Oresund Space Collective (OSC) are a Scandinavian ensemble with a fluid lineup, the one constant being synth maestro Scott “Dr Space” Heller. The sessions for their new album, Music for Pogonologists, took place in April 2012 with all the members of the Danish band Papir plus American guitarist Daniel Lars. If you’re wondering what a pogonologist is, it’s someone who studies beards! There are significant differences between the CD and vinyl editions, with some tracks being exclusive to the CD, one exclusive to the vinyl, and others being edited to fit the vinyl format. Across both editions we’ve got 9 tracks for a sprawling 2 1/2 hours of music.
Beardlandia opens both the CD and vinyl editions and kicks off with narration by Scott, talking about pogonologist Upton Uxbridge Underwood and his 1913 pamphlet Poets Ranked By Beard Weight (Scott has what must be one of the weightiest beards on the planet). The narration concludes at the 2 minute mark as the band launch into a funky grooving jam with a deep space edge. I love the dual guitars, with one ripping off fiery solos and the other serving the liquid Psychedelic role, and these are soon joined by a cool sounding Space-Prog synth.
The 14 minute Ziggurat of the Beards is exclusive to the CD and is a high intensity monster rocking jam that lays down a funky but rough riding chunky rhythmic pulse and sounds like some kind of demonically possessed Allman Brothers Band cum Ozric Tentacles with a dash of Mahavishnu Orchestra and then shaken and stirred in heavy rocking space. The guitars are freakin’ awesome and the whole piece is gripping from start to finish.
The relatively short The Trichophantic Spire is another CD only track that continues in the spirit of Ziggurat of the Beards and feels like an extended coda to that jam. Really cool extra-terrestrial electronics on this one.
The 17 minute Bearded Brothers (CD only) maintains the funky rolling groove, jamming along steadily as the space synths soar to the heavens and fall to the ground. The band trip along like a Space Rock Allman Brothers, an analogy I’ve made before with OSC, and if that sounds strange I can only insist that Space Rockers, Psych fans and Progheads alike should be schooled in the Allmans. OSC funk it up and add tasty Jazz flourishes in the spaced out way that San Francisco band Mushroom does. And I like the lengthy meditative finale which gives the listener a breather after the rockin’ intensity we’ve experienced so far.
Remnants of the Barbonaeum is a 26 minute jam that’s included on both the CD and vinyl. It opens with a Space Ritual Earth Calling intro of freaky alien synths, electronics, soundscape guitar and light drumming. After a few minutes a combination of Space-Ambient Psychedelic Rock and electro groove-pulse starts to ever so gradually take shape. For a while we stroll along in floating yet grooving atmospheric Space-Prog drift. But a repetitive riff increasingly asserts itself in volume and intensity, threatening to overtake the Proggy elements, though the electronic effects flitter about as if they are untouchable. Everyone eventually decides to cooperate for the greater good and we settle into an ambient Soft Machine meets Psych Rock improvisational drift, which builds back up to a high octane Space-Doom finale.
Music for Pogonologists is on both editions but the full 34 minute epic on the CD loses about 12 minutes to fit the vinyl. It starts off as a free-wheeling spaced out Psychedelic Blues-Funk jam, colored by electronic effects darting about, but also roaring space engine effects. The jam quickly gets heavy rocking intense and I love the hip shakin’ groove that accompanies the funky deep space Hard-Psych assault. Throughout the jam OSC slowly evolve, moving on to Blues infused Ozrics Space Rock, fuzzed and wah’d Space-Psych, Jeff Beck gone Space Rock, white knuckled intensity alien attack, and much more. Not only do they NOT start to peter out but the last several minutes are among the smokinest of the entire set. KILLER guitar action!
Phewwww… what a ride. But there’s no rest for the weary because this is followed by the 24 minute Barboconsciousness, which is common to both the CD and LP. This is a tension laden number with a strangely alluring mixture of Indian influenced Psychedelia and a punishing brand of high energy and deliriously rocking Space-Prog. Another smoker!
The 12+ minute Portal of Pogonic Progress is another CD only number. The sense of tension continues here, with a feeling of slow rolling yet meditative cosmic doom. One of the soloing guitars has a tasty Dave Gilmour feel and the other a lusciously liquid drenched Psych sound, and both end up rocking hard and nicely complimenting each other.
Finally, the 9 minute Bartischlag is exclusive to the vinyl and download editions. It starts off melodic and lulling, but like most of the album things take off pretty quick and rock hard to the finish.
I’ve said this before and it bears repeating that the fluctuating lineup is one of the things that keep OSC exciting from one album to the next, but more importantly the fact that they consistently group up musicians that really gel with one another, creating improvisations that are free-wheeling yet always certain of their direction. Not many bands can bust the half hour mark with nary a dull moment nor lull in the action. If you like all instrumental improvisational Space Rock, these guys are among the absolute must-have bands.
Vinyl junkies should note that the LP is limited to 500 copies – 200 black, 200 purple, and 100 purple with white and blue speckles. I’ve not seen it but if it’s even half as beautiful as the Damo Suzuki meets OSC set from earlier this year it’ll be a genuine bring a tear to your eyes piece of art.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz