Archive for November 3, 2013

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

Earthling Society – Interview with Fred Laird

I last interviewed Fred Laird in 2006 when Earthling Society had released their second album, Plastic Jesus + the Third Eye Blind (CLICK HERE to read that interview). Since then the band have released five more full length albums, had a 7″ single out on the Fruits de Mer Records label, and contributed to several Fruits de Mer compilations. With each new release the band demonstrate that they remain on the cutting edge of the contemporary space rock/psychedelic axis. In the following interview, we discuss all the albums since Plastic Jesus, and bring the world up to date on all things Earthling Society since we last chatted in 2006.

CLICK HERE to visit the Aural Innovations Space Rock Radio page where I’ve posted an all Earthling Society radio special to listen to while you read the interview. Scroll down to show #318.

Aural Innovations (AI): Let’s pick up from where we left off in 2006 and work our way through the catalog. While listening to the third album, Tears of Andromeda-Black Sails Against The Sky, I was reminded of the band’s original mission statement that Earthling Society formed with the intention of creating music influenced by their heroes Funkadelic, Ash Ra Tempel, Can, Amon Düül II and Hawkwind. The album has the variety that I think has become an Earthling Society trademark through the years. You manage to cover a lot of ground while somehow remaining cohesively and distinctly Earthling Society. Wromg gets into a Neu!-ish groove. Black County Sorcerer is a floaty dreamy song. Lucifer Starlight goes into distinctly Amon Düül II Yeti territory. A Song For John Donne is totally spaced out psychedelic trippy. And the title track is a 20 minute Space/Psych/Prog jam.

Fred Laird (FL): Yes, no matter who we try to sound like we always end up sounding like Earthling Society; which I suppose is a good thing, although I do find us to be a bit of a curate’s egg to some people. Maybe because they can’t attach a specific tag to us. To me, Hawkwind, Funkadelic, Can, 13th Floor Elevators, and AD2 all fall under psychedelia and not spacerock, krautrock, acid rock. If it’s trippy and out there whether a pop song or a long jam then it’s psychedelia right?

AI: Beauty And The Beast is the most SONG oriented of all Earthling Society albums, though there’s still plenty of deep space-psych rocking. You’ve got alien pop-psych. A couple songs reminded me of a psychedelic take on the 60s band The Association. Parts of A Modest Flower have a Beatles feel. You really went into some different territory on that album.

FL: We just got signed to 4zero and we felt we had to do something a bit different. A lot of those songs were old, going back 10 or more years, stuff I had written in my previous band. I had this urge at the time to do a Moody Blues thing or that soul medley in ‘A Wizard A True Star’, were there were these nice pop standards that sounded like they were recorded in space. A utopian feel.

AI: I like how Beauty And The Beast opens with Drowned World, which has fascinating contrasting elements occurring at once. The odd rhythms and piano add a sort of avant-garde element, but at the same time you’ve got ripping psych guitar and spaced out atmospherics and effects. It’s very intense and disorienting. And THEN you follow it with the Country-ish Candlemass, which is a complete shock. Thinking about that makes me wonder what kind of thought goes into the order of the tracks on Earthling Society albums?

FL: Jon (drummer) wrote the bass line to Drowned World. Well he can’t play bass but he’s the greatest drummer and it’s the odd rhythm that he brings to the song. Kevy Canavan played some wonderful Aladdin Sane style piano on that which I think is the best bit of keyboard playing commited to a ES release. I used this old Teisco guitar that would do a little whistle between each chord, but the noise would send a signal down the mic to the 24trk and cause it to stop. It was a great song to record and is still one of my favourites. It’s definately on the VU meter. Candlemass came directly after it to show the transition from ‘Tears..’ to Beauty And The Beast as the opening track is more reminiscent of the former. But yeah, it’s a kind of WTF moment. I still think if some mainstream country pop act or whatever did a version of it, it would make me a lot of money… ha ha. Sadly, although we started to get reviews in the mainstream monthly magazines with Beauty And The Beast, it met a lot of indifference. It’s a strange one really as it’s retro but it sounds like Earthling Society; not just a band that thinks to be psychedelic they have to wear a nehru suit and play a vox phantom.

AI: On the longer Earthling Society tracks, of which there are many, you guys really do a good job of transitioning through multiple musical themes. This really stands out on the next album, Sci-Fi Hi-Fi. There are several examples on the album but I’ll single out the 20 minute E.V.I.L.U.S.A. It’s got some of the most high intensity rock I’ve heard from you guys, but it’s also got pastoral elements, classic Prog elements, and the finale is like a combination of old time sci-fi TV show theme and spaced out disco! That may sound all over the map to someone who hasn’t heard it but it all comes together seamlessly. How does Earthling society create tracks like that? Is it a combination of improv and composition?

FL: Well when I write a long song like that I try to keep the same chords for each piece, simple as that really. All I do is change the style of the song to reflect the mood. I really can’t be doing with music that has one chord going on for 30 minutes while the guitarist tries out his 30 pedals, so I’ve always worked with the ethic of changing the mood and style to keep one interested. I think we were really lucky to get away with that ending to E.V.I.L. It’s borderline kitsch. The keyboards are that bad they are almost taking the piss!!

AI: Tell me more about the topic that E.V.I.L.U.S.A. is addressing. The lyrics stand out… “Can you feel the evil of America”.

FL: I was reading the book ‘Shadow over Santa Susana’ by Adam Gorightly about Charles Manson, MK Ultra, the smuggling of nazi war criminals into the US like Josef Mengele, operation paperclip, that kind of thing. It’s about the darkness that lays beneath the American government and the CIA. How Charles Manson and Sirhan Sirhan, Lee Harvey Oswald could be linked in a Manchurian Candidate kind of way. Well that’s what the song is about…

AI: Is it safe to assume that Temple ov Flaming Youth is a play on Genesis P. Orridge and Temple ov Psychick Youth? That’s an interesting reference for Earthling Society.

FL: It’s a nod to Psychic T.V and Kiss. The reason for the latter is that when I was recording the melody I kept on singing ‘Flaming youth’ over the top messing around. Not sure where the PTV reference came from!!

AI: One of the things that struck me about the next album, Stations Of The Ghost, is the strong presence of acoustic guitar. The Last Hurrah starts off sort of space-folky with a Country-ish vibe. Child Of The Harvest has a strong acoustic element, though across its 14 minutes it goes in a variety of directions. I love the combination of acoustic guitar, ripping electric guitar and atmospherics on The Halloween Tree. Even Night Of The Scarecrow, with its Stoner space riff rock, includes strumming acoustic guitar space-folk passages.

FL: I think the acoustic guitar is a very important instrument to use in colouring songs. Something that struck me years ago when listening to ‘Forever changes’. It gives a power and reinforcement to the songs. It also gave the album a kind of rustic vibe like those early 70’s bands like Mighty Baby. It suits the mood of the album which is very Autumnal.

AI: Your latest album is Zodiak. When Nasoni first released it on vinyl, other than the brief Silver Phase, this album was all about side long jamming epics. Was that just the mood you were in at the time?

FL: I don’t know. We just replaced our bass player Luis Gutarra who was on SOTG with Kim Allen. Luis is a very good but busy bass player that suited the tracks he played on. But the problem was playing live was not an enjoyable experience. The songs were like playing maths, it was horrible. So I wanted to strip it back and Luis’ playing style was not suitable. I wanted to enjoy playing live again and Kim was the perfect remedy. The whole album was written, rehearsed and recorded within 6 weeks on and off. SOTG took over 12 friggin’ months!!! It was like a reborn ES. We were listening to QSMS ‘Happy Trails’ and Live/Dead at the time. It was like the psychic playing that you hear about in the Can stories of how they read each other’s minds during rehearsals. It just came together in a very connected way.

AI: Tell me about the themes of those two lengthy tracks, Zodiak and The Astral Traveller. The music on Zodiak has lots of great rocking grooves and really feels good. But pay attention to the lyrics and you realize how disturbing the subject matter is. It starts with “I need a witness. To document my sickness”, and ends with “Jesus can’t save me. A shadow baits me. I hate all human kind”. I assumed this is about the Zodiak killer who terrified northern California in the 60s-70s. Ditto for The Astral Traveller. Like the title track the music feels great but has lyrics that are more akin to doom metal, like “Oh my darkly sweet, sweet Satan. I kiss your hoof”.

FL: I think there’s this notion especially in doom metal and Goth that a serial killer must dress in black, wear makeup and listen to NIN’s all the time or Electric Wizard. I find it quite cliched. I think the serial killer is having a jolly old time on his killing spree and is probably tuning into some nice country channel or putting on the best of the Carpenters into his stereo cassette player. Zodiak was more about ‘Henry Lee Lucas’. When he was arrested he told the Sheriff, “I done some real bad things”. That’s what the theme started from, that one sentence. As for Astral Traveller, well I just thought it had that mournful empty sound, but it’s hard to really explain. There’s a melancholy to the track that somehow explains the loneliness of the occultist’s main goal. Now that actually sounds very pretentious!!

AI: When 4 Zero reissued Zodiak on CD you had several additional tracks, plus the title track had several minutes tacked on. Would you have preferred the Nasoni release to have been a double LP set?

FL: No, the aim was to make two seperate albums, although some people think the album more complete without the extra tracks. Can I just expalin that Silver Phase is on the CD release. All that track was was the final few minutes of Zodiak faded in and out. So the Zodiak on the CD is both the title track and Silver Phase combined.

AI: Is Nasoni only doing vinyl now? For a long time all their releases came in black vinyl, a limited number of colored vinyl, and CD.

FL: Not sure really Jerry. They only offered us a vinyl release which we was happy with.

AI: 4 Zero released the Moon of Ostara album last year, which was a Fred Laird solo project. I liked the space rock with ambience and electronica with a dash of Berlin school and some Manual Gottsching styled guitar. How did Moon of Ostara come about as something separate from Earthling Society?

FL: Well we finished SOTG and I was getting very frustrated with the band at that point. the gigs as mentioned earlier were crap, the band wasn’t connecting as a unit and quite frankly the wrong people were on board. I just needed to do something on my own, secretly hoping I could jack it all in and go solo but having Jon (Drums) come along too. I was listening to a lot of Manual Gottsching and the first 5/4 Eno albums and just went for it. It came together very quickly. However, I didn’t realise that ES was a bigger beast than I thought and that I just couldn’t walk away from it.

AI: As of Beauty And The Beast I see that the band was still the original trio of Fred Laird, David Fyall and Jon Blacow, plus a different keyboardist. I don’t have credits for Stations Of The Ghost but see on Zodiak you have a new bass player and you and Neil “Vert:x” Whitehead share keyboard/synth duties. Neil has been posting about Earthling Society shows on Facebook. Is he a member of the band now? I believe I saw him post that Vert:x had come to an end now.

FL: Dave (Fyall) left the band during Beauty and the Beast. He played on one track and before that on Black Country Sorceror on Tears of Andromeda. His last FULL album was Plastic Jesus. He had a lot of personal demons at that time and he moved away. I believe he’s ok now which makes me happy. Sadly we haven’t been in contact for over 4 years. Neil (Vertx) is our main guy on keys now. I always wanted to be a guitar driven band with the keys/noises in the background, but Jon with his progressive background always wanted a ‘proper’ keyboardist. That issue has been resolved now and I think the line-up we currently have is the best, if not better than the line-up around 2007 and Roadburn.

As for Vertx, I think it’s just sleeping…

AI: You’ve made several contributions to Fruits de Mer Records compilations and even had an Earthling Society single on the label. There were some interesting and varied covers you did. Fleetwood Mac’s Green Manalishi, Amon Düül’s Paramechanical World, The Chocolate Watch Band, and The James Taylor Move which I’d never heard of before. How were the cover choices made, or are they assigned to you?

FL: No, we made the choices and FDM just say yay or nay. The James Taylor move was requested to us from long time friend Jules Normington who used to be Radio Birdman’s manager. He has a wealth of musical knowledge which is quite staggering.

AI: I liked your contributions to Fruits de Mer’s Strange Fish series. You were on Strange Fish three, the theme of which was “Kosmiche/Motorik/Sequencer/Neu!/Schulze influenced music.” The first two shorter tracks had a nice spacey cinematic quality. And Kiss Of The Vampire was like Motorik Klaus Schulze, but then goes off into a trippy dreamy acoustic psychedelic segment.

FL: To be honest I wasnt sure about it. It’s ok. I actually thought it would get rejected but FDM really liked it. It’s had some great reviews, comparisons to Broadcast etc; I was surprised by the reaction.

AI: Have you been playing many live shows/festivals?

FL: A few festivals and the odd gig. We’ve been more busy than the previous couple of years but it’s still not enough. The genre is so small. Apparently there’s a psychedelic revival happening but we’ll probably miss the boat and get left behind on our little desert island. Nevermind. But yeah, we’d like more gigs and more festival please… anywhere… especially abroad!!

AI: Earthling Society formed in January 2004. So as we exchange our emails you’re coming up on your TENTH anniversary!

FL: Jeez I don’t know what to say about that. In 2004 it was just a happy little project. Happy near anniversary Jerry and thanks for your support all these years…

AI: Any current/upcoming projects or news to share?

FL: Yup look out for our next album ‘England have my bones’ in 2014. It might just be the album to bow out to….


Albion (2005)
Plastic Jesus And The Third Eye Blind (2006)
Tears Of Andromeda: Black Sails Agains The Sky (2007)
Beauty And The Beast (2008)
Sci-Fi Hi-Fi (2009)
Stations Of The Ghost (2011)
Zodiak (2012/2013)

Moon of Ostara – The Star Child (Fred Laird solo album)

Fruits de Mer Records contributions

2-song 7″ single (cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Green Manalishi” and The James Taylor Move’s “And I Heard The Fire Sing”)
Strange Fish 3 (3 originals)
The Crabs Freak Out (1 original)
Head Music (cover of Amon Duul’s “Paramechanical World”)
Sorrow’s Children: The Songs of S.F. Sorrow (cover of The Pretty Things’ “I See You”)
Keep Off The Grass (cover of The Chocolate Watch Band’s “Dark Side Of The Mushroom”)

For more information you can visit the Earthling Society web site at:

Interview with Fred Laird conducted by Jerry Kranitz

Mechanik – “Velut Stella Splendida” (R.A.I.G. 2013, R080, CD/Download)

After a few digital EPs and a contribution to the recent Fruits de Mer Records Strange Fish compilations, we have the first full length by Madrid, Spain based Mechanik. Velut Stella Splendida consists of newly composed tracks and newly recorded versions of tracks from their 2012 released EPs.

The album opens with Wherever You Are Is The Entry Point, a heavy driving acidic space rock instrumental with a minimalist, slowly developing pattern, and a principle melody that sounds like a sci-fi TV show theme. In The Faith That Looks Through Death is just as heavy rocking and includes haunting vocals and keys, pulsating space electronics, a cool throbbing bass line and guitar leads that sound like Robert Fripp gone acid rock. Pills is a schizophrenic tune that’s part bouncy dance rhythmic space rock song and part acid-demonic prog-psych. I really dig the contrasts and especially the manic alien freakout finale. De Tepenecz starts off very atmospheric, and when the vocals kick in the pace gradually picks up and a cool rolling groove takes over. This is a solid example of accessible song and DEEP space mind massage. Zum Traum is another hip shakin’ rhythmic space rocker that is adventurous yet accessible. I love the full band rocking finale with ripping psych guitar lead. BliSS & GloSS is a slowly drifting, acid-atmospheric tension laden song. Russian Doll has a similar effect, but slowly builds to a mucho intense psych-metallic rocker in the last couple minutes. I love the disorienting throb, white knuckled intensity, anguished vocals, and electronics that sound like alien beetles crawling down that back of your cranium on Inner Temple. And wrapping up the set we have the 23 minute Most People Were Silent. It starts off dreamily meditative, with a slow calming beat, howling soundscapes, trippy guitar melodies, Frippoid leads, astronaut voice samples, strolling space synths and a parade of sundry effects. Then around the halfway mark it settles into a minimal, hypnotic, and somewhat paralyzing electro pattern that carries through to the end.

In summary, there’s lots of variety on the album though not so much that Mechanik stray from a sense of cohesiveness. I especially like the tracks where the band create adventurous space rock that is also highly accessible, something I think can be a challenge to do. This will be a strong candidate for my best of 2013 list.

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Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Abunai! – “Universal Mind Decoder” (Krauted Mind Records 2013, 2-LP, originally released 1997)

Abunai! were a Boston area band who between 1997-2003 released three albums on CD and 2 vinyl EPs on the late great Tony Dale’s Camera Obscura label. Of the three full length albums, two were song based, and one (Round-Wound) consisted of all instrumental improvised space rock face melter jams. The Krauted Mind label (Germany) has reissued the band’s debut – Universal Mind Decoder – as a remastered double LP vinyl set in an edition of 500 (250 blue and 250 red), with two 1997 cassette demos as bonus tracks.

I liked Abunai! because they could write a good song, they could crank out a killer space-psych jam, and they could do both at the same time. The album opens with a voice calling, “Space assignment, rocket to the moon”!, and several of the tracks are loosely connected in this way. Cosmo Gun is a stoned and droned yet merrily melodic tune with searing acid-noise distortion guitar and soaring alien synths. This combination of psychedelia, space rock and cool grooving song is what I liked so much about Abunai! 77 Gaza Strip is similar but with a dark and dreary sense of foreboding. Opening with, “That’s a call from our secret agent on outer space patrol”, Inspiration is a bouncy, trippy pop-folk-acid-psych song. Calvary Cross consists of dreamy melodic folk-rock, with organ and distortion guitar. And then Gypsy Davy and Chromatic Moire go in very different directions, the former sounding like some traditional Celtic pub song with dirty rocking psych guitars, and Chromatic Moire being a quirky avant-rhythmic jam.

We’re also treated to two lengthy space-psych monsters. Quiet Storm is a 9 minute dreamy and steadily grooving song. The guitars are like a spaced out blend of the Bevis Frond and Neil Young, though there’s plenty of bubbly liquid psych guitar as well. Wrapping up with, “Looking through the windows of our rocket ship, we can see the Earth below. What wonderful things we see”, it leads into Dreaming Of Light, an instrumental that closed the original set. The music continually shifts gears, from flesh rending distortion guitar, to high powered stoned guitar and rocking psych solos. Add in the high powered organ and you’ve got 9 minutes of the heaviest rocking intensity of the set.

Fans of the jamming instrumental side of Abunai! will love the bonus tracks. Dropped From A Rocket is a totally spaced out, stoned yet trippy instrumental excursion with a cavernous sound. And the 17 minute epic Mirror of Galadriel / Drinks the Young Wine features more stoned jamming, this time with an Eastern ethic vibe, haunting keys and space electronics. About halfway through there’s some narration and the band transition to a slower paced dreamily stoned jam with a spaced out sense of drift and vocal chants.

VERY nice to see Krauted Mind reissue this gem. It would be great to see them work their way through the entire catalog, though all are available for digital download, and looking at the band’s Bandcamp site it seems there are still some vinyl copies of the Two Brothers vinyl EP left.

For more information about the Universal Mind Decoder reissue visit the Krauted Mind Records web site at:
Streaming and download of all Abunai! albums is available at:

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Hawkwind – “Spacehawks” (Eastworld/Plastichead, EW139CD, 2013, CD/LP)

Here is a nice little treat from Hawkwind. Imagine, Instead of being bludgeoned to death with 3 Hawkwind double albums in 3 years of varying quality – Blood Of The Earth (2010), Onward (2012), Stellar Variations (2012) – as well as a nice solo effort from Dave, Looking For Love In The Lost Land Of Dreams (2012), we get “the Best Of” this decade’s “three years on” summary of Hawk-activity on one disc from those four records, with several unheard studio and live tracks from this era, as well as remixes of tracks from those albums mentioned. Tracks from Warrior On The Edge Of Time (1975) are re-recorded by the current line up. Assault & Battery / Golden Void and Demented Man, and both are excellent. From In Search Of Space we get the Dave Brock solo-reworking of We Took The Wrong Step, from the Looking For Love In The Lost Land Of Dreams CD/LP, and Master Of The Universe, as well as a nightmarishly spoken Sonic Attack, all vintage EMI-era Hawkwind songs from the first half of the 70’s. Fan reaction has been generally positive, comparing “Spacehawks” to a latter day “Out & Intake” mayhap, or a “tour companion” CD for the botched US tour of Hawkwind playing the entire Warrior album for the Hawk-starved Americans over the pond. There are new tracks as well, like We Two Are One, Sacrosanct and Touch. There is little fat to trim on this collection, as it is thoughtfully compiled, so just imagine that… We get a remix of the vinyl only track from the Blood Of The Earth LP, the exclusive song Sunship, we get It’s All Lies from the Stellar Variations LP/CD, as well as a remix of Sentinel and Seasons from last year’s Onward LP/CD.

The core of Hawkwind old timers Dave Brock, Tim Blake, and Richard Chadwick are well augmented by more recent Space Cadets Mr. Dibs and Niall Hone, and Inner City Unit man Dead Fred on violin. It seems Hawkwind love the compilation format when it is geniune and not some sort of ripoff operation for fans and band alike, like all those dodgy comps we have seen in the past with the same stuff over and over again. Here we get some fresh stuff, remixes and rare tracks as well as reinterpreted 40 years on versions. It’s a lovely little record I recommend to all Hawkfans old and new, it is a treasure for old fans and might very well be a fine introduction to the band for those who never heard Hawkwind. It is also also availible on LP. Set forth and procure this item, as you most likely will not be panicking as it IS Hawkwind! It’s a 69 minute Hawk-conniseur tour de force. Achtung! Blast off into 2014 with the mighty “Spacehawks”!

Reviewed by Christian Mumford

Various Artists – “Shrunken Head Music” (Fruits de Mer Records 2013, Crustacean 43, 2 x 7″ vinyl)

In 2012, Fruits de Mer Records released an amazing 2-LP set called Head Music, which celebrated the 40th anniversary of the launch of the Brain label and consisted of contemporary artists covering music – both classic and obscure – from the pioneering German Krautrock bands. Long after Head Music was released the label continued to receive submissions for it and the new double 7″ Shrunken Head Music features four of the best.

To Another Universe was a track from Brainticket’s Celestial Ocean album, which is intense freakout for the first half and melodic oddity in the second half. Frobisher Neck, which is the solo project of UK based musician Tony Swettenham, takes the melodic oddity portion and, using Mellotron as his only instrument, creates a dreamy, exploratory, space excursion. Nice.

Black Tempest is another UK based solo project, this one by Stephen Bradbury. He takes Tangerine Dream’s Rubycon Part 1 and condenses it down to just under 6 minutes of Tangerine Dreamy electronica and avant-space noise.

Russian band Vespero take another shot at a Faust song, having covered Jennifer on last year’s 2013 Fruits de Mer Annual. This time they tackle J’ai Mal aux Dents, which for Faust was a quirkily strange combination of off-beat psychedelia and free-jazz. Vespero do a stellar job of laying down the core groove of the original and making the rest completely their own. It’s mostly the drumming that retains the free-jazz elements of the original, the rest being a space rock workout with bubbling, rocking and soaring guitars, plus colorful alien synths, flute and spoken word bits.

Ok, so Gong and Steve Hillage weren’t Krautrock bands. Brainticket technically weren’t either. Jay Tausig covers The Glorious Om Riff, which was originally the rocking and appropriately named RIFF portion of the song Master Builder, from Gong’s You album, which was recorded when Steve Hillage was still in the band and later recorded as The Glorious Om Riff on Hillage’s Green album. The promo sheet says Tausig tried to find a happy medium between the Gong and Hillage versions. Whatever. Jay kicks serious ASS, this being a monster high energy space-prog rocker.

The single will be available mid-November, and as usual this is vinyl ONLY, no CDs or downloads. If interested you better hurry because Fruits de Mer releases sell out QUICK!

For more information visit the Fruits de Mer Records web site at:

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz