Aural Innovations Staff Picks for Best of 2015

Happy New Year!!!

Jerry Kranitz (in NO particular order)

Cary Grace – Tygerland
My lists really are in no particular order, but I’m listing Cary first because she was my best new discovery of 2015 with her stunning variety of Space/Psych/Prog/Pop songs.

Oresund Space Collective – Out Into Space
A 3-CD set that documents a performance celebrating the 10th anniversary of the collective’s first live performance featuring members from all eras. Absolutely fantastic all improvised and all instrumental Space Rock.

Alan Davey – Sputnik Stan Vol. 1: A Fistful of Junk
Alan Davey’s latest is a cracking fun adventure with Sputnik Stan and his ship computer Mel Function as they whiz around space collecting junk. All well done and craftily mixed and stitched together to create a good time junk hero, Drive-In movie Space Rock adventure.

Magic Moments At Twilight Time – Flashbax Ω Ultimate
A kick ass Space Rock retrospective collection of MMATT music featuring all the different band line-ups with selections from their 1987-1992 cassette albums.

Crystal Jacqueline & The Honey Pot – Electronic Memory AND Crystal Jacqueline – Rainflower
I’ll take a liberty and count two albums as one. Crystal Jacqueline and her partner in crime Icarus Peel has been creating a bevy of beautifully composed, executed and produced Psych/Folk/Pop/Prog songs and killer covers of both classic and obscure tunes.

Cranium Pie – Mechanisms Part 2
A 2-LP set with single stretch out tracks on each sides that’s a tour de force of Prog-Psych-Kosmiche Rock that recalls 1969-73.

Jet Jaguar – Mysteries Of Antimatter (honorable mention to Free Space, Billion Year Spree and Retrofit! reissues)
When it comes to heavy duty punked out Space Rock that exists at the perfect point on the Hawkwind meets Chrome axis, Jet Jaguar are the masters.

Brainticket – Past Present & Future
Fifteen years after the last Brainticket album, founder and ship commander Joel Vandroogenbroeck teams up with the musicians in Hedersleben to create music that draws on the past but is heavily informed by many of years of experience since.

Zone Six – Love Monster
It took 11 years for a new full length Zone Six but it was worth the wait. Love Monster is a killer combination of stoned Space Rock and sinister Psychedelic jams. The freak flag is flying and displaying the skull and crossbones.

Lamp Of The Universe – The Inner Light Of Revelation
New Zealand based multi-instrumentalist Craig Williamson’s long running Lamp Of The Universe continues to spellbind with totally trippy, mind-bendingly lovely, psychedelically spaced out music.

Vespero – Fitful Slumber until 5A.M.
This Russian Space/Psych/Prog ensemble continues to evolve, and on this latest album serve up one of their most compositionally and instrumentally sophisticated and exciting sets to date.

Krankschaft – Three
Steve Pond and co. crank out a damn fine set that combines Hawkwind styled Space Rock, Space-Punk, 70s Hard Rock and bits of Prog and Glam. Call it what you want, this is an excellent all around ROCK album.

Space Mirrors – Stella Polaris
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. Russian musician and producer Alisa Coral never fails to create something exciting and well outside the box.

Beautify Junkyards – The Beast Shouted Love
This Portuguese band have created an enhanting album for a diverse audience – Folk-Psych, Wyrd-Folk, Prog, Space Rock, Krautrock and more.

Church of Hed – Electric Sepulcher
The solo project from Quarkspace founding member Paul Williams is a luscious instrumental journey that consists of quirky spaced out electronica, Space-Prog symphonics, sci-fi soundtrack and electro grooves.

Census of Hallucinations – Nothing Is As It Seems
The always adventurous yet accessible CoH produce another impossible to pigeonhole blend of Prog, Pop, Kosmiche, Jazz, Blues and Psychedelia.

Giöbia – Magnifier
This Italian band kills with their varied set of throbbing Space Rock, Stoner Space Rock, Kosmiche Prog and more.

Magic Bus – Transmission from Sogmore’s Garden
Dual guitars, bass, keyboards, flute, recorder, drums and vocals create a 1970s Canterbury and Folk inspired brand of Progressive Rock, with bits of Psychedelia and an Earth/Space lyrical focus.

Mooch – Sunshine
Mooch ship commander Steve Palmer continues to indulge his love of 60s Psychedelic Pop and in the process creates his best 60s song Mooch ablum yet. The album really lives up to the Sunshine title.

Us and Them – Summer Green and Autumn Brown
Us and Them create some of the most beautifully delicate and pastoral Folk based Psychedelia I’ve ever heard, but they can go deep into space as well.

Christian Mumford

This year saw alot of great albums. I would have to liked to include some Legendary Pink Dots and relations too, but all in all it seems to be stronger on the Metal and Psych fronts (though I would not say the Dots aren’t Psychedelic!). We said a sudden farewell to both Philthy and Lemmy, yet Hawkwind and relations are going strong: Brock, Davey, Nik, etc. The Drones For Daevid album is a very nice farewell to Gong man Daevid Allen in star studed Psychedelic company as well. In the spooks corner we have Jacco Gardner’s second haunt (which is far better than his debut) and Ghost (AKA Ghost B.C.) who are kind of a hype band but I liked their third effort a lot. Steven Wilson’s latest album is a winner and a stayer. Ditto the Øresund guys we all (don’t) know and (still) love. Church of Hed and Paul Williams create a sublime electronic rock album as well. Mournblade returned with a great re-recording of an old album, and old stalwarts like Iron Maiden left the dumb Prog noodling behind for a Metal style again. Here’s to a great 2016 folks…

TOP 25 of 2015!:

Motörhead – “Bad Magic”
Various artists – The Real Music Club – “Drones For Daevid”
Jacco Gardner – “Hypnophobia”
Secret Saucer – “Phase Five”
Jet Jaguar – “Mysteries Of Anti Matter”
Paul Roland – “Bitter And Twisted”
Ghost – “Meliora”
Alan Davey – “A Fistful Of Junk Vol. 1″
Nik Turner – “Space Fusion Odyssey”
Monster Magnet – “Cobras And Fire”
With The Dead – “With The Dead”
Christian Death – “The Root Of All Evilution”
Moonloonies – “Moonrockin”
Dave Brock – “Brockworld”
Steven Wilson – “Hand.Cannot.Erase”
Space Mirrors – “Stella Polaris”
Church of Hed – “Electric Sepulcher”
Øresund Space Collective – “Different Creatures”
Iron Maiden – “The Book Of Souls”
Mournblade – “Time’s Running Out 2015″
Eat Static – “Dead Planet / Human Upgrade”
Ozric Tentacles – “Technicians Of The Sacred”
Hawklords – R:evolution
Faith No More – Sol Invictus
Sendelica – Live From The 7th Psychedelic Network Festival

Jeff Fitzgerald (Top 25 of 2015)

25. Ecstatic Vision – Sonic Praise
24. Giobia – The Magnifier
23. The Lay Llamas – Space Jungle Mantra
22. Yuri Gagarin – At the Center of All Infinity
21. Cary Grace – Tygerland
20. Cranium Pie – Mechanisms Part 2
19. The Grand Astoria – The Mighty Few
18. Harnessing the Universe – s/t
17. Crystal Jacqueline – Rainflower
16. Wanderwolf – Wolfsongs
15. Maat Lander – The Birth of Maat’s Galaxy
14. Ozric Tentacles – Technicians of the Sacred
13. Sammal – Myrskyvaroitus
12. Nik Turner – Space Fusion Odyssey
11. The Butterscotch Cathedral – s/t
10. Ryley Walker – Primrose Green
9. Witchwood – Litanies From the Woods
8. Moon Rà – L2
7. Eternal Tapestry – Wild Strawberries
6. Brainticket – Past, Present and Future
5. Astral Son – Silver Moon
4. Mondo Drag – Mondo Drag
3. Steven Wilson – Hand. Cannot. Erase.
2. Mammatus – Sparkling Waters
1. Jess And The Ancient Ones – Second Psychedelic Coming: The Aquarius Tapes

Keith Henderson

In a year in which we lost both Daevid Allen & the Great Lemmy Kilmister (just this week…ugh), it’s hard to imagine that music itself can continue. But the next generation is already here, check out some of this great new music! Out of about 100 candidates I heard this year in the space-/psych-/stoner-/kraut-/post-rock realm, my Top 30 (original, full-length) releases of 2015 are as follows:

1. Yuri Gagarin (Sweden) – At The Center Of All Infinity

2. Foellakzoid (Chile) – III

3. Lamp Of The Universe (NZ) – Inner Light Of Revelation

4. Black Space Riders (Germany) – Refugeeum

5. Parastatic (UK) – Recall Fade Return

6. Ciolkowska (Russia) – Pistolet Budushchego

7. Brainticket (Various) – Past, Present & Future

8. Hills (Sweden) – Frid

9. Kap Kap (Finland) – Flux Of Solace

10. Oresund Space Collective (Denmark/Sweden) – Out Into Space

11. Golden Void (US) – Berkana

12. Maat Lander (Russia) – The Birth Of Maat’s Galaxy

13. Pyramidal/Domo (Spain) – Jams From The Sun

14. White Manna (US) – Pan

15. Mammatus (US) – Sparkling Waters

16. The Band Whose Name Is A Symbol (Canada) – Masters Of The Molehill

17. Cambrian Explosion (US) – Joint (split LP with Foxy Lemon)

18. Vespero (Russia) – Fitful Slumber Until 5 AM

19. Farflung/Fatso Jetson (US) – Split LP

20. Sun And The Wolf (NZ/Germany) – Salutations

21. Naxatras (Greece) – Naxatras

22. Giobia (Italy) – Magnifier

23. Zone Six (Germany) – Love Monster

24. Cosmic Letdown (Russia) – Venera–2

25. Space Invaders (Germany) – Dreadnought

26. Mechanik (Spain) – Eadem Mutata Regurgo

27. Nik Turner (UK) – Space Fusion Odyssey

28. Astral Son (Netherlands) – Silver Moon

29. TAU (UK) – Wirakuta EP

30. Black Rainbows (Italy) – Hawkdope

Archival Reissue Of The Year:
Levitation (UK) – Meanwhile Gardens (’93/’15) – the album as it was originally intended, recorded before Terry Bickers left and was replaced by Steve Ludwin who then re-recorded the vocals and a version of the album was released in Australia. The transcendent “I Believe” finally sees the light of day on an official release.

Album Cover Of The Year:
Farflung/Fatso Jetson – Split LP

Recent Return From Long Hiatus:
Solaris (Hungary)
With the release of the Martian Chronicles II (late 2014) and live performances/releases since.

Special note of those bands releasing worthy albums in 2014 that I did not hear until 2015, including Mantra Machine, l’Ira del Baccano, Vera Lingua, ZOFFF, Kalamata, Les Lekin, Krankschaft, Holy Mount etc.

Comments are closed.