ST 37 - "From Space w/Love" (Blue Circle 2003, CDR reissue, GI 37, originally released 1989
on cassette by SPASMS Cassettes/Marianna Trench Music)
ST 37 - "The Secret Society" (Blue Circle 2004, CDR reissue, GI 73, originally released 1998 on LP by Lost Records)
ST 37 - "Live 2003" (Blue Circle 2003, GI 76)
Uploaded to Aural Innovations: July 2004
There's a wealth of ST 37 music available from Blue Circle these days, including reissues of old cassette and vinyl releases and other bands the boys have been in (see Elegant Doormats and Moray Eels reviews this issue). But here are just three examples of what's waiting for you on the ST 37 front in the Blue Circle mail order catalog...
From Space w/Love was the second album length recording from ST 37, originally released on cassette in 1989, and is a killer set of music. What's great about these guys is they bring together a number of genres, sounds and styles into something very much their own. Space rock... punk... psychedelia, avant-garde elements and good ‘ol ROCK.
"Voice In The Closet" is a rousing avant-rocker with bits of space rock, punk and a very cool Beefheart touch in the guitars. "Snootle y Choobs" takes the Beefheart sound even further. Imagine Beefheart's Magic Band as a group of space rockers and you might get something like this. I dig the whimsical synths and zany lyrics too. "Retz (The Capital Of Venus)" is one of the highlights of the set. From the opening swirly synths and searing guitar you know this is gonna be a freak rocker done up ST 37 style. And indeed it's a monstrous rocker with the trademark ST 37 David Byrne-on-acid vocal style and a real showcase for Joel Crutcher's killer manic guitar work, which is like a tripped out combination of Snakefinger, Beefheart and Helios Creed. "The Cornfield" is another standout track that goes totally into intense, freaked out rockin' space. "Orange Juice" is a fun party punk and space garage rocker. The band swim in more purely experimental waters on "D I S C S (That's All It Is!)", a sound-art collage of voice samples. It's fun stuff, with samples from The Wizard Of Oz, a stand-up comic, snoring and television commercials, all happening at the same time. "No Treats For Mr. Obsolete" is a live track that treats us to some spaced out free-improv. Round it all out with some other great songs, a cover of Chrome's "March Of The Chrome Police", and bonus extra version of "Voice In The Closet" added for this reissue, and you've got a killer set of punked out space and avant-rock.
Keith first reviewed ST 37's The Secret Society LP back in AI #6. But in honor of the albums CDR reissue I'll share my own thoughts about the music, especially given that it includes five non-LP bonus tracks totaling about 20 additional minutes of music. In short, this is a hot set of totally psychedelic and darkly gothic space rock.
The band come roaring out of the starting gate with "Translunar Injection", an intense mindfucked space rocker that's like Hawkind and Chrome gone Goth. "Secret Society" is a kick ass punky space rocker with an ultra chunky head pounding rhythm section. "All The Same" is a wild tune. We've got 60's surf with a dark, Gothic space punk edge and more than a hint of the Space Ritual. The craziness continues with "Sunburst Yodel #9", a freaked out blend of country & western and some Dylan song that I can't quite place. "Always Say The Right Thing" is like Dr. Caligari at the circus with Timothy Leary as the ringmaster. "Dearest Glooba" features lots of tripped out atmospheric spaciness and spoken word. But then we get a trio of space heaven, starting with "Section 37", a sonic cacophony of drones, noise-psych, alien synths, freaky spoken word, and abandon-all-hope space madness. Head for the hills kiddies cause the Martians are rollin' into town!! Eight cosmic minutes of pure space. And the trip continues on the following tracks, "Astral Wars" and "Ur-Punk To The Moooooon!". The 5 bonus tracks are all strong and really add to the ooooomph of this already potent set, the strongest ones being the beautifully freaky Space Ritual styled space voyages heard on "Austin Blues" I & II, and "Know Words" is trademark ST 37 space punk and early 70's metallic Hawkwind.
ST 37 Live 2003 is just what it says it is. We've got just a hair under 80 minutes of songs and jams from live performances in Baltimore, Maryland, Brattleboro, Vermont, and Houston, Texas. Founding member Carlton Crutcher had by this time left the band, leaving the more than capable quartet of Scott Telles (bass, vox, tapes), Mark Stone (guitars), Joel Crutcher (guitars, vox) and Dave Cameron (drums).
"Chris Xcom Tape Jam 2" opens the set and is a nearly 10 minute lysergic intro piece. Swirling acidic space guitars meander along at a drugged pace, until about halfway through the intensity level starts to increase. Kind of like a volcano in it earliest phases of eruption. The 11 minute "First Light" is similar, featuring peacefully jamming psych guitars with a bit of an Eastern vibe. After a few minutes a more acid metallic guitar sound is introduced, though it mostly looms menacingly in the background as we continue to float along in psychedelic dreamland. There's no dedicated synth player in the lineup but Stone and Crutcher take things well in hand to turn this into heavy psychedelic trip guitar heaven.
The remaining tracks consist of the band rocking hard like punk rockers at the Space Ritual, and the sound is very good throughout. We've got great versions of "Translunar Injection" and the oddball "Sunburst Yodel #9", both from The Secret Society album. "No Magic Bullets" is a killer and one of the heaviest tracks from the I Love To Talk, If There's Anything To Talk About CD. The set is understandably heavy on tracks from the at that time recently released Down On Us CD. "Rollercoaster", an old 13th Floor Elevators song, is an absolutely stunning heavy psych rocker with moments of genuine cosmic intensity and really shows what a killer psychedelic ROCK band ST 37 are. A smoker of a set. Highly recommended.
For more information visit the ST 37 web site and click the For Sale link at:
Email Scott Telles at: email@example.com.
Contact via snail mail c/o Blue Circle; PO Box 4962; Austin, TX 78765.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz