Part 2.

Part 2 has the hypnotic pulse of electronic music, without actually being electronic music. Think a drier, dustier, grittier and more slowly throbbing variation on Manuel Göttsching’s Echo Waves from Inventions for Electric Guitar and you start to get the idea. Chris’s guitar playing can get way out there, but he peppers it with delicious and original hooks, so it never gets lost in the haze. Combined with the rhythmic pulsations of the other instruments, it keeps drawing you in and in on its spiral journey.

After the nearly 22-minutes that comprise Parts 1 and 2, Part 3 slows things down a little, with a mellow, melodically evocative guitar pattern that sidesteps the driving rhythms for a dreamier excursion, perhaps this time into the nostalgic and mysterious past of the title structure. But it builds slowly, ever so slowly into a deeply acidic jam, with Chris’s echoed guitar going for both edgy shrieking and extreme twang, letting us down finally into the distorted and hazy soundscape of Part 4. Here Chris and his compatriots go nearly ambient, but the guitarist continues to throw in the spellbinding hooks he is a master of, to always keep it interesting, right to the very end.

Solar Motel is like the landscape reflected in a desert mirage. It digs deep to find the soul of America, but then presents it as if seen through a kaleidoscope. As much balanced as it is delirious, Solar Motel is a ballpark hotdog topped with ambrosia, a feast for lovers of cosmically inclined yet down to earth instrumental, psychedelic music.

For more info, visit

Reviewed by Jeff Fitzgerald

Beautify Junkyards – self-titled (Self-Released 2013,CD/LP/Download)

Lisbon, Portugal’s Beautify Junkyards came to my attention last year with their 2-song single on Fruits de Mer Records, and then earlier this year with their contribution to Fruits de Mer’s Hollies tribute. They did such a stellar job with the cover songs on those releases that they’ve decided to make their debut full length an all covers set.

There’s quite a variety here, including the songs from the single: The electronic and spacey keyboard colored rendition of Nick Drake’s From The Morning, and the flowing folk-psych with symphonic backdrop take on Os Mutantes’ Fuga No. 2. Other songs that are stylistically ripe for Beautify Junkyards’ interpretation include Vashti Bunyan’s Rose Hip November, which is treated similar to the Nick Drake cover, being largely faithful to the original, but spicing things up with spacey effects, plus some potent choral vocals. Bridget St John’s Ask Me No Questions goes into trippy dreamland with the instrumental break. Linda Perhacs’ Parallelograms is one of the most tripped out avant-garde folk songs I’ve ever heard, and Beautify Junkyards do a decent job with it but can’t outdo Perhacs’ experimental chutzpah. I love the drifting flow of Donovan’s Song of the Naturalist’s Wife. The covers of Heron’s Yellow Roses and Roy Harper’s Another Day convey the gentle acoustic-folk of the originals. But the single best track of the set for me is the out-in-left-field dreamy acoustic-folk interpretation of Kraftwerk’s Radioactivity. This is my idea of a cover song, with the band taking the original and making it completely their own. Really beautiful.

In summary, it’s clear that Beautify Junkyards are an outstanding acoustic-folk-psych band, and they’ve got my attention, but now it’s time for them to get crackin’ with some original songs. I did notice in the promo sheet that they are working on an original score for the 70s animated movie Fantastic Planet, to be presented live in film festivals. Now that could be interesting.

The album is being distributed through Clear Spot:
Digital distribution will be through iTunes, Spotify and Amazon

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Sauer Adler – “Revelation” (self-released 2013, Download)

Sauer Adler are the Polish duo of Kacper Wojaczek on keyboards and vocals and A.J. Kaufmann on guitars and vocals, and I believe Revelation is their debut. Sauer Adler cover a lot of ground across the album’s 10 tracks. Bokonon is characterized by a Syd Barrett Madcap Laughs brand of stripped down whimsical folk-psych. Axona is a 60s inspired psych song, with cool piano and acoustic guitar interplay, later transitioning to organ and electric guitar. Wormhole Blues and In the Silence of the Morning Sunrise bring to mind lo-fi Peter Hammill. Gray City and Ascension / Vikings of the Sunrise have an intense, emotional, spaced out Prog feel. And Get High and See is a 12+ minute constellation of lysergic twists and turns. It begins as a fairly normal song, but after a few minutes veers off into an avant-psychedelic exploration that seems to switch gears every moment or two, from freaky songs to spaced out improvs, which despite the weirdness is all creatively strung together.

Revelation may be a lo-fi living room affair, but Wojaczek and Kaufmann are doing a lot with a little, writing damn good songs and putting together impressive instrumental arrangements. Add a couple more musicians and give these guys some quality studio time and we might have a Prog-Psych powerhouse on our hands.

For more information visit the Sauer Adler web site at:

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Landing – “II” (Structure vs. Chaos Music 2013, Cassette/Download)

Based in New Haven, Connecticut, Landing are the trio of Aaron Snow, Adrienne Snow, and Daron Gardner, who are celebrating their 15th anniversary summer tour with this 5-song, not quite 30 minute EP, released as a cassette and digital download.

Gathering is a dreamy tune with a motorik beat. I like the combination of gentle drift and underlying dense, aggressive noise-drone on Tending and Time. Adrienne’s vocals are hypnotically soothing and recorded and layered beautifully on both these songs. Aaron sings on the remaining tracks and I like how the two trade off vocal duties as both have voices that are complimentary to the music. Cyst is an atmospheric space-pop song that would be a powerful meditative dreamscape even without the vocals and percussion. Two Veils and Sphere II are the heavies of the set, largely due to the commanding bass and rock drumming. Two Veils has a spaced out 80s feel, with a mesmerizing alien synth melody and flowing guitar, but also sparse leads, and an introspective landscape. Sphere II is a remake of Sphere, originally on the 2004 album of the same name. I love the bass/guitar counterpoint… the aggression vs. mind massage dialectic as the bass chugs away while the guitar focuses on tender melodies. Lots of cool space electronics color the proceedings on this one too. 15 years and still going strong, Landing continue to explore Space Rock’s dreamier realms.

For more information visit the Landing web site at:
Listen to and purchase downloads of lots of Landing albums at:

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Spirits Burning & Thom the World Poet – “Golden Age Orchestra” (Voiceprint 2009, VP490CD)

What do you call a poet without a girlfriend?

— Thom the World Poet (Strange Daze Space Rock Festival)

First, this is not a new Spirits Burning album. It was released in 2009 and while preparing a Spirits Burning radio special a few months ago I realized it’s one I missed, so I’m filling in the review crack.

Thom the World Poet will be known to Aural Innovations readers through his association with Gong and Mother Gong. I had the pleasure of experiencing Thom’s freeform improvised poetry when he played M.C. at the Strange Daze Space Rock Festivals and the Quarkstock 2000 Space Rock Festival. In the CD notes, Spirits Burning ship captain Don Falcone says, “Thom’s ability to vocally riff on the spot will forever amaze me!” I know exactly what he means. Thom’s delivery, band intros, announcements and chats at the festivals were compelling and FUN.

Golden Age Orchestra is very different from any Spirits Burning release to date, mainly because most of the tracks were recorded with a group of musicians actually performing together, rather than the usual Spirits Burning method of Don Falcone assembling multiple contributions from around the world. Joining Thom were David L. on acoustic and electric guitars, Jay Radford (University of Errors, Mushroom) on electric guitars and electric conga, Michael Clare (University of Errors, Weird Biscuit Teatime) on bass, and Don Falcone on organs, horns, piano, string and electronic driven things.

The music consists of spacey, jazzy, bluesy, cool grooving acoustic-electric rock, all functioning as support for Thom’s vocals. I like the spacey jazzy rock, with tasty leads from both acoustic and electric guitars on Golden Age of When. I don’t know who David L. is but I love the guitar interplay between him and Jay Radford, with Only One Question being a standout for dual leads. Other highlights include the spacey sultry blues of Retirement Blues. I dig the psychedelic jazzy blues with trippy flute-Mellotron sounding leads on Santa Somewhere (Beach Blanket Waltz). Both The Light And The Dark is the most psychedelic tune of the set and also the only instrumental, with cavernous Eastern flavored atmospherics and percussion. And River of Xperience (Only One Questions) is the one traditional Spirits Burning track, including global contributions from Kev Ellis (Dr Brown, BubbleDubble, Sonic Arcana) on killer blues harmonica, Chris Hopgood on guitar, and the late Mychael Merrill (Melting Euphoria) on conga.

Golden Age Orchestra may not appeal to all Spirits Burning fans, but to Don’s credit, the project has taken multiple twists and turns over the years and this is certainly a twist. The musicians are outstanding and I’m assuming they were improvising along with Thom. And to really appreciate Thom you have to keep in mind that he’s improvising the lyrics throughout. Pretty impressive.

For more information visit the Spirits Burning web site at:

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz