Archive for December 21, 2015

Church of Hed – “The Autumn Shrine EP” (Eternity’s Jest Records 2015, Download)

Hot on the heels of Church of Hed’s Electric Sepulcher album is the 3-track The Autumn Shrine EP. If you read the interview with Paul Williams that accompanied my Electric Sepulcher review (CLICK HERE) you would know this was on the way.

The mainstay of the EP is the nearly 14 minute The Autumn Shrine (Parts I-III), which Paul describes as “Floyd rides a Camel to Berlin School”, but also, tellingly, as “a requiem for Quarkspace”. The piece kicks off with a combination of melodic Quarkspace-ish piano and Space-Prog keys and a beat that grooves along steadily for the first four minutes. The theme shifts to a pulsating electro pattern, swooshing synths and garbled voice samples with a cool blend of robotic syncopation and aquatic swish. I like the dark Mellotronic and electronica tension before developing into a Quarkspace meets Van der Graaf Generator motif that eventually smooths out to an uplifting Space-Symphonic finale.

Paul describes the relatively short Silicon Rogue as “Bob Moog meets Philip Glass”, and the Glass analogy is immediately apparent with the repetitive pattern that creates a foundation for the melodic but intense piano melody that accompanies it. Finally, Transmixiom is described as “Brian Eno warps from 1975 to today with an appropriate bass response” and features a cool grooving blend of deep space ambience/soundscapes and cosmic dance grooves. With Paul living in the sticks of Kentucky and having achieved, it would seem, Quarkspace closure, we may be seeing a more frequent Church of Hed output. Cross your fingers…

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Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Ciolkowska – “Pistolet Budushchego” (R.A.I.G. 2015, CD/DL)

Ciolkowska are a Saint Petersburg, Russia based quartet whose name refers to the ideas of “Russian Cosmism”, which the R.A.I.G. web site describes as a philosophical and cultural movement that emerged in Russia in the early 20th century and was represented by various Russian philosophers and scholars of the 19th-20th century. Reading that the band formed with a focus on Space, Kraut, Jam and Experimental Rock I was especially anxious to dive in upon seeing that one member is a dedicated ukulele player.

Aspera/Astra opens the set with 11 minutes of lusciously melodic Rock and a hint of Prog. Around the 8 minute mark the music explodes into a swirling cauldron of intense Kosmiche Rock that whips up a frenzy before receding once again into a meditative yet tension-laden rocking drift. I never would have guessed that the beautiful string leads were a ukulele and the instrument is a welcome presence throughout the album. Very nice.

There’s an 80s New Wave and Prog-Punk with a Kosmiche edge on the short but compelling Bang-Utot (Koshmar Pirata). I like the duet between the ukulele and what sounds like a twangy droning jaw harp that permeates throughout Zauryadnaya Radost as crashing guitar and chest thumping bass gradually provoke a heavier rocking pace. Another very cool ethnic flavored and Prog inspired Psychedelic Kosmiche rocker. The aptly titled Tuda b (2dub) adds a bit of Dub pulse and swirl to the mix, and when the chant vocals kick in it sounds like we’re in Space Rock Dervish territory. Several tracks remind me of early Korai Orom’s brand of ethnic infused Space Rock. Ole Lukkoye also comes to mind and there’s a whiff of Ozric Tentacles to be detected as well.

Ciolkowska have a flair for melody and a great combination of rhythmic pulse and hypnotic deep space drift. The musicianship, recording and production are excellent. The music is mostly instrumental with some vocals in Russian. If you like ethnic flavored Space/Psych Rock than you’ll surely dig Ciolkowska. Recommended!

For more information visit the R.A.I.G. web site at:
Stream, download and purchase all R.A.I.G. releases at

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Mechanik – “Eadem Mutata Resurgo” (R.A.I.G. 2015, CD/DL)

Spanish Space/Psych/Kraut rockers Mechanik follow up their 2013 Velut Stella Splendida album with a fresh set of mostly instrumental Space Rock and sound explorations. The R.A.I.G. web site explains that the album was conceived “as a non-stop psych-out transmission with the tracks organically flowing into one another”, and references “themes of Death, Mysticism, Gnosticism, Time Travel, Drug Abuse, Spiritualism, Outer Space, Decadence, etc”.

Non-stop indeed! Nesmrtelnost opens the set and blends propulsive Space Rock with cosmic electronica to create a groove rocker that is somewhat Motorik but much smoother ’round the rhythmic edges. The spacey Frippoid guitar leads that characterized the last album are a commanding presence, winding an acidic snake-like path as showers of molten bubbling electronics surge and wind tunnel waves sweep across the sonic plane. This theme continues its high intensity development as the track cascades seamlessly into A Vechnost, which includes heavily efx’d robot vocals that add an electro-dance vibe to the deep space rocking maelstrom.

The gears shift dramatically with To Tzeitel, a dynamic slab of soulful Psychedelic Funk that’s surrounded by gurgly grooving electronic patterns. Ein Heller Stern lays down a more overtly Motorik pulse that serves as a foundation over which majestic guitar leads soar and a combination of buzzing alien electronics and blizzardous synths explore. I like how the music veers into more purely atmospheric territory, creating the ebbing and flowing feel of an interstellar storm. The appropriately titled Howl features a recitation of Alan Ginsberg’s infamous poem to what is the most straightforward hard and heavy Psychedelic Space Rocker of the set. KILLER attack guitar leads!

The mouthful titled Particulas Subatomicas en el Jet de un Agujero Negro and Eclairs de Vie Apres la Dernier Souffle both play like one, being a sound and soundscape exploratory piece that is both meditatively beautiful and corrosively intense. This melts smoothly into the closely track, Sgt. Shamar Thomas, a melodic blend of Shoegazey Dream-Pop and all the electronic pulses, bubbles and howls that have characterized the album. Very impressive… Mechanik have created a genuine ALBUM that must be heard from start to finish to be fully appreciated.

For more information visit the R.A.I.G. web site at:
Stream, download and purchase all R.A.I.G. releases at

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Mammatus – “Sparkling Waters” (Spiritual Pajamas 2015, CD/LP/DL)

Back in 2013, Mammatus emerged from a 6-year hiatus with the mindblowing album Heady Mental, an album that took the band into definitely more spacey territory than their earlier releases. Just two years later, the band returns with their most ambitious album to date, the mostly instrumental Sparkling Waters; a double album consisting of just four tracks, all over 15-minutes in length. Mammatus continue to embrace their spacier inclinations, but the album also has a much mellower vibe than past releases. They described their debut self-titled album as “the final battle between amps and sea monsters”. It seems the battle is over, and Mammatus have found a more peaceful state of mind.

The 22-minute long Sparkling Waters Part 1 opens with almost 5-minutes of layered drones, beautiful, melodic swells and wind chimes. Those worrying that Mammatus may have evolved into some kind of new age band or something need not worry, though, because at this point the full band kicks in with their trademark guitar arpeggios and complex rhythms which slowly dissolve into a lengthy, breathtakingly gorgeous passage of echoing guitars, spaced out synths and recorder. This is music that really takes you somewhere, whether you think that might be the shores of the Pacific Ocean or the shores of the universe. A slow build takes this one to it’s amazing conclusion, with cosmic voice choruses and a truly exhilarating, spiraling guitar freak-out that will take you off those shores and outward, over the sparkling waters. The band has come a long way from their days of dark, doomy sludgery, to a sound that is infused with light and positive vibes.

The 20-minute Sparkling Waters Part 2 doesn’t so much pick up where Part 1 left off, but establishes itself as an entirely new piece while still continuing the journey. We’re greeted with the sound of crashing waves and a surprisingly chilled, gently loping electronic pulse that plays over deep, ambient space synths, carrying you drifting across the cosmic ocean deeper and deeper into space and time. At 12 1/2-minutes in, a deep, ringing guitar chord announces a change as the band kicks into a slow, Sabbathy kind of groove, but one that eschews the darkness for a more transcendent feel. It’s full of sludgy noise, but what a beautiful, sludgy noise it is!

These two tracks alone would make for a fine album, but there’s still much more to come. The 15-minute track, The Elkhorn, returns to the heavier rocking sound of their previous albums, but with complex, cyclical guitar lines and spacey, pulsing synths driving through it, it at times sounds something like Tangerine Dream, but with heavy guitars. It makes for one hell of a space rock ride, that drifts off into a 4-minute long soaring, ambient space trip at the end.

And then we come to the final piece, the 17 1/2-minute Ornia. With its buzzing, fuzzed out guitars, you would think this would be a much heavier piece, but it’s shot through with dazzling, soaring melodies that make it both heavy and mellow at the same time. It’s a remarkable balancing of tones. The piece goes all ambient in the middle with fuzzy swells of noise, waves, and languid, almost melancholy guitar melodies. This slowly evolves into a gentle, jazzy, rhythmic exploration with laidback wah-wah guitars, recorder and piano, as well as a ton of space effects. The band can’t contain themselves though, and suddenly break into a stunning space funk jam for a breathtaking, spectacular finish.

After two years, Mammatus returns and they do not disappoint. Sparkling Waters can be enjoyed on a number of different levels, from meditative to heavy rocking; from spaced out to just plain freaking out. Mammatus evolves with every release in new and exciting directions, and this one is no exception. Highly recommended!

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Reviewed by Jeff Fitzgerald

The Electric Grandmother – “The Bodyguard Soundtrack” (Infinite Number Of Sounds 2015, CD/DL)

The Electric Grandmother are the Washington, DC based duo of Pete Faust and Mary Alice Hamnett who play seriously strange but good fun and whimsically freaky songs. They’re by no means Space Rock, but they can by spacey. And they sure are Psychedelic, but not in any traditional sense. Actually I’ve had a whacking good time trying to describe just what the hell they do, knowing full well that in the end you’ll just have to hear it for yourself.

The Bodyguard Soundtrack consists of 22 short songs, few much more than 2 minutes, which in some ways struck me as a lo-fi take on The Residents Commercial Album, plus lots of weirded out lo-fi takes on early 80s Synth-Pop/Post-Punk/New Wave. The songs are mostly upbeat and have catchy melodies, but it’s the weirder elements that linger. And the lyrics can get pretty crazy. I mean, how can you not like an album with song titles like Bill and Hillary Clinton Making Out in a Hot Tub Full of Poop and Pee?

Several songs brought to mind the Residents song feel, or maybe Renaldo and the Loaf doing Pop songs would be a better description. I like the punky robotic electro Pop tunes, especially the hilariously goofy and crazily spaced out We Threw Up On Nuns. There’s no shortage of bouncy spacey electro Sunshine Pop ‘n’ Roll songs that I thought were very well done. I liked the steroidal lo-fi electro Pop of Kiss Your Food, and there may be a thematic tie with the following number, Food Gives Us Shit, which is similar but has a dreamier flow despite the hyper-kinetic percussion.

There are also several cool and strange tunes with a Trip-Hop/Dub/Rap element. Three Men And A Baby features freaky yet upbeat Psychedelic Trip-Hop Pop that throws a smoke screen cover over some crazy lyrics. The Raptor Rap has a cool electro Rap-Pop groove. I really enjoyed the weird alien glom of spaced out Trip-Hop infused electro Pop on Fuller House. And Yo Palm Springs says a lot in less than 2 minutes, consisting of a traditional cotton field work song vibe within a Dub-Pop outer casing with lightly percussive and melodic sci-fi ambience. Freak-eeeeee!!

Did any of that make any sense? Really, there’s so much going on here that there’s no concise description or analogy that encapsulates what The Electric Grandmother is up to. But you’ve read this far so I’m assuming you’re intrigued so check ’em out.

For more information visit The Electric Grandmother web site at:
Stream and purchase The Bodyguard Soundtrack and other Electric Grandmother albums at:
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Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Lee Negin – “Frack Art, Let’s Dance” single (Passing Phase Records 2015, Download)

Hot on the heels of his Surfing Samsara compilation, Detroit raised and currently Tokyo residing electronic musician Lee Negin has released the one song single, Frack Art, Let’s Dance. The title evokes both the cover art and music, and it doesn’t take more than one spin of this tune to wonder if it’s some long lost track from the electronic 80s. This is dark, Gothic, Psychedelic electro-pop with a freaky edge and a catchy melodic hook. I like the stilted, robotic but oh so danceable rhythmic pulse. Very cool song but it only scratches the surface of what Negin’s music is about. CLICK HERE to go to the ‘N’ page of the AI alpha index and read the other Lee Negin reviews I’ve written since discovering his music last year.

For more information visit the Lee Negin web site at:
Visit the Passing Phase Records web site at:
Downloads Surfing Samsara and other Lee Negin albums at CDBaby:
Lee Negin’s music is also available at iTunes and Amazon

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Levente – “Firmamentum” (LeventeZone Records 2015, CD/DL)

Levente Toth was born in Transylvania’s Hungarian ethnic region, and I was interested to read in his bio that he built his first analogue synthesizer while living in Ceausescu’s Romania. That must have presented challenges. He relocated to the UK in 1995 where he has been recording and releasing his electronic music.

Firmamentum is Levente’s fifth album and my introduction to his music. The 6 tracks were inspired by astronomic observatories and places of worship, reflecting both scientific and spiritual influences. These inspirations manifest themselves in both the music and the song titles.

This is pure journey into space electronica. As Lifted Into Orbit (Hubble Space Telescope) opened the set the inspirational electronic Space-Prog flooded into my brain through the headphones and washed itself down to my feet. This is music for lifting the spirit and soaring through the cosmos, with majestic symphonic keys that create an interstellar magic carpet ride. Overhearing The Stars (Arecibo Observatory) is similar though I like the bouncy Kraftwerkian synths that at times add an interesting embellishment to the reflective deep space bliss. Levente does a good job of matching titles to musical themes. Vaults of Heaven (Canterbury Cathedral) conjures up images of an astral alter of worship, the sensation being gorgeously angelic and anchored by an underlying chant drone, and alternating between a rhythmically propelled medieval theme and the contemplative haven of the cathedral. The appropriately titled Constellations Of Arabesques (La Mezquita, Cordoba) is one of the more subdued pieces, creating a windswept cosmic desert nomad landscape, though it includes more than its share of Levente’s dreamy ambience and symphonic space exploration. Cosmic Addresses (Mount Palomar) starts off introspectively solemn, and even includes Berlin school bits among the soaring space symphonics, which is no surprise given that this is Levente’s memorial to the recently deceased Edgar Froese. After a while it develops into one of the more rhythmically charged tracks of the set, adding a bit of head bobbing Rock to the Space-Prog symphony. Finally, Monsoon Skies (Angkor Wat, Cambodia) is a peacefully euphoric symphonics, drones and trippy Psychedelic piece that closes the set.

In summary, if you like deep space electronic excursions with a Progressive edge and careful attention to thematic development then you’ll like Levente’s music. Headphones seem insufficient… if you’ve got access to a planetarium that would be the ideal setting.

To stream and purchase the download of Firmamentum and other Levente albums visit:
The CD is available through Amazon (CLICK HERE)
Downloads are also available through CDBabay, iTunes, Spotify, GooglePlay, Earbits Radio, XRP and EGH Radio

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Squeegeed Clean – “Sudden Illumination or a Kick in the Third Eye” (self-released 2015, DL) / “It Insists Upon Itself” (digitalDIZZY 2015, DL)

It’s been a few years but we’ve got two new full length albums from Avant-Jazz inspired Psychedelia-in-Space combo Squeegeed Clean, led by the Down Under duo of Funkmeister G and D.J. Urinal Cake. These guys go way back to the early Aural Innovations days with submissions from their band Vocabularinist and its many offshoots so it’s always fun getting new music from them.

The track titles on Sudden Illumination or a Kick in the Third Eye are a hoot. Cancer Is About The Closest Thing We Have To A Pop Song features wild and wooly Out-Jazz like Coltrane with weirdly whacked piano and wound up spacey effects. Thinking About The Non-Existent Vibrations From A Chinese E-bow That Doesn’t Exist is like an extended avant-garde symphony warm-up, being a lightly cacophonous and noisily ambient combination of Free-Jazz horns, Sun Ra synth runs, percussion, windswept effects and spoken word narrative, creating a chaotic mantra for disturbed meditation. Like Someone On The Hunt In A Village Spying Around Corners Until They Get To The Creperie is a howl at the moon glom of Out-Jazz horns, periodic rocking percussion, and oddly melodic orchestral noise synths and horns.

Symmetrical Dribbles is a brief bit of tripped out Psychedelic backwards fun and effect that sets the stage for the 34 minute journey that is An Expensive Place That Smells Like Grandmas. It starts off with guitar and bass noodling, like a Derek Bailey/John Fahey brand of Blues, accompanied by soundscapes, voice samples and sundry sounds. As the music progresses it teeters between stilted Avant-Rock, spaced out chamber ensemble, ambient Space Rock and Psychedelic sound experimentation cum soundscape exploration. Imagine a morphing of classic Kosmiche, Avant-Blues, Noise/Jazz Orchestra, Henry Cow, The Residents and Sun Ra at his most experimental and you might get something like this tripped out tumble down the rabbit hole. And we get cool guitar contributions from Don Campau. Finally, Not The Normal Pigs But The Zombie Pigs From Down Below closes the set with a bit a tribal Out-Jazz and duck quackery.

You still with me? Because the fun continues with It Insists Upon Itself. The set opens with Get Yr Hoot On!, which combines drugged, cacophonous Free-Jazz with soundscape waves, including wailing efx’d horns that periodically melt into lysergic ambient blasts. Speaking of horns, this is the first Squeegeed Clean album to feature trumpet instead of saxophone. An Englishman & An Irishman Walk Into A 4 Track showcases art damaged Free-Jazz meets drones and mind-fuckedly altered state ambience. Both tracks include barely intelligible conversations that crop up from time to time. This segues seamlessly into What Format Are Your Flames In, which continues the spectral Free-Jazz jamming but adds an off-kilter rhythmic pulse and freaked out noisy synths that recall Sun Ra at his wildest. A Bit Of The Old Inner-Outer (Space that Is) opens with freaked out Psychedelic Blues alongside steady Jazz drumming and a pleasantly melodic trumpet melody, but soon develops into a deep space excursion where a Free-Jazz jam is wrestled into a barely containable soundscape stew. Burning My Wigs On Your Radiator features 14 minutes of what is some of the album’s most heavy rocking music, but also the most peacefully aural acid trip space adventurism of the set. I like the way rhythm, ambience, drones, voice samples and effects are morphed and manipulated into a cleverly whacked out cosmic goulash of messed up Jazz and spaced out fun. The equally lengthy Taking Turns To Turtle consists of the most sedately ambient music of the set, with quiet soundscapes and efx’d instruments drumming, trumpeting and guitaring along with the rhythmic ambient drift. I love the high intensity, explosively caterwauling orchestrated finale!

Nobody takes Free-Jazz and Psychedelia out into freaked out space like these guys. And if you’ve read this far you’re a sick person who desperately needs the medicine this music can provide.

Both albums can be found in the Freaky Shit section of all good record stores. Or, better yet…
Stream and download Sudden Illumination or a Kick in the Third Eye and other Squeegeed Clean releases at:
Stream and download It Insists Upon Itself and other digitalDIZZY label releases at:

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz