Archive for July 28, 2015

Tir na nOg – “The Dark Dance” (Tir na nOg Records 2015, CD)

Formed in 1970 by the Irish duo of Sonny Condell and Leo O’Kelly, Tir na nOg recorded three albums for the Chrysalis label (1971-73), and then that was it for new music until a 4-song vinyl single on the Fruits de Mer Records label last year. Now, 42 years after their last full length, the duo have released the 10-song The Dark Dance.

The trademark Tir na nOg sound is that of gentle, acoustic driven Folk music, but with a mystical quality, and both Psychedelic and even Prog influences can be detected throughout. I was already acquainted with five of the songs, four of which appeared on the Fruits de Mer single and one, the Pop-Folk and Jazz flavored Andria which was a bonus for reviewers of that single. A standout from that single and included here is a cover of The Silver Apples’ I Have Known Love, which though at first may seem an odd choice for treatment by a Folk band, if you listen closely to the original you’ll hear, buried among all the strangeness, a simple and very pleasant song. Tir Na Nog zero in on that song element and make it their own.

Tir na nOg transcend a simple Folk categorization on songs like You In Yellow, on which the guitar and fiddle combination feels like the kind of magic carpet ride that is typically achieved with synths and other electric instruments. The dual vocals and harmonies on The Angelus are hypnotic and uplifting, and the fiddle dances about with leads that are as inspiring as the vocals. I love the subtle drones and single intermittent note that adds so much character to the short but concise I Pick Up Birds At Funerals. Ricochet is a spirited tune that incorporates Arabian influences and would be equally at home in both Pub and far flung Eastern souk. Sympathetic Love has an elusive theme shifting Prog complexity as well as a 60s Folk-Pop-Psych quality. Maybe it’s the vocals, but The Gangway has a Simon and Garfunkel character, though within the tender Tir na nOg Folk context. Time Is Gone is a merry feel good tune. And the title track is an instrumental with the most traditional Celtic influences of the set, though it’s underscored by an incessant drone that infuses the music with a hypnotic Pied Piper feel.

In summary, this is a beautiful set of Folk songs that has far more to offer than the Folk categorization would typically imply. I’ll repeat my comment from last year’s Fruits de Mer single that if you’re unfamiliar with these guys but are a dedicated FdM patron who enjoys Soft Hearted Scientists, then you’re sure to dig Tir na nOg. They’re more stripped down and not as “out there” as the Scientists can get, but definitely in the same general realm.

For more information visit the Tir na nOg web site at:
Note that a vinyl LP version of The Dark Dance is planned for release on Fruits de Mer Records later this year. Keep your eyes peeled to

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Beautify Junkyards – “The Beast Shouted Love” (Mega Dodo 2015, CD/LP/DL)

Lisbon, Portugal’s Beautify Junkyards came to my attention a couple years ago with their Fruits de Mer Records contributions and debut album, all of which consisted of an intriguing array of covers by such bands as The Hollies, Nick Drake, Os Mutantes and more, the standout being a cosmic Folk rendition of Kraftwerk’s Radioactivity. As creative as many of their interpretations were, I closed my review of the band’s first album with a call for some original songs, and as wishes are apparently sometimes granted, that is precisely what the new Beautify Junkyards album consists of.

The cosmic Folk term I used in reference to the Kraftwerk cover is characteristic of the Beautify Junkyards sound. The music is delicately pastoral and acoustic driven, but includes electronics, synths and Mellotronic flutes to create something that is beautifully bucolic, dreamily spaced out, and often fascinatingly yet accessibly avant-garde. The promo sheet describes a process whereby the band record live in a field with a mobile studio, followed by a post-production process where effects and synths are added, and this is crucial to the Beautify Junkyards sound. There is an elusive diversity of influences that merrily coexist on these songs, with Medieval and electronica elements, along with a lysergic surrealism being creatively incorporated into the band’s core sound.

One song that highlights these seamless contrasts is Lake, which features one of the most gentle combinations of male/female vocals and acoustic instruments imaginable, and is augmented by robotically cascading electronics, synth melodies, spaced out atmospherics and off-kilter electronic rhythms that choppily march alongside the reflective cosmic flow, conjuring up images of some extraterrestrial Renaissance Fair. Valley Of Wonders demonstrates Beautify Junkyards’ flair for the surreal, sounding like a 60s Folk-Psych song injected with dreamy carnival themes and deep space imagery.

Beautify Junkyards are on to something that to my ears is more than a few steps outside the box. The music and vocals are enchanting, mesmerizing, and captivatingly beautiful, yet full of adventure as the band explore a range of cosmic sounds and stylistic elements. I can easily see this album appealing to a diverse audience – Folk-Psych, Wyrd-Folk, Prog, Space Rock, Krautrock and more. Highest recommendation.

The Beast Shouted Love is scheduled for release on September 14th. For more information visit the Mega Dodo web site at:
Stream samples and pre-order at:

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Alien Planetscapes – “Time Capsule” (Self-Released 2015, 2-CD)

Here’s another gem from the Alien Planetscapes archives. These recordings date back to 1984-85 and were released by Arnold Mathes as two 1985 cassette albums: Gleepsite and Target: Earth. The backstory is that AP ship commander Doug “Dr Synth” Walker heard Mathes’ music on the radio and wrote to him asking if he would be interested in recording. Some of tracks are Walker-Mathes duo recordings with Walker on synths, sequencers, flute, gliss guitar, tapes and effects, and Mathes on synths, digital sampler, drum machine, tapes and effects. Others includes James Levine (who I’d not heard of before) on synth, drum machine, tapes and effects and John Likides on guitar, guitar synthesizer and effects.

Much of the music is characteristic of the duo recordings Walker was doing in this period with various electronic artists, but some foresees the bigger band music that AP would more fully explore in subsequent years. Some tracks feature a mixture of electronic space symphonic Progressive Rock and early Tangerine Dream/Klaus Schulze, with intense cosmic orchestrations colored by oodles of bleeping and soaring electronic effects. We’ve also got space excursions with multiple layers of soundscape, drone and percussive patterns, including various synth fun, atmospherics and effects. This is music that flows continuously but couldn’t be further from meditative floating space electronica. There’s so much happening and so much to digest that it begs the listener’s undivided attention. There are synth jams scattered throughout that invoke Sun Ra, which is no surprise given Doug’s passion for Free-Jazz. I like the quirky, Casio-like percussion on Systems Activated, which lays the foundation for what sounds like a Jerry Goodman Mahavishnu Orchestra violin solo, all within a deep space exploratory context. I like the contrast between the repetitive pounding singular drum beats, melodic trippy synth melody, soaring synth lines and effects. And the spirit of Free-Jazz continues in some of the frenzied, high intensity synth and effects mania pieces.

Two of the standout tracks are the ones that feature prominent guitar from Likides. Ghostship is a free-wheeling glom of whirring oscillations and effects, howling atmospherics, and streams of varied guitar soloing, some of which remind me of Roger Trigeaux’s work with Present, some that strays into Derek Bailey territory, and some is just rip it up rocking. It’s very intense and filmic in its noisy, spaced out and creatively chaotic way. Ritual includes Robert Fripp styled guitar (among other variations Likides cranks out), which sounds pretty cool alongside all the whimsical percussive clatter, zig-zagging electronic effects and cauldron of synths. And the nearly 20 minute Target: Earth is like a synthesis of everything that came before, being a glom of image inducing symphonic space electronics, thematic orchestral Progressive Rock, spaced out electronic Free-Jazz, 80s New Wave, soundscapes, drones and effects GALORE. I never tire of these Alien Planetscapes recordings that people continue to reissue. Keep ’em coming!

For more information email Arnold Mathes at:

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Carlton Melton – “Out To Sea” (Agitated Records 2015, 2-LP + CD)

This is one of the more different and varied albums I’ve heard from Carlton Melton, serving up a mixture of freeform explorations and more tightly composed tunes.

The adventure begins with Peaking Duck, a monstrous slab of stoned Space Rock with a foundation of pure propulsive droning sludge, bubbling-wah’d-liquid and Hendrix laced trip guitar, and searing synth lines. We’ve also got a few short and to the point tunes. Wheel And Deal features 3+ minutes of hard acid drenched Psych Rock. Amfmpm is a brief chunk of acidic Funk-Psych swagger. And the 2+ minute Perdiddle is a cool and strange blend of playful rhythms and melodies, acid-Blues guitar licks and soundscape waves of fuzz.

One of the most mood softening moments of the set is Diamond In The Rough, a gently ambient and melodic guitar meditation. Things get aggressive again with Out To Sea, which is more of an impending eruption than a song or jam. Too Close To Home is like a cross between the dreamy Diamond In The Rough and the more aggressive Out To Sea, feeling like an exploratory blend of early Tangerine Dream and Ash Ra Tempel. Similarities travels a similar path, being a gradually evolving atmospheric stroll with a light rhythmic pulse and peacefully jamming guitars that are spaced out and even a bit Bluesy. It’s Been Summer All Winter is deep space ambient and psychedelically cinematic, with soundscape waves that weave a meditative path, paralleled by pulsating drones and dual guitars playing lightly trippy jamming solos. I can only describe The Barrier as Stoner-Minimalism, being a 10+ minute sonic noise-fuzz assault that rolls along like a tank and gradually increases in volume and acid drenched intensity. The drums maintain a steadily marching beat as the guitars vaporize everything in their path. Despite the aggression this piece manages to be strangely and frighteningly hypnotic. And Realms is a fitting closing track, being a narcotic orchestral Space-Drone-Ambient excursion. This is a damn fine set that showcases Carlton Melton’s flair for an array of structured, atmospheric, and jamming music.

For more information visit the Carlton Melton web site at:

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

A.J. Kaufmann – “Kaufi” / Sauer Adler – “2014-2015″ (Self-Released 2015, Download)

Polish musician, songwriter and poet A.J. Kaufmann is a prolific artist. Kaufi is no longer his most recent album, but having been released in March it’s still a pretty fresh set of A.J.’s lo-fi Psych songs. Tunes like The Cup and Insane In Rome feature A.J.’s trademark brand of lo-fi Psychedelic Folk-Pop. The music is characterized by strumming acoustic guitar with an underlying electric acid burn and A.J.’s spirited vocals. Ditto for Illicit, which is embellished with a dash of West Coast Psych in the guitar solo. I like the combination of strumming acoustic and bouncy wah’d Psych guitar licks on songs like Little Girl Dark Hair and Berlin Beat Verlaine, as well as the uplifting and Psychedelically dreamy Shroud The Sun. There’s an aura of James Bond soundtrack danger to the dirty Psych rocking Waves. Dig that manic guitar. A.J. explores his inner Lou Reed on Fluctuation, and the spirit of Syd Barrett is alive and well on Venera In The Bath. A.J. goes balls-to-the-walls high energy on the Acid-Folk rock ‘n’ rolling Dada Rock. I like the trippy flower-power vibe on Shirley Valentine. And I dig the oddball feel of all the freaky alien effects that punctuate Why This Sure Ain’t Heaven.

I was first introduced to A.J.’s music through Sauer Adler, his duo project with Kacper Wojaczek. Their latest effort, an EP titled Wojaczekful of Kaufmann, has changed since I first received it. Wojaczek has left and A.J. now works with German musician Radu Rusanu. So the Wojaczekful of Kaufmann has now been paired up with the previously released Trips And Dreams Of Stephen Adler album plus a couple other songs and retitled 2014-2015. I already reviewed Trips And Dreams (CLICK HERE to read) and will just cover the Wojaczekful of Kaufmann tunes.

Giants Under The Sun opens with an extended intro that combines freaky electronic effects and waves of flowing and pulsating spacey synth lines. After a couple minutes it launches into a Progressive Rock take on A.J.’s solo songs, with its Prog infused keys and shifting rhythmic gymnastics. Come For Tea features weirdo dance party Space Rock surf music with Psych guitar licks and a more ominous tone in A.J.’s vocals, and yet more interesting rhythmic variation. After a beautifully melodic piano and soaring space synth intro, The Tramp And The Fiend becomes a Prog-Psych-Folk song with equal parts Peter Hammill and spaghetti Western soundtrack vibe. I love the Hammond styled organ on Flowerhands, which is like an orchestrated and 70s Hard Rock influenced version of an A.J. solo song. Acapulco Gold is part swinging Pop song and spacey song-oriented heavy Prog. And the set closes with the aptly titled Space Lullaby, a lovely cosmic space crooner. This is by far the best I’ve heard from Sauer Adler yet, so with Wojaczek having left the fold it will be interesting to hear how things develop with A.J.’s new collaborator.

To stream and download Kaufi and other A.J. Kaufmann albums visit:
To stream and download 2014-2015 and other Sauer Adler albums visit:
CLICK HERE to read the interview I did with A.J. late last year.

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Space Mirrors – “Stella Polaris” (Review and Interview with Alisa Coral)

Space Mirrors – “Stella Polaris” (Atomic Age Records 2015, CD/DL)

Stella Polaris is the third and final installment in the Cosmic Horror trilogy of albums based on H.P. Lovecraft stories. I can’t claim to be well versed in the contemporary Metal scene but I would be surprised if many bands are blending Progressive Metal and Space Rock the way Space Mirrors are. To my ears this is a fairly unique blend of styles and, speaking from the Space Rock perspective, they are taking the music in exciting directions.

Haunter Of The Dark opens with the characteristic Space Mirrors mixture of Space Rock and Gothic influences, as bubbling alien synths mix with dark Mellotron orchestration, melodic flute and vocal narration, before launching into a chunky rocking Metal tale of “cosmic evil”. The steady rocking Metal assault continues on Celephais. Sparky Simmons’ guitar is a commanding force, cranking out chunky chords and killer ripping solos as Martyr sing-speaks in his trademark vocal style. There are some tasty classic Prog keyboard fills too. In my review of the recent The Street Remains EP I commented on tracks where Martyr’s vocals stray into somewhat more conventional “singing”, and that’s what we hear on the upbeat song The White Ship, which includes melodic guitar and bass solos. I love how the title track marches along fiercely against a flowing Mellotron backdrop, plus Nik dueling with himself on sax and flute for the finale. (A Passer) Through The Storm is a short but speedy blast of thrashy Space-Metal, with the alien synths weaving an insect-like path through the proceedings. In The Blood features Space Mirrors at their song-oriented Prog-Metal best, as they blur the lines between ambience, Metal offensive, dark Gothic anthem quality, and melodic tune that you might even sing along with. Burning Chaplet is a surprise, alternating between beautifully pastoral and more sinister passages, and features darkly enchanting vocals from Martyr. Then past the halfway mark it briefly launches into a majestic and heavy rocking instrumental before veering into full blown keyboard led Prog mode. A sense of evil permeates throughout West Of Arkham, a heavy rocker that features blazing Prog-Metal but also has a good old rock ‘n’ roll feel and even swings when Nik jams on the sax. The sax is by no means something one would expect with music like this but it really sounds cool. The Crawling Chaos begins with a spaced out, effects-laden intro with rushing soundscapes and acoustic guitar bits plus Martyr’s narrative vocals. Then the band eases into a funky Metal march, surrounded by Mellotron waves and a flurry of electronic embellishments. At 11 minutes this track is tightly arranged yet manages to take off and explore various thematic themes. It’s Space Mirrors at their Space-Prog-Metal best and is one of my favorites of the set. Essential Saltes Of Humane Dust is a powerhouse Prog-Metal blast. The “official” conclusion to the album is The Master, which consists of spoken word from Nik backed by Mellotron, space electronics and flute. But there’s one more surprise uncredited track, which is The Ancient Ones, a cover of the song by the band Morbid Angel (and also appeared on The Street Remains EP). It’s a head spinning Prog-Metal rocker that zig zags between blazing rock and pure spaced out thrash. No easy landing here folks.

Discussing her new albums has become a tradition and so I asked Alisa Coral the following questions by email:

Aural Innovations (AI): Stella Polaris concludes the Cosmic Horror trilogy series of albums based on H.P. Lovecraft stories. Where did the title Stella Polaris come from?

Alica Coral (AC): This is a good question. I was in Rome and travelling many times on train through the station Stella Polare. I thought what a great title for the album. And there was a Lovecraft story “Polaris” which I really liked. So it all clicked together and we have Stella Polaris.

AI: You and I have been communicating for many years and you know I like the way Space Mirrors has evolved, but I have to tell you that Stella Polaris illustrates how amazingly Space Mirrors has come together as a BAND. I’m blown away by how tightly arranged and played the music is from beginning to end.

AC: That’s because we really became a band. We needed The Other Gods to know each other styles better and when recordings for Stella started we were ready. You know in the past there were basically just me and Michael playing most instruments. I always wanted to move forward to progress. He left Space Mirrors after Majestic-12 and I didn’t know what lies in store for us. But Martyr became a member of the band and together we started to rebuild the whole group. He really helped with his contacts in the metal scene. There were many line-up changes; we became what I called collective. It was very interesting to work with different musicians. But Martyr and I wanted a stable line-up. I wanted to write and arrange songs together. Not just record guest musicians. I wanted them to be involved in the life of the band. Martyr brought Claudio as our drummer and it was a huge boost to the sound. I knew his drumming from his work with such musicians as Blaze Bayley and Tim Owens; mostly live. It was the style I knew would fit us perfectly. I got to know Sparky and Gabriel through Facebook and they really wanted to be a part of Space Mirrors. Their enthusiasm for Space Mirrors’ music was genuine and I was very happy that such professionals joined the band. Their impact already can be heard on The Other Gods album. But on Stella we all became one music entity. That’s amazing knowing that we all live in different places and even countries.

AI: Let’s talk about some of the songs. I love the stylistic contrasts throughout the album. Like on West Of Arkham, which is this blazing Prog-Metal tune but includes swinging sax from Nik. The sax is not something you would expect on music like this but it sounds so cool.

AC: When I composed West of Arkham it was always going to have a sax solo! When I write a song I usually see the whole picture in my mind. So it’s never a sudden idea; the stylistic variety is not accidental. Maybe I’ll disappoint some hardcore psychedelic music fans but I almost never improvise. I think out every line I compose and play. For Nik I left the space for his sax improvisation inside the structure of the song. I have invited Nik Turner for every album since Majestic-12 (2008) and I know his style and where his playing will have the most effect. On Stella, Nik also plays very nice flute and narrates the final track poem. Nik never disappoints. I feel honoured to have the opportunity to record with such a legend.

AI: Burning Chaplet was a bit of a surprise. It covers a lot of stylistic territory but stood out for me as it features some of the most pastoral music I’ve heard from Space Mirrors.

AC: Yes, Burning Chaplet is the most ballad type song from Space Mirrors yet. One morning I got an email from Martyr saying, “hey, I wtote a great ballad for Space Mirrors”. I replied “don’t forget about it, we will use it on the next album.” So the music was written by Martyr and lyrics by Dr. Blackfyre. It’s inspired by a Quest of Iranon story which is pastoral by itself. When I heard the music I couldn’t think about any other story than Iranon, I was sure it would fit very well. So I asked Dr. Blackfyre to write lyrics for it.

AI: The Crawling Chaos is one of my favorite tracks of the set. It’s tightly arranged and played, yet explores a lot of thematic territory and for me it features Space Mirrors at your Space-Prog-Metal best.

AC: I agree, it’s a very Space Mirrors type of track. And the music is composed by Gabriel. I only wrote the lyrics and some arrangements. When I heard the demo I knew it would be a great epic song with everything in it; long, three parts and all. Sparky added great acoustic guitars and really cool solos. But first of all the song went out to our drummer Claudio who had the freedom to create his own thing there, especially in the first four minute intro part. In the end Martyr added the final twist with what I think is one of his best vocal performances which completed the song.

AI: There is a hidden/uncredited Track 12. Any comment about that?

AC: It’s our cover of Ancient Ones by Morbid Angel, a very technical track in the Lovecraftian theme. After the Memories Of The Future album I decided that there will be no cover songs on the concept albums. But after some deliberation I thought it would be still be cool to use that song as a hidden track finishing the album on a high note. I thought it will sound cool after The Master track. And Kevin actually made a hint about the song in the booklet.

AI: Space Mirrors consists of you from Russia, Martyr and Claudio from Italy, Sparky and Gabe from the U.S., and if we count Nik that’s the UK too. It’s a truly international lineup!

AC: That was my ambition to create a project where people from different countries could work together and create great music showing that nationalities and different languages don’t matter. There is only one language – music! I put a lot of effort into this. And it’s annoying that some music journalists don’t do their job and never check the background of the band when writing reviews. They see that I’m from Russia and call us a Russian band. Sometimes it’s getting so ridiculous; they even hear a Russian accent in Martyr’s voice!

AI: This is probably just wishful thinking but I’ll ask anyway… is there any chance of Space Mirrors coming together to perform live? I know you have traveled to Europe in the past.

AC: It is my wishful thinking too. But in reality it’s almost impossible. Even if to set aside my recent health problems and imagine that I can travel to any country without any problems with a visa there is still the financial question. Who will pay for getting us together in one rehersal room, for the travel tickets, who will pay all the expenses? Everyone of us have some other jobs we can’t just leave. There should be a strong financial backing. And many bands now don’t earn anything by playing live. Actually some bands even pay for playing gigs. It’s an impossible situation. This is completely wrong.

AI: Kevin Sommers’ artwork for the album is fantastic and we’re treated to this beautiful 16 page booklet with lyrics and credits. AND he wrote some of the lyrics.

AC: With Space Mirrors you can always expect a full colored booklet accompanying the regular album. It was the case right from the start. It was always frustrating to see that many space rock bands didn’t care about the visual aspect of their releases in the past. So I decided to always give the fans the visual treat along with the music, like it is usually on metal scene. These days when so many people download music the physical album should be something special. Kevin is so good with photos. Most of the pics in the booklet are real photos he worked on. He can do magic with them adding his own artistic view. He really forms the visual aspect of Space Mirrors and he is a member of the band. He joined Space Mirrors the same year as Martyr, creating complex and beautiful artwork for Majestic-12 and we have worked with him ever since. Every official picture of Space Mirrors is his work. I’m also always checking my lyrics with him and this time I asked him to write lyrics for two songs: West of Arkham and Essential Saltes of Humane Dust. The titles for the songs are his. I gave him music and Lovecraft stories which inspired me and he came up with excellent lyrics. The Stella album became a really collective effort and I’m very pleased with how it all turned out.

AI: Speaking of lyrics, who is Dr. Blackfyre?

AC: He is a fan of Lovecraft who wants to remain just Dr. Blackfyre. He likes Space Mirrors and last year he contacted me about writing a song together. He had lyrics for Celephais and I started composing music. Together we finished the song. Then he wrote lyrics for Burning Chaplet and The Master, this dedication to H.P. Lovecraft was his idea. And he thought Nik should narrate it and that every member of the band should say “the master” in the end for the most impact. I agreed. I think it worked brilliantly.

AI: When I interviewed you for The Other Gods, I commented on how quickly it had followed Part I of The Cosmic Horror series, and even at that time (2013) you predicted that Part III would not follow in only a year. You released two EPs since The Other Gods came out, I think in part to raise funds for Stella Polaris.

AC: With The Other Gods I had already started recording when In Darkness We Whisper was released so it was fast. For Part III I only had some ideas. In March 2014 I released The Golden Path EP with some reworked songs from the past and early demos. It was a digital only release for fans marking our 10th Anniversary of the The Darker Side of Art album. Also it was an opportunity to raise some funds for recording Stella Polaris. I never liked the idea of using crowdfunding services. For me it’s like begging. I would rather starve and pay the last money to record drums than be begging over the internet. But to have something for fans which they can buy and through this help with recordings is all right. So that EP fulfilled two functions – we got our first retrospective compilation and raised some money. It wasn’t enough to pay all studio expenses but very heartening to see the messages fans sent when buying that release. Their support is always something special for a musician. By the way, the Bandcamp site brought most of money from the digital release than any other internet service. The second EP was released recently on June 10 in both physical and digital formats. CD has two bonus tracks. The idea for The Street Remains EP was to release a single extended version of the song In The Blood from the Stella album along with three cover songs. You know I didn’t want cover songs on the regular album and they didn’t fit the Lovecraftian concept. I Breathe is my old favourite by Swedish pop band Vacuum and I thought it would sound great with heavy guitars, real drums and Martyr’s vocals. Gabe used an Ashbory bass for it and I did some cool synth arrangements there. Bad Things was a some sort of last minute idea before getting demos to Claudio. I’m a big fan of the True Blood series and wanted to record a cover of the main theme. But these tracks were recorded during the same sessions as other songs on Stella Polaris. So this EP can be considered as a big 41 minute bonus to the main album. The song In The Blood was composed by Sparky and right from the beginning I knew it would be our first single.

AI: Let’s talk about labels. When we spoke about The Other Gods in 2013 you were on Transubstans and very pleased with the distribution and promotion. And now The Street Remains EP that you just released and the new Stella Polaris are on Atomic Age Records. They reissued your Neutron Star album some years back, right? Who are they? I don’t see a web site for them.

AC: Transubstans was a good experience but there were some technical problems and delays with The Other Gods album. The digital version was released before the CD, which wasn’t a good strategy in my opinion. Anyway, I’m grateful to them for the opportunities but we had to part ways. I looked for other record labels for some time. I had ridiculous offers to release the new album and paying them from 2.000 to 5.000 EUR for it. Now it’s a standard practice for many bands with loads of money which they don’t know how to spend. Other labels didn’t want to print the normal CD booklet; they wanted to go cheap and that is not the way for Space Mirrors as I mentioned before. So I didn’t get an offer I liked and decided to ressurect my old record label Atomic Age Records. I had old contacts here in Russia from the Darker Side times and with the help of Irond records could release the new album and EP how I wanted with better quality and for less money. I got distribution through Clear Spot for it. There is a Facebook site for my label @ And if I have some success with the new release I will welcome other bands to my record label.

AI: Speaking of labels, promotion, distribution, etc… what is your opinion of the current music industry, both independent and major?

AC: I said it before and will say again – the situation is critical. Gene Simmons of Kiss actually described it all very good recently. He got a lot of criticism because of that but he is right. New bands can’t make any living on their music. Downloading killed the music industry. In one thing he was wrong though. He said “rock is dead”. I say “music is dead”. Not only rock industry is suffering but also classical music has problems. Many people now think, “why should these musicians be paid? They do what they like, they should do it for free then.” And pop music became just a cheap low quality jingle to selling jeans, perfume or whatever. Music doesn’t sell itself anymore. It’s dying out like dinosaurs. If you are not a big band from the past you can’t even earn anything touring if you don’t get a beverage sponsor for example or something like this. Playing live is reducing to local performances where musicians have to play basically for food. Everyone has to take regular non-music jobs to make a living and pay bills. Music becomes an elite thing for the chosen few who still listen to the music. And many of those are musicians themselves. Music is not fashionable anymore. Videogames are. And less and less people actually listen to new music. They want reinvented retro which is a dead end anyway. If less and less people pay for new music it won’t be recorded. Musicians won’t have money to make quality recordings and buy good music instruments. So it will also cause the collapse of the music instruments industry. The instruments will cost more and more and also become a toy for super rich people. Gibson Les Paul for 8.000 USD or ESP Horizon for 4.500 USD is ridiculous. That’s one side of the coin.

Another is the very unprofessional attitude of people who run the music industry. As Meat Loaf pointed out in his autobiography, it started in the 80’s when accountants and managers came to rule the music industry. To sell music is not the same thing as to sell soda or chocolate bars. People with no musical background and no taste in music shouldn’t work at record labels. How can they see what will sell and what not if at best they listen to some radio in the car? Labels don’t try to sell music to earn money, they want to be paid by bands. Not to pay bands. Recently I had a laugh through tears experience with one big record label. I was contacted about the possibility of including Space Mirrors in a new Space rock compilation. I replied that we would be happy to contribute a track of course and sent several songs to choose from like Earth Gods Dance and Strange High House. Then a person responsible for this compilation replies that all is very good but our music doesn’t fit the concept of space rock; that we play straight melodic rock metal. Well, yes, we are metal and melodic but we are space rock too. I ask him what is space rock in his opinion and give my examples: Master of the Universe, Brainstorm and D-Rider. He answers that Brainstorm is a metal band (I know about that band by the way…). I understand that he doesn’t even read what I write or doesn’t comprehend. I tell him about Nik Turner who wrote those songs and seems like he doesn’t know who Nik is. Maybe he never heard Hawkwind. I understand why he didn’t even comment that some of our songs which I sent had Nik playing. It’s like talking in different languages. And of course I never got examples of what is space rock from him. This is the kind of people big labels choose to work in A&R department now. That’s why music industry is in crisis too. So the future of music is not very bright.

AI: Finally, any news about upcoming projects of any kind, or other bands you are working with?

AC: I have plans for the next Space Mirrors album but it’s too early to tell anything exact. It won’t be a strictly concept album. And I want more songs composed together by us as a band. I also recorded for the new Spaceseed album recently. Very interesting stuff. They have many cool ideas for this one. And I want to try to develop my own record label. But it all depends on many things…

Stella Polaris is scheduled for release on August 1st. For more information visit the Space Mirrors web site at:
Purchases can be made from the Space Mirrors web shop at:
Visit the Space Mirrors Bandcamp site at:

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

The Grand Astoria – “The Mighty Few” (NNNL / Firestorm Prod 2015, CD/DL)

My introduction to St. Petersburg, Russia based The Grand Astoria was through their contribution to the Fruits de Mer Records Strange Fish compilation and a cover of Can’s Oh Yeah to the Fruits de Mer Roqueting Through Space collection. Headed up by Kamille Sharapodinov (who does double duty with his Organic is Orgasmic project), The Grand Astoria includes multiple musicians on guitars, keyboards, synths, Rhodes, piano, flute, clarinet, trumpet, saxophone, drums and percussion.

The Mighty Few is their latest and consists of two epic length tracks. The music defies simple description as The Grand Astoria incorporates multiple stylistic influences, both in combination and as they transition through multiple themes.

The 28 minute Curse Of The Ninth kicks off in atmospheric Doom-Jazz mode, if you can envision that description. But what starts off led by sax and Rhodes quickly switches gears as the band launches into a Stoner-Metal dirge with solid rocking vocals and cool fuzz-wah’d Psych guitar. But nothing sits still for long as an abrupt flute and acoustic guitar transitional bit leads to a steadily rolling Prog-Jazz jam that retains a wee bit of the tension-laden stoned vibe and includes trippy soundscape guitar embellishment. I really dig the use of the Rhodes and clarinet. Nice male and female vocals. The compositions and arrangements are sophisticated in grand Prog tradition, but there’s also a cool grooving flow that maintains a nice jamming feel. And sure enough, the band eventually veer back into Prog infused Stoner-Metal territory, which soon soars into space as the Psychedelic-Metal guitar and rhythm section gallop along frantically with schools of rushing synths and wildly oscillating electronics whizzing by. And on we go. Wow, 28 minutes of head-spinning compositional and thematic gymnastics that deftly integrates Prog, Jazz, Psychedelia, Metal and more.

The 21 minute The Siege is next and starts off as a Prog, Space Rock and twin guitar Hard Rock and Fuzz-Metal edged rocker, which soon shifts to a funky Jazz groove and vocal number. My favorite part is the hair-raising Psychedelic Prog-Metal segment that’s like an orchestral marching battalion, which ends up going totally acid molten lava eruptive and sounds especially insane with the horns blaring along with the volcanic intensity. And when the assault subsides the music gets downright ambient meditative, before starting fresh with a spirited Prog instrumental with Jazz bits and spaced out effects. And just as the music is bouncing along with a spring in its step… BAM!! We’re slammed with a high powered symphonic Prog-Metal offensive. Ya gotta love these guys.

If what I’ve described sounds like a lot of oddball transitions I can tell you that The Grand Astoria make it all cohesively connected and pretty damn exciting. Even with only the Fruits de Mer recordings to compare with there is clearly a lot of varied music that The Grand Astoria are capable of, and looking at their Bandcamp page there are a LOT of previous selections to explore.

Stream and download The Mighty Few and lots of other Grand Astoria music at:
Purchase The Mighty Few CD by emailing the band at:
Visit the No Name label’s Bandcamp site at:

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Kanoi – “Buru Haze” (Clostridium Records 2015, LP/CD/DL)

Kanoi is the project of Austrian musician Benjamin Kantschieder. He’s released several albums and singles as Kanoi, some as a one man band and some with other musicians. Earlier this year he released the download only EP Gemstone Sunrise, which was intended as a teaser for the just released full length Buru Haze.

Naeco II opens the set and immediately reminds me of Porcupine Tree’s Sky Moves Sideways album with its spaced out and valium paced rocking blend of strumming acoustic guitar, monster electric guitar attack, atmospheric washes, cascading electronic effects, and trippy vocals. A powerful Space-Psych opener. This melts seamlessly into the funky Psych rocking title track. It’s chunky Hard Psych with a slow but assertive groove, a brash dirty edge to the rhythm guitar and tasty Hendrix inspired leads. The music continues to flow as Buru Haze comes in for a deep space landing and bleeds into the short transitional The Golden Country, a drifting bit of Bluesy soundscape guitar and atmospherics which sets the stage for Windchild, a beautifully spaced out and trippy blend of Porcupine Tree and The Spacious Mind. It’s all non-stop as we smoothly transition to Song Of Distance, which once again brings to mind Porcupine Tree circa Sky Moves Sideways, but also has a touch of West Coast Psych and even Gram Parsons in the core song portion. By The Sunrise is a lovely trippy song with strumming acoustic guitar and vocals at the core, and augmented with a slow, drugged beat, scrumptious Blues-Psych guitar leads, ethereal soundscapes and swirly electronics. Quokka is a funky Space-Prog coda to By The Sunrise. And, finally, the 14+ minute A New Beginning And The Sprawling Sky wraps up the set with a blend of all the influences that came before it. It opens with Bluesy Hendrix guitar jamming along with lilting acoustic guitar and spacey keyboard driven Psychedelia, before gently launching into a steady paced Space-Psych rocker with seriously passionate guitar leads. But the themes continually shift as the music alternates between dreamy meditative passages and Hendrix-in-space Blues-Psych jams. Scrumptious!

Damn, this is by far the best set I’ve heard from Kanoi yet. Each track is distinctive yet is mixed such that they all flow seamlessly from one to the next, making this very much a full album experience. Fans of early Porcupine Tree, The Spacious Mind and Pink Floyd who also have a taste for Hendrix will love this.

There are several format options for Buru Haze. Clostridium Records pressed up 333 vinyl copies: 222 black vinyl gatefold LP, hand number with 16 page booklet, and 111 colored die hard edition with the same plus a digipak CD of the album with The Golden Country as a bonus track. You can also buy the CD and a download edition from the Kanoi Bandcamp site.

For more information visit the Clostridium Records web site at:
For Buru Haze and many other albums visit the Kanoi Bandcamp site at:

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Paul Roland – “Bitter and Twisted” (Sireena Records 2015, CD)

For 35 years, British singer, song-writer, musician and author Paul Roland has been recording his distinctive brand of Psychedelic-Pop, Gothic-Psych-Baroque, Dark-Folk, Prog-Psych, and you name it cross-section of these styles. Bitter and Twisted is his latest, offering up an assortment of merry tales running a gamut of twisted topics.

There’s lots of variety here so I’ll give you the nickel tour of Bitter and Twisted’s 13 songs. Right out of the chute we know this is going to be a fun set with the opener, I’m The Result Of An Experiment (Which Went Hideously Wrong), a high energy rocker about a bad plastic surgery outcome. Paul has a solid backing band in Mick Crossley on guitars, Joshua Roland on bass and Violet the Cannibal on drums. I like the ambient trip guitar on Dali’s Dream. Hugo is a beautifully arranged Pop-Psych song with chamber ensemble bits that inject a lilting darkness into this tale of a ventriloquist and his psycho dummy (the image of the pair on the promo CD is freaky and I’m trying to think of what movie it’s from). Paul crosses good time Psychobilly with Morricone Western on Devil’s Jukebox. The Psychedelic Western themes continue on Another Me, an eerie tune about the whispering voices of one’s doppelganger. This tune takes more of an instrumental stretch-out liberty than most of the songs as it veers into Prog-Psych territory with trippy guitar, organ and strings. We’re treated to more Prog-Psych on the title track, which covers an impressive variety of thematic ground in less than 3 minutes. Paul’s voice sounds cool and freaky when he warbles “Are we naught men?!”. Love those searing guitar licks combined with acoustic guitar too. Catatonic is a dirty bar Blues rocker that’ll make you run for the liquor cabinet. I’ve Been Hearing Voices is one of my favorite songs and the longest of the set, being a beautiful and haunting Folk-Psych-Prog song that blends medieval, Eastern, and orchestrated elements. And once again we hear really cool ripping electric guitar solo sounds, which go great with the strumming acoustic guitar, blending Acid-Psych and medieval Folk themes. Zanti Misfits is a chunky punky rocker inspired by an old Outer Limits TV show episode about insects with human heads. William Bonny’s Trigger Finger has, not surprisingly, an old time Country feel, though Paul’s vocals keep it all firmly in Roland land. Professor Feather features dreamy acoustic and lightly orchestrated Folk-Psych. The aptly titled Born In The 60s is a rousing rocker that cries 96 Tears and heads to Monterey. And Insulted is a bouncy Folk-Pop-Psych song that wraps up the main set.

There are also 5 bonus tracks, including alternate versions of Hugo and Zanti Misfits, an acoustic demo of Devil’s Jukebox, and two songs not on the album: an outtake of Soddom and an acoustic demo of Candyman. Overall, a fun and impressively varied set of well-crafted, performed and arranged songs.

For more information visit the Paul Roland web site at:
Visit the Paul Roland author site at:
Visit the Sireena Records web site at:

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Cary Grace – “Tygerland” (Door 13 Music 2015, CD/DL)

Though born in South Carolina, Cary Grace has been living in the UK since 2005. The 8 tracks on her new Tygerland album, which is my introduction to Cary’s music, reveal a multi-faceted artist who can take accessible song forms and transcend the conventional by taking them into Psychedelic and experimental realms. Dig deeper and you’ll find a lady with an impressive Space Rock and electronic background. The first thing that caught my attention about Tygerland is the presence of guitarist Steffe Sharpstings on 5 tracks. Then I read about Cary’s company Wessex Analogue, which manufactures Wiard brand synthesizers. Then I came across her Bandcamp site and among her previous recordings is a freaky space-electronic collaboration with Grant Richter, who Aural Innovations readers will know from the seminal American Space Rock band F/i, who it turns out Cary recorded and toured with in the U.S. Pretty cool huh?

With this background in mind it perhaps helps to understand Cary’s accessible but not so conventional take on established song forms. The album opens with the title track, an introductory space-out and soundscape piece which includes both freakout and gliss guitar from Steffe. And then out of nowhere there’s a guitar crash and we launch into the melodic Psychedelic Pop song Cyanide, which teeters between dreamy drift and acidic corrosion, with passionate vocals from Cary and equally emotive ripping solos from Steffe. Orange Sky is another example of what may be a Pop tune at its core, but is musically elevated by a lusciously haunting ambience, acidic slow burn, and use of electronic effects that injects an alien presence into the music without overwhelming the song. Kind of like Kate Bush seriously upping the freaky factor.

The stylistic gears shift dramatically on War Child, a down ‘n’ dirty slab of soulfully Psychedelic Blues, which at 9 minutes takes off into Bluesy jamming sultry space and includes ballsy vocals from Cary. If you listen close and strip the song down to its core this could very well be the latest Country crossover hit, but Cary and company take it to some uncertain but totally cool Psychedelic “elsewhere”. Ditto for Limelight, a Jazzy/Bluesy Pop tune with a hovering aura of ambience. Razorwire is a bouncy, feel-good bit of Psychedelic sunshine Pop which includes a fun spaced out electronic effects “jam” segment. Into the Indigo is a lovely Space-Ambient Pop song and has a tasty violin solo by Graham Clark, which goes killer rocking when dueling with guitar, before melting back into the dreamy song.

Finally (hold on to you hats folks), is the 20 minute improvised Windsong, which leaves the Pop world and any sense of song structure behind to blast off into space. It’s a cosmic journey built on ambience, soundscapes, drones, electronic effects, cosmic gliss beauty and spoken word narration, until the Space Rock explosion hits near the 13 minute mark. Cary’s narration now sounds like an inflamed cross between Jim Morrison and Daevid Allen, while the music continues to blow dreamily like some intense but drifting Space-Prog blend of Gong, Pink Floyd and the early 70s German pioneers.

In summary… damn, I don’t know how to sum this up. Listeners could be forgiven for thinking the album too stylistically schizophrenic. I’ve always been among the “bring on whatever you’ve a mind to indulge in” type, so am mightily impressed with Cary’s flair for so many styles, both accessible and otherworldly. It is NOT easy to write and arrange a solid SONG. To do so and manage to up the ante with a sense of adventure, all within the context of the song, makes things very interesting. And then add to that the Space Rock and electronic factor. I really need to explore Cary’s back catalog. There’s clearly far more to her than even this varied album reveals.

For more information visit the Cary Grace web site at:
Stream, download and purchase Tygerland and other Cary Grace albums at:

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz