Aural Innovations Staff Picks for Best of 2013

Happy New Year!!!

Jerry Kranitz (in NO particular order)

Census of Hallucinations – Coming Of The Unicorn
Few bands bring together space rock, psychedelia and progressive rock like Census of Hallucinations. They really do sound like no one else but themselves.

Papir meets Electric Moon – The Papermoon Sessions
Two bands that excel at taking off and exploring, get together and do so TOGETHER!

Nektar – Journey To The Centre Of The Eye (Purple Pyramid reissue of this 1971 classic)
Nektar – Remember The Future (Purple Pyramid reissue)

Authorized reissues of two CLASSICS from the 70s. Journey To The Centre Of The Eye does not get the credit it deserves as a pioneering space rock album (IMO), and RTF is just a damn good Prog-Psych concept album.

Brujas de Sol – Moonliner
Young band of space explorers with lots of promise from my town, Columbus, Ohio. They kick ass LIVE too.

Space Mirrors – The Other Gods
Alisa Coral has been astounding me with her talent and creativity for a decade now. She takes space rock to dark, and very different places.

Manikin Timeshark – A Trick In Time
An 11th hour entry to my list. Manikin Timeshark marry space rock with 80s styled UK neo-prog with killer results.

Telstar Sound Drone – Comedown
Heavily 60s influenced psychedelia but with heavy doses of space rock. Some of the members are also in Baby Woodrose and I described them in my review as like a cross between Baby Woodrose and Vibravoid.

Computerchemist – Signatures I & II
Another outstanding marriage of space rock and progressive rock. Here’s only one of the analogies I made in my review – “All together it’s like a blend of Rubycon/Phaedra era Tangerine Dream and Eloy at their spaciest, with Steve Hackett sitting in on guitar.”

Mooch – Stations Of The Sun
Steve Palmer’s Mooch sometimes detours into 60s influenced song territory. This is one of the song albums, though in this case the inspiration is “70s Folk/Rock/Progressive territory in the style of bands such as Renaissance”. With two incredible female vocalists, he succeeds with stunning results.

Permanent Clear Light – Beyond These Things
Outstanding and stylistically varied set from this Finnish trio. It’s got infectiously melodic pop-psych, orchestral folk-pop-psych, spaced out Beatles-esque songs, acid-prog, and more.

Earthling Society – ZodiaK
Over the past decade, Earthling Society have been building up an impressive body of work, including both lengthy explorations and songs. Their latest has some of their best side-long (in LP terms) epics to date.

Giöbia – Introducing Night Sound
An excellent set of spaced out psychedelia from this Greek band. Bouzouki, sitar, organ, tripped out ethnic stylings… In my review I made references to both Vibravoid and Purple Overdose.

Vespero – Droga
From Russia, Vespero are one of the most exciting instrumental bands on the contemporary space rock scene. They evolve from one album to the next, never sounding exactly the same. Their latest is a space-prog powerhouse. Here’s a line from review – “Imagine a cross between King Crimson, Djam Karet, Ozric Tentacles, and early Genesis, and you might get something like Droga.”

BLIM – Zero / No Frills
CD reissue of two cassette only releases from 1992-93. If you like Ozric Tentacles, Omnia Opera, or any of the 80s UK festie-psych bands, and you don’t know BLIM, your life in incomplete.

Nik Turner – Space Gypsy
With the help of an exceptional backing band, the man has still got it… ’nuff said.

Mechanik – Velut Stella Splendida
From Spain, Mechanik play heavy driving acidic space rock and prog-psych. One reference I made in my review is, “like Robert Fripp gone acid rock”.

Alpha Omega – Down The Gravity Well
From Australia, if you want Hawkwind styled space rock, you must check these guys out.

Lamp Of The Universe – Transcendence
New Zealand musician Craig Williamson creates some of the most psychedelically spaced out trippy music I’ve ever heard.

beyond-o-matic – Relations At The Borders Between
From San Francisco, I was tickled when Trail Records released the first album of new recordings by these guys since 1998. Rhythmic grooving space rock, stoned riffage, dreamy atmospheric space rock… these guys sound like no one else.

Jeff Fitzgerald

For the first time this year, I decided not to count down the albums to number one. Doing that, I feel, makes it seem like the albums earlier in the list are somehow not that good. But every album on here is excellent, and represents, in my opinion, the best of what came out this past year. So, in alphabetical order, the best 20 albums of 2013…

Acid Mothers Temple and the Cosmic Inferno – Doobie Wonderland
Funk meets psychedelia with a Japanese twist. Actually, a surprisingly mellow album from a band that has played some of the heaviest music ever recorded. Makoto uses similar guitar tones to the ones he used on Pink Lady Lemonade, to very melodic effect.

Cosmic Trip Machine – Golden Horus Name
Classic styled melodic psychedelia with a European vibe to it. Heavy, dreamy, exotic and beautiful.

Electric Sorcery – Book of Lies
A great collection of tunes from these Vermont psych rockers. A delicious 60’s/70’s vibe envelopes everything, with a touch of 90’s jam band groove thrown in for good measure.

Hedersleben – Upgoer
Hedersleben was Nik Turner’s back-up band on his North American tour (two of its members were also in his studio band). Krautrock rhythms, hazy atmospheres and Ummagumma style psychedelic freakouts. What more could you ask for?

Lamp of the Universe – Transcendence
New Zealander Craig Williamson returns with perhaps the heaviest Lamp album to date (heavy being pretty relative here, it’s not a return to his Datura stoner rock days). Dreamy, blissed out, Eastern inspired psychedelia with some touches of blues and even noisy experimental guitar. Awesome stuff!

Mammatus – Heady Mental
Their first album in six years! Admittedly, this is all material recorded during their mid-2000’s heyday, but only finally mixed and finished in 2013. There is some terrific, mind melting stuff here though, especially the colossal 16-minute Brainbow/Brain Train. Definitely more of a leaning towards the spacerock side of their sound on this one too.

Melodic Energy Commission – Wave Packet
After a nine year hiatus, Don Xaliman and company return with a totally new sound: mellow, instrumental space jazz. Laidback and very cosmic, it incorporates elements of world music. And wild, white haired wizard George McDonald is there playing his incredible, custom built six arm Galactic Stream Theremin.

Monomyth – s/t
Epic instrumental psychedelic stoner rock with a sometimes Krautrock vibe, the debut from this Dutch band is superb, with the final epic 17-minute Huygens being a powerhouse standout.

Monster Magnet – Last Patrol
A strong comeback as Monster Magnet returns to their psychedelic roots and produces, arguably, their best album since Dopes to Infinity. The Mindless Ones was one of my favourite songs of the year.

MV & EE – Fuzzweed
Blissed out rural psychedelia from these prolific acid folk rockers, surprisingly their only new release this year, but features the epic 20-minute Poor Boy Excursions.

Psicomagia – Psicomagia
Dark and intense jazz rock fusion in the 70’s style, it could be compared, perhaps, to Mahavishnu Orchestra, except there is no guitar and the leads are taken by keyboards and sax. Plus, the entire album just oozes psychedelia from every dark crevice. Stunning!

ROVO & System 7 – Phoenix Rising
A triumphant return to the realms of spacerock and psychedelia for Steve Hillage and Miquette Girady, this is a collaboration with Japanese group ROVO. ROVO free Steve and Miquette from the need to develop the rhythms by providing a pulsing backdrop, allowing the two erstwhile spacerockers to soar to amazing cosmic heights on this all instrumental work.

Oceanfire – Exit-Rejuvenation
Signified and Civilian Zen multi-instrumentalist Keith Hill strikes out on his own, stripping away the metal and dance influences of his two groups for some terrific spacerock.

Our Solar System – Vårt Solsystem
Dungen’s Mattias Gustavsson nominally leads a group of ragtag space gypsies through this astounding album. Reminiscent of some of those obscure, early Krautrock tribal freakouts where almost anything goes. Spacey, yet earthy and organic too. Wildly orchestral and intensely rocking. A masterpiece!

Sendelica – The Kaleidoscopic Kat and Its Autoscopic Ego
The Welsh psych rockers add an element of electronica to their sound on this outing with startling effect! This is definitely one of the best experiments of this sort I have heard.

Sons of Hippies – Griffons at the Gates of Heaven
60’s psychedelia meets 70’s spacerock meets…80’s new wave? Sounds weird, but Sons of Hippies make it work!

Spids Nøgenhat – Kommer med fred
Second album from this Danish band comes 12 years after their first! It’s not quite as freaky as En Mærkelig Kop Te (2001) was, but makes up for it with some terrific song writing. In fact, it finds just about the perfect balance between powerful, hooky songs and psychedelic weirdness.

Nik Turner – Space Gypsy
Nik’s remarkable return to classic spacerock in the Hawkwind tradition finds him with a powerhouse band behind him and collection of awesome new songs written by both him and the other members of his band. Not a weak song from start to finish. Nik does Hawkwind better than the current lineup of the actual Hawkwind is doing it!

Steven Wilson – The Raven That Refused to Sing and other stories
With a new band and some terrific songwriting, Steven Wilson produces one of the best albums of his career, and certainly the best of the three he’s released under his own name. Progressive rock with some fusion undertones, instrumental hooks galore, astonishing playing and some truly moving lyrics and melodies. Plus, it was produced by Alan Parsons!

White Manna – Dune Worship
Noisy psychedelia with a definite spacerock vibe, this is the second album from these California jammers, and their best so far. Their sound has matured and become more exploratory, incorporating atmospherics and Krautrock style rhythms.

Christian Mumford

In no particular order other than the usual hermetic Freemason lodges, and double cheese w/ Pepperoni pizza to “go”, this Christmas Yuletide season!:

Architectural Metaphor – Everything You Know Is Wrong
Fantastic return from Massachusetts spacerock legends ArcMet. I also had some artwork of mine printed in this very psychedelic CD, plug plug!

Nik Turner – Space Gypsy
Troublemaking saxman Nik and various helpers from bands like Die Krupps and UK Subs, plus Simon House and friggin’ Steve Hillage. Very true to form in the classic Hawkwind style.

Black Sabbath – 13
Ozzy is back, with Sabbath, though not with the original drummer. Fantastic effort in the classic Sabbath sound!

Voïvod – Target Earth
The Canadian prog/space Science Fiction Thrashers return with a decent album with new guitarist Chewy copying the style of former one Piggy, not bad!

Steven Wilson – The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories)
Porcupine Tree man Wilson has carved out a solo career as well, and this album showcases some amazing and intricately played and composed prog. Highly recommended.

Acid FM – Electric No. 3
Detroit infused NWOBHM-styled power-stoners deliver a nice mix of live and studio material.

The Guild Navigators – Red Vision 7 EP
Great 4 track punky spacerock release from Ohio’s finest in the genre!

Monster Magnet – Last Patrol
This quite psychedelic album grew on me after giving it a slightly negative review at AI. Its better than I originally reported!

Øresund Space Collective – Hamburg Concerts 2013 [ltd. 200 copies]
A very interesting and catchy live release from our improvising friends in Copenhagen!

Øresund Space Collective – Organic Earthly Floatation [ltd. 500 copies] LP
Vinyl and download only greatness with a rare non-improvised Deadhead psychedelic and melodic beauty of an opening song!

Cathedral – The Last Spire
Farewell album from the Doom metal legends from UK, this is some heavy medieval and noisy stuff indeed…

Hawklords – Dream
A mixed bag of head on spacerock and mellow psychedelia from the composite latter day band that has little to do with the 70’s band.

Hawkwind – Spacehawks
Nice compilation of old and new and hitherto unheard material as played by the current line up of the band, with one track with Huw Lloyd-Langton making it a “must-have”.

Hawkwind – Warrior On The Edge Of Time [Atomhenge 2CD+DVD]
Oh, and Steven Wilson remixed it as well. Classic 1975 album finally gets an official remaster on CD, after so many pirate versions already out there!

The Legendary Pink Dots – The Gethsemane Option
Melodic yet noisy sounding album from the gothrocky spacerocky industrial-ish psychedelic beatnik New Wave masters of magick and mystery!

The Legendary Pink Dots – The Curse Of Marie Antoinette LP [ltd. 299 copies]
Beautiful picture disc full-lengther contains dreamy and poetic Shoegazer style ethereal and ghost-like mystical psychedelia from The Dotz.

Pre-Med – Einstein’s Day Off
Lovingly created spacerock from UK’s premier band with ex-Hawkwind/Bedouin/Gunslinger lawman Alan Davey on bass as well!

Space Mirrors – The Other Gods
International spacerock and metal collective return with a finely crafted yet very metallic release on the swedish Transubstans label with former Hawkwind sax/fluteman Nik Turner on a track.

Satyricon – Satyricon
Black metallers from Norway return with an album in the style of their “Nemesis Divina” classic 90’s album. Its some of their finest work, it is also very accessible and straight ahead stuff.

Sendelica – The Kaleidoscopic Kat And It’s Autoscopic Ego
Psychedelic meisters from Wales continue releasing som damn fine records in the instrumental Spacerock genre. Recommended to all prog/kraut/space/psych fans!

Huw Lloyd-Langton – Rare & Unreleased: Anthology 1971-2012 [2CD]
Nice compilation from former amongst us, ex-Hawkwind lead guitarist Huw. One disc has unreleased material, it is bluesy straight ahead rockiness from our now peacefully resting friend Huw.

Marillion – Clocks Already Ticking [live] [2DVD/3CD]
Workmanlike prog-popping veterans release a nice live triple live CD with all of the “Radiation” album played live, plus other selections from their 30+ year career.

Paul Roland – Hexen
Baroque pop meister Roland creates occultist hymns of songs about pagan mystery about witchcraft and other nature worship and deviltry, from ideas to a film soundtrack. One of his best latter day efforts, here on a small Italian label.

Melodic Energy Commission – Wave Packet
This is the band that used to include 70’s Hawkwind-hobbit Del Dettmar in their early daze, and is some extremely psychedelic Ozrics style instrumental LSD influenced spacyness.

V.A. – The League Of Psychedelic Gentlemen 7″ EP [w/ Nick Nicely, The Bevis Frond, Anton Barbeau / Three Minute Tease & Paul Roland] [Fruits De Mer label]
A vinyl only release with the strongest contributions being from Anton Barbeau and an old track from mr. Roland, as well as tha’Frond to round out the usual Psychedelic “Psuspects” [sic].

Keith Henderson

1. White Manna (US) – Dune Worship

2. Electric Eye (NO) – Pick-up, Lift-off, Space, Time

3. Cave (US) – Threace

4. Nik Turner (UK) – Space Gypsy

5. Pyramidal (SP) – Frozen Galaxies

6. 3rd Ear Experience (US) – Boi

7. The Timelords (UK) – Convergence

8. The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic (US) – S/T

9. Oresund Space Collective (DK/US) – Organic Earthly Flotation

10. Brujas del Sol (US) – Moonliner

11. Korai Orom (HU) – 2013

12. Vespero (RU) – Droga

13. Spids Nogenhat (DK) – Kommer med fred

14. Cambrian Explosion (US) – The Sun EP

15. Mechanik (SP) – Velut Stella Splendida

16. Atomic Simao (UKR) – Nodo

17. Luder (US) – Adelphophagia

18. Buddha Sentenza (DE) – South Western Lower Valley Rock

19. Kikagaku Moyo (JP) – S/T

20. Monkey3 (SUI) – The 5th Sun

21. Giobia (IT) – Introducing Night Sound

22. Chatham Rise (US) – S/T

23. Paradise 9 (UK) – Take Me To The Future

24. The Rendlesham Forest Incident (US) – Last Flight Of The Hope Dempsey

25. Kamikaze Scotsmen (HU) – Ark EP (following Prologue EP, 2012)

26. Mind! (SP) – Stunde Null

27. Hawklords (UK) – Dream

28. Lamp Of The Universe (NZ) – Transcendence

29. Lumerians (US) – The High Frontier

30. Hollow Mirrors (US) – Hollow Mirrors II

Archival Reissue Of The Year:
BLIM (UK) – Zero/No Frills cassettes (’92-’93)

Unreleased Recording Of The Year:
Perandg (NO) – Plains EP

Album Cover Of The Year:
Lumerians – The High Frontier

Recent Return From Long Hiatus:
Dino Sorbello & Laughing Sky (US)

Special note of those bands releasing worthy albums in 2012 that I did not hear until 2013, including Baby Guru, Temple Of The Smoke, Glitter Wizard, Moon Duo, Het Droste Effect, Sundial, Pothead, Colour Haze, Camera, Golden Void, etc.

Mike Reed

Top 20 CD’s of 2013

Nik Turner – ‘Space Gypsy’
Motorhead – ‘Aftershock’
Monster Magnet – ‘Last Patrol’
Re-Stoned – ‘Analogy’
Aerosmith – ‘Rock For The Rising Sun’ DVD
Nektar – ‘Remember The Future’ CD reissue
Nektar – ‘Sounds Like This’ expanded 2-CD reissue
Widowmaker – self-titled 1976 CD reissue (Huw’s post-HW)
Hawklords – ‘We Are One’
Folkazoid – ‘II’
Dead Flowers – ‘For You’ (not the ’90’s UK band)
Djam Karet – ‘Trip’
Alice Cooper – ‘Old School (1964-1974) 4-CD box set
Plastic Overlord – Sonic Astronomy’
Dan Pound – ‘Return To Other Worlds’ 2-CD
Hawkwind – ‘Spacehawks’
Cosmic Circus Music – ‘Weisbaden 1973′
Acid Mothers Temple – ‘Doobie Wonderland’
Acid Mothers Temple – ‘In Search Of Lost Divine Ark’
U. D. O. – ‘Mean Machine’ CD reissue

Top Ten Concerts of 2013

Heart / Jason Bonham Led Zeppelin Experience (had 1st row)
Marilyn Manson / Alice Cooper
Moody Blues
Folkazoid (a Chilean space rock band)
Ian Anderson
Nine Inch Nails
Iron Maiden
Diamond Head / Raven

Disappointments / bad news of 2013

Alvin Lee’s passing
Dick Dodd’s passing (Standells original drummer & vocalist)
No Motorhead U.S. tour
Hawkwind postponing their fall U.S. trek
Fact that (so few) traditional record stores now still exist

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