Archive for November 4, 2013

Lamp Of The Universe – “Transcendence” (Clostridium Records 2013, LP/Download)

Craig Williamson is a New Zealand based musician with varied interests. There’s the heavy stoner-psych persona, manifested in the late 90s – early 2000s via the band Datura, and more recently Arc of Ascent. And since 2001 Craig has released albums as Lamp Of The Universe, characterized by ultra trippy Eastern influenced psychedelia. The latest outing is Transcendence, released by the German based Clostridium Records label in a beautiful glossy gatefold package, pressed on 180g vinyl, hand numbered, and includes an arty button. It’s in an edition of 500 with 200 black, 200 blue, and 100 split red-blue. It’s also available as a digital download album.

Lamp Of The Universe is a solo project, and on Transcendence multi-instrumentalist Craig employs an arsenal of instruments including acoustic and electric guitars, bass, drums, djembe, sitar, tanpura, recorder, Mellotron M-400, Rhoads piano, synths and vocals. Side A opens with Pantheist, and right out of the chute we’ve got the heaviest music I recall ever hearing on a Lamp album. It’s got a doomy vibe, with stoned psychedelic efx’d guitars and orchestral keys, which are offset by Craig’s trademark hypnotic Om chant pied piper vocals. At 8 minutes there are plenty of instrumental breaks, my favorite of which is the combination of heavenly keys and liquid psych guitar solo. Creation Of Light is next and now we’re in classic Lamp territory, dosed with sitar, recorder, trance inducing Rhoads melody, ethnic percussion and Craig’s mystical lyrics. Transcendence closes out Side A, finding a middle ground between the first two tracks by taking a lighter stoner vibe than Pantheist as its core and creating a cosmic journey to the East, rocking out with sitar, slowly soloing but dirty rocking electric guitar, and spacey symphonic keys, and I like how when the electric guitar is in the lead the sitar supports by easing into a mesmerizing drone.

The Sign Of Love opens Side B and is dominated by drugged strumming acoustic guitar and somber Mellotron, which injects a wee bit of an In The Court Of The Crimson King vibe to this narcotic song. Samsara is the most stripped down song of the set, with Craig singing to acoustic guitar and chirping birds. The album concludes with the nearly 11 minute Beyond The Material World, which features the most acid drenched music I’ve ever heard on a Lamp album. It rocks hard in a peacefully drifting way, with a light stoner core, absolutely killer acidic, wah’d and winding electric guitar, tripped out alien effects and Mellotron.

In summary, this is hands down the best Lamp Of The Universe album I’ve heard yet. I love the blend of heaviness and psychedelically spaced out trippy music. Listening to this begs a DAMN, is Craig really doing all this himself? I’m impressed. Put on the headphones and fire one up.

For more information visit the Lamp Of The Universe web site at:
Visit the Clostridium Records web site at:

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Alpha Omega – “Down The Gravity Well” (Clostridium Records 2013, LP/Download)

Australian space rockers Alpha Omega are back with their first full length since 2007’s The Psychedelometer (they also released a 7″ single in 2010). Down The Gravity Well is out on the German based Clostridium Records label, and comes housed in a beautiful glossy gatefold package, pressed on 180g vinyl, hand numbered, and includes poster, postcards and sticker. It’s in an edition of 500 with 200 black, 200 green, and 100 split green-yellow. It’s also available as a digital download album.

Ok, the music… Side A opens with the title track, with heavy rocking guitars, cosmic alien synths, and a punky attitude in the vocals. I like the mixture of vocal sections and instrumental jam bits, which we’re treated to througout the album. Follow Me is next. After a sedate introductory bit the band launches into a punk-metal space rocker with dirty blazing rhythm guitar and a melodic lead, plus bubbling liquid psych guitar leads. The main song segment of Excession is space rock/punk-new wave similar to the way that Hawkwind’s Quarks Strangeness & Charm was, and I love the seductive keyboard melody that leads the music into deep space. Polydream goes further down this path, partly sounding like a spaced out psychedelic take on early 80s pop, yet at the same time rocking hard and I can easily hear Robert Calvert singing both these songs.

In contrast to the close of Side A, the instrumental Subsequent Retraction kicks off the flip side with a blend of Space Ritual freakout and sludgy stoned bass, before settling into some serious hard rock guitar driven riffage with an alien electronic edge. Atmosphere of Decay is another instrumental, with enchanting guitar leads and brain swirling synths that hit from all directions. I like the anthem-like quality of Tranquil, which is a strumming and grooving instrumental rocker with more cool melodic guitar leads. Verzweiflung has a dark, ominous mood, rolling doomily along at a steady pace, and then rocks hard for the finale. The album closes with I Believe in UFOs, which might be my favorite song of the set and another example Alpha Omega’s penchant for heavy space rock with a punky metallic edge.

In summary, Hawkwind fans and lovers of HEAVY HEAVY in their Space Rock should step right this way!

For more information visit the Alpha Omega web site at:
Visit the Clostridium Records web site at:

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Acid FM – “Justified American Music” (Monsterfuzz Records, 2012 CD, JAM-01-500) / “Electric No. 3″ (Monsterfuzz Records, 2013 CD, EN3-01-25)

This Stoner//Detroit/Metal crossover Power trio who are called Acid FM hail from North Carolina and their main ringleader and possibly sole remaining founder is named Sparky Simmons. They have been around for nearly a decade already, lurking in the shadows of small labels and appearing on obscure local compilation releases. I think I saw even a mention on the first Spaceseed album with Nik Turner along with some other familiar names. Sparky should be known to some readers of Aural Innovations as the newly welcomed current guitarist for the international space-metal collective-project based in Moscow, and led by the ever talented and sultry Alisa Coral, the band we call the mighty “Space Mirrors”! Acid FM and Space Mirrors even put out a great split 7″ single on red transparent vinyl a couple of years back on Sparky’s own Monsterfuzz Records label, with Acid FM and Space Mirrors sharing each side of their own on the record, which in turn was housed in a nice Kevin Sommers sleeve, the artist who does all the jazzy photowork and eye candy for the current Space Mirrors releases, as well as all the art for ex-Hawkwind bass Assassin #2, Alan Davey’s various bands and solo projects, and, lest we forget, the ever chaotic festival spacerockers Pre-Med’s product as well, always being adorned with Kevin’s unmistakable “Golden touch”.

The latest incarnation of the Acid FM we find on these two CD releases consists of Sparky Simmons on vocals/guitars/synths, longstanding Doc Obergefell on bass/synths, and newest recruit Jeremiah Johnson on drums/percussion. The Justified American Music CD has 12 tracks, and the opener is called In The Blink Of An Eye and sets the tone throughout the CD, with monster thrashy riffs, solid songs, hard rockin’ right through to the closing piece, being a cover of Black Sabbath’s ur-classic War Pigs, which they pull off with more than a little amount of doom-delivered panache. The CD clocks in at just under 59 minutes and is a heavy testimony to blissed out stoned and heavy thrash influenced metallic rock’n’roll they crank up without getting noisy or droney or rubbish like alot of other “stoner” bands get (I mean, Electric Wizard are the reason I forgot doing any real drugs anymore). The format is basically metal measured by a lager of 4×4 liquid tonne oxygen tanks of explosive nitroglyserin aboard a rickety freight train about to derail at 300 mph. down a mountainside into the Great Wall of China. Sparky’s Monsterfuzz label has also been responsible for a limited and quite mindblowing admitted labour of love, an ever so tiny and poorly distributed Monster Magnet tribute CD called Kiss To The Right Side Of Your Brain, a release which I am glad I got hold of back then when it was out on mail order from Monsterfuzz Records’ website in 2011, as I am sure the run was pretty small, making it more than scarce by now, and it is really an effort for such a small label to come out of the blue with something dedicated like that, considering Monster Magnet are pretty corporate these days and probably shit on the small guys who are all trampled underfoot by them, for all we know, in their lumbering pot-addled Fascismo Warthog & The Exploited-fallout mastodon wake Wyndorf and his truncheon-henchmen parade the the pigsty of the Atomic Age record industry with these days, God’s Appointed Stoneage Drug Retards in Rehab, The Refurbished War Pigs of The Holy Roman Empire, so to speak.

So anyway, it was only last year on Facebook, that Sparky held an informal poll on what the name of the upcoming Acid FM album should be, and the best answer was, in the end, handpicked from many entries, and decided to be Justified American Music“. This first and latest Acid FM full length release, which comes in a nice digipack with lots of dodgy photos of the longhaired rocker-blokes in the band standing around brick walls and abandoned lots, looking mean, the silver disc carefully digitally encoded with sounds being very much in their hairy staple diet style of forefathers like Kyuss and Fu Manchu infused straight ahead, no-holds barred vein of pedal-hopping ‘revolution rockin’ stoner rock with a bit of fast thrashmetal and anarchic motor city Detroit chaos thrown in the mix, it culminates in what a Justified American hard rock power trio look and sound like. They do possess some great heavy riffs and never run dry on blitzkrieg fury and Motörhead infused energy, the JAM CD and the Electronic No. 3 CD are both very consistent records, hard and heavy and fast paced. Most of the songs are bursting with vitality to rock out to the max. Acid FM do indeed take their multivitamins every day.

Following hot on the heels of Justified American Music is a 2013 release housed in a jewel case, a 45 minute extended play spread across 9 songs, called Electric No. 3. It consists of a mix of live and studio tracks which further cement the band’s metallic stoner onslaught with more live Detroit-style hellraiser leanings. Some of the live tracks are different versions of songs on JAM, and there are a few new songs as well. Its really blistering stuff that can be described, as a mad-dog power trio out to conquer the heavier side of Spacerock-as-we-know-it, without the psychedelic trappings of the genre. Hawkwind and Monster Magnet are thus named as big influences, according to Sparky’s liner notes on the JAM album, though I would not class Acid FM in any way even overtly psychedelic, even though they DO blow minds, and not at all orchestral, definitely not pastoral, never mellow, not dreamy, in no way at all “prog” or peddling to the experimental, even, no it’s just straight ahead riff-O-rama hardrock, feet squarely planted in metal and stoner, no extended freakouts, no drug addled jamming, no bullshit, unless you count the nearly 8 minute long Black Sabbath cover, its as close to a jam as they get. In that sense they brutalize the listener much like the aforemented bands like Fu Manchu do when tha’Fu are at their best with Fu Man-numbers like Urethane or Hell On Wheels for example, in other words like a loaded jackhammer pummeling at your metal brain, making old men in the know, like Lemmy, very proud of the proceedings.

I am myself currently in the midst of negotiation over creating front cover art for the next Acid FM platter due out in 2014, so we shall see what time and ideas will bring forth on the graphic side once we “Trip the Switch” and “Brainstorm” on a dream dollar deal, and cater for the bands wishes and developments and needs on that end, reaching an end, seeing something coming into fruition. We have nearly settled on images of deep space and shadowy figures, maybe, we are still in the early stage of heady metal “metalmorphosis”. Time will tell for 2014 for these three dudes if they ever break into the mainstream. This band is the essence of skill, and obviously a hard working group at what they do, it really shows, you hear they are playing their damn instruments like no tomorrow. They might as well be superstars if they ever get a break from some bigshot label or big-name producer of some sort. They aim high and produce.

Check out the links below this review, as Sparky @ Monsterfuzz is offering limited $25 discount bundles with both the Justified American Music and Electric No. 3 CD’s with the split 7″ Space Mirrors/Acid FM vinyl, also including a bonus Acid FM poster, and you won’t regret it as the transparent red vinyl item will become quite collectible as of the near future… It’s all Approved by the Healthy Trip Advisor in your Head, they are giants, and they are hardcore! Born to win! They lay down the Law! Totally! Support these three Justified American 30-something hard rockin’ pasty looking stoned white chaps… NOW!

For more information visit the Acid FM web site at:
Visit the Monster Fuzz Records web site at:

Reviewed by Christian Mumford

Architectural Metaphor – A History (as told by Paul Eggleston)

Architectural Metaphor is, along with Alien Planetscapes and F/i, one of the seminal American underground Space Rock bands to emerge in the 1980s. Keyboardist and founding member Paul Eggleston was the first person I ever interviewed, appearing in issue #2, April 1998, back when Aural Innovations was a printed mag. I’ve still got a micro-cassette of our phone conversation. I had been enamored of their 1997 released Creature Of The Velvet Void album, which has a distinctive style that holds up to this day. The combination of Eggleston’s BIG keyboards, Greg Kozlowski’s soaring guitar, and Deb Young’s haunting vocals on that album still sends shivers down my spine.

I had been in communication with Paul earlier this year when the latest Architectural Metaphor album – Everything You Know Is Wrong – was released. Our email exchanges made me realize that the story told in the 1998 interview didn’t paint a large enough picure, as I had learned so much more about the band in subsequent years and wanted to tell a much fuller story. Paul responded with a fascinatingly detailed history, and instead of my usual interview style, what follows is Paul telling the band’s story himself.

Stonehenge 1984
My roommate at UMass, BD, had moved to Edinburgh Scotland for a year in college there, and began to send back tales of multiple Hawkwind shows he had seen, backed by some cassette bootlegs he had made. My apartment consisted of rabid Hawkwind fans, and we were the only ones in western Massachusetts as far as we knew. His tale of the 1983 Stonehenge Free Festival finished with the plan that he and I would attend in the coming year. We did.

So did Anthony Who? from Melting Euphoria and Tommy Grenas from Farflung. I walked past Ozric Tentacles at Stonehenge as they jammed, with primitive lights. I think it may have been one of their solidifying debut shows. BD was our early light guy and major Hawkwind freak besides myself. Stonehenge ’84 definitely started something, without anyone being aware at the time. Odd that four bands started at one festival.

ArcMet: Version One
I returned and started solo experiments and duets in a one week period of July that summer with Bill Buitenhuys, a sometimes jam partner on guitar. I had a hold of my brother’s Electro Harmonix Octave Multiplexer which gave out hellish sounds of chaos, not really a guitar pedal at all. Armed with that, a cheap early 60s Japanese organ, Ibanez Iceman, fuzzbox and Bill’s SG copy, we made the debut cassette Lone Rhino in a Flying Teapot (1984). (Adrian Belew meets Gong in our brains). This was marketed through an advert in Boston Rock in which we claimed to sound like Throbbing Gristle and the Residents.

We involved others in Wakefield, Mass to expand into a social club/band. We used Hawkwind as a blueprint for many of our early ideas, trying to evolve a ‘Space Ritual’ of our own. This ended up partly coming to fruition two years later.

We played in the basement of Barry Corbett (guitar and percussion effects) who brought in a Wakefield Deadhead, Chris Mogan (world percussion) and his co worker, Bob Foley (guitar and synthesizer). Bob was a classically trained pianist and a way better guitar player than Barry, Bill and me combined. Yet we made the decision to not sound like any band and confined Bob to Moog. (By the way, when we peeled the Lizzie Borden and the Axes sticker off the Moog’s flight case, in neatly stenciled letters read: Lyle Mays, Pat Metheny Group.) The occasional appearance of my friend Dave Gorrill (world percussion and sfx) rounded out the original sextet. It was a rare day when we got the full band together, but usually practiced as at least a quintet. This is the band that released what many consider to be the first release proper, the Music for Mensas cassette (1984). (We didn’t know at the time that the plural was ‘Mensans’.) This was sold via mail order and through some local stores. We got some limited attention for our outright strangeness.

The band’s sound at the time was a combination of early 80’s Grateful Dead ‘space’, Pink Floyd circa 1968 freakouts, and primal Hawkwind noise freakouts. It sounded like peaceful Throbbing Gristle, a bit like the Heathen Earth album. I had added a dodgy ARP Odyssey by this point to the guitar and echo of my rig. Third and Short was the follow up cassette release, with a variation of the sextet throughout. All of this material was recorded in Barry’s basement.

We also had modern classical influences. We did a piece that stayed in the set for a long while, 57 Candles for Karlheinz, based loosely on our understanding of Stockhausen’s work. It included typewriter and scissors and a television as instruments. We once blew out the electricity in a whole wing of Brandeis University while playing this live on the radio there. (TV shorted out on a heating baseboard.) In retrospect, we were doing what Pink Floyd tried to do (and abandoned) for their follow up to Dark Side of the Moon, a song made through found household objects and utilizing few to no instruments. John Cage was another influence. Bill and I had seen him reading unintelligible syllables from Thoreau’s journals at a performance near Walden Pond around this time, and we were fascinated by his disregard for any conventions at all in structuring music. Deconstructing more accurately.

Philip Glass was another influence, mainly implemented through the newly acquired Roland SH101 and its ability to run hypnotic arpeggios. I now had two synths in my rig, mainly for sfx, while Bob held down the real keyboard job on MicroMoog and Korg Poly 800, and later an early DX7 knock off, the Casio CZ1000.

A debut gig at Innersleeve Records in Allston on Dec 14, 1984 was followed by Radio broadcasts on Tufts WMFO, Boston College WZBC and ULowell WJUL which garnered attention and perplexed many. MITs WMBR were also early fans who understood this atonal semi-hippy space music that seemed to have no songs at all in the repertoire. Another early gig was opening for Deep Wound (later Dinosaur Jr) at an outdoor party in Amherst. The whole band ran off one extension cord from a 1700’s era house. Bob’s moog made unplanned and uncontrollable sounds, which we later figured out were due to its voltage controlled oscillators not receiving the correct voltage from the house from the draw of all the equipment and amps and PA plugged in. A brown-out of sorts. (A super rare compilation vinyl LP on Innersleeve, Drastic Perversions, contains an ArcMet song, giving the band their first national release. CLICK HERE to listen to a track on YouTube.) A cassette release of the debut show at Innersleeve was our fourth release, Innervistas (1985).

Chronicle of cassette releases
Lone Rhino in a Flying Teapot (Paul solo and Paul and Bill duets) July 1984
Music for Mensas (the quintet) September 1984. Sold in Boston area record stores
Innervistas (live at Innersleeve, Dec 1984) Feb 1985. This one got some distribution and one song was chosen for a California compilation of USA cassette underground bands.
Third and Short (sextet) October 1984. Ltd edition of 25
Soundtrack to an Imaginary Motion Picture (Paul, Barry and Bob) Jan 1985 (Ltd edn of 10)
WMFO live March 1985 (served as our promo recording to get gigs)
Crystallized Intelligence (the sextet) June 1985 (Ltd edn of 25)
Impressions of Ancient Souls (the sextet) Sept 1985 (Ltd edn of 40) This had three songs in our set we played a lot, Arctic Desolation, Peptide Bondage and 57 Candles for Karlheinz. Our first release to have some planned material and not be a collection of our best freeform pieces, which is what all of the previous cassette releases were.
Noodles (the sextet) October 1985. The first to feature our original woodcut logo.
Planet Nine from Outer Space (quintet) Sept 1986. The last recordings with Bob.
There is a studio session professionally recorded in 1985 that has not been released in any form as of yet. A planned edited release is upcoming for the end of 2013.

(Chris Green, the other member of the synth duo Bionaut with me, heard the strange sound of Hawkwind’s Sonic Attack come out of his radio at Tufts in 1985, leading to his coming to the station to witness the madness live, later joining the band in 1990, and the formation of Bionaut in 1994.)

Bob Foley, our gifted keyboardist, had a ‘Syd Barrett moment’ when in the space of a month in 1987 decided to quit his job, sell his car, records, stereo, instruments and move into his parents basement, never to be seen again. I think we had a negative influence on his naturally reclusive and gentle state of mind. Him spray painting my synths and himself orange at a private space ritual on the South Shore, and declaring us ‘orange enough to play now’, perhaps was an early warning of his upcoming break.

Barry had left the band by then and Deb Young had joined on percussion and space whisper. Paul, Bill, Deb and Dave trooped into the studio to record Odysseum Galacti in 1988. This contained some recognizable songs, especially the catchy Waterwheel (written/discovered by me in ten minutes while the rest of the band went to get beer at a rehearsal in 1986, to the surprise of all parties) and We’ve Come for Your Children. Strangely, the song Peptide Bondage, an early popular sequencer space jam was not included. I think we wanted to have the newest sound we could come up with. Cascading Foliage was a sequencer song dedicated to Bob, as he usually drove these kinds of tunes. The title was a nod to his apparent madness and surname. It was a kind of Ur-Punk space rock… primitive and not new-agey at all. The studio was run by Chris Bruce, a self taught wizard who had connections at Lexicon. Prototype cutting edge Lexicon signal processing and delay units were smuggled out at closing and quietly returned before they opened in the morning. Much of this gear wasn’t released commercially until the following year. This is part of the special spaciousness that got the ‘this is a headphone album’ warning on the back of the CD. The album was originally planned as an LP with a different cover, now the black and white part of the booklet of the CD.

Around this time we had a short association with Dave Prescott, an analog synth wizard who ended up recording with German pioneers like Conny Plank. Dave played with Alien Planetscapes for a brief time around this period as well. He did three gigs with us in the Boston area.

The band developed a following in Unity College Maine around this time, and played several Earth Day festivals up there, spreading our madness North. People up there were drawn in by our lengthy cover of Tangerine Dream’s Ricochet, a staple of the set along with Sonic Attack for a long while.

The news of an imminent Hawkwind US tour, their first since 1978, gripped the band in 1989. We decided to make a full on assault on the club in Somerville to get the opening slot. Bill used his company’s assets to print up a few one-off professionally book-bound presskits, giving the impression of a well organized and professional band. This worked and we threw ArcMet’s madness into the Hawkwind crowd, spreading the word a bit further. (This show is the one where Brock allowed me to do the lead vocal on the speech Welcome to the Future as part of Hawkwind’s encore.) This was ArcMet’s first huge Boston show.

The band at this time consisted of Bill on guitar, Chris Green on guitar, Paul on synths, Dave on percussion and samples, Deb on percussion and space whispers and Chris Mogan on bongos and percussion.

Several more opening slots for Hawkwind in Boston (the Channel) and NYC garnered more attention from college radio and the underground space rock scene. Job commitments left Bill unable to play many shows, and he left guitar duties to Chris Green. The band was now essentially a trio – Paul, Chris and Deb. A Roland Sampler, Crumar Trilogy and Roland jx3p were added to the SH101 as the Arp Odyssey was retired. This was in an attempt to beef up the sound of the trio. Gigs at UMass started around this time. Chris also had commitments and became unavailable for some shows, so there was a need to find a replacement guitarist that would enable Chris to play whenever he could, and give the band a permanent and dependable guitarist.
This ends the tale of ArcMet version one, the sextet.

ArcMet: Version Two
It was around this time we became aware of F/i, a Midwest space rock band, and Alien Planetscapes from NYC. Being aware of like minded, yet vastly different sounding bands was encouraging. Spacemen 3’s roadies formed a band called Loop around this time, and there was a sense that a small groundswell in the space rock scene could be happening. Through Chris Bruce, we managed to cross paths with Doug Walker of Alien Planetscapes, the self-proclaimed ‘only Black Man in Space Rock’. Doug could smoke prodigious amounts of weed and was a tireless self promoter. His outfit had a constantly shifting membership as Doug sought the perfect band. He was the mainstay on electric synth saxophone and EMS synthi and VCS3 sound machines. His band released a ton of material on cassette.

We auditioned several guitarists that found our help wanted poster proclaiming our influences: Hawkwind, Gong, Ash Ra Tempel, Amon Düül 2, Pink Floyd, Ozric Tentacles, Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze… it was like a forty band list. Greg Kozlowski, who lived fairly far away in Rhode Island kind of freaked out. He auditioned, assured us that coming from RI to band practice would not be a problem, and ArcMet version two was born – Paul, Deb and Greg (and occasionally Chris Green). This is the version of the band that really got down to brass tacks and aligned the band with a more professional approach. We played the Loud Music Festival in Northampton, and were alternates at the CMJ festival in NYC, the major unsigned festival of the 90s, much like SXSW is today.

The new trio, occasionally augmented by Chris Green, worked nearly full time on the band. One of our first major gigs with the new line up was opening for Ozric Tentacles in Allston at the former Bunrattys, Local 186. The band was greeted by the promoter as we pulled up on the street to tell us that the Ozrics would not be having any opening bands at all on their debut US tour due to space limitations onstage, and he had made a mistake. Negotiations inside were fruitless, until I decided to start at the bottom of the food chain, and spoke with the Ozrics roadie. I indicated that if he was willing to move two monitor wedge speakers onstage a bit, we could squeak our trio in between the large synth rigs of Ed and Joie. He agreed, and we proceeded to set up, to the amazement of the house manager and Ozrics manager as well. “How the hell did you do that?” (In a side note, one of our fans, without any permission had plugged his tape deck into Ozrics personal soundboard that they had floated over the ocean and was the size of a Volkswagen. It blew the fuses out in half of it causing the Ozric manager to throw a fit of Vesuvian proportions. He tried to throw us off the bill, but was later convinced we had no control over our semi-psychotic fans and it was only a fuse easily fixed.) We ended up as the only opening act on their first tour. Someone spilled a pitcher of beer by mistake into my prized Ensoniq Mirage sampler, killing it stone dead at this show.

Gigs and opening slots proliferated. We did several shows in NYC at the Wetlands, opening for Hawkwind and the Legendary Pink Dots in 1994-95. We also did several shows at CBGBs, the club/toilet/legend in the Bowery. In Boston we did many shows at the Rat in Kenmore Square, a fading hotbed of punk and cutting edge music. We recorded the song Brainticket there live, and this was one of the two songs on Odysseum Galacti featuring Greg. We played with the Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black there. Other highlights of that era included opening for Gong at what is now the House of Blues in Boston, and Alan Holdsworth in Northampton. Northampton, Mass became our base of operations and was a burgeoning rock hot spot that was getting some press buzz as the next ‘Seattle’. A show with Pere Ubu in Northampton brought us the beginnings of a post punk crossover audience. We frequently played the Baystate Hotel, the center of action in Northampton with many up and coming punk tinged bands – The Unband, New Radiant Storm King, Scud Mtn Boys, Sons of the Corporate Dog (a band made up of members who had been kicked out of Dinosaur Jr at some point). We did a free festival on Amherst Common with five other bands and recorded In Between Dunes there, the second song on Odysseum Galacti to feature Greg. This all happened in 1994-95.

The Odysseum Galacti CD was finally released in 1995 and made many college radio playlists across the country, as chronicled in the CMJ (college music journal) industry magazine. More gigs in NYC and Boston solidified a following for a band with what could only loosely be considered songs as their repertoire. We were more intent on creating a ‘vibe’ in our shows.

A second album was recorded with our newly written material, and we were signed to Black Widow in Italy. They released Creature From the Velvet Void on CD and on lavish gatefold vinyl, with an enclosed poster. Fantastic job they did. They also commissioned us to go into the studio to record a song for their amazing Not Of This World 4-CD tribute to sci-fi movies and books. Again, a very high production standard and amazing package. The Maker, our tribute to Dune, made its only studio appearance on this release. This gave us some exposure in Europe and press in Milan and Genoa. Discussions of an Italian tour sadly broke down before being finalized.

Another break came with the release of Space Box: 1970 and Beyond-Space, Krautrock and Acid Trips on Cleopatra. A 3-CD set featuring the legends of space rock – Hawkwind, Gong, Amon Düül II, Guru Guru, Cluster, Faust… it also included new space rock bands including Alien Planetscapes and… Architectural Metaphor. This national exposure led to participation on the King Crimson tribute Schizoid Dimension and Genesis tribute CDs in 1998 and 1999 on Cleopatra/Purple Pyramid. National magazines began to notice us and name-check us in reviews and articles. And then, the Strange Daze festival loomed on the horizon, the first ‘Gathering of the Tribes’ of American space rock bands…

The Strange Daze Festival put together by Jim Lascko in 1997 was an amazing event. The cream of US space rock bands gathered in Western NY for America’s first space rock festival. (Nicely documented on the two CD Pangea Music release.) It was amazing to meet and hang out with members of Alien Planetscapes, F/i, ST37, Nucleon, Red Giant, Melting Euphoria, Farflung, Quarkspace, and Born to Go, along with Hawkwind and Nik Turner. This was a groundbreaking meeting of the minds, with the tunes and the vintage gear to not be believed in its weekend long array. This was the best of the festivals, and many there were as amazed as we were at the array of bands, instruments, and ideas from all over the country. A true gathering of the like minded.

We were part of the Orion space rock festival in Baltimore after the first Strange Daze. Fantastic light show at that one I remember. The space rock scene seemed to be expanding and so did our horizons.

The 1998 Strange Daze festival moved to Ohio. We played the night before at the Wetlands, NYC, and someone had thrown a paving stone through my side window, stealing CDs, all of my stage costumes, but fortunately all of the instruments were still in the club. With no window and uncertain weather ahead, we decided to return to Northampton for a fresh vehicle, which made us miss our time slot on the opening day of the festival. We ended up playing on Sunday afternoon and played a decent set on an extremely hot day. I remember this being one of the hottest stage temperatures the band had experienced. We brought with us the very limited CD Strange Daze ’98, which consisted of studio recordings made in 1997. This album featured Amy Risley as vocalist on two songs in addition to Deb Young. This is the first appearance of the Temple Song, now released on our current 2013 album, Everything You Know is Wrong.

A tour in 2000 brought us farther than we ever had gone before. Quarkstock 2000 in Columbus, Ohio yielded the small release CD Viva, which contains the whole show, minus the Tangerine Dream cover Ricochet. It did have our full length version of Pink Floyd’s Echoes, no mean feat for a trio. Shows in Chicago and Cleveland around this time exposed us to the Midwest. The Strange Daze 2000 show found us in the Cannabis tent, not the main stage. Band tensions had grown on this tour, and Deb was having difficulties within the band. A couple of near dust ups before the show ensured adrenaline was high, and we introduced some newer poppier songs, but the mighty Kairos showed what we were still capable of for space rock. At the end of this tour, Deb exited and was replaced by Murph of Dinosaur Jr fame, launching ArcMet again as a trio, but this time an instrumental trio. Thus ends the tale of ArcMet version 2, Paul, Greg and Deb.

The latest Architectural Metaphor CD is Everything You Know Is Wrong, which though released this year was recorded some years ago and the band have not been active for a while. The CD is available by emailing Paul Eggleston at CLICK HERE to read the review published in Aural Innovations.

Paul shared a load of Architectural Metaphor history – Photos, newsletters, gig flyers and more, all of which I’ve made available in a photo gallery. Big thanks to Paul for sharing all these goodies. CLICK HERE to check it out.

By Jerry Kranitz

The Legendary Pink Dots – “The Curse Of Marie Antoinette” (Rustblade label picture disc 12″ LP ltd. 299 copies, # RBLLP001, September 2013) / “Code Noir” (Beta Lactam Ring Records label October 2013, ltd. 2013 US tour CD, # mt282a)

Hot on the heels of Chemical Playschool 15, Taos Hum and The Gethsemane Option full length LPD albums already released in 2013, The Dotz put out two more Herculean “Labours” of “Love” in their 33rd year of existence in Vinyl only format and a limited autumn USA tour CD on two more different labels. The ever productive band have already since last June released two CD’s, one download and one Vinyl only on three separate labels in blinding speed, so if you missed any of these you might have to get going and download them from their Bandcamp page or pay high collector’s prices. Namely the proper CD on Metropolis Records last June (The Gethsemane Option, which I reviewed here in AI last August and is still availible on CD), the download only Taos Hum from last spring, Chemical Playschool 15 CD in early 2013, and The Curse Of Marie Antoinette extremely limited pressing in 299 copies only, a 12″ picture LP last September, the latter two both on the Rustblade label, while lastly their Code Noir CD in very limited pressings on the Beta Lactam Ring Records label, just now last month in October when the Dotz were sweeping across the American continent coast to coast on tour to the always welcoming American Skinny Puppy based fans (a band they seem to share a large US fanbase with partially due to lots of interaction between the two as the band Tear Garden, of which there are words of a reunion). I actually ordered a copy of Code Noir directly from Phil “The Silverman” Knight in the band via an email some months ago, and he kindly advance posted me a CD I never paid for the same day BLRR posted out the copy I bought on eBay for 20 dollars. So now I need to pay Phil and “sit on” my other copy and sell it at an inflated price next year on eBay, cause I am not bothering with return postage, hehe, its like the Dots chopshop is going through the roof on these for collectors.

Kollekting Business aside, the picture LP looks really cool with the different art on each side of the vinyl, with the tracklisting printed on the LP groove on the B-side. And the music? It opens with the title track, The Curse Of Marie Antoinette, a melodic and melancholic Dots tune in the vein of their oft played signature from the early 90s, Princess Coldheart. It is a good pop song with lyrics about someone’s first meeting with Marie Antoinette and how it ends in tragedy. Two more tracks follow on side A, namely Something’s Burning and Hallucination 33. On side B we have three more tracks, Catwalk, Ballerina On A Rice Paper Leaf and Ghost Of A Summer To Come. Some tracks are melodic, some kind of stretched out and hallucinatory with low piano, and some with weird distorted techno beats and spoken lyrics by Edward Ka-Spel fading in and out. Catwalk and Ghost Of A Summer To Come are quite memorable yet very subtle observations in deep Dots-like ethereal inner workings style psychology, the latter track about a family picnic and a ghost of a drowned woman and mischievious hauntings or something alluring to a Poltergeist. It is a very cryptic and strange record overall, really. Edward seems to tell stories more than sing on these tracks. It is a very likeable record too, actually, in a subtle way. I like it. It is very floating and spacey and psychedelic, but lacks focus alot of times like the Chemical Playschool 15 CD, stylistically sounding anyway, but more coherent with more sensible lyrics… “And I wish we’d never met, Marie Antoinette”, as the final lyric of the title track ends! The LP is about 46 minutes long.

So now then, that that haunting and ethereal record is behind me, it is very heady stuff, maybe it owes more to early 90s dreampop and shoegazer ala Pale Saints, or The Boo Radleys than anything the Dots have experimented with beforehand. On to Code Noir then, a CD with seven tracks, overall a similar ride to The Curse Of Marie Antoinette in the same way it is very different than Taos Hum and The Gethsemane Option albums. I am not sure I “get it” what the lyrics hint at, mostly about being lost and confused and poor and desperate, with something about people speaking Cantonese on the opener called Six Easy Lessons. Must have some of Edward’s opium stash then! I know he is a smoking Chinaman in Hell! Cloud 6 follows and opens with an airy piano much like on Ghost Of A Summer Yet To Come. The lyrics here are surreal and personal and I get the idea the band are attempting a new “artsy” style on these two records, with echoey voices fading in and out. Spare Change is the third track, “empty my pockets with crumbs and coins”… something lyric something… “treasure of treasures for you to find…”, really, I knew the Dots used to be poor and lived in squats on breadcrumbs and begging at train stations, but this is enigmatically mysterious. I don’t like this track much. Nor do I care for the following track, Life Is Hard And Then…, which is equally droning and low key with lyrics about more desperation or poverty of sorts. Ascension 3 follows and is a variation from their Seconds Late For The Brighton Line 2010 LP track, Ascension Day, again with piano intro, but it picks up a groove in a Krautrock motorik guitar way, very NEU!-ish (The Dots covered Super on a NEU! tribute in the 90’s and in a live concert setting they totally jam out and drone on krautrock themes, ever since Erik Drost replaced Martijn DeKleer on guitar in 2010). After this, the song Testing 1-2-3 follows, with more convoluted mysterious lyrics that leave me cold. Two Steps Beyond opens with a whispered sinister “Here I come..” and some piano again, echoey and weird and dreamy. I find Code Noir to be too abstract and unfocused like the Chemical Playschool 15 album which I slagged so badly last winter here at Aural Innovations. I really find little meat on the bone on Code Noir compared to the Marie Antoinette LP which is beautiful and haunting with its stylish dreampop and ethereal spoken ghost stories. The two releases are definitly related, but I find the former album much more satisfying. Being seemingly only for die hard fans, this Code Noir disc, I shall file under “I am all confused now, I want my Candycane Underwear and Fly my Doodybirdpropeller” and then I will “Trip the Light Fantastic at The Terminal Kaleidoscope and await Nuclear Holocaust and ascend like a battling Arch-Angel anno 2014 in Dots world Agape at the New Melting Dreampop Flashback Propellerhead Dawn to follow”. Its just out to be bizarre and weird and geeky and convoluted, and not very good I am afraid. Now go and download the Marie Antoinette LP which is very nice, and don’t bother with Code Noir unless you want that one Krautrock track which is really the only good track on there in my opinion. The rest is Chinese to me, sorry Edward, I have no clue what goes on in your lyrics most of the time these days.

Visit the Legendary Pink Dots web site at:
Visit the Rustblade web site at:
Visit the Beta Lactam Ring Records web site at:
CLICK HERE to stream and download Code Noir
CLICK HERE to stream and download Marie Antoinette

Reviewed by Christian Mumford

Monster Magnet – “Last Patrol” (Napalm Records 2013, NPR490)

I’ve followed Monster Magnet through thick and thin since the Glitterhouse label releases in 1990-91, their earliest records were so original for the “grunge era” as they owed more to The Stooges and early Hawkwind than the Pearl Jams and the Alice In Chainses and the Smashing Pumpkinses of that short lived era roughly 1987-1995. Monster Magnet’s most successful record, at least creatively, of that era may be the ultra cosmic Dopes To Infinity album in 1995, along with their earlier material on Glitterhouse and A&M, which all is stellar, but with Dopes they really pulled out all the stops. At the height of my Monster Magnet fandom I was doing as much drugs as Dave Wyndorf did in his time, if not more and attended art school in his home state of New Jersey in the first half of the 90s where I had my first LSD trips, my first lay (with a local stripper with a Danzig logo tattooed over her butt, wahey!) and my first professional art job inking Marvel artist Duncan Rouleau for a small independent publisher who rode the coat tails of gritty and dark 90s violent “alternative” comics wave. So there you go, New Jersey, Strippers, LSD, Hawkwind (I’d been into Hawkwind since 1988) and grade-B Marvel comix jobs. So I identified with all the stuff Wyndorf “preached” and then some. Our own druggy cult of LSD dropping stoners at art school would gather around the lava lamp or trip in the strobelight to Donovan, Hawkwind, Skinny Puppy, Sun Dial, Monster Magnet, Negativland and Syd Barrett CDs and toke up and chomp on a 1/8th bag of dried mushrooms each and we would be like the “bad guys” or the “dudes”. We had strong bonds in those heady Art student days.

Now that I am almost 42 I have not taken LSD or harder drugs (we used to play card games for cocaine) in nearly 20 years and it has been almost five years since someone passed me a joint. So I am sure Dave Wyndorf, having reached middle age and beyond, like me has “mellowed out” and stopped getting high all the friggin time, and frankly it shows on his post-Millenial output which has been patchy. The Monolithic Baby! album from 2004 spoke directly to me much like the glammed up Powertrip” release (1998, I even reviewed it for Aural Innovations back then) as if Dave was talking to somoeone in his lyrics, a misguided stoner or slacker, or a two bit punk. It’s been a long strange “trip” of personal redneck gibberish debriefing comic book commie-kid type talks, as if I were R. Crumb on Mars getting a lobotomy, I have often felt like it was me he was hassling in his heyday like “I’m a mean piece of stoner”. “Hey Christian, you friggin madman, we all look real overfed! Suckin on yer daddy’s cigar!” Etc. Etc.

The last album, being Mastermind, from 2010, was not bad at all really, and now to Last Patrol, the newest offering here in 2013. After 25 years I am not sure Dave knows who or what he is “talking to”. Its not like he is Kurt Cobain on Nevermind or anything, he is not being my private telepathic junkie-psychologist like Kurt seemed to be. Wyndorf has always been a little bit of an enemy to some of my ideals or reasons for doing stuff, like he “tells me” on his records (I’m nuts for saying this, but then again, we are all Gods here at AI towers, so we take exceptions.). But now, I am all grown up now, and wiser than I was in 1990. The two best songs on Last Patrol are The Mindless Ones an old-school Monster Magnet psych out, in loving style we want more of! The bonus track Strobe Ligh Beat Down is an upbeat garage rocker which Monster Magnet do so well, which I enjoyed alot. Otherwise this new offering is pretty uninspired on the rest of the album. One song is a cover of a Donovan song I am unfamiliar with called Three Kingfishers, which is kind of unusual for this band, but enjoyable. I like to compare Last Patrol to the band’s arguable nadir from 2007 Four Way Diablo. It is seemingly mostly uninspired, downbeat and negative sounding. No massive freakouts or drug addled bubblegum comic book references, just Dave singing to this and that yakketyak “someone” he lost track of all those years ago. He likes to say in interviews it is about ex-girlfriends so I guess he has alot of those. I guess rock stars get groupies, artists get none. I give this album a 6 out of 10, it really is pale in comparison to their 90s output or even Monolithic and Mastermind. Bummer. Dave Wyndorf has burned out a long time ago anyway, so I wasn’t expecting genius like Spine or Dopes or Monolithic anyway, so I’ll just leave it at that. I am underwhelmed a little. Buy it if you “follow Wyndorf” but DON’T buy it if you think you are getting some sort of Psychedelic freakout. Sorry.

For more information visit the Monster Magnet web site at:
Visit the Napalm Records web site at:

Reviewed by Christian Mumford

Book of Shadows – “Velvet Rut In The Violet Crown” (Ram Horn Records 2013, REORH #041, Cassette)

The latest from Austin, Texas based Book of Shadows is a cassette album jammed packed with well over 80 minutes of music. For this outing we have founders Sharon Crutcher on vocals and acoustic guitar and Carlton Crutcher on keys, aided by BOS regulars Jason Zenmoth on guitar, electronics, recorder and drill, Aaron Bennack on guitar and recorder, Jonathan Horne on guitar and trumpet, and Douglas Ferguson on guitar, bass and electronics.

Side A opens with Ormazd Pt 1, which leaps out guns a blazin’ with dual caterwauling noise guitars and electronics. After a while the guitars transition to a calmer sort of Robert Fripp angst-distortion mode, and as the bass joins in I briefly sense a bit of a mid-70s King Crimson-ish feel, though the overall vibe is very much freeform exploratory sound and atmosphere creation. Around 10 minutes in there’s a dark and moody atmospheric segment that has a narrative feel, but just as this is starting to flow nicely we’re thrust back into the opening theme with the avant-noise guitars flailing about. As this 25 minute piece comes to a close things quiet down considerably, leading into Pt 2, and as the guitar starts to strum we get a cool grooving melody, surrounded by rumbling soundscapes and culminating in an interesting avant-rocker.

Neither Past Nor Future is next and features Sharon playing a dreamy folk-psych melody, and I really dig the contrast with the spacey, noisy soundscapes and effects that are dancing about and whizzing by. Elementals is a relatively short track that closes Side A of the tape, being an eerie, howling atmospheric piece with the first vocals I’ve heard from Sharon yet on this set. I’m writing this the morning after Halloween and the mood really fits. But just as the music gets going it comes to an end. I wish this one been developed into something lengthier.

Side B kicks off with Marching To The 8 Mysteries, which is a deceptively complex floating, hypnotic, spaced out soundscape piece. I like the way we’re lulled along by the melody as various effects drift and/or rush by (and rush backwards). Sharon’s vocals sail along like an angel-witch in the background, and there’s just a wee bit of noise-scape to inject a gentle edginess to the music. There’s a lot going on here and it all flows beautifully. This is the kind of music you can close your eyes and drift along to, but if you listen attentively there’s a huge palette of sound and effects to appreciate. Seventh Ray returns to avant-garde mode, though it’s not as directionless as I felt some of the stuff on Side A was. Once again BOS keep things interesting with their flair for melody and noisy sounds/effects combination, and Sharon’s subtle vocal effects, along with the trumpet, build on the color and character of the piece. Karnak is a minimal and sometimes harsh avant-space-soundscape excursion. Suspended Animation is dominated by dense electronics, Sharon’s banshee vocals, and a tension laden melody, though later transitioning to pure meditative ambience. Finally, the appropriately titled Sing Song is precisely that… a SONG, with Sharon once again on acoustic guitar and vocals with actual lyrics. This is a beautifully haunting bit of pagan/wryd folk-psych and something quite different for BOS.

In summary, there’s a lot of variety on Velvet Rut In The Violet Crown. The album has some of the most avant-experimental music I’ve heard from BOS, and not all of it worked for me on Side A. But the band really shine for much of Side B.

For more information email Carlton at:
Ram Horn Records has a page at discogs but it’s really just a listing of their releases:

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz