Archive for December 5, 2014

Cobracalia – self-titled (SlowBurn Records 2014, CD)

In the fall of 2012, the members of Black Sun Ensemble reassembled after a 5 year hiatus with the intention of seeking a new direction. What would become the band’s swansong album, Behind Purple Clouds, was only half finished when guitar master Jesus Acedo passed away in March 2013, but with the help of additional musicians the remaining members forged ahead and completed the album which was released in late 2013. Cobracalia, named after a song from the 1985 debut Black Sun Ensemble album, consists of the musicians who completed the Behind Purple Clouds album.

Utilizing guitar, bass, keyboards, violin, flute, saxophone, drums, and a variety of percussion including congas, oud, djembe, dumbek and zills, Cobracalia exude strong Middle Eastern influences but diverge from the Black Sun Ensemble mold. The compositions and arrangements are complex, yet quite accessible, often sounding like a spacey ethnic inspired Prog-Psych orchestra. The melodies are simple yet seductively catchy, like a pied piper shaman, and this is one of Cobracalia’s strengths.

The band excel at stirring their Middle Eastern inspired yet stylistically diverse pot. I like how the instrumental Dandyloin meanders between trippy and acid drenched realms, and includes cool Phantom of the Opera organ, plus great dual guitar action. Fistful Of Flowers is similar but more intensely rocking, with beautiful flute and violin solos which sound really cool against the galloping ethnic percussion, and this percussion style characterizes much of the album. Several of the songs are cinematic Prog-Psych rockers that transition through multiple instrumental and thematic themes in just a few short minutes, yet are so nimble in their execution that the accessibility of the music is never lost. Like the aptly titled Arabic Satori, which conjures up images of a tribal celebration in the desert, with swirling organ, classic Prog keys, and a seductively catchy melody. And Queen Of The Night, which whips itself into a frenzy that’s like a lysergic merging of Arabesque and Celtic elements. Egyptian Magician is similar but adds a healthy dose of Funk. Wrong Again is a short, funky rocker that’s one of the more rhythmically interesting songs of the set, striking an intriguing balance between being rhythmically off-kilter and maintaining a flowing groove. Total Internal Reflection is a little different, being a dreamy excursion with excellent efx’d guitar, and kind of reminds me of mid-80s Bill Nelson. Gas Giant has a similar dreamy quality and gets nicely spaced out at times. But it rocks too, having a combination of the Middle Eastern elements that characterized the previous songs, but also has guitar that brings to mind a morphing of George Harrison and Neil Young. Overall a beautiful blending of sweepingly melodic flow, orchestral Prog infused Hard Rock, and subtly incorporated sci-fi effects. If this is the enduing Black Sun Ensemble legacy, I like it and hope these musicians continue together.

For more information visit the SlowBurn Records web site at:

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Mooch – “Mrs Silbury’s Delicious Mushroom Flavoured Biscuits” Review and Radio Special with Steve Palmer Interview

Below the review you will find a radio show which was Aural Innovations Space Rock Radio show #341 (December 4, 2014). This show is dedicated to the music of Steve Palmer and features chats with Steve between tracks. I did a previous radio special dedicated to Steve’s music in 2008, which you can CLICK HERE to check out. Together I think the two make an excellent overview of Steve’s work from the past 20 years.

Mooch – “Mrs Silbury’s Delicious Mushroom Flavoured Biscuits” (Cosmic Eye Records 2014, LP)

You need an open mind and an adventurous spirit to be a Mooch fan. Steve Palmer has guided the Mooch mothership to dramatically different corners of the stylistic universe, from all instrumental space excursions, to heavier Space Rock, and on to 1960s inspired Psychedelic songs. In 2007 Ambientlive Recordings released the 2-CD set, Dr Silbury’s Liquid Brainstem Band. Frequently cited as a catalog favorite by Mooch fans, Dr Silbury was an epic collection of Space and Progressive Rock and was one of the first great Mooch collaborative efforts, bringing in numerous esteemed guests.

As 2014 comes to a close we have the latest Mooch album, and the follow up to Dr Silbury – Mrs Silbury’s Delicious Mushroom Flavoured Biscuits – released on vinyl LP by the Cosmic Eye label. T Minus None opens the set with an electro groove pulse that lays the rhythmic foundation for a variety of alien and melodic synths, plus a killer combination of spacey, Bluesy rocking and melodic jazzy guitar, all building up to a high intensity space rocker with delicious guitar from Gary “Moonboot” Masters. The Golden Rule is next and hits the ground running with a quick paced beat and a deep space Pink Floyd-ish atmospheric aura. I like the combination of drumming and frantic electronic pattern, and the music really hits its stride when Cyndee Lee Rule comes charging in with one of the most intense yet passionately rocking violin solos I’ve ever heard from her. Mellifluo is a lovely melodic piece that makes me feel like I’m at an extra-terrestrial Hawaiian luau. Clouded is a spaced out soundscapes excursion with tasty keys from Jez Creek. At over 12 minutes The Great Retsina Jam is the longest track of the set. I love the combination of classic Prog keys and majestic space synths. There are lots of fun embellishments as the music progresses, including a totally trippy Arabic flavored and slightly Bluesy stringed instrument, shooting star synths, cavernous drones, barren windswept planet effects and much more. This is symphonic Space-Prog at its very best. Pstrings is like a more groove rocking version of Steve’s Blue Lily Commission project and is led by another killer guitar solo, this time from Alex Pym. A steady rocking beat propels the music as Pym cranks out Bluesy licks while a banquet of alien synths swarm about. Finally, Another Time, Another Place is the sole song of the set, being a seductively melodic bit of Space-Pop with mind-massage vocals from Bridget Wishart.

In summary, veteran Mooch fans are pretty much guaranteed to be delighted with this album, and it couldn’t be a better place for newcomers to start… Classic Mooch Space Rock with a solid cast of luminaries contributing.

For more information visit the Cosmic Eye Records web site at:
Purchase the LP from the Cosmic Eye store at:

Additional links:
Mooch, Blue Lily Commission, Stephen Palmer legal downloads at Musiczeit:
Mooch on iTunes – plus some interlopers:
Youtube Mooch Music Channel:
Soundcloud Mooch:
Soundcloud Blue Lily Commission:
Soundcloud Stephen Palmer solo:
Mooch blog (informational, not day-by-day):
Mooch on Facebook:
Ethnic musical instruments, with photos (2007):

Review and radio show interview by Jerry Kranitz


[Track 1: 0:00-7:29] Mooch – “The Golden Rule” (from Mrs Silbury’s Mushroom Flavoured Biscuits)
[Track 2: 7:29-11:22] CHAT
[Track 3: 11:22-26:35] Mooch – “Lughnasadh” (from The Pagan Year)
[Track 4: 26:35-30:54] CHAT
[Track 5: 30:54-39:00] Mooch -“Outside Inside” (from Beltane To Samhain)
[Track 6: 39:00-40:57] CHAT
[Track 7: 40:57-48:28] Mooch – “Alien Culture” (from Planetfall)
[Track 8: 48:28-52:42] Mooch – “Yak Tantrum” (from The Psychedelic Adventures of Mooch in the Country of the Yak)
[Track 9: 52:42-55:35] CHAT
[Track 10: 55:35-1:07:45] Stephen Palmer – “Papyrus Head In The Nile” (from Berlin via Cairo/Berlin via Istanbul)
[Track 11: 1:07:45-1:10:11] CHAT
[Track 12: 1:10:11-1:17:58] The Nonexistent – “Criggion Times” (from Space Roc)
[Track 13: 1:17:58-1:30:12] The Golden Cake Company – “Floating With…” (from Would You Like Some Cake?)
[Track 14: 1:30:12-1:33:35] CHAT
[Track 15: 1:33:35-1:36:22] Mooch – “San Francisco” (from 1966)
[Track 16: 1:36:22-1:40:52] CHAT
[Track 17: 1:40:52-1:44:24] Mooch – “Where My Rifle Begins” (from 1968a)
[Track 18: 1:44:24-1:46:52] CHAT
[Track 19: 1:46:52-1:51:10] Mooch – “The Oak King & The Holly King” (from Stations Of The Sun)
[Track 20: 1:51:10-1:53:28] CHAT
[Track 21: 1:53:28-2:05:09] Mooch – “Train Klang” (excerpt) (from Train Klang)
[Track 22: 2:05:09-2:07:30] CHAT
[Track 23: 2:07:30-2:18:49] Blue Lily Commission – “Samsara” (from Bharatadubs)
[Track 24: 2:18:49-2:23:15] CHAT
[Track 25: 2:23:15-2:33:09] Blue Lily Commission – “Bangalore Dub” (from Eve Songs)
[Track 26: 2:33:09-2:37:40] CHAT
[Track 27: 2:37:40-2:45:14] Stephen Palmer – “The Innkeeper’s Tale” (from Shroomshire)
[Track 28: 2:45:14-2:53:38] Mooch – “Extended Life” (from Bottom Of The Barrel)
[Track 29: 2:53:38-2:56:02] CHAT
[Track 30: 2:56:02-3:05:07] Blue Lily Commission – “Culture 2″ (from Culture 2)
[Track 31: 3:05:07-3:09:17] CHAT
[Track 32: 3:09:17-3:11:35] Mooch – “He Left Me In The Afternoon” (from forthcoming Sunshine)

Sun Zoom Spark – “Left For Dead” (SlowBurn Records 2014, CD)

Sun Zoom Spark formed in Madison, Wisconsin in 1995 and soon after relocated to Tucson, Arizona where they have released their own albums as well as became the backing band for the new millennium reformed edition of Black Sun Ensemble, and continued in that capacity until guitar master Jesus Acedo passed away in 2013.

Their latest album, Left For Dead, began life in 2001 when the band were asked by poet John Galuska to help create music for numerous poems he wrote on the topic of death and rebirth. The music was recorded in a single night and then sat for 12 years until Sun Zoom Spark guitarist/vocalist Eric Johnson revisited the recordings and completed mixing and mastering on the all instrumental album this year. In addition to Johnson on guitar, keyboards, bass, drums and banjo we have Steve Goetz on bass, Bryan Kohl on drums, and poet Galuska on electronics.

A spacey Psychedelic Symphonic-Goth intro leads into a Psychedelic groove rocker with an Arabesque hypnotic pulse, winding trip guitar licks, bubbling soundscapes and freaky effects that are simultaneously meditative and hip shakin’ funky. Following is one of the highlight tracks, Left For Life, which consists of soulfully funky guitar and keys that create a cool Pink Floyd in a Psychedelic lounge jazz feel amidst a gurgling miasma of spacey effects and atmospherics. I enjoyed the Jazz and Surf tinged acidic jamming Hard Rock of Masterpiece By Midnight. The 16+ minute Left For Dead starts off with the same riff as Left For Life, but after a few minutes the band launch into a rocker that has a distinctly Pink Floyd Animals feel. The music transitions through multiple related themes, including exploratory and sometimes playful freaky electronic effect and soundscapes segments. If We Wait is a short spacey groove tune that sounds like it could be the theme for an old sci-fi TV show. Jewel Of The Seven Stars is a proto version of the song that would end up on Black Sun Ensemble’s 2003 released Starlight album. It features Middle Eastern flavored Psychedelia with banjo, wind instruments, and an orchestral feel that conjures up images of a choreographed gaggle of belly dancers. Volcano is a spaced out, freeform electro Stoner jam. The Stoner Hard Rock and Electro Rock elements trade off taking the lead and sound especially cool when jamming alongside each other. And I love the combination of ethnic percussion and sci-fi ooh-wee-ooh Theremin-like melody on Returning To Swim. Overall I enjoyed this set and though it differs in some respects from previous Sun Zoom Spark albums, the spirit and usual variety that can be expected from the band are the same.

For more information visit the SlowBurn Records web site at:

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Siena Root – “Pioneers” (Cleopatra Records 2014, CD/Download)

Swedish rockers Siena Root have been playing their brand of retro 70s Hard Rock/Prog-Psych for over a decade now, and for the first time have a label and distribution in the U.S. via Cleopatra Records. The cover is different from the European edition I see on the band’s web site, and a vinyl edition is available overseas as well.

The music is heavily Deep Purple inspired organ and guitar led Hard Rock, complete with domineering Lord/Blackmore riffage. The band are tight as a knot and do more than ample justice to their influences-on-shirtsleeves style of 70s Rock. Several vocalists have passed through Siena Roots door over the years and Jonas “Joe Nash” Ahlen is a solid singer in the Ian Gillan league, though he doesn’t reach for the higher registers like Gillan. Highlights include 7 Years, with its boogie-woogie swagger and brief spacey interlude. I love the high intensity dueling guitar and organ on Spiral Trip. And Root Rock Pioneers could be the band’s anthem, singing of the spirit of the root rock pioneers. Keep on Climbing is a little different, having a stoned Bluesy quality and a cool spaced out doomy transition to a high octane Deep Purple gone Prog segment. In My Kitchen goes in a different direction too, and at nearly 10 minutes is by far the longest track of the set. It’s soulfully grooving, even a wee bit jazzy, with a drifting Bluesy spacey Psychedelic feel. It has vocals but this is largely an instrumental and a beautifully flowing one at that. I love the guitar solo that starts off sounding like Duane Allman at his most passionate and culminates in a minor freakout. Finally, we’ve got a cover of Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love, which I don’t see listed on the band’s web site so this may be exclusive to the U.S. edition. I didn’t like it at first, sounding too much like the distinctive Deep Purple trying to be the equally distinctive Led Zeppelin, but after a few listens it started to grow on me. File under “interesting”.

In summary, if you like the music that is firmly in the In Rock/Machine Head mold with occasional spacey/psychy detours, then you are guaranteed to like this album. I’m crossing my fingers that the Cleopatra connection leads to a U.S. tour.

For more information visit the Siena Root web site at:
The CD can be purchased from Amazon and the downloaded from iTunes.

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz