Archive for January 31, 2015

Lee Negin – “Terminus” (Passing Phase Records 2015, Download)

Though Lee Negin has been recording since the early 80s, he was a new discovery for me in 2014, starting with the tongue-in-cheek sci-fi “Technopera” Cheeze Chronicles, followed by the electronic freakiness and cerebral mind massage of Groundless. Kicking off the new year, Negin has released Terminus, a 20+ minute EP described as a collection of 4 extended dreamscapes. The soundtrack for the 5D movie that “…takes place in the space between your ears.”

Terminal opens the set and features a cosmic collage of voices and sounds. The pastiche of voice samples includes strange narrations, vague singing, children, animals, coughing, sirens and much more, surrounded by and intertwined with rushing waves, cavernous drones, and a general banquet of experimental spaced out sound montage. Terminal 2 is similar but without the voices, feeling like a high intensity, interdimensional luge race through a time challenged black hole. For me it conjures up images of the end of the movie Interstellar, where Matthew McConaughey is stuck in a dimensional limbo that seems to dissolve space, reality and time. Terminal 3 is somewhat more traditional, being a soaring space-orchestral journey that strikes a precarious balance between anxiety and majesty. And Terminal 4 continues down this path, bounding from orchestral to fully symphonic and emotionally impassioned. But all the while the music is firmly deep space exploratory, with a droning sense of grandiose foreboding and a collage-like morphing and mixing of hurtling soundscape waves.

So three albums in a handful of months and all are distinct from one another, with Negin demonstrating a flair for variety and a good deal of excitement and even fun with each new release. And I’ve only tipped the iceberg. Check this guy out.

For more information visit the Lee Negin web site at:
Visit the Passing Phase Records web site at:
CDs and downloads of several Lee Negin albums are available at CDBaby:

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Orchestra Solitaire – “Different Skies” (ESM 2014, CD/DL)

Orchestra Solitaire is a new project from Jet Jaguar ship commander Charles Van de Kree, and couldn’t be further in light years from his hard and heavy space rocking mothership band. The promo sheet describes the music as inhabiting “the stratospheric region where minimal sound textures provide the canvas for guitar explorations reminiscent of Terje Rypdal, John Abercrombie and Ralph Towner”, and also references, Brian Eno, Harold Budd, and the 70s ECM artists (note the label name Charles chose: ESM = Exploration Sound Music). In addition to guitar, Charles employs a variety of keyboards and synths, piano, flute, percussion and effects.

Most of the 15 instrumental tracks are in the 2-4 minute range with a couple hitting 5 minutes. The shorter tracks feel like brief sonic brushstroke musings, as if they were daily entries in Charles’ audio diary. There’s a beautiful melodic simplicity to the music, with piano and guitar usually taking the lyrical lead. We’ve got lots of cinematic space ambience and soundscape exploration. I like the spacey efx’d guitar licks that sound like slowly falling shards of cosmic sound debris. Some of the music brings to mind a deeply ambient and spacey Steve Hackett, giving it a Space-Prog amidst floating electronica sensation.

All combined we have multiple snippets that make for a pleasantly flowing journey. Track titles really seem inconsequential, though there are a few slightly longer pieces that stand out on their own. Different Skies consists of solo piano alternating with guitar, piano and synth Prog, plus dreamy space exploration and beautifully melodic guitar leads. Slow Birds features expansive melodic ambience with playfully jazzy guitar runs, whining soundscape licks, and cosmically beckoning flute. I like the contrast and combination of electro rhythms and drifting melodic ambient Space-Prog on Prism. And Thru Fog is captivating with its lusciously efx’d space guitar licks that weave a path alongside slowly rumbling drones. A really nice set, and my wishlist request for the next album is to try developing some lengthier stretch out excursions.

The CD and download of Different Skies are available from CDBaby:
It should also be available at Amazon

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Jet Jaguar – “Free Space” (Overlord Records 2014, CD/DL, originally released 2002)

This is third edition of Jet Jaguar’s Free Space: The original 12 song set was released by Aktivator Records in 2002, followed by a 14 song remastered edition after the original 100 sold out, and now all these years later a newly remastered set with a slightly different setlist of 12 songs and vastly superior cover art.

I’ve described Jet Jaguar as the ultimate marriage of Hawkwind and Chrome, though I’ll add the tongue in cheek alien fun of Zolar X and the looming spirit of Robert Calvert. This is a fasten your seatbelts and hold on for dear life brand of Space Rock; the kind of sci-fi Rock ‘n Roll that instills a sense that the fate of the entire universe hangs in the balance and you couldn’t give a shit because the space station party is raging and nothing else seems to matter.

The songs are super fun, with a bouncy, chug-a-lug Punk-ish Rock ‘n Roll rhythmic pulse, typically clocking in at a punchy and to the point 3-4+ minute range. Yes, you can dance to it! The music is characterized by searing Helios Creed styled corrosion phasing between channels, which can be disorienting when listening with headphones. We’ve got relentlessly swirling and bubbling space synths, often augmented by soaring, melodic synths that border between Prog and 80s New Wave. The song titles speak volumes: Brain Stun, Autopilot, She’s An Alien, Beam Me To Mars, Shockwave Rider… you get the idea.

There are some moments of easing back from the assault. I like the efx’d voice narration and cosmic sci-fi ambience of The Emissary, which serves as an intro to the still rocking but more lightly paced I.C.U., with its cosmic angelic synths that give the music a Punky Hawkwind circa Palace Springs feel, mixed with more of that Prog meets 80s New Wave vibe. The Scanner, a song that wasn’t on either of the previous editions of Free Space, is like a sci-fi robotic take on 80s New Wave. And, finally, Shades Of Noir Descending is a dark, ambient, Space-Goth meets Psychedelic Doom-Drone tune that closes the set.

In summary, if you like heavy duty, no quarter, sci-fi Space Rock ‘n Roll then you are absolutely guaranteed to love Jet Jaguar. Did I say this is fun stuff? This reissue is a treat because the album hasn’t been available for a while. AND, best of all, the first new Jet Jaguar music in some years is on the way, hopefully in the coming months. Stay tuned…

The CD and download of Free Space and other Jet Jaguar albums are available from CDBaby:
It should also be available at Amazon and Forced Exposure

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Annot Rhül – “Leviathan” (Black Widow Records 2014, CD/LP)

Annot Rhül is headed up by Norwegian musician Sigurd Tonna, who brings in additional musicians as needed to meet his vision for the music. Sigurd has been quiet for a while, the last Annot Rhül album being the 2007 released Lost In The Woods.

The set opens with the 7 part, 14 minute Leviathan Suite. After a hauntingly space-symphonic intro, the music launches into a male/female dual vocals segment that has a distinctly early 70s cosmic Prog feel, a theme that pervades throughout the album. It starts off lightly rocking but quickly morphs into dreamland with flowing Mellotron and other keys, traipsing through a steadily unfolding thematic evolution that recalls Eloy, Genesis, Yes and other classic Prog elements, though typically within a spaced out Psychedelic context. And for the finale the band dive into Uriah Heep land for some of their heaviest rocking yet. The Colour Out Of Space is an instrumental with a killer combination of flowing and rocking Space-Prog, at times having an early 70s feel and at others more modern rocking. We’ve got mind-bending guitars that sound like early Spacious Mind, bluesy Dave Gilmour licks, classic Prog keys, symphonic Mellotron, bubbling alien synths, and more. Surya is a lovely melodic rocking cosmic instrumental and vocal number. I love the trippy acoustic segment and multiple efx’d guitars. Distant Star is a short song with a shake and shimmy dance groove that sounds like it could be from some 60s sci-fi beach party flick. Dig that space-surf vibe. I like the intense heavy Prog vibe of The Mountains Of Madness, which sounds like some kind of deep space hellish King Crimson, but also explores along a Pink Floyd meets Genesis in the Milky Way axis. Wrapping up the set is the 5 part, 12 minute R’lyeh. It starts off eerily childlike, like a Mellotron drenched version of Goblin, before launching into a demonic yet majestic full blown symphonic Prog Phantom Of The Opera overture. But the gears shift quickly and dramatically as the music transitions to a lulling and angelically melodic songbird segment, and then makes a beeline into the most intensely power rocking assault of the set, feeling like a Metal offensive with ferocity tempering Mellotron and swirling space electronic effects, finally coming in for a freakily spaced out UFO landing that closes the set.

In summary, if you’re a space rocker with a taste for classic early 70s Progressive Rock you are sure to like Annot Rhül. Sigurd has absorbed his influences well and has a flair for continually evolving thematic development and giving a tasty cosmic edge to the proceedings. Recommended.

For more information visit the Annot Rhül web site at:
Visit the Black Widow Records web site at:

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Orchestra of the Upper Atmosphere – “02” (Discus Music 2014, 2-CD)

Orchestra of the Upper Atmosphere (OUA) are an 8-piece ensemble (plus numerous guests) that describe themselves as an “improvisation based rock group referencing the innovations of Terry Riley, Magma, Krautrock style exploration, Sun Ra and Alice Coltrane.” Wow, that’s an interesting bundle of analogies. If I had to limit this sprawling 150+ minute set to a simplistic description I’d characterize the music as Prog-Jazz-Funk-Space-Ambient-Electronic-Noise Avant-Everything. It’s actually more cohesive than these descriptions suggest, and after several listens I’ve got a feel for the way OUA draw on their varied influences and, most importantly, the way they meld various musical styles and influences into something refreshingly unique.

We’ve got a lot of musicians contributing and an array of instrumentation including organ, electric piano, synthesizers, electronics, samples, bass guitar, Eb saxophones, clarinets, VST trumpet, alto and bamboo flutes, electric violin, violin, viola, cello, glockenspiel, drums, percussion, and the 20 voice Juxtavoices choir. The two names I recognize are Discus Music mainstay Martin Archer and Steve Dinsdale of Radio Massacre International.

There are 11 tracks across two CDs and only the grand tour will provide a sense of the breadth of influences that inform this music. The fun begins with Dominant Growth Direction, which starts off like a chamber ensemble performing a manic, shot into space Carl Stalling score, but then eases into a Space-Jazz rocker that has a cool grooving rhythmic pulse, swirling minimal synth patterns and spacey atmospherics, wild Sun Ra styled keys, and howling ensemble vocals. For the last several minutes the music eases into dreamy and playfully sound experimental atmospheric Space and Jazz rock with an Avant-Classical finale. The continually evolving Paratacamite kicks off with an intense score that brings to mind Philip Glass, followed by introspective and dreamily melodic vocal drift, and then a stimulating combination of minimalist patterns, Sun Ra keys, and deep space soundscape yet rhythmic driven Rock. Bilateral Coordination Activities Are Calming is a sound and ambient exploratory chamber ensemble in space piece. Modus consists of cosmic Space-Jazz, like 70s Funk-Fusion meets Sun Ra on the Forbidden Planet soundtrack, or perhaps David Torn’s Cloud About Mercury performed by the San Francisco band Mushroom. Noctilucent is an intensely orchestral ambient-soundscape exploration, peppered with oodles of alien effects, a light World Music feel, and shepherded along by Dub grooves. Space Smells Of Strawberries features floating and freaky space electronica, Dub, and Orchestral-Jazz and Fusion, sometimes with an epic film soundtrack feel. Across The Atmospheric Eddies is bewitchingly ethereal, with howling, spectral voices that get downright freaky at times, all amidst a cosmic rocking, jazzy, orchestral vibe. RMMV Asturias is similar, including all the eerie voice activity, but is more purely ambient/soundscape oriented, though the music eventually takes on a somewhat tribal quality as the piece progresses. The Breaking Of Bonds & The Rearrangement Of Atoms is a Prog infused blend of cosmic orchestra, space electronic excursion, and sound sculpture. Think Jean Luc Ponty, Klaus Schulze, Can and Terry Riley collaborating at a Psychedelic planetarium Jazz lounge. Curvature Of The Earth is a cool grooving combination of orchestral elements, smooth lounge Jazz, spacey symphonic Prog keys, Ozric Tentacles synths, and bits of spaced out Soft Machine. And, finally, Potent Lunation is a rumbling rush of atmospheric, orchestral, Free-Jazz rocking Space-Prog. I like the combination of busily kinetic percussive patterns and ominous bass throb that anchors the thematic churn of symphonic keys, chaotic alien effects, and wailing Free-Jazz horns and strings. The last segment becomes quieter and more sound experimental, teetering between ambience and chaos, before slowing increasing in intensity for a darkly operatic climax.

In summary, this an ambitious effort, being quite different but by no means abstract. It’s adventurous yet accessible, and a real challenge to adequately describe, but huge fun to free my mind and let the impressions flow. If you’ve read this far and are the least bit intrigued, I highly recommend taking the plunge into this step outside the box.

For more information visit the Discus Music web site at:

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Crystal Jacqueline & The Honey Pot – “Electronic Memory” (Mega Dodo 2015, CD Box Set/DL)

The latest from Crystal Jacqueline & The Honey Pot is a 15 track set that takes the 7 tunes that appeared on last year’s Fruits de Mer Records double 7″ set and adds 8 more to make Electronic Memory a groovy combo of classic covers, Icarus Peel originals, and strange narrative bits.

The album opens with upbeat, lusciously melodic and soon rocking orchestrated Psychedelia, with freaky and sometimes Beatle-esqe effects, and a child’s voice repeating the line, “Crystal Jacqueline did not wake up in time. I don’t mean that she was late for a meeting, or even her breakfast. The truth is, she simply didn’t wake up when she was supposed to.” The child is the “storyteller” and these various music and narrative segments consist of surreal and rocking music and fun trippy effects which suggest a kind of Alice in Wonderland theme that loosely strings the album’s songs together. (The child reciting “The White Rabbit lay down and placed Crystal Jacqueline on his tummy” is a great line.)

In additional to the transitional segments we have two excellent Icarus Peel originals. It’s Raining is a high energy Pop-Psych rocker with a catchy melody, awesome spaced out guitars and powerhouse drumming. And The Swan Necked Spider is a sultry slice of cool grooving and soulfully funky Psychedelia.

Rounding out the set are 7 killer cover tunes. Pink Floyd’s trippy-spacey-tribal Remember A Day is amped up with a fuller rockin’ Prog-Psych sound. The Honey Pot’s rendition of White Rabbit is a one-two punch knockout, starting off very much like the original, but then about halfway through blasting off into a monster rocker with symphonic keys and ripping guitars. Fleur de Lys’ garage-pop freakout song Tick Tock is given a wah’d dose of funky grooves, which sounds great combined with the stratospheric guitar solos and classic 60s organ. Mighty Baby’s Egyptian Tomb is similarly rocked up and includes more ripping guitar, which sounds fantastic within a bouncy Pop-Psych grooving context. Great vocal harmonies too! Hole In My Shoe, written and sung by Dave Mason, was probably the most un-Traffic like song Traffic ever recorded, being something of a surreal nursery rhyme ditty. The Honey Pot are faithful to the core of the song but inject a punchy rocking edge, killer psyched out instrumental segments and guitar solos, and great vocals from both Peel and Jacqueline. For Curved Air’s Puppets, Crystal is faithful to the spirit of the original, but injects an orchestral feel that’s both flowing and quirky, and dispenses with the jazzy piano, and in my opinion is overall better than Curved Air. Finally, Crystal cranks out a cool rocking cover of The Electric Prunes’ I Had Too Much To Dream.

I love Jacqueline’s vocals, which achieve a difficult to describe blend of potency and lulling calm. And the more acquainted I become with Peel’s music the more I realize what a great guitarist he is. Add in solid production and arrangements and we’ve got a damn fine set of Psychedelia. Recommended.

Note that the CD will be available in March as a boxed set that includes the CD, a 12 page booklet, two postcards, a badge, and… get this… a packet of Mega Dodo patented vinyl simulator (i.e., “space dust”). Better hurry because there are only 100 of them.

For more information and to pre-order order visit the Mega Dodo Bandcamp site at:

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

New Planet Trampoline – “The Wisconsin Witch House” (Stow House Records 2015, CD/DL)

New Planet Trampoline are a Cleveland based band whose members have been in Channel, The Phoebe Cates, and other band we’ve reviewed in the earliest Aural Innovations days. They released an EP and a full length in 2003 and 2004, consisting of 60s inspired songs that variously recalled Syd-era Pink Floyd, Tomorrow, The Pretty Things, and even the Seeds and 13th Floor Elevators. Fast forward through a nearly decade long hiatus and the band reunited in 2013 to play Pink Floyd’s The Piper at the Gates of Dawn in its entirety at Pat’s in the Flats in Cleveland, which led to an invitation to perform the set again as part of The Committee to Keep Music Evil’s kick off show at the 2014 Austin Psych Fest. Inspired by the activity, the group headed into the studio to complete the now available Wisconsin Witch House EP and resume sessions on their aborted double LP from 2005, which they plan to release this year on their Stow House Records label.

The Wisconsin Witch House is a 4-track, 35 minute EP that sees the band exploring more complex musical territory than the 2003/2004 songs. 1000 Lies is very much like the earlier albums, being a well-crafted and catchy tune with a potently Punky brand of 60s inspired Psychedelic Pop. Bert I. Gordon, named after the director of 50s/60s sci-fi and horror B-flicks, is an intriguing zig-zag between soulfully sultry Psych song, the Doors, and steroidal instrumental runs. The 9+ minute Scary Pumpkin starts off as a high energy mixture of early Floyd and Pop-Psych gone freakout, being a bouncy song with off-kilter rhythms, bashing guitars and swirling organ. But there are some interesting detours which take the band into heavy Prog-Psych territory, with spaced out and freakily efx’d guitar, a Hammond sounding organ, and some totally wigged out lyrics.

Finally, the 17 minute Free Poison is a craftily convoluted and fairly mind-blowing journey through multiple seamlessly strung together themes. It kicks off as a heavy rocking Psych song, being 60s inspired but has an almost Punk-like rough-round-the-edges feel. Then near the 5 minute mark the song fades and briefly melts into spaced out Psychedelic la-la land before launching into an ass kickin’, take-no-prisoners acid jam. From here the music rapidly zips through a parade of 60s and 70s influenced Psychedelic and Prog-Psych themes, both song oriented and instrumental, as well as heavy rocking and dreamily lulling, culminating in an awesomely acid-spaced, melodically jamming finale that brings to mind a Space Rock version of Yes (yeah, you heard me right).

In summary, New Planet Trampoline excel at Psychedelic Pop, but these guys are a tight-as-a-knot unit who can really play and have a flair for accessible yet elusively sophisticated compositions. I can’t wait for the full length.

For more information visit the Stow House Records web site at:
The download is available through iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, and other major sources.
Visit the New Planet Trampoline web site at:

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Paul Foley – “Shape in Spacetime” (self-released 2014, CD)

Australian musician Paul Foley has been on the Aural Innovations radar since our earliest days through his band Brainstorm. Last year I interviewed Paul in conjunction with reviews of the two most recent Brainstorm albums and Paul’s book that compiled the science essays he wrote for the Central Victorian Weekly newspaper (CLICK HERE to check it out).

With the other members of Brainstorm too busy to dedicate time to the band, Paul has continued working on songs, the result being his new solo album, Shape in Spacetime. Paul is equal parts Proghead and Space Rocker and it shows throughout the set (The album dedication is to NASA, Yes, Hawkwind and the legacy of Albert Hoffmann).

Songs like Twelve Hundred Miles and Needless and Furtive Reminders feature acoustic guitar and vocals backed with Proggy keys, the latter being an especially tasty slice of 60s flavored Folk-Prog. The war themed Raven is one of my favorite songs, featuring 70s Prog, Folk and Psychedelic influences, with beautiful dual guitars and flute, punctuated by moments of sharp intensity supplied by electric guitar chord jabs. The lyrics on Symphony of Atoms reveal the introspective science buff within Paul: “When what I am returns to dust, amino acids, proteins as I must”. Play to Win is one of the heavier rocking songs, though still largely acoustic driven. Again we’ve got really nice multiple guitar parts, both acoustic and electric, and a trippy spaced out keyboard solo. Taliban is a song Paul completed in 2013 and created a nifty video for which he uploaded to YouTube (CLICK HERE). It’s one of the highlights of the set, featuring a cool and strange combination of robotic electro grooves and swirling Middle Eastern themes. As Paul describes, “This song is not about religion; nor is it an angry song. It’s about people, cruelty, waste, and terrible, terrible sadness; tragedies of history that can’t possibly be as inevitable as they seem, and the conflicting loyalties that rule all our hearts.”

The quietly dreamy Assam combines lightly audible, spacey background synths, a lulling flute melody, and kinetic electro percussion, along with Paul’s mournful vocals. I love the acoustic guitars on Caverns of Night, backed by soaring spacey keys and an intense atmosphere. Ditto for the guitars on the upbeat Parachute Shop, which sounds like a good time Folk-Pub rocker, despite the severity of its message. Rounding out the set are two lengthy stretch out tracks. Folk-Prog meets Space Rock on the 13+ minute Journey’s End, a multi-themed, mostly instrumental workout that incorporates a banquet of 70s influences and some mind-bending compositional twists and turns. And the 11 minute Dracula’s Bride is a lively rocking cautionary tale of what we’re doing to the planet in the name of big business and consumer culture. Overall an impressive solo work that will appeal to Space Rock fans with a penchant for Folk and acoustic driven Progressive Rock.

For more information visit the Brainstorm web site at:

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Red Planet Orchestra – “The Angry Silence” (Path Of Action 2014, Download)

Red Planet Orchestra is the UK based duo of Vincent Rees and Peter Smith and The Angry Silence is their fifth album. The set consists of 6 tracks and just over 100 minutes of orchestral Space-Ambient music.

The atmosphere is somber, yet peacefully meditative, as the themes are gradually and continuously constructed. Some of the music is more orchestral focused, conjuring up scenes of a celestial symphony hall performance. The ambient waves wash over the listener like cosmic string and rumbling percussion sections, being lush and passionate while at the same time being too quietly subtle to be described as fully symphonic. Other parts are pure space exploration, washing the listener along on sleek waves of flowing, blowing, howling and droning soundscapes. The nearly 30 minute title track is a standout in this regard and is also among the more intense and energetic music of the set. But much of the album is like a classical composition for space orchestra, and Red Planet Orchestra excel at beautifully understated melodies and music that is deeply emotional while maintaining a sense of deep space ebb and flow. The cinematic quality of the music is undeniable, and indeed Rees and Smith have contributed music to films, mostly recently to Alex Fodor’s Dead and Awake. Overall an enjoyable, image inducing, and often challening listen.

To stream and download visit:

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Kalamata – self-titled (Zygmatron Music 2014, CD/DL)

Kalamata are a German guitar/bass/drums trio who play what they describe as “instrumental psychedelic-stoner rock like the old Kyuss or original space-rock bands from the 70s”. The album consists of 7 tracks, all with single word titles that spell out “You Have To Die Soon Mother Fucker”.

The band are only marginally Space Rock though some of the guitar gets a little spacey at times. But they are definitely Psychedelic Stoner Rock. Some of the tracks sound like a darker and grungier version of Colour Haze, with a really cool angst filled guitar sound. Other tunes are slow and nicely melodic, but highly intense, with dual sensations of majesty and doom. Kind of like a more fuzzed out hard Psych version of Black Sabbath. To is a highlight, alternating between grungy, thrashy Psychedelic Rock ‘n’ Roll and mellower segments with tasteful melodic guitar. Soon is another standout, being a ballsy Stoner Rock ‘n’ Roller with a sassy swaggering groove. But the last two tracks are my favorites and are very different from one another. Mother is the shortest track of the set but also the most high energy and tightly wound, sounding like a Wolfmother/Colour Haze shotgun wedding and includes some ripping wah’d solos. And Fucker is the fuzziest, sludgiest, doomiest track of the set, with guitar licks that cut like some Psychedelic demon’s knife.

In summary, Kalamata will appeal to fans of Psychedelic Stoner and Doom rock. There’s nothing to really give them their own identity but they quite capably add their voice to the genre.

To stream, download or purchase the CD visit:

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz