Archive for March 28, 2013

Machines Learning – “Pendragon’s Lullaby” (Self Released, 2012)

San Diego alt-rockers Machines Learning, comprised of guitarist/vocalist Paul Williams Balmer, bassist Bradley Botbyl and drummer Mario Quintero, have released a 26-minute EP’s worth of material recorded in a three month period at the start of 2012. Alternately noisy, droney and trippy, the album recalls some of the classic guitar-based rock that was coming from both sides of the Atlantic in the early ’90’s. For example, opening track Bulletproof Tiger practically screams My Bloody Valentine at you, with excellent droning and distorted waves of shoegaze guitar, over a militant 4/4 beat and across some elegantly wasted vocals. The briefest of pauses in the middle quickly gives way to a menacing wall of sound pushing the listener remorselessly into Punching The Rabbit. This opens with some very fuzzed out bass from Bradley Botbyl, bringing to mind Ash’s noisier moments, and some crytic lyrics; what the words mean is a definite second to how they sound. The somewhat more sparse Pendragon’s Lullaby recalls The Smashing Pumpkins’ Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness album that was playing at evey student party back in 1995. satAMcoffee opens with droning feedback and slower tempo, grinding you implacably down over its four minute length, while 010710 has a lighter touch with very melodic bass and melancholic lyrics to match. Closing track, This Destroyed Me, dispenses entirely with vocals, rocking on in woozy fashion for about five minutes with grinding guitars and an almost post-rock sound, that descends into a white noise coda. Fans of that era of classic “downer” rock should check out the raw guitar noises, droning feedback and powerful rhythmns contained within this excellent debut release.

For more information visit Machines Learning at:
Email at:

Reviewed by Pat Albertson

The Audionics – “The Big Note” (Trigrammatone Music 2013)

The Big Note is the debut release from Michigan based Audionics (which means “the science of audible electricity”). The band are the quartet of Leo Gillis II on vocals, Sheldon Santamaria on saxophone, Djeto Juncaj on guitar and santoor (an Indian hammered dulcimer), and Kerry Gluckman on drums and percussion. I’ll get Aural Innovations readers attention by mentioning that Gluckman was in THTX, though The Audionics are far and away from the space rock that THTX played.

The CD consists of 9 tracks in a relatively brief 36 minutes, but The Audionics make their point clearly and concisely in that timeframe. The album opens with Three Minute Opera, the first half of which is kind of country-punky, then shifts to a more angular, off-kilter rocking segment, and the saxophone has a droney yet melodic sound that I liked. Things really start getting interesting with Poison Ring, on which each musician, including Gillis’ vocals, seem to be operating in their own space, like a free-form Beefheartian rock and jazz jam that comes together as a song. The sax, guitar and drums work together nicely in terms of cooperative contrast, while Gillis sounds like he could be free versing the vocals. The promo sheet references Van der Graaf Generator and on Six Months To Live I hear bits of them during the heavier guitar and sax moments, but I hear just as much of the whimsy of Etron Fou LeLoublon as well, which is one hell of a wild and whooly combo. The jam moments are brief but killer on this track. The title track is like a doomy metallic blend of Van der Graaf Generator and 80s King Crimson, and Gillis’ vocals even sound a bit like Adrian Belew during the chorus, though his style of delivery is otherwise largely his own. Minimime is a heavy, chunky rocking jam, with the guitar and sax chugging along together, taking multiple compositional twists and turns on this less than 3 minute song.

In an email exchange, Kerry Gluckman pointed out that the tracks were organized with a vinyl release in mind (which they hope to do), where side one starts with the more aggressive songs and morphs into eclecticism as it progresses onward into side two. I’m guessing The Madness Of Vincent Van Gogh is where side two would begin as we’re getting into different territory with Juncaj pulling out his santoor. The dulcimer and Indian vibes make for a unique and interesting sound combined with the sax and Gillis’ vocal style. It’s melodic and has a nice groove, but also takes some strange and fun detours, partly into what sounds like an avant-garde children’s song, and I like the freaky spaced out finale. Ex Angel 13 is melodic and flowing, yet at the same time has that angular, off-kilter feel. Hold Your Breath is dark and moody, like a spacier take on the earliest jazzier King Crimson. Think Cat Food covered by Soft Machine. And Black Grapes reminds me of The Muffins, a band who took the old Canterbury-Prog sound into new dimensions in the 80s. This track has the most traditional saxophone sound I’ve heard on the album and Santamaria takes the lead with some beautiful soloing. It really sounds like there’s a bass on this song. I should mention that the promo sheet describes how the band compensate for the lack of a bassist by playing the sax through an octave divider and Gluckman modified his kick drum and wide-open floor tom to create a bass sound. It must have worked because I didn’t even think about it until this last track when I thought I was really hearing a bass.

The songs are mostly in the 3-4 minutes range (a couple reach 6 minutes) and these guys accomplish a lot of compact compositional complexity in that time. They also knock out a lot of music with just guitar, sax and drums, though, to his credit, Gillis has a vocal style that is very much a fourth instrument. Analogies are really tough with these guys and ultimately only reference points. I heard elements of the so-called New York City downtown sound that bands like Material, Bill Laswell, and Mofungo were creating in the 80s, though Van der Graaf Generator, King Crimson, and Captain Beefheart are present as well. Lots to recognize but ultimate quite different. A fun and creative effort that steps off the beaten path.

For more information visit The Audionics web site at:
The most up to date information can be found on The Audionics Facebook page:

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Carlton Melton – “Smoke Drip” (Agitated Records 2012, 12″ EP / “Photos Of Photos” (Agitiated Records 2012, CD/LP)

Carlton Melton – “Smoke Drip” 12″

A recurring theme with most of bands I choose to review is that I don’t happen to live on the same land mass as them. Therefore I have to take to Youtube to find concert footage from which I then attempt to suss out the band in question. Searching for Carlton Melton lead me to a video of a punchy three piece classic rock/heavy metal band playing in a back yard somewhere. The guitarist wrings feedback from his trusty hollow Gibson guitar, the drummer (who looks like he just came from a biker rally) pounds the skins enthusiastically and somewhere in the background the bassist stands motionless beside a vintage acoustic bass amp in a stance honed by a certain John Alec Entwistle. The drummer pounds, the bass plods and the guitar solos up into the proverbial back yard cosmos and all have a good time. I was surprised then to find that the Smoke Drip EP contains an entirely different music, suitable for an entirely different occasion.

Track one consists entirely of one chord. In fact, it reminded me of an ‘art’ piece I once took part in during which, over the course of half an hour, weights were placed on the keys of many Casiotone keyboards placed strategically around a small venue until the air was thick with a single tone. Here the band lay down a solid drone in the key of A. There are some bubbling sequencer synths, and some slightly rough guitar solo parts, but overall this track is one happy drone. Electronic organs and echoing guitars carry this one thread of noise along, whilst a low-tempo drum part keeps the music flowing. This track gets louder until the whole stereo field is filled with droning A chords, soloing guitars and swirling phasers.

Track two, Smoke Drip, is slightly darker by contrast. Moody guitar parts, orbiting synthesizer lines and slow phasers work together to paint a portrait that seamlessly blends the space age, the jet age and the American Mid-West in some sort of bizarre retro-futuristic landscape. Again the structure is sparse (I think this time the chosen ‘lost chord’ is G major, but don’t quote me on that). The track slowly cycles through periods of heavier synth sounds and periods of slow Zenned out and bluesy guitar work.

The final track is Against the Wall. To my ears this sounds like either a live recording, or at least a live-in-the-studio outing. I would liken this track to one of the many early-1970s Hawkwind bootlegs in existence. It is difficult to tell exactly what is going on between the sheer fuzz of the guitars and the swirling synth work. In the middle the drummer struggles to find the beat, but once dialled in the band find a crude Motorik that is equal parts Hallo Gallo and X In Search of Space.

Carlton Melton – “Photos of Photos”

Thumbing through a recent CD sale, I chanced across Carlton Melton’s Photos of Photos release in a major high street music store. Not only did this make me realise I had a small stash of albums to review back home, it made me realise how strange the world is; this store had Carlton Melton albums but didn’t stock a single Pink Floyd album.

Photos of Photos was released in 2012 on the Agitated Records label, and contains six tracks, though vinyl copies exist with bonus tracks. Notably, some copies carry a version of the unloved Pink Floyd off-cut When You’re In which ploughs up a solid two and a half minutes of the equally unloved Obscured by Clouds album. Musically the album is more adventurous than the Smoke Drip EP, with the band exploring a few different textures on the way. Album opener Nor’easter plods along with a two-chord progression that slowly builds to weighty climax. The power of these two simple chords seems to have an almost talismanic quality, as the band layers on more and more effects and bubbling synth sounds. However, by keeping this recurring theme playing in the background, they lend the track an impressive gravity.

The title track features an altogether dreamier quality, with backwards (and forwards) synth melodies flowing over a dreamscape of mellow synth pads. In the background a bass, or baritone, guitar mines deep and guttural melodies that too sound like they’ve been manipulated to a lower tempo. This serious down tuning and speed correcting gives the track an underwater quality.

Track three, Space Treader, builds from elongated guitar chords. This track builds to become quite an epic guitar workout, with various overdubs vying for attention. The music here is similar to that of the Smoke Drip EP, relying on a barely existent structure and limited palette of chords. Instead the heavier use of dynamics is employed, as this track too builds in volume. Post-peak, the track winds down with some wistful Moog soloing akin to Richard Wright circa Wish You Were Here. Apt but not flashy, and adding a mournful edge to the music.

Overall Carlton Melton provide something of a musical paradox in that they are all-out garage rockers on the surface and calm introspection underneath. The Floyd cover, and an obscure one at that, hints at a band that studied Careful With That Axe Eugene and took the track to heart as an entire concept of composition. All the tracks build in intensity, but rather than building to visceral screams the band instead map out vast tundras, river deltas and glacier-scarred scenery musically. The band make use of guest musicians (on ‘Echoplex’, because Maestro’s much loved tape echo is an instrument in its own right in the hands of George Duke and co) and studio overdubbing to paint the cinematic vistas of their music, whilst maintaining their live show as a medium for straighter hard rock compositions.

For more information visit the Carlton Melton web site at:
Visit the Agitated Records web site at:

Reviewed by Alan Bragg

Sunwolf – “Beyond The Sun”(2012, digital download/LP)

Sunwolf are a post rock band, of sorts, comprising a drummer and guitarist. The band hail from Leeds in West Yorkshire which has, in previous times, given us the brooding goth of The Sisters of Mercy, the uncompromisingly grinding funk of Gang of Four and those great bastions of unreconstructed lad culture; The Kaiser Chiefs. I say that Sunwolf are a post rock band of sorts because they also cite their music as being ambient, progressive and stoner. I would probably categorise their music as originating in the same camp as Neil Young’s Dead Man soundtrack; a special kind of selfless guitar music that worships and renounces rock and roll in a single sweeping gesture.

Track one, Genesis, opens with buzzing guitar lines that loop and layer to create a constant velutinous soundscape.. A fairly simple but sombre guitar line is played over the top. Musically this is very similar to the works of the band Earth circa Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light I, where simple and clean guitar lines are coupled with phenomenally slow drum work to create a vast landscape of music. Whilst not the easiest of listens, this music is evocative and seems to carry a great emotional weight. In my opinion music of this nature is always a little unfinished, needing either bonafide visuals or slightly more structure to truely work. Neil Young had the visuals of Dead Man to work with, and this similarily empty guitar work somehow cries out for a storyline of similar pathos to complete the picture.

Track two follows a near identical pattern; ambient buzzing guitar lines, clean (neck pickup on some obscure ’70s Fender guitar, no doubt) guitar work of a brooding and intense nature and slow drum patterns. What is interesting is just how processed the drums of Sunwolf tracks are. Whilst the guitars sound organic and are typically saturated in reverb, the drums have a dry but distant quality that makes them sound boxy and cloying in contrast with the sheer range of the guitar parts.

Morose Land would perhaps indicate, from the title alone, another dense mining of Dylan Carlson’s psyche, so comes as a shock when a fairly standard rock tune leaps out the gate. Like the inclusion of the constantly unfolding track Talahassee on Earth’s Pentastar: In the Style of Demons, this simple and circular rock track seems weird precisely because it follows such a straight and grooveless meter and varies little from the script. It isn’t drone rock, yet the music has a dervish repetition. The next track, Beyond the Sun, still sounds very much like Earth and could even be mistaken for non-album Sunn Amps and Smashed Guitars-era track as a hand a handful of Iommi riffs (and tasty riffs at that) are coupled with an almost machine-made drum pattern. This track again feels slightly unfinished (or perhaps needing a bass line?) as the heavy guitar parts don’t seem underpinned by heavier earthworks. However it could be argued that the heaviness of the track is achieved through this slightly dehumanised and unfinished sound.

The final tracks return again to melancholia of the first tracks. Perhaps here the influence sways more towards the God Is An Astronaut, Godspeed! You Black Emperor and Mogwai camp. Free from the limitations of the blues this genre perhaps becomes a little too morose, and self congratulatory, for my own personal tastes, though it is easy to admire the determination by which these bands exit the long path of blues-orientated music to find new musical landscapes. Sunwolf appear to accurately tap into this genre, perhaps by way of the sometimes bleak and sometimes industrial landscapes of their own surrounding countryside. Whilst some slightly more adventurous or fulfilling instrumentation would not have gone a miss, the hammond organ and lap steel guitar of Time Stands Still provides a tantalising glimpse of richer orchestrations. This music is bleak in many ways, but beautifully delicately constructed.

For more information visit the Sunwolf web site at:

Reviewed by Alan Bragg

Herd of Instinct – “Conjure” (Firepool Records 2013, FR004)

Herd of Instinct’s 2011 debut was a fiery set that covered a range of styles, from complex instrumental progressive rock that recalled both Discipline and Red-era King Crimson, ambience and soundscapes, gothic prog and dark, doomy ragas. On the first album the band were the core trio of Mark Cook on Warr guitar, guitar, and fretless bass, Mike Davison on guitars, and Jason Spradlin on drums, plus a variety of guests on various tracks, including veteran drummers Jerry Marotta, Gavin Harrison, and Pat Mastelotto, and Djam Karet’s Gayle Ellett on guitar and Mellotron (both albums are released on Djam Karet’s Firepool label). The first thing that jumped out at me reading the credits for the band’s sophomore effort – Conjure – is that Gayle Ellett is now listed as a fourth member, playing Moog, Mellotron, Hammond organ, Rhodes and dilruba (which I think is something of a cross between a harp and sitar).

The album opens with Praxis, which kicks off with a Discipline-era King Crimson styled intro, but quickly switches to an ambient-jazz rocking sequence. Porcupine Tree’s Colin Edwin contributes fretless bass to this track. There is a tremendous amount of gymnastic level transitioning throughout this 5 minute piece, and I love the balance and integration of rock and ambience. There’s also a piano segment that brought to mind Goblin’s Suspiria soundtrack as played by King Crimson, if you can imagine that, and there’s a killer flute solo near the end. Other highlights on this 12 track CD include Dead Leaf Echo, which sounds like a combination of Djam Karet at their most rocking and mid-70s King Crimson, but there’s also chunks of heavy metal hurled about, and I like the brief teasing moments of ambience and quiet. Vargtimmen is a similar combination of Djam Karet and King Crimson, though easier paced and more focused on rhythmic variation. We’re treated to killer guitar licks on this track, both efx’d rocking and Frippoid, and in the last minute the intensity level goes sky high. Ditto for Malice, another high powered dual guitar and keyboards workout.

Herd of Instinct explore different territory on Alice Krige Pt. 1, which opens with spaced out soundscapes and blurpy bleepy electronics, soon joined by Pink Floyd-ish ambient guitar licks, ethnic grooving percussion, trumpet and flute. It’s all very understated and meditative, given the potency of the previous tracks, yet there’s still multiple elements interweaving with one another in fascinating ways. Solitude One is quite different, being something of a prog rock and often highly cosmic take on Indian pop-dance music. Near the end the band get back into King Crimson mode, which makes the Indian dance motif all the more fun. I really dig the haunting beauty and doomy power-prog of Mother Night, and the spaced out effects are a nice touch too. Parts of New Lands conjured up images of Herd of Instinct playing a combination of surf rock and old time sci-fi TV show theme, while retaining their own core sound. A Sense Of An Ending starts off as light (for these guys) prog-jazz, with more fretless bass from Colin Edwin, and gets increasingly intense and even a bit doomy as the track develops. Then right around the halfway mark it veers into classic prog territory, with a beautiful combination of ripping guitar solo and heavenly orchestral keys, eventually returning to the opening theme for a peaceful finale. And in similar spirit, The Secret Of Fire closes the album in full blown heavy prog mode, with a variety of stunning guitar sounds, organ, Mellotron, and spacey ambience, all coming together like a symphonic blend of everything that came before for a monster finale.

In summary, analogies are easy with Herd of Instinct but they are ultimately difficult to describe. King Crimson is a strong influence, but Herd Of Instinct are by NO means a clone act. That is, the influence is overt but these guys are making it their own and drawing on a synthesis of all kinds of elements and styles. This is complex instrumental progressive rock, both compositionally and in execution, yet Herd of Instinct manage to make it accessible. Recommended.

For more information visit the Herd of Instinct web site at:

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Steven Wilson & band, Sentrum Scene, Oslo, Norway, March 18, 2013

I arrived at about 9 PM and discovered to my surprise that the venue was seated. Yet not so strange I guess, with Sentrum originally being a movie theatre in the 80s. I have seen everyone there from Motörhead, Cathedral, Faith No More, Monster Magnet and many other acts and there had not been seats present. Anyway, as I arrived, ghostly synth sounds set on loop accompanied by a light projection of the moon on the latest CD The Raven That Refused To Sing And Other Stories went on for about 20 minutes until the band arrived on stage. They kicked right into Luminol, the opener off the latest album. The place was nearly packed with people who all seemed familiar with the material. Then there was Drive Home, a lengthy piece which I enjoyed as well. When the band were about to play Postcard, from the Grace For Drowning album, Wilson sat down by his keyboard and explained it was his attempt at writing a 3 minute pop song, with some success. The Holy Drinker was on next if I am not mistaken. Before the band started on The Watchmaker we were treated to a nightmarish psychedelic film featuring the characters from that song. I believe Lasse Hoilie is responsible for this as well. The song started when the film clip ended. An hour and a half into the show had gone and I needed to catch the last bus home as I live an hour long bus ride outside Oslo. It was an immensely enjoyable show, with a full band, both Wilson on guitar and keyboards, another keyboard player, Theo Travis on flute and saxophones, another guitar player and a chick on bass as well as a drummer who looked a lot like Christian Vander. I wish I had stayed another hour to see the whole performance, but that would have meant waiting for the 12:30 bus for an hour outside. Wilson at the start of the show promised the band would play the entire new album through, so I guess in addition to some added older material I missed about half the show. Catch them on tour if you can.

Reviewed by Christian Eric Mumford

Paul Roland – “In Memoriam: 1980-2010″ (Gaslight Records 2010, GASCD 666)

British singer, song-writer, musician and author Paul Roland has released over 15 albums since 1980, covering a range of Psychedelic-Pop, Gothic-Psych-Baroque, Gothic-Prog, Prog-Psych, Dark-Folk, and every imaginable cross-section of these styles. I’ve heard scatterings of Paul’s music over the years but the 2-CD compilation, In Memoriam: 1980-2010, is my first immersion into what his music is about.

He’s a pretty fascinating guy, as I learned from reading the many interviews at Paul’s first real captivation with music came after discovering Marc Bolan, and was even managed by Marc’s widow June Bolan in the early 80s. Paul was also a music journalist in the 80s, writing articles, reviews and interviews for Kerrang and other UK music and film publications. I got a kick out of the sizable list of subjects Paul interviewed, which included a range of artists including Lemmy, John Lee Hooker, The Velvet Undergound, Slade, Yo Yo Ma, and… get this… Hammer horror icon Peter Cushing! Pretty cool, huh? Paul has also written many non-fiction books on such topics as reincarnation, angels, ghosts, meditation, the Nuremburg trials, murderers, a Marc Bolan biography, and more.

Paul has divided the In Memoriam compilation into two parts. The first CD consists of 17 full band songs. Among the highlights is Blades Of Battenburg, a powerful Prog infused rocker with a symphonic edge. I love the eerie wailing keyboard on the simultaneously dreamy and whimsical The Puppet Master. The acoustic Goth-Prog Requiem is a standout, with its beautiful flute and violin passages. Dr Strange, Gabrielle, and Nosferatu all bring to mind Power-Pop for Goths. High intensity organs are common on many of these songs. As you might expect from the title, In The Opium Den is a mind-bending, atmospheric tune, and just as much of an excursion as it is a structured song. Dig that trippy sitar. Paul invites us to “take a magic carpet ride” and “join my desert caravan” on A Thousand And One Nights, another standout song, being a cool grooving psych rocker that’s nicely acidic and even a little Celtic. Ditto for Cthullu, with its orchestral melloton-ish keys and winding psych guitar trading licks with violin. We’re also treated to plenty of chunky kick-ass ROCK on songs like Witchfinder General, Aleistair Crowley, Gargoyles, and Come To The Sabbat, the latter of which veers off into a killer dueling percussion and violin segment.

The second CD has 19 songs which Paul describes as the baroque chamber pop and Edwardian folk tracks. I like that description, and to my ears the songs fall roughly into two general categories. We have acoustic Pop-Psych with orchestral embellishments and a 60s vibe. Standout tracks that I’ll mention include the beautiful Great Edwardian Air-Raid. Alice’s House stands among the best of 60s orchestrated Pop-Psych, and especially resonated with me as I recently finished reading Lewis Carroll’s Alice stories for the upteenth time. Ditto for the heavily orchestrated folk based Poets And The Painters. And Captain Nemo is a stunningly beautiful song, being a spaced out Prog-Pop-Psych journey to dreamland.

Then we’ve got several Folk-Psych songs with gently flowing strings, flutes, and keys. Lon Chaney, Wyndham Hill, The Ratcatcher’s Daughter, and Moriarty all grabbed me on the first listen. The horn melody on Journey To The Pole brought to mind the old Alfred Hitchcock Presents TV theme run through a Renaissance Fair grinder. Lots happening on this 4 minute song. The Sea Captain is a somber song that conjures up powerful images of the crusty old captain telling his tale. The strings on this song will bring tears to your eyes. Dice With The Devil is an upbeat song that’s far more rocking than most of the tracks on disc 2, but one that I envisioned being sung by the same sea captain of the earlier track. Voodoo Doll has a cool beat, yet is dreamily drifting and even a wee bit sultry. And Abramelin is another stunning beauty, with heavenly keys and choral vocals.

Paul is an excellent songwriter and lyricist and has a somewhat unique voice; the only analogy I can think of is Edward Ka-Spel of the Legendary Pink Dots. And while he is singing, he has a sort of narrative delivery style on a lot of the songs that I like and helps give him his own distinctive character. The production is outstanding, with top notch musicians, and music that is complex yet thoroughly accessible. Guest musicians that have contributed to Paul’s albums include Robyn Hitchcock, Bevis Frond, Nick Nicely, Knox of the Vibrators and Andy Ellison (of John’s Children), and I’ll say that Hitchcock and Nicely fans are sure to enjoy Paul’s music. Oh, and I should emphasize that despite the In Memoriam title and the wreath on the cover, Paul is very much alive and has released two new albums since this compilation came out in 2010.

In Memoriam and other Paul Roland albums are available at Amazon and, with CDbaby being a good source for digital downloads.
Lots of information about Paul Roland and his music can be found at:
Information about Paul Roland the author can be found at:
Paul’s back catalog has been reissued by the German label Syborg Music:

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Nektar – “Journey To The Centre Of The Eye” (Purple Pyramid Records 2013, CLP 9957, originally released 1971)

A British band whose career was launched while based in Germany, Nektar released 7 studio albums between 1971-1977, the first 6 of which included the “classic” lineup of Roye Albrighton on guitar and vocals, Allan “Taff” Freeman on keyboards, Derek “Mo” Moore on bass, and Ron Howden on drums. I love these albums, which can vary considerably from one to the next, while retaining a distinct Nektar flavor, and are among the 70s albums I revisit most often. The band would pop up again in the early 80s and have been active again since around 2000, though the 70s albums are, in my opinion, the true classics. Cleopatra Records’ Purple Pyramid subdivision has reissued the first Nektar album – Journey To The Centre Of The Eye – in a 2-CD edition that features the original album remastered, and a 1971 live performance of the entire album.

Journey To The Centre Of The Eye is an early example of Space Rock and Prog-Psych that tells the story of an astronaut leaving Earth in a rocket when the planet is on the verge of nuclear world war. Aliens are encountered, new galaxies are discovered, and, ultimately, mind expansion and a new awareness just as the astronaut witnesses the destruction of Earth. Each track on the back of the LP (which I still have) has notes that tell each bit of the story, though they are extremely difficult for these old eyes to read as shrunk down as they are to fit on the back of the CD.

In the CD notes, Dave Thompson writes that the album “earned comparison with everyone from Man to Pink Floyd”, and it baffles me that Hawkwind isn’t mentioned. The guitar and effects on various parts of the album are similar to the freakiest moments from Hawkwind’s early albums. Remember, this is 1971. The experimentalism of early Pink Floyd is also a good analogy, as evidenced on tracks like Warp Oversight, which is like Astronomy Domine and Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun wrapped into one. As the tale starts to unfold we get the trademark Nektar guitar/organ interplay and we’re in classic era prog-psych heaven. Moments of high intensity weave in and out with passages of sheer dream-like beauty. Nektar excel on this album at both thematic development and creating a mind-expanding listening experience. In short, putting this into 1971 perspective, attentive listeners could marvel at the band’s flair for wrapping prog infused hard rock, psychedelia and alien effects into an impressively complex and seamlessly flowing sci-fi tale, and those who just wanted music they could trip out to would have one of the best albums of the year to meet that need. And while in terms of the music this first album is the most overtly space rock, Nektar would explore similar themes on subsequent albums, Remember The Future being the best example.

The bonus CD features the entire album performed live on November 13, 1971 in Darmstadt, Germany. It’s called an “official bootleg”, and while the sound quality justifies the bootleg tag, it’s pretty decent and well worth the opportunity to hear the band live so early in their career. In summary, Journey To The Centre Of The Eye is essential for both space rock fans anyone into 70s prog-psych.

For more information visit the Purple Pyramid web site at:
Visit the Nektar web site at:

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

The Space Sharks – “The Space Sharks” (self released CD, 2011)

The blistering power-trio rock sounds of The Space Sharks is a surprisingly fresh mix of Classic Rock and 60’s garage psychedelia with just a tad of tripped out guitary Spacerock in the mix. The band was formed in Baltimore, MD, in 2009, by Lonnie Richards on lead vocals and guitar, Mike Martino on drums, percussion and backing vocals, Bob Bergerson on bass as well as Brian Harrigan on additional backing vocals. On the info promo-sheet the band says they recorded all the songs on first or second take, so not to over work or over produce their sound. It works! The sound is fresh, loud, blistering sunshine acid melody with swirling psychedelic guitars and occasional flute. This self titled, self released, debut CD has 9 songs, the short album clocking in at just about 33 minutes. It is very energetic and melodic sounding, bursting with spontaneity, this is some feelgood summer music I really enjoyed on the very first spin. It’s accessible like Classic Rock and 60’s garage sounds, with some Floydian spacey moments, with acid guitars and phased vocals. The highlight tracks for me are the opener, Run For Cover, as well as Satellites, Apocalypse” and Spinning ‘Round. The album was written, produced and recorded on their own home-equipment, and its beefy and well crafted stuff for those with a sense of psychedelic simplicity, good melody and peaced-out optimism. A highly recommended purchase for all 60’s fans out there who want song based spacyness and acid rock that does not sound dated at all, but refreshing like a cold 7Up on a hot and humid day in July, maybe, after spending hours of a stoned day at the beach gazing at the ocean, just taking in the free time. It was released in 2011. I for one enjoyed the magic feelgood sunshine acid sounds of The Space Sharks, and their far out galactic spacerocking scene of mystical seekers, and we here at AI welcome them aboard our… ‘zine!

The band can be found at and http//
Order the CD at

Reviewed by Christian Eric Mumford

Dog Hallucination – “?!” (Intangible Cat 14, 3″ CD-R, 2011)

Dog Hallucination have here a 23 minute 3″ CD that is an experimental and abstract enigma of industrial / ambient / noise / glitch experimental-ness mapped over 4 tracks. It reminds me a little of German noise-artist Siemers (who also puts out 3″ CD-R weirdness), and Norwegian group Ulver around their ambient period like the Teachings In Silence CD about a decade ago. It is subtly noisy with a subdued psychedelic guitar droned ambience, indeed. The main part of the music is distorted guitar textures and digital beats and washes of atonal white noise. Dog Hallucination consists of Bob on keyboards, sampler, engineering, percussion, manipulations, field recordings, first stage mixing, and self portraits (I can assume the pics of the weird guys on the cover art), while D. Petri is responsible for editing, mixing, photography, design, manipulation and guitars. Doggy P. Lips is the person responsible for guitars and ideas. It was recorded 2006-2007 on digital 8 and 16 track, portable minidisc and 4 track cassette, edited and mixed August 2011. I can only assume this ensemble have hallucinated themselves to beyond description or human abstraction, like bits of synaptic fallout from Savage Republic’s noisy guitar-echoes of ancient cultures and motorik kraut-distortion as interpreted by electro-ambient-glitch-era Ulver, and mixed and assembled by the found industrial machine like noise-architecture of Siemers, maybe. Either way, file this Dog Hallucination EP under “weird”.

Contact at or email
Snail mail at P.O. Box 33, Spring Valley, IL 61362, USA

Reviewed by Christian Eric Mumford